So… someone in the question thread asked me (or I should say, they asked Jason) why he and Ana didn’t talk more since Christian is, after all, his best friend. In short, Jason replied that although he and Christian are best friends, Christian is still his boss and Ana is Christian’s wife, not Jason’s. As such, he’s not obligated to maintain their relationship. I kind of wish that the person who posted that question had waited until after I posted this chapter. As I said before, this storyline was written late last year sometime and none of it has been changed except the insertion of Mia’s wedding. After reading this chapter, you’ll see that Jason chooses his battles when he feels that it’s appropriate to intervene.
The Muse is slowly working her way back, but it’s a very slow walk. I’m working a lot of hours and I will only post when I can.
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…
Raising Grey: Chapter 41—Comfort is an Illusion
“Ace handed me a new asshole,” I tell Jason later that evening in my den when he asks how things are going with me and Butterfly. “He thinks we’re going to lose our marriage if we don’t get this together soon.”
“He said that?” Jason says with a frown. I shake my head.
“Not verbatim, but in so many words, yeah. There was no mistaking his meaning. I’m not sure he’s willing to talk to us as a couple and Butterfly won’t talk to Dr. Baker. I don’t have the time or the energy to break in a marriage counselor. Maybe we should go to Reverend Martin…”
“No offense, Boss, but he knows nothing about your lifestyle and you really don’t want to try to explain that to a man of the cloth.” I nod, dismayed.
“You may be right, but when we discussed how we would handle this situation if it ever arose, it was him that we talked to. I did exactly the opposite of what I said I would do. I said I would talk to her about the situation and I didn’t. I didn’t give her a chance to explain her side of it; I just shut her out, and I said that I wouldn’t do that, either. Yes, she went to Montana on me and left me without any word, but we weren’t married, yet. We didn’t have a family—children that depend on us. There were no vows and promises at the time that we have in place now.”
“Why did you run away, Boss?” Jason asks. “You never told me. I followed you blindly, because it’s my job to keep you safe, but I never knew why.” I sigh, remembering that night… remembering what I saw and the fact that I had completely forgotten what I had heard… or part of what I had heard, until I recalled it while talking to Ace.
“Let’s go, Jason,” I huff, getting into the front seat of the Audi and slamming the door behind me.
“Is everything alright?” he asks.
“Drive!” I bark, never turning to face him. I’m breathing fire. I’m so angry that I could put my fist through the windshield, so I keep them clenched and in my lap. She told me to leave. She told me to leave, not the asshole that was touching her and leaning in to kiss her. ME! Fine, I’m fucking leaving!
“Get Steven on the line. If you can’t get Steven, get someone else, but we need a pilot. Tonight. To Madrid.”
“What?” he asks, almost in horror as we’re stopped at a red light. I turn a searing, angry glare at him.
“Do you have a problem with that instruction?” I demand. After examining me, he turns back to the windshield and grips the steering wheel.
“No, sir,” he says, impassively as the car proceeds down the road towards Grey Crossing.
I saw her. I saw how she looked at him. I could see that same longing that she has when she looks at me, when we’re sharing our special moments. She’s attracted to him and she was about to kiss him… or let him kiss her… until I walked in.
I do everything in my power to swallow the bile that building in my stomach and throat. I replace the feeling of loss and despair with the anger and betrayal that’s burning in my heart and mind. Fuck it. Jason can pack and inform his wife that we’re leaving. I’ll buy whatever the fuck I need in Madrid.
“She wanted him,” I say, still replaying the scene in my head. “Maybe not enough to leave me… maybe not enough to break up our home… obviously not enough to pursue him, but she was attracted to him, enough for a moment of pause.”
“She wanted who?” Jason asks.
“The inspector,” I tell him matter-of-factly. “Liam. The night we left, I walked into the Center to find them about to kiss. She told me to leave. I was about to rip him apart, and she told me to leave. So… I left.” I run my hands through my hair. “I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand the thought. This wasn’t unfounded like when I thought something was going on with Elliot. I’m not making this up and it’s not my petty jealously, controlling tendencies, or possessiveness that’s speaking here. I saw this with my own eyes…”
“Activate two-way communications,” Jason interrupts me. “Locate Gail Taylor.”
“Love, is Her Highness with you?”
“Yes,” she says after a pause.
“I need the two of you to come to the man den. Your Highness, I respect you immensely, but if you resist, I’ll come up there and carry you down here kicking and screaming then tie you to a chair when you get here.” Whoa! What the…? After another short pause.
“We’re on our way,” Gail says.
“See you in a minute. End two-way communications.”
“Jason…” I begin to protest.
“You can’t talk to her therapist and you can’t talk to yours. My wife and I each have more experience than both of you combined. If you can’t talk to them, you’ll talk to us,” he says. “Yes, you’re my boss, I respect that. Please don’t forget that, but you’re also my friend, and we’re not in Madrid anymore. This woman is your lifeline and you are hers. She came into your life, shook everything up and brought out a man I never thought I’d see. I’ll be damned if I sit idly by and watch you lose all of that! My wife and I have probably spoken more in the last three days about your marriage than the two of you have in the last three weeks. It’s time to get to the bottom of this… now!”
Well, nothing much else to be said there.
It seems like it takes an eternity, but after some time, Butterfly and Gail enter the den. Butterfly has resorted to the wheelchair that we kept around when Valerie was living with us. I look bemused from her to Gail.
“The crutches were hurting too much,” Gail says, “and she couldn’t carry the children.”
“No more speaking for her, Love,” Jason tells his wife. “From this moment on, if she has something to say, she needs to say it herself.” Ana looks at Jason as if to ask, “Who the fuck does he think he is?” When there’s no reverence or reaction, she turns her wheelchair around and heads for the door.
“I will chase you, Anastasia,” Jason warns, “and I will catch you.” The chair stops, and she turns around.
“So, you’re just going to make me do something that I don’t want to do?” she seethes, her voice full of venom.
“Your husband feels that you wanted another man,” Jason blurts out. “He feels that had he not walked into the room, you would have strayed outside of your marriage. He walked in as this man was touching you, just as this man was about to kiss you. You don’t think this requires some discussion? Do you really think you’re blameless in this?”
“I tried to tell him!” she wails. “I tried to talk to him!”
“Well, tell him now!” Jason retorts.
“It’s too late,” she says, dropping her voice and her head.
“Oh?” Jason says unmoved. “So, I should just call Allen now and tell him to draw up the divorce papers?” Butterfly’s head shoots up, horrified, like someone just informed her of a death or a horrible tragedy. “Tell. Him!” Jason commands. She stares at him for several moments, then turns her gaze to me.
“Yes, I was attracted to him,” she chokes out, “but I told him several times that I would not pursue anything with him. His advances were harmless at first, but questionable enough for me to let him know that I. Am. Mrs. Christian. Grey!” Tears are flowing freely down her cheeks and her words are burning out of her throat like molten steel, flowing over the room—over me—and searing my skin, for more reasons than one. “Yes, I was emotional and passionate at the time that he almost kissed me, but not passionate for him, and I stopped him!”
“How could someone else work their way into your heart like that?” I ask, impassively.
“He didn’t work his way into my heart!” she retorts.
“Your mind, then!” I retaliate, and she can’t respond. “There was enough room for someone else to work their way into your mind, to get close enough—intimate enough—to be in a position where they had to be stopped before your lips met. How. Does that. Happen?” My voice is sharp, and now, I’m a man scorned, and I want answers.
“I don’t know,” she chokes. “I didn’t invite it. I didn’t want it. I stayed away from him; I avoided being alone with him. Any time he tried to suggest something, I cut him off.”
“You don’t see how that’s a problem?” I ask her. “Everything you’re saying right now is just an indication that there was a problem brewing. He apparently made you feel as if he wanted more than a professional relationship. You admit that you were attracted to him. Why didn’t you cut communication completely?”
“He was the inspector! I couldn’t…”
“You could have done something,” I retort, cutting off her escape route. “You could have told my mother how you felt, about your fears, refused to be alone with him at all. There was something that was going on that made you continue with the status quo. You were content in knowing that you resisted his advances, yet you consistently put yourself in a position where you could continue to get them. You’re trying to convince me and maybe even yourself that you didn’t want him, that you didn’t want anything to do with him, that you did everything you could to avoid something like this. But somehow or another, you end up on a sofa after hours in a room alone with this man about to kiss.” My voice is accusing, convicting, unforgiving. I deserve to know why this happened and I won’t take any excuses. “Was I not enough for you?” I ask. She gasps and glares at me, eyes wide.
“Why would you ask me something like that?” she asks, horrified.
“Because I need to know!” I nearly yell. “I need to know how this happened! Never in my life have I not been enough for any woman that I’ve ever dealt with and I need to know how this happened with my wife! I fight off beautiful women almost every day. I shun their advances and push them away because I want my wife. No woman has gotten close enough to kiss me except that batty bitch who attacked me at your father’s wedding and I slapped the taste out of her mouth when she did. No other woman but you can willingly get that close into my personal space and I need to know how another man got that close into yours!” She thrusts her hand into her hair and begins to rub her scar, but I won’t be deterred. “Do you want him?”
“No!” she screams. “I don’t want him! I didn’t want him then and I don’t want him now.”
“You said he was attractive…”
“Just because I find someone attractive doesn’t mean that I want them!” she retorts. “I find many women attractive and God knows I don’t want them!”
“I haven’t caught you in a tender moment with any women,” I shoot back. She chokes out a defeated scoff and shakes her head. She’s beginning to shut down and I’m no closer to an answer to why this happened than I was before. She found him attractive. Does that mean that I have to worry about her falling into a vulnerable kissing situation with every man that she finds attractive? I stand up a walk over to my piano. She’s kept as much distance between us as possible since she first came into the room. A few more feet won’t make a difference.
“What am I supposed to do with this?” I say to Jason, my back to Butterfly. “I’m a horrible cad for running off to Madrid because I couldn’t deal with this. I’ll take that. I won’t deny it. Now, I’m back. I want to know what forced my wife into a vulnerable situation and I can’t get that answer.”
“Is there anything I could say right now that would make you feel any better?” Her voice is broken behind me, but I don’t turn around. “What answer could possibly give you the closure that you’re looking for? If I told you that I looked into his blue eyes and I wanted what I saw, would that be enough?”
Now, I turn around to her tear-stained face. Is that what happened?
“If I tell you that in a moment of weakness, I just wanted to see what it felt like to kiss another man, would that give you closure?”
Are these hypotheticals or is this the answer to my question?
“Or if I said that I sat there hungry and tired after combing through all my hard work trying to find a way to make the impossible possible and when he spoke to me after I had thought he was long gone for the day, that I did sit down and have a civil conversation with him; that somewhere in the course of that conversation, he closed the space between us and he touched my face. And yes, he’s an attractive man, and for more than a moment, I was a deer stuck in headlights, not sure if he was really closing in on me, or if I was imagining it. And yes, even though he has some of the most striking blue eyes I’ve ever seen in my life, that they are captivating, but I stopped him anyway, because even though they are quite hypnotizing, they. Are not. Gray.”
Her voice is even now, her tears betraying the impassive tone.
“He’s attractive. His purpose at the Center made me resent him, but that didn’t make him any less fun to look at.”
What the fuck?
“And even though he’s very easy on the eyes, he. Is not. My husband.”
I swallow as I glare at her. I don’t know how to take what she’s saying. There’s nothing wrong with our relationship. There were no cracks for anyone to get in, but somehow, someone almost did, and I’m no closer to knowing why it happened except striking blue eyes. This gives me absolutely no comfort. I put my hands on my hips and turn away.
“If my truths aren’t enough to give you closure, Mr. Grey, I don’t know what to tell you, because that’s all I’ve got.”
The room is silent for several moments. I let her words roll over in my head and realize that I just have to accept what she gave me. I don’t like it, but I have to accept it. Can I deal with it, though? She didn’t kiss him… they didn’t kiss. There was no infidelity. She admits that she was attracted to him—she gave me that truth, but that in her heart, she didn’t want him. So, there wasn’t even any emotional infidelity. But can I deal with the fact that a set of blue eyes allowed him to get that close to her?
My mind immediately goes back to our conversation with Reverend Martin before we were married and what she said about affairs and infidelity…
“Any affair is a deal-breaker. Sexual affairs are tragic and crushing and I have no idea how I would ever recover knowing that he was with another woman. Affairs of the heart are much, much worse. That means that he can see himself with someone else besides me and that means that there’s no place for me anymore. If he allows someone else into his heart, in the place where I should be, then he has allowed someone else into our home and I can’t live with that. If he has to let her go because of me, even though he still loves me, he will resent me for it and he can’t live with that. So, cheating is an instant divorce in my book.”
He didn’t get to her heart, so… this doesn’t count? If he had kissed her, if she had let him kiss her, would this count? What did I say when he asked me that question? I have to think hard…
“I don’t know… I could never do that to Butterfly, but if she did it to me, I’m not so sure that I could walk away so easily. I’ve never suffered from infidelity like she has. From what she explains to me, it was mental torture. It was more than just this guy having another girlfriend. He flaunted his affairs and he made her feel like shit. When it was all said and done, she basically had to lock him out of her home and her life and she still wanted him back. I can’t see putting her through something like that. It’s inhumane. I would hope that she would never want to do that to me, but I don’t know how I would handle it if she did.”
Still, no infidelity… just those infernal fucking blue eyes that reeled her in. I remember we told the Reverend that we would talk about how we would handle someone else intruding into our relationship, but if I remember correctly, we never did. We did make one commitment that day that we didn’t stick to…
“Talk to your partner when you feel drawn to someone else—if you feel a connection with someone as a colleague or erotically. This will build the bond between the two of you instead of allowing you to build the bond with someone outside of your relationship. Can the two of you commit to that?”
She never came to me and told me that she was drawn to this guy. If she had, this may never have happened. We might have been able to catch it—to curtail it before it got this far.
“Christian, you’re a million miles away,” Jason says, bringing me back to the here and now. I might as well say what I’m thinking. Silence hasn’t gotten us anywhere so far.
“I was just thinking about the promises that we made to each other before we got married,” I say, firmly, “that we would talk about possible attraction to someone outside of our relationship so that we could nip it in the bud.”
“We also said that we wouldn’t run out on each other anymore,” she retorts.
“I’ve taken responsibility for running out you,” I say, whirling around on her. “It was wrong, but I did it. I couldn’t handle it and I’ve admitted that. All I’ve gotten from you are striking blue eyes and a deer caught in headlights!”
She raises a piercing blue glare at me, then speaks with a deep-seated anger that I don’t think I’ve ever heard from her.
“Fine!” she spits angrily. “I was attracted to another man and I didn’t tell you! I wasn’t looking for it and I didn’t welcome it, but I didn’t dislike it as much as I should’ve. I should have come right home and told you what was going on the moment I saw that there was a problem, and I didn’t! I was afraid! I was afraid of what you would think and of what I was feeling. I felt the same way you did—that nothing was wrong in our relationship and that there should be no room for any man anywhere to affect me, to get into my mind, but here was one, and I couldn’t explain it away. I knew I loved you, and I didn’t want him, but I couldn’t. Explain it. Away. So, instead of coming to you like I promised I would, I tried to deal with it myself, and it turned into a goddamn disaster. It’s my fault! It’s all my fault! And I take responsibility for it. I was attracted to him, I should have talked to you and I didn’t. It was a bad call—my bad call, and I’m sorry!”
The words echo through the room and bounce off the deadening silence that has now wrapped around the four of us. She glares at me for a moment and the whites of her eyes have turned a fire red. I don’t know if it’s anger or the fact that she hasn’t stopped crying almost since she’s been in this room. Those words had to be ripped out of her like a rotten tooth with no anesthetic. She drops her eyes quickly and she appears to be shaking.
I look at Gail, concerned, and she reaches for Butterfly. The moment Gail touches her arm, Butterfly flinches violently—her head, her hair, everything shaking wildly like something burned her as she snatches her arm away from Gail. Gail frowns and raises a furrowed brow to me as Butterfly holds her head down and covers her mouth in contemplation. She’s done talking.
“He’s not perfect,” Jason says to Butterfly. “He’s never going to be perfect, and obviously, you aren’t either. You two need to understand that about each other and stop holding each other to this unrealistic level of expectation. Give each other room to fuck up and grow. It’s going to happen. You can’t stop it. The only way to prevent mistakes is to die! But you two—every time something happens, you run to your corners. You’re married now! You have two other little lives depending on you. You can’t do that anymore! You need a moment or two or a weekend to yourself to get your thoughts together, that’s fine. Running to Madrid and cutting your wife off, hiding out in Montana, indefinite periods of the silent treatment, temper tantrums—that shit is unacceptable. How do you expect to survive ‘for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, ‘til death do us part’ if you keep running around acting like a couple of bruised teenagers?”
Butterfly holds her head down as I watch her reaction to Jason’s words while weighing my own. She still won’t speak, and she’s focused on another plain completely. She’s looking with unseeing eyes though I’m fairly certain that everything she’s hearing is going into a mental Rolodex.
“Your therapist may want to tiptoe around you and be politically correct, but I don’t. I live with you. I’ve lived with him for damn near ten years. I’ve seen every phase he’s gone through and I can tell within thirty seconds after seeing him in the morning what kind of day it’s going to be. You tried to go back to that curmudgeonly bastard after she moved to Montana, but I knew it wouldn’t last. I knew that if she hadn’t come back to you, we would have been back in Montana dragging her back here by her hair until you convinced her that you loved her, and you married her because she can no more live without you than you can live without her. So how about we cut this shit out and get to what’s really important?”
Still no word from Butterfly. She hasn’t even flinched.
“I think we’ve done about all we can do tonight, Jason,” I tell him, noting that my wife has completely shut down after her confession. He looks from me to her and back to me again.
“I think you’re right,” he says, standing from his seat. Taking her cue, Butterfly turns the chair around and fumbles with the door handle a bit. Gail finally opens the door for her and in her frustration, she catapults herself from the chair and up onto her good foot, inadvertently pushing the chair into the back of the sofa. Without turning around, she hobbles out of the room, violently and quickly limping out of sight. Gail takes off after her to prevent her from hurting herself. Jason and I stand in somewhat stunned silence as they disappear quietly down the hall.
“Believe it or not, that was very productive,” Jason says. I raise skeptical eyes to him. “You guys were able to get out what you had been feeling, what you had been holding in all this time. That’s a huge start, man.” I nod reluctantly. Logically, I know he’s right, but I wish somebody would explain that to my heart.
“If you don’t mind, Jason, I’m going to take a moment or two and allow myself to feel what I’m feeling right now. She should have come to me, and she didn’t. No matter how angry or hurt she is right now, she was wrong. That burning anger that you saw just now was because she had to admit that she was wrong. Yes, I left, but this could have all been avoided if she had just come to me before it got to this point. I know my wife, and if she had come to me and talked to me about being attracted to that man, he never would’ve have gotten within a foot of her. But she had the cushion of me not knowing. I was the furthest thing from her mind when she was sitting on the sofa with that man until the very last minute, and all of the pain and anger that she’s feeling right now is her own conviction eating her up. I don’t want to take that pain away from her. She needs to feel it. She needs to understand. I feel betrayed. No, she wasn’t unfaithful, but I still feel betrayed and I have to get over it. So right now, at this moment, I’m going to take some time to allow myself to feel what I’m feeling.”
I turn away from him, effectively dismissing him from my presence. Once he’s gone, I sit down at the piano and fondle the keys. I allow my fingers to take on a mind of their own and bang out a piece or two that aptly portray how I feel right now.
It’s about three in the morning and Gail and Keri are caring for the twins. Before I left, they were sleeping through the night. I wonder what happened? Did my leaving cause that much of a disturbance?
I lay in our bed, alone, as Butterfly is still sleeping in the guest room. Like many nights before, I can’t sleep. I ache, and I know that we can’t leave things like this. Even if she doesn’t want me to touch her, I need to be near her.
I climb out of bed and walk down to the guest room where she’s sleeping. The door is slightly ajar, and I let myself in. I find her in bed, where I expected, and she’s crying… softly, but her entire body shakes as she weeps. I watch for a moment—how long, I don’t know, but she shakes and cries the entire time I’m standing there.
How many nights did she do this while I was gone? How long has she been crying tonight?
Our talk tonight was brutal, and while I regret nothing that was said, my mind immediately goes to the days after the fundraiser fiasco, when she locked herself in the guestroom and mourned… when I found her here at the Crossing, broken and hurt after having slept at the construction site all night, pregnant with our babies.
I crawl into bed behind her. Her weeping doesn’t falter. I force one arm underneath her. Wrapping the other around her body, I cradle her tightly to me, laying my head on her back and closing my eyes as she sobs.
“I love you,” I whisper, desperately. “I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you…”
I love you despite myself… even when I hate you, I love you… even when I’m being an asshole, I love you… even when I’m lost and betrayed and pretending that you don’t exist, I love you… I love you more than life and breath, more than anything… I love you with every cell of my body… every fiber of my being… I love you down to the basest, lowest, deepest part of me… I love you… I love you… I love you… I love you…
Her breathing catches momentarily and she chokes on one of her sobs as I will her to feel how desperate I am for her; how the thought of being without her is the culmination of all my worst fears and nightmares; how this whole situation made me so crazy… makes me so crazy… that I just don’t know what to do…
Light shines through the bay window as I open my eyes. I’ve slept like the dead for the first time in weeks and my arm is asleep. Butterfly’s limp body lies cradled in my arms just like she was when she cried herself to sleep… at least, I think she cried herself to sleep. I pull her closer to me and inhale the scent of her hair. The scent is amazingly comforting. I take what pleasure I can in lying here, being near her, holding her…
Several minutes into my Butterfly meditation, she wakes. I can tell the moment she wakes, because her aura changes immediately. She doesn’t stiffen; she just changes. I close my eyes and my heart laments the slow destruction of our relationship, of the trust we had.
“Let me kiss your lips,” I whisper in her ear. She doesn’t move. She doesn’t respond. “Please…” I beseech her. “Please, let me kiss your lips…”
Even though there’s no response, I can tell when she surrenders to my request. I lay her on her back and stay on the bed next to her. I examine her swollen, tear-stained face and her expression is unreadable. She closes her eyes as I bring my lips to hers. She doesn’t reciprocate the kiss, but I don’t think I care. Her lips are so soft and I just want to feel them against mine.
I close my eyes and breathe her in, gently brushing my lips across her tender skin. I caress her cheek gently and her breath catches ever so slightly. Her lips part only a little and I place my bottom lip in the opening so that I can gently kiss her top lip. This small bit of her—the tiny offering that she’s giving me—is Nirvana. I ached from the day I saw her with Westwick… the day I felt like I was no longer enough… and now, she’s lying next to me, giving me this small bit of her, and I’m feasting on the morsel like it’s my last meal.
She swallows, then slightly gasps like she can’t breathe, her lips parting to allow more air in, and I take full advantage. If she won’t let me touch her—won’t let me kiss her when this is all over, I’ll take whatever I can get right now. I slip my tongue into her mouth and taste the sweet, soft skin of the inside of her upper lip. She gasps again and I nibble gently and bite, then ghosting my tongue over the mark my teeth left. I’m hungry for her… I want to taste her… feel her… inside of me…
She gasps again and I feast on her reactions to me. I still affect her, she can’t deny it. God knows, she affects me. I kiss her lips over and over, moving to the corners of her mouth and back, caressing her cheeks, her hair, feasting on her lips, her flavor, tasting her breath. At first, I think I’m dreaming when her arms slide around my neck and her fingers into my hair. My body trembles at her touch and I sink into a delicious, passionate kiss—one that I had been waiting for… for weeks! I try and fail not to groan as sound may break the spell, but I feel like my heart will burst right out of my chest as her tongue tangles hungrily with mine.
I do everything I can to restrain myself, not to get carried away in the kiss, not to lose myself too soon, but it’s no use. My soul needs this woman and even her kiss is enough to send me over the proverbial edge.
I try to restrain myself, pulling myself back to look at her, to read her. Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m looking for answers… and I find them in her eyes.
Yes, she was intrigued by him. Yes, she was attracted to him—but he never got this look, not this look that she’s giving me right now. This was not the look I saw in her eyes when she looked at him. She reserves this look for me… only me. It breaks down what’s left of my wall, all my defenses and every reason I ever thought she would want anyone else. I gasp this time and bury my tongue in her mouth, claiming her again…
As if reading my thoughts, feeling my soul, she matches my fervor, grabbing handfuls of my hair and meeting my tongue with lavish licks of her own. God, I want her, but I don’t even know what to do right now. I’m just drunk off her flavor, her passion, and I can barely function—so much so that I don’t even notice that my pajama pants are gone and she has flipped us over on the bed so that she’s on top. I’m breathless as I watch her pull her nightshirt over her head revealing her naked body.
“Butterfly…” I pant. “We don’t… have to… Ah!” I don’t have time to protest before she’s pushing herself down onto my aching erection. God, it feels like forever, and it’s taking a while for her to acclimate to my size. She throws her head back as she slowly takes me in and I swear that I almost lose it. I have one hand on her hip, the other on her body just below her breast. Fuck, she feels so good, but we’re moving too fast.
“Baby,” I breathe through the passion searing my pelvis and burning through my senses. “Wait… wait… we need…”
“No!” she whimpers and through my breathless pants, I realize that she’s crying. “No…” she chokes. “I need you to love me,” she weeps. “I need to know that you still love me… that you still want me…”
Fuck! Can’t you tell?
I cup her face in my hands and pull her down to me, kissing her deeply. I wrap my arms around her body, placing one hand at the small of her back, I push her against me, onto me. Opening my legs and bending my knees to pin her feet under my thighs, I stroke up into her, again and again, savoring the feeling of being inside of her once more, even though I feel like there’s a million things that we need to talk about and we shouldn’t be doing this right now, it’s the reassurance that she needs… and the connection that I need.
“I can’t hold out,” I warn, “I want you so much… I can’t…” Before I know it, I explode inside of her with a breathless whimper, gasping every breath as my ejaculation goes on and on—the fastest I’ve ever come, I swear, but when it’s finally over, my erection doesn’t wane and I continue to stroke inside of her.
Thank God… that could have been a disaster.
I move one hand to the back of her neck to hold her gaze steady to me.
“Do you see…” I begin, still breathless from my orgasm, but holding my stroke, “… how much I want you… how much… I need you?” She’s gasping and panting, now, supporting her weight on my shoulders even though I’m holding her close, drilling deep and steady into her. Still weeping, she nods helplessly as she fights for her breath. “Then show me…” I growl. “Show me how much you want me!”
She gasps through her tears, trying to pull away from me, but I have her well in my grasp as I drive into her. She surrenders, her body falling limp against mine as I own her, claim her, love her… Seconds later, she’s looking into my eyes and even through the tears, I can see the royal blue creep into her pupils.
That’s right, give it to me…
She stops crying, stops breathing, stops moving for several seconds, then releases a mournful keen from her chest—full of agony and passion and suffering and ecstasy as she tightens around my cock.
Let it go, Butterfly… let it go…
I bring her lips to mine, but I don’t cover her mouth or muffle her cries. I want to hear her… I want to feel what she’s been feeling and take her pain away. The clenching in her pelvis doesn’t stop and neither do her weeping cries of climax.
“Yes, baby,” I whisper against her lips as I taste her tears and continue to stroke through her orgasm, guiding her hips over mine. “That’s it, baby, let it go…” And finally, I hear the litany my heart has been waiting for…
I can’t take it. I thrust my fingers into her hair, pull her face to mine and kiss her passionately as she continues to tremble through her orgasm. She tightens again, and I think we may have spawned a second one before the first ended. She whines deep in her chest and cries into my mouth as the tremors start anew. I hold her steady, still kissing her deeply as she comes again. When I feel the convulsions begin to wane, I release her lips and pull her face back, looking into her sleepy, glassy eyes as she fights to catch her breath while she weeps and recovers. I lay her head gently on my shoulder as I hold her close to me, close my eyes, and continue to make love to her.
“Beautiful girl,” I whisper, and she weeps and trembles on my shoulder, my second orgasm creeping quickly up my thighs. “I love you, beautiful girl…”
She wakes a few times during the morning once she fell back into slumber after we made love at the crack of dawn. Each time, I wake with her, our connection slowly coming back, but not completely. She still stiffens a bit at my initial touch, but I pull her close to me and kiss her shoulders and back. Almost instantly, she relaxes back into slumber. Once, she awoke talking about the dead or death or dying, I’m not sure, but it disturbed me so badly that I didn’t get back to sleep for a while.
She allows me bathe her today. She still can’t stand in the shower on her own, so she has to take baths for now. The protector is in full effect and I only want to take care of her. I bathe her carefully, cleaning her all over and gently handling her ankle so as not to aggravate her injury. While she’s in the tub, I retrieve one of my shirts… worn, one of the ones I purchased in Madrid. After drying her skin carefully, I wrap her in the way-too-large shirt and button it in front of her. She looks so small, so vulnerable. Her hair didn’t need washing, so it falls in large beautiful curls over her shoulders, not losing its body from the day before.
I carry her to the bed and lay her down. Her ankle looks better than it did yesterday… still a tiny bit swollen, but less than yesterday. I sit on the bed at her feet and put her injured foot in my lap. She flinches again, but I see that it’s in anticipation of me touching her ankle.
“I won’t hurt you,” I say softly, immediately realizing the irony of my statement. I don’t think it escapes Butterfly, because she breaks eye-contact with me and looks at her ankle. I gently bend the ankle and rotate the foot, testing the soundness of it and to get some better circulation going. She watches the ankle, not so cautiously as before as I gently rotate the ankle.
“Is that okay?” I ask her. She nods.
“Yes,” she says softly. We sit in silence for about three minutes as I rotate her ankle, paying close attention to her reactions. She’s very nervous, but I can tell that she’s trying to relax. I place her foot on the bed and retrieve the pillows from the window seat, elevating her foot just enough to be comfortable and affective. Facing her, I rub firm, but gentle circles on either side of her ankle. I assume this must be a pleasurable feeling because her eyes nearly roll back in her head during the massage. From this angle with her leg bent, I’m seeing a delicious view up the inside of her thighs. She’s been freshly shaved or waxed, and I was in such Nirvana feeling her wrapped around me last night that I didn’t really pay attention.
Massage, Grey. Massage.
I massage her ankle for a few more minutes, not wanting to overstimulate the tissue. I apply the cryotherapy wrap on her ankle and fasten it securely.
“Ready?” I ask before I turn it on. She nods and I hit the switch. She bites her lip at the first feeling of cold and squirms a bit on the bed.
“You okay?” I ask. She nods.
“It’s not as bad after the initial shock,” she says. “I’m kind of expecting it, now, so the relief starts a little faster.” I nod as I allow my fingers to trail up her calf to her knee. I hear her swallow as my eyes follow my fingers up her beautiful legs. When my fingers pass her knee and stroke her inner thigh, I feel her shiver. I raise my eyes to hers and she looks aroused and frightened at the same time.
Distance… I see distance… and all I want to do at this moment is close it.
I lean down to her and my lips follow the same trail that my fingers followed earlier—up the inside of her calf and around her knee. Her breathing hitches as I pass her knee and alternate inside each thigh…
The higher my lips go… the closer to her core I get… the faster her breathing gets, until she’s panting. I raise my eyes to look at her, and she’s looking back at me… nearly terrified.
“Do you want me to stop?” I ask, softly. She shakes her head.
“No,” she pants, her voice weak. “Don’t stop.” I’m torn between her words and her tone, her demeanor—but I go with her words. I gently kiss her outer lips and feel her shiver. When I run my tongue inside them and across her clit, the gasping moan of ecstasy that escapes her throat erases my doubt and fuels my hunger. I lick again, deeper and harder this time. She sinks into the bed and arches her back, like she’s just as hungry as I am.
She probably is…
I pull her body down to me by her hips so that her ankle stays elevated but her legs open. She gasps at the sudden jerk of her body, but writhes in pleasure again when I repeat the hungry lick of her clit. I throw her good leg over my shoulder and dig in. She tastes so good, it seems like I haven’t savored her flavor in months.
“Hoh, God!” she gasps in a hitch pitch. Her body is already convulsing. “Please… Christian, please.”
“What do you want, baby?” I ask into her clit.
“I want… I want… oh, God!” she cries out her orgasm as I suckle her deeply, her body writhing and thrashing as she attempts to keep the injured ankle still. She was too on the edge and that was way too fast. I blow on her clit and watch it pulse as her breathing regulates and the orgasm wanes. When she appears to have caught her breath, I close in on her clit again, sucking and licking and stroking her into a frenzy once more.
“Please… please…!” she beseeches me.
“I know, baby,” I reply in a husky, hungry voice. She’s panting again as I work her up again, crying out in passion and gripping the sheets.
Let go, Butterfly. Let me in.
“Oh. God, help me,” she breathes, and I don’t really know what to make of it. I bring my arms around her hips and clamp my hands onto her breasts over my shirt. I can feel her milk leaking slightly out of her nipple and it turns me on so much that I can barely think. Coupled with the smell and taste of her arousal, it’s causing me to lose my fucking mind. I groan into her pussy and she responds with a groan of her own.
“Oh, God, Christian,” she keens.
That’s it. Open up for me, baby. Let me in.
I hungrily manipulate her clit, sucking and licking, moving down to her core every few moments to collect her juices and back up to her clit again.
“Christian!” she squeals as she thrusts her hands into my hair. “Oh, my God!”
And she trembles out another orgasm… violently. When her clit is pulsing in my mouth and she has stopped shrieking, her body falls limp onto the bed with the exception of some gentle writhing.
“Please… please…” she keens. “Oh, God, please…”
I move my lips from her clit and gently kiss her inner thighs over and over again, her hands still tangled in my hair.
“Please…” she whispers as she caresses my hair, her eyes closed as she rides a sated wave. Amazingly, I’m sated, too—tasting her and smelling her and watching her writhe through her satisfaction… I’m one happy camper right now. I place her leg back on the bed and gently kiss both thighs. I stand and walk to the head of the bed, sitting down to look at her face. She turns her head to face me.
“I’m going to get you some breakfast,” I tell her, brushing her hair out of her face, “and a dry shirt.”
She nods, wordlessly, her eyes sleepy. I smile and leave the room in search of sustenance for my wife.
I’m momentarily in sexually sated bliss—well, a little more than momentarily. My clit throbs from my last orgasm as Christian leaves the room. I had no idea that I was so much in need until he touched me. My body was alight when he held me and kissed me last night. When his lips first touched mine, I didn’t know how to react. I thought I was dreaming. Suddenly, I wanted him more than I wanted anything in my life! I was still emotionally conflicted, but I needed him to touch me, to want me. Last night, the physical attraction was so much that neither of us stood a chance against it. Today… this morning… after he cleaned me and cared for me, I saw my old Christian, the Christian that didn’t run off to Madrid and leave me for dead. But I’m so afraid to get comfortable… so afraid to let him in…
He was everything to me. I admit it. He has my whole heart and soul in his powerful hand and he can crush it like a bug at the slightest whim. Now, after this experience, I’m afraid that he will.
The comfort and ease I felt before is gone because when the bad went down and we were put to the test, we failed. Now, I’m scared that the entire house of cards is going to fall around us any minute.
More than one person has made reference to my running off to Montana and how I should understand Christian’s need to get away and rethink things. Even my own inner Bitch is trying to get me to understand the similarities… but I can’t.
The one person who supposedly knew where he went was gone with him.
The one person who knew where I went was still in Seattle.
I went over the state line.
He went across the goddamn ocean.
He left me here to care for our children alone with no hint whatsoever that he may or may not be coming back or what he might do.
He found me, came to me, and we talked.
I had no hope of finding him.
The only time I ever remember feeling as helpless as I did when he left me was when I was lying in that hospital bed after those fuckers killed my baby in Green Valley. Oh, I’ve had other moments of hopelessness, but not like that… not like this.
I have a bitter pill that I have to swallow and my only explanation for it is that I did something similar before, so I should understand what’s happening to me now. I ran off and went to Montana because I needed time to think things through. So now, I should understand that he ran off to Madrid because he needed time to think things through.
Only… he didn’t think things through. He was angry and he abandoned me. He went to Madrid and cut me off and forgot about me, so much so that his head of security and best friend didn’t think he needed to know that I fell off a damn cliff.
But no, little Ana needs to buck up and take her medicine. This was all your fault. You didn’t go to him the moment you realized that Liam may have had more on his mind than that damn inspection and it snowballed into what’s going on now. Never mind that all I had on my mind was that damn inspection. Yes, hindsight is 20/20 and now, I do see that there were warning signs, but at the time, all I wanted was to get through that damn inspection and get our accreditation. I wasn’t concerned about Liam in that way because he wasn’t on my radar. Shame on me for not being more observant and proactive in making sure that a predator didn’t slip into the gates!
I shake my head. I was so secure in our relationship—in what I meant to him and what he meant to me. I was certain that my heart was safe in his hands, that my soul was safe. I knew that he would never deliberately hurt me, that I could trust him with anything. He would always protect me. He would always have my back. He would never let me fall. He accepted me with my fucked-up past and my screwed-up flaws…
He always worked to help me through my issues, to help make me a better person. I slept better at night because of it. I had no fear of the unknown or of the future because of it. I knew that he would always catch me if I fell… but I did fall… and he didn’t catch me… and now…
The Boogeyman is back.
He’s sneaking around corners waiting for me to step wrong so that he can ruin my entire life. What’s next? My father? My children? My life? He’s already wreaked havoc on my body, my mind, my peace, my sanity, and my marriage. He’s proven there’s nothing sacred. I’m surprised that I was able to even bring two healthy children into the world since the first one was beaten out of me and every horrible fucking thing seems to follow me! And why did I really live through that accident—so that Karma could toy with me and use me as her muse for the rest of my days? Should I sit and take inventory of every questionable decision I’ve ever made so that I can at least have a list of all the horrible things that are going to come back on me eventually?
Yes, poor little Ana… poor little fucked-up, screwed-up, always-messing-up Ana…
As Al promised, nothing else held up our final approval once Gloria Felton was out of the way, so our accreditation is no longer interim. We were fully accredited last Friday and there’s a lot to do to get the programs in place that we had planned on all this time. I set to work immediately on adult high school programs such as high school equivalency testing studies and preparation for ACT and SAT testing as well as adult literacy and language programs. Grace gets to work on securing more funding sources including federal grants. Keri and Marilyn focus on the day care center and early learning programs. Grace and I both agree that Keri should be put on the payroll for the amount of work that she does with the children. Gail has two jobs at our house and one that pays very well. I see no problem in Keri getting some kind of stipend for the work she does while the twins are asleep in the day care center.
We’re not really sure how we’re going to go about securing tutoring—whether it’s going to be peer-to-peer, volunteer, or professional. I was just banging out that idea when Liam happened into our lives and it fell by the wayside in the mayhem. Once I return to the Center on Monday and begin implementing all the plans we had discussed, the days somewhat run into each other. I’m determined to make the best of this situation and not focus on the shadows looming at me, threatening to devour me. Yes, I’m hiding—I admit it. I won’t even talk to Ace yet, partially because I’m ashamed that I seem to have digressed so badly from all our progress over the years and partially because I just don’t want to face it… again, not wanting to give this feeling any more life than it already has.
The good news is that my ankle gets stronger with the passing of days… and Christian is home before me every day this week. I don’t know if he’s cutting his days short or my days are getting longer, but he’s in the family room every time I come through the mudroom after I park my car. Most days, he’s there with the children. Other days, it’s just him. He always beckons me to sit down and tell him about my day, which I do, as much as I can. Most often, we end up watching something on television, especially if the twins are with us. I often fall asleep curled up in his arms, taking comfort in the moment, but still very nervous about the future.
“As much as we needed it, I hate that we were cut off from the world for so long,” Val says when she and Elliot return from their Caribbean getaway. “I had no idea you were going through this, babe. I never would have left you alone.”
“Which is exactly why I’m glad you were cut off from this,” I tell her. “You wouldn’t have been able to enjoy yourself and you needed it so badly.”
This is one of the rare times Christian has let me out of his site. It’s like he’s afraid I’m going to disintegrate or something, which if I’m honest, I am, too, sometimes.
“I wouldn’t have been able to talk about it anyway,” I admit. “I’m barely able to talk about it now. I haven’t even been to see Ace, so much so that he made a house call to make sure that I was okay.”
“I don’t want to push, but… I’ve only got a few details. You’re more than just my friend, now, Ana. You’re my sister… my real sister. We’re family.” I know she’s concerned and not just being nosy, and in light of what we’ve been through over the last year—the good and the bad—I’ve made a promise to value our time together and not keep things from her. She and Al are the closest things to siblings that I have.
“Do you mind if we have a chew fest or something and call Al over?” I ask her. “I haven’t told him either and being that you guys are the closest thing I have to family, I don’t want to leave him out.” I didn’t tell Daddy and I most likely won’t, but I need to tell Val and Al. Her eyes grow large at my revelation.
“You haven’t told Al?” she says in awe. I shake my head. “Oh, God, this is worse than I thought. You call the Queen, I’ll secure supplies. Where do you want to meet?”
“In my parlor…”
About half an hour later, we’re all in my parlor sitting on the floor in front of the fire with fruit and cheese, bruschetta, and some of my other favorite finger foods and two bottles of the Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon that Christian got for me from Napa.
“Good Lord, where did you guys find this nectar of the gods?” Al says as the Cabernet slides down his throat.
“Napa,” I tell him. “A wine trip we took last year.” I savor the flavor of one the best bottles of my favorite wine the I’ve ever had. It heats and cools me at the same time.
“So… Ana, at the risk of sounding impatient, what happened?” Val asks gently. I sigh.
“What have you heard?” I ask.
“Some ridiculous story about you jumping off a cliff because Christian went to Madrid for a business trip,” she says. I look at Al.
“That’s pretty much what I got, too, except I was here and I know that you fell. I’ll have to say that I was questioning because of your demeanor over the past weeks, so I didn’t know what to think. So, I would really appreciate it if you fill me in.”
“There really was a cliff involved?” Val says in horror. Al nods dismally. I bottom out my glass and refill it.
“I asked for you both because I really don’t like talking about this and I only want to say this once… and I really don’t want to pull it apart too much.” I take a deep breath and recount how no one knew that Christian had walked in on me and Liam about to kiss; that I asked Christian to leave because if he hadn’t, he would have killed Liam and since he already had a record of violence with the court, we needed to avoid that at all costs. I told them about the real reason for Christian’s escape to Madrid—to get away from me—and that he immediately cut me off the moment he left the Center. I recounted the days and nights I spent in Limbo and agonizing oblivion, certain that I had chased my husband away and lost my marriage. I explained the drunken cliff accident, which was no more than me losing my footing and was really made out to be more than it was but could have been worse since my drunk ass was on the side of the cliff.
I confessed to sleeping for nearly two days and waking on the floor with a throbbing ankle only to find that Christian had returned and was sitting in the chair in the guestroom watching me sleep. I confessed to not being able to let him touch me at first, his tenderness feeling like fire on my skin that first day, and shocking in the days to come. I was raw… too sensitive for him to just come back and fit himself into our life as it was before he left like a puzzle piece that just got misplaced on the carpet during assembly.
I tell them about the hard conversations we’ve had with Ace and with Gail and Jason, who have taken the role of our marriage counselors since neither of us can speak to our own therapists in that capacity. I reveal that to my knowledge, Jason was the only one in the camp who really knew where Christian was and he was with Christian, so that didn’t help, but he didn’t know why they were in Madrid except to check out the businesses there in a merger or something. Al admits that he knew, too, but he was bound by his employment NDA and couldn’t reveal anything.
“So, as you can see,” I conclude, “nobody anywhere had the full story, not even me and Christian. He didn’t want the full story because he had already drawn his conclusions. I couldn’t get the full story because he was hurt and angry and wouldn’t talk to me. Nobody else had the full story because Christian and I were both withholding key pieces of information. So, there you have it.” My brother and sister both sit speechless for a moment, but Val is the first to break the silence.
“How are you now?” she asks, sipping her wine. I bottom mine out again and pour another glass.
“Surviving,” I say, with not even enough inner conviction to convince myself. “I’m taking it one day at a time.” Val examines me carefully.
“I know you, Steele,” she says. “You’re expecting the worst.” I shrug.
“The worst always happens,” I say, my voice cracking. “It’s like I can’t escape it. As soon as I get comfortable…” I take another large drink of my wine. “I’m just… day by day right now.”
“You can’t live like that, Jewel,” Al chastises, “You’ll go crazy.”
“I don’t have a choice right now, Al,” I say. “I’m a shrink and I don’t know how to get past this feeling. Years and years of experience has shown me nothing but that the moment I get happy and comfortable, something bad happens.”
The verity of those words hit me like the cartoon boulder hitting the Coyote, and I down the rest of my wine and fling the large bowl glass into the lit fireplace before crumbling in unwelcome tears. I don’t want to feel this way any more than I want to think that my husband would hurt me again, but I can’t stop it. I can’t stop the feeling that karma or the universe or the Boogeyman or whatever the fuck is in control of this situation is standing by with a machete waiting for that moment when I’m most comfortable, most happy, and most content to whack said happiness into a million little pieces. To hell with the Sword of Damocles; I have the scythe of Death, the hammer of Thor, the Guns of Navarone, the fire of hell—from Dante’s sixth circle, by the way—and the blade of Michael Myers all posed and ready to attack the moment I dare to think “all is well.”
Al is right, I can’t continue to live like this, but at this moment, I can’t see anything else.
A/N: Humans are strange creatures… that is all.
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