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 8 | Déjà Vu

GREY

I have absolutely no fucking idea how long I have been standing here with my eyes popped wide open.  I feel like I have just seen the Easter Bunny.

“Ana?” I whisper again.  The difference is I did not feel the current that unmistakably runs between us.  The charge, the pull is always so strong I can feel her presence before I see or hear her.  I did not feel it when I looked at that woman.  But she looks so fucking familiar.  Maybe not exactly like Steele…think Grey.  We’ve seen that face before, I’m positive.  Think DAMMT!

Huh?  What did you say?  I shake my head, more than a little confused by the situation.

All of a sudden I hear it, click-click…click-click…click-click, FUCK.  I look to my left and see a photographer a few yards away, but the clicks are in stereo.  I look to my right; yep there is another shutter-fucker.  I look over my shoulder; yep there is a third one.  These bastards must be on their coffee break.  Why in the hell are they taking pictures of me?

We have to get out of here, NOW!

I get back in the R8 and take off.  I left the top up and growl as I pull away, “Fuckers”.


 

I have been working harder than I have in years and I fucking love it. Grey House Townsville is fully functional with 25 new acquisitions under its belt.  The Taiwan shipyard is managed from this location.

I found a gym in the area and Claude recommended a kickboxing coach for me.  Claude seemed a little off during our conversation but I just wrote it off to his being busy.  “Thanks for everything Claude.”

“Not a problem Grey.  You know you can always fund my way over there for a game of golf or a good old fashioned ass kicking when ever you need it.”  Whatever fucker.  He’s just ticked he’s loosing a client.

I know, have funded his niece and nephew through college.  They both went to Stanford.

He will find another cash cow I am sure.

Me too.  “I will keep that in mind.”  I shake my head as I end the call.

I can run from my place to the gym, workout, come home, shower, dress and be off to the office.  Oddly somehow this all feels like déjà vu?  This is how things were when you first started GEH.  The only difference now is you have back up established in Seattle.  You don’t have to find a number two, so you can move forward.  This expansion thing was really a good idea.

Andrea still manages my calendar and the minute details of my life from Seattle; I cannot afford to loose Andrea.  She is the best fucking PA in the world.  She miraculously can synchronize between Australian Eastern Standard Time and United States Pacific Time. Of course, with the changes in her responsibilities managing my time between two locations she got a considerable raise.

Ros is still pissing and moaning about my office.  I told her in no uncertain terms if I find out she has been in my office I would have a bounty on her head.  She told Gwen what I said in the hopes of creating a united front against me.  Gwen simply replied, “Then keep your ass out of his office.”  Thank you Gwen.

Ros keep me up to speed on the Seattle office and she is fully aware of the operations in the Townsville office.  I love the way that sounds.  I never dreamed GEH would get this big and the sky is the limit.

It is with a light heart and clear mind I wander around the Townsville City shopping area where I find The Sweatshop Coffee House.  I grab a Chai Latte, the Financial Times and settle in for a peaceful Saturday morning.  Then, I see her.

She is probably five feet four inches tall, thin but still has a wonderful figure.  Her long auburn hair is pulled back in a loose ponytail that hangs to her shoulder blades.  She is wearing yoga pants and a tank shirt.  She places her order, a drink and a muffin then turns around.  Our eyes lock just like they did the first time we saw each other.  Though, she does not lower her head this time and she does not blush.

I do not take my eyes off of her as she pays for her order and looks for a table.

Lights…camera…action Grey!

Damn straight.  I smile to myself and get up to see where she sat down.  The shop is not crowded so it is easy to spot her in a window seat.  I run my hand through my hair and take a deep breath.

Just as I reach her table she raises her head and gives me the most beautiful smile.  It almost eclipses the sun shinning in the window beside her.  I’ve seen that smile before.

“Hello, my name is Ella.  We saw each other a few days ago in the park.  You have beautiful eyes.”  I’ve heard that voice before too.  I am stunned into silence.

LMAO!  That’s a first.  I like this little girl already.  Pull yourself together Grey.  SAY SOMETHING, STUPID!

“Hi, my name is Christian.  I have just moved here…” I do not get to finish my thought let alone my sentence when she begins to ramble.

“Yes, I know.  You emigrated here from the United States.  You really have been the talk of the town.”  The smile never leaving her face and her eyes seem to twinkle with humor at my expression.  “Please, have a seat.”  She motions me toward the chair across from her.

“I apologize for staring.  You look amazingly familiar to me, but I cannot say how.”  At closer glance, she really does not look like Ana, but she still looks like someone I know.  Not a submissive…dammit.  I know I must look like a fool staring at this woman.  This is gonna fucking drive me crazy

I shake my head and try to hold some sort of intelligent conversation.  “Are you from Townsville?  Did you grow up here?”

Ella smiles again and begins to tell me about herself.  She is originally from Melbourne, Australia.  She went to college in the United States.  I held my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop, “What school did you go to?”

“I went to Hawaii Pacific University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics as well as a Bachelors and Masters of Science in Marine Biology.”

“Oh, you want to be Jacques Cousteau when you grow up?”  I aim for lighthearted and she runs with it.

“Exactly.  What do you do for a living?”  She is almost laughing at me as she sips her coffee and nibbles on her muffin.  She is cute.  She is not shy, but not pushy either, just a welcome mix of a good sense of humor, confidence and intelligence.

“I started my own business a while back and have been fortunate enough to expand it.”  Ha, ha, ha, if that ain’t the biggest understatement I don’t know what is.  Modesty don’t become you Grey.

“Must be a hell of a business for you to be in that house up there”.  She points in the general direction of my new home.  It has more space than Escala and is absolutely ridiculous for one person, but I liked it so I bought it.

“Yes, well…like I said, I have been fortunate.”  For some reason, I am desperate to change the subject.  I do not know why but talking about my success is bothering me.

“My grandfather, father and three brothers are in M&A as well.  Did we say anything about M&A?  “I guess that is why I chose to delve into the ocean for a living.  Being stuck in an office would cramp my style.”  She wrinkles her nose like she smelled something horrible.

“Anyway, after a while it is just a bunch of zeros on paper.  It seems to be a game to them all, where real people and real lives are bartered and sold.  I know they take each transaction seriously and to their credit, the goal is to be fair as well as equitable.  However, sometimes the two are mutually exclusive.”

“I do not know about Marine Biology, but you have strong opinions about money and business.”  Now she bushes.  Hmm.

We then talked about the weather, the things to do and places to go here in Townsville.  After a while Ella says, “I don’t know about you, but I want to get out of these sweaty clothes and lounge about for a while.  It was lovely to meet you Christian.”  She extends her hand to me and we shake.  Her grip is firm for such a petite woman.

I know we’ll see each other again.  If you like, we can meet here next week.  Same bat-time, same bat-channel.”  She gives me a little smile and a wave, which I return then she is gone.

Congratulations Grey.

What are you congratulating me for?

A well maintained conversation with a woman that was completely devoid of all things BDSM.  She’s a pretty girl and she’s right, we’ll see her again.

I stay in the window seat for a while longer thinking back on our conversation.  FUCK ME SIDEWAYS!

WHAT…WHAT’s  WRONG?

Her name is Ella!  I put my head in my hands and moan as if I am in excruciating pain.  I cannot believe this, her name is Ella.

Ok, lets get out of here Grey.  We need to talk and this ain’t the place to do it.

I pace back and forth in my living room analyzing my encounter with Ella.

Now, aside from the obvious, what is wrong with the name Ella?  It’s a name not a character trait.  You can’t hold a grudge against a name.  Wait, let me rephrase that because I know you CAN hold a grudge better than Monkey Tape.  It’s unreasonable to hold a grudge against a name and project it onto someone you don’t even know.

I know you are right.  Somehow, it is more than just her name.  You said it yourself.  There is something too familiar about her.  Like I have known her a long time or knew her a long time ago.  I would remember meeting someone else named of Ella; that would stick with me for an eternity.

Relax.  We have work to do anyway.  Put the déjà vu aside for now.

True.


 

Little did I realize Ella and I have become friends.  She’s taken me rollerblading, water skiing, surfing and to a pig roast on the beach of all places.  These activities aren’t foreign or new for me.  It’s just great to go with someone who’s not family or security.  I’m sad Anastasia’s not here to enjoy this, but I’ve left all communication up to her.

By now Ana is well aware of my step back form SIP, so that can’t be a bone of contention between us.  One of my conversations with dad filled me in about the goings on after my call home.  Apparently Kate tore her ass and Elliott put her out of his place.  Just peachy.  That means she’s back at the apartment with Ana spouting off about how you ruined her relationship with El.  Ain’t that just dandy.  I guess that explains the radio silent treatment I’m getting.

After work and my workout, Ella and I have been going on expeditions in and around the area.  I had Charlie Tango brought to Townsville and we’ve taken several flights across the Coral Sea following the route of the Magnetic Island Ferry to visit the National Park there.

I’ve seriously considered having The Grace brought here as well.  Although, for some reason I can’t pinpoint, I haven’t made that of kind of commitment.  I haven’t had a session with Flynn since before I left for Taiwan and I really don’t want his point of view.  I’ve been talking things out on my own and making solid decisions so I’ll stick with my gut instinct.

I’ve enjoyed listening to Ella discuss her family.  She’s the youngest of four and the only girl.  Although she’s the princess of the family, she is by no means a prima donna.  Strong-willed, intelligent, gracious and compromising are a few of the adjectives I use to describe Ella Brown.

“Our family business has been ingrained in us our entire lives.  All five men in my family, grandfather, father and three brothers are graduates of the University of Melbourne.  They each went though the Chancellor’s Scholars Program in their chosen field and completed graduate and postgraduate degrees.”

“My grandfather, Edward Brown, obtained his Bachelors and Masters of Arts in Economics.  He went on to begin EB, Pty on his own.  He prided himself on the fact that no one helped him finance his company.  He doesn’t like to feel beholden to anyone.”  We can respect that.

“Since the company is his, he made stipulations with regard to its composition, function and maintenance.  We each were required to pair the study of Economics with another unrelated course.  His rationale was we should understand money and its function in the world and extenuating circumstances that affect money and its function in the world.”

“We make for an interesting mix.  My father, Emmett, added Commerce, my first brother, Everett, added Politics and International Studies, my second brother, Eran, included Psychology and my third brother, Emerson, included Media and Communications.”

“The psychology major was laughed at until the company met with an attempted takeover.  Eran, “the shrink”, attended one of the business meetings.  Afterward, he was able to explain the thought process of their opponent and my family was able to out think, if you will, the other company’s moves thus saving our company from being overrun.”  Interesting tactic.

“They really are a sneaky bunch.”  She smiles again and shows a definite pride in her family.  You need to keep all of this in mind Grey.

“I suppose I’m the rogue child.  While I studied Marine Biology, I included Economics, in the event the males of my family were able to thwart my effort to pursue a career in Oceanic Research or Oceanography.  Therefore, I too have met the criteria allowing me to join them in “their work” should I choose to do so.”

“I have no desire to work in the family business, but I can advise them about proposals from companies related to zoos, aquariums, fisheries and governmental research and analysis.  So I guess I can pull my weight if I am ever needed.”

“Tell me about your family Christian.”  At first I consider giving her the condensed generic pries of my family history, but seeing how she has been so forth coming about her own life it seems only fair that I do the same.

I tell her about Carrick, Grace, Elliott and Mia, how we came together, our education, or the lack thereof in my case and our professions, including the lack thereof in Mia’s case.

We end up discussing Mia in some detail.  Finally Ella says, “Sounds like your little sister could use a dose of reality.  It can be a hard pill to swallow, but well worth the effort.

“I may tell her you said that.”  Mia really could stand to talk with Ella.  Ella smiles and nods her head.

Suddenly, she raises one eyebrow then asks me, “When was the last time you spoke with your family Love?”  Love?  What the fuck is that about?

“I spoke with them just before I came to Townsville.  Why do you ask?”  I guess I had a frown on my face.

“Well, you get a faraway look in your eyes when we talk about my family, as if you long for your own.”

Just then, I feel the walls go up around me.  I actually feel myself shutdown and close off from her. “Ella, I really do not see where my personal life is any of your concern.”  That is final.  However, I am about to learn a little more about Miss Ella Brown.

Ella straightens her stance, squares her shoulders and marches directly toward me.  She then looses all facial expression and her baby blues seem to glaze over.  “Really, you think so?  Well let me tell you something Mr. Christian Grey, first it doesn’t take a degree in anything other than the fundamentals of life to see the affects of a broken heart and feel the presence of a troubled soul.  So if you think you’re hiding, you’re only fooling yourself.  Next, I may be female and diminutive in stature, but I can hold my own in any confrontation, so you can change your carriage and tone of voice if you wish to continue our little chat.”

“Believe it or not Love, we have internet access ‘Down Under’ as well.  For all you know I’ve already Googled your ass and have your basic story in mind right this minute.”  Then she raises her brow again and says, “However, that is not how I do business.  I give a person enough rope to hang himself then I move on.  At this point Mr. Grey, you’ve earned yourself a head on my mental game of hangman.”  Her arms are at her sides, her fits balled and she is on her tippy toes trying to get in my face.  Feisty huh?

“There is a way to speak to people Christian and you need to learn it.  Bullying isn’t the way to win friends and influence people for the better.  My grandfather has a mantra he recites for situations where deliberate thoughts and actions are of the utmost importance, Marcus Aurelius from Meditations, ‘You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.’  Keep it in mind the next time you are faced with a predicament you don’t like and temper your reaction accordingly.”  She takes a step back and stares at me without blinking.  I know I look like a goldfish with my mouth opening and closing with no sound coming out.

Ella smirks and says, “Shall we continue our walk or are you going to stomp off like a little girl?”

I smile, take her hand and continue on our way.  She is an insightful woman.  Like it or not, I believe some of her grandfather’s business sense rubbed off on her.


 

Ella is preparing for her internship interviews and I’m bogged down with the new deals I have in the works.  After my usual run I’m dog shit tired when I get home.  I walk through the door and am greeted by a familiar pair of dark brown eyes filled with rage.  “How the fuck did you get in here?”  Breaking and entering is against the law all over the world isn’t it?