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 34—Mending Fences
Well, I’m glad he’s doing better, but I’m still incredibly pissed off that Christian did this to himself. His throat is so irritated that the doctor told him not to talk for the next two days unless it’s utterly necessary. As a result, he’s been reduced to some form of charades or texting people that are sitting in the same room with him.
Christian Grey with no voice. Oh, this is going to be fun.
He hasn’t gotten all of his strength back, either. That’s because he has lost a little muscle mass from not eating in addition to the dangerous dehydration—which weren’t helped much by the occasion bouts with bourbon.
I could just slap him!
Taylor thankfully arrived with food for us as well as clothes and toiletries for Christian. Christian slowly eats the homemade chicken soup as his stomach can’t take too much too soon after having nothing for five days. I, on the other hand, tear ravenously into the pancakes, eggs, sausage, biscuits, hash browns, juice and coffee that Gail sent over for me, because by the time Taylor gets back to the hospital, it’s lunchtime. Christian and Taylor both gawk at me as I devour my food shamelessly to which I snap with a mouth full of food, “Stop staring at me, I’m starving!” Both men quickly find anything else in the room more interesting than my making a glutton of myself.
After brunch, Al shows up with my clothes and supplies so I excuse myself to the shower and let him talk to Christian. The doctor has informed us that once he looks at Christian’s saturations and stats, he should be okay to go home. I have a small surprise for them when I come out of the bathroom. Al bursts into laughter and Christian just sits there looking at me like I’m something fresh out of Area 51. I’ve borrowed a set of hospital scrubs from Alexa with the strict instruction that no one will be touching my man but me.
“Well, well, well, Nurse Ana. Are you here to give me my sponge bath?” Al says in that over-dramatic southern drawl gay voice that I love so much.
“That is exactly my intention,” I say with a smirk, “but not you.” I say before turning my attention to Christian. Realization dawns and he’s feverishly tapping on his blackberry while shaking his head. I have to retrieve my iPhone to see what he said.
**You cannot give me a sponge bath. There will be problems! **
“Well, suck it up, Grey, because if you think I’m letting someone else do it, you’re out of your mind! Al, will you help me get him to the bathroom, please?” Al’s eyes get big.
“Uh, Jewel, I don’t think you want me to see that,” Al cautions, and Christian’s eyes grow large.
“I’m not telling you to undress the man!” I snap! “I just want to make sure that he doesn’t fall before I get him there!” Christian starts waving his hands and typing away.
**I can walk. I’ll sit down when I get there. **
“Okay. Fine. Al, stick around until I get him into the bathroom so that my boyfriend doesn’t fall and bust his hard head!” I shoot.
“That I can do,” Al agrees, standing up. “You’re a hot guy, Chris, but I don’t want to know you that way.” He winks at Christian.
“Ditto,” Christian says in a hoarse, raspy voice.
“Hey!” I scold. “You be quiet. The doctor said only when necessary!” He throws his hands up in a “What did I do” shrug. “Get your ass out of the bed,” I say in mock disdain.
“Come on, Chris. The faster you get this done, the better,” Al says. Christian finally surrenders and throws the blankets off his legs. He cautiously put his feet on the ground and then tests his weight on his legs before standing. Once he realizes that he’s standing with no vertigo or weakness in his legs, he nods and walks to the bathroom.
“Thanks, Al. I’ll see you later?” I say.
“You bet, babe,” he says before kissing me on the cheek and leaving the room. I go into the bathroom with Christian and lock the door. Like I said, nobody sees my man but me.
“Can you get undressed?” I ask and he nods. While he removes his boxer briefs and the awful hospital gown, I make sure the water is warm enough and situate the shower chair. I turn around and he is standing there in all his glory.
Holy. Cow. Batman. Focus, Steele. We’ve got a job to do here.
I assist him in getting into the shower chair and begin to wet his skin with the detachable shower head so that I can clean him. Hmm, this will be easier with gloves than a washcloth. I remove my microfiber gloves from my overnight bag and put them on, lathering them with some of Christian’s Armani Code body wash, thankfully provided by Taylor. I start with his back since that will be the easiest place to wash without getting groped… or so I thought. My boyfriend is all hands while I’m trying to clean him up, and I don’t have the heart to tell him that playtime is postponed since I got the visit from my monthly friend.
“Christian, behave!” I scold as I move over his shoulders and to his chest. He doesn’t seem to care that I’ll be covered with wet handprints that will make these green scrubs look like a crime scene. I just give up the fight and work to get this man clean. I gently scrub his chest and arms and move down to his abs. As soon as I get to his pubic hair, his little soldier is standing at full attention.
Did I say little soldier? Good God!
I know neither of us is going to be able to move forward if we don’t do something about that.
I take him gently in my hands and massage with the microfiber glove and a generous amount of soap. He gasps audibly at the sensation and clutches the arms of the shower chair. At first, he tries to restrain himself, holding his breath and pushing back into the chair until he sees that the gentle massage has turned into a firm rhythmic stroke. He drops his head back, the water coming up like a fountain from the discarded shower head lightly wetting his too-long copper locks. He slightly loosens his grip on the shower chair and begins to thrust into my hands.
“Ana…” he croaks as I feel his member stiffen in my hands.
“Sssshhh,” I gently silence him. I stroke him hard from base to rim with one hand while I use the palm of the other hand to torment the head in delicious, teasing circles. Christian presses his tongue to his top lip as he silently absorbs the pleasure and tries not to push out of the shower chair. I love to watch him come apart in my hands, helpless in the throes of passion while his balls stiffen and rise and his cock turns a delicious dark pink, ready to explode. His leg starts to tremble and I know he can’t take too much more.
“Come on, baby,” I whisper in his ear and gently suck and bite his lobe. “Give it to me…”
Christian erupts fantastically in my hands—thick, long, white streams of semen escaping from his pulsating erection as he fights to stay in the chair and not make a sound. His breaths are loud and brutal as I stroke him deep and hard until the last of his ejaculation springs from his manhood. I convert to gentle massage again as he comes down from his orgasm and starts to catch his breath.
“Better?” I say, kissing him gently on the lips and cheek.
“You’re trying to kill me,” he squeaks as he lies helplessly in the shower chair.
“No, I’m not. I’m trying to make you relax and it looks like it worked since you’re in the perfect position for me to wash your hair.” I smile at his contented form sprawled in the shower chair as I rinse the glove and reapply shower gel to finish cleansing him. Once his body has been cleaned and rinsed thoroughly, it’s time to attack this ridiculous mane that has accumulated on his head. This could not have happened in just five days! Maybe these outrageous whiskers are making it seem longer than normal. Nonetheless, I want my man back, so all this damn hair has to go.
He purrs softly as I apply the shampoo and lovingly scratch his scalp. I’m sure that no one has ever washed his hair, at least as an adult anyway. So, I take great care in scratching and massaging his scalp and manipulating his neck. He has fallen completely silent, his eyes closed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this content unless he was asleep—and if I keep this up, he soon will be. I rinse the shampoo out and towel dry his hair. I use a second towel to dry his body and help him out of the shower. Since there doesn’t seem to be another chair in the bathroom, the shower chair will have to do.
I remove the shower chair from the shower and place it in the middle of the bathroom as he wraps the second towel around his waist.
“Sit,” I command. He looks at me, confused. “I love you dearly, but this…” I gesture to his beard and punk-rocker hair, “has got to go!”
He smiles at me and takes a seat in the shower chair. I apply some of the shaving cream from the warmer to his face and slowly and gently remove the lumberjack look he has acquired, taking care not to cut him.
“There’s the man I love,” I proclaim as I wipe the excess shaving cream from his face. I run my cheek along his to test for smoothness.
“Perfect,” I say as I kiss his cheek and reach for his aftershave. “Do you want to do this, or shall I?” He points to me with a content smile.
I put the lotion on my hands and apply it to his face and neck. He slips arms around my waist and pulls me onto his lap. There’s an unnamed emotion in his eyes… it’s almost painful. I don’t think I want to know what it is. Instead, I kiss him lovingly on the lips and say, “I’m not done yet. I’ve got to tame the mane.” I run my fingers through his hair and pick up the scissors from the counter. He nods, kisses me quickly, and lets me get up.
I work my way around his head, taking off about an inch and a half of long curly hair all around. When I’m done, I admire my handiwork. He looks good! Maybe too damn good. I may have to beat off a nurse or three on our way out. I hand him his Hugo Boss boxer briefs and his Diesel black gold Superbia jeans so he can cover up the deliciousness hanging between his legs. He catches me eyeballing him and plants that smug smile on his face.
“Yeah, yeah, put your clothes on. They’re going to be discharging you any minute now,” I scold.
He puts me my out of my misery and dons his boxer briefs and his jeans. He bends down and allows me to pull his black T-shirt over his head. I help him get his arms in and just as I’m pulling it down over his delicious abs, his hands gently cup my face… and there’s that look again. His eyes are a deep ash gray and his pupils are dilating and constricting. Is he upset? Hurt? Afraid?
“What is it, baby?” I say, afraid of the answer that I’ll receive. Without a word, he pulls me into his arms and holds me close to him. The embrace becomes stronger, warmer, deeper. I’m losing my breath—not because he’s squeezing me, but because I feel every emotion that he’s relaying to me through this embrace.
“Christian…” I breathe. As if he knows it’s overwhelming me, he pulls me back and rubs his nose along mine. I tangle my fingers in his still damp hair and pull his face to mine, kissing him deeply, our tongues tangled desperately into one another. When I pull back for air, I look into his deep gray eyes.
“Do you know how precious you are to me?” I ask. He nods, without breaking eye contact. “Then don’t ever forget it again.” He nods again and pulls me in once more for a hungry, longing kiss.
When I come out of the bathroom, Taylor is looking at me like a father catching his daughter out past curfew.
“What?” I ask.
“You look like you just bathed a 2-year-old… with really large hands!” he says. That’s when I look down and examine the forest green handprints all over the lime scrubs I’m wearing.
“Yeah, yeah, he’s gropey!” I say dismissively. “Will you please get his socks and shoes, Mr. Taylor?”
“Yes, Your Highness.” He reaches into the duffel bag of Christian’s things and pulls out white tube socks and black and gray sneakers. I look back in the bathroom and catch Christian primping in the mirror admiring his new haircut.
“Alright GQ man, get out here and put your shoes on.” Christian emerges from the bathroom and Taylor nods his approval.
“Much better, sir,” Taylor says. Christian points to me. “Good job, Your Highness.”
“Thank you, Jason. Now excuse me while I get out of these.” I take my duffel bag and go the bathroom to change out of my crime scene clothes.
Taylor has brought some much-needed things from home—including food. For some reason, I’m still not very hungry. It’s probably the initial signs of starvation, but I better not tell Butterfly that—especially since she knows what a stickler I am about food and that I should know better. She, however, has no loss of appetite. If Taylor or I were to dare stick our hand in her plate right now, we may pull back a nub!
Al tears into me right after Butterfly closes the bathroom door to take her shower.
“Chris, I thought you were a smart man. What the hell was this about?” he scolds. I tap into my blackberry to send him a text.
**I didn’t do it on purpose, man. I thought I was eating when I was hungry. It didn’t even occur to me that I hadn’t eaten in that many days. **
After reading my text in his cell, Al lights into me again.
“Where the hell was your mind? Do you have any idea how badly this could have turned out?”
**I know it was dumb, but with all my staff, it wouldn’t have turned out that bad. **
“For you, maybe. What about for her? How do you think she would have felt if this had happened and she wasn’t there? How do you think she feels now? Dude, what happened in your head? You say you didn’t do this on purpose, but what happened?”
I don’t have an answer for him. All I knew was that Butterfly wasn’t talking to me and I had hurt her and pissed her off. I didn’t know if she was ever going to speak to me again because she wasn’t responding to any of my communications. None of the regular things that I did was making me feel any better and a sub was absolutely out of the question! I couldn’t find any relief. I couldn’t sleep, I was drinking too much, and nothing relieved me. I finally tapped into my blackberry.
**I’m fucked. I’m lost without her, man. I don’t know what I would ever do if she left me. **
I watch him waiting for a response and he just looks at his phone for several moments. He finally says, “What do you think she would do without you? How do you think she would feel if she lost you?” I shake my head and drop my gaze. I know she loves me, but can she possibly love me as much as I love her? Could she possibly be as dysfunctional without me as I am without her… after such a short period of time?
“Do you want to know how she felt without you, Chris?” I look up to meet his gaze. He hands me his phone.
I look at it and read my own text.
“I haven’t seen her that broken in years and there was nothing that I could do about it. You shut her down and she had no idea why, and she fell apart. And then she shut you down and you almost died. And honestly, Chris… if this hadn’t happened to you, I would have kicked your ass.”
I pop my head back and look at him. What the fuck…?
“Don’t look at me like that. I never knew my father. My mother died when I was 18. I don’t have any siblings and if I do, I don’t know where they are. Jewel is the only family that I have, and I told you not to hurt her!”
Okay, I have to say, this man is scaring me a bit. This is a personality that I’ve never seen. I’ve seen gay, playful Al. I’ve seen professional Al. I’ve seen sociable Al. This is I’m-going-to-kick-your-mother-fucking-ass Al, and I wasn’t prepared to meet him!
**I’m sorry! Really! **
“Well, you better fucking well be, because she’ll be pissed as hell at me for whipping your ass, but don’t think that’ll stop me!” he snaps.
**Okay! I get it! I get it! **
It’s not that I’m afraid of him, but I don’t want to get into any disagreement of any kind with Butterfly’s best friend. That’s a choice that I would never ask her to make, so I’ll never put her in that position.
“As long as we understand each other. No doubt, Jewel will be staying with you for a while…” I shrug. I’m not completely sure what her plans are. “I just took about a month’s worth of her clothes to your house. She’s going to be staying with you.” I try—and fail—not to show my extreme pleasure with this statement.
**Where did you put her clothes? **
“Mrs. Jones showed me to one of the guest rooms so I put them in there.”
**Not enough room in my closet? **
“I didn’t check, but I doubt it.”
**I’ll knock out a wall then. **
He shakes his head, “Yeah, you got it bad. It’s just clothes, Chris.”
**It’s the principle. **
Subs never slept in my bed. Subs never touched me. I never made love to subs, gave them nicknames, or shared special songs with them. But subs had clothes in other closets in Escala. That won’t be Butterfly. At that moment, Butterfly comes out of the bathroom… dressed is scrubs! Okay, what’s this!?
“Well, well, well, Nurse Ana. Are you here to give me my sponge bath?” Okay, that’s one of the “Al’s” that I know.
“That is exactly my intention, but not you,” she says with a grin. Oh, hell, is she talking about me? Baby, you can’t touch me naked if we’re not fucking. I’m aching for you.
**You cannot give me a sponge bath. There will be problems! **
“Well, suck it up, Grey, because if you think I’m letting someone else do it, you’re out of your mind! Al, will you help me get him to the bathroom, please?”
Al protests profusely, as do I, but Butterfly assures us that she just doesn’t want me to take a spill on the way to the bathroom. Once I show her that I can get there on my own, she and Al say their goodbyes and we proceed with the cleanup.
I don’t know if I’ve indicated how remarkable this woman is, but as she’s giving me a shower, physical things start to happen no matter how hard I try to concentrate. I’m trying to get Greystone to calm his damn nerves and the next thing I know, she got a soapy microfiber glove clamped onto my dick.
Have you ever felt a microfiber glove? Fuck! I swear they make those things out of the dreams of babies!
I’m trying to climb through the back of this shower chair and she’s not letting up. I try to tell her what she’s doing—just in case she doesn’t know—and she shushes me. So, whatever happens, happens. It has been six days—six days—since I touched her and she’s stroking my dick with warm soapy water and a microfiber towel… and she’s doing it well.
This is only going to take a minute!
I try, Lord knows I try, because I don’t want it to end yet. But when she bites my earlobe, it’s OVER! The fountain springs forth and I come so hard, it hurt! It doesn’t matter that I can’t talk because I’m not able to make a sound anyway. I’m trying to breathe through this shit, but it seems like the more I nut, the harder she pulls and I nut some more. I don’t know how long it lasts, but it feels like a full minute! By the time I finally collapse on that fucking chair, I’m completely spent.
Butterfly finishes washing me and then she washes my hair. It’s a glorious experience. Her little fingers seemed to soothe away every bad thing that happened this week—every wrong conclusion, every misunderstanding, every selfish action… everything. I’m disappointed when she stops, but I know we can’t stay here forever.
She lovingly dries me and proceeds to shave me. When she’s done, I only want her to know how much I love her; how sorry I was for putting her through the pain that I had caused—both by being a stupid asshole when it came to her and Elliot and by hurting myself this week by not taking care of myself. I pull her onto my lap but I can’t find the words—even if I could speak them all.
I love you, Butterfly. I’m a stupid fucking asshole shell of a man and I would die without you! Please forgive me for being a complete and utter jackass…
She lightens the mood by telling me that she has to cut my hair. So, I kiss her and let her do it.
In the last several years, nobody but Franco has cut my hair. Since I won’t be frequenting the Pedophile’s salons anymore, I guess I better find a new barber. Butterfly hands me my bottoms and tries to pretend not to stare at Greystone hanging just below half-mast. She waves it off and helps me get dressed. Once I’m clothed, I have to hold her. I can’t tell her how I feel, so I have to show her the best way that I can in this awful hospital bathroom. Once again, I wish I could meld her into me so that I could have her with me every single second of every single day. I don’t care that we have only been together for two weeks. She’s my everything. I want to spend my life with her, to grow old with her, to have babies with her. I want her forever.
“Christian…” My name is a song on her lips. It lifts my heart and makes me fly… when it’s not making me come. She grabs my hair and buries her lips in mine. This is all I’ve ever wanted. Even when I didn’t know what I wanted, this was it—to feel this way in someone’s arms, to feel like this was the most perfect place in the whole world. I would walk through fire, take numerous cigarette burns and endure 50 Elena Lincolns… if it meant that I would end up here, in this place, with her.
“Do you know how precious you are to me?”
Yes, Butterfly, I know.
“Then don’t ever forget it again.”
I won’t Butterfly, I promise.
**So, JASON, what’s with the Your Highness shit? **
Taylor seems a bit uncomfortable seeing his first name in print while Butterfly is changing clothes.
“You may want to ask her how that came about, sir. Quite frankly, sitting in a waiting room waiting to see if your boss and her lover is going to die tends to make people bond a bit,” he says.
“She doesn’t like ma’am, and during a crying fit where I was telling her that she needed to give you a break, she barked at me to call her anything but ma’am. Among the choices were Spot, Dr. Lady, and Pookie—her suggestions, not mine. She had a rather violent reaction to Pookie, so we landed on Your Highness,” he says with a bow. “And she was supposed to tell you this, not me!” I want to laugh, but I don’t know if I’m comfortable with him being so casual with her.
**You do remember that you are in my employ? **
“I’ll never forget that I’m in your employ, sir. But where your well-being is concerned, I will take certain liberties. Feel free to fire me.” Oooo, you’re walking a tightrope, Jason.
**What does your over-familiarity with my girlfriend have to do with my well-being? **
“It has everything to do with it!” he snaps. Does he have the nerve to be losing his patience with me? “Do you know how she ended up at Escala last night?” Come to think of it, I don’t. “I went to her apartment and told her to come. Do you think that she would have come if we didn’t at least have some familiarity?”
Why the fuck is everybody so much more logical than I am right now? Did I lose brain cells?
“She was sitting in the bedroom scolding your unconscious body like you willingly starved yourself. I know this may be your first time at the dance, but I know you well enough to know that you wouldn’t purposely do that. The problem is that she never considered that you wouldn’t know how to handle this so your sense of self-preservation went down the tubes. And to be quite honest with you, sir, if I had not gone to get her last night, I believe that you would still be sitting at home starving yourself,” he says.
**Of course, I wouldn’t. If nothing else, I would have passed out by now. **
“Maybe, maybe not. I believe seeing her brought your mental and emotional defenses completely down. And, once your brain registered comfort, your body wasn’t fighting anymore. True, your voice was damn near gone, and you’re right, you would have passed out sooner or later… but Friday? Tomorrow? Next week? And here’s what else. You’ve lost at least five pounds—maybe more. And you are zero percent body fat… so what do you think your body was eating, and how much longer do you think it could have eaten it?”
Am I going to have to hear this same beat down every time I talk to someone?
**If one more person gives me that speech, I’m going to start firing people! **
“Well get your pink slips ready, because I’m sure Gail may have a word or two for you; your mother hasn’t gotten a hold of you yet; and anybody that cares about you or Her Highness is going to have something to say about it… although I’m sure she gave you a piece of her mind.” Oh, shit.
**Actually, all she did was apologize. **
“To you?” He’s glaring at me and I nod. “She apologized to you?” I nod again. I know, Taylor, I know. He just shakes his head. “And you still wonder why everybody wants to be her friend? You might as well get used to it, that’s just who she is. She draws good people to her and she’s a bad people repellent! I bet not one of those Chain Dames you had coming around could produce two friends to come to your house at a moment’s notice and she produced seven—not including the one that left in a hurry. Gail adores her, Lincoln hates her, you two stayed the whole weekend at your parents’ so I know they liked her, and she was calling Chuck by his nickname after a couple of hours.”
Oh fuck! I am going to have to get used to this, aren’t I?
“By the way, that’s her new code name.” I furrow my brow. “Her Highness.”
**Somebody’s getting fired. **
“Well, fire her because she picked it, sir… and you didn’t want us to use Butterfly.”
Damn, that’s right. Her Highness will have to do. I run my hand through my shorter hair. Hmmm… I actually like it like this. Maybe I’ll just let Butterfly cut my hair… if she wants to.
“It’s a good look on you, sir… and so is she.”
“Yeah, I know, Asshole,” I squeak.
“Hey!” She caught me again! I didn’t say one word the entire time that she was in the bathroom and the minute I say something, she catches me! “Are you going to talk every time I turn my back!?” I just wave my hands and put my head down. “What’s that all about?”
“Probably because that’s the first thing that he’s said since you’ve been in the bathroom,” Taylor laughs as I’m flailing my hands around hoping my gestures show my frustration. When she leaves the room from now on, I’m just going to start talking so that she can come back.
“You don’t have to cover for him, Jason!” she says.
“Trust me, I’m not! And why didn’t you tell him about Your Highness?” he asks.
“I didn’t get a chance!” she says flailing her own arms this time. “‘Here, dear, while I’m cutting wisps of your hair, let me tell you that your head of security calls me Your Highness.’” She imitates me turning my head at that crucial moment. “He’d be wearing baseball caps for a month.”
As she sits on the sofa, I get a better look at her outfit. My Butterfly has such great style. She’s wearing a cream halter goddess dress with cream and brownish buttons on the chest arranged to look like a necklace. She is also wearing a pair of the Louboutins I bought her—the peep-toe Gladiator wedge sandals. I love to see her wearing those shoes. Not only is it something that I’m glad I bought her, but she has sexy little feet.
“Sooooo, when do we get to blow this popsicle stand anyway?” As if on cue, Dr. Fischer walks in with the day nurse, who gets one look at cleaned and shaved Christian and almost loses her balance, standing there with her mouth agape and showing absolutely no restraint or decorum whatsoever. Oh hell, Butterfly is not going to like this…
What the hell… Bitch, pick your bottom lip up off the floor!
I’m going to assume that this trick is looking at my man like she’s starving and he’s a Happy Meal because she doesn’t see me sitting here. So, I stand and walk over to Christian who quickly tucks me under his arm. I wrap one arm around his back and put the other hand on his chest.
Did this stop her?
Of course, not! She’s still gawking at my man like I’m not even there. Well, I’m not going to act like the jealous girlfriend, because he’s going home with me. And I can’t blame her for staring. He’s one fine specimen. However, she had better get her shit together and soon, because this is getting very irritating, very quickly!
“So, Mr. Grey, you should be feeling much better now,” Dr. Fischer says, looking at Christian’s chart. Christian does a thumbs up with his free hand. “Good. I see that you’re saving your voice like I told you.” He throws a look at me, to which I just respond, “umm-hmm” with my lips twisted at him. He’s been talking every time I’ve come into the room, but I won’t squeal to Dr. Fischer.
“So, like I said, no talking unless utterly necessary for the next couple of days. You should be much better by Monday, but if you’re not, you need to come back and see me. Slowly reintroduce food… you may have some mild stomach cramping today. It’ll be worse if you move too fast too soon with what you are eating. I say stick to soups and things easy to digest for today—nutritional drinks or shakes would be a good idea, too. If you feel any dizziness, nausea, or light-headedness, you need to come back in. You may feel some weakness from lack of nourishment and fluids—that’s normal. But like I said, that should go away, especially once you start eating properly again. Do you have any questions for me?”
Christian says nothing, but frowns and points to the “deer-stuck-in-headlights” nurse, his silent question clear:
What the fuck is her problem?
I understand being struck by his beauty, but with me standing here, tucked under his arm, we have graduated from absent-minded to disrespectful. Dr. Fischer looks puzzled at the nurse standing next to him, staring blankly at my man. He makes to say something to her when I come with a better idea. I tell Christian to slowly move behind me and then duck down until he’s eye level to me. He follows my instructions until Nurse Oh-My-God-He’s-So-Yummy is eyeball to eyeball with me. Her head snaps in that “Oh shit, what the fuck did I just do” way as realization dawns on her what just happened. I tilt my head, letting her know that I know what you just did, too.
“You okay, now?” I say to her, sarcastically. She just clears her throat and tries to look away. Dr. Fischer again starts to say something and I put a finger up to ask permission to say something before he does. When he nods his permission, I say:
“Nurse…” waiting for her to fill in the blank. Still looking everywhere else but at me she says:
“Johnson.” Hmmm… everybody else gave me their first name. She’s Johnson. No worries.
“Nurse Johnson, I’m a grown woman about to speak to another grown woman. So, would you please afford me the courtesy of looking me in the eye? I know that you can do it, because you were just doing it to Mr. Grey a moment ago.” She slowly raises her gaze to me, a mixture of shame and resentment. Fuck if I care.
“I’m going to forgive you your unprofessional and disrespectful behavior just now only because I realize the effect that he has on women. However, in the future, you may want to control yourself and refrain from that kind of desperate and unattractive ogling when someone’s wife or girlfriend is in the room, because the next woman may not be as tolerant as I am!” I spit. Now take that shitty expression and shove it up your ass!
The room falls silent while everyone waits to see what will happen next. Nurse Ogle finally mutters, “Sorry.”
“Oh, no,” Dr. Fischer says, folding Christian’s chart in his arms. “I’m sure you can do much better than that.” She looks at the doctor, then back at me.
“Please accept my apology for my unprofessional behavior, ma’am. I’m very sorry,” she said, curtly. The doctor presses her about her tone, but I stop him.
“That’s fine, Dr. Fischer. I don’t want an insincere apology. I just wanted to shed light on her unflattering behavior, and to let her know that if I were any less than the lady that I am that we would most likely be rolling around on the floor right now in a fight that she would be losing.”
Both Christian and Taylor succumb to uncontrollable snickers at that moment, no doubt remembering the unfortunate CCTV footage I’ve left for posterity.
“And to indicate that the next time she finds herself in this situation, she might want to exercise some self-control because the next woman she comes up against may not have my restraint, class, and sophistication,” I finish, never moving my eyes from her. You want a standoff, bitch, you got the right one. Her eyes narrow at me and mine narrow right back at her.
“Nurse Emily!” Dr. Fischer snaps. Emily… okay. Once again, she seems to have remembered herself and is now looking at Dr. Fischer. “Have you taken complete leave of your senses? Am I really standing here watching you treat a patient’s family this way?”
“I tried to apologize, Dr. Fischer,” she says, her voice dripping with fake contrition. My iPhone buzzes and at the same time, Taylor’s phone indicates a text. I look at my phone and then up at Taylor, who is looking at me with the same bemusement. We both look at Christian who gestures us back to our phones. Our behavior having gotten the attention of Dr. Fischer and Nurse Ogle, we both read his text aloud:
**Dr. Fischer, may I, my Butterfly, and my security please leave now? Present company is making me very uncomfortable… emphasis on the “very.” **
We all look at Dr. Fischer, who sneers at Nurse Ogle and says, “Yes, Mr. Grey. If you have no further questions…”
Christian shakes his head and proffers his hand to Dr. Fischer, who accepts his handshake with another apology to Christian. I don’t even bother looking at the non-person in the scrubs although Christian throws her a look of death that could bring a damn Viking to his knees. We quietly leave the room after receiving his discharge papers.
Escala is very quiet when we arrive. Christian comes in and immediately sits on the sofa in the great room, clearly glad to be back home. I walk over and put my hands on his shoulders.
“I’m going to go put these things away. Do you need anything before I leave?” He squeezes my hand and shakes his head. “I’ll be right back.” I go to the first guest room, I find and my clothes are not in the closet. I go to the second guest room and there they are. Good God, Al—making sure I had a large selection, huh? I put my overnight bag in the closet with my clothes, and I hear a buzzing in my purse. I pull out my phone.
**I’m sorry. **
I guess he doesn’t want the elephant to stay in the room longer than it has to. If I’m honest with myself, I don’t either. I refresh myself in the bathroom and go out to the great room with Christian.
“Of course, we need to talk,” I say.
**I know. **
I sigh. “I don’t know what in the world prompted you to think for one second that I would be unfaithful to you, much less with your own brother. You have to help me understand your thinking here.”
**I don’t have an excuse. I saw his truck and then the flowers. I knew he was there and it didn’t occur to me that he might need to talk to someone. I immediately thought the worst. **
“I’m trying to understand, Christian, but I can’t feel like you don’t trust me. I can’t feel like you’re going to jump to conclusions anytime a situation isn’t just cut-and-dried. There are a lot of situations in my life that aren’t just cut-and-dried.”
**I understand that now, but I’ve never felt this way for anyone and I don’t know how to handle it. Elliot is very flirtatious and he just broke his engagement. To me, that didn’t mean he was hurting. That meant he was free. **
“But Christian, I’m not free. That’s the first thing you should think of when this situation presents itself.” His shoulders fall because he no doubt knows this now, but not when he thought I was potentially having an affair with his brother. I sit on the sofa next to him.
“I understand that this is new for you. It’s new for me, too.” He looks at me, bemused. “My last relationship was a total disaster. After that happened, I have to get to a place where I can trust somebody again—give my heart away and hope it doesn’t get crushed. What’s more is that I have to give it to someone who has never had a heart in his hands. That terrifies me. But I also have to remember that you’ve never given your heart to anyone either—that this is probably scarier for you than it is for me. I think Taylor put it best when he said that, good or bad, Edward was my yardstick, but you don’t have one.” His eyes widen when he hears that.
**You two have gotten pretty cozy. **
“It was inevitable. He was trying to save your life and keep me from falling apart.” I sit back on the sofa. “I was wrong to shut you out, I know that, but you can’t do that to me either—and you sure as hell can’t pull this stunt again… even if we fight. This won’t be the last time that we disagree on something. And there may be a need for one or both of us to take a break from the other…” His eyes widen again and he’s about to start typing, but I put my hand over his.
“I’m not saying that we would ignore each other. We both know that doesn’t work out well. But we may—somewhere in the course of forever—need a break, you never know. In the future, we have to handle it better than this. None of that disappearing into thin air crap, and definitely none of that doing shit to hurt ourselves crap—can we agree on that?”
**I can agree on that, but I don’t think that there will ever be a time when I need a break from you. **
“I haven’t pissed you off yet, Christian. I’d love to live in a world where we can smile at each other and love each other and never be angry at each other. Unfortunately, I live in the real world, where people that do love each other sometimes do stupid things. I’m not saying that the moment I don’t agree with you, I’m going to run away to parts unknown—and I don’t expect that from you, either. I am saying that sometimes, distance is necessary so that we don’t say or do anything hurtful to the other.” He nods, reluctantly. I get on my knees on the sofa and take his face in my hands.
“I love you, Christian. I don’t want anyone else, only you. I love you with everything that I have even though this short amount of time says that I shouldn’t. You’re a part of me down to the molecular level and if anything happens to you, I don’t know what I would do. Please, don’t ever do anything like this to yourself again. Please…”
She’s so beautiful, sitting here trying to explain the err of both of our ways this week, but I can only see that I fucked up. I fucked up when I drew the stupid fucking conclusion that she would be unfaithful to me; then I fucked up by putting her through this scare when I damn well know better than to do this to my body. I have no excuse for it.
She’s trying to convince me that there may be a time when we need space from each other in the future, but after the week I’ve had, I never want to be separated from her again. Hell, if I didn’t have a company to run, I wouldn’t even go to fucking work. I would stay home, day in and day out, making love to her and finding new ways to take care of her and make her happy. I feel a strange twinge in my chest when she tells me that, no matter what I may think, we may need to take a breather from each other sometime in the future. I don’t want a breather, Butterfly, I want you.
“I love you, Christian. I don’t want anyone else, only you,” she says, kneeling on the sofa next to me and holding my face in her hands. “I love you with everything that I have even though this short amount of time says that I shouldn’t. You’re a part of me down to the molecular level and if anything happens to you, I don’t know what I would do. Please, don’t ever do anything like this to yourself again. Please…” Her voice is cracking and I feel like such an asshole for putting her through this. I nod. “Promise me!” she presses.
“I promise,” I say, my voice stronger than it was earlier. She closes her eyes and put her forehead on mine. Oh, God, I love this woman. I take her in my arms and pull her over my lap, kissing her passionately. I want to stay here forever, wrapped in her arms and cradling her in mine. She’s bringing me back to life. I want my kisses to say everything my voice cannot…
I love you, Ana.
I can’t live without you, Ana.
You are everything to me Ana.
Stay with me forever, Ana.
You belong to me, Ana.
We stay there absorbing and consuming each other until our lips are swollen, then we just sit silently in each other’s arms for a while—me rubbing her back and her running her fingers through my hair. We’re just basking in one another’s essence, trying to replace the parts of each other that were siphoned away from us during this horrific week. She reaches up again and, with her hand on one cheek, she kisses me sweetly twice on the cheek closest to her, and snuggles in on my shoulder.
God, I love her.
Our quiet moment is interrupted the unmistakable sound of Taylor clearing his throat. We both turn to look at him.
“Sir, Your Highness, there are people coming up the elevator.” He’s really going to keep that up, isn’t he? Without flinching, Butterfly says, “Who?”
“People,” Taylor responds. What the hell does he mean people? I throw a look at him that demands that he tell me who’s about to invade my home when he goes to the door and opens it to reveal Ana’s closest friends with huge balloons and flower arrangements.
“We heard there was a sick Chris over here!” Garrett announces as they walk into the great room. I can’t help but smile at this strange group.
“I should’ve known!” Butterfly exclaims, without removing herself from my lap. “You people couldn’t call first?”
“When have we ever called?” Maxine says.
“What if we had been busy?” Butterfly protests.
“Then we would have come back later,” Valerie says putting a bouquet of flowers with a grotesquely oversized “Get Well Soon” balloon attached to it. “Don’t hit me… I’m about to kiss your man.” I kind of freeze while Valerie kisses me on the cheek. Butterfly smiles and strokes me on the chest. “How are you feeling, Christian?” Valerie asks. I give her the same thumbs up that I gave Dr. Fischer.
“The doctor told him to save his voice until his throat is better,” Butterfly says to a bewildered looking Valerie. “So he mostly talks through text so that he can go back to running his company on Monday.” Valerie nods and returns my thumbs up.
“So, I’m assuming that you gave him the ‘stupid things not to do when you fight with your girlfriend’ speech?” Phillip says to Butterfly. I roll my eyes—please don’t let me have to sit through this again.
“Probably me and everyone who has come in contact with him so far… and he hasn’t seen his mother yet since he’s been discharged,” Butterfly answers. Oh, fuck! Mom! I forgot about Mom! Butterfly laughs at me. “Aha! Forgot about her, didn’t you?” I nod. My mom is going to rip me a new asshole.
“So, what do we have to eat?” Allen asks.
“You should have eaten before you got here. We’re not feeding you monkeys!” Butterfly says.
“Oh, yes we are!” A voice behind me says. Butterfly and I turn around to see an elated Gail has come from her apartment into the great room.
“Hi, Gail!” Ana’s crew all screams at once. Good damn! Where did these people come from? Gail breaks out into laughter while Butterfly exclaims, “You people are crazy!”
“How are you doing, sir?” Gail asks. I smile and give her a thumbs up.
“The doctor told him not to talk for a day or so,” Butterfly tells her and she nods.
“Well, I can whip up some quick finger food,” Gail states.
“I’ll help you.” Valerie jumps up to join Gail, who protests that she can handle it. “Nonsense. We descended upon you and I insist,” Valerie says with a smile. She dons Ana’s apron and is off in the kitchen helping Gail when my blackberry buzzes and I pick it up.
**We need to talk. **
Fuck! It’s Elliot. I type back to him:
**Are you going to chew me out, too? **
**I fucking should, but right now I just need to talk to you. **
I sigh. Might as well face the music.
**Where are you? **
Almost instantly he responds:
**I’m downstairs. **
**Come on up. The more the merrier. **
He responds back:
**Am I interrupting? Do you have company? **
**Just Ana’s friends. They’re like her family. Come on up. **
I show the texts to Butterfly and she looks at me with that look. “Are you ready for this?” she asks. I kind of nod and shrug and type to her:
**It has to happen sometime. Might as well happen now. **
A few minutes later, Taylor ushers Elliot into the great room. He freezes when he sees the amount of people in my apartment. I’m sure he has never seen this many people in my apartment.
“Everyone, this is Elliot, Christian’s older brother. Elliot, this is Phil, Maxie, Garrett…”
“Oh, you’re Elliot!” Allen exclaims. “How ya doin’ Big Boy?”
“That would be Allen,” Butterfly says to a slightly nervous Elliot. “Behave yourself, Al, or I’ll tell James on you!”
“Oh, you never let me have any fun!” Allen says, mocking exasperation. Butterfly waves him off.
“And in the kitchen is my friend Valerie,” she completes. I didn’t see or hear Valerie’s reaction, but Elliot’s double-take doesn’t get past me. “Elliot, he can’t talk, so have your phone ready. He can only text.”
“Damn, Bro. What the fuck?” Elliot says. Taking her cue, Butterfly moves from my lap and I gesture to him to join me on the balcony.
“What the hell, Christian, what’s going on?” Elliot asks once we’re on the balcony.
**What do you know? **
“Not much. Mom just told me that you tried to kill yourself.” Oh, good Lord, my mother is so dramatic.
**That’s all she said? **
“Yeah, that’s all she said.” I sigh at his response. Of course, she doesn’t know the whole story. None of my family does. I’m feeling more ashamed now than ever. I start typing.
**Ana and I had a fight. She didn’t talk to me for days. I was upset and didn’t realize that I wasn’t eating or drinking. **
Elliot reads the text and looks at me with questioning eyes. “Bro, our mother is a doctor. Why the hell weren’t you eating?”
**I didn’t do it on purpose. I just wasn’t hungry. **
“Eating or drinking, Christian?” he scolds.
“Ooo, that was smart!” he says, sarcastically. “You’re not eating food and you’re not drinking water, but you’re drinking alcohol, which dehydrates you faster?” I nod. Elliot shakes his head. “You know, for a smart guy, you’re pretty damn dumb.”
**Yeah, I know. Dumber than you know. **
“And how many days did you go without food and water, Brainiac?” he asks. Gail had brought food to me Monday evening, but I didn’t eat it. The last meal I had was breakfast with Butterfly on Monday morning since I had also skipped lunch that day after my Elliot/Butterfly “discovery.” So, I had officially been without food and water from Monday morning to late Friday night, the body’s equivalent of…
**Five days. **
“What!?” Elliot yells and the inside of the apartment falls silent. I shush him. “That must have been some damn fight! What the hell happened, Bro?” And now, the moment of truth.
**I jumped to conclusions. I thought she might have been cheating on me, or at least thinking about cheating on me. **
“What made you think that?” he frowns.
**She was with this guy and I thought he might have been putting the moves on her. **
“What guy, dude?” Here we go…
Elliot looks at the text, then frowns. Confusion mars his face until it finally sinks it. He raises an angry glare at me.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” he yells. I make a gesture to him to keep his voice down, then gesture to the people inside who have become extremely quiet once more. “Dude, do you really think I’m that fucked up!?” he snaps, lowering his voice.
**NO! I AM! **
He’s still glaring at me and now I have to use my voice.
“I didn’t matter that it was you, Elliot. It was a guy… with a dick… in the room… with my woman… and there were flowers on the desk,” I say just above a whisper, trying not strain my voice.
“Oh, fuck me. This was Monday,” Elliot says, rubbing the back of his neck. “So, she had to tell you the truth. She promised she wouldn’t!”
“She didn’t!” I say.
“Then how did you know?” he asks accusing.
“Your truck was in the parking lot. I figured out it was you.”
“But how did you figure out nothing was going on if she didn’t tell you? And for the love of God, type—before she comes out here and bites my damn head off!” he snaps.
I meticulously type out the story, down to the drunken tie conversation and now-nearly-nonexistent black eye and falling off my damn piano stool, answering all of Elliot’s questions along the way. He just looks at me and shakes his head.
“You know, if you hadn’t beaten yourself up enough, I’d be kicking your ass right now,” he says. I just shake my head. “Do you realize how many people got caught in your shit this week, Christian?” He starts counting off on his fingers. “You accused Ana of being unfaithful. You suspected me of complete betrayal. Everybody that needed Ana on Tuesday missed a session. You almost killed your damn self which sent Mom into a damn tizzy. No doubt your staff flipped the fuck out, and I don’t think all of these people are here for Saturday evening chat!” He spits. I dropped my head again. “I thought that psychiatrist was helping you and now you’re dating a psychiatrist. Get this shit together, man!”
“I know!” I whisper.
“Type, dammit!” God, he’s worse than Butterfly!
**I’ve never been in a relationship, Elliot. I’m new to all of this. After all the bad that has happened in my life, I just can’t believe something this good is happening to me. Remember what you said about paying for all the hearts that you broke? **
“Well, you have to ask yourself a question, Bro. Are you going to live in constant fear of that or are you going to live?”
I look at him for a moment. When the hell did my big brother get so smart?
“You’ve got a good woman, Chris. You’ve let Creepella Deville steal enough of your life from you, man. Don’t fuck this up!”
That hit where it hurts, but he’s right. Butterfly is my lifeline, and hell if I’m going to let my stupidity and assholeness chase her away.
**I’m sorry, man. Can you forgive me for what I thought? **
He reads the text and says, “Hey, you’re an idiot. I already know that. Just don’t let it happen again, okay?” I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I have to fight not to get all sappy and emotional.
“Thanks, Lelliot,” I whisper.
“Don’t mention it,” he smiles.
“Are you sticking around?” I ask. He shrugs.
“Sure, why not?” He pats me on my shoulder and we go back inside.
“Ana, can I see you in the kitchen for a moment?” Val calls to me when Christian and Elliot leave the room. I excuse myself from the rest of the crew and join her and Gail in the kitchen.
“Do you guys need some help?” I ask.
“No, I want you to tell me about Elliot,” she says as she’s stuffing crab salad into hollowed-out cherry tomatoes.
“What do you want to know?” I ask cautiously.
“Does he have a girlfriend?” she asks.
“Uh, he just broke off an engagement last weekend,” I reply. She frowns and hisses.
“Ooo, sounds like too soon. Dammit,” she says as she continues to stuff tomatoes.
“Well, you’d have to talk to him about that. He doesn’t seem to be taking the break-up too hard, but you need to keep in mind that he’s in that rebound time,” I warn. “And what about Charles? Didn’t I just meet this guy a few weeks ago?” She looks up at me.
“We’re not exclusive, Ana,” she says, matter-of-factly, like I should’ve known this all along. I shrug.
“Well, I don’t know that! But if you and Elliot hook up, please let him know that,” I say.
“I always do, babe,” she says. “I’m a free spirit, but I’m not unscrupulous,” she says as she stuffs the last of the tomatoes. “Maybe I’ll ask him out for a drink or something non-committal so that he doesn’t feel any pressure… just to see where his head is,” she adds.
“That’s a good idea, Val,” I say with a smile.
“Does he drive a sports car?” she says, frowning.
“No, Val. He drives a truck,” I say laughing.
“Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!” she exclaims and I laugh. Just then, I hear Elliot yell at Christian and everybody in the house freezes, Gail included. Everybody looks at me and I just shrug.
“What’s that about?” Val asks.
“Elliot is probably taking a bite out of his brother’s ass for what just happened,” I say, truthfully without giving too much away. Valerie nods as she slices French bread for the artichoke spread.
“Is this about the fight you guys had?” she asks.
“Yeah, my boyfriend was being an idiot… but I wasn’t too smart either, so…” I shrug.
“Do you want to talk about it?” she asks. I watch Gail pull a huge tray of potato skins out of the oven and begin to tray them and dress them with all kinds of goodies. This woman is remarkable!
“There’s nothing much to tell. It was one of those ‘what’s good for the goose’ type things, only it almost killed the damn goose. So, we both just have to be more considerate of each other’s feelings.”
“That makes sense,” she says, and Elliot loudly curses at his brother again. We all momentarily fall silent once more. “Boy, he’s really giving him what for, isn’t he?” Val says.
“Truthfully, it’s no less than he deserves, but if it happens again, I may have to go to Christian’s rescue,” I say.
“Why?” Val asks, curious.
“He could have died, Val. I think he learned his lesson,” I respond. She twists her lips.
“Good point,” she says.
“Well, ladies, the chicken puffs are ready and that’s everything,” Gail announces.
“What do we have in the wine cooler, Gail?” I ask. She goes over to the cooler.
“We have Sancerre, Chardonnay, Sangria and Bollinger… and Cabernet on the rack,” she announces.
“Let’s go with the Chardonnay and the Sangria, shall we?” I reply.
“Excellent choices!” Val exclaims.
I’ve just served wine to my friends and we’re setting trays of finger food on the coffee table when Elliot and Christian return looking no worse for wear. Christian returns to his seat on the sofa and I sit next to him silently asking if everything is okay. A content smile that reaches his eyes lets me know that all is well with the Grey brothers and while conversation flows smoothly through the great room—including Christian’s very successful job of charades—I can’t help but notice the frequent exchange of glances between Elliot and Val.
A/N: Area 51 is a location here in the U.S. in southern Nevada, north of Las Vegas. It is part of Edwards Air Force base and it is rumored to be the site of a bunker that houses the remains of extra-terrestrial beings that crashed here decades ago. There are a few small towns in the area that have become tourist attractions and exploit this rumor. It’s still unclear what happens at Area 51. I have a friend who grew up in the area who confirms that most of the rumors are just rumors, but that it’s still a very secret facility. I have included a picture of “The Black Mailbox” on my Pinterest page. It’s actually someone’s mailbox (though it isn’t black) on a stretch of road called Extraterrestrial Highway (yes, seriously,) and it indicates the “point of no return” so to speak. Tourists and even locals take pictures standing next to the mailbox, but if you go PASS that mailbox, you will “disappear.” You have now entered Area 51 and federal agents will descend upon your ass! So people who have claimed to be abducted by aliens may have simply gone pass “The Black Mailbox.”
Be sure to check out the fashion on my Pinterest page at http://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/paging-dr-steele/
You can join my mailing list on the “Contact Me” page. Just click the link and it will lead you to a form to join the list.
Feel free to review—it is greatly appreciated.