Fifty Shades Golden: Chapter 19

This is a work of creativity. As such, you may see words, concepts, scenes, actions, behaviors, pictures, implements, and people that may or may not be socially acceptable and/or offensive. If you are sensitive to adverse and alternative subject matter of any kind, please do not proceed, because I guarantee you’ll find it here. You have been warned. Read at your own risk.

Explicit details of sex and BDSM scenes from here on out. Some may be hot while others may not be to your taste… and not necessary CG with Ana together. Proceed at your own discretion, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

This ain’t your everyday Christian and Ana story. Don’t expect anything. Just read it as it goes along or go away. I do not own Fifty Shades Trilogy, or the characters. They belong to E. L. James. I am only exercising my right to exploit, abuse, and mangle the characters to MY discretion in MY story in MY interpretation as a fan. If something that I say displeases you, please, just leave. If you don’t like this story or me, please don’t spoil this experience for everyone. Just go away. For the rest of you, the new saga continues…

Chapter 19

Eric Dane 19

TREY

The latest development in the Lincoln saga is that Linc has been detained as the primary suspect in the attack on his wife. Once the police finally decided to do their jobs instead of chasing the wrong big fish, all the evidence pointed to Linc—concrete and circumstantial. Of course, he denied it… until he heard that his DNA matched the bloody remnants under her nails. However, here’s where the story takes a turn.

Linc isn’t denying battering his wife. He is, however, claiming that she attacked him first. So, his attack was supposedly in the form of self-defense. With Elena’s history of violence after she threw that cement pot at me, it’s not completely off the mark that he could have been defending himself against her as far as the police can see. With a lawsuit pending from me for wrongful arrest, they can’t afford to get these facts wrong or overlook any details. So, now, the question is who’s actually going to be charged with what?

Facing possible charges for filing a false report and as a jointly and severally liable party in my lawsuit, Elena immediately claimed some form of diminished capacity, stating that she was completely delusional after the attack and currently has no recollection whatsoever of who she fingered as her assailant. Kirkland’s finest isn’t going to let her get away with that. If they’re going down, she’s going down, too. I was nearly accosted by a couple of reporters trying to get a response from me about a statement that she had made once Linc was indicted.

“Have you seen Mrs. Lincoln’s statement?” some guy says as I’m trying to get into Grey House.

“What statement?” Like magic, and in response to my question, he produces a tablet cued up at Lincoln standing at what looks like a podium in her yard. She looks like the damn President about to address the press in the Rose Garden.

“My doctor has confirmed that I was most likely suffering from trauma-induced delirium when I initially attempted to identify my attacker,” she says. “I didn’t know until several days later that I had accused the wrong person. In fact, I was unaware that I had accused anyone at all. Although the details of the attack are slowly coming back to me, the moments following the attack are still a bit of a blur. My only explanation for my original identification is that Christian Grey and I were once very close, and in my distress, I may have digressed to that time and called on my friend. I have no other explanation or recollection of why I indicated that Christian had attacked me. I can only hope that one day, he can forgive this horrible misstep on my part. There’s bad blood between us, yes, but nothing that would prompt me to cause him deliberate discomfort for something that I think he didn’t do.”

“That’s interesting, Mrs. Lincoln, considering the bad blood between you right now is mainly because you broke his arm with a cement pot. Aiming to cause that deliberate discomfort, were you?” One reporter asks.

“I choose not to address that issue as it is separate from this one and part of a currently open case.”

“Oh, this is a currently open case as well, yet you had no trouble addressing it since you were exposed to have lied… er, I mean was mistaken about who attacked you,” he retorts. “Nonetheless, I do have a copy of your statement to the police here. Your accusations sound nothing like a woman blabbering in delirium. In fact, your statements are quite succinct in accusing Christian Grey of ‘doing this to you.’ Care to elaborate, Mrs. Lincoln? I can read the statement for you if you like—just to refresh your memory.” She sneers at the reporter.

“I don’t need you to read the statement,” she hisses. “Like I said, my doctor indicates that I might have regressed to a different time. It was Mr. Grey who started the rumors that destroyed my business! So, I may have been thinking of that when I identified my attacker,” she seethes.

“Well, that’s interesting,” the reporter says. “You never made any indication in public before now that it was Mr. Grey that was the cause of the demise of your salons. Are you sure you want to make that declaration, Mrs. Lincoln? It’s my understanding that Christian Grey is already pursuing a case for defamation of character against you as well as anything that can be linked to his wrongful arrest. Are you sure you want to give him additional ammunition for slander?” Elena’s face pales, then reddens, and just as she’s about to formulate an answer, her attorney steps in.

“Okay, that’s enough,” he says. “My client is very emotional about this entire situation. She only agreed to this release so that she could tell the truth and explain what she thinks happened during her trauma and you’re exploiting her and the situation. This conversation is over.”

“We’re just trying to report the news, Mr. Mason,” the reporter shoots, as several others shove mics in his face. “She was in the hospital for several days and never once retracted her comments about Christian Grey, even after it was publicly revealed that he had an alibi for the time during her attack. She’s a Chatty Cathy when she’s the victim, but the moment she’s in the hotseat, she loses her memory. Then of course, there’s the fact that Caldwell Lincoln has been extradited back to the States accompanied by photographs that look like he was in a gang fight after disappearing the very night his wife was brutally attacked, and suddenly Mrs. Lincoln may have been mistaken about her attacker. Don’t you think that’s a bit convenient?”

“I said this conversation is over!” Mason hisses and shuffles an angry Elena off the platform.

“So, what do you have to say about that, Mr. Grey?” the reporter asks.

“What do you expect me to say?” I counter.

“She asked for your forgiveness. Do you forgive her, Mr. Grey?” the guy asks. “Can you forgive her?” I pause as if I’m pondering the situation.

“She’s right about one thing,” I begin. “We were friends once, but that woman is toxic. She put me in a situation that could have very well cost my life, so I ended our friendship. Shortly thereafter, her salons came under investigation for unclean business practices. Now, I don’t know if those circumstances were true or not, but she blamed me for that. She apparently blames me for every bad thing that happens to her. I wasn’t even near her!” I wave my hands and shake my head. “I have things to do…”

“But can you ever forgive her?” another reporter asks before I clear the door to my building. I turn to face the few reporters who have gathered for a statement.

“That woman aimed a dangerous projectile object at my head. Had I not had the wherewithal to sacrifice my arm by blocking my face with it, I might not be standing here talking to you today. She follows that attack with a fabricated accusation that I brutally and deliberately assaulted her, resulting in my wrongful arrest and detainment by the police department, harassment by one officer who would not leave me alone even after I was cleared of any wrongdoing, and possibly irreparable damage to my name and reputation. And even after she’s called out for the liar and the brutally violent woman that she is, she still manages to falsely accuse me on live television of something that she has absolutely no proof that I had any hand in. So, to answer your question, no—I don’t forgive her. It would do me well to never see her again and if I had my way, all the lawsuits and all the charges would just go away if she would just go away, but I know that’s not going to happen. So, I’m just going to let justice take its course. Now, if you’ll excuse me, gentlemen, I have a business to run.”

In related news, Linc posted his insane bail, but his passport has been confiscated and he’s currently on a temporary “Do Not Fly” list. I know this is a bit extreme for mere accusations of spousal abuse, but I have a sneaking suspicion that all these extra measures are because of me. Additionally, he’s not allowed to return to his own home.

In the meantime, I’m gobbling up lumber interests like Pac Man, having secured two of Linc’s five largest suppliers as well as several of the independents. Once the news officially spread that GEH was entering the lumber business, prospects started flocking to me like flies to shit. Either they have huge bones to pick with Caldwell Lincoln and Lincoln Timber or, like Spires said, they don’t want to be on the losing end when the dust clears.

Stuver and Warner are still barking about the dangers of “strange bedfellows,” but those old farts don’t have enough pull on their own to dissuade members of the industry from getting on board with me. That’s fine. Let them sink with the Lincoln ship as far as I care. I don’t know if Linc is playing it smart or stupid by remaining mute throughout this endeavor, but I’m keeping my eye on him… or I should say that Wester is keeping an eye on him. This man has proven to be worth his weight in platinum when it comes to getting information for me. As it turns out, my mugshots remain property of the police department, innocent or not. However, Weston is taking special pains to make sure that they don’t end up on the internet, which is all I really care about.

Now about that other situation…

I sit at the desk in my study staring at the box that was delivered last week sitting on the credenza across the room. I haven’t opened it because, of course, I know what’s in it. She didn’t return the vodka, but she returned the sculpture. Now, she won’t respond to my texts or phone calls. What’s the meaning of this?

I’ve tried to keep myself occupied with other things going on in my life, but no matter how I try, this situation keeps coming front and center. I swipe my screen and look at the message that arrived the day before the lips were delivered to my doorstep:

**The kiss was a mistake. It won’t happen again. **

So… what? Was the whole damn thing a mistake? Is that why she won’t speak to me now? Not even a message to tell me that she’s busy? A “fuck you go away?” Nothing?

I know we’re not in a relationship, but I really thought we were at least more than this.

I don’t know why I try to play this game with Golden. This is what she does. This is who she is. She’s so much better at it than I am. I’m a master at business. I can bust anybody’s balls in the boardroom… but this shit? These body and mind games? I don’t do this. That’s not me. When it comes to a woman’s body, I get what I want, I give them what they want, and I’m done. I don’t do this cat-and-mouse, Jedi-mind-trick, Vulcan-mind-control bullshit. Why do I even try with this woman?

After signing more contracts for more lumber interests and discussing the final steps involved to round out GEH’s up and coming lumber division, I decide to go for a walk on a sunny Friday afternoon to try to clear my head of all things Golden. When is the last time I went for a fucking walk? As of late, I’m usually mobbed by reporters wanting a statement or reaction to the latest development in the Lincoln case or trying to get information about my lumber takeover or some other bit of minutia.

Jason hovers nearby as I sit at a picnic table after having finished a delicious corned beef on rye with a kosher pickle. Surprisingly, the walk has helped to clear my mind a bit. It’s just another female, right? I mean, granted, I want to fuck this female so badly that I dream about the shit, but in the end, that’s all it really is, isn’t it? It’s not like my life’s dream is getting away from me. It still pisses me off that she won’t even return my calls or respond to my texts, though. Since when is it okay to treat people that way when you have an intimate relationship with them?

“Good afternoon. Do you mind if I sit here?”

I’m jolted from my thoughts by a woman’s voice. I don’t know her—business skirt suit and pumps, brownish-blonde curls, beautiful.

“It’s a free country,” I reply. She smiles and sits on the bench next to me.

“It’s really a pretty day,” she says, opening her sandwich and taking a bite from it. “It’s nice to see spring coming in so nicely,” she continues after she swallows. I said you could sit. I didn’t say I wanted to talk. I look over at Jason and I can see his brows raise under his sunglasses. Part of me wants to know why he didn’t move in when this woman approached me. The other part knows that he can’t very well bumrush the woman for asking to sit down.

“I suppose,” I say, disinterested. I can see her looking at me out of the corner of my eye.

“You look like you’re having a bad day,” she says, still trying to strike up conversation. I look over at her, then turn my gaze back in front of me.

“Oh.” She rewraps her sandwich and puts it back in her bag. “You’re one of those,” she says, dismissively. My brow furrows.

“One of what?” I inquire.

“Beautiful men who think any woman who shows you the slightest bit of attention is trying to hook up or something. It was just a ‘good afternoon,’ handsome. Have a good day.” She stands with her bag and begins to walk away. Well, damn…

“Wait,” I say, halting her progress. She stops and turns around, but doesn’t walk back to me. I stand and walk over to her.

“It’s not you and I didn’t mean to be rude,” I say apologetically. “I’m just distracted.”

“Over a girl?” she asks.

“Over life,” I correct, not wanting to admit that it is over a girl. “Come, sit down and finish your lunch.” She pauses for a moment, then goes back to the bench with me.

“So, should I ask what has you distracted, or should I just eat my lunch and be on my way?” she asks as she takes another bite of her sandwich.

“Well,” I begin, “I barely know you. In fact, I don’t know you at all, so it might not be a good idea to spill my guts to you.”

“Oh, I completely disagree,” she says. “Spilling your guts to a stranger is better than spilling your guts to your friends. There’s no judgement.”

Well, I don’t have any friends to speak of… people that I know, but not any real friends, so that’s a moot point.

“I’m just a man with a lot of irons on the fire, lady,” I say. “Stranger or not, spilling my guts isn’t going to help any of them.”

“I see,” she says. “Well, you never know. I might be able to help. Your boss taking a bite out of your ass for something? You lose the big account?” Is she serious?

“Um, no. Trying to land the big account is more like it, and I am the boss.” She twists her lips.

“Okay. So, what do you do?” This lady is not for real.

“You know what I do,” I say in disbelief. She raises her brow at me.

“You’re a suit in the middle of downtown on a park bench. You’re a businessman, I know that much, but am I supposed to be psychic?” She takes another bite of her sandwich. I look at her incredulously.

“You really don’t know who I am?” I say, furrowing my brow. She cocks her head and twists her lips.

“I’ve seen the face somewhere, but, sorry… nothing’s coming to me right now,” she says somewhat apologetically. I scoff a short laugh. “That’s funny?”

“Maybe a little,” I say. “Actually, it’s quite refreshing.”

“Uh, why? Are you a celebrity or something?” she asks. I stifle a scoff and extend my hand to her.

“Christian Grey,” I say, introducing myself.

“Veronica Beal,” she says, shaking my hand. “I do know that name and I know that I should know who you are.” I raise a brow and point to the big glass building off in the distance prominently displaying the words Grey House.

“Oh,” she says, realization dawning. “Well, that explains it.”

“Your meaning?” I ask.

“The aloof, standoffish attitude. I bet you get approached by women all the time. How many marriage proposals have you gotten today?” I laugh. It feels good.

“None today,” I say with mirth, “but it’s early yet.”

Veronica tells me that she’s an accountant at Lakeland and Moor down the street from Grey House, and she only came over to talk to me because she lunches here often when the weather is good and she has never seen me here, not to mention I looked like someone had just shot my puppy. Jesus, does Golden have me that fucked up? I listen to her talk about herself, giving her little to no information about me. I know better than that.

“Well, that’s my time,” she says, standing and straightening her clothes. “I’m not the boss and I have to get back to work.”

“It was nice talking to you,” I say. She smiles.

“You mean listening to me,” she says. “See ya ‘round, handsome.” She gathers her wrappers and bags, throws them in a nearby trash receptacle, and walks away down the lane.

And I’m left here still thinking of Golden.

*-*

It’s probably not a good idea to be here, especially since there’s a late model Grand Cherokee parked in front of me. The last thing I want to wander in on is another client being serviced, but she pushed me to this. She won’t talk to me or return my calls. She hasn’t given me any reason—she’s just not talking to me. Desperate times…

Am I desperate? Fuck it.

I ring the bell and wait for Belvedere to answer the door, which he does.

“Mr. Grey,” he says in a heavy Spanish accent. “What can I do for you?”

“Is she here?” I ask. I never know what to call her in his presence.

“Is she expecting you?” he asks.

“No… she’s not…” and don’t bother telling me to leave because I’m not fucking going anywhere. He stands there for a moment, then steps aside to allow me in.

“Please wait here,” he says after closing the door behind me, and heads to the parlor. There’s no Tupac playing, so I know that she’s not rejuvenating from a scene. However, when Belvedere opens the door and enters, I can see past him.

I can see her on her sofa. She’s not dressed in any of her welcoming Golden garb. She’s wearing a white shirt and black skirt—like she’s just got in from work, only her hair is terribly mussed… and she’s not alone.

She’s in some guy’s arms, a black guy. They look very cozy. Just as Belvedere fully opens the door, I hear, “I’m a big boy, Ana. This changes nothing between us… unless you can’t deal with it.”

Can’t deal with it… can’t deal with what? And he calls her Ana? Who is this guy?

They have a few more words of exchange before Belvedere announces that Mistress has another visitor. So, this guy knows who she is. She leans her head to the side and makes direct eye-contact with me. She turns and says something to her companion to which he replies, “Is he the kiss?”

She’s been talking about me? What the fuck?

She stands and releases her bun. Her brown hair falls over her shoulders in full waves. She apologizes to Kevin about dinner and asks Blake to show him out and to show me in. He gazes at her for a few more moments before he walks to the parlor door with Blake. He stops at the door and glares at me, sharp black eyes glaring at me issuing a challenge… or a warning.

“Mistress will see you now, sir,” Blake says, breaking our glaring contest. I turn and look at Golden, now standing in the middle of the room, two top buttons undone with black stilettos now donning her feet that were stockinged only moments ago.

“I don’t recall inviting you,” she says, still standing in the middle of the room.

“No, I don’t believe you would,” I reply coolly. “You seemed a bit preoccupied.” She raises a brow at me. I’ll give you a fucking Mistress when I feel like it.

“I see someone is feeling a bit obstinate today,” she chides.

“Whatever do you mean… Mistress?” I ask emphasizing the word.

“That’s more like it,” she gloats.

“At least one of us is being treated with some modicum of decorum,” I retort. She’s taken aback, but she tries not to show it. “You talk about me to others?” I accuse sharply.

“He’s a friend, not that I owe you that explanation, and I only mentioned a kiss to him… not who. He wouldn’t have known anything about you had you not shown up uninvited,” she shoots.

“I wouldn’t have shown up uninvited had you returned my calls or texts,” I reply, calming a bit. “If the kiss unnerved you, why did you do it?”

“Who said it unnerved me?” she replies, folding her arms.

“You’re talking to friends about it,” I shoot back. “Do you talk to your friends about all of your dungeon encounters?” She sighs heavily and I know she’s looking for a comeback.

“That’s hardly any of your business…”

“It is when it applies to me,” I say cutting her off. “I am extremely discreet about my BDSM activities. I never speak to anyone outside of the lifestyle about my encounters and I don’t appreciate being cocktail discussion for you and your friends.

“Don’t you dare try to demean me that way,” she says, her voice low, cool, and controlled. “I don’t have cocktail discussions about anything I do! With anyone! Like I said, I mentioned. A. Kiss. If he has any idea who you are, it’s only because you came barging into my home.” Mistress is definitely here now.

“You had to talk to someone about the kiss,” I accuse, changing tact, “but you couldn’t talk to me. I sent you a full-sized statue of your naked body and you kept that, but you couldn’t keep a pair of lips. You kissed me. I didn’t kiss you—you kissed me. And while I’m left to wonder what the meaning of it is and why you sent my tribute back to me, you’re talking to Kevin about our kiss.” She rolls her eyes.

“Stop talking about it like it’s something that we shared,” she says, her voice dripping with disgust. “It was something that happened, and that’s all. It was a mistake, and like I said, it won’t happen again.”

What the fuck was I thinking? Why the hell did I even come here? It was obviously a mistake—she made that clear in more ways than one. What was I expecting to hear? Jesus, I’m acting like a fucking puppy. Yes, I love her whip, but not enough to allow her to humiliate me this way.

I’ve heard enough. She can talk about me to her friends, but she can’t talk to me? Friends… like hell he’s a friend. It’s one thing when she’s mindlessly tormenting strangers and making them come. This is more than that. I already have to contend with this manservant fucker lurking around her 25/8. Now, I show up after she hasn’t returned my calls and she’s all cozy with this asshole who’s giving me the evil eye. I really don’t need this shit. Mistress won’t give me the time of day, but when I try to get answers, she shuts me down and she’s snuggled up with this fucker. Time to get the hell out of here.

“Goodnight, Mistress,” I say, turning away and heading toward the door.

“I haven’t dismissed you yet, Trey,” she says, emphasizing my name like I emphasized hers. She’s kidding, right? I turn around just as I reach the door.

“With all due respect, Mistress,” I say with less venom, “we aren’t in the dungeon, and even then, you said it yourself—I’m not a submissive…” meaning I don’t need you to dismiss me. I see the flicker in her eye and I’m certain that she wants to give me a comeback, but she doesn’t have one.

I open the parlor door and Belvedere is right there looking at me. I square off with him for a moment before I walk to the front door and leave.

I’m more conflicted right now than I can even explain. I’m left with nothing but questions and no answers. What exactly did that kiss mean? I know why I was so perplexed by it, but why is she? I couldn’t understand why my Mistress who is so blatantly unemotional with me suddenly felt the need to kiss me. It left an impression on me and I wanted her to know that, but when I did, she clammed up and acted like I had broken some unwritten rule. She’s the one who crossed the line with no explanation, not me. When I send her tribute, she sends it back and when I look for an explanation, she shuts me down.

And when I come to see her, she’s cozied up with someone else, being all friendly and vulnerable with him when she made it clear that this was something that she didn’t want with anybody.

Why am I so fucking pissed about this? We’re not exclusive. We don’t even fuck!

I punch the gas and head back to my side of the bridge.


Briana Evigan 19

GOLDEN

How dare he walk out of here like that! I’m the one in control here and he doesn’t have the right…!

The right to what? The right to do what?

It doesn’t matter. I’m fucking pissed now and the next time he comes crawling to me for a scene—and he will—I’m going to teach him a lesson he’ll never forget.

I take a deep breath and try to regain my composure. I’m so pissed off that I can barely breathe. First, this bastard fucker comes to my house demanding his share of my dead father’s money—money that doesn’t even exist, to my knowledge—after this balding bitch boy leads him right to my door, and then Trey has the audacity to show up right behind him without an invitation, and goes marching out of here like he owns the place.

It’s too late to get a client now, but fuck if I don’t need one.

I pour and throw back three shots of vodka in quick succession—not his—before I take to my room and a hot bath.

*-*

I wake the next morning after B.O.B. induced three brain-shattering orgasms, loose as a noodle and ready to take on the world. I gave Blake instructions to find what information he could on Reynard Stamper and his mother before I fell into a feverish session of self-love. By noon, which is when I decide to roll out of bed, he has more information on Stamper than he gave me on Trey.

Trey… asshole.

Reynard Stamper, 35 years old…
Address: 1417 S 10th Ave, Yakima…

Yakima??? Seriously? That’s like 150 miles away! He came 150 miles to harass me for money he thought my father had? After all this time?

Apparently, he has only lived in two places. This address for most of his life, then another address for a few years and then back to this address. My guess is that this is probably a family home.

Occupation: Merchandiser…
Education: High school diploma…

What exactly is a merchandiser?

Marital status: Divorced; three children.
Relationship status: Single

No criminal offender profile and no hit on the sex offender registry. His employment history is unremarkable and his credit sucks.

Mother, Heather Stamper-Watson. Recently deceased.

Hmm, could that be why he’s suddenly on the hunt for my father? His mother died?

“Blake,” I call out and he leans into my study.

“Yes, Mistress?”

“Did you get any information on who owns that house this asshole is living in?” I ask. “I’m just curious.”

“I did not, but I’ll see what I can find out before Monday.”

“See if you can find out who has the lien,” I say. “And I need a copy of his birth certificate.”

“It’s in the file,” he says. I thumb through the file and locate a photocopy of Reynard’s birth certificate—minus my daddy’s name.

“Thanks,” I tell him. “I’ll look through the file before I ask for any more information.” Blake smiles and leaves the room and I begin to take notes.

How and when did his mother die?
Does he have any siblings?
How old are his children?
Are they still in Washington?
What makes him think Daddy is his father?

As I proceed through the file, I find a possible answer to my last question.

There are a few color copies of pictures of my daddy, very young, with a pretty young black woman. They’re date-stamped nearly 40 years ago and one of them have “Heather and Ray” written on the margin. It’s obvious that Daddy knew this woman. He, also, most likely, had a relationship with her, but there’s no proof that he’s Reynard Stampers father. If Heather was so sure of her son’s paternity, why didn’t she name him Steele? What were the circumstances of their breakup? Did Daddy really know that he had a son—if this guy really is his son?

I know my father. The man that welcomed me into his heart and gave me his name, planned on having another child with my mother would not have walked away from a son that he knew existed. I’m certain that no matter the circumstances of their split, my father would have owned up to his responsibilities had he known he had a son out there. He’s not around to defend himself and Heather isn’t around to explain herself, but nothing anyone can say about him would ever make me feel otherwise.

He was a good man. He had a heart of gold. He would have helped anyone who needed him. There’s no way that he would have turned his back on his own flesh and blood.

I flip through the file and find more information—nothing of any real substance. School pictures, report cards, shot records… I take a critical lawyer’s look at the pictures of young Reynard, in grade school, middle school, prom, high school graduation, his wedding. I look with a lawyer’s eye, not the eye of a young girl unwilling to admit that the horrible stranger that darkened her door last night may, in fact, be her adopted brother. I compare pictures of Reynard throughout the years with the early pictures of my father in the file, with the pictures of my father from his grave, with the images of him forever stamped in my memory. I look hard to see the facial structure of the man that I’ll always love as my Daddy in the smiles and expressions of the younger man claiming to be his son.

I see no resemblance whatsoever.

I could still be blinded by my hope and wish that he’s not Daddy’s son, but truthfully, I don’t see it at all. I would be willing to painfully accept that this man might be my father’s child if I could see any resemblance whatsoever. As much as I hate to admit it, I would somewhat welcome seeing a live version of my father—a small piece of him still here on earth—just to have the chance to look into his eyes again. I would even give him some of my own money if he needed it. But unfortunately, that asshole Richard looks more like my father than this bastard ever will. I’m certain of it.

Having laid my doubt to rest, I give my other questions to Blake to get answers for me, mainly in a bid to have some ammo should this imposter show up again. Then, I go about the business of proceeding with my day.

I want to do some yoga today, but I really don’t want to see Kevin today, not after last night’s display and his declaration that his “hat is in the ring.” I just don’t want to deal with it, so I opt to do Ashtanga on my patio instead. It’s a nice enough day, if I dress a little warmly. After I torment with body with grueling stretches and extensions, I shower and go to the kitchen to cook the meal that I intended to cook last night. As I’m mincing fresh garlic, my mind immediately drifts to the day that I cook dinner for Trey.

Trey… again.

Dammit, I didn’t cook dinner for him. He was just there on a night that I decided to cook. It wasn’t for him…

Was it?

“Dammit!” I exclaim as I nip my finger with the knife. “Sonofabitch!”

“What is it, Mistress?” Blake is by my side in moments.

“Oh, nothing. Just an absent-minded mishap,” I say, running my hand under cold water. “Can you get me a band-aid, please?”

“You’re sure?” he says, coming into the kitchen to examine my wound.

“Yes, I’m sure,” I say, shoving the finger with the nick in his face so that he can see that I haven’t maimed myself. “See? Now, may I please have a band-aid?” he looks at me skeptically as he goes to fetch a band-aid. Gees, Blake, it’s just a little cut.

You would have thought my house submissive was performing surgery.

Peroxide to clean the wound…
A small sterile pad to dry the peroxide…
Antibiotic ointment to cover the cut…
And finally, a band-aid to protect my boo-boo…

I mean seriously. This was so much prompt and circumstance for a cut no bigger than my fingernail.

“Thank you, Blake,” I say, accommodating.

“You’re distracted,” he accuses. I glare at him, ready to take a bite out of him for misspeaking, but when I look at him, his eyes are gentle and filled with concern. How and why do you chastise someone for that.

“Wouldn’t you be?” I cede. “This man shows up at my door and pretty much disrupts my life. Jesus, what a card!”

“Mr. Grey does have a presence that won’t be denied, Mistress,” he says softly. And now, he misspeaks.

“I was talking about Reynard Stamper,” I say, raising my brow at him. He raises a knowing brow to me then drops his arms to his side and his gaze to the floor.

“My apologies, Mistress,” he says. “I will leave you now.” And he walks out without another word. He didn’t need to say another word. He called me on my bullshit without calling me on my bullshit. I want to be angry, but how can I? Blake knows me better than I know myself sometimes.

I finish my meal and, too ashamed to even look Blake in the eye right now, I sit down and eat alone.

Monday morning comes in like a lion! The first visitor to my office is an attorney—Canciana’s divorce attorney, to be exact. This guy is the epitome of the slimy lawyer, complete with the dark, slicked back hair.

“Greg Beasley,” he says, handing me a business card, “representing Canciana Haviland.” I take his card.

“Did I forget our appointment, Mr. Beasley?” I say, unimpressed while looking at his card.

“No, please forgive me for taking liberties,” he says, clearly insincere. “I was in the neighborhood and thought I would drop by to see if we could discuss the case involving our mutual clients,” he says.

“There’s nothing to discuss,” I say, handing his card to Chanelle. “Our clients have a prenuptial agreement. There’s really no need for either of us to even get involved, but I’m sure that—like me—you’re just trying to protect your client’s interest,” I add, equally as insincere. He smiles an unnerving smile.

“Yes, this is true, but I have some… information that I really think might be relevant to the case,” he baits.

“I would much rather have this discussion with my client present,” I retort.

“I won’t take much of your time,” he continues. “This information is quick and I’m certain that you can share with your client at your leisure.”

I hate playing into someone’s hands, but he’s clearly unaware that he’s playing with a homerun hitter, especially since I don’t do many divorces. To that end, I let him think he has the upper hand. I turn wordlessly and walk into my office, allowing Jesse to escort him in.

“We… don’t need an audience, Ms. Olivet,” he says of Jesse when he sees that he’s coming into the office with us.

“This is my bodyguard, Mr. Beasley,” I reply. “I go nowhere without him except the restroom. Please, state your business or you can make an appointment with my receptionist—at which meeting, he’ll still be in the room. Or I can see you in court,” I end with a shrug. You got past the threshold, asshole, you’re not going to run the meeting.

He looks at Jesse again, then opens his briefcase. Jesse steps menacingly close to him and he stops moving, then slowly pulls out a file.

“I just thought you might want to see this,” he says, handing it to me. I take the file from him and open it. Inside, there are pictures of Blake arriving at my home, leaving my home, greeting me at the door, unloading things from my Range Rover. There are also pictures of me coming and going, and of Jesse. This asshole knew who Jesse was when he made the prior statement.

“In the interest of full disclosure, divorce cases can get very ugly, especially when there are undisclosed assets involved,” he oozes. “To that end, Mrs. Haviland had employed a private investigator in an attempt to shed light on the dark patches of the case. As you already know, your client is trying to offer only the house, car, and the money in the prenup. We’re certain that a judge would be sympathetic to Mrs. Haviland’s plight, having already lost her only child in an accident caused by your client, coupled with seeing these photographs.”

“These pictures show a man coming and going from a residence,” I say. “Nothing more.”

“Oh, but they imply quite a bit,” he says victoriously, thinking he has me on the ropes. “With the right spin and, like I said, a sympathetic judge, we may be able to turn the tables in our favor.”

He knows damn well that he can’t turn anything in his favor because we have a prenup in place. He’s trying to influence me because I’m the attorney and I’m in those pictures. If he puts enough heat on me, he thinks I’ll pressure Blake into giving his whore of a client more money. Alright, Beasley. I thought this would be fairly easy, but I haven’t had a good chess game in a while.

“In light of this new information, I’ll need to discuss some things with my client,” I say. He smiles and crosses his legs.

“Excellent. I’ll wait,” he says. Good grief, this guy is a real piece of work. I don’t think so, you scumbag. I open the desk drawer, drop the file in, and close it before folding my arms.

“I will discuss this with my client, and I’ll get back to you. Jesse?” Jesse stands and moves next to Mr. Beasley. He looks at Jesse and then back at me.

“You do that,” he says somewhat menacingly while standing. “You have my card.”

“Good day, Mr. Beasley,” I say, never standing from my seat.

“Sir,” Jesse says when Beasley doesn’t move fast enough. He glares at me for another moment before leaving the room. I sigh a frustrated sigh and look at the pictures again—absolutely nothing incriminating, but I don’t want some fucker poking around my house and my private life trying to get some information on Blake. I’ll have to talk to him, but we’re not giving in to this asshole. There’s always another way.

My second visitor shows up after lunch, in the form of one on-the-mend Elena Lincoln. I’ve told her more than once not to come to my office or darken my door, and yet here she is.

“I don’t see your attorney, so we really don’t have anything to discuss,” I say when she bypasses Chanelle and barges into my office.

“You can’t be blind,” she says, a bit frantically. “Don’t you see what I’ve been through? What I’m going through? I’ll probably end up in jail after all of this—Christian and Linc, and now the Kirkland Police are after me, too. You can make this lawsuit go away; I know you can! What do I have to do?”

“You have to get in touch with your attorney and let him know that you would like to offer a settlement and how much that settlement will be. He will let me know and I will confer with my clients to see if the settlement is acceptable. That’s what you have to do. Otherwise, we go to court and let them decide.”

“You know that’s not what I meant!” she says, sounding more and more unstable. “I know you’re responsible for this! These women didn’t just appear on your doorstep looking for a lawsuit. You went in search of someone who was willing to take part in this fucking farce just to get back at me. Admit it!” Okay, she’s losing it.

“I’m not admitting anything, and you’re coming unglued again. You’ve screwed over so many people that you have no idea how many people you’ve screwed over. You just throw a stone and pick someone to blame for your latest conspiracy theory. Just that I know of, Elvin is still pissed at you; some girl that you slapped and left her scarred is still pissed at you; and yes, Trey is pissed at you. Those are just the ones that I know. Who else have you pissed off that I don’t even know about?”

“Don’t play that game with me,” she fumes. “I don’t care if I pissed off the goddamn queen of England—you’re behind this and we both know it! What did you do—go around to salons to see who might want to join you in this farce?”

To be honest, that’s exactly what I did, but hell if I’m telling her that.

“If you want to know how I was connected with the women who felt they were wronged by you, I’ll tell you,” I say, folding my arms. “In case you have forgotten, I was one of your clients, too. I stopped frequenting your establishment well before any of this shit started because I didn’t fucking trust you! You were trying so hard to shove Trey down my throat and I didn’t know what your real intentions were, and I didn’t want to trust my beauty care to you at all. With the timing of my departure, I guess you could safely assume that it was me, but bitch, I’m telling you that it wasn’t me.

“I went to another shop—like all of your fucking other clients—since no one had done my hair or nails since you! And as much as you may hate it, you are still fodder for conversation. So, guess what? They were talking… and so was I! I have no loyalty to you! I don’t know for certain that you didn’t have bedbugs in your shops. All I know is what I’ve heard on the news and through the grapevine, which is the same thing everyone else has heard.

“You paid to have someone’s house fumigated, for Christ’s sake! What innocent person would do that? If there was never a threat, why would you fumigate against a threat that was never there? You set the precedent for this lawsuit, Elena, not me. So, stop walking around looking for another goddamn scapegoat. You fucked up—plain and simple! Deal with it!”

She looks like her head is about to explode. Her fists are clenched and so are her teeth. It’s a good thing I don’t have any potted plants in my office, but I have other things that can be hurled at an individual.

“Elena,” I say calmly, but firmly, “I know you have the tendency to react unscrupulously when you’re upset, but I’m going to attempt to appeal to your sense of reason… assuming you have one. If you act as irrationally in my office as you did at Trey’s, you’ll leave here in a body bag. Are we clear?” Her knuckles whiten.

“Your threats don’t scare me, you little bitch!” she seethes.

“Well, they should, you old bat!” I retort. “I swear to God, I will have no mercy on your ass if you raise a hand or anything else to me.”

“What are you going to do?” she hisses. “Get a restraining order like that little bitch submissive of yours?” I raise my brow at her.

“Oh, he’ll love to hear your sentiment,” I taunt. “And no, I’m not going to get a restraining order against you, Elena. I want you to come within a thousand feet of me! I want you to press your luck with me so that you can see your life flash before your eyes, you washed-up old cunt! Ever since I found out that you set that man loose on me like a housecat chasing a common rodent, I’ve dreamed of torturing you until you didn’t know your fucking name. You won that round and you don’t even know it. Only victory isn’t so sweet because it didn’t turn out like you thought it would.”

“I could squash you like a fucking bug, then claim that you attacked me because I fingered your little pet!” she threatens.

“I have two witnesses that you came storming in here acting irrationally and that I feel threatened. Do you really want to have this fight? Don’t forget, I get off on inflicting pain.”

“So, do I, little miss!” she hisses.

“Balls in your court, Blondie!” I challenge. She looks over at Jesse.

“Jesse, block the door so that this bitch doesn’t throw something at me and try to run, and don’t move a fucking inch, unless she pulls a weapon,” I order.

“Yes, ma’am,” he says hesitantly and moves to the door.

“Your move, Blondie,” I say, and coining Jesse’s phrase I add, “nothing between us but air and opportunity.”

She lunges at me before the words are even out of my mouth. She has two handfuls of my hair and is bending me backwards over my desk shrieking a horrible war cry. I’m at a huge disadvantage like this—bent over backwards and I can’t really strike, and she has quickly undone my bun and is now using my hair against me. I return the favor, grab a handful of her hair and pull like hell. She screams and releases one hand from my hair and moves to grab her own.

An opening! That’s all I need!

I place my thumb over her eye and push in, hard enough to cause pain but no permanent damage. Good Lord can that woman yowl! Her big mouth is enough to win the fight all by itself if you allow her to catch you off guard.

The good news is that you can’t very well hold someone down on a desk while they’re trying to push your eyeball into your skull.

I ignore the ache in my back from being pressed against the hard edge of my desk, and Carla the scrapper comes out. I’m not one of those macho-body-blow-upper-cut fighters. I’m sure that there was some of that fancy, descriptive hitting going on somewhere, but I will just hit you anywhere I can—anywhere there’s an opening. And every time I see your face, I’m going to hit it. It’s one of the most vulnerable spots on the body with the exception of the breasts of a woman, the balls of a man, and the kidney area on both.

I don’t have time to strategize. I hit fast and I hit hard. We’re both swinging like wildcats and she gets a couple of solid hits on my face, only because I let my guard down to hit her body. That’s okay, though, because after about six good minutes of a solid girl fight, she’s on the ground.

Excellent!

There’s nowhere to roll in my office. So, she’s on the floor, taking a terrible beating and kicking from my stilettos. When she rolls into a ball and begins to cough and cry, Jesse pulls me away from her.

“That’s it. That’s it, Ana, she’s had enough.” I look on the floor at my nemesis who is holding her stomach and crying, her hair a matted mess sticking to her face. I’m breathing like a bear, having been stopped abruptly in the middle of a massive workout with no cooldown whatsoever. Fighting to catch my breath, I go over to my desk and type in my password, then activate the monitor in the corner.

“Look up, you psychopathic bitch,” I declare, wiping the blood from my lip. She weakly raises her head to me, still sobbing, and I point to the monitor. She looks over to see the three of us and the office on the monitor.

“I don’t really give a fuck what you tell people happened to your goddamn face this time, but know that if you try to say that I attacked you, I have this, and you came at me first. Yeah, I taunted you, but you came here looking for a fight and you got one.”

She glares at the screen, drooling blood on the floor from her newly split lip, then back at me. Whimpering and crying, she slowly drags her battered ass off the floor. She’s only wearing one shoe, and that one has a broken heel. She looks like she’s gone a few rounds with someone who knows what the hell they were doing, but I took a few hits, too.

“Now, get your shit and get the hell out of my office!” I hiss. “I don’t want to see you again ever, even with your attorney, unless I see your wretched ass in court!” I spit blood and saliva into the trash can and turn a menacing glare back to her. She stumbles and limps over to her bag. She retrieves it along with her other shoe and hobbles her weeping ass out of my office. I wait until we hear the elevator before I release my breath. It hurts.

“Shit, are you okay?” he says coming over to me. My legs feel like rubber. “You were recording?” Jesse asks. I shake my head.

“I have a camera in here,” I tell him, a little wobbly from the hair-pulling and the sucker-punch to my lip. “I record depositions. It wasn’t on, but she doesn’t know that.” He sighs and Chanelle comes rushing into the room moments later.

“Shit!” she says. Hell, am I all bruised up? I must look like a fucking wild-woman. “You drew first blood?” she asks. I shake my head.

“No, she attacked me. She just got more than she bargained for,” I replied.

“Yeah,” Chanelle concurs. “You’ve got a busted lip. She looks like total shit.”

“Get me some ice and some water—separately, please,” I say. She nods and leaves.

*-*

The look of death is in Blake’s eyes when I arrive home and Jesse enters behind me.

“I just wanted to make sure you got in safely,” Jesse says.

“Mistress! What happened?” Blake says, looking from me to Jesse and back.

“I got into a little scuffle with Mrs. Lincoln,” I say, falling into a nearby chair. My head still hurts.

“With all due respect, Mistress,” he says sharply before turning his glare to Jesse, “where was your security? That is why you hired him after all.”

“With all due respect,” Jesse speaks without cowering, “Mistress ordered me to stay back while she handled the situation, which she did.”

“I was speaking to my Mistress,” Blake warns.

“But you were looking at me,” Jesse retorts menacingly. “And in the future, Jeeves, don’t question how I do my job and I won’t question how you do yours.”

“Okay, boys, that’s enough,” I say, waving my hand at them both. “Jesse, I’ll call you in the morning to tell you how I’m feeling and if I’ll be needing you tomorrow. I may just take some time to regroup.

He’s still glaring at Blake when he says, “I’ll be waiting for your call.” He turns and exits the front door, closing it behind him. Blake turns his gaze back to me.

“I think your security is a bit sensitive… and disrespectful,” he says, turning his attention to my face.

“That was a clear sign of aggression, Blake, and you know it,” I chide. “Did you expect the man to back down from you because you were angry? Like he said, he was doing what he was told… and I kicked that bitch’s ass. I swear, I’ll kill her if she comes near me again.”

“Does she know that?” he asks, his voice menacing. I know he’ll take matters into his own hands. He recorded himself breaking into her home for Christ’s sake. I’m just glad that he was smart enough not to leave any DNA behind during his visit.

“I think she’s well aware,” I assure him. “She thinks I have a recording of the fight—and of her starting it—and I’ve warned her not to darken my door again.”

“You warned her before,” he points out.

“Exactly… before I beat the hell out of her, then threatened to show the footage to the police. She’s got enough problems on her plate and today’s visit was just her trying to make one of those problems go away. Instead, she compounded it, and if you think I look bad, you should see her. She’ll probably go into hiding for a while because she has no way of explaining her new wounds without incriminating herself.” I groan a bit. I feel like shit.

“What can I do for you, Mistress?” Blake says, crouching down to me. He cares for me so much and I can tell that my discomfort pains him. I gently touch his face.

“You’re a good man,” I say, looking into soft brown, nearly hazel eyes. “I know you feel guilty and tormented about the past events in your life and that’s okay. You’re human. You made a terrible mistake, but you didn’t run from it. You didn’t hide from it and you didn’t compound it by continuing to exhibit destructive behavior. I just need you to know that you are a good man… a very good man. Do you understand that?”

His face changes from concern to soft acceptance, his puppy-dog eyes gazing at me as if to say, “I hear you child, but…”

“I just want you to know that,” I say. “I just want you to know that an educated and intelligent woman who knows your past still thinks that in here, you’re a good man.” I gently touch his chest while still holding his cheek without breaking eye-contact with him. He sighs and does that tragic half-smirk that he often does, placing his hand on his chest over mine.

“Thank you, Mistress,” he breathes. I gaze at him for a few more moments, then kiss him on his forehead. He closes his eyes for a moment and when he opens them, his smirk is more of a smile.

“Now,” he says, closing his hand gently over mine, “what can I do for you, Mistress?”

“Come with me to the parlor,” I say. He helps me out of the chair and into the parlor. I think that bitch may have pulled out some of my hair because my head still hasn’t stopped hurting. My lip is busted on the inside and a handprint on my face is slowly fading. That’s the extent of my visible bruising. Blake helps me to the sofa, fluffs a pillow behind me and removes my shoes.

“Drink?” he asks. I nod.

“Double shot, neat,” I say as I relax into the sofa. He quickly pours my drink and brings it back to me. I throw back half of it almost immediately.

“Sit with me,” I tell him. “We need to discuss your case.” Blake frowns.

“We can discuss work anytime, Mistress,” he protests. “You need to rest now.”

“No, we actually need to discuss it now,” I insist gently. “It involves me now.” His frown deepens.

“You?” he asks, bemused. “How?” I throw back the other shot and hand him the empty glass for a refill. He pours another double shot and hands it back.

“Canciana’s attorney visited me today,” I begin. “He wants me to try to convince you to give her more in the settlement. He has information…”

“About you?” Blake interrupts. I twist my lips.

“Somewhat,” I reply. “They hired a private eye to follow you. He’s been following you here, watching you… and me.” His expression falls flat, impassive. “They have nothing more than coming and going, but it’s clear in the pictures that our relationship is… close. It can be construed any way they twist it. I’m not concerned about the intel that they already have. I just don’t want them poking around anymore in my life.” He sighs.

“Should I give her what she wants?” he asks. “She can take half if it means that she’ll go away.”

“Hell, no!” I say, taking another swallow of my drink. “There’s more than one way to skin this cat. She’s been unfaithful for years. All we have to do is hire our own private eye to get some good, solid info on her. It shouldn’t be hard.”

“It won’t be hard at all,” he responds. “I don’t need a private eye, Mistress. I have surveillance… in my home.”

I nearly gasp at this revelation. I don’t usually stoop to these kinds of tactics, but if this asshole watches my home much longer, he’s going to get too much information on me, and I can’t have that.

“You have surveillance?” I ask, surprised. “What kind of surveillance?”

“Everything,” he says. “I don’t know how discreet she was in public, but she was downright scandalous in my home. I’ve been reviewing and compiling information ever since I walked in on one of her trysts and filed for divorce.”

I roll my eyes. What kind of skanky, treacherous woman would have extramarital relations in the same bed she once slept in with her husband? Even if the marriage is over, don’t do that shit in your matrimonial bed… in the home where you once built a family. Geez!

“I need some specific footage from that surveillance, Blake….”

He tells me about the footage. As it turns out, Blake has watched or scanned every bit of surveillance from his home when he’s not there. He has all of her escapades categorized by date, time, and partner. He even has records of her purchases for her lovers. That would come in handy if they try to establish that he and I have an intimate relationship, but the footage is much more useful. I need this shit to go away—and fast!

*-*

I awake still lying on the sofa. I feel a warm hand on my head and look down to see blue pinstriped slacks as my pillow. I’ve fallen asleep on Blake’s lap.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a sign to me that no matter how much I fight it, I’m changing.


A/N: The Pinterest board for this story can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/fifty-shades-golden/.

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.

~~love and handcuffs

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Raising Grey:Chapter 85—Business As Usual? 

FThis is a work of creativity. As such, you may see words, concepts, scenes, actions, behaviors, pictures, implements, and people that may or may not be socially acceptable and/or offensive. If you are sensitive to adverse and alternative subject matter of any kind, please do not proceed, because I guarantee you’ll find it here. You have been warned. Read at your own risk.

I do not own Fifty Shades Trilogy, or the characters. They belong to E. L. James. I am only exercising my right to exploit, abuse, and mangle the characters to MY discretion in MY story in MY interpretation as a fan. If something that I say displeases you, please, just leave. If you don’t like this story or me, please don’t spoil this experience for everyone. Just go away. For the rest of you, the saga continues…

Chapter 85—Business As Usual? 

CHRISTIAN

“I still think you overacted about the snake,” I say coming out of my dressing room while straightening my tie.

“Whatever,” she replies, “be glad I don’t cut you off,” she threatens.

“I’d find a way to make you give in,” I say confidently

“You think so, huh?” she challenges. I raise an eyebrow.

“You want to test the theory?” I retort just as haughtily, daring her to try me and begging her to do it at the same time. I’ll have your pretty little ass clawing at the walls. She ponders the theory for the moment, then turns and leaves the bedroom.

“I thought not,” I say under my breath as I follow her out of the room.

“You’re going back to the Center?” I inquire, noticing that she’s dressed for work as we descend the stairs. She sighs.

“Yes,” she says, “for now. I have responsibilities, but I don’t know what the future holds yet. I still don’t appreciate being disregarded that way, so we’ll just have to see.”

“What will you do if you leave the Center?” I ask. “Stay at home?”

“We both know I’d lose my mind,” she replies. “I haven’t gotten that far yet. I gave some thought to starting my own cause, but… that seems so catty and that’s certainly not my M-O. I just wish she could truly see what she did. It’s unacceptable and I just can’t tolerate it… and I won’t keep talking about it with you because I don’t want you to feel like I’m trying to make you take sides against your mother.”

“I don’t think that,” I say, placing my hand in the small of her back and leading her to the kitchen.

*-*

“Ronald Holstein on the line, sir,” Andrea says through the intercom. “I’ve been telling him all week that you were out of the country and expected back today. He’s been calling every day nonetheless.”

“Whenever he calls, tell him that I’m in meetings until further notice,” I reply. Let his ass stew for a while until I decide what I want to do with him… and we won’t be doing some simple shit like kidnapping his fucking dog, either.

“Yes, sir,” Andrea says.

“I know you’ve got a hundred meetings today, but you’re going to want to hear this,” Josh calls in my office from the reception area before I close the door. I gesture him in, and he closes the door behind him.

“Sir, let me start by saying that it’s not my business what you do in your private life, but I’m sure that you hired me because I’ve always got my ear to the ground and because I’m more insightful than most.” I already don’t like the sound of this.

“I’m listening,” I say as I gesture to the chair in front of my desk.

“Well, the puzzle is falling together, sir,” he says taking the seat. “Elena Lincoln is still talking to whomever will listen, but now she’s starting to say a little more.” I frown.

“A little more like what?” I ask.

“She’s saying things like people in high places are going to fall when her book is published,” he says. “She insinuated these things before, but she didn’t come out and say them. Now, she’s saying them—to other reporters and it’s filtering back down to me. I was going to make another trip back up there to see her, but I really don’t think I need to. Her diarrhea of the lips along with Ron Holstein’s foot-in-mouth syndrome has pretty much given me all I need.

“I should tell you that her conversation is not nearly as cloaked as she thinks it is. I only say that because it wouldn’t be wise to give away her story before publishing, or her book would be worthless. Bearing that in mind, I can only assume that she’s not fully aware of how much information she’s leaking and, sir, anybody with even the slightest inside hook would have no problem finding you in her code speak. What’s more is that they would probably find a few others, too… I did.”

Oh, fuck, this just keeps getting worse and worse.

“Okay, Josh, I need you to give it to me straight,” I say. “I can’t follow any more riddles.”

“Nineteen out of 20 journalists don’t have the background information or resources that I have,” he begins. “They could get it, but it would take a lot of work and even more time. By then, the story would be blown wide open. She didn’t give me the name of her ghostwriter, but she gave me her pen-name—BD Simmons. There’s no risk in giving me that because there’s nothing else published in that name. However, these ladies aren’t as savvy as they pride themselves to be.

“I don’t know what they’re expecting, but I can almost guarantee that Lincoln is counting on the safety of the prison walls, as ironic as that sounds. Her ghostwriter has anonymity on her side. For whatever reason, they’re both underestimating the danger of the situation. Knowing what I know about Lincoln—the public information and the inside information, you should know that it doesn’t take too much ingenuity to figure out what BD Simmons is an acronym for.”

No, it doesn’t. I figured it out the minute he said the name. BDSM.

“So, of course, the first thing I did was check her old haunts, her old sources, her submissives…” Jesus, this is so much more of this conversation than I really want to have with Josh. “The logical paths lead to three of her girls—two still studying journalism and one with a degree in literature. They all have other… interests at this time, according to Alex, but one has been visiting her at the prison, quite freely I might add.”

“And who is that?” I ask.

“That would be one named Greta Ellison. It didn’t take much more than context clues to figure out that she was BD Simmons.”

“Fucking hell!” I hiss, trying not to curse too loudly or crash something against the nearest wall. Why the fuck do I keep letting these people get away and the minute I let them out of my sight, they bite me?

“Get Welch in here!” I bark into the intercom.

“Yes, sir,” Andrea replies.

“You’re sure that Ellison might not be just filtering the information through to her? Like being a liaison between Lincoln and the ghostwriter?” I ask, not wanting to believe that I was gullible enough to set this bitch free instead of crushing her when I had the chance.

“Sir, to be able to stand in a court of law and tell you that Greta Ellison is Lincoln’s ghostwriter, I can’t. To look you in the eye and tell you with at least 95% certainty that Ellison is her ghostwriter, that I can do. No matter what your content, you can’t get a decent feel for the story—for what the real author wants to portray—without a face-to-face meeting. Even with every fact airtight and recited to you, you wouldn’t be able to relay a successful story without meeting personally with the subject, and Ms. Ellison does that a lot.”

She has no other reason to meet with Lincoln. There’s nothing for her to gain from the acquaintance, and I threatened her the last time we met. I let her ass go, but I threatened her…

And she threatened me.

 “You think you’re so much. You’re not untouchable, Mr. Grey, and I’m just the one to prove it!”

This should come as no surprise to me. I remember our first meeting. She wasn’t just an airhead when I interviewed her. She was brilliant. She was perfect. She knew all the right things to say and do to get me where she wanted me and that can’t be taught. She’s wily, cunning, sly, and conniving… and she’s smart. Now, she seems dead set to destroy me and my family by any means necessary. I’ve got to destroy her first.

The gloves are off… all the way off.

“I won’t say, ‘Good Morning,’” Alex says as he opens my office door. “I can already tell it’s well past fucked up.”

“That’s an understatement,” I say coolly, my mind travelling more miles per hour than I can clock. “Close the door and have a seat.” Alex enters and closes the door behind him.

“This thorn is never going to go away,” I say, standing from my chair and walking to the window. “She’s on the watch list. How was it that she was seeing Lincoln and we didn’t know?”

“The same way that she stole Her Highness’s gun, sir,” Alex says. He scrolls through his tablet and hands it to me.

“She’s like Ethan fucking Hunt, sir. She can physically turn herself into anyone, male or female. There’s no way to tell who she is when she leaves her home. We didn’t even know that she was visiting Lincoln until we worked our way backwards and reviewed Lincoln’s visitor logs…”

Do I even want to know how he got access to Lincoln’s visitor logs without Holstein’s cooperation?

“Then we coordinated the people leaving the apartment with the people returning. She hasn’t gotten smart enough to change disguises before she gets home. Then again, she doesn’t need to.”

I scroll through the pictures and see men and women of every nationality identified as Greta Ellison. I even had to turn the tablet around to confirm the person was her a few times. Height and build don’t change. Shape can be masked by clothing, but she’s definitely different people.

“A few times, she logged in to see Ron Holstein, so he’s definitely in on it,” Josh adds.

“Yeah, I figured as much,” I say, still swiping through the many faces of Greta. She’s dangerous—extremely dangerous—and she must be stopped.

“Josh, who have you deduced could also be in this book?” I ask. He twists his lips. He doesn’t want to tell me.

“High-profile officials,” he says. “Some politicians, philanthropists, businessmen like yourself…” That’s all I need.

“Any way to get word to them without totally letting the cat out of the bag?” I ask. “You know, they don’t need to know where the information is coming from and I don’t even need to know who they are… it’s better that I don’t. Just a little tip-off that they may soon be in a tell-all book about their dirty laundry that may make it look even dirtier than it really is.” His brow rises.

“I see what you mean. I may need your help, Alex,” he says.

“I’m at your disposal,” Alex says.

“Then, get on it,” I tell Josh. “I’ll have more questions for you once I sort my rambling thoughts.”

“I’ll keep you posted,” he says as he stands to leave.

“Alex, you stay. I need more information from you.” Josh pauses, but only briefly before he leaves the room. I go over to the desk and flip the switch that scrambles recording signals in my office, even my own.

“She’s a chameleon,” I say, once I know that I’m no longer being recorded. “She’s a fucking dangerous, pestilence ass chameleon that’s not going to fucking go away.” I walk to the window.

“Do you know that I presented her with proof that I knew she was the one that stole my wife’s gun?” I continue. “I had her pinned in a BDSM club between three people that could have killed her with our bare hands, confronted her, threatened her, and let her go and she still came back?” I hiss angrily.

“Yes, sir, I do,” he says. Of course, you do. It’s your job to know. It only takes a minute to ponder what needs to be done.

“Ellison is smart. She’s cunning and she’s brilliant. She gave that gun to a woman that she knew was unstable, delusional, desperate, and had a bone to pick with me. She knew what that woman was going to do with that damn gun, and she gave it to her anyway.”

“Yes, sir,” Alex concurs.

“That woman tried to kill me with that gun,” I say, handing him the tablet, “and had it not been for Jason, she would have succeeded. As an accessory, Ellison tried to kill me.” Alex cocks his head and ponders.

“With the right evidence, a court of law would say that you’re absolutely correct…”

“Fuck the court of law!” I bark. “Because of those two conniving, murderous cunts, my bodyguard and best friend took a bullet for me and that’s the only thing that saved my life and nearly cost him his!” Alex examines me.

“What do you propose?” he asks.

“Get started with Josh to alert the other officials that they’re technically in the hot seat. Between my world-class security team and my extremely savvy PR department, I’m sure innuendo can be circulated to the press without upheaval or suspicion.” Alex casts a knowing gaze upon me.

“You’re creating a smokescreen,” he says.

“I wouldn’t call it a smokescreen,” I reply, “just more people of interest. I was the center of her last trial. The spotlight is already going to be on me. I want to see how many other people we can cast center stage.”

“I know we’re not being recorded,” he says. “I need to know what you have in mind.”

“You know what I have in mind!” I retort sharply. “She’s a thorn, a deadly thorn in my side and she needs to be extracted… and her little dog, too.”

“Are we talking Lincoln or Ellison…”

“We’re talking both!” I say before the words are completely out of his mouth. “But we can’t be sloppy. The minute that smokescreen starts, I need shit to get rolling on the lot of them… Lincoln, Ellison, Holstein, and his haughty ass secretary, too.

“Why the secretar…?”

“Because she pissed me off!” I hiss… and she doesn’t know who she’s fucking dealing with. Alex straightens his back.

“What are we talking here, and in what order?” he asks.

“Punishments for Lincoln begin immediately—subtle at first, but by the time it’s over, she’ll know who it is.” I’ll come up with something creative for her at the end so that she won’t be willing or able to fuck with me ever again. “Save the secretary for last. I just want her seriously inconvenienced, extremely uncomfortable, and if I forget while pursuing the bigger fish, it’ll be your responsibility to make sure those wishes get carried out.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Holstein? Thorough retaliation—annihilation, if possible. My only requirement for him is that he gets to live,” I growl. “His begins the moment the signals start to rise from the smokescreen, so get that going now.”

“And Ellison?” he asks. I only glare at him. Ellison… big, little bitch with too much power, real and assumed. She’s become more than an inconvenience! I don’t know if she’s chasing money, fame, or revenge, but whichever it is, it’s going to cost her dearly. She has no idea how far this woman has taken her down the rabbit hole, if for no other reason but the information that she’s given her, let alone how she plans to use it.

My silence answers his question.

“Duly noted,” he says, rising from his seat. “Anything else?

“I want to be there for every step of what happens to Ellison until I tell you that I don’t,” I say.

“Yes, sir,” he says coolly before opening the door to leave the room. I know that I’ve already missed a meeting and Andrea didn’t inform me. She knows me so well that she probably knew to reschedule with me in a meeting with Josh and growling for Alex. Just as Alex reaches the elevator, I hear something I don’t think I’ve heard in all the years that she has worked for me.

Andrea raises her voice.

“Mr. Holstein, I don’t care who you are or who you think you are, but I am a professional, and unless you can conduct your calls to this office with a little professionalism and decorum in the future, I will disconnect your calls every time I hear your voice. How’s that for a short-skirted, pencil pushing answering machine… sir?

Whoa! Holstein said the wrong thing to the wrong person and Andrea’s giving him what-for on this end of the line.

“Well, if you think you haven’t gotten through to him before, let’s see how successful you are now!” She slams the receiver down and closes her eyes, taking a deep breath. Alex and I make eye-contact before he nods and boards the elevator. When Andrea opens her eyes, I’m peeking around the door jam at her.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Grey, but you don’t pay me enough to put up with the names he just called me.” My face falls.

“More than a ‘short-skirted, pencil-pushing answering machine?” I ask, as if that wasn’t bad enough.

“Much more,” she says, her voice low.

“The next time he calls, put him on hold,” I say. It’s time to put my plans into action for this fucker as soon as possible. I don’t disrespect Andrea and I won’t allow anyone else to do it, either. His dick has gotten way too big for his pants, and I’m about to whack it down a couple of inches.

*-*

Al was two steps ahead of me and conferred with my accounting department about the best way to itemize and categorize my assets for a will. He’s slowly working his way through the process, setting up a trust for each of the children and placing other items in a revocable living trust, and several other terms of mumbo-jumbo that I trust he’ll handle and explain to us when it’s time to sign the final documents. I inform him that we’ll plan to have dinner with him and Valerie and their significant others sometime this week to discuss some of the particulars and to get some things in writing should I and my Butterfly meet an untimely simultaneous demise. We set aside Wednesday for the meeting, pending Valerie and Elliot’s acceptance of the invitation and, of course, Butterfly’s approval.

It’s later than usual when I get home and all I can think is that I can’t wait to be in my wife’s arms. Today was packed full of catching up with whatever work and catastrophes that simply couldn’t be solved without my presence not to mention plotting revenge on my enemies. I didn’t even eat lunch, so I’m hungry in more ways than one. Just as we’re pulling into the garage, my cell rings.

“Grey,” I say without looking at the phone.

“Hello, Christian,” my mother’s voice says. I try not to sigh loudly into the phone. My last conversation with my mother involved her trying to get the inside scoop on what my wife’s plans are in terms of the Center. Now, she has spent an entire day with my wife… and she’s calling me. What is it now?

“Hey, Mom,” I say, trying to sound casual. “What’s up?”

“Is Anastasia home yet?” Why would she call me and ask me that? Why wouldn’t she call Butterfly? And yet…

“No…” I say, slow and uncertain, as I look over at the bin where her vehicle usually is and it’s empty. “Is everything okay?”

“She’s probably just still at the Center,” Mom says. “You may want to go down there and get her. It’s been a long day.” I’m noticing that my mother’s tone is a bit labored, like she’s extremely tired.

“What happened, Mom?” I ask. “Did you two have a fight?”

“No, we didn’t have a fight,” she says, slightly exasperated, “and you said that you were going to stay out of it, so that’s what you should do.”

Well!

“I didn’t call you for that reason, anyway,” she continues. “I called you because, like I said, it’s been a long day and she was still closed in her office when I left, so it might be a good idea for you to go and get her.”

Jesus Christ. This day has already been horrific. The last time I popped up on my wife at the Center unannounced… no, I won’t think that way. Mom says I should probably go and get her, so I’m going to get her.

“Okay, Mom, I’m on my way now,” I say, and Jason looks over the seat at me.

“Okay. Goodbye now.” And just like that, she ends the call. What the hell happened at the Center today? I’m just looking at my phone wondering what’s going to be waiting for me when I get to Butterfly.

“Sir?” Jason says, reminding me that we’re still sitting in the car.

“We’re going to the Center,” I inform him.

“What’s wrong?” he says with concern.

“Nothing that I know of, but Butterfly isn’t here and she most likely still has the children with her. I’d like to go and bring them home.” He twists his lips at me. “While we’re on our way, you can call Chuck and make sure that everything is okay, but my mother just called and told me to go get my wife, so I’d like to see her, okay?”

There. I’m not trying to catch her in anything, nor do I think I would. I just want to go get her.

“Very well, sir,” he says, and starts the car again. As we’re crossing the bridge, he put Chuck on the speaker.

“As far as I know, she’s fine,” Chuck says through the speakers. As far as he knows…?

“Why wouldn’t you know?” I ask.

‘Because she’s been holed up in her office all afternoon,” he says. “She hasn’t come out and when I went to check on her, she called through the door, ‘Leave me alone! I’m busy!’ So, knowing that she’s okay, I did what she asked and left her alone. I do know—through the grapevine—that she and Grace had an intense conversation today and Grace didn’t look happy when she left. She stayed all day, but she was less than pleased.”

“Why are you telling us this?” Jason asks.

“Because I think that’s why she’s still in the office,” he said. I sigh.

“She fought with Mom,” I say. Mom said they didn’t fight. Jesus, the day was at least as hard for her as it was for me and now, she’s hiding out. “Thanks, Chuck,” I say.

“You’re welcome, sir,” he says and ends the call. Jason looks at me, questioning.

“The mission hasn’t changed. Get me to my wife.” I wonder if she’s hiding from me thinking her argument with my mother is going to cause us a problem? I’m even more eager to get to her now than I was before.

Hurry up, Jason. She needs me…


ANASTASIA

“She hasn’t given you any idea when she’s coming back? Or if she’s coming back?” Courtney asks.

“Neither,” I tell her. “She’s never taken a day off in her life that I can remember, not even for doctor’s appointments…” which makes me question when she ever went before the whole pregnancy scare. “Then she takes them all at once. I’m still depositing her check into her account because she has nearly a lifetime in sick time accrued and she only ever used vacation time when I did so…” I trail off.

“Well, I’m certain that I won’t be as efficient as Mare was, but I’ll be happy to fill in for her the best that I can.” I sigh.

“Thank you, Courtney. Every little bit helps. I know that you have your own set of responsibilities here and I won’t interfere with your work, but of course I’ll pay you extra for helping me out. If Marilyn hasn’t decided what she plans to do at least by the new year, I’ll look into hiring someone more permanent.” It hurts to say that.

“I hope everything is okay with her. This is so out of her character. It had to be something really bad, and no, I’m not pumping you for information.” She looks down at her notepad and writes something on it.

“How are things with you and Addie?” I ask. Courtney raises her gaze to me.

“Still a little tense, but we’re talking,” she says. “Grandfather has made it clear that I’m still not getting any money from them and I’ve made it clear that I never intended to see them again, so the last thing I expect from them at this point is money. I don’t think I would want it even if they offered it to me. It reminds me too much of who I was and what I was doing… and how I felt when Grandmother disowned me. No… I think I’ll be happier earning my own way and making a life with Vick, whatever that life may be.”

“I’m glad that the two of you are talking, but you know I had nothing to do with this, right?” She rubs my forearm.

“Yes, Ana… I know,” she says. “Grandmother says you only talked about it after she confronted you. I know you would never betray my trust.”

“That’s what’s most important to me,” I tell her. “I’m all for a happy ending, but I won’t take credit for a victory that means you think I betrayed your confidence.”

“I know better,” she says with a smile. “I knew from the very beginning that it wasn’t you. I knew when I saw your face when I walked into your office. I may have been focused on Grandmother, but you were clearly horrified,” she adds matter-of-factly. “We’ve… got a long way to go. I don’t know if it’ll ever be back the way it was. Maybe it’s better if it’s not. Scratch that—it’s definitely better if it’s not.” She folds her arms around her body. “I… don’t like that Courtney. I don’t know how I lived with her for so long. No matter what happens, I don’t think I could ever go back to being her. For one thing, I’m sure I’d lose Vick. She won’t take any of my crap. She calls me on my shit any and every time I try to pull it, and she supports me in everything I do. What’s more, she knew me when I was that other crazy bitch, and she still loves me. Can you imagine?”

“Your grandmother knew and loved you, too,” I point out.

“No, she didn’t,” Courtney corrects. “She may have loved me, but she didn’t know me. She thought she knew me. She knew the façade. When she saw the real me, she thought that was the façade. When she found out that it wasn’t, she couldn’t take it. That’s why she sent me away.” She sighs and stands.

“I’m going to find something to do now,” she says. “I’ll be at your beck and call of course, but as you know, there’s lots that need my special attention… and I do better when I’m moving around.” She goes to the door, opens it and steps out. I follow her to the door.

“You’re sure this isn’t going to be too much for you,” I reinforce.

“Nah,” she says, hugging her laptop. “Outlook isn’t a foreign language for me. We use it in school for the syllabi and to keep up with our classes. I just have to spend a little time deciphering Mare’s hieroglyphics and we’ll be fine. Plus, I get an up close and personal look into the super-secret life of Anastasia Grey.”

She does a spooky little wiggle of her fingers and smiles before walking away down the hallway. I turn to go back into my office, but a shadow catches my eye. She doesn’t move or speak, but I can see her standing in her doorway, or at least her shadow cast on the floor of the hallway. I say nothing. I just go into my office and close the door.

Now, she’s lurking. She won’t even face me. Yet another reason why I feel this is no longer the place for me. There was a job that needed to be done here—some things that needed to be fixed. I fixed them. I did my job, but the job isn’t completely finished. So, I’m going to finish my job here and then I’m going to find something else to do.

What, I have absolutely no idea. Maybe I’ll get in touch with Josephine Kennedy, our sponsor for Broadmoor. She’ll probably have some suggestions. I don’t need to be in any kind of executive position. I just want to be somewhere that I can do some good and my opinion is valued.

Knowing that I don’t have much time to implement the learning programs needed before the school year starts, I immediately get to work researching the necessary requirements for a learning coordinator. I fire off a text to Keri to meet me in the office as soon as she has a moment.

Every time someone knocks at my office door, I get the willies. I don’t want to talk to Grace at all, to have her confront me about my absence or to rehash why I feel like she should treat me with more respect and consideration. These things should be understood. You hired me to do a job; then let me do it and don’t interfere with it. If you’re going to interfere and do things your way, what do you need me for?

Anyway, this time, it’s Keri at my door.

“Ya wanted ta seh meh, Annah?” she asks cautiously when she enters the room.

“Yes, please, come in,” I say. She slowly walks in and takes a seat. I can tell that she’s nervous, so I get straight to the point. “I need your help.” She looks shocked.

“You do?” she says, her surprise evident. I nod.

“First, I need to ask how the process is going with getting your teaching certificate here in the states. Were you still planning to do that, or had you changed your mind?”

“Noh! I mean, yes! I mean…” She’s terribly nervous. I’ve never called her into my office in an official capacity, ever, and she’s not quite sure how to handle it.

“Keri,” I say, rising from my seat and walking over to her. “Relax. You’re not in any trouble or anything like that. I just… I’m trying to kill two birds with one stone. I need some information and I just want to know what your immediate plans are.” Keri sighs heavily and rolls her eyes a bit.

“Ah’m sawtty, Annah,” she says. “Ah jus feel lak Ah’m bein’ cawled to da ptincipal’s awfice!” She laughs. In effect, she is, but only because the principal needs her help.

“I understand,” I say.

“Yes, I steel plan on gettin’ mah teachin’ cehtificate heyah. Ah cahl de school bohd ahnd dey sey Ah got ta tek de necesetty exams foh residency. Ah alreaty apply foh the exams since mah degtee is enough foh da requyment. So, Ah’m wehtin’ foh dem ta tell meh when da test gwine be and Ah should be okay.”

“They didn’t say anything about your citizenship or anything like that?” I ask.

“Ah’m heh on a work visa. Ah can keep dah sem visa or get a new one if I choose to teach. Ah wold luv to teach, Annah. I miss me bebbies.” I know that she’s talking about her students in Anguilla.

“Have you thought about becoming a resident?” I ask. She shrugs.

“Anguilla ask de sem ding when I cawled for mah recohds an cehtifications. Dey say, ‘ahe ya gwine stey dere in da states or ya come back to Anguilla?’ I tell dem it not my immediate plan ta stey, but don know what happen in de furtah.” I frown.

“You may go back to Anguilla?” I ask sadly.

“Me don know,” she says honestly. “Anguilla me home. I could nevah leave hah forevah. But me heart wit me Choonks. Das wheh Ah mus be.” That’s an enigmatic response.

“Does Chuck know that you’re somewhat on the fence about returning to Anguilla?” I ask. She nods. “How does he feel about it? He can’t be happy.”

“He not,” she says. “He tinks me run out da doh anyday wit mah bags. I tell him, ‘Choonks, don tek it dat weh. Ah jes not wannah lose meh woots, das all. Jes like yah not wannah stey in Anguilla becuz yah home heyah, I no wannah be in Anguilla witout yah, but Anguilla me home, too. Meh woots deyah. I don wanna lose dat.’”

“So, we’re not talking about packing your bags and moving back to Anguilla when your visa is over. We’re just talking about being able to go back to Anguilla as you please so that you don’t forget your roots.”

“Yeh,” she says, confidently. “I noh move back to Anguilla. Lek I seh, mah heart wit me Choonks. Ah havta be wheh he is.” I sigh heavily. It would be a devastating day all around if we lose Keri.

“Well, that’s good to hear,” I admit. “My second question is more detailed. You worked with small children in Anguilla, right?”

“Yeh, all me bebbies primery school, some younga,” she says. I nod.

“I’m trying to come up with a plan of action to get started with our early-learning program when the school year starts. I have some good solid ideas that we presented to get our licensing and accreditation, but now we need to tweak it and get it ready to roll out. I could really use some help.”

I confer with Keri about what direction we should take in terms of curriculums. I know that the subjects in Anguilla will most likely probably vary from the subjects in America, only because of the difference in culture and the direction of the curriculum as it relates to the region, but I’m certain that the basis is the same. I’ve done a little research to get a basic framework, but I’m definitely going to need some help in nailing down the particulars.

Keri turns out to be invaluable. We’re at it for hours fine-tuning our curriculum and learning plans. We’ve already done some interviewing for teachers and tutors, and we’ll have to make some decisions this week, which means that whether I want to or not, I’ll have to meet with Grace.

There’s no use putting it off.

Once I’ve finished with the basic curriculum, I ask Keri to look it over and see if there’s anything else that we may need. I don’t want to present this outline and framework to the teachers and tutors that I plan to hire, and it turns out to be total garbage. Then I send a text to Grace that we need to chat about the teaching staff and to let me know when she’s available to do so.

It was like carving my tooth out with a chisel just to send the text.

Not half an hour after I hit send, Grace is at my door.

“May I come in?” she asks. I sigh inwardly.

“Please,” I say, standing and gesturing to the seat in front of me. She enters and sits down, and I close the door behind her. I jump right in.

“The school year is starting in a few weeks and I don’t want to be caught unprepared like we have these last terms,” I say, picking up the papers showing the progress that Keri and I made and handing it to her. “We already conducted several interviews and with where we plan to start, I would think we don’t need too much staff right now—a few teachers and a tutor or two and someone to act as principal or superintendent just over the scholastic portion of the program…”

I continue discussing what I think would be the best direction for the preschool and tutoring program—afterschool classes, playgroups, and eventually, a possible part-time homeschool, particularly for at-risk families, namely residents in the dorms while Grace looks over the proposals and plans that Keri and I have collaborated on so far.

“You’ve been quite busy,” she says raising her eyes to me. “I’m glad the Center won’t suffer because of our disagreement.”

I wouldn’t say that just yet, Grace.

I continue the conversation as if nothing had been said about our disagreement and make suggestions as well as request input on who would be the best candidates for the positions we would like to fill as we really need to get the ball rolling like right now. Grace gives her opinions on who she thinks will fit the immediate bill and luckily, except for one, they were the same people that I think will work best. I cede to her judgment for the last person, selfishly thinking that if they didn’t work out, I wouldn’t have to be the one to contend with it. She would.

It’s a bit late in the afternoon when we bang out our initial steps and final choices, and I’m more than ready to discontinue the conversation. I’m not, however, ready to pick up the conversation that she wants to have.

“I really feel I did the right thing,” she says with conviction.

“Grace, this conversation is moot,” I say matter-of-factly. The time for us to have this conversation has passed.

“You won’t even discuss it with me?” she asks, her voice rising an octave in disbelief.

“No,” I say finitely. “I don’t want to fight with you or dispute this with you anymore. What you did could have had disastrous results, and if you can’t understand that, there’s nothing for us to discuss.” She sighs.

“Fine. I was wrong,” she says, almost like a petulant child. I shake my head.

“You don’t get it,” I say. “I’m not looking for capitulation. I don’t need you to admit that you were wrong. I need you to see that you were wrong. Courtney had come miles from where she started. Her progress was fucking immeasurable. Addie barely recognized her as the hell that she sent back to her hellhole hometown. What you did could have set her back far beyond her starting point, and what would you have to say had that happened? What could you have possibly said to me—to Courtney—had you, in your self-proclaimed omnipotence, destroyed all the work that she put in to achieve what she achieved?”

“Can’t you see that sometimes, everything isn’t answered by theory and book-smarts? Sometimes—oftentimes—there’s emotion involved, and you just have to go with your gut?” Her voice is beseeching.

“I can see that, Grace, but can you?” I retort. “Logic dictates that the strides made by Courtney should have had her running back to Addie to present her new self—to show her grandmother that she was nothing like the person Addie last saw. The fact that her grandmother felt that she was nothing, she had to prove her wrong—for herself, but in the process, she made it clear that she wanted nothing to do with the source of her uncertainty. When they parted ways, Addie pretty much told her that she was better off dead. She cremated and buried Courtney’s mother this past summer with no pomp and circumstance, and you just take it upon yourself to say, ‘Oh, it’s a good idea to shove these two into each other’s faces!’ If you can’t see what’s wrong with that, just how fucked up a judgment call that was, then you’ll do it again and I can’t tolerate seeing all my hard work destroyed that way. I might as well go back to my practice.”

“I… I… I didn’t know…” she stammers.

“Of course, you didn’t know!” I bark. “There’s a lot you didn’t know! I’m the psychiatrist! I have all the inside scoops on what’s going on in these people’s minds because that’s what I do! And you had the audacity to be offended because I pointed that out! I don’t diagnose the intricate illness of children—that’s your specialty, not mine! But they share their deepest, darkest secrets with me because of my station and I act accordingly! She trusted me! She trusted me with her secrets and her feelings, with her life! And you exploited that! Can’t you see that? Can’t you see that you orchestrated a train wreck that could have destroyed them both and they just got lucky and walked away?”

“I… was just… following my instincts,” she says, resigned.

“Well, congratulations, doctor,” I say, clasping my hands on the table. “This time, your instincts were correct, and in the process, you undermined everything I do. The very basis of my profession is privacy and trust—respecting the rights of the patient. You know the Hippocratic Oath, and you totally disregarded mine, then haughtily walked away smiling when you did it. I can’t work like that. I can’t have someone’s mental well-being in my hands and in the back of my head, constantly fearing that you’re going to make a decision that’s going to unravel the intricate tapestry that I’ve taken months… or years… to create with one of my patients based on your instincts.” I silently shake my head, indicating that this is definitely a no-go for me.

Grace bites her lip and takes a seat, humbly clasping her hands in her lap.

“Can you, for just a moment, see where I’m coming from?” she says, her voice shaking slightly.

“No…” I begin.

“Please… let me finish,” she beseeches without raising her eyes. It’s my turn to be petulant, but I just defiantly fold my arms and sit mute.

“Addie… is my friend,” she begins. “She’s been my friend for a long, long time—even longer than that crazy bitch who victimized my son.”

That kind of stings… and causes me to let my guard down a little.

“You may have known how Courtney felt, but I knew how Addie felt. She felt hurt and betrayed, and that’s what made her say the things she said to Courtney, but most of all, she was heartbroken. She felt that she would die and have nothing to show for her bloodline. She had such high hopes for Courtney, and when she saw those hopes dashed to the rocks…” She stops and swallows.

“I’m not saying that you wouldn’t understand,” she says. “You’re a mother, so you have to know that we only want what’s best for our children. Courtney’s mother was such a disappointment and Addie had her hopes in Courtney even when everybody told her that it would be a lost cause. When she finally accepted that those hopes were destroyed, it was the most traumatizing thing that had ever happened to her. She tried to move on, but she was crushed.

“That’s the reason I advocated for Courtney in the first place,” she adds. “After everything that she had done and all the problems she had caused, I just wanted to help my friend. It was wonderful seeing the progress that she was making, but Addie was still hurting… deeply hurt. We didn’t hear anything about her daughter because she couldn’t mourn her daughter. To her, it was all a lost cause.

“I found out about Adele—that’s her daughter’s name—at Mia’s wedding. I had been trying to indirectly arrange a meeting ever since. I knew Courtney was at the wedding, but by the time I had heard about Adele, Courtney had already left.

“When I say that I was trusting my instincts, Ana, I’m not just saying that I thought it was a good idea. My friend was suffering, and I just didn’t want to see her suffering anymore… and I knew that seeing Courtney—how beautiful she is and how far she’s come—would do her some good.” I roll my eyes nearly to the point of agony.

“Why. Didn’t you. Explain that to me?” I nearly seethe. “Why didn’t you come and talk to me?”

“Because just like you had confidences, I had confidences…” she begins.

“But it was okay for you to disregard mine!” I nearly shout, causing Grace to jump a bit in her seat.

Settle down, Grey.

I take a deep breath and address the situation again.

“The progress that I made with Courtney in eleven short months is more than I’ve done with a lot of people in years, and you could have undone all of that. That’s what I need you to see. This situation is the epitome of that old saying about the road to hell and good intentions. I can appreciate that you saw your friend suffering and you wanted that suffering to stop, but your. Methods. Were wrong. You threw a blowtorch into a vat of gasoline and prayed that it wouldn’t explode, and instead of alienating one person, you could have alienated three—one of which was your very close friend.

“As much as I want to say that the biggest betrayal here was to Courtney’s right to privacy and to Addie’s suffering, I can’t even say that,” I say, and she raises glassy eyes to me. Yeah, this is going to sting, Dr. Grace, so get ready for it. “The biggest betrayal is that you dismissed me. You dismissed my expertise and my feelings. It caused friction in my marriage and discord in my professional life. But you know what’s even worse, Grace? What you probably never even considered even up to this very moment? You. Destroyed. My trust! Did you think about that? Did you think about the fact that I have to trust the person that I work with and I don’t trust you anymore?

“I can’t be effective under those conditions, and I can’t just wave that off. When you’re dealing with the human mind, at any given moment someone’s sanity can be hanging in a delicate balance. One wrong word, one wrong action, can be the difference between a breakthrough and suicide—and I’m not exaggerating.” I immediately think of Ace’s shark’s tooth.

“I should have come and talked to you,” she says just above a whisper, her voice cracking.

“Yes,” I say softly, but firmly. “You should have…” and now, it’s probably too late. Grace takes a deep, shuddering breath and stands.

“Let me know what you decide to do,” she says without raising her eyes to me. “I’ll understand either way.” She turns and quickly walks out of my office. I hear her heels clicking at a quick pace down the hall and just before she closes the door to her office, I hear her begin to weep.

Dear God in heaven, I think to myself as my face falls on my arms on my desk, my hair splayed wildly over my hands and arms like a blanket. What am I going to do now…?

*-*

“Hey…”

My head feels like lead and my eyes hurt from crying. I can only imagine that I look like pure hell from having cried myself to sleep at my desk and when I turn towards the soft, melodic voice, my husband is looking lovingly at me while stroking my hair out of my face.

“Hey,” I barely squeak out. “What are you doing here?”

“It’s late… and Mom called me,” he says. “She told me that you were still in your office when she left and that it might be a good idea if I came to get you.”

“I don’t know what to do, Christian,” I lament, on the brink of tears again.

“Well, you won’t think about it tonight,” he says cupping my cheek. “Right now, I’m going to take you home, bathe you, feed you, and make love to you. Then, you can conquer this in the morning.”

I don’t have the will or desire to fight him. I’m tired of thinking, dreaming, fretting about this whole thing. It’s getting on my nerves. I stand and proceed to leave the building and had it not been for Chuck, I might have left without my children. Mom of the year.

My husband keeps his promise, making sure that I was fed, bathed, and loved. Nonetheless, at 2:49 in the morning, I find myself staring at the ceiling while he’s sleeping comfortably next to me. I don’t know how long I’ve been lying here, but I decide that I don’t want to lie here anymore. I quietly roll out of bed and retrieve the first shirt that I can find. It’s the linen shirt that Christian wore to work, and it smells like him. It’s comforting. I put it on and button it before leaving our suite.

The children are sound asleep and I don’t want to disturb them, so I go to the kitchen to get something to drink. After I fix a spritzer, I sit at the breakfast bar, trying to think of something to do. I look at my phone and begin to scroll through it. Some time between the time I got home and now, my contacts, calendar, and apps had all been moved to the new phone.

When did he find time to do that?

I had already forwarded my calls to the new phone, but it’s probably time to leave the new number on the old message so that I can retire my 4S soon. I decide to take a look at my emails. I had cleared most of them at work, but I hadn’t looked at the junk mail to see if anything had been misrouted.

Sure enough, something had.

To: Anastasia Steele-Grey
Re: Web Presence
Date: Saturday, December 13, 2014, 14:14
From: Laura Kelly

Hey there, Sheila!

Just a little nudge from down under to remind you to finish setting up your social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—but start with Facebook. It’s probably best for social media virgins. I know you said you had to talk to your PR people before you could pull the trigger. Remember what I showed ya!

Jax was a little depressed after visiting his mum’s grave, even more depressed when we got back to the ship and there was no Chris to shoot the shit with. You’ll have to come back and see us sometimes, or we’ll look you up next time we’re in the States.

Look for LauraLee Kelly on Facebook. You can’t miss me!

Missing you guys already!
Laura

Laura showed me the basics while we were on the cruise and we ran around her social media accounts a bit, but we never actually set up an account for me.

Social media. Facebook. Hmmm…

Screw PR. I’ll just create an alias.

I go to iTunes and download the Facebook app. Sign up with an email.

Back up.

I go to Gmail and create an alias email just for this purpose. You can’t be too careful.

First name… Anastasia

Last name… hmmm.

Lambert.

There’s no taboo attached to that name for me anymore. It’s a name that I used to escape, and I escaped, so…

Welcome to Gmail!

Back to Facebook.

Sign up. What’s your name?

Anastasia Lambert.

Hmm… it still feels too obvious.

Mercer Mistress… Hell, no!

Mercer Doctor Lady.

Good enough for now.

Upload a profile picture…

Butterflies!

I do a quick internet search and find a picture of a black and white butterfly that reminds me of Marty.

Perfect!

I download it to my phone, then upload it as my profile picture.

Invite your friends… well, I only have one that I know of on social media…

LauraLee Kelly. I need her email. Nah, I’ll look her up and invite her to be my friend. It’s faster.

I have access!

LauraLee Kelly.

She’s right. I find her quickly and send a friend request. I create the same account with Twitter, then I make the mistake of going to Facebook and Twitter and doing a search for my name.

There are a million of me!

I could make a page with my real name and no one would be any wiser, but no. I’ll hide behind Mercer Doctor Lady. Not very creative or catchy, I know, but it’ll fit the bill. I answer a few questions about books and hobbies.

There’s nothing on my timeline since I don’t have any friends, so I see what Facebook has to offer.

Videos… relationship advice… reality TV snippets… groups that might interest me… comedy…

I like comedy.

I watch several comedy videos and share many of them to my timeline.

I’m dying laughing over Steve Harvey and Family Feud…

Ellen Degeneres, well, I love her. I follow her and Steve on Facebook.

The Real Housewives of what? Where? What real housewives behave this way? And you’re still married? These women need to get a damn life!

“What are you doing down here?”

I’m startled by Christian coming to the kitchen in his pajama pants. I’m even more startled by something else…

Daylight.

“I was just… I couldn’t sleep,” I say. Hell if I’m telling him I spent all night on Facebook. His gaze softens.

“I didn’t do my job, then,” he says, closing the space between us. I put my phone down and sigh.

“It’s not you,” he says, “and I don’t want to pull you into the middle of what’s happening between me and your mother.”

“She said you didn’t fight, but I have a feeling you did,” he says. I look up at him.

“You thought I fought with your mother and you still brought me home and took care of me?” he shrugs.

“She’s my mother and I love her very much, but she went home to her husband. You’re my responsibility.” I wrap my arms around his waist and lean on his chest.

“I love you,” I say, breathing in his scent.

“I love you, too,” he says. I sigh. “You’re holding it in. You have to tell somebody.” I lean back and look up at him, twisting my lips.

“She looked like a broken puppy when she left my office, and I heard her crying,” I say. “She broke us… plain and simple. She broke us as a team. I have to trust who I’m working with. That’s it. I don’t expect you to take sides here, I really don’t, but I have to say it out loud. She broke us. She broke the team, and I don’t know if it can be fixed.”

“Any idea what it would take to be fixed?” he asks.

“Time, for one,” I admit, “and I’m not sure I’m willing to put it in.” She begged me last year to give Courtney a chance and I did, and we built something, and then she tossed it out like trash. Fuck how Courtney was feeling; fuck what Courtney wanted; Addie was more important.

“You’re taking it really personal, baby. Can you tell me why?” he asks.

“Because this could be anybody,” she says. “This could be a scared and battered wife and mother hiding from her abusive husband. I put in the work and get to the core of this girl’s deepest, darkest secrets—get her to where she’s not afraid to fall asleep at night; to where she finally sees that she’s out from under the oppression of her abusive husband and can do something with her life… move forward like Marlow’s mother did. And then Grace somehow brings the abusive father back into the picture. All that work I’ve done for nothing, and her only excuse and reasoning is that she’s following her instincts.

“Yes, that’s more graphic. Addie wasn’t abusive, but Courtney was crushed, crushed enough to never want to see her grandmother again, and Grace disregarded that… disregarded her feelings, disregarded her wishes, disregarded my work as a person and a professional. It’s very personal, Christian. How can I work with someone like that?”

“Then… why were you crying?” he asks.

“Because I obviously hurt her, and I didn’t mean to. We didn’t fight, but I was merciless in my explanations. She put her friend’s feelings over all professionalism and trust, the very basis of my profession. If she’s going to make decisions over my head without any consideration for my wishes, opinions, or input, then why am I there? I feel strongly about that, but I didn’t mean to hurt her—and I don’t know if she was hurt over understanding what she did to me or the concept of losing me.” He hugs me again.

“You’ll figure it out, baby. I know you will,” he encourages, “but doesn’t it feel better to get it out?”

“A little,” I say, sinking into his embrace.

“What have you been doing down here all night?” he asks. I twist my lips and look up at him, then push my phone over to him.

“Facebook?” he says, mirthfully. “You’ve been on Facebook all night?”

“Watching videos,” I say. “I don’t have any friends online.”

“You’ve got one, Mercer Doctor Lady,” he says and hands my phone back to me.

Laura accepted my friend’s request.


A/N: Ethan Hunt is Tom Cruise’s character in Mission Impossible. He was a master of disguise and could make himself or anyone else look like anyone anywhere.

Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/raising-grey/

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, 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.

~~love and handcuffs

 

 

 

Fifty Shades Golden: Chapter 18

This is a work of creativity. As such, you may see words, concepts, scenes, actions, behaviors, pictures, implements, and people that may or may not be socially acceptable and/or offensive. If you are sensitive to adverse and alternative subject matter of any kind, please do not proceed, because I guarantee you’ll find it here. You have been warned. Read at your own risk.

Explicit details of sex and BDSM scenes from here on out. Some may be hot while others may not be to your taste… and not necessary CG with Ana together. Proceed at your own discretion, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

This ain’t your everyday Christian and Ana story. Don’t expect anything. Just read it as it goes along or go away. I do not own Fifty Shades Trilogy, or the characters. They belong to E. L. James. I am only exercising my right to exploit, abuse, and mangle the characters to MY discretion in MY story in MY interpretation as a fan. If something that I say displeases you, please, just leave. If you don’t like this story or me, please don’t spoil this experience for everyone. Just go away. For the rest of you, the new saga continues…

Chapter 18

Eric Dane 18

TREY

“We think it was Linc, but was it really him?” Wester asks, reviewing the article about Linc being extradited back to the states and now in custody of the Kirkland Police.

“It was him,” I reply. “I’d bet my fucking fortune on it. Elena is beat all to hell not two hours after he leaves GEH with a bloody nose, and come morning, he’s gone.”

“That’s my concern,” Wester says, folding the paper and putting it back on my desk. “You’ve been cleared of beating Elena Lincoln. Is there any possible way that you can be pinned for his face looking that way? That would clear him for beating Elena and pin you for beating him.” I hadn’t even thought of that.

“Wouldn’t he need some kind of proof that I hit him?” I ask. “A witness, or DNA, which he certainly doesn’t have? Besides, I hit him in the nose and that was it. That man looks like he’s been through Saigon!” Wester nods.

“This is true,” he says. “There’re all kinds of holes in the story that Linc won’t be able to fill. First, his wife falsely accuses you. If he tries to accuse you, too, it’s likely that no one would believe him even though you knocked the stuffing out of his ass. It’s obvious that he exhibits all the benchmarks of a guilty man, but I look beyond the obvious, sir. I look for all the loopholes that some sleazy DA or some gung-ho cop can use to make the big pin and do the famous televised perp-walk. That’s why I’m asking if there’s anything at all that can link you to assaulting that man?”

I twist my lips and ponder the situation. I like the way he thinks. He’s three steps ahead of everything and he’s got raw killer instincts. Once we got him out of here, I didn’t think twice about Linc or anything that he thought he might have been able to do to me. I had shown him who’s boss and he dare not cross me.

Until…

“There’s nothing I can think of besides the fact that he left here with a bloody nose,” I say. “If someone saw him leave, or his exit was caught on someone’s exterior security camera somewhere…” Wester nods.

“We’ll prepare for that eventuality,” he says, typing into his phone. Fuck, I’m glad he’s on my side.

“Could this whole thing be a scheme or plot of some kind between him and his wife? To nail me for this so that I can become a non-factor in his lumber interests while negating the cases that I have against his wife?” Wester nodded.

“It would be quite the coup, but it could. From what I know about Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln, I don’t think they collaborate that way.”

“Don’t put it past them,” I say, typing into my computer. “A common enemy can create an alliance between the Hatfields and the McCoys.” He purses his lips.

“You’re thinking like me,” he says, with raised eyebrows.

“How do you know you’re not thinking like me?” I ask. He laughs and shakes his head.

“I’ll cede this one to you this time, Mr. Grey, because you’re the boss… but I think you know better.” Asshole. He’s a straight shooter and a straight cutter. He’s just what I need for my team.

“I want my mugshots back,” I inform him. “I never should have been booked and I don’t want those in the system.”

“I’ll get on it,” he says. I bring up my email and see that the piece that I’ve commissioned is ready to be shipped. Fucking hell, it took long enough. I asked for the damn thing nearly a week ago. She’s going to think I completely forgot my tribute. I pay the fortune it costs to have it shipped overnight and order another case of the gold-infused vodka to accompany it.

I’ve been resisting the urge to touch my lips all day, her kissed still bruised in my skin like it was yesterday. It’s my turn to leave an impression.


Briana Evigan 18

GOLDEN

Just when I thought I was in the clear for that temporary slip of the lips, it comes back to bite me in the ass. A week after I absent-mindedly kissed Trey after a scene, I get two pretty fucking remarkable gifts…

Another case of the gold-infused vodka, as if he knew that I had run out…

And a golden sculpture of lips—a very large sculpture of golden lips. They’re like two-feet wide.

“He seems infatuated with the anatomy,” Blake says, eyeing the lips.

“This is gaudy,” I say, pointing to the horrid thing. “This is something I would expect to see in someone’s psychedelic 1970’s bachelor pad along with horrible shag carpet, beaded curtains, and lava lamps. How dare he send me something like this!” Blake examines the sculpture carefully.

“If I can be so bold, Mistress,” he says, “this is certainly not some gaudy piece worthy of a 1970’s bachelor pad.” He lifts the sculpture. “This—like the statue—was commissioned. Even though there may be others out there like it, this is a custom piece. It’s not mass-produced, it’s made of gold fiberglass, and it was created by an international artist. That writing on the bottom is German. As you well know, the States doesn’t have many mass imports from Germany.”

“It’s still gaudy,” I maintain.

“It’s not gaudy, Mistress,” Blake retorts. “It may not be to your taste, but it’s not gaudy. Like the statue, Mr. Grey wants you to know that your body has left a lasting impression on him. This time, it was your lips.” I shake my head. This can’t happen.

“How do you know so much?” I ask him.

“It didn’t come easily,” he says. “What would you like to do with it?”

“Ship it to his home address,” I say without hesitating. “I’ll keep the vodka, but not the lips. Please make it clear that I don’t want it returned.”

“Very well, Mistress,” he says, and he takes the ugly thing and the packing that came with it and leaves the room. This is not part of the plan, Trey. If you want this to continue, you have to get your head out of the clouds. In fact…

I pull out my phone and fire off a text to him.

**The kiss was a mistake. It won’t happen again. **

*-*

“So, you kissed him,” Kevin says as we eat lunch after our yoga session later that week.

“Yeah. Temporary insanity,” I admit.

“Or could you just like the guy?” He raises a brow at me.

“I like his dick,” I say finitely, eating some of my fried zucchini. He scoffs.

“And you’ve never seen a dick you’ve liked before,” he says, his voice low, “because it’s obvious that you’ve never voluntarily kissed some guy… at least not in the current context.” He takes a big bite of his burger.

“I’ve seen other dicks that I’ve liked,” I say after swallowing my food. “And actually, I choose one person a month to kiss. So, yes, I have voluntarily kissed someone else before.”

“So, what’s so different about this one?” This one wasn’t the one I chose to be this month. In fact, I hadn’t chosen anyone to be this month…

“I just got carried away. It happens,” I say dismissively.

“Really?” he says, his mouth full of burger. “And how often has that happened to you?” he confronts.

“That’s not the point…”

“It’s exactly the point!” Kevin laughs. “You may be starting to feel something and it’s scaring the shit out of you. Is it the fact that you’re feeling something or the fact that you’re feeling something for him?”

“I’m feeling something for his dick!” I clarify, louder this time. A few people in the café turn and look at us.

“I’m sorry to be the one to burst your little bubble, Annie, but there’s a body attached to that dick!” he says, just as loudly as I do. “You can’t just cut it off and pretend that it doesn’t exist.”

“I may not be able to cut it off,” I say, lowering my tone, “but I have absolutely no problem pretending the body doesn’t exist. You wouldn’t understand, because you don’t adore the penis like I do.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t kiss his penis,” Kevin says, taking a bite from a fry.

Yeah, there is that.

“What I’m so miffed about,” he says, wiping ketchup from his mouth, “is that I didn’t think you were even slightly interested in that kind of relationship at all, so I didn’t even try.”

“I’m still not interested,” I clarify. “Like I said, it was temporary insanity and it won’t happen again. God, I wish I hadn’t even brought it up now.”

“You brought it up because you needed to tell somebody. You needed to tell somebody because it was eating at you and you couldn’t handle it on your own. That’s probably the case because you like this guy more than you’re willing to admit and denying it to me—even though I wanted you first—to him, or to yourself is not going to make it any less true.”

“Wanted me?” I say, pretending to be slighted. “You don’t want me anymore?”

“What does it matter? We’re friends now,” he says, chomping on another fry. I roll my eyes and move to take another bite of my sandwich when I catch an unpleasant sight over Kevin’s shoulder.

“Oh, what the fuck is this?” I hiss, dreading the next few seconds. Kevin frowns and looks over his shoulder just in time to catch Jake strolling in our direction.

“What the hell?” I groan. “Do I have a fucking tracking device attached to me?” I don’t see or hear anything from this guy in 17 years and now, he just seems to pop up where I am. I understood him popping up at the restaurant because I was in his neighborhood, but the grocery downtown? And now here? Am I releasing dog pheromones or something?

“Fancy meeting you here,” he says with a suggestive smile.

“Yeah, fancy that,” Kevin says, a near-scowl affixed to his face. Jake turns to Kevin.

“Yeah, you, too Kev, but…” he turns that creepy ass smile back to me, “I was addressing the lady.” I fold my arms and glare at him.

“Well, the lady is clearly not addressing you,” Kevin replies. Jake doesn’t tear his eyes away from me.

“I don’t know why I was so… driven… to get a Mickey’s patty melt—this place is so far out of my way—but now I see. When I want something, I just do whatever I have to do to get it.” He bites his bottom lip and I just want to hurl. I’m in a public café, not one of the clubs. I can’t floor him like I normally would. I have a few choice words bubbling up in my stomach, but I’m certain that it would just egg him on. Instead, I turn back to my lunch and continue to eat.

“Look, man, you’ve come to speak. You got your sandwich. Now, if you don’t mind, you are interrupting our lunch, which is pretty rude,” Kevin warns. I know just from his strength and his size alone that unless Jake has been working out or doing some MMA fighting that I’m not aware of, Kevin can most likely squash him. Hell, I can most likely squash him, but there would be some police intervention involved with either of those options. Even though I don’t make eye contact, I can feel his gaze boring into me.

“The lady hasn’t expressed an interest in my leaving, and even if she did, I would do my very best to dissuade her.” Dear God, if he only knew how much his sad attempt at seduction is making my stomach turn. He really is ruining my lunch.

“My mom always told me that if you ignore a pest, they eventually go away,” I say, taking another bite of my sandwich.

“Except flies,” Kevin says to me before turning a searing glare back to Jake. “Those bitches don’t go away til you swat ‘em.” I raise my eyes just in time to see the gentlemen glaring at each other about to square off.

“You wanna catch this fade, mothafucka, let’s go!” Jake taunts. Oh, I’ve had enough of this shit.

“And exactly what would you be fighting for?” I say loudly, now standing to face Jake and deliberately raising my voice. “When I wanted you, you didn’t want me. Now, you precariously pop up everywhere I’m trying to get something to eat, often muscling in on my meal, and now you want to fight because I won’t pay you any attention? It’s my understanding that you can—and already did—have any piece of pussy in town that you wanted. What’s the problem? Go find one that wants you, too. Just leave!”

I’ve had enough! I want this asshole to leave me the hell alone. He won’t take the cold shoulder; he won’t take rejection; let’s try humiliation.

“What the fuck you say?” he says, surprised that I had the nerve to call him out. “This mothafucka disrespected me. What makes you think I would fight over you, hoe, you ain’t shit!” I violently wave him off.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever the fuck you say! You made that shit very clear several years ago—until you fuckin’ started stalkin’ me again. Now, say that shit while you walkin’!”

Jake eyes me with serious distaste and raises one nostril like he’s smelling something bad.

“You think you hot shit ‘cause you white?” he spits.

“What I think is that we were trying to enjoy our lunch before you brought your ass over here fuckin’ with us. You said I ain’t shit, so why are you still here? Get the hell away from our table!” He’s so busy trying to humiliate me like I just humiliated him that he doesn’t see Jesse come up behind him.

“Shut the fuck up, puppy, and sit yo’ ass down,” he retorts.

“The lady said leave,” Jesse says from behind him. “You’re disturbing her lunch.”

Jake turns around and whirls right into a wall of angry, buff security guard about five inches taller than him. Not to be outmatched, he aggressively looks up and down Jesse’s form.

“What? You fuckin’ her, too, white boy?” he accuses.

Oh, little boy, if you only knew that nobody in this room right now is fucking me, least of all, you.

“No, but I may have to restrain you and kick you out for insulting the lady and disturbing her lunch. You are now in her personal space which makes you a threat, and I won’t be responsible if your face meets a little road rash on the way down.” Jake scoffs.

“You think I’m scared o’ you?” Jake asks incredulously, his voice rising two octaves. “Nigga, where I come from, the bigger they are, the harder they fall!”

“Please… oh, please test that theory,” Jesse invites and stands there, waiting for Jake to make a move. Jake glares at Jesse but doesn’t dare to make a move. “Air and opportunity, young’un,” Jesse adds.

Now, where Jake comes from, “air and opportunity” is short for “Stop yappin’ and make your move. Ain’t nothin’ between us but air and opportunity,” So, now Jake has to shut the fuck up and make his move or get the fuck on. He takes the latter option. My guess is that he has assessed the situation, weighed his options, analyzed the likelihood of actually leaving the building with a face full of road rash, and decided that outcome would not be favorable for him. He’s going to leave… but not quietly.

“Please,” he says, disdainfully, “ain’t none o’ y’all worth none of this shit.” He moves around Jesse to leave and calls out “bitch” just as he’s getting to the door.

“Yo’ momma’s a bitch,” I retort before the door even opens. He doesn’t pause. He brushes right out the door.

And I’m pretty sure that’s the last I’ll see of him.

“God, what is it with that guy?” Kevin asks. I nod at Jesse thanking him for coming to my rescue and he nods and goes back to his table and his sandwich.

“Is it usually volatile when you guys get together?” I ask. “Does he have something to prove?”

“Yes,” Kevin says. “He sees me with you and you’re the only one in the neighborhood that he hasn’t fucked. So, he has to prove he can fuck you, too. Ain’t shit with me and him. I’ve seen him around here and there, but I haven’t seen him this much in years. It’s like your pussy starts moving in his general vicinity and he can smell you coming.”

“That can’t be it, because I’ve been back in Seattle for a while. So, if he was smellin’ my pussy, he would have smelled it long before now.” I pause. “He does realize he called Jesse the ‘N’ word,” I point out. Kevin twists his lips.

“You said you come from the hood,” Kevin says. “You know that’s not what he did. He used the ‘gga’ not the ‘gger.’”

“But if Jesse had said that to him…” I begin my protest.

“Yes, I know,” Kevin interrupts. “The entire café would have been in an uproar. At the risk of defending that asshole, you know we throw that word around a little more than we should and in different ways.” I twist my lips and don’t touch the rest of my unfinished lunch.

“I don’t approve of black people disparaging white people any more than I approve of white people disparaging black people—and he does that pretty freely. Jesse was the ‘gga’ and ‘white boy’ and I supposedly thought I was all that because I’m white, but had I made even the slightest reference to his race, that would have been an entirely different conversation.” Kevin puts his hands up.

“Hey, I’m on your side, remember?” he says, surrender evident in his tone. I roll my eyes and shake my head. I’m going to start carrying a police whistle and blow the shit out of that bitch when I see him coming!

“Well, I’d say lunch is sufficiently ruined,” he says, pushing away the rest of his burger. I raise my eyes to him and his disgusted expression.

“So… since we’re friends and all, I guess I can make this up to you. That asshole wouldn’t have come to the table had I not been sitting here. Dinner at my house on Friday?” He raises surprised eyes to me. “That is if you don’t mind crossing the bridge.

“Uh… no, I don’t mind,” he stutters. “I got a car.”

Yeah, I surprised the shit out of him.

“Well, then, I’ll text you my address, and don’t be surprised when my butler answers the door.”

“Ooooo, a butler! Fancy,” he teases, and it adds some levity to our ruined lunch.

*-*

I invited Kevin to dinner. Why the hell did I do that? I still have a few days where I can cancel, but I’m not going to. I’m sadistic, not selfish, and I do feel that Jake ruined a perfectly good lunch because of me.

My phone has been ringing and buzzing with texts… from Trey. I’m sure he has received those ghastly ass lips back and wants to know why. I would rather not see or speak to him right now. I’m not totally certain why I succumbed to kissing him and right now, I’d prefer not to make that mistake again. In fact, Golden has other plans this evening…

**I would be eternally grateful if Mistress could find it in her schedule to fit me in tonight. Or even tomorrow, or whenever you have available. **

The text came right after lunch and right before Trey’s. I would like nothing more than to get my hands a little dirty at one of the clubs. I need to beat the image of Jake out of my fucking head…

And the taste of Trey off my goddamn lips.

**Club Syndrome. 8:00. Tonight. Don’t be late. **

I do a quick gold-chrome nail cover before I don my attire for the evening.

Tonight, it’s the vintage boned gold corset with the mock alligator texturing over high-waisted gold panties. I have to tape my boobs and the corset down so that they don’t fall out during my new routine. Adorning my chest is the Majestic Gold Filigree Indian Wedding choker with matching jhumka earrings—tribute from another satisfied client valued at over $12,000. I have to double-side-tape this piece as well as the necklace falls elegantly over my chest and will droop over my chin while I’m performing unless I secure it.

Wonder WomanThe best wigs that money can buy will ensure that my raven hair won’t end up on the floor somewhere. Gold contacts reminiscent to sunsets and gold eyeshadow on my lid and under my eye lend a dramatic contrast to the black lashes and brows with just a dusting of gold at the end of the brows. I slide into a decadent pair of gold thigh-high stiletto boots and slide two gold arm bracelets on my arms. They almost look like the “Wonder Woman” symbol.

When I’m satisfied with the look, I descend the stairs to find Blake waiting for me. He doesn’t react to my attire, but then again, he never does.

“Which wrap, Mistress?” he asks unfazed.

“Gold leather,” I reply. I check my reflection in the mirror at the foot of the stairs. My lips are done in matte, non-smearing lipsticks—gold and black in a fierce design. I’m extremely proud of my creation. I look every bit the sexy, golden nightmare and I’m beginning to feel more like myself again.

Blake assists me into my gold leather trench just as the doorbell rings. As I fasten my belt, I see my driver and my bodyguard waiting on the other side of the door for me. Right on time, as usual…

“Thornton will be meeting me this evening. Set him up and let me know when he arrives,” I say to Zane, the head dungeon monitor, when I arrive at Syndrome. “And cue the new music.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

I remove my coat and walk right to the stage to my usual theme song. This will be my first time doing my new routine, but I’m not concerned. As usual, I just want to show the amateurs how it’s done.

Moments after I mount the stage, the music changes and a dangerous, sultry beat begins as I circle the pole. The crowd goes from a gentle roar to a tiny murmur as I bend one leg and wrap it around the pole behind me.

Sometimes I feel I’ve got to run away…

As Claire Guerreso begins to sing, I reach behind my head, grasp the pole, and begin to climb it backwards.

The murmur falls to silence.

Half-way up the pole, my body bends in half, then fully extends with my stiletto heels pointing perfectly to the ceiling and my raven wig hanging dramatically towards the floor,

It’s nothing but me and the music now.

I’ve lost my light for I toss and turn I can’t sleep at night…

Like hell. Maybe you, but not me.

a2ca8bf11648826dc78841c9918824c9I reproduce the incredible move where my body is bent but not touching the pole. I saw this move in the mirror at the studio, so I’m well aware of how sexy it looks now.

Once I ran to you, now I’ll run from you…

The idea behind a good pole dance is to look sensual and sexy and desirable without looking raunchy. If I wanted to be a stripper, that’s what I would do, but that’s not what I do here. My routines have the same effect whether I’m wearing a pair of lamé panties, thigh high boots, and a corset, or if I’m wearing a catsuit and strappy stiletto. It makes you wonder what’s underneath, not just want to fuck.

My moves display incredible control over my body and muscles—unbelievable leg extensions, midair ab and hip rolls, and insane upper body strength that allows me to sensually animate my body while my hands or arms are the only things touching the pole. My attitude sends a message to men and to women not to come at me with bullshit, because I’m not the one and I won’t have it.

The crowd is once again silently mesmerized as that one line is sung that reminds me that I’m Golden…

You need someone to hold you tight and you’ll think love is to pray,
But I’m sorry, I don’t pray that way…

Nope, not I. Find somebody else to love you.

I writhe down the pole in an awesome finishing move that has my knees bent and my body lying backwards with one arm over my head and my hair splayed on the floor—not even having broken a sweat. When the music dies, I rise to my knees and then to my feet before sauntering to the stairs. There is no applause, but I can clearly hear the murmurings of the crowd—some talking about how sultry the dance was while others asked who I am. They must not be the regulars.

“That’s Golden,” I hear someone say. “She’s a Domme and she damn near owns the place.”

“Well, I never heard of her,” another says.

“You must be new, then,” the first guy says. “She’s extremely exclusive. They’ll blackball you if you do something to piss her off.”

“Your client is ready in room three, ma’am,” Zane says to me as he helps me off the stage. I can’t hear the conversation anymore as I descend the stairs and thank him, but I hear the end of it.

“If she’s here, she’s going to be in one of the exhibition rooms. Come on, get ready for the show of your life.”

That’s right, boys. Golden is here in full effect and now, I have fresh meat to impress. It’s not that I’m looking for any more clients, but I just adore performing for Golden virgins.

Thornton is into humiliation. That’s just what I need tonight. It’s like somebody somewhere knew that I needed to remember who Golden is and what she does. I open the door to the exhibition room and there he is, standing in the corner with his back to me. He’s only wearing his pants, and he’s not allowed to look at me without my permission.

I remove my corded whip from the wall and, dragging it on the ground behind me, skillfully approach my subject.

“Hello, Thornton…

*-*

Last night was perfect. I stretched my Golden legs—and my Golden whip—and I am back! Not that I went anywhere in the first place, I just needed to remind myself who I was. All this kinda touchy-feely shit had me out of touch for a moment.

I don’t answer any of Trey’s calls or texts, which aren’t as frequent as they were at the beginning of the week when I first returned those garish gold lips that he sent me. Those things were horrendous. What the hell did he expect me to do with those?

What’s more, he knows that I know exactly what they were all about. He had as many questions about the kiss as Kevin did… as I did… and I answered them. It was a mistake. It was temporary insanity and it won’t happen again. I told him that and when I feel like he finally understands that, then I’ll answer his fucking texts.

I made sure to tell my clients in the Lincoln lawsuit that she came by in an attempt to settle, but that she wasn’t apologetic, which means that her offer would have been laughable had I listened. They agreed with me that we should take it to court if she doesn’t admit fault and try to make it right.

Make it right. That’s hilarious to me. Each of these women knows that they’re taking this woman for a ride. Maybe one or two of them might have suffered the real heebie-jeebies. The rest are just on the bandwagon for the buck. I’m usually not the slimy lawyer, but in this case, I don’t care. Blondie took the gloves off on me a long time ago, and since I’m so damn ethical in everything else that I do, I don’t mind being the corrupt attorney this time. Not one bit.

It’s just what she deserves.

True to my word, I agree to fix dinner for Kevin on Friday. I get the feeling that I may have to squash his hopes for l’amour as he’s convinced that Trey is breaking me down. Dinner may not be the best idea under the circumstances, but as a friend, I promised. And as a woman and a Domme, I know that if I back out, I’ll be feeding his idea that I’ve been weakened and I’m afraid to be alone with him.

As usual, I can’t find what I need in my area, so I visit the grocery in my old neighborhood and hope to God that the Jake-radar isn’t alerted that I’m in the area. I manage to avoid seeing Jake, but I should have known that I wouldn’t leave this area unscathed.

“Ana?”

I turn to the voice that called my name. It had to happen. At some point, it had to happen. First, Richard in the courthouse; then Jake at the restaurant… and the grocery… and the café. Now, this.

I sigh heavily as I look into the face of my cousin, Tracy. Of course. It had to happen. I raise my eyebrow at her as if to ask, “What the fuck do you want?” but she totally ignores the gesture.

“Wow,” she says as she closes the space between us. “You look really good. You haven’t changed one bit.” I’m a little taken aback by the compliment.

“Thank you,” I reply, trying to appear unmoved.

“I haven’t seen you in years. Have you moved back to these parts?” she asks.

“No,” I reply. “I… needed some ingredients that I can’t find in my neighborhood.” She twists her lips.

“Well, I know what you mean about that,” she says, looking over her shoulder as if looking for someone. “I’m not living around here either anymore, but Mom needs a few things, so…” She trails off. Figures. Why couldn’t Sheila’s lazy ass husband come and get what she needed? He can track me down and chase me around the city. How about you tend to your ailing wife and leave me the hell alone! God, I want to be a total bitch, but…

“I heard about Sheila,” I say. “I’m sorry.” Tracy frowns a bit and just as she’s about to speak…

“Baby, they’re out of cumin. We may have to see if we can find it somewhere else. I know the exotic spice stand at the Mar… Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

The gentleman who joins us is a handsome, older man, distinguished looking and well-built. He’s pushing a grocery cart with a child in the seat, maybe two or three years old. Another little girl is latched to his hand, six or seven years old.

“Ana, this is my husband, Lance. Lance, this is Ana, my cousin.”

Lance’s eyebrow rises in obvious surprise. Yeah, yeah, I’m white, so what?

“Ana, yes,” he says with a sincere smile. “Tracy has mentioned you. I’m glad you reconnected.”

Reconnected? Mentioned me? What the hell?

Not in a public grocery, Ana. Don’t make a goddamn scene, and definitely not in front of children.

“It’s nice to meet you, Lance,” I say, trying not to sound stiff. Noticing my discomfort, Lance turns back to his wife.

“I’ll go pay for these and meet you outside, okay?” he says. Tracy smiles and nods as he leans down and kisses her on the cheek. He turns a half-smile to me. “Ana, hope to see you around.”

“Thank you, Lance. Take care,” I say, trying not to be rude. When he’s out of earshot, Tracy turns her attention back to me.

“Ana, what did you mean by that,” she asks, “when you said you’re sorry about Mom? What did you hear about Mom?” I try not to frown at her. Is she in denial? What the hell?

“That she has cancer and she’s dying,” I reply, stating the obvious. Tracy frowns at me like I have no idea what I’m talking about. I soon find out that I don’t.

“Mom’s not dying,” she says, her frown burrowed deeply. “Dad is.”

I know I must look like I’ve seen aliens. Richard’s dying, not Sheila. Why would he say it was the other way around? What would be the purpose of that?

“I…” I’m at a loss for words, something that doesn’t happen often. I quickly find myself and lean on my attorney instincts instead of the diplomacy I can’t seem to locate when I’m dealing with this family. “I… was misinformed,” I excuse. “I was told that Sheila was the one who had cancer—stage four, in fact.”

“Well, someone must have gotten their facts confused,” Tracy retorts, a slight bit of anger hidden in her words. “My father’s dying, not my mother. We’re not quite sure how much time he has left.” I sigh a bit inwardly. I hate being made to look like a fool and I won’t apologize because Richard lied to me.

“I should be going, Tracy,” I say turning to leave. “Take care of yourself, okay?” I can’t tell her that I’m sorry to hear about Richard, because I’m not. As cold as it sounds, I’m not sorry in the least that he’s dying.

“Ana, wait,” she says as she falls in step behind me. “If losing someone shows us anything, it shows us that we should hold on to who we have left. Don’t be a stranger.”

Oh, God, I almost want to gag. Give me a fucking break. This is your first experience with loss, girlie, and you’re an adult. I lost my Mommy and Daddy almost 23 years ago and I was a child—an innocent, forsaken, isolated child with nothing and no one. Who the fuck held on to me? As long as I wasn’t a burden or a disgrace, I could stay tucked away in the corner, but as soon as I brought any attention to myself—even slight attention—I got abandoned, so I’d rather not hear about holding on to who we have left, because nobody bothered holding on to me!

“You take care, Tracy,” I say, my voice cold, before leaving her and my groceries in the store.

I walk to my car as quickly as I can. I don’t have Jesse with me as I sent him home already. I kind of wish he had been with me. Maybe Her Fucking Majesty wouldn’t have approached me. Fuck! I left my groceries in the store. I’ll just wait until I see her leave, then I’ll go back and get them.

I wait almost forever before she finally leaves, then I run back in and retrieve my basket, grateful that all my things are still there. As I’m paying for my items at the cashier, my phone rings.

“Yes, Blake,” I answer.

“Ma’am, you have a visitor.” He’s calling me ma’am. That means someone is in his face.

“Kevin? He’s extremely early,” I say, looking at my watch.

“His name isn’t Kevin, ma’am,” he says coolly. I frown as I place my bags back in my basket.

“Is it Trey?” I reply, my voice just as cold.

“No, ma’am,” he replies, “but he refuses to leave without speaking to you. I can remove him if you like.”

“Who the hell is it, Blake?” I ask, irritated.

“He says his name is Steele, ma’am.” Steele. Did that fucker come to my house? Did Tracy say something to him? “His name isn’t Richard, ma’am, but it is Steele.”

Steele. Not Richard. Who the hell is at my house?

“I’m on my way home,” I say as I load the groceries into my Range Rover, “but I’m quite a ways away.”

“Would you like for us to wait for you, ma’am?” he asks.

“I want to know who the fuck this guy is,” I exclaim, climbing into the car.

“We will wait for you,” he says flatly.

“It could take me quite some time…”

“We. Will. Wait. For you,” he says finitely. I pause for a moment.

“Very well,” I say as I start the car and end the call. Now, this is what that statement really means:

Some guy shows up at my front door and got my “butler,” who informs him that I’m not there. From the way Blake is speaking, this guy has pushed himself into my house, at which time, he made some kind of demand that Blake get me back home, stating that he’s not leaving until I’m there. Blake can easily, and legally, put this man out on my doorstep—in pieces, if necessary—but he won’t do it without my permission. He won’t even touch the guy.

When Blake came to call me, this fucker followed him to the phone, which means he took great liberties walking through my house. In my mind’s eye, I can see Blake’s scalp boiling during this encounter, but he won’t let it be seen. When he first spoke to me, he indicated that someone was at the house, and let me guide the conversation from there.

Someone’s there.
Not Kevin.
Not Trey.
He won’t leave. Blake offers to remove him.

I have another idea. I want to know who the fuck he is.

Steele. Not Richard, but Steele. Now I really want to know who the fuck he is.

At this point, the rules have changed because Blake can’t afford to let him leave. We both need to know who this fucker is. This means that if Blake has to break his legs and tie him to a chair, they’re going to wait for me.

I drive home as quickly as I can, from several miles away, in rush hour traffic… which means it’s still taking a long time to get home. It could be my other cousin—Tracy’s brother—I can’t even remember his fucking name right now. He wouldn’t come to my house like that… would he?

I leave all my groceries in the car and dash to the stairs to find out what’s going on. I burst through my front door and I see a stranger—a black man—standing there playing “slaps” with Blake… or at least that’s what it looks like. He keeps trying to get a hit in—a shove, a slap, something—and Blake just keeps forcibly pushing his hand away. Blake is clearly blocking his escape, so I’m assuming that sometime during the wait, our guest decided that he didn’t want to stay, probably once he realized that he wasn’t going to get the free reign of the house that he enjoyed while Blake was calling me.

“What the hell is this?” I ask, bemused.

“Well, it’s about time you got here!” the stranger says, no longer sparring with Blake. I’m taken aback by his boldness.

“I was unaware that I was on a clock,” I retort, folding my arms.

“Well, I’ve been waiting for you for a while,” he shoots, moving to close the space between us. Blake steps in front of him and he huffs impatiently. “Dammit, she’s here now! Can you move outta my way now?”

“You said you wanted me,” I say folding my arms. “You wanted me to drop what I was doing and come all the way home from clean on the other side of the bridge. You’re lucky I was on my way home or you might be standing here playing “slaps” for another couple of hours. Now, here I am. What do you want?”

“I want you to call off your damn dog!” he says, unsuccessfully trying to get around Blake.

“Well, you see, we don’t know who you are or why you’re here, so it’s not very likely that he’s going to heel,” I informed our visitor.

“He’s holding me against my will,” he says. I scoff.

“You show up at my home, demanding to see me and refusing to leave until you do. I’m sure my butler didn’t invite you in because he asked me if he could remove your ass. I’m also sure that you followed him around my house without permission because I could tell by the way he was talking when he called me. Now, you want to say that he held you against your will? Make up your fucking mind!”

He’s shocked that I most likely called him on exactly what happened in my home before I got there. He’s nervous at first, but he recovers very quickly.

He has ammo.

“You’re gonna want to hear what I have to say,” he says cockily. I put my hand on Blake’s shoulder, signaling him to stand down.

“Don’t go anywhere,” I request. He nods and takes a step back. “Make it quick,” I say to my now unwanted visitor. He smirks and looks around.

“Nice digs,” he says. “Nice house in an affluent neighborhood, butler, late model Range Rover. Seems my dad’s money set you up real nice.” I frown.

“Your dad’s money?” I say, shaking my head. Is he the son of one of my clients? I only have two black clients, and I would have fucking remembered if either of them was named Steele. He smiles fiendishly.

“I should say our dad,” he oozes, “even though he really wasn’t your dad.”

Our dad? What the hell? Dad? Dad? Daddy?

“What the fuck are you talking about?” I nearly growl.

“I’m talking about Raymond Steele!” he hisses. “The asshole who got my mother pregnant and left us to rot!”

I sincerely feel like somebody hit me in the chest with a sledgehammer. Nobody has ever said a harsh word to me about my father. My defenses are down, and I don’t know how to react.

“How… did you find out about me… where I live?” I stutter. He scoffs disbelieving.

“I just told you that your so-called father—even though he’s not really your father—deserted me and my mother and all you want to know if how I found out where you live? Are you for real?”

I don’t respond. I don’t know how. I don’t know who this man is or even if he’s who the fuck he says he is, but I don’t have shit to say to him until he tells me how…

Uncle Richard told me where you were,” he says disdainfully, and I can easily tell that he has about as much love for Richard as I do.

“Richard?” I hiss, finding my words. “Richard told you where to find me?”

“Don’t worry your pretty little head, Buffy,” he sneers. “He didn’t know anything about me either. Seems Dear Old Dad just hoped I would disappear.”

I narrow my eyes at this fucker. I’m beginning to hate him more and more. He doesn’t look anything like my father, and I don’t believe a word he’s saying.

“How do I know you’re even who you claim to be?” I seethe angrily. “You don’t look like any of the Steeles to me and my father is not here to defend himself.”

“Well, I have plenty of pictures of my father and my mother together before you were even born! So, even though you may not know who your daddy is, I know who mine is.”

He has no idea how much of a gift he just gave me. The fact that his mother and my father may have been together before I was born means that Daddy didn’t cheat on Mommy.

“Well, whatever your name is…”

Reynard,” he hisses, “but you can call me Ray,” he adds with a sinister smile. The hell I am.

“Well, Reynard,” I spit with all the venom I can muster, “I know who my daddy is because his name is on my birth certificate and my maiden name is Steele.”

“The fuck you say!” he barks. “Richard told me you were adopted!”

“I gives a fuck what Richard told you!” I bark back. “Check vital records, mothafucka, you’ll see my name is Steele. Now, why the fuck are you in my house?”

“I came to claim my share of my father’s money—whatever he left you. I’m entitled to half of it, because he was my father, too.” Now, I laugh loudly.

“Is that what this is about?” I cackle. “Money? Boy, did you come to the wrong place. Daddy was a great man. He was known and loved by many people, but he certainly wasn’t rich.”

“You’re living awfully comfortably, Ana, so Daddums must’ve left you something!” he accuses.

“Well, whatever you think Daddy left me, you better go harass Uncle Richard before he kicks the bucket. Whatever I may have had, Richard took for those couple of years he took care of me—right before he abandoned me. Everything you see here is mine! I worked for it; I paid for it; I own it. So, if you came here looking for a payout, you came to the wrong place, asshole, cuz I have nothing for you.”

He needs to recoil a bit. He sees how Richard lives, and he sees how I live. In his mind, with all the wealth that he’s seeing, there’s no way that after all this time, Daddy didn’t have something that he left behind that this jerk could lay claim to.

“I’m going to drag him through the mud,” he says calmly. “I can see that you love him very much, and I’m going to soil his name so badly that there’ll be no recovering from it. I’m going to tell everybody who’ll listen that Ray Steele had a little Steele that he left to die because his mother wasn’t white and the black baby that he made wasn’t good enough to have a decent life!”

Does it always come down to this? Does it always come down to the black world hating me because a black man wanted me as a daughter? Because a black boy wanted me as a girlfriend? Because another black man is attracted to me? Because I’m white? Is that why Richard deserted me? I’m, once again, extremely angry.

“You slime-sucking piece of shit!” I declare. “You haven’t asked how he died or even where he’s buried. You just show up on my doorstep looking for a damn handout from a man who’s been dead for over twenty years, and you have no fucking idea who he even was!”

“I may not know, but according to you, quite a few people do,” he taunts. I scoff.

“Who do you think he was, the fucking mayor?” I ask. “My father was a Seattle cop. He was loved by everybody who knew him, but he was still just a Seattle cop. You’re just another illegitimate child from somebody’s past, buddy. Nobody’s going to give a fuck about you. I knew my father. I’m sorry for you that you didn’t get a chance to, but I knew my father and he was a wonderful, kind, and generous man. And believe me when I say that nothing you can say now or ever will change that in my eyes or in the eyes of anybody who ever knew him. And you may want to be careful who you go spouting your bullshit to, because you don’t have any proof, and if you go spouting it to the wrong people, they may just squash like the insignificant little bug that you are!”

“I thought you said he was nobody,” he nearly growls.

“I didn’t say he was nobody,” I say. “I said he was a Seattle cop. I also said that he was loved by everybody who knew—in so many words. So, go ahead, do your worst, Reynard, because you’re not going to get a fucking dime from me. Now, get the fuck out of my house.”

“Oh,” he says, folding his arms. “When I wanted to leave, this fucker wouldn’t let me go. Now, I’m supposed to leave because you said so?”

“Yes, sir,” Blake says, stepping between me and Reynard. “Allow me to show you out.”

Reynard stands there looking at him for a moment, a bit incredulously.

“Man, get the fuck outta my way,” he says, moving to brush Blake aside. In less than three seconds, this asshole is pressed against the wall, his arms pinned in a mummy-like pose in one of Blake’s hands with Blake’s other forearm under his chin and precariously close to his neck.

“We’ve played this game already, sir,” Blake says calmly. “Would you like to move to level two?” Reynard struggles a bit against Blake.

“Get the fuck off me, man!” he threatens.

“I’m taking that as a yes, sir,” he says, and I can see him press his arm further against Reynard’s throat. “So that there’s no misunderstanding, I’ll ask again, sir. Would you like to continue this game, or would you like to leave?”

Blake hasn’t broken a sweat, hasn’t raised his voice. Reynard, on the other hand is looking a little pale.

Is he choking him to death?

“I’ll leave,” he squeaks out. Yeah, he was choking him to death!

Blake releases Reynard and shoves him in the direction of the door.

“You haven’t seen the last of me, cracker bitch!” he seethes rubbing his neck.

“For your sake, you better hope I have, you fucking bastard!” I retort. “I’m strapped and I’ll pop a cap in ya ass if you show up at my door again. Then, I’ll give what’s left of you to him and my bodyguard. They’ll need dental records to identify you.”

Reynard’s eyes pierce and he looks at me like a Martian. Blake forcefully shoves him out the door that he opened behind Reynard, who stumbles onto the porch and nearly down the stairs.

“Have a good night, sir,” he says, slamming the door behind him and immediately turning to me.

“Mistress?”

“Another… child,” I pant, putting my hand on my forehead, my adrenaline immediately dropping. “A brother… Daddy… couldn’t have known. He… never would have left…” I crumble to my knees and Blake catches me.

“Mistress…”

“I need… I need to speak to him…” He owes me an explanation. He doesn’t owe me any fucking thing else, but he owes me an explanation.

“Maybe you should rest first, Mistress…”

“I need to talk to him!” I shriek. Blake pauses for a moment, then helps me to the parlor and sits me on the sofa. I’m nearly hyperventilating when several moments later, I hear him dial the phone.

“Is this Richard Steele?” he pauses. “One moment please, sir.” He hands me the phone.

“How!?” I scream. “How could you send that fucker to my home?”

“Anastasia?” he asks, surprised.

“You know who the fuck this is!” I shriek through my tears. “How the fuck could you send that sonofabitch to my home?!” I hear him sigh.

“I’m sorry about this, Ana…”

“Is he my brother?” I scream. “Dammit, is he my father’s son?”

“I don’t know,” he says. “I know Ray was seeing his mother years before he met Carla, but I never knew or heard anything about a child.”

“His name is Steele!” I accuse. “How could you not know?”

“What? His name is not Steele. It’s Stamper.” Well, he knows that much.

“How the fuck do you know?” I say through my tears. I hear him sigh.

“Ana, must you curse in every statement you make to me?”

“How the fuck do you know?!” I scream. He pauses, then begins to speak again.

“He came to me a little while back. I had him checked out.” Wha…?

“A little while back,” I squeak incredulously. “A little while…” How long ago? It doesn’t matter. It was long enough to have him checked out.

“I tried to tell you,” he says calmly.

“Like hell, you tried!” I shoot. “You came to me with bullshit, each time trying to get me to bow or give in and listen to your sob stories about why I should forgive you for deserting me. You remember how you callously blurted out that lie that Aunt Sheila was dying, hoping to get a reaction out of me? Well, you should have blurted out the truth instead—that I possibly have a psychotic half-brother looking for me trying to get some of my dead dad’s non-existent money!”

“I wasn’t sure…” he interjects.

“But you knew!” I interrupt, sobbing. “You knew he was vindictive and spiteful. That’s why you had him checked out! You knew Dad didn’t have anything, and if he did, I never got it. You knew that! Why didn’t you tell him that instead of leading him right to my front door? You couldn’t do right by me if your fucking life depended on it! You ditched me when I was 15 and now, I’m 32 and given the second chance, you still threw me to the dogs. And you have the nerve to say that my father would be ashamed of me? Old man, if Daddy was here right now, he’d have you bound, gagged, and publicly flogged in the middle of the Marketplace. Then, he’d shoot you in the knees with his service revolver!”

“Don’t say that about my brother!” he says, threatening.

“I’m not saying that about your brother! I’m saying that about you, you miserable fuck!” I scream. “You’re a wretched excuse for a human being, and I hope you die a miserable fucking death!” I hiss.

“Well, apparently, God agrees with you,” he laments, “because it’s not your Aunt Sheila that’s dying from cancer. It’s me. Stage four metastatic melanoma—the baldness isn’t a fashion statement.”

“You’re late with that news, too, Unc! I already knew. You’re coming into court looking like hell and ill-prepared, having the judge question my ethics and motives—you need to go the fuck home and die!” I curse him.

“Do you really hate me?” he asks, and he sounds a little remorseful. “Do you really hate me that much, Anastasia?”

“With the disdain of a thousand plagues,” I growl. “My only regret at this point was that I wasn’t able to watch you rot! I did everything in my power to forget that you abandoned me! That you left me to die or to be a statistic and I was determined not to let that happen. And I survived! I survived and I succeeded despite what you did to me! And you have a hissy fit because I won’t run into your arms for a warm embrace after seventeen years? And we only met by accident? After all the pain and disappointment you’ve already caused me, you unleash that vermin on me? Lead him right to my fucking door? You are the worst form of subhuman I’ve ever known in my life and I have no idea how a kind, gentle, noble and loving man like Raymond Steele could have ever been related to you. I hope your last days are agonizingly, painfully miserable and I can only hope and pray that on your way to your eternal afterlife, you get one last glimpse of my father so that he can tell you just what a rotten, miserable asshole you really are right before he throws your ass off a cliff to rot in hell!”

I slam the receiver down onto the carriage, heaving with sobs so uncontrollable that I can barely breathe.

“Ana?”

I whizz around to see Kevin standing in the door of my parlor staring at me. Shit. I forgot about our dinner.

“I… I don’t think… I…” My sobbing is so heavy that I can’t get my words out. Nothing on this earth ever upsets me like things that have to do with my parents. Nothing! Now this asshole shows up opening old wounds, looking for money that Daddy never even had. I sink to the floor, my knees unable to hold me up anymore. What is it about the Steele bloodline? Had it just produced a bunch of leeches and monsters with my daddy being the only good egg? Was Daddy like this and I just didn’t know it?

Of course not!

Daddy loved Mommy endlessly, and he showed it all the time. He was a wonderful father to me, and I have nothing but good memories of him. He adopted me and gave me his name. He didn’t have to do that. He married Mommy—that would have been enough for me, but no. He went all the way. He loved me. And he was a good man… a really good man, and I’m not going to let some possible hateful offspring from a relationship—probably even a one-night stand—before he met my mother or some judgmental, heartless asshole of an uncle change my opinion of him.

But to have them spit on his memory like this hurt so badly that I can barely think or breathe. I feel Kevin lift me off the floor and I’m back on the sofa again, weeping in his arms. When did he get here? Did Blake let him in? Where’s Blake?

“Ssshh, ssshh, shh,” he says, rubbing my arms. “Calm down. You’re going to pass out.”

Blake comes in with a glass of water, but I can’t drink anything right now. I can’t even think…

*-*

“So, do you think he’s really… your father’s son?” Kevin says, still sitting on the sofa with me and stroking my arm once I’ve finally calmed down. Blake has retrieved the groceries from the car and prepared some hors d’oeuvres since I was in no condition to cook.

“I don’t know,” I say, my head swimming. “My wretched uncle says he did some kind of background check on him. I’ll do one, too. His name isn’t Steele. I don’t know if he’s really an illegitimate child or just an extortionist.”

“What if he is your dad’s child?” he asks.

“What if he is?” I repeat. “He better go get to know Aunt Sheila and their crew, because he doesn’t mean a damn thing to me. He comes barging in here, asking for money, not even asking about Daddy…”

“Okay, okay,” he says. “I don’t want you to get upset again.” He rubs my arms and I sigh.

“Kevin, what do you think this means?” I ask.

“What what means?” he says.

“This,” I say, gesturing around us. “All this. What do you think this means?” He sighs.

“It means that we’re friends,” he says. “You told me that we’re friends, and I’m okay with us being friends. But I saw you at two very vulnerable moments, which lets me know that you’re not as untouchable and unmovable as you always pretended to be.”

“Kevin…” I protest.

“Do I expect you to change? No,” he interrupts. “What does this mean? It doesn’t mean anything. As long as you are who you are and you gotta do what you gotta do, I’m okay being your friend—but if things ever change, and you need something different in your life… just know that my hat is in the ring.”

“There is no ring, Kevin,” I tell him, slightly frustrated.

“And yet, I’m here,” he says, gently caressing my arm. “If there ever is a ring, my hat is in it.” I shake my head. Give it up, Sheardon. It’s never going to happen.

“This is going to change things between us, Kevin,” I say, sadly.

“I’m a big boy, Ana,” he says. “This changes nothing between us… unless you can’t deal with it.”

I shake my head and pop some cheese into my mouth. A few moments later, Blake comes into the parlor.

“Mistress, I really hate to disturb you, but you have another guest.”

What is this, Grand fucking Central Station?


A/N: The Pinterest board for this story can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/fifty-shades-golden/.

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.

~~love and handcuffs

Raising Grey: Chapter 84—Adelaide Antics

More Aussie—get over it.

All other previous disclaimers still apply.

Dedicating this one to Alexis, who sends me a “thank you” email every time she gets a chapter. I may not always respond, but I see every one of them, my friend. You’re welcome, and thank you for sticking it out with me.

Chapter 84—Adelaide Antics

CHRISTIAN

I’m lying on the bed trying to catch my breath and she’s still playing with my cock. She has made it clear that she’s not done with me yet, so I better get my ass and gear and get ready for round two.

I take a few deep breaths to regain control of my body and try to draw my focus away from my aching dick. My wife playing with it before it’s ready is not necessarily a good thing, but I’m not going to tell her that.

It’s time for mind over matter, Grey. You’ve been here before—being tormented after an orgasm. You can overcome this.

My wife is in tune with me, though, even in this pickled state, and she adjusts her stimulation… gently stroking my balls and playing with my perineum like only she’s allowed to do. It gives my tender head and cock a moment of sweet reprieve, but still adds the sweet stimulation of her gentle hands. I close my eyes and absorb the feeling of my wife touching me as my cock recuperates. A few moments later, I sink into the feeling of her hands on me, stimulating my prostate from the outside.

She looks up at me, demanding, opens her mouth wide and descends upon my balls. I take a deep breath and she sucks them into her mouth. My dick twitches a little, but hasn’t yet revived. She rolls her tongue around the skin, tasting it and never taking her lust-filled blue eyes off of me.

Lick, lick, lick, suck… she’s tasting them, savoring them like candy, and after a minute or two, we have liftoff. When she sees my cock respond to the stimulation, she sucks my balls into her mouth, manipulating them like she’s giving them a blowjob.

“Sssss,” I hiss as she sucks them into her mouth, fellating my testicles like two delicious gumballs right before you devour them. It looks insane and feels even better, and it’s not long before Greystone it staring up at me at attention. He seeps a very tiny bit of grateful moisture from the head and settles back into pleasure, occasionally bobbing his applause at her masterful skills.

I gaze into her commanding blue eyes as I push my pelvis down against the hand still massaging my perineum while she gobbles my balls. Without warning, she takes my cock in her mouth again and I hiss in surprise. She bobs down on it and I can’t help but thrust. Then, she’s up on her knees, nothing touching me but her lips and tongue.

“Good God,” I hiss as I thrust slowly and evenly into her mouth, rolling my hips to keep up with her rhythm. She angles her head at just the right moment in just the right way with each thrust to accommodate the mouth fuck. Her mouth is wet and hot and as I stroke into it, saliva falls amply and provocatively from her lips. I swear if she keeps this up, this show will be over a whole lot sooner than we want.

Fucking hell! What was in that wine?

She grants me reprieve and releases my dick momentarily only to zero in on the head once more. Fucking hell.

She licks the head gently, then purses her lips in the most delicious way and sucks it into her mouth. The skin is still a little pliable and oh, so sensitive and it feels so good. Her puckered lips suck the head, the tightness and pressure never relenting, and now I want to crawl up the bed away from her. Her lips never breach the rim and she’s driving me crazy. When she loosens her lips a bit to allow saliva to run over the head of my dick only to suck it into her mouth and clean the skin again, I nearly break into convulsions.

“I want to make you come like this again,” she says, “but I can’t wait anymore…”

She scurries on top of me and drops down on my rock-hard dick, thrusting it so deep inside of her that I think I feel the opening of her uterus. I’m in elated shock as she just sits atop me, her head back and her eyes closed, her hands flat on my chest.

“Yes!” she breathes, as she flexes and contracts her pussy. “Oh, yes…”

Oh, yes is right! I can’t say it because I’m frozen in pleasure, my hands once again gripping the sheet and my mouth open, looking up at this enchantress and panting like a dog. Do what you wish to me… I’m yours… I don’t care…

She rocks her hips infinitesimally, but she may as well be wobbling like she’s working a hula-hoop! Greystone reaches out in every direction to feel her walls and I can barely function. I watch her lick and bite her lip as she widens the stance of her knees for traction and I’m mesmerized. Her mouth is moving but no words are coming out and she looks ethereal, almost like she’s praying—and this feeling in my cock is heavenly. Her walls are squeezing and grinding against my shaft ever so slightly causing this deliciously infernal burn. The light from behind her is causing a “halo” effect around her and it’s either the remnants of the wine or an extreme pleasure-induced haze, but I swear that God has sent an angel to ride me tonight…

Yeah, it’s the wine, but who the fuck cares?

Her grind intensifies just a bit, a tiny bit of roll and a tiny bit of thrust, and I know that she’s finding the angle that’s hitting that spot. I’m not even here anymore. I’m just that body that’s attached to that dick that’s bringing her to her plateau.

Use me, baby. Fucking use me til you scream…

Her hip roll becomes a steady thrust, short and intense, and her nails dig into my chest. The pain ignites my pleasure center, my balls tighten, and I almost lose it. I grunt loudly, grabbing her knees as she continues to ride me.

Yes… touch me…

I don’t know if she said it out loud, but I heard it. My hands travel up the front of her thighs to her hips, pistoning against mine and working Greystone into a fired frenzy.

“Yes!” she breathes, and I squeeze her hips. Fuck that dick, baby. Ride that cock until you’re dripping all over it.

My hands move up her alabaster skin to her breast. I squeeze her mounds and thumb her taut nipples until they pebble.

“Oh, God,” she keens, her thrusts quickening. She moves her hands from my chest and positions them on the bed on either side of my head.

I can’t play with her breasts anymore. I can’t concentrate… too good… too good…

My hands move to her thighs and clench. I have no choice but to hold on for this masterful ride. She drops her head so that her hair falls forward over my face, reminding me of the very first time she caressed me with her hair. It’s longer now, thicker, and it smells divine, and I swear that I’m slipping into a level of subspace where I’m transcending a bit, my shaft and balls being beaten within an inch of their lives as she’s now thrusting with speed and purpose, fucking me…

Fucking me like a man… like a man would fuck his woman, driving into her balls deep with sweet abandon, feeling her wrap around him over and over again as he pursues sweet release. I’m that man, only I have nothing to do with the fucking. I’m being fucked—ridden like a wild animal.

Her breaths are ragged, driven. Her rhythm is fast and smooth. She doesn’t pump and rock me with each thrust, although the bed rocks violently with our movement. No, her motion is smooth, a groove on and off my dick, the only parts of her moving are her hips as she fucks me and her knees as they open and close on either side of me with each thrust, her feet secure under my thighs anchoring her to my body.

Fuck… oh fuck…

She’s primal as she rides me—fucking feral. I can’t see her face through the mask of her hair over mine, but I know that her eyes are closed, her mind and body concentrating on nothing but riding that dick, nothing but feeling it fill her pussy over and over and over…

I grind my teeth and take in a breath as I feel the orgasm quickly rising in my balls again. She’s not ready, and I can’t go until she does.

With her hands flat on the bed, she moves her hips up and down on my cock with a very controlled and rhythmic bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce. With each silent drop, my cock threatens to blow, but I hold that painful nut, waiting… waiting…

She whimpers. Fuck, she whimpers. The sound of her voice turns me on so much. Don’t come, Grey. Fucking hold it…

I squeeze her thighs harder, trying to hold back my climax banging at my balls and demanding to be released.

She whimpers again.
Fuck, she’s killing me here!

She’s bouncing harder, faster, with purpose, her breathing intentional and ragged… Fuck, I’m not going to make it…

“Come! Come!” she hisses heavily. Shit, I hope she was talking to me, because I squeeze her thighs tight and begin to blow fantastically inside of her. Seconds later, she shrieks and begins to tremble on top of me. I grab her breasts as I’m blasting out my insides, pumping all my hopes and dreams inside of my happy place. Her legs tighten on either side of me, her hands clasp over mine on her breasts, and her head falls back, releasing cries of passion as we both ride out our orgasms.

*-*

Sunday has no particular schedule except to be at the airport at 4:30pm to fly back to Seattle. Even though the session last night was hot as fuck, we managed to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. Butterfly awakes with only a slight hangover—fortunate, but surprising, considering that she probably consumed her body weight in wine yesterday and enamored several people in the process. However, after a steaming hot shower, another round with the breast pump, and lots of water and some ibuprofen for my libation princess, she’s ready to face the day.

We start with some Facetime with our babies with a promise that they will see us tomorrow night. Minnie’s separation anxiety seems to have gotten a little worse and I must say that I’m glad we’ll be home soon. I shudder to think how badly my babies suffered while I was away from them in Madrid. True, they had their mother, but I wasn’t there… and she was suffering, too. God, I can’t believe I was such an insensitive asshole.

Intent on forgetting about the huge fuck-up I made a few months ago after leaving my wife and children with no word if or when I was coming back home, I aim to have fun with my wife for our last day in Australia. So, we have a hearty breakfast and plan to spend our last day at the Adelaide Zoo. However, after talking to the front desk staff, we decide to go to the Cleland Wildlife Park instead. According to the locals, the Adelaide Zoo is nice, but you’re going to spend most of your day seeing more of the common animals that you would see in any zoo. Cleland is a bit more interactive and entertaining on short notice. We’ll get a chance to connect with and observe the indigenous species of the land in their natural habitat.

Once again, Lawrence shadows us while Jason gets us checked out of the hotel and our bags checked at the airport. He’ll meet us at Cleland with a picnic lunch we secured from a local café and then it’s to the airport with us all to return home.

My wife is looking adorably casual in another pair of skinny blue jeans and a cute T-shirt that’s tied in a knot behind her with a caption that says, “Baked in Seattle.” She’s wearing another pair of sneakers today and says that she just wants to be comfortable walking around the zoo and traveling home. I pretty much mimic her outfit in a T-shirt and jeans, although my shirt doesn’t have a caption.

We enter the park through the gift shop and past the café before we exit out the back of the building and we’re on our way to see the animals.

There are a lot of exhibits, but for the most part, many of the animals roam pretty freely so as to maintain the aspects of their natural habitat. So, it’s very easy to just walk up to them and start feeding them. However, there are some enclosures, and what’s the first one that we see?

You guessed it—the reptile enclosure.

“I don’t want to go in there,” Butterfly protests.

“Don’t be a chicken,” I say. “We don’t even know if we’ll see the same things we saw at the zoo. We’ll probably see something more interesting and exotic.”

“I see snakes on the display, Christian. We will see the same things.”

“Well, then, you know that they’re in cages, and I want to see the snakes.” I enter the reptile enclosure to see what types of exotic animals are on display. Lawrence stays with my wife outside as I take a look around.

It’s probably a good idea that Butterfly stayed outside, because some of the snakes are contained in the displays and some of them are not. Granted, they’re not crawling all over the floor, but they are on displays outside of the glass. I don’t know why I’ve always been a bit fascinated by snakes. Maybe it’s because I’ve always considered myself a bit of an unsavory character—unkind, undeserving of love, maybe even a little wicked—and snakes have historically been associated with evil, like the serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden.

There are a few keepers in the reptile enclosure, all near one of the reptiles who aren’t contained. I’m fascinated by the one with this huge greenish snake wrapped around his body. I see that a small child is actually stroking the body of the snake and I walk over to get a closer look.

When I say this damn thing is huge, I mean it’s huge! I have no idea how long it is, but I’m fairly certain that it’s non-venomous if they’re allowing a child to pet it while it’s wrapped around another human being. I’ve only seen two other snakes this big. One is an anaconda and I’m pretty certain this ain’t one of those.

“Is that a Burmese python?” I ask the trainer. That’s the snake that accompanies Selma Hayak’s dance at the strip club in From Dusk Till Dawn.

“Thaht’s a good guess, mayte, but no. This is an olive poython. She can get ta be fordeen feet long and up to 20 kilos in body weight…”

Here’s another example of the varying accents in Australia. He hardly has an accent at all, and not only that, but I also note that he used a metric weight and a standard measure of length.

“Theyse ahr warm weathah poythons that eat really big pry—kangaroos, wallabays, things of thaht soht. This guhl here was actually a breedah for a while, but now she’s here with us.”

She looks strangely majestic wrapped around this guy and I reach out to caress her smooth skin…

“Would ya loike to hold hah?” he asks. I’m taken aback by the question and frown, but I find myself agreeing to hold the ginormous olive python. The keeper shows me how to cradle the snake as he helps her wrap her coils around my body. If you don’t cradle or hold them correctly, they can get hurt, which strangely means that in captivity, we’re more dangerous to them than they are to us.

I’m a tiny bit nervous holding the snake, admiring her texture and how gentle she is, and hearing more facts and statistics about how she came to be in the Adelaide preserve when olive pythons mostly inhabit northern Australia. I’m sort of wishing Butterfly was here with me to take a picture of this, but I’m certain that she’d probably have a coronary if she saw me like this. I don’t know why because it kind of feels like a big hug…

“Christian Trevelyan Grey, what the hell are you doing!?”

Is my mother here?

I raise my gaze to see a tiny and enraged Butterfly glaring at me with her hands on her hips, and the entire reptile enclosure falls silent.

“You have infant twins at home, and you come to Australia and suddenly become Steve Irwin! Have you lost your mind?” she scolds.

“It’s not dangerous, baby,” I say, and I feel like I’m twelve.

“Not dangerous??” she shrieks. “It’s a snake! A very big snake! And I can guarantee that it didn’t get that big by eating mice!”

“Thehr hahmless, ma’am,” the keeper says. “She’s not venomous and she’s gentle as a lamb.” Butterfly throws a glare at the keeper that chills my soul, and I simultaneously throw a glare at Lawrence, who simply shrugs. The shrug says a lot—he couldn’t stop her from coming in, but I’m still miffed at him.

“I thought you were staying outside,” I retort, trying to regain control of the situation.

“You’ve been in here forever,” she counters. “I would like to see the park!”

I haven’t been in here that long… have I?

“Sir,” she says, turning to the keeper, “would you please remove the huge, man-eating reptile from my husband?”

“Yes, ma’am. C’mon, guhl,” the keeper says as he gently begins to uncoil the python from my body and wrap her around his. I can see that he’s unsuccessfully trying to hide his mirth as he retrieves the snake. There’s no use in trying to reason with her right now. She might as well have walked in on me with another woman.

Actually, she did.

She does a military turn to leave and marches towards the door. Just before she gets there, we see a group of children gathered around another keeper. I’m sure we have the exact same thought. What in this room could have children gathered around like that?

She approaches cautiously and stands there, easily able to see over the children and somewhat mesmerized, I must say, by whatever has their attention. I look over her shoulder and the keeper is handling a bearded dragon. I don’t know what has Butterfly so mesmerized, but she is completely entranced. When the keeper asks if she wants to hold it, she extends her hand without even speaking. The keeper places the dragon in her flat palm, and she examines it carefully while the keeper gives us little factoids about it, like the fact that its beard does indeed look like unshaved whiskers and extends fully when he feels threatened.

I snicker at my wife’s obvious double standard and lean in to get a laugh at her expense.

“Mommy, can we keep it?” I whine like one of the children watching my wife, causing them to snicker. It breaks her trance and she looks over her shoulder at me. “You can hold a dragon, but I can’t hold a python.” She sticks her tongue out at me and hands the dragon back to the keeper with a “Thank you.”

“I told you at the zoo that I don’t have problems with lizards. It’s snakes that are my issue,” she says once we clear the door. “And how can you even compare the two? That dragon was twelve inches tops from nose to tail. That snake was ten feet long easily.”

“Fourteen, but who’s counting?” I say, walking past her and looking at the full-sized map since she has the small one.

“You are such an a—ah! Oh, God!” I turn around to see my wife leaping backwards and looking at something on the ground. A large ball of fur is running towards her, and she yelps. And then another. I look at the map and discover that these furry little not-so-adorable creatures are potoroos. Butterfly doesn’t like them too much. As a matter of fact, she could very much do without them.

Potoroos have really long tails and are about the size of a young housecat. When they stand, they resemble very small kangaroos. However, when they run on all fours—which they do more often—they look like very large, really fat rats. They scamper right across the trail as you’re walking by, causing my wife to nearly jump out of her skin when she sees the first one. I’m certain she would have scurried up the nearest tree if she could. Once she sees the first one, she has the displeasure of seeing them scamper all over the park in herds looking for food like giant rats in the sewers of New York. She opts not to feed them, although Lawrence gets a kick out of letting one of them eat from his hand.

A tiny bit of fun never hurt anybody.

A wallaby walks up to us on the trail and Butterfly leans down to feed it. However, a potoroo runs over to partake in the feast and Butterfly is having none of that. So, the poor wallaby has to wait until the next person comes with a treat. No worries, Butterfly. We’ll get a chance to see more wallabies deeper in the park.

Our next stop is the rainbow Lorikeet display. Two of the birds are huddled on the fence together and I swear, they look like their snuggling and making out. The minute one walks down the fence for some room, the other walks right back up to it and continues to rub against the first bird’s feathers.

“Is that how they mate?” I ask Butterfly, who has downloaded the Cleland app to help us identify the animals and get more information on them.

“Maybe,” she says, scrolling through her phone. “They’re mostly monogamous and most of them mate for life. So… these two could be a couple.”

Could be? It looks like one is going to mount the other right here on the fence!

After a quick left turn past the Lorikeets, we arrive at one of three kangaroo habitats—the Kangaroo Island kangaroos. You can walk right up to them and feed them right from your hand. From there we see the swamp wallabies, confirming what I said earlier—that we would get another chance to feed the wallabies without being swamped by what Butterfly so lovingly refers to as “wildlife rats.”

She’ll hold a fancy lizard, but she won’t go near the potoroos… My wife is strange.

Next, we walk through one of the aviaries in the park where we see various species of native birds, water birds, and forest birds and on the other end outside of the aviary, we see the cape barren geese and the emu. I think I remember seeing the emu and some kind of kangaroo at the Seattle Zoo, but I’m not sure. I have to say that I’m getting a kick out of not just seeing the usual suspects as I’m certain we would have had we gone to the Adelaide Zoo instead.

We spend a little time looking at the wombats, but unfortunately, they like to hide in their little dens or holes or whatever you call them. So, they’re not really interested in putting on a show for us. However, it’s a warm day, so the echidnas are out and about on display. They’re these tiny little things that favor miniature porcupines, but when I see them, I swear they remind me of powder puffs—maybe not so puffy, but they still look like powder puffs.

Further into the park are the western grey kangaroos and the yellow-footed flock wallabies. We see the wallabies first, and I mistake them for just more kangaroos, but the locals inform us that wallabies have shorter legs than kangaroos. I only see the difference after they point it out.

A western grey kangaroo with a baby in her pouch comes to eat from my wife’s hand, which is somewhat unusual, we’re told, since kangaroos are extremely protective of their babies. She actually holds onto Butterfly’s hands with one of hers while she eats the feed from her palm. Of course, I must capture that for posterity.

Jason calls us to inform us that he has arrived with our lunch, so we head to the picnic area, intent on saving the Tasmanian Devils and the Koala display for last. More time has passed than we thought as it’s easy to lose yourself in the various species of animals in the park, especially watching them thrive in their own habitat.

“Is it me or does is seem like we haven’t really had any alone time on this trip?” I begin as we tuck into a delicious picnic lunch of Thai salad with beef strips; chicken, avocado, and pesto rolls; a stocked deli and Mediterranean antipasto tray; fruit salad, croissants, sparkling mineral water, bottled water and of course, a bottle of white wine. My wife raises her head slowly and cocks it to the side, gazing at me like a strange animal.

“Well, yes, of course there’s been a lot of fucking,” I acknowledge, “but I just mean out and about.” She begins to load her fork with Thai salad.

“Well, we are in a foreign country,” she replies. “We have to have our security. It’s the nature of the beast—you pointed that out to me. And we’re in a very touristy part of the world. It’s not like we went to a retreat.” She takes the forkful of her salad.

“I know. I guess I kind of expected more ‘gazing at sunsets’ and that sort of thing. Speaking of sunsets…” I pull out the camera and scroll back to the pictures of the sunset that I took at Barossa Valley.

“Christian, these are beautiful,” she says as she scrolls through the pictures, temporarily abandoning her lunch. “Where did you take these?”

“Wine country,” I tell her. “Near the end as we were leaving.” She looks at me and frowns.

“Where was I?” she asks. “How could I have possibly missed this?”

“You were asleep, darling,” I inform her with a smile. The fruits of the land had you knocked out completely. She twists her lips.

“You’re going to rub that in,” she complains, handing me back the camera.

“Not as much as you did last night,” I say before taking a bite of my chicken wrap. The words are out of my mouth before I know it, and I don’t regret it. It’s true. She raises a brow to me and helps herself to some antipasto.

“I made a call a few days ago,” I say. “Remember when I said that I wanted us to have some kind of training when we got back to Seattle?” She nods. “Well, a couple of old, trusted acquaintances got back in touch with me and are willing to set something up for next weekend.” She swallows her food.

“That soon,” she says, picking at her salad. I place my fork on the plate and take her hand.

“Is there any reason why we should wait?” I ask. “We need some formal training.”

“What… exactly is involved in ‘formal training?’” she asks.

“We learn from people with experience how the lifestyle fits into our relationship,” I say, trying not to be too obvious to possible prying ears.

“Hmmm,” she says before turning back to her lunch.

“What?” I ask.

“I’m not sure how I feel about ‘formal training,’” she says. “It brings the Pedo-bitch She-thing to mind.” I twist my lips. I hadn’t thought about that.

“It’s going to be necessary, baby,” I tell her. “We’re going about this the wrong way. We jumped into it with both feet, but we never really knew what the other needed from the relationship. I’m feeling around in the dark for your needs and you’re pushing yourself beyond your limits for mine. That’s totally unacceptable.”

“But… strangers,” she says, trepid, “I realize the importance of assistance, believe me, but the thought of training for something so intimate with outsiders…” She’s shaking her head.

“When you needed guidance, you went to your friend, Michelangelo,” I point out. “This is going to be no different.”

“This is going to be world’s different,” she says, firmly but softly. “Someone’s going to be teaching me how to be a submissive. I remember the BDSM club, Christian, I don’t know if I want anybody to see me like that!”

See her like wha…?

“Whoa! Whoa! Wait a minute. I remember the BDSM club, too. I don’t want anybody to see you like that, either! Is that the kind of training you think I mean?”

Her expression softens, a mixture of relief and confusion.

“I tho… well… well, what other kind of training is there?”

I slump back in the chair a bit, my own emotions a bit of relief and amusement.

“Baby, you’re a psychiatrist,” I say softly, leaning in her direction. “You took human sexuality as part of your required studies. You must know that the biggest percentage of the lifestyle is psychological—what you mentally gain from the experience. The physical is an aid; it’s a means to an end. It’s not the meat of the relationship or the lifestyle. You must know that.”

“Well, yes, but…” Just as she begins her protest, I can see one of those three-second-funnels run through her head with a myriad of scenarios and questions and situations and realizations and in just as much time, she says, “You’re right. My mind is totally blowing past that part because it’s wrapped around the physical portion of it. I don’t know how I could have missed it.”

“Because you’re in it,” I point out, stroking the skin on the back of her hand. “It’s the same thing as being able to help someone else face and conquer their fears, but not being as successful about facing your own. It’s a normal human flaw. But now that I understand more clearly, I can tell you. Our training will be all instructional, informational, and verbal. We may take part in an activity or two if it’s required or we desire it, but I don’t want anybody else seeing or touching that beautiful body any more than you do.”

I stroke her cheek with the back of my hand and she physically relaxes. Geez, if she thought for one second that I would want anyone but me exercising any dominance of any kind on her, I’m extremely glad to dispel that theory. Touch my Butterfly? In a pig’s eye! And some other horny Dom watching me spank or flog her so that he can go impose his will on some pain whore somewhere with images of my Butterfly in his head? I think not!

“Yes,” she says, “yes, I think I would like to pursue this… to see… what we need to do to enhance our relationship and… to meet each other’s needs.” She’s choosing her words carefully. I can tell.

“I want to be a good husband, and a good Dom to you,” I say without hesitation or careful choosing of my words. “I want us to come to an agreement of what works for us instead of you feeling like my will must be imposed upon you. When I’ve lost control, I do want you to help me back to where I need to be, but only to the extent of what you can take, not what you think I need. You’re the perfect Domme for me when the time comes—and with very little training—but I’m definitely not the perfect Dom for you… yet.”

“That’s what we’re aiming for?” she asks uncertain. “Perfection?”

“As fucking close as we can get,” I say, bringing her hand to my lips and pressing a gentle kiss on her fingers. She gives me a faint, coy smile.

“I can deal with close,” she says softly.

We finish our lunch talking lightly about the things we plan to do when we get back home, but I can tell that she’s still distracted by the previous content of our conversation. I’ll just have to show her that everything will be better throughout the course of our training. She’s not some mindless, meaningless submissive. She’s my wife, and it’s important that she knows what she means to me—even in that submissive role… especially in that submissive role.

We’re back on the trail to commune with the rest of the animals in the park before we must head to the airport. Our first stop is the red kangaroo area. The kangaroos stick around in groups of two or three—one, occasionally—especially babies with parents. All of the animals are pretty docile and accustomed to human interaction, and the red kangaroo is no exception. I lean down to feed one of them while Butterfly is feeding another. He lies down on the grass in the shade and gets comfortable, forcing me to walk over to him and squat. While he’s chilling under the tree, I extend my open hand with the feed and he just chomps away. I reach up and rub his head, giving him a scratch behind his ear. The freaking diva raises his chin like a dog as if to say, “You missed a spot.” I hear a little giggle and look over at my wife, who’s videotaping my interaction with my latest friend on the digital camera. I give her a good show and scratch him under his neck, since he so obligingly raised his head to give me a better angle.

We continue through the preserve and arrive at the dingoes den. They have a beautiful coat, and amongst themselves, they’re very playful. However, they’re considered “pests” and as an old tale goes, they like to eat babies in Australia. I don’t know how true that is, but according to one of the locals also attending the park, there is a story from the 80’s that a woman named Lindy Chamberlain’s baby mysteriously disappeared while on a camping trip.

Dingoes, like any other animal in the wild, are opportunistic and mostly eat small animals like rabbits and rodents. At the time, the ranger was touting that dingoes in the area were becoming quite aggressive and due to the eating habits and reputation of the dingo, Chamberlain declared that a dingo had eaten her baby. The story is apparently pretty controversial because some people say that dingoes don’t really eat babies. Yet, she lost her baby and blamed a dingo.

Though the infant’s clothing was discovered mangled and bloody about two and a half miles away from the campsite, the child was never found.

The dingo is a carnivorous canine, likened to a reddish-brown wild dog, with a longer snout and sharper teeth. Whether they attack babies or just eat rabbits remains to be seen. However, the pure dingo is an endangered species because of crossbreeding with domestic dogs, so pest or not, the pure dingoes in this habitat are protected.

We finally get to see some real, live Tasmanian devils. The little buggers are tiny little black things that scurry around looking for food or whatever it is they’re looking for. This being my first time ever seeing a live Tasmanian devil, I try to compare it to the cartoon.

“No resemblance,” I say. Butterfly frowns.

“To what?” she asks.

“To the cartoon,” I reply. She pauses for a moment, then laughs loudly.

“Besides the ears, have you ever seen a rabbit that looks like Bugs Bunny?” she asks mirthfully.

She’s got a point.

Many of these devils are very small, but they’ll only get to be just over two feet long at their longest only about 18 pounds. I would say that all of these are less than ten pounds. They can run pretty fast—about 8 miles/hour—and although he’s not leaving utter destruction in his path, this little guy in the enclosure looks like he’s trying to reach that speed as he runs around and around and around in circles while his friends just sit on a rock watching him. I guess the cartoon Tassy is more of a caricature of what the Tasmanian devil should look like, because I see little to no resemblance whatsoever.

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Now, of course, Butterfly has to have the experience of holding a koala. They’re cute and lovable and right up her alley, and they’re actually very strong. My wife adores them. Had I jokingly asked if we could take one home like I did the bearded dragon, I’m certain she would have agreed and demanded that I find a way for us to have a Koala transported to the Crossing. I could see myself trying to convince her that we are not the Neverland Ranch and a koala is not Bubbles. Oh, the arguing with PETA and animal control and the zoning board for keeping an exotic animal in the area…

And I quickly bring my mind back from the tangent.

We pet them for a while and learn about their upbringing and temperament from the keeper while they feed on sprigs with eucalyptus leaves. Finally, Butterfly gets her much-anticipated opportunity to hold the koala. The keeper instructs us to don a smock that’s very soft like velvet or something, almost like the koala’s fir and the same color. We each get the opportunity to hold the koala in our arms and Butterfly is completely stricken. She gets her picture taken with the little guy and I think he’s as stricken with her as she is with him—he won’t release her when it’s my turn to hold him.

We finally come to a compromise and Butterfly pets him while I hold him. That’s the only way that he would settle in my arms! When he finally does, though, he cuddles into me and continues to eat his eucalyptus leaves. Butterfly stays by my side while I take a picture with it to keep the little guy from squirming. It’s like holding a small child—well, not my kids. My kids are cuter, but this little guy is pretty cute, too. We have to be careful while we’re handling them as they have powerful claws and can scratch you pretty badly. That’s why we wore the smocks.

Butterfly is sad to leave the wildlife park, particularly the koala area, but we stop at the gift shop where we buy lots of trinkets and souvenirs as well as copies of our pictures from the Koala experience. Oh, and she purchased several stuffed koalas, too.


ANASTASIA

Traveling to and from Australia means that you can literally be traveling for about 48 hours to three days, if you count swapping planes and layovers. What I can’t understand is if we could fly from Sydney straight to Seattle after a 1 ½-hour layover—which is what we did—why couldn’t we fly from Seattle straight to Sydney? Since I’m not the pilot, it’s a rhetorical question. And since the flight is already done, it’s also a moot point.

There’s a bit of fanfare at the airport when we arrive—not much, but more than I expected since no one knew that we had left the country. I assume that someone else must have been flying out or arriving at SeaTac, and they just got a bonus capturing the Greys.

Boy, was I wrong!

I’m sad to leave Australia and my fuzzy koala friends, but I’m very happy to be home with my bed and my babies, though I can honestly admit that I didn’t miss the snow. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on those two little pink bundles when we arrive on Sunday evening, and Gail is right on top of it, handing me Minnie the moment I remove my coat and settle in the family room. Once that order of business is complete, she dives right into the next one.

“Did I correctly see you with a giant snake wrapped around your body?”

Christian and I look at each other and back at her.

“What?” he asks incredulously.

“Either someone has some very good photoshopping skills or there’s a picture circulating around the internet of you with a Burmese python wrapped around your body… in those clothes!” she confirms pointing at him.

“Are you serious?” he asks. “That couldn’t have been a day ago! Did you see any paps around?” he inquires of Jason.

“Um, I was retrieving lunch at the time,” Jason replies, “but Ben didn’t notify me of any press when I got back.”

“Then who took the picture?” I ask.

“It says Renee Schuller took the picture,” Gail says, scrolling through her phone. “She was another visitor at the zoo when she heard someone yell your name. Knowing who you were, she snapped the picture and posted it on her Facebook. It went viral in a matter of an hour.” My husband slowly turns his head to me, and I shrink a bit.

“Well, what did you expect?” I defend. “I walk into a reptile enclosure that I didn’t want to go inside in the first place to find my wayward husband who had spent so much time in there, I thought one of the reptiles had eaten him, and when I get in there, he’s got a god… gosh darn snake wrapped around his body that I discover is over twice as long as he is tall! Yes, I flipped the f… freak out.”

“You called out his name?” Jason asks.

“Yes, I was horrified! He had a frag-nabbit python wrapped around his body!”

“And someone recognized him just because you called out his name?” Gail protests.

“She called out my full name—all three of them—loudly, and somebody knew who I was. I was expecting to turn around and see Grace standing there! Instead, I’m standing there being scolded by my wife trying to convince her that the snake is harmless. Even the keeper was laughing at me. Oh! But not five minutes later, she’s holding a dragon!” All eyes snap to me.

“God, you are so dramatic,” I chastise.

“You were holding a Komodo dragon?” Gail asks surprised.

“No!” I reply, a bit perturbed with my husband. “I was holding a bearded dragon, not a Komodo dragon. Komodo dragons are much bigger than bearded dragons…”

“Yeah, like a hundred and eighty pounds,” Jason points out.

“Exactly!” I say. “I was holding a lizard that was about 10 inches long. He was holding a 14-foot python!”

“And it was an olive python, not a Burmese python,” Christian defends.

“What’s the difference?” I retort.

“About ten feet,” Jason interjects. Christian makes that one-up kind of face, and I just want to punch him.

“Fourteen feet, Christian!” I announce. “Fourteen feet of man-eating reptile wrapped around your body! Exactly how did you expect me to react?”

“I didn’t expect you to be there!” he counters.

“Then you should’ve brought your as… butt out of the reptile cage!” I retort sharply.

“What is this thing you’re doing?” Jason points at me with an open hand. “Gosh darn butt freaking frag-nabbit—what is this?”

“My children are almost a year old which means they’re going to be forming more words which means I don’t want any cursing around my babies.” I announce.

“Yet, you’re cursing me out about a flipping snake,” Christian mumbles, deliberately loud enough for me to hear him. Did I curse once? Did I say even one curse word? One?

“I’m going to hit him,” I say calmly to Jason while pointing to my husband. I’m going to hit him really hard and he may need medical attention.

“Remember, boss,” Jason says, “you have to sleep with her.”

Christian twists his lips but quickly gets the point and goes to the refrigerator.

“Hey! You guys are back!” Chuck comes from the area of the elevator, acknowledging our presence. “It’s been dead here without you,” he says, coming over to the sofa and giving me a kiss on the cheek. “How was Australia?”

“It was an adventure,” I say, somewhat dryly. Chuck sits on the arm of the sofa next to Keri.

“You didn’t have a good time?” he asks, curious. I sigh and kiss my yawning baby girl.

“No, we really had a great time—a couple of adventures here and there, but nothing to write home about… except when someone gets a picture of you and posts it on Facebook.” I twist my lips as Christian comes back into the family room with a Budvar, drinking it straight from the bottle.

“Oh, you saw the picture,” Chuck says. “What did you think?”

“I didn’t see it,” I reply. “I was there!” He turns to Christian.

“What did you think?” Chuck asks.

“I didn’t see it either, but I will,” he says dryly, before taking a drink of his beer.

“Ooookay, so, that’s my cue to shut the hell up,” Chuck says.

“Good idea,” Jason advises, “and watch your language.”

“What did I say?” Chuck says, shrugging.

“Hades,” Jason replies. “Her Highness doesn’t want any cursing around the children since they’ll be picking up words soon.” Chuck nods.

“Will you ever stop calling me Her Highness?” I ask.

“Old habits die hard and you started it, so live with it,” he replies matter-of-factly. I twist my lips and turn to Chuck.

“So, Chuck, tell us about your trip, first. How did things go?” I ask. Chuck sighs.

“Well, I got to see Mom and Dad’s house… not new, but new to me. It’s in Rapid City and it’s really beautiful—four bedrooms and three baths. Mom and Dad don’t need that much room, but they wanted to have room when Sunny and the kids came to visit. It’s a beautiful place and I would have loved to share some of those missed years with them, but…” He trails off and clears his throat.

“You know that we spent the days in court,” he continues, entwining his fingers with Keri’s. “Most of the nights we spent in front of the fireplace with good old-fashioned hot cocoa and marshmallows, going through albums and pictures of old times… and things that I missed—birthday parties, Christmases, Thanksgivings. We had good, home-cooked meals. I mean our meals here are pretty great, but there’s nothing like Mom’s cooking. She made this cabbage soup that she used to make when I was at home. I haven’t had it in forever! And the pan cornbread! Keri had three helpings!” he laughs.

“Eet wahs deleshush!” Keri exclaims, her eyes large. “It wahm an wholesome. ‘S like a huhg from de inside!”

We all laugh, and Chuck continues to tell us how his parents connected with him in their home and in their town, how they saw the sights of the city and even visited Mt. Rushmore. We don’t rush him to talk about the trial. We just let him ramble on for a while about reconnecting with his parents and wanting to go back home to visit more often, now that he actually has a home.

“Joe is a miserable bastard,” he says finally, as if he were saving the worst for last. “He sees what he’s done, and he knows what he’s done. He just doesn’t care. He found a way to make himself the victim the entire time. He told the court about my drinking, my terrible behavior—you know, destroying his wedding and stuff—and how he was desperately trying to protect his parents from my toxicity. It was like he had a catalog of every terrible thing I had ever done when I was drunk. If I were on the outside looking in, I would have taken his side, too.”

“So… what happened? Did he win?” Jason asks. Chuck purses his lips.

“We had an uphill battle, me and mom,” Chuck says. “We had to prove that we had lost something besides time in order for it to be an actionable case. Joe spent months preparing for this case. Every bit of my dirty laundry has been aired in South Dakota… the cars I wrecked, the wedding I destroyed, the break-ups I’ve had—if I stole a pack of gum, it’s now on the court record. At first, everybody was looking at me like I was a criminal, but when we got a chance to speak…”

He clears his throat again and has to regain his countenance a bit. It’s obviously hard for him to talk about it, and now I can see why he waited to discuss it.

“Joe talked for the whole first day, which I thought was strange since he was the defendant. He had all kinds of convincing evidence as to why he felt like I shouldn’t be allowed contact with my parents. He looked like the perfect, simple little country boy just trying to protect his ‘maw and paw’ while I went off to the city to live a fast life and get drunk. He even used our accident against me,” Chuck says, looking at me, “claiming that he came to Seattle to see me last year only to find me laid up, busted, and broken after having an accident from driving while drunk. I looked like Satan when he was done. I didn’t even want to take the stand. We went to a restaurant that night for dinner, and they wouldn’t even serve us!”

He shakes his head while Christian and I exchange a glance. He tried to use my accident to gain ground for his selfish actions—that unfeeling asshole!

“I came back to the house that night, and I told Mom that I didn’t think it was worth it. I would be coming back to Seattle at the end of the week and I would never have to see that town or him again if I didn’t want to, but they have to live there. Mom wouldn’t let me quit. She told me that he stole something very valuable from us and that if we didn’t see this through, win or lose, that he would automatically win. Then Keri gave me a pep talk and pretty much said the same thing Mom said. All I had was the truth—I didn’t have a mountain of memories and journal entries to spill in front of the court. I didn’t know how effective I would be.

“We went to court the next day and got the surprise of our lives. With a town full of angry ass people staring at me, I took the stand. Mom’s lawyer asked me questions, and I told my side. I didn’t deny anything he said. I owned up to everything that I did, except I wouldn’t let him use that accident against me. I told the court about the car that T-boned us and that anyone who wanted to know what happened in that accident could Google my name, the date, and that accident in Seattle and get the truth.”

“Did they do that?” I ask.

“Most of the court was on the phone while I was still testifying,” he responds. “That’s when the tide changed.”

Jesus, I’m glad to hear that! I’m sitting on the edge of my seat—literally—waiting to hear the rest of what happened.

“With one statement and in a matter of about a minute, I had established Joe as a liar and even worse, an opportunist. He not only lied about me and the accident, but he tried to use it against me to his advantage in a court of law, which is perjury. To keep him out of jail, his lawyer recalled him to the stand where he testified that he didn’t intentionally lie on me; he just didn’t have all the facts. With my history and seeing me laid up from a car accident, of course he assumed I was driving drunk. The judge opted not to charge him with perjury, but the damage was already done.

“I told the court about my time in rehab and AA; the years of trying to get in touch with my parents and how he destroyed all my letters; thinking that they hated me and never wanted to see me again; doing my tours of duty and coming back and joining a private security force; getting into that terrible accident that almost killed me; only being able to reach my parents because I had a wealthy boss who tracked them down after Joe came to see me asking for money for them and told me that they still wanted nothing to do with me; having an entire family all across the country that didn’t even know I was alive… I’d say the tide shifted pretty strongly.

“Mom had a plan… a big one. Never try to pull one over on your mother. She’ll get you every time.” He chuckles and shakes his head.

“My family came from everywhere!” he says, “not all of them, but a lot of them. They all talked about watching my mother suffer, about the years she spent researching and following dry trails and trying to track me down, waiting for a phone call or something in the mail to tell her something, anything, any tiny bit of hope. Mom had been searching for years trying to find me—trying to get me some help if that’s what I needed—and all the time, I was okay. I was in full recovery and living a healthy life. What Joe did wasn’t just selfish. It was cruel.

“Three days of nothing but solid testimony against my brother—hours and hours of recounting all the stories he told and the lengths he went to in order to ensure that I wouldn’t be able to get in touch with anybody and that nobody would be able to get in touch with me. Christian, as horrible as it was, had that car not nearly killed me, I never would have found my family, and they never would have found me.

“The parade of people that came through that courtroom talking about how my mother suffered, what she went through and what she did—they laid a foundation for her, and she got on that stand and cinched the deal.

“Mom had records—money that she paid for internet searches and background checks—nothing that panned out because she was using amateur resources and by the time she was searching for me, I was already in the service. After I didn’t hear anything from them, I moved on with my life. Jay called me about this great opportunity, I came to Seattle, and that was that… but Mom, she now had to deal with what she accepted as the death of her son and was going through therapy… money trail.”

I see where he’s going with this. They’re suing for slander and defamation of character, but he didn’t want money—he never did. He just wanted somebody to tell Joe that he was wrong, but you don’t get that kind of satisfaction in civil court. There has to be something lost—like I lost wages when David kidnapped me, and I lost money when that Keystone Cop took my credit cards—that can result in a need for restitution and possibly be a catalyst for punitive damages. Maddie produced that loss. Now, they had a real case.

“Joe had tried to make the therapy seem like it was my fault for disappearing. It didn’t float. Even his ex-wife showed up in court talking about how obsessed he was with keeping me and my parents apart even before she left him. In the end, he lost.”

Those were the words I was waiting for.

“He lost the case?” I confirm. “You won?” Chuck nods.

“Mom showed a monetary loss and had records and witnesses to prove it. I didn’t really show a monetary loss except for the stamps on the letters he destroyed. But when I mentioned the wealthy boss who tracked my parents down, there’s an expense that can be tracked… and it was enough.”

“So, what happened?” I ask, anxious to hear Joe’s fate.

“The jury found in our favor,” he says. “They awarded us one of the weirdest settlements I’ve ever seen in my life. Joe has to pay me and my mom a dollar a week… every week… for life!”

“What?” I ask, a bit surprised as well as a bit appalled.

“Yep, and if he misses a payment, he’ll be held in contempt of court and arrested.”

“You’re kidding,” Christian says.

“I’m not,” Chuck replies. “He can’t file bankruptcy to discharge it, because it’s something that he can pay. There’s no hardship. Even if he had other debts that he couldn’t pay, this one still couldn’t be discharged. He is locked in. If he doesn’t make the payments, he’ll be held in contempt of court and then have to do jail time. Then he’ll have to pay fines when he gets out and he’ll still have to pay our restitution. The only way that he can get out of this is to leave the state, but even that has its repercussions. He would still have to make the payments wherever he goes and if he doesn’t and the court finds out, there’ll be a warrant issued for his arrest and he’ll be a fugitive. He’s locked in.”

“How did things end?” Jason asks. “I mean, I know you had to have something to say.”

“I told him to never darken my door again and forget that I’m alive except when he has to write my check. Then I let him know that every penny that he gives me is going to a local alcohol rehab program so that more people can be success stories like me.”

“I don’t know,” I say. “Fifty-two dollars a year—that hardly seems like compensation for what you lost.”

“Can you really put a price on what he did to me?” Chuck says. “To my family? They thought I was dead… my mom thought I was dead. He knew I was alive… and well. He knew I had gone through rehab. He knew I was in the military. He knew, but he was holding this anger for what I did at his wedding, and subsequently somehow blamed me for ruining his life. My mother can’t stand not to speak to him because that’s her son, and I wouldn’t expect it to be any other way, but what he did to us is immeasurable.

“I think the judge did the right thing, because assigning a specific dollar amount would have been an insult. Yet, by saying, ‘Send them a dollar a week every week for life…’ you don’t know when that’s going to end, so there’s no set dollar amount on that. Plus, he’ll never forget. He’ll never forget what he did to us and why he has to pay for it, even if it’s just a dollar. He was wrong. He was very wrong, and somebody in authority confirmed that. Somebody told him he was wrong, and he can’t take out a loan or hock his drawers and pay off the debt and call it even. It’ll never be even. What he did to us will never be even! Yeah, I think the judge did the right thing.”

He takes a deep breath and lets it out while Keri rubs his back.

“Mom surprised me, though,” he says once he’s calm again. “She kissed him in the middle of the courtroom right after the verdict in front of everybody. She told him that she loved him, but that she must have failed somewhere as a mother. She told him that if he doesn’t pay that dollar every week to me and to her like the judge ordered that contempt of court wouldn’t be his only problem. She said that $2 a week was the very least that he could do after what he put his family through, and that if he couldn’t do that, she would never speak to him again. She said that she has unconditionally given the last fifteen years to him and that she was giving the rest to me, and he could be a part of it, or he doesn’t have to. It’s his choice. And then we left.”

“Wow… talk about courtroom drama,” I say.

“I feel so bad for Joe,” Chuck says. I almost hurt myself rubbernecking over to him.

“Why in the he… heck do you feel bad for Joe?” Christian asks

“Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying he didn’t deserve what he got, but I do feel sorry for him. I don’t know if he has any friends, but he’s alienated his family to the degree that I don’t think it can ever be fixed. I’m his brother. No matter what happened in our lives, I’m still his brother, and look what he did to me. Look what he did to my mom and dad. Nobody’s ever going to trust him again.

“I was under the influence of a controlling drug that I let go of and never touched again. He did this with sound mind and body. He has no excuse. I can forgive him for what he did to me. I really can. I can’t forgive what he did to my mom and dad.”

He shakes his head again and the room falls silent.

“So, on another note, my parents are going to spend an early Christmas with Sunny and the kids, and then, they’re coming here and staying through the New Year. I had a feeling you wouldn’t mind if they stayed here, but they can stay at my place in Bainbridge if it’s an imposition.” His face is alight again with joy, talking about his parents coming for Christmas.

“Now you know better than that,” Christian scolds. “Find out what would make them more comfortable. I’m fine with whatever they want to do.”

“When will they arrive?” I ask.

“I don’t know yet, but I’ll have to get the Bainbridge house cleaned for their arrival just in case,” he says. “Now, enough about me. I want to hear about the trip. I’ve never been to Australia. Jason, what do you think of Sophie’s new look?”

Jason frowns and Gail drops her head.

“Dammit, Chuck, thanks a lot!” she exclaims. I look down at Minnie and she’s asleep in my arms. Mikey is out cold in the Pack-n-Play. Crisis averted. Gail didn’t even notice.

“What new look?” Jason asks. Gail shakes her head and takes out her phone. She swipes the screen and enters something into it. Jason reaches into his pocket and pulls out his phone.

“What the fuck!?” he yells.

And two babies are startled and crying.

“God! Thanks, Jason!” I declare and try to get Minnie to settle while Christian retrieves Mikey and gently begins to sooth him. Jason is unfazed, at least by my scolding.

“Gail, what the hell?” he hisses quietly through his teeth.

“She wanted to try something different,” Gail defends. Did she shave her head? Oh, dear God…

“What’s wrong? What is it?” I ask, praying that she didn’t follow Harmony’s lead and scalp herself.

“Purple!” he barks at me. “Her hair is purple! She looks like one of those rainbow horses you used to see in those cartoons! Who’s idea was this?”

0c92ef8bcafa0f5da9440b78ed459cb6And now I’m trying to suppress a laugh. The hormonal, emotional teenage girl dyed her hair purple. Worse things have happened.

“Calm down, Jason. It’s a rinse,” Gail chastises. “It’ll be gone in about three shampoos and then she’ll probably be green.”

“Oh, God,” Jason laments. “Please don’t let child services see her. They’ll probably take her away from me.”

“Um, Jason,” I say, “child services removes a child from abusive and dangerous situations, not because she dyed her hair purple.” He sighs heavily and rolls his eyes.

“This is just a phase, right? Tell me this is a phase. I hope this is a phase…”

“Oh, for God’s sake, man, stop being so dramatic. What are you going to do when she brings home a boyfriend?” Gail chides. I raise a brow and turn to Jason.

“Ugh,” he groans, puts his hand on his forehead, and turns away. Gail and I chuckle quietly, and I just shake my head. She’s already in that stage, Jay. You better prepare yourself.


A/N: The way that this picture was previously labeled in Pinterest made me think I might have made young Sophie’s hair purple before. I don’t think I did, but just in case, someone let me know if I did.

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, 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

The Australia Picture Board can be found here: https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/raising-grey-the-trip-to-australia/ and the pictures from today’s chapter are in the Cleland Wildlife Park” sections.

And of course, the regular Pinterest board is here: https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/raising-grey/

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.

~~love and handcuffs

 

 

Raising Grey: Chapter 83—Basking in Barossa Valley

FUN, FUN, FUN!!!

I enjoyed writing and editing this chapter so much that there will be no warnings besides that the previous disclaimers apply. Travelling through the Barossa Valley was so much fun, and I adored the experience more than anything that I’ve written in Book IV so far, and that says a lot. Please, please, please try to follow the pictures on the Pinterest page for this chapter as you read. I guarantee it will enhance your experience immensely. They can be found at THIS LINK and there are eight Barossa Valley subheadings. If you’re a visual person like me, you won’t regret it!

Thank you all for going on this journey with me and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Chapter 83—Basking in Barossa Valley

ANASTASIA

St. Hugo’s was a divine experience. It was almost spoiled by two uncouth cows who pointed me out, once again, as Christian’s bracelet, but he quickly put them in their place without saying a word directly to either of them while at the same time making me feel every bit the beautiful princess.

I still don’t understand what strikes people’s ire so much about us. I guess it’s okay to be young, rich, beautiful, or happy, but not all four. I’m not saying that my husband is a bad person, but in his business dealings, I’m certain that he has pissed off a person or three. I haven’t done anything to anybody! Yet, they come at me with their claws bared for no reason whatsoever…

Because I’m married to Christian…
Because I’m pretty…
Because we’re rich…

I don’t even know anymore. I’m working on my pledge to not let what people say about me bother me so much, but I have to admit that I’m not doing such a great job. I’ve never been able to embrace the concept of not liking someone simply for the cause of not liking them. They either think I’m a gold-digger or a trophy wife. Do they think I’m not good enough? And if not me, then who would’ve been?

What would satisfy the criteria of marrying the great Christian Grey—another billionairess? Then they would have been angry with her for being too damn ambitious and wanting too much.

He’s beautiful and he married a beautiful woman. What if he had married a dog? They would be talking about his taste and her looks.

He’s young and I’m young. What if he had married a cougar? That May-December “romance” would have gotten quite the un-rave reviews!

And God only knows what major shit they would be talking if we had marital problems splattered all over the tabloids.

You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t, so I’m back to the way of thinking that I need to let this shit roll off of me. I just didn’t think I would be subjected to that jealous type of scrutiny in a foreign country where no one knows who we are or anything about us. I guess people are just naturally catty and there’s really nothing you can do about that.

Bearing this in mind, I have every intention of eating way too much food and drinking way too much of the delicious offerings of the region, and anybody who doesn’t like it or me can kiss the darkest, wettest part of my lily-white ass!

Jacob’s Creek is our next stop and it’s so close that we could walk. Nonetheless, I have no arguments with taking the short jaunt in this beautiful classic Chrysler. We’re adding the delicious St. Hugo’s Cabernet to our wine cellar, and we’ve decided to keep one bottle of the Screaming Eagle and one of the St. Hugo for our collection. However, I believe in living and enjoying life and I plan on drinking the rest.

Just like at St. Hugo, we enjoy four tastings from the winery’s cellar door exclusive Heritage wine collection paired with four delicious courses matched perfectly with the wine. I remember the steps involved in the tastings and what to look for—techniques taught to me by my husband on our honeymoon. I’m proud and a bit astonished that I remember these things since these are very specific details and our honeymoon was before the accident that has subdued a lot of my memories.

I combine the knowledge I received from Christian with a bit of my own knowledge and repeat the steps from the tasting at St. Hugo’s…

Hold the glass by the stem so as not to affect the temperature of the wine.
Examine the color and body of the wine. Is it dark and rich or easy to see through like colored glass?

I remember my husband speaking of the dress of the wine—the color. He taught me that that darker the color, the older the vintage. So, while some of our reds are ruby and a bit transparent, the older wines are darker, richer, and more of a brick color.

I swirl the glass and examine the legs. They’re thick and a bit heavy on some, not so much on others.

Cover my nose with the glass and absorb the smell to pick up certain notes in each vintage before I take a sip and aerate the wine to give my tongue the chance to ponder the flavor.

I make the most of the experience. Jacob’s Creek boasts fine wines and delicious dishes to tempt the palate. However, I must say that St. Hugo’s felt more personable where Jacob’s Creek seemed a bit more mass-production-commercial to me. There was even the option to have a picnic lunch on site, but even that seemed more like, “Here’s your box—now go down past the old fig tree to the creek… with all the other people who bought a box lunch.”

John’s keen senses zero in on the fact that I’m not enjoying this experience as much as St. Hugo. I don’t hate it—it just seems like a bit of a downgrade. We don’t dawdle at Jacob’s Creek for too long before we’re back on another picturesque journey to our next winery.

The Charles Melton Vineyard is a bit more my taste. This winery is quaint—the quaintness of St. Hugo, but not such a large scale. At the risk of being considered a snob, I feel that if you’re going to spend the day in wine country riding around in a vintage luxury car and spending $1000 on a single bottle of wine, none of the wineries that you visit should feel like you’re walking into a liquor store.

Charles Melton definitely meets the mark.

This winery is mainly known for its delectable shirazes and grenaches, two vintages that were somewhat unfashionable when the winery was founded in 1984 but have grown majorly in popularity since then, especially in this region. These wines aren’t as pricey as the St. Hugo, but they’re surprisingly delicious. The winery specializes in only a few blends and you get to sample them all. I’m happy to order a case of the La Belle Mere Grenache Shiraz Mataro and the Grains of Paradise Shiraz. The Grains of Paradise boast a complex sweetness reminiscent of sitting in a swing or in the grass in the meadow on a cool spring or slightly cooler summer Sunday afternoon while the Grenache begs to mature for a few years in the cellar to richen the Barossa ripeness and the boldness of the smoky, dark, sweet fruits.

We don’t get the pairing experience at Charles Melton without actually ordering a meal. However, we’re able to indulge in tastings of olive oil and cheeses, and smoked meats from the local butcher between cellar door visits.

I’m beginning to feel the effects of some of the wines by the time we reach the Yalumba Winery, but that doesn’t stop me from indulging in the Winemaker’s Lunch on the Yalumba Signature Lawn. Now, I’m already a sheet or two to the wind, not completely over the edge but feeling mighty fine. This apparently means absolutely nothing to the sommeliers at Yalumba, who for whatever reason feel that you should taste as many wines as your body can possibly hold.

I have officially lost count of how many wines we’ve tasted before we even get to lunch. You taste three to four wines—maybe five—at each winery that you visit. This place has something like 15! Just to taste! This doesn’t include the pairings with lunch. And the wines at Yalumba are devilishly delicious! There are four different heavenly Rieslings in the tasting, and I even like the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon Blanc… and Chardonnay is definitely not my thing unless it’s part of a pairing. I’m very pleasantly surprised by the Eden Valley Virgilius Viognier and the Grenache of Rosé, but I have a feeling that my prior libations may have contributed to my enjoyment of these elixirs.

We sample a concoction called Running with the Bulls Tempranillo—and not even my previous inebriation helped with that experience. That’s a definite no.

The Cabernet/Shiraz mixes make up for that experience, however—the Signature blend as well as The Scribbler blend. I can see some of these making their way back to the States with us.

Somewhere in between the seventh, eighth, tenth tasting, I don’t know, it’s time for us to have our Winemaker’s Lunch. I inform Christian that I’d like a case of the Signature and Scribbler blends. He subsequently decides that he wants the Eden Vineyard Shiraz Viognier and Eden Valley Sauvignon Blanc. So, he arranges for the wines to be shipped. No sooner than he put his Amex Black back in his wallet that I turn around and come face-to-face with the same two cows that we saw at St. Hugo’s walking into the cellar door.

Now, I’m not toasted, but I’ve been officially dipped, and the filter is off.

“Oh, look, there’s second place! Or third… or tenth… or whatever,” I blurt out with a giggle while pointing at them and leaning on my husband who tries and fails to stifle a laugh. I’m sure that if they didn’t get my meaning, he did.

If I’m a trophy wife, they’re way down on the placement list!

“Come, my inebriated Butterfly,” he says, putting his arm around my waist to stable me as we leave the cellar door.

“Bye!” I say cheerfully looking over my shoulder while waving at the cows who were talking about me earlier.

“I love it when you’re like this,” he says, scooping me into his arms once we’re outside, “not too drunk but pickled just enough.”

Live acoustic music is playing on the lawn while we enjoy the sunshine, great food, and yet more wine pairings from Yalumba—Old Bush Vine Grenache and The Guardian Shiraz Viognier blend, both from Samuel’s Garden. Lunch consists of decadent courses ranging from prosciutto-wrapped scallops to lamb, Scotch fillets, and smoked salmon. Tarts, cannolis, and souffles with vanilla bean ice-cream complete our meal and we sit in the sunshine allowing it to digest a bit. After a tall, cold glass of water and a trip or two to the ladies’ room, my high has worn off a bit—not completely, but a bit, and I’m ready to hit the valley again.

I’m sitting happily snuggled in the arms of my husband in the back seat of the vintage Chrysler, smiling widely on the inside and probably on the outside as well, as we once again travel down picturesque streets with rolling green hills lined with beautiful trees. As we approach the more populated areas, we see cozy little houses and then a church, followed by more commercial-type buildings—still a bit of a small-town feel, but more business and commerce in this area… the grocery store, the cheese shop, the post office, the beauty salon.

Once again, it could be all the wine, but I’m beginning to think of John as a personal friend of ours. He has proven to be a wealth of knowledge throughout our excursion, providing entertaining commentary on the history and culture of the Barossa, the amazing wines, local characters that we’ve seen or met along the way, and the culture, architecture, and terrain of the region. It was he who suggested that we sample the cheeses, meats, and wares of the area in between our tastings to accommodate our alcohol intake from the wineries that provided tastings without parings. We quickly learn that our wine-tasting experience is bespoke, and I’m more and more pleased that John is our guide through the enchanting valley.

Our next stop is Penfolds.

We pull up at a tan stucco building in the middle of the city. I frown a bit because I’m expecting more experiences like St. Hugo’s and less like Jacob’s Creek, but even Jacob’s Creek wasn’t this commercial—full asphalt parking lot and the building looks like it could be anything… a factory, a storage facility, a hardware store. There are no vineyards, fields, or trees anywhere, and I just don’t have a good feeling about it.

Apparently, my face said that out loud.

John informs us that the Penfolds Magill Estate Winery and Cellar Door is more than an hour away, and he didn’t want us to leave Barossa Valley without having tried their flagship Grange.

“Give it a chahnce, sheila,” John says. “OI’m cehtain you won’t be disappointed.”

Well, if John says so…

We enter the well-too-lit cellar door and I feel like I’m in a liquor store again. It’s worse than Jacob’s Creek… at least they had the creek!

John tells the vintner where we’ve traveled most of the day and informs her that he thinks we’d like the “A Taste of Grange” and the “Laboratory” experience.

Though the location is missing the ambience and the je ne sais quoi of the other on-site cellar doors, the experience is still wonderful. The staff is unbelievably accommodating, and I think I tasted more wine than I did at Yalumba… and just as tasty! The Taste of Grange experience is fabulous, and our host is just as engaging as John is. We get the opportunity to taste a number of delicious luxury granges from various years. He was right and I feel a little guilty about judging the book by its stucco cover.

Oh, but the experience isn’t over yet. The “Laboratory” experience that John spoke of refers to the Winemaker’s Laboratory, where you get to create your own blend of Penfold’s to take home. I noticed that other wineries have the option available, but John never suggested it and I was too busy tasting the wines to ask about it. We each got our own lab jacket and begin the process of blending the wines to create our own custom vintage. Of course, my husband wants the perfect white blend while I aim for the perfect mixture of dark fruits and full-bodied richness characteristic of my favorite Cabernets.

More blending, more tasting, and we leave this blessed establishment with two bottles each of our custom blend—going in the Chrysler with us and they may make it onto the jet—with a personalized label on each bottle that boasts Christian and me as “Assistant Winemaker” on our respective bottles.

Of course, we can’t leave without the world-renowned Granges of Penfolds. Yes, they boast a hefty price-tag, but they’re worth every penny! We get a mixed case of the Granges including the 2012 Grange St. Louis with crystal decanter, and a second case of the Cabernet. I had to include the 2010 Bin 707, one of the darkest and richest blends I’ve tasted with hints of blueberry and mulberry in a dense black core.

We depart our glorious experience at Penfolds and head to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop for afternoon tea. I’m more than pleased to see that as we drive toward Maggie Beer’s, the roads are looking more rural and rustic like before. Not to besmirch Penfolds by all means, but this is more what I expected when travelling through Barossa Valley.

How do I describe Maggie Beer’s?

Maggie Beer’s is a produce shop, wine shop, cookery, eatery and pheasant farm tucked back off the road just outside of the city not four miles—or six kilometers—from Penfolds. The entrance looks very rustic, but inside is a gorgeous country-kitchen-type feel on a much larger scale exuding a general store vibe with the extensive line of fresh jams and products.

Birds are roaming free on the grounds—large birds with babies. I think they’re pheasants, but I’m not sure since this is also a pheasant farm… where the pheasants are cooked and eaten. There is, however, an aviary of native birds on the grounds, one of which is a beautiful peacock with a royal blue neck and a fabulous green plume of feathers behind him. At one point, he also finds his way out of the cage and struts around for us, showing off his long, colorful feathers.

Maggie Beer and her husband Colin started the pheasant farm in the 1970’s and became the first breeders of quail and pheasant in Australia. From there, they opened the farm shop and the restaurant and became quite famous in the area. With the success of the restaurant, they started to make pate to sell to the public. They came full circle to sell the pate in the farm shop and the operation just kept growing and growing. Now the restaurant and farm shop are favorites in the neighborhood, and Maggie is famous for her seasonal recipes, condiments, pastes, and marmalades. Many of her cookbooks are sold in the farm shop and I’ve procured a wicker basket which is filled with several of those books right now.

Although we could if we wanted to, this is the one place where we didn’t have any wine. There were too many other things to see and taste. The Eatery is a bustling dining area with yellow chairs that leads to an outside eating area—a brick patio that connects to a wooden deck over the Blue Lake. There are no demonstrations occurring at the time, but Maggie Beer’s has an open kitchen with chairs in front like a small theater as well as a full kitchen with multiple cooking stations for demonstrations and classes.

Christian and I browse the various wares of the shop, tasting homemade jams on gourmet crackers—raspberry pomegranate, Seville marmalade, fig and fennel paste, and salted brandy caramel just to name a few. I’m completely lamenting the fact that there’s nothing like this place that I know of in Seattle, but I’m certain that with the Marketplace there, I can find something somewhere locally that has all the fresh produce, jams, and exotic flavors that I see here… or at least something similar.

As I sip a delicious cappuccino, I’ve passed my basket on to Ben to carry while I look at the various “hampers” for sale. “Hampers” are selections of various jams, flavors, marmalades, etc., combined in a seasonal or flavor group and sold as a package. I choose the Favourites List Hamper, the Maggie’s Favourites Hamper, and the Fine Spread Hamper, making sure that my selections include the delightful marmalades and jams that I tasted today as well as a variety of cooking wines, chutneys, sauces, and verjuice.

We’ve now moved from coffee to pear cider—an indescribably tasty experience—and I continue with my shopping and browsing, being sure to choose gift sets for Gail, Keri, and Ms. Solomon. I’m not sure that the pastes, pates, and jams would be to Keri’s taste, but there’s one way to find out.

As we relax on the wood deck, we watch the turtles swimming in the Blue Lake. While sipping another coffee along with a tall glass of cool water, we enjoy small servings of three decadent desserts—orange ricotta cake, Meyer lemon pie with apricot jam, and dried pear and glace ginger Eccles cakes. As the dreamy confections melt on my tongue followed by the smoothest coffee I’ve ever tasted, I can’t help but ponder how troubled my spirit was not so long ago. This experience seems worlds away from where we were just two days ago—the tragedies and suffering at Port Arthur and the tormented spirits still stuck in that place. How the two places and experiences can be in the same trip, but be so hugely different is totally beyond me.

I don’t linger on it too long as I enjoy my burnt fig, honeycomb, and caramel ice cream. Yes… I must find something like this in Seattle!

I feel very good about my haul from Maggie Beer’s and I’m ready to move on to our next experience. It’s late afternoon and my buzz is dying a bit, which means I need more wine! John tells us that we have one more stop before returning to St. Hugo’s for dinner and then taking our ride back to Adelaide to conclude our trip to wine country.

“You’re playful when you’re tipsy,” Christian says when we get back into the car.

“No, I’m not,” I say, my high from earlier nearly totally abated after the rehydration, coffee, and small amount of exercise at Maggie Beer’s. “I’m logical when I’m tipsy. My mind clears, my thoughts are logical, and my filter’s off.”

“And apparently, that makes you playful,” he counters with a laugh. I chuckle.

“Maybe… under the right circumstances, but you’ve never seen me wine drunk. Usually, if I’m wine drunk, I’m angry.”

“I have seen you drunk,” he protests, his brow furrowed. “On the Slasher.”

“I was Cosmo drunk on the Slasher,” I correct him. “I was not wine drunk. You’ve never seen me wine drunk. I’ve only been wine drunk one time that I can remember during our relationship and that was…” I trail off. No, now is not a good time to bring that up.

“That was when?” he presses.

“Early,” I say, “very early in the relationship.” I still don’t want to talk about it.

“I don’t reme…”

“Let’s… let’s not, okay?” I say beseechingly. “I shouldn’t have brought it up. We’ve been having a great day. Let’s not ruin it with unnecessary and unpleasant memories.” He twists his lips.

“I can’t argue with that,” he says, tightening his grip around my waist.

“Excyuse the intrusion,” John says from the front seat, “but my OI sy thaht from what OI’ve seen, yew two hahve the roight fohmula foh a long and happy marriage.” I smile.

“We’re still working on it, John,” I admit, “but I certainly hope you’re right.”

“I know he’s right,” Christian says softly before kissing my temple. “

Our final stop before dinner is the Seppeltsfield Tasting Room. According to John, this is one of the most distinguished wineries in the Barossa Valley. We had originally intended to stop at the Torbreck Winery, but then discovered that some of the blends from that winery originate from Seppeltsfield. So, why not just go to the source?

Seppeltsfield Winery prides itself on delivering history in a bottle. That’s quite an ambitious goal, to say the very least. In light of this, patrons and connoisseurs frequent the establishment expecting absolutely nothing but the very best. As such, Seppeltsfield strives not to disappoint.

The Seppeltsfield tour isn’t a short one, and certainly not boring. John and our Seppeltsfield host keep us engaged and entertained as we learn about the impressive 163-year history of the winery. The grounds of the winery combine old-world charm in the 18th and 19th century architecture with modern landscaping that ties the old with the new and presents a fabulous backdrop. While wandering around the grounds of this estate, you awe at the glorious modern fountains and endless date palm trees while simultaneously feeling as though you’ve stepped back in time.

Throughout the tour, we see the original 1851 Seppelt Homestead where the Seppelts lived as well as the fully-restored Seppeltsfield cottage, both available for lodging with a reservation. Christian comments about how small the quarters are. Our host informs us that these lodgings were actually indicative of the wealthy in that time, especially since the Seppelts had the bigger picture in mind—farming, winery, village, the whole kit and caboodle.

We also see the Elm Walk, which is a favorite for weddings, and the 1860’s blending cellars. Some of the original equipment used to create and barrel the wines and can still be seen on-site.

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Strolling through the beautifully restored grounds and admiring the gardens and the exquisite landscape, we also see the Dining Hall that was used until 1890, Winemakers Terrace & Chimney, better known as the distillery, used until 1877, and the Laboratory used until 1945. The 19th Century Clydesdale Stables have been redeveloped into the JamFactory Art & Design Studios while the Bottling Hall last used in 1900 is now the home of the Seppeltsfield Cellar Door.

I don’t know that any of the other wineries have one of these as it wasn’t pointed out to us throughout our tour, but the Seppeltsfield has a Gravity Cellar. The Gravity Cellar is built into the hillside on descending terraces consisting of 120 big open top tanks that allow gravity’s natural pull to direct the course and flow of the fruit through the winery, which means less handling of the fruit and a purer fermentation process.

We tasted some of the wares of the cellar door after our initial overall tour of the grounds. Our tasting consisted of a flight of four wines from the Paramount Collection—two styles of Apera, a Tokay, and a Muscat. It’s very easy to see why this is one of the oldest and most distinguished wineries in the Barossa, having an entire village built around and named after it. However, our hosts were strategically saving the best for last.

Our final trip is to the Centennial Cellar. Mere words won’t do justice to our experience in this place. A barrel of the best crops of Tawny from each year dating back to 1878 is housed in this cellar with instructions that it was not to be bottled for at least another 100 years from the date it was barreled. As such, there are several tours with different historical themes that are based on tastings from this cellar. But make no mistake—as this is the crown jewel of the Seppeltsfield Winery, it’s gonna cost ya!

Our tour of the Centennial Cellar includes a combination of the Moments in History experience and the Centenary Experience. For the Moments in History, we taste wine from various times through history—from 1969 and the year of the Moon Landing; from D-Day in 1944; from 1939 and the end of the Great Depression; from 1972, the year the Watergate scandal began; from 1997 and the death of Lady Di; and of course, 1985… the year a Butterfly was born. Oh, and of course, from 1983—the year of the birth of my favorite mogul.

There’s seems to be a strange reminiscent connection to tasting wines from those years, not that you were magically transported to the event because of the year of the wine, but I do feel a bit of connection to the time and year of the occurrences and it does make you think. It seems somewhat… symmetric how different the wines differ from our birth years, even though we’re only two years apart. The most current wine we tasted is the 1997, and there’s no mistaking that the older the wines are, the more powerful the flavor and more distinct the vintage.

I have to say that none were as profound as the Centenary Tasting, where we’re able to taste a 100-year old Para Vintage Tawny. Still in the bowels of the winery where the aromas hypnotize almost as much as the flavors—who am I kidding? I’m tipsy again, but not too tipsy to appreciate this experience.

Our host dips a wine thief into the barrel of 1914 Tawny—much like he did with the many other barrels that we’ve tasted, but a new wine thief each time draws out a sample and fills a small tasting glass. These are not the wine glasses that we’ve been using. These are small, crystal verres à vin—something like a tiny sherry glass.

We watch in awe as the fluid seeps slowly into the glass, oozing down the side before filling the triangular bottom of the glass and rising up the angles. Our host hands us each a glass and I attempt follow the wine-tasting techniques that I’ve learned…

No.

It’s difficult to follow the traditional tasting rules when you experience a 100-year-old wine. The elixir flows out of the wine thief like heavy olive oil. The slowness with which it fills the glass is not theatrical. The wine is thick… rich, dark in color like fresh molasses and clinging to the sides of the glass like a thin syrup.

No smelling…
No swirling…
No aerating…

Just taste.

“That’s remarkable,” Christian nearly purrs as he sips the wine.

“Incredible,” I whisper as the most indescribably rich, full-bodied flavor coats my mouth. I close my eyes and savor the taste of an insanely decadent and delicious wine that I’ll probably never taste again. When I open my eyes, my husband is staring at me… in that way.

“Warren,” he says to our host. “Is there any way that I can get some of this shipped back to America?” Warren already has that I’m so sorry look on his face.

“We don’t reahlly sell the Centennial Collection, sir,” Warren says, “not in volume anywy. We have collectible oitems that ahr avaylable to be ohdehed and pehsonalized. However, thy tayke some toime to bottle, and thy can be vehry expensive and in small quawntities.”

Now, I’m expecting my I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now husband to start waving around his Amex Black, demanding immediate satisfaction. I’m surprised when the suave and reserved Christian Grey appears.

“I see,” he says. “So, can you tell me my options?”

Wow. I try not to let my expression betray my astonishment at my husband’s diplomacy. Granted, he’s not always a bull in a China shop, but when he wants something, he wants it and there’s no negotiating… and I can tell he wants this. I take another sip of the elixir. Dear God, it’s divine.

“Mmm,” I say, letting the flavors coat my tongue again and momentarily floating off to an ethereal experience. When I open my eyes this time, John, Warren, and Christian are all looking at me. I swallow hard.

“Sorry,” I murmur, shrinking a bit. Warren clears his throat and turns back to Christian, garnering his attention.

“The Collection can be ohdehed in 100ml ohr 375ml collectible bottles…”

I stand by quietly and demurely as Warren explains how the Centennial Collection is sold—bottles smaller that an American soda can for nearly $3000 American each… and they take about a month to ship to the States… after they’re bottled. So, it could be six to eight weeks before we even see this stuff.

Noting that Christian hasn’t lost interest at the mention of the quantity or the price of the 1914 blend, Warren continues to explain that the Tawny will be bottled by hand and presented in a Jarrah timber box with a serial number and a certificate of authenticity. I hate to tell you this, Warren, but if I know my husband, that pretty box and that pretty bottle won’t mean anything because my husband plans to sit and watch me drink it. I’m careful not to take the last swallow of the vintage left in my glass until we’re about to leave.

I quickly calculate in my head that 375ml is about a cup and a half. Considering that I’ve taken two sips of the tasting already in my hand and there remains one more healthy swallow, we could get five to six good tastings out of that bottle considering that my tasting may have been about ¼ of a cup—and assuming we can preserve the wine somehow once we’ve opened it…

“Is it at all possible that I could get three bottles?” Christian asks.

Three bottles?? Is he insane? That’s nearly $10,000 for just over a quart of wine! It’s good, but it’s not that good.

“Three bottles?” Warren asks incredibly. “Of the…” he trails off.

“The 1914 Centennial Para Vintage Tawny blend—the 375ml… $2750 each you said, right?”

“Um, yes sir, plus shipping.” Warren appears to be nearly dumbstruck.

“Good,” Christian says. “If we order them now, I may have them by Valentine’s Day.” He looks over at me and winks.

“Capital tour, Warren, capital tour,” Christian says, turning his attention back to Warren. “Lead the way, sir.”

Warren’s face takes on an almost ethereal glow as he collects the tools of his trade, and I finish my last sip of the extra-terrestrial elixir.

*-*

The sun has made its way across the sky and we have arranged for several bottles from the Seppeltsfield Winery to be shipped to Grey Crossing in Seattle—including three bottles of the Centennial Collection—by the time we make our way to dinner. At first, we had planned to return to St. Hugo’s, which would have been nice, but we had already been there—and apparently, John read my expression and deduced that I would much rather go somewhere new as our last stop in Barossa Valley, so he makes the executive decision that our final stop will be on the way back to swap the Chrysler for the Mercedes before we return to Adelaide, but it won’t be St. Hugo’s.

Our drive is only about nine minutes and we arrive at another winery called Artisans at Barossa. I wonder if one of the ways that the Barossa stays in business is by keeping its guests drunk—my buzz from Seppeltsfield hasn’t worn off at all by the time we get to Artisans.

The car has barely stopped when I see the door opening and a gentleman that isn’t my husband standing there holding the door for me.

“Ma’am,” I hear him say in an Australian accent. At the same time, I hear another accent refer to Christian as “sir” as he exits the Daimler. I smile at the gentleman and take his proffered hand to help me out of the car.

He nods once and Christian is by my side almost immediately. I didn’t want to be rude to the guy, but I knew Christian would be bumping him out of the way in moments. Of course, my husband wraps my hand around his forearm and begins to lead me away. I look over my shoulder at the guy still holding the door of the Chrysler, looking a bit crestfallen.

“Thank you,” I say while he’s still in earshot. He raises his head to me, smiles, and nods again. I fall in step with my husband and he raises a brow at me.

“What?” I say. “You swooped in like a lion claiming a piece of raw meat. I just didn’t want to be rude.”

“Forever charming the locals,” he chides gently.

“I haven’t been charming the locals!” I retort quietly… at least not intentionally. Christian scoffs a laugh.

“Yeah, and I didn’t just spend $10,000 on just over a liter of wine because you looked and sounded like you were coming while you were drinking it,” he declares before leading me into the winery.


CHRISTIAN

Three thousand dollars a bottle on 100-year-old wine.

Yes, one of those bottles will be a collectors item, but at least one of those bottles will be part of a Butterfly fuck-fest. I could have fucked her right there on the cellar floor with the sounds that she was making sipping that stuff!

And then this valet or whatever he is comes flying to the door to let her out before the car even stops. Did he fucking smell her arriving? I know she’s sexy, but damn. And I’m sure he nutted himself when she turned around and said, “Thank you.”

So, John has brought us to another location called Artisans since Butterfly hinted that she didn’t want to go back to St. Hugo’s. I’m surprised, because St. Hugo’s was very nice and I wouldn’t have minded having dinner there, but my lady wants to see something else, so it’s something else we’re seeing.

The Artisans of Barossa has a restaurant called the Harvest Kitchen. Apparently, they feed you and feed you—all the fruits of the field and the meat of the land, whatever’s in season—until you don’t want any more all while they’re pickling you in various wines. It’s one flat cost per person for the experience, although I’m not really concerned about the cost. I’m more concerned about my wife. I just want her to enjoy herself.

We are seated at a table for four next to the window with a beautiful view of the deck and the vineyards. The tables are somewhat close, so the other diners in the restaurant are nearly sitting in your lap. I’m not sure that I like that, but I don’t get time to protest as the parade of food and wine begins almost immediately.

There are several bottles—not just glasses, bottles of wine placed on our table. We try to inform the staff that our security detail will not be drinking, but apparently, word travels fast in the Barossa, and I hear a whisper or two about the couple doing the Daimler tour and purchasing cases of wine at every winery, including $10,000 worth from Seppeltsfield. I have a feeling that John may have had something to do with how fast word is traveling, but again, as long as my girl has a good time…

I’ve come to discover that Artisans of Barossa carries several different varieties of wines from several different labels… or sublabels, I’m not sure—such as John Duval and Sons of Eden. In addition to the endless flow of food, we indulge in several John Duval reds and whites, as well as a variety of Sons of Eden Grenaches, Shirazes, Rosés, and Rieslings. The other Artisans include Schwarz Wine Company, Hobbs of Barossa Ranges, Massena, and Spinifex Wines, and the staff is intent that we taste them all!

The food begins and it, along with the wine, just keeps coming and coming. The menu begins with charcuterie and cheese with Schwarz Wine Company Meta Grenache; anchovy on grilled sourdough with basil and tomato; a separate cheese, fig, date, and prosciutto tray with some vintage of Red Muscat that fails me at the moment; and Tweedvale labneh with Ras el Hanout and nigella with two sourdough “croutons” shaped like a butterfly… and Spinifex Muscat a Petit Grains—a delicate and somewhat sweet white wine which, surprisingly, we both like.

My wife begins to draw attention to our table as the food and wine parade continues. She repeatedly asks the staff for information on what she’s eating and drinking, which they’re only too happy to provide since her aura is infectious—so infectious in fact, that other diners nearby somehow find it appropriate to join in our conversation and meal, explaining to Butterfly what wines have been paired with which foods and why. One couple, we learn, is also here from the United States, vacationing from North Carolina. Another is from Vancouver while a third joins us from Hawaii. Butterfly engages everyone like we’ve all arrived together.

Our food and wine parade continues with Sons of Eden Freya Riesling and crispy fried Barossa free-range chicken; fig and stout beef empanadas and Hobbs of Barossa Ranges Tin Lids Shiraz Aria Secca; fried gnocchi with truffle & Parmesan mousse; smoked fish brandade with more sourdough “croutons”; Hutton Vale Farm Merquez sausage with fennel; ancient grain salad with vache curd and pomegranate molasses dressing; and Hutton Vale lamb pide with yogurt, fresh herb salad and pomegranate molasses and two Rosés and more wine—I have long since lost track of the vintages.

For dessert, we have vanilla ice cream with salted caramel and popcorn—the strangest combination I’ve ever seen and surprisingly compatible. I’m quite surprised when my wife—who prefers a Cabernet over any libation in the world—partakes in what one of the staff calls Artisans Riesling Spritzer, made with Freya Riesling with ginger, verjuice and ice. My wife’s a red drinker and she had two of these in addition to all the wine we’re drinking!

The wine and conversation keep flowing and we have now attracted the attention of an older, graying gentleman who was sitting alone at a table near the window at the other end of the room. He asks if he can join us, and the couple next to us—from North Carolina—invites him to pull up a chair. I can see that he has zeroed in on my Butterfly, but I won’t behave like a Neanderthal, at least not yet and especially after all the wine I’ve had… not as much as Butterfly, but I’ve had my fair share.

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I watch his interaction with the group—or lack thereof—and each time my lady speaks, his interest is piqued. He’s good at making it appear that he’s conversing with the group when he’s clearly only engaging Butterfly. Jason and Lawrence are now on alert, but not DEFCON, just alert enough to keep an eye on the situation, as am I.

He’s well-traveled, divorced or never married—my guess is never married—probably in his early to mid-fifties, sophisticated and refined… and he’s French. He’s also no fool. He’s waiting for my reaction to him and I won’t show my hand. Butterfly is sitting across from me and I haven’t done anything to show possession or piss on my territory. He knows she’s mine and he’s setting the table—nothing overt, but sly little signals and subliminal messages, waiting for the gauche American to emerge so that he can come off all suave and sophisticated and show my wife what she’s missing.

I’ve devoured bigger fish than you in the boardroom, Gaston.

In the meantime, she who claims that she’s not charming the locals appears to be making friends left and right with her witty banter even with her limited knowledge of wine. Her ignorance appears to enamor her with the staff and the other patrons of the restaurants, with our uninvited dining companions getting a kick out of telling her what notes she may be tasting in certain wines as she admits that she has had so many that the flavors are all running together. Gaston, whom I discover is named Maxime, decides to test her on that fact, declaring that there is a hint of boysenberry in the John Duval Grenache.

“Hmm,” Butterfly says, aerating the wine before swallowing, even though she had already tasted the vintage several times before during the evening, along with several other wines. She’s still bubbly and smiling, but she’s quite drunk as she tests the spirits on her tongue.

“It could be my pickled brain, Maxime,” she says to her quizzer, “but I don’t taste any boysenberry. Cranberry… or maybe raspberry… but no boysenberry.”

“That is because you are correct, madam,” our French dinner-mate declares. “There is no boysenberry in this blend.” My wife fakes a scoff.

“Maxime, you cad!” she declares, pretending to be affronted, “why would you lie to me?”

“Not a lie, Mrs. Grey,” he clarifies. “A test, and you passed.” He wipes his lips with his napkin and stands. He knows he’s been whipped. I’m not falling into his trap, but that doesn’t stop him from pulling one last trick.

“It has been a pleasure,” he says in his smooth French accent. “You have made what would have been a boring dinner alone quite delightful.” He takes her hand and leans down to kiss it, but pauses before his lips touch her skin and looks at me. I want to tell him to get his paws off my wife, but… I just nod once. He presses his lips gently to her hand before raising only his gaze to make eye-contact with her.

“Au revoir, madam,” he says, his voice low and a bit suggestive.

“Enchanté, monsieur,” my wife replies softly. Maxime places his free hand over his heart before releasing her and stepping next to me.

“She’s exquisite,” he says in my ear before walking past me and leaving the restaurant. Yes, Gaston, I know… believe me, I know. My wife carries on with the tables around her once Maxime is gone like she and this fucker didn’t just share a tender moment—in his eyes, anyway. Right now, she’s floating on spirits and having a good time, holding court with a bunch of strangers with six watchful eyes on her. She knows she’s safe, and she’s glowing with enjoyment. Women and men alike are captivated by her conversation and company at the moment. Who am I to interfere?

The sun is setting over the horizon and although my Butterfly is still having a good time as the Belle of the Ball—even though her Gaston has vacated the premises—she yawns, and I know that it’s time for us to leave. Jason and I leave Lawrence with her as we go to relieve ourselves. We head to the restroom to refresh ourselves before we leave, and I see something that I don’t think I’ve ever seen anywhere ever…

A line at the men’s room!

It’s short, but it’s a line, nonetheless. I look over at Jason, who shrugs and we just wait. There are four guys in front of us and the first two at the door are having a conversation that I can’t help but overhear:

“Aye, ya get a load o’tha brunette in tha puhple dress?” one says to the other. You mean the brunette in the purple dress with the husband that’s standing two people behind you?

“Yeh,” the other concurs. “She’s a real lookah!”

“OI’ll say… gohgeous and sweet. Whehr d’ya get one a’those, mate?” the first one continues.

“OI dunno. She’s gotta be one of a koind. Most Amehricans OI’ve met ahr real arseholes,” the second observes. Jason looks over at me and I shake my head, signaling him not to engage. She’s not here and she can’t hear them.

“Cehful thehr, that bloke she’s been haynging on’ll prob’ly lop ya balls off!” The first cautions. Damn straight.

“No shite!” the second says. “OI would, too. It‘s a real gem he’s got thehr. Whut’s he cahl ‘er… Butterfloy?”

“Yeh. He’s a real goneh, but wouldn’t you be?” the first says.

“In a minute, mate. In a minute…” and the conversation moves on to something else before they head into the restroom a few moments later. I don’t need to be told, but yes, my hot wife is an international sensation.

Once we get inside, I see why there’s a line. Everybody’s wine kicked in at the same time and there’s limited “facilities” inside. Bloke #1 and Bloke #2 quickly wash their hands and leave once Jason and I enter the restroom, the two men before us apparently having run in and run out in record time. As we’re washing our hands once we handled our business, I decide to quickly pick Jason’s brain.

“Jason, by any chance, do you recall the situation Butterfly was alluding earlier?” I ask.

“Which situation, sir?” he questions while drying his hands.

“About her being wine-drunk earlier in our relationship?” His brow furrows for a moment, then his frown is replaced with recognition.

“Oh, yeah, I remember,” he says, tossing his paper towel in the trash. I stand there expecting, drying my own hands and it takes him a second or two to catch on.

“The demise of one Anderson Sheppard tie?” he hints. Tie… tie… oh, the tie! It’s unbelievable to me that that particular thought has occurred to us twice during this trip. Well, once for me and now once for her.

“Yeah,” I say disposing of my paper towel, “I can see why she wouldn’t want to rehash that. Not one of my prouder moments.”

“Indeed, sir,” he says as we exit the restroom.

By the time we’re leaving Artisans, we have eaten way too much food, drank way too much wine, and made good on our reputation to have a few cases of their best vintages shipped to Seattle, including Paul Duval’s Grenache to remind her of her “test” with Maxime, and two of the Eligo Master Class Set from the same vintner. Butterfly is just fine to walk to the Daimler. However, once we get back to our original destination to swap into the Mercedes, she’s out like a light.

She’s going to hate that she’s missing such a beautiful sunset in wine country, but the pictures will have to do as I must carry her from one vehicle to the other so that we can return to Adelaide. The trees and the sunset make you feel like singing the theme to the Lion King.

I thank John for a splendid day and ask him if it’s customary—or impolite—to tip him for a job well done. He declines and assures me that I’ve purchased enough wine to ensure that he’ll be able to maintain his priority standing with the local wineries, and only ask that I give him and the tour a good review on social media.

Social media… hmm.

I shake his hand after I’ve deposited my inebriated wife into the Mercedes, and we’re on our way back to the hotel.

An hour later, we arrive at Peppers and my pickled princess pops up like she wasn’t asleep for the entire ride. She exits the vehicle and strolls carefully into the hotel and to the elevator, then to our suite where she removes her shoes at the door and heads straight for the bathroom. Hoping that she’s not in there paying homage to the porcelain gods, I go to the other bathroom to get ready for bed.

Once I’ve taken care of my incidentals, I come back to the bedroom still in my jeans and I fully expect to see her face down on the bed sleeping off the alcohol—but no. She’s still in the bathroom adjacent to the bedroom, only now the shade is open so that I can see her. She’s gloriously naked and I immediately have to talk my dick down. She’s cleaning her breast pump, signaling me that she has emptied her breasts before coming to bed. Now, she picks up a brush and meticulously begins brushing her incredibly long hair.

Hmm, she doesn’t look like she’s stumbling drunk. She even does that thing where she holds her head forward to brush the back of her hair and she’s not toppling into walls or anything. And I’m just sitting here watching her… watching that glorious naked body preparing for bed, preparing to lay next to me and torment me while she sleeps off the alcohol and I talk my raging, thumping dick down. I’m so mesmerized by her that I don’t notice that she’s staring at me through the glass, still brushing her beautiful hair. I take a deep breath to control myself and stand as she finishes her nighttime grooming before turning off the lights and coming into the room.

“Why are you still wearing those?” she asks when she looks at my jeans.

“I was distracted,” I say. “I’m just getting ready for bed.”

“Well, take them off. I want to suck your dick,” she says matter-of-factly.

Wha…?

My dick reacts, but my brain is slow on the pickup.

“Baby, I’d love to be inside you—especially inside your mouth—but… you’re drunk. That’s something I don’t do. It always has to be consensual…”

“Do I look drunk to you?” she asks. “Do I really look like I can’t give consent to fuck my husband?”

“Uh…” I’m speechless at the moment. I’m standing here with a rock-hard cock disputing my beautiful, naked, horny wife about why she can’t suck my dick.

“I am not drunk,” she protests. “I’m a little pickled, but I’m not drunk. I’m completely sentient, and I said I wanna suck your dick. Now, are you really going to deny me?”

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear she’s stone cold sober when she says that.

“Absolutely not, Mrs. Grey,” I reply.

“Good. Now, shut the fuck up and drop your pants.”

You don’t have to tell me twice. I’m unbuckling and unzipping before she even gets the words out of her mouth. In moments, my jeans are in a mound at my ankles. She pushes me gently and I fall backwards onto the bed. She quickly removes my pants from my ankles, pushes my thighs apart and situates herself on her knees between my legs. She wraps her lips gently around the head of my cock and I already know, she plans to tease me incessantly tonight.

Fuck! Get ready, Grey.

I lick my lips and prepare myself for the orgasm refusal ride of a lifetime, especially after all the orgasms I refused her last night before I finally let her come.

“Damn, baby, you look so good,” I breathe as she looks up at me with beautiful, blue come-hither eyes, her hands at the base of my throbbing cock and her lips and tongue softly and deliciously teasing the head. I have to lean up on my elbows to watch her, which means that I can’t touch her unless I want to lay flat or balance myself on one of the most insane ab workouts I’ve ever done.

She licks and licks and licks, never taking her eyes off mine, until my dick is hot and hard and thumping. The friction from her tongue is insane and I’m fucking losing my mind with need. I drop my head back, unable to hold it up anymore through this damn torment, and I feel my cock slide into her mouth, but then out again, her lips teasing my shaft gently. The fire I was feeling a moment ago is slowly subsiding, being replaced by a different pleasure that slowly rising on the skin of my cock.

What is she doing to me? I lament inwardly. I swear if she had kept up that small amount of friction, she would have gotten a big fountain, but she changed up the rhythm on me and now…

While I’m contemplating my situation, I feel her mouth cover my cock again, but she doesn’t pull back. What is she doing? I try to look down at her, but her hair is covering her head a bit—not completely, but enough to obstruct my view.

But not enough to obstruct the feeling!

“Ah! Shit!” I exclaim as I feel tightening and a little friction on the head of my cock—just the head. What the fuck? I focus my pleasure-blinded eyes and see that she’s deep-throating me, but her mouth is not on my cock—just her throat.

Holy mother of God, this woman is inhuman!

“God! How do you do that!” I hiss, trying not to thrust into her throat. She throats my cock so that I feel the heat from her mouth on my shaft, but not the friction, but I can feel that throat wrapping around that head!

“Jesus! Fuck! Jesus!” I choke, my cock burning and thickening with pleasure. She has never done this shit to me before! I know my wife’s a freak, but she’s a fucking superfreak when she’s had a few drinks in her.

“God! Ana! Fuck!” I groan, and I can’t help it. I grab her hair and lift it away from her face, holding it in the back of her head like a ponytail. I have to see this. I won’t push her head down on me, but I fucking have to see this.

She lets me watch for a few moments—my impressive cock balls deep in her mouth and the feeling of her throat hot and squeezing the head of my dick. I groan, my hand and thigh shaking from trying not to thrust.

Either she needed air, or she knew that I was breaths away from coming, because she slides my cock out of her throat, almost igniting an orgasm. She pauses for a few moments and I find myself anxiously sliding to the edge of the bed so that I can sit up. After a brief break, my shaft is in her mouth again. This time, she’s giving a blowjob. Her head is bobbing wildly on my cock and shaft and her fist is pumping where her mouth is not, following her mouth with every stroke.

“Sweet Jesus!” I hiss, holding her hair as her head bobs on my cock. I have no idea if I’m pushing her head down onto me, but my hand is clenched in her hair, holding on for dear life. My cock is being worked mercilessly and I feel myself rising yet again from the new stimulation. I hold my head back, panting and choking and trying to get air in. Fuck! It’s so good… I’m gonna come…

Her mouth releases my cock with a pop, and I swear my whole body shakes in dismay. Fuck, that was fucking more than my cock could take. I can feel the sweat forming on my chest and back. It hasn’t even been that long, has it? A few minutes, she’s been doing this? I don’t even know.

She pushes me back onto the bed and makes me move all the way to the top so that she can get on the bed with me. She nestles herself comfortably between my legs and takes my shiny, aching, pink cock in her hand again. Now I can see her ass, and her hips, and delicious mouth and tongue teasing my dick, and her eyes daring me to come… and she starts over, massaging that little bundle of nerves as she holds my cock.

Dear God, not again…

I fist the sheets next to me because I can’t be responsible for my actions this time when she denies me this orgasm. It’s rising… slowly… hot, hard, and intense. She licks with purpose, that same bundle of nerves, over and over again. I groan in my chest. If she’s going to stop, I want her to stop before it gets too intense… too painful. I don’t think I can take it this time.

I groan again and grip the sheets. I feel it. My balls are tightening, and the ache of release is coming. Stop, for God’s sake!

I begin to pant. I can’t stop it! My thighs are tightening, and my knees and legs are weak—and she keeps going and going, that delicious stimulation that goes right to the pleasure nerves. I’m gazing at her, beautiful and intent in her purpose.

Please…

Did I say that out loud? Did I think that? What did I do? Whatever happens, she has pushed me to the point where I don’t have control of my body anymore. All my muscles are tightening and I’m about to blow. If she stops at this point, it’ll be for nothing because…

“Fuck! Fuck! Aw, shit!”

As she licks that sensitive bundle on the underside of my cock, cum squirts gloriously out of the head and runs down over my dick and her hand. My shaft is so fucking red and hard that it looks almost painful and I can’t even identify the sounds coming from my chest and throat, but she keeps licking and licking, a new spurt flowing with every stroke of her tongue. I’m gripping the sheets nearly in agony—she made me wait for so long… didn’t she? Or did she just turn me on so much that it felt like an eternity?

I watched her sashay her naked ass around that bathroom until I was hypnotized, and my cock was thumping out of my pants.

Then I watched her do things that made me want to come so badly that I could cry, but I was already there.

It hasn’t been that long. She just fucking made me want her really bad, then she tormented me intensely to make it seem like it was longer than it was. Now, I’m coming so fucking hard and my balls are so full and heavy that I’m certain that even after this cosmic blast, I’ll still be ready to go again in a very short period of time.

When my cock has given all the initial offering that it’s going to give, I fall helpless onto the bed, twitching with every touch knowing full well what’s next before she even speaks…

“I’m not through with you yet…”


A/N: Christian keeps referring to Maxime as “Gaston,” who is the male antagonist from Beauty and the Beast

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~~love and handcuffs

 

 

Fifty Shades Golden: Chapter 17

This is a work of creativity. As such, you may see words, concepts, scenes, actions, behaviors, pictures, implements, and people that may or may not be socially acceptable and/or offensive. If you are sensitive to adverse and alternative subject matter of any kind, please do not proceed, because I guarantee you’ll find it here. You have been warned. Read at your own risk.

Explicit details of sex and BDSM scenes from here on out. Some may be hot while others may not be to your taste… and not necessary CG with Ana together. Proceed at your own discretion, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

This ain’t your everyday Christian and Ana story. Don’t expect anything. Just read it as it goes along or go away. I do not own Fifty Shades Trilogy, or the characters. They belong to E. L. James. I am only exercising my right to exploit, abuse, and mangle the characters to MY discretion in MY story in MY interpretation as a fan. If something that I say displeases you, please, just leave. If you don’t like this story or me, please don’t spoil this experience for everyone. Just go away. For the rest of you, the new saga continues…

Chapter 17

Briana Evigan Ch 17

GOLDEN

“Whoa!”

I’m stunned into silence when I step into my living room. I know who this is from—it could only be one person, but I haven’t seen him in nearly three weeks. Is that why he’s sending me tribute?

“This is incredible,” I say, examining the gift. It’s a near life-sized golden statue… of me! I’m naked with a cloth of some kind covering my breasts and vagina. My ass is perfect! It’s reminiscent of the statue of Aphrodite and I’m wondering how he commissioned it without me being present. How could he describe my ass so perfectly that an artist could mimic it without a picture, because I know there are no pictures of my ass anywhere.

“It’s a good likeness, Mistress,” Blake says, examining the sculpture and never taking his eyes off the face. “He’s very fond of you.”

I look over at him, then back at the statue.

“Is it real?” I ask, touching the cloth covering my private areas. Blake touches the hand that’s covering my breast.

“It’s gold fiberglass, Mistress. Generic pieces like this cost upward of two or three thousand dollars. Custom pieces very likely cost two to three times that much.”

“What brought this on?” I wonder aloud. We haven’t had a scene in weeks—since he was arrested.

“Like I said, he’s very fond of you, Mistress,” Blake says, raising an eyebrow before leaving the room. I twist my lips and shake my head at him before turning my attention back to the statue. It’s exquisite. Honestly, these are the two things he’s had in his face more often than not—my face and my ass—so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that he can describe them from memory. That’s not creepy at all… right?

“Can we get it out of the living room please?”

*-*

When I get to my office, I’m greeted by an unwelcome visitor. If I cared at all, I’d be concerned that he looks tired—haggard is more accurate. His face is sunken in a bit and he’s pale… and his lips are dry.

“I told you not to come back here,” I say, walking past him and into my office.

“Ana, if you’ll just give me a minute…” Richard begins.

“I don’t have a minute for you, Richard,” I say, spinning around to glare at him. “I had 17 years—time’s up!” I look over at Jesse. “Get him out of my office.” I slam the door to my back office and wait for them to tell me he’s gone. I sit down at my desk and pretend that my estranged uncle didn’t just infringe on my personal time and professional space yet again. My phone buzzes with a text as my computer is firing up.

**Good morning, M. I hope my gift arrived safely. **

It’s from Trey. As we have no protocol for texting, I’m grateful that he only refers to me as M instead of Mistress.

**It did. It’s beautiful, and a bit overwhelming. **

**Too big? **

**Too precise. **

**You are unforgettable, M. **

I’ll just bet I am. His next text is almost immediate.

**I was hoping to get some time this week. The sooner the better. Is there anywhere that you can fit me in? **

I smile. How droll, Trey.

**Tomorrow night, about 7pm. **

I could fit him in tonight, but why make it that easy for him?

**Thank you, M. I’ll see you then. **

I don’t know what took so long to get rid of Uncle Richard, but Chanelle finally comes in several minutes later as I’m well into planning my week.

“He doesn’t look well,” she says, handing me a small stack of papers.

“His wife is dying,” I say unconcerned. “He’s probably exhausted.”

“Well, he looks like he’s about to go into the grave behind her,” Chanelle observes. I raise my eyes to her.

“A little less concern for the man who deserted me at 15, please,” I say, matter-of-factly. She raises her hands in defense.

“My bad,” she says, also matter-of-factly. “You should look at the meetings for today, particularly the tentative one set for 2pm.” She turns around and leaves the office without another word.

Two PM… Elena Lincoln and Carver Mason, Esq. What does she think she could possibly have to say that I would want to hear? This isn’t divorce court, bitch. We’re not negotiating terms. I want your ass. The clients can have whatever little money you have left.

“Chanelle, you can confirm that 2 o’clock.”

This is gonna be fun.

*-*

“This is a fishing expedition and you know it,” Mason says. “The health department cleared Mrs. Lincoln. There was no infestation of bed bugs on any of the properties.”

“Then why did she pay for the fumigation and cleaning of three residences?” I ask. “Money to burn, Mrs. Lincoln?” She jeers at me.

“That was damage control,” she hisses. “I didn’t want it to get to this point where ambulance chasers and opportunists would try to capitalize on my misfortune.” Her attorney puts his hand on her forearm. Yes, Mrs. Lincoln, you’re attempting to negotiate, so insulting the opposition isn’t a good idea. I laugh aloud.

“No, Mrs. Lincoln, that’s not damage control. Damage control would have been making an announcement that this was a mistake or even that someone was out to get you, as you so verbosely claimed to all the wrong people. This was hush money.”

“This was no such thing!” she exclaims. “This was more like extortion!”

“All the more reason for you to go public with ‘the truth,’” I say, making the finger quotes around the last two words. “You’re so busy running around pointing fingers at all the wrong people that the people who are or may be responsible for your misfortune are all getting away with it. The truth is buried so deeply under your mess of lies and deceit that nobody knows when to believe you. Every time you’re in the public eye, forth comes a lie. So, what is anybody supposed to believe when you open your mouth?” I clasp my hands on the desk in front of me. “You seem to be healing very well, Mrs. Lincoln,” I taunt. “I truly hope they catch your assailant very soon.” Her eyes narrow.

“If we could stick to the matter at hand,” Mason says.

“Oh, we are,” I say, turning my attention back to her attorney. “You should already know that aside from the facts, credibility is the foundation of any punitive lawsuit, and the credibility of your client is being questioned all over the media since she fingered one of Seattle’s most prestigious citizens as her attacker. Coincidentally, her husband disappeared the same night she was attacked and was discovered lying on a beach in the Bahamas sunning with a few beauties that weren’t his wife and recuperating from battle scars reminiscent of an assault. So, unless they were blindfolded and attacked at the same time in the same place, causing his blood and DNA to be splashed on her body and under her nails, she’s a liar! And when they choose the jury for this case, the assault case and the details surrounding it will have played out all over the press. So, if you’ll allow me to be frank, no one’s going to buy that poor little rich girl victim role that she’s playing right now.

“And you can insult me until the sun goes down, but the bottom line is that this lawsuit doesn’t belong to me—it belongs to the clients. So, go ahead and hurt my wittle feewings and think you can chase me off the case. They’ll just get another ambulance chaser to pick it up. You set a precedent by agreeing to clean out and fumigate those other people’s houses and not asking for the records to be sealed. Now, unless you’re coming to me with a settlement that’s going to satisfy the six clients in this class action lawsuit, a jury is going to decide if you are responsible for their discomfort.”

“This entire thing is ridiculous, and you know it! You know it!” she screeches.

“All I know is that you’re untrustworthy,” I reply. “You’re conniving, you’re violent, and you’re a liar. You tried to pin this mess on me and I had no idea any of this was going on until well after the fact. You assault a highly respected businessman in his office, and then have him arrested for assaulting you when he was nowhere near you that night. You will use any means necessary to get what you want, and it doesn’t matter who gets hurt in the process, then you turn around and have a temper tantrum when people don’t roll over for you…”

“There’s clearly a conflict of interest here,” Mason interrupts. “You two obviously have history.”

“Your point, sir?” I ask. “What gave it away? The fact that you were fine with her calling me an ambulance chaser a minute ago, or the fact that I know intimate details about her life?”

“I know intimate details about your life, too,” she seethes. I raise a brow at her.

“Don’t be too careless with your threats, Mrs. Lincoln,” I say calmly, “or being thrown out of fundraisers is going to be the least of your worries.”

“What is she talking about?” Mason whispers to Elena.

“I’ll tell you what she’s talking about,” I say, turning to Mason as Elena’s skin pales. “We were at a fundraiser a while back with several key individuals in the city and state when Blondie here decides that she wanted to spread some very unpretty stories about me. Subsequently, her frosted husband came onto me very strongly on the smoker’s balcony requiring my bodyguard to intervene and subdue him. When security and aforementioned key individuals heard about their behavior and activities that evening, they were both ejected from the premises. Now, she wants to exploit the fact that she has details of my personal life like she can’t be destroyed with the twitch of a little finger.”

“Now, that sounds very much like a threat, Ms. Olivet,” Mason scolds.

“I didn’t say my finger,” I say throwing a glance at him. “Do you want to tell him, Blondie?” I jeer. “Do you want to tell him exactly what he’s getting into?”

Her hands are clasped so tightly in her lap that her knuckles are white, and I think I hear her teeth gritting. Why does this woman insist on crossing me when she knows she’ll never win?

“A word of advice, Mr. Mason. Stick to the case and only to the case, because if she opens that Pandora’s Box that she keeps hinting at, she’s going down…” I stand up and lean over my desk. “… And she’s gonna take you with her.” I look over at Blondie, who now has a sheen of sweat forming on her brow. I get the feeling that someone has already talked to her… or maybe she’s having flashbacks of her conversation with Blake.

“As you well know, this isn’t a criminal case,” I say to Mason. “She could have been personally responsible for the death of my parents and I could still represent my clients in suing her,” I inform him with a smile. I straighten my body and stand up.

“This conversation is over. This meeting is an obvious attempt to persuade me to drop the case, which isn’t going to happen, and since I don’t see an offer on the table for a settlement, you two can leave now. Jesse?” Jesse moves forward.

“Mrs. Lincoln, Mr. Mason, if you please?” He holds out his arm gesturing to the door.

“You are the epitome of the slimy lawyer,” Blondie says. “You’re exploiting a situation that has no foundation based on the rumor mill. You’re destroying my life based on hearsay and not fact. You’re despicable!”

I can’t argue with her, because when it comes to her and this case, she’s right. After all, I fed on the fears of a few and created a case that wasn’t there.

“If that’s true, then you’re in like company, because it’s no slimier than openly planning someone’s demise or having someone falsely arrested and thrown in jail.” I turn to Mason. “On your way out, sir, please educate your client on the exact moment that a visit becomes trespassing. She apparently didn’t believe me the last time she was thrown off my property.” Mason’s pupils constrict, and he proceeds to stand.

“We’re done here, Mrs. Lincoln,” he says, glaring at me. I see the challenge in his eyes. Bring it on, Esquire.

“And Mr. Mason?” I fold my arms. “I’m well acquainted with that look. Do some thorough homework before you throw down gauntlets.” I play legal, but I don’t play fair. His gaze sharpens, but he says nothing as Blondie turns angrily on her heels and marches out of the office with Mason right behind her.

“This looks like it’s going to be a fight to the death,” Jesse says when he comes back into the office.

“No, it’s not,” I reply. “She’s got bigger fish to fry. Caldwell Lincoln is being extradited back to the states, so she’s got to contend with the false arrest of Christian Grey and then the trial of her and her husband which will most likely end in a very costly divorce. Once that’s said and done, there won’t be much left to pick from for my clients and by that time, everybody is going to be willing to settle, Lincoln most of all. Not my first time at the rodeo, Jess,” I say, scrolling through the trending news online.

“How can you be so sure that it’ll work out that way?” he says.

“Because I also failed to mention the criminal charges she’s facing for assaulting Christian Grey, and if I’m reading this correctly, he’s suing the police for his false arrest. Do you think Blondie’s going to get out of that one unscathed? Somebody’s going to hit her with something—charges for a false report, another possible lawsuit from Christian, she could be facing more jail time. I’m just a thorn in her side. Today’s meeting was an attempt to make me go away so that she can tame this veritable wildfire she’s got going on in her life.

“Mason’s got this gleam in his eye because he thinks she has something on me that can really cause me grief. I can live through anything she has on me—that’s why I taunted him to do his homework, because any piece of information on me that he or she can find or reveal will lead to some powerful person somewhere that will have both of their asses on a spit like a pig at a luau.”

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I continue to browse through the trending stories on Trey—all the different conspiracy theories, including that he paid the police to tamper with evidence or that he really did assault Elena to get back at her for attacking him last year. There’s even one theory that he’s doing this to set Caldwell Lincoln up for a fall so that he can take over Linc’s lumber interests. The theories range from reaching to utterly ridiculous.

My interest is particularly piqued by a thumbnail of a beautiful woman—Brazilian, I think—looking over her shoulder at one of the cameras. Curious of what she could possibly have to do with Trey, I click the thumbnail. It’s a video with a short blurb underneath it:

Financier and socialite Gisela Serra sears members of the press for presumably incorrect assumptions.

I click the video and watch as Gisela Serra exits a luxury car and heads towards one of Seattle’s posh spas and beauty boutiques. Various reporters are trying to get a statement from her, yelling questions about none other than Christian Grey. At first, she ignores them until someone yells out the magic inquiry.

“We never see him with anybody else but you, Gisela, and only rarely. Is Christian gay?”

That woman stops in her tracks and throws a piercing glare so cold and hateful in the direction of the question that I feel a chill on this side of the computer screen. Jesus Christ! The questions cease, but cameras continue to flash, and I’m sure that expression is going to end up on a gossip rag somewhere if it hasn’t already.

“No!” she barks angrily. “He’s discreet! Discretion does not make one gay, you uncouth sow! Or do you advertise all of your sexual partners?” she chastises in a heavy accent.

The other reporters fall silent and look at the one who answers the question. Gisela breaks into a string of words in another language—I assume it’s Portuguese—which one could easily interpret as curse words from her angered and irritated demeanor. She ends the rant with four words in English before disappearing into the salon.

“Classless, tasteless American reporter!”

Financier. Hmm… is she Trey’s money manager? Why has he only been seen in public with her? And where do people see them? She’s very pretty, and she became seriously pissed when someone suggested that Trey was gay. What’s that all about?

And why do I care so damn much?

I shake my head to rid myself of these useless thoughts of Trey.

“What sounds good for lunch?” I ask Jesse.

*-*

He’s different tonight. He’s receptive—his entire body is alert and anticipating what I’m going to do next. He really loves the whips, I mean really loves the whips. I’m surprised by how much he loves the whips, more than any submi— er, client I’ve ever had. He’s writhing each time the leather makes contact with his skin, but I know ecstasy when I see it. I could stripe his back like the flag and he’d moan and wait for more…

… And I like it… a lot!

I’ve only paid this close attention to his body one other time—the first time I undressed him. His body is still as magnificent as it was then, and now, it’s glistening in sweat and streaked with pink marks from my whip.

Chopper likes any whip. He prefers the single-tailed toys over the multi-tailed on his back, and floggers on his thighs, but he loves the flat paddle so much on his ass that I believe I could make him come from the spanking alone if I could regulate the amount and intensity of the sting.

After a few more blows, it’s time to move to my special chair. It’s an antique dentist’s chair with a few modifications to fit my purposes. The chair is leather and metal, and the armrests not only collapse to allow easier access to my subject, but they’re also equipped with leather restraints—good for immobilizing my clients with their arms straight down to the sides of the chair.

The seat and the footrest have both been widened. The seat allows the client to comfortably spread his legs wider and the footrest is also equipped with restraints and can double as a spreader bar.

Knowing that it may irritate his stripes, I cover my special chair with a memory foam pad and instruct him to have a seat. I bind his wrists to the leather cuffs on the armrests before blindfolding him with a half-folded scarf that drapes gently over his entire face. His breathing quickens in anticipation, his sweat-drenched abs and chest rising and falling quickly. His dick is standing at perfect attention, not ready to blow, but eager for whatever I have in store.

He’s magnificent.

I reach for one of my favorite oils—a special blend of mint and Hinoki oil from my homeopathic apothecary. He adds a special ingredient that gradually warms with friction, but never gets too hot.

I oil both hands with my Hinoki mix and approach my masterpiece, my crop handy to chastise any missteps on his part. I grab that beautiful erection with both hands, squeezing hard and massaging the minty emollient into the skin of his shaft, paying special attention to his balls and head. He’s trying not to squirm in his binds, but I know that the texture of the oil and the pressure of my hands are driving him wild.

Settle down, Chopper. We haven’t even gotten to the fun part yet.

I stroke his entire cock a few times to begin the heating process of the oil as well as for the sheer joy of feeling his stiffness in my hand and watching the oil coat this glorious organ. I love the feeling of the rim of the head against my palm and watching his body jerk with each pass as he fights not to make a sound. His dick isn’t angry and veiny just yet, but it’s getting a fucking good start.

I clasp my hands together and run them repeatedly up and down the top portion of his dick. His thighs tighten and his back arches slightly, and I feel the oil beginning to warm. He’s standing at attention with no assistance from my hand or a cock ring, so I release his dick and do single quick strokes from three-quarters down all the way up and off the head to watch his cock thump and bob with anticipation for me.

It’s showtime.

Using my thumb and forefinger, I begin the torturous process of edging his frenulum. His breathing calms at first, and I’m certain that he thinks he’s getting a reprieve from the stimulation of his cock. It only takes a minute or two for my favorite part of his body to show him just how mistaken he is. The shiny head seeps a tiny offering of precum as his dick begins to pinken and thicken for me. That wide vein pulses a time or two and his balls lift once and drop.

Yeah, it’s alive.

His breathing picks up again and I continue the taunting of his cock. I always imagine what this process feels like. I had one client explain it to me as a pleasurable agony where you ache for more stimulation of your entire shaft while the stimulation of the pleasure point is so intense and repetitive that you nearly can’t stand it. I tried to liken it to getting my clit stimulated, but I don’t think that’s the same. When my clit is stimulated, I may welcome other stimulation like in my ass or my pussy, but the clit stimulation is enough…

… Says the woman who hasn’t fucked in an eternity.

The way I understand it, the frenulum orgasm sneaks up on you. Your body is aching and yearning for more intense stimulation—begging the hand, the tongue, or the mouth to cover more ground—but the dick is in heavenly torment and preparing to give up the fight. The balls are reluctant, also expecting more stimulation to aid in the orgasmic process, but that constant stimulation results in an impulsive and involuntary regurgitation that’s so powerful that the giver may end up hurting themselves—or you—in the process… which is why I tie them down.

Then again, I always tie them down.

This process is so much more fun than a regular hand job, even more fun than a blow job only to the extent that I get to pay close attention to the dick as it changes before my eyes. To me, the dick is the most expressive part of the human body, even more expressive than the face. The face has 43 muscles for expression while the penis doesn’t have any—yet it speaks to me more than smiles, frowns, tears, grimaces, or sneers ever could.

As I watch the skin change from pale to pink, the main vein thicken while the capillaries begin to appear, the girth widen and the head become nearly smooth as glass from the skin stretching taut with arousal, I have to restrain myself from taking it in my mouth and tasting it, running my tongue up the unforgiving vein on the underside, licking the sensitive rim… I’m getting hot just looking at it, but I won’t touch myself. I won’t allow anything to distract me from this beautiful work of art.

“You have the most perfect dick, Chopper,” I say as I watch his shaft lengthen and stiffen at my touch. His breathing becomes choppy under the scarf. As I gently stroke him with just my two fingers, he tries and fails not to match my stroke with long, sensual thrusts, but I don’t care. This is the closest we’ll ever get to fucking, and I’m savoring this moment.

“It’s the most perfect dick I’ve ever seen,” I coo as I use my forefinger and thumb to edge his growing cock… slowly… slowly… He groans sensually under the scarf and I can barely see his gluts tighten with each forward thrust and contract as he pulls his dick between my fingers for maximum friction, as much as you can get from two fingers, but it appears to be working.

“I’ve seen so many beautiful cocks, but none as magnificent and flawless as yours,” I praise. It’s stiff and shiny and has a life of its own when he becomes aroused. He would like to think that he’s in control of his dick, but his dick is clearly in control of him—at least when it’s aroused, it is. It moves to and fro and bobs and throbs without his permission. His balls rise and separate each time my finger caresses his frenulum and drop and retreat each time he pulls his hips back. It’s a beautiful dance, executed by his fantastic nether regions, and he would love to believe that he’s the choreographer, but he’s not. His body does this dance all on its own, without any instruction from him.

His hips begin to rise with more fervor, even though I haven’t changed my stroke. His ass tightens even more to push his cock between my welcoming fingers, to increase the friction of the tease, and the groan in his chest rises an octave or two. I know that he’s close, not only by the instinctive thrusting of his hips, the impressive roll of his eight-pack abs, and the change in the sex sounds emitted from his throat, but also from his uneven breathing pattern, and mostly, from the thickening of his cock. It gets harder and stiffer, and the vein down the base starts to pulse.

So, I stop.

He’s panting like he just ran a marathon. His biceps and triceps tighten and bulge as he clenches his fists in frustration and growls from his chest.

Such insolence, Chopper!

A whack of my crop across his thighs surprises him into a low yelp and he’s panting again, his fingers extending and stretching from the fist and his arms relaxing. Dear God, this man is beautiful.

I bind his ankles to the footrest and tilt the chair so that he’s lying back in it at about a 130-degree angle… so that his dick is sticking straight up.

Yeeeeeeesssssss… that’s delectable.

My mouth actually waters at the sight. But I won’t taste it. He won’t feel my mouth tonight, only two fingers, and I start the torturous process again. In this position, he’s able to thrust his hips higher and it’s fucking beautiful. I pay attention to the warm feeling of his tightened frenulum over the skin of my fingertips. His hands grip the armrests even though they’re vertical right now, and his feet are planted firmly on the footrest, allowing him to raise and roll his hips freely into the stimulation of my two fingers.

I’m a master… or I should say Mistress… at this kind of stimulation. I’ve studied the dick medically—how it behaves and responds to different levels of stimulation and just what to do to make it suffer or give me everything.

Make them want you…
Make them crave you, then only give them a hint of you…
Make them desire what they can’t have…
Tease them with a promise… deliver satisfaction, but don’t give them all of you…
Never give all…

My guru’s voice is in my head to remind me who I am and what I do, and with newfound determination, I manipulate that cock with fiery precision—just that tiny little pleasure spot, taunting with the promise of total satisfaction until his hips suspend in anticipation of that final blast…

… And I stop again.

He actually whimpers this time. If he could speak, I’m certain that he would say, “How could you?”

You’re a virgin at this particular type of play, Chopper. I need to train you, so relax and be trained.

And the stimulation starts again. Sweat is pouring down his chest and into the sinews of his abdomen. He’s being tortured. I believe he would give his kingdom for an orgasm right now. Veins are popping up all over his body, not just his dick, and I can see him trying to resist the pleasure, which makes it even more fun for me. His body tenses in the chair and he’s fighting a fearsome fight, but I can tell from his cock that he’s about to blow yet again. Just as I feel the offering about to pulse up his dick…

He’s breathing through his teeth now, hard, like he’s in the ring. His fists are clenched, and he could rip this metal and leather chair to shreds at this moment. His dick seeps a bit of cum just as I stop the stimulation, and a bit more once my hands have moved away. Chopper is in pain—sensual pain. I know he’s never felt anything like this because he’s never allowed anyone to do anything like this to him before.

I have to give him a few moments to settle, or he’ll blow the second I touch him.

“This is new for you, isn’t it, Chopper?” I purr.

“Yes, Mistress!” he nearly chokes, frustration lacing his voice.

“You don’t sound pleased,” I note with a raised eyebrow.

“I’m… just unfamiliar, Mistress,” he excuses. He’s not pleased, not in the slightest, but he’ll see it through just because he knows what I do.

Good boy.

I anoint my fingers a little more and resume my task. This time I take my time and examine his dick, caressing the head and frenulum gently with my fingertips and nails—not enough stimulation to cause orgasm, but enough to cause frustration. He heaves heavily then groans his lament. I watch his body jerk in frustration and I can feel his inner mournings through his skin. He’s at the very end of his rope, somewhere I can guarantee no other woman has ever taken him.

And I’m loving it!

I begin the relentless stimulation of his frenulum again, after allowing it to cool and calm for several minutes, and my poor little marionette begins to thrust between my fingers, seeking his satisfaction with fervor. I see is pelvic muscles flex and his cock pushes forward involuntarily. When the little soldier is ready to blow…

“Oh, God… please… please…” There’s agony in his voice as he laments another instance of denied release. He’s aching to come so badly that he’ll do anything to feel that orgasm, and since this is my first time performing full-on ruined orgasms and denial on him, I won’t make him go home without a climax for his insolence, but he will still know that I’m in control. I reach over to my rack and retrieve a flogger.

Whack!

His entire body jerks and trembles with surprise as the straps bruise his chest and his dick drips a bit, stiffening even more. His chest rises and falls violently and his fists clench once more.

“Did you speak without permission, Chopper?” I chastise. His body stiffens in pain as he groans and mourns heavily.

“Yes!” he coughs. “Yes… Mistress… I’m sorry… Mistress.”

“Good, and I’m glad to see that you corrected your other faux pas as well,” I scold, referring to his failure to address me properly when he does speak. I whack him once more with the flogger to see that magnificent recital of his body before I decide that it’s time to put him out of his misery. I grasp his cock again between my two fingers and begin the assault anew. I hear a slight whimper in his chest as I’m sure he thinks I’m going to ruin his orgasm for a fifth time.

Not this time, Chopper. You get to spout for me.

He resists at first, trying to spare himself the agony, but that only lasts about a minute or so. Although it doesn’t get hot enough to cause discomfort, the heating sensation in the oil can get pretty intense and right now, it’s about as hot as it can get. Jesus, I want to suck that thing so badly, but the change in sensation can actually be anti-climactic and set him back further than I would like. Once again, his body tightens tremendously and he’s fighting to keep from moving his hips. He loses that battle, too.

And the final dance begins.

He begins to convulse as he physically resists the urge to come. There’s no more mind over matter here. Chopper is using every muscle imaginable in an attempt to control the uncontrollable, but I know the inevitable is very close. In fact…

“I love and hate to see you come,” I breathe as I watch his balls rise and tighten. “It’s beautiful to watch the transformation of your cock into this majestic tool that’s standing up to pay pleasurable tribute…” He grunts as cum shoots from the head of his dick, squirting into the air and landing where it may, most of it dripping back onto his shaft and balls as he squirms and shivers through his orgasm.

He screams. He actually screams.

Well, not a shrill, girlie scream, but the scream of passion that a girl does, only in a deep, throaty, manly voice. It’s one of those screams that you hear in a torture chamber, carrying some small modicum of relief from the pain.

“Then you spray this fountain of arousal that wracks your body with such pleasure that you can only surrender to it and allow it to run its course. Even as it holds you captive, your cock still throbs and fights, determined to have the last word in the battle.”

His body is stiff with pleasure as I continue to edge the last of the orgasm from his oh so willing cock. When it has given its final offering, Chopper falls back into his seat, spent and breathless, his breath choppy and gasping as I continue to play with his cock, now dripping in cum, still hard as stone though his balls are visibly empty and hanging—sated—in his scrotum.

He won’t be multi-orgasmic tonight. He is done!

“And then it’s over,” I say, my voice melancholy, still gently fondling his dick as he tries to take in slow, deep, controlled breaths. I look up at the scarf covering his face, unable to see his sated expression, but I can tell by his relaxed body and the fact that his head is turned away from me that he is spent and satisfied, just by my two fingers.

Yet for some reason, I feel bereft.

I move away from him and wipe my hands, cleaning them of his arousal. I undo his ankle restraints then move to undo his wrist restraints. Before I do, I take his face by the chin. He doesn’t fight me. He turns his blindfolded face to me and I lift the scarf only above his mouth to reveal his lips. I press my lips to his and thrust my tongue into his mouth. His response is immediate. His lips mold to mine and he matches my tongue in an exotic tango. I cup his face, almost expecting him to slide his arms around me, but forgetting that I have him bound… forgetting why…

Forgetting that I’m Golden, and not some love-starved girl wanting to be kissed.

Nonetheless, I gently end the sensual kiss between us with a sexy bite to his bottom lip before replacing the scarf, undoing his wrist restraints, and leaving him in the dungeon, fighting the urge to run full speed up the stairs and to my room.

I ascend the stairs slowly, deliberately, the words of my mentor ringing repeatedly in my head:

Your power comes not only from what you do to them, but also from what they can’t have.

What they can’t have…
What they can’t have…

What they can’t have…

“Mistress?”

I’m standing at the top of the stairs, half-dressed. I’ve never half-dressed in front of Blake. His eyes don’t leave mine. He has never looked at me sexually and even now, with my breast partially exposed and my ass hanging out, he examines my face carefully, his gaze laced with concern.

“Send him home,” I say softly. “I won’t see him.”


TREY

I open my eyes and I feel like I’ve lost some time. Did I fall asleep?

I lie still for a few moments to determine if I’m alone. She usually unbinds me before she leaves. I’m not bound, but this blindfold is still over my face. I slowly reach up and push it over my eyes.

I’m alone. Thank God… I think.

Did I dream that? I dreamt she fucked me—who’s to say that I didn’t dream that she kissed me?

My. Dick. Hurts.

That was so damn powerful that I may need to pack this shit in ice later. The outside skin doesn’t hurt because she barely touched it, but the insides and my balls got quite the workout. The head is tender, and I don’t even want to touch that one spot she kept manipulating. I look down at my nether regions. My abs are covered in cum as I assume my dick is, too, but I can’t see it as the poor, limp thing has fallen down between my legs and over my balls. I’m surprised it hasn’t retracted completely back into my body hiding for cover and taking my nuts with it.

I have a bit of a sting from the crops, whips, and floggers, but nothing too intense. No, the torment today was all on my dick, and I’ll be damned if I let the manservant handle that part of my anatomy.

I stretch in this instrument of sexual agony that she had me strapped to and completely remove the scarf from my face. I touch my lips and swear that I can still feel hers against mine. I must be fucking delirious. Golden wouldn’t voluntarily kiss me any faster than she would voluntarily fuck me. I swing my legs over the sides of the chair and once I’ve gotten my balance, I proceed to the restroom to clean up.

I turn on the light, then the cold water, because my Johnson is going to need some coolness after that heated exchange—pun intended. Was it her hands that had my skin all hot, or something in that damn oil? Whatever it was, soap and cool water soothe it quite nicely. I use a washcloth to clean the cum off my abs and balls and after thoroughly cleaning, rinsing and drying my skin, I wet the cloth with cold water again and wrap my limp organ in the coolness.

“Aaaaahhhh,” I sigh contentedly as I allow my head to fall back and enjoy the relief. Once the cloth warms, I raise my head and open my eyes… and the sight in the mirror causes me to do a double-take.

Lipstick.

There’s lipstick on my mouth, the deep pink shade of Golden’s lipstick… is on my mouth. She did kiss me!

I take a moment to recall the kiss—deep, hot, and passionate. I remember thrusting my tongue into her mouth, or her thrusting hers into mine. Either way, it was a hot, sensual exchange of intimacy that’s almost enough to make me forget that orgasm.

Almost.

I look at the fool staring bemused back at me in the mirror and touch my lips where her lipstick is left. I almost don’t want to wash it off, but I can’t go in public like this. What am I—some fucking moonstruck teenager?

“Oh, this is ridiculous!” I hiss as I reach for tissue to wipe away the lipstick. Before the tissue reaches my face, I pause again unable to wipe it away. I’m just standing there staring at it.

Why did Golden kiss me?

The only other kiss that we’ve ever shared was that dry fuck kiss where I ripped that orgasm from her against the wall in her parlor. What’s the meaning of this?

Still lost in my confusion, I go over to the valet and retrieve my clothes. As I don each piece—shirt, boxer-briefs, jeans, socks—I ponder the implications behind the kiss. Maybe it’s because she never edged me like that before and she was giving me a reward, but wouldn’t the orgasm had been the reward?

And dear God, she is brutal. It’s cliché to say that I see why her clients always come back, but dammit, I see why her clients always come back! Have I been on the wrong side of BDSM all this time? Even when I’m balls deep in some pussy, I come like a faucet when I think about the feeling of her whip across my back. Hell, that same thing happened when I dreamt of fucking her.

Having the whip in my hand gives me some pleasure, but I barely do that anymore if ever. Being in control of an orgasm is quite fun and if I’m honest, I just like to fuck big asses now. The joy of the domination for me is just in the sex—in being in charge. Even though it can be quite torturous, I like the receiving end of things now. I like it more than I even liked anything else, except of course the fucking—but I come like a goddamn freight train every time and sometimes, more than once.

Am I really a submissive?

I pull my jacket on and catch my reflection in the mirror as I stand just beyond the door of the restroom. I push my hands through my hair to tame my short, wild mane a bit, then realize that I still haven’t wiped away the lipstick.

Every time I see it, I feel her on me… touching me, kissing me… she even cupped my face. I forgot where I was for a moment and wanted to hold her, but my arms were still bound to the chair. If I wipe it off, I might wipe away the memory, and I don’t want to. The painful truth is that I just don’t want to.

I reach in my inside pocket and retrieve my handkerchief. With one last look in the mirror, I wipe away the lipstick and shove the handkerchief back in my pocket before ascending the stairs.

I’m still uncertain of what this all means. Should I ask her? Would I be out of line? When I get to the top of the stairs, there’s Blake standing in his usual spot, expressionless. I take a breath to ask where she is, but I’m overcome with some other sensation, something I can’t really identify. I shake my head in resignation. I can’t do this tonight.

“Can you… make my apologies to Mistress, please?” I say to Blake. “I really need to get home.” His brow furrows as he examines me.

“Yes,” he says. “Is everything alright?”

How do I answer that? No, I’m all verklempt and tied in knots because I don’t know why my Domme kissed me… and I’m not sure that I want to know.

“Yes, I’m fine, thank you. I just… have a bit of a drive ahead of me and… I’m quite spent, and I need to get home. Please, extend my apologies. Goodnight.”

I hope I don’t face any punishment the next time I see her… maybe I hope I do…

Yeah, I’m losing it.

I dash out of Golden’s front door and to my car. I turn the ignition and peel off as fast as that little sports car can take me.

I’m raw. I don’t know why, but I’m raw and all I want to do is get home. I focus on the road and think of nothing else. My insides are in a knot and I don’t know why. I don’t have feelings for this woman… at least, I don’t think I do. But I love what she does to me and how she makes me feel, the physical passion that she wrings from me. Hell, I only see her once a month, maybe twice. I know I’m not feeling anything emotional.

But that kiss. Fucking hell, that kiss. And if I count all the times I think of her when I’m fucking other women, the times I feel the sensation of her whip on my back or my ass when she’s not even there, the great fuck we had in my dreams…

If I count all those times, I see her considerably more than once a month—considerably more.

I run my hands over my forehead and through my hair as I’m sitting at a red light. I’ve played that kiss over and over again in my head so many times, it’s ridiculous. I’ve even added my own touches to the vision—wrapping my arms around her waist and holding her close to me as I massage her soft tongue…

The angry horn behind me reminds me that I’m actually still operating a very large piece of machinery, and I check traffic, then hit the gas.

I’m glad there aren’t any fucking police waiting for me like the last time I returned from Golden’s. At this point, damn near anything is possible—starving submissives wondering where the hell I’ve been, assassins sent by Linc to remove this most recent thorn in his side, Elena with a goddamn butcher knife or a fucking rubber-tree plant…

A bunny cooking on my stove…

Jason nods when I enter the penthouse, acknowledging my arrival. I return the nod and walk straight to my bedroom. After I start the shower, I strip out of my clothes and walk under the rainwater stream. As the water begins to warm and beat down on my slightly stinging skin, I think about her again—about her fingers tormenting my dick, the tassels of her flogger on my thighs…

Her lips on my lips.

I hold my head down and allow the warming water to saturate my head and stream down my face. I suddenly feel so… empty… and alone. The water sounds like pebbles as it hits the marble floor. As I lather my body and hair, I try to wash away the melancholy feeling that has suddenly taken over me. My personal space feels strange, foreign—large and hollow—when it used to be my sanctuary.

16a653944541dbdd18437662184d1f5a

Just because we could all use some eye-candy…

I rinse the soap from my body and hair, turn off the shower and grab a towel. As I’m wrapping it around my hips, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My chest is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. She only struck me there once. As I stand there gazing at myself, the image of my reflection with her lipstick smeared across my mouth comes back to mind. I shake my head to rid myself of the image and proceed to brush my teeth. When I’m done, I don a pair of sweats to sleep in and retrieve my clothes from the floor, placing them in the dirty laundry in the bathroom. I empty my pockets of my keys, my cell, my money clip…

And my handkerchief.

I don’t know how long I stand there fondling the damn thing. I feel like some stupid lovesick fool pining over some piece of ass across town—a piece of ass that I haven’t even fucked by the way. I really need to get my shit together.

Yet, instead of tossing the lipstick-soiled handkerchief in the dirty laundry, I open the drawer of my nightstand and tuck it in there instead. I crawl into bed and look for the warmth that I felt earlier in the evening—anytime in the evening. I feel cold and lonely, my empty bed emptier than I think it’s ever been. I pull the covers up over my chest and as ridiculous as it is, all I can think about right now is…

I need a hug.

*-*

I wake up the next morning from a dreamless sleep. I resent the fact that my Domme didn’t visit me in my slumber, and my bed feels colder and emptier than it ever has before.

What is this fucking shit? Do I need to talk to somebody about this? I don’t need to be pining or mooning over some female! I’m Christian Grey—women pine and moon over me! Yeah, she’s the hottest woman I’ve ever met in my life, but still…

And I touch my lips…

Goddammit!

I throw the covers off me and get out of the bed. Am I seriously that gone over this woman?

It’s Saturday morning and I consider going into the office, but quickly put the kibosh on that idea. Even if I just sit around the penthouse, I don’t feel like going into the office.

I walk into my study and open my laptop. I begin to go through my emails, responding to a few from Wester and confirming meetings for next week. In a very short time, that man has proven to be worth his weight in gold. Let’s just hope that he doesn’t come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, like that fucker Rockford. Welch informs me that he has secured employment with Randall and Seveld. If they suddenly start gaining a corporate advantage that looks mysteriously like mine, I’m going to fry his fucking ass and serve him for lunch in the public square.

And I touch my lips…

Oh, for fuck’s sake!

I check the news sites and some gossip rags to see if there’s anything on Linc and his bitch wife. There’s nothing yet. He’s still in the extradition process and she’s hiding out in her mansion, claiming to be afraid of retaliation from me. I can’t believe she’s holding fast to that lie knowing that her wife-beater husband is on his way back to the states. The pictures tell the whole story of all of us—I’m walking around with no bruises whatsoever and they both look like they’ve been in combat. Who’s telling the truth here?

And I touch my lips…

Sonofabitch!

I open my browser and type in the last word I thought I would type in a search bar—not mouth, not kiss, not tongue—lips… and I learn an immediate lesson.

Never type “lips” in a search bar all by itself. There’s a lot of goddamn freaks on the internet.

Hell, if I’m honest, I’m one of them, but that’s not what I’m looking for at the moment.

Okay, let’s narrow this down to the not-so-freaky… golden lips.

Still freaky, but more of what I’m looking for. I latch on to the idea that’s plaguing me and lift the receiver on my desk phone to make the call. She’s sending enigmatic messages. Now, it’s my turn.


Briana Evigan Ch 17

GOLDEN

I’m sipping a shot of vodka on the rocks—not my gold-laced vodka, though. I drank the last of that tribute, but don’t want to request any more. Not only that, but he’s gripping my thoughts enough tonight. I think the vodka would be a bit too much right now. I’m looking out the back window of my parlor at the lake off in the distance when I feel his presence in the doorway.

“I heard him leave,” I say, noting to myself that even his car sounded pissed. “Was he angry?”

“No, Mistress,” Blake responds. “He was… confused.” I turn my gaze to him.

“About what?” I ask.

“I’m sorry, Mistress. I misspoke. I should say that he appeared confused. I don’t really know that he was.” What the hell does that mean?

“I don’t really catch your meaning, Blake,” I say. “Did you tell him what I said?”

“No, Mistress,” he says. “I didn’t get the chance. He asked me to make his apologies for not coming to speak to you. He said that he was really very tired and wanted to go home.”

What? He avoided me? The nerve! I’m the one in control here.

“Mistress?” Blake calls my title and I raise angry eyes to him. “If I may ask, did something happen… again?”

What do I tell him? I’m certainly not telling him that I kissed my submi… er, client and it has me a bit shaken.

“No,” I tell him. “Nothing happened.”

“Hm,” he says, twisting his lips and diverting his gaze.

“Something you want to say, Blake?” I demand. He raises his eyes to me.

“With all due respect, Mistress, I don’t believe you any more than I believed him,” he responds. “That mountain of power came up those stairs totally verklempt, and when I looked at him, I swear I saw a little boy looking back at me. I didn’t want to give him your message because I was sure that he would have a temper tantrum and I would have to forcibly remove him from the premises. Instead, he all but begged me to apologize to you for him not coming to you, and it wasn’t his words, Mistress. It was his demeanor, his stance. His shoulders were dropped, he slouched slightly, and he couldn’t wait to get out of this house. The most aggressive thing of the entire exchange was the screeching of his tires. Whatever happened in your dungeon that broke you down, it broke him down, too.”

Nothing broke me down! I was just… taken aback, that’s all! But it appears that Chopper was completely overcome. He had to escape as quickly as possible, even at the risk of inciting my wrath.

But isn’t that what you did, too? Dash up the stairs and hide out, leaving Blake to get him out of here without a word from you? Didn’t he do the exact same thing? At least he offered his apologies.

“Exactly what did he say?” I probe.

“He said, ‘Can you make my apologies to Mistress, please? I really need to get home.’ When I asked if everything was okay, he assured me that he was fine, but that he had a bit of a drive ahead of him. Then he added, ‘I’m quite spent, and I need to get home. Please, extend my apologies. Goodnight.’”

He’s right. Chopper was verklempt.

Even if he was tired, he would have made his way in to see me. He’s been beaten all to hell and still came into that parlor when he could barely sit.

“Thank you, Blake,” I say dismissing him. He nods and leaves the room and I take another sip of my vodka.

Make them want you…
Make them crave you, then only give them a hint of you…
Make them desire what they can’t have…
Tease them with a promise… deliver satisfaction, but don’t give them all of you…
Never give all…
Never give all…


A/N: Before people start disputing me—because someone always does—about the penis having muscles or being a muscle, please do your research first. The penis is actually like a sponge and fills up with blood to get stiff for intercourse. It’s not a muscle nor does it contain any muscles. The muscles that control that area are the pelvic muscles that create a pelvic “floor” between the tailbone and the pubic bone, and support the prostate, bladder, seminal vesicles, bowel and rectum. They help guys control urination and defecation as well as play a role in sexual function.

Sorry about the clinical breakdown of the dick, but I’d rather do it here than in response to x-number of comments to dispute the fact that the penis is not a muscle.

The Pinterest board for this story can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/fifty-shades-golden/.

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.

~~love and handcuffs

 

 

 

Raising Grey: Chapter 82—Now, Where Were We?

Danger—Aussie accent ahead. Turn away now.

There are probably some bad attempts at French laced in here, too. Beware, you’ve been warned!

All other previous disclaimers still apply.

Chapter 82—Now, Where Were We?

ANASTASIA

I am on fucking fire.

My body is completely alight with orgasmic release and I’m still trembling for more. I didn’t know he packed toys and I have no idea when he had the time to do it because I packed his bags, but I’m sure the fuck glad he did.

Maybe he picked something up when we separated in the Marketplace.

Who the fuck cares?! Get back to the “alight with orgasmic release” part!
I have to agree with the Bitch on this one.

He’s rubbing my ass and playing with that heavenly butt plug while I catch my breath and come down from a blinding climax. His hands anoint the sides of my body from just under my arms all the way down my thighs to my knees before he issues the command that I hoped I would hear.

“Turn over.”

I roll over onto my back, still blindfolded and mindful of the butt plug still inserted.

“Are you comfortable?” he asks when I’m situated.

“Yes,” I whisper, my hands resting on the bed on either side of my head.

“Good,” he says. I feel him leave the bed for a moment and I wonder with anticipation what he’s doing. I take this time to try to decipher the scents in the room. Lilac for sure… no, maybe it’s jasmine… mixed with…

I hear him come back into the room and feel the bed dip when he returns. I feel a strawberry against my lips, so I open my mouth and take a bite. As I’m chewing, I feel his body over mine and his lips cover my mouth. I open slightly, and cool wine flows from his to mine. I swallow the mouthful of strawberry and wine, totally food seduced at this point. A bit of the chocolate confection from dessert passes my lips and I savor the flavor as his body rises from mine, and moments later, oiled hands anoint my neck and shoulders.

He keeps me alight with sensations, causing one to flow right into the other—the strawberry into the wine into the chocolate and back into the massage. I purr with satisfaction as his oily hands travel from my shoulders down and over my breasts and nipples over my torso and abs and down to my pelvis. He reoils his hands to spread copious amounts around my mounds, my outer lips, the sensitive crevices at the junction of my thighs and pelvis and my top and inner thighs.

His hands travel masterfully all over the front of my body, touching and tempting me. Then, I feel a strawberry at my lips again. I bite and chew and wait for the wine, but it doesn’t come. Instead…

“Ah!”

Gentle pressure closes over my nipple. I bite my tongue and breathe in. It’s not his mouth—it’s a nipple clamp, the adjustable kind. I wait as he secures it, just enough to plump and sensitize my nipple. He doesn’t dawdle. He goes straight to the other one, which has become taunt in the process, and attaches the second clamp. He pauses for a moment, and even blindfolded, I can tell that he’s admiring his handiwork.

I feel him cover my body again, his erection pressing into my leg—and his mouth closes over one nipple and the clamp. I cry out in arousal, pushing my breast up towards him as his hand teases the other nipple in the clamp.

“Christian…” I whimper, so turned on that I can barely think. I keep my hands on the bed next to my head—it’s better this way—and his mouth feasts on my nipple while his fingers play with the other. Then he switches, giving both nipples the benefit of his talented tongue. I have to hurry and swallow the strawberry so that I don’t choke on it from my radical breathing, and the sweet flavor lingers on my tongue while my man stimulates my nipples.

It’s glorious!

He moves away from my nipples and slowly slides down my body, rubbing and planting kisses along the way. My breathing is more controlled when he gets to my feet and starts a gentle massage with the oil again. Yes, that’s jasmine. It’s a favorite scent of his… and mine, along with cinnamon and vanilla. His massage is gentle and firm at the same time, relaxing my ankles, my calves, my knees… and giving my throbbing clit a brief reprieve to recuperate. I know Christian Grey enough to know that the orgasmic stimulation is far from over, and it’s not the butt plug or the nipple clamp that’s giving it away.

It’s the thigh massage. The way that his hands are spread open on my thighs, kneading upwards so that his thumbs run across the crevices gently over my outer lips, he’s about to attack.

He straddles my legs again and there’s a pause in his massage. When he returns, the texture of the oil is different. Even though I can still smell the jasmine in the air, it’s not as strong. It’s not in the oil, and I’m very soon to find out why.

“Mmm… mmm…” I groan. He continues his massage, up the top of my thigh, across those sensitive crevices, over my outer lips, only this time, the tip of my clit is protruding ever so slightly, and his thumb zeros right in on it. He runs his oily thumb up and down just inside my lips with each upward motion of his hand, pressing my clit in and pushing it up, stroking it just so between my lips. I want to crawl off the damn bed as I try to stifle my whimper.

“Let me hear you, baby,” he encourages.

“Ah,” I gasp, the heat so hot and the moan releasing some of the pressure in my chest. His thumbs feel so good, one stroking my clit and the other teasing the crevice between my pelvis and thigh.

“Christian!” I breathe, grabbing my breasts and stimulating the nipple clamps there. I hear him gasp and he continues to rub intermittently, giving me seconds to recoil before I’m squirming on the bed again in ecstasy.

He moves his hands to my thighs and pushes them open—not eagle-spread, but open enough. He puts his hand over my mons, pressing firmly and squeezing just enough to heighten arousal, using the base to open my lips so that the clit protrudes just a little more than it did when he pleasured it with his thumbs.

Well, maybe more than a little more… I feel air on the underside. I can tell that he’s positioned between my legs, on his knees maybe…

“Oh, God,” I gasp deeply as I feel something I’ve never felt before—wet, smooth, soft. He starts at the tip of my clit with a titillating tickle, and I turn my head and bite my lip, sinking into a pleasure I’ve never felt before.

Is it a feather? No, it’s much heavier… thicker than a feather.

It moves from the tip of my clit, slowly down the underside and over the surface of my inner lips. Then it travels back up the same way that it started.

It moves up… and down… and up… and down… up and down… and up and down… flicking over and off the top of my clit just once… then it comes back… starts at the tip and moves down the underside and over the inner lips… then up again… then down… The strange stimulation is sending ripples through my body and even causing my thoughts to stutter—enough to ignite and keep me burning, but not enough for orgasm unless he keeps going and going and going. He’s exquisite in his meticulous movements, back and forth masterfully, like an artist.

An artist…

That’s what it is! It’s a paintbrush!

This has to me the most agonizing, glorious new thing I’ve ever felt! Wherever he got this idea, I owe ginormous homage and he needs to tell me how I can get some, too! This is fucking genius!

My whimpering is almost embarrassing, but this feeling is divine and irresistible. I can’t be silent… I can’t keep still… dear God, my stomach muscles are fucking aching and my pelvis is actually cramping with pleasure! How can that be?

Several moments later, the brush makes its final stroke and I’m panting in ecstatic exhaustion. Every time I’m about to come, he changes the rhythm and stimulation so that it brings me back a bit, not enough to start over, but enough to stop the rise to orgasm. It’s maddening—and magnificent!

Next, I feel cold air on my clit. He’s blowing on it, I know he’s about to dive in and taste the rainbow. What will he do—deep massage with a firm tongue? Fast, tormenting flicks to bring me to a quick release? A deep clitoral suck accompanied by a two-finger g-spot stimulation? Oh, no. Not just yet. Mr. Grey has other plans for me.

He lays his head on my inner thigh while placing his hand gently on the other to spread my legs. His tongue licks lazily over my inner lips and up to my clit, firming a bit when it gets to that fiery bundle of nerves, up and down like he’s casually licking an ice-cream cone. He repeats his lick over and over, his breath panting gently in contentment as his tongue covers all the necessary skin, never missing a spot in a gentle, sensual erotic caress.

“Oui… oui… mon amour,” I breathe as I flex my tightening clit. His massage doesn’t change, though his grip tightens a bit on my thigh, his hand presses flatter on my stomach and he continues to lick… and lick… and lick…

Fire is burning in my chest and my stomach is quivering madly, right where he’s pressing it—not to mention this infernal butt plug is still in my ass and that pleasure hasn’t ceased since the first orgasm! The rhythm syncs with my body and I feel the tightening in the small of my back.

And so does he.

The rhythm stops and he lifts my legs to expose my core and ass. He holds one leg up and commences a circular feast, around and around with a flexible rolling tongue—his entire tongue—as his free hand pushes, turns, pulls, and manipulates the butt plug.

Putain d’enfer, il l’a encore fait!

I whimper, nearly sob, my protest as my core continues to burn, but the orgasm backs away. I can’t take much more of this. The massage is delicious, round and round with his tongue masterfully covering my clit then traveling down to my vaginal opening and back up to madly manipulate that love button. Over and over he repeats the cycle, causing me to tremble and my muscles to clench painfully, but if it rises again and he changes rhythm, I’ll certainly expire.

I need it deep! I want to come!

“S’il vous plaît,” I whisper my plea, my voice desperate. “S’il vous plaît…”

He groans in his chest and situates himself between my legs. He throws my legs over his shoulders, reaches around my hips and cups both breasts, clamps and all.

“S’il vous plaît,” I groan again, more loudly this time, certain that he’s going to deny my again. Even though it’s heightening my pleasure, I can’t take any more. He massages my breasts firmly, causing my nipples to pebble in excitement. He parts my lips with his and proceeds to give my core the deepest, most sensual kiss—no teasing; his tongue, lips, and mouth are purposeful.

“S’il vous plaît, Christian, s’il vous plaît,” I beg. I’m desperate. The massage is so deep, so hot, I’m right fucking there. If he stops me this time, I’ll scream… I’ll cry… I’ll rip his fucking throat out! He can’t stop!

He massages harder, squeezes harder, kisses deeper, licks and sucks wildly, his mouth is watering all over my core, causing a delicious slip-and-slide sensation down there. I clamp my hands over his and squeeze and he moans, diving deeper into my core…

God, don’t stop… please don’t stop…

My back is so tight that it hurts, and when the orgasm starts to creep, I literally sob in my throat. I won’t be able to stand it if he stops.

I feel my legs cramping, stiffening… no…

I lock my ankles behind him and thrust my pussy into his mouth begging him in my native language not to stop and let me come. His kiss reaches down into me and wrenches a painful, merciless orgasm from my loins that has me screaming, still begging him not to stop—literally paralyzed with pleasure and pain as this climax wraps around my clit, these nipple clamps, and that butt plug all at the same time.

I think I’m still coming in my ass when he leaps to his knees, lifts my already elevated hips to his pelvis and thrusts double-digit inches of hard, hot, pulsing meat inside me. I scream at the pleasure. I love his mouth and tongue, but nothing feels like his dick!

“God damn, you’re so fucking hot!” he growls as the plunges into me over and over, like an animal. He thrusts and thrusts and thrusts, mindlessly, before he throws his head back and growls loudly, his eyes squeezed shut and his face twisted. He’s breathing like a bear and I don’t know if he came, but he snatches his rock-hard dick out of me. He tortures my clit with the head of his dick over and over, breathing and grunting like a bear before sitting flat on the bed.

“Turn around!” he growls, his voice deep and hungry. I move very quickly. “On your knees!” he commands. Okay, doggie-style. “Give me those pillows.”

Okay, not doggie-style.

I get into position as instructed. He opens his legs and rests them on my calves.

“Get comfortable, however you have to. Get on this dick and fuck me til you come.”

Til I come? I just came! You sure about that, Grey? I look over my shoulder at him questioning and he glares back at me as if to say, “What the fuck are you waiting for?’

Okay, you asked for it.

I wait for him to lie back on the pillows and I sit down on his pelvis—not on his dick, on his pelvis. I bring my calves from under his knees and open my legs as wide as I can.

This is my damn party? Then, I’m going to have it.

I grab that beautiful rock hard and veiny piece of flesh and stroke gently. The oil from my pussy is coating his skin and he grunts when I grab him.

“Get on with it!” he demands.

“Quiet!” I hiss. “This is mine now.” He forcefully grabs my hips as a warning, and I throw a glance over my shoulder.

“What are you gonna do?” I taunt. “Fuck me?” I glare at him, still teasing the head of his cock with my oily hands. His hips move ever so slightly to match the stimulation as he grits his teeth.

That’s what I thought. And now, Mr. Grey, I’m going to drive you crazy.

I begin to rock my hips up and down so that my open pussy strokes the side of his dick while my oily fist still grips and manipulates his head.

“Shit,” he hisses softly as he grips my hips. That’s right, Grey, just lay there and let me do what I do.

The veins on the side of his cock stimulate the underside of my clit and I lick my lips. Damn, that feels good. I get a little lost in the feeling of his glorious cock rubbing against my clit and I forget for a moment that there’s a man attached to it that’s going to come quickly if I don’t stop. His agonized groan brings me back to the here and now.

How about a little tease, Grey?

I plant my feet on either side of his hips and steady my hands on the bed on either side of him. Using only my hips, I massage my clit with the head and side of his dick—achingly slowly pumping my pelvis so that my clit rides up… and down…  and up… and down… over the slit and pulsing ridge of his head and partially down the side of his shaft.

“Oh, my God, yes,” I breathe as I watch the show between my legs; the head of his dick appearing and reappearing just beyond my mons; the burn of the friction going straight through my core…

“Jesus!” he prays quietly as his hands reach around my body and tease my tender nipples. One of the nipple clamps has fallen off, but both nipples are still hot and taut.

“Uh!” I groan, throwing my head back as pleasure once again shoots from three different directions. I know this has had the same effect on him that his changing rhythm had on me—that he’s still on fire, but has drawn back from “ready to blow.” I slide against that dick a few more times, biting and licking my lips in my own ecstasy until I’m nearly over the edge myself, and then I stop. I need that magnificent piece of meat inside me for this orgasm.

I resume the initial position he requested, situating myself between his legs and my calves under his thighs, causing him to bend his knees and open his legs very wide. With my ass in the air and the ass plug staring him in the face, I reach between my legs and thrust my finger into my core. I momentarily stifle the moan that wants to escape, but fail in the effort when I drag the moistened finger over my throbbing clit and massage it gently.

“Christ, baby, you’re so damn hot,” he breathes forcefully.

Like you wouldn’t believe, Mr. Grey, like you wouldn’t fucking believe.

I reach down and grab his cock and rub the head against my clit two or three times more before I guide him to my hungry opening. There, I hold him in place while the opening and lips of my aching pussy gently and slowly tease the head of his cock. I can feel the ridge just inside my vagina as the release and reentry make that luscious, wet “kissing” sound. I’m insanely turned on by this, so with him watching it, I know that he’s losing his fucking mind.

“Anastasia,” he breathes, his voice tortured, “God, you’re too much…”

“You make me this way,” I reply, my voice steeped in passion like a mindless horny nymph.

A few more vaginal kisses and I slide effortlessly down onto his cock, all the way to the balls. He groans loudly and places both hands on my ass. I start a rhythmic glide with just the slightest directional roll, raising my ass up towards him when I drop onto his dick, then pulling my hips down and forward when I rise off of it. His pleasure sounds are tortured, deep, and sexy, and my core is on fire filled with his thumping meat.

“Christian,” I mewl, “you feel so good… you’re so hard…”

I fight to keep my rhythm now with him filling me wall to wall. I know he’s rising to orgasm because he so thick and wide inside me, and I am once again producing that heat and wetness that’s accumulating on his dick and leaving an arousal cockring at the base near the balls. It would be embarrassing if it wasn’t so fucking hot and I wasn’t so goddamn turned on.

“Don’t worry, Mr. Grey,” I pant breathily. “I’ll come… I’ll come really fucking hard for you.”

“Fuck!” he hisses as he rubs my lower back, and I can feel his thighs tightening with pleasure. He wants to enjoy it, so he’s going to hold out until I blow. I push back onto his dick repeatedly so that I get maximum penetration and he groans again.

“God!” I gasp as I pump harder. His hands are still grabbing my ass and one of them moves and pushes the butt plug.

“Oh, God,” I exclaim, the pleasure so much that I can’t concentrate on my movement anymore. I straighten my body and balance on my knees, still bouncing on that wonderfully, deliciously hard cock. One hand moves to tease the nipple still painfully confined in the nipple clamp while the other shamelessly moves to circle my burning clit. I feel the sensation rise immediately from my feet, taking only a few seconds to overtake my thighs. Just as it begins to tingle and burn deep inside my core, he grabs my hip and pulls the butt plug out.

I scream and detonate into such a dangerously violent orgasm that I can’t even tell what the fuck is going on at the moment. All I know is fire and light and dizziness and trembling and screaming… lots and lots of screaming. My attempt to seduce my husband has backfired and I’m having one of the longest, hottest, heaviest, most mind-numbing orgasms I have ever fucked myself into.

I don’t know how long it is before I come down from that electric display and experience, but when I do, I’m on my knees, my chest flat on the bed with hair sticking to my sweaty face, panting profusely. Once I’m able to breathe a bit, I lift my head just slightly and catch him in the mirror. I didn’t know it was there.

He hasn’t come. I know he hasn’t because he’s still very hard inside me, but he’s smirking at my back—clearly unaware that I can see him.

Mo-ther-fucker, I’ll show you…

I put my hands flat on the bed and curl my back like a cat stretching from a deep sleep. Then, I roll my hips again, like I did in the beginning, only faster… and harder… and faster!

I get another glimpse of him in the mirror and that smug look has left his face. His hands have grasped my hips again, trying and failing to control my thrust as his mouth alternates between biting his lip and clenching his teeth.

“Slow it down, fuck baby, slow it down,” he begs breathlessly. Fuck you, Grey. Come, you cocky motherfucker.

“Uuuuhhhh!” I moan sensually, knowing that the sound of my voice will help to set him off, and partially because I absolutely adore how he feels inside me, even though there’s no hope of me coming again tonight. I lean up on my knees again and thrust my hands into my hair, lifting it sensually over my head, closing my eyes and puckering my lips as I roll my hips relentless and fast over his cock.

“You feel so good,” I mewl truthfully, “so good…” I add a gasp to the last two words and his breathing is no longer controlled. He’s losing it.

“Good… Fuck…” he hisses as he grabs my hips right below my waist and sinks into the bed a bit to angle his cock more.

That’s it, Grey. Give it to me. I’m going to milk you dry.

I fall back onto the bed with a helpless mewl, steady myself on my hands, and bounce my ass on his dick in an intense buns-of-steel workout while clenching my Kegels so hard that it’s a wonder my IUD doesn’t pop out like an orange seed. After a few minutes of bouncing and listening to my own mewling, I glance in the mirror to check on my husband.

His head is thrust back and he’s firmly holding my hips. His lips are moving like he’s saying something, but nothing comes out. After a few moments, his eyes return to our joined bodies and I reach behind me a stick a finger in my ass where the butt plug used to be.

“Oh, fuck!” he growls at the sight and begins to wildly thrust into me, overpowering my smooth, massaging stroke. He pumps into me feverishly, gritting his teeth and grunting and throwing his head back again. When the first cry of orgasm escapes his lips, I rise off his cock, open my ass, and capture his ejaculating shaft between the cheeks. Surprised and impassioned, his eyes open wildly, and his mouth is gaping as he’s gasping for breath.

I roll my still-oily ass over his squirting dick and watch him gaze in amazement as I hold it between my ass cheeks and pump the cum from his balls.

“Fuck!” he chokes. “Oh, God, do that! Do that! Fuck, yes! That ass! Oh shit! Shit! Shit! Shiiiiittt!”

His eyes are plastered to my ass like he can’t believe what he’s seeing—a fantastic stream of candle-lighting shooting up out of my oily ass from his dick. My husband sounds like he’s passing a kidney stone and I’m taking extreme pleasure in watching his haughty ass irk out an orgasm as intense as the one I just had. In fact…

I raise my hips, swivel and drop my pussy onto his still pulsing cock. He screams as I pull and push slow and hard, flexing my Kegels over his dick to mimic the tighten-release-push-pull of an oily handjob on the head and walls of his shaft.

“Gooooooooooddamn! Goddamn! Goddamn! Goddamn!” He’s twitching and trembling as he rides out the aftershocks and I smile to myself as he finally falls limp, breathless, and helpless, his body silently calling for mercy.

*-*

Had it not been for Jason calling to wake us, we might have missed out on the day’s events. As it turns out, a car will be arriving at 9am to take us to the Barossa Valley for a wine tour. The Valley is only an hour away, but Christian rightfully had them coordinate everything with Jason. I’m a bit jealous right now because for all intent and purposes, Jason is Christian’s Marilyn… and Andrea is Christian’s Marilyn. And Andrea has a Luma. Marilyn doesn’t have a Luma. She organizes my life all by herself.

I really miss Marilyn.

As we’re a bit pressed for time, I use the en suite to pump, shower, and prepare for the day while Christian uses the second bathroom. I can’t have another day where I don’t speak to my children, so when I’m done pumping and prepping, I call my babies for a little facetime. Keri informs me that Minnie is becoming a bit crabby and wouldn’t take her bottle last night. I’m certain it’s because she’s accustomed to the changeup between the rubber nipple and the breast—and she’s not getting one of those. This is further driven home by her elation to see my face on the phone and her subsequent displeasure with having to give the phone back to Keri. I can’t stand to hear her anguish, especially since I’m inadvertently causing it, so I hand the phone to Christian and let him get a little baby time while I try to nurse the wounds of my breaking heart.

“It happens all the time, baby,” he says, putting his arms around me and trying to comfort me while I stare out the window overlooking the City of Churches.

“Was she still crying when you ended the call?” I ask, never turning to face him.

“She settled a bit,” he says, pulling me against him… which means that she was still crying, just not as much. I suddenly can’t wait to have her in my arms.

“I’m a terrible mother,” I say, wiping away a tear.

“Don’t be ridiculous. You are no such thing,” Christian scolds gently. “You’re both having a bit of separation anxiety. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. Now I want you to stop that ridiculousness right now. It’s not true and I don’t have to tell you that.”

“I just… I shouldn’t have left her,” I protest.

“She’ll be fine,” he coaches. “What are you going to do when she goes to school?”

“Oh, God,” I say, and I’m overwhelmed with emotion. I drop my face in my hands and begin to weep. I hear my husband sigh heavily and I can imagine that he’s totally exasperated with me, and that just makes me cry harder.

“Don’t cry,” he says softly, turning me around to him and wrapping his arms around me. I stand there and weep into his T-shirt for several minutes until it’s covered in colored moisturizer and tears and he has to go and change it, and I have to wash my face and refresh my make-up. I still don’t feel good about leaving my baby, but I feel a little better since I’ve had my cry… I think.

Christian emerges in a white Izod over his jeans, declaring that he has no more T-shirts and will have to have the ones he has laundered since we still have two more days—including today—and the trip back to Seattle. Quite frankly, I like the Izod better.

39f548032e3227319813a69b6ab79224-christian-grey-jamie-dornan

I’m looking very Sex and The City in a comfortable flowy Halston Heritage lavender mini cut just above the knee and a pair of Louboutin Madmonica spiked open-toe cork wedge sandals. We rush down to breakfast so that we aren’t starting the day and an hour-long car ride to wine country on an empty stomach. That definitely wouldn’t be a good idea. My little crying spell and the subsequent cleanup cut our eating time in half, so we have a simple breakfast of eggs, Canadian bacon, roasted tomatoes, toast and juice—something that we can eat quickly, but not too quickly, before the car arrives.

“You were sleeping like the dead,” I say quietly to Christian during breakfast.

“I put in a lot of work last night,” he says proudly. “Bringing your beautiful wife to three orgasms is quite the feat.” He winks at me.

“Oh, really?” I challenge. “And I guess I had absolutely nothing to do with that last one, huh?” I raise my brow at him.

“Well… I… you… um…” Amazing. I’ve brought my husband to a stuttering mess.

“Um-hmm,” I say, filling my fork with food. “Well, while you opted for quantity—which was quite nice—I concentrated my efforts on quality. How do you think I did?” I throw an innocent gaze over at him, full well remembering watching him in the mirror muttering silent prayers while I rode his pulsing shaft relentlessly.

“You…” He clears his throat. “You… um… you did fine.” He quickly takes a sip of his coffee. I smile devilishly at him. I’ll just bet.

“Thank you, Mr. Grey,” I say, eating the food from my fork, chewing and smiling triumphantly. “By the way,” I add once I’ve swallowed my food. “Your choice of music…” I say, trailing off. He raises his gaze to me.

“Did you like it?” he asks.

“It was… a lot of new stuff. Some oldies… I didn’t think you were into the new stuff.”

“I can’t take credit for this song list,” he admits. “I typed a request into Pandora and just let it play.”

“What was the request?” I ask curiously.

“Baby-making music,” he says proudly. I burst out laughing.

After breakfast, a private van picks us up to take us on a beautifully scenic drive through the city of Adelaide and all the way north to the Barossa Valley. The ride will be approximately an hour long with plenty of sites to see along the way.

“Um, ma’am, I nohmally don’t comment on attiyah, but ya moight wanna chaynge ya shoes,” the driver says as we approach the car. Christian glares at him for a moment. He only glances at Christian momentarily before turning his attention back to me.

“It’s… foh ya comfoht, ma’am,” he adds. “There’ll be a lot of walking, ma’am,” he says in an attempt to get me to change my shoes. I immediately see the concern for my feet since I’m wearing wedges.

“Don’t worry about me,” I say with a warm smile. “Heels and I are old friends. I’d be much less comfortable in flats, and I have no problem taking them off if they become unbearable, which is not likely.”

“The touh is mohr than six hours, ma’am. If yoh’re shuh…” he urges once more. I appreciate his concern.

“I’m sure,” I smile. “Thank you for your kindness.” I elbow Christian in the side as he’s still glaring at the guy. “Stop it!” I chide softly. He looks down at me and I cock my head at him as an additional warning. When he appears to behave, I smile again at the driver and get in the van.

“Come on, Christian,” I chide gently to keep him from further harassing our driver. He leans in and sits next to me.

“The first thing he noticed was your shoes, huh?” he says as our security follows us into the van. It’s a late model Mercedes—it seats seven, but I’m not sure of the model.

“He’s probably trained to do that, dear,” I point out. “Can you imagine how many women have come on the tour wearing the wrong shoes and did nothing but complain the entire time?” The driver gets into the car and confirms what I’m saying.

“She’s roight, mate,” he says to Christian. “I don’t know whaht thehy’re expectin’, but plenty o’ sheilas get in wehring six-inch heels and thehy’re miserable halfway through the trip. Imagine how ya’d feel troying to enjoy ya day with blistahs on ya feet!! I always check an’ give ‘em toime and option ta chaynge. I’m sorry… I didn’t mean ta offend ya.” Christian sighs and waves him off.

“Don’t worry about it,” he says. “I’m just… very possessive of my wife, and it’s been an… interesting trip on that note so far.” I chuckle.

“Tell me about it!” I murmur mirthfully. The driver smiles in the rearview.

“Thanks, mate. Roight, then, shall we go?” He smiles widely and starts the car.

The scenery is absolutely breathtaking, including the gorgeous vineyards that lay before us once we clear the city limits. They’re everywhere along the road through the Adelaide Hills, from really small patches of land to huge estates. I’m captivated by the beautiful landscapes, but not so captivated that I can’t tell that my husband is distracted. Is he still pissed off at the driver?


CHRISTIAN

“I wanted to have more information for you before I called you with conjecture, sir,” Josh says as I’m drying my hair. I brought the phone into the en suite with me and it’s a good thing I did. Josh has information hot off “the presses” for me.

“What do you have?” I ask as I begin my grooming routine.

“Lincoln is talking to anyone who’ll listen. She’s a media dream and nightmare at the same time. She’s very indiscreet. She gives enough information to have you chomping at the bit, but it’s not hard for the educated researcher to decipher exactly who she’s talking about—they just can’t afford to speculate without further information.”

“Fuck, I was afraid of that,” I hiss around a mouthful of toothpaste. “How close is she to a release date?”

“She’s aiming for May,” Josh says. Shit, that means she’s got a lot of information already on paper, or at least shared with her fucking ghostwriter. “She’s got a good solid timeline in front of her and nothing between her and the tell-all but air and opportunity.” She picked the perfect time to leak her story—right after our exposé hit the air.

“Did she make you for working for me?” I ask.

“I don’t think so,” he says. “If she did, she didn’t let on, or she just doesn’t care. She didn’t give me the name of her ghostwriter either. She gave me a penname, but at the moment, it leads nowhere. I’ve got Alex looking into some things for me and I’m discreetly chasing a few leads myself.”

“Shit!” I hiss. “So much for nipping this thing at the bud.”

“Don’t lose faith,” he says. “It’s only been a few days. Sometimes, it takes a little more digging to find the buried treasure. That’s why I was waiting to call you…” and I got impatient and jumped the gun.

“She gave me pretty much the same information that she’s giving to any other reporter that comes through there,” he continues. “Everything she said to me, we’ve already read in the papers, but to her, it’s fresh and new information every time she gives it. So, I listen for fresh and new information. I listen for context clues that nobody else would know to listen for. Like I said, I’m chasing a few things to narrow down a few solid theories, but I won’t relay information that sends you in the wrong direction—I have to know for sure.”

“I appreciate that,” I reply with a disappointed sigh. I’ve been literally itching for some information on the crazy bitch, and pretty much… nothing.

“I do have some other information, though,” he adds. “The warden cornered me as I was leaving…”

Oh, now we’re getting somewhere.

“What did he want?” I ask.

He asked who I was working for. I told him that I was freelancing, that I’m hoping to get an angle that nobody else has gotten and I’ll sell my story to the highest bidder. It’s easier to get what you need from a crook if you come off as cutthroat and hungry than if you show any signs of ethics whatsoever.”

“What makes you think he’s a crook?” I ask. He scoffs. “I mean, I pretty certain that he’s crooked. I just want to know what makes you think he’s a crook.”

“Upstanding member of society and leader of industry has been trying to get in touch with you for several days on a matter that you know will directly affect him and you avoid his calls… You’re either crooked or stupid—or both!” I twist my lips. Excellent judge of character.

“He asked if I had gotten any material that was worth printing. I told him that I hadn’t. Everything that she gave me, I already knew. So, he dangles a carrot in front of me. He says the book, the story, and the possible subsequent movie rights are likely to blow the top off the social scene and quite possibly the financial scene. He knows it’s you. He didn’t say so, but he made enough references. I don’t know what Lincoln said, but he knows, and at this moment, he’ll protect her through the screenplay to get his payoff.”

Well, this is just fucking great. She didn’t have to tell him much of anything. Of course, he knows it’s me. I paid his ass off to keep her quiet. Now, he’s avoiding my calls and siding with her, giving her carte blanche when it comes to talking to reporters and her fucking ghost writer.

“He wants to get the profits from the book. She just wants to tell her story, but her story is so sick and twisted, I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to write it. The way she portrays the roles of certain characters, it’s not pretty. Her rendition will implicate people and suggest that they’re pretending to be victims when they fully participated in the activities.” She’s obviously referring to the fact that I became a Dom once I came of age and continued the BDSM lifestyle…

Or at least that’s what I thought.

“The brief description that she gave me made it look like she had a club—a coven, if you will—of pedophiles; that they engaged in consensual sexual relations with minors and that said minors joined the club and continued the cycle when they became of age.”

“Wait a minute… what?” I say, staring horrified into the mirror.  

“I can’t make it any clearer,” he says. “There are underground pedophile sex clubs all over the world. It’s disgusting, but it’s true. It’s a real movement, and there are a lot of people involved… a lot! Her basis from what I can see is that she was part of—or the head or madame of—one such organization. And Christian, she can say what she wants, because she’s writing it as fiction. So, whether it’s true or not, the sensationalism of it will have this shit flying off the shelves. Think O.J. Simpson and If I Did It.

Oh, hell. That’s already a horribly touchy subject. Now, we’re comparing my life and the lives of several other sexually victimized young boys to the story of a man who may or may not have nearly beheaded the mother of his children and her male companion?

And now, I don’t have Holstein’s cooperation because he’s more concerned with a piece of the possible pie. Fine, fuck it. They want to play dirty, then it’s dirty they’ll get.

“And no clue on BD Simmons.” It’s a statement in the form of a question.

“Nothing concrete,” Josh says. “Again, I won’t put flawed information into the hands of the most powerful man on the western seaboard.”

“Duly noted,” I reply. That really wouldn’t be wise. “I need you to keep me posted the moment you do get something concrete. My response to this matter will be swift and sure. Time and discretion are of the utmost essence.”

I end the call and try to pretend that this information has not soured my entire mood.

“You’re not here.”

My wife’s voice brings my attention back to the fact that we’re cruising along a country road on our way to one of Australia’s many famed wine regions. I can’t hide the fact that I’m completely distracted by the conversation that I had with Josh this morning. She’s probably going to be pissed that I called him, but… I have to tell her something.

“Excuse me, parlez vous français?” I say, leaning forward to the driver. He glances in the rearview mirror.

“I’m sorry, mate?” he says.

“Parlez vous français?” I repeat.

“Sorry,” he says, watching the mirror and the road, “not shuh whaht cha sayin’, mate.”

“No problem. Thank you,” I say, turning to my wife to have the entire conversation with her in French.

“J’ai parlé à Josh ce matin,” I say. She sighs.
(I spoke to Josh this morning.)

“Qu’a t’il dit?” she says.
(What did he say?)

“Il essaie toujours de savoir qui est l’auteur, mais Holstein protège Lincoln.” She rolls her eyes in frustration.
(He’s still trying to find out who the ghost writer is, but Holstein is protecting Lincoln.)

“Je le savais!” she hisses. “Je le savais putain! Cela explique pourquoi il ne prenait pas vos appels.”
(I knew it! I fucking knew it! That explains why he was not taking your calls.)

“Ça a empire,” I inform her. “Elle donne l’impression que nous étions un club secret de pédophiles… comme si nous étions un groupe entier cherchant des enfants et les recrutant plus tard dans leur cercle quand ils sont devenus majeurs.” Her eyes widen in horror.
(It gets worse. She gives the impression that we were a secret club of pedophiles… as if we were an entire group trolling for children regularly and later recruiting them into our circle when they became of age.)

“Vous n’êtes pas sérieux,” she whispers incredulously. “Qui dans leur esprit accepterait d’écrire quelque chose comme ça?” I shake my head.
(You’re not serious. Who in their right mind would agree to write something like this?)

“Tu sais aussi bien que moi qu’il y a un public pour tout, bébé,” I reply. “Vous devez juste trouver le créneau qui est prêt à écouter vos conneries.” She drops her head in her hands.
(You know as well as I do that there’s an audience for everything, baby. You just have to find the niche that’s willing to listen to your bullshit.)

“C’est irréel.” she laments. “C’est absolument irréel. Si je n’en étais pas personnellement conscient, je ne penserais pas qu’un être humain puisse survivre avec autant de mal. Je plaisantais quand je l’appelais «démon puant, méchant, sale, visqueux, visqueux, démone pédo-salope de l’enfer», mais que cette horrible reine diabolique appartient vraiment au plus profond les profondeurs du pire tourment éternel jamais imaginable. Il n’y a absolument aucune rédemption pour elle. Elle marche à pied détérioration, damnation et destruction et elle doit être détruite…”
(This is unreal. This is absolutely unreal. If I wasn’t personally aware of it, I wouldn’t think that any one human being could survive harboring this much evil. I was joking when I called her a ‘stank-ass, slutty, nasty, filthy, slimy, Pedo-Bitch She-Thing demon from hell,’ but that horrific, wretched, inhuman, devil queen really does belong in the deepest, hottest depths of the worst eternal torment ever imaginable. There is absolutely no redemption for her. She is walking deterioration, damnation, and destruction and she must be destroyed…)

I had all but forgotten about that name, but Butterfly is right. This woman is pure evil personified, the worst manifestation of Satanic personification—Princess Beelzebub unleashed on this earthly realm, and the world would truly be a better place without her in it.

My wife has completely gone off on a French tangent now. All the men in the car—including the driver—have gone a bit pale and are looking everywhere but at us, and as far as I know. I’m the only one who knows what she’s saying… maybe…

“Do you speak French?” I ask Lawrence. He shakes his head.

“German, sir,” he says. I look at Jason. I know Spanish is his second language.

“A word here and there, sir,” he says, “enough to know she’s pissed.”

“Stop talking about me like I’m not here!” Butterfly snaps. We weren’t… only that last statement, but I’m not going to be the one to dispute her on it. All the men quickly turn their attention to anything else—the scenery, the road, a speck of lint on the carpet, anything safe—while I turn my attention back to one angry little Butterfly.

“I shouldn’t have told you,” I confess, “at least not now. It’s going to ruin your day.”

“No, it won’t,” she says matter-of-factly, “because I know that you’re going to do everything humanly possible to rectify this situation. I know that you’re going to use your endless resources to make sure that this woman is not able to ruin the many, many lives that she could possibly ruin—now or ever again—with this ridiculous undertaking. You’re going to do what needs to be done to put an end to this—or I will.”

Three sets of eyes zero in on my wife and I’m sure it would have been four if the driver could look at her without putting us all at risk.

“Butterfly…” I begin my protest.

“I’m going to let you handle this, Christian,” she says, her voice unwavering. “I’m going to watch, and I’m going to let you handle it. But if for any reason, you are unable to stop this from happening, I want you to remember something—all those boys, their families, my children! I will stop at nothing and no one to terminate this ridiculous pursuit! She wants us to believe she’s crazy? Fine! I’m crazier! She will not jeopardize the lives of my children and that is my final word! And that’s not a threat, Christian, that’s a promise!”

I’m glaring at this woman possessed because I swear, I’ve never seen her before. Al usually tells me which version of “Ana” I’m dealing with when she steps out of herself, and he’s not here to identify this one for me. I’m quickly running through my head all the Ana’s he has introduced me to…

Knife-throwing Ana…
Marine’s Daughter Ana…
First-Blood or Rambo Ana…

Shit, I don’t know. All I know is that she’s glaring at me with the glassiest blue eyes I’ve ever seen, her pupils so constricted, they’re almost invisible. I fucking well better answer her.

“I. Will take. Care. Of this,” I say, finitely. She glares at me for a moment longer before she slowly nods once.

“Good,” she says firmly. “Keep me posted.” She turns her gaze away from me and back to the scenery going by outside the window. I throw a cautionary glance at Jason, who returns my glare before glancing over at Lawrence. A silent conversation ensues between the three of us to not let her out of our sight or she just might hurt someone today. The conversation inside my head is much more detailed.

Get this shit on lockdown or there’s going to be fucking hell to pay.

*-*

Tensions ease once we arrive at our destination. Butterfly has all but forgotten our conversation about the Pedophile, and it’s my job to ensure that her thoughts don’t wander in that direction again. Granted, it’s my fault they wandered in that direction in the first place, but I couldn’t keep the truth from her, especially since my ire and distraction was written all over my face.

“Hello,” a friendly gentleman greets us when we exit the Mercedes. “Ma nayme’s John. OI’ll be yohr touhr goide tahdeye.” I take Butterfly’s hand as Jason and Lawrence exit the vehicle.

“I’m Christian. This is my wife, Anastasia. These gentlemen are my security detail.” John’s brow rises.

“Political official, ahre ya?” John asks. I shake my head.

“No, nothing like that… but perfectly legal,” I assure him.

“Can nevah beh too syfe, eh mate?” he says with a nod before continuing directly to the next topic. “Tell me, whaht’s yohr expehrience with woine?”

Hmmm, how do I answer that?

“My wife is basically a Cabernet woman, but can be easily swayed with smooth reds,” I begin, and Butterfly playfully slaps my arm. “One of her favorites is the Screaming Eagle from Napa Valley. We discovered it on the wine train tours a couple of years ago.”

“Yes, OI’m quite familiah with the Screamin’ Eagle,” John confirms. “Which yeahr?”

“2006,” I confirm. “It’s apparently hard to find, but our concierge was able to locate a dozen and have them shipped to our home.” John nods.

“Have ya had tha pleasah of tha ’92?” he asks. I shake my head.

“I can’t say that I have.” John nods again.

“Extremely rahe vintage, mate,” he says, his voice laced with a bit of awe. “Aged in 60% new oak; it’s mohe puhple than woine colored and has a jammy black currant aroma mixed with hints of oak. Very difficult ta locyte and OI’ve huhd of bottles runnin’ upwuhds of 500,000 Amehrican!” He pauses for a moment. “Sorry thehre, mate. OI get a little carried awy talking about the woines.” I wave him off, playing down the fact that I’m thoroughly impressed with his knowledge of wines.

“Don’t be,” I excuse, “I’m a bit of a connoisseur myself, versatile with a preference to dry whites. I may pick your brain about what exclusive blends the region has to offer.” John smiles widely.

“OI’m yoh goiy, mate,” he says happily.

“I’m afraid we haven’t been able to expand our palates much since our honeymoon,” I add.

“Ah, newlyweds?” he asks. Butterfly giggles.

“Somewhat,” she replies. “We’ve been married for 18 months.”

“Yeah, thaht’s still newlywed,” John says. “Ahr little cornah of tha world hehr is whaht we cahl a woine town—everything hehr is centehred on tha woine.”

“I’ve heard that you have some award-winning Shiraz in these parts,” I coax. John smiles widely again.

“You huhd correct, mate,” he says gleefully. “Did ya do anythin’ special on ya honeymoon? Somethin’ that stuck out to ya, maybe?” I shrug.

“Well, our honeymoon started in Paris, then continued in Greece,” Butterfly says. “To be honest, the entire trip was pretty special, so it’s hard to pick just one thing. We had a tasting at Le Dokhan’s…”

“Ah, Le Dokhan’s!” John interrupts, “worhld-renowned champyne, oldest estahblishment in Pehris. You both must have vehry discuhning palates.”

“We’ve tasted a wine or three,” I confirm.

“Well, in thaht cyse, OI’ve got tha perhfect day in moind foh ya. Fahllow me and we’ll get stahted.”

He walks ahead of us and leads us to a rebuilt and refurbished 1962 Daimler Chrysler. Apparently, this beautiful classic car will be our transportation for the day.

“Ooo, very nice,” Butterfly says as she climbs inside.

John is quite chatty during the course of our tour and I’m very soon to discover why. He’s very proud of the Barossa Valley having lived here most of his life and conducted tours for over 20 years. He boasts having given this tour to dignitaries and wine connoisseurs from all over the world and promises to look me up so that he can add our tour to his updated list of bragging rights. He informs us that our tour has no specific itinerary and that if at any time we don’t like the course of the day to let him know and we can adjust accordingly.

We take a short drive to St. Hugo first. Although my wife was distracted with thoughts of Elena Lincoln’s demise on the trip to the valley, she’s quite attentive as John informs us of the history of St. Hugo. She remembered to bring the camera this time, and she’s taking several shots ranging from the picturesque countryside to quirky street signs pointing in various directions.

At the risk of sounding like the terrible snob that I can be, I’m extremely pleased with the vibe we’re getting from the Barossa Valley, and even more pleased when I hear of the settlement of the area. Most of Australia—particularly the ports we visited earlier in our vacation—was settled by convicts or others who had been exiled to Australia from England. Contrarily, settlers of South Australia and the Barossa Valley came looking for a better life. They were mostly merchants and farmers, those in search of their fortune on the shores and bush of Australia in the late 1800’s. Most prominent in this area were German settlers, and many of the vineyards they planted are still around today.

I’m not ashamed to say that the spirit that my Butterfly is gleaning from this area is much more relaxed and pleasant than the monsters she acquired at Port Arthur. So, yes, the snob in me is much more partial to the Barossa Valley, and I intend to do more research on our excursions in the future.

As we arrive at St. Hugo, John tells us that the current winery is comprised of original structures from the ruins of William Jacob’s winery, which was built over 150 years ago, as well as new additions designed to seamlessly tie in with the old ruins. We travel down a winding driveway with a stunning view of half-century-old cork trees—one of the few plantations of its kind in Australia.

Our tour begins with a short but refreshing walk through the vineyard. We note that some of the vines have been named and John tells us about how some of the names were chosen. One of the royal families came to the vineyard for an exclusive tour called the Sainthood Experience and the row of vines was named after them. Parcels from the vineyard of that row were picked and a custom wine was blended, where it is stored to age for three years and will then be delivered to that family. I don’t bother asking what that experience costs—I can imagine that even I would find it exorbitant.

After the tour, we head into a cozy tasting room, cellar door, and restaurant to literally enjoy the fruits of the field with a few other patrons of the vineyard. It’s easy to see that John is well known in the area. He takes pride in showcasing his knowledge and sharing his personal Barossa friendships and connections. It’s like he’s part of a special club that knows the inside scoop of all the secrets of the land—a wine fraternity, if you will.

Watching the wines being poured into the glasses is almost a spiritual moment. You can almost see the blends flowing out of the bottle and into the glass in slow motion, and your mouth waters with anticipation to taste it. The way the wine washes up from the bowl of the glass and gracefully caresses the sides enhances the experience. It’s almost like you’re watching a vintage being born in front of you even though you know that’s not the case.

Each tasting is accompanied by a very small gourmet entrée to complete the wine-tasting experience—a light degustation, not the complete chef’s experience, but we didn’t want that right now. Unlike the regular practice of pairing the right type of wine with the food, St. Hugo’s chef chooses his foods to complement the wines. After all, the wines are the stars of the show. The dishes are arranged with the wines according to taste—bitter, sweet, sour, fatty, savory, etc. We taste the various wines along with the simple dishes and ingredients and pick our favorites—which flavors we felt went best with each vintage, and which vintages we preferred over others. I’m pretty partial to the signature Shiraz while Butterfly predictably leans to an incredibly decadent Cabernet.

John is only too happy to inform the vintner that we would like three bottles of the 2005 Signature Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon to be packed and prepared to take back to the States. Reminding us of the tax and hassle of getting the wine through customs, he offered to send it directly to our address in Seattle. I wouldn’t have minded the tax on the wine—at $1000 a bottle, it couldn’t have been much for someone like me—but he raises a good point about the hassle of customs, and we may find more wine that we’d like to ship home. In light of that information, I agree to have the bottles shipped and give him our information for the shipping.

Just as I’m finishing the transaction, Butterfly scoffs loudly and indiscreetly. I frown and turn to her.

“What’s wrong?” I ask. I know she’s had a bit of wine, but it’s no more than we’ve had at a normal dinner and we’re just getting started, so it can’t be that.

“I must be one helluva hot dish!” she’s says uncensored. Okay…

“Well… yeah, but why is that a bad thing?” I ask.

“Because people can’t believe for the life of them that we just met, fell in love, got married, and started a family. I just have to be a trophy wife!”

That statement tells me everything I need to hear. There’s only one other group of people in the cellar door with us and they’re standing just to the left of her—two couples about our age examining the wine menu. At least the men are examining the wine menu. The women are looking over at Butterfly. They subsequently divert their gaze when they see me glaring at them.

“You are a trophy wife, baby. Get used to it,” I say loud enough for them to hear. They giggle and Butterfly gasps. “That’s because you’re one hell of a fucking prize. And the next time someone says that about you, just remember that they’re only saying it because they’re so goddamn jealous that they could chew out their own fucking tongues.”

I raise my brow at her and wait for acknowledgment. I get it in the form of her beautiful, coy smile that I know is only reserved for me. I lift her chin and kiss her gently.

“Never get upset about trolls, baby,” I say, still holding her chin, but looking at the cunts who disparaged her. “They’ve got nothing on you and they know it, and that’s why they try to cut you down.” I bring my eyes back to Butterfly’s. “Comprendre?”

“Oui, monsieur,” she replies sweetly. I brush her lips with another soft kiss.

“Let’s get out of here,” I say, taking her hand and tucking it into the crease of my elbow. “The riff-raff is starting to bother me.”

As we pass the couples still standing at the counter, I hear one of the men say, “Geez, what the fuck did you say?’”


A/N: Yes, they’re everywhere!

More music from the special night:
Usher—
Trading Places
Nelly and Kelly Rowland—
Dilemma
Usher—Lovers and Friends
Trey Songz—
All We Do
Slo Mo—
Ride
Jeremiah—
Birthday Sex
Guinuwine—
Differences
Trey Songz—
On Top
K Camp—
Blessing

Putain d’enfer, il l’a encore fait!—Fucking hell, he did it again!
S’il vous plaît”—”Please!”

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, 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

The Australia Picture Board can be found here: https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/raising-grey-the-trip-to-australia/ and the pictures from today’s chapter are in the “Adeliade,” “Peppers,” and “Barossa Valley” sections, and there are a lot of them!!

And of course, the regular Pinterest board is here: https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/raising-grey/

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.

~~love and handcuffs