The original characters are the property of E.L. James.  I’m just having a lil’ fun.  No copyright infringement intended.

Chapter 17 | Our Spot

ELLA

“Good evening gentlemen, Ella.”  Granddad is always so formal.  So much so that at some point during a conversation with him you find yourself sounding the same way, unless, however, you are a member of the Brat Pack.  My three brothers take nothing seriously unless it affects them directly, which this conversation will.  Since Christian deduced we’re related, Granddad is going to tell the Three Amigos the same thing and how it affects them…directly.

“Hello Granddad, how are you?”  Emerson says, starting a banter Granddad never finds amusing.

“We haven’t heard much from you recently.  Are you feeling ok?” Eran, the unoriginal one, follows along.  Jeez, for a psych major he’s pretty non-fucking—observant of Granddad’s reaction.

I learned, at a young age mind you, that both Granddad and Daddy’s eyes turn translucent when they get mad.  I’ve seen my father’s eyes go almost clear.  I was never more frightened in my life.  He wasn’t mad at me, thank God, but it was still scary as all fucking Hell.

“Yeah, you look a little under the weather ole man?” SHIT Everett, you dumb bastard!

I sneak a peek in my grandfather’s direction and…yep, there they go.  Granddad’s eyes remind you of a mood ring the way they swirl as they change color.  Grey to silver to…OH FUCK!  CLEAR!

SIT THE FUCK DOWN AND SHUT THE FUCK UP, THE LOT OF YOU!

Granddad’s face is puce and there’s fucking steam coming off him.

Smiling, and fucking chuckling as he enters the room, my father makes his happy-go-fucking-lucky appearance “Hello father.  I see your grandsons have graced you with their presence.”  Daddy’s gotten to the point where he feels if the boys believe they can take Granddad on he’ll let them, all…on …their…own.

Daddy saunters over to me.  “Hello Ellie, how was your day Love?  Have you spoken with Liam?”  I’m mute.  I simply shake my head, never taking my eyes off of Granddad.

“I have asked her not to discuss the matter with him until we have addressed YOUR sons and spoken with MY grandson further.  She can release information to him soon, but not yet.”  Granddad winks at Daddy and I.

Eran, finally paying attention, frowns for a second then laughs.  “Ha, ha, ha…your grandson?  We’re all right here Granddad, what are you talking about?”

“You’re a little off your game today Ole Boy.  Miss your midday nap?”  I choke on my water, but they all ignore me.  Everett is in for it with that one.

Emerson shakes his head in mock disapproval.  “Now, now gentlemen that’s no way to address your elderly grandfather.  In his advanced years, he’s allowed to have a slip in his memory.”  He  then looks at Granddad with some kind of mock pity in his eyes and says, “Don’t worry Granddad, we don’t hold it against you” and the fucker has the nerve to wink at the other two.

This is gonna be messy.

Granddad, not missing a beat, smiles brightly then drops the bomb, “Well youngsters, I am referring to Christian Grey and since my tenure in this family brings you such entertainment, I will begin proceedings to give he, Ella and your father a total of 75 percent controlling interest in EB, Pty.  You three mockeries can divide your paltry 25 percent any way you see fit.”

Granddad sits back in his chair with a shit-eating grin on his face.  He clasps his hands in front of his face, steeples his index fingers and rests them on his lips, it’s not enough to hide the smile residing there.  Then again, who the fuck said he had to hide his smile?  I know I wouldn’t.  You can hear a gnat gasp for breath in the room it’s so fucking quiet.

Granddad looks over at Daddy and I, his smile widening, if that’s possible, “Emmett, Ella, I do believe that got their attention.”  He looks back at my brothers then growls out in a contradictory hushed voice, “Oh, and boys,” they each nod, “your snide-ass comments will cost each of you a quarter of a million dollars.”  His grin turns into a smirk as the boys turn green.  “I want CASH!  Your fucking checks and electronic transfers are no good with me.  I do not care if you pay in large bills, small bills or fucking penny rolls.  I want my fucking money in 36 hours and you KNOW I am not pissing around.”

“Now, do you have any intelligent questions or valid concerns about my announcement?”  The bastards are in shock.  We all know they don’t give a rat’s ass about their ‘fine’.  I, and my father, on the other hand wince anytime Granddad mentions money.  “Very well.  Any salient questions or any comments, at all, regarding your fines?”  Again, not a sound.  “Good…then…GET THE FUCK OUT, NOW!”  Granddad bellows!  My brothers can’t get out of their seats fast enough.  Without looking back and in order of their age Everett, Eran and Emerson vacate the room and quietly close the door behind them.

I look over my left shoulder to see my father trying to fight off his glee, “Dad, you only get better with time, that was…fucking…hilarious.”  Daddy is struggling to catch his breath and wiping tears from his eyes because he’s laughing so hard.  “That tops your conversation with the CEO from the Russian conglomerate.  Wow!  Did you see them scamper to get the fuck out of here?  It was better than comical…ha, ha, ha…WOO HOO!”

“Time to infuse some reality into the situation.  Standing in front of the two comedians, with my hands fisted on my hips and tapping my toe I reprimand my father, “Daddy, that is not nice, they are your sons after all.”  I chastise him.  One would think he didn’t care for the Three Stooges, I know better, but it really does look bad.  “It is in poor taste to behave this way Daddy and you know it.”  We have work to do and this shit is getting on my nerves.

Now the peanut gallery pipes in, “Oh Ellie, let your father have his moment.  They had it coming to them, in spades.  They will be fortunate if I do not vote them out of EB all together.”  Granddad isn’t bullshitting about that one.  All’s fair in love and money with him and it is always survival of the fittest.

“They are not always my favorite animals in this zoo we affectionately refer to as our family either, but then I was not given a choice of who my siblings were, so please dispense with the frivolity and get this boxcar moving.  I am tired and I am not in the mood for bullshit.”  I cross my arms in front of my chest and give the two of them a curt nod.  I’ve had my fill of all of these bastards for one day and I still have to deal with Liam.

“Grandfather,” his eyes widen at my none-too-affectionate address, “since all of YOUR grandsons have been notified may I tend to my business, which includes updating Liam?”  The two of them are looking at me like deer caught in headlights.

Now THAT is hilarious.

Truly.

Wordlessly they nod their consent.  “Thank you. Good evening…gentlemen.”  I say as I leave Granddad’s office.


Ring…Ring…

“Hello Love, how are you?”  Liam sounds pleasant enough.  “Please let me apologize for my behavior at the Beach Party.  The sight of you with him…” Liam begins to growl.  I have to put a stop to this.

“Liam, that’s enough, I told you then and I’m telling you now, I’m not in love with Christian Grey.  If you’d like to discuss the situation further then you’ll have to get off your ass and meet me because this topic is too sensitive to discuss over an unsecured line.  Do you understand me Liam?”  I want to tell him everything that’s been going on and I want his help.  Liam has contacts in the United States who may be able to help us remove The Interference, which is the next item on our task list.

“Yes Love I understand.  I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”  Now, he sounds worried.  Don’t worry  Baby, I told you to trust me.

“I’ll be waiting Baby” I say as I hang up and race to our spot.


Whenever Liam and I talk, regardless of the time of day or the issue in front of us,  we go to the Jetty on The Strand.  At night, the Jetty is a sight to behold with lanterns hanging from both sides of the boardwalk lighting your way to the covered end of the pier, where the world is on display.  The sky is crystal clear and from this spot I can see across the Coastal Waters of the Great Barrier Reef all the way to Magnetic Island.  The water is a deep, majestic blue, but under this night sky, the water looks almost like molten onyx.  The moon is high and large in the sky with stars twinkling all around.  Their dazzling images reflect on the vast sea.

Thinking about all the times we’ve met here brings me to the verge of tears.  Good, bad or indifferent Liam has been my ear to bend, my brain to pick and my shoulder to lean on.  Even when there were various skanks in his life, I would always bite the bullet and meet him here to talk, or to fight, whichever was necessary at the time.  boy, we’ve had some doozies here.   Before I know it, I feel his warm body behind me then his strong arms around me.  “Have you been here long?”  He says softly in my ear.  I simply shake my head, never turning around to look at him.

“Ella, please tell me what the problem is, I’m begging you.”  Standing with my back to his front, I tilt me head back and look up into his sad-sweet smile.  Liam peers down at me, “Hello there” he says.  “You know I’m worried about you, right?”  I nod as I, not so secretly, admire his face, and his beautiful emerald green eyes.

Even upside-down, Liam is yummy.

Liam is a gorgeous man and he towers over me, like most men, but a little more somehow.  I always dreamed of being his…his one and only.  Sometimes I think I am and we just haven’t admitted it, then somehow, from out of nowhere, something happens in one or both of our lives and the possibility of us goes to piss.

“I know you do and I’m thankful for that.”  I say ever so softly, tears pooling in my eyes.

“Ellie, please, tell me.”  His eyes are wide and show the deep concern I know he feels.  I haven’t discussed this with anyone, not that I have a huge list of people to tell.  I feel bound to keep Christian’s relationship to us a secret despite having Granddad’s permission to talk with Liam.  Christian is such a private person and knowing what he went through as a child I can’t blame him one bit.  Somehow, I feel like I’m betraying a trust.  Telling an outsider about Christian’s life before Christian himself has had the opportunity…or taken the initiative, to know it all.

“Chris…” my voice cracks and I have to clear my throat. “Ahem, Christian Grey is my…c…cou…cousin.”  I finally mutter the last word.

Liam doesn’t react immediately.  He looks at me for what seems like an eternity when realization flashes across his face and through his eyes, “Your Aunt Ella?”  I nod.  “Oh my God Ella, are you alright?  How is your Grandfather?  Hell, is your father alright?  What about Everett?”

I spin around and place my hands on his chest.  “Slow down Liam, slow down.  We’re as well as can be expected, I guess.”

He furrows his brow and states, “You guess.”  It definitely wasn’t a question.  “This is the day you all have dreamt of for so long.  How can you guess about how you feel unless…” he trails off, knowing all is truly not well.

After a moment Liam’s eyes darken and he snarls, “…that bastard.  The prick lashed out at you didn’t he and now he’s off pouting like the fucking brat he is.  I’m right aren’t I Ella?  Tell me the truth.  I’ve seen that insolent fucker and his infamous temper in action.  “I know how he can behave.”  He’s right, I completely forgot.

Liam held the Stroke Seat on Yale’s Heavyweight Crew.  He told me once about his front row the day he saw Christian perform so badly.  Liam’s race was over and he was watching the teams.  Apparently someone got too close for comfort and Christian, true to form, started swinging.  Liam said for the remainder of the Regatta, Christian sat alone a good distance from everyone else.  Needless to say, I know Christian’s past so I understand why he reacted the way he did, but I can’t discuss that with Liam.  It’s not my business to tell.

“Yes to all of the above” I try not to sound as heart broken as I actually am, but it’s difficult.  Christian and I became friends.  I don’t have many of those.  Liam is right.  My grandfather and father were devastated for years after loosing track of Aunt Ella.  The situation was worsened when they learned of her drug overdose and became disastrous when neither of them could find Christian.  All of that is the reason for the Reconnaissance Team Granddad now employs.  The folks from the old days were sloppy and half-ass.

Daddy always blamed himself for standing beside Aunt Ellie in her decision to attend school in the United States.  She had a curriculum in mind, making sure to fulfill our family requirements.  To the business courses she added Music, specifically Piano, to her major.  Granddad didn’t want his princess leaving the roost but she was Hell bent and bound to make her dream come true…in the United States.

Both Daddy and Granddad loved Aunt Ella with a vengeance.  Daddy argued that his baby sister should be allowed to pursue her education wherever she wanted as long as she took the requisite courses, which she intended to do.  Deep down, Daddy didn’t want Aunt Ellie to go to the US either, but to him, whatever Ella wanted Ella got.  So he stood by her side.

I don’t remember the full story.  Only Daddy and Granddad can explain it, but somehow she ended up in Detroit, Michigan pregnant.  Then she found herself and her young son trapped by a pimp.  Finally, she died in front of her child.

I know Christian was abused and I know he was found with Aunt Ella’s body, but I learned that through reading reports.  I don’t know the emotional portion of the experience.  I don’t know how deeply it affected him.  In my opinion, his carriage and demeanor are simply indicative of the men in our family.  Cuss first, fight to the end and love hard…sweet and simple really.

I hear a distant sigh and remember I’m not alone.  “I apologize Liam.  My intention was to tell you that Christian knows he’s related to us.  The reason for my closeness to him all of this time was to keep him protected so he would feel comfortable here in Townsville.  He and I became fast friends and that’s the reason we spent so much time together.  As for the pictures, you know the paparazzi.  Getting a shot of the elusive Ella Brown and the enigmatic Christian Grey were jackpots.  Granddad didn’t have the photos stopped because he decided it was an easy way to keep the hyenas at bay.”  I smile to myself.  Anastasia never had a thing to worry about, but it’s good she did come to be with him because he needed her, no doubt.  There was no way any bitch was getting close to  my cousin.  I wouldn’t have allowed it.

“Thank God.”  He breathes in my ear.  “I was afraid I had lost you to that arrogant, mutherfucker.  You’re too precious for him.  He doesn’t deserve a woman as beautiful, intelligent and exciting as you.  I don’t care how wonderful his fiancée is, she can’t compete with you Ella, no one can.”  Liam kisses my cheek then rubs his nose along mine before closing his eyes and hugging me tightly.

After several exquisite moments, Liam kisses the top of my head then places two fingers under my chin, effectively tilting my head so our eyes meet, sadden blue to comforting green.  “He’ll speak with your father and grandfather.  They’ll tell him everything then he’ll be able to make an informed decision.  He’s hurt Ella.  Surely you understand how that feels.  Give the man time.  He’s a son of a…” Liam stops short, ashamed to end the phrase, “…sorry.  He’s a short-tempered prick, but he’s not stupid.  He’ll approach this like a business endeavor and make decisions accordingly.  Mark my word.  Just give him time” to that I can only nod.  I wouldn’t expect anything less.  He is, after all, my family.


“Ellie, you don’t have to go.  We can handle that asshole with kid-gloves if that’s what Granddad wants.”  Emerson tells me, as I get ready for the final Fundraising Committee meeting.

I stand tall and with a strong voice inform by brother, “I have a report to give Em.  I can’t skip out on the committee.  I won’t be intimidated by anyone, including Christian Fucking Grey.”

With smirks on their faces, each of the Three Stooges gives me a curt nod.  “Your chariot awaits m’lady.”  Everett takes a deep bow and ushers me to the front door.  “We’re leaving Dad, Granddad!”  Everett yells on our way out.

“JUST A FUCKING SECOND!”  Our father comes barreling through the foyer.  His face bright red and his breathing quickened, Daddy glares at all of us asking, “Where the fuck are the four of you going?”

The boys are dazed by his outburst.  Daddy knows where we’re going.  He already lectured us on our behavior for an hour and a half.  I look up at my father, bat my eyelashes and in a sickly sweet voice remind him, “Daddy, we’re going to the Fundraising Committee meeting.  It is the last one and we have to report out on the event as well as make tentative plans for next year.  You know all of this.”  I rise up on my tiptoes and kiss my father on the cheek before saying, “It will be a short meeting and I, for one, will be returning as soon as we’re finished.  Everett is driving.”

Although the technique is as annoying to perform as it is for Daddy to accept, I thought I had him under control until he comes back with “We want all four of you home immediately after the meeting.  We know how long it takes to get there and back and we know how long that stupid fucking meeting should take.”  Fixing his eyes on the boys he says, “Don’t fucking play with me.  I told you to leave him alone and if you disobey me there’ll be HELL to pay.  Do you all understand?”  The boys nod yes then Daddy looks down and gives me a pointed glance as he says in a softer, but not weaker tone, “That goes for you as well young lady.

Falling in line with my older siblings, I nod to my father and say “Yes Daddy, I understand” then we’re off.

GREY

“Anastasia,” I whine, “I don’t want to go to this fucking meeting.  Can’t I just skip it?”  Taylor and Gail left for the US yesterday, after A LOT of coaxing from both Ana and I.  Gail has decided to come back to Townsville after settling her affairs, while Taylor has some serious thinking to do.  He can’t just up and leave.  He has his daughter to think about.  I was shocked Gail said she was coming back, I believe Taylor was too.

“Yes Christian, you have to attend.  You have no choice.”  Ana stands in the bedroom doorway with one hand on her hip and the other holding my suit jacket out to me.

How cute is that?  Yes Dear…

“I don’t wanna.”  I stomp my foot, cross my arms over my chest and give her my cutest pout.

Dude, really?  Is that the way you want to play this?  Billionaire CEO THE Christian Grey plays toddler.  You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

Shut the fuck up.  It’s how I feel.  I…don’t…want to go.

It’s NOT going to work and when she laughs…

“OH MY GOD CHRISTIAN!  ARE YOU POUTING?”  HA…HA…HA…HEE, HEE, HEE…WOO.  Oh no…Oh no…Oh no…  She’s holding her sides, doubled over in hysterics.

I told you it was a stupid mov…

Whatever.

“Something amusing you Miss Steele?”  Still with my arms crossed, I stand up taller and raise an eyebrow as I gaze at her, which only sets her off more.

“OH HELL NO!  NO YOU DIDN’T TRY TO GO DOM!  NOT AFTER THAT TODDLER SHIT.  HA…HA…HA!”

Get your shit together Grey, let’s go.

“Ana, will you come with me…please.”  I flash my mega-watt, panty-dropping smile at her.  I’m not only disinterested in this meeting, but also leery of the outcome.

Straightening her stance and smoothing her clothes Ana says, still with a bit of humor in her voice, “Sure thing baby.  I’m right by your side.”


“Ladies and gentlemen, I call this meeting to order.  In the interest of time, we will only hear from the Budget/Finance Committee.  As you recall, our goal for this year’s event was one million dollars.  “Mrs. Tate, how did we do?”

“Thank you Eran…” with that, Mrs. Tate goes on to explain the event exceeded its goal.  I made an anonymous donation and absorbed the security cost myself, but that part is left out.  All Mrs. Tate knows is the invoice she received showed the expense was paid in full.

After the report, an impromptu Q&A session and tentative outline for next year, to which I refused to make any commitment, this shit still wasted an hour of my time, time away from Ana.  Once we’re released from this Hell Hole, I go straight to my girl, “Come on Baby, let’s get the fuck away from here.”

I want to throw Ana over my shoulder and sprint to the car.  All of the Brown kids are here tonight and while none of them has so much as looked in my direction, I don’t want that to change.  I’m not ready for them yet.  I’m not ready to deal with their shit and to tell the truth, I don’t know if I’ll ever be.  Dad’s information hasn’t arrived yet and I’d rather look at it before dealing with those little bastards.

My mind is elsewhere when Ana asks, “Christian, who’s that?”

“Huh?  Who is who Baby?”  Dammit, now I know what Dad was talking about.  I sound like a fucking owl.

“Over there Christian, he looks familiar” Ana points across the parking lot.

I stop and hold Ana tightly against me.  “I have no idea who he is Baby and furthermore, I don’t give a fuck.”  I bend down to speak directly in her ear.  “Let’s get out of here…I’m hungry.”  I growl.  She smiles up at me with lust flashing in her eyes.  It’s been all afternoon since I had Ana and the way I feel right now, she should be glad it’s Friday because she won’t get any sleep tonight.

“Over there Christian” she says as she turns me around to face the mystery man.

I shade my eyes from the setting sun to see the person Ana’s referring to, “It’s that fucker from the Beach Party, the guy who embarrassed Ella.”  What the fuck does he want?

What’s it to you?  He’s her friend let her deal with him.  I’m sure Ninja Girl can handle him.

I’m certain Ella can handle him, and her brothers are here with her, but for some reason I don’t like the look of him.  I swear I’ve seen him before that fucking party.

“Do you think she’ll be alright?  He treated her badly at the party.  Do you think we should let her know he’s out here?”  Ana’s always worried about others.

I look down at my angel and softly say, “Baby, Ella’s a grown woman and her brothers are here.  I’m absolutely certain she’ll be fine.”  I lean in to kiss her delicate lips and whisper against them, “Now let’s go.”  Ana smiles and nods.

On our way to the car we hear, “Hey Grey!”  I look over my shoulder to see the mutherfucker coming toward us.  I don’t know what he wants, but let’s get it over with so I can take Ana home.

When he reaches us I stand in front of Ana, cross my arms over my chest and stare at him.  “That’s me” I say in my driest tone.  This bastard means no good.  I can feel it.  Over the years I’ve learned to trust my gut instinct and right now it tells me this fucker is looking for trouble.

He extends his hand, but I don’t take it.  He acted an ass the last time I saw him.  Now he’s developed manners, really?  He slowly drops his hand and scowls at me.

This bastard’s got some fucking nerve.

“I see.  You fit in well with them.” he mumbles under his breath.

Without changing my tone I ask, “Fit in well with whom?”

Prick.

“The Browns, although, you’re more like the Three Stooges.  I expected better.  Based on your track record in business I thought you would be more civilized.  I see I was wrong.”

Who IS this son of a bitch?

Ana reaches up from behind me and places a hand on my bicep reminding me she’s here.

“What the fuck do you want?”  I quip.  I’m not in the mood for bullshit, but I know better than to turn my back.

“We weren’t properly introduced.  I was attempting to rectify that error.”  He then turns his gaze on Anastasia.”

Pompous fucker, we weren’t introduced because you behaved too badly and embarrassed my cousin.

Wait a fucking second.  Where did that come from?

“The error was yours.  Ella tried to introduce us when you went ballistic.  What the fuck is your problem anyway?”  His smug look is quickly replaced with annoyance, which slowly morphs into anger.

“Don’t worry about Ella.  She can take care of herself.  You’re the last thing she needs.  Matter of fact, you’re the last thing any of them need.  Why don’t you and your lovely fiancée go back where you belong?  You’re sentiments were heard loud and clear so why don’t you just fuck off?”  This prick is delirious.  Not only is he pestering Ella, now he’s invading my privacy and he dared to speak about Ana.

Oh no mutherfucker…not my girl.

There was no sound.  First there was no movement, then there was a hand on his shoulder spinning him around followed by what I can only describe as the sound of evil.

ELLA

“Thank God that shit is over.”  Eran sits on one of the tables in the conference room as Em and I collect the remaining agendas and reports.

“You can say that again brother.”  Everett chimes in.

“Boys, do we have everything?” I ask and they nod.  “Then let’s go.”  I sound as exhausted as I feel.  Sitting for an hour trying to ignore someone is one thing, but trying to ignore someone you really want to speak with is too juvenile for words.  Evy, Em and I positioned our chairs so we wouldn’t face Christian directly and we sat on the farthest side of the table.  We could look at Eran, for moral support, so he wouldn’t even have to look at Christian as he spoke to the committee.

“I mean really, how old are we.  I had more fun when Granddad cussed me out the other day for my old man jokes.  I know Dad always says looks aren’t everything, but that Grey fucker looks like Granddad and acts like him too.”  He’s right.  Christian’s presence this evening exuded hostility and we all felt it.

“Well, we’re done for this year and if he maintains his self-imposed exile from us we’ll be done with him as well.  Let’s get the fuck…” Everett doesn’t finish his sentence.  As we file out of the building, we look up and see Christian, Liam, Dad, Granddad and Anastasia together in the parking lot and it’s not a happy encounter.  Anastasia is standing behind Christian, but she is still in the line of fire.  We rush to them and I reach Ana in time to move her away from the men.  I don’t say a word.  I simply shake my head.

Daddy is holding Liam by the back of the neck almost off of the ground while Granddad is in his face, “Liam Jared Beckett!  Leave my grandson alone!  He is his own man and has the right to be treated as such.  Do not let me see nor hear that you have bothered him ever again or you will have me to deal with young man” then Granddad leans closer to Liam and continues growling, “and we all know what that can entail.”  Everyone, except Daddy’s eyes are as round as saucers.  The look of anger on Daddy and Granddad’s faces is like none I’ve ever seen before.

From somewhere near me I hear, “Oh my God.  Aunt Ellie…” Everett barely whispers as the blood slowly drains from his face.  He looks at me for confirmation. With melancholy in my eyes, I nod to him and see a lone tear trickle down his cheek as he mouths ‘I apologize’ to me.  I give him a weary smile in thanks.  Now he understands.

Suddenly, Daddy drops Liam.  “COME!”  Granddad’s voice booms over all.  “We have bothered Christian and Anastasia long enough.”  Granddad looks at Daddy, me and the boys, then nods strongly as if he’s just closed a huge business deal.  He turns to Christian and says, “I apologize for this display.”  Likewise he looks at Anastasia, smiles and takes one of her hands in both of his, as he apologizes to her.  “Miss Steele, please forgive my outburst, I do not make a habit of behaving this way in public.  I hope I have not given you cause for trepidation.”  To her credit, Anastasia smiles at him.  He kisses her hand then turns to us and utters again, although in a slightly softer tone.,”Come.”

All eyes turned toward Christian and Anastasia.  We all, including Liam, look at the couple who is still in shock.  We nod our goodbyes and offer quiet apologies, like the chastened children we are, as we leave.  We hadn’t gotten far when Everett stops in his tracks and looks back over his shoulder at Christian.  “You all go on without me.  I’ll meet you back home.”

Oh shit.

Granddad halts then turns his head, slowly, to look at Everett with silver-grey narrowed eyes, but Ev holds his ground.  I’ve never been prouder of my big brother when he glares back at Daddy and Granddad, with his fists clenched at his sides, and says, “I will meet you at the Family Home *later*.  I wish to speak with my cousin, if he will allow it.  You have both taught me well and although I may not always exhibit the best decorum, it does not mean I do not know how.”

Granddad and Daddy look at each other impassively then the two men give simultaneous, yet almost imperceptible, nods to Everett, as the rest of us continue to walk away.  I hear Daddy quietly say to Ev, “Watch yourself young man.  He’s family.”

Ev responds in the same tone of voice, “I know Dad.  I remember them…well” then I hear footsteps as Evy walks away…toward Christian.

GREY

I turn to look at Ana who’s just as surprised by that little scene as I am.  We continue our trek toward the waiting R8 when we hear one of the Browns yell, “GREY!”  I refuse to acknowledge him and we continue on our way.  “DAMMIT GREY, STOP!”  The sound of his voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

“Oh Heaven help me”  I groan in mental pain.

DAMN!  Mutherfucking Son of a Bitch, REALLY?  What the fuck else do they want?

Ana tugs on my hand, “Christian, stop.”  She seems to implore me.

“No Anastasia, I don’t want to hear anything else those fuckers have to say.  They’re nothing to me.”  I snarl.

She stops dead in her tracks and tilts her head to one side as she tells me, “Christian, you and I both know that’s not true.  Just because it’s painful doesn’t mean it’s nothing.  Stand there and tell me you don’t want answers.  Stand there and tell me you don’t want to know.”  She crosses her arms over her chest and raises a beautiful eyebrow challenging me.

I sigh and look straight up into the dazzling night sky, “Anything for you my Love” then I look down at her, bend over and kiss her on those sweet pouty lips.

In true Anastasia style she shakes her head and tells me, “No Christian, for you,” she points a finger in my chest to emphasize her statement, “not for me.  This is about you and your family.  When you talk with them it’ll be because you’re ready and you want to know not because you want me to leave the subject alone.”

Come on Grey, we both know the answer to that, especially after the contact you’ve had with the Brown’s so far.  Lets hear the fucker out and take it from there.  No commitments, just listen to the spiel.

Fine, I huff at myself.

As Everett reaches us, I turn around and straighten my stance.  He’s not a little boy, but then, neither am I.  Slowly I transform into Dom Mode and it’s with a deep, strong voice I ask, “What the fuck do you want?”

He comes to a halt a few feet in front of me then softly says, “Damn.  I see it now” a look of wonder on his face.  “I knew you looked familiar, but I figured it was from all of newspaper and magazine photos I’ve seen lately.”  He sounds like he’s in awe, like he’s just solved the toughest trigonometry equation he’s ever faced.

Brown shakes his head, as if to clear his thoughts, then he extends his hand to me.  I look at him in disbelief so he says, “Yes, I’ve been a true schmuck toward you and I deserve to have my ass kicked for it.  All I can do is apologize.  I know you better than you think, I love you more than you could ever believe, I’m glad you’re alive and here.”  He smiles at my obvious shock.

Slowly, and for some reason I don’t understand, I take his hand in a firm shake.  With the speed of a lightening strike, he surprises me even more when he tugs hard on my hand and pulls me into an embrace.  My entire body stiffens and he says in my ear, “I won’t hurt you Cousin.  If I went through your trials and tribulations, I’d feel exactly the same way.  You don’t have to fear me.  I love you Christian” then, just as quickly, he lets me go, nods to Ana and leaves us beside my car.

I’m left standing in amazement.  At first, I wanted to scream and knock the shit out of him, but his words changed my mind.  I don’t understand why I didn’t beat the shit out of him when he got so close.  Why didn’t I push him away?  Now that he’s released me, why don’t I feel the burning on my chest and back?  I hear her small voice next to me like the voice of reason she is.  I know she can read my thoughts, “He loves you Christian, that’s why you didn’t fight him.  I have a feeling you would be the same way with your grandfather and uncle as well.”

I pull Ana into my arms and see the tears streaming down her face.  “Baby, it’s alright.  I’m ok.”

She pulls away from me and says, “I’m not upset Christian.  These are happy tears.”  Gradually, she raises on her tiptoes, laying her tiny hands on my chest to balance herself, and plants a gentle kiss on my lips.


Three Amigos is a 1986 American western comedy film directed by John Landis and written by Lorne Michaels, Steve Martin, and Randy Newman.  Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short star as the title characters, three silent film stars who are mistaken for real heroes by a small Mexican village and must find a way to live up to that reputation.

The Brat Pack is a nickname given to a group of young actors who frequently appeared together in teen-oriented coming-of-age films in the 1980s.

The Three Stooges were an American vaudeville and comedy act of the mid–20th century (1930–1975) best known for their numerous short subject films, still syndicated to television. Their hallmark was physical farce and slapstick.