This is a work of creativity. As such, you may see words, concepts, scenes, actions, behaviors, pictures, implements, and people that may or may not be socially acceptable and/or offensive. If you are sensitive to adverse and alternative subject matter of any kind, please do not proceed, because I guarantee you’ll find it here. You have been warned. Read at your own risk.
I do not own Fifty Shades Trilogy, or the characters. They belong to E. L. James. I am only exercising my right to exploit, abuse, and mangle the characters to MY discretion in MY story in MY interpretation as a fan. If something that I say displeases you, please, just leave. If you don’t like this story or me, please don’t spoil this experience for everyone. Just go away. For the rest of you, the saga continues…
Chapter 52—Just In Case…
“You told me not to talk about it anymore, so I’m not talking about it. However, I am a professional, and my concerns are real, tangible, and valid. That asshole got way too close last night, and you got way too comfortable. You may not see urgency in this situation and you may be right, but I’m not going to take any chances.”
Just as I’m finishing my coffee, my head of security informs me that we’ll have another detail following us today. So, instead of just me and Jason, it’s going to be me, Jason, and two other guards in a separate vehicle. I understand urgency—I felt it last night, but I fucked it out with my wife and I’m fine now. Apparently, Mr. Professional here didn’t fuck it out with Gail, and now I have an entourage.
“Don’t you think this is a bit drastic, Jason?” I ask. “I’m all for increasing security. I totally get it, but three guards in one car for one man?”
“You told a hired killer that you were getting your affairs in order last night. You’re inviting him to do something. You’re testing his hand, basically telling him, ‘Come and get me.’ It’s like you want to die.”
“I don’t want to die,” I seethe, “I’m just not afraid of death.”
“I’m not afraid of death either, Christian, but I’m not gunning to meet my Maker anytime soon. I have a wife, and I have a child, and I’d like to see her go to college, get married, maybe punch out a couple of grandkids for me. I know that my job comes with certain hazards, but I’m not jumping in front of bullets that don’t have to be aimed at you. So, as many times as you warn your wife to be careful, you need to do the same thing because last I checked, you got a couple of nuggets that you’d like to see get through college, too!”
“Does my wife know about this?” I demand.
“She’ll know that security has been increased when she leaves for Helping Hands, but she won’t know why. I thought I’d let you tell her, or if you prefer, I’ll have Chuck do it.” I look in his eyes and I realize that he’s not backing down on this.
“Shit,” I hiss. I stand from the breakfast bar to go find my wife.
I dread having to tell her this, but whenever I try to keep something from her, it causes so much angst between us and ultimately turns out to be a disaster. When I find her, she’s helping to pack up the twins.
“Hey, beautiful,” I say, when I walk into the room. Mikey is already buckled into his carrier and Butterfly is buckling Minnie into her seat.
“Hey, yourself,” she says after she gets my squirming daughter securely into her seat. “I thought you were already gone.”
“About to,” I say. “I need to talk to you about something before I go.”
“Oh?” she asks. “Is everything alright?” I look at Keri and Gail.
“Can you two excuse us for a moment?” I ask. Gail puts a diaper bag on her shoulder and lifts Mikey’s carrier. Keri does the same with Minnie.
“Ah’ll see ya downstehs,” Keri says as she’s the one who always goes to the Center with Butterfly and the twins. Butterfly was talking about getting Keri her own car. We may have to revamp that decision for a while. In fact…
“What’s wrong, Christian?” Butterfly asks.
“Chuck may have to drive you into town for a while… in your car, of course.”
“Why?” she asks. “What’s happened?” I sigh.
“Do you remember me telling you that Myrick made some enemies in Detroit which is why he’s in witness protection?” She tilts her head.
“Vaguely… really bad guys, that I remember.”
“Well, one of those really bad guys came to see me yesterday,” I confess. “He found out that I was in Detroit and decided to fly out here to tell me to get his boss’s permission the next time I decide to travel to Detroit.” Butterfly raises her brow.
“I see… and you said?” she inquires.
“I told him to kiss my ass,” I reply. “I feel like it was nothing more than a dramatic show of bravado for him to fly all the way across the country to try to get me to bow to his will. I was in Detroit for 24 hours. They found out that I was there, but never confronted me while I was there—probably because I was never alone. They would have had to barge into my uncle’s home, an attorney’s office, or a PI’s office to talk to me. Instead, he shows up at Grey House in a black car, his goon opens the door and tells me to get in… fuck you!” I say that last part more to myself than to Butterfly.
“So… did he threaten your life?” she asks.
“Not overtly, but it was easily implied,” I admit.
“Ah… hence the fuck me like it was the last time fuck last night,” she says, a little perturbed. Why is she perturbed? Didn’t she enjoy it? “And that confused look on your face says you don’t have a clue why I’m irritated.”
“Um… no,” I admit.
“What if it was the last time, Christian?” she scolds. “You don’t think I deserved to know something was up?”
So… um… now I don’t dare tell her that I was afraid of her being taken away from me as opposed to being afraid of me leaving her.
“I can only say that I’m sorry, Butterfly, but there’s a condition to that. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you immediately, but I couldn’t—not because the time wasn’t right, but because I was physically unable to talk about it. It was on me so hard that I couldn’t even think to talk about it. I was too stressed out and I had to release it before I could even approach it. I was going to go to work and talk to our security team and come up with a plan of action. Then, I planned on talking to you about it. Jason beat me to it and beefed up security.”
“So, if Jason hadn’t beefed up security…” she begins.
“I would have told you after we had a plan of action,” I interrupt her.
“What if something had happened before you had a plan of action?” she snaps. I don’t have an answer for her, and I’m getting drawn and tense again.
“I was wound tighter than a dollar store watch when I came into this house last night,” I say, forcing my voice to be calm. “I simply cannot regurgitate everything that’s going on with me when I’m wound that tight. You have to give me time. My options were to fuck you or avoid you, and I needed you so badly…” I trail off and clench my fists, trying to relax and not lose my temper. “I wasn’t fucking you like it was the last time. I was loving you until I could think again, until I could breathe again. And the burden was so heavy that when I finally released it, I could do nothing else but sleep. I would have told you. I just. Needed. To think. I thought after being with me all this time and knowing me and knowing how I handle things…”
“You’re right,” she says, her hands moving quickly to cup my cheeks. She kisses me firmly on my lips. “You’re right. I’m sorry,” she says, rubbing my arms and furrowing her brow. “Boogeyman.”
Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?
“I’m sorry, too,” I say. “This is not the Boogeyman, baby. We’re just being careful, okay? With all my heart, I think this man is all hot air or he would have done something by now. He even said as much.” She sighs heavily and drops her head.
“What do you mean he said as much?” she asks, somewhat resigned.
“He told me that if he meant me harm, it would have been done by now.” She sighs again.
“Well, that’s comforting,” she says sarcastically.
“That’s why Jason has added extra security,” I tell her. “We’re being cautious, not taking any chances.” She nods.
“Okay… what about Marilyn?” I roll my eyes. I forgot about Marilyn.
“We probably want to get another guy on her, too,” I say. “You’ll let her know or do you want me to do it?” She shakes her head.
“I’ll tell her,” she says. “Now, I’m having second thoughts about the exposé.”
“Not that I’m trying to scare you, but you have to know… there’s nothing that the exposé will show that these people didn’t already know. The biggest trump card that I have in my pocket right now is that we have a mutual enemy and quite frankly, that’s all we have in common…” which makes me even more fucking anxious to find Myrick wherever the hell he’s hiding.
“Okay, so… yeah, I better get to the office. I guess the sky is falling for all of us.” She mumbles the last part. I don’t bother asking what she means.
“I need to get going, too, baby,” I tell her leaning down and kissing her on the cheek. “Are we okay?” She touches my cheek again.
“Yes, we’re okay,” she says, but I’m not convinced. “I’m working on chasing away the demons. They don’t leave overnight, you know.” She smiles weakly.
“Yes, Butterfly,” I say, cupping her face. “I know.” I kiss her lips gently, then leave to join Jason. I can’t help but notice what looks like a convention of black suits in the garage. I don’t even bother asking.
“Let’s go,” I say, listlessly while climbing into the back seat and closing the door behind me.
My mind wanders to everything happening right now that requires my attention. The implications of Aragon’s visit and the subsequent need for two men in the car with me; whatever the hell is going on with the storage bins in Detroit—I have to call Smalls. He didn’t call me back yesterday and I can only assume that either Uncle Herman was able to get all the authorizations needed or it was just too late to do anything once and if clearance was given. So, that will be the first thing I deal with when I get to the office. While I’m pondering what other dilemmas will most likely confront me, Jason answers his phone through his earpiece.
“Taylor… fuck!” He snatches his earpiece from his ear and swerves a bit to regain control of the car.
“What the hell, Jason?” I demand, our passenger holding on to the door handle and glaring at Jason as well.
“My apologies, sir,” Jason says through his teeth, his fingers rubbing feverishly at his ear. “It’s your wife.” Well, shit, he doesn’t sound happy. I turn to the other guard.
“Put his phone in the cradle. Put her on speaker.” He really didn’t need to because the moment he picks up Jason’s phone, I can hear Butterfly screaming.
“Shit,” I whisper before Butterfly’s screaming voice is piping through the car speakers.
“Ana,” I say, trying to get her attention. She’s still screaming.
“Ana.” Still no acknowledgement from my screaming wife.
“WHAT?” she shoots back at me.
“You know Jason is driving, Anastasia. What the fuck are you doing calling him screaming in his ear?”
“So, he hands the phone to you so that I can scream at you?” she asks sarcastically.
“No, your voice is piping through the whole damn car. Jason nearly killed us getting his earbud out of his ear!” There’s sweet silence, but only for a moment.
“There’s a goddamn caravan following me to work, Christian,” Butterfly complains. “What the hell is that? Is all of this really necessary?”
“There’s no need to be dramatic, Butterfly…”
“Don’t patronize me and I’m not being dramatic! I work at a fucking shelter, for Christ’s sake! You know, sanctuary? The press is going to be all over me!” I throw a look at Jason, who looks everywhere but at me. “What aren’t you telling me, Christian?” my wife demands.
“I’ve told you everything. There’s nothing else,” I say. I see Jason’s posture shift. He knows I haven’t told her everything, but there’s no way in hell I’m telling her that man said that he would come to my house.
“There’s apparently something you missed!” she declares. “I look like the French delegation driving across the bridge. The only thing that’s missing are the damn flags. What’s going on!”
“I’ve told you what’s going on,” I reinforce. “Jason just feels that we should have more protection for a while since that guy came to Grey House last night.” Jason’s shoulders relax a bit. I’m certain he thought I gave her some sugar-coated version of what happened. I told her exactly what happened… except that I told the guy that I wasn’t afraid of death, and that he threatened to come to my house.
“What the hell happened, Christian?” she barks. “There are eight people following me! In the other vehicles!”
“What?” I exclaim, my eyes widening. She’s not exaggerating. That’s fucking ridiculous. “Jason…!”
“It’s because there’s four of you,” Jason interjects impassively. “We’re just trying to keep you all safe, Your Highness.”
“This is bullshit and you both know it!” she says, most likely convinced that I knew the entire Delta Force was going to be following her this morning. I kinda did know. The MIB convention in the garage somewhat gave it away. I just chose to ignore it.
“Jason is just being extra cautious,” I hiss through my teeth, mostly at Jason.
“Well, guess what? I don’t give a fuck how cautious Jason is right now. This is fucking ludicrous! Every time you make some kind of change to security, I go along with it. There are eight fucking people following me! This is outrageous!”
She’s right. It is outrageous, but there’s nothing I can do about it right now. They’re headed across the bridge. It’s not like I can tell them to go away. I guess I was pondering the situation a little too long because the next thing I hear is…
“You know what? Never mind.” She ends the call abruptly. She. Is. Pissed.
“Fuck!” I hiss loudly. I look over at Jason who refuses to make eye-contact with me and we ride silently to Grey House.
“Fix this. Now,” I say to Jason once I’ve had a macchiato and a glazed apple fritter and calmed my nerves. “What the hell, sticking eight guards behind her? She’s more of a target with all these people behind her than she was before. You must see that.”
Jason and Alex are sitting across from me in my office, a unified front against my demands about this insane increase in security, I suppose.
“She’s got some of our best men around her, sir,” Alex replies. “Nobody’s getting near her and those babies…”
“At this point, I couldn’t get near her and those babies!” I retort angrily. “Don’t you see the problem with that?”
“Sir, Russo is mafia. There’s no other way to put that. This is big time. If he wants you dead, you’re dead. Your family’s dead. Your friends are dead…”
“And if that’s the case, eight guys surrounding my wife and drawing attention to her isn’t going to stop him, now is it?” I interrupt. “I’m not highly impressed with his techniques or intimidated by his reach and ability. He hasn’t presented me Myrick’s head on a platter, yet.”
“Myrick’s in hiding. You’re not,” Jason points out.
“Which further proves that he’s not as omnipotent as both of you seem to think he is!” I snap. “When I had a message for Myrick, I went to Ionia—I didn’t send Jason. When I had a message for Elena, I went to the Washington State Prison—I didn’t send Jason. When I had a message for Courtney after she threatened my wife, I trapped her in the ladies’ room—I didn’t send Jason. When I had a message for Loverboy Investigator, I went to the State building—I didn’t send Jason. Hell, when Butterfly had a message for David before he offed himself, she went to the prison—she didn’t send Chuck. She went to some hick hole trailer park in California to personally confront the bitch that was responsible for her beating in Vegas. She had security, but she went, and I’m supposed to be shaking in my boots from some motherfucker that doesn’t even have the guts that my wife has?
“He keeps sending his consigliere every time he wants to make a point. Big fucking deal! I’m not talking to that guy anymore and I mean that! If Russo wants a war, he can do it, and I can’t win it, but these scare tactics are not fucking going to work with me!”
I’ve had enough of this shit. I’ve had enough of all of it. I know that these men sitting before me can do more than what they’re doing without sending the fucking A-Team around with my wife.
“I want my wife and family secure as much as you do, but this? No. If those bozos in the FBI can keep Myrick hidden and safe, you can keep my wife safe without drawing this much attention to her. You’re doing a fan dance for this fucker and you know it, and I’m not going to play his game. I’ll accept reasonable security enhancements, but this is overkill. Whatever point you’re trying to make, you’ve made it. You’re pissing me off and you’re scaring the fuck out of my wife. Call them off.” Jason finally decides to speak.
“With all due respect, sir, the threat that’s facing us is a real and present danger. I’m not trying to make a point; I’m trying to keep you safe!”
“I don’t think you heard me,” I say crisply. “Call. Them. Off. This is not a request.”
Jason glares at me and I don’t back down. He’s going overboard, and my wife is right. This is ridiculous.
“If imminent danger comes at my wife or our children, there can be ten men coming at her and as long as someone’s got her six, two to five of them will fall at her hand from her bullets. She doesn’t need eight people and you know this. Call them off.” Jason’s lips purse as he visibly prepares his retort.
“Two extra guards, one extra vehicle when the children are with her. That’s it. Make it happen or call them all off besides the regulars. Your choice,” I say.
“Less vehicles means a lower tactical advantage,” he warns.
“It’s all chance, Jason,” I inform him. “You and I both know that tactical advantage won’t mean shit if they really want her.” My words are grave, but true. Everything we do is a precaution. My home is a fortress, but if anyone is willing to risk their life to get to her, they can do it. Jason shakes his head.
“What’s going on with you?” he asks. “You’re usually the most cautious guy I know. Now it’s like you’re staring death in the face like you really don’t care.”
“Oh, make no mistake, I care. If anything happens to my wife, I will personally find whoever’s responsible, shoot them in every extremity several times and watch them bleed out. I can’t very well do that if I’m dead, so yes. I care very much about life. But my wife is teetering on the edge of a proverbial cliff every damn day. We’ve had this discussion. I don’t have time to be meek. And after she and I have both confided in you about her fears and how she’s feeling, I can’t for the life of me fathom how you thought it was a solid idea to trail her with three vehicles and eight damn guards!”
The military man in Jason suddenly slips away and his expression is now unreadable. I have no idea what’s going through his head, but just like that…
“I’ll take care of it,” he says. I know you will. You were bordering on insubordination and I was about to suspend your ass.
“Thank you,” I nearly hiss before turning to Alex. “What’s the word on Myrick? Anything?” He shakes his head.
“The trail is cold, sir. No new leads at all,” Alex replies.
“Well, heat it up!” I say firmly. “Put some pressure on whoever you need to put some pressure on—the ex-wife, the offspring, that kid in the service, the FBI, the CIA, the fucking President, I don’t care! I want this motherfucker out of my hair! Start turning over some goddamn rocks and I guarantee you’ll see some bugs start running! And I never want to fucking see Aragon again!”
Alex’s eyes widen, and Jason sits up straight.
“That’s what I said,” I reinforce. “I never fucking want to see his ass again. Put his mug on facial recognition so that if he shows up within ten feet of my building, this place lights up like a fucking Christmas tree! I will wear my harness and that gun that he seems to think is useless every damn day and I’ll make sure that my wife stays strapped like Calamity fucking Jane, but he gets nowhere near any of us and you don’t need eight extra guards to make that happen. He’s starts shooting, you shoot back! And aim for his fucking head!”
I am totally beyond reason. I want blood, and I want it now. This situation has gone on for way too long and I’m tired of it taking over my goddamn life.
I don’t even think I hear them when they leave my office. I’m seeing red. I know that my station puts me and my family in a position of danger on a regular basis, which is why I want that exposé to air. That’s only a small message to the somewhat little fish that we won’t sit around and be fucked with anymore, but what about the big fish? How do you get that message to them?
Every time Russo sends that fucker out here, he’s acting like a cat playing with a mouse.
“Mr. Grey, if I was looking to cause you any harm, the deed would have been done by now…”
Well, fucking do it, then, you pussy ass bastard, because I’m not running, hiding, or cowering from you anymore.
“Turn this fucking car around.” Chuck looks at me in the rearview mirror, bemused.
“What?” he asks, his eyes wide. That’s when I realize that we’re still on the bridge.
“As soon as you can, turn this fucking car around and take me back home. There’s no way in hell I’m taking all this attention to Helping Hands.” He’s silent for a minute.
“Yes, ma’am,” he says, and I’m not even pissed that he’s calling me ma’am. I am pissed, however, that half of GEH security appears to be following me to work. Where are they supposed to stay while I’m working and meeting with residents—on the goddamn bleachers?
I’m fuming. Something’s going on and he’s not telling me what it is. I call Grace and try not to sound too agitated.
“Grace, I’m working from home today. There seems to be some kind of development that I need to get sorted with my husband.” There’s silence.
“I’m not prying but is everything okay?” she asks.
“I’m not sure, but it’s nothing you should be worried about. I’m certain we can figure out what’s going on with the situation. Is Marilyn there yet?”
“I don’t think so. If she is, I haven’t seen her.”
We get to the end of the bridge and Chuck takes the exit and makes to get back on the bridge headed home.
“If you see her, tell her to come to my house,” I say. “I’ve been thinking about something since I had to recruit members of security to help move office furniture yesterday. What do you think about having a full-time custodial crew instead of a contracted cleaning service? I know we would need consider the financial implications like benefits and whatnot, but I think the benefits of having someone in-house would outweigh those of having a service. You know, building maintenance, per se.” There’s a pause.
“I hadn’t considered it,” she says. “Have you done any research on it?”
“Well, no,” I say, “but I was thinking that with the problems that we had a couple of years ago with the cleaning service not covering certain areas of the building and having to inspect their work all the time and renegotiate the contracts, it’s worth looking into for several reasons. There are going to be more people in the building that are not just residents. The classrooms are now going to be utilized. There’s obviously going to be a need to have someone around that can fix things in a pinch—be a handyman, a janitor… Not only that, but having a staff makes people more accountable for the work that needs to be done.”
“Yes,” she says. “I can see where you’re going with that. And we’re going to have to look into offering benefits for staff anyway because we’re expanding. We’re going to be eligible for federal funding and grants now with our accreditation and we’re not as slim as we were before on our donations with the publicity we’ve been getting from your appearances and from the PSA that I’ve learned is still airing in some areas. We should probably put together a PSA of our own once we have the foundation of our programs in place.”
“Oh, that’s a fantastic idea, Grace,” I tell her. “It’s great that we have the Faces of Abuse campaign still airing, but now we’re going to be offering many more services, and we definitely need to get that word out there.”
“When is your segment with Christian supposed to run again?” she asks. “Cary and I don’t watch much television and I don’t want to miss it.”
“It runs on Monday night,” I tell her. “I thought about a little viewing party, but not on a Monday night.”
“Why not?” Grace says. “With a few minor exceptions, we basically write our own schedules. I think a viewing party is a great idea.” I shrug.
“I’ll talk to Christian about it. See what he thinks.” I was so critical in my viewing of the segment before that I didn’t really see it. I was just watching for “bloopers,” so to speak. Our conversation has gotten our caravan back across the bridge and onto Mercer Island.
“Marilyn and I will start researching the pros and cons of a service versus in-house custodial staff and see if we can come up with the numbers for you. Keri’s looking into her teaching credentials in the states, by the way. She informs me that she should have some solid information by the end of the week.” I look to Keri for confirmation and she nods.
“Okay. I’m going to start looking into some benefit packages for the employees of the center. Who was putting together the grant paperwork and request for funding?”
“That would be Courtney,” I tell her. “She’s also supposed to be getting us some kind of presentation by week’s end. She’s been pretty diligent with it and her studies.”
“Speaking of studies, Harmony is here today. I saw that she was here yesterday, too.” I told her to spend time with her mother. She doesn’t have much time left.
“Did she tell you about Tina?” I ask.
“Yes, and her unfortunate situation with that wretched husband of hers,” she adds. “Unfortunately, this is the way the divorce game is played, my dear. I don’t know anything about divorce law, but I know that divorces have held up lives for decades from people who don’t want the divorce and won’t sign the papers. A lot of cases have been won—or lost, depending on which side you’re on—because one party is just tired of fighting and simply gives up and gives in. I’m not sure there’s much that she can do but let him wait it out and give him want he wants short of paying him off to hurry up and sign the papers so that Tina can die in peace.”
“I have Al on it,” I reply. If all that needs to be done is he sign the papers and this is over, I’m not beyond paying this bastard off to go away. Maybe I’m getting too involved, but to me, this is just another way that the Boogeyman is bearing his teeth, even though he’s not bearing them at me. “What’s Harmony doing there anyway? I told her to spend some time with her mom.”
“Tina shooed her away and she doesn’t know how to deal with it. She’s young and going through some things herself right now. Handling two major life changes is taking its toll.”
“What about her classes?” I ask.
“Not until this afternoon.” I shake my head.
“Where is she now?”
“She’s helping Michelle out in the dorms—busy work for the most part.” We drive into the gate at the Crossing.
“Well, keep her busy until it’s time to go to school. I’m sure something’s going to give. Maybe have her help you with researching benefit packages.”
“Oh, yes, that’s a good idea,” she concurs.
“I’m going to touch bases with my husband and have him get in touch with the guy who did the Faces PSA—see if we can get a meeting.”
“Excellent, and I’ll get to work on Project Harmony and the benefits research.”
“Indeed, you know where to find me.” I end the call and text Marilyn to meet me at the mansion before I exit the car.
“Is everything okay?” A frowning Gail is walking quickly through the portico to help get the twins from the car. I gesture to the train of vehicles behind me.
“Imagine this driving up to Helping Hands,” I say. “We’d have news helicopters hovering over the Center!” She looks back at the Caravan of Love while I try not to slam the door after Keri has removed Mikey from the car. Chuck has already unbuckled Minnie’s seat and hands the carrier to Gail.
“Oh,” she says with a frown, looking at the line of Audis. “Why the entourage?” she asks. I shake my head.
“Ask His Highness,” I say, waving my hand disgustedly while breezing past her into the house.
“I don’t know if I’ve told you, but I’m redoing my office here, too,” I say to Marilyn as she types away on her MacBook while sitting in one of the seats across from my desk. She raises her eyes to me.
“Why?” she asks. “It’s so comfy and pretty.”
“It served the original purpose, but now, it looks too executive. It’s not Zen enough.”
“Oh… the Zen,” she says, tapping at her MacBook again. “How’s that working for you?”
“Some days it helps. Others, I’m struggling,” I admit.
“Well, you just started. Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.” Yeah, I know. I just wish the Boogeyman would stop rearing his ugly head at me. I’m fighting him. I’ve decided not to take his abuse lying down anymore. But damn, it’s exhausting! I’m trying not to internalize Harmony’s issue; Christian has the entire Intergalactic Force following me; and I haven’t even bothered to ask Marilyn if she’s taken a pregnancy test. She seems in better spirits, but who knows what that means. I need to talk to Ace in the worst way and I’m trying to wait until my appointment on Friday, but it’s hard as hell. I need some damn guidance.
For some reason, my need for guidance leads me to call my husband instead of my shrink.
“Butterfly… are you okay?” he answers frantically, another reason for me to believe that something more is going on than he’s letting on.
“Why wouldn’t I be okay, Christian?” I ask, keeping my voice even. He sighs.
“Don’t read anything into it,” he cautions. “I just got the word the you went back to the house instead of going in to work and just as I was about to call you, you called me. It startled me, that’s all.” I raise my eyebrow in disbelief.
“Well, I couldn’t take the Observation Committee to the Center,” I say stoically. “It would be counterproductive.”
“Yeah, about that,” he says. “Jason went all commando-special-ops on me and pulled that shit, but I straightened it out. You’ll have a couple of extra details with you, but that caravan shit is a wash. I’m sorry if it scared you.”
It didn’t scare me, it pissed me off.
“We’ll keep the detail to your car and one additional with the usual guards and maybe two others, and Butterfly, it’s just a precaution. You know me—I’d rather be safe than sorry any day, but even I know when too much is too much.”
I try not to react, but I can’t help the sigh of relief I release knowing that Jason was just going overboard and that there was no sniper or something waiting to pick me off at the Center.
“You do still carry your firearm with you, don’t you?” And just when I was starting to relax…
“Yes,” I reply.
“Good, because I had to remind him that you’re a proficient shot and that you stay armed so that he would back off a bit. Hell, you’d probably pick off somebody coming at you faster than any of them would… I’m reminded of a certain Monster Bitch.”
I can’t help but laugh, and the tension is broken again, which I’m sure was his intent.
“I have a purpose for my call,” I say, not noticing that Marilyn has left the room. Where did she go?
“What is it?”
“Well, first, I want to see if you can set a meeting with that guy who did the Faces of Abuse PSA. We’re thinking of doing one for the new services at Helping Hands and we need direction.”
“I’ll give him a call,” Christian says. “And second?”
“I don’t know if you’ve been informed, but Tina Franklin has taken a turn for the worst.” I hear him sigh.
“Really?” he says, his voice deflated.
“Unfortunately, yes. She’s at home on hospice. Harmony’s not doing very well, so this portion kind of has a two and a three.” He pauses.
I tell him about how Tina is pushing Harmony away in her last days. I’m certain she thinks it’s an attempt to spare Harmony the pain of watching her fade away. The problem is that she’s going to need these last moments to cling to when her mother is gone, and Tina is unintentionally taking those away from her. I beseech Christian to go and see her, maybe see if he can talk to her since he knows Tina so much better than I do. When he hesitates, I ask him how he would feel if this were Grace and he was in this position. He sighs.
“I’ll stop by after work,” he says, surrendering.
“There’s more,” I tell him.
“More than this? Sweet Jesus, what else?”
“Harmony’s divorce isn’t final. She had an attorney, but it turns out that the asshole was a spy for her husband. I’ve talked to Al about helping but he hasn’t gotten back to me yet. Her husband is stalling the proceedings waiting for Tina to die. He knows that Harmony is going to get an inheritance and if she gets it before they’re divorced…”
“He may be entitled to half,” Christian finishes. “Yes, the dirty business of divorce. Dad always talked about hating to see two people who once loved each other rip one another apart in court.”
“Isn’t there something that can be done?” I ask. “Can’t the court force that asshole to sign the papers? If not, Tina’s going to die or Harmony’s going to give in and—either way—he’s going to get what he wants.
“Short of busting the guys kneecaps and making him sign the papers, there’s no way around this.”
“Can we bust his kneecaps?” I ask, only half-serious.
“Butterfly…” my husband scolds.
“I know, I know,” I say, “it’s just that this guy has been dirt from the very beginning…”
I tell him the whole story about how the marriage was a farce from day one, the whole time the soon-to-be-ex-husband hoping to get his hands-on Harmony’s money not knowing that the money wasn’t Harmony’s. I explain that Harmony is not a trust fund kid like Tina’s other children may have been; that Harmony is the adopted great-granddaughter that her parents didn’t want and how Tina kept her money out of the snake’s hands when she saw through him. I told him about the guy’s philandering and how horribly he treated Harmony once he realized he wasn’t getting a hold of her money, forcing her to leave to avoid the terrible treatment and infidelity.
“Now, it looks like he’s going to get what he was after all along,” I conclude.
“Well, that explains a lot,” Christian says. “I was wondering how Tina could have a daughter so young. I’m also wondering if all of her children are going to come home now that she’s in hospice, or if they’re all still too busy with their lives.”
I don’t say what I’m thinking… that they’ll all show up after she’s dead looking for their cut.
“So, we have a parasite on our hands,” Christian says, “and short of going the old-school route and giving him the beating that he so richly deserves or making him an offer he can’t refuse, he’s going to get off Scott free with half of Harmony’s inheritance. I’m not buying that. There’s a way around that somehow.”
“I don’t see that there is, Christian, except for Harmony not to get the money… and that’s punishing Harmony for her asshole ex-husband’s actions.”
“I’m a businessman. There’s always a way,” he says confidently. “I don’t mean to rush you, baby, but there’s a ton of shit that I have to get to today and you just gave me a couple of additional projects to add to the pile. Was there anything else you needed?”
“No, that was it. I’ll call you if I think of anything else.”
“Okay… now I’m going to see Tina after work. Unless I can get out of here early, that means I’ll be home late today.” His voice is placating, like he thinks I’ll break—not that I can blame him.
“Okay, that’s fine. I won’t wait up,” I say.
“Not that damn late!” he adds.
“I get it, Christian. You’ll be home later. I’ll see you when you get here.” We exchange I love you’d and end the call. So, the threat’s not so bad that I need eight people following me, but he wants to make sure that I’m carrying my gun. Like he said, Ana, don’t read anything into it.
The whole thing with the adoption has made me think about my biological family—or the lack thereof—and I go to that website I logged into last year. The damn thing’s been charging my account every month for a year and I haven’t even been paying attention to it. I think I remember Mare saying something about it right before the twins were born and I said that I would get to it, but nothing since then.
Nothing from Marilyn anyway.
When I log into the website, it’s full of hits and notifications. Holy cow, Batman! Are these all people who are related to me? Shit, it’s going to take me months to get through all this data and all these people!
I log out of the site. My brain can’t even absorb that shit right now. Is this a box that I really want to open? After nearly 30 years, here comes cousin Ana? And are these people legit or are they just people on the site who may know who I am and are trying to get a piece of the rock?
“Dear Jesus, not now,” I say, opening my email program instead. I see the email from Mia that I’ve been avoiding, the one with the link to her wedding site. I roll my eyes and sigh.
“Might as well look,” I say aloud and click on the link.
The site opens to a background of Mia and Ethan on their wedding day, all smiles and gleefully posing as Mr. and Mrs. Kavanaugh. There are so many links and features that I don’t know where to begin. My first destination is the guest list. I have no idea who put this together, but each person who signed the guest book is featured in this section—pictures with their scribbled names underneath and their relation to the bride and groom, if any. I quickly find the picture of me and Christian. Someone caught us walking into the ballroom together, I have no idea when. We’re very casual and he’s holding my hand. It’s a simple picture of us and I like it—not posed or phony, just me and Christian as we are… well, most of the time.
Most of the other pictures of the guests were either pictures from the photo booths or candid shots like me and Christian. I don’t know if Adelaide will peruse Mia’s website, but if she does, the guestlist will alert her that her granddaughter is still in town, or at least was for the wedding. Her photo is with Vickie, protectively holding her around the waist. Her smile is large and genuine. She looks radiant, and Vickie’s adoration of her clearly shows through the photograph. I won’t alert her that the picture is here. I think it’ll only cause her undue anxiety. She travels in some of the same circles as her grandparents. If it’s meant to be that they bump into each other, then they will.
I get lost in the website, reliving the night through many of the photographs and enjoying the journey. I even get a little miffed watching Marlow dance with his little walking-fart-dress-wearing date. Geez, I hope she’s not a girlfriend. Then there’s the picture of Carrick holding Grace close to him on the dancefloor and planting a tender kiss on her cheek. Elliot and Val didn’t escape the smooch-cam either. And of course, me and Christian. There’s even a picture of Christian placing a tender kiss on Tina’s cheek when she and Harmony were about to leave the reception.
A kinder, gentler Christian Grey…
I didn’t, however, expect to see a video clip of us singing for Mia. I guess somebody couldn’t resist.
I hope I’ve convinced my wife to resume going into the office. I haven’t had a cooking lesson from Gail in over a week and I’m certain that I’ve completely forgotten how to crack an egg… which is ridiculous. I proceed with what I was about to do when my wife called me and interrupted my thought process.
“Terry Smalls here.”
“Smalls, Grey. I’ve been waiting for an update on my grandfather’s storage bins. What’s the news?”
“We’re still sorting, sir,” he says. “It’s like one of those boxes where you open it and there’s another box and you open it and there’s another box and you open it and there’s another box. I think you or your uncle should look at these manifests…”
“Why don’t you just tell me what’s in there?” I ask impatiently.
“Where do I start?” he laments. “We’ve got about five bins full of antique furniture—real quality stuff. We’ve got at least two and maybe three bins of knick knacks, and when I say ‘knick knacks,’ I don’t mean ‘whatnots.’ I mean old fashioned baby clothes, bronzed baby shoes, somebody’s wedding dress—According to the manifest, there’s a collection of Waterford Crystal somewhere in one of these bins. You know they don’t make that anymore, right?”
“Yes, I’m aware,” I say.
“Oh! Yeah, and three more cars.” I nearly drop the phone.
“More cars?” I ask.
“Yeah, three,” he confirms. “We haven’t located them yet.”
“Then how do you know they’re there?” I inquire.
“They’re on the manifests,” he says.
“Classics? Restored, like the Mustang?”
“I don’t know, sir. We haven’t found them yet…”
“Goddammit, drop everything and find the cars first! My grandfather was sick well before he died. Those things might have been sitting there for years!”
“Will do, sir.” I end the call and push my hands through my hair. My grandfather was fucking rich, or he spent his money in such a way as to accumulate an array of valuable things that he must have horded for his sons—four classic cars, four brothers. That’s got to be what that is.
I must shake the thought from my head about the cars because there’s nothing I can do about this until I know what the cars are and what kind of shape they’re in.
I spend the morning and part of the afternoon pretending to concentrate on the business of mergers and acquisitions, but it’s no use. I want to know what the fuck is taking Smalls so long to unearth those damn vehicles. Then, I get the news that one of my safe havens is about to fall prey to the worst type of vermin and, like I said, short of breaking his kneecaps, I don’t know that there’s much I can do to help her.
Short of breaking his kneecaps… I’m not beyond breaking his kneecaps, but let’s see what we can get done legally first.
“Well, truth be told, Chris,” Al says once I summon him to my office, “I know about assets and I love a good juicy fight, but I never really got into divorce law.”
“It’s a contract,” I tell him. “It’s the same thing. Think about a merger that’s about to happen. We’ve got assets that we want to hide without tipping off the buyer or the SEC.”
“I didn’t say that I didn’t know what to do. I said that basically, this isn’t my area of expertise.”
“Okay, so get to the point. What does this all mean?” I ask, impatiently.
“Nothing. He can’t touch her inheritance. If they were still in love and planning to be married for life, he still couldn’t touch her inheritance. The only way that he could touch her inheritance is if she intermingled the money together with the marital assets somehow, like if she put the money in a joint account or if it was property and he paid to repair it. Other than that, he can hold the divorce up until hell freezes over. He’ll never get that money.” I just stare at him.
“I thought all money that came into the marriage after the vows was automatically community property,” I protest.
“Nope,” he says. “Even in community property states, inheritances are not ‘his, hers, and ours.’ If that money is deposited into an account that belongs only to Ms. Harmony, Mr. Harmony can’t fuck with it.” Well, I’ll be damned.
“Have you told Harmony yet?” I ask.
“I haven’t had the chance.”
“Let me do it,” I say. “I’m going to see Aunt Tina this evening and I’d love to be able to put both their fears to rest simultaneously.”
“Be my guest,” he says.
That fucker better be glad I’ve discovered that he can’t get any of Harmony’s money. I’m not the vigilante-save-every-damsel-in-distress-that-crosses-my-path guy, but any discomfort I’ve ever inflicted on any woman with few exceptions has been consensual. I hate for men to take advantage of women, especially emotionally and even more so financially, but I hate it even more when a jerk or a crook gets over on the good guy, and that seems to happen a lot.
Hearing the news about Harmony and Tina helps me to relax a bit and I get a little more done during the afternoon than I do during the morning. I decide to leave the office early to go see about Aunt Tina, but not before I touch bases with Smalls. How fucking hard can it be to find four whole ass vehicles?
Just when I’m about to lose my complete patience with Smalls and send someone else to Detroit to get the job done, my intercom comes alive.
“Mr. Grey, I have Terry Smalls on line 2.”
Without even answering her, I pick up line 2.
“It’s late afternoon here, so I know it’s after dark there. What took so long?” I bark into the phone. “They’re cars. What took hours to find cars?”
“Well, sir, all the cars are parked behind packed boxes like the first one was. Knowing that at least one of them has fine crystal in it, I’m sure you didn’t want us to go tearing through them like a bull in a china shop.” His voice is crisper than I would like, but he has been rummaging through storage bins all day. I bite back the urge to reprimand him.
“Oh, you found the damn cars?” I ask.
“Oh, we found the cars. Your grandfather apparently has a wonderful sense of humor,” he says mirthlessly. Watch it, Skippy.
“Meaning?” I say, nearly growling.
“Meaning,” he begins, softening his tone, “finding the cars meant going through riddles on the manifest. We unpacked at least two rows in four bins before we found the last car. One of my guys apparently likes logic problems, so he was quickly able to figure out the last two saving us a massive amount of time.”
“Riddles?” I ask incredulously. “Like what?”
“Oh, God, sir, please don’t put me through that again,” he laments, but continues anyway. “Things like two farmers go to the market to buy wheat one buys 45 bags the other buys 75 bags when they get home they split it evenly between three farmers but only one farmer paid for it and… you get the idea.” He says the entire thing without stopping. “When you solve the riddle, you get the number of a manifest or a storage bin, only we didn’t figure it out until after we found the second car. We’ll be here all night putting these boxes away.”
“You’ve got the boxes out already. Why not work in shifts getting some of that stuff sorted instead of shoving it back into the bins? I only suggest that because it’s got to be a better use of time than to shove it all back in there just to pull it back out again.”
“My guys are tired. I’ll run it by them, but I’m worried about accuracy with an exhausted crew.”
“You’re right. Not a smart idea. What can you tell me about the cars?”
“Well, we can see the cars, but we can’t move them. They’re open, but the keys and the titles are all hidden in RiddleLand again, and I have a feeling these are personal.” Oh, dear Lord.
“Please, explain,” I sigh.
“Well, in the glove box of each car, there’s a riddle. After each riddle, it says, ‘Ask the boys.’” I wish I had more patience for this. I’m not flying back out to Detroit. I don’t care if he finds gold bullion in one of those bins.
“Can you give me an example?” I ask.
“’What has four fingers and a thumb but is not living?’ That one was easy enough, a glove. But what does that mean to me? At first, we thought it meant look in the glove box of the other cars, but there were just more riddles. That’s when we saw the words, ‘Ask the boys.’ So, like I said. I think these are more personal.” Now, I’m exhausted and I haven’t even done any of the work.
“Send me pictures of the cars and the riddles, please. I’ll talk to my uncle. By the way, what kind of condition are the other cars in?”
“Cherry,” he says. “You have to see them. There’s no way I can explain it.” Cherry… that’s pretty ripe.
“Email them, pack up the boxes. Go have dinner and get some rest. I’ll be waiting for your call tomorrow.” My way of telling him that I won’t bother him since I know it’s going to take forever to get the boxes back into the bins.
It’s about five thirty when we arrive at Aunt Tina’s. The butler doesn’t recognize me when he opens the door, not that he has any reason to, but at first, he denies me entry or access to see her.
“I know what condition she’s in and she’s a very dear friend of mine. I’d like to see her please. Tell her it’s Christian,” I insist.
“I’m afraid that’s impossible,” he says, his nose in the air. “Mrs. Franklin is not seeing visitors.”
“She’ll see me,” I persist. He doesn’t relent. “Is Harmony here?” His face distorts in distaste. What the fuck is that all about?
“No, she’s not,” he announces. As if in answer to his question, a late model Jetta drives up the round drive. One of the other staff opens the driver side door and Harmony steps out.
“Christian,” she says, recognition setting in as she approaches the door. “How are you? It’s good to see you.”
“I wish I could say the same,” I complain. “I mean to say that it’s good to see you, but I can’t seem to get in to see Tina.” Harmony frowns.
“She’s not doing very well,” she says.
“Yes, I know. My wife told me. She explained her condition to me at Mia’s wedding and she asked me to come by and see her. Here I am, but I can’t get in.” She looks at the butler.
“Roger, what’s the meaning of this?” Harmony says. Roger looks at her but doesn’t acknowledge her. “Let Christian in. What’s wrong with you?”
“Ms. Tina is not in any condition to see guests,” he says snootily.
“That’s not for you to decide!” Harmony retorts. “Are you her doctor, now? Move.”
He says nothing but refuses to grant me access.
“Roger, I know you’ve worked for my mother for many years and you know the lay of this property like the back of your hand, but this. Is not. Your. House!” she hisses. Roger’s lips form a straight line. “Now, step aside, and please allow multibillionaire and mega-entrepreneur Christian Trevelyan Grey into my home!”
She’s glaring at him and he glares right back at her like she’s nobody. I’ve had enough. I shove this fucker aside and step into the house.
“Harmony, where’s Aunt Tina?” I ask, ignoring Roger’s appalled gasps and scoldings.
“She’s upstairs in her room,” she says. I take the spiral stairs two at a time. I don’t know why I feel such a sense of urgency, but I need to get to her to tell her what I’ve discovered and to let her know not to push Harmony away.
“Which room?” I ask Harmony when we get to the top of the stairs.
“Third door on the right,” she says.
“You can’t just go barging in on someone like this!” Roger protests. I whirl around on him in an instant.
“I’ve had all I’m going to take from you!” I hiss. “Now, if you don’t shut up…” I let the words hang in the air. Jason comes casually up the stairs behind me and stands behind Roger. He deflates at the sight of Jason and shrinks back a bit.
“How do you get anything done with him around?” I ask.
“It’s a trial,” Harmony admits.
“Let me guess. He knows more than you do and won’t listen to anything you say because he’ll only take orders from Tina. What’s more is that he walks around with a haughty ass entitled attitude looking down on everybody even though he’s nothing more than the help.” I’m staring at him waiting for a response or reaction from him. I get none.
“You’ve hit that nail right on the head,” Harmony says. Yes, I said the help. Gail, Jason, Chuck—that’s my family that happen to be my employees. They don’t act entitled and they certainly don’t treat my guests like vermin. So, yes, he’s nothing more than the help.
“Does he have any idea that everything he gazes upon and holds dear is going to you when your mother dies?” Roger’s eyes widen and his face pales. Harmony’s eyes widen as well.
“How do you know that?” she asks, surprised.
“I’m Christian Grey. I have my ways.” I say, never taking my eyes off Roger. I don’t know that, but he doesn’t know that I don’t know. “The very reason for my visit is to let you know that I’ve discovered some information about your inheritance and your asshole husband that should put your and Tina’s fears to rest.”
“I… I thought Ana had her friend Allen working on it,” Harmony says. I finally break my gaze with Roger and look at Harmony.
“She did,” I tell her. “Allen’s my head of legal. He’s a specialist in asset law, but he’s not a divorce attorney. No worries, though. I spoke to my father, too. He’ll be representing you in your divorce. But, first, I need to share some news with you and Aunt Tina.” I gesture to her to lead the way. She steps in front of me and walks to Tina’s door. As we’re about to enter, Roger makes to enter with us. I hold my hand up at his chest.
“We won’t need you, Roger,” I say. “Jason?” Jason steps in front of Roger as Harmony and I step into the bedroom.
“Sir!” Jason stops me somewhat urgently. He leans in to me.
“Sir, I’m getting feedback on my earpiece,” he says lowly. My brow furrows and I shake my head. What does that mean?
“This room is bugged,” he informs me. I’m instantly horrified.
“I’m positive,” he confirms.
“There’s no way to scramble the signal?”
“Don’t dawdle there at the door! Come in!” Tina demands, her back to us. I look to Jason.
“I can call Alex. It’ll probably fuck up your cell signal, too.” I nod and put my hand in the small of Harmony’s back.
“Careful what you say,” I whisper to her as we walk across the room to Aunt Tina.
“Mom?” Harmony says softly. Tina takes her hand.
“You just don’t listen, do you, child?” she says sweetly. Harmony can’t control her emotions.
“It’s my fault, Aunt Tina,” I say, emerging from behind the chair. Her face is worn and tired but lights up when she sees me.
“Christian!” she says with excitement. “Are you being a bad influence on my Harmony?” Harmony kneels at her mother’s feet and lays her head in Tina’s lap. She weeps quietly, and Tina gently strokes her hair.
“This is why I don’t want you here,” she says, trying to comfort Harmony.
“This is exactly why she needs to be here, Aunt Tina,” I say softly touching her shoulder. “These will be her last moments with you. She needs every one of them.” Aunt Tina looks up at me and nods, still stroking Harmony’s hair.
“At least do your mom a solid and don’t cry every time you see me,” Aunt Tina says to Harmony, who tries to control her sniffles.
“Yes, ma’am,” she says, her voice soft. Tina shifts a bit in her chair.
“See? I’m not gone yet,” Aunt Tina says. “I just saw a commercial that you’re going to be on that program next Monday—you and your wife. What’s that about?” I look at my phone and I still have a very clear signal.
“We did a segment somewhat introducing ourselves to the world.” Aunt Tina tsk’s.
“You don’t need to be introduced to the world,” she says. “They all know who you are.”
“No, they don’t,” I smile. “They just think they do. Your butler certainly doesn’t know me. And he doesn’t like me either.”
“He’s just protective,” she says. “He’s been with me for a long time.”
“Is that why he doesn’t respect Harmony either?” I ask. Harmony raises her head from her mother’s lap.
“Christian…” She shakes her head.
“My dear, if Tina is the only one he’ll listen to, then Tina is the one that has to let him know he can’t treat you that way,” I inform her. Tina’s frail hand lifts Harmony’s chin.
“Is this true?” she asks. “Is he disrespectful to you?”
“He just doesn’t know me, Momma,” she says sweetly.
“Nonsense!” Tina says, pressing a button on the table next to her bed. Roger bursts through the door almost immediately, pushing past Jason and appearing before Tina.
“Yes, ma’am,” he says, making eye-contact only with Tina.
“Roger are you being a pompous asshole again?” she says. His brows furrow.
“Ma’am?” he says.
“You treat my daughter as if she were me, today and from now on, or you can pack your things and leave this house tonight! Are we clear?” His eyes widen.
“Ma’am!” he says shocked. “Ma’am, I assure you…”
“I’m not looking for any of your English butler-school-taught bullshit right now, Roger. I am looking for a yes or no answer. Are. We. Clear?” He straightens.
“Yes…” he says. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Now, apologize to my daughter for how you’ve apparently been treating her when my back is turned.” He turns to Harmony.
“Ms. Harmony, I’m deeply sorry for my behavior…”
“Your insolence!” Tina demands. Roger clears his throat.
“For my insolence,” he corrects. “I humbly beg your forgiveness and assure you that it will never happen again.” Harmony turns away from him and rests her chin on her mother’s lap.
“It’s my understanding that you were rude to my guest as well,” Aunt Tina says. “I’m appalled, not only because he’s a dear friend of my family but also because you felt you have the right to treat anyone who visits my home that way. I’m dying, Roger, but I’m not dead yet! You should be glad I don’t fire you right now. I’m waiting.” Roger raises his gaze to me and I raise my hand to stop him.
“I don’t want his apology,” I say. Aunt Tina looks up at me.
“Christian, is that the behavior of a gentleman?” she scolds.
“No, ma’am,” I say, “and I don’t feel the need to be a gentleman in his presence.” I turn back to Aunt Tina while he continues to glare at me. “Forgive me, Aunt Tina.” She covers my hand and nods.
“You can go now,” she says to Roger. When he leaves, she opens her mouth as if to yawn. “Ah,” she says.
“What is it, Mom?” Harmony asks.
“There’s almost always a constant humming in my ears,” she says. “It’s gone.” I look at my phone. There’s no signal. Jason has found a way to scramble the signal in the room. I examine Aunt Tina.
“Aunt Tina, do you have a hearing aid?” I ask. I can’t see one, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have one. Sure enough, she pulls a device out of her ear that’s no bigger than a fingertip.
“I’ve had it calibrated a hundred times, but it doesn’t help.” I sigh.
“Both ears?” I ask. She nods. “Aunt Tina, I have some things to tell you.”
A/N: Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/raising-grey/
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