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 11
She doesn’t fool me one bit.
Neither of them does.
Carla is delivering a reformed, make-amends performance worthy of sainthood and Butterfly is falling for it hook, line, and sinker. Once Carla’s testimony is over, we adjourn for the day and Butterfly needs a nap. I send her back to the hotel with Chuck, telling her that I want to quickly check on one of my local interests. I don’t know if she bought it, but she doesn’t argue. I don’t want to go to Las Vegas, then go all the way to Summerlin for the stop I need to make just to have to come all the way back to Las Vegas.
The houses in the area are modest, but tidy. It’s certainly a far cry from the sprawling homes in Green Valley. Jason rings the doorbell. When there’s no answer, he knocks persistently.
“No comment. Go away,” she yells through the door.
“Open the door, Carla,” I demand. There’s silence for a moment, then I hear a chain lock and a deadbolt. She opens the door and she looks even smaller than I remember—even smaller than Butterfly. Is that possible? Her eyes rise to my face and her expression is bemused at first, right before all the color leaves her face.
“Why… Is she…?” She appears to be holding her breath and first, I just stare at her. It takes a moment for me to realize what she couldn’t ask.
“Anastasia’s fine,” I say flatly. Carla gasps in a breath, stumbling forward a bit as her knees appear to give out from underneath her. Jason’s innate sense of chivalry kicks in and he catches her as she stumbles out the door. She appears disoriented for a moment, but quickly recovers and straightens, somewhat pushing Jason away.
“I’m fine… I’m fine,” she says, the color returning to her face. If I didn’t know better, I would swear she was embarrassed. “Would you like to come inside, or do you just want to give it to me from there?”
Is this woman crazy? Does she think we’re here to pay her more money? Does she think she did us a favor by throwing herself in front of the bus?
“Give you what?” I nearly hiss, trying not to lunge at her.
“Whatever verbal or physical lashing you have for me,” she says, matter-of-factly.
“Oh, you’re very good at playing the victim,” I retort, not falling for this reformed Carla act for one second. She rolls her eyes, but not in irritation. If I had to guess, I would say that it was more in resignation.
“Okay, I see you’re going to give it to me here,” she says with no malice, shifting her weight as her shoulders fall in a gesture of defeat as she looks at me expecting. I shake my head.
“What’s your game, Carla?” I demand. “Ana’s been hurt by this shit enough. I won’t stand by and allow you to victimize her any further. So, tell me what the hell you want.” She sighs again.
“I would say, ‘nothing,’ Christian, but I already know that you won’t believe me.”
“You’re right, so what do you want?” I hiss.
“Nothing,” she says, and nothing more.
“Carla, I don’t know why you’re dragging this out. Let’s just get this done and over. How much?” She sighs and folds her arms across her body. With her head cocked to the side, she remains silent.
“Out with it, Carla. How much… or are you holding out for Anastasia?” She sighs again, and is now leaning against the door frame, still in silence. She looks at me, unblinking, unaffected. I can’t help but wonder how practiced that look is—not because I think she’s up to something right now… just because it’s so fucking perfect. I look at Jason.
“Give it to her,” I tell him. He reaches into his jacket and pulls out the check I had drafted, now in a sealed envelope. She doesn’t move to take it.
“What’s that?” she asks, her arms still folded.
“A check with a lot of zeroes on it. Take the money and don’t bother Anastasia.” She shakes her head and glares at me, now in what looks like disgust. She stands up straight, putting her hand on the door.
“Are we done?” she asks, looking at me and not Jason or the check.
“Take the money and go away, Carla,” I seethe. “You’ve had your moment of fame. There’s no way in hell I’m going to allow you to use this as an opportunity to weasel your way back into Ana’s life just so that you can hurt her again. Take the money and stay away from my wife.” She drops her gaze to the floor.
“Christian,” she says, before raising her eyes to mine. “You’re trespassing. Please, get off my porch.” With that, she closes the door quietly, and I hear the chain and the deadbolt engage.
To say that I’m stunned is an understatement. She turned down the money without even knowing how much it was. There was no fight in her—none of the arrogant little sawed-off opportunist that visited Seattle a couple of years ago and left my wife a weeping mess. I still can’t help but wonder what her angle is.
“Sir?” Jason interrupts my contemplation. “Could it be that she really doesn’t want anything?” Hell, no. This bitch is up to something.
“For her sake, I hope so, because if she does anything to hurt my wife, I’ll bury her ass right next to her husband.”
“You won’t have to,” her muffled voice says from the other side of the closed door. Jason raises his eyebrows at me. I turn and walk down the stairs and off her porch.
“Keep an eye on her while we’re here. I don’t trust her,” I tell him before we get into the car.
“How was your visit?” Butterfly asks when I get back to the hotel about an hour and a half after we left the courthouse. It looks like she fell asleep right on the sofa, still in her clothes from court. I drop my coat in a nearby chair.
“You know, don’t you?” I ask examining her expression.
“Of course, I know,” she says matter-of-factly. “Did she take the money?” I pause before I sit.
“No, she didn’t,” I say taking the seat where I put my coat. She nods.
“I had a feeling she wouldn’t,” Butterfly says, sitting up.
“Don’t be fooled, Butterfly,” I warn. “She’s up to something.”
“Maybe she is, and maybe she’s not,” she says. “If she’s not, then we’ll get done with this trial, we’ll go home, and she’ll leave us alone. If she is, taking that money wouldn’t have served her purposes. Money runs out, and if she needs more money, it would serve her better to be in my good graces. Taking that check from you would have been the opposite of productive if that’s what she’s trying to do.”
“Are you thinking about letting her into your good graces?” I ask honestly.
“I don’t know what I’m thinking,” she says, folding her arms. Oh, shit. “I do know this, though. That’s not the same woman I grew up with—either time. She’s not that good an actress. Whatever she was, whether it was the wholesome mother who loved me and put me first in her life, or it was the selfish bitch who ignored, fed on, or profited from my pain, she was that person 100%. She never half-steps—she’s all in. Neither of those people were on the stand today. Nonetheless, one flawless testimony of the absolute, pure, and unmitigated truth is not going to redeem what she put me through.
“Notwithstanding all the crap that I endured; I needed my mother. I needed her love, I needed her care, I needed her attention. I just needed her to see me, to really know me, and she didn’t. She didn’t know anything about me. She didn’t know my favorite color, my worst fears, my hearts desires… she didn’t even know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Most of all, I just wanted her to hug me… just hug me and show me that I’m still a person. Do you have any idea how it feels not to be hugged for years?”
I maintain a passive expression, but the inner me raises a brow at her as if to say, “Seriously?”
“I’m sorry,” she says immediately. “That was selfish of me.” She sighs heavily. “Life is gonna be hell for her now in Green Valley.”
“She doesn’t live in Green Valley anymore,” I say. Butterfly’s brow furrows.
“She doesn’t?” she asks. I shake my head.
“She lives in Summerlin now,” I inform her. “It’s an affluent neighborhood—not as affluent as Green Valley, but affluent.”
“Did she sell the house in Green Valley?” Butterfly asks.
“Most likely. She’s working as a CNA. The property taxes alone on that place was probably more than she made in a year.” Butterfly thinks for a moment.
“Summerlin,” she says. “That’s west, right?” I nod.
“Yes,” I reply, “very west.”
“Doesn’t she work in Boulder City? Or is she working somewhere else now?” she asks.
“You’re assuming I know,” I say, testing her knowledge.
“I know you know,” she replies, expecting. I raise my brow at her.
“Yes, and yes,” I reply. “Yes, she’s working somewhere else and yes, it’s still in Boulder City. She was at a nursing home before. Now, she’s at a rehab and hospice facility.” Her brow furrows again.
“Jesus, they have those together?” she asks. I nod.
“Apparently,” I reply.
“So, either you walk out of there or your carried out,” she mumbles. “I don’t remember this place much, but it’s a bit of a stretch from Summerlin to Boulder City, isn’t it? If I remember right, Summerlin is like northwest Vegas, and Boulder City is southeast on the other side of Henderson. Did I get that right?”
“Yeah, you’ve got that right,” I say. “It’s about the distance between Seattle and Tacoma,” I tell her.
“What the hell did she do that for?” Butterfly asks.
“She probably wanted to get as far away from Green Valley as possible,” I reply.
“There are other places that she could have moved to on the other side of Henderson. All she had to do was cross the freeway—it’s like a whole other world, but without knowing her motives, it’s a moot point.” Butterfly falls silent for a moment, and I’m pondering my approach, but I’m halted by her next words.
“Don’t lie to me again,” she accuses. I freeze and consider my response.
“I didn’t lie to you, Anastasia,” I correct her. “Carla is local, and she is totally and completely in the very center of my interest right now.”
“Yes, but you know as well as I do that you made it appear that you were going to check out a business interest. I knew the moment we left the courtroom that you were going to see Carla. So, label it whatever deception you want, just don’t do it again.”
Busted. She’s right.
“I’m sorry,” I say, with no additional retort. “The last thing you need from me is dishonesty, especially now.”
“Very true,” she replies, running her hands across her forehead once, then resting her chin on her palms. I stand and walk over to her, waiting for permission to sit next to her. When she doesn’t protest, I sit and put my arm around her.
“Your favorite color is blue,” I begin, and she looks over to me. “Your worst fears have to do with this place—that these monsters would come for you, or that they would raise children that would turn out like them and then exist in a world with your children.
“Your heart’s desires when you were young were to travel to exotic places one day and to see the world. When you got older, they changed. You wanted to help people. You wanted to make sure they didn’t go through the same thing that you went through and if they did, you wanted to make sure that they knew that they weren’t alone… that someone cared, and someone was there to help them.
“You didn’t know what you wanted to be when you grew up. You didn’t find that out until later when your guidance counselor suggested psychiatry, and you saw that that would be the way to realize your second heart’s desire.
“I can’t take the place that she should’ve filled, but I can love you with everything, and I can show you that you are more than a person—that you are life to at least three people and very likely more than that. And even though I do know how it feels not to be hugged for years, I can’t imagine being deprived of that feeling now… especially from you. You have the opportunity to give that love that you didn’t get in your teenage years to two beautiful little humans, to nurture two little lives and turn them into great people, and you’re off to a damn good start.”
She stares at me for a moment with those guileless blue eyes before crawling to her knees and planting a warm, deep kiss on my lips. I wrap my arms around her and feel her pushing me backwards, so I lie down on the sofa, taking her with me and allow her to do what she wants with me.
“What did she do last night?” I ask Jason over coffee in the morning, curious about Carla’s activities.
“According to surveillance, she sat on her back deck all night and cried. She went inside a few times to refresh a warm drink, but she sat on her patio for the entire night.” I twist my lips. It’s going to take a lot more sad nights to match the tears you’ve ripped from my Butterfly, you worthless cunt.
“I had two more guys fly in this morning,” Jason says, “to replace the guys that watched Morton last night. They’ll rotate for twelve hour shifts so that everyone is sharp.”
“Good man,” I say finishing my coffee. “Let’s round everyone up and get to the courthouse.
Our entourage is getting better. We’ve learned how to pace ourselves to keep up with Butterfly as she’s sprinting up the stairs to the courthouse. The press no longer tries to get pictures of her. They’re lucky if they can even get a video of her.
She seems a bit more amiable when she enters the courtroom today. We take our seats and the regular pomp and circumstance ensues while the defendant, judge and jury arrive. Then the prosecution calls its next witness.
As it turns out, there were other officers that asked questions about the case in the beginning, but all trails ran cold since George Sullivan was the lead officer on the case. So, even though the other officers testified about working the case, none of them ever had any concrete evidence or leads to follow. I often wondered how George Sullivan was able to bury everything so thoroughly, or if he had a partner at the time. How was it possible that even other officers couldn’t find any evidence? Hell, I didn’t even know that there were other officers involved. Even Sullivan himself said that he was the only officer on the case, but that’s probably because there was no one else assigned to the case and no one else had any evidence. I guess it’s pretty easy to bury a case when there’s an entire community involved in the cover-up.
As Sullivan is claiming diminished capacity, he had to be examined by the state’s psychiatrist as well as his own. It’s not to establish that he was crazy at the time of the attack, but that he felt that he was in imminent danger or fear of his life when the incident occurred.
While the state’s psychiatrist doesn’t dismiss that Sullivan was afraid of some type of retaliation, he doesn’t appear to have been afraid for his life. It was more likely that he was trying to fit in, which he admitted to in relation to his participation in unrelated events.
After lunch, court is back in session and…
“The state calls Amber Whitmore to the stand.”
Butterfly’s eyebrow rises, but she shows no other emotion. No doubt she, like many other onlookers, would wonder why the state is calling Amber Whitmore to the stand before Madison Perry or why she’s been called to the stand at all. A while back, when I knew we would be going to trial, I let Larson I was aware that she knew something about the attack and that’s why she left. I told him about the conversation that we had when I talked to her a couple of years ago and she responded to tell her brother and father that their secret was “safe” with her and to leave her alone. I told him to do what he wanted with the information. Apparently, he subpoenaed her.
“Permission to treat this witness as hostile,” Mr. Larson asks.
“Granted,” the judge says.
“That won’t be necessary,” Amber says matter-of-factly. “You’ve got me here now; I’ll tell you what I know.”
“That’s good to know, Ms. Whitmore,” Mr. Larson says, and Amber nods once. “Why are you here today?”
“Because you served me with a subpoena,” she replies.
“You’re not here to share what you know about this case?” he asks.
“At the risk of sounding callous, Mr. Larson, I could have gone my entire life hearing nothing else about this case or this place. I’ll tell you what I know because you’ve threatened me with contempt of court if I don’t. So, let’s get on with this so I can go home.” She folds her arms.
“Very well, then. How was your relationship with your father and your brothers?”
“My relationship with Landon was just fine. With Cody and my father, it was strained at best,” she replies.
“Who is Landon?” Mr. Larson asks.
“My oldest brother,” she replies. “He was rarely home throughout his senior year.”
“And why do you say that your relationship with Cody and Franklin Whitmore was strained?”
“Cody was an entitled jerk,” Amber reveals, “and he was my father’s favorite child.”
“Objection, your honor, speculation,” Drake interjects.
“The witness is only explaining the relationship as she saw it,” Mr. Larson retorts.
“Then she must make it clear that she’s stating opinion and not declarations of fact,” the judge says. “Sustained. Continue.” Mr. Larson rolls his eye.
“Ms. Whitmore, why did you say that Cody was your father’s favorite child?”
“Because from what I could see, Cody could do no wrong. Cody was caught out after curfew and brought home by the police more times than I could count. Anybody else caught out that many times would have been taken in for repeated violations, but not Cody. I don’t know what happened with the arrest records or the tickets that he was supposed to get, but the next thing I knew, he got that Jeep. No more arrests, because he was in a car instead of out loitering somewhere with his friends.
“What did that say to me? Get caught out after curfew, get a car—but only Cody, because the first time I got caught out after curfew, I was grounded for a month.”
“I see,” Mr. Larson says. “Is there anything else that made you feel like Cody was the favorite?”
“Too much to name—what do you want to know?” Amber asks.
“Let’s talk about the day you knew anything about Anastasia Steele,” Mr. Larson says. Amber scoffs.
“Well,” Amber begins. “Let’s see. I’ll have to start that with Carly Madison…”
“I’m only talking about their relationship I’m not accusing her of anything I can’t even mention her name?” Amber blurts out all in one breath.
“Counselor,” the judge says, “give the witness an opportunity to respond before you object to it.”
Chastised, Drake takes his seat.
“Continue, Ms. Whitmore,” Mr. Larson says. Amber rolls her eyes.
“If I were to speculate,” she begins, throwing a glare at Drake, “I would say that Carly was at our house more than she was at home. Sometimes, she would just be hanging out at our house just waiting for Cody to get home, and my mother and father let her do it. If Cody was considered entitled, Carly was much worse. There were even times that my mom would call her parents to tell them that Carly was spending the night. I don’t even know what the context was. How do you possibly get away with spending the night at your boyfriend’s house at least twice a week when you’re 15 or 16?
“What’s more, she slept in his room! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know what was going on, but apparently, her parents—and mine—were okay with this kind of behavior.”
“What does that have to do with Anastasia Steele?” Mr. Larson asks.
“When Anastasia and her father showed up accusing him of raping her, that was the first time I had any idea who she was and even I thought it was a bunch of bull. Girls all over the school were drooling all over him, and he had ready and willing pus… coochie delivered right to his doorstep. Why would he need to go and rape some girl?”
“Did something happen to change your mind?” Mr. Larson asks.
“A whole lot happened,” she says. “I remember one night a bunch of kids showed up at our house. I thought they were going to some kind of party because they were all wearing dark clothes. Carly laughed when she saw me, thinking I wanted to tag along—which I didn’t. My brother told me that it was way out of my league anyway. I recognized the flunkies that usually hung around my brother and his girlfriend, but Vincent stood out to me that night.”
Vincent Sullivan raises his gaze to her, looking at someone else in the courtroom for only the second time—the first one being his brother. Drake is at the ready with his objection, I’m sure.
“Why?” Mr. Larson asks.
“Because it was unusual,” she says. “He never hung out with this crowd that I knew of, and I would have known… because I liked him.”
“You liked him how?”
“He’s very attractive,” she replies, “and for a while, I thought he was gay, but I found out that he wasn’t. He had a girlfriend. That made him off limits, but I still liked him, and I could pick him out of a crowd. I started having second thoughts that night because if he was one of the people who hung around my brother…” She trails off.
“You didn’t like your brother’s friends?” Mr. Larson asks. Amber shrugs.
“It wasn’t that I didn’t like his friends. I didn’t want to be around anybody who hung around my brother. It’s like I told you, my brother was a jerk. I don’t know if he’s still a jerk because I haven’t talked to him in several years, but he was a real jerk then. You know what they say—birds of a feather flock together, and I had no desire to be in that flock.
“When Cody got home that night, he was wearing a cape over his clothes, and he smelled like he had gone camping. My brother never went camping a day in his life. The next day, it was all over the news about the girl that was found beaten and burned damn near dead, and that Monday, it was all over the school. A little while later, we found out that it was Anastasia Steele and I never put the two together until…” She trails off again.
“Until what?” Mr. Larson presses.
“Summer sucked,” she says after a short pause. “Landon and Cody could come and go as they pleased, but I spent the entire summer on lockdown because of what happened to ‘that Steele girl.’” She uses the finger quotes to illustrate that I was a topic of conversation related to her shut-in. “As a result, I was home when the money transaction took place.”
“What money transaction?” he asks.
“My father handed $750,000 to Anastasia’s father to ‘keep her quiet.’ About what, I never really found out, but I had my suspicions. It was either about the ‘supposed rape’ that I thought was impossible, or it was about the attack. We had heard nothing else about the supposed rape that I knew of and it had happened months before. She had bigger fish to fry with the attack. So, I assumed that it had something to do with the attack.”
“Why didn’t you say anything before?” Larson asks.
“Because I was afraid,” she admits. “I was afraid of my father, but he’s dead now. So, I can tell what I know. I couldn’t wait to get out of Green Valley—to run away from a truth I couldn’t tell. My father wouldn’t pay for my college, so I just left. I got a job and paid my own way through school. I moved to New York, got married, started my own business, and never looked back. None of them attended my wedding when I got married, and I didn’t attend his funeral when he died. I had no intention of ever coming back to Nevada until I got the subpoena and threatened with jail time if I refused.
“I moved away, and I was just glad to be away from it, but it was like it never happened. Nothing happened, nobody said anything—not even Anastasia—I was wondering if the entire thing was in my imagination. Not even the cops said anything. How could the cops not say anything? This was a horrible beating of a young girl in a small upscale part of Las Vegas, and nobody said anything, not even the police. At the time, the only thing that assured me that it wasn’t in my imagination was that the whole town was running scared because nobody knew what happened—or at least, nobody said so. We had crazy curfews. We had to travel in packs, like wolves. The entire thing was surreal.
“When I heard what happened to the girl, I thought her family would go nuts—demanding answers and seeking justice… but nothing… not a peep. There’s no amount of money that you could pay me to be silent if somebody did to my kid what they did to her.
“But you did have a price, Ms. Whitmore. What was it?” Mr. Larson asks.
“He threatened me to shut the hell up, so I did. I paid it, and now I’m speaking. My father was a cold, wicked, heartless man, and I don’t doubt for one second that he was aware of my brother’s involvement before the incident occurred. Or maybe he wasn’t, but he knew that Cody was going to do something. That’s just how they were. The amount of money that exchanged hands that night… I already knew they had paid for that girl’s silence. Now, I know why.”
“No further questions.”
“Your witness, Mr. Drake,” the judge says.
“Ms. Whitmore, weren’t you always jealous of your brother?” Drake asks.
“Yes, I was. I was jealous that he was the apple of Daddy’s eye and that he could never do anything wrong, but more so, I was jealous because my father never abused, mistreated, or ignored him. He saved that for me.”
“Well, if you were jealous of your brother and you have that much contempt for him, why should we believe you today? Isn’t this just another way for you to get back at him for how you felt about him all these years?” Drake continues. Amber laughs.
“That’s brilliant the way you brushed right over that part where I was abused, mistreated, and ignored so that you could focus on the fact that I was jealous, but that’s okay. I really don’t care if you believe me or not. I came to tell my story and I did. Now if you let that little weasel go—you let that little criminal walk—that’s on you, not me.”
“Objection, your honor. Cody Whitmore is not on trial here.”
“You’re assuming that I’m talking about my brother,” she says. “I’m talking about anybody that had anything to do with this event—my father, my brother, my mother, any of the people who beat her, the people who watched, the cop who ‘investigated’ the crime, the prosecutors who didn’t dive deeper and demand more evidence and investigation, the parents who were willfully blind to the possibility that their children could have something to do with this: ‘Not my little Johnny, no…’” she says in a mocking voice.
“… Her parents for not being proactive and trying to seek justice on her behalf; the community for not demanding answers to what happened to this little girl in their neighborhood on their watch… Everybody failed her! Everybody’s a criminal as far as I’m concerned. That’s why I don’t live here anymore!” Amber is passionate with her response.
“Since you’re feeling like the neighborhood and everyone else had such a civic duty, why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you say anything?” Drake accuses.
“To whom?” she asks animated, raising her hands to the defense attorney. “To the ‘investigating’ officer? To some other police officer? To my parents who—as far as I knew—were in on the whole cover-up? Everything I had was hearsay. Who was going to corroborate it—the people who were busy sweeping that shit under the rug?”
“Ms. Whitmore…” the judge warns.
“My mom knew,” she continues, gesturing across the courtroom to a woman about Carla’s age with dark hair, staring at Amber. “I’m sure that my father didn’t let her in on everything, but she heard things just like I did. She knew and she covered it up, too. What was I supposed to do, go to her? I sure as hell couldn’t go to my father!”
“But even as an adult, you didn’t do or say anything. You just left…”
“You’re damn straight I left!” she confirms. “An entire community cover-up and now the kids that did this to a 15-year-old girl are all adults and I’m going to stick around? Hell, no! Lil ole me and my single voice crying out for justice in a sea of piranhas? Who was going to protect me… you?” He pauses for a moment before asking his next question.
“Maybe everyone else in the community was as scared as you to come forward, feeling like something would happen to them, too.” Amber purses her lips and shakes her head.
“Maybe you’re right, but everybody’s hands weren’t tied, sir,” she says finitely. “I was in a bad situation because my family was right in the middle of it, and I was afraid of my father, but no matter how you try to paint that picture, everybody’s hands weren’t tied, and you know that. That’s why we’re here now.”
Drake glares at her, no doubt trying to discredit her testimony, but throws in the towel once he realizes that his crusade is futile.
“No more questions, but I do have an objection, your honor.”
“And that is?” the judge asks.
“I fail to see what this witness’s testimony has to do with this particular case,” he says.
“Mr. Larson?” the judge asks.
“It places the defendant in Mr. Whitmore’s company, very possibly on the date of the attack hours before it occurred—which lends to the level of premeditation and intent as well as to the degree that the defendant also benefited from the alleged cover-up.”
The courtroom is quiet as the explanation sinks in. I was wondering what good Amber’s testimony was going to do myself… until now.
“Do you have any objection to that reasoning, Mr. Drake?” the judge asks.
“No, your honor,” he replies.
“Based on that information, do you have any further questions for this witness?”
“No, your honor.”
“Mr. Larson is this witness excused?” the judge asks.
“Yes, your honor,” he says.
Upon getting official confirmation from the judge that she is excused, Amber Whitmore bolts from the stand and out of the courtroom. No doubt, she’s got her luggage in a rental in the parking lot and is headed straight to the airport. I would if I were her.
There are a couple more testimonies from miscellaneous witnesses, including the dispatcher that took the call from Sullivan and the owners of the property where Butterfly was beaten… Carly Madison Perry’s parents. The state couldn’t charge them with anything because the property had public access and without George Sullivan’s cooperation on the evidence found there, the Madisons couldn’t be charged with anything. Additionally, they didn’t find out until much later that the incident occurred on their property.
Butterfly isn’t so worn out this time when we get back to the hotel, but I hate it that she feels this place is such a prison.
“So, I have an idea,” I say, taking her hand when we get back to the suite. “The days are going to be awful, we know that, but we’ve got to do everything we can to make it through however long we have to stay in this place. So, let’s make the evenings and nights as fun and relaxing as we can.” She scoffs a bit.
“I don’t know how fun we can make this place, Christian,” she says. “I mean, I realize that it’s Vegas and all, but it’s just hell to me.”
“Can I ask you a question?” I say. She shrugs and nods. “Besides the trial, has it really been hell here?”
“You mean besides the Paparazzi and the Twitterpated bitch?” she asks.
“In all honesty, baby, that could happen anywhere,” I remind her. She shrugs.
“So… if you had a bad day back at home, where would you want to go?” She sighs.
“Does this place have a treadmill?”
Honestly, that’s all I wanted last night—to exhaust myself on some kind of workout machine. I would have preferred a heavy bag, but that wasn’t an option. So, the treadmill it was. I couldn’t quite recall the workout that I was doing on our six-week-weekend after I had the twins, or I would have done that, but I’m sure I ran a marathon on the treadmill before I showered and quickly talked to my babies before I passed out in bed without dinner.
Knowing that I went to sleep last night with my hair wet—which is an absolute no-no—my inner alarm wakes me to flat iron it with steam. While I’m sitting there toiling with my hair, I’m watching some morning show on television… more like listening to it. Some show called LV CawfieTyme is playing in the background as I straighten my hair. Two female hosts are talking about local news.
There’s a kind of funny story about a guy who just moved into a Las Vegas valley home and decided to test and see if there are thieves in his area. His surveillance camera captured footage of a guy stealing a package off his porch. He shared the footage with the morning show in hopes that someone might recognize him, but only to expose the guy for being a thief. There’s no need to apprehend the guy or the package as the box is filled with dog poop.
The Clarion Hotel and Casino is going to be demolished next week. There’s a detailed diatribe about when it opened and how many people owned it. Apparently, it’s a big thing when one of the casinos is demolished, I suppose.
“Everybody knows, though, that the hottest topic is that Green Valley assault case,” one of the hosts says. I try not to drop my damn flat iron since I know they’re talking about my case, unless there’s another Green Valley assault case in progress right now.
“Yeah,” the other host says. “As I’m told, a Seattle socialite has come back to Vegas seeking ‘justice’ on a group of kids who jumped her 15 years ago.” This bitch actually did the finger quotes around the word “justice.” I have to stop straightening my hair and put the flatiron down before I burn myself.
“What’s with the finger quotes?” the first host—a blonde—asks. “If somebody beat the snot outta you, wouldn’t you want justice, too?”
“There are fights in high school every day,” the second host—a redhead—replies. “I just think this one’s been sensationalized a bit.” The blonde’s eyes widen, and she clasps her hands together.
“How so?” she asks the redhead.
“Well, this happened in 2001—14 years ago. It got a lot of press for a minute, because nobody really knows what happened, but then it died. Then, two years ago, she marries a billionaire and suddenly, it’s front page news again. That’s 2013. What happened for 12 years that it wasn’t so important, and now it is?
“I completely think it’s sensationalized,” the redhead continues. “She’s staying at the Waldorf right now with something like 50 people and she had some woman thrown out because she tried to say, ‘Hi.’ Careful, Vegas. If you bring her an espresso with too little froth or her caviar is room temperature, she might have your restaurant closed down.”
That’s not what the fuck happened, and I should call that station and expose that bitch for slander, but I’m sure it would only make matters worse.
“Um, Peggy, I’m not one to dispute you, but I really want to avoid a lawsuit here,” the blonde retorts before looking down at some papers on the table in front of her. “First of all, the Seattle ‘socialite’ is Dr. Anastasia Steele-Grey, business-woman and psychiatrist…”
“There’s a combination,” Peggy comments sarcastically. The blonde raises her eyes from her papers for a moment.
“Yes, it is, isn’t it? And impressive at that,” she says before looking back down at her papers. “Although all of the members of her party have not been identified, who has been identified are her husband, her father, and her personal assistant, and the party numbers 16, not 50…”
“Let me finish, Peggy, and then you can have your comments,” the blonde says. I still haven’t gotten her name yet.
“Well! Excuse me! I thought we were hosting a morning talk show!” Peggy retorts.
“We are, and I’m talking. You’ve given your opinion and what you think are the facts and I didn’t interrupt you. Show me the same courtesy while I give the facts that I’ve found.”
There’s silence for about five seconds before the blonde continues.
“As I said, her party numbers 16, which includes friends, family members, and various members of her security. Concerning the woman who was thrown out of the Waldorf, you’re correct that she tried to speak to Anastasia Grey, but that’s not why she was thrown out of the hotel. The woman who we’ll just refer to by her Twitter handle—Sassyvelmalou—tweeted a derogatory statement about Anastasia complete with a picture because Anastasia’s security asked Velma not to bother her…”
And there’s that picture of me again looking like hell warmed over sitting in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria while the host is still talking.
“Now, the Waldorf has guaranteed Anastasia’s privacy during her stay for the duration of this ordeal and this woman violated that policy. What’s more, I’ve since learned that Anastasia wasn’t feeling well, which is why her security asked this stranger to step back. The Waldorf has since issued a statement to that exact fact, so I just don’t want to see the show get sued because you may have gotten your facts mixed up.”
Peggy tries to interject, but the blonde holds up a finger to indicate that she’s not finished.
“According to the information I was able to ascertain from public records, Anastasia Grey—then Anastasia Steele—was attacked and brutalized by a mob of teenagers, both male and female, badly burned, and left unconscious and naked in a field. The beating left her comatose and she lost her baby.” She lays the paper on the table and continues to speak as various members of the audience gasp.
“Now, whatever you may think of her, that was brutal and unnecessary. Where I come from, ‘getting jumped’ means three or four girls are angry with you, so they fight you after school. And then somebody gets suspended, may get expelled, and if it was really bad, somebody might be arrested. In all my years on earth, I have never seen anyone get beaten, tormented, and left for dead, and that’s considered getting ‘jumped.’ I’ve reported on supposed gang initiations that were less brutal.
“What was done to that poor girl was vicious, evil, and criminal, and anyone who thinks it was less than that needs their head examined. Oh, and by the way, if I didn’t have the resources to go after the people who wronged me and killed my baby at the age of 15, but after 12 years, I did, I’d go after them, too.”
The studio audience applauds once she’s finished with her information and Peggy sits there looking a bit sheepish.
“I’m not saying that what happened to her wasn’t horrible,” Peggy back-peddles once the applause dies down. “I was just pointing out that as horrible as it may be, it wasn’t pursued until she became a billionaire.”
“Well, there’s an explanation for that, too,” the blonde says. “But I won’t debate it on air. You may want to Google the name George Sullivan.” She clasps her hands over her papers. “You went to Green Valley High, didn’t you Peggy?”
Peggy suddenly falls silent while the first host awaits her answer. Getting none, the blonde continues.
“It was right around the same time Anastasia Steele was there, wasn’t it?” the blonde presses. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you say that you were the class of ’03?” There’s more silence before Peggy responds.
“I don’t know anything about that beating,” Peggy says coolly. Oh, now it’s a beating! “I didn’t hang out with any of those people. My family had just moved to Green Valley the year that happened.”
“I wasn’t insinuating that you knew anything,” the blonde says, matter-of-factly. “I was just wondering what the social environment was like during that time. You see from most of the on-the-street interviews that we’ve done, most people thought it was just urban legend, and now we discover that it’s true. A police cover-up, a girl beaten nearly to death, an entire community and no one has a clue what happened… what was it like being on the inside of that community?”
Peggy throws a hateful glare at her co-host and narrows her eyes. If she doesn’t have anything to hide, why is she so defensive? She was so verbal a moment ago about the temperature of my fucking caviar, and now she’s all mum and I don’t know anything about that beating. She probably knows something. I couldn’t pick her out of a crowd, but she probably knows something, if only by hearsay.
“All I know is that we had strict curfews and our parents wouldn’t let us out after a certain time for months. That entire situation totally ruined my entire school year,” she says haughtily.
“Hmm, is that right?” the blonde says. “I can’t even imagine what it did to Anastasia Steele’s school year.”
The silence in that studio could be heard in space.
“We’ll be back after these messages,” the blonde says before the screen fades to black.
Peggy… her name doesn’t ring a bell, her face isn’t familiar, and I really don’t give a fuck who she is right now. If she’s involved at all, somebody will roll on her ass in hopes of a lighter sentence. She was probably just another one of those entitled cunts at that school who felt like I got what I deserved, or she just didn’t care.
I turn the television to a jazz music station and finish straightening my hair.
Every day, I’m becoming more and more weary of the dance that occurs as we’re trying to get up these stairs. Today, I nearly pass Jason in my mad dash to the front door. I’m on the morning news shows. They’re using whatever pictures they can find of me. Who cares what they get today?
It’s Thursday, and I’m told the prosecution is calling its last witness today, which is most likely Carly Madison Perry. That’s going to be four days—or three and a half—of nothing but prosecution testimony. Is the defense going to be just as long?
As usual, we take our seats and, Vincent Sullivan is led in, then the judge and the jury and once the movement has stopped, the prosecution calls their final witness.
“The state calls Cody Whitmore to the stand.”
What? What the fuck? What?
Whitshit is escorted into the courtroom in a suit and tie—and shackles!
It does my heart good to see him ushered in like the common criminal that he is, taking the small steps that the shackles allow with the clanging of the chains announcing his arrival.
But why is he here? I thought Carly was testifying against everyone.
He quickly scans the room and does a double take. His eyes dart around to several locations and his face immediately blanches pale. He stops in his tracks as he looks around the room and his two uniformed escorts have to urge him forward to the stand. When he takes his seat, he immediately locks his gaze with mine and his eyes narrow. I glare right back at him.
How’s that tooth, Whitshit?
“State your name for the record,” he’s told once he’s sworn in.
“Cody Elvin Whitmore,” he says stoically.
“Son of a bitch,” Christian whispers. When I look over at him, he’s glaring at Whitshit. I elbow him to let me in on the secret. He leans over.
“He got a deal, too,” he whispers. “He had to if he’s here.” I look back at Whitshit and I can feel my blood beginning to boil.
Son of a bitch. This is what he meant when he said, “Expect anything.”
“Cody, do you remember the events of the afternoon and evening of March 10, 2001?”
“Vividly,” he responds.
“You went to school that day like any other day, correct?”
“Yep,” Whitshit says.
“And tell the court what happened after school.”
“We were going to do a BB that night…”
“What’s a BB?” Mr. Larson asks. Cody turns to me and smiles.
“A bitch branding,” he says, coolly. I feel a chill as I look into his dark eyes. I remember seeing them that night, through the hood and mask, just like I saw hers. They looked right at me, stared into my terrified eyes, laughed at my tears, and tormented me. And now, he’s sitting in the witness stand, jeering at me and taunting me as he tells the story.
I open my mouth and tap my front tooth, the one of his that I know I knocked out and raise my brow at him. That smug smirk falls from his face.
“And how did you know what a bitch branding was, Cody?” Mr. Larson asks.
“I’d heard about them,” he answers.
“Heard about them?” Mr. Larson asks. “From whom?”
“Objection, your honor. Relevance?” The defense pipes in.
“Sustained,” the judge says. “Get to the point, counselor.”
“I’m only trying to establish if this was a regular occurrence in the community, your honor.”
“Careful, Mr. Larson,” the judge says and Mr. Larson nods before turning back to my rapist.
“Cody…” Mr. Larson begins.
“Mr. Whitmore,” Whitshit corrects him.
“Mr. Whitmore,” Mr. Larson says sarcastically, “You said that you heard about the bitch brandings—how did you hear about them?” Whitshit smiles and looks at me again.
“People talk,” he says. “You just hear it… around.”
“I see. Had you ever been to a bitch branding before this?” Mr. Larson presses.
“Objection! Your Honor, really?” the defense protests.
“Mr. Larson, you’ve been warned,” the judge cautions.
“I didn’t ask if he had ever participated in one. I asked if he had attended one. His presence today already confirms that he participated in one!” Mr. Larson turns an angry glare to Whitshit’s defense attorney.
“You’re treading thin ice, counselor.” Good grief, how many warnings does this guy need? Is he trying to throw the damn case? He better fucking not, or I swear I’ll lose all morals I’ve ever had and hunt him down like a damn dog! He turns back to Whitshit.
“I refuse to answer to prevent self-incrimination,” Whitshit responds with a smile, and the courtroom erupts in murmurs. Sonofabitch! Is this asshole saying that he’s done this shit before? Was it here in Green Valley? Who else is walking around with fucking brands? What the fuck?
“Order!” The judge says as he bangs his gavel. “Order in the court or I’ll have the room cleared.” The courtroom silences after a few moments.
“Does that answer your questions, counselor?” Whitshit says with a smirk.
“Yes, it does,” Mr. Larson says. “And some. Thank you.” Whitshit’s smirk falls again.
“I didn’t give you anything,” he says cockily. “You and I both know that.” Mr. Larson cocks his head at Whitshit.
“Mr. Whitmore…” Mr. Larson says his name in that sing-songy way that Mr. Smith says Mr. Anderson in The Matrix, and it makes your skin crawl. I’m sure that Whitshit now wishes he had just let the man call him Cody. “Have you ever heard the term ‘pattern of behavior?’” Whitshit shrugs.
“Why should that mean anything to me?” he says clasping his hands.
“Because you just confirmed one,” Mr. Larson says. Whitshit scoffs.
“How?” he retorts. Mr. Larson turns to the judge.
“He asked,” the judge says, gesturing for Mr. Larson to continue. He turns back to Whitshit.
“You pled your right to silence to prevent self-incrimination when directly asked about bitch brandings. You just implied in a room full of people, including the jury, that you may have…” He turns to the jury and opens his hands in a shrugging manner.
“… Or may not have…” He turns back to Whitshit, “… taken part in a prior bitch branding, a brutal act that now has a name, like hazing. I don’t know how many people in this room have ever heard of that term. I know that in all my years as attorney general, I haven’t. It even has a clever little abbreviation…” He turns to the jury again. “BB,” he says to the jury before turning back to Whitshit.
“So, now, we see that a group of teenagers possibly premeditated an attack on an innocent young girl using an abbreviation that many if not all of you knew. And you just pled the fifth against self-incrimination. Pattern of behavior, Mr. Whitmore,” Mr. Larson finishes. Whitshit turns red with fury.
“I don’t want to testify anymore!” he barks.
“That’s fine,” Mr. Larson says. “You can go back to your cell, but you’ll be forfeiting your plea deal and you’ll have to stand trial. Bailiffs?” Mr. Larson heads back to the table. As the bailiffs move toward Whitshit, he rolls his eyes and sighs.
“Fine! What do you want to know?” he hisses, causing the bailiffs to halt their approach.
“First, I want you to remember that you’re under oath,” Mr. Larson warns, “and just like we found this dirty little secret, I won’t stop until we find every little thing you choose to lie about. Do we understand one another?”
“Objection, your honor, he’s intimidating the witness!”
“Mr. Larson,” the judge warns.
“I’m simply informing him that I will do my job to the best of my abilities should this office discover that he has perjured himself. Do we not warn every witness who sits on this stand against perjury?” he asks. The judge sighs.
“He’s right, Mr. Drake,” the judge cedes, “but get on with it. The witness is already incarcerated for his role in this matter. Can we please get to this case?” Mr. Larson nods.
“You said that you were talking to a group of friends about doing a BB that night,” Mr. Larson says. “What happened next?” Whitshit purses his lips.
“They asked who the candidate was and why,” he says. “I told them it was some little bitch who lied on me about raping her.”
“And who was the candidate?” Mr. Larson asks.
“You mean the bitch?” Whitmore says, stressing the word so hard that it appears to hurt to say it. “Anastasia Steele.”
“Let the record show that Anastasia Steele is now Dr. Anastasia Steele-Grey,” Mr. Larson says, and Whitshit scoffs. I shake my head almost infinitesimally.
I’m a doctor. Despite everything that happened, I’m a doctor. When they picked your ass up, when I knocked your tooth out in my husband’s building, you were still nobody. You didn’t even take advantage of your daddy’s name and the family business, crooked though it may have been. You were nothing and you’re less than nothing now, and you have the nerve to sit on the stand like you’re still running shit?
It’s at that moment that I realize just how small he really is. I mean I knew that he was a small man, but I think this is the smallest I’ve ever seen him—that I’ve ever seen anyone. And this is the man who raped me, who helped to orchestrate one of the most horrific events of my entire life and not only am I much, much more than he is all on my own, but also if he wasn’t in those shackles, I could beat him within an inch of his life.
He’s nothing… absolutely nothing, and it took me this long to see it.
I cock my head and look at him like a strange animal. When I was fifteen, he was Satan. He was all powerful and I just wanted to get away from him and this place. Look at me now and look at him. His life is ruined… totally ruined.
I involuntarily scoff a laugh and the room falls silent with many people looking over at me. I clear my throat and pretend to cough.
“I’m sorry,” I say just below a whisper, covering my mouth to conceal my inner smile that has burst through to my lips. I realize when I refocus that I’ve missed some of the testimony.
“Carly couldn’t wait to get her hands on her,” Whitshit says. “All she wanted was for her to shut the hell up.”
Shut the hell up about what? I wasn’t talking to anybody! Nobody would even listen.
“So, you told your girlfriend that you and Ms. Steele had sex, and your girlfriend forgave you, but wanted revenge against Ms. Steele?”
“Looks that way,” Whitshit says.
“Why?” Mr. Larson asks.
“Objection,” Drake says. “The witness can’t testify to what someone else was thinking.”
“Sustained,” the judge says.
“I’m sorry, I’m just trying to figure out the logic here. You were the one who owed Carly Madison loyalty at the time, not Anastasia Steele. If it were true that, as you and the defense would like for us to believe, Anastasia Steele slept with you willingly, it totally escapes me why any woman—even a teenager—would want to beat and torture the girl who slept with her loser boyfriend but completely forgive her loser boyfriend for cheating on her!”
“Objection! Your honor!” Drake nearly yells.
“What?” Mr. Larson says in actual surprise. “I’m just making an observation.”
“You’re stating an opinion, counselor. Get on with the questioning,” the judge says. I feel a chill go down my spine.
“First of all,” Whitshit says, leaning forward in his seat, “Carly was crazy, and crazy in love with me. The combination turned out to be toxic. That’s why I dumped the bitch…”
“At the altar, I’m told,” Mr. Larson says.
“No better place to drive my point home,” Whitshit says proudly. “And second, it was true.”
“What was true?” Mr. Larson says, his brow furrowed.
“That we had sex. I picked up that little troublemaker at school one day and offered to give her a ride home. Yeah, she was a hot little thing and I could tell nobody else had hit it, so I decided to make my move…”
I can feel my chest tighten. Is he really going to tell this story?
“She got in my jeep and we’re driving around, laughing and talking. She’s giggling and giving me all the signs. I drive to a place where we can have some privacy. We climb in the back seat and we’re getting all hot and heavy, and we finally get into it. Yeah, it was rough breakin’ in a virgin, but it wasn’t my first time. I knew what I was doing.”
Oh, God, is he serious? He must be talking about somebody else, because he’s sure as hell not talking about me.
“Next thing I know, she’s in the back seat cryin’. Probably freaked out because she saw I popped her cherry. Now, I got this poser, white trash wannabe cryin’ and bleedin’ all over my seats when a few minutes earlier, everything was all good! So, I told her to get outta my Jeep. I threw her damn bookbag out behind her and left her standing there. I didn’t want anybody to see us together, and nobody would believe I fucked her anyway…”
He’s starting to blur a bit, but I can still hear him loud and clear.
“Yeah, we had sex, but the next thing I know, she and her father or stepfather or whoever the hell he was are at my house telling my dad I raped her!” He throws his hands up and scoffs in disbelief. “Why would I take from her what I could get from anybody? All the girls wanted me. I was the biggest ticket in school! I was already dating the head cheerleader!”
My muscles are tightening, and my body is starting to betray me. If I wasn’t there experiencing that rape first-hand, I would believe everything that’s coming out of his mouth right now. As if I haven’t suffered enough at the hands of this fucker, he turns to me when he drives his point home.
“Yeah, get mad because I left you there and made you walk home, but rape? Please!”
Oh, dear God in heaven. If I have any more epiphanies in this room, my head is going to burst. He was actually pissed at me for crying in his jeep. Does this fucker really believe he didn’t rape me… that he was fucking entitled to do what he did to me? Jesus, I think I’m going to vomit again.
I see the room shaking and I can’t breathe. Christian is in my line of sight, but I can’t hear anything. His mouth is moving, but I can’t hear the words coming out of his mouth. People are moving towards me, but I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe…
A/N: Of course, the writer would know that Cody was getting a plea before the episode was written. However, the reader wasn’t supposed to know until this episode. I mentioned something in chapter 89 of Becoming at Ana’s last session with Ace about Cody’s plea. If you go back and read, it’s not there anymore. You’re not crazy. I jumped the gun when I put it there. I wasn’t supposed to, so I removed it. Sorry for the confusion.
Twitterpated is a phrase that Owl used in “Bambi” to explain to the young men that the birds were in love. I borrowed the phrase in this episode to talk about the Waldorf guest that besmirched Ana on Twitter.
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.
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