Introduction to Seasons…

Someone made a really good point to me quite a while back in a comment in an attempt to make me stop writing. They told me that the story was really good, but that I should have stopped at Book III because that’s where the story stopped.

They were right.

Don’t panic; I’m not going to stop writing, but I just want to point something out and make an announcement to those of you who have seen a significant change in the writing from Book I to Book IV.

For a story to continue, characters must change, people must die, situations and dramas must develop—things don’t stay the same. As a result, you may lose readers. People may lose interest. They may not be happy with the direction of the tale.

And you know what? That’s okay.

I stopped watching TV because it just wasn’t holding my interest anymore, but I was still diehard on some series just because I was… until they didn’t hold my interest anymore either.

I fussed and I screamed and I jumped up and down and had a temper tantrum when Grey’s Anatomy killed off McDreamy, but people still watch Grey’s Anatomy.

There was an episode of Scandal where some young black kid was killed and Olivia Pope came to the rescue and some black activist looking for his fifteen minutes of fame starts bashing her right there on the scene loosely referring to her as a tool used by the white man to get the black folks to shut up (not his exact words), all I could see was some flighty-ass “brother” looking for attention and bringing separatism to the black community instead of relief to the family. As a result, I watched the first few minutes of that episode and never watched Scandal again, but other people watched Scandal all the way to the end.

And guess what? Shondaland didn’t die because I stopped watching and my story won’t die because certain people stopped reading and lost or lose interest. But Shondaland and my broken love affair with Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal (when it was on) made me realize something…

The “Christian and Ana Show” did end with Book III. That’s where they got married, had their kids, and their “happily ever after” began. Once you get to Book IV, you are now in the series—the soap opera. You are now in the Downton Abbey, the Days of Our Lives, the Game of Thrones (before it ended), General Hospital of the Christian and Ana saga and how they interact with other people and the other dramas that occur from those interactions.

As a result, Book IV will be renamed Season IV, and the chapters renamed Episodes. This way, there will be no confusion for those of the mind that the particular Christian and Ana story stopped at Book III. You’re right. The rest of the series is now called

The Misadventures of Christian and Ana and Their Crazy Friends

It will be named Misadventures for short, and each season will most likely still have a title of its own. Enjoy. Or don’t. But don’t ever suggest that I stop writing. I won’t 😊

Smoochies!

~~love and handcuffs

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Raising Grey: Chapter 93—Holy Yuletide, Batman!

One more chapter after this one…

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…

Chapter 93—Holy Yuletide, Batman!

CHRISTIAN

The last few days have been a damn nightmare.

Try though I might, I couldn’t get out of the office before 7pm because there was always a fire to put out.

Four of my department heads will bring in the New Year unemployed because, as I have discovered, two of them failed the drug tests and the other two are completely incompetent. The latter were part of the dismal audits that I conducted this week and I hadn’t even gotten to the former two departments yet. After having to move assistant department heads up to department heads, I now have to give them some time to figure out what’s happening in the department before I can rake anyone across the coals. The problem is, do I focus on them now while I have the chance to influence the progress and performance of the new department heads or do I give them an opportunity to acclimate?

Lorenz and I are up to our fucking nostrils in year-end bullshit and these inadequate, incapable ass leaders I’m supposed to have, and Rosalind has decided to teach me a fucking lesson by leaving me hanging right at the fucking holidays! Wait until her haughty ass comes back and finds out that 12 of our employees—two of them, department heads—had to be dismissed for testing positive for controlled substances. I don’t know how yet, but I’m going to find some way to make her pay for her actions.

My entire body felt like a taut rubber band at the end of the day. I had only planned to work until about noon since it was Christmas Eve, but catastrophe after catastrophe kept landing in my lap. The only good news I got involved another Elena Lincoln mishap, and the story about Holstein being rushed to the hospital with bubble gut after consuming our delivery of champagne. I’m so ready for the serenity of my sanctuary, but the moment we approach the driveway, the only thing I can think is…

What the fuck is this?

I was certain that we had the wrong address. I know that no other houses on the street look like mine, but this is crazy. This can’t be my house! I know that I’ve been preoccupied with what’s been happening at GEH, but I couldn’t have been this obtuse to what was going on in my own home.

When I finally get a good look at everything that has happened in this place, I don’t recognize my own home. It’s like Santa’s elves came in and vomited all over the joint. Sparkles and lights and bulbs and garlands and candy canes and pinecones everywhere! When the fuck did she ever find time to do all this??

When she said she was preparing the house for Christmas, I had no idea it was going to come out looking like this! And she had to do it all before Maddie and Nelson got here! When exactly did Maddie and Nelson get here?

Jesus, Mary and Joseph! And I had better be careful with that exclamation, because they all appear to be on my front lawn!

It’s late once I finished a grueling workout to both work off the day and try to whip my ass into shape before seeing Claude this weekend. I go to my office and finish up the last of some work before the holiday, then I head towards the elevator.

“I thought you would already be in bed,” Chuck says as I run into him and his father in the community area on the sofa.

“I’m on my way up now,” I say walking over to them. “Nelson, it’s good to see you again,” I say extending my hand.

“Likewise, young man,” he says, giving my hand a firm shake. “Long day?”

“Extremely long,” I lament, and he chuckles a bit.

“Don’t work too hard, son,” he cautions. “It’s worth nothing if you forget what you’re working for.” I hear ya, but this company ain’t gonna run itself.

“You two smell like… food,” I say, Chuck laughs.

“Your wife had us smoking meat in the barbeque kitchen,” he says, and I frown.

“You’re a guest!” I say to Nelson. He laughs heartily.

“When Momma says we’re helping with the meal, we’re helping with the meal. The only other option was bakin’. I aint no baker, Christian,” Nelson says with mirth.

“But smoked meat can be eaten any day of the week,” Chuck adds. “And with three turkeys and two hams, something had to be smoked.”

“Three turkeys?” I exclaim. “Who all is coming to my house?”

“From what I understand, the guest list is somewhere between 30 and 50,” he says calmly.

“You gotta be kiddin’,” I say. He shakes his head. “Is the party going to be down here?” I ask, observing all the decorations.

“I would venture to say that the party is going to be all over the house,” Chuck informs me. I frown.

“The rest of the house looks like this?” I say, pointing to the elaborately decorated Christmas tree. Chuck does this strange, knowing laugh.

“I’ll just say this,” he begins, “when she first said, ‘seven Christmas trees,’ I thought was a joke.”

“Seven!?” I exclaim, my eyes wide. “Seven fucking trees??” Nelson snickers again.

“Oh, boy, are you in for a surprise,” he says. “Go over to the French doors and just take a look into the backyard.”

I go over to the French doors and motherfucking hell… my backyard looks like daylight. They can probably see this shit from outer space.

“Oh, God,” I lament. Nelson sighs.

“You have been working too hard if you haven’t seen this, son,” he says. “Go take a walk around your house.”

“The walk is going to have to wait until tomorrow. I’m exhausted,” I confess. “Goodnight, gentlemen.”

They say goodnight and they fall back into their conversation. Afraid of what I may see on the first floor, I take the elevator straight upstairs like I do most nights and go straight to our bedroom.

Butterfly has fallen into what I can clearly see is one of the deepest sleeps ever. I’m sure to be right behind her, but…

This room is cold!

I get a fire going in the fireplace and quickly change into my pajamas. Did she know it was this cold when she came to bed? Is that why she’s wearing flannel?

I climb into bed next to her and I don’t even remember my head hitting the pillow.

It’s daylight when I open my eyes again. This is the first time I remember it being daylight when I awoke in several days. I’m in the same position that I was when I fell asleep. I look over at Butterfly, and she looks like she hasn’t moved either—maybe adjusted her head, because her hair has fallen over her face now. I brush the strands behind her ears and just gaze at her for a moment.

She looks unbelievably peaceful—absolutely no clue of the hell breaking loose at our empire, and apparently going absolutely crazy with decorations around the Crossing. I’ll take a look at them, but for right now, I need to stretch my legs and get my blood pumping.

“Nice of you to join us, Bro,” Elliot says as I program the treadmill next to him. “Didn’t you work out last night?”

“Yeah, but I always do a short one in the morning, too,” I say as I find my pace. “My trainer beat my ass last week and now he’s giving me shit.”

“Does that mean that I don’t have to arm-wrestle you for those pecan goodies this year?” he asks, bringing the treadmill into a cooldown pace.

“Dream on,” I chuckle. “I’m hoping my wife put some away for me.” Elliot laughs.

“You’ve got jokes,” he says. I pound on the treadmill for 15 minutes, just enough to get the blood pumping, then I go into my own cooldown.

“What did you mean by that?” I ask as I walk at a brisk pace.

“By what?” he says, drying his face and stepping off the machine.

“By that crack, you’ve got jokes. Did you eat all the damn cookies?” He laughs again.

“Cut it out, man,” he says as he cracks open a cold water and takes several large swallows. “Honestly, bro, there was just too much joy to the world going on in this house yesterday. I’ve never seen a giddier group of women in my entire life! I had to come out to the smoke session just to get a healthy dose of testosterone and cynicism!”

“Including Montana?” I ask, trying to gauge my wife’s mood.

Especially Montana!” he exclaims. “She was running around wearing a shirt with Santa Clauses all over it, literally barefoot in the kitchen. They nabbed my wife the minute she bent the corner and almost tried to recruit me until I escaped. I went to sleep and had nightmares about gingerbread men with all the cookies she baked.”

“She always bakes a lot of cookies at Christmas,” I point out. It means that I get those chocolate-pecan delights that I had to choke him for last year.

“No!” Elliot says, shaking his head. “No. No! You have no fucking idea, man!” I frown as I step off the treadmill.

“What the hell are you talking about?” I ask. He just glares at me as I dry the sweat from my brow. He grabs a cold water and tosses it to me.

“Hydrate, and come with me,” he says.

We walk to the elevator and I now notice cookies on surfaces that I don’t remember seeing them the night before. Those are my pecan goodies! How did I miss them? Is that what Chuck and Nelson were sitting there eating last night? Greedy bastards. I hope Butterfly put some away for me.

When the elevator gets to the first floor, I see that nearly every surface in the family room has a plate of cookies, and of course, there’s another Christmas tree, and more pine garland and bulbs and lights and bows and…

“Behold,” Elliot says, gesturing to the kitchen. The bar to the patio is covered with pastry boxes stacked high like bricks. There are cookie tins on a nearby table also stacked in a staggering pattern…

“Wha…” I can’t even get the words out of my mouth.

“Those are all full of cookies,” he says. “There are cookies in the pantry, and there are cookies all over the house. There are even cookies in the guestrooms—at least there were in mine and Val’s bedroom, so I’m only assuming they’re everywhere else.”

“Jesus!” I exclaim, looking around my kitchen.

“Oh, He’s here, too. He’s on the front lawn,” Elliot announces.

“I know,” I quip sarcastically. What the hell, she did all this in three fucking days! I walk through my Christmas Village kitchen into my even more Christmas Village dining room that now looks strikingly like a holiday banquet hall. Tables are already set for a Christmas feast so I’m not really sure what the plan for breakfast is supposed to be.

An individual Christmas stocking containing flatware graces each plate on the dining table and the accompanying tables that have been commandeered for our apparent Christmas feast. A huge platter big enough to hold a turkey sits in the center adorned with gingerbread people creatively holding candy canes.

How the hell do you bake a gingerbread man holding a damn candy cane? And do I see actual Christmas sweater cookies??

“There’s no way she did all this on her own,” I say.

“Oh, she had lots of help, but she was the ringleader,” Elliot assures me. “Dude, I checked on Angel several times throughout the afternoon and evening yesterday just to make sure that she and the baby were doing okay. I can personally guarantee you that nothing you consume today will be store-bought. Be not surprised if everything you sink your teeth into, Montana had a hand in it.”

“Even these?” I ask, picking up one of the gingerbread men.

“Even those,” he says. “I got to devour some of the pieces that didn’t make it… they’re fantastic, even better than Mom’s. They got chocolate in ‘em!”

Better than Mom’s? I love my Butterfly, but nobody makes gingerbread cookies better than Mom’s.

“Taste it,” he says, noting my skepticism. I bite the little guy’s leg and the flavor is delectable. It’s crunchy and airy and delicious!

“Those are the ones that have been sitting out to get what Montana calls the ginger ‘snap.’ Wait until you try one of the ones that have been sealed and are still moist. They’re fucking insane!”

Good Lord. I don’t know whether to be impressed or worried. I’m looking at this gingerbread man like he’s going to give me the answers and all I can hear him saying is, “Ouch!”

“I… take it from your silence that you weren’t in on all of this,” Elliot observes. I shake my head.

“No,” I say, flatly, still savoring the flavor of yet another confection my wife will have now introduced me to. Elliot is too silent for too long and I raise my gaze to him

“What?” I ask.

“Christian… I’m going to say something, and if it’s none of my business, you tell me to shut up and I’ll back off.” I nod and wait for him to finish.

“Is everything okay between you and Montana?” I sigh.

“I… I think so…” I don’t know that anything is particularly wrong.

“You think so?” he asks.

“Well, we had a disagreement this weekend, but…” I trail off.

“You squashed it?” Elliot asks. “Everything’s square now?”

Shit. I don’t think so.

“Well,” I say, “we didn’t see eye to eye on something, but we didn’t fight. It was just a difference of opinion. We said how we felt about it and then we dropped it, but… well, I’ve been working. There’s all kinds of crazy shit going on at GEH and… I haven’t really talked to her all week.” Elliot frowns.

“How can that be?” Elliot asks. “You still sleep together, don’t you?”

“Of course, we do!” I snap. “Every fucking night!”

“Then how is it that you…” He trails off. A look of realization dawns on his face.

“Out with it, Elliot,” I spit.

“I saw Jason last night, but I didn’t see you,” he observes. “I didn’t even see you at dinner and it was Christmas Eve. I didn’t see you until you came to the gym this morning, and I’m guessing that Montana doesn’t spend a lot of mornings in the gym.”

The accusing tone of his words make me feel defensive at first. I told him that my company is having problems. Butterfly knows that. What does he expect me to do right now?

His next words, however, are very sobering.

“Do you remember Mom’s episode?” he asks. “When Montana had to rush her to the hospital? Do you remember how she was acting before that happened—how irrational she was? Do you remember how insane Mia’s wedding was, and how more insane it would have been had she not cancelled half the shit Mom was doing?”

“Elliot, are you trying to tell me that my very youthful wife is perimenopausal?” I inquire.

“No,” he says, his tone serious. “But I am saying that if you can look at all of this and say that everything is okay, you got blinders on. This house looks fucking fantastic—for a woman who’s been planning for Christmas since Labor Day. Has she been?”

I bite the inside of my jaw but don’t answer.

“I don’t know how long it took her to do this, but we came to see you guys last week, this house didn’t look this way—not a bulb, not a light, not a piece of garland, not even a bare Christmas tree. What do you have, like five of them fully trimmed now?”

“Chuck says there’s seven,” I correct him. He twists his lips.

“Let me let you in on a little secret,” he says putting his arm around my shoulder. “If you knew exactly how many cookies she has in this house, you’d own stock in sugar right now…”

I probably do, but I’ll let him make his point.

“She made so many damn cookies that she could probably pass them out all over the greater Seattle area and you would still have enough of those pecan cluster things to last you until spring.”

Well, that’s comforting… and frightening.

“She pulled off something better than Martha Stewart and worthy of Architectural Digest and the Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Issue in less than a week and you didn’t even know it, so I’m venturing to say that she did it in just a few days. Can you really look at this—all of this—and say that this is normal? Because if you can, I’ll throw my tongue over my shoulder and shut the fuck up right now.”

I sigh heavily still looking at the gingerbread man with no foot.

“Have you seen these?” he asks, presenting another plate of cookies. My brow furrows.

“Mickey Mouse?” I say, looking at the spread of elaborate decorated mouse cookies. “I kind of get the Christmas sweaters, but why Mickey Mouse?”

“Um, maybe because you have two little Mouseketeers, and this is their first Christmas?” Elliot points out. “You do know that you have a candy-themed Christmas tree with a red polka-dot tree skirt that screams Minnie Mouse, right?”

Shit! Can I be that much of an asshole? It’s now that I realize that I did all of my Christmas shopping really early, but none of my gifts have been wrapped.

“Look, Bro, I’m not going to lecture you about how to be a husband. I’m still learning myself, and you’ve had more time at this than I have. But I am going to caution you to pull your head a little out of GEH and stick it a bit more into your family. There’s a whole lot going on here and you completely missed it. You love that company, but it’s not going to love you back, and it sure as hell ain’t gonna keep you warm at night or raise your children.” He pats me on my shoulder.

“Think about it,” he says. “I’m going to go shower and wake my Angel.” He brushes past me and heads towards the large staircase. Shit, I’ve got to go and wrap my gifts for my family and take a damn shower myself, and Elliot has given me quite a bit to think about, and I just realized…

There are cookies all over this damn house and none in my office or den.

I head to the elevator to my den to wrap my presents before everyone wakes, snagging a plate of those pecan clusters along the way.

*-*

I soon discover why the tables were set for dinner instead of breakfast. No one immerged until noon! What kind of festivities were going on in this house while my back was turned?

I’m able to get my presents wrapped before anyone sees me, but I don’t know which tree to put them under, so I just put them under the one in the family room. I hear activity in the kitchen and Christmas carols piping softly through the sound system, so I think it’s safe to say that the house is coming alive. I take the elevator up to the second floor and there’s still no activity. As I duck into my room, I hear laughing women in the nursery. I want to stick my head in, but I’m almost certain that the laughter will stop if I do, so I just go into my room.

Butterfly’s not here and she’s not in her shower, so I assume that she’s in the nursery with the twins. I fell in the bed too tired—and cold—to shower last night, so I start my shower and strip out of my workout clothes. When I step in, the water feels good beating on my head and back. I just stand there for a while and let it massage my scalp.

Jason was trying to tell me that something wasn’t right a few days ago. Now Elliot is telling me that Christmas Village is a blaring sign that something is wrong. I can’t confirm or deny either one because I haven’t really seen or spoken to my wife all week—not because I didn’t want to, but because there was so much on my mind that I didn’t want to dump it all on her. But now that I think about it, the last words that we really had was about her thinking I wanted another woman. We… haven’t talked since then.

I towel-dry my hair thoroughly when I get out of the shower. Something tells me that casual isn’t going to cut it today, but hell if I’m wearing a suit. So, I find a crisp pair of burgundy slacks and a two-textured black shirt with a pair of bespoke shoes. This will have to do. I’ll admit that the vigorous workouts must be doing me some good. My biceps and pecks look amazing! Then again, it could just be the shirt.

My family and various guests are mulling around eating hors d’oeuvres and sipping various beverages. Everybody’s not here yet, but those who have arrived have the same idea I do—no red-carpet garb, but don’t be a damn slouch. I walk over to Elliot and fill my glass with whatever red drink is in the punch bowl next to him. It’s really delicious. Cider? Cranberry? Both? I don’t know, but it’s good.

“The dead has arisen,” Valerie jests. “I thought you were going to miss Christmas completely, which would have been a real tragedy, because look!” She gestures around the house. “Isn’t this just the most? The very most?” She sounds downright giddy talking about the décor. Elliot raises his brow and takes a sip of his Christmas punch to avoid having to say anything.

“Yeah, it’s something,” I respond. “What do you say, there, Elliot?” I say, putting him in the spot. The corner of his lip rises along with one of his brows.

“Yes! It is quite the display!” he says enthusiastically. “Angel and I were just talking yesterday about how we couldn’t figure out for the life of us how Montano found the time, energy, or motivation to pull this off. What do you think, bro?” he says conspicuously, and volleys that ball right back into my court.

Asshole.

“The stars of the hour have arrived!”

My wife’s sing-songy voice rescues me from having to banter with my brother and when I turn around, a sight greets me that nearly knocks the damn wind out of me. Butterfly is walking into the room in this layered mock-wrap burgundy rock-a-billy cocktail dress—it’s gorgeous! I can tell that it’s one of my grandmother’s dresses and if she dressed like this all the time, it’s a wonder she and my grandfather didn’t have 15 kids!

She’s wearing a pair of burgundy Louboutin sky-high peeptoe platform stilettos that fade to black at the toes and her hair is in this swoopy kind of multidirectional chignon. She looks fucking scrumptious! She’s got my children with her and I swear to God, she looks like a sexy ass Mrs. Claus with two gorgeous little Christmas elves!

“Where’s your Santa outfit, Bro?” Elliot says quietly in my ear.

“I didn’t get the memo,” I say, a little more wistful than I intended. Minnie’s wearing a little red dress with Minnie Mouse on it and a Santa hat with little mouse ears. Mikey’s wearing a red jogging suit with one Mickey Mouse on the shirt and the pants.

“Where’s Mikey’s hat?” Val asks. Butterfly looks down at Mikey.

“He kept taking it off, so…” she shrugs. She’s got something attached to her arm and to Mikey’s arm, it almost looks like a leash!

And Mikey’s walking! When the fuck did Mikey start walking?

“When did that happen?” I ask aloud, pointing to my son. My wife looks down at Mikey again and then looks back up at me.

“Yesterday,” she says calmly. “He just got up and started walking.”

“Actually,” Gail interrupts, “he just got up and started walking to Momma. We were playing just fine on the floor in the nursery until Ana walked in. Then he just got to his feet and ran to his mother.” Ana looks down and smiles sweetly at our son.

That kind of stings. A somewhat knew that I may not be here to see my children’s first steps just because of the nature of my life, but when it really happened… That hurts a little bit.

“Steele!” Valerie says, closing in on my wife. “Are you wearing Mickey Mouse earrings?”

“Mickey and Minnie,” she says, turning her head so that Valerie can see.

“Where on earth did you find those?” she asks. “They look custom made.”

“At the Marketplace aren’t they adorable?” she beams all in one breath.

My wife looks like a million bucks and I look like a troll—I should probably change clothes, but into what? Nothing in my closet can make me look that good.

She hands Minnie off to Valerie and lifts Mikey in her arms. They head off to the kitchen towards Maddie talking about… whatever, and I kind of feel like the odd man out in my own house.


ANASTASIA

Everything turned out wonderfully!

Everyone loves the decorations. Since dinner is going to be quite early, we decided to forego breakfast and lunch for hors d’oeuvres, finger foods, cookies and drinks. Our family and friends are slowly beginning to file in and I’m surprised that Al isn’t one of the first people in attendance. That’s not like him.

“Oh my gosh, Ana, you look adorable!” Grace says as she and Carrick arrive with Luma, Herman, and the girls. “And the Nutcracker soldier at the guard’s booth is priceless. How on earth did you manage to pull this off?”

“Sheer will and determination,” I reply with a laugh, “and a whole lot of Christmas spirit. It was really a lot of fun. I had Sophie to help and the staff was magnificent… and look what I got for Christmas!” I say. I put Mikey down on the floor and he walks right over to his grandma. She gasps and scoops him up in her arms.

“Oh, wow, he’s walking!” Grace beams. “Who’s a big boy!” she exclaims happily, and he rewards her with infectious baby giggle.

“Well, would you look at that!” Carrick says, his smile wide and sincere.

“Who wouldn’t be just full of excitement and joy with something like that?” I say.

“Christian looks a bit subdued,” she points out and looks at me. I twist my lips and shrug.

“It’s GEH,” I say, furrowing my brow a bit. “It’s got him really distracted. I’m hoping he loosens up and gets into the holiday spirit as the day goes on.”

“I can’t see how he wouldn’t!” Grace says, looking around the room. “I saw the formal living room and that gorgeous display in the grand entry and now this. Does the entire house look like this or just the main floor?”

“Well, I didn’t disturb the work areas downstairs—the offices and such—but besides those rooms, the sub levels and the main floor look like this,” I tell her. “Except for the outside balconies, I didn’t bother the second floor either. You see that Gulliver dropped some of his decorations on our lawn, and the backyard turns into Santa’s landing strip at nightfall,” I say a little sarcastically.

“I tried to control myself,” I excuse, “but every time I did one thing, my brain said, ‘do that, too!’ and then I… this is what happened.” I gesture flippantly around the room. “I’ll be the first to tell you that I got carried away, but I don’t regret a moment of it.”

“Well, it looks fabulous, let me tell you. I’m going to be taking a tour of the grounds to get some pointers,” Grace compliments.

“Well, let me know when you want to wander. I’ll be glad to wander with you,” I say.

“Oh. My God. This is too much! Too much!” Mia says, bursting into our conversation with two different Mickey Mouse Christmas cookies in her hands. “How did you come up with these?”

“Those were a collaboration,” I admit. “Sophie came up with a really great idea and the theme fit in perfectly with my little mice and their first Christmas.”

“Genius. Sheer genius,” she says as she bites into one and hands one to Ethan. “And they’re delithous!” she says with a mouthful of cookie. Ethan bites into his cookie and nods.

“Yeah, these are really good, Ana,” he says.

“Thank you,” I reply. “Try the gingerbread men on the dining table. They have chocolate in them.”

“Oh, dear God, I’m going to be in the gym for a week straight,” Mia says.

“Yes,” I say unapologetically. “Yes, you are.” She and Ethan head off to maim a gingerbread man or three and Grace garners my attention again.

“You were right, by the way,” she says. “My doctor said that sometimes we do need to change up the HRT, and she prescribed me a different med and dosage. It’ll take a while to see if it works, but at least there’s hope, right?” I smile.

“Excellent. You just never know; you know what I mean? I’m just glad my hunch was right. Just, don’t wait so long next time if you feel like something is kind of off, okay? If you’re wrong about it, at least you can eliminate that issue, right?”

“Vah vah vah voom!” I hear Al’s announcement as he walks into the kitchen. “Mrs. Claus never looked like that in any of the pictures I’ve seen.” I laugh.

“I’m not Mrs. Claus,” I chide.

“You coulda fooled me!” he says, putting his hands up and gesturing around the room. “The only thing missing is Rudolph and Dasher on the roof and Santa’s legs hanging out of the chimney.” My eyes widen.

“Aw, that would’ve been cool!” I whisper loudly, Al shakes his head.

“I’m done,” he says. “You’re hopeless. Give me kisses.”

I hug my best friend and kiss him on the cheek. As I greet James, Grace and Carrick excuse themselves and take my little prince off to parts unknown.

“The place looks incredible, Ana,” James says. “You did this in a week?”

“Try three days,” I say with a tight smile. Al raises a knowing look at me.

“You’re shitting me,” he says.

“I had a lot of help,” I excuse. “Gail even called in a team of extras.” James laughs but Al is less amused.

“Well, no offense, but I’m ravenous, so I’m going to attack some treats. Allie?” James says.

“I’ll be right along,” Al says. “I need to chat with Jewel a bit.” James nods and kisses his husband on the cheek before leaving us to our conversation. Al’s gaze turns accusing.

“Three days?” he says. “Even if you didn’t physically do all this work on your own, it doesn’t take a shrink to know that something’s not quite right about this setup.” I roll my eyes trying not to be transparent.

“It’s Christmas, Al,” I whine heavily.

“Aaaand what’s wrong?” he says, folding his arms and calling me on my bullshit.

“What’s right?” I hiss. “My PA is totally MIA, which is driving me fucking crazy, one of my best friends won’t even speak to me…”

“Chris is chained to a computer at GEH,” he interjects. I huff and roll my eyes again.

“Don’t even get me started on that place,” I seethe.

“Or that man,” Al points out, once again not allowing me to evade.

“Allen, it’s Christmas,” I say deliberately. “Enjoy my over-the-top decorations and my fabulous food and shut the hell up about real life, okay?” I warn. He raises an eyebrow at me.

“This conversation’s not over, Jewel,” he says.

“It is for now,” I caution. “Go find your godson, and good luck keeping up. He’s walking now.” His eyes widen.

“For real?” he says, abandoning the previous conversation.

“For real,” I say, trying to walk away.

“Don’t you want to know why I was late?” he asks.

“Not really, no,” I say, refusing to take the bait.

“Well, I’ll tell you anyway. I went to see Gary.”

That gets my attention.

“And?” I ask, my eyes trained on his face, which is a bit more solemn now.

“He’s okay,” he says, soberly. “He looks well… not happy, but well. He’s staying in a studio closer to his job, nothing special, not homey at all. He’s actually living out of his luggage.”

“Did you tell him anything about Marilyn?” I ask.

“I didn’t tell him anything about Marilyn because I don’t know anything about Marilyn,” Al says.

“So, what did he say?” I press. “What is he doing?”

“Nothing much, and nothing much—sitting at his little studio apartment watching television.” My eyes widen.

“On Christmas?” I ask appalled.

“Yep,” Al nods. “He said that he would rather eat pizza and binge-watch Game of Thrones than to be around people right now.”

“Well, that’s just ridiculous,” I say, folding my arms.

“Maybe so, but honestly, Jewel, he wouldn’t be happy here right now. It’s cute and all, don’t get me wrong, but yuletide threw up in this place! The depressed and broken hearted are not looking to have a ‘holly jolly Christmas.’” I sigh heavily. I wouldn’t be so sure, best friend.

“At least he’s speaking to you,” I say, and I turn and march away from him with my arms still folded, trying not to admit how slighted I feel. I do my best to shake off the feeling that one of my best friends would rather watch reruns of pale medieval women training dragons than spend the day with me. It’s incredibly selfish, I know, but I still feel that way.

“Isn’t this great?” Sophie says bounding over to me in a Christmas T-shirt and jeans. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more Christmasy house, ever!” She’s smiling widely and eating cookies, her purple hair pulled back into a ponytail.

“Mia really loved the Mickey Mouse cookies,” I inform her.

“She did?” she beams, and I nod. “Well, I think Uncle Elliot and Uncle Christian like them all,” she adds. “Uncle Christian had a handful of the pecan cookies and he was elbowing Uncle Elliot away from the gingerbread men. Ms. Grace had to make them stop.”

I laugh heartily at Grace scolding her sons about cookies.

“Hey.”

I turn around and look into the face of my husband. I haven’t seen him all week and quite frankly, he looks different. His chest looks wider… broader. Is that a new shirt?

He looks damn good, probably from all that working out.

“Hey,” I respond.

“You’ve been pretty busy, huh?” he says. I shrug.

“A bit,” I admit. “I had to do a lot in a little bit of time.” He nods.

“You certainly did a lot,” he says matter-of-factly. “I see that you pretty much created a cookie factory. You tried some new flavors?”

“Not really.” Does he really want to talk about cookies? “New shapes, yes. Icing on the sweaters and the mice. Chocolate in the big gingerbread men…”

Those are really good,” he admits.

“That’s Maddie’s recipe,” I tell him. “Are those going to replace the chocolate pecan as your favorites?”

“Not in a million years,” he says, and kisses me gently on the cheek. I smile a small smile at him before he goes to converse with Carrick and Herman.

God, those pants really look good on him…

“Ana…”

I break my gaze from my husband’s ass and turn around to greet Marcia… and a very tall and very handsome black man.

“Hey,” I say, pulling her into a hug. “I’m glad you could make it.”

“Are you kidding? I wouldn’t miss it,” she replies. “You really outdid yourself!”

“I may have gotten a little carried away, but it’s the babies’ first Christmas, so…” I shrug and trail off.

“Ana, this is Zachary,” she says, introducing me to her companion.

“It’s nice to meet you, Zachary” I say extending my hand. He takes my proffered hand.

“Zach, please,” he says, looking at me strangely. “Wait a minute… Ana… Anastasia Grey?” I raise my brows.

“Yes?” I reply cautiously.

“All this time, you’ve been telling me about Ana… it was Anastasia Grey?” he says to Marcia. Marcia nods.

“Yeah,” she says in an expecting tone.

“And when Marlow talks about Christian… Christian Grey?” he says. Marcia nods again.

“That would be correct,” she says. He scoffs a laugh.

“Is something wrong?” I ask.

“No, I’m sorry,” Zach says. “She talks about you all the time and I just never put the two together. I feel kinda like a dope.” I sigh inwardly. No trouble allowed on Christmas.

“Don’t,” I say. “I kinda prefer that people don’t know who we are. They don’t know how to act around us. By the way, I saw Maggie, but where’s Marlow?”

“Oh, he’ll be along any minute,” Marcia says. “He stopped to pick up his date first.”

“Who is it this time?” I ask. “Is it the young lady from Thanksgiving?”

“I don’t know, I can’t keep up,” Marcia admits. “When it comes to girls, my son has the attention span of a goldfish!”

“Jesus, I hope that’s just a phase,” I lament.

“Trust me, it usually is,” Zach chimes in. “He’s a good-looking young man with a bright future. He can have his pick of young ladies right now and that’s what he’s doing. He’ll grow out of it or settle down when he finds the right one. He doesn’t strike me as the mindless, ‘play-the-field’ type of kid.”

“Well, I hope he’s at least practicing safe sex,” I add, thinking of the crack his date made at Mia’s wedding about taking off something Marlow didn’t like… or something to that effect.

“He is,” Marcia chimes in. “I keep him supplied with condoms even though he begged me to stop buying them. No way. Nope! I’m going to buy them until he’s grown and out of my house and even then, I can’t guarantee that I’ll stop.” I laugh heartily.

“That’s good to know,” I say. “He’s got a really bright future ahead of him. I’d really hate to see that ruined by unplanned events.

“Or some opportunistic little trick out there trying to make a fast buck,” Marcia emphasizes.

“Hear, hear,” Zach cosigns.

“Well, come on in,” I say, gesturing them further into the house. “There’s quite a bit to see and do.”

“I see,” Marcia says. “My goodness, you’ve really outdone yourself.”

“I blame the babies,” I laugh, leading Marcia and Zach over to some of the cookies.

“I hope I’m not too late,” I hear Marlow saying, walking into the room with an extremely attractive—and voluptuous—brunette. Jesus, what are they putting in the water? These teenagers now and their curves… they’re giving us adults a real run for our money.

“Nope, you’re right on time,” I say, gathering him into a hug. “Dinner should be starting pretty soon, but there are plenty of hors d’oeuvres to tame your tummy. And who do we have here?”

“This is Emily. Emily, this is Anastasia Grey,” Marlow says presenting his date to me.

“Emily! That’s it!” Marcia says almost inaudibly. I stifle a laugh.

“It’s nice to meet you, Emily,” I say with a smile and extend my hand.

“Likewise, Mrs. Grey. Thank you,” she says, taking my hand and giving it a shake. “Your house is fantastic!”

“Thank you, and call me Ana,” I reply. She smiles.

“Ana,” she repeats. “My mom would love this place. I grew up in a house where the Christmas tree was already trimmed for Thanksgiving and my mom makes her own fruitcakes. She has Santas from all over the world that she’s been collecting before I was born. She would never leave this place.”

“Well, by all means, make sure you take her some of my homemade Christmas cookies,” I say. “I’ve got a million of them.”

“Oh, you and my mom are gonna be best friends,” she laughs. “I’m so glad you’re normal.”

“Excuse me?” I say in confused laughter.

“When Marlow told me that we were going to Christmas dinner at the Greys, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, I knew you were beautiful, but in person, you’re gorgeous!” I try not to blush. “And then, we’re driving up to this big mansion and I’m totally expecting to see everyone sitting around with their legs crossed, drinking tea with their pinkies up, talking about the stock market or the weather or something appropriate. I’m so glad to see everybody walking around just being friends and being… normal. I didn’t even know what to wear.” I smile widely and put my arm around her shoulder.

“I think that’s the nicest thing anybody’s ever said to me,” I tell her, and she smiles widely. “And you look just fine.”

“I’m not kidding, Ana, you’re gorgeous. What’s your secret? I’ve been trying to drop this pesky fifteen pounds since freshmen year.”

“Why?” I ask. “You have impressive curves… I’m hope I’m not being to forward.”

“I’ve told her the same thing,” Marlow says. His mother gazes at him and he just shrugs.

“My hips and my butt are kinda big,” she says, her voice low and conspiratorial. I laugh.

“I don’t know if I can help you much there,” I say, with mirth. “This ain’t a petticoat that’s making this dress flair out.”

We laugh heartily and I can hardly believe that I’m having this refreshing conversation with a girl who can’t be older than seventeen.

“But I’ll tell you this,” I add. “I don’t count calories and I eat what I want, but I happen to like fresh and wholesome foods—kabobs, fajitas, anything Mediterranean, that’s my thing. I do yoga regularly. I know Krav Maga, although I haven’t done that in a while…” Mental note—find another trainer, “… and I have a gym in my basement—sparring and weights are my favorite.”

“No wonder you look so great,” she says a little wistfully. “You have natural discipline. I’m so excited that Ana Grey gave me her regimen!!” I curtsy.

“Glad to be of service!” I say. “Start the regimen tomorrow! Diets are a no-no today. There are treats and cookies abound, and the menu is fabulous, so make sure you save room.” I gesture towards the kitchen and the family. Emily smiles and walks in the direction I’m gesturing.

“Thank you,” Marlow mouths as he passes me, and I wink at him.

“She seems nice,” I say as Marcia closes in the space between us.

“She is,” Marcia says. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say she went to finishing school. She’s extremely well-groomed.”

“I think she’s too hard on herself about her weight,” I say as she walks away. She’s not a particularly small-framed girl, but she’s not overweight by any means. She has what I would call an impressive resume in the rear.

“I have to agree with you, but you know how high school is. She’s probably been teased for being two pounds too round.” I twist my lips. Yeah, I know only too well how high school is.

Marcia and Zach work their way into the crowd as Marcia introduces him to Christian. I can see “background check” in my husband’s eyes all the way from here. Sometime while I was being preoccupied, Harmony has joined the party and is talking to Mia and Ethan, and my dad, Mandy, and Harry have all slipped in, too. Harry is entertaining his nephew Mikey who is now running around like a madman. I have to hurry and get him some more sneakers now—with the hard soles.

Minnie has her own audience of women who are adoring her dress and trying to get her to stand so that her brother doesn’t leave her behind. Val helps her to walk a few steps, then releases her, and she walks a few steps on her own before falling on her little butt. The ladies all clap for her achievement, causing her to clap as well and burst into fits of giggles.

Christmas is looking mighty fine at the Greys.

“Hey,” I hear from behind me. I turn around to see Courtney and Vickie.

“Hey!” I say my face lighting up and reaching for a hug. “I’m glad to see you. Come in.” I kiss Courtney on the cheek, then Vickie.

“I hope you don’t mind us showing up like this,” Vickie says.

“Are you kidding?” I reply. “This is why I plan for ‘do-drops,’ because people do tend to drop in. Come on, the more the merrier. Look at this place, what do you think?” I say, proudly gesturing around the house.

“It’s definitely merry,” Vickie says with a laugh.

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” I cede with a smile. “Looks like Leavenworth, doesn’t it?”

“More like Whoville!” Vickie says. “The only thing you don’t have is the Grinch.”

“Yeah, he’s over there,” I say pointing in Christian’s direction. When I look at him, he’s laughing and apparently having a great time with Jason, Chuck, and Nelson.

“He doesn’t look too Grinchy to me,” Vickie points out.

“Maybe he’s had some of the spiked eggnog,” I say with a laugh.

“Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go over and have some of what he’s having,” Vickie says before kissing Courtney on the cheek and heading off towards Christian.

“She’s good for you,” I say to Courtney as we watch Vickie walk away. She puts her hand on Christian’s arm to get his attention and he greets her warmly with a hug. He hasn’t even hugged me today.

“She’s very good for me,” Courtney replies, gazing at her girlfriend. “The fucking best.” I turn my gaze to her.

“I would have thought you would be spending the holiday with family,” I say, trying to gently approach the topic.

“No,” Courtney says, looking down at her hands. “I gave Grandmother the things that I bought for her and Grandfather yesterday. I don’t think Grandfather will ever trust me again—that bridge is burned. I don’t like it but I’m okay with it. Vick’s family… well, they’re not very keen on this set up.”

“That you’re a girl, you mean?” I ask. She shakes her head.

“No, that I’m white.” My head does the bobble-thing.

“What?” I ask incredulously. Courtney nods matter-of-factly.

“Oh, yeah,” she says, looking back at Vickie once more. “Apparently they can deal with her eating pussy. They just can’t deal with her eating pink pussy.” I blink several times.

“You can’t be serious!” I say. “That’s one of the most medieval things I’ve ever heard!” And there’s that word again.

“Tell me about it,” she says. “I’ve already had to fight the whole bi battle—and quite frankly, after finding Vick, I’m pretty sure that I’m not bi, I’m gay—but now I have to fight the race battle, too? I mean this is ridiculous. Why can’t I just freaking love who I want to love, and they love me back without having to pass some damn test?”

“You can.”

We turn around to the deep voice that interrupted us right into gorgeous brown eyes and caramel skin.

“Forgive me for intruding, but I couldn’t help overhearing,” he says. “You can love whoever the hell you want. It’s nobody’s business but yours. You don’t have anything to prove to anybody, as long as the two of you are happy. Whoever else doesn’t like it can go to hell. It’s that simple.” Courtney’s eyebrows rise.

“Who… are you?” she asks.

“Oh,” I say, “I forgot you guys probably haven’t met. This gorgeous and insightful black man is James… Al’s husband.”

“Get the fu—…” She stops and covers her mouth. “Get outta here! Are you serious?”

“I’m serious,” I say. She extends her hand.

“It’s very nice to meet you! I had no idea,” she says.

“That I was black?” he says, taking her hand with a smile.

“No, that you were hot,” she admits without apology.

“I should warn you, she’s very frank,” I say to James.

“That’s not a problem,” James says with mirth. “I have the same problem with my family. I don’t know if it’s as bad for you as it is for me, but let’s just say that I and my husband won’t be going back to my hometown in the foreseeable future.”

“Boy, I need you to talk to my girlfriend. She’s feeling pretty bad about it…” and off they go toward Vickie.

I’m making my way around the house, preparing everyone to head into the dining room as dinner is going to be served soon when I see—and hear—Sophie in yet another sparring match with Marlow and his date.

“What? I didn’t say anything,” I hear Sophie say, and I can tell that this not-so-cordial conversation has been going on for at least a few volleys.

“Marlow, I heard Ana say that dinner is about to be served. Can we just go sit down?” Emily says, obviously trying to extinguish whatever’s going on.

“Yes, dinner,” Sophie says, “we have a lovely menu. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.” I hiss quietly to myself. Maggie’s mouth falls open with a gasp and her eyes widen like saucers. Sophie’s meaning didn’t get past anybody.

“Sophie!” Marlow exclaims in horror. Emily is clearly affronted and folds her arms.

“Little girl, what is your problem?” she asks pointedly. Little girl… oh, no. Sophie just shrugs her off.

“I don’t have a problem. Sorry if you think so,” she says. “Nice skirt, by the way. They’re making everything in plus sizes these days, huh?”

Oh. God. Shots. Fired.

Emily puts her hands on her hips and her expression says that if she were anywhere else, she and Sophie would be fighting right now.

“Those are pretty tall words coming from someone who looks like one of Rainbow Brite’s little friends,” Emily seethes, looking Sophie up and down before flipping her hair dramatically and walking away from the conversation. I want to rush in and save Sophie and scold Marlow for one of his girlfriends being rude to her once again… but Sophie started this one, so I can’t.

“Geez, Sophie,” Marlow says, clearly exacerbated. “What is wrong with you?” It’s a rhetorical question and he doesn’t wait around for an answer, walking quickly behind his date and catching her arm to smooth things over. After a short exchange of words, she flips her hair again and smiles coyly, hooking arms with Marlow and heading towards the dining room with him.

Crisis averted—for Marlow anyway. Sophie, on the other hand, looks like she’s going to hurl. I can’t even intervene this time because she brought it on herself.

Just when one catastrophe plays out in front of me, another is possibly calling me on my phone. There’s no quiet space in the immediate vicinity and I have to find one quickly before my phone stops ringing. I run to the mudroom, grab a coat—I think it’s Christian’s—and dash out into the garage. I swipe the screen and catch the call just before it goes to voicemail.

“Gary?” I say into the phone.

“Hey,” he says. He sounds so depressed.

“Hey!” I respond. It’s so good to hear his voice.

“Merry Christmas,” he says.

“Merry Christmas,” I reply. “How are you?”

“Shitty, but alive,” he says. I pause.

“Well, I’m glad to hear that you’re alive,” I reply. It’s quiet for a while.

“I don’t want to talk to her,” he says. “I don’t want to talk about her or see her… but I miss her.” I sigh.

“Yeah, that’s usually the way it is,” I say, “especially today.”

“Today sucks,” he says. “I gotta go,” he adds after a pause.

“Gary!” I say, desperately trying to catch him before he hangs up. “If you need me, Gary…” I trail off. He’s silent again, and for a moment, I think he hung up.

“I know,” he says. “Merry Christmas.” And he ends the call.

I feel worse now than before he called. I’m glad he thought of me and I’m happy to hear his voice, but he sounds positively miserable. I hate to hear the hurt in his voice and hate even more that I can’t take it away.

I don’t want to see her, but I miss her. What a conundrum to be in.

I look down at my phone to swipe it closed and see that I have another notification. It’s email. I almost ignore it, but it’s Christmas, so I decide to at least see who it is.

Shit! It’s Marilyn. What are the fucking odds?

She sent the email just after midnight. How did I miss it? I open my email app and go to her email.

To: Anastasia Steele-Grey
Re: I’m Alive
Date: Thursday, December 25, 2014, 00:15
From: Marilyn Caldwell

Merry Christmas Bosslady,

I hope today finds you well. I can’t say the same for myself—a little better, maybe, but not well.

I was glad to get the email from you. It’s good to know that there’s someone who hasn’t forgotten about me.

I’m depressed, Bosslady. Really depressed. There’s no use in beating around the bush when your boss is a shrink. I’m not in a good place at all and being here with my parents has been nothing but emotional and spiritual torture. My mother is a goddamn gospel bully. If there is a place in heaven for her, I’d be surprised. Jesus is probably embarrassed at the way she wields His name like a weapon throwing everyone into hell like she’s the final judge and jury!

I did manage to get out a bit. It was my only saving grace—the library, mostly. The movies, wherever I could go to get away from my mother’s swinging sword. Dad’s waving the blood-stained banner, too, but not nearly as badly as my mother. The way she talks about me, you would think my bed was just going to ignite any second with fire and brimstone with me in it.

The truth is, Ana, I couldn’t be alone. I didn’t trust myself. I wasn’t actively thinking suicide or self-harm or anything like that, but I couldn’t think from one moment to the next when Gary walked out. I certainly couldn’t sleep in our bed or live in our house, smell his smell… I probably would have done something drastic had I stayed. I’m only telling you this because I didn’t want you to think I was crazy coming to my parents knowing what was waiting for me when I got here. I needed some place to go. I couldn’t stay in Seattle and I knew that they would watch over me even if it meant that they were throwing me in hell every 15 minutes.

I’ve accepted that it’s over between me and Gary. I’m still not happy with it and I don’t know when or if I’ll ever get over it. I know the shrink in you would tell me that time heals all wounds, but this one is gaping and oozing, and rips open every night when I’m in bed alone. If it does heal, I’m afraid that it’s going to take a lifetime.

Having said that, I want to say that you’ve been the best damn boss a girl could have—paying me all this time even though you hadn’t heard from me and didn’t even know if I would be coming back. I thought about leaving and starting all over somewhere else—somewhere that there was no chance of running into the man that I love with all my heart, but who can’t stand the sight of me. You’ll forgive me if I’m not around for any of the Grey family functions if he’s expected to be in attendance, but it’s time for me to get on with my life and stop hiding out. It’s not healthy for me and whatever I’m going to do, I can’t do it hiding in my old childhood bedroom and enduring 16 – 18 hours of constant persecution.

So, Bosslady, I’ll be back in Seattle and back to work the first Monday of next month. I’m a little stronger now, but not strong enough to come back just yet. By giving myself a deadline, I have something to work towards, and by promising you that I’ll be there, I know I can’t back out.

I won’t ask if Gary has asked about me. He hasn’t tried to call, and he hasn’t reached out to me by text or any social media, so I’m sure he just wishes that I were dead. I will most likely forever be known as the woman who killed his baby. We weren’t ready for a baby. No matter how much he wanted it, we weren’t ready. I thought we were being so careful, but apparently not careful enough. Now, I’ve lost everything. I couldn’t win with this one, Ana. I just couldn’t win.

So, I’m going to have a little “me” time and be a tourist in my own city for the next 10 days to break the funk of what life is before I come back and put my big girl panties on. I’ll admit that I wanted to be hurtful, so I waited until my parents went to sleep, then I packed my things and moved out of the Hellbound Hotel and now I’m at the Doubletree. They won’t care anyway. Their only concern will be that I’m not there for them to torture me anymore.

Thanks for caring about me, Ana. Really. I’ll see you on the fourth.

Marilyn Caldwell
Personal Assistant to Dr. Anastasia Steele-Grey

I’ll be the first to admit that her changed signature gives me hope. I almost want to jump through hoops that she’s coming back on the fourth, but I’m happier that she got out of the toxicity of her parents’ house. I wish she and Gary could see past this hurt and realize that they love each other very much. Honestly, she can see past it. He can’t.

I take a deep breath and let it out, then I check my face for tears or smudged mascara and go back into the house.


A/N: Ana mentions “Gulliver’s” decorations on the front lawn. She’s referencing Gulliver’s Travels and his visit to Lilliput.

Leavenworth is “Christmastown” Washington.

NEW CHRISTMAS PINTEREST PAGE 
https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/raising-grey-a-grey-christmas/

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.

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

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

 ~~love and handcuffs

Fifty Shades Golden: Chapter 27

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

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

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

CHAPTER 27

Briana Evigan Ch 27

GOLDEN

I sit in my room for several hours after I leave Trey’s… Christian’s apartment. I don’t know what to think or feel. He turned me away. I want to be angry, but I can’t. I can’t muster up the outrage that I should be feeling, or at least that I think I should be feeling. I want to be angry because of what he took from me.

He took the last word.

I leave them salivating for me. I leave them wanting me, craving me… I leave them aching for the Golden treatment. He obviously wants me, but he sent me away. He told me to leave.

You win—I’m in agony; I can’t take this anymore. You make me want you, but then you say I can’t have you. Then you go away, but you make me want you again. I can’t get you out of my mind. You’re in my blood…

Please, just go, Ana. Just go…

There’s a small satisfaction in knowing that they want you, that they’ll come crawling back to you, even if they know that you’ll push them away… more than small if I’m honest. There’s that knowledge that they want to come back that speaks to the sadistic goddess inside.

He took that away from me. I was there in his home, somewhat available, and he told me to leave. The nerve of him! Although, I guess I’m being a little selfish since the man just gave his sister a kidney and could have died, and I’m stewing over what he took from me.

Instead of concentrating on Christian and his denial, I concentrate on the things that fulfill me—beating the hell out of my clients; watching them suffer and begging to come and then making them explode all over the exhibition room. I often imagine Christian watching me, salivating and nutting all over himself because he can’t have me. I think about him more than I like these days and I even dream about him some nights… dammit.

In one such dream, I was telling him why he couldn’t have me. He was begging and begging, telling me that he would give me anything to make him mine…

“You’re never going to be able to change me,” I tell him. “You’ll never change who I am. You’re saying that this is what you want. This is what you want right now. You’ll want exclusivity. You’ll want me all to yourself. You’ll even want me to get rid of Blake and that’s never going to happen. You will not want me to do to other men what I do to you. You won’t want me to do to them what I do to them. The resentment will set in, and then the hatred, and soon, you won’t be able to stand the sight of me. Why do that to yourself? Why should we do that to each other? Why not walk away now after we’ve had a good run and some good times? Take the good memories that we’ve had and don’t ruin it. Nothing lasts forever, we both know that, so let’s quit while we’re ahead.”

Then, of course, I wake up knowing that he doesn’t want to see me, and the last time he saw me, he sent me away. That indescribable feeling comes back, and I end up beating the hell out of one of my clients again… with Christian watching in my mind’s eye. I’ve actually acquired three more clients in the last two months, one of whom bought me a pair of solid gold stilettos that I’ll never wear.

Shoes are supposed to have some give, people, or you can’t walk in them!

Anywho, I’m still Golden and at least that hasn’t changed.

In other news, there has been an arrest in Blondie’s case. Some miniscule piece of evidence pointed to one guy who, if he had me as his defense, wouldn’t have been fingered for the deed. However, I’m not prone to represent the guilty, not to mention he crumbled under interrogation and confessed to the crime, offering to give up his accomplices for a plea deal as he’s looking at 25 to life. Once his plea was carved in ink, he fingered two other hired killers…

And Linc.

That doesn’t surprise me. Once I saw how badly he beat her before running off to the Bahamas, I knew that he was capable of doing much worse. Once I heard that she had liquidated some of their portfolio to pay the lawsuit, I knew that act wouldn’t go without some kind of punishment. Did I expect her to be killed? No, but I did expect some kind of retaliation. Once I saw how she died, I fully expected Linc to have done it himself. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that he watched the whole thing.

Someone asked me if I felt any conviction over the situation. There’s the fact that the lawsuit was fabricated by me over something that didn’t really happen and that her death was a direct result of paying off that lawsuit. Had it been anyone else, I might have, but let’s look at the facts.

She stole one of my clients by lying to him because I wasn’t available.
She plotted against me to ruin me in the BDSM community by siccing Magic Dick on me.
When it didn’t work out the way she had hoped she threatened my life.
She blamed me for whatever did or didn’t happen to her crummy salons, causing me to hire security so that she didn’t attack me when my back was turned.
She ganged up on me with her frosted fuck creepy husband at the fundraiser a couple of years ago.

And that’s only what she’s done to me.

She broke Christian’s arm.
She falsely accused him of battering her.
Had one thing gone differently—any one thing—after she let him loose on me, he would also be in a wheelchair or dead from a bullet from my gun.

That woman was the devil, and you can’t feel sympathy for Satan.

For me, however, life is a bit… surreal, for lack of a better word. I still get off on my sadistic lifestyle. In fact, I need it now more than ever to maintain balance—but that word…

Balance.

I feel like something is really missing from my life. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, and I refuse to accept that it has anything to do with Christian. He was a chapter in my life that is now closed, and I can deal with that. But besides that, nothing else has really changed. Yet, even with yoga, meditation, and my beloved sadism, I can’t really find the balance that I’m looking for.

In my search for balance, I’ve been spending a little more time with my family. I’ve put more pictures and keepsakes of Mommy and Daddy around the house, things that Aunt Sheila gave me after Uncle Richard died. It makes me feel so much closer to them and I’m very happy about that.

I also try to get to dinner at Aunt Sheila’s at least twice a month. She’s still dealing with Uncle Richard’s death and the fact that more and more has come out about the kind of person that he was since he passed. He was a faithful husband and family man—he just wasn’t a really good person.

One Saturday night, I agree to go with Tracy to a club in the old neighborhood. I’m definitely game for some dancing and a few drinks. So, I put on my Bodycon wine-colored party dress with a sexy side slit and my wine-colored fabric thigh boots and plan to hit the club in Tracy’s Kia. I should have known that it wouldn’t be that easy. We have to wait in line to get in and once we do, we head to a table of Tracy’s friends.

The eye-cutting begins immediately.

“I thought you said your cousin was coming,” one of the girls says accusingly. Tracy gives her a watch-it glare.

“This is my cousin,” Tracy says. “This is Ana.”

“Oh,” she replies popping her neck, and every last one of them turn their heads without addressing me.

Okay, it’s going to be this kind of night. That’s alright, I’m not looking for new friends. I’m looking to dance and drink.

I squeeze into the seat next to one of the girls, who blatantly turns her back to me. I roll my eyes and they rest on Tracy’s, who is sitting across from me. She’s talking to the girl sitting next to her and looking apologetically at me at the same time.

Well, this was a great idea, but I won’t spoil Tracy’s night. I turn my attention to the dancefloor and people watch.

“You look like you could use a dance.”

I’ve sat here for what feels like an eternity, but I know it was only a few minutes, when I look up to see where the voice is coming from.

Tall, dark, and handsome… and he wants to dance.

“I certainly could,” I say. I put my purse across my body, and he leads me to the dance floor. This is what I needed… just to be free and have a good time. I dance for four songs with the guy and as I’m leaving the dancefloor, he hands me a number. I smile prettily and thank him for the dance before I head back to the table.

“Somebody needs some deodorant,” the same girl says to no one in particular when I sit down. Then she turns away from me and sips her drink. Tracy is gone, and I assume she’s dancing. I know that I’m not emitting any odor because first, I am wearing deodorant and second, I’m not even sweating. So, I deduce that she’s just being catty and bitchy for no reason. I sigh again and mock her behavior, turning the other way, away from her and towards the dancefloor.

Tracy returns and the revelry begins at the table again—for everyone but me, that is—for a solid twenty minutes. Yet another gorgeous black guy comes and asks me to dance, and I oblige. The truth is, it wouldn’t matter if Quasimodo walked up and asked me to dance, I was leaving that table. Who wants to spend a night out with a bunch of bitter, angry women?

I dance for several songs, get another number, and head to the bar. I order a double shot of vodka and a glass of water. When the vodka comes, I throw it back quickly and take large gulps of my water. When a third dance partner approaches me—champagne skin and curly hair—I’m on the floor again.

I spend most of the evening on the dancefloor or at the bar—mostly on the dancefloor. I go to the ladies’ room to relieve myself and decide that it’s time to rejoin my party at the table, not that I want to.

“Oh, Jesus,” one of the other girls says. “She’s back.”

No, the hell I’m not. I’m a grown ass woman. I don’t need this shit.

“God, you guys are a bunch of really catty bitches! That’s embarrassing. She didn’t even do anything to you!” Tracy accuses.

“Because of her, nobody wants to dance with us!” one girl remarks. Well, that’s a crock of shit. I haven’t even been at the table most of the night.

“Well, I’m leaving, so you don’t have to worry about that anymore,” I say, standing to my feet and grabbing my purse.

“Good!” she remarks. “Bye!”

“It’s not her fault that nobody wants to dance with you, Latrice,” Tracy says, standing as well. “It’s your fucking resting-bitch-face that chases them away. Jesus, if I can’t bring anybody around you guys, I don’t need to be around you either.” She puts her purse strap on her shoulder.

“Come on, Ana,” Tracy says, hooking arms with me, “let’s go get a drink… somewhere else!” We begin to walk away from the table.

“Uncle Tom!” one of the girls yells behind us.

“Fuck you, Allie!” Tracy yells back, flipping the bird behind her without turning around. We walk arm-in-arm out of the club and go to Tracy’s Kia.

“You didn’t have to leave your friends behind for me, Tracy,” I say as she starts the car.

“It’s been a long time coming,” she says, as she drives down the road. “It’s not like we were ride-or-die, anyway. They’re unhappy and they find fault in everything. Only one of them is actually doing something to make changes in her life and that’s Vershawna. The rest of them just complain about where they are. Yeah, we’ve been friends for a long time, but you can only deal with that shit for so long. I’ve grown out of it. They’re still stuck in it.”

“It could also be because I’m white,” I say, stating the obvious.

“That’s what it is this time,” she admits. “Tomorrow they’ll see somebody with the wrong color hair, with a skirt too short, with too many kids, you name it. If they can find something wrong with the world, they will. It’s time out for that shit.” I shake my head and look out the window.

“What is it, Ana?” she asks.

“I’ve met a lot of people in my lifetime,” I begin, “from a lot of different nationalities and backgrounds. My father was black. I grew up in a black neighborhood. Most of my pro bono cases are young black boys that just deserve a break. My yoga instructor is black, my receptionist is black…”

“And you’ve said that you’ve met a lot of different nationalities, but so far, all you’re talking about is black,” Tracy points out.

“And there’s a reason for that,” I say. “I’ve met people from many walks of life, and I don’t treat anybody any differently because of it. Why is it that black women—particularly in social situations—dislike me so much? I get the whole concept of racism; I haven’t lived under a rock for the last 34 years, but this is more than that. This is I shouldn’t be seen with a black man; I shouldn’t visit the areas I grew up in… and it’s not all black people! It’s black women. And it’s not all settings—it’s in a club or a restaurant. They don’t give a fuck if I’m at the grocery store, it’s just if I’m having dinner with Kevin, or dancing with Darryl, or riding Fuckboy Jake’s bike! What the fuck is that?”

I’ve raised my voice louder than I intended and Tracy has fallen silent. I cross my arms like an errant child, certain that I’m not going to get an answer, but Tracy starts talking.

“It would take me way too long to explain that to you, Ana,” she says calmly, “but that’s not going to change. It comes from a long line and centuries of oppression and discrimination, and I think you know that. What you’re getting from black women is what black people have experienced from white people since well before you and I were gleams in our daddies’ eyes. The hatred that comes along with that has been passed down through the generations. Among the many, many other intolerances among the races, the vast majority of black women in many areas have a staunch intolerance of white women with black men. Remember, it’s only been about 50 years or so since the races could legally interact that way.

“The world is slowly changing, I know, but not everybody is changing with it—on both sides of the fence, for that matter. You never met our grandfather, did you?” I furrow my brow.

“No, I don’t think I did,” I reply.

“That’s because he went to his grave pissed at Uncle Ray for marrying Carla,” she says. I didn’t know that, but I vaguely remember something like that happening on Mommy’s side of the family, which is why I ended up with Uncle Richard and Aunt Sheila. I sigh and shake my head.

“So, I guess I’m just supposed to stay on my side of the bridge, then.” It’s a statement, not a question.

“You cross the bridge whenever you want,” Tracy replies. “That’s the only way to combat this kind of shit. Just don’t be surprised when people aren’t willing to cross that bridge with you.” I twist my lips. This isn’t new, I was just looking for some grand reason that black women hate me so much. There’s none. It’s the same reason they hated Mommy for marrying Daddy, and it’s not going to change.

“You hungry?” she asks, breaking my chain of thought. I look over at her and nod.

“Famished,” I reply.

“What do you have a taste for?” she asks.

“Greens and cornbread,” I say, without hesitation.


Eric Dane 27

TREY

I gave up a goddamn kidney; now my mother is going to have to speak to me.

It’s been months since the operation and even Dad has come by to see me. I’ve finally gotten the clearance from the doctor to resume activities as usual, and now, I’m going to my parents’ house to put this radio silence to rest.

I’m getting everything together and I’m looking for my phone, but I can’t find it. Where did I toss the damn thing? I look on the nightstand and see that the top drawer is partially opened. I open the drawer and there’s my phone.

How the fuck did it get in there?

I take it out and swipe the screen to see if I missed any important calls or texts. Just beyond the phone, I can see what else is in that drawer. It’s the handkerchief I used to wipe Golden’s lipstick away when she kissed me.

I run my thumb over the lipstick stain. She’s gone now, so I can admit that I had started to care for her. Maybe she’s right… maybe this is best. My first instinct is to put the handkerchief in the laundry to rid it of the memory of her, but then I’d look at every handkerchief I own and wonder if it’s the one. Instead, I take it to the kitchen and toss it in the trash.

The housekeeper lets me in at my parents’ house and tells me that Dad is out in the back and Mom is in the dining room. For some strange reason still unbeknownst to me, I decide to go and talk to Dad first. He’s sitting in a lawn chair facing the lake. He’s not looking left or right, just straight in front of him, like he would run out there and jump in the water and never return. Mom must not be talking to him either.

“Coming out for a father and son talk, are you?” he asks. He doesn’t look over his shoulder, so I don’t know how he knows who’s walking up to him or even if it’s me or Elliot. He’s quite maudlin and he looks like shit. He’s got a tumbler of amber liquid in his hand, but I can tell that he’s not drunk.

“I’m just making sure that you’re not out here contemplating suicide,” I say as I take the seat next to him. “I’ve never seen you like this, even when you and Mom broke up.” He turns to me.

“Concerned, son?” he asks, his voice laced with irony.

“Yeah, about my mother,” I reply matter-of-factly. He scoffs and takes a sip of his drink.

“I could die tomorrow, and you wouldn’t care,” he says, looking out over the lake. “You wouldn’t shed one goddamn tear.”

“And whose fault is that, Dad?” I ask. He turns an angry glare to me.

“You’re saying this is all my fault?” he asks incredulously. “You blackmailed me into showing you the BDSM ropes—pun intended—and you’re saying that this breakdown is all because of me?”

Touché.

“No, Dad, I’m not saying that,” I cede. “We both burned that bridge, but you kept throwing kindling on the fire for years and you know it.”

I don’t turn my gaze from him. I’m waiting for his rebuttal, but I know that he has none. He turns back to the lake.

“I hope my grandkids give all of you as much hell as you’ve given me,” he laments quietly. I scoff.

“What grandkids?” I ask, incredulously. “I’m 36 years old with no desire to have any children. Mia just got a new kidney—so that’s not happening any time soon if at all. And if you’re putting your hopes and dreams in Elliot to carry on the family name, good luck! He’s pushing 40 with a girl in every fucking port, and unless he’s got some illegitimates somewhere, sorry Dad, but this branch of the Grey family tree is dead.” He sighs.

“Well, that’s depressing,” he complains. “Looks like I’ve failed at everything.”

I shake my head. I can’t feel sorry for this man. He’s deliberately deceitful and the only time I’ve ever seen him exercise honesty and scruples is on the bench.

“I don’t know what you expect,” I say after a long pause. “I don’t know how long you were in the lifestyle during your marriage, and I’m sure Mom doesn’t either, but as soon as she found out and the bottom fell out from under your life as a husband, you stopped being a father. I’ll take what happened to our relationship because of how I held that whole thing over your head, but what the hell happened to Elliot? He finished college; he had the education; he was on the right track. What they hell happened?”

My father finally throws a glare at me.

“Yeah, you know,” I say nodding. “That’s what you do. Ever since you lost your woman, you wanted everybody to be as miserable as you. So, you went on this campaign to get everybody under your thumb. I don’t know how that served you, but you did it to the point where you had something on everybody. Me and BDSM—yeah, that’s a taboo lifestyle and it could cause some damage in certain circles, not to mention that it certainly was going to hurt Mom. Elliot and cocaine, and whatever the fuck else you’ve got hanging over his head, well, that goes without saying. But Mia, Dad? You were holding her hostage through dialysis? Seriously?”

“I wasn’t holding her hostage,” he defends.

“The hell you weren’t!” I retort. “I understand not wanting to put Mom through any undue stress, but something you said along the way scared the shit out of Mia about telling Mom what was going on, and I saw it in her face. Mom should’ve known what was going on with Mia. It was going to come out one way or another and she was fucking blindsided when it was. You thought that was the better option? You’re the fucking parent, Dad. Did you lose all of your paternal instinct when you were swinging that fucking whip at Bunny?”

My father doesn’t answer.

“Mia had another reason for not telling Mom about dialysis and I’m going to find out what it was, but you—you were just plain selfish. Whatever imagined power you thought you had, you’ve lost it all, and now you’re sitting out here concerned again that you may have lost your woman. Since you’ve forsaken everything to keep her and she’s probably all you’ve got left, you might want to get your shit together and figure out how to make this up to her.”

I turn my gaze to the lake. It’s beautiful with the evening sun glistening off it. I get lost in its peace for a moment.

“It was this bad,” he adds. I frown.

“What was?” I ask.

“Breaking up with your mom,” he says. “It was worse, you just didn’t see it.” He looks out at the lake and takes another sip of his drink, his eyes glazing over.

“I never wanted to die before, but without her, I did. I wasn’t suicidal, I just wanted the pain to stop. It was the worst pain of my entire life. I swear there was nothing else to live for… nothing.”

Gee, thanks, Dad.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he says, without turning his gaze to me. “Not five minutes ago, you confirmed that you wouldn’t bat an eye if I dropped dead in front of you.”

“I didn’t say that,” I protest.

“You didn’t have to,” he retorts. “It doesn’t matter, though. It’s my bed and I have to lie in it.” He’s quiet for a few minutes.

“I’m going to talk to Mom,” I say, standing from the seat. “If she’s not going to speak to me, she’ll have to do it to my face. Get your shit together, Dad,” I say as I walk back to the house. Mom is standing at the French doors with a glass of wine in her hands as I approach.

“You and your father talking. There’s a twist,” she says, sarcastically. “Then again, you have so much to share!” Okay, I had that coming.

“All I can say is that I’m sorry, Mom. I didn’t openly lie to you, but I wasn’t totally truthful. I can tell you this about me, though—about all of us. Each, in our own way, was trying to spare you more discomfort. You had been through hell with Dad and we saw that. We watched you suffer and whatever we may feel about each other, we all love you very much. You’re the only reason why we tolerate each other’s presence when it’s time to come together when we’d much rather not. Mia’s a spoiled nagger, Elliot’s an asshole, I’m a cocky motherfucker, and Dad’s a snake…” Mom throws a chastising glare at me.

“I’m sorry for my language, and you may love him, but we both know it,” I say frankly. “But we all love you, and we wanted to spare you as much pain as we possibly could.” She turns back to her wineglass.

“After what your father put me through,” she begins, “I don’t know if I can forgive him for keeping this many secrets from me.” She takes a swallow of her wine and walks back into the dining room. So that’s why he looks so damn miserable. I follow her and join her at the table.

“Do you love him, Mom?” I ask.

“Of course, I love him!” she says, her head snapping to me. “That’s why he’s still here!”

“Then, you’ll forgive him,” I say. “And he’ll fuck up again, and you’ll forgive him, then, too… as long as he doesn’t do any big shit, again—then I’ll have to come and kill him.” I think she scoffs a laugh, but her face doesn’t change. “You know what they say about the road to hell, Mom. We all had the best intentions, even though none of us executed the best strategy.”

I don’t tell her that I really believe that Dad was keeping the secrets because he wanted to later use them as leverage. For what, I don’t know, but unless he has more ammo on my sister and brother, his well is empty.

“Why did you keep this from me, Christian?” she asks sadly. “Your secrets were the most painful.”

“Why mine, may I ask?” I say.

“You said it yourself, Elliot is a fuck-up,” she says. “I don’t know what he’s into—except cocaine now—but I know it’s nothing legitimate. Whatever he’s doing, he has that snaky, slimy look about him. And the women he brings around—why would you bring any of these women to your parents’ home? I’m preparing myself to hear some terrible news about him, and I can only hope it won’t be the very worst, but I expect for something to be deceitful about him.

“And Mia… well, Mia, I don’t know. Was she really trying to spare me, or did she have that whole stupid ‘I can do this on my own’ attitude that she has about nearly everything else? How the hell did she think she could go through this for seven years and we not find out? There’s no other way this could have ended except for her in a body bag.

“But you,” she shakes her head. “You’re into that same shit that your father was in, that nearly tore our family apart and how do I find out? From the cocaine addict who was simply trying to pull other people under the bus with him. But what you did with your kidney was worse.” I frown.

“How?” I say, my voice squeaking. I saved Mia’s life!

“Because you could have died!” she shoots. “Is that how you wanted me to find out you gave Mia a kidney?”

I don’t dispute her. My portion of the surgery was much easier than Mia’s. It was mostly done by laparoscope. It was the whole swinging-crutches-at-people-losing-my-shit thing that caused complications. And the press must’ve really been spooked, because I haven’t seen one picture of us or heard anything about the surgery even in the gossip rags.

“I’ll start with the first question,” I begin. “I didn’t tell you about my sexual lifestyle because of your history of it with Dad, but tell me, Mom. Is that the only reason why you’re appalled by the BDSM lifestyle?”

“I’m appalled because I’ve seen what they do!” she shoots.

“You haven’t seen everything, Mom,” I correct her, “I can guarantee it. If you’ve Googled anything, you’ve probably seen the grittiest that there is to see, and that’s not all there is to the lifestyle. You probably don’t want any BDSM lessons, and I don’t blame you because of what you’ve been through. But you can’t judge what you don’t know, and if you do that to me, you’re judging me for participating in a lifestyle that may be off the beaten path a bit, but is completely legal and based on the concept that every activity is safe, sane, and consensual. It’s no different than being homophobic or discriminating against someone because they’re transgender, or black, or physically disabled, or different than you in any way. And that would make you wrong, Mom.” Her eyes widen.

“How so?” she asks horrified.

“If Dad cheated on you with a Mexican woman and you discovered that I was marrying a Mexican woman, would you be angry with me for that?” I ask. She’s still stunned. “How about a vegan? Would you hate all vegans if Dad cheated on you with a vegan? What if he turned out to be bisexual and he cheated on you with a man—would you disown me for being gay?” Her face falls impassive.

“It’s the same thing, Mom,” I tell her. “You’re not attracted to women; you eat meat; you married a white man… and you don’t practice BDSM, but you can’t put those of us in judgement who do. This…” I pause and point at her, “is why I didn’t tell you.” She closes her eyes and I can see them rolling behind her eyelids.

“You’re… going to have to give me some time to deal with this,” she says. “In the meantime, I would really rather not know about any of your escapades.”

“Tell that to Elliot,” I say matter-of-factly. “You would have never known about any of it if I had my way.”

“Then, you still would have been lying to me,” she points out.

“But you don’t want to know, so where do I win in this?” I ask. She thinks about it, then changes the subject.

“What about Mia’s kidney?” she says. “We already knew that she needed one. There was no need to lie about it.” I sigh.

“Well, I told you that in the hospital, but I also suspected that Elliot was doing something—like what he was doing—that meant that he couldn’t donate a kidney. I was trying to avoid what happened, but it happened anyway, so that was all for nothing.

“Elliot has made some really fucked-up choices and he hates that he’s not in the spotlight. Anytime that spotlight gets turned on me, he finds some way to make it a bad thing. When he thought I was leaving town for Mia’s surgery, he was talking shit then. When he found out that I was the one who gave her the kidney, he was talking shit then. Mia was upset with me for shit that she really felt was my fault. Elliot was just fucking pissed because he couldn’t be ‘the golden boy,’ as he calls me. Do you realize that I was in a lose-lose situation all around?” She holds her head down. She’s clearly suffering from information overload.

“Christian, I love you,” she says, calmly. “You’re my baby boy, but if you keep another secret like this from me again, I’ll never forgive you and I may not survive it. Are we clear?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I say.

“Are there any other secrets?” she asks.

“That woman they found dead last year, Elena Lincoln—the one who threw a potted plant at me and broke my arm?” My mother’s brow rises.

“Yes?” she says expecting.

“We had an affair years ago,” I confess. She waves me off.

“Oh, I knew that,” she says.

“How did you know?” I ask, my brow furrowed.

“That woman found the strength of Hercules and hurled a concrete pot at you. No woman causes that kind of damage to a man unless it’s self-defense or she’s known him Biblically,” she says. “Hell hath no fury…” I shrug.

“Then unless you want to know the details of my BDSM lifestyle, no, I have no other secrets.” She silent for a moment.

“Do you whip those women?” she asks.

“Do you really want to know?” I’ll tell you, but it’s all or nothing, Mom. She shakes her head.

“I don’t want to know,” she says, shaking her head. I stand, lean over and kiss her on the cheek.

“I love you, Mom,” I say. “Forgive me for my half-truths and omission lies.” She looks into her glass of wine.

“I’m working on it,” she says. That’s all I can ask. I walk through the dining room and head to the stairs to go check on Mia, who has been at home with Mom and Dad since the surgery. As I bend the corner, I see my father has come back into the house and is standing at the French doors.

“Don’t hurt my mother again,” I tell him. “I meant what I said.”

“You didn’t tell her that I was the one who introduced you to the lifestyle,” he says. His voice is defeated, but it could still be a veiled threat.

“Do you want me to tell her now?” I shoot. You’re not holding this over my head anymore.

“I just wanted to know why you didn’t tell her,” he asks, raising weary eyes to me. I sigh inwardly.

“I did tell her,” I say. “I didn’t blurt it out like a general public service announcement, but in so many words, I told her—and Dad, I think she already knows…”

“You can stop your sorry attempt at murmuring! I know!” Mom yells from the dining room. I twist my lips at my father.

“She knows,” I say sarcastically. “Don’t. Hurt my mom again.” I walk past him towards the stairs.

“Get your ass in there and grovel,” I add without looking back at him.


Briana Evigan Ch 27 2

GOLDEN

I’m standing in front of the ominous glass building, Grey House, trying to get the nerve to go inside. I’ve stood here many times before over the course of the past several months, never once daring to go inside. What the hell would I say to him? Why am I even here?

I know why I’m here… because I can’t get him out of my mind. We have unfinished business, but hell if I know how to finish it. He haunts my dreams when I’m asleep; he haunts my thoughts even when I’m with another client… another client. He’s not my client anymore. There’s absolutely nothing between us.

“Fuck,” I say, losing my nerve like I’ve done a million times before and turning to the parking structure.

“Ana!”

I turn towards the voice calling my name and there he is, walking down the street towards his building with Taylor close behind him… and now towards me.

Oh, shit.

“What are you doing here?” I ask. He raises his brow.

“This is my building,” he says, stating the obvious. I roll my eyes.

“No, I mean, what are you doing out here instead of up there?” He twists his lips. I’m positive that he wants to say none of your business, but he doesn’t.

“I was having lunch with a friend,” he says matter-of-factly. “What are you doing here?”

“I work downtown,” I say, a bit indignantly.

“No, what are you doing here?” he says, pointing in front of him and using my words against me. I don’t have an answer. I never got pass the point of meeting him face to face. I never came up with the magic Golden speech to give the poor suffering subject once I met him. So… here I am.

He reads my silence and puts his hand in the small of my back, effortlessly guiding me into the parking structure of his building. Is he sending me away again?

I soon find that he’s just moving us off the sidewalk and away from prying eyes. Taylor disappears somewhere as we walk to a secluded corner of the garage.

“What do you want, Golden?” he asks his voice low. Oh… Golden… we’re here again. I gird myself for the conversation ahead.

“I want to know why you sent me away,” I ask, the truth rushing out of my mouth before I have the chance to catch it.

“For the same reason that you sent me away,” he replies. “I couldn’t deal with it.”

“I never said I couldn’t deal with it…” I begin.

“Are you serious?” he interrupts. “You didn’t have to. Actions speak louder than gold and you made it perfectly clear that you were having all kinds of problems with everything happening between us. Your wiring short-circuited because of the kiss, and you went completely radio-silent after we had sex. You really think you needed to say you couldn’t deal with it?”

“Look, Christian,” I say, looking around the parking structure to make sure no one is around, “the only thing I was looking for is the respect that a Mistress is due!”

“I never disrespected you!” he retorts quietly.

“The hell you didn’t!” I counter angrily. “You showed up unexpected at my home and had the nerve to question me about a conversation that you shouldn’t have even been privy to! Any other time, there was a protocol when you left—it was how we operated. And you get all sensitive when I reacted the way that a Mistress would the next time I had you in my dungeon!”

“I was not your submissive!” he hisses. “I never will be!”

“And yet you and your kisses and your sex are supposed to change me?” I bark.

“Why do you keep saying that I’m trying to change you?” he demands. “I never gave you that impression! Not once! I can’t make you not be who you are any more than you can make me not be who I am. The only difference is that I didn’t know who I was until I got the full spectrum. One woman couldn’t satisfy me, because one woman couldn’t give me what I wanted—what I needed! Even after you beat the hell outta me, I needed to fuck… hard!

“Do you have any idea how many women I’ve fucked to your face? How many times I came into some deep, hot, tight orifice seeing you the entire time? It didn’t matter to me that you got some poor sucker off the day before or that you were getting him off right there and then. What mattered was that I was blasting the rocket’s red glare and I was seeing you! I was feeling your flogger on my back, smelling your smell, seeing your tight body and imagining that it was you wrapped around my cock! And then when you finally gave me what I wanted—sweet Jesus! I had hit Nirvana. Then you cut me off like a kid asking for a lollipop the day after Halloween… completely! Without a word. You and those fucking games! I can’t take those fucking games anymore!” He throws his hands up in the air. “Why am I even telling you this? It’s not like you fucking care!”

“Because I do care!” I yell at him. “I don’t want to, but I do! I don’t want to change who I am… who I was… but nothing makes sense anymore. I’m nothing like who I used to be. I can go through the motions. I can inflict the pain. I can make them come… but I’m not who I used to be! It’s not the same… something is missing. Something’s not right…”

I’m still a sadist and I’m still a Dominatrix, but I’m just not who or what I was. I simply can’t wring the pleasure from the experience that I used to… and I know why. Son-of-a-bitch, I know why. I don’t want to admit it and the words are ripping a hole in my chest, fighting to get out. They won’t be denied. I shriek in anger as I spew the confession burning in my throat and chest.

“Goddammit!” I sob. “Elena was right! She was right! You have spoiled me for other men! I’m ruined! I’ll never be the same! I’ll never fucking be the same! Damn you, Elena Lincoln! Damn you straight to hell! And damn you, too!” I yell at him as I make a B-line to my Range Rover. I dream about this man. I want this man. I can’t function properly without this man! What the fuck am I supposed to do now?


c50b50fe03562a62f3e07c4fdd3dfb38

TREY

She’s running away… again! She’s basically told me that she can’t live without me and now, she’s trying to run again.

I’m behind her before I can stop myself. I reach her right before she gets to her truck and snatch her back into my arms. She’s still weeping when I cover her lips with mine, branding her lips with a searing kiss. They’re salty and soft and irresistible, and when she wraps her arms around me and returns the kiss, I back her against her truck and press my body into hers, taking all of her that I can in case she gets away.

What the fuck am I doing? Why the fuck am I even doing this to myself? Because she’s goddamn addictive, and now that I’ve had her, I can’t think of anything else!

“I love you and I hate you!” I seethe as I bury my face in her neck. “Why do I let you do this to me!”

She’s still sobbing as I take mouthfuls of her flesh, tasting her everywhere my lips can reach, her weeping only ceasing when I take her lips.

“Why don’t you turn me loose?” I question against her lips, my hand thrust in her hair and holding her captive as I reposition my lips and feast on her neck.

“I… can’t!” she chokes. “I tried… I… keep trying… I can’t!”

Her hands thrust into my hair and I kiss every part of her that I can reach, fighting not to ravish her right here in the parking lot.

Breathe, Grey, breathe. Think about this. Think about what you’re doing.

I close my eyes and press my forehead against hers and we’re both panting like marathon runners, her breaths mingled with tearful whimpers.

“What are we supposed to do with this?” I breathe fiercely.

“I… don’t know,” she says in a sobbing voice. “I’m out of my element here.”

“I can’t take your fucking games, Ana,” I admit, my voice still harsh while I hold her close to me. “You’re hot for me one minute and the next minute, you’re cold, aloof, and invisible.”

“I know, I know,” she says, her voice helpless.

“I’d rather you walk away from me forever than to keep me on that goddamn rollercoaster. Let me go and let me get you out of my system… out of my blood!” I squeeze her harder with every word, my fingers digging into her body.

“No… no… please…” Her fingers tighten in my hair and I slam my lips against hers again, our teeth clashing together as our tongues hungrily search for each other, driving fiercely into each other’s mouth and devouring unspoken words.

I told her I loved her. Did I mean that? Did I mean that I love her or that I love what she does to me?

I break our kiss. We need to talk. We can’t do this here… none of this.

“Meet me at my penthouse,” I breathe raggedly against her lips. “Twenty minutes. We have to… work this out.”

She quickly nods at me with wide, glassy, brown eyes. I take a deep, ragged breath and release it before I let her go. I turn away from her and walk to the elevator, thrusting my hands into my hair on the way. What the fuck am I getting myself into? Wouldn’t it just be simpler to send her the fuck away? She’d just come back… like she did today.

“Ana?” I say, turning to face her. She hasn’t moved from her spot, but she quickly raises her head to look at me.

“Don’t play with me,” I say finitely. “If you’re not there when I get there, I’ll never see you again.” I mean it. I don’t have time for her games. She nods at me with a tearful sniffle.

*-*

About 45 minutes after I leave Ana in the parking garage at Grey House, I arrive at the lobby of Escala. I don’t know why I waited so long. I think I was just stalling, certain that she was playing with me again and that she wouldn’t be there—that she was stringing me along with her Golden lasso like Wonder Woman, leaving me totally helpless to her powers once again.

When I exit the elevator from the parking garage and walk into the lobby, she’s sitting there waiting for me, watching the front of the building like she expects me to walk in the front door. I guess she did.

“Ana,” I call out firmly to her. Her head snaps in my direction and she stands immediately. Her stride doesn’t have that confidence that I’m accustomed to. She’s not weak or anything, but that edge isn’t there. That edge that I love and hate.

Love and hate.

When she reaches me, I take her hand and wordlessly head to the elevator. Jason is already in the penthouse having gone up before me. So, she and I ride silently to the penthouse. The air is so thick in the elevator, you can hardly breathe. I stare at her while she stares at the numbers above us, rising to indicate that we’re headed for the top floor. When the bell rings and the doors open, she’s gotten a bit of her stride back and she slowly walks into the foyer. I follow behind her, reaching around her to open the doors of my penthouse.

She takes a deep breath and walks inside, immediately placing her purse on the sofa closest to the door. It’s the middle of the afternoon and my apartment is a ghost town—nobody expects us to be here.

I close the door behind me and walk over to her. She has her back to me and I total intend to ask if she wants something to drink for our talk, but she turns around and looks up at me, lips parted, brown eyes wide and wanting.

Shit! Fuck now, talk later.

I gather her in my arms, lifting her off the floor before she has the chance to think or protest. I burn her lips with a passionate kiss as I hurriedly carry her to my bedroom. I kick the door closed and place her feet on the floor. We stop kissing only long enough to remove our respective suit jackets and shirts. She quickly tugs at… something, and her hair releases from a tight bun and cascades down her back.

Fuck. I need her now.

She’s back in my arms and I’m undoing her skirt as she loosens my belt and unzips my fly. Both pieces of clothing fall down our legs and we each step out of them and our shoes, leaving them in mounds on the floor.

Lifting her in my arms again, I carry her to my bed, still hungrily devouring her kisses and I sit on the edge, forcing her to straddle me. I feel the heat of her core between us and my cock is hardening fast. I reach under her hair and unhook her bra, causing her breasts to spill out freely. I take one of her nipples into my mouth, taunting, teasing and tasting it. She gasps and drops her head back. I put my hand into the small of her back, holding her down onto my erection as I tease her nipple to tautness.

She whimpers loudly, the ends of her hair brushing my hand as I immobilize her against my body, against my cock. I put my other hand flat on her spine, move my mouth over to the other nipple, and begin to grind into her, against her exposed clit through her silk panties. She gasps loudly and thrusts her hand into my hair. She tries to move, but I have her firmly pressed against me, burning that clit with my rock-hard cock.

I’m going to make you come, Ana.

With nowhere to go, she drops her head back again and settles in for the ride. I suck her nipples hard, occasionally giving one or the other a gentle nip. Her whimpering becomes wheezing and her grip on my hair tightens. Moments later, her body stiffens and she’s crying out her orgasm. Her stiffening body begins to tremble as I continue to grind into her, squeezing out every single pulse of that clit. When her legs tighten against my thighs and she falls shivering against my body, I know that she’s had enough.

I stop my ministrations against her and lay her panting body on the bed. I remove her panties, suspenders and stockings all in one slow but efficient motion, tossing them in the mound of clothes we’ve created next to my bed. Giving her a brief moment to catch her breath, I remove my boxer briefs and socks, and they join the pile as well. I crawl back onto the bed and settle between her legs, the smell of her sex juices assaulting my senses. I use my nose to separate her lips and inhale deeply, blowing gently on her clit when I exhale. Her back bows and she grabs handfuls of the bedsheet.

I won’t make her cum again this way, but I’ll get her good and ready.

I am merciless on that clit. I mean, I am seriously porno-licking this pussy. Saliva is mixing with her juices from her orgasm and dripping down to her asshole. I use my fingers to spread the juices to her lips and tease her opening as my tongue torments the tip and underside of her clit. She nearly growls with pleasure as she arches into my mouth.

“Ah! Ah!” she cries as I fuck her with my tongue and suck her cunt until she’s trembling on the bed. I eat that pussy until her cries change and become high-pitched, then I crawl up her body, pushing her legs open with mine. I entwine my fingers into hers and pin her hands down on the bed. I gyrate my hips until the head of my cock finds the opening of her pussy. It takes all I have not to thrust into her balls deep, but I’m so fucking hard that I’m certain I’ll hurt her if I do… no matter how wet she is. I push into her, slow but hard.

Fuck, she’s just as tight as she was the last time.

I take a deep breath and push into her again.

Almost there…

I put pressure on my knees and push once more… hard. A squeaking noise comes from her throat this time and I pause, my cock buried balls deep inside her.

“You okay?” I ask, my voice and breath ragged. She’s panting underneath me, her eyes closed tight. “Ana?”

“Yes! Yes!” she says without opening her eyes. “Again!”

Her pussy is so hot and tight that I have to concentrate not to nut like a fucking teenager. I pull out of her—only halfway—and thrust deep into her again. She squeals softly again and the sound shoots straight to my dick.

“Again!” she breathes. “Don’t stop!”

Your fucking wish is my command.

I pull out of her halfway and plunge into her again… and again… and again. Her squeals become whimpers, then moans as I bury myself deep inside her over and over again and again, using our entwined hands for leverage. Jesus, it’s like we fit together perfectly, like nothing and no one I’ve ever felt in my life.

“Christian…” she breathes, turning her head to the side and closing her eyes. I bury my face in her neck and feast on her skin while I bury my cock deep inside her core. Unable to free her hands from mine, she wraps her legs around me and meets me thrust for thrust.

Goddamn, this shit feels so good.

“Christian… oh, God…” Her body bows again, and she locks her legs around my body. It doesn’t hinder my stroke, though. I’m thrusting freely and deeply into her now as she encourages me with various sex phrases…

“Yes…”
“Don’t stop…”
“Right there…”
“Again…”
“Please…”
“Oh, God…”

I’m getting hot and hard and my cock is just about ready to blow inside this soft, warm, tight pussy.

“Let me go… please… let me go…”

I release her hands and she wraps them under my arms and around my body, pulling me tight against her as she attempts to match my strokes.

“Kiss me… Christian… please…” she breathes. I put my hands on either side of her head and thrust my tongue into her mouth, licking and tasting and exploring as I stroke into her core with intent and purpose. My body is on fire.

She mewls into my mouth and strokes fast and hard on my dick, tightening her legs around me. When I feel her juices flowing and her walls tightening, I stroke deeper to pull her orgasm out of her, but then she bends her fingers and sinks her nails into my back, raking roughly across the skin.

“Fuuuucck!” I yell involuntarily against her mouth, my eyes closing tight from the pain, and my balls popping hard and emptying with force and anger inside her. I’m certain that she drew blood and if she didn’t, I have eight of the reddest tiger stripes across my back you’ve ever seen.

My back is throbbing with the pain… and so is my cock, giving up its final offering and I fall listlessly onto Ana’s panting body.


A/N: So, they sealed the deal again… but there’s still another chapter to go. What do you think?

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

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~~love and handcuffs

 

Fifty Shades Golden: Chapter 26

Two more chapters after this…

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

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

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

CHAPTER 26

Eric Dane 26

TREY

I didn’t get the whole lowdown on sexual activity once I’m released from the hospital, so I’m pretty sure that I’m just going to take it easy until I’m cleared by the doctor. In light of that, I have one last hurrah on Sunday night. I do every freaky thing in the book—anal, deep throat, titty fucks, you name it…

And I don’t come once.

I know it’s a combination of being worried about the surgery—if Mia will be okay, if there’ll be any complications for either of us—and the fact that I still have residual thoughts of Golden.

 

She let me call her Ana while we were maki… having sex. I don’t refer to her as that anymore.

I let Ronnie know that I’m going to be unreachable for about a month and a half so that she doesn’t think I’ve dropped off the face of the earth. I told her to call me if she needs me, but that I’m really going to be tied up in a very important project. Of course, she gave me a hard time about the pun. I’m really glad that we’re still friends.

I’ve already packed my bag and I’m heading out of the penthouse with Jason when I look back at Mrs. Jones standing in the kitchen. Her hands are clasped together, and her expression is unreadable. She’s clearly concerned. I hand my bag to Jason, walk over to her, and I take her clasped hands in mine.

“I’ll be fine,” I tell her with more conviction than I feel. “People do this all the time.” She nods quickly and looks at the floor.

“Yes, sir,” she whispers.

“I’ll need lots of your soup,” I say, trying to lighten the situation. She scoffs a chuckle-sob.

“Yes, sir,” she says again. I kiss her hands and she never raises her gaze to me. I quickly walk out the door with Jason before I get all emotional and lose my nerve.

When I get to the hospital on Monday morning, I have Jason wait in Admitting while I go see Mia. I’ve been here just about every other day to make sure that she’s okay. At first, she was surprised. Now, she’s accepting of it even though I think she may be kind of cautious. I still haven’t told anybody that I’m going to be her donor. Like Ronnie, I tell them that I had some important business that couldn’t be rescheduled.

“Wow, Christian,” Elliot jibes. “You couldn’t put your business on hold for even a minute to make sure your sister is going to be okay?” I ignore him. I could blow his entire world with three sentences right now…

“Why yes, brother, I did in fact put my business on hold to make sure that my sister is going to be okay. I’m her donor since you are somehow physically unfit to donate your kidney. Why don’t you tell us how that came about?”

That’s not the priority right now, however. Mom has that same question in her eyes as I move next to Mia’s bed.

“Hey, Pest,” I say, taking her hand.

“Hey, Lucifer,” she replies with a smile. She’s scared. I can tell.

“You ready?” I ask, sitting on her bed next to her. She shrugs.

“I really don’t have a choice, do I?” she laments.

“We talked about this,” I remind her. “You’re going to come through this okay, and you’re going to take better care of yourself, right?” She nods quickly.

“Right,” she whispers.

“Aw, isn’t this sweet?” Elliot chimes in. “Hell has officially frozen over. Lady Capulet and Lord Montague are playing nice and all we needed was a life-threatening emergency. Go figure.”

“Elliot, stop being such an asshole,” Mia says without looking over at Mom, which she usually does when she curses. I think we all know that she gets a few “gimmes” today.

“So, look, I really have to get going, but I know you’re gonna knock this thing outta the park. Just give it as much hell as you’ve given me.” She smiles weakly.

“Get better,” I say, trying to make a hasty getaway. She raises sad eyes to me.

“Come on,” she begins. “Admit it. Your life would be a whole lot simpler without me.” Her voice is maudlin with a touch of that sarcasm I know so well.

“Of course, it would,” I reply with a half-smile, “but I don’t want you to die… because it would also be quite boring.” I fight the urge to hug her. I’m sure that I’ll spill my guts if I do. “I gotta go, Pest. I gotta see a man about a dog.”

“Of course, you do,” she says, her sarcasm returning. She drops her head again and I can’t resist. If this doesn’t work out right, I may not see her alive again. I lean down and kiss her on the cheek. She raises surprised eyes to me that quickly soften when we make eye-contact.

Yeah, sis, I may not like you that much, but I do love you.

“What’s your hurry, bro?” Elliot taunts. “What could possibly be more important than your sister’s health?” I turn a hateful glare to him.  I could destroy him in front of everybody right now with the information that the doctor insinuated and come out the hero for giving up a perfectly functioning piece of my body to a woman who obviously hates me… well, hated me, but I don’t do that.

I don’t know how long I stand there glaring at him, but I watch as his expression changes under my cold stare. I don’t have time to play this game with him. I have to go and get checked in myself.

“Nothing,” I nearly growl in response, and I’m about to prove it when you can’t, you asshole. I leave the eerily silent room and, as usual, Elliot has to have the last word. He just wasn’t brave enough to say it in my face.

“Then, why are you leaving?” he yells out of the room. “She could die, you know!” I hear my mother scolding him.

“I’m aware of that, Asswipe,” I say lowly to no one. “That’s what I’m trying to prevent.”

I walk slowly down the hall and press the elevator button to head to admissions, pretending that this isn’t the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

*-*

You get this drunk, hungover feeling without the headache when you wake up from anesthesia. My mouth feels like cotton and my throat stings a bit.

“Mr. Grey, you’re awake,” some nurse says. “That’s good. Let me get some readings from you and the doctor will be in shortly.” I smack my chops trying to create some saliva in my arid mouth.

“Dry mouth?” she asks. I nod. “We’ll get you some water for that.” She marks something on her chart and leaves the room. I look around and see that I’m in what looks like a common recovery room. Well, I don’t like that.

“Sir?” I slowly turn my head and Taylor is walking into the recovery room. “Just checking on you, sir.” I gesture my hand around the room. “They’re going to be moving you to a private room soon, sir.”

Yeah, soon. The last thing I want is for my parents—or heaven forbid—Elliot or Mia to see me in here.

Mia!

My facial expression must have given it away.

“No one knows we’re here, sir,” he says, “so I haven’t been able to get any information on your sister.” I lay my head back on the pillow. I don’t even want to open my mouth.

“Mr. Grey, how do you feel?” The next voice I hear is a large black man in scrubs—our doctor. I open my mouth and point inside.

“You’re hungry?” he asks. “That’s new.” I make a gesture like I’m drinking something.

“Oh, you’re thirsty,” he says. “Well, that’s good. We’ll get you some water.” Like an angel from heaven, the nurse comes back with a picture of ice water and looks at the doctor for approval. He nods and she hands me the small picture.

“Small sips, Mr. Grey,” she says while helping me raise my head. My tongue and throat are saying, “That’s not gonna happen,” but when I get the straw to my mouth, my strength says, “Small sips.”

“Your stats are looking really good, Mr. Grey,” the doctor says. He shines that infernal light in my eyes, and I blink and glare at him. He does a couple of other things to test my reflexes and such. When my throat feels better and my head is slightly clearer, I’m able to form a word.

“Mia,” I say, my voice rough. The doctor looks up at me and raises his brow.

“It looks really good, Mr. Grey,” he says. “She’s tired as you would expect. Her resistance and immune system aren’t as strong as yours with the dialysis, but she’s looking good.”

I nod. The last thing I want is for her to go downhill, especially since part of me is inside her now.

A while later, I’m hungry and cantankerous, and I want to go to a private room. I’m tired of laying in this bed and I want some food. I’m wearing a catheter and I fucking hate it. After enough bellyaching, either they finally got my room ready or the squeaky wheel got the oil.

I’m in a wheelchair and Taylor is rolling me down the hall with the nurse walking close by—not my nurse, but a nurse. The minute we exit the recovery unit, I hear it before I see it. It’s the unmistakable raucous of the press. What the hell are they doing inside the hospital? The moment we round the corner, I see them, a cluster of them trying to get into one of the rooms. I’m only glad the poor bastard in the room ain’t me. I make to hide my face until I see something that causes me to cringe.

“What are you doing here? Get away! This patient has had major surgery and is trying to recover. What’s wrong with you people? How did you even get in here?”

That’s my doctor demanding that these vultures cease and desist. My doctor… Wait a minute! Does that mean…? He turns around and sees me in the wheelchair about 50 feet from him and his brown skin turns white. His expression tells me everything I need to know.

That’s Mia’s room.

And suddenly, I feel no pain… just pure rage.

I’m up out of that chair and storming down the hall before anybody can stop me. The catheter bag is dragging on the floor behind me and I don’t know what disconnected. Somewhere along the way I get my hands on a crutch from God only knows where and bellow at these fuckers as loud as I can… which turns out to be pretty loud for a guy who just gave up a kidney.

“Move the fuck outta my way!”

My voice carries over the clamor of the reporters and they all stop. A nurse rushes down the hall and moves to assist me.

“Get your hands off me!” I demand, and she nearly leaps away from me, startled. “How the fuck did they get in here?” I roar. “This is a goddamn hospital! Why the fuck are they here?”

“I… I don’t know, sir…”

“Get security and the police on the phone and do something!” I turn back to the press. “Get the fuck away from her room or I’ll start swinging crutches and anything I can get my hands on.”

“And we’ll sue you for everything you have, billionaire boy,” one of the reporters says.

“Good luck convincing a judge about a man in the hospital in a gown hours after giving his sister a kidney!” I raise the crutch and they begin to back away, enough for me to get into Mia’s room.

I walk in and there’s a nurse smiling for the cameras over a sleeping Mia.

“You!” I bark, and another nurse nearly jumps out of her skin. I read her badge and commit her name to memory. “I’m going to have your fucking life in the palm of my hands. Kiss your career goodbye!” With the crutch at the ready, I start swinging. Fuck a warning—I’ll blame the meds.

“Get the fuck outta my sister’s room!” I demand. The crutch cuts through the air and the crowd leaps back, Dammit, I missed every one of them. Now, I want blood. I swing again, but these bastards are fast.

“If I see one picture of me or my sister in the press, you will all sorely regret it! I promise you that!” I swing again and connect with a wall. Pain rings through my hand and wrist and shoots up my arm… the bad arm. Fuck, I forgot about that thing.

The crack of the metal crutch against the wall was enough to clear the room, except for the petrified nurse.

“You inconsiderate, hateful, selfish, heartless bitch!” I seethe. She takes a step back as I walk toward her. “How could you? How could you violate her privacy that way? She’s unconscious! Totally indisposed! What the fuck is wrong with you?” I’m angrily pointing at Mia to illustrate her helpless condition and when I throw a glance at her, she’s looking at me. I’m shocked to see her eyes open.

“Mia?” I squeak, caught off guard by her gazing at me.

“Chr… Christian…” she says weakly. “Wh… what are you… doing here?”

That’s right. She doesn’t know that I’m the one who gave her the kidney.

“I…” As soon as I try to formulate the words, something happens. My head gets fuzzy and starts to spin and I feel weakness in my body. I think I say something, I don’t know, but suddenly, all I see is darkness.

*-*

When I open my eyes, my head feels like lead. I can feel that irritating oxygen tube in my nose and I can’t move a muscle. My body weighs a ton. I’m trying to focus—it looks like I’m in a different room—more machines, more IV bags, more fucking tubes. Whatever happened, I ain’t gettin’ up no time soon.

I turn my head and try to focus on the form sitting next to my bed, but I can’t make it out for shit. Nobody but Taylor should know that I’m here, so maybe it’s a nurse.

Shit!

Mia knows I’m here now. She probably knows that I’m the one who gave her a kidney. So, there’s no telling who this is by my bed. I try to focus my eyes a little more, but it’s hard as hell. I can tell by the fuzziness that they’ve got me on some drugs. I fight harder to focus, and the blob begins to take form. These must be some really good drugs because that woman looks like Golden.

This is so unfair. When I’m at my weakest and can’t clear my mind enough to fend off thoughts of her, she haunts me in my drug-induced haze.

“Go away,” I manage. Maybe if I can fully wake up, I can make the apparition disappear.

“What?” Oh, dear Lord, and it speaks, too.

“Go away!” I say again. Haven’t you hurt me enough?

“I hurt you?” it asks. Did I say that aloud? Of course, I didn’t. Hallucinations are all in your head, so of course they can read your mind. I close my eyes and try to make her disappear. “I warned you not to fall in love with me, Chopper.”

Chopper. Fuck. I forgot all about that name.

“And as far as I knew, I didn’t,” I retort weakly, “but I like you enough to be confused. Now go away and stop haunting me.”

“Haunting you?” it asks. “What do you mean haunting you?

Oh, for fuck’s sake! I swat at the apparition, hoping it will dissipate and leave me the hell alone. A manicured hand reaches up and catches my wrist, stopping it cold before it gets anywhere near the apparition.

The apparition… what the fuck?

I glare at the hand, then into the face of one very angry madam.

Oh, hell, the haze is clearing up now!

I have no idea what expression is on my face, but whatever it is, hers morphs from anger to sheer confusion to questioning uncertainty. I, on the other hand, haven’t cleared the haze enough to know where or when I am, but I know one damn thing for sure.

“Mi… Mistress??”

7bd497e296c232ffba49c6bffa0997f6-briana-evigan-beautiful-things

GOLDEN

So, from what I can see, Linc is the primary suspect in his wife’s murder and the prosecutor’s office is looking for an indictment. This is a high-profile case, and they’re pressed to solve it.

The coroner’s report was gruesome. Elena died from blunt force trauma. The thing is… she didn’t just get cracked over the head and die. Somebody beat the hell out of her—brutally. The medical examiner is a friend of mine from college, and she gave me all the gory details.

Blondie was beaten and kicked and strangled mercilessly. Her body was bludgeoned so badly from head to toe that some of the strikes actually broke the skin on her body. Her face was so swollen that she was nearly unrecognizable. Although she was identified at the crime scene, her identity had to be officially confirmed by fingerprints and dental records.

After all of that, she took 15 blows and kicks directly to her head. That’s what killed her. The bleach was a means to clean the body of DNA and evidence. So far, it’s been pretty effective. However, since they discovered that Linc had motive, they’ve been on his ass, combing his financials, tracing his every step to pin it on him. His passport has been revoked—not seized, revoked. He can’t even go to Canada or Mexico. He even tried to move back into his house, but the police have it sealed off as a crime scene… even after all these months.

I really hope he did it—not because I’m that macabre or because I want to see him go down, but because they’re combing the very hairs in his asshole to find evidence against him. If they find out that he’s guilty, then he deserves it. If they don’t find anything or it turns out that someone else did it, he’ll be the victim of the biggest and worst persecution campaign I’ve ever seen in my life.

While spending the holiday with my father’s family—my family—I discovered that Reynard approached them first. I knew he had approached Richard, but I didn’t know he had approached the entire family. He displayed about the same amount of grace, poise, and tact with them as he did with me. Except for that empty shit he said leaving my house, he hasn’t made any real threats. Nonetheless, even though the Blondie threat is no longer an issue, I still keep Jesse around.

I come home one day after another big win and a heavy fee being transferred to my account to Blake preparing a delicious dinner.

“Well, this is wonderful,” I say.

“I’m sure you closed Hamilton and Ryers successfully, Mistress,” he says matter-of-factly.

“I did,” I say, trying to see what he’s preparing.

“Make yourself at home, Mistress. I will set the table.”

I change into jeans and a sweater and I return to the dining room. We have a delicious meal of gazpacho with pa amb tomàquet, paella, empanadas, and homemade churros for dessert. He tells me about his day while we eat, that his whore ex-wife has finally sold the house to a nice family, which means that the home will be used as it was intended at last. I tell him about the cocky male corporate lawyers who underestimated me once again. We’re toasting to my success when he rolls his eyes and reaches for his phone.

“I apologize, Mistress,” he says. “It’s incessant.” I try not to be irritated as he pulls out the phone and looks at it. He frowns, looks at me, then back at his phone.

“What?” I say.

“It’s nothing, Mistress,” he says, and puts his phone on the table. He begins to clear the dishes from the table, and his phone buzzes again… and again… and again.

“Blake, what is it?” I ask again.

“It’s nothing,” he says, putting his phone back in his pocket without looking at it.

“It’s clearly something. Your phone is buzzing like a ticking timebomb, now what is it?” His expression is a combination of melancholy, regretful, and angry… which is some fucking combination.

“What do you hear of Christian Grey these days?” he asks, and I’m totally taken aback to the degree that I jerk like someone just hit me.

“Are you telling me that your phone is going batshit because of Christian Grey?” I ask, nearly in horror. Blake doesn’t respond. “Who in the fuck is texting you like a goddamn crackhead over Christian Grey?” I ask sincerely irritated.

“They’re not texts, Mistress,” he confesses. “They’re more like… notifications.”

Notifications? What the… Never mind.

“I hear nothing of Christian Grey these days,” I say, pretending that I’m not fucking dying to know what those damn notifications are all about. “And I really don’t want to,” I add for effect.

“Mistress,” he sighs, “there’s something you should know.”

“What?” I ask, impatiently.

“It’s about Mr. Grey.” I roll my eyes.

“Look,” I begin. “I thought we had this conversation. Trey is no more. He doesn’t exist to me and I really don’t want to hear about him. What is your obsession with this man?”

“Permission to speak frankly, Mistress,” Blake says coolly.

“Not if you’re going to disrespect me,” I retort.

“I would never do that, Mistress, but I am going to say something that you may not want to hear.” I cross my arms. Fine, fire away.

“Permission granted,” I say firmly.

“He does exist,” Blake says. “He’s a walking, breathing person right here in the county where you live. He has affected you and although you may deny his existence, he’s alive and kicking and still on this side of eternity. He has permeated that shell that you’ve erected for everyone else that doesn’t work with me. I know you care for him and that he has affected you and you think of him often because you’ve changed—not enough for anyone else to see, but enough for me.”

I’ve changed alright. I’ve changed back to who and what I was before I met Trey—to that sadistic, hedonistic goddess that has my clients clamoring for me. There’s not a damn thing wrong with that.

“Are you finished?” I shoot.

“Not quite,” he says softly. “You’re right. I am obsessed with Christian Grey—the same way that I’m obsessed with Caldwell Lincoln, Reynard Stamper, Kevin Sheardon, and the same way that I was obsessed with the late Richard Steele and Elena Lincoln. I’m obsessed with these people only to the degree that they affect you. And he affects you, so I just keep tabs on him from time to time.”

“Well, there’s no need,” I say flatly. “I’m fully aware of Christian Grey’s new love interest and it doesn’t affect me,” I say with more conviction than I feel.

“Well, that’s good to hear, but you may be interested in knowing that he’s not with his new love interest anymore. The relationship didn’t last three weeks. They’re good friends now, but not lovers.”

Are you kidding? I don’t talk to the man for months and he hooks up with someone for three weeks—three fucking weeks—and I see them during that damn three weeks? That shit knocked me completely off my square, made me totally doubt everything I was and everything I felt, and they weren’t together for three fucking weeks. This is why I don’t get attached. That shit is too damn messy.

“Well, I’m sorry for him that his relationship didn’t work out. This has nothing to do with me, and I’m weary of this conversation.” I turn to leave.

“One more thing before we conclude… please, Mistress.” I roll my eyes and turn back to my errant submissive. If it were the nature of our relationship, I would chain him to the ceiling and lash him until he wept.

“Yes?” I seethe.

“Are you at all familiar with the term nephrectomy?” I frown.

“No,” I reply, waiting for him to get to the point.

“It’s the procedure where one of your kidneys is removed.” My eyes widen.

“What?” I say just above a whisper. “Are you trying to tell me that Christian has renal failure?”

“No, but his sister does, so he donated one of his kidneys to her.” He pauses. “I’m still a little gray on the details—no pun intended—but something happened, and he’s had some complications. He’s not doing well.”

I suddenly feel my throat constrict. Something’s happening in my chest and I feel a bit lightheaded. My arms fall to my side as I attempt to appear unaffected.

“What hospital is he in?” I ask.

“Seattle General,” Blake informs me. I take a deep breath and purse my lips.

“Send some flowers,” I say before turning and leaving the room.

“Yes, Mistress,” I hear from the room I just left. I ascend the stairs, go into my bedroom and close my door. I almost can’t breathe. Christian is in the hospital, he’s short one kidney, and he’s having complications. What kind of complications? Why didn’t I ask that question before I left the room? What if he doesn’t make it? Will I be okay? I said that he didn’t exist to me, but is that what I really want? What if he really didn’t make it? What if he dies?

What was that you said about not getting attached?

I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and grab my car keys.

*-*

“He hasn’t had any visitors,” the nurse says. She didn’t want to give me any information, but I effectively convinced her that I’m close friends with him and just wanted to make sure that he was okay. “He didn’t list anyone as next of kin except his bodyguard, Jason Taylor. His sister didn’t even know that he gave her a kidney until the anesthesia wore off and she’s been in no condition to come and see him, so…” She trails off. Even though she didn’t give me everything, she may have still given me too much information.

“I’ll make sure that his family knows,” I tell her. She raises a brow at me.

“You’re associated with the family?” she asks. I nod.

“I know his father very well,” I tell her. “We’re colleagues.” She looks at me skeptically.

“The judge?” she questions.

“Yes,” I say, reaching into my purse and giving her a business card. “Like I said, we’re colleagues.” Her expression softens as she reads my business card.

“Oh,” she says. I’m startled by a somewhat familiar voice down the hall.

“Ms. Olivet?” I turn to see that a confused Taylor is coming down the hall with two coffees in his hand. I turn to the nurse.

“Thank you,” I say with a nod.

“You’re welcome,” she says softly. I walk towards Taylor.

“How is he?” I ask when I close the space between us. At first, he doesn’t answer. “Taylor? How is he?”

“He…” he begins. Then he breezes past me to a door where another guy is standing. He hands him one of the coffees, then peeks into the room. Expressionless, he comes back over to me and gestures me to a community waiting area.

“Have you seen him?” he asks.

“No,” I reply. “What’s happening? I know that he gave a kidney to his sister.” He looks at me in surprise. This must have been the world’s best kept secret if his family didn’t know—not even the sister who received the kidney. Taylor is looking at me now no doubt wondering how I found out. Don’t look at me; I’m trying to figure out how Blake found out.

“Taylor, please tell me before my imagination starts running away with me,” I beg, trying not to sound too desperate.

“He had some trauma only hours after he left surgery,” he begins. “Right before they were to remove the catheter, he discovered that the press was in his sister’s room. An unscrupulous guard apparently colluded with an equally unscrupulous nurse and… the rest is history. Mr. Grey physically kicked them out of Mia’s room and collapsed shortly thereafter. Apparently, once his adrenaline dropped, he succumbed to his condition. There was some tearing, some internal bleeding, something about a fistula or something… They had to take him back to surgery. He… he’s been out for three days. He’s not comatose, but he should be awake by now.”

“And you haven’t called his family, Taylor?” I scold. “Really?” He avoids my gaze. “I know Carrick Grey,” I tell him, and his eyes rise to mine.

“For God’s sake, Taylor, he may not wake up! If you don’t tell his family what’s going on with him, goddammit, I will. And I think they would rather hear this from someone that they’re somewhat familiar with than a total stranger, but if you can’t do it, I guarantee you that I can have Carrick Grey’s home number in twenty minutes.” I sit there folding my arms. He rolls his eyes.

“I’ll call his mother,” he cedes.

“You better,” I warn. “I’ll put my guy on getting that number just in case.”

“I’ll call her,” he says like an errant child, and I believe him. I nod.

“Can I go in and see him… or should I just leave?” He twists his lips and shakes his head.

“I really don’t know,” he says. “He’s… different lately… even before the surgery.” He pulls his phone out of his pocket. “Go,” he says, scrolling through his phone. “Go in before I lose my nerve to make this call.” He puts the phone to his ear, and I walk to the door that I assume is Christian’s. “Ms. Olivet?” I turn back to him.

“If I find myself unemployed, I’ll be knocking at your door for a job.” I have to suppress a smile as he turns back to his call. “Mrs. Grey?… Hello, ma’am, this is Jason Taylor… Yes, Christian’s security…” I leave him to his call and make eye contact with the guy standing at the door before I go inside.

the-tragic-demise-of-mark-sloan-1518199391

I’m not prepared for the sight that greets me. He looks weaker and more helpless than I’ve ever seen him. There’s a tube down his throat helping him breathe and he’s attached to more machines than I’ve ever seen on one person. Jesus, is he dying?

I sit next to his bed and say nothing. What can I say?

Hiya Chopper, remember me? I was your Domme once, but we had sex and it blew my mind. I didn’t know how to handle it or you, so I cut you off, but now that I think you might be dying, I’m back. So, how the hell are ya?

I sit there for several minutes, listening to the rhythm of his heartbeat on the monitor. It’s comforting… somewhat. At least he’s still here.

He’s still here…

“He does exist. He’s a walking, breathing person right here in the county where you live. He has affected you and although you may deny his existence, he’s alive and kicking and still on this side of eternity. He has permeated that shell that you’ve erected for everyone else…”

How do I deal with this? I’m not satisfied anymore with this life. I want… something else. But this? Can I give up who I am for this? Do I want that? Does he even want that?

My thoughts are interrupted by the door opening, followed by the ceremonious entering of what looks like doctors and nurses.

“His numbers look better and his saturation… Who are you?” I stand from my seat.

“I’m… a friend,” I reply.

“Mr. Grey asked not to have any visitors,” the doctor says firmly.

“It’s okay,” Taylor says coming into the room behind the doctors and nurses. “Ms. Olivet, if you’ll come with me, the staff need to do some things for Mr. Grey.” He holds his hand out to me. I look back at Christian and weave through the inquisitive faces with an “excuse me” or two before joining Taylor.

“What’s going on? Can you tell me?” I ask as we walk toward the community area again.

“Well, the good news is that his stats are looking better,” Taylor says, guiding me past the community area and to the elevator. Is he kicking me out? “They want to remove his catheter and his breathing tube.”

I sigh and try to appear unaffected… again. The elevator rings and he gestures for me to get inside. I want to say something like, “Tell him I was here,” or “Don’t tell him I was here.” Instead, I just step inside. To my surprise, he steps inside with me.

What does he think? That I’m going to troll around the hospital or something? He presses the button for the first floor and continues what he was saying.

“The bleeding has stopped from what they can see, but there were some other complications that went way over my head. It was touch and go for a while, but any improvement is better than unconscious for three days.”

The elevator rings on the first floor and he gestures for me to exit. I leave and turn towards the outside doors.

“Wrong way, Ms. Olivet,” he says. When I turn around, he’s standing at the elevator gesturing in the opposite direction. I don’t question. I follow him and he leads me to the cafeteria as he continues to apprise me of Christian’s condition.

“Would you like something?” he asks. “Some food or some juice or coffee?” He gets two more coffees and I frown.

“You guys drink a lot of coffee,” I say. “Didn’t you just bring coffee a couple of minutes ago?” He frowns.

“No, I got coffee for us when you went in to see Mr. Grey,” he says, bemused.

“That’s what I said,” I reply, equally bemused. He pauses.

“Do you know how long you’ve been in there?” he asks. I shrug. I don’t even remember what time I got here. His expression softens.

“Would you like a muffin… or a Danish? Something else?” he asks. “A bagel, maybe?”

“Taylor, how long have I been in that room?” I ask him.

“About three hours,” he says matter-of-factly. “There are salads and sandwiches on the other side, or maybe you’d like something hot?”

What the fuck?!?

“Three hours?” I say horrified. “You gotta be kidding!”

“No, ma’am, and I’m certain that very soon, his parents are going to be here.” I roll my eyes and rub my neck.

Don’t get attached. Yeah, sure.

“Do they have corned beef?”

*-*

“Taylor, how long has he been like that?”

An older, beautiful blonde woman is grilling Taylor about Christian’s condition. She looks terribly worried and I deduce that this must be Christian’s mother.

“About three days, ma’am,” Taylor replies. “He’s doing much better than he was.”

“Much better?” the woman exclaims. “He was worse? He looks like he’s dying!” My sentiments exactly.

“Please, Mrs. Grey, let me take you to talk to the doctor. I’m certain that he’ll put your fears to rest.” Taylor begins to lead Mrs. Grey away just as the elevator rings.

“Grace!” I hear a familiar voice call.

“Cary,” her voice cracks. I drop my head so that my hair falls over my face and watch through my tresses as Carrick Grey opens his arms to accept his wife in a warm embrace. She weeps gently on his shoulder as he rubs her back and comforts her. The inner me rolls my eyes at the display. The outer me can’t help but gaze at them in awe of their love and care for each other and wonder what it must be like to have that. After more than three decades on earth, I’ve never had that.

Judge Grey puts his arm around his wife, and they follow Taylor down the hall. Goddammit, these feelings! I don’t want these fucking feelings! Why the hell can’t they just leave me alone?

It would be so easy to just stand up, go downstairs, walk the hell out of here and don’t look back. So, why can’t I just fucking do it?

“Ms. Olivet?”

Taylor is rousing me from my sleep. My head feels like a rock and there’s a crick in my neck. I fell asleep in the chair in the waiting room.

“What time is it?” I ask.

“It’s just after 2am,” he says. “My replacements are here and I’m about to call it a night. Why don’t you go home and get some rest now?”

I stretch and look around. The staff appears to have changed and there’s no one in the waiting room.

“Are his parents still in there?” I ask. He shakes his head.

“They’ve gone to see Mia. Then, they’re going home for the night.” I nod.

“I’m confused,” I say. “Why didn’t his sister tell his parents what he did and that he was here?” He shakes his head and sighs.

“They’re a strange family, Ms. Olivet,” he replies. “I couldn’t answer that question for you because I don’t know.” I nod again.

“Maybe I’ll just go in and say goodnight,” I say, standing and cracking my stiff joints. Taylor nods and walks with me to the door. He holds it open and I go inside. Christian looks a lot better now. That tube is gone, and he has the small oxygen tube in his nose. He looks like he’s sleeping now as opposed to dead.

I sit in the chair and gaze at him again. He’s such a handsome man. He looks so peaceful, but still very weak and vulnerable. I’m just feeling sympathy for him, that’s all. It’s nothing more than that. I don’t want him to die and I’m concerned about him. That’s all this is…

“Go away…” I hear a frail voice say. I slip out of my daydream and focus on wet, gray eyes groggily gazing at me.

980x“What?” I ask. I’ve been here for hours worrying about your ass, afraid that you were going to die, sleeping in a very uncomfortable waiting-room chair and your first words to me are go away, you ungrateful asshole?

“Go away!” he repeats. “Haven’t you hurt me enough?”

Are you kidding? Is he serious? He knew what this was.

“I hurt you?” I ask incredulously. He doesn’t reply. He just closes his eyes tight, like he’s trying to wish me away. “I warned you not to fall in love with me, Chopper.”

“And as far as I knew, I didn’t, but I like you enough to be confused. Now go away and stop haunting me.” His voice is barely above a whisper.

“Haunting you?” What the fuck? “What do you mean haunting you?

He raises his hand and swats at me like he’s trying to swat away a fly. You disrespectful… I grab his flailing wrist and hold on tight. You better put that thing away. You’re short one vital organ. You want to be short a limb, too?

He stares at my hand grasping his wrist in disbelief, then up at me—and I am pissed. How dare you fucking swing at me, you insolent…

But his face… he’s horrified. It’s like he’s seeing a ghost, or death itself has walked into the room. He’s silent for several moments before he breathes, “Mi… Mistress?”

Oh, shit. How did that happen? Does he regularly talk to manifestations of me? Should I be afraid? Instead, I just sigh and shake my head.

“I’m not your Mistress anymore, Chopper… Trey,” I say, placing his arm gently back on the bed. I only ever really called him Chopper during a scene—maybe a few other times.

“I know… I mean…” His voice is still weak. “What are you doing here?”

“I heard you weren’t well,” I say, crossing my legs and girding up my armor, “or I should say I heard that you weren’t doing well.”

“How did you hear that?” he asks. “Are you having me followed?”

“Don’t flatter yourself,” I reply. “I know people who know people…”

“But no people knew I was in here, so how did you know? My parents don’t even know.”

Somebody knew,” I tell him, “and your parents know now.”

“What?” he shoots, and his monitors spike. I stand and put my hands on his chest.

“You need to calm down,” I tell him. “You became upset and from what I understand, you may have attacked some reporters. You ripped your sutures—inside and out—and you put yourself at risk. A lot of people thought you may not make it. You’ve been out for nearly four days. I know your father—he’s presided over a lot of my cases. I threatened Taylor that if he didn’t call him, I would. Taylor and I both agreed that it would be better that they hear this news from someone that they know as opposed to hearing it from a stranger.”

“Let’s see if he still feels that way when I fire his ass,” he croaks.

“Then, he’ll just come and work for me,” I say, and Christian glares at me. “If I was a mother, I would very much rather come and see my very alive son who may not be doing well than to come to the hospital and identify his remains when I didn’t even know that he was sick, much less that he gave my daughter a kidney.”

“You know too damn much,” he squeaks. You’re right. I do.

“Are you in pain? Do you need any pain meds?”

“Yes, and yes,” he says, laying his head back on the bed. I press the button for the nurse. He tries to adjust himself in the bed, but he can’t move. A few moments later, a petite nurse enters the room.

“Mr. Grey,” she says, her voice bubbly. “Ma’am,” she nods at me and I nod back before she comes to the side of the bed. “You’ve decided to join us. How do you feel?” She looks at his chart and some of the machines.

“In pain… and I’m thirsty,” he croaks. She nods.

“Let me get the doctor and we’ll see what we can get you, okay?” She proceeds to check his pulse and blood pressure, looks at his IV bag and checks some other stats.

“Glad to see you’re awake, Mr. Grey. Your vitals look good and I’ll be right back with the doctor.” She smiles and nods at me again before leaving the room.

Christian and I are completely silent for several minutes. Neither of us knows what to say to each other. When I thought he was dying, I could think of nothing but getting to him, being by his side. Now that I know he’ll be fine, I just want to get the hell away from him—put as much distance between us as possible.

“Mr. Grey, hello. We must stop meeting like this…” The doctor comes into the room and starts talking to Christian, and I take this moment to make my getaway.

“Mi… Go… Ana!” He’s coherent enough to go through all of my names before I make it to the door. He’s still weak and fragile, but his eyes are beseeching. I give him a weak smile.

“I’ll check on you,” I say softly. I turn away and walk out before I lose my nerve and stay. I look at the guard at the door—some guy I don’t know—and he gives me a nod. I turn away and walk to the elevator.

What was the purpose of this exercise? I keep asking myself that question during the entire ride home. I went running to this man’s beside like… like… like he meant something to me. Why the hell did I do that? The minute I saw that he was going to be okay, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. So, why did I go in the first place?

I sit in front of my house for several minutes when I get home. I’m seeing Judge and Mrs. Grey, holding each other warmly in the hospital hallway when they didn’t know what was going on with Christian. It was very tender and loving, and you could tell that they cared for each other very deeply. I don’t want that. I don’t want to be dependent on anybody and I don’t want anybody to be dependent on me… do I? I look at my front door and see Blake there waiting for me to come in. I sigh heavily, open the door and step out of the truck. I close and lock the door behind me and proceed towards the only man in the world who can see right through me.


Image result for eric dane in bed

TREY

I should have known. I don’t know why I was surprised. Day one and day two, I watched that door. I asked Taylor if he had heard anything from her or seen her, or even if she asked if I were dead or alive. Nothing. Nothing at all. Day three, I have a lovely showdown with my family… in a fucking hospital bed.

“Christian,” Mom says, her voice pained, “why didn’t you tell us? They just told us that they had found a donor. They didn’t tell us that it was you.”  I can’t come up with an answer for her.

“I asked you,” she accuses. “You lied to me.”

“I didn’t lie to you, Mom, I avoided the truth,” I defend.

“It’s the same thing, Christian!” she says, fighting back her tears. “I could’ve lost two of my children and I wouldn’t have known until they were gone!” She covers her mouth and turns away. Dad raises his eyes to me.

“This was an incredibly selfless thing that you did, son,” he says, sounding more fatherly than I’ve heard him sound in decades, “and very foolish to do on your own. Your mother needs to know… and I need to know… why?” I sigh and try to rely on divine intervention to give me an answer, but I realize that nothing is going to suffice but the truth.

“I don’t know why Mia hates me,” I begin, “but she does, or at least she did. It can’t just be Harvard. It can’t. There has to be something else. I’ll never find out what that is, but she hated me. If she knew that she was getting my kidney, she might’ve said ‘no’ just to spite me. She would’ve thought I would try to use it to hold over her head, like she would be indebted to me for the rest of her life! And she would’ve said ‘no.’ Then what? She goes back to the end of the list and hopes for another kidney because she turned down a perfectly good one. And then we hope that she finds one before she dies? I couldn’t take that chance. We couldn’t afford for that to happen!”

“Is that what you thought?”

I hear Mia’s voice and look over at the door. She’s sitting in a wheelchair just outside the threshold.

“You thought I hated you so much that I wouldn’t take your kidney?” I sigh. Jesus, she wasn’t supposed to hear that.

“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” I scold.

“No,” she retorts. “I’m doing a hell of a lot better than you because I wasn’t swinging crutches at people three hours after surgery.” Oh, shit, she saw that. “You really thought that, Christian? That I wouldn’t accept your kidney?”

“And once again, the golden boy has to take the spotlight,” Elliot jeers. “You weren’t the only kidney, Mr. Perfect. Did you forget I was a match, too?” God, did he have to use that word? I’m still not 100% sure her visit wasn’t a figment of my imagination.

“Then why didn’t you give your kidney?” I ask. I won’t out him, but if he keeps it up…

“Oh, because billionaire boy beat me to it!” he snaps.

“How was that possible when they tested you first?” I ask. “The doctor told me that I was the perfect match—the perfect choice to save Mia and to extend her life. Now, why would they even need to test me if they had already found a match with you?” Drop it, Elliot.

“Most likely because of his cocaine use,” Dad blurts out. Elliot’s head whips over to Dad and my eyes transform to the size of saucers.

“Dad? Seriously?” Elliot accuses.

“Yes, seriously!” Dad retorts. “I’ve had enough of you walking around here like you’re so goddamn high and mighty. This isn’t about you!”

“Dear God, Elliot! Cocaine?” Mom exclaims horrified. “How long? Never mind! Never mind! I don’t want to know.” Elliot smiles nervously.

“Chill out, Mom,” he says in that slimy voice that he uses to make your skin crawl. “It’s not the end of the world. It’s just a little nose candy.”

“I’m not hearing this!” Mom says, throwing her hands up. “I am not hearing this.” She turns to Dad. “Carrick? You knew?” Dad sighs.

“Unfortunately, I did,” he says to her before turning to me. “How did you know?”

“I didn’t!” I reply, awestruck. “The doctor wouldn’t tell me, but he was adamant that I was Mia’s best chance of survival even though we were both a match.” Elliot is clearly floundering, so instead of walking that plank that he was standing on and taking his medicine like a man, he decides to shoot a hole in the bottom of the boat.

“Well, since we’re telling secrets,” he says with a devious smile, “I suppose you already know that Christian is into that same shit Dad was into.”

You can actually hear the skin ripping as his knife sinks into the bodies of nearly every person in the room and drags down their torsos, spilling fresh blood onto a sterile floor.

“Wha…?” Mom shrieks. Dad and I quickly look at each other and have a silent conversation about what really needs to be said here. Elliot is looking to drag everybody down with him, even if it destroys Mom in the process.

“Christian, is this true?” Mom shrieks. I screw up my courage and spit it out.

“Yes, Mom, it’s true,” I say impassively, “but Mom, you can’t be angry with me. I’m a consenting adult. This was after Juliet—I wasn’t in a committed relationship, so nobody was hurt. I shielded you, the family, and everybody from it, and if it wasn’t for Chicken Little over there, you still wouldn’t know.”

“How did Chicken Little know?” Dad asks.

“I heard the two of you talking,” Elliot says victoriously, and Mom turns her horrified glare to Dad. Oh, great.

“I asked questions, Mom,” I clarify. “It was no secret that he was familiar with the lifestyle and I was curious. I didn’t want to go wandering off into some crazy cult shit… so I asked.”

Mom looks back and forth between me and Dad, not sure which of us to be angry with more, no doubt, but Elliot’s not done yet.

“Yeah, Dad has dirt on everybody. He’s been holding us hostage for years. So, since my secret is out, let’s lay everybody’s dirty laundry on the table. So, what about the Little Princess over there—Little Miss Throw-Everybody-In Judgment? What’s the dirt on Mia?” Elliot says snidely.

“You just saw the dirt on Mia,” Dad hisses without looking at him, then turns to Mom.

“Mia’s been on dialysis for the last seven years. You’d already been through so much we didn’t want to tell you. Of course, it got to the point where we couldn’t keep it a secret anymore.”

Seven years… dear God. Even I didn’t know that. It wasn’t that she wasn’t taking care of herself. It was just that… she was waiting. It was time.

“Secrets,” my mother chokes through her tears. “Secrets and lies! That’s all this family is built on—secrets and lies!” She runs out of the room in tears. Dad sighs mournfully and looks down at Mia.

“Are you okay?” he says softly. She shrugs.

“Yeah,” she says. “I’m glad it’s out. We’ll work on the rest later.” Dad takes her hand and looks over at me. I give him a half shrug to indicate that I’m indifferent about the whole thing, but there are really no hard feelings. He raises angry eyes to Elliot but says nothing. Then he leans down to kiss Mia’s cheek, releases her hand, and leaves the room, most likely to go find Mom. I turn to Elliot.

“Well, congratulations,” he sneers. “You’re the golden boy once again.” And there’s that word. I glare at him.

“You thought I was leaving her hanging for a business trip, and I was shit. You find out that I gave her a goddamn kidney, and I’m still shit.” I just look at him and shake my head.

“Get the fuck outta my room, Elliot,” I say with no emotion. I’m totally done with my brother, and I have nothing else to say on the matter. He gazes at me for a moment, then at Mia who has her back to him and hasn’t raised her head, and wordlessly leaves the room. Mia wheels over to me.

“It’s Harvard, Christian,” she says, placing her hand on the bed on top of mine but still not raising her eyes. “It’s always been Harvard. I resent you… resented you because I didn’t get a chance to go. Everything fell apart between Mom and Dad right after you dropped out, and I didn’t get a chance to go. It was my dream to go to Harvard, and I felt like you took it away from me. I resented you, but I don’t hate you. I never hated you.” She sniffles.

“When I saw you in that room with that crutch, swinging it at strangers and cursing out some nurse with your ass hanging out…” I try not to laugh. That’ll be in somebody’s paper if it’s not already. “… All I could think was, ‘What the hell is he doing here?’ When I finally shook the anesthesia, the doctor told me that you had given me your kidney and that you weren’t doing too well.” Her voice cracks on the last words. I swallow hard.

“You looked so weak every time I came to see you,” she squeaked. “I kept thinking, ‘He gave me the kidney to make up for stealing my chance to go to Harvard.’ I just wanted you to wake up, so I could say ‘thank you’ and ask you why you didn’t want me to know… but when I came in and heard the real reason…” She trails off and begins to weep. I turn my hand over and grasp hers in mine. She’s been crying a lot these days, and I don’t know if I can get used to it. She’s always been outspoken, and she can be a real pill, but I’ve never seen soft Mia.

“I’m sorry,” she sobs. “I’m so sorry. How can I ever make this up to you?” I squeeze her hand.

“By taking care of your body and living a good life… and agreeing to stop all this bickering. I think we’ve both seen that life is too short for this shit.” She nods through her tears.

“And Mia?” She raises her gaze to me.

“You’re smart, you’re resourceful, and you do a good thing. I’m proud of you for chasing the bad guys… but I’m not one of them.” She nods again.

“I know,” she says, still in tears. “I wanted to make you the bad guy, and I found a way through the whole ‘capitalist’ thing, but… I’ve always known.” I nod.

“So… you’ll give your brother a break?”

“This one,” she says, wiping her eyes and I deflate a bit.

“You’re going after Elliot?” I ask, knowing how this will affect our already upset Mom.

“No,” she says. “There’s nothing to go after. I don’t know what he does, and I don’t have the will or energy to chase him down. I’ve always known he was a creep and now—today—I know he’s a drug addict. I don’t see any redeeming qualities and until he shows me some, I have to let that go. Besides,” she strokes my hand gently, “I’ve got some serious bridges to mend on this side of the water.”

I don’t tell her that she never really hurt me; she was just a pain in my ass, but she needs to work through how she’s feeling, and I’ll be there to help her. I’m glad to have my little sister back.

“We’ll get through it,” I say softly, twisting my lips to avoid that twinge in my chest that’s making me feel a bit sappy.

“Christian,” she says just above a whisper, “thank you.” I squeeze her hand again.

“You’re welcome.”

*-*

Day four, Mia is my only visitor, and we spend the entire day together, including meals. Day five, we both get to go home. Elliot is M.I.A. as expected. Mom and Dad come to get Mia and Taylor comes to retrieve me. My mother doesn’t speak to me and that smarts. It’s a double-edged sword along with the cat-and-mouse game that Golden keeps playing with me. I get in the car after hoping—futilely—that my mother would at least acknowledge my presence. And suddenly, I’m weak again. I’m weak and I’m tired and even though I spent a week in bed, I just want to get back in bed again.

“Taylor, I need a little help,” I say when we get back to the penthouse. I feel like all the energy has been sapped out of me just by leaving the hospital and getting in the car.

“Do you need a doctor, sir?” he asks. “Should we go back to the hospital?

“No, the doctor said this might happen…” Sudden drains of energy, feelings of emptiness, loss, and depression. I just have a feeling that this isn’t just from the nephrectomy, that it’s quite possibly more emotional than physical.

“Can you just help me get to bed please?”

I put my arm over his shoulder, and he helps me to the elevator.

I spend the rest of that day as well as the next several in my bed. Mrs. Jones brings me meals and Taylor checks on me regularly. I shower each morning and change my pajamas, just to get back into bed and lay there or watch TV or talk to Mia or Ronnie—who reams me a new one once I tell her what really happened.

I deserved that… and she comes to check on me when she can.

The rest of the time, I think about Mom… and her.

Until day ten… when she shows up at my penthouse. She’s like a ray of sunshine showing up in my room and my spirits suddenly soar.

“I… said I would check on you,” she says almost timidly.

“That was more than a week ago,” I reply. “I could’ve been dead.”

“But you aren’t,” she says.

“What took so long?” I ask, really needing to know why she made me wait for ten days.

“I… I was busy,” she says, and I immediately see her whipping some poor, fortunate soul chained to the ceiling in her dungeon.

Cat-and-mouse. She’s playing with me again.

I told you not to fall for me, Chopper.
I’m not your Mistress anymore, Chopper.

Indeed, you aren’t, and suddenly, I’m weary again.

“I need you to leave,” I say, quietly. She’s silent for several moments.

“What?” she asks.

“You can’t fathom the concept that someone wants you to go away, can you?” I ask, wearily. “I said the same thing to you at the hospital—basically the same thing—when I didn’t know it was actually you sitting there, and your reaction was exactly the same. You said, ‘What,’ like you couldn’t comprehend the words that were coming out of my mouth. So, I’ll say them again so that you’ll know that I’m not under the influence of any drugs. I need you to leave,” I repeat, shaking my head and barely believing that I’m hearing myself say it.

“You play with me,” I continue, “I’m one of your toys. You’re a true sadist—you said it yourself. You win—I’m in agony; I can’t take this anymore. You make me want you, but then you say I can’t have you. Then you go away, but you make me want you again. I can’t get you out of my mind. You’re in my blood. I’m pussy-whipped, and it’s not because you fucked me. I was pussy-whipped long before that. I had dreams about you; I saw you in other women before and after you cut me off. It’s always been you and as far as I know, it’ll probably always be you. Fuck, I almost took a damn bullet for this shit!

“You got what you wanted!” I say with clenched fists. “You broke me down after I swore that another woman wouldn’t do that to me. I’m your ultimate trophy! Or maybe not—maybe I’m just another notch in your belt. But congratulations! You win. You really are a sadist—a divine, magnificent, beautiful, horribly cruel sadist. Whoever fucked you up, you got them back in spades—with me! Now, please, just leave before I make a bigger fool of myself than I already have.”

I grit my teeth to keep from saying what I really want to say; to keep from begging her to stay with me if only for tonight. I can’t take this anymore. My emotions are way more involved than I ever intended and it’s just too damn much.

“Christian…”

“For God’s sake, just go!” I yell. Her soft, concerned voice is like nails on the chalkboard of my soul—literally. And hearing her say my name smarts even more.

“Please, just go, Ana,” I say softly. “Just go…” I shut her down. I can’t hear her anymore. I don’t know how long I sit there in my bed with my head down, but the next voice I hear…

“Can I get you something, sir?” Taylor says. “Or I can have Mrs. Jones make something for you…” I sigh heavily.

“Something to drink, please,” I say, my voice barely audible. “Maybe some soup, too. My throat hurts.”


A/N: This was one of the chapters that I wrote near the middle of the book when I decided how to expand on the family dynamic. It was very hard to write.

We’re really closing in on the finale. So, remembering the warnings I’ve been spouting all through the story, any predictions at this point on how the story will end?

Will it be a “Your girl is lovely, Hubbell” ending like in The Way We Were?

Will it be the moment when Sayuri finally wins the affections of the Chairman in Memoirs of a Geisha?

Or will it be some calm (or wild) variance in between—The Secretary? Wild Orchid? The Story of O?

Two more chapters to find out…

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


Fifty Shades Golden: Chapter 25

There are three more chapters after this one.

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

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

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

CHAPTER 25

Trey Chapter 25

TREY

It’s Valentine’s Day…

And where I wish I were spending it with Ronnie, as a friend of course, she’s got a new beau in her life. It’s some guy that she met from one of the dating sites and this is their first date. She promises to give me all the details at our next lunch—whether he’s a dud or a stud—and I…

Well, I’m at the club taking advantage of one of the many single submissives available this evening. Tonight, it’s a gorgeous fucking redhead with an Olympic ass. I plan to oil that thing down and fuck her blind. No exhibition room for me tonight—I don’t want the distraction. I just want to fuck.

I begin the night with her squatting in front of me, my hands pinning her up-stretched arms against the wall by her wrists. I’m standing in front of her, deeply and slowly fucking her mouth and throat. Her safeword is to look up at me and blink, especially since her mouth is full and I’m almost drooling looking down at her lips wrapped around my cock while it’s disappearing into her mouth and throat. She doesn’t safeword, though. She can take it and take it she does. She’s so fucking talented that when she licks my balls with my dick still in her throat, I give her the first of many seminal salutes right down her goddamn throat.

Next, she’s in stocks with a spreader bar on her ankles, her stilettos causing her ass to toot straight up in the air, and my dick is jutting angrily right in her direction. She’s helpless and she can’t move, and I want to fuck—and fuck and fuck and fuck. I don’t care if she comes. I’m going to fuck her until I get Golden out of my head… at least for the night.

Her pussy is dripping wet in anticipation of my cock, and I’m going to give it to her, hard and deep, but first…

I oil that ass so that it’s nice and shiny, then lube her asshole thoroughly and retrieve the large glass butt plug. With no preparation, I shove it into her ass to the hilt. She gasps and her leg trembles. She likes it rough. She better, because there will be nothing tender about tonight’s fucking.

I position my head at her opening, grab her hips, and shove my cock in hard. She cries out in a high-pitched squeal. Fuck, that’s tight! And wet! And fucking hot as a goddamn sauna.

I don’t make a sound. I just concentrate on my dick—pulling it out and shoving it back in hard, deep, hot… fuck! God, it’s so fucking good. I pull out and slam into her again… and again… and again… the fucking pleasure shooting all the way to my goddamn feet. It’s hard to keep quiet, but I do, so I can pay attention to my throbbing, burning cock buried inside this eager, hot pussy.

I look down at her ass, swallowing that butt plug and rising and falling with each stroke. That shit is erotic as fuck. I grab the bottom of her ass cheeks and lift and spread, revealing my dick all wet and shiny, veiny and coated with her juices, the skin of her pussy wrapping around it and pulling as I pull out from her and resisting as I push back inside. Fuck, the sight is almost better than the feeling… which makes the feeling burn hotter.

I grit my teeth and stifle a groan as I plunge into her—deeper and harder with each stroke. I feel her start to tremor inside and my cock hardens. I throw my head back and thrust deeper and deeper, again, again, again…

I want to pull out when I feel her orgasm beginning, make her suffer, but I can’t. When she tightens around me, I look down at her ass and the butt plug is pulsing with her, every throb causing it to move. Her orgasm is so massive that although I hear her whimpering, I can only feel her pulling my dick deeper and deeper inside of her quaking pussy. I open my mouth and cum, violently, massively, and silently—the ejaculation causing my knees to buckle and my thighs to tighten. My tongue hangs far and hard out of my mouth in silent ecstasy and I’m dizzy when I’ve finally finished.

I grit my teeth and catch my breath as my cock pulses inside of her, my orgasm finally waning. I take a moment or three to get my bearings, my cock sliding out of her and my cum dripping on the floor from her open legs. That shit causes a twitch and I know I’ll be ready again in no time.

The butt plug’s gotta go, because that ass is next.

As my aching cock is getting a little air, she’s panting and still recovering from her climax. I put the spanking horse underneath her, because that body has to stay still for this ass fuck. Once she’s positioned on the spanking horse, I release her from the spreader bar. That asshole is puckering and pulsing and begging for my cock. Who am I to deny it?

I breach her rosette with the head of my cock and it slides in easily. I go further and further until I reach some resistance and she gasps. Then I take it slower until she takes all of my dick and then I thrust harder… and harder… and harder. She groans.

“Quiet!” I order, and she’s immediately silent.

Completely immobilized, she takes every deep thrust, her oily ass swallowing my cock over and over again. The site is fucking delicious. This is a perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day.

I grab her hips and slam her ass against my pelvis every time I thrust, her cheeks bouncing and wobbling from the impact and making that satisfying noise each time we make contact…

Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap!

My cock is burning from the tight friction and the vision is causing my balls to tighten. She whimpers with each thrust and I grab the frame of the stocks to get more leverage.

Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap!

Faster and harder I go, chasing this intense tightening in and below my balls. She cries a shrill cry and unless she was tightening her Kegels and had an orgasm in her pussy, she’s riding through an anal orgasm. No matter, because that ass is tightening either way.

Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap!

Thwap!

What the fuck!

I get a sting in my back that causes me to drive hard and fast into this nameless redhead with the big ass. She’s back! She’s fucking back! I’ve been trying to exorcise this shit for months. I even have a failed fucking relationship to chalk up to this shit and she’s still fucking here.

Thwap!

“Aahhh!” I cry out involuntarily, the sting going straight to my dick and causing it to swell and thicken. Still holding on to the stocks, I’m fucking her hard while I drill and grind into her ass, and in my lust and pleasure-filled haze, her flaxen red hair turns brown and whimpers are replaced with a voice more familiar.

Trey… fuck me, Trey…

Thwap!

I’m sweating like a racehorse, pounding like a jackhammer and a few moments later…

Thwap!

“Fuuuuuuuck!” I grunt in agony as the dam bursts and I’m spraying uncontrollably into her ass. My dick is thumping painfully inside her and I’m momentarily blinded by the dizzying pleasure. I don’t know what to do except stand here as the pain in my balls intensifies from the incredibly, indescribably powerful orgasm ripping through my body right now. I’m stiff and shaking at the same time as I dare to whisper her name…

“Ana…”

*-*

I’m awakened from an intensely deep sleep by my phone buzzing on the nightstand. It’s 3am. I came home and fell into an orgasm-induced sleep, angry that thoughts of Golden/Ana still haunt me during intense orgasms. I can’t seem to separate the pleasure and the pain. My first thought is that Ronnie’s date took a terrible turn and she needs me to come and get her, but when I clear the dust from my sleepy eyes…

“Mom?” I answer in a crackly sleepy voice.

“Christian…” She’s crying. What’s wrong?

“Mom, what is it?” I ask. “Is it Dad?”

“No… No… It’s… your sister,” Mom weeps into the phone, “she’s… not doing well.” I feel the blood rushing from my face.

“What do you mean she’s not doing well, Mom?” I ask. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

“Mia’s… Mia’s kidneys are shutting down,” she says.

“What?” I whisper.

“It happened so fast,” she breathes. “She was on dialysis for a short while, but then… out of nowhere…” My mother breaks down into sobs.

This doesn’t happen out of nowhere. Not this. Mia either didn’t know what was going on with her body or she didn’t care, and now my Mom is crying her eyes out, afraid that she’s about to lose her daughter. Was this what Dad was talking about months ago? What’s with the cryptic shit he was saying? Why didn’t he just come straight out and tell me what was going on?

“Where are you?” I ask.

“Se… Seattle Gen,” she chokes out.

“I’m on my way, Mom,” I say, unsuccessfully attempting to mask my anger.

I blindly slide into the first clothes I get my hands on. For all I know, I could be wearing red pants, a purple shirt, and green sneakers. I text Taylor that I’m going to Seattle Gen to see about Mia and rush down to the car. I think I get it in gear and moving before I even get the door closed.

I’m talking aloud to no one the entire way wondering what the hell happened to my sister. Our fights have been some real doozies, but nothing ever bad enough that I would wish something like this on her… and I’ve got a few choice fucking words for my father when I see him, too.

My mother runs to my arms the minute I enter the waiting room for the Intensive Care Unit. I throw a hateful glare over her shoulder at my father as she cries in my chest.

“Mom, tell me what’s going on,” I say.

“I’m not totally sure,” she says, weeping bitterly. “She told me that she was going to have some simple procedure done. I knew something was wrong when I saw the shunt…”

The shunt? I never saw a shunt. Where was the damn thing?

“I asked her about it, and she confessed that she had been on dialysis for a few weeks or a few months, I don’t remember which, but she assured me that everything was okay—that they were only doing dialysis to help strengthen her kidneys…”

They generally don’t do dialysis to strengthen your kidneys that I know of. They do dialysis when your kidneys are starting to fail. I look up at my father again and I can tell by his expression that there’s more. He’s got that “Don’t say anything or we’re all toast” look on his face.

“Her creatinine levels are crazy, and none of this sounds right to me—none of it does,” Mom weeps. “Mia has given strict instructions that we only get limited information on her condition and I don’t know what to do right now.”

“How did she end up here?” I ask. “Was she here for dialysis and they just kept her?”

“She was out with friends and she passed out,” Dad says. “She has a medic alert bracelet and they brought her here.” I shake my head.

“Mom you need to calm down,” I tell her. “I know you’re upset, but we should find out what’s going on before we think the absolute worst…”

“This is the absolute worst!” she shrieks. “My baby girl is sick! She’s been on dialysis and I didn’t know! I don’t know what’s going to happen to her! This is the worst!” she sobs.

I hold her for several moments until she calms, my thoughts going in a million different directions. I have to go talk to Mia, and…

“Where’s Elliot?” I ask.

“I left him a message, but he hasn’t responded,” Dad says. I twist my lips. Do you really expect him to respond to you?

“Mom, have you tried to call him?” I ask.

“No,” she says, her voice weary.

“Can I see your phone?” I ask. She doesn’t question. She just gives me her phone. I kiss her forehead and walk into the hallway and head to the nurses station.

“Where is Mia Grey’s room?” I ask.

“Room 517, down the hall, third room on your left.” I nod my “Thank you’s” and leave. I scroll through the contacts on Mom’s phone as I head to Mia’s room and swipe the screen when I get to Elliot’s number.

“Hey, Mom,” he answers sleepily.

“You’ve taken to not checking your messages, Asswipe?” I say.

“Wha…? Christian?” he says groggily. “Why are you calling from Mom’s phone?”

“Your sister’s in the hospital and she’s doing pretty fucking bad, so you need to get your ass in gear.”

“Who…? What…?” he says.

“You heard me. Get your ass to Seattle Gen, now!” I disconnect the call.

I look in the window of room 517 and see Mia sitting up in the bed. She doesn’t look good at all. Her skin looks a mix of grayish-yellow. I quietly open the door and slowly enter the room.

“Oh, great, this is just what I need,” she says when she sees me, “the angel of sunshine.”

I don’t respond to her sarcasm. Instead, I walk over to the chair on the side of her bed and sit down. At first, I don’t say anything. I look down at my hands for a minute or two, trying to find my words, occasionally looking back up at her to make sure she’s still alive. At minute three, I finally find the words that I want to say.

“You’re dying, Mia,” I say finitely. “Tell me what’s going on.”

“I’m not dying, Dr. Grey,” she shoots back. “My levels are just off.”

“You’re in intensive care, Mia. You levels are not off!

“Don’t try to tell me about my illness!” she hisses. “I’ve been living with this my whole life! I know what’s going on!”

“Then give it to me straight!” I retort sharply. She’s silent for a moment, so I softly add, “Please.”

I don’t know what that one soft Christian moment does for her, but she totally crumbles and begins to cry.

“I need a kidney,” she weeps. “I won’t make it if I don’t get one.” Her shoulders are shaking with genuine sobs. I can’t watch her like this. Whatever our differences, I can’t watch her like this.

I stand and sit on the edge of her bed. I embrace her and let her cry in my arms. She’s scared and I can see that she is. She cries for quite some time as I hold her and rub her back.

“How long?” I say when she finally starts to calm.

“I’ve been on dialysis for years,” she says. “That’s all you get.”

Years? Fucking years? Mom thinks it’s only been a couple of months or something.

“Mia why didn’t you say anything?” I chide gently. “This is very serious stuff.”

“I told Dad,” she says, “when I first started dialysis.” I stiffen.

“Dad knows?” I ask.

“I had to tell one of them,” she says. “I couldn’t tell Mom. She had already been through too much. I regretted telling him from the very beginning. He held it over my head like a juicy piece of gossip.”

So, this is the big juice Dad had on Mia. That’s pretty fucking cruel.

“Jesus, Mia,” I say feeling somewhat helpless. “You need a kidney. How long have you known?”

“About a year,” she says. “I thought I would have one by now. I was doing everything the doctor told me to, to the letter—taking my meds, never missed dialysis. I don’t know what went wrong. My GFR is out of whack, all of my levels are crazy…”

“That’s because dialysis is a temporary fix, even if you can do it for years. It’s not a long term or permanent solution, Mia.” She nods and wipes her nose.

“I know,” she says, her voice shaking, “I was trying to buy some time.” I shake my head and squeeze her hand.

“It’s going to be okay, pest,” I say. “We’re going to find a kidney for you, okay?” She raises wide eyes at me. “And it won’t come from any of my underground connections that’ll snatch some poor sucker off the corner that’ll miraculously be a match.” She wipes her nose again and rolls her eyes.

“I deserved that,” she says wearily.

“Yes, you did,” I say, kissing her on the cheek. “I’m going to give Mom back her phone, and you need to get some rest.” She wearily nods and snuggles down into her pillow. I pull her covers over her shoulder like I did before we became mortal enemies… well, not mortal enemies.

I leave her room quietly and close the door. Who’s standing off to the side but dear old fucking Dad.

“You. Are a real fucking piece of work,” I hiss shamelessly at him. He has the nerve to look affronted.

“Don’t blame me,” he chides. “I told you…”

When did you tell me?” I bark, trying to keep my voice low. “You told me no such damn thing! You told me that she was having episodes!”

“I told you in that conversation when you asked me what her doctor said,” he replies. I take a moment to recall the conversation. What did he say…?

What does her doctor say?
The same thing he’s been saying…

I look at my father with disdain.

“You’re a real fucking asshole, you know that?” I say calmly.

“If you had been speaking to your sister…”

“I. Asked. You!” I hiss. “I asked you outright was she dying; what did the doctor say; I asked you, plain and simple, and you did that same game-playing sneaky, sheisty shit you always do. You know damn well you made it seem like nothing was seriously wrong. ‘The same thing he’s been saying,’” I say in a mocking voice.

He makes to respond, but I’ve heard enough. I have no idea why, but my mother loves him. That’s the only reason that I won’t deck him right now.

“I know somebody like you,” I say, thinking of my golden tormentor, the ache still fresh after all these months. “They get off on other people’s pain, on watching them squirm. You know the type, don’t you, Dad?” I add, glaring at him and he glares right back. I know he was a Dominant in the lifestyle, but was he a sadist? I never asked.

“You lost the love of your life once because of your selfishness and shadiness,” I warn calmly. “Keep it up, Dad, and you’re going to lose everything you hold dear.”

I stare him down for a moment to see if he has any shots that he wants to add—this’ll be his last chance. When he has none, I go in search of a doctor or nurse.

“Excuse me,” I say, capturing the first one that I see in the hallway. “You have a patient here that needs a kidney. How do I find out about possibly becoming a donor?”

*-*

I call Daisy Evans during business hours. She’s the living donor coordinator on staff as well as the main coordinator at the transplant coordination center. I tell her that I don’t want my identity revealed yet. I’ll decide if I want to do that once we find out if I’m a match for Mia. She takes the time to get me registered with UNOS—The United Network for Organ Sharing—and then she starts the process of seeing if I’m a viable donor. There’s so much information I need to know about this process:

Mia has a 5-15% chance of dying each year she’s on dialysis. I know that she’s been on there for longer than she’s telling us. I just don’t know how much longer.

It’s a fairly simple surgery to remove the kidney as most of it is done through a laparoscope. Mia’s part is going to be more difficult.

My recovery, should I be a match, will also be pretty simple—a 2 to 3-day recovery in the hospital followed by a 6-week recovery at home, then life is back to normal.

There’s a whole lot more shit to know and learn, but Daisy tells me that I’ll have plenty of time to get and review all the information I need before the procedure. That doesn’t make me feel good since I know that my sister is pretty much on borrowed time.

The next few weeks are kind of crazy. I start with a questionnaire that’s about a hundred questions long. Then, there’s the blood test, the urine test, the ultrasound, a psychological evaluation, a financial evaluation, an overall health evaluation… My head is spinning by the time I’m done with all these fucking evaluations! The entire time, I’m worrying if my sister’s going to die by the time I find out if I’m a good match for her.

I would go by the hospital to see her at least twice a week. Then when she moved back home with Mom and Dad, my visits changed to once a week. I know that Elliot and I are both being tested since Mom and Dad have already been tested and are, crazily, not compatible to give her a kidney. After sitting on pins and needles for weeks, I’m finally called into the transplant coordination center one day to talk to Daisy Evans.

“Mr. Grey, I want to start by saying that I have some good news for you,” she says. “You and your brother are both ABO and crossmatch compatible. You’re both ideal matches to donate a kidney to your sister.” Well, this is good news.

“There’s a but,” I say.

“Your brother’s health and… extra-curricular activities would most likely exclude him from being permitted to give her a kidney.” I frown.

“Wait, are you telling me that my brother is going to need a kidney soon, too?” I ask horrified. I only have two kidneys!

“I’m not saying that,” she says. “I am, however, strongly suggesting that you be the one to donate the kidney. Mia is a very young woman and she has a better chance of survival and extended life with one of your kidneys than she would with one of Elliot Grey’s. That’s all I can say without breaking the law and I’ve already insinuated more than I should.”

So, basically something is wrong with Elliot or he’s done something to his body or kidneys that makes him less than ideal. If he were sick, we’d be having a different conversation. So, my guess is recreational drugs or alcohol. Obviously, if I want my sister to live, I’m going to have to be the one to give her the kidney. She’s a real pain in my ass, but I don’t want her to die.

“Remember when I requested to remain anonymous?” I ask.

“Yes,” she says.

“I need it to stay that way,” I say. “No one can know that it’s me, not even my parents until I’m ready.” She frowns.

“That’s highly unusual,” she says. “This is your sister…”

“You do deceased donors all the time,” I point out, “and the person on the table or their family doesn’t know whose kidney, heart, or liver they’re getting. They just know that they or their loved one is getting a second chance at life. The donation has to be anonymous.” She sighs.

“This affects your support system,” she says.

“You’ve seen my evaluation,” I counter. “You know that I have a very capable support system outside of my family.” She nods.

“As you wish, Mr. Grey,” she says.

“So, what do we do next, doc?” I ask.

So, after all this time, it turns out that my evaluations are still not over. I now have to meet with everyone who will possibly be touching my body, including the coordinator, who won’t be touching my body—the nephrologist, the surgeon, another social worker, and the anesthesiologist—severally and collectively, and the entire time, they’re reminding me that I have the option not to do this.

“I have a question,” I say. “How many people have gone through this entire process and then decided—right at this point—that they don’t want to do it?” The social worker sits back in her seat.

“Um, maybe about five to eight percent,” she says.

“Do you want to know why?” I ask, “Why that five to eight percent change their minds?”

I have a captive audience now.

“Because when this process started, I was given a detailed evaluation. I was asked every question on that thing down to if I rode a horse when I was three years old. I gave you samples of everything in my body except my kidneys—and I’m sure I’ve somehow given you that, too—to show that I’m capable of donating a kidney. I’ve been instructed to do my own research, which I have done. I’ve talked ad nauseum with the transplant coordinator for months. I’ve done everything short of cut my side open, rip out my own kidney and hand it to you to prove that want to give this kidney to my sister.

“When I’ve finally passed the physical, psychological, and financial testing for this process, I’m finally able to meet the actual team that’s going to be doing the process, which from what I understand is a couple of tiny cuts, a few snips, a larger cut and sloop! It’s out.”

The coordinator and the nephrologist both jump when I say, “sloop,” which is an indication that the kidney is being slid out through this two-inch incision at my “bikini line.”

“I’ve read up on and been repeatedly informed of the recovery time, the possible risks, and the restrictions. I could have changed my mind anytime during this grueling process, but I get to this point and I have five people constantly informing me, ‘You don’t have to do this,’ ‘You know you don’t have to do this,’ ‘You can change your mind at any time,’ ‘You haven’t been coerced into doing this, have you?’ ‘You can walk away at any time.’

“You know what that does—having it repeatedly hammered into your head that you don’t have to do this? It makes the listener feel like either one or more of you is not confident in their abilities or that there’s something you’re not telling us.”

“That’s not the case at all, Mr. Grey,” Daisy says. “We just want to make sure that the person that is about to make this sacrifice is completely sure, that they’re in the right state of mind to proceed.”

“And I totally understand that, but the constant questioning at some point becomes badgering the witness. And people who were completely ready before suddenly feel like, ‘Well, maybe I shouldn’t do this’ because of you. How many of those five to eight percent have gone through all the evaluations, all the research, all the testing, and backed out at this point?”

“All of them,” the surgeon says. “They don’t get to this point unless they pass the preliminary evaluations.”

“What does that say to you?” I ask. “You have someone who has proven to be perfectly healthy, perfectly ready to go under the knife and give the gift of life and then decide, ‘Eh, no thanks.’ They go through all of this and then they get to the Inquisition, and they don’t want to go through this anymore. If they didn’t have doubts before, they do now.”

“Which is why we ask if they’re ready. We just want to make sure that the donor doesn’t have any doubts or major concerns…” Daisy says.

“And that’s why only two of you need to ask that question at this point—maybe three if you’re still not 100% sure. And those three only need to ask the question once. There are five of you, and each of you asked me twice. You don’t think that’s enough to plant a seed of doubt in anybody’s mind?”

They all fall silent for a moment, probably counting how many out of that five to eight percent could have actually been successful transplants. They’re so busy trying to cover their asses that they’re less concerned about good medicine.

“The only doubts and major concerns I have about this process is that it’s taking so long that my sister might die before she actually gets my kidney. So, let’s lay this to rest in case anybody is going to ask me this question again.” I look at the nephrologist. “Are you confident in your abilities?” He frowns.

“Yes, sir, I am,” he says, taken aback by the fact that I would ask him that. I ignore his offense and move on to the surgeon.

“Are you confident in your abilities?” I ask.

“Yes, I am,” she says, flatly. I move on to the anesthesiologist.

“Are you confident in your abilities?” I ask,

“Yes, sir,” he says without malice. I nod.

“Are you confident in your abilities?” I ask the social worker.

“I am,” she says impassively. I look at Daisy.

“And how about you?” I ask. “Are you confident in your abilities?”

“Yes, Mr. Grey, I’m confident in my abilities.” I nod and look at the group as a whole.

“Is there anything in this process that you have left out, omitted, failed to tell me, or are hiding that I need to know before I lay on that table?” They look at one another, shaking their heads as if to say, “Not me, did you leave something out?”

“No, Mr. Grey,” Daisy says, “we’ve told you everything.”

“Well then, if you have any other relevant questions, please ask them. Otherwise, let’s cut the bullshit and get this scheduled. I’m afraid my sister doesn’t have much time left. “

*-*

“That’s really great news, Mom,” I say when she calls me to tell me that Mia’s surgery is scheduled for two weeks. They wanted to wait for three, but I made them move it up since there was no reason to wait. I wanted to go next week, but they said, “no.”

I know why they want to wait—to give me time to back out. They don’t understand that I’m counting the days. I’m watching my sister get sicker and sicker.

“I appreciate you being able to bury the hatchet and be there for your sister during this time,” she says. You have no idea, Mom.

“You never know how much time you have left with someone,” I tell her. “Recent events have shown me that you have to fight the battles worth fighting and leave the others alone. When does she check in?” I ask, pretending not to know.

“Two weeks from Monday,” she says, sounding like she’s talking about Christmas, which for her, she probably is.

“I’ll be there, Mom,” I promise.


Golden Chapter 25

GOLDEN

Yep, I still love what I do. All I needed to get back to myself was to get a hold of two or three of my pain whores, beat the Trey out of me, then make them come like fountains.

I even kicked the shit out of Desmond’s case—the first pro-bono case I’ve had in a long time that actually went to trial. Once the barracuda was back, the D.A. didn’t stand a chance. Golden is back on her square.

I go to the clubs with no worry of Trey since he has a girlfriend now. Truth is, I don’t think I would care if he showed up at all—single or attached. I still wouldn’t let him near me with a ten-foot pole.

I do, however, take the chance to go and see my father’s family, though. I waited longer than I should, but I show up for Easter dinner based on an invite from Tracy. Everyone’s going to be meeting at Sheila’s and bringing a dish. So, to prove I haven’t lost my roots, I bring the greens. Of course, they all look at my pot of greens with a healthy dose of skepticism. I call them all out and tell them to at least taste my greens before they write me off. After all, Aunt Sheila is the one who taught me how to cook.

There are no greens left in the pot when dinner is over.

The family sits down to a game of Spades and Tracy graciously asks me if I want to “P-up.”

“Hell, no,” I say emphatically. “I’ve watched enough Spades games to know that the only white girl in the room does not need to be playing. She needs to be watching!”

The room lights up with laughter as the adults play several hands of Spades…

And the white girl watches.

I know from way back when I used to watch Daddy play that Spades is part of the culture. It’s not just some game of playing the highest card and taking the most books. No. There’s a whole lotta smack-talkin’ involved, and if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, you stay the hell outta the game!

Guess what the hell Ana does?

The beer and Hennessey is flowing and I start to get to know the family better. Tracy and Lance actually have four children—two together, which were the two that I saw in the grocery store—and one each from prior partners. Junior has two little girls, but he’s divorced. My understanding is that the split is amicable, and that the girls spent the first part of the day at church with their mother, then came to Sheila’s for dinner with their dad. While the adults are talking, Junior’s oldest, Felicia, walks over to the group.

“Who is that lady, Aunt Tracy?” she asks, pointing to me.

“This is your Aunt Ana,” Tracy says. Felicia looks at her.

“I thought you were my Aunt,” she says.

“I am,” she says, “but Ana’s your aunt, too.” She looks at me then back at Tracy.

“She’s white,” Felicia whispers. Tracy chuckles.

“Yes, she is,” Tracy says with mirth. Felicia looks right at me and firmly asks:

“How did you get white?” Her little hand flies up to her mouth and her eyes widen. Immediately realizing her mistake, she begins to back-peddle.

“I mean… um… I…” Her eyes fill with regret and I spring into action.

“It’s okay,” I say, crouching down to her. “I know what you mean.” Relief instantly replaces her relief. I know that she meant to ask how she can have a white aunt when her family is black.

“Your grandpa had a brother that died when he was younger,” Tracy tells Felicia. “His name was Raymond. He adopted Auntie Ana, but when he died, Ana came to live with us.” Felicia frowns.

“Oh,” she says slowly. “Is that like Regina?” she asks. Tracy frowns.

“Who’s Regina?” she asks.

“A girl at my school,” she says. “She has two mommies. She said one mommy is her real mommy and the other mommy adomded her and now she’s her mommy, too.” Tracy and I both laugh.

“Yes,” Tracy says, “adopted,” she corrects.

“Adopted,” Felicia repeats.

“That’s exactly what this is,” Tracy says.

“Okay,” Felicia says. “See you later, Aunt Ana. I wanna go play.” She smiles widely and waves before she goes off to play with the other children.

“I wish the whole world could be that accepting,” I lament. Tracy puts her hand on my shoulder as I rise.

“Unfortunately, I think the world will end before that happens,” she says sadly.

I stand and go relieve myself and I can tell that a pow-wow of the adults has occurred since I was gone. Junior takes the initiative to ask the question that’s burning in everyone’s minds.

“Ana, we heard Dad’s version of what happened—which was apparently wrong. Do you mind telling us what happened to you when you left… or you didn’t come back?” he asks. I can tell he has no idea of the truth. I sigh. “If it’s too painful…”

“No,” I say, “it doesn’t sting as much anymore, so I can tell you. Let me start by saying that I have no intention of speaking ill of the dead,” I add. “I’ve already forgiven my uncle, so I’m going to make this as neat and clean as possible.

“I was dating Jake at the time… I honestly don’t even know his last name…”

“Fuckboy Jake?” Tracy asks, then looks over at Sheila. “Sorry, Mom.” Sheila waves her off. I know immediately from the description that we’re talking about the same person.

“Yes,” I say without hesitating. “You all remember—how many white people were there in the neighborhood?”

“About as many as there are now,” Tracy says. “There was only you.”

“Exactly,” I say. “So, when Fu…” I stop and look at Sheila. “When F-Boy Jake chooses me over all the black queens, who do you think gets the whisperings, the murmurings, and the side-eye?”

“I didn’t know you were dating Jake,” Junior says.

“I know,” I say. “He wasn’t F-Boy Jake at the time. I think he was F-Boy in training.” I roll my eyes. “Anyway, you know he always rode that yellow bike and he always wore those yellow jumpsuits…”

“I was wondering why you started wearing those jumpsuits,” Tracy says. “I thought it was just a fashion statement.” I nod.

“Well, now you know,” I say. “So, one night, I was riding his bike and the neighborhood girls saw me and started to give me a hard time. They started calling me names and wanted to know if Jake knew that I had his bike. You know his parents had that party store over on 161st…”

They nod.

“Well, I knew how to get in so that I could put Jake’s bike back. Ask me how these girls got there before me, I have no idea, but when I got there to put his bike back in the storage room, they were tearing up the store and they tore up his bike, too. The only thing that I could deduce was that these girls were mad that Paleface was the flavor of the month and wanted him to know it. So, here are my options…

“Defend little Jakey—or try to run away—and risk getting my butt kicked by a mob of mad black girls, or somewhat look like I’m going to join in and try to walk out of this alive. So, what did I do? I stole a candy bar.” The group pauses, waiting for additional information.

“And then what?” Tracy asks.

“And then nothing,” I say. “I stole a candy bar—that was it. And I only did that because I was afraid that if I didn’t do something, they were going to beat the hell out of me.” Aunt Sheila frowns deeply and sits forward in her chair.

“Go on,” she says, a little too calmly.

“The cops picked up everybody that they saw on surveillance. When Uncle Richard got there and found out that the whole thing happened on a Sunday morning, and not one day where he could prove I was in school, he wrote me off. He left me cold with no lawyer, no parent, no nothing. I didn’t even get a chance to talk to him; I never got a chance to explain. He looked at me like I had shot his puppy and left me there. I got to court and there was nobody there for me but the public defender. I don’t even know what happened… I just know they let me go.”

“And that’s why you take a lot of cases pro bono,” Sheila says, her expression unreadable. I pause for a moment and gaze at them.

“I just want them to know that somebody’s listening,” I says. “Black kids—particularly black boys—often get fingered for just walking down the street. I just want to make sure they don’t get thrown in jail simply for ‘walking while black.;”

Junior clears his throat while Tracy looks down and Sheila is looking dead at me.

“It’s the same thing that happened to me,” I continue. “Granted, I’m white, but I was accused of something I didn’t do. I did one dumb little thing, but even if I had done the ultimate worst, I was convicted by the one person that I needed to be in my corner without even having the chance to explain myself.

“When they asked me if they could take me somewhere, I knew they couldn’t bring me back here. I knew Uncle Richard wasn’t going to welcome me with open arms after he had deserted me at juvie without even hearing my side. I knew that if he had left me there on the mercy of the court that he wasn’t going to welcome me with open arms. I knew I was on my own, because if I wasn’t, he would have come for me; he would have looked for me; he would have sent Tracy and Junior to bring me home from school; something. Instead, he told you all not to talk to me. I know there’s nothing that can be done about this now, but I have to say this. You guys have no idea how many times I wished you guys would walk into school one day, look at me, and say, ‘Ana, come home,’ but you would barely even look at me.”

Now, Junior’s head is down, but Sheila is still looking at me.

“I lived on the streets,” I say with a shrug, “in vacant houses. I lied about my age and got a job for a while, but then I had to quit so I could focus on school. I still had to get scholarships or else I wasn’t going to college. So, I pinched pennies and I entered writing contests. That’s how I survived. As soon as I graduated and U-Dub said I could come to the dorm in August, I went straight to the dorm. I’ll never forget it. I left everything I had in that vacant house. When I moved in, I had bought a new duffle bag, I filled it with new clothes, one pair of pajamas, toiletries, and a towel. The first thing I did was take a shower.

“I slept with no blankets for three weeks until my roommates felt sorry for me and gave me some bedding. I didn’t have a computer, so I was in the library until it closed. School was a dream for me because I had spent a year and a half in hell, but it all paid off in the end.”

“Excuse me,” Sheila breathes and scurries from the room. I watch her run from the room and look back at Junior.

“I had to ask,” he laments, shaking his head. I look at Tracy.

“Your version of things is completely different than Dad’s version of things,” she says. “According to Dad, you had gotten involved in some kind of gang and that’s why you were in juvie. They were removing you from our home since Dad was technically just a guardian and not your parent or adopted parent, and they were making you a ward of the state because of your activities. If we looked at you funny, it’s because we couldn’t put together what Dad was saying with what we were seeing, but he told us not to talk to you, and the fact that you never came back to the house only served to reinforce what he was saying.” She looks at the door her mother exited.

“Mom’s going to start grieving again,” she says. “She’s been finding out all kinds of things she didn’t know about Dad—not things like he’s got another family across town or anything like that. Just things she didn’t know… like this. If she finds out too much more, it’s going to rip her apart.”

Now, I look at the door Sheila just exited.

“May I?” I ask, gesturing to the door. Tracy nods.

“Be my guest,” she says. I get up and follow Sheila through the door. I begin to walk down the hall, and the layout of the house is coming back to me. I know where she is. She’s in her spaffice.

A spaffice is just what it sounds like—it’s a cross between a spa and an office, and it’s the opposite of a man cave. Now, it’s not a spa in the sense that there’s a Jacuzzi or a set-up to get your nails done and things like that, but it was always Sheila’s escape and you couldn’t bother her when she was in her office. I remember the few transformations it took on while I lived here. Now, it’s got a jungle-like look, with lots of flourishing live plants and a Zen-like setting. There’s even a hammock in the room. Right now, Sheila’s at the window seat looking out of her bay window.

“Aunt Sheila?” I say, cautiously entering the room.

“I was against you coming to live with us at first,” she says without turning around, her voice soft. “It’s because of the neighborhood that we lived in… and you were white. I foolishly worried about what people would think, but I also worried that we wouldn’t be able to keep you safe.”

A single tear falls down her cheek and she quickly wipes it away.

“I quickly learned that my brother-in-law… or your mother… or both, had taught you a thing or three, and I had nothing to worry about. People still talked, and it bothered me at first, but after a while, I didn’t care. Richard was your advocate. He always wanted the best for you, just like he wanted the best for Tracy and Junior… and so did I.

“I have no idea what happened that day, Ana,” she says turning to me. “Richard left to get you, and he came back without you. He simply said that you had gotten into trouble and you would most likely end up in foster care. I asked him what happened. I asked him why they would put you in foster care when you had us. You had been with us for years. He refused to talk about it. He simply said that you weren’t coming back and that I didn’t have to worry about the white girl in the house anymore. I was appalled that he said that. After all these years, he still thought I felt that way?” She shakes her head.

“I wanted to know what happened. I wanted the information that he wouldn’t give me. I tried to call the juvenile center, but they had no record of you, and now I know why. I didn’t know who else to call. That day, Tracy and Junior came home and said they saw you at school. I looked at Richard, and he forbade everybody to talk to you. He said that you would be a bad influence on the children and that you would use my emotions against me. He made it sound like you had gone out and joined a gang or something… and now…”

She sighs heavily and looks out the window again. I walk over to her and take her hand.

“He didn’t even tell us he had gotten in touch with you again. For all we knew, you were dead or in jail or somewhere with a slew of babies… we had no clue. Once the kids graduated from high school, there was no more talk about you. And now, here you are… almost twenty years later…” She begins to weep again.

“I’m sorry, Ana,” she sobs, her shoulders shaking. “I don’t know how you can possibly forgive us…”

“I can forgive you because you were misled,” I say, squeezing my hand. “You went by what Uncle Richard said, and that is… was your husband after all. I didn’t even know you tried to look for me.”

“I didn’t try hard enough,” she scolds herself through her tears. “You went to school with my kids, for God’s sake!”

“And your husband and the man of your house told you that I was a bad influence. I’m the adopted daughter of his biological brother. If you really thought he felt that way, what could you do? I wouldn’t want a bad influence around my kids… if I had any.”

“How can you forgive him?” she says through her sniffles. “How can you forgive him for lying on you and deserting you like that? For everything you went through…?” I drop my head and think about my words before I speak.

“I was so angry for so many years,” I say. “I was hurt; I felt betrayed. I lost my Daddy and Mommy all back over again. I used those emotions to thrive. I thought about Daddy and Mommy looking down on me. I never once thought about what they would think of Uncle Richard and what he was doing. I didn’t even know the whole story about what Uncle Richard was doing and I still don’t know, because he’s not here to tell us. So… what do I do now? Do I just sit here angry and spiteful at a dead man?

“I can’t live like that, Aunt Sheila,” I tell her. “I forgave Uncle Richard for me… because there’s just nothing else to do.” She twists her lips.

“Where did you get this fortitude and character?” she asks, “because I doubt that you got it from us.” I shrug.

“I think I may have picked up a bit of it from you guys,” I admit, “some of it from my Daddy and Mommy, and… some of it from life.” I sigh. “Everything happens for a reason, and I still know how to cook.” We laugh.

“You sure do!” she says surprised. “You didn’t forget one single thing in those greens. I can’t get Tracy to cook greens like that!” I chuckle.

“That’s because when everything is taken away from you, you hold on to what you can with both hands,” I say. She looks down at my hand over hers and covers it with hers with her other one.

“I’ll never let you get away again,” she says, a tear or two dropping on our joined hands. I put mine over hers.

“I’m not going anywhere, Aunt Sheila,” I promise.


A/N: Never saw this coming, did you? 

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

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~~love and handcuffs

Fifty Shades Golden: Chapter 24

My CE testing is next week. I have theory oozing out of my ears! I feel more confident, but I’m hoping I can retain the information for the three days of testing. In the meantime, this was my break from studying and now, I’m going back into the rabbit whole. Wish me luck!

We’re coming to the end, campers. There are four more chapters after this one.

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

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

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

CHAPTER 24

briana_evigan_1289148201

GOLDEN

Sampson got the beating of his life last night, and he loved every minute of it. I, on the other hand, didn’t enjoy it as much. Why? Because of him—Trey.

Why did he have to come to the club last night? Wasn’t it bad enough that I saw him at the fundraiser? With his beautiful, model-like Brazilian date? I could tell by the way that he was carrying himself when they were leaving that they were going to fuck. That’s information I really didn’t need.

“Slow down, you’re walking faster than me in those damn things!” Jesse said as I’m hurrying out of the ballroom and away from Trey. Shit! Shit! Shit! What is he doing here?

“I had to get out of there,” I admitted.

“I noticed,” he retorted. “What the hell is going on? Did Grey do something to you?”

“No… yes…” I sighed. “No.”

“Which is it, Ana?” Jesse asked. “Is there something I need to know about this guy? Does it have to do with Lincoln?”

“No,” I said, “and no,” and yes. I put my hand on my forehead to gain my wits about myself, then I pulled him away from the ballroom entrance.

“We had sex, Jesse,” I confessed breathlessly, like I’ve been holding it in for years.

“Okay, and?” he asked.

“And I haven’t had sex with anyone in years!” At least not voluntarily. His eyes widened.

“What?” he hissed. “What do you mean? You… you don’t…”

“No!” I cut him off. “I’m not a hooker, Jesse. There’s no penetrative sex involved.”

“Except with Grey,” he pointed out. “No wonder he couldn’t look you in the eye.”

Yeah, I noticed that, too.

“So, what now?” Jesse said.

“What do you mean ‘what now?’ What nothing!” I declared. Jesse scoffs at me.

“You’re different,” he said. “I couldn’t put my finger on it before, but now it all makes sense. When did this happen, about two and a half, three months ago?”

Shit!

“Yes!” I hissed, angry that he could damn near date it.

“If I didn’t have sex in several years, the first person I had sex with, I’d fall in love with. Are you falling in love?”

“For fuck’s sake, Jesse, no!” I denied vehemently. I’m not falling in love. I’m just… confused.

“Well, you two definitely have unfinished business,” he said. “He can’t look you in the eye and you can’t stay in his presence for more than ten minutes. What does that say to you?”

“That I need to check the fucking guest list before I come to fundraisers from now on!” I hissed quietly.

“You guys both live in Seattle. You travel in some of the same circles. You know damn well that’s not the only place you can see him. And that’s not what I was getting at.”

“I know what you were getting at and it means nothing, Jesse,” I scold. “He’s some guy that I fucked and that’s it.” Jesse folded his arms.

“And you’re not speaking now.” I didn’t answer. “Let me guess—you cut him off.” I raised my gaze to him.

“Yeah, so?” I replied.

“So, you used him for sex,” he declared. I glared at him.

“That is not what I did!” I hissed, looking around to be sure that we didn’t have a listening audience.

“Didn’t you?” Jesse accused. “You got him all primed with the Golden treatment, on and off for a whole year. You’ve been giving him little tastes of the meal month after month, and then when he’s groomed and ready, you give him the whole enchilada, then you cut him off at the knees. That poor guy has been sitting somewhere wondering what the fuck happened for three months. What—do you think his money makes him impenetrable? I wouldn’t be able to look at you either!” I narrowed my eyes at him.

“Careful, Jesse. You’re treading thin ice!” I warned.

“Well, forgive me,” he retorted. “I’m just telling you how this looks from another guy’s point of view. And with all due respect, that’s a pretty shitty thing to do to somebody.”

“Guys do it to women all the time!” I excused firmly.

“Yeah, but did he do that to you?”

The words just hung in the air. Jesse talked to me like I’m supposed to have a conscience about sex—and I don’t. It’s simply not part of the equation. It’s an unknown that needs to be thrown out completely, like it never happened.

“He’ll get over it,” I dismissed. “After some time, he won’t even remember me.” Jesse shook his head.

“I hope you’re right,” he said, “but be careful, Ana. Karma has a way of coming back to bite you in the butt when you least expect it, and it’s never convenient.” I rubbed my neck to try to relieve the tension there when Jesse speaks again.

“Senator, 10:00.”

I look up and see the Senator exit the ballroom and look around. It’s showtime. I massaged my head and came out of my hiding place straight over to him.

“I see you’ve missed me,” I said, stepping behind the Senator. He turns around to face me and smiles widely.

“Always,” he said, extending an elbow to me.

We re-entered the ballroom and head over to the bar. We both got refills of champagne and began discussing the evening.

“I have to say that Christian Grey was extremely interested in what we’re doing in the Battery District,” he said sipping his champagne.

“Is that right?” I said, feigning disinterest.

“Yes,” he continued, “even more interested than our Jesse. He was hanging on my every word.”

“How nice,” I said, scanning the room and finding him on the dancefloor with his Brazilian bombshell. Of course, you would know he wasn’t gay, Gisela. You’ve had some of the magnificent dick!

“Indeed,” he said, “he didn’t look at anyone else in the group. Not even his date. I know I’m captivating, but I’m certain I’m not that captivating.” I watched as Christian made a call and he and the Brazilian princess walked out the door. She had that satisfied little smirk on her face of a woman definitely about to be fucked.

“Not one other person in the group,” the Senator continued. I finished my champagne and took another glass from the bar, tucking my hand into his elbow.

“Let it go, Senator,” I warned with a smile. He raised his brow.

“Yes, Mistress,” he complied, and we rejoined the party.

Then I go home and have a dream about Trey—but not fucking me, fucking her!

As if that’s not bad enough he shows up at Crimson. That’s when I see and hear the truth. He looked strong at the party—confident and unmoved, but that was just a façade. When I saw him at the club, I saw that he had changed. He’s not broken, but he’s not the confident man that I previously knew him to be. He’s defeated, but not broken.

*-*

Monday morning, I’m back in court for another pro-bono case. Just as I clear the metal detectors and head to the courtrooms, I swear that I see someone down the large corridor.

Is that Aunt Sheila?

It’s strange that I refer to her as Aunt Sheila when I refuse to refer to Richard as Uncle. I must have gazed at her for too long, because once I come back to myself, she’s walking over to me.

“Anastasia!” she says surprised. “What are you doing here?”

Shit.

“I have a case,” is all I can say.

“You do?” she inquires. “For what?”

“A young man wrongly accused of robbery.” Sound familiar, Aunt Sheila?

“Are you a social worker?” What the fuck? Am I the world’s best-kept secret? Richard has only been chasing me down for over a year.

“No, I’m an attorney,” I retort, “and I’m late.” I cut the conversation and go into the courtroom.

This time, things didn’t go as well as I would have hoped. My client is out on bail, but the case is being bound over for trial. The evidence is very weak—a grainy video and a shaky witness. My client even has an alibi. Nonetheless, the judge wants to see all the evidence and hear the case, so we’re going to trial.

When I walk out of the courtroom an hour or so after I walked in, Sheila is sitting outside on the bench still waiting for me.

Oh, for the love of God. I turn to my client.

“Don’t worry, Desmond,” I comfort him. “This is a very weak case. We’ll beat it. You be sure to keep your grades up and stay out of trouble in the meantime, okay?”

“Okay, Ms. Olivet,” he says sadly and heads down the hall with his mother. Sheila waits until they’re safe distance and approaches me again.

“The word around this place is that you take those cases pro-bono,” she says. I sigh.

“I do,” I say. “I believe everyone deserves a chance to say their piece and they don’t deserve to be railroaded by people and a system that doesn’t care about them.”

“That’s very admirable,” she says, ignoring my implications. “Ray would be proud. Richard would be, too.”

“Richard already knows,” I say sharply. She stares at me for a moment.

“He did?” she asks.

“Yes,” I say sharply. Then I realize… I’ve never seen Sheila at the courthouse, and she’s talking about Richard in the past tense.

“Sheila, where’s Richard?” I ask frankly. She sighs heavily.

“Well, that’s why I’m here,” she says, “to… tell his coworkers and colleagues that… Richard passed away Friday night.”

I don’t know how to react. I don’t feel any loss for his passing, but a woman has lost her husband. I can’t muster any sympathy because she, too, deserted me when I had nowhere else to go. So, I just go the professional route.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” I say, impassively. She nods and scrunches her face in that way that fights back tears.

“He’s with his brother now,” she whispers. I hope the hell not.

“I don’t mean to be rude, Sheila, but I really need to go,” I say and try to leave.

“Ana, wait,” she says, causing me to stop and turn around. “I’m sorry.”

The words hit me square in the chest and nearly knock me off my feet.

“What?” I breathe, with emphasis on the “h.”

“I’m sorry,” she repeats. “We shouldn’t have left you.”

I’m stunned. Eighteen years of pain and hatred have boiled down to “I’m sorry, we shouldn’t have left you.” There was a time when I would have given anything to hear those words, but now, they mean absolutely nothing. I roll my eyes.

“But you did,” I say, turning to leave again.

“Ana!” her call sounds desperate, pleading. “I would have come for you, but Richard expressly prohibited it. He’s my husband… was my husband. I had no choice.” Her voice is cracking, but I don’t feel her pain.

“If…” she pauses, “if there’s any time that we should remember we’re family, it’s now.”

“Now?” I ask in horror. “Now? When your husband dies? Not when my mother and father died? Not when I was a teenager and I needed you? You were all I had… and you left me! You left me cold with nothing and no one, and you want to blame a dead man? If he had ordered you to desert one of your own children, would you? Would you have turned your back on your own children, knowing they had no one else? Or was it because I wasn’t your child? Or was it because I was white?”

All of the anger and the feelings that I’ve held in for years are coming out on this woman right now, in a totally inappropriate place at the worst time ever—three days after she’s lost her husband.

“Richard assured us that you would be okay…”

“But he told you not to speak to me, because Tracy and Junior never did—not once! For two years, they pretended like I didn’t even exist. I don’t know what he hated in me, but he passed that hatred down to you and you took it!” I hear my own voice, loud and echoing through the corridors, cracking with pain and repressed anger, but I can’t stop now.

“You were the only. Mother. I had left,” I say, shaking my head. “I had no one to guide me, no one to love me. I had nothing… nothing but you… and Uncle Richard, and you left me… you left me to fend for myself.”

“It wasn’t like that,” she protests. “Richard convinced me that you would be better off in foster care with a family that was able to deal with a troubled child.”

“When was I ever a troubled child?” I nearly shriek. “The only trouble I had was losing my parents, and then losing you! My grades were flawless, and then I went to college on a free-ride scholarship. When did I give you any trouble…?”

Then suddenly, her words play back to me.

“Wait a minute… did you… did you say foster care?” I ask in disbelief. She swallows.

“Richard said… he told us…” I glare at her for a few moments, then I cackle a tragic laugh that silences the corridor for several moments.

“I wasn’t in foster care,” I say with an ironic smile. “I lived on the streets.”

Confusion clouds her face for a moment.

“No,” she says in disbelief. “Richard… he… he said…”

“He lied,” I interrupt her, “Or he was wrong. It doesn’t matter which,” I add firmly, my tragic smile falling. “They let me go. I lived on the streets.” Horror mars her expression.

“No…” she breathes in that way that sounds like she’s seen a ghost.

“Yeah,” I say, matter-of-factly, “I lived in vacant houses for two years, which weren’t hard to find in our neighborhood, you know. I survived any way that I could—part-time jobs, sometimes eating from garbage cans. It. Was. Hell.” I put my free hand on my hip and examine her horrified expression. “You know, looking at you now, I don’t know which one is worse—thinking that you didn’t care about me and you left me out there to die, or knowing that I went to the same school with your kids for two years and you had no idea what I was going through.”

She puts her hands over her mouth, tears flowing freely down her cheeks, her eyes never leaving mine.

“Ana,” she whispers through her sobs, “my God!”

Yeah, that’s how I felt, Aunt Sheila.

Suddenly, all the anger and hatred that I felt for her, Richard, and their family flows from my body and onto the floor in a puddle around me. Nothing’s holding me up but the pain. I have to get out of here.

“My condolences to your family,” I spit before I turn around and walk down the hall in front of a wide-eyed audience. I don’t care that they know about my past. Look what I became.

The closer I get to the door and the further away from Aunt Sheila, my knees get weaker. My stride quickens, then turns into a skipping trot. Before I know it, I’m sprinting towards the door, desperate to get some air. The moment the cool air hits me, I crumble to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably on the courthouse steps.

*-*

The incident with Aunt Sheila broke me down to nothing. I’m completely raw and I can’t function. For two days, I stayed in my room in mourning… mourning what, I don’t know, but I couldn’t even face the sunlight.

Blake tended to me carefully and didn’t ask what was wrong. He waited for me to tell him. On day three when I finally emerged, I told him about my meeting with Sheila in the courthouse; about how they never had any idea that I was sleeping in the cold on the ground or in dirty, germ and rat-infested vacant houses even though I’m sure I told Richard at some point; how I would give anything right now for Reynard to really be Daddy’s son so that I could connect to my father in some way… just not so much of an asshole.

Blake tells me that Richard’s funeral was announced on television since he’s with a public office. Against my better judgement—I’ve been doing a lot of that lately—I decide to go.

His funeral is held at the First United Methodist Church of Seattle. The sanctuary is huge and nearly packed to the walls, including the balcony. Either a lot of people loved Richard, or a lot of people were glad to see him go. All races are in attendance, so at least I’m not like the only white girl in the church.

I walk to the front of the church to view his remains. I look down into the casket, looking for any resemblance of my father. Unfortunately, his health deteriorated so badly that he just looks like a dead man, an expression of peace on his face that says his suffering is over.

I cry at his casket… I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because the feeling of death is surrounding me, I don’t know. The last time I stood at a casket was Daddy and Mommy, so this is another part of Daddy dying, no matter how much I don’t want to admit it. I didn’t bring a handkerchief with me because I didn’t expect to cry. I have to get away from this casket as I’m turning into a slobbering mess with nothing to clean my face.

I turn and walk quickly away from the casket and down the aisle of the church. I slide into the first available seat that I see, hold my head down, cover my face, and cry. Why am I crying over this man? Why can’t I stop? He wasn’t my daddy. He didn’t even make a good uncle, but for some reason I can’t stop.

I feel a hand on my back, and I raise my head. A hand is holding a handkerchief out to me. I take it without looking and clean my face, then my eyes before raising my gaze to the face of the person handing it to me. It’s a younger version of Richard… and my daddy.

“Come sit with the family, Ana,” Junior says softly. I look sadly at him, then shake my head.

“Please… Ana… please come and sit with us,” Junior says, his eyes bloodshot and pleading as much as his words. “Please…”

I’m not going to be a bitch. I bite back my feelings and stand. He takes my hand, and I let him. He leads me to the front row and gestures for me to sit between him and Tracy. At first, I hesitate, but Tracy holds her hand up for me to take it. I sigh, accept her hand, and take a seat between them. I sit quietly on the row with the family, listening to the choir sing, listening to the expressions of sympathy and the kind words about my uncle, the eulogy, crying the entire time.

I feel like I’ve lost my Daddy all back over again.

Not that I feel like Richard was my father, just that I’m consumed by the same hopelessness that I felt at Daddy’s funeral.

I’m thoroughly waterlogged when the service is over, and the closed casket is wheeled down the center aisle of the church. Junior and Tracy cling to my hands and Junior holds his mother as we walk out of the church. I look up and catch the sympathetic gaze of Judge Grey and I nearly break down again. I behaved so badly in his courtroom the last time I saw Richard there. I’m suddenly so ashamed… and how I talked to Sheila in the courthouse. My behavior was atrocious.

We stand outside and watch them load Richard’s casket into the hearse and as the cars begin to line up to go to the cemetery, various people come and give their condolences to Sheila. Tracy is holding hands with her husband now and Junior is still holding mine as Sheila accepts hugs and kind words. As the visitors stream by, Junior beseeches me to ride in the family car to the cemetery to lay Richard to rest. I weakly oblige because I have no strength left to protest.

We begin to walk to the family car and just outside the entrance stands Reynard. I know he’s not looking for a showdown today of all days! I hesitate, but Junior squeezes my hand and the entire family walk straight for him. He looks at me with disgust, then turns his gaze to Junior.

“So, why wasn’t I invited to sit with the family?” Reynard asks snidely.

“Maybe because we don’t know who you are,” Junior retorts.

“You’ll accept her,” he gestures to me with disdain, “but not me?” Junior makes to speak, but Sheila stops him.

“Maybe if you had presented yourself to us with a little more decorum and kindness, we may have been more willing to accept you into our family. Right now, you just need to give us time.” She herds us all together and pushes us in front of her to walk away. She looks back at Reynard and adds one more thing…

“… And proof.”

I know he doesn’t have proof. Richard could have helped him because he and my dad share DNA. Richard’s kids are a long shot, but they’re not going to help him.

So long, Reynard.

We ride silently in the family car to the cemetery, the same place where Daddy and Mommy are buried. His plot, in fact, is one half of a double plot right next to Daddy and Mommy. I sit quietly thinking of my father and mother while the minister says the final words over Richard’s casket. Once the final words are spoken, the mourners all file to their cars, leaving the family behind to say goodbye. Sheila kisses the casket and declares her never-ending love for her husband. Junior and Tracy say similar words to their father.

“Can I have a minute?” I ask and the family leaves. I walk over to Richard’s casket. I look at the dark brown finish as if I were looking at Richard.

“This is it,” I tell him. “This is the end of the road. I bet it’s been one hell of a journey.” I take three flowers from the blanket on the casket, then I lean down to it.

“I forgive you,” I whisper. “Goodbye Uncle Richard.”

I take one last look at his casket before I walk over to Mommy’s and Daddy’s plots. I look at the headstone and my heart breaks. I fall down on my knees on the cold ground and begin to weep.

“I miss you so much, Daddy,” I say. “It never gets easier.” I cry for a minute, my heart feeling like it’s being ripped from my chest.

I’m proud of you, baby…

I raise my head. There’s no one there. I look around… nobody. I know I heard it. I know I did! But there’s no one there. I look back down at the headstone and smile. I kiss my fingers, then touch the picture of his face.

“I love you, Daddy,” I whisper, “bunches and bunches, from this life to the next.” I hold my head down and finish his reply, “And the next… and the next…”

And the next.

I sigh heavily, then I kiss my fingers and touch the picture of her face.

“I love you, Mommy… and I miss you, too. I need you so much right now…” I place two of the flowers on their headstone. My only consolation is that they’re together. Even though I couldn’t have them here with me, one of them didn’t have to face the agony of being without the other.

I take one last look before I rise and turn to walk back to the car. As I’m walking towards the limo, I see Reynard standing next to another car. He just stares at me before he gets into the car and drives away. I sigh and walk back to the limo.

More silence surrounds our ride back to the church to get my Range Rover.

“We’d like very much for you to come back to the house to the repast, Ana,” Sheila offers. I swallow hard.

“I’m sorry, I…” I can’t form my words. “I’m not ready yet.” I pull out my business card and hand it to Sheila. “I’ll be in touch… I promise.” She hugs me and I return her embrace.

“You know where to find us,” she says, “when you’re ready.” She smiles at me and I return the smile. I hug Junior and Tracy.

“Sheila has my number,” I say to them both. “My private cell is on the back.” They smile and I head to my Range Rover.

I cry all the way home.

I don’t know how to process what happened today.

I forgave Uncle Richard. I really forgave him. It just doesn’t make any sense to hold a grudge against him anymore.

My father’s family welcomed me back. It took 18 years, but they welcomed me. I don’t know what Richard was doing, but I wish he had just taken the simple route when he was alive and apologized, then gave me some time to heal, but it’s water under the bridge now.

My father’s family stood up against my supposed brother. It was a silent, unified front and I appreciate it.

My Uncle Richard is gone… and my daddy spoke to me. I’m sure of it.

And I’m weeping so badly that I can barely get home.

Once again, Blake tends to me without asking any questions. Golden is on hiatus once more, just for a week or so until I get my emotions in check. I can’t be an effective Domme while I’m all caught in my emotions.


000fwskk

TREY

“Merry late Christmas,” Ronnie says, handing me a small box. I take it with a smile.

“Thank you,” I say.

“It’s okay that you didn’t get me anything,” she says. “We didn’t agree to exchange gifts.” I smile inwardly and take the ribbon off the box. We’ve moved to having our lunches in small cafés and eateries since the cold weather set in.

“Ronnie,” I say, looking at the gold monogrammed cuff links, “they’re beautiful.”

“I don’t know if you have a pair,” she says, “monogrammed, anyway. They’re not fancy like the once you’re used to, but…” I put my finger on her lips to silence her.

“They’re beautiful… thank you,” I repeat. She swallows.

“You’re welcome,” she says softly.

“And actually…” I reach into my pocket and pull out a small box from Tiffany’s. She gasps.

“You sly dog,” she says, punching my shoulder and taking the box. She pulls off the ribbon to reveal a delicate platinum locket on a platinum chain.

“Christian,” she breathes, and it’s the first time she’s used my full first name and not my initials, “it’s stunning. You shouldn’t have…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I say, trying to make the situation a little lighter, “that’s what they all say.”

“I just bet they do,” she says with a wide smile. “Would you?” She hands me the necklace and lifts her hair. I fasten the locket on her neck and resist the urge to caress her skin. She touches it with admiration.

“It’s beautiful, Christian,” she says. We sit silently for a moment.

“So, what are you doing for New Year’s Eve?” I ask.

“Watching the ball drop in Times Square and the Space Needle display… from my living room,” she says. “What about you?”

“I usually go to one of my nightclubs,” I tell her, “but I’m not really feeling it this year.” She twists her lips. “What do you say we watch the ball drop together?” She raises her brow.

“Hmm… I don’t know, can I trust you?” she jests.

“Can you?” I laugh. She sighs.

“Okay, fine, you twisted my arm.”

“Your place or mine?” I ask.

“Mine, I guess. I’m ordering out. Unlike you, Mr. Grey, I don’t like to cook. Chinese okay?”

“Chinese is fine by me,” I say. “About eight?” She nods.

“You bring the cocktails.”

“Deal.”

*-*

At 8:00pm, I arrive at Ronnie’s downtown condo with two bottles of champagne, a bottle of wine, and a bottle of tequila.

“You didn’t specify what cocktails to bring, so…” I say, holding up the wine satchels.

“Good grief, CG, did you rob a liquor store?” she says, stepping aside to let me in. “And even in casual clothes, you always make me feel like a troll.”

Funny, I was just thinking the same thing about you.

“Does anything need to be chilled?” she asks.

“The champagne,” I say, handing her the satchel with the champagne in it. She puts the bag on the counter and removes the bottles.

“Oooo, the good stuff,” she says, taking the bottles to the refrigerator. “The food should be here any minute. I didn’t want it to be cold.”

“Good thinking,” I say. “Boy, the Rocking Eve is really rocking, huh?” I say looking at the television.

“Yep, they’re having quite the party. I set a little picnic setting in front of the TV. That’s how I do my New Year’s. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Nope, that’s fine. Should I take off my shoes?” I ask.

“Of course, make yourself at home.” She brings a tray with wine glasses and champagne flutes into the living room and places them on the coffee table next to our picnic setup.

“Are we drinking tequila from wine glasses?” I ask. She raises her brow at me.

“You didn’t tell me we had tequila,” she says. “Food first, caveman, or we’ll be loopy as fuck by the time the fireworks start.” As she’s scolding me, the doorbell rings. “Would you get that please?”

I stand up and answer the door. The poor delivery guy is carrying two hot and cold bags with enough food to feed an army.

“Oh, dear God,” I say, taking one of the bags. “Come in, man.” He follows me to the kitchen counter.

“What are you trying to do, feed the homeless?” I ask as he and I begin to take the items from the bags and place them on the counter.

“I didn’t ask what you liked,” she excuses, “and I eat a lot.”

“You couldn’t eat all this in a week!” I exclaim, still removing container after container from the bag.

“I’ll do my best,” she says, “and tonight I have help.”

We finally get all of the food out of the bag, and the delivery guy sighs a sigh of relief.

“Thanks, Dan,” she says once he’s finished and hands him a tip. “See ya next time.” He nods and moves to leave.

“Wait a minute, Dan,” I say, reaching into my pocket. Whatever she gave him, it wasn’t enough. I hand him a hundred-dollar bill.

“Wow! Thanks, man!” he says happily,

“Happy New Year, Dan,” I say.

“Happy New Year!” he says, nodding and smiling widely. “See ya, Ronnie.”

“Bye,” she laughs as Dan leaves and I close the door behind him. “What did you give him?”

“I’m not telling you,” I say. “I gave him enough to make up for having to deliver the freaking Chinese buffet on New Year’s Eve. Now let’s eat.”

We toast the New Year in on all three of the other time zones, laughing and eating and talking about the events of the year, namely Elena’s death, Ronnie’s promotion, my not-quite breakup with Golden, a few of her disastrous dates, etc., etc., etc.

It’s nearly midnight and we’ve finished one bottle of champagne, the bottle of wine, and two tequila shots apiece. I’m filling the glasses for our midnight toast.

“Can I crash on the floor?” I ask. “I don’t feel like going home this late, or this liquored.”

“I thought that was a given,” she says, taking the flute from me. “If you’re not at the club, wherever you are at midnight, that’s where you stay.”

“I never heard that,” I say my brow furrowed.

“Well, now you have,” she says dismissively. “Are you okay? Do you feel sick?” I frown.

“I’m not that liquored,” I chastise. As we’re talking, the countdown begins.

“Ten… nine… eight…” We join in with the countdown and when we get to midnight, we yell, “Happy New Year,” and blow our noisemakers. The fireworks begin out the large window of her living room at the Space Needle, and we instinctively lean in and kiss each other.

Wait! Whoa…

What we thought would be a harmless peck becomes a soft but passionate lip lock of melding mouths and caressing tongues. I don’t know if the fireworks are hotter outside or in here. When our lips part, I look into the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen.

“We’re missing the fireworks,” I say softly.

“Are we?” she breathes, her lips kiss-swollen. Damn, they look tasty.

“Yeah,” I reply, my voice huskier than I intend. We stare at each other for a few moments.

“You know, this is the perfect setting to get into trouble,” she says, looking into my eyes.

“Yes, it is,” I agree.

“Have I ever told you that you’re pretty hot?” she says.

“You call me handsome all the time.” She nods.

“It could just be the alcohol talking,” she confesses.

“Do you regret it?” I ask. She shakes her head.

“Will you regret it in the morning?” I add. She shakes her head.

“It is morning,” she says softly. I kiss her again softly.

“So… why don’t you show me some of that kink?” she says. I raise a brow at her.

“You sure about that?” I ask, suggestively.

“You said that if I don’t like anything you do, all I have to do is tell you to stop. Did you lie?” I shake my head.

“Nope,” I reply, “that’s exactly how it works.”

“Now, what if I’m not into that whippee/chainie shit?” she says, cocking her head and repeating her statement when we first talked about BDSM. I move closer to her.

“There’s a lot more to the kink than just the whippee/chainie shit,” I say. We’re very close to each other—breaths away, in fact—and she looks at my lips and chuckles slightly.

“What?” I ask, my voice low and watching her eyelashes closely.

“When we first met, I distinctly remember saying, ‘It was just a “good afternoon,” handsome.’” My turn to chuckle.

“That you did,” I say, now looking at her lips.

“What is it now?” she asks, her voice soft.

“It’s ‘good morning, gorgeous,’” I say, and she raises her eyes to mine.

“Show me what you got,” she coaxes. You asked for it.

I close my lips over hers, put my arms around her waist and pull her close to me. She opens her mouth, giving purchase to my tongue and wraps her arms around my neck. Her body smells great and feels magnificent…

I awake in the middle of the night, naked on the floor with Ronnie in my arms. It doesn’t feel right to sleep around while I’m sleeping with Ronnie, so I guess it’ll just be us. I didn’t do anything particularly kinky with her the first time besides some human bondage…

I pinned her hands down and while I ate her pussy until she came.

I held her hands over her head in one of mine and fucked her until we both came.

There was some gentle choking and some basic orgasm denial to extend our pleasure, but nothing more than that. I would say that she thoroughly enjoyed herself, as did I.

And I’m still thinking about Golden.

*-*

Linc is fading fast.

As it turns out, Elena came to an agreement with Ana and the participants of the class action suit. The amount is undisclosed, but with a class action, it’s easily in the millions. Elena and Linc were both trying to lock down whatever assets they could with a possible divorce pending, so although Elena had some pretty good liquid cash on hand, she didn’t have the millions needed to settle a multi-million-dollar lawsuit. So, she did the next best thing.

She liquidated several of their joint holdings in their portfolio to cover the settlement.

A lot of the holdings were shares in Lincoln Timber. Since I had been following the company for my growing timber interest, I gobbled up the shares moments after they became available. That really pissed Linc off because I’m cashing in on him from both angles.

In addition, she couldn’t liquify enough assets to cover the remainder of the settlement, so she took out a secured loan, using others of their joint assets as collateral. She had no source of income when she died, so who’s going to have to repay that loan?

A week after the settlement was paid and final, she ends up dead. With this new information, guess what this situation and all of its little tentacles create?

Motive.

So, now, Linc is the primary person of interest because no one else had any motive to kill her. Ana had already gotten her payoff and I had a lawsuit pending, so…

Ana…

Six weeks since I’ve seen her; four and a half months since I’ve felt her, tasted her… and I still can’t get her out of my mind.

Ronnie is very understanding. I haven’t done anything like call out Golden’s name at that crucial moment or some shit like that, but she’s very astute and can tell that I’m sometimes a bit distracted, for lack of a better word. She’s perfect for me in my currently fucked up state… and too good for me at the same time.

I even swore that I saw her Range Rover in traffic one day while Ronnie and I were having lunch. I heard a horn and turned to see where it was coming from. A Range Rover was at the light that looked just like hers, but I dismissed it as wishful thinking and never told Ronnie. I’m like a dog chasing a bone that I’ll never get.

Hell if I know how this will play out.


Briana Evigan 14

GOLDEN

I haven’t been back to any of the clubs since Richard died. I’ve just been meditating, working, doing the yoga and trying to find myself. Kevin contacted me wondering what the hell was going on, so I met him for lunch and spilled my fucking guts… about Richard, about not going to the clubs, about Christian… though I called him Trey in Kevin’s presence.

He reiterated that his hat was still in the ring should I decide that I want to wander in that direction, although he informed me that he’s certain that Trey will get “first dibs” and he holds no ill will about it. I only tell him that I don’t think that day will come anytime soon.

And then I see something that literally rocks my world.

I’m downtown just after the New Year closing on a deal with one of my corporate clients—another ridiculous payday, by the way—and I stop at a light on 4th. I scan my surroundings and what do I see right in the window of a quaint little café?

Christian! And he’s holding some girl’s hand close to his lips while he’s speaking to her and looking into her eyes, and it’s not fucking Gazelle or Glenda or whatever the fuck her damn name is. This girl is blonde, attractive. She’s giggling and engaging him in that familiar way that couples do.

Couples.

Fuck, is that what this is? I’m tossing and turning in 15 different emotions ranging from anger to grief to dreaming about this asshole and he’s moved on in a vanilla relationship? Because that’s what that is—totally vanilla. He was all confused and shit, stuck between Dom and masochist, and all I had to do was dump him—for lack of a better word—and now, he’s the perfect boyfriend? What the fuck, man?

The car behind me honks his horn and even with my windows closed, I can hear him saying something about the light not getting any greener. Fuck this shit. Any confusion I may have had over Christian Grey/Trey/Chopper has now been resolved.

I put my feet on the gas and speed away from this touching display of affection. It’s time to get back to myself and stop this touchy-feely bullshit… or so I thought.

I get back to my office to find that Aunt Sheila has sent me several packages—some of them quite large. I have no idea what they could be, but whatever they are, I know that it’s better that I don’t open them in the office, so I have Jesse load them into my Range Rover so that I can look at them when I get home.

It was the right decision.

I’m surrounded by the packages—four in total—in my parlor. I take a box cutter and open them…

And come face to face with my childhood.

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Daddy’s badge and ribbons…
Daddy standing in front of his patrol car…
His certificate for graduating from the academy…
My parent’s wedding certificate…
Lots and lots of pictures, including baby pictures of me, pictures of me and Daddy, of Daddy and Mommy, of the three of us, even some with Richard and his family as the kids were all growing up…
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My christening dress…
Mommy’s wedding dress…
Mommy in her wedding dress…
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The flag from Daddy’s casket…
61gcs9lft9l._sx425_I remember them giving me that flag. I never knew what happened to it.

Memory after memory come flying at me out of this box and I still have three more boxes to go. Mommy and Daddy’s things, and my things, kept from me all these years. I deduce that Richard must have been a miserable soul in the course of his life and even now, I’m still not angry with him anymore. But now, the onslaught of the emotions is back and because I’ve never dealt with anything like this in my adult life, I just let them happen. Letting them out at Daddy and Mommy’s—and Richard’s—grave help me to move on a bit, and that’s what I need to do…

Including what I’m feeling for Trey. I haven’t put a name to it yet…

Oh, who am I kidding?

I wanted him to still be pining for me; to be thinking about me and that night that we shared; to be dreaming about me like I’m involuntarily dreaming about him. He’s moved on, but dammit, I haven’t! Yes, I still love what I do. I’m still a sadist, but for the first time since I’ve been in the lifestyle this way, something is missing. What am I feeling? Anger and frustration… and hurt.

Let’s deal with one onslaught of emotions at a time… Trey will have to wait.

“Blaaaaaake!”


man-in-shadows-hiddleston

TREY

Friday night, I go to Crimson for old time’s sake. I’m not looking to get laid though I might be secretly hoping to catch a glimpse of Golden.

Of course, I don’t.

I sit at the bar for hours sipping on a Jack and Coke before I finally tell the bartender to let Max know that Trey is here and requests an audience. I gaze at the pole for a few moments like I did the last time I was here, then finish my drink.

“Come with me, sir,” one of the dungeon monitors disrupts my inner musings. I follow him to a back elevator, and he presses a security code that takes us to the second floor. He hangs back when the door opens, and I exit into Max’s private lair. It’s not what you would expect from the owner of one of Seattle’s most successful underground BDSM clubs. It’s homey—high-end, but cozy.

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I have a seat on one of the sofas, and Max comes strolling out and casually sits on the sofa across from me. She’s in full-on Domme garb for just such an occasion.

“I was wondering when you were going to come and see me,” she says, crossing her legs. “You’re all over the news with everything that’s going on with Petra. Then you become scarce and people have no idea what to think unless you clarify things for them.”

“You know I don’t care what people think, Max,” I say.

“Not even me?” she asks with a raised brow. I twist my lips.

“Of course, I care what you think,” I correct her. “You hear anything from Golden these days?”

“Not since our last conversation when she made that request about you,” she admits. “I haven’t heard from her since then.”

“I know for certain that she was in the club since then,” because I saw her myself.

“You asked if I had heard from her,” she points out. “I haven’t. I don’t keep tabs on every time someone comes into the club unless they’re a problem, Trey. I know that you haven’t been here much only because some of the regular girls have been asking for you. I know that she and Petra had a falling-out right around the time that you and Petra had a falling out. And of course, Petra was banned after she brutalized one of her submissives—I didn’t want that stigma attached to my club. Now of course, someone offed Petra, so that’s a moot point.”

“It is, indeed” I confirm.

“What’s the story there, Trey?” she asks. “First, the three of you are frequenting the club two or three times a week, then suddenly, no Golden. Shortly thereafter, no you. And of course, no Petra. You guys have come and gone every now and then that I’ve heard, but not like before. What gives?”

“Petra was a lying, conniving, and violent bitch. And Golden…” What the hell? I don’t know what’s going on with Golden either. “I’m… trying my hand at a relationship,” I say, changing the subject. Her brow furrows.

“With Golden?” she asks, surprised.

“No!” I say, more forcefully than I intend. “A… civilian, for lack of a better word.” She twists her lips.

“How’s that working out for you?” she inquires.

“We’ll see,” I say, leaning forward on my elbows. She leans forward, too.

“Completely vanilla?” she asks. My turn to twist my lips.

“As vanilla as I can get,” I reply. “I need my kink, but I discovered that I didn’t need the sadism stuff.”

“Then… why are you here?” she asks. I don’t make eye contact with her. Yeah… why am I here? Can I really do this relationship stuff with Ronnie? Or am I just fooling myself to get Golden and her whips out of my head?

And her mouth…
And her body…
Her ass…
Her smell…
Fuck!

I stand from the sofa and grab my jacket.

“A pleasure as always, Max,” I say, donning my jacket.

“You know you’re always welcome,” she says with a smile, about as confident as I am that this relationship shit is going to work out.

“See ya ‘round.”

*-*

“We need to talk,” Ronnie says, showing up at my apartment after work midweek. I don’t mind. I told her that she could come by anytime she wants, but something’s different today.

“Sure, come on in.” I close the door after her and follow her into the great room. “What’s up?” She walks over to the fireplace, then turns to face me.

“I think this is where I should get off, handsome,” she says with a small smile. I frown.

“What do you mean?” I ask. “Get off what?”

“This ride,” she says with no malice. “It was really fun, but it’s not going any further.” I sigh.

“You’re breaking up with me,” I say. It’s a statement, not a question. She chuckles.

“If you can call it that,” she says. “You’re still hung up on that girl.” I shake my head.

“I never had that girl,” I reply.

“Yes, you did,” she retorts in her way. “You had her once, and it fucked you up. And as much as you’ve tried to move on, you can’t. You care about her and you’ve got unfinished business.”

That’s the same fucking thing she said.

“And the fact that you knew exactly who I was talking about without me being specific is proving my point. You either have to make things right with her or you’ve got to move on, but you’re not going to be able to get past it until you do.” I fall onto the sofa.

“This is really depressing,” I declare. “I’m not good at relationships at all, BDSM or vanilla.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” Veronica says, sitting down next to me. “I think you just haven’t found the right girl.”

“I thought you were the right girl,” I protest.

“Tell me you don’t see her when you close your eyes,” she says, softly. I hold my head down. “I’ve felt that before, too, Christian. It means that you’re human, but you’ve got to get past it, and I can’t be the rebound girl.”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” I say honestly.

“Hey,” she says, putting her hand on my cheek so that I raise my eyes to hers. “I’m not hurt,” she says with a smile. “You’ve got some great moves and we had a great time, but neither of us are in love.” She cups my face with both hands.

“You didn’t lie to me, Christian,” she says. “You didn’t deceive me or lead me on. You gave it to me straight and I appreciate that. But because I was your friend first, I know that you’re broken in here, or at least bruised.” She points to my chest. “You have to fix that before you can move on—with me, with her, with anybody. Maybe I could have been the right girl, just not right now.”

“Fuck, I hate this,” I groan. She’s perfect for me. She’s funny, she’s sarcastic, she’s beautiful—not the huge ass, but I could deal with that… but she’s right. This isn’t meant to be.

“I… still want us to be friends,” I say, taking her hands, “not in that tragic cliché way, but… like we were before. Can we do that? Is it possible?” She looks into my eyes.

“Do you love me?” she asks and raises her brow waiting for an answer. I nod.

“Yeah,” I say, “I think I do… but as a friend.” She smiles a wide smile.

“Then I’ll see you at lunch tomorrow,” she says. I sigh and wrap my arms around her. She returns my embrace and we sit there for a moment. When we release, she kisses my forehead.

“Don’t act all strange on me, okay?” she says. I nod.

“I won’t,” I promise. She walks to the door and we hold hands until the last possible moment. She turns around and looks back at me.

“Tomorrow,” she says.

“Lunch is on me,” I say. “Corned beef on rye, 11:00.”

“I’ll see you then,” she smiles and closes the door behind her.

How the fuck do I feel relieved and shitty at the same time?

Max was right.

That shit with Ronnie didn’t last a month. She’s beautiful and willing, but she wasn’t enough… and she wasn’t what I wanted. As it turns out, I wasn’t what she wanted either. I’m glad she ended it first. I really didn’t want to hurt her.

So, what the hell do I want? Do I want a relationship? Do I want a Domme? Do I want to be a Dom? Do I just want mindless sex with several women until my eyes pop out? What the hell do I really want?

I walk over to the bar and pour myself a shot of Jack and throw it back. I pour a second one throwing it back just as quickly before I slam the glass down on the counter and head to bed.


A/N:  So, vanilla didn’t really work for Trey. Then again, we knew that it wouldn’t… and Golden is a slobbering mess. Both characters have come way out of their comfort zones. What will the next few chapters hold?  

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

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~~love and handcuffs

Fifty Shades Golden: Chapter 21

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

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

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

 Chapter 21

Briana Evigan 22 2

GOLDEN

I soon get the answers to the questions I have about Reynard. He’s looking for a windfall of money because his childhood home is in arrears on its taxes. He doesn’t have long before his mother’s house—the house he lived in his entire life except when he was married—will be auctioned off for back taxes.

What’s so sad is that had he come to me and told me that he thought he may have been Daddy’s son, I would have sat down and talked to him, found out why he felt that way, and I may have even helped him with the taxes. Now, he can kiss my ass and live on the streets for all I care.

His mom died eight months ago from cervical cancer. All of their funds went to her hospital bills, which is why there was nothing left to pay the property taxes. In fact, she still has bills remaining that need to be paid—something else that I could have helped his selfish ass with had he approached me the right way.

He’s an only child, unless you consider the fact that he thinks I’m his sister. There was no one there to help him take care of his dying mother; no assistance with the bills or the hospital care; and I almost feel sorry for him having to sit there and watch her rot. I guess it’s better in a way that my parents were ripped away quickly as opposed to watching them suffer and die.

Then again, he did at least get to say goodbye, so I don’t know which situation is worse.

His children are 7, 9 and 12. His marriage broke up a few short years after it began. His first child, his son, was born out of wedlock and the middle boy and youngest girl were a result of his short marriage. He and his wife don’t speak, and she didn’t help with his mother’s care even though they still live in Tacoma. She did, however, bring the children to their grandmother’s funeral.

The only thing that he has that he can use to identify my father as his father are some old pictures of Daddy and his mother together. They were clearly intimate, but that doesn’t mean that this man is my father’s son. I don’t know what his mother told him or what secret she may have taken to her grave, but that man looks nothing like my father, not even like my horrible uncle. I don’t know what to tell him besides to go the hell away.

So, that brings us to today. I’ve heard nothing from brother dear, nothing from Blondie or her sheisty lawyer trying to get a settlement…

And nothing from Trey.

I’ve tried not to count the weeks, thinking that he would get over the last scene and would have come back by now, or at least would have texted or called demanding an explanation, but… nothing. It’s been over two months and I haven’t seen him at any of the clubs, he hasn’t called…

Why am I so concerned about this? Clients come and they go. I’ve gone through more than two months doing what I do and getting my Golden back—and enjoying myself in the process—but in the back of my mind, I still expect him to call or text eventually looking for a scene and he just doesn’t.

Clients have left before. The splendor wore off for them or they found something new… or someone new… and they went on their way. It’s no big deal… right?

“Blake,” I call as I’m sitting in my parlor after a night at one of the clubs.

“Yes, Mistress?” he says, coming into the parlor.

“That last night that Trey was here, do you remember?”

“Yes, Mistress, I remember,” he says without hesitating.

“What did he say to you when he left?” I ask. Blake shakes his head, bemused.

“He… didn’t say anything, Mistress.” I frown.

“What do you mean he didn’t say anything? He didn’t excuse himself?” Blake shakes his head again.

“Nothing, Mistress,” he reinforces. “He didn’t even look at me.”

He didn’t even look at him. He didn’t excuse himself; he didn’t say anything; and now he’s radio fucking silent. I should go over to his apartment and barge in on him like he did me.

No, that will never do.

“Thank you, Blake,” I say. He nods once and leaves.

I really haven’t had a client just leave, not without a word. Either they met someone or decided to become Doms themselves or some other lifestyle change caused them to not want to continue our arrangement. Either way, they always gave me an explanation, always terminated the arrangement cordially, always said goodbye…

None of them ever just disappeared.

I think I’m more perturbed that it appears he doesn’t need me anymore and he doesn’t even have the decency to say so. What kind of asshole just disappears without a word?

The kind of asshole that doesn’t want what you’re dishing out anymore.

This isn’t how this is supposed to go. This is why they only get a taste once a month. Once they got a taste of me, they couldn’t get enough. They crave me. They always have to have more. They could never stay away. But Trey is different…

He could stay away, and he is.

I’ve lost control… control of myself and my situation. I let him affect me too much. I got all loopy because of a stupid kiss brought on by my dick-mesmerized brain. I didn’t even really kiss him—I kissed his dick… just through his lips. Now, I’m fucking letting my feelings of anger along with my loss of control interfere with the situation and it caused me to forget my fucking mantra.

Make. Them. Want. You.

He’s not wanting me now. I sent him away twitching and horny and needy and now, he’s associating me with the lack of pleasure. Before, he was pulled to his wits end and then he came like a fountain. Now, he was pulled to his wits end and then, in my anger, I left him hanging.

Make them dream about you when you’re not there; crave you when you’re not around.
Tease them with a promise… deliver satisfaction, but don’t give them all of you…

I didn’t deliver satisfaction. I delivered sexual frustration, and then I let him leave that way. By doing that, I unwittingly gave him power by tormenting him with no reward, then telling him, “take it or leave it,” and it appears that he’s left it. No tribute, not a text, not a call, nothing for nearly three months.

This will never do.

**My house. Tomorrow 8pm. We have unfinished business. **


eric-dane-wallpaper Trey chapter 9

TREY

Quite a bit has been transpiring all at once.

I’ve discovered that all this time the Lincolns have been together, they don’t have a damn prenup. They’ve both been freely fucking anybody they want—except each other—without the luxury of a divorce because it would most likely cost them both too much money. That’s kind of funny.

To that end, Linc has been living at the Four Seasons while out on bail for battering his wife and Mrs. Linc has been residing in their home in Kirkland. The Kirkland police officially brought her up on charges of filing a false report against me. The crime carries a possible sentence of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine. I hear that she’ll likely get off on those charges since she got some quack to say that she made her statement under diminished capacity. Personally, I’d like to be able to see or hear the statement that she made fingering me as her attacker. If she was all loopy and shit, I’ll give her this one. But if she was cognizant and lucid, the bitch set me up, and the court will see that, too.

My court date for the assault in my office is November 13. It’s about damn time. It only took a whole fucking year! Even though my arm is about at 90%, it never completely healed without pain and I truly want that bitch to pay. If I really think about it, Elena has been the root of everything wrong in my life for more than a year.

She assaulted me in my office, causing me injury and continuing pain.

She had me wrongfully arrested and detained.

My once somewhat private life has been smeared all over the tabloids and media, requiring friends and colleagues to come to my defense.

Her fucking shenanigans let the dredges of society that are my father and brother see right into my business and situations, and both of them tried to hem me up somehow.

And Golden… let’s fucking not forget Golden.

I could have seen her, maybe lusted after her a bit, and then went on my merry little way. But no, this blonde cunt had to taunt me with what I couldn’t have. And my dumb ass fell for it. It was all a game to me at first. Get a pretty piece of ass and win the prize—that’s all I really wanted—but Elena, and Golden, had to make it out to be more.

I watched scenes before with no problem, even had some sub somewhere sucking my dick while I watched some Dom or Domme work over some willing participant in one of the exhibition rooms. Then here comes this Sunshine Sadist and she rewrites everything I thought I knew about BDSM. I thought I wanted to beat and torment women when all I really wanted to do was come—hard and often. I just needed some kink to get there.

That’s why pain whores always turned me off. I wasn’t really into inflicting pain, but I still like the control of being a Dominant, of making a woman my sex toy, making her bend to my will—to my every command. I like the bondage, the Dominance, and the submission. I never needed the discipline—unless it specifically had to do with fucking—or the sadism. But it appears that I have a hidden masochist in there.

Now, I’m beginning to feel like it’s an addiction, but it’s only half the high. I don’t just get off on the pain and I don’t just want to hurt. The pain was always immediately followed by the pleasure and the two blended together, creating some insane orgasms. Whenever I fucked later, I recalled the pain at specific points and the pleasure that followed. With this last scene, she took that away from me.

I didn’t realize how much I was under her control. I thought that even though I wasn’t fucking her and would most likely never fuck her that our relationship was still a give and take. She has a skill that opens new horizons for me—pushes me the mental and physical distance and when I’ve gone as far as I can go, she takes me over the edge in a spectacular fashion. It was magnificent. I ached for it. I craved it. I would have done anything she asked. I commissioned two sculptures for Christ’s sake.

And then came that kiss. That fucking kiss ruined it all. It blew my mind and whether she wants to admit it or not, it blew hers, too. She always does things to blow my mind. Why would I think this was any different?

All I wanted to know was why… why did she kiss me? She had never kissed me before. Like Vivian Ward said, “It’s too personal.” At least it was for us. So, why did she do it? Then she sends back my tribute, telling me that the kiss was a mistake. The only gift she ever returned was the gold collar, and I gave that back. She even wore it for a scene. If it was just a pair of lips and the kiss meant nothing, why send the lips back?

And let’s not talk about the fact that she wouldn’t return my calls or texts, so I go out to her house to see if she was okay. Who am I fooling? I went out to her house to confront her. But when I get there, I find her all hugged up with some black guy all cozy with him declaring that he’s in the running for more when she made it very clear that she wasn’t even remotely interested in that kind of relationship.

Was I pissed? Yes. Maybe even a little jealous? Maybe a little. Did I want that kind of relationship with her? Hell if I know. My last relationship was a flaming failure and that’s not an experience that I’m rushing to repeat, but I would have at least liked to have the chance if that was an option—even if I might have just turned it down.

We had the perfect arrangement for us before that damn kiss. Then, it all went south.

Feelings are messy. Relationships are messy. At the first sign of any connection, we should run for the hills, but the truth is that I don’t want to be this guy forever. I certainly don’t want to be like my father. Hell, I don’t know what the hell I want.

I’d like very much to stop feeling shitty, and to stop thinking about this woman and this situation every waking moment, please and thank you.

Before all this shit happened, I had memories of those hot ass scenes that more than assisted in my subsequent sexual escapades. Assisted in fact is an understatement. But this last time, this last bullshit, I have nothing but sexual frustration to recollect. I don’t need that shit.

*-*

“You’ve got that look again,” Veronica says as I sit next to her on our usual bench.

“What look?” I say, handing her a corned beef on rye and a soda from the carrier.

“That ‘I lost the big account’ look that you had when we first met, only you’re the boss, so I know that’s not it.” She takes a bite of her sandwich. We’ve been meeting for lunch at least twice a week since we met. We’ve had nothing but lunchtime conversations. I walked her back to her building once when it started raining. She shared her lunch with me earlier in the week when I didn’t bring anything, so I promised to bring her lunch today to pay her back.

“This is good,” she says. “Where did you get it?”

“The cafeteria at my building,” I say, biting into a pastrami and swiss on a Keiser roll.

“I should make you bring me lunch more often,” she says, taking another bite of her sandwich. We’re both silent while we eat for a few moments.

“So, who’s the girl?” she asks. I raise my gaze to her.

“You’ve been less than stellar for at least the last month and a half, CG. Maybe more. You don’t want to tell me who the girl is, you don’t have to. Just know that I know there’s a girl.” I look at my sandwich.

“It’s complicated,” I say before taking a bite.

“Don’t I know it,” she says, sipping on her soda. What the hell does that mean?

“Don’t look at me like that,” she defends. “you’re complicated. Everything about you is complicated. Even the way you dress is complicated. I’ve seen you sport Dolce and Gabbana, Anderson & Sheppard, Cesar Paciotti, and Tom Ford all in the same week. You own a glass building in the middle of the concrete jungle. Yeah, I’d say it’s complicated.” I shake my head.

“You have no idea, Veronica,” I say, eating more of my sandwich.

“Well, tell me,” she says. “How bad can it be? Is she a devil worshipper or something?” she pokes.

“Sometimes I wonder,” I say before I even think about it. She raises a brow.

“I see. So, we’re talking weird.” She takes a drink of her soda. “Is she a sister wife? Is that what you’re into—a different wife and family every night?”

“Um, no,” I say firmly.

“Okay, weird, but not sister-wives. You’re not in a cult, are you?” Oh, for God’s sake.

“No, my tastes just tend toward the very kinky.”

Fuck, did I just say that out loud??

“Oh, we’re all into some kind of kink,” she says without missing a beat. “What are you doing, whips and chains?”

“Sometimes,” I reply unfazed. She stops chewing and swallows her food.

“I was joking,” she says. I shrug. It’s out there now.

“Sometimes,” I reinforce. She shakes her head.

“You are one strange bird, CG,” she says, taking a bite of her sandwich. “So, what, this girl didn’t want to do the whips and chains anymore?”

“Something like that,” I tell her without giving her too much information. “This kind of arrangement, it’s a give and take, as with any arrangement, relationship, situationship, fill in the blank. The difference is that you give yourself to someone in this kind of arrangement on a higher level than you would in a normal relationship. The level of trust that you must have in this kind of relationship is exponentially higher than that of a regular relationship. You’re trusting someone totally with your body, and it’s more than sex and more than having an orgasm. It’s trusting someone to know your limits and respect them, and when that trust is broken, it usually can’t be restored.”

“Wow,” she says after sipping her soda and finishing her sandwich. “I’m a bit intrigued… and frightened,” she says sarcastically. “I never pegged you for the whole Disturbia type. So, do you, like, wrap yourself in latex or walk around in assless pants or something like that?”

I nearly spray my soda. I love this girl’s sense of humor.

“No, no,” I say once I’ve composed myself, “but I have seen it.”

“So…” she looks around conspiratorially, “is it as weird as everybody says it is? I’ve seen some pretty creepy shit on the internet.” I shake my head.

“Don’t believe everything you see on the internet,” I chide. “There are some really sick fucks out there. I haven’t seen half the things I’ve seen on the internet.”

“So, most of that stuff that we see on the web is sensational then,” she deduces.

“Well, not necessarily,” I say. “There are as many aspects to this lifestyle as there are nationalities in the world, if not more. It’s pretty ala carte depending on your flavor. There are people who are, like you said, just into a little kink and then there are people who are into some really creepy shit. I’m more towards the kink side.”

“So, the whips and chains… are you the whipper or the whippee?” and I want to laugh again, but it’s a valid question.

“I’ve been both,” I admit.

“And… which do you prefer?” she prods.

“They both have their benefits,” I say. Although I’m trying to forget it, lately, I’ve preferred being the whippee. “Like I said, for the most part as of late, it’s just been the kink.”

“Wow, you just never know by looking at somebody,” she says. “So, did some girl break… oh, shit!” She looks at her watch and scrambles to gather her trash.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“I’m late!” she says. “My boss isn’t a ball-buster, but still…” She throws her trash into the receptacle. “Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow, CG,” she says as she begins to hurry down the lane.

“Wait,” I say, catching up with her as she begins to speed walk. “Why don’t you have dinner with me?” She raises her brow.

“CG, I didn’t know you cared,” she says, fluttering her eyelashes dramatically. I chuckle again.

“You’re good company, okay?” I admit. “If we’re going to share a meal together, I’d like for it to be more than just an hour.”

“I don’t know,” she says. “I’m not into all that whippee/chainie shit,” she adds in her usual playful manner.

“I’m not trying to fuck you, Veronica,” but I’d be remiss to say the thought hadn’t crossed my mind once or twice, “I’d just like to have a meal with you. I’ll tell you what. Don’t decide now. If you’d like to have dinner with me, meet me in the lobby of my building at 5:30 tomorrow evening. If you decide you’d rather not, no hard feelings, I’ll see you at lunch. Deal?” I proffer my hand to her. She twists her lips.

“Deal,” she says, shaking my hand. “Now, unless you’re going to give me a job, I have to leave. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow,” she says again and takes off down the lane again.

Oh, boy. Dinner with a real girl. I haven’t done this since Juliet, but I did tell her that I’m not trying to fuck her… which I’m not. I don’t think she could handle me. I just didn’t want her to leave thinking I’m some kind of weirdo. I just practice a non-conventional lifestyle, that’s all.

What the hell am I getting myself into?

*-*

I’ve taken a shower and changed into jeans and a linen shirt for dinner with a comfortable pair of deck shoes. I don’t want Veronica to feel uncomfortable during our dinner. She’s nice and I just want to get to know her a little better. I don’t have any friends, to speak of. Maybe this will expand my horizons to new relationships. I’m a little old to be an island.

She showed up at 5:30pm at Grey House as I requested, but she insisted on being able to go home and change into more comfortable clothing, adding that, “No self-respecting woman would go to a man’s house for the first time and not have her car available.” I get that. We’ve had a lot of lunches, but nothing as intimate as dinner at the other’s house.

I open the door when she arrives and she’s a bit stunned.

“Wow,” she says. “You dress down nicely.”

“So do you,” I say, taking a moment to admire her figure in tight skinny jeans, a T-shirt, and a light jacket. However, I don’t stare too long. “Come in,” I add, stepping aside to allow her in.

“I should have known you’d have a set-up like this,” she says, taking off her jacket and revealing a very nice-looking rack—not too big and not too small. She doesn’t have the big ass I’ve come to like, but her curves leave nothing lacking.

Dammit, Grey. Stop checking her out! That’s not the purpose of this visit.

“You can just put your jacket and purse there on the sofa if you like,” I say, going into the kitchen. “There’s no one else here but my staff and they’re tucked away unless I call them.”

“Staff?” she asks, placing her jacket and purse on the sofa.

“My security and housekeeper,” I say, taking a bottle from the refrigerator and retrieving two glasses. “I’m a wine drinker with dinner, but knowing that you were driving, I opted for sparkling grape. Is that okay?”

“Perfect,” she replies. I place the two glasses on the counter and open the grape juice.

“Please, have a seat,” I say, gesturing to the stool at the breakfast bar. She sits and I fill our glasses, uncovering a tray of antipasto and crudité to share before dinner.

“I was feeling like I was underdressed coming to this place,” she says. “I’m glad to see that you’re comfortably casual, too. How do you live here, CG? I’d be afraid I’d break something.” And her wit begins immediately.

“You get used to it,” I say, eating some of the antipasto and sipping my drink.

“Oh, yeah, I bet it was agony,” she quips, and our light lunchtime banter starts anew.

Throughout hors d’oeuvres and part of dinner, I find out that Veronica is from Seattle and her parents still live here. She’s the youngest of five with two brothers and two sisters, and the only one with a college degree. She’s still very close to one of her brothers and cordial, for lack of a better word, with one brother and one sister. She lost the other sister in a drug deal gone wrong.

She has no children as, even though she dates, she hasn’t met the right guy yet. All of her other brothers and sisters have married and had children, including the one that passed away, and her parents constantly ask when she’s going to give them some grandchildren.

“I always tell them, ‘Mom, Dad, you have 14 grandchildren. Lighten up.’ Anyway, I don’t think it’s in the stars for me.”

She talks about how she doesn’t see falling in love anytime soon and without that very special someone, kids aren’t an option—especially since she’s hoping to make partner sometime very soon.

“The boss didn’t give me any flack for being late from lunch the other day,” she says. “I’ve never been any kind of late since the day I started working for the company. He didn’t even notice until I apologized. This is really good,” she says of the roast chicken and spaghetti carbonara. “Did you cook it yourself?” she teases. I twist my lips at her.

“I can,” I retort, sticking my tongue out at her, “but no, my housekeeper cooked for us tonight.”

“So, CG, you haven’t told me what’s had you in a mood,” she says. “You started telling me about your lifestyle, but I want to know what has your face dragging the ground. And since I’ve seen that hound-dog-jowls look before, I know it’s a girl, so don’t bother trying to deny it.” She eats more of her pasta. I roll my eyes.

“It’s not what you think it is,” I tell her. “I’m not in any kind of relationship, but I had an arrangement—for lack of a better word—with this… girl,” although Golden is anything but simply a girl. “The lifestyle is discreet and hard to explain to someone unfamiliar with it, but the best way I can explain it is that I feel like she broke our deal.” Veronica twists her lips.

“I see,” she says. “It’s this secret-Red-Door-type of thing, so you can’t be too specific. There’s obviously nothing illegal going on, or you wouldn’t be talking to me about it. This arrangement you had with this girl, was it exclusive?”

“Not at all,” I reply, “but the way that we practice in the lifestyle, the rules are very strict, and everything is very safe. Certain clubs require a doctor’s clearance every six months. Certain relationships are even structured with contracts and non-disclosure agreements. The BDSM lifestyle is a lot more prevalent than a lot of people think.” She nods.

“Sooooooo…” she says, dragging the word out, “what happened? She put the pussy on you, and it blew your mind?” I chuckle at her candor.

“What’s tragic is that we haven’t had any kind of penetrative sex, unless you include oral,” I admit. “It’s just not in our agreement.”

“You two have one of those contracts?” she inquires. I shake my head.

“Not a written one,” maybe that was my mistake. “It’s mostly non-verbal. Apparently, however, I assumed some unspoken rules that I shouldn’t have.”

“You stepped wrong, CG?” she asks, drinking some of her grape juice.

“No,” I say regretfully, “she did… twice.” I stand and gather our plates. “Would you like seconds? Be sure to leave room for dessert.”

“Well, if there’s dessert, I better not take seconds,” she says, wiping her lips with her napkin. I clear the dishes from the breakfast bar, scrape the scraps into the garbage disposal and load the used dishes into the dishwasher.

“You’re quite domestic,” she teases with a chuckle. I scoff.

“Not even,” I say, retrieving two more glasses and two dessert plates from the cupboard. “I just know how to clean up after myself.” I retrieve dessert and a bottle of wine from the refrigerator. “I hope you like key lime pie.”

“I love key lime pie,” she says as I place it on the breakfast bar in front of us. “Ironically, I once had a boyfriend who would eat no other dessert, but key lime pie.”

“Wow,” I say plating the pie for each of us. “That’s a very narrow choice.”

“He was very narrow-minded,” she replies. “That relationship didn’t last long.” I raise a brow as I uncork the wine.

“Care to elaborate, or is it a tender topic?” I ask, as I pour the wine.

“It’s not tender at all, and I thought you said ‘no wine,’” she accuses.

“Except with dessert,” I reply, putting the bottle on the counter. “This is a Sauvignon Blanc. I didn’t even pour you a full serving since I know that you’re driving, but you’re going to want to sip this as you’re eating your key lime pie. It should be an experience. It should not be forced or rushed.”

“Oh, I get it,” she says, putting a small serving on her fork. “Archie used to take huge clumps of it like it would run away if he didn’t eat it quickly.” I laugh.

“Taste the forkful,” I coax, and she puts the fork in her mouth. “Now, don’t just chew and swallow. Let it coat your tongue a little.” I can tell that she’s moving the pie around in her mouth so that each section is coated before she swallows.

“That’s very good,” she says. I nod.

“Now, take a small sip of your wine—not too much, just enough to compliment the flavor of the pie.” She sips the wine and lets it flow down her throat.

“That’s delicious!” she says.

“See?” I say. “The correct wine paring with dessert can be the perfect conclusion of a great meal.” I cut a piece of the pie with my fork. “Tell me you’ve tried other desserts besides key lime.” I eat the forkful and chase it with the wine.

“I have but he hasn’t,” she says, eating more of her pie.

“You were elaborating before you chided me about the wine.” She nods as she swallows another sip of the wine.

“Basically, his parents were staunch fundamentalists, and that’s how they raised him. If it was fun or different, it was wrong in their eyes, and a lot of that training syphoned through to him.”

“So, of course, no premarital sex, no secular music…” I begin.

“Oh, it was much more than that,” she says. “He couldn’t go to or watch movies at all. School functions like dances or festivals were out of the question. He couldn’t do any social things like arcades, the Space Needle, hang out with his friends, nothing like that. So, when he grew up and he moved out on his own, he took all that with him.

“He admitted that he couldn’t wait to be free of his parents because they were so strict, and he felt like he couldn’t breathe. He wanted to be out in the world and experience things on his own, but once he got out there, he couldn’t break away from his old traditions. I was afraid I was going to end up somewhere churning butter and sewing aprons with the other womenfolk!” I burst out laughing.

“Oh, God, that was bad,” I say finishing my pie and refilling my wine.

Very bad,” she confirms. “The key lime pie, it’s just all she ever made, so that’s all he ever ate. Getting him to try a different dessert was impossible. So, you know sex was completely out of the question. That was a deal breaker. Who wants to date a guy that’ll barely even kiss them?” she shakes her head but doesn’t finish her wine.

“Would you like something else to drink?” I ask. “More grape juice or some water?”

“Water’s a good idea,” she says. “Dinner was delicious and despite my prior experience, that pie was superb.” I nod as I get a bottle of water from the refrigerator. “So,” she continues as she opens the bottle, “tell me your story. All I know is that you practice some kinky lifestyle and you’re hung up on some girl that you shouldn’t be hung up on.” I roll my eyes.

“I’m not hung up on her,” I protest. Veronica waves her hand.

“Semantics,” she says. “There’s some girl in some kinky lifestyle. What else is there to know about CG?” I twist my brow.

“Honestly, not much really,” I say. “I was raised in Washington, too. I grew up in Bellevue.”

“Ooo, fancy,” she teases.

“Not so much,” I say. “We were fairly well off, but not like the other families in Bellevue. We weren’t really wealthy until later.” She nods.

“Okay.”

“Nothing really dramatic about my childhood,” I admit. “I was dating this girl, Juliet…”

“That’s her real name?” she asks with twisted lips.

“That’s her real name, and I really shouldn’t have told you.” I take a drink of my wine. “Anyway, we weren’t compatible. So, we broke up—nothing so dramatic as key lime pie or fear of becoming a puritan.” She chuckles. “A little while after that, I literally stumbled on some information about BDSM and someone close to me introduced me to it.”

“You don’t have one of those rooms here, do you?” she asks.

“Excuse me?” I’m caught off guard by the question. When we last talked, she didn’t know anything about BDSM.

“I did a little research after we talked,” she admits. “I was coming to your house. I didn’t want any surprises.”

“Did you think you were going to walk into a big BDSM sanctum?” I ask, shocked.

“I didn’t know what I was going to walk into,” she says. “I didn’t think I had anything to worry about, but I still didn’t know.” I cross my arms.

“Is that why you insisted on driving? Tell the truth.” She shrugs.

“Yes, and no,” she confesses. “I’m the type of girl who feels like she should always be able to pay for her own meal on her first date and she should always be able to get home on her own. That’s why I wanted to drive. And plus, I didn’t know what to think.”

“But we agreed this isn’t a date,” I point out.

“But I did come to your house,” she retorts. I shake my head.

“Well,” I say, gesturing around the apartment, “as you can see, no BDSM sanctum. And I don’t have a dungeon,” I stress. “I have a room where I ‘entertain,’ and there may be a toy or two in there, but not dungeon.” She nods.

“Okay, so you got into BDSM because some girl broke your heart?”

“You must think I’m a real sap,” I reply.

“Why do you say that?”

“Because, yes, I have a girl—a woman—on my mind, and yes, I feel slighted by her. So, the situation has me a bit preoccupied, but you’ve got me ‘pining’ over her. I’m not pining. Then, I tell you that I broke up with a girl because we were incompatible, and you’ve got me in whips and chains because I’m heartbroken. Did you stop eating key lime pie or going to movies because of Puritan Boy?” I ask.

“No!” she says, somewhat affronted.

“Well, then, stop trying to make me a sociology project,” I state. “You want to know some things, I’m glad to share, but I’m not broken, Veronica.”

“Sheesh, sensitive much?” she comments. “And call me Ronnie, for goodness sake. Only my dad calls me Veronica. It makes me feel like I’m in trouble.” I shake my head again.

“You’re a nut, you know that?” I declare. She shrugs.

“Tell me something I don’t know.” I roll my eyes again.

“I got into BDSM because I wanted to try something different,” I say. “I wanted to see if it would spice up my sex life, and it did.”

“How?” she asks.

“Well, imagine having your pick of partners—clean partners—who are willing to do whatever you want depending on your flavor. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. They don’t do anything they don’t want to do, but you both get to explore your level of kink in a safe, sane, and consensual environment. You can be as extreme as you want or you can be as tame as you want, but whatever you do, you write your own rules.

“Some people may decide that they want multiple partners while others may want just one. It can be experimental, where each of you are playing and deciding what you do and do not like, or it can be very structured, like the contracts.”

“Is there swinging involved?” she asks, “Like wife sharing?”

“There could be, yeah,” I tell her, “but again, only on a consensual basis.” She nods.

“I don’t know if that’s for me,” she says.

“It’s definitely not for everybody,” I say. “If you ever are interested, or even just want to watch, I can take you some places where folks won’t jump your bones or harass you. It’s not as scary as it looks or sounds on the internet, but again, it’s not for everybody.”

“So,” she continues. “How did CG become the Christian Grey?”

I get a feeling that she wants to change the subject. I tell her the story about how I got into Harvard but realized that I didn’t need a college education to open my business. So, I dropped out, got a small business loan, and the business ain’t so small no more. That, of course, led to the eternal feud that my sister and I are having because she couldn’t go to Harvard and I dropped out. We talk a little more about disastrous relationships, family tithes, and the financial and business hopes of the future before we agree that it’s getting late and she should get home. We agree to do dinner again soon and lunch as usual and I tell her to please call or text me to let me know that she has gotten home safely.

I pour myself another glass of wine, turn off the lights and head for my bedroom. I have to admit, it’s good to have someone to talk to. I can talk about Golden without using her name; talk about my lifestyle without somebody running for the fucking hills; I can even talk about my crazy ass family.

Once in my bedroom, I change into some pajama pants and a T-shirt and climb into bed. I take out my phone to review a few emails before I go to sleep, and I see that I have a text.

Is Ronnie home already? That was fast. She must live in the neighborhood. I swipe the screen and discover that the text is not from Ronnie:

**My house. Tomorrow 8pm. We have unfinished business. **

Is she insane? Does she think I want more of that submissive treatment? She’s out of her fucking mind if she thinks I want to be subjected to that again. What the hell else do we have to say to each other if she thinks she can subject me to that? She knows what she did, and there’s no mistaking how I feel about it, so what use is there for me to drive out to her house?

She summoned me.

She’s never summoned me before.

What the fuck is this all about? I’m not dumb enough to expect an apology, but my curiosity is killing me.

I don’t care what she says or what she does, how good she looks or what she’s wearing. I’m not going to let her get me in that dungeon again and work me up just to leave me hanging. I’m a client, and she’s turning me into a submissive. She knows exactly what she’s doing. She’s stringing me out thinking I’m going to come back begging for more. Not going to happen, Golden.


Briana Evigan 16

GOLDEN

It’s a brisk September Saturday, and I wake up with a mission. I’ve more than gotten my swagger back and I’m ready to face the world…

And one insolent client.

But before I do that, there are a few matters that require the attention of Anastasia Olivet, Esq.

I’m very pleased to give Blake the news that his divorce was signed, sealed, and delivered yesterday. It’s now time for him to move on with his life. I’m surprised to find that he has things that are still stored at the home that he has now left to his wife.

“Blake, why didn’t you tell me this before?” I ask. She could have done anything with those things by now.”

“I was more concerned with getting out of the house and away from her, Mistress,” he confesses. “They are things that I would like to retrieve if I can, but if I can’t…” he trails off.

I’ve met this woman. She’s scorned on many levels, whether she deserves to be or not.

“Did you leave anything valuable in the home?” I ask. “Any keepsakes?”

“There may have been a few things of significant value,” he says. “Keepsakes? I’m not sure. I won’t know unless I see them.” I sigh.

“Blake, I highly advise against going back to that house,” I warn. “At best, you’re going to find your things completely destroyed if you find them at all.” He nods.

“I’m aware of this, Mistress,” he says, “but I need to make sure that there’s nothing there that belongs to me.”

I’ve never been to Blake’s home. It’s a beautiful estate on the sound with the long, private driveway and a multi-car garage. The lawn is finely manicured, and the overall landscaping is impeccable. We’re soon to find out why.

A real estate sign shows that the house is already for sale.

We had hired a moving crew to help him retrieve his things, only to discover when we arrive that his ex-wife had cleaned the house out—all of his things and hers, including every picture of their daughter. We walk around the outside of the house to see if anything had been left.

It had.

In the back of the house is a large storage shed. Inside were several boxes with colorful descriptions on them that had to be translated for me:

Bastard…
Asshole…
Loser…
Murderer…

The list is endless. Inside of each box were fragments of clothing, personal items, books, random pieces of furniture… The boxes were stacked pretty high and at least six rows deep in the back of the shed. Blake calmly opened three boxes and examined their contents before stepping away and deciding not to open any more. I give the moving crew the task of opening and examining each box to see if anything is left still intact.

It takes several hours, but later in the day, we’re informed that everything in the boxes have been destroyed beyond recognition. I tell the crew to leave the boxes in the shed as is and promise them a handsome bonus for their trouble.

During the time that the crew was investigating the boxes, Blake and I go to the garage to ascertain the conditions of the vehicles he had left behind—a late-model Benz, an older Beamer, and a Lexus that was only a few years old. All three vehicles had been stripped down to the frames, and that’s all that remained. Blake is completely emotionless as he stands there, quietly examining his worthless vehicles.

“Blake?” I try to get his attention.

“She wasn’t always like this,” he says, still looking at the frames. “She was once a beautiful, docile woman… a superb wife and an excellent mother. She loved me and our life and our family. She changed when I killed our daughter.

“I don’t know this woman. I never will. I took something precious from her and she’s been broken ever since, and she’s been trying to break me. She succeeded in the beginning, and now her revenge is complete.” I swallow hard. These cars meant something to him even if he doesn’t say so.

“Blake, the cars…” I trail off.

“Trinkets,” he says, “except the BMW. It belonged to mi madre… the last vehicle she drove before she died.” He sighs heavily.

Oh, hell.

“You could sue her, you know,” I tell him, “for the value of the cars and of the things that she destroyed. We have all the proof right here.” He shakes his head.

“It’s no use, Mistress,” he says. “She has the $4 million, the value of the car, the value of the house. She can’t repay me for what she’s done. She can’t repay me for what she’s taken from me, just like I can’t repay her. We are both broken human beings trying to put our lives back together.

“I have made peace with what I did to my Danielle. I hope she finds her peace as well. It’s easier to start over and never have to speak to her again that it would be to chase down those trinkets she took. I won’t remember the monster she has become. I will only ever remember the times when she was still mi alma.

With those words, Blake leaves the garage and pulls out his cell. He does a quick search, then calls a salvage yard to come and retrieve the frames of the cars. Once the frames are removed, we quietly leave the estate.

As for my other situation, I wish I could say that I was cool as a cucumber today. I sent a text to Trey to meet me at my house this evening and I’m not completely sure that I’m ready for that or that he’ll even come. I know that he hasn’t forgotten me, and if I know him correctly, he’s stewing a bit. I didn’t expect him to send me tribute after that last session, but I also didn’t expect him to go completely radio silent on me.

I’ve reviewed the consequences of leaving a client unsatisfied. Just like any situation, they can choose not to deal with you anymore. But what did he expect? He showed up at my house unannounced and then he left all belligerent and shit. He couldn’t expect not to have any repercussions for that.

But he’s a client, not a submissive…

Be that as it may, I’m still his Mistress, and he didn’t show me that respect. If he doesn’t show me the respect of Mistress, he’s not going to get what Mistress gives, and I don’t care how many hissy fits he has. And dammit, from the very beginning, I told him that I choose. I choose who to engage and when to engage, and I choose when to dismiss. So, he doesn’t get the luxury of being able to just disappear on me like that without a word. You leave that behavior for the Madame Petra’s of the world, I’m not the one.

I head to Gene Juarez for a day of beauty. I do my own Brazilian waxing, but I needed everything else to be buffed, threaded, waxed, trimmed, and curled. If he’s going to be dismissed, let him see what he’s going to be missing. Otherwise, he’ll have to beg for me to take him back as a client.

I’m getting my avocado mask when I hear two other patrons talking about none other than Madame Petra herself.

“I heard that he beat her again,” one woman says.

“It’d serve her right, sleeping with other people’s husbands!” another says. Oh, hell, who did she sleep with.

“I don’t think that’s what it was,” the first girl says. “I think it’s because he wants a divorce and she won’t give him one.”

“Well, that’s what it said in Seattle Snoop,” the first woman counters. “It says right here that Caldwell Lincoln is suspected of battering Elena Lincoln a second time, and that reliable sources reveal that he found her in bed with another man—married—but they won’t reveal his identity.”

Oh, it’s a gossip rag. They got the beating wrong. They’re probably making up the rest. And that was a long time ago. They’re just now breaking that story… or did she get beaten again?

“Think about it, Lisa,” the second girl says. “We’re talking about Seattle Snoop here. Not the best source of information. And as much as they like to splatter people’s names all over their rag, they suddenly won’t reveal the name of the unfaithful husband? They got it from a reliable source, but they can’t reveal his name?”

“Well, I’m just saying,” Lisa says, “there’s probably some truth to what they’re saying. She was in hiding in that house for nearly two months. As much as that woman loves attention, something was going on to keep her locked away in her little cottage.”

“Her Kirkland home is hardly a cottage,” the second woman says. “She’ll be sitting pretty if she gets that in the divorce.”

“Are they really getting divorced?” Lisa asks.

“Wouldn’t you?” the second says. “Think about it. He beats her all to hell the first time and we still don’t know why, then he takes off for the Bahamas. They find him there with other women—they still don’t know who. When he gets back, they’re both cleaning out bank accounts…”

I didn’t know that part.

“… And they’re both accusing each other of assault. The Misses is being sued by some of the ladies that come here because of that fiasco of being bitten by rats or something in her shop…”

Boy, that rumor mill is still as ugly as hell… a whole year later!

“… And she’s being sued by Christian Grey because she fingered him as the person that beat her that night… and I think she’s got some charges against her for something that she did to him.”

“That man’s like a quadrillionaire. What does he expect to get from Elena Lincoln?”

“My guess is that he’s just trying to give her a hard time,” the second lady replies. “I have to look it up, but whatever criminal case against her or whatever it is that involves him is coming up in a couple of months.”

Well, this is valuable information. We need to look into a settlement soon or there may be nothing left to sue for.

“How do you know all this?” Lisa asks.

“Because I do follow the reliable news sources,” the second says, “and speaking of reliable sources, The Seattle Journal had the same questions we do about the divorce. Is it happening? What’s at stake? Blah, blah, blah, and guess what?”

What? What?

“There’s probably no divorce underway that we know of because the Lincolns don’t have a prenup.”

Get the fuck outta here! How did I not know this? It’s time to settle this lawsuit ASAP! Depending on how the wind blows, this could go either way. Blondie could end up with half of a huge estate or she could end up with nothing! Then, she’s got Trey’s lawsuit to contend with and she’s got defenses that she’s going to have to pay for in the near future.

I listen to the ladies talk about Blondie’s woes a little longer. Just about everything they’re saying is way off the mark, although they are giving me some good information, at least a bit here and a bit there that I wasn’t aware of. Linc is apparently living in a hotel and fighting tooth and nail to keep Trey from muscling in on the lumber business. That used to be tribute to me. Now it appears to be more personal, not that I blame the man.

When my day of beauty is over, my eyebrows are threaded, I’ve had a flawless facial, and my hair is a full, gleaming halo of brunette waves. Every inch of my body is as smooth and soft as a baby’s bottom, and my nails and toes are clipped, filed and polished to perfection.

Before dressing to deal with one errant client, I sit down in my study and compose an email to send to the participants of the lawsuit against Blondie. I inform them of the importance of coming to a settlement soon since Lincoln will soon be facing her comeuppance on some very serious legal woes and we may get nothing at all from her even if we win the case. I recommend a non-negotiable $10 million to be split between them once my legal fee has been paid. I won’t take my portion as a participant of the lawsuit since my fee will be one-third of the settlement. They may agree, they may not, but we’ll just have to see.

My chosen attire this evening is more champagne than gold, but it’s sexy as fuck. It’s a spaghetti-string silk dress with a hidden zipper in the back, a plunging neckline, and a mock-wrap waist with a thigh split that comes past my bikini line. It’s full and flowing and beautiful, the skirt a little long so that it can drag behind me when I walk. I’m wearing strappy stiletto sandals that fasten around my ankles with no stockings since my legs are as smooth as ice and my toes are freshly done. A thong would have been overkill, but you can’t go wrong with the nude seamless French-cut panties. A bra is out of the question with the spaghetti straps and the plunging neckline, so I know my nipples are prominent through the dress. My jewelry is very understated—a pair of simple gold earrings and a gold bracelet pushed up to my bicep.

Try to walk away from this, Chopper, I dare you.

I go to the parlor and pour a double-shot of vodka and await my prey. He’s about to learn a very valuable lesson this evening.


A/N: Vivian Ward is Julia Roberts’ character in Pretty Woman.

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~~love and handcuffs