This fiction follows on from Inside Out, which was the sequel to Beautiful Cracked Painting. To prevent any confusion, the last chapter of Inside Out said that Madonna was starting her Rebel Heart tour in January of 2016, so the start of this fiction is set during the last few shows in July of 2016.
"We could stay here after the tour for a bit longer...have another honeymoon. After getting married again." Madonna smiled, skipping her fingers over Lars' bare chest in bed and he looked down at her, his handsome face clouded by a slight frown.
"No, we have to go back to New York City, M. I have to work too. Your job isn't the most important out of ours." Lars replied and Madonna sighed.
"That isn't to say we won't be going on a second honeymoon." Lars said and there was the slightest sign of hope in Madonna's disappointed face.
"Are you doing another show like Tears of a Clown?" Lars asked.
"Did you like it?"
"You didn't like it."
"Do you automatically want me to like everything you do?" Lars raised his eyebrows and Madonna shook her head.
"Of course not. I would rather you be honest. It was a one off show anyway."
"Clowns kind of freak me out." Lars said and Madonna looked surprised.
"I didn't know that about you."
"I think you made it slightly better. I've never seen a clown with such a great ass." Lars said, leaning over and smiling before he kissed Madonna and she laughed.
"There's only two more shows here, two in Brisbane and two in Sydney and then you can take my great ass home." Madonna said.
"Good, I'm tired of sharing you with everyone." Lars said, kissing Madonna hard.
"I like it when you get possesive." Madonna said, smirking, though truthfully he was sometimes a bit full-on. "Talking of sharing me, I have to go work out."
"It's your day off!"
"There is no such thing as a day off. You should know that by now, baby." Madonna kissed Lars. "We can go out later."
Lars clenched his jaw and his brilliant blue eyes were like chips of ice for a moment. "Ok." He said and watched her get out of bed and leave the room.
After her second show in Melbourne, Madonna was disappointed for a split second that Lars wasn't backstage, but he didn't go to all of her shows. He was an art dealer and could still work from anywhere, even though he preferred to work in NYC. Adrenaline and the infectious energy of her dancers kept Madonna smiling and in high spirits for a while. She got into her car and was driven back to her hotel. The first thing she did when she got in was checked on all of her sleeping children, looking at each of them fondly. Then she went to find Lars. He was sat at a desk on his laptop and didn't look up when Madonna walked into the room.
"Baby, I thought you were going to meet me after the show this evening."
"I do have things to do." Lars said calmly and Madonna chewed her lip.
"If there's something you want to say to me, just say it."
Lars got up from his chair and walked towards Madonna. "I want you to tone the last few shows down."
"I've done racier shows on tour than this one in the past."
"I don't like those dancers having their hands all over you."
"Lars, they are just my dancers. I love you. Why don't you trust me?"
"It isn't you I don't trust."
"Do you really think any of them would be stupid enough to try anything with me, with you here?"
"I don't know. You spend a lot of time together."
"Not for much longer." Madonna replied. "Look, can I have a shower first, then we can talk some more? I'm really sweaty and feel a bit gross."
Madonna peeled off her clothes and went to have a shower, thinking she would feel nice and refreshed before she continued to talk to Lars. But a few minutes later, he stripped off and got in the shower with her.
"What are you doing?"
"Showering with you." Lars said in a smart ass way and Madonna tried not to smile.
"You're impossible sometimes." Madonna turned her back on him and Lars wrapped his arms around her, kissing her shoulder.
"So are you M." He whispered. "Let me help you." Lars lathered up expensive soap, rubbing his hands along her arms, over her chest and stomach and down her legs - kneeling while he done so. Madonna tried not to wince as he ran his hands over bruises he'd given her.
Lars had been wonderful for so long, but since the tour had started, he'd started going back to his old ways of hurting Madonna. It was mainly down to jealousy of the male dancers. Behind closed doors, out of sight of the children, Lars had hit Madonna several times, pushed her into a wall and kicked her. It was easy during tour time to lie and say they were from accidents she kept having and no one really noticed or batted an eyelid. The fact that Lars was charming would make it hard for people to believe he could be violent anymore.
"Are you alright?" Lars asked, standing back up and holding Madonna.
"Yeah, I'm just tired."
"You need to eat first."
"I'm not sure I can." Madonna said, stepping out of the shower and drying herself with a towel.
"M. You can't come back after every show and not eat." Lars said firmly.
"I waited up for you."
"You didn't meet me."
"I'm sorry I am not as perfect as those guys you dance with." Lars said, throwing his hands up as he turned the shower off and grabbed a towel.
"Dancing is all I do with them." Madonna pointed out and Lars glared at her.
"It better be...otherwise..." Lars grabbed Madonna's throat and pushed her into the wall. All she could do was look at him and he let go, smoothing a cheek. "I know you wouldn't be that stupid."
"I love you." Madonna said, as she coughed, rubbing her throat and frowned at Lars. He smiled almost triumphantly and left her alone.
End of Part 1...
"I have to leave soon, Mom. I'm flying to Barcelona to meet Elodie." Astrid said, looking at her watch as she ate breakfast.
"I though you were coming to the party tonight." Madonna said, looking a little disappointed that her daughter wouldn't be at the end of tour party.
"Mom, I want too, but I haven't seen Elodie for a while and I miss her." Astrid said, referring to her girlfriend, who was currently in Spain, dancing in Beyonce's Formation Tour.
"I know, Trid. Go have fun. You both deserve it." Madonna smiled.
Elodie and Astrid had been together since school and now they'd left and both gone on to become dancers. Elodie had done the choreography for Beyonce's Lemonade film and her Fourmation Tour, which she was also a dancer in. She was into fitness and had plans to become a personal trainer also. Astrid done modelling as well as dancing. She had various other skills she incorporated into dancing - she'd done rhythmic gymnastics and been a majorette in school and trained on a pole and as an aerialist. They were a very talented and ambitious couple that fully supported each other and barely argued. Madonna and Lars were very proud of them both, treating Elodie like she was part of the family.
"Thanks mom. Have fun!" Astrid kissed Madonna's cheek and grabbed her bags.
"Call me when you arrive in Spain."
"Yeah." Astrid said and kissed Lars on the cheek as he entered the room. "Bye dad, off to Spain."
"Have fun." Lars said, smiling as he sat down.
"Do you want a coffee?"
"Please." He watched her pour one for him, then thanked her and looked up. "I was thinking I won't come to the party tonight."
"Oh. How come?" Madonna asked.
"I want you to have a good time with your dancers and the crew."
"And you think I wouldn't with you?"
Lars laughed. "No. You know I get jeaous of the dancers. Besides I can pick you up, if you call me later or get someone to call me."
"Are you sure? I could just not go and stay in with you."
"As tempting as that sounds, you can't not go to your own party, M." Lars smiled
"Ok. If you're sure." Madonna said, kissing him. "I will probably be very drunk. Sorry in advance." She said and he laughed again.
"That's fine. You work hard enough."
In the early hours of the following morning, Lars picked up a very very drunk Madonna. She lay across the backseat on her side, talking nonsense and Lars adjusted the rearview mirror to look at her and answered her now and then. He helped her up to the hotel room and she had an arm draped around him as he helped her to their room.
"I am soooooo in the mood right now..." Madonna said, slurring her words, after Lars had closed the door and she started unbuttoning his shirt.
"And soooooo drunk." Lars looked amused, as he quickly held on to Madonna, to stop her from falling over.
"Are you telling me you don't want this?" Madonna continued slurring her words, as she struggled to pull the dress up over her head and Lars laughed, helping her out of it. She was completely naked and he raised his eyebrows.
"That's very tempting. But I think you need to drink some water and sleep this off, we have a flight to catch at midday tomorrow." Lars replied. "Let me get you one of my shirts. Sit on the bed."
Madonna sat on the bed, swaying on the spot while Lars fetched a shirt. She pulled him down onto the bed and kissed him, climbing on top of him. Lars grabbed Madonna and pushed her face-down onto the bed and she smiled back over her shoulder at him for a second. He took her from behind in a very rough way, pinning her wrists down, ignoring her when she cried out in pain.
"Don't pretend you didn't want this." Lars whispered in her ear.
"You're hurting me!" Madonna replied, her eyes wide with fear as she looked back at him.
Lars grabbed a handful of her hair and forced her face down, not quite on the bed and at one point she bit the pillow to stop herself from crying right out and waking up the children.
After he left the bedroom and went to get a drink and she was curled up sobbing on her own.
On the plane home, Madonna sat next to Lars and watched him sleeping. He looked so peaceful and handsome, like an angel taking a nap with his blonde hair. It was a private plane, which was a good thing, because the children were pretty lively. Mercy was dancing around and David, Rocco and Gabriel were listening to music, playing air guitar and messing around.
Lars stirred and opened his eyes, smiling at Madonna. "Hey. I must have fell asleep." He said and she just looked at him. "What's wrong? You have been quiet all morning."
"What about it?"
Madonna looked around, to make sure none of the children were in earshot, then back at Lars. "You know what. I was vulnerable. How could you?"
"You were up for it last night. Don't make me out to be the bad guy. You can't wind a man up like that and not follow through." Lars said quietly.
"I was drunk!" Madonna whispered fiercely.
"Keep your voice down." Lars said in a warning tone.
Madonna got up and Lars looked up at her. "Where are you going?"
"To sit with the children."
"M, don't make a big deal out of this."
"I need some space. You hurt me." Madonna whispered.
Lars pulled her hand, jerking Madonna back down so she sat next to him. "I didn't mean too. You know you drive me crazy, M." He said, touching her cheek as he kissed her and Madonna started to feel the anger disappear.
"I think a honeymoon might make up for it." She replied, tilting her chin up defiantly.
"Yeah, I'll get on that when we get home." Lars replied, thinking he'd got round her.
End of Part 2...
Madonna bolted through the field on her horse, feeling like the weight of touring and Lars being difficult had been lifted and like she could breathe again. The wind whipped past her face and she smiled, totally refreshed and happy at the thought of seeing Lourdes later. She rode for a good few hours and when she arrived back at the stables and jumped down from her horse, Lourdes was stood leaning against the stall.
"I've never seen you ride that fast, mom. It looks like fun." Lourdes smiled and Madonna let go of the rein of her horse and went over to her daughter and gave her a big, tight hug.
"Oh, I missed you so much!" Madonna said.
"Me too, but I kinda need to breathe." Lourdes said, as Madonna held her arms and they both laughed.
"How about I take you to lunch? Are you free now?"
"Yes, I am."
"I need to change first."
"I wasn't planning on eating with you all sweaty and stuff." Lourdes teased and Madonna smiled.
Madonna's bodyguards accompanied them, one of them driving them back to Madonna's place. She went to have a shower and get changed, while Lourdes put some makeup on and done her hair, then they went back out. Madonna let Lourdes choose where they went and they ended up at a fashionable new restaurant that served Latin American street food.
"I love the campaign you're working on with Stella." Madonna said, when their food arrived and they started eating.
"You've seen it?" Lourdes sounded surprised.
"Yes, she sent me pictures and videos. I'm so proud of you, Lola." Madonna said, looking at her daughter like a proud mother. Lourdes blushed a little and smiled.
"Thanks. I enjoyed doing it." Lourdes replied. "You look really well mom. I take it things with Lars are still going really well?" She half asked and Madonna nodded straight away.
"Yes. He was really supportive during the tour." Madonna lied, trying to push the memories of him hurting her out of her head.
"That's good. I thought Trid might have joined us...?" Lourdes half asked.
"She left before the end of the tour to meet Elodie in Spain."
"Oh yeah, Beyonce's tour." Lourdes said, remembering.
"It's so nice to actually eat something decent in daylight hours." Madonna said, groaning with satisfaction as she ate and Lourdes laughed.
"I don't know how you do it mom, I would want to kill someone not eating much all day." Lourdes said, looking at Madonna with admiration.
Madonna laughed. "Years of practise, baby. Where are you staying now? You're back in the city to stay, aren't you?" She asked and Lourdes nodded.
"Yeah, I'm staying here. With friends at the moment. Looking for a project to work on. They're all artists of some kind, which is cool. We might collaborate on something soon." Lourdes replied, drinking some juice.
"You seem really happy Lola."
"I am. College was great for a while, but it just wasn't me."
"You remind me of myself at your age. Restless."
"Yeah, that was exactly how I felt. Like I just wanted to start living." Lourdes said, looking thoughtful.
Madonna looked at Lourdes and imagined telling her that Lars was hurting her again, as Lourdes continued to talk in an animated way, smiling and looking happy. But she didn't want to burden anyone with her problems. Madonna smiled and nodded and replied in all the right places, just happy to be in the company of her eldest child.
Lars arrived home really late from work and Madonna was fast asleep. He was very quiet when he stripped off and put on a pair of pyjama bottoms and carefully got into bed.
"Hey...you're late." Madonna said sleepily, as she turned to face Lars, opening her eyes.
"I didn't mean to wake you."
"I hadn't been asleep that long."
"M, I have something for you."
"Oh...?" Madonna sat up, wide awake now.
"Close your eyes and put your hands out." Lars said, switching on the bedroom light.
Madonna done what he said and Lars put something heavy in both her hands. "Open them." He said.
"Wow! Oh my god!" Madonna looked at a beautiful shiny black guitar. It had 'rebel heart' carved in swirly white writing with little hearts around it on the front, and a constellation of stars in white on the back of it, and little clusters of white stars and hearts going up the back of the neck.
"Do you recognise the constellation on the back?" Lars asked and Madonna shook her head.
"No. What is it?"
"It's the Leo constellation."
Madonna smoothed her fingers over the white carvings, taking time to admire the work that had gone into them.
"I am speechless." A smile spread across her face and she looked at Lars.
"One of the people who bought some art from me recently not only makes guitars, but customises them. I had this specially made for you, M because I know how much you love music and playing your guitars. I wanted you to have a really beautiful one to play." Lars said quietly.
"This is so beautiful, Lars." Madonna held the back of his neck and pulled him in for a kiss.
"I'm glad you like it."
"May I ask why though? My birthday was a while ago now."
"Because I haven't been supportive enough when you were on tour. I was a prick to be honest. I know I can't take that back, but this is my way of apologising." Lars said, kissing Madonna's cheek and holding her.
"Thank you. It's the best apology I've ever had." Madonna smiled, looking from the guitar to Lars.
End of Part 3...
Lars pinned Madonna's wrists down to the bed on either side of her head. She arched her back, moving her pelvis up towards him and groaned when he rode her even harder, grinding her down to the bed hard. A bead of sweat dripped down between her breasts and Lars licked it up to the base of her neck, which he kissed and it send a shiver right the way down her spine. He let go of her wrists and she brushed his jaw with her fingertips and kissed him so softly, it made Lars slow down his aggressive pace. When she kissed him like that, so full of tenderness, it made him ache for Madonna all the more. She let go of his jaw and Lars leaned fowards and kissed her neck softly and nibbled her ear. Madonna ran her hands up and down his back, then pressed them down on his shoulders. Lars buried his face into her neck, taking in her natural scent and Madonna scraped her nails across his shoulders. He groaned into her neck when he got to the point of no return and she cried out. Lars lay on top of Madonna for several long minutes after, while they both got their breath back. Madonna liked how heavy Lars felt on top of her, it made her feel safe and secure.
"I missed you when you were on tour." Lars said, lying alongside Madonna, smoothing hair away from her face.
Even though Lars had gone with Madonna, they hadn't really had any time to be intimate and they both usually had pretty high sex drives.
"I missed you too. I would rather have stayed in bed with you then done cardio some days." Madonna said and Lars laughed, his bright blue eyes glittering.
"I would have been tougher on you than your trainer." Lars said, kissing Madonna and she smiled, chewing her lower lip.
"Mmm. I know." Madonna said, sitting up and stretching.
Lars watched her, then ran his fingers up her spine, wrapping his arms around Madonna and massaging a breast as he kissed her neck. She looked over her shoulder at Lars and kissed him.
"I have to get ready for work. I want to use that beautiful guitar you bought me." Madonna said and Lars rubbed his nose against hers.
"I'm so glad you like it."
"Like it? I love it." Madonna said with gusto.
"Good." Lars kissed her temple. "I hope I get a private concert soon. Not costumes necessary." He whispered in her ear and Madonna laughed.
"I'll see what I can do." She got out of bed and headed for the shower, still smiling.
"I can film this for Elodie, if you guys want to watch Astrid properly." Lourdes said, waving her phone.
"Do you mind?" Lars asked and Lourdes shook her head.
"Of course not."
"Thank you baby." Madonna kissed her cheek.
Astird wanted to add more to her dancing game than rhythmic gymnastics, majorette skills, pole dancing and arealist skills, so she had been taking trapeze lessons for a while now. She had choreographed a piece with the girl who had been training her - Natalie and they would perform a flying trapeze routine mixed with Astrid doing her own thing also. Elodie has asked Astrid to get someone to film it and send it to her, because she couldn't be there in person to see the routine.
Lars and Madonna sat down and Lourdes got the camera up on her phone ready. The trapezes were pretty high up, but there was a net underneath, much to Madonna's relief.
Astrid walked across the room gracefully, with a perfect dancers poise and stood in front of them, smiling. She wore a flesh-coloured leotard with white swirls and swarovski swirls on it. Her blonde hair was up in a perfect bun and had a silver net over it. Another girl joined them, nowhere near as striking as Astrid, but with a similar lithe, powerful looking body, olive skin and black hair in a bun. She wore the same leotard as Astrid and had the same poise but wasn't quite as graceful when she walked.
"I'm glad you guys could make it. This is Natalie Russo, she has been teaching me the trapeze for quite a while now. We are going to do a routine I choreographed to Blue Jeans by Lana del Rey. I hope you enjoy it. And mom, don't freak out, there is a net there." Astrid pointed to the net and Madonna tried not to smile, but nodded.
Both girls went to opposite ends of the gymnasium and climbed ladders, then swung the trapezes as they chalked their hands and rubbed them along the trapezes. Astrid and Natalie looked at each other and nodded and the music started. They both grabbed their trapezes and the routine started.
"Oh god, I can't watch!" Madonna covered her eyes.
"This is sick!" Lourdes said, looking at her sister with admiration. "Mom, watch it!"
"Trid won't fall." Lars said with absolute certainty.
Madonna looked at him, amazed at his faith in Astrid, then looked at her daughter. Astrid and Natalie were making the routine looke effortless, flying through the air, letting go of the trapeze, reaching out to grab each other. At one point Natalie stood high up on her platform, whilst Astrid done her solo piece, which she found easier due to her areal skills.
"She makes everything look so effortless, M. Just like you when you're on stage." Lars said quietly.
"Gross. Get a room." Lourdes whispered and both Madonna and Lars laughed.
When the routine ended, both girls climbed down their ladders and went over to their audience, who were clapping.
"That was incredible, Trid. I'm so proud of you." Lars said, hugging his daughter.
"I'm glad you didn't fall." Madonna said and Astrid rolled her eyes.
"I did in practise. That net is a lot of fun to fall onto though. Like a trampoline. Hey - maybe I'll take up trampolining next!" Astrid said and Madonna put a hand on her chest.
"Are you trying to give me a heart attack, girl?!"
"No, I love dancing so much and I like all the extra skills I have. It keeps it fresh and interesting for me. Like you mom - when you say you like reworking your songs for your tours, I like mixing it up in my routines." Astrid pointed out and Madonna nodded.
"Fair enough. That was amazing." She finally smiled and Astrid looked relieved.
"Mom, I think you should put it on Instagram if I send it to you." Lourdes said and Astrid looked at her sister and smiled.
"Sure." Madonna said. She looked at Natalie. "Thank you for taking care of her."
"Astrid is a natural. One of the fastest learners I have ever worked with." Natalie said, smiling. "It's a pleasure working with her."
"Ok, ok, enough gushing - can we all go eat? I'm starving!" Astrid said.
"Do you want to join us Natalie?" Madonna asked.
"If that's alright."
"It is." Madonna said, looking down at her phone, to upload the video to Instagram.
"We're just gonna get showered and changed." Astrid said and she left with Natalie.
"You can relax now mom." Lourdes said. "She didn't fall."
"Wait until you're a mother and your children want to be daredevils. Then you will know how I feel." Madonna tried not to smile as she pointed a finger at Lourdes, who waved her hand dismissively.
End of Part 4...
Madonna watched Lars serve a lone female customer from the back. She'd slipped in through the back to surprise Lars, because he had been working so hard lately, and they didn't get to see a lot of each other during the week. Madonna frowned, feeling pangs of jealousy when she saw the woman openly flirt with her husband and Lars was smiling, clearly enjoying the attention.
"I think I shall be coming back here to purchase more of your pieces." The woman said in a plummy English accent, touching his forearm, which Madonna felt was a little much.
"Be sure to tell all your friends about my gallery." Lars replied, giving her a Hollywood-esque smile.
"Of course darling. Good evening." She said, turning to go.
"Good evening Mrs Dune." Lars said and waited until she had left, then flipped the sign to closed and turned around to face Madonna standing with her hands on her hips.
"Oh, darling I will be back to purchase more of these fabulous pieces of yours!" Madonna said in a mock plummy English accent, sticking her nose up in a haughty way and Lars laughed.
"That sounds like jealousy to me."
"Do I need to be jealous?" Madonna folded her arms.
"M, she had a face like a horse. Seriously?" Lars replied and Madonna laughed. "You're so sexy when you are jealous." He pulled her arms apart and slipped his arms around her waist, cinching her to him.
"It makes a change for it to be me being jealous." Madonna said, instantly regretting it when Lars let go of her and slapped her across the face. He did it with such force that she stumbled back a few steps.
"There was no need for that."
"I - I'm sorry. I didn't mean..." Madonna stammered, then trailed off. She rubbed her cheek, holding it with both hands.
"Let's not forget who it was out of us that cheated."
"That was in the past." Madonna said softly. "I wouldn't do that to you again."
"Why did you come here anyway?"
"Because I miss you. We both work so much in the week, we don't get to see much of each other." Madonna replied.
"You're right. I'm sorry M. I didn't mean to hit you. What you said was a bit below the belt."
"Sorry." Madonna said.
"Let's go and get a drink." Lars said. "A nice hot chocolate somewhere?" He suggested and Madonna nodded.
The following evening Lars and Madonna both finished work early and had dinner with the children. It was unusual for them to both be present at dinner, so David, Mercy, Gabriel, Rocco and Astrid were all talking over each other and multiple conversations were going on. Lourdes was also there, looking amused at the chaos. At one point when Astrid stopped talking, she noticed the faint mark on Madonna's cheek and looked at Lars, who was laughing at something Gabriel was saying. She also noticed when Madonna joined the conversation that Lars pretty much shot her down.
"Hey, Lola, do you want to see some new dances I've put on my laptop?" Astrid asked, when they'd finished eating.#
"Sure." Lourdes said, following Astrid up to her room.
Astrid closed the door and sat next to Lourdes on her bed. Lourdes frowned.
"Are you ok Trid? You look kind of spooked."
"I think dad hit mom."
"Why would you think that?"
"I spotted a mark on her cheek at dinner."
"Have they been arguing?"
"Not that I've noticed."
"Maybe mom genuinely had an accident." Lourdes suggested. "After all the talking us around she and Lars did when they got back together, do you think mom would stay with him if he hurt her?"
Astrid shrugged. "Mom stayed with dad for years before."
"After the tour I expect mom is still exhausted, even though she wouldn't admit it. It could be a genuine accident."
"Mom had a lot of injuries during the tour - bruises and scrapes and stuff." Astrid said, looking worried.
"That's pretty standard, Trid, you know that."
"What about the way he shot her down at dinner?"
"Lars is just like that." Lourdes shrugged and Astrid sighed. "Look, if you are worried I can drop by more regularly - come to dinner and stuff and keep an eye on them."
"Yes. That would ge great." Astrid looked a little more relieved.
"Did you really have some new dances to show me?" Lourdes asked. She was proud of her sister and loved watching her dances.
"Actually I do." Astrid said, smiling a little and Lourdes sat closer to her and they both watched the new videos on Astri's YouTube channel.
End of Part 5...
Madonna and Lars were getting ready to go to a film premiere that evening. They hadn't been to any public events for quite some time before her Rebel Heart tour. Usually they went out for meals, or to the theatre or art showings from friends of Lars - very low-key events.
"You look so handsome." Madonna said, smiling as she stood up and straightened up the white bow tie on his tuxedo suit, then kissed him.
"Thank you." Lars smiled back at her. "This dress is..." He looked down at Madonna.
She wore a long, black, strapless bustier dress. It was very elegant and her hair was pinned up, a few tendrils hanging loose to soften the look. Her makeup was subtle, save for red lipstick and she wore small dangly silver earrings and a few delicate silver bracelets on the same wrist as her Kabbalah bracelet. Madonna wore black satin heels that gave her a little height, but she was still smaller than Lars.
"Is it ok?" Madonna asked, when Lars didn't finish his sentence and smoothed her dress, looking down at it.
"Incredible, M." Lars said, gasping as he held her waist.
"I wasn't sure about it." Madonna said, looking up at Lars. In truth, she had been worried he wouldn't like it. He seemed to be very outspoken about what she wore when they went out lately, and Madonna had even had to change a few times.
"It's perfect and shows your figure off." Lars replied. "I have just the thing to make it pop even more."
Madonna frowned. "Lars, you don't have to keep buying me things." Just please stop hitting me and kicking me and hurting me in general, she thought.
"I love buying you things, M. You deserve nice things." Lars replied. "Sit down." Madonna sat on the stool in front of her dresser. "Close your eyes." He said and Madonna did, then felt something cold and almost heavy being placed around her neck. "Open them." Lars said quietly and when she did open her eyes, Madonna looked shocked. Lars had had a replica made of the huge diamond bib necklace Nicole Kidman had worn in the film Moulin Rouge. Madonna's hand shook as she touched it, then looked up at Lars.
"Say something." Lars said.
"Oh, Lars, it is so very beautiful! It must have been so expensive though." Madonna looked at her reflection, taking her fingers away from it.
"Nothing is too expensive for you, M."
Madonna stood up and turned to face Lars. "It's breath-taking. Thank you my darling." She held his cheeks and kissed him.
"You are most welcome M." He smiled handsomely, looking at his watch. "Are you ready?"
They went downstairs and Astrid looked up from her laptop, her eyes nearly popping out of her head.
"Whoa mom! That necklace is stunning!"
"I want one, it's sparkly!" Mercy said, smiling.
Madonna laughed. "It would be too heavy for you, sweetie. Maybe I will have a much smaller one made for you." She kissed the top of Mercy's head. "Thanks Trid."
"You definitely have great taste, dad. Maybe I could point you in the direction of some jewellery for my birthday?" Astrid half asked, half joked and Lars nodded, smiling.
"Sure. I like spoiling my women."
"We need to get going." Madonna said, after she'd kissed Astrid as well.
"Don't stay up too late." Madonna said and Mercy nodded and Astrid rolled her eyes.
On the red carpet Madonna and Lars looked like the perfect sort of couple everyone would be jealous of. They held hands walking down the carpet and Lars had an arm loosely around Madonna's waist when they stopped to pose for pictures. Both of them smiled and they spent quite some time posing when the paparazzi spotted Madonna's necklace. It secretly made her feel uncomfortable and the necklace felt cold and heavy on her chest. It was ostentatious and she wished he hadn't had it made for her. By the time they were inside and seated, Madonna breathed a sigh of relief.
"Are you ok?" Lars whispered, leaning in to her and Madonna nodded.
"Yes. It just gets a bit boring, standing around having my picture taken for so long."
"I expect the necklace was the reason for that this evening." Lars said.
"It is so beautiful. I love it." Madonna lied with convincing passion, wondering how much of a beating she would take for a present so large.
"Good. It's just as exquisite as you." Lars said and it made Madonna cringe inwardly, and feel like she was his trophy.
"Baby, stop." She said softly, pretending to be coy as Lars took her hand and kissed it. "Everyone that comes into the studio has been admiring my guitar." Madonna said and Lars smiled. "It's like having a part of you at work." She kissed him and he looked pleased.
Madonna was relieved when the film started and a hush descended over the audience. She really had to think about how she spoke to Lars, because if she said anything he viewed as being wrong, it would result in his temper flaring up and her being physically hurt.
She pushed everything from her mind and watched the film, which was long at two and a half hours. Lars put his hand on her knee, over her dress and squeezed it. A smile formed on Madonna's face, but she didn't look at him.
"Let's go straight home. You look so hot. I don't want to share you with anyone else." Lars whispered in her ear and Madonna nodded.
It was dark when they arrived home and they went into the kitchen from the garage door. Lars grabbed Madonna, hitching her dress up, a hand between her legs. Even though it was sudden and unexpected, she was ready for him and placed both hands on the kitchen table as he undone her belt and trousers with his other hand. Madonna gasped loudly, then groaned when he replaced his fingers with his dick inside her and thrust hard, his hands squeezing her bum, pulling her cheeks apart so it hurt. Shivers of pleasure ran down Madonna's back and her skin felt clammy with perspiration. Her breasts were almost spilling out of the top of her dress and she pushed her bum back towards Lars when he let go of it and gave it a slap so hard that it stung.
"Baby..." Madonna moaned, half looking over her shoulder at Lars to let him know he was hurting her, but he just thought she was enjoying it.
Lars reached up and pulled her breasts free from her dress, kissing the diamond necklace on her neck. Madonna reached up and hooked one arm around the back of his neck, closing her eyes and delighting in the pain he was inflicting on her. She couldn't help it, it just felt so good, the rush of endorphins. Her nipples were so hard and he pulled them and she whimpered. Lars licked one of her ears and thrust so hard that Madonna's hands slipped along the table and she had to grab the edges and hold on to them until her knuckles were white. Lars ripped the dress clean off Madonna, hurting her in the process, so she wore just the necklace and her heels.
He gave one last thrust that was so hard it felt like she was going to be ripped in two. He pinned her wrists to the table so hard, they felt hot like they were being burned. Madonna cried out and clenched Lars inside her and she felt his grip loosen on her wrists and he eventually let go of her.
"I liked that dress." Madonna picked up the pieces of her dress and shoved it in the bin.
"I'll get you a new one." Lars said, pulling his trousers up and doing up his belt.
"Lars, you don't have too." Madonna replied, smiling.
"Damn. All you need is a smile, that necklace and those heels." Lars held Madonna's waist, looking down at her breasts as he pressed his forehead to hers. He scooped her up in his arms and carried her up to bed.
After they'd got ready for bed, Lars was the first to fall asleep. Madonna watched him sleeping and frowned slightly. She'd had a really good evening, sex included althought it was as painful and pleasureable. The necklace as beautiful as it was had been far too much. When it was heavy it made her feel like she belonged to him and it made her feel more than uneasy.
End of Part 6...
After Lars had gone to work and the nannies took the children to school, Madonna sat in her room at her dressing table, carefully running her fingertips over the extravagent necklace she wore the previous night. It was on a bust jewellery stand, spread out in all its glory. The necklace was beautiful, but Madonna remembered how cold and heavy it felt to wear. She had felt even more like a trophy that belonged to Lars, and the attention it had attracted had made her cringe inside.
"Holy crap! That necklace mom!" Lourdes stood in the doorway.
"I didn't realise you were here." Madonna said, jumping, but quickly smiling.
"I was just in my way out." Lourdes said, turning to show her backback slung over one shoulder. She walked into the room and sat on the bed. "Mom? Are you ok? Is everything going well with...Lars?"
"Why wouldn't it be?" Madonna said a little sharply, frowning at Lourdes.
"The necklace is a little...much. Don't you think?" Lourdes said, motioning to it. "Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful, but I bet it made you feel uncomfortable wearing it. And it's all people are talking about online - more than the film premiere or even who else was on the red carpet."
"Really?" Madonna looked horrified. "Show me!"
"Mom, I don't think you want to see what people are saying, you know how some of them hate as a sport - " Lourdes started, but Madonna grabbed her phone from her hands and scrolled through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
"Wow." Madonna's eyes widened. "I wasn't trying to be the center of attention or take anything away from the film. I wore it because Lars was generous enough to have it made for me."
"I know. Do you know how much it's worth?" Lourdes asked, taking her phone back and shoving it in her bag and Madonna shook her head. "Three million dollars."
All the colour drained from Madonna's face and she ran a hand through her hair, sighing. "I could hardly not wear it."
"Why? What would happen if you didn't wear it?" Lourdes asked suspiciously.
"Nothing. It would have been rude, Lola, to not wear something so beautiful that Lars had made for me." Madonna said calmly. "Everything is perfectly fine with Lars and I."
"Astrid said she saw a mark on your cheek at dinner a few nights ago. She's worried about you mom." Lourdes replied and Madonna worked so hard to not move a single muscle in her face.
"I'm still exhausted from the tour, I keep having stupid little accidents." Madonna said calmly. "Do you think the same?"
"No, I just said what you said - that you are probably still tired from the tour."
"Maybe I should talk to Trid." Madonna said, chewing her lower lip.
"No, don't. She'll know I told you."
"I have to go, I'm meeting some friends. See you soon mom." Lourdes kissed her cheek.
"I love you baby." Madonna said, kissing Lourdes' cheek.
"Love you mom!" Lourdes' voice trailed after her, when she was halfway to the stairs.
Madonna sighed, hoping that Lourdes had put Astrid's mind at rest. She couldn't have any of the children finding out Lars was hurting her again, especially not after all the talking round she'd had to do.
Lars swam lengths in their pool late that evening and Madonna walked in and sat on the side, watching him. His body looked so graceful yet powerful and he seemed to glide through the water like he was part fish.
"Why don't you come in? The water is warm." Lars said, leaning his arms on the side when he spotted Madonna, but she shook her head.
"I'm not a strong swimmer like you."
"So? It's not a competition." Lars smiled.
"I prefer watching you." Madonna put a towel on the side and rolled her trousers up, dipping her feet in.
"Is everything ok? You seem a bit...down."
"Post-tour blues." Madonna said, a small smile forming. "It'll pass."
"If you swam some lengths it might make you feel better..." Lars said in a sing-song voice, as he done the back stroke, swimming away smiling at Madonna.
"A holiday?" Lars swam back towards her.
Madonna shook her head. "Nuh-uh." She pulled her hair back into a messy ponytail. "We both need to get back into work."
"Because touring is a break for you...?" Lars joked and Madonna tried not to laugh.
"You know what I mean."
"I'm not sure I do, but if you come here you can tell me..." Before Madonna could answer, Lars grabbed her wrists and pulled her fully-clothed into the pool. She struggled when she first went under water, until he pulled her up.
"What the hell are you doing?! I said I didn't want to come in!" Madonna spluttered. "Why don't you ever listen to me?" She yelled as Lars let go of her wrists and she splashed him, swimming off in the direction of the steps.
"Don't talk to me like that! I was just trying to put a smile on your face!" Lars said, going after Madonna, putting an arm around her waist as she turned to face him.
"By trying to drown me?"
"Stop being such a drama queen. I pulled you into a pool. I didn't hold you under." Lars said, holding her waist.
"It was a shock. You wouldn't like it if I pulled you in here fully clothed." Madonna said and Lars nodded.
"I guess not." Lars kissed Madonna and she found it hard not to smile. "I just wanted to see that smile..." He said and continued to kiss her neck.
"You can't get around me that easily..." Madonna said, but moaned softly.
"Did you really like the necklace?" Lars asked, looking at her like a hopeful child.
"Yes, of course I did. It's stunning. Why do you ask?"
"No reason." Lars lied and Madonna wondered whether he'd seen the scathing comments on social media.
Madonna held both his cheeks in her hands. "It's the best present anyone has ever given me." She said, secretly surprised at how convincing she sounded. Lars smiled, looking very handsome. "But you don't have to get anything for me for a while. It must have cost a lot." She said and his face fell. Before Lars could react, Madonna swam over to the steps and got out of the pool. Lars wasn't far behind her and he grabbed Madonna and slammed her into the wall, pinning her wrists out at the sides.
"What does it matter how much it cost? You ungrateful little bitch!"
"Lars - please - you're hurting me!" Madonna squirmed, starting to feel cold now she was out of the water.
"I am grateful! I was just saying that it must have been expensive, so you don't have to get anything for a while." Madonna replied and Lars let go of her wrists. She rubbed them, looking at him.
"Most wives would love to have a husband who gets them gifts."
"I do, it's just you don't have to buy me things to show me how much you love me." Madonna said.
"I like getting you presents though. I can't believe we are arguing over this."
"Lars, I didn't want an argument. I was just saying."
"I'm going to bed." Lars grabbed a towel and wiped his face.
"Lars!" Madonna went to follow him and he grabbed her jaw, looking directly into her eyes and squeezed it. When he let go, he stormed off and left her rubbing her jaw.
End of Part 7...
"M? Are you ok in there? Do you want me to get you anything?" Carlos knocked on the bathroom door.
Madonna had locked herself in there and was doing a pregnancy test, waiting to see if she was pregnant. She paced up and down in front of the marble counter and stopped to look in the mirror. She lifted up her vest top and smoothed a hand in a circular motion on her stomach. Madonna frowned, thinking she definitely looked softer.
"Go back to bed Carlos, I'm fine!" Madonna called out, her voice faltering a little.
On the other side of the door, Carlos rolled his eyes, sighing and got back into bed. Madonna looked at the door listening to him move, then looked back at the test. She was pregnant. Madonna didn't know whether to laugh or cry, feel happy or down. She was dealing with a lot of things emotionally at the moment, was due in court in a couple of weeks and wasn't sure she could cope with pregnancy hormones on top of all of that.
Quickly Madonna snapped out of the daze she was in and wiped tears from her eyes. She grabbed a wad of tissued and placed the test between them, then put them in the bin, putting existing rubbish on top. Madonna ran the cold water and splashed some on her face. After composing herself, she unlocked the door and walked back into the room, acting as casual as possible, even though her heart felt like it was hammering inside. Madonna climbed into bed and Carlos looked at her.
"Is everything ok M? You're acting a bit..."
"Yeah. I couldn't sleep. I was just seeing if there was anything I could take." Madonna replied.
"Ok." Carlos wrapped his arms around Madonna, pulling her in closer to him. He knew she was lying, because not long ago she'd wanted to throw the contents of the medicine cabinet in the bin, so there was no way all of a sudden that she wanted to take anything.
The following morning the nanny took Lourdes to school, because Carlos had an early training session at the gym and Madonna was also going to work. Carlos had just finished breakfast and went up to the bedroom, when he stood in the doorway and watched Madonna struggle with a pair of trousers, groaning when they wouldn't do up.
"Goddamnit!" Madonna looked annoyed, pulling them down and throwing them on the floor. She opened her closet and sifted through her clothes.
"Everything ok M?" Carlos walked into the room and Madonna turned around, frowning slightly.
"You made me jump."
Carlos picked Madonna's trousers up off the floor and handed them to her. Madonna took them, looking at him.
"I think they must have shrank in the wash."
"M I think you have a big enough wardrobe that one pair of trousers being too small isn't a problem." Carlos said softly, smiling and Madonna laughed.
"I guess you're right. I think I'll wear a dress instead." Madonna was careful to turn her back to Carlos and take her top off, then quickly pull on a black dress with white polka dots.
"You look great." Carlos said and Madonna managed a small smile. He was a little disappointed she didn't tell him she was pregnant and left for work.
Madonna had even lied about going to work, she had an appointment with her doctor, to confirm she was pregnant. When she got hom she changed into an old pair of joggers and a vest, along with a chunky cardigan and thick pair of socks, because she was cold. Madonna had literally just pulled her long hair back into a messy ponytail, when she had to rush to the toilet to be sick. She spent a portion of the morning there, then went down to the lounge with her laptop and a glass of water and decided to catch up on her emails, which always mounted up no matter how often she kept on top of them.
"Hey." Carlos walked into the room with a brown paper bag.
"I thought you were at work." Madonna said.
"And I thought you were at work." Carlos sat next to her on the sofa.
"I went to the doctors."
"So are you pregnant?"
"Did you find the test?"
"No. I figured it out."
"This morning when you were having an argument with a pair of trousers."
"You did see that." Madonna blushed a little.
"When were you going to tell me?"
"Today when you got home from work."
"Aren't you happy M?" Carlos looked worried.
"I don't know what I feel. You know I love being a mother and Lola is the best thing that ever happened to us. I'm just beginning to deal with what happened to me. And I still have court. Extra hormones and me being more emotional is something I don't need right now. The timing sucks." Madonna sighed.
Carlos sat back on the sofa, draping an arm around Madonna's shoulders. "You aren't going through any of this alone, M. And you are the bravest, strongest woman I know. If anyone can get through this, it's you." He said, his face inches from hers.
"I'm tired of being brave and strong. It's exhausting." Madonna replied.
"M, you're just having a bad day."
"And I look like crap."
"No you don't. Just a little pale and tired." Carlos replied and Madonna was trying her hardest not to smile.
"What's in the bag?" She said, nodding towards the brown paper bag.
"Spicy ginger stem cookies - the kind you liked when you had morning sickness with Lola. I also got some coconut water, ginger tea and a big bottle of Mountain Dew, because I remembered you - "
Madonna silenced Carlos with a very long kiss. "You are so good to me. I can't believe you remembered all that. Most guys wouldn't." She said, pressing her forehead to his, looking into his eyes.
"I love you M. I just want you to feel good again." Carlos reached through her cardigan and placed a hand on the small swell of her stomach.
End of Part 17...
Madonna and Carlos agreed not to tell Lourdes she was pregnant until after court, because she might get excited and tell friends and teachers, which would result in it leaking out to the media one way or another. When she went out, Madonna was careful in what she wore, and when she didn't wear black she wore patterns that hid her soft stomach well. Luckily she wasn't that big, but she didn't go out too much and told no one else, not even her friends that she was pregnant yet. The only other person that Madonna told was Sachie, who smiled and said she'd guessed as much.
On the day she was due in court Madonna wore a smart black dress with a grey blazer that had black pinstripes and black heels. Her long wavy hair was down, but done in a softer style, not left to go wild like she usually wore it. Madonna wore a gold cross on a thin chain, small gold hoops and a few delicate gold bracelets on the same wrist as her Kabbalah bracelet. Her makeup was minimal and Madonna stared at her reflection in the mirror for a while, giving herself a pep talk in her head. She cupped her stomach in both hands, looking down at it.
"Be careful not to do that in court. It gives it away." Carlos said, standing behind Madonna, a hand on her shoulder.
"I can't help it." Madonna half smiled. "I'm so nervous." She closed her eyes.
"Remember what Sachie said, M. If you can tell us and the police, who were recording you - you'll be fine. And everyone in that court room will be on your side. You're the victim in all this, ok?" Carlos said. Madonna opened her eyes, looking up at him and nodded. "And when all of this is over, I'll be right by your side to help you deal with it. And we can tell Lola you're pregnant - think of how happy she will be. That's something to look forward too."
"You're right. I think she will make a great big sister." Madonna replied and Carlos smiled.
"She's certainly bossy enough." He joked and Madonna laughed.
"Are you ready?"
Sachie arrived wearing a sharp navy suit and looking like she was getting ready for war.
"I'm sorry I couldn't get the paparazzi to stay away from the courthouse." Sachie said, sighing as they arrived.
"But, there isn't a photographer in sight..." Carlos said, looking confused.
"It might have leaked that we would be arriving at the back entrance." Sachie smiled slyly.
"You're a genius, Sachie. Do you want to come and work for me in PR or be an assistant?" Madonna smiled.
"Tempting as that is, I love what I do. I spent many long hours and years studying hard to be a lawyer. But it's nice to know I have options if I ever do fancy a career change." Sachie replied.
"The door is always open."
"Let's get in there fast, before they realise they've been duped." Carlos said.
The three of them hurried up the steps, flanked by two bodyguards and were inside, before any of the paparazzi thought to go round to the front and see if they'd spot Madonna.
It was a very long day in court, and felt like the longest day of Madonna's life. When she took to the stand and made her statement, she remembered not to cup her stomach in her hands and find a spot to fixate on while she spoke. Not once did Madonna hesitate when she gave her statement, but her hands shook and tears ran down her face. She did make the mistake of looking at dark hair and blonde hair, whose names were Damien and Paul respectively and felt a cold shiver go down her spine. Judge Cartwright, the female presiding over the case was a very stern-faced woman, but this expression softened when she looked at Madonna, ans a few times she even told Madonna she could have a minute or two to compose herself if she needed it. Some of the women in the jury were dabbing at their eyes, finding it horrific what Madonna was saying, and the men on the jury were looking at Damien and Paul with total and utter disgust. There were witness statements from the bar where the party was held, and the hotel. Also CSI Oates and Dr Thompson were also called to the stand to give statements and answer questions.
The jury were gone for a while and Madonna felt very uneasy sitting next to Sachie. Carlos felt on edge for her to and wished he could go and sit with her and put his arm around her. When they returned, the jury said they found Damien and Paul guilty on all counts. Which was kidnap, rape, poisoning, theft, blackmail (the videos that they'd sent to Madonna. Those had been watched by the jury in a private room, as the Judge deemed them to delicate a piece of evidence to show the entire courtroom). Neither of the men would ever be coming out of prison. Madonna watched them both being taken down and felt such an overwhelming sense of relief, she cried even though she was smiling. Sachie looked very pleased as well, as she stood up. Madonna got up and hugged her lawyer, much to her surprise. Carlos went down to Madonna, smiling and he held her, kissing her cheek.
"It's over." He whispered in her ear. They both knew it wasn't completely, and that she still had issues - particularly trust ones to work on, but for the moment it felt good to celebrate something positive.
"I was so scared up there, I felt like I was going to pee my pants." Madonna whispered.
"M, you were amazing up there. I thought you might have needed a break once or twice, when the judge suggested it, but you powered through." Carlos kissed Madonna's temple, holding her. "Thank you thank you, thank you!" He said, looking at Sachie.
"A pleasure as always. Spoil your wife, she deserves it." Sachie said, smiling from Carlos to Madonna as she gathered her papers up and put them in her briefcase. "Wait for me in the foyer, I can get us out of here without being photographed again." She said and they both nodded.
"I hope she isn't going to be too long."
"Do you feel sick?"
Carlos produced a bottle of coconut water and a packet of ginger stem cookies from his bag and Madonna smiled.
"You're a lifesaver. Let's find somewhere to sit." She said and they ended up sitting outside the courtroom. After eating a couple of cookies and drinking some of the water, Madonna didn't feel as bad.
"Which entrance are we leaving by?" Carlos saked Sachie, as she joined them again.
"I'm ahead of you Carlos. The paparazzi are all camped out the front. So the back."
"This is almost too easy. How can they be so stupid?" Madonna asked.
"Let's go quickly, just in case." Carlos said and their two bodyguards met them and they did leave via the back entrance and drove home.
"I can't believe I've managed to go in court and come out without being photographed once." Madonna said.
Sachie smirked. "That's the first time I've ever called the bluff on them. I will have to remember for next time."
"Do you need to come back with us?"
"No. I will be in touch soon. Would it be possible for you to drop me off please?"
End of Part 18...
"Shall we tell Lola this evening? I was thinking of getting something nice for dinner and we could celebrate?" Carlos suggested.
"Mmm-hmm." Madonna said, staring into space.
"Are you ok? Don't take this the wrong way, but you look terrible." Carlos looked concerned and stopped putting things in his backpack for work and looked at Madonna.
She frowned, looking up at him. "How many ways are there to take 'you look terrible'? I had a weird dream about the guys who attacked me, then woke up and puked for like a half hour, so I'm sorry I look like this..." Madonna said, motioning to herself. Her messy hair was half up in a ponytail, she looked pale with dark under her eyes and she looked dishevelled in general.
"M, you know I didn't mean it like that." Carlos sighed.
"I don't magically feel great because I've been to court, Carlos. I did tell you that." Madonna said, getting up from the table and slamming her dirty dish in the washing up bowl.
"Hey, hey. M." Carlos stood behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders. "Talk to me."
Madonna turned around and faced Carlos, nearly in tears. "I'm not going to have any time to get over this, and now my body is changing and I can't cope with it. I'm not even going to get to feel good again, because I'm going to be fat!" Madonna wailed.
"M, you weren't that big with Lola. You still worked out and ate relatively healthy."
"God, Carlos, can you just fight with me when I'm trying to pick a fight?" Madonna rolled her eyes, sighing dramatically and Carlos laughed.
"I'm not biting."
"You're no fun." Madonna smirked.
"I can take some time off work and we can take Lola and go away for a while."
"As appealing as that sounds, I don't want too right now. I'm exhausted a lot lately, from all the sleep I've missed out on while the case was open. And I liked being only a drive away from Dr Goldstein at the moment. I know that makes me sound like a pussy, but I need her right now."
"It doesn't make you sound like a pussy at all. I understand, M. Why don't you go and catch up on some of that sleep now?" Carlos suggested, kissing her temple and Madonna nodded. "Are we still ok to tell Lola later?"
Madonna smiled. "Yes. I'm looking forward to telling her. And I will make more of an effort." She motioned to herself.
"If you feel really sick or need anything, call me M." Carlos said.
"Ok. Have a nice day." Madonna kissed Carlos and watched him go, then went back to bed.
Madonna looked better that evening, and more awake. She wore an apple green slip-style top, deep purple loose trousers and a thin beige cardigan. Her hair was in one long plait resting over one shoulder and she'd even put a little makeup on.
"Daddy said I can have cake and ice cream after dinner!" Lourdes said, while they were eating and Madonna laughed as Carlos smiled.
"I got that chocolate cake you like from Serendipity 3 and we can have it with ice cream or cream, after this." Carlos said.
"You remembered! Man, I'm going to have to work out so hard!" Madonna joked.
"Daddy said you both have something to tell me." Lourdes said and Madonna nodded. She placed her hand over Carlos' on the table.
"I'm pregnant, Lola. You are going to have a little brother or sister." They both looked at Lourdes expectantly.
Lourdes smiled and clapped her hands together. "Yay! Can I help name the baby?"
"Of course you can sweetheart." Madonna felt so happy her little girl was excited, like her heart might explode.
"If it's a baby girl you can't call her Blossom."
"Why not Lola?" Carlos asked.
"Because when I get a pony for my birthday I'm calling her Blossom."
"What if you get a boy pony?" Carlos asked and Madonna kicked him under the table, raising her eyebrows at him, as if to say 'don't encourage her.'
"I can call him Jasper." Lourdes said, looking serious while Madonna and Carlos tried not to laugh.
"Stop teasing her." Madonna whispered.
"Mommy, when am I getting a brother or sister? Can I have both?" Lourdes asked excitedly and Carlos laughed.
"In five months. And it will be a brother or a sister, Lola, not both." Madonna said, looking amused.
"Can we choose?"
"No, sorry sweetie."
Lourdes frowned. "Why does it take so long for a baby to come? It's only little."
"It takes a while to form inside me. I'll tell you in more detail when you're older." Madonna said and Lourdes nodded.
"Can I share a room with the baby?"
"For the first few months, or even maybe a year the baby will sleep with daddy and I, because he or she will be crying a lot. After we can put another bed in your room if you like."
"Yeah!" Lourdes smiled.
Carlos cleared away the plates and brought out plates with chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. Within minutes Lourdes had chocolate and ice cream all around her mouth and both Carlos and Madonna laughed.
"You're supposed to eat it, Lola, not wear it."
Madonna waited until after they'd finished eating and wiped Lourdes' mouth with a cloth, then the little girl ran off to play.
"Mmm...you look so good." Carlos said, his hands on Madonna's waist in the kitchen.
"I'm not going to soon, if you keep feeding me so well..." Madonna joked.
"I can help you work out." Carlos said, kissing her neck and she smiled.
"Lola is just through there." Madonna said.
"We could put her to bed early and continue celebrating..." Carlos suggested, kissing her neck again.
Madonna held his cheeks, smiling. "Ok, but not this early. Let her food go down."
End of Part 19...
"Congratulations - on the baby and the verdict in court!" Dr Goldstein smiled when Madonna first sat in front of her.
Madonna smiled weakly. "Thank you."
"You look exhausted. I imagine you are feeling pretty overwhelmed right now." Dr Goldstein said and Madonna nodded and started to cry. Dr Goldstein handed her a box of tissues, then sat next to Madonna on the sofa, something she'd never done before.
"I should be happy, right? Those...animals went down and I'm going to have another child. I love being a mom." Madonna said, a hand on her stomach.
"I'm sensing a huge 'but' coming on." Dr Goldstein said.
"I am having a hard time letting go." Madonna said, chewing her lower lip.
"In what way?"
"Lately I've been having weird dreams. Last night I woke up in a cold sweat after dreaming I was stuck in a room with both of them. They were abusing me and I was trying to claw my way out - there were no doors or windows, just walls. Claustrophobic does not even begin to cover it." Madonna took a deep breath.
"Are the other dreams similar?" Dr Goldstein asked, scrbbling away in her notepad, then looking up at Madonna.
"Yeah. I'm nearly always trapped somewhere I can't escape from with them. I do have an idea - something that might stop the dreams."
"I was thinking of going back to the hotel room where it happened." Madonna said tentatively and Dr Goldstein looked surprised.
"Is that the best idea, considering you're pregnant? It could be stressful."
"Having the dreams is stressful."
"Maybe if Carlos went with you it wouldn't be as stressful."
"I was thinking of going alone." Madonna said, looking directly at Dr Goldstein. "They're my issues and even though Carlos has been amazing, truly, I feel like this is something I need to deal with alone."
"Madonna, you know usually I wouldn't try to talk you out of an idea I think would help, but I think you need some support. If not Carlos, maybe a friend of two? They don't even have to be in the room with you, they could wait outside while you go in." Dr Goldstein suggested.
Madonna shrugged. "I guess."
"You can't afford to be having to much stress right now, Madonna." Dr Goldsteing said firmly.
"I'll think about who I take." Madonna said, fiddling with a strand of her hair.
"Maybe if you have a distraction like work, it might help?"
"Make the dreams go away?"
"Yes. I'm not saying overdo it, and you won't be able to work for too long, because you are pregnant."
"Carlos won't be happy if I do either." Madonna sighed.
"Sometimes Madonna, you need to be a little selfish and do what is right for you. Especially in circumstances like this." Dr Goldstein said and Madonna nodded.
"I don't want you to go to that hotel room or work. Why can't you just take it easy for a while?" Carlos said, frowning.
He had met Madonna at a restaurant for lunch after her therapy session.
"Can you please lower your voice? If this is going to be an argument, I'd rather wait until we aren't in public." Madonna said, blushing a little.
"Sorry. I just don't think you need any stress whatsoever in your life right now M." Carlos said, lowering his voice.
"I agree. But I am having all these horrible dreams, most nights about being trapped with those guys. I need something to take my mind off it."
"Then let's go away."
Madonna shook her head. "I would still have too much time to think."
"Can I come with you to the hotel, if you must go?"
"I haven't thought about whether I would have you come with me, or Rosie and Debi..." Madonna sighed, dabbing at the corners of her mouth with her napkin, drinking some of her virgin cocktail.
"I am not jsut worried about the stress. It might cause you a major panic attack, M. Or something worse."
Madonna leaned forward and spoke quietly. "If I weren't pregnant you would be fine with me going."
"No. I would still want to come with you, M. I am not just worried about the baby, I am worried about you too." Carlos replied.
"It sounds like it's stressing you out." Madonna sat back, a slight frown on her face.
"I love you, M. I want this to be over for you."
"Then don't fight me. Support me."
"Do you not think I've supported you through this entire ordeal?"
"I never said that."
"I don't think you should go back to work just yet, M. Wait until after the baby. Hopefully by then you will have let it all go."
"I agree." Madonna said and Carlos looked surprised. "But if I choose to go to the hotel with friends instead, I don't want you to be offended. It would not in any way be personal. Whoever goes with me would be waiting outside anyway."
Carlos opened his mouth as if to say something, then rubbed a hand down his face in frustration and looked around the restaurant, then at Madonna. "You drive a hard bargain."
"I will make a decision soon. It's driving me insane having those dreams." Madonna continued eating.
"You never talk about them with me."
"I know." Madonna put her knife and fork down. "I'm just hoping they will go away, I guess. I'm almost sick of talking to people about everything in all honesty."
"I don't blame you."
"Do you have any sessions later this afternoon?"
"I fancy going for a bike ride. Blowing the cobwebs away."
"Sounds good." Carlos replied, smoothing a hand over Madonna's on the table and a small smile appeared on her lips.
End of Part 20...
A few months later, Madnna was still having the dreams. She was being hounded by the paparazzi even more, and at six months she hadn't been able to hide the fact she was pregnant for over a month. Even though true to what CSI Oates said, the tapes of Madonna were destroyed after the case went to court, the entire story leaked out to the media. It wasn't a very relaxing time for her, even though Carlos was her rock.
"The dreams haven't gone away. I need to go back to that hotel room. And I need you to come with me." Madonna said very calmly one morning, avoiding looking at Carlos.
He frowned. "M, we should have done this months ago."
"I wasn't ready months ago." Madonna glared at Carlos.
"It's going to be stressful. You're heavily pregnant M."
Slowly Madonna stood up, holding her stomach in both hands. "I wasn't asking, Carlos. I was just being polite, telling you. And hoping you would be as understanding as you were a few months ago. But if not, I can call my girls and make a day of it - hell we can even get lunch and joke about it after." The last sentence was dripping in sarcasm and Carlos clenched his jaw, nearly knocking over his chair as he stood up.
"Don't joke about it M. It's not funny."
Madonna took a few steps towards Carlos. "Not sleeping isn't funny." She said, holding his glare.
"You're not going to let me talk you out of this, M, are you?" Carlos said and Madonna shook her head.
"All this time spent arguing is pointless. The sooner we go, the sooner we can get on with our lives." Madonna said, looking desperate. "This baby is going for gold in gymnastics inside me, it's moving so much, I am constantly tired." She said and Carlos laughed. "It's not funny!" Madonna said, trying not to smile.
"We're not going to be able to give the paps the slip, you realise that?" Carlos half asked and Madonna nodded.
"This is one of those rare occasions where I really, genuinely do not give a fuck. This is about me being able to move on." Madonna said.
"Us being able to move on." Carlos said, holding her close, despite her size and Madonna smiled. "What if you really freak out?"
Madonna bit her lower lip. "Hypnotise the memories away? I don't know."
"Someone might have the room." Carlos said, ignoring her joke.
"Then I will talk to the manager of the hotel. I'll get him on the phone with my shrink. Whatever it takes."
"I'll clear my day." Carlos said, grabbing his phone. He looked up at her. "Are you sure?"
"I am sure something heavy is going to be sailing towards your head soon, if you ask that again." Madonna said with an expressionless face and Carlos held up his free hand, then phoned his assistant to get his training sessions covered by other people.
"Now?" He asked when he hung up and she nodded, looking nervous.
Madonna spoke with the manager of the hotel, while Carlos and a couple of bodyguards waited for her in the reception area. She reappeared with the card for the room, which she held up, but didn't smile, then told the bodyguards to stay where they were and took the lift up to the eighth floor. Madonna took Carlos' hand and squeezed it so tight it went numb. She looked straight ahead and he kissed her cheek.
"You can do this." He whispered fiercely in her ear and she nodded.
They walked to the room and Madonna swiped the card, opening the door.
"I'll wait out here." Carlos said, taking a step back.
"No!" Madonna said, looking terrified. "I - I don't want to go in there alone! Not really. I'm scared." She swallowed a lump in her throat.
"Ok M." Carlos followed her into the room, closing the door behind them.
She walked into the room and the first thing Madonna looked at was the pristine clean coffee table, that had been covered with alcohol and drugs the night she'd been there. Carlos stayed by the door and watched Madonna walk further into the room. She sat down on the sofa, running both hands through her hair and closing her eyes.
"Can you come over here and sit with me please?" Madonna asked quietly, opening her eyes and looking up at Carlos.
He went over and sat next to her.
"I hope you aren't still blaming yourself." Carlos said quietly, a hand on her knee.
"No. Not any more." Madonna replied, looking at him with watery eyes.
"Being here...it feels like it happened to someone else almost." Madonna said, frowning. "I wish I could take a baseball bat to this room, then burn the entire thing down."
"Visualise doing it." Carlos said.
"You sound like Goldstein." Madonna smiled a little. She wiped tears just as they slipped down her face. Madonna got up and walked through to the bathroom, Carlos waiting in the doorway. "They replaced the medicine cabinet." She said quietly, running her fingers down the glass on the door, remembering the painof having the side of her face smashed into it. Madonna pushed her long hair back and traced a finger along the side of her face, along the very faint scar that was there.
"I can hardly see it anymore." Carlos said and Madonna looked at his reflection in the mirror.
"Thank god." She breathed a sigh of relief.
"Are you sure you don't want me to wait outside the room, M?" Carlos asked, but she shook her head.
"No. I really need you here."
Madonna left the bathroom and headed to the bedroom. She stared at the bed for a while, then went over and lay down on it. Carlos sat on a chair and Madonna stared up at the ceiling. Her fingers gripped the covers either side until her knuckles were white and she gasped, sitting up with a start.
"I need to go - you need to go, we need to go!" Madonna didn't pause for breath.
"M, the only thing you need to do right now is calm down and breathe." Carlos said softly, sitting on the bed with her.
"I can't!" Madonna wailed and she began to cry, clutching her side.
"Are you in pain?"
"I feel winded..." Madonna gasped for breath.
"It's ok M. It's ok. We can just sit here for a while. You have been so brave, coming here today. I'm really proud of you." Carlos said, rubbing her lower back. "I know I didn't want you to come, but I was wrong. This is good for you."
"I can't take anymore though. We need to go." Madonna said, desperate to get out of the room. Carlos helped her to her feet and they left the hotel room for what would be the last time.
Carlos took deep breaths and Madonna copied him, until her breathing was back to normal and they went to the lift. A maid who just left a room she'd been cleaning quickly grabbed her phone and held it up, taking a picture of Madonna in tears and Carlos looked up at just the right time to catch her.
"If you don't delete that picture right here and now, I will call her lawyer. And trust me, you don't want her on your case." Carlos said not in a threatening way, but firmly.
The maid blushed and went over to Carlos and showed him as she deleted it. Madonna didn't even look at her or say anything until she was in the lift with Carlos.
"Thank you." Madonna said, and Carlos knew she meant not just for the fact he made the maid delete the picture, but for being there with her, at the hotel.
End of Part 21...
"Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!" Madonna looked down at her hand, which was shaky and had blood on it. She was loosing the baby, she knew it. Her body felt like it was covered in a sheen of sweat, but she was burning up. Madonna was about to shake Carlos, when she saw an empty space next to her and frowned, where was he?
Slowly she got out of bed and poked her head in the bathroom, then started searching the guest rooms, then Lourdes' room. Lourdes wasn't in her bed and it freaked Madonna out. Where would Carlos have taken her at this time of night? Madonna was just on her way back upstairs, when her head tilted and she saw that there was a trail of blood. She followed the trail backupstairs and sat with her back against the wall, looking along the hallway at the trail of blood she had left behind. Madonna screamed.
Carlos shook Madonna. "M, M! Wake up! M! You're dreaming! Wake up!"
"I'm loosing the baby!" Madonna wailed straight away, as she opened her eyes and they were wide with fear.
"You're not loosing the baby, M, it was a dream!" Carlos grabbed her arms and shook her as Madonna looked down at her hands, which had blood on them minutes ago. "Why are you looking at your hands M?"
"There was blood on them just now..." Madonna looked confused.
"No, my darling, there really wasn't. I promise you just now you were asleep, moaning and thrashing about." Carlos replied quietly.
Madonna shook her head. "I was bleeding - there was a trail of blood. You weren't next to me and Lola wasn't in her room. I was all alone."
"Madonna, you're not bleeding." Carlos said, concerned ashe looked at her.
"I am!" Madonna started to put a shaky hand down her pyjama bottoms, when Carlos took it away and started to put his hand down there. "Don't! You will end up with my blood on your hand!" She said, but he carefully put his fingers between her legs, then pulled his hand away, holding it up for her to see.
"There, no blood. You were dreaming."
"It was so real!" Madonna sat up, gasping a little, a shaky hand wrenched through her hair.
"There is no way Lola and I would not be here in the middle of the night."
"The first night I don't dream I am trapped with my abusers, I dream I'm loosing the baby." Madonna gazed up at the ceiling.
"M, you've been under a lot of stress lately." Carlos said, resting both hands on her shoulders.
"I want to scream - and not because I've had a bad dream, but because it's never ending, all this shit."
"There's not much I can say to make it go away, M, but just try to think about the end game. When you have this baby and you're holding him or her in your arms, it will all melt away. None of it will matter, but the baby and Lola."
"And you." Madonna said quietly, her voice loaded with passion as she held his cheeks and kissed him. "Thank you so much for your patience and love." She whispered, pressing her forehead to his.
"I'd do anything for you, M. You know that, right?" He said and she nodded, holding on to the back of his neck, her forehead still pressed to hers.
It was the weekend and the following afternoon Madonna was asleep on the sofa with Lourdes. Carlos had to work in the morning and when he returned home, he found Lourdes asleep on Madonna's bump, her little arms and legs dangling over the edge of her. Madonna's arms were around Lourdes and it was such a touching, peaceful scene that Carlos was quiet so as not to wake them.
"Hey." Madonna whispered, looking up as she opened her eyes.
"Is Lola ok to be sleeping on you like that? Isn't it uncomfortable?" Carlos asked, pointing to Madonna's stomach and she shook her head.
"No. I find it comforting."
"Did you manage to sleep better?"
"Yeah, thanks." Madonna slowly sat up, carefully transferring Lourdes from her stomach to the sofa and pulling blankets up over her.
"Are you hungry?"
"Not really. Carlos, I'm sorry you haven't been getting any sleep because of me and my stupid dreams lately. I would totally understand if you wanted to sleep in a guest room, or wanted me to sleep in one." Madonna said, looking a little embarrassed.
"Don't be silly M. I'm not throwing you out of your own bed, and there is no way I'm leaving you on your own in bed either. You aren't disrupting my sleep that much. And it's not like you're doing it on purpose." Carlos replied sensibly.
"Ok, if you're sure."
"I am. What else is on your mind?"
"It's driving me crazy not knowing the sex of the baby." Madonna said.
"You wanted it to be a surprise." Carlos smiled.
"I know, but it's driving me nuts now." Madonna said, chewing her lower lip.
"I need to know as well to be honest. We'll find out first thing on Monday, ok?" Carlos said and Madonna nodded. Little did she know he hadn't just been working that morning, but also organising a surprise baby shower for her.
End of Part 22...
Carlos had taken Madonna to work with him that morning, after they'd dropped Lourdes off to school. He said he wanted to try out a new gentle yoga session plan with her, because he wanted to start having yoga classes for pregnant women at his gym. Carlos had been talking to Madonna's friends - Debi, Rosie, Ingrid and a few others about organising a baby shower for a while. He had been talking to them via email and phone when Madonna wasn't around and described how he would like the lounge and kitchen decorated.
"You're not going to work me too hard are you? I'm feeling really heavy and uncomfortable today..." Madonna groaned.
"No. I know what levels of fitness you are M, even when you are heavily pregnant." Carlos said.
"I'm glad one of us is certain about that."
"Did you have a bad dream again last night?"
"No, I'm just being a grumpy bitch, Carlos." Madonna said, smiling a little.
"That wasn't what I was implying."
"I know. You're too nice to imply that." Madonna looked out the window at the city going past, on the way to the gym.
Carlos placed a hand over Madonna's and when she looked at him, he kissed her. "We get to find out the sex of the baby after yoga."
"What are you hoping for?" Carlos asked, because he couldn't remember Madonna saying she wanted a boy or a girl.
"A boy. I know it's what you really want, and it would be nice for Lola to have a little brother." Madonna replied, her face softening.
"Think of that when we are meditating and don't be a grumpy bitch." Carlos said softly and Madonna laughed. "What's funny?" He smiled.
"I can't remember the last time I heard you swear. It just sounds funny, coming from you." Madonna said, resting her head on his shoulder and Carlos looked down at her.
"I'm glad I could make you laugh." He said, kissing the top of her head.
They arrived at the gym and Carlos took Madonna up to a room that looked like their calm room at home, only it was a lot bigger. He took her to the centre of the room and they sat on mats and Carlos began. It was a ninety minute session that comprised of gentle stretches and meditation.
"I think this class is going to be popular." Madonna said, as Carlos helped her to her feet.
"I feel so mellow right now."
"Good." Carlos smiled.
"I still need to shower and change though, because I did sweat a bit and I want to be clean when we go find out what sex the baby is."
"Sure. I have a private shower next to my office. I put some clothes in your bag."
"Wow, you're organised today." Madonna smiled. "Are you coming with?"
"I will go in after you. Otherwise we'll never get to the doctors."
"You're right." Madonna said, smiling to herself and disappearing.
She showered and put on a dress Carlos had packed, wondering why he hadn't put something more casual in the bag for her to wear.
"M, you look great!" Carlos said, kissing her and smiling.
"It's a little much just for the doctors..." She chewed her lower lip, looking down at the plum coloured dress with little white butterflies on it.
"I thought a dress would be more comfortable." Carlos replied and Madonna nodded.
"You were right."
Carlos had a quick shower and got dressed and they went to the doctors. Madonna couldn't sit still in the car and Carlos smiled, taking her hand and she squeezed it.
On the way home, Madonna couldn't stop crying in the car. They'd found out she was having a boy and she was so happy she felt really emotional. Carlos held her in his arms, unable to stop smiling.
"This means we can talk names now." Carlos said, sounding excited and Madonna gazed up at him, nodding as she sniffed.
"Yeah. Oh my god, this is the first time in quite some time I've actually felt happy." Madonna said, smiling through her tears.
Carlos gently wiped her tears away with his thumbs and pressed his lips to her forehead. "It's good to see you smile again."
"Sorry, I'm being soppy, I can't stop crying!" Madonna said, laughing as fresh tears escaped down her cheeks.
"It's fine, honestly. As long as you are crying because you're happy, not sad." Carlos smoothed hair away from her face, tucking it behind an ear.
When they arrived home, Carlos took Madonna in the front door and it wasn't until they got to the kitchen, that everyone yelled 'surprise!' The kitchen and garden had been decorated for the baby shower. Madonna, who was already crying, cried even harder.
"Damn, I don't think I've ever seen someone cry before coming to a surprise party!" Debi said.
"We just found out we're having a boy." Carlos explained, which had everyone talking.
"Congratulations Mo!" Rosie said, hugging Madonna, as she manuevered her bump out of the way.
"Thanks Ro." Madonna held on to her friend and cried on her shoulder for a bit.
"We decided to decorate the kitchen and the garden - it's so nice out, we thought it would be nice to be outside as well." Ingrid explained to Carlos, who nodded, looking appreciative.
"Good idea. Thank you for doing all this, ladies." Carlos said to Ingrid, Debi and Rosie and they all smiled and nodded at him.
"Did you guys organise this?" Madonna asked, looking around at her friends.
"We helped Carlos, it was all his idea." Rosie said.
Madonna looked at Carlos and smiled. "That's why you brought this dress. And got me out of the house to do yoga."
"That wasn't a complete lie - I am bringing in some yoga teachers who specalise in meditation for pregnant women. I just wanted to see what you thought." Carlos replied.
"I thought it was great. I felt mellow up until we found out we are having a boy and got emotional." Madonna went over to Carlos. "Thank you for this." She said, kissing him.
Ingrid handed Madonna an iced tea and the two women talked, then Madonna circulated, talking to other friends, smiling and laughing.
"She seems so much better these days, considering what she has been through recently." Debi said quietly to Carlos and he nodded.
"M is stronger than ever she realises. I was so proud of her in court, she handled it all so well." Carlos replied quietly.
Madonna looked over at Carlos and they smiled at each other.
"You two are sickening." Debi joked and Carlos laughed, used to her dry sense of humour.
After catching up with friends and buffet food and more drinks, Madonna sat on the sofa in the gazebo in the garden and everyone gave her presents. She insisted on Carlos sitting next to her and he enjoyed watching Madonna open all the presents excitedly and hug and kiss her friends. Carlos put all the rubbish Madonna cast aside in a binliner, then leaned over and whispered in her ear.
"I have a present for you."
"Me?" Madonna raised her eyebrows and he nodded.
"The baby has a lot of presents and I wante to get you something nice."
"Carlos, you didn't have too."
"I wanted too." Carlos said, handing Madonna a large necklace box, with a bow around it. Everyone watched as she opened it.
Inside was a beautiful amethyst bead necklace - the same type of necklace that usually had a cross on it, but on this necklace was a beautiful gold hamsa hand.
"Wow...that's gorgeous!" Madonna said, looking taken aback.
"You like it?" Carlos asked.
"I love it." Madonna looked up at him. "Can you help me put it on please?"
"Of course." Carlos took it out of the box and fastened it around Madonna's neck. She pulled the gold hamsa hand down and smiled up at Carlos, kissing him.
"Thank you so much."
"You're most welcome M." Carlos said.
Everyone clapped and cheered and admired Madonna's necklace and she smiled again, looking up at Carlos, happy at last and he felt like the luckiest man on the planet in that moment.
End of Part 23...
"I'm going to bed. I can't physically stay up any more." Madonna said, easing herself off the sofa to go upstairs. She was a couple of weeks away from her due date and constantly felt exhausted. Carlos was being sweet as usual, which made her life much easier, even though all the resting sometimes drove her crazy.
"Ok. I'll be up in a minute." Carlos said, after Madonna leaned forward and kissed him.
"You can stay up later if you want. I am going to be asleep the minute my head hits the pillow."
"To be honest, I've been so busy at the gym lately, I'm tired too." Carlos admitted and Madonna nodded, walking away with her hands on her stomach.
She made it to the stairs and sat on the bottom one, frowning. A couple of minutes later, Carlos stood in front of her. Madonna looked up at him.
"I don't think I am going to make it up the stairs." She said and he nodded, sitting next to her, because she looked worried.
"Have your waters broke yet?" Carlos asked and Madonna shook her head.
"No." She said, and it seemed to him like she was sat frozen in fear.
"M, you're going to be fine. You've done this before." Carlos said softly.
"A couple of years ago now." Madonna said, her face betraying the beginnings of pain.
"I have to take you to the hospital, M."
"There are no drugs here, if you have the baby here." Carlos said.
"I know. But I can't move."
"Considering what you've been through this year M, you have nothing to be scared of, really." Carlos said.
"When was the last time you pushed a baby out of your vagina?" Madonna asked Carlos, looking deadly serious for a minute and he didn't know what to say.
"I just meant..."
"Carlos, I'm fucking with you!" Madonna said, laughing as she pushed him and he shook his head, trying not to smile.
"You don't have pick your moments to joke around..."
"Can you help me up please?" Madonna asked and Carlos helped her to her feet and her waters broke. She held onto the pole at the bottom of the stairs, wincing. "Oh my god..."
"M, I can carry you, let me just get someone else to drive." Carlos said and he rushed away and came back with a couple of bodyguards. "They're bringing the car around the front."
"With the paps that hang around out there? Are you insane?"
"M, it's the quickest way - if I carry you straight out through the front door to the car."
"Ok." Madonna said, and let Carlos scoop her up in his arms. He carried her out to the car and they were driving away before the paparazzi even had time to take pictures. "You were right. That was quick. How? I weigh a ton!"
"No you don't, M. And I've probably been working out more at the gym, because we've been so busy." Carlos replied.
Madonna was led out across his lap and Carlos held on to her. She looked up at him.
"I had a bag prepared - "
"I put that in the car at the start of your ninth month. It's in the boot." Carlos replied and Madonna smiled.
"You're more organised then I am."
"In theory so you are less stressed." Carlos replied.
"That's sweet of you." Madonna said, looking up at Carlos gratefully. "Look, I know I haven't been easy to live with this past year, but I want to tell you how much I love you, Carlos. You have been loving and patient and supportive, even when I've been frustrating and difficult."
"M, you're talking like you are dying. It's freaking me out." Carlos said, looking worried.
"It feels like this baby is trying to break my body. But maybe that's what I need - to be broken completely, so I can start again." Madonna said, holding one of Carlos' hands.
He lifted her hand to his lips and closed his eyes for a moment as he kissed it. "I love you too M. I think this baby is going to help heal you."
Even though it wasn't too late, there was hardly any traffic around and they managed to get to a hospital before Madonna was in any real pain that required drugs.
"I can't do this...I know you believe in me...but I can't...!!" Madonna shook her head, lying back on the bed, as she squeezed Carlos' hand, looking hopeless.
"Yes you can, M. You can do anything." Carlos said in a soothing voice.
"I can't!" Tears streamed down her cheeks.
"You can M. Just breathe. Like we practised in the calm room." Carlos replied, doing a demonstration and Madonna looked up at him, copying his breathing to calm down, then pushing when the midwife told her too.
"I want Lola is be here when the baby arrives. She wanted to help name him." Madonna said.
"I can call the nanny and get her to bring Lola and take her for a drink or something, until the baby arrives."
Madonna nodded. "Go call her now, quick - I need you in here!" She said panting and Carlos rushed out of the room to call the nanny. He was only gone a few minutes and when he returned he placed a cold flannel on Madonna's forehead that was handed to him by a nurse and she looked grateful.
"I hope she doesn't think we are calling him Jasper though..." Carlos said, and despite her pain, Madonna laughed.
"Blossom would have been nicer, if it had been a girl!" She said and Carlos smiled.
A few hours, more drugs and after pushing harder later, Madonna was handed a tiny baby boy and he took her breath away. It was as if the events of the past year were starting to finally fade and he would breathe new life into her. Carlos was just as mesmerised by his new son as Madonna, unable to stop smiling as soon as he saw him. A nurse took the baby away to clean him up, but returned shortly after, handing him back to Madonna.
"He's so perfect!" Madonna said, smoothing one of his tiny cheeks and looking up at Carlos, who was looking at Madonna and their son proudly and nodded.
"Wow. You have beautiful babies, M."
"We have beautiful babies, Carlos."
"Well, yeah, but you do all the hard work."
"I want more. I want another boy and another girl." Madonna said, looking down at her little son.
Carlos laughed. "Let's enjoy him and Lola for at least a year first."
"Can you go and get Lola please? I want her to see her new brother." Madonna said.
"Sure." Carlos said and he left the room and found Lourdes with the nanny in the hospital canteen. The nanny waited outside the room with the bodyguards, while Carlos and Lourdes went inside and he lifted her up onto the bed so Lourdes could be close to her mother and brother.
"Here is your brother, Lola." Madonna said, holding the baby out a little and Lourdes moved closer.
"He's so little." Lourdes said, looking at him in wonderment.
"You were that little once." Carlos said, smoothing her ponytail.
Lourdes reached a small hand over to stroke his cheek, and the baby grabbed her finger with his whole fist, looking at her and he smiled.
"I think someone is saying hello." Madonna said, smiling down at Lourdes.
"Did you have any names in mind Lola?" Carlos asked.
"Romeo." Lourdes said straight away and Madonna and Carlos exchanged a look.
"You aren't reading Romeo and Juliet in school are you?" Madonna asked, looking worried, because it was more of an adult story.
"What's that?" Lourdes frowned. "There is a boy in my class called Romeo. I like the name."
Carlos and Madonna breathed a sigh of relief, looking at each other. "What do you think?" Madonna asked.
"I like it."
"Romeo." Madonna said, looking down at her son. "I love it Lola."
"He doesn't look like a Jasper and I might have a boy pony at some point." Lourdes pushed stray hair out of her face.
Carlos stifled a laugh and Madonna smiled at him, rocking the baby in her arms, knowing her daughter wouldn't be letting the subject of owning a horse go any time soon.
"Is Romeo and Juliet a good book mommy?" Lourdes looked up at Madonna.
"It is, sweetheart. But you'll have to wait until you're a big girl to read it, because it's more of an adult story." Madonna replied.
"Ok mommy." Lourdes said. "Can we take Romeo home now?"
"Soon, Lola. Mommy is tired after having him, so she needs to rest a bit first." Carlos said.
"Can we wait with you until you can come home mommy?" Lourdes asked.
"I would love that. And so would Romeo." Madonna replied.
Carlos kissed the top of Madonna's head, then Lourdes'. He noticed Madonna didn't look as stressed or troubled as she had done mere hours ago, and for months and months and knew that becoming a mother again would be the making of her.
"I swear it's taking longer to get Lola to sleep." Madonna rolled her eyes. but couldn't help smiling one evening as she closed the door behind her and Carlos smiled.
"I would try, but even if I do, she will ask for you too." He replied.
Madonna laughed, nodding and grabbed her laptop as she got into bed. "I just need to reply to a few emails." She explained.
"But you are going to try to sleep right?"
"Of course." Madonna said.
"You are a rubbish liar." Carlos replied, watching her blush slightly.
"If I'm not done in fifteen minutes, I give you permission to take my laptop away." Madonna joked, as she opened it.
"I am going to hold you to that." Carlos said, looking up at Madonna as he lay down next to her.
Madonna went through some of her emails, then frowned when she opened one from someone she didn't know. All of the colour drained from her face when she watched the video clips attached. Madonna slammed her laptop shut and got out of bed.
"M, what's wrong? You look awful." Carlos frowned.
"Nothing - I - I just feel sick." Madonna ran to the bathroom and closed the door and Carlos heard her lock the door and throw up from the other side.
Carlos knocked on the door. "Let me in, M."
"You don't need to see me throw up." Madonna's voice trembled.
"I'm worried about you."
"I will be fine in a bit." Madonna lied, rubbing her forehead.
Carlos opened Madonna's laptop and looked through her emails. He found one from an unknown sender. Carlos thought this was unusual - the only people who emailed Madonna were family, friends and co-workers, as she had an email address that would be impossible for anyone who didn't know her to guess. Carlos watched the videos and clapped a hand to his mouth, his eyes wide with shock. They were graphic videos of Madonna being abused by the two guys who had been hanging around her at the party on that fateful night. Clearly she had been plied with spiked drinks, because she looked almost totally out of it. Not only were there videos, but a message asking for a ridiculous sum of money, otherwise the videos would be leaked online and to the media.
"What the hell are you doing?" Madonna opened the door, looking horrified. "Don't look at that!" She ran across the room and nearly took Carlos' fingers off, she snapped her laptop shut so violently.
"It's too late M. I have already seen it."
"Why? Why would you watch that?"
"I didn't know what it was going to be, did I? M - we have to show this to the police, right now." Carlos said, sounding urgent.
"Jesus..." Madonna wrenched both hands through her hair. "Other people are going to have to watch it." She said, looking ill at the thought of it.
"Only the people who are going to catch that scum." Carlos replied.
"It doesn't matter. Still more people."
"Does it...did it make you remember?"
Madonna nodded, sitting on the edge of the bed. "Vaguely. I can remember a little."
"We need to hand in your laptop right now M."
"It's late. What about Lola?"
"The nanny is here. M, they could catch them based off this. More so than the sketches."
"I feel like I want to throw up my organs at the thought of that video getting out."
"Exactly. So let's go now."
"Ok." Madonna started looking for something to wear.
"I'll let the nanny know and have the car brought round." Carlos said, pulling on a t-shirt and pair of jeans.
He left the room and she put on a dark, loose pair of flowery trousers and an over-sized sweater. Madonna slipped on a pair of flat shoes and pulled her hair back into a messy ponytail. She looked at her reflection in the mirror and felt nauseaous when she thought of Carlos seeing those video clips. Her face was still very pale and there was dark under her eyes, giving her a ghostly haunted look.
"Right, are you ready?" Carlos asked, when he returned and Madonna shook her head and started to cry softly. He went over to her and held her. "M, you're trembling. They are going to be caught, ok?" Carlos smoothed her ponytail and nuzzled his nose into her neck.
During the car journey to the station Madonna was very quiet. She drummed her fingers silently on her laptop, the only thing close to noise in the car. Carlos stared out the window on his side and Madonna looked at him nervously, wondering what he might be thinking. When he turned to look at her, she looked out her window, then closed her eyes and wished the ground beneath would swallow her.
"I called Sachie, she's on her way." Carlos said, referring to Madonna's lawyer, breaking the silence.
Madonna looked worried. "Do you think they'll want a statement too?"
"I imagine they might want to ask if you remember anything else, after watching those clips." Carlos replied quietly.
"Oh." Madonna looked deflated.
"If they let me, I can come in with you, M." Carlos said, placing one of his hands over hers on the laptop.
"I'd like that." Madonna said, swallowing a lump in her throat.
They arrived and got out of the car, meeting Sachie at the entrance and all of them, including the bodyguard who'd been driving and another who had been in the passenger seat got out and flanked them. Madonna went up to the front desk with Carlos and explained why she was there, then they went to an interrogation room with Sachie, where they were made to wait by the police, while they watched what was on the laptop in another room.
"I'll get us coffee." Carlos said, leaving the room and going off in search of a machine.
"Carlos told me what was on the laptop. They may keep it as evidence, but I can try to get it back for you - " Sachie started.
"They can keep it. I really don't care." Madonna said expressionlessly, staring at nothing in particular.
"Ok. Now, they might question you on what you remember, Madonna. It could be more forceful then before, because they think you will remember more or all of that night due to watching the videos. I'm not going to let them push you." Sachie said and Madonna looked at her. "At all." She said in a fierce, blunt manner.
Carlos returned with three coffees and both women thanked him as he sat the other side of Madonna.
"Are we going to have to pay these guys off? Or pretend too?" Carlos asked.
"No. No way. Pay these guys and they have nothing to loose. They could still distribute the videos. Or keep asking for more money."
"But while we are waiting they could distribute them..." Madonna said, looking worried.
"Not if they think they will get a large sum of money." Sachie replied.
CSI Oates and a male detective walked into the room, closing the door behind them and started the interview. Carlos held Madonna's hand under the table and she gave it a squeeze every time the detective started putting a little pressure on her, with regards to her memories. It seemed like he was the bad cop and CSI Oates was the good - and more sympathetic perhaps, because she was a woman. Sachie shut the detective down every single time he put the pressure on, much to Madonna's relief and Carlos looked at her, pretty impressed with how protective the lawyer was. 'My client has no comment' and 'no comment' and 'you don't have to answer that' were the most frequent things said in the room. When it was over, the detective left with a clenched jaw and CSI Oates looked at Madonna.
"Don't worry about him. You were very brave to even come here tonight, then to hand in that laptop and talk to us. Unfortunately we are going to have to hold on to it, for evidence. But on the plus side, we can track where the email was sent from and catch those guys."
"That's fine. I don't mind you keeping it. I just want this to be over."
"Do you still have my card?" CSI Oates asked and Madonna nodded. "Any time of day or night, if you remember anything, be sure to call or leave a message and I will assist you as soon as possible."
"Thank you." Madonna whispered, leaving the room with Sachie and Carlos. "Sachie, thank you for everything this evening. I couldn't have got through that in there without you."
Sachie smiled. "Yes you could, you just don't know it." She said. "Don't forget to call me before you call Ms CSI in there. Or even your therapist, ok?"
"Ok." Madonna looked amused.
"Goodnight." Madonna said.
Shortly after, she and Carlos left the building and went home. The drive home seemed shorter and they both went up to their room the minute they got back, and began getting dressed for bed again.
"I hope they catch them. I can't have those video clips leaking." Madonna said, her voice wobbling as she lay in bed next to Carlos.
"They will. And that CSI was right, you were very brave this evening, M. I admire you." Carlos said, an arm around her as he went to kiss her lips, but she turned and he knocked her cheek instead. "What's wrong?"
"How can you admire me after watching that?"
"The fact that you can't remember it and you were very clearly almost out of it and still managed to show that to the authorities takes a lot of guts, M."
"How do you even want to be in the same bed as me right now?"
"Because I happen to love you." Carlos said softly.
"I still feel a bit queasy. I might go and just sit by the toilet for a while."
"Then I will sit with you." Carlos said.
Madonna went and sat by the toilet and Carlos sat next to her.
"You don't have to do this, you know."
"I want too. Besides, you look pretty pale, M." Carlos said, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear.
"This could be a long night..."
"I've slept in less comfortable places." Carlos replied. "Maybe you should go to the doctor tomorrow."
"No. She will give me medication."
"M, if you are feeling sick or something, it's fine."
"No. I don't want to take anything and I don't want to drink." Madonna replied aggressively.
"Ok, ok." Carlos said, holding up his hands.
"Maybe I can find something natural to make me feel better tomorrow."
"I can help you look for something online." Carlos said, pulling Madonna onto his lap. He felt her body go rigid. "M?"
"Aren't you disgusted by me?"
"No. And I wish you could stop feeling disgusted with yourself."
"Mmm." Madonna chewed at her nails, until Carlos took her hand away from her mouth.
Both of them were silent and eventually Madonna fell asleep, curled into Carlos. He watched her for quite a while, then very carefully - so as not to wake her, carried Madonna to bed and pulled the covers up over them both. She was in such a deep sleep, she never even stirred once.
End of Part 9...
The blonde guy and the dark haired guy led Madonna along the hallway to their hotel room. She was smiling, even though her eyes were only half open and felt drunk enough that her legs could give way at any given moment.
"We're gonna have fun tonight, baby." Blonde said, grinning.
Madonna had her arms linked through both of theirs and stumbled along, hardly aware of where she was or what was happening. Dark hair opened the door and Blonde led Madonna inside, closing the door behind them.
"Music. We need music." Dark hair said and went to put some on.
"And drink...and pills and coke." Blonde said.
"I don't...don't do any of that..." Madonna slurred her words.
"Of course you don't, sweetheart." Dark hair said sarcastically.
"We wouldn't tell anyone if you did." Blonde replied, holding Madonna's chin and kissing her hard.
"I'm married." Madonna held up her hand, which had a beautiful white gold wedding band and a diamond engagement ring on the wedding finger.
"If you take them off, it doesn't count." Dark hair took her hand and carefully eased them off. He held them up and put them down on the table, so Madonna could see them.
"Let's get a drink." Blonde said, leading Madonna away. He looked back at dark hair and winked. Dark hair slid the rings off the table and put them in his pocket. Blonde poured Madonna a glass of wine and handed it to her. "Have this, while I make you a cocktail."
"I've had too much already..." Madonna held her hand up.
"No way, we're just getting the party started!" Blonde handed her the glass and Madonna took it.
While she was drinking and looking around, blonde had his back to her and started making a cocktail. Dark hair joined him and handed him something to slip in the drink.
After several cocktails, Madonna was dancing between both men. Their hands were all over Madonna, on her bum, her thighs, her boobs. Dark hair kissed her, while blonde squeezed her breasts. It started to feel wrong and she stopped the kiss and stumbled away from them both.
"No...I can't..." Madonna stumbled into the bathroom to splash some water on her face.
She felt someone grab a handful of her hair and smash her face on the medicine cabinet. "You don't get to walk away from me."
"Dude, chill out. Go get us some drinks."
Madonna turned to face dark hair, who frowned. "Excuse my friend. He can be a bit moody." Dark hair walked past her and grabbed some tisses and wiped her face. "Are you ok?"
"Yeah." Madonna lied.
"Let's go an sit down. We can dance a bit later." Dark hair took her out to the sofa, where Blonde had drinks for them.
"I overreacted. Sorry baby." Blonde handed Madonna a cocktail, laced with some drug and she nodded, drinking it.
Dark hair snorted some coke and sat on the other side of Madonna on the sofa. He poured a little coke along his thumb and offered it to her. Her inhibitions had been lowered from the alcohol and constant drugging and Madonna snorted it, pinching her nose after.
Blonde and dark hair exhanged a smile behind her.
"My rings, my rings, oh god - my rings!!" Madonna sat bolt upright in bed, in a blind panic.
Carlos stretched, yawning and sat up, rubbing his face.
"What did you say M?"
"They took my wedding band and my engagement rings! Oh god, Carlos - you had the wedding band inscribed! I love them!" Madonna started to cry, clearly distressed.
"M, I know how much you love those rings, but I am glad YOU are ok." Carlos said, holding both her cheeks, as her tears spilled over his fingers.
"I was made to take them off. I told them I was married, but they said it didn't count if I took my rings off. Carlos I was so out of it, I think...I think I did pretty much whatever they told me or made me do." Madonna swallowed a lump in her throat, taking both of Carlos' hands away from her face.
"It's not your fault, M." He frowned. "I wish you would stop beating yourself up."
"I don't want to go back to sleep."
"We can meditate. Or have a warm drink to relax." Carlos suggested and Madonna shook her head.
"I need some air."
"Let's go out in the garden for a while."
Madonna pulled a hoodie over the fitted pyjama t-shirt she wore and slid on a pair or flip-flops. Carlos put a jacket on over his vest and they both went downstairs to the garden.
"Do you want anything to drink?" Carlos asked.
"Coffee would be great."
"I'm not planning on going back to sleep Carlos." Madonna looked up at him.
"I will make you a milky one, in case you change your mind."
"Ok." Madonna sighed.
Carlos made them both coffee and joined Madonna out on the swing garden chair.
"Thanks." She wrapped both her hands around the mug and blew it a little.
"I guess there's no need to ask what you dreamed about." Carlos said quietly.
Madonna held her hand out, looking at her empty wedding finger. "I feel so naked without my rings. And not in a good way."
"How did they even talk you into going back to a hotel with them?" Carlos asked.
"I don't know. I don't remember that part. And I guess I must have just looked like a drunk woman going back to a hotel room for a good time with a couple of guys to the receptionists and everyone else that saw us." Madonna frowned. "I feel like I've betrayed you, Carlos. I cheated on you."
"M, you never cheated on me. I don't see it like that at all. Cheating is a decision you make. And you had alcohol and drugs in your system. And two men manipulated and blackmailed you."
"I feel like a vile, vile woman. Disgusting. Dirty."
"And you have been scrubbing yourself raw nearly every day."
"How do you know that?" Madonna looked confused.
"You spend ages in the shower and your arms and legs have red marks on them." Carlos replied.
"I sound like a freak."
Carlos shook his head. "You are still going through a massive trauma, M." He kissed her temple and she looked at him, feeling an ache.
"I really want you, but I..." Madonna looked at Carlos, clearly nervous and conflicted.
"M, I want you too, but I can wait. You're practically trembling." Carlos said, putting his mug down and placing both hands around hers.
"I'm so lucky to have you." Madonna said, a slight smile forming.
"This will get easier eventually. I promise." Carlos kissed her forehead softly.
End of Part 10...
Lourdes ran around in the park with the other children, laughing and smiling. She made friends easily and played with anyone and everyone. Madonna and Carlos watched from a nearby bench, after being told by Lourdes that she was 'old enough' to go and play with the other children.
"I can imagine you being exactly like Lola when you were little." Carlos said and Madonna laughed.
"Lola is probably cheekier." Madonna replied.
Carlos placed a hand over Madonna's and she looked down at his hand and held it.
"What are you thinking?"
"Are we doing the right thing - bringing Lola up in this city?" Madonna turned to look at Carlos. There was so much confusion in her eyes. He knew how much she loved New York City, and hated those who had made her doubt the place so much.
"Where else would you want to bring her up?" Carlos asked.
Madonna shrugged. "Miami? Los Angeles?" She half suggested.
"I really want to bring up Lourdes here, M. And I know deep down you do too. You're just scared right now, and that's perfectly understandable."
"Don't talk to me like I'm a child, Carlos." Madonna said a little too sharply, sitting with her arms folded, watching Lourdes play.
"I'm not. I am trying to understand you right now, M." Carlos said and Madonna slid her shades down and looked over the top of them at him. "I don't think we would be able to leave the city now, with the case ongoing..."
"I know." Madonna sighed, taking her shades off and sitting them on top of her head. "I feel so trapped."
Carlos looked past Madonna, behind the fence and saw some paparazzi lurking. Madonna followed his gaze.
"Outside a park, where children are playing? Really??" She sounded annoyed. "I think we should go."
"We've been here a while anyway." Carlos replied.
"I'll go get Lola." Madonna glared at the photographers, then walked over to the climbing frame, where Lourdes was just in the process of climbing down. "Lola, we have to go." Madonna said, reaching out to her.
"Ok mommy." Lourdes said, letting Madonna scoop her up in her arms and carry her away.
Carlos walked behind Madonna and a couple of bodyguards flanked them. Madonna headed off in the opposite direction of the paparazzi, walking fast, like she might break out into a run.
"M, we need to go that way." Carlos pointed back towards the photographers.
"We can take the scenic route."
"Mommy, is it a game?" Lourdes asked.
"Is what a game, baby?"
"You going fast!"
"Yes, it is a game, Lola. Do you like it?" Madonna almost smiled.
"Yeah! Go faster mommy, faster!" Lourdes said, smiling and laughing. Carlos and the bodyguards stayed close to Madonna and Lourdes, and soon they were out of sight of the paparazzi and on their way home.
"What are you doing?" Debi asked, frowning, when she walked into Madonna's room and found clothes strewn over every possible surface.
"Debi!" Madonna smiled and rushed over to her friend, nearly crashing into her and Debi hugged her.
"It's good to see you too, M." Debi smiled.
"Mommy is having a biiiig sort out, cause she has too many clothes!" Lourdes said, appearing on the floor, with a camisole on her head.
Madonna took the camisole off her head and both she and Debi laughed.
"I think you're too little to be helping out with all this, sweetheart." Debi said softly.
"Lola, why don't you go and play with daddy for a bit?" Madonna suggested.
"Ok." Lourdes shrugged, then ran off.
"How are you, M?" Debi asked.
"I'm not dying, Deb." Madonna joked.
Debi looked around the room, then back at Madonna. "No, but you have everything sexy or racy in that area - " Debi motioned to a big pile of clothes. " - everything sensible here, and stuff you are sorting there."
"Maybe you should go work with the people working on my case." Madonna replied.
"None of this is your fault, M." Debi said.
Madonna flopped face-down on a pile of clothes on the bed and screamed into them. Her scream was muffled, then she turned over and lay on her back, looking at Debi, who sat on the bed.
"Carlos has been saying that a lot, huh?" She guessed and Madonna nodded. "Even if you are sick of hearing it, M, it's true."
"The way I dressed or acted made two men want to drug me and drag me off, and..." Madonna trailed off, looking away from Debi.
"So you dress sexy and flirt with everyone? So what? A lot of women do, M. None of them are asking to be abused. Nothing you say or do made those sickos do what they did. They're deranged and dangerous." Debi said, lying alongside Madonna.
"I'm starting to feel deranged myself. I tried throwing away all the alcohol in the house a few days ago. I wanted to do the same with the medication, but Carlos talked me out of it. And I don't want to sleep. But I keep remembering things when I sleep." Madonna said, watching Debi sit up and look down at her.
"Think of it this way, the sooner you remember everything, when they catch the scum who did this, it will be over sooner. And you have a lot of friends to support you, myself included, Carlos, Lola - she's like a little ray of sunshine, your daughter." Debi said and Madonna smiled, nodding.
"She certainly is."
"I think you've got too many clothes anyway, and I could always take some of this off you..." Debi said, trying not to smile and Madonna laughed, pushing her playfully.
Carlos walked into the room, carrying Lourdes. "Would either of you ladies like a drink?" He asked, his eyes wide when he saw the state of the room.
"A coffee would be great thanks." Debi replied.
"The same for me please." Madonna looked amused at his face.
"This Lola, is what I NEVER want your room to look like, ok?" Carlos said and Lourdes looked serious and shook her head in agreement.
"I'm helping M tidy up down. We were just catching up." Debi said and Carlos nodded, smiling.
"I'll be back with those drinks in a bit." He said, leaving with Lourdes still in his arms.
"M, you have a perfect family. I don't know how you feel right now, but that's got to count for something, right?" Debi said and Madonna nodded.
"Yes. Yes it does."
End of Part 11...
Madonna had Lourdes on her lap, who wriggled around as she ate breakfast.
"You are such a fidget-butt!" Madonna said and Lourdes giggled, dribbling milk from her cereal down her chin. Carlos handed Madonna a couple of tissues and she wiped Lourdes' chin.
"Mommy, can you take me to school today?" Lourdes looked at her expectantly.
"Of course baby." Madonna kissed her little cheek.
"And you daddy?"
"Yes." Carlos smiled. He lifted Lourdes off of Madonna's lap, kissing her cheek. "Let's go and clean your teeth." He winked at Madonna, who looked grateful she could now reach her coffee. A few minutes later Carlos came back on his own.
"Lola is just putting some things in her backpack."
"I have to do a lineup, after we drop her off at school." Madonna said quietly.
"I'll come with you."
"The thought of having to see those men..." Madonna trailed off, gasping and covering her mouth.
"M, they won't be able to see you from behind that glass I don't think."
"I hope not."
"They should be the ones embarrassed to see you."
"Yeah, I guess."
"Mommy, daddy, are you ready?!" Lourdes shouted from by the front door and Carlos and Madonna smiled at each other and went to take her to school.
"Yes Lola." Carlos repplied.
They looked like a regular family, Lourdes walking in between Madonna and Carlos, who held a hand each - accept for the fact they had a couple of bodyguards accompanying them.
Madonna's hands were trembling and slightly sweaty when Carlos took one. He leaned over and kissed her temple.
"M, it's going to be fine. I know you can do this." He whispered in her ear.
She swallowed a lump in her throat and chewed her lower lip. "I should ask if they found my rings."
"You would have had them back by now." Carlos said.
"I loved those rings." Madonna squeezed his hand.
"I know." Carlos said. "Shall we get a cab? or call for a car? It's a little way."
"No, I want to walk. The fresh air might help." Madonna replied and Carlos nodded.
It took them around forty minutes to arrive at the police station. Along the way people stared at them, whispered and a few paparazzi took pictures. Madonna kept her eyes downcast and gripped Carlos' hand. He glared at people who stared too long and the photographers. It was a relief once they were inside. The two bodyguards waited in the reception area, while CSI Oates and another woman - a middle-aged red head called Detective Grimes led Madonna and Carlos away to a room.
The Detective and CSI went through what would happen during the lineup and Carlos noticed Madonna getting paler and paler, nodding as she listened.
The all turned to look at the glass, through which Madonna had been reassured no one would be able to see her. Eight men walked out, each holding up a number and Madonna stumbled back, nearly tripping over a chair as she moaned, looking horrified.
"M, are you ok?" Carlos grabbed her elbow and put an arm around her.
"Mrs Leon, do you recognise any of these men?" Detective Grimes had a hard voice, but was trying to sound softer.
"Could you tell us the number please?"
"Both of them are there." Madonna said, staring at the lineup.
Detective Grimes, CSI Oates and Carlos all looked at each other, equally stunned. They had expected Madonna to maybe pick out one of the men, not both of them. Madonna moved away from them all, walking right up to the glass. She stared at the two men, who even happened to be standing next to each other. Flashes of memory ran through her head. Talking and laughing and drinking at the party in the bar, the hotel room, having her clothes stripped off, feeling too fuzzy to stop them or even care what they were doing to her, constantly being given drinks, having her face smashed into a medicine cabinet. It was almost too much for her. The silence in the room was a heavy one, as they all waited for her to speak. Madonna eventually looked back over her shoulder.
"Five and six." She said and the Detective scribbled the numbers down.
"Are you absolutely sure, Mrs Leon?" CSI Oates asked and Madonna nodded.
"I am sure."
"Thank you, Mrs Leon. Myself and CSI Oates appreciate that must have been hard for you." Detective Grimes said.
"What happens now?" Carlos asked, a protective arm around Madonna's waist.
"We take them in for questioning. Also we will get search warrants for their residence and collect any evidence, then potentially ask Mrs Leon back in for questioning and take it from there." CSI Oates said.
"But we will be kept in the loop?" Carlos half asked.
"You will be." CSI Oates said. "Again, thank you for today, Mrs Leon." She looked at Madonna gratefully and Madonna nodded, still looking troubled.
Carlos led Madonna away, down the hallway towards the exit. CSI Oates and Detective Grimes watched them leave.
"That poor woman. She looked rattled." Detective Grimes said, looking sympathetic.
"So would you, if you'd been kidnapped, drugged and abused." CSI Oates replied. Both women watched Carlos lead Madonna away, with their bodyguards in tow.
When they got home, Madonna went straight up to her room, through to the bathroom and couldn't strip off and get in the shower fast enough. Carlos followed her, knowing where she would be going.
"This has to stop M." He said, getting into the shower fully clothed.
"I'm just having a shower!" Madonna almost yelled, frantically scrubbing.
"You've rubbing yourself raw!" Carlos tried to grab Madonna's arms.
"Stop it! Get off of me!" Madonna struggled with Carlos, who was trying to stop her scrubbing herself without hurting her.
"I am trying to help you, M. Please, stop struggling."
"Get out of the shower, Carlos." Madonna said, pushing him back, nearly through the door to the cubicle, which was open.
"No. I won't let you do this to yourself."
"I will scream the house down if you don't get out." Madonna said, glaring at him with tears in her eyes.
Carlos backed out of the shower, holding both hands up defensively. "Ok, ok, I'm going." He said and left the bathroom, closing the door.
A few minutes later, Madonna walked into the room, soaking wet and completely naked. Her long, wavy blonde hair was slicked to her body. Carlos lay on his back on the bed and Madonna went over to him and lay alongside him.
"M, you're going to freeze." Carlos said, looking at her, wet and curling into him.
"I don't care."
"I do." Carlos got a towel and dried Madonna as she lay on the bed.
"Do you still find me attractive?" Madonna asked, lying on her back, looking up at Carlos. She looked fragile, like she might break and he realised she'd lost weight.
Carlos kissed Madonna, in both a loving and hungry way. "Of course I do M."
End of Part 12...
Carlos kissed Madonna's bare shoulder, as he sat up and wrapped both arms around her, grazing a breast. They'd just made love for the first time since she had been attacked and she felt more relaxed then she had done in a while. Madonna smiled, turning and kissing him over her shoulder.
"I hope they find my rings...it feels like kind of a betrayal to you that Im not wearing them." Madonna said, holding her hand out.
"If they don't, I can always get you new ones M."
"But they were personal. You had them both inscribed, Carlos." Madonna frowned, sitting back in bed, so she could see him properly and not just over her shoulder.
"I can get you new rings and have them inscribed. You can pick out the rings and and we can both decide on what to have inscribed. If your rings aren't found." Carlos suggested. Madonna opened her mouth as though to say something, then closed it. "I know how much you love those rings, M, and I am sure they will turn up."
"I hope so." Madonna touched the faint red marks around her wrists and Carlos looked at them.
"The marks are going down. And the bruises on your body."
Madonna frowned, sliding out of bed ad quickly putting a short pale pink cotton gown on and doing the belt up. "Oh god, please don't tell me you were checking my injuries, because that really has killed the mood."
"Not intentionally. I just happened to notice." Carlos said.
Madonna rolled her eyes. "I feel like I'm being processed all over again."
"M, I love you. I want those bruises to disappear, along with the cut on your face and the marks around your wrists."
"Do you think once they go, that's it? I'll be all better?" Madonna said sarcastically.
"No I don't. But it's a start. I was thinking it would make life just a little easier for you, having no physical scars to look at. I'm not naive, M, I know it's going to take quite some time for you to get over this."
"It would have been easier if they'd killed me."
Carlos frowned. "Don't say that! Don't you dare say that! I love you! Lola loves you!"
"I didn't say I want to die, I just said it would have been easier."
"Don't say it. Don't think it M. What is you've said before - 'easy doesn't make you grow'?"
"Yeah, but I don't need to be completely fucking abused to the point I don't feel safe in a city I love to grow!!" Madonna screamed and Carlos sat back, like he'd been slapped.
"Scream and shout all you want M. If it makes you feel even a bit better, then I'm glad." Carlos said quietly.
"Oh my god, you are so frustrating!" Madonna said, red-faced.
"Why? Do you want me to yell back at you?"
Madonna got up and grabbed some clothes off a nearby chair. "Don't fucking analyse me, Carlos! I pay enough money for someone to do that!"
"Where are you going?"
"I want to be on my own."
"Stay. Talk to me."
"Carlos." Madonna held up a hand. "Please." She grabbed her bag and a coat and left. Carlos heard her go downstairs, then looked out the window, and saw her car leave the garage.
Madonna went and picked Lourdes up from school early. She lied to the teacher, saying she had a dentist appointment and had to leave early.
"Mommy, you never told me I had the dentist today." Lourdes frowned, as Madonna strapped her into the carseat she'd moved into the passenger seat.
"You don't, baby." Madonna said, getting into the car. "Mommy needs cheering up. I thought we could do something together."
"You lied!" Lourdes' eyes were wide.
"It's naughty really, Lola. Promise me you won't tell your teachers or friends."
"I promise mommy." Lourdes said, smiling. "Daddy?"
"You can tell daddy." Madonna said, thinking Carlos wouldn't be too happy, but not caring for the time being.
"Where are we going?"
"How about the beach?" Madonna said, already driving to the Hamptons.
"Yay!" Lourdes clapped her hands, looking delighted and Madonna smiled.
It took them just under two and a half hours to get there. They played I spy and Madonna put on some audio books for Lourdes to listen to and she fell asleep for part of the journey. When Lourdes woke up she was wide awake and Madonna took her to a bakery for a treat, then they went to the beach. Madonna and Lourdes kicked off their shoes and rolled up their trousers and ran down to the water. It was a little cold, but they had run running in and out of it, splashing each other. After a while they sat on a blanket on the sand, letting their lower legs and feet dry in the sun. Madonna bought them ice-creams and drinks for the journey back.
"I like naughty mommy." Lourdes said, getting ice-cream all around her mouth. Madonna laughed.
"Are you eating that, or wearing it?" She asked and the little girl grinned.
Madonna got some tissues out and dabbed at Lourdes as she ate her ice-cream.
"Mommy, are you happy now?"
"Very much, Lola." Madonna smiled, feeling more relaxed, even though she knew another argument with Carlos was going to happen when they got home.
"Good." Lourdes said.
"Where the hell did you get too?" Carlos asked, when Madonna returned with Lourdes.
"Daddy, it's not nice to say hell. Mommy needed cheering up, so we went to the beach." Lourdes said breezily.
Carlos looked surprised, and like he was about to get angry.
"Lola, why don't you go and play upstairs for a bit, so daddy and I can talk?"
"Oh-kaay." Lourdes said. She stopped halfway up the stairs and looked down at Carlos. "Daddy, don't be mad at mommy. She was sad and I made her happy." Lourdes said, then ran all the way up to her room.
"Let me have it." Madonna tilted her chin up, ready to get a telling off.
Instead of yelling at her, Carlos hugged her. "I was worried when I saw you driving off, about where you would go." Madonna was surprised that he hugged her at first, then relaxed into it and held him.
"I know it was reckless, but I just wanted to spend some time with Lola."
"What if you were spotted? What did you tell her school?"
"That she had the dentist." Madonna replied and Carlos tried not to laugh.
"Did you have a good time?"
"Yeah. It was worth it, even if her school finds out and I get a telling off." Madonna said.
"I'm sorry if I upset you earlier." Carlos said, looking regretful.
Madonna shook her head. "I'm really moody lately, up and down. I am sorry Carlos. You have been - you are being amazing. This is putting a strain on our marriage." She said and he nodded, rubbing the back of his neck.
"Maybe we had sex too soon?"
"Christ, no. I wanted too, Carlos, you never forced me. If I waited until I was perfectly fine, it wouldn't be fair on either of us." Madonna said, waving her hand dismissively. "I was just being moody. And how did you know I'd gone somewhere?"
"I thought you would pick Lola up and it doesn't take hours to get her home from school." Carlos said. "I was just worried more than anything."
"I wouldn't put our daughter in danger." Madonna said and Carlos nodded.
"So you aren't mad at me?" Madonna chewed her lower lip.
"Not really. You can make it up to me." Carlos said, smiling and Madonna laughed.
End of Part 13...
Madonna's face broke out into a smile and there were tears in her eyes as she held her phone to her ear. It looked like she was relieved. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" She put her fingers to her lips and Carlos looked confused. "I can come and get them. Now, if that's ok?" Madonna hung up the phone and jumped up and down clapping her hands.
"Don't keep me in suspense...what is it?" Carlos asked, smiling at how happy Madonna looked.
"They found both my rings!" Tears of happiness and relief streamed down her cheeks.
Carlos wrapped his arms around Madonna, nuzzling his nose into her neck and Madonna held on to him, smiling over his shoulder.
"I'm so happy for you M. I know it was causing you a lot of stress." Carlos said, when they finally stopped hugging.
"Do you wany to come with? I mean, you can go to work if you want...I take up enough of your time lately - " Carlos cut Madonna off with a very passionate kiss. " - Oh." Madonna looked taken aback, but smiled, touching her lips. "Kiss me like that any more and we might not make it to the police station..." She said and he laughed.
"No, we need to go. I know how important the rings are to you. And you don't 'take up my time', M. You're my wife. I would rather spend time with you than anyone else." He said and she smiled.
"Let's go - it feels weird not wearing those rings."
When they arrived at the police station and Madonna spotted CSI Oates, she almost ran towards her. CSI Oates handed Madonna a little ring box and opened it, handing it to her.
"We found them in their apartment. I took the liberty of having them professionally cleaned for you and the jeweller put them in the box for me."
"Were they dirty? Did they have blood on them or something?" Madonna frowned.
"Oh, no. I just thought it might be nice for you to have clean rings on your finger. We don't know where they have been until we found them."
"How much do I owe you?" Madonna asked, routing through her bag for her purse.
"Nothing. Someone at Tiffany owed me a favour." CSI Oates smiled.
"Thank you so much, you have no idea how happy I am that you found these!" Madonna smiled, her eyes filling with tears, as she took the rings out of the box and slid them both back on her wedding finger.
"You're most welcome." CSI Oates said, as Madonna put the empty box in her bag.
"Have you made any progress with the case?" Carlos asked, a protective hand around Madonna's waist.
"I have some more good news, actually. The videos have been completely destroyed." CSI Oates said quietly and Madonna raised her eyebrows.
"Are you sure?" She asked and the CSI nodded.
"After extensive interrogation. We seized their phones and laptops. After we copyed everything we needed from them to our systems, we were granted permission to destroy them."
"But you still have the videos on your system." Madonna said in a small voice.
"Yes, but this case is very restricted. The only people who watch them are those of us working on the case. We haven't even talked about the case within the department to anyone who isn't involved with it, so they aren't aware the videos exist." CSI Oates said, and it sounded like she and her co-workers were taking it very seriously.
"When...when this is over, will the videos be completely destroyed? I don't want there to be the slightest risk they will leak. My daughter should never have to see that." Madonna said, looking worried.
CSI Oates nodded. "After this case has gone to court and a verdict has been served. Literally the same day, we will destroy them."
"Thank you. And for my rings and having them cleaned." Madonna forced a smile, even though she felt nervous as the sound of court being mentioned.
"Again, you're welcome." CSI Oates smiled, then left Carlos and Madonna.
"You look worried." Carlos said, as he walked her out to the car.
They got in the backseat and the bodyguard drove them away. Madonna rubbed her forehead with her hand.
"Court." She said simply, not looking at Carlos.
"I will be with you."
"That's sweet and all Carlos, but I have to stand in that dock on my own, face a room full of people and recount what happened on the worst night of my life." Madonna said softly, looking at him. "I wasn't just abused. I was humiliated."
"People doing jury service aren't allowed to talk about cases outside the courtroom." Carlos said and Madonna laughed.
"You really think with a case involving me they won't?"
"Maybe they will have to sign something, because you're high-profile." Carlos said optimistically.
"Jesus christ, I hope so. This is that one time I can do without the judgement of everyone else." Madonna replied. "I'm glad I have you to look on the bright side for me. Because I can't right now." She touched her lips to his and he felt her tears on his face.
"At least you have your rings back, and they are nice and clean." Carlos said, holding her hand out and Madonna smiled down at it.
"Yes, you're right."
"I expect Sachie will more than prepare you for court. She has done in the past." Carlos said and Madonna nodded.
"She would make a good sergeant major in the army." Madonna managed a small smile and Carlos laughed.
"Yeah. She kind of scares me a bit."
"Good. Maybe she will terrify those guys in court." Madonna replied, daring to feel a little hopeful and Carlos nodded, kissing her cheek and squeezing her hand.
End of Part 14...
Madonna was in the calm room that evening, lying on the floor like a starfish, with her arms and legs spread out wide and her eyes closed. There was soothing music of gentle waves crashing on in the background and candles all around the room were lit. She had been finding it hard to relax before she went to bed, and Carlos had suggested Madonna use the calm room to see if it helped. When she felt relaxed, Madonna found her mind drifting off to the party. It all came flooding back to her - the two guys talking to her, buying her drinks (that she didn't see being laced, because they were very sneaky about it), then dancing with her and eventually taking her back to the hotel. Madonna even remembered glancing over at a girl on reception, who barely hid a look of digust as she was walking past with the guys. Once in the room Madonna remembered being given more drinks (laced) and dancing, being groped. She remembered a brief moment between drinks where she was almost lucid and it all felt very wrong. Then having her head smashed into a medicine cabinet when she tried refusing drinks. Madonna remembered sniffing a little coke from dark hair's hand. She had been forced down onto her knees and made to give the blonde guy a blow job. While she was doing that, the guy with the dark hair was snorting coke off the table, drinking from a bottle, then turned his attention to her. He caressed her bum and ran his hands up over her breasts, gripping them hard.
"You are going to be one memorable fuck." Dark hair had whispered in her ear. He had then pulled her away and made her blow him, while his friend drank, took some pills and snorted some coke.
Blonde hair grabbed Madonna as he lay on the sofa, forcing his dick inside her, smiling over her shoulder at dark hair, who was even rougher in forcing his way in her bum. She cried out, but was pretty numbed from the drink and drugs. Their hands were all over her, pressing her skin hard. Dark hair nibbled her ear and licked it, blonde hair grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled her down for a kiss, forcing his tongue in her mouth so violently, that she had to swallow the bile that rose fast. It seemed to go on for ever, but when they both came, they tossed her to the floor, like a doll they were momentarily tired of. Madonna was on her hands and knees, drunk, drugged, naked. She saw her clothes scattered on the floor, ripped from where they'd been in a rush to get her naked.
"I don't know how that husband of yours lets a pretty little thing like you out of his sight...I would never." Blonde hair said, grabbing a handful of her hair.
"Stop grabbing my hair! You're hurting me!" Madonna wailed. She even reached up and shoved him.
Dark hair slapped her. "Don't you dare, you little slut." He grabbed a straight-backed chair and made her sit on it. Blonde hair bound her wrists with several cable ties. They were what would leave the fierce red marks around her wrists.
"Fiesty cunt, aren't you?" Blonde hair smiled and Madonna just glared at him. "What, no come back?" He held his hands out. "Come on, don't be shy. You weren't just now, when you were fucking us. Or sucking us off."
"It's not like I had a choice." Madonna replied. "Let me go. I won't tell anyone."
Dark hair laughed. "Yeah, sure you won't." He tipped a little coke on his hand and offered it to her and she shook her head, so he grabbed her hair and smashed her face into his hand.
"Drink this." Blonde offered her a drink and Madonna's nose hurt and she drank it and felt the room tilt. "Are you going to behave?" He kneeled down in front of her and she nodded, smiling, her head feeling hazy. Blonde hair cut the cable ties, after several minutes and she had horrible red marks on her wrists. Despite the recent drink and drugs, Madonna felt the pain and rubbed her wrists and began to cry.
"I think you need to lie down." Dark hair wrapped an arm around her and picked Madonna up, throwing her down on the bed.
Both of them got into bed, lying either side of Madonna. They ran their hands all over her, slipping their fingers inside her as tears spilled down her face and she groaned with the slight discomfort of it. She fell asleep after that. That was when dark hair and blonde hair must have took whatever they were recording on away, along with her clothes and disappeared - leaving her to wake up alone and disorientated the following morning.
Madonna's eyes flew open, staying wide with surprise that all her memories had suddenly came back to her in one go. She felt pinned to the floor momentarily - too scared to move. Then it was like Madonna had been winded badly. She sat up and started gasping for air, really struggling to breathe, clutching her throat.
"Mommy, mommy, come and play with me!" Lourdes opened the door and found Madonna gasping for breath and her smile gave way to a look of pure terror. "Mommy!!" The little girl whimpered, rushing over to her.
"Daddy...get...daddy..." Madonna gasped and Lourdes nodded and she heard her run downstairs and scream to Carlos.
Carlos appeared, with Lourdes standing in the doorway, looking worried. He ran over to Madonna and sat next to her, placing a hand on her back.
"Can't...breathe..." Were the only words Madonna managed to say.
"You're having a panic attack M." Carlos said softly. "Try to clear your mind and concentrate on your breathing. Count your breaths."
"All...memories..." Madonna frowned. "Can't...clear...m-mind."
"That's great that you have remembered everything, but you need to try to calm down M." Carlos continued speaking in the most soothing voice, even though it worried him seeing his wife in so much distress.
Eventually Madonna did calm down and Lourdes walked over to them. "Are you better now mommy?"
"I am now you and daddy are here, Lola. You are a good girl for getting him for me." Madonna pulled Lourdes onto her lap and kissed and cuddled her and Lourdes looked more relaxed.
"Thanks Lola." Carlos smiled, smoothing her hair and kissing the top of her head.
"Are you better so you can come and play with me?" Lourdes asked.
"In a minute baby. Why don't you go and pick out some toys for us to play with in your room and I will be along in a minute?" Madonna suggested.
"Ok." Lourdes smiled, toddling off.
Carlos looked at Madonna. "You remembered it all?" He asked and she nodded.
"Yes. I was relaxed for a while, then it all came back to me. It's a little much. I woke up and couldn't breathe. It felt like I was actually there. It was such a real memory." Madonna said, her voice wobbling as she took a deep breath.
"Maybe you should make a statement." Carlos said.
"Yeah. I want to talk to Sachie first though." Madonna replied.
After taking Lourdes to school the following day, Madonna and Carlos were sat with her lawyer, Sachie Hattori in the kitchen, drinking coffee while Madonna described her memory of that fateful night. Carlos looked horrified, and Sachie had the usual deadpan expression she wore when anyone spoke to her.
"Oh my god." Carlos said, running both hands through his hair when Madonna had finished.
Sachie looked at him, then Madonna. "When you are giving your statement Madonna, choose something in the room and look at it. Focus on it, and speak without hesitation. Try to keep your chin up and your voice steady."
"With all due respect Sachie, did you just hear what she said?" Carlos looked amazed the lawyer could seem so indifferent.
"With all due respect Carlos, I am a lawyer. It is horrific what Madonna went through, truly, but I am here to advise in a legal capacity." Sachie turned to Madonna. "I don't mean that to sound cold or uncaring."
"It doesn't, I understand." Madonna said, drinking some of her coffee.
"I am advising you to keep your chin up, voice steady and focus on something in the room, because it will help you when this case goes to court. The easy part is saying all that in a police station, where they can stop and start the tape and give you breaks if you need them, Madonna. In a court that isn't possible."
"Is there any way the court can be closed to the public?" Carlos asked.
"The jury is made up of the public." Madonna said, looking at him.
"I will have to see what judge you get, they may decide to close it off to the public anyway, due to it being a high-profile case. And the jury will have to sign secrecy papers." Sachie replied.
"I have another meeting with a client, Madonna, then I will meet you at the police station later if that's ok?" Sachie got up and put papers in her bag.
"Thanks you." Madonna walked her to the door.
"You were very brave." Carlos said, looking at Madonna proudly, but she just looked at him and walked away.
End of Part 15...
Carlos woke up before Madonna the following day and watched her sleep. She looked so still and peaceful and he planted a very soft kiss on her forehead. The cut running alongside her hairline, down her face was fading, along with the marks on her wrists and the bruises on her body had all but gone. Madonna's eyelids twitched and she opened her eyes.
"Sorry, did I wake you?" Carlos asked.
"No." Madonna smiled lazily, sitting up as she opened her eyes and yawned. "Are you alright? You look...troubled."
"I should have been there to protect you." Carlos replied, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Neither of us knew what was going to happen. You can't always be with me, Carlos. It was just very very bad luck." Madonna said, smoothing his cheek. "I don't want you to beat yourself up over it."
"But if I had been with you, they wouldn't have approached you." Carlos replied, looking at Madonna with sad eyes.
"We probably would have split up to talk to people. My drinks could still have been laced at the very least. If anyone should feel guilty, it should be me. As much as I love you and Lola, I wanted a night out." Madonna sighed.
"You deserve nights out. There is no reason for you to feel guilty, M. You look after us and work hard." Carlos replied.
"I don't think I'm going to want a night out ever again. Not without you at least." Madonna said, kissing his neck, wrapping her arms around Carlos, pressing herself into him. He took one of her hands and kissed it, glancing back over his should at her.
"Eventually you might M, when you feel stronger again."
"This is too soon." Madonna chewed her thumbnail, looking at the letter on the coffee table. It told her when the court date was, which was in a couple of weeks.
Sachie was sat perched on the edge of the sofa next to her, bolt upright like a dancer. Carlos had gone to pick Lourdes up from school, and to give them some space.
"To be honest Madonna, there is never a good time for court. The least time you have to overthink it, the better." Sachie replied.
"You don't have to get up and say what I have to say."
Sachie nodded. "Granted. By I will lay down the floor for you. You're not alone in there, Madonna. Carlos will also be there. And after hearing your statement, I don't know a jury in the world who wouldn't sympathise with you. They will get what they deserve." She said the last part with determined aggression.
"It's not necessarily all that I'm worried about."
"I'll get a press restriction inside the court and see what I can do about them keeping a distance outside too." Sachie said, making a note of that in her notepad. "I might not be able to do as much outside the court as inside, but I will try."
"Thank you." Madonna looked grateful.
"Do you have any other concerns I can help with?" Sachie asked.
"Not that I can think of."
"Ok. If you do, please try to tell me sooner rather than later, so I can sort them out for you."
"Madonna, you sat and told me and Carlos. You were recorded at a police station. A courtroom is just a slightly bigger place, with a few more people. I believe in you." Sachie said. "Find a spot - or a person and fixate on it when you deliver your statement. If you don't feel confident, act confident. But not too much. It's perfectly fine if you get emotional, or cry. That's understanding. You have Judge Cartwright - a female judge who has sat on plenty of cases similar to this one."
Carlos returned then with Lourdes, who ran in and climbed up onto Madonna's lap.
"Lola! Madonna is trying to talk to Sachie." Carlos half-heartedly scolded her, it was hard for him to be even a little annoyed with his daughter.
"It's fine." Madonna said, rearranging Lourdes in her lap. "Did you have a good day at school, Lola?"
"Yeah!" Lourdes said, nodding, but looking at Sachie. "Are you mommy's friend?"
"Yes." Sachie smiled warmly, deciding against trying to explain her profession to someone so young.
"Do you want to come and see my room, Sachie?" Lourdes jumped down from Madonna's lap, holding her hand out.
"That would be nice." Sachie said, standing up and taking Lourdes' hand, looking from Carlos to Madonna and they both nodded, looking amused.
Lourdes took Sachie upstairs and showed her her bedroom and her books and toys. Madonna and Carlos went up with her and eventually Lourdes lost interest in the lawyer and started to play.
"I have a daughter and a son." Sachie said, looking at Madonna with an uncharacteristically warm expression.
"How old are they?"
"Daiki is eight and Aiko is six." Sachie replied.
"We're hoping to give Lola a brother or a sister soon." Carlos replied and Sachie smiled, looking at Madonna knowingly.
"I'm all done here, if you are?"
"Yes, thanks for everything."
Sachie raised a hand on her way out. When she was out of earshot, Carlos looked at Madonna.
"I can imagine her being really strict as a mother."
"There's nothing wrong with that."
"I couldn't be that strict with Lola." Carlos replied, looking at Lourdes playing with her toys on the floor.
"No." Madonna smiled down at her daughter.
"What was that look Sachie gave you when I said about giving Lola a brother or sister?"
"There was a look?" Madonna lied.
"Maybe not." Carlos said and when he walked away, Madonna looked down at her stomach, placing both hands on it.
End of Part 16...
Set in 1998. Madonna has been married to Carlos Leon since before the filming of Evita began.
Slowly Madonna opened her eyes. She looked up at the ceiling and felt really groggy, squinting. Madonna sat up with a start and realised she was in a strange room - it looked like a hotel room. She frowned, not remembering how she got there, or even what she had done the previous evening. Madonna swung her legs round and got out of bed, looking down at her completely naked body. There were some bruises and red marks around her wrists, that she rubbed because they suddenly felt sore. Madonna pushed her long wavy blonde hair out of her face, and looked around the room for her clothes, then in the wardrobe. She frowned when she couldn't find any, and found it stranger still that she hadn't brought a bag or anything with her. Madonna found plenty of half empty and empty bottles of everything ranging from wine to Jack Daniels. What disturbed her the most was the glass coffee table next to the sofa that was covered with all different drugs - coke, tablets and even needles. All the colour drained from her face and Madonna didn't know what to do.
"Hello? Is anyone here?" Madonna asked in a small, scared voice, walking around, in the bathroom.
There was a glass medicine cabinet that had had something smashed into it, because all the glass was still in it, but shattered and there were a few drops of blood on it. Madonna caught her reflection in the mirror and touched a cut running down the side of her hairline, not too far from her right eye.
"Oh my god." Madonna gasped, feeling nauseous. She quickly put up the toilet seat and was sick. She was sick for so long, it felt like she was practically throwing up her organs. Madonna wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and sank down from her knees until she was lying on the floor, curled around the toilet. She knew she had to get out of that place, and Madonna had to use all her strength to will herself to move. She crawled into the bedroom, looking around for a phone. By chance, she spotted her phone under the bed. There was nothing else belonging to her, so clearly she had been robbed and the phone must have fell out of a bag she'd had at some point. Madonna picked up her phone and with her hands trembling, found Carlos' number.
"M, where the hell did you end up last night?? I was worried when you didn't come home! I tried calling and sending you messages. It took ages to get Lola to bed, because she wanted you." Carlos sounded frantic.
Merely hearing his voice was too much for her and Madonna burst into tears. "I - I don't know what happened to me...or where I am...help me! Help me Carlos..."
"You don't know what happened? What do you mean M? Are you hurt?"
"I can't remember last night." Madonna's voice wobbled.
"How much did you drink?"
"I don't know. I feel so strange..."
"M, where are you? Look around the room, see if there is something with the name of the hotel on it. I can come and get you."
Madonna eased herself up and sat on the bed and saw a menu with the name of the hotel on it and read it out to Carlos.
"I'll be there soon. Don't go anywhere."
"I can't. They took my clothes, I must have had a bag at some point, I found my phone under the bed."
"Ok M. I'll call the police as well."
"No! They might get here before you. I'm naked. I have bruises and a cut on my head and marks around my wrists."
"Jesus Christ." Carlos muttered into the phone, rubbing his forehead with worry.
"What if whoever did this to me comes back? I'm so scared, Carlos." Madonna said in a small voice.
"Find something you can use as a weapon and hide M. I won't be long, I promise."
"Ok." Madonna said and she looked around when they both hung up. She grabbed one of the empty bottles and hid in the wardrobe, waiting for Carlos.
Not that long after she'd phoned Carlos, there was a knock at the door.
"M? It's me, Carlos. M?"
Madonna scrambled out of the wardrobe, putting the empty bottle down and opened the door a fraction. Carlos stood on the other side and looked worried when he saw her. She opened the door wider and he went in, closing it behind him. Madonna started to cry and Carlos looked at the marks on her wrists, the cut on her face and bruises and hugged her. She held on to him as though someone might try to take him away from her.
"Here are your clothes." Carlos said, hading Madonna a bag and she sniffed, smiling through her tears, but still looking incredibly vulnerable.
"There was no-one here when you woke up?" Carlos half asked, wandering around, while Madonna got dressed. She frowned, looking at him.
"You think I cheated on you?"
"When you didn't come home last night, I didn't know what to think." Carlos replied quietly.
"Look around, Carlos. Look at the drugs on the table, all the drink, my injuries...does that look like my kind of night?!" Madonna asked angrily.
"No. M, I'm sorry."
"I wouldn't cheat on you." Madonna said, looking hurt.
"What's the last thing you remember?" Carlos asked, changing the subject.
"Saying goodbye to you and Lola last night." Tears slid down Madonna's cheeks.
"You can't remember the party at all?" Carlos asked and Madonna shook her head.
"No. Or whatever happened after." Madonna looked at the table covered with drugs and the bottles. "I need to lie down." She said and lay on top of the messy bed.
"I need to call the police and an ambulance, M. You were obviously drugged." Carlos said, sitting on the bed next to Madonna, smoothing hair away from her face and she nodded.
"I don't feel so good Carlos." Madonna said, curling up on her side, wrapping her arms around herself.
"Are you going to be sick?"
"No. I was really sick before I found my phone and called you. I just feel weird. Spaced out." Madonna said, hardly able to keep her eyes open.
"M, stay awake. I don't want you to pass out."
"It's so hard." Madonna said, looking up at Carlos hopelessly.
"I know. But you have to try." He said, taking one of her hands and kissing it. Carlos let go of her hand briefly to call the police and paramedics, then held it again.
"Don't let me die." Madonna whispered, looking very pale as tears streamed down her face.
Carlos held her hand in both of his. It felt limp and cold and he pulled the covers up around Madonna and lay alongside her on top of them. Neither of them said another word, but just looked into each others' eyes as they waited for the emergency services.
The room was chaos when the paramedics, police and CSI arrived on the scene at the same time. They were followed by the hotel manager, staff that had been on the reception when Madonna had arrived and hotel security. Outside the hotel paparazzi were hanging around, having caught wind that a high-profile crime had happened. Security kept an eye on them to make sure they didn't try to enter the hotel, or get in the wayof people coming and going. The drugs were being photographed and boxed up as evidence, crime scene tape was put across the doorway to the room and Madonna watched it all happening, still feeling dazed and confused, frowning slightly and Carlos stayed by her side, watching her with concern.
"M? Are you ok?" He asked and she looked at him almost like he was a stranger and shook her head.
"I don't feel right." Madonna said, the colour once again draining from her face. "Take me home, Carlos. I want to go home. This doesn't feel right, being here."
"Do you remember something?" Carlos asked quietly and Madonna shook her head, hugging herself.
"It's not that I remember anything - it hurts my head if I try too hard. I just have a really bad feeling that something terrible happened here tonight." Madonna replied, frowning. "I can't explain it and I can't face talking to anyone."
"M you don't have to talk to anyone straight away. I'm sure they can take you to hospital before you have to talk to the police."
"It's not like I am going to be much help to anyone..." Madonna bit her lower lip, running a hand through her hair. She stopped, listening to a conversation one of the receptionists was having with a policewoman.
"M? What is it?"
"I feel sick."
"What did you hear?"
"That receptionist - she - she just said that I came in with two men. She thought I was really drunk." Madonna looked horrified.
"They must have drugged you before M, because you don't remember."
"How much did they drug me that I don't remember anything?" Madonna asked and she and Carlos looked at each other with a shared horror. She saw a policeman make his way over to her, and the room tilted and Madonna's eyes rolled back and she collapsed.
Madonna's eyes fluttered open and she initially squinted at the brightness of the lights in the room.
"Oh no, not again!" She groaned.
"M, it's ok. You're safe. In a hospital." Carlos said and she turned to look at him, then down at his hand holding hers and she took her hand away.
"Safe? Two men took me back to a hotel last night and I can't remember what they did to me, Carlos. And on top of that I have injuries and was drugged." Madonna looked so completely helpless and Carlos wished he could say or do something more to help her.
A female doctor joined them, followed by a female CSI, who had a silver briefcase and a camera on a strap slung over one shoulder.
"Aah, Mrs Leon, you are awake. I am Dr Thompson and this is CSI Oates." Dr Thompson introduced them both. She was a middle-aged woman with blonde hair pulled back in a bun at the nape of her neck and warm brown eyes with the beginnings of crows feet.
In contrast, CSI Oates had dark hair pulled back in a messy ponytail with a pen stuck in it, and was small and curvy, in contrast to how tall and willowy Dr Thompson was. "How do you feel, Mrs Leon?"
"Confused. Very confused." Madonna replied quietly.
"I ran some tests and there were a mixture of different drugs in your system..." Dr Thompson started, and listed them, while Madonna looked stunned and Carlos horrified. "...You were in and out of consciousness when the paramedics brought you in, Mrs Leon. But we pumped your stomach and gave you charcol and managed to make you sick, to get rid of all the poison in your system. You were very sick when this happened - when you came in."
"Oh. I thought I dreamed that. I'm sorry." Madonna looked up, colour flooding her cheeks, looking embarrassed.
"You have nothing to apologise for, Mrs Leon." Dr Thompson said in both a fierce, yet comforting tone. "CSI Oates here would like to take some pictures of your injuries, scrape your nails and run a rape kit, if that is ok with you?" Dr Thompson asked.
"No, it's not!" Madonna sat up suddenly, pulling her knees right up to her chest, rocking slightly. "I don't even know what happened to me last night - you said I was drugged repeatedly...don't you think I've been humiliated enough?!" Madonna yelled, tears streaming down her face.
"No one is trying to humiliate you, M, they are just trying to help you. And catch whoever done this to you." Carlos said calmly.
"I just want to go home! I want to see Lola!" Madonna said in a distressed way, looking at him.
"Is Lola your daughter, Mrs Leon?" CSI Oates asked softly and Madonna nodded. "How old is she?"
"I have two daughters - Celeste who is three and Betty who is eight." CSI Oates replied, smiling.
"We would like another child. A boy." Carlos replied, understanding that they were trying to keep Madonna calm so they would gain her trust. He held Madonna's hand, and the bone-crushing way she squeezed it let him know she wasn't there yet.
"Mrs Leon, we promise to be gentle with you. It won't take long. I can stay with you, whilst CSI Oates works." Dr Thompson said warmly, before all the talk of children went off on a tangent.
"No." Madonna shook her head like a child having a tantrum.
"M." Carlos said. "I'll wait just outside the screen. You aren't alone."
Madonna let go of his hand and wrapped it around her legs. "I just want to go home and not ever remember last night. Ever." More tears slid down her cheeks.
"There are two men out there, Mrs Leon and they could do the same to another woman - to more women if they aren't caught. The more evidence we get, the more chance we have of catching them." CSI Oates said.
"I don't feel safe." Madonna said, letting go of her legs and put them down.
"Are you going to let us help you?" Dr Thompson asked.
Madonna nodded, swallowing a lump in her throat, looking at Carlos, her eyes swimming with fresh tears.
"I'll be just outside the room, M." He said and she nodded as Dr Thompson pulled the curtain around the bed, after Carlos had stepped out of the room.
"Ok Mrs Leon, I am going to start by taking pictures of your injuries, then scraping your nails, taking a sample of your hair and finally doing a rape kit." CSI Oates said, as though they were having a perfectly normal conversation and Madonna nodded.
"Do you want me to stay with you?" Dr Thompson asked and Madonna nodded.
The doctor helped Madonna move her hospital gown, so CSI Oates could take pictures of the various bruises on her body. She also took pictures of Madonna's wrists and the cut running alongside her hairline. Madonna sat on the bed while scrapings from under her nails and a hair sample were both taken.
"Mrs Leon, could you please lie back on the bed and spread your legs? There will be some mild discomfort, I do apologise in advance." CSI Oates said and Madonna looked up at Dr Thompson, who nodded.
"Try to think of it as an additional smear test and try to relax." Dr Thompson said, watching Madonna visibly take a deep breath. She held her hand out and Dr Thompson took it, giving it a supportive squeeze.
"There, all done." CSI Oates announced, when she had finished and the last thing she done was take her gloves off and throw them in the bin, after closing her silver case, with all the samples from Madonna in it.
"When will...when..." Madonna couldn't get her words out, as she sat up, wiping tears away from her face.
"Tomorrow, Mrs Leon. I need to arrange a time for you to come back in and we can have a chat about the results." Dr Thompson said, and for the first time Madonna realised her accent was different - she was British.
"Thank you for that, Mrs Leon. You were very brave." CSI Oates said warmly. She looked at Dr Thompson. "I'll put a rush on the results and have them back to you before tomorrow afternoon."
"That would be great, thank you." Dr Thompson said and the CSI left them.
"Can I go home now?" Madonna asked, as Dr Thompson drew the curtain back and Carlos joined them.
"Mrs Leon, you have suffered extensive trauma. To be honest, I would like to keep you in overnight, just to keep an eye on you. I've held off the police, and told them you aren't fit enough to talk to them until tomorrow. I think it would be best if you got some sleep, let yourself start to recover physically, then you might start to remember things, Mrs Leon." Dr Thompson suggested.
"Is it ok if I stay with her - overnight?" Carlos asked.
"Of course it is."
"What about Lola?" Madonna looked at Carlos.
"She will be ok with the nanny. I'll give her a call."
"And tell her what?"
"That you were a little ill after the party." Carlos replied.
"Ok." Madonna said.
"If either of you need anything, I will be around. Ask one of the nurses if you can't find me." Dr Thompson said and they nodded, as she left them alone.
"You were very brave M." Carlos said, taking one of her hands and very tenderly kissing it.
"I feel humiliated." Madonna replied, looking up at him sadly. "And I'm not sure I want to remember." She took her hand away from him and turned over on her side, her back to Carlos. He frowned, reaching out at first to touch her, then taking his hand back. He opened his mouth to say something, but could think of nothing comforting to say and sat watching the gentle rise and fall of her body as she breathed.
End of Part 2...
It felt like it was going to be a very long day - one of the longest of Madonna's life. She left the hospital with Carlos and called her lawyer on the way to the police station. Even something as simple as leaving the hospital was tricky, with all the paparazzi hanging around like vultures. Madonna put a big pair of shades on and bowed her head slightly, so her long hair was in her face. Carlos and a couple of burly bodyguards had protected Madonna from them for the most part. Arriving at the police station was the same, but there seemed to be double the paparazzi. Only this time Madonna's lawyer - a small, slight Japanese woman called Sachie Hattori - one of the most formidable lawyers in all of NYC met them outside. She had a hand on the small of Madonna's back and kept yelling 'no comment' at questions and helped the bodyguards and Carlos keep the paparazzi back.
"I'll wait out here." Carlos said, when they arrived an an interrogation room.
Madonna took her shades off and looked at him. "I can't do this on my own. I can hardly remember what happened to me." She whispered, her voice faltering.
"You can do this M. I am literally on the other side of the door. Just tell them everything you remember, even if it's not a lot."
"I won't let them ask you anything you aren't comfortable with, Madonna." Sachie said, looking sympathetic, but sounding fierce and Madonna nodded, looking back over her shoulder at Carlos, as she followed Sachie into the interrogation room.
It felt to Carlos like he was waiting ages. He paced up and down in front of the door, then went to get a coffee. When he returned, he picked a paper up off the chair next to his that somebody had left and tried to read it. Carlos found it hard to concentrate after a while and put the paper down, sighing and drank some of the coffee. He ran a hand through his hair and thought about the conversation Madonna had overheard about two men taking her to the hotel room, and knew whatever she would remember was going to be horrific. Eventually Madonna came out of the room with Sachie. They spoke for a while, then Sachie said she would call her and to take care and left.
"How was it?" Carlos asked, holding Madonna's arms.
"I think they were frustrated because I couldn't remember a whole lot." Madonna replied quietly. Her eyes were red rimmed, like she had been crying. Carlos kissed her forehead and hugged her.
"I'm not interrupting am I?" A voice asked and they let go of each other and turned to face CSI Oates - the woman who'd processed Madonna at the hospital approached them.
"No." Madonna replied.
"You done really well in there, Mrs Leon." CSI Oates said supportively.
"Yes. I want to give you my card, in case you start remembering anything. And you can call me any time of the day or night, I'm on a swing shift, so I work most of the time." CSI Oates said, handing Madonna.
"Ok. Thank you." Madonna said, taking her card and looking at it, then putting it in her pocket.
Carlos led Madonna away and with the help of the bodyguards, they got her to the car and finally went home.
"Do you want something to eat or a lie down?" Carlos asked when they got in and Madonna shook her head.
"I need to have a shower. To be honest I'm not hungry." Madonna said, then hurried off upstairs before Carlos could say anything else.
She stripped off and went in the bathroom, closing the door behind her. Madonna gasped when she saw her reflection. The bruises on her body, the marks on her wrist and the cut going down the edge of her face, which she lightly traced a finger over. Madonna turned away quickly and went into the shower, closing the frosted glass door and turning the water on. She started cleaning herself and washed her hair, but Madonna stayed in the shower a lot longer, really scrubbing herself, trying to remember the previous night. The more she couldn't remember, the harder she scrubbed. Carlos knocked on the door, after Madonna had been in there for a while.
"M? Are you alright in there? You've been in the shower a while. M? M?" Carlos opened the door when there was no answer and went in the bathroom, opening the shower cubicle door and found Madonna scrubbing herself. "M, I think you have finished washing."
"No...I-I-I'm not clean enough...I need to get clean, I'm not clean..." Madonna muttered and continued scrubbing.
"M, stop." Carlos walked into the shower, even though he was fully-clothed and grabbed her arms. "M, stop - you are scrubbing yourself raw."
Madonna looked down at her arms and legs and saw red marks on them from where she'd been scrubbing too much. "I feel disgusting. Filthy. Like you won't want to touch me again, after - " Madonna stopped mid-sentance, blushing.
"None of this is your fault M. You were drugged. Nothing would ever make me not want to touch you again." Carlos replied, brushing a limp, wet strand of hair out of her eye. "I love you M. I'm going to help you get through this."
Madonna wrapped her arms around Carlos and he held her, smoothing her wet hair. "I'm so tired." She said into his chest.
"Why don't you sleep for a few hours? Then if you like, I can make you something to eat and we can go to the doctors. By the time we get home, Lola will be home from school."
"Yeah. That sounds good." Madonna looked at Carlos. "You realise you came in here fully dressed right?"
"I'm more concerned about you right now. But yes, I am aware." Carlos smiled, looking down at his soaked shirt and trousers. Madonna tried not to smile as she walked past him and quickly wrapped a towel around herself. She put on a pair of pyjamas and lay on the bed and was asleep within minutes. Carlos changed into some dry clothes and went down to the kitchen to see what he could make her to eat when she woke up.
"Welcome back Mrs Leon, I hope you are feeling a bit better." Dr Thompson said, when Madonna and Carlos sat down opposite her. "I will start off with the good news. You aren't pregnant and you haven't caught any sexually transmitted diseases."
"That is your idea of good news?" Carlos frowned.
"In this case, I'm afraid so." Dr Thompson replied.
"I was raped, wasn't I?" Madonna said in a flat voice.
"Yes." Dr Thompson replied. "By two men. Possibly at the same time."
"No." Madonna said, and the doctor and Carlos looked at her with concern. "That's not possible, is it? I mean, that means..." She trailed off, unable to say the obvious.
"There is no damage in either area, but you may feel raw or a little tender." Dr Thompson continued.
"I'm going to kill whoever did this to you." Carlos said fiercely.
"Stop." Madonna looked at him. "This isn't about you, or revenge. I need to know what happened to me, so I can start to deal with it."
"I know several really good therapists, I can give you their cards if you would like, Mrs Leon. I strongly recommend talking to someone about it." Dr Thompson suggested.
"It's fine, I already have a therapist, Dr Goldstein."
"She is a very good friend of mine. And a brillian therapist from what I hear." Dr Thompson said. "I think you would benefit from having additional sessions until your memory returns."
"Yes. Sure." Madonna said, tears sliding down her face.
"I'm so sorry, Mrs Leon. If there is anything I can do..." Dr Thompson said.
"What about her hair and under her fingernails? DNA?" Carlos asked.
"There hasn't been a match to anyone yet. But CSI Oates will be in touch when there is." Dr Thompson said.
"Thank you." Madonna said, then got up and walked out of the room in a daze, Carlos behind her and her bodyguards following them outside.
Neither of them said a word in the car on the way home, but Carlos held one of Madonna's hands in both of his and watched her lean her head against the window and gaze out of it at nothing in particular.
End of Part 3...
"Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" Lourdes ran over to Madonna with a big smile on her face and her arms wide open.
Madonna smiled, scooping her little girl up in her arms and kissing her cheek. "Hey baby, did you miss me?" She smoothed a few stray curls back from Lourdes' face and she nodded.
"Yeah! Was the party good?" Lourdes asked and Carlos watched Madonna, to see how she'd react, but her smile didn't falter.
"Not as good as being here with you and daddy." Madonna replied, kissing her cheek.
"Are you ok?" Carlos whispered in her ear and Madonna nodded, putting Lourdes down.
"I made you a picture mommy." Lourdes said, grabbing her little pink and purple backpack.
Madonna sat down, rubbing her forehead.
"M?" Carlos sat next to her, placing a hand on her shoulder, while Lourdes rummaged around in her backpack.
"I'm fine. Just a little tired I guess."
"Mommy, look! I made it for you!" Lourdes unfolded a piece of paper and handed it to Madonna.
On it was a scribbly crayon picture in all different colours, with glitter stuck to it in various olaces.
"That's you, and daddy and me." Lourdes pointed everyone out to Madonna.
"That's beautiful, Lola! I like all the colours and glitter." Madonna said, smoothing Lourdes' hair and kissing the top of her head.
"Are you on a pony?" Carlos asked, looking at the picture.
"Yes. The pony you and mommy are getting me for my birthday." Lourdes said casually, looking up at them both innocently.
Madonna was trying not to laugh and Carlos smiled.
"I think you are a little young, Lola, but maybe in a couple of years." Carlos said.
"O-kaaay." Lourdes sighed, taking her backpack upstairs.
Madonna finally laughed and Carlos smiled at her.
"It's nice to see you laugh."
"Well, that was so subtle." Madonna replied, looking at the picture. "I wish I had stayed in with you and Lola." She looked up at Carlos. "I feel so foolish for going out to that party now."
"Why? Because you wanted to have fun? What happened wasn't your fault." Carlos frowned.
"I know. But it turned into a nightmare that I can't even remember." Madonna sighed, standing up. "I should put this on the fridge." She said, holding up the picture and Carlos watched her walk away.
"Is Lola asleep? That took a while..." Carlos said, when Madonna finally joined him in bed.
"Tell me about it, she had a handful of books she wanted me to read to her." Madonna smiled and Carlos laughed.
"Are you sure you're ok M? You seemed a little...distant earlier."
"Yes, I'm ok." Madonna grabbed a book and opened it.
"That's it?" Carlos sat up.
"Do you want me to have a breakdown or cry?" Madonna looked at him.
"No. But I want you to talk to me."
"I haven't got anything to say."
"I don't want to go to sleep, ok Carlos?" Madonna said, closing her book and sighing.
"You're safe here, M. I am not going to let anything happen to you."
"That's just it, I'm not safe, am I? Whoever did this to me is out there." Madonna looked and sounded scared.
"Do you think they'll come after you?" Carlos asked.
"I don't know."
"Is that the only reason you don't want to sleep?"
Madonna tucked her hair behind her ears and shook her head, looking away from Carlos. "I am scared to remember. What I might remember."
"I'm right here, M. If you remember something and it scares you, wake me up. We can talk about it."
"You want to talk about a couple of guys raping me?" Madonna said, looking at Carlos fidget and try not to look uncomfortable. "That's what my therapist is for."
"Ok, but if you remember other things we could talk about it." Carlos said, and Madonna got out of bed. "Where are you going?"
"I need some space."
"M, you need to sleep."
"Stop telling me what I need Carlos, please!" Madonna snapped.
"I can't stop loving or caring about you, M."
"Just stop talking." Madonna said and she went into the bathroom and slammed the door, locking it. She slid down the back of the door to the floor and pulled her knees up to her chest. Madonna held out one of her wrists and touched the red marks. She closed her eyes and a flash of memory came back to her - being sat on a chair and having her wrists bound tightly behind her. There were a couple of voices she didn't recognise and Madonna opened her eyes and gasped. She got up and unlocked the door and saw Carlos standing on the other side, about to knock.
"I think I remember how I got these." Madonna held up her wrists together.
"If you want to talk now, or tomorrow, it's fine." Carlos said stiffly.
"Tomorrow?" Madonna half asked and he nodded. "I didn't mean to be so hard on you." She hugged him and Carlos held Madonna, burying his face in her hair.
"I know." He said.
End of Part 4...
"I guess we should talk. Unless you need to get to work?" Madonna asked, almost hopefully, when she and Carlos returned home after taking Lourdes to school.
"I'm not in a rush." Carlos said. "Have you remembered anything else?" He asked, following her into the kitchen.
"So that's a yes?"
"Carlos." Madonna gave him a look.
"Have you remembered something too graphic?"
"No. It's just a bit vague."
"Ok. Do you want something to drink?" Carlos asked, not wanting to push Madonna.
"Camomile would be great."
"I need to relax. Try to relax." Madonna sat down, fiddling with her hands.
Carlos made her camomile and grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and sat down, waiting patiently.
"I remember someone grabbing a handful of my hair and a blinding pain. The medicine cabinet in the bathroom was smashed, so that must be where I got this cut from." Madonna said, tracing her finger lightly down the cut.
"The police better catch who ever did this to you first, because if I do - " Carlos started, but Madonna held up her hand to silence him.
"No more violence. I can't take it. And there are two of them Carlos. They were clever enough to repeatedly drug me, take me to a hotel room and - " Madonna trailed off. " - I wouldn't want you to get into trouble for scum like that, Carlos. You're a father, think like one!" She yelled the last part and Carlos looked surprised.
"M, I just feel really strongly about them getting what they deserve." Carlos said, frowning.
"I just want to remember right now." Madonna replied in a small voice.
Carlos placed a hand over Madonna's on the table. "I know M. I know." He said quietly.
Madonna sat staring out the window at the grey sky and the rain lashing down against it.
"Madonna? Can you come and sit on the sofa and talk to me now?" Dr Goldstein asked in a soothing voice.
"Yeah, I guess." Madonna went back to the sofa and looked at her therapist as though she were looking right through her.
Dr Goldstein had been Madonna's therapist for ten years. She was a woman in her mid fifties who always wore tweed Chanel suits, orange horn-rimmed glasses and had her ash-blonde hair pulled back in a messy french twist.
"Is there anything else you remember, Madonna?" Dr Goldstein asked, pen poised above her notepad. She sat bolt upright, almost on the edge of her chair.
"You think I haven't told you everything too?" Madonna frowned, sounding icy.
"Carlos thinks you're not telling him everything." Dr Goldstein said.
"No. But all I remember so far is having my wrists bound and having my head smashed." Madonna said, running a hand through her hair.
"There is a way you could jog your memory."
"By going back to the hotel room."
"What?" Madonna looked at Dr Goldstein like she was crazy. "I can't - I can't go back there." She swallowed a lump in her throat.
"I appreciate it will be hard for you, but - "
"Hard? Hard is having a baby with no pain relief. I want to remember, Emily, I do - but going back to a place where I was basically tortured? I don't think I can do that. I will remember. Eventually." Madonna tried to sound convincing.
"Let's just say you don't. If it was the only way you could remember - would you go back?"
"Why are you doing this to me, Emily? Why are you being so hard on me?" Madonna asked with tears in her eyes.
"Tough love, Madonna. When something really traumatic happens that you can't deal with, the memories are repressed. Being in that hotel room might trigger something." Dr Goldstein explained herself.
"What if I remember everything, all at once?"
"Repressed memories don't work like that Madonna." Dr Goldstein crossed her legs. "What if the men who did this to you do it to someone else?"
"Are you saying I would be responsible for that?"
"No - "
"Don't use emotional blackmail." Madonna said, looking horrified.
"I'm not attacking you, Madonna. There is no need for you to be so defensive. I am merely making suggestions."
"Sorry." Madonna rubbed her forehead. "I haven't really been sleeping."
"Understandable. I can prescribe you something to help, if you like?" Dr Goldstein half asked.
"No! Thank you. I mean, after what happened, I don't want to take anything for a while. I don't know if all of my memories are repressed, or just gone because they kept drugging me." Madonna said quietly.
"Ok. I can make a list of more natural suggestions." Dr Goldstein said and Madonna nodded.
"That would be good thanks." Madonna replied.
"For the time being, I would also like to see you three times a week."
Madonna looked surprised. "What if I don't remember anything? I will be wasting your time."
"You would most certainly not be wasting my time Madonna. Even if you don't have any memories just yet, it's an emotional time. I want to keep a closer eye on you for now."
"Ok. Again, I'm sorry about snapping." Madonna said, taking the sheet of paper Dr Goldstein handed her with natural ways to go to sleep and folding it up, then putting it in her bag.
"It's not the worst thing I've seen in this room. There is nothing to be sorry for." Dr Goldstein waved her hand dismissively, smiling warmly and watched Madonna leave.
End of Part 5...
"I don't know if I want to bring Lola up here, in the city anymore." Madonna said quietly to Rosie.
After hearing what had happened to Madonna, Rosie had suggested they go for coffee and talk. Madonna didn't want to spend too much time out in public, so Rosie had invited her round to her place instead.
"But you love the city!" Rosie said, looking surprised.
"I know...but I don't feel safe here at the moment, Ro." Madonna said, gripping her mug when her hand trembled a little.
"Mo, they are going to catch them." Rosie said soothingly, placing a hand over Madonna's.
"Even if they know what they look like, I'm no help with my lack of memory. I sit and try so hard to remember sometimes." Madonna frowned, drinking some of her coffee.
"Is that a good thing to do, Mo? You'll just give yourself a headache or a migraine."
"Good. Then maybe I won't be able to sleep." Madonna smiled and Rosie groaned.
"You need to sleep."
"I'm too scared. What if - what if whoever did this to me finds out where I live?" Madonna asked, chewing her lower lip.
"Then they should be scared of your security team. And Carlos."
"Carlos wants to kill them."
"Can you blame him?"
"Aren't you angry at them, Mo?" Rosie asked, sipping coffee.
"I'm angry that I've lost a chunk of my life. I need to remember, so I can deal with it."
"Maybe if you find a way to relax, you might remember more - "
"Ro, I can't even sleep much at the moment." Madonna sighed.
"I meant like really relax - do some yoga, meditate, whatever it is that you're into and your memories might come back."
Madonna looked thoughtful. "That's actually not a bad idea. Better than what Dr Goldstein suggested.
"Going back to the hotel room." Madonna said and Rosie pulled a face. "I know. I'm saving that as an absolute last resort."
"If you did go there, Mo, and you wanted some support I can come with you." Rosie said and Madonna nodded.
"You're a good friend, Ro." She said, smiling over Rosie's shoulder when Rosie hugged her.
Madonna was walking home with two bodyguards, when another memory started coming back to her. The streets were crowded and her the bodyguards stayed close on either side of her - making her look small and doll-like, where they were so big. People did whisper and point when they saw her, but Madonna felt protected behind her big shades and with her security. A guy turned and looked over his shoulder at Madonna and she frowned, feeling strange when he smiled. She was sure she had seen his face before, maybe at this party she allegedly went too? Then hazy memories of being in a hotel room and him giving her drinks started to come back. Madonna stopped walking, feeling sick. The guy was quite a way in front now, and looked back over his shoulder at Madonna. She lifted her shades and looked at him, then he disappeared around a corner.
"M'am? Is everything ok?" One of the burly bodyguards asked and Madonna put her shades back down and nodded.
"Yeah, come on, I just want to get home."
When Madonna got home, she called Carlos. He was at work and she left a message on his phone. Then she pulled the card for CSI Oates and called her.
"CSI Oates, how can I help?" The woman sounded bubbly on the other end of the line.
"This is Madonna."
"Hi Madonna, how are you?" CSI Oates asked.
"I - I think I saw one of the guys that attacked me that night. In the street." Madonna's voice trembled.
"If I get you to come in, would you be able to describe him to our sketch artist?"
"You can come with your husband or a friend, if you would like the support." CSI Oates said kindly.
"Ok." Madonna said, biting her thumbnail.
"Just ask for me when you arrive and I'll have the sketch artist ready."
Madonna hung up and her phone rang. It was Carlos.
"M, are you ok?" He asked, sounding concerned.
"No. I have to go and describe this guy to a sketch artist." She said in a small voice.
"I'll come with you. Wait there, I'm on my way." Carlos said, then hung up.
"He had short, spiky blonde hair." Madonna was describing the man she'd seen to the sketch artist, with Carlos sat next to her.
"Like this?" The woman sketching asked and Madonna nodded.
"And a big nose, high cheekbones."
"Good, good." The sketch artist said, her pencil skimming over the paper.
"He had this nasty smirk..." Madonna frowned, and the memory of someone grabbing a handful of her hair and smashing her face into a medicine cabinet came back. This time she saw the spiky-haired guy over her shoulder and he whispered in her ear.
"If you pull anything like that again, it will be your throat, do you understand?" He said and she nodded.
"M? M?" Carlos asked
"Mrs Leon?" The sketch artist looked at her.
"This guy smashed my face into that medicine cabinet. And told me if I pulled anything like that again, it would be my throat." Madonna whispered, tears spilling down her face.
"If you want to take a break, that's fine." The sketch artist said kindly.
Carlos hugged Madonna. "It's ok M. I'm not going to let anything happen to you." He said, smoothing her long hair.
"I don't want to stop." Madonna sniffed, pulling back from Carlos, holding his arms, digging her fingers in.
"I think you're very brave." Carlos said, looking at her with admiration.
"I felt sick when I saw him. I wanted the ground to swallow me. I wanted to run so far in the opposite direction."
"But you didn't."
"Can we carry on?" Madonna turned to look at the sketch artist.
"Of course. Take your time Mrs Leon."
End of Part 6...
Madonna sat in the kitchen in the middle of the night, in the dark, nursing a cup of herbal tea. The only light that shone in was from the moon and stars and it was an eerie kind of light. The previous day a sketch of one of the guys had been passed around the media and circulated in general - to the hotel and the bar where Madonna had been that night and nearby businesses. She knew it should have made her feel slightly better, that something was being done, but both men were still out there and it didn't put her mind at rest. Even with Carlos whispering words of comfort in her ear frequently. He was trying his best, but she couldn't explain how she felt most of the time. Madonna was about to go back to bed, when she saw a shadow pass the door outside. There was a long net-curtain on the door, so she couldn't see through it and for several minutes Madonna was frozen. Then she ran upstairs to her room and shook Carlos.
"Carlos! Carlos! Wake up! Wake up Carlos! There's someone outside!" Madonna whispered fiercely, as she continued to shake him.
"M...you're dreaming..." Carlos said, slowly opening his eyes and yawned.
"No! I was down in the kitchen and someone walked past the door!" Madonna looked really worried.
Carlos sat up, wide awake. "Stay here, I'll go and look." He said, getting out of bed and garbbing a baseball bat the was under his side.
"I'm not letting you go down there on your own!" Madonna frowned.
"Stay behind me M." Carlos said, knowing there was no use arguing with her sometimes and she nodded.
They went down the kitchen and Carlos stopped suddenly, Madonna nearly crashing into him.
"Did you go outside?"
"The kitchen door is open." Carlos said.
"I'll call the police." Madonna replied.
"No, wait. Let me check it out first. We don't want to waste their time." Carlos opened the door.
"What if someone is in the house?"
"I don't think there is, M. I'm just gonna check the garden."
"I'm going up to Lola." Madonna said, feeling uneasy.
"Ok. I'll be up in a minute." Carlos said, watching Madonna go back.
Madonna ran upstairs to Lourdes' room and found her fast asleep, cuddling a teddy bear and sucking her thumb. She smiled at the sight of her little girl, very carefully smoothing her hair and planting a kiss on her cheek. Madonna pulled the door and was about to go back down to Carlos, when he came back up.
"It was actually Danny, just checking outside. I told him not to leave the door open, that you were shook up after what happened." Carlos said, referring to one of their security team and Madonna breathed a sigh of relief, placing a hand on her chest.
"Oh god...for a minute there I thought - I thought - " She couldn't get her words out and he nodded, holding her.
"I know M." Carlos said over her shoulder. He put the baseball bat down and held her cheeks. "When they catch that guy based on the picture, it won't be long before they catch the other one."
"How do you figure?" Madonna frowned.
"They'll probably offer him a bargain if he gives the other guy up."
Madonna sighed. "This is so far from being over. I never thought of it, but not only do I need to remember, they both need to be caught and then I will be going to court."
"One step at a time M." Carlos said softly.
"I still feel disgusting."
"None of this is your fault, M. I wish you didn't feel that way." Carlos pressed his forehead to hers, looking into her eyes.
"I wish we could just disappear. You, me and Lola."
"We can have a break and go somewhere when this is all over. It would be something to look forward too."
"Yes." Madonna sighed, knowing that would be in the distant future.
The next day when Madonna was in a one on one yoga class with her personal trainer, she thought about what Rosie had said about it jogging her memories. It wasn't until she was lying on her yoga mat at the end of the session, with her eyes closed doing the relaxation that Madonna remembered more of that night. Madonna was in the bar, talking and laughing with two guys who she'd been talking to for a while - one had blonde spiky hair and the other mid-length black hair. They danced a bit and the guy with the dark hair handed her a cocktail, and Madonna accepted it, smiling and not realising he'd slipped something into it. Madonna sat bolt upright, her eyes open, gasping for breath.
"M, are you ok? I thought you fell asleep." Her personal trainer looked concerned.
"No, no - I have to go. I'm sorry." Madonna got up and quickly rolled up her mat and ran from the room, down the stairs and met her bodyguards and got into her car when one of them opened the door for her. "Change of plans. We're not going home." She told them the address of the police station. Madonna pulled her phone out of her bag and sent a message to her personal trainer, apologising for running out at the end of their session, and explaining why. She decided not to call Carlos, but called Sachie, her lawyer, to keep her in the loop.
It felt like deja vu to Madonna, sitting with the sketch artist, describing what the other guy looked like. She had a clearer image of him in her head than she'd had of the other guy. Madonna then went to see Carlos at work. He ran a gym and was talking to a woman about a membership when she arrived, and Madonna hung back, talking to one of her bodyguards, who'd gone in with her, while the other parked the car. Carlos spotted her and smiled, but continued to talk for several more minutes, before going over to her.
"Is everything ok M?" He kissed her and Madonna nodded.
"I've just been to see the sketch artist again. I remembered what the other guy looked like when I was doing the relaxation at the end of my yoga session."
"Are you ok? Why didn't you call me? You know I would have came." Carlos sounded almost disappointed.
"I didn't want to bother you."
"M, you aren't bothering me. I want to support you. I don't want you to go through any of this on your own."
"I know you didn't sleep last night, Carlos." Madonna said quietly.
Carlos rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. "After the whole back door being left open, I was a bit on edge I guess."
"You don't have to hide that from me."
"M, you have enough on your plate."
"At least I'm starting to remember." Madonna said, trying to sound a bit more upbeat.
"Yes. Hey, do you want to grab some lunch in a bit?"
"Are you sure you're not busy? You don't have to babysit me, Carlos." Madonna said and he shook his head.
"I want to just spend some time with my beautiful wife. No hidden agenda." Carlos held his hands up.
"Aren't you busy though?"
"I'm also my own boss. I can get people to cover a couple of classes."
"I'll meet you down in the car in a few." Carlos said, kissing Madonna's cheek and going behind the reception desk to rearrange a few things. Madonna watched him for a minute of so, smiled and went down to the car.
End of Part 7...
Madonna opened another bottle of wine and poured it down the sink. She had pulled all the bottles of wine and the few bottles of tequila out of the cupboard and grouped them next to the sink and one by one poured them away. Carlos went into the kitchen and frowned.
"M, what the hell are you doing?" He looked at her like she was crazy.
"You made me jump! I could have cut myself on a bottle!" Madonna stopped momentarily to glare at him.
"Some of that is mine you know, the tequila."
"I don't want it in the house. Put it somewhere I won't see it."
"What are you going to get rid of next? Everything in the medicine cabinet, because you were drugged?"
Madonna set the bottle down and turned to face Carlos. "That's not a bad idea..."
"Get a grip, Madonna, I was being sarcastic. We have a little girl, what if she needs something from that cabinet? Would you really be that selfish?" Carlos was yelling out of frustration.
"Don't you DARE accuse me of being selfish!" Madonna frowned, pointing a finger close to Carlos' nose.
"I'm really worried about you M." Carlos said quietly.
"I don't want any alcohol in the house."
"Why don't you just leave it? You don't have to drink it. Or at least give it to friends or staff or something. You're throwing money away."
"Money really isn't an issue at this point." Madonna laughed nervously.
"Your sanity is."
"Oh, you think I'm mental?" Madonna raised her eyebrows, looking at Carlos with her mouth hanging open. "Un-fucking-believable!"
"M, I never meant - "
"I think you did! It's too late to take it back now." Madonna gritted her teeth, putting her coat on and grabbing her bag.
"Where are you going?"
"I'm taking Lola to the park. At least she doesn't yell at me and piss me off!" Madonna said aggressively.
"M." Carlos touched her forearm and Madonna shook him off.
"Lola! Where are you baby? Let's go to the park!" Madonna called out in a sing song voice.
"Is daddy coming too?" Lourdes asked, appearing out of nowhere and Madonna kneeled down to put her little jacket on her.
"No sweetheart, he is busy."
"Ok." Lourdes shrugged, smiling.
The pair of them left with a bodyguard and Carlos sighed. He began putting the unopened bottles of wine and tequila back in the cupboard and getting rid of the empty ones.
When they returned from the park, hours later, Madonna seemed to be in a better mood. Lourdes ran off and played with the nanny and bodyguard and Madonna smiled, then went to find Carlos. He was sat in one of the rooms they'd nicknamed 'the calm room' and used it as a space to do gentle yoga and meditate. There were two mats in the centre of the room, big spider plants in all four corners, a small bookcase that contained various books on yoga, meditation and relaxation. On the windowsill and along the walls on the floor (though a safe distance from the bookcase and spider plants) were candles in various soft pastel colours. The walls were all white and the light curtains were cream. On top of the bookcase was an ipod classic sat in an ipod dock, filled with lots of varied music that relaxed both Carlos and Madonna.
There was no music on and Carlos sat cross-legged in the middle of the room, his eyes closed, forefingers touching thumbs at his knees. Madonna walked over to him, sat on her knees and kissed Carlos. She held both his cheeks and he opened his eyes.
"I'm sorry." She whispered.
"Me too, M. I didn't mean to yell at you. It was frustration. That I can't do more to help." Carlos said and Madonna slid her hands off his cheeks and sat next to him.
"You are helping. I can't imagine how frustrated you must be."
"Please don't get angry with me, M, but maybe you should really consider going back to the hotel room? And the bar the party was held at? I would come with you and stay the entire time." Carlos suggested, half waiting to get his head bitten off.
Madonna chewed her lower lip and looked around the room at everything but Carlos. She lay on the floor with her arms and legs wide open, like a starfish. Madonna sighed, smiling up at the ceiling.
"I love that you had this room created for me." She said.
"Well I wanted somewhere for you to be able to really relax." Carlos said, leaning down and kissing Madonna and she looked at him.
"I am considering going to the hotel and the bar. It - it just gives me this knotted, sick to my stomach kind of feeling." Her eyes filled with tears.
"Ok. I'm not going to pressurise you, M. Just a thought." Carlos said, holding up a hand and she nodded.
"Rosie suggested going to the hotel too. She also said she'd go with me."
"We could both go with you." Carlos said.
"I love you Carlos." Madonna said, sitting up and kissing him.
He slipped his arms around her waist and sat her on his lap. "I love you too M. I'd do anything for you. You know that, right?" Carlos said and Madonna nodded.
End of Part 8...
The following day Madonna left work at lunchtime to go and see Christopher. Ahandsome Italian guy answered the door and Madonna looked surprised for a moment, then smiled.
"Hi, I'm Madonna. You must be Marco?" Madonna said, holding out her hand and Marco shook it, smiling.
"Hi, come in."
"Is Chris around?"
"Yes. He's feeling much better." Marco said. "Can I get you something to drink? Coffee?"
"Coffee would be great, thanks." Madonna said, going in and sitting in the living room.
Marco took in two coffees, one for Madonna and one for Christopher and was about to leave the room to get him, when Madonna spoke.
"I don't know what Chris has said to you about me...I know we weren't on the best of terms, but I am so sorry for what Guy done to him."
"Chris just wants his sister back, Madonna. And don't apologise, it isn't your fault. I heard you were with him at the hospital for a while." Marco said, looking at her gratefully and Madonna nodded. He disappeared to get Christopher and Madonna sipped some coffee and tried to relax.
Christopher walked into the room and sat next to Madonna. "Marco thought we might like to have some privacy. What do you think of him?"
"He seems really nice." Madonna replied, smiling. "How are you feeling?"
"Sore. My ribs hurt, so I'm not allowed to do much, particularly when Marco is around." Christopher said, looking amused and Madonna laughed.
"I threw Guy out and he stayed in a hotel. I just asked him to come back, but made it clear he has a lot of making up to do." Madonna said and Christopher nodded, drinking some coffee.
"Don't be too hard on him." Christopher said quietly and Madonna frowned.
"You've changed your tune."
"Did Guy tell you what I said?"
"All Guy said was that you said it would be easy to manipulate me, that you were bragging about it." Madonna replied, starting to feel uneasy.
Christopher nodded. "I also said I was only interested in making things right with you, so you would come to my wedding. I knew I could wind Guy up, I just didn't think he would go this far..."
"Oh." Was all Madonna could say. She sat there feeling momentarily winded and stared into space.
"Say something M." Christopher said and Madonna looked at him with a really hurt expression.
"You know something Chris, you and Guy might not get or or even like each other, but he has spent time trying to convince me I need to go to your wedding. So this is all a lie? You have no interest in a relationship with me, you just want me as a guest at your wedding?" Madonna spoke calmly and a single tear rolled down her cheek.
"I don't know why I said it, M. I don't mean it at all."
"If you didn't mean it, you never would have said it, Chris." Madonna sniffed. "I've been agonising over what to do lately, and now it turns out you won't even care once the wedding is over."
"That's not true, M. I just said it to wind Guy up."
"Why would you even do that?" Madonna stood up, frowning down at Christopher. "We nearly got divorced four years ago, you have caused a serious rift in my marriage. What is wrong with you?"
"It's a shame you didn't, M - you can do better than Guy."
"I love Guy. I'm not staying to listen to you talk about him like this. And you can forget me coming to the wedding. This is the final straw, Chris." Madonna got up and started to leave, Christopher following her.
"M! I never meant it - of course I want a relationship with you, you're my sister and we were close before!" Christopher looked almost desperate.
"Maybe somewhere down the line, when we are both too old to remember why we don't like each other." Madonna replied and left, slamming the door.
Guy found Madonna on the sofa in floods of tears when he got home and rushed over to her.
"M? Darlin'? What's wrong? Has something happened?" He put his arm around her and she nodded.
"I went to see Chris. You were right Guy. He was trying to manipulate me to go to the wedding. You never told me Chris was only interested in making things right with me for the wedding." Madonna looked at Guy with red rimmed eyes.
"We had a pretty big fight, M. And I didn't really want to believe he meant that - that he was that cruel." Guy replied.
"He told me he didn't mean it. But why say it in the first place?"
"What was his excuse for saying it?"
"Winding you up." Madonna said, wiping her eyes.
"Do you believe him?" Guy asked and Madonna shrugged.
"Chris said he was winding you up and that he thinks I can do better than you."
"What did you say?" Guy asked and Madonna looked at him, practically on the edge of his seat to know how she replied.
"That I love you and I wasn't staying to hear him talk to you like that." Madonna said and Guy looked relieved. "I told him I'm not going to the wedding."
"How do you feel about that?"
"Angry and disappointed. In Chris. I told him that you had been trying to persuade me to go, and that was when he told me he didn't mean what he'd said."
"We could still send them a present, if that will put your mind at rest." Guy said, but Madonna shook her head.
"I don't even want to do that."
"It still scares me what you done, but I'm sorry I just took his side and didn't listen to you, Guy. I feel so foolish."
"Darlin', it doesnt matter now. Water under the bridge."
Madonna started to cry again. "I still can't believe Chris...I would be devastated if any of our children treated each other like that." She said, her voice wobbling, as she looked at Guy.
"They wouldn't, M. You've done and you are doing a great job with our children." Guy replied, wrapping his arms around Madonna and pulling her onto his lap, so he could hold her.
End of Part 10...
Guy wrapped his arms around Madonna, pulling her into him that morning, kissing the back of her neck. She smiled, even though her eyes were closed. One of his hands ran down her pyjama bottoms, between her legs and he slid a couple of fingers inside her and Madonna gasped. She grabbed his hands and removed them from her, then turned on her side to face Guy.
"I'm still mad at you." Madonna said quietly, not sounding or looking in the least bit mad.
"I will make it up to you." Guy said, looking almost regretful.
"It doesn't really matter now. I'm not going." Madonna sat up, running a hand through her hair. "I should be expecting another call from my father anytime soon." She sighed.
"If you explain to him what Chris said, I'm sure he would understand why you won't be attending his wedding." Guy said and Madonna looked down at him, shaking her head.
"No. He would expect me to forgive and forget." Madonna replied.
Guy sat up and slipped his arms around Madonna's waist, resting his chin on her shoulder. "I wish there was something I could do to make you feel better darlin'." He kissed her bare shoulder, over the thin strap of her vest top.
"Not that. I'm not in the mood." Madonna got out of bed, letting Guy's hands fall away from her. He watched her get dressed.
"Where are you going?"
"Out for a run."
"It's Sunday." Guy protested.
"So? My body doesn't know that." Madonna said.
"I'll come with you."
"Guy. I need some space. Please." Madonna looked desperate for him to stop talking and he fell silent, nodding and watching her leave.
When she returned home, Madonna heard Guy talking to Rocco in the living room. The door was only open a crack and clearly neither of them had heard her return, so she stood and watched.
"I don't see why I have to apologise to mom! Chris has hurt her so much, dad. Does she think that none of us notice when she's upset?" Rocco said, throwing his hands up in a dramatic way that Madonna did sometimes when she was arguing and she had to cover her mouth to stifle a giggle.
"If you do notice M is upset, why do you make it worse? Couldn't you just keep your opinions to yourself, Roccs? Mercy and David are at an impressionable age. And you are causing your mother more stress by acting out."
"Dad, you beat up Chris and put him in a hospital. He was direspecting mom. Maybe I agree with what you done, because I don't like people disrespecting my mom either." Rocco replied.
"We are going around in circles here, mate." Guy said, sighing.
Madonna opened the door and walked into the room and both Rocco and Guy looked at her.
"How long have you been there?" Guy asked.
"Long enough. Guy, I appreciate your effort, but if Rocco can't see what he done wrong, then what's the point?" Madonna shrugged and laughed, but it sounded forced.
"Mom?" Rocco frowned.
"Darlin', I think he should apologise."
Madonna held up a hand to silence Guy. "I appreciate that you are trying to make it up to me Guy, really I do. But Chris has caused enough damage in this family."
"I am sorry mom. Not just because dad told me to apologise. I didn't mean to stress you out." Rocco said, looking regretful.
"Thank you Roccs." Madonna said and Rocco surprised both herself and Guy, by hugging her. Over his shoulder Madonna looked at Guy and mouthed 'thank you' and he nodded.
"I'm off to meet Dom. See you later." Rocco said, after the hug.
"Have fun." Madonna said and she looked at Guy when Rocco had gone.
"I'm going to apologise to Chris."
"That isn't necessary Guy. Thank you for talking to Rocco though." Madonna said.
"I feel like I should, M. You don't have to be with me."
"I'm not sure he would talk to you, so maybe I should be there." Madonna chewed her thumb nervously.
"Darlin', I could talk to him here. I don't know if it would be better if you called him though to arrange that, he might just hang up on me."
"Sure. When do you want me to arrange that for?"
Madonna raised her eyebrows. "How desperate are you for sex that you want to smooth everything out with me today?"
"I am just trying to put things right." Guy replied, looking amused. "Am I getting warmer though?" He asked and she pretended to look thoughtful.
"Maybe if you think of a good present we can send Chris and do something to take my mind off his wedding?" Madonna half suggested.
"You took sex away as an option." Guy joked and Madonna tried not to smile.
"I'll call Chris now. But I might let you two talk and just be around - in the kitchen or upstairs or something when he arrives." Madonna said, scrolling through her phone to his number.
Christopher was surprised when Guy answered the door to him, expecting it to be Madonna.
"Are you going to come in? I won't hurt you." Guy said, standing aside and Christopher reluctantly went inside, looking around.
"Where is my sister?"
"Out with the kids." Guy lied.
Madonna was upstairs, sat with her back against a wall, just out of sight and listening to them. The nannies had taken Mercy and David out, so they would all have the house to themselves.
"Can I get you something to drink?" Guy asked.
"No thanks." Christopher replied.
"Come and sit down." Guy said in a pretty toneless voice and Christopher looked at him, then went and sat on the sofa. Guy followed him, leaving the door open, so Madonna could hear what they were saying. He had a feeling she would be listening.
"M told me that you were trying to convince her to come to my wedding." Christopher said and Guy nodded.
"I wouldn't have tried so hard to convince her to go, if I'd known you just wanted her there for the day, but out of your life again after." Guy replied, glaring at Christopher - whose cheeks flushed a little.
"I shouldn't have said that Guy. I didn't mean it. It's no secret we don't like each other. I was just winding you up. I just wasn't expecting you to completely flip out." Christopher said, glaring right back at Guy.
"I can't stand the way you disrespect my wife, Chris. She's your sister. I am sorry I put you in hospital, I hope your ribs are ok." Guy said, looking worried.
"How touching Guy, you almost sound concerned." Christopher said sarcastically.
"You are impossible to talk to, Chris. How M hasn't landed one on you I don't know."
"You're a thug, Guy. My sister could do better." Christopher said haughtily.
"She could also do better as far as brothers go." Guy shot back.
"This is the most unique apology I have ever had."
"Maybe you want to stop winding people up so much, Chris." Guy said.
"Whatever you think and whatever Madonna thinks, I still love her. I always have and I always will. She is a complete and utter nightmare pain in the neck at times - even you would have to agree there, nut she is my sister." Christopher said.
"I think we can all be nightmares and a pain in someone else's neck, Chris. No one is perfect."
Christopher laughed. "Guy, you sound exactly like my sister."
"Is that really a bad thing?" Guy said, not reacting to being laughed at.
"It depends if you want to be under her thumb." Christopher said, standing up.
Guy also stood up. "I'm not going to let you wind me up again." He said, noticing the bruises had completely faded away from Christopher's face now. "I am sorry Chris." Guy held out his hand and Christopher looked from it to Guy's face.
"I don't expect to see either of you at the wedding."
"Oh, you're taking your invite back, now are you? I think M and I are busy that day anyway." Guy said calmly and Christopher left. Guy closed the door behind him and went upstairs.
He found Madonna sat with her back to the wall, her knees drawn up to her chest, shoulders shaking where she was crying. Guy pulled Madonna onto his lap and sat against the wall, pressing her cheek into his chest and kissing her hair.
"You handled that well." Madonna wept, gazing up at Guy.
"Yeah, I guess. He was being a jerk. Did you hear it all?" He asked and she nodded.
"It hurts even more now he said he has always loved me." Madonna held onto Guy, almost curling into him. "What did I ever do to deserve him acting like this?"
"Nothing darlin'. It's not your fault. Some people are just...impossible."
End of Part 11...
"This looks interesting..." Debi Mazar said, as she walked towards Guy on the set of his film. He was stood by two very expensive cars that had crashed and was talking the actors through what he wanted out of a scene.
"Take a break, I'll call you back in a bit." Guy said and went over to Debi. "Thanks for coming."
"I must say I was surprised when you called. To what do I owe the pleasure, Guy?"
"I want to do something nice for M, and I was hoping you could help me with ideas. Do you want a drink?"
"An orange juice would be great thanks." Debi said and Guy got them both drinks and motioned for her to follow him to his trailer and he closed the door behind them.
Debi sat on the sofa and looked up at Guy. "Did you have anything in mind that you wanted to do for M?"
"Yes. I was thinking of taking her on holiday, just the two of us, when Chris has his wedding."
"Aah. Of course it would be something to do with Chris." Debi replied.
"You know what's been going on?"
"Madonna and I are very close. She tells me a lot."
"Oh." Guy shifted in his seat.
"There's no need to look so uncomfortable. I think Chris got what he deserved." Debi said, smiling at Guy, who relaxed. "I would quite like to give him a piece of my mind. He is really screwing with her head right now."
"I wish I hadn't tried persuading her to go to the wedding."
"That was the right thing to do at the time Guy. I even said to M I thought she should go, because it was all she could think about. But knowing Chris' underlying agenda, I think a holiday would be better. Where do I come in?"
"I don't know where M would want to go."
"Don't you talk to your wife, Guy? Ask her."
"I want it to be a surprise." Guy replied and Debi smiled.
"So you can be romantic!" She teased him and Guy rolled his eyes, trying not to smile.
"I was thinking somewhere relaxing, with nice beaches and maybe a spa hotel. I just don't know where."
"I think I might be free that week..." Debi joked and Guy laughed. She looked thoughtful for a minute. "How about Hawaii? Somewhere with nice secluded beaches and a spa hotel?"
"You're a genius!"
"It has been said..." Debi said, admiring her nails.
"Do you have time to stay a bit longer and pick somewhere nice?"
"Of course I do." Debi smiled as Guy opened his laptop.
Madonna and Guy Oseary were out getting lunch for the others back at the studio at roughly the same time Debi had gone to see Guy (Ritchie) at work. Madonna had suggested they walk, because she needed the air and almost instantly felt better, as she walked and talke with Guy about where they would pick up food. They also talked about their children and Guy made her laugh with some of the things he told her about his children.
"It's nice to see you smile, M." Guy said quietly.
"I am sorry if I've been a bit grumpy or distant at work lately. I have a lot on my mind at the moment."
"If you ever want to talk, I'm right here, you know." Guy said and Madonna smiled, nodding.
"Thanks. But I have a shrink and some close girl friends."
They were standing in a busy food market and neither of them saw Christopher until he grabbed Madonna's arm, causing her to jump.
"We need to talk."
"Jesus christ, Chris! You scared the hell out of me!"
"M, can we go somewhere and talk? In private?" Christopher looked at Guy, who appeared uneasy.
"I can just go over there." Guy said, pointing to nowhere in particular.
"No, stay where you are. Christopher can leave." Madonna said looking at her brother.
"Are you stalking me?"
"No. I was coming to this market anyway M and happened to see you." Christopher replied.
"I have nothing more to say to you, Chris. Leave me alone."
"M - "
"I heard your conversation with Guy. I heard it all. It hurts. It hurts so much, I feel physically sick." Madonna said, looking distressed.
"Chris, I think you should go. You're obviously stressing M out." Guy stepped in between them both.
"This is nothing to do with you. You just manage her."
"Actually we are close friends too. Go Chris."
"Are you going to make me?" Christopher taunted him.
"Oh my god, no wonder Guy hurt you, you are the nightmare, Chris - more so than me!" Madonna wrenched both her hands through her hair.
"I would still like you to come to the wedding."
"That wasn't what you told Guy. I'm not interested in just being there to make up the numbers." Madonna said icily.
"I'm not giving up."
"I will get a restraining order if I have to."
"I'm your brother."
"Only when it suits you." Madonna said, and she walked away. Guy looked at Christopher, then followed her, the bodyguards that accompanied them bringing up the rear.
"M, let me take you to lunch. We can go to any restaurant you like. Then we can pick up food for the others on the way back." Guy Oseary suggested and Madonna nodded.
"That sounds good to me. I have one condition."
"We don't talk about Chris?" Guy guessed and Madonna nodded. "That's fine."
"You are good to me Guy." Madonna smiled briefly.
End of Part 12...
The day of Christopher & Marco's Wedding
"I wish I had smoothed things out with Madonna." Christopher said, sighing.
"She still could come." Silvio said, looking at his son sadly. Neither of them believed she would.
There was a knock on the door and both men looked at each other.
"Come in." Christopher said.
"You must be talking about me, because my ears are burning." Madonna said calmly, casually walking into the room. She looked beautiful in knee-length navy lace dress with three-quarter length lace sleeves and the silver heels Guy had bought for her after an argument a while ago now.
"Talk of the devil and she appears." Christopher said dryly, but he smiled a little, and Madonna laughed.
Behind her, Guy walked in, looking equally as smart in a suit.
"I don't think you should be here, after what you done to my son." Silvio said, standing between Christopher and Guy.
"Madonna could hardly come without her husband now, could she?" Christopher said.
"If you don't want Guy here, I'm leaving too. But I really don't want to, Chris. Honestly." Madonna said, looking like she might be on the brink of tears.
"If you are going to cry, M, I want it to be at the service. All this fighting stops now. This is my day. And Marco's." Christopher said. "Dad, I was horrible to her. I already told you."
"But - " Silvio started.
"It's just one day and evening." Christopher said.
"I'm surprised you of all people Nonnie, are ok with violence." Silvio looked at Madonna with disappointment.
"Oh no, she really isn't, sir. M is still making me suffer." Guy said and Silvio's face softened to the point he almost looked amused. "Shall we leave M and Chris to talk for a bit?" Guy suggested.
"Ok." Silvio sighed, following Guy out of the room.
"Try not to murder each other!" Madonna called after them and Christopher laughed.
"I am so happy you're here." Christopher said, motioning for Madonna to sit.
"Do you mind - really that I came with Guy?"
"No. He's your husband. And even though a little scary, he was defending you."
"Chris, I - " Madonna's voice wobbled.
"M, I don't just want you here as a guest. I miss how close we were. I don't know if we will ever be like that again, but I really do want to try. If you do? It's all up to you."
Madonna pressed her eyes closed, for fear of crying. She nodded. "It might take a while."
"Nothing in life worth having is easy." Christopher said.
"You sound like dad." Madonna smiled and they both laughed. "I'm so happy for you, Chris." She said and he hugged her. Madonna was surprised at first, but then put her arms around him and held him tight, flashes of memories coming back to her of good times they'd had many years ago.
"I do love you M." Christopher whispered over her shoulder.
"Shut up Chris. You're going to make me cry." Madonna said sharply, but he knew she was smiling over his shoulder.
"Don't you dare ruin this suit!" Christopher said, holding Madonna's arms and she smiled.
"I love you too, Chris." Madonna replied and he smiled.
"Let's go and see if dad and Guy are ok." Christopher said, standing up and taking Madonna's hand.
They didn't have to go far, just down the hallway and found Silvio and Guy talking.
"I wonder if he's bought dad a pair of shoes?" Christopher whispered in Madonna's ear and she laughed.
"They better not be more expensive than mine." She joked back.
"I should go rescue Guy. I will see you later. Good luck." Madonna smiled at Christopher, hugging him again and they kissed each other's cheeks.
Madonna and Guy went to join the other guests, and Silvio went back to Christopher.
"Is the air cleared now?" Christopher asked.
"Relatively." Silvio sighed.
"If Guy got that angry with you, what about when he and Nonnie argue?"
"You think he would hit her?" Christopher asked.
"I don't know." Silvio shrugged, looking at Guy lead Madonna away, a hand on the small of her back, as she looked up at him adoringly and he smiled down at her.
"He wouldn't dad."
"How do you know?" Silvio looked at Christopher.
"Because even though Guy really hurt me, it was defending Madonna. Clearly he would do anything for her. And don't you think she would be smart enough to leave him if he did?"
"They went through a really bad patch going back some years."
"Doesn't everyone?" Christopher replied.
"Yes. You're right." Silvio said.
"Madonna and I are going to work on our relationship. I can keep an eye on her. In a not too obvious way."
"That would put my mind at rest."
Madonna and Guy were sat with the other guests, waiting for the service to start.
"You look amazing, darlin'." Guy said.
"I was wondering if you bought my dad a pair of shoes." Madonna said, and Guy laughed.
"I really don't think he is ever going to forgive me. But that's fine. At least we can be civil at family functions."
"There won't be too many where we are all together like this."
"We are probably going to enjoy the kind of relationship you and my mother have." Guy joked.
"That's not even funny, Guy." Madonna said, frowning.
"No, it's not. I know how nervous she makes you feel now." Guy said, looking at her sympathetically.
"Well, none of that really matters, does it? It's not like either of them lives with us or even close." Madonna replied.
"Exactly." Guy kissed her temple. "Let's just enjoy this, then I have a surprise for you."
"What kind of surprise?"
"The surprise kind." Guy said with a straight face and Madonna discreetly poked him in the ribs. "It can't be tortured out of me."
They stood up as the service began and Madonna tried to look up at Guy like she was annoyed, but it looked like she was trying not to smile.
It was only when Christopher walked down the aisle with Silvio and he looked over at Madonna, then she smiled. Marco walked down the aisle with his father, looking as happy as Christopher. As he passed Madonna, Marco smiled at her, pleased she'd joined them. It was a big wedding - both of them being Italian, there was a lot of family and friends on either side. It was a beautiful service and when Christopher and Marco walked back down the aisle, they stopped at Madonna.
"Thank you so much for coming." Marco said, hugging her and they both kissed each other's cheeks.
"I'm glad I did." Madonna smiled. "You make a lovely couple and I wish you all the best." She said and Marco nodded.
Christopher hugged Madonna and there were a few cheers and some clapping on their side - their feud being common knowledge and it was a relief to see they had moved on.
"What made you choose Hawaii?" Madonna asked Guy, when they were walking down a private, almost empty beach, hand in hand.
Christopher and Marco had had a beautiful wedding service and party on the evening, then Guy had took Madonna straight to the airport and they'd got on a flight to Hawaii. Madonna had smiled when she saw where they were going, but slept on the plane there, thoroughly exhausted from the wedding. After a good nights' sleep, a massage and a leisurely late breakfast, they were now on the beach.
"Debi. She suggested a spa hotel with private beaches." Guy replied.
"You asked one of my friends for their opinion of where I would like to go?" Madonna stopped, looking up at Guy.
"I did have this booked earlier, when I though you - we weren't going to the wedding. But I changed it slightly."
"To take my mind off of it?"
"I thought it would be a good idea and help you relax." Guy said, as they continued walking.
Madonna looked around. "It would have worked."
"You seem happier, M."
"Chris and I are going to try and have more of a relationship." Madonna said.
"Am I really still in the doghouse?"
"What you said to your dad..."
"I said that because that was what he wanted to hear." Madonna replied, waving her free hand dismissively. She looked up at Guy. "If you still were, this definitely gets you out of it."
"Good." Guy smiled, kissing her.
"I hope that water is cold, or at least cool. It's so warm..." Madonna said, letting go of Guy's hand and pulling her top, then trousers off and tossing them aside. She wore a skimpy purple bikini and when Guy's eyes widened, Madonna laughed.
"I can't remember the last time I saw you in a bikini..."
"I don't want to burn." Madonna replied. "I practically took a bath in sun-cream."
"And I can put more on you in a bit."
"Why else did I bring you down here?" Madonna joked, kicking some water up at Guy and he chased her along the shoreline, splashing her back.
They ran in and out of the water, like a new, young couple having fun. Guy wrapped his arms around Madonna and she laughed, turning to kiss him over her shoulder.
This fiction is set in 2016, after the Rebel Heart tour. Madonna & Guy Ritchie are still married, they never got divorced in this story, although during the MDNA era they did go through a really rough patch and nearly did split up.
Madonna looked down at Guy, a small smile on her lips as she rode him. She pressed both hands down on his chest, digging her fingers into his skin. Guy held on to her bum, admiring her perfect body from where he lay. Madonna leaned forward and kissed his neck, then his lips hungrily. Guy sat up, still holding onto her and buried his face in her chest. She held his neck with one hand and with the other sprlayed her fingers through his short hair, wrenching it ever so slightly. Madonna leaned back, moaning as Guy gripped her bum harder and kissed across a breast, trailing his tongue around her nipple, then tugging it between his teeth, causing her to whimper. Guy pushed Madonna down onto the bed, grinding her hard, holding her when she arched her back right off the bed and kissing along her ribs. He kissed along her jaw as she tilted her head back and he pinned her wrists high above her head. Madonna clamped her legs around Guy and cried out when he lowered his whole body down onto her, letting go of her wrists. She draped her arms loosely around his neck, as he buried his nose into her shoulder, crying out into her skin. Madonna felt such a rush building in her at the same time, that she cried out into Guy's neck.
After they both lay next to each other, gasping for breath, Guy looked at Madonna and smiled.
"We should have stayed on in Cuba, and let the others come home."
"Oh god, yes. But we can go back soon, just the two of us..." Madonna replied, looking up at Guy and kissing him.
"I'll pack now." Guy said, pretending to get out of bed and Madonna laughed.
"Don't tempt me."
"I wish we could, but I have to continue filming in the Bronx today." Guy sighed.
"And I need to get back in the studio." Madonna said. "I'm gonna jump in the shower, before Mercy, David and Rocco wake up. I would ask you to join me, but we may not make it down to breakfast." She joked and he laughed, nodding and watching her go.
At the breakfast table, David, Rocco and Mercy were all talking and the radio was on in the background, while Guy and Madonna sorted out the post that had mounted up while they were in Cuba. Guy looked at a fancy envelope and frowned, then handed it to Madonna.
"It looks like a wedding invitation." He said and Madonna wondered who she knew that was getting married.
Madonna opened the envelope and pulled out the card. She read it just as she was drinking her coffee and spat it out, spraying it everywhere.
"M?" Guy frowned and the children stopped talking and looked at her.
"It's nothing." Madonna said, recovering quickly and forcing a smile.
"Is it a wedding invitation?" Guy asked.
"Yeah. I can't make it though." Madonna replied, crumpling up the invitation and throwing it in the bin. "Are you guys nearly finished? We need to get going."
Rocco, David and Mercy rushed away from the table to brush their teeth and get their bags and Guy looked at Madonna.
"Who was the invitation from?"
"Just some friend."
"That was a pretty strong reaction you had for 'just some friend', M." Guy said, studying her face.
Madonna shrugged. "Someone I haven't heard from in a while." She said and rushed out the door with the children and bodyguards.
Guy sighed and went over to the bin. He knew she was lying as he pulled the invitation out of the bin and read it.
That evening when they were getting ready for bed, Madonna spotted the wedding invitation she'd thrown in the bin on her bedside table, smoothed out a little.
"What's this?" Madonna arched her eyebrows.
"You lied M. You said it was a friend getting married, when it's your brother." Guy replied softly.
"I haven't spoke to Christopher in years."
"And you ignored him when he tried to talk to you during the tour, after he'd been to your show."
"Guy, you don't even like Chris. He doesn't like you, why did you put that invitation there?" Madonna said, sounding disgusted.
"Because I think you were a little hasty this morning, at least think about it M."
"I did think about it. That's why I put it in the bin."
Guy got out of bed and went over to Madonna, holding her waist, pulling her closer to him. "Don't you think it's time that you reached out to Chris?"
"No. He betrayed me." Madonna said, her voice wobbling slightly, despite trying to sound fierce.
"M, you need to let it go. You were close once."
"That was a long time ago."
"I thought you were a more forgiving person."
Madonna broke free from Guy's grasp, frowning. "I don't want to argue with you about this. No offense Guy, but it's none of your business."
"You're my wife, it is my business. When you threw that invite out, you didn't look relieved M. I think you need to at least talk to Chris, even if you don't attend his wedding." Guy said.
"How did filming go today?" Madonna asked calmly, getting into bed.
"Don't do that. Don't change to subject." Guy replied, getting back into bed.
"Is it a male thing? Is that why you're taking his side?" Madonna asked.
"There aren't sides, M."
"If there were, clearly you wouldn't be on mine." Madonna said aggressively. "I told you Guy, I didn't want to talk about this."
"M, you underestimate how well I know you."
"Put yourself in my place, Guy. Imagine your brother wrote a book about you. Would you let that go?" Madonna asked, her hands on her hips.
"In all honesty M, I don't know."
"And yet here you are, trying to persuade me to make up with Chris."
"M, you need to let it go. What if something happened to him? I know you would never forgive yourself."
"Nothing is going to happen to him." Madonna grabbed the invitation from her bedside table. "You had no right to go behind my back and put this here." She tore up the invitation and threw it in the bin.
"M, please - "
"No. I don't want to talk about this anymore." Madonna said, lying down with her back to Guy.
"I was just trying to help." Guy said, lying down and looking at her back.
"Drop it Guy." Madonna said quietly.
End of Part 1...
The following morning Madonna rolled over onto her back, yawning and stretching. She frowned when she reached out and discovered Guy wasn't next to her. Madonna opened her eyes and sat up, seeing a big designer box with a bow around it in Guy's place and a note that simply said 'Sorry M XX'. She smiled, taking the bow off and opening the box. Madonna took out a beautiful pair of silver heels and smoothed her hand over one of them. She sighed, putting them back in the box and had a shower and got dressed and went down to breakfast.
"Where's Guy?" Madonna asked Rocco.
Rocco shrugged. "Work?"
"Is everything alright between you two?" Rocco asked.
David and Mercy looked at Madonna expectantly.
"Of course it is." Madonna smiled and they finished their breakfast and went to get their bags ready for school. "I wish you wouldn't ask that in front of them. They looked worried."
"Sorry." Rocco sighed.
"I've got a lot on my mind at the moment."
"Like what?" Rocco asked and Madonna looked at him, chewing her lower lip.
"Chris is getting married. He invited me. That's what came in the post yesterday. An invite."
"But you haven't spoken to him in years. Are you going to now?" Rocco asked.
"I honestly don't know."
"Does dad think you should?"
"That's why he left early for work. You have been arguing."
"He thinks I should let it go and reach out to Chris." Madonna replied.
"Doesn't it seem a bit stupid to argue over someone else?"
"Being married isn't as straight forward as you might think, Roccs."
"Women!" Rocco said, rolling his eyes and Madonna laughed.
"Go and make sure you have everything ready for school."
"Do you think you can buy me off with shoes?" Madonna barged into Guy's trailer on the set of his new film, looking severe, hands on hips. Guy looked like he didn't know what to make of her outburst, but Madonna's face softened and she went over and kissed him. "Because you can, and they are beautiful."
"Don't scare me like that woman!" Guy breathed a sigh of relief.
"I would have preferred you to have been there this morning, as well as the shoes." Madonna said, kissing him again.
"And risk having a pair of stilettos thrown at my face? No thank you." Guy said, trying not to smile and Madonna laughed.
"I'm not that violent."
"You know, those shoes would look great with one of those new dresses you have - the navy one, or the plum one." Guy said quietly.
"Are you after my stylist's job?" Madonna joked.
"God, no. I was just saying..." Guy smiled.
Madonna narrowed her eyes at Guy, letting go of him. "You're up to something."
"What? No! I was just saying what I think those shoes would look nice with. And I mean, if you had a wedding to go too..."
"Oh. So you had an agenda when you bought me the shoes." Madonna raised her eyebrows.
"Well..." Guy started.
"I'm not going."
"I will have to talk to him before. He's already sent me a message to ask if I've got my invitation."
"Can't you at least just reply and say yes?" Guy suggested. "What's the harm in that?"
"It will lead to a conversation, a phonecall, him coming over. I don't want nothing to do with Chris. He burned his bridge with me years ago."
"I would have been devastated if you had said that to me, going back when our marriage was in real trouble." Guy said softly.
"That's totally different. You never betrayed me, Guy. And I'm confident you never will."
"I think you are hurting yourself more than you are punishing Chris." Guy replied.
Madonna said down, sighing and looked up at Guy. "I wish I could make you understand how I feel inside. I know you think I'm being harsh, but it still hurts me."
"Only because you are letting it M." Guy sat next to Madonna on the sofa and put a hand on her knee. "People who know you, I mean really know you love and admire you. So what Chris wrote is a load of crap."
"I can't. Sorry Guy, I just can't..." Madonna got up and left the trailer. Guy started to follow her, but she had turned a corner and was gone.
End of Part 2...
Guy answered the phone in the kitchen when it rang. It was mid-morning on a weekday and he was virtually alone at the home, except for the staff.
"Hi Guy, is Madonna there? I really need to talk to her." It was Christopher and Guy had to fight back the urge to sigh.
"Hi Chris, she's running some errands at the moment."
"I've tried calling her and sending messages, but she won't talk to me."
"I have been trying to persuade her to go to your wedding, but you know what Madonna is like. She's very stubborn."
"Oh yes." Christopher sighed. "So she did get the invitation."
"It went straight in the bin, but I took it out and told her to think about it, but we ended up having a row over it. Then I bought her shoes to try and smooth it over and told her they would go great with one of these new dresses she has - " Guy stopped when he heard Christopher laugh.
"Wow, you are just as stubborn as my sister. Why are you trying to persuade her to go, Guy? You don't even like me." Christopher said quietly.
"I know, but this isn't about me, or us not liking each other. I think M will regret it in the long run if she doesn't go." Guy replied.
"If Madonna comes, I want you to come too."
"So I can thank you for persuading her to come." Christopher said.
At that moment Madonna walked through the front door, smiling as she spotted Guy in the kitchen. Guy pointed to the phone and mouthed 'Chris' and Madonna's smile faded away. She made a hand slashing gesture across her neck, motioning for him to cut Chris off.
"I can do that. But I wouldn't hold your breath." Guy replied, looking at Madonna. She walked over to him, grabbed the phone and slammed it back in the cradle.
"Why didn't you cut him off?" Madonna frowned. "Do you not understand what this means?" She said, making the hand slashing gesture across her neck.
"Yes. But I think it's unfair that you're ignoring Chris, M."
"Oh. You were having a nice chat with my brother about me, were you?" Madonna folded her arms.
"M, just talk to Chris, will you? I'm tired of having the same argument with you."
"If you like Chris so much, you go to his wedding."
"He doesn't want me there. He wants you there."
"Is that what he said to you?" Madonna's eyes were wide.
"No. But he doesn't mind if I come if you do."
"Well that's ok, because neither of us are going." Madonna said. "Problem solved."
"I have to get back to work."
"I thought we were having lunch together?" Madonna said.
"And I thought you were less petty than this...so I guess we're both disappointed." Guy replied, grabbing his stuff and leaving before Madonna could reply. She watched him go and sighed.
"You and Guy aren't going to get divorced, are you?" Lourdes asked quietly and Madonna shook her head.
"No. He just thinks I'm being hard on Chris in not talking to him or going to the wedding."
"Isn't that kind of up to you anyway? He's your brother." Lourdes replied, drinking some coffee.
"Yes. Chris has been sending a lot of texts and leaving messages for me lately. But I don't think I can handle talking to him."
"Mom. All the things you've been through in your life and you can't just listen to him? If you don't like what he has to say, you can just hang up or delete his messages." Lourdes said.
"What would you do, Lola? If when you were all older, Rocco or David done the same thing?"
"David is too loving to write a book like that, and Rocco too lazy." Lourdes replied, and both she and Madonna laughed. "If Rocco did write a book like that, I think it would take me a long time to forgive him." Lourdes said more seriously. "If I ever could."
"That is exactly how I feel about Chris."
"Why don't you talk to him? Try over the phone first. See how it makes you feel. Even if you did manage to forgive the past, you don't have to go to the wedding mom, if you're not comfortable going."
"How did you get so wise?" Madonna smiled.
"I don't want a repeat of 2012. You and Guy nearly split up and you're so good together. It sounds like his heart is in the right place, he's just going about it in the wrong way."
"I'll think about talking to Chris. I can't promise anything."
"It's a start." Lourdes said brightly, looking hopeful.
Guy arrived home from work and smiled when he saw Lourdes.
"Hey Lola, how are you? Are you staying over?"
"Yeah, for the weekend."
"It's nice to see you." Guy kissed the top of her head, then disappeared upstairs.
Madonna looked at Lourdes. "I need to talk to him."
"Talk, not argue." Lourdes said and Madonna nodded, following Guy upstairs.
Madonna opened the door to their room, and Guy turned around. "I'm sorry about earlier. I just hate the thought of you and Chris bitching about me." She sat on the edge of the bed, fiddling with her hands in her lap and looking like she might cry.
"You really think I would be bitching about you?" Guy sat next to Madonna. "M, I can barely stand Chris myself. I'm not doing this for him. I am doing it for you, because I love you."
"I don't know what to do, Guy. I feel terrible." Madonna said softly and she started to cry.
Guy put an arm around her, pulling her closer to him and he kissed her cheek. "I think you need to call Chris, darlin'. It's clearly bothering you. Or maybe invite him over? I don't know, but maybe face to face is better? He can see how much he has hurt you."
Madonna looked up at Guy, chewing her lower lip. "The thought of seeing him puts me on edge."
"M, you are having a meltdown here. I can be around the house when you talk to him, if you like." Guy said quietly.
"Yeah. I want you here."
"So you're going to talk to him?"
"Yes. Please don't get your hopes up Guy." Madonna replied, tears still sliding down her cheeks.
"I won't. But it's a start." Guy replied, squeezing Madonna's arm and kissing her temple.
End of Part 3...
Madonna opened the door, saw Christopher standing there and slammed it in his face, turning and leaning her back against the door.
"M, come on, you said you would try..." Guy said from the kitchen.
"I don't know if I can." Madonna said, watching Guy get up and walk over to her.
He held both her arms, kissing her forehead. "I know you can M. I'll be upstairs if you need me, to give you both some space." Guy said and Madonna wished she could follow him upstairs. Instead she took a deep breath, composed herself and turned to answer the door. Christopher was still stood there and looked unsure as to whether he should go in or not.
"Do you need a moment?" Christopher asked and Madonna shook her head, standing aside for him.
"Come in." Madonna closed the door behind him. "Can I get you anything to drink?"
"A coffee would be great thanks."
"Go through and sit down, I'll be there in a minute." Madonna said, motioning to the living room. She took several deep breaths and went into the kitchen and made them coffee, resisting the urge to run out the back door.
"Thank you for agreeing to talk to me, M." Chris said, as Madonna set the coffees down on the table.
"You have Guy and Lola to thank for that." Madonna said, sitting on the same sofa as Chris, nearly down the other end though.
"She must have your powers of persuasion." Christopher smiled, but Madonna just looked at him with an almost bored expression.
"I really don't think I will be able to come to your wedding, Chris." Madonna said quietly.
"M, I was hoping we could move past any bad feeling in the past."
"That would be convenient for you, wouldn't it?" Madonna said sharply.
"The book wasn't a personal attack, M."
"Well it sure felt that way, considering how close we used to be." Madonna said, suddenly feeling sad, as happy memories of them passed through her mind.
"I didn't think you would be this sensitive about it, still...all these years later."
"Are you being serious, Chris?" Madonna frowned.
"I told nothing but the truth in that book. I am not apologising to you, M. You don't apologise for anything you do, and neither do I. What is the phrase you would use? Artistic integrity?" Chris half asked, smiling.
"Is this a joke to you? Do you find it funny how much you have hurt me?"
"No. But I think you are acting like a child with a grudge - no, a brat, M. I've tried to reach out to you lately and you have completely ignored me until now."
"Only because you want me to go to your wedding!"
"Partly. Actually my partner encouraged me to reach out to you. Especially seeing as you are the reason we met." Christopher said quietly.
"How am I the reason you met?" Madonna looked confused.
"We met watching your Rebel Heart tour in Detroit."
"You came to a show?" Madonna said, sounding surprised.
"Of course I did."
"Lola was at that show with her friends."
"I know. I saw her from the other side of the stage. I was with mine and I thought you would probably see her after the show. I didn't go and say hi or try and come backstage because I didn't want to ruin her evening or yours." Chris replied.
"Lola wouldn't have ignored you." Madonna said.
"But you would."
"It was a busy time."
"I know. I have been on tour with you before, M. And your tours each seem to get bigger and grander than the last."
Madonna nodded. "I feel like I'm sitting with a stranger rather than a brother." She said, looking at him sadly.
"We can change that M."
"You used my name like everyone else does, in a negative way to make a quick buck." Madonna said, her voice trembling. "You're my family, Chris, you're supposed to care! Do you know how much it hurt? I can't trust you." Tears formed in her eyes.
"I never meant to upset you, M." Christopher moved up the sofa and tried placing a hand over Madonna's in her lap.
"Don't touch me!" Madonna jumped up from the sofa and paced behind it, almost gasping for breath she was so wound up.
"M. The past is the past. Nobody is perfect." Christopher said and Madonna stopped and stood with both hands wide apart, leaning on the back of the sofa and looked right down at him.
"What if this was flipped? And I wrote a book about our family life? About you?"
"I would think you were a total bitch." Christopher said. "I'm not sure I would let it turn into a feud that has gone on this long though."
Madonna laughed bitterly. "That's easy to say when it's hypothetical."
"I would hate it if anything happened to either of us and we hadn't made peace." Christopher said, looking up at Madonna sadly.
"It's not going too. So it doesn't matter."
"How can you be so cold?"
"How can you betray your own sister?" Madonna shot back. "After all the opportunites I gave you."
Christopher sighed, drinking a little of the coffee and standing up. "Don't act like a victim, Madonna. It doesn't suit you." He said, heading towards the front door.
"Don't walk away from me! Don't you dare walk away from me!" Madonna yelled, chasing him, standing in front of the door, blocking his exit.
"What do you want me to say M?" Christopher said. "Did you ever seriously consider coming to my wedding?"
"Yes. Actually I did. How stupid of me, to think you might come here and apologise."
"It's you who hasn't spoken to me all these years M. I have sent you emails and messages and you ignored it all. I really want us to have a relationship again. I miss that. I miss you." Christopher said and Madonna stared at him for several minutes, feeling a tug at her heart. "You of all people can't expect me to apologise."
"I've listened to you, now get out of my house." Madonna said, opening the door.
"I am not giving up on you M." Christopher said, walking past her.
"Good luck with that." Madonna said, slamming the door again. She slid down the back of it and started crying, pulling her knees up to her chest.
"I'm proud of you M." Guy said softly, walking down the stairs and Madonna lifted her head to look up at him.
"Can you please leave me alone, Guy? I need to be alone right now."
"Is mom ok? She's been very quiet this evening. I tried asking her if she was ok and I don't think she heard me. It's like she's in a coma with her eyes open." Lourdes went into Guy's study that evening after dinner.
"Christopher came over today."
"Oh, I take it it didn't go well."
"No. I was up here, to give them space, but I could hear them talking."
"Did he apologise to her?" Lourdes asked and Guy shook his head.
"He refused too. I think that's one of the things that is hurting her the most." Guy replied.
"What are we going to do?"
"I don't know, Lola. I don't even know what to say to M." Guy pinched the bridge of his nose.
"What is up with mom? I just tried having a full conversation with her, and she didn't look at me once, or answer." Rocco joined Lourdes and Guy.
"Christopher." They both said and Rocco rolled his eyes.
"Why doesn't she just not go to the wedding and forget about him? He's a douche." Rocco said, as if it were the most obvious answer in the world.
"Ugh, men! You are such neanderthals! Mom is still hurt about his book, Uncle Chris won't apologise and now she feels even worse that she won't be going, I'm guessing." Lourdes said, and even Guy looked surprised at how observant she was.
"You guys go out if you have plans, I'll talk to M." Guy said and both Lourdes and Rocco disappeared and he went to look for Madonna. He found her lying on her side on their bed.
"Do you still want to be alone, or can I come in?" Guy asked from the doorway. Madonna rolled over onto her back and looked at Guy.
"I don't want to be alone." She wept. He went over and sat on the bed and held her, rubbing her back.
"For what it's worth M, I think he should have apologised. I'm proud of you though, for inviting him here and listening to him."
"I couldn't bear it, Guy. I don't know that man, he's not the brother I grew up with."
"We'll figure it out M. Lola and Rocco are worried about you. Well Lola. I think Rocco was put out because he tried having a conversation with you - he thinks you shouldn't go and forget about Chris, because he's a douche." Guy said and Madonna laughed through her tears.
"I wish I'd been there when Rocco said that. And I wish it was that easy."
"The wedding isn't for several months yet. We have plenty of time to think."
"Thank you Guy."
"Being so patient."
"I'm kind of with Rocco, but like Lola was saying, I know you are beating yourself up about it."
"She said that?"
"M, she's as sharp as you are." Guy said and Madonna smiled again as he held her, smoothing her back.
End of Part 4...
"M, come back to bed darlin'." Guy said, sitting next to Madonna on the decking just outside the back door in the garden.
She wore a leopard print slip and her hair was a mess and Madonna still looked like she was miles away. Guy sat next to her and saw she was looking at pictures of her and Chris in old photo albums.
"I can't relax." Madonna said, looking at Guy.
"I can help with that..." Guy replied, nudging her hair aside as he kissed her neck.
Madonna smiled, but touched his cheek and pushed Guy away. "I'm not in the mood."
"How about if you don't go to the wedding, just sending Chris and his partner a present?" Guy suggested and Madonna looked at him.
"That's actually a good idea."
"Don't sound so surprised." Guy tried not to smile and Madonna laughed.
"I don't know what I would get them."
"We can both think about that." Guy said, taking Madonna's hand and kissing it, then holding it between both of his. "Have you spoken to your brothers and sisters or your dad about Chris?"
Madonna shook her head. "No, I don't want to involve them. They know how I feel and it isn't fair to expect them to pick sides, when this is between Chris and I."
"Maybe you should arrange to meet Chris and his partner? I don't know...but maybe that might help you make your mind up?"
"Arguing with Chris and there being a really tense atmosphere is one thing in front of you, but in front of a total stranger?"
"What are you afraid of M?" Guy asked and she frowned.
"If I met him and things were still bad between Chris and I, all it would take is for him to mention it to a friend and then it eventually ends up in a magazine or paper."
"Almost everything you say and do ends up being printed, M. Since when has that ever stopped you from doing what you want to do? Where is the fearless woman I married?" Guy said and Madonna looked away, letting her hair obscure her face, feeling her cheeks grow hot.
"The break down of my relationship with Chris is my Achilles Heel." Madonna said, pushing her hair behind her ear, looking at Guy. "Maybe I could meet his partner without actually seeing Chris."
"You'd kind of have to go through Chris to arrange that though."
"Yeah." Madonna sighed, closing all the photo albums.
"Do you want a hand with these?" Guy asked and she nodded. He helped her carry them back upstairs and put them back. Guy looked at the framed picture of Madonna's mother on her bedside table, as they both got back into bed. Madonna followed his gaze to the picture.
"What are you thinking?" Madonna asked, looking back at Guy.
"That life is too short to hold grudges."
"I'm trying." Madonna said in a small voice.
"I know you are M." Guy wrapped his arms around her and Madonna curled into him and eventually drifted off.
Madonna was working in the studio, glad to be there because it took her mind off Christopher and his wedding. In contrast to her being miles away the previous evening, she was focused at work and even managing to goof around a little and have a laugh with the people she was working with.
"M, your dad is on the phone." Guy Oseary walked into the room.
"Did he say what he wanted?"
"Yeah, to talk to you." Guy replied cheekily and Madonna tried not to smile as she hit him in the arm on her way past him and out of the room.
She closed the door to her office and went and sat down, putting the receiver to her ear and taking her dad off hold. "Hi dad. You never call me at work, what's wrong? Are you ok? Is everyone else ok?" Madonna didn't pause for breath.
"Hello Nonnie." Silvio said, using the affectionate nickname he had given her when she was a child. "I am as healthy as possible at my age, everyone is fine. I hope you're not too busy?"
"Chris. This is going to be about Chris, isn't it? Did he put you up to it?" Madonna said in an expressionless tone.
"It is about Chris, but he didn't put me up to it."
Madonna sighed. "Dad, I don't know what you want me to say. I can't help how I feel."
"It's been years Nonnie. In not forgiving your brother, you are hurting yourself. Don't you think it's time to make peace with the past? I would really like to see you at his wedding." Silvio said softly.
"I met up with Chris recently, dad. But it didn't go so well."
"So that's it? YOU are going to give up?" Silvio sounded surprised and disappointed and Madonna felt a knot in her stomach.
"I never said that. I am trying."
"You and Chris used to be so close, Nonnie. If anything happened to either of you and you didn't make up - "
"I wish people would stop saying that!" Madonna snapped.
"Who else has said it?"
"He has a point." Silvio said and Madonna groaned.
"Chris will have a better time if I'm not there."
"Nonnie, you're his sister. He loves you."
"You love me too, dad, when is your book about me coming out?" Madonna asked, frowning as she scribbled idly on a notepad with her free hand.
"That's not fair."
"Neither is what Chris done to me."
"Nobody is perfect, Nonnie."
"You know what dad? I am busy." Madonna said, slamming the phone down in the cradle. She felt wound up and her pulse was racing, so decided to take lunch. Madonna grabbed her coat and bag and left the studio with a couple of bodyguards, nearly breaking out into a run, she wanted to get out of there so fast.
End of Part 5...
"My dad phoned! I mean, can you believe it?!" Madonna slammed her bag down on the kitchen counter.
Guy looked up from his laptop. "Chris?"
"No! He just wants us to make peace and get on. And he said he would like to see me at the wedding." Madonna poured herself a glass of water and sat opposite Guy.
"I thought you were still trying to build bridges with Chris anyway, darlin'?" Guy looked confused.
"I am. But now I feel like I have to go, because I don't want to let my dad down." Madonna sighed.
"M, I think you need to go. Meeting Chris and his partner before would probably be a good idea."
"I suppose it would be ok if you are there with me - at the wedding." Madonna said, but frowned slightly when Guy shifted in his seat. "What? You would come with me, wouldn't you?"
"I have a really heavy filming schedule M. I'm shooting in Mexico in that month." Guy ran a hand through his hair.
"Oh great...so you spend all your time trying to convince me to go to a wedding you can't even attend?" Madonna laughed bitterly. "What a joke." She muttered.
"M, there is no need to be a drama queen, I never said I definitely wouldn't be able to go. And besides, you don't even know if you're going yet, so why are we even arguing about this?" Guy said, throwing both his hands up.
"We're arguing about this, because I want your full support, Guy." Madonna got up, nearly knocking her chair back, clutching her head with both hands. "All the problems in my life involve men...Jesus Christ, what is wrong with you people?"
Guy slammed his laptop shut and got up. "When you decide what you want to do, darlin', let me know." He walked past her with the laptop under his arm.
"Guy!" Madonna called out, and he threw up a hand, signalling for her to drop it.
"Hi Chris, I would like it if we could meet up again." Madonna said, taking a deep breath just before she called him.
"Really? You threw me out last time we tried talking."
"I was a bit hasty."
"What changed your mind?"
Madonna sighed. "Dad."
"He called you?"
"Oh my god, has he got a death wish?" Christopher joked and Madonna couldn't help but laugh.
"Don't tell anyone, I don't want people to start calling me at work, unless it's an emergency."
"I promise." Christopher said. "I never told dad to call you, by the way."
"Did he persuade you to do this?"
"No way." Madonna said stubbornly. "I'm doing this because I want too."
"Do you want to meet Marco too?"
Christopher laughed at her teasing tone. "Yes. He's an Italian hairdresser and I really want you to meet him."
"You sound so happy." Madonna said, chewing her thumbnail.
"Maybe we should clear the air. Or attempt too, before I meet Marco. I don't want to meet him while things are still tense between us. It would be awkward for him."
"He comes from a big family, like us M, he's used to chaos and noise. But you're probably right there." Christopher replied. "When is good for you?"
"In a couple of days? Come to mine."
"I'm glad you called M." Christopher said softly.
"Yeah. I'll see you in a couple of days." Madonna replied and hung up.
Madonna walked across the film set and spotted Guy's director's chair, which was empty because he was busy giving an actress direction. She sat in his chair, crossing her legs and waiting for him to return. When Guy turned around and walked back to his chair, she stood up, holding up a brown paper bag.
"A peace offering. I know you're working late and thought you might get hungry."
Guy kissed Madonna, then took the brown paper bag and smiled. "Thanks darlin'. And it only took a few hours for men to not get on your nerves anymore." He looked at his watch and Madonna tried not to smile, pushing his playfully.
"Don't be mean!"
"Chris is coming over in a couple of days." Madonna said, looking like she felt awkward about it.
"Do you want me to be there again?"
"To be honest Guy, I don't mind. I wanted to be alone after our last encounter, so I don't mind if you need to be here at work. I know you're busy."
"I'm not sure I like leaving you in the house with him." Guy frowned.
"He isn't going to attack me. We are just talking."
"I know, but you looked so vulnerable last time, M. I don't like the thought of you being on your own like that. So I'm going to be around, ok?" Guy held her waist and Madonna nodded, smiling.
"Thank you." She replied and he kissed her.
"Do you have to go right away? There are some people here who would love to meet you." Guy said, holding her waist.
"No, I can hang out." Madonna replied, following Guy to meet some of his cast.
End of Part 6...
On the day Madonna was due to meet up with Christopher again, she was out riding her horse with a couple of friends. She'd decided it might help her relax a bit, before what might be another tense meeting. Madonna parted ways with her friends and put her horse back in the stable, when she heard her phone ring in her bag. She fished it out and answered. It was a hospital, saying Christopher had been beaten up badly and Madonna felt like the air had been knocked out of her. One of her bodyguards drove her straight to the hospital and Madonna tried phoning Guy, but he wouldn't answer and she wondered if he had forgotten Chris was coming over and gone to work. Madonna sighed, wondering why she had been called instead of Marco. The minute she got to the hospital, she rushed inside with her two bodyguards and it looked for a minute like they were chasing her.
"Mrs Ritchie?" A small, delicate looking Indian doctor approached Madonna, but as she was about to walk into the room where Christopher was. "I'm Dr Syal, and I am looking after your brother." She smiled weakly, holding her hand out and Madonna shook it, looking stern and worried.
"What happened to him?" Madonna looked through the glass and saw bruises on Christopher's face and dried blood under his nose.
"He was badly beaten. But Mr Ciccone won't say who done it. He has bruises and a bloody nose, as you can see. Also some broken ribs and a sprained wrist. He was asking for you when he was brought in. Mr Ciccone is clearly traumatised and needs to rest, but I'm sure he would like to see you, Mrs Ritchie."
"Yeah. Thanks." Madonna took a deep breath and went in the room, closing the door and went and sat by Christopher's bed, placing a hand over his hand, smoothing it with her thumb. "Oh Chris, what happened to you?" Madonna whispered, because he was asleep.
Christopher opened his eyes and looked down at Madonna's hand on his and he held her hand. "Guy." He said, looking up at Madonna. "Guy done this to me."
"What?" Madonna whispered, looking horrified.
"It's my fault." Christopher sighed, wincing and clutching his ribs with his other hand.
"Chris, maybe you should rest."
"I'm glad you're here."
"Why would Guy do this to you?" Madonna asked, feeling sick as she asked the question, tears forming in her eyes.
"I arrived early, and Guy said you were out riding. We started talking, and ended up needling each other, because as you know we can barely tolerate each other. It got out of hand and I pushed Guy too far." Christopher sighed. "So it was my fault really."
Madonna frowned, squeezing his hand. "Whatever you said to him, Chris, it's not your fault. There is no excuse for Guy beating you. Did you put up a fight?"
Christopher shook his head. "I was too shocked to be honest."
"How did you get away from him?"
"When Guy stopped kicking the crap out of me on the floor, he just left. Even though I was in a lot of pain, I left out the back and went down the alley behind your garden and called an ambulance. I didn't want it to turn up at your house and draw attention to this." Christopher said, stroking Madonna's hand with his thumb.
"It wouldn't have mattered, Chris. Did you call the police?"
"I don't know. To be honest, I was in so much pain that my first thought was getting to a hospital." Chris replied and Madonna nodded. She let go of his hand and stood up.
"I can call the police."
"No? Chris, you're in a hospital. I can't let him get away with this!" Madonna frowned.
"I know you won't, M. I think you will be scarier than a cell for Guy." Christopher joked.
"Don't even joke right now, Chris." Madonna sat back down.
"He has a really violent streak, your husband." Christopher said, looking at Madonna. "Has he ever...hit you?"
"What? No." Madonna shook her head. "We've had some blazing rows, but he's never physically hurt me." She wiped the tears from her eyes. "I'm going to kill him when I get home."
"You don't have to stay, if you don't want to, M. I am grateful you came though." Christopher said quietly.
"Why didn't you call Marco?" Madonna asked.
"I didn't want him to see me like this. And to be honest, I didn't want you to go home in case Guy went back and he was still really angry."
"Trust me, Guy will be the one needing protection from me, when I get home."
"If he does hurt you though, M - " Christopher started.
"He won't." Madonna said in a defiant way.
"M, however heated you get, you are still a small, very slim woman. If he wanted to hurt you, it wouldn't take much." Christopher said, looking worried.
"Don't worry bout me, Chris. I want you to concentrate on getting better. I can call Marco now, if you like."
"Will you stay with me for a while first?"
When Madonna arrived home, anger had been building inside since she'd seen what Guy had done to Chris, and she was nearly at boiling point - ready to blow. She stomped through the house looking for Guy, and found him up in their bedroom. Madonna had thrown the door open with such force, that it slammed the wall. She ran at Guy and grabbing his arms, digging her fingers into his skin hard, slammed him into a wall.
"How could you? How could you do that to my brother?!" Madonna screamed, her face red, tears streaming down her cheeks.
"M, you need to calm down!" Guy said, as she let go of him.
"Calm down? Calm down? You beat the crap out of my brother! He is in hospital with broken ribs and a sprained wrist!" Madonna continued to yell.
Guy reached out and tried to hold her arms, but Madonna stepped back, looking disgusted.
"Don't touch me, you asshole!" Madonna placed a hand on Guy's chest, pushing him back to the wall, looking at him murderously.
"Do you honestly think Chris is an innocent party in all of this, M? He was taunting me! He was bragging about how easy it would be for him to manipulate you, M." Guy shouted back at her.
"Oh, grow up, Guy! I just saw my brother lying in a hospital and he told me you were kicking him when he was on the floor. What kind of a fucking coward does something like that?" Madonna threw her hands up.
"I was defending your honour."
"This is not the dark ages, Guy!"
"Chris knows he can wind me up. Not so long ago you couldn't stand him, either. Maybe this is part of that manipulation he was talking about to get you back." Guy had barely finished what he was saying, when Madonna slapped him so hard across the face it practically echoed.
"Don't you dare say that. He never asked to be put in hospital! Do you know what? He had them call me. Because he said you were violent and he was actually worried about how safe I would be with you."
"Clearly you are fine, because you can more than handle yourself." Guy said, glaring at Madonna, as he clutched his cheek with both hands.
"He wouldn't even let me call the police." Madonna said, sounding amazed.
"What?" Guy frowned. "You're my wife! You would have actually taken his side and called the police?"
"And Chris is my brother. This went way past the point of being about sides when you done that to him, Guy."
"Don't let him come between us, he isn't worth it, M."
"Chris was right about you, Guy. You have a real violent streak."
"Says the woman who came running in here and slammed me into a wall, then slapped me in the face!" Guy snorted.
"You deserved it. I am so mad, Guy!" Madonna said, frowning.
Guy grabbed her arms and shook Madonna hard. "M, you need to snap out of it!"
"Take your hands off me, you thug!" Madonna wriggled free from his grasp. "Don't touch me!"
"M...you need to calm down..."
"Why? So I don't put up a fight when you hit me?"
"Don't be stupid, I would never hit you." Guy said quietly.
"You need to go." Madonna paced in front of Guy, rubbing her forehead, looking flustered.
"I want you to leave. I can't even share a bed, or a room with you right now, let alone a house." Madonna stopped, looking directly at Guy, as he chest rose and fell with her panicky breaths. He walked right up to her, so his breath was on her face. Madonna backed away and Guy kept walking towards her, until she was backed right up against a wall. "You don't scare me." She said, tilting her chin up.
"Then why were you backing away from me?" Guy asked, a hand on the wall either side of her and he smiled as she looked uncomfortable. He grabbed a bag and threw some clothes and other things he needed in it, with her watching from the wall, too scared to move. Guy glared at Madonna, then left. Madonna slid down the wall and started to cry. She curled up in a fetal position on the floor and stayed there for some time.
End of Part 7...
"Where's dad?" Rocco asked Madonna at dinner that evening.
Madonna stopped eating and looked around the table, at David and Mercy and considered lying for a moment, saying he was working late. She decided against it, because they would know something was up from the atmosphere when he eventually returned. Madonna sighed, looking back at Rocco.
"In a hotel, I imagine. I threw him out." Madonna replied calmly.
"What? Why? Are you arguing again?" Rocco huffed, rolling his eyes.
"No. Actually I threw Guy out because he beat up my brother, Christopher and he ended up in hospital."
"Oh." Rocco looked surprised. "He was probably asking for it though." He muttered.
"I beg your pardon?" Madonna asked.
"Nothing." Rocco looked up at her.
"I want you to leave the table, please, if you have nothing sensible to say."
"But I haven't finished!" Rocco protested.
Madonna leaned forward, fixing Rocco with an icy glare. "Rocco, don't try my patience. Not today." She said in a low, menacing tone.
Rocco frowned at Madonna, then got up and left the table, stomping upstairs to his room.
"Is Uncle Chris ok?" Mercy asked and Madonna was touched when she saw genuine concern in her daughter's eyes.
"Yes. He has bruises on his face, a few broken ribs and a sprained wrist." Madonna's voice wobbled slightly, and she picked up her knife and fork and continued to eat.
Mercy and David exchanged a look, then David spoke.
"Dad beat him up pretty bad - for Uncle Chris to end up in hospital."
Madonna looked at them both. "Guy told me that Chris was taunting him about me. Not that it excuses what he done. Violence is never the answer."
"Why didn't Guy just throw him out?" David asked.
"Chris was supposed to be meeting me, so we could talk. He was early, I was out riding. He and Guy have never liked each other. The pair of them are worse than children."
"Are you talking to Uncle Chris now then?" Mercy asked.
"KInd of." Madonna replied.
Nothing more was said on the topic, and the children were telling Madonna what they'd done in school, and the atmosphere was less strained and more cheerful at the table. When they'd finished, Madonna went up to Rocco's room and knocked on the door.
"Can we talk?"
"Yeah." Rocco said and Madonna went in his room, closing the door and sat on the bed next to him. Rocco was messing around on his phone.
"I'm disappointed in you, Rocco. I don't want you to think that beating someone up because they are taunting you is acceptable." Madonna said firmly. "And I would prefer it if you looked at me and paid attention to you, when I am talking to you, Rocco." She took his phone.
"Hey - !" Rocco frowned. "I'm not being funny mom, but you don't even get on with Chris. Maybe dad was defending you?"
"He should have just walked away from Chris, not put him in hospital. I don't want you to think acting like a thug is acceptable. I don't want you - "
"To be like dad?" Rocco looked at Madonna with an amused expression.
"This isn't funny, Rocco, I'm being serious."
"I'm going to be like you and dad - flaws and all, whether you like it or not, mom."
"That's not an excuse, Rocco. You can always change to improve yourself." Madonna replied.
"Are you going to get a divorce? Because I don't want you too." Rocco said, actually looking worried.
"I doubt it. But I'm still really angry with Guy."
"What if you were dad, listening to someone bad-mouth your wife?" Rocco asked and Madonna sat back, chewing her lower lip, not expecting him to ask that question.
"I don't know. I might have been pretty angry too, I guess." Madonna admitted.
"There you go. Most people would have reacted the same way."
"I would rather you keep that kind of opinion in your head, Rocco. David and Mercy are at an impressionable age, and I want you and Lola when she is here to set a good example to them."
"Ok. I'm sorry. Do you want me to talk to them about how violence is wrong?" Rocco asked almost sarcastically.
"Don't mock me Rocco." Madonna stood up, slamming his phone down on the bed next to him. "If this is going to be your attitude while you are home, you can stay up here in your room." She said, and left before he could reply.
"You haven't returned my messages. M, I really wanted to talk to you last night." Guy said the following day. He had gone to the studio to talk to her, and they were in her office.
"I was still angry, Guy. I still am." Madonna said, staring at him. "I was also busy telling Rocco that what you done was unacceptable, seeing as he seems to think beating people up is perfectly fine."
"You told him?"
"And Mercy and David. Rocco asked where you were at dinner and I didn't see the point in lying. When you come home, the atmosphere isn't going to be great and they will know something is wrong."
"Chris is fine, by the way. Thanks for asking. He called me last night when he was discharged from the hospital."
"Call the police. I know you want too." Guy pushed the phone towards Madonna.
"Don't tempt me. The only reason I'm not is because of the children. It's unfair to put them through the inevitable circus that would ensue if you were arrested."
"M, I didn't do it to hurt you."
"What did you expect, Guy? That I would jump for joy and thank you?"
"No, I guess not."
"My father called me just now and I had to try and stick up for Chris and you, and also tell him I was mad at you also. That was one of the most stressful conversations I've ever had." Madonna sat back, sighing and running a hand through her hair.
"Let me start making it up to you. I can talk to Rocco, if that would help?"
Madonna shook her head. "He's just a typical teenager at the moment. But there is something you could do to start making it up to me."
"What is it? Anything."
"Apologise to Chris."
"Are you kidding me?"
"You put my brother in hospital, are you kidding me?" Madonna replied hotly.
"Like Chris would even see me anyway."
"I would be there of course. Unless you want to continue threatening me as well..."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You shook me and backed me into a corner, Guy."
"And you were hysterical, darlin'. M, you pushed me into a wall and slapped me. I thought I was pretty restrained, compared to you."
"It's a shame you couldn't demonstrate that restraint with Chris." Madonna folded her arms.
Guy stood up. "I have to get back to work."
"That's it? You're giving up?"
"No, you obviously still need time to calm down." Guy said and left with Madonna watching, her jaw dropped.
End of Part 8...
"I think you should come home." Madonna said, balancing the phone between her shoulder and her ear, as she carefully pulled her big, bulging diary out of her bag.
It had been a few days since she kicked Guy out and he'd gone to stay in a hotel and she did miss him, although she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of admitting that.
"Are you going to yell at me or hit me the minute I get through the door?" Guy asked and Madonna rolled her eyes.
"No. I was angry and shocked, Guy. You have a lot of making up to do."
"If you can forgive Chris, you can forgive me."
"Guy, stop talking, before I change my mind." Madonna said and hung up, sighing.
"I go back to college for five minutes and all this drama happens?" Lourdes said, walking through the door, carrying a bag, another slung over her shoulder.
Madonna smiled and hugged her daughter. "I'm so glad you're home. And how did you know?"
"Rocco and I text each other."
"Are you and Guy breaking up this time?"
Madonna looked away from Lourdes, shaking her head. "Even though he is making is incredibly hard right now, I love Guy."
"What about Chris? Have you asked him about what he was saying to wind Guy up?"
"No. I should really. I just don't want to sound like I'm accusing him of causing trouble, or justifying what Guy done to him."
"Don't you want to know what happened though?"
"I guess." Madonna ran both hands through her hair. "I wish I could go to college with you, when you leave again, Lola. This is such a mess."
"I was thinking, if you do decide to go to the wedding, I could go with you. I doubt Chris would want Guy there, and Rocco wouldn't go." Lourdes suggested.
"That's really sweet of you, Lola." Madonna smiled.
"It gives me an excuse to buy something new to wear, or raid your wardrobe??" Lourdes half asked and Madonna laughed.
"Are you hungry?"
"Let's go out to lunch, my treat. I need to relax before Guy comes home this evening." Madonna said, as Lourdes put both her bags down and they left the house.
"I'll go and sleep in one of the guest rooms if you want, darlin'." Guy said, when he finally made an appearance that evening, as Madonna was getting ready for bed.
"Why didn't you come home for dinner?" Madonna asked, tilting her head to take her earrings out and looking at Guy.
"I thought it might be a bit tense."
"Don't stay in one of the guest rooms." Madonna replied and Guy looked surprised.
"I missed you." Guy said, looking at Madonna with a longing.
"It was only a few days. We've been apart longer." Madonna replied, trying to act cool, but Guy could tell she had missed him too.
"I need to smooth things out with Chris. I was thinking, if you go to the wedding that Rocco should go with you. I can talk to him and tell him what I done was wrong and - "
"Do you really believe that?" Madonna interrupted.
"I'm not entirely sure, if I'm being honest. But I can convince him."
"Lola has offered to come with me, so I might as well take Mercy and David too. But it would be nice if Rocco came. Chris isn't - "
"I know he won't want me there." Guy interrupted Madonna.
"Guy, I'm not even definitely going yet. This is all getting complicated." Madonna held her hands up either side of her face, looking stressed. "I need to talk to Chris first. Because if it turns out he was winding you up, that could decide whether I go or not." Madonna paced the floor in front of Guy. "Other people's weddings aren't supposed to be this stressful for the guests!"
"Then just send a gift, like I suggested." Guy replied. "I wish I could say something that would help, but it just causes arguments."
"And I wish you hadn't hurt Chris like that." Madonna said, standing still and looking at Guy. "Although I overreacted. I am sorry for pushing you into the wall and hitting you."
"Don't apologise, M. I deserved it. And I shouldn't have tried to intimidate you."
"I'm glad you're here." Madonna said, hesitating, then she hugged Guy.
He closed his eyes, kissing the top of her head and holding her. "Me too."
End of Part 9...