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  • Carla Buchanan

BGGM Entry 7: Friday, December 18, 2026

This is a work of fiction. Any names, places, characters, and happenings are solely products of the author’s imagination or fictitious retellings. Any likeness to actual events, locations, persons living or dead, is coincidental.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system - except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper - without permission in writing from the publisher.

**Readers 18 and up only please**.






I don’t want to go to the interview with Gray Mason, but it’s what my father needs from me. I’ve caused enough stress for him, on top of the stress my brother is causing, and right now he deserves a break. However, it doesn’t change the fact that I had no desire to take precious time away from the time I’ve been spending with Valentine, getting to know him again.

After I decided to plan a move back to Anson Valley, we also decided not to flaunt our relationship, at least not right now. The gossip mill was still churning after my brother’s situation and the kiss at Lana Lou’s, so we figured this was the perfect time to just be us.

Hiding out from the rest of the town, we make out a lot and have extensive conversations about the MV generator and what its discovery could mean during our quality time. We talk about everything we’ve seen thus far, the descriptions of some of the worlds in my mother’s notebooks, and the possibility of a grand conspiracy that includes the Lacoste’s.

I end up mostly dismissing the theories, trying to convince myself that I would know they were hiding something after being around them while dating Beau. Though, by the time I have to leave the house again, the Lacoste conspiracy seems more and more plausible, especially when the contents of Beau’s texts to me during those days are uncharacteristically nice.

Also, during those days we have to ourselves I voice my concerns about being Breanna’s stepmother. Of course, Valentine tells me I have nothing to worry about and I agree as far as getting along with Breanna. In this case, I don’t think Breanna will be the problem, the conflict will come from her mother who might make things hard for Valentine to have a relationship with his daughter if he and I are together.

Yes, Brenna Oliver hates me that much.

We might be together, but we haven’t had sex and that’s more about him than me. Sigh… Valentine is being a perfect gentleman, deciding we won’t have sex until our relationship is made public… officially. As much as he claims to not care what the people of Anson Valley think of him, just like #2, he has a desire to give them a metaphorical middle finger.

To maintain our privacy, and to steer clear of the MV Generator’s tempting draw, we have been staying at my cabin. We’ve decided to get through my birthday, and possibly through the new year before doing anything that will take up our time long-term.

I have a feeling anything to do with navigating the multiverse is going to be long-term.

I’ve tried to enjoy being on a mini honeymoon that includes no sex and no pillow talk about the crazy uncle who got drunk at our wedding. I’ve tried not to think about #2 or why we haven’t heard from him in the past few days, but I can’t help but bring it up from time to time. Valentine is sure not hearing from #2 is a good thing, though, I’m sure his reasons for thinking that have nothing to do with the MV Generator or any mission regarding the device. However, without sex, I’m a little sexually frustrated which allows my mind to wonder. Not that anyone would blame me because who wouldn’t be sexually frustrated with a gorgeous specimen like Valentine Trudeau walking around in nothing but a pair of gray sweatpants. And to add insult to injury Valentine likes to cuddle until I fall asleep which only happens after he removes those gray pants leaving him in only his thin boxer briefs.

Nonetheless, as soon as I was sure Valentine would renegue on his declaration to wait for sex, Gray contacts me to schedule the interview and Brenna invites Valentine to dinner with her family, which brings our honeymoon to an end. I had to leave his arms to get ready for my interview, and Valentine had to go meet his brother to talk about the Anson Cafe franchise’s expansion beyond the southeastern part of the United States so I wouldn’t be seeing him until really late.

It seemed life was going on regardless of the fact that I had access to a machine that could transport me to other universes.

“This is an interesting spot for us to conduct an interview,” I say to Gray, extending my hand to him in greeting. I look around the small cave where I met Valentine Trudeau some years ago. He found me here that day drunk out of my mind, feeling sorry for myself which led to a lasting friendship and a marriage.

The lookout is my favorite spot in Anson Valley even with my fear of heights. Right now, it doesn’t feel like my favorite spot and I’m not sure why.

“We know one another well enough for a hug, don’t we?” Gray asks and I shrug. I let him wrap his arms around me for a hug that goes on for seconds too long. I swear I hear him sniff my hair before I pull away and walk deeper into the cave opening that’s been converted into a seating area for tourists and locals.

Further inside are two ring lights on tripods, a camera on a tripod, but no photographer to be seen. One of the benches has been moved into the spot in front of the cameras and a thickly knitted cream-colored blanket is draped over the bench. There’s a small foldaway table with a laptop and two Anson Cafe to-go cups atop, and a portable space heater at the foot of both lightstands.

I knew there’d be a photographer, but I had no idea it would be Gray. I also didn’t think the setup would be so elaborate, thinking a quick shoulder and up photo was all he’d need for the Valley Times.

“Have a seat,” Gray says, gesturing to the bench covered in the cream-colored blanket. Honestly, I appreciate the gesture because my tight leather pants aren’t necessarily cold bench friendly. “I’m going to start the camera on my laptop so I can be able to review it later to add to the article if I need to. We’ll do the interview and then a few pictures,” Gray explains. “Creamy and sweet right,” Gray says, and I don’t know what he’s referring to, so I open my mouth and close it. A moment later I breathe out a nervous sigh mixed with a small laugh when he reaches for one of the cups on the small table. I nod, not knowing how he knows how I like my coffee, but figuring he probably asked around, so he’d have a way to break the ice. I thank him and take the cup, taking my first sip before sitting down again.

Gray walks back over to the computer and clicks around so I take the time to send a quick message to Valentine when I remember he asked me to let him know when I arrived. Valentine doesn’t like Gray Mason, doesn’t trust him, and is sure his brother mentioned going out with the man a few times even though Gray claims not to like men.

“A fluffy throw can make any room a lot more comfortable,” Gray says, and I frown.

“Excuse me,” I say. “Where did you hear those -”

“Your blog… I like to do my research. When I start my list of questions, you’ll see I’ve been very thorough,” Gray adds in explanation. I instantly get nervous because there’s no way he would’ve plugged my name into any background search and not see that I got married to Valentine Trudeau a decade before. “It’s always interesting to see what I might find out about someone,” he says. If I wasn’t sure before that he knows I’m married to Valentine, I am now. Gray’s smile when he rises from what he was doing on the computer is knowing and sinister. He then approaches me like what he knows gives him an advantage over me, and I must admit… it does give him an advantage.

Taking another sip of the coffee, my mind starts to work. The time spent on that other world has me paranoid and I’m starting to think everyone I’ve ever wronged in any way plans to come after me for revenge. But I’m being ridiculous to ever worry about Gray Mason. He’s the guy people used to call the ‘mama’s boy’. He’s not some criminal, he’s a reporter who has done his due diligence and found out something about me that anyone could find out if they dug deep enough.

Gray sits next to me with his own cup of coffee in one hand. In his other, he’s holding printer paper with typing on it that must be the questions he plans to ask. He sets the coffee on the bench between us, and I do the same.

“So, I already know the basics about you. Twenty-eight, a stylist to some of Silicon Valley’s most elite residents, living on the West Coast, engaged to a future politician who some say will be president,” Gray says. “I guess what our readers would like to know is how will your engagement affect your current marriage? I mean, last I checked bigamy is illegal yet here you are married to one man and engaged to another.”

I stand quickly which makes the fluffy blanket shift. Both of our coffee cups go tumbling, both tops popping off when they hit the cream-colored blanket. Brown liquid drenches the fabric and Gray curses.

“Shit!” I say and start to reach for the cups.

“Leave it, I’ll get it,” Gray says with more anger than he should feel over some spilled coffee.

“No, it’s my fault. I’ll… What is that Gray?” I ask when we reach for my cup at the same time and more of its contents come out which include small white chunks. I consider for the briefest of moments that it might be sugar but when Gray’s silence extends for much too long, I look up at him and see that his face is a bright shade of red. He’s frozen, his mouth opening and closing like it's independent of his stark still body. “Is that medication? Drugs…? Did you try to drug me, Gray?” I ask outright and then quickly stand. I teeter on my heels but I’m positive it’s not from the few sips of the coffee I’ve had.

When I reach for my bag, Gray’s large hand clamps around my wrist. He yanks my arm, knocking me off balance. The four-inch heel of my black bootie leaves the ground, my ankle twists, and I’m falling. The side of my body hits the cave floor and the wet blanket does nothing to cushion my fall. Before pain can register, Gray drags me by the arm he still holds without care or gentleness. Pain radiates through the limb and continues to burn when he stops in the middle of the space like he needs me to be in front of his computer’s camera.


~~~~~


“Gray! What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I scream at him, but he doesn’t answer. I try to fight back. I try to struggle and make him let me go. But the way he holds me keeps me from being able to reach him. When he lets go, I’m sure it’s my chance. I scramble, trying to get to my feet but I’m not fast enough. Something hits me from the side, the front of it burning me through my leather leggings and melting some of the fabric onto my leg.

I realize he’s just hit me with the space heater, but the hit is too low to stop my attempt to escape.

“See… I’m no pussy,” Gray yells, but he isn’t yelling at me. He’s yelling at his computer. “Everyone keeps trying to tell me I’m not who I say I am. How could I have been in love with you for my entire life if I like men?” Gray continues. “You see,” he says pointing to the crotch of his jeans that now sports the bulge of an erection. “I’m hard for you, Chrissy. You were the only girl who could ever do this to me. Now you’re the only woman,” Gray rants at me. He’s no longer paying attention to the computer that is on and recording. I wonder why he feels the need to record himself committing a crime but all the better for me when I need proof of what he’s done.

That is if I get out of this in one piece.

“What do you need from me, Gray?” I ask and then slowly, and cautiously, stand. He doesn’t try to knock me to the floor again and I’m grateful. I wince in pain as I stand knowing there is a burn on my leg, bruises and scrapes from falling and being dragged, and possibly a sprained ankle. “Why did you set all of this up? To rape me? On camera?” I ask and nod at the computer.

“You’re married to one man and engaged to another. You’re not one to judge,” Gray qualifies, and I frown. “Hell, you owe me. You teased me with your flirty smiles, agreed to date me, and then denied me. I doubt you can use the excuse of being a virgin now so you should have no problem. Think of it as a business transaction. You pay me not to tell anyone your secret.”

“No,” I say and realize I’m panting. “That’s crazy, Gray. I won’t have sex with you so you won’t tell anyone I’m married to Valentine.”

My heart thuds rapidly and my hands sweat inside my fleece-lined leather gloves. Instead of calming, I seem to be getting more worked up as each second passes with me in this place, with Gray as a foreboding obstacle, preventing me from leaving.

Gray laughs maniacally. “You’ve always cared what the people of Anson Valley think of you. I can imagine you care what the Lacoste’s think of you,” Gray says, proving he’s done his research. He stalks toward me as he speaks but I don’t move. My ankle is in too much pain to run so I know I won’t get very far. “If this gets out, you’ll embarrass your father, your fiancé, and yourself,” Gray continues, his last words bringing him within reaching distance.

I contemplate where I can kick him, the angle of it and if I will get away with my injured ankle. If I dare try to balance on my ankle to lift my foot from the ground, my ankle will buckle underneath me. I consider biting him instead, thinking it might incapacitate him enough for me to run. My heels could probably injure him significantly, probably even kill him, but I wonder if I get that chance should I use it to run away instead.

I’m still contemplating when Gray finally grabs me by my biceps, pulls me into his form, and buries his face into my neck. He tries to suck on the column of my neck, and I don’t think I just react. My mouth opens and I try to imagine something good to eat as my teeth break his skin and the coppery taste of his blood fills my mouth. When he yelps, I reach down and squeeze the erection he says only I can give him, doing what I can to make it go away.

I wait for the screaming, the cursing, the yelping, and the inevitable release. When it all happens exactly that way, triumph overwhelms me and then I run. I ignore the excruciating pain with every other step, determined to get as far away as possible without stopping.

I run out of the mouth of the cave and toward the three steps that lead to the small parking area. I curse at my stupidity when I realize I’ve left my bag behind that has my keys and phone inside. I curse several times but know I can’t be too hard on myself since I was thinking about escaping with my dignity and my life, not about the two-hundred-dollar bag and thousand-dollar phone I don’t need.

“Chrissy… you bitch,” Gray yells, catching up to me with little to no problem. He holds his neck where I bit him, but other than that he appears to be unscathed and even angrier than before. I keep running but his hand latches onto my hair. I start to fall backward but don’t hit the ground. Gray wraps his arms around me in a bear hug and I struggle against his hold, suddenly wishing I hadn’t passed on the self-defense class one of my styling clients offered to pay for. “This could’ve been easy,” he says. “Now I have to figure out what to do with you.”

“You can let her go, Gray,” a woman’s voice says. I know the voice, it’s Samanda, Valentine’s sister who is also the chief of police in Anson Valley. I look up to see her further down on the path pointing a gun in our direction. She is standing with her feet wide, and eyes trained as if waiting for an opportunity to use the weapon on Gray.

“Let her go, Gray,” the uniformed man with Samanda says placing his hands in the air in surrender. I guess he’s the good cop in this good-cop-bad-cop situation, probably because he knows Gray - or at least that’s what his tone suggests.

“Cobb, you shouldn’t be here,” Gray yells. That’s right I remember the cop with Samanda. Chevy Cobb. He graduated from AVH two years before me. He went to some military school and was injured badly during an Army/Navy football game. I didn’t know he had come back to live and work in Anson Valley but here he is, trying to talk some sense into the man he used to treat like a little brother.

“It’s my job to be here, Gray,” Chevy says. “And I’m not leaving until you put down the gun.”

Gun? When did Gray produce a gun?

“I need her, Cobb. She’s my proof. She’s my proof that those things I did weren’t really me.”

“This isn’t the way, Gray,” Chevy says.

I sense Samanda’s movement and realize Chevy is trying to distract Gray so Samanda can do whatever it is she plans to do. I’m not sure I agree with the plan, especially now that I know I’m in the middle of a standoff involving three guns, none of which I possess.

Looking out of the corner of my eye, I decide I should brace myself for something to happen. When it does, I’m not at all prepared.


~~~~~


Behind me, Gray cries out but I have no idea why. He goes rigid behind me and curses, and then I’m released. I stumble forward as the gun clangs to the ground, and someone starts to struggle with Gray. I turn to see who saved me since Samanda is still approaching with her gun out and see Valentine. Valentine holds Gray around the neck, dragging him away from me, and doesn’t let go until Gray is limp in his arms. Valentine then gently lays the man on the ground and leaves him lying there to come to me.

“He’s fine,” Valentine says as if he knows I’ll ask about Gray. He then wraps his arms around me. I wince when he squeezes me and he pulls away, holding me at arm’s length. “Where are you hurt?”

“How did you know?” I ask instead of answering, knowing if I tell him the truth about how much pain I’m in, he’ll be overly concerned.

“The camera,” he says which makes my hand fly to my mouth. I consider that incident might be all over the internet and hot tears form along my lower lids. I try to hold them back, but they spill over onto my face when I think about the implications of what was said and done in that cave.

“Everyone saw what he tried to do? Everyone heard what he said?”

“What…? No…” Valentine pulls me into his hard body again which makes me wince again. He lets me go like I’m on fire and then says, “Like the camera on the mountain coming into town. They’re motion-activated. We’ve had one too many accidents up here just like on the mountain and several other spots around town. Sam called me and told me to get here as soon as possible, that she saw Gray trying to hurt you.”

“Oh, so no one knows what he’s done?”

“No. But soon everyone will,” Valentine says like he plans to be the one to tell them.

“No. Won’t it just make things worse? I doubt he’ll try -”

“Sorry, Chrissy… that’s not up to you,” Samanda says, cutting me off after overhearing our conversation. “Gray threatened two members of law enforcement with a deadly weapon,” she adds. “You mind helping Chevy get Gray into the car?” Samanda asks Valentine.

“I’m fine,” I say when Valentine is reluctant to leave my side, even though I’m not sure I am.

“The ambulance is on the way. I called them on the way over. I want them to take you in and look you over. You could have bruised, or broken ribs and I doubt that melted leather is just a ruined pair of pants. Those burns are going to need to be treated,” Samanda says and I’m about to tell her that I’m fine like I told Valentine but can’t seem to bring myself to voice that lie again. Now that I’m no longer in danger, the pain I’m in slowly starts to register. “I don’t understand it,” Samanda says in awe. “Gray is the one who wrote the story about the cameras and all of the places they were being placed around town. He should’ve known better,” Samanda says, and then curses when she realizes I’m in a lot of pain.

I take a step, intending to go sit on the bench a dozen or so feet away but I second-guess that decision when pain from all over my body insists, I sit down. It’s only then that I notice it’s uncomfortable to breathe since breathing, mixed with my furiously shaking limbs aggravates every one of my injuries. Defying better sense, and because I’m teetering, I know I need to make it to the bench or fall on my face. However, when my ankle starts to scream bloody murder, the pain in my side takes my breath away, and the melted leather on my burnt leg pulls at the flesh it’s stuck to, I lose my balance. Samanda curses and tries to catch me but on my hurt side so when she grips me, pain shoots through me with renewed intensity. I cry out but my cry is cut off by a yelp when I am lifted from the ground.

“An ambulance is already on the way, Val,” Samanda assures Valentine, and before she can finish her sentence the sound of a siren rings out. Less than a minute later, an ambulance appears in the parking lot at the top of the hill.

Valentine doesn’t wait for them; he carries me up the hill to meet them. I groan and complain and curse but try to remain strong even though I can feel hot tears of pain streaming down my face.

I don’t get what just happened. I know what happened, but I don’t understand why now, why here. I don’t understand why Gray snapped and feel terrible that the reason he did has anything to do with me being back in town.

We meet the paramedics as they are exiting the vehicle. When one of the men tries to take me from him, Valentine brushes him away and tells him to just get the hell into the back. The paramedic does and then says, “Val, I know you want to help but only family can ride with the patient. Company rules.”

“I’m her fucking husband you idiot. Now, let’s get this bus going, Lex.”

The paramedic, Lex, who seems to know Valentine looks at me and I nod. “He’s telling the truth,” I say.

“Oh… okay,” Lex stutters out.

The paramedic stays stuck there much too long digesting that information, making Valentine bark, “get the fuck over it and see to her injuries, Lex.”

Lex tells the driver who is getting out to help that he’s already secured the patient. Lex gets back in and shuts the doors, and before he can sit Valentine starts to tell him, “She has pain on her right side and -”

“Sorry, Val. This is my show now. I’m going to need my patient to answer my questions for herself if she can.” Lex looks down at where I lay on the bed as I feel the jerk of the vehicle beginning its dash across town. I groan at each movement but manage to answer when Lex asks, “You can speak? Can you tell me where you feel pain?”

“I can,” I say feeling quite ridiculous laying down with the two men hovering on either side of me. “And it’s Christmas.”

“Wait… that’s Mayor Anson’s daughter's name.”

“My god Lex… This is the mayor’s daughter,” Valentine says with exasperation and anger.

Then, like he can’t keep up with the conversation, Lex further enrages Valentine by asking, “You’re married to the mayor’s daughter?”



*****

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BGGM is on hiatus until September due to author health issues. Please check back then or follow the author on Instagram for current updates on A Black Girl's Guide to the Multiverse blog novel.