So, apparently in the last chapter, I made a reference to an episode of the Golden Girls and I confused two episodes. Dorothy was suffering from something else completely when she gave the doctor a piece of her mind in the restaurant, not menopause. Somehow, I thought it was menopause. Hopefully, the point I was trying to make didn’t get lost completely in my faux pas. I should have known that something was wrong when I couldn’t find that episode online, but c’est la vie. Sorry, guys.
Sorry for the late post… my internet went out last night.
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 31—The Importance of Compromise
No one can sulk like Christian Grey.
When that man gets a bug up his butt, he can mope around better than a broken-hearted teenage girl. He walked out of our room last night and I swear, all I could see was a toddler having a temper tantrum. When I awoke this morning, I was alone in our bed and I could tell that he hadn’t slept in it. I don’t have time for his little hissy fits. I meant what I said last night. I won’t allow him to punish me when I feel that I’ve done nothing wrong and he’s just going to have to find some other way to deal with that.
I shower and get dressed then go down to the kitchen where I find my husband at the breakfast bar already conducting business over a cup of coffee and nearly-finished breakfast.
“Well, something’s not right with the numbers and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see it. You and Lorenz can look at them and tell me what you come up with. I’ve been mulling over them for weeks. Maybe they just need a fresh eye.”
Another merger with a hidden glitch. It seems quite a few companies have been trying to pull one over on GEH lately. I can’t help but wonder why.
“Well, I’ll be in the office shortly. I’ll send you the link to the latest financials on the network…”
What? He’s going into the office? We’ve got all kinds of shit to discuss for this interview this weekend and Grace is coming home right after lunch.
“Good morning,” I say, once he has ended his call. He raises his gaze to me.
“Good morning,” he responds, and it’s hard to get a read on him.
“We’ve got quite a bit that we should be doing today,” I say, somewhat questioning.
“I know,” he replies. “Everything that needs to be done will get done.” He bottoms out his coffee and stands from the breakfast bar, typing something into his blackberry. He’s… stoic or impassive or something… not cold, just… not really there.
“So… what is it? If I don’t let you whip me when you want to whip me, I get the cold shoulder or whatever this is?” I accuse. Christian raises his gaze to the ceiling and sighs before bringing his eyes to me.
“I need you to understand something about me, Anastasia,” he says, his voice low. “I am a Dominant. That’s the person that I was when you met me. That’s the person that you fell in love with and who fell in love with you. Last night, you told me that I couldn’t be that person. You had your reasons, you explained them, and I had no choice but to accept them. Right now, I’m trying to deal with that. So, forgive me if I’m not Perfect Husband Christian fawning all over his Butterfly while I’m dealing with it!” I frown deeply.
“Are you telling me that if I choose not to allow you to punish me because I feel that I don’t deserve it, this is what I have to deal with?” I inquire. “You walking around being sullen and surly like a child who just lost their favorite toy?” He turns to face me, pulled up to his full height, and I have to concentrate not to feel slightly intimidated by him at this moment.
“Anastasia,” he begins, his voice still low and commanding, “at the risk of sounding juvenile, you did take away my favorite toy. You eliminated my most reliable coping mechanism. I tried the normal alternative measures—I ran to China on that treadmill, then I beat the hell out of your heavy bag until I thought the hooks would come out of the ceiling and floor. The installers did an excellent job, by the way. I pondered spending time with my piano, but I could see myself destroying the keys out of pure frustration. I’ve done that once—I didn’t want to do it again. So, I stayed in the gym until my muscles burned, then I spent some time in the hot tub. Now, I’m going into the office to do some work and when it’s time to go see Mom, I’ll come back here and ride to Belleville with the rest of the family like we discussed.”
“Just like everything’s fine,” I say, a statement, not a question. His face doesn’t change even though his tone does slightly.
“You can’t have it both ways, Ana,” he replies. “I’m still wired like a meth addict, my only restraint coming from the incessant ache in my legs and arms. I’m going to focus on that and on my work so that I don’t focus on my total lack of control, here. Then, I’m going to turn my focus to my mother and the very serious issue that’s facing her and our family so that I don’t turn the focus on me. Currently, that’s what I have to offer.
“I can understand and even empathize with how you felt last night. That’s the new Christian. That’s the guy that can take ‘no’ for an answer. The one that can’t—the one that’s in my head standing in a playroom with a whip in one hand and a flogger in the other waiting for me to give in to my primal urges—yeah, he’s still there. He’s still waiting for me to do something to regain control of an apparently uncontrollable situation. So, while kinder, gentler Christian is trying to persuade cooler heads to prevail, Neanderthal Christian is fighting tooth and nail taunting us all to ‘grow a pair.’”
He pauses and closes his eyes, takes a deep cleansing breath and releases it. When he opens them again, slate gray eyes fix on me and freeze me to the spot.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend a few hours at Grey House this morning. You may want to check in at Helping Hands. I’ll see you back here at lunch.” He leans down and kisses me on the cheek before turning around and walking towards the mudroom.
Jesus. What do I do with that? He clearly doesn’t hate me. He’s not even angry with me. It appears that he totally understands how I felt last night and why I felt that way. He’s just having a rough time dealing with it. Shit, I can’t say that I like this Christian any more than I like “punish me whenever he feels like it” Christian. There’s got to be some kind of middle ground, and I guess it’s going to be up to me to find it.
“Well, hello, darling. I was surprised to hear from you with such urgency. Is everything alright?”
I took Christian’s advice and ducked into Helping Hands very quickly to check on the status of things and make sure that the structure was still intact. Everything was running as smoothly as could be expected with both leaders currently out of commission, so to speak, but once the staff was given a general idea of what was happening, they all rallied to make sure that operations continue as usual. Jesse, Courtney, and key volunteers and workers all have me on speed dial in case there’s a need for me to rush back to the center, and I make a mental note to check in on John and his family sometime in the next few days if Christian hasn’t called him already.
“Thanks for seeing me on such short notice.” After my brief conversation with Christian this morning, I knew that I needed to speak with someone that understands the mind of a Dominant. Christian and I met Michelangelo and his partner, Wolfgang, at a BDSM club a couple of years ago. That’s not Michel’s real name, but it’s just easier to remember. He doesn’t bother calling me Stacey anymore since everyone in the Seattle area knows who the hell I am.
“I’m in desperate need of some advice,” I tell him.
“Intimate advice, I take it,” he says, gesturing me to the back of his store. He’s a holistic apothecary, and I make it a point to look around the shop at some of the natural remedies before I leave.
“Yes, but don’t let me forget to grab some essential oils before I leave.”
“Oooo,” he says, shimmying his shoulders, “I’ll put together some yummy concoctions for you, my dear. My own special formulas. Now, step into my office and tell me what’s ailing you today.”
Michel’s office is an envious thing of beauty and is making me completely rethink my workspace at home. It’s glass on three sides, one of those sides being a set of double doors that open onto a gorgeous deck. The other two sides are floor to ceiling windows that look out onto large trees and stunning landscaping, with retractable shades to cover the windows at night. There is minimal furniture in the room—an aluminum frame desk with a white surface and matching rolling desk chair and two very comfortable brown sitting chairs with ottomans and a glass end table between them.
“Have a seat, darling. Let’s chat.” He gestures me to one of the comfortable chairs while he takes the other. I fill him in on the basics of the situation without getting into too much detail, just that I feel that I didn’t deserve to be punished and the basic reasons why, but that the Dominant in my husband is battling with the lack of control.
“I’m not trying to change who he is and I certainly want to be what he needs,” I confess, “but I won’t compromise myself or my principles to do that.”
“As well you shouldn’t, my dear,” Michel agrees. “The fact that Christian understands that speaks volumes. Most Doms really get set in their ways and they must regain that control by any means necessary.”
“Michel, Christian is that man,” I tell him. “He won’t abuse me, and I can always safeword and end any scene or any situation, but…” I trail off, thinking of two specific punishment fucks that left me feeling like a piece of meat. Then, there was the spanking in the shower, but he took a severe punishment following that… that’s another story, though.
“Ana?” Michel says cautiously. “You haven’t… been raped, have you?” I shake my head and frown deeply.
“No!” I protest fervently—not by my husband anyway. “No, of course not! It’s just… Christian’s presence and authority over you is… powerful. If you plan to challenge him, you had better be armored. There are times when I’m not, when I’m not so certain about how I feel about a scene until after it happens. By then, my feelings are all conflicted and when we talk about it, there’s often a problem.”
“But… you talk about it,” he interjects.
“Well, yeah, we always talk about it. Sometimes, we even talk about it with our therapists.”
“My God, you two are one of the most functional couples I’ve ever met!” he exclaims.” I scoff.
“Yeah… no. We’re still working on it,” I correct him.
“What do you think functional means?” he says. “Do you think anybody out here has it all together? If they tell you that they do or even lead you to believe that they do, they’re lying through their teeth! You’re going to be working on that relationship until the day you die, especially a BDSM relationship. Anybody out there who tells you that they have the perfect Dom or that their Master hasn’t or would never hurt them, they’re full of shit! That’s how the hell they know what they don’t like and won’t tolerate. It’s a constant learning experience, even for seasoned Dominants and submissives. And you said therapists. Plural. That means that the two of you have the good sense to know that you can’t both see the same person, am I correct?” I raise my eyebrows at him.
“Correct,” I say slowly.
“And you have the good sense to know that even though you are a shrink, you still need one,” he adds. “Like I said, the most functional couple I’ve ever seen in my life, and don’t let anybody convince you otherwise. Anything that you’re going through, it’s all growing pains. You’re going to have them—sometimes worse than others, and you’re never going to stop growing. Have you had your big breakup yet?”
“Yes,” I answer, thinking about my trip to Montana.
“While you were married?” I frown at him.
“That’s not going to happen. Christian won’t let me out of his sight.” It’s Michel’s turn to scoff.
“Don’t count on it,” he says. “You two are going to be together for 100 years and sometime during that hundred years, you’re going to have a big breakup. It won’t be the end of the world. It’ll just feel like it. Don’t let it destroy you.” I shiver at the thought of breaking up with my husband. I can’t even imagine it.
“You sound like you speak from experience,” I lament.
“I do, my love. Now, let’s get back to your problem, ‘cuz this won’t be that time…” Michel crosses his legs and turns to face me. “Your husband has spent his adult life being a Dominant while you’ve only spent a fraction of your adult life being a submissive. You’ve found yourself in different facets of life beginning at a very early age. I don’t know the whole tale of how both of you became the people that you are, but I know that much from what you’ve already told me.
“What you’ve learned about being a sub, you’ve only learned from him. He has a very structured and practiced routine for what he does and what he’s learned about the lifestyle. He’s been adjusting himself over the course of time to fit around you. Now, he’s been forced to make another adjustment—the adjustment to no—one that he’s probably never or rarely had to contend with before. This has just been thrust upon him out of nowhere and he’s not going to deal with it very well. You’ve come to the right conclusion that there has to be a middle ground.
“Right now, he’s asking himself if he can be a husband and a dominant. Although he’s not questioning his role as your husband, make no mistake that those two roles are battling—challenging one another to the degree that he’s suppressing his natural urges. One is going to win, and whichever one does, it won’t be pretty, because the other is still fighting.”
I figured as much. In fact, he basically said as much.
“You, my dear, are the lion tamer,” he says. “You have to find the balance between the two. You married the beast—you knew that, and you accepted that. Now, you have to tame it, help him find the natural balance between the husband and the Dom. You know him better than anyone—anyone, Ana. So, the first thing you must do is trust your instincts.” He entwines his fingers in his lap. “I need you to relax and think. Take a few deep breaths for me…”
I do what he tells me to do. I listen to his voice and focus on my breathing until I’m calm and relaxed.
“Now, open your eyes… tell me about your man.”
“He’s… sexy,” I say. “I want to say it’s the first thing I noticed about him…”
“What’s the first thing you noticed about him?”
“That he was hot… and quiet… and his striking eyes,” I say, recalling the day that he commanded the attention of every woman in the room at the community center and arrogantly ordered that I just call him “Grey.”
“Okay, and then what?”
“He exercised his dominance on me immediately, but it didn’t work. It made me resent him.” Michel raised his eyebrows at me.
“It did?” I nodded. “How did you become his submissive?”
“We had an attraction that we couldn’t fight, and we gave in to our primal urges. Then… we talked. He confessed his involvement in BDSM, and I told him about my brief studies in college and my curiosity of the lifestyle. We agreed to see where it took us and here we are.”
“So, it’s pretty much been touch-and-go since then,” he deduces. I nod.
“Like you said, everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned from him… or from you, from college… outside studies… nothing as intense as what he knows.”
“And you’re still learning,” Michel adds. I shrug.
“I guess I am,” I conclude. Michel sighs.
“Darling, you’re just dabblin’ in submission. You’ve barely scratched the surface. If he’s having this much problem with you introducing ‘no’ to punishments and playtime, you two really need to talk about where you want to be in the lifestyle. Right now, though, you need to get him back on balance, even if it’s only in perception, because he’s spinning out of control—but trust me. That conversation needs to happen sooner rather than later.” I nod.
“You said that he spoke of the girl he fell in love with,” Michel continues. “You’re going to want to reach back and find her. You’re going to want to let him know that she’s still there, but not lose the person that you’ve become in the process. You’re also going to want to tap into the Dom that attracted you—allow him in without the punishment. Cede him the control that he craves without totally relinquishing the reins of that principle that you’re holding fast to. He must respect your input. He has to understand that although he is the husband and Dominant, he also needs to know when to exercise restraint.
“Every situation doesn’t warrant discipline, and sometimes, as Doms, we may forget that, particularly in the heat of the moment. You need to bring him back to his position—gently—without appearing to top from the bottom. It’s going to be difficult, but not impossible. Once he’s there, you need to introduce your concerns to him in a way that he understands—in a manner that says that you are not defying him, but that you need him to recognize how you feel; that even punishments administered to children are ineffectual if the child thinks they aren’t warranted.”
God, that’s so simple. Last night, I simply refused to be punished—which I know was within my rights, but now I can see I guess there was a better way.
“So, darling, let’s get you in the right place to get your Dom back…”
I spend several more minutes talking to Michel before Chuck and I head back to the Crossing. I have an hour before the family is due to meet here for lunch before we go to Grey Manor. I’m hoping Christian will wait until the last minute before he comes home. I spend exactly fifteen minutes meditating in a steaming bath of essential oils mixed for me by Michel, a combination of neroli and sandalwood with a touch of ylang ylang. I don’t use any perfume—just a touch of the neroli behind each ear, on each wrist, and down my décolletage.
Agent Provocateur lace demi-bra, matching panties, garters, and of course—black stockings… with thick thigh panels.
I close my eyes and remember the simple Ana from a few years ago who loved the knockoff fashions high-heeled shoes and immediately remember Audrey Hepburn and her little black cocktail dress… Sabrina…
I go to the back of my closet and locate my 50s retro vintage black Rockabilly dress with cap sleeves, pleated bodice, sweetheart neckline and A-line silhouette—reminiscent of the throwback dresses that I used to wear when Christian and I first met, only not so tight. I’m pleased that even though my hips are bigger than they once were, my torso is small enough to fit my pre-pregnancy clothes. I guess Vee was right. No need to lose any weight for the interviews, I guess.
I wasn’t careful with my hair in the bath, and the ends got wet. I don’t have time to do anything glamourous with it, so I meticulously braid it in a loose tuxedo braid and use a jeweled butterfly clip on the end to keep it from unraveling. For a quick hairstyle, it looks good.
No makeup—just my tinted moisturizer and soft pink lip gloss with a touch of brown eyeliner. And now, jewelry. I go into my dressing room and open my jewelry box. Chanel… Cartier… no. I open the little box next to it that has been all but forgotten since I’ve been married, the one that holds Ana Steele’s costume jewelry. I see the perfect things—my Kramer clear pave rhinestone gold-tone vintage necklace and matching earrings. The earrings resemble three petals of a four-leaf clover and the necklace looks like the same petals circling my neck. Very pretty and timely for the dress. I find one pair of plain black stilettos, figuring that I must have gotten rid of the rest when I migrated to Louboutins. They’re still in good shape. These will have to do.
I examine myself in the three-way mirror of my dressing room and see the old Ana reflected back at me. I’m very pleased. I feel a small sense of pride that I was able to find the woman that I was before and still maintain the woman that I’ve become. I see them both in my reflection. Can I be both women for the rest of the day?
I’m surprised to find that I’ve only used forty-five minutes of the hour that I had left before the family is due to meet at the Crossing. After I peek in on my sleeping children, I take my purse and a plain black wrap down to the dining room to wait for everyone to arrive.
Elliot and Val are the first to get to the table after I take my seat. I’m clearing emails from my iPhone and responding to messages from Andrea and Marilyn about things that are being set up for the interview this weekend. I’ve heard nothing from Christian all morning.
“Wow. Steele. Were we supposed to dress up? You look great,” Valerie says as she takes her seat.
“Yeah, Montana, I didn’t get the memo. Is this a formal affair?” Elliot teases. I force a smile.
“Oh, you know me,” I say, waving them off. “I just… felt like pulling something out.”
“That’s from the vintage collection,” Val observes. “I haven’t seen one of those dresses since our days at the condo.”
“Yeah,” I say, downplaying the situation. “Like I said, just felt like pulling something out.” I shrug.
“Are we late?” Mia and Ethan breeze into the room.
“Nope, you’re right on time,” Val says, rising to kiss Mia on the cheek. Ethan and Elliot shake hands and fall into quick conversation.
“Hey, Anakins. Nice dress,” Mia says. “Vintage?” Oh, good grief.
“Yep. An oldie, but goodie,” I say, nonchalantly, looking into the kitchen and silently begging the staff to bring lunch.
“Where’s Christian?” Ethan asks.
“Probably wrapping up some big merger as usual,” Elliot says. “Did he say he was going to be late, Montana?”
No, he didn’t. In fact, he hasn’t said shit to me all morning.
“No, he’ll probably be along soon,” I say, looking at my phone and scrolling through my text. “Maybe we should just get started.” I look at Ms. Solomon and she nods.
We’re halfway through lunch, discussing how we plan to approach the meeting with Grace and Carrick when I finally get a text from my husband that he’s leaving Grey House and will be home in a few minutes. I sigh heavily and roll my eyes.
“Well, whatever huge merger has kept Mr. Grey from our company has finally been settled,” I say. “He should be here shortly.”
“Geez, that man and his empire,” Ethan says. “I guess nothing comes easy, huh?”
“No good thing, anyway,” I say with a shrug. “If you all will excuse me, I’m going to check on my babies before we have to leave.” I smile and leave the table. Waiting for Christian to arrive and playing the happy hostess while shielding questions about my style of dress was a bit too much for my psyche. I’m trying to stay grounded in my purpose and it’s hard to do while wondering why my husband couldn’t bother to join us for lunch like he was supposed to.
“They’ve been fed already?” I ask when I come into the room. Gail and Keri each have one of the children in their arms.
“Yes,” Keri says. “This little one is almost asleep again.” She shows me a droopy-eyed Minnie and I kiss her on her little forehead.
“This little soldier is fighting. He has no intention of succumbing to the Sandman,” Gail says.
“Let me have him,” I say, holding my arms out for my little prince. Gail gives me my son and he raises his blue-gray eyes to me. We still don’t know whose eyes each child is going to have as they are both blue-gray and maybe they’ll stay that way, though Minnie clearly has her father’s hair color while Mikey sports a wild mop of brown locks.
“So, you’re being defiant, too, are you?” I ask my son as he stares wide-eyed at me. They’ve only been awake for about forty minutes. Maybe he’s just not ready to go back to sleep. Maybe he wants to see the world and explore things. I lay him down on his back on his mat and get on the floor with him.
“Ana!” Gail scolds. “You’re getting on the floor in that dress?”
“I’ll be fine,” I say, waving her off.
“I’ll be back in a minute,” she says with a smile as she leaves the room. I turn my attention back to Mikey.
“Hey, little man. Whatcha doin’?” Mikey coos at me as I tickle his little belly. I retrieve his hollow plastic football and playfully touch it to his nose, eliciting a laugh from him. I hold it high in front of his face, drawing his attention to the bright blue and green colors before bringing it back down to his waiting hands.
“Touchdown!” I exclaim playfully and he grasps the ball with both hands and giggles gleefully. He coos and blubbers and rolls on his mat, and I continue to engage him as if we are having the most interesting conversation of all time. He reaches for his rings and brightly colored toys and I praise him for being such a good boy. Time passes mindlessly while I play with my precious little prince and before I know it, Gail has returned to retrieve me, informing me that Christian has arrived and the family is ready to go to Grey Manor. I almost dread leaving the solace of the nursery and my cooing infant to face my brooding husband and the tasks ahead, but what must be done must be done.
I rise from the floor, bringing Mikey with me and handing him off to Gail after kissing his chubby pink cheeks and telling him that I love him. I check my clothes and leave the nursery to join the family downstairs.
Everyone is in the grand entry when I exit the nursery to the second-floor landing. I descend the stairs, watching my feet so that I don’t take a spill and go to the dining room to get my wrap and purse. I come back to the grand entry placing my wrap on my shoulders.
“Everything okay?” Val asks.
“Yeah, I think my son is trying to start a rebellion,” I reply with mirth, imagining my son set to become the quarterback for the Seahawks. I pull my braid from under the wrap while still trying to adjust it.
“I thought that would be Minnie,” Mia says.
“No,” I say, retrieving my lip gloss from my purse and touching up my lips. “From the looks of things, she’s going to sleep through it.” I put my gloss away and finally raise my eyes to the group… and Christian is staring at me.
“You changed,” he says. I try not to react.
“Yeah,” I say, and nothing else.
“Uuuhh, let’s get going,” Ethan says, breaking the long silence. Everyone else moves towards the door, but Christian waits for me. I take a few steps and he places his hand in the small of my back and leads me out the door. I try to suppress the small shiver that I feel as he guides me to the portico and over to one of the waiting Audis. Jason opens the door for me and I slide into the seat, placing my hands demurely on my lap until they close it behind me. I quickly attach my seatbelt and smooth my dress before Christian gets to the other side of the car, placing my hands back in my lap. We’re in the converted Audi with the seats that face us, and Val and Elliot ride with us. I’m silent for the first half of the ride, my eyes trained on my hands clasped in my lap. I can hear Christian and Elliot talking, but I’m not really paying attention to what they’re saying. My mind is wandering to bits of the conversation that I had earlier with Michel, about bringing myself back to who I was without losing who I am and also finding a middle ground for my husband…
“Are you okay, Steele?” Val says. My head jerks up.
“Hm?” I say. “Yes. I’m… just… thinking about our meeting with Carrick and Grace.” It’s a sorry excuse, I know, but it’s all I’ve got. Christian reaches over and covers my clasped hands with his. My eyes fall to our joined hands. His thumb strokes my skin and I say nothing else for the rest of the ride.
When we get to the Manor, Christian quickly gets out of the car. I stall a bit, but not conspicuously, pretending to have trouble undoing my seatbelt. Sure enough, he appears on my side of the car to open my door and reaches in to take my hand and help me out of the car. This doesn’t go unnoticed by my best friend and sister, who gives me a coy smile, but I pretend not to notice. If she has any idea what I’m doing, then she knows why I can’t respond to her.
Carrick greets us at the door and he looks a little more rested than he did yesterday. He hugs each of the women and shakes the hands of each of the men.
“She’s going to be a bit reserved,” he says. “It’s the medication. She’s a completely different person than who she was before she went into the hospital. Still Gracie, but nowhere near as wound as she was before.”
Everyone is silent as we walk into the house to greet Grace. She’s in the great room, sitting comfortably on one of the sofas. She’s wearing a comfortable pair of slacks and a long-sleeved shirt, most likely to cover the scar on her arm.
“Come on in, children,” she says. “I don’t bite.” I’m the first to enter the room and kiss her on the cheek.
“How are you feeling, Grace?” I ask.
“Much better now,” she says, with a smile. Carrick takes a seat next to her and the rest of her children begin to file in and greet her. I stand and wait for everyone to hug and kiss her and begin to take their seats. Christian takes my hand and guides me over to the second sofa. I sit when he gestures for me to sit.
“So, I’m sure you all have already talked and you know what’s going on,” Grace says.
“Yes, Mom. We know,” Christian says.
“So, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s serious enough that some things have to change…”
The conversation goes a lot smoother than I expected. I thought that Grace would protest a lot more than she did. I also thought her children—particularly her sons—would hold back their feelings more, but they’re very open with how this situation affected them and what they expect from their mother while she’s going through her ordeal. Mia and Carrick both put their feet down that she’s off wedding duty, not only because it’s too stressful, but also because she got completely carried away. She insists, however, that the wedding not be postponed, and she agrees that she’s truly in no mindset to handle any of the preparations. Mia scolds her a bit for the outrageous plans that she made and told her that her one duty would be to call that wedding planner and tell her that if she didn’t listen to Mia and withdraw what Mia asked of her that she would be sued. Grace agrees to do that one task and then wash her hands of all things wedding.
Including the Hammerstones.
“Christian, I can’t tell you how sorry I am for how badly I behaved in terms of Janise and Marvin. I have no excuse really. I don’t know how to make up for it…”
“It’s done, Mom,” Christian says. “That’s guy’s a real asshole and there’s just nothing that can be done about that. I’ll take joy in the fact that I won’t have to break bread with him at my sister’s wedding.” Grace smiles.
“I’m very happy that you can forgive me, son. Now… Ana…”
“Please… don’t…” I say, putting my hands up. “There’s way too much. It wasn’t you, I know it wasn’t…”
“Ana, do you realize what you’ve done for this family?” Grace interrupts me. “What you mean to this family? You’re remarkable… There are times when I just don’t know what we would have done without you…” Her voice cracks on the last two words and Carrick puts his arm around his wife. “I just… I don’t know what to say… Thank you is not enough. There’s so much that you are to us. So much that you mean to us. Don’t ever forgot that. Please, don’t ever forget that!” Her voice fades into tears and Christian squeezes my hand once again.
“I won’t forget it, Grace,” I say softly, trying to offer her some comfort.
“No more crying now, Gracie,” Carrick says, gently wiping his wife’s cheeks with his thumb. Grace nods as her husband reaches into his pocket and pulls out a handkerchief, handing it to his wife.
“Now,” she says, dabbing at her eyes, “tell me about the Center. Is everything okay?”
“Nope. Too soon,” Carrick protests. Grace frowns at him.
“You can’t take everything away from me,” Grace retorts. “I’ll lose my mind. You heard what the doctor said. I have to stay as normal as possible.” Carrick narrows his eyes.
“Fine. Helping Hands and the hospital. No more for now. Charities only as I see fit. If I see things becoming too much, I reserve the right to pull the plug—no questions asked.” Grace smiles.
“Yes, Cary,” she says sweetly. He rolls his eyes.
“It’s only because I love you,” he adds.
“I know, Cary,” she says. He pulls her close to him, forgetting that they’re in a room full of their children and their significant others.
“When is the last time we’ve had a vacation?” Carrick asks.
“It’s been a while,” Grace responds.
“We should rectify that.”
“Maybe we should.”
Should we invite Luma and Herman?” Carrick suggests. Grace ponders the thought.
“It’s a nice gesture, but I think it should be just the two of us.” Carrick raises his eyebrows, and now I’m certain he’s forgotten that they’re not alone in the room.
“Bermuda? Brazil?” he suggests.
“Saint Lucia!” Grace concludes, raising her eyebrows, and they kiss.
Then Elliot clears his throat.
We spend the evening at my parents’ house having dinner and talking things through about how we’re going to handle Mom’s condition. None of us would have ever thought that Mom going through menopause would be a family operation, but we didn’t think it would affect her so drastically either.
Good God, Butterfly!
Something about her is making me feel fucking primal!
Not like caveman primal, but kind of… and, maybe a little protective or… something, I don’t know.
She’s wearing this dress. She looks like something straight out of Mad Men—like you want to show her off to the world like, “Look what I got,” but you want to walk behind her with a club and tell everybody to stay the fuck away! And she’s giving off this smell—it’s not a perfume. It’s not the coconut or the other fragrance—vanilla? Cinnamon? I don’t remember, but it’s not either of those, either. Whatever it is, I can resist the urge to jump her, but I just want to bury my nose in her neck.
And she’s quiet. Her words are economical. She says just enough to be sociable, to get her point across and no more. She’s demure… and she seems… subservient… submissive…
But… not overkill.
She’s fucking perfect.
Good God, that playroom fucker is standing there sneering at me, smiling a satisfied grin with his arms folded and his legs crossed at the ankles, but I haven’t punished her and I don’t plan to, so what’s the deal?
I glance over at her sitting in the large chair by the fireplace holding a half empty glass of champagne. One leg is crossed over the other, showing off her beautiful calves while her skirt modestly covers both knees. The structured bodice of her dress holds her luscious breasts together in a very flattering sweetheart neckline. Vintage jewelry captures the light of the fireplace and an alluring braid—similar to the ones my submissives used to wear in the playroom, but much more elegant—falls down her back, held in place at the end by a jeweled hairpiece. She’s lost in thought as the fire dances in her eyes, and she looks like a perfect painting of a sophisticate in a French bistro somewhere.
“I think it’s time we should be going,” I announce, anxious to get this creature alone if for no other reason but to gaze on her beauty in private. Nearly everyone responds with movement, standing and nodding and the like. From the corner of my eye, I can see Butterfly place her champagne glass on the side table, put both feet on the floor, smooth her dress and sit up straight. I can’t help but turn my gaze to her.
Her eyes slightly downcast, not by much, but I can tell. Her skirt falls slightly off the edge of the seat. She’s not completely there—but she’s almost there… almost…
Submissive position three.
My chest feels like it’s going to explode. That playroom fucker is laughing out loud and dancing a goddamn jig. I have to get her out of here. I must be alone with her. It takes every bit of my control to casually walk over to her and extend my hand to her. I know that’s what she’s waiting for. She rises effortlessly from her seat, one smooth movement. I tuck her hand in my elbow, then put my finger under her chin.
“Look at me,” I command softly. She raises her eyes only a bit and looks at me through her lashes. “Let’s go home.”
The ride home is silent again as I draw circles in Butterfly’s skin. I can feel the gooseflesh rising, if only slightly, and I wonder what she’s anticipating. Elliot and Valerie sit silently across from us, neither of them making eye-contact with either of us. When we get home, they quickly say their goodnights and scurry up to their room. I, on the other hand, take my wife hand and lead her to the elevator and down to the bar.
I help her into one of the barstools and then walk behind the bar. I turn on the sound system and Slo Mo start to sing something very vulgar about fucking and making love. I keep the music low. I only want it in the background. I pour us both a brandy before I slide into the barstool next to her, facing her. We sit silently for long moments and I just examine her as I sip my brandy. She sits perfectly still, her legs crossed and dangling from the high stool, both hands wrapped around the brandy snifter, her eyes slightly downcast. The song is nearly over before I speak.
“Talk to me,” I say, my voice deep, barely above a whisper. She swallows hard.
“I…” Her voice is breathy.
“Drink,” I command her. She takes a small sip of her brandy. “Again,” I say. She takes a larger sip, then closes her eyes as she swallows the liquid. “That’s better. Now, talk to me.” She takes a deep breath.
“I… don’t want you to lose who you are,” she says softly.
“Okay,” I reply.
“I don’t want to lose who I am, either,” she adds.
“I understand that,” I concur.
“It’s important to me that… when we find ourselves at an impasse that… we find somewhere that we can meet… in the middle.” She swallows hard.
“That’s a good idea,” I agree. “So, how do you suggest we do that?”
“I’m not completely sure,” she admits, “but I thought that remembering where we came from would be a good start.” I slide from my barstool and close the space between us.
“A very good start,” I reply, trying not to growl. Her breath catches in her throat. “Take a drink.” She takes another drink of her brandy and places the snifter back on the bar.
“You once told me that we would know what roles we needed to assume,” she says without raising her eyes.
“I did,” I confirm, standing very close to her. She takes a deep breath, then asks,
“Does that go both ways?” I examine her for a brief moment.
“Elaborate,” I command softly.
“When you first said that, I assumed that you meant… that we would know when to submit…” She pauses.
“Yes?” I coax.
“Does that also mean that… we would know when not to dominate?”
I can tell that she’s extremely nervous, that she wants her concerns to be heard, but she’s trying to maintain a delicate balance between my dominance and her submission. I have no idea how she could have possibly known this is what was needed to address what’s happening between us… could it have been her human sexuality studies? Did she reach back into her years of schooling and tap into her hidden knowledge to find the solution to our issue? Did she talk to Ace? Or Dr. Baker? Someone in the lifestyle?
I slide my hand around her waist, holding firmly to the structured torso of her dress. I love to feel her in clothes like this—restrained, like corsets. I note the fragrance that’s been wafting from her all night and I still can’t place it, but it tantalizes my senses now that I’m closer to her. Is it in her hair? I think it might be. I caress her waist with one hand, resisting the urge to pull her against my body, maintaining the controlled tone of my voice.
“Why do you think I stopped myself last night?” I say, trying to find the words to explain my actions. “For the first time, you told me before a scene began that you didn’t see cause for being punished. Every other time, you’ve waited until after the scene was over—often until the next day and sometimes, not saying anything until you were prompted. This time, you made it very clear that you didn’t want it. You didn’t see cause for it and you were not accommodating it, no matter what I said or did. I had no other choice but to respect and adhere to that, but the man that I am—the Dominant that I am—left me with no recourse. It was a physical and a mental thing and I just had to find a way to deal with it.
“We were on completely different ends of the spectrum. I was at a total loss of control and I felt like your actions and your decisions were the reason for that loss of control. You, on the other hand, felt totally different. I have no idea who was right and who was wrong, or even if there was a right or a wrong, and because I still haven’t completely regained my control, I still don’t know the answer to that conundrum. All I know is that if you say, ‘no,’ if you tell me that I can’t touch you in that way all the way to the point of telling me that you will safeword, I can’t do it.”
For the first time—or maybe the second—since lunchtime, she raises wide, blue eyes to mine without permission.
“I didn’t say that you couldn’t touch me,” she protests, her voice soft, but urgent. I gently cup her cheek with my free hand.
“Ana, you told me that you would safeword if I needed you to. Was I supposed to fuck you with that in the back of my head?” I ask. She drops her gaze again.
“So… the threat or mention of a safeword is the same as safewording,” she deduces.
“I’m afraid so,” I confirm. She nods without raising her gaze. I give in to my urges and pull her against my body, pushing my body between her legs, her softness melting against my hardness. I lean down, bury my nose in her neck, and inhale deeply, allowing her scent to incite my libido.
“What is that smell?” I ask, unable to stand the suspense anymore.
“Um, it’s… bath oil…” she hesitates. I gathered that much. “It’s a combination… sandalwood and… something with orange in it…” she says breathily. Yes, I do recognize those scents. I turn my lips to her neck and taste her skin. She feels so small and vulnerable in my hands and I hold her tight against my body as my lips and tongue explore her throat. I feel her pulse quicken as her hands rise to my forearms.
“Hands down!” I demand, my face still buried in her neck, and her arms fall immediately to her sides. Her reaction feeds my primitive possessiveness—my need to own her completely. The exercise in control not to ravage her right here and now is painful and titillating at the same time. I wrap her ridiculously long braid around my hand and pull hard. Her breath catches in her throat as her head jerks back violently, exposing her alabaster neck to my ravenous bites and sucks. I groan deep in my chest as I bruise her tender skin with my teeth and lips. I’m fucking starving for her.
I kiss up her neck and up her jaw, then bite her chin until I’m looking down into her eyes.
“What am I going to do with you?” I growl, because at this moment, I really don’t know. I’m caught between the Master who wanted to punish her last night, and Sir who just wants to dominate her now… the one she’s submitting to—consciously or subconsciously, she’s submitting… fully and completely, and I want to ravage this sexy little body in all sorts of rude ways…
But I really don’t want to punish her anymore.
“Whatever you see fit, I would imagine,” she breathes. “I trust you… Sir.”
And my entire body hardens for her.
“Have you voiced all of your concerns, Mrs. Grey?” I say, just above a whisper
“I…” she pants, barely able to contain her anticipation, or arousal, or whatever she’s feeling, “I would like to know how I should handle… this situation in the future… should it arise again…” And it will. She’s so breathless, she can barely speak. This is when I must remember that I must temper my need for control and obedience with tenderness and understanding; my role as a Dominant with my role as a husband.
“That would be the time when you would respectfully request the right to speak frankly to Sir, even if your emotions or temper may be high,” I instruct her while gently stroking her cheek. “While it’s imperative that I understand and respect your needs, feelings, and state of mind, I need the same consideration from you. If you are averse to an activity for any reason, that needs to be addressed immediately. Likewise, if I’m in full Dom mode and you safeword, it’s the equivalent of a fighter jet being shot out of the sky. There’s no other comparison for it. It’s a total crash-and-burn. Do you see how detrimental that is?” She nods. “Are we on the same page with that?” She nods again.
“We are,” she says. “I understand, Sir.”
I can tell that she does understand, but there’s still regret in her eyes from the distance that was put between us, or my description of how I had to cope with her denial, I’m not sure. Either way…
“Open,” I whisper. She pauses only for a beat, then opens her mouth. I slide my tongue inside and around, exploring and tasting, but never closing my lips over hers, licking and tasting, gazing into her deep, blue eyes and sharing a sensual kiss that I first shared with her when I retrieved her after that ordeal with Edward David… a kiss that I’ve only ever shared with her. She recognizes our kiss and her tongue massages mine as her breath skips and she struggles not to close her eyes.
Don’t close your eyes, Butterfly. Stay with me…
I gaze at her as I continue to taste her lips, tongue, and mouth in our special way. Her eyes become heavy-lidded and I watch as the last of her resistance falls away. She’s completely mine now. I grip her hips and pull her roughly to the end of the stool, lifting her leg around my hip and grinding my erection into her soft core. We’re in the community area and someone could walk in at any moment, but I don’t care. It’s my house, and I’ll fuck her wherever I damn well please.
My hand travels under her dress and up her thigh. When I feel the bare skin of her thigh and realize that she’s wearing stockings and garters, the horny little man in me loses all control. I bruise her lips with searing kisses and use dexterous fingers to undo the suspenders on the leg wrapped around my hip. I only need to release one of them.
Control yourself, Grey. Don’t rip the damn panties.
I celebrate inwardly when the front and back fasteners release and I quickly work the panties down one leg with the help of my very flexible wife. I didn’t realize she was wearing a petticoat under this dress to help it flare out in that vintage 50s fashion, but I don’t allow it to deter me. I easily find my way back to her treasured heat while making quick work of my zipper and freeing my cock from my boxer briefs, never moving my lips from hers. She steadies herself on the barstool and within seconds, my steel-hard cock is buried deep inside of her and driving hard into her core.
“Fuck!” I bite out as her walls brutally burn my shaft. “Don’t come!” I hiss. “This is for me!”
She’s panting like a freight train, but she nods. I need this. I need this in the worst fucking way, and it’s going to be fast… and rough. I drill into her hard and deep over and over and over. She bites her lip to keep from crying out from the brutal thrusts. In moments, I feel my balls tightening and I thrust into her harder and harder. She whimpers with each thrust and I hear the bar stool scooting across the floor with each forceful thrust.
“Yes! Yes! Fuck! Yes!” I grunt with each thrust and soon, I come so hard that I have to struggle to keep from crumpling to the ground. It was only a few minutes, but I needed it so badly—to use and bruise her, because she’s mine. I had to remind her and myself that no matter what, this. Body. Belongs. To me!
I lean over her on the bar stool and catch my breath. When I pull back and examine her, she’s completely flushed, still steadying herself on the seat of the stool. I pull out of her and grasp her hand, surprising her by pulling her from the stool and dragging her through the community room and down the hall towards our private areas, my semi-hard, recently ejaculated dick still hanging out of my pants. Her stilettos click loudly and quickly on the floor behind me as I turn quickly to the first secluded room I see…
My wife’s parlor.
I drag her inside and close the door behind us, slamming her body into mine and snatching her breath away by bruising her mouth with deep kisses again, pinning her arms behind her back as I possess her once more. She whimpers and breathes wildly and helplessly as I release her hands and quickly unzip her dress, pushing it off her shoulders, down her torso and down her hips, following the dress down her body with my mouth, kissing and sucking and admiring the delicious lace lingerie underneath. I turn her around and push her against the nearest wall, removing the dress completely and releasing the suspenders from her stockings so that I can completely remove these damn panties from this delicious pussy and this luscious ass, the entire time playing in the garden because I know that drives her fucking wild. She’s scratching at the wall like a caged animal trying not to climb it while I outline the letters of her tattoo with my tongue.
I take my time reattaching the suspenders to the stockings. We’re keeping these on, but we’re losing this bra. I need to see those tits.
“Don’t move,” I growl at her back once I have her stripped to suspenders, stockings, and shoes. These aren’t Louboutins. No matter—she still looks sexy as fuck in them.
I strip completely and quickly and take my hardening dick in my hand, stroking it from base to tip a few times while I examine my wife and submissive’s round bare ass staring back at me framed in lace suspenders and stockings. I walk over to her and grind my stiff cock into the crease of her ass, allowing the head of it to stroke her rosette a few times.
“Do you feel how hard you make me?” I growl. “I just fucking came!”
“Yes… Sir,” she breathes, her voice dripping with arousal. I leave her standing there and quickly move her wrought iron glass table closer to her fireplace to give us more room. Clearing the pillows from her large sofa with one swoop of my arm, I snatch her from the wall and pull her to the middle of the room. I retrieve my shirt from the floor and hand it to her.
“Put this on.” She slides her arms into my shirt and begins to button it. “No!” I command, pushing the shirt open at her shoulders. My hands travel down to her breasts and I fondle the mounds and tease her nipples, causing a drop of milk to leak. I lick the nipple clean and Butterfly gasps, biting her lips.
“Yes!” I rumble, the inner Neanderthal beating his chest. Woman! Mine! “On the sofa. Sit.” She sits demurely on the sofa like the perfect submissive while I retrieve the handkerchief from my pocket and my necktie. Draping the necktie around my bare neck, I kneel in front of her and push her legs open.
“Lie back,” I command her. There’s quite a bit of room without the large throw pillows. She lays back on the sofa and I open her legs wide. I proceed to clean the massive amount of semen from her thighs and core. Once I’m satisfied that she’s clean enough—not complete, just enough—I take the tie from around my neck.
“Give me your hands.”
She presents her hands and I quickly and deftly secure her hands with my black silk necktie.
“Scoot back,” I direct her. “Hands over your head.” She does as she’s told. When instructed, she spreads her legs wide and digs her heels into the edges of the cushions of the sofa. If she rips it, I’ll buy her a new one. Now, she’s spread out open, sexy, and glistening in front of me—her pretty, pink pussy displaying a sexy mixture of her of her arousal and mine; her beautiful, round breasts peeking out from underneath my shirt, giving me an occasional gift of a drop of sweet nectar; her hands bound over her head… and she’s waiting for me.
Ready or not, here I come.
I lean in to that gorgeous wet fruit and lick from core to clit. She gasps and shivers. I love her reaction, so I do it again—softly, meticulously. When she begins to whimper and claw at the back of the sofa, I start a rhythm… kissing, licking, sucking, and tasting that pretty pussy much like I did that night in Anguilla, when I had to tie her thighs down. This time, she just has to bear it. What did I call it? Oh yeah, the French kiss—pay attention to every sinew, every crevice, every lump, bump, and imperfection of this beautiful creation. Hold her hips down when she tries to thrust forward or squirm and alternate between a deep penetrating massage that moves her clit from side to side and up and down to a flutter right on the tip that causes a chill and a sharp shock of pleasure to jolt through her entire body.
Licking on either side of the clit that causes the buds of the tongue to stimulate the tender nerves just under the skin…
Gathering the juices as they collect at the base of the opening when she pulses and threatens to explode…
Applying just the right amount of pressure as I suckle her clit and release it just before that crucial moment… not to torment her, but so that her orgasm is that much more intense…
Her breasts… they’re so fucking swollen… just like her clit… If I touch them right now, she’s going to come instantly. She’s bound and squirming and beautiful and so, so, ready, and my dick is aching like fuck. So, I guess it’s time to put her out of her misery.
I throw those lovely legs over my shoulders and lock in on the beautiful clit, intent to suck the pleasure out until she can’t help screaming my name.
“Sir… Sir…” she’s panting helplessly, trying to get my attention. I hear you, baby, but I’m not stopping. I increase my manipulation, concentrating my stimulation on the goal of orgasm while reaching my hands around her hips and up her body, around to cover her breasts, kneading and massaging and tweaking those tender, aroused nipples. I’m rewarded with two offerings of life’s milk from her ample mounds, and I massage the liquid into her taut peaks, lamenting only that I’m unable to clean it away with my mouth, but my tongue is otherwise occupied right now… with the imminent seduction and satisfaction of my wife’s tender, juicy, and delicious clit.
It’s throbbing, thumping, and hardening now, and my pearl is protesting more and more, trying to respectfully inform her Dom that the well is about to blow, but her Dom knows. In fact, her Dom is counting on it.
Moments later, my Butterfly is panting and wheezing and can take no more. She can barely get the words out of her mouth.
“S-Si-Sir! Sir! Lad-Ladybug! Lady… bug!” She chokes out her safeword to warn me that she’s about to come and I raise my eyes to hers to signal that’s it’s okay. Her head falls back and her hands uncharacteristically drop to my head and tangle in my hair. My goddess croons a beautiful melody as she comes, pleasure wracking her body and lifting her from the sofa. Before the vibrations have finished, I slide up her body, take her in my arms and slam my aching erection into her throbbing pussy. Good God Almighty! The grip is insane!
“My, God, you are so sexy!” I groan, my voice hoarse as I plunge into her, “so fucking sexy.”
“Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!” she repeats, panting, out of breath and still coming, I think. Her bound wrists are behind my head, her arms around my neck and her pussy feels like an earthquake around my dick. Oh, God is right.
“Baby! Fuck!” I hiss against her lips as I grind my cock into her tight, pulsing core. She wraps her legs around my hips and locks her ankles together at my ass, panting and wheezing and holding on as I pump into her over and over and over…
“God, you feel so good,” I growl, gripping her ass tight with one hand and holding her body hard against me across her back with the other arm. My face is buried in her neck and with her legs wrapped around me, she’s opened perfectly for me to thrust up into her balls deep repeatedly, grunting animalistically with every forceful, hot, painful pump. The friction is maddening and her pussy still hasn’t stopped throbbing from her first orgasm. How is that even possible?
“Goddamn, this pussy,” I curse as I push her ass hard into me, trying to get still deeper into her core. Fuck, she feels so fucking good and she’s so goddamn wet that her juices slide from her pussy and our sliding and joining sex down to the crack of her ass and her puckering rosette.
Fuck if I’m letting that shit go to waste.
I adjust my hand and massage the moisture into the puckering bundle of nerves before I unceremoniously thrust my middle finger into her tight ass and begin a finger fuck that compliments my dick in her pulsing pussy. She cries out in surprise, then quickly begins to pant in helpless ecstasy.
“Sir! Sir! I’m going… to come!” she warns, her voice squeaky and helpless, her orgasm sneaking up on her before she had the opportunity to prepare.
“Don’t!” I growl. “Don’t come yet! Hold it! I’m not ready!” That’s a fucking lie. I’m going to blow any second, but I just started playing with that ass and I’m not fucking ready. I’ve got to hold out just a minute longer. I grind into that pussy, punishing her walls while my finger thrusts into her ass, drawing out her pleasure and her torment.
“G-God… God… p… p-please… Sir, I… can’t…” she pants, her eyes squeezed tight, bearing the pleasure and threatening to blow any moment.
“Hold it!” I pant, thrusting into her faster, my balls tightening, my cock thickening and threatening eruption as I’m pumping into this tight, heavenly orifice. Her ass has swallowed my finger all the way to the base, and I know that she won’t be able to stop her orgasm… so safeword, no command, no nothing. It’s going to be nuclear.
“This body is mine!” I declare as I thrust into her. “Only! Ever! Mine!”
“Please!” she cries, helpless. “Oh, God, please!”
“Come for me,” I command her as my balls tighten madly. “Come for me, dammit!” She crumples into me and shudders into a violent trembling orgasm, making an inhuman sound and crying in my ear. I can feel my dick pulsing hard against the walls of her pussy, even harder than her throbbing core, as my balls empty every single drop of semen they have to offer. I come so hard that my dick is throbbing and pulsing long after it has emptied its contents into my wife and we lay splayed, spent and useless, on her parlor sofa.
A/N: Thank you all for your patience while I toiled with real life issues. Hopefully, I have enough content now that there won’t be any skipped weeks for a while.
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