Grey Continued: Season 5 Episode 8

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

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

Season 5 Episode 8

CHRISTIAN

The trip to the District Court is… interesting. The I-15 freeway is nerve-wracking to say the least. Traveling down that stretch of road, you just want to close your eyes and pray that you don’t get killed. A six-mile journey takes all of 30 – 45 minutes in rush hour traffic, and we have to hit it coming and going for the next several days at least. I’m silently praying for safe passage. My wife, on the other hand, is sitting next to me silent and stoic.

The courthouse is clean and professional enough, but the distance in between once you exit the freeway reminds me of Detroit. Where Detroit has liquor stores every few blocks, here there are bail bondsmen everywhere you look. Downtown is full of apartments in desperate need of repair and no-tell-motels all over the place—or at least that’s what they look like to me.

At a certain point, you reach the business district that looks like it totally shouldn’t be here—clean lines, high rises, well-maintained streets… which they very well should be with all the construction we kept hitting on the way out here.

The parking is atrocious down here and we can’t afford to get out of town tickets in three rental SUVS, or worse, towed. As such, we have a plan for pickup and drop off at the courthouse. All non-security staff will form a perimeter around me and Butterfly with Ray and Allen in front, James and Mandy on either side, and Vee and Marilyn bringing up the rear. The five members of my security team that won’t be parking the cars will form a five-point star around the eight of us with Jason at the lead, two guards at the rear, and a guard on either side. Butterfly will be duly buried in the middle of several people…

… Which is a good thing.

We can barely get the cars to the curb for fear of running over the Paparazzi’s toes as we pull up.

“Fucking vultures,” I mumble. This is insane and I have no idea how we’re even going to get out of the car.

“Where were all these people when this shit happened to me?” Butterfly blurts out, breaking her silence. “Why weren’t they this fucking hungry for a headline then?”

Oh, shit. She’s already losing it.

Several members of the press have cameras pressed against the glass of the SUV’s, and we can’t even exit the vehicle.

“Baby,” I say, taking her hand and trying to put out the fire before it starts, “remember what we said about the press egging you on.”

“Oh, don’t patronize me, Christian!” she barks snatching her hand from mine. “I’m not out of the car yet! And it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon either! These people have no fucking respect whatsoever. We’re trying to get to court, not walking the fucking red carpet!”

Dear God, somebody save me. I’m in a little metal box with a woman who’s getting more and more irritated by the second and my attempts at reason are only making it worse. What’s more, we can’t get out of the little metal box.

Unbeknownst to me, the city of Las Vegas has foreseen this little problem and has prepared accordingly. I can hear someone on a megaphone saying something, but I can’t quite make it out over the throng of people. As the cameras move away from the tinted glass, I crack the window slightly to hear what’s happening.

“Step away from the vehicle. Move away, or you will be arrested for obstruction of justice. This is your final warning.”

That’s right. Butterfly is a key witness in a criminal case. If they don’t allow her to get out of the car, they’re obstructing justice. I look back at my wife who looks through the crack in the window with stunned awe as the press is pushed away from the car. A few moments later, Chuck and Jason exit the car and another security detail takes the driver’s seat.

The door opens and we see Chuck, Al, James and Jason standing there.

“Are you ready?” Jason asks. I look at Butterfly, whose previous anger has completely deflated. She nods, and Ray exits the car first, then Mandy. It’s everyone else’s responsibility to fall in line once Butterfly exits the car, because she’s running to the door the minute she’s out of the car.

I never understood the concept of the courthouse having fifty stairs that you have to climb to get to the door. What’s the purpose of that?

When I step out of the car, I scan this situation before I let Butterfly out. Every fucking local newspaper in the state must be here. We’ve never had this much pomp and circumstance in Washington, and we’ve been to two trials where each of us was a key witness.

The press is neatly pushed away from either side of the car with Las Vegas Metro Police officers in tan uniforms with batons drawn holding them back from blocking our path to the door.

Now that’s what I call protecting and serving!

The cameras are still flashing, but I expect that much. We can’t stop them from taking pictures, but they have to let us through. I lean down into the car and take my wife’s hand.

“Ready?” I ask. She sighs heavily and nods.

She swings her legs out of the car and her Louboutin stilettos are probably the only picture of her that the press gets this morning. She stealthily stands to her feet and everyone quickly falls into formation as those sky highs take the stairs like Rocky. She doesn’t fall; she doesn’t stumble; she doesn’t trip; and she’s shorter than everyone on the peripheral. So, I’m certain that no one got a picture of her.

When we enter the doors of the courthouse, she doesn’t even look like she broke a sweat.

The police keep the press at bay until we all pass the metal detectors and enter the main hallway. Mac has informed me that only one station—KTNV Las Vegas—will have access to the trial. Because the case is so sensational, several media outlets filed for courtroom media access, but only one was granted. Thank God for small favors.

I’m busy checking on my wife to see how she’s holding up when I’m greeted with the last fucking thing I expected to see at this moment. I prepared myself for everything… every possible eventuality. I didn’t prepare myself for this.

Cholometes! Brian fucking Cholometes!

He’s sitting in the waiting area near the elevators looking straight at us. I glance down at Butterfly and she hasn’t spotted him yet. She’s too busy girding herself for the experience ahead. When he sees us, he rises from his seat and begins his approach. I put myself in my wife’s line of sight and I look down at her.

“Prepare yourself, baby,” I say. “We’ve got company.” Her expression hardens.

“Whitshit?” she spits. I shake my head.

“Cholometes,” I reply. An instant look of horror mars her face.

“What?”

The response comes from Ray. Apparently, my voice wasn’t as low as I thought it was. I look over at him and he’s scanning the room.

“What are you doing here, Brian?” he says before Cholometes even reaches us. He slows his approach at Ray’s tone.

“You’re my friend,” Cholometes replies. “I came to support you… and the family.”

By the family, you mean my wife. She has all the support she can get, Colostomy, she doesn’t need you!

“You didn’t have to come,” Ray says firmly. Cholometes ignores the implication.

“It’s the least I could do,” Cholometes replies, “especially after the events of our last encounter.” His words hang in the air. I take Butterfly’s hand. You mean when you outed our lifestyle in front of all her family and friends? Is that the encounter of which you speak?

“My little girl’s got a rough time ahead of her, Brian. If you’re bringing any drama with you, you can take it right back where you came from,” Ray scolds.

“I’m only here for support,” he responds before looking down at Butterfly. “You have my word.” Butterfly scoffs and rolls her eyes.

“Let’s go,” she says to me. I quickly lead her away from the scene without a word to Cholometes. My main concern right now is protecting her as much as I can.

“He doesn’t get within five feet of my wife,” I say to Jason and Chuck as we walk away.

“If he does, I’ll kick him in the fucking balls,” Butterfly growls under her breath as we walk deliberately towards the elevators. The bell rings that the elevator arrives and when the doors open, our group all stream in in formation—except one.

Sorry, Colostomy, no room.

There’s actually plenty of room, but the glare of at least seven angry men may have persuaded him to catch the next car.

The floor is surprisingly quiet when we exit the elevator. There are a few people in corners chatting quietly about… whatever. Butterfly never raises her head. She quietly watches her feet as we walk directly to courtroom 8A.

And now we discover why no one is in the hallway.

There are several people in the courtroom, spread out on different benches. The two benches behind the prosecutor are conspicuously empty. We all file in, and Butterfly still hasn’t raised her head or removed her sunglasses. Upon hearing us enter, Larson and his colleague turn around. Butterfly takes her seat, but I remain standing.

“Mr. Grey,” he says as he approaches the balustrade between us.

“Mr. Larson,” I greet just as stoically. He turns to Butterfly.

“Mrs. Grey, are you ready?” he asks. She removes her glasses finally.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” she replies.

“Please, be prepared,” he says. “Sullivan is claiming diminished capacity—not that he was insane, but that he was coerced and intimidated… basically that he was too young to understand or unaware of the full impact of his actions.” She twists her lips.

“Why does that not surprise me?” she says a little too calmly.

“They’re going to show the video, and the pictures of your back. Things are going to get very graphic and pretty brutal…”

“Nothing they say or do is going to be as brutal as what they already put me through, so it doesn’t matter, does it?” she replies matter-of-factly. Larson sighs, no doubt noting the same hostility that I experienced in the car.

“They’re going to make you out to be the villain,” he warns.

“What else is new?” she replies.

“I just want you to be prepared for anything. Expect anything. Remember, we can’t mention the rape unless they do,” he cautions. She sighs.

“Mr. Larson, nothing could prepare me for this, but I’ll do my best.”

“That’s all I ask,” he says, finitely. He glances at me again, then returns to his seat.

We sit in the courtroom waiting for an eternity for the proceedings to start, but it’s clearly only about twenty minutes. We hear more people come into the courtroom, but we don’t turn around to see who they are. There’s a guy sitting at the defense table looking at a notebook in a ledger. Clearly, he’s the defense attorney. After a few minutes, a door opens on the side of the courtroom and in walks some guy in a suit and handcuffs. This is obviously Vincent Sullivan, but I didn’t commit his face to memory. I can’t even remember what his brother looks like at the moment.

Butterfly glares at him, but he doesn’t look our way once. Sullivan is escorted to the defense table where the bailiff removes his cuffs. In both of the other cases we attended, both defendants scanned the room, made eye-contact with us and either sneered or jeered at us, but not Sullivan. He’s been coached. He doesn’t look left or right. He looks down or at his attorney—nowhere else.

“All rise. The criminal session of the Las Vegas Justice Court, Clark county is now in session, the honorable Wilson Bates presiding.”

The court stands to their feet as Judge Bates takes the bench.

“You may be seated.”

Judge Bates looks at the file in front of him and sighs.

“I’m not looking forward to this,” he mumbles, almost to himself. I think he forgot he was mic’ ed. What did he mean by that?

“Docket number 807154C-0404, the State of Nevada vs. Vincent Sullivan. Mr. Sullivan you stand charged with assault accompanied with acts of extreme cruelty and substantial bodily harm, battery with a deadly weapon with substantial bodily harm, battery without a weapon with substantial bodily harm, conspiracy to kidnap in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, manslaughter for fetal homicide, and attempted murder. You have entered a plea of ‘Not guilty due to diminished mental capacity.’ Do you wish to change your plea at this time?”

“No, your honor,” Sullivan says after a brief conference with his attorney.

“Is the state ready to proceed?” he asks.

“We are, your honor,” Larson replies.

“Is the defense ready to proceed?”

“Yes, your honor, we are,” the defense attorney replies.

“Very well. Bring in the jury.”

The bailiff leads 18 people into the courtroom and the judge has them sworn in. He begins the somewhat tedious task of jury instruction, and it’s at this moment that we discover that the jury will be sequestered, as well they should be. I expected as much. This case is way too publicized already to have them exposed to outside forces while they’re listening to it. I feel badly for them because this is going to go on for a while.

Once he has completed his instructions to the jury, he announces that Mr. Larson will be presenting opening statements on behalf of the State.

“Thank you, your honor, if it pleases the court,” Larson says.

“Yes, sir,” the judge replies.

“Counsel,” he says to the defense attorney, who nods. Then he turns to face the jury.

“Anastasia Steele was a loner,” he began. “She was a good student, but a stranger in a strange land. She was implanted into the affluent neighborhood of Green Valley at 14, but she wasn’t wealthy or even well-off like the other residents of the community. She had come from humble beginnings—not impoverished or even unpleasant, but humble. She was raised for most of her life in the home of her mother and father in Montesano, Washington. However, as fate would have it, her parents split up, and Anastasia would come to Henderson with her mother to reside in the home of her mother’s future husband.

“The following years would not be kind to Anastasia, and one year in particular, she found herself knocked unconscious, kidnapped, bound, and subjected to one of the most brutal and violent hazing rituals in history—the degradation and branding of another human being.”

Larson handles the opening arguments like a seasoned professional. He paints a vivid picture of a young misfit with good grades in an unhappy home. He makes reference to the rape without calling it that, labelling it as the “incident” that sparked the attack.

He gives a chilling recount of how Butterfly was kidnapped while walking home from school, thrown in the trunk of a car, dragged to the bonfire, and then tortured by a group of teenagers.

He outlines a gruesome picture of a vicious mob and a brutal hazing ritual that left a 15-year-old girl in a coma for three weeks while her attackers went home to their beds and slept peacefully with no concern about the young girl they left for dead.

“That night, an officer happened upon the scene of the hazing, causing the participants and observers to scramble, leaving Anastasia Steele naked, burned, beaten, unconscious, bleeding, and left for dead on the ground. Her unborn child was inside of her, his or her little heart beating its final beats, if it hadn’t stopped beating already.”

Butterfly doesn’t react to the description, but various members of the jury are visibly affected by it.

“Anastasia was rushed to the hospital, underwent several procedures—one of which was to remove the remnants of the dead fetus from her uterus—and she spent three weeks in a coma. Meanwhile, the defendant and their co-conspirators who had executed this horrendous event and even recorded the whole thing on video, all went home to their fashionable houses and their comfortable beds, laid their heads on their pillows and slept, night after night. Anastasia was living the nightmare, but her vicious and brutal attack was reduced to nothing more than locker-room talk and urban legend.

“She was rescued from the hell that Henderson was to her, Green Valley, and taken back to Montesano by her father. She was enrolled in school and ready to rebuild her life until the father of one of the defendants paid off her mother and stepfather to bring her back to Las Vegas, where they could keep an eye on her and make sure that she didn’t spill their secret.

“Their secret stayed buried until a few years ago, when a routine background check unearthed a second name for Mrs. Grey—Anastasia Lambert, and that name led to a second set of school records, prompting an in-depth background check which uncovered the police reports and the horrific pictures you will see today of Anastasia’s broken body.

“Anastasia’s husband-then-boyfriend came to investigate the matter, setting off a chain of events that has led us here today. Simultaneously, Mrs. Grey—then Dr. Anastasia Steele—had begun seeing a patient for dignity therapy who, as it turns out, had recorded the video that you’re going to see today. This young lady was dying of a terminal illness and had sought out Dr. Steele to confess her involvement in Anastasia’s attack before she died.

“The video you’ll be seeing is 37-minutes long. It’s quite graphic and very brutal. It plays out like a horror movie. You must sit through the entire thing. We ask that you please prepare yourselves for the gruesome scene that you’re about to see. If any of you have weak constitutions, we will pause the playback while you compose yourself. However, we will resume playback because the video is evidence and you must see it in its entirety.

“As you are watching the video, ask yourself how it makes you feel. How it feels knowing that this is not a movie—this is not a re-enactment–that this really happened to a 15-year-old girl. Ask yourself how it feels knowing that no one felt that anyone should be brought to justice for this—not even the police. Ask yourself how it feels knowing that this could have been your child. Not one of them felt any remorse for what they did, and they don’t feel any remorse now. In fact, they’re trying to get away with it. How does that make you feel that something like that could happen in this day and time in the United States and no one is called to justice for it for nearly 15 years?

“That’s thirty-seven minutes… thirty-seven live minutes of the most vicious attack on a young girl that you may ever see in your life. Remember that Anastasia Steele’s terror and pain lasted more than that thirty-seven minutes. Remember that no matter what you hear in this courtroom, no matter what pictures the defense may want to paint of Mrs. Grey, of her family, and of the alleged assailants, remember what you see with your own eyes. Remember what the video tells you—what you saw.

“You’ll hear testimony from others that may seem circumstantial, but I ask that you consider it in context with everything else that you’ll see and hear during this trial. Let’s give Anastasia the justice that she finally deserves. Thank you.”

Larson takes his seat. The judge then announces that the defense, Mr. Drake, will present opening statements.

“Thank you, your honor, if it pleases the court,” Drake says.

“Yes, sir,” the judge replies.

“Opposing counsel,” Drake says, and Larson nods.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I remind you of your instructions, that you must weigh this case on the facts. Although you may find yourself empathizing with the victim, although you must watch the cruelty of the action, you cannot decide this case on emotion. You must decide it on the facts. You must decide if Vincent Sullivan willingly and maliciously injured a young girl and caused the death of her unborn child. That’s going to be hard to do once you see the evidence.

“You’re going to be tempted to sympathize with the plight of a young girl who was victimized by a group of vicious teenagers, because that’s exactly what you’re going to see. No one is disputing that. What has brought us here today is Mr. Sullivan’s role in this act. And this is where it’s imperative that your personal prejudices and biases do not come into play.

“For one thing, we get a vivid picture of a poor young girl just trying to survive in the affluent neighborhoods of Henderson. They want you to believe that this poor little waif was an unsuspecting victim of an unnecessary violent act. While I won’t deny that this act was brutal and unfortunate…”

Unfortunate? What the ever-loving fuck? She was raped by a motherfucker who wouldn’t take no for an answer, and then beaten because she was raped! And he calls that shit unfortunate?

“… Don’t be cajoled into believing the ‘victimized nerd’ persona that’s being presented to you. This girl was a promiscuous opportunist looking to trap a young man simply because his family was well-to-do. This was no innocent that we’re dealing with. This was a young harlot who seduced the son of one of Green Valley’s most prominent citizens, lied on him about it and provoked him and his young girlfriend until a group of unidentified people saw through her scheme and put a stop to it. Did she deserve what happened to her? Did she bring it on herself? I can’t say, but I can tell you this. The prosecution has given you his version—his opinion—of what he thinks happened that night. As jurors, it’s your job to apply the law to this situation to determine Vincent Sullivan’s guilt or innocence.”

So, let me see if I’ve got this straight. You don’t want them to look at her as a poor little waif or a victimized nerd because that would be biased, but you want them to look at her as a promiscuous opportunist and that’s not? I’m confused.

“The boy that she targeted was a popular young man, a well-known athlete… and she was a misfit. She wanted to belong, to fit in by any means necessary, even if it meant trying to trap or blackmail one of the most popular boys in school, and she just played the wrong cards. I’m not saying that she deserved what happened to her, but I am saying that when you play a dangerous game, something dangerous is bound to happen.

“The video you’re going to see is dark. Forensics have verified its authenticity, but most of the assailants are hooded; and the key witness and videographer—God rest her soul—is conveniently deceased. Yet, the prosecution would have you believe that this powerful multibillionairess…” He’s pointing at Butterfly, “… just happened on this information—that an ailing woman with a terminal disease wandered into her office after 15 years with a key piece of evidence to put away several prominent members of our community; that we should now look at this suffering soul whose net worth is probably more than all of us combined and say, ‘Isn’t that so sad and tragic. Poor little rich girl.’”

His voice is so condescending that you can hardly believe that he’s talking about this brutally senseless act of violence that occurred to a 15-year-old girl. Yes, she’s a billionairess now, but this act didn’t happen to a billionairess. This happened to a nerdy teenager—an “A” student who wanted nothing but to graduate and get away from the hell that was an uncaring mother and an emotionally cruel stepfather and happened to be unlucky enough to get raped by the most popular boy in school.

Drake is trying to make Whitmore look like the victim. How can he be the victim when she’s the one who was raped and attacked? She’s the one who was beaten damn near to death. Her baby was beaten to death. How is he the victim?

“’People say believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.’ Those are the words to a song that my mother used to play all the time. What you see… You’re going to see a lengthy video of some kids doing some horrible thing to some other kid. And as that video is playing, some of you may become ill. Why? Because this was your first time seeing it and you were not prepared. This isn’t her first time seeing it…” He’s pointing at Butterfly. “But I can guarantee you she’ll vomit, and I’ll tell you why. It’s called practiced regurgitation. It’s what bulimic women do when they want to expel their food after a binge. They can barf on command. Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.”

He can’t be serious! His opening statement is to discredit her possible vomiting? I look over at Butterfly and she’s looking at him in utter horror. Is this really where he’s going with this? He’s not talking about Sullivan at all or his defense, only that the jury will have to review the evidence and determine if his acts were willful or malicious. The rest—and remainder—of his opening statement involved downplaying the content of the video, making Whitmore out to be the victim, and painting my wife as a wanton harlot out to snag a rich kid.

One of his final statements is to paint our marriage as her ultimate triumph in doing just that and using her newfound wealth to punish the good citizens of Henderson. For the love of God!

We painfully sit through several more minutes of this bullshit before the state’s case finally begins.

“The state calls Anastasia Grey,” Larson announces clearly. Butterfly takes a deep breath and walks to the witness stand. She’s sworn in and asked to state her name.

“Dr. Anastasia Rose Steele-Grey,” she replies and is told to be seated.

“Dr. Grey, what’s your specialty?” Larson asks.

“I’m a psychiatrist. I’m also the assistant director of the Helping Hands charity in Seattle, and I’m the executive director of Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.”

Yes, sir, that’s my baby.

“I’m sure you’d like to get this over with as soon as possible, so let’s just get to it, okay?” Larson asks. Butterfly nods.

“I’ve called you first, Dr. Grey, because I want to set the scene for what the jurors are going to be seeing. I’ll be asking you several questions about the incident. I need you to be as detailed as possible and as succinct as possible. I know that’s going to be hard, but we must get to the facts. Do you understand?”

“I understand,” she nods.

“Tell us, when did you first arrive in Green Valley?”

“In 2000. I was 14.”

“Where were you before you moved to Green Valley?” Larson asks.

“We lived in Montesano, Washington.”

“How would you characterize your childhood, Dr. Grey?”

“It started out really good when we were in Washington. We had a great relationship, but once we moved to Vegas, everything changed.”

“Changed in what way?” Larson asks. Butterfly shrugs.

“It felt like my mother hated me,” she says. “I don’t know any other way to say it. She told my daddy that she was leaving because he couldn’t provide the type of life that I deserved, but when we left, she treated me like I was an imposition the entire time, like all of her problems were because of me. She was unhappy with my dad during the last year or so of their life together, so I thought that if she moved to a new life, maybe she would be happy, and things would change… but she wasn’t. At least she wasn’t happy with me.”

“So, what did you do?”

“I studied hard. That’s all I could do. My clothes were plain; I was poor. I obviously didn’t belong, and Green Valley made sure that I understood that. I resented it. I was happy in Montesano with my simple clothes and my simple life and my travel books. She said I needed to have more, and she brought me here—and gave me nothing but misery.”

“How was school?” he asks. She scoffs.

“School was school,” she says. “Study, do my work, get my grades, go home. I was teased for not having the things that everyone else had, but I tried to ignore it. Home life was much worse, so school and friends weren’t a big deal.”

“Were you abused at home?” Larson asks. She shakes her head.

“Not immediately,” she replies. “They never hit me, but the mental warfare was brutal. Even now, as a mental health professional looking back on it, I don’t know how I survived it.”

“What about your father?”

“We talked when we could, but she did everything in her power to keep us apart. She even had me saying cruel things to him when he called. She’s a miserable soul. To this day, I still don’t know what was going on.”

“Okay, so we’ve established that your home life was pretty miserable, and school life wasn’t much better. Did you have a plan of escape?”

“I was only 14 when we got here. Escape hadn’t even occurred to me. I was waiting for my mother to get what she wanted and stop treating me like crap. Eighteen was four years away. It was obvious that the only way I was going to college was through scholarships, so school it was. I liked school. I liked learning. It was the people that I didn’t care for.”

“So… at the beginning of 2001, you met one of the popular students in school, is that correct?”

“That’s correct.”

“Tell us what happened,” he says.

“Cody Whitmore offered me a ride home from school.”

“Did he take you home?” Larson asks. Butterfly shakes her head.

“After a… harrowing encounter, for lack of a better word, he left me stranded in the middle of the desert to find my own way home.”

“And after that encounter, what happened?”

“I went home and told my mother and stepfather what happened.”

“And?” Larson presses.

“My stepfather and I went to Cody Whitmore’s house to confront him and his father. My stepfather took one look at that house—all that money—and his whole tone changed. We went inside. Whitmore’s girlfriend was there and denied everything. His father wouldn’t hear anything after Whitmore denied everything, and my stepfather didn’t even raise his voice to fight for me. He apologized for disturbing them and we left. He berated me the entire way home.”

“Why do you think your stepfather didn’t fight for you?”

“Because he didn’t believe me,” Butterfly replies.

“And why do you think that was?”

“I can’t speak for Stephen Morton and he’s no longer with us to speak for himself—not that I believe he would—but I can tell you this. I already told you that my mother couldn’t stand me. He liked me even less. He took one look at that house, all that money, Whitmore’s gorgeous blonde girlfriend, and all I heard all the way home was that there was no way in hell that Cody Whitmore would want my ass. It was awful. I wish I had just kept the entire thing to myself or ran away from home… something.”

“I can imagine,” Larson says. “So, let’s get to that fateful day in March of 2001. Can you set the scene for us?” Butterfly’s expression hardens.

“From the time we had confronted the Whitmores all the way to that day, my life was hell. I was an open target for everybody. They were already teasing me, so I thought it wouldn’t make a difference if they were teasing me some more. I was wrong. If I left early from class, someone was waiting to antagonize me. If I stayed over and waited until the halls were cleared, someone was still waiting for me. It’s like they had assignments to get me and they didn’t even go to class until they got me.

“It was little simple stuff at first like gum in my hair, kicking or pushing me on the way down the hall, knocking my books out of my hand, flipping my lunch tray over… just bullying stuff. So, when they were following me home taunting me that day, I didn’t think anything different of it. I wanted them to stop, but what could I do?” Larson nods.

“What happened next, Anastasia?” he says softly. Butterfly closes her eyes.

“I remember feeling something in the back of my head. It was fast—it was like fire… like a hot knife jabbing into my skull. Then I saw… stars or flashes of light or something. I heard ringing… and then, nothing.”

“And what do you remember next?” he asks. She sighs.

“I opened my eyes and it was cold… and dark. I didn’t know where I was at first, but then… I saw the taillights shine in my eyes, and I felt the movement. I knew I was in the trunk of a car.”

She still has her eyes closed. Is she… regressing? Right there on the stand?

“What were you thinking?” Larson asks.

“I was horrified,” she says calmly, a single tear falling down her cheek. “I didn’t know what was going on.” She opens her eyes and looks at Larson. I’m relieved to see that she didn’t regress, but she’s pale as a ghost and she doesn’t look well.

“There’s only one reason to put a live human being in the trunk of a car, and it never ends well. Here I am—a live 15-year-old girl, bound, cold, and in the trunk of a car.”

Her voice is cold and even as another tear streams down her cheek. She wipes the tears away immediately as Larson continued.

“When did you realize what was going on?”

“Not for a while,” she says, her voice failing a bit. “When the trunk opened, all I saw was hoods. I thought I was about to be a human sacrifice in a Satanic ritual. But when they reached into the trunk and pulled me out, I could see that they were… my age—kids. All I could think was, ‘What the hell is happening?’

“Nobody talked to me. They just grabbed me out of the trunk and started dragging me across the grass. My head was still banging from whoever hit me and I couldn’t see anybody. I had tears in my eyes. I was still seeing spots from when they shined the light in my face. I could see the bonfire, though, and I knew it couldn’t be good.” She drops her head.

“I saw some of their faces because they were all wearing hoods, but they weren’t all wearing masks. The two that were wearing masks—I heard their voices. I knew exactly who they were. I begged for my life; I pleaded for them to tell me what I had done wrong…” She grabs the railing of the witness stand. She’s looking for strength, I can tell…

I’ve got you, Butterfly. I’m here. Be strong, baby.

She takes a deep breath and raises her head again. She already looks spent.

“Go on,” Larson says. She begins to worry her scar.

Come on, baby. You can do this.

She clears her throat.

“She got in my face. She said something to me…” Butterfly says.

“Who did?” Larson asks. Butterfly looks up as if to pull strength.

“The one he calls Carly Babe,” she says. She was searching for her words. “She taunted me, she called me a bitch, and then she slapped me. That must have been the ‘go’ signal, because they all came at me after that. The hits were coming from everywhere. They hit me everywhere… everywhere! I don’t know how long this went on. It just seemed like it wouldn’t stop.

There was nowhere to go,” she says, her voice cracking. “My legs and wrists were tied… I tried to roll away… I couldn’t get away. No matter where I tried to roll, a foot or a fist came at me, and they were peeing on me and spitting on me… oh, God…” She whispers the last two words before thrusting her hands into her hair.

“I couldn’t cover my face or my head or my mouth… I just wanted it to stop; I wanted somebody to help me… I called for my mother, but she wasn’t there…” Her words trail off, and she stops for a moment.

“Dr. Grey…?”

“After a while, one hit just ran into the other,” she says. “I was still screaming when the urinating and spitting started, but after a while, I just stopped. I was exhausted and I couldn’t scream anymore. Nobody was listening anyway. Nobody could really hear me. The smell of piss permeated my senses, and I just prayed to hurry up and die. When I felt that first burn, I was surprised that anything could cause more pain than I was already feeling, but I was certain that I was about to get my death wish.”

She’s never explained things to me like this… ever. My stomach is churning, thinking about this ordeal. I know what happened, but I imagined how horrible it must have been from what I’ve learned, heard, and saw. Even now, it’s worse than anything I ever imagine. Larson purses his lips and nods at her.

“Your honor, I like to introduce into evidence state’s exhibit one.” The judge nods and Larson turns to the jury.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to see the video of the night in question. You will first see the taped confession of Melanie Coleman, a terminally ill woman who confesses to recording the video live. Please prepare yourselves.”

I’m not ready to see this again. I’ll never be ready to see this again.

“Please remember that deathbed confessions are admissible and not considered hearsay,” Larson says. “These confessions often occur because a dying person wants to live their final days free of secrets they have been concealing throughout their lives. Know that Ms. Coleman died days after she recorded this confession.”

Larson somberly takes his seat as the video begins to play. A frail woman connected to oxygen declares her name and that she recorded the video on March 10, 2001. She introduces some of the people in the video, including her cousin—Carly Madison—but admits that she doesn’t know most of the assailants.

Today is the day. Today is the day that we send a message to everybody that doesn’t know just how we take care of things in our town. Today is the day that we show that little broke bitch that she can’t fuck with me or my man and get away with it!”

I watch with clenched fists as Carly Madison-Perry and her piece of shit boyfriend, Cody Whitmore, set the scene for the horror that will change my Butterfly’s life forever. I watch the petite young brunette being knocked unconscious and thrown into the back seat of a car.

Ray clears his throat. Amanda gasps.

They were still at the school. Students were everywhere! Nobody did a goddamn thing! Nobody said a thing! Even after the attack… nobody said shit!

There’s a conversation going on like these girls are headed to a slumber party right before the screen goes black… a fucking slumber party!

When the screen comes back, there are about five girls in the frame looking like witches in black on Halloween. They each say some Fuck with us and die type of bullshit before they take my Butterfly out of the trunk of the car. The camera zooms in on her. She’s been crying and she’s absolutely terrified.

I look over at my wife and she’s not paying attention. She’s holding her head down, even turns it away as the video plays, most likely trying to tune it out as much as she can. She leans her head on her hand, blocking her view of the screen. No one looks at her—they’re concentrating, horrified, on the events happening on the screen.

She can’t watch the video. The last time she watched it, she ended up catatonic for several days—but she lived this horror, and she knows exactly what she’s hearing.

The first time I saw this video, I didn’t hear it, but now I do. It’s faint, but it’s heart wrenching. You can barely hear it over the commotion of the vicious crowd—kicking, beating, and desecrating this poor girl—but when you hear it once, it becomes clear, almost like you can’t hear anything else over it…

“Moooommmiiiiiiieeeee!”

“Moommmmmiiiiieeeeeeeee!”

Moooooooooommmmiiiiiiieeeeeee!”

Jesus, my heart is breaking, and Ray looks as if he could leap out of his seat right now.

The video is nearing the end, getting into the worst part of the attack. Women have begun to cry as they hear her screaming for her “mommy.” I’m getting more and more enraged watching the callous, cold, and unbelievably cruel behavior of these monsters as they torture my Butterfly.

When the searing of her skin can be heard in stereo throughout the courtroom, and her wails of agony rip through my ears and heart, that’s when the vomiting begins, and my Butterfly is not immune. Even after having lived through it, her stomach still can’t take it once the video is played again. I want to rush to her on the stand, but I know that I can’t, and the court has actually supplied barf bags for just such an emergency. Five people lose their breakfast and several others are green in the face watching this display.

It seems like it takes forever for the video to finally end, but it was only a few minutes from the branding to the end of the video. Several of the jurors, the onlookers, and my wife are unable to compose themselves once the video is complete. Sullivan is looking down at the desk and Drake is simply examining the condition of the attendees in the courtroom with a bit of concern.

Yeah, asshole. Just because you can watch that shit without blinking doesn’t mean that every other human being can.

It’s music to my ears when the judge calls a brief recess and the jury is quickly led out of the courtroom.

Butterfly collapses in tears on the stand, having fought to hold herself together as the jury is led away. Why is she trying to be strong now? No one—except that fucking defense attorney—would blame her for falling apart during this time. She leans forward on the railing of the stand and weeps until her body shakes. She did the same thing when she had to identify the people in the video last year. I sprint around the balustrade to get to her taking long strides to get to the witness stand.

“No!” she shrieks, jerking away when I touch her without lifting her head. I’m shocked that she won’t let me touch her, but pretty certain that she wouldn’t let anybody touch her right now. Nonetheless, I turn my gaze—and my rage—towards the defense table. Sullivan still hasn’t raised his head, but when Drake catches my gaze, he immediately turns and begins to confer with his client. You despicable, reprehensible…

“Sir,” Jason says, breaking my gaze from the defense table. He needed to, and I think he knows that.

“Get Alex on the phone,” I say, my voice only loud enough for him to hear me. “I want everything he can get on this guy. This is going to be his swan song.” Jason nods, but doesn’t move. Don’t worry, I won’t kill him. I’m more concerned about Butterfly right now.

“My wife needs ice water,” I say, a little louder, my voice still rugged as Satan, “and a salt packet if you can find it.”

“I’m on it, sir,” he says, and turns to leave.

“I knew this would happen,” the judge says and produces a salt shaker from under his lectern, placing it on the side of his podium. “There’s a vending machine down the hall with water in it.”

“Thank you, your honor,” Jason says and dashes from the courtroom.

“Thank you, sir,” I say. “It’s much appreciated.” He nods and leaves the bench, going to his chambers. I take the salt and wait the eternity for Jason to return with the water. I glare at the defense while my wife weeps in the stand.

“Practiced enough for you?” I hiss at Drake. His brow furrows deeply.

“You’re not supposed to talk to me,” he says finitely.

“Why not?” I seethe. “Court’s not in session. There’s nobody here for your performance now!” No matter what he tries to get the jury to believe, he doesn’t believe that she practiced this reaction any more than I do. There’s no fear in his eyes, but he’s a bit dumbstruck. Sullivan continues to stare at the table in front of him like a good little puppy.

“Chris!” Al is in my line of sight almost immediately. “No,” he says, and that’s all he says.

“Come on, son,” Ray says, walking up next to him. “Let’s check on Annie.”

I’m seeing red. I’m seeing death and carnage and mayhem. I’m so sick of this shit. I’m so sick of my wife going through unnecessary stress and pain, and I’m really sick of Nevada and I’ve only been here for less than a day!

But I have to see about my wife.

I tear my gaze away from the not-so-cocky asshole at the defense table and go over to my wife. I move to the opening on the side of the witness stand to get closer to her, to speak to her before I try to touch her again.

“Baby?” I say, gently. “Baby, it’s me.” She throws her arms around me without looking, sobbing on my shoulder.

“I know, Baby,” I say, gently stroking her back. “I know.” She still says nothing but continues to weep.

“We can ask for a recess until tomorrow…” Larson says approaching us, his voice concerned. I’m just about to agree when my little waif squeaks in my ear.

“No… no… I have to do this… I can’t put it off anymore…” and she continues to weep. I blink the tears back in my eyes and look at Larson.

“She’s going to do it,” I say, just above a whisper. “I don’t know what’s going to happen if I get her out of this courtroom and she doesn’t do this today.”

That’s the truth. I really don’t know what’s going to happen. Larson examines me for a while, then nods.

“If you think that’s best,” he says, and he says it to me. I’m a little shocked. I lean in to my wife’s ear.

“Butterfly?” I say softly. She nods feverishly on my shoulder.

“She says, ‘yes,’” I tell him, doing everything I can not to fall apart myself. He nods and walks back to the prosecutor’s table. Jason comes back into the courtroom with two large bottles of water.

“Baby?” I say to my weeping wife. “We gotta pull it together now, okay?” I say. She nods, still sobbing. I pull her back from my shoulder and give her the water. She looks like hell. Her eyes are all puffy; her face looks like it’s going to explode.

Marilyn and Mandy return to the courtroom clinging to each other with Ray right behind them. They look like they’ve been through the wringer, too. I didn’t even know they had left. Ray was just standing next to me a minute ago… wasn’t he? Al looks like he may have shed a few tears himself, but James is clinging tightly to his hand. None of them have seen this video that I know of, and today, they got to see it on a wide screen.

“Ana?” Jason says softly, handing her the salt shaker. She shakes some in her palm and licks it out, letting it sit on her tongue for a while. Her crying has become sniffles, and I hand her my handkerchief to wipe her face. She dries the tears and her face is very red and swollen. Her eyes are so bloodshot that the whites don’t look like they’re there anymore. Jason removes his handkerchief from his pocket and douses it in water, some of it spilling onto the floor, and hands it to Butterfly. She covers her face in the cold, wet cloth and takes several deep breaths to compose herself.

The bailiffs come through with a garbage can and remove all the barf bags, including my wife’s, while she slowly and shakily pulls herself together. When she removes the handkerchief, some of her color has returned, but her eyes are still red, and she still looks like a train wreck.

“Do you want your purse?” I ask. “Your lip gloss?”

“I don’t care how I look,” she says, tying her long hair in a single knot behind her back, the shorter part falling over her shoulders. I stay at the stand with her while people begin to file back into the courtroom.

“Remember, if you feel like you can’t do this…”

“I can do it,” she interrupts me and clears her throat. “I can do it.” I nod and kiss her hand firmly.

“I love you,” I say, cupping her cheek. She swallows.

“I love you, too,” she replies, looking at me with bloodshot eyes. I wet the handkerchief again and wring it dry before giving it back to her with a fresh, dry one from my other pocket. I’m all out of handkerchiefs now. That’s a first.

I stay with her at the stand until the last possible minute when the bailiff tells me that I need to take a seat. I tear myself away from my wife and take my seat behind the prosecution. The same bailiff walks over to my wife and says something. She nods, and the bailiff walks to the door of the judge’s quarters. A few moments later…

“All rise…”

… And court is back in session.

“Mr. Larson, would you like to continue with this witness?” The judge says.

“Yes, your honor,” he says, and he walks over to Butterfly.

“The video says it all,” he says, with sympathy. She nods.

“That it does,” she replies.

“Can you tell the court which of the gentlemen in the video is Vincent Sullivan?”

“Objection, your honor,” Drake says. “With all due respect, the witness has no way of knowing which assailant is Vincent Sullivan if she’s face down on the ground.”

“If it please the court, your honor, I’m getting to how she can tell us which assailant is Vincent Sullivan,” Larson protests.

“I’ll allow it for now. Proceed, Mr. Larson.” He nods.

“Dr. Grey, did you know Vincent Sullivan?” Larson asks.

“I knew of him,” she says.

“How?”

“He was in my biology class. I saw him every day. He didn’t stand out or anything, but I saw him, so I knew who he was. He’s also right next to me in the yearbook. I’m Steele; he’s Sullivan.”

“The defense is right,” he says. “You were face down. How do you know who the people were who are behind you?”

“I watched that video more times than I would like, mostly because even though it happened to me, I still can’t believe it’s real. I still can’t believe that a bunch of kids who aren’t old enough to purchase cigarettes are capable of doing something this cruel.  Unless someone has given us another video of this event, I’ve watched that boy abuse me more times than I care to discuss.”

“So, once again, I ask you, can you tell the court which of the gentlemen in the video is Vincent Sullivan?”

“Vincent Sullivan is the guy that branded me the first two times,” she says clearly. “He’s the one that backed away when he heard that I might be dead.”

“Your honor, the state is entering into evidence exhibits 2 – 54.” Larson retrieves a folder and reveals several pictures of Vincent Sullivan on the night of the attack—stills pulled from the video along with his yearbook picture from 2001 and his current mugshots. Like Butterfly, the images haven’t changed much.

Larson also introduces pictures of a broken and battered Butterfly along with pictures of her grotesquely and freshly burned back, accompanied by pictures of the current scarring incorporated into the garden tattoo.

“Dr. Grey, I have to ask. These are some pretty graphic pictures. I can’t even see how someone could survive something like this and yet, you’ve indicated to me that you haven’t had any work done. I think we’d all like to know just to be able to effectively link you to this incident, how can this person that we see so brutally beaten turn out to be this person that we see today?” She sighs heavily, looks down, then raises her gaze back to Larson.

“I’m carrying permanent scars on my back, in my mind, and on my heart. I guess God saw fit not to have me wear them on my face, too.”


A/N: Criminal cases in Clark County normally initiate in the Las Vegas Justice Center and then move to the District Court. For aesthetic and creative reasons, I mention the District Court, but the descriptions of the courthouse and courtroom are the LVJC.

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

Pictures from the trip to Las Vegas can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/grey-continued-las-vegas/

The new question and answer thread is always open for questions about the story. be sure to read it and please adhere to the rules when asking questions. You can find it on the left, second from last on the menu or you can click HERE.

There has been yet another development where if you feel the need to talk to fellow readers about personal issues, you need a sounding board, or you want to vent about something in your life, please feel free to visit the link on the left in the menu entitled “Do You Need To Talk.” No subject is taboo. I just ask that you approach the link with respect for those who have concerns as well as those who respond. You can also get to the link by clicking HERE

You can join my mailing list on the “Contact Me” page. Just click the link and it will lead you to a form to join the list.

~~love and handcuffs

Raising Grey: Chapter 42—Unbreak My Heart

I have to admit that I was surprised to see so many people express a tone of disappointment in Ana’s feelings. I’ve had times and events in my life where I had to get up every day and push myself just to get to the next minute—where I felt like the world was just going to gobble me up, and I couldn’t talk about it. Talking about it gave it life and I was just trying to deal with it so that I could have the strength to open my eyes the next day. I really thought most people would be able to relate to that… to that feeling of, “My God! What else can go wrong in my life? The minute I sit down and get comfortable, something else happens.” I guess I’m the only one, or at least in very lean company. It’s sad that I appear to be one of the seemingly very few that can empathize with that, but I guess it’s a good thing that the vast majority apparently hasn’t had that experience.

So, this is my second to last prewritten chapter, but the Muse is finally stirring a bit, so I wouldn’t worry about the future.

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 42—Unbreak My Heart

ANASTASIA

I spend more time venting and crying with my friends, trying to release the anguish and the hopelessness I feel about the situation. I cry and cry and cry with my best friends holding me for I don’t even know how long. I’m exhausted when it’s all done and glad that Christian didn’t walk in on the display. I’m broken from the self-pity and mourning by the two-way coming to life and telling me that one or both of my children have stirred.

“I’ll go,” Val offers as she stands from the sofa.

“No, I’ll go,” I say, standing behind her and drying my eyes with my sleeve before Al gives me a handkerchief. Those two little bundles of love are the light and joy of my life. Right now, I don’t want to miss a moment with them… even if some evil monster is waiting in the wings to snatch them away from me.

“I’ll come with you, then,” she says with a smile before looking at Al.

“I’ll clean up and put the leftovers away,” he says, his brow furrowed as he examines me. “I’m worried about you, Jewel,” he adds. I smile sadly, my eyes tender from crying.

“I’ll live, Al,” I reply before leaving the parlor.

I’m glad that Keri and Gail didn’t get to the nursery before I did. I really didn’t want to enter into the room to inquiring minds about my obviously red and puffy eyes. We walk in and both children are unsettled. Val gestures me to Minnie’s crib while she goes to Mikey.

“Hey, little man,” I hear her say. “What’s all that noise?” She lifts him out of his crib and quickly checks his diaper before taking him to his changing table. I do the same with Minnie, cooing at her and taking comfort in her beautiful cherubic face with my blue eyes staring back at me under a mop of Christian’s red hair. I had noticed that just in the last month or so, both my children gained their eye color, and Minnie definitely has my eyes while Mikey sports his father’s under my deep mahogany hair. Minnie is happy to get that soiled diaper off her bottom and I let her skin air out a bit before putting another on her.

“Mmm,” Val says, “I love changing diapers.” I grimace as I look over at her and she laughs. “Not the dirty diaper part,” she says. “The part where they’re all clean and you get to use the powder and stuff and they have that new baby smell.” It causes me to chuckle and I welcome the warmth of laughter. As I’m closing Minnie’s onesie, Gail and Keri enter with fresh warmed bottles for the babies. Val throws a look at me and I keep my back to the door. Reading my actions, she takes over.

“Take a break, ladies,” she says, sweetly, heading them off at the door. “We’ve got this watch.”

“Oh,” Gail says in surprise. “You’re fine?”

“Sure,” Val says confidently, “but thanks for the vittles!” The ladies all laugh good-naturedly before Gail adds, “Okay, call us through the two-way if you need us.”

Not wanting to seem rude, I look slightly over my shoulder without revealing my face to them and say, “Thanks, guys,” as normally as I can and attempt to throw them off by concentrating on cooing at my baby. “Is that Mommy’s precious girl? Yes, you are…”

It works.

When Keri and Gail clear the room, I sigh in relief that I didn’t have to convince more people in my life that I’m okay when, in fact, I’m not.

“Thanks,” I say to Val, lifting Minnie into my arms and setting up shop in the window seat with my baby and a bottle since I just had wine. The window seat is what I’m accustomed to, now.

“Don’t mention it,” she says, sitting in Mikey’s rocker and testing his bottle before giving it to him. “Why don’t you come and sit in the rocker? It might help to break old habits.” I look down at my nursing daughter.

“Maybe next time,” I tell her. “I don’t want to disturb Young Miss when she’s eating,” I lie. The truth is that the seat gives me some form of familiarity and comfort now that I’m no longer watching the bridge. I just don’t feel like explaining that to everyone. It would be like telling them that the cliff where I fell is now my favorite spot. It was once, but now, I’ll just be reminded that I could have fallen to my death on a drunken binge.

Val distracts me from my own problems by telling me more about her and Elliot’s Caribbean cruise. I wasn’t surprised that the cruise took them to St. Maarten but not to Anguilla. The boat would probably be larger than the island. She told me about Harrison’s Cave and the beautiful 17th-Century plantation houses and it made me long for our trip to Anguilla. I definitely need a vacation right now to cleanse my body and soul of what’s going on in my life. We had to postpone our Italian vacation, probably until next year since we plan to stay for quite some time. I can’t lie, though. A cruise to anywhere for a week or two would be right up my alley right now.

There’s a tap at the door and Val and I look at each other. It’s one of the men, we already know, but Christian would have just walked in. So, it has to be Al or Elliot. Jason and Chuck would already know that their women are not in the nursery. The door opens and sure enough, there’s my best friend, but behind him is my husband—my tall, beautiful, muscular husband… the cause and cure for my distress all wrapped into one.

“Hey, ladies,” Al says. “How’s it going?” His bad attempt at nonchalance coupled with Christian’s deeply examining gaze on me lets me know that these two gentlemen have been talking… about me. Al is only concerned about me and I love him for it, so I sigh in resignation.

“Better,” I say, unable to hide the crack in my voice from my earlier crying. Christian is obviously uncomfortable looking at me, and I think it’s the window seat. It has definite connotations, and he and Val would much rather that I not sit in it. He stops at the rocker on his way over to me.

“How are you feeling, Val?” he says, placing his hand on her shoulder. She smiles up at him.

“Good,” she nods. “The vacation was fantastic—just what I needed.”

“I’m happy to hear that,” he says to her, genuinely. “You look very well.”

“Thank you,” she says, sincerely and they both turn their eyes to Mikey.

“Hey, Mikey,” Christian says. “Have you been taking good care of these ladies?” Mikey squirms and coos as if in response to his father’s question. Christian gently strokes his hair and turns his attention to me. He walks over to the window seat where Minnie and I sit, Minnie gazing dreamily up at me after being fed and changed. That look would make me move mountains for her. Christian looks intently at me before turning his attention to his daughter.

“Hey, Mouse,” he says, softly, stroking his daughter’s hair like he just did his son’s. He looks longingly at her for a moment before kissing her forehead. Then he gazes at me and does the same, stroking my cheeks where tears stained earlier. He examines me wordlessly before saying, “Al, can you take over? I’d like to talk to my wife.”

“Absolutely,” Al says. “Give me that bundle of pinkness!”

“Oh, no,” Val chides. “You take our godson. I want a little time with our goddaughter. I haven’t seen them in a month!”

“Fine by me,” Al says, relieving Val of Mikey before she comes over and takes Minnie from my arms. I ache a bit when she leaves my grasp but follow Christian out of the room nonetheless as he leads me by the hand. When we get to the hallway and he closes the door, he embraces me solidly and kisses me deeply, catching me totally by surprise. I gasp at the longing, giving nature of the kiss, my hands falling lazily at my sides as his hand flattens against my back, pressing me firmly into his body. My head lulls back and I let him have my lips, my mouth, my tongue—feeding me while he feasts on my kisses. I don’t know if I’m breathing or not, but I bask in the warmth and safety of his arms, the tenderness yet firmness and possessiveness of his kiss… giving and taking at the same time. When our lips part, I can feel the breath between us. I keep my eyes closed to commit the moment to memory—for cold nights when…

“You know how much I love you, don’t you?” he says, his lips only brushing mine.

“Yes,” I breathe, my eyes still closed, drunk and a bit wobbly from his kiss and his presence.

“Good,” he breathes, taking my lips again.

After an intense, but quick impromptu make-out session in the hallway, Christian leads me to our room. I moved back in a few days ago, realizing that it didn’t really make much sense to sleep in the guest room anymore. I still have problems getting to sleep, but it’s getting better. It’s especially easy when Christian finds that I can’t rest and finds some way to worship my body until I’m tuckered out. I can really see that he’s trying. I wish I could just settle into the comfort.

Instead of stopping at the bedroom, he leads me right into my bathroom and lifts me up onto the marble vanity. He turns on the cold water and retrieves a clean washcloth. After wetting the washcloth and wringing most of the water out of it, he stands in front of me, lifts my chin and begins to sponge my cheeks.

Can’t hide anything from Mr. Grey.

I close my eyes and the cool cloth moves to my eyelids. The relief on the swollen orbs is immediate. I hear him moistening the cloth again and this time, he holds my head all the way back and places a compress over my eyes. A few moments later, a second cloth is sponging my cheeks, my jaw, and my neck again.

“Your cheeks are still tear-stained,” he says softly, “and your eyes are red and puffy. You look tired.” I don’t respond. I just sit on the vanity and let the protector and caregiver have his way, savoring these moments and committing them to my mental Rolodex. He let me sit there for several minutes—or at least it felt that way—replacing the compress one time, and letting the cold water soothe the ache from my eyes as he gently sponges my face with the other washcloth. He stops at my lips and sponges them gently. He’s now caressing my lips with his fingertips and the cloth and my breath catches. He adds gentle kisses to the mix and I melt at the sensation. My senses are all hyper-focused on my lips and his lips and his fingers when his mouth softly covers mine again, molding gently into them and against them.

Somehow, I feel this is not enough for him.

His arms move to my waist then quickly up my body, lifting my arms and placing them demanding over his shoulders. I immediately take my cue and wrap my arms around his neck, thrusting my hands into his hair. He gasps into my mouth and wraps his arms around me again, curling his body around mine while taking and giving feverish kisses. My body is alight again as he holds me and kisses me, melding into me and devouring me and I wrap my legs around his hips. He pulls my shirt out of my jeans and caresses the skin on my stomach and back.

My back… the garden.

I blaze like fresh, new embers as my body fires with arousal. My breath quickens and his tongue leisurely and sensuously explores my mouth until I feel that I can’t take it anymore. He pulls back from me and gazes into my eyes. Seeing whatever it is that he needs to see, he lifts me from the vanity, my body still wrapped around him, and takes me to our bed.

Lying me down on my back, he removes my hands from his neck and places them on the bed, holding them down in both of his while he kisses me. I can barely stand it; I’m suddenly so goddamn needy again. His lips travel from my lips to my neck while his hands slide down my arms to the buttons at my breast. I leave my hands by the side of my head. I keep my eyes closed as his lips follow his fingers, unbuttoning my shirt, down my breast, my torso, my belly.

Christian…

That familiar yearning swells up in me and I can hardly breathe. I want him to make it right—take away this feeling of fear and sadness… make it like it once was between us… please, make it like it was…

He unhooks the clasp of my bra between my breasts and pushes the cups aside, gently cupping my breasts while he kisses the mounds. His tenderness is driving me mad. I’m almost dysfunctional with need.

He kisses along the waistband of my jeans as he opens the button and unzips my pants, kissing along the waistband of the hip-hugger panties underneath. I bite my lip to keep from making a sound, taking deep breaths to control my passion and my body. There’s a bit of movement on the bed, and then he pushes his hands into my jeans, grasping the waistband and pulling them and my panties off at the same time, pushing my ballet flats off my feet before my pants and underwear pass my ankles.

There’s a pause for a few moments, but when he climbs back up to me, I feel his skin against mine—his whole body. He’s naked. I feel his erection against my thigh as he lifts me from the bed, kissing me deliciously while pushing my bra and shirt off my shoulders. He lays me back on the bed, his face never more than a breath from mine. He kisses me again as his hands run down my body, caressing my sides and hips until he reaches my thighs.

He pulls them up, roughly opening me to him, his rock-hard erection pressing into my stomach. God, I want him so badly. I need to feel him, need to put another moment in the reservoir—another cherished time… please… hurry.

He slides his arms under mine until he’s cupping my shoulders in either hand, then he nestles his erection between my legs, between my lips. God, he feels so good. I throw my head back as his lips find the valley of my breasts and he grinds the length of his shaft up and down along my lips, my labia, my clit…

Oh, my God… Oh, my God, this is torture.

Neither of us says anything or makes a sound. He just continues to drag his length up and down as he kisses wherever his mouth can reach. When he clamps down on a nipple, then teases it with his tongue, I feel my orgasm building, knocking at the door in no time flat. Just as I think it’s about to blow, he stops and rises off of me a bit. He looks hungrily into my eyes and pushes my legs open farther with his body. Simultaneously, he takes both of my hands and plants them above my head, my arms bent with his fingers entwined in mine, while raising his hips to position the head of his long hard cock at my vaginal opening.

He pauses for a minute, holding my gaze while his hips are suspended in the air. Without warning, he thrusts all the way into me, balls deep, pulling my hands down at the same time for leverage. A searing pain rips through me like I’m losing my virginity all over again, but it’s quickly replaced with the pleasure that left my loins only moments ago. He trembles at the first drive into me, both of us still managing to remain silent through what was obviously a very powerful feeling in our nether-regions. Three strokes later and I’m gasping through my orgasm as Christian pushes slowly and deeply into me, kissing my cheek, my neck, the corners of my mouth.

I’m whimpering out the aftershocks as he settles his weight onto me and begins to make love to me, holding my hands down and pushing into me, his full body lying over mine, his skin rubbing against me as if he needs as much of it to touch as possible. His mouth covers mine and he bestows upon me the most delicious, succulent kisses my soul can take. I’m lost in him and he’s owning me, pushing himself into me—mind, body, and soul. I relish in the feeling, absorbing every stroke and every emotion—the hot, hardness of his dick; the meticulous concentration in his stroke; the possessiveness of him holding my hands down; the luscious kisses that give and take from my lips. It’s only minutes after the first orgasm that the second one begins to creep into my loins. The onslaught of sensations overwhelms my senses and my second orgasm burns against his cock once more, this time leaving lots of juices to coat his erection.

He finally releases my lips and I can feel his gaze on me even though my eyes are closed.

Open your eyes.

I think I heard it, but I’m not sure. Nonetheless, I open my eyes, my gaze no doubt swimming in satisfaction from my prior two orgasms.

You’re so beautiful.

Again, not sure if I heard it, but I see it in his eyes and feel it in his delicious grind. I feel myself rising again and wonder how many times I can come in quick succession. God, it feels so good, and this one decides to give lubrication before it strikes.

“Oh, God, baby,” he says softly in my ear, “your so wet… so hungry for me…”

“Yes, Christian,” I breathe as my third orgasm quickly creeps up on me, “only you.” He raises his eyes to me, never losing his rhythm.

“Say it again,” he whispers.

“Yes… Christian…” I gasp as the feeling crawls through my thighs and up my pelvis, “only you.”

“Again… please…” His stroke deepens, and my pelvis threatens to implode. I throw my head back in sweet agony as it approaches quickly… almost… almost…

“Only… Christian… only you…” He groans, sweet and deep, his face buried in my neck, pushing me so high, so deep, my God…

“Please…” he beseeches me deep from his chest, “… again!”

I can’t withstand it any more.

“Ho… ho…” I try to speak as my third orgasm crashes down on me. I grip his fingers tight to force the words out of my mouth. “Ho… honly… y-you…Christian… only… only you… only you!” I cry out as my orgasm rips through me again, bringing passion and relief that I didn’t feel with the first two. My back arches and my hands tighten as I helplessly repeat the last two words through a climax blasting through my extremities and leaving me helpless to its wrath.

“Jesus!” he bites out as I feel him stiffen and empty hard, throbbing, and thick into me. His teeth grit and the same noise comes from his throat as he presses hard into me, unable to move through his paralyzing orgasm. He squeezes my hands until it feels like the blood flow stops and I lay there, allowing him to use me as the vessel that he needs right now and savoring every moment of it—his weight pressing down on me; his hands painfully gripping mine; his breath caught and held in his chest as his body is pulled taut, stretched like a rubber band and helpless until his passion releases him.

“Jesus… Jesus, Jesus…” he gasps as the orgasm finally releases his muscles. He showers my neck with kisses as he catches his breath, his cock still throbbing inside me, my core still throbbing around him.

“I didn’t…” he begins as he gently massages my hands. “Did I…?”

“No, no,” I silence him as he continues to catch his breath. He still kisses me as he moves to roll me on top of him.

“No, please,” I beg, wanting to feel his weight on me a little longer. He looks down into my eyes and I gaze back at him, beseeching him not to move. He lies back down on top of me, one hand cradling my cheek, the other still holding my hand over my head while he kisses my exposed cheek softly.

“And only you, my love,” he says softly, between kisses. “Only ever you…”

*-*

“This wasn’t my intention when I pulled you away from our children,” he says, caressing my stomach gently in our post-orgasmic haze.

“No?” I say, turning my gaze to him. He shakes his head.

“I really did want to talk… really do,” he replies, “but I saw you in the window and at first, I just wanted to get you out of there. Then, when the light hit your face, I knew that you had been crying. Al told me that you were upset, and he told me why, but he didn’t tell me that you were crying. I just wanted to wash your face and get rid of the puffiness in your eyes… but most of all, I just don’t want you to cry anymore.”

That’s not likely, dear. The fates are even using you against me right now. That’s why I’m internalizing every good moment, every precious and tender moment, every sensual moment, so that I don’t lose my mind when they decide to attack again.

“Jason and Gail want to have another… session with us, if you’re up to it. They were waiting in the den when I came to get you. They’re most likely off doing something else by now. Do you want to talk or would you rather not?” I sigh. Again, I know he means well, but right now, I don’t see that talking will help me.

“Sure,” I concede, wanting to appease him. I move to get up and he stops me.

“Not yet,” he says. “Just a few more minutes.” Fine by me.

“Okay,” I say softly, relaxing into his touch.

As agreed, a few minutes later, we rise and get back into our clothes. He takes me by the hand and leads me to the elevator. He stands behind me with his arms protectively wrapped around me while we ride to the ground floor. We go to his den, intent on calling Gail and Jason, only to find them tangled in each other’s arms, kissing passionately on the sofa. Though they are fully dressed, the distinct smell of sex hangs in the air. Christian stands there frowning for a moment and I’m in stunned awe. They didn’t even hear us come in. Christian clears his throat and although Gail jumps a bit, Jason just looks over at Christian.

“You better not have fucked on my piano,” he says, leading me into the room and examining his piano for—I don’t know, ass marks?

“No, we didn’t fuck on your precious piano,” Jason says. Gail hides her face while I stifle a laugh. “I won’t bother asking what took you so long. You look fresh as a bunny.”

“You should talk,” Christian says, satisfied that there was no coitus on his baby grand. “Don’t fuck in my den, Jason.”

You should talk,” Jason retorts. “Is there any room in this house you haven’t fucked in?”

“Yes, there is, and that’s beside the point,” Christian replies. “I fuck in my den. You don’t fuck in my den!”

“Okay, boys, that’s enough,” Gail says, after her face has turned fifty shades of red from pastel to crimson. “We got in a quickie while we were waiting we’re sorry it won’t happen again!” She spit it all out in one breath without raising her eyes to me or Christian and I’m fighting with all my might not to break out in hilarious laughter. I’m immune to this. Among other things, last year, I walked right in on these Neanderthals settling a bet on whether or not Christian and I were upstairs fucking. I remember leaving Chuck with a visual he’ll never forget. I also won’t embarrass her with the time that I was shoved under Christian’s desk pleasuring him when Jason walked in unannounced and it was my disembodied voice that convinced him to leave. I’m not modest about our sex life, but apparently, Gail is modest about hers.

“You should take a page from your wife’s book about humility, Mr. Taylor,” Christian says. “Thank you, Gail. It’s quite alright. Butterfly and I did take a while. We apologize.” She nods quickly, obviously anxious to change the topic. “As requested, we are here, though a bit detained.”

Gail straightens her clothes and sits up on the sofa. Jason sits up, too, and zeroes right in on me.

“You don’t talk much anymore, Your Highness,” he says, examining me. “Are you afraid that you’ll say too much?”

I shrug. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t talking. I just don’t have much to say.

“I… uh, it’s not intentional. I just don’t have much to say.”

“That’s not the Ana I know,” he says. “The Ana I knew before this whole mess was outspoken and had a lot to say. You’ve turned into a bit of a mute and you’ve missed four appointments with your therapist.” My eyes widen, and I glare at him.

“Are you keeping tabs on me?” I accuse. He looks at me with a surprised, horrified look on his face.

“Um, yah, that’s my job!” he retorts. “I knew what you were doing even when we weren’t here.” He gestures to himself. “Head of personal security? Everybody reports to me? Chuck, Ben, Chance, Rebe, Tate, Lurch… they all report to me?” He’s saying this waiting for me to catch the hint on how ridiculous my question was, which I do… I shrug and shake my head, murmuring my apologies.

“Accepted, but you still haven’t answered my question,” he says. “You haven’t seen Ace and you haven’t seen Dr. Baker,” he points an accusing finger at Christian. “What’s going on?” I turn my gaze to Christian. He hasn’t seen Dr. Baker?

“I see Dr. Baker on an as-needed basis, not regularly,” he defends.

“You don’t think it’s needed?” he asks.

“She can’t help me in terms of my marriage,” he protests. “Butterfly feels that she has a completely distorted view of what’s going on with her and that affects what advice she can give me about our relationship.”

“But what about what’s going on with you?” Jason asks him. Christian frowns.

“What do you mean?” he retorts.

“You thought your wife was cheating on you. You cut her off and ran away to the other side of the world without giving her the chance to explain. You don’t think that’s a problem on your part, like for instance, your trust issues? Your ability to give the woman you love the benefit of the doubt? Being able to control your anger reflex and ‘snap’ response?”

“I’m dealing with those things,” he says, running his hands through his hair. “I admitted that it was the wrong thing to do…”

“But it doesn’t stop it from happening again,” Jason says, interrupting his excuse. I hold my head down and wait for him to tear into me. I didn’t have to wait long.

“And you,” he begins. Here it goes. “You were seeing your therapist weekly before any of this happened. You shocked him so much that he showed up at the door! What gives?” I shrug again, noncommittal.

“I haven’t found the words,” I say, honestly. “I’d be wasting his time and mine.”

“So, you’re just going to sit here and let this thing tear you apart day by day where we can all see it,” he says. “You think I’m the only one who’s noticed that you’ve changed? You are a force of nature, Ana. You have the ability to move mountains with the flap of your little Butterfly wings, but lately, you’ve been as mute as a church mouse and as affective as a drizzle. You’re not talking to anyone, not even your therapist, and you as a mental health professional don’t see this as a problem?”

I don’t know how to answer him. The feelings that I have right now, nobody can fix, and talking about them just lays them out on plane for everyone to see and makes me feel like shit. When I don’t answer, Jason turns back to Christian.

“You say that you don’t need your therapist,” he begins. “What do you say about her not seeing hers? Is everything honky-dory between you guys?”

“I wouldn’t say honky-dory,” Christian admits. “I know she’s holding something back.”

Holding something back… you all want me to release? Fine, I’ll release…


CHRISTIAN

“Things aren’t terrible, but I can still feel a little distance between us,” I say honestly.

“Ana?” Jason prods, “What do you say to that?” She doesn’t raise her eyes.

“I would never want to leave him or anything like that, but…” She trails off.

But? There’s a but?

“But what, Ana?” Gail presses. “You have to be honest or you’ll never move forward.” She sighs and drops her head.

“I’m scared,” she says, softly, barely audible. “I’m afraid that as soon as I let my guard down and try to be happy, something horrible is going to happen. I never would have thought for a moment that something like this would happen between my husband and me. I thought our bond was unbreakable and unshakeable and could withstand anything. I thought that no matter what, no one would ever come between us—that when and if that crucial moment ever presented itself, we would both know that there was no room for anyone else and there was no way that someone would be able to work their way into our space. But when the time did come, I was wrong…”

“How were you wrong?” Jason asks. “That someone did work their way into your space?”

“No,” she says. “Liam never worked his way into our space. My eyes may have been stricken with what I saw, but that man never made it to my heart. Hell, he barely made it to my mind until he was in my sight or unless I was pissed about his presence. He never stood a chance. There was no room for him. So, what? He’s attractive. He’s not the first attractive man I’ve ever seen, and he won’t be the last. Have you met my therapist? My best friend’s husband? My brother-in-law? All attractive men that made me do a double-take when I first met them, but I never ended up in their arms or in their beds.

“When that man made a move on me, I stopped him. I did not see my husband and I stopped him. I didn’t have my arms around him pulling him in for a kiss—I stopped him. And the reward I got was that my husband left me for two and a half weeks and didn’t speak to me. The truth is that I can beat myself over the head for what I could have done differently over and over again, but it won’t mean anything. It won’t do anything. I didn’t meet this man at a hotel or even make a date for dinner. He invited me out to lunch and I turned him down for just this reason… for the speculation it could have caused. I can pick this situation apart more than I already have, and you know what I’ll get from it? The same thing that I already got…

“Don’t step wrong, Ana.
“Look straight ahead, Ana. Don’t look left or right…
“Don’t get comfortable, Ana. The moment you do, all hell is going to break loose.”

“You’re sounding a bit like the martyr, Ana,” Jason says. Butterfly laughs ironically and does a disbelieving nod.

“Of course, I do,” she says, defeat and resignation lacing her voice.

“Don’t discount her feelings, Jason,” Gail defends. “She has a right to her feelings.” Jason turns to look at his wife and back at Butterfly.

“You’re right,” he says. “I’m sorry. Maybe you can help me understand what it is that you’re feeling.” That’s pretty insightful. Butterfly looks up at him with a sad smile.

“I can understand why you feel that way, because if I wasn’t sitting in this body—in this life and mind, experiencing this shit first hand—I would feel the same way. This is one of the reasons why I don’t want to talk about it… none of it. It won’t make a difference.”

“Please, Ana,” Gail presses. “Tell us.” Butterfly shakes her head.

“Every time I got comfortable, something happened,” she says, still smiling. “Every time I thought I was going to be happy and I could sit back and take a breath and relax, something happened. Every single time! I’m a walking tragedy,” she says with a laugh. I don’t see what’s funny, but I think she may be going a little hysterical.

“It can’t be every time, Ana,” Jason protests. She laughs again, this time, with tears threatening her eyes.

“No?” she says, still sporting a wide smile and threatening to cry at the same time. “Let’s review, shall we?

“Right when I thought my mom and dad were happy, my mom suddenly became dissatisfied and left my dad. It only got worse—she ripped us apart deliberately, so set on hurting him for not being what she thought he should be that she didn’t care that she was destroying me, too.

“I was miserable at first, but I coped with it until I was able to settle comfortably into obscurity. Then what happens? The most popular boy in school pays attention to me and I was foolish enough to believe that he liked me… until he raped me. We all know how that turned out.

“Yes, I wanted to die, but I didn’t. Then Daddy came and got me, took me away from the horrible nightmare that I was living and nursed me back to health for a few months. I was right at the promise of tranquility—it was right there in arm’s reach—and they came and snatched me back to hell.

“I finally escape—finally escape—come back to Washington and start my life back over again… from scratch… all on my own. During that time, I meet this guy. He treats me like a princess. The cutest, most considerate guy I had met to that point and what happens? He turns out to be the goddamn spawn of Satan! My already shredded heart was put through such hell that it took years—years—for me to let anybody near me.

“Enter Christian Grey. After a tumultuous beginning, we fall in love only for me to find out that he has a psycho, stalker, pedophile ex-lover and—oh, yeah, Satan’s spawn is hanging in the bleachers waiting for his chance to attack!

“Crazy pedophile wreaking total havoc on our relationship and me and Mr. Grey have a brief falling out. The moment I come to my senses about the cause of the fallout, Satan’s Spawn kidnaps me and his fucking psycho sidekick damn near beats me half to death while I’m cuffed to a bed.

“I’m rescued! Yay, right? Only we go to Anguilla and shit happens where I lose my mind there, too—more than once!

“So, we get back and announce our relationship to the world, and the crazy blonde pedophile continues to wreak total fucking havoc on our lives for months… restraining orders; crashing my father’s wedding; kissing my boyfriend; trying to kill Jason; trying to kill Christian; trying to kill me…”

This is playing out like a goddamn Greek tragedy. If I hadn’t been present for most of it, I’d swear she was exaggerating.

“In between there somehow, I apparently mistakenly thought my wedding was called off and escaped to Montana, rethinking my entire purpose in life, only to return to the whole aforementioned murder-death-kill scenario.

“Oh, and let’s not forget Mommie Dearest!”

Yes, let’s not forget her.

“Once we finally do get married, halfway through our honeymoon, Satan’s Spawn pulls a hole card and we have to come back and I discover the most joyous revelation of my life after vomiting on the prosecuting attorney and passing out on the goddamn stand.”

At least she didn’t mention me having a spy at her bachelorette party.

“Then comes the hacker and the fundraiser fiasco, and immediately after we put those things to rest, I get T-boned by a fucking ex-sub who almost kills me and Chuck! Nearly a year later, I still don’t have all my memories back.

“After more hiccups than I care to count, I finally bring two healthy babies into the world, a joyous occasion that was overshadowed a few months later by Val’s tumor and Pop’s unfortunate passing—not things that directly happened to me, but deserve inclusion due to the fact that a) when Pops’ died, my husband turned into an emotional infant and locked me out of the bedroom that we shared, b) I sat for days wondering if my best girlfriend was going to die after we had treated each other like shit for months and c) they were both cause to postpone our Italian vacation.

“A few months later, I find that all my hard work for Helping Hands is being questioned by a spiteful, vindictive bitch with an ax to grind and then, the last thing… the very last thing I ever thought could happen happened! I feared that maybe one day, my husband would seek something that I wouldn’t be able to give him and might look for it in the company of another, but I never, ever thought that another man would come between us. It was never on my radar, not even in the furthest recesses of my mind. And then…” She holds her head down and shrugs, shaking her head and still chuckling sadly.

“I know I’ve forgotten something, but I think you get the idea,” she adds, still laughing tragically. “I. Am a walking. Fucking. Tragedy. I’m the goddamn damsel that’s always getting tied to the fucking railroad tracks in those badly made, corny, black-and-white silent films. And what a horrible thing to happen—being tied to the railroad tracks and seeing your demise coming at you full speed and hoping and praying that someone’s going to save you because you can’t save yourself. And trust me, the train has run me over more times than I’ve been rescued, yet there I am… dismembered on the railroad tracks, trying to put myself back together again. Those attacks and accidents weren’t even merciful enough to kill me… just scar me forever—physically, mentally, and emotionally—then set me back in this ragtag, patchworked body with my ragtag patchworked heart and my ragtag patchworked mind to fight another day.”

She laughs again, but by now, tears are streaming nonstop down her cheeks. She shakes her head and drops it before she adds, “For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”

Now she’s quoting scriptures? This is really getting bad.

“Ana, can’t you see that this is exactly why you need to talk to Ace?” Gail tells her, leaning in like it’s a one-on-one conversation. “You can’t stop bad things from happening. You might be right, the fates may be cruel, and they may be waiting for things to get great so that they can drop another test on you, but you can’t spend your life waiting for that. You can’t do that to yourself… or your children. What kind of freedoms can they have if you’re always waiting for them to get run over by a bus?”

Butterfly sighs, now fully weeping while listening to Gail.

“I lived in mourning for many years after God gave me a wonderful man and then decided to take him back. We have no children and now, I can’t bear any children of my own. Lo, and behold, another wonderful man happened into my life.” She looks over at Jason.

“He was the worse person for me,” she laughs. “We work together; he has a dangerous job… but those damn fates…” She looks back down at her hands before she raises her eyes to Butterfly.

“He was almost killed, and I thought that destiny was going to punish me again, but he wasn’t. He came back to me and even though it happened in a pretty cruel way, he even brought me a daughter.”

Jason’s gaze softens, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen more love in his eyes… except on their wedding day in Anguilla.

“And then you welcomed me into your family—even against the wishes of my employer…” I drop my head and twist my lips. She’s right. I didn’t want to blur any lines between me and my staff, but Butterfly had different plans from the very beginning. “…And you had two beautiful babies, and I get to help raise them. So, I didn’t get to bear any children of my own, but I sure as hell have a family.

“One thing that I learned from losing my Douglas and living in mourning for all those years before I found my Jason, gained a beautiful daughter, and a beautiful family is that yes, bad times are always going to happen for as long as you’re alive. But think about it really hard… The bad times don’t follow the good times. The good times follow the bad.”

Butterfly raises her eyes to Gail, her lip trembling. She swallows hard.

“I want to believe that so badly,” she says. “It would make all of this so much easier to bear… I just can’t see how to get past this huge, crashing abyss I feel in my soul.”

“I just want us to get back to being us,” I say, disappointed, “but… from what you’re saying, that might not happen.” She shrugs, smiling sadly.

“I love you too much to lie to you,” she confesses. “Give it time. You never know. Maybe I’ll see what Gail is saying. I’ll go back to Ace and maybe… maybe I’ll get comfortable enough to forget this feeling of impending doom.”

It’s not until this moment that I fully realize what my leaving really did to her. It shook her foundation in everything she believed in. Maybe there was too much of her inner security wrapped up in me, but didn’t I make it that way? Didn’t I make her the most important thing in my life, bumping heads with her several times on matters of her security, safety, and well-being? I’m Christian Grey—self-proclaimed possessive and controlling asshole. I must have everything important to me encased in this protective bubble so that I know that it’s safe. She was in that bubble—figuratively and literally—and that’s what she became accustomed to. I took care of her life, her body, and her heart, and she expected me to keep doing that…

And then, one day, I didn’t.

I left her out there in the elements without any shelter and she had to fend for herself against the foul weather. As a result, she got a really good look at just how bad the hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, typhoons, blizzards, avalanches, sandstorms, wind and hail could really be. Every bad thing that ever happened to her all came back at     once and all the progress that she had made in all of her therapy sessions went down the drain. A lot, if not all, of her safety and progress was directly linked to me and I took it away in one fell swoop…

I was the one who opened the door to finally finding out what happened in Green Valley.

I was the one who swooped in with my whirly-bird and rescued her from the clutches of the bad guys.

I was the one who held her as she cried when she cut ties with her mother.

I was the one who stood by her side and fought her friends when she was catatonic for several days.

I was the one who was there for twelve days when she was in a coma and waiting when she woke up, even though she didn’t know who I was.

Then, she turned around looking for that safety net at a very crucial moment in our relationship, and I wasn’t there… I was gone… and she fell, and she might still be falling.

I’ll make it up to you, baby. I swear I will.

“I guess I just have to work harder at showing you that everything’s not impending doom,” I say, matter-of-factly, “at making sure that you know that I realize that I wasn’t there when you fell and I’m really sorry for that; letting you know that I know I’ve shaken your trust to the very core and it may take me the rest of my life to get it back, but I’ll fight that long if it means that in the end, you know that I’ll never let you fall again. I don’t care how long it takes… I love you and I want you to trust me again, trust us again, trust life and love again. I’ll do any and everything to restore that trust. It may take a really long time, but I don’t care. You won’t have to forget that impending doom, because I’m going to chase it away. I’m going to spend every day of my life chasing it away until you trust again. I made a horrible mistake, Anastasia. I ran when I should have listened. As a result, everything we’ve built has been destroyed. Please, forgive me. Please, please, forgive me.”

“Not… everything,” she says, her voice small. I raise my eyes to look at her. “I still love you… with all my heart…”

“But you don’t trust me,” I say. “That is everything, but I’m not giving up hope. I’ll do everything I can to make you trust me again.”

I suddenly ache inside. That pull—that connection that we’ve always had suddenly feels stronger than it ever has, and I feel that if she doesn’t come to me now, I just may pass out. She leaps from her seat and launches herself into my arms. She’s as light as a feather and as heavy as lead at the same time and it feels like the wind has been knocked out of me as I hold her to me with all the inner strength I can muster.

“I don’t know…” her small voice begins, her face buried in my neck.

“Sssh,” I soothe, rubbing her back and holding her close to me. “I do…”

*-*

I’m sitting at the breakfast bar resting my face in my hands and watching Gail put the finishing touches on an exquisite homemade seven-layer German chocolate cake. Only moments after our emotionally taxing discussion, Butterfly excused herself and went to take a nap before dinner. I immediately felt that hopeless feeling again and only wanted to make things right in her life… when I suddenly made a horrendous discovery.

“Today is Butterfly’s birthday,” I lament right after she leaves the den. Gail and Jason look at each other and back at me.

“Fuck! It is,” Jason responds, slapping his hand to his forehead. “We fucking forgot. How could we fucking forget?”

“Look at everything that’s been going on,” Gail interjects. “My birthday would be the last thing I would be thinking about in the midst of all this shit!”

“I’ll bet that’s not how Butterfly feels,” I say, pulling out my phone to see if Al is still in the house.

“Yep,” he says when he answers the phone.

“Today is Butterfly’s birthday,” I say into the phone.

“Yep,” he says, with no surprise. I roll my eyes.

“You didn’t think to remind me of this when we talked?” The line is silent.

“Are you serious?” he asks. “Are you fucking kidding me? You’re her goddamn husband and you forgot her fucking birthday? Now you wanna blame me? Seriously?” Oh, shit, I’ve pissed the man off.

 “Look, I’m sorry. There’s a lot going on, okay?” I apologize.

“No shit, Sherlock,” he replies.

“Did she mention anything while you all were visiting?”

“Not a word,” he says. “I think it’s the furthest thing from her mind.” Like Gail said.

“Are you still here?” I ask.

“Yes, but she just went up to bed. I think she’s down for the night…”

“No, she’s not. She’s taking a nap. Come to my den. I need your help…”

I used to sit in the kitchen and watch my mother like this on those few occasions when she would make something special. She was a very busy doctor and she didn’t get to cook much until we got older. She spent as much time with us as possible when we were kids instead of in the kitchen. She’s the reason that I don’t want my children raised solely by nannies. My mom was the best, and even though I may not have acted like she was the world to me, she really was. There was this one time when she made this chocolate cake for me from scratch. It was just for me, and I remember how special she made me feel making that cake just for me…

“I need you to do me a huge favor and I don’t want you to laugh at me.” Gail’s eyes widen as she puts the cake spatula down on the counter and turns her attention to me.

“Okay,” she says, waiting for my request. I sigh heavily and spit it out.

“I want you to teach me how to cook a nice meal for my wife,” I say finally. “I’m not trying to be a master chef. I just want to cook her a nice meal and I’m afraid that if I try to do it alone, I’ll burn the house down.”

I raise my head to look at her and she’s glaring at me like she’s just seen a ghost. I try to understand that this is a strange request but give me a fucking break here. I’m trying to do something nice for the woman I love.

“You want to cook?” she finally says, astonished. I nod.

“Yes,” I reply, already afraid that this will be an impossible task. Gail sighs.

“It takes patience, Christian,” she says. “You’re not a very patient man.”

“I at least want to try,” I say. “I just want to do something nice for her. I buy her shit all the time. This will be different, something I can do myself. It doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal—I know that would take forever, but something nice… and edible.” A small smile plays with Gail’s lips.

“We’ll try,” she says. “When do you want to do this? You all are always home at the same time, unless you don’t care if she knows.”

“No, it has to be a surprise,” I tell her. She nods.

“Sophie has been asking to learn to cook a few dishes. You’re in luck, we’ve only just started. I can kill two birds with one stone if you don’t mind a teenager in your cooking class.” I sigh again. I don’t care who’s in the cooking class as long as she agrees to help me… and Butterfly doesn’t find out.

“Thank you,” I breathe. “I’ll come home early, when Sophie is getting off school. We’ll work out some form of communication so that I’ll know if Butterfly is at home…”

Just like that, Gail becomes my co-conspirator.

Having unlimited resources affords you the luxury of not only being able to put together a birthday party in only two hours, but also to be able to secure the perfect gift that’s not only thoughtful and somewhat extravagant to the average person, but also utterly necessary. As luck would have it—bad luck, that is—I’m the only person in the inner sanctum that forgot it was Butterfly’s birthday. Everyone else had presents at the ready and was only looking for a good time to “engage,” so to speak. So, when Al activated the contingency and managed to get Butterfly’s closest friends to the Crossing on short notice, everyone came bearing gifts. Mine is an Australian cruise that we’ll be taking in December, no excuses or postponing.

At 7pm sharp, I send Val to rouse my Butterfly from her slumber and bring her to the dining room. As much as I’ve promised that birthdays will no longer be a day of angst for my wife, this one was nearly ruined again—this time, because of me. Three birthdays this woman has spent with me and not one of them have gone off without a hitch. Oy vey!

After fifteen minutes have passed and still no sign of my wife, I begin to worry until I see a beautiful vision in sunshine yellow bend the corner around one of the large columns.

“Surprise!” everyone yells. The gathering is small, not everyone that I would have hoped but enough of our closest friends and family.

“Wha…?” Butterfly is stunned. An impromptu Food and Libations with the Scooby Gang and plus ones, the extended family from the Crossing, and my parents made it, too. A small table is set up with the gifts and the German Chocolate cake made by Gail and decorated with large chocolate flowers and the words “Happy Birthday Mommy.” The twins sleep in their Pack-n-Plays on either side of the table, guarding the cake and gifts from possible interlopers. Little Mindy occasionally peeks into the Pack-n-Plays under her mother’s watchful eye. Little Harry had just been put down to sleep and as I am told, has been battling a small cold. So, even though Ray is here, Mandy and Ana’s little brother couldn’t make it.

“I couldn’t let her come down when she first awoke,” Val apologizes. “She looked like she had been attacked by wolves. She never would have forgiven me.” I walk over to my sweet, stunned bride and put my hands on her forearms.

“I want to say that we had this elaborate plan, but we didn’t. We all just wanted you to know how much we love you.” She looks around the table at her friends and the family we could gather before she throws her arms around me and buries her face in my neck.

“I totally forgot,” she breathes in soft sobs. “I love you, too.”

*-*

She had a wonderful time. She spent the evening listening to what was going on in everyone else’s life since it was already known that the last month of her life had been a complete disaster. Having spent most of the summer taking care of Val, then being there for me and my family when Pops died, followed almost immediately by Mia’s wedding then yet another event that we’ll come up with some horrible nickname for, there hasn’t been any time to connect with her friends on the frivolous and fun level that friends should.

After two years together, Marilyn and Gary have decided to move in together. There are still no wedding bells on the near horizon, but they’re both so busy that they don’t spend nights apart at all and, according to them, it makes no sense to pay rent in two places when they most often only stay in one.

So… Courtney and Vickie are a real-life couple. Yeah, that’s news to me. I wouldn’t have been surprised that they were fucking around, but a couple… yeah, I’m surprised. Courtney’s going to school for social work, which is a real shocker to me since she was truly a lost cause a year ago as far as I was concerned. But, I have to admit—Aunt Tina, Mom, and Butterfly were right. She has changed significantly. I don’t think her grandparents would even recognize her now.

Valerie and Elliot will be moving into their house next weekend. The house is ready, but they didn’t want to come straight home and then have to prepare for packing and moving. Valerie’s things are all in storage since she let her apartment go right after her diagnosis and Elliot’s refusal to let her out of his sight. Elliot still has his apartment, but he’s going to be shedding most of his bachelor gear—as is my understanding—for new furnishings in the new house. They should be ready for a housewarming in a few weeks.

Maxine announces that she has decided to open her own practice. She feels that it’s time that she offers her services in a different arena without being under someone else’s payroll. Butterfly encourages her to do that and jokes that she will come and see Maxine should she find herself in need of a job again. A scoff and a dirty look come from both my mother and me to the party’s amusement. Butterfly also informs her friend that she owns an office building downtown with empty office space. I had completely forgotten that I had gifted Butterfly’s office downtown to her and there is currently space for rent. So, Maxine now has the new location of her practice.

There’s no sex tonight. The day was just too heavy, even with the successful joviality at the end of the evening. Butterfly and I watch Disney movies in the family room with the twins in their Pack-n-Plays. She finally falls asleep somewhere after their midnight feeding and I lay in bed with her in my arms staring at the ceiling, thinking how close I came to losing it all over a terrible misunderstanding.

My wife could have died when she fell off that cliff. Chuck saved her life yet again. She may never recover from this impending doom syndrome. I can see it in her eyes. She used to be such a free spirit and now, she’s approaching everything with a level of emotional caution that’s clearly visible to everyone around her. She’s agreed to start seeing Ace again. I’ll give Dr. Baker a call, too. Somebody’s got to help us out of this situation in which we’ve found ourselves or we’ll never be able to get ourselves back.

Having laid awake next to my wife for about three hours with no hope of falling asleep, I slide out of bed and go to my old faithful companion in hopes of calming my nerves enough to find slumber. I stop at the bar in the entertainment room and pour myself a brandy, then stop in my office to get my voice recorder before escaping to my den and my baby grand.

I never know how to verbalize my feelings, which is why I ran my cowardly, selfish ass to Madrid instead of staying here and communicating with my wife. I thought I had come so far during the time that we’ve been together. I’ve come a long way, granted, but not nearly as far as I need to if I can come this close to losing her because of this. I start the voice recorder and just start playing. At first, I have no idea what I’m doing, what I’m playing, or why I’m recording… but I do. I just keep playing, keep recording… and keep singing.

You look at me and I begin to melt, just like the snow when a ray of sun is felt…

She’s so broken, and I broke her. Just like she always does, she put on a good face for the rest of the world, but deep inside, she’s fragile and afraid. Somehow, I—or something else—always exploits that fear and that vulnerability. I have to make sure that she knows that I’ll never be the one to do that to her again. I have to know that I’ll never do that to her again. She can’t take it. She won’t survive going through this too many more times.

And now that your rose is in bloom, a light hits the gloom on the Grey…

Yeah, I know that’s not the Grey the song meant, but that’s how I feel—lost without her and so found when she’s near me. Song after song flows from my soul, my fingers, and my mouth. I don’t really know the purpose. I just sing and play what I’m feeling, what I need her to feel.

And when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while…

How I could have thought that for one second her thoughts and heart would stray to someone else is beyond me. Even now, playing the probable kiss over and over in my head, I no longer see her gazing in his eyes. I no longer see him closing in to touch his lips to hers. I only see her hand on his chest, pushing him away, fending him off from our bubble, our life and our love…

I knew I loved you before I met you, I think I dreamed you into life…

I have to get her back… back to the sassy Dr. Steele that I met in that community center, the woman who calls me Grey when she’s cross with me, the woman who cries adrenaline tears when she’s pissed and wants someone to pay for whatever has her feeling that way instead of shrinking into sofas or in fetal positions on the floor—not for myself, but for her… and yes, for me, too…

If ever I believe my work is done, then I’ll start back at one…

She has to know that I love her, what she means to me, what she’ll always mean to me. She has to know that, yes, there will be some bad times—some shadows and some tears, we can’t avoid them—but I’ll always be there to love her and hold her, to make sure that she’ll never feel the way she feels right now ever, ever again. God, I love you, Butterfly. I love you so much. I’ll spend the rest of my life proving to you that I love you and I’ll never let you down like this again… never again…

I never knew what my life was for, but now that you’re here, I know for sure…

I have died every day waiting for you, Darlin’ don’t be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years…

You make me feel so brand new and I want to spend my life with you…

All of me loves all of you, love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections…


A/N: Ana’s quote about sudden destruction comes from the Bible: I Thessalonians 5:3

Here are the songs that are referenced in Christian’s midnight serenade.

On the Wings of Love—Jeffrey Osborne
Kiss From A Rose—Seal
Just The Way You Are—Bruno Mars
I Knew I Loved You—Savage Garden
Back At One—Brian McKnight
Spend My Life With You—Eric Benet ft. Tamia
A Thousand Years—Christina Perri
Let’s Stay Together—Al Green
All Of Me—John Legend 

Other songs that were on the recording, not mentioned in the chapter:
Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You—George Benson, Glenn Medeiros, Westlife… take your pick
I Will Be Right Here Waiting for you—Richard Marx
Thinking Out Loud—Ed Sheeran
Because You Loved Me—Celine Dion

Not sure if anyone cares, but years ago, I used to watch a sitcom called The Facts of Life. One of the characters—Tootie—wrote and performed a dramatic reading that I never really understood until I became an adult and people were always expecting something of me. When my Muse deserted me (and believe me, y’all, she deserted me—I thought I was going to be wrapping up the Butterfly Saga), Tootie’s dramatic reading came to me. To me, it translated into, “You can’t expect for me to just keep churning out shit when you need it and just take what I can get when you’re ready to give it to me.” 

These last few chapters, my Muse took a beating… and she shut the fuck down. 

Now I know people may look at this and say, “We can’t say what we want to say or she’s going to stop writing.” That’s not necessarily true, but people do need to understand that creativity is a lot of hard work, and I’m feeling what’s being said. As many times as I’ve tried to explain things logically, my Muse—as is anybody’s—is as “at will” as they come. She was like, “I don’t have to explain shit! and took the fuck off. 

For those who think she’s overly sensitive, do me a quick favor. Start from chapter 37, and don’t read anything else but the comments(suspicion started in chapter 33; the “embers” started in chapter 37; the blaze started in chapter 38) . Start from the first comment in chapter 37 to the last comment in chapter 41. Read it first with an open mind, then picture that this was a piece of clay that you worked on months ago for several weeks, and these people are talking about your piece of clay. No matter how thick your skin is, no creative soul can walk away from that unscathed. 

If you’re interested in Tootie’s dramatic reading, it starts at the 15:45 mark and it’s only about a minute long. 

I’m done. I apologize for subjecting you all to my diatribe. I’ve actually lost readers for that. 

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 in the menu our you can click 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 11

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 necessarily CG with Ana together. Proceed at your own discretion, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

Fifty Shades Golden

Chapter 11

63f9d0ec73831eb51a5c9b2974340f1c
GOLDEN

In my line of work and with what I do, vulnerability is not a favorable quality. However, when it comes to thoughts of Mommy and Daddy, I have no defense. I was 10 when I lost my parents. My last memory of Daddy was this tall, handsome, beautifully mocha-colored giant who could take on the world. He fought the bad guys and won! He caught the Boogeyman! I was never afraid of the monsters under my bed as long as Daddy was alive. They dare not show their faces to Officer Steele’s baby girl or he would banish them to parts unknown, and I knew this without a doubt. I knew that officers died in the line of duty all the time, even at that age, but not my Daddy. Bullets couldn’t pierce his impenetrable armor, and no one could convince me otherwise. My Daddy was unstoppable.

My mother… Oh, my mother was the kindest, sweetest, most beautiful woman I had ever known. She never coddled me or treated me like a kid who couldn’t handle the truth, so she always told me the truth—well, except about a few things, like Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy. But she taught me about discrimination, about racism, prejudice and bigotry. She taught me what to say when the kids in school taunted me because my daddy was a “nigger.” She even taught me what to say when I changed schools and the black kids called me “whitey” and “cracker” and “honkey.” She taught me that their ignorance and hatred made them say those things, and that I should never let those words hurt me because hatred is painful, and it really hurts them more than it hurts me since they carry it and have to walk around with it—I can walk away from it.

She also taught me that if someone ever put their hands on me to beat the ever-living shit out of them!

My mother was a sweet, kind, and beautiful woman, but she was a white woman married to a black cop most often living in a black neighborhood, and she could fuck you up! My mother fought like a street brawler, and if you were ever unlucky enough to get into a fight with her thinking you were going to “beat this little white bitch’s ass,” you got more than you bargained for. Mommy was a “scrapper,” and after an altercation with her, that’s most likely all that was left of you…

Scraps.

I adored the two faces of Mommy—the soft, sweet, gentle caretaker that hugged and kissed me; showed me so much love and affection that it overflowed from my tiny little soul every day; kissed my boo-boos when I was little and taught me the rougher lessons of life as I began to grow; and the strong, alabaster queen that wouldn’t take shit from anybody. The woman who told you where to go and how fast to get there and would give you directions if you needed them. She was amazing and magnificent, and when I looked up at her, beams of light burst from behind her head like a sunlight halo and she could always right the wrongs of my day… of my life! There’s no woman in the world like my Mommy, and there never will be again.

So, in times like these, when thoughts of them come flooding back to me like a tsunami, I become that same little girl riding in that car with my aunt and uncle, trying to grasp the fact that my beloved Mommy and Daddy are never coming back and not being able to embrace it all. It’s like no time has passed at all and I’ve just lost them just this minute, and the pain is going to swallow me whole and devour me alive.

I don’t cry… but today, I weep. I cry and cry until my chest hurts and my head aches. I cry until my eyes feel like they’ve swollen shut and I can barely breathe or see or think. And when I feel like I can’t cry anymore, I cry more. I miss my parents so much at this moment that I could literally lay down and die without them. Maybe it’s the fact that Uncle Richard has popped back into my life and won’t go away. Maybe it’s the fact that Elena’s creepy ass husband with his creepy ass eyes physically gave me the heebie-jeebies and Daddy wasn’t there to chase away the Boogeyman. I don’t know. All I know is that I miss them so badly right now that my entire body hurts and I just want it to stop…

“Mistress…”

I raise my eyes and Blake has entered my room without permission. I don’t know if he knocked or not, but his expression says it all—sorrow, pity, helplessness. My body shakes with grief and I can’t focus. My caretaker comes over to my bed, toes out of his shoes and removes his jacket, placing it on a nearby chair. He climbs into bed with me and gathers me in his arms. I fall helplessly onto his chest, sopping and waterlogged in my tears that start anew at his display of concern and tenderness.

“Déjalo salir, Señora,” he coaxes as he strokes my hair. “Even the strongest among us cannot keep it in forever.”

*-*

Once Blake and a hot toddy helped me relax and get to sleep, I awoke at dusk ready to cook. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and cornbread… and that one packet of grape Kool-Aid that I keep around for emergency purposes, although we never called it grape when I was staying with my aunt and uncle. We called it purple. So, when I went to college and tried to find purple Kool-Aid, I was hesitant to buy grape, not really sure it was the same thing. Blake will replace my pack tomorrow.

We eat in relative silence although a million thoughts are going through my head right now. I want to talk… somewhat, but I never talk to anyone about Mommy and Daddy. Those are my private thoughts, my private memories, the one and only thing I’ve ever kept for just myself. Although Blake knows that my parents have passed away when I was very young, he doesn’t know the whole sordid tale of my childhood. It’s not really sordid—it’s more pathetic, if anything. And to be honest, my childhood was fantastic. It’s my teenage years that sucked.

“My uncle is the damn D.A.,” I say while picking at my chicken. “My father’s brother. I would have thought the fucker was dead all these years. I wouldn’t have lost any sleep to find out that he was.”

I push my food around on my plate, angry that my appetite has left at the thought of dear old Uncle Richard.

“When did he become the District Attorney?” Blake asks. I shrug.

“I don’t know,” I reply. “I haven’t seen him. Let me rephrase. The first time I saw him was in juvenile court about seven or eight months ago—a 14-year-old kid, Tommy Dietrich, hanging out with the wrong bunch of boys and they ripped off some store at the mall. Tommy was innocent; I knew it, but there’s dear old Uncle Richard passing judgment on yet another kid without all the facts.” Blake frowns.

“Richard?” he asks. “Richard Steele? That’s your uncle?” I raise my eyes to him.

“That’s my father’s brother, yes. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I claim him as my uncle. You know him?” Blake shrugs infinitesimally.

“I know of him,” he says impassively. “I know that he’s with the State’s Attorney’s office. I never made the connection. Then again, I’ve never really referred to you as Steele,” he points out.

“How do you know of him?” I ask.

“One of those pieces of useless information,” he replies. “I know of several people in office… judges, senators, congressmen, assemblymen. Some I know personally, some I don’t. Some I’ve learned of in passing, in background checks, others I may have personal knowledge… like Officer Stanley Hamilton, the man who never gave me a breathalyzer the night my Danielle was killed. If he had, I might have been charged with murder. And Dr. Helga Valdemot, the medical examiner who could pinpoint the exact moment my Danny took her last breath, as if I don’t have that moment forever etched in my memory. Kevin Peterson, the paramedic who caught my wife when she fainted when they told her our daughter had expired and how. Eric Scholls, a nobody, and one of two men driving a car that I’ve paid for, spending my money, and fucking my wife so that she’ll one day forget that I killed our daughter—an impossible task. So, yes, I know of Richard Steele, but he’s barely a corner of my mental real estate.”

What makes this situation so fucked-up that he gives that entire dissertation like he’s giving me the recipe for chicken soup.

“You have to face Steele tomorrow?” he asks, as if he hasn’t just recounted the most tragic event of his entire life. I nod.

“I’m pretty sure that I do,” I reply. “I’ve been in juvenile court many times, but I hadn’t seen him at all before Tommy Dietrich.”

“He could have been assigned to other cases,” Blake says. “You know the state’s attorney covers all kinds of cases—criminal, family court, even some civil matters depending on the case. Otherwise occupied?” I twist my lips.

“Well, he sure the fuck hasn’t been otherwise occupied these last few months,” I point out. “I’ve had four cases come before him in front of four different judges. Of course, they were all garbage. Three of them were thrown out. One of them went to trial and we still won. It’s like he’s on some kind of mission to persecute the unfortunate youth of Washington. One kid he tried to get thrown in juvenile was a clear case of mistaken identity! And the case that I won, the state’s key witness identified someone sitting in the audience! It’s like taking candy from a baby. The cases are almost an insult to my intelligence, but left to the public defender, these innocent kids would be locked up right now.” I shake my head. “As if that’s not bad enough,” I continue, “he’s been unsuccessfully trying to get an audience with me for the last several months. Blake frowns again.

“An audience?” I nod.

“Yes,” I confirm. “He wants me to sit down and talk to him or listen to him. He won’t just come out and fucking tell me whatever it is he wants to tell me. He spit out that Aunt Sheila is dying of cancer, so I thought that’s what he had to tell me. Now, he’s acting like there’s something else that he has to tell me, but he won’t just fucking spit it out. He’s trying to orchestrate this whole ‘Forgive me family reunion’ bullshit for him abandoning me when I was a kid, and I won’t hear it. So, whatever it is that he’s trying to tell me, I’ll never find out because it’s not important enough for him to tell me without the condition that I forgive him first and accept him back into my life.”

“Well, then, it’s not important,” Blake says dismissively.

“Apparently not,” I say, turning my attention to my cold meal. “Although… he’s my father’s brother… and I can’t help but wonder if he’s holding something back about Daddy.” Blake pauses.

“Why don’t you just ask him?” he says. I raise my eyes to him. You know why I won’t ask him. That puts me in a position of vulnerability—of subservience—with that fucker, and I won’t have that. Blake raises his eyebrows and tips his head in that knowing way before standing from the table and removing both our plates. He knows our meal is over; neither of us could stomach another bite. “So, what are you going to do?”  he asks. I sigh heavily before pushing my hair out of my face.

“The same thing I always do,” I say. “Go in that courtroom tomorrow and kick ass.” I scratch my eyebrows as I listen to Blake prepare after-dinner cappuccinos.

“The ball was particularly difficult last evening,” he says without raising his gaze to me. I roll my eyes.

“It wasn’t the fucking ball,” I hiss. “Well, it was, but it wasn’t.” Shit, what the fuck was it?

I was feeling all raw about missing Mommy and Daddy. I still do.

I was extra sensitive with the thought that Blake was going to bolt under the impression that I was outgrowing him.

Then, of course, there was Blondie and her Bald Eagle!

“Ugh!” I say aloud, recalling Linc’s overall creepy persona and the discomfort he left upon me. Blake’s gaze darts towards me in surprise at my reaction. “Elena was there.”

“Elena is always there,” he says puzzled as he continues to prepare to coffee.

“She wasn’t alone,” I add. “Her husband was with her.”

“Her husband? Really? He’s in town?” Blake asks.

“Yes. Do you know of him?”

“Only by name. Owner of Lincoln Timber. I’ve never seen him.” I twist my lips.

“Well, the Senator calls him Linc,” I hiss. “He better hope I never see him again. Have you ever seen The Chronicles of Narnia?”

“That’s an odd question, but yes, I have,” he replies.

“That fucker reminds me of Jadis, the White Witch… not as cuddly and just as warm.” Blake frowns deeply.

“Those are strong words, Mistress,” he says as he pours the cappuccinos. I sigh. I’ve opened Pandora’s Box, but hell, it’s open now. It’s not like I’m trying to protect the asshole.

“He introduced himself by insulting me, which he continued to do for the rest of the night until I assured him that his unfounded and slanderous declarations would land a summons on his desk first thing in the morning. I managed to extinguish that fire—lit by his manipulative, trouble-making wife… who, by the way, was dressed like a goddamn hooker—only to ignite another blaze in which he thought he was going to pick me up like that cheap, slut, harlot, bride of Frankenstein of his. When I wasn’t as forthcoming as he wanted me to be, he assaulted me twice in a matter of ten seconds!”

Blake is frozen at the table with both cups of coffee in his hands. I can tell that his temper is rising very quickly as I can hear the delicate cups clattering ever so slightly on their tiny saucers.

“Put the coffee down, Blake,” I say firmly, and he obediently places both saucers and cups on the table, having only spilled a minimal amount.

“Jesse was on him at second eleven,” I assure him. “He didn’t hurt me.”

“And where was your security during seconds one through ten?” Blake asks, his voice controlled. I sigh.

“In the restroom,” I say, without apology. “I ditched him and went to the balcony to get some air.” Blake closes his eyes.

“Mistress…” he whispers, slightly perturbed. He, like Jesse, knows how quickly disaster can strike. What he doesn’t say speaks louder than what he could say.

“The jerk saw his opportunity and took it,” I continue, without acknowledging Blake’s discontent. “The moment he made his move, Jesse was on him and had him subdued—painfully—and ultimately removed from the premises.” Blake pauses for a moment, then lifts one of the coffees and sets it down in front of me. “The Senator has assured me that he plans to send Mr. Lincoln a message to stay far, far away from me. I’ve already threatened to chop his dick off if he comes near me again. Jesse had him partially paralyzed on the balcony and promised to do permanent damage if he didn’t get the hint to behave himself. Now, you look like you’re ready to tear him apart with your bare hands. It appears I bring out the worst in people.” Blake takes a sip of his coffee and says nothing.

“Not so,” he says, after a pause. “He appears to need a lesson,” Blake adds calmly.

“I have a feeling that there are several people in line willing to give him one,” I say, sipping my coffee. “I get the impression that I’m not the only person in town that he’s rubbed the wrong way.”

“We shall see,” Blake says, his voice still an eerie calm. “Mr. Steele… Richard Steele, how will you find out what he has to say?” and we’ve come full circle.

“I may never find out what he has to say,” I admit. “If he has information about Daddy, I’ve lived all these years without it. I won’t allow him to pop back into my life after he’s done Jack shit for me for nearly two decades and then try to use some possible imaginary information to emotionally blackmail me. No, he can keep that shit and stay away from me. Jesse has orders to keep him at least fifty feet away from me at all times unless we’re in the courtroom.”

Blake raises an eyebrow at me and I almost hate the way my submissive can have a conversation with me without having to say a word. Yes, Blake, I know. Jesse can’t protect me if I fail to follow protocol. We’ve already had this damn discussion.

“You are not that person,” he says. I frown.

“What?” I ask.

“That weak, soft, person who can’t hold it together—that’s not you. Don’t let anyone take you there again.” I drop my head.

“Do you think I wanted to do that?” I retort. “Do you think I wanted to come in here and fall apart? I was bombarded with memories of my parents and I don’t make apologies for being vulnerable when it comes to them.”

“And that’s fine if that’s what it is, but that wasn’t what is was and you know that. You’ve been in that place before, and while it brought you to a melancholy place, it never broke you down… not like that. Whatever it was, only you know. You can’t allow that to happen again. That’s not you. This weak, fragile, lost, floundering woman is not my Mistress. Whatever you’ve done with her, she needs to come back. You’ll hate yourself if she doesn’t.”

He’s right and I know he is. Ever since I discovered who I really am, I’ve never wallowed in self-pity. Ever. Even when I felt the loss of Mommy and Daddy, I didn’t let it drag me into the depths of despair. I know why it happened this time. It was a combination of things and I didn’t handle them well, but he’s absolutely right. I can’t let this happen again.

“No man—or woman—is made of stone, Blake,” I admit. “You have to allow me one moment of painful pause in all the time you’ve known me. Imagine what kind of cold, bitter, unfeeling monster I would be if there wasn’t at least the slightest bit of vulnerability… even if the rest of the world doesn’t get to see it.” I close my eyes and try to gather myself… try to find Golden again

You are your biggest strength… and your biggest downfall. No one can defeat you or penetrate your armor unless you allow it.

Lanette’s mantras are playing in my head. I didn’t hear them last night or this morning, when I was feeling forlorn and sunken in despair, but even I know that no one survives alone. Elena is painful proof of that. No one loves her. No one even covets or admires her. As a result, she has to pay for loyalty and attention, and she foolishly thinks that her pennies, tokens, and trinkets can get her the same unconditional devotion that I get from my clients.

Elvin was stalking her, ready to ruin her and God only knows what else simply because I refused to see him anymore.

The Senator was ready to shut down Seattle at the mere mention that Linc was giving me problems at the ball last night.

Trey was buying me priceless gifts before he even got the Golden treatment. When I finally put a whip to his skin, he’s giving me Beyoncé-sized emeralds!

And let’s not even get started on the man who has never seen, smelled, or felt my pussy or had a taste of the end of my crop, but takes better care of me than any human being alive.

Elena couldn’t buy that kind of loyalty for all the tea in China, and she is painfully alone. She’s even more alone with her husband around because he’s an asshole. He makes it agonizingly obvious that he’s not even slightly romantically interested in her anymore if he ever was, and I’m totally convinced that her telling him about me and Trey was her way of throwing him off the scent because she knew he wanted me before he even saw me.

“Blondie’s going to be a bigger problem than I thought,” I lament, as Golden slowly begins to stiffen my backbone once more.

“What do you mean?” Blake asks, his voice low, and I hear the military man lurking behind his concern. To be honest, I might need him.

“Last night at the party, Linc came on to me—hard. He did a full 180 on me,” I say as I sip my cappuccino . “He took liberties that no civilian, for lack of a better word, would ever take with me. Trey is seasoned in the game—money, power, good looks, dominant—the whole nine yards. And even he didn’t take the liberties with me that Linc took last night. Linc thought I was Grey’s ‘woman’ and that didn’t deter him one bit. If anything, it egged him on,” I observe.

“I still don’t see how that makes Elena a problem,” Blake says.

“Don’t you see?” I tell him. “She uses me as bait for whatever situation she sees fit. She’s busy talking about me and I have no idea what she’s saying—what kind of damage she’s doing. First Trey, then Linc. Who the fuck else is she talking to and what the hell is she saying? Her failed beauty shops are proof positive that the wrong word in the wrong ear can destroy you, and now she’s out there talking to anybody who’ll listen. Slander and libel suits will only get you so far and they can take forever to produce results. She’ll have dragged my name through the gutter by then based on a delusion of competition, jealousy of her husband’s attraction to me, and some crazy self-imposed fabrication that I had something to do with her goddamn demise.”

I cross my arms and lean on the counter. If she thinks I’m going to stand around and wait for her to destroy me and my reputation, try to use me as a puppet and then get mad because the game doesn’t turn out the way that she wants—boy, is she in for the surprise of her life.

Make sure that they know—all of them—that there’s none other like you.

Blondie just may need a lesson or three.

“I see… my Mistress is back,” Blake says.

“She is indeed,” I reply, contemplating my next move. “However, would it be too much to ask for you to… stay tonight, Blake?” Something flashes in his eye, but only momentarily before his says,

“Of course, Mistress,” he replies. “Whatever you need.”

*-*

As I suspected, I’m facing Uncle Richard for the kid yanked from playing street ball and charged with a B&E. This poor kid is pale as a ghost, afraid that the court is going to throw the book at him. I would be, too. Had I not arranged for bail for him, he would have sat in juvenile detention until his preliminary hearing since his mother was in no condition to post his bond.

As we prepare to face the judge in this motion to dismiss, Richard drags his ass into the courtroom looking haggard, like he had a few too Martinis the night before and unsuccessfully tried the hair of the dog cure. I quickly divert my gaze before he looks over at me, but it didn’t really do any good as the exasperated sigh he emits is the “shot heard ‘round the courtroom.” Several people give him a puzzled look, but I don’t even bother to entertain his theatrics.

“All rise.” When the judge enters the courtroom, I see that Judge Grey is sitting again. I sigh inwardly. I know him to be a fair man, but I make a mental note to see if he’s any relation to Chopper. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?

The bailiff reads the docket number and proceeds to open the floor for the case. As I’m preparing to present my points that my client wasn’t mirandized and didn’t have the presence of legal counsel or his parents for the first seven hours, making this entire arrest and case invalid, I hear the most shocking request from the prosecution.

“Your Honor, there’s a conflict of interest here. Ms. Olivet can’t be assigned to this case.”

I lean forward and look at my uncle like his head just exploded and his brain is dancing a jig in the middle of the courtroom floor, because surely, he’s lost his mind.

“Excuse me?” I exclaim, before I can catch myself.

“Counselor,” Judge Grey warns me before turning his attention back to Richard. “Explain, Mr. Steele.”

“Ms. Olivet’s interests are in direct conflict with the interests of the office of the state’s attorney,” he says firmly. My mouth falls open. He’s not serious.

“In what way?” the judge presses.

“She’s my niece,” he confesses. Judge Grey looks over his glasses at Richard in that way that he does when he’s pondering information.

“She’s your niece?” the judge clarifies. Richard nods.

“Yes, Your Honor,” Richard says. Judge Grey clasps his hands.

“So, her conflict of interest is not with the state’s attorney’s office. It’s just with you,” he clarifies. Richard says nothing. “Counselors, please approach,” Judge Grey instructs. Richard and I approach the bench. Judge Grey examines us both for a few moments. “You’re not looking well, counselor,” he says to Richard.

“Just a little tired, Your Honor,” he says. “Family troubles.”

“I’ll say,” Judge Grey retorts. “How long have you known your niece was assigned to this case?” He looks at Richard, who doesn’t answer, probably because he has no answer. The judge turns to me. “Did you know that your uncle would be assigned to this case?”

“I suspected that I might be facing Richard in this case,” I admit, not willing to refer to him as my uncle, “but no, I didn’t know for sure.”

“Have you two discussed this case outside of the courtroom?” he asks.

“We don’t discuss anything outside of the courtroom,” I clarify. Judge Grey looks at me over his glasses.

“Not for lack of effort,” Richard retorts, causing the Judge to turn his gaze to him.

“I take it this is not a cordial relationship,” His Honor observes.

“You take it correctly,” I inform him. “Richard Steele is my adopted father’s brother, and that’s where it ends. Though he put forth a good show for a while, he made it clear that any obligation he may have had to me died with my father. There’s no avuncular relationship here whatsoever… Your Honor.”

“He didn’t need to know all that,” Richard hisses.

“You’re the one who referred to me as your niece. I’m just setting the record straight,” I say impassively without glancing in his direction. “I have no problem doing my job. He’s like any other adversary I would face in the courtroom. If he has a problem facing off with me, he needs to take that up with his employer.”

“I tend to agree,” Judge Grey says. “Examine your dockets carefully, counselor. You’ve made it clear that you don’t want to deal with your niece in a professional manner, so if you find yourself arguing a case where she’s the listed counsel, you may want to pass that off to someone else.” Richard nods.

“Understood, Your Honor.”

“So, how do you want to proceed today?” the Judge asks. “This young man shouldn’t have to suffer because you have a conflict of interest. Are you able to perform your duties today, or should we call to the prosecutor’s office to get someone to take your place in this matter? I can request a recess until this afternoon.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Richard says. “I can handle it. I’ll just be more discriminating in the future.” I don’t like his tone when he says that, but it only makes me sharpen my claws. The judge raises his brow at him.

“You do that,” he says to Richard. “Then I guess we can proceed.”

He should have called to the office for a replacement. I chewed Uncle Richard up and spit him out like nasty tobacco. I could have argued this case blindfolded, but he made it easy for me. Not only was he ill-prepared, but he appeared to get the facts from this case mixed up with some other case he was trying, and when it came time to make a recommendation, he had none. I was so outdone with the whole useless waste of time that I actually made a “What the fuck” gesture at the judge at one point. I fully expected him to stop the proceedings and make us reschedule with fresh representation from the D.A.’s office. Instead, he shut the whole thing down. I had presented my case well and the prosecution failed to argue probable cause and had no leg to stand on in terms of the Miranda issue. The case was dismissed… again.

I couldn’t even bask in my victory because he gave me no fight. While my client is thrilled to put this behind him, I’m wondering why the hell Richard showed up to court at all if he’s going to give that less than lackluster performance. I sure as hell don’t need his help to win a case and that better not be what this was all about. I’m suddenly very angry, thinking he may have thrown the case in an attempt to get into my good graces. I notice that while I’m gathering my things and saying goodbye to my client, the judge has summoned him to the bench again—probably to chastise him for that weak ass performance he just gave. I want to march right up there and ask him what the fuck that was.

“Ms. Olivet? A word?” Judge Grey says, once I’ve gathered my things. I grab my briefcase and purse and approach the bench where Richard is still standing.

“I’m not sure what happened here today, but this had better not be some kind of plan on the part of the two of you to get your client off.” Richard raises appalled eyes to the judge and I have never been so humiliated in all my life.

“With all due respect, Your Honor, I’m sure that you saw that I gave my defense my all. I’ve never come to this or any other courtroom unprepared or given my clients less than 100%. I don’t know what’s going on in Mr. Steele’s family or personal life, but I truly do not appreciate being accused of any misconduct or even having it implied because of his dreary performance and lack of preparation. You can rest assured that from this point forward, I will be filing advanced motions with the court and the state’s attorney’s office to have him removed from any of my cases. I refuse to have my integrity brought into question because of his behavior or his conflict of interest!”

I have to stop talking before I say something that will have me held in contempt of court, but this is the first time that I’ve wanted to climb the bench and slap a judge upside the head. I realize that Richard’s performance was so terribly bad that one can hardly believe it was real, but dammit, don’t disparage me because he’s a fuck up.

I actually feel my bun getting tighter on my head and I know that my blood pressure is rising. So, there’s going to be some yoga in my schedule later, and some poor fuck is going to get the hell beat out of him tonight, right before he comes violently all over the goddamn floor.



TREY

“Umph!”

Apparently, the last time I was in Golden’s dungeon, I talked too damn much. So, this time, I’ve been commanded not to speak. I can make sounds, but no words unless I’m spoken to. I had to remind the gilded goddess that I’m not a submissive, at which point she reminded me that she is a Dominatrix and this is her dungeon and her rules and that I was free to leave if I chose not to follow them.

Needless to say, I’m not going anywhere, but the fact that I agree to punishment if I speak out of place baffles even me…

… Until this moment.
… Until I remember.

She’s vicious today, fucking brutal with those damn whips and crops and floggers. Her torment is exquisite, and I remember with fondness why I returned.

My libido is insane. I’ve always been insatiable. I don’t apologize for that. It’s why Juliet and I didn’t work out. My sex drive was way too high. Even though I wanted to explore outside of our relationship, I never did. I was unhappy, but never unfaithful. I wanted more. I needed more. I was bored and unsatisfied—not only could Juliet not give me what I wanted, she didn’t even give me what she had to offer often enough. I was fond of her, but I don’t know if I loved her… I think not. Breaking up with her was only sad for me because I had to find someone else to fuck, and we had been together for two years. I have no idea how it lasted that long.

When I walked in on my father fucking a thoroughly flogged and bound Bunny, my dick was hard in an instant. To say that I was intrigued was the understatement of the millennium. That shit was the hottest thing I had ever seen up to that point. I’m a red-blooded adult male, but I thought they only did that shit in movies. Thoughts of my mother and the obvious betrayal were the furthest thing from my mind. In fact, telling Mom would have been the worst thing I could have done. I would have never have been introduced properly to the lifestyle and I would have been the direct catalyst of my mother’s broken heart—a lose/lose situation as far as I was concerned, but Dad didn’t know that. He would have done anything—fucking anything—to keep me from revealing his activities to my mother.

Seeing what the Dominants were doing to the submissives when my father first took me to one of the exclusive BDSM clubs that I often frequent now, I knew that I didn’t want to be on the receiving end of that shit. However, watching those beautiful nymphs squirm in chains and leather binds, silk scarves, spreader bars, and Japanese ropes, then watching horny men with pulsing, angry dicks bruise and use them in various way until those cocks exploded in hot erupting orgasms—yeah, that shit was for me. I was so ready to flog and fuck one, or several, of those beautiful girls that I almost didn’t make it through Dom training.

And then, along comes Golden. I didn’t want her to be my submissive. I just wanted to taste her—wanted to sink my dick into that hot little pussy and grab that big, golden-clad ass she kept teasing me with. Domination isn’t about causing the pain and beating the women for me. That’s a means to an end. I like the control of seeing them squirm and making them do what I want, bend to my will, and satisfy me, but fuck—what man doesn’t?

I don’t judge people’s different reasons for getting into the lifestyle, but I don’t beat women until they’re black and blue. I don’t get off on that. A few pretty stripes or a nice shade of pink turns me on, and it’s usually good enough for them, too. A lot of them just want to be dominated sexually—bound and erotically used and misused with a little S&M thrown in. That’s perfect for me. That’s what I had in mind when those golden thighs sauntered past me for the first time—maybe no S&M since she was obviously the Domme, but I certainly had plans on fucking that tight little body until my dick was temporarily dysfunctional.

Things certainly don’t normally work out how we expect, do they?

Since our first encounter, I’ve had the best fucking sex of my life. The ass-virgin Hazel was dizzily delicious. She loved that shit so much that she prefers it in the ass now more than the pussy. I have to switch it up to remind her who’s in charge… but she blew my fucking mind when she showed up with another submissive from Crimson for one of our scenes. She knew it was insubordinate and cause for punishment, and I certainly obliged her that—turning that large, juicy, beautiful ass a lovely shade of pink with a leather flat paddle while she’s bent over and bound to a spanking horse right before I slowly and deeply drilled hard into it, all while our third nearly swallowed my balls in her hot and talented mouth.

I came so hard that my legs nearly gave out on me.

This and several other subsequent fiery sexual encounters are peppered with memories of the feeling of Golden’s whips on my back… her paddle on my ass… her crop on my chest…

Her mouth on my balls…

Fuck! I never in a million years thought pain would turn me on at all, let alone turn me on this much, but every time I think about the combination of one of her pain-inducing methods coupled with her pleasure-eliciting techniques, I have to fight to keep from coming no matter where I am. If my hands are gasping a thick ass while I’m pushing a tight, wet pussy down on my dick, I lose that fight almost immediately, but my libido is so untamed that I’m usually ready for action again just a few minutes thereafter.

Imagine trying to fight off a woody and an involuntary ejaculation in a room full of businessmen.

The days that followed our last scene have been filled with immeasurable pleasure—violently throbbing and crippling orgasms into bodies bent in half and open fully to my ample, anxious, veiny meat. That’s my favorite position—knees in their chests, feet up in the air, me squatting over their wide-open cunts, and no restrictions. They’re helpless to escape that way and they can take me balls deep. I usually come several times inside of them in this position because I fuck through each climax—which is agonizingly orgasmic and extends the pleasure—and then thicken right back up and keep going right into the next one.

Not one orgasm since that night with Golden has occurred without thoughts of our encounter. Yes, the sex with the subs is unreal. I have two—and Hazel’s little friend—on tap when I need to fuck, and it’s amazing, but as soon as I get in the zone… the last leg of the race, so to speak… I see her… I feel her… her whip, that fucking bullet, her mouth, the painful burn on my ass, the shocking pinch of the crop on my chest…

… And I explode—majestically!

This is what I was looking for all this time. I need the spark both ways. I never would have known… and my submissives never will…

… Which is why our scenes must always take place in her dungeons. I’ll work my submissives over in the clubs. I’ll watch Golden work over a client in the club if I feel so inclined. I learned my lesson about calling her clients submissives. I’m beginning to think that many—if not all of them—are just like me. They just need a fix—a hit of Golden, pun intended—to assist their mental and physical stimulation. And why not, she certainly is just like a drug.

Which would explain why I kept that fucking necklace for six months when I truly had no intention of seeing that woman again.

My subconscious knew that I was full of shit, knew that somewhere, somehow, our paths would cross, and she’d work her way back into my life or I would find a way to get her back into my life… and I would give her that necklace again. Now, I know her purpose. I still want to fuck her. God, do I still want to fuck her! But right now…

My dick is hot and hard and aching to come. I swear it feels like it’s going to burst out of its skin right now. I basically immobilized on Golden’s submissive table, eagle-spread and face down. Her submissive table is more like a converted massage table—soft, luxurious leather for your comfort and a hole for your face when you’re face down…

… and one for your dick.

I had to inform her of the aftermath of our last session, that my arm hurt so badly that I was in discomfort for a few days thereafter and still feeling a bit of discomfort now. There’s no way I could withstand being suspended from the ceiling again without safewording simply from that pain alone.

As a result, my golden Mistress introduced her adjustable “torture table” and strapped me to it, face down. My genitals are fully exposed and accessible through what I can only describe as a “glory hole.” It’s been a couple of weeks since our last scene and my memories of her were getting a little fuzzy. I needed new ones or a refresher of the old ones.

I watched her work over a client last Monday at Club Syndrome and it was not pretty—hot as usually, but sadistic as fuck! She was really feeling it that day. She was untamed and vicious, and it turned me on like crazy, but she was merciless to that guy that she had wrapped up so tight in latex that I didn’t think he could breathe. His dick was hers and she knew it and so did he. He came so many times and so hard that I was out of breath, but not before she tormented him so badly that I started to feel sorry for the guy. Obviously, she knows what each client wants because he was jizzing like a fucking fountain all night, but damn—I knew not to fuck with Mistress that day. It was not the time for me to venture into that territory with her.

Nonetheless, she had me sweating with pleasure as I watched her work him over. Good God, she’s a fucking maestro. He was tied down to some sort of frame and couldn’t budge—and his dick was so fucking big that it looked deformed! I’ve never seen anything like it in my life, and the more she tormented it, the bigger that fucker got! And each time he came, the dick torture was ungodly! I’ve stayed buried inside a hot, tight pussy and allowed it to continue to stimulate me after I’ve come on several occasions, but that’s a controlled action.

To have a sadistic Madam attached to your freshly ejaculated dick after you blown a load large enough to choke a horse—literally? That is sincerely cruel and unusual punishment.

She loved it… and he loved it even more… and I decided to wait a while before allowing her to get a hold of me, but I came so hard in that observation room—twice—watching her torment Long Dick Don that I had to send her tribute. It was the very least I could do.

Later that week, I watched another client groan unbelievably hard just from her tying him up—basic Shibari, I discovered later—where the rope is tied in intricate patterns, but he looked really uncomfortable, bent in this strange pose.

His dick didn’t seem to mind, though.

Then she attached bamboo nipple clamps to his breasts and tormented the pink protruding peaks with a wartenberg wheel.

His dick loved that shit! He squirmed and grunted in what looked like agony, but his dick darkened and hardened, jutting straight up and the skin tight and shiny. Did I mention that he was on the floor? Yeah, so he could squirm all he wanted. Oh, and at least two passes of the rope went across his mouth acting as a gag, so I don’t know how he was supposed to safeword, but he showed no sign of wanting to do so.

Next, she used what looked like a super-long, narrow shoestring and began some same sort of Shibari on his dick and balls—around the base a few times, then around the shaft right at the base of the dick above the balls, then between the balls a time or three… She’s meticulous, paying close attention to her work, but his genitals were at least four shades darker than his body and his balls were as shiny as large glass marbles, ready to burst out of the skin.

Nonetheless, she kept right on wrapping and tying until she was satisfied. Then she pulled the ends of the long strings between his legs and attached them to the rope somewhere at the ankle so that his restrained and painfully erect dick sticks straight out. Now, if that’s not bad enough, she did the same thing to the tip of his dick—right at the hood, where the frenulum is, so that the head was shining like a marble, too. I can bet that air was stimulating the fuck out of him and making him want to come!

But that’s not all!

Two passes over the slit—you know, where relief is supposed to come when he ejaculates? Yeah, that looks bound and covered now. Then, the tiny rope was wrapped around the base of the hood again and crisscrossed down and back up his shaft in the most artistic—and restricting—manner, then fashioned in a bow right at his frenulum.

Once again, oh, the humanity!

Then she’s back at the nipples with the wartenberg wheel—and he’s grunting again, and his dick is throbbing and jumping as she torments him. Bound the way that he is, you can only see the ripple of his abs and the curling of his toes to know that he’s reacting to the stimulation.

Oh, and the seeping of his dick.

She scratched her nails through his pubic hair several times, stimulated his nipples with her fingers and the wartenberg wheel, rubbed his abs and talked sexy to him like she does with all her clients. Never once did she touch his dick except to bind it.

About twenty minutes after she bound his dick, he’s coming—long, hard, violent, and seemingly painful squirts… endless shots, over and over again around the bounds over his slit. The fucking floor should be bearing his goddamn children!

And she never even touched his dick.

Now here I lay, glutton for punishment that I am, strapped face down to her submissive table after she has tormented me in more ways than one.

First, she strips down to suspenders, stockings, and stilettos, climbs on top of me and rubs her naked body all over the back of me… while I’m tied down to this damn table. She’s digging those damn nails into my back, biting me in various places… I can smell her naked pussy and feel it rubbing over my ass and thighs. That shit was so fucking cruel that I was shaking when she finally removed that delectable body from mine. She knows I want her, then she does that shit to me. That’s just disrespectful.

She makes up for it, though, by striping the hell out of me with that damn flogger. She’s not as timid as she was the last time. There’s a little more force in her blows and I have to close my eyes to focus, because with every third or fourth strike of that flogger, she strokes my dick with a soft, oily hand. It’s confined in a metal cockring—something I never wear—and it’s pretty effective in holding back a premature ejaculation, because her body is so fucking soft…

“Umph!”

The flogger whacks at my ass again and my dick, anticipating the stroke, jerks in excitement. Even with no direct stimulation, my body can’t seem to separate the two, and my nuts feel like they’re going to burst.

I try to brace myself for the next blow. My body is dripping in sweat as she has used various instruments on me today. I’m not so sure that I like electrostimulation yet, although she only used it on my back, so we’ll have to see about that. Ass play is a slow-go for me as well. I just don’t know how I feel about it. She’s attentive enough to know what works for the moment and what doesn’t. Getting that cockring around my dick and balls was no small task and now the restraint of the device is agony. Not too sure if I want to repeat this exercise either. We’ll see how it turns out.

I hear her drop the flogger and release the breath that I was holding. I try not to pant, but it’s no use. I’m gasping in air quickly, sucking in precious oxygen and trying not to relax as I don’t know what she’s going to do next or when she’s going to strike. I flex my hands in their leather cuffs a few times. My fingers are sore from keeping my fists clenched to bear the pain.

It seems like an eternity has passed, and just as I’m preparing myself to brace for the next assault, she appears in front of me, wiping the sweat that has dripped into my eyes so that I can see. I didn’t even notice the sting until that moment. My eyes were shut so tight and she didn’t bother with a blindfold. I’m face down, so I can’t see anything anyway.

When I’m finally able to focus, there she is—brown hair fanned out on the floor, still completely naked except for a very flimsy garter and flimsier pair of string panties with gold chains in precarious places. That must be what took her a while… she was pantyless when she massaged me with her body, and I know for certain that I didn’t feel those gold chains against my ass. So, I get to feel her, but not see her. So not fair.

The garter is attached to a pair of sheer, shimmering gold thigh-high stockings, her petite feet adorned in jeweled golden stilettos. Her perfect pink breasts are sitting on top on her chest like ripe melons just staring at me, and I feel my mouth watering. And she’s wearing my tribute—a golden, reflective, bib-choker necklace. It looks like a collar and I’m certain that she knows that it’s not only my way of exercising a bit of my own dominance, but also of topping from the bottom.

She’s fucking gorgeous, and if only for this moment in time, she’s mine. I would give her anything. Do anything for her. Fucking anything.

She could destroy me.

“How are you holding up, Chopper?” she asks in that sexy, sing-songy voice of hers. Chopper… there’s that name again. I keep meaning to ask her about that.

“Fine… Mistress!” I choke, and every bit of cool I thought I had just skittered away on little mice feet. Fuck it, this woman has my body and dick at her mercy. What the fuck do I care about cool right now? She raises a knowing eyebrow at me and rolls over onto her stomach with the grace of a ballet dancer. That ass makes my dick throb painfully in this cockring, and more and more, I’m thinking that this thing will probably be a no-go.

Golden curls up onto her knees like a cat and changes position. Her bare ass framed by the golden suspender and chains with the thong disappearing into her cheeks is right in my fucking face and I just want to bite it. I groan mournfully before I can catch myself, and she chuckles a bit. I’m certain she thinks I didn’t hear her and I dare not call her on it—now or ever. I gasp when I feel her hand on the tight skin of my balls, then her mouth on the even tighter skin of my dick.

I groan deep in my chest as she takes an ample length of my cock into her mouth and ghosts her hot, moist orifice over my skin. Though I’m immobile on her sub table, the entire apparatus shakes with my desire and arousal. She repeats the motion, eliciting the same response. She does it again and again and again—the gentle ghosting all the way to the tip. It’s agony, and she knows it, because my dick is throbbing and bobbing all on its own, and this fucking cockring is killing me! I swear to God if I ever find out who created this thing, I’m going to find them and kill them with my bare hands!

I’ve seen her abilities, but to experience them firsthand is a mind trip that I can’t begin to explain. She’s flexible as fuck, because somehow, that beautiful ass is right in my face—spread out and round and begging to be fucked—and that mouth is on my dick in a soft, slow torturous stroke from base to tip, repeatedly. It’s fucking agony! The warmth of her mouth on my entire shaft, taking me almost all the way to my balls with what appears to be no gag reflex. I’m fucking dying here. And now, the sweat begins again.

Oh, fuck. No. If it goes into my eyes, I’ll be blinded, and I won’t see that beautiful ass. Shit. I’m powerless to stop it. I examine her ass as she continues to fellate me in the softest, cruelest way possible. I memorize every curve, every slope, the beauty of that thong covering the mound of her plump pussy then disappearing between two gorgeous alabaster globes. I imprint the images on my brain and close my eyes just in time to stop the sweat from stinging my pupils.

And now, the image is plastered on the back of my eyelids.

Oh, fuck, I groan inwardly as her mouth wraps around my shaft once again. With one of my senses gone and the picture of her ass firmly in my head, my dick is taking on a mind of its own. Her hot, wet mouth becomes those two beautiful globes in my mind’s eye—round and oiled—and my angry, pulsing dick is rubbing against them and between them, hard and anxious and ready to fuck. I feel the skin tighten as I grab her hips and grind my dick against and between her cheeks and she pushes back against me, beckoning me to take her, to sink into her and fuck her. I want to, but every time I try, my dick just rubs against the outer globes again. I groan and curse in frustration, the skin on my dick burning so hard that I can hear my teeth grinding.

The next thing I know, my dick slides into her… where, I don’t know… ass, pussy, I can’t tell. All I know is that it’s tight and it’s disappearing into some hole beyond those luscious globes and she’s backing that ass up onto my painfully throbbing dick over and over again. I moan in such relief and satisfaction that I feel dizzy again with the pleasure, and when I close my eyes to concentrate on my dick, I realize that is not her pussy or her ass that’s wrapped around my cock. It’s her mouth, wrapped tight around the first two or three inches or so and working feverishly on the head.

“Umph! Umph!” I grunt as I remember where I am. “Umph! Umph! Umph!” I want to swear and pray and cry and groan because she’s working my head so feverishly and masterfully that I’m certain she’ll start a fire down there.

My dick approves. It’s fucking her mouth without me being able to move my hips. I can feel the damn thing bobbing and throbbing up and down and back and forth until…

“Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Mmmmmm! Mmm! Mm! Mm! Mm!”

Release, goddammit! Release!

My dick is coming so hard in this woman’s mouth that I don’t know how she’s not being smacked by it. I feel it pulsing so hard that it’s actually bending a bit between her lips, fighting to give up its offering around this cockring.

“Mmmmmmmmmm! Mm! Mm! Mm! Mm! Mm! Mmmmmmmmmmmm!”

And now I know the purpose of the cockring. It holds back premature ejaculation and prolongs your erection, but when you finally do release, greatfuckingscottbreadandbutteronabiscuitwithcheeseandcrackersandfuckingcaviar! The table is definitely shaking now, and I could shatter this fucker to pieces! This shit will give your brain damage!

And fuckinghellonearthhadescrossingtheriverstyksinthemorning, is she swallowing? Because her mouth has not released my dick the entire time it has been bouncing, bobbing, bending, and hemorrhaging in her mouth! Son of a bitch, I need to get off this table before my dick detaches from my body and runs away whimpering in surrender.

I’m tapping out, goddammit, I’m tapping out!

I finally feel her release my dick and I don’t know what’s going on down there, but all I can say is thank God for air!


A/N: “Déjalo salir, Señora”—”Let it out, Mistress”

B&E—Breaking and entering

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

 

Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 75—Emotional Rollercoasters

I want to thank everyone that donated to my GoFundMe project and that sent me well wishes and prayers. I have to take this test on 04/21/17 and as if I’m not worried enough about the results, they keep finding more things for me to pay for. So, keep me in your prayers. 

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AND
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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 75—Emotional Rollercoasters

CHRISTIAN

“Mr. Grey, how do you feel about the verdict and the sentence?”

The Paparazzi are all over us the moment we leave the courtroom. With my hand tightly clenched to my Butterfly, I take a long, deep breath of the beautiful Seattle air and reply,

“I’m glad it’s over.”

Butterfly and I take the stairs and slide into the back of the SUV, releasing each other’s hand only long enough to secure the seat belt. We’re well on our way back to the Crossing, as I recall the morning’s events in my head.

No one else said anything. The only sound that could be heard in the courtroom is Lincoln’s quiet keening. That’s when Judge Burgess drops the boom.

“I have to say that this has been one of the most incredulous cases I’ve ever sat on, and I’ve seen more than my share. I’ve listened to the testimony, heard the verdict now entered into the court records, and reviewed the evidence in an attempt to render fair judgment in this case. When I came to the decision, I waited to see if the statements from this day would sway me in any way as each person speaking would hope would happen. I’m surprised that Mrs. Lincoln had nothing to say on her own behalf when given the opportunity, but I can only assume that she must have felt that her testimony was damaging enough.” He turns his attention to the defense table.

“Mr. Underwood, I’m not in the habit of insulting defense attorneys in my courtroom and I won’t start now. So, please, take this statement with all sincerity when I say that I have no idea what made you think you could bring that defense into this courtroom. I understand that our justice system isn’t perfect, but I hold nothing but contempt for anyone who steps into a court of law and attempts to make a blatant mockery of it. I feel like you tried to become famous on the back of your client and that if anyone else is willing to touch her after this that she has a solid case for appeal, because you didn’t defend her. I don’t know which of you came up with that cock-and-bull plea and defense, but you’ve been watching too much television and you would have done better to plead her out than to present that nonsense to this forum. Maybe you felt that you had nothing to lose, and maybe you’re right, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a worse defense in my life than I saw during this case. I hope you’re satisfied.

“In response to your statement, you have to forgive me, but I truly feel that if your client was ‘well on her way to rehabilitation’ as you so proudly proclaim that she would never have come in here and tried to insult this court into believing that after 50 years on God’s green earth, she was exempt from responsibility for the consequences of her actions. No, Mr. Underwood, I believe exactly the opposite is the case with your client, and since you have chosen to introduce the facts and sentence of a prior case into these proceedings, let me also inform you that the only sense of justice that I feel was served by that light sentence she was given for the many charges against her is the fact that the State of Washington did not have to waste money on a trial and drag the lives and suffering of many innocent people and families into the public eye. But make no mistake, sir; I may have my opinions about the prior case and I can’t do anything about that, but in terms of this case, I will not allow your flowery speech and your fancy footwork to persuade me to hand down a sentence that will set a precedence to one day allow an attempted murderer to walk free.”

Underwood looks totally deflated and although I never bring my eyes to the Pedophile, I’m sure that she feels the same way.

“Mr. Grey’s statement was profound and powerful and most likely gives voice to those who suffered in silence, didn’t speak, or no longer have a voice. While I can’t do anything about the prior sentence, and although the sentencing in this case for Mrs. Lincoln has already been decided, his words ring such truth that I can only hope he feels that some sort of justice will be served in this court today.”

Justice was served right there at that moment… when somebody heard me and acknowledged. She could get a one-day sentence for her crimes for all I care. I’d be fine from this point on.

“Will the defendant please stand for sentencing.” It was a statement, not a question. The Pedophile stands and never raises her head. “Elena Gabrielle Lincoln, having been found guilty by a jury of your peers, I hereby impose the following sentences for your crimes:

“For possession of a stolen firearm—a Class B, level V offense, I hereby sentence you to 17 months and no possibility of parole.

“For first degree assault—a Class A, level XII offense, I hereby sentence you 129 months with a deadly weapon enhancement of five years with the possibility of parole after twelve years.

“For attempted murder—first degree assault with intent to inflict great bodily harm—a Class A, level XII offense, I hereby sentence you to 129 months with a deadly weapon enhancement of five years with the possibility of parole after twelve years.

“These sentences are to be served consecutively after any other imposed sentence with no credit on this sentence for time served. You are hereby reprimanded back to the custody of the Washington Department of Corrections.”

Sweet relief… sweet, sweet relief.

“Christian! I love you! I’ll love you forever!” she wails as she’s being dragged from the courtroom. Thirty-three years total—well, thirty-two years and eleven months—served consecutively with her other sentence, which holds no possibility of parole. That means 58 years, and she has to serve 25 from the first sentence, then a year and a half from the second. Then she has to go into the third sentence and serve at least 12 years from that one, and if she just so happens to have a parole board of bumbling idiots that would parole her from that one, she would still have to serve at least 12 years of the fourth sentence. This means that if someone looked at her old decrepit ass and said, “Hey, let her out on her paroles,” she still wouldn’t have any hope of seeing the outside of prison walls until she was 99 years old. It’s all I can do not to cheer and do a fist pump when I see her disappear behind those doors, never to be heard from again.

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

Jason’s roar after we get to the bridge snaps me back to the here and now. What the hell? We just got great news—what now?

“Dammit! Thanks, Jax.” He ends the call. I’m glad Chuck is driving right now and not Jason. I didn’t even hear his phone ring. He’s dialing another number frantically and I’m waiting to find out what’s happened. “Manny, keep your eye on Tweety-Bird. The bitch made bail.”

Shit! I know what that means. Tweet-Bird must be Sophie and from the sounds of it…

“Jason?”

“Shalane made bail,” he hisses. “She put her house up and they let her ass walk.” He’s pissed.

“Sophie?” I ask.

“She’s got a detail at the school with her,” he said. “Even though I told them about the custody issue and that I’m now the parent of record, I don’t trust them not to let her take Sophie. I want to change her school, but we’re so close to the end of the school year that it wouldn’t be a good idea just yet.” We ride for a few more moments and just as we get into the gate at the Crossing, Jason gets another call.

“She did?… Good man. Maybe I’ll let her stay after all.” He speaks for a while longer, then ends the call. “She went straight from the jail to Sophie’s school. She didn’t even stop to change her clothes. Manchester headed her off, but couldn’t prevent her from going into the school. She couldn’t get Sophie, though. The school wouldn’t release her.” Jason chuckles. “She caught a cab,” he says. “She didn’t even get her car out of impound. She better spend that money wisely. She won’t be getting any more.”

When we pull into the garage, Butterfly says that she wants to go to the hospital. I debate if I want to go or not, but I think of Elliot and decide that I’ll go, too. She wants to change into something more comfortable. I’m only wearing slacks and a turtleneck, so I opt not to change. I notice that Chuck seems distracted while we’re waiting for Butterfly to change.

“You okay, Chuck?” I ask. My question brings him back from his daydream. He nods.

“Yeah,” he says. “My little catastrophes have nothing on what’s been going on in this house.”

“Little catastrophes?” I repeat. He waves me off.

“It’s nothing, really,” he says. “Joe got served with his papers from court last week. It turns out that we had to file in South Dakota, where Mom and Dad live. He’s blaming me because Mom is suing him, but what else is new?”

“Wow, he and Elena would make a great couple, don’t you think?” Chuck half-smiles. “Is that all?” Chuck shrugs.

“Keri,” he says. “She’s not doing too good. She had this cold… or at least we thought it was a cold. It hit the minute she got back to Anguilla and we thought it was just from the weather change. It held on for weeks. Now, she seems to be over it, but she sounds so weak and tired when I talk to her. I want to keep her on the phone to hear her voice, but at the same time, I want to let her go so that she can rest.”

“Do you need to go to her?” I ask. He shakes his head.

“I want to, but the babies have just been born and I can’t duck out now. Besides, I can’t fly to Anguilla every time she sneezes.” I raise my eyebrows.

“No… you can’t,” but you still look sick yourself that you can’t be with her.

“I’m fine, Christian, really. I’ll keep you posted,” he says, a bit too eager to get out of my presence. He misses her. I know he does, and the fact that she’s not well can’t be making that situation any better.


ANASTASIA

So, we finally get Sophie settled into the house and talking about things… and Shalane is trying to show up again. That has all kinds of implications. As much as Jason wants to keep her away from Sophie, that may be easier said than done.

Elliot has gone to stretch his legs. The pain and discomfort from sitting in one spot for more than 24 hours was more than he could tolerate. Christian coerced him to go for a walk the moment we got back to the hospital and I promised to stay here with Val, of course. She has no hair left. They shaved her completely bald… and I was complaining about a bald spot.

“Just have to outdo me in everything, huh?” I say. “I get in an accident and lose a patch of hair. You get a tumor and get your whole damn head shaved. You always had the coolest friends, the best clothes, the money… you were popular… but you never made me feel like less than a person, and you never let anybody else do it, either. That’s why I knew something was wrong when you changed. You were so cold. You were nothing like my sister.” I sigh.

“More than once, I wanted to find out what was wrong, but you wouldn’t let me in. You wouldn’t let me get close. But I never stopped loving you, Val. It was one of the worst break-ups of my whole life.”

I lay my head on her bed and, contemplating life with her gone and no hope of reconciliation, I weep. I weep until my chest rocks and feels like it’s going to cave in. I feel like it’s the end of the world. There’s no way that she can die without knowing how much she is truly loved. There’s no way she can die at all. It’s just… way too soon…

“There you go… with that… weeping shit again.”

A weak, barely-there voice causes me to turn my head to face her. It’s too heavy to lift off the bed, so I just lay there—still sobbing—watching her watching me. She’s watching me… am I dreaming? If I am, just let me stay here for a minute. She may say or do something sweet and if I move too suddenly, I might wake up. This may be the only way that she can reach me right now and I just want to stay here with her for a minute. But why is she still so weak? Dreams are funny things, I guess.

She raises her hand very slowly and lands it heavily on my cheek. She slightly moves her thumb in an unsuccessful attempt to wipe my tears away. It only makes me cry harder. I cover her hand with my own and turn my lips to her palm, kissing it repeatedly, just in case this is goodbye. Maybe that’s why it was so easy for Elliot to leave. Maybe she said goodbye to him, too.

Thank you, Val, wherever you are. I’ll always love you… always.

“Settle down… before you… hyper… hyper… ventilate, Steele… Grey…” she slurs. I’m trying, but it’s hard. My friend is here and I’m filled with relief, but for how long?

“You’re a terrible bitch,” I weep. “Why didn’t you tell me? Why did you go through this alone?”

“I wasn’t… alone… I had… El…”

“But you didn’t have me… or Al… or any of us… and we love you!” I snap quietly.

“I know, Steele… I just…” A single tear falls from her eye.

“I should have known,” I say, gently stroking her cheek. “None of this was like you, not in the slightest, not even on your worst day. I should have known.”

“I treated you like shit,” she protests, her voice slightly stronger.

“That’s why I should have known!” I wail. “You’ve never treated me badly. Even when I needed a smack upside the head, you were right there beside me.”

“How could you know?” she slurs. “It’s my head and I didn’t know.” I shake my head vigorously in denial… vigorously. No waking up! I’m awake! I’m awake and she’s awake! Don’t panic… don’t panic…

“I’m supposed to be your best friend. I should have known.” I squeeze her hand and kiss the back of it, my voice shaking and trying to remain calm, trying not to let her know that I thought I was talking to a figment of my imagination all this time. “Please get better soon. You have to meet your godchildren.” Her eyes become glassy and the tears fall.

“I… you ha… I’m still the godmother?” she weeps weakly.

“I couldn’t choose anybody else. It was always you.”

“Oh, Ana…” she’s weeping as much as her weakness will allow. I stand up and gently stroke her cheek.

“Ssssshhhh, relax now,” I soothe, “Don’t get upset. It’s not good for you.”

“I treated you so badly,” she sobs quietly. “I couldn’t control it. I could see it, but I couldn’t control it.”

“Ssh, no more,” I coax her as I push the call button. “It’s forgotten. It wasn’t you. I know now that it wasn’t you. When you feel like this, remember—it wasn’t you. It was the tumor, okay?”

“I’ve lost all of my friends… the people I love… my job.”

“You haven’t lost anybody, Val,” I tell her. “Look at this room. Do you think this is all Elliot?” She weakly looks around the room. “This…” I pick up a little arrangement with a tiny bear on it. “This is from Mindy. Maxie said she picked it herself… well, as much as a baby can point at a bear.” I laugh nervously and Val smiles at me. “I’m going to activate the contingency—not that I really have to. Everybody’s been here every day. Our friends will be here before day’s end. I promise.”

“Do you think so… after how badly I’ve treated everybody? Oh, my God… Al!” she laments.

“Especially Al. He’ll have a few of his choice gay words for you, but he’ll probably be here first.”

“Oh, God, how can I face him?” she weeps and I just sit on the bed and hold her hand. She’s going to beat herself up for a while over this and there’s really nothing I can do about that. I stroke her cheek with my free hand and just let her cry. There’s a commotion at the door and the nurse and a doctor comes into the room with a disheveled Elliot in tow behind them. He freezes when he clears the door.

“Angel?” I hear Elliot’s wispy voice over my shoulder.

“El,” she says longingly, her prior tears halting.

“Angel! You’re awake!” Whatever he has in his hands is now on the floor and he rushes to her beside. I quickly scramble to give him his place and he cups her face gently, kissing her several times.

“I didn’t know… I didn’t think you…” He can’t get a sentence out as his tears fall on her pillow. They need this moment, and I need to activate the contingency. I move to the door.

“Ana!” I turn around and there’s a panicked look in Val’s eyes. “Please… don’t stay away. Please come back.” I smile warmly at her.

“I will… and I’ll bring reinforcements.” She sighs sweetly and smiles before turning her attention back to an obliviously weeping Elliot. I step outside of the room to give them some privacy. Christian is standing there waiting for news.

“She’s awake,” I say, my voice barely there. His eyes grow large.

“She is?” he says and I nod. His eyes ask the question that his mouth doesn’t.

“She’s back,” I wail. He puts his hands on my upper arms.

Back back?” he asks, and all I can do is nod. “Oh, thank God,” he says, closing me in his arms. I know it’s been hard seeing me suffer all these months—even harder watching Elliot these last several days. So, I know his relief is genuine. I indulge in a relieving cry for a while, sinking into his chest while he holds me, then I pull myself together.

“I’m fine. I need to call Al,” I say. He nods and releases me with a kiss to my forehead. I dial Al as I’m walking towards the waiting room.

“Hey. What’s up, babe? I’m on my way to the hospital.”

“Well, that’s good, because you’re not going to want to miss this…”


CHRISTIAN

She looks very pale and frail when I Butterfly and I walk back into the room. We waited until the doctors and nurses left and gave us the go-ahead before we entered. Elliot is laser focused on her, so he doesn’t notice when I enter, but Valerie makes immediate eye-contact with me. She’s obviously weak and it’s hard to read her emotions right now, but she answers my question about her thoughts of my presence with two words…

“Hi, Christian.”

Her voice is so soft, so faint… I can barely hear her. I suddenly feel a twinge in my chest, like this is so serious and none of us really wants to lose her.

“Hey, Valerie,” I reply, my voice also very small. “How are you feeling?” I ask, sincerely.

“Bald,” she says, forcing a smile.

“I’m sorry,” I reply.

“Don’t be,” she says softly. “It’s for the best.”

She releases Elliot’s hand and holds her hand out to me. Her arm shaking and I know it’s hard for her to hold it up, so I don’t keep her waiting… though the gesture is more than a bit surprising. Elliot allows me to sit on the edge of her bed and I take her hand—much like she held mine when I was crying over Butterfly’s Montana sabbatical. The moment our hands touch, she starts to weep gently.

“I’m so sorry,” she squeaks, through her tears.

“Ssssshhhh,” I soothe, “None of that,” I say, caressing her hand for comfort. “I haven’t known you as long as Butterfly, and even I knew that it wasn’t you.”

“Yo… you’re a good man, Christian,” she stumbles, “A won… derful husband… to Ana and… I need you to know that… I would never… willingly treat her… that way… She’s my… Jewel… too…” She’s so overcome with emotion and weakness that she can barely speak. Butterfly immediately gets choked up, and I know that it can’t be good for Valerie to be this upset. “Please… forgive me.”

“There’s nothing to forgive,” I tell her, squeezing hand a little tighter and looking her in the eyes. “We. Know. It wasn’t. You. An intruder took you over and changed who you were, and we’ll all be by your side to chase that intruder away. Do you understand that? We’ll all be here.” I didn’t know I had closed the space between us. There’s maybe only a foot between my face and hers, and I have her hand clasped close to my chest.

That’s a first. I feel a little funny, now, but I won’t move until she understands that she’s not alone. My brother loves her; that makes her family. She’s about to go through a horrible ordeal after nearly pushing away everyone that could have walked through this with her. She needs to know that she’s not alone.

“Yes, Christian,” she says softly, her teary eyes concentrating on mine. “I understand.”

“Never alone,” I reinforce.

“Never alone,” she repeats.

“Damn straight!”

We all turn to the door to see where the added confirmation came from and find Al standing there more casual than I think I’ve ever seen him, in a T-shirt and jeans. His hair looks like mine does after a grueling day, so I know he’s been pulling it or torturing it somehow, and his eyes are bloodshot. James is standing behind him, just inside the door and I swear he looks like he’s holding Allen up.

“You bitch,” he says as the tears start to flow again. “I’m supposed to be the goddamn drama queen!”

Valerie breaks into laughter as much as her body will allow. Al breaks free from James and rushes to her bedside. Butterfly moves quickly and allows him access to their friend. She hugs him with her free arm and he kisses her repeatedly on the face and lips. I feel a small comfort knowing that he doesn’t just do that to Butterfly, but this is his family and he almost lost one of them.

“You’re a horrible human being for stealing my spotlight, but thank God that you’re back,” he weeps, holding her face in his hands.

“It’s good to be back,” she says, and the mournful tears start again. “Please, don’t ever forget that I love you…” She looks around the room at each of us. “… All of you. If this thing comes back…”

“It won’t!” Elliot says emphatically.

“But if it does,” she continues, “please don’t forget. Please don’t ever forget. I know this could kill me, but I’d die anyway if you all didn’t know how much I love you.”

You could hear hearts cracking all over the room. Each of us have had our own moments over the last several months of wondering what the hell was wrong with this woman… and each of us are feeling our own convictions now.

“We love you, too, you cow,” Al says, his voice still shaking.

“Ditto,” Butterfly squeaks.

“In my own way, I love you, too,” I confess, eliciting a small chuckle from Valerie’s throat before she turns her gaze to Elliot.

“Hey, you already know how I feel, Angel,” he says, longingly. “My life would be empty and lost without you.” The love that swells up in her eyes could chase away every ailment in her body. Part of me hopes that it will, as Elliot will be inconsolable if she doesn’t make it through this.

“And none of that dying shit,” James pipes in. “It would be a less exciting world without you, so you’re not allowed to die. You fight this thing!” She smiles weakly at James.

“Yes, sir,” she whispers.

*-*

Elliot feeds Valerie ice chips while Al and Butterfly try to catch her up on what’s been going on in the world. Al tells her all about the wedding, set to take place at our house next weekend—something intimate during a spring, sit-down party. The three of them immediately start discussing promising ideas for the wedding as well as what could be disastrous. Valerie suggests an indoor/outdoor thing since spring in Seattle is unpredictable and usually rainy.

Shortly thereafter, the rest of her friends come into the room, and the reunion of the Scooby Gang is complete, just as it should be. They talk about everything, catching Valerie up on all the things that have happened since she first blanked out, as she calls it…

The babies are here, of course. She will see them once she’s out of ICU.

I’m calling more people by their first name, including members of my staff who are now family instead of just staff.

David’s dead.

Dead dead?” she says, her eyes growing large. “Like graveyard dead?” Butterfly nods. “How the hell did that happen?”

Butterfly explains the whole thing about the crooked company, culminating with David’s “suicide.” Valerie looks a little remiss.

“He was an asshole,” she says, “but I never wished him dead.”

“Well, you’re a princess among women, because I had champagne when I heard the news,” Butterfly announces. “After everything he did to me, including handcuffing me naked to that bed and allowing that man to assault me, he’s lucky I didn’t drive to Walla Walla and spit on his remains!” And that’s the end of that conversation.

Sophie lives with us now because her mother is a drug addict that tried to sell her into slavery.

Chuck reunited with his parents and is suing his brother for a small country.

Keri was here and now she’s gone back home to Anguilla, but she’s been ill since shortly after she left and that has Chuck concerned.

While Butterfly closed her practice, Maxie is considering opening her own so that she can focus more on her family, which is timely since Phillip just got a raise and a promotion.

Sometime in the near future, we will be traveling to Italy as one of Butterfly’s push gifts was an Italian villa.

Garrett and Marilyn are pretty much the same and have no complaints. According to them, there’s enough going on in everyone else’s lives that they can just watch and be entertained.

“I need to say I’m sorry, you guys,” Valerie begins.

“Angel, no…” Elliot protests. Valerie put her hand on his bicep to silence him.

“I know, El,” she says, her voice gaining more strength, although she’s still clearly weak. “But I really have to say this. So, please, shut up and let me… I’m sick, you have to do what I say.”

The nervous chuckle that wafts through the room is more accommodating than sincere.

“If I could tell you what it was like being in this head for the last several months,” she begins. “It was like watching a terrible horror movie, only I was watching it and I was starring in it—a character in a real-life horror movie, where you can see the psychopath coming at you with the machete. You know he’s about to chop you up, but you can’t do anything about it. Then there’s the me that was in the audience, screaming at the dumb character to run out the door and down the street instead of upstairs and hiding in the attic where she was sure to meet her doom—but she couldn’t do anything but watch.

“I saw the looks on Ana’s face when I said those horrible things to her… the look of reservation at Maxie’s house when she handed Mindy off and left. That’s when I knew I had completely lost one of my best friends. It cut me to my soul, but I still couldn’t do anything about it. It was like, in my head I was saying something completely different, but when I opened my mouth and started hurling that stuff, all I could think to myself was ‘are you crazy?’

“After that, the alien just took over completely and I could do nothing but sit in the corner and watch while it pushed away everything and everyone I loved. There were moments when I came to myself and I thought I said something to let someone know what was going on in my head, but then I’d look around and I was alone—a solitude that I brought all upon myself.” She shakes her head.

“It wasn’t until El packed his things and I knew the last person that I had in the world was going to leave me that I was able to agree to see someone. Even then he had to take the reins… I still couldn’t do it. He told the doctors how I was acting and what was going on. I barely said anything.” She reaches over and takes his hand. “He saved my life. No matter what happens from here, he saved my life. He gave me back my mind… and I’ll love him forever for it.” She gazes into his eyes. “I want to spend my life with you, Elliot,” she says, her voice shaking. “Please don’t ever leave me.”

“Not a chance in hell,” he says, kissing the back of her hand. She smiles weakly at him before taking a breath and releasing it.

“I know everybody had… and has their theories about what was going on with me or what I was thinking. Grace and Mia will probably never speak to me again, especially after all Elliot had already gone through with Kate…” I don’t say anything about how Mom reacted when I told her about Valerie. I figure that when she’s ready, Mom will come and talk to her. “Whatever happens, know that I’m just glad that I was able to talk to you all and say that I’m sorry for anything that I said or did to offend you. I know that it was the tumor talking, but it was still my voice and my mouth, and I’m sorry if I caused any of you pain.”

“And that’s enough of that,” I hear my mother’s voice say from the entrance to the room around the corner. She has a huge bouquet of purple and white blooms as she comes completely into view. “Well! It looks like no one invited me to the party… and there’s no room anywhere for these.” Mom scans the room for a flat surface to put her flowers.

“I got it, Mom,” Elliot says, taking the monstrous bouquet from our mother and making room for it on the windowsill, currently already full of several bouquets from the rest of us.

“Grace, they’re beautiful,” Valerie says weakly. “What are they?”

“Windflowers and peonies,” she says. “They denote health and healing.” She sits next to the bed in the chair Elliot vacated to put her flowers in the window. “My son has never been so happy and so grounded as he is when he’s with you. I secretly prayed that we would figure out what was going on, although I never prayed for anything like this. You’ve only ever been a remarkable person, especially when that wretched woman tried to lay a child at his feet that didn’t belong to him. You stood by him, became his rock… I wouldn’t have expected anything less from him during your time of need.

“I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I’m certain that you’ll make a full recovery because you’ll get the best medical care that money can buy and you’ll have all the love and support that you need until and after you are whole again. I may be speaking for everyone, but for no one more than myself, when I say that I’m so glad that you’re back.” Valerie bursts into weak tears.

“I’m glad to be back, Grace,” she weeps. “It was awful! I so sorry…” My mother moves to sit on the edge of the bed next to Valerie and cradles her while she cries.

“There, there now,” Mom says as she rocks Valerie in her arms while we all watch in silence. “You get this all out, and then there will be no more crying about this. We all understand and we’re so glad that you’re here with us. You’re going to be fine now… just fine…”

*-*

“Christian!”

My wife gasps my name as she tightens around me, my rock-hard dick buried balls deep inside of her. I clench her ass and hold her against my throbbing member as she sits on my hips having dropped her weight hard onto my pelvis and grinding deliciously on my shaft as she holds onto the headboard. Her head thrown back, her face to the ceiling, she pants and moans loudly as she trembles atop me and my balls and penis empty wildly inside of her.

“Ffffffffffuuucccckkkkkkkkk!” I hiss, squeezing her ass so hard that I’m sure there’ll be handprints when I’m done. I want to get her into that new playroom and do some kinky, freaky shit to her, but with everything going on in the last few weeks, we haven’t even been able to look at the finished product yet, let alone take it for a spin. My dick throbs harder, empties faster, and burns hotter as I contemplate the things I want to do to her in that room.

“Dammit!” I pant as she falls over on top of me, spent and sated. “Goddammit!” I grab her head with one hand and guide her lips to mine, the other still squeezing her ass as I catch my breath. “Fuck, that was good.”

“Yes… it was…” she pants between kisses, her pussy still clenching my dick. I push up into her a few more times, my dick still burning and tender inside of her. What would be discomfort to someone else turns me on and I roll my hips so that the burn intensifies inside her quivering walls.

“You feel so fucking good,” I breathe against her lips as I wind myself up for round two of mid-Saturday morning sex. We had all stayed at the hospital for quite some time last night once Valerie regained consciousness. If I’m honest, all I wanted to do after all that damn emotion in that room was come home and bury myself inside my wife—to feel her tremor and clamp around my angry dick just like she did this morning. But when we got home, the twins demanded her attention—our attention, and she was just too wiped out to do anything after caring for our babies. So, I just brought her to bed and held her until she fell asleep.

However, when I woke up with morning wood so hard that I could barely go to the restroom and piss around it, I climbed back into this bed, pushed up that night shirt, ripped those panties off, rolled that body on top of me and dropped that hot, juicy, wet pussy right down on my full-staff pole. At first, she protested, but only for a moment—only until she felt that stiff, rock-hard thickness reaching so deep into her body, pumping up into her so hard and fast that her entire body was bouncing in the air and she momentarily couldn’t speak. Then, she ripped off that nightshirt, grabbed those tits and rode like the wind!

That pussy was so hot and tight that I almost blew before she did. When that burning, agonizing, vise-grip hold became soaked, slippery, juicy goodness with her cum secreting from her walls and sliding down my dick, I fucking lost it, gladly mixing my juices with hers until we were both a slippery, sticky, gooey, hot, erotic mess grinding into each other and about to start the fire again, until…

Beeeeep…

Fuck.

“Ooooohhh,” Butterfly groans. “Ana,” she calls into the air as I continue to tease her with my stiffening dick and we wait to hear the cooing of our two little angels.

… But nothing.

“Ana,” she calls out louder, but still nothing. She partially pushes herself up and looks at me. I half roll my eyes and call into the air.

“Yes?” I call out, perturbed and angry to be interrupted.

“Sir, it’s Benjamin Lawrence. I’m just getting to the Crossing and there’s a development at the front. I tried to call J and I don’t know if he’s asleep or what…” He’s probably fucking, just like me! “… but his ex-wife is here demanding her child. She’s making a terrible scene. If he gets here, we’re going to need more reinforcements than just security.”

“Shit!” I hiss, pissed as fuck that I have to pull out of my goddamn happy place for this sad excuse of a human being at my front gate. Butterfly slowly rises off of me, recognizing the seriousness of the situation and the glide is agonizing… almost orgasm-inducing.

“Fuuuuuuccck!” I exclaim at the separation, the burn almost unbearable and only making me harder. She covers her mouth, her eyes wide.

“Sorry!” she whispers loudly as I clench my teeth and my dick throbs.

“Sir?” Lawrence beckons.

“I’m on my way, goddammit!” I hiss, my eyes squeezed tight. “End two-way…” and she grabs my dick.

“Fuck! Just leave it alone please just leave it alone!” I would fucking safeword right now if I thought it would help.

“I can’t just leave you like that,” she protests.

“We don’t have a choice—just leave it alone, please!” I beseech her.

“Sorry, sir,” bellows across the room and pisses me the fuck off.

“Fucking end two-way communications!” I belt into the air. At least his voice cured the erection.

*-*

I’m nearly too late by the time Butterfly and I are cleaned up, downstairs and outside in our portico on this brisk March morning. Gail and Sophie are standing just outside the door, Gail with her arms draped protectively over Sophie’s shoulder while Sophie clings to both of Gail’s hands with her own. Jason is already marching toward the guard house and front gate where Shalane is screeching like a banshee for Sophie to come and get in the car. I’m only lucky that the property of the Crossing is so large and somewhat obscured from prying eyes by walls, fences, and foliage, because this woman is really creating quite the scene. Butterfly stays at the door with Gail, pulling her warm sweater around her while I quickly fall in step behind Jason. He’s likely to kill this woman once he reaches her.

“Open the goddamn gate!” I hear him hiss.

“No, don’t,” I say to Williams in the guard’s booth. Lawrence is still on the other side of the gate with Shalane. “She’s unstable enough to drive that car through here if you open that gate,” I tell Jason. He narrows his eyes—not in defiance, but in anger. I think he was getting laid. We both look like angry bears right now.

“Just enough for a person,” he hisses, and the gate opens enough for him and I to walk out. I won’t let him talk to her alone. He might kill her.

“So now you need a bodyguard, Mr. Taylor?” His spiteful ex shoots as we walk through the gates.

“No, but you might,” I say before I can catch myself. I have no love lost for this classless, snippy, drug-addict little… “I’m here for your protection.” She fixes her mouth for a comeback, but Jason beats her to it.

“You’re trespassing and you need to leave,” Jason says quietly. “You can’t see Sophie at all. I don’t want you anywhere near my daughter.”

Your daughter?” she laughs haughtily. “Have you forgotten?” Shalane taunts, attempting to pull a trump card that she thinks she still has. “I’m her mother and I have a court order that says I have custody of her.”

“Not anymore you don’t,” Jason says, holding up the order from the judge. “This is a court order placing Sophie temporarily in my custody until the custody hearing. You can only have preauthorized and supervised visitation with her. If you show up any other time without invitation, I will have you thrown off the premises and arrested. If you continue to call my phone like a crackhead looking for her next fix, I will get a restraining order against you for harassment. If you show up at my daughter’s school, at practice, or at any of her extracurricular activities, I will have you arrested for violating a court order. But you know what?” He leans in closer to her.

“Let me make this perfectly clear to you so that there’s no misunderstanding. You. Will not. See Sophie until I say so, and right now, I say ‘no.’” She’s panicking, already shaking from what appears to be withdrawal. I can see her mind racing for a comeback.

“You can’t keep me from seeing her,” she says shakily. “You said that document at least says that I can have visitation.”

“It does,” he says calmly. “Preauthorized and supervised visitation, but I don’t see any time in my immediate schedule to preauthorize visitation for you. I’ll let you know.”

Shalane is seething. She appears to be losing every bit of her grip on reality.

“You can’t do that to me!” she screams. “You can’t keep me from my daughter!”

“You mean like the many times you kept her from me over the years?” Jason retorts. “I had reasonable visitation—not preauthorized or supervised and you wouldn’t let me see her at all! How does that feel? Not so good, does it? I would love to say that I’m doing this to get back at you, but I’m not! I’m doing this because you’re dangerous to my child!”

“You know I’d never hurt Sophie…” There’s a back and forth between them for a while and they have forgotten that other people are watching them for a moment, but out of the corner of my eye, I see a small frame walking quick time down the driveway and across the lawn towards us. Shit—Butterfly is coming to give this woman what for, no doubt. I’m surprised to see that the small form isn’t Butterfly at all.

It’s Sophie!

I’m trying to get Jason’s attention, but he’s too busy arguing with Shalane to pay me any attention. Shalane, however, stops the argument when she sees Sophie running in her direction with Gail and Butterfly running quickly behind her.

Shalane squats to scoop Sophie in a hug, but I can tell by Sophie’s expression that this isn’t going to be the tender reunion Shalane is expecting. Before any of us can stop her, before Jason even sees her, Sophie runs full speed—hands out in front of her—and slams into her mother. Totally unprepared for the blow, Shalane falls back hard on the gravel portion of the driveway. She’s stunned into silence as she scrambles into a sitting position.

“Sophia!” Jason yells, not pleased that Sophie struck her mother even though she may have deserved it. “What are you doing?”

“Really, Mom? Really?” Sophie is screaming, tears streaming down her face, fury in her voice and posture. “You were going to let those guys take me? You were really going to let them take me, Mom? Really?” She kicks the gravel onto Shalane lap as Jason tries to stop her. When that’s not enough, she takes handfuls of it and throws it at her mother, yelling insults about her being a drug addict that hates her daughter and was about to sell her off for a fix.

“All this time, I listened to you blame Daddy and I never understood why,” she cries as Jason finally restrains her, keeping her from hurling rocks at her mother. “He would never say anything bad about you except that you wouldn’t let me see him, but you called him all kinds of terrible names and told me that he didn’t have time for me. It was all lies. I know it was now. I see how he and Miss Gail live. He’s got plenty of time for me!”

“Sophie, I’m…” Shalane is broken, still sitting on the ground and now, crying.

“No!” Sophie interrupts, no longer flailing in her father’s arms. The fight is gone out of her, but she has a lot to say. “You spent all the money on drugs. You lied to me about my father. When there was nothing left, you were willing to give me away!” Sophie accuses, sobbing. “You took everything he ever gave me, and when you were about to go to jail, you wouldn’t even let him come and save me!” Her cries are mournful now. She truly doesn’t want to fight anymore. “You tried and tried to make me believe that Daddy was the bad guy when all this time… the bad guy was you.”

Jason’s grip drops from his daughter. He’s anguished seeing her hurt like this.

“Sophie, no,” Shalane says, weeping sincere tears at her daughter’s accusations. Sophie pushes her again—one last time.

“Go away, Mom,” she weeps bitterly. “Go away!” Sophie launches herself into Jason’s arms, squeezing him around his neck like she’s drowning and he’s the lifeboat.

“Don’t cry, Baby Boo,” he says, stroking Sophie’s bright blonde hair, trying to calm her, but Sophie is inconsolable. “I want you to go with Gail, okay? I need to take care of this. I’ll be in shortly. I promise.” She nods, still weeping and releases his neck. He kisses her on the cheek and hands her off to Gail, who takes her hand and she and Butterfly lead a heartbroken Sophie back to the house. He turns back to Shalane.

“You heard her… go away,” he says flatly. Shalane gawks gaped-mouthed up at him, still sitting in the gravel of the driveway.

“I bet you wish I were dead, now, don’t you?” he adds and she pales. She finally stands and attempts to straighten her clothes.

“I only told them that because I thought they would let me go,” she defends. “I thought they wouldn’t lock me up if they thought that I was all Sophie had.”

“That’s bullshit and you know it!” Jason retorts, no longer willing to be any kind of civil with this woman, for lack of a better word. “You didn’t want me to know what was going on! What the hell did you really think was going to happen? You were moving four kilos of cocaine with a 12-year-old girl in the car and then you tried to trade her to those fuckers! What the hell is wrong with you?”

“I wasn’t trying to trade her!” Shalane lies.

“Well, tell me, what the hell was it? Why the hell did she have to tell you that she wasn’t going with those assholes?” Jason retorts.

“She misunderstood!” Shalane cries.

“Well, she misunderstood the fuck out of that conversation then!” Jason hisses. “But I didn’t! And neither did the shrink she spoke to… or the police! And neither will the judge in family court!” Shalane’s face pales. She can’t talk her way out of this and she knows it.

“What you do with your own life, I couldn’t care less. But when it comes to Sophie, you fucking have to deal with me! You’ve been doing your very best for the last seven years to erase me from her life, and you’ve failed miserably, but now this? I shudder to think what could have happened to our daughter on a goddamn drug drop if the police hadn’t shown up, let alone with you trying to sell her into human slavery for your goddamn drug habit!” He is seething, so much that Williams has placed himself in position to intervene should he lunge at this sorry excuse of a woman.

“Getting caught was the best thing that could have happened to both of you,” he continues. “My guess is that your dumb ass was an offering from the fucker that sent you out there, and you took our daughter with you—for leverage, no doubt! Then you don’t have the good sense to call me when you get caught. I might have been able to help you in all of this, but no, you tell the authorities and Child Protective Services that I’m dead! If I hadn’t already filed a case, my daughter would be down at Spruce Street right now, and that would have been just fine with you, wouldn’t it, you contemptible bitch? Anywhere’s better than being with me, right? Her loving and devoted father who continued to pay you alimony and child support? Even paying for her to attend an exclusive private school while you continuously found ways to deny my court-ordered visitation because you were the cheating slut who couldn’t keep her legs closed! Anywhere but with me, where she could discover just how much of a lying, conniving, sniveling, greedy little bitch you really are!” Her face is now showing signs of fight and insult.

“You don’t have the…” she begins.

“SHUT! UP!” Jason growls. Williams steps forward and puts his arm between them, unsuccessfully trying to push Jason away from his ex-wife while whispering, “J, chill.”

“You have nothing to say to me!” he continues. “You put my daughter’s life in danger and then you tried to prevent me from saving her! She was traumatized. She was weeping when I got there. I don’t know if you’re going to get off on the drug charges, but now, there are separate charges against you for child endangerment. Did you know that?” Her expression says that she did.

“I knew you had bats in your fucking belfry, but I didn’t know that you were that goddamn crazy! You don’t get to see her unless she asks for you. Don’t you dare fucking call me. I’ll call you when she wants you. Unlike you, I won’t keep her from you if that’s what she wants, but she has to say so and I won’t force her. And if you get the bright idea to just take her from any location where she may be, not only will there be an arrest warrant issued for you for kidnapping, but there’s nowhere in the world that you’ll be able to hide from me. I will hunt you down like the filthy dog that you are and believe me, lady, I will find you. I’ve found people in witness protection. Finding your ass won’t be any harder than ‘Where’s Waldo.’”

His voice is menacing when he talks to her. She was married to him once and I’m sure she believes him when he says these things. She had better—I’ve seen him find someone in witness protection. She could treat him any way she wanted when she had Sophie. She doesn’t have Sophie anymore.

“Now get your ass away from this property, you selfish, treacherous cunt!” I know this conversation is over, so I step in before she tries to poke the monster anymore.

“You need to leave,” I tell her, stepping close to her and pointing to her car.

“He can’t just…” she begins, her voice desperate. As much as Jason doesn’t want to hear anything this woman has to say, I want to hear even less.

“Ms. Deleroy!” I declare in the sharpest, loudest Dom voice I can muster, “Leave! Now!” She shrinks back and gasps at the sound of my voice, frightened and whimpering as she scurries to her car, gets in, and makes a U-turn in the driveway to enable a hasty retreat, taking out part of the landscaping and three of the lane lights on her way out. I look at Williams who is still holding Jason.

“I’ll make the call and get it repaired, sir,” he says. I nod and put my hand on Jason’s shoulder and Williams releases him. He looks over at me, his eyes still fiery and menacing. They don’t scare me, though.

“Come on,” I say, gesturing with my head to the house. “We have families waiting for us.” That breaks his angry resolve. He looks one more time in the direction that his ex-wife traveled, then turns and walks with me back towards the house, towards our wives and children.

*-*

My wife looks adorable cooing at our daughter while our son is in his seat nearby and Sophie looks on, starry-eyed and content, like the horrible incidents of just an hour ago never even happened.

“So,” I begin, “your apartment only has one bedroom. Sophie can’t stay there. So, what are you thinking—maybe the other one-bedroom suite next to you guys? Do you think she’s old enough to stay in there alone? Or would you feel better with her in one of the guest rooms upstairs on the second floor?” Jason gazes at me for a moment.

“I don’t have custody, yet, Christian,” he says. “We might be jumping the gun.” I wave him off.

“No judge in his or her right mind would place Sophie back with her mother. And even if they tried, Sophie would protest… and win! Look at the comparison! Huge mansion on Mercer Island where father and stepmom are live-in employees and stepmom is at the residence all day as nanny for twins or… drugged-out mother living alone who disappears for several days at a time who took her daughter on a drug bust and then tried to use that daughter as a bargaining chip. Was arrested and almost let the child go to a group home, then had to put her house up as collateral for bail. Oh, did I mention that she’s been charged with crimes in relation to the drugs for which she has not been tried which means Sophie will most likely have to find someplace to live anyway. Yeah, I can so see a judge deciding that sending Sophie back to Shalane is in the best interest of the child,” I finish sarcastically.

“Okay, okay, I get the point,” Jason says. “It’s just that I never dreamed that I would ever be in this situation where I would be able to have custody of Sophie without the bitch dying, that’s all. It’s so surreal!” I nod.

“So, I think it’s time we start making preparations to have a teenager around the house.” Jason scrubs the back of his neck.

“Yeah, she’s going to be thirteen really soon,” he says. “So, what do we do?”

“I don’t know,” I tell him. “I’ve never had a teenager around the house.” He shrugs.

“Sophie’s so smart,” he says. “She’s wise beyond her years. She’s tried to hold on to her childhood, but things just keep happening and then she has to be an adult. She’s too young for that. I want to have some of her childhood, but for other parts of it, I know it’s too late.” He sighs. “I’m trying my best not to hate Shalane. She kept Sophie from me for so many years. All that time I could have been spending with her… as it was, our time together was like stolen moments. I was only able to spend time with her when it somehow served Shalane. Now, she’s going to be here full time and I don’t know what to do.”

“Well, this is the point where you have to take advantage of your resources,” I tell him. “You have a pediatrician who adopted three children at varying ages and raised them to adults at your fingertips. I’m sure she’d be more than happy to help you with what you should expect from Sophie in the coming days, weeks, and years. In addition, you live with a shrink.” He looks at me, blinking.

“I couldn’t see Ana professionally,” he says. “She’s too much like a daughter to me. I know I’m not that much older than her, but… you just can’t help how you feel.”

“So?” I say. “Does that mean that you don’t value her opinion? Let’s not forget that she’s the one who inadvertently discovered what Shalane was planning with Sophie and got Sophie to tell you and the police.”

“It’s not that, it’s just…” His sentence trails off.

“Use your resources, man. And if not, go talk to a child psychologist somewhere. Waste good money when you’ve got one of the best head doctors in the greater Seattle area living under the same roof as you.” I shrug.

“You’re biased,” he teases.

“You’re right. I am… and it’s absolutely true. How many lives have you watched that woman put back together again, including her own?” He ponders the thought as he looks over at Sophie and Butterfly and the fact that Sophie truly appears to be unscathed at the moment no matter how traumatizing the entire experience has been—and will be—for her.

“And again, you’ve made your point,” Jason says.

*-*

“Please… oh, God, please!”

Her hands are bound above her head, the restraints on each wrist attached to the opposite leg of the bed.

I’ve tormented her for several minutes with soft licking and sucking of her clit while her legs are tied open—her thighs restrained wide to the bed frame. I hold that delicious pussy open with my fingers—sometimes one side with one finger, sometimes both sides with my index and middle finger—just enough space to allow my tongue to get in there and torment those lips, the sides of her clit, the hood and the raw, sensitive underside over and over again, creating that intense burn that never goes away until she’s sated… gently tasting, licking and teasing with just enough moisture on my tongue to give her the slightly rough, gravelly feeling against that precious bundle of nerves and the soft, slick burn that edges her into insanity and keeps her right on the edge of orgasm until I want her to come. She’s blindfolded and the way her arms are bound, crisscrossed over her head, they press against the sides of her head, too, blocking her ability to hear.

I press down on the mountain of flesh right at the top of her slit… her Mons Venus… and it becomes firm and starts to pulse—hard—under my hand. Her orgasm is right there, violent, powerful and waiting. It only takes one never ender circle of the slightest increased pressure against her clit to…

“Oh, Goooooooooooooooood!” she wails, the Mons under my hand contracting hard and violently as this orgasm ripples through her, ripping her apart. I continue the circular pressure and she continues to wail, attempting to writhe, completely at my mercy. Only when there’s the slightest cessation of the bunched muscles under my palm do I stop my massage and quickly position my painfully aching and anxious cock at her opening. She’s still panting, still coming, still contracting underneath me.

Holding her hips down with both hands, immobilizing her, I push deep into her still quivering pussy.

“Fuuucckk!” I hiss as her pulsing walls and lips kiss and suck me deep. “Fuck, fuck, fuck…” I move my hips slowly, rhythmically, rolling our pelvises together and my dick inside along, around and against her walls at the same time, my full weight pushing down on my hands and her hips so that she can’t move a muscle. The feeling is agonizingly good—a truly deliciously painful burn, and I move slow and deep, so, so slow… deep grinding circles that have me shaking almost in no time.

“God, help me!” she chokes, her upper body trembling as her lower body has absolutely no purchase to move. God, she is so tight! I fight to keep my thumping, growing dick rolling, stroking, burning, slowly—so slowly, deep in that pussy.

“Fucking hell!” I hiss, stretching my tongue out of my mouth as I watch my dick, shiny and wet, slide in and out of this wet, shaved pussy, a ring of white cream being spread back and forth over my dick with every stroke, her arousal anointing me more and more with each push and pull, each in and out, and those pussy lips wrapping around my goddamn cock our juices mixing as I know I’m contributing precum to this delicious, hot, slick, silky mix.

“Fuck, baby!” I say, damn near drooling as I watch and feel the burn, the stroke, the blinding pleasure of our joining. “This shit is sexy as fuck!” I roll my hips so that the head hits each wall on the in-stroke. “Oh, God…” I groan as I almost lose it to the pleasure.

“Christian…” she wheezes, “Christian… God…”

I’ve got her now. Her pussy lips are hot… pink… wet… pulsing. Her mouth is open and she’s panting… lost in a world of passion and mindless ecstasy. I’ve hit that sweet spot and with her legs spread open and her hips held down, she’s at my mercy. She can’t do anything but absorb the pleasure.

“Yes, baby,” I coax as I roll my hips again, trying to block out the burning in my balls signaling my pending orgasm until I can get one more from her… one more fiery release. “I got you, baby. That’s it. Feel it, baby. I know you feel it. Shit, it feels so good… so hot and sweet and wet…”

She starts to tremble and pant, making no sound now, her body twitching uncontrollably… where she can move, that is.

That’s it, baby. Take it all…

I feel her pulsing, contracting, and though she’s silent and I have no idea if she’s coming or not, the feeling is so good—her tightening and throbbing and burning around me—that I can’t stand it anymore. I groan deep in my chest and bury myself hard inside her pussy, grinding so deep in that short, hard, inward and upward stroke against her that my body bows and arches backwards painfully. My jaws tighten so that my face actually hurts and my body stiffens so that my arms tremble from trying to support my weight as I push into her, grind into her, throb into her, empty painfully into her.

I hold my breath as this orgasm grasps my pelvis and holds me immobile with Nirvanic bliss. She pulses and tightens madly, milking and sucking every bit of nectar from my loins. When I finally release my breath and I’m able to move from the two massive hands that had my entire body in a choke hold, I look down at my wife—covered in a thick coating of sweat, gasping gently for air from her parted lips. Her chest rises and falls quickly, showcasing her gorgeous round breast and beautiful, taut nipples super-pink and pebbled from her intense arousal and orgasm, involuntarily spilling life’s milk down the sides of her mounds. I’m weak from the force of my orgasm… and my love for her, my awe at how beautiful she is in her ecstasy right now and how I want to kiss her and love her all over.

Still nestled between her legs, still cuddled in her sex, I release the restraints that hold her legs open. I rest my weight on her… still weak, sated… I release her wrist restraints and remove her blindfold. I gently lick the milk on the side of her breast that has escaped from her nipple. She doesn’t open her eyes. She’s too weak. I roll her over on top of me, her hair splayed over the back of her body. She releases a long breath and in seconds, she’s asleep on my chest. The weight of her body is so comforting atop mine that I don’t think I could count the breaths before I’m slumbering with her.


A/N: Eight more to go…

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

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Love and handcuffs  
Lynn X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 74—Opening Up

Thanks, you guys for your reactions to the last chapter. I want to apologize if I brought back too many bad memories for other people like myself who have suffered something similar with a loved one, but I thank you guys too for sharing your experiences with me.

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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 74—Opening Up

ANASTASIA

It’s just after dawn when Al and I get to the hospital after having spent the night on the sofa in the entertainment room. I’ve had a quick shower and a change of clothes, but by no means do I feel refreshed. Al has changed into some jeans and a sweatshirt he left at the Crossing the last time he and James spent the night. James dropped us off and went home to shower and change.

Elliot is asleep in the chair next to Valerie, holding her hand, as usual. Christian is on the loveseat at the foot of the bed, slumped down with his legs stretched out in front of him and crossed at the ankles, his fingers intertwined on his stomach. His neck is going to be killing him when he wakes. Valerie is still in the same position she was when I last saw her. Al walks over to her and stands next to her bed. He sighs heavily as he looks down on her motionless frame, a small whimper escaping from his mouth.

“Hi, Ice Pussy,” he says, his voice cracking as he leans down and kisses her gently on the cheek. “This is really fucked up, you know that?” he whispers. “You don’t get to die, so you bring your irritable, disagreeable ass back here… do you hear me?” On the last word, he sinks down into the chair on the opposite side of Elliot and begins to weep.

I walk over to Christian and gently stroke his hair. His eyes open slowly and it takes him a moment to focus where he is and what he’s seeing.

“Hi,” he says softly.

“Hi,” I reply. “No change, huh?” He shakes his head.

“I needed to see him last night… to make sure he’s okay. I hope you didn’t mind.” I frown.

“Of course, I didn’t mind, Christian. Why would you think that?” I continue to stroke his hair as he attempts to sit up. He winces, and I know immediately that his neck is in pain. I climb on the back of the loveseat. “Sit up,” I instruct him. He painfully pulls himself into a sitting position and I begin to work the kinks out of his neck and shoulders. He moans in appreciation.

“God, that feels good,” he groans.

“Don’t change the subject,” I chide gently as I continue to massage his neck and shoulders, paying attention to areas of high tension and pressure points. “Why did you think I would mind?”

“Because you were in bad shape, too,” he says, “And I felt funny leaving you.”

“Oh… okay, I guess I can understand that. But he’s your brother, Christian. I would have to be a really selfish bitch to take issue with you wanting to be with your brother while he’s hurting.” He nods.

“That’s why I love you,” he says. “You were so broken up about Valerie that you and Al could hardly speak. Yet, as badly as you felt, you still understood that I had to be with my brother. He needed me. He still needs me.”

“I know,” I say. “Do whatever you need to do. I completely understand.” I look over at the motionless Valerie. “I would give anything right now for her to sit up and call me a fat cow, start cursing me out… anything.” I don’t want to cry again. There will be plenty of that to come if she doesn’t wake up soon. I love her so, so much. I can’t believe this is happening.

I take a moment to examine the room. It’s pretty sparse except for a beautiful bouquet of flowers, no doubt from Elliot. That’s very significant in light of things right now. Valerie is quite popular at her job—at least she was before the tumor. And there’s no way I would have let her go through this alone—none of us would have, no way in hell.

Elliot raises his head and shows signs of the same discomfort Christian did moments before. He has to focus on the crying figure on the other side of the bed before he clearly recognizes who it is.

“Al?” he says, his voice hoarse, barely there. Al turns to look at him.

“Hey, Elliot,” Al says, shakily. “Tell me what happened… please.” I can imagine that Elliot doesn’t really want to talk about it, but he does anyway, because he’s the only one who knows. I listen carefully because I don’t want him to have to repeat the story.

“I knew something was wrong when they asked her to take a leave of absence from her job,” he begins. “Actually, I knew something was wrong when she first fell out with Ana, but I didn’t think anything of it. I certainly didn’t think this.”

He rubs the back of his neck and stretched his head back. I take this opportunity to shift on the sofa a bit, drawing his attention to me so that he could know that Christian and I are there. I wave and he raises his head once to gesture acknowledgement. He twists his head some more to pop his neck and continues the story.

“She would have times when she would come back to herself and she would know what she did. You would even see remorse in her eyes. It could be a flash or maybe last for a few minutes, but I would see it and know that even if just for a moment, she was the same old Val again. She would get this sad look on her face like she couldn’t believe what was happening at that moment, but it wouldn’t last.

“She was losing all her friends. Nobody wanted to be around her. I tried to stick it out, I really tried. I moved out of my own apartment three times…” I didn’t know that. “… But I always just came right back. New Year’s Eve when I showed up at Christian’s, she thought I had moved out because I never stayed away all night until that night. I just didn’t feel like going back. I’m not sure that I would have had she not come looking for me. We argued that night because I couldn’t come and see my brother and sister without her giving me shit about it. She was actually making me choose between her and my family, and I was sick of it.

“It got to a point where we were arguing all the time about stupid shit at least once a week. When her job told her to take the leave of absence, she was home all the time, so it became every day. If the wind blew the wrong way, she turned into Mrs. Hyde and lashed out at me. I got to the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore. I told her that I was really leaving, because I couldn’t take her attitude anymore.

“She got better for a while and she was really trying, I know she was, but you know how you can tell something’s forced and unnatural. She made me feel like she didn’t want me; didn’t want to be nice to me. We weren’t even making love anymore. She started getting sick all the time… I thought she was pregnant. I could have dealt with that, but her erratic behavior would have made her at least six months pregnant, and she wasn’t showing. She took a pregnancy test to be sure, but it was negative, of course.”

He takes a break and rubs his eyes, breathing in deeply and letting it out heavily. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell that he’s getting to the hard part.

“Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I gave her an ultimatum. Go see a doctor, go see a shrink, or we’re over. I was done. She didn’t believe me because I had made the threat so many times before and never made good on it. Hell, I didn’t believe me, but I had to decide if I was going to live like this forever. I knew I couldn’t… I’d only end up hating her. So, I packed everything I owned. My apartment still looks like I’m moving because I haven’t unpacked. I began putting my things in storage and I let her see the receipt to the storage facility so that she could know that I wasn’t kidding. I meant it this time. I was leaving. She could have the apartment and I would just leave. I even let Christian know. I was going to ask if he would let me crash in one of his guest rooms until and if she left. If she didn’t leave, I was just going to find another place. I actually mentioned it to Christian before they went on vacation.”

I lean down and look at Christian over his shoulder. He nods.

“She begrudgingly decided to see a medical doctor first, to make sure that the situation wasn’t physical ailment. Once and if she got a clean bill of health, then she would throw herself face-first into therapy and medication, if necessary… but she never got that far.

“She had an appointment on Monday… the Monday before you guys went to Oregon. Remember, Christian? You called me to do some work—the week that guy died, the one that had to give Montana all his money…” Christian nods. “That’s why I couldn’t do the work and I sent the other guys to do it. How did it turn out, by the way? Manny said it was great and Jason signed off on it, but never saw it.”

“We haven’t seen it either,” Christian says. “We just haven’t had time. It’s been one thing after the other since we got back, but we can talk about that later.” Elliot nods and looks back at Valerie.

“Anyway, we went to the doctor. I insisted on going with her because I didn’t want her downplaying what was going on—which is exactly what she tried to do. I told her doctor every gory detail and he suggested the brain scans. He referred us to a neurologist and I know it takes forever for those guys to see you. They wanted to give us an appointment for three weeks later… that would have been tomorrow. That thing would have stayed in her head all this time. I asked if he could put a rush on it—get us in there sooner because she was about to lose everything she has left. I kind of said it jokingly, but not so jokingly. The doctor told the neurologist what was going on. He recognized the symptoms—even the fact that I was about to leave her—and got us in there in a couple of days.

“Well, when you go to the hospital for a CAT scan and an MRI and they find a tumor, they typically don’t let you leave—even more so when the tumor’s on your frontal lobe. Apparently, it affects your personality—your logic and reason. You can actually be a danger to yourself and others in extreme cases. I think she was well on her way to that if she wasn’t already there.

“When they told us what it was, we had decisions to make. The surgery…” he gestures to Val, “… as you can see, can be dangerous. He told us that there is a chance that she wouldn’t wake up; that they may not get the whole tumor; that she might wake up still the same person that she was before the surgery; that she could be a vegetable… it’s just… endless. The neurosurgeon that performed the surgery is one of the best in the country…”

“Dr. Hill?” I ask incredulously. Elliot nods.

“How did you know?” he asks. I point to the fuzzy patch on my head. He sinks in his chair a bit. “You’re shitting me…” I shake my head.

“Nope, I’m not. It’s true, though… he’s one of the best there is—in the world, actually. I don’t know how he ended up in Seattle, but I’m sure glad he did…” I look over at Valerie. “… For more reasons than one.” Elliot looks over at her.

“Well, we still had so many decisions to make,” he says. “She doesn’t talk to her family. Her father walked out when they were young. Her mother passed away. She only knows of her father because of her brother. They stayed in touch and he stayed in touch with their father. Now, she doesn’t speak to her brother because he’s a drug addict and each time he’s ever tried to contact her, it’s been for money. She says that the last time he contacted her, she told him not to call her anymore if he was only calling for money. She never heard from him again, so we don’t even know where he is. We think we know what state he’s in, but that’s it.”

“I can find her family if you want,” Christian says. Elliot shakes his head.

“She doesn’t want them to know,” he says. “She’s certain that her father wouldn’t care and her brother would only show up trying to lay claim to her personal items. I’ve violated her trust by telling you guys. She didn’t want anybody to know, and I couldn’t let her…” He chokes on his words. “… Die without you guys at least knowing what was going on. If she wakes up, she can curse me out then… but I couldn’t do it.”

“You couldn’t shoulder this by yourself either,” I protest. “Had she been in her right mind, she never would have asked you to do that.” He shrugs.

“We spent days talking and trying to decide what the best course of action was. She made me her power of attorney in case she…” He’s choking up again. “… Is unable to make decisions. I didn’t want that responsibility, but I knew I had to take it. There was nobody else. She wouldn’t let anybody near her. She… she signed a DNR…”

“Oh, my God,” I whisper and Al gasps. Christian just drops his head.

“Yeah… so, if she goes, she’s just gone… and… her advanced directive is two weeks.”

“Two weeks?!” I nearly shriek. “Two weeks is no time!”

“I know,” he says. “I had to negotiate for that. She wanted to have no heroic measures. I argued with her and told her ‘You’re going to have to have something when you come out of this or there was no use in even having the surgery,’ and I was right.” He’s talking about the tube in Valerie’s nose. “I was trying to get her to agree to sixty days. I couldn’t even get her to thirty. Two weeks was all she would acquiesce. I can’t ask for CPR. She doesn’t want to be a vegetable. She may or may not undergo the surgery again if it’s not completely successful… there was just a bunch of shit, and I couldn’t talk to anybody. She made me swear.”

Goddammit! Valerie Marshall, how could you not tell me this? How could you let me think that you were just being a jealous, hateful, spiteful bitch? Don’t you dare fucking die on me!

“Anyway, it took all this time just to get all the ducks in a row. It’s a nightmare possibly planning the end of somebody’s life—somebody you love more than anything in the world…” He looks longingly at Valerie and sighs. “So, I’m breaking all my promises and I’m calling everybody because I can’t go through this alone, and you guys need to know. If she doesn’t make it, then I’ll have you track down her father and brother. I think that’s best because she was vehement about them not knowing. I’ll call her job tomorrow and tell them what’s going on. I’ll call Mom and Mia…”

“I called Mom last night,” Christian interjects. “She said that she would tell Mia.” Elliot nods. “I activated the Contingency, too,” Christian says, looking at me. I frown. Al turns around.

“How did you do that?” Al says. He’s like the head man in charge when it comes to the Contingency, and he was with me last night.

“I called Marilyn,” he says. “She was with Garrett…”

“Ah,” Al nods acknowledgement. “Well, that’s one thing that I don’t have to do, thank God.” He turns back to Val.

“Contingency?” Elliot asks. How could he not know about this?

“Yeah,” I say. “I don’t know how you don’t know about this because you really need to. The Contingency is something that came about when Edward kidnapped me. Nobody knew that I was gone for a full 24 hours. Christian thought I was back at my condo brooding and crying on Al’s shoulder. Al thought I was with Christian. I could have been chopped up in a ditch somewhere and nobody would have known.”

“Babyyy…” Christian whines the last syllable. It’s a thought he doesn’t want to contemplate.

“Sorry,” I continue. “Anyway, when we realized that the lines of communication were so poor and no one knew that I was missing, we came up with the Contingency. This wasn’t an issue before I met Christian because I didn’t have a boyfriend, so I was always in touch with Val or Al. Gary always talked to one or all of us every day, and Maxie and Phil are a couple. So, somebody was always talking to somebody else.

“Right around the time that I started seeing Christian, I was the last person to get ‘hooked up.’ Well, actually, I wasn’t, but everyone else had been actively seeing someone on and off on a regular basis except for me. So, you know that new relationship thing… you might end up MIA for a while. That’s what happened, only I ended up really MIA and nobody knew. The Contingency is a phone tree. All of us and our significant others are supposed to be on that phone tree—you included,” I say to Elliot. “If someone is missing off the phone tree or if there’s an emergency and we need to tell each other, we activate the Contingency.”

“So… if significant others are supposed to be in the loop, why was Al so surprised just a minute ago that Christian had activated the Contingency?” Elliot asks.

“It’s just semantics,” I say. “The Contingency is set up such that Al and I are first point of contact. If Al gets the news first, he calls me and Val. Val calls Gary and Max. Max tells Phil because they’re together. You’re on the Contingency because you’re with Val and you get notified by association, like Phil does. Same thing with Christian and James. However, if there’s a link missing out of there, then the Contingency gets skewed. Whoever has the emergency or the information activates the Contingency up and down the tree like I just mentioned. If I’m incapacitated, Christian would contact Al, and he would activate the Contingency. If Al or Val is incapacitated, James or you would contact me or Christian or whoever wasn’t incapacitated in that trifecta and… you get the drill.

“Last night, the two people who would normally activate the Contingency were curled up into each other and pretty much basket cases. So, Christian just got the news to anyone that he could inside the Contingency. That’s how we stay informed.”

“Pretty elaborate set-up,” Elliot says, trying to make light of the situation, but unable to laugh.

“Yeah, I guess so,” I say, sympathetically. He sighs.

“Well, I guess I’ve pretty much brought you up to date,” he says solemnly. “If I can think of anything else, I let you guys know.”

We all sit there in contemplative silence for several moments. After a while—I don’t know how long—Grace walks into the room in her scrubs.

“Mommy…” Grace crosses the room to her eldest son and Elliot is immediately reduced to a toddler, weeping into Grace’s bosom as she holds him close to her… something I’ve never seen. Grace just strokes his blonde hair, whispering soft words of comfort to him as he sobs. Al is overcome by the emotion and can’t sit still. He excuses himself and leaves the room.

“Come on, Elliot,” Grace says, “let’s go get some coffee and you can bring me up to date.” Oh, boy. Christian stands.

“I’ll bring you up to date, Mom,” Christian says.

“Oh! Christian! I didn’t even see you there. Hello, Darling. Ana,” she says with as much warmth as she can muster under the circumstances. I smile warmly at her. “I’ve spoken to Dr. Hill,” she says to Elliot. “He says her condition hasn’t worsened. That’s good news.”

“But it… hasn’t gotten any better… either, Mom,” Elliot says between shuddering breaths.

“I know,” she acknowledges, “but in these situations, it’s good to know that it hasn’t deteriorated. That means she holding her own, and we just have to pray that she’ll get stronger.” Elliot nods. “Come on, coffee.”

“I don’t want to leave her,” he protests.

“I know exactly how you feel, man,” Christian says, putting his hand on his brother’s shoulder. “But just a few minutes not in these four walls, okay? Let’s go get a little fresh air and you can come right back.” Elliot nods reluctantly and looks at me.

“I’ll stay with her,” I reassure him. Christian helps him out of the seat he had been sitting in all night. As soon as Grace and Christian help him from the room. I sit in the chair assuming Elliot’s vigil position.

I stroke her hand and think about the many crazy times that we’ve had… and the not so crazy times…

“I thought you said you didn’t date.” Val drops her backpack on the floor and heads to the kitchen with the few grocery bags she was carrying.

“I didn’t say that I don’t date. I said I’m not interested. Val, this is Al. Al, Val. The best description I can give you is ‘brother.’” Al is studying for pre-law finals and writing his essays for law school while I’m doing the same muckity-muck work trying to decide what my major is going to be.

“Oh, stuck in the friend zone, are you?” Val says, placing beers and some fresh fruit in the refrigerator.

“Yeah,” Al retorts, “more like best friend zone.” His voice is protective and a bit catty, something that doesn’t get past Val. She pauses for a moment, then continues what she was doing.

“Hmm, best friend. I stand corrected. He’s graduating,” she quips sarcastically. Al throws an inquisitive look at me, and I just shrug. I don’t know what her motives are. Not to be outdone, Al turns his attention to Val.

“Graduating in what way?” he asks. She throws a furtive smirk at him.

“You don’t know? Poor guy,” she chuckles, placing something in the cupboard.

“No, I don’t know,” he says, standing and crossing his arms, “so why don’t you enlighten me?” Apparently not one to back down from a challenge, Val turns her attention to Al.

“Oh, it’s just been my experience that guys stuck in the friend zone don’t mind hanging out there for a while so they can get all the juicy tidbits of her life, be the shoulder that she cries on, learn all of her deep, dark secrets so they can use the information to get in her pants one day.” Al scoffs at her. He’s finally taken all he’s going to take from this chick.

“Good God, who froze your clit?” he shoots, and I nearly choke on my cranberry juice and sparkling water. “Let me clarify something for you, princess. I’ve been in the friend zone—the best friend zone—for five years, and I do plan on staying there for the rest of her life. So, yes, you’re absolutely right. I do get all the juicy tidbits. I am the shoulder she cries on, and I fucking already know all her deep, dark secrets… more than you ever will. So whatever bug or contaminated semen has crawled up your ass or down your throat, you need to go take a douche and a gargle and leave a real one alone. And as far as getting in her pants is concerned, I don’t think my boyfriends would like that very much!” Al quickly stacks his many books, loads his messenger bag and shrugs into his coat. Gathering his things, he turns to face me. “We can hang out and study or whatever when Ice Pussy ain’t around!” he snaps as he brushes out the door, leaving it open as his hands are full.

Val is absolutely stunned. I don’t know if it was the dressing down that she just got or the fact that Al just revealed that he’s gay, but she’s speechless—gape-mouthed and all, and I’m furious!

“I don’t treat your company like that! Why did you talk to my friend that way?” I bark, while snatching my coat.

“I… didn’t know,” she excuses. “You know guys…”

“I. Said. Brother! That should have been a clue for you!” I shrug into my coat.

“Well, I didn’t say anything that bad. So I was mistaken; he was just being sensitive!” she defends.

“He wasn’t sensitive!” I retort. “You were RUDE! And if he was someone trying to get into my pants, that was still none of your goddamn business! Don’t you ever speak to my guests like that again—especially him, and if you have a problem with that demand, I’ll pack my shit and be out of here tomorrow!” I leave the apartment, slamming the door behind me to go and smooth things over with my best friend.

“You always had a way of making an impact on whoever you met,” I say, still gently stroking her hand. “I remember Al didn’t come around for the rest of the school year—not like he could. He got into law school the next semester and just didn’t have time.”

I want to see some kind of flicker… a twitch of her finger, her pupils move under her eyelids, some form of life—that she’s coming back to us, but I get nothing. Two days… twelve left… if she doesn’t wake up…

“It can’t end like this! It’s too soon! We’re just getting started. You haven’t even met the twins yet. We have to pick a new house for you and Elliot. There’s too much left to do…”

I’m startled by a gentle knock on the door and the nurse comes into the room.

“I’m sorry to disturb you. I just want to check her vital signs,” she says.

“Oh… yes, by all means. Should I move?” I say, making to stand.

“No, you’re fine. I can work around you,” she says with a gentle smile as she goes about the business of marking down Val’s vitals. “Are you her sister?” she asks.

“No,” I say. “She doesn’t have a sister.” She frowns.

“That’s odd,” she says, shaking her head and she makes a few notes in the chart. I look up at her.

“How so?”

“She was sure that she wouldn’t make it through the surgery,” the nurse says. “She’s doing much better than she thought she would, but she wouldn’t allow us to put her under until we promised to give her sister a message.” Now, I frown.

“Could it have been the meds? Or the tumor?” I ask. She shrugs.

“The tumor can cause many things—erratic behavior, even hallucinations, but it wouldn’t cause her to conjure up a sister she never had.” I shake my head, thoroughly confused, but more certain than ever that Val was certainly not herself for God only knows how long.

“What was the message… if you can tell me?” I ask. She twists her lips.

“You’re certain she doesn’t have a sister?” she asks again. I sigh.

“She has a brother that she hasn’t spoken to in years. We don’t even know where he is or if he’s still alive. I’m the closest thing to a sister Valerie will ever have, except for the last few months. It’s been kind of rough.” I sigh. “Who am I kidding? It was horrible. She… wasn’t herself. I’m sure you can imagine.” Realization dawns in her eyes and she walks closer to me, holding Val’s chart close to her chest.

“Then she probably meant you,” she says, her voice softening. I swallow hard. Val is about to go under—probably for good, or at least that’s what she thought—and she has a message for me? Maybe for me?

“What’s the message?” I ask again. She reaches in her pocket.

“She made me write it down,” she says, pulling out a piece of paper. “She made me swear to read it and not mail it or hand it to… her sister, so I sure hope it’s you. I’ve been carrying it around since the surgery hoping to run into her… you…” She opens the small piece of paper and begins to read.

“Tell her that I’m sorry. Tell her that I didn’t mean it. I don’t want her to remember me the way that I was. I’m so sorry. Thank you for Elliot and thank you for Brandon. You’ll never know how much I truly love you.”

My heart aches immediately, like someone struck me full force in the chest with a blunt ax. I grab my chest in an attempt to stop the pain and bleeding, but it’s no use. I hurt. I hurt bad!

“It’s me…” I choke, my voice barely above a whisper. Brandon was that fucker in college that put his hands on her and they found his ass in Green Lake Park somewhere—naked and fucking hysterical, just like I left him. As far as I know, though, he didn’t put his hands on another woman after that.

“Are you okay, Mrs. Grey? Do you need some water or something? To lie down?” she asks concerned.

“Some water, please,” I squeak. Please don’t die, Val. Please don’t die…

*-*

Al and I try to keep ourselves occupied throughout the week with work and the plans for the party. We’re both sick that Val still hasn’t come out of her semi-coma. The doctors say that it’s not a full coma like mine was, that she can most likely hear us when we come in the room. So, I’m at the hospital every day, talking to her and telling her about what’s going on with the Center, Al’s wedding plans… and her godchildren—the two beautiful blessings waiting for her to get better and introduce herself to them properly.

Courtney has done a complete one-eighty. I don’t even recognize her. Some days, she comes in dressed in her jeans and sweatshirt so that she can interact with the kids—crawling on the floor and playing games and whatever the day or activity calls for. Other days, she’s in totally professional garb, all about business and very dedicated and focused on her tasks. She even gave the representatives from the licensing board the final tour of the facility before approval because Grace and I were at the hospital and couldn’t get back to the center soon enough. We’re hoping that this is the last round before the licenses are approved and we’ll be accredited and licensed as a learning facility and a day care center so that we’ll be able to hire the staff that we need and apply for federal funding.

Sophie is opening up to me more and becoming more accustomed to her surroundings. I want her to feel comfortable here since, if all goes as planned, this will be her new home. She’ll be a real-life Sabrina, only more a part of the family than the Fairchilds where with the Larabees. However, we had an extremely disturbing talk on Wednesday after she came home from school. Half-days at work finds me at the Crossing in the afternoons until we can find some more help for Gail, and I take this time to feel Sophie out and make her feel more at home. Jason has a temporary custody order and basically got all that he asked for until the official custody hearing, including suspension of child support pending the outcome of the custody case. Today’s conversation caused me to reach out for legal advice.

“Jewel?” he answers. “Val?”

“No,” I say, “no news yet. I’m calling you in an official capacity. I need some legal advice,” I say. “It’s a touchy topic.”

“Oh? What’s up?”

“I have a patient who has some information about the possible commission of a crime in relation to another crime. I know under normal circumstances, I need to report this to the police, but I’ve got a problem.”

“There’s no problem, here, Jewel,” Al interrupts. “When discussing the commission of a crime, a psychiatrist’s doctor/patient privilege dies…”

“Not when the proof is perspective and most likely circumstantial… and not when the patient is a minor,” I tell him. “A minor is not supposed to talk to the police or an authority figure without the presence of a parent or attorney in relation to the commission of a crime. So, she can’t collaborate what she’s heard without me talking to her father and I can’t talk to her father without breaking doctor/patient privilege.”

“Yeah, that’s a slippery slope. You actually could report the crime, but without the patient’s collaboration, it’s kind of useless… unless there’s other evidence like a body or something.”

“No, nothing like that, I think, but it could be pretty severe if an investigation is opened.”

“Then I think you should report it anyway.” I sigh heavily.

“I don’t think I can,” I say, “not without talking to the parents.”

“If you report what you know, Jewel, you’ve taken care of your legal obligation and responsibility. That’s all you have to do. Where’s the dilemma here?” My scar is beginning to throb.

“Attorney/client,” I tell him, in all seriousness. I hear some shuffling, then a door closes.

“Jewel, you don’t even have to say that and you know it. There’s no way in hell I’d ever betray your confidence.”

“Yeah, I thought I wouldn’t either, but that’s just what I’m about to do. That’s why I need this to be under attorney/client privilege because that way, I know it won’t go beyond us. When you hear what I’m about to tell you, you’re going to be tempted to spill the beans, and even though I’m bound by my oath to spill them, I know you’re bound by your oath not to—even if I told you that I murdered someone. So, I love you, Forsythe, but I’m talking to you as my lawyer and I need to hear the words.” I sighs and I can tell that he’s more than a little hurt by my mistrust.

“Fine, Jewel,” he acquiesces, “this call is under attorney/client privilege.” I swallow hard.

“I’ve been talking to Sophie, trying to help her deal with what’s going on with her mother and what she saw. Today, Sophie finally became comfortable enough to talk about the night her mother was arrested and the actual drop. Something she said didn’t ring well with me, so I kept her talking, asking the right questions and garnering details. I have a sinking feeling that if Shalane had not been arrested that night, if the cops didn’t just happen to be about to bust that place that night, we would have never seen Sophie again.” The line is quiet.

“Okay, that’s always the case in a dangerous situation, but I’m assuming you mean something else,” Al says.

“The way that Sophie explains Shalane’s conversation with four other men in the room, she was like one of the Price is Right girls, like she was displaying the merchandise, only she wasn’t talking about the coke. She was talking about Sophie.” Al gasps on the other line.

“Jewel, how can you be sure?” he asks. “That’s a really severe accusation.”

“I can’t,” I say, “but Sophie is. She felt like a piece of meat. She kept telling her mom to stop because—her words—‘I’m not staying with these guys; that’s gross!’ I don’t know if this was a one-time thing to pay off Shalane’s debts or if this is something that goes on constantly; if this was to be a temporary romp for a bunch of sick pedophiles or if we’re looking at a possible human trafficking or prostitution ring, but four kilos ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at. So, I would say that we’re probably looking at something bigger.”

“How does Sophie feel about this? About talking about it, I mean,” Al asks.

“I haven’t approached her with it yet,” I reply. “We were talking as friends, just a sounding board, as far as she knows. If I go all professional on her, I’m afraid she’ll shut down.”

“Goddammit, Jewel!” he hisses into the phone. “Why did you make me swear to attorney/client privilege? You know I hate this kind of shit!”

“That’s why,” I say. “I could see you in my mind’s eye hanging up from me and calling someone down at the precinct.”

“Somebody has to tell them!” he barks. “I could have even made an anonymous tip, something, but now—fucking hell, Jewel.” Something crashes on his end of the line, not loudly… like he knocked something off his desk. “Somebody else’s kid could be bartered off as we speak. Do you think Shalane is the only meth-head with a kid in northwest Washington? In Seattle?” He’s really not taking this news well.

“This is why I need help,” I tell him. “This situation is delicate in so many ways. Jason has to know. That woman doesn’t deserve to be within ten feet of Sophie and they should actually keep her ass in jail, but she just might make bail.” Al is huffing now.

“Talk to Sophia again,” he says, his voice controlled. He’s angry. “Tell her about how wrong what her mother did was and try to convince her to let you talk to Jason so you can go to the police. Use your many skills to convince her, but you have to convince her. You know the legal side—you knew it before you called me. You can’t tell Jason without her permission, but you have to go to the police. The minor situation is a slippery slope, without the permission of the parent, so there will be no collaboration. However, as a mental health professional, you have to alert the police of possible future crimes. Have I covered all of my bases?” He’s irritated with me, now. I need to just let him get off the phone so that he can go punch something or… something.

“Yes,” I say quietly, “yes, you have.”

“Good. Call me if you have any other questions. No doubt, I’ll see you at the hospital later.” He ends the call on that note. He’s really upset and I can understand why, but I had to get his legal opinion and he’s just going to have to choke it down. I go back to the family room where I know I’ll find Sophie. She’s watching Frozen, one of the Disney movies I haven’t had a chance to see yet. I come in right at the part where Elsa is singing “Let It Go.” Sophie obviously loves this part and sings the entire song without stopping. When it’s over, she turns a smile to me, but it soon fades.

“Is something wrong, Miss Ana?” she asks. I sigh.

“Yeah, Sophie, something is wrong.” I cross my legs lotus-style on the sofa and face her. “I need you to help me,” I tell her. “I have a very important decision to make and I’m going to take your advice.” She turns to me and crosses her legs in the same position.

“Okay,” she says. “What is it?” I take a deep breath. How do you tell a child that you think her mother may have been trying to trade her into slavery or prostitution?

“You love your mom very much, don’t you?” I ask. Her face changes, then her head drops.

“Yeah, I do, but she needs help,” she says. “She was going to give me to those guys. I know she was,” she says flatly. I gulp.

“You do?” I ask in utter surprise. She nods.

“Yeah, like people traffic… I think that’s what it’s called.” My eyes widen and after a long silence, she raises her gaze to find me gaping at her.

“Sophie,” I ask in soft disbelief, “you’re not even 13 years old yet; how do you know about that?”

“We learned something in school—it wasn’t about people traffic; it was something else. I don’t even remember what it was now. I was looking up what we learned and one site led to something else and that site led to something else, and I ended up on people traffic. That’s what happens when you spend a lot of time by yourself… with the internet.” No wonder this young girl sounds so much wiser than her years, except when she’s scared to death.

“It’s called human trafficking,” I correct her.

“Yeah, that’s it,” she nods. “They sell people into all kinds of creepy stuff and I wasn’t going with those guys. I don’t care what Mom said.” I drop my head.

“Sophie, do you really think that’s what your mom was trying to do? Because that’s what it sounds like.”

“That’s what it felt like, too,” she says. “I don’t know for sure, Miss Ana, but that’s what it felt like.” I nod.

“You know I’m a shrink, right?” I say. She laughs.

“That’s what Daddy says, but he says I can’t call you that,” she giggles. I appreciate her introducing some levity into the situation.

“Well, yeah. But, I want you to know that I’m your friend first and a shrink second, and I want you to trust me to be your friend and keep your secrets, but…”

“But you have to tell somebody about the people traf… human trafficking,” she finishes for me. I sigh.

“We don’t know that’s what it really is, but it could be, and my oath means that I have to tell somebody because it’s illegal. Plus, if that’s really what’s going on, other kids might not have gotten away.” There’s silence between us for a moment, then her eyes grow large.

“Ooooooooohhhh!” she says just over a whisper, drawing the word out. “You mean, they could really be doing human traffic with other kids like me?” Her eyes are wide with disbelief.

“Kids, women, illegal aliens… anybody,” I confirm, “we don’t know for sure, but if what you say is true, then it’s possible.”

“God, Mom,” she says in disgust and disbelief, cursing her mother about as much as a twelve-year-old can curse her mother in the presence of another adult. “So, what do we do, now?” she asks.

“That’s what I need you to tell me,” I say, putting the ball back in her court. I need her to feel like she’s making the decision. I have to tell the police no matter what, but will I have a witness when I do? She ponders the situation carefully for several moments.

“Can we tell my dad?” she asks hopefully. “He’s smart and he knows a lot. He’ll know what to do.” I’m so relieved that she looks up to Jason so much, because that’s exactly what I was hoping for.

“Yes, Sophie,” the first word comes out breathy on the wind of a huge sigh of relief. “We can definitely tell your father. I’m sure he’ll have a solution for us…”

Later that evening, Jason, Sophie and I sit in my office with Jason fighting his rage as Sophie explains to him the same thing that she told me.

“You’re getting that pulsy vein on your forehead, Dad,” Sophie points out and Jason relaxes his face.

“Sorry, Baby Boo,” he says, “it was just the thought that if she had been successful…” and the pulsy vein is back.

“Don’t worry, Dad, I wasn’t going with those guys. I remember what you taught me,” she says. On some things, she’s wiser than her years. On others, she’s naïve and untarnished, as she should be. She shouldn’t know about human trafficking at all at her age, but from what she does know, she thinks that those sold into the ring must have at some point agreed to go with their captors.

It’s very late by the time I get to the hospital as the three of us had to stop and make a bit of a police report first. Al is there when I get there. He’s quietly reading some legal brief or something to Val while Elliot sleeps on the loveseat nearby. Her room is full of flowers now, as it should be, each person dropping off another gorgeous bouquet as they visit.

“Oh, my God, Al,” I lament, “the nurse says she can hear that stuff.”

“I know, that’s why I’m reading it,” he frowns.

“Read her something interesting. We want her to wake up, not be bored to tears. Read her a romance novel, even one of the classics. If it has to be law, read her the details of She-Thing’s trial. That’s entertainment!” I scold.

“I’m hoping she’ll wake up and tell me to shut the hell up,” he admits.

“So in the meantime, you torture her? That conducive!” I turn to her sleeping frame. “Please, wake up, Val and make him shut up.” And for a moment, only a moment, I see the corners of her mouth twitch, then raise slightly. I blink a few times, to make sure I’m not seeing things, but it’s there. It’s slight, but it’s there.

“Al?” I say, pointing to her face. He turns to look at her and gasps. “I’m not seeing things, am I? It’s there…”

“It’s there, Jewel,” he whispers, staring at the slight smile that we see on Val’s face. I don’t know if I have enough time to wake Elliot, so I take a quick picture with my phone. Just after I capture it, her face relaxes back to a resting state.

“Read that goddamn brief!” I whisper to Al. “I know you can hear me,” I say to Val as I lean into her ear. “I know you can, because I could hear some things when I was under. We love you. We all love you. You have to come back. Please… I’ve missed you more than I can stand. I can’t stand it anymore. You can’t leave me. You can’t. Please, come back…”


CHRISTIAN

“I have to give her supervised visitation, but if I have my way, that bitch won’t come anywhere near my child again.”

Jason is seething when we meet him at the Crossing after visiting Valerie. I came into the room right after the doctor and nurses had gone. Valerie had cracked a small smile and was responding to stimuli. She still has to wake up in about a week, or they have to take her off the machines. As her power of attorney, Elliot is trying to fight the advanced directive, denoting that she may have been incapacitated when she signed it due to the tumor. The fight itself would give her enough time to hopefully heal and wake up, even if he didn’t win. Nonetheless, the fact that she’s responsive has given us all a bit of hope.

I did take it upon myself to run a background check on her and locate her father and brother. Her brother’s in jail serving his third stretch for possession. Her father is small money with a chain of grocery stores. I’ll keep the information in case anyone wants it.

My current issue, however, is Jason and the fact that his ex-wife may have tried to trade his daughter as payment for a drug debt. Not only that, but we’ve got Lincoln’s sentencing hearing the day after tomorrow and I’ve been a bit preoccupied with the statement that I’m going to read.

“I can’t believe anybody would do that to a child, let alone a mother,” I tell him. He rubs his neck.

“Thank God Ana was there,” Jason says, relieved. “There’s no way I would have been able to pull that out of Sophie. Without it, there’s a possibility that her mother could get her back. Maybe even try it again. I don’t know how she did it, but your wife is a miracle worker. Sophie was itching to tell me—eager to do the right thing, and she looks like she’s taking it like a pro.” He shakes his head. “Ana promises to stay close and keep an eye on her.”

“That’s good,” I say. “This situation could have left her so much worse off in so many ways. I shudder to think what could have happened if…” He shakes his head. “I’m not letting her near Sophie. I don’t care what the court order says, I’m not letting her near my child.”

“Is that wise?” I ask. “You could get in trouble with the court.”

“There’s not a judge in the world that would blame me. The worst they could do it put me in jail for some stupid, trumped-up charge, so let them do it.”

“What about Sophie? What if she wants to see her mother?” I ask. He sighs.

“I doubt that’ll happen, but if Sophie wants it, I’ll allow it,” he says, begrudgingly.

“So what did the police say about the possible human trafficking?” I ask.

“Without more evidence, they can’t bring any charges against her for trying to sell my daughter. But they can investigate the dealers for human traffic. Shalane is already being brought up on charges of child endangerment for having Sophie in that place in the first place and get this! Her toxicology report was released and I needed it turned over to family court for part of the custody case. She tested positive for meth, coke, marijuana, ex, ruffies… ruffies, man! Ruffies don’t even stay in your system that long! And her blood alcohol… 1.9! It’s a wonder she was upright, let alone driving! They could have found her and my kid dead somewhere. I’m telling you, she’s not getting near Sophie again.”

“You’ll get no argument from me,” I tell him. “I just don’t want you to do anything that will blow your chances of getting custody.”

“This won’t blow my chances,” he says. “I have the best attorney in the world… better than money can buy.”

*-*

When we get to the courtroom Friday morning for Lincoln’s sentencing, I’m gobsmacked by what I see. Our front row has been reserved for us as usual, but the courtroom is full, even fuller than it was when the jury read the verdict. There are so many people here, but what shocks me the most is how many different versions of me there are in the room. I mean, nobody looks exactly like me, but they favor me—like my bevy of petite brunettes. As I scan the room, I see what could have been versions of me from what looks like the age of thirteen… until now.

“Oh, God,” I whisper, my stomach churning like raw acid and fire. The speech I prepared won’t scratch the surface of how this makes me feel—how sick this woman really must be in her soul, but she deserves no mercy for that sickness.

“Christian… baby, what is it?” my wife says sweetly, concerned.

“Look around,” I whisper, horrified. “Take a good look…” Butterfly scans the room, then again, then she gasps as realization sinks in.

“Oh, my God,” she whispers. Victims… more victims, and most likely, their parents. The trial was private, but anyone can watch the sentencing and make a statement. I figure we’ll be here all day. There’s way too many people here.

Butterfly and I nearly stagger to our seats with the new information we’re processing and I take time to locate my mother. She’s just as horrified as we are as she zeroes in on what Butterfly was examining. She tries to give me strength through her beautiful smile, but it does little to console me. She sees what I see—horrible representations of broken lives and stolen innocence, no matter if these people overcame their situation or not. I sit down and contemplate my situation… and my speech. They can’t say anything much because this isn’t the pedo-trial, and they didn’t get to speak before because she accepted a plea to the other charges and took the sentence that was handed to her. This is the only closure they can hope for.

I hear the shackles on her feet when she enters the courtroom, but I don’t raise my head to look at her. I’m disgusted and sick and trying to control the bile rising in the back of my throat. I just want this thing to be over—to turn my back and never think of her or speak of her again. I’m relieved when I hear the instruction to all rise. I so want this over and done. I wait… wait for Underwood to instruct the judge that Lincoln is already serving time on a prior offense and well on her way to rehabilitation; wait for him to try to convince His Honor that the maximum sentence would serve nothing as Mrs. Lincoln will already be incarcerated until she’s seventy-five; I listen as he continues to paint her as a victim with no consideration for the trauma that she only caused my family, not to mention these men and boys who line the walls of this room right now. If I’ve never seen a snake before, there’s one talking to the judge right now.

Skinner doesn’t say much. He reiterates that the evidence speaks for itself and that there’s no reason to rehash the facts. The jury has found her guilty and it’s up to the court to render just and sufficient sentence for her crimes. I wait for someone to stand or speak when Judge Burgess opens the floor for statements. No one does… so I do.

I walk solemnly to the lectern placed where the jury was seated and pull my speech from my pocket. I clear my throat and attempt to speak and the words seem to jumble on the page.

They won’t work. They’ll never describe the gravity of this situation.

“Mr. Grey?” the judge says. I clear my throat again… showtime.

“Justice won’t be served today,” I say, folding the paper that contains the speech I intended to give and shoving it back into my pocket. “Justice won’t be served in this courtroom. Elena Lincoln was found guilty of her crimes and justice still won’t be served.” Elena looks at me with hope in her eyes—poor, delusional woman—and Butterfly and my family eye me with confusion. I look down and sigh, then look back up and examine the courtroom.

“She took so much from so many people, then tried to come to this court—this forum of logical thinking, morally grounded, civically bound people—and tried to convince us that her behavior was acceptable because she said so. Wasn’t that the essence of her defense? ‘I’m superior; I’m special; I can ruin people’s lives and if they don’t do what I want, I can kill them?’ How could you or any living, breathing person—let alone a professional…” I glare at her attorney, “… possibly think that would fly among rational thinking human beings?” I glare at them both for a moment, then regroup.

“But I digress, because I said that justice would not be served. You’ve ruined so many lives,” I focus on Elena, “and in the end, your acts culminated with you trying to take mine. If there was ever any chance in the world that I could have ever loved you, you shattered that all to hell. All. By. Your. Self.” My words are dripping with venom as the truest pain rises in her tear-filled eyes. “Whatever the sentence, you can’t ever begin to repay the debt you owe to the people whose lives you have destroyed.

“People look at me and they see a billionaire and the first thing they want to say is, ‘Well, he didn’t turn out so bad.’ But know this—I am who I am in spite of my circumstances, not because of them. You don’t get to destroy my childhood and then take credit for my success! That’s not the way it works. You don’t get to take a bad matter and make it worse, then throw money at it and tout that you made me the man that I am.

“You think what you did for me made me stronger and you’re right, it did.” She holds her head up triumphantly. “I had to be stronger. I had to withstand what you were doing to me—what you were putting me through.” The same air that puffed her up is knocked violently out of her sails. “You constantly say that you gave me the money and the tools to start my business… you didn’t. You lent me the money to start my business; you were no more significant to my success than the local financial institution. I had the brains and the mental capacity and wherewithal to do the work myself. So, what exactly did you give me, Mrs. Lincoln?” Those sad eyes are back, but I feel nothing.

“Everyone seems to think that you gave me $100,000 to start my business, but nobody seems to know that was a loan, which I repaid with interest. What’s more, even less people seem to know that had it not been for me, you wouldn’t have had those salons as long as you did to afford you that lifestyle that allowed you to commit the crimes for which you are currently serving time! And yet… you want to sit there and spout about and believe that you’re the reason I’m the man I am today? That you did so much good for me? Well, tell me this, Mrs. Lincoln—if you were so good for me, if you fixed what was so broken in me, made me this great man, why was I still having those damn nightmares?”

Butterfly gulps as does my mother and the courtroom starts to murmur. Judge Burgess bangs his gavel.

“Order! Order!” he says. When the court quiets, he looks at me. “Are you finished, Mr. Grey?” he asks.

“I won’t get another chance, Your Honor,” I tell him, “I have one more issue to address.”

“Very well,” he says, replacing his gavel. I turn back to Elena.

“I couldn’t hug my mother until last year,” I begin. “I couldn’t show my family love, because you convinced me there was no such thing, that is until you found out I loved someone else. All of a sudden, love was this beautiful thing that I could share with you, and if I didn’t, then you had free me from the clutches of a woman who really does love me. Had it not been for the love of that woman, I wouldn’t be able to hug my mother and lean on her now that I need her more than ever; to tell my father and my siblings and my grandfather and my uncle exactly what they mean to me.

“I would never know the feeling of being one person—whole and healed—as part of someone else. I would never know how it feels to look down into the faces of two tiny little versions of myself and be filled with love and immeasurable pride when my infant children look back at me. Most of all, I would never know the feeling of waking up every morning with my arms and heart wrapped around my talisman after a good night’s sleep—nightmare-free.”

She’s gasps. She knew I was still having the nightmares. She never knew that they went away. Mom and Dad look gaped-mouth at me, then turn to Ana who looks at me with tear-filled loving eyes. I turn my gaze back to Elena.

“And you wanted to free me from that? I thank God and everything sacred that you didn’t.”

I hold my head down and take a deep breath to strike my last blow.

“Justice won’t be served because there’s no sentence severe enough for you to feel all the pain you’ve caused to all the people that you’ve hurt. But whatever the court decides to give you, whatever they feel is appropriate for your crime, I hope you rot! I hope that your evil festers in you and boils you from the inside out every day of your miserable life. I hope you live a long, long life of pain, suffering, and unhappiness. I hope your days from now on are filled with nothing but hopelessness, misery, and despair. And when your number finally comes and you draw your last breath, I hope the devil himself is there to greet you at the gates to escort you through all nine circles of Dante’s hell for the rest of eternity. Then, and only then, will justice be served.”

I stare unfeeling at her eyes. She stares broken-hearted into mine. I allow the venom and hatred to flow out of me and into the air towards her, into her. Let her carry it from now on. I’ve had enough of it. I drop my head back and inhale a deep, cleansing breath, releasing it along with every lie, every welt, every strike, every guilt trip she ever played on me. Every shackle she ever closed, every time she caned me, whipped me, flogged me, sodomized me, denied me orgasms for days, brainwashed me to believe that I couldn’t love and no one would love me—I gave them all back to her when I released that breath.

I’m free. I’m free of Elena Lincoln forever. I feel so light, I could fly.

“I’m done, Your Honor,” I say with no malice before leaving the lectern. I walk to m y wife and she bolts to my arms, kissing me deeply. We indulge for only a second before taking our seats on the benches behind the prosecutor.

“No…”

Her voice is so frail, I think I’m the only one who heard it.

“Christian… please… no…”  Lincoln begs, her voice soft and nearly inaudible. I cling to my wife, holding her close to me and feeling her warmth infuse into me—her love and her strength.

“I love you, Christian,” Elena whimpers. “Please don’t leave me… please don’t leave me alone…”

I hear her, but I don’t care. It only makes me pull my beautiful and precious wife closer to me, makes me want this whole thing to be over so that I can hurry home to my children…

“Are there… any more statements?” Judge Burgess is remiss to ask. What else could be said after that? I mean really, who else could say anything after that?


A/N: This is one of the ten final chapters of “Becoming Dr. Grey.” Stay tuned…

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

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Love and handcuffs  
Lynn X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 71—The Gatekeeper

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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 71—The Gatekeeper

ANASTASIA

Since I prepared to be in court for She-Thing all week, I won’t be going to Helping Hands, so I gave Marilyn the week off. Just after breakfast Thursday morning, I receive a call from the dreaded area code… 702.

“Hello?”

“Mrs. Grey?”

“Who’s calling?” I ask cautiously.

“This is Herbert Larson from the Nevada Attorney General’s office.” Oh… still haven’t gotten that subpoena.

“Yes?” I say. He pauses, no doubt noting my cold tone.

“I… just wanted to call you and tell you that Michael Underwood’s trial was set for Monday…”

Was?” I interrupt him.

“Yes, was. He saw the charges and the witnesses against him and he took a plea.” Another fucker gets to take a plea.

“Really? And what did he get?” I ask, stoically.

“He pled to second degree kidnapping, battery without a weapon, and involuntary manslaughter with a maximum of twenty five years on all counts. He got eighteen with a possibility of parole in fifteen.” Whoa!

“Oh.” I say, truly surprised. “Okay.” I couldn’t say much more.

“I’m calling because your subpoena was returned unserved,” he says. “We tried your last known address and your office. There was no contact at either location.”

“Why didn’t you try my attorney’s office?”

“He couldn’t be reached at his office either, Ma’am.”

“Geez, you have old addresses for everybody?” I lament.

“I’m afraid so,” he says. “We couldn’t legally serve anybody anywhere.” I nod.

“I’ll get you updated information today. I’m sorry about that, Mr. Larson,” I say.

“No apologies necessary. I just thought you might want to know that the first official sentence has been handed down in your case.” I sigh heavily, then frown.

“What about Carly Madison-Perry?” I ask. “I thought she had taken a plea, too.”

“Her plea is still pending,” he says. “It’s due to be finalized within the next week. Her keeping it is dependent on her testifying in court.”

“And what if everyone does what Underwood does and pleads to a lesser charge? Will she still get to walk even though she never had to testify in court?” There’s a pause.

“I can guarantee you that it’s not a ‘walk,’ Mrs. Grey,” he replies. “However, based on her willingness to testify, she would still get her plea bargain. Her pleading to a lesser sentence for the highest allowable charges means that it goes on the books that these crimes were actually committed and that anyone associated with the incident has to be associated with the commission of these crimes and not a lesser act, unless their specific action indicate a lesser act. This is why she got first degree kidnapping and Underwood got second.”  I nod as if he can see me.

“So, with Carly’s testimony, I need you to help me understand why you won’t just take all of these people to trial. It’s an open and shut case.” I hear him sigh.

“Under normal circumstances, you would be correct, Mrs. Grey. However, these circumstances are far from normal. We haven’t notified you of every development in this case, but so far, there have been seventeen arrests made with people rolling over on their friends. Some suspects have fled the state or are in hiding waiting to be apprehended. To be honest with you, every jurisdiction has a finite amount of resources that can be expended for all cases being investigated. To that end, if we can save the taxpayers some money and preserve our resources by still getting double-digit mandatory sentences on these pleas, I would consider that a win. Wouldn’t you?” 

The way he explains it makes perfect sense. I’ll just have to make sure that any of these monsters that do live long enough to see the outside of a prison don’t get to see their fortunes once they’re free. It’s the high living and the sense of entitlement that caused most of these bastards to participate in this shit in the first place. Others were just too busy following the leader.

“Am I allowed to know what Carly’s plea is?” I ask, certain that I won’t like the outcome. Larson pauses again.

“Mrs. Madison-Perry is being charged with conspiracy to kidnap in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, battery with a deadly weapon with substantial bodily harm, battery without a weapon with substantial bodily harm, manslaughter for the fetal homicide of your unborn baby, and attempted murder…” 

“So, they both got the kidnapping charges.” It’s a question that comes out as a statement.

“We’re hoping they’ll all get it,” he says.

“Well, Underwood got eighteen years. What kind of charges is she looking at?”

“Under normal circumstances, kidnapping carries a life sentence on its own. Like Underwood, she reviewed the odds against her and decided against taking her chances in court. If she delivers as promised, she’s looking at thirty years with no parole and a $35,000 fine.” Holy cow, Batman! I hiss into the line.

“She could have gotten life, huh?” I ask. There’s silence. “I think thirty years sounds fair. And she’ll never be able to come up with that $35,000.”

“Then she’ll most likely get more time for that,”  he says.

“Even better. I’ll email you to correct addresses for myself and my attorney. Thank you for explaining this to me, Mr. Larson.

“My pleasure.” I end the call after pleasantries and almost call Christian to tell him the news when I  see my father’s number in the call logs. I dial his number instead. It’s the middle of the morning, so his phone has to be on.

The caller you are trying to reach has chosen not to be disturbed at this time. Please try your call again later.

What. The. Fuck!

I look at the phone to make sure that I’ve dialed the right number. It says that’s Daddy’s phone. But it can’t be! That’s the blocked number message. I dial the number manually. Maybe there’s a technical reason for it.

That fucker’s voice is taunting me again.

I shake my head. Something is terribly wrong. I go in search of a landline in the house and dial my father’s number again.

The caller you are trying…

I hang up before the message completes. Panic stricken, I go in search of Gail. I find her in the kitchen going over the shopping list with Mrs. Solomon. I try to act calm.

“Gail, can I borrow your phone? Mine’s on the charger.”

“Sure, dear.” She puts her phone on the counter without hesitation and goes back off into the pantry.

I dial Daddy’s number hoping that I would get the same message from Gail’s phone that I received from my phone and the landline. I didn’t. It rings—three times, then he answers.

“Hello?”

“Daddy?” I say, uncertain. His answer is swift.

“Can’t talk now. Busy.” And the line goes dead. I’m stunned. He’s shutting me out. My father is shutting me out. In my whole life, my father has never, ever shut me out… but he’s shutting me out. I stand there for a moment. I’m lost. I don’t know what to do next. First Valerie, now this? The world is ending… the world must be ending! What kind of cruel joke it this?

My stomach burns. My chest aches like someone is beating me with a sledgehammer. Daddy is shutting me out. He blocked my phone numbers. He won’t accept my calls. Even Mandy won’t talk to me. I can’t get air. The walls feel like they’re closing in on me. My world is truly ending. How will I ever survive this? I’m going to die… I feel like I’m going to die… I can’t take it… I’m not strong enough…

This couldn’t be happening. This could not be happening! I look around for Gail, but she must have stepped into the pantry. I put her phone on the counter and head for the mudroom. I stand there lost for a moment, but see my keys on the hook next to the other keys for the other cars in the garage. I grab them and head out the door. I’m on autopilot. The windows are tinted, which is good, because when I drive to the gate, Ben just opens it and lets me out. I head towards the bridge. I don’t know where I’m going. I just… drive.


CHRISTIAN

“Boss… we got a problem.”

Boss… shit, what’s wrong? I get a sinking feeling when Jason comes into my office just past noon. He only calls me Boss when it’s something person.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“I just got a text from my wife… Her Highness is MIA.” I frown.

“I don’t get it. You got a text from your wife that Butterfly is MIA?” he nods.

“Just now. I’ve got the boys looking into it, but she’s definitely gone. She came into the kitchen about three hours ago asking Gail to use her phone. Gail thought nothing of it and just let her use it. She saw her phone on the counter as she was doing something with Ms. Solomon and thought nothing of it. Her Highness said her phone was dead.” I knew that wasn’t true because her phone was on the charger right next to mine when I left this morning. “When the babies awoke, Her Highness wasn’t there. Two-way communications says she’s not in the house.”

“She could be out by the fire-pit or something. Has anybody tried to call her?” I say. Jason rolls his eyes.

“You know we did, sir. Her phone is still in the bedroom… along with her purse,” he says somberly. “And her car is gone.” I bolt out of my seat.

“How do you know her car is gone?” I ask.

“Ben let her out of the gate. He assumed Chuck was with her. Chuck is not.”

“Shit!” I hiss, thrusting my hands into my hair. She left her purse, her phone, the babies. Was she kidnapped again?

“Did you activate the tracker on her car?” I ask. Jason scratches his chin. “What?”

“Her… car hasn’t been equipped with a tracker,” he says, meekly.

“What?” I roar. “That car is going to have the babies the goddamn most and it hasn’t been fitted with a goddamn tracker?”

“I think they were so preoccupied with getting the spec right that somebody forgo…” He pulls his phone out and frowns.

“What?” I ask.

“Gail just thought to call the last number dialed on her phone. It was Ray. He was more than a bit gruff with her. Is something up with Ray?” I roll my eyes.

“Yes,” I say, pulling my phone out call Ray. “Give me a minute.” Jason nods and leave my office.

“Hello?” Ray answers.

“Ray. It’s Christian. Have you seen Ana?”

“You gotta lotta nerve calling me!” he hisses. I’m taken aback.

“What?” I say, clearly shocked.

“She told me about that crap you two do, like I’m supposed to be okay with it. What the hell have you gotten my daughter into?” He’s livid, and I’m caught off guard. I don’t even know how to handle this Ray.

“Ray, I… it’s not like that…” I stammer.

“The hell it’s not!” he snaps. “I wasn’t born yesterday! I’ve seen that shit! I’ve been around more than you and even Annie knows! I’ve been everywhere from Amsterdam to Pattaya to the seedy areas of the states. I’ve seen all the sick shit that goes on in those clubs and at those parties and in those dungeons and you can’t pull the wool over my eyes!”

Whoa! So, Ray knows what he’s talking about, but he still only seems to have seen the worst part of it.

“Ray, those places you’ve been, you’ve only seen the most horrible stuff. It’s not like that with us, I assure you…”

“Don’t give me that shit! There’s no soft way to abuse a woman! Beating and caning and ropes and shit! And to think—my daughter is involved in this garbage!”

Was this what Butterfly heard? Is this how he spoke to her before he disappeared?

“Whatever you may think about my and my wife’s lifestyle, I can’t find her and I just want to know the last time you’ve seen her.”

“Good! I hope she’s left your ass! I hope she’s left this whole sick situation!” He can’t hear beyond his own hatred and anger and now, I’m sure this is why I can’t find Anastasia.

“Raymond!” I snap, my wick short. “My wife is missing.” My voice is short and curt, my words clipped. “She doesn’t have her phone or her purse. She hasn’t left me because our children are still at home. She could be in danger. Have you seen her?” He’s silent for a moment.

“No. I haven’t,” he says in the same clipped, angry tone he’s been using for the entire call. No concern for her whereabouts; no reaction to the ominous details I just gave him; nothing that I would expect from a father… much less a Marine. My heart sinks. This is who she met before she disappeared. She idolizes Ray. In her whole life, throughout everything, he’s been her one constant, and now this. What’s worse is that in hindsight, she may not have even had to tell him about the lifestyle since that blonde bitch never said anything in court and nothing’s come from my testimony on Monday except a few blurbs about the abuse. Oh, God. If anything has happened to Butterfly, this is all my fault… the breakdown of her relationship with Ray, the possible public humiliation, all of it… all my fault.

“Do you hate your daughter, now, Ray?” I ask him.

“No, but I hate you for what you’ve done to her!” he snaps without hesitation. Another closed mind. I should have seen this coming.

“Fine. Hate me, but don’t make her pay for it,” I say flatly.

“You’re the last person that can say anything to me about my daughter right now,” he hisses. “You should be glad I don’t get some of the guys from one of my sites to just come down there and beat your ass!”

“Do that if it makes you feel better, but don’t punish Anastasia because of how you feel about me.”

“Don’t you try to take that high road with me, Grey!” he snaps, angrier than I’ve ever seen or heard before. “You’re a sick fuck and I’ll never forgive you for what you’ve turned my daughter into!” I sigh heavily.

And another one bites the dust.

“I thought you knew,” I say softly, defeated. “I thought you knew how much I love her… that I would gladly lay down my life for her. I thought I proved it when I beat the hell out of your best friend and ended up in the hospital.”

He’s fallen silent on the other end of the line.

“I thought you knew that I could never, ever hurt her… that I would do anything for her. I thought I proved that when I turned the state upside down when she was kidnapped; when I flew to Green Valley and hunted down the fucker who raped her and the monsters who beat her and killed her baby; when I stood with you against her mother and that abomination that she married when they showed up at the hospital; when I sat by her side ready to fight you and anyone else who tried to take her away when she laid catatonic in my bed for three days.

“When I stood in that office ready to take that bullet if it meant that crazy bitch was not going to shoot my Butterfly; when I turned her into Cinderella and married her in a castle because she wanted to be a princess; when I signed her name to half of the company that I built on my back with my own blood, sweat and tears because I love and trust her that much… with my life!”

I don’t think he knew that last part.

“I thought I proved it when I stayed by her side and cried for twelve days when she was in a coma and refused to leave her until they kicked me out and banned me from the room even after she didn’t remember who I was. I really thought you knew that she is my whole life and I could never abuse her or mistreat her or misuse her. I thought you knew me better than some sick motherfucker that would just tie her up and torment her for my own enjoyment!” I bite out—angry, hurt tears now burning a trek down my face.

“Most of all, I thought you knew her better,” I choke. “I thought you knew that the Anastasia Steele that I met would never stand to be abused, hurt, or deliberately mistreated by anybody, much less someone who claimed to love her! After all that she’s already been through, I was certain that you knew she was much stronger, much wiser than that! I’m so disappointed to find out that after all this time, you don’t know.”

I swallow back my trepidation for the fact that I’m talking to Ana’s father and continue.

“You want to judge me for the lifestyle that I came from, fine. You do that. I won’t lie—it hurts. I thought you knew me better. I thought you knew what she meant to me, but clearly, I was mistaken.” I hear my voice shaking and I can hardly believe how affected I am that not only has Ray bought into the crap that he’s seen and heard about the lifestyle, but that he doesn’t know me well enough or trust me well enough to believe that I wouldn’t do that deviant shit to Anastasia.

“I misjudged you,” I say through angry tears. “I knew the rest of the world would judge us, would jump to conclusions, but I didn’t think you would. In the end, I always thought we… or at least she… would have you. I guess I was wrong.”

My heart breaks for Butterfly. He’s never going to come around. He thinks I’ve soiled her… changed her. He doesn’t want anything else to do with us. I wipe my eyes with the backs of my hands and swallow hard.

“I won’t bother you again,” I say to the silent line before ending the call. I thought Butterfly may have been exaggerating when she told me about her father’s reaction to the news, but she wasn’t. It was just as bad as she said it was—worse, even, and I hurt for her right now. I won’t even tell her about this conversation. It would only make matters worse. Right now, I just have to find her.

I straighten my face and clothes as much as I can and kick myself for not knowing that something more was going on when I left the house this morning. Before I call Jason to tell him about Ana’s last contact, I call Al.

“Allen Forsythe,” he answers.

“Al, Ana’s MIA. I’m sure it has to do with Ray. Where would she go?” I just get straight to the point.

“Wait a minute. What?” I sigh heavily.

“Please don’t make me go through this,” I say, scrubbing my eyes, already weary. “Ana’s missing. I believe it’s because she fought with Ray. Where would she go?” The line is quiet for a long time. I can’t stand it. I end the call and call Jason.

“Yes, Sir?”

“It’s Ray,” I tell him. “It has to be. He was cold and cruel when I talked to him. If he was half as horrible when she spoke to him, I don’t know where she is.” Jason sighs.

“I really thought we put a tracker on her car,” Jason says.

“I thought we did, too. Whose job was that?” I ask. As I’m deciding whose head will roll for forgetting one of the fundamental things needed on every vehicle I have ever purchased, my second line is ringing. Al is calling me back.

“One second, Jason,” I say and I change lines to answer the call. “Yes?”

“Has anybody checked the aquarium?” he asks.

“She wouldn’t go to the aquarium,” I say, trying to remain calm.

“She went to the aquarium the day before your wedding day,” he retorts. “Has she ever fought with Ray while you’ve been together?” he asks. I’m silent. “Have you checked her condo?” I hadn’t thought of her condo.

“No, I hadn’t thought of that, either. Any other suggestions?”

“I’m assuming she’s not answering her phone and you’ve tried to track it?”

“She doesn’t have it… Or her purse. They’re both at the Crossing,” I say, trying to stamp down the same rising emotions I had when David kidnapped her. There’s a knock at my office door. “Come in.” The door opens and Al walks through ending his call with me.

“I’m going with you to find her.” I know it’s no use trying to stop him. My phone rings again and I’m hoping it’s Butterfly. It’s Jason.

“What?” I ask, a little impatiently.

“I’m still here,” he says, and I forgot he was on the backline. I sigh.

“Allen and I are going to her condo. Send someone to the Aquarium. Fire whoever was responsible for getting the tracker put in her car and I mean I really want somebody fired. We could have discovered this when something terrible has happened to her and if something has…” I trail off. “I want somebody fucking fired, today, Jason,” I repeat. “I want my pound of flesh and I fucking mean it.” I end the call and walk out of the office.

The ride to Butterfly’s condo on Elliot Bay is silent. I’m driving and Al is in the passenger seat of the Audi I’ve procured from the office—one with a goddamn tracker, no doubt. I try to drive the speed limit, but my rising anxiety along with the reminder of Ray’s ire when I spoke to him is making that task a little easier said than done. I don’t remember the key code when I get to the gate, so Al has to remind me. I can’t describe the flood of relief that I feel when I see Butterfly’s Audi parked in her spot in the garage. I’m immediately overcome with emotion and I feel so light-headed that I literally have to stop the car right where it is and lean my head on the steering wheel.

I feel the car change gears and hear the parking brake engage. Moments later, Al is opening the driver’s side door.

“Go to her, Chris,” he says sympathetically. “I’ll park the car.” I raise a heavy head and see sympathetic brown eyes looking down at me. I nod, then exit the car.

I’m almost afraid of what I’ll find when I get to the condo. Surprised that my key still works, I open the door to hear the last chords of a song playing over the sound system in her apartment, only to hear it start over again— “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.”

This is not good. I run through the apartment looking for her, afraid of what I’ll find. She’s in her bedroom, on the floor, sitting up with her back against the bed with boxes of various items strewn about—photo albums, pictures, mementos… There are pictures of her when she was younger with Carla and Ray; pictures of just her and Ray; pictures of Ray and Carla, her and Al; pictures of an old house with a swing; old cutouts of foreign lands; what looks like a box of toys and some swatches of material and some other nondescript items and knickknacks. There’s a half-finished bottle of wine on the nightstand and no glass, and Butterfly is weeping bitterly.

I come into view of her just so that she can see that I’m here, but she doesn’t raise her eyes. She cries and cries over some shirt she has in her hand—a very worn T-shirt and I can barely make out the letters on the front… USMC.

I want her to at least acknowledge my presence, but I realize now that she can’t. I push some of the items aside and make room for myself on the floor next to her. I don’t know how long she’s been crying, but I wish she would stop because she’s hoarse, now. She doesn’t react when I sit down. She just keeps crying. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her more broken except maybe the day she and Valerie broke up, for lack of a better word. My God… Valerie. All her constants are leaving her. Is it because of me? Is she losing everyone important to her because of me?

I gather her frail little frame onto my lap and hold her in my arms as she buries her face in what I can only assume is her father’s Marine Corps T-shirt and the tears starts anew. I vaguely hear Al come into the apartment and then hear him on the phone asking Ray what’s going on.

Don’t call him. He doesn’t care. All he cares about is that his little pristine image of his daughter has been shattered, and if she’s broken and falling apart, it doesn’t matter to him. She’s my responsibility now.

She cries and cries and cries and cries for I don’t know how long. I hold her and rock her, wrapped in a blanket after she starts shivering. My heart is broken for her and hearing her cry tears me into a million pieces. I can’t stop my own tears while hearing the anguish in her voice, so after a while, I just allow them to fall in her hair. She’s broken because of him and I’m broken because of her… so we just sit here, broken.

“Chris…” I hear his voice, but I don’t move. Butterfly still hasn’t stopped crying and I don’t know how to make her stop. “You guys need to eat.”

I think I smelled food earlier, but I can’t eat, not if she doesn’t—not right now, and she won’t stop crying. I don’t move. I just keep rocking her, hoping she’ll stop crying soon.

My own eyes hurt now and my throat is dry. My face is tight from tears falling and drying and falling again. My heart hurts for my beloved, for not being able to take away her pain… a pain so deep that I can’t imagine what it feels like. I cling to her again and kiss her forehead, trying to infuse her with the love I feel to give her strength and stop her tears. My phone has been buzzing incessantly in my pocket, but the world could explode and fall into the sea right now for all I care. My Butterfly is in pain, and I can’t stop it. I can’t do anything to stop it.

The sun has long since gone down and I just want her to go to sleep, now. I just want her to stop crying for a moment and sleep, but she won’t stop. I know that she’s exhausted—still clinging to that shirt—she can’t sleep… or won’t sleep. I’ve tried everything… rubbing her back, singing to her, nothing works. She’s been weeping for hours and I’ve cried with her for some of those—my eyes red and swollen, I know. The pain is a dead giveaway. I can only imagine how she feels.

“Christian…”

Fucking hell, he called my mother.

“Christian, you have to eat,” she says softly. Sorry, Mom, not now. I wrap my arms tighter around my wife, who now cries soundlessly since her voice is completely gone. I can tell that her tears have started anew and it rips me to shreds. I start to weep again.

“I can’t make her stop, Mom,” I say through my tears, without looking up at her. “I’ve tried for hours, but she won’t stop.”

“I can give her a sedative,” Mom says. I shake my head.

“I don’t want to do that without her permission. She’ll just wake up crying anyway.”  My voice is so weak that I barely recognize it.

“She’s exhausted, Christian.”

“I know,” I say, helplessly, “but she won’t go to sleep… and she won’t stop crying.” I sob. “I hate it when she hurts! I hate it! I can’t stand this!” My shoulders shake as I bury my face in her hair, weeping for her as she weeps for her loss. I pull her as close to me as I can, wishing that I could absorb some of her pain, but realizing that I may be transferring some of mine to her. I don’t know what to do. I hear the heavy footfall of male feet and know that Jason or Carrick is now coming to try to convince us to eat or go home. Convince her to stop crying, then maybe we can do something.

“Sunflower?”

Both our heads shoot up at the sound of Ray’s voice. We’re both stunned, both tearstained, both exhausted as we gaze into his face. Confused green eyes look down at both of us before he squats down to us and stares for a long time in utter silence. This is the first time in hours that Butterfly has stopped crying. I can’t be concerned that it wasn’t me that couldn’t make her stop—I’m just glad that she has, though I think it’s because she’s stunned. Nonetheless, she’s not crying.

Ray stares from Butterfly to me and back to Butterfly several times in what seems like several minutes, I don’t know, but after close examination, his gaze softens when he looks at his daughter. Her lip trembles. Oh, God… Please, no more crying, Butterfly.

“I’m sorry, Sunflower,” he says, his voice cracking.

“Daddy…” her lips move, but nothing comes out. She bolts into his arms and sobs silently, her voice gone from crying all day. She clings to her father like life itself and he buries his head in her shoulder. I drop my head from my own exhaustion, taking in deep breaths and trying to clear my thoughts, and craning my neck from side to side, hearing and feeling the audible popping from the stiffness. I grimace from the pain. I feel a hand on my shoulder and wearily raise my painful eyes to see that it’s Ray. He says nothing, just looking at me with sad eyes. I nod and drop my head again and he gives my shoulder a tight squeeze. We don’t need any more words right now.

I manage to get some soup into my wife before carrying her exhausted body to the rainwater shower to try to relax her. She gratefully and silently allows me to clean her from head to toe, putting her hair in the Pocahontas braids again. I find a warm sleep shirt for her to sleep in and I strip down to my T-shirt and boxers. I don’t bother looking at the time; we’re both wiped out. We sleep at her condo that night, curled up in her bed in waterlogged exhaustion.

*-*

I’m the first to wake in the morning. We haven’t moved from the position we started in all night. I don’t want to move right now, but nature calls. I roll out of bed and relieve myself quickly. I need coffee.

I open the door to Ana’s bedroom and I smell food and hear a woman’s soft laughter. Not knowing which woman it is, I make to close the door to find something more suitable than a T-shirt and boxers. I look down and see a carryall and a garment bag on the floor at the door. I pick them up and bring them into the room. Butterfly has clothes here, though I don’t know if she can wear any of them, so most of these are most likely for me.

Inside the carryall are casual things—jeans, sweats, underwear, a robe. A suit and accessories are in the garment bag. I look at the alarm clock on the nightstand next to Butterfly’s bed. It’s after ten in the morning. I hope nothing important is happening today. I don’t remember any appointments on the books. I look at my phone and there are texts and missed calls from Jason, my mom and dad, Ray—all from yesterday and last night. That was the buzzing in my pocket. I put on my sweat pants and the robe over my T-shirt and boxers and go to the kitchen to find sustenance.

I find Amanda and Ray in the kitchen cooing over little Harry in his highchair. They pause when I come into the room and at first, I don’t know how to react. I feel like hell, like I’ve slept for three days and I could sleep for three more. I probably look just as bad.

“Good morning, Christian,” Ray says. Olive branch, I think.

“Good morning,” I say, my throat scratchy, looking for coffee.

“Jason brought some groceries. I made breakfast,” Mandy says. “Would you like some? Eggs and sausage and some toast.” I pause at the coffee pot.

“Yes, please… thank you.” I fed Butterfly soup last night and foolishly didn’t eat myself. My stomach lining is eating itself. I take a swallow of the hot black coffee trying not to scorch my tongue and savor the flavor of it going down my throat. Amanda piles a plate full of scrambled eggs and sausage links and puts a couple of pieces of toast on it before placing it on the breakfast bar. I tear into it like a bear. I’m famished. She and Ray continue their conversation as if I’m not in the room and I’m fine with that. Just let me eat. It’s not like I know what to say anyway.

Before I know it, the plate is empty and a laughing Amanda is placing another full plate of breakfast in front of me. I raise my eyes to her, somewhat embarrassed that I’m eating in front of her like a caveman.

“I’m… sorry,” I mutter. “I haven’t eaten anything since… breakfast yesterday.” I actually had to think about it to remember when I last ate.

“Don’t worry about it,” she says with a kind smile. “There’s plenty.” She turns back to the stove and cracks more eggs into a frying pan. I look over at Harry, making a mess of his scrambled eggs on his portable highchair. Your mom’s pretty cool, kid, I think to myself. I turn back to my plate and tear in again. I don’t raise my eyes to Ray. My last words to him were biting and I meant every one of them, but the air between us now is tentative.

“How did you sleep?” he asks, his voice cutting through the silence like a bullhorn. I swallow the eggs in my mouth.

“Like the dead,” I say honestly. I can’t remember the last time I cried myself to exhaustion. Even when Butterfly was in a coma, I cried and cried and cried until there was no water left in my body, but couldn’t sleep. I think it had to be when she left me and went to Montana.

“And Annie?” he asks, his voice soft.

“The same, I think,” I say. “Neither of us moved the entire night.” I take a drink of my coffee before shoving a sausage link into my mouth. He takes a sip of his coffee before speaking again.

“She always sleeps hard when she’s upset,” he murmurs. I stop chewing and put my fork on my plate.

“Yes, she does,” I say, staring at my uneaten food. “It’s one of her defense mechanisms; her way of running… without actually running.” I sit there in silence for a moment.

“You can say it,” he says. I raise my eyes to him, asking the question without asking it. “I’m an asshole.”

I stare for a moment, but say nothing. I turn my attention back to my plate, filling my mouth with food to avoid telling him just that. I had said everything I wanted to say to him about his behavior yesterday. I had no desire to revisit the topic.

“Yeah, I know,” he says. “You’re a better man for not berating me any further.” He drinks his coffee and I keep eating. I’m reprieved when I hear the door to Butterfly’s bedroom open, but horrified when she bends the corner into the kitchen. She’s grasping her head in obvious discomfort, head down and not looking where she’s going… and she’s headed face first into the wall. My body moves faster than my mind and I’m in front of her seconds before she goes “splat” into the wall. She whimpers slightly at the jolt.

“Wall,” I say quietly. “Your head hurts?”

“Um-hmm,” she mutters, so quietly that you can barely hear her. She’s holding her scar and I know that the blood pumping through that localized spot must be murder right now. I guide her to the seat between me and Ray—a bit of a buffer I think—and help her lay her head on the cold countertop. She protests a bit, but buries her head in her arms. I go to her bathroom and quickly retrieve two Advil and two clean washcloths. Returning to the kitchen, I lament that there is no cranberry juice, but pour a large glass of orange juice instead. I place two pieces of toast on a small plate and bring everything to the breakfast bar.

“Butterfly,” I say softly, leaning down to her ear. She acknowledges with a groan. “Advil.”

She lifts her head like an anchor and I put the pills in her mouth. I put the straw between her lips and she takes a sip.

“More,” I coax, and she sips some more. “Butterfly…” I chide gently. She takes several drags from the straw and I’m duly satisfied. I push the toast in front of her.

“Eat.” She has already buried her head back in her arms and groans in protest. “Just toast… please?” She clumsily reaches for the toast and takes a bite. I sigh with relief and move behind her. I begin to massage her neck, my fingers applying slight pressure along either side of her spine up the nape of her neck to the bottom of her skull. She moans appreciatively and takes another bite of the toast. Good girl. I reward her with more massage and after a few moments, her body starts to come to life.

“I’m sorry…” she says, her voice still hoarse and scratchy. I try not to stop massaging.

“For what?” I ask.

“For running off like that,” she says. “I wasn’t myself. I didn’t know what I was doing…”

“Ssshh,” I silence her self-chastisement, “I know.” I continue my massage.

“I should have listened to you, Annie.” His voice actually causes us both to jump. If I’m honest, I forgot they were there. I was laser focused on my wife and her pain, and she hadn’t opened her eyes yet. She tries to raise her head quickly, but the pain slows her ascent.

“Daddy?” she asks.

“Yes, Annie?”

“How long have you been here?”

“We… stayed the night in the guest room,” he says.

“I’m here, too, Ana,” Amanda announces. Ana gestures towards the sound of her voice.

“Hi, Mandy,” she murmurs.

“Your brother is with us, too,” Amanda adds.

“Hey, Harry,” Butterfly says in a sweet, scratchy voice. Harry responds to the sound of his name with some indistinguishable cooing. Butterfly suddenly gasps.

“My babies!” she says. I put my hand on her back.

“Gail hasn’t called with any kind of emergency, so they’re fine, but I’ll call and check on them, okay?” I tell her. She nods.

“I’m a terrible mother,” she murmurs.

“That’s nonsense and I don’t want to hear you say that again,” I say softly. “You’re a wonderful mother. You can barely stand to be away from them. There’s been a lot going on lately.

“Yeah,” Ray laments, “and I didn’t make matters any better.” Neither of us deny what he says because it’s true… he didn’t. Butterfly is able to finally sit up

, and taste a few more bites of her toast.

“Would you like some eggs, Ana?” Amanda asks, and she shakes her head.

“Just a little?” I press. “Please?” She looks up at me and acquiesces, nodding to Amanda.

“Where were you when she was a kid?” Ray asks. Apparently, young Ana gave her parents a bit of trouble at mealtime. I take the washcloths to the sink and wet them with cold water.

“Why, Daddy?” Butterfly squeaks, and all activity in the kitchen stops for a moment. We all know what she’s asking, and it has nothing to do with his prior question. I continue with my task, wringing the excess water out of the cloths and bringing them back to Butterfly.

“Cold,” I say as I place one on the back of her neck. She jumps at the initial contact, then settles. I fold the other in fours and place it over her scar.

“Daddy… why?” Ray sighs and hesitates.

“You’re my little girl,” he says. “I couldn’t see you doing the things I saw those men and women doing in those clubs and on those sites. It disgusted me. It made me sick. My Annie. My beautiful little Sunflower—involved in this… debauchery! This abominable act!” He grimaces and sighs, shaking his head. “I couldn’t see anything else.”

“I tried to tell you that we didn’t do those things,” she squeaked. “There’s some really sick shit that goes on in the lifestyle. Hell, that’s why we’re in court now, because of a crazy, sick pedophile who brought children into it—children!” she says horrified. “I tried to tell you we are not into that crazy, sick stuff, Daddy!”

“I know, I know,” he says, chastised. “I couldn’t hear you. You’re my baby girl. Don’t you get it?” She shakes her head.

“No, I don’t,” she says. “I need you to trust me. I need you to trust that I know what I’m doing with my life—that I’m not weak and stupid, that I may need help, but I’m not stupid!

“Annie, I…”

“Listen to her, Raymond,” Amanda says, gently, but firmly. Ray settles immediately, the sentiment on his lips dying as quickly as it was born.

“Has my behavior ever been self-destructive, Daddy? Ever?” she demands, finding her voice. “Have I ever done anything to deliberately hurt myself? To deliberately jeopardize my well-being? Granted, there may have been some situations that some of you may not have liked, but just to be careless and self-loathing and deprecating—has that ever been me? Even when I was living in the depths of hell with my loser mother and her loser husband, was that ever me?” She finally pauses to give him a chance to answer.

“No, Annie,” he says softly. “No… that’s never been you.”

“Then why?” she wails, almost close to tears again. I want to hold her—to run to her and beg her not to cry anymore, I can’t take anymore, but I know she has to get this out… and she needs answers. “Why would you think so little of me, and then to make matters worse, you shut me out! Why?”

“Because I couldn’t understand!” he sobs. “I only saw horrible things! Heard horrible things! Knew horrible things! On leave in different areas as a young Marine, we watched those shows. We saw those shows. More than once, I wondered how these women could allow these men to do that to them. How they could subject themselves to the horrors that I saw! Things that you wouldn’t do to animals!” He wails as tears stream unrestrained down his face. “In some places, I found out that the women were forced to do this stuff because it was part of human trafficking! And here I find out that my daughter is doing it! What was I supposed to think?”

“You were supposed to listen to me!” Butterfly shrieks. “You were supposed to put aside your closed-minded, preconceived notions about what you heard and saw from others and listen to me! I’m a shrink, for God’s sake!” She’s losing control. I slide out of my seat and go to her. “You shut me out! After everybody who has deserted me in my life, you shut me out! How could you do that to me? How could you?”

I touch her shoulder and she spins around, thrusting herself into my arms and weeping bitterly. I envelop her immediately, wanting to shield her from the world and the pain. Little Harry is crying now, disturbed by all the screaming and commotion and Amanda has freed him from his high chair, attempting to soothe him. Ray sits in his chair, running his fingers through his hair and trying to find his words while he dries his eyes.

“I was hurt and confused, Annie,” he says, his voice still cracking. “We do dumb things when we’re hurt and confused; please understand. I don’t expect you to forgive me right away… you may never forgive me, but please… please, understand.”

Butterfly only cries harder and her knees start to buckle under her. I lift her into my arms and carry her to the sofa. The weeping has begun again. I just sit her on my lap and let her cry, ready to settle in for a long day. At least she got some toast, but she’ll never get rid of that headache.


ANASTASIA

My heart feels like it’s going to burst. I was so relieved to see my father last night—I thought I had lost him. It felt like somebody had died. If I could have driven back to my room in Montesano and sat on the swing or cried in my bed, I would have. I was losing my grip on my foundation; it was crumbling from under me. I was reaching for anything that could hold me together… pictures of Mom, him and Mom, me and him, me and Al, the old house, my many mental travels… Harry has Fuzzlewuzzers, so I couldn’t reach for that, but when I saw the Marine Corps T-Shirt that he gave me that I wore to sleep every night the first year we moved to Las Vegas and had to squirrel it away when Mom went rummaging through my things in an attempt to rid me of all things Ray, I lost it. I couldn’t hold it together anymore. My heart broke in a million pieces and bled through every pore of my skin—my eyes the most—and wouldn’t stop bleeding—until I saw him last night.

Yes, the bleeding stopped temporarily, and every cell in my body succumbed to utter exhaustion. I don’t remember much of anything after I launched myself into Daddy’s arms except waking up this morning in my old bed with Pocahontas braids and the headache from hell and knowing, once again, that my husband had taken care of me. Once he had gotten some food and some medicine into me and tenderly began to massage the throbbing from my head, the fog began to lift… and I wanted to know why…

Why, after all I had been through, would my father think that I would deliberately allow someone to arbitrarily abuse me? Why he didn’t just listen to me or ask me questions instead of jumping to conclusions based on his preconceived notions and biases? Why, when we already had to deal with the stigma of what others would think of us, he had to become one of those judgmental, narrow-minded, bigoted assholes that we would have to battle if and when this information ever became public? But most of all, why did he shut me down… turn his back on me and refuse to talk to me with no explanation, especially when he knew how I felt about being let down?

Mom? Edward? Nearly every authority figure from my childhood? Valerie? In some cases, the justice system? And now you?

And what’s his answer? That same narrow-minded bullshit. I’m supposed to understand that when I came to him and was honest with him so that he wouldn’t discover this shit in the media, he turned his back on me! Physically blocked my number from his phone so that I couldn’t speak to him. When I finally did get through to him, he didn’t say, “You have to give me some time; I can’t process this right now.” He didn’t even have the decency to yell and scream at me and ask me why and tell me that he didn’t want to talk about this; he would have to talk about it some other time. He just gave me that lame ass shit, “Can’t talk now, busy,” and hung up in my ear.

And I’m supposed to understand that my hero—my Daddy—shut me down because of this same petty, small-minded, Puritanical, uninformed, “it’s on the internet, so it must be true” thinking that I’ve already had to battle in so many aspects of my life. Yeah… okay… sure thing.

Christian holds me close to him, saying nothing, but rubbing soothing circles in my back. I want to stop crying. I’m tired of crying, but my heart is bleeding again and I don’t know how.

“Please, Annie,” I hear Daddy’s voice across from me, beseeching. “Please stop crying. I can’t take it anymore… please…”

“You made me feel like nothing!” I sob. “Less than nothing! Like nobody! I wouldn’t do that to you. Even now, I wouldn’t do that to you. Even now, as angry as I am, I would not do that to you! I would never do that to you!”

“I know, Annie, and I feel horrible for that. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I couldn’t see or think straight and I’m sorry. Please, Sunflower… please…”

His voice is so broken that I can’t imagine causing him the type of pain that he’s causing me. I do my best to pull myself together even though my heart is still breaking. Christian smooths my hair off my face and uses his robe to wipe my tears, kissing my eyelids as my weeping subsides. He’s so good to me, so tender and sweet. He makes all the bad feel better. I don’t know what I would do without him here.

“So, what happened?” I say with shuddering breaths, turning on my husband’s lap to look at my father. “What great breakthrough occurred that you suddenly understand that my husband doesn’t use me as some random piece of meat for his sadistic entertainment when the doors are closed?” I couldn’t stop the venom that seeps into the words as I speak them. Daddy sighs.

“I… talked to some people, and some people talked to me.” He throws a glance at Christian, then drops his head. Mandy is sitting on the ottoman next to him, comforting Harry, who was also crying moments ago. Daddy puts his arm around her waist. “They helped me understand how much of a narrow-minded asshole I was being.”

“But you couldn’t listen to me…” I conclude.

“I couldn’t hear it from you, Annie,” he says, “any more than I could hear it from the girls that I saw years ago, in those clubs—even more so from you, because you’re my little girl. I know you don’t understand that right now. I know you can’t. All I can say is that in the future, if your daughter comes to you with some really hard news for you to stomach, remember this conversation.”

I hope to God that I never make Minnie feel like this.

“No offense, Dad, but I can’t see ever making my daughter feel like this,” I shoot. Christian gives me a squeeze. I know this is his way of telling me to give my father a break. I don’t know if I can. I know I have to, because if I don’t, I’ll be treating him the same way that he treated me. That’s no good.

“That’s because she’s a baby,” he says. “Wait until she grows up and the big bad world starts doing horrible things to her… things that you can save her from no matter how hard you try.” His voice cracks and his head falls. “You’d put yourself in harm’s way before you let anything happen to her, but things keep happening and happening… horrible things! Things you wouldn’t wish on your worse enemy! And you’re powerless… you’re powerless to stop them…”

He’s not talking about Minnie. He’s talking about me. Of course, he’s talking about me.

“One monster is killed and another monster is right behind it!” he bites through clenched teeth, his fists so tight that his knuckles are white. “They just keep coming and coming and she keeps slaying them—and just when you think she’s found her solace…”

He trails off mid-sentence and weeps so bitterly than the pain in my heart is replaced with sorrow and sympathy for him. I crawl out of Christian’s lap and onto the floor in front of my Daddy. I wrap my arms around his neck and will him to stop crying.

“I just… can’t keep… the Boogeyman away,” he sobs. “I promised… to keep him away… and I can’t!” His body shakes in my arms as he weeps from his soul, and I let him. He won’t be able to hear me until he gets this out… gets over this initial wave, so I just let him cry.

It takes several minutes. Christian has time to get us all some water. Mandy has put Little Harry down to sleep, and I comfort my father, stroking his hair like I do my husband when he’s inconsolable—how I’ll most likely do my children when they cry. When he’s finally had his cry out, my nightshirt soaked with his tears, I attempt to garner his attention.

“You did keep the Boogeyman away, Daddy,” I say softly. “You’re the only thing that did. That’s why it hurt so badly when you shut me out. My ultimate protector, my hero, shut me out… and I was lost.” He raises his head and tired, red, tear-filled green eyes meet my sympathetic blues. “The things that happen to me are not the Boogeyman, Daddy. They’re horrible, horrible facts of life that happen to people every day—maybe not all the same people, but they do. The Boogeyman is what happens here.” I point to my head.

“I help chase the Boogeyman away from other people. Although I have other people in my life that help chase the Boogeyman away for me, you’re the Gatekeeper. You always have been. Even when you weren’t physically there, you were still the Gatekeeper because even though I was taken away from you, I knew you would never leave me. This is the first time you have ever walked away from your post.” I hold his face in my hands and look him in the eyes, refusing to allow him to turn his gaze from me. “Don’t. Do it. Again.”

His lips tremble and the tears begin to fall once more.

“I won’t, Annie,” he says with a shaky voice. “I swear to God I won’t.”

I hug him again and allow him to cry a little longer on my shoulder. Superman wasn’t so super right now and just needed to be vulnerable for a while. I may not ever understand or fully get over him deserting me at one of the moments where I needed him the most, but I do have to understand that he’s only human and we’re all flawed in some way. Even if I want him to be perfect, even Superman has his Kryptonite.

*-*

I’m in my bedroom with my pillow shoved into my mouth, trying not to scream as Christian brings me to my second orgasm. He has licked, sucked, kissed, and fingered my pussy hard, deep, and fast, causing me to quickly explode—once nearly moments after he touched me and again twenty minutes later. I’m panting on my bed, shivering from my releases  and trying to catch my breath. He crawls up the bed and lies next to me, still in his T-shirt and sweats, kissing me on my cheek and neck.

“What…. brought that… on?” I ask between breaths. He kisses me a few more times, then hovers over my face.

“You’ve touched three products since you’ve been in this room,” he says softly while counting on his fingers. “Lotion, moisturizer, deodorant—you’ve dropped all three of them. You needed to relax.”

And relax I did!

“What about you?” I say, closing my eyes while his lips wander back over the skin of my neck.

“I’m fine, Mrs. Grey,” he says. “When I take you, I don’t want your father and your stepmother in the next room… because the pillow won’t do you any good.” He kisses me gently on the lips, but sensually on the lips. I sink into the delicious kiss, knowing that we both have to get up from here soon. That point was driven home when there’s a soft knock at the door. Christian groans into my mouth and after breaking the kiss and giving my bottom lip a little nip, pushes himself off of me to answer the door. I finally get a good grip on my moisturizer and pour some in my hand, spreading it evenly over my face. My hair has been in these braids all night, so I can either leave it there or take it down and let it flow into soft waves down my back. Did I have anything planned for today. As soon as I’m finished brushing my teeth, Christian comes into the en suite, his expression unreadable.

“What is it?” I ask.

“That was Amanda,” he begins, “Al called Ray because both our phones are dead.” Oh… yeah, I didn’t bring a charger with me. I assume he doesn’t have one either. Maybe I have one around her somewhere.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

“The verdict is in.”

*-*

I had less than an hour to get myself presentable so that we could get to the courthouse. Al had driven Christian over yesterday, so we would take my car and rendezvous with Jason and the rest of the security staff near the courthouse. Daddy wanted to be there with me, but we insisted that this was no place for Little Harry. Mandy was pacified to take Harry home and start dinner to allow Daddy to come to court with me on the condition that no matter what the verdict, we come to the house in Kent afterwards for dinner. I was sure that I would miss my appointment with Ace anyway, so I called to let him know what was going on and to tell him that there was a lot that we needed to talk about. He doesn’t usually make house calls, but agreed to come and see me tomorrow at the Crossing since doing so would be easier than opening his office. I agreed to his terms. Seems I was making deals all over the place today.

I also had to make a deal with my wardrobe.

Size four waistline, size I-don’t-even-know boobs and ass… in a size four closet. Hmmmm….

I did find an outfit that would make due, but it clung to every one of my curves, much like that dreaded dress I wore to the fundraising fiasco last year. A charcoal gray high-waisted pencil skirt with side ruching that, had it been made of any other material, would not give me much purchase to move and a black mock turtleneck. I did decide to take my hair down, of course, and wore big, chunky silver jewelry. Someone had brought my purse and phone when they brought Christian’s things—they must have thought I had more at the condo that I could fit. That wasn’t completely untrue, but only a few things that might have been presentable for court, and not many that I could find in the time allotted.

I was forced—not so begrudgingly, I might add—to wear one of my pairs of insanely high-heeled shoes. I chose a pair of Giuseppe Zanotti black leather back-zip stiletto sandals with toe band, S-shaped vamp strap, and ankle strap embellished with silver-tone curb chain to match my jewelry. With nearly a five-inch heel, I was towering over most of the people at the courthouse. My Gareth Pugh bolero insert woven coat had a shawl collar and an asymmetrical hem that draped all over, giving it a suit coat look rather than an overcoat. The same charcoal gray as my skirt with a belted waist, I decided to wear it as just that.

We were almost late getting to the courthouse as Christian freezes when he had comes back into the room, unable to take his eyes—or his hands—off my ass wrapped tight that pencil skirt. When I get a glimpse of him in the mirror, I’m fucking panting. Black on black Hugo Boss suit and the signature black Italian leather shoes… even his shirt and silk tie were black. He’s mouth-wateringly beautiful, and when I turn around to wrap him in my arms and kiss him deeply while he shamelessly gropes my ass, we almost forget that we have somewhere to be.

But alas, we did. So here we sit, in a courtroom packed to the walls with people, only a few seats remaining in the very back. Al had managed to have the front row cleared for us, and no one would dare argue with Chuck and Ben as they stood guard, saving the seats until we got there. I am flanked by my father and my husband, each holding one of my hands, when they bring the Pedo-bitch back into the courtroom. She looks matronly today in a color I never thought I’d ever see her wear.

White.

Well, it’s more of a cream… a sheath dress, very neat and professional. She still looks like a stank-ass, slutty, nasty, filthy, slimy, Pedo-Bitch She-Thing demon from hell to me.

“That can’t be the same woman,” Daddy says. “Is that the same woman?”

“Yeah, Daddy, that’s what she looks like without all the Botox, lypo, and chemical peels,” I say. Jason chokes back a laugh.

“She needed ‘em,” Daddy says. “She’s not very attractive.”

“She was once,” Christian admits, without looking in her direction, “but after you continuously do that shit, eventually it wreaks havoc on your body.” He has no malice when he says it; he’s just speaking the truth. Just like she’s done for the entire trial, she steals glances over her shoulder at Christian, this time, not bothering to scowl at me. That’s right, Bitch. Get a good look at him. Soon, you won’t be seeing him again for a long time, no matter what this verdict is.


A/N: Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/becoming-dr-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  
Lynn X

 

Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 70—She-Thing Speaks

GREAT NEWS!!!

You all can kill that super long email. I have two REAL email addresses now, so save these instead...


bg.holmes@butterflysaga.com
AND
bronzegoddess@butterflysaga.com

If you are not getting the email, please check your spam folder and if you have Gmail, check in the “promotions” folder.

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 70—She-Thing Speaks

ANASTASIA

I always scan the morning news online before I start my day. Today, I’m more than anxious to see what has been said about the trial. Most posts say basically the same thing:

Grey’s camp released a statement yesterday just as Mr. Grey was testifying that he was one of the boys that was molested by Elena Lincoln years ago. While the evidence piles up more and more against the Seattle socialite, Grey shares an intimate moment with his wife in the halls of the Superior Court following his testimony and before joining his friend and bodyguard, Jason Taylor, in the courtroom. Oblivious to the nearby cameras, Mr. and Mrs. Grey comfort each other tenderly before Mr. Grey reluctantly releases her and leaves her in the capable hands of her personal bodyguard, Charles Davenport. This hidden camera catches the longing look in her eye as she watches her husband disappear back into the courtroom while she anxiously awaits his return or her opportunity to join him. Sorry, folks, for those of you who may have doubted, this kind of affection can’t be faked. This is the real thing. These two are smitten and besotted with one another, even during this trying time—no pun intended.

There’s no mention yet of any speculation of Underwood’s comment about Christian partaking in the lifestyle, even though it was hinted at in the courtroom according to my husband. He’s right, though. That bitch won’t hesitate to throw him under the bus given the opportunity.

I want to try to talk to Daddy again today, but not first thing in the morning. I’ll try to call him during lunch to see if the shock of the situation has worn off at all and he’s more receptive to reason. I can understand why this would be a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s only because he’s not getting the correct picture of what we do. Our practice is sensuality, not torment. I need him to see that—see his daughter as a sensual creature, which all women are… not a sexual deviant, which I definitely am not.

When we arrive at the courthouse, I discover that some of the police officers as well as the staff at GEH testified yesterday. Today, we will be hearing from more officers from the scene, miscellaneous witnesses, hospital staff, forensics, and finally, the psychiatrist for the prosecution. She-Thing is dressed in black today, a conservative suit like the one she wore yesterday, still sporting the handcuffs as is protocol, her hair still in the same short, curly style. No use in keeping the brassy blonde when you can’t get touch-ups, right?

She stole more glances at us today, looking longingly over her shoulder at Christian and scowling when I turned my glare to her. I made sure to turn my glare to her every time I caught her stealing a glance at my husband.

I showed little interest in the dry testimony of the officers and staff. It was the same old story over and over, just from different points of view—coming into the office to find Elena unconscious and badly choked and beaten; where they found the gun; taking Jason’s statement once he was conscious. Then the hospital staff describing her nervous breakdown or whatever you want to call it. We took a break for lunch and I called my father, but it rang through to voice mail. So, I left him a message to please call me back so that we could talk.

I was very interested in the psychiatrist’s evaluation—the one for the prosecution, that is—to see what he feels about the defense’s claim of acute pathological narcissistic personality disorder.

Pathological narcissistic bullshit is more like it.

It appears that the psychiatrist for the prosecution agrees with me. This condition is nothing more than some psycho-babble-mumbo-jumbo set of words strung together to further make our profession look like a cauldron full of quacks. According to the good doctor, Mrs. Lincoln shows absolutely no signs whatsoever of any diminished capacity or of the lack of knowledge or belief that her actions would have very severe repercussions. In fact, she was so in tuned to her actions that she would go to great lengths to convince the court and anyone listening that she had no idea that the laws of the land, morality, or even science applied to her if it meant that she could get away with what she did. She’s not incompetent, incapacitated, or deluded, narcissistic, or selfish to the degree of diminished capacity. She’s just a scorned lover and a very good actress, but the trained eye can see right through her.

The prosecution rests with the good doctor’s testimony and court is adjourned until Wednesday morning. I try to reach my father again after dinner, but still no luck. Is he avoiding me?

Wednesday morning is the day we’ve all been waiting for… or dreading, depending on your point of view. This is the day the defense presents its case and Elena Lincoln will take the stand. Her attorney thought it best for her to testify last, so hospital staff in her defense testify about how broken she was when she was brought in after the melee with that “brutal woman,” and how fragile she was during her breakdown. Prison staff talk about suicide watches and often finding her with unexplained bruises that they felt were self-inflicted. The prosecution rips them apart, pointing out that if those bruises were indeed self-inflicted, doesn’t it stand to reason that Mrs. Lincoln was so wracked with guilt over her actions that she felt she deserved some sort of punishment for her actions after all? No one provides a suitable answer.

Finally, the defense’s expert witness is called to explain the particulars of acute pathological narcissistic personality disorder. He’s so busy talking in circles that even I didn’t understand what he was trying to say. I couldn’t believe the court approved this man to be an expert witness for the defense, but hey, at least they didn’t just pull a rabbit out of a hat and try to put him on the stand like David did. Once again, the prosecution rips him apart. Skinner makes this joker explain every single sentence he tries to put past the jury. He makes the doctor break each term further and further down into laymen’s terms until the average man can understand what he was trying to say. When the doctor tries to explain something away with, “Well, to try to explain the intricacies of the human brain to that level of detail would take more time than we have, counselor, since you have no medical degree,” Skinner retorts with, “But doctor, a woman’s life is at stake here. Twelve people with no medical degree need to understand what you’re trying to tell them so that they can decide her fate. They have all the time in the world. You don’t?”

I really like this guy.

Needless to say, that pathological acute kiss-my-ass mumbo-bullshit was exactly what the prosecution said it was when Mr. You-Don’t-Have-A-Medical-Degree broke it down.

When lunchtime came around again and Daddy’s phone went straight to voice mail, I left him a message and decided to call Mandy.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Mandy. It’s Ana. How are you?” She’s quiet at first, but then she speaks.

“I’m fine, Ana, how are you?” I pause.

“He’s told you,” I conclude.

“Yes, he has,” she says noncommittal.

“And your conclusions?” I ask. She sighs.

“I’m not one to judge, Ana,” she says. “What people do in their private time has nothing to do with me.”

“It’s not what he thinks…” I begin.

“I can’t get in the middle of it,” she cuts me off. I’m taken aback.

“Okay, what do you think?” I ask.

“Like you, I know there are different aspects of the lifestyle. I have friends who are involved.” I know!

“Then why can’t you help me help him understand that?” I plead.

“Because he’s my husband, Ana. You have to understand where that puts me in this.” As much as I don’t want to admit it, she’s right. I want Daddy to understand and I want her help, but I can’t pull her into this.

“I do. You’re right. I’m sorry. Is anything wrong with his phone?” I ask.

“Not that I know of,” she says. I nod.

“Then he is avoiding me,” I say out loud. “Okay, thanks Mandy.” I say my goodbyes and end the call. I put on a brave face and go back to the courtroom to hear Elena’s bullshit testimony.

*-*

“State your name for the record.”

“Elena Gabriele Lincoln.”

“And Mrs. Lincoln, where do you reside?”

“Currently with the Washington Department of Corrections.”

“How about before that?” her attorney asks.

“I had a home in Kirkland.”

“And what happened to your Kirkland home, Mrs. Lincoln?”

“It was seized as evidence in a criminal investigation. I think it’s in the hands of a trustee now.”

“Mrs. Lincoln, can you tell the court what criminal investigation resulted in the seizure of your home?”

“Objection, Your Honor. Relevance?” Mr. Skinner protests.

“Your Honor, we are serving to establish Mrs. Lincoln’s state of mind at the time of the alleged crime. This information is pertinent to that establishment,” the defense retorts.

“I’ll allow it, but tread carefully, Mr. Underwood,” the judge warns.

“Thank you, Your Honor. Mrs. Lincoln, again, what criminal investigation resulted in the seizure of your home?”

“I… was charged with child pornography, statutory rape, and molestation charges.” Members of the jury gasp. I can’t believe they found twelve people in the state of Washington who don’t know who this woman is. I know Christian mentioned it in his testimony, but I think it had more impact coming from her own lips.

“How did you fare on those charges?” Underwood asks. She-Thing sighs.

“Twenty-five years,” she answers.

“Tell us how this came about, Mrs. Lincoln. How did you find yourself in this predicament?” That’s easy. She beat and fucked young boys. Do we really need to hear this part again? She drops her head.

“The way that I was brought up, there was nothing wrong with what I did.” What the fuck? Did she really just say that!? “If a person consents to it, then it’s okay. Age had nothing to do with it and even if it did, the rules don’t apply to me.”

What? What the hell is this? I look over at Christian and his face is impassive, completely stoic. How could he sit there and listen to this crap without wanting to leap over the half-wall and kill this bitch?

“I’m sure that the court would like to know why you think the rules don’t apply to you, Mrs. Lincoln,” her attorney says.

“Because they don’t,” she said with a shrug. “I’m superior. I’m not plain or ordinary like everybody else. The rules apply to them, not to me. I’m extraordinary. I’m special. It’s different for me.”

“So, by your reasoning, even though the law says that it’s not okay for anyone to have sex with underage boys, it was okay for you to do it because you are different.” She just laughs.

“That even sounds ridiculous to me,” she admits, “but yes, I am different. The rules that constrain society—America, even—they don’t constrain me because they don’t apply to me. My level of excellence is so far beyond the conception of ordinary people. This is why I didn’t have many friends because they couldn’t comprehend me. They couldn’t reach my level. It was impossible for them to grasp my superiority, so I had to leave them behind.”

“But little boys could grasp your superiority?”

“Yes, because they were untainted,” she replies like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “I didn’t have to explain away who I was with them. They accepted my superiority and allowed to me to mold them and shape them. They were fine with what I was doing. It’s everyone else that didn’t like it because they didn’t understand. They couldn’t interpret my greatness so they slapped a societal label on me and said that I was hurting young boys. Why don’t you ask the young boys? They would tell you different.” She looks right at Christian who is still looking at her impassively.

“Mrs. Lincoln, you had to know that there was something wrong with what you were doing. I mean, you did it at night and behind closed doors. You hid the evidence in priceless books…”

“I’m sorry, Counselor, do you have sex on your front lawn?” she says in all seriousness. Does she honestly think there was nothing wrong with what she did or is this all part of her defense? That’s when it hits me. Months ago, Christian asked me if she could use narcissism as a defense and it looks like that’s exactly what she’s trying to do. That’s why he’s sitting there impassively, because he knew this was coming. Holy shitballs! I squeeze his hand gently and he squeezes back to let me know that he is still there, but he never takes his eyes off She-Thing.

“Mrs. Lincoln, let’s fast forward a bit to a little over a year ago. You had one friend, didn’t you?” She smiles at the thought of it, psycho fucking bitch.

“Yes, I did,” she says wistfully.

“And who was that friend?”

“Christian Grey,” she says, almost purring. “I’m not allowed to say his name out loud at the prison. They punish me for that.”

“Objection. Your Honor?” Mr. Skinner leaps from his seat.

“Sustained. Counselor, direct your client not to make accusations on the stand unless she can back them up and she is ready to press charges. If she wants a full-on investigation, then by all means, proceed.” Underwood looks at She-Thing, who briefly blanches white as a ghost before returning to her superior self.

“Tell the court about your friendship with Christian Grey.” She folds her hands and sighs.

“We were partners in my salon chain, Esclava, but we were much more than that. We were kindred spirits. He understood me. He let me be myself when I was around him and we shared many things.”

“Were you lovers, Mrs. Lincoln?”

“Yes,” she confessed. “We were lovers for many years. He was insatiable and I couldn’t get enough of him.” She drops her head again. “He had other companions, part-time playthings…” Oh God, is she going to out him on the stand like Christian said? She certainly has nothing else to lose. “… But I was the one he always came back to… eventually. As time went by, our interludes became fewer and fewer until… he… didn’t seem to want me as much anymore. Then she showed up and suddenly, he didn’t want me at all!” she hisses.

She-Thing throws a murderous look in my direction and I can actually hear Christian growling.  My glance goes quickly to his stoic face as does the eyes of several people in the courtroom, but he never breaks his glare with She-Thing. She must not have heard him because she’s still glaring at me.

She, Mrs. Lincoln?” her attorney presses.

“That woman, and I use that term lightly. Anastasia Steele!” Her tone is venomous.

“You mean Anastasia Grey…”

“No, I mean Anastasia Steele. I will not now, nor will I ever call her by that name!” People in the courtroom are just shaking their heads. Her hatred is thick and suffocating, so tangible that it’s hanging in the air like old cobwebs. I never break glance with her. Go ahead, Grandma, make a move. I’ll beat your ass again!

“When she came along, she turned him against me. She filled his head with lies about our relationship. She convinced him that I was out to get him, that I was no good for him. I made him everything that he is and she took it all away from me in no time flat. I had spent years building him into the man thatz he became and she tore him down—into a shell of his former self—in a matter of weeks! It was devastating to watch!”

“Surely you’re wrong, Mrs. Lincoln. I mean, he seems perfectly happy now,” her attorney continues.

“It’s all an act,” she says, waving him off. “Would you be so ready to tell the world that you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life after you’ve flaunted your decision on live television? The whole kidnapping scandal and that farce of an engagement… Every time you look around, she’s got a camera in her face.”

“But it couldn’t have been a farce. They’re married,” he says. She scoffs and throws her hand again.

“All a part of the act,” she says callously. “Make no mistake, Christian loves me. I don’t know what this game is that he’s playing with her, but ultimately, it’s always me.” She crosses her legs and smiles confidently.

“If you love him so much, why did you try to kill him?” her attorney asks, his tone changing to maudlin as he awaits her answer. She swallows hard before responding.

“I wasn’t trying to kill him,” she says, her voice shaking. “I was trying to free him. He was trapped. I’m telling you, he was nothing like the man who I knew for so many years. He changed. He was making bad business decisions, he was cutting off the only friends that he knew, he was acting completely out of character, and I couldn’t get through to him. I tried. Lord knows, I tried. Every time I tried, she was right there to head me off. I couldn’t get to him. He wouldn’t see me or speak to me. It was like he was hypnotized! He was cold and unfeeling towards me—after years and years as friends and lovers, suddenly he gets a new piece of ass and I’m nobody!” she barks.

“You sound like a spurned lover. Isn’t that what it really boils down to, Mrs. Lincoln?”

“Oh, of course not!” she scolds. “Don’t you understand? She was destroying him. She still is! Ever since he met her, he’s been shaving off lucrative business.” He’s not shaving off lucrative businesses. He’s downsizing and dropping dead weight—and how would she even know that? Does this bitch have another spy in his company? “I mean, look at me. We were making money hand over fist with those salons! Then he decides to let the banks take them away.”

“He still has the salons, though, Mrs. Lincoln.”

“Yes, but without me! I was the draw, the advertisement. Everyone wanted to look like me—my tight skin, flawless body, and golden tresses. I’ve been in this hellhole for so long that you wouldn’t know it, but I was a real looker! Then she came along and ruined it all!” She throws another threatening glance at me and I just shake my head.

“Let’s talk about her for a moment, Mrs. Lincoln…” Underwood begins.

“Objection, relevance,” comes from the prosecution.

“Once again, Your Honor, it goes to her state of mind.”

“Overruled, but you may want to get to the point, Counselor,” the judge warns and Underwood nods.

“Mrs. Lincoln, how did you and Mrs. Grey meet?”

“I met Ms. Steele when I came to visit Christian one day. She was at his apartment walking around wearing barely nothing in front of his guest and staff. Quite frankly, I wasn’t sure who she was sleeping with.” She folds her arms and smirks at me.

“What happened that day?”

“I was minding my own business waiting for Christian and she snatched the stool I was sitting on right out from under me!” she exclaims. I gasp loud enough for several members of the jury to turn around and see me scowling at her, gape-mouthed and horrified that she twisted the events that way. “When I attempted to defend myself, she hit me with a piece of fruit and pushed me down face first into the marble floor.” I scoff loudly, further appalled at her lack of details. I mean, in essence, that is what happened, but she completely left out that Christian ask her to leave, that she threw that same piece of fruit at me first, and that she was charging at me when she met the marble floor. Christian squeezes my hand.

“Breathe,” he says softly in my ear, a queue for me to keep my cool. I look over at him, angry that I can’t climb over this wall and choke that bitch right there on the witness stand. I sit back in my seat like a petulant child and take a few deep breaths. I’m literally pouting and she smirks slightly at me. While she’s still looking in our direction, Christian weaves his fingers into mine and pulls my hand to his lips in a gentle kiss that calms me immediately. That smirk slides quickly off her already fallen face.

“What happened next, Mrs. Lincoln?” She draws her eyes back to her attorney and sighs.

“I left before Ms. Steele could brutalize me any further. She was desperate for me not to speak to Christian. That’s how I know that she was brainwashing him and turning him against me.”

“And that’s why you don’t care for Mrs. Grey—not because she’s with Christian?”

“I don’t care for Ms. Steele because she turned one of my dearest friends against me, then she used violence to keep me from speaking to him! She’s no competition for me! I’ve been in jail and unable to take care of myself properly, but before this, I was a bombshell, and I can be again. I know how to please a man better than she does and I’m ten times the woman that she could ever be on my worst day. Ms. Steele just kept me from seeing Christian.”

“Your Honor,” the prosecution interjects, “since we are on the record, can you please direct Mrs. Lincoln to refer to Mrs. Grey by her legal name?”

“Unfortunately, Counselor, she can call her whatever she wants as long as we have established that she is referring to Mrs. Grey,” the judge responds. Now why did he say that? A look of pure glee comes over She-Thing’s face and I know that I need to steel myself and prepare for a barrage of name-calling for the duration of her testimony. “Continue.”

“So, you’re saying that no matter how many times you tried to talk to Christian, Mrs. Grey kept you from seeing him?” her attorney continues.

“Yes. That mousy little gold-digger headed me off at every turn.” And it begins. “I couldn’t get within ten feet of him without ending up with some kind of physical or emotional injury.”

“Such as?”

“Well, the tramp chipped my tooth on the marble floor. Then she attacked me at a charity meeting and I had bruises from that. The whore said something to Christian the next day at his parents’ house and he humiliated and shunned me in front of his entire family. Of course, the cow convinced him to take my salons away. I came to see him one night at his apartment where I have always been welcome before the skank came along, and I get accosted by her sissy best friend! I finally decide that I’m not going to allow anything to stop me from seeing him, so I go straight up to his apartment and sit right at his breakfast bar only to have that hooker put a knife to my throat! The next thing I know, there’s a restraining order against me all because he had that little slut whispering in his ear!” Oh, this is classy.

“Your Honor!” Mr. Skinner has risen from his seat with his hands held out to the side of him in a gesture that just screams, “Seriously?” The judge puts his pen down and turns to the witness stand.

“Mrs. Lincoln, if you so choose, you do not have to refer to her as Mrs. Grey, but let me inform you that your ad lib and theatrics are not only unbecoming and unladylike, but they are also very distracting—and they’re not helping your case any either. I think I, the jury, and the entire courtroom all clearly understand that you have a very high level of disdain for Mrs. Grey, but if you continue to do that, I will hold you in contempt of court for attempting to influence or intimidate a witness since she is in the courtroom. Have I made myself clear?”

She-Thing looks at the judge and then at her attorney. Some unspoken communication passes between them before she deliberately looks anywhere but at the judge and says, “Yes, you have.” Now, the judge is even beginning to get irritated with her.

“Counselor, let me warn you that I really don’t care that Mrs. Lincoln seems to think that the rules don’t apply to her. The rules of this courtroom do! So, if you need a moment to instruct your client on how to behave on the stand, we can take a brief recess.” I can see She-Thing’s lawyer blanch from where I’m sitting as he clearly didn’t expect this reaction.

“Um, no, Your Honor. I think Mrs. Lincoln understands that she should no longer call Mrs. Grey unbecoming names,” he says chastised. She-Thing shows absolutely no remorse at all. I’m glad they stopped her—she was running out of things to call me. “So, Mrs. Lincoln, we have established that your feelings towards Mrs. Grey were brought on one, by how she treated you and two, because she drove a wedge between you Christian. So, why try to kill Christian?” She sighs again.

“For heaven’s sake, I wasn’t trying to kill him! How many times do I have to tell you that? I was trying to free him. Christian couldn’t escape from her grasp, from her influence. I don’t know what she was doing to him, but whatever it was, it was destroying him! He was making bad decisions; he cut off the only two friends that he had…” She’s talking about Flynn. Somebody else is giving her information. Flynn didn’t speak to her, so he wouldn’t have told her that. I look over at Christian who still has the impassive-killer look on his face right now. “He was doing things completely out of character, including stripping down his companies. I’m certain that she wants his money and his mind and she wants to break him and his spirit in the process, and he couldn’t see it. I had to free him. I couldn’t stand to see this happening to him. I love him.” Her voice is beseeching now and if I didn’t know her personally, I would think I was a crazy, manipulative bitch, too. Even certain members of the jury are looking at me sideways now. The attorney goes over to the evidence table and picks up my gun, which is encased in a plastic bag.

“This gun, this was your choice of freedom for Christian?” he asks her and she nods.

“It would be quick,” she says, her voice cracking. “He wouldn’t suffer. I couldn’t stand it if he suffered. He was already suffering because of… her.” She drops her head.

“Let the record show that I am referring to state’s evidence exhibit 4,” her attorney says. “The prosecution has already argued that this is Mrs. Grey’s gun,” he says, turning his attention back to She-Thing.

“So I’m told,” she answers.

“How did you get it?”

“A mutual acquaintance acquired it for me,” she answers.

“How so? Mrs. Grey indicated in this police report,” he picks up another item from the evidence table, “that her gun was stolen from a locked-drawer in her apartment approximately three weeks prior to the date that you showed up at Grey House.” She shrugs.

“I know that, but I believed that the day would come when Christian knew that he would need me, which is why he told me about the gun.” There are gasps in the courtroom again, including from me. Christian still hasn’t moved or changed his expression.

He told you about the gun?” her attorney presses. She nods.

“He certainly did,” she continues. “Everybody knew that she carried them. She even pulled a gun on the guy that killed himself this weekend. She’s toxic to everything she touches and not only did she get her claws into my Christian, but she also waves these weapons around like Calamity Jane, threatening anyone who dare cross her path. I believe that whole thing with the kidnapping last year was just a ploy to get Christian’s attention. The dead guy responsible for the kidnapping told a close friend of mine that she pulled a gun on the poor man in her parking garage.”

“Objection, hearsay.”

“Sustained,” the judge says. So, Harris told the mole that I had guns and it got back to She-Thing. Why did she say that Christian told her?

“Who is this mutual friend that procured the gun for you?”

“I refuse to tell you,” she says. “I’m already on trial for trying to save the man that I love. There’s no use in anyone else going down.” Hmmm, conscience…

“But that information could make it easier on you, Mrs. Lincoln…”

“No, I can’t, because I didn’t do anything wrong. Someone gave me the gun, the gun that my Christian led me to because he knew that I would have to save him at some point.”

“And how did he lead you to her gun?”

“He told me that she dismantles them in his apartment. The fact that one would be in the nightstand next to her bed is a given.” My stomach falls. He—or someone—told that woman that I dismantle my guns at his apartment. It couldn’t have been Christian. There’s no way that he would tell her something that she could potentially use against me. He must sense my feelings because he squeezes my hand tighter, but never changes his expression. I look over at him and he is still steadfastly focused on the front of the courtroom.

“So you honestly think that Christian led you to the gun so that you could later come back and kill… sorry, free him?” the attorney asks. I realize that he’s trying to take all the wind out of the prosecution’s cross-examination by asking all the questions they would ask, only he’s allowing her to answer in a way that supports this quack’s claim that she’s manically narcissistic and thought that her actions had no consequences.

“Why else would he tell me about her guns?” she asks. “He hates guns.”

“Mrs. Lincoln, Christian is a rich and powerful man. You don’t think that he could free himself anytime he wanted? You think that death was the only way out for him even if he decided that he wanted ‘out?’” I’m curious why he refers to him as Christian but refers to me as Mrs. Grey.

“Christian is not a vindictive man. He’s a shrewd and ruthless businessman, but not in his personal life.” I sit and listen to the many ways that I have ruined Christian and that this mutual acquaintance had access to my apartment and let someone else get my gun so that it couldn’t be traced back to either of them. We know that the acquaintance is Myrick, but now we know that there was a third accomplice.

She-Thing still maintains that even though she covered her tracks all the way until the crucial moment where she shot Jason, she still didn’t do anything wrong because the rules don’t apply to her. She simply didn’t want to dirty her hands with the details or to give anyone—namely me—any advance warning of what was coming. She had no idea that I would be at the office that day and the whole plan was for me to discover that she and Christian had gone hand-in-hand into the afterlife with two bullets from my gun.

It all sounds so logical if it wasn’t completely ridiculous.

“How did you feel after you discovered you had shot Jason Taylor?” her attorney asks.

“I didn’t shoot Jason Taylor. He jumped in front of the bullet! That’s not my fault. That’s like saying if someone jumps onto the freeway in front of my car that I ran them over.” Members of the jury laugh. I don’t know if they’re laughing at the ridiculousness of that analogy or because she really is funny.

“Okay, let’s rephrase. How did you feel after you discovered that Jason Taylor had jumped in front of your bullet?”

“I didn’t feel anything! That crazy bi…” She pauses and rolls her eyes. “Ms. Steele beat the hell out of me the moment the gun went off. I woke up in the hospital in cuffs!” She’s absolutely appalled that I had the nerve to kick her ass for trying to kill my man! “She should be the one on trial for assault, but no, they just let Little Ms. Perfect walk away Scot free…”

“Careful, Mrs. Lincoln,” the judge warns.

“I didn’t call her a bitch, Your Honor,” she says, almost innocently. The judge rolls his eyes and looks back down at his papers.

“What happened in the hospital, Mrs. Lincoln?” And now the tears start. I was wondering when they were coming.

“Christian came to see me. I awoke and he was standing next to my bed. I was so happy to see him, but then he opened his mouth and horrible things came out. He talked about wanting to kill me and doing everything that he could to make sure that I never got out of prison. He couldn’t see at all what I was trying to do for him… for us.” She breaks down at this moment. “I couldn’t stand it anymore. I got word that they had broken up and that she had left. I wanted to have a party because I knew that he was free of her and that I could come back and help him put his life back together… and then she was back. I turn my head for one minute and she’s back, like a bad rash! He was never going to be free of her and I just couldn’t stand it anymore, but he hated me. He hated me for trying to set him free. I wish I had killed myself now.” She’s weeping on the stand.

“No further questions at this time, Your Honor,” the defense says and proudly takes his seat. That sounded more like the cross-examination. Let’s see what the prosecution has in store. Mr. Skinner stands and walks over to She-Thing. He stands about three feet away from the witness stand and joins his hand behind his back. I can’t see the expression on his face as he observes She-Thing, but he stands there for a full minute while she weeps. She finally looks up at him while delicately dabbing her eyes.

“Are you enjoying the show?” she says, finally, her voice still weepy.

“Me? No,” he responds flatly, calling her out on her performance. He knows exactly what she’s doing and so do I. If he comes at her right now while she’s a blubbering mess on the witness stand, he will surely appear to be attacking her, and that’s all the jury will see. None of us can afford that. “I’m just giving you a few moments to… compose yourself. I know how difficult this can be.”

“Do you now?” she says, the venom coming through her tears. “How many times have you been accused of murder?”

“Well, none, but I’ve convicted several,” he says without malice. “So yes, I’m very well aware of how difficult this can be.”

“You must very proud of yourself,” she snaps.

“Well, yes and no,” Skinner responds, engaging her in the obvious fight that she’s trying to start. “I’m not happy at all when someone takes—or attempts to take—someone else’s life. However, I am extremely proud when I can serve my community by getting a murderer off the streets.” He says it with finality, but still no malice. “Alas, we’re not here to talk about me. Your Honor, maybe we should take a recess to allow Mrs. Lincoln a few moments alone.” The judge looks up at the prosecutor, then down at She-Thing.

“Do you need a few moments, Mrs. Lincoln?” Judge Burgess asks. She looks at him and back at Mr. Skinner.

“No,” she nearly growls, her earlier performance giving way to her obvious ire. “I certainly don’t want to delay the proceedings.” Her sarcasm is evident.

“Oh, no, by all means, take as long as you need. Justice can’t be rushed. We’ll wait for you. Please, get it all out.” He folds his arms, a clear indication to her that he knows what she’s doing and that he’ll play this game with her as long as she wants. She glares at him, then looks over at the jury. I look at the jury and most of them are sitting back in their seats, examining the spectacle with disinterest. She finally dries her face and sits up in her chair, glaring at the prosecutor. “Are you ready to proceed? Are you sure that you don’t need another moment or two?”

“No, I’m fine,” she says through gritted teeth.

“Good, then in that case, we’ll continue. I’d like to focus a little more on your childhood. You said earlier that you were taught that there was nothing wrong with child molestation…”

“Objection, Your Honor.” He was waiting for that opportunity and even though I’m no lawyer, I know exactly what the judge is about to say.

“You opened that door, Counselor. Overruled.” Bingo! The defense sits down, clearly defeated. How could you expect to use that information in her defense and it not be used against her by the prosecution? “Continue.”

“Mrs. Lincoln, you said earlier that you were taught that there was nothing wrong with child molestation. Who taught you this?”

She-Thing’s face freezes. What’s happening? I can usually tell where things are going. Right now, I don’t know what the horror is all about.

“I… um…” Hmm, something that she wasn’t coached on.

“This shouldn’t be a difficult question, Mrs. Lincoln. Who taught you that it was okay to molest children?”

“Well… I mean… it’s not like we sat around and had family meetings about it or anything like that!” she answers indignantly.

“Oh, so you’re saying that it was someone in your family?” She’s quiet again. “Mother? Father? Distant cousin?”

Psycho German aunt with no morals?
I know, right?

“I can’t say… exactly…”

“But you said that you were brought up this way, which means that you had to be told this continuously over the course of several years. Now you’re saying that you can’t say who taught you?”

“I mean to say that I won’t say who taught me,” she says indignantly. He chuckles in disbelief.

“Mrs. Lincoln, you’re asking us to believe fantastic stories about your life and how you find yourself on this witness stand today accused of assault, conspiracy, and attempted murder. Yet, you choose to withhold detrimental details of these stories. That doesn’t fare well for you, and I’m not just saying that because I’m the prosecution.”

“Be that as it may, I will not drag anyone else down in this mess with me, especially not people who may be close to me.” Oooo, we’re playing the martyr now.

“Except Mrs. Grey,” he points out.

“She’s nobody. She’s not even collateral damage,” She-Thing hisses. I shake my head again. This has gone on for nearly two hours and Christian still hasn’t moved except to kiss my hand and comfort me that one time. He’s starting to worry me.

“That’s very noble of you, Mrs. Lincoln,” he says and she smiles.

“Thank you,” she says, crossing her legs.

“I only wish you had shown that same nobility when you were considering taking someone’s life. It would have saved us all a lot of time and energy,” he says flatly. A hush falls over the courtroom as Mr. Skinner walks back to the table and picks up his legal pad. “So, let’s get to the issue about rules in general. You believe that you are not confined by the rules, that they were made to apply to everyone else except you?”

“Well, there might be a handful of other special people out there, but none of them are like me.”

“But you are one of those special people who don’t have to follow the rules?” She nods.

“Yes, of course.”

“So, if Mrs. Grey believes that she’s one of those special people, then she could just go over to that table, pick up her gun, and blow your brains out right here in this courtroom and that would be okay, right?” She scoffs loudly.

“Of course not!” she almost yells. “There’s nothing special or remarkable about that little weasel…!”

“Mrs. Lincoln,” the judge warns.

“I’m sorry… there’s nothing special about her! She’s a nobody! I don’t care what her address is, what name she’s using, or how big her ring is, she’s still a nobody. You can drape as many diamonds on a weed as you want, but it will never become a rosebush!” Whoa! Mrs. Lincoln becomes philosophical. The prosecution chuckles again at her answer. I’m not sure what that tactic is, but it pisses her off a bit.

“Okay, so if one of those other special people came in here and decided to free you from these charges and the twenty-five years that you are currently facing in jail, that would be okay?” She pauses, clearly not sure how to answer this question.

“Well…” she’s on the ropes. “Of course, I wouldn’t like it, but there’s certainly no one out there as special as I am. So, they wouldn’t be able to do that to me.”

“Oh! This is intriguing. So, now you’re saying that there are levels of ‘special’—that there are certain people who are special, but not special enough to break all the rules,” he presses.

“I… don’t know what you’re saying,” she says, shaking her head.

“Well, you said that the rules don’t apply to you because you’re special, remarkable, and important. Yet, there’s no one out there that is special, remarkable, or important enough to murder you. So please, correct me if I’m wrong, but that dictates that your level of importance is higher than anyone else’s, doesn’t it?” She nods feverishly.

“Well, isn’t that obvious?” she squeaks.

“And Mrs. Grey is not important at all?”

“No, Ms. Steele has absolutely no importance whatsoever,” she says with a flip of her hand.

“How do you know that?” the prosecution asks. “Who determines who these special and important people are?” and she’s frozen again. “Mrs. Lincoln?”

“You just know,” she says.

“Oh, really? How do you know? Who told you that?”

“No one had to tell me that I’m special! I’ve known that all along!” I can see her defense attorney wildly trying to inconspicuously shake his head—if you can do both of those things at the same time… wildly and inconspicuously. He looks like he’s having a conniption. Ah… Mrs. Lincoln is straying from the script.

“Okay, so you’re telling us that no one influenced your belief that you don’t have to follow the rules per se. You came to the conclusion that you were special and unique and that you didn’t need to follow the rules all on your own?” She looks over at her attorney who is still shaking his head, but not as wildly. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Lincoln, do you need your attorney to answer that for you?”

Now, all of the attention is on Underwood, who is still wildly shaking his head. If there was ever a moment of truth, this is it. Each of the scenarios presented have a yes or no answer, but the answers have to be opposite. Which one do you answer?

“No,” she says softly, “no one had to tell me that I was special. Either you are or you aren’t.” She says that last part with conviction and I can almost see her attorney sagging in his chair. That was the wrong answer.

“Okay, so, we’ve established that no event or influence caused you to believe that you didn’t have to follow the rules. You just woke up one day and decided ‘laws don’t mean anything to me. I can just do whatever I want.’ Thank you for clarifying that for us, Mrs. Lincoln.” He looks back down at his legal pad.

“Wait! That’s… not what I meant.” She knows that she’s done something wrong. Mr. Skinner raises his head to her.

“Oh? I’m sorry. What did you mean?” He waits for her to answer the question. She sighs and never comes up with an answer. “Nothing? Nothing you want to add or refute?” She glares at him.

“No,” she says sharply. “This is ridiculous. I shouldn’t even be here. She should be on the stand for what she did to him, not me.”

“Well, unfortunately for you, Mrs. Lincoln, loving someone is not a crime punishable by law, whereas attempted murder is. Back to the matter at hand, you mentioned earlier that you believed that Mr. Grey told you about Mrs. Grey’s guns so that you could later free him, correct?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“Did he tell you where the guns were?”

“No.”

“Did he tell you what kind of guns they were?”

“Not that I can remember right now.”

“You said that he hates guns.” She nods.

“He’s always hated guns. He doesn’t even like the fact that his security sometimes has to carry guns.”

“Did you know that Mr. Grey is now a registered gun owner?” Mr. Skinner reveals. She-Thing gasps.

“What!? Do you see? That’s what I mean! The Christian that I knew would never carry a gun. He detests guns!”

“The Christian that you knew is a registered gun owner because of you. He bought the gun after you tried to kill him!” the prosecution points out.

“Objection!” Underwood protests.

“Sustained,” the judge replies.

“Strike the first statement; hold the second. Mr. Grey did apply for a license to carry a concealed weapon and acquire a firearm after you tried to free him!” Skinner rephrases.

“Oh, that’s hogwash. She put him up to that and I know it, so you can save that tactic.”

“I don’t need tactics, Mrs. Lincoln. You’re the one on trial here. The evidence against you is irrefutable and now you want the court to believe that you didn’t think killing a man had any consequences. If there’s anyone here that needs to save a tactic, it’s you!” he hisses.

“Objection, Your Honor!” the defense attorney nearly shouts.

“Withdrawn!” the prosecutor says, eying She-Thing with intense disdain.

We listen as Mr. Skinner breaks down every single excuse, crackpot lie, defense and distraction tactic that She-Thing comes up with. He uses her own words against her so many times that she can’t even manage to separate her lies. Each time she tries to pull that crying tactic, he just stops and goes over the testimony, makes additional notes, or confers with counsel at the prosecution table. He knows that at some point, her crying will lead to a theatrical production. She never gets to that point because he refuses to question her while she was crying to allow her to escalate to that degree. Each time she goes into preparation, he waits and then asks if she’s better or needs a recess before he continues his questioning.

When he gets to the shooting and presents the video of the incident again, Christian zones out completely. I’m certain that he’s in another time and place while the video is playing. I concentrate solely on him so as not to have a repeat of yesterday’s fainting spell. They play the entire thing all over again—from the moment that Christian hit the button to begin the recording to after I passed out and Christian told the detectives that there was a video of the entire incident.

She-Thing is pale now and getting paler by the second. Even after already seeing the video, many of the members of the jury look at me in what I can only label as stunned amazement. I know that I looked like a machine while I was kicking her ass, and it does lend credibility to her story that I was quite violent, especially since I choked the shit out of her on camera in an effort to send her miserable ass to hell—but then, I’m not the one on trial here. Even if I had killed her, I surely would have gotten off if she had shot Christian.

“You seemed pretty irrational and upset in that video, Mrs. Lincoln,” Mr. Skinner says.

“Of course, I was upset,” she says. “I was trying to get Christian to see what a big mistake he had made letting her control his life the way that he was, but he wouldn’t listen. He was only concerned with if I would hurt his precious little Butterfly.” God, I hate when she uses that term. She makes it sound dirty and defiled.

“Tell the court what you were thinking while you were brandishing that gun in Mr. Grey’s office that day.”

“I’ve already told you what I was thinking…”

“No, you told us what you were going to do. You didn’t tell us what you were thinking,” the prosecution says. She falls quiet again.

“’Oh God, I should just shoot you right now.’
“’You don’t want me to shoot your precious Butterfly.
“’Wouldn’t that be something, to die with a bullet from your own gun.’
“’You can’t give me whatever I want, Christian, because I want you and you want her.’
“’If I can’t have you, she sure as hell can’t have you. You don’t want me now, but you will in the afterlife, when you remember how good it used to be between us, when she’s not there anymore to interfere.’”

The prosecutor reads statement after statement that She-Thing made before she pulled the trigger. All the color leaves her face and I mean all of it. She looks like she’s dead. Her attorney looks like he has truly thrown in the towel. He just sits back in his chair with his hands folded in front of him.

“Forgive me, Mrs. Lincoln, but that doesn’t sound like a woman who doesn’t care about the rules. That sounds like a scorned woman who wants to get back at the two people that she feels hurt her the most. So again, I ask you, what were you thinking while you were brandishing that gun in Mr. Grey’s office that day?” Seeing no other opportunity to use her crying theatrics, she pulls them out now. She bursts into tears and leans forward in her seat.

“Why are you attacking me?” she cries.

“I’m sure that Mr. Grey and Mr. Taylor have the same question for you! Don’t you think they deserve an answer besides ‘you were trying to free him?’” the prosecution asks incredulously. “Exactly what were you trying to free him from—a loving and fulfilling relationship? A successful business? What!?”

“A conniving, manipulative woman!” She-Thing screams.

“Oh, I’d say he had already freed himself from that,” the prosecutor says flatly.

“Objection!” Underwood says, rising to his feet.

“To what?” The prosecutor turns to him with his hands out in a shrug.

“I have to also ask, to what, Counselor?” the judge asks.

“He’s… he’s… badgering the witness!” That’s the best that you can come up with?

“Overruled,” the judge says impassively. “Continue.” The prosecutor turns back to She-Thing.

“Mrs. Lincoln,” he begins, his voice sobering. “This will be your last chance to speak your piece, so I suggest that you make it good. The jury has seen the video of the shooting twice now. They have heard the of a psychiatrist who seems to confirm that you suffer from some mental disease where you feel that you are immune to the laws of this land and can therefore take another person’s life with no consequences. Mrs. Lincoln, let me be the first to look in your eye and tell you that I don’t think you’re insane for one second. I don’t even think you’re mentally impaired. I do, however, think that psychiatrist needs his head examined. I also think the entire concept that you are building your defense upon is crazy, and I would bet a year’s salary that I’m not the only person in this room who thinks so. The prosecution has brought forth witnesses that testified about your actions and behavior leading up to the shooting, and I will tell you that while your actions sound harassing and obsessive, I haven’t heard anything that would slightly convince me that you were suffering from the slightest level of insanity. While you have the opportunity to say so, I will ask you again to tell the court what you were thinking when you were brandishing that gun in Mr. Grey’s office?”

She-Thing turns wide, tear-filled eyes to Christian and never looks away.

“I was thinking that I had lost him forever,” she said softly. “I was thinking that he would never touch me again, never hold me again… that I would never see that look in his eyes where he desired me so. He looked at her with a hunger, an affection that I never saw. It cut right through me… I… I…” She’s choking on her words. These are the first real tears I think she’s shed all day. “She had him under some spell, I tell you!” She’s shaking and weeping. This is the Elena that I know—delusional Elena. “You don’t understand. He never would have turned me away, never. We were too close! I knew everything about him—everything! And then one day, nothing! He just kicked me out of his life! He didn’t want our friendship; he didn’t want our business. He wanted nothing to do with me. If she didn’t like it, he got rid of it—successful businesses that were making money for him, his friends, his way of life, he even changed shrinks!” How the fuck does she know that?

“He was brainwashed, I tell you. I know he was. He still is. Look at him!” She gestures to Christian who has stared stoically at her for upwards of four hours now. “He looks like a fucking robot! There’s no passion in his eyes. No life. He’s sat there like that for hours. Does that look like a happy man to you?” she rants. She’s now pulling in those shuddering breaths that indicate that she is really crying. The prosecution hands her a box of tissues. She takes a few, blows her nose and tries to clean her face from the real cry.

“Mrs. Lincoln?” The prosecution says softly. She raises her head. “The reason Mr. Grey has been looking passionless and dead for the last several hours is because he’s been staring at you.” Mr. Skinner pauses for a moment to let that soak in a bit. She-Thing looks back over to Christian and he moves the only other time since he kissed my hand…

He nods once.

She drops down to the edge of the witness stand, her face buried in her arms, and she is bawling her eyes out.

“No more questions, Your Honor,” the prosecution says before taking his seat.

“Redirect?” the judge asks.

“No, Your Honor,” her attorney says solemnly.

“Very well. You may step down, Mrs. Lincoln.” She’s wailing so hard that I don’t even think she heard him. “Bailiff?” The bailiff goes over and takes She-Thing’s arm. She must be well aware of that hold because she responds immediately and rises shakily from the chair, still weeping bitterly. She stumbles from the stand and wobbles back over to the defense table, walking like a drunk and sobbing uncontrollably. “I think we’ll take that recess now, fifteen minutes,” the judge says before banging his gavel. “Court is adjourned.”

Christian doesn’t wait another second. He’s out the door before I can even get out of my seat. She-Thing is face-down at the defense table, her shoulders shaking with violent tears. I almost feel sorry for her…

Nah!

I push myself out of the seat and go to look for Christian. I leave the courtroom and look up and down the hall. I see Jason standing at the far end of the hallway and I make my way towards him.

“Where is he?” I ask. Jason points across the hall to the Men’s Room. I stand there looking at the door, feeling a lot like She-Thing must feel right now—lost and dejected.

“I’m… going to go relieve myself, too,” I say, and walk over to the Ladies’ Room. I stay in there longer than I need to, I know. This whole thing is such a horrible fucking mess. The only comfort that I have from that situation is that She-Thing has said nothing about the lifestyle, which means unless there’s speculation from what Christian said yesterday, I’ve told my father about our practices for nothing and now, he’s avoiding me.

I rub my slightly throbbing scar and for the first time in months, feel the emptiness of not being able to rub my bump and pull strength from my babies. I know that I must be strong, but this is enough to drive anyone to drink. I take a few deep breaths, but every time I think to leave the restroom, my feet just won’t let me go in that direction. I take a few more deep breaths and just about get myself calmed when I hear a familiar voice from off in the distance somewhere.

“Don’t make me come in there after you. You know that I will.”

I sigh heavily and push my feet towards the door. He’s standing on the other side when I step out.

“I think you have a fetish with public women’s restrooms,” I say in a low voice. He puts his arms around me.

“Don’t remind me,” he says, kissing me behind my ear. “Are you alright?” I nod.

“Are you?” I ask. He touches his forehead on mine.

“I want. To kill her,” he says slowly and soberly. “I’ve had to sit in the same room with her for several hours of several days and not. Kill. Her.” I gently stroke his cheeks.

“It’s almost over, baby,” I soothe. “I would imagine that we only have closing arguments unless they have another quack that they want to put on the stand.” He chuckles.

“We need a loooooooong vacation,” he says. “Two days was not enough.” I have to agree with him.

“We have the house in Italy,” I jest.

“Yes, we do,” he says, raising his eyes to me. “I want to plan a trip. At least a month. If we don’t get away from this, we’re going to have strokes.” I look at him.

“You’re serious,” I say. He nods. “Christian, we can’t just… a month… what about my babies?”

Our babies and we’ll take them with us,” he says.

“They’re only seven weeks old!” I exclaim. “I don’t want my infants globe-trotting at that age!”

“I’ll have you know, Mrs. Grey, that infants can ‘globetrot’ as young as two weeks with doctor’s approval.” I should have known that the walking baby encyclopedia would know that. “But I’ll give you that. We are applying for our children’s passports and I am planning the trip for the summer. It’ll give me something to look forward to so that I don’t lose my mind.”

I look at him and think about everything that’s happened in our lives and the effect this trial must be having on him. I can at least afford him this.

“Okay,” I say, without protest. “Just let me know exactly when we plan to go so that I can make preparations.”

“Fair enough,” he says, kissing me on the forehead.

Closing arguments are somewhat long, or maybe they just seem long because it’s a repeat of everything we had just heard. It’s a relief when they’re over and the jury deliberations will start tomorrow. I need another hot shower… or a hot bath… anything to help me soak away the remnants of this day.


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

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Love and handcuffs  
Lynn X