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 12
“Yeah, get mad because I left you there and made you walk home, but rape? Please!”
Is this fucker actually saying that he didn’t rape my wife? That she made all this shit up? Is he seriously sitting there on the stand spouting this shit? I’m so angry that I feel the bench shaking. It takes a moment to realize that it’s not me.
Jason’s earnest whisper causes me to look over at him, and I see my wife… shaking so violently that she’s causing the entire bench to shake.
“Ana?” I reach over and put my hand over her clenched fist, but she doesn’t respond.
“Ana?” I say louder. She raises her gaze to me. Her blue eyes are pale, paler than I’ve ever seen, and the whites are becoming more and more bloodshot by the second.
“Mrs. Grey?” I hear a voice calling her and I think it’s the judge, but I’m too busy trying to figure out what’s going on.
“Jesus, Ana, what’s wrong?” I ask. I’m flailing. Now, Ray has made his way over to us and he’s trying to assess the situation.
“Annie?” he says. “Sunflower, talk to me.”
“Mrs. Grey, you’re disrupting these proceedings!” the judge says.
“With all due respect, your honor, I don’t think she can help it!” I snap at him before I know it. When I look back at Butterfly, Jason is examining her eyes and Ray is still trying to get her attention. She’s shaking more violently now and still hasn’t uttered a sound.
“Is she epileptic?” the judge asks. I can’t think to answer.
“No, sir, your honor,” I hear Al say, “but she suffered a severe head injury in a car accident a little over a year ago.”
“It appears bad luck seems to follow her everywhere.”
That was Whitmore’s voice, the only thing that could cause me to take my eye off my wife. I see the devil when I see this man. I see Edward David multiplied exponentially because what he did, he did to a 15-year-old girl. At this moment, I’m wondering if it’s as easy to get to a fucker in prison in Nevada as it is in Seattle.
“You need to shut up,” the judge says in an uncharacteristic moment while pointing his gavel at Whitmore. “Bailiffs, clear the courtroom. Fifteen-minute recess.” He pounds his gavel and everyone except our party has left the courtroom in 60 seconds. Whitmore slow-steps pass us in the shackles, smiling down at my convulsing wife who probably doesn’t even know he’s walking by.
She’s shaking even more violently now, and I don’t know what to do. My first instinct is to lay her down, so I ask for help getting her into a prostrate position. When I do that, her heels click madly on the wooden bench and I realize that her head is going to do that, too. Jason removes his jacket and tries to make a pillow for her with it, but that doesn’t help. I kneel next to her and hold her head in my hands.
“Baby, can you hear me?” I ask, helplessly. She doesn’t respond. Her eyes are tight, and she’s shaking violently.
“Get paramedics in here,” the judge says. I can’t do anything but hold her close to me and let her shake.
It’s been forever since we got here. I mean, truly, forever. We’re at the University Medical Center waiting to hear the verdict on my wife. Since we came in through the emergency room, there’s nothing we can do but sit here and wait. Since they had no idea what was wrong with her and she doesn’t have epilepsy coupled with the fact that she has a previous serious brain injury, they did a quick evaluation, gave her muscle relaxers and immediately took her to get an MRI and a CAT scan.
And now, we wait. For hours and hours and hours, it seems, we wait.
Court has long since adjourned for the day and the entire entourage is now here in the waiting room. I tried to convince Ray to stay in court, to be my eyes and ears, but he was having none of it. No matter how I pleaded, he just said,
“Give it up, Grey. I’m going with my baby girl.”
Allen reluctantly agreed to stay in the courtroom along with James, Marilyn, and a few members of our security staff. However, Jason, Chuck, Mandy, Ray, and I have been painstakingly waiting all afternoon and evening for some word on Butterfly. Every time that door opens from the back, I’m waiting for some doctor to come out and tell me what’s going on with my wife. It’s agony, because that door opens a whole fucking lot. When I feel like I’m finally going to lose my mind…
“Family of Anastasia Grey…”
We all stand at once until everybody realizes that we can’t all bum rush the doctor.
“Ray?” I say, gesturing for him to come with me to see what the doctor has to say. We walk over to him and I almost can’t bear to hear what he might say.
“She’s fine,” he says, and I feel like my chest is going to cave in. Most doctors introduce themselves first, but I’m glad he led with, “She’s fine.”
“I’m Dr. Carver, I’m the head of neurology. We’ve run several tests on Mrs. Grey. We always want to eliminate the worst-case scenarios and we were able to do that quickly. It appears that she had a severe panic attack, honestly one of the worst I’d ever seen, but considering her neurological history and what you’re telling me that she’s going through right now, I’m not at all surprised.”
“Is she… is she awake or… what’s happening now?” I don’t know what to ask.
“She pretty much slept all afternoon,” he says. “She may be awake all night, but right now, the only thing wrong with her is that she’s hungry as a bear… her words, not mine.” I sigh heavily and thrust my hands into my hair, trying desperately not to collapse onto the floor in relief.
“When… can I see her?” I say, trying to remain calm.
“Right now,” he says, “Come with me.”
He leads me and Ray through the big doors that I had been watching all evening and down the magic hallway where all of the doctors and nurses had disappeared for hours during my agonizing wait. A turn here and a turn there and we’re in a big community room with beds separated by curtains. My wife is in the last bed on the end.
Well, I don’t like this at all.
The television is playing, and she has it set on the news channel, no doubt looking for some news about the trial.
“It’s limited coverage,” she says. “Either not much happened in the case today or nobody got a picture of me being carried or wheeled from the courthouse… or however you got me out of there.” It bothers me that she doesn’t remember.
“Nobody got pictures,” I tell her. “Unless someone in the courtroom said something, no one even knows.” She nods and mutes the television.
“Can I go now?” she asks the doctor. “No offense to you, doc, but the very last place I want to be right now is in a Las Vegas hospital.”
“It’s hard not to take offense to that, Mrs. Grey,” he admits.
“Do you know why I’m here?” she says flatly. “I spent weeks in a Las Vegas hospital when I was a kid. Nobody came to see me. Nobody cared. I don’t want to be here.” Dr. Carver smacks his lips.
“Oookay,” he says. “I’ll get your discharge papers ready. Make sure that you see your own doctor about this when you get back to Seattle.”
“Will do,” she says and throws the covers off.
“Do you need help, Sunflower?” Ray asks as she retrieves the plastic hospital bag with her things in it and Dr. Carver leaves the room.
“Thanks, Daddy,” she says. “I’ve got it.” Ray nods in that helpless but accepting way that I feel right now.
“Do you want to talk about this?” I ask.
“Not here,” she says as she shamelessly steps into her panties while Ray and I watch.
“I’m going to step out and give you some privacy,” he says, kissing her on the forehead.
“You changed my diapers, Daddy,” Butterfly protests.
“That was almost 30 years ago, Sunflower. You’re a grown woman now. I’m going to step out and give you some privacy.” And he leaves. I turn back to Butterfly.
“He told me that you were hungry. What would you like to eat?” She pauses as she pulls on her skirt.
“Roberto’s,” she says, pulling it up and zipping it in the back. My brow furrows.
“What’s Roberto’s?” I ask.
“Greasy Mexican food. I want carne asada fries with everything, two fish tacos, two California burritos, and two chicken quesadillas.” She snaps her bra in the back and proceeds to stuff it with tissues. At first, I’m wondering what the hell she’s doing and then I realize that she has no breast pads. I pull out my phone.
“Sir?” Jason answers.
“Butterfly is being discharged. I need you to find a place called Roberto’s and place an order for pick-up…”
“It’s 24-hours. He can have it delivered to the hotel,” Butterfly interrupts stoically, still getting dressed.
“I’d rather someone pick it up to make sure that it’s right,” I tell her. She shrugs as she buttons her shirt.
“Whatever works,” she says, searching the bag for her shoes.
“I’ll text you what she wants,” I tell him and quickly compose the text while he’s still on the line.
“Mexican food,” he says as he reads my text. “Does she want Corona, too?” Hell, she might. I turn to ask her just in time to hear her shoes clicking out of the little curtain pod. She has finished dressing just enough to be presentable with her shirt hanging out of her skirt, has taken her things in the plastic bag and is now headed for the nurse’s station. Shit.
“We’ll get something from the minibar,” I say, ending the call and rushing behind my wife who is walking with purpose.
“Excuse me,” she says when she gets to the counter.
“Yes?” the nurse behind the desk answers.
“I don’t mean to be rude, but I have to get out of here. Dr. Carver is discharging me, and I just need the papers. I’d like to have them now, please, or I’m leaving AMA.” The nurse is a bit taken aback.
“It… wouldn’t be AMA, ma’am. You just wouldn’t have your discharge papers.” She shakes her head.
“Fax them to the Waldorf,” she says, throwing her free hand up and proceeding towards the exit.
“Ana!” I call out to her, but she keeps walking. I turn to the bemused nurse, just as bemused as she is.
“Can you do that?” I ask. She shakes her head.
“Not without a written release from her,” she replies cautiously.
“Butterfly, they need you to sign something!” I call out. She waves her hand again and disappears around the corner.
“We’ll figure it out later,” I say to the nurse. “Thank you.” Once again, I shuffle to catch my wife who simply follows the exit signs and finds herself in the waiting room.
“Ana, are you okay?”
“Jesus, you scared us!”
“Jewel, you’re going to give me a stroke.”
“I’m fine,” she says coolly as she’s putting her coat on. “I didn’t mean to scare you all, but I need to get the hell out of here.”
Our party falls silent, most likely seeing her earnest and waiting for instruction. Jason isn’t here and I’m assuming he went to get the food. While I’m trying to see what the transport plan is, Butterfly and I make a startling realization at the same time.
Paparazzi. Just outside the door.
Butterfly gets a determined look on her face and I know that it’s showtime.
“Shit!” I hiss as she takes off towards the exit.
The automatic doors open, the flashes go off, the questions are flying at her and she does not stop. Anybody who gets in her way is going to get bowled over and I think they know it.
She is hauling down that sidewalk towards the parking lot. It’s like she doesn’t even hear or see these people around her. And if anybody gets in her way, may God have mercy on their souls.
She doesn’t need protection. She’s got a force field around her right now that says if you come near her, she’s going to kick you in the balls. Even her hair is bouncing with purpose, and the way that she’s striding in those stilettos, they might as well be track shoes.
“Butterfly, do you even know where you’re going?” I ask, taking long strides to keep up with her.
“I’m walking towards cars,” she replies. “I’m assuming my chariot is somewhere in there.” I sigh again and take out my phone.
“I see the flashes, sir,” Jason answers.
“Good. Be quick before she runs out here and jumps on a bus,” I warn.
“Don’t tempt me,” she replies.
“Jason?” I plead.
“To your left, sir,” he says. Like a ray of light from heaven, the black SUV pulls up in front of us. Butterfly doesn’t wait for me. She opens the front door, climbs inside and closes the door behind her. I’m surprised, as is Chuck, so he and I and Mandy and Ray just scramble into the back.
“Who’s going to get my food?” she asks.
“We’ll pick it up on the way,” Jason replies.
I don’t ever think I’ve seen my wife eat that much food. I’ve heard a reference to it—Chuck talked about the mountain of food that she ate in Anguilla when we had that fight, followed by the looting of the candy store, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen her eat this much. She doesn’t eat too fast, but she does eat it all, finishing her meal with a 32-ounce Dr. Pepper.
I just order salmon from room service and eat at a safe distance.
When she has finished her mound of Mexicana, I finally approach with caution.
“Do you want to talk now?” I ask. She shrugs.
“What is there to talk about?” she asks. “That fool raped me, and all this time, I just thought he wasn’t admitting it. I had no idea this is what was going on.”
Okay, I have to admit I’m a little lost.
“He still didn’t admit it, Butterfly,” I say, nonplussed. I don’t know what she’s getting at.
“And he’s not going to,” she shoots, angrily. “He’s never going to, not even to himself. When he came to GEH all cocky and shit, I thought he was just being an asshole… which he was of course. I had no fucking idea this is what was going on the whole time! Fifteen-year-old me didn’t get it at all, but damn near 30-year-old me—the one with the degree and the specialization in human mentality—yeah, I get that shit loud and clear now!”
I’m glad we’re in the penthouse, because she is having a fucking meltdown.
“Please forgive my ignorance,” I say calmly. “I need you to let me in on it. He’s a rapist. We know it. What am I missing?”
“You don’t understand, Christian,” she says, her voice laced with some unknown emotion—dread, fear, I don’t know, “Cody. Whitmore. Really. Doesn’t. Think. He raped me,” she says slowly. “He really felt like he had a right to do what he did to me, and when Stephen and I confronted him, he really felt like I was lying. Don’t you see what this means? There’s no telling how many other girls he did this to, and I know there were more by Carly’s reaction when I confronted her and Pamela Whitmore’s reaction on the phone. Jesus, how many times has he done this after he became an adult? He probably used what they did to me to keep girls quiet! The man is a serial rapist! He has to be! Thank God he’s locked up, but what’s going to happen once he’s free?”
She leaps from her seat at the table and the carnage of empty Mexican take-out trays so swiftly that her chair falls hard to the floor behind her with a thud.
“What the fuck is wrong with these people?” she seethes. “His father knew! He knew! He paid to shut me up! Was I the first? Was I the last? Was I somewhere in the middle? How could he walk around all cocky and shit knowing that his son was this fucked up? And Pamela fucking Whitmore—is she fucking clueless or delusional? And she had the nerve to call and threaten my children with that monster that she raised?”
She’s coming totally unglued, and justifiably so. How in God’s name can that fucker believe he didn’t rape her? Of course, he raped her! Is he suffering from that same shit that Lincoln claimed she had?
“He really thinks I lied on him,” she shrieks. “He really thinks he’s the victim here, and that’s why all this shit happened! Take one sexually depraved, mentally unstable, teenage lunatic and add one blindly obsessed, entitled, radically misguided, boneheaded bitch and you’ve got the teenage version of Natural Born Killers! And she’s procreated! Dear God in heaven!”
She falls on her knees with her fists clenched in front of her, cursing at the floor.
“He’s a sexual deviant! A fucking psychopath!” she wails. “Even his Daddy knew! That’s why he paid to shut me up. I can’t stand the fact that he’s breathing the same air that I breathe. It’s bad enough thinking that he lied about the rape all these years, but to know that he actually thought it was okay! He thought he was entitled! They almost killed me, fucking killed my baby, because he thought he was entitled. Fucking hell! You fucking miserable bastard!!!!”
She screams her dismay to anything or anyone that can hear her, and now I have to stop it. I can’t stand it anymore.
I fall down on my knees in front of her and gather her firmly in my arms. She fights me violently at first, but I have a strong grip on her and I’m not letting her go.
“No! No! It’s not fair!” she shrieks as she uselessly struggles in my arms. “It’s not fair. I hate him! He deserves to die! I hate him! It’s not fair! It’s not faaaaaaiiiiiiiiiirrrrr!”
Realizing that she’s not going to get away from my grasp, she screams and cries before her head falls limp on my chest. She’s mumbling something through her tears, but I just hold her there for an eternity, my head resting on hers as she weeps bitterly.
I didn’t get much sleep last night. I knelt on the floor with Butterfly until my knees were numb. She wailed for so long that I thought she would have another panic attack, but she didn’t. She just cried until her voice was gone, then she whimpered for several more minutes until she was exhausted, and I gladly carried her to bed, holding her and watching her as she slept.
I would gladly spare her all this pain and the realizations that we’re making as the trial proceeds. It was pretty damn dirty for Larson not to tell us that Whitmore had gotten a plea, too. Springing that shit on us at the trial wasn’t cool at all. I can only assume that he thought that Butterfly may not show up if she knew that Whitmore would be testifying. She had already confronted Madison-Perry, so it wouldn’t have been a big deal for her to have seen that witch on the stand, but Whitmore? Maybe he was going for shock value. If that was the case, that shit fucking worked in spades.
Maybe that’s what he was referring to when he said, “Expect anything.” Asshole.
I spent most of the night at the piano once Butterfly fell asleep. It was too late to call Seattle once we got back to the hotel, so we didn’t get a chance to speak to the twins. I can’t help but wonder how Ray feels watching all this. He tried to rescue her, but Carla wouldn’t let him do it. Now, she has to relive all this stuff in front of an audience and even make new discoveries like the shit she just discovered about Whitmore.
He’s not going to be rehabilitated in prison, because he hasn’t accepted what he’s done, and quite frankly, no one else knows. He’s just going to be punished for his part in the beating, and that’s all. I need to see if there’s anything else that can be done about his punishment while he’s in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections…
I got a little sleep on the sofa, but I’m awake again a couple of hours later to give instructions to the rest of the entourage, as we are so lovingly referred to in the press. I won’t subject Butterfly to anything she can’t deal with and I think going to court today after yesterday’s episode may be a bit much.
I’m still in a T-shirt and sweats when I sit down at the table with Ray, Allen, and Jason that morning. We’ve had breakfast brought to the room and we’re discussing what may happen in court today.
“It’s getting on time for us to get going,” Ray says. “Don’t you think you should wake Annie so she can get dressed and get some breakfast?” I sigh.
“Yesterday was really bad, Ray,” I inform him. “She came home and had another breakdown. I don’t think she’s going to make it to court today…”
“Oh, yes, she is.”
My thought is interrupted by Butterfly’s voice. I turn around and she’s fully dressed and ready to go.
“And you had better hurry and get dressed, or you’re going to be left behind,” she adds.
“Baby,” I protest. “I don’t think it’s a good idea after what happened yesterday.”
“I’m not going to let them win, Christian,” she says. “I have to see this through. I can’t stop now.” I put my hands on my hip, drop my head and sigh.
“Butterfly, in all honesty, you and courtrooms just don’t get along,” I say in frustration. She rolls her eyes.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah—Fainting, Regurgitating, Convulsing Grey. I get it, but I’m still going. Are you going with me?” I look at Jason and Ray, roll my eyes and shake my head.
“Give me ten,” I say, before going back to the bedroom.
My wife is beyond untouchable this morning. She hasn’t shut me out, but it’s crystal clear that today, she’s facing this mess with her beautiful rack stuck straight out and taking this shit head on. She’s wearing a three-piece gray tweed pants suit with black leather gloves, a small black clutch, and black Louboutin suede stilettos. I briefly protested about her wearing no overcoat and she informed me that we weren’t in Seattle and her tweed suit jacket was heavy enough.
When the Audis pull up to the courthouse stairs, she sees that the police already have the press restrained. So, she leaps out of the car and begins her sprint up the stairs, surprising everyone—including the press.
“Shit, go!” I bark at Jason and Chuck, who dash out of the Audi behind her. I sigh heavily and prepare for my ascent.
“What’s that about?” Ray asks when we get out of the car.
“She’s had enough of this,” I tell him. “I hope this doesn’t go on much longer.”
“I hope not either,” Al says, joining us. “She’s rebelling. There’s going to be no controlling her shortly.”
There’s no controlling her now.
As we begin to ascend the stairs, I hear various cracks from the press:
“Jesus, how the hell can she run like that in those damn shoes?”
“I’d be a track star if I could move that fast.”
“What is Anastasia Grey running from today?”
“She’s running from you!” I say to the person who asked the last question. “It’s one of the worst times of her life and she still can’t get any peace. What do you expect?”
I just couldn’t take it anymore. We’ve got a damn reporter in the courtroom. They know what’s going on. What more do they fucking want?
“Christian?” It’s Mac. She’s right behind me with a firm grip on my elbow. My first inclination is to snatch my arm from her, but no need to give these fuckers a show. I turn away from the assholes and finish my ascent to the courtroom, taking the stairs two at a time.
We’ve apparently missed the rest of Whitmore’s testimony while we were at the hospital. I don’t think we would have wanted to hear it anyway. However, when we get into that courtroom, I’ve got a fucking earful for Larson.
“Exactly when did you plan to tell us that Cody Whitmore got a deal, too?”
“It was a last-minute decision, Mr. Grey,” Larson says. “It turns out that Carly Madison-Perry had no idea who Vincent Sullivan was, so she couldn’t testify to his presence, intent, or state of mind. We needed someone who could. He’s arguing diminished capacity. We needed someone that was present at the beating that could tear that defense apart. He had a viable defense just by the violence of the act alone…”
“Except that he was the first one that burned her!” I retort. Larson sighs and drops his head, then raises it again.
“You missed the second half of Whitmore’s testimony,” he says. “He destroyed that defense that Sullivan was a terrified participant. Whatever Sullivan says today is going to be highly overshadowed by the picture Whitmore painted. He had several character witnesses yesterday, but none of them chipped away at the picture of this kid who was willing to do anything to be one of the cool kids. I’m telling you, Whitmore was our star witness.”
“I thought she was your star witness!” I accuse, pointing at my wife. Larson deflates again and doesn’t respond.
“You said it was a last-minute decision. How last-minute?” I demand. He swallows.
“Monday morning… right before trial,” he confesses.
“It’s Friday,” I point out. “You had time to warn us. We might have avoided what my wife went through yesterday. How can we possibly trust you now?”
“I don’t trust anybody in this place,” my wife says impassively while gazing at Larson. “Let’s get this done.”
She takes a seat without another word. I glare at Larson before moving to sit next to my wife.
“Mr. Grey,” he calls out. I turn to face him again.
“I know the system has failed you in the past, but that’s because no one did anything. I’m doing something now, sir. Please, trust me. Trust the system to work this time.” I pause for a moment.
“I’m not the one you have to convince… counselor.” I glare at him for a few more moments, allowing my words to sink in before taking a seat next to my wife.
The prosecution concluded its case yesterday with Whitmore’s testimony and the defense began its presentation with the character witnesses for Sullivan that Larson mentioned. Today, the witnesses continue to stream in, one of which is a current girlfriend who testified that Sullivan still has nightmares about what happened that day. Her testimony was deflated when it was discovered that she and Sullivan broke up six months before his arrest, so she couldn’t really attest to the possibility that he still has nightmares.
Larson is going at the character witnesses with extreme gusto now, apparently more determined than ever to convince Butterfly that he’s really on her side and doing what’s best to win the case. I don’t doubt that he is. I just want to see it done with as little pain and inconvenience to my wife as possible. After three witnesses and two hours of listening to Sullivan’s accolades, Butterfly stands and leaves the courtroom before the fourth witness is called. I stand and walk out behind her.
“Butterfly!” I catch her as she’s walking towards the lounge area looking at her phone. She stops and raises her gaze to me. “Are you okay?”
“No!” she says firmly. “That asshole was the first to burn me! The pain was so bad that I passed out and didn’t wake up for three weeks! He scarred me for life! The hell if I’m going to sit there and listen to the whole of Nevada talk about how fucking great of a guy he is!”
“Baby, I understand,” I say, keeping my voice calm, “but the way that you left looks bad to the jury. You have to go back in there.”
“I told you, Christian, I don’t trust anybody in this place anymore,” she says. “I can’t fathom how anybody who has any idea what’s in that video can sit there on that stand and talk about how fabulous he is; how he’s such an asset to the community; how great a friend he is; how kind he is… I can’t stand it anymore. This great fucking guy left me with two grotesque burns on my back and only stopped because he thought I was dead! No! I’m not listening to this shit anymore. I can go to the bathroom, or to the lounge, or outside to the fucking car and talk to my children or read emails or scroll through Facebook—anything but listen to any more of this shit!”
“They didn’t see the video, baby, but the jury did…”
“And now the jury is being inundated with all these testimonials about how wonderful he is, everything he’s done for the poor and the sick…” She says the last part in a mocking tone. As she’s ranting, the courtroom doors fling open and out runs Larson, Ray, and Al, followed by a few others headed towards the bathrooms and lounge. I look at Al questioning and he mouths the word “recess.”
“Annie, are you okay?” Ray says, approaching us quickly. Butterfly just stares at her father without answering. After waiting for a response, Larson chimes in.
“Dr. Grey, it’s almost done. Please, come back into the courtroom.”
“No!” she barks. “I trusted you and you let me get ambushed in there! You facilitated it! I had no preparation whatsoever for that bastard being in the courtroom much less finding out that he got a deal. And now I have to sit and listen to people praise the man who could have killed me?”
“You’re a miserable bitch! You should be ashamed of what you’re putting Vince through!”
It only takes a second for everyone in our group to look to the left at some woman who’s throwing this insult at my wife. I didn’t even get a good look at her, but I thank the heavens for fast reflexes because I literally have to catch my wife in midair as she lunges at this unknown female with both hands. Jason is a second too late, but right on time to hear me growl,
“Get this woman away from my wife now!”
The entire ordeal probably didn’t last twenty seconds as the horrified instigator is being ushered away from us by our security.
“Watch the video, you stupid bitch!” Butterfly yells after her. “It’ll probably be on YouTube next week! Then you can see what Vince put me through!” I roll my eyes and shake my head as I hold my flailing wife hurling harsh words after the woman.
“Anastasia, have you lost your mind?” I ask forcefully, and out of nowhere, she stops flailing.
“Put me down,” she says calmly.
“No, Anastasia, you’re acting crazy,” I say.
“You’re going to see just how crazy I can get if you don’t put me down,” she says, still eerily calm.
“Put her down,” Mac says, coming out of the courtroom. I look at her and then at the back of my wife’s head before I slowly put her down. She straightens her jacket and puts her Jackie O’s on as she marches to the stairwell. I move to follow her, but Mac stops me.
“Let her go,” Mac warns. I look at Chuck.
“Go!” I hiss and he runs behind my wife. Ray is right behind them before I get the chance to say anything.
“She’s done,” I hear Mac say and I turn to her and the questioning glances of Marilyn and Amanda.
“She’s just pissed, as well she should be,” I reply.
“No, she’s done,” Mac says, then turns to Larson. “Whatever you have to do to win this trial, you have to do it without her. She’s done.”
“I don’t understand,” I say, pushing my hands through my hair. “She was lights and sirens to get in here this morning, and now she’s done?”
“Christian, yesterday she was confronted by her rapist in a surprise attack and now today, she gets to hear about how the guy who disfigured her back, left her in a coma, and contributed to the death of her unborn child is being treated unfairly by her and the court,” she says flatly. “I’ll come up with a press release for what just happened, but we need to decide what we’re going to do now because she’s quite possibly not coming back.”
I sigh heavily. We’ve turned our entire lives upside down to see this thing through. One of us has to. Chuck and Ray are with her now. I have to represent her in this courtroom. I have to. I look at Larson.
“You have to do what you have to do without her, but you better do it, because this damage is going to be irreparable if you don’t.” I say nothing else to him and walk back into the courtroom.
The longer I sit here listening to the Vincent Sullivan Parade of Good Deeds, the more I want to leap across this half-wall and choke the bastard. I can understand why Butterfly couldn’t listen to this anymore. It’s enough to make you gag! However, the final character witness before lunch gives me—and the jury—something more to chew on.
His name is Owen Carey. He went to school with Vincent Sullivan. He knows a lot about Sullivan, and the defense thought that Owen was going to sing all the accolades of the witnesses before him. However, once he took the stand and started talking, his tune changed, and Drake had to treat him as a hostile witness.
Owen, as it turns out, is Sullivan‘s on-again-off-again gay lover. The girl who testified earlier—Regan—wasn’t his girlfriend. Regan was his beard.
Owen had been waiting for his in with Sullivan since high school. They weren’t dating back then, but they hung around the same people. They and their gay friends would rate the guys in high school by who was the most “fuckable.” Even though Owen wanted Sullivan, Sullivan had his sights set on someone else.
“Vince wasn’t afraid of Cody Whitmore. Vince was in love with him,” Owen said. “He would’ve done anything Cody asked as long as it meant that he could be near him.”
Now, this could have gone either way, had the next thing not happened.
“Oh my God, Owen how could you!”
The court has to be brought to order as Vincent Whitmore cries out in despair of his gay lover’s betrayal.
Now, if anybody in this courtroom is like me, none of us cares that he’s batting for the same team. What’s more important is that his entire defense is based on the fact that he participated in this ritual because he was afraid for his life. If there’s any truth to what Owen says, how can you be deathly afraid of someone that you secretly covet?
Once Drake saw that his defense was heading south and ceased questioning, Larson goes in for the kill, drawing out all the juicy details of Sullivan and his sexual tendencies. I wouldn’t know why he was doing it until later.
“You show up as a character witness just to destroy his character and defense. As much as I would love to believe you, why should I? How do we know that you’re just not another scorned lover looking for revenge?” Larson asks as he wraps questioning.
“I don’t know. Maybe I am,” Owen replies. “Most likely I am, but that doesn’t change the fact that Vince was in love with Cody Whitmore. He probably still is. He could have testified against Cody and put Cody away. Instead, he let Cody do it to him. That’s love. And if you don’t believe me, check out my Facebook. I’ve got an album called Throwback Thursday with all kinds of pictures from GV High back in the day. You’re sure to find a couple of candid shots of Vince making googly eyes at Cody when he wasn’t looking.
“I don’t know anything about this Anastasia girl, and I didn’t pay any attention to what happened to her. I can’t give you any info on that because I didn’t keep up with it and it didn’t affect me… sorry, but shit happens, excuse my language. But I can tell you about Vincent Sullivan, and he followed Cody Whitmore around like a sick puppy. I don’t know exactly when this burning thing happened, but the closer to the end of the school year it got, the more he followed Cody around until Cody’s friends had to tell him to back up.”
Jesus, this fucker had female and male admirers. My girl didn’t stand a chance.
The last person to testify before lunch was Sullivan’s psychiatrist who painted the case of how someone can be coerced to violent and even deadly acts if they feel that their own life is in jeopardy. I noted how he painted this picture very vividly and clearly, but I’m not sure from his testimony that he’s convinced that Sullivan was afraid for his life. Even in cross examination, he kept referring to a “deep-seated fear,” but to me, he never confirmed that Sullivan committed this act because he was afraid for his life.
I attempt to call my wife at lunch to ascertain where she is and if she’s okay, but her phone is going straight to voice mail. Shit! Jason informs me that Chuck checked in shortly after they left, indicating that he has taken her and Ray to the interactive aquarium somewhere on the east side of town and will soon be taking them to lunch somewhere. She is not answering her phone, and besides texting his wife to tell her that he was okay, Ray isn’t either.
God, I want to talk to her so badly, to tell her about the surprise witness and the fact that the shrink didn’t fully uphold Sullivan’s claims. I would normally check my emails and see if anything is afoot at GEH, but I can’t even do that right now. I really want to talk to my girl…
**I love you. I’ll tell you what happened when I see you. I hope you feel better. **
As it turns out, Sullivan’s entire defense was his character witnesses—one of whom turned on him—his shrink who really didn’t solidify his defense, and his own testimony, which we’re about to hear now.
“Vincent, there’s no denying that you took part in this horrible act. You’re on the recording assaulting this young woman in a most violent way. Can you tell us how you came to be a part of this ritual?” Sullivan drops his head.
“I knew the girl from one of my classes,” he says. “She… was nobody. She wasn’t that attractive. She wore cheap clothes. She didn’t have any friends. She didn’t stand out at all—just some poor Plain Jane in the wrong place.
“I hung around with all of ‘em—Kevin, Brian, Rich, Will—we weren’t best buds, but we hung out. I got wind that they were going to a bonfire over at one of the ranches on Wigwam. Of course, I wanted to go.”
“So, you’re saying that you didn’t find out about the bonfire until the day that it occurred?” Drake asks.
“No, I knew about it sooner, earlier that week, and so did Owen! There were a lot of people talking about it, how Carly had a surprise show planned and it was supposed to be such a big night. Her family was swimming in money; I thought she was going to have a rock band there or something.”
“When did you learn differently?” Drake presses.
“Two days before it happened,” he says, his voice low. “I still didn’t know the whole story, but I knew that they were planning to punish somebody for something. Carly was known for doing shit like that… but Owen was right, and since our relationship is over, I guess I don’t have to keep it a secret anymore.” He throws a glare at Owen.
“I did want to be around Cody,” he admits. “I knew he was with Carly, but I just wanted time alone with him. I knew I could’ve turned him if I had the chance.” Drake clears his throat.
“What made you think you even had a chance with Cody Whitmore?”
“How do you think half of them figure out that they’re gay?” he says. “Do you have any idea how easy it is to turn a straight boy gay? Yeah, some of them realize that they were born that way, but the other half has to be introduced. They don’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I want dick.’ Just like there are gateway drugs, there’s a gateway here. We don’t all follow the same path to get here, but some of us were led through that gate.
“There’s a whole lot of ‘straight’ men out here that are closet gays and you don’t even know it. If Owen hadn’t opened his big mouth, you wouldn’t have known about my sexual preference. And I’m not gay, I’m Bi!”
“So, what does any of this have to do with the evening in question, besides the fact that you wanted to be around Cody Whitmore?” Drake asks.
“The day before the bonfire, we were all hanging out at lunch…”
“We?” Drake asked.
“A bunch of us. I couldn’t tell you who all they were. I can tell you that it was me and a few others that I’m not going to name, girls and guys, and Cody and Carly. That’s when she told us what she had planned. She mentioned the brands, but I had seen college guys get brands from their frats. My brother has one, so I thought it was no big deal. I thought it was going to be one brand on her ass or something. I didn’t find out until I got there that it was going to be more.”
“You knew the day before. Why didn’t you warn Anastasia or tell the police? Your brother?” Drake says.
“Carly singled me out,” he says. “Either she could tell that I liked him, or she already knew. I believe she thought I was competition, and since I knew what they were going to do, she deemed me her handler. I told her I didn’t want to do it; I didn’t want to be part of that shit, but she started taunting me—saying that I would go tell my brother, that if I wasn’t there and I didn’t do it and somebody found out, she would know who told.”
“She threatened you?” Drake asks.
“Not in so many words, but she was planning a bonfire where she was going to brand a girl in front of a crowd! What more would she do to me if I didn’t do what she told me?”
“And what about Cody? Did he threaten you?” Sullivan shakes his head.
“Cody was cozying up to me and I really thought he was feeling me. Carly saw that; I know she did. What better way to make sure that I wasn’t a threat than to make me part of the crime? Cody kind of smoothed things over, told me that it wasn’t going to be a big deal, that it would just be a little mark for her to remember her place. He made me feel at ease, so I agreed. But Owen was right about something else. I wasn’t afraid of Cody, but I was scared shitless of Carly Madison.”
There are several more minutes of talking about Carly and her plan, how things transpired that day, claims that Cody and Carly never let him out of their site because they thought he would tell somebody what they had planned. He paints this whole good-cop-bad-cop picture of the teenage Bonnie and Clyde all the way until they got to the branding.
He claims that he didn’t know that they had hit her over the head and kidnapped her. How did he expect for her to arrive, in Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage wearing glass slippers? He maintains that he was afraid for his life, even though he can be seen as one of the boys viciously—and sometimes gleefully—kicking, beating, and pissing on my wife, and when it came time to brand her, he didn’t hesitate until she wasn’t moving anymore.
His scared shitless performance is pretty good, but I never bought it from the beginning. Knowing what I know now, it doesn’t jibe at all with his account of his state of mind.
Daddy, Chuck, and I return to the courtroom and slip back in unnoticed, taking seats in the back instead of on the front row. I catch a portion of Vincent Sullivan’s defense testimony that he was afraid of Carly and, as it turns out, in love with Whitshit. I guess Amber Whitmore was right. He is gay. Part of me can understand being afraid of Carly. I was terrified of her for years after what she did to me. The other part of me is screaming that his ass is full of shit.
Figures that he would be in love with Whitshit. I never saw that coming.
“What were the brands, Vincent?” Larson asks when he moves to cross-examine.
“Excuse me?” he says, a little taken aback.
“Let me rephrase, what did you brand into that young girl’s back?” Sullivan swallows.
“Cody told you…”
“And now I’m asking you,” Larson interrupts. “What did you brand into Anastasia Steele’s back?”
“It was… letters,” he says finally.
“Letters?” Larson says. “Just letters? What were they, your initials?” Vincent clears his throat.
“No,” he says.
“Let me help you.” Larson says. He retrieves a remote and pushes a button. A large screen monitor comes alive with side-by-side pictures of my back, one at 15 with fresh, oozing brands, and one from a couple of years ago where the scars are incorporated into the garden. They must have introduced these into evidence while we were at the hospital and Whitmore was testifying.
“Do you remember now, Vincent?” he asks. “Do you remember the letters now?” He walks back over to the table and retrieves a long, metal object. Oh, fuck, is that what I think it is? Did somebody keep those fuckers all these years?
“Do you remember taking a white-hot branding iron like this one…”
Like this one… thank God. That’s not the original weapon.
“… From a burning bonfire and pressing it into that young girl’s flesh? How about this one?” He retrieves a second iron and I can only assume that he has a replica of the “W” and the “H” that Sullivan burned into my back. “Do you remember now…?”
“Yes, I remember,” Sullivan says through his teeth. Now isn’t the time to get froggy, dude. You’re on trial.
“What were the letters?” Larson asks again.
“W and H,” he replies.
“And what were they supposed to spell?” Larson asks, but Sullivan doesn’t answer. “We’ve got three of the letters right here in our face on her back, Vincent. What were they supposed to spell?”
“Whore!” he spits out. The room is silent for a moment.
“Did you think Anastasia Steele was a whore?” Larson asks calmly.
“I didn’t know her,” he replies.
“You didn’t know her,” Larson says, “but you personally executed the first two letters of the brand. Were you going to do the entire brand before you thought she was dead?”
“Objection, relevance,” Drake says.
“How is this not relevant?” Larson asks.
“He didn’t do the rest of the brand,” Drake says. “He’s not on trial for what he would have done.”
“It speaks to state of mind and intent,” Larson asks, “but the answer probably is irrelevant now!” He’s pissed.
“Objection is overruled. Continue, Mr. Larson.” He turns back to Sullivan.
“Were you going to do the entire brand before you thought she was dead?” he repeats.
“I don’t know,” Sullivan replies.
“Let’s try it this way. Were you the one assigned to do the entire brand or was someone else going to take over after your first two letters?” Sullivan just shakes his head uncertainly.
“You stood there holding the second brand after someone said that they thought she was dead. Were you going to do the third brand before Carly Madison pushed you out of the way?”
“I… no… I… no, I wasn’t,” Sullivan stutters.
“I see. So, you were afraid for your life… afraid enough to brand her twice, but not enough to finish the job,” he taunts. “You really thought that she could kill you, but not this helpless and bound young woman that you all had beaten the hell out of, is that it? Just a little ‘mark’ on her butt, you said? Only you didn’t burn her butt, did you? And it wasn’t a little mark, was it?” Larson pauses.
“It was supposed to be five!” Larson declares firmly. “Five brutal, vicious, and permanent burns… on her back! Your brother’s fraternity brand is permanent. What did you expect?”
“I don’t know…”
“You never intended to leave ‘a little mark’ on that woman! You leaned into that brand! You pressed that hot metal on her back while she screamed in agony, her skin searing the entire time until she passed out!
“You were with your friends; they were all going to the bonfire, even after they knew what was going to happen; and Cody smoothed things over when Carly scared you so badly. So, what you’re basically saying is that you were peer pressured into kicking, spitting on, urinating on, and burning a young girl—an act that would land her in a coma for three weeks and result in the death of her unborn baby. Is that what you’re saying?”
“I was scared!” Sullivan retorts firmly. “I was scared for my life! Everybody knew who they were—who their parents were. Everybody knows the power they had. Yeah, here’s a little nobody they wanted to make an example of, but they were ruthless, and we all knew it! They owned that school. They made an example of anybody they wanted, and nobody stopped them. I was scared shitless that if I didn’t go along with them, I was gonna be next.” Larson’s eyes narrow, and now it’s them again. Didn’t he say a minute ago that he wasn’t afraid of Cody?
“You were scared,” he says. It’s a statement, not a question. He walks over to the evidence table and retrieves a picture.
“Imagine how terrified she was,” he says, shoving a picture in his face. I can only imagine that it’s one of the pictures of me, 15-years-old and black and blue. Vincent doesn’t even look at the picture. He sits there silently glaring at Larson for several moments.
“What’s the matter?” Larson says. “Can’t look at her? Weak stomach? Too gruesome? It’s your handiwork—don’t you want to see your masterpiece?”
“Objection, your honor,” Drake says.
“To what?” Larson says, whirling around to Drake. “Did he deny what he did? We all have to look at pictures of this nearly dead beaten and broken 15-year-old girl why doesn’t he?” He says the last part all in one breath. He seems to be getting a little emotional.
“I’m going to overrule your objection, Mr. Drake, but Mr. Larson, get on with it,” the judge cautions.
“No worries, your honor,” Larson says, shooting a glance back over to Sullivan. “I’m done with show-and-tell for now.” He puts the picture back on the evidence table and walks over to Sullivan.
“You said they made an example of anyone they wanted. You’ve seen them do this before?” Larson asks.
“Objection,” Drake declares. “The parties he’s referring to are not on trial here, and it’s hearsay.”
“No, but Mr. Sullivan is, and he says he was afraid for his life, so let him tell us why,” Larson retorts.
“I’ll allow it,” the judge says. “Proceed, Mr. Larson.” He nods and turns back to Sullivan.
“Mr. Sullivan, do you need me to repeat the question?” Larson asks.
“Carly had a different target every week,” Sullivan says. “Slip a mick in somebody’s Coke and then watch ‘em trip out through fourth hour; running a scavenger hunt with somebody’s car parts on the football field; taking pictures of girls naked in the locker room and posting ‘em around the school—stupid shit like Carrie at the prom! But this? This was the first time I had seen anything like this in my life! If I hadn’t already pissed, I would have pissed my pants.”
“Oh, we’re weeping for you,” Larson cracks. Surprisingly, there’s no objection or chastisement.
“Do you know why Cody Whitmore appeared in court yesterday? Because, as you recall, he knew who you were. He testified that you almost begged him to be a part of ‘the little party.’ But you know who didn’t testify? Carly Madison-Perry. She was supposed to, but she had no clue who you were. Cody was only too happy to fill in the blanks, and from your own testimony, you were very fond of Cody, but scared to death of Carly. So, now, you expect for the court to believe that you were in mortal fear of a girl who had no earthly idea who you were?”
“She does know who I am,” Sullivan seethes. “She knows exactly who I am!”
“’She was nobody,’” Larson continues, reciting Sullivan’s description of me. “’She wasn’t that attractive. She wore cheap clothes. She didn’t have any friends. She didn’t stand out at all—just some poor Plain Jane in the wrong place.’ Your description sounds very personal for someone that you didn’t really know. What made you analyze her in such detail?”
“That’s just how she appeared to me,” Sullivan says, “nobody special, nothing much.”
“Nobody special,” Larson repeats. “Nothing much… yet Whitmore wanted her, and not you.”
Whaaaaaat the fuck…
“Who did she think she was, wandering into the school with her nothingness and her nobodyness and sleeping with the guy that you had been lusting after for so long? How dare she get a piece of Cody before you did, right?”
Fucking hell! Could it be? Could this be true?
“Why did you have to burn her in the back? Of all the people there, why did it have to be you?”
“Carly told me to,” he says, his voice cracking.
“Did she?” Larson accuses. “Did she really… or did you want to show Cody that you could do it? Did you want to get her back because she had Cody first? You didn’t know this girl—you said it yourself. How could you do something so personally vile to someone you claim you didn’t even know? That’s the worst kind of criminal, someone who could viciously attack another person they don’t even know. Is that who you are?”
“Stop! Stop!” Sullivan cries, ripping at his hair and weeping. “I was scared! I was scared!” He buries his face in his hands and cries. Larson just looks at him.
“I don’t believe you, Vincent,” Larson says calmly, while shaking his head. “Not because I’m here seeking justice for this crime, but because there are too many inconsistencies—with your witnesses, with your account of the events leading up to the attack, with everything. It’s not adding up. The only thing we have that’s telling the 100% truth is that video and those pictures. Somebody in this room is lying, Vincent… and I think it’s you. No further questions.”
Damn, that was a slam dunk. Whether he wins or not, that was a three-pointer from behind the foul line and nothing but net.
A/N: Natural Born Killers was a Quentin Tarantino/Oliver Stone movie made in 1994 about a Bonnie and Clyde couple that went across the country committing mass murders and leaving only one witness alive to tell the tale of the massacre. If you are familiar with Quentin Tarantino’s work, you know this was some pretty intense and sick stuff. So, I can only say that if you never seen it before, you just have to watch it understand Ana’s reference.
For those who may not know, “nothing but net” is a phrase coined by the NBA maaaaaaaaaaaaaaany years ago—like waaaaaay back in the nineties (lol). It actually came from a McDonald’s commercial where Larry Bird and Michael Jordan are having a shooting contest for a Big Mac and fries. The food has long since gone cold by the time the ridiculous and impossible contest is over, but the term “nothing but net” lived on to describe a “swish,” which is when a player scores and the ball goes through the net without touching the rim, making that satisfying “swish” sound because the ball touches nothing but the net.
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/
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