Raising Grey: Chapter 48—’Round and ‘Round… and ‘Round

THE MUSE HAS GONE CRAZY!!!!

So, unless the layout and the flow of the story as I see it changes somehow, you can expect for “Raising” to be longer than the typical 80 chapters. I may find a place where I can break the story and start a new book, but if it’s flowing well and there’s nowhere for a cohesive time break, I’ll just keep it going.

HOWEVER…

Golden is currently on hold because Lynn is overwhelmed. I still know where I want it to go, and it’s definitely going to be a shorter story than the Butterfly Saga, but if I can’t give my best, I’m not giving anything at all, and the nuances of the story aren’t flowing as well as I would like with all that I have on my plate. So, Golden fans, I apologize for not updating as much as I should, but I can only do so much at once.

My darling Falala, you are the only one who has indicated that they’ve had that problem with having to re-follow the blog. I hope that’s not a trend and I hope you haven’t had further problems. Anybody else having any issues? I got two emails that said, “falalax is now following your blog.” I was like, “Huh? I thought she was already following my blog. Gotta love the world wide web…

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

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

Chapter 48—’Round and ‘Round

ANASTASIA

I take a quick shower and change into something more suitable for travel. When I exit the bathroom, I’m headed towards the living room area when I hear Christian’s voice.

“Hi, little man. Daddy loves you. Take care of the house until I get back, okay?”

I back away from the doorway so as not to interrupt his cooing time with the Prince of Grey Crossing.

“I miss you, Mikey. I miss you so much and I love you. Take care of your sister for me…”

I can imagine that seeing his father and brothers in such turmoil is causing his emotions to flip like crazy. I hear silence for a moment, then I hear,

“Hey Lelliot… yeah, it’s done. It was brutal, man… Listen, you know when I’m giving you shit, I’m just giving you shit, right? I don’t mean anything by it… Yeah, it’s just…” He sighs. “This place, man—this place fucks with me, and watching Freeman and Dad… Just know that I love you, man. I’ll always be there for you even when you act like a fucking jerk, but don’t act like a fucking jerk, okay?… Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s the whole married thing, I guess.”

I’d love to know what Elliot said that elicited that response.

“I’m ready to get out of here. Nothing is jogging any memories with me, but this place seems to bring out the worst in my family and I’m ready to shake it off… She didn’t go to the reading with us, which I’m glad that she didn’t. If Freeman had said anything to my wife…” He trails off. “Having her here has been a tremendous comfort for me though. She dropped everything just to be here and sit in a hotel room while the Grey brothers battled it out… Dad’s at Uncle Stanley’s with Uncle Herman. They’re going through the contents of a safe deposit box that Pops had at Chase Bank. Apparently, Uncle Herman’s name was on it, too, but he didn’t know until we went to the bank today. It was a big fucker with another big box inside, and they decided that they didn’t want to go through it in the bank in case—you know—there’s sentimental shit in there. Dad broke down in the car after the reading…”

He didn’t tell me that part.

“Well, I’m just waiting for the go-ahead from Jason that the jet is ready, and from Dad that he’s ready, and we’ll be the fuck out of here.”

I begin making noise and moving around because my entrance right when he ends the call will look very suspicious. I make sure that we haven’t left anything—toiletries in the bathroom, things in the drawers or nightstand. I wonder if Jason and Christian got everything from the first room.

“Okay, man, I’ll see you when I get back… I love you, Lelliot.” Christian ends his call when he sees me puttering around the room.

“How’s Elliot?” I ask. “Is everything okay?” I reach in my purse for pink lipstick and apply it to my lips.

“Yeah, everything’s fine,” he says, coming into the bedroom. “I just wanted to touch bases with him, you know, after our last conversation.” I put my lipstick away and raise my eyes to him.

“This has been hard for you, hasn’t it?” I ask, my brow furrowed.

“In more ways than one,” he admits, his hand pushing through his hair. “Pops is gone. He’s not coming back. Why wouldn’t the brothers pull together during this time? Bury the hatchet and kill all the ill feelings? Yeah, Uncle Stan and Dad and Uncle Herman are clinging to each other like glue, but Freeman…” He raises his head. “Freeman is a monster. On my worst days—back when I didn’t give a fuck about anything or anybody—I could never treat Elliot that way… never!” I gently touch his cheek.

“Of course, you wouldn’t,” I say softly. “Freeman is a broken man. He’s miserable inside and there’s no telling how long he’s been that way, so he makes it his business to make everyone else as miserable as he is.” Christian shakes his head.

“That sounds a lot like you’re making excuses for his behavior, baby,” he says. I twist my lips.

“No,” I reply matter-of-factly. “I’m a psychiatrist. I’m just shrinking him. All I’m saying is that hurt people hurt people, and he never got over his hurt. It just festered and festered until it made him the miserable human being that he is now.”

“Yeah, that sounds more like Freeman. Rotten ass bastard.”

Christian and I sit in the room for several more minutes. We’ve got the room reserved for two nights, just in case something happens, and we need to stay another day, even though we both—no doubt—silently hope that won’t be the case. Just after Christian gets word that the jet and pilot will be all set and on standby in the next thirty minutes he gets a call from his father. His voice is accommodating, but his facial expression shows deep displeasure.

“What is it?” I ask when he ends the call. He doesn’t respond. He just calls Jason.

“Meet us downstairs,” he says. So, we’re leaving. “There was a key to a storage facility among the things in the safe deposit box. Dad asked that we bring the truck in case there’s a lot of shit in there.”

What? It’s nearly nightfall! So… we’re not leaving.

I sigh heavily. This is not what I was hoping to hear. Not only is Maria supposed to be coming into town this weekend so that we can view the interview, but I miss my babies and I want to go home. This place is fucking with my goddamn chi!

“Come on, baby,” my husband says as he ends the call. “I don’t care what’s in that storage bin. We’ll be on that plane tonight.”

Music to my ears.

*-*

The storage facility is in a city called Oak Park, just on this side of Detroit. A code activates the large sliding gate and we drive to Burt’s storage bin.

It’s huge. We’ll be here all night.

Christian tells me to stay warm in the car, but I refuse. I want to see what’s in there, too. I get out of the car and follow my unhappy husband to the rolling door of the storage bin. Herman removes the lock and rolls the door up. We all stare at the contents in dismay.

Boxes. Lots and lots of boxes. This is going to take days to go through, not hours. Maybe even weeks. Herman sighs.

“My father’s whole life is probably in this thing,” he laments. “He probably had the monthly rents coming off a credit card or something. It’s still not closed.”

“Jesus, I forgot all about this,” Stan says. Herman and Carrick look at him. “When you guys went to Washington, Dad had the house packed up. I saw some of what was happening, but I didn’t see everything. I didn’t even stick around for most of it. I never even knew what happened to the key. When Dad died…” Stan gestures to the stuffed storage unit, “… this was the last thing on my mind. I’m sorry, guys.”

“No need for that, Stan,” Carrick says, squeezing his brother’s shoulder. “We were all a bit rudderless when Dad died. It would have come out eventually… and it did. I assume Freeman didn’t know anything about it or it would be empty by now.” Stan shrugs.

“I don’t know… I guess not. I didn’t keep it a secret from him or anything. You know how either you’re involved in the action or you’re not and if you’re not, you don’t have any information?”

Carrick and Herman nod.

“So, what do you want to do?” Stan asks. “The office is closed, so we can’t talk to anybody right now.”

“It wouldn’t matter,” Herman says. “I didn’t think to bring Dad’s death certificate with me or my executor documents. I thought we were just reading the will.” He rubs the back of his neck.

“It’s your call, Herm,” Carrick says. “Dad says you disperse the stuff as you see fit.”

“That was the safe deposit box,” Herman says.

“And the key to the storage facility was in the safe deposit box,” Carrick points out. “By extension, that means the storage facility, too.”

“We’ll support whatever you want to do, Herm,” Stan says, looking at Carrick, and Carrick nods. Herman sighs again.

“Mom’s jewelry was in the safe deposit box. Those model cars are most likely in there,” he says, pointing to the wall of boxes. Now Carrick sighs.

“What do you want to do?” he says, his voice soft, and I can tell that whatever “those model cars” are, they mean a lot to him.

“We have to go through this stuff, guys,” Herman says. “This is Dad’s stuff. We can’t just dispose of it, but I can’t do this now. I need to regroup in the worst way, and I know you guys do, too.” He looks at the boxes in front of him. “These boxes are sealed well, and I didn’t bring anything to cut them open.” He rubs his face.

“I’ll call the storage facility in the morning,” he continues, “find out what kind of arrangement my dad had with them and get them a copy of the death certificate and such,” he sighs. “But right now, I need my Luma.”

I know what that means. We’re going home.

“You go home, Herm,” Stan says, putting his hand on Herman’s shoulder. “I know exactly how you feel.”

“Yeah,” Carrick chokes, rubbing the back of his neck. “Me, too.” Christian reaches over and takes my hand in his, bringing his lips to my temple.

“Me, three,” he says against my forehead. Herman closes and locks the storage facility and we all head back to the cars. Stanley says his goodbyes and gets into his car while the rest of us get into the two rentals. Jason and Carrick have a quick conversation before we take off for the airport.

Now, I don’t know Michigan very well, but I know enough to know that we are driving back in the direction that we came from… away from the airport. My husband realizes it, too.

“Jason, where are we going?” Christian asks.

“Mr. Grey asked me to follow him. I thought he had already spoken to you,” Jason says, occasionally glancing into the rear mirror. I look over at Christian who doesn’t look pleased.

“My dad wouldn’t lead us into danger,” he says, “but next time, consult with me first.” Jason’s ears pinken.

“Yes, sir,” he says. “My apologies, sir. I, um, took the liberty of arranging for dinner options to be served on the flight, sir,” he adds. Christian nods, somewhat appeased by the gesture.

“Good man,” he says, and sits back in his seat. “I just don’t want anything to delay us getting the hell out of here,” he adds, more to himself than to anyone else.

We turn down an expressway labelled “I-696” and head west. I know we’re not headed back to Stanley’s house, because his house is further north. Christian squeezes my hand a bit as we drive down 696 for a few minutes, not comfortable at all not knowing where we’re going. After a few more minutes, we connect to another expressway called “I-275” and head south. I know that the airport is south, but we had to go through Detroit to get there. Now, I’m curious.

I gently nudge my hand from Christian’s and pull out my phone. Opening Google maps, I enter our current location—696 and 275, Michigan. It’s a spaghetti bowl of freeways, but I can make out what direction we’re headed. I’m seeing a lot of the streets on the map that I saw when we were headed to Stanley’s house, but we’re in the suburbs now where before, we clearly were not. From the scenery and my husband’s reaction, we were in Detroit.

Further satisfying my curiosity, I enter our destination—DTW.

Google maps shows me that we should be at the airport in thirty minutes. It’s a straight shot down the I-275 to the I-94 and we’re there. It also showed me the route Carrick drove before… I-94 east to the 39—Southfield Freeway—and right through Detroit.

Carrick found another way to the airport that didn’t take us through Detroit. I sigh.

“What is it?” Christian asks. I hand him my phone. He examines it carefully and his shoulders fall. The tension he was carrying moments earlier has slid off his shoulders and back and he almost looks like a totally different man.

“I’m… sorry, Jason,” he says, surprising both me and Jason.

“Sir?” he says, his eyes darting from the road to the mirror and back.

“My father…” Christian trails off. “We’re taking a detour to the airport—one that avoids Detroit.” Realization dawns on Jason’s face.

“Oh,” he says, softly. “No apology necessary, Boss. You were right, I still should have said something to you.” Christian nods and lays his head back on the seat. I take his hand and we ride in silence—and comfort—to the airport.

*-*

“After you talk to the management at the storage facility, I can arrange for the things in storage to be shipped to Seattle,” Christian says to Herman during dinner on the flight. “We can put the things in storage here and you can go through it at your leisure. I can even arrange for my shipping staff to go through the boxes and catalog everything in my warehouse if you like. It’s such a daunting task and if that storage facility is filled to the ceiling with boxes, you can be guaranteed that Pops had someone doing something like that.”

“He did,” Herman says after swallowing a mouthful of steak. “I had forgotten that right after we moved to Seattle, Dad had the house packed up. It didn’t even occur to me.” Christian frowns.

“You two stayed in that house before you moved to Seattle?” he asks. Herman nods.

“It wasn’t as bad as you think,” he says. “The house doesn’t look like much now, but Dad kept it up the best he could. Seriously, Christian, it seems like the minute we left, the house deteriorated. It was like it was holding on for Dad and when he left, it just gave up and died.”

Wow, that’s somewhat profound.

“Well, what do you say?” Christian presses. “I can have a crew in there probably as early as Tuesday. Depending on what’s in there, they can probably have that stuff cleaned up, packed up, and on its way back here by day’s end.” Herman pauses then looks at Carrick. “I would only trust staff who have seen me personally. So, I would send a crew directly from here.”  Dad nods at Herman.

“I think I may have to take you up on that, Christian,” he says. “Let me talk to Stan and see how he feels about it and I’ll let you know, okay?” Christian nods and tucks into his food. We all eat in relative silence until the meal is over, after which, the flight attendant brings us all drinks. A few minutes later, Jason is quietly reading, and Herman has reclined his seat and fallen quickly into a nap. Christian excuses himself and heads to the back of the plane. I assume he’s going to the restroom. Carrick has moved to a lone seat on the other side up the plane and is staring out the window at the black night sky. He doesn’t even notice when I take the seat across from him.

“How are you holding up?” I ask, breaking his solace. In my professional opinion, it’s not a very good idea for him to be sitting here mulling over the day’s events alone, especially since Christian said he broke down earlier.

“Isn’t it a terrible weight on your shoulders to be the ear for the entire family?” he says, his smile soft. I shrug.

“It’s what I do,” I reply, “and I’d rather do it for my family than some of the losers I’ve had to listen to over the years.”

“That’s not very professional,” he says, raising a brow at me.

“No, it’s not,” I admit, “but it’s true. I’ve had some real losers over the years.” My mind immediately goes to those attention whores at the community center who pretended to need help, but only wanted someone to whine to. “It’s why I stopped doing volunteer work at the community center. Those people didn’t need help—true, they needed therapy, but not the type that I was offering.” I shrug.

“I thought you left the community center for an entirely different reason altogether,” he confronts, and I know he’s talking about my initial battle with his son.

“That, too,” I confess, “but that wasn’t the reason. That was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.” I sigh. “So, as you can see, listening to family is not as daunting as you think.” He nods and looks out the window again.

“I feel like I’ve cremated my father again,” he says. Whoa, that serious. “I went through all these feelings and the hatred that Freeman feels for me, being back in the city where we grew up, seeing the places where my father worked—he was so proud. He was proud to be a Ford man, and he passed that down to our family, but I didn’t want to be a Ford man. I wanted to be a lawyer. More than anything, I wanted to be an attorney and throw around that word ‘Esquire.’” He laughs mirthlessly.

“Dad never gave me a hard time—not once. He paid for me to go to college. He mostly paid for law school. Then, I met Grace. She insisted on paying for the rest, telling me that she was investing in our future together. Dad had a problem with it at first, but once we were married, he understood.

“Our lives took several turns, and Dad was there the whole time. We always held each other together, all of us. Freeman wasn’t always a miserable bastard. He was always miserable and selfish, but he wasn’t always a bastard. Even he was there to help hold us together, especially when Mom died. But after that girl left him…” He shakes his head.

“Now, I’m here again. I hated going back to that place and I hated the reason I was there. If Christian hadn’t convinced me to come, I wouldn’t have. Now, I’m glad that I did, because if I hadn’t, Freeman would have gotten over again, and Herm and Stan wouldn’t have their money.”

He’s correctly assuming that Christian has told me about the life insurance. I want to keep him talking until he gets as much of this anger and pain off his shoulders as he can.

“Is it true that he can hold the money up for a long time and affect everyone’s share?” I ask. Carrick does a half-nod, half wobble of his head.

“The only thing that’s going to effect everyone’s share of the money is Dad’s final arrangements,” he says. “Once that’s dispersed, then it’s the waiting game to see how far Freeman wants to take this. But he’s not holding anybody up but himself, because my brothers got their money already… from me. Once he loses this fight, which he will, the remainder of the money after Dad’s affairs are settled will be dispersed to the sons, and Freeman will have gotten the short end of the stick.”

“How so?” I ask. “If all the sons are getting the same amount, even after Burt’s final arrangements and whatnot, that’s still going to be a hefty sum for each of you.”

“This is what that idiot doesn’t understand, and this is why I let him go ahead and do this. I’m one of my father’s four sons and all his sons got a portion of this policy. Now, if he was contesting that Herman and I were the only beneficiaries, I could get where he was coming from and halfway understand him contesting that—but we all got an equal portion of it. This was clearly Dad’s wish. Now, here he is contesting my portion knowing but not knowing that he’s actually contesting the entire policy.

“So, let’s say that he loses the contest, which I’m sure that he will. He will have spent time and money on an attorney to contest the beneficiaries of this policy. Let’s say that he only spends $200,000 in attorney, court, and probate fees and five years contesting the will…”

Only?

“He has now wasted five years of his life, done irreparable damage to the relationships that he had left with his family, and now, he gets to replace the $200,000 that he spent on a worthless fight out of his share of the money. Only, $200,000 in five years is not going to be worth what $200,000 is worth now. So, while my brothers can invest my portion of the inheritance and double their money if they choose the right investments, Freeman’s share is dwindling away to nothing… and speaking of nothing…

“If he gets his way and he wins this contest, he foolishly thinks that he’s going to walk away with a larger share and I—or Herm and I—are going to walk away with nothing. No, if he wins, he’s contesting the validity of the entire policy. He said so at the reading. He first declared that I didn’t deserve anything, then he paints a picture to Stan and tries to get the attorney to cosign that Herm and I brought Dad out to Seattle to die and got a life insurance policy in his name. I don’t know how long my father had that policy, so if he’s right and that policy popped up right about the time that Dad was about to die, it’s going to look suspect. He can’t protest me being a beneficiary because all four of us are beneficiaries, so he’s going to resort to that.

“Well, dear brother,” he says sarcastically, “if you win that fight, you’re not going to walk away with any of the money… none of us are!”

Shit, really?

“So, if he can convince a judge or whoever that you all bought the policy and waited for Burt to die, then nobody gets anything?” Carrick shakes his head.

“Not a nickel,” he confirms. “It’s fraud. The good news is that they would have to actively prove that we did that in order to press criminal charges, but I’m certain that the minute this goes before anybody with an ounce of common sense, they’re going to see right through it, and some unscrupulous attorney somewhere is going to take the case and let the fees mount up knowing that not only is this an unwinnable situation, but also that Freeman is going to get his share of that money. And when he does, he’s going to have to pay up if he hasn’t already.

“So, when I saw what he was doing, I immediately had the money transferred to my brothers’ accounts. I wanted Freeman to see what I was doing. I wanted him to see that I wasn’t going to allow him to ruin my brothers’ lives and what’s more, I don’t even need the money. One point five million dollars just flying around the room in a matter of minutes. What better way to foil your plans than with the very thing that makes your stomach turn?”

I’m making an observation that I’m not sure Carrick has made, but I can see it clearly.

“You refer to Herman and Stanley as your brothers,” I tell him, “but when you talk about Freeman, you don’t, unless you’re doing it sarcastically. You do realize that he’s still your brother, don’t you?” Carrick shakes his head sadly.

“Make no mistake, dear girl,” Carrick begins, “I know that man was born my brother, but my brother’s been gone for a really long time, and I miss him terribly. I’ve missed him ever since he left, even more so now that my father’s gone. When I cried in Seattle after our fight, it was because I knew that my brother was gone for good and he was never coming back. He came to my home and insulted my entire family—my wife, my children, you…” He trails off and shakes his head. “No, that man is truly dead to me. He was already a non-entity as far as I was concerned, but after today, after this…” He wipes away a tear. “I cremated my father again today, and I buried my brother.”

And now he’s broken again.

I sit there with Carrick for a long while as he weeps silently and mourns the loss of his family once again. When Christian finally emerges from the rear of the plane, he’s changed and freshly showered, no doubt washing the visit off him once and for all. He frowns questioning when he sees his father crying. Not willing to subject Carrick to Christian’s endless “What’s wrong” questions, I squeeze his hand to get his attention.

“Carrick, why don’t you go on into the back room and rest?” I suggest. “We’ll wake you when it’s time to land.” Carrick nods and stands from his seat. He walks to the back of the plane, nearly bumping into Christian on the way. Christian just grabs his arm to steady him, then squeezes his shoulder as he passes by.

“What’s wrong with Dad?” he asks once Carrick has left the room. “Is he okay?” I sigh heavily.

“It’s a good thing we’re leaving Detroit,” I say. “That place was taxing on all of you.”


CHRISTIAN

I spend the night buried in my wife again, so glad to be home in my own bed in my own city where I somewhat feel like myself again. I had intended on maybe getting some mile-high loving when I was finished with my shower on the plane, but Dad looked like shit and definitely needed some sleep. He didn’t wake until it was time to land.

We all seemed to have gotten back to ourselves once the jet landed at SeaTac. I didn’t expect to see the women there, but there they were. Dad wrapped himself around Mom and Uncle Herman just folded over Luma. My uncle is so in love with that woman. I don’t know why he won’t just marry her already.

I felt like I was falling asleep in the car on the way back to the Crossing. Chuck and Jason were whispering about something and I didn’t bother trying to eavesdrop. I was so relaxed being back in Seattle, back in one of my own cars, back home…

When we drove up the driveway into the Crossing, it was like someone hit me with a shot of adrenaline and all I wanted to do was fuck—not necessarily rabbit fucking or hard fucking… just fuck. So, fuck we did.

And I slept like a damn baby until noon.

When I wake, my wife is gone—well, not gone, just not in bed. It’s noon, why would she still be in bed? I sincerely stretch like a cat and lie eagle-spread on my bed—my bed. I can’t believe how content I am to be home… just to be here. My body relaxes into the mattress and I could truly just lay here all day. My solace is interrupted by one of the best interruptions ever. My wife unceremoniously enters the room with a wiggly pink bundle in her arms. They were asleep when we got home, so we didn’t wake them.

“Oh, please… give me that,” I say, sitting up and reaching for my daughter. My wife pauses.

“Are you dressed under there?” she asks.

“No, I’m totally commando, and she’s nine months old!” I protest.

“Yes, but Keri and Gail are not,” she retorts, raising her brow. I grunt and get out of bed. So much for lying in. I go to the dressing room and quickly slide into a pair of sweat pants.

“There!” I say, emerging from the dressing room. “Now give me my child!” I hold my hands out again and Minnie squirms in her mother’s arms, smiling widely and reaching for me. Butterfly laughs and places her in my hands. Good Lord, it’s like salve on a terribly stinging and painful burn.

“How’s Daddy’s girl?” I say, kissing her repeatedly and climbing back into bed. She coos and giggles as Keri enters with Mikey and Gail enters with a tray of food.

“I thought I would have to wake you, so I thought the twins might ease the ache a bit,” Butterfly says, placing Mikey on the bed next to me.

“I just woke, but you were right about the ache,” I say, adoring the smiling faces of my children.

“Let me know if you need anything else,” Gail says as she and Keri excuse themselves. I’m starving, but I don’t want to put my daughter down. I need her. I need to be close to my children. As if reading my thoughts, my wife begins feeding me the omelet and toast on my plate.

“You’ve already eaten?” I ask after swallowing, noting that there’s no food for her.

“Hours ago,” she says. “The trip sucked, but it wasn’t as taxing on me as it was on you.” I nod.

“I don’t know what I would have done if you weren’t there,” I admit. She puts another large forkful of eggs in my mouth.

“Jack off?” she teases and I almost choke. She hands me a glass of orange juice and I take a couple of healthy swallows.

“Not just the sex,” I say with mirth. “Going to sleep with you and waking up with you; eating breakfast with you and just know that you were there.”

“I know what you meant. I was just teasing you.” She gives me more omelet and toast. “That place is draining—or maybe it was just seeing the effect that it had on you and Carrick and his brothers, but I’m glad we’re home.”

“Me, too,” I say, swallowing the delicious eggs. It immediately makes me think of the egg massacre incident that was my first cooking lesson. I need to get back in the kitchen soon if I want to cook something for my wife anytime soon. “What’s the plan for today?”

“Not a thing on the agenda until tomorrow,” she says. Yeah, Maria Sanchez is coming into town so that we can view the interview. For some reason, I’m not looking forward to this even though it was my idea in the first place, but what’s done is done now.

“Well, I think I want to spend time with these two today.” Minnie is laying on my chest, wide awake, but just lounging there. Mikey has pulled himself into a standing position, supporting himself on my leg. He appears to be babbling something to Minnie, no more than “ba-ba-ba” or “na-na-na” or something like that, but she is unfazed and just watching her brother’s performance. Mikey is not to be ignored. He continues his babbling, now bouncing and becoming more animated.

Minnie still doesn’t respond.

Mikey is getting louder with his babbling and bouncing even harder. His sister finally gives him the attention he’s seeking. She pulls her little grubby hand back and brings it down right on top of his head.

Smack!

“Oh!” I exclaim. “They’re doing that now.”

“No!” Butterfly scolds, pointing her finger at Minnie. Mikey is silent for three seconds, just long enough for the sensation to set in, before he falls down on his butt and releases a yowl. Minnie sticks her bottom lip out, gazing at her mother, then her yowling begins a second after Mikey’s.

“Oh, there, there, now,” I say, patting her on the back.

Don’t do that, Christian!” my wife scolds. I’m a bit stunned. Don’t do what?

“Put her down,” she says, her face stern and her voice firm.

“What? Why? She’s crying,” I point out as if it’s not obvious.

“Yes, that’s because I scolded her. Now, put her down.” Okay, fine, don’t scold me. I put my daughter on the bed and her cries become more urgent. “Do not hit your brother!” Butterfly says to a wailing Minnie before turning to me. “If you coddle her after I scold her, she’s going to run to you every time I try to punish her. She’ll be impossible, and then I have to kill you!” I put my hands up.

“Okay, okay, I get it!” I say. “But what about Mikey? Clearly he was yelling at her…”

“And clearly, she slapped the shit out of him, and now, he’s crying, too. That’s why I’m not picking him up, either.” She’s got a point there. I sit there helplessly watching my children cry as they learn a lesson, also learning a lesson myself. This is hard. I hate to see them cry. Butterfly allows them to cry for what feels like forever, but I’m certain that it’s only a couple of minutes.

“Are you two ready to behave?” she says to our children, and almost like they understood what she said, their cries subside a bit, but don’t cease. She folds her arms and looks from Minnie to Mikey.

“I can wait as long as you can,” she says. Minnie calms a bit, her plump tearstained face gazing at her mother as she begins her after-crying sniffles. Mikey calms a little thereafter, but only after he shoves his two middle fingers into his mouth. My brow furrows.

“When did he start doing that?” I say, pointing at my son.

“Since about three months,” Butterfly responds. “He just doesn’t do it all the time.” Both children have calmed now, and Butterfly turns to Minnie. “Are you going to behave now?” she asks. Minnie just looks at her. She holds her hands out and Minnie scurries to her arms, laying on her chest like she was laying on mine a moment ago.

“Get your son,” she says as she rubs Minnie’s back. I hold my arms out to Mikey and he stretches his hands out to me, trying to come to me without the aid of his arms to help him stand or roll. He’s quickly getting frustrated and I don’t want him to start crying again, so I pick him up and sit him on my leg. Using my fingers, I gently wipe the tears from his face.

“Don’t use your hands,” she says, softly, leaning over to the rolling tray and retrieving a burping cloth. She hands it to me and I begin to wipe my son’s face.

“She’s a real tyrant,” I tell him, low enough for only him to hear. “If you ever cross her, you’re on your own… but don’t cross her. I don’t like it when you cry.” I clean his face and put him on my chest where his sister was moments before. They look at each other as if challenging each other. They can’t be fighting this early. And they’re twins! I thought twins were inseparable!

“And this from the man who’s a proponent of spanking,” she says with a smirk while patting Minnie on the back. I look up at her and she raises her brow at me. Oh, yeah, I did say something like that, didn’t I?

Hmm, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do that.

“We… may have to come up with alternative methods of discipline,” I say without making eye-contact with my wife.

*-*

The thought of spanking my two little bundles had me clinging to them all day. Watching them cry and being unable to stop them was a bit more than I was willing to accept. Maybe once they’re older and ornerier, I might feel differently about the concept, but right now, I can’t even fathom it.

My clinginess doesn’t get past my wife. She even makes a papoose for me from one of her belly wraps so that one of the babies could be close to me the entire day. I think I needed it. Detroit took a lot out of me. Sure, I didn’t fall apart except for the mini-meltdown during the trip from the airport. I even did okay going to the private-eye’s office, which was in a city that was in the middle of Detroit. But the entire experience was just taxing as hell.

Seeing Dad and his brother snarling at each other like dogs…

The emotional strain of being in a city that broke me completely at an early age and could have broken me forever…

Watching my father break down all over again from the loss of his father and the total decimation of his relationship with Freeman…

No matter how much he may hate what that man is doing, he’s still Dad’s brother and this is truly taking a toll on him. How can anybody be so hateful towards their own family?

My mind immediately goes to Chuck’s brother, Joe, and a trip he has to make to his hometown for a lawsuit against his own flesh and blood merely for being an asshole.

Good God, are people really this unbelievably asinine? Was I ever this way? I may have been aloof, a bit obtuse at times, but I was never deliberately vicious to my family… never intentionally hurtful. For the love of God, who does that? I pull my phone out of my pocket and press speed dial.

“Hey, Bro, what’s up?” Elliot answers.

“Hey, what are you and Valerie doing for dinner?” I ask.

“Nothing,” he says. “We were probably going to order something in. We’ve gotten spoiled to having a cook,” he jests.

“Well, why don’t you come on over and get spoiled some more?” I say.

“You guys just got back. I thought you might have wanted to unwind and relax a bit. We didn’t want to be underfoot… I know how you feel about Detroit and all.”

How do I tell my brother that I need to see him without sounding like a pussy?

“Yeah, well, the familiar is kind of necessary right now.” That was it. Perfect. He pauses again.

“What time should we be there?” he asks. I sigh quietly.

“Six is good, and can you call Mia for me and see if she and Ethan can make it? I’ve kinda got my hands full with the babies.” He pauses again.

“Sure thing, Bro. We’ll be there.”

My brother and sister arrive promptly at 5:45, and I can’t help but wonder what Elliot said to Mia to get her to dinner on time. We sit down to a dinner of baked pork chops, Brussel sprouts and tomato-bacon linguini. I can’t bring myself to remove my papoose just yet, so Mikey sleeps comfortably on my chest throughout the meal while Minnie “purrs” nearby in her Pack-n-Play.

“Oh, everyone,” Mia begins, “our wedding website went live this morning.”

“Wedding website?” Butterfly asks. Mia nods.

“Yes. I wanted to approve everything that went onto the site, so they had to wait until we got back from the honeymoon to make it active.”

Oh, dear God.

“Mia…” I begin.

“Keep your shirt on, Big Brother,” she says. “The only media that is posted of you and Her Highness…” she says Butterfly’s nickname in a playful manner, “… are pictures and videos of you dancing, a bit of canoodling, her speech, and the two of you singing. Do you want me to take any of those down?” I look over at Butterfly who shrugs.

“Send me the link and I’ll let you know,” I say. Mia laughs.

“I sent you the link this morning,” she says. “You never go a day without checking your email. What gives?”

“I was spending time with my family,” I reply. “I’ll check it later.”

“I’m sure it’s fine, Christian,” Butterfly says. “We have an exposé airing soon. It can’t be any more intrusive than that.”

“Oh, yeah, I forgot about that. When is that supposed to be aired?” Elliot asks.

“The journalist who interviewed us is coming tomorrow morning so that we can see the final viewing, and we’re supposed to be part of Sweeps Week,” I say.

“Sweeps Week?” Valerie says. “That starts a week from Monday. Isn’t that cutting it kind of close?”

“Kind of?” Butterfly says. “Don’t get me started. If I see something that I don’t like tomorrow, they’ll have to scrap the whole damn thing!”

“You seem a bit intense about this, Steele,” Valerie says. Why does she still call her that?

“Well, that would be due to the faux pas that have already occurred, and the damn thing hasn’t even aired yet!”

Oh, hell. Butterfly isn’t very happy about this viewing, it appears. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s a good idea. Should I tell Maria to send us a digital copy to review instead?

“What kind of faux pas, Montana?” Elliot asks. Butterfly begins to explain our experience with the grip boy and the “preview that got away,” when Valerie turns her attention to me.

“Elliot tells me that you convinced him to tell me about Gia,” Valerie says while Butterfly occupies Elliot with her tale.

“It… was a collaborative effort between me and my wife,” I admit.

“Well… thank you,” she says. “That would have been something terrible to hear through the society grapevine or on a gossip rag or something.” I raise a brow.

“Have you met Gia?” I ask. She shakes her head.

“No,” she admits, “but I’ve heard of her. Her reputation precedes her. I don’t know what her general M-O is—there usually is one for appearing to be a scathing whore who will fuck anything with a dollar sign attached to it—but hell, she could just be mindlessly sleeping around, I don’t know. Whatever the case may be, I’m aware of Ms. Mateo’s character.” She sips whatever is in her glass.

“Are you… concerned about her?” I ask. “Because Elliot loves you more than life.”

“I know that,” she smiles. “It’s why he thought there was no need to tell me about her. I have no doubt the she’s old news as far as he’s concerned, but there are some things that you just need to hear from your man and not from some gossiping cows at the beauty shop or out in the grocery store somewhere or heaven forbid, at some social function where you have to smile and pretend it doesn’t bother you. It’s the Miller mansion, for Christ’s sake. Somebody somewhere is going to say something. Hell, they may end up in Architectural Digest or something. Then what?”

“Alright, Bro, my wife’s face is not looking too pleased over there. What are you talking about?” I raise an eyebrow at Valerie who shrugs.

Architectural Digest,” I reply. Well, we were. Elliot frowns.

Architectural Digest?” he repeats. “Your face is all frowned up about Architectural Digest?” She nods.

“I was just telling Christian that your work on the Miller mansion may end up in Architectural Digest,” she says with no malice. Elliot’s face falls and he turns to me. I hold my hands up in surrender, shaking my hands to signal that I didn’t start this conversation. He closes his eyes and nods.

“Yeah, it could,” he admits. “Does it bother you, Angel?”

“No,” Valerie replies. “It doesn’t. I think you’ll do great.” She reaches for his hand and he entwines his fingers with hers.

“I’m sorry,” Mia says, “but if I may ask, why would Val have a problem with you being in Architectural Digest? Isn’t that an esteemed honor?”

“Yes, it is,” Elliot replies, “but the designer on the project is Gia Mateo.” Mia looks at him as if she’s waiting for the punchline. Then the penny drops.

“Oh,” she says almost inaudibly. “Oh… o-okay.” And she doesn’t say anything else. Ethan leans in and no doubt, asks about the punchline, and she hushes him quickly.

“It’s fine,” Valerie says. “I’m just glad that I heard about their prior relationship from Elliot and not some third party. That’s all I was telling Christian.”

“Well, I’m glad she didn’t really get her claws into my brother,” Mia nearly hisses. “She’s an A-1 skank and she’s lucky some jealous wife hasn’t plugged her one by now!” Butterfly looks over at me and raises her brow.

“Okay, I’m all for changing the subject now,” I say. Mia looks at me and realization dawns.

“Oh!” she says, pointing at me. “Oh, yeah! That’s right!”

“What?” Valerie says. “Please tell me not you, too. That’s just trashy!” Oh, good grief.

“No, not him, too,” Butterfly interjects. “But that lovely parlor and the his and hers bathrooms and those beautiful women’s touches that you see all over the Slayer? Courtesy of one Gia Mateo.”

“Oh, I see,” says Valerie. “Well, that explains a lot. I was wondering why a floating bachelor pad had a fully pimped-out she-cave on the main deck. No offense, El, but I was wondering how she managed to bed you and not capture the attention of my billionaire brother-in-law.” Elliot puts his hand on his chest in mock insult.

“Whatever are you trying to imply?” he asks. “I’m just as good a catch as my loaded little brother.” Valerie smiles.

“Better, baby,” she says, snuggling up to his arm.

“Balderdash!” Butterfly chimes in. “She has to say that! She’s your wife!”

“And you have to disagree, because you’re his,” Elliot taunts. “Nice papoose, bro,” he teases, causing an outburst of laughter and instantly breaking the tension in the room.

Thank God!


ANASTASIA

As I’m getting ready for bed, I’m mentally cataloging all the things that I’ll have to do in the next few days when I realize that I’ve forgotten to disclose one detrimental piece of information to my husband.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” I say as I climb into bed with him. He raises his gaze from the phone to meet mine. “I found out last week, but with the Detroit trip coming up, I knew you needed to focus.”

“What is it?” he says, placing his phone on the nightstand.

“It’s about John.” Christian’s brow furrows.

“John Flynn?” he asks. I nod. “What about John?”

“He and his family are in England, and they may not be returning to the States.”

“What?” he responds, clearly displeased. “Why?”

I explain to him what Grace told me about MERS and the CDC and the government not wanting his son to return until he has a clean bill of health.

“Well, then, I’ll give him a call. We’ll get him the best doctors and get him well so that he and his family can come home.”

“I don’t think it’s the money, Christian,” I tell him. “I think it’s the principal. John may have become a citizen from marrying Rhian, but his sons are all American-born citizens and one of them is being denied re-entry. He’s quite disenchanted with that.” Christian’s expression softens, and he nods.

“I guess I would be, too,” he says. “I’ll call him anyway and see if there’s anything that I can do, but from what you’re saying, America may have lost a few citizens.” I nod.

“Yeah, it looks that way.”

Christian and I make love again a few times that night, and I know that we’re not only making up for lost time, but my husband is also trying to regain some of the control that has slipped away from him over the past couple of weeks. Pretty soon, I’m going to have to tap out. I don’t think my coochie can take much more.

“I don’t think the promo has gotten to many outlets,” Vee says on Sunday morning. We asked her to join us for breakfast so that we could be prepared for when Maria shows up with the footage of our interview. “We’re usually alerted when something airs about you guys for purposes of damage control. This thing must have truly only aired once and then it was pulled. We can’t even get a lead on where it aired.”

“And it’s not like I can go knocking on Old Lady Miller’s door and ask her where she saw it,” Christian points out.

“It’s kind of a moot point,” I add. “With sweeps being next week, whatever we approve will be splashed all over the network in promos. If there’s anyone in America who didn’t know who we were before now, they’ll know soon.” Christian finishes his eggs and bacon.

“Well,” he says, after swallowing his last bite, “how do we handle this? I already know that there’s no way that she’s going to show us a final cut that we’re going to be completely satisfied with. I almost want Allen to be present for the meeting, but I’m not trying to intimidate her to the point of pulling the segment.” Vee nods.

“No, we don’t want to do that, but we do want her to know that we mean business. We need to get a copy of what she shows us and what she plans to air. They have to be the same thing. Once something makes it to the airwaves, it’s immortalized. At one time, it wasn’t that way, but with technology being what it is today, your most embarrassing, humiliating, or painful moment could be trending on Twitter or Instagram tomorrow.” I sigh.

“Well, why trust anybody, then?” I ask. God knows I’ve had my own run-ins with reputable members of the press—the ex-submissive cable girl and the Pussy DJ, just to name a couple.

“Because you have to trust someone or remain in obscurity. That’s the name of the game,” Vee says. “Anyway, it’s like I said, I really think the leak was just somebody jumping the gun for Sweeps Week promotion and remember—she didn’t have to bring that shit to you that Roger, or whatever his name was, did. She could have swept that mess under the rug and you never would have been the wiser. It’s a testament to her integrity.”

“Or she could have been covering her ass,” I retort, skeptically. “If that footage had somehow gotten out later, she would have to account for how it was acquired.”

“She could claim ignorance,” Vee counters.

“It’s her production. Responsibility is assumed. I know that much,” I conclude. Vee twists her lips and nods her head.

“Ana, would you prefer this doesn’t air?” she asks. I turn my gaze to her.

“What?” I ask, bemused. Vee sighs.

“I understand a healthy dose of skepticism,” she begins. “In fact, when it comes to an exposé of the most intimate parts of your life—your home, your family, your children, what you do in your private time—I would be concerned if you didn’t show some level of trepidation. But you have disputed nearly every point I’ve tried to make so far when it comes to this viewing and anything that I’ve said in any possible defense of Maria and her actions. I’ve been in this business for a long time and I’d like to believe that my instincts aren’t dull or untrustworthy when it comes to people. I haven’t steered you wrong yet, but I can’t ignore your level of mistrust and discomfort the closer we get to the time to meet with Sanchez. I won’t try to force or influence you to do anything that you feel uncomfortable with no matter how good my instincts may be. So, I’m asking you honestly before this woman gets here. Would you prefer this doesn’t air?”

Christian and Vee examine me closely like they’re expecting and alien to pop out of my chest or something. I don’t want to pull the plug on the production this close to airing, but there’s something that I can’t sweep under the rug.

“I. Have had a bad time. Trusting people,” I say, looking only at Vee. “My instincts are not as sharp as I once thought they were. When I look back on all the things that I thought I was certain of that turned out to be something completely different, I have nothing left in the end but, ‘Shit, I wish I had seen that coming.’ People seem one way  when you meet them, when you deal with them, when you interact with them, and when you put your fate in their hands—on a large or a small scale—one way or another, you end up getting burned.

“I’m just trying not to get burned,” I tell her. “I’m trying to see the fire before it explodes through the forest and consumes my home. Twice, somebody has dropped the ball—grip boy and now this. We should have seen this footage weeks ago…” although that might have been a bit difficult with my husband hiding out in Madrid. My scar starts thumping a bit and I stick my hand in my hair and drop my head.

“I just don’t want to get burned again, okay?” I say without raising my gaze to anyone. “One more incident, and you can put an apple in my mouth and serve me up at a luau.”

There’s a long moment of silence.

“Ana, do you trust me?” Vee says, and now, the spotlight is on me. I sigh.

“Yes, Vee, I trust you,” I say, honestly, deflated and still not raising my head.

“Good. Then let’s see the viewing and see how we feel. I won’t pull any punches if I think something’s not right. I swear that to you.” I nod.

“Okay,” I cede. I don’t want to debate it anymore. I guess I won’t be able to shake the feeling until I see the viewing and in what light Maria has presented us. There’s another long moment of silence.

“Mac, can you excuse us for a moment? I need to talk to my wife,” Christian says softly.

“Sure,” I hear her say, and I don’t know where she goes, but I know that she leaves the dining room.

“Butterfly look at me.” I finally find the strength to raise my eyes to him though my head hurts so badly that I just want to lie down.

“Was that speech for me?” he asks. What? What is he talking about?

“Huh?” It’s the only thought I can formulate.

“You’ve been burned. You don’t trust anybody. Things you thought you were certain of; putting your fate in someone else’s hands—that’s more than just a couple of bad media experiences. Was that speech for me?”

I play the words over in my head, then review my feelings about them. Had this happened before the whole Liam/Madrid Mayhem—when the footage was recorded—I would feel differently. I was bad-ass when I discovered Grip Boy had filmed me in the nursery. I was ready to put him on the platter and serve him at the luau. Now, I’m fucking afraid of shit that goes “bump” in the night when I wasn’t before. I was able to deal with adversity and handle myself in tough situations and now, I kind of prefer to just hide in the corner until the adversity passes. That’s not me. That’s never been me… except when someone talked about or uncovered something about Green Valley.

Scary, vicious teenage mobs that attack you from behind, torture you, and leave you for dead…

Uncertainty of where in America—or the world—these bastards have landed…

The Boogeyman…
The Boogeyman…
Fuck, the Boogeyman…

I gaze at Christian and I’m unable to answer him. In all my pondering and wondering and trying to figure out an answer for him, all the fear and uncertainty and pain and anguish and the Boogeyman all go into the three-second funnel and come out with one word.

Yes.

I don’t have to say it. He reaches over to me and gathers me in his arms, holding me close to him and kissing my hair.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispers. “I’m so, so sorry…”

I want to respond that it’s not all his fault, that my actions—or lack thereof—were the catalyst for his behavior; that we’re both human and we make mistakes and that’s okay, but none of that will chase the Boogeyman away.

We sit there for several minutes with Christian kissing my hair and trying to reassure me that everything will be alright. As sweet and sincere as his gestures are, I know that I and the Boogeyman have several more rounds to spar, and I’m under no misconception that I’m not going to win them all. I’m just terrified at the concept of how many of them that I could lose.

I hear Vee clear her throat from the hallway before Christian releases me and allows me to sit upright in my seat. I drink the rest of my orange juice and try a few calming breaths as Vee enters the room with Maria close behind her.

“I’m sorry,” Vee says. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“It’s fine,” Christian excuses her. I still feel like shit. “Maria, I must inform you that my wife is quite concerned with how this matter has been handled thus far. Things have been sloppy; there has been no show of any kind of level of care when it comes down to the footage of our personal lives. We found out through word of mouth that footage of our home had already been aired. We should have heard that from you. You should have been contacting us with reassurances that this situation was a one-off and well in hand. We don’t feel that way now, and my wife is more uneasy than I can describe. I don’t like that… not one bit!”

I hear the protector coming out. I can see that he’s ready to battle for me, but I need more than that. What, I don’t know, but more.

“Ana,” Maria’s voice begins. I don’t make eye contact with her, “no amount of apology that I can offer can possibly restore your faith in me. All I can say is let me show you. Let me show you the promos and what I’ve done—even the promo that was accidentally shown last week. Even though you didn’t approve it beforehand, I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed with the presentation. We’ve gotten off to a rocky start and I and my network didn’t handle things like we should have, but please, give me a chance to make this up to you… to show you that you didn’t make the wrong choice.

“A story like this could make or break someone in this business, but I swear to you—getting a big story and shock value is not worth a lawsuit or losing my credibility or my career. I swear to you on my honor and my integrity, I won’t let anything be aired that you don’t approve. I give you my word. I’ll sleep with the reels if I need to if that will convince you.”

I almost want to demand her ass to sleep with the reels, but right now, I just need to see what’s on them.

“You need to understand that I’m not the only one that’ll be affected by what’s on that film,” I tell her, trying to steady my shaking voice. “My father, his wife, my brother… my children… our friends and family…”

I’m getting choked up by the magnitude of what could happen if this interview material is abused or misconstrued in any way.

“Ana, I know this hasn’t been the most reliable situation that you’ve dealt with so far, but I have the entire network’s attention on this one. There will be no more mistakes, I swear to you.” I hope the fuck you’re right.

“Maria,” I say, my voice shaking and unable to mask my fear and uncertainty any longer, “those are powerful words, but if you betray me, so help me…”

My sentence trails off, but that’s only because there are no words to explain the extent of hell that I would unleash on this woman if she does anything deceptive whatsoever. And these little faux pas that her network keeps doing, I will fucking own my own media outlet after this.

“Anastasia, you have my word,” she says, never breaking eye contact with me. I don’t acquiesce in any way. I don’t want her to think she has won me over other that I am even giving her the slightest chance to fuck me. It’s exactly the opposite. As far as I’m concerned, she’s the fucking enemy until this show airs.

“Let’s see what’s on these damn reels,” I say, standing up and heading for the theater room.


A/N: So that no one will be disappointed or say that I led them on, the next chapter will not reveal the interview. They will discuss what will and will not stay, but the full interview will not be posted/shared until the day it is aired, and everyone sees it at the same time.

Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/raising-grey/

The new question and answer thread is always open for questions about the story. be sure to read it and please adhere to the rules when asking questions. You can find it on the left, second from last in the menu our you can click HERE.

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

 ~~love and handcuffs

 

 

 

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Raising Grey: Chapter 15—Anchors Aweigh!

READ CHAPTER 15A FIRST!!!!!
READ CHAPTER 15A FIRST!!!!!
READ CHAPTER 15A FIRST!!!!!

If you are on my email list and you received an email from me today, PLEASE READ IT!!! Some things are going to change. As always, if you notice you haven’t gotten an email from me for RAISING GREY (not “Golden”), let me know.

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

Chapter 15—Anchors Aweigh!

CHRISTIAN

I love my boat.

God, do I love this boat.

I don’t want to blame my wife for the time I’ve spent away from my boat, but I blame my wife. This was once one of my escapes, my refuge—but since I met her, I haven’t needed to escape. Even when we fight, she’s been my happiness. As a result, I haven’t seen my beloved Slayer in over two years.

The Slayer is a highly-modified, one-of-a-kind, customized version of the Richmond Status Quo. At 150 feet long, my tri-deck Superyacht stands over two stories tall and has six staterooms—five double berths and one with two twin berths as well as additional crew quarters that sleeps eight. With four levels, a family or two could live on this baby and not run into each other for days until bedtime! She’s a stunningly gorgeous, ridiculously expensive watercraft with high-end mahogany furnishings and trimmings, granite and marble counters, flooring, and basins, gold fixtures, stainless-steel columns and railings and top-of-the-line appliances and accessories.

3aad44679a276fb401ad913b6bd8a7d0The only thing more stunning than my gorgeous, ridiculously expensive watercraft at this moment is my exquisitely hot wife in a daringly sexy, white, plunging bathing suit and hip wrap strolling onto the deck of my gorgeous, ridiculously expensive watercraft. If my brother weren’t so in love with his wife, I’d be a bit worried.

“You can navigate this monster?” Butterfly asks as she and Valerie cross the passarelle. I chuckle.

“I can and have, many times,” I confirm. “I’ll have help today, though.” She shakes her head.

“You never cease to amaze me,” she says as she removes her sandals and places them in the basket for street shoes before stepping onto the aft deck. Valerie follows suit, but takes a pair of the boat slippers instead of going barefoot.

“Cargo shorts, Christian?” Valerie teases from under her large sunhat. I smile.

“I like to be comfortable on my yacht,” I retort. Her shoulders shake with laughter.

“So, I see. Maybe you can give my husband some pointers to get him out of those jeans.” I raise my eyebrow at her.

“I think that’s your job,” I counter. She touches her fingertips to her palm in a small clap.

“Touché, you’re getting better at it.” I frown.

“At what?” I ask.

“Having a sense of humor,” she says with a wink before heading off towards the main salon. I laugh inwardly that she and I can rib each other so easily when a few months ago, I thought she was the spawn of Satan for how she was treating my wife. I head off behind her and we nearly bump into my wife just beyond the sliding doors.

“What’s wrong, Steele?” Valerie says. I lean over my wife and realize that her expression is a bit tense.

“Butterfly?” I ask. She looks up at me as if she had no idea I was standing there. I think she didn’t.

“It…” She pauses. “It looks like… a parlor.”

Ah, yes. The total masculine Superyacht with feminine touches. Tread lightly, Grey.

“I think that’s what it was supposed to be,” I answer honestly. She looks around the room again.

“You’ve… entertained here?” she asks carefully.

“Yes,” I say, “but only my family.” She nods. She walks over and leans on the piano—the only piece in the room that appears to reflect my taste. She seems afraid to venture any further, so I gently guide her by cupping her elbow.

“I had a very talented decorator that came highly recommended,” I tell her as I guide her through the feminine-decorated room. It absolutely looks like a parlor, like I would never spend a moment in here, but the woman in my life would lounge in here for hours at a time, eating bon-bons and reading the latest gossip column. “There are several lounge areas on the yacht, but since I gave her carte blanche…”

“Her…” Butterfly turns her gaze to me as we pass the large entertainment center that separates the main salon from the elegant dining salon. My little blue-eyed goddess is letting her green-eyed monster show.

“Yes,” I continue, while gesturing around the stylish dining salon before guiding her to the galley, where a few of the staff have set up shop for our day—and possibly, night—trip. “Since I gave her carte blanche with only instructions for what kind of woods and materials I wanted to be used, she felt that some areas definitely required a woman’s touch.”

“Did you plan to entertain on this boat?” she says while examining the gourmet kitchen. I look around and realize that Valerie has conveniently disappeared. Either she knew this would be a difficult conversation or she just decided to tour the yacht on her own.

“I hadn’t before, but I could see it happening now,” I say, quietly. Her eyes soften when she looks up at me, but she quickly diverts her gaze before turning back to the dining salon. “Talk to me, Butterfly.”

“It’s a beautiful kitchen,” she says, fingering one of the place settings on dining table. “This entire deck is beautiful… like it was made just for the little woman, only…” She trails off.

“Only there was no little woman,” I finish for her. I take her arms in my hands. “I don’t know why she did it, but I like it. I was hoping you would like it, too.” She drops her head. “It didn’t make sense to me before, but now it does… because you’re here. I rarely ever spent any time on this deck at all… not even to sleep, but now that you’re here, it all makes sense.” She frowns at me.

“Why would you sleep on this deck?” she asks. I take a deep breath and gesture to the doorway on the other side of the dining room. We walk through an opulent foyer straight across to the master bedroom. My wife’s mouth hits the floor.

“Those two doors are his and hers bathrooms, but I’ve only used the ‘his’ bathroom and only when I sail with a skipper, or else I sleep in the captain’s quarters upstairs.” She turns to me gape-mouthed.

“His and her bathrooms.” It’s an appalled statement, not a question. I nod. She walks to the doorway of the ‘hers’ bathroom and I wait in the bedroom for her to return.

“And no woman has ever slept in this room.” It’s a statement again.

“No,” I respond. “You’ll be the first.” She sits on the bed for a moment.

“Well, that sounds promising,” she says, softly. I almost don’t want her to see the sigh of relief I release, but I’m glad that part is over.

I show her around the rest of my boat—the other luxurious decks, the hot tub, the bars… By the time we’ve set off for a day on the lake, it appears that the “woman’s touch” crisis has been averted. Since the lake is more shallow waters than the ocean, we’re on a slower sail today, like a drift, just enjoying the sunshine and the cool breeze. My boat is really too big for the lake and I can’t do anything much more than coast in these waters. Even though I said I wouldn’t do it, I’m most likely going to have her moved back to the marina so she can really stretch her legs.

But that’s not a concern for today.

Today, I just want to enjoy my time with my wife… and Valerie and Elliot, of course. The skipper doesn’t really need me since we’re traveling at the slowest speed imaginable and once I make sure everything is okay at the helm, I go in search of that sexy, white bathing suit.

PixieI find Butterfly and Valerie lounging in the mahogany chaises on the upper aft deck just off the Skylounge. They’re sharing some private joke and I can see them laughing through the glass doors. Valerie has gotten comfortable around us, as I see that she has removed her sun hat and is showcasing the small amount of hair that has grown back on her head. It almost looks like a very short and stylish pixie cut, just without the long bang.

“Has she thought about wearing her hair like that all the time?” I ask Elliot who, to my surprise, is behind the Skylounge bar. He shakes his head.

“I tell her that it’s beautiful all the time, but I think she thinks I’m only saying it to make her feel better. It really looks nice, doesn’t it?” he asks. I nod.

“I suits her,” I say, turning back to him as he fills a glass with ice, then pops open a Pepsi. I’m suddenly overcome with a rush of melancholy. I brush my hands over my face to try to wipe away the feeling.

Pops.

“What’s up, bro?” Elliot asks, zeroing in on my change of mood. I sigh.

“I miss the old guy,” I say honestly, resting my arms on the bar. “I’ve been talking to my shrink and she and Butterfly have been trying to help me through my… grief… It’s a slow process, though. Some days, I’m okay and other days, I just want to go to Mom and Dad’s and sit on the patio and talk to him like we used to. That man crawled into my heart in no time and snuggled in tight and now… it’s hard to imagine life without him.”

“I know how you feel,” he says. I look up at him and he’s gazing into his glass of Pepsi. “I didn’t have as close a relationship with him as you did, but…” He trails off for a moment. “I was really young when my parents died—really young, but I still remember them like it was yesterday.” He smiles sadly. “I remember my dad throwing me up in the air and catching me, and I would laugh and laugh. It felt like I was flying. I remember the night I woke up screaming from a bad dream and my mom came bursting into my room like Wonder Woman.” He laughs openly at the thought. “Here I come to save the day,” he sings the Mighty Mouse tune and I don’t bother correcting him, because I’m sure that’s exactly what he meant to do, but then his face falls.

“I remember the day the social worker told me that they were never coming back,” he says, his voice low. “I remember her saying that I would have to go to foster care because neither of them had any family.” He looks up at me. “Both of my parents were foster kids, too.”

“I… never knew that,” I reply. He nods.

“I never told anyone,” he confirms. “I mean, Mom and Dad knew, but… who else really needed to know?” He looks out at Valerie. “I want to make her so happy,” he says, “but I’m so glad that I have a family even though hers is shit, so that if anything ever happens to us…” I reach over the bar and grab his shoulder.

“You know you never have to worry about anything,” I assure him, “and nothing’s going to happen to you.” He sighs heavily.

“I don’t live in gloom in doom, Christian,” he says. “I’m sure you already know that, but losing my parents at an early age and then seeing the start that you and Mia had… almost losing my Angel and now Pops… It just has a way of making you look at life more soberly.” He lifts his glass of soda. “Pun intended.” I run my hands through my hair.

“Will the feeling ever get… any easier?” I ask. My brother raises glassy eyes to me.

“It’ll get easier,” he says, “but it’ll never go away, and it’s not supposed to. You’re supposed to remember them and never forget the lessons and love they blessed you with. Sometimes, I miss my mom and dad so much that it seems like I can’t bear it, but then I think about Mom and Dad—Grace and Carrick,” he clarifies, “and how lucky I was… am… that they adopted me. I think about you and Mia and that I didn’t have it nearly as hard as you guys, not even in foster care… that at least I had parents that loved me and cared for me even though they were ripped away from me. I think about how far you guys have come and how proud I am that you’re my family…”

That tear that’s been threatening his eye finally falls down his cheek.

“I think about how wonderful my life turned out in spite of the bad, and that makes it easier to bear… that, and time.” He smiles up at me and I return his smile. I have a treasure trove of experience at my disposal to help me through this process and I didn’t even know it—my beautiful, intelligent wife; surprisingly wise brother; a very good shrink; my loving parents…

My parents…

“Thanks, Lelliot. I didn’t mean to bring you down, man,” I say apologetically. He wipes the tear away and waves me off.

“It comes and goes.” He raises his gaze to me. “You’ll see.” I nod.

“I’ll be right back, okay?” I say. He nods. I squeeze his hand and make sure he’s okay before I head off to the Master’s office. I take out my cell phone since I know I still have reception on the lake.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Dad.”

“Christian, hi. What’s going on, son? Enjoying this Sunday morning?” He sounds in good spirits.

“Yes, I am,” I reply. “How are you, Dad?” I hear him sigh.

“As well as can be expected,” he says. “Thanks for asking.”

“How’s Uncle Herman?”

“He’s holding it together,” Dad replies. “It’s still so new.” I nod as if he can see me.

“Yes, I know,” I say, my voice soft. The line is silent for a moment.

“It’s a big world without him in it, isn’t it?” Dad says, his voice sympathetic.

“Yes,” I say, noting his tone, “but I was calling to check on you.”

“I know, son, and now I’m asking about you. How are you doing?” My turn to sigh.

“Ana’s been an angel,” I tell him. “She’s my rock. I don’t know how I could get through this without her.”

“Yes, I know what you mean. You know what your mother means to me and Luma… my God, I think Herman would be a basket case without her.”

“I’m glad he has her,” I reply. “I’m glad we all have loving women to help hold us together.”

“I can’t tell you how happy you mother and I are that you’ve found someone to spend your life with,” Dad interjects. “We had hoped, but… well, we never thought anyone would be able to get through your shell. We knew that it was there to protect you, but we thought that you’d never let anyone in. Now, look at you—a husband and father… two grandchildren for me and your mom! Son, we couldn’t be prouder of you.” I laugh.

“A lot better than the day I told you I wasn’t going back to Harvard, huh?” I jest. Dad laughs, too.

“Worlds better,” he confirms through his laughter before it fades. “We just didn’t know what to expect, son,” he adds. “When you said you weren’t going back to school, I saw it as rebellion. I was at the end of my rope. I felt like we had done all that we could do and…” He trails off.

“I know, Dad,” I tell him. “I wasn’t the easiest kid to deal with, I know.”

“It wasn’t your fault, son,” he interjects. “There was so much going on in your life, in your mind… and with that crazy woman seducing you and feeding you God only knows what…” He trails off again as the anger rises in his voice. He’ll never forgive Elena for taking advantage of me after I had already been victimized. “Well, that’s all over now. You’ve done well for yourself, Christian, and I’m very happy about that.”

“So am I, Dad. So, you and Uncle Herman are holding up?”

“Yes, we are. Thanks for your concern,” he says sincerely. “Hey, what are you doing today? I’m firing up the grill and Grace is making that crab dip that you like so much. We needed something to lighten the mood around here.”

“Is the dock clear?” I ask. He pauses.

“Um, yeah. Esquire is in the boathouse.”

“Good. We’ll sail over in an hour or so.” Another pause.

“You got that monster on the lake??” he asks, surprised. “How the hell did you get it inland?”

“It wasn’t easy,” I confess, “but at the end of the season, I think I’m going to ship her back to ocean waters. She’s going to lay pretty dormant on the lake.”

“You’re telling me!” he exclaims. “What is that thing—130, 135 feet?”

“One fifty,” I correct him. He whistles.

“So right now, you’re just floating,” he observes.

“Pretty much,” I confirm. “I won’t be able to take her over a few knots or I might capsize some of the smaller boats on the water.”

“I could’ve told you that, son.” I twist my lips even though he can’t see me.

“And how could you have told me that, Dad?” I ask, a bit sarcastically.

“Why do you think Esquire is in the boat house and The Judge is at the marina?” The Judge. Hell, I forgot all about The Judge. I didn’t even think he still had that boat.

“Do you ever get out to her anymore—The Judge, I mean,” I ask.

“Not for a while,” he answers. “A lot’s been going on in our lives in the last couple of years.”

“Tell me about it,” I concur. “I don’t think I’ve been on my boat since summer of 2011.”

“Since when did you start calling it a ‘boat?’” Dad teases. I chuckle.

“Nasty habit I picked up,” I say with mirth. “Throw a couple more burgers on that grill. We’ll be there shortly.”

“Who’s with you?”

“Just me and Elliot and the girls,” I tell him.

“Okay then, we’ll see you shortly.” We say our goodbyes and I end the call with my father before going back to the bar with Elliot. He’s still nursing the Pepsi, or maybe it’s a new one, and he’s gazing out the glass doors at our wives lounging on the chaises. I’ve never seen my brother so smitten in his life, and he was pretty damn smitten with Kavanaugh.

“Hey,” I say, garnering his attention. He slowly turns his gaze to me. “I’ll teach you how to make a Cosmo. Remember how wild they drove our wives at that night club?” Elliot frowns at me.

“When the hell did you learn how to make a Cosmo?” he says.

“Something I picked up,” I say, “after I saw what an animal my wife became at that nightclub.” He raises his eyebrow at me.

“I’m all ears, man,” he says, stepping aside as I unlock the liquor cabinet and pull out a wooden box. Inside—a $3000 bottle of vodka made with Himalayan water and Russian winter wheat.

“You’re breaking out the Stoli for cosmos?” Elliot asks in amazement. I throw a knowing look at him.

“You lookin’ to get laid later or not?” I ask matter-of-factly. He shrugs and grabs the martini shaker.


ANASTASIA

“So, this is how the rich and famous live,” Val jests while we lounge on the deck of Christian’s boat, Motown music piping from hidden speakers.

“Stop acting so surprised,” I tell her. “Elliot’s been treating you like a queen and I know it. When that house is finished, it’s going to rival the Crossing. There’s nothing that man won’t give you if you ask.”

“Yes, I know,” she replies, her voice sounding melancholy. We don’t say anything for a moment. We just sit there in momentary silence.

“Do you ever worry that you might lose it all?” she asks after a long quiet moment. I look over at her.

“Lose it all?” I ask, “like… how?”

“Like you’ll wake up one day and it’ll all be gone… like you’ll open your eyes and it’ll have all been a wonderful, beautiful dream that must now come to an end.” I turn to face her on my chaise.

“What’s brought this on, Val?” I ask. “Nothing’s going to happen to make you ‘lose it all.’ Elliot loves you; you’re building a house—or rebuilding, I should say. We’ll be having Thanksgiving at Grey… whatever you guys are going to name that place. And right now, we’re cruising on the lake on a luxury yacht looking like the two rich hotties that we are, and you’re talking about losing it all?” She shrugs.

“I got cancer, Steele,” she announces. “I never in a million years would have thought that I would get cancer—not in a million years, but I got it, and it almost killed me. It almost cost me everything and everyone that I love. Ask me back in college if I could have told you that this would happen, if I could have even predicted the slightest chance of it happening, and I would have said, ‘Hell, no!’ I was kicking ass and taking names—getting my degree, being all I could be… I was counting the money from my great marketing job before I even started making it. Ask me if I thought Mom would die and Dad would become an asshole and my brother would become a worthless piece of shit. I’m just glad my father has money so that he doesn’t come looking for me!”

She sighs heavily and sits back in her chaise. I know my friend and I know more is coming. I’m just waiting for her to reload.

“You can’t imagine what it meant to me that Mom put away my college fund,” she says. “Not only was I able to live comfortably and finish school without worries, but I was able to get out on my own and make my own money—be my own success… and I was able to meet you… and Al, even though he called me Ice Pussy for the first year.” She laughs a tragic sounding laugh. “Not yet, Mom. Not yet.”

We’ve only talked about Val’s mom once or twice in the decade that we’ve been friends. I know that some disease took her, too, but that’s all I know. She just… won’t talk about it.

“Now, I have this great husband that’s so much more than I deserve. I can choose to go back to my fantastic career any time I want… or not. We’re about to move into this fabulous house. I got all my friends back and they’re all happy and married or in loving relationships. Everything’s coming up roses… for all of us, so why do I have this horrible feeling of impending doom?” I reach out and take her hand.

“It’s normal, Val,” I tell her. “Your brush with death was barely six months ago. If you didn’t see your life flash before your eyes, you should be seeing it now. This is so… ordinary. How long have you felt like this?” She shrugs.

“I don’t know. I think just since Burt died.” I hold my hands out in a “tada” kind of way.

“There you have it,” I tell her. “Someone else’s death almost always brings your own mortality to the forefront. The Greys have just gone through something extremely traumatic and you were there to see it—the entire time, battling your own tumor without even knowing it. That has a way of causing one to take a serious self-inventory. I wouldn’t worry about it too much, Val. Don’t let the anxiety overshadow the bigger picture. You made it! All is well and it’s going to stay well. Enjoy this time. You deserve it and everything you’re getting right now. To be honest, I’d be a little concerned if you didn’t have this kind of reaction at least once after everything that’s happened to you.” She looks over at me through her cat-eye sunglasses.

“You really think so? I’m maybe just being a little melodramatic?” she asks. I put my index finger and thumb close together.

“Just a tad, but hey, you deserve to be, and that’s my professional opinion.” She smiles at me and reaches out for my hand. I return her smile and clasp her hand in mine. “By the way, your hair actually looks cute like that if you can get used to it being short for a while.”

“After the fiasco this weekend at the country club, I’m leaning towards only wearing the wig on very special occasions,” she giggles. We sit in silence for several more moments before our husbands come out of the sliding glass doors.

“Oooo, holding hands—a little girl on girl action?” Elliot jests with two glasses in his hand.

“Nah,” Val says. “You’re hot, Steele, but you don’t have the equipment.”

“Ditto,” I deadpan. “What’s this?”

Christian walks over to me with two drinks in his hand—his beloved Scotch and what looks like the perfect freaking Cosmo!

“You’ve got a bartender on board, too?” I ask, in surprise.

“Nope,” Elliot says, “my brother and I made these with our own two little hands.” I look at Christian and he nods. I throw a knowing look at Val and I know we’re both thinking the same thing.

What the hell have they brought us?

They’re both standing over us holding these pretty pink creations like the cats who caught the dead mouse and is now bringing to its owner for praise. I sigh and try not to show my trepidation, which doesn’t get past Christian, who’s hiding a smirk.

“Just try them,” he says, handing the crystal-clear glass to me, now sweating from the cool drink inside. I take the super-large martini glass from him and take a sip.

Wait a minute… I take another sip and turn to Val.

“This is good!” I exclaim with wide eyes. “Try it!”

She raises an eyebrow to me, but takes the glass from Elliot and takes a sip.

“Oh, my,” she says before taking another sip. “These are delicious!”

“I know, right?” I say, taking a large swallow of the fabulous concoction. “You made these? Really?” I ask my husband. He nods.

“I saw how much you liked them at the Havana, so I learned how to make them…”

“And he taught me!” Elliot announces proudly. “Using elixir from the gods, of course.”

I have no doubt that my husband’s choice of four or five-digit vodka and triple-sec is responsible for the fact that this has to be the best Cosmo I’ve ever tasted in my life!

“Well, keep ‘em comin’!” I exclaim, taking yet another drink.

“Ah, ah, ah. No inebriation for you just yet, my pet,” he says, sitting on the chase next to me. “We’re having lunch with my parents first, then the afternoon will be ours to lazy around in the sun.” I frown.

“Lunch with your parents? When did that happen?” I ask. Not that I wouldn’t enjoy lunch with Grace and Carrick—I just didn’t know that it was on the agenda.

“I called to see how Dad was doing and he told me that he’s got steak and shrimp on the grill. So, we’ll cruise by there for an hour or so and then be on our way.” I nod.

“Okay. Sounds good to me.” I sip my Cosmo again. “Keep feeding me these and I’m likely to agree to anything.”

“That’s my plan,” he says, waggling his eyebrows before closing in for a sensual kiss.

*-*

“Who wants steak?” Carrick asks as he brings another round of grilled sirloins to the picnic table by his dock.

“I do!” Christian declares, spearing a huge hunk of beef off the plate.

“Count me in,” Elliot follows, his mouth already full of food. I’m enjoying a tasty sirloin burger—added to the menu at Grace’s request—and some of her delicious homemade potato salad.

“Now, what are you going to do with the food the crew cooked?” I ask Christian. He shrugs.

“We’ll eat that, too. There’s still dinner and a whole gang of security staff if we can’t finish it.” Carrick freezes for a moment.

“Fraternizing with the help?” Carrick says mockingly.

“Things change,” he says, taking a healthy bite of his steak. “Dad, this is so good.”

“It always is, son,” Carrick says with a smile before going back to the grill. Christian leans in to his mother.

“How’s he doing?” he asks. Grace looks off at her husband turning meat on the grill.

“As well as can be expected,” she says. “He’s keeping busy—cases and all, you know. He feels so guilty for wasting so many years not speaking to his father. After talking to his brothers and seeing what the true basis was for all the animosity, I’m afraid he might kill Freeman if he ever sees him again.”

“It would serve him right,” I say over a mouth full of sirloin burger. Christian and Grace glare at me, surprised. “Sorry, too many Cosmos.”

“They bring out the truth,” Grace says, folding her hands on her lap. My turn to glare. “He’s a wretched, horrible man. Look what he’s done to his family. He alienated his daughter, damn near killed his own son, came across the country to fight his brother in his own house, nearly had his nephew arrested, stressed his father out in his last days… the man is a menace! He’s worthless in every sense of the word and I don’t know how no one has beaten him to a pulp way before now!”

“Hear, hear,” Carrick says, adding more meat to the mountain of beef already on the table.

“Dad, there’s plenty of food. Why are you still cooking?” Elliot says.

“Because Mia got wind of steaks on the barbie and she and about five of her wedding party will be descending upon us any minute.”

“Oh, hell,” Christian says aloud, and he’s up and on his way to the boat with his plate. I roll my eyes.

“Wait for me,” Elliot calls to him and falls in line behind his brother carrying his plate of food as well.

“Dad, you and Uncle Herman come on board for some cards when you’re done grilling!” Christian calls back to his father.

“Will do!” Carrick calls to his son. I frown.

“Did I miss something?” I ask Grace. She chuckles.

“Surely you remember the fundraising meeting where we first met. Most likely, the girls willing to give up their Sunday afternoons are doing so with hopes of getting a glimpse of my sons. They don’t think I notice that they become scarce every time the committee comes around.” I shake my head.

“They’re both married now!” Val exclaims. “Don’t these skanks have any shame?”

“I guess not,” Grace says. “I haven’t seen any of them ‘turn it down’ the slightest bit even after the boys got married.”

“You must be talking about the wedding girls,” Luma says joining the conversation.

“We are indeed,” Grace says. Their behavior must be pretty bad for Luma to have noticed.

“Ladies do not behave that way where I come from,” she says. “I never understand why American girls treat their bodies like buffets… this boy and that boy, I just don’t understand.”

“Not all American girls,” Val corrects her and Luma concedes.

“Forgive me, you are right. Not all American girls, but some I have seen. It’s so sad. And they are so pretty.”

“That’s relative,” I say. “Honestly, a lot of their beauty is store-bought.”

“I think we’ve cooked enough meat, darling. Go and join your sons!” Grace calls out to Carrick as he’s taking the last of the steaks and burgers off the grill. He nods to her and turns the grill off.

“Herman, get the hat off your face and let’s go teach the boys a lesson,” Carrick tells his brother.

“Will do,” Herman says, stretching while removing his hat from his face. Just as Herman and Carrick disappear onto the passarelle, I hear the incessant giggling… or I should say cackling… of girls off in the distance.

“Don’t look now, but I think we’re being ‘descended upon,’” Grace says as I notice that Mia’s group of five or six has expanded to her whole fucking wedding party.

“Just fucking great,” Val says as she dons her sunglasses. I join her and close my eyes in an attempt to block out these crowing bitches. I soon learn that it’s going to be an impossible task. I don’t even understand how Mia can tolerate the company of these women for more that a few minutes at a time, let alone request—or even allow them to be in her wedding!

Mia has never struck me as one of these girls… except when she made the crack about the homeless when she was insulting Courtney.  I think I’m just a little too close to the situation, because even though it irritated the fuck out of me, I still never considered her snobby or entittled. This group, however, is dripping affluenza and it’s driving me batshit. My attempts to meditate and block them out only work for about fifteen minutes. Grace is the first of us to tap out.

“If you ladies will excuse me,” Grace says. She makes her exit as these hungry heifers start gnawing on sides of beef like starving dogs. Funny, I thought debutants and sorority girls were taught how to eat like ladies in public. I guess that’s only when billionaire suitors, self-made millionaire entrepreneurs, and trust fund boys are around. This crowd is acting like it’s feeding time at the zoo.

The zoo… that would be a nice, normal day for me, Christian, and the twins… I would hope…

“Holy shit, look at that boat,” one of the girls say, as if they just noticed the Slayer moored at the deck. They probably did just notice it—too busy shoveling quarters of Bessie down their throats.

“That shit is hot. It screams power,” another girl says, throwing a knowing look back at the first.

“Thank you,” I say conspicuously, drawing the attention of a few of the girls in the group.

“Excuse me?” The second girl says, eyeing me in a manner that questions how I dare invade her space, let alone her conversation.

“I said, ‘Thank you,’” I repeat, looking at her without removing my sunglasses. “You said my boat was hot, and you’re right, it does scream power. So, thank you.”

She turns her nose up like she’s smelling something bad, and she and her cohort go back to join the other girls sucking down cow leg quarters. Val and I turn to each other and giggle.

“We should probably just go on back to the boat,” she says, through her snickering. “I’m certain that current company would rather we weren’t here in the first place.” We were here first; they descended on us! But considering the fact that I don’t want to be around them anyway…

“I think you’re right. Let’s go,” I say, getting up from the lawn chair and gathering my shoes and sunhat. Almost on cue, my husband comes out onto the main aft deck.

“Butterfly!” he calls out. “Your phone is ringing like crazy! I think you should come and get it!”

“You can answer it!” I call back. “I’m coming!” I watch as he answers my phone and I hear the collective sigh behind me.

“There he is,” one of the crowd says, I have no idea which one. I look over my shoulder at the salivating girls who don’t bother to acknowledge my presence even though they all know who I am.

“Yeah, that’s mine, too,” I say, and one by one, they tear their gazes from my hot husband and land death glares on me. I roll my eyes and begin to walk towards my boat.

“Jesus, what a bunch of classless cows!” Val says as we walk towards the boat.

“Cows sucking on cows,” I snicker. “How appropriate.” I look up just in time to see Christian walking down the passarelle towards me, looking model perfect in his aviator sunglasses with his copper curls blowing in the breeze. I can’t help but lick my lips and I watch him walk towards and when he notices, he does this little come hither thing with his hands.

Mr. Grey, are you trying to get fucked on your parents’ lawn?

I run the few feet of distance between us and he bends his knees just as I approach. I leap into his arms and he doesn’t even stumble. With two handfuls of ass and me wrapped around his body, he shoves his tongue down my throat in one of the most passionate public displays of affection I’ve ever known.

And now I’m horny.

“Time for more Cosmos,” he says seductively when he pulls his lips away from mine.

“You’ll get no argument from me,” I concur. “Who dare call me on a Sunday afternoon?”

“Marilyn. It’s about tomorrow’s radio spot. I told her you’d call her right back.”

“Good man,” I say as I shove my tongue in his mouth again. He squeezes my ass harder as he groans into my mouth.

“Okay, you two, plenty of rooms on the boat,” Val scolds. “Let’s take this party away from prying eyes. Besides, while you’re mauling each other, I want my man.”

“You rang?” Elliot appears from nowhere, scooping Val into his arms. Before she can respond, he cups her nape with one hand and tilting her head a bit, plants his lips firmly over hers in a long, luscious kiss. Christian just stands there with me still in his arms as we both gape at Elliot and Val mouth fucking on the lawn… with a large audience. Val gasps when their lips part and her eyes are glazed over like she doesn’t know where she is.

“Hi,” Elliot says in a soft voice. “Miss me?”

Val’s mouth is hanging open and she’s trying not to gasp like a school.

“Uh-huh,” she squeaks. I have to cover my laughter. I thought I was bad…

“Damn, brother,” Christian says. “If I didn’t have my hands full, I’d applaud right now.”

“You should talk,” Elliot says, “with that oral porno you just put on.” He releases Val’s nape and slides his arm around her waist. “Come on, Angel.” He holds her protectively close to him as he walks her back to the boat. Christian looks at me.

“Walk… or ride?” he says suggestively. I smile coquettishly.

“Ride,” I respond with the same promise he had in his voice a moment ago, and he carries me back to the boat.

Three Cosmos and maybe seven hands of Poker later, I’m laid out on the loveseat in the main parlor, barely able to hold a conversation with Val. KNZT wanted to move my radio spot to the break of freaking dawn to make space for someone else that they had been trying to snag. Marilyn tried to convince them to leave the schedule as is, but they insisted that if I wanted my concerns heard, it would have to be on the 5am spot. Tomorrow is the day I planned to talk about my sexual misconduct hearing and how badly I was treated. While it is a message that I want to be heard, I’m not willing to be pushed to 5am when the rooster crows to spread that message. I turned into a bit of a prima donna and told her to tell them, “Maybe some other time, then.” I don’t even want the spot now, even if they kept it at the regular time. I’m too pissed that they broke into my lazy Sunday afternoon with this bullshit, so I hope the other person that they have to fill the spot is worth it.

bc2f30901f31891a136675675b45a6efI’m nicely inebriated when Val excuses herself and walks out of the sliding doors. Now, I’m not stumbling drunk, but I’m more than slightly impaired… not so impaired, though, that I can’t see a coven of the wedding girls on the aft deck with my husband. One of them—I don’t know which—is wearing a red bikini that shouldn’t even be seen in public. Not only is it not covering her ass at all, but even from here, I can see where she’s freshly waxed and her bra is only covering the nipples of her $10,000 boob job.

I struggle a bit to get to my feet, hoping that my presence will at least make this bitch back the fuck up off my man. I get to the sliding doors just in time to hear Val talking to the naked girl.

“You look hot,” Val says. What the fuck, oh friend of mine?

“Thank you,” the girl wearing the red Band-aids says to her.

“No, really… you look hot.” Val gives her a good solid push and she flies through the back gate and off the Aft Deck. She’s flailing in the most unladylike manner trying to catch herself before she lands very ungracefully into Lake Washington. I nearly fall over myself in the most hideous laughter. I can’t even stop myself. Christian is trying—and failing—to hold the serious CEO face as he watches the performance of a drowning woman in the lake.

“Somebody better go get her,” I choke. “She might drown from that performance alone.”

Nobody moves to save her as apparently these swimsuits are for show, not for flow. Christian grabs the life preserver from one of the lockers of the yacht and throws it out to her.

“If you’re really drowning, you better grab it, because your friends will let you die,” he says over the edge. We watch as she swims—yes, swims—over to the life preserver and clings to it for dear life.

“Did you see that?” I say pointing to her like a five-year-old tattling on a talker. “Did you see her swim? You’re such a faker!” and I’m so drunk.

“Anybody else feel like coming on to my brother-in-law?” Val says with her hands on her hips.

“There’s plenty of lake!” I throw my arms open and giggle unceremoniously.

“There’s only two of you and a lot of us,” one of the girls points out.

“And I’ve never fought a girl before, but if any of you put your hands on either of them, I’ll make an exception.” The voice belongs to my husband and once again, I want to stop, drop, and fuck him—even more now than before.

“What’s going on?” Elliot says, coming down the stairs from the upper deck. “I thought you were coming to get more gin.”

“He was, but he was intercepted by a litter of stray kittens…” Val begins.

“And one wet one!” I giggle, pointing at the girl who has finally decided to stop her water aerobics and get out the lake. “I thought cats didn’t like water.” I make hissing and scratching noises like an angry kitten before breaking into another fit of giggles.

“Steele, you’re toasted. I hope you didn’t have plans for tomorrow,” Val laughs at me.

“Not anymore!” I declare happily. “I want another Cosmo!”

“Coming right up,” Christian says. “Mia’s friends were just leaving. Ladies?” He gestures to the passarelle and several women turn disbelieving gazes to him, horrified that he’s actually throwing them off the boat. Hell, they weren’t invited in the first place.

“I’ve never been so insulted in my life!” one of the girls says.

“You’re young yet! There’s plenty of time!” I yell and Val’s laughter bursts across the deck and part of Lake Washington. Once the last of the kittens have disembarked, Christian retracts the passarelle to prevent them from coming back onto the boat.

“Bye!” I yell conspicuously. “It’s been a blast. Well, except for her—more like a splash!” I laugh maniacally at my own corny joke.

“Oh, my God, Steele, stop, please…” Val says, chuckling to herself. “Get this woman a drink or something. Put something in her mouth.”

“I’ve got something to put in her mouth,” Christian says and I gasp wide-eyed at him.

“Too much information,” Val says. “Get her another Cosmo…”

*-*

So much fun! So, so much fun on the boat! Since my morning appearance was cancelled, I decided to take the day off tomorrow and spend the entire afternoon drunk out of my mind. My husband didn’t have that luxury since he likes to make sure his boat is being handled properly, but he wasn’t alone since Elliot doesn’t drink.

I wasn’t alone either. Carrick and Herman had a few more than usual and repeatedly kicked the boys’ asses in Poker. I have a feeling that Elliot and Christian let them win a hand or three, but as it turned out, they needed it. As afternoon turned to dusk, Herman and Carrick sank into maudlin about their father, and the four men took a melancholy trip down Memory Lane—something that I’m sure at least three of them needed. Elliot admittedly didn’t get as close to Pops and Christian did, but he confessed that he still misses the old guy. We all do.

Grace and Luma were granted access onto the Slayer and the ladies chewed the shit about everything and nothing while the two sober gentlemen assured that there was a steady stream of Cosmos coming down to the Main Salon. I admittedly drank the most with Grace coming in second and Val close behind her. Luma doesn’t drink much, so she nursed one or two. We were singing and dancing and acting like total fools until Luma—the level-headed one—declares that they should call it a night. It really was a lot of fun, but she’s right. I’m dead on my feet.


CHRISTIAN

“There’s no getting her into the house tonight,” I say to Elliot. “She’s out cold.” He nods.

“Ditto, but I’m going to get Angel to bed. She doesn’t like waking up in strange places.” He scoops his sleeping wife into his arms. “Goodnight, Bro. Great times.” I smile.

“Yeah, it was.” He carries Valerie down the passarelle and across the lawn. I go back to the main stateroom where my wife has fallen asleep in her bathing suit, not having swam once all day. I sit on the edge of the bed and just watch her sleep. I so wanted to make love to her in this bed. She would be the first woman I ever fucked on my boat, ever allowed on my boat besides staff and family, but I guess that’ll just have to wait for another day. It was a wild afternoon, to say the least, what with Mia’s catty friends inviting themselves onto my boat and Valerie’s ceremonious “das boot” of one of the girls right off the deck into the water. I had to stamp down the chivalrous gentleman in me and refrain from jumping in after her, but I did throw her the life preserver. All of Mia’s friends can swim and I know that. They made a point of getting into the pool with the slinkiest swim suits throughout high school, sticking their asses in the air to entice me and Elliot. I don’t know if it ever worked with Elliot, but I was interested in an entirely different flavor at the time… and none of them could even slightly fit the bill.

Dad and Uncle Herman let loose a bit. Even when they got a little melancholy about Pops, we were still having good times. God, I miss that old man, even more so now hearing about his younger days from Dad and Uncle Herman. Apparently, Pops was a bit of a Casanova, and Ruby found some of his pictures from his younger days of his many admirers and thought they were current. It wasn’t a happy day in the Grey household that day, but fortunately, they straightened it all out. Uncle Herman and Freeman were still kids when it happened and Dad wasn’t born yet.

Uncle Herman and Luma make a really nice couple. She seems to care for him a lot and he leans on her tremendously during this difficult time. He gets this look in his eye when she’s around like… I don’t know, like a teenager falling in love for the first time. That’s the best thing I can compare it to. It’s new love, fresh and untainted. I’m really happy that in the midst of all this sadness, he’s able to find some joy.

I look over at my sleeping Butterfly and remember the feelings of first realizing that I loved her. It was scary as shit. You’re vulnerable and open to whatever hell the other person wants to put you through. I wasn’t ready for that. I was independent and strong. I had no intention on allowing one of the pretty little brown-haired girls to have that kind of control over me…

Until she came along.

Even now, I couldn’t tell you how it happened… how I let it happen. I mean, yeah, she was gorgeous and I wanted her, but I wasn’t trying to fall in love. If anything, I wanted to conquer her, to make her submit so that I could knock her off that damn high horse she was on when we first met. Dr. Steele. My name is Dr. Steele, I mock her in my head. Insolent little sawed-off…

Now, she’s my whole life… her and my babies… my whole fucking life.

Christian Grey, family man. Had you asked me just three short years ago, I would have said, “No way in hell.” Now, I can’t see it any other way. I run my hands through my hair and rest my elbows on my knees.

“You look sorrowful,” her soft voice says from behind me. I look over my shoulder and she hasn’t changed positions. She’s just looking at me, looking all edible and delicious.

“You’re supposed to be sleeping,” I say, remembering that she was drunk out of her mind not an hour ago.

“Well, I’m not,” she says in a sexy, come hither voice. I can tell that she’s still a little liquored.

“You need to rest, baby,” I coax, turning to her a bit. “You’ve had a lot to drink.”

“What if I don’t want to rest?” she says, curling her arms over her head and resting one wrist on top of the other. Fuck!

“Baby, I remember when you were wine drunk. You could barely remember what happened the next day.”

“Drunk sex is fun and I guarantee you, I’ll remember fucking you.” Shit, Anastasia, you’re making this harder and harder for me… literally!

“I don’t want to take advantage of you, Butterfly,” I warn. She sits up and unhooks the halter around her neck. Two pieces of material fall down to her waist and two gorgeous mounds of flesh spill out before me.

Fucking hell.

They’re swollen and full of milk and I love them when they’re this big! All full and bursting with life… and sexy.

“Baby, if I touch those things, they’re going to explode,” I growl.

“You got a problem with that?” she questions.

“Fuck, no!” I reach for her and she lunges at me at the same time. She’s devouring my lips and tongue and I’m grabbing handfuls of her tits and ass. She’s mauling me in every way possible, like she can’t get enough of me, and it’s making me hornier and hornier—but I have to let her lead this game. I said I won’t take advantage of her and I mean it. She’s pulling my hair and biting my lip and it’s taking everything in me not to slam her onto this bed and fuck her “to infinity and beyond.”

She pulls away from me just enough to snatch my T-shirt up my body and over my head before descending on my lips again. She has climbed onto my lap straddling me now and is grinding her body into my hardening dick. Fuck, she’s so goddamn hot, I can’t even control her. I groan into her mouth while squeezing her luscious ass.

“Lie down,” she whispers against my lips. I lay back and try to take her with me, but she wiggles from my grasp and out of my lap. She moves with the speed and agility of a cat as she undoes my shorts and slides them and my boxer briefs off my body. I don’t even have time to raise my hips to help her get them off. When she rises from removing my clothes, her lips lock tight onto my dick and she sucks the damn thing like a fucking straw.

“Fuck-ing-shit!” I hiss loudly, my hips nearly rising off the damn bed. She’s on her knees between my legs and her head is bobbing slowly as she torments my dick with one of the hottest, tightest blowjobs I’ve ever had in my fucking life.

“Baby! Fuck!” I groan loudly. She’s fucking killing me here! Slow, hard sucks and slurps on my dick feel so good, I’m damn-near mindless! I thrust my hands in her hair and it only makes her speed up, bobbing harder and faster and I can’t stand this shit. I try to think of anything I can besides this magnificent blowjob to prolong the situation, but it’s no use. I have to tell her.

“Baby… please… stop. I don’t want to come yet!” I throw my head back as I’m certain that I’m about to lose the fight, and she heeds my warning and releases my dick. Apparently, she doesn’t want me to come yet either. I take deep breaths to compose myself while she kisses my inner thigh over and over again, then my pelvis and up my torso. When I can see her eyes, she stands and slides her bathing suit off her hips.

Shit, she looks fucking delicious.

She climbs on top of me, thrusting her tongue in my mouth again and grinding her body against me, just enough to keep me hard and not enough to get me off.

“I fucking love you,” I growl into her mouth.

“I love fucking you,” she responds between kisses, “and I fucking love you, too.”

She sits up on my lap and raises her hips, positioning me at the opening of her core. I’m damn near breathless waiting to enter her and she slides down onto me without moving her eyes from mine. Her pussy sucks me in hard and I’m nearly ready to explode again. She doesn’t move. She just sits there with me inside of her, wrapped around me, warm and tight.

Don’t come, Grey. Don’t fucking come.

“If you move…” I try to warn her while squeezing her thighs.

“I know,” she says, still gazing in my eyes. “Calm down. I wanna fuck you.” I groan loudly.

“That’s not helping,” I lament, dropping my head back in defeat.

“Suck it up, Grey,” she growls. “I wanna fuck,” and she starts to move. Fuck! Fucking hell! Fuck! She feels so fucking good! I groan and squirm, count and try to think about other things—anything! Anything at all! But what she’s doing to my dick is criminal. She’s rolling and bouncing and grinding and I fucking want to come so badly that I could cry. I almost want to safeword this shit is so unbearable. Instead, I grab her ass and start pumping hard into her, trying to bring her to orgasm with me.

“I can’t stop it! It feels too good! I’m gonna come, baby…”

“Wait!” she says, and she halts her movements. I yowl in frustration, my orgasm burning in my balls and fading away as she sits atop me, holding my dick prisoner in her vise-like walls. I sit up with her on my lap, still inside of her, glaring at her hungrily. I dig my fingers into her back, the frustration becoming too much for me. She cries out and I worry that I’m too rough with her. Her tits are spilling on my chest, milk leaking down both our bodies.

I really need to suck those.

I put my mouth on her leaking breasts, alternating between licking and sucking her wet, taut nipples. I feel her shiver in arms as she watches me intently.

God, I want you to fuck me… I want to come hard inside you… This shit is more than I can take.

She pushes her hands into my hair and licks her lips as I lick her nipples. My dick is getting harder and more anxious inside her. She’s fucking torturing me. I want to grab her hips and lift her up so I can fuck her… push her down onto me so this burning in my shaft can release… something! I’m fucking dying here!

She has mercy on me and starts to move, slowly… very slowly. I groan deep in my throat when I feel the friction against my cock and the pressure slowly start to build in the base of my balls and in my lower back. She doesn’t speed up, though. She keeps stroking me, keeps fucking me, slow and deep. I’m about to lose my fucking mind. Instead of grabbing her and pressing her hard down onto me like I want to, I grab the sides of each tit with both hands, letting the milk flow out of one while I continue to lick and suck the other.

She gasps, whimpers, and groans in her chest as she thrusts her hands in my hair—and her pussy onto my dick. Yes! That’s it, baby. I won’t stop you this time. I won’t say a word. This torment is too much. I move my mouth to the other nipple that’s making us a sloppy, milky mess while she fucks me so sensuously. Good hell, my dick is going to supernova inside her when this is all over.

And why is this milky mess turning me on so much?

“Fuck me, baby,” I growl. “Fuck me good… make me come…”

So much for not saying a word. This shit is so good that my mouth has a mind of its own right now. She moves infinitesimally faster and I feel my cock getting thicker and harder inside of her. Suddenly, the mind of its own is silent and I can only concentrate on this searing pleasure in my dick and balls and pelvis. I can’t even move. I can only enjoy.

Fuck, this feels so good.

I can tell when she gets her rhythm and it starts to get good to her, because she puts her hands on my shoulders to steady herself and starts to bounce—a little at first, then harder and faster.

Hold on, Greystone. It won’t be long now.

I hold my head back and look up at her—my goddess, wet from sweat and leaking milk, riding me meticulously and slowly, her eyes open and staring at nothing… or at the heavens… or Nirvana just about to descend upon both of us. She’s celestial as she rises and falls on top of me, so beautiful—so fucking beautiful that I can’t stand it.

I love you… God, I love you so much… so much… so fucking much…

Her breath catches in her throat and her eyes close. I don’t know where she is now. I just know that she feels so good against me, on top of me, wrapped around me, in my arms…

I wrap my arms around her and hold her against me. It doesn’t hinder her rhythm, so I slide one hand down to her ass and slip it between her cheeks, fondling her rosette.

Her breath quickens and she tightens slightly around my cock, threatening to syphon my seed from me any second and I push past the barrier of her rosette into her anus. She shivers a bit and her hips roll just a little more against my shaft.

Shit, baby, you better come soon…

I’m trying to hold out, squeezing her hip and pushing my finger deeper into her ass. She’s bouncing faster and harder on top of me, against me. My hands full of cheeks, my finger in her ass, her bouncing like crazy on my dick.

It’s about to be over.

I finally press my finger in as far as it can go from this angle and move it around just a bit. In moments, she digs her fingers into my shoulders, stills her movements, and starts to shake. She’s whimpering and panting in a mindless orgasm that pulls me deep into her and squeezes my aching dick between her heavily and violently pulsing walls.

It’s. A. Wrap.

“Oohh-ho-ho, baby, God!” I lament, and I fall back onto the bed, taking her pulsing body with me while I empty fantastically inside her.

Now, that’s the way you christen a boat!


A/N: “To infinity and beyond” —Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. 

Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/raising-grey/

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

~~love and handcuffs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raising Grey: Chapter 15A—Meet the Slayer

Instructions for this chapter:

So, I had another one of those moments where I wanted to interact with my characters and this is it.

After a small difference of opinion, Christian and I will take you on a tour of his luxury Superyacht, The Slayer. Just like Chapter 17B of Becoming Dr. Grey where Ana showed me around Grey Crossing, this chapter is “link-heavy.” So, if you are using a device that might be slowed down because of the links, you may want to move to a computer. 

When you click a link, the picture should open in a separate window so that you don’t lose your place. However, if you just want to see the pictures instead, you can see them here at the Meet The Slayer.

Again, I hope someone will actually read the chapter and click the pictures and walk through the yacht with me, but I do understand that different devices may have a problem with all the links. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun, too, and you’ll get to see how two alpha attitudes (me and CG) interact when we’re together (he’s a real pain in the ass).

CG: I heard that.
ME: And…?

All of the same disclaimers apply. Have fun and enjoy…

Chapter 15A—Meet the Slayer

“Hi, again, my lovelies. Bronze Goddess here, but you can call me Bronzy. So, once again, I’ve found myself in—or in this case, on—another one of those magnificent Grey creations that require its own chapter. There will be no movie with this tour, but plenty of pictures on Pinterest so that you all can see exactly what I see as I take my tour of Christian’s beloved Slayer. I tried to just put a few descriptions of the boat in chapter fifteen, but Christian couldn’t stop going on about the damn thing in his point of view… and on and on and on. He chattered and babbled about everything from the C32 Ascert Caterpillar engine to the Simrad AP50 main Autopilot display with J50 junction box. Who wants to hear about that crap? Who even knows what that crap is? Will the boat sink? No? Good. Show me the cute stuff!”

“Will you please stop calling it a boat?” I roll my eyes at the sound of the arrogant, baritone hottie that I know is standing behind me on the dock.

“And what would you call it?” I say, turning around to find his hot ass standing there in a T-shirt and cargo shorts like he wore hiking in Anguilla. Fucking hell. Nobody makes cargo shorts look hot… except Christian Grey.

“It’s a superyacht,” he corrects me, standing there with his hands on his hips and his hair all windblown. I fold my arms, my floral maxidress blowing in the wind behind me. It’s sunny and today is a perfect day for a flower and an afro.

“I’ll give you ‘yacht,’ but I’m not calling it Superyacht,” I inform him.

“Well, that’s what it is,” he huffs. “Speaking of what we’ll be calling things, I’ll call you Lynn or BG. If I’m in a really good mood, I’ll even call you Ms. Holmes. However, I will not be calling you ‘Most High Writer of My Life’ or ‘Guardian of My Destiny.’ I also won’t disrespect you if you don’t disrespect me. So, I would appreciate it if you would refrain from making me do the Chicken Dance or the Macarena.”

I can’t help but giggle. The last time I was on Mercer Island, Jason decided to test my power as Wielder of the Almighty Quill, so I had to show him who was boss.

“Where is Jason anyway?” I ask.

“Staying as far away from you as possible,” he replies. “He figures if you can’t see him, he can’t piss you off. Chicken shit.”

“And you’re not afraid?” I ask, raising my eyebrow at him.

“No,” he says, flatly. “What’s the worst you can do to me?” I frown deeply.

“Christian, I write the story. I can do anything to you that I want.”

“And? So?” he challenges. “Are you going to kill me off? Are you going to kill Butterfly off? No, because you need us and you know it.”

“You’re a real asshole,” I tell him. “You know I just posted chapter seven and eight and nearly everybody hates you for how you treated Ana when Pops died.” He scoffs.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he says, waving me off. “Let she or he who is perfect amongst them cast the first stone.” I twist my lips.

“That’s not how the quote goes. It’s…”

“I know what it is and I said what I meant,” he interrupts me. “Three decades—three decades of fighting for my life in one way or another, beginning from before I could barely speak. I could scream, but I could barely form words. Yet, this woman comes into my life and yes, she has the ability to transform me and has done so in a lot of ways. But after two years of being with her, I’m supposed to be perfect after twenty-eight years of hell. There are people who have been through less than I have who are psychotic, schizophrenic, and bipolar and stay that way for the rest of their lives. But not Christian Grey. No—he has a hard time taming his emotions sometimes and he’s a dog and a monster who needs to be punished and Ana needs to withhold pussy and on and on. Hopefully, one day I’ll be that perfect person that they all think I should be!” I sigh heavily.

“Christian, nobody’s saying you have to be perfect,” I defend.

“The hell they aren’t!” he retorts. “I read all those comments, too, remember? How horrible I was for feeling how I was feeling and doing what I was doing. Did they forget that the first and last person that I had ever seen die that meant anything to me was the crack whore? I was four! I guess I was supposed to learn everything I needed to learn about death from that experience, right?”

Oh, God, how did we get on this topic? Oh, yeah, me and my big mouth.

“I’m sorry I brought it up,” I say, shaking my head.

“As am I,” he retorts. “But I can put it to bed without a problem. I’m just glad that my wife is a lot more tolerant of my mood swings and imperfections than others.” He turns around and walks down the dock. Turning about around to me, he says, “Do you want to see the boat?” I sigh. Now, he’s going to pout. He’s such a toddler.

“So, you’re going to be Vanna White?” I ask, falling in step behind him. He stops and turns a bemused frown to me.

rs_480x270-170330072209-480-vanna-white-wheel-of-fortune-032917

“Who’s Vanna White?” I almost have to catch myself from doing the Ana-bobble-head thing.

“You don’t know who Vanna White is?” I ask incredulously.

“Should I?” he asks matter-of-factly. I keep forgetting that if I don’t write it, he may not know it… but he should know this.

786638979_705184“Vanna White!” I say, like it should be obvious. “Hostess of Wheel of Fortune with Pat Sajak? The last thirty-years? ‘I’d like to buy a vowel?’ This is part of pop culture! How do you not know this?” He just looks at me impassively.

“Did you write it?” he asks as matter-of-factly as his last question.

“I shouldn’t have to write this!” I snap back. “Anybody born in America as well as several countries abroad in the last five decades should at least have some idea who Vanna White is!” I’m so frustrated. How the fuck does he not know who Vanna White is? I didn’t write that he was a Dominant and he became a Dominant. He was a Dominant before I wrote it!

“Well, I don’t,” he says, folding his arms and waiting. I can’t believe this.

“You fucking know who Justin Bieber is and you don’t know who Vanna White is!” I huff.

“You wrote that I know who Justin Bieber is,” he defends. “He has one or two nice songs in his vast repertoire of childish screeching. I’ve never watched gameshows. Why would I know who Vanna White is?”

“But you know she was on a gameshow!” I point out.

“Because you just said it!” he counters. “You said she’s on Wheel of Fortune!” Okay, and now I’ve had enough of this conversation.

“Show me the damn boat,” I huff, walking ahead of him to the passarelle.

“Stop!” he says just as I get to the end of the passarelle. It’s a wonder I didn’t fall in!

“What?” I say, perturbed and startled.

“Take off your shoes,” he says. “Put them in that basket. There are slippers there that you can wear if you want.” I frown.

“Are you serious?” I ask bemused.

“It’s either that or go barefoot,” he says. “No street or ground dirt or debris gets tracked into my yacht.” I frown. Is he really that much of a Prima Donna?

“This is ridiculous!” I say, removing my shoes and tossing them into the basket. He walks up the passarelle behind me, removes his shoes and tosses them into the basket. He replaces them with a nearby pair of deck shoes.

“You’ve never been on a yacht before?” he asks. I twist my lips.

“No,” I say snidely. “Some of us don’t make yacht money.” He smirks at me. Asshole.

“Well, allow me to educate you. There’s not a luxury yacht in the world that I know of that you can board wearing your street shoes. They’re called deck shoes and boat shoes for a reason.” He pauses and looks down at my feet peeking out from my maxi-dress. “Skip the slippers. You’ve got nice toes.” Then, he just walks past me like he just said, “Nice day today.” I’m all verklempt and stuff and he just strolls down the deck. I shake it off and once again, fall in step behind him.

“So, a little information about what you’re seeing,” he begins. “The Slayer is a highly-modified, one-of-a-kind, customized version of the Richmond Status Quo. It’s a 150-foot-long, tri-deck Superyacht with six staterooms—two twin berths and five double berths, so it sleeps twelve, not including the additional crew quarters that sleeps eight. The master stateroom is on this deck. The VIP Queen stateroom or captain’s cabin is on the upper deck and the remaining four staterooms are down below.

“This is the Main Aft Deck,” he says, gesturing around the beautiful deck decorated with multicolored teak woods, white cushions and accents, and stainless-steel columns and railings polished to shine like chrome. To our left on the main deck is a Bar with five luxurious built-in bar stools on quality teak flooring. There are two comfortable looking chaises in the space—darker teak with plush white cushions. To our right is a set of glass double doors flanked on one side by polished teak, mahogany-colored cabinets and on the other side by the stairs that lead to the upper deck.

“After you,” he says, gesturing to the glass doors, which slide open automatically. Suddenly, he’s the perfect gentleman, and I’m going to soak it up before he becomes Mr. Asshole again. I flash him a genuine smile and step into the doors.

“This is the Main Salon,” he says, as he follows me into the elegantly decorated living space. “This furniture is custom-made, of course,” he adds. “Everything I saw for yachts or boats either looked too nautical or too ostentatious. I felt like this was just stylish enough to meet my needs—class and sophistication without being pretentious.” I nod.

“I think you got it right,” I say, examining the custom upholstered tweed love seat with leather trim and the matching upholstered tweed & leather occasional chairs. There’s also a mahogany cocktail table, a round table with a table lamps and a large upholstered oval ottoman. On the right side of the main salon is a deep chair of the same material, another round table with a plant and, of course, a grand piano.

“Has Ana seen this space yet?” I ask while running my fingers along the piano, even though I already know the answer.

“We’re sailing later today for the first time,” he answers calmly.

“It’s just… it has beautiful touches—throw pillows and plants…” I allow my feet to sink into the luxurious wall-to-wall carpeting. Yes, I now see why you shouldn’t wear street shoes in this creation. It would be blasphemy. “It almost has a woman’s touch.”

“I would hope so,” he says. “It was decorated by a woman.” I raise an eyebrow at him.

“How do you think Ana would feel about that?” I ask cautiously. He raises an eyebrow right back at me.

“I don’t know,” he says with a shrug, “but my interior decorator was a woman, so there’s not much I can do about that.” Interior decorator… of course. “What? Did you think it was my subs?”

“I… didn’t… I…” I’m tripping over my tongue because that’s exactly what I thought, or at least someone that was romantically interested in him that was decorating the space with hopes of occupying it herself one day. The corner of his mouth rises in a knowing grin.

“No other women besides staff, family, the decorator, and now you, have been on my yacht,” he confirms. Can a black woman blush with embarrassment?

“Well, what if she gets the same impression that I did?” I ask, a little chastised. There goes that knowing smile.

“I guess I just have to trust you to make sure that she doesn’t,” he says. “Since you’ve seen it first, there should be no surprises for Butterfly, right?” He leans on the other side of the piano awaiting my response.

“Mr. Grey!” I exclaim, somewhat appalled. “Are you flirting with me?”

“Nah,” he says casually, “just schmoozing. Is it working?” I roll my eyes and shake my head.

“What’s that? A bar?” I ask, changing the subject and pointing to the rich mahogany structure in the middle of the room.

“No,” he says, pushing from the piano, “that’s the Entertainment Center. It holds a 60” LCD TV with satellite receivers and a state-of-the-art sound system. I’m sure you’ve noticed the mahogany theme,” he points out. I nod. He points to the ceiling. “Look familiar?”

Above my head, there is a coffered round tray ceiling with framed molding and a custom light fixture.

“Yes,” I say examining the ceiling. “It almost looks like the ceiling in the entertainment room at Grey Crossing… right above Atlantis.”

“Almost identical,” he confirms. “There’s custom mahogany veneer joinery and cove molding throughout the yacht. You’ll also see this same wall-to-wall carpeting in the living spaces, slab marble flooring in the companionways, and the teak flooring you saw before on all the decks.” He points to the windows. “Panoramic windows on every level and…” He pushes a button on a remote that I thought was for the entertainment center with the obscenely massive television. Instead, the shades rise on one side of the boat to reveal the sunshine. “Electric pleated Roman shades,” he finishes.

“Very nice,” I say, walking to the panoramic windows. “Every level?”

“Except the lower level,” he admits. I’m a water baby, so I get lost in the view out the window for a moment, planning my next cruise with my husband in my head.

“Shall we continue, Ms. Holmes?” he says in that smooth baritone voice. I give him a knowing look.

“Now, you’re going to have to cut that out because you’re married, I’m married, and you’re very alive in my head!” He chuckles deeply and gestures to the side of the entertainment center.

“Shall we?” he says again, beckoning me away from my first love… the water.

I walk around the entertainment center to find a Dining Salon with a beautiful table that seats ten—mahogany, of course.

“You planned on entertaining here?” I ask. “A dinner party, perhaps?” He shrugs.

“Maybe not before, but who knows what might happen now,” he says. I continue to take in the space. The dining salon and the main salon are one big space only separated by the large entertainment center. Along the back wall behind the large dining table complete with burl chairs and ten elegant place settings is a Buffet with Built-In Display Cabinets that appear to house the finest crystal and stemware. Another coffered ceiling—square—graces this room, the soffit accented by a Murano glass chandelier with silver leaf appliqué designs. The chandelier matches the wall sconces that I am just noticing decorate the walls through the main and dining salons. He leads me through an automatic door on the left of the built-in buffet.

“This is the Galley,” he says. “It’s a state-of-the-art kitchen with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and a Built-In Dinette.”

I won’t admit how jealous I am. The galley is actually a mini-gourmet kitchen and is bigger than the kitchen in my apartment! It has way more counter space, double sinks with black and white mosaic tile backsplash, and a television! There’s a four-door refrigerator and a four-dour freezer; two dishwashers; steamer, convection, and microwave ovens; a commercial five-burner cooktop stove and an oven range. The dinette is a custom U-shaped leather settee and mahogany dining table. The gourmet pantry and under-counter drawers offer more room for storage than my walk-in closet and all the drawer space in my bedroom combined—and that says a lot! The laminated multicolored floor matches the various shades of mahogany throughout the vessel.

“Good God, man,” I breathe. “Just these three rooms are way too much for one person.” He shrugs.

“Go big or go home,” he says, nonchalantly.

“What’s down there?” I ask, pointing to a stairway in the rear of the galley.

“That leads to the crew’s quarters,” he says. We descend the stairs and he shows me the Crew’s Lounge, which isn’t as opulent as the entertaining spaces, but is very classy nonetheless. There’s a larger U-shaped leather settee with a Corian dining table, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, Corian countertop with microwave and coffee maker, and storage locker and drawers. A hallway to the right of the lounge leads to four very comfortable and nicely furnished crew quarters, pimped out a bit with large screen televisions, Blu-ray players, stereo systems, and video games.

We spend little time in the crew’s quarters as Christian is eager to show me the rest of the boat… er, I mean, yacht. Back up the stairs, through the galley we go, back through the dining salon and to a hallway on the right of the buffet. We walk through to the Main Deck Companionway—another statement in pure opulence for just a fancy nautical hallway. To the right is a door to the outer starboard deck, another built-in mahogany buffet, and the main day head, while a gorgeous winding staircase leading to the upper deck and another staircase with a mahogany and frosted-glass banister leading to the lower deck occupy the area to the left. Directly in front of the staircases is a Sub-Zero Wine Cooler.

Beautiful art prints decorate the walls of the hallway and my feet are treated to the cool smoothness of a marble floor… and even the head is lavish—mahogany radius bow-front vanity with a granite top, a Kohler sink and gold-plated fixtures, a vanity mirror and an overhead mirror. I have a hard time figuring out why a bathroom is this glamorous when this particular bathroom will definitely only be used for biological relief. But then, I suppose you can’t have glamour throughout the yacht, then one corner of the boat look like a simple water closet.

Beyond the Main Day head are two large mahogany double doors that lead to the Master Stateroom sitting area. The first thing you notice upon entering is the leather sofa and the built-in entertainment system. Mr. Grey and his lovely wife can lounge in this area and watch on-demand programs on a 46″ HD LCD TV with tuner and amplifier and a satellite receiver while enjoying refreshments from a Sub-Zero two-drawer refrigerator on a comfortable leather settee.

Beyond the sitting area is the Master Stateroom. In the center of the room is a king-sized pedestal bed with drawers underneath and boasting an upholstered headboard with a mahogany frame. There’s a built-in vanity and vanity chair on the port side, a built-in 12-drawer dresser on the starboard, two marble-topped nightstands on either side of the bed, and an imposing entertainment center at the foot of the bed—all in mahogany. The panoramic windows and Roman shades are in this room as well. The forward bulkhead just beyond the headboard is covered with mirrored panels and the ceiling displays a beautiful mahogany alcove with recessed lighting.

The entertainment system hides a 60″ HD LCD TV, also with an on-demand movie receiver. Between the vanity and the entertainment center is large walk-in cedar-lined closet with plenty of storage and drawers as well as a Sentry safe.

“You’ve fallen silent, Ms. Holmes. Are you speechless?”

His voice actually shocks me as I was so living vicariously through him and Ana for a moment, imagining myself on this luxurious boat… yacht… and sailing away to some quiet little island where no one could find me.

“Yes, I must admit I’m a little dumbstruck,” I reply. “I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t in this much awe when Ana gave me a tour of mansion.”

“That’s because you expected the mansion to look the way that it does,” he says. “You expect opulence when you see the outside of this massive piece of machinery, but you don’t expect this much.” I nod.

“It’s overwhelming,” I confess. “What made you decide on the mahogany throughout?”

“Overwhelming, huh?” he says. “You haven’t even seen the whole thing. Hold on to your panties.” He gestures me towards a door to the right of the bed. “Mahogany is classic, sophisticated… and comforting.” I frown.

“Comforting?” I would hardly say that all this rich wood was comforting. Classic and sophisticated, yes—but not comforting. Most of this wood is not the dark mahogany of Anastasia’s hair. It’s the reddish-brown mahogany that you would have expected to find on the maiden voyage of the Titanic… tragic ending, but a beautiful ship nonetheless.

… And probably not the best comparison.

“I find it comforting,” he says, “elegant, yet uniform… beautiful and orderly.”

I guess he would find something like that comforting. I still don’t get it. I walk into the doorway that he gestured to earlier and find a Master Bathroom decorated in marble, glass, and of course mahogany. The floor is marble, of course, and there’s a beautiful marble countertop with gold and glass accessories and fixtures. There’s also a mirrored ceiling is framed in the same familiar wood.

The same sconces from the salon area grace these walls as well as the walls in the master stateroom. The large marble shower and steamer with gold jets and fixtures as well as a marble bench is enviable. However, upon closer examination, what I thought was a mirror inside the shower is actually a large window—into the next bathroom! I rush out the bathroom, not taking note to where Christian is at all, and scurry to the other side of the bed, where I find another door… and Another Bathroom.

His and Her Bathrooms!

This bathroom is almost a mirror of the one on the other side of the window, only this one has a Jacuzzi tub. This is the hers. I walk out of the bathroom and find Christian sitting on the leather settee skimming through the on-demand selections. I fold my arms and gaze at him until I get his attention. He raises his eyebrows, then frowns.

“What?” he says, again. He can’t be that obtuse.

“His and hers bathrooms?” I ask, almost accusing. His brow furrows.

“That’s not his and hers,” he protests. “One has a shower and one has a tub.” I shake my head.

“That’s his and hers!” I exclaim. He shakes his head. “You know, for a smart man, you’re really dense. Who decorated your boat?” He shrugs.

“A friend of Elliot’s,” he says. “Some woman he was fucking at the time. Gia something.” I shake my head again.

“You spent what had to be at least a million dollars in mahogany and marble alone decorating this boat and you don’t remember the name of the woman who decorated it?” I lament.

“Why should I remember her name?” he asks. “She did the work, I paid her, she left. Had she fucked up, Andrea has her name and number.”

“Did she split the bathroom like that or was it that way when you bought the boat?” His lips form a straight line and he ponders the question.

“It wasn’t that way when I bought the yacht,” he says, correcting me. “She split it so that there would be space for both the Jacuzzi and the steam shower.”

“And, Mr. Brilliant Businessman, on what planet does a space that large need to be split in two to accommodate a Jacuzzi and a shower? Not only that, it’s awfully cozy that there’s a window in between. And if the space was so damn small, how did she have enough room to fit in another toilet and another vanity? You only have one ass!”

Suddenly, the wheels begin turning behind those gorgeous gray eyes.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” he says, standing to his feet and putting his hands on his hips. “Women are always simpering around me, I had no idea… she was fucking my brother, for Christ’s sake!”

“You have more money and you were Seattle’s most eligible bachelor. No offense to Elliot, but in her eyes, you were an upgrade.” He runs his hand through his hair.

“Well, at least I didn’t fuck her,” he replies.

“Yeah, but good luck explaining his and her bathrooms to your wife.”

“It could have come with his and her bathrooms as far she knows.” I put my hands on my hips.

“There’s only so much shit I can cover up, Christian!” I snap. “A lady’s touch all over the boat—yes, I said boat—and his and hers bathrooms in the master stateroom… Did you forget you married a doctor?” He sighs a frustrated sigh.

“I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it,” he says. “It’s not like I can remodel the damn thing before she wakes up. Besides, I love my boat and she will, too. Now, let’s continue the tour.”

I think I’ve angered him a bit, but he might as well face it now before he has to explain to Ana why his boat looks like he had a wife before he had a wife.

We proceed back through the main deck companionway and down a winding staircase—marble stairs framed in mahogany with beautiful etched and frosted glass inside the banister—leading to the Lower Deck Companionway.

“There are four staterooms down here,” he says, “three queens and one twin. They all pretty much look the same, so take your pick.” He does the Vanna White thing with his hands and I step into one of the Queen Staterooms. It’s modest, but very nice—queen sized bed, television, two nightstands with table lamps, alcove ceiling, and private En Suite. The mahogany still makes the space opulent, though it looks nothing like the master stateroom. The Twin Stateroom is the simplest of all—two twin beds, a nightstand, a cabinet, a closet, a television, and a private en suite. There’s one queen stateroom on either side of the stairs in this portion of the lower deck. Straight across from the stairs, the third queen stateroom and the twin stateroom flank a bookshelf that really doesn’t look like a bookshelf.

“What’s that?” I ask, pointing to the bookshelf. “A secret room?” He raises an eyebrow at me.

“You’re pretty smart, Ms. Holmes,” he says. “No, it’s not a secret room, but it is a hidden door. It leads to the crew’s quarters—easy access for changing linens and such.” I nod. Makes sense.

We ascend the marble stairs two levels to get to the Upper Deck Companionway. Directly to our left is another queen stateroom.

“This is the Captain’s Cabin,” he says. “It could also be another guest room, but if I chose to take a long sail for a few days, this is where I would sleep instead of the master stateroom—unless I hire a captain to sail instead.”

“Do you ever do that—hire a captain to sail instead of you?” He does the half-head shake, half nod.

“I have a first mate, so to speak, but each time I’ve taken her out, I’ve primarily been the captain.” I nod as I take in the décor of the captain’s cabin. I kind of like the way the queen-sized bed sits against the window so that you can awake to the view of the water. Besides that, it’s pretty standard like the other rooms—same mahogany trim and furnishings, but with a small half-bath.

“This looks more like you,” I tell him. “Solitary, but right at the helm of things.” He shrugs.

“I’ve actually spent more time here than any of the other staterooms. Even on trips that may be a couple of days… around the Sound or just relaxing on my boat with my family or something, I’ve been up here instead of that big room downstairs.” He rubs his chin and I notice that he’s calling it his boat, too. “Maybe you’re right about Gia,” he says. “I hadn’t thought about it before now, but I guess she could have been wishful thinking when she decorated the master stateroom—not knowing that I would spend most of my time up here.”

“Here’s my suggestion,” I say, linking my arm in his and leading him back to the staircase. “When Ana asks about it, be truthful. Tell her that you didn’t know at the time, but hindsight being 20/20 and all…” I trail off with a shrug. He nods.

“You’re right,” he says. “I mean, I didn’t plan it that way, and I sure didn’t end up with that predatory wench. She was fawning all over me and I seriously thought it was just the face, but now…” He rubs the back of his neck. He’s been hanging around Elliot a bit too long… or Carrick. “I sure hope she likes it.”

“She’ll love it,” I say, patting his arm and avoiding his back. “It’s beautiful. Say something profound like the fates must have known that you two would be together, something like that.” I pat his shoulder and quickly move to the other side of the stairs before turning to face him. “Where to, now?” I ask.

“To your right,” he responds, some of the heaviness leaving his shoulders. I pass another day head on the main deck and turn to my right. “Forward.” I nod and walk into the Pilothouse Office. This is a mahogany entryway—mahogany cabinets, walls, and small desk with a few controls—that leads into the Pilothouse. Now, this is an impressive space—two large Llebroc leather Captain’s Chairs, large leather and mahogany Raised Settee with a mahogany pedestal base and two teak steps, custom carpeting and a mahogany helm with more monitors, keyboards, joysticks, gadgets, and gizmos than I can describe. It almost looks like a really pimped-out video game setup.

“This screams power,” I say, caressing the luxurious leather of one of the captain’s chairs.

“It should,” he says, taking a seat in the other one and rubbing his hands on the mahogany helm. “This is my throne. I can and have spent hours at a time up here.” He gestures to the other seat for me to sit down, which I do. “Look out there,” he says, pointing forward. I turn my gaze to the beautiful view before us of Lake Washington.

“Now,” he says, “Imagine moving at 18 knots slashing through the water on a sunny day.” I frown.

“I’m sorry… you lost me at ‘knots.’” He smiles.

“It’s about 20 miles or 32 kilometers per hour. It doesn’t seem very fast in a car, but in a boat, it’s kinda sweet.” I smile back.

“You called it a boat again.” He shakes his head and rolls his eyes.

“Your bad habits are rubbing off on me.” He turns his gaze back to the windows. “I miss my boat,” he says. “I haven’t had much time with her since Butterfly came along.”

“She doesn’t like to sail?” I ask. I don’t remember writing that.

“It wasn’t her fault,” he replies. “I just never found the time. I didn’t even think about it until she brought it up yesterday. I have someone that comes out to the property and maintains her regularly, so the yacht didn’t suffer, but I can imagine she’s been a bit lonely.” He caresses the mahogany again and I smile inwardly, noting that he’s talking about the Slayer like it’s a woman.

Slayer,” I say, “did you come up with the name before you experienced it ‘moving at 18 knots slashing through the water on a sunny day?’” He chuckles.

“Silver-gray fiberglass slaying across the ocean… What else would I name it?”

“You’ve done ocean time with this monster?” He nods.

“I’ve gone up the coast to Canada a time or two,” he confesses. “She’s really made for the ocean, not a lake, but she’ll still maneuver fine in small waters. Land transport getting it onto the island was a real bitch, so that won’t happen again anytime soon.” He points to the controls on the helm. “You won’t understand anything about this and I saw you talking about me trying to describe my boat, so I’ll just say this… great engines, starboard and port—3850 total horsepower. That’s a lot of horses. Several compasses; awesome autopilot; two 96-mile scanners—one four-foot, one eight-foot; top-of-the-line communications system; and I can’t go any further without giving you a boating lesson.”

“That’s quite enough,” I say, holding my hands up in surrender. “In other words, it’s a really, really big boat.” I stand from the captain’s chair. The power is a bit too much for me. “It’s impressive that you can… drive this big rig,” I add.

“It’s just like operating any other yacht,” he says, downplaying the situation. “Everything’s just… bigger.” I twist my lips.

“Yeah, sure,” I reply. “The difference between ‘every other yacht’ and this creation is the difference between an SUV and an 18-wheeler.” He laughs aloud.

“Maybe not that different, but different,” he cedes. He points to a door on the starboard side. “We’ll go this way.”

“What about those rooms?” I ask, pointing in the direction we just came from.

“Patience, Ms. Holmes,” he scolds. “We have to see the foredeck first.” He points to the door again and I obediently open it and walk through to the Portuguese Foredeck.

“Wow. Do people actually sit up here while the boat is moving?” I ask. “I can imagine it gets pretty windy.”

“Sometimes,” he says, “not if we’re going at top speed, but it’s an amazing experience.” I examine the teak wood floors, tan and yellow bench and pillows, upholstered in outdoor materials, two Corian tables on polished stainless steel pedestals, and polished stainless steel  railing around the Deck.

“Definitely a far cry from the other décor of the boat,” I point out.

“That’s because this is one of the areas that’s totally exposed to the elements,” Christian says. “Go down there.”

I look to where he’s pointing and see the teak flooring narrow into a Walkway and Stairs that lead to the very front of the yacht… and there’s a bell. I walk down the stairs almost to the bow of the boat. Looking out over the lake, I almost feel like Rose when Jack was holding her hands and letting her fly at the nose of the luxury ocean liner.

And there’s that damn Titanic reference again.

I turn around to walk back to the stairs, but first, I ring the bell.

Back inside the yacht, we pass the stairs we ascended to get to this level and directly to my right—on the port side—is the Master Owner’s Office just beyond a pair of double-glass French doors. The room is thrifty in size, not in décor, like the rest of the vessel. This space boasts beautiful Sapele Pomelle wainscoting inlays and built-in cabinetry and storage. A custom-made Sapele bowed-front desk and office chair sit holding a computer and telephone and facing a large window with the same electric Roman shades, affording the owner a beautiful view of the ocean while he works. The office also has a 40” HD TV and a classic floor-model globe.

“You can’t get much work done in here,” I say, admiring the beautiful view from the large window.

“I hardly ever work in here,” he says. “This is one of the few times that I refuse to work—when I’m on my yacht—unless there’s an extreme emergency.”

“That’s a good practice,” I tell him. “It’s really beautiful and it’s built for rest and relaxation. Working here is almost a sacrilege!” He laughs again and gestures me towards the French doors.

“Still more boat to see, Ms. Holmes,” he says playfully.

“Yes, Mr. Grey,” I reply, proceeding through the French doors back into the upper deck companionway.

“To your right,” he says, gesturing me into yet another large, lavishly decorated space, “is the Skylounge. I can see immediately that the lounges are also his and hers. The Main Salon is hers, but…

“Now, this is a man’s room,” I say. I don’t point out the his and hers theme anymore, since I think he already gets it, but this spot is definitely for the guys.

“Yes, it is,” he says proudly. He describes the upholstered tweed & leather trim love seat, sofa, and occasional chair. “Those are robust pieces to indicate a gentleman’s space,” he brags. Of course, there’s a large leather occasional chair with a matching ottoman that puts you in the mind of a Laz-Y-Boy recliner, and the round mahogany glass top cocktail and end tables are large, solid pieces. Nothing dainty or ladylike in this space. I could see Mr. Grey relaxing with a quality Cuban cigar with a few businessmen discussing his conquest, if he were a smoker, that is.

And again, another abstract Titanic reference.

“You’ve seen them all over the yacht, but yes, that’s another built-in entertainment center. That’s the largest television on board. It’s a Sharp 90″ 3D television with all the options—on-demand movies, receiver-amplifier and satellite receiver.

“Over here is where I whip Elliot’s ass in Poker, and occasionally my father.” He gestures to a large 48″ Mahogany Game and Card Table with leather inlay. It has four leather game chairs with brass nail heads, each built almost like a king’s throne! “And this is the wet bar—standard stuff.”

“Standard, my ass,” I say. “There aren’t many standard Marble-Top Bars with state-of-the-art appliances, Mr. Grey. Maybe that’s standard for you…”

“That’s what I meant,” he says, raising his eyebrow at me. I shake my head.

“Many of my readers aren’t accustomed to your idea of standard, Mr. Billionaire, believe me,” I say. The well-stocked bar area has a Perlick 2-drawer refrigerator and ice-maker, a Fisher & Paykel dishwasher, a U-line wine cooler, and side-by-side sinks. Three woven rattan and leather bar stools invite the guests to relax with a delicious cocktail or a manly Scotch, neat. The Skylounge has all the prevailing mahogany accents, tray ceiling, wall-to-wall, carpeting, and Roman shades over panoramic windows seen throughout the yacht.

I proceed to the double sliding glass electric doors to the Upper Aft Deck, since I know that’s where we’re headed next. Like the deck below, this deck also has multicolored teak woods, white accents, and polished stainless steel. The Large Dining Table in the center of the deck is mahogany-colored polished teak with twelve matching teak chairs with white cushions. There’s storage in the base of the table as well as separate storage lockers with a polished teak countertop and teak storage cabinets. This deck also has the teak chaises and tables like the main deck as well as a 46” HD LCD television. There’s a refrigerator and sink for snacks and the same highly-polished stainless-steel columns and guardrails as throughout the yacht.

“Up the stairs, now, Ms. Holmes,” Christian says, gesturing me to the stairs.

“I thought you said you would call me Lynn or BG,” I whine. He flashes that all-American perfect 32-tooth smile at me and I try not to melt.

“Old habits die hard,” he says, in that voice. “My mood has improved.”

“Mr. Grey, we’ve discussed this,” I warn.

“I know,” he acknowledges, “but it’s fun watching you squirm a bit.”

“Did you forget that I’m in control of the quill and I can make you squirm a lot? I chastise gently.

“But you won’t,” he says confidently, gesturing to the steps again. I shake my head.

“Oh, no. You first,” I say. He shrugs.

“If you insist.” He proceeds up the stairs in front of me and one look at that ass and I immediately knew that I made the wrong decision. I look down and focus on my feet, holding my maxi-dress so that my feet don’t get tangled in the material.

Distraction! Thank God!

“Are you okay?” Christian asks from the top of the stairs. I look up and see concern lacing his eyes as I slowly maneuver the steps.

“Yes,” I say, squelching his concern. “These stairs seem narrower than the other stairs we took.” It wasn’t a lie—they are narrower.

“Yeah, I’m not really sure why, but they are a bit narrower than the others. Sorry I didn’t warn you. I didn’t think of it until now.” I wave him off.

“It’s fine. No harm done.” I look around the deck. “This is definitely for the sun worshippers,” I say. He nods.

“Yes,” he confirms, “this is the Flybridge Aft Deck, mainly used for sunbathing.” There are four simple chaises up here—teak with green outdoor cushions and chevron pillows on a fiberglass floor. Where the fiberglass ends and the teak flooring begins, there’s a Viking commercial stainless-steel gas barbeque grill right next to the Flybridge bar, which is almost a replica of the Aft Bar on the main deck, only this one has a 46” HD television behind the bar.

Just past the day head and the bar is the Flybridge Deck, which sports two more built-in upholstered settees—one on either side of the yacht—and surfboard-shaped teak tables with stainless steel bases. Further forward is a Dimension 1 Spa and Jacuzzi Tub on a three-step platform. There are lounging sun pads on either side of the tub with cushions. Overhead speakers pipe your choice of music across the deck.

“Well, that’s about it, Ms. Holmes,” Christian says. “The only things you haven’t seen are the Massage Room the engine room, and the helipad. Trust me, the massage room is boring—a massage table and cabinets. That’s all.”

“The boat has a helipad? You’re kidding!” I exclaim. He shakes his head.

“Not kidding,” he says. “It’s not a helipad right now, but with a few modifications, part of this boat can be quickly converted to a helipad.”

Well, now I’ve seen and heard it all.

“And there you have it, my friends—a tour of the beloved Slayer before they take her out on her maiden voyage in Lake Washington. And don’t worry, despite all of the Titanic references, she’ll come back in one piece.”

“What?” Christian interrupts me. “You were going to sink my boat?” I twist my lips.

“No, but you have to admit. It’s about as ostentatious as the Titanic, so I couldn’t help the obvious comparison’s including Leonardo Decaprio’s ‘King of the World’ moment at the bow.”

“You’re probably the only person who got on the yacht and didn’t do that,” he says.

“Oh, I did,” I say. “I just had a Rose moment instead of a Jack moment, and you’re interrupting my conclusion with my readers.” He twists his lips.

“Well, excuuuse me,” he says, pouting and drawing out the word. I roll my eyes.

“Anyway, folks, that’s our trip through this beautiful vessel. Join us for the next chapter when Christian takes his beloved wife on her first sail on the Slayer. In the meantime, I want a drink and a soak in that Jacuzzi before I leave. Christian, can you make me a Comso?”

“No,” he protests. “I don’t know how to make a Cosmo, although I should since they apparently drive Butterfly wild.” I smile.

“Don’t worry, I’ll teach you…” I say, as I lead him to the bar.


A/N: Although I didn’t do a movie of the boat, there is a virtual tour here  if you are interested in seeing it and have no problem with first-person moving graphics.

The album is here: https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/meet-the-slayer/ 

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

~~love and handcuffs