I have realized that portions of the Las Vegas storyline must be done in chunks as the ending of certain chapters will only lead to immense frustration. As such, here’s another chunk of Green Valley. Don’t get used to it, though. I’m certain that I can’t maintain this pace indefinitely.
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…
Season 5 Episode 10
She doesn’t know that she’s the most important thing in the world to me. She can’t be serious. I’m here, aren’t I?
It’s this place. It’s this place and this trial and shit. She’s not herself. How could she be? This place is worse than hell for her and this trial is Herculean! I know that’s it. That’s got to be it…
Of course, GEH is important to me. It has to be! But she can’t possibly think that my company means more to me than my family… and the twins! Jesus, does she think that I care more about that company than my own children?
Think about it, genius. She’s absolutely right. Whenever your baby bellows, you come running, no matter what’s going on. Even Ros knew that when she threatened to talk to you about taking the company public that it wouldn’t happen. The only one who’s not accepting that GEH is the most important thing in your life right now is you.
She’s not expecting you to let go of the reins of your baby. She’s just expecting to be a priority in your life when she needs to be.
She’s accepting it. She’s being a team player even to her own detriment. You’re the one in denial.
“Fuck,” I hiss quietly, pushing my hands through my hair. No way in hell I’m going to allow my wife to feel like she—and my children—are not a priority in my life. No way in fucking hell. This is going to take a lot of work.
With no other task to keep my mind occupied, I set out to find something for dinner. She’s taking a bath, so I’m certain that she doesn’t want to go out, and room service is just not going to cut it. As I’m trying to consider what to do next, I get a text from Jason.
**Dinner plans, sir? **
While my wife is in the bath, I text Jason to come to our suite.
“Is everything okay, sir?” he asks when he gets there.
“My wife seems to think that my company is more important to me than her and my children,” I reply as I take a seat at the dining table. Jason raises both brows at me but says nothing.
“And, you think so, too,” I add, dismayed.
“GEH has always been the priority in your life, sir,” he says, taking the seat cater-cornered from me. “For over a decade, she’s been your bedfellow even above your fembots. No offense, sir, but she even came before your family sometimes—I mean, before you were married. With all due respect, I hope Her Highness doesn’t expect that to change.”
“She doesn’t,” I say, shamefully. “It’s glaringly and unpleasantly clear that nothing comes before GEH… but I’m a husband and a father now, and that’s got to change. There’s got to be a compromise.”
“You got a call,” he says. I raise my head and he’s giving me a very knowing look.
“You know me well,” I lament. “It really couldn’t be avoided, and I was only on the phone for fifteen minutes.”
“It doesn’t matter, Boss,” and now I’m Boss. “In this place, at this time, she needs you. She needs you more than she ever has. Even with all these people, they would mean nothing if you weren’t here. You are the leading man; you are front and center. The rest of us—we’re just supporting cast. The show can’t go on without you. So, if for any reason you’re not present, including GEH…” He trails off.
“Duly noted,” I say, rubbing my hand across my eyes, “like you wouldn’t believe.” We sit silently for a moment, then I say, “Five o’clock days, Jason.” I raise my gaze to him, and his brows rise again.
“Really?” he asks. I nod.
“Even I know that it’s going to be impossible all the time, but the late evenings are going to be the exception, not the norm. I’m going to need you to help me with this.”
“How so?” he asks. I shrug.
“I don’t know—give me a ring or send me a text at a quarter to, reminding me what time it is, I guess.” He twists his lips and nods.
“I can do that,” he says. Good… that’s a start.
“Nothing on Drake yet, I suppose,” I comment. He shakes his head.
“I haven’t heard anything from Alex,” he replies. “I’m not really sure there’s much that we can do except make him a bit uncomfortable, unless we find some dirt on him.” I shrug.
“There’s always something to be found,” I reply, “and if not, then we’ll make him fucking uncomfortable.” Even David’s defense attorney didn’t piss me off like this guy. I wouldn’t mind seeing him panhandling for food after what he’s put my Butterfly through.
“Why must every defense attorney I’ve ever come in contact with be such a fucking sleaze?” I ask, mainly as a rhetorical question.
“Well, think about it,” Jason says. “This is the third trial that we’ve been to in as many years. In each of the trials, all the defendants had a little bit of money or were part of a high-profile case. Beat that rap and you can write your own ticket but consider this. What kind of person does it take to defend someone that they clearly know is guilty?
“David kidnapped Her Highness and chained her to a bed. At least five people saw that. We had video of her kidnapping and a voice recording of her begging for help, yet that broad still tried to paint Her Highness as the villain and the indirect cause of her own kidnapping. And let’s not even rehash the defense of the batty blonde bitch who shot me. Seriously, how can we even begin to justify that level of sleazoid?
“And now, we’re looking at a group of kids—now adults—who is looking at, in the very least, manslaughter. We’re going to see some defenses worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy, trust me.”
I’m beginning to wonder what kind of can of worms we’ve opened. This isn’t going to be one clean trial and the bad guys get locked up. This isn’t even going to be one clean trial. Several people have been arrested for what they did to Butterfly. She’s going to have to go through this over and over and over again. Will she even be able to tolerate that?
The only comfort that I’m getting from any of this is that Madison-Perry and Van Dyke have already taken a plea. Which means that they’re already in jail and can help put away their accomplices. I don’t look forward to the next several days of testimony any more than Butterfly does.
“Where is she now?” he asks.
“She’s in the bath,” I say, “boiling off the day, she said. She had two vodka rocks at the bar, and she hasn’t even eaten yet.” I remember promising her a double shot of vodka while we were in court and she sought it out on her own before I could keep my promise.
“So, she’s going to need something with a little weight to it,” Jason acknowledges. “I’ve never known her to be allergic to anything. Have you?”
“Nothing but beef when she was pregnant. What did you have in mind?”
“Something exotic,” he says. “I think you could use some help tonight.”
“I don’t like surprises, Jason,” I warn. He purses his lips and cocks his head at me.
“Have I ever steered you wrong?” he asks. I don’t reply. He hasn’t. “Mm-hmm. Give me half an hour.”
I use that half-hour to reflect on things that need to be done to accomplish this compromise that I need for my family and my company. She’s been spending more time at GEH as of late. She even has her own office now, right down the hall from mine. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that any woman would be worthy of having a space like that in my building—half-owner of my company, wielding the same power that I do… not even Ros.
I’m constantly in awe of her—of her strength and her intelligence, how she changed my life so drastically when I wasn’t even expecting it. How I would be absolutely nothing without her right now…
I walk to the en suite and peek inside. Her hair is wet and she’s sitting in the bathtub. She’s facing away from the door just staring out of the window at the night and the lights over the strip. I can almost guess that she’s staring at nothing.
I quietly enter the bathroom and retrieve a comb from the vanity before kneeling behind her on the floor. Placing a towel on the floor, I realize that her hair still has conditioner in it. I pull her hair from the bath water and, starting with the ends, I gently begin to comb the tangles out. It takes several minutes, but she sits quietly and allows me to proceed. I retrieve the detachable shower head and set the water temperature at lukewarm. She holds her head back and allows me to rinse the conditioner out. I gently wring the excess water from her long tresses and give it another comb through.
“Dinner will be here soon,” I say. She sighs heavily.
“Would you like for me to dry your hair?” I ask. She doesn’t respond.
“Would you like for me to braid it?” I ask.
“Yes, please,” she says softly. Thank God. I thought she wasn’t speaking to me!
I carefully separate her hair into three sections and begin the task of braiding it into a long, beautiful braid. I fasten the end with a ponytail holder and retrieve a bath blanket.
“Come on, Butterfly,” I say, holding it open for her. “Dinner will be here soon.”
I help her stand from the bathtub and she walks into the bath blanket. She wraps it around her body as I use a second towel to squeeze and dry the excess water from her hair. I hear the doorbell and realize that Jason has returned with dinner.
“Come out, soon. That’s dinner,” I say. She nods and I kiss her on the cheek before going out to greet Jason. He has two bags of food when he enters, and I set the table for two.
“What did you get?” I ask
“Indian,” he says as he begins to empty the bags. “Coconut goat, lamb shahi korma, shrimp curry, tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, seekh kabob and shrimp tandoori. I also got some cheese naan and sweet mango chutney.” Everything smells really good.
“The servings are small,” I say. I’ve tasted several cuisines, but I don’t think I’ve had authentic Indian before.
“Trust me, you’ll have leftovers,” he says. “Whatever entrée you choose, take a portion of rice—about the size of a small ice-cream scoop—and put it on the plate first, then put the entrée over it. Take small amounts, Boss. This stuff is rich.”
He shows me what each entrée is, and I taste each one. He’s right, it’s rich… and delicious. The mango chutney looks like orange marmalade and is very sweet, not my preference. I’ll let Butterfly have that if she wants it.
“I know she’s a Cabernet girl, and that she’s had two vodkas already, but A, a Pinot Noir is going to pair best with the richness of the food and B, she’s going to have some good substance with the food. So, she’ll be fine, even though she’s already had a couple of drinks. I was able to secure a decent rosé from the concierge, probably not the million-dollar bottles that you’re accustomed to, but he assures me that it’s not a bad blend.”
I nod. I don’t know how Butterfly is going to feel about the Pinot Noir. However, even though she prefers Cabernet, I know that’s not the only wine she’ll drink.
“Thanks, Jason. I think it’s safe to say that we’re in for the night,” I inform him.
“Then, I’ll see you in the morning,” he says with a nod and leaves the suite. I leave the covers over the food so that it doesn’t get cold. Then, I go back to the room to retrieve my Butterfly.
She’s standing there staring into the bureau drawer at her night clothes with her towel still wrapped around her and her braid falling incredibly long down her back. She’s not moving—she just looks like she’s daydreaming. When I step up behind her, she raises her gaze to me in the mirror. It’s unassuming and has no malice. She’s just… standing there.
I look down in the drawer and remove a flannel shirt. It looks warm and comfortable and I think it’ll fit the mood. I hand it to her and kiss her on the cheek again, leaving her to change.
The rosé is already slightly chilled, not too cold, so I uncork it to allow it to breathe. I retrieve two wine glasses as well as two bottles of Voss from the minibar. I doubt that she was concerned about being hydrated while she was drinking. When I turn around, she’s walking across the living room in her bare feet and button-up flannel shirt.
“I’ve never tried Indian before. I hope you like it,” I say.
“I love Indian food,” she says as she takes a seat at the table, her feet underneath her in the chair. “Mmm, that smells like curry.”
“It is,” I say, “curry shrimp, to be exact.” I put a scoop of rice on her plate.
“You can give me more,” she says.
“It’s very rich,” I tell her, “and we have three entrées.”
“And you can give me more rice,” she says. I shrug and scoop more rice into her plate. She looks at me expecting, so I scoop even more onto her plate.
“Thank you,” she says, taking one of the containers with the entrées. “What’s this?”
“Coconut goat,” I reply.
“Ooooooo!” she sings, placing a respectable amount of goat and gravy over a portion of her rice. “And this?” she asks as I fill her water glass. I look over at the second entrée.
“Lamb shaki something,” I say, now pouring the wine. She laughs.
“Lamb shahi korma?” she corrects me. I shrug.
“Sounds right,” I say, taking my seat and placing some rice on my plate.
She places some of the lamb and the shrimp curry on her plate over the rice, then places some of the loose meats and vegetables on the side. She looks at the last two containers. Opening one, she sees the mango chutney. She puts a small amount on a small saucer and tears off a piece of the cheese bread for dipping. She opens that last one and produces something that looks like moist donut holes covered in coconut shavings. She removes two of them with a spoon and put them on the saucer with the chutney.
“Do you know what that is?” I ask. Jason didn’t tell me. She nods, and I look her expecting.
“It’s gulab jamun,” she says. “It’s kind of hard to explain. It’s a spongy round cake made with powdered milk, filled with a nut stuffing, and soaked in honey syrup. It’s more than that, but that’s the best way to explain it.” My brow furrows.
“That sounds very sweet,” I say.
“It is,” she replies. I shake my head and continue placing entrées over my rice.
“Mmm,” she says with appreciation while taking a mouthful of food. “Thish ish delishish,” she says shamelessly with her mouth full.
“I’m glad you approve,” I say. “I’ll let Jason know.”
“Tell him that I’ll be eternally grateful if he can procure some of these kabobs for lunch tomorrow.”
“Will do,” I say, taking a forkful of the food. It really is very tasty. We eat in silence for a while with Butterfly appreciating her meal, including the rosé.
“I want a copy of my hospital records from here,” she says. “Even as a doctor, it never occurred to me that something with my head had to cause the coma. Of course, it had to—I had two hematomas. There’s a whole lot that could explain.”
“Such as?” I ask between bites.
“Adrenaline tears,” she says. “They may not be adrenaline tears. They may be something else. I rub my forehead… I used to rub fire into my forehead before I started rubbing my scar. Where was the hematoma—was one of them on my forehead? Was that nervous tick some phantom pain that I didn’t recognize like the throbbing I get when I rub my scar? And the fact that I faint when I get really upset…”
“Wouldn’t Dr. Hill have seen any of those things when you had the accident?” I ask. She shrugs.
“Maybe,” she says. “Who knows? I’m not a neurologist, so I couldn’t tell you. If none of them left any scar tissue behind, maybe not, but I still want to know.”
“That’s a good enough reason,” I say, eating more of my meal.
After dinner, we call home and check on the twins. Both children babble incoherently into the phone, which immediately lightens Butterfly’s mood a bit. So as not to be caught too off guard, we have Mac handling the online onslaught of information about the trial, but we take a look at the local news. When the coverage of the story comes on, thankfully, it’s very brief.
“Opening arguments were heard, and testimony began today in the Henderson case of Vincent Sullivan. Sullivan has several charges in the assault of Seattle psychiatrist and billionairess Anastasia Steele-Grey. In 2001, Grey and Sullivan were both students at Green Valley High School. The attack is said to have taken place in Green Valley. Grey and her entourage entered the courthouse this morning in a perfectly choreographed formation that prevented press and even onlookers from getting anywhere near her. Those looking for photo ops were hard-pressed—literally—to even get a good shot of her.
Sources say Dr. Grey testified today along with law enforcement officers, first responders, and the doctor who treated her after the attack. News 13 will keep you abreast of the story as it develops.”
I mute the television and look over at my wife who’s just staring at the screen now. I won’t make love to her tonight. It seems inappropriate under the circumstances.
“What do you want to do?” I ask. She sighs.
“Let’s just go to bed,” she says. She adjusts herself and gets under the covers. It’s way too early to go to sleep, but I’m aware of my wife’s ability to sleep at will and get rid of the day.
I turn off the television and lay next to my wife for hours while she sleeps.
She’s cold and silent as she gets dressed for court in the morning. Cold may not be the correct word, but she’s very detached… extremely aloof.
She has decided to skip breakfast in case she hears something in the morning that’s going to cause her to vomit again. She has vowed not to skip lunch, however—barf sessions notwithstanding.
We called the hospital to try to get a copy of her medical records that morning. As it turns out, she can get them, but she has to request them in person. As the medical records department is open during the same hours that we’re going to be in court, that’s not going to be an easy task. Also, she’s Anastasia Grey now and she has to prove that she was Anastasia Steele. So, we have to get a copy of her birth certificate and our marriage license sent down here—or go back to Seattle to get it.
We take the same formation when we get to court the next day, but Butterfly warns everyone to keep up with her this time because she doesn’t feel like doing the covert stroll. She prefers to “just get the hell up the stairs.” In the process, she bumps into her father and Allen more than once on the way into the courtroom.
The glasses are off as soon as she clears security and she impatiently waits on the other side of the checkpoint for everyone else to clear. Apparently, she feels that if she can hurry up and get this day started, she can hurry up and get it finished.
We flow into the elevator as usual and other people attempt to get on with us. However, our security purposely stands in front of the elevator doors like sentinels, forming a big wall of man and not allowing anyone else onto the elevator. A few complain that there’s plenty of room for more people, but the bellyaching falls on deaf ears as the doors close.
Butterfly steps off the elevator like she’s alone when the door opens on the eighth floor. She has put on the independent hat and she’s not accepting any tenderness from me. I can tolerate that when she’s angry, even when she felt that she had to put on the brave face at Christmas, but not today. Not now…
“Excuse us for a moment,” I say as I place my hand in the small of my wife’s back and lead her away from our entourage. She has replaced her Jackie O’s by now, but I can still see her puzzled look behind the tinted lenses.
“It is imperative… that you allow me to be here for you,” I say to her questioning eyes. “I have to sit and listen to this—listen to what happened to you… watch what happened to you. It was hell for me sitting through that trial, knowing what David and Harris did to you… but I saved you from that. I couldn’t save you from this. I couldn’t stop this from happening. Yes, I took a call from GEH yesterday, but I’m here for you today. You have to let me be here for you.”
I whisper that last sentence with earnest, and she takes in a quick breath, her expression softening almost to sympathy.
Don’t feel sympathy for me, Butterfly. Just don’t shut me out… please.
Her hand gently cups my cheek and she gazes at me for a moment before she stands on her toes in a vain attempt to reach my lips. I lean down and allow her to plant a tender kiss on my lips. When she pulls away, she gently caresses my cheek and her beautiful blue eyes give me the comfort—and the strength—that I should be giving her. I take her hand in mine and kiss it gently, giving it a squeeze before leading her into the courtroom.
I wasn’t trying to shut him out. I was just trying to stand on my own. I felt like I needed him yesterday when we got back to the suite and he wasn’t there for me. I don’t want to fall apart and see that he’s not there for me, so I have to stand on my own.
I didn’t realize that he’s leaning on me as much as I’m leaning on him.
Being able to be there for me and hold me up and rescue me if I need it is what’s holding him together. If I take that away from him, he’ll fall apart. What a predicament to be in.
Ain’t we a pair.
The morning is pretty tame—jurors and Vincent Sullivan enter, nurses and doctors from the hospital testify about my condition, my lack of visitors, how strange they thought it was that nobody cared about me or came to see me until Daddy showed up and slept in my hospital room until it was time for me to be discharged. I’m not completely sure what that had to do with the case in and of itself, but there it was.
Jason got my kabobs for lunch which made me very happy. Daddy called them strange, because they didn’t look like the kabobs that he’s accustomed to. Then, he tasted them… and he ate four of them.
Marilyn tried to eat one, she really did, but it was no use. Ever efficient, Jason got her a strawberry, banana, and spinach smoothie made with almond milk. It seems my husband and I aren’t the only ones who have been keeping an eye on her. Sorry, Mare, there’s no escape. She does, however, seem extremely grateful for the smoothie, and she’s drinking her Gatorade.
The morning was such a breeze, I knew I should have prepared myself for the big boom after lunch, but I didn’t. Nothing in the world could have prepared me for this…
“The state calls Carla Morton to the stand.”
“Who?” I say aloud, completely forgetting where I am.
“Mrs. Grey,” the judge warns, “please refrain from further outbursts.”
I don’t even apologize. I’m too damn shocked to apologize. What the fuck could she possibly have to say?
The doors open and a woman enters the courtroom, only, it’s not Carla… is it? She looks a bit like Carla, but this woman is more refined. None of that over-the-top, grandiose garb that I’m so accustomed to seeing her in. No—black suit, messy bun with deliberate tendrils framing her face, modest make-up… Even her stride is more contained. You’d think with $100,000 she’d get those brows done, though.
He said it. He fucking said it. Expect anything. What the fuck are you up to, Larson?
“State your name for the record.”
“Carla Louise Morton,” she says clearly.
“Can you tell us your relationship to this case?” She sighs.
“Anastasia Steele-Grey is my daughter.”
“Why are you here today, Mrs. Morton?”
“To tell what I know,” she says.
“Let’s start by making something clear. You’re estranged from your daughter right now, aren’t you?” Mr. Larson asks.
“Yes, I am.”
“Can you tell us why?” he presses.
“Because I was a terrible mother,” she says flatly. “I cared more about myself, the pursuit of my own happiness, and my then-husband than I cared about my child.”
“That all sounds past-tense, Mrs. Morton. It sounds like you’ve seen the err of your ways.”
“I have,” she admits, “but it’s too late, now.”
“You’re still alive and healthy. So is Anastasia… why is it too late?” Carla smiles sadly.
“Some wrongs you just can’t right, counselor,” she says finitely.
Well! Knock me over with a feather.
“So… why the appearance today?” Mr. Larson asks.
“My husband and I helped perpetuate this mess. We helped with the cover-up; we facilitated my daughter’s misery… All of this is because of me. This is the very least I could do, and I do mean the very least.”
Who is this woman?
“Why should we believe you, Mrs. Morton? You’ve had plenty of time to come forward. Why now?”
“Why now? Why not now? It’s all coming out anyway.” She shrugs and looks at the jury. “Believe me if you want. Don’t if you don’t. All I can do is tell the truth. If it does any good, wonderful. If it doesn’t, then things won’t be any different than they’ve already been all these years, will they? The same acts of violence will still have been committed against a young girl; the perpetrators—whoever they may be or claim not to be—will have gotten away with it once again, and we’ll all go on our merry way.”
“Are you receiving any kind of reward or compensation for your testimony. Mrs. Morton?” Mr. Larson asks.
“Yes, I am,” she says clearly. I knew it. I knew she wasn’t doing it for free. “I’m receiving immunity from prosecution for anything that may be revealed from my testimony or these proceedings. Yes, I know it’s selfish, but I’m alone and I prefer not to have to live out the remainder of my days in prison.”
Oh… well… that’s… not really compensation. It’s no less than the deal these assholes are getting for turning state’s evidence, and she didn’t burn me with a branding iron.
“Let’s examine that word compensation, Mrs. Morton. You’re a widow, am I correct?”
“Yes,” she says. “My husband died a couple of years ago.”
“You indicated in your deposition that you previously received substantial compensation in relation to this case. Can you tell us in your own words what you meant by that?”
Carla’s eyes go to the ceiling and she looks extremely uncomfortable.
“Let me start by saying that I was never a victim, here,” Carla begins. “I was selfish, and I didn’t take the proper actions at the time. If I had, I could have prevented all of this.” She bites her lip then begins her tale.
“Anastasia came home very late one day. She looked like she had been attacked by wild dogs. She was crying, she was walking funny, and she was bleeding. She told us that she had been raped by one of the boys at school.”
“And who did she say the boy was?”
“Objection,” the defense interjects. “There have been no arrests or convictions in any related rape case.”
“Your Honor, this testimony leads to motive, and she’s not stating for a fact that Anastasia was raped. She’s stating what her daughter told her and the events that followed.”
“Overruled… but tread carefully, Mr. Larson,” the judge warns, and Larson nods before turning back to Carla.
“Continue Mrs. Morton,” he says. “Who did Anastasia claim had raped her that day?”
“Cody Whitmore,” Carla states.
“And what happened following this accusation?” Mr. Larson asks.
“My husband, Stephen, went with Anastasia to confront the boy and his father. They were gone for an hour or so and when they returned, Stephen was convinced that Anastasia had lied. He said that the boy was rich and had a beautiful girlfriend who was there with him at the time. He said that after talking to Cody and his father, there was no reason that he could see that Cody would want to rape Anastasia. He chided her for lying and causing him to embarrass himself in front of the Whitmores, and we all just forgot about it.”
Not all of us, I think as I stare at the courtroom floor, wound so tight that I could break. Christian’s hands gently grasp both my arms, causing me to look over at him. At that moment, the entire courtroom is silent, and several people are looking at me. It’s then that I realize that I didn’t think the words. I said them out loud. I gasp, and my fingers fly to my mouth as I remember that the judge has already cautioned me about courtroom outbursts.
“I’m sorry,” I say, shaking my head and addressing the bench. “I didn’t know I verbalized my thoughts.”
“You’re free to remain for the proceedings, Mrs. Grey, but once again, you must refrain from further outbursts,” he warns.
“Yes, Your Honor. It won’t happen again.”
“Continue,” the judge directs Mr. Larson, and he turns his attention back to Carla.
“So, you say that you all just went about your business after the rape allegation. What happened next?” Carla shrugs.
“Some time after that, a few weeks or so, maybe, Anastasia just went missing. We didn’t know where she was and to be honest, we didn’t care. I was so wrapped up in wanting to belong in a town where I never had any hope of fitting in and, quite frankly, Stephen never liked her. He didn’t have any children of his own and he never wanted any. As hard as I tried to get Anastasia to show him the respect of a father—or stepfather—she was having none of it. It would have been easier for me and Stephen if I had just left her in Montesano with Ray, but…” She trails off.
Fucking hell, they didn’t even want me—not at all, neither of them. She only took me to hurt Daddy. And she wants to know why I don’t want anything to do with her now.
“A few days after Ana disappeared, we got wind of this story. There was this child—a teenager—in the hospital and she had been there for a few days. I didn’t think it could be Ana at first. Why would she be in the hospital? And why wouldn’t they call me? After a while, curiosity got the best of me and I went to the hospital to see if I could identify the unidentifiable girl still in a coma… and it was her.”
“So, you identified Anastasia,” Larson says. She nods, appearing to fight back tears.
“She looked awful, but I knew it was her. At first, I felt sick and worried, but then, the police kept asking me questions… Do I know who did this to her? Why hadn’t I contacted the police sooner since she had been missing? Was she involved in any kind of occult or satanic worship? It was horribly embarrassing! I had no idea what Anastasia had gotten herself into where she ended up in the hospital looking like a piece of over-tenderized beef!” Carla shakes her head.
“I don’t even remember what I told the police about why I didn’t call them, but they bought it. Come to think of it, I talked to the officer who’s in custody now, so…” She shrugs, coming to the same conclusion that I have. She could have told him that she was vacationing on the moon and didn’t give a fuck if I was on Mars at the time and it wouldn’t have made a difference.
“I’ll be honest with you and tell you that I have no concept of the passage of time,” she admits. “Ana’s room was completely bare. It was like, if the hospital staff didn’t have to deal with her, they wouldn’t deal with her, either.”
She’s exactly right. That’s exactly how they made me feel.
“Nobody came to see her. Nobody came to check on her. She was a complete outcast and I was an outcast every time I came to the hospital. I began to resent her for putting me through this—for the label and the looks that I would get for whatever she had gotten herself into. I stopped coming until I got the call that she had come out of the coma.”
I don’t make eye-contact with that woman. I grind my teeth to keep from saying anything, to keep from calling her every unimaginable name I can think of. She doesn’t even have the decency to sound remorseful for her behavior.
“I showed up when she came out of it, but I knew that she would be okay, so I didn’t come back after that. Mom of the Year,” she says, throwing up those “peace signs” with both hands like Richard Nixon. We all know that she’s being sarcastic, and this is the first sign of any self-scolding I’ve seen since she started recounting the incident.
“She was in the hospital for a long time, and I should have known that he was going to come for her…”
“He?” Mr. Larson interrupts.
“Ray… her stepfather.”
“My father,” I grumble in my chest, the words coming out like I’m clearing my throat. What are they going to do—hold me in contempt of court for clearing my throat?
“I guess he’s her father now… with the adoption and everything.” He was always my father, you wicked, old, lying witch!
“Anyway, I avoided his calls for weeks. I don’t know how he heard or knew that something was wrong, but he knew. Sure enough, he showed up on my doorstep, demanding to know where his Annie was…”
“Now, we need you to clarify. How did Ray not know what was going on with his own daughter?” Mr. Larson asks.
“I didn’t tell him,” she admits. “He was in Washington; we were here. I never spoke to him. I left him and my life there behind. It wasn’t until he showed up here that I realized that Anastasia had still been talking to him. I had no idea and I didn’t expect him to show up, so I had nothing prepared to tell him. I don’t even know how he got into the hospital to see her since he’s not on any of the records, but I guess them having the same last name—and no one else coming to see her—afforded him some leniency.”
Thank God, or I wouldn’t have had anyone at all, thanks to you.
“I wanted to know what was going on, but I didn’t want to know badly enough to go up there and face Ray… and once he got there, he never left. When he was leaving, it was when Ana was being released from the hospital, and he told me in no uncertain terms that he was taking her with him. All I could see at the time was that I wouldn’t have to deal with her anymore—the funny looks when I came to the hospital or even went to the local grocery store. She was just in the way. This was the opportunity to alleviate that situation, not to mention that there would be one less mouth to feed.
“The rumors kept circulating about what happened to her long after she was gone. She didn’t remember anything. The baby was gone, so there was no way to determine who the father was…”
“You never referenced a baby,” Larson interrupts.
“She was pregnant at the time of the attack, and the baby didn’t survive. They told me the moment I got to the hospital. I didn’t think to put two and two together with the time of the alleged rape. Like I said, I had no concept of time and it didn’t matter enough to me at the time to calculate. It was easier to pretend like it was happening outside of me than to accept that I was involved in any way. Sending her away with Ray removed me from the situation and did away with the problem, or so I thought. The rumor mill was still very active. Many people had no idea what happened to her—myself included—and there were lots of questions… Lots of questions and no answers. Ana didn’t have any answers either, and apparently, that makes everybody uncomfortable
“The next thing I knew, Stephen came to me telling me in no uncertain terms that we had to bring Ana back to Nevada. I protested. I was sure that just like any other rumor, this one would die with time. He was not. I couldn’t understand why he even cared. So, it’s not going to die. What’s the worst that could happen? She’ll become an urban legend. There was no evidence of any kind for any type of investigation. They didn’t even keep DNA from the baby that I knew of, but Stephen was adamant that she had to come back. I stalled and stalled and stalled for as long as I could. Finally, he told me about the money—well, some of it, anyway. As far as I knew, it was half a million dollars. It turned out to be more.
“He told me that our getting the money was totally dependent on Ana coming back to Nevada where she could be watched. He said that she had already fabricated this whole story about the Whitmores and their son, and that Frank Whitmore was more than willing to pay to keep her from spreading any more lies and ruining their reputation in the community. She’s afraid right now, he had said, but when she’s no longer afraid, she’s going to start talking again.
“So, we got in the car and drove straight to Montesano without stopping. We showed up with no warning, because I’m certain that if I had told Ray that we were coming to get her, he would have hidden her somewhere. She cursed and she fought; Ray begged us not to take her back. He even threatened me with state intervention, but we both knew that had he done that, she would go to foster care since he had no legal rights at the time.”
“I’m confused—why was she carrying his name when he had no rights?” Larson asks.
“Anastasia was only a few months old when her biological father died. It was very easy to change her name once Ray and I decided to get together. It was even easier for her to assume her biological father’s name when we got back to Nevada. We put her in a different school under a different name and that was that.” She brushes her hands together as if to sweep away dirt.
“Only… that wasn’t that,” Larson says. Carla purses her lips.
“No, it wasn’t,” she admits. “Whitmore kept tabs on us like we were slaves. He wanted to know what Anastasia was doing every minute of every day. We didn’t even know what she was doing every minute of every day! We didn’t know anything about her grades. We knew nothing about her friends, if she even had any. She would leave at the crack of dawn and not come back until well after curfew. Stephen grilled her a few times, threatening to throw her out of the house. She would just egg him on. ‘I’ll go back to my real father,’ she would tell him.
“We figured out that she had a job at one point, and Stephen tried to get her to turn over the money she was earning, but to no avail. He even turned her room upside-down once looking for it, which wasn’t hard since there wasn’t much in there. Anyway, one day, she left for school and never came back. When after a couple of days, we didn’t see her, we filed a missing person’s report. There wasn’t much that we could do really since she was beyond the age of consent, but Whitmore had a fit, threatening us to produce Anastasia or give him back the money he had given us. Stephen just laughed in his face. That money had long since been gone and not once while Anastasia was back in Nevada for that year or so had she mentioned anything to do with the incident. Either she really didn’t remember, she was scared out of her wits like Stephen said, or she completely blocked the whole thing out, but we never heard another word about it until years and years later.”
“So, Whitmore was harassing you for Anastasia’s whereabouts. What did you do?” Mr. Larson prods.
“I called Ray,” Carla continues. “I told him to tell me once and for all where Anastasia was, and he freaked out, too. He cursed me from here to the Congo for not letting her stay there with him, and now neither of us knew where she was. I still thought he was full of it until he showed up on my doorstep again demanding to know his daughter’s whereabouts. That’s when I knew… I knew that she had run away, and I would probably never see her again. I didn’t know how to feel about it at the time. I wouldn’t allow myself to feel any remorse or regret and I certainly wasn’t going to accept any responsibility for the situation, heaven forbid.” She drops her gaze and shakes her head before continuing.
“A few days later, Ray went back to Montesano with more questions than he had when he got to Vegas. Whitmore harassed us for a few more months, but then, everything just got quiet. The whole incident just faded to black and we all just… went on, doing our thing.” She shrugs nonchalantly.
“So, just for informational purposes, when did you see your daughter again?” Larson asks.
“About three years ago,” Carla says. “There was some kind of alert released in the news and on the internet about this missing woman. I never would have known about it at all, but I was at work one day and one of my coworkers was following the story on her tablet. I saw the ‘call to arms’ that Christian and his lawyer had done, and it was on a repeating loop—they kept saying her name. So, I got to a computer and I Googled it. That’s how I found her.”
“So, we’re talking now at least ten years since you’ve seen your daughter…”
“Yes,” Carla confirms.
“She never tried to contact you. You never knew if she was dead or alive.”
“I was fairly certain that she was okay. If she had died, someone would have contacted me.”
“No one contacted you when she was unconscious in the hospital,” Mr. Larson points out.
“She wasn’t dead, either,” Carla points out. You’re just a real fucking sweetheart, aren’t ya, Mom?
“So, now you know that she’s in Seattle, or that she’s missing from Seattle. What do you do?”
“I tell Stephen that we need to get to Seattle. I knew Ray wouldn’t tell me anything and if I wanted to know what was going on, I had to find out for myself.”
“Mrs. Morton, as far as you knew, Anastasia had been missing for over a decade. Now, it was so important for you to find her. Why?” Carla sighs and rolls her eyes in that way again—that you’re not going to like what I’m about to say way.
“Because I did my research on this stranger and discovered that a really important man was looking for her. By the look on his face, I could tell that she meant something to him. He looked broken and defeated, like he wouldn’t survive another moment without her. Stephen didn’t want to make the trip. He didn’t see the point. I convinced him that if we show up while Ana was going through yet another tragedy and show our support, she might allow us back into her good graces.”
“How did that change his mind and why was it important to you after all these years?” Mr. Larson probes.
“She was dating a billionaire. Wouldn’t you want to be in her good graces?” There are various murmurs and whispers around the courtroom. This was nothing I didn’t already know.
“And when you arrived?” Mr. Larson asks.
“She shunned me,” Carla says. “She wanted nothing to do with me and anyone within five feet of her did everything possible to make sure Stephen and I didn’t get near her. We finally gave up and came back to Nevada.”
“But that wouldn’t be the last time you saw her…” Carla shakes her head.
“No, I saw her again at Stephen’s funeral, then again later that year. She brought me to Seattle to talk. It didn’t go well. She gave me $100,000 and told me to get out of her life forever. That’s the last time I saw her in person.”
“You’ve done some sparring with her in the tabloids.” Carla dons a tragic smile.
“Mom of the Year, remember?” she replies.
“And now you’re here…”
“Yep,” she confirms. “Now I’m here.”
“No further questions at this time, your honor.” Mr. Larson takes his seat.
“Your witness, Mr. Drake,” the judge says, and the floor goes to the defense.
“Mrs. Morton, that’s quite the story you have there about the tumultuous relationship that you’ve had with your daughter over the past several years,” he begins.
“Isn’t it?” she replies, unmoved.
“You had nothing to say to the police at the time of the attack; no information for the hospital; you barely even spoke to your own child,” he outlines.
“I think I’ve already established those facts, counselor.” Counselor. She sounds like me… or is it I who sounds like her?
Drake basically rehashes all of the events that Carla has already narrated for the court and many people—Carla and the jury included—are just looking at him waiting for him to get to the point. He soon begins to turn the story to make it look like I was a woman—or girl—scorned and that my whole intention was to trap Cody Whitmore in the first place.
“‘Why should we believe you, Mrs. Morton? You’ve had plenty of time to come forward. Why now?’” he says, repeating the words of Mr. Larson, once he thinks he’s made his point. “Why now, indeed. Your daughter is no longer the helpless little fifteen-year-old girl she wants the court to believe that she was. She’s now a very wealthy woman out for blood because of a plot gone wrong…”
“Objection, your honor. Gross speculation!” Mr. Larson declares.
“Sustained. Counselor, do you have an actual question or are you going to narrate the story for us… again?”
“Apologies, your honor. I’m sure that the court would like to know how Mrs. Morton conveniently failed to see what was happening with her daughter all of those years and now, she suddenly has a clear recollection of every single detail of the incident in question… or at least how it relates to her.” Carla scoffs loudly.
“I didn’t conveniently not see what was going on with my daughter, counselor. I refused to see it. I ignored what was happening. I was voluntarily and selectively blinded to what was going on. If I didn’t see it or accept it as real, then it didn’t happen. You want to make it look like I’m trying to victimize myself… I’m not. I never claimed innocence in this situation. I never claimed anything at all.”
“But you claimed the money when your husband told you to bring Anastasia back to Nevada,” he accuses.
“Of course, I did,” she confirms. “We were getting half a million dollars… as far as I knew.”
“And your conscience didn’t kick in at all when you saw that the father of the same person who allegedly raped your daughter was now giving you what you thought was half a million dollars?” Carla looks at him like he’s from another planet.
“Conscience?” she said incredulously. “Are you kidding? Have you not listened to anything I’ve said, or are you being deliberately obtuse? I had no conscience. All I wanted was the money! If it meant tolerating the little troublemaker for a while, then so be it. I didn’t care about her or what she was going through. She was nothing more than a thorn in my side, a pebble in my shoe. When she disappeared from school, it was good riddance. It didn’t matter to me that the money was coming from the father of the man who may or may not have raped her. His money was green and could spend just like everyone else’s. I was finally about to buy my way into proper society!”
“And did you do that, Mrs. Morton? Buy your way into proper society, that is?” he taunts.
“No,” she says matter-of-factly. “That money slipped through our fingers faster than we could count it. Stephen drank and gambled away half of it in the first eight months.”
“Oh, yes, someone else to blame—a dead man who can’t speak up for himself.”
“You’re right,” she says, flatly. “My husband is dead, and he can’t defend himself against anything I’m saying. Neither can Franklin Whitmore, because he’s dead, too. But I’m sure that an investigation of financial records from 2001 will reveal that there was a large exchange of money from Mr. Whitmore to my husband. Make no mistake, Mr. Drake. I loved my husband very much. I still do, and the only reason I’m making this statement to you now is because he’s not here to suffer for it.”
“Aren’t you just so selfless in your sacrifice?” Drake snarls. “I suppose we are to believe that this has nothing to do with the fact that your daughter is now a billionairess and you went to Seattle a while back after that same daughter miraculously stumbled upon evidence to make Green Valley ‘pay’ for what she experienced, and returned $100,000 richer.”
“This has everything to do with both of those things,” Carla replies incredulously.
What the fuck? Is she throwing her testimony?
“Fifteen years ago, my entire family was bought for three-quarters of a million dollars—most of that money, I didn’t even see, because I didn’t know he got that much. My daughter was raped, brutalized, and terrorized, and I stood by and watched…”
“Objection, your honor. Speculation. There’s no proof or conviction that the victim was raped.” The judge actually looks at the defense like he’s lost his head. His objection is valid, but I’m sure he’s thinking the same thing I am. Everything this woman is saying and all he pulled out of that was rape? He’s really stuck on that rape, isn’t he?
“Fine!” Carla says, clearly flustered. “Remove the word rape! My daughter was victimized in the worst ways imaginable for quite a long time and my husband and I not only stood by and watched it, we perpetuated it and we profited from it. Had it not been for the love of a man who had the determination and the resources to get to the bottom of this, we wouldn’t be here. My daughter would be seeing no justice for any of this. So, yes, the fact that my daughter is a billionairess now is totally the reason why I’m here! Had they not spent the resources to dig these worms out of their holes, that cop who buried evidence…”
“Objection. Your honor, really!”
“Sustained. Mrs. Morton…”
“Call it what you want,” Carla retorts. “Label it whatever is politically correct or whatever is allowable in these proceedings. There’s evidence that was buried, that was hidden, that was never discovered or revealed, that very well may have solved this case and put the perpetrators behind bars over a decade ago. The cop in charge of the case, he’s in custody now for just that reason. State it however it’s necessary for the record, sir…
“There was an alleged cop who allegedly stumbled on a bonfire where my daughter was allegedly brutalized and left for dead after she allegedly slept with the most popular boy in school or was allegedly raped by him. The alleged cop may or may not have been allegedly protecting his little brother who allegedly may or may not have been involved in the alleged attack where my daughter was allegedly left unconscious. What do you want? It doesn’t change what happened to her. Is that enough allegeds for you or am I allegedly in contempt of court now?”
The courtroom is silent while we all wait for Drake to object to the number of “allegeds” Carla used.
“You want to make me the bad guy, you go right ahead!” Carla continues. “I am the bad guy. I was a piece of shit mother who should have protected my daughter, and I failed! She’s my only child. There are no other children. And now, I can’t even get close to her because I fucked up and I’m dealing with that.
“You want to know what that $100,000 was? It was another payoff—for me to get the hell out of her life and not return. Do you know how that feels? At the time, it was, ‘Great! I finally got some cash! I can take a few days off work.’ Twenty-four hours later, it felt like dirt—like the money was burning my soul. I went back to her apartment and tried to give the money back. I begged her to forgive me, but she was having none of it. She washed her hands of me, and I haven’t heard two words from her from that day to this unless it was in the news.
“I’ll never be able to make up for what I did to my daughter. I can spend my life paying penance and I’ll never be able to fix this. That’s my cross to bear and I’m dealing with it. You want to throw me onto the railroad tracks, fine. It’s no less than I deserve and I’m okay with that. You can’t do anything worse than I’ve already done—than I put my daughter through, so what else you got?” Drake shakes his head.
“I’m sure we’re all hearing violins for you right now, Mrs. Morton, but I bet that hundred thousand was a nice consolation prize, wasn’t it?” he says smugly.
“No… it wasn’t,” she says. “I still have that money, every cent plus interest. I haven’t spent a dime of it. It’s still sitting in the bank—a useless fucking reminder that my soul is worth nothing but a dollar, and I have nobody to blame but myself. She wouldn’t take it back when I begged her to please allow me to make amends. So, since she’s my only surviving family, when I’m dead, she’ll get it back then. And if something happens to her before I die, it goes into a trust for the grandchildren that I’ll never meet.”
For the first time since she started her testimony, her voice cracks slightly, but she recovers quickly. This is a side of my mother that I’ve never seen. This is where I get my fighting spirit. She’s determined that no matter how they tear her apart, she’s going to make her point.
“You see, Counselor, in your attempt to discredit me, you’ve missed the entire point. My credibility was shot nearly 15 years ago when I failed to protect my child. I thought I made that clear right after ‘Carla Louise Morton.’ Either I failed in that task as well or you just weren’t listening. What you see now is an irredeemable woman attempting to make right one of her many wrongs. You stand here in front of intelligent human beings, trying to condone the beating, torture, and near-murder of a 15-year-old girl and you’re talking about my credibility and my conscience?
“Let’s just say for the sake of argument that this entire ludicrous picture that you’re trying to paint is correct—that I’m a terrible, wretched human being and these people shouldn’t believe a word that I’m saying.” She turns to the jury. “Let’s operate on that assumption for a moment, shall we?” She turns back to the defense. “Now, let’s assume that the picture that you’re trying to paint of my daughter is totally and entirely true. Let’s just assume that she totally lied about being raped and she willingly had sex with that boy and set him up to father her child so that she could get some kind of payout from his family. Let’s just assume, just for the sake of making your point, that she was the whore that they tried to make her out to be—that you’re trying to make her out to be right now! Let’s just assume that you’re correct.
“At what point in time, counselor, was it ever acceptable for that 15-year-old girl to be brutalized, victimized, beaten, pissed on, spat on, violated, burned, damn-near killed, had her unborn baby ripped from her body, and left for dead? This isn’t the Spanish Inquisition, and nobody made these people judge and jury over anything! So, you tell me—you tell us all while you have our attention. Since when in this day and time does a supposed act of immorality warrant that type of punishment and death? Go ahead, counselor. I’m all ears.”
Whoa! I’m speechless. Carla is on fire. Where was this Carla when I was suffering all those years ago?
“What’s the matter, sir? Cat got your tongue? You need a moment to formulate your response? Well, go right ahead; take your time. We’ll wait.” She folds her arms and glares at him, and I almost feel a small bit of pride at the way that she’s tearing into him right now. I see that same fight that I have when someone comes at me unjustly. This must be where I get it from.
“Nothing? No snappy comebacks? No sarcastic comments? No objections or rebuttals to everything I’m saying? Yeah, I would expect that you wouldn’t have a comeback for that kind of factual assault. You want to paint me to be an untrustworthy monster, go ahead. It won’t be difficult. I’ve already done most of your work for you. You want to paint my daughter to be an unscrupulous slut, well, good luck with that. You want to paint a person who took part in beating, branding, and pissing on a young girl as the victim? Yeah, good luck with that, too. I’d like to see how that turns out. In the meantime, sir, I have to live with what I did and who I was for the rest of my life. If you successfully convince 13 people that this was nothing less than a brutal bullying and hazing ritual that went all the way to the vicious, premeditated murder of an unborn child and attempted murder of my daughter, can you do the same? I’m curious—is being heartless, insensitive, and apathetic a requirement of being a defense attorney?”
“I don’t know, Mrs. Morton. You tell me—is it a requirement of being a mother?” Touché, but it doesn’t faze Carla. Without missing a beat, she replies,
“Well, if it is, you and I have got it down to perfection.”
Drake is silent along with everyone else in the courtroom. We’re all waiting to see who’s going to speak first. Carla has set him into a perfect “check” position, and his next move is going to make or break his case. If he doesn’t have one, he should just conclude right now. If he does, it better be good.
He does… and it sucks.
“You just said something very interesting, Mrs. Morton,” he begins. “You referred to the accidental death of Anastasia’s unborn child as premeditated murder. No one—including Anastasia—knew that she was pregnant. Did you?”
Carla shakes her head, a smirk gracing her lips. If I didn’t know better, I would swear I see pity in her eyes.
“Before I answer that question, by a show of hands, is there anyone in this room that’s under any misconception that I was an inconsiderate, insensitive, idiot bitch at the time of this incident? Anybody? Anyone?” She’s waving her hand, waiting for someone to join her.
“Mrs. Morton,” the judge begins, “may I ask your purpose for that question?”
“Your honor, he seems determined to paint the picture of me as untrustworthy and not credible. I thought he, I, and this entire event did that quite nicely, but I don’t think he believes it himself.” The judge’s eyebrow hitches like he’s pondering her statement, then he remembers himself.
“Please, answer the question, Mrs. Morton,” he directs her.
“Gladly,” she turns back to the defense. “You’re trying to leave the image that Anastasia was a slut and that she deliberately got pregnant to set that boy up. To answer your question, no, I had no idea Anastasia was pregnant, but by your own description and innuendo…” She leans forward in her seat and closer to the microphone. “… Somebody knew.”
New murmurings and gasps fill the courtroom, and members of the jury look at each other in realization as my mother sits back in her seat, her arm bent at the elbow, her index finger thoughtfully on her cheek and her thumb under her chin and her other fingers resting just below her lip. The judge bangs his gavel and demands order while Carla faces off with the defense attorney.
Shut up, Skippy. She’s destroying your case.
“Mr. Drake, would you like to continue?” His Honor instructs once the courtroom has quieted.
“No further questions, your honor,” he says, clearing his throat and showing false bravado as he walks back to his seat. His client quietly tears into him the moment he sits, but he doesn’t react to Vincent’s chastisement. He just looks at his notes like nothing is happening—like his case isn’t falling apart before his eyes and the little woman on the stand didn’t just hand him his ass on a platter.
“You may step down, Mrs. Morton,” the judge says. Carla nods and makes eye-contact with no one as she rises and exits the witness stand. She shows no emotion as she walks proudly in front of the occupants of the courtroom. I don’t follow her as she walks past us and to a seat in the back of the courtroom. She’s under no misconception of how I feel about her, but today, I’m conflicted about my feelings.
“Butterfly…” Christian’s voice interrupts my inner contemplations.
“Hmm?” I respond.
“Don’t let her fool you,” he says, reading my thoughts perfectly. I shake my head.
“I’m not,” I lie. This is not the woman I spent my teenage years with. Either she just put on the Oscar performance of a lifetime, or she clearly has seen the err of her ways and she’s willing to live with the consequences of her decisions, whatever they may be.
A/N: Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/grey-continued-misadventuresseason-v/
Pictures from the trip to Las Vegas can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/grey-continued-las-vegas/
The new question and answer thread is always open for questions about the story. be sure to read it and please adhere to the rules when asking questions. You can find it on the left, second from last on the menu or you can click HERE.
There has been yet another development where if you feel the need to talk to fellow readers about personal issues, you need a sounding board, or you want to vent about something in your life, please feel free to visit the link on the left in the menu entitled “Do You Need To Talk.” No subject is taboo. I just ask that you approach the link with respect for those who have concerns as well as those who respond. You can also get to the link by clicking HERE.
You can join my mailing list on the “Contact Me” page. Just click the link and it will lead you to a form to join the list.