I do not own the Fifty Shades Trilogy or its characters; those belong to E. L. James. However, my characters do belong to me.

Chapter 4 | Work Is My Therapy

GREY

“Dammit!”  How the fuck did I miss her call?  I never miss a call, especially not Ana’s.  I got her message from last night, or early this morning depending on how you look at it, but I did not call her right away.  I had a morning meeting and I know she is not an early riser.  Her voice sounded like an angel calling to me.

“Hi Christian.  I apologize for calling at this hour.  I could not sleep.  I wanted to hear your voice and tell you I miss you.  Give me a call when you get time.  I love you Christian.”

Now I missed her.

”Mr. Grey, I apologize sir.  I stepped away from my desk for a moment to finish preparing the Taiwan business plans.  Your telephone must have rung while I was away.  I found you as fast as I could.  I apologize sir.”  Andrea is as pale as a ghost and shaking.  Damn.  Am I THAT big of an ass?  Do you want the short answer or should I expound on your inquiry?  Neither, I know what type of son of a bitch I am, thank you very much for your two cents.  Not a problem.  Glad to help.  I have to stop talking to myself.

“Andrea, it is not your fault.  You were right to work on the business plan.  It is what I asked you to do.  I have to be in Taiwan in a few hours and I need the information.  Thank you.”  HA!  I LOVE this new look everyone gets when you behave like a human being, rather than a ranting lunatic.  So do I.  Andrea’s mouth dropped open and she is looking at me like I am standing here naked with two heads.  I want to laugh.

“Is there a problem Andrea?”

“No sir.”  She shakes her head for emphasis.  “I have more information to compile for you.”  I simply nod.  She actually backs out of the room.  I smile and shake my head.

Meetings, meetings and more meetings, I have been on the run for hours.  I called Ana, but she was in a meeting herself.  I told Hanna to let her know I called and that I will be leaving for Taiwan on business today.  Hanna is always so fucking chipper.  I just hope she gets the message to Ana before I leave.  Only time will tell.  You called, that is the important thing.  I know you wanted to hear her voice, but…all good things, you know.  Yeah, I know.  I tell her that all the time.

Hey, Grey, I feel exactly the same way, but it is what it is.  You have to work…

No I do not and you know it.

…she has to work…

Not if she does not want to work.

…and most importantly, you are giving her the time and space she said she wanted.  Every cloud man and remember, no strong-arming her from Asia.  You promised time and space, no matter how bad it hurts.  If she calls be cordial at least and pour your heart out to her at most.  If she tells you she wants to see you, offer to come home ASAP or offer to fly her to Taiwan.  It is that easy.  There is no other way to approach this situation.

Easier said my friend.

Sadly, I know.

I try to reach Ana…again.  The fuck with Hanna, I will just leave a voicemail.  “Ana, baby, I love you.  I am sorry I did not get to speak with you directly.  I am going overseas to work on the Taiwanese shipyard deal.  I do not know how long I will be away.  Your birthday will be here in a few days and I truly regret missing your celebration.  You are welcome to join me overseas any time you like baby and I will try to make it up to you.  Please remember, not a second goes by without me thinking about you.  I will call you once I get to the hotel.  I will probably have to leave a message because of the time difference. I will miss you so much. Bye baby.”

I told Ros to take time off to be with Gwen.  I also told Taylor to stay home with Gail, they both looked like I was in a wrap-around jacket when I told him.  Reynolds is back from his leave so he is going with me.  This is going to be the worst trip yet, I can tell already and I still have not talked to Ana.

I board my jet, greet Steven, the pilot, and Natasha, the flight attendant.  Ana should be here with me, not Reynolds.  I sigh as I go to the master cabin to try to reach Ana one last time before I depart.  I hold my breath while I wait for her voicemail to pick up.

“Hello, Christian!”  Finally.  I smile to myself because she sounds like a kid on Christmas morning, getting a call from Santa himself.

“Hey baby.  How are you?”  You just do not know how much I love hearing your voice.  It would be even better if you were here next to me.

“I guess I am ok.”  She guesses.  What is that supposed to mean?  Sawyer has not said anything about her being sick.  Now I am worried.  I cannot leave her if she is ill.

“Are you sick baby?  Is there anything I can do for you?  I can call mom to come and check on you.”

“No, that is not necessary Christian.  I am fine.  Where are you?  What are you doing?”

Hmm, either she did not listen to her messages, Hanna never told her I called or she is being obtuse.  Down killer, she is a busy lady.

“Nothing really, just getting ready for a business trip.”  You did not mention where you are going.  I do not believe she will care if I am out of the country or not.  Then why didn’t you say where you were going?  What the fuck difference does it make as long as I am not around to get in her way?  Fuck, aren’t you touchy.  Can I get back to my call or what?  Please do, anything to get that nasty ass attitude under control.

“Business trip?  Where are you going?”  She sounds odd, nervousness maybe.

“I am going to Taiwan.  The ship yard deal needs a little shove in the right direction.”

“Where is Ros?  Why can’t she go in your place?”

“It is my company baby, they have seen Ros now it is time for me to step in and kick some ass.  Besides, work is my therapy. You know that.”

“Yes, I know.”  She seems a little off.  Does she actually miss me or is there something or even someone else?  Please God, do not let there be anything, else, wrong.

“Anastasia, this will be good for us.”  You do not believe that for one second.  “My being away will give you the freedom you want.  I ask that you keep Sawyer with you.  He is head of Security now.”

“Sawyer, where is Taylor?  Isn’t he with you?”

“Taylor is on vacation with Gail and we assigned Ryan to cover Grey House and Escala.  This way, you do not have to worry about any intrusion on your privacy.  Sawyer will only report to Taylor and even then only if there is a danger or you succumb to a severe illness, nothing more.”  I have to admit it Grey you planned this well.  I am proud of you.  I would smile, but it hurts too fucking much.

“WHAT!  CHRISTIAN, ARE YOU CRAZY?”  What the fuck is her problem?  We are giving her time and space, ample amounts of space if you ask me.

“I am giving you time and space baby.  Please stay with Sawyer and you will be fine.”  I hope.

“I told mom and Mia not to bother you about family dinners or shopping trips because you are busy with work. They asked about wedding preparations and I told them there was no hurry.  I did not tell them we are not together.  You can tell them if you like.”

I believe this is everything.  I run through my mental task list quickly to be sure I did not forget to tell someone to leave Anastasia alone.  I think you got them all Grey.  Oh, hey…what about the publishing house?  Are you going to let her know Ros is overseeing the project from this point on?  We will handle this the same as any other GEH acquisition.  If there is a problem with negotiations, then Ros will call me.  The project is almost complete anyway so Ros will meet with Roach and the editors soon and tell them she is in charge now that they are a GEH subsidiary.  Roach will be ecstatic to know he will not have to see or deal with me anymore; at least not directly.  Anastasia can hear the news straight from Ros.  Then she does not have to question its validity.

“If there is something I missed, something you need or anything you want, please tell Sawyer and he will take care of it.  I will stay as far away as I can.”  I whisper, almost to myself.  This is killing me.  She does not know how difficult this is for me.

“Ok Christian, if that is what you want.”  She sounds so small and timid.

What I want is immaterial now baby.  Keep this at the forefront of your memory Grey.

“I am a simple girl Christian, you knew that when you met me.  I have always been very self-sufficient, I do not want your money or to be praised because of my relationship with you.  You of all people should understand.  I want to bring something to the table other than my student loans.”

“I cannot be in your shadow Christian.  The world will not take me seriously when it turns out that I have what I have because I am engaged or married to “the Christian Grey, CEO, Grey Enterprise Holding, Incorporated.”

She said she cannot get that acceptance she wants with me in the way, so I will not be in her way.  I am not trying to make her feel bad.  I simply do not know what else to do.  I have told her repeatedly, she has all the power.  I am nothing without her.  She is my lifeline.  So for now, I will wander in the darkness she helped me escape from so she can have the time and space she needs.

“No baby, this is not what I want, but this is not about me it is about you.  You told me I suffocated you.  You told me you needed time and space.  I have told you many times I want you safe and happy.  Sawyer will keep you safe, if you allow him to and my being away will give you the time and space you want so that you can reach your goal.  Ultimately, this will make you happy.  I will give you whatever your heart desires Ana including my absence.”

Come on Grey get the fuck off of the telephone.  Steven will take off soon and we can get the fuck out of dodge.  This shit is more painful than I dreamed it would be.  Now I feel like we have to justify giving her what she said she wanted in the first place.  Come on Grey, it is time to go.

“I guess when you put it like that, I understand your point of view.”  She wants this.  She was just getting tired of saying the words to me over and over.  It is time for me to listen.

“Look Ana, Steven is almost ready to take off so I have to go.  I love you and I hope to see you again soon my love.  Laters baby.”

“Laters.”  I end the call and shake my head.

I have a really bad feeling about all of this.

Ditto.


We should be married by now we should be together.  These should be the best days of our lives.  Instead, I sit here feeling like my chest is going to explode.  I can hardly fucking breathe my throat is so tight.

How long can I stay in Asia without losing my mind?  There was a deal in Australia Ros was talking about a few months back.  Maybe I will travel Down Under once I am finished in Taiwan.  The more distance between me and the States the easier it will be for Ana to succeed in her goal.

Pardon me for being the voice of reason here shit head but what the fuck about your family?

Mom will understand.  I explained this was business.  She always understands business.

Are you serious about not going straight back home when we get done in Taiwan?  I mean, the Aussie deal would be a real steal, but won’t you miss Steele even a little bit?

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?  Where the fuck have you been all this time?  I miss her now.  I will miss her a hell of a lot more than a little bit.  Do not fuck with me.  I am really not in the mood for anyone’s bullshit, including yours.

Excuse the fuck out of me.  I was just asking a question.  Who the fuck farted in your Fruit Loops?

I am losing the only woman I ever loved, that is what the fuck is wrong with me.  If anyone understands I expect it to be you.  Anastasia is my life.  She gives me a reason to function each day.  She gives me hope for a future I can share with someone.  Who would have thought, a pint-sized pip-squeak could take me down with a pair of ultra blue eyes, a sweet giggle and a fabulous smile.  I am still amazed by her.  God I miss her.

“Mr. Grey, we will be landing shortly sir.”  The flight attendant smiles and bats her eyelashes, again.  I swear the damn things have a life of their own.  Maybe I can use fluttering fucking eyelashes as a new ecologically safe means of energy.  I see enough of the shit and those damn things never seem to stop.

“Thank you Natasha.”  I flash my mega watt smile, just because and she fans herself on her way back to her seat.  When will the world learn, it is just a pretty face?  Well, get ready Grey, there will more of the same on the ground.  Yeah, I fucking know.


The headlines about me are ridiculous, “Where Is Miss Steele?”, “The Bachelor is Back!” and “Ladies of Seattle Can Relax”.  I fucking choked on my coffee when I read the shit they had on Anastasia.  Some fucker got a shot of her walking back to the office after lunch, the headline read, “Fallen Out of Favor”.  Another birdcage liner had the gall to write, “Guess He Has Changed His Taste”, which included a picture of me shaking hands with a blonde haired woman at one of the many charity events I have attended without Anastasia by my side.  The final nail in the coffin was “Flavor of the Month” with the shot Elena leaving Grey House.  My mother called me after reading that horror-tale.

“Christian!”  Oh shit, it is mom.  All of a sudden I feel like I am back in elementary school.

“Hi mom.  How are you?  Everything good at home?”  HA!  I know you are not trying to bullshit your mother.  This is going to be good.

“Christian Trevelyn-Grey, what is going on?  I have read more than my share of articles about you since you became rich and famous, but the trash troves on the market now are ghastly.  Where is Anastasia and why is that Lincoln woman leaving your office building?  I am waiting Christian.”

Hee…hee…hee…look who is in trouble now.  And you thought this kind of shit was over didn’t you?  You thought just because you left home you would not get this type of phone call.  LMAO!  This is too good to be true.

I will deal with your ass later.  Right now, get me out of this shit.

Not on your motherfucking life dude.  This is your shit storm, now ride it out.

“Mom, you know how the press is.  They do not have anything better to write about right now.  You know, no alien sightings, no crop circles and they will never figure out how Stonehenge came to be.”  I am sweating bullets.  I am really in no mood to discuss anything.  I made it to Taiwan without familial intervention and now my mommy is grilling me about shitty press clippings from across the fucking pond.  Calgon, take me away.

Oh, this is too fucking good.  Where is the Ben & Jerry’s when you need it?  Vanilla…WOO HOO!

You fucking shit-heel!

It takes one Grey.

“Do not get smart with me Christian.  Where is Anastasia and where are you for that matter?”  Is she for real?  Doesn’t anyone listen to voicemail?

“Mom, I am in Taiwan, remember?  I told you I was coming here on business.  Ana is in Seattle.  She is busy at the publishing house and could not come with me overseas.”  Sounds good, but will it hold up in Mommy’s Courtroom?

“What is the meaning behind these articles Christian?  There are speculations that you and Ana are no longer a couple.  There are not any pictures of the two of you together and she looks so sad in the ones I have seen of her.”  Mom is right.  Ana looked like she was on the verge of a breakdown in one of the photos.  It made my heart hurt to look at it.

“Mom, my PR Department has been busy dealing with the various articles and ‘no comment’ is always the rule of thumb.  You do not have anything to worry about.  It is just the usual shi…I mean stuff they like to stir up, you know how they are.  Look mom, I have another meeting now.  Take care and I will talk to you soon.  Do not worry.”

“Christian, when are you coming home?  Will you be back for the holidays?”

“No mom, I will not.  Enjoy yourself and I will see you when I am done here.”

“Alright son.  Good bye.”  She sounds so broken, but I cannot go back.  All I will want to do is be with Ana and from what I can tell she does not want me.


I worked out in the hotel gym and I read the business plan for the Taiwanese shipyard again, but I am not tired.  I need my Ana.  I will call her.  I know it is late, but I need to hear her, even if it is her voicemail, ’Hello, this is Anastasia Steele.  I am not available to take your call right now, so please leave a message and I will contact you at my earliest convenience.’  Beep.  I just called to hear her voice, not to leave a message, so I hang up.

My heart hurts.  Amazing, I thought I did not have one then just as it is found, it breaks.  I guess I am not the “flavor of the month” anymore.

Maybe Elena is right.  I should go back to my usual modus operandi?  Calm, cool and in control.  No emotional attachment.  No messy good byes.  I just cannot do it though.  I have seen paradise now that is all I want.  “Ana, baby, where are you?  Don’t you want me anymore?  I miss you.”  I finally say out loud the words that keep twirling around in my mind.

What if she is gone for good, what will I do then?

What do you want to do?  I am the first one to tell you when you are wrong, even when I know you will not listen I will still tell you when you are wrong, but I do not believe you are wrong this time.  She asked for time and space.  I am impressed and proud of the fact you have honored her requests.  She has not had to fight you tooth and nail over any of this mess.

I think I have lost her.  What is worse, I never had a chance.  I cannot compete with the world for her attention.  I really do not want to go back to Seattle.  If I cannot have Anastasia, I might as well disappear.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU GREY?  What is with the woe is me shit.  If anyone has anything to regret, it is Anastasia Rose Steele.

What the fuck is wrong with you?  Ana has done nothing wrong.  I have always been a problem to anyone who crosses my path and you know this, so lay off Ana.

You did not let me finish, schmuck.

Speak your peace then shut the fuck up.

You are a good guy.  You are good to her.  The only wrong you committed was falling in love with a girl who was not ready for you.  You fell fast and hard and so did she, but she is not comfortable acting on her desires.  You have encouraged her not to hide.  You tried to give her the tools to get her to her goal.  She was not ready to accept them and does not know how to work with the new hand she is being dealt.

She needs to think about you Grey.  Do not forget about her, I know you cannot anyway, but if she wants to be with you, then she will be back.  You have to let her show interest in you.  You have to keep your nose to the grindstone and carry on.  It is her game.  Let her play it out.  I am telling you, she will be back.

“I love you Anastasia.  I love you.”

STEELE

He is gone.

He went away on business.  Get your facts straight.  Why do you care?  Isn’t this what you wanted?

WHAT?  What are you talking about?  No, I never wanted Christian to go away.

You told him you needed time and space, to get your thoughts straight; whatever the fuck that is supposed to mean.

It means I need time to process the changes going on in my life.

O…k… I need to understand this.

Sigh.

Would you rather do this alone?  I can always sit quietly in the corner.  All I need is some popcorn and a Pepsi.  I will have the front row seat.  I will be able to bear true witness to how you fucked up this situation.

What do you want to understand? 

What changes are you processing?

Do we HAVE to do this AGAIN?

Yes, until I understand just what the fuck the malfunction is.  WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO PROCESS?

“Ana?”  Saved by the PA.  Hanna pops her head into my office.

“Yes Hanna.”

“There is a meeting with Roach and all the editors in five minutes.  I wanted to remind you.  The invite just came across this morning.”  Yeah I saw that.

“Ok Hanna.  Thank you.”  She gives me a small wave then she is gone.

Meetings with Roach are not my favorite.  He is not a very pleasant man.


I get to the conference room in the nick of time.  Roach rolls his eyes at me as I find a seat.  What the fuck is his problem?  I do not know and I am not interested in finding out so behave.  Right…no promises.

Roach stands at the end of the conference table, clears his throat and begins to speak, “Ladies and gentlemen, I know you have heard rumors about the Seattle Independent Publishing merger with another local business.  I want to tell you the merger is complete.  SIP is now a subsidiary of Grey Enterprise Holdings, Incorporated.  Ms. Ros Bailey is here to discuss what this merger means to each of us.”

A hush falls across the room and all eyes turn toward me.  Courtney, from the Fiction Department, has a glowing anger in her eyes.  The other editors simply look worried…worried about our jobs.

I know Christian can throw us all under the bus and start from scratch.  He would not do that.  He knows how much this job means to me.  He even had my name placed on the do not replace list when they were discussing redundancies so I know he would not fire me.

Ros is here?  Why is Ros here?  Why isn’t Christian here?  Ahem, does the word Taiwan sound familiar to you?  Oh, that is right.  He is in Taiwan.   It is strange seeing someone other than Christian talking about GEH.

“…as GEH employees, you will continue to report to Mr. Roach who then reports directly to me.”  REPORT TO HER, what the fuck?  Are there any questions?

“How does this affect our jobs?”  Anderson, from Reference, asks.

“I am glad you asked.  As GEH employees, your previous contract under SIP is no longer valid.  You are required to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement and there will be a performance review of each editor to determine his or her viability and longevity with the company.”  WOW!  Performance reviews?  How the hell are they going to pull that off?  Our individual performance has never been reviewed, to my knowledge.

Logan asks the next obvious question, “How will this review take place?  I mean, our inventory and sales are cut and dry.  I imagine you already discussed our profit and loss ration before initiating the purchase.  What is the basis for this performance review of the editors?”  he sounds a little indignant.  Logan works in Non-Fiction and has been with SIP two years.  He is still an Assistant Editor, but he can read twice as many manuscripts as all of us at this table and he has not recommended a poor author yet.  He is very respected for his work.

“Mr. Glenn is it?”  Brian nods.  “Mr. Glenn, our Human Resources Department uses a planning model which encompasses three key elements including predicting the employees GEH needs, analyzing if the supply of current, and future, employees meets our performance expectation and balancing the supply and demand of employees.  After the review is complete, Mr. Roach will meet with each editor to discuss the results.”

“And how long will this head-hunting expedition take?”  Marcus is fuming.  He is hardcore in the Reference Department.  He gives no bullshit and takes no bullshit.  Marcus would rather you give him the sack right here, right now.

“Mr. Cantor?”  Ros is trying to be diplomatic.  Marcus does not understand diplomatic.  He is a wanna-be Grey all over.

“Yes, Marcus Cantor.  I have been with SIP for five years.  My department has passed various internal and external reviews with flying colors.  It is not easy to have sources referring to ancient runes verified and approved.  The Reference Department has an impeccable reputation in the world of publishing.”

“No doubt Mr. Cantor, GEH is not here to destroy SIP.  We understand the reticence of each employee and have only your best interest at heart.  Human Resources’ review will be complete Wednesday.  You will receive your results throughout the day Thursday.”  Today is just Tuesday.  That is fast.  You cannot possibly believe this was not in process before today, can you?  Hello Steele, we are talking about Grey here.

“Are there any other questions?”  There is a long pause.  I think we are all in shock, including me.  “Well, if you think of anything, please feel free to contact Mr. Roach.  He will convey your questions and concerns to me and we will go from there.”  Ros turns and leaves.  I have to speak with her.

“Well everyone, I think we will take a thirty minute break then return for an impromptu Q&A session.  You may not have been comfortable speaking freely with Ms. Bailey here so I want to give each of you a chance to say whatever is on your mind.  Alright then, see you in thirty.”  The Roach practically runs from the room.  He built SIP from the ground up. I am sure this is killing him.

I have to catch Ros.  I find her in a side hallway on her cell phone.  I know I should not eavesdrop, but she is not exactly whispering.  “…yes, it is done…the usual reactions, you know…yes, they know about the NDA.  Roach will have a hell of a time with a few of these assholes.  I mean, they read and correct authors’ writings.  It is not like they write the stories themselves.  And the guy in Reference, oh he is a peach.  Yes, she was here too…nope, did not utter a word.  The whole bunch of them turned to sneer at her when I announced they were now GEH…nope” she pops her ‘p’ “…she did not move a muscle.  She is a pretty tough bitch to take on this cast of characters every day.”

“So, how you are you going hide over there?…Grey, give me a fucking break.  I have met you before, remember?  I have been with GEH from the start and I can tell your demeanor from across the pond and over the telephone.  The only thing Taiwan needed was to see your handsome ass face then the deal would be done.  I received the final agreement by email earlier today.  The CEO said he would send the final contract by Certified Mail.  It should get here next Monday, Tuesday at the latest.”

“So I ask again, how long are you going hide out over there?”  She creases her brow in a deep frown then exclaims, “AUSTRALIA?  I was just fucking around about that…yes, it is worth researching, but research can be done online, from home.”

She shakes her head and sighs, “Christian, my friend, I know you are a private person and I am not asking for any particulars.  What is wrong?  I can hear it in your voice.  If you need time to sort something out, I understand and I can handle GEH, just let me know.”  Then, she ends the call.

He is hiding out?  Is he hiding from me?  Why would he hide from me?

He is doing what you asked him to do.

I never asked him to leave me.

No, you asked him not to interfere in your career.  And now he will not.  You heard her, the buy-out is finished.  Now it is just another GEH business.  He does not tinker with every little company he owns you should know that by now.  This way, you have to stand on your own two feet and prove yourself to Roach or his boss will can your ass.  Hee, hee, hee…nice touch Grey.  You have to give it to the man, when he does something, he goes all out.

What the fuck is that supposed to mean?

Minimal security, no familial obligations and he is out of the country.  WOO HOO!  he left you on your own for sure.  Nice…very nice.

As I stand grumbling to myself, “OH SHIT!”  Ros runs into me coming around the corner.  “Oh, sorry Miss Steele, I did not see you there.  Was there something you needed?”  Now I turn bright red almost instantaneously.

“No, Ms. Bailey, I am good.” Ros has a pitiful look on her face and I can tell she wants to say something more, but she keeps it professional.

“Alright then, take care.”  Then she is off.

And all I can do is shake my head and wipe away the lone tear that trickles down my face, “what have I done, what have I done?”


And now I have to sit through a meeting with a room of hostiles.  I drop my head and say a silent prayer for strength and patience.  I know someone is going to say something to set me off and right now, I could go off and not dream of taking it back.  Maybe I can beg out of this meeting.  I mean, I do not have any questions; at least not ones anyone else can answer.  It is worth a shot.

Just outside of the conference room door I stop Roach.  DAMN, if looks could kill, I would be in the morgue.  “Mr. Roach, is it possible for you to excuse me from this meeting?  I really do not have any questions.  I would just like to think about what we heard and wait for the HR review.”  Please, please, please.  I have never begged this man for anything.  I even give him my best puppy dog eye look.

“No Miss Steele, you are a member of THIS team and you have to face the music WITH the rest of us.  Besides, everyone will sign their NDAs at this meeting so I need your Jane Hancock.”  SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!  Why do I have to sign another one of those fucking things?  Because no one knows he made you sign one before you fucked him that is why.

Have I ever said ‘fuck you’ before? 

Yes but “quite frankly Scarlet…”

Whatever.

If I thought Roach was bad, I was sorely mistaken.  The room is full of animated discussion about the buy-out and performance reviews for each editor.  However, when I enter the room you could hear a pin drop.

“Welcome Miss Steele, please join us.”  Roach says in a rather condescending tone.  Of course the only available chair is up front, next to Roach, on the far side of the conference table.  Hmm, no quick getaways for you.  I quietly take my seat.

“Now, I first want to thank you for being professional during the meeting with Ms Bailey.  I want everyone to keep in mind that you still report to me and as such, there is no need for hostility toward the Executive Leadership Team.”  He stares at Marcus.  Roach is walking on eggshells right now, so he will not blatantly call Marcus out, but we all know what he means.  Marcus is still pissed anyway.

“Ms. Bailey described the performance review at a very high level.  Is anyone interested in greater detail prior to having your one-on-one with me later this week?”  No one seems to be interested in that.  I know I am not.

“Good; then does anyone have any questions or concerns you would like me for me to address?”  No one looks up.  I told Roach this was a pointless meeting.  I could be filing my nails for all this meeting is worth.

“Come on people.  You mean to tell me there is nothing on your minds about all of this.  If you do not get it out now, you will have to wait until our individual meetings and I do not want any pissing and moaning when we walk out of here.  Your junior staff members will be given this information after we have finished with each of your performance reviews.”  I am just about to bolt from the room when Courtney speaks up.  Of course…

“Mr. Roach, if I may sir?”

“Of course Court. Go right ahead.”

“In the event someone does not fare well in their review, what will happen?”  Welp, this is when the shit gets good.  I know Christian will not tolerate dead-weight.  If someone cannot do their job, they will not have a job to do.

“Because we are basically starting from scratch, those who are not within the accepted performance guidelines will be relieved of their position.  Because the new GEH employment contract is now in effect, the policies and procedures take precedence.”  Huh?

“Is there a new Severance package?”

“Yes there is.  The GEH severance definition is across the board and not based on years of tenure.  The only exception is for those who have been with SIP for less than one year.”  Oh shit.  Now everyone is looking at me because I have only been here a few months.

Well played Grey.  Steele, you wanted to prove yourself.  Here you go girl.

“There will be NO bias.  Everyone is on a level playing field.  Are there any other questions?”  And just why does he have to look at me when asking that?  Because your shit stinks too now.

I am so fucking glad that shit is over.  If one more of those assholes looked at me like I was the cause of all of this shit one more time I was going to scream.

You really do owe him another, thank you, you know that right/?

Thank you for what, bailing on me when he did not get his way, sending Ros to do his dirty work or trying to make me feel guilty for standing my ground?

JUST A MOTHERFUCKING MINUTE!

Uh oh, somebody seems to be upset.

I am TOO fucking tired of your shit.  Grey gave you all the slack you wanted.  He did everything he could, short of selling SIP, which in this economy was a no-go anyway, so you could be looked at without him.  He has even moved himself, physically, out of the equation so he does not influence you on a day-to-day basis.  Now, you have the unmitigated gall and audacity to say he BAILED on you?  I wish to hell I could wring your fucking neck.  HE IS GONE DUMBASS!  HE…IS…GONE!  What the fuck else does the man have to do, slit his own wrists at your feet?

You have done nothing but find fault with him and he is not here to defend himself.  What did you say to him?  Do you even fucking remember?

“I do not want your money or to be praised because of my relationship with you…I cannot be in your shadow Christian.  The world will not take me seriously when it turns out that I have what I have because I am engaged or married to “the Christian Grey, CEO, Grey Enterprise Holding, Incorporated.”

No security, No reports about where you are, who you are with or why you are there and now, no job interference.  Since he is not here to ask you this, I will on his behalf.  Do you even want him Anastasia?  If you do not, then please just let him go.  I happen to love him and not because of anything he can or has given us.  I love his smile, his sense of humor, hell I love being protected.  You, my dear, have a lot of soul-searching to do.  I only hope he is still there when you are done.

“What am I doing?  I love Christian with all of my heart.  I do not want to live without him.  What the fuck am I going to do?”

You may have to beg.