So, you’re getting two chapters because neither of these could really stand alone without an interruption in flow. For those who celebrate it, Happy Thanksgiving.
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 63—Alignment Shift
We’ve both come fantastically, but my husband’s hard dick is bobbing in my face right now, and if I can get a repeat of what I just got, I’m all for it! I gently wrap my lips around the head of his cock and lick. He hisses loudly.
“I haven’t picked a card yet,” he protests.
“Then hurry up and pick one,” I chastise. I can feel him frantically reaching over to get a card.
“Slide down and ride that dick,” he says, his voice raspy. “Reverse cowgirl.”
He puts the card face-up on the floor near his hip so that I can see it. I slide down his body and take his dick in my hand. I guide his head to my opening, still tender and pulsing a bit from my orgasm, and slide down onto him.
“Ssssssssssss! Aw, shit!” he hisses as his fingers caress my hips. I begin to move back and forth over his dick and his fingers never tighten. They only slide with my hips.
“That’s it, baby,” he says, his voice a harsh whisper. “Just like that… ride that dick… fuck that cock…”
He doesn’t move. He just lets me ride and I can feel him getting harder and fatter inside of me as he exclaims several expletives throughout the five minutes. When the timer goes off, he doesn’t make a move.
“Pick a card,” I taunt, still fucking his growing dick.
“Fuck!” he hisses and reaches for another card.
“Stop… stop for a minute,” he begs, “I need to think.” I stop rolling my hips and he’s damn near breathless on the floor. “I don’t know how we’re going to do this one.” He shows me the card and it’s The Sitting V. You normally need a counter or table to pull this one off. I look over at the loveseat and see the highest point in the room that won’t leave me with a bruised or impaled ass.
“The arm of the loveseat?” I say.
“We’ll give it a try,” he says, slapping my ass, signaling me to get up.
We tried everything to get that position right. What’s supposed to happen is that my but is on the edge of a counter, my legs over his shoulders and my hands behind his neck. He supports my back and he just fucks me that way. We tried. We really tried, but he’s too tall to stand and too short to kneel to get the position right. We even tried crouching, but he couldn’t get an angle where his knees didn’t hit the side of the sofa. By the time we try every unsuccessful variation of this position, we’re caught in fits of uncontrollable giggles and realize that we had never set the timer. We throw in the towel on The Sitting V and pick another card.
“Now we’re talking,” Christian croons as he pulls me from the loveseat back onto the floor. “Lie back,” he instructs me. When I do, he slides between my legs on his side—perpendicular—and lifts my leg over his hip. While I’m trying to figure out how this is going to work, he pushes my other leg away from him so that they’re spread open wider but he’s not lying on my leg. Then he slides into me.
Holy. Cow. Batman.
“There it is,” he says as he begins that masterful stroke that has me rising in a matter of seconds. “Now, we’re back on track.”
He bends his knee so that my leg drapes over his thigh and now, he’s not only free to move his hips, but his hand is also free to caress me as he’s doing this perfect sideways thrust into my core. He’s caressing my thighs and my stomach, kissing my skin wherever his lips and tongue can reach, and I nearly can’t stand it.
I can’t even think of a French exclamation, and I really need one right now.
I open my mouth to get some fair into my lungs and look down at my husband. He’s gazing at me all victoriously, a half-smirk on his face as his body rolls into mine over and over in a perfect water wave, his dick sliding so deliciously in and out of me causing the perfect amount of friction. I reach up and grab my breasts and close my eyes, lost in the perfection of this position that we’ve never tried before. When I open them again, my husband’s expression has changed. He’s still gazing at me, but he’s licking and biting his lips and grasping my leg hard.
“You look so fucking hot,” he says as he plunges into me, his stroke now deeper and seeking his own pleasure while fueling mine.
“Christian!” I breathe, “please…”
“Please, what?” he hisses, grinding and rolling and thrusting his hips into mine, the task seeming harder and harder for him. Yeah, please, what? I don’t know. I groan and fall back onto the floor, welcoming the delicious burn in my core and allowing him to push me higher and higher as he grunts with each thrust.
I blindly reach for the scattered cards and pull one. I can’t even see it through my passion-induced haze, so I just shove it in Christian’s face. He reaches over and grabs a handful of cards then, wrapping his arms around me, he rises effortlessly from the floor and carries me to the loveseat—with his dick still inside of me. He sits down with me on top, straddling him and just begins to fuck me. I wrap my arms around his neck and ride along with him. His hands are all over me—my back, my ass, my hair—he’s kissing me passionately and loving me deeply. I try to give him back what he’s giving me, running my fingers through his hair, caressing his cheek and chest, kissing him deeply. When his arms slide around my waist, I know that we’re both in passion and chasing the orgasm again. We both groan when the timer goes off and Christian pulls a card from the small stack next to us.
“We’ll change the timer to ten minutes, okay?” he breathes, his voice thick with arousal. I nod and wait anxiously for him to show me the next card.
“Somebody somewhere likes us,” he says, showing me the card. It’s Standing Sex. And again, he lifts me effortlessly and stands to his feet, continuing his stroke right where he left off. Now, we’re both fighting an orgasm and this round has to last ten minutes. I wrap my arms around him and just enjoy the ride.
“Don’t come. Feel the pleasure,” I coach myself inwardly. My body is bursting with sensation all over and I want to come so badly, but I simply can’t let it end yet. It feels too damn good. I know my husband is having the same thoughts and his stamina is much stronger than mine, but he feels so good inside of me that I release a mournful groan that has his knees wobbling and causes him to nearly lose the fight.
“Damn, baby, you’re too fucking sexy!” he exclaims, his face buried in my neck as he pounds into me.
“So are you,” I breathe. “You’re so big and you feel so good…”
“Fuuuuuuuck!” he groans loudly, and I feel him still and pulsing inside me. I thought he came, but he only stops momentarily and starts to thrust again, harder and deeper. The inner coach is somewhere taking a break and I feel myself rising higher and higher…
“Fuck, that shit was close,” Christian confesses breathily. He sits back on the loveseat with me on his lap and pulls another card.
“And it’s about to get closer,” he says as he shows me another card.
I rise off of him and get into position on my knees over the loveseat.
“Fuck, baby,” he says, looking down at me, “I think this is about to be a wrap.”
“I tend to agree with you,” I say.
He falls into position behind me and slides easily inside me.
“Fucking hell!” he says, grabbing my hips and thrusting hard into me three or four times. Oh, shit! I’m startled when he stops, takes a few deep breaths, then begins to move in a long, slow stroke.
Oh, hell. Mr. Grey is going to draw this out.
I try to get my mind ready for the onslaught of pleasure that’s about to come over me, but nothing could have prepared me. His slow stroke intensifies when his grip tightens on my hip and one hand flattens on my back. I open my mouth again to get air in, but I can feel the dew forming on my skin. It won’t be long now.
“Baby, fuck,” he groans, and his whole body is over mine, his hips thrusting his cock deliciously into me. My labored breathing becomes whimpers with each thrust and my body is aching to come now. I don’t want to fight it anymore, but my stubborn brain won’t let go. He licks the dew off my back and his hand grasps my shoulder while the other is flat on the loveseat next to mine, supporting his weight.
“Oh, God,” I protest when he licks my skin again, finishing with an open-mouthed kiss on my back. I shiver and release a breath, begging my sweating body to let go so that I can come.
“Fuck, I need you,” he growls. “I need you so much.” His hand dives into my hair and he roughly twists my head to the side. I cry out from the surprise more than the pain and he slams a bruising kiss onto my lips, his tongue plunging into my mouth. I almost collapse on my arms as my body shivers and aches. He begins to moan shamelessly into my mouth and my body signals that if he releases, I can let go.
“Oh, fuck, no, no, not yet!” he chastises aloud as his dick pulses inside of me. Again, I think he comes, but much to my dismay, he doesn’t. There’s no insane wetness to indicate his ejaculation and only moments later, he’s thrusting into me again. “Fuck, so close… so fucking close.”
“If you let go, I’ll let go,” I breathe, not willing to tap out yet.
“No… no… not yet… too fucking good…” he pants as he continues to thrust into me. I moan inwardly. I want to come so badly, I could cry, but my stubborn brain won’t let my body release before he does, and his body is fighting the feeling because it’s too good.
“Fuck, baby, my dick is burning,” he confesses as he reaches around and pulls my nipple, still drilling into me.
“Oh, God, Christian!’ I protest as I fight to hold myself up against him. I close my eyes as his teeth sink gently into the meat of my shoulder. I shiver with delight, feeling my breast fall into and fill his large hand. He alternates between cupping it and gently caressing it to pulling my nipple until it’s taut and aroused.
Goddammit to hell, that was the longest ten minutes ever fucking known to man, and I don’t protest when he doesn’t stop fucking me. I can’t take it anymore. I need to come again… seriously!
“This is the last one,” he groans. “I need to come inside you.”
“Okay,” I pant, breathlessly.
“You pull,” he commands, still fucking me and pulling on my nipple. I nod and reach for the cards on the loveseat. When I pull the card for the next position, I know it’s going to be a problem…
That’s our connection position, and this has the potential to be dynamic… or disastrous. I’m spent and aching for an orgasm and can’t be responsible for what comes of attempting this feat, but nonetheless, we agree to try it.
I thought the position would be awkward sexually, but my husband has a goddamn Olympic-length dick. So, when he sits lotus-style with his back against the loveseat, I sit in his lap facing him with my arms and legs around him. He guides his cock to my core and they have no problem finding their counterpart. It’s not the deepest penetration that we’ve had, but it feels good… really good… in more ways than one.
The intimacy that I feel is amazing! Yes, my core is still on fire and in a secondary kind of way, I can still feel the pleasure of my husband inside of me… loving me, but something else is going on.
His fingertips caress my arm very softly, then my neck. Silver-gray eyes never leave mine. My hands slowly slide from his shoulders to his chest, my fingers spread far apart. I feel like that’s where they need to be. His arms slide around me, and his hands move to my upper back. He holds me close to him… not too close, but close… close enough to look into my eyes, close enough to breathe the same air…
And we begin to rock.
We rock and rock until we become acutely aware of the physical as well as the spiritual friction between us. The room fades away. Everything fades away for a moment except the sound of his voice…
You’re beautiful. You’re my life. I couldn’t survive without you.
You’re in my soul… in my blood… everything in me is you…
I live and breathe for you, only for you, my love…
I will take care of you…
I will love you for the rest of my days…
I don’t know where I am, and I only feel heat. I only see light. Heat and light. Well, more like warmth… warmth all over. I feel like some of my life’s energy is leaving me, and it’s scaring me.
Christian… please… help me…
I’ve got you, baby.
I want to wail, but I can’t, and I don’t know why—why I want to or why I can’t. I’m frozen somewhere outside myself and it’s scaring me to death.
Butterfly… I’ve got you…
The explosion is cosmic—in my chest, in my head, all over me. Light blinds me completely, and I can even see it behind my closed eyelids. My body is trembling wildly, painfully, and I can’t stop it. Dear God, please make it stop…
This burst of… I don’t know, energy, maybe… is wracking my body. I feel like I’m in a room of nothing but blinding light, but I’m not alone. There’s a warmth wrapped around me, loving me, consoling me, and I don’t want to leave. I don’t know how long it lasts, but it seems like eternity. Slowly, very slowly, the light starts to fade. I can barely make out where I am. I hear crying.
I don’t open my eyes, but I’m now conscious of where I am. I’m sitting in my husband’s lap with my legs wrapped around him. My arms are pressed against his chest, my head back. We’re both drenched in sweat, hair dripping, sitting in the middle of the sitting room floor. My breathing is wild and gaspy and tears are streaming down my face, but the only sound I’m making are the gasps from taking in large amounts of air. My husband’s arms are clasped tight around me like a vice and his face is lying on my chest. He’s weeping. It’s his cries that I hear. I feel his sex pulsing inside of mine and the feeling is magical. I don’t want to move. I don’t want it to end. But the crying…
It’s obvious that we connected while we were having sex… or making love, I should say. Didn’t we do this once before? I don’t remember, but if we did, it was nothing like this. To say that it was powerful would be an understatement. To say that it was earth-shattering would be too cliché. There are no words for what just happened, no words at all.
“I heard you talking,” he says. “You were saying such… wonderful things… Everything you said, I feel about you.”
“I heard you talking,” I confess. “You were saying…” I swallow hard as I fight to focus. “I wasn’t talking,” I breathe.
“Neither was I,” he says. I’m afraid, but I can tell that he feels no fear. “What’s wrong?”
“What’s going on with us?” I say, my voice shaking.
“Only the best and most intense love known to man,” he says, brushing my hair from my face. “I never thought anything like this was possible in my life, definitely not for me.”
“I’ve never felt or known anything like this… ever,” I admit. “I’m afraid that…” I trail off.
“That what, baby?” he asks.
“That if one of us dies, the other won’t survive,” I finish.
“I already know that,” he admits, “so don’t die.”
We sleep in very late the next morning, saving our appetites for the housewarming party that was sprung on us somewhat last minute. Unlike many gatherings before, this will not merely be family and close friends. Many of Val’s former co-workers will be there as well as some of Elliot’s staff—along with their significant others. Val says that many people asked about her and just wanted to check on her, so she thought showing off her new home was a good way for them to see just how well she’s doing—friends and haters alike. Elliot proclaimed that he wanted a few of the slackers to see “how it’s really done” and he and only the best of the best did the work on his house.
I don’t know anybody there except the family and I’m certainly not trying to impress anyone, so I just don my Freddy jeans and a black oversized cashmere turtleneck sweater. Me being me, I anchor the simple ensemble with Valentino black leather stiletto boots with bow embellishments up the back. No fancy jewelry needed—just my wedding and engagement rings, and my hair is in a messy loosened side braid. Christian is similarly dressed in a pair of black jeans, a white cashmere sweater and black suede ankle boots. I’m going to be helping Val as much as she’ll let me, so we pack an overnight bag with plans to stay until tomorrow.
When we get to my sister and brother-in-law’s home, I admit that I expected the outside to be grander than it is. It looks like a big yellow box and I’m thinking to myself, “Why didn’t they do something more to this?” Elliot is an architect, so… why the massive understatement?
“It’s yellow,” I say to Christian a bit dismayed as we drive up the driveway.
“Yep, that it is,” he says matter-of-factly.
“And it’s stucco,” I continue, my distaste evident. My husband’s extended silence causes me to look over at him.
“You might want to get it all out now,” he says. I frown.
“Get all what out?” I ask.
“Your criticisms,” he states.
“I’m not criticizing!” I declare.
“You don’t have to convince me,” he says, “but if you go into this woman’s house with that tone, she’s likely to put you out. I would.” My mouth falls open.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I ask affronted.
“No offense, Butterfly, but did I stutter?” he asks. “You haven’t even gotten out of the car yet; you haven’t rang the doorbell or greeted anybody, and the first two things you say about the house are critical.”
“I wasn’t being critical,” I excuse. “I was just making observations.” He twists his lips and stares at me.
“Okay,” he says and proceeds to open the door.
“Don’t placate me, Christian…” I begin, and he turns around and cuts me off with a finger pointed at me.
“I’m not going to fight with you,” he says flatly with no malice, “least of all, about this. We’re here for a housewarming party at my brother’s house—your sister’s house. We’re going to go inside, eat some food, hang out with our family and friends and enjoy ourselves. And we’re not going to argue about the yellow house. Comprende?”
I narrow my eyes at him and say nothing. He opens the door and exits the car.
“I speak French, not Spanish,” I say when he turns back to me.
“And yet, you understood what I said,” he points out as he extends his hand to help me out of the car. I glare up at him and scramble out of the car without accepting his hand. The pause behind me can be heard across Lake Washington. After hearing nothing but my heels clicking on the concrete for several seconds, I hear the door slam behind me.
Can you blame him? He called you out for acting like the quintessential snob and you get all pissy about it.
I don’t need this shit from you… or him. I didn’t do anything wrong.
“How’d I know you’d be the first one here?” Val says when she opens the door. “You even beat the Queen.”
“Well, I’m closer than he is,” I say, breezing into the room and undoing my coat while kissing her on the cheek.
“Wow, chilly,” she says.
“It’s not that cold,” I say, handing my outerwear to a gentleman standing there waiting for it. “You’ve got staff,” I smile.
“Besides a temporary cook, just for today,” she replies, “and I wasn’t talking about the weather.” My brow furrows and hers rises expectantly. We have an entire wordless conversation where I ask what the hell she’s talking about, then she asks what’s with the chilly attitude, what’s going on. I end the conversation by waving her off.
“Show me the house,” I say. She raises her brow again.
“Don’t you want to wait for Christian? We can show it to you both at the same time,” she points out. I shrug.
“Doesn’t matter,” I say as I walk into the house.
“You drinking?” she asks, and I nod. She uncorks a bottle of Cabernet from the kitchen wine rack. We talk a bit about the portion of the house that I can see from here. The vestibule opens right into the kitchen and dining room with the living room actually facing the back of the house and Lake Washington, much like ours. The living room and dining room are all glass walls and doors. Three sets of double doors make up the far wall that faces Lake Washington, and two more sets make up the westward facing wall along with large plate glass panes. A large patio wraps around the back and side of the house showcased by the glass walls.
The kitchen is a chef’s kitchen with stained oak cabinets and high-end appliances, including a five-burner stove in the island of the breakfast bar. Of course, the living room has a gorgeous natural gas fireplace and I’m already drawn to sit in one of the comfy oversized chairs and stare out at the lake for hours, forgetting my troubles like snippy husbands who become all sensitive about yellow stucco houses.
“I’m taking gourmet cooking classes,” Val says, interrupting my thoughts and placing a glass of wine in front of me. “Maybe you can help me out with some pointers and recipes.”
“Absolutely!” I beam. “Did you cook anything for the party today?” She shakes her head.
“No, I wanted the food to actually be edible,” she jests. “Besides, I haven’t been feeling well. I’ve been a little dizzy lately, but that’s to be expected after brain surgery.” I frown.
“You don’t think…” I trail off. If there’s any possibility that her cancer is returning, I want her to get a jump on it the moment it rears its ugly head. I will not lose my sister.
“I don’t know,” she laments, “but I don’t think so. There’s been no hint of Meg in any of my cat scans…”
“Meg?” I say, bemused.
“My tumor,” she says. My face is the picture of horror.
“You named your tumor?” I ask.
“Yes,” she says. “I gave it an identity—a dark intruder that needed to be kicked out of my body. She’s an unwanted passenger and I’m kicking her off the bus. It’s a way of taking control of an uncontrollable situation. You diminish the power of the tumor by giving it a name. You’re the doctor, here, Steele. You should read up on this. It’s a very common practice.” I shake my head.
“I’ll take your word for it,” I say. “There are too many facets of medicine for me to be able to cover them all. Oncology and the philosophies that surround it are way too much for me, but if there’s anything that I need to know to be supportive to you, please tell me.”
“Just ask me every so often how Meg is doing,” she says. “If I tell you that she’s still on vacation, we’re good. If I ever say that she’s making an appearance, then it’s time to put our war clothes on.” I nod.
“So… what now? What about Elliot?”
“Oh, dear God, he was ready to take me to the ER,” she replies. “It’s just a little dizziness. It comes with the territory, but I totally understand his concern, especially since I unconsciously hid Meg for something like six months or so. To that end, I’ve got a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday.”
“Do you really want to wait that long?” I ask. “What if Meg really has made another appearance?”
“Then a couple of days really won’t matter, Sis,” she replies. “I need to see my neurologist first, tell him what’s going on, and take the proper steps. If it turns out that Meg is rearing her ugly head, then I’ll go back to the oncologist and we’ll come up with a plan of action. It’s that simple. Now, please, let’s not dwell on it. I want you to tell me how lovely my house is—don’t make me fish for compliments, and if you don’t like it, lie.” She concludes that portion of the conversation with a smile. Just as the conversation changes, Elliot comes into the kitchen.
“I heard the doorbell,” he begins. “Where’s Christian?” Before I could formulate a lie as to why I’m present without my loving husband, Christian comes into the house with our overnight bags. Geez, there were just two bags and his laptop. What took so damn long?
“Dude, what were you doing out there? Did you guys come in separate cars?” Elliot asks the question for me.
“Nope,” my husband quips. “Just separate minds.” He drops our bags on the floor
What the hell is that supposed to mean?
“Oookay,” Elliot says. “Well, I’ve got just the thing for you,” he adds, taking Christian’s coat and handing it to one of the staff. “My very own man-cave stocked with food and refreshments—even beer for those who want to partake. Martin, can you take those bags to the big guest room, please?” He says to the same gentleman who took Christian’s coat. “Come, brother, let the woman fawn over the house whilst we go grunt and scratch ourselves.”
“Lead the way, Bro,” Christian responds, putting his arm around Elliot’s shoulder and, without even looking in my direction, disappears to parts unknown with him. I twist my lips. It’s going to be like that for the evening, is it? I turn to Val
“Well, I guess you can show me the house now.”
Five bedrooms and five bathrooms in two separate living quarters; nearly 4000 square feet and the lakeside of the house on all floor boasts glass walls or large windows.
In addition to the open great-room-living area, there are three bedrooms on the first floor—the third has been converted to a small home office—a laundry room, and a wine closet. The master bedroom has a view of the lake and the other two rooms are on the east side of the house and only slightly more modest. The master bedroom and second bedroom both have en suites and walk-in closets. There’s also a powder room on the main floor.
It’s listed as a two-story home, because the front of the house is two stories. However, there are three floors as the back of the house reveals that the main story is actually a sublevel.
The second floor is a mother-in-law apartment boasting two terraces on the lakeside of the house and one larger terrace on the east side of the house. It has a separate entrance from outside that opens into another great room—living room, dining room, and kitchen—with more modest furnishings than the main floor. You can access one of the terraces from the dining area of this room, which also boasts a glass wall, as well as a powder room with a shower. Both the upstairs and downstairs kitchens have granite countertops.
The two upstairs bedrooms are connected by a Jack-and-Jill bathroom. The larger terrace can be accessed from one bedroom while the smaller can be accessed from the other.
The third floor is the man cave, Elliot’s workout space, and a small area for storage. It also accesses the full party terrace. We didn’t go up there.
From the front of the house, you can see the 800-square-foot garage and six-car parking spaces inside the security gate. A trail to the right leads to a jungle patio much like ours and a cement water fountain. The trail continues through beautiful landscaping and concludes at a 60-foot dock and a whole lot of private waterfront, which will most likely just be for viewing and swimming since Elliot has no desire to own a boat.
The house is really beautiful and quite spacious on the inside—nothing like my house of course. Then again, not everybody can, nor do they want to, live in the obscenely ginormous brick house with the swinging wrought iron gates that is Grey Crossing. It’s hard not to compare other houses to the magnificent edifice that I call home, but I guess I better stop doing that.
Val tells me that the house is condo, so they only purchased the house from the studs in. The Home Owners’ Association is responsible for the outside and the grounds. I didn’t even know that you could buy houses that way—I thought you could only buy condos that way… you know, apartments. I ask why she didn’t just buy a house, and she says that they want to build their own, so until they can do that, this location will do nicely.
Just as I’m singing the praises of Val and Elliot’s home and its amenities, careful to leave out the yellow stucco, her guests begin to arrive. Of course, Allen and James arrive first after Christian and me. Grace and Carrick aren’t too far behind. After them, many of Val’s former coworkers join the party followed by some of Elliot’s employees. When Maxie and Phil show up followed by Mia and Ethan, Val gives me the unpleasant task of going to the man cave to retrieve our husbands, her excuse being that this is the only part of the house that I haven’t seen. I roll my eyes and do as I’m told.
I make my way to the third-floor man cave—indeed! What a space this is. What happens if Val needs him and she’s all the way on the first floor? Does she send a messenger pigeon?
The first thing I see is a sign declaring the rules of the man cave, referring to things like scratching, belching, farting, and bacon—which are all allowed in the man cave. I enter the room and see my husband and his brother yelling at a large-screen television, and I know they’ve found a football game.
“Excuse me, gentlemen,” I say, and they both rubberneck to me like they’ve been caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
“Val sent me to retrieve you,” I add. “Most of your guests have arrived.” Elliot stands and frowns.
“Why did she send you all the way up here?” he asks. “She could have used the intercom.”
Interco…? I know why her sneaky ass sent me up here, but I don’t let on.
“She said she wanted me to see the man cave,” I confess, knowing that wasn’t her real motive. “It’s quite impressive, Elliot.”
“Thanks, Montana,” he says, smiling as he walks by me. “Stay put, bro. I’ll see if I can rescue any other unfortunate fellows. If I don’t come back, you’ll know that I was unsuccessful in my mission.” And away he goes. Christian sits on the sofa still watching the game without acknowledging my presence at all.
“So, you’re just going to ignore me?” I bark. He turns to me.
“Oh! Now, you’re speaking to me?” he asks incredulously.
“I was never not speaking to you, Christian,” I snap impatiently.
“You coulda fooled me,” he says, standing from the sofa. “Just like you, I don’t like being ignored, Anastasia, but you’re the one who threw down that gauntlet. I don’t know what’s wrong, but whatever it is, you need to get it in order.”
“There is no ‘right or wrong’ here…” I begin.
“Yes, there is, and you know it,” he says matter-of-factly, and then he glares at me as if he’s waiting for something. When I don’t respond, he turns away from me and starts to leave.
Say something, you twit! You’re acting like a spoiled, entitled, socialite bitch and I don’t like you very much right now.
“Christian I’m sorry!” I call out before he gets to the door. He stops and turns around.
“For what?” he asks. Oh, geez.
“For talking about the house that way and acting like a snob,” I reply. He twists his lips and shakes his head before turning to leave again. What? I said I was sorry!
“Christian!” I call out to him again. He spins around and closes the space between us in a few long strides.
“I don’t give a fuck what you said about this house!” he hisses quietly in my face. “The yellow stucco is ugly, but we don’t have to live here. What pissed me off is the way you treated me. You attacked me for simply telling you not to offend them in their own home. Then you snubbed me when you got out of the car like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. When your feelings of anger or displeasure are justified against me, I deal with them—that’s all I can do, but when you act like this…” He looks at me and points at various parts of me with disdain. “… This catty little thing that I can’t even find the words to describe, you can do this by yourself, because I’ll have no part of it.”
He doesn’t wait for me to respond. He marches out of the room and quietly closes the door behind him.
What am I supposed to do with that? I didn’t deliberately… but… shit.
And now, the Bitch is quiet. No sassy comments, no gloating, no unwanted advice… I guess she’s having no part of it either.
I go back down to the party, certain that Elliot was unsuccessful in “rescuing other unfortunate fellows.” I won’t be a stick in the mud. I’ll help Val entertain and I’ll have a good time. Hopefully, Christian will too.
Her friends seem nice for the most part. More than one of them have made comments about my husband or even tried to put the moves on him, but I keep the green-eyed monster at bay, determined not to make a fool of myself or to march over into a crowd of mixed strangers and “piss” all over my man—especially since it appears that he doesn’t want me to. I don’t know if, at this point, he’s ignoring me or I’m ignoring him. I know I’m avoiding him… I’m giving him his space.
After a while, I get my answer. I hadn’t noticed, but one or two of the single guys have been eyeing me all night. When one blatantly makes his move, I inform him that I’m married and that my husband is in attendance. When he asks who my husband is, I point to Christian who still isn’t making eye-contact with me.
“That’s your husband?” he asks incredulously. “He hasn’t said one word to you all night!”
“How would you know?” I ask affronted.
“I been watchin’, baby,” he says. “I been waitin’ for somebody to make a move or stake a claim and nobody did, so…” He shrugs. “I don’t mean to offend you, but with an ass like that and those sky-high fuck-me boots, I wouldn’t let you out of my sight.” He shrugs again and walks away.
I look over at my husband again who appears to be holding court with about six attentive listeners, male and female, and not even throwing a glance at me. He normally goes Neanderthal when somebody approaches me or tries to put the moves on me. This time, he didn’t even blink. I don’t even think he noticed.
I go to the kitchen and pour myself another glass of wine. I empty the glass just as quickly as I filled it, then pour another and empty that one, too. And suddenly, I’m exhausted. I’ve been smiling and laughing and conversing and being hostess #2 so that my beloved sister doesn’t overdo it, and now, I want to collapse somewhere and rest—alone. All by myself. In peace.
I look around and no one notices that I’ve left the party. Even my beloved sister is occupied with her previous coworkers. She looks very happy. Good. I quietly open the door to the patio and slip outside.
I welcome the cool air, and the silence. With the lights inside, nobody’s likely to see me out here. Solitude. I have to say that I’m glad to have it. I don’t know how long I’ve been smiling at people and making merry, but I’ve had enough. I sit on the chaise which luckily has an afghan thrown over it and snuggle in looking out at the water—the only thing that has never let me down. If I didn’t want to ruin my heels or freeze to death in the water, I’d walk across the grass, take off my boots, and put my feet in it. My blue savior…
A stranger noticed that my husband was ignoring me, but only because he was watching me all night waiting for his chance to make a move. Nonetheless, a stranger noticed that my husband was ignoring me. When I realized that, I suddenly felt like everyone in the room knew that he was ignoring me. I know that’s not true, but that could be why those who felt so brave as to approach him did so. They thought he was unattached.
A chill runs through me. I’m so fucking tired of feeling this way in some way or another—like something in my life always has to fucking be fixed! Give me a goddamn break!
But this does have to be fixed. I’m just too damn tired to fix it now.
Looking at the water now makes me think of Anguilla, the good and the bad. The promises we made to each other; the passionate love we made; me feeling like I wouldn’t be able to handle intense scenes; the first appearance of the nightmares; Christian screaming at me for answering his phone; all that goddamn candy; standing in the water and feeling it cleanse me…
Somehow, my mind drifts all the way back to when we met. God, I hated that guy, he was the most arrogant, spiteful, conceited son-of-a-bitch I’d ever met in my life. God, what an asshole! How someone could be so cold and unfeeling…
“You planning to jump in?”
Val’s voice jolts me out of my inner musings.
“Jesus, Val, you scared the shit outta me!” I scold.
“You didn’t hear me come outside?” she asks. I look behind me into the house, and it’s almost empty. How long have I been out here?
“You’re trying to kill yourself out here, huh?” she says, holding my coat out to me.
“I’m wrapped in an afghan,” I defend, taking my coat. “I’m not completely unprotected.”
“True, but I bet the coat feels better,” she says, and I have to agree with her when I wrap myself in its warmth. I pull my gloves out of the pockets and cover my hands, thankful for that warmth as well.
“Don’t forget your scarf,” she says handing it to me and I wrap it around my neck. We’re interrupted by one of her serving staff coming onto the patio with warm drinks—spiced lattes. They’re delicious, and very welcome.
“Now, tell me what’s going on,” she says. I raise my gaze to her, nearly begging her not to make me reveal the cause of my absconding, but she’s not going to relent.
“Sometimes, I just need a few moments to myself, that’s all,” I tell her, and it’s the truth. “I told you that Jason helped me realize that I’m suffering from PTSD…” She nods. “Well, there are moments when I need to talk it out, and then there are moments when I just need to sit in a quiet place.”
“So, is that what’s going on?” she prods. “You’re having a bout of your PTSD?”
“No,” the word is out of my mouth before I even have the chance to formulate a lie. “Your house is gorgeous. It really is, but that yellow stucco is horrendous. And when we drove up to the house and I saw that yellow stucco, my mouth and brain disconnected. I swear, I didn’t say anything horrible about the house, but my tone was enough to let Christian know that I was not pleased with the yellow stucco.”
“Is that what this is about?” Val says, unable to hide her mirth. “You two are bickering over the ugly yellow stucco?”
“Well, yes and no,” I reply. “He told me not to come in here insulting your house because you might throw me out. Then he said that if it were him, he’d throw me out, too—and I took offense to that. I can’t remember what all happened after that, but the situation just went south and… here I am. I’m just hoping that the situation will blow over and tomorrow, we’ll just be back to normal.
“It seems like I spend so much time exploring my feelings and looking out for everybody else’s. I filled the pages of three journals already—do you have any idea how much writing that is? And when I start to feel the angst of my situation, I’ll talk to anyone who’ll listen…”
Yes, I know,” she interjects, somewhat absent-mindedly. I raise my gaze to her again.
“Does it bother you?” I ask, disheartened. She’s probably heard the lion’s share of my troubles over the last week.
“Are you kidding?” she exclaims. “No! Of course not! Seriously, Steele?” and I think I may have offended her just now. Great… but I can’t focus on it at this moment.
“Day after day after day of rolling over my feelings, trying to be mindful of others so that I don’t say or do the wrong thing, and then nine times out of ten, the wrong thing flies out my mouth anyway. My shrink threw me out of his office yesterday. Did I tell you that?”
“No!” she says in horror. “Why did he do that?”
“Because I probably did the same thing to him that I just did to Christian,” I admit. “If my feelings are all a-scramble, apparently I mindlessly say and do things that alienate people from me.” I sigh and take a sip of the warming coffee, the only inner warmth I’ll probably feel for the rest of the night.
“Well, I only knew something was wrong because I know you,” she says. “You were the picture of decorum at the party tonight. Everybody really liked you.”
“I don’t think they would let on if they didn’t,” I say with a sad smile.
“I would know if they didn’t,” she reassures me. “I know these people.” I sip my coffee again.
“Wait a minute… You called it ‘ugly yellow stucco.’ You think it’s ugly, too?” I ask bemused.
“Well… it wouldn’t have been my first choice,” she replies. I roll my eyes.
“Then why don’t you change it?” I ask in horror. “You live here now!”
“Because like I told you, it’s condo!” she replies, restating the obvious. “I have full reign of the inside of the house, but the outside—nope. I can’t change the stucco, and the HOA requires that the houses all be some kind of uniform related color. The only other options I have are white, tan, or some other dreadful neutral color, so I’ll spare myself the expense and spend my money on the inside. Besides, yellow is the color of sunshine and I’ve psyched myself out to believe that it’s a beautiful blend with the trees when they’re green and with the blue water all year long.”
“Isn’t it exhausting looking on the bright side of the street all the time?” I accuse wearily.
“I have to, Steele. I’m a cancer survivor. I coulda been dead. For me, being alive, living and loving El, having all my family and friends over today to view my beautiful house… that is the bright side of the street.”
The party is over. I’ve surprisingly made a few connections with people at Val’s job. I had no intention of networking, but when they found out who I was, it was inevitable—and surprisingly productive.
I lost track of my wife early in the evening, which is a bit of a good thing. I simply did not have time or energy for her childish behavior. When the party starts to thin, and Elliot suggests going back to the man cave, I jump at the opportunity.
“Well, this was an interesting night,” Elliot says, drinking his soda.
“Besides the obvious, how so?” I ask.
“Well, it depends on what you’re considering ‘obvious,’” he says. “For instance, when you say ‘obvious,’ do you mean the fact that you and Montana didn’t stay in the same area for 30 seconds? Or are you referring to the fact that when the company whore was hitting on you, she didn’t climb over furniture to scratch her eyes out? Or was it more obvious that you didn’t turn into Tarzan when that guy was hitting on her?” My brow furrows. Some guy was hitting on my wife? “And I take it by that expression that the last bit of information wasn’t so obvious.”
“Who was hitting on her?” I ask. Elliot shakes his head.
“What should concern you more is that I was entertaining and watching approximately 50 people today and I knew that you weren’t speaking to your wife. She was so friendly to everybody except you that you would have thought this was her housewarming. What the fuck, man? Is the honeymoon over.” I roll my eyes.
“The honeymoon’s been over for a long time, Elliot, but it doesn’t mean that I love her any less.”
“Then what gives, man?” he confronts again. “You two are generally inseparable at things like this, so much that only an idiot—like Lily—would dare hit on either of you, let alone someone approach both of you. So, what’s up with that?”
I’m still miffed that someone hit on my wife and I didn’t know about it. Why didn’t he tell me when it happened? How many people hit on her tonight that Elliot didn’t see? I know the felines were in rare form clawing at me tonight. I damn near had to beat one off with a stick. That must have been the company whore that Elliot was talking about. How many hounds were sniffing after my wife?
“Look, man,” Elliot says after I pause for a little too long. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. In all honesty, it’s really none of my business anyway. But if your Butterfly means as much to you as my Angel does to me, you better get to the bottom of this instead of letting it fester and hoping that it goes away… just like that fucking tumor.” I rubberneck over to him.
“What?” I ask. “Is the tumor back.”
“No,” he snaps vehemently, “not that we know of, now stop trying to change the subject.”
He clearly doesn’t want to talk about that subject and I hope he was just speaking in retrospect and Valerie’s tumor isn’t coming back. That was a hard time for all of us.
“Tell me, man. Who was hitting on my wife?” I ask.
“I don’t know the guy,” he says. “He either works at Angel’s old job or he was somebody’s plus one. Whatever he said to Montana, he was dismissed pretty quickly, and then I didn’t see her for the rest of the night.” The rest of the night.
“What? Did she go off with the guy?” I ask before my brain can catch up to my mouth.
“What the fuck do you think?” Elliot barks angrily. “Do you think that your wife and the mother of your two children went off somewhere with a strange man at a party that she never met before? Because if you do, then there’s a whole lot more amiss than you’re letting on. And the fact that you had to ask that question means that this conversation is over, and you need to get up, go downstairs and find your fucking wife!”
Geez, and he’s mad. And he’s right. I don’t know what even made me consider the possibility that Butterfly would do something like that. I really feel like shit for thinking that. She’s still beating herself up for letting that Liam fucker get too close.
“What are you waiting for?” Elliot snaps. “Directions?”
“Keep your shirt on,” I retort. “I don’t think my wife went off with somebody else. I’m just pissed that someone approached my wife and it wasn’t brought to my attention sooner.”
“Yeah, save that anger for yourself, because if you had been paying attention, nobody would have had to tell you. You were heading that guy Brian off at her adoption party faster than he could get the words out his mouth. Now this guy makes a move, moves on, and your wife disappears, and you want to blame somebody else for that? Shut up talking to me and go find your wife.”
“I’m not blaming…”
“Shut up talking to me and go find your wife!” he snaps. God! Okay! Damn! I stand up and walk to the door heading downstairs.
When I get to the main floor, Valerie is in the kitchen with one of the remaining staff, and there’s no Butterfly.
“So, where’s my wife?” I ask somewhat impassively.
“Sulking,” Valerie says with a shrug. My brow furrows as I await elaboration, and she points to the glass wall on the other side of the living room. There on a chaise just outside the glass is a mop of mahogany hair. I can’t see anything else. I roll my eyes, shake my head and sigh.
Why does this woman always seem to escape to the coldest part of the world when she needs to be alone? It’s November, in Washington, at two in the morning. Why the fuck is she on the patio? And ten will get you twenty that she’s asleep out there. Elliot appears just at that moment.
“Our lodgings for the night, good sir and madam?” I request.
“Through there and at the end of the hallway,” Elliot says. “It’s the biggest room besides mine and Val’s.” I nod and head for one of the sets of double doors. When I step out onto the patio, I take in the sight of my tiny wife. She’s snuggled in her coat and scarf and wrapped in another blanket so tight and so small that I can barely make out a body under there. Either she’s fighting the cold with a vengeance…
Or she’s shrinking.
“What am I going to do with you?” I lament aloud. I lean down to the chaise and gather her in my arms, blanket and all. She doesn’t even stir—and she’s warm, so it’s not the cold. When I cross the threshold back into the house, Elliot is waiting to close the door behind me.
“Thanks for a great party, you guys,” I tell them. “We’ll see you in the morning.”
“Not too early,” Elliot says with a nod and a smile. I acknowledge his request and carry my shrinking wife to our temporary boudoir. When I lay her in the bed, she shrinks again—so small and so tight that I can’t get her coat off. I can either wake her to get her coat off or just let her sleep. So, I remove her boots and let her stay there before taking my duffel to the en suite for a shower.
Gentle sunrays wake me in the morning and I immediately know that I’m not in my own bed—and that I’m alone. I dress in my workout gear and sneakers and take off for a run. She’s somewhere in the house, I’m sure, and I’ll talk to her when I get back.
I run through all the things I need to be doing today as my feet pound the cold pavement. For me, Sunday is just a day to prepare for the week ahead—meetings to be had tomorrow and mergers to discuss; acquisitions to finalize…
Smalls and his team will be on their way back to Detroit today and everything in the storage units will have a home or a destination by end of business, Friday. Anything that remains will be shipped back here by my shipping department and housed in one of our numerous warehouses. If anyone wants something after it’s been shipped here to be stored, they may have to pay some kind of fee for waiting so long to claim it unless there’s a really good reason for it. There’s nearly two weeks to decide if they want something on the list, and it’s all free!
The bed was empty when I awoke, so that means that Butterfly was already up and about. I didn’t see her anywhere when I left the house, and Elliot and Valerie were still asleep—or at least they hadn’t emerged yet. I don’t know how far I ran, but when my chest starts to burn, I turn around and start the trip back. Good Lord, it feels like my heart is going to explode. It’s most likely from the exertion and the cold air pumping through my chest. When I get back to the house, I take a deep breath and that aforementioned cold air stabs me in the throat. Shit, I need to warm up.
Imagine my dismay when I discover that the house has automatic locking doors.
I walk through the jungle garden to the back of the house to see if one of the patio doors are open and there I find my wife—in the same place I retrieved her from last night. If I couldn’t tell by the change of clothes, I would have thought she slept out here. She looks calm and serene and her eyes are closed. I then realize that she’s meditating. I won’t disturb her.
I go back to the front of the house and knock, hoping that someone besides Butterfly will hear me. Luckily, the woman from the kitchen the night before opens the door and looks at me expecting.
“Yes?” she says.
“I’m… Christian Grey. Elliot’s brother… I locked myself out when I went for a run.”
Her brow furrows, the realization dawns.
“Oh, yes! I’m sorry. Please come in.” She steps aside and lets me in. I have to say, warmth has never felt so good.
“Thank you,” I say. I peek out onto the patio. Butterfly wasn’t disturbed. That’s good. I have time to go take a shower and put on some clean clothes before I talk to her.
A/N: Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/raising-grey/
Pictures of Val and Elliot’s house can be seen at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/val-and-elliots-house-in-kirkland/
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