Looking for something I’ve never seen
Alone and I’m in between
The place that I’m from and the place that I’m in
A city I never been
I found a friend or should I say a foe
Said just a few things you should know
We don’t want you to see we come and we go
Here today, gone tomorrow
We’re only taking turns
Holding this world
It’s how it’s always been
When you’re older you will understand
If I say who I know it just goes to show
You need me less than I need you
Take it from me we don’t give sympathy
You can trust me trust nobody
But I said you and me we don’t have honesty
The things we don’t want to speak
I’ll try to get out but I never will
Traffic is perfectly still
We’re only taking turns
Holding this world
It’s how it’s always been
When you’re older you will understand
Trust Me – The Fray
My girlfriend is Felicity Fucking Ferret. FML! The irony of the situation is not lost on me and for some inexplicable reason it just seems so incredibly funny. I know I should be angry, I’m fairly sure that I should be storming out of here but I look at that sorry little look on her face and I burst out laughing.
She looks at me in shock. Yep, I’ve grown a second and head and sprouted fucking wings babe, what did you expect? Then the giggle starts and fuck me if I don’t want to bury myself inside her again. Gets me every damn time. Soon the laughter grows in that way that it can and it just takes over. You know, that hysterical gut wrenching chuckle that makes tears stream down your face because it is so stupid and you just can’t stop? So there we are standing in the kitchen service area of some dingy hotel, laughing like a couple of hyenas, clutching our stomachs when Ethan and Mia burst in. As if my night can’t get any worse…or funnier.
They stop short and look at us anxiously then at each other not quite believing what they are seeing.
“Where’s the fire, bro?” I can barely get the question out between gasps and this just sends Kate into spasms. She starts to hiccup and slides down the wall. Oh, don’t do that babe, that dress is too short. And my efforts to try to cover her up start us laughing all the more.
“Seems like it might have been here. Can we ask what is so damn funny?” Mia looks a little pissed and I presume it is because she has missed the party. My little sister always did hate being the last one in on a joke.
“Oh, babe, we are about to make family history.” I look at Kate and she looks like she might be about to wet herself.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Mia, are you sure you want to know.
“Put it this way, I wouldn’t buy tomorrow’s newspaper. Felicity Ferret is about to print some fairly graphic photos of your big brother getting his rocks off in a hotel corridor.” I reach over to give Kate a hand off the floor. She really shouldn’t be flashing her sweet pussy for everyone to see.
“You mean these ones?” Ethan holds up a SD card and Kate and I go suddenly silent staring at him. I can see what is going through Kate’s mind. For Ethan to have grabbed the card he had to know that Matt or Lisa had taken the photos in the first place and that means he just saw me fucking his sister. Holy shit!
“Where did you get that?” Kate is trying to turn the tables here but she is wasting her breath.
“Don’t Kate, we’ve been busted. Let’s just be thankful that Ethan is on our side. You are on our side right?”
Mia quickly grabs the card off him and looks at me with a smirk. “Mia, what are you doing?”
“I think I will take these for safe keeping. You never know when we might need …insurance.” Oh you sneaky little bitch. I go to advance on her when Ethan steps in the way.
“I don’t think so. Not on my watch.” He’s smiling but there is that hint of ‘don’t fuck with me’ just below the surface. I know he has the hots for my sister but this caveman routine is kind of unexpected. I mean, it’s not like he’s that serious about her, he hardly ever sees her. I figured I would just wrestle her to the ground and tickle her into submission. Always worked when we were kids.
“I’m not going to hurt her. I just want the photos.” Holding out my hand I give a little flick of my fingers but she just smiles and tucks the card into her bra. Well, I’m not going in there. Ethan smirks.
“I’m more worried that she will hurt you.” He gives a quick glance over his shoulder and Mia gives him a big grin back. What the hell is going on here? Like she could do anything to me. Of course, with unpredictable Mia I guess he could be right and it sounds like he is speaking from experience. Maybe that’s why he’s been holding back.
“Mia. Please. We don’t want those falling into the wrong hands.” Kate tries to turn on her charm. It doesn’t seem to be hitting the mark.
“Don’t worry Kate. I will take very good care of these. In the meantime, can I suggest that we get back into that ballroom before everyone in greater Seattle starts speculating on what you two are doing?” They both step back to wave us back through between them to the ballroom. Shrugging my shoulders, I grab Kate by the hand and escort her through the doors.
Instead of going back to the table we walk straight out on the dance floor. Taking her in my arms we keep our movement a little more low key than last time just happy to hold each other. Looking into her eyes I smile. I can’t believe how good it felt to laugh with her again.
“You look happy, Mr Grey. I thought you would be furious with me.” Kate’s smile lights up her face and it is all I can do not to kiss her.
“Don’t get me wrong, babe. I am pretty furious with you.” A little frown creases her forehead and she starts to look down. I lift her chin. “For not telling me. That must have been eating you up especially when you are so firmly a part of this crazy family of mine.” I look over at the table where Mia and Ethan are toasting each us with champagne.
“I’m sorry. I got put in this team because I know people like you and I get invited to events like this. They wanted someone who is an insider. I wanted to go to my Dad and get a change but…”
“No, Kate, that is the worst thing you could do.” Her colleagues would crucify her if they thought she was getting any special treatment because of her father.
“I know. I just feel so awful every time we come to one of these things. I almost hope that I don’t hear anything about anyone.” I feel so sorry for her. We have talked about how awful most of these people are but I know that she would not be happy about ratting them all out. It just isn’t her style.
“Sweetheart, this is temporary. You can do your time, do it well and I know that they will move you on. In the meantime, perhaps we can use this to our advantage.” She looks at me with questioning eyes and then I see a spark.
“You mean turn the tables.” I nod and for the first time in a long time she looks excited. Her brain is going a million miles an hour.
“I can hear the machinery in your head. What are you thinking?” Her enthusiasm makes me smile and then she drags me over to where Mia and Ethan are still congratulating each other.
“Hey you two. Are you up for some fun?” Mia looks at Kate and the excitement catches.
“Sure, what did you have in mind?” My sister, up for anything.
“Well, first we have a couple of things that we need to tell you…” Kate looks at me and I am just a little concerned at where this might be going but I am trusting her not to divulge absolutely everything about me or my past.
For the next fifteen minutes she tells them the finer points of her being part of the Ferret team but also about the photos that have been sent to Kavanagh Media over the past few months. She makes it sound fairly harmless and doesn’t give too much away about information that might go along with the photos. I have to say, her spin on what is happening is impressive given that Ethan knows most of the details. Most of this discussion is for Mia’s benefit. A look passes between Mia and Ethan that I can’t quite interpret before she says, “I’m in.”
“Great, so the Lincoln company table is over on the far side of the ballroom. The SIP table is three behind us. I don’t expect to get much joy from them since Jack Hyde no longer works for them but you never know if there is someone there who might still be in contact. We just need a couple of things that are interesting, it doesn’t need to be salacious gossip. God knows our writers can turn the most innocent thing into cause for defamation without any real facts. So, let’s go.”
We salute each other with champagne and then begin circulating. Within an hour we have all heard something that might be worth throwing to the writing team so we gather outside to share a ride home.
“Are you coming back to the apartment Sis?” Mia gets a shocked expression on her face and looks with some uncertainty at Ethan who just shrugs. What is it with these two? Are they a couple or what? Maybe they just feel uncomfortable because I am her big brother but it is just weird.
When we get back to the apartment I pull her aside. “Mia, what is going on with you and Ethan?”
“Nothing. Why?” She tries for defiant but she looks a little guilty.
“I thought you two wanted to be together? Is he giving you grief because of me and Kate?” She glances around with some uncertainty.
“Yeah, he just thinks it is weird that you are dating his sister.”
“Do you like him?” In a flash this world of emotion hits her eyes in a way that I have never seen before with Mia. She always crushed on my friends when she was younger but I haven’t seen much of her for the past four years, I don’t know this adult Mia. It hits me that the little girl who left for Paris four years ago is a young woman and if I am not mistaken she is very much in love.
“I do. It’s just…we’re not meant to be together.” She drops her head and I almost miss the tear that drops from the corner of her eye.
“Mia, go and be with him. Make him see you. I don’t care. I love Kate, and I love you and Ethan as well. If it is meant to be then go and make it happen.”
“You know I don’t need your blessing.” Ah, there is the defiant Mia.
“No, but you have it any way.” The fire dims a little and she nods and turns to walk down the hall to Ethan’s room. At the door she turns around and looks at me.
“Thanks.” I smile and shake my head turning back to find Kate standing behind me.
“That was really sweet. You are a good big brother.” Her head is tilted to one side as if she is seeing something new. Funny I thought she pretty much knew everything there was to know about me. “You are going to make a really good Dad one day.”
For a moment I get my hopes up and then I see the sadness creep in. Don’t push, Grey. I think if I can just fix my life and hang in there long enough without hassling her, Kate just might change her mind about having kids.
The next week is a blur of work and wedding arrangements. Christian is getting on my last nerve with all his attention to detail. Of course, the detail of the wedding is really Mia and Ana’s department with some input from Kate and the respective mothers. Christian’s attention to detail is about security and the whole event is so shrouded in secrecy that even the wedding invitations have been sent via encrypted email.
In between all of this we have been waiting for another contact from Linc but it seems that the Ferret has been able to drop enough information into her column that he has backed off. The first tidbit came via Ethan after the charity gala. It seems that Linc may be in some strife over some unpaid taxes. I have no idea how Ethan got the information but I am glad he did. The second came from Mia who overheard a disgruntled employee talking about being blamed for some lost shipments from South America. She overheard him saying that Linc had threatened to string the logistics and shipping team managers up by the testicles if they didn’t do their jobs properly and he tried to fire one of them before human resources stepped in and told him what he was doing was illegal.
Kate ensures that these were slowly leaked in the biweekly column and this happens to coincide with the first syndication run so the story was all over the greater Western seaboard within a day. Hopefully, this has bought us some time. In the meantime, James and I have made plans to talk with my Dad and we meet him along with Kate and Ethan at a private dining room at the Rainier Club for dinner. Mia refuses to come and now with my new insight into my sister’s life I can fully understand why. Her decision makes it easy not to tell her more of the gory details of what happened between us and Linc all those years ago, but I have told her enough to make her wary.
“Son, it’s good to see you. James, how are you?” My father is the epitome of refinement and I wonder what he was like as a young man, when Linc and Elena got their hooks in him.
“Sir, it is good to see you too.” James is always a little intimidated by my family. He has no reason to be. He might have working class origins but he is a solid person, has a great head for business and I trust him with my life.
“Well, what can I do for you.” Once we start, it is like a train running headlong into the station. We almost can’t stop as we pour out detail after detail of what happened to Stella and what we did on her behalf. Dad, to his credit, sits and listens through most of our description only asking questions every now and then to clarify the salient points. Eventually we run out of steam.
“So, we wondered, what would happen if he gave the evidence to the police now.”
“Mmm. The statute of limitations may not apply where the assault was never reported. From that point of view he only needs the video evidence to start the ball rolling against you. On the other hand, if we can prove that he has had the videos all this time then it could be thrown out on the basis that he has withheld evidence. Of course, your case is made stronger if you could get Elena and/or Stella to testify against him. Since there are no other witnesses to their assaults, the evidence needs to be directly from them.”
“No, we will never get Stella into a court room. She is far too fragile and she doesn’t remember what happened.” James voice is firm on this and I have to agree. Stella has made so much progress with our support and her relationship with Will. I don’t ever want to see her slip back into the hollow empty shell she was after the assault. It occurs to me that I have only seen one other woman like that in my life and I reach under the table to take Kate’s hand and gently squeeze. I am just so glad that she is coming back.
“You know, an affidavit could be enough from both of them. What are the chances that he might settle out of court?” Kate turns her attention on my father and he considers her question carefully before replying.
“If we were dealing with a normal person I would say yes. Linc has always been a little more unpredictable than that. Rumor has it that some of his business practices border on illegal but I have never known anyone who has been able to gather enough evidence to prosecute him. It is almost as if he is protected somehow. If Elena doesn’t also come forward then Stella’s evidence is at best unreliable.”
“Even if we put her through regression therapy?” Ethan has mooted this to me privately but I don’t know if it is a good idea. Perhaps there are some really good reasons why Stella’s mind refuses to unlock the box on that event. Who are we to take her back there just because we got sloppy.
“No, we can’t do that to her.” James is adamant on Stella’s behalf once more and again I am glad he is on my team.
“Guys, I understand why you want to protect her. I really do. But someone like John Flynn would take good care of her and perhaps even be able to help her to get better, stronger. He has therapy arrangements with some of the best practitioners on both coasts. One of those partners is an expert in her field, Diana Lake. Between them I think they could keep Stella safe.” How does Ethan know all of this stuff?
“It might be worth asking Stella what she wants to do?” Kate,ever the voice of reason. James and I look at each other and a silent agreement is made. It should be Stella’s decision but we don’t want her to make it under duress.
“I’ll ask.” James says quietly. “But if she says no then that has to be it. No one pressures her any further.”
“I have to say. You both are showing incredible loyalty to your friend. I’m proud of you son.” I wait for the hint of sarcasm to seep through but he genuinely means it. I’m not sure if I want to repair this relationship just yet but I have to give him props for not hauling me out in front of everyone for my stupidity. I will wait for it later. God knows he was good at it when I was an off the rails teen. “Let me do some more digging around. I think you are going to need some other representation here. I am happy to consult but it isn’t my area of specialty and we could do without the conflict of interest.”
“Why would it be a conflict of interest? You are perfectly able to represent your own son, aren’t you?”
“Yes, but I have also been Elena’s personal lawyer for the past twenty years. I think Linc’s legal team might want to go to town on that one.” Fuck me! So Elena gets her evil claws into him on a professional level as well. Just for a moment I wonder if he isn’t still carrying on with her behind Mom’s back. Kate is gripping my hand so hard under the table I think she might draw blood.
“So if she agrees to testify you will represent her but not me?” He looks stricken. So you should you prick.
“Son, it isn’t what you think.” He looks around the room and I can tell he doesn’t want to talk about this in front of James or Ethan. “Can we discuss this later?”
“I don’t think so Dad. I’m pretty sure I am all talked out on that one.”
“Elliot. Your Dad was probably looking after Mia’s interests.” We all look at Ethan. “Mia has already told me everything. You were looking out for her weren’t you Mr Grey?”
“Yes. There was always that doubt initially regarding whether Mia was really mine or not. Elena didn’t want Linc to make any claims, she wanted Mia protected from his…lifestyle. She also needed some protections for herself.”
“I’m sure she did. Exactly what form did that protection take, Dad?” I can’t help myself. I am so fucking furious with him right now.
“Stop right there. I didn’t want this. None of it. Your mother made me do this. She wanted Mia and she wanted me to take care of things. Perhaps we were wrong but we trusted Elena even when we couldn’t trust Linc. But that is all it was. I had a professional relationship with that woman and I have never looked at another woman but your mother from the day she arrived here in Seattle with you and Christian in tow.”
We are standing up, glaring at each other over the table. James and Ethan look ready to pull me back from smacking the shit out of my own father. Kate steps in and takes my face in her hands, making me look at her.
“Honey, your father is right. You have to stop this. I don’t know how but your parents made their peace with this situation a long time ago. They love you all and they love each other. You have to let this go.”
“But look at what she did to us. Look at what Christian became. How could she do that? How could she do that to me?” Dad’s head snaps up at this. “Yes, Dad. That woman that you are continuing to associate with managed to fuck all three of us. How does that make you feel? How do you think Mom will feel?”
The color drains from his face. Whereas previously he was red with anger now he has gone white as a sheet, grey even. As I watch him slump into his chair, head in his hands I suddenly feel like the worst kind of schmuck. Of all the things I could have chosen to tell him, that one is probably the lowest.
“I think this meeting is over. Mr Grey? I don’t have a vehicle with me so I can drive you home in your car, sir.” Dad doesn’t say a word. He looks lost and I can’t reach out to him as I watch Ethan usher him out the door. James looks at me with disgust.
“Uncool man. I’m going to find Stella. I’ll call you later.” Then he is gone leaving me and Kate and I can’t look at her.
“Sweetheart?” Her voice is quiet, pleading. “I can’t condone what you just did but it’s done. We will deal with the fallout together. Right now we need to get out of here.”
“I need to talk to Christian.” She takes my hand.
“Yes, you do. But not tonight.”
Back at the apartment there is no one around. Mia went back to Bellevue to have dinner with Mom, Ethan is out there now delivering my father home in God only knows what state. I am half expecting my mother to phone at any moment and ream me out about Elena. Before that happens Kate gets a phone call that changes everything.
“Linc. What can I do for you?”
A/N: Thanks for the great feedback this week. You have really made a difference as to what happens next. Thanks again and please, keep the reviews coming. Sasha xox