Welp… I’ve got nothin’…
Okay, so this was funny to me, so I have to share it. I got another one of those comments on the lines of “If I don’t kiss your ass, I might as well not comment.”
So… I’m probably dating myself here, but you all know I’m no youngster. We’ve talked about the strokes and the high blood pressure meds and such. But back when I was a youngster and I use to frequent the nightclubs as a single girl, there was a common comeback from a guy who came on to you and you didn’t want to talk to him:
“What’s the matter? Are you gay?”
That shit used to crack me up! It couldn’t be that you’re stinky, ugly, creepy, wearing clothes with the tag still in them so you can take it back to the store tomorrow, “hanging out the passenger side of yo’ best friend’s ride,” nursing the same drink all night and you can’t even afford to buy me one… or that I’m simply not interested. It couldn’t be any of those things that could be the reason that I don’t want to deal with your loser ass. No, it had to be because I’m gay… Yeah, okay, whatever makes you feel better.
That’s exactly what that “kiss ass” statement reminds me of. I got that on Fanfiction a lot where people would say really hurtful and offensive things–racial slurs and off-color remarks about “hood dictionaries” and things like that–and then they were genuinely angry when I deleted the comment! Then nine out of ten of those comments–which were usually guest reviewers–had the comeback “If I don’t kiss your ass, you’re going to delete my comment.”
Every time I see that, I go right back to the nightclub and I’m like, “Wow… seriously? My deleting your comment couldn’t possibly have anything to do with you being vulgar or racist or insulting or disrespectful or downright mean or (fill in the blank–whatever they were being at that moment). No, it simply had to be because you weren’t blowing rainbows up my ass… Yeah, okay, whatever makes you feel better.
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. I hope you—as a fellow fan—enjoy it, too.
Chapter 73—Jason’s Clearing His Throat
“Shit.” Bubble broken. I sigh heavily and Butterfly lifts her head. She’s just as unhappy that the bubble has been broken as I am.
“Just a minute!” I yell, and we reluctantly untangle ourselves from each other. “I want a space in our new house just for this… just for us to connect this way. We can design it together. I never want to lose this… ever.” She touches my face gently with her fingertips.
“Never,” she says, gazing into my eyes before going to find something to wear. I haven’t showered and we both have the same scent, of each other and sex—lots and lots of sex. It’s no use. I grab a fresh pair of shorts and a T-shirt. I’m going commando until after my shower. It looks like Butterfly had the same idea as she just grabs a sports bra and a pair of yoga pants. As she pulls her hair back into a ponytail, I open the door for Jason. His subtle change of expression indicates that he can smell what we’ve been up to all day. Dude, you have no idea what you interrupted.
“This better be astronomical,” I warn. He just looks at me.
“Unfortunately, it is,” he says, his voice serious. Fuck. “Where’s Ana?”
“Right here,” she says coming up behind me, “And I heard you say that this is astronomical and it’s apparently about me, so just jump to it. Don’t give me any prelims.”
“I’m sorry, but there is one. You two need to call Allen.” Allen? I look at Jason’s watch—5:09. Damn, we have been fucking all day. What’s more important is that it’s 7am in Seattle. What the hell is going on?
“Both of us?” Butterfly asks the question I was thinking. Jason nods.
“It’s about the trials,” he says.
“Trials?” I repeat. “Plural?”
“Yes, trials. You need to call him. He says he’s been trying to reach both of you since last night… Seattle time.” Butterfly’s hand immediately goes to her forehead and she starts mumbling to herself. Shit! Trials. What the hell is going on? She goes off into the bedroom, in search of her phone no doubt. I take my blackberry from the dining table. It’s dead.
“Let me borrow your phone, Jason,” I say, plugging my blackberry into my laptop. If my phone is dead, so is Butterfly’s. I send off a text to Allen to meet me on Skype in five minutes. “I know this place doesn’t have a workout room and swimming’s not going to do it. She’s going to be caught in three hours of pushups after this call and I know it. Do you have any other ideas? If not, you may want to get ready for one of the most grueling runs you’ve ever had in your life.”
“I’ve got my gloves and sparring mitts,” he says. Fuck, that’s perfect! I should probably warn him…
“My phone’s dead,” Butterfly says, exasperated, marching back into the dining room. “What about yours?” Oh well, he has to find out for himself.
“Have you all had dinner?” I ask Jason.
“No, it’s being prepared now. You know they serve late. Did you want something sooner?”
“Maybe something light and quick,” I tell him. He nods and leaves the villa. I turn to Butterfly.
“Mine is dead, too, but I sent a text from Jason’s phone. We’ll Skype.” She nods. We get ourselves situated and I Skype Allen and prepare for bad news. When he shows up on the screen, he’s still at home, but dressed for work.
“Good, you’re together,” he says. “I’m sorry to interrupt your honeymoon, but I have news.”
“So we’ve been told,” I say.
“I called last night to get your take on it, but when I didn’t get an answer, I assumed that you haven’t heard yet. I wanted to wait until it was concrete and it became concrete yesterday. David has a trial date.” Butterfly doesn’t react.
“Okay, when it is it?” I ask.
“Monday,” he says and I frown.
“Monday?” I confirm. “As in the 15th Monday??”
“Yes,” he says with a sigh.
“I knew it!” Butterfly snaps. “I knew that fucker was going to wait until I was on my honeymoon to plant his fucking flag. I fucking knew it! If he had known the wedding date and could get the trial on a weekend, he would have asked for it on the 29th! Fucking sleazebag bastard! I knew it!”
“Can’t this be postponed a week, Allen? We’ll be stateside on the 21st. He’s got so many continuations—why can’t Ana get one?”
“Yeah, our side has tried that already. Based on the fact that he’s in prison and you’re in Greece, the scales tip in his favor right now. Those continuations that you mentioned are the biggest reason they won’t postpone the trial anymore. He has a right to a speedy trial and now he wants one. It doesn’t matter that he’s the one who has been delaying things all this time. He wants his day, he wants it now, and he’s been waiting for it—so now, he’s getting it.” Shit! It’ll take us a day to get back to the states and I have to prepare for international transport. This is going to really take some juggling.
“I’ll get on it. What happens if we can’t get back in time?” I ask him.
“I’ll let the prosecution know and they’ll put off when you guys are called to the stand…”
“Both of us?” Butterfly asks. “They want both of us to testify?”
“No, they want all of us to testify. Jason, Gerald, Chance, Ben, and Chris were the first to see you when you were found. I saw you in the whirlybird. Chris undid your cuffs after Jason scared the key out of the double-dicker… oops, sorry. Force of habit.” The double-dicker… that’s what he called him. I never found out what that meant. Butterfly shakes her head.
“So because this fucker has been playing the waiting game all this time for God only knows how long, I have to interrupt my honeymoon so that he can go to trial. Phenomenal. Abso-fucking-lutely phenomenal.” We’re all quiet for a moment before Allen starts talking again.
“There’s more,” he says, his voice solemn. Oh, yeah, Jason said trialsplural. This can’t be good.
“Just tell me,” Butterfly snaps.
“Carly Madison-Perry is negotiating a plea,” he says. It takes a moment for the words to sink in before Butterfly goes into the violent angry bobble-head motion.
“What!?” she roars, standing to her feet and almost knocking the dining table over—laptop and all. I slam my hands on the table to prevent it from falling. “What!? Why? She planned the whole thing! Why?” She’s screaming now. “It wasn’t only murder and attempted murder, but it was also premeditated. They’re offering her a plea on premeditated murder??”
“There’s a lot going on here, Jewel…” Allen tries to explain.
“I don’t give a shit about what all is going on. All I want to know is are they trying to let this bitch get away with murder?” Butterfly says. Allen freezes.
“She’s not going to get away with murder.”
“She is if she takes a plea!” Butterfly shoots.
“Jewel, it’s not that simple…”
“Quit bullshitting me and answer the question, Allen!” Butterfly barks. Noting his defeat, Allen answers the question.
“Yes,” he says.
“Fuuuuuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” Butterfly screams and stomps out to the courtyard. She is screaming and stomping like Rumpelstiltskin when the Queen guessed his name. I quickly go back to the computer.
“Allen, I thought they had to have her permission to do something like that,” I say.
“They can consult and inform her, but no, they don’t require her permission.”
“Why is she pleading? What do they get in return?”
“She turns state’s evidence on everybody at the incident.”
“They’ve got the video!” I roar! “They’ve got the victim! Why do they need the word of the accused on the other defendants!? This case is as airtight as it gets!!”
“I know, but they want to cast their nets and get as many fish as they can,” he tries to explain.
“So they’re going to set the whale free to catch a bunch of fucking guppies?” I yell. I’m with Butterfly on this one. This is bullshit.
“She won’t go free, Christian…” I have to go to Butterfly. She is out there stomping and screaming enough to bring the police.
“I have to go,” I say before closing the laptop. I run out into the courtyard and to Butterfly. Words cannot express how angry she is right now. She’s even more angry than when she safeworded a couple of days ago.
“Baby?” I try to approach with caution.
“They’re going to let her off! They’re fucking going to let her off! I know they are! I know it! I can’t believe this shit!” I grab her arms to try to stop the vicious rant.
“She’s not getting off, Butterfly. If they let her off, I’ll go after her personally.”
“And do what?” she screams. “Beat her near to death like she did me? She doesn’t have anything else left to lose! She’s fucking worthless!”
“She has something left to lose and I’m just the one to find out what it is,” I try to appease her.
“She’s nothing! She’s no one! All she had left was her freedom and they’re going to set her free! They’re going to set her free!” Her fists are shaking and she is ready to explode. I grab her hand and drag her behind me. Taking two steps at a time, we run to the first level where everyone in the villa is standing in the courtyard. Charles throws the gloves at me and Jason is standing there wearing the mitts. I turn to Butterfly who turns incredulous tear-filled eyes to me.
“Do you need this?” I ask her.
“You knew?” she asks, her voice squeaking and betraying her tears.
“No, I knew something, but I didn’t know what. I found out everything at the same time you did. Do you need this?” I ask again. She looks from me and the gloves to Jason and back to me. She nods frantically.
“Yes! Yes!” she whispers loudly. I quickly help her get into the gloves. She turns on Jason and lights into those mitts, bare feet and all. Before she gets in good, I lean back to Charles and ask if there’s another pair. I think he—along with everyone else—is a bit stunned at how hard she is blowing out these mitts. He nods hesitantly and I tell him to go and get them. Keri actually looks a bit frightened by the spectacle.
“Don’t worry,” I lean in and tell her. “She got some bad news from home. She’ll be fine as soon as she blows off some steam.” She looks at me incredulously then back at Butterfly.
“She vety sthong,” she says. “Look at heh ahms… little, but… big!” I look at Butterfly’s arms. Keri’s right. I never paid attention, but her biceps are quite large and defined when she’s working out. Charles comes back with the second set of mitts. She has whaled on Jason for about fifteen minutes and he’s starting to wince a bit. I tell Charles to give me the second pair of mitts and be ready to take the first pair from Jason. If this session goes for 15 more minutes, he has to take his fair share of abuse. Adrien and Norbert are staring at the whirlwind that is my Butterfly in wide-eyed amazement. I betMeathead will think twice about saying anything disparaging to her after this.
“Fifteen minutes and you’re up,” I tell him and I put the mitts on.
“Yes, sir,” he says. I look at Keri.
“You may want to step back a bit,” I say as I take the stance. She looks at me and nods, stepping away from me and closer to Charles. “Butterfly!” I yell to break her concentration. She whirls around, uncertain, but ready to unleash hell. When she sees me with the mitts ready for action, she tears into me to give Jason’s hands a rest. Her strikes are no less vicious. She lets me have it hard, mercilessly. I quickly catch a glimpse of Jason behind her, removing his mitts and shaking his hands while mouthing “Ow.” She’s giving me hell, much worse than she did on Anguilla. I’m hoping to God that someone is keeping time because in only a matter of moments, this shit hurts like fuck! I don’t let on that she’s hurting me because she needs to get it out. She is pouring sweat from head to toe and she shows no signs of slowing down. She wasn’t this pissed about cutting our honeymoon short. Hell, maybe she’s this pissed about both.
“Ana!” His voice is music to my ears. She knows what it means now and immediately turns her aggressions onto Chuck. I remove my mitts and throw them at a reluctant Norbert. I’ll save Adrien for last as she may kill him when his turn comes. By then, at least some of her energy will have waned.
“At 15 minutes, call her name,” I tell Norbert. He nods as he tightens the mitts. Jason comes over to me with two ice-cold bottles of water. I put one in each hand and the relief is heavenly. She is fucking pissed! Those hits sunk through those mitts in no time and she might as well have been beating my bare hands. Right about minute 13, she starts to lose steam. Her hits get wild and she starts to grunt with each strike. She’s getting tired. Norbert is ready to call her name, but I slice at my neck and shake my head. I hand the water to Keri and get ready for one of two things—another black eye like that day at her condo when I saved her from the heavy bag, or a mountain of Butterfly falling uselessly into my arms.
After several more swings and the inevitable tears that come with the falling adrenaline, she opts for the latter. I’m behind her in moments catching her before she hits the hard concrete. She is weeping bitterly in my arms as Jason carefully removes her gloves. She’s like a helpless little rag doll in my arms, and I stroke her hair from her sweat-drenched face as she sobs. She cries so hard that she breaks into violent coughing. Jason disappears to his villa and comes back with a damp washcloth. I wipe her face and she calms a bit, though she doesn’t stop crying. Keri opens one of the bottles of water and hands it back to me. I take it with a nod and put the bottle to Butterfly’s mouth. She takes a sip, but only a sip before she starts to weep again. Damn, when will we ever catch a fucking break?
I stand with her in my arms and carry her back down to our villa. I get into the hot tub with her in my arms, both of us fully dressed. In moments, she’s calm and I know the heat will help keep her muscles from tightening. I’m stroking her hair and calming her down, and we are only in there for a couple of minutes when she squirms out of my arms, scrambles out of the hot tub and runs inside the villa.
What the fuck?
When I get to the bedroom door, I hear the very last thing I expect to hear. Butterfly is vomiting! Violently!
“Oh, hell!” I say as I find my way to the bathroom and to Butterfly. She tries to hold her long hair out of the toilet while she heaving her soul in there. I come over to her and hold her hair back only to see that she’s vomiting bile. She hasn’t eaten anything all day!
I’m close enough to the sink to wet a washcloth and wring it out with one hand. I wipe her face and mouth, rinse it again, and apply it to the back of her neck. She’s breathing heavily, threatening to dry heave a bit, but not doing it.
“The hot tub… it was too hot. It made me nauseous.” She can barely speak.
“I can imagine. We haven’t eaten all day, Baby.” She nods. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know it would make you sick.”
“Neither did I,” she chokes. “I’ll just have to pray… that my muscles don’t lock… because that was just too hot.”
“I’ll work the kinks out if you lock,” I promise her. “Maybe we should just take a quick shower and get something to eat?” It’s more of a question than a statement. She nods and stands from the floor, stripping off her wet clothes and going immediately to the shower. She turns the water on to a nice warm blast and stands under the head, letting the water run over her and down her body. I strip out of my clothes and, seeing that the water is hot, but not too hot, I join her in the shower. I put shower gel on the freshwater sponge from Athens that she now uses and meticulously wash her body as she leans with her hands flat against the wall. She is hoping to rinse something away, but I’m afraid it won’t be that easy. I need to find out exactly what’s going to happen to this Madison bitch, because if she gets off, I swear that I will find some way to make her pay for what she did to my Butterfly.
I wash myself when I am done with Butterfly, but have to coax her from the showerhead so that I can rinse the soap from my body and hair. I quickly wash her hair while I have her away from the showerhead. The conditioner will have to wait and there’s only so much coaxing I can do in this small bathtub/shower. I wrap myself in a towel and get a second towel to dry her off. I wrap her hair in the towel and bring her to the bedroom. After putting on a pair of boxer briefs, I begin to dry her hair. It’s so long that I know it’s going to take longer to dry than it used to. I’m just about finished drying it when she looks up at me. Her large, sad blue eyes are full of gratitude, and I lean down and kiss her. Without a word, I finish drying her hair. After handing her a clean bra and panties, I help her into a comfortable sleeveless sweater mini-dress.
“Do you want to eat down here?” I ask her while I pull a clean T-shirt over my head after stepping into some jeans. She shakes her head while she fashions her hair into a braid over her left shoulder.
“No,” she says while she secures the end with a little barrette-hairpin of some kind. It lies over her shoulder and she would be Pippy Longstocking if she had one on the other side. “They probably think I’m crazy, so I want to dispel that. We also have to get everyone ready to go home.” She says that last part with venom and I know she is sickly angry about having to cut our honeymoon short.
“We can come back, Baby, anytime you want,” I try to soothe her.
“That’s not the point, Christian,” she snaps. “This man disrupts my life every chance that he gets and now he’s disrupting it from inside of a jail cell! When will I ever be free of him? And Carly! Carly fucking Madison!” Her hand moves quickly to her forehead and I know that she is going to bruise if she starts to rub. I quickly grab her wrists and force her to look at me.
“You. Are going. To have. To trust me,” I say slowly. “One way or another, that woman is going to pay for what she did to you. Do you understand me?” She looks up at me uncertain, then resigned. Her body relaxes and she nods. “Good. Now may I carry you to dinner, Mrs. Grey?” She cocks her head at me.
“I’m fine, Christian, really. I can walk.”
“I know that. May I carry you to dinner, Mrs. Grey?” She examines me for a moment. Then she holds her arms out for me to pick her up. I lift her off the ground and grasp her firmly in my arms. She holds me tight around the neck, burying her face there until I get her up the stairs and into the large dining room where everyone has already started dinner. The room falls silent as Butterfly uncurls herself from my neck and allows me to sit her in a chair. I take the seat next to her and put generous helpings of roasted chicken, grilled vegetables and potatoes on her plate. She declines the wine gesturing to her stomach, but fills her water-glass instead.
“Edward David has gotten his trial date,” she says without looking up from her water-glass. Jason and Charles frown and Charles put his fork down.
“When is it?” Charles asks.
“Monday,” she responds.
“Monday!” Jason exclaims. “Fuck! Are you serious?” Butterfly nods.
“I’m afraid so,” she says. “No doubt, this means that Seattle knows that we’re married and we most likely won’t be able to get into Escala when we get back.”
“This means that we need to put some things in place before we can leave,” I add. “Since it’s the business day in Seattle right now, we’re going to have to get some balls in the air and I mean fast.” Jason nods. “I’m going to see if we can stay at my parents’ house when we get back if that’s okay with you, Butterfly.” She nods.
“It’s fine with me, but won’t we be imposing with Burton and Herman there?” she asks. I hiss.
“I forgot about that. I’ll see if we can make other arrangements.”
“What about Dad and Mandy?” she asks.
“I wouldn’t mind,” I say. “I just don’t want to disrupt little Harry’s life like that.” It’s her turn to hiss.
“I forgot about that,” she says.
“Maybe we can just stay at a hotel?” I ask and she frowns.
“Well, okay, if we must.” She really doesn’t like that idea.
“It’ll only be for a couple of days, Baby, until we can get security straightened out at Escala. You know it’s going to be impossible to get in and out of there.” She sighs.
“I know. Do what you need to do,” she relents reluctantly. I squeeze her hand.
“It’s going to be fine,” I say. She nods, unconvinced. I think she has just taken all that she can take at this point.
“Carly Madison-Perry is taking a plea,” she says, dropping her fork onto her plate. Charles nearly chokes on his food.
“She’s what?” he says, wiping his mouth.
“She’s taking a plea. I don’t know exactly what that means for her, but I know that means that she won’t get what she deserves.” I can see that she’s getting agitated again, so I take her hand and draw small circles on her skin to calm her. She takes a deep breath and releases it.
“I’m going to ask Allen exactly what it means, and then we’ll go from there.” I nod at Jason and he nods back. I mean it, some terrible accident will befall this woman before she gets the opportunity to turn state’s evidence if they have any intention on setting this creature free after she orchestrated this whole attack on my wife. Butterfly falls silent and eats her meal. “I’m sorry, Keri. This means that your visit is going to be cut short.”
“No wotties, Mr. Chwistian. I leaving Satuhday night anyway. I sotty, I didn’t mean to cause any twouble.” I wave my hand.
“Don’t worry about it. Try to enjoy your last day here,” I tell her. I look over at Butterfly and she is making quick work of her dinner. That vomiting spell from the hot tub is long forgotten and her appetite is back in full force. I don’t want to bring any undue attention to her, so I turn my attention back to the staff. “We were going to fly to Crete on Saturday, so now I have to see if we can secure the villa until Sunday. I don’t know if they have it rented out already, but I will have to see and make other arrangements for us if that’s the case. We need to secure the jet as soon as possible. Norbert, Adrien, you can leave tonight or stay until Sunday if you wish. I’ll make sure that you get compensated as promised for your time.”
“Thank you, sir,” Norbert says. “It’s late now to try to get travel arrangements. We will stay to Sunday. It will be easier to get home that way.” Adrien nods his agreement.
“Very well.” I look over at Butterfly, who has gotten a second helping of chicken and potatoes and isn’t paying any attention to our conversation. “We should probably pack tonight—tomorrow at the latest. I’ll probably be on the phone with Seattle all night making sure everything is in place for our return…”
“Maylen cun pwoby hep,” Butterfly chimes in with a mouthful of food. I frown.
“What was that?” I ask turning to her. She swallows the ungodly mouthful of chicken she was just chewing.
“I’m sorry,” she says, wiping her mouth. “Marilyn can probably help.”
“How?” I ask. I’m sure that between me, Jason, Welch, and Andrea, we can have everything set and ready to go before morning. Butterfly shrugs.
“I don’t know. For one thing, she can tell you the latest gossip. They know we’re not at Escala but they don’t know where we are. They don’t know when to expect us back at SeaTac if at all. She can tell you what the buzz is and it may give us a better idea of when we should land that bird.” Shit! I hadn’t even thought of that!
“Can you see what you can find out for me? The more information I have, the better,” I say. She nods and wipes her mouth.
“I’ll go call her now,” she says, rising from the table. I grab her hand.
“Are you okay?” She nods, uncertain.
“As well as can be expected under the circumstances,” she says. That was the right answer. If she had said she was fine, I would have known she was lying. I kiss her hand.
“I’ll be down in a minute,” I tell her. She smiles tightly and wipes her mouth with her napkin again before dropping it on the table and leaving the dining room.
“Is she a nervous eater, Boss?” Jason asks. I nod.
“She’s been eating pretty well for the last… several weeks, I’d say, but it’s worse when she’s upset,” I say. Charles nods.
“Remember the candy situation in Anguilla?” he says. Jason and I groan. Even Keri remembers the ordeal since she took the candy back to the kids. “We won’t even talk about that mammoth hotdog-and-fry combo and that outrageous ice-cream-banana-split creation that almost cost me a limb when I asked if we could share.” Jason and I burst out in laughter. It really wasn’t a funny situation, but he just made it sound hilarious.
“Well, hopefully everybody’s already packed. If not, get packed tonight. Like I said, we were supposed to fly to Crete tomorrow, so I don’t know what our sleeping arrangements will be tomorrow night…” We talk about whatever minutia we can until we have finished dinner and break to different locations.
“Damn! That really sucks, Ana,” Marilyn says sympathetically. “I knew that Al would tell you about Edward’s trial, but that Madisongirl… I had no idea. Why are they giving her a deal?”
“I don’t know,” I tell her. “Nothing that the police or the district attorney or any of them does surprises me anymore, but I’m pissed as fuck. I know she’s going to get off with some sort of slap on the wrist. Shit, if she had killed me, they would probably give her community service.” I shake my head. “Anyway, I need to know the buzz in Seattle. I know that the wedding was front page news, but does anyone know that we’re gone?”
“Yes, they know you’re gone but not where you are. Honestly, may I suggest pulling Vee in on this one? I have a little information, but she has to have more.”
“Yeah, it is her job to…” I trail off. Job. Job! Oh my gosh.
“Ana, what is it?” Marilyn asks.
“Mare, look in my contacts in Outlook and conference Josh into this call.” There’s momentary silence.
“Josh! Of course!” There’s another pause before she tells me to hold on. In a few moments, she’s back. “Hello? Ana?”
“Josh, are you there?” she asks.
“I’m here, too,” he responds, and his voice is music to my ears.
“Hi, again, Josh.”
“Hey, Ana. How’s the honeymoon so far?”
“Quickly coming to an end as I’m sure you’ve already heard.”
“Yes, I imagined as much. So what’s up?”
“Josh, I know that you’ve already been wonderful in keeping our secret and helping us sniff out the mole in Christian’s company…”
“Hey, it’s as beneficial for me as it is for you. Not only do I get great material, but I also have friends in high places!” he says with a laugh and I laugh, too.
“I’m so glad to hear that, because I need you again,” I tell him.
“What can I do?”
“Christian has a PR department that’s usually on top of everything, and I plan to utilize them as well, but you seem to be able to get things from the wire… and possibly to the wire, I’m hoping.” There’s a pause.
“Yeah, I can do that, but what are we talking about?” he asks.
“I need to know how likely it would be for Christian and I to get into the country undetected.”
“None!” he says honestly. “Every reporter in the Pacific northwest is watching SeaTac 24/7 for that GEH jet. They know that with David’s trial being a couple of days away that you two have to fly back in here sometime this weekend. I don’t care if you come in at 2am, they will be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed waiting to ambush you.” I sigh and shake my head.
“There has to be a way,” I lament. “Maybe if we flew into another state and got a charter flight…”
“They’d still be on top of you the moment you hit SeaTac,” he says.“Somebody would spot you, Ana. They’re looking for you.” I put my hand on my forehead.
“There has to be a way,” I say. “We can’t have them follow us from the airport. We’re trying not to go back to Escala.”
“You could use a diversion,” Marilyn pipes in. Hmm…
“What do you mean?”
“You know, a decoy of some kind. Something like that,” she says. Just like that, a light bulb goes off.
“We have to go through customs as soon as we get to an American airport,” I say.
“Yeah, that’s generally the idea,” Josh says in a stating-the-obvious kind of tone.
“So, the masses have their eye out for the GEH jet. If they see it, they expect us to be on board.”
“I think you get my idea,” Marilyn says.
“I think I see where you’re going, but tell me anyway,” Josh says.
“The jet stops in New York and we go through customs there. The jet continues to Seattle with a tip-off that the GEH jet will be landing at SeaTac. While they’re waiting for us to disembark, we’ve chartered a flight to another airport and are well on our way to our lodging accommodations before anybody knows that we’re not on the jet. Many of them may even stay out there all night thinking that we’re sleeping on the jet.”
“Good God, that’s brilliant!” Josh says.
“That’s more than I would have come up with,” Marilyn adds.
“So, where do you need me?” Josh asks.
“I need you to get it on the wire that the GEH jet is making an international departure to parts unknown to retrieve Christian and Ana Grey, nothing more—but don’t leak that information until tomorrow night. I know by then the jet will, in fact, be on its way to get us if not here already. It’s going to require that you camp out at SeaTac with the rest of the suckers. Are you game?”
“Are you kidding? I get to lead the wild goose chase? I wouldn’t miss this for the world! I have to practice my angry face for when I realize that we’ve all been ‘duped.’” I laugh in the phone.
“I’m so glad that I can count on you, Josh. You’re at the top of my Christmas card list!”
“Don’t forget you said that. A Christmas card from Christian and Ana Grey could be very valuable sometime in the future.” I smile.
“You got it. Correspond with Marilyn for me on any developments and gossip that may need to float our direction. I may need to hire my own PR team after this…”
“I’ll be your secret public informant,” he says facetiously. “I’ve got to run. I have a couple of assignments before I set the mouse free in the city. I’ll keep you posted.”
“Thanks again, Josh. Mare, don’t go away…”
I give Marilyn instructions on what to pack from Escala assuming that she can get in. I don’t know how recognizable she is to the press, but I will need clothes for wherever we are going when we get stateside and so will Christian. Luckily, Jason has already notified Gail by the time I call her and fill her in, asking her to please help Marilyn get together some things for us for a few days as I have no idea how long we’ll be away from our penthouse. Next, I call Daddy. He’s surprised to hear from me on my honeymoon, until I tell him why the honeymoon is being cut short. Al and James each have a place. Maybe they’ll let us stay in the place that they’re not using? I’ll see how Christian feels about that before I ask them.
I lie back on the bed looking at the white cave-like ceiling of our room. The villa is very clean and understated, one of the most modest places I have ever stayed while traveling with Christian. Everything is simple and neat. I think that’s why I like it so much. I think our meditation/connection room in our new house will look like this—functional and cozy, not white though. We’ll need a more comforting color in the room. Maybe a soft tan—that seems toogeneric. I’m thinking an organic wallpaper of some kind…
I awake and it’s dark in the room. The sun has gone down and the bed is cold. I have a slight headache. I get up to see if I can find some pain killers and I hear Christian’s voice in the dining room.
“Yes, I know. I just didn’t want to burden you… Not yet, I’m trying to make arrangements now… No, Mom, that wasn’t it. I just didn’t want to impose. You’ve already got Pops and Uncle Herman there. You’re going to have a house full of people… No, I’m certain she won’t mind. Her reaction was less than pleased when I mentioned staying at a hotel… Yes, Mom, I know. I’m making arrangements now. I’ll let you know as soon as I do… She’s okay for the most part, but she didn’t take the news well. It’s been so much on her and, well, you know…” He rubs his hand over his face and then through his hair. “I know. I know, Mom. I just… I hate to see her unhappy and this shit is wearing on her… Sorry, Mom. I forget sometimes… Okay. Tell everybody we love them and we’ll be there soon… Bye.” He ends the call and starts typing on his laptop again. He’s sighing heavily and I know that he’s trying to figure something out. That’s when I make my presence known.
“Hi,” I say walking into the dining room. He looks at his watch.
“Hi, Baby. What are you doing awake? It’s after 2am.”
“I awoke and you weren’t there. I knew you were trying to get things set up for our return. Grace said it’s okay for us to stay?” He looks at me, then back down at his computer.
“More like forced me to stay,” he says. “I was trying to make other arrangements and God only knows how she found out. She scares me sometimes.”
“Kind of like you scare everyone else,” I say, sitting next to him and laying my head on his shoulder. “What are you working on now?”
“The quietest way to get back into Seattle. There doesn’t seem to be one.”
“Yes, there is,” I say, rubbing my eyes. “We’re going to be in the air when?”
“Sunday afternoon. It’s the soonest they can have the jet ready and we’ll have to get to London-Heathrow to meet it. Too many complications involved in getting it to Greece in such short notice.” I nod.
“I’ll call Josh and let him know.” He frowns.
“Josh?” he questions. I fill him in on the plan we devised to sneak into the States. He rubs the stubble on his chin and types into his laptop.
“That just might work,” he says, twisting his lips and still typing. “We can’t fly into Boeing Field. It would most likely be just as monitored as SeaTac, but with the jet sitting on the tarmac—what a diversion. Who thought of that?”
“Marilyn,” I inform him, rubbing my head.
“I just might have to hire her,” he says.
“Nope. You took Allen, you can’t have Marilyn. She’s mine… for life. She’s going to be my PA when I’m old and gray unless she quits to do something else.” I’m still rubbing my head.
“I’ve got a headache,” I tell him. He kisses me on the cheek and goes to the kitchen. When he comes back, he has orange juice and water.
“Drink the water first. If there is any aspirin or ibuprofen here, I have no idea where they are.” He watches me drink the water, then moves behind me and begins to massage my temples. Oh God, it’s heavenly. I don’t want to fall asleep again. I want to stay and help and I want to start getting back on Seattle time. I know it’s somewhere around 4:30 in the afternoon there right now, so I need to stay awake for at least a few more hours.
“Better?” he asks after massaging my temples for a few minutes.
“Much,” I respond. He stops massaging. The pain isn’t completely gone, but it has subsided quite a bit.
“Headaches not caused by some major illness are often a result of dehydration. Drink your orange juice now. It’ll help clear the fuzziness.” I drink down half of the glass. It’s so good. I look back at his computer and his fingers caressing the keys. “Our best bet would be to fly into Bellingham or Yakima and get a car from there, but renting a car or even having one meet us would be a dead giveaway. The press would follow anything leaving from Escala.” I start thinking again.
“Then let them,” I say. “Have one or two of the other security detail leave Escala in one of the Audis and pick up our luggage at SeaTac. Have Grace or Carrick meet us at Bellingham or Yakima… or even Elliot or Val.” The wheels are turning in his eyes again.
“You think of everything, huh?” he says, typing into the laptop again.
“Nah, I’m shooting from the hip. I think on my feet.” I lay my head on his shoulder.
“What happened with the hot tub earlier?” he asks, still typing on his computer and occasionally on his blackberry. I shrug.
“It was too hot,” I tell him. “I hadn’t eaten anything and I guess the temperature was too much. I don’t know. My stomach was just insanely queasy and the next thing I knew…” I shrug again. He eyes me curiously.
“No more hot tub without food, I guess,” he says, turning back to the computer. “So the charter plane to Bellingham is completely doable. I guess just put whatever we may need in a carry-on to go on the charter plane.”
“Marilyn and Gail are packing some things for us to take to Grace and Carrick’s. Marilyn is not so recognizable right now, so she can take the things to Grace and Carrick’s without being spotted and they’ll be there when we get there.” He nods.
“Good. So, nothing is left but for us to get there without attracting attention. This will be a neat trick. After this, they won’t know whether to follow the GEH jet or look for us in some obscure airport somewhere.” He laughs.
“Why had you never had a contingency plan like this before?” I ask.
“I never needed one,” he says. “I didn’t care about them parked at the airport or camping out at Escala or Grey House. I just ignored them.” He looked up at me. “Things are different now.”
“It bothers you that they intrude now.” It’s more of a statement than a question. He nods.
“I’ve always been fodder for gossip and headlines, but the things going on in our life right now… they should be private. I never knew that people could exploit someone’s suffering so much until all our calamity became front page news. I saw it happen to other people, but I never really paid attention. Lincoln gets arrested and they’re trying to find the kids she molested to talk to the parents. You get kidnapped and beaten and they’re camped out at the damn hospital! The same thing happened when Jason was shot! They’re vicious and heartless and…” He pinches the bridge of his nose. I gently rub his back. “I’m scared to death for when we have kids, Ana. They won’t have any kind of normal life.”
“Yes, they will,” I reassure him. “They will have a family that loves them and if I know you, you will build a fortress for them to live in that’s larger than a small city. Their kindergarten teachers will be screened within an inch of their lives and their little 5-year-old playmates will have to sign NDAs.” He laughs.
“Well, not far from it,” he says. His email pings and I can see that it’s from Welch.
“Do you need some privacy?” I ask.
“No,” he says. “It’s probably about the travel arrangements.” He opens the email and, sure enough, Welch already has a quote on chartering a Challenger 604 or a Gulfstream III to get us from New York to Bellingham. All that’s left is to get us to London-Heathrow.
“So what do we do next? Do we have somewhere to stay tonight? We were supposed to be gone.”
“Well, we have to compromise. There will be another couple staying down here in the private villa, so you and I have to move upstairs. Charles is going to have to move into the villa with Jason and you and I will take the small one-bedroom. It’s just for one night, Baby.”
“That’s okay, Christian. At least we don’t have to go to another hotel completely and we’ll already be packed to leave on Sunday afternoon. Chuck will be taking Keri to the airport tomorrow anyway. What about Norbert and… Adrien?” He looks at me and smiles.
“No more Meathead?” he teases.
“He gave an asshole a gut shot for me. I guess I can give him a break. Besides, it’s just for one more night, right?” I shrug. He kisses me on the cheek.
“They have flights out to Paris on Sunday before we fly to Heathrow. We really didn’t need them as much as I thought we would, but they were helpful in Paris.”
“If you say so,” I say, looking back at his computer. “Vee emailed you.” Again, it should have been a question, but it was a statement.
“Yeah, to tell me that the press is teeming in front of Grey House for a statement. There’s a lot of speculation about the trial and they’re trying to get information. The word seems to be that we—more specifically, I—am responsible for all of the continuations and that the court date fell during our honeymoon because I couldn’t get another one.” I shake my head.
“I am dreading this trial. I know exactly what they’re going to do. I was kidnapped, beaten, traumatized, nearly raped, robbed, disfigured… and now, I’m going to be villainized.” I rub my face and shake my head, trying to wipe away the tear that falls before he sees it. I’m not successful. He takes my face in both his hands and kisses the eye that shed the tear.
“I don’t know what you think I can or can’t do to that Perry woman, but this fucker—I can make him pay. I can make him squirm and cry and suffer for the rest of his life. He will be better off getting convicted than to fall into my hands. So, don’t you worry. That asshole will pay until his dying day.”
I believe him when he’s talking about David, but Carly is another story.
“Speaking of that Perry woman, any update on her?” He kisses my cheek and drops his hands.
“No. I asked Allen what we could expect with David, but I didn’t ask about Perry. One mountain at a time,” he says, squeezing my hand. I sigh.
“So besides an Ana bloodbath, what can we expect with David?”
“Well, he’s not pleading insanity actually. To be specific, his defense is diminished responsibility and duress. It’s a little different from insanity or temporary insanity. One defense focuses more on the defendant’s competency and ability to stand trial and understand the consequences of his actions while the other focuses on the state of mind at the time of the crime and the defendant’s fear of personal harm. Allen assures me that it’s still likely to fly out the window because he never attempted to contact the police before taking any action, so this defense is very likely to fall flat unless his attorney has a bird-in-the-hand that we’re not aware of.”
“I can guarantee it,” I say. “He’s vindictive and manipulative and I’m certain that he’s got something up his sleeve. I’m certain of it.” I sigh again. “I’m hungry.” He looks at me like some sort of strange creature.
“Really?” he asks and I know what he’s thinking. I ate like a cow storing food for later at dinner.
“I burned calories that I didn’t store with that workout, so I had to replenish them. Now, I’m hungry, like normal people are when they wake at 2:00 in the morning and start the day.”
“You haven’t started the day. I’m getting you back to bed.”
“Yes, I have, Grey,” I scold. “I need to stay awake for at least another four hours and then I can take a nap. I need to start getting back to Seattle time as close as possible or I’m going to be crabby and fuzzy in court and I want my head to be clear as a bell!” His lips form a thin line, but he relents.
“Fine, but you’re going to bed at six and I expect you to sleep until at least 10am,” he scolds.
“We’ll see,” I say.
“Damn straight, we’ll see. Test me and I’ll fuck you like a Neanderthal at five to be sure.” My eyebrows furrow.
“Is that supposed to be a threat?” I ask. Don’t go to sleep and I’ll fuck you? Really? He smirks.
“Test me and find out,” he says, raising his eyebrow. I shake my head.
“I’m going to find something to eat, and then I’m going to pack,” I say, kissing his forehead.
It turns out that I didn’t need to test Christian after all. After I ate and finished packing our things, I was dead to the world by 5:30. He had to wake me to check out of the private villa at 11:00 so that the staff could clean it. Jason and Chuck had already taken our luggage up to the Katikia villa and Christian carried me since I simply could not open my eyes. He put me in bed in the villa, pointing out that it was 1:00am in Seattle and I could get some more sleep. He didn’t have to tell me twice.
It turns out that we all had the same idea to try to get back onto Seattle time as quickly as possible. At about 3pm, I wake with Christian wrapped around me and sleeping soundly. He couldn’t have gotten more than four hours of sleep and I don’t want to wake him, but I have to pee. I slide out of bed as quietly as I can and go relieve myself. When I come out of the bathroom, he’s still asleep. I remove my phone from the charger and go out to the pool.
Hanging my feet into the water I send a text to Marilyn.
**I need black and blue suits with white shirts and matching shoes. I need stud earrings—pearls or diamonds. They are in the jewelry box on my chest of drawers. If you get the pearl earrings, I need my string of pearls too.**
I’m facing this mess head on and I don’t want to show any signs of weakness or uncertainty. If they’re going to paint me as the villain, I want to make sure that they know who they’re dealing with. I got a text back a few minutes later.
**I packed the Love Collection. You didn’t want that?**
I respond quickly.
**You can leave it, but I need studs if it’s not too much trouble.**
I don’t plan to wear the Love Collection to court—only suits and studs.
**I kind of knew that you would want suits, but I packed some other things, too, just in case.**
Marilyn knows me so well.
**What are you doing up so early on a Saturday?**
The response is immediate.
I laugh. Of course, she would be. She knows me.
**Christian wants to hire you. I told him that he couldn’t have you. You’re mine for life.**
There’s a pause after that text. I’m thinking that she’s wondering if I’m serious. A few minutes later…
**Can I get that in writing?**
She’s unsure. I know with all the changes in my life, she is wondering where she stands. Even though I don’t use her as much in the “receptionist and secretary” capacity, she is irreplaceable as a personal assistant. So yes, you can get that in writing.
**We will work on a contract that we both agree with when I’m stateside. Is that okay? I don’t want to lose you. I couldn’t function without you.**
I can see her smiling in my head, but I know that she needs to protect herself. Up to this point, we’ve been going on word and that’s all. There’s nothing to protect her if I just go nuts and decide that I don’t want her anymore. She needs that safety net in case something happens since she’s putting all of her eggs in this one basket.
**That would be great, Ana. Don’t worry, as long as you don’t abuse me, I don’t plan on going anywhere.**
That’s music to my ears. I text her some other pleasantries about her and Gary and Greece before I end the conversation.
And I’m hungry again.
I very well should be. I’ve been sleeping all day and it was 12 hours ago that I last ate. That was just a fruit salad and some toast. I go to the community kitchen to see what might be available. There’s some leftover chicken from last night. That’ll do me for now. I put some of the chicken on a plate and pop it in the microwave. There’s some kind of loaf bread on the counter. I slice two pieces and pop it in the toaster. There’s some tomatoes in the refrigerator, so I cut a few slices. My chicken is done, so I put the tomatoes on the plate with a little salt and pepper and a splash of some oil and vinegar. My toast is done—just lightly enough to be crunchy on the outside and still soft on the inside, so I don’t need butter or anything. I play around with the idea of wine and decide that it’s probably not a good idea this early in the afternoon. Besides, the thought of it is making my stomach churn for some reason, so I just opt for water.
I sit on one of the loungers by the pool and tear into my lunch. God, I’m starving! The sun is high in the sky and I didn’t bring any sunglasses out with me. There is no stirring from any of the villas and I’m thinking that everyone must be fast asleep, except maybe for Chuck, who had to take Keri back to the airport to get her flight. I wonder if they’re serious. I mean, she did fly to Greece to see him and he risked his job to get her here. He could have put her up in a nearby hotel or villa, but he didn’t want to chance not being able to see her. I know that had to upset Jason since he couldn’t bring Gail along. With us leaving, my idea for bringing her to Greece for the last leg of the trip is moot, but at least he’ll be able to see her soon.
I finish my lunch and go into our villa. Christian is still asleep, his hand reaching to the empty spot in the bed—no doubt, looking for me. I take my sunglasses from my backpack and go back out to the pool.
“Hi.” I hear a female voice and open my eyes after I have been lounging on the chaise in the sun for about twenty minutes. I adjust my eyes and focus to see a young, attractive blonde in a string bikini standing over me. She’s not overly nipped and tucked, but you can tell that she’s had some work… and she is hot! When I say hot, I mean really hot.
“Hi,” I respond sitting up on my chaise. She drops her towel on the chaise next to me to reveal these tiny scraps of material that only cover her nipples and the slit at her crotch. Everything else is on display—her full ass, her ample mounds… she might as well be naked. She smiles at me and I feel a twinge of caution. There’s a nearly naked woman walking around the pool and my husband is about 50 feet away sleeping in our villa. Heaven help me.
“My name is Shelly. I’m in the villa downstairs.” Yes, I am aware of this. She sits on the chaise and begins to apply suntan lotion to her skin.
“I’m Ana,” I respond. I don’t really know what else to say. She knows we’re—well, I’m—in one of the villas up here.
“We were told that no one had rented the villas upstairs. We thought we would have the place to ourselves,” she says with no malice. We?Oh yes, Christian did say there would be a couple down there. I guess she thought no one would be here, so it would be okay to wear basically nothing to the pool.
“We’ll only be here for the night,” I tell her. “We have to fly to the states tomorrow afternoon.”
“Oh.” She sounds a little disappointed. I thought you wanted the place to yourself. “It’s a big place. The idea of being able to walk around freely is tempting, but it’s also fun to have other people around. At least you’ll be here for the night, though.” She smiles widely and puts her suntan lotion on the floor. “You’re very pretty.”
What? I’m glad my glasses hide my expression, because I know I’m looking incredulously at her.
“So are you,” I say, when I find my words. She chuckles.
“No, I’m hot,” she says, almost sarcastically while lying back on her chaise. “This look came from the doctor—boobs, hips, ass, dye-job, facials… that makes me hot. I can tell you woke up like that. That makes you pretty.” Wow! That’s one of the best compliments I think I’ve ever gotten, masked behind some of the deepest self-hatred I’ve ever heard.
“Where are you from?” I ask.
“Malibu,” she says. That explains it. If she’s competing with the hardbodies that she sees down there, she’s in somebody’s chair or on someone’s table under the knife every week. “I like being hot, don’t get me wrong. I just prefer being pretty.”
“So… why change?” I ask.
“Because I wasn’t either, so I needed some help.” I can’t imagine that she had to change that much to be pretty. Just then, I see this abso-fucking-lutely gorgeous older man come from the stairs of the private villa. I would put him in his mid to late forties and his body is insane—not overdone, but muscles everywhere, and I mean everywhere!His hair is black with slightly graying sides and sideburns and he is hot, hot, hot! Hell, fuck keeping up with the Malibu babes. She’s got to keep up with him!
“This is my husband, Harley,” she says, holding her hand out to the muscle-bound mountain of deliciousness walking towards us. He’s wearing a pair of jogging pants as he strolls over to us.
“Hey, Baby,” he says, leaning down to kiss his wife. “I was wondering where you got off to.”
“Not a lot of places to go, Sweetness,” she says with a full, sincere smile. He looks over at me.
“Who do we have here?” he asks.
“This is Ana,” she says, gesturing over to me. “She and her husband are here for the night. They’re leaving for the States tomorrow.”
“Oh? Where from?” Harley asks.
“Seattle,” I respond. “How long have you two been married?” I ask.
“Six years,” Shelly replies. Hell! Unless she got married when she was 16, she’s not as young as I thought. “You?”
“Newlyweds,” I respond. “This was our honeymoon.”
“Oh, how nice. Did you enjoy yourselves?”
“Yes, we did,” I say, smiling as I remember the hot springs and the hiking, the Acropolis and dinner at Orizones. “We had a wonderful time. We started in Paris…”
Before I knew it, I had a captive audience hanging on my description of the Arc de Triomphe and Love Lock Bridge. Shelly commented on how she would love to go to the Moulin Rouge while Harley sat on the floor between our two chaises, his legs bent with his arms resting on his knees. Thank God my husband is hot and beautiful. While I appreciate Harley’s rugged good looks and physique, he does nothing for me in the libido department. I keep looking at him and wishing Christian would wake up and come join us. After describing the beauty that is Athens, we hear scrambling at the door. It’s Chuck. Damn it, Christian, wake up!
“Is this your husband?” Shelly asks. I chuckle a bit.
“Um, no. This is my personal security. Chuck, this is Shelly and Harley. They rented the villa downstairs.” Chuck nods.
“Ma’am, sir, nice to meet you,” he says with a tight smile. He is a bit uptight and I can tell. “Anyone else up?”
“No, just me for now,” I say, throwing a questioning glance at him. He nods tightly and goes into the villa that he is sharing with Jason.
“Anyone else?” Shelly questions. “If you don’t mind me asking, how many people are here?”
“Um,” I start counting. “Six. My husband and I and our security team.”
“Team?” Harley asks. Oh, boy.
“Yeah. There are four of them. My husband is very serious about our safety.”
“Oh,” Shelly says, throwing a towel over herself. I guess she really did think they were here alone. Harley slowly and sensually pulls the towel off of her.
“You don’t have to cover up, Baby. You’re beautiful,” he tells her. Yikes. If I came out to the pool dressed like that, Christian would throw a blanket over me. I’m having flashbacks of a conversation that we had a while back concerning a nun’s habit or Ma Kettle or something like that.
I hear the questioning voice of my husband from a few feet away. I look up and he’s standing in the doorway wearing a pair of cargo shorts hanging off of his hips and giving a glimpse of the “V” that leads to his family jewels. Fuck, I want to drool.
“That’s my husband,” I announce as he begins to walk uncertain towards us. Harley turns around and looks while Shelly fawns over the nickname.
“Ooohh, Butterfly! That’s so sweet!” she croons. I don’t think Christian knows what to make of this scene as he approaches my lounger. I smile at her.
“This is Shelly and her husband, Harley. This is my husband… Chris.” Christian sits on my lounger and nods at Shelly and Harley. “They’re staying in the villa downstairs, Dear.” Realization dawns on his face.
“Oh. Now how did I forget that?” Christian says.
“You’ve been distracted with other things,” I remind him. “Is everything ready?”
“Yes,” he smiles. “We leave tomorrow at five and take a commercial flight to Heathrow. The jet will be waiting for us when we get there.”
“The jet,” Harley says. “Security team, private jet—are you guys royalty or something?”
“No, not so glamorous,” I answer, “but close enough.”
“So what are your plans for the day?” Shelly asks, no doubt hoping to piggyback.
“We were just going to stick around the villa for the day, try to get back on Seattle time,” Christian answers for us. Shelly’s face falls. I think she’s kind of lonely and I can’t really place why she seems a bit unhappy. “I planned for a very extravagant dinner for our last night, if you would like to join us… that is, if you don’t have other plans.” His statement is directed at Harley. He wouldn’t dare ask another woman to join us for dinner.
“That sounds great, Chris,” he says. “We had planned to stay in today and see the island tomorrow. That works out pretty well.”
The four of us continue to talk about this and that. Christian is careful not to give away too much information while carrying on the conversation. He’s also careful to stay very close to me. He’s like a second skin and I almost want to tell him to pull up a chair or move to another chaise. Harley is obviously very attracted to and fond of his wife, and Shelly doesn’t even make the googly-eyes at Christian that most women do. Conversation flows very freely for a long time until we see the staff coming in with enough bags of groceries to feed a third-world country, and we know that the dinner will be getting started soon. Harley takes this moment to do some “laps” in the pool while Shelly and I continue to talk about our trip through Athens and Delphi before coming to Santorini.
“I’m going to shower now, Baby. I don’t want to miss our last Santorini sunset,” Christian tells me before kissing me and rising from the chaise.
“I’ll be with you in a second,” I say to his retreating back. He waves without turning around and disappears into the villa.
“Is it as hard as it looks?” Shelly asks, watching my husband walk away. What the fuck is she referring to?
“Keeping the women off of him, is it as hard as it looks?” I immediately feel sorry for her. I know that she’s speaking from experience and I have a feeling that it’s much harder for her than it is for me.
“I don’t have to,” I tell her. “He never gives me any reason to doubt him, and honestly, he doesn’t like the extra attention.”
“With a face like that, he doesn’t like extra attention?” I shake my head. She puts her sunglasses on and lies back on the chaise. “Must be nice.”
A/N: “Don’t let a bug on your windshield distract you from your journey.” Thanks, bugglady23.
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