Again, the email will go out later. It’s late as hell and I’m tired as fuck.
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…
It’s evening now, and I haven’t left Tina’s house all day. Smalls called to tell me that Uncle Stanley has identified all the cars and located the keys and titles, but of course, the batteries are all dead and must be charged or replaced before the cars can be moved. I tell him to follow Uncle Stanley’s instructions on the cars as I have my hands full sniffing out espionage here in the Franklin home. I’ll have to deal with the storage facility when I get home… or tomorrow.
The bugs and surveillance devices planted around the house were pretty amateur devices, but there were a lot of them—cameras to catch every angle and listening devices to catch every word. They were so substandard that they had to be placed every few feet to catch conversations. A professional would have been able to set up the proper equipment with one camera—maybe two—and one listening device. These things were sprinkled all over the damn rooms, Harmony’s and Tina’s room in particular, and it turns out that the other two main rooms that Tina inhabits are the library and the parlor on the second floor, both hot as Jason calls it.
Once we’re certain that we’ve removed all the devices and we’ve done a final sweep, I send Roger to the bathroom with one of his guards to wash his face. He looks like shit, but the bleeding has stopped and there’s no need for stitches. I take him to the bar so we can have a little chat, pour him a shot which he refuses to drink, and then remove my suitcoat and vest. I roll up my sleeves and tell him that I’m prepared to beat him until every inch of his body looks like his mouth and then turn him over to the two very unhappy guards that had to babysit him all day if he doesn’t tell me every fucking detail that he knows, and to be careful not to leave anything out.
“You know every fucking thing that happens in this house. Nothing gets by you and I know you know about this, so start talking!”
He starts talking and doesn’t stop for a straight hour. I had to turn on the camera on my phone to capture everything. I didn’t intend to—I just wanted to know if he was working with anyone. Not only did I find out who he was working with and what their plans were, but I also got a complete recorded confession. It may not hold up in a court of law, I don’t know, but it’s enough for a bluff, and enough of an insurance policy to drive home the point that I’m about to make.
“Is that everything, you piece of shit? Because if I discover one tiny little detail that you didn’t tell me, I’m coming after you wherever you are in the world, because you sure as hell won’t be here. You got that?”
“Th-that’s everything,” he stutters. I stop the recording.
“I don’t like you,” I say. “I don’t trust you. I would gladly pay any amount of money to make you disappear—not to you, to someone who could make it happen for me. You took advantage of a very sweet woman who has done nothing but help people since the day I met her, and I can’t even fathom why, nor do I want to know. So, here’s what’s going to happen now, you goddamn parasite.
“I’m going to allow you to stand up and walk out of this room. The two gentlemen who have been your companions for the day are going to accompany you to your quarters where you will pack your things and leave this house. I never want to hear your name or see your face ever again in my life. So, that means that if you leave this house talking shit to anybody about me or this family, remember that I have a recording that can go viral and make your fucking life a living fucking hell, not to mention that I’m sure that my attorney can find some kind of charge or lawsuit against you for the invasion of this family’s privacy—an opportunity that I’m certain Harmony would be too eager to exploit once her mother has passed on.
“But if all else fails, let’s not discount the fact that I will hunt you down like the worthless dog that you are!”
I pause for a moment and glare at him, observing the beads of sweat forming on his forehead and the droplets sliding down his temples.
“I don’t know what kind of power you think you had, but you didn’t bank on a ruthless motherfucker like me… did you?”
I pause for a few moments more to let that sink in before deciding that I’ve had enough of this poser.
“Never darken this family’s door again and if you do, may God have mercy on your miserable soul. You have one hour to pack what you can and get the hell out of here. Any questions, Roger, or do I need to show you just how pissed off I really am?”
Roger’s face is clammy and pale when he leaves the house exactly an hour later. I’ll have him watched, but his tactics and techniques thus far show me that he’s not going to be a problem. A little while later, the rest of the staff returns and Aunt Tina—after having had a restful day and afternoon—is alert enough to explain to them that Roger is gone, and a temporary replacement will be here in the morning. Nothing else is said about the matter.
It’s after dinner when we wrap everything up and prepare to head to the Crossing. Jason has arranged for the shifts of security at Aunt Tina’s house and I’ll arrange for Windsor to come in the morning. The house isn’t in too bad a state of disarray, although there was a bit of collateral damage in the library and in Harmony’s room removing the video equipment. I’ve arranged for those repairs to be done over the weekend.
“Do we have any idea what he was doing with all this stuff?” Harmony asks. I don’t really know what to tell her right now. I have to process the information that asshole gave me and see if we can pull any footage from the equipment we’ve confiscated from him. No doubt, the little worm got pictures of her dressing and intimate moments when she was alone… who knows what else.
“Once I have my people analyze the information, we’ll have more answers,” I tell her. I know who he was in cahoots with, and I’m not really sure that I want to reveal that right now. In fact, I’m certain that I don’t.
“Well,” she begins, “I don’t know how to thank you for what you’ve done. There’s no telling what he would have done had you not found him out.” Her voice softens, and I see the change in her eyes.
Oh, shit, I lament inwardly.
“Tina means a lot to me,” I tell her. “I don’t know what his plans were after her passing, but they sure as hell couldn’t have been good.”
“Well,” she says, closing the space between us and flashing large, blue pupils at me, “If there’s anything I can do to make it up to you…” She allows her sentence to trail off. There’s no mistaking what she’s referring to, and I’m going to nip this shit in the bud right here and now.
“Harmony, I care very much about your mother, but I’m a very happily married man and you’ve met my wife. You must know this isn’t going anywhere.”
As if snapping out of a trance, her eyes change again, and her hands cover her face.
“Oh, God, what the hell am I doing?” she laments deeply. Ooooookay, is this like a multiple personality thing?
“Please… oh, please pretend that didn’t just happen,” she begs. “I… I don’t know what’s wrong,” her voice is sober as she turns away from me. “It’s been like this ever since I was twelve years old. Too young for sex, right? Wrong! I never figured out this need to have everybody want me, but it’s there… and I fight it every day. That’s how Ken was able to get in. He just showed me more attention than the other guys and that was all I needed. And you…” She turns around to face me.
“You’re extremely attractive, Christian, but really—I don’t want you that way. If anything, I might be feeling a little hero worship because you effectively saved us from the bad guy, but that whole bitch-in-heat thing…”
She shakes her head and sighs. She’s obviously embarrassed by her behavior… and she obviously has a problem.
“And Ana… Oh God, I would never hurt Ana,” she groans, shaking her head. “She’s been so nice to me.” She raises her eyes to me again. “Old habits are hard to break… dumb ones, even harder. Please, forgive me.” I sigh.
“You need to talk to somebody about this,” I tell her. She sighs.
“I think it may be too late for me,” she says.
“If you really believe that, then you’re studying the wrong thing,” I inform her. “It’s never too late, and you need to talk to somebody… although, under the circumstances, I wouldn’t recommend my wife.”
“Do I look insane to you?” she asks, her eyes wide. “I realize that judging by my recent behavior, I may appear a bit unstable, but off my rocker I am not. Probably not a good idea to tell my hopeful mentor that I came onto her husband like a classless hoochie. Yeah, no… Just please, forget this ever happened and never ever mention it again. I mean never ever ever ever… like ever!” She truly sounds disgusted with herself, and I believe she’s contrite.
“I won’t mention that this happened, as long as it never, ever, ever happens again! Like ever!” I say, pointing at her. “You need to understand that my wife and I just went through something almost identical to this and we’re still recoiling from the effects. The only reason why I’m not mentioning this to her is because I think it’ll do more harm than good but make no mistake. I will not hesitate to tell her every tiny little sordid detail if you ever do this again.”
“Christian, if I’m dumb enough to come onto you again, I’ll tell her before you get the chance,” she says.
“You’ve admitted you have a problem, Harmony. You’re going to be a target, because your about to be an heiress. Get some help before you fall into the clutches of another Ken. I’m very serious about this.” She sighs.
“Any suggestions?” she asks.
“Unfortunately, no. I really think you should do some research and find someone that you feel comfortable with.” I stand and button my suit jacket. “I have to go. My wife is going to think I fell off the face of the earth.” She nods but doesn’t stand, dropping her gaze.
“If it’s okay, can Melinda show you out? I’m feeling a bit…” She lets her sentence trail off again.
“Don’t let this prevent you from calling me or Ana if you need something.” She nods and quickly wipes a tear away that has escaped from her eye. I think she’s suffered enough. I leave the room and head for the front door.
“I have something to tell you, Christian, and I really don’t want any shit from you about it.”
I’ve barely gotten into the house when I’m greeted in my study by my agitated wife. I haven’t even removed my jacket yet. I examine her stance and I’m more than surprised at her statement. However, noting her exasperated tone, I now want to know what she has to tell me.
“O… kay,” I reply reluctantly, taking my seat and unbuttoning my jacket.
“I went to visit someone today,” she says, walking into the office and taking a seat in one of the chairs in front of my desk. She looks around my office as if she’s examining the room. You’ve been in here a hundred times, Butterfly. Get on with it.
“And who did you visit?” I ask, trying to bring her back on track.
“Kenneth Carter,” she says, bringing her gaze back to mine while crossing her legs at the knee and sitting back in her seat. My brow furrows.
“Kenneth Carter?” I question. “Why the hell did you go see him?” She raises a brow at me.
“You know who he is?” she retorts. I fold my arms.
“I just found out today,” I inform her. How the hell does she know who he is?
“How did you find out?” she asks.
“We’re getting off track,” I say, reining in my impatience. “Why don’t you tell me why you went to visit Harmony’s husband first before we get into a second discussion…” and why the fuck am I just now hearing about this.
“I went to confront him,” she says. “I know that he’s holding out trying to get some money from Harmony’s inheritance. And if her previous lawyer was working both sides, he also knows that he can’t touch that money. So, his only other option is to antagonize her until she gives in and pays him off. I let him know that’s not going to happen and that he should just go on and sign the divorce papers.” Oh, for fuck’s sake.
“And how did he take that news?” I ask sarcastically.
“Not very well,” she responds, unfazed by my sarcasm. “He threatened to drag the divorce out indefinitely, holding her life hostage for as long as he felt so inclined.” Oh, this fucker is going to need a visit from me, I see.
“I know that look,” she says. “Your appearance won’t do anything that mine didn’t already do.” I raise my brow at her.
“No offense, Butterfly, but… you’re a woman—a beautiful woman, but a woman nonetheless. Guys like that who like to victimize women, you don’t scare him.” Butterfly laughs knowingly, causing me to frown. What so damn funny?
“And that, my chauvinistic husband, is the exact reason why he’s going to sign those divorce papers. He may not sign them until Tuesday or Wednesday morning, but he’s going to sign them.” She smiles victoriously at me. What in the hell?
“And what makes you so sure?” I ask, leaning forward on my desk and clasping my hands together.
“That bravado thing you’ve got going on, that’s exactly what he expects. He’s totally expecting for some goon to come up to him with the ‘leave the little lady alone’ gig. I’m willing to bet that he’s taken more than a few ass whippings in his day and it doesn’t faze him. If you can take a hit, the threat of another hit doesn’t do much. However…”
She leans forward in her seat, elbows on the armrest and both Louboutin-clad feet flat on the floor.
“A ‘little lady’ looking you square in your eye and telling you to back the fuck off because her dick is bigger than yours, that gives you cause for pause.”
I glare at her, my eyes wide. What in the ever-loving fuck?
“You said that?” I ask incredulously.
“I did,” she replies, sitting back in the seat again and crossing her legs. “I let him know that I once knew somebody just like him and made it no secret that the fucker is dead now. I advised him to sign the papers and move on or his next visit may not be flowers and a chat…”
“Wait, wait, wait… you sent him flowers?” I ask incredulously.
“From a street vendor outside his office,” she replies. “It was the only way to get him outside.”
“Flowers brought him outside.” It’s a statement, not a question.
“No, the accompanying note that said he’s a piece of shit brought him outside.”
Who is this woman and what has she done with my wife?
“So,” she continues, “Now you’ve got this cocky ass bitch in a $3000 Tom Ford suit and a $1000 pair of Louboutins with the backdrop of a $70,000 Audi—and two better-than-six-foot-goons—telling you that she won’t piss with you because you don’t have the equipment. That’s more than a little bit scary if for no other reason except fear of the unknown.
“You could be seven feet tall and show up dressed like Rambo with a bazooka strapped to your back and it still wouldn’t have been as effective as my visit today. I can guarantee you that. He knows what to expect when he’s confronted with the Bens and the Chucks and the Jasons and the Christian Greys. He knows what’s coming. He may not fully know how bad it can get, but he knows what’s coming. But a cocky woman? One who gets in his face and won’t stand down? He doesn’t know what to do with that. He’s accustomed to the young Harmony’s and girls like her who cede to his ‘wisdom.’ A ‘get in your face’ bitch who’s warning you off? Totally out of his league.”
I twist my lips. I think he was just ogling her body and she mistook his speechlessness for fear.
“And the signing on Tuesday?” I begin, still disbelieving of her effectiveness with this asshole. “Is there a court date on Tuesday?”
“Not that I know of, but he will have seen that special by then and me blowing the heads off targets several feet away.”
“And what if he decides to go public with your threat?” I caution.
“Who’s going to believe him?” she retorts. “He asked who I was, I told him to watch Monday night and find out. That night or the next day, he files a report that the girl on TV threatened him, much less Anastasia Grey. I’m questioning his mental capacity and I know I did it.”
I roll my eyes. I so want to chain her to a wall and flog her right now. This was ridiculous, and it could have been disastrous had this asshole had any balls.
“Now, how do you know who he is?” she asks. I shake my head.
“We found upwards of a hundred audio and visual recording devices in Tina’s house. Roger had his hand in the scheme, whatever it was in its entirety. I’ll give you one guess who his accomplice was.” She thinks for a moment, then her eyes widen.
“Kenneth?” she asks incredulously. “Kenneth Carter?” I nod. “He was spying on them? Why?” I shrug.
“Maybe to get some footage of Harmony that he could use in court; maybe to get his hands on Aunt Tina’s money. We don’t know. All the information that we gathered is on the way to the GEH lab.”
“And Robert… or Roger… or whatever his name is?” she asks.
“He was a good little puppy,” I reply. “I got a recorded confession from him that’s going to make it much easier to analyze any data we gather. He spilled his guts, so I’m sure that whatever we don’t know, we can figure out.”
“Hmm,” she says.
“Hmm, what?” I ask.
“Over a hundred recording devices. How did that guy do that all by himself with no help? I can’t see Kenneth strolling into the Franklin mansion and offering to help him plant bugs and listening devices without drawing attention to himself. Hell, I don’t see that narcissistic asshole helping with anything.” That’s a good point.
“All the rooms that were bugged are generally unoccupied most of the time except for Harmony’s and Aunt Tina’s bedrooms. Harmony’s bedroom was bugged before she arrived—Roger wouldn’t let her move into any other room except back into her own. Aunt Tina’s, we’re thinking that was bugged while she was in the hospital or seeing a doctor or even at a social event, like Mia’s wedding. We’ll be able to get a time frame once the data is organized.”
“How long will that take?” she asks.
“Barney’s going to have a team working on it, but there’s no way to tell right now. What’s most important is that we got that asshole and his bugs out of the house. So, Windsor will be starting over there tomorrow morning.” She nods. She stands from her seat and I think she’s about to leave, but instead she starts pacing the floor. She stops and put her hands on the back of the chair.
“Christian, that day that I was interviewing with your ex-submissive… what was her name?” Where the hell is this going?
“Sarah,” I say cautiously. “Bradley.” She nods.
“How long did it take you to find out who she was?” she asks.
“That’s hard to say,” I reply. “We had a preliminary background check on her, but…”
“No, no, no, that’s not what I’m asking,” she stops me. “You knew that Sarah Bradley was your ex-submissive, but you didn’t know that Ashanda Beasley was Sarah Bradley. So, how long did it take that information to trickle down to you?”
“Uh, I guess immediately,” I say hesitantly. “As soon as Jason discovered that they were one and the same, he brought it to my attention. You were already in the interview by then.” She nods.
“I see,” she observes. “So, I know that you’re just finding out about today because I’m telling you. But normally, you found out my comings and goings and situations immediately, as with the Sarah Bradley occurrence.” It’s a statement, not a question.
“Normally, yes.” She nods again.
“So… when did you find out that I had fallen off that cliff?” she asks, her words sounding like she had to push them out of her mouth. I don’t know what this has to do with what happened today, but I tell her the truth.
“The day before I left Madrid,” I say. “It took that long to get the plane ready to get back here or I would have been here sooner.” She frowns deeply.
“So, you got back here on Thursday, but you found out on Tuesday,” she deduces. She’s not wrong, so I don’t interject. “I fell off that cliff on Friday night. Why did it take so long for you to find out? They tell you everything else almost the very minute it happens, and it takes you four days to find out about my near-death experience?” I sigh.
“It’s hard to explain, but yes, it did,” I confess. “There really is no good explanation for it—not one that would appease you right now but know that I came home the moment I found out.” She twists her lips and nods. She turns and walks to the door.
“Butterfly?” She puts her hand up without turning around, signaling that the conversation is affectively over, and leaves my office.
Well, isn’t this just fucking great.
“Activate two-way communications,” I growl into the air. When the system comes to life, I summon a soon-to-be-dismissed CPO.
“Bring your boss and get to my office… now!”
“Nobody thought I should know about this?” I seethe at Jason and Chuck after I apprise them that I’m now aware of how my wife spent her afternoon.
“You realize that you two have us between a rock and a hard place, don’t you, sir?” Chuck replies.
“I don’t need your rhetoric right now!” I bark. “I want an answer to a very simple question.”
“It’s. Not. Rhetoric,” Chuck says, firmly, pulling himself up to his full height. “It’s a valid question, and it is an answer to yours.” I raise a brow at him. Is he looking for some time off because he’s pissing me off right now.
“She asked me if we tell her every move that you make,” he continues, unfazed, “and we don’t, and she knows that we don’t. So, her next question was that if she was supposed to be my boss just like you, then why should her every move be clocked back to you.”
“But you are supposed to clock her moves back to me,” Jason interjects. “That’s your job.”
“And I did,” Chuck defends. “My daily log shows where we went and who we talked to. I just didn’t tell you the moment that it happened. There was no violence. Nobody got hurt. No one was in danger. There was no need to notify anybody of anything, except for my log.”
“And that’s where you’re wrong,” Jason says. “You should have told me that you all were going into a volatile situation.”
“And that’s where we disagree,” Chuck retorts. “The situation wasn’t volatile. It was one guy who had no idea we were coming and three of us—all with guns…”
“Butterfly had her gun?” I interrupt. Chuck turns an incredulous glare at me.
“No offense, sir, but what do you think?” he replies. I roll my eyes. I so want to reprimand him right now.
“Regardless, Chuck, you were in a situation where you should have checked in,” Jason chides. Chuck shrugs.
“Once again, rock and a hard place. Had I checked in with you, you would have told him, and he would have called her,” he says gesturing to me. “You and I have been doing this long enough to know that if a subject doesn’t want to be guarded, they won’t be guarded; that there’s nothing worse than an uncooperative client; and that short of putting a microchip in her ear, she would be unmanageable and untamable if we tried to clock her every move and report her bathroom breaks back to you without allowing her some kind of freedom to move.”
“She has freedom to move,” I correct him firmly.
“Not if we tell you every little thing that she’s doing,” he interjects. “And if you think for one minute that that little ball of genius fire won’t find a way to give us the slip—putting herself and maybe even her children in danger—just so that she can have a moment of privacy, you’re wrong.”
I can’t even argue with him. She looked me square in the eye and told me that she’d shoot one of my guards in the foot if they followed her to the aquarium. It was the one time we let her out of our sight, and she got kidnapped. And we won’t even talk about her sneaking away and nearly falling to her death off a damn cliff when I skipped town. And now, she appears to be angry with me for not knowing that immediately. It looks like I didn’t care. It’s hard to believe that I didn’t know she fell off that cliff the moment it happened, yet it takes me nearly a week to get back home… for her to even hear from me…
“Sir?” Jason’s voice breaks me out of my inner musings.
“Do we already have a guy on Carter?” I ask, exacerbated.
“We’re putting him in place now. We had to ascertain where he spent the evening.” I thrust my hands in my hair.
“She confronted the fucker,” I say to no one in particular. I really don’t know whether to be proud or pissed. I look at Chuck. “How did he seem to you?”
“Perplexed,” Chuck replies without hesitation. “At first, he came out of the building all macho—looking into the car and trying to see who was in there. He certainly didn’t expect to see her. And when he did, he tried to act Cro-Magnon for a minute or two, but it fell to the ground really fast. First off, he’s a little guy—5’7’ or 5’8” maybe, 5”10’ at the tallest, so she was staring him right in the eye in those sky-high shoes she wears. Second, he’s all ‘open this goddamn door’ until Ben and I emerged from the car. I know that our presence only made him physically behave himself, but he was still a cocky asshole to Ana.
“She was having none of it. The way she laughed at his attempts at superiority and compared him to a currently dead man, he should have shrunk away quietly back to his desk. But when he asked who she was, and she didn’t tell him, just said, ‘Watch on Monday on channel 9,’ it was the biggest blow off you’ve ever seen. The whole conversation was reminiscent of Oren Ishii.”
Oren Ishii—I’ve heard that name, but I can’t recall it right now. My expression must have given away my confusion.
“Head of the Yakuza Council of Bosses? Kill Bill?” Jason says. I raise my brow to Chuck.
“When she quickly and calmly takes Tanaka’s head at the dinner table, then warns the rest of the council against crossing her?”
“That brutal?” I ask.
“No blood, but yes—the conversation was short, not so sweet, and just as brutal. If there had been any melee involved, he’d look like one of the Crazy 88 right now.”
Now, I know who they are.
“I’m confused,” I say. “Butterfly just left me with the impression that you two didn’t really have any effect on him. Even you said that your presence only made him behave himself physically. So, you’re telling me that this little woman, her mouth, her power suit, and her Louboutins made this man heel?” Chuck shifts his weight and sighs.
“There are two types of men in the world, sir. First, there’s the type that get hard when they see a hot woman with a nice rack and a gun holster wrapped around it—no offense. Then, there’s… the other guys, who have no fucking idea what to do with a strong woman standing in front of them, much less a very little one, packing heat and telling him that his Johnson is inadequate. Guess which one he is.”
“So… he saw her gun,” I conclude.
“No, he saw her rack… and then he saw her holster. She kept the gun hidden, but you knew what was in there.”
“Well, he’s already kinda pale, but he got paler,” Chuck confirms. “There were a few words exchanged, mostly from Ana, and then we left him there dumbfounded with his flowers all over the ground.” He turns to Jason. “There was no situation. She said what she had to say, and we left. We discussed the position that she was putting me in by telling me not to report in on the incident and she instructed me that just like you’re the boss…” He points to me, “… she’s the boss, and she doesn’t want her every move reported except on the log that I’m required to submit every day, particularly if there’s no immediate danger. Now, if that’s not the case, sir, you’re going to have to be the one to tell her.”
But he’s right. I’m the one who told everybody at GEH that she’s the boss just like me and to treat her the same way that they would treat me. We’re going to have to talk about some guidelines here or I’m going to be losing my mind every day worrying if she’s doing anything that will have consequences later.
But overall, I’ve chosen “proud” over “pissed.”
I don’t know which is worse—thinking that he didn’t know whether I lived or died, that he didn’t care, or finding out that he didn’t even know that I could have died until four days after the fact. What the hell was going on that he had no fucking clue? The man knows when I go shopping but had no idea that I nearly fell to my death off a fucking cliff?
I’m sitting in the small library that we never use looking out over the lake. I actually forgot this room was here. We turned the other library into Marilyn’s office and this room just seemed to cease to exist. It’s the perfect place to disappear until and if the babies stir.
They don’t… or the nannies were already nearby when they did, and I wasn’t disturbed by the two-way.
Either way, I have plenty of time to dwell on the latest version of the Boogeyman stalking me right now. What the hell was going on in Madrid that my husband had no idea that I nearly died until four days after the fact?
If this was some minute detail of some sort that slipped through the cracks, I wouldn’t be concerned, but this was big, and my husband is a goddamn control freak! Does that mean that had something happened to our children, he wouldn’t have known that either? Or was it just me? Did he just not care about me?
He could have called and checked on me; asked if I was okay; let me know that he had only just found out about my accident and apologized for not being here or not being available. He could have told me that he was looking to get the next flight out of there, but instead, he counted on the shock value of me seeing him—made me wait for two more days in uncertainty and agony while he made his way back to Seattle. He may have been able to help avoid some of the effects of the Boogeyman, but now we’ll never know.
And he wonders why I have such a hard time putting all my trust back in him.
Come on, now. He’s clearly seen the err of his ways and he’s trying to rebuild things with you. Why must you be so damn difficult?
I’m not being difficult. I’m being cautious. I’m trying to protect myself from falling into oblivion again should Christian Grey feel like I’ve committed some egregious crime that warrants his disappearing and incommunicado act again.
You’re being difficult! And you’re being ridiculous and paranoid! Shit happens! Shit will continue to happen! If you build a bubble around yourself to protect yourself from all harm and danger, guess what? Shit will still happen in that bubble! You need to do whatever you must to get your head out of your ass. This isn’t you and you know it! Are you going to spend your life hiding? Get your shit together! This has gone on long enough.
And the Bitch is the voice of Anastasia Steele. Jesus, she makes so much sense, but I just can’t seem to find her when I feel like the fucking sky is falling.
Get your shit together!
Get your shit together!
Get your shit together!
Get your fucking shit together!
Even the Bitch is trying to tell me to get my act together, but I don’t know what to do. One minute, I’m sitting on top of the world, the most powerful bitch in existence. The next minute, I’m falling through the abyss all over again. I’m afraid this entire situation has made me bipolar. That would be the very worst.
I don’t know how long I’ve sat in the library. It’s quite dark out and I don’t hear anything. I make my way to the kitchen and discover that everything and everyone has shut down for the night. It’s later than I thought. I make myself a sandwich and a cranberry spritzer and eat it quickly, taking my spritzer to my room with me.
For once, my husband has beaten me to bed and he’s fast asleep. I don’t shower. I’m suddenly very tired. I just put on a nightshirt and climb into bed. In no time flat, I fall asleep.
I don’t stir in the morning when he kisses my cheek. I can smell his shower gel and his cologne, and I know that he’s dressed for work. He can probably tell that I’m playing possum… he always could, but he doesn’t let on. He simply brushes my hair out of my face.
“I love you,” he says softly before kissing me on my forehead and quietly leaving the room. I open my eyes and continue to lie in bed, careful not to move in case he’s standing behind me waiting to see if I’ll stir once he’s gone. The thoughts from last night—all the unanswered questions—begin swirling in my head again.
Why didn’t he call to check on me?
Why didn’t he let someone know that he was on his way home?
Did he truly hate me that much—even for a moment—that he didn’t care if I lived or died?
What happens if I sincerely displease him again? Is this what I have to look forward to?
The two-way stops my inner questions and gives me a reason to stir.
“Ana,” I say into the air, my voice sounding sleepier that I really am. Minnie’s cooing comes through the two-way and I stretch long and hard on the bed. I throw my legs over the edge and step into my slippers. In only my nightshirt—and slippers—I go and retrieve my child.
Wade from the movers show up around noon and Luma and I show them what’s going to Helping Hands and what needs to be moved to another room to come back into the office once the space is finished. I’m in a bit of a fog, and I forgot that I must tell my husband that the contractor will be descending upon us tomorrow to redo my office. As it turns out, the bookshelves with get a serious overhaul, but we’ve decided not to rip them out.
Too bad the anticipation is doing absolutely nothing for my mood.
Luma has ordered all my furniture and décor and it will be delivered and assembled as needed. I don’t know if Marilyn will be back by then, but I totally suspect that she won’t, so I already plan to don my jeans and a T-shirt and get my hands dirty putting my office back together as I won’t keep Luma from Andrea for another day. I’ll tackle the problem of maybe needing a new assistant next week. Right now, I’ve got some bigger fish to fry.
I’m jumping out of my skin when Chuck parks the car in the parking lot. I need to talk to my shrink in the worst way. This latest development has me such that I don’t know if I’m coming or going.
“Hi, Ana,” Amber says, cheerfully. “You’re early.”
“Yeah, I just didn’t want to be late,” I tell her. It’s partially true. I just didn’t know what else to do and I really need to talk to Ace. She smiles. Her face is getting fuller with the pregnancy, but I dare not tell her that.
“Can I get you something?” she asks. “Coffee? Tea? Water?” She holds up a tray from her desk. “A cookie?”
“No, thank you,” I reply and take a seat in the waiting room, thumbing mindlessly through an old issue of Psychology Today. There’re some really good articles in this issue, but I never understood the thinking of doctors and shrinks who place practice-related magazines in their waiting rooms. I always had Time, Essence, People in my waiting room. The only people that want to read Psychology Today are mental health professionals. The professionals are in the office! Who’s in the damn waiting room?
Anyway, I get lost in an article about parents’ gross misconception of their children, how they always think their kids are brighter and better than others in some way and they often get it wrong. Of course, you love your own child more than any other child in the whole wide world, but this often leads to common misperceptions about who your child really is and what their future will be. The article is very informative to me as a new mother, but it’s written in a tone that I as a psychiatrist would understand—not a layperson. So, why would he subscribe to this magazine, obviously read the articles, and then leave it in the lobby for his patients to read and just go, “Well, they don’t understand my little Johnny, so I’m just going to ignore this?” On top of that, it kind of lights a fire under an already loaded powder keg just before an agitated patient goes into their session.
“Your reading material is crap,” I inform him when I get into his inner office. He frowns.
“Excuse me?” he says, taken aback as he takes his seat.
“You’ve got a July issue of Psychology Today out there that basically says that parents don’t thoroughly understand their children. As a psychiatrist, I totally got what the article was saying and plan to apply the information to my own situations with my children in the future. As a mother, totally eliminating the whole med-school-psychiatry thing, my first response was, ‘This is a bunch of bullshit. How can these Harvard assholes think they know what’s best for me and my kids and they haven’t even met my kids?’ They’re saying that if I say that Mikey is gifted, I’m only saying it because he’s my child, not because I’ve seen some extraordinary display that may indicate that my son is actually gifted. Most parents would look at that and say, ‘You’re full of shit and you don’t know what you’re talking about’ and completely squash the whole thing.”
“And you seem to be taking that pretty personally,” he observes.
“Hey, I’m not trying to start a fight about it. I’m just informing you that it’s bullshit to be sitting in your waiting room,” I retort.
“You just said that you were going to put some of the information to use,” he defends.
“I also said that as a layperson and mother, I would find it to be crap, but as a psychiatrist, I understand. Exactly how many psychiatrists come through your waiting room?” I’ll wait.
He twists his lips and diverts his gaze from me. Ana—1, Ace—0.
“Point taken,” he says, crossing his legs. “So, besides dismantling my reading material, what are we discussing today.
I’m soon to discover that my victory will be quite short-lived.
“The Boogeyman,” I reply.
“Okay,” he says, unfazed. “Tell me what’s going on.”
“Well, there’s something going on with Grey House that had Christian come home and fuck me like he was never going to see me again right before Jason fucking quadrupled everyone’s security detail.”
Ace is a bit horrified.
“Um… okay,” he says, “and this obviously unnerves you.”
“They brought the security back to a reasonable increase instead of an entourage after I refused to go in to work, but I don’t know if that was because I wouldn’t leave the house or because Jason was overreacting, and we really didn’t need that much security. Nonetheless, that’s kind of hovering over me and making me feel nervous. But…”
“But what?” he asks, after I pause. I stand and start pacing.
“I’m worried that I might be bipolar,” I admit. “One minute, everything is okay and the next minute, I’m scared out of my drawers and won’t leave my room. I know that mood swings are normal, especially when something traumatic happens, but is it supposed to be this crazy?” Even as a professional, I can’t answer that question.
“I’m fairly certain that you’re not bipolar, Ana,” Ace says, “but that of course doesn’t dismiss that your drastic mood swings may need addressing. We both know that a hugely traumatic experience can cause a chemical imbalance, and it’s something that we may want to look at, but let’s not jump to that option just yet. Is it the unknown threat that’s causing you to feel so out-of-balance right now?” I both love and hate that my shrink can read me so well.
“Like I said, it’s kind of hovering over me but… not really,” I admit. “I carry my gun everywhere, you already know that. So, if someone were to approach me in a way that threatened me, or someone were to attack me… well, we both know how that would turn out. I don’t think it’s the threats that bother me so much. It’s the possibilities associated with the threat. The unknown, yes, but not insomuch that the threat is unknown, but the fact that all the octopus arms of what could come from that threat is so unknown. Am I making any sense?”
“You’re making perfect sense,” he says, “but you’re torturing yourself, and we have to find a way to make you stop. There will always, always be unknown threats out there. That’s why car insurance exists. However, you do what you can to protect yourself from those threats and then you move on. You’re stuck in ‘what if’ and you can’t move forward, because it’s got you paralyzed in fear. You’re going to have to find a way, or this is your future… and Ana? This is how drug habits usually start. Someone can’t cope with their reality, so they must escape it any way they can and I’m not afraid to tell you that you’re starting to sound like a shark’s tooth to me.” What the fuck?
“I didn’t come in here and tell you that I was going to kill myself!” I snap. “Where the fuck did that come from?”
“Yeah, he didn’t come in here and tell me that he was going to kill himself either, but he did!” Ace retorts. “You’re sounding very helpless to me right now, and coming from a psychiatrist, that’s even scarier than it is coming from a layperson.”
I ponder that thought. I guess I would be a bit alarmed if Maxie came to me sounding a bit hopeless.
“Get to the root of it, Ana, and snatch the root out, or it’s going to suffocate you… and even if you don’t commit suicide or even contemplate it, you’ll still end up a shark’s tooth. You’ll just be a walking, breathing shark’s tooth.” I roll my eyes.
“Please, stop referring to me as that,” I caution. “I don’t like it and although I get your point, it’s really not helping the situation.” He nods.
“Okay, so what’s say we get to the root? You recognize the root every time it comes up and you work to rip it out. Fight it and kill it like the weed that it is… or…” He trails off and puts his hands up in a mini-shrug.
“I did something that shook his faith in me and as a result, he shattered my trust in him,” I blurt out. “He left me at such a crucial moment, and maybe he wanted me to see how much I needed him, and he was right, but he was also wrong. He made me depend on him; he made me trust him; he made me make him my everything, and then he snatched it away with no warning and no word and although I survived, I was rudderless and lost. Now, I long for the days before I met him when I could stand firmly on my own two feet, and I can’t find them.”
“I see,” he replies. “But tell me, besides the whole ocean thing, what’s the difference between you going off to Montana and him going off to Madrid?”
Once and for all, I’m going to answer this question for him, for the Bitch, and for anybody else who wants to know.
“Me going off to Montana was a move for survival. Yes, it was selfish, but it was a move for survival—to try to preserve myself. Him going off to Madrid may have also been a move for survival, and it was also selfish, but he went out of anger and to get away from me. He did it to deliberately put space between us, not to get to himself and think about things. If you ask him, he’ll tell you that he didn’t think about me while he was gone, and if he’s honest, he may even admit that he did it to punish me.
“The other reason why this is so different is because of our relationship. I was his fiancée when I went to Montana. There was no marriage—no legal contract, no eternal promise, yet, and certainly, no children! We were not responsible for two other lives when I ran off and I didn’t leave that responsibility for him to handle alone…”
Well, maybe not alone, but without him.
“He could get to me,” I continue. “He found out where I was, and he got to me, and I knew he would eventually because of who he is. He came to that cabin, we talked about how we were feeling, and he left. I wasn’t afforded that opportunity. He left the country for weeks and wouldn’t even answer his damn phone. The one person who knew where I was was here and eventually spilled the beans. The main person who knew where he was was with him… the other was my best friend and his attorney, and both were sworn to secrecy by an NDA.
“Did you know that he didn’t find out that I had leapt off that cliff for four days?” I add. “I could have killed myself in a drunken stupor and he didn’t know for more than half a week. I nearly tumble to my death on a Friday night and control freak Christian Grey, who knows when I take a piss, didn’t find out until Tuesday! Then, instead of calling to make sure that I was okay, to reassure me that he did care whether I lived or died, he stayed incommunicado for two more days so that he could have that whole shock factor when he got back. I feel like I meant nothing to him! Absofuckinglutely nothing!
“Right or wrong, he’s completely shaken my faith in him and in everything I thought I knew! I put him on a pedestal—I know I did—and when he fell, my world was shattered. So, now, I’m trying to reconcile the fact that he’s only human, that character flaws that I saw before that I thought were so damn ginormous are nothing compared to the fact that he’s not the superhuman, superperfect, omnipotent being that I made him out to be. And that’s hell on me right now.”
“And now we get to the crust of things,” he says. “He didn’t shatter your trust in him. He shattered your fairytale. He shattered your image of this all-powerful man that was supposed to cloak and protect you from all things bad… until the bad came from him. He’s not God, Ana. He’s just a man, just like you’re just a woman.
“Your children are going to grow up looking at you like a woman who can right every wrong, until there’s a wrong that you can’t right, and then what? So, he’s not perfect He can’t make the sun stay in the sky and prevent night from coming. Do you love him any less for that?”
“No!” I shoot, somewhat offended that he asked that damn question.
“Well, then, act like it!” he shoots back. “Stop walking around behaving like you’ve lost your damn puppy! You’ve discovered that your perfect husband has the same flaw that you do—he’s not perfect. It’s not the end of the world; it’s just a harsh reality. If you’re looking for a perfect man, divorce Christian, go sit on the top of a mountain in Tibet and wait for him to come to you.” I’m getting angry now.
“That’s not what I’m looking for!” I hiss angrily.
“Then stop acting like it is. Stop punishing him and yourself for not being that man. Shrink yourself for one minute and think about what you would tell a patient about this situation if this were not you. People fuck up! They never stop fucking up! What are you going to do?”
I feel my blood pressure rising. Unable to handle the massive onslaught of logic and common sense flowing from my therapist’s mouth, I rush the door and burst out of his office. I jump in the back seat of the Audi and slam the door.
“Take me home,” I say, my voice shaking.
“Ana…” he begins.
“Take me home!” I yell, cutting him off. His eyes widen, and he looks at Ben. They both turn around and Chuck starts the car. I’m sobbing before we even leave the parking lot.
I don’t think my heavy bag—or any one before it—has taken this kind of beating ever before. I don’t know how to destroy or defeat this helpless, hopeless feeling and quite frankly, it’s starting to piss me off. I feel the burn and the ache in my muscles, sweat pouring from every pore in my body and I just keep pounding away at the damn thing. I don’t want to think or feel. I want take-no-prisoners Anastasia Steele back. I need her, because she wasn’t so dependent on Christian’s perfection. I know I’ll never be her again, but I need a piece of her—a large piece of her—to find myself and stop slipping into this Boogeyman shit.
I’ve never been this afraid of things that go bump in the night… except after the branding attack, and once when I thought those ghosts were coming to get me again, but those times were different. I had no one to lean on, no one that swooped in as my knight in shining Armani. I was alone and on my own both times. The first time, I was completely forsaken, so crying, dark nights, and monsters were really nothing new. The second time, well, not forsaken but still alone. Still no Christian who came in and promised to make everything better, to always protect me, and to never leave me…
Until he did.
The impossible happened and I can’t find a way to deal with it.
I don’t know when he got there, but I see movement out of the corner of my eye. I catch the heavy bag in my hands so that it doesn’t knock the shit out of me and turn to my left expecting to see Christian standing there.
I frown. This is new.
He’s standing against the mirrored wall in his shirtsleeves just looking at me. He tosses me the towel that he’s holding. I catch it and wipe the sweat pouring from my brow and sopping hair. I was ignoring the burn in my eyes until now, so I wipe my eyes trying to relieve it now.
“Heads up,” he says, and tosses me a bottle of cold water. I chug the whole thing down in seconds and he tosses me another one. I toss him back the empty bottle and nearly empty the second one. He takes a seat on one of the exercise machines and waits. I roll my eyes.
“He sent his representative?” I say with disdain, my brow furrowed as I take a seat on the weight-lifting bench.
“Sort of, but no,” Jason admits. “He spoke to me a few days ago, before I went overboard with the security thing… sorry about that, by the way. He brought some things up to me and I brought some things up to him and he asked me to talk to you. He was hoping that I could explain things a little better.”
Explain things? What things?
“Why did you quadruple security?” I ask. “I want to hear that from you.” He sighs.
“I hope he told you about Aragon,” he says.
“He did,” I confirm.
“That’s why I increased security,” he says. “He and his boss are unknowns to me and I don’t want to take any chances. He was right, though. I did go overboard. An extra guard or two is certainly enough, especially with you already being trained in firearms and self-defense. I just… couldn’t get the whole Usual-Suspects-Keyser-Söze thing out of my head. This guy is slimy. Every time I see him, I want to take a bath immediately afterwards. Knowing the guy that he is, I could put a bullet between his eyes and sleep soundly right next to his corpse.”
That bad, huh?
“So, do you really think he’s a threat to us?” I ask.
“Honestly, I don’t think he is. No matter how powerful he wants us to think he is, he won’t do anything without the go-ahead from his boss. I just don’t know where his boss’ head is.” I nod.
“Thank you for being so candid. So, to what do I owe the interruption of my workout…?” because I know he didn’t come down here to talk to me about Keyser.
“I won’t pull punches. If you walk away, then you just walk away and that’ll be that, but there’s something you need to accept. I don’t know how you’ve handled everything that’s happened to you in your life, but right now, at this moment, you’re suffering from PTSD.”
At first, I want to get angry. I’m certain that he and Christian have had some kind of conversation where Christian told him about my reaction to Dr. Baker’s prior diagnosis, and now, he’s coming to me with this shit.
“You’re constantly battling with the fact that you don’t know what’s coming around the corner,” he continues. “You have been hurt and completely discombobulated by something that has happened that shook the very foundations of your happy and safe place so that now, you’re expecting Armageddon at every turn. Even when things are calm and serene, you can’t get comfortable and even if you do, that peace only lasts for a moment. Today, you’re the Queen of the Amazons and tomorrow, you’re a helpless ant hoping not to get crushed. You can stop me at anytime if I’m wrong.”
I just stare at him. It’s like he was a fly on the wall during my session with Ace.
“Nothing has to happen to bring on the feelings of dread, but if something does trigger it, it’s worse. From your bulging biceps when I came into this room, I would say something triggered it. So, what’s up?” I roll my eyes. Not a-fucking-gain.
“I just had this conversation with my shrink I don’t want to have it again!” I bark in one breath. Jason shrugs.
“Fine,” he says nonchalantly. “Take it or leave it.”
I snatch the towel from the bench and stand in a huff. I’m walking purposefully to the door when another question comes to mind.
“He won’t tell me why he didn’t know about my fall for four fucking days… will you?” I demand. He doesn’t respond, so I turn around to see him looking at me impassively. He gestures to the bench for me to sit back down. I pause for several moments and he doesn’t speak. Desperate for an answer to my question, I go back to the bench and sit.
“Ana, it’s not Christian’s fault—well, not entirely his fault—that he didn’t know about your fall. I knew that Saturday or that Sunday… I just didn’t tell him.” I’m horrified.
“You tell him everything! Why didn’t you tell him that?” I nearly shriek. Jason sighs.
“The transformation…” The transformation? What the hell is that? “It was a rough time in Madrid,” he confesses, “for more reasons than one. We just don’t talk about it much. I can’t tell you everything. I wouldn’t anyway, but the old Christian Grey showed up. He was cold and distant. He was detached. He wasn’t my friend… the man that I know now. He was that man that employed me and paid me to protect him and stay the fuck out of his business. We were in a foreign country and for most of the time that we were there, I had no backup. I had to stay focused and I had to concentrate on his safety.
“That guy… the guy that was in Madrid… he didn’t care about women. They were a means to an end and when he was done with them, he was done. I didn’t know how to handle that guy with a wife. He was all business. He didn’t look left or right. If he… thought of you, he didn’t mention you once. I know that hurts to hear, but I had to turn my feelings off, too. I couldn’t afford to be sloppy or we could have both ended up dead. Gail’s used to it, but it was hard with Baby Boo here… but I digress.
“His mother called and demanded to know what was going on with you because you had been walking around like a zombie and you left the center one day without the kids. The way that I understand it, she ripped him a new one and she was the one who apprised him of your fall. It wasn’t until he asked me about it that I filled in all the blanks. That’s when we started preparing to come home.”
Throughout the entire conversation, I’ve got my head down. I’m letting everything sink in that he’s telling me about the end of the trip to Madrid.
“Why didn’t he call, Jason?” I ask. “Why didn’t he let me know that he still cared and he was concerned the moment he heard that I had almost died? Why did he let me suffer for two more days wondering if he even wanted me anymore?”
“I’m sorry, Ana. I can’t answer that question because I don’t know. I know that he was cursing and demanding that we get that bird ready to get in the air. We would have taken a commercial flight, but it would have attracted too much attention.” I drop my head again.
“Did he tell you that I was on the floor when he found me?” I ask. “I don’t even know how long he let me lay there. If you hadn’t called through the two-way to tell him where I was, I wouldn’t have even known he was sitting there. I was calling into the two-way thinking it was the babies.”
“I can tell you for certain that we had only been home for a few minutes when I discovered that you were in the guestroom. So, it definitely wasn’t more than that.” I shake my head.
“He wouldn’t have been able to get me off the floor anyway,” I recall. “I couldn’t stand for him to touch me. I talked to him like he wasn’t there for I don’t know how long. I couldn’t sleep in my own bed… even after he came back.” I scrub my face with my hands.
“I loved Edward,” I say, catching Jason off guard. “I loved him a lot, or whatever it was, it was some kind of emotion that mimicked love. He tormented me. He found a way to put me through a fresh, new hell every day. I thought I would never escape, but I did. I closed him out of my life. For a long time, I wanted him to come back. Had he come back, I would have taken that daily fresh hell as opposed to being without him, so I’m glad he didn’t come back until after I was over him. There’s no telling where I would be right now.” I take a deep breath and sigh heavily.
“When Christian left…” I swallow hard. “My husband left me… he left me… he left our home… he left our children… he left our life. I wasn’t prepared for him to leave—not at all. It was the very last thing I expected. I expected the rage; I expected the cold shoulder; I expected to be punished; but I did not expect him to leave.
“When I realized that he was gone, I was more confused than anything and I just wanted some answers. And then when he blocked my calls…” I trail off remembering the black hole of despair that swallowed me when I discovered that my husband had blocked my number. “He left me, and he blocked my calls. That meant that he didn’t want to see me, he didn’t want to hear my voice, he definitely didn’t want to be with me. Do you have any idea how that feels?”
“Actually, I do,” Jason says. I raise my eyes to him. “Shalane wasn’t always a raging bitch. Divorce was hard.”
I nod. He does know how it feels.
“I felt like my life was over,” I continue. “It was a hundred times worse than anything I had felt with Edward. The burning, searing, never-ending pain…” I sigh. I’ve never explained this to anyone in this much detail. It feels good to get it out.
“I had put it out of my mind to focus on my children, but it wasn’t a panacea… It was a temporary fix. It feels like I spent all my time in that window seat—hours and hours and hours, watching that damn bridge, zeroing in on every black SUV that crossed… and hoping…
“By the time I fell asleep in that guestroom, I could have slept eternity away, not because I wanted to die, just because sleeping meant that I didn’t have to feel or think—at least I didn’t have to when crazy dreams weren’t haunting me.
“When Dr. Baker tried to tell me that I was suffering from PTSD, I’m certain that she was wrong. She was trying to label what she thought I was going through and she didn’t know how. But this? Now? Yeah, this is PTSD. This is trauma that I keep trying to shake and it keeps coming back even though I’m seemingly out of danger and I don’t know how to beat it.”
“You’re doing the right thing now,” Jason says, “talking about it, how it makes you feel. Getting it out in the open. Don’t think that you can talk about it once, tell somebody how you feel and then, it’s solved. You’re going to have to keep talking about it. You’re going to have to keep revisiting these feelings, especially when they creep up on you again, and they will creep up on you again. You’re the doctor, you know this, but it’s hard to diagnose yourself. It’s hard to take your own advice when you’re the one feeling the pain.
“I’m not a doctor, Ana, but I am a combat veteran, and I know all about the effects of PTSD. I know that the anguish, the fear, the pain that you feel, it doesn’t just go away. It’s going to take some time. However, if it holds on for too long or it becomes too crippling, you may have to consider some medication.” I twist my lips.
“Jason, really, that’s a bit extreme,” I protest.
“People are prescribed different drugs all the time for PTSD. Men and women have been prescribed tranquilizers when they’ve lost a spouse. What makes your trauma any different? I’m not in combat anymore, but that doesn’t erase what I felt and what I saw. It’s the same thing for you. Christian is back, but did his return immediately make the pain, fear, and uncertainty go away?”
Of course, it didn’t, that’s why we’re having this conversation.
“When those feelings attack, you attack back. You go grab somebody—anybody—and talk it out. Marilyn, Gail, Keri, myself, your husband, your shrink—whoever’s near. Don’t wait. It just gives the feelings time to fester and get worse. This is step one. I know you know this, but it’s hard to hear it when you’re on the receiving end. Ana Grey the doctor knows that I’m right, but Ana Grey the person can’t see it. It’s evading you because you’re feeling all this anguish and pain, but you have to trust me. I speak from experience. You have to talk about it the second that despair hits you.”
I roll my eyes and fight tears that threaten to fall. I want to talk, but I don’t want to cry.
“It must be very tiring having to hold all his secrets,” I say, matter-of-factly, raising my eyes to his and getting back to the reason for my PTSD.
“It used to be,” he admits, “but he doesn’t have as many secrets anymore. His family knows about his lifestyle now; that terrible woman is no longer an issue anymore; and I no longer have to carry screaming subs and wifey hopefuls from the penthouse, because he has you, now. It can be difficult managing him and his flailing emotions, but I’ll take this Christian to the old ‘Mr. Grey’ any day—emotions and all.” He stands.
“We do need to finish this conversation. It’s far from over, but Chuck says you came right in and started swinging away. That was hours ago. You need to get in some hot water… really soon.”
A/N: I called this chapter “Untitled” because I couldn’t think of a title for it. My mind was drawing a total fucking blank. I couldn’t come up with anything… so there you go.
The Crazy 88 is also a reference to Kill Bill. This is the team of bodyguards that “The Bride” left in pieces and in pools of blood in the “House of Blue Leaves” as she’s trying to get to Oren Ishii.
The new question and answer thread is always open for questions about the story. be sure to read it and please adhere to the rules when asking questions. You can find it on the left, second from last in the menu our you can click HERE.
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