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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book V - Chapter XII - Christian and Anastasia FanFiction

BOOK V
CHAPTER XII

THE DESCENT TO HELL IS ALWAYS HARD

“Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here”
Written above the gates of Hell (Dante’s Inferno)



The flight and the ride home be can be described in one word: charged.
“Come on little man. Let’s put you to bed,” I pick Teddy up from Gail.
“He is much too active to go to sleep, Mr. Grey. I think the trip sort of wore him out.”
“He is not the not the only one,” I murmur.
“Dinner should be ready in an hour, sir,” she says as she walks towards the kitchen. I hold my son in my arms tight and gently place his head on my shoulder. He has this uncanny ability when he tries to slither out of my arms or tell me what he wants simply with his body language. Of course, the first thing Teddy does is to grab my hair.
“Hmmm. I believe another haircut is in order, Mr. Grey.” Ana’s unexpected voice makes me turn around. Her giving me a haircut brings forth delicious memories.
“As much as I would love to take you up on that offer, you with a sharp object when you’re still mad at me is not a good thing.” She isn’t sure if she should be sore at my response. Not to mention, I’m still mad at her. Ana extends her arms to take Teddy for bed who is now interested in my face.
I lift Teddy up in the air. “This is my son!” I say in utter pride. I feel a déjà vu moment.
“Careful, Cristian! He’s so little!” Ana’s voice is anxious which is completely the opposite of Teddy’s happy baby giggle that echoes in the room.
“He’s his father’s son! He loves it! Don’t you son?” Of course, Teddy understands none of it. He just wants me to entertain him.  This has become his favorite game and a source of Ana’s mild anxiety.
“Boys, please!”
“Should we make mommy happy, Teddy?” I ask him as I slightly toss him in the air. And the happy baby giggle echoes again.
“Christian!”
“Alright, alright,” I laugh out loud. “Mommy wins! Bedtime it is.” Ana and I take Teddy to his bedroom. The only book he shows a lot of excitement when we read to him is Goodnight Moon, the book we’ve read him every night ever since he was brought home from the hospital.  
Goodnight Moon

Ana wants to broaden his young horizons by reading him The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She shrugs.
“It was my favorite. I’d like it to become one of his favorites.”
When we lay our son to bed, he’s finally yawning, listening to the little hippo which has the actual recording of the sounds of Ana’s heartbeat and the sounds he would have heard when he was in her womb. Somehow, it makes him feel comfortable immediately and his baby lids are drooping. As we exit our son’s bedroom, I turn to Ana. The serious expression on my face says it all. But my words make it clear.

“The path to paradise, begins in hell”
Dante’s Inferno
In the Shadows ~ Amy Stroup
“Now, it’s your turn to tell me a real-life bedtime story.”
“Christian, I don’t wanna talk about it!” she complains.
I grab her by the waist and lift her on my shoulder. She stops at mid-shriek for fear of waking Teddy.
“Our bedroom, or shall I pleasure you helpless in our Playroom 2 to confess it all?” I feel the excitement shudder run through her.
“Christian!” I can feel her roll her eyes in the way she utters my name which earns her a loud spanking on her ass.
“Not bedroom or the Playroom 2. The library, please,” she says. 


“If you think I can’t fuck you seven shades Sunday in the library, you’re either forgetful or naïve, Mrs. Grey!” The clatter on the counter and the subsequent fumbling for a cleanup lets me know that Gail heard me.
I turn the nob and kick the door closed after entering the library and lock it. It’s Ana’s favorite room in the house. The warm rich red color of reclaimed Brazilian rosewood from an old abandoned mansion invites you in to sit down, almost embraces you. Having the wood re-sanded brought out the distinct rose-like scent as if it’s early spring and roses are budding. There are several leather sofas and chairs to invite you in to spend hours reading. It has a balcony overlooking the Sound. Everything about this library says, come and relax. The lighting is dim and controlled.

“Are you going to put me down, Sir?” She sounds amiable.
“I’m thinking about it. Still not sure if I want to avoid giving you a form of punishment.” She wiggles to slide down. I smack her butt again.
“Only when I say, you can.” My warning is decisive. I don’t know if I can manage to have full control because she scared me for her well-being so much. Her transgressions are many: Evading my phone calls, leaving to meet Ella's pimp and his brother at the hospital which I thought she was there as a patient, hiring a PI without talking to me… I don’t know where to begin. I can get through to her, but she’s not gonna like the way with which I get through. Well, she'll love it during, but will hate me afterwards. And I’m going to feel like shit. Still undecided the course of action I wish to take, I let Ana slide down.
“Let’s have it out in the open, Ana. Knowing how terrified I would be, why did you put yourself in harm’s way? You’re not just Ana Grey, my wife, but you’re Teddy’s mom! Forget about me, didn’t you even think of him? Do you have any idea how it would affect him if anything happened to hurt you?” I try to hold the overwhelming anxiety bearing down on me.
“There it is!” Ana says.
“There what is?” I shake my head questioning. Her hands lift up and gently hold my face.
“I’ve learned a lot from you. How to be cautious, to be safe, to plan, to learn to take control…”
“But you had not taken control, Ana!”
“Alright, fine, therapy time.” Ana digs her cell phone out of her pocket, scrolls through the contacts list and dials  a number. When a surprised voice answer after the second ring, I shake my head with a small smile.
“Ana, what a surprise to hear from you. Are you still in Detroit?” She’s put the phone on speaker.
“No, we’re back Dr. Flynn. But we’re having a slight problem. We really need to talk to you now, if you are available.” Flynn charges me premium times two for the unexpected phone calls, and it’s still pocket change for me. In the large pool of very expensive shrinks, he’s the best therapist I’ve had who managed to become my friend. I motion my hand to take the phone, put it on the table and lead her to sit on the beckoning leather sofa. She sits cross legged facing the phone. I sit next to her.
“How was the trip to Detroit?” Flynn asks. The single significant question that opens the floodgates. After he hears the gist of what had happened in Detroit – good and bad I might add, and Flynn listens and asks questions only to clarify the story.
“I’m very impressed, Ana,” he states once there is a pause, making me roll my eyes. Ana smiles. “How did you arrange the PI, and how did you manage to locate the pimp?” he asks in his follow up question. I’m curious to find out about that myself. She looks at me briefly and sighs.
“I researched about various PIs and one struck me as very sharp, a former detective who closed 93% of his cases. I also picked Detective Clark's brain on how to choose a good PI.”
“Jesus! So, you just picked a P.I. out of the thin air!” What if he was douche and once he figured out who she was, he used this information to harm us? Harm her?
Ana sees the horrified look on my face.
“Christian, I’m not an idiot!”
“It’s not a matter of you being an idiot or not, Ana! You’re one of the smartest but also the most stubborn, tenacious and a go-getter, headstrong woman I know. My problem is you, being unwilling to understand that I have enemies, rivals, people who wish to see me, or those I love harmed. That’s why it’s important that you leave those things that may put you in harm’s way out of your ‘to do list’!”
“Why can’t I protect you?"
"I pay Taylor very good money to do just that!" I bark. 
"Christian, I'm not talking about bodyguarding you! Why do you insist suffering through your nightmare when it’s all too simple to have a faceoff with the man who has the leading role in your pain? You hurt, I hurt, remember?” she softens her voice.
“If I wanted to have a face-off with him, I would have done it long ago. I hated that man all my life more than anyone! More than Linc! Hell, until Hyde got in to our lives in his destructive ways, Detroit Willy was the reigning champion of my most hated list! What I’m telling you is simply this: everything and everyone become inconsequential when it comes to you and my son. If it's a choice between the possibility of you getting hurt and I continue to have nightmares till I die, I take the latter.”
“What about your family, Christian?” Flynn’s disembodied voice rises from Ana’s phone in a non-judgmental tone.
“I love my family. But Ana is different. I’m different when I’m with her. I cannot, under any circumstance handle it if she got harmed.” Ana’s hand finds mine with sympathy as she turns to me and leans in.
“But, Christian, you shouldn’t stop me because there is a remote possibility that someone might hurt me for some grudge against you that I don't know about.” This statement alone makes me angry, because the possibility is not remote; it’s all too real. She’s been kidnapped, our baby had been kidnapped not long after he was born. The threat is always present, and it has happened even though I had ample amount of precautions set in place. I state all these concerns with utmost control that would make the devil proud.
“Christian, I’ve taken all the precautions you find worthy. You and your security team gave me detailed information about being safe in Detroit. I have been safe. Studied the locations and I already knew that Detroit Willy was incapacitated. I just didn’t know how badly, and when the PI went to the hospital to arrange” she air quotes the word, “the meeting, he found out that Willy was in and out of consciousness and he could die any day, any hour in fact, keeping his secrets with him about Ella, and perhaps forever damning to your nightmares. I could finally help you with potentially freeing you from the nightmares!”
I look at Ana silently. To free me from the nightmare I’ve had all my life, my wife was willing to put herself in danger. I fucking adore her and yet I’m mad at her for being so fucking reckless.
“You could have been hurt!”
“There was minimal risk, Christian. There was the PI who was supposed to provide part of the bodyguarding, and I knew if I made sure that Sawyer didn’t get a chance to alert you, he could be the primary bodyguard. I just didn’t count on Willy having a brother.” This she mutters. “I don’t want you to make me this irreplaceable, easy to shatter part of your life, like an object so that I don’t get to be a full partner in your life,” She pleads.
“You don’t want to be irreplaceable? Why don’t you just tear my heart out!”


“What do you say to that, Christian?” Flynn directs his question to me, totally ignoring Ana’s child-like response. I’m mad at both of them!
Ten… nine… eight… seven… six… five… four… three… two… one…” I count in my head, then exhale deeply.
“Clearly, my wife forgets that she is a full partner in my life. Yet, she treats me as if I don’t have a say in her safety. Why don’t you trust me, Ana? because I have been dealing with enemies most my professional life. She didn’t. This is something I have to teach her, but I can’t teach her anything if she doesn’t believe there’s any real danger!” I scoff.
“I’m sorry that I wasn’t clear Christian. I meant irreplaceable as in one of your art works, or like one of the pieces in Louvre…” after seeing my poker face, she fumbles. “I don’t think I’m making myself clear. It’s simply this: Don’t you understand that I’m trying to prove you that I’m worthy of you, Christian! If I can’t be a full partner in your life, then any woman can replace me.” Ana blurts out.
“What?!?”
“Ana, you don’t have to try to prove your worth to me. I mean, isn’t it enough that I went crazy when I found you hurt last year? You nearly lost our son! Isn’t one trauma enough? You know why you’re important to me?” I fully turn to face her. She shakes her head, ‘no’.
“Every woman who occupied that room in Escala and was in my life for a time, only gave me empty pleasure.”
“If you gave them the chance, they could show you their love as well. How am I different if I can’t be your full partner in marriage?” She retorts, goading me.
“No. What those women had seen in me are a few things: mystery, great sex, a wealthy man. They had a need to be dominated and I had a need to dominate. I fulfilled my need to be dark and their most passionate desires. I was a drug for them. But they’ve all been replaceable. Fantastic pleasure can still be empty pleasure. You already know that about them, Ana. We’ve talked about this a long time ago.” She ignores what I’m trying to say and devalues herself.
“What about me, then? Just fantastic pleasure with a little more intrinsic value?” she asks fervently.
“Ana, why would you define your value with Christian in such terms?” Flynn asks.
“I’m not defining, I’m asking.” She retracts.
“I believe you have come to that conclusion, because you want him to validate the answer you have in your head.” He follows up. Ana closes her eyes.
“I don’t know if that’s what I’m thinking, Dr. Flynn. Truthfully, Christian is exceptionally good at showing a poker face when it comes to his emotions. But, somehow, when I want to do something important to help him, he does not control those emotions. It makes me think that I’m an expensive artifact that he doesn’t want scratched, chipped, or broken. I don’t want kid gloves.”
Anaaa,” Flynn’s voice is fatherly, gentle. “You want Christian to control his emotions when he finds you by the bedside of his mother’s former pimp, and if I were to put it in your words, ‘the man who had the leading role in his pain’ and the source of his nightmares?” Flynn calmly asks.
“But isn’t it what you teach Christian, to control his emotions? Wouldn’t it be helpful if he practiced that until he fully understood what exactly was happening?” She almost shouts towards the phone.
“Jesus Christ!” I mutter as Ana ignores me, rolling her eyes.
“Ah… You misunderstand what it is I teach Christian. I don’t teach him to control his emotions. Emotions can’t be controlled; they’re channeled. If they are not channeled properly, the individual pays for it, one way or another. I help Christian understand those emotions. My primary job is to help him become aware of what it is he is feeling, oooor,“ he drawls, “as he has done for years, what he was trying to avoid feeling. He told you how destructive he was as a teenager.” Ana closes her eyes, and I read her lips silently whispered two words: “Oh nooo!
Flynn continues, “Ana, we can’t avoid feelings without facing the consequences. Christian already knows how to keep the disruptive emotions and impulses in check which in return helps him maintain control over his actions.”
“He would not have let me go had he knew I was going to see mm…” she stumbles on her words, “Mr. Detroit Willy. You say that emotions can’t be controlled, but what about my emotions, my need to, desire to protect my husband? Sometimes it takes calculated risks to accomplish something significant, and I have accomplished that!” she says with a slight pride in her voice.
I hold my hand up.
“Alright. Since you made this enormous effort and had indeed shown me that pimp is really a helpless feeble man, I’m willing to put feelings, fears or concerns for you aside for the time being. Tell me the whole story.”
After a deep sigh and inhale later, she says:
“After seeing the prospect that his brother might be seriously hurt, Willy was  talkative. Well, as talkative as a dying man can be. Maybe he wanted to be absolved of his sins; or at least, if you believe the small cross tattooed on his neck.” She shakes her head and continues.
“Anyway, he told me that Ella was a runaway teen. I’m not sure if she was trying to find herself or experienced problems at home. But she was gone at seventeen with her boyfriend. She got pregnant with you at eighteen and her teenage boyfriend  got scared of the prospect of becoming a young dad I suppose, and she was had no choice but to come back to her parents. But she didn’t tell them she was pregnant. At first, she hid it, but then she told her mom. Once the dad found out, they gave her two options: either have an abortion or get kicked out of their home. She was in her first trimester, so they thought an abortion could be easy to accomplish. I guess they hoped she would change her reckless ways and go back to school. You know the option she chose and the consequence.” she starts. Thousands of images go through my mind. Ella made the choice to have me even if it meant she became homeless. Why then did she become such a shitty mom?
“It still doesn’t tell me if she had me while she was still living with her parents. They could have changed their minds.” I ask hopefully. Everyone deserves a second chance. She shakes her head ‘no’.
“When Ella was adamant in not aborting you, she was also adamant that she wouldn’t give you up for adoption. So, her parents thought she made her bed, let her lay in it. She had to leave. Even if the parents were bluffing or showing tough love to see things their way when things got tough, she made a choice and left for Detroit on a bus. She may have been on a quest to show them off – you know her choices would be better than theirs. But as soon as she got off the bus, she was accosted by a pimp who recruits such young woman – beautiful but with no family looking for them. Young, beautiful and vulnerable; just the way they like them.” I don’t even realize my hands are clenched hard until my nails dig enough to hurt.
“Was it Willy?” I hiss my question.
“Someone working for him; his recruiter. Promised her a job, a place to stay which she desperately needed. She was too naïve, and he was very good at his job. They didn’t find out she was pregnant until she started showing after almost six months.”
“She accepted being a whore right off the bus while pregnant?” I have little control over my anger.
“Christian, let her tell the story, and reserve your judgement after you heard the whole thing,” Flynn’s voice tries to calm me down.
“The recruiter didn’t say he was running a whoring agency, Christian. He accosted her with a prospect of low rent and possible employment. When the employment” she air quotes again, “didn’t pan out, and the rent, food, and minor expenses was paid by this supposed new friend, he broke her mentally and physically down into her new profession. Usually women who refuse are gang raped. Made feel inferior. Drugged. That way, they’re totally dependent on their pimp.” Ana stops for a minute and inhales. I think this is exactly what Ella went through.
“I have to confess; I didn’t just do this for you. Ella was a woman. A teen mom, all alone, or she thought she was all alone. She was in the hands of predators. Even if she was strong enough to leave that lifestyle, Willy said they had severe punishments for women who tried to run away from their pimps, and almost nobody cares if a prostitute is killed. Willy’s hold on her was you. He said that almost all prostitutes who have kids turn the kid over to Child Protective Services. Ella wanted to keep you. So, he drugged and threatened her that the moment she even thought of running away or go to another pimp, he’d make sure you were taken away. After I heard all of that, I was even more convinced that her honor needed to be rectified as a woman.”
“I should have killed him!” I shout and the crystal vase we’ve purchased in Paris is smashed against the wall. Fifteen seconds later, there’s a knock on the door.
“Is everything okay, sir?” Taylor asks on the other side of the door.
“Yes, Taylor, it is,” Ana replies in a kind voice.  
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, just have Gail come in half an hour with the broom, please,” she replies.
"Ma'am."
“Christian, I want you to come to my office tomorrow,” Flynn’s voice chimes in along with my security detail.
Ana comes closer. “Christian. There are a few things you need to know. Ella loved you and fought to keep you despite all her weaknesses.”
“Maybe she should have given me up!”
“Or maybe she just couldn’t trust the world where all she trusted turned their backs on her. First the boyfriend, then her parents, and then the pimp. You were all she had.” Ana defends her.
“Don’t you get it Ana? It doesn’t matter that I’m all she had. She was high most the time to even realize I existed. I, a 4-year-old child took care of her! She gave up in the end! After all she fought for, she accepted defeat!” There’s nothing but understanding and sympathy in Ana’s eyes.
“Christian, you were her weakness. She couldn’t give you up, but she couldn’t provide you with a decent, normal life, either. In fact, Ella attempted to run three times. The pictures she sent to her family was her effort to go back to them with her tail tucked in. But her pimp squashed it when they came looking for her. He told them that -excuse me for this, ‘the whore is dead’. They were going to look for you which wasn’t good for Willy’s business. So, he said, ‘why do you think the bitch is dead? Because she was a piece of shit mom and didn’t take care of her kid. He died, she killed herself.”
“And they bought it?” I am completely incredulous.

“At grief so deep, the tongue must wag in vain; the language of our sense and memory lacks the vocabular of such pain.”
Dante’s Inferno

“They must have, because of how she fought with them to keep you. So, she, never got to see her parents after she left them. Ella was kept in utter desperation. She was a slave to her addictions and to her pimp. As long as she was alive, the pimp would use your existence as a leverage against her. The only way she could find to give you a shot at a normal life out of her own miserable one was to take herself out of your life. That’s why she killed herself, Christian! An ultimate act of maternal love.”
“What?” I can’t recognize my own voice. Shaken to the core with realization that in all her shitty parenting, she really loved me. Yet, I caused her death.
“Christian, you were the only thing that was pure and right in her life. You were the love child, puppy love at that, but love nevertheless. You were the culmination of her hopes and dreams.”
“I was her Achilles heel! She could have had a normal life away from pimps, and johns and drugs had she aborted me…” Ana interrupts.
“She could have also given you up for adoption once you were born. This isn’t on you, Christian! Ella wanted you, like any mom who looks forward to the day she holds her baby in her arms. She made that choice willingly, but when she was trapped in drugs  - mainly heroin, and prostitution, she could only think one way to save you.”
“No! no. no. no.” First, I freeze in place, then I have an uncontrollable shaking take over me. Ana rushes to me and hugs me as tight as she can. My arms don’t cooperate with me to hold her back.

Unsteady - X Ambassadors

“Christian, listen to me,” Flynn says firmly. “If Ella was addicted to heroin, whether she had you with her or not, she was already in the clutches of destruction. You know all about addictions. Heroin is stronger than any human tie, any compelling argument, and stronger than any devout religious belief that the addict holds dear. It’s as if the addicts are possessed. They have very little to no capacity to care. Their perception of reality is gone. If Ella had a moment of clarity, she would have realized that. For her to keep you with her in that environment had more negative effects on you than anything else you've experienced afterwards. As for you being aborted or not: There are babies born to teen mothers every day. Those children can very well, go on to live happy lives if the mom has support, or if the baby is adopted by another family. She made choices like we all do every day. We don’t get to blame others. You don’t get to bear the burden of her choices. She paid for it fully, so you can have a life. Would it any way be honoring her if you toss that away?” Words leave me. I must be in shock.
“Christian, talk to me please! Christian!” She holds my face in her hands and looks at me. I just look through her.
“Christian! Look at me! Eyes, baby! Christian! Dr. Flynn, he can’t stop shaking!” shouts Ana, her voice distant. She lightly taps my face with both hands.
“Look me, baby!” she orders, the bossy thing.
“Ana!” with that authoritative call of her name, he gets her attention.
“Yeah!” she says full of attention.
“This is perfectly normal. He’s had a lot to take in, and even for a tough guy like Christian, it’s overwhelming. He’s grieving right now. Give him time. I’ll be there soon,” and he hangs up. How rude!
“Christian!” and she climbs up on my lap, and just locks her lips with mine. Softly first, then almost goading me to take charge, forcefully pulling me up from the depths my soul sunk in, she kisses hard, sucking my lower lip, grazing with her teeth. Her delicious scent permeates my senses. She pushes my hands to my back effectively taking the upper hand. That snaps something inside me and awakens.


I move like a cobra, lift her up and flip her on her back on the sofa, effectively pinning her down.
“Topping from the bottom again, Mrs. Grey?” I murmur into her lips. Sex has always been my coping mechanism. 
“Welcome back,” she whispers, and wraps her legs around my waist. I grab her arms and pin them above her head.
“Mrs. Grey, I’m gonna fuck you seven shades of Sunday!” I effectively pin her under me and expertly move my pelvis on her sex. She can only moan in response.
There’s a loud knock on the door.
“What!?!” I bark.
“Mr. Grey, there’s an important matter that needs your attention.” What could be so important right now?
“My office!” I order.
"Sir," is Taylor's response. 
“You promised seven shades!” Ana protests.
“Rain check for later, baby. I’ll make it worth your while for waiting,” I say gently.
“Christian?” her utterance of my name is loaded with worry, concern, and mad only in the way a woman who didn’t get the seven shades of Sunday sex she is promised. That edge makes me smile.
“You know, I always keep my word, baby. Besides, Flynn should be here soon. Okay?”
“Okay,” she acquiesces after she sees that I’m back in control. As I reach the door, she calls out to me, again.
“Christian!” I look back.
“You are most of all… l’amor che move il sole e alter stele,” she quotes from Dante’s Paradiso. This time my smile has warmth. 
“On the contrary Mrs. Grey, you are the love that moves the sun and the other stars. I never thought I’d identify with all these men tortured by love. Dante, Heathcliff, or even Darcy. You are my Beatrice, Catherine, Elizabeth all bundled in one. My Anastasia.” With that she runs to me, more like jumps me to kiss me with all she got.

*****          *****

“A rapid bolt will rend the clouds apart,
and every single White be seared by wounds.
I tell you this. I want it all to hurt.” 
Dante AlighieriInferno

Two minutes later, I’m in my office.
“I just received a text, sir,” Taylor starts without a preamble. I look at the name, and I don’t recognize it. Pierce the S.
“Who is Pierce?” I ask.
“Mrs. Lincoln’s uh… new friend.”
“You called me here, away from my wife for Elena's sake?” Now, I’m really angry.
“Mr. Grey. Read the text, please."

*Mr. Taylor. Mrs. Lincoln said you are aware of me. I was only to contact you in life and death situations. I think this counts as one: Someone purposely hit her car on the driver's side this afternoon & she's hanging on to life by a thin thread. Help!*

There is a picture of Elena attached to the message looking worse than when Linc beat the shit out of her. Fuck!   


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Christian and Anastasia Fanfiction - Chapter XI

BOOK V
CHAPTER XI
OLD NIGHTMARES



“Do you know the way to the hospital?”
“Yes, sir. It’s Wayne County.”
I dial Ana’s number again and after one ring, it’s sent to voice mail. A quick response text message dings into my inbox.
* I’ll call you later.*
I text her back, totally pissed.
*Answer the FUCKING PHONE!*
Nouela - The Sound of Silence

“Where’s the SUV Sawyer was driving?” I’m extremely agitated as I dial Sawyer’s number.
Taylor taps the blinking blue dot at our destination. So, he’s at the hospital with Ana. That’s some sort of a consolation, but he too doesn’t answer the phone. He doesn’t even send a quick text back!

“How much longer?” I ask after nearly twenty minutes of nervous silence of the drive.
“Twelve more minutes sir. I’m also tracking Mrs. Grey’s phone at the hospital. We should be with her in about sixteen minutes, sir.”
“Did you know anything about whatever she’s doing right now?” I turn and ask Taylor.
“Not, a clue, sir,” he says slowly and clearly. Good, Taylor is mad at Ana, too! His hands are gripping the steering wheel a little too tight, his knuckles are turning white. Ana has a lot to explain. God, if something happened to her, I don’t know what I would do!
“Where the fuck is Sawyer? Are you sure he’s with her?”
“I’m tracking his phone sir. It’s been moving only within a few feet of radius which is odd,” he says concerned.
“…and he isn’t answering it.” I state the obvious.
“Right.” Concern is loaded in that single word.
The ride to the hospital is torturous. Minutes feel like eternity. When will it be over? Taylor senses my anxiety and runs several red lights without getting a ticket. Tires screech, as Taylor barely slows down to make a turn into the hospital parking lot. As soon as Taylor parks, I run out of the vehicle. I can hear Taylor’s string of epithets as he scrambles behind me. Even though I’m in the same building with my wife, my anxiety doesn’t stop. I run to the Admissions counter. The nurse’s jaw drops open when she manages to look at me.
“Oh...” she clears her throat, “may I help you, sir?”
“I’m looking for a patient here. Anastasia Grey.”  When she manages to break her gaze away from me, she types into her keyboard. She shakes her head.
“We don’t have a patient by that name, sir. Are you sure she’s in this hospital?”
“She’s in this building. Can you check Sawyer…” Taylor interrupts me.
“What’s the last name?” The nurse asks.
“Sawyer is the last name,” I say turning back to her, completely irritated for being interrupted by Taylor.
“Mr. Grey!”
“What!?!” I hiss.
“I know the way,” he murmurs, indicating the way with his head.
“Where the hell are they?” I ask, bad memories of her last hospital stay flooding my mind.
“I’m not sure what department, sir. I just pinged Mrs. Grey’s phone. I’m following it.”
Christ! I’ve been gone all day. All kinds of shit could have happened! Shit has happened!
“Jesus! Ana!”
Taylor and I make quick way through the crowded hospital corridors. Among the crowd, I see a young woman holding a little child who couldn’t be older than four years old. I’m immediately overcome with a sense of déjà vu. I feel in a trance and stop in my tracks. Taylor notices and turns to me.
“Sir?” he questions me. I can’t more a step forward.
“Taylor, do you think the hospitals, places have memories?” my eyes engrossed in the young mother and her child wearing dirty clothes. Was I born here? Brought here by Ella as a sick child like this mother? I feel as if these old walls are calling me, ‘hey little insignificant guy! There you are again!’ Does it remember me? I think I remember this place. This particular hospital. Why is Ana here? Am I to make another memory for these walls to store up only to replay it for me at a later date again? It’s like the different stages in the fabric of my life will keep replaying themselves here, within these walls. I hate it already. Yes, I recognize this hospital. Hospitals, they say are the same. But they are not. This one says, ‘hello old friend,” to me. Yet, I don’t find it friendly. It gives me an unexpected anxiety.  

Eminem - Mockingbird

“Mr. Grey? Mr. Grey, this way.” I turn to Taylor and notice that this isn’t the first time he’s calling for my attention. I don’t like being in the dark. Even the fucking hospital only gives me bits and pieces of information of my past. Not a complete picture. I found that knowledge is my ally against anxiety caused by the unknown. That’s why I like having control. And it is my wife who often makes me lose control. Taylor looks at me expectantly. I nod and follow him. The corridor takes us to further into the hospital. We go through the double operating room doors; it opens up to yet another corridor. The rooms echo the constant sound of the beeping monitors, some have bustling nurses. Anxiety grows. I can feel my heart burst through my chest. Taylor and I come to a stop at the end of the corridor, right in front of an obscure room. It’s manned by someone I don’t recognize. Taylor stands before him.
“Can I help you?” The stranger’s tone is foreboding.
“No, you can’t. We need to go in here.” Taylor takes a step forward, staring down the man. To his credit, he doesn’t back down. He’s wearing a long trench coat. His face had seen too many tough years. Military? Police? He doesn’t look like a cop, but he has definitely danced on the line between legal and illegal.
“I’m sorry, but I’m keeping this door closed until I’m further instructed.” He spreads his legs shoulder width, and gets into a defensive pose.
“If my wife, one Anastasia Grey is in that room, let alone you, the entire hospital can’t stop me!” I hiss, invading his personal space enough to see the roots of his hair. He checks his watch without flinching. He looks me over with close scrutiny, his eyebrows knitting together.
“Shhh! Don’t say her name out loud!” He looks around, side steps me and looks both directions. Then he checks his watch again.
“You need to wait about three more minutes,” He says without flinching.
“Mr. Grey, I’d be happy to remove him,” Taylor moves forward.
“You need to step away, and wait till your time is up. Taylor!” he orders.
“How do you know my name?”
“The lady boss,” he indicates his head. Lady Boss? My wife?
“We need to go in!”
“Like I said, it’s locked from inside. Besides, the dude’s dyin’. Lady Boss needs to speak to him before he expires.”
“Oh, God! Sawyer!” Taylor and I both shout, our faces mirroring the same horrified expression.
“Open the fucking door!” I order. “I have to see my wife!”
“Locked from the inside, sir,” he says exasperated, yet unmoved. I turn to look at Taylor; a silent conversation passes between us. I turned the guard appointed by my wife. I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “don’t take this the wrong way,” and punched his lights out just as Taylor kicks the hospital door in.
*****      *****
It took me a at least twenty seconds to adjust my eyes to the dim light of the room after the bright hallway. Ana was seated by the hospital bed and leaning towards a patient who was lying in the hospital bed. She still had her workout clothes on; black yoga pants, and a yoga tank of the same color. She doesn’t even turn her head towards the noise as if she had an important mission to accomplish and she is racing the clock no time to complete it. The scene in the room looks completely wrong.
Sawyer looks up, but doesn’t move from his station, or speak a word; he seems exhausted, a little roughed up, disheveled, the arm of his jacket is ripped. By the swelling he is sporting, his face would soon show some bruises. He is standing behind a man, expertly tied up with improvised apparatus on a chair. Ordinarily, I would be very impressed with such exquisite rigging skills, but now is not the time. The man’s mouth was covered with surgical tape, while he sports two shiners. His dark hair was partly matted with blood and sweat. His bodybuilder size looks far larger than Sawyer’s with his broad shoulders, bulging biceps covered with exquisite tattoos, and leg muscles that had seen a lot of hours at the gym. The man appears to have passed out, but involuntarily moves a little and a muffled moan is heard. I’ve had it!

“What the hell is going on here?” I bark, as I take a step towards the middle of the room. Taylor reaches the light switch the illuminate the room, but Sawyer whispers in a loud tone: “No!”
Ana continues to whisper to the man lying in bed, the man speaks back to her in whispered tones. But I realize it’s not because he’s responding her in kind but that’s as loud as he can speak. He has tubes attached to his arms and a host of other tubes coming out from under his bed covers. Who the hell is this man?
“Ana?” I call out to her.
Without turning to look at me, she whispers, “Shhh!”

Frank Sinatra - Killing me Softly

I slowly step towards the bed to take a better look at the man. He looks to be in his late fifties or early sixties. Although it’s hard to tell; this is a man who looks like he lived life on edge and lived hard. He has no hair or eyebrows; his skin is jaundiced. His face is swollen with the typical effects of chemo, but his body under the covers just like his arms over them appear to be skinny. There’s a hard to forget, sickly-sweet odd odor permeating through him. It is an odor I’ve smelled once before and I immediately know what it is: approaching death. This man is dying. This is an odor one does not forget. Scent, they say has the most powerful memory trigger. I feel my chest tighten and a huge sadness descends, washing over me. Vivid memories come flooding back to me trigged by this putrid smell of death. I remember this scent because it was all over my mom!
I’m frozen in my spot. Poignant memories don’t just trickle back to my mind; they break the levees holding them back and flood every fiber of my being.
“You fucking whore! Bitch! Oh, Jesus Christ! You did yourself in! What the fuck! How could you do that? I coulda sold that pussy for at least another fifteen years! Where the fuck is her twerp? Did that crazy bitch kill him, too? Oh fuck! What’ll the cops say? They wouldn’t care about a whore but they’d care about her bastard!” he shouts. The face I buried deep in my mind, one I never wanted to see again is now sitting in that chair and moaning.
But how could that be? He’s about the same age as he was then if older by ten years or less. Bulkier. I take a step towards him. I grab his chin and force his face to look up at me. He’s missing some scars. His hair is thicker. He is also bulkier.
A name I had forgotten, buried deep in the darkest corner of my mind pops into my head. “Detroit Willie,” I hiss. The moaning man slightly cracks his now very swollen eyes and they drift away from me. The reaction I expect doesn’t come from the man tied up in the chair. It comes from the sickly, dying man in bed in the form of gasping words. They are staccato, muffled and forced.
“Who... who wants…” big gasp for air, “…to…” another gasp and pause, “know?” finally an exhale.
The little twerp!” I respond bitterly. I walk over to his bed and carefully look at this pitiful man. No sign of what he had been is left other than just a broken, mangled shell. In fact, I recognize nothing of his young self except the deep cut scars on his left cheek, possibly attained during a brawl with a john or a rival. There is nothing else that remind me of Ella’s pimp. He makes a herculean effort to crack open his clouded eyes. Fixing his gaze on my face, he tries to place me in his memory, find a name to identify who I am or how I may know his name.
“My memory… is weak. ‘fraid don’t…” deep breath, “…know you, man.”
Ana pauses her phone from recording. “Christian!” she chides me as if I’m interrupting her mission.
“You’re… him!” He redirects his gaze Ana, and I immediately get pissed.
“Ana! Get out of the room!”
“I’m not done, yet!” she retorts.
“Yes, you are!”
“No, I’m not!”
“Taylor! Take Mrs. Grey out of the room!” I order. Taylor walks towards Ana.
“Mrs. Grey, please,” he pleads.
“Taylor, I’m tired of being manhandled. I’m not leaving, don’t you dare to try to make me! How about you two wait for me out…”
“Ana!” I am unyielding on this.
“It’s okay, kid.” This time the voice comes from the bed. “I told you… what… I know.”
Then he turns to me slightly, and adds, “Sorry boy,” he pauses a long time, struggling for breath, his eyes drooping, face going paler. “You look… like… h…” but he doesn’t finish his sentence. He slips into unconsciousness. The man in the chair gains his consciousness and starts struggling against his restraints. Sawyer tries to keep him in his seat and as quiet as possible.
Ana puts her phone in her purse and rises from her seat.
“Sawyer, take me back to the hotel.” She orders in a firm tone, leaving me standing.
“What about him?” he asks looking at Ana, then at me.
“The PI will deal with him,” Ana responds, giving me an exasperated glance.
“Ana! Who is that man?” I point at the struggling man.
“His half-brother.” Ana has a lot to answer. Why is he tied up? Did he attack Ana. He seems to have attacked Sawyer.
“Did he touch you?” I hiss through my teeth.
“No,” she says gently this time. “Sawyer had an altercation with him when he tried to prevent me questioning Mr. Willie.”
“So, he touched you!” I immediately get near her check her face, arms and check her body for any visible signs of hurt or damage.
“No, Sawyer. He took care of it. He wasn’t supposed to be here when I came to talk to him,” she points the bed with her head. I walk back to the chair and rip off the surgical tape from the man’s mouth.
“Why did he tie you up?” I ask with the last shred of patience.
“To get to my brother! I opposed. She disagreed,” he says nodding his head in Ana’s direction. For a minute, my heart fills with pride because Ana stood up to this huge man. In the next second, I worry and get angry about her recklessness. I am at a junction of confusion, anger, lack of control of the events surrounding my life and this enrages me. At this moment, I don’t know how I’m going to deal with Ana. I mentally count down in my head to cool off.
“Sawyer, I need you to take Mrs. Grey to the hotel.” My voice is cold and devoid of any emotion. He looks at the man in the chair.
“Fuck you and the bitch that rode in here to harass a dying man!” he spits at Sawyer. Quick as a cobra, Sawyer throat stabs him using just two fingers, effectively knocking him out, and wordlessly walks across the room.
“Mrs. Grey?” he asks her reverentially. Ana looks at me vibrating with pure rage. She doesn’t say goodbye or soften her gaze and then the two of them walk out of the hospital room. I see the glimpse of a grumpy PI as they close the door.
“Wish he hadn’t done that,” comes a weak voice. “Thinks he’s Jesus to… save my soul,” he tries to laugh which turns into a cough.
“You have no redeemable soul!” I bark, unable but unwilling to let the tormentor of my dreams to have power over me even in his death bed.
“Don’t matter. I’ve lived my life.” A murderous rage rises in me. Suddenly, I’m furious that he outlived Ella! Taylor watching every move and twitch of my body immediately blocks my way to his bed. His hands clasping my arms. I’m ready to fight Taylor to get him out of my way.
“He deserves a long suffering, not a quick death. Don’t you agree, sir?” Taylor whispers quietly.
“What’s the matter, boy? Weak like the crack whore?” I’m not sure if he said those words or I imagined them. Even one foot in the grave, he’s taunting me. I look at Taylor in such a way that he releases my arms and lifts his hands up in a surrendering fashion.
I fill the chair Ana vacated earlier, lean into the bed and whisper with malice. “I have aaaall the time in the world to watch you die suffering, all the while knowing that no one ever loved you, all you accrued in life is hate and your existence had been pitiful. You have nothing. You are nothing.”
I knew what I said got to him by his rising pulse on the beeping machine behind him.
“Don’t!” a choked voice came from the his now awaking brother. “Let him die in peace.”
“Did Ella die in peace? Why should he deserve such luxury?”
“Two wrongs don’t make a right! It won’t bring back any ho’s who OD’d on their own!” the brother tries to shout with a raw voice.
“I didn’t kill her, boy!” Willie says sounding stronger. “Was mad at her for doin’ herself in, but she’d have died sooner or later. She wasn’t strong. Not like your woman…” he says and my reaction is exactly what he expects.
“I’ll kill you if you take a sideways glance at my woman!”
“We’ve no intentions,” the brother says. “That ain’t no little lady! She’s the white witch! That woman’s scarier than you!” This fist sincere declaration takes me aback. What did my wife do to terrify two adult thugs?
I’m surprised in the way I can rein in my rage. Before I can ask another question, there’s a knock on the door.
“What!?!” I find myself shouting.
“Excuse me,” a nurse in scrubs sticks her head in and only looks at the direction of the bed. “Doctor’s going to be making his rounds in the next twenty minutes. I can stall another ten, but that’s all the time you have left,” she says leaving me confused. How had Ana arranged all this? She has a lot of explaining to do. I get up and pace the room. The brother’s gaze follows my movements cautiously.
“Are you gonna untie me or what?” he asks cautiously.
“Shut up!” I stand right in front of him. Invading his entire personal space, I lean down and look into his eyes. They’re the exact copy of my former tormentor’s eyes. Except, instead of hatred and fury, these eyes have fear in them. Fear! Of me!
“Are you taking your brother’s place in harming young women now that he’s kicking the bucket?” He blanches.
“I’m a tattoo artist. If I hurt anyone, it’s consensual and for body art. Look man! He’s been done with that part of his life a long time.”
“Maybe, I still have it in me,” murmurs Willie’s weak voice. “If…” he breathes heavily, the oxygen constantly pumping into his nostrils. “…if I was healthy, I would entice your little lady… like a classy escort.”
Suddenly I descend on him to deliver a deathly blow, fury I had never experienced before oozing from my pores. Beyond the hateful haze clouding my eyes, I see a plea of death from this pitiful creature. He wants to commit suicide by my hands! I won’t give him that satisfaction. I’m so singularly focused on him, I finally hear Taylor’s voice behind me, trying to hold me in place while Willie’s brother is shouting “no!”
I drop my hands. My breathing is rapid, and my heart is running like a charging horse. “Your death,” I whisper leaning in, “won’t be by my hands. I hope you don’t die right away! You suffer long and when you do die,” I enunciate, all the while smelling his death in the air, “I hope you pay for what you did to all the women you trafficked.”   
He only smiles halfway, with not enough strength to even for a full one. The only reaction I get is from the machines showing his heightened pulse and blood pressure. I turn to leave his room, Willie speaks again.
“I was wrong about you, twerp. You are as dangerous as your woman! Just as savage.” Again, I come to wonder what Ana did to this man who tormented me in my dreams in the last twenty-two years.
“Hey, what about me? Untie me!” yells his brother. I look at Taylor.
“I’ll let the PI do it,” he says and holds the door open for me.
*****      *****
The ride back to the hotel isn’t rushed. I don’t want to go just yet. I don’t want to accidentally hurt Ana, or say something I will regret.
“Drive me around for a while, Taylor.” I take a deep breath, take out my phone and dial. The voice I haven’t heard in a very long-time, answers.
“I thought you dropped me,” the voice answers. I take a deep breath.
“I need your help,” I say finally, fully exasperated.
“I recognize the tone. It must be about Ana, then.”
“Ya think?” my voice is mocking but it’s ignored.
“Tell me what happened. Better yet, come over.”
“I can’t, I’m in Detroit,” I say disappointed.
“How about Ana and Teddy?”
“They’re in Detroit as well. She…” I take a deep breath not knowing where to begin. “She did something kind. At first… You know about my fucking nightmares.” Only three people are well aware of them: Elena, Flynn and Ana. But only Elena and Ana had seen them in action and both of them had drastically different approaches to help me out, save me from them. Well, Elena helped me to control them, Ana, I suppose is trying to eliminate them.
“Will I see you when you get back to Seattle?”
“Yes, of course, as soon as I get back tomorrow,” I say anxiously. “But I need your help right now. I’m completely ambivalent about how I should feel right now. In one hand I feel complete and utter betrayal and for that I really want to punish Ana. On the other hand, she has done some amazing acts of kindness, and what she did today may be just the continuation of that and if that’s the case, I want to worship her at her feet. But then she put herself in danger and I’m close to firing Sawyer, so I’m leaning more towards punishing her. She made me lose control and I nearly killed him!” Taylor’s eyes briefly meet with mine on the rearview mirror, concern written all over it.
“Christian, I need you to slow down, because it sounds like we were having a conversation but I only joined you in the tail end of it. So, start from the beginning.” I exhale out my exasperation.
I retell the story from the beginning. Aside from uh huh, hmmm, okay, I get no reaction that tells me that she or I did something right or wrong for that matter.
“What do you think you should do?” That annoying question again.
“Really? Is this a shrink’s go to question to avoid any form of thought process? Why am I paying a truckload of money if you aren’t giving me your expert opinion, Flynn?” I spew.
“You know the reason. If I tell you what to do, then you are not training your mind to think in the constructive way to better your relationship,” he explains patiently. “So, tell me what you should do.”
I inhale deeply. “I’m too conflicted to form an opinion or decide on a course of action. As it is, if I allow my instincts to kick in, you know the way it will go and that will be bad for Ana, and I will release the pent-up rage but then I’ll feel terrible at the end, because she’ll first enjoy it and then hate it! Then hate me for it!”
“Well then, it’s a conundrum and you already know the answer.” He says.
“I don’t know any of the answers!” My frustration is at the tipping point as Flynn talks to me the way I would Teddy.
“Your biological mother’s choices and this man whom you’ve witnessed abuse her, consequently abuse you have been the single biggest negative contributor to your psyche. I can give you some textbook answers, but you already know all of those. Ana is deeply in love with you and you with her. Is there anything you wouldn’t do for her? Why is it such a big stretch of imagination that she wouldn’t go to such lengths to free you from your nightmares? Wouldn’t that count that she’d do anything for you? Didn’t she prove that to you with Jack Hyde?” he asks with a hint of chastising. 
“That’s my point! It nearly killed her and she almost lost the baby! How could she put herself in danger with that pimp?”
I’m too angry and too focused on what Taylor is trying to do to get my attention. Finally, he clears his throat and raises his voice to get my attention, “Mr. Grey?”
“What!?!” I snap.
“Sawyer called. Mrs. Grey took Teddy and is going to take a commercial flight back to Seattle.”
“What the fuck!?!” I shout into the phone.
“I didn’t say anything,” Flynn erroneously assumes that I yelled at him.
“I’ll talk to you later! Emergency!” I hang up on him before he can get a word edgewise.
“Head to the fucking airport!”
As I try to fumble on my phone to speed dial Ana’s number, I see texts from her.

*Teddy and I are going back home. Commercial. You are angry. As am I. There are things I wanted to speak to you about, but, guess we’ll see about that. We or rather I need to cool down.*

What the fuck does that mean? Is she running away from me? Is my wife leaving me with our child? Did the pimp say something that made her disgusted of me? My eyes are clouded with mist while the enormous boulder that just formed in my throat is blocking my airways. With numb fingers, I dial her number immediately.
She answers after the fourth ring.
“I can’t talk to right now, Christian,” her voice sound weepy.
“Where the fuck are you going?” I hiss my anger, hurt and disappointment in one single breath.
“Home. Didn’t your cronies tell you that already?” I guess she means Sawyer. I can imagine his face reddening.
“Anastasia Rose Grey! You will give me and all of our staff a collective heart attack! You know that’s not fair to any one of us!” I hear her take a regretful breath.
“I’m sorry,” she finally mutters. “I still need to cool down by myself.”
“Do you really want to leave me alone in this state? Leave me a mess?” I find myself pleading.

The Pretty Reckless - Make me Wanna Die

“You dismissed me!” she whispers. “You don’t let me protect you. You push me away!” That’s a load of crap.
My gaze meets with Taylor’s in the mirror.
“Sawyer’s stalling,” he mouths, as he speeds through the freeway.
“I am your husband! It’s my job to protect you and our son! Do you have any idea what state you put me in when I heard that you were in the hospital? Worse than finding you with that fucking pimp who epitomized everything evil during my entire existence! And now that you found out how a terrible kid I was, you’re running for the hills! Was it worse than the adult Christian?” I whisper. I’m losing it. My life is crumbling around me and I can’t do anything about it.
“Noooo! No, Christian, no! There was nothing wrong with you back then, and nothing wrong with you now! Can’t I just be mad at my overprotective, jealous, dismissive husband without finding him terrible?” I hear Teddy cry in the background. I immediately want to take him to my arms and soothe him, but she’s taking him home.
“Just come back,” I plead.
“I’m only going to our home,” she responds gently. Taylor’s gaze meets with mine again, and he nods as he exits the freeway. I hang up the phone without answering her as Taylor comes to a stop behind another SUV. I exit the SUV I’m riding in and run to the passenger door of the other vehicle, flinging it open.
“Wherever you go, I go. We don’t do it alone,” I say to the bewildered face of my wife. She bores accusatory holes in Sawyer and Melissa’s backs. Her lips are a tight line.
“I harrowed my personal hell for you this week. The least you can do is to help me get through it. Not run away when going gets tough,” I murmur. “I thought you remembered all your wedding vows.” Teddy’s contorted face cries harder when he hears my voice and his little hands reach to me to comfort him. Ana melts and she too starts crying as she lets me pick him up from his car seat. Tears force their way down my cheeks silently as I coo my son to make him feel safe. At this moment, all three of us are crying, all for very different reasons.
“Take us home, Christian,” Ana whispers coming to my side, and hugging us both.

“Yes, let’s go home.” 

Angelina Jordan - Fly Me to the Moon