So I got a little sensitive with the last couple of chapters. However, this storyline was written several months ago and it’s not like I’m going to change it, so I think I’ll just shut up and let you guys read it.
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 39—Shattering Dreams
I’m horrified to discover that my husband has flown the proverbial coop when I return to the Crossing. Liam apologized for his forward behavior and ran, embarrassed, from the Center. We’re lucky that he didn’t want to press charges against Christian for grabbing him that way. Christian was incensed and ready to kill that man. I had to put that fire out quickly or I would have been trying to bail my husband out of jail. He’s already got one strike against him—a big one, and it’s on the books!
As much as tempers were flaring, I couldn’t allow it to happen again. Allowing Liam to leave without talking to him might have led to just that. Even though he’s a bonehead for trying to kiss me in the first place, he would have been within his rights to make a police report because he was in the course of his job duties when this shit all happened. I would have defended my husband by telling the powers that be that Liam was making an advance at the time, but who needs that shit? Put the fire out now and deal with Christian once I’ve successfully kept him out of jail.
Or so I thought…
I knew there would be no talking to him at that moment, and I knew that he wouldn’t calmly wait around while I tried to talk to Liam. So, I asked him to go home and wait for me…
Then I get here, and he’s gone.
I’ve called him like a hundred times and he won’t even answer my calls—won’t yell at me, won’t tell me to go to hell, nothing. Gail only knows that he and Jason are gone. So, I know that means that he’s leaving town. She doesn’t know where; she doesn’t know how long… or at least she’s not telling me. She just knows they’re gone.
“What happened?” she asks. “What’s going on?”
Nobody was privy to what happened in the community room tonight but me, Liam, and Christian… and he hasn’t told anybody. At least, I don’t think he has told anybody.
I’m not telling them either.
I leave message after message after message on his phone until it finally just goes straight to voicemail…
“We said that we would talk about it if anything like this ever happened and you’re shutting me out. Please… call me.”
“How can you do this to us? To our family? Our children? I didn’t even kiss him! I’m being punished for something that never happened!”
“This is really fucking mature, Christian. Really mature! You need to stop acting like this and call me so that we can talk about this.”
After leaving something like twenty messages until his voice mail is full, I revert to text messages, still calling and hoping that he’ll answer the phone…
**Please, Christian, this is getting out of hand. It’s been four days… you can’t just cut me off like this. I’m your wife. **
I discover on the fifth day that he could, in fact, just cut me off. I dial his number like I do every five minutes or so of every day and after a while, I’m greeted with the same message that I got when Daddy blocked my number.
My heart clenches. That can’t be… this can’t be. I dial the number again, slowly choosing each digit to make sure that I’m dialing the right number.
“The party you have dialed…”
I sit frozen in my seat at my desk, my throat constricting, my vision blurred, and my chest feeling like a giant hand is squeezing the life’s blood from my heart and it’s literally bleeding onto the floor. He’s blocked me. He’s gone and he’s blocking my calls. He doesn’t want to talk to me. Doesn’t want to hear my side. Doesn’t want to work this out. He’s gone… and he’s cut all contact. The words I said to Liam that last night come back to me in haunting relevance…
I know a hopeless situation when I see one.
I dial his number once more and when the haunting voice begins to tell me that my communication is unwelcome, I let out a soul-shaking scream and mightily launch my phone across the office until smashes hopelessly against the opposite wall and disintegrates into a thousand tiny little pieces. I drop my face into my hands and wail my dismay.
He’s left me.
I spend the next four days locked in the office at the Center, still trying to revamp our plans for accreditation. I don’t feel any hope for anything, but I must keep up the façade that I’m functioning just fine because if I don’t, I have to answer questions about me and Christian, which I utterly refuse to answer right now.
I made the mistake of calling Jason a few times to see if I could get any information from him or try to get him to talk to his boss on my behalf. My attempts at both were flaming failures though he made a point to let me know that my estranged husband was okay, and he would do his best to keep Christian safe.
I can’t taste food and at this point, I don’t know how many of my own tears I’ve ingested. I just know that I must feed my babies and if I don’t eat, I can’t feed them.
One day runs into the next as I spend my days in my office at the Center, doing my job and my nights in the nursery with the twins. I’ve become a permanent fixture in their window seat, looking out over the water with a perfect view of the bridge to and from Seattle. I think I’m subconsciously waiting to see if a familiar black Audi will come across the bridge at any moment. I know better, but I watch anyway, holding the phone that Marilyn replaced for me in her ever-present efficiency. I dare not dial the number again. I can’t stand the automated voice repeating that my husband doesn’t want me anymore. So, I just hold the phone and hope that he’ll have mercy on me and call me one day.
By the second Friday, I’ve had enough of waiting for that mercy. The walls are closing in on me and I need to get out of that house—away from the Crossing, the happy memories, even our beautiful children. I just don’t want to think or feel anymore. I’m so tired of this never-ending dismay and I just want it to stop. On my way out to the garage, I stop at the bar in the entertainment room and grab a bottle of Tennessee whiskey. Then I get into my car—my beautiful scuba blue metallic Audi with the huge moonroof that my once-loving husband bought me as a push gift and drive to the gate. After I threaten to drive through the gate if whatever guard on the night shift didn’t open it in three seconds, he opens the gate and I punch the gas.
I open the moonroof and turn IheartRadio to the driving station. This is not the kind of music that I normally listen to. The problem is that the kind of music that I do listen to would only remind me of Christian or love or love lost or some other sappy shit and I just can’t deal with that right now.
Years ago, I found an old access road at Discovery Park that no one seemed to know about and it looks to still have gone undiscovered. I happily go down the road and park at the lookout point over the water. I turn off the engine and let my seat back. I stare out the moonroof at the stars and crack open the bottle of whiskey. Taking it straight to the head, I throw back a large gulp. It burns like hell going down and I welcome the singe in my throat.
Just last week he was making love to me nearly all night long… or was that the week before last? It doesn’t matter, he does it all the time. Well… he did it all the time. Now, he can’t stand the sight of me… or the sound of me. As I feel the tears building up behind my eyelids, I hear my phone ringing in my purse. Hope springs in my chest as I answer the phone without even looking at the caller ID.
“Hello?” I say with anticipation.
“Ana? Are you alright?” It’s Chuck. My heart sinks immediately, like someone hit me in the chest.
“Oh, God, leave me alone,” I say before ending the call. I take another large gulp of the whiskey attempting to burn away the pain and disappointment that call caused me. It doesn’t help. I should have known it wasn’t Christian anyway. It wasn’t our ringtone.
Oh, God, this pain…
I swallow another gulp of the whiskey, hoping to burn away the slicing agony—or at least get so drunk that I forget it for a while. My riding music is beginning to sound like typical angry instrumentals, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a perfect contrast to my sorrowful maudlin mood, so I just let it play.
I feel myself begin to settle in the seat and the several swallows of alcohol are beginning to kick in. Of course, it only makes me relax, because except for wine, I’m a logical drunk. If I want to forget, I have to keep drinking.
Chuck’s face in my moonroof scares the shit out of me and for a moment, I think I’m hallucinating.
“Son of a bitch!” I cry out, startled almost to the point of pissing myself.
“You can’t do that, Ana,” he scolds.
“I can do whatever the fuck I want,” I say. I really don’t give a damn what he thinks. Really… I really don’t give a damn.
“You leave the Crossing without telling anybody where you’re going. Now, you’re sitting out here on a goddamn cliff, keys in the ignition, drinking whiskey straight from the bottle. You’re lucky the police didn’t catch you!”
“What are they going to charge me with? Drunk in public? I’m not in public, I’m in my damn car. Driving under the influence? I’m not driving, I’m sitting still.”
“How the fuck were you going to get home?” he scolds.
“I was going to call you! I’m not a complete idiot!” I say, taking another swallow from the bottle.
“Give me that.” He reaches for the bottle and I snatch it away before he can get to it.
“No!” I declare. “Get the fuck away from my car.” He glares at me in disbelief. “Somebody knows where Christian is,” I say, unwelcome tears falling down my cheeks. “Somebody knows what’s going on and nobody’ll tell me. So, get the fuck away from my car!”
He examines me for a moment, then nods.
“Fine,” he says. He opens the door, reaches in and takes my keys from the ignition.
“Hey!” I protest, stumbling out of the car behind him. “Give those back! I can’t listen to my music!”
“Nope. When you’re ready to go, I’ll take you home. Until then, these stay with me.”
“Asshole,” I say, now sobbing.
“I’ll give you that one, because you’re hurting, but you’re still not getting the keys.” I shake my head. I couldn’t possibly hate this man any more than I do right now. I stumble away from him and sit on the hood of my car, having a few more swallows of whiskey and lamenting my situation even more now that I don’t have music to occupy my mind. I feel my body shaking with sobs before I hear them, and the sound of my crying breaks my heart even more and makes me want to cry harder. I feel like Luma when I took her to the woods and let her wail and mourn Richard’s death—a deep-seated, burning, consuming pain that truly makes me want to die just so that it would end.
And the whiskey is only amplifying it—dulling my reflexes, but not the pain.
Angry that it’s not doing its job and lost in a sea of pain and confusion, I leap off the hood of my car and chuck the damn bottle over the cliff, hoping it’ll shatter into a thousand pieces…
When I open my eyes, I have no idea where I am. It takes me only a few moments to realize that I’m in the hospital—head spinning, ankle throbbing, but no worse for wear.
Ankle throbbing. What happened?
I try to remember what happened the night before, but I can’t. I only remember chucking that damn bottle off the cliff and then, nothing. I must have slipped somewhere, because my ankle is wrapped tight. Besides a horrible hangover, there’s nothing else wrong with me that I can tell.
But there’s definitely something wrong.
When I look around the empty room, the fact that I’m here alone isn’t the only indication that whatever happened to me didn’t incite him to come. It’s the empty feeling, the lack of fullness to my spirit that lets me know that he’s still miles away. I begin to remove the electrodes from my chest and the other monitors hooked up to my arms, my fingers, my wrist…
A doctor, a nurse, and Chuck all rush into the room—Chuck’s face full of worry. Not the face I was hoping to see.
“Mrs. Grey, please,” the doctor says, “we want to keep you for observation.”
“I’m fine,” I say, now ripping the wires from myself. I need to get out of here. “I’m leaving.”
“You took a really nasty fall, Mrs. Grey. You were lucky. It could have been worse. With your prior brain injury…”
“I’m going home!” I demand. Home… is there any such place anymore? Now, I know how Christian felt when I went to Montana. Now, he knows how I felt… betrayed. And he felt lost… lost and empty and lifeless with nothing to offer anyone. I get out of the bed only for my head to spin like thunder and my weight to crumble under the pain in my ankle. I’m suddenly overcome with uncontrollable anger and release a string of curse words that would make a sailor cringe.
“I’m fine!” I yell, as the anger is quickly replaced with remorse, sorrow, hopelessness, emptiness, and despair. “I’m fine,” I weep as I try to push myself off the floor, the pounding in my head and throbbing in my ankle making it impossible for me to get up. I crawl over to a chair and try to lift myself into it and off the floor, constantly repeating my mantra…
I’m fine… I’m fine… I’m fine… I’m fine…
If I say it enough times, maybe I’ll believe it.
I finally give up, both angry and forlorn that I can’t get off the floor on my own. I bang my fists angrily against the tile, throwing a tantrum like a little girl. My hands hurt, but my brain doesn’t register that I should stop beating the floor. In moments, Chuck is on the floor with me, trying to wrap me in his arms. I feel myself beating my fists on his chest, hear my mantra squealing from my throat and burning in my ears until the blackness surrounds me.
I’m fine… I’m fine… I’m fine…
I awake alone in my hospital room again. I don’t know how long I’ve slept, but I just want to see my children now. I turn on my side and face the window… away from the clock. I don’t see what time it is. I curl up into myself and gaze out the window—at the sun, the clouds in the sky… at nothing. My mind is clear, and I don’t formulate any thoughts. No conclusions. I just think about my babies… about Minnie and Mikey… and that I ache to just go home and sing to them… and hold them… There’s nothing else left.
The sun has moved some more in the sky and I still don’t know what time it is, still haven’t eaten anything, and still haven’t moved. The door finally opens and I don’t even turn or stir to see who it is. By the movement behind me and around the monitors, and by the empty feeling in my gut, I already know who it is.
“When can I go home?” I say softly after several silent moments. The movement behind me stills and the nurse finally says, “I’ll get the doctor.”
She leaves, and I never even saw her face.
The door opens again, and the room shifts to an air of familiar… still empty, but familiar.
“When can I go home?” I repeat. I have no more energy left to fight. Another moment of silence.
“Are you feeling any better?” Chuck asks.
“No,” I respond flatly. “When can I go home?” Chuck sighs.
“Ana, I know you didn’t try to hurt yourself on that cliff, but I had to convince the doctors that you were drunk, and you slipped and didn’t need to be put on a 72-hour hold. They’re watching you to make sure I was telling the truth.” I sigh as he walks around the bed to the front of me. I slipped… off the cliff… oh.
“I feel like I’m going to die, Chuck, but I don’t want to die, okay? If nobody else needs me, my babies need me.”
“I’m not the one that needs convincing,” he says as the door opens and the room fills with yet more emptiness.
“Mrs. Grey,” the doctor asks. I don’t even know his name. “How are you feeling?”
“The same as before,” I respond truthfully. “When can I go home?” He looks at Chuck, then back at me.
“We… would like to keep you for a few days,” he says, approaching the topic cautiously, “for observation.”
“Observation of what?” I ask without raising my head.
“Can you tell me what happened on the cliff?” the doctor asks.
“Can you tell me what’s wrong with me?” I retort, calmly. “Do I have internal bleeding or another head injury?”
“No, you don’t,” he responds.
“Then what do you need to observe?” I ask again.
“Mrs. Grey, can you please tell me what happened on that cliff?” I sigh heavily.
“Doctor, we can go around in circles until I finally call my attorney. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that when I tried to leave earlier, you sedated me for no other reason but that I was having an anxiety attack on the floor.”
“You were assaulting your bodyguard,” he says in a non-threatening tone.
“She was not assaulting me!” Chuck interjects. “And if you say that’s why you’re holding her, I’m going to call you a liar!”
“Two other people saw her attack you, Mr. Davenport.”
“Two other people saw her having an anxiety attack, just like she said, but you’re not listening to anything I say and now you’re not listening to her. What, are you trying to make a name for yourself? Forget it, I’m calling her lawyer.” Chuck pulls his phone out and proceeds to touch the screen.
“Please, Mr. Davenport, I assure you that’s not necessary. We’re just looking out for her well-being.”
“Then tell her why you’re holding her here instead of causing her additional stress! She’s had enough! Or can’t you tell… Doctor?” he snaps. The doctor sighs.
“Please, Mrs. Grey, I swear I’ll tell you everything if you can just tell me your version of what happened on the cliff.”
“I can’t,” I reply. “I was drunk. I know that I was drinking whiskey. I remember Chuck took my keys. I remember throwing the bottle off and that’s the last thing I remember before I woke up here. Is being drunk in public suddenly an offense to be held prisoner in a hospital? Do you haul all drunks in for observation?”
“No, but not all drunk people find themselves hurt on the side of a cliff,” he points out with no malice.
“Oh, and I suppose I’m the only person in history who has ever done something stupid while under the influence,” I retort. “You know, that’s why they don’t let us drive.”
“Mrs. Grey, I can assure you…” and here it comes. The politically correct mumbo jumbo line of bullshit where I have to listen to him tell me why he has to keep me locked in this room—or better yet, on the psyche ward. I really don’t have the strength to convince this fucker that there’s nothing wrong with me when there really is something wrong with me. I’m sick with grief and pain and confusion and no fucking sense of direction with no hope or light at the end of the tunnel, because my husband has left me. I’m sad, angry and clumsy, and apparently not too bright sometimes—but I’m not fucking suicidal. The trouble is that I’m not willing to fight the necessary battle to persuade him that I’m at least of sound mind. I put up my hands and slash them across the air. I don’t have any fight left in me.
“You know what? I don’t care. Do what you have to do,” I concede.
“Ana!” Chuck protests.
“I don’t care!” I say, looking at him. Nothing’s going the way that I want it right now; just fucking let me stay. I’ll consider it a mini-sabbatical in a horrible hospital room. Nobody needs me but my babies anyway.
My babies… I sigh heavily.
“Just call my nannies and get me a breast pump,” I say, laying back on the bed and facing the window again.
“Oh! You’re nursing!” the doctor exclaims. How the fuck did he not know that? Now, I show the only little bit of emotion that I can muster.
“Yes!” I snap. “I’m nursing! And I don’t want my milk to dry up while you’re observing! So, can I please get a breast pump?”
It turns out that my ankle is only sprained and should be back to normal in a few days. The doctor sends me home on Sunday with crutches and tells me to stay off it for a few days. As it turns out, my impromptu request for a breast pump when no one seemed to know that I was nursing prompted Dr. Whatever-His-Name-Was to let me the hell out of there, noting that someone intent on self-destruction wouldn’t readily be concerned about her milk drying up.
How the hell did he not know I was nursing? I only lactate every four hours! Like a goddamn faucet! Although I didn’t lactate while I was in the hospital… I wonder why. Nonetheless, needing to be the milk factory for my twins got me sprung from the pokey.
I thought I wanted to come home to my own bed and lay down, just to recuperate in my own space, but when I get to the bedroom—our bedroom—the sight of it sickens me… I mean, physically sickens me. I literally become light-headed and I’m afraid I’ll vomit. I turn under the watchful eyes of my brother and bodyguard and go to the children’s room instead.
Minnie is the first to spot me. She starts this wail like she’s fussing at me for leaving her. Gail and Keri look up and watch me hobble over to her crib on my crutches.
“There, there, Mouse,” I comfort her, “Why all the fuss?” I rub her little tummy and she calms immediately. Mikey must have just settled for his nap, because he lay in his crib, eyes closed, totally content and occasionally sucking on his binky. I hobble over to the rocker and Chuck helps me sit down.
“Bring her to me,” I ask. Keri brings the squirmy little thing to me and sets her in my arms. She settles almost immediately, but still looks up at me with her questioning little eyes.
“I know, Mouse,” I tell her. It’s been hard to settle her with Christian away, but she—like me—is settling into discontent acceptance. “We’ll be fine soon.” I start to rock her and sing my babies’ lullaby until she finally falls asleep.
“Gail, can you help me, please?” I say, when I leave the children’s room. Gail looks at me with questioning eyes.
“Sure,” she says, her gaze sympathetic. I go into the owner’s suite, straight past the bedroom and into my dressing room.
“Can you please look in the drawer right there and grab three nightshirts for me?” She examines me, then complies with my wishes. I go over to my lingerie drawer and retrieve three bra and panty sets. With no idea of what I’ll be doing, I retrieve three random business outfits, some jeans and sneakers and then go in search of sweatshirts, yoga pants and T-shirts.
“Will you get the toiletries out of my shower? And two bath blankets from the main bathroom?” She hesitates.
“Ana… are you going somewhere?” she asks. I smile a reassuring smile.
“Yes, but I’m not going far,” I tell her.
Once we’ve gathered everything I need for right now, I ask her to have someone help her move the things to guestroom one. She smiles sadly.
“Ana…” she protests.
“Gail, my husband is gone,” I say, bravely fighting tears that I probably don’t have left to cry anyway. “I don’t know if he’s coming back and if his behavior is any indication, he’s probably not. This was our room… and I can’t sleep in here anymore.”
There’s no argument after that, just a silent nod of concession.
“Let me know when those things are moved, please. I’ll be in the nursery.”
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Gail had more of the things that she knew I would need moved to the guest room. I feel the same stab of burning rejection in this room that I felt in Escala when he ignored me for those weeks after the fundraiser fiasco. The difference is that he was there with me, in the same house even if not in the same bed, and now, I don’t know where he is… and no one will tell me.
I run a bubble bath in the tub that’s just about half the size of mine, strip and carefully climb in. Of course, the tears start. My nerves are stretched to their very ends. It’s no wonder the doctor thought I was trying to kill myself. I couldn’t put a cognitive thought together if I wanted to. At first, all I wanted was for my husband to come back… to forgive me for having the slightest moment of weakness when Liam looked into my eyes, even though I didn’t let him kiss me. Now, I don’t know what I want. I didn’t do anything wrong. Yes, I was tempted by an attractive man, but I didn’t cross the line. And now, I’m suffering consequences for something I didn’t even do.
Can I ever forgive him for that?
Isn’t this the same irrational behavior that he pulled on me when he thought I was sleeping with Elliot? Of course, Elliot wasn’t breaths away from me trying to kiss me. Oh, fuck, I can’t think about this anymore. It’s all I’ve thought about night after night after night since this shit started and I just can’t do it anymore.
But I can’t stop the tears either.
I just let them fall into the bubbles, dissipating them with the heaviness of my sorrow.
“So, as it turns out, you were right about Gloria Felton,” Al says, while visiting my office at Helping Hands a few days later. “I delivered your conflict complaint to the Office of the Director with the threat of a possible personal discrimination lawsuit, and they pulled Helping Hands’ file. It was unreasonable how she was spending the taxpayer’s money to personally persecute you guys. The reports, inspections, and compliances that she was asking for were way out of line. Organizations with more quote-unquote violations than Helping Hands were accredited in one-quarter of the time that you all have been struggling for validation. You guys should have been accredited months ago.” I sigh, though not as relieved as I should be from the news.
“So, in effect, Liam’s presence was totally unnecessary.” It’s a statement, not a question.
“Not really,” Al says, “although his report helped to put it over the top that you all should have your accreditation by week’s end. No more stalling.”
That’s just great. The man inadvertently ruined my marriage and we didn’t really need him. Oh, joy. Gloria should be proud of herself. I gained accreditation and lost my happy home in the process. I may have won the battle, but she won the war. Maybe that was her M-O all along.
“Well, there is that, I guess,” I say with little enthusiasm. “What about Gloria?”
“Administrative leave,” he says. “It doesn’t look good for her. It’s very serious to let personal feelings interfere with your job, especially on the licensing board where you have people’s lives and businesses in your hands. The director already had complaints about her on his desk. He just couldn’t do anything with them and they weren’t official complaints because the people had gotten what they wanted. It was an ear-to-the-ground type of thing and he had no power until he got an actual complaint. You with your valid complaint that spread across seven departments and, as it turns out, could have been more, gave him exactly what he needed.”
“Well, that’s just great. What’s to stop her from talking badly about us after she’s fired or disciplined?”
“Way ahead of you.” He pulls out some papers and hands them to me. “A gag order—if she says anything about the current situation or you or any member of Helping Hands, we will ruin that bitch… and she knows it.” I smile weakly, looking at the paper.
“My knight in shining armor,” I say, patting him on the shoulder.
“Jewel?” I raise my eyes to him. “What’s going on?”
I knew it was coming. I look and feel like hell these days, no matter how I try to put myself together. It’s not like I could avoid his questions, but I just don’t want to talk about it… not even to Al. I guess not saying it makes it seem like it’s not really real, but it can’t get any more real than my empty bed.
“I just need you to be a friend and not ask, okay?” I say, almost beseeching.
“I just can’t stand seeing you like this,” he says. “Nobody sees what I see and it’s unbearable.”
“Just be a friend… please,” I repeat. “I’m holding it together by a thread.”
“But you don’t have to…” he continues.
“Al… please?” I beg, my voice shaking. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. He pauses for a moment.
“Okay,” he says, finally. “You’ll… call me if you need me?” His voice is beseeching, too. I nod, unable to look at him as he leaves my office. I take a deep breath when he has cleared the door and rein back the tears that threaten to fall. My heart still aches—a dull ache that never goes away—but I’m getting used to it now. It’s become a constant companion along with the occasional dream of Edward David taunting me that my marriage has fallen apart. The mind is a funny thing. At least it’s not fucking Harris.
It’s like that old Billie Holiday song tragically playing on repeat in my head…
Wish I’d forget you, but you’re here to stay,
It seems I met you when my love went away,
And now I start each day by saying to you,
Good Morning, Heartache, what’s new?
The heaviness in my breasts signals me that it’s time to feed the twins or pump. I’m on a cane now since my ankle is much better, but still a little weak. So, I hobble to the nursery to see if either of the little angels are awake.
Keri is there helping with some of the other children while the twins are asleep and, just like clockwork, Minnie starts to stir. I open my suit jacket and gather my pink little bundle from her crib.
“Hey, there, Mouse,” I say, cradling her and slipping a nipple into her eager mouth. “Did you know it was lunchtime…?”
Several minutes later, Minnie had drained both breasts, burped, and fallen back to sleep, which means Mikey will have to take a bottle when he wakes. I was hoping that we could keep them on the same sleep schedule, but as it is, if we wake them before they’re ready, they’re irritable and cranky and hard to get back to sleep. So, we let them set their own schedules, which means that lately, one is awake around 1am while the other isn’t awake until about 4am. I could lament the situation since they had begun to sleep through the night, but hell… I don’t really sleep much anyway, so it’s fine with me.
Grace is waiting when I get back to my office.
“You’ve been hiding,” she says.
“I’ve been working,” I respond, as I take my seat behind my desk. “Al just let me know that Gloria has been placed on administrative leave and we should have our accreditation by the end of the week. I’ll say that’s pretty impressive.”
“Yes, it is,” she says, “but it doesn’t explain why you’ve been hiding.”
“I just wanted some peace so that I could work. Is there anything wrong with that?”
“No,” she says, accommodating. “Not at all, when you’re working and not hiding.”
“Grace, I appreciate your concern, but please understand that there’s just some things I don’t want to talk about.” There’s that thread again.
“Like why you were fighting to get out of the hospital and Christian was nowhere in sight?” I grimace at her discovery. “I work at that hospital, Ana, and you’re family. Of course, I was going to find out.” I sigh.
“Again, there are some things that I would like to keep to myself,” I repeat. Grace sighs and I know that she, like Al, is reloading the gun to try to get me to tell her what’s going on. I haven’t told anybody—no one. I’m carrying it all myself. I don’t want anyone to know that I’ve possibly chased my husband away, broke up our family, and destroyed our happy home. I hear her saying some comforting word—or words that are meant to be comforting—but all they really translate into is “tell me what’s going on, I can’t stand the suspense anymore.” Before I know it, I’m up at out of my seat.
“Why does everybody have to know what’s going on in my head?” I shriek. “Why can’t I just for once be unhappy and everybody just respect my wishes and leave me alone?” And I’m out of the office and into my car, without my cane, without my purse, without my kids—racing towards Grey Crossing.
“Ana, where the hell are you?” Chuck is livid. I still have my phone in my jacket pocket, which is the only reason that it didn’t get left behind.
“At home… in bed.” I’m surprised the guards at the desk didn’t tell him that I tore into the gate, almost taking the iron off the damn hinges if the gate hadn’t opened fast enough. He sighs.
“I’m bringing Keri and the twins home,” he says, his voice that sympathetic tone that I’m beginning to hate.
“Um-hmm,” I say, before ending the call. I close my eyes and fall asleep.
I awake to the sound of the two-way communications beckoning me.
“Ana,” I say, my voice raspy and my throat dry. I hear my babies stirring. I throw my legs out of the bed and test my foot. I’m still fully dressed and exhausted.
“Ana,” Keri’s voice comes over the two-way. “You rest. We got the babies.” I nod as if she could hear me and lay back in bed.
I wake again, and the sun has gone down. There’s a U-Dub oversized jersey and some yoga pants at the foot of my bed—one of my favorite lounging outfits—and a note from Grace to call her if she can help in any way. I quickly strip out of my suit and shoes and put on my comfort clothing before climbing back into the bed and falling asleep again almost immediately.
This time when I awake, it’s daylight again. I know that I need to get up, but I can’t bring myself to get out of the bed. I have to feed my babies. I have work to do. I have to…
“So… Billionaire Boy left you high and dry after all. I knew he wouldn’t last…”
Edward emerges from into the white fog, dressed in his prison garb, his face stark white and devoid of life. Around his neck is a sheet twisted into a noose. I can imagine this is how they found him hanging in his cell.
“Why the hell can’t you fuckers stay dead once you die?” I ask no one in particular.
“Because we have to remind you of your mistakes. You should have stayed with me, Rosie. I knew the poor little rich boy would tire of you sooner or later—see you for the sloppy seconds that you really are. Right, Steve?”
“Of course…” Stephen Morton’s emaciated frame joins us in the fog. “Ann never could accept that she was nothing and will always be nothing. Maybe now, she’ll learn her lesson.”
“Oh, look, it’s Moonshine,” I say, unmoved. “Boy, my subconscious is really pulling out the heavy hitters tonight.”
“Not just yet. We’ve got one more,” Edward says. “Oh, Bob!”
My terrorizer joins the threesome in the cloud of white and now they surround me, taunting me.
“He left you for a kiss you never even got. How does that feel? I guess that twat isn’t as deadly as I thought it was. What a pussy!”
Robert Harris doesn’t look as intimidating as he once did, either—oozing bullet wounds all over his body. What the hell is this supposed to represent?
What’s so bad is that I’m not afraid of any of these apparitions. They’re just irritating the fuck out of me, circling me, and teasing me…
“You’re nothing. You always were, and you always will be.”
“Nobody’s ever going to love you or want you. What did you expect—happily ever after?”
“Your head got too big, Rosie; you should have stayed with me. I was the best you could hope for…”
And the obvious…
“He’s left you. He doesn’t want you anymore. You fucked up like you always do, and without even trying this time.”
Suddenly, a fourth figure joins us in the white fog, and I feel a warmth… a connection, the connection that I only feel… felt… with one other person. This is the closest I’ve felt to him since he’s been gone. Christian comes through the mist in that same suit he was wearing when he left. He walks to me with no concern for the apparitions around me. They keep taunting me, but with a wave of his hand, they’re gone—their taunts still echoing in the air…
“He’s left you…”
Christian cups my face with his hands and looks into my eyes.
“I haven’t left you… I’ll never leave you…”
I slowly open my eyes and it’s dark again. I’m not willing to get out of bed right now. There’s really no need. Someone’s been in to check on me. There’s fresh ice water in a pitcher on the night stand and my cane is leaning against it. I pull the covers up around my neck, trying to shake the cold, but the cold is inside, and I’ll never shake it. I’m unmoved by anything that happened in my dream except for one thing…
“I haven’t left you… I’ll never leave you…”
“Yes… you have,” I say aloud. I get out of the bed to go to the bathroom and fail to test my ankle before putting any weight on it.
And down I go.
“Shit!” I exclaim as I hit the floor with a thud, pain radiating through my body and from the fact that I think I twisted my ankle again. I feel helpless and useless and particularly unloved. The tears all come down on me at once and the feeling of loss and hopelessness is more than I can bear.
He’s left me.
My husband is gone, and he’s left me.
Suddenly, the urge to use the restroom floods out of my body as quickly as it came, replaced by the gaping emptiness, the never-ending pain of the abyss that’s swallowing me whole.
Able to do nothing else, I lay on the floor in the fetal position and weep.
“I’m fragile right now and I don’t need this damn stress. Now would you please tell me what the hell is going on?” Oh, good fuck, it’s my mother. I should have looked at the caller ID. I stopped after I blocked her calls and she could no longer call me nonstop.
“What do you need, Mom?” I ask stoically.
“I need to know what the fuck is going on with you and your wife and I don’t want to hear any bullshit about this being none of my business!” she demands. “I’ve never seen her like this before in my life!”
“You’ll have to ask her,” I respond.
“I have asked her and she’s not talking! Nobody’s talking! You’re nowhere to be found and nobody’s telling anybody anything—not even Ana. Nobody knows what’s going on and she’s walking around here like an apparition! A shadow of herself! Not even that! She’s hiding behind closed doors and when I finally corner her to talk to her, she sounds like a damn toddler! She looks like she’s about to have a goddamn nervous breakdown and nobody can fucking help her! At least tell me what the hell is going on so I can try to help her!” My throat tightens and almost feels like it’s closing on me. “Where the hell are you?”
“Europe,” I tell her honestly. “I had two deals that needed my attention and there’s a third one that I need to take care of.”
“Well, when do you plan to be home?” she asks, demanding. Boy, she’s really pissed.
“I don’t know,” I tell her. I’ve been trying to work through what I saw… what I think I saw, but I can’t. Right now, I just need to focus on the next deal. There’s really not a third deal and the first two could have waited—well, maybe not the first one, but I can find a third. After a long pause, I hear my mother sucking her teeth.
“I see,” she says, and I hear movement on the phone. “Well, like I said, I have no clue what’s going on, but from Ana’s reaction and your disappearance and likewise wish not to be forthcoming, I can pretty much guess.” I hear things slamming around and know that all diplomacy has left the woman on the other end of the line. “Not that you care, but your wife ran out of here after screaming at me to leave her alone and let her be unhappy in peace. She left her purse, her briefcase and her security detail behind… oh, and her children!”
“The twins?” I ask horrified.
“Charles got in touch with her back at the mansion,” Mom continues without reacting to my question. “Since it’s clear that you can take care of yourself, I’m following Charles and the rest of the security detail to the Crossing to see if there’s anything that I can do for Ana. She took the SUV and I have built-in car seats, so I’ll take the twins and Keri. It’s unfortunate that she drove home on her own as she’s not supposed to be driving since she was released from the hospital!” I leap to my feet at this revelation.
“Hospital?” I gasp. “What the hell was she doing in the hospital?”
“Oh, you didn’t know?” she asks sarcastically. “Don’t worry, Christian. Obviously, she didn’t die!” my mother shoots, anger radiating through the phone at me from 5000 miles away. “I’m sure you would have come home after that… then again, maybe not. Nonetheless, she’s fine. She’s still here functioning and taking care of your children—that is, when she’s not in the midst of what appears to be total, complete, and utter self-destruction. If you want to know why she was in the hospital, why don’t you ask her?”
She throws my words back at me and the line goes dead.
She dangles this news in my face and then ends the call like we were talking about the goddamn weather. The last person that had anything to say at all about possible concern for my wife was Allen, and I shot him down hard…
He was talking to Jason when we conferenced back to Seattle for some legal documents for Casa del Escudo Sagrado when Allen asked to confirm that I actually was in Madrid. When Jason confirmed the information with no further explanation, I felt the need to gently nudge my employee to keep his mouth shut.
“Please inform my head of legal,” I said into the air so that he could hear me, “that although his loyalties may be split, he has signed a non-disclosure agreement as a condition of his employment and I do expect him to honor it. If he has any issue with that, I assume he will let me know.”
The line was quiet with one of those pregnant pauses that Allen often accuses me of. Jason makes to speak, but Allen beats him to it.
“Well, that explains a lot,” he hissed into the line. “Please inform my employer that although I love my best friend like my own flesh and blood that I am a professional first. That although I am sick to my stomach watching her suffer physically and emotionally the way that she is right now, that I am not only fully aware of my job duties and description as well as the conditions of my employment, but also of the letter of the law in terms of attorney/client privilege, and he would do well not to insult my intelligence or integrity in the future. Also inform my esteemed employer that whatever may be occurring between him and my best friend affords him no purchase or right whatsoever to be an asshole towards me!”
The words hung in the air as both a chastisement and a warning for me to check my attitude when dealing with Attorney Forsythe, but there was also information there that I’m just now putting together with what my mother said…
“That although I am sick to my stomach watching her suffer physically and emotionally…”
She’s suffering physically. How the hell is she suffering physically?
“It’s unfortunate that she drove home on her own as she’s not supposed to be driving since she was released from the hospital!”
Released from the hospital… That means that this wasn’t an emergency-room visit. She was admitted!
“Jason!” I yell through the suite we share at the Eurostars Suites Madrid. He doesn’t answer right away, and I know he’s not asleep. He doesn’t sleep until I dismiss him and it’s not quite eleven yet.
“Jason!” I call again, exiting the first bedroom of the suite and crossing the span of the living area just as he’s making his way to me.
“Yes, sir,” he answers calmly.
“Where were you?” I demand.
“I was speaking to my wife and daughter,” he says, impassively. Speaking of which…
“Ana was in the hospital,” I inform him. He doesn’t react. “Did you hear me? Ana was in the hospital!”
“Yes, sir, I heard you. I know she was in the hospital.” What the hell…?
“When?” I ask in horror.
“This past Saturday,” he says, still unmoved. “It may have been Friday for them…” He ponders for a moment. “No, it was Saturday.”
“You knew?” I accuse. He nods. “That was the call you got at breakfast… when you left the room. That’s why you looked at me.” He nods again. “Why the fuck did I have to find out from my mother that Ana was in the hospital and not from you?” I roar.
“Why would I tell you?” Jason replies impassively. “Every time I came to you and told you that she had called repeatedly, or she was crying or hurt or upset, couldn’t sleep, forced herself to eat so that she could feed her children, you didn’t flinch. I thought she was calling me because you wouldn’t answer. I only just found out from that call from my wife that you had blocked her calls. I’ve seen this guy before. I know who he is. He’s the same guy that I knew when I had to drag crying, kicking, screaming submissives out of his house who didn’t bat an eye at their pain. After all these years with you, I know not to cross him.
“Yes, I got the call that she was in the hospital. Yes, I got the call that she had a breakdown while she was there, and they wanted to keep her for observation for fear that she would hurt herself. They finally allowed her leave when she asked for a breast pump so that she could feed her babies. Yes, I got the call that she was home. Her life wasn’t in danger, but only because she had angels looking out for her because she could have fallen to her death off that cliff.”
“Cliff…?” The word slips from my lips with disbelief.
“Oh, yeah, you didn’t know that either. She got drunk, stood on the edge of a cliff, lost her balance as she was throwing a bottle of whiskey over and fell. She could’ve died, but she didn’t. Chuck caught her, and she only slipped along the ledge about four feet. She awoke with a sprained ankle and bad hangover. Luckily, nothing’s broken except her heart. Nothing major.”
“Nothing major…?” I’m still at a loss for words. Why is he just delivering this shit like a basic debriefing? My wife could have died!
“No, sir,” Jason says, matter-of-factly. “For weeks, she’s been sitting in various places just staring at nothing. At first, it was that water swing outside over the lake. But lately, she’s been spending the night in her children’s room in the window seat looking out the window—for what, nobody knows. It got to be so bad that Keri just started taking pictures of her with her phone. She calls the series ‘A Tribute to Sadness.’
“She knows that if she doesn’t eat, she’ll not only hurt herself, but the babies, too, so she eats… but only what my wife brings to her. Marilyn keeps me posted on what she does when she’s at the Center. Mostly, she stays locked in her office working on whatever until it’s time to feed the twins again. The inspection is complete, and the inspector is gone. It looks like the center will finally get its credentials.” He pauses for a moment and takes a breath.
“Is that all? Oh, no, it’s not. If she doesn’t sleep in the window seat in the babies’ room, she sleeps in one of the guest rooms now. She doesn’t talk to anybody, not even Marilyn and only Al in an official capacity. So, your secret is still safe. Nobody knows that you’ve left her.”
“Left her?” I finally find some words. “I haven’t left her.”
“Coulda fooled me,” Jason says with a shrug. “Definitely fooled her.”
Shit, that stings.
“I’ve put covert surveillance on her because even though she convinced the doctor that she didn’t want to harm herself, the absent-minded things that she’s doing and the obvious absence of self-preservation will end up causing her more harm than anything that she can do to herself on purpose. The fact that she keeps running off alone without telling anybody is dangerous all by itself.
“I was hoping to go to sleep soon, so I was calling my wife to tell her goodnight and that I love her, and she was telling me that Ana’s back at home shut-up in the guest bedroom in the middle of the day without the babies. I didn’t get a chance to find out what was happening because you summoned me.”
Jason’s not offering me any of his usual sarcasm or opinions. He’s just giving me cold, hard facts in the most impassive manner possible. He won’t tell me that he thinks I’m an asshole for leaving and staying away without a word. He won’t offer any insight into how she’s feeling except broken-hearted and she thinks I’ve left her. No “you’re killing her” or “this is agony for her, don’t you care” or none of the protective emotion that he normally feels when it comes to her or the concerned friendship that he usually gives me as of late… well, not on this trip, though. Is he trying to be here for me… as my best friend, or has he really stoically detached himself from the situation?
“Are you angry with her, too?” I ask, trying to pull the truth from him.
“I wouldn’t know what to be angry with her for, sir—you never told me, but it doesn’t matter,” he says. “We’re in a foreign country and I have a job to do and that’s to protect you. I can’t allow anything to interfere with that.”
Stoic detachment. The fact that he knows so much about what’s going on with her indicates to me that he’s not angry with her, but I can’t tell if he’s angry with me. He has a job to do…
“Tell me everything…”
It takes a full 24 hours to get the GEH jet to Madrid and another hour and a half to get it refueled. Four pilots, three flight attendants, and this is probably one of the most expensive emergency flights I’ve ever taken. There’s no way I was taking a commercial flight to possibly get leaked to the Paps. I probably wouldn’t have made it out of the airport.
We don’t make it back to Seattle until 4am, two days after I had spoken to my mother. The house is a tomb when we arrive because no one is expecting us. I dismiss Jason straight to his suite and climb the stairs to find Ana. He said that she was in one of the guest rooms, so I don’t even bother going to our bedroom. I start with guestroom one thinking that she would opt to be as close to the twins as possible.
I was right… but she’s on the floor.
My first instinct is to rush to her and make sure that she’s alright until I see how she’s lying—in the fetal position with her hands under her face, pressed together and protecting the skin of her cheek from the floor. She’s curled into a ball so small that she looks like a child. I haven’t seen her this small since her shrinking days. I don’t think I even saw her this small back then.
I walk around her and take a seat in the leather chair across from the bed. I remove my jacket and set it on the matching bench next to me and examine her lying there on the floor. The room is still dark, and dawn is threatening off in the distance, but there’s enough light in the room to make out her comfort clothes, the ace bandage around her right foot and ankle, and the tortured expression marring her face.
Her right foot…
Her driving foot…
She drove home with that ankle…
There’s a note on the floor at the foot of the bed and I pick it up and read it.
I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but I have a good idea. Keri and Gail said that you haven’t been sleeping, so I didn’t want to disturb you. Please call me if I can help you or if you want to talk. I’m here for you, dear.
She didn’t tell anybody anything. All this time, she just kept it to herself… why I wasn’t here… that I wasn’t here. Even my parents didn’t know.
Did she talk to Ace?
I watch her sleeping on the floor for a few more moments before the two-way communications system comes to life. She pops off the floor with a gasp, a wobble, and a whimper—discomfort and confusion evident in her posture and positioning. She mumbles something like she’s coming out of a disturbing dream before she remembers herself and cracks out her name.
Her voice is frail, high and unrecognizable, but the two-way should still know that it’s her. She clears her throat and it actually sounds painful, then she tries again.
That was worse than the first time… breathy and painful and aching. She sighs when there’s still no response and scrubs her face with one hand, holding herself up and leaning on the other. Then I remember that she’s not the only person in the room.
She whirls around in her seat on the floor to the sound of my voice like somebody hit her. She stares at me in shocked amazement, more like dismay, and Jason speaks through the two-way.
“Sir, my wife says that Ana is in guestroom one and she’s been asleep for more than 36 hours.” Shit. I remember when I slept like that… when she went to Montana. The psychotic break. That’s why he told me. He knew I’d come looking for her, but he wanted me to know that she had been asleep for more than a day.
“I’ve found her. Thank you, Jason. End two-way communications.” The two-way system deactivates, and Ana and I stare at each other for several moments. She’s the first to move. She crawls to the bed and retrieves the cane leaning against the nearby nightstand. Using the bed as leverage and the cane for support, she pushes herself off the floor and stands upright. It takes a lot of effort and she doesn’t ask for help. When she gets to her feet, she starts to walk, and I can tell that she’s in pain. Without a word, she hobbles to the en suite and closes the door.
I sit there for a while, pondering what to do next. Knowing her—knowing me—I knew there would be no warm welcome or running to each other’s arms for reconciliation. I don’t know how long I sit there before I realize that there’s no sound coming from the bathroom and she’s been in there for a while. I walk over to the door and knock softly. When there’s no answer, I knock again. Still no answer, so I try the door. She hasn’t locked it. When I open the door, she’s curled up inside the tub, her arms wrapped around her knees. Her hair is wet, and her head is resting on her knees, her face buried.
She looks helpless and broken and I haven’t seen her like this is quite some time.
I pull off my sweatshirt and walk over to the tub. This is a marble tub, too, not as big as hers—raised, so that I can sit along the side of it. I take one of the washcloths from the towel rack and wet it with water from the tub. I squeeze the rag so that the water trickles over her skin. She doesn’t move. I continue to do this until I’ve wet every exposed part of her body. I lift her hair to wash her nape and she cringes.
“No! Please don’t,” she weeps. What? She doesn’t want me to touch her? I put my hand on her shoulder and try to speak, but she protests again, more insistent this time… heart-wrenching…
“Please!” she cries, her voice cracking and broken. “I can’t take it right now… please…”
I can tell by the agonizing sound of her voice that if I touch her again, she’s going to fall completely apart. I put my own pride aside and move away.
“Okay,” I concede, and she sighs heavily, whimpering sorrowfully.
She sighed… she sighed because I stopped touching her.
“How are you going to get out of the tub?” I ask, examining her foot still wrapped in the ace bandage and submerged in the water.
“I’ll get on my knees,” her shaky voice says.
“You could fall.” She doesn’t respond. “Would you rather I leave?”
“You already did,” she squeaks, hugging her knees tighter. Okay, I had that one coming. I stand, moving to leave and thinking this might be better.
“I’ll be in the bedroom,” I say, a bit rejected, but not. “Call me if you need help.”
“I did,” she says, weakly. “You didn’t come…”
I sit in the bedroom, playing her words over and over again in my head.
I did… you didn’t come…
It’s only at this moment that I realize what my leaving really meant. I maintain that I needed some time away from her, from the situation, from how I was feeling, but just like Montana, I left her with nothing. No hope, no explanation, no lifeline. I had my phone. I just didn’t answer when she called. She escaped and we had to find her. I took somebody with me and she still didn’t know where I was. We weren’t married yet when she left, so her answering to me was a courtesy—one that I deserved as her fiancé, but a courtesy nonetheless. We’re married now; we’re next of kin over and above even our parents. We have a bigger responsibility to one another… and we have children.
She was in the hospital and I didn’t even know. Nobody thought I needed to be informed. If the people who know me and knew where I was thought I didn’t care about my wife falling off a cliff and having to be taken to the hospital, imagine how she felt.
Most of all, two wrongs don’t make a right.
Two wrongs? Or was it three? Four? Eleven? Twenty…?
I don’t know how long it is before she comes out of the en suite, but I know it’s a long time—so long that I stop watching the door and waiting for her to emerge… so long that I’m immersed in my own thoughts of the situation and forget where I am, surprised to see her exit the bathroom haphazardly wrapped in a bath blanket. Her long, wet hair hangs in a stringy mess down her back, some of in wrapped under the bath blanket. She’s just as surprised to see me still in the bedroom when she emerges as I am when she comes out. She probably thought I had given up and left by now.
I have to suppress the urge to just take care of her right now—to wrap the towel properly around her body, or better yet, unwrap it; to dry and untangle her extremely long hair; to pick her up and carry her to the bed and get the weight off that ankle and the now-wet ace bandage that may cause her to fall.
I lose the battle with that last one.
“No!” she says in a panic when she sees me coming towards her, my intent evident in my eyes. I stop just as I’m about to scoop her small body up in my arms.
“Please,” I say softly. “At least lean on me so that you don’t fall again. You were on the floor when I came in.”
Our faces are so close together. Her eyes are more empty and lifeless than I’ve ever seen them… ever. Her pupils are tiny, constricted—almost non-existent. I try to remember a time when I’ve ever seen this barren color of blue in her eyes… like an old pair of jeans that’s been washed too many times. I can’t. Not even when she checked out after watching the video of her attack were her eyes this pale. They’re normally deep blue… ocean blue… the bluest right at her height of passion. Right now, they look blanched and devoid of life.
I must have been staring too long, because she drops her eyes, then her head, breaking our gaze. I gingerly bend down and put my arm around her waist and she allows me to help her to the bed while she winces every time she tries to put the slightest weight on her ankle. She sighs again when she’s finally on the bed and out of my grasp. I feel a stab of rejection, but quickly push it back because there are too many other emotions swimming around in my head right now… and I really don’t deserve to feel rejected.
“Activate two-way communications,” I say, and the system comes alive. “Locate Keri Illidge.”
“Yes?” Keri’s disembodied voice answers.
“Keri, it’s Christian. I hope I haven’t disturbed you.” There’s a pause.
“Christian!” she says, surprise obvious in her voice. “Um, no, you haven’t disturbed me. I’m with the babies.”
“I’ll relieve you. Can you please come to the first guestroom and help Ana get dressed? Her ankle is bothering her.” Another pause.
“Yes, I’ll be right there.”
“End two-way communications.” The system shuts down and I bring my eyes back to my wife. She’s leaning forward on her hands sitting stock still on the bed and looking down. I sigh and leave the room. I meet Keri in the hallway.
“I don’t think she needs any help getting her clothes on, just getting what she needs to her… maybe combing her hair…” I trail off, still dejected that she wouldn’t let me touch her, but what did I expect?
“Yes, okay, no problem,” Keri says, and walks past me to the guestroom while I proceed to the nursery. An exhausted Gail is tending to Mikey while Minnie fusses in her crib. She smiles weakly when I enter the room. I look at her with apologetic eyes and force as much of a smile as I can. I know that she and Jason were probably making up for lost time when the babies beckoned. I reach into the crib and gather my fussy daughter in my arms. When I cuddle her against me, she settles immediately, nuzzling against my chest.
Sorry, little one, there’s nothing in those to sustain you. It’ll have to be a bottle.
I retrieve a bottle from the warmer and she suckles it hungrily, obviously fighting between hunger and sleep. I sit in the window seat that Jason informed me Ana sat in many days and look out at the view while I feed my daughter. There’s not much to see out this window… the same uninteresting view of Seattle and the bridge…
The bridge… She was staring at the bridge.
A/N: The song Ana is hearing in her head is Good Morning Heartache by Billie Holiday. The video is on my Pinterest page.
Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/raising-grey/
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