My CE testing is next week. I have theory oozing out of my ears! I feel more confident, but I’m hoping I can retain the information for the three days of testing. In the meantime, this was my break from studying and now, I’m going back into the rabbit whole. Wish me luck!
We’re coming to the end, campers. There are four more chapters after this one.
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.
Explicit details of sex and BDSM scenes from here on out. Some may be hot while others may not be to your taste… and not necessary CG with Ana together. Proceed at your own discretion, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you.
This ain’t your everyday Christian and Ana story. Don’t expect anything. Just read it as it goes along or go away. 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 new saga continues…
Sampson got the beating of his life last night, and he loved every minute of it. I, on the other hand, didn’t enjoy it as much. Why? Because of him—Trey.
Why did he have to come to the club last night? Wasn’t it bad enough that I saw him at the fundraiser? With his beautiful, model-like Brazilian date? I could tell by the way that he was carrying himself when they were leaving that they were going to fuck. That’s information I really didn’t need.
“Slow down, you’re walking faster than me in those damn things!” Jesse said as I’m hurrying out of the ballroom and away from Trey. Shit! Shit! Shit! What is he doing here?
“I had to get out of there,” I admitted.
“I noticed,” he retorted. “What the hell is going on? Did Grey do something to you?”
“No… yes…” I sighed. “No.”
“Which is it, Ana?” Jesse asked. “Is there something I need to know about this guy? Does it have to do with Lincoln?”
“No,” I said, “and no,” and yes. I put my hand on my forehead to gain my wits about myself, then I pulled him away from the ballroom entrance.
“We had sex, Jesse,” I confessed breathlessly, like I’ve been holding it in for years.
“Okay, and?” he asked.
“And I haven’t had sex with anyone in years!” At least not voluntarily. His eyes widened.
“What?” he hissed. “What do you mean? You… you don’t…”
“No!” I cut him off. “I’m not a hooker, Jesse. There’s no penetrative sex involved.”
“Except with Grey,” he pointed out. “No wonder he couldn’t look you in the eye.”
Yeah, I noticed that, too.
“So, what now?” Jesse said.
“What do you mean ‘what now?’ What nothing!” I declared. Jesse scoffs at me.
“You’re different,” he said. “I couldn’t put my finger on it before, but now it all makes sense. When did this happen, about two and a half, three months ago?”
“Yes!” I hissed, angry that he could damn near date it.
“If I didn’t have sex in several years, the first person I had sex with, I’d fall in love with. Are you falling in love?”
“For fuck’s sake, Jesse, no!” I denied vehemently. I’m not falling in love. I’m just… confused.
“Well, you two definitely have unfinished business,” he said. “He can’t look you in the eye and you can’t stay in his presence for more than ten minutes. What does that say to you?”
“That I need to check the fucking guest list before I come to fundraisers from now on!” I hissed quietly.
“You guys both live in Seattle. You travel in some of the same circles. You know damn well that’s not the only place you can see him. And that’s not what I was getting at.”
“I know what you were getting at and it means nothing, Jesse,” I scold. “He’s some guy that I fucked and that’s it.” Jesse folded his arms.
“And you’re not speaking now.” I didn’t answer. “Let me guess—you cut him off.” I raised my gaze to him.
“Yeah, so?” I replied.
“So, you used him for sex,” he declared. I glared at him.
“That is not what I did!” I hissed, looking around to be sure that we didn’t have a listening audience.
“Didn’t you?” Jesse accused. “You got him all primed with the Golden treatment, on and off for a whole year. You’ve been giving him little tastes of the meal month after month, and then when he’s groomed and ready, you give him the whole enchilada, then you cut him off at the knees. That poor guy has been sitting somewhere wondering what the fuck happened for three months. What—do you think his money makes him impenetrable? I wouldn’t be able to look at you either!” I narrowed my eyes at him.
“Careful, Jesse. You’re treading thin ice!” I warned.
“Well, forgive me,” he retorted. “I’m just telling you how this looks from another guy’s point of view. And with all due respect, that’s a pretty shitty thing to do to somebody.”
“Guys do it to women all the time!” I excused firmly.
“Yeah, but did he do that to you?”
The words just hung in the air. Jesse talked to me like I’m supposed to have a conscience about sex—and I don’t. It’s simply not part of the equation. It’s an unknown that needs to be thrown out completely, like it never happened.
“He’ll get over it,” I dismissed. “After some time, he won’t even remember me.” Jesse shook his head.
“I hope you’re right,” he said, “but be careful, Ana. Karma has a way of coming back to bite you in the butt when you least expect it, and it’s never convenient.” I rubbed my neck to try to relieve the tension there when Jesse speaks again.
I look up and see the Senator exit the ballroom and look around. It’s showtime. I massaged my head and came out of my hiding place straight over to him.
“I see you’ve missed me,” I said, stepping behind the Senator. He turns around to face me and smiles widely.
“Always,” he said, extending an elbow to me.
We re-entered the ballroom and head over to the bar. We both got refills of champagne and began discussing the evening.
“I have to say that Christian Grey was extremely interested in what we’re doing in the Battery District,” he said sipping his champagne.
“Is that right?” I said, feigning disinterest.
“Yes,” he continued, “even more interested than our Jesse. He was hanging on my every word.”
“How nice,” I said, scanning the room and finding him on the dancefloor with his Brazilian bombshell. Of course, you would know he wasn’t gay, Gisela. You’ve had some of the magnificent dick!
“Indeed,” he said, “he didn’t look at anyone else in the group. Not even his date. I know I’m captivating, but I’m certain I’m not that captivating.” I watched as Christian made a call and he and the Brazilian princess walked out the door. She had that satisfied little smirk on her face of a woman definitely about to be fucked.
“Not one other person in the group,” the Senator continued. I finished my champagne and took another glass from the bar, tucking my hand into his elbow.
“Let it go, Senator,” I warned with a smile. He raised his brow.
“Yes, Mistress,” he complied, and we rejoined the party.
Then I go home and have a dream about Trey—but not fucking me, fucking her!
As if that’s not bad enough he shows up at Crimson. That’s when I see and hear the truth. He looked strong at the party—confident and unmoved, but that was just a façade. When I saw him at the club, I saw that he had changed. He’s not broken, but he’s not the confident man that I previously knew him to be. He’s defeated, but not broken.
Monday morning, I’m back in court for another pro-bono case. Just as I clear the metal detectors and head to the courtrooms, I swear that I see someone down the large corridor.
Is that Aunt Sheila?
It’s strange that I refer to her as Aunt Sheila when I refuse to refer to Richard as Uncle. I must have gazed at her for too long, because once I come back to myself, she’s walking over to me.
“Anastasia!” she says surprised. “What are you doing here?”
“I have a case,” is all I can say.
“You do?” she inquires. “For what?”
“A young man wrongly accused of robbery.” Sound familiar, Aunt Sheila?
“Are you a social worker?” What the fuck? Am I the world’s best-kept secret? Richard has only been chasing me down for over a year.
“No, I’m an attorney,” I retort, “and I’m late.” I cut the conversation and go into the courtroom.
This time, things didn’t go as well as I would have hoped. My client is out on bail, but the case is being bound over for trial. The evidence is very weak—a grainy video and a shaky witness. My client even has an alibi. Nonetheless, the judge wants to see all the evidence and hear the case, so we’re going to trial.
When I walk out of the courtroom an hour or so after I walked in, Sheila is sitting outside on the bench still waiting for me.
Oh, for the love of God. I turn to my client.
“Don’t worry, Desmond,” I comfort him. “This is a very weak case. We’ll beat it. You be sure to keep your grades up and stay out of trouble in the meantime, okay?”
“Okay, Ms. Olivet,” he says sadly and heads down the hall with his mother. Sheila waits until they’re safe distance and approaches me again.
“The word around this place is that you take those cases pro-bono,” she says. I sigh.
“I do,” I say. “I believe everyone deserves a chance to say their piece and they don’t deserve to be railroaded by people and a system that doesn’t care about them.”
“That’s very admirable,” she says, ignoring my implications. “Ray would be proud. Richard would be, too.”
“Richard already knows,” I say sharply. She stares at me for a moment.
“He did?” she asks.
“Yes,” I say sharply. Then I realize… I’ve never seen Sheila at the courthouse, and she’s talking about Richard in the past tense.
“Sheila, where’s Richard?” I ask frankly. She sighs heavily.
“Well, that’s why I’m here,” she says, “to… tell his coworkers and colleagues that… Richard passed away Friday night.”
I don’t know how to react. I don’t feel any loss for his passing, but a woman has lost her husband. I can’t muster any sympathy because she, too, deserted me when I had nowhere else to go. So, I just go the professional route.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” I say, impassively. She nods and scrunches her face in that way that fights back tears.
“He’s with his brother now,” she whispers. I hope the hell not.
“I don’t mean to be rude, Sheila, but I really need to go,” I say and try to leave.
“Ana, wait,” she says, causing me to stop and turn around. “I’m sorry.”
The words hit me square in the chest and nearly knock me off my feet.
“What?” I breathe, with emphasis on the “h.”
“I’m sorry,” she repeats. “We shouldn’t have left you.”
I’m stunned. Eighteen years of pain and hatred have boiled down to “I’m sorry, we shouldn’t have left you.” There was a time when I would have given anything to hear those words, but now, they mean absolutely nothing. I roll my eyes.
“But you did,” I say, turning to leave again.
“Ana!” her call sounds desperate, pleading. “I would have come for you, but Richard expressly prohibited it. He’s my husband… was my husband. I had no choice.” Her voice is cracking, but I don’t feel her pain.
“If…” she pauses, “if there’s any time that we should remember we’re family, it’s now.”
“Now?” I ask in horror. “Now? When your husband dies? Not when my mother and father died? Not when I was a teenager and I needed you? You were all I had… and you left me! You left me cold with nothing and no one, and you want to blame a dead man? If he had ordered you to desert one of your own children, would you? Would you have turned your back on your own children, knowing they had no one else? Or was it because I wasn’t your child? Or was it because I was white?”
All of the anger and the feelings that I’ve held in for years are coming out on this woman right now, in a totally inappropriate place at the worst time ever—three days after she’s lost her husband.
“Richard assured us that you would be okay…”
“But he told you not to speak to me, because Tracy and Junior never did—not once! For two years, they pretended like I didn’t even exist. I don’t know what he hated in me, but he passed that hatred down to you and you took it!” I hear my own voice, loud and echoing through the corridors, cracking with pain and repressed anger, but I can’t stop now.
“You were the only. Mother. I had left,” I say, shaking my head. “I had no one to guide me, no one to love me. I had nothing… nothing but you… and Uncle Richard, and you left me… you left me to fend for myself.”
“It wasn’t like that,” she protests. “Richard convinced me that you would be better off in foster care with a family that was able to deal with a troubled child.”
“When was I ever a troubled child?” I nearly shriek. “The only trouble I had was losing my parents, and then losing you! My grades were flawless, and then I went to college on a free-ride scholarship. When did I give you any trouble…?”
Then suddenly, her words play back to me.
“Wait a minute… did you… did you say foster care?” I ask in disbelief. She swallows.
“Richard said… he told us…” I glare at her for a few moments, then I cackle a tragic laugh that silences the corridor for several moments.
“I wasn’t in foster care,” I say with an ironic smile. “I lived on the streets.”
Confusion clouds her face for a moment.
“No,” she says in disbelief. “Richard… he… he said…”
“He lied,” I interrupt her, “Or he was wrong. It doesn’t matter which,” I add firmly, my tragic smile falling. “They let me go. I lived on the streets.” Horror mars her expression.
“No…” she breathes in that way that sounds like she’s seen a ghost.
“Yeah,” I say, matter-of-factly, “I lived in vacant houses for two years, which weren’t hard to find in our neighborhood, you know. I survived any way that I could—part-time jobs, sometimes eating from garbage cans. It. Was. Hell.” I put my free hand on my hip and examine her horrified expression. “You know, looking at you now, I don’t know which one is worse—thinking that you didn’t care about me and you left me out there to die, or knowing that I went to the same school with your kids for two years and you had no idea what I was going through.”
She puts her hands over her mouth, tears flowing freely down her cheeks, her eyes never leaving mine.
“Ana,” she whispers through her sobs, “my God!”
Yeah, that’s how I felt, Aunt Sheila.
Suddenly, all the anger and hatred that I felt for her, Richard, and their family flows from my body and onto the floor in a puddle around me. Nothing’s holding me up but the pain. I have to get out of here.
“My condolences to your family,” I spit before I turn around and walk down the hall in front of a wide-eyed audience. I don’t care that they know about my past. Look what I became.
The closer I get to the door and the further away from Aunt Sheila, my knees get weaker. My stride quickens, then turns into a skipping trot. Before I know it, I’m sprinting towards the door, desperate to get some air. The moment the cool air hits me, I crumble to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably on the courthouse steps.
The incident with Aunt Sheila broke me down to nothing. I’m completely raw and I can’t function. For two days, I stayed in my room in mourning… mourning what, I don’t know, but I couldn’t even face the sunlight.
Blake tended to me carefully and didn’t ask what was wrong. He waited for me to tell him. On day three when I finally emerged, I told him about my meeting with Sheila in the courthouse; about how they never had any idea that I was sleeping in the cold on the ground or in dirty, germ and rat-infested vacant houses even though I’m sure I told Richard at some point; how I would give anything right now for Reynard to really be Daddy’s son so that I could connect to my father in some way… just not so much of an asshole.
Blake tells me that Richard’s funeral was announced on television since he’s with a public office. Against my better judgement—I’ve been doing a lot of that lately—I decide to go.
His funeral is held at the First United Methodist Church of Seattle. The sanctuary is huge and nearly packed to the walls, including the balcony. Either a lot of people loved Richard, or a lot of people were glad to see him go. All races are in attendance, so at least I’m not like the only white girl in the church.
I walk to the front of the church to view his remains. I look down into the casket, looking for any resemblance of my father. Unfortunately, his health deteriorated so badly that he just looks like a dead man, an expression of peace on his face that says his suffering is over.
I cry at his casket… I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because the feeling of death is surrounding me, I don’t know. The last time I stood at a casket was Daddy and Mommy, so this is another part of Daddy dying, no matter how much I don’t want to admit it. I didn’t bring a handkerchief with me because I didn’t expect to cry. I have to get away from this casket as I’m turning into a slobbering mess with nothing to clean my face.
I turn and walk quickly away from the casket and down the aisle of the church. I slide into the first available seat that I see, hold my head down, cover my face, and cry. Why am I crying over this man? Why can’t I stop? He wasn’t my daddy. He didn’t even make a good uncle, but for some reason I can’t stop.
I feel a hand on my back, and I raise my head. A hand is holding a handkerchief out to me. I take it without looking and clean my face, then my eyes before raising my gaze to the face of the person handing it to me. It’s a younger version of Richard… and my daddy.
“Come sit with the family, Ana,” Junior says softly. I look sadly at him, then shake my head.
“Please… Ana… please come and sit with us,” Junior says, his eyes bloodshot and pleading as much as his words. “Please…”
I’m not going to be a bitch. I bite back my feelings and stand. He takes my hand, and I let him. He leads me to the front row and gestures for me to sit between him and Tracy. At first, I hesitate, but Tracy holds her hand up for me to take it. I sigh, accept her hand, and take a seat between them. I sit quietly on the row with the family, listening to the choir sing, listening to the expressions of sympathy and the kind words about my uncle, the eulogy, crying the entire time.
I feel like I’ve lost my Daddy all back over again.
Not that I feel like Richard was my father, just that I’m consumed by the same hopelessness that I felt at Daddy’s funeral.
I’m thoroughly waterlogged when the service is over, and the closed casket is wheeled down the center aisle of the church. Junior and Tracy cling to my hands and Junior holds his mother as we walk out of the church. I look up and catch the sympathetic gaze of Judge Grey and I nearly break down again. I behaved so badly in his courtroom the last time I saw Richard there. I’m suddenly so ashamed… and how I talked to Sheila in the courthouse. My behavior was atrocious.
We stand outside and watch them load Richard’s casket into the hearse and as the cars begin to line up to go to the cemetery, various people come and give their condolences to Sheila. Tracy is holding hands with her husband now and Junior is still holding mine as Sheila accepts hugs and kind words. As the visitors stream by, Junior beseeches me to ride in the family car to the cemetery to lay Richard to rest. I weakly oblige because I have no strength left to protest.
We begin to walk to the family car and just outside the entrance stands Reynard. I know he’s not looking for a showdown today of all days! I hesitate, but Junior squeezes my hand and the entire family walk straight for him. He looks at me with disgust, then turns his gaze to Junior.
“So, why wasn’t I invited to sit with the family?” Reynard asks snidely.
“Maybe because we don’t know who you are,” Junior retorts.
“You’ll accept her,” he gestures to me with disdain, “but not me?” Junior makes to speak, but Sheila stops him.
“Maybe if you had presented yourself to us with a little more decorum and kindness, we may have been more willing to accept you into our family. Right now, you just need to give us time.” She herds us all together and pushes us in front of her to walk away. She looks back at Reynard and adds one more thing…
“… And proof.”
I know he doesn’t have proof. Richard could have helped him because he and my dad share DNA. Richard’s kids are a long shot, but they’re not going to help him.
So long, Reynard.
We ride silently in the family car to the cemetery, the same place where Daddy and Mommy are buried. His plot, in fact, is one half of a double plot right next to Daddy and Mommy. I sit quietly thinking of my father and mother while the minister says the final words over Richard’s casket. Once the final words are spoken, the mourners all file to their cars, leaving the family behind to say goodbye. Sheila kisses the casket and declares her never-ending love for her husband. Junior and Tracy say similar words to their father.
“Can I have a minute?” I ask and the family leaves. I walk over to Richard’s casket. I look at the dark brown finish as if I were looking at Richard.
“This is it,” I tell him. “This is the end of the road. I bet it’s been one hell of a journey.” I take three flowers from the blanket on the casket, then I lean down to it.
“I forgive you,” I whisper. “Goodbye Uncle Richard.”
I take one last look at his casket before I walk over to Mommy’s and Daddy’s plots. I look at the headstone and my heart breaks. I fall down on my knees on the cold ground and begin to weep.
“I miss you so much, Daddy,” I say. “It never gets easier.” I cry for a minute, my heart feeling like it’s being ripped from my chest.
I’m proud of you, baby…
I raise my head. There’s no one there. I look around… nobody. I know I heard it. I know I did! But there’s no one there. I look back down at the headstone and smile. I kiss my fingers, then touch the picture of his face.
“I love you, Daddy,” I whisper, “bunches and bunches, from this life to the next.” I hold my head down and finish his reply, “And the next… and the next…”
And the next.
I sigh heavily, then I kiss my fingers and touch the picture of her face.
“I love you, Mommy… and I miss you, too. I need you so much right now…” I place two of the flowers on their headstone. My only consolation is that they’re together. Even though I couldn’t have them here with me, one of them didn’t have to face the agony of being without the other.
I take one last look before I rise and turn to walk back to the car. As I’m walking towards the limo, I see Reynard standing next to another car. He just stares at me before he gets into the car and drives away. I sigh and walk back to the limo.
More silence surrounds our ride back to the church to get my Range Rover.
“We’d like very much for you to come back to the house to the repast, Ana,” Sheila offers. I swallow hard.
“I’m sorry, I…” I can’t form my words. “I’m not ready yet.” I pull out my business card and hand it to Sheila. “I’ll be in touch… I promise.” She hugs me and I return her embrace.
“You know where to find us,” she says, “when you’re ready.” She smiles at me and I return the smile. I hug Junior and Tracy.
“Sheila has my number,” I say to them both. “My private cell is on the back.” They smile and I head to my Range Rover.
I cry all the way home.
I don’t know how to process what happened today.
I forgave Uncle Richard. I really forgave him. It just doesn’t make any sense to hold a grudge against him anymore.
My father’s family welcomed me back. It took 18 years, but they welcomed me. I don’t know what Richard was doing, but I wish he had just taken the simple route when he was alive and apologized, then gave me some time to heal, but it’s water under the bridge now.
My father’s family stood up against my supposed brother. It was a silent, unified front and I appreciate it.
My Uncle Richard is gone… and my daddy spoke to me. I’m sure of it.
And I’m weeping so badly that I can barely get home.
Once again, Blake tends to me without asking any questions. Golden is on hiatus once more, just for a week or so until I get my emotions in check. I can’t be an effective Domme while I’m all caught in my emotions.
“Merry late Christmas,” Ronnie says, handing me a small box. I take it with a smile.
“Thank you,” I say.
“It’s okay that you didn’t get me anything,” she says. “We didn’t agree to exchange gifts.” I smile inwardly and take the ribbon off the box. We’ve moved to having our lunches in small cafés and eateries since the cold weather set in.
“Ronnie,” I say, looking at the gold monogrammed cuff links, “they’re beautiful.”
“I don’t know if you have a pair,” she says, “monogrammed, anyway. They’re not fancy like the once you’re used to, but…” I put my finger on her lips to silence her.
“They’re beautiful… thank you,” I repeat. She swallows.
“You’re welcome,” she says softly.
“And actually…” I reach into my pocket and pull out a small box from Tiffany’s. She gasps.
“You sly dog,” she says, punching my shoulder and taking the box. She pulls off the ribbon to reveal a delicate platinum locket on a platinum chain.
“Christian,” she breathes, and it’s the first time she’s used my full first name and not my initials, “it’s stunning. You shouldn’t have…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I say, trying to make the situation a little lighter, “that’s what they all say.”
“I just bet they do,” she says with a wide smile. “Would you?” She hands me the necklace and lifts her hair. I fasten the locket on her neck and resist the urge to caress her skin. She touches it with admiration.
“It’s beautiful, Christian,” she says. We sit silently for a moment.
“So, what are you doing for New Year’s Eve?” I ask.
“Watching the ball drop in Times Square and the Space Needle display… from my living room,” she says. “What about you?”
“I usually go to one of my nightclubs,” I tell her, “but I’m not really feeling it this year.” She twists her lips. “What do you say we watch the ball drop together?” She raises her brow.
“Hmm… I don’t know, can I trust you?” she jests.
“Can you?” I laugh. She sighs.
“Okay, fine, you twisted my arm.”
“Your place or mine?” I ask.
“Mine, I guess. I’m ordering out. Unlike you, Mr. Grey, I don’t like to cook. Chinese okay?”
“Chinese is fine by me,” I say. “About eight?” She nods.
“You bring the cocktails.”
At 8:00pm, I arrive at Ronnie’s downtown condo with two bottles of champagne, a bottle of wine, and a bottle of tequila.
“You didn’t specify what cocktails to bring, so…” I say, holding up the wine satchels.
“Good grief, CG, did you rob a liquor store?” she says, stepping aside to let me in. “And even in casual clothes, you always make me feel like a troll.”
Funny, I was just thinking the same thing about you.
“Does anything need to be chilled?” she asks.
“The champagne,” I say, handing her the satchel with the champagne in it. She puts the bag on the counter and removes the bottles.
“Oooo, the good stuff,” she says, taking the bottles to the refrigerator. “The food should be here any minute. I didn’t want it to be cold.”
“Good thinking,” I say. “Boy, the Rocking Eve is really rocking, huh?” I say looking at the television.
“Yep, they’re having quite the party. I set a little picnic setting in front of the TV. That’s how I do my New Year’s. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Nope, that’s fine. Should I take off my shoes?” I ask.
“Of course, make yourself at home.” She brings a tray with wine glasses and champagne flutes into the living room and places them on the coffee table next to our picnic setup.
“Are we drinking tequila from wine glasses?” I ask. She raises her brow at me.
“You didn’t tell me we had tequila,” she says. “Food first, caveman, or we’ll be loopy as fuck by the time the fireworks start.” As she’s scolding me, the doorbell rings. “Would you get that please?”
I stand up and answer the door. The poor delivery guy is carrying two hot and cold bags with enough food to feed an army.
“Oh, dear God,” I say, taking one of the bags. “Come in, man.” He follows me to the kitchen counter.
“What are you trying to do, feed the homeless?” I ask as he and I begin to take the items from the bags and place them on the counter.
“I didn’t ask what you liked,” she excuses, “and I eat a lot.”
“You couldn’t eat all this in a week!” I exclaim, still removing container after container from the bag.
“I’ll do my best,” she says, “and tonight I have help.”
We finally get all of the food out of the bag, and the delivery guy sighs a sigh of relief.
“Thanks, Dan,” she says once he’s finished and hands him a tip. “See ya next time.” He nods and moves to leave.
“Wait a minute, Dan,” I say, reaching into my pocket. Whatever she gave him, it wasn’t enough. I hand him a hundred-dollar bill.
“Wow! Thanks, man!” he says happily,
“Happy New Year, Dan,” I say.
“Happy New Year!” he says, nodding and smiling widely. “See ya, Ronnie.”
“Bye,” she laughs as Dan leaves and I close the door behind him. “What did you give him?”
“I’m not telling you,” I say. “I gave him enough to make up for having to deliver the freaking Chinese buffet on New Year’s Eve. Now let’s eat.”
We toast the New Year in on all three of the other time zones, laughing and eating and talking about the events of the year, namely Elena’s death, Ronnie’s promotion, my not-quite breakup with Golden, a few of her disastrous dates, etc., etc., etc.
It’s nearly midnight and we’ve finished one bottle of champagne, the bottle of wine, and two tequila shots apiece. I’m filling the glasses for our midnight toast.
“Can I crash on the floor?” I ask. “I don’t feel like going home this late, or this liquored.”
“I thought that was a given,” she says, taking the flute from me. “If you’re not at the club, wherever you are at midnight, that’s where you stay.”
“I never heard that,” I say my brow furrowed.
“Well, now you have,” she says dismissively. “Are you okay? Do you feel sick?” I frown.
“I’m not that liquored,” I chastise. As we’re talking, the countdown begins.
“Ten… nine… eight…” We join in with the countdown and when we get to midnight, we yell, “Happy New Year,” and blow our noisemakers. The fireworks begin out the large window of her living room at the Space Needle, and we instinctively lean in and kiss each other.
What we thought would be a harmless peck becomes a soft but passionate lip lock of melding mouths and caressing tongues. I don’t know if the fireworks are hotter outside or in here. When our lips part, I look into the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen.
“We’re missing the fireworks,” I say softly.
“Are we?” she breathes, her lips kiss-swollen. Damn, they look tasty.
“Yeah,” I reply, my voice huskier than I intend. We stare at each other for a few moments.
“You know, this is the perfect setting to get into trouble,” she says, looking into my eyes.
“Yes, it is,” I agree.
“Have I ever told you that you’re pretty hot?” she says.
“You call me handsome all the time.” She nods.
“It could just be the alcohol talking,” she confesses.
“Do you regret it?” I ask. She shakes her head.
“Will you regret it in the morning?” I add. She shakes her head.
“It is morning,” she says softly. I kiss her again softly.
“So… why don’t you show me some of that kink?” she says. I raise a brow at her.
“You sure about that?” I ask, suggestively.
“You said that if I don’t like anything you do, all I have to do is tell you to stop. Did you lie?” I shake my head.
“Nope,” I reply, “that’s exactly how it works.”
“Now, what if I’m not into that whippee/chainie shit?” she says, cocking her head and repeating her statement when we first talked about BDSM. I move closer to her.
“There’s a lot more to the kink than just the whippee/chainie shit,” I say. We’re very close to each other—breaths away, in fact—and she looks at my lips and chuckles slightly.
“What?” I ask, my voice low and watching her eyelashes closely.
“When we first met, I distinctly remember saying, ‘It was just a “good afternoon,” handsome.’” My turn to chuckle.
“That you did,” I say, now looking at her lips.
“What is it now?” she asks, her voice soft.
“It’s ‘good morning, gorgeous,’” I say, and she raises her eyes to mine.
“Show me what you got,” she coaxes. You asked for it.
I close my lips over hers, put my arms around her waist and pull her close to me. She opens her mouth, giving purchase to my tongue and wraps her arms around my neck. Her body smells great and feels magnificent…
I awake in the middle of the night, naked on the floor with Ronnie in my arms. It doesn’t feel right to sleep around while I’m sleeping with Ronnie, so I guess it’ll just be us. I didn’t do anything particularly kinky with her the first time besides some human bondage…
I pinned her hands down and while I ate her pussy until she came.
I held her hands over her head in one of mine and fucked her until we both came.
There was some gentle choking and some basic orgasm denial to extend our pleasure, but nothing more than that. I would say that she thoroughly enjoyed herself, as did I.
And I’m still thinking about Golden.
Linc is fading fast.
As it turns out, Elena came to an agreement with Ana and the participants of the class action suit. The amount is undisclosed, but with a class action, it’s easily in the millions. Elena and Linc were both trying to lock down whatever assets they could with a possible divorce pending, so although Elena had some pretty good liquid cash on hand, she didn’t have the millions needed to settle a multi-million-dollar lawsuit. So, she did the next best thing.
She liquidated several of their joint holdings in their portfolio to cover the settlement.
A lot of the holdings were shares in Lincoln Timber. Since I had been following the company for my growing timber interest, I gobbled up the shares moments after they became available. That really pissed Linc off because I’m cashing in on him from both angles.
In addition, she couldn’t liquify enough assets to cover the remainder of the settlement, so she took out a secured loan, using others of their joint assets as collateral. She had no source of income when she died, so who’s going to have to repay that loan?
A week after the settlement was paid and final, she ends up dead. With this new information, guess what this situation and all of its little tentacles create?
So, now, Linc is the primary person of interest because no one else had any motive to kill her. Ana had already gotten her payoff and I had a lawsuit pending, so…
Six weeks since I’ve seen her; four and a half months since I’ve felt her, tasted her… and I still can’t get her out of my mind.
Ronnie is very understanding. I haven’t done anything like call out Golden’s name at that crucial moment or some shit like that, but she’s very astute and can tell that I’m sometimes a bit distracted, for lack of a better word. She’s perfect for me in my currently fucked up state… and too good for me at the same time.
I even swore that I saw her Range Rover in traffic one day while Ronnie and I were having lunch. I heard a horn and turned to see where it was coming from. A Range Rover was at the light that looked just like hers, but I dismissed it as wishful thinking and never told Ronnie. I’m like a dog chasing a bone that I’ll never get.
Hell if I know how this will play out.
I haven’t been back to any of the clubs since Richard died. I’ve just been meditating, working, doing the yoga and trying to find myself. Kevin contacted me wondering what the hell was going on, so I met him for lunch and spilled my fucking guts… about Richard, about not going to the clubs, about Christian… though I called him Trey in Kevin’s presence.
He reiterated that his hat was still in the ring should I decide that I want to wander in that direction, although he informed me that he’s certain that Trey will get “first dibs” and he holds no ill will about it. I only tell him that I don’t think that day will come anytime soon.
And then I see something that literally rocks my world.
I’m downtown just after the New Year closing on a deal with one of my corporate clients—another ridiculous payday, by the way—and I stop at a light on 4th. I scan my surroundings and what do I see right in the window of a quaint little café?
Christian! And he’s holding some girl’s hand close to his lips while he’s speaking to her and looking into her eyes, and it’s not fucking Gazelle or Glenda or whatever the fuck her damn name is. This girl is blonde, attractive. She’s giggling and engaging him in that familiar way that couples do.
Fuck, is that what this is? I’m tossing and turning in 15 different emotions ranging from anger to grief to dreaming about this asshole and he’s moved on in a vanilla relationship? Because that’s what that is—totally vanilla. He was all confused and shit, stuck between Dom and masochist, and all I had to do was dump him—for lack of a better word—and now, he’s the perfect boyfriend? What the fuck, man?
The car behind me honks his horn and even with my windows closed, I can hear him saying something about the light not getting any greener. Fuck this shit. Any confusion I may have had over Christian Grey/Trey/Chopper has now been resolved.
I put my feet on the gas and speed away from this touching display of affection. It’s time to get back to myself and stop this touchy-feely bullshit… or so I thought.
I get back to my office to find that Aunt Sheila has sent me several packages—some of them quite large. I have no idea what they could be, but whatever they are, I know that it’s better that I don’t open them in the office, so I have Jesse load them into my Range Rover so that I can look at them when I get home.
It was the right decision.
I’m surrounded by the packages—four in total—in my parlor. I take a box cutter and open them…
And come face to face with my childhood.
Daddy’s badge and ribbons…
Daddy standing in front of his patrol car…
His certificate for graduating from the academy…
My parent’s wedding certificate…
Lots and lots of pictures, including baby pictures of me, pictures of me and Daddy, of Daddy and Mommy, of the three of us, even some with Richard and his family as the kids were all growing up…
My christening dress…
Mommy’s wedding dress…
Mommy in her wedding dress…
The flag from Daddy’s casket…
I remember them giving me that flag. I never knew what happened to it.
Memory after memory come flying at me out of this box and I still have three more boxes to go. Mommy and Daddy’s things, and my things, kept from me all these years. I deduce that Richard must have been a miserable soul in the course of his life and even now, I’m still not angry with him anymore. But now, the onslaught of the emotions is back and because I’ve never dealt with anything like this in my adult life, I just let them happen. Letting them out at Daddy and Mommy’s—and Richard’s—grave help me to move on a bit, and that’s what I need to do…
Including what I’m feeling for Trey. I haven’t put a name to it yet…
Oh, who am I kidding?
I wanted him to still be pining for me; to be thinking about me and that night that we shared; to be dreaming about me like I’m involuntarily dreaming about him. He’s moved on, but dammit, I haven’t! Yes, I still love what I do. I’m still a sadist, but for the first time since I’ve been in the lifestyle this way, something is missing. What am I feeling? Anger and frustration… and hurt.
Let’s deal with one onslaught of emotions at a time… Trey will have to wait.
Friday night, I go to Crimson for old time’s sake. I’m not looking to get laid though I might be secretly hoping to catch a glimpse of Golden.
Of course, I don’t.
I sit at the bar for hours sipping on a Jack and Coke before I finally tell the bartender to let Max know that Trey is here and requests an audience. I gaze at the pole for a few moments like I did the last time I was here, then finish my drink.
“Come with me, sir,” one of the dungeon monitors disrupts my inner musings. I follow him to a back elevator, and he presses a security code that takes us to the second floor. He hangs back when the door opens, and I exit into Max’s private lair. It’s not what you would expect from the owner of one of Seattle’s most successful underground BDSM clubs. It’s homey—high-end, but cozy.
I have a seat on one of the sofas, and Max comes strolling out and casually sits on the sofa across from me. She’s in full-on Domme garb for just such an occasion.
“I was wondering when you were going to come and see me,” she says, crossing her legs. “You’re all over the news with everything that’s going on with Petra. Then you become scarce and people have no idea what to think unless you clarify things for them.”
“You know I don’t care what people think, Max,” I say.
“Not even me?” she asks with a raised brow. I twist my lips.
“Of course, I care what you think,” I correct her. “You hear anything from Golden these days?”
“Not since our last conversation when she made that request about you,” she admits. “I haven’t heard from her since then.”
“I know for certain that she was in the club since then,” because I saw her myself.
“You asked if I had heard from her,” she points out. “I haven’t. I don’t keep tabs on every time someone comes into the club unless they’re a problem, Trey. I know that you haven’t been here much only because some of the regular girls have been asking for you. I know that she and Petra had a falling-out right around the time that you and Petra had a falling out. And of course, Petra was banned after she brutalized one of her submissives—I didn’t want that stigma attached to my club. Now of course, someone offed Petra, so that’s a moot point.”
“It is, indeed” I confirm.
“What’s the story there, Trey?” she asks. “First, the three of you are frequenting the club two or three times a week, then suddenly, no Golden. Shortly thereafter, no you. And of course, no Petra. You guys have come and gone every now and then that I’ve heard, but not like before. What gives?”
“Petra was a lying, conniving, and violent bitch. And Golden…” What the hell? I don’t know what’s going on with Golden either. “I’m… trying my hand at a relationship,” I say, changing the subject. Her brow furrows.
“With Golden?” she asks, surprised.
“No!” I say, more forcefully than I intend. “A… civilian, for lack of a better word.” She twists her lips.
“How’s that working out for you?” she inquires.
“We’ll see,” I say, leaning forward on my elbows. She leans forward, too.
“Completely vanilla?” she asks. My turn to twist my lips.
“As vanilla as I can get,” I reply. “I need my kink, but I discovered that I didn’t need the sadism stuff.”
“Then… why are you here?” she asks. I don’t make eye contact with her. Yeah… why am I here? Can I really do this relationship stuff with Ronnie? Or am I just fooling myself to get Golden and her whips out of my head?
And her mouth…
And her body…
I stand from the sofa and grab my jacket.
“A pleasure as always, Max,” I say, donning my jacket.
“You know you’re always welcome,” she says with a smile, about as confident as I am that this relationship shit is going to work out.
“See ya ‘round.”
“We need to talk,” Ronnie says, showing up at my apartment after work midweek. I don’t mind. I told her that she could come by anytime she wants, but something’s different today.
“Sure, come on in.” I close the door after her and follow her into the great room. “What’s up?” She walks over to the fireplace, then turns to face me.
“I think this is where I should get off, handsome,” she says with a small smile. I frown.
“What do you mean?” I ask. “Get off what?”
“This ride,” she says with no malice. “It was really fun, but it’s not going any further.” I sigh.
“You’re breaking up with me,” I say. It’s a statement, not a question. She chuckles.
“If you can call it that,” she says. “You’re still hung up on that girl.” I shake my head.
“I never had that girl,” I reply.
“Yes, you did,” she retorts in her way. “You had her once, and it fucked you up. And as much as you’ve tried to move on, you can’t. You care about her and you’ve got unfinished business.”
That’s the same fucking thing she said.
“And the fact that you knew exactly who I was talking about without me being specific is proving my point. You either have to make things right with her or you’ve got to move on, but you’re not going to be able to get past it until you do.” I fall onto the sofa.
“This is really depressing,” I declare. “I’m not good at relationships at all, BDSM or vanilla.”
“I don’t think that’s true,” Veronica says, sitting down next to me. “I think you just haven’t found the right girl.”
“I thought you were the right girl,” I protest.
“Tell me you don’t see her when you close your eyes,” she says, softly. I hold my head down. “I’ve felt that before, too, Christian. It means that you’re human, but you’ve got to get past it, and I can’t be the rebound girl.”
“I don’t want to hurt you,” I say honestly.
“Hey,” she says, putting her hand on my cheek so that I raise my eyes to hers. “I’m not hurt,” she says with a smile. “You’ve got some great moves and we had a great time, but neither of us are in love.” She cups my face with both hands.
“You didn’t lie to me, Christian,” she says. “You didn’t deceive me or lead me on. You gave it to me straight and I appreciate that. But because I was your friend first, I know that you’re broken in here, or at least bruised.” She points to my chest. “You have to fix that before you can move on—with me, with her, with anybody. Maybe I could have been the right girl, just not right now.”
“Fuck, I hate this,” I groan. She’s perfect for me. She’s funny, she’s sarcastic, she’s beautiful—not the huge ass, but I could deal with that… but she’s right. This isn’t meant to be.
“I… still want us to be friends,” I say, taking her hands, “not in that tragic cliché way, but… like we were before. Can we do that? Is it possible?” She looks into my eyes.
“Do you love me?” she asks and raises her brow waiting for an answer. I nod.
“Yeah,” I say, “I think I do… but as a friend.” She smiles a wide smile.
“Then I’ll see you at lunch tomorrow,” she says. I sigh and wrap my arms around her. She returns my embrace and we sit there for a moment. When we release, she kisses my forehead.
“Don’t act all strange on me, okay?” she says. I nod.
“I won’t,” I promise. She walks to the door and we hold hands until the last possible moment. She turns around and looks back at me.
“Tomorrow,” she says.
“Lunch is on me,” I say. “Corned beef on rye, 11:00.”
“I’ll see you then,” she smiles and closes the door behind her.
How the fuck do I feel relieved and shitty at the same time?
Max was right.
That shit with Ronnie didn’t last a month. She’s beautiful and willing, but she wasn’t enough… and she wasn’t what I wanted. As it turns out, I wasn’t what she wanted either. I’m glad she ended it first. I really didn’t want to hurt her.
So, what the hell do I want? Do I want a relationship? Do I want a Domme? Do I want to be a Dom? Do I just want mindless sex with several women until my eyes pop out? What the hell do I really want?
I walk over to the bar and pour myself a shot of Jack and throw it back. I pour a second one throwing it back just as quickly before I slam the glass down on the counter and head to bed.
A/N: So, vanilla didn’t really work for Trey. Then again, we knew that it wouldn’t… and Golden is a slobbering mess. Both characters have come way out of their comfort zones. What will the next few chapters hold?
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