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Sweet & Simple

What Life Ought To Be

Author

Sweet & Simple

Perfection is achieved, not where there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Liam Jared Beckett

A/N:  This story line and these characters belong to me.


She’s my anchor…my rock.  Many’s the time she’s saved me from ill-fated decisions and reckless actions.  I didn’t like it, or her, at the time, but when it all came down, she was right.  I could walk away scot-free and all I had to do was thank her.  It astounded me how she was still there to give me advice, listen to me bitch and encourage me even when there were other girls in my life.

Don’t get me wrong.  Ellie always gave me her appraisal of my current “flavor” and would go so far as to bet her brothers on the odds of a lasting “venture.”  I thought for sure she would lose it when Sophia came into my life.  We lasted a solid year until…I guess I gave her the benefit of the doubt too soon.  You would think 365 days was long enough to lower your guard.

Having completed my studies at Yale, I did some traveling and met Sophia, on the Island of Crete.  I brought her home to meet my family and ran into Everett.  He invited us to the Family Home so my other family could meet her as well.

“Don’t worry Beckett, Sting Ray is taking extra classes this term.  She won’t be there.”  He raised an eyebrow at me when I let out the breath I was holding.  “Afraid of a little girl are you?”

“If you’re referring to Ella, you and I both know she may be little, but she packs a big opinion.”  And hers always meant the most to me.

“Well, no worries there boy, even the Bookends won’t be around so you won’t have any competition…in your age range.  He winks at me and I know he’s referring to Emmett and Edward.  Those two. Each one alone can wreak havoc on one’s psyche, but the two of them together can be an emasculating experience.

“Sure thing Brown, we’ll see you and the ole men around 7 or 8 PM on our way to the cinema.”

Everett claps me on my shoulder, hard, “good boy.  See you this evening.”

What the fuck have I gotten myself into?


We arrived a little after 7 PM and I knew this would be bad, but I had no idea how much of an understatement bad was.  There was no need to go to a movie as I was about to live through my own melodramatic, chick-flick, horror story this evening.

It started when Edward opened the door, “Well hello Liam, how wonderful to see you.”  I ignored two giveaways:  he called me Liam, not Beckett, and he smiled, always a sign of trouble.

“Hello Mr. Brown, it is good to see you as well.  Everett suggested we stop in for a visit this evening.  I trust it is alright with you.”

“Certainly young man. Who do you have with you?  Hello Miss…”  He reaches out to grasp her hand and again, he’s smiling.  There’s a definite twinkle in his eyes and at this moment, he reminds me of the Big Bad Wolf.

“I apologize.  This is Sophia Alanis.  Sophia, this is Edward Brown.”  She drops her head slightly and looks up at him through her eyelashes, which she has the nerve to bat at the old man. Right. Fucking. In front of me.

Um. Hello! You fucking arrived here with me. What the fuck are you doing?

Edward gently kisses her hand and makes a big fucking production of the gesture.  I half expect him to lick his way up her arm.  “Miss Alanis, it is a pleasure to meet you” he purrs. Have you ever heard a man purr? Its fucking sickening. Which is followed by the almighty wink, I knew that was coming.  Fuck, I’d rather Sting Ray was here and get my ass-whipping over and done.  This bastard is gonna drag this shit out forever.  All I can pray for is that I only have to withstand his bullshit.  If Emmett and/or Everett join in the festivities, I’m done. This bitch can find her own way home.

The click of his shoes sound on the marble floor. “I thought I heard voices out here.  How are you Liam, it has been a long time since we have enjoyed your company.” He too falls into a Paramount Pictures, Emmy Award winning routine, complete with double-take. “Who, pray tell, is this lovely creature?”  His voice smooth and mellow, burning my ears like a blowtorch.

I make the introductions while Sophie fucking giggles and Emmett proceeds to kiss her hand and her cheek.  The fucker even whispered something in her fucking ear.  I feel like my head is gonna explode.

Each of those bastards tucks one of her arms in his and saunters away, leading her past the grand staircase, into the Great Room. Suddenly, an amused Everett stands beside me, in my line of sight, and pats me hard on the shoulder, immediately taking my attention. He leans in to quietly tell me, “You won’t last long you know that don’t you? I have it on good authority there’s more to come and this little thing of yours,” he clandestinely gestures to Sophie, “will be over and done with soon.” He, too, has a shit-eating grin on his face.

I’m speechless, I mean gaped-mouth, stock still, astounded. “You fucking pricks are doing this shit to me on purpose?!” I whisper yell. Not that it would make a fucking bit of fucking difference because Sophia is way too fucking preoccupied with the overtures from the Big Bad Wolf and Don Juan. “What the fuck…”

Everett turns me to face him, looks me square in the eyes. We are exactly the same height, build and have the same demeanor. There’s no throwing either of us aside and no getting around us, alone or together.  “Are you ready to lose your Sting Ray Beckett?”

Ellie?  What’s he going on about?  Ellie may not like Sophie. They’re nothing alike.  Sophie’s the epitome of a girl, pink everything, frills and ruffles everywhere.  She changes clothes a dozen or more times before settling on the first outfit.  I have to wait for her finger and toenails to dry before getting an air-kiss to keep from smudging anything and let’s not think about the cramps and mood swings for seven days out of each month. What does any of that have to do with Ellie?

Ellie is grounded, thoughtful, conscientious and brilliant. She has a particular analytical mind and isn’t afraid to verbalize her conclusions. Ellie can and will fight her own battles then never let you forget she beat your ass. She takes down to no one, not even the men in her family. This is why her opinion is vital in my life. This is why she is vital in my life.

“What are you talking about Brown?” I growl. I’m tired of his, his father and his grandfather’s bullshitting around.

“I’m talking about Ellie finding out you’ve spent the last year with that slutty gold-digger.”  He jerks his head back, toward Sophie, who’s still eating up the flattery she’s getting from Edward and Emmett, without even a side thought about me it seems.

“I blame this on your psychopathic, suavey-bono relatives.  What it is, a fucking full moon?  Since when do they lay it on this thick?”  I look over Everett’s shoulder and see Edward holding Sophie’s hand as she daintily sits on the loveseat, Emmett by her side.

Moving his head so he’s, once again, looking me directly in the eyes he says, “They want you to see what they’ve read about.”  His brows raised. His eyes piercing into mine.

Read about? Read about? Realization slaps the shit out of me.  “They did a background check on her?”  I whisper, softly this time.  Everett nods once then looks back over his shoulder at the trio.

“If they’re wrong, they’ll apologize, you know that, but…judging from the looks of things”, he turns back to face me, “I wouldn’t wait around for one.”  Everett shakes his head, squeezes my shoulder and asks, “Wanna a drink?”

After one last glance at the melodramatic, chick-flick, horror story playing before my eyes I look at Everett, “YESSS…” I hiss.


Big Bad Wolf
A fictional wolf appearing in several cautionary tales that includes some of Aesop’s Fables and Grimms’ Fairy Tales

Don Juan
Also Don Giovanni (Italian), is a legendary, fictional libertine. The name “Don Juan” is a common metaphor for a womanizer.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 27 You’re Home!?

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 27 | You’re Home!?

GREY

“That was a lovely meal Anastasia. You and Mrs Taylor astound me.” Everett sings praises to my baby over her culinary prowess. “Perhaps I can beg you to cook for a single man and his teenage son sometime? Please?” Bright blue puppy dog eyes on display have me sputtering into my wine glass.

“Look fucker…” I begin to growl at Everett as he sits across the sofa from Ana and I. A slight lift of the left side of his mouth gives way to a boisterous laugh from my Ana, effectively cutting off my tirade.

“Pay no attention to him Everett. I’d love to cook for you and Christopher sometime. We should all get together for dinner once we’re back home.” He and I smile at one another as she refers to Townsville as home.

Our conversation moves to the topic of when we should leave Seattle. We still haven’t heard from Christopher’s mother regarding her son’s disappearance, which has Everett in a foul mood, despite his best efforts. He hides it well, but there’s no mistaking the crispness in his voice when he agrees Stephen deserves to rest and he’s willing to wait until tomorrow afternoon to leave.

I’m simply not prepared to discuss the reason for this visit with my family. No doubt mine and Everett’s entrance into GEH this morning caused quite a stir, just how much remains to be seen. All talk about our departure halts when Taylor storms into the Great Room, “Sir.”

We’re all taken off guard by his entrance. “What’s wrong Taylor?” He looks like he’s ready to explode.

“You have a visitor Sir” He hisses and stares at me, hard. I don’t have to ask who it is. Although I’m shocked it’s taken this long.

I sigh out loud and turn to Ana, “Baby, do you want to be here for this conversation or would you rather go to bed?”

Her response is quick and to the point, “This is my home too, right?” I nod, of course it’s her home too. “I’m not going anywhere.” Her eyes fill with the strength and stubbornness I’ve come to love. My Ana.

With a smile on my face and in my voice I look to my cousin, “Ev, same goes for you. Do you want to…” as if I thought I could finish my sentence. He doesn’t speak, he simply raises a questioning eyebrow as his eyes flash a sinister gleam I’ve never seen before.

I turn and nod to Taylor, who also smiles, letting me know he’s not going to leave the room either. “Yes Sir.” He does a sharp about-face and proceeds to the foyer.

One-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one… She marches through the foyer. The distinct click of her Stuart Weitzman stilettos in tune with the indignant sound of her voice as her mouth runs a mile a minute, ”I really don’t understand why you haven’t contacted me before now. You leave abruptly then you return and you don’t let me know. Of all things Chris..tian, Dar…ling…” She stops, dead in her tracks, when she sees my ’full house’. In an instant she remembers herself, stands up straighter and clears her throat, as if she needs to be heard loud and clear, “Ahem, how are you Darling? When I heard you were back, I couldn’t believe it. Why haven’t you called me?”

I automatically take my Dom stance and inquire, “Who told you we were here?” I emphasize we because it’s obvious I’m not alone.

First I detect a small smile on her face, that is, until Anastasia stands beside me and says, “Hello”, followed by Everett’s unique observations.

Never vacating the comfort of his spot on the sofa, Everett cocks his head to the side, furrows his brow then says, “Grey, I didn’t know your grandmother lived in Seattle.” Elena takes in a sharp breath. Standing behind her, Taylor is staring off into outer space, but I swear I saw the corner of his mouth twitch. Ana does some kind of grunt-giggle thing. While I have to hold my fucking breath.

Everett then leans back in his seat, making himself even more comfortable. He crosses his arms and places his index finger to his lips, as if pondering the Meaning of Life, before commenting further. “I must say, you Americans certainly do believe in the power of hydrogen peroxide and the elasticity of silicon as a means of self-preservation, don’t you?” Ana hiccups another giggle while covering her mouth.  This time, I have to smirk at Elena, who’s now clenching her teeth and turning bright red.

Still in his seat of power with his arms crossed, Everett glances at me and states, loud and clear, as if addressing a boardroom filled with potential clients, “The old man can rest assured his investments are sound. I’m going to have to purchase a chemical company or two for myself when we get back home.” I absent-mindedly nod, as if commiserating about his investment choice.

As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, Everett stands and saunters toward Elena stopping inches in front of her. With his hands stuffed down in his pockets, he rocks back and forth from his heels to his toes then with a child-like smile in his voice he asks her, “Tell me Granny, which products do you swear by?”

OH, FUCKING HELL-FIRE AND BRIMSTONE! Grey, if you give him anymore shit…I’ll make up a dream just to scare the fuck out of you. Get it?

Got it.

Good. I love this bastard even if you don’t.

He is quite witty isn’t he.

Her face is the same color as the walls in my fucking Playroom. It’s fucking picture perfect.

Anastasia giggles, laughs then snorts with abandon over Everett’s question. Taylor is still standing behind Elena, at the entrance to the Great Room, now with tears shining in his eyes. Somehow, one manages to escape, trailing down his cheek.

I, on the other hand, never break my stance. I’m going to fucking die laughing when this conversation is over, but only after it’s over. I act as if I didn’t hear Everett and repeat my question, louder this time, “Who told you we were here?”

Elena looks at me like a deer in headlights. Yes bitch, I asked you a fucking question. “I…um…well the…the press reported you arrived earlier today. I waited for you to call me and when I didn’t hear from you I called your office. Your assistant told me you were busy. I waited until I thought you might be home and decided to come to you. Christian, are you really going to let him speak to me this way?”

Before I can think about responding, Everett speaks for himself jumping straight into her ass with both boots. “He doesn’t let me do, say or think a fucking thing. Any questions you have with regard to me, you direct them to me, because I won’t let him speak for me.”

Now her face is as white as the walls here in the Great Room. This would be pathetic if it weren’t so damn entertaining.

Yes, as entertaining as it is, enough of this bullshit, what the fuck does this whore want? Get to the heart of the matter. I’d rather watch fleas fuck than deal with her.

Exasperated I growl, “What. The fuck. Do you want. Elena?” Get on with it bitch.

“I told you Dar…”

Let’s nip that fake-ass endearment shit in the bud, “I’m not your darling. What the fuck do you want!? I’m not going to ask again.” She remains mute. I’m finished with her. “Taylor, throw this bag of bullshit out.”

Taylor smiles like a little kid with an ice cream cone, “Yes Sir. Let’s go Wicked Witch.” He grabs her by her upper arm and begins to drag her out of the room, but of course she can’t just go the fuck away. For some reason, she seems to think last-chance jabs work to her advantage.

“Christian! Why are you letting her do this to me…to us? All she wants is your money Darling. Can’t you see that? Does she even begin to fulfill your needs in that big house in Townsville, Australia? On the water isn’t it Darling? The Corral Reef?”

THAT BITCH! WHAT THE FUCK?!

“Taylor! Stop!“ He stops on a dime and creeps an about-face. I can see steam coming out of his ears.

How the fuck does she know where I am in the world? Until I revealed my whereabouts to Carrick, my parents couldn’t find me with a search warrant. Now this old crow does everything but call out the name of my street.

“What did you say? Australia. House. Corral Reef.”  I repeat keywords from her rant and stand up even taller, if that’s possible, as I do. Elena’s eyes widen. I haven’t told her I was in Australia. The last she heard I was in Taiwan. The last time we spoke there was no mention of where I was, other than to confirm I was still outside of the United States. I knew she was watching Ana, Taylor and Welch figured it out, but now she’s shown her hand.  ”What are you talking about?”

Dumb bitch.

She’s watching me too.

She rallies back at first, or so she thought, “The press knows your life Dar…” I clear my throat and she cuts herself off, “Christian. It’s no secret you went to Australia from Taiwan. I mean…”

She forgot he was in the room, as did I, until we hear here him bellow, “Liar!” Elena jumps then begins to shake.  Everett caught her off guard. “Yes the fuck it is a secret.  I’m the reason it’s a secret. Just what the fuck are you up to you old cow?”

SECOND

“Liar!”

What the fuck is all the noise? I was actually getting some sleep. It’s been a while since I’ve really slept. School, sports, work and my Mistress all keep me pretty busy.

“Yes the fuck it is a secret.  I’m the reason it’s a secret. Just what the fuck are you up to you old cow?” Shit! Dad’s pissed at someone. Who’s he shouting at? Did Mom call him. I doubt it. I can’t see him speaking that way to Anastasia. She the nicest little thing I’ve ever met. She looks a lot like Aunt Ellie too. I know those big blue eyes are what captured Grey’s attention. They really are stunning.

“…I want you Christian. I can make you happy, don’t you remember? There’s no one for me, but you.” WHAT?! No! It can’t be! She wouldn’t be here, not after how discrete we all were in collecting the information she requested. No way Mistress would show up on his doorstep like this and what does she mean there’s no one for me, but you? What the fuck am I, chopped liver? This has to be a mistake. There has to be a rational explanation.

“Elena enough!” That’s the last thing I remember before standing in front of the woman I’ve called Mistress. The woman I devoted myself to, mind, body and soul. I’ve allowed her to control me, what I think, how I feel, how I fuck. She had more control over me than my mother. My own flesh and blood. The only person in the world who can trump either one of these women is my father. He’s my lifeline. He keeps me grounded when the rest of the world is pulling me away from my sanity.

I don’t know how I got downstairs without any of them hearing or seeing me. Well, that’s a lie, it was easy with all attention focused on her, as well as the bellowing and screeching going on. I know one thing, Everett’s is pissed…and so am I.

“Mistress?” I hiss with all the venom I can muster. “What are you doing here? What’s going on?” The sound of my voice, my stance, my emotion is Everett Rockhold-Brown, even to my own ears. I have to understand what could’ve possibly brought her here.

They all look at me as if I were up past my bedtime. Only Anastasia approaches me. With a soothing and considerate voice she says, “I apologize Christopher, we didn’t mean to disturb you? Please, go back to bed and rest.” She walks over and places one of her small hands on my cheek, turning my face and focus to her and her bright smile. She reminds me so much of Aunt Ellie. Innocent, caring, compassionate and strong. She’s all things good and kind. All of the things a woman should be. All of the things I see in my family, except for my mother. I nod, absent-mindedly, at her suggestion.

Why does Mistress hate her?

My eyes veer over to Mistress who’s wearing a straight, impassive mask. It’s the expression she uses when she’s hiding an error or…making up a lie. She’s wrong, about Anastasia. She’s wrong about something else as well. I don’t know what it is. Yet. But Everett will find out and if Everett knows, so will I.

She may have taught me control, but the Rockhold-Brown Family taught me everything else. I pull from my father’s strength and Anastasia’s goodness when I hiss, “Mistress.” then turn and go back to my room. Anastasia is right. I’ve heard as much as I can stand right now. I know there’s more and it affects my family, which is unacceptable and unforgivable.

As if on cue I hear my father bellow, “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT ABOUT?! MISTRESS!? YOU FILTHY WHORE!  I’LL.  MAKE SURE.  YOU.  FRY!”

I smile as I ascend the stairs. The ole man means what he says and not the way she thinks. Everett Rockhold-Brown doesn’t speak in the abstract or figurative sense. He doesn’t do puns or innuendo. He goes straight for the jugular.

She’ll soon learn, we really are a sneaky bunch.

GREY

Good grief Charlie Brown. I thought I was gonna have to kill Everett after Christopher’s appearance. Taylor couldn’t get that old crow out of here fast enough. Ana was able to calm the bear down while I could restrain him, with great effort mind you.

Damn that fucker is strong. You’ll have to work at kicking his ass Grey.

Yeah, but I never back down from a challenge. So if the time comes, it’ll be a battle of the gladiators I guarantee you.

Ring…Buzzzz…Buzz-Buzz…

“Daddy”…

“Grey!”…

“Hi Emmett…”

A distraction. Just in the nick of time. We look at each other and grin when our phones go off simultaneously and we each respond to our parents, almost in unison.

“Hi Daddy, how are you? Yes, Christian and I are in Seattle right now.” She always sounds so bright when she talks to Ray. “No Daddy, we aren’t staying long. Christian had some business to handle and I didn’t want to stay in Townsville by myself.”

My mother takes me away from eavesdropping on Ana, “Hello Dear, how are you? I’m so glad your here. How long are you going to be home? Have you moved back to Seattle? Why haven’t you called? Is everything alright? Is Ana with you? It would be wonderful to see you both. We miss you both so much Christian.” As she fires away questions and comments Grace sounds eager and solemn at the same time, if that’s even possible.

I lower my head , shake it back and forth and rub my forehead with my free hand. I hate to do this to her. My mother doesn’t whine, she just gets this ‘motherly plea’ demeanor and it breaks my heart; the one I didn’t know I had.

Just as I’m about to respond to Grace, I hear a distinctive hiss coming from Everett’s direction, “The old bitch showed up here in the wrinkled, sagging flesh! It took everything…yes, he’s back upstairs. His ass better be asleep or I’ll beat him till he drifts off. He wandered his ass down here during part of the discussion, if you can call it that. Oh, by the way, Edward’s US investments are definitely paying off, that bitch was a walking billboard for peroxide and plastic surgery. Yeah…no need to worry…” Everett and his ole man have a totally different relationship than what I’m used to.

“Christian?!…” Oh shit, Grace.

“I’m here Mom…I…” I don’t have a chance in Hell against her.

“Please don’t tell me no Christian. You and Ana have a wedding to plan. We need to get started as soon as possible.” She’s silent for a few seconds and I’m still trying to formulate how to tell her we can’t come for a visit.  She misunderstood my hesitation because she asks, “You are still getting married aren’t you Christian?” She sounds more leery than inquisitive. Things between Ana and I are great. Better than ever actually. It makes me wonder where our problems really lie.

I stop my child-like, excuse conjuring and manage not to roll my eyes. “Yes Mom, we’re still getting married.” I say with a smile in my voice and in my heart. My cousin’s conversation, however, gives Grace cause for alarm.

“What the fuck do you mean her lawyer says? I don’t give a flying fuck…” I spin around and glare hard at Everett. The bastard and his bullshit is gonna make Grace to come over here.

Shut the fuck up dude!

He simply glares back at me and balls the fist of his free hand. I stab the mute button on my phone then whisper a shout, “If you don’t keep your fucking voice down, you’ll have to explain this fucking shit-storm to Grace.” If I could disguise the sound of breaking glass, I’d hit Everett over the head with a vase.

“Christian! Where are you?! Who’s that talking?! Is everything alright?! You’re not in any trouble are you?! I’m coming over there!” Fuck!

Oh shit!

I turn back to my call, quickly unmutting the phone, “No Mom! There’s no need to come over. Everything is fine. It’s just a movie Ana has on. Baby, turn the volume down please. It’s upsetting Mom.” Everett grins at Ana so hard, I think his cheeks are gonna crack. My baby’s none too happy with being the heavy in this conversation.

She hits mute on her phone then whisper-shouts as well, “The two of you are on dishwashing duty, no matter what country we are in, anytime I or Ella cook.” She hit mute again and without missing a beat says, “Yes Daddy, he’s right here. He’s talking with Grace right now, but I can put him on the line.” I wave my hand to stop her, but it’s too late.

“Hey Christian. How are you Son? Good to hear you two are back. Annie said you’re talking to your mom so I won’t keep you. I just wanted to say hello. Tell your mom I said hi too. Bye Son.” Here I am, with a phone in each hand. I can hear the glee in Ray’s voice while Everett and Ana stand shaking their heads and holding their hands over their mouths to muffle the sound of their combined laughter.

“Mom, hang on a second. Hi Ray, I’m good. How are you? Yeah. Yes, your daughter is ever the little prankster. Yeah, my mom’s on the phone in my other ear. I’ll tell her. Take care Ray. Bye.” I hand the phone back to Ana and raise my brow letting her know there’ll be retribution for this misdemeanor.

Still talking to Ray, Ana walks off to our bedroom while I head to my study, followed closely behind by my vociferous cousin. I have to keep mouthing and waving at him to lower his fucking voice or, even better, shut the fuck up.

“Mom, would it be alright for you and I to sit down and talk? Alone.” There are a few things I need to ask and a few things I need to share with my mother. I need to know where she falls in this entire Brown Family blow-up. Did she know they existed too?

“Of course Son. You can always talk to me, you know that.” Good, although I’m not in the mood for a family thing. I’ve been in regular touch with Carrick so I can do without an ass reaming for one conversation.

Mom’s voice catches me completely off guard, “Christian, you didn’t answer me. How long are you going to be home? Have you moved back to Seattle?” She doesn’t usually call me out on my vagueness. Here we go.

“I won’t lie Mom. No, I haven’t moved back to Seattle and no, we’re not staying.” My mother’s gasp sends a pain shooting straight through my chest.

“You’re not staying? Why not? Christian, this temper tantrum of yours has got to end! We supported your choice to tend to business abroad and relegated ourselves to staying in the dark about your self-imposed exile, but enough is enough! You and Ana have reconciled. Now it’s time to come home!” I smile a little. I can just see her with her hand on her hip as she gives me what for.

“Mom, I came home on emergency business and I didn’t want to leave Ana in Townsville. We’ve been apart long enough. I’ve met with the immediate contacts. Now the situation needs research and evaluation. I’ll do that in Townsville. I have responsibilities there too Mom.” I look over at Everett who seems to have finished his conversation with his father. His face takes on a concerned expression as he witnesses my struggle.

“Well, when are you leaving for Australia? “ She sounds defeated. There’s no background noise, which leads me to believe she’s alone, that makes me feel even worse.

“As soon as Stephen and his co-pilot are rested enough for the return flight.” I need to talk with my mother before we leave. It’s only fair. “Mom, I’d like to come over and talk with you. Would that be alright? I know you’re disappointed with our leaving and all…” Please say yes Mom. Please say yes.

“Oh, of course Son, whenever you like just let me know.” Her voice is soft and she sounds like she’s lost her best friend.

“How about breakfast. Tomorrow? Pancakes, bacon, eggs and toast? Like old times?” I try to have a smile in my voice as I will my mother not to hurt over my decision to leave Seattle, again.

Somehow it works. I can hear her responding smile as she says, “With sliced strawberries and whipped cream I suppose. Of course Dear. Anything for you Christian. May I speak with Ana please Son?” My smile widens at the calmness in her voice.

“Let me see if she’s off the phone. She got a call from Ray.” I stand from behind my desk and move toward my study door when Mom stops me.

“Christian, no!” What the… “Don’t interrupt her conversation with her father. I know Ray misses talking with Ana. Whether she lives in Seattle or Timbuktu, he wants time with his little girl.  I love you Christian. Give Ana my love as well and I’ll see you bright and early for breakfast. Be sure to shower after your run Dear. You know sweaty hair and clothes are not appropriate attire for the breakfast table.” Boo-ya! She does remember.  I knew she would.

“Yes ma’am. I love you Mom,” with that, we end our call. I lower my head and stare at my phone as I stand at the door to my study for a moment or two recalling her comments.

Warmth returns to my heart placing a small smile on my lips, which causes Everett to speak. “Care to share with the class?” No, but he seems genuinely interested so I’ll give him this.

Without raising my head or my gaze, I share, “Grace misses me and I feel like a heel for not spending time with her. I’m going to Bellevue in the morning to have  breakfast with her.” My eyes wander from the phone to his face as I confess, “It was something we shared.” He nods, encouraging me to continue.

I take a deep breath. “When I would fuck up in school, which usually resulted in a suspension,” He doesn’t seem astonished, “before I ended up in Elena’s clutches, I would get up early, before everyone else and go for a run. I’d run as far away as I could then trudge back, almost crawling in the front door. Grace would cook pancakes topped with strawberries and whipped cream, eggs and bacon. Just for she. And I.” I smile at the thought, just for she and I.

“Elliott and Mia left for school and Carrick stormed out of the house long before I got back, so it was just she and I. Mom would harass me to hurry up and shower before the food got cold because ‘sweaty hair and sweaty clothes are not appropriate attire for the breakfast table.’ I would grumble all the way up the stairs and piss-fart around in the shower. But no matter how much time I wasted, my breakfast was always hot and delicious.”

“We would talk about what went wrong at school. She would point out to me I was too intelligent for such behavior and encourage me to do better, to be better.” My voice cracks on the last part.

“I’ve always felt like a disappointment to her. She was the angel who saved me from a Hell of filth, drugs, abuse and starvation. How did I repay her? I fought, drank then became an unlovable monster.”  I don’t know why I’m telling him this. He’s a fucking stranger for all intents and purposes. He doesn’t want to hear this shit.

“Stop it!” Huh? What the fuck is he yelling about now?

“Stop kicking yourself. And regardless of the thoughts spinning around in that brilliant mind of yours, I do…we do give a fuck about you.  We do want to know what happened to you Cousin. None of us wants to separate you from your family. They saved you, they love you and they miss you. If you didn’t feel for them, well, first I’d know you were Edwards grandson, but also, what did Emmett and I tell you about apathy?”

“There’s nothing wrong with having feelings, love, loyalty, allegiance with your family. You have to recognize those emotions and act accordingly. I’m not proud of my aunt at the moment. I’ll always love her, but at the same time you were hurt due to her actions, her inactions, her apathy. Go to your mother. Take Anastasia with you. Christopher and I need to talk as well and it’s best we have that discussion alone. Townsville will be there when you get back.”

Everett never ceases to amaze me.

“Once we get that thing under control, you can come back here for good, if you like. Right now, this place isn’t conducive to a genial life for you and Anastasia with that…that…THAT…grazing the land. Edward gets on my last fucking nerves a lot of the time, but the bastard works hard and has been through a lot of shit. It’s even colored his point of view. His experiences don’t prevent me from respecting him or loving him, even if I don’t like him all the time. We need him to help us plan our next move. It’s good business sense.”

He shakes his head and this time I have to stop him. “Don’t” he looks at me questioningly, “your family did everything they could. She did what she wanted and I’m in a good place now. Don’t blame yourself for the crack…” I catch myself at the last-minute. The forlorn look in his eyes flashes to rage.

“Crack…what? What were you going to say?” He says through gritted teeth.

“Gentlemen.” Saved by my Baby.

I don’t break eye contact with Everett, “Hey Baby. Everything alright with Ray?” Not that I give a fuck, but I don’t want to continue this conversation with Everett.

You were getting along pretty well until…

I know dammit. Shut the fuck up.

Ana sighs, “He misses us.” Us? That catches my attention and turns my head to her.

My Baby takes in the scene in front of her. The venomous scowl on Everett’s face, the lost, miserable look I’m certain she can see in my eyes lead to her quick assessment of the situation.

He fucked up again. Rescue him.  Fast.

She puts on her prettiest smile and looks at Everett, “What do you say we all get some sleep? We’re leaving tomorrow, right?”

Returning to the scowl on Everett’s face I say, “Yes, either midday or late evening. Taylor needs to speak with Stephen again.”

Ana knows me, she knows something happened, she just doesn’t know exactly what. Conveying concern in her voice she pulls his attention to her when she asks, “Everett? Are you ok?” He nods, never taking the scowl off his face or his eyes off of me.

“Good. If you’ll come with me, I’ll show you to your room or you can bunk with Christopher if you’d rather.” That turns his head.

He smiles, a wholehearted, genial expression and injects his smooth, suave voice, “My dear Anastasia, there’s no way on God’s green Earth with that Bitch-Troll’s wrinkled red skin I would, as you put it, bunk with my son. I have a few more calls to make anyway and they’re nothing I want him to hear. So please, lead the way.” He casts a final glare in my direction before nodding his head at me, “Cousin.”

I sigh, “Good night Everett.”

Good job Grey. You did it again.

Shut. The fuck. Up.


“Mind telling me what that was about?” Anastasia says casually as she puts on her camisole and pajama shorts.

“I almost called Everett’s aunt a crack-whore. He wasn’t pleased.”

She stops in her tracks and slowly turns around to face me with shock and disbelief in her eyes. “I can only imagine he wasn’t. What made you say such a thing Christian? You’ve got to know that isn’t acceptable. Grace and I have told you countless times not to use those words to describe Ella.”

“The woman was in a bad way, Christian. Do you want to be remembered by your family as an unfeeling monster? No, you don’t. So stop behaving as if the woman’s birth-right was to be a drug addict.”

“Clearly you can see she was a beautiful person, in love with the man of her dreams and excited to have and be with her son. Don’t let the re-appearance of the Bitch-Troll change your mindset. You’ve…we’ve…come a long way…too long to let her jeopardize our happiness, which includes the Browns.”

She walks back over to me, puts her arms around my waist and lays her head on my chest. “I understand better what you and Everett mean about Seattle not being the right place for us now. As much as I love Ray and your family, we’ve gotten spoiled being on our own. Family and friends mean a lot, but when we close the door and turn out the lights it’s just you and I. We deserve all the time to ourselves we want. We’ve earned it.”

It’s my turn to look shocked. I just knew coming back here would make her want to stay. I was fully prepared to go back to Townsville alone. Yes, I would be lonely and yes, I would be back at square one, but like I told her I’m not ready to come back to Seattle for good, yet and I’m not holding her prisoner at my side. In my confusion I say, “I’m not complaining at all. What brought this on Baby?” It has to be something about her conversation with Ray. She takes a long time to respond.

“Ray told me how much he loved me and wants me to be happy. Since he doesn’t live in Seattle, it’s not like he was right next door and I moved away from him. As long as I’m happy, my Dad’s happy.” She takes a deep breath and sighs, “I, told Daddy I want to get married in Townsville and that it would mean the world to me for him to walk me down the aisle.  I also told him we would be sure to get him there, so he didn’t have to worry about travel cost and what not.” She peeks up at me through her eyelashes on the last part of her sentence.

Oh, Baby. Anything for you. She’s taken my breath away. She wants to get married in Townsville! She wants to go ahead with the wedding! We’re FINALLY getting married!

I can’t contain my happiness anymore. I pick her up and pull her tightly against me as I spin her around, her arms and legs squeeze tightly around my neck and waist. “We’re FINALLY getting married!” I shout. She giggles like a schoolgirl and it’s the most wonderful sound I’ve ever heard. I slowly come to a stop and gently slide her down my body. “Thank you Baby.” I say as I kiss the tip of her nose.

She wrinkles her nose and furrows her brow as she asks, “Thank me for what?”

“For saying ‘yes’. Again.” I hold her face in my hands and bend over to gently touch my lips to hers. “Mmm, so soft. So sweet.” I love kissing her. I love holding her. I love her.

She pulls back from me and asks, “How about we get some sleep?” I step out of my shoes and socks then strip off my shirt, jeans and boxer briefs in light seconds to stand in front of her, naked as the day I was born. She crosses her arms under her breasts and taps an index finger to her lips. “So, you’re not tired huh?”

I shake my head, “Fuck no Baby, I’m wide awake now.” I pull her back into my arms and kiss her passionately. “I’ve wanted to do that since we came home from Grey House. I can’t stand all these fucking people around. I’ve become quite accustomed to being on our own.” I wiggle my eyebrows up and down just for the fun of it.

“I like being able to take you to any room in our house, to kneel down in front of you and lick your mouth-watering clit and folds until your knees get weak. I can lay you on any surface, slide my fingers in and out of your wet core while I lick, suck and bite your beautiful pink nipples.” Her eyes glaze over. I can feel her heart hammering in her chest as I hold her against me. Her panting makes my cock stiffen between us.

Out of nowhere, she finds her voice. “Anytime of day or night I can slide my hand down your leg to cup your balls and stroke your strong, warm cock. I can unzip your slacks or your jeans and ease them down your thighs, take you in my mouth and stroke your manhood with my tongue. Watch your head fall back. Hear you moan in pleasure.” A moan escapes from somewhere deep inside my chest as I nibble her earlobe and squeeze her sweet, firm ass cheeks, pulling and holding her against my pelvis.

I kiss down her neck to her collarbone then across her throat over to her shoulder, I feel her tiny hands doing what she just described. In her one hand she’s stroking my dick, up and down, up and down, with a wonderful firm grip, while her other hand gently massages my balls. The feelings are indescribable and they take my breath away.

I kiss my way up the other side of her neck and pause at her ear, “Ana, I want you Baby. I need you.” I can hear the desire in my own voice as I begin walking us to the bed. When we reach our destination, I pull away and gently push her onto the mattress. Lust shines and twinkles in her eyes. The emotion is so strong, so vibrant, my heart stops as I look at her. It’s magnificent. She’s magnificent.

I crawl onto the bed while she slides away from me, on our ultra-king, oversized bed. “I know we have house guests and security detail within earshot. Are you alright with this?” We’ve been on our own for so long now, it feels strange having anyone else in our personal space. No matter how large that space may be.

With a small smirk on her beautiful lips she tells me, “We know you can be quiet. I guess now I need to practice. Lock the door Baby. Let the games begin.” She ain’t gotta tell me twice! I spring from the bed, jet to the fucking door and lock it, scolding myself for not making this room sound proof.

Taylor and the other security detail know not to come into my room. Even when I had nightmares, Taylor stayed away. I’m sure Everett and Christopher understand the sound of a man and woman fucking is an audible “Do No Enter” signal. She knows I don’t give a fuck who hears us. It’s my home and my woman. As long as she’s ready so am I, but if it makes her feel comfortable to lock the door, her wish is my command.

I look over my should at her as I click the lock then I creep back to the bed where she’s still seated in the middle, wearing entirely too many clothes. “Raise.” I whisper. She says nothing. She raises onto her knees, never taking her dark blues off my steel greys. I join her in our haven, bend over and brush my lips over hers as I bring my hands to the bottom of her camisole. “Arms up Baby.” I whisper against her soft, sweet lips. She follows my instruction and I slowly remove her camisole then toss it off to somewhere in the room. We’ll find it in the morning. If we look.

I kiss down her front to take her left nipple between my lips and begin to suckle, purposefully leaving its mate to stand-alone. I stroke her sides and slide my hands down her back. All the while, I hear her breath quickening and feel her heart pound against my face. I continue to suck, lick, nibble and kiss her little pink pebble. When she brings her hand up behind my head to runs her fingers through my hair, I shake my head and give her a sharp nip with my teeth. This is my party. I turn my attention to my other little playmate.

“I know I say this a lot Baby, because it’s true, you have beautiful,” lick “luscious,” kiss “succulent,” nip “firm breasts. I love the way they look, in clothes and out. I love the way they feel against my chest, my back, my lips, in my hands and in my mouth and I dearly love their flavor. Mmm.” She gasps again as, I hum against her skin, causing her body to tremble.

“Hold on Baby,” I whisper against her skin, “not yet.” I stop my ministrations and coax her to lie back on the bed. I pull her pajama shorts down over her magnificent legs, helping her out of the obstructing garment.

“No panties Miss Steele?” I move between her legs, tossing each one over my forearms. With my hands on her waist I tug her closer to me. I bend over and reward myself by running my nose over her soft brown curls, inhaling deeply and squeeze her legs in my arms. “I approve my dear Anastasia. You know how exquisite your scent is to me. You’re so ready aren’t you Baby?” I breathe against her belly and lick her navel, to prolong the moment.

I don’t look up at her for my answer. I pull her legs further apart, slide her them further up my arms and move my hands toward her ass. She glides her legs from my arms, up my biceps to my shoulders and arches her back so my hands can continue their smooth passage over her ass to her back. Then I stand, cradling her head and back in my hands and on my arms. She squeals and immediately locks her ankles behind my head. Game on Baby.

I move her further up the bed to lay her down on our favorite hideaway. I kiss each ankle, inner side of her calves, knees and thighs. I take her legs from around my neck then move on all fours up her body, trailing kisses along the way to her tastiest spot.

When I reach my destination, my satisfaction is immediate as I take the plunge, “Mmm Baby. You taste.” lick “So fucking.” kiss “Delicious.” lick, lick, suck. “Mmm.” I can’t wait anymore. My dick is throbbing between my legs and my balls are tingling, but I don’t want to break our contact. I slide two fingers inside her slick, hot core and massage her from the inside as I rise up on my knees to let her see me stoking my cock.

She begins to close her eyes and raise her back off of the bed when I command her, “Stop Anastasia!” Her torso flattens on the bed and her eyes blink open, unseeing. “Watch me Baby. Watch us.” Without breaking contact with my beautiful girl, I rub my cock over her clit as I continue to finger her. Playing the piano lends to well executed “fingering” and I enjoy playing her body like my Grand.

“Keep your eyes open Baby. I want you to watch me. Watch what I do to you, to your beautiful body.” She gives me a little nod as I first slide my cock inside her, without removing my fingers.

“Ahhh.” Is all she can say.

My stokes are long and opposing. As I slide my cock into her, I pull my fingers out of her sweet, soft haven. As I slide my cock out of her, I push my fingers back into her again, massaging the front wall of her vagina. I never leaving her bereft of some part of me.

My voice is deep and thick with desire, “Do you like that Baby?” Her eyes have glazed over again as she stares at me and nods her head. She’s lost. Totally lost in the sensations of the moment.

I gently brush my thumb over her clit causing her legs to twitch and her breath to catch. I place my free hand on the bed beside her and bend down to pull her right nipple between my lips. “Mmm…” is all I can say. I feel her eyes closing, causing me to halt all movements. I don’t raise my eyes from her breast, speak to her with her nipple between my teeth.

“Anastasia, keep your eyes open. I need you here with me Baby.” She takes a deep breath then nods again and runs her hands over my shoulders and down my back. “That’s it Baby, feel me too, inside and out. Make love to me too Ana. Make love to me too.”

I raise my eyes to watch her. To see her enjoy what I’m doing to her body. In a flash, her eyes focus and lock on mine as she mouths, “I love you Christian”. I continue moving in and out of her, using my cock and my fingers both. She slides one hand up my back, my shoulders and into my hair, gently, yet firmly, holding my eyes on hers. Her other hand descends down my chest, over my abs, around my hand, past my cock and closes over my balls. Palming me with care. The heat between us builds immediately and moan because I feel her walls begin to tremble. My cock grows thicker insider of her. I can feel it. My balls throb against her palm. The feeling is astounding, second only to her lips and tongue around my member.

“Ssshhhiiittt Baby.” I rasp with uncontrolled hunger and love. “We have to be quiet, right?” She doesn’t answer. Her walls simply tighten around my cock and fingers as her back once again rises off of the bed. She even has the wherewithal to cradle my balls in her hand. When she opens her mouth I hear a low rumble. As the rumble changes to a growl then a deep wonton sound, I quickly cover her lips with my own and push my tongue deep inside her mouth. As she sucks my tongue I realize they’re not her moans being captured. They’re mine.


After what seemed like endless love-making, I’m wide awake with Ana snuggled into my body. I stoke her arm and kiss her temple, “I love you Baby” I tell her.

“I love you too Christian.” She whimpers and sighs in her sleep. I smile widely, both from her sleepy confession and the knowledge that she really does love me.

I creep out of our bed and tip to door, which I unlock with the utmost care, so as not to wake Ana then I slip out and move toward the Great Room. What I find there astonishes me, “Good God, does anyone in this family sleep?” I avoided leaving Ana to play my beloved piano because I didn’t want to be away from and I didn’t want to wake anyone. I know we’re not alone here and while I really don’t give a fuck who hears me or sees me, I don’t like explaining myself even more. How long has this fucker been in here. He’s still in his suit pants, dress shirt and shoes. It doesn’t look like he’s slept at all.

“Oh? You’re the only one allowed to be awake in the wee hours of the morning?” Everett stares out the floor to ceiling window at the impending Seattle sunrise. His back is to me, but I detect something in his voice. I’m not sure what it is. His dry, monotone spreads throughout the Great Room, then dies immediately. Silent. Not a soft hush, just a flat, dead silence. It’s not the booming sound I’ve grown accustomed to, even when he’s calls himself whispering, especially when he’s angry or happy or…shit, anytime. There’s no sarcasm, no whit, no childish goading. I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all, but…I don’t know why.

“Everett, how long have you been awake?” I take my time approaching him, as I do I see an empty glass tumbler in his hand and an almost empty carafe of amber liquid on the floor beside his foot. “Everett, are you alright?” I’ve never seen him drunk so I don’t know what to expect.

He’s related to you…use caution.

Are you really giving me pointers on how to approach a drunk man? Gimme a fucking break.

Ok. When he knocks you on your ass, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

His voice, devoid of feeling, snatches me out of my inner bickering. “What the fuck are you doing out here Grey? Go back to Anastasia and get your beauty rest.” The words are him, but his snide remark sounds bitter, cold even. I know aloof. I invented the word, but this is more than standoffish or even unapproachable. This is seclusion.

“Everett, what’s going on? I thought you had calls to make. Now’s the perfect time to call back to…” I don’t get to finish my sentence.

Everett spins around to face me, nose to nose. Using an insidious whisper he says, “What the fuck are you doing out here? Go the fuck away and leave me the Hell alone. I’m not invading your precious privacy so until I can get back to the comfort and confines of my own haven, leave. Me. The fuck. Alone.” Using military precision, he does an about-face back to the window.

I step away from my usual and customary reaction, I keep my voice even and my fists to myself. If he’s anything like me, a touch will only ignite the booze surging through his veins. As much as I haven’t admitted it yet, personal experience reminds me I use this behavior when I’m trying to pick a fight. Well, dear Cousin, I’m not going to give you the fucking satisfaction, although I refuse to take down to him either. “Everett, save the intimidation shit for the boardroom. You’re not the head of a fucking thing in Seattle and especially not in my penthouse.”

I see the fist of his free hand open and close a couple times, he takes a deep breath and growls as he releases it before looking over his shoulder at me. This time, and I want to laugh at the attempted fearsome expression on his face and the gleam in his eyes. Man, I’ve held onto that look everyday for the past twenty some odd years, before I met my Ana. Mine’s a bit scarier than his though, I have to admit.

If that’s all you’ve got Brown, you better take it back to the drawing board. I almost laugh out loud then, I see the cause of his expression. The cause of the gleam. A single tear seeps from the corner of his eye and slowly wanders down his cheek.

I stifle my gasp and lower my voice, “Everett, what the fuck is wrong? Don’t make me call Emmett. You know he’ll shit a cinderblock if I do.” He returns his gaze to the window and shakes his head, refusing to address the issue, whatever it is. I rush though scenarios in my mind, trying to ascertain what could bring this type of reaction out of him. I know he spoke with Emmett. Is Ella alright? Edward? Hell are “The Bookends” safe?

Before I can speak again, he shocks me when he says, just above a whisper, “I’ll kill that bitch if she comes near my son again. I told Emmett I wouldn’t do anything I would regret while I’m here…and I won’t. Regret it. Christopher’s mother is a fucking , money-grubbing leach. A big enough check and she’ll sign Christopher’s soul to the Devil. I’m sure my lawyers can pay her to give me back my son.”

Facing me one last time Everett snarls, “However, as for that BITCH acquaintance of yours and my son’s…I have an entirely different program in mind. This shit. Stops. Now. Emmett couldn’t protect Aunt Ellie or you. I can. I will protect my son…and my Cousin. Like it or not” then he breezes past me out of the Great Room.

I can’t begin to fathom his anger or his pain. His son has been molested and the woman who was supposed to protect him was too busy thinking of herself. Taking his money and doing God only know what with it and her time. While the scenario is in no way the same, the emotion it invokes seems nostalgic. Somehow, I wonder if this is how Emmett felt about his baby sister. And her son.


“Baby. Ana. Come on Sweetheart wake up.” I kiss her cheek and whisper softly in her ear. Ana isn’t a morning person I know and jet lag has got to be hitting her hard after staying up so long yesterday, but I don’t want her to wake up alone. We each hate waking up without the other beside us. It makes for a shitty day. “Ana…” I whisper again and kiss the corner of her mouth.

“Mmm”, she groans, “five more minutes Christian. Please,” she whines before burrowing further down into her pillow. I’ve got her five more minutes alright.

After I came back to bed this morning, I pulled her close to me and watched her sleep as the sun rose. Even though I’m not a religious man, I’m not conceited enough to ignore the fact of a divine being. I thanked God over and over again for bringing Anastasia into my life and for giving her the strength to show me the way out of Elena’s darkness.

The heart I never believed I owned goes out to Everett and his son. I couldn’t get the scene from earlier out of my mind. It solidified my decision to go spend time with my mom. I just wish I could take Ana with me. She’s been getting left out of a lot of family conversations lately. I’ll make it up to her when we get back to Townsville.

“Come on Baby.” I kiss her behind her ear and nuzzle her neck. She wiggles her ass against my cock and purrs. My breath catches and I gasp. “Anastasia, I’m going to Mom’s for breakfast, remember?”

“Mmm” is all she says. I pull her to me, my hands instinctively cupping her beautiful full breasts. I gently massage the soft, supple flesh as I try to rouse her again. I’m rewarded with the feeling of her nipples hardening against my palms. I give each of the ladies a quick pinch then slide one hand from her breast over her stomach, around to her hip, down her thigh all the way to her knee, which I push forward with my own giving me free access to tickle her succulent dripping folds. She unconsciously contracts and relaxes her vaginal muscles around my fingers and she purrs again. “Mmm. Feels sooo good.” FUCK ANA!

My Morning Woody is wide awake and in need. I pull Ana even tighter against my chest and slowly, softly re-trace the path of my fingers, with the head of my cock, up one side, down the other then through the middle. I rub and caress myself against her, hearing the sweet, moist kisses her pussy gives the head of my cock.

Finally, I can’t take it anymore. I have to be inside of her. “Baby, are you awake yet?” I’ll give her the best “wake-up call” there is if she’s not. This’ll make the need for an alarm clock null and void.

She groans again and I think it’s because of our ‘kiss’ until she repeats her prior request, “Five more minutes Christian. Please.” I chuckle to myself then lick the shell of her ear.

I lower my voice and in the faintest whisper I tell her, “Sleep as long as you like Baby, but I’m gonna fuck you in and out of your dreams.” She nods her head and takes a deep breath. She’s not asleep. This makes for an interesting playtime though.

No doubt.

Gently, I slide my pulsating cock halfway into her savory cunt. She moans again and grinds her ass against me. “Shhh Anastasia. Sleep Baby, if you can.” I suck her earlobe and pull back out of her only to slide my thick, heavy cock all the way inside my favorite place in the world.

“I’m awake now” she hisses. “Yessss…”

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 26 I Want My Son

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 26 | I Want My Son

GREY

“I have to tell you, I’m scared now.  The look on your faces has me on high alert.  Do I need to go get my boy? I’m a pro at enduring jet lag so if I need to leave right this second I will.”

“Yes.” I growl the simple one word answer.  He has to understand how serious the situation is.  I haven’t had time to talk to Ana about Elena and the things I learned before leaving Seattle.  We’ve been so caught up in our reconciliation then this family shit was dumped into my lap. I haven’t given the Bitch-Troll a second thought.

What about that phone call?

I’ll get back to that.

I’ll make sure of it.

No doubt.

Right now, how do you tell a man, your new-found, volatile cousin that your former confidante, and pedophile, is now molesting his son?

There’s no easy way. You can either give him the details now then send him off to get his son or you can just stress the need for him to get the kid and deal with the emotional shit later.

I know I don’t want to involve Mom or Dad in this mess.  I’ll have to call my legal team in Seattle.

And Taylor…

And Taylor, then there’s the fact the kid’s father wants to take him out of the country, which is definitely the safest bet.  My head is spinning, I think I’m going to be sick.

I forgot I wasn’t alone all this time, but when I hear, “GREY!” It snaps me out of my tailspin.  “What the fuck is the deal?”  As I start to speak he’s dialing on his Silent Circle Blackphone, putting his hand up to halt me.

What the fuck? Who the fuck does this prick think he is?

I look at Ana, “Do I do that shit?”  She raises a ‘now you know how it feels’ eyebrow and nods. I turn toward Everett and just stare.  If people think I bark, this fucker woofs.

“This is Brown 3. Get that fucking thing ready for me to leave. YESTERDAY DAMMIT!  When I say it, YOU do it.” Whoever it is had best arrange his transportation toot-sweet.

“Destination, SEA TAC. And I want to land in the fucking front yard, I pay enough for the shit.” Oh fuck, he’s getting outlandish now. “YYYEEESSS,” he hisses loudly, “you need to have the helicopter ready.  How the fuck else do you think I’m going to land in the fucking front yard?” I just shake my head.

There’s a slight pause then he makes a deep growling noise. Suddenly, “I DON’T GIVE A RAT’S ASS ABOUT THE FUCKING POLICE!  I WANT MY SON AND I WANT HIM YESTERDAY!  Get that flying fucker ready for me to get my son.  I’m on my way NOW!  FUCK EDWARD!”

Damn he’s a son of a bitch ain’t he?

“If you fucking defy ME, you’ll lose MORE than your job.  I’LL deal with Edward Brown.  If I have to buy the fucking plane from him to get my way I WILL!”  Then he hangs up.

WOW! I’m mildly impressed.

I know, me too, but I won’t show it.

Everett rubs his forehead so hard there’s a huge, red smudge left in the wake of his hand.  “Everett, I’ll go with you.”  I’ll have to brief him on the way.

“I’m going too.”  Ana jumps from her seat totally ignoring the disapproving look on my face.  She puts her hands on her hips and informs me “I’m going too Christian and that’s final.”  Everett smiles at the two of us.

Once again calm and collected, Everett tries to decline our offer. “There’s no reason to disrupt your lives for a quick trip to Seattle. Security says he’s running errands right now or I’d have them pick him up and hold him until I get there…” the look on my and Ana’s faces cut him off. “He’s in danger isn’t he?”  Ana and I both slowly nod as I spin Everett around and push him out the door.

“You’re in no condition to drive Everett, just get in the Audi and let me know which runway.”  He doesn’t give me any trouble, thank God.  He’s worried about his son and truth be told, so am I.


The flights from TSV to BNE and from LAX to SEA TAC are about two hours each…no big deal.  The time warp is from BNE to LAX, which is about 27 hours, give or take.

Ana tried to stay awake, but she fell asleep on the flight to LAX, which I knew she would.  Once I got her settled in bed, Everett and I went into the same emotionally charged conversation Emmett and I had over my childhood with and without my birth mother.

He was appalled, sorrow-filled and enraged all in one foul swoop. I knew it would be a lot for him to take in all at once and I’m positive he has unanswered questions. He had to know as much as I could tell him ahead of time. I didn’t want him to walk in and be completely blindsided. However, his, like Emmett’s, reaction was likewise a lot for me to take in. When all was said and done, we were descending into LAX.

I contacted Taylor to have the GEH jet ready to take us to LAX and I told him we needed covert surveillance on Elena and Christopher as well as all the other boys Welch tagged her with seeing.  Everett sent Taylor a picture of Christopher. Never loosing his professionalism, the brief pause on the phone alerted me to Taylor’s shock as we went through our final checklist.

We landed in Seattle at about 3AM. It took Sawyer, Taylor and I to persuade Everett not to take his helicopter, also readied at SEA TAC as instructed, and land in his son’s front yard as he had originally intended.  I understood his vehemence, but being arrested would put the kibosh on his soon to be custody battle with Chris’ mother.

I refused to contact Mom and Dad. Anyway, I’m in no mood to field questions I have no intention of answering. We all went to Escala for a sleepless few hours then I’ll force Everett to go to Grey House with me and Reynolds while Taylor and Everett’s security team intercept Christopher somewhere near his school.  Ana will stay at Escala with Gail and Sawyer to rest; plausible deniability.

“I’m not fucking interested in your fucking company Grey!  Now is NOT the time to show off!”

I’m sick of this motherfucker’s bullshit. I’m not his fucking underling and I won’t take-down to him or any-fucking-body else. I’m done being nice to this son of a bitch, “Look, Cousin,” that grabbed his ass, “I’m not interested in showing off.  I don’t have anything to prove to you or anyone else in the business world.  The only person I have to prove myself to is my fiancée and that’s none of your business.”

“Now you’ll bring your raving, fucking belligerent ass to my building and behave like the fucking loud, obnoxious, COO bastard you are or I’ll beat your crazy, arrogant ass like I would my brother’s!”  My fists are balled and little did I know, I’ve moved into Dom mode. His shit-eating grin breaks through my annoyance to makes me smile as well.  I know what he’s going to say before he opens his asinine mouth.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know.”  He raises an ‘oh, you know what I’m thinking, huh?’ eyebrow and interjects anyway.

“Cousin?”

Whatev asshole.


“Christian, Everett I know you’re in a rush, but you have to eat something. Passing out during one of your egocentric adrenaline rushes won’t help anyone’s cause.”  Ana stands in the middle of the kitchen with her hands on her hips, tapping her toe while Everett and I look at each other and smile.

“Bossy lil thing ain’t she.” It’s obviously a statement, not a question as Everett gives his take on the situation at hand.

“I wouldn’t have her any other way.”  I smile and wink at Ana.

“Save it Grey, you too Brown.”  We wince at her use of our surnames.

“Baby, I’m not…”

She holds up her hand, much like Everett did, and finishes my sentence, her own way, “…gonna give me any trouble, exactly, neither of you are.  Now EAT!”  She points to the egg white omelets, bacon, toast, fruit and coffee sitting on the breakfast bar waiting for us.

As is becoming the usual and customary, we look at each other than at Ana and respond in unison, “Ma’am, yes ma’am.”

After breakfast and quick showers we each don our executive attire. I dress in a dark grey Canali, Fine Tonal Stripe suit, crisp white Canali Herringbone dress shirt with my Harrods Of London Mother of Pearl cufflinks, burgundy Harrods Of London Grosgrain silk tie and onyx black Kurt Geiger London, Grant Derby shoes.

Apparently Everett intends to scare the dog shit out of anyone he meets today. While it took a lot of coaxing from Ana, my dear cousin opted to buy a black Paul Smith London, Soho Windowpane Check suit, snow-white Paul Smith London, Contrast Cuff Byard dress shirt with Tateossian, Cabochon Onyx Round cufflinks and polished black Paul Smith, Berty Punched Oxford shoes from the clothier who met us at Escala in the wee hours of the morning. Ana had to fucking humiliate Everett to reconsider the Alexander McQueen, Knotted Skull cufflinks he saw, which was no easy task. All I could do was shake my head.

As we reconvene in the Great Room, Ana surprises us both when she asks, “Ok fellas, will Christopher come directly here or is he going to Grey House once Taylor picks him up?” I don’t want her involved in this mess in any way, shape or fucking form. I didn’t want to bring her with me so how in the Hell does she think I’m going to let her babysit this kid until we get home this afternoon?

NO FUCKING WAY!

Everett and I decided, somewhere during the time warp flight, to keep Christopher with us at Grey House until we finished the workday.  We intend to pick Ana up at Escala then all board the GEH jet to LAX. Our intention is to be between LAX and BNE before Christopher’s mother realizes he’s gone. It should be easy to do since the woman’s background check shows she’s not a suitable guardian for a house pet let alone a child, particularly a teenage boy, so neither of us sees a problem with our plan. The catch being how rested Steven and his co-pilot are. We may have to wait until tomorrow afternoon to leave, since neither of us wants to risk anyone’s life.

I let Everett run through our intentions. I’m very pleased when he stresses to Anastasia that Christopher will come to Grey House. “There’s no reason to burden you with him or any possible fallout accompanying our ‘acquisition reclamation’. Get your rest Love.  Besides, Christian and I need to speak with Christopher about just what the fuck is going on. If things are as bad as they seem, you don’t want to be subject to my histrionics and your fiancé’s ass-whipping as he and his Keystone Cops will, no doubt, attempt to restrain me from leaving his castle and storming to my Kirkwood estate where I’ll deal with Christopher’s mother in my own fashion.”

Ana shakes her head then softly reminds him, “You’ll only make a bad situation worse Everett and you know it. Don’t be foolish. Let security handle this as much as possible. Focus on getting Christopher back here then on to Townsville.” My baby handled the great, big mutherfucker as if he was a fine violin then she gives Everett an encouraging hug before we leave.


The trip to Grey House is silent.  Each of us is lost in his own thoughts.  I feel like an ass for not reporting that bitch years ago and an accomplice for not turning over the evidence we have on all the boys.  Welch assured me we didn’t have enough concrete documentation to convict her.  We also hadn’t worked out how to approach any of the boys, so she was only under covert surveillance.

We enter my building through the underground parking structure. As we exit the vehicle and approach the entrance I vaguely hear someone say, “Stop it Cousin.”  Huh, stop what? Without acknowledging his statement, I give Everett a questioning glance as we continue into the building.

Ignoring the shocked stares, gasps and butterfly fluttering eyelashes, we make our way across the lobby to the express elevator. Apparently my staff are in awe and getting an eye-full of Everett Rockhold-Brown and Christian Trevelyn-Grey together.

Makes you wanna laugh don’t it?

Hardly.

Once the elevator doors close I address Everett’s prior demand, “Stop what?”

As if addressing the elevator doors, his feet shoulder width apart, his hands crossed in front of him, looking military, but still nonchalant, Everett explains, “Emmett gets the same look on his face you had. I know immediately he’s chastising himself about something. It usually concerns you and Aunt Ellie.”

“You’ve explained the fact this disgusting whore is under covert surveillance while you gather evidence. I understand you don’t have enough information to make the authorities take notice and you didn’t want to risk tipping her off by approaching the lads involved with this menace to even the dregs of society. Logically, I understand it all.”

While his gaze remains focused on the polished, reflective, elevator doors , his voice changes, infinitesimally, to that of a disheartened parent lamenting the predicament of his child. “What I don’t understand is how Chris’ mother didn’t know and why she didn’t care where our son spends his time. How could she turn a blind eye to what he’s doing and what’s happening to our flesh and blood.” He shakes his head, as if to ward off a thought or wipe one away. I observe Everett very closely as he speaks about his son and now his son’s mother. If I don’t know anything else, I know people. There’s more than meets the eye with this situation.

I let the subject drop for the time being, but Everett’s not finished, “I don’t understand my son not talking to me.  I know I’m not here every day, but he’s talked to me about a lot of rabbit-ass crazy, kid stuff.  Why not bring this to me?”  He utters the last sentence so softly I almost missed it. He sounds defeated and the closer I watch him I can see he looks distraught.

I wonder if Emmett looked that way about his sister…and you?

It’s my turn to wipe away an errant thought, “I don’t know your relationship with your son Everett, but regardless, this isn’t something you run home to tell your folks. Believe me, I know.” He nods, recalling our conversation on the flight. “We’ll get him back, sit him down and talk to him about what he’s been through then see if he can tell Taylor and Welch how to contact the other boys. Once Taylor and Welch have the information they need, you, Christopher, Ana and I can go back to Townsville.  It’ll work out. It just won’t be pleasant.” I place a hand on his shoulder and he nods again, restrained and solemn. I’ve not seen this side of The Great Everett Rockhold-Brown. I don’t like what I’m seeing, although I can’t determine why.

Not now. We’ll toss it around later.

You’re right, there’s too much to do at the moment.

The elevator doors slide open to my direct reports standing in the foyer. Everyone at attention.  Andrea doesn’t miss a beat, “Good morning Mr. Grey, Mr Brown.

Mr Grey, I moved your morning meeting to tomorrow as you requested.  You have a 1:30 PM call with Taiwan and a 2 PM call with Mr. Welch.  The remaining End of the Year Reports are on your desk.  Would you like to schedule the Executive meeting for some time during your stay or will you be returning to Seattle at a later date?”

Everett looks at me and smirks.  Ok, ok, so I fired off some emails this morning about business.  Kill two birds you know.  I narrow my eyes at him as I say, “What?”

He narrows his right back at me and retorts, “Watch it!”  Our spectators grimace at the exchange, but neither of us take notice of them.

Fuck you Brown. I’m in charge here.

“My office is this way, unless,” I turn to look at Andrea over my shoulder, “Ms Bailey managed to commandeer it.”

“No sir, it’s still your office.”  She says proudly.  I wonder what kind of discussions they’ve had over my office.

“Thank you Andrea, that’ll be all for now.”  Andrea nods and goes back to her spot at the Reception Desk.  All this time people are looking at Everett and me like we’re lab rats on display.

After closing my office door Everett asks, “Do you deal with that eyelash batting bullshit all the time?” as he flops into the chair in front of my desk.

I turn on my computer, preparing for my day as I tell him, “You’d be surprised. I see them, but I don’t see them.” Turning to face him, I point out the obvious, “I only have eyes for my Ana.”

“No fucking wonder you like Townsville.  I mean, the office building is nice and all, but those women are a fucking nuisance.  How do they keep their jobs? Emmett and Edward would send them off to the gallows at first glance.”

Everett pulls out his phone, preparing for his business day, no doubt. “Those bitches are right up Eran and Emerson’s alley though.  I can let you borrow ‘The Bookends’ if you ever want to clean house.” He says with a huge smile.

I laugh only because I know he’s 100 percent serious.

Hmm, Ana wouldn’t mind that at all.

I know.

“I may take you up on that Everett.  I’ll let you know.”

“No problem Cousin” I shake my head and proceed to work.

Everett tends to EB business from his customized Silent Circle Blackphone with a converted and secured iOS, as opposed to the customary Android OS. He waits for a call from his son on his iPhone.  Apparently family and Christopher’s school administrators have his International iPhone number. Everyone else, including his son’s mother, contacts him on his Silent Suite secure line, which gives him the ability to record calls. Seems precise documentation is needed when it comes to Ms Yvonne Brenda Pope. He figures the kid’ll call once my security team approaches him.

I agree to let Everett sit in during my business call to Taiwan. The mutherfucker makes more noise about incompetence than I ever dreamed possible.

I already knew the P/L Report lacked information from the last two days. I planned to address the faux pas. However, when the Execs tried to give some weak-ass explanation about ‘the report being prepared a week in advance’, Everett beat me to the punch, which is rare, if not impossible. My dear cousin pointed out to the newly acquired Taiwanese executives they were full of shit. He proved himself by directing their attention to the document’s property information, which clearly stated the file was updated last night. He also reamed them for trying to take advantage of the time difference as an excuse for submitting the original report to me after its deadline.

Everett went on to remind them we each could read and make decisions regarding a P/L based on the first few lines, basically calling out their figures as elementary and riddled with mistakes, making the entire report null and void. Everett’s tirade went on to chastise my employees for what he unaffectionately referred to as ‘fucking kiss-ass fluffy shit’ in an attempt to draw attention away from their overall dismal performance. I almost lost it. I had to put the call on mute so many times it was ridiculous. It was comical.

They all but forgot I was involved once Everett started speaking, so I was able to take Taylor’s call and let Everett vent for a while.  It seemed to be a welcome distraction for him. “Taylor, give me an update.”

“We have the boy and we’re on our way to Grey House.”  Fine with me, but his ole man is gonna have a coronary. Reading my mind as he always does Taylor added, ”He didn’t have his phone with him. It’s the reason he didn’t call Mr. Brown.  We did a search of him and his belongings, much to his dismay, and verified he didn’t have the phone.” I see, Elena wants this one all to herself.

What’s so special about this kid?

Snapping my out of my pondering, I hear Taylor’s distress, “Sir, there was a tracking device found on young Mr Brown. We found it in the…the…um…” I know what he’s trying not to say.

“Let me help you Taylor.  There’s a tracking device in his collar?”  Taylor quietly, almost silently, releases his breath.  In his professionalism Taylor forgets who he’s talking to and what he’s talking about, which I can and do appreciate…greatly. “I understand Taylor.  I’ll let his father know you’re en route.  What’s your ETA?”

“Yes sir, we’ll be there in 15.”  With the way Everett is ranting and raving on the phone, that’s not enough time to explain why his son didn’t call and what Taylor found on the kid in private.  I’ll get a feel for the boy. Depending on how defensive he is, I’ll ease the information out of him in front of Everett. I basically prepped Everett on the trip over. I told him a lot, but that’s never going to be enough. This topic isn’t a casual conversation for those unfamiliar with the lifestyle.

“Thanks Taylor.”

When I re-engage in the thrashing Everett Brown, COO of EB, Pty is giving Soon Liu, the Executive Director of my new Taiwanese shipyard, I have to stop Everett from going through the fucking phone.  The nutty bastard even promised to stop off in Taiwan on the return trip just to kick someone’s fucking ass.

DAMN!  He’s worse than me. You can’t tell me I’m anywhere near that bad.

Hmm, you have your moments Grey.

Whatev.

“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” I shout. “Thank you for the enlightening information Mr. Brown.  Mr. Liu, please review the documents you provided, make the necessary changes then resend the report to me. Andrea will reschedule this meeting.  You and your team have two days Mr. Liu”. I say, trying to prevent a fucking walkout in my new acquisition.

“MAKE THAT 36 HOURS YOU INCOMPETENT ASS!”  I throw Everett a censoring glare, which goes completely unacknowledged.

“Um…Mr. Brown, we need to…”

This isn’t Everett’s show. He can save his fucking, crazy-ass bullshit for his own boardroom. Once again, Dom Grey steps into view, “As I stated Mr. Liu, make the updates and Andrea will contact you in two American business days.  Do you have any questions?”

“No Mr. Grey.  Thank you.  Goodbye” and the fucker hangs up on me.

“Père céleste me donner de la force” [1]

“Our Father in Heaven has nothing to do with their incompetence, Cousin.”

“Unless you can run a shipyard, stop berating my staff.”

“I can do better than those assholes with my dick in my hand.”  He mumbles.

“Tais-toi Cousin” that made him smile, anything to make the guy feel better. [2]

Face it Grey, it’s kind of nice having family around, ain’t it? Even if it is crazy-ass family.

I have a family.

Not like this one.

That’s for damn sure.

Thankfully, the intercom goes off, Andrea to the rescue, “Mr Grey, Mr. Welch is on line three and Mr. Taylor and young Mr. Brown are here in the reception area.”

“Tell Taylor to take young Mr. Brown to the Executive Boardroom then come back to my office. The senior Mr. Brown will tend to his son shortly.”

“Yes sir” she says.

I look over to see glistening, deep, blue eyes. It’s clear Everett wants to bolt from his seat. I soften my voice, simply because I can see the yearning and terror on his face, “Go to your son Everett.  I’ll let you know what I find out.” I don’t have to tell him twice, immediately he’s up and at Andrea’s desk.

Andrea sends Olivia to show Everett to the boardroom. I know this is a mistake, so I stand at my office door, which is uncommon for me, waiting for the show. Andrea sits up in her chair preparing to speak, I presume to see if something’s wrong. With my index finger to my lips, I shake my head to shush her the I mouth, “Wait.” Three, tw…

As they walk away I hear Everett bark, “If you’re gonna bat your fucking eyelashes at people use less mascara.  The shit makes your lashes look like fucking, creepy-ass tarantula legs.”

The laughter escapes my chest, “Shut up Cousin” I call after them.

Without missing a beat or turning around Everett shouts, “Retour à tu Cousin” [3] and laughs as they continue down the corridor.

I turn my attention to my stunned Personal Assistant and Head of Personal Security, “Come in Taylor.” Let’s get this shit over and done.


While Everett gets reacquainted with Christopher, Taylor and I hold a debriefing with Welch.  Basically there’s no more information than before I left the United States.

“Mr. Grey, if you can get young Mr. Brown to tell you anything it may help, but there’s no guarantee.  Taylor, you said the kid had a tracking device on him?”

“Yeah, it was in his…collar.”  Taylor best lose his inhibition. I guarantee this situation is going to get worse before it gets better.

“Ok Welch.  Maintain surveillance and we’ll get back to you with whatever Christopher does or even doesn’t say.”

“Yes Sir” he says and I end the call. I take a deep cleansing breath as I run my fingers through my hair. There’s got to be a way to tag this bitch. She has to fuck up somehow and this kid knows how.

Tracking device in the collar huh?  Why’s she got the kid on such a short leash?  Pun intended.

It’s my question as well.  Perhaps he knows a lot or even too much. At the risk of being arrogant…

Never stopped you before.

Fuck you.

No thank you. Now get to the point.  At the risk of being yourself, what?

I need information, I need it now and that kid is the lynch-pen in her whole monkey-works. “Taylor, let’s meet with Everett and his son.”

“Yes sir.”

Taylor and I get to the boardroom door in the nick of time.  Everett is more than berating his son. His shouts can be heard in the hall. Luckily, you can’t discern exactly what he’s saying.

If that bastard causes this to get out, I’ll beat his ass on the return trip then hide the body until Taylor can get rid of it for me.

My sideways glance at Taylor reminds me just how well he knows me. Taylor simply shakes his head, telling me to reconsider my plan. To drive his point home he speaks, “No way. Ana will have *both* our asses.” It’s enough to redirect my thoughts.

“Then the soundproofing on that room has to be improved.”

I know he’s relieved with my decision when I hear, “Yes sir.”

I open the closed boardroom door to a roaring Everett and shut the damn thing as fast as I can. “DAMMIT CHRISTOPHER!  What the fuck is going on! You can tell me when your mother gives you shit, school gives you shit, Hell, when the fucking silly-ass kids in the neighborhood and at school get on your fucking nerves, whatever that means to a teenager. But some OLD-ASS BATTLELAX wants to BEAT and FUCK you and you’re quiet as a fucking church mouse on Easter Sunday!  WHAT THE FUCK!? And don’t give me any shit about ‘you just wouldn’t understand Dad’ because that shit won’t work.  Now SPILL!”

I wave Taylor off through the floor to ceiling glass wall of the boardroom. He, ever so appreciatively, returns to his office while I see about my…family. What a fucking way to meet, ‘Hi Christopher, I’m your long-lost cousin who used to be molested by your now pedophile Domme.’

I look to the Heavens for help.  Dieu du Ciel, give me the strength to have this conversation. I lower the privacy screen on the boardroom walls then turn around to face the duo. Thankfully, Everett’s huge back has completely blocked the scene from passersby. [4]

I walk around the left side of the conference table and stop cold, ”Oh mon Dieu. C’est moi.”  My eyes have to be as big as saucers. [5]

The look on his face and snide tone in his voice say it all, “Bonjour Cousin, good to finally meet you.” [6]

He’s me…all over…my hair, my eyes, even the shitty scowl on his face.  It all screams Christian Grey. Still staring at my reflection I say, “Everett, your picture didn’t do him justice.”

An irritated Everett flippantly remarks, “What do you mean?”  Everett either can’t see it or he doesn’t understand the ramifications. Since he doesn’t know Elena, it’s the later of the two.

“I mean he looks more like me than either Emmett or Edward do.”  Everett squints his eyes then tilts his head from side to side.

“I guess, but that’s just you copper-headed pretty boys with those funny color eyes.  It’s no big deal to me, remember.”

“No, but it’s a big deal to her.  Ain’t it Kid?”  Christopher stares at me, like this is some kind of competition.

Oh yeah, he’s a special one.

“What does she call you Kid?”  A look of surprise sparks in his eyes, but he recovers quickly.

I guess he thinks he’s gonna shock someone because he gets a shit-eating grin on his face before proudly uttering, “Second.”

As sad as it is I still laugh, out loud.  My chuckle takes the grin right off his face.  “Really?  Second?  And you’re proud of that?”

I take it, from the now sour look on his face, he didn’t appreciate my making fun of his pet name.  Everett, looking very confused narrows his eyes at me and asks, “Just what the fuck is so fucking funny Grey?”

Unfazed by his expression or tone, I wipe the laugh-induced tears from my eyes and explain, “Everett, Cousin, the Bitch-Troll, as Anastasia so unaffectionately refers to her, gives her submissive pets names.  I was simply, Pet.  I’m laughing because, sadly, it appears Christopher is pleased with his name.  He fails to realize, one, having a pet name is degrading and two, his name implies he is second…to her favorite.” I narrow my eyes at my reflection.

Obviously displeased with my reaction, Christopher asks his father “Dad, are we staying here or are you gonna take me home?  I’ve got fencing practice in a few…”

“YOU’VE GOT NOTHING BUT TIME DAMMIT!”  Everett really needs to get control of himself. I guarantee this shit is going to get more emotional before it’s over.

“Everett, Taylor will take you and Christopher back to Escala?  Rest up and have something to eat.  I’ll let Ana and Gail know to expect you both. I’ll be there in a few hours.  I’ve got some more calls to make.” Everett nods his consent and I simply ignore the nasty look from his son.

That kid needs his ass kicked.

My sentiments exactly.


Buzz…Bu…

“Christian!  How did everything go?  Did you get Christopher?  Are you coming home?”

Even barraging me with questions, it’s absolutely wonderful to hear Ana’s voice and know she’s mine.  I immediately recall how I felt the last time I spoke to Ana while sitting in this chair, “Hey Baby, everything’s fine.  Taylor got Christopher.  I’m sending Everett and his son back to Escala right now.  I’ll be there in a few hours.  There are some calls I need to make.”

The line is quite for a moment.  I can feel the tension building when she quietly asks me, “Who do you have to call Christian?”  Ana’s not going to like this, but I have to do it.  Elena trusts me and knowing how fond she is of her Second, now I have some leverage.

I take a deep breath and sigh, “I need to call Elena, Baby.  I have to…” I knew she wouldn’t let me finish.  I barely got the phone away from my ear fast enough.  I’m glad as fuck I didn’t put her on speaker, not that there was a need.  They can hear her in Townsville.

“YOU’RE GONNA CALL THAT BITCH?!  Over YOUR dead body GREY.  Now you listen to me and you listen good, I don’t question you or tell you what to do, until now.  Christian Trevelyn-Grey, if you call that whore I’ll stay in Seattle.  You can go back to Townsville…alone.”

What the fu…I didn’t get to finish my thought.

“It’s up to you Grey, but if Everett and Christopher walk through that door and you’re not with them, don’t bother calling, texting, sending Sawyer, Taylor or anyone else to look for me.  You won’t fucking find me, I’m sure Kate will see to it”  then she slammed the phone in my ear.

FUCK!  The sound of the dial tone reminds me there’s no need to hit the End button.  Tossing the phone across my desk, I run my fingers through my hair.

When I look up, I see Everett in my office, leaning against the closed door, arms folded across his chest, a ‘she told you’ smile on his face, waiting for me.  As engrossed as I was in having my ass handed to me, it’s no wonder I didn’t hear him come in.  “Come on Cousin.  I need to cool down and you need to get home before I have to keep your fiancée from beating your ass.”

I guess my expression was less than receptive to his suggestion.  “You can narrow your funny-color eyes and tune up your pretty face all you want.  There’s no fucking way in Hell I’m going to let you save my son and ruin your future.  Besides Grandmom would fucking haunt us both.”

“Everett, I have calls…”  He cuts me off, finishing my sentence his own way.

“…that you can easily make from that lavish penthouse of yours.  Wait.  We need a solid game plan before you make contact with this…Bitch-Troll anyway.  It may mean another trip to Seattle, but if you don’t mind dealing with this, I don’t mind giving your Executives Hell while we sort out that pedophile.”  He looks gleeful at the thought of harassing my employees.

You know he’s right.  You need a strategy and you need Steele.  Get your sorry ass up and go back to Escala before you fucking regret it.

I get up and tell him, “Let’s go…Cousin” and we’re out the door.


“Nice digs Cousin.”  Christopher strolls into the foyer of my penthouse ahead of Everett and me like he owns the place.

SWAT!

“Hey Grey, what the…” the boy spins around expecting to see me behind him, after his father gives him a good, hard smack to the back of the head.

In a low, menacing tone Everett declares, “That female you’ve lived with all these years may not have introduced you to the concepts of etiquette and decorum, but times…they are a changing my boy.  You will behave with a lot of dignity or I will kick the shit out of you…a lot.  You are Christopher Ellis Brown and you will live up to the name.  Get it?”

Maybe Grace should’ve let Carrick light into you on occasion.

The world, will never know my friend.

Rubbing the back of his head and looking down at the floor, obviously chastened, Christopher mumbles, “Got it.”

“Good,” the conversation forgotten as Everett turns to me and asks, “Now, what are we having for dinner Cousin?”

I move ahead of Everett and Christopher and smile when, out of the corner of my eye, I see the boy still rubbing the back of his head.

Shut you the fuck up didn’t he.

We walk into the Great Room as I call out, “Honey, we’re home.”

“CHRISTIAN!”  Ana yells as she comes barreling through the Great Room and leaps into my arms.  She wraps her arms around my neck and her legs around my waist so tight, I don’t know if I want to fuck her or gasp for breath.  After a strong, but all too brief, kiss on the lips she pulls back and looks me in the eyes as she whispers, “Thank God.  Townsville is really too lovely a place to leave.”

“And here I thought it was me.”  I pout.

“Your smiling face, twinkling eyes and close proximity are also appealing factors Mr Grey.” She kisses me on the lips again then jumps down out of my arms to greet our guests.

“Hello Everett, I’m sure I have you to thank for bringing him home safe and sound” Ana gives Everett a hug.

Looking at the sullen teen standing beside his father, first Ana gasps then she says, almost in awe, “You must be Christopher.”

Christopher has that mischievous look in his eyes again as he smiles and offers his hand to shake with Ana, “Guilty as charged.”

SWAT!

Everett nailed him again.  No words are spoken this time, just a menacing glare from father to son does the trick.  The boy contritely changes his tune to correct himself, “Yes Anastasia, I’m Christopher.  It’s wonderful to meet you.”

Ignoring the parental exchange, my Baby greets the kid warmly, “It’s wonderful to meet you as well Christopher.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about you.  It seems your dad tries to keep you busy, even from overseas.”

Christopher gives her a knowing glance and nods his head, “He says it’s to keep me out of trouble.” then with a bit a sadness in his voice he mumbles, “I only wish it worked.”

Everett puts his arm around his son’s shoulders, in a silent promise to the boy that it’ll be alright once Christopher gets to Townsville.  At this point, my wheels are spinning as I try to figure out how to resolve this once and for all.

Everett ruffles his son’s hair then goes to one of the guest rooms to change into some comfortable clothes and Ana returns to the kitchen to check on dinner, leaving Christopher and I alone.

I find my way to the sofa, nose stuck in my BlackBerry.  It’s almost like old times until I’m reminded otherwise, “So, what was it like for you?”  The kid catches me off guard.  My finger stops mid-scroll through the emails I’m reading on my BlackBerry.

I shake my head.  Surely I heard him wrong.  Did he just question my relationship with Elena?  “Excuse me.”

He smiles like he’s got me between a rock and a hard place.  “You heard me.” He has the nerve to snap.  “What was it like for you, Pet?”  I guess he’s trying to impersonate his father by crossing his arms over his chest and raising he voice.  I’m sure he’s seen it work a number of times.

Not here sonny-boy.

This isn’t a fucking game Kid.  My time with Elena was nothing to brag about and I’ll be damned if I do the cock-strut with this little fucker.  “Christopher…” he cuts me off, just like his old-man.

“Second.”  He says with an impish grin.

“What!?”  I whisper in shock.

“I’m called Second.”

“And you’re proud of that…why?  You understand you’re Second to her favorite Pet, right?”  He furrows his brow and nods his head.

“And do you know who her favorite Pet was?”  I’m sure to reiterate the name Elena used to refer to me by, as much as possible.  His expression darkens and his eyes turn the color of storm-clouds as I watch him fight to maintain control.  I take it he’s had this conversation with his Mistress, possibly more than once.

“I know of him.” The boy finally growls.  “He can’t be all that if she let him go.” he says trying to mask his the disappointment at not being all that himself.

I shake my head and try to remember how I felt at his age, but the Dom in me will not be disrespected.  No matter what.  I bend over and get in his face, nose to nose.  The kid is tall, but he hasn’t caught up with me yet.  “He aged out, became her Dom then cut her loose.”  His eyes widen and I slowly nod my head to emphasize my point.  “Remember thatSecond.”  I snarl.


Airport Abbreviations

TSV | Townsville Airport
BNE | Brisbane International Airport
LAX | Los Angeles International Airport
SEA TAC | Seattle Tacoma International Airport

GREY

[1] Père céleste me donner de la force. | Father in Heaven give me strength.
[2] Tais-toi Cousin. | Shut up Cousin.
[4] Dieu du Ciel | God in Heaven
[5] Oh mon Dieu, c’est moi. | Oh my God, It’s me.

EVERETT

[3] Retour à tu Cousin. | Back at you Cousin.

CHRISTOPHER

[6] Bonjour Cousin. | Hello Cousin.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 25 Relatives

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 25 | Relatives

EVERETT

In the comfort of the TV room, with a tumbler of 12-year-old Johnnie Walker Black Label Deluxe Blend in my hand, I feel better. “Thank you Christian.”

“Certainly Everett.” He has a deep, pensive frown on his face.

“What’s wrong Christian?” I’ll let him take the lead here.

Quietly he asks, “What happened to Emmett while he was in jail?” Hmm…he starts with my father. Ok. I take it Dad breezed past that part. None of this is fun, but *that* subject is particularly painful.

“By his accounts, he spent the time fighting.”  Christian’s frown deepens.  “Face it, Christian, Dad’s a good-looking guy and twenty some odd years ago he looked even better.  A good-looking guy, obviously far from home, in jail would have some difficulties.”  I raise my eyebrow as I stress the word difficulties.

“He never told me exactly what did or didn’t happen to him. He only said he had to fight and keep his back against the wall. When he finally came home to us, he was a totally different man.” I can see him in my mind’s eye, thin, tired and terribly, terribly depressed.

“Dad…Hell, all of us, is demonstrative. We use our hands a lot when we speak, we pat each other on the back, shoulder, we punch and tackle, in and out of fun. Dad was the first one to hug you when you came in the door, pat your back in congratulations or pick you up by the back of the neck to get your attention.”

“After being in the States, he wouldn’t let any of us touch him, at all, not even by accident, without going batshit and lashing out at us. He went to several shrinks, but none of them seemed to help him. They diagnosed him with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as if it took a degree to put a label on his actions then they left him to his fate.”

“It was Ellie who brought him out of it.” I smile to myself remembering her blatant dismissal of Dad’s attempts to keep his distance from her. “She would simply remind him that he hadn’t hugged her on any given day or climb up in his lap for no reason, other than it was what she wanted to do. She was the first person to get close to him.”

“Nothing has stopped his nightmares.” Grey raises an eyebrow, a silent request for more information. “The things the later learned that happened here, while he was in the US, and the things he went through personally, while in the States, converge on him, even now…when he’s asleep. It usually happens when he’s stressed or even angry. I believe he was a little of both after the “Family Feud” the other evening.” I shake my head knowing the part I played in the may-lay then I sigh heavily and continued.

“Ellie was born while Dad was away. Edward had the nerve to question her paternity, which pissed me off. Granted Dad travelled, but it’s not like it takes a million tries to get pregnant. I heard the fights and Dad explained it to me later. As bad as it sounds, Dad is always upfront with me.”

“Mom got sick just before Dad got home. He was actually the one who found her when she passed out, almost minutes before he walked in the door. When he got home from the hospital after Mom’s first night there, he went straight to Ellie’s bedroom and held her for hours.”

“Following Mom’s death, little by little, Dad opened up and told me about searching for you and Aunt Ella, as well as…a little bit about his time in jail. I always thought the stuff you saw on TV was bullshit, but Dad told me how the inmates perceived you dictated how they treated you.”

“My Dad is a quiet storm. He stays to himself and thinks. He ponders a situation and strategizes an approach. Often times, his quietness and patience are taken for weakness and inability, that’s how outsiders perceive him.”

“If Dad’s given too much time to think, he comes up with rather creative measures to approach a situation. He turns those arrangements into business propositions, leading to some particularly nasty take overs.”

“After his experiences in the United States those scenarios became especially cunning. Talking with Ellie and I enabled him to hone them to the situation as it presented itself.” I shake my head at how clever my ole man can be. “He’s calmed down a great deal over the years.”

Christian frowns when he says, “He doesn’t seem like the calculating type.”

“No, he doesn’t. People believe my father is weak-willed, soft…nothing. Businessmen think Edward and I are reckoning forces, which is a joke. I yell, curse and have temper tantrums. I can also create and execute a business model better than anyone, but to systematically choreograph and bring to a complete end another company, no matter its size…that, dear boy…is my Dad.” I say proudly.

“Edward isn’t even that good. He rules from afar, anymore. In his heyday, Edward was suave, sly and serial in his approach to business. He can still manipulate those who are foolish enough to try to engage him.” I reminisce about the fools Edward has left with nothing. Poor fuckers were luck to walk away with their manhood sometimes.

“Ellie thinks Dad learned his strategizing while he was in the military. He learned a lot of things there, but his more abrasive lessons were received during his residency in the Wayne County Correctional Facility.”

I take a long sip of my scotch. The smooth amber liquid helps wash down the emotions that bubble up whenever I consider all my father has endured. He’s the strongest man I know.

“Everett.” The tone in his voice brings me back to him. I look into those grey, sorrow-filled eyes. “Tell me about my mother, please.” He wants to know. Merci Dieu.

My voice shakes a bit as I begin. “Well, aside from those weird color eyes of yours, she looked just like you. I mean you’re her spitting image. You got those eyes from Great-Grandmom, Edward’s mother, I don’t know if Dad told you that or not.” He shakes his head.

“Aunt Ellie looked like her, thus you look like the two of them. No one knows where the blue eyes in our family came from. Edward always blames my mother for those, but he forgets Grandmom, his wife, had blue eyes too. Hers were just light enough that in the right light, they appeared to be grey.”

My physical description of Aunt Ellie matches what Dad told him at the family meeting. Dad is more eloquent than I am. I remember her as Dad described, but my verbal illustration can never hold a candle to his.

I tell Christian what I remember about Uncle Christian as well. Apparently Dad didn’t discuss him much at all, which is strange. They were pretty tight…still are as a matter of fact.

“Uncle Christian is treetop tall, still. You have his voice, that smooth, suave sound. I bet you can sing your ass off too can’t you?” He just blinks, a bit of a shocked look on his face. “I thought so. Your ole man is a fantastic singer. Dad and Granddad would get sour looks on their faces whenever Ryan even hummed or whistled, let a lone sang, around women.” I smile remembering the catty comments Dad and Edward would make about Ryan’s singing. I love my uncle very much. He’s been my only tie to Aunt Ellie for so long.

“He used to sing you to sleep.” The eyebrow raise causes me to explain. “Uncle Christian, or Ryan, Dad calls most men by their last name, would sing you to sleep.” He gives me a ’Yeah, right, sure he did’ look, but presses on.

“How old is everyone?” He sounds like we’re talking about a science experiment.

“Well, I’m the oldest, I’m 44, I’ll be 45 soon. Eran’s 43, Emerson’s 38 and Ella’s 24.” I smile at his interest.

“What about that Beckett character?” He snarls Liam’s name. Hmm. What doesn’t he like about Liam?

“Liam’s 30. He and Ellie were actually born on the same day, six years apart. Ellie’s had a crush on Liam from the time they were small. She always took the birthday thing as a sign they’d be together forever. Kind of girlie for my liking, but who am I to knock her theory. She tries to come off as gruff and hard nose, which she can be both and much more, but that’s not her natural persona. Ellie is a frilly little girl at heart. She just had the misfortune of growing up with a bunch of men. We kind of discolored her world so to speak. She managed to come into her own once she left for college.”

He frowns some more so I take this time to ask, “Why are you interested in Beckett? He’s no relation to us and he’s basically harmless.” My statement doesn’t seem to assuage his concern.

“He was abrupt with Ella at the Beach Party and I sensed it was because of me.”

“What did he say?” If that fucker hurt my sister I’ll kick his Yale ass all the way to Melbourne and back again.

“It was in Italian. I speak French so I don’t know exactly what he said. It was his demeanor and tone that caught my attention. When Ana and I introduced ourselves you would’ve thought I pissed in his face. Ella seemed heart-broken after he made his statement then stormed away.”

“Do you remember what he said? I understand it’s not your second language, but do you remember any of it?” Please let him remember this shit. I’ll break Beckett’s neck.

“I remember what he said, I just don’t know what he meant. He said, ‘Parleremo più tardi il mio Amore. Questa conversazione non è finita’ then he stomped off like a little girl. Taken out of context I don’t believe the sentence meant anything, but his behavior angered me. Ella was obviously embarrassed by his performance. She claimed she was alright so I let the whole thing drop, but I’ve been meaning to ask one of you about him.”

“You’re right about the sentence. He said, ‘We’ll talk later my Love. This conversation is not over’ my question is what was the conversation about in the first place. I’ll find out.”

“You’ll let me know won’t you?” Huh, appears Ellie does have a friend.

I wave my hand at him dismissively, “I’ll take care of whatever it may be. No need to concern yourself.” I realize a fraction of a second too late how flippant that sounded.

“Look, you may think I don’t give a fuck about her and that’s my fault because of my behavior, but aside from Anastasia, Ella is my friend. She was the only person who showed me this fucking city and she dealt with my shitty attitude when it came to Anastasia not being here.” There’s no mistaking the strength in his voice or the conviction in his eyes when he talks about Anastasia…and Ella.

“Before this familial funny farm opened, Ella was the only person who cared. She was even gracious enough to steer clear of Ana and I once my fiancée arrived, so don’t treat my concern like it’s some obligatory sentiment. If that bastard means trouble for Ella then I want to know about it.” He seems to have worked himself into a bit of a tizzy.

I slowly raise my hands in surrender, “Down boy, down. Good grief Charlie Brown. I thought Emmett had a short fuse. What the fuck happened to you?” All that just slipped out. FUCK! I’m not trying to piss him off. It’s good to see he gives a fuck about Ella. He looks like he wants to leap out of his seat. He’s even white-knuckling the tumbler of scotch in his hand.

“Look Christian, you can’t blame me for wondering. As shitty as you can behave, it doesn’t make sense for you to get yourself into a huff about a guy you don’t know over a girl who basically lied to you. Don’t get me wrong, your concern is greatly appreciated, but it’s a bit of a surprise.” He sighs. Poor guy, he’s just as confused about this situation as I am.

The look of confusion and…dare I say…pain on his face makes me remember what Grandmom told me.

This is what she was talking about Ev.

“She was right.” I say absent-mindedly.

“She who?” He snaps.

I sound like I’m in awe. “Grandmom, she told me, when you were small, you’d need my help and I should always be there for you.”

“Oh really…” His sarcasm showing through clearly…that’s enough.

“Watch it Cousin, that old woman loved you more than anyone on this planet could ever dream. She always said you were special, but not invincible. I’ll blacken one of those funny-colored eyes for you.” I growl at him. He doesn’t take down though.

“Special? What’s that supposed to mean?” Pompous ass.

“Christian, Grandmom had an innate sense of right and wrong, good and bad. She followed her gut instinct on everything and she was always right. She took care of you from the second Aunt Ellie stepped in the door with her little blue bundle. You were fucking adorable too. Has Dad shown you the pictures?” Christian nods his head, but there’s no emotion. I remember the day Aunt Ellie brought Christian home. It was almost like Christmas. My cousin was home!

“Christian, I’m gonna be honest with you ok?”

“That’s what this is all about isn’t it?” Asshole!

Deep breath Ev. Your here to answer his questions and tell him about the family. He’s one of you, so be prepared for goading, sarcasm and histrionics to a certain degree. It’s all for the greater good. If Emmett can get through this, twice, then…

Emmett is a better man than me. I haven’t worked up to that level of adulthood. I get just as pissed just as quickly as this fucker does. He’s looking at me like I’m some weak-ass executive he’s about to fire. You really want a piece of me Grey? You’ll have to work for it.

“It was just like Dad told you. Aunt Ellie was the princess of our family and you were the crown prince. I had no problem with it. Eran and Emerson have always been in their own world so it didn’t matter to them if you were here or not. By the way, don’t let it bother you, they feel the same way about me. They dote on Ellie though and I can’t blame them, she’s a wonderful little sister so she deserves it.”

You’re off topic Ev.

Oh yeah…um, what was the question again?

He asked ‘Special? What’s that supposed to mean?’ Get with it Everett.

Shut up, I’m busy.

“Grandmom saw something special in you…and me. I guess since we were each the first child…Hell, I don’t know. She would tell me how gifted and handsome you would be. She put emphasis on the pureness she saw in you. She stressed her sentiment that I must protect you in order for your pureness to be preserved. She felt an aura of goodness around you. She told me that one day you would need me and I should recognize the need because you would never ask anyone for help, not out of pride, it just isn’t in your nature. You don’t ask for help.”

“She said you were an old soul and would be very self-sufficient. She said you needed that to stay strong. She insisted you wouldn’t want to bother to anyone and you would always feel as though you could take on the world…alone.” He’s hanging on my every word.

“She would hold you for hours, Christian. Oftentimes she would cry, but she wouldn’t say why. I believe she missed you even though you were in her arms. She knew we would lose you. She never came out and said it, but if you looked, you could see it in her eyes. She mourned Aunt Ellie and she feared loosing you.” I have to take a deep breath before I can continue. I loved my grandmother deeply and I know it broke her spirit, not just her heart the last time Aunt Ellie left and took Christian with her.

“Grandmom would say things people thought were silly, especially Edward, but when I look back I can see exactly what she was talking about. She said you would struggle and at some point you would fight the world, even us. She told me something else Christian. It was very personal and if you don’t want to talk about it I’ll respect that.” His expression begins to change. He protecting himself, I can tell. Well, he definitely won’t like this.

“Grandmom said there would be people who would take advantage of you. They would cause you to doubt yourself, who you really are deep down. They might even turn you against yourself and it would be hard, but not impossible, to reach you, because you would want to be alone. You know, not ask for help. She didn’t say who would do this to you or how it would happen, she just said it would happen.”

“Was she right Christian? Aside from the customary business rivals, have you been used or manipulated?” He thinks for a long moment and I take another long sip of my drink. When he simply doesn’t respond, I take that as my cue to keep talking.

“Dad already told you about going back and forth to the United States. While he was gone, things here were an absolute shit-storm. Grandmom never forgave Edward for his behavior toward Uncle Christian or toward Dad for supporting Aunt Ellie’s decision to go to Harvard.”

“Grandmom believed if Edward had treated Ryan better then Aunt Ellie wouldn’t have left or at least she would’ve been more comfortable leaving you with us. Grandmom passed away before we received notice that Aunt Ellie’s body was found. My mother died just as Dad returned from the States. They say death comes in threes. It took three women from our home. So, Ellie was the new light in our family”

“Grandmom taught me, as I told Anastasia earlier, a woman’s presence dictates the light in a home. Good, strong women bring a vibrant light and animation with them. Weak women cause the light to haze until they find themselves then the light shines through. Evil women, however, cause light to dim and darken. They give off shades from grey to black and the murkiness of their soul dominates those within its reach.” He has a look of sincere understanding on his face and I know the answer to my prior question.

“What was Edward’s take on all of this? What about your brothers, they must have been hurt by the disappearance of their father, only to have their grandmother and mother taken from them. It must have caused some chaos for them as well.” Apparently he doesn’t know any truly self-absorbed individuals.

Not a bad thing.

“Well, Edward thrives on control. It’s his life’s blood. When Edward isn’t in control of a situation or when he’s wrong, God forbid, Edward lashes out, verbally and physically. He doesn’t fight first, but he will kick ass without taking names. Edward decided to have Dad declared an unfit parent; he took us away from him.” Christian nods he remembers this from Dad’s telling. Edward was trying to bring Dad to heel, but it didn’t work.

“Eran and Emerson don’t understand what happened with Aunt Ellie, Uncle Christian and you. All they know is one day you were all here and the next day you all were gone. They knew everyone was hurting, but rather than inquire about it or investigate it they brushed it off, became apathetic.”

“Like Dad told you, apathy is detrimental to a relationship. That’s what’s happened to them. To keep from thinking about or being involved in a stressful or confusing situation, they belittle it, act as if it’s not worth their time or effort then it doesn’t exist. It’s their defense mechanism.”

He looks at me questioningly. I hold up my hands in surrender again. “It’s true. It’s their way to avoid being hurt. They steer clear of misunderstandings and avert the unknown. When you swim in familiar waters you know how to handle whatever situation might occur, physically and emotionally.”

“They have their uses. The ‘Bookends’, as I call them, are intelligent and knowledgeable about a lot of things and they can work a business deal without batting an eyelash. Stress doesn’t touch them because they don’t acknowledge stressful situations. Just their ‘depth perception’ is limited. They aren’t bad guys, believe it or not, and I have a good time with them, but that’s about the size of it. ”

“I want to apologize for not recognizing you right off. I heard the elusive Christian Grey was as a shrewd businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist. I don’t pay attention to what I unaffectionately call ‘rag magz’ so I had no idea what you looked like. When I got a glance at you the first thing I thought was that looks aren’t everything. Yeah, you looked like Dad and Edward, but that could simply be a coincidence.”

“What changed your mind?” He’s not going to like this either.

“Ellie did one of Dad’s jailhouse moves on you and apparently she drew blood. Our little Marine Biologist had the sample tested and compared with the Genetic Code Dad has on file. Later she told me about the background check too, but that was just a formality for Edward’s sake. She and Dad had conclusive evidence even before going to Edward.”

He’s white as a sheet, poor lad. “You people are…” I have to laugh.

“Ella told you about us didn’t she?” He shakes his head. “Oh come on, she had to tell you what she considers the Family Motto. She loves to freak people out with it.” He looks confused, but that’s just a symptom of information overload. “We really are a sneaky bunch.” He gives me an ‘oh yeah’ expression.

“So Ellie and Dad knew before anyone else. By the time she told me, I had already treated you like shit. I apologize for treating that way. Like you or not, I’ve had better home training than I let on at times. It’s all good in the business world, but not so good otherwise.”

“It’s no problem Everett. Anger is an emotion I understand perfectly and protecting Ella should be her brother’s number one priority. There’s nothing to forgive.”

“Good. Do you have any questions for me Christian? I feel like I’ve said a lot of nothing. I don’t know if I’m helping or just muddying the waters.”

“I’ll admit Everett, things aren’t as clear cut and dry as I would like them to be, but I have a pretty good understanding of what went on. Although we’re not married yet, I know Anastasia is my life. For Emmett to leave his home and family to look for my mother and me is really something. To find out what he lost, his sister, his children, his wife and his freedom for either of us doesn’t go unnoticed either.” I nod my head. At least he recognizes Dad’s sacrifices. It’s a start.

I look him square in the eyes and tell him, “Cousin, when you and Anastasia have children, please be careful what you say, even when you think the kids aren’t paying attention. Kids hear a lot and kids pick up on adult behaviors very well. Keep that in mind.” He looks stunned at me for giving parenting advice. I pray he heeds my suggestion. I’ve witnessed the aftermath far too many times.


We talked for a while, longer than I anticipated actually. I had lunch and dinner with he and Anastasia. It’s magical to see the two of them interact. Dad was absolutely right, she is his shield against the world and she doesn’t even know it. He does and I can tell, he’s not going to let her go…period.

“Thank you both for your hospitality.” I say to Anastasia and my cousin. “You must come to my place for dinner sometime. My son will be here soon and…”

Just as we clasp hands to shake he freezes and says, “Your son?” Oops, didn’t I mention Chris did I?

“Yes…” I say slowly, “my boy. He should be here for holiday. I’m trying to get full custody of him. He’s a good kid, you’d like him.”

I’m a bit puzzled at Christian’s reaction. “Anyway, the two of you should come by my place for dinner whether he’s here or not.” Christian hasn’t said a word and his expression is still one of disbelief.

“What? I’m old enough to have a child. What’s the problem?” I’m no spring chicken even I know that. Guess I’m not the jet-setting playboy he thought I was.

“You never mentioned him, why not?” I didn’t think it mattered actually. This was about Christian, not Christopher.

Guess he’s more into family than you thought.

“You don’t seem the type to discuss children or child rearing so I didn’t bother. Do you have any questions about my boy? I’m not ashamed of him. I’ll answer you.” Christopher has brightened many a day for me. He’s brought Dad and I closer together as well.

Granddad Emmett is a sight to see.

As Christian is still stunned, Anastasia speaks up. She knows when to step in and take point for him. “Tell us about him Everett.”

“His name is Christopher, Christopher Ellis Brown. He’s an only child, the last time I checked at least.” I mumble the last part. “He’s my only child anyway. He’s fifteen, goes to Bellevue High School. He’s on the…”

Out of nowhere Christian bellows, “BELLEVUE HIGH SCHOOL?” I know my eyes are the size of the salad plates. My mouth immediately goes dry. I simply nod.

“As in Bellevue Washington, in the state of Washington? In the United States of America?” Now his eyes are wide.

“Yes.” I manage to rasp out. “Is there something wrong? It’s a good school and a great area to live. Dad’s security is different than Edward’s old fucked up bunch and they…”

He lowers his eyes and puts his hand to his forehead. “Security wouldn’t know about this. FUCK!” Then, all of a sudden, he stops breathing. The sound from his throat is almost a death rattle. “What’s his name?”

“Christopher. Do you know my son Christian?”

Anastasia looks up at him and with worry in her voice she asks, “What is it Christian?”

His mouth presses into a firm, straight line as he looks at Anastasia and utters one word…a name actually. “Elena.”

I look at Anastasia and see the color drain slowly and dramatically from her face. She looks at me with undiluted fear in her eyes. Now I’m pissed. “I would appreciate it if either , or better yet, both of you tell me what the fucking hell is wrong and don’t try to give me any shit about my question or my tone GREY!”

Christian combs his fingers through his hair and asks, “Do you have a picture of your son?”

I reach in my wallet and snatch out his most recent school photo. He’s wearing one of the suits I bought him. I toss it to Grey, “Here…Now what the fuck is this all about?”

“How involved are you in Christopher’s life Everett? How involved is his mother?”

“Well, I, unlike his mother who lives a stone throw from the school, am present for all of my boy’s firsts. I make it to Rugby matches, Fencing matches, even Track meets when he gave that a go.”

“His coaches and teachers know how to contact me directly. I got an American cellular phone service so no one has to worry about country codes and the like. They call me on all issues and I ask for at least 36 hours notice when it comes to conferences or official school business. Since the school publishes its calendar well in advance, it’s not difficult to arrange to be at any and everything. His mother is just a money-grubbing whore who sees my boy as her meal ticket.”

“In Washington State, children have no voice concerning which parent they prefer, that’s one of the reason’s his mother moved him there. I’ve promised Chris I would bring him home with me as soon as I can arrange it.”

“I’ve also told him to be ready for a fight because it won’t be pretty. He claims he understands and will help me any way he can, but I don’t want him involved in my mess. Security is watching him and his mother. They have plenty of dirt on her. I make surprise visits just to keep Chris on his toes. His mother is shoddy and doesn’t know that he skips school or that he only goes so he can participate in the sports matches.”

“He’s working with a community service group as a part-time errand boy for various people in their neighborhood so I’m hoping that will keep him out of trouble. Things were rocky for him when they first moved, but he’s straightening out fairly well. He’s a kid after all and I have to keep in mind how I was at his age.”

Neither Christian nor Anastasia look comforted by my information. “I have to tell you, I’m scared now. The look on your faces has me on high alert. Do I need to go get my boy? I’m a pro at enduring jet lag so if I need to leave right this second I will.”

A tear slips down Anastasia’s cheek and Christian looks at me through narrowed eyes filled with malice. His single word makes my blood run cold, “Yes.”


EVERETT

Merci Dieu| Thank you God.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 24 One Down

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 24 | One Down

GREY

While I wasn’t expecting a call, I really wasn’t expecting this one. “Hey Lil Bro! How’s things Down Under…there?” I shake my head. Forever Elliott.

“Things are good Lelliott.” I love calling him that. I can hear him wince every time. Aside from knocking him on his ass, which I can do and have done, calling him Lelliott is a sure way of bringing him down a notch or two.

“Whatev Chris. Anywho, ‘I just called…to say…I love you…” I didn’t get the phone away from my ear fast enough. I had to hear him murder Stevie Wonder’s song. He sounds like a wolf baying at the Moon.

“DAMMIT LELLIOTT! Stop! You’re ruining a beautiful song and making my ears bleed!” He stops as suddenly as he started and now I get the mock boo hoos.

“WAAAHHH!” Sniffle, sniffle…he goes so far as to blow his fucking nose. REALLY Elliott? He must be in a particularly good mood to go this far. “You…you…you don’t like my…my…singing…WAAAHHH! I’m gonna tell Mom you made me cry Christian!” Sniffle…

Dom-time “Elliott,” I bark, “let it go. It’s obvious you’re either drunk or just got the fuck of your life to put you in this good of a mood. To what do I owe the dishonor of your singing?”

“Well,” he peps right up “actually, I was thinking I could come visit. Mia wants to come with, but I wanna go Babe-Hunting so I told her it would be a guy’s weekend, then she reminded me Ana was there so she told me to ask if she could come too.”

Cher Dieu, NON! There’s no fucking way in Hell they can come visit. I can barely keep my mind straight enough to work, there’s no way I can entertain them and I refuse to put Ana in that position. She’s been my rock through all of this. She has her hands full being my fiancée fuck the Brown Family bullshit. NO! NO FUCKING WAY!

“Elliott, that’s not a good idea, maybe sometime, but not right now.  Ana and I have been dealing with a lot and…”

“Nuff said Lil Bro. I was only half serious anyway. I figured this would be time for you and Ana to get your shit straight.” Whew…Merci Père céleste.

“Thanks Elliott. Really, thanks a lot.” The relief is more than clear, even to my own ears.

I know, he thinks he understands.

“Ok, so no sunny climes. How trix? Ana treating you ok? I’ll come down there and tickle the shit out of her if she’s not” always the ray of light.

“She’s good, better than I deserve really.” I mumble the last part to myself. “We’re getting along. No horrible fights or anything like that. I’ve asked her to marry me…”

“AGAIN? You already asked her dick-head. Are you trying to make guys all over the world look bad or did she give you what for when she got there and you had to ‘beg and plead for her sim-pa-thy…” there go my eardrums again.

“Elliott” he’s still humming “Elliott.” He’s got to be the only person alive who can’t sing Mary Had a Little Lamb.

“ELLIOTT!” Whew! Finally…silence.

“YYYeeesss Lil Bro.” You can hear the smile in his incapable of carrying a tune voice.

“There are laws against caterwauling, being a public nuances as well as disturbing the public you know. And if you check with Dad, I’m sure there’s a law or two about decimating songs. I’m sure The Temptations will be all too willing to swoop in from Motown and beat the shit out of you.”

“What? I like Ain’t Too Proud To Beg. I did a good job with that one…” I shake my head “…didn’t I?” NOPE!

“N…” He cuts me off in his stupid way.

“No doubt? Thanks Bro, I knew you loved my singing.” He gets quiet for a moment. So quiet I’m just about to check he’s still on the line when I hear, “All joking aside Bro, how are you? You sounded real down during that call you had with the family. Mom and Mia said you called for Dad a few days ago, but I was sure that was just an obligatory ‘Get Your Ass Handed To You’ call. I’ve had those before.” I can hear him cringe. We’ve both dealt with Dad’s brand of long distance discipline so I know he understands.

“Yeah, something like that.” I don’t want to lie to him, but I’m not exactly prepared to give him all the gory details yet.

“I figured as much. So…” Here we go, the real reason for his call. Mom and Mia put him up to this, bet. Miss Kavanaugh probably had a hand in it too, due to her concern about Ana. “When are you two lovebirds bringing your asses back here so we can get your marital situation secured? You know, so you can stop living in Sin, Mom’s expression not mine. Mia’s looked at every bridal magazine the state of Washington sells. She’s considering having a few French magazines sent here.”

Oh merde.

“Elliott look…” but he’s quick to cover his tracks.

“Chris, man, if you all want to live together forever it’s fine by me. Your mother and sister have been on me about calling and putting some ‘brotherly pressure’ on you to ‘make an honest woman of Ana’, again, their words not mine.”

“Between you, me and the telephone company, like I was trying to tell you, I asked Ana to marry me right now…right here…in Townsville. She hasn’t given me an answer, but she agreed to start looking into wedding plans.” Again, the line is quiet for a minute, which turns into five then twenty-five. This has touched him somehow. “Elliott, are you still there?”

“Yeah I’m here Christian, just stunned I guess. I mean…I knew you wanted to marry Ana in a rush and we all thought she was pregnant, which she obviously isn’t. I’m wondering why you’re so stuck on Australia? When are you coming home? I mean to stay.” Point blank, not the Elliott Grey I grew up with that’s for sure.

“Mom and Mia miss you two like all Hell, I’m beginning to feel like chopped liver. Dad won’t come out and say it, but I can tell he’s worried about you. I’m at a loss.” He’s on a roll so I just listen. He needs to get this out.

“I mean, I want you and Ana both to be happy. If you tell me your happiness is in Australia then so be it. Just know, folks are falling apart around here Chris.” I sigh. I’d like nothing better than to be able to confide in my brother, but Elliott’s mouth runs faster than Niagara Falls, there’s no capping it.

I have to approach this topic with care. “Elliott, like I told Anastasia and Mom and Mia, I don’t know when or if I want to return to Seattle. I may have to be there for business and I’ll spend time with the family when I’m in town, but to move back…I can’t say when or if that will be.”

Before he can jump in I continue, “I made it clear, Ana isn’t my prisoner. She can come and go as she pleases and I’ve told her exactly that. She and I spoke with Ray and he knows she’s here and that I want to get married now. No offense, his is the only opinion that could affect our marriage, because he means so much to Ana.” Done. My stance is taken and out in the open…sort of.

I wait as Elliott mulls this over. Elliott’s not slow by any means, unless it’s for dramatic effect. He can be mindful of other people’s thoughts and feelings when he wants to, so, when it counts, he chooses his words very carefully before he speaks, unless it’s one of his stupid ass jokes, which materialize out of nowhere.

“Chris, what happened?” His voice has a tone I haven’t ever heard before. He sounds almost, hurt. “I know you keep things from us and since you’re an adult no one ever challenges you. I’m not trying to start an argument, I just want to know what happened to cause you to leave Seattle and not want to come back.” I’m shocked, truly shocked at his no nonsense approach. I’m not mad I just didn’t think he had it in him, at least not toward me.

My silence gives him cause to continue, “I’m thinking back to how things were after you dropped out of Harvard and took off for parts unknown. I told Ana a little about it to try and explain how serious it was for you to simply leave.”

“I know you Christian. You have temper tantrums, but not like this. You get bitchy and tear shit up, but you don’t just leave. What is it? I may surprise you and actually be able to help.” Again, I’m floored. I didn’t believe Elliott paid any more attention to me than a fruit fly. I never believe he noticed me unless I was in trouble or causing trouble because it took the spotlight off of him, for a while.

I clear my throat, stalling for time to settle my mind. I need to be just as thoughtful as he was. “Elliott, thank you for noticing and thank you for asking, but I’m not going to answer and I’m sure you knew that before you asked. I love all of you and I miss you. I’m not trying to hurt anyone, please believe me.” The last thing in the world I want him to take away from this conversation is sorrow.

“I will tell you this Lelliott, I feel stifled in Seattle. I’m ignored here, until I get into a business negotiation or a conference room full of suits, of course. No one and I mean no one here gives a shit who I am, not even to brown-nose me. I’m not trying to be arrogant, Elliott, but do you understand what that means to me?” If that were truly the only reason I came here, it’d be a believable one.

“I have to admit I understand the words you’re saying because I know how people are toward you, but I don’t understand wanting to blend in only because I’m not in your situation. I live a low-key life Bro, even with all the girls I live a low-key lifestyle so, no, I don’t understand where you’re coming from, but yes, I understand what you’re saying.”

“Keep in mind Christian, Mom and Mia don’t care about how many people hound you or how many women fall at your feet, they just want their son and brother back home.” He sighs into the phone sounding defeated.

“I can appreciate that and I’ll see what I can do to lessen their anxiety, but I can’t lie by promising to come back to the US then not show up, they’d hate me for sure.” I won’t string them along.

“So, you’re not gonna tell me what’s going on.” It’s most definitely a statement, not a question.

I shake my head, forgetting he can’t see me. “I can’t Elliott.”

Just like that, good ole Lelliott is gone, “Oh you can, but you won’t because you don’t trust me.” Damn, now he’s offended. I think back, quickly, I don’t think I’ve ever offended Elliott.

Wouldn’t you be offended if you wanted to help him and he wouldn’t let you?

He can’t help with this. It’s ugly and painful and I won’t drag him into it.

He’s a big boy Grey. I have a feeling he can handle a lot.

He’s never been faced with this and you know it. I won’t taint his heart and mind like that. I won’t.

Having made up my mind to shut Elliott out I respond, “You’re wrong there Big Bro. This isn’t about trust, it’s…”

“BULLSHIT GREY! You’ve never trusted anyone enough to let them into that precious life of yours! Least of all your family…your brother. That’s fine though, fucking forget about it! I’ll let Mom and Mia know you said ‘hey’.” and he ends the call. DAMMIT!

“I wish I could tell you Big Bro. I really do”, I whisper to the empty room.

STOP!

Stop what? What the fuck are you going on about now?

I’m going on about, this is one of those situations you’d take to the Bitch-Troll that’s what I’m going on about now. That child-molesting whore is the reason your mind is in this condition.

No she’s not. She…

Go ahead, say it. Tell me how ‘she helped you’ then I want you to get ready for the worse nights of your life because I’ll leave you to the nightmare demons and monsters forever.

It’s time to get a few things straight. That bitch abused you. You were so used to being abused and didn’t recognize her actions for what they were. You wanted to fuck someone and her pussy was as good as anyone elses. You’ve said it yourself lots of times, had she been a whip-welding fifteen-year-old hottie you’d have let her tie you up and whip your ass for a good fuck. Lincoln just got to you first. She didn’t help you Grey, she made a bad situation worse and she solidified it by dangling her ass in your face; literally

Where is Steele? You need to take this shit to her.

I already know what she’ll say.

Do you? What will she say?

“She’ll agree with you in spades. She doesn’t understand my dark side. She sees the good in everyone and I love that about her. She can’t act as though I’m not dark or a monster forever…”

“Yes I do and yes I can because I know the truth.”

Huh? What the…shit! I said it out loud.

I guess the look on my face is giving away my thoughts because Ana says, “Yes Christian you said it out loud and yes Christian I heard you. Baby, have you hid anything from me? You’ve told me about your childhood abuse, your adolescent behaviors, your sexapades and the reason you chose the women you chose. What else is there Christian?”

I open my arms for her, but this time Ana doesn’t come to me. She shakes her head and slowly walks up to stand in front of my desk. “What else is there Christian? Why are you so Hell bent and bound to believe you’re some kind of monster?” Standing there, in front of my desk with her arms crossed and her brow furrowed, she looks like a fucking Domme.

“There’s nothing new Ana I just know me, the real me, and I don’t want to share that with my family, ever. I’m not proud to have shared it with you, but you have to know. It’s unfair for you not to have an idea about the man you care about. The man who wants to share his life with you. It doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside having that shit on your mind and I’m the one who put it there.” I rub my hands over my face.

I don’t understand why she’s here. I don’t understand why she wants me. I don’t understand how she can love an evil demon like myself. I must disgust her. I don’t see how I can’t.

“Christian, STOP IT DAMMIT!” I’m surprises by her outburst; that’s not my Ana.

“I’m a big girl. I can come and go as I please. I can love and not love as I see fit. Not you, Kate, Jose or anyone else can dictate who I love. Do you want me to leave Christian? Are you tired of me?” What the fuck? Has she lost her mind? My heart actually stops just hearing the words.

“Oh my God NO Anastasia! What in the fuck would make you say something like that? I love you Baby! I can’t live without you.” The fear in my voice can’t possibly match the fear in my heart. “Please don’t leave me Ana…please.” I’ll beg at her feet if she wants. Anything to keep her from leaving me.

She walks around the desk and opens her arms to me. I grab her around her waist and bury my face in her chest. She cradles my head then slowly and gently strokes her fingers through my hair. “I love you Christian,” she says after kissing to top of my head. “I will always love you. Please believe me.” I feel her kiss the top of my head again.

“I’m trying Baby,” I say as I lift my head. When I raise my eyes to meet hers I see her beautiful blues, filled with tears again. Tears I’ve caused her to shed. “Baby, please don’t cry especially not for me. I’m trying, it’s just hard. I’ve wanted someone to love me all my life. I wanted to love someone all my life and it just never happened. I’m afraid I’ll wake up and this will be some wonderful, horrible dream. I’m afraid I’ll wake up and that interview never happened. I never met you. I’ll go back to Escala to Gail and Taylor and…” I bury my face in her chest again, unable to finish my sentence.

“Your subs.” She states, matter-of-factly.

I squeeze her tightly and nod my head. I don’t want to go back there, ever. She knows my fears, she’s seen my nightmares and she’s still here.

She loves you putz.

I know that’s what she says, but it’s like saying e=mc2. It’s true because I’ve been told it’s true, but how do I really know.

“Baby, Everett’s here to talk with you. If you’d rather, I can ask him to do this some other time.” I shake my head, still safely buried between her breasts. I might as well get this shit over and done with. I’ve put it off all week. I guess it’s time to face some more music.

“No Baby. We both know this has to happen.” I look up at her like a lost child, “Doesn’t it?”, if she says it does then I’ll do it.

Those magnificent ocean blues gaze down at me as she confirms, “Yes Baby, it does, but only when you’re ready.” As she strokes my face, I lean into her touch and calm immediately.

I take a deep breath then tell her, “I’ll be out in a minute or two.”

“Would you be more comfortable in here?”

I look around my study. While this is where I conduct business, somehow it doesn’t feel right to discuss my personal life here. It’s too much like a home court advantage and I’m not looking for that with this subject. I look up into her baby blues again and tell her, “No, I’ll be out. Talking in here is tantamount to the Brown Family Home and I have no intention of darkening that doorway ever again.”

She nods her understanding then takes me by surprise, as only Anastasia can, “You do understand you’ll have to go back there when you talk with Edward, don’t you?” Huh? Who the fuck said I was going to talk with Edward? He had his chance at the Family Fiesta. He let Everett goad me and forced Emmett to bear his soul. What the fuck gives her the impression I’m going to talk with Edward?

“Christian, as much as I know you don’t want to talk with him, not only because it’s indelibly seared in your eyes, but also because of what occurred the last time, unless he agrees to come here, which I doubt he will or you’ll even consider inviting him, you’re going to have to speak with him. His home is a secure place to have a conversation like this. I’m sure of it.” Sensible, sensitive and sincere, that’s my Ana.

I stand, then lean down to kiss her forehead before telling her, “We’ll see Baby, first things first. Is Everett in the living room?”

“Yep” is all she says as she marches out of my office to lead the way.

“Well, here goes.”

EVERETT

Ok Ev, it’s now or never.

Why does never seem rather inviting right now?

Because you never thought this day would come and you aren’t prepared. Just remember what Grandmom told you about helping him and you’ll be fine.

Easy for you to say.

I’m caught off guard bickering with myself on the way to Christians’ when my phone rings. “Brown.”

“Hello Son, are you on your way? Remember him and punctuality.” I laugh. Dad keeps Edward waiting on purpose, just to piss him off. He always makes it look like an accident or carelessness. Now here he is, lecturing me about getting to my cousin’s place on time.

“Yeah Dad, I’m en route. To what do I owe this call? A little pep talk,” God knows I need one, or is this my preliminary reprimand?”

“A little of both Everett. I want you to tell him everything you remember, everything you know and how you know it.” He sounds desperate. Since the family mêlée Dad’s been fanatical about Christian knowing everything and that knowledge has to be the undiluted truth.

“Dad, are you sure about that? I mean, he seems to be very much like you and I remember how you felt when I finally opened up. Are you sure he can handle something like that?”

“He has Anastasia. He can handle anything the world brings to his doorstep as long as that wonderful woman is by his side. Be certain to offer her the opportunity to stay during your conversation. She’s a very gracious girl so she’ll probably decline your offer, but be sure to extend it nevertheless. If things get out of hand she’ll be there to help calm him down and she may have to take the lead from that point. Just don’t stop until your narrative is absolutely finished and don’t…leave…anything…out.”

“Alright ole boy. You’re the boss on this one. Is Christian going to meet with Granddad at all? You know the ole man is chomping at the bit to get to him. He’s a tad offended you and I are speaking to Christian before him.” I say with a chuckle in my voice. Serves the old bastard right. Ellie tried to tell him not to assault Christian, to let her converse with him and Anastasia, once she got here.

Dad’s laughing now too, “Well, Edward’s feelings are of no consequence at this point. It’s all about Christian now. He decided to speak with us of his own volition. One day your dear Granddad will learn such a thing exists and honor it. Get going Lad. Give the Lovebirds my best will you?”

“Will do ole man.” He laughs again then ends the call.

Dear Dad, our father is stoic and loyal to family regardless of their proximity. Granddad is smooth and suave with his intimidation, but Dad…HA! People think because he’s quiet and not interested in being out in front of the pack that he’s weak and useless, quite the contrary.

Dad is sensitive, just like Grandmom. Ellie gets it from him. Dad was never more relieved in his life than when Ellie confirmed Christian Grey was our Christian. His elation was short lived due to Edward’s rather blatant faux pas at that damned Brunch, which I’m glad I missed. Edward seems to believe Grey is stupid because we didn’t raise him. Some things are innate. Some intuitions, gut instincts, don’t come from a nurturing environment, they come from your core and Grandmom is at his core.

Anyway, when Grey called last night I was ready to run to his house that second, of course I didn’t. I didn’t want to and I don’t intend to press him. I just want to get to know him. I’ve missed *so* much; we all have.

As I enter the property I am surprised he doesn’t have security around this place then I remember he told Ellie he didn’t feel it was necessary because no one seemed to care who he was. That is due to Dad’s security detail. Talk about a fanatic. Dad’s security team, unlike Granddad’s before them, has been impeccable for as long as I can remember. I know for a fact Dad wishes we had these guys when he was looking for Christian. I shake my head just thinking about it. I ring the doorbell, only to be greeted by the beautiful Anastasia Steele.

“Hello Anastasia. I would never have dreamed you would answer the door. Is everything alright with Christian’s staff?” She furrows her brow and looks at me as if I were speaking Dutch, then a spark of understanding appears in her eyes.

“Oh, no, everything is fine. We, I mean Christian, opted not to have staff here. He’s been taking care of this place on his own.” She smiles proudly. I have to remember Anastasia didn’t come from wealth and isn’t impressed by it. No doubt Grey tending his own needs is of far greater value in her eyes.

“That’s wonderful Anastasia, just make sure he gets the dust webs in the corners of these high ass ceilings.” I point and look up to see…there are none. “Oh, I guess you have him under control.”

“Christian pays close attention to detail all on his own. I don’t allow him in my kitchen though. He can’t cook to save his life.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Where is The Christian Grey anyway?” She cringes at my use of his title. “I apologize Anastasia, I meant no harm. I take it you’re not impressed by his title?”

She shakes her head, “No I’m not. It’s cold and callous and whoever came up with it should be fired. People who know Christian understand how horrible that title is. He doesn’t say it, but I believe it hurts his feelings every time he hears it.” She looks a bit sad as she tells me all of this. She’s rather instinctual herself; an impressive character trait.

“I’ll bear that in mind Anastasia. My goal is not to offend or hurt Christian in any way. I hope you believe me.” She nods her head.

“I do Everett, but I’m not the person who matters, Christian is.” She shows me through the foyer to the Great Room.

“On the contrary Anastasia, yes, Christian will hear what’s said to him, he’ll have to process the words and decipher his feelings, but ultimately you, the woman in his life, will have the final say, whether he or you know it or not.” She looks shocked. This is where nurture does outdo nature.

“You see Anastasia, in my family, a woman’s presence dictates the ambiance in the home. She interprets situations and makes them plain enough for the men in that home to understand. Without a woman, men are lost.”

“We males are very proud and very ignorant. Lots of times we can pass that ignorance off as stubbornness or even strength, but if you get a real man to admit it he’ll acknowledge true power is behind the throne and behind any good man is a better woman.” Anastasia blushes then excuses herself to retrieve Christian.

I sigh inwardly. This is a day I never believed would happen. I never thought I’d see Christian again, not alive at least. I would have nightmares about having to identify his body like Dad did Aunt Ellie. This is most defintely a bittersweet moment. I pray he’s open to this conversation.

I only wait for a few moments before he arrives. “Hello Everett. Good to see you.” I stand as he enters the room holding Anastasia’s hand.

You say that now Cousin. We’ll see how you feel in a few minutes. He seems nervous and you can tell by the way he’s clutching Anastasia’s hand he doesn’t want to do this alone.

“Good to see you as well Cous…I mean Christian.”

Don’t call him that Everett. He’s not ready.

Dad called him Nephew why can’t I call him Cousin, that’s what he is to me.

Just follow my instructions and don’t do it.

Fine!

“Have a seat.” I take to the burgundy Chesterfield wingback chair adjacent to its matching couch.

Ever the gracious hostess, Anastasia offers, “Would you fellas like something to eat or drink.” I shake my head. I’m too nervous to eat.

“Do you drink Scotch Everett?” Christian asks with a hopeful tone in his voice. A man after my own heart.

“I do.” And I know he can hear my thankfulness. There’s no doubt in my mind it’ll come to good use…soon.

“We’re good Baby.” He kisses her hand and goes off to the bar. A few moments later he hands me my drink and takes a seat on the couch.

Anastasia makes a point to tell us, “Ok, but let me know if either of you change your mind.” We each nod like good little boys because that’s the expression on both of our faces right now.

Further demonstrating her understanding of the situation at hand, I’m not surprised when Anastasia says, “It will be fine. You each need this conversation. Just like Emmett did. Now, keep your hands to yourself.” She looks at each of us sternly as she states this first rule. “Do not destroy anything and be absolutely honest with each other. All is for naught if you aren’t.”

We look at each other, then back at Anastasia and say, “Ma’am, yes ma’am.” We look at each other again and smile the same million-megawatt smile before shaking hands.

Anastasia giggles as she turns to leave the room and says, “Boys will be boys.”

Oh shit, I almost forgot, “Anastasia.” She turns back around and looks at me expectantly. “You’re welcome to stay. You’re going to be family as well and I’m pretty sure Christian would like you by his side as we chat.” I look at Christian for confirmation and he nods to Anastasia.

“You’re welcome to stay Baby. You know that right?” Her expression softens and she comes back to embrace him warmly and stare into those funny colored eyes.

“All you have to do is yell and I’ll be here.” She looks at me and says, “That goes for you as well.” Without another word, she squeezes him once more then turns and leave us alone.

Once she’s gone I say, absent-mindedly, “Dad’s right, she’s a wonderful young lady.” Christian nods his agreement.

“So Everett, I’m not sure how much your father told you about our conversation or about my reaction to what he said.” I hold up my hand. Let’s get a few things straight right now.

“Dad didn’t tell me anything about your talk and I don’t want to know about it.” He looks surprised at my statement. “Christian, I wasn’t in his shoes. I can’t tell you how he felt or what happened when he was in the United States because I wasn’t there. I can tell you what happened here at the time, I can tell you how I felt about what I heard versus what I was told and I can tell you what Dad said to me when he finally came home, but as far as his portion of the situation goes I’m of no use to you. I’m not here to plead anyone’s case and I’m not here to try and win you over. I’m here because I want my cousin back and I want you to know that we all love you.”

“Being a Brown automatically means you don’t believe me and you want to know everything.  I know our family doesn’t have the lock on those types of feeling, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from you because you are a member of this family, like it or not.” He’s just like the rest of us, he demonstrated that during the meeting, so I know this preface is required.

“If I tell you something you don’t want to hear, something you feel contradicts what Dad has said to you or something you want to challenge, please remember this is from my point of view then please call me on anything you wish. Deal?”

He gives me Edward’s blank stare before absent-mindedly nodding his head as I speak then, softly, he says, “Deal.” He sounds resigned to his fate.

I lean forward and put my elbows on my knees. “Christian, the horrible part is over.” Quickly, he scoots back away from me, fear his distinct expression. Maybe it’s not over…not for him.

“Christian what is it? I’m not going to hurt you.” The fear in his eyes dissipates and his mask sets firmly in place.

It takes me a few minutes to understand what happened, but once I do I drop my head and shake it to rid myself of the memory then groan out loud, “Not you too.” He looks at me with confusion written all over his face. This conversation is over before it started.

I slowly raise my head and feel a tear roll down my cheek, “When Dad was released from jail and finally came back to us, he was a totally different man. He couldn’t stand to be too close to any of us, he would fight to the death if we touched him and when you asked him why he would put on the exact same impassive expression you’re donning right now.” I point at Christian. “I didn’t mean to invade your personal space Christian. I’ll go.” I rise quickly from my seat and actually sprint to the door.

I pass Anastasia, but I’m moving so fast I can’t see the expression on her face. As I grab the doorknob I hear him yell, “EVERETT! EVERETT DON’T! IT’S NOT YOU EVERETT IT’S ME! DON’T!” Too late Cousin, I recognize the signs and I’m not one to press the button.

I manage to get the door open and make it to my car. As I open the driver’s side door, a strong hand comes out of nowhere and pulls on my shoulder spinning me around.

What the fuck?

“Don’t leave him Ev. He hurts and he needs us to help him.”

“Dad” I whisper. “How did you know?” How did he know I would need his help?

“I know you Ev and I understand Christian better than any of you think. I didn’t think to mention it to you then I remembered how you approach family, we can’t address Christian that way. I remember how it affected you when I came home so I knew you’d need my help.” My father is holding me by both my shoulders, as if I were a child being scolded.

Of course, by now, Grey reaches us in time to get a birds-eye view of the spectacle, even Anastasia can see the show. I groan again and lower my head. Dad releases my arms and ruffles my hair like you would a little kid. “Don’t be embarrassed Lad, we’re all family here.” I look up at him and see the shit-eating grin I hate so much on his face.

Christian seems put out at how fast I got away from him. “DAMMIT Everett, did you fucking run track or something?”

Dad laughs, “My boy ran for the Melbourne University Athletics Club in almost every category.” Looking at me with that damned twinkle in his funny colored eyes he asks, “Shall I list them Son?”

“Since I’m legally an adult, when I tell you no will you do as I say?” He twists his mouth and taps his finger on his chin for a moment. Long enough to cause me misery at my possible embarrassment.

“Since Christian isn’t familiar with this type of treatment and in the interest of time…I’ll spare you. Just remember, you owe me.” I take note he didn’t say one, so I know I owe him *a lot*.

“Thanks Dad.” I mumble. When I see that fucking eyebrow go up, I straighten my stance and give him a proper thank you.

“Now, do I need to follow you Lads back into the house and mediate your discussion or can I trust you to face this situation head on?” He looks between us.

“This incident was my fault Dad. Christian didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t approach him correctly and he simply reacted to a perceived threat.” Dad nods his head at my description of the event then looks pensively at Christian.

“Nephew,” I notice Christian doesn’t wince at the address, “Everett must have startled you. Is that correct?” Christian simply nods. “Ok, simply put, Everett routinely expresses himself with hand gestures and arm punches. It takes some getting used to.”

Then Dad turns to me, “Everett, Christian is more reserved than you or I anticipated. Do you remember how I was when I returned from the US?” I nod. “Increase that 100-fold. Don’t expect an explanation, unless Christian deems it necessary. Just keep your distance.”

“Yes Dad.” What happened to my Cousin?

I look at Christian, “I apologize Christian.”

“Thank you Emmett. Thank you Everett.” He shakes Dad’s hand and looks at each of us as he states his appreciation.

Christian then focuses on me and with a gentleness you would show to a small child he says, “Everett, let’s go back inside and talk. Would that be alright with you?” I look at Dad first who tilts his head toward Christian as if to tell me ‘go on’.

I frown for a moment, considering all I wanted to say and all I wanted to accomplish. Somehow, it seems tainted. Somehow, if I were Christian, I wouldn’t trust me. I don’t know why I feel this way, I just do. In that instance the two men realize if I leave, I won’t come back.

“Everett, I’m not holding this against you. My fears aren’t your fault. We can discuss those as well. We’ll have to if we’re being honest with each other.” I nod to him and Dad slaps me hard on the back.

“Good afternoon Lads”, he says as he walks back to his car. He casually gets in and drives away.

Leading the way back into the house Grey says, “Come on Everett, let’s have that Scotch.”

Even I can hear the thankfulness in my voice as I state, “Best offer I’ve had all day.”


GREY

Merci Père céleste
Thank you Heavenly Father

Cher Dieu NON!
Dear God, NO!

ELLIOTT’S SERENADE

I Just Called To Say I Love You, by Stevie Wonder, 1984
Mary Had a Little Lamb, by Sarah Josepha Hale and John Roulstone , 1830
Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, by The Temptations, 1966

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 23 What You Thought You Knew

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 23 | What You Thought You Knew

GREY

Ring…Rin…

“Hi Dad, how are you? We were gonna call you later. Yeah, Ana and I are finally home.” We managed to get away from the Brown Bullshit Family Meeting, pun intended. I could live a million years and stand to miss that suck-ass circus.

“Good. I’m well son. Mia mentioned in passing that you called. I knew you planned to talk with Brown, so I thought I should check in with you. Did you get the information I sent to you?” He sounds…anxious somehow.

“Yes, thanks again Dad. Ana helped me look through it. We’ve come to the conclusion the penal system needs to Go Green.” I have to keep the tone of this conversation light. It could get too heated, too quickly if I’m not careful. I don’t want my parents worried about me and I don’t want any of them here with us. This place is for Ana and me…*only*. We don’t have anyplace only she and I have been. Somehow, I want to be selfish about Townsville; about the entire continent of Australia actually.

“HA! I’ll see what I can do, but I can’t promise you anything son. Now, did you meet with Edward?” I’m stunned. On a first name basis huh Dad? Interesting way to address someone you only recognize from educational reading and/or legalese.

“Yeah Dad, apparently a Family Meeting was called and I was ordered to attend. Ana went with me, but because she’s not a Brown she wasn’t eligible to attend the festivities.” I know my voice is oozing contempt.

“Well, that makes sense Christian. Granted it wouldn’t be an issue in our family, but if that’s how the Browns conduct themselves then who are you to question it?” I guess.

“First I argued that I wasn’t one of them and when said I’d have to check my calendar both Ella and Everett lit into my ass with both feet then they proceeded to hang up on me. They fucking hung up on me! I still can’t fucking believe it.” Thinking about the shit makes my blood boil. I look over to my right to see Ana shaking her head, scolding me for reliving the nasty experience. Somehow, there’s a twinge of a smile on her lips.

I have to move the phone away from my ear, fast. “HA, HA, HA! OH HELL NO! THAT’S RICH…I’D HAVE PAID A MINT TO SEE THE LOOK ON YOUR FACE BEHIND THAT ONE!” Why exactly is he laughing?

“Care to fill me in on the joke Dad? It wasn’t a pleasant evening, at all. That little scene happened over the phone and pissed me off. It only got worse once the flick went live.” Dad kept laughing and mumbling, to himself. I only caught parts of his monologue.

“…old bastard hasn’t changed a bit…apples don’t fall far…not what he expected I’m sure…” He kept on like that for a few minutes before I simply continued my story.

“Glad to amuse you Dad.  When we arrived, we were escorted to our room and I was told to change into brawl-worthy clothing, just in case the discussion got out of hand, which in my opinion it did with those instructions.”  Dad gasps. Not so funny now, huh?

“What are you saying Christian?  Someone actually told you to prepare for a fight?  They certainly haven’t…” He catches himself when he realizes I’m listening.  I refuse to let it affect the conversation, at least for right now.

“That’s right Dad, we all met in the Great Room. The space doubles as a normal part of the house, but it’s been modified so Family Meetings can get as rough as they need to be.”  Now he’s quiet, too quiet, and I don’t like it.

“Mm hmm” is all I get from him, so I continue.

“Edward proceeded to cite the Rules for the meeting then the spotlight turned on me.”  Carrick snickers.  I’m glad someone is amused by all of this bullshit.

“How do you mean the spotlight turned on you Christian?  What happened to make you feel as though you were being put in the hot seat?”  Talk about mood swing, he went from happy to hostile then back again in less than six-seconds.

“Well, first I was asked if I had any questions, then I was told my real name, then…” I didn’t get the phone away fast enough.  He was so fucking loud he startled Ana, who let out a squeak.

“WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN YOUR REAL NAME?” I’ve never heard Carrick roar. Nice to know I’m not the only Grey who behaves that way.

I went on to give Dad highlights of the Brown Family Meeting. For some odd reason, I didn’t feel comfortable going into great detail about Emmett’s sister or his emotional state during and after the meeting, especially not about his nightmare. I don’t know why, maybe because I understand that kind of fear. It felt like I’d be betraying an unspoken trust. He is a businessman and while no one signed a NDA, I wouldn’t feel comfortable exposing that type of information to anyone…other than Ana of course.

“So, Christian, there was a lot of conversation but no concrete information given to you? Other than a bedtime story, they didn’t offer you anything you could hang your hat on in the way of proof. Is that what you’re telling me…son?” WOW! Talk about possessive. If I’m anywhere near that way with Ana, I need to get on my knees and beg for past, present and future forgiveness.

“That’s right Dad. I haven’t been given any tangible documentation yet. I’m sure the discussion isn’t over though.” Based on the tone of this chat, I’m not going to give away too much too soon. Anastasia is shaking her head at me. She can’t possibly think I’m going to get into a full-blown discussion about this mess with my father and I don’t have any concrete proof. I mouth ‘What?’ to her. ‘Nothing’ she mouths back and leaves the room. I shrug and go back to listening to my Dad rant.

“…and another thing Christian, don’t let them try to pull on your heartstrings. Use that CEO mindset of yours and keep a good distance between you and any, scratch that, all of them, including that little tart you’ve become so fond of…”

I know I called Ella out of name just the other night, but…well…I was wrong, but…that was different, somehow. I don’t appreciate Dad saying it. I really need to talk with Ana about this. Why in the fuck do I care what my father calls Ella? Why do I feel ‘protective’ of any of them? I don’t understand this.

“…do you understand me Christian? Christian? Are you listening to me?” Huh? Wha? Oh shit.

“Yeah Dad, I got it, distance, concrete proof, CEO mindset. I know the drill, believe me I do. Look, I’m gonna let you go now. Tell Mom and Mia we love them. Thanks again Dad. Bye.”

“Alright I will. Bye Son.” Whew…man, am I glad that shit is over. The conversation was worse than I thought. Carrick was actually offended. I guess I can’t blame him. I’m sure he feels threatened to a point, but he sounded jealous as well. How can you be jealous of a Crack-Whore? That’s like Ana being jealous of a contractual relationship. There’s no basis for the emotion.

You do understand what you’re feeling…don’t you?

I’m not feeling anything, except horny, again, and tired…in that order.

That too, but why didn’t you want to tell Carrick every little detail? Why not confide in your father?

I haven’t told him about the Bitch-Troll or my Subs either. Do you suggest we make a day of it?

You know that’s not what I’m saying. And why are you getting defensive? There’s nothing wrong with having feelings, ya know? Emmett reminds you of yourself to a certain degree and you became friends with Ella. Plus, she reminds you of Steele so much it’s scary. It’s understandable for you to be offended when your father called her a…

DON’T SAY IT! I need to apologize to her. It was absolutely unforgivable. I’d fucking explode if someone called Ana out of name. I had no right and I will apologize to her.

Not a bad idea.


“Baby? Can we talk?” I find Ana in the Library, snuggled up on the couch…our couch…my cuddly little bookworm, reading a novel.

“Sure baby. Come here.” She moves the throw from over top of her magnificent body, inviting me to snuggle up with her. I rush from the doorway and practically dive on top of her. I run my hands from her shoulders, down her arms, over her breasts and tweak her nipples just a little bit. My hands continue their downward journey over her abs to her hips where I hold her in place so I can grind myself into her as deeply as possible. My hands come to rest on her thighs and my knees gently part her legs, giving me better access to her.

“Hmmm. It’s warm under here. Why are you wearing jeans? Aren’t you getting hot…yet?” I smile then kiss her cheek, her neck and trail gentle kisses down to her shoulder. I put my left arm around her waist and hold her against my body. God, she’s so soft and supple. My dick is throbbing in my jeans and against the inside of her thigh. I can’t fucking get enough of her. I’d fuck her all day and make love to her all night if she’d let me.

She arches her back. “I thought you said you wanted to talk?” Panting, she pushes her breasts against my chest.

“Mmmm hmmm, I do and we are. Can’t you hear my heart racing? I can hear yours going a mile a minute. They must he speaking to each other.”. Slowly, I glide my tongue from the base of her neck to that heavenly little spot behind her ear, “You smell divine Ana and you feel sooo fucking good.” I move my right hand to the waistline of her jeans and begin to caress her abdomen. Leisurely, gently but with a goal in mind I slip my hand it into her jeans. As I near the ultimate treasure…

“STOP!” She says suddenly.

Huh?  We’re just getting started.  What does she mean, STOP?

I don’t let her deter me. I kiss the tip of her nose, then slide my hand back up her stomach, put my right arm around her waist then switch my left hand to her right breast. I massage, knead and rub her, the way I know she likes. I’m the only man who knows her this way. I’m the only man to see her this way, to touch her precious body and I fucking love it.

I can feel this nipple harden under my palm. I give it a sharp pinch then smile while I watch her eyes roll back in her head and i hear her let out a deep, deep sigh. “Yeah, it feels really good don’t it baby?” She can’t even nod. She just takes a deep breath and pushes her breast into my hand.

STOP my ass.

Somehow, she manages to collect herself, “Christian, while I love your body language, I thought you wanted to talk…verbally.”

“I do baby…and we will…just, gimme a few more minutes baby. Pleazzzeee.” I whisper seductively in her ear. “You know I can’t resist you and I told you I’d never look at this room the same way again.” I press my lips to hers, switch to her left breast and give her the same attention I gave her twin. Ana gasps with each pinch of her nipples. When she opens her mouth, I take full advantage and slide my tongue inside. I love how sweet and innocent she tastes. Her tongue meets mine in a slow, erotic dance, rolling, tickling and grinding against each other. As I deepen the kiss and press my pelvis between her legs, she surprises me by taking my lower lip between her teeth and softly biting down on it.

“Ow,” I feign a hurt look on my face and pout at her, “you bit me. No fair.” I whine.

“I never said I’d play fair baby.” She winks at me. Little minx stole my line.

“Very well Miss Steele. We’ll talk instead.” I move to sit up, but she holds my shoulders and kisses my forehead.”

“I didn’t say you had to move for us to talk.” My Ana.

I settle between her legs, wrap both of my arms around her tiny waist and lay my head on her chest. “What’s on your mind Christian?”

I take a deep breath then kiss her breast, all while grinding my cock between her legs some more. “Besides sex…”

I chuckle, “Can’t blame a guy for trying baby.” I let out a sigh.

“You heard my conversation with Dad about the melee. He got angrier than I imagined. He seemed almost…possessive. It’s not a side of him I’m used to seeing.”

Dad always keeps a lid on his emotions. Being a courtroom lawyer he can’t let anyone see him sweat or even hear a note of emotion in his voice. While he’s never hidden his emotions from our family, he seemed overly aggressive during our call.

Ana puts her hand under my chin and turns my face so my gloomy greys look into her baby blues. “He doesn’t want to see you hurt. It’s a reasonable response. Plus, this is your biological family. He may feel threatened because they’ve made contact with you.”

“Are you trying to say he’s jealous Ana?” I raise an eyebrow at her. Nah, not my Dad. Not over me at least. If this were Mia or Elliott I would understand, even understand his reaction. They’re perfect, kind, loving children. I’m the monster of the brood. He wouldn’t feel jealous of someone pretending to be my family.

“He’s human Christian. He very well may be jealous, but no that’s not what I was implying. He may just be hurting because he isn’t here with you, to help you on this journey.”

I pull my chin out of her grasp and snuggle into her breast again. “I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t tell him everything that went on.” I take a deep breath and wait for her reaction to my statement.

Seconds turn into minutes and minutes turn into hours. I don’t look up at her. I let her take her time to think about what I just said.

“You didn’t tell him about your nightmare.” Without raising my eyes, I shake my head no.

“You didn’t tell him about Emmett’s nightmare.” I shake my head no again.

“You told him about Emmett’s story, but not its the emotional undertone.” She’s right again. This time, I nod.

“Are you ashamed of what you heard?” I shake my head, vigorously.

“Are you embarrassed by what happened to you, and Emmett, afterward?” I shake my head.

“Baby, this has fast become a one-sided conversation.  What do you want to talk about?”  I lift my head from her soft, warm chest and look into her eyes once more.

I take a deep breath, “I think I believe them Ana, at least I believe Emmett, no one else really said anything. I believe he misses his sister and I believe he scoured the places he believed she was, trying to find her. The part that surprises me the most is…I believe he was looking for me as well. I believe he cared about me and wanted to bring me” I swallow hard, “bring me…home.”

“Does it bother you that you believe him or does it bother you that you don’t want to believe him?”

Why do you pay Flynn anything?  Please remind me.

“Well, it’s like how a kid feels when they learn there’s no such thing as Santa Clause, Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy. It’s best to know the truth, but it hurts and right now I’m at a loss at what the truth really is. They didn’t know the woman I lived with just like I don’t know the girl they remember. I don’t want to taint his memories of his sister, but I can’t relate to who he thinks of so fondly.”

“I feel bad for liking the things they have to say about her. I would like to have known her then, even get to know my birth father. At the same time, I’m pissed because of what I went through. She knew better. She didn’t grow up the way I did. Why did she put me through that? I guess the biggest issue for me is why didn’t someone save us?” I get pissed when I think about them knowing she and I existed and they didn’t come and get us.

“Christian, you said Emmett tried. You said he left his home, his wife and his children to look for you and your mother. You told me how he begged you to believe him Christian. Then he had some God-awful nightmare. Do you really think he was just lying to you and if so, for what reason? Even under the guise of the standoffish, rational CEO can you sit there and honestly tell me you believe Emmett was lying to you?” I want to say yes. I want to say that with all their money and resources they should’ve looked harder, done more. In true Anastasia Steele style, she reads my mind.

“My phone and computer were hacked into and a virus put on each that prevented me from contacting you. The press took pictures of you in some questionable situations. While there was nothing to found any of their stories on, it didn’t make the hurt any less when I read about you ‘jet setting’ around the globe and appearing to spend time with what looked like a different beautiful woman on your arm whenever you were spotted.”

“Emmett told you his security team didn’t do their job and lied to him to cover up their misdeeds.” I nod. “How do you expect him to contest with people he trusted lying to him? And don’t tell me how you would’ve handled things Christian. You weren’t the one looking for your missing sister and nephew. You weren’t the one with a wife and children seven thousand miles away wondering when you were coming back to them. You told me his wife was sick and then died without him ever being able to speak to her again. He couldn’t tell her what he found or didn’t find. He couldn’t apologize for being away from her. My God Christian, why can’t you stop and think about him? What about Emmett’s peace of mind then and now.” She shudders a little.

“Baby, all I know is, I would give the man all the opportunities he wanted to talk with me and help me understand whatever he thought he could. I truly believe Emmett, Everett and Ella love you. I believe Emmett looked for you. I didn’t even hear him speak or see him after his nightmare Christian. Just listening to your description of the situations, I believe him. I know how I feel isn’t important here…” That’s where I stop her.

“Ana, don’t say that. I need you.” My hold around her waist tightens. “I need to know what you think and how you feel about all of this. I don’t want to run home to my parents or security or lawyers to figure this out. I want to do this on our own…just you and me. How you feel, what you think and how you would react are all important to me. Please don’t ever doubt that again.” I’m holding her as tightly as I can. I need Ana now more than ever. “Baby, I want this to be about us. I want to build a life with you Ana and I want to be able to come to you with everything, but I want the same from you baby. I want you all to myself and I want to be all yours.”

Looking me straight in the eye, she nods her head “Ok then, like I said, I believe him. I would give him all the time and space he needed to open up. Christian, you spent time and bonded with Ella, why not do the same with Emmett? Give him a chance to be your friend. If he gets close enough to prove himself as an uncle so be it, but don’t put that kind of pressure on him.”

Hmmm. Get close to him huh? Pick his brain for a while?

Stop it Grey.  You know exactly what Steele is saying to you and we know in that heart you say you don’t have you want to do just that.  You only came to her to try and justify your ‘feelings’ for the man.

Maybe, but I can’t let him…let them hurt me again. I’ve come too far for that to happen.

“I know what you’re thinking Grey, don’t you dare try to manipulate that man. This isn’t a Merger or an Acquisition. This is about real life, real feelings and real family. Remember that.” Ma’am, yes ma’am.

“What time is Emmett coming over here? If he hasn’t already eaten, he’s more than welcome to join us for dinner. It would be nice to entertain him our way. You know, casual, calm…fun.” She smiles at me. I know what she’s trying to do and I can honestly say I’m thankful.

I don’t know what it is about Emmett that makes me want to believe what he told me. Somehow he just seems straightforward and untainted.

Kinda like a kindred soul, huh?

I don’t know about all that, but somehow there’s a connection I can’t explain.  His anger at the situation, his disappointment at not making progress, his hurt at the loss of his sister and nephew and the sacrifice of his only family for someone else’s sake.  He puts up a good front that’s for damn sure.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a Dom in disguise.

HA!  A family trait?  That would be the icing on the fucking cake.

Whatev.

“I’ll text him and see what his plans are.” She looks at me questioningly. “The man is in back-to-back meetings baby. Phone calls will go to directly to voicemail. I don’t know how well he multitasks so I don’t know if he can read an email and still concentrate on the happenings going on around him. A text is quick and to the point.”

“Christian, at the risk of pissing you off…”

“Yes.” I say slowly and deliberately. Whenever she says that her next sentence usually ends up pissing me off.

“If, and I use the word loosely, for your sake. If Emmett Brown is even remotely related to you, there was no fucking need for him to go to those meetings today other than to show his face and probably take out some of the aggression he was feeling from the Family Meeting last night.”

“Text him, email him, call him…Hell send up a fucking smoke signal for all I care. Just find out what he would like to have for dinner and what time he’ll be here.” She kisses the top of my head and pushes me off of her so I can contact Emmett.

CG: Hello Emmett, Ana wants to know wat u’d like 4 dinner and wat time u’ll b here.

EB2: Hello C, I’m not finicky…watever Ana wants to cook I’ll eat. I’ll b dun at 630. I can b @ yor place by 7

CG: I’ll let her kno. C u @ 7

EB2: C u then

I let Ana know about Emmett’s response. While she is making dinner plans I check my emails and make sure my Seattle office still exists. I’ve talked with Ros a few times this week and everything seems fine. I just have to be sure.

Of course there are hundreds of fucking emails to read. The Fourth Quarter P/L Report looks good. Maybe we can do a conference call for the Year End Meeting. I’m really not interested in going back to Seattle for that shit.

Sigh…oh the trials of the rich and famous. Hee,hee,hee…

I didn’t hear you complaining when I bought that R8,

…well…

…this house…

…yeah, um…

…or all of those fucking clothes.  You don’t have a problem drinking all that wine or eating in those fancy-ass restaurants. And let’s not start on the travel.

ALL-FUCKING-RIGHT DAMMIT! You made your fuck-ass point.

That’s what the fuck I thought.

Ass-WHOLE!

Whatev.


Standing here waiting for Emmett, I realize I’ve never stood in the doorway of my home, or apartment, and welcomed anyone inside. This is something Mom and Dad do for their guests.

Hmmm. Doesn’t feel too bad, does it?

Nope. Not bad at all. I could get used to this.

“Good evening Christian.” Emmett smiles as if the weight of the world has lifted off his shoulders. There’s got to be something wrong in that fucking house. This man seems totally different when he’s not there.

“And good evening Anastasia.” He smiles even brighter, if that’s possible, as he takes Ana’s hand and lifts it to his lips. I can feel my blood begin to boil.

Down Grey, he’s being polite. You should try it sometime.

I manage not to rip his arm off for touching Ana, let alone kissing her hand, but she has to pinch me in the side to get the scowl off my face. Ma’am, yes ma’am.

“Can I get you something to drink Emmett?” Ever the little hostess.

“Actually, I brought a bottle of Pouilly-Fumé. I hope you don’t mind.” He offers Ana the bottle, which she graciously accepts.

“Thank you Emmett, that was very thoughtful of you. If you gentlemen will excuse me, I have to put the finishing touches on dinner.” She gives me an all too chaste kiss on the lips then practically runs to the kitchen.

Smooth Steele…NOT!

“Come Emmett, I’ll give you a tour.” There’s a bit of a smirk on his face. “Is there something wrong?”

“Nope.” He pops the ‘p’. “Nothing at all. Lead the way.” His grin firmly in place. This is definitely a different man. Tonight is gonna be interesting that’s for sure.

I try not to let on, but this is another normal gesture I’m not exactly used to performing. Ana’s the only person who ever ‘toured’ Escala. It made me feel proud to hear her ‘oo’s and ah’s’ as we went from room to room. I wasn’t trying to impress her and I’m not trying to impress Emmett. For some odd reason, I wanted to share with him a little piece of us and how we live.

After the tour, Emmett and I sit in the living room, glasses of wine in hand, and chat.

I didn’t know you knew how to chat. Hee, hee, hee…it’s funny.

Fuck you.

“You have a wonderful view of the city from here Christian. I’ve forgotten just how beautiful Townsville is…” He trails off, not finishing his sentence.

“I’m sure business keeps you busy. I’ve learned from my fiancée and your daughter not to take life for granted. Nothing’s promised to us.” And I don’t intend to take Ana or my life with her for granted any longer.

“Very true. How are wedding plans going? You don’t seem like the type of man who would tolerate a long engagement very well.” His eyes twinkle. Oh, he has jokes does he?

“No, I’m not. However, my fiancée sets the tone and pace of this relationship and whatever she want or how ever long she needs I’m all for it.” I can’t force Ana to marry me. However, I can foolishly force her out of my life if I push her unnecessarily, which most definitely is not an option.

“I know Ellie would be more than ecstatic to work with Anastasia on her wedding plans, if she would like some help. Ellie thinks of you two as the modern day Cinderella and Prince Charming.” He shakes his head.

“What’s wrong with that?” I think I’m offended.

“Nothing’s wrong with it. It’s not something you see anymore and it’s refreshing. My daughter is a romantic and although she doesn’t act like one most days, she has a tendency to get ‘girlie’ about love. It gets tedious for the men in the house.” His smile slowly fades at the mention of ‘the house’.

“Since I have no idea what she has planned, I’ll let Ana know.”

“Let Ana know what?” She strolls into the room and takes my glass of wine from of my hand. I raise a questioning eyebrow at her as she sips away.

“Ella is willing to help you with wedding planning, should you choose.”

“That would be nice. We were thinking about holding the wedding here in Townsville. It would be great to have someone help me. I know Mia will be disappointed though.” Ana’s brow knits together as she considers Mia’s feeling over her own happiness.

I reach over and take her chin between my thumb and forefinger. She looks me dead in the eye as I tell her, “She’ll live. Our wedding day is for you and me, not Mia, Kate Mom or Dad. We’ll be the center of attention and if anyone doesn’t like what we have planned they can fuck off. Baby, you work with Ella, Mia, Santa Clause or Houdini. Do whatever you want and spare no expense. I want us to remember our wedding day as one of the bests days of our lives together.” She begins to turn pink and tries to pull away from me, but I hold her firmly and place a soft, chaste kiss on the tip of her nose. “I love you Anastasia.”

She smiles brightly as she tells me, “I love you too Christian.”

A slight movement to my right reminds me we’re not alone. I turn to see Emmett sporting his own five thousand megawatts smile.

DAMN!  Is that were it comes from?

It appears so.

“Dinner will be ready in about 15 minutes gentlemen.” Ana hands me back my wineglass and heads back toward the kitchen.

“What are we having? Whatever it is, it smells delicious.” My baby can cook her delectable little ass off that’s for damn sure.

“We’re having Bruschetta, stuffed mushroom caps and an Iceberg and Romaine Lettuce salad with pecans and mandarin orange slices for our starters. Cajun Seafood Pasta for the main dish followed by chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream for dessert. I hope that’s alright with you both.” She looks a little nervous all of a sudden. I know my girl is a fabulous cook so I have no worries in the world. If that fucker doesn’t like it, as much as I hate to see anyone suffer, he can fucking starve.

“That sounds scrumptious Anastasia, thank you for your hospitality.” Emmett raises his wineglass to Ana and I do the same.

“I second that sentiment.” She begins to turn a darker pink almost red as we praise her. All for you baby. All for you.


“Anastasia, are you certain you’re happy with Christian?” Her eyes widen and almost pop from her head.

“Of course I am Emmett. Why would you ask just a question?” Oh shit, is that a note of hostility I hear in her voice? I know that bastard’s not trying to make a move on my Ana. This’ll most definitely be his last meal if he is…he’ll fucking loose his teeth.

Just as I’m about to come to her rescue, Emmett raises his hands in mock surrender and chuckles heartily. “You misunderstand me Love. Your cooking is out of this fucking world and I’d gladly steal you from him” he tilts his head at me “in a second if it meant I could enjoy your culinary expertise on a regular basis.”

Turning to face me he says, “You really are a very fortunate young man Christian. Anastasia is beautiful, sincere and she can cook like all Hell. You better be good to her forever.” He flashes that smile again and I half expect him to wink at her like ole man Brown did, but Emmett doesn’t take it that far.

“You don’t have to tell me, I still thank God everyday she came to interview me and not Katherine fucking Kavanaugh.” Ana raises a censorious eyebrow at me, but I don’t give a fuck. It’s how I feel and I’ll scream it from the mountaintops if I feel like it.

“What interview?” Emmett sounds genuinely interested. Is it possible he doesn’t know everything there is to know about me?

“Ana came to Grey House from WSU in Vancouver to interview me for the graduation edition of her school’s newspaper.” Emmett seems shocked.

“Really! You don’t strike me as the journalistic type Anastasia. You are full of surprises aren’t you?”

Ana immediately rights his train of thought.  “Oh no…not me, my roommate, Kate Kavanaugh, is the journalist.  Kate was sick and she drafted me to go to Seattle and interview The Christian Grey.  She worked so hard to secure a meeting with him and she didn’t want the newspaper to miss out simply because she was sick.”  I’ll pick up the story from here.  She’s too modest.

“Emmett, she was a God-send. She stumbled into my office and literally landed at my feet. During the interview she was demure, catty, challenging, demanding and defying. She breezed into my world, turned it on its axis then swept me off my feet. When she left, I didn’t know which way was up and as frustrating as it was…I loved it.” I smile at my baby. She is the better part of me. She loves me like no one else could. She’s taken the key to my heart and I don’t care, as long as she holds it forever. “My own Princess Charming.” I take her hand, turn it over and kiss her open palm.

“You two really are a modern day romance story. It’s refreshing to see young people so happy and in love. Too many people take love, friends and family for granted, behaving as though they’re entitled to anything their heart desires. The two of you complement one another. You’re the strength and guiding light for one another. It’s not something you see anymore.” He says the last sentence in almost a whisper, as if it wasn’t meant for our ears.

“Shall I serve dessert and coffee fellas?” Ana hops up from the table. She hates being the center of attention and so do I, but when it comes to our relationship I can’t be proud enough to have Ana by my side.

“Actually, I’d like to wait a little, if that’s alright with you all. I’m stuffed.” Emmett says.

“Me too Baby. Maybe a little later, ok?” She nods and begins to clear the table. Emmett and I both help her.

The three of us clear the table, put the food away and load the dishes into the dishwasher before settling down in the living room to continue our chat. “Thank you both for all of your help in the kitchen. Hard to believe CEOs make such good busboys.” We all laugh at the thought.

“If you two will excuse me, I have a few things to do.” Do? What does she have to do?

Both Emmett and I have the same questioning look on our faces. It must be a genetic reaction. He has no reason to question her whereabouts. He even beats me to the punch. “Please don’t leave Anastasia. I was hoping you’d join this conversation. As Christian’s fiancée this all affects you as well.” He’s totally different when he’s away from *that* place.

“I’ll be back. I have to check into my Visa application and what all needs to be done. I’ve never taken on a task like this and it’s…”

He cuts her off mid-sentence. “You’re applying for a Visa?” He sounds as surprised as I look, I’m sure. She nods.

“A work Visa?” He continues. She nods again.

“That’s wonderful Anastasia. If you don’t mind my asking, where are you applying for employment?” He sounds as hopeful as I feel about her staying here…with me.

“I applied online with the Townsville Writers & Publishers Centre and I’m checking into volunteering with a few of the local literary community groups.” She smiles proudly.

Yep, she’s doing this all on her own.  Stay the fuck out of the way Grey.  You fucked this up once, I’m not gonna be here for the fallout if you fuck this up again.

I got it…damn!

“Good to hear Love. If you need help, Christian or you are welcome to contact my PA, Elaine. She’s a whiz with paperwork and she’s gone through the process numerous times. EB hires individuals from all across the globe including interns from the United States. I’m sure she can help you complete the process.” Ana nods.

“Thank you Emmett, I’ll keep her in mind.” Still standing, Ana is determined to leave the two of us alone to talk.

I guess we must look like a pair of lost lambs because she actually takes pity and says, to the both of us, “I’ll be back before either of you realize I’m gone.” We nod our heads.

“Gentlemen, here at home there are a few rules.” We both raise an eyebrow at her. “Oh, yes. NO laying hands on one another, NO destroying any inanimate objects and most importantly, NO lying. Be honest with each other no matter how hard it seems or how bad it hurts.”

Emmett and I stare at each other a long while before we nod, reach out to shake hands and say in unison, “Deal.”

Ana smiles and heads off to the Library. Leaving us alone…together.


“I know I sound like a broken record, but I can’t say it enough, you’re a very fortunate man Christian. It’s rare to find such love.” Emmett smiles ruefully at me.

“She saved me Emmett. Look, I’m gonna cut to the chase and I don’t mean in a business sense. I tell Ana everything…period. She knows about the Family Meeting, Carrick sent me documents about my adoption and Ana has helped me sift through the legal nightmare.” He listens attentively without saying a word, his fingers in a steeple over his lips, no doubt to keep him from interrupting me.

“Emmett, I’m tired. I’ve been tired of this subject for a long time. Although I may not show it, I realize family is important and I feel like my birth family let me down. I have no idea where to lay blame. All I have to go on is the abuse and neglect I remember. Like it or not, your sister was a crack addict and a whore. She had a pimp or some other bastard that she tended to who beat me and used me as his personal ashtray.”

In an uncharacteristic gesture to emphasize my point, I quickly pull off my t-shirt. My eyes blaze with hate and hurt as I whisper to him, “This is what I went through.” I stand up and turn my back to him and whisper again, “THIS is what I went through.” I put my shirt back on and pull out a picture of me, taken when I first appeared in the hospital emergency room. I guess Dad got a copy from the police or the social worker. I can’t imagine him wanting to put this photo in our family album. “This is what I looked like when all was said and done. I didn’t talk for two years after my adoptive parents brought me home with them. I wouldn’t let anyone touch me, including my adoptive parents and brother for fear of the pain I would surely feel when they did. Another person’s touch made me feel as though my skin was on fire. I couldn’t get away fast enough. My mother has only recently been allowed to put her arms around me.” Although he remains quiet, I can see his eyes screaming their apologies. “I didn’t trust anyone Emmett. HELL, I barely trust anyone now.” There, I said it. No prodding, no prepping, just plain and simple.

Emmett gets up, without saying a word, and retrieves his briefcase. He sits it on the coffee table between us, opens it and takes out three manila envelopes. He hands me one and says, “This is not scientific proof. I have that as well. I believe I know you well enough to understand your need for concrete evidence to support what I’ve already told you; for it to be valid in your mind. I believe this will begin the process.” He releases the envelope to me and sits back against the seat cushions.

I don’t say a word. I break the seal on the envelope and dump the contents out on the coffee table. It’s filled with pictures. A young pregnant girl laughing with a smiling young man, the same couple walking along the beach holding hands then the same two seated, watching the sunset.

It seems like there are hundreds of pictures of this young couple. She’s breath-taking, absolutely gorgeous. As much as I tell Ana she’s beautiful, this young girl is even more so. Her clear blue eyes, long auburn hair and petite size make her a ringer for Ana and Ella, but it’s the shape of her eyes, her nose, her mouth, even her jawline that are familiar to me. where have I seen that look before? My eyes widen and I look up at Emmett, “She looks like me.” I whisper. I can barely speak.

Emmett smiles, “On the contrary my dear Nephew, you look like her. My sister was a beautiful girl. This dashing young man is your father. You get your height from him.” Emmett smiles as he remembers something. He looks up to see the question in my eyes, “We always made fun of your mother’s size. When she found out she was pregnant, our mother, your grandmother, was worried about Ellie’s health. Christian was 6’7” and 200 or 225 pounds. There was no doubt you were going to be a big baby. Mom worried how Ellie would carry you and how difficult your delivery would be on her. Of course she had no trouble and even managed to have a natural childbirth. Your father and I were both there.” Emmett smiles again, broader this time, like he won a gold medal. “He fainted when he heard her scream and saw the first tinge of blood. After we rolled his carcass out of the way, I tended to my sister and helped you come into the world.”

The picture of him cutting the umbilical cord is among the photos, “It was the proudest day of my life. More so than my wedding or the birth of my own children.” He shakes his head again, clearly chastising himself. “Forgive me. I get extremely emotional when it comes to my sister and her son. My daughter tells me it’s improper to feel like I do, but I can’t help it. My little sister was our princess and her son was the crown prince of our family.” After a few minutes he mumbles, “I miss her so much…still.”

“These are sentimental and of no concrete value to you, I understand.” I can’t form the words to tell him how much this does prove to me. There are pictures of my parents, my natural parents and me, each of them holding me, kissing my forehead and my little fingers grasping onto theirs. Pictures of me with Emmett, a teenage boy I believe is Everett and even sleeping on Edward’s chest, His hand laying protectively on my back! while a woman leans over his shoulder to kiss my head. Everyone is smiling so broadly. All eyes are on me, as if I wasn’t real. I take a deep breath and release it in what would approximate a stutter.

I’ve never conceived of such happiness at my presence. I’ve never believed anyone could enjoy my being alive. It’s bittersweet to see this young family enjoying this happy time, being told this is me and mine, but having no recollection of it. I feel lonelier than I ever have in my life. I never believed I would think this but…I want to go back. I wish like all Hell I could remember this. I’d give all I own to be that boy in that family with that love around him. I’m not just bought out of my reveries, I’m snatched away from them when Emmett says, “This envelope”, he hands me the second sealed manila envelope, “contains your Birth Certificate, Genetic Coding for each member of our family and Christian Ryan’s family who was alive at the time of your birth as well as Paternity Testing. Edward had it all done in a desperate attempt to disprove Ryan was your biological father.” The scathing look on Emmett’s face speaks volumes.

“Edward never liked Ryan, even before Ella became pregnant. He didn’t want Ryan to have any kind of foothold in our family so much so he would rather his daughter have slept with more than one man as long as he could prove Christian Ryan was not your father. Edward was obviously not concerned about how the entire experience would affect you or your mother, as long as his point was proven.” I inwardly shake my head. I know the need for that kind of control. I know the need to be that right, to be that disparate to have my way.

Genetic?

“In this instance, the plan backfired on him. Christian was man enough not to hold the situation against Edward and gentlemanly enough not to rub his nose in it. Mom was livid; that’s her in the photo with you and Edward. She refused to speak to Dad and refused to sleep in the same bed as her husband. She spent all of her time with you and your mother trying to comfort her and make sure you felt loved and cherished. You were much too young to feel otherwise, but Mom was a firm believer that children can sense emotions in the aura of those around them. She didn’t want you to have any inkling anything was amiss in your family. Everett was young teenager. He knew something wasn’t right, but he didn’t understand exactly why we were all on tenterhooks. So he took his queues from his grandmother and was the best cousin he could be to you. Eran and Emerson, while older than you were still young and in their own world, even back then. Of course, little Ellie hadn’t been conceived let alone born yet.”

“There was never any doubt in Ryan’s, Ellie’s or my mind about him being your father, but when the test results solidified everything, Edward went off the deep end. I managed to secure the original test results and have had them in my personal safe deposit box since the day they arrived. I gave Ryan a notarized copy for his records and Mom asked for a copy as well. I don’t believe Edward ever knew where the results ended up.” With that statement, a gleam of mischievousness lights up his eyes, but in a flash…it’s gone.

“After Ellie died and I couldn’t find you, I swore I would have these records on hand, should you come back one day and require proof as to the validity of my claim. All of the documents are notarized and witnessed by a disinterested third party. Everyone’s contact information is in the envelope in case you want to speak with them, have them deposed or run background checks. Do with the documents what you will.” I read each piece of paper, not letting one letter pass me by. This is more important than any fucking contract I’ve ever read. This is a record of my life.

I’m lost in the words when he clears his throat for me to look at him, ahem. “Christian, in here, he hands me the third sealed manila envelope, is your inheritance.” I stop breathing.

“My what?” I can barely get the words out, because my throat’s so fucking dry.

“Your inheritance Nephew. Edward is an arrogant, hostile, manipulative bastard, but he has a heart of gold and will give you the shirt off of his back. He’ll tolerate a lot, but he’s not quick to trust anyone.”

“While I love my father dearly, we are very different men. I have a persona that suffers me through my professional life, I have an evil streak that lives to fight everyday and will do so to the death then I have a softer side I reserve for my children. The three seldom, if ever, cross paths let alone meet.”

Hmm, Dom, Street Brawler and Big Brother…sound familiar?

I’m not talking to you tonight.

Whatev.

No seriously, not tonight. If anything, I need you to help me pay attention and absorb as much of this as possible.

I gotcha back kid.

“If you like, we can discuss this last.” I swallow hard.

“I’d rather not discuss it at all Emmett. I have my own company. I don’t want anything from you. You have four children to consider. I’m noth…”

“DAMMIT CHRISTIAN! Stop right there. You have scientific evidence of your parentage. You have photographic evidence of your relationship with Ella, Ryan, me. Hell, there are pictures of us all, as a family, including Edward and my sons. There are pictures of Mom, Ella and my wife is in there as well. My daughter had not been conceived at the time of the photos. What more do you want?” I want to say he’s pissed because that’s a word and feeling I’m very familiar with, but I can’t say that about him right now. He’s not mad at me, he is mad and I’m certain he’s mad at himself and maybe Edward, but not at me. No, when he looks at me, I see hurt, pain, grief and sorrow in his grey eyes. All are emotions I understand so well in an expression I’ve carried for many years.

“Fellas, how’s everything going?” Right on cue, my Ana appears in the living room. Neither of us heard her come in.

“I apologize for raising my voice Anastasia.” Emmett says to her contritely.

I manage to straighten out my facial features and say, “We’re good Baby. We just got a little heated, but all’s well.” I plaster a smile on my face in the hopes that she’ll let it die. I believe she will. Ana’s not one to make a scene, especially in front of someone she considers company.

Curious about the mess of papers and pictures, she walks closer to us then stops abruptly and raises an eyebrow at Emmett and I, “You both understand there’s no cleaning staff here. You both will sort this mess out and return this living room to its original condition.” Those were commands, not questions and not statements…commands. “Do you gentlemen understand me?” She has her arms crossed over her chest, feet shoulder-width apart and her best authoritative look on her face. Domme Steele…hmmm.

Emmett and I look at one another then back at Ana before responding in unison, “Ma’am, yes ma’am.”

“Good, now, would either of you like dessert or would you rather continue your conversation?” Emmett and I look at each other again, gauging each other’s expressions and reading each other’s body language. Emmett nods at me.

“No to the dessert Baby and yes, I believe we will keep talking for a while. That is if you’re up to it Emmett.” I can’t demand he sit here and be grilled, but he seemed so eager to talk with me, to give me as much information as he could, to be open with me. I’m hoping he won’t take off yet. I guess I had a hopeful look on my face because his eyes soften and the look of pain fades ever so slightly.

“Nephew, I promised to give you all the proof I had, tell you everything I knew and answer, to the best of my ability, any and all questions you asked, of course I’m up to it. I have a good feeling we’ll tell each other when we’ve had enough. The next conversation can be had at my home if you like.” My eyes widen and I feel my heart begin to race.

We’re NOT going back to that place!

“Um…no.”  I get queasy just thinking about being there.  “I have no desire to return to the Family Home.”

Much to my relief, as well as surprise Emmett says, “I understand, not the Family Home, my home. I have a place of my own, not far from here actually. I generally don’t stay in my father’s home, but last night, between work and our meeting, I was spent. There was no way I’d make it home safely, so I opted, wrongly, to stay at the Family Home. I won’t make that mistake again…ever.” He mutters the last sentence to himself. I have to listen closely to hear what he’s saying.

“Why was it a mistake for you to stay there?” He looks at me shocked. “If you’re willing to open up to me then I’m going to ask you about you and the Crac…” the look on his face and the images of the girl in the pictures stops me, “I mean my…your sister’s lives.” that’s the best I can do.

Ana slowly takes a seat beside me then gestures for Emmett to move closer to us. “Christian, may I?” I know what she’s going to say.

Let her get the ball rolling. I simply nod my head and lower my eyes.  I don’t want to be here anymore.

“Emmett, how much has Christian told you about himself and his life with his birth-mother?” Always so politically correct.

It’s the English Lit Major coming out.

It’s the kind, compassionate Human Being in her.

Touché.

“He told me he was abused, neglected and abandoned. He told me the condition of my sister, from what he remembers. I’m not able to reiterate his words without becoming in-sensed Anastasia, please, don’t make me say them. I don’t treasure thinking of my sister and nephew in those conditions.” She nods her head as she listens to him intently.

“I would never force you to call your sister out of name Emmett. Christian was very young when he suffered the abuse and neglect he told you about. When your sister died and he was taken away from her body…” Emmett gasps.

“Taken away from her body?” He looks at me in bewilderment, “I didn’t know you saw her dead Christian.”

“She died with me present, it took four days for someone to find us. I can honestly say the feelings of abandonment came about when the police took me away from her. I remember calling for her and begging the police to put me down. All I wanted was to stay with her, even though she never protected me or saw to my needs I wanted to stay with her.” I frown deeply at that thought. How stupid was I?

It’s not stupidity. Like Steele told you, you were four and you loved your mother. What four-year-old child doesn’t love their mother? You became bitter over time. As your vocabulary expanded, so did your epithets toward your mother. You didn’t always refer to her as the ‘Crack-Whore’. She was ‘mommy’ to you at one point in time, whether you remember it or not.

I don’t know what happened after that. I saw Anastasia sitting next to me then I felt myself being jerked into a standing position. I expected to be met by Emmett’s fist. Holding me by my shoulders, an arms-length away from himself, looking me directly in the eyes he tells me with fervor, “Christian, I can’t apologize to you enough. I don’t know how to make you see that the situation you were exposed to was not the norm for her or for you. My sister loved you. Our family loves you. I failed to protect you both and I failed miserably in my search to find you. Please forgive me…please.”

I don’t know what to say. I never dreamed this scenario existed, let alone that I would come face to face with it. “Emmett…I…I mean…” before I can formulate a response, I’m engulfed in a super human hug. He caught me off guard, but I don’t tense up and I don’t push him away, instead, I return the gesture with an intensity I’ve never experienced. Before Ana, Mia was the only person who was ever allowed close to me or to hug me. Yet here I stand, hugging this grown man with no fear. I sense his regret and self-admonishment. It’s oozing from his essence. When I hear a small sob from him, I know what I have to do.

Still holding the older man I need to calm his mind and easy the pain in his soul. I draw from the times Ana’s comforted me, “Emmett…Emmett stop. This is not your fault. You’re as much a victim as your sister or me. You and I are alive and we can start from here.” He takes a deep breath and with one last strong squeeze, he releases me. He’s still very emotional and embarrassed to have tears running down his cheeks.

When we hear a small sniffle, we remember she’s here. Emmett speaks first, “I apologize Anastasia. I didn’t intend to disrupt your home or your happiness.” His eyes shift between Ana and I as he says this. “I’ll go. I’ve tormented you each enough for a lifetime. Thank you for speaking with me Christian and thank you for your kindness and hospitality Anastasia.”

He grabs his jacket and quickly turns to leave the room when we both yell, “EMMETT NO! DON’T LEAVE, PLEASE!”

I’m rooted to my spot, but Ana jumps to her feet and strides over to grab him by his waist and hold him in place until I find the ability to move. She looks up at him, “Emmett please don’t leave. Christian needs you and you need him. You’re his family, his natural family and he needs you now more than ever. You obviously love him and need to share as much of yourself and your sister with him as you can. To say that you have catching up to do is a grave understatement. You can’t retrieve those lost years and you can’t take away the old pain, but you can learn about one another now and move forward as a family…together.” She stands between us looking from one to the other. Family means so fucking much to her.

Emmett looks at me and gives me a small smile that doesn’t reach his sad, grey, tired eyes. I make my way over to he and Ana, I reach out my arm and place a hand on his shoulder, “Uncle, please stay.” Dumbfounded by my choice of address no doubt, he simply nods and hugs Ana back as she rocks him side to side.

“My words were sincere Emmett. I wasn’t just talking. I meant what I said. We’re all victims in this. At least we have this time together. I’d like to get to know you. I gave Ella that opportunity. I see no reason why I can’t give you the same.” Emmett nods his head again before walking back to the living room with us.

We spend the rest of the evening and well into the early morning talking about the pictures and the past. Emmett knew quite a bit about me, but there were still particulars he didn’t know. I thought long and hard about what to tell him and what to keep to myself. He and Ana could see the wheels spinning in my mind throughout the conversation. They called me on it every time. “Nephew, this is not an inquisition. You don’t have to share anything you don’t want to and you don’t have to have a reason why. We are all entitled to our privacy; except in business I’m afraid, but then I’m certain you understand that.” I nod.

“I most certainly do. Emmett, it’s not that I want to…I mean it’s just that…” I sigh. “The things I have to share aren’t pretty and they aren’t pleasant until I reach the point where I met Anastasia.” I look at Ana, “You may not agree Baby, but I was there, I know.” She doesn’t say a word. Those baby blues speaking volumes to me. She knows my pain, she feels it and she wants so badly to take it away.

“Emmett, I drank and fought, a lot, I got into a lot of trouble and was kicked out of a few schools. I dropped out of Harvard when I was almost finished. Business-wise, I’ve done well for myself, but personally, I’ve made horrendously poor decisions and monumental mistakes, all of which caused me a lot of anguish that I felt I deserved…I still do.” I say the last few words looking at Ana, just in time to see a tear roll down her cheek.

“Baby, don’t cry for me, please. You know I can’t stand to see you cry. Please don’t waste your tears on me.”

“Anastasia…Love”, Emmett gets Ana’s attention, “you must be exhausted. Go on to bed.” She smiles weakly at him then looks to me.

“He’s right Baby. He and I function just fine on little to no sleep. You, my dear, are not so fortunate.” I lean over and give her a quick kiss. She hugs Emmett as if his life depended on it then heads off to our bedroom.

She stops when she reaches the doorway and turns back to face us. “You both deserve to be happy. Please be good to one another. I believe you each can be the key to ending the other’s pain. Good night.” She doesn’t wait for either of us to respond. I don’t think either of us knows what to say. Could we somehow ease one another’s souls? Can I help him let go of the pain he carries? Can he help me let go of mine? Do we even want to delve that deeply into one another’s minds?

“Nephew,” the sound of his voice brings me out of my musings, “I’m about to earn your absolute rancor and for that I apologize. While I meant what I said about not having to divulge your personal demons to me, I want to know Christian. I want to know what happened to you, with my sister and without.” His worried look mirrors the one I feel when Ana refuses to talk about Husband Number Three.

“You haven’t said what stifled your happiness Christian. You were a wonderful child, energetic, strong willed, curious and always thinking of others. What caused that to change?” I swallow hard.

“Emmett, you’re not going to like the things I have to say or the way I say them.” I try to prepare him for what he thinks he wants to know.

Grey, think before you speak.

What! He asked the question. Remember, be careful what you ask for?

All I’m saying is choose your words carefully. How would you feel if some man told you Mia was a crack addict who let her pimp beat your nephew?

I know what you’re saying and I understand the sentiment, but this shit is at the crux of who I am and why I’m this way. Paraphrasing diminishes the explanation.

Emmett watches me closely while I struggle with myself. Eventually he says, “Nephew, you’ve already told me Ella was a crack addict. You’ve already shown me the cigarette burns that litter your torso. What else happened to you? I need to know.”

I take a deep breath to steady my feelings. I have to preface this conversation. “Emmett, I’ll try to be respectful in the words I use, but that’s all I can promise. Please, keep in mind I hate this subject, I hate being put on the hot seat and you will reciprocate by telling me what happened in your life during this period of time.” I raise an eyebrow for emphasis and Emmett nods.

Simply put, I proceed to tell him everything. We discuss her drug abuse, the physical and verbal abuse, the filth, the hunger and ultimately his sister’s death, but in much greater detail. I describe my dreams and how they haunt me to this day. We move on to my being taken to the emergency room and how Grace and Carrick Grey, my Mom and Dad, saved me.

I tell Emmett more than I actually planned to about my childhood, my adolescence and even my adulthood. We discussed it all. I mean all. My shrinks, drinking and fighting, my fear of being touched and how it affected me socially. The fact there were never any girls in my life and how my family, and pretty much the world, believed I was gay. I was surprised when he admitted he thought the same thing.

Of course, all of that lead to the first time Elena slapped me to the last beating I took before becoming a Dom and all of the lies I told to be with her. We talked about Harvard and how history pretty much repeated itself, except for the drinking; some fights, no girls and my monsters plaguing me. We talked about my rowing and still keeping in touch with Elena, even if I couldn’t see her as much as I wanted.

As the hours went by we talked about the various women I have paraded in and out of my BDSM lifestyle and what it did and didn’t mean to me versus my subs. When we finally reach the part where Ana stumbled into my office, I’m spent. It was a very long and very emotionally charged conversation on both our parts.

I could see the anger, pain and disgust he felt about everything that happened to me, especially the abuse and molestation. He didn’t lecture me though or try to psychoanalyze any part of my narrative, which I greatly appreciated and I told him so. I didn’t want this to be a Flynn Session.

“Emmett, are you gonna be alright?” He’s placed his hands over his mouth and simply shakes his head no. “Do you want me to call Ella or Everett?” He still shakes his head no. “Would you like to rest? There are several guest rooms here. Please make yourself at home. You’re not fit to drive anywhere after the discussion we’ve had.” When did I become concerned for his safety? He’s a grown man for fucks sake.

Around the same time you felt the compulsion to open up. Face it Grey…

Later, remember?

Yeah, Laters baby.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 22 Can We Leave…Now?

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 22 | Can We Leave…Now?

GREY

“Good morning all.” Ella breezes into the kitchen like nothing occurred last night. She’s dressed for a workout, but somehow there’s something more. Her stride is determined, her stature seems cold and her expression impassive. Something is spinning in her mind. I’m hoping it has nothing to do with me.

“You look wonderful Ellie. Where are you off to this morning?” Her grandfather asks without raising his gaze from his newspaper. This must be a practiced platitude. She doesn’t bother to look at him either as she mills about the kitchen preparing to leave. I look at Everett who immediately mouths ‘shut up’ to me.

“I’m off to meet Benedict Arnold and beat the shit out of him before I go to the gym.” I sputter into my coffee while Ana and Everett smile as the liquid dribbles down my chin. “Oh! Hello Anastasia. How are you this morning?” Ella gives Ana a bright smile, which Ana returns.

Still not lowering his newspaper, Edward interjects, “You will do no such fucking thing young lady. He followed my instructions perfectly. Do not bother him.”

Everett laughs out loud, “Trust me Granddad, it’s no bother. Is it Ellie?” The two wink at each other.

“Nope,” she pops her ‘p’ “no bother at all.” She grabs a danish and strides out of the room. Her grandfather isn’t quick enough to grab her arm and nearly falls off his stool at the breakfast bar. Ella simply giggles as she leaves the house.

Edward rights himself and returns to his reading. “Everett, did I hear you say something?” Still with a smile on his face Everett turns to me and rolls his eyes.

“Such as…” He says with a bit of an edge in his voice.

“Such as anything. Do not encourage Ellie’s temper tantrums Everett.”

“I don’t have to encourage them Granddad, you all seems to do that enough. I am, however, going to sit back and enjoy the show.” Turning his attention to me Everett asks, “Do you have plans for today Christian? You and Anastasia are welcome to go sailing with us this afternoon?” Us? Who the fuck is us? If he means those shit heel brothers of his he can kiss my ass.

Anastasia can sense my reservation so she speaks up, “Actually Everett, we do have plans. Thank you for asking though.” No doubt shocked at her assertiveness Everett nods then backs down immediately.

“My pleasure.” He returns to his food. The peace is suddenly obliterated by the distinct sound of infantile bickering. I can’t determine the voice, although I know it’s a phone call because we only hear one side of the conversation. It has to be either Laurel or Hardy.

“Yeah, I heard the racket last night, who didn’t?  I recognized Dad having his bad dream, but right before that I would’ve sworn there was a little kid crying for his mommy” the voice on this end of the phone says.  My body stiffens and Ana places her hand on my shoulder.  Everett moves his gaze toward the door, not acknowledging my reaction to the comment.  I can actually hear a growl boiling in his throat.

DAMN!

I’m saying…

“You know how Dad gets. He’s probably stressed over his meetings this morning. yeah, I know. We keep telling him to lighten up. Hey, did you stay for the powwow? Oh yeah? Shame… I’d like to know how it went. I bet Everett gave that fucker what he had coming to him. Bastard thinks he can worm his way into this family. He needs to take his ass back across the pond. I haven’t seen Ev yet, but when I do I’ll…” The prick stops cold as he enters the kitchen area staring at Edward, Everett and me.

“You’ll do what?” Everett snaps. His jaw clenched and his hand fisting the fork in it.

“Lemme let you go Em. No, I’m good…I’m good. I’ll give you a ring. Yeah. Cool. Bye.” Eran never took his eyes off of his brother throughout the last bit of his exchange with whom I believe was Emerson.

“Morning Ev…Granddad. Hello Anastasia.” He greets everyone, except me, but he narrows his beady blue eyes and stares at me through his greetings. Can anyone spell childish? This fucker has absolutely no fucking home training whatsoever. I’m at a total loss. This little piece of dogs shit comes from the same family as Ella and Emmett? As much as I can’t fucking stand Edward, I don’t see how this Trust Fund Toddler is related to him.

Everett is still staring at his little brother. His fist so tight around the fork I can see the damn piece of metal bending. “Answer me you fucking dram of dick dripping. You’ll do what when you see me?” Elliott has never addressed me the way Everett is speaking to his brother. From the corner of my eye I see Edward in the same stance as Everett. Both men seeming to dare Eran to say the wrong thing or make the wrong move.

Do these to fuckers think we can’t hold our own with this arrogant bastard?

llons-nous leur donner une démonstration?

Somehow, I don’t believe showing our ass will be necessary.

I put down my coffee cup, place my elbows on the counter in front of me and lace my fingers together in front of my mouth, as if I were praying, “Good morning Eran. We did have an interesting conversation last night and it was wonderful of you and your brother to leave us in peace. We were able to accomplish a lot without either of your intrusion. Thank you for that gesture.” I hope I conveyed enough sarcasm. When I see his brow furrow and steam come out of his ears I know I put the proper spit into my words and my voice.

Still failing to acknowledge me Edward issues a warning, “Eran…” I cut him off by putting my hand in the air. I almost call the ole bastard ‘Granddad’ just to spite Eran, but I don’t want to lull Edward into a false sense of security where I’m concerned. This deal is far from over.

“Edward, don’t bother.” I return my gaze to Everett and say, “Everett, I’m speaking with Emmett this evening. If you would like, you are welcome to accompany him to our home.”

Everett nods thoughtfully and without missing a beat says, “I would enjoy talking with you more Cousin. I will let you have some private time with Dad first. Here’s my number,” he reaches into his breast pocket and retrieves one of his business cards,“ I apologize for the formality. Give me a call when you feel comfortable and we can get together and talk as well.” He hands me the card then gives my hand a firm shake before rising from his seat to leave the kitchen.

Everett steps into Eran’s path as the older brother makes his exit. Everett shoulder bumps Eran, pinning the younger man against the wall, then pokes a finger in his little brother’s chest as he issues a venomous threat, “If you start any shit, I’ll know about it and I’ll be sure to finish what I started the other night.” Eran’s eyes widen and he nods his head quickly.

What the fuck went on the other night?

Everett doesn’t say another word. He simply nods, steps back and continues on his way. Eran rubs the spot on his chest where Everett poked him and mutters some protest to himself, but I’m not able to clearly make out what he said.

“Christian?” Ana lays a hand on my arm.

As Eran spins around to face us all once again, I refuse to take my eyes off of him. “I’m fine baby.” I say as I rub her hand.

Ana’s grip tightens on my arm and she says, “Yes you are Love. However, I need to get back home so I can continue my job hunt.” My head whips back to her.

Job hunt? Does that mean she’s staying…with me…here?

Not now Grey, this is none of these fucker’s business.

I agree whole-heartedly. I see Edward raise an eyebrow and look at Ana. Aside from glaring at Eran, he hasn’t made eye contact with anyone thus far this morning.

Why the fuck is he looking at Ana?

I don’t know and I don’t care. I know my eyes are on fire when I feel Ana kiss my cheek in an effort to bring my attention back to her.

“Alright baby. Let’s get the fuck out of here.” Ana’s smile is undoubtedly bright and she’s as eager to get away from this Hell Hole as I am.

I stand and pull out her chair then take her tiny hand in mine and brush a kiss across her knuckles before we extend our thank yous and goodbyes to Edward Brown. Eran can kiss my ass.

“You are most welcome Anastasia and I am certain you will find a career option to suit you. Until next time Grandson” a bit of smugness in his voice. He just doesn’t give up does he?

“Goodbye Mr. Brown.” I say with as much finality as I can muster.

With that, Ana and I make a break for it.

ELLA

That fucker better be at Our Spot. If he’s not, I’ll hunt his ass like the dog he is and teach him about lying to me. Here I was feeling guilty for not including him in something that was family business and he and Granddad are working to undo all the good I accomplished.

When I pull up and park I see his car. I practically run to the jetty and out to its far end. “BECKETT! YOU MOTHERFUCKING SON OF A BITCH! How DARE you interfere in my family’s dealings.” I didn’t run far, but I’m panting for breath so hard you’d think I just finished the Magnetic Island Run.

Slowly, he turns around to face me. When he looks down at me I see Liam’s emerald green eyes are bloodshot. He doesn’t cry. I’ve never seen any emotion other than anger and elation on his face. Liam’s a very passionate person but his pendulum swings back and forth so fucking far and fast, presstisimo isn’t an accurate description. You have to expect one thing and be able to deal with another. I guess that’s the case right this moment.

“Ella, I never meant to hurt or anger you. Your grandfather wanted to feel Grey out. You know how you all feel about apathy. He wanted to be certain Grey wasn’t too far gone for you to reach him. The only emotion you Browns seem to understand is anger so…I was enlisted to annoy or better yet anger the Great Christian Grey in order for your grandfather to make his decision. Hate me if you like, but I stand by what I did because ultimately it helps your family.”

Then he turns his back and resumes gazing at the sea, as if that’s the end of the conversation.

Well, he’s obviously said all he intends to.  Are you going to hand him his head because he was following your grandfather’s orders?

This isn’t the fucking military and you can’t get away with that ‘I was just following orders’ bullshit.

“Liam.” He doesn’t turn around. “Liam Jared.” Still nothing. Fuck! “Liam Jared Beckett! Damn you! Turn the fuck around and look at me.” When he turns around this time, those same beautiful green eyes aflame with anger. Now that I can deal with, bring it on motherfucker.

“Whatever the fuck your problem is you need to take this shit up with your high and mighty grandfather. I don’t have the time to deal with these pissy-ass temper tantrums you’re entirely too fucking old to have in the first fucking place. Grey is one of you that’s for damn sure” he doesn’t take a breath, the *Energizer Bunny* keeps right on going.

“Your grandfather wanted to be sure you bat-shit crazy bastards could reach into that hateful heart of his and pull Grey into your tainted light. Mission accomplished. I earned my medal now take your brat-ass back home and stomp your little foot at your Granddad.”

His chest is heaving, raising and lowering just as fast as mine. We’re nose to nose, which takes some doing on his part considering he’s more than a foot taller than me. I’m on my tippy toes and he’s bending down the rest of the way. I’m sure to passersby we look comical.

All of a sudden, there’s a spark in his eye. It’s just a flash and it only lasts for a second, then I see the right side of his mouth turn up and he begins to smile. I mean a one hundred thousand dollar smile that stretches past his eyes all the way to his ears. The Cheshire cat couldn’t smile that big.

“What’s so fucking funny Beckett?” Still on my tippy toes and still pissed, he gives me a peck on the tip of my nose.

“You are, mio Amore.” He’s trying to be sweet because he knows he’s in the shit with me.

Make him squirm.

I step back, cross my arms over my chest. “Humpf.”

“Try again baby. That’s even cuter than you standing on tippy toe.” I hate when he smirks at me.

“Howsabout I give you back that little red box you gave me…that I haven’t bothered to open. Hmmm?” When I look up at him this time his eyes are wide open and he mouth is in the shape of a perfect letter ‘O’.

He quickly throws his hands up in surrender, “Ok, you win.  I still blame it all on the ole man, but what else do you wanna know?” I have a sneaking suspicion about what’s in the box.  I told Liam I wouldn’t open it until this mess with Christian was sorted out.  I figure that’s one of the reasons he was so willing to ‘follow orders’.

“So all of this was about breaking down Christian’s defenses?  Really?” My arms are still crossed, “I’m waiting,” I say as I tap my toe.

Liam sighs, “Not just that, no.”  I look at him like his hair’s on fire so he continues.  “Your grandfather felt bad about whatever happened over Brunch a few weeks ago.  He said he might have undone the good work you’d manage to accomplish.  He needed to open a new avenue to reach Grey.   He didn’t want you involved because Grey might not trust you. Your grandfather didn’t want your name to be dragged through the mud if this idea didn’t pan out.”

I just shake my head. “Liam, Amore, don’t give up your day job and stay out of Brown Family Affairs.”

Paying me no attention whatsoever, Liam swoops me up into his arms and kisses me like there’s no tomorrow the says, “Ma’am, yes ma’am.”

GREY

“Ah…” I say as we both collapse on the couch at home. Our excursion with the Browns gives cause for a fucking vacation. I stretch my arm out over the back of the couch behind Ana, grab her shoulder and pull her to me.

“Did you have fun?” I ask as I kiss her behind her ear and begin to trail kisses down her neck.

She releases a long sigh before announcing, “I can honestly say, no.” I stop mid-kiss to pull back and look into her eyes.

“No?” I have to make sure I heard her correctly. I expected her to make the most of that, scratch that, THIS ridiculous situation.

“That’s right, no, I did not have fun visiting with the Browns.” She crosses her arms over her chest and gives a quick nod of her head as if to say ‘there’. All I can do is smile.

I reach over, put my hands under her arms and lift her onto my lap. She immediately lays her head on my chest and I kiss the top of her head. “Why do you say it like that? We got some information and that’s what we went there for isn’t it?” She nods her head, “Then ultimately it was a productive exercise.”

I stoke her back gently as I explain my next steps. “It’s not over yet baby.” She leans back and looks at me questioningly. “I agreed to talk with Emmett some more, remember?” She nods yes. “Well, he’s coming over here after work and we can continue, without the rest of the family. There’s something about that house. It’s not hospitable and it seems to cause him to hold back. Maybe I’m totally off base and it just affects me that way, but between last night and this morning’s conversations I know he has much more to say than he’s willing to do in that house.”

She lifts her head and stokes my face. Instinctively, I lean into her touch. The action soothes me and calms my mind somehow. “I’m glad you’re willing to listen to him. He seems like such a nice man, there’s heartache behind his grey eyes.” I nod, agreeing with her hypothesis.

“Will you stay with me, when I talk with Emmett?” the anxiety loud and clear in my voice.

“Of course I will Christian, but I thought that wasn’t the way the Browns…” I stop her right there. This is where I’m different, at least where Ana’s concerned. I might not share with the rest of the world, but Ana knows all about me…the bad and the ugly. I want to know everything about this shit, ergo I want her to know everything too.

“There’s no way to be kind about this baby. I’m not a Brown and I don’t do things their way. I may not share my life with the rest of my family, and you know why that is, but I want *you* to know. I need you to know. Ana, you’ve helped me wade through the tumultuous seas of my life. You’ve shown me there’s more to life than money and cars and helicopters,” she smiles at the thought of my list “and there’s more to me. How can I not have you by my side when I talk to a man who claims to be my uncle?” Ana shrugs one shoulder.

I bend over to kiss her cheek and gently bite that shoulder. “I can’t. I need you…always and forever. Besides, it keeps me from having to recount the entire conversation after he leaves.” I smile and wink at her. She slaps my arm and I mouth ‘ouch’.

“I didn’t know you had a conversation with Emmett this morning. He was gone before we all got up for breakfast, when did you two see each other?”

“I couldn’t sleep, so, to keep from disturbing you, I took my laptop and went to the Great Room. Emmett was there, for the same reason obviously.” She nods, in understanding and sympathy I’m sure. “I apologized for interrupting him then he invited me to sit. I went ahead with my work and little by little, we started talking. It got a tad bit emotional once or twice but overall it was nothing too deep. I found him to be quite personable. He reminds me of you in a way.” I look down at my Love and kiss her forehead.

Looking surprised at my statement she asks, “What gave you that impression? Surely that’s not good for business.”

I laugh a little. “What I mean is, he seems genuine. He’s not arrogant or outlandish about his abilities. He’s passionate in his convictions that’s for damn sure, both the positives and the negatives, he has no problem voicing his opinion.” I remember our conversation well.

“We swapped stories about how our companies came to be. Emmett Brown can teach me a lot about being ruthless that’s for damn sure.” Ana gives me a look. “What?”

“He had best not.”

Bossy little thing ain’t she?  Explain to her please.

“It’s a conversational thing baby.  Its not a lecture course or step by step process.  You learn something from a conversation with someone.  Especially when you throw out a question then listen and watch them as they answer.  While he seems low-key there’s no mistaking his ability.  His silence in no way means acquiescence or passivity.  He expresses himself most vividly with his family, but somehow I’m certain that follows him into the office.  Kinda like a quiet hurricane versus my shameless shit-storms.”  She just nods her head.  I know she doesn’t like the idea of adding to my darkness, but this is a useful business talent.

From your family, huh?  I wouldn’t expect anything less.

“Anyway, I tried to get him to fill in some of the blanks in his story, but he reminded me of our meeting tonight.” He seemed eager to share, but not while in that house. Thus, one of the reasons I don’t like it there. The place causes people to go from one extreme emotion to another from happy or euphoric to sad and morose or angry and odious. It’s eerie. “So now I have to wait, and you know…” She raises her hand effectively stopping me.

“…You’re not a patient man.” The giggle that follows her statement ignites my flame. I stand abruptly from the couch, with Ana in my arms and stride out of the living room directly to my study. With her arms around my neck, she looks at me in shock at first then her expression changes to understanding and lust before she asks me, “More virgin surfaces huh?”

I don’t even try to respond to her. I’ve had a hard-on since early this morning and haven’t been allowed to address it. I squeeze her tighter and begin to nibble the shell of her ear. When we reach my study, I leave the door wide open…nobody here but us anyway right. I sit her on my desk and go over to the window on the right side of the room, facing the water. I pull the privacy blinds up and slide the balcony door open so we can feel the warm breeze on our bodies and hear the crash of the ocean waves against the shore.

When I turn back around to face her, Ana has her eyes closed listening to the waves and feeling the breeze waft into the room. I approach her slowly and stop directly in front of her, certain not touch her. I watch the rise and fall of her chest, see her hair move with the slight breeze and feel her excitement with each passing moment. I reach out and gently take her earlobe between my thumb and forefinger, to caress. “You like that sound don’t you baby.” She nods. “You like the feel of the breeze on your face?” She mouths, ‘yes’, this time.

I bend over and touch my lips to hers then slowly, lightly I lick her upper lip only to feel her hum in pleasure. I lick her lower lip, silently asking her to part them. When she does I suck her bottom lip into my mouth and nibble on it. She runs her hands up my forearms, to my biceps, my shoulders, around my neck and into my hair, pulling me closer to her, sealing our lips firmly together. I open my mouth in an appreciative moan and she takes full advantage of me, by sliding her tongue into my mouth then gently stroking my tongue with hers. “You taste divine Christian, simply divine.” She whispers to me.

I run my hands down her sides, her hips to her thighs. I push her legs open and stand between them. She runs her hands down my shoulders, my back then grabs my ass hard and pulls me closer. “What do you want Christian”, she murmurs against my lips. “Tell me baby” Then she slides her hands around my waist moving to my belt buckle. I grab her left hand and rub it over the front of my jeans and my now rock-solid erection. With each stroke, her hand moves further and further between my legs. When she reaches my balls, I shiver involuntarily and moan out loud. “What do you want Christian? Tell me baby,” she repeats.

I pull away from her, her hand still stroking me, to look directly into her eyes, without blinking I respond, “I want you Anastasia. I want to be deep inside you. I want to feel your hot, dripping wet pussy kissing my cock, swallowing my cock, sucking the come from my cock. Can I have that from you baby? Will you give that to me?” She smiles and lets her hand linger on my balls to massage them so softly.

I grab her hand again and place it back against my erection, silently telling her not to move it. We kiss hard and long, all the while I unbutton her blouse, unclasp her bra and free her exquisite breasts almost all at the same time.

Damn I’m good.

She lies back and lifts her skirt above her hips so she can put her legs around my waist.

I lean over her, across my desk, and say “These panties are lovely Anastasia, but…” I kiss her lips…her nose…her cheek. When I get to her ear, I rip the obstructing garment from her body and whisper, “…they’re in my way. You like when I do that don’t you baby?” She nods. “Good, because I love doing that to you. I love ripping your clothes off so I can get to this luscious body of yours.” I blow gently on her ear, down her neck and on down toward her nipple. I stop just short of my goal and repeat my action on the other side of her body, again missing my mark. Each time I’m rewarded with a whimper.

“Put your heels on the edge of the desk baby.” I say as I blow a warm breath across her stomach and down to the tasty triangle between her legs. I don’t kiss her there. I don’t touch her there. I can smell her arousal and I breathe it in. I stand up and look down at my beautiful fiancée. The love of my life and remember a time, not so long ago when this scene would be very different. My mindset was different. The circumstance behind this interaction would be different. The thought disturbs me and I shake my head, ridding myself of the depressing thought and put my hands around Ana’s dainty ankles.

I massage up to her supple calves then to the soft spot behind her knees. My hands continue the journey up to the outside of her shapely thighs. Soon, my hands take on a mind of their own as our eyes lock and all cognitive processes turn off. I run my hands over the top of her thighs then between them and slowly part her legs some more. “You look fabulous Ana. You have gorgeous legs. Put those killer stilettos on my shoulders baby.” She does as I ask and I pull her ass flush against my groin. I kiss her ankles and her calves and move each leg, one at a time, so I can kiss the soft, sweet flesh on the inside of her knees. My pants are tightening even more as my erection begs for attention.

Staring at one another, I resume her leg massage, from her ankles to her calves, her knees and up the outside of her thighs. I do this repeatedly. The sun, the breeze, the sound through the open window and the knowledge that the door to my study is wide open all heighten the eroticism of our actions. Ana’s breast on display for all to see, her skirt pushed above her hips and her legs on my shoulders, “Anyone could hear us baby. Anyone could see us. Do you even care?” She still can’t speak. She just shakes her head and enjoys the ministrations of my hands.

When I look down her body, I can see her chest rising and falling quickly, her breath coming in short pants, her nipples are ripe for the sucking and her folds are glistening. “Do you want me yet baby? Do you want to feel me inside you?” She takes a deep breath to steady herself. The twinkle of lust I see in her eyes is unmistakable. Keeping her legs on my shoulders, I unbuckle my belt, unbutton then unzip my jeans allowing the hindering garment to fall to the floor so I can pull my aching cock out into full view.

I only touch the tip of my cock against her lowest lips then slide him up her slick folds all the way to her clit. She shivers a bit at the contact and starts to close her eyes, a blissful expression on her face. “Keep your eyes open baby. I want to see you enjoy me. I want you to see me enjoy you.” I push myself into her a fraction at a time until she surrounds me to the hilt then I swivel my hips to be sure I tucked as far inside of her as I can be. The motion make her gasp. I hold her around her waist preventing any movement on her part. She can’t grind against me, she can’t move away from me, she can feel me, see me and hear me. “Don’t close your eyes Anastasia, not even for a second. I need to see you baby.”

I stand still, deep inside her, feeling her walls contracting and relaxing around me with her every breath. Then I start to move. In no time at all, “Do you hear that baby? Do you hear your pussy kissing my cock, licking my cock? Her walls relax as I slide into her then contract when I withdraw. “Do you feel yourself stoking me, opening up for me? Do you feel me glide into you nice and smooth baby?” Her eyes widen and she nods her head with each question. “I know you want me inside you so badly Anastasia. I know because you close around me when I pull back.” Our ‘intimate kiss’, the guttural sounds coming from deep inside of us both, the breeze through the window and the waves crashing against the shore…that’s all there is.

I keep hold of Ana’s waist as I bend over and lick first one nipple then the other, quickly flicking my tongue over those little, pink pebbles and remembering Ben & Jerry’s & Ana night. I can taste the vanilla flavor right now and my cock gets harder and swells inside of her. “Fuck, that feels so good…Christian…ahhh…yessss” She pants my name and hisses her desire for me.

I stand up again to watch myself slide in and out of her. I watch her pussy taking me in. I hear her pussy licking and sucking me. I feel her pussy consuming me, swallowing me. “Ahhhh baby. You look so beautiful. You like it like this don’t you baby?” She pants and nods, but doesn’t speak. The flash of fervor in her eyes speaks volumes. I slow my stokes, making them more deliberate, making sure she feels every vein on my length, like I can feel every ridge of her walls. I roll my hips so she can feel me all around her. I want her to feel all of me, everywhere inside of her.

My baby girl takes me by surprise. She squeezes her pussy tighter around me and I spread her legs further apart so I can see each contraction. “I want to see you come Anastasia.” She responds by closing her walls around me again. I reach down and begin to gently fondle her clit with my thumb and forefinger. When I see her juices flowing from her I know she’s close. “You’re so ripe baby and you’re all mine. This is mine Ana.” I squeeze her clit and slide balls deep into her. “You’re mine Ana. No other man has seen you this way. No other man has touched you this way. No other man will ever have you Anastasia. You’re so ready to come baby.” She mouths ‘yes’.

I let go of her waist and drape her legs over my biceps, holding them apart. I move her closer to the edge of the desk and begin to pound into her. Her eyes roll back in her head and start to close, “Open Anastasia! Open your eyes!” I command her. “Look at me! I want to see you come!” I pinch her clit, not too hard, but not too soft either.

I swivel my hips and grind into her deeper and deeper…harder and harder…faster and faster. “Ahhh Ana…you feel my balls slapping your ass baby? Oh, fuck that feels so good.” Her pupils dilate so large her eyes look almost black. Her face goes from pink to bright red and her legs begin to tremble. Her clit twitches and I increase the pressure.

“That’s right baby. That’s right. Feel me. Feel me move inside you. Feel me between your legs. Listen to those kisses. Feel the breeze…” we can’t hold out any longer. She gasps then holds her breath as her back rises off the desk. I release her clit and her pussy clamps down on my cock. She looks me directly in my eyes as I tell her, “Come for me baby. You’re sooo fucking beautifulll…AAAHHH…AAANNNAAA!” I come, hard, looking into Ana’s eyes, unseeing, just feeling, her tighten around me, her legs go rigid in my arms and with my last three thrusts I feel my seed pour into her. Finally, I gasp and press myself against her ass…frozen in place. When my balls are empty, I collapse on top of her, still holding her legs in my arms.

When I regain consciousness I feel Ana’s fingers running through my hair. “Hmmm, I love when you do that.” I nuzzle her breasts and hum again causing her to giggle. “No more giggling baby, that’s what started this whole thing, remember?” I look up to see her smiling, obviously proud of herself.

Hey, I ain’t mad.

Me neither.

I stand up and help her into a more stable position on the desktop. “That felt fantastic baby.” I lean down and kiss the tip of her nose and a strong breeze comes through the room causing her to shiver. I button her top, reclaim my pants and close my fly.

“Come. Let’s get you out of here before you catch a cold.” I step back and hold my hand out to her.

She raises an eyebrow to me, “What about you Mr. Grey?”

I pull her into my arms and hold her tightly against the length of my body, “I have you to keep me warm Miss Steele.”


GREY
Allons-nous leur donner une démonstration?
Shall we give them a demonstration?

Laurel and Hardy were a comedy duo of the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema, composed of thin Englishman Stan Laurel (1890–1965) and heavyset American, Oliver Hardy (1892–1957).  The pair became well known during the late 1920s and through the mid-1940s for their slapstick comedy.

Presstisimo, a direction in music; faster than presto

The Energizer Bunny is the marketing icon and mascot of Energizer batteries in North America.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 21 In The Wee Hours

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 21 In The Wee Hours

GREY

Between my nightmare and witnessing Emmett’s, I couldn’t be less interested in sleeping if my life depended on it. I made certain Ana settled into bed then we chatted for a long while before she succumbed to sleep. I hold her and replayed our conversation.

There was something in his eyes Ana.  Some kind of deep pain and…I saw…her there.”

I saw my birth mother in his eyes. I remember that look from one of her lucid moments, after I would brush her hair, as if she was going to miss me. I remember seeing that look in her eyes before she fell asleep…and never woke up again.

Did he really try to find us?   Did he try to find me after she died?

There was more emotion in his eyes than his words conveyed this evening, but I don’t know what it is.  Guilt…remorse…mourning?  I want to know everything Ana.  Is that selfish of me? I want to know everything that happened with him while he was looking.  I want to know if someone stood between me and my natural family.” The newfound determination in my voice surprises Ana. It even surprises me. I want to know. I need to know. I have a right to know.

Ana shakes her head and quietly says, “No Christian, it’s not selfish.  They told you to ask any questions you wanted and they said they would answer you.  If that wasn’t true then they shouldn’t’ have opened Pandora’s Box.”

Ana and I discussed everything I was told at the Brown Family Meeting.  I don’t give a shit about their fucking Rules.  Ana and I can’t keep secrets from one another if we plan to move forward. Not ever again.  I have to man up and tell her everything.

Do you believe him Christian? Do you believe Emmett? It all sounds plausible, but what do you think?  How do you feel about what you heard, both during and now after…” She’s referring to Emmett’s night terror.

I don’t know Baby, I honestly don’t know.  I haven’t been given any proof that they really are my family.” She raises a skeptical eyebrow at me and I smirk at her, knowing what she’s thinking, “Looks aren’t everything Ana.  All I’ve been given is a story.  Albeit very tragic and possibly heartfelt, it’s just a story. I need concrete proof these people are related to me before I can even begin to consider the tale I heard tonight.”

What about the nightmare Christian?  Surely you can understand that.”  Yes, she’s right I can, but anyone can have a nightmare, even a seemingly severe nightmare.  We didn’t see what he saw or feel what he felt at that time so I cant’ discount his terror, however…

Baby, as harsh as it sounds, for all we know that was the guilty conscious of a man who’s just told the lie of a lifetime.“  Her mouth falls open in shock at my statement, but I stand by my statement. “My gut instinct tells me to be very careful where this situation is concerned and I’ve learned to follow my gut instinct.  When I don’t, I suffer grave consequences.”  She nods at me absent-mindedly then snuggles into me. Her back to my front.

I kiss her cheek and let her know, “I told Emmett we could talk again tomorrow.  He has back-to-back meetings so it won’t be until evening.  We can go home and I can make love to you until then.”  I pull her closer to me and grind my erection against her fabulous ass.  When she looks over her shoulder at me I give her my thousand mega-watt smile.  “Wha’da ya say Baby?”

Ana giggles and I kiss her on her nose before she informs me, “We’ll see Mr Grey…we’ll see.” I sigh and wrap my arms around her as she falls off into sweet-dreamland.

My mind continues to race. I want to believe him, for his sake as well as my own. Is it so far fetched? Is it absolutely impossible and if so, why? It just seems too bizarre to be true.

Humpf…truth is stranger than fiction my friend. You are living proof of that as I recall. Your mother was loved and she loved you. We may never know exactly how you ended up in Detroit. I’m sure if we kept hunting we could find out more. Consider the fact that you have family right here in front of you who are willing to tell you their side of things. Remember our conversation about points of view?

I remember, I understand and I’m willing to hear Emmett out. That old fucker on the other hand can kiss my ass. I’m not impressed with Edward. Everett was young and stressed by the events that were affecting his life. No matter what he remembers it’s likely to be skewed.

You mean like yours is skewed when you remember

Don’t fucking go there. That’s different and you fucking well know it! That shit happened to me first hand, it wasn’t simply going on around me. It was all up close and personal.

Do you know what the climate was in this house when Emmett was looking for you? Do you know how Everett felt with his father being away? The man told you he loved you, he’s glad you’re alive and here. Did he believe you were dead? What was going on? You said you wanted to know everything. How far are you willing to go?

“Je ne sais pas. Je ne sais pas”


“Oh, pardon me.  I didn’t mean to disturb you Emmett.”  I decided to look over some spreadsheets while Ana slept.  We’re not at home so I don’t have my piano and Ana’s not comfortable having sex in someone else’s home so…I’m relegated to either lie beside her with an erection or work and try to forget I have an erection. So, with my laptop in hand I ventured to the Great Room only to walk in on Emmett Brown.

“No worries.  You didn’t disturb me Christian.  There’s more than enough room here for both of us.  Would you like something to eat or drink?”  I shake my head and sit down then begin the task of sorting through the hundreds of emails that seem to simply materialize out of nowhere.

We checked this shit before we left home, what the fuck is going on in Seattle?

We work in silence for a while then Emmett speaks up, “I sincerely apologize Christian, to you and Anastasia.”  What is he apologizing for?  My frown gives me away, “For the abominable racket I made earlier this evening.  I hope I didn’t frighten Anastasia…or you.”

The strength from earlier this evening has gone out of his eyes. He looks tired, drained, physically and emotionally.  He looks like he’s lost his best friend with no hope of ever seeing them again.  He looks lost.  I know that look and the feelings that accompany it…well.  If that’s the look Ella described seeing in her father’s eyes, it’s not for the loss of his wife.  He’s still mourning his sister.

I suppose now is as good a time as any.  “You didn’t disturb us Emmett.”  I’m not ready to discuss my nightmares just yet but…  “Are you alright?  You said something about back-to-back meetings tomorrow, today rather.  Don’t you need to get some rest?”  He gives me a weary smile and shakes his head.

“No, Christian, I can function just fine on practically no sleep at all.  A skill I’ve developed over the years. I haven’t slept, decently, since before…”  The far away look never leaving his face…never leaving his eyes.

I take mercy and finish his thought. “Before you lost contact with your sister.” He nods his head slowly and his eyes begin to glaze over with what might be tears. “You loved her very much, didn’t you?” I whisper, still surprised by the concept of someone loving or missing the Crack-Whore.

“I loved my sister very much indeed.  She was the light of our home.  She was carefree and curious, strong and stubborn, the definition of a spitfire.”  He smiles to himself. “She would blowup like someone set off a powder keg then calmly tell you she loved you, kiss you on your cheek and leave the room.  She gave Edward what for on many occasions.”  He smiles to himself as he recalls a memory.  Ever so slightly, his smile fades until a grimace appears, which morphs, bringing us full circle back to the lost look he had a few moments ago.

When he remembers he’s not alone, he looks at me and sighs. “I’m certain you have hundreds of questions for me, don’t you?” I nod. I want to know everything, but I don’t tell him that…just yet.

“How long did you spend looking for her…for us?” I add the last part in an almost desperate attempt to know more about what was going on with people I never knew existed, never dreamed cared about her…or me.

“Not long enough.” He mutters almost to himself.

“Why do you say that Emmett?” He told me he looked everywhere he could think of. He even retraced his steps before starting a new search. Why does he feel he didn’t look long enough?

“I didn’t find you Christian. I didn’t find my sister. My father was notified his daughter was dead then I was arrested while searching for you and trying to arrange for my sister’s return . Had it not been for your father, I don’t know where I’d be. I failed all the way around.” He pauses and runs his fingers through his hair. He takes a deep cleansing breath. “Look, we can take this up later.” Is he getting annoyed at my questions? His attitude won’t deter me.

“How did your wife and sons take you being away from them? Everett seemed…relieved, for lack of a better word, to know who I am, but your other two sons, no offense, behaved like bitches.” There’s no nice way to tell a man his sons are weak and shallow so why try to sugarcoat things. Emmett frowns at my description.

“Eran and Emerson are more thoughtful and intelligent than they seem. While they may not appear to be the epitome of the men in our family, they may surprise you one day Christian.” He doesn’t sound defensive when he responds to me, but I can tell he doesn’t like having to stick up for them either.

“Everett knows what was going on at that time from this end, somehow, I believe he knows more than he lets on. He’s a good bit older than you and conspicuously observant, to the point of being nosey. It’s an attribute that enabled him to work his way up the ladder and earn his role at EB.”

“I told you about my wife. Eran and Emerson seemed oblivious to everything that didn’t revolve around them and little Ella was still a baby. Everett became the man of my portion of the family. Being that man, he gave me a debriefing upon my return and I’m forever grateful. Things were strained between Everett and I, almost to the breaking point, but ultimately he remained on my side. He loves his Aunt Ella to this day just as much as I do and he loves you as well.” He raises an eyebrow to emphasize his statement.

“Everett puts on a good front, that’s why he so successful in the boardroom. He doesn’t have any patience for bullshit so we don’t have him appear when negotiations are underway. Once the deal is made proper, Everett comes in and executes the stipulations of the contract. No emotions, just ‘fuck the world and full steam ahead’. When he gets home, he’s as docile as a Labrador. I’ve watched him interact with Ellie after a ridiculous day at the office and it’s like watching Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It can be quite amusing at times.” He chuckles a bit then goes back to his work.

Our conversation steers back to business as we each rattle off the history of our respective companies. It’s interesting to hear about the accomplishments of EB, Pty and the Brown Family. Ella understated everything she told me, but then that’s her, modest to a fault. There’s another lull in our casual chat. Emmett breaks the silence once again.

“What’s your schedule like day after tomorrow?”  WHAT!  Is he weaseling out on our meeting?  “I’m still interested in speaking with you this evening Christian.  I have a feeling I’m going to open the lid on Pandora’s Box even further and I won’t be able to address all of your questions in one sitting. I don’t know where would be most comfortable for you, but I don’t believe the Family Home is that place.  Am I correct?”

Is it that obvious?

“You’re absolutely correct Emmett, this is not my favorite place in the world.  Who came up with the concept of the ‘Family Meeting’ anyway?  My temper is world renown and it’s never been something I pride myself on, but here, with you all, it seems as though it’s a virtue.”  It goes against everything Grace and Carrick taught me.  I have always felt like a sideshow in the circus of my life when it came to my temper.  In fact, Elliott makes a point of jeering at me when he sees me getting pissed, only to piss me off more.

“No one regards anger or physical violence as a virtue.  Rather we identify it as the honest portrayal of your emotions.  It’s how we gauge a person’s point of view especially when it comes to family matters.  We involve everyone because something that affects one of us affects all of us, directly or indirectly. Everyone has an opportunity to voice his or her opinion clearly, with no question about the meaning, without feeling hindered or obligated to appease anyone else in the group.  Unfortunately, that can lead to bruised egos, hurt feelings and anger. The next natural expression of one of those sentiments must be resolved immediately in order to prevent a worsening of the situation.”

“We love each other fiercely and we get pissed at each other fiercely.  If someone has no interest, no attachment, no reaction to the situation then in our eyes that person doesn’t care and apathy hurts us all.  Like I said we love each other, good, bad, pretty, ugly, right or wrong, we do.  We stick up for one another.  If that means pointing out your errors when we get home then so be it, but that’s none of the rest of the worlds business.”

“We, I wanted to tell you everything imaginable about your mother.  Beginning with the day she was born to the last moments I spent with you and her.  I knew that would be more than you could possibly handle and not address your questions. So everyone agreed to let you make your own inquiries, but you wouldn’t open up.  I don’t mind telling you, was frightened at your reaction.”  The frown on my face caused him to explain further.

“Your impassiveness, in my mind, could be taken in a variety of ways, you didn’t give a fuck and there was no possible way to reach out to you, you were so overwhelmed you didn’t know where to begin or you didn’t believe us and felt we had some diabolical, ulterior motive for speaking with you.  While it would be difficult to break through scenario two or three, there would be no recovering from scenario one.  Once an individual has decided firmly in their heart and mind to disengage from a situation…it’s the point of no return.”

“Apathy, again in my experience, is more than just a state of indifference or suppression of emotion.  You can spur someone who appears apathetic to act depending on how you approach them then the lines of communication flow like a river, which is what happened when Everett ran on about your name.”  Yeah, that fucker’s got a good ass-whipping coming from me for that bullshit.

“An apathetic individual cannot be challenged.  They either don’t see the situation as being worth their time and effort or they don’t have the necessary skills to confront the challenge facing them. Now, just as you are known for your temper you are known to never back down from a challenge, that only left scenario one.  You didn’t see us as being worth your time or effort.”

“We were worthless to you and once you left this house we would never see you again.  You probably would have returned to Seattle and we never would have crossed your mind again. Anastasia would remember us, but she wouldn’t and shouldn’t affect your decisions.   I couldn’t take that chance.” My expression feels blank, but his response tells me that’s not the case.

“Why?” I nod at his question and wonder about his ability to read my mind. “It’s as I said earlier, we love each other fiercely and we get pissed at each other fiercely.  If someone has no interest, no attachment, no emotion toward a situation then in our eyes that person doesn’t care and apathy hurts us all. We love each other, good, bad, pretty, ugly, right or wrong and we stick up for one another.  It affected us all in our own ways when you and Ellie went missing then we learned Ellie was dead then we couldn’t find you.  For all we knew you were dead as well.”  He shudders at the thought.

“I meant what I said Christian, you can blame me for everything that happened.  You can blame me for not finding you in time, you can blame me for not protecting you, but please, I beg you, don’t blame your mother for your ultimate circumstances. She wasn’t world-wise and apparently she got in over her head. I was her big brother.  I was supposed to protect her.  Like it or not, I’m your uncle and it’s my responsibility to protect you as well.  I let you both down and not a second has gone by without my thinking about that.”

Protect me huh? HA, that’s a joke!

Calm down Grey.  You didn’t come in here to start a fight with the man.  Do your work and let him do his.  In the morning we’ll grab Anastasia and get the fuck out of this crazy house.

Damn straight.

“Emmett, you’ll have to forgive me.  My take on this situation is quite different.  I didn’t know any of you existed before a few weeks ago and now there’s a plethora of questions running though my mind.  I can see your pain Emmett.  I’ve been in pain too, for many, many years, and just when the pain begins to lessen something or someone comes along to test the waters.”  My voice is beginning to shake with fury. I’m trying not to take his head off yet get my point across at the same time.  It’s not easy because I want to scream from the rafters that these fuckers abandoned me…abandoned us. Exactly when I began using the word us I don’t know, but it seems fitting.

“Christian…Christian…please, I don’t want to upset you. Please, take care of your work and go back to Anastasia.  I’m sure she doesn’t like waking up in an empty bed.”  I shake my head because she doesn’t and neither do I.

“Good, then it’s settled.  We’ll talk and I’ll give you as many answers as I can.  This evening at your home?”  I nod.  “Fine, good evening…or good morning rather, Nephew.  Enjoy your day.” He stands and leaves the room.  I want to run after him and shake the answers from him right now.

He’s gonna tell you what he knows.  I’m sure he doesn’t want to feed you false information so you’re gonna have to listen well and not interrupt him this evening.

I sigh inwardly. I guess. All I know is this is not what I bargained for when I came to Australia. Nightmares of the Bitch-Troll, the Crack-Whore and her pimp and now meeting my family with its fucked up set of circumstances, what did I do to deserve all of this?

Cela va passer mon ami. And with the love of your life beside you, all will be well.  You’ll see.

Je prie que tu as raison.

Believe me, it will.


Je ne sais pas. Je ne sais pas.
I don’t know. I don’t know.

Cela va passer mon ami.
This will pass my friend.

Je prie que tu as raison.
I pray you’re right.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 20 What A Tale It Is

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 20 | What A Tale It Is

EMMETT

I take a deep cleansing breath to try and steel myself for this tale. We don’t discuss this topic, I simply relive it night after night. I know for a fact I’ll regret this. Nevertheless, Christian has a right to know what went on before the experiences he remembers.

“Christian, Ella attended Harvard.” I tell him. In response to this statement, his eyes begin to glaze over, as if wandering back to his own memories. “Your mother was brilliant Christian. She attended Harvard to get her degrees in Economics, Mathematics and Music. She was an accomplished pianist for her age. I supported her decision, against the express wishes of our father.” I look back over my shoulder to see the anger emblazoned on my father’s face. When I turn to face Christian again, I can feel Dad’s eyes burning holes in my back. He refused to speak to me for the longest time and the more his animosity toward me grew the less I wanted to be his son.

Despite my father, I continue. “I felt she had the right to attend whatever school she pleased. Harvard is a good school and I considered attending there at one point in time. I am not as free-spirited as my sister was so I followed the beaten path and went to Melbourne.” Ella always told me how boring I was to simply ‘do what Dad told me to do’. She somehow believed I was the straightest arrow she’d ever seen.

Oh, my baby sister, how wrong you were.

“Ella became pregnant with you during her sophomore year, when she was home on Holiday. She and your father were ecstatic, our families less so. Ella wanted you, end of story. Ryan wanted Ella, so what Ella wanted, Ella got. She returned to school and worked as hard as she could to remain in Boston up until you were about to burst from her. We convinced her, before it was too late for her to travel safely, to come home and have you. The plan was for you to remain with us while she finished her studies then the three of you would do as your parents saw fit.”

It was all settled. Ellie and Ryan had full say in the matter and they were content with the arrangements. I was proud of she and Ryan at their willingness to negotiate with all of our parents.

“Mum and I made sure Ryan spent as much time as possible with you while Ellie was at school. He is no stranger to us nor was he a stranger to you.” I raise an eyebrow to stress my point.

Mum liked Ryan. The two of them had a connection similar to the one Ellie and Dad shared. Many’s the time Mum would chastise Dad for his treatment of her grandson’s father and soon to be son in law.

“Ellie returned home every chance she got as she stuck it out in school. She was determined to get her degrees. Ella and Ryan had a strong relationship. He supported her efforts and maintained a relationship with you, both in our home, at his own place and with his parents. He was your father in every way, feedings, spit-up, nights without sleep and diapers, oh how much fun I had watching you fire-hose your ole man. Ryan did everything Ellie couldn’t do from across the pond. They were committed to stay the course and each content with the role they would play in the end. Ryan was working for EB at the time. His business acumen proved to be incredible and he had a nice savings accumulated in anticipation of their reunion.”

“The summer following her junior year, Ellie returned home, as usual, for Holiday. She said she missed her son and wanted you by her side. She consulted with your father and he agreed, as long as she stuck to the plan and got her education. Ellie promised Ryan she was dedicated to him and their goal and she would be back, with you, after the school year ended.”

Ryan and Mum did not doubt Ellie’s ability, although they were very leery of seeing her go and take Christian with her. I chocked it up to missing their loved ones. I wasn’t happy with her leaving and taking my nephew with her either, but Christian’s parents agreed and as always, I took Hell fire and brimstone from my father for supporting my sister’s wishes.

“Ellie collected you and went back to Boston, or so we believed. Things went well at the start then, after some time passed, Ryan and I had a Hell of a time contacting her. So, I went to Boston myself to see you both and make certain all was well. I went to her apartment and some woman answered the door, informing me Ella Brown no longer resided at that address and she had no further information. The woman gave me Ellie’s mail, my letters, Ryan’s letters and cards from both of our families, to pass along when I saw her. I went directly to the Bursar’s Office and found out Ellie never returned to Harvard for her senior year. She withdrew before she came home that summer.”

“I contacted Dad and Ryan immediately and together we began to search for you both. Dad’s Security Team, as they called themselves, swore to us the two of you had simply vanished. You could not be found.”

I shake my head, still in disbelief. Those bastards didn’t even look. We later found out they took Dad’s money, repeated our personal investigations then called it a day. They took 12 months to tell us nothing and it took us another 12 months to discover their lies. By then it was far too late.

“Ellie sent me, Mum and Ryan postcards from New York City in the spring of what would have been her senior year. I dropped everything and raced to New York. Ryan did not have the leeway to simply pick up and go at a moment’s notice. I stayed in close touch with him while he, and then later Everett, kept record of my searches and findings, if any. I scoured the streets and homeless shelters of New York and hired private detectives to turn over every rock in each of the Five Burroughs. All to no avail.”

“In the summer, Mum Ryan and I received postcards, from Chicago. I dashed to Chicago and annoyed the fuck out of everyone, from the mayor to the city street sweepers. The following fall, the postcards were from Detroit. I ran there too. That time, Ryan told my father to fuck off and he accompanied me.”

“We searched Christian. Please believe me. We searched, on our hands and knees, what we thought was everywhere for both of you. I swear on my life we searched for you. We couldn’t find you.”

Ryan was a mess and I was having nightmares about what my baby sister and young nephew could be going through. They could be homeless, hurt or even dead and I was powerless to save them. Ryan was my friend and my brother in our search. My mother was our source of solace and comfort at every turn and dead end.

“The next spring, there were no postcards. Ryan and I went back to Detroit anyway and resumed our search.” Mum said something to Edward and my father never gave Ryan a hard time when it came to looking for Ellie and Christian. Mum would never tell either of us why Edward was so accommodating.

“Your father and I retraced our steps then ventured on to new ones. We did the same thing in the fall and again the next spring. We kept going back to Detroit because that was the location of her last postcards.”

“In June 1989, we got word that…” I almost can’t say the words. I can’t believe so much happened in such a short period of time. My baby sister was happy one day then…and my nephew was gone. I clear my throat and try again, just above a whisper, “We got word Ella was…dead…and buried in a potter’s field on the outskirts of Detroit. The police reports indicated a male minor was found with Ella’s body and taken to Henry Ford Hospital. People acted as if my hair was on fire as I ranted about finding my nephew. Ryan had to be restrained when we were told you were simply gone, vanished into thin air, never to be seen or heard from again. We knew it wasn’t true, but we couldn’t get anyone to listen to us or help us in the least.”

Ryan learned, sometime later, that by the time he and I became involved in this situation Christian was already through the American Foster Care and Adoption processes and in the custody of the Greys. The question of uprooting Christian to bring him home was a hot topic between Ryan, Me, Edward…and Mum.

“I was arrested for assaulting a city worker in some office who gave me a hard time about retrieving Ella’s remains and finding my nephew. Ryan, while at my side, had tried to stop me. I actually knocked him out in the process. It was a blessing because he was able to finish our latest search then return to Melbourne, with Ella’s remains. He reported it all to Everett, who had taken on the role of secretary and search analyst.”

I look over at my eldest son. Yep, he was a real Hardy Boy. He discovered the Security lapse.

“My actions didn’t endear me to anyone in Detroit or bolster my cause. Edward, much to the dismay of my mother and Ryan, felt as though I needed to spend those 30 days in jail to calm down.”

Again, I turn toward my father recalling his harsh words and the feeling of repugnance I had for him. I didn’t care that I was in jail. I was in the United States and I was in Detroit. I was going to find Christian.

My own life was taking a turn for the worse. My wife was none too pleased with me for all of the time I spent away from her. Everett and Ryan took control of my household, making sure all was in order and no one wanted for anything, Yvonne never let go of her jealousy over my relationship with Ellie and the time I spent in our search, but her feelings were meaningless to me.

She never forgave me and, somehow, I couldn’t blame her. Still, I refused to return without Christian. “By the time I was released from jail, Ellie’s body had already been taken back to Australia and buried in the family plot, in Melbourne. Our mother joined her, not long after.”

My personal conclusion was Mum died of a broken soul and a broken heart. Her only daughter, dead. Her only son, in jail. Her youngest grandson, gone. No one ever told me any differently leaving me to feel personally responsible for another fatality.

The final straw, my wife suffered a ruptured appendix not long after my return to Melbourne. We weren’t on the best of terms, but we did still share a home and semblance of a marriage. I found her unconscious on the bathroom floor when I got home from the office. We rushed her to the hospital where surgeons were able to remove her appendix, but she developed a general sepsis and couldn’t fight it off. She never regained consciousness. She was the last death I recall feeling responsible for. From that point forward, I was of no use to anyone.

My night terrors escalated. I didn’t go to work, I didn’t tend to my family, I just didn’t. Everett took care of everything, including Eran, Emerson and Ella. At the same time, Edward worked at and succeeded in having me declared an unfit parent, taking first guardianship then custody of my youngest sons and only daughter. Aside from Everett and Ryan, I was alone with my thoughts of ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ and my nightmares of ‘what is’ and ‘what was’.

I drop my face into my hands in defeat. I can’t go on anymore. I can’t make Christian understand how I felt then or how I feel now. I couldn’t explain it to my father or my wife and I don’t expect this young man to comprehend or even give a fuck about the ravings of an old man.

I raise my eyes to see the impassive mask returned and firmly set on Christian’s face. I’m locked in this Hell and I will be forever. Resigned to my fate, I take a deep breath and shake my head as if chastising myself for wasting his time.

At the sight of my weakness Christian growls, “Are you finished?” I smile and actually laugh, but it sounded off, almost maniacal, to my own ears. I deserved that, I know I did. I raise my hand to silence Everett when I see him part his lips to speak.

I shake my head for emphasis, “Leave it Ev, just leave it. The man is entitled to his thoughts, feelings and emotions, you all are. Do not forget, you were in his place at one time.” Everett lowers his eyes and nods.

Yes, my eldest son was none too pleased with me either in the end. He was given the same Family Meeting where he and I tore at each other’s throats. Our relationship survived and has evolved over the years, but there are times when I see disappointment in his eyes.

Ryan told me I was being paranoid. He assured me Everett let go of his anger after that meeting and is on my side. Ryan claims Everett understands everything and holds no grudge against me. I still wonder though.

I get up from my seat on the ottoman and look down into my nephew’s face, the spitting image of his mother. I breathe deeply again then ask, “Do you have any questions Christian?” He doesn’t speak. “I’ll take that as a no. I have more to say, but if you are not interested then I will not regale you any further.” I look, unseeing, around the room before saying “Goodnight all” then I move, wearily, toward the door. Damn the Rules. I’m spent and I’m going to get a few drinks before I head off to my nightmares.

Of course Edward won’t leave well enough alone, he has to have another word, “Emmett, we are not finished here. I have some things I want to say to my grandson.”

Oh for fuck’s sake.

I spin around to look at my father, anger and defeat oozing from every pore of my being. “THEN FUCKING SPEAK UP!” He’s got two seconds then I’m done. The children, Christian included, have never seen Dad and I go toe to toe.

I’m not beyond standing up to my father. Mum always told me to treat him with respect if for no other reason than his being my father. At times, like this, her words are the only thing keeping me from wringing his fucking neck…and he knows I can do it.

“Does anyone of you have pressing business tomorrow?” My father’s eyes scan the room. That old bastard knows good and well I have meetings with several Russian scientist about a power plant tomorrow.

“I do.” I respond, my voice deadpan. They all look at me as if I’m speaking in tongues. Ella and Everett know Family Meetings are not to be taken lightly. Christian simply hears the venom in my voice. “I have back to back meetings all day. I can be finished by 6PM, at the earliest. I would appreciate the opportunity to have dinner prior to another episode of the Brown Bullshit drama series.” I know I sound nasty and I couldn’t give a shit less. Every fucking time I think about this subject means I’ll get no sleep and now I’ve spoken on it for the past two hours. Gimme a fucking break.

“Fine Emmett, if you must…”

I cut him off, the fucker will not patronize me, “WHAT? SLEEP? IF I MUST SLEEP? That’s a fucking joke. With the exception of Christian, we all know that’s not going to happen tonight or for a few nights to come so save the condescending attitude father. Good night!”

As I turn to leave I see Christian looking at me expectantly. “I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This conversation brings about a myriad of emotions for me and I tend to have rather violent night terrors as a result.”

Ellie whispers, to no one in particular, “That’s why he occupies the furthest wing of the house.” I nod my confirmation. I’m as far away as possible so as not to disturb anyone.

Christian seems intrigued by my pain when he arrogantly asks, “And when did that start?”

Fucker.

I glare at him with my own hatred for his abominable behavior then I spit back, “The night some woman told me my only sister and only nephew were gone.”

Suddenly, there’s a look of contrition on his face, but it does nothing for me. I turn again and proceed to quietly leave the room. My final sound, the click of the closing door.

GREY

…Please believe me. We searched, on our hands and knees, what we thought was everywhere for both of you. I swear on my life we searched for you. We couldn’t find you…

“Find me…no one…alone…hurt…alone…” I feel my heart beginning to pound harder in my chest.

“Find me…no one…alone…hurt…alone…” I feel beads of sweat trickling down my face.

You’re forgetting your education Pet. You’re letting the world dictate your actions. This is a sign of weakness and weakness deserves punishment.

Yes mistress.

Not this day…any day but this one…please.

You’ll always need me.  People like you and I will never be loved.  No one will ever care.  No one will ever understand our needs…our desires.  You need me, you need our lifestyle to help you stay in control.  I am your reminder, my beautiful Pet.

She dragged her fingers through my hair and her nails down the side of my face to my mouth. She removed the ball gag she had in place so that she can hear me.

People want to confuse you Pet. No one else wants you…No one else understands you… You can depend on no one but me. I’ve taught you everything you know. I’ve given you everything you need. You’d be in jail or dead like your whore of a mother if it weren’t for me…for our lifestyle. COUNT PET!

One…two…three…four…five…

I’ve done this to myself. I chose this lifestyle. I chose to be here. I came here of my own free will.

Twenty…twenty-one…twenty-two…

I’m unlovable…love is for fools…No fool would love me.

Forty-five…forty-six…forty-seven…

Grace and Carrick tried, but it was all for naught…I deserve this…I was made for this…this is what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life…

I hate this day. I hate my birthday. I…I…Yellow Mistress…yellow.

You will learn Pet.  No safewords, not today.  This is my birthday gift to you.  You will remember your 18th year.  You will remember this time in our playroom while you are away at Harvard.  YOU WILL NOT RELEASE PET!  COUNT!

I’m trying to take the pain, but that’s all this is…pain. There’s no pleasure. There’s no… RED! RED MISTRESS! RED!!!

NO!

Fifty.  I gasp. I can’t breathe. I can’t believe she did that. I can’t move. What happened?

Remember this gift Pet. Remember, you were destined to be here…to be with me… You’re mine Pet. You will always be mine. I’ll be here when you come to your senses Pet.

Love is for fools…

Love is for fools…

Love is for fools…

I can’t breath. Why is my chest hurting? I feel like I’ve run a marathon and…what the fuck is that sound?

“…here baby…back to me…here Christian, please…” I know she’s there. I can almost hear her, my Ana.

“Here Christian…”

Just as I think I can reach her the sound changes. It’s familiar. The smell is familiar too. Then, I see it…the sticky rug.

You good for nothing little shit! Get the fuck out of my way! Fucking waste of space, that’s what you are. You’re lucky I let that bitch keep you around here.

MOMMY, MOMMY…HELP ME MOMMY PEASE! HIM’S HURTING ME!

Where is she? Where is she?

Shut the fuck up you little shit. She can’t fucking help you. NO ONE can help you. NO ONE can save you from me. Little BASTARD!

When he looks away, I crawl, as fast as I can. I almost made it to my hiding place under the kitchen sink when he catches my leg.

NO THE FUCK YOU DON’T! GET YOUR ASS BACK HERE! I’M NOT FINISHED WITH YOU!

My head hurts, my chest hurts my legs hurt, my stomach hurts…OW! NNNOOO!!! HHHEEELLLPPP MMMEEE!!!

I hear the cries in my head and all around me. The sound is distinctive and sharp. It spears my consciousness and burns my ears as well as my throat. OH GOD! THAT’S ME!

He’s beating the shit out of me. The strap he’s using is almost like a whip. The sound scares me as it snaps through the air and cuts into the flesh on my bare back.

“Help me…no one…alone…hurt…” He’s holding me down. I can’t get free.

“…Alone…hurt…” I feel myself thrash around. I feel like I’m being shaken…pulled.

“Ana.” The utterance is more of a thought than a spoken word. “Ana.” Suddenly, I can hear my voice, but it sounds strange, almost muffled. “ANA!” I finally yell. Sweat pouring off of me when I wake panting for breath.

I smell it, as if I was covered in nicotine and cheap booze. I can’t pull my t-shirt off fast enough. I scramble out of a strange bed, in a strange room, in a strange place. Where the fuck am I?

Oh yeah, that’s right. I remember now, the Brown’s, that fucking Family Meeting. They’re to blame for this.

The bathroom. I need the bathroom NOW! I manage to reach the toilet just in time to empty my stomach contents. Once I finish, I slowly sink to the tile floor trying to catch my breath. Trying to forget the scenes that just played through my mind’s eye.

I must have passed out. When I open my eyes I see Ana. She’s in the doorway to the bathroom. Edward is holding her as tears stream down her face. When she sees my eyes open she breaks free of his hold and runs to me. She holds me tightly and whispers calming words in my ear. Her body close to mine, her arms around me, her breath in my ear. I cling to her for dear life. I bury my face in her neck and, eventually, she calms my racing heart and slows my whirling thoughts.

My peace is short-lived. “CHRISTIAN!” A wail, that’s the only way to describe it. A painful wail echoes through the empty halls of this cavernous house. “CHRISTIAN!” I look to Edward who appears as though he wants to bolt from the room in the direction of the sound. It’s then I see Everett in the bedroom doorway, blocking Edward’s escape.

“HE’S MY SON! HE NEEDS ME EVERETT! LET ME PASS!” Everett slowly shakes his head. He will fight the older man to keep him from leaving, I’m sure of it.

“CHRISTIAN! ELLIE! CHRISTIAN!” The sound has become shrill, a blood curdling scream, as if someone is being murdered. This time I struggle to get up from the floor and stumble to the door Everett is still blocking.

“Get out of my way.” I snarl directly in Everett’s face, my nose actually touching his.

“It’s nothing new Cousin. He’ll survive. Are you…” I punch him in the gut then in the face as he bends over to grab his midsection.

“It’s something to him…and he’s calling my name not yours.” I roar at him as I rush from the room not knowing which way to turn. The sound is uttered again and again, more and more painful each time. It’s so dreadful and so loud bouncing off the walls, yet and still I feel like I’m being pulled to its source. Finally I reach what I surmise is Emmett’s bedroom door where Ella is standing, key in hand, but not entering the room.

“What are you waiting for? Open the damn thing.” I demand, winded and still shaking from my own dance with the demons.

What the fuck is wrong with these people? Don’t they understand what’s going on?

She shakes her head vehemently. The closer I look at her I see her eyes are red and swollen with streams of tears striding down her cheeks. “No,” she chokes out, “he’ll see it as a sign of weakness. He always does.” She breathes deeply several times, like she warring off an anxiety attack. She shutters then tells me, “I’ll wait here until the screams stop then I’ll enter.”

She’s got to be fucking kidding me.

I pound on the door, “Emmett! Wake up! It’s Christian! Wake up Emmett!” I turn quickly and look over my shoulder, “Dammit Ella, open the fucking door or I’ll knock it…” I’m cut off by a gasp from inside the room. It sounds as if he’s being strangled.

He can’t breathe. We have to get in there!

Then he begins to whimper, “Please forgive me. I tried Ella, I tried. I couldn’t find you. I can’t find Christian. Tell me where he is Ella. Help me find my nephew.” His pleading is followed by a loud crash and the sound of glass breaking. I won’t stand here anymore.

I wrestle the key from Ella and fumble to get the door open.  Inside, the room is pitch black and all sounds have stopped. It’s eerily quiet. “Emmett?.”  I say, caution in my voice, as I slowly venture into his room. “Where are you Emmett? It’s Christian. Where are you?”

Ella opens the heavy drapes, letting a stream of moonlight flood the room, to show Emmett on the floor beside the bed. Ella kneels next to him.

“Is he alive?” My voice is wavering.  She simply nods.   “Does this happen often?” I ask as I kneel next to him as well.  She nods again, new tears falling from her eyes. I shake my head and run my fingers through his hair, as if comforting a small child. He has nightmares about me.

We know nightmares don’t appear out of nowhere.  We know there’s something deeper here, right?

Inwardly I nod.

In the doorway behind us, the others have gathered. Everett clears his throat, “Cousin, would you help me put Dad back into bed?” I nod my consent and together Everett and I get Emmett back to bed.

As Ella tucks her father in, his eyes pop open and he sits up to quickly scan the room. When his gaze rests on me, we share a look of bewilderment. “We can talk tomorrow if you’re up to it.”  I tell him.  He nods and slowly lays his head back down on the pillow.  His eyes never leaving mine.  I pat his arm and move to leave the room, but I turn back to add, “If you like, it can be just you and I.” He nods again and we smile weakly at one another. I leave him, running, no sprinting, back to my Ana.


The Hardy Boys are fictional teenage brothers and amateur detectives.  The characters were created by Edward Stratemeyer, the founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a book-packaging firm, and have been written by many different ghostwriters over the years.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 19 Family Affair

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 19 | Family Affair

EMMETT

I’m standing in the open doorway when they arrive. I wonder how much truth there is to the argument of Nature v. Nurture. I’m certain Grace and Carrick Grey taught their children right from wrong and other basic necessities. I simply wonder how much weight true-blood is given in the equation.

Christian really is a striking young man. His physique reminds me of myself at his age, he resembles Everett in that aspect as well. His height, about 6’7” I would venture to say, broad chest, narrow waist and you can tell he’s meticulous in his exercise because his legs balance his upper body proportion, perfectly symmetric.

My poor nephew also has that damned hair color. A gift from his grandfather. It’s truly a blessing and a curse. Women love tall, virile men no doubt. I’m always surprised though how many women find copper-brown hair with practically red highlights attractive. I mean, being attracted to someone simply because of their hair color is astounding to me. I used to have to beat girls off with a stick in high school, college was even worse. They would follow me like lost puppies just to run their fingers through my hair.  Their fascination scared the shit out of me. At the same time, it could be used to my advantage. Christian’s father used to laugh as he offered mock pity at my plight.

I shake my head remembering the day my baby sister tried to convince me to dye my hair brown, she wanted us to look-alike. I was never more glad Mum got wind of Ella’s scheme and dared her to touch my head. Ella pouted and ran to Dad who, ironically, shared our mother’s sentiment. Dad cursed his hair time and time again, but was oh so proud to see it carried on with me.  The house, while not silent, was rather tense that night, to say the least.

All in all, it’s Christian’s face that causes my heart to melt. He is Ella. She was breathtaking as a child. One would go as far as to say she was angelic. As she matured she developed into an unbelievably beautiful young woman. Top models and actresses pay good money to look like my sister did naturally. Christian’s almond-shaped eyes, high cheekbones, straight nose and full lips are all hers; a mix of our parent’s best attributes. Although, the strong jawline is a Brown Family trait alone. The damn thing comes in handy when taking a right hook. Looking at Christian, I’m amazed at how a man and a woman can look so much alike and each be attractive. I shake my head thinking about my baby sister and her beauty.

However, the mental stress of what is to come is wearing on his face. He’s not simply apprehensive, he’s scared and I don’t fucking blame him. This young man is about to face demons he never knew existed. He’s also going to reincarnate demons I’m certain he believed were exorcised. All of this in an unfamiliar home, in a barely familiar city, among a room full of strangers. I’m proud of his bravery and I fear for his psyche. Had Eran and Emerson not behaved like little bastards we could’ve included them in this meeting. Alas, the show will go on without them. I’m sure they aren’t dismayed over that fact.

“Good evening Christian. Thank you for attending.” I offer my hand.  To my surprise he takes it to give me a strong, albeit brief, handshake. I turn and look down at his lovely fiancée, “It’s wonderful to see you again Anastasia. You look wonderful Love.” She too gives me a strong handshake and is courteous enough to include a small smile.

“Hello Mr. Brown. Thank you for inviting us stay this evening.” I frown at her greeting.

“Emmett my Dear, please, call me Emmett. I won’t lie to you, this is going to be a long evening and I have no doubt in my mind Christian will need your calming nature to enable him to suffer through. Also, it would be an unspeakable evil to expect you to remain alone at home without his protection.” I can tell she wants to comment and I can see the glimmer of ‘I told you so’ in Christian’s eyes. If he’s anything like the other men in this family, Anastasia’s safety is his primary concern and that means being by his side or under close personal surveillance.

“Come. I’ll have Ella show you to your suite. Christian, change into comfortable clothing and meet us in the Great Room, which is through here.” I point to my left off of the foyer. “Ana, please make yourself at home. We have staff who can bring you anything you wish. You can occupy your time in the Media Room, with television and movies, or the Library, as I understand you are an avid reader. You can also enjoy the fabulous sunken tub and waterfall shower in your en suite.” She smiled at the mention of the Library so I know where she’ll be tucked away tonight.

Now for the disclaimer. “Anastasia, I apologize in advance and ask that you please try to ignore the sounds you will hear. We generally fight during these meetings, but the authorities won’t be needed.” I try to give her a reassuring smile, although I am serious. We’ve had to call for medical attention in the past when things got particularly heated, but no one has gone to jail…yet. There’s a first time for everything and Christian is more like Edward than either of them knows. I’m very well aware of that.

Christian finally finds his voice enough to growl his comments, “It’s not like I was given much say in the matter Emmett. Ella and Everett were both emphatic about my attending tonight.” Just like his grandfather. It always made my head hurt to see Dad grind out not just sentences, but entire conversations with his jaw clinched the way Christian’s is now. I see his grandson has mastered the skill.

I chuckle a bit at my nephew’s comment then respond, “Yes, they were. All I can offer you is to say, you’re not as alone as you may feel.” I want to put my hand on his shoulder, but I think better of it. I froze in my spot the other night when I saw Everett pull Christian into that embrace. I fully expected to have to call an ambulance for my eldest son, but Christian surprised me. I’m all too aware of what has happened to my only nephew over the years and until he gives me permission, I refuse to invade his personal space.

Appearing as if out of nowhere, we hear, “Good evening all.” Ella stands near the far banister at the foot of the grand staircase, almost out of view. The lights are low and in her chosen attire my baby girl is difficult to see, that is, until we approach the stairs. She and Christian exchange knowing smirks and Anastasia looks at me, almost in horror. I know what it looks like, but it most certainly is not.

Grand Staircase.Family Home

 

Since Ella or Christian offers an explanation, I venture to do so, “Anastasia, Ella is dressed in her Ninja Girl costume. Has Christian told you how she kicked his ass in the park when he first arrived in Townsville?” Anastasia’s beautiful blue eyes widen and she shakes her head slowly. “I thought not. Suffice it to say, Ella can, and will, beat the shit out of her cousin should she feel the need. The only ones she will not touch are myself and her grandfather and that’s merely out of respect, not inability.” Even I can hear the note of pride in my voice as I describe my daughter’s adeptness. Good, bad or indifferent, my little girl can hold her own.

“Christian…Nephew,” his head whips my direction. The look on his face is one of shock and anger. “We mean business here…family business…and it’s not ever pretty. Change into something comfortable that you’re not overly fond of, in case you end up in a brawl of your own.” I know my family. Christian’s been in his share of fights and even brawls, no man is above it. Surely he doesn’t want to tear his linen sport shirt or get bloodstains on his washed linen pants.

I turn to address my daughter directly, “Ella, show Anastasia and Christian to their suite. Do not wait for Christian, simply show them to the door and come to the Great Room; immediately.” I raise an eyebrow to emphasize my instructions. In her current mood, Ella’s not beyond beating Christian’s ass on the spot. I want him to make it to the meeting area first.

“Alright Daddy.” She says brightly, almost singing the words. Ella also speaks pleasantly to Anastasia when she says, “This way Love.” And while it’s not surprising, it is entertaining to hear Ella’s voice quickly change as she snarls at her cousin, “Christian.” I shake my head as the threesome march up the grand staircase and off to the guest wing of the Family Home. Yep, it’s going to me a long night indeed.


Shortly afterwards we take our customary places in the Great Room. Ella, as usual, is ready for a fight and antsy to get underway. I shake my head at the thought of how this is going to go. I’ve been tempted all day to put the kibosh on this entire spectacle, but it truly is an opportune time for Dad and I to tell the three of them what really happened, at least as far as I’m aware. I’ve gotten the impression and heard bits and pieces from my old friend Ryan that things at home were not as they seemed on the surface. However, I’ve never been given a full accounting. It’s obvious there were happenings on both fronts that I was not able to control …let alone stop. My prayer is that Christian will see reason and let us all move forward…together.

Dad is Hell bent and bound to make this a family. As much as I loved my little sister and love my nephew, I couldn’t find it in my heart to tell Christian about us and I pleaded that case to Dad, which kindly fell on deaf ears. He wanted his grandson back and he wanted him back now.

Out of nowhere, I remember.  “Emmett, she is my baby.  She is my heart.  No man is ever going to be good enough for my little girl.”  With his hands digging into his hair my father and I rehashed my sister’s situation.  “That DISGUSTING SON OF A BITCH lured her away from me.”  Christian Ryan isn’t a bad guy.  He attended the University of Melbourne and graduated summa cum laude a few months before the two found out Ellie was pregnant.  When Ellie decided to go to Harvard, Ryan and I supported her decision, which made me Edward’s ‘bastard son’ and Ryan became ‘that disgusting son of a bitch’.  It was the best Dad could think of at the time and it stuck, much to Mum’s chagrin.  Sometimes I still have fun ribbing him about who my real father is.  He’s never impressed.

“How are they Emmett?  How is my beautiful daughter and my handsome grandson?”  The look in his eyes was one of desperation.  Ellie refused to communicate directly with Dad so I got to play messenger.  I was quite often damn near killed performing my assigned task, on both ends.

“They are good Dad, really good. Christian’s the striking image of his mother and of you too actually.”  Ryan was put out that his Irish genes lost to us Aussies. I told him he didn’t have a chance in Hell of contributing to that little boy’s make up, but seeing is believing.  “By the way, Ellie mentioned coming home for a visit, without Ryan.” I knew that would brighten his spirits.  “I can talk with her then, see if she will stay for a while.”  The wheels began to whirl in his mind.

If he could get away with it he’d build a tower, lock her away and post clergy to guard the damn thing.  I stared at him and said, as harshly as I could muster, “You stay out of the conversation and do not try to broach it with her yourself.”  I was willing to be the weak-willed brother and beg my little sister to come home.  I owed it to Dad…and to Christian.  “You tend to Christian.”  My sister made it a habit to pick Christian up from our home and the two of them would spend her visit with Ryan.  It seemed appropriate to Mum and I for the young family to spend as much time together as possible.  Again, Dad’s opinion was contrary to ours.

”Oh,” I feigned my absentmindedness “Ellie wants to hold Christian’s christening while she is home.”  Dad silently nods, but he couldn’t fool me.  I saw the twinkle in his eyes before, the drapes closed.

He furrowed his brow and an evil scowl enveloped his face, “Really, and what other name has that fucker talked her into giving my precious grandson?”  I sighed. Ellie loved Ryan and Ryan loved Ellie, more than life itself. She named Christian after his father and rightly so. I would kid Ryan that it was the least she could do for him. Of course Dad was furious.  ‘His initials are to be ‘EB…’ and that was all there was to the discussion. When the child’s Birth Certificate arrived and the name read ‘Christian’ I thought we were going to have to rebuild the house. Dad had to be sedated to get him to stop his tantrum.

However, Ellie was a true Brown and proud of her father, although he didn’t believe it.  I laid a finger on my lips as if trying to recall the name. I stuck an ‘ah ha’ look on my face before I uttered “Edward” then I turned to leave his study, but not before I saw the obvious surprise on his face change to happiness and finally pride. As I closed the door to his study I thought to myself, Yes Dad, your little girl loves you.

“…why in the Hell was Liam not allowed to attend? He is involved in this bucket of bullshit too.” My daughter’s colorful portrayal of our situation brings me out of my reverie.

“He is not a Brown. Even after you are wed he will still not be a Brown. He is not eligible for attendance at our Family Meetings. You know this.” And the lid is lifted from the powder keg. I can barely contain my laugh. Everett and I cover our mouths and drop our eyes to the floor. Dad LOVES fucking with Ellie about Liam and that statement is always ‘the shot heard round the world’. You would think she’d catch on by now.

In her most fluent Italian she rants, “SPOSA LIAM! E perchè cazzo dovrei sposare Liam? E’ un vero stronzo! Buon Dio Nonno, quanto hai bevuto? Dovresti davvero andarci piano con lo Scotch.” [1] Ella paces the floor with her hands flailing in the air shouting about not marrying Liam and my father being drunk. From the corner of my eye, I steal a glance at my eldest son. I see his shoulders bouncing up and down and I hear him gasping as he tries to hold in his laughter. She really is a site to behold.

Over Ella’s performance, we never heard him enter the room. “I am glad I am not the only one who finds your antics amusing Ella.” A deep, mellow and somehow familiar voice fills the room from behind us. I look at Dad while Everett and Ella dart their eyes to the door. I don’t even bother turning my head to acknowledge him.

“Good evening Christian.” I say as I look at my father’s face. “You are punctual. Good man. Yes, as you can see Miss Brown is providing us with a bit of a comical diversion. Takes the edge off actually.” My daughter tries to give me a scowl, which only makes me laugh out loud.

“Honestly El, you would think by now you would know not to take Granddad’s bait.” Everett raises an eyebrow and leans back on the couch, stretching his arms out along its back. I notice immediately the change in his dialect, and so does Dad. We all joke that my father doesn’t take shortcuts, that includes in spoken words. If he starts to use contractions, the shit has really hit the fan.

Dad sits in a chair, not far from the fireplace, and clears his throat, “Since everyone is here, we will begin. Christian, please take a seat.” No one looks directly at Christian as he finds his way to the plush, white loveseat on the far left of the room, away from everyone else. We all focus our eyes on Dad. It’s one of the Rules, to avoid attempts at intimidation.

“Christian, there are a few Rules included with this interaction.” Christian’s slate-grey eyes pop open and he looks over at me. I give him a weak smile and nod my head. “I see you doubted the sincerity of Emmett’s statement. Yes dear boy, this is a fight. Not to the death, although it may seem so.” Dad sits back in his chair, feigning comfort, while he explains to Christian, “This room has been witness to many a Family Meeting over the years and has been redesigned to afford all involved proper protection while remaining acceptable to the general décor of our home.” Christian looks around the room, to see the floor to ceiling windows that look out onto a garden terrace, tapestries and wall hangings above an inset fireplace and ancient vases decorate the room. The beige marble floor, covered with a black and gold Persian rug, complements the black marble accent lamps placed around the room. One would never believe a room containing plush, white upholstered chairs, sofas and loveseats would bear witness to ‘civilized barbarity’. I don’t believe the Grey’s raised Christian this way.

Once Christian’s eye fall on him, my father continues, “Intimidation is not allowed. You are to speak your mind and your heart. If you feel the need to lay hands on someone to get your point across or in retaliation, then so be it, but do not expect anyone to back down from a fight, which includes the ‘stature challenged’ member of the clan.” Ellie hates to be pointed out. My baby girl can give better than she gets. All her brothers respect her physical prowess and I believe her dear cousin does as well.

Great Room
Great Room

“Lastly, simply to afford it the emphasis it deserves, what goes on in this room stays in this room. Pillow talk is not allowed. This is a Brown Family Meeting, husbands, wives and significant others are not eligible for attendance and therefore are not privy to the happenings of this gathering.”

“Does everyone understand?” Collectively we nod. “Are there any questions?” No seems to be the general consensus. “Good. All of that said, Christian I want to tell you everyone in this room is privy to your life and lifestyle choices. Everyone in this room is aware of The Interference in your life and its extent. We are all committed to its disposal, regardless of this evening’s results. Everyone in this room loves you Grandson and we want to be part of yours, Anastasia’s and whatever beautiful children the two of you have lives.”

“Your feelings run deep, as do ours. No one wants to drive a wedge between you and your adoptive family. Nor are we trying to replace those who have raised and grown up with you. We simply want you to know you have a grandfather, uncle and cousins as well.”

“Your father,” Edward can’t put enough disdain in Ryan’s title, “is not a Brown and therefore does not have any rights with regard to this family, and yes we know who he is and where he is. To his credit, you are an only child, no half siblings exist.” Christian is quiet and impassive, giving the impression of apathy, throughout this monologue, but we can see the gears spinning in his mind and the emotions whirling in his eyes.

I guess I’ll start. I move to the edge of my chair, lean forward and place my elbows on my knees, “Christian…Nephew?” Again there is a flash of hate. “Plastic facial expressions and resolute silence will get you nowhere. Contrary to your belief, this will not be over anytime soon, so relax, as much as you are able, and think. Do you have any questions for us?” The ball is in his court and he seems insistent with holding it closely. Let’s try something else, “Nephew, how would Anastasia tell you to begin?” That should get this shit started.

At the sound of her name, Christian finds his voice, but it’s barely audible, while his eyes narrow and his brow furrows he says, “Leave her out of this. She has absolutely nothing to do with this dung heap built on a bed of lies. Do not let her name cross your lips again…Mr. Brown.” Everett laughs.

“Dammit boy. Is that really the best you can do Cousin? I expected more from Christian Edward Brown!” Christian moves to the edge of the loveseat he occupies, clenching and releasing his fists. The gloves are off now. I shake my head at Everett’s goading. I guess we should leave this one to the young people.

Christian rises to his feet as he growls, “What the fuck did you call me?”

Now, Everett does the same thing as the two meet, nose to nose, in the center of the room, “I called you by your given name you ass! Christian EDWARD BROWN!”

I look at Dad and shake my head. He has that ‘this is gonna be real good’ smirk on his lips. He only ever has that look in the boardroom. We most certainly should sell tickets to this shit-show.

My name is Grey, Christian TREVELYN-GREY, you self aggrandizing prick!” They’re not touching one another and neither man has made an aggressive move, however, neither has backed down either. I have to put a halt to this. We’re getting nowhere and wasting time.

Without leaving my seat, I call truce by saying, “Gentlemen…gentlemen…I see we have agreed on the first agenda item for this evening. Thank you, so much, Everett for beginning with that bullshit argument.” I say the last sentence through my own clenched teeth and suddenly realize how Dad does it.

I return my attention to my nephew, “Christian, although your parents were not married, they loved each other deeply. You are named after your father…”

Before I can finish my thought, an abrupt, “Ahem” sounds off at the front of the room. I don’t bother looking in the direction of the sound.

“…and your grandfather. Ellie loved Dad very much as well. Your name is nothing to be ashamed of.”

“Where is the sperm donor?” I figured he’d want to know about his father, at least I hoped he would. If all goes even relatively well tonight, I can have that discussion with Christian myself at another time. It will be utterly impossible to discuss Ryan adequately in Edward’s presence.

As expected, my father’s quip, “He is of no importance here” ignites a spark in me this time.

“If he is my father then he is of importance to me!” The boy is a quick study of not taking shit from anyone.

Edward better watch it with this one.

“Yes he is Nephew. Your father is Christian Lucas Ryan. He…” I don’t have a chance to finish my thought before I’m cut off.

“HA! Three first names.” As usual, Everett is trying to pick a fight. Despite his calm exterior, I know Everett is just as nervous as the rest of us. However, now is not the time.

Once again, I don’t bother to turn toward the cause for my interruption as I say, “Shut the fuck up Everett. Save it for when it is necessary.” I know Everett feels guilty about how he and his brothers have treated Christian since his arrival in Townsville. Gaming for a fight will help Everett assuage the feeling that he deserves some kind of punishment for his sins. I guess there is a masochistic trait in this bloodline after all.

I continue to focus on Christian. “Anyway Nephew…” Now it’s his turn to cut me the fuck off.

“Do not fucking call me that! I do not even fucking know you people! You have lied to me from the day I met your tart of a daughter!” Emphatically, with his chest heaving, he points at Ella, who managed to remain silent up until now.

“TART!” Ella and Everett shout in unison.

Oh, fuck me running this isn’t going to help anything. They’re just kicking sand around the playground now.

I look toward the front of the room and raise an eyebrow at Dad then mouth, ‘Now what’. The Patriarch of the Brown Clan rises from his chair and bellows, “All of you impudent fuckers sit the Hell down and shut the fuck up…NOW!”

As the vibration of his voice dissipates, it is replaced by the sound of panting.  You’d think we had all run a three-minute mile. Dad takes a deep breath, “Thank you. Now that we have each bared our teeth I will ask you again Grandson, do you have any questions for us? Do you want to know about your mother, about your grandmother, about me?” There’s so much information, neither Dad nor I know exactly where to begin without simply giving him our family biography.

“I spoke with my father briefly following Brunch.” Christian hisses. “He verified who you all are and he urged me to speak with you about what you want from me, so that is my opening question. What…do you want?”

I’ll field that one. “As my father and I have stated, Nephew, we do not want anything from you. We want you to know we love you and we are here to answer any questions you may have for us…about anything.” He’s a hard nut to crack that’s for damn sure. We’re not gonna finish this in one evening. Christian is not going to open up anytime soon. I figured as much and I warned Dad of the same. I guess my ole’ man will have to learn this lesson the hard way.

“Good. Since I have nothing to say to any of you I will collect my fiancée and we will be leaving. Excuse me.” As he stands, Christian reaches beside him and retrieves two envelopes he placed on the end table. We’ve all been eyeing the documents. He obviously wasn’t trying to hide them. My guess is he wanted one of us to bring them into the conversation for him by questioning their presence.

Well, he got his wish when Everett points at the letters and asks, “What is in the envelopes Cousin?”

Christian halts his retreat and says, “One is my Birth Certificate the other is a letter, left on my jet for Anastasia.”

Everett furrows his brow, looking at the envelopes, “They look unopened. Why did you bring them here?” He says, almost absentmindedly, before lifting his gaze to Christian’s face.

Christian looks at his hand, without raising his eyes, as if speaking to the documents themselves, he says, in a low voice, “I am not exactly sure.”

Their exchange continues while the rest of of watch. “Did you want us with you when did you break their seals?” Christian looks at Everett, and for the first time I see a little boy, lost in a sea of emotions. His only response is to shrug one shoulder. Everett takes on a less authoritative, more compassionate role when he coaxes Christian, “Sit down Cousin. Let’s have a look-see shall we?” Christian waits a long minute before retaking his seat.

Christian reaches past me to hand the envelopes to Everett, who nods his thanks and takes them. Everett flips the one addressed to Miss Anastasia Rose Steele over and over then puts it down. Everett reviews the blank envelope, front and back, then raises an eyebrow at Christian, silently asking for permission to open it. Christian gives him an almost imperceptible nod. The men remain bent forward with their elbows on their knees as we all turn our attention the envelope and, soon, its contents.

There inside is a copy of Christian’s native Australian Birth Certificate and his adoptive American Birth Certificate. I see Carrick Grey is one for preserving information as well, a blessing…and a curse. I see my father from the corner of my eye, elbows on the arms of his chair, hands clasped, as if in prayer. Looking intently at Christian and Everett, he steeples his index fingers and places them over his lips. He used to make that move when he and my mother would argue, or rather when my mother would give him a good tongue lashing. He knew, in order to lessen her wrath, he had to remain silent and pay close attention to what she was saying. I’m certain that’s his intention now, to pay close attention without interrupting.

Interesting…

Once the papers are released from their protective wrapping Christian almost jumps out of his skin and shouts, “What the fuck! I was born in Detroit. So was my brother. What the fuck is this shit.” Everett looks over at me. He remembers when Christian was born as well as when Ellie brought Christian home. It was to the place in Melbourne. The family hadn’t moved to Townsville yet.

Now’s my turn. As calmly as I can I reminisce as I explain, “Nephew. You were born in Waverley Private Hospital, Mount Waverley, Australia, a strapping 4 kilograms and 45 centimeters.” I can’t contain my smile. “You beat Everett by 1 kilogram and 5 centimeters. Your father never let me live it down” Everett similes at the remembrance as well. Ev later commented on how big the baby was when Ellie brought him home.

“Yes, you were a bit large to be considered a baby Cousin.” Everett teases. It was a happy time in our household. My adorable little sister and her precious newborn son.

Christian’s banal look changes to melancholy then morphs into animosity and bitterness, but he keeps his voice monotone when he begins to ask, “How did I end up in Detroit? How did my mother become a prostitute and a drug addict?” His breathing is labored and the real questions begin to surface.

“Why? How?” he whispers, looking at Everett then me…then…”YOU!” Christian’s head snaps to his left, so he can glare at my father, then my nephew leaps from his chair and rushes forward, toward Dad. “YOU BASTARD! YOU LEFT US TO STARVE! YOU LET HER DIE! WHY DIDN’T YOU FIND US? WHY DIDN’T YOU SAVE US!” Christian is millimeters away from snatching Dad out of his chair. Out of nowhere, Everett grabs Christian, but has a Hell of a time trying to stop Christian’s effort of mangling his grandfather.

I push Dad, chair and all, out of Christian’s reach, but my nephew simply lunges forward again in an effort to attack. I stand in front of Christian, between he and Dad, my hands on Christian’s shoulders, trying to prevent the well deserved ass-kicking my father so richly deserves. Damn, this fucker is strong as Hell. Ryan would be proud to see this day. Many’s the time I had to prevent Christian’s father from putting his hands around Dad’s throat, but it didn’t take all of this to hold Ryan back. Dad had best watch his step with this one.

As Christian struggles against Everett and I, he growls and even snarls at my father, “How DARE you speak to me about family. You were in your mansion overlooking paradise while your little girl was being hooked on crack and whored out to any bidder, while her bastard son was being tortured and starved. WHY MR. BROWN? WHY!?” His emotions are honest and his questions are valid. The man deserves answers from my father, his father and me.

I look to my daughter and mouth, ‘help him’. Immediately, Ella is by Christian’s side speaking to him in a calming tone of voice, trying to pull him out his red haze. My first thought was Anastasia, but, regardless of how much she knows, she cannot be admitted to this meeting; its the one rule even I won’t break. This gathering is a time where raw emotions are encouraged and with those emotions can come violence. Outsiders don’t understand that philosophy and rather than explain it to them or justify our actions, we simply don’t allow non-blood relatives to participate.

While there’s no rule forbidding anyone of us from approaching Dad, out of respect we try not to do so. My father may be old, but he’s strong and cunning. He has no problem in a fight. Each of the males in this family have had to learn that lesson the hard way. While I have a sneaking suspicion Christian could give Edward a run for his money, there’s no need to test my theory. I wonder if Dad would even fight Ella’s son.

Dad’s response to Christian is a mixture of anger and something else…something I can’t describe. “How fucking dare YOU! She was my daughter. I loved her, more than life itself. She left and she took you with her then and one day you both simply disa-fucking-ppeared!” At some point, in a flash, the look of remorse and sorrow on Dad’s face changes and I have no doubt in my mind Dad would fight Christian to the death if for no other reason than to do penance for his one true failure.  My ole’ man shouts in a voice I’ve never heard him use before, it’s that indescribable emotion…desperation, “LET HIM GO EMMETT!  LET…HIM…GO!”

I’ve got to get control of this scene before a malay ensues. I look over my shoulder at my father to remind him, “Dad, there is NO rule against physically engaging you so I strongly suggest you calm the fuck down and let us focus on Christian.” I turn my attention back to my nephew.

“Christian. Christian look at me. Look at me, please Christian.”  His struggling lessens and he turns his head toward me. It’s then I see it, the devastating hurt in his eyes. I’ve felt the same ever since I lost touch with my baby sister. He’ll never forgive me and he has every right to hate me with all of his life force, but I can’t let him blame his mother or his father for that matter. I know how Christian feels about himself and he has no reason to loath himself or his parents.

“We tried Christian. I tried.” I take his face in my hands and force him to look me directly in the eyes. “If you want to blame someone for ALL of this then blame me. Blame me. I supported her decisions…all of them. I let you both down.” He frowns as he looks at me. The fog of his emotions is clouding his mind so much that none of my words makes sense to him. He has to calm down and listen.

I let go of his face and step back, “Sit down Nephew.  Sit.” I point at the loveseat he rose from and stand nearby as he retakes his seat. I pull the ottoman up in front of him and begin the tale.


Family Affair, an American sitcom created and produced by Don Fedderson.  The series aired on CBS from September 12, 1966 to March 4, 1971 and aired 138 episodes.

ELLA
“MARRY LIAM! And why the fuck should I marry Liam? He’s (It’s) a real asshole! Good God Granddad, what did you drink? You really should go easy on the Scotch.”

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Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 18 Another Point of View

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 18 | Another Point of View

GREY

“DAMN Christian, does your father know about saving trees? I understand this stuff may not have originally been saved electronically, but surely these things could’ve been scanned and sent to you?” I agree with her completely. There’s a lot of shit here.

“I agree Baby, but like you said things were done differently back in the day. But these are legal documents, so I need hardcopies for validity.  Plus, if these things were scanned at any point, we run the risk of loosing data.”

“I guess” she says, as if I’m making this up as I go along. I need this stuff, in this format, to strengthen my case against Ole’ Man Brown. “What is all of this?” She frivolously waves a stack of papers around.

“This is my life Anastasia” I snap.  My voice crisp and clear.  Her demeanor changes immediately. We found my adoption papers, the Crack-Whore’s Death Certificate, police reports about the crime scene and statements from the people who resided in the area where the body and I were found.

“Where’s your Birth Certificate Christian.” Ana is digging around, scattering pages all over the table and, now, the floor where we’ve piled things up as well.

Sitting to my right, I quickly push the paper at her then try to reorganize the mess she’s now made of my filing system, “Dammit Ana, here. Look, it took me an hour to make sense of all that shit. Put it back.”

“Make sense of huh? My ass.” She’s been mocking my organizational skills, or the lack thereof according to her, all afternoon.

Ha, ha, ha…you two are funny.

“I’ve got something for your ass Baby and I have no problem showing how well I can file it.”  I wink at her. My reward? After all this time, it’s nice to know I can still make her blush. “You still turn that beautiful shade of pink Baby. I love it.”

The blush, still shining on her cheeks she says, “Cool it Grey. We’ve got work to do. Gimme that.” She snatches the paper out of my hands.

“This is an Adoption Certificate. I’m looking for your Birth Certificate.” She flips the paper under my nose. There’s no way in Hell we could go into business together.

I know, that feisty little attitude would have her on her back on the boardroom table all the time.

No doubt.

“As far as I’m concerned that is my Birth Certificate Anastasia. I wasn’t alive until Grace and Carrick Grey rescued me.” What the fuck does she want, evidence that some sorry bitch pushed out a little bastard she didn’t really want? All she has to do is look this direction for that. I’m living proof.

“I can see the wheels spinning Grey. If you want to be able to disprove the Browns accusation, and I know that’s the only reason for this Trip Down Misery Lane, then you need to have documentation about your natural birth family.” She’s right, I know she is. I just didn’t want to delve that deep. I just want all of this to go away and leave me alone. Leave me in peace.

When have you ever found peace? Even in that God forsaken ‘Playroom’, when have you ever found peace? Aside from sailing and soaring…alone…you couldn’t spell peace before Ana came along.

I’m very well aware of that, thank you.

And while we’re at it…

Mon Dieu, aidez-moi s’il te plaît!

Call on God all you want motherfucker. We talk when I say so remember? Contrary to the world’s belief, I’m running this shit.

What the fuck do you want…this time?

Listen to what she’s telling you Grey.  Go to the Family Meeting and listen to what the Brown’s have to say. Hear them out. What’s there to lose? You keep saying you don’t want to associate with them so if you hear something to solidify that mindset then you’re all the better. If you hear something to make you feel differently then who knows what could happen. Just keep an open mind and listen.

That’s my point. I’m not sure I want to listen to what they have to say. I have questions. I want answers. I want to know why they left us in that situation. Brown has more money than I do, surely he could afford to bring us home…bring me home after she died. I want to know why he didn’t come for me.  Where the fuck was he?!

Then go to the fucking Family Meeting and ask, stupid fuck! Damn, what the hell does Steele see in you anyway?

“Christian, you have to face this. You have to speak with your grandfather at least. You have questions, I know you do.  You must. You’d be remiss if you didn’t. Ask Mr Brown or your uncle, Hell ask your cousins. Don’t be afraid. Just ask. I’ll be right there by your side if you want.” Ana crawls onto my lap and holds me around my neck. I love when she does this. It’s for my benefit, and hers as well, I think.

“Baby, Ella called me last night.” Ana’s eyes widen in surprise.

“I thought you said you didn’t have each other’s cell phone numbers” she whispers, with hurt in voice.

I shake my head at her.  “Baby, she comes from money, so I’m pretty sure Ole Man Brown is worse than me when it comes to security. I didn’t even bother wondering how she got my number, let alone ask. For all I know, she’s had the damn number since I got the phone.” I smile ruefully at Ana. No one is above a background check. It just depends on the ability of your investigators, and Brown’s men are good. All the more reason for him to have found us.

Drop it!  If you’re not going to the source then fucking forget about it.

“What did she want?” Ana murmurs, and pouts a little.

I smile. I know jealousy isn’t supposed to be attractive, but I like that she’s possessive of me. I like belonging to Ana. “She demanded I attend a Family Meeting. She gave me 24 hours notice, seeing as though I wasn’t accustomed to their way of doing things. Apparently it’s more than mandatory and unless I was in some remote area of the world without internet access, giving birth, dying or dead I have no excuse for my absence.”

“Hmm, sounds like you come by your control freak tendencies honestly.” She tries to hold her smile at bay.

“THERE IT IS! You had your arm on it all along. Why didn’t you tell me?” Ana points to the envelope on my right, under my elbow, clearly labeled Birth Records.

“I was ignoring it. I wanted it to go away.” I say, mostly to myself, as I stare at the sealed envelope.

“Well, let’s see what your options are Mr. Grey.” Huh? When did she go all business savvy on me?

She frowns as she begins, “As I see it, you can open the envelope and read its contents here, forewarned is forearmed after all. You can take the information and knowledge with you to your Family Meeting.” The word your doesn’t go unnoticed and she knows it. “You can leave the envelope sealed and open it in front of your family,” again with the word your, ”and read it together, but then you run the risk of the Browns being correct and you haven’t had a chance to mull it over beforehand.”

“You can call Carrick and ask him if this is the original and if there are any copies then decide to read it here or in front of the Browns,” good, no your “or you can destroy it altogether, forget about it and behave as if the Browns never existed. Remember, with the last option, you’ll never get answers to any of the questions you’ve ever had or will have as this races around in your waking or dreaming mind.”

Just what the fuck I told you, right?

“What’s holding you back Christian? You’re a successful man. You have a family who loves you. You have me, who loves you. What’s holding you back?” Ana whispers the words I’ve asked myself since this entire shit-storm blew up. “Talk to me Christian. Analyze it if you must, but talk to me.”

There are tears in my voice as I tell her my feelings, not just the simple facts, we’ve discussed those hundreds of times.  My feelings, then, and my feelings now, it’s rare for me to share those.  “She didn’t stop the hurt Anastasia. She didn’t stop the pain. She was in the same room with me and she would just watch. I felt like a sideshow for her entertainment…and his.”

I’m old enough now to understand she was strung out and probably didn’t even see what was going on, but the damage had been done. I manage to push those memories, those feelings back and keep them at bay most of the time, but if I begin to think about any of this my blood boils, literally.”   My voice instinctively starts to rise.

Ana holds up a hand up to my chest and I take a deep, calming breath. “I can’t get past that hurt, Ana, that pain. Pain is what’s holding me back. Pain was always on my mind. Pain was how I began my life and although Grace and Carrick didn’t perpetuate that feeling, it seemed to be ingrained in my psyche.”

“Elena got her claws into me because of pain. I wanted to have sex, I was horny as Hell. I couldn’t get close enough to the girls my age.  I couldn’t accept tenderness. The only thought in my mind was pain. I know now Elena had inside information about how to approach me, how to relate to me, how to handle me and she used it all to her advantage. She wanted to fuck me just as much as I wanted to fuck…any girl.  Hell, she could’ve been a fifteen year old girl for all I gave a damn, as long as she knew how to go about getting to me.” I shake my head at the realization. It wasn’t her I wanted, I wanted sex, I wanted closeness.  And I wanted pain.  Pain was the only way I knew to be close…to be intimate.

“I can’t say it enough Anastasia and I’m glad you don’t understand me. Pain is all there was to me.” I shrug my shoulders and say the magic word again, “Pain.” I take another deep breath and put my head in my hands. I feel like a lost cause. I feel weak and vulnerable and hurt, even now. Going back there, is what’s preventing me from moving forward, from getting on with my life.

I feel her petite, delicate hand slowly glide through my hair and stop at the back of my neck, “Christian.” I lift my head to look into her eyes, empathetic blue to agonizing grey. I shudder for a moment then give a very small smile. “Love, there are other points of view to consider in this story. There were…there are…things going on in this world, around the corner, up the street, across the pond with people you know, people you don’t know and people you never will know.”

“Remember, there are three sides to every story. You have to consider the point of view for every person involved. Your birth mother isn’t here to defend herself. You have the opportunity to speak ill of her as much as you want and she can’t contest you. You have the opportunity to curse and shun the people who knew her. You are afforded liberties she will never have.” I frown at her logic.

“You can plainly see she wasn’t born into her situation and I refuse to believe it was her life’s goal to become dependent on drugs or sell her body for any reason. I also seriously doubt she rejoiced in the vision of her only child being beaten in front of her very eyes. You’re an accomplished man Christian. You’re an intelligent man. Do you really think that’s a situation anyone aspires to?” When she puts it like that, I have to shake my head.

“Go to the Family Meeting. Listen to the Browns, ask your questions. If you don’t feel as though your getting enough answers, ask your questions again. Ask for more tangible information. Make them tell you everything you don’t know.”

She’s right. Ella’s not here to tell me herself. I’ve spent years with Flynn alone and countless other shrinks before him. My parents can only tell me so much. The Browns are my last stop when it comes to the mystery of the Crack…I mean Ella’s story.

Quietly, almost afraid of being heard I say, “You’re Ana, although I’m gonna call Dad to ask about the Birth Certificate first. Can we discuss how to handle all of this after we talk to him?”

Ana runs her fingers through my hair several times before responding. “Anything for you Christian” then she places her hand under my chin and lifts my lips to meet hers in a soft, healing kiss. “I love you” she whispers against my lips. I smile and nod the same.


Ring…Ring…Ring…

“Hello? Christian? How are you? Is Ana with you? When are you coming home? We miss you both so much!” Damn Caller ID.

“Hey Mia.” I roll my eyes and Ana stifles her giggle, “ Yeah, Ana’s here and we’re both fine. Look, may I speak to…”

“When are you coming hommme?” she whines and drags the word out as much as her breath will let her.  I have the call on speakerphone so Ana and I can hear the same information at the same time. Cut out the need to replay the conversation. Ana is sitting on my lap, as usual, and I squeeze her tightly as I try to formulate a response to Mia’s question. I look at Ana, begging for help and she quickly comes to my rescue.

Looking pointedly at me Ana jumps in, “Hi Mia, how are you? How are things with you and Ethan?” With that, Mia’s off, and running about herself first and the boring things to do in Seattle then she tell us how things with Ethan are strained at the moment due to the Grey v. Kavanaugh Feud.

“…and Kate has become simply bitch-tastic. At first Elliott and I were like, ‘ok, this’ll pass’, but after you left Ana, she just lost all sense of reason. Elliott believes she’s jealous of your happiness and he said he won’t have her projecting her problems on you, Christian or this family. They went out last night, but I haven’t seen or talked to him so I don’t know how it went. Ana, have you heard from Kate? She said she’s tried to reach you and some guy keeps answering your phone.”

I mouth ‘Barney’ to her and she continues with Mia. “Oh yeah, um…I mean no. I was having trouble with my phone and I gave it to Taylor to fix so…”

In true Mia fashion, she cuts Ana off, “I figured it was someone with GEH, which is what I told Kate when she started talking about you ‘coming to your senses’ and dumping Christian.” My eyes widen at the comment. Ana shakes her head and places a finger over my lips. “…that it had to be someone with GEH or something like that, if not Taylor himself. Well, that was like opening the floodgates. Kate rambled on and on, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Elliott left the room and a few minutes later we heard the door slam shut and his truck pulling out of the driveway.” Ana had to put her hands over my mouth to keep Mia from hearing my chuckle.

“Mom and Dad were too pissed, so I first took Kate back to Elliott’s. He, of course, wasn’t home, but since no one but he and Dad have keys to the new locks…” my eyes widen again and Ana nods confirmation to me. She told me Elliott put Kate out, but I figured all was well by now.

She really tore her skinny ass this time didn’t she?

I guess so.

“…we got back to her place and she didn’t even say thank you for the ride. Humpf. So how are things with you guys? How’s the weather? I bet the beaches are gorgeous aren’t they? You know I’m coming to visit Christian.” Now I know the coast is clear.

“I’m sure you want to Mia. May I speak with Dad now?”

“Dad? Oh, yeah. He’s not here.” She could’ve said that an hour ago, dammit. “He does have a job you know. Not everyone is a mega-billion-millionaire like you and you do recall the 14-hour time difference? It’ 9 AM in Seattle Big Brother.”

Oh yeah, I keep forgetting about that don’t I? Oh well, he’s been cussing me out from the privacy of his office for weeks now, what’s one more time, “Ok, I’ll try him at his off…”

“He’s in court all day. He should be home early this evening, I guess it’ll be like 7 AM your time. Give him a call then.”

“Oh hey, Mom just came downstairs, do you want to say hello? She misses you too you know.” Before I can protest I hear, “Hey Mom, Christian and Ana are on the phone!”

I lower my head and groan inwardly. Ana pats my back in a ‘there-there’ gesture then whispers in my ear, “It’ll be alright. You don’t have to work at distracting her. Just be honest.” I lift my head and nod. “Good Boy” she smirks at me.

HA, HA, HA!

Whatever.

“CHRISTIAN?” Why are they yelling? It’s not like we’re talking through tin cans…damn.

“Hi Mom,” I say, using my indoor voice, “how are you?” The weary sound in my voice is clear to my own ears.

“I’m fine Son. You sound tired Christian, are you all right?” Oh, just peachy.

“Yeah Mom, we’re good.” That’s the extent of my participation in this part of the conversation. Mom is off like a shot at the word we. I see where Mia gets it from. It’s laughable actually.

“Ana, Sweetheart how are you? I’m so pleased you’re there.” Once again, they’re talking about everything and nothing at all.

After about another hour or so of mindless chatter, as far as I’m concerned, Mom politely throws a left-cross, right-hook and upper-cut, “So, how are wedding plans going? Are you going to return to Seattle or will you hold the ceremony there?” She nailed it. When are we getting married, where are we getting married and when are we coming home?  All in foul swoop.

Ana looks at me, lost at sea. Now it’s my turn to smirk causing Ana to squints her eyes.

Like that’s gonna do anything Little Girl.

Being the gentleman I am, I come to her rescue. “We‘ve just been taking things one day at a time Mom. We haven’t even discussed the wedding. Ana’s looking into career avenues and GEH is landing new deals everyday.” Ana winces a bit when I mention career avenues.

Hell, it’s better than saying Ana’s applying for jobs.

“Well that’s good Son. I’m glad you two are together again, that’s the important thing.” I know she’s disappointed, but right now it’s not about her. As selfish as it may sound, this is about me and Ana. Grace and Carrick have helped me all they can. I have to carry the ball from here.

Hearing the sorrow in her voice, I have to give her something, “Mom, I know you want us home and we’ll visit…soon. Life here really is different and we’re enjoying it too much to walk away just yet. Please don’t be sad. I love you Mom. I’m not turning my back on you. You know I love you don’t you?” I’m desperate not to hurt this wonderful woman, the woman who saved me all those years ago and gave me the opportunity to get to this point. She gave me a life I didn’t know existed before I met her.

Another point of view in this story huh Grey?

I guess so.

“Of course I know you love me Son and I love you too. I also miss my baby boy and his beautiful fiancée.” Abruptly she calls out, “Ana?”

“Yes Mrs. Grey…I mean Grace.” I giggle at her slip. Nice save Baby.

“I’m trusting you to look after my son Ana. Take good care of him and remember to treat him like he’s your own.” I can hear her smile at the last part. I smile too.

Ana grins, “I promise I will Grace.”

“Good. Goodbye children.”

In unison we say, “Bye Mom” and end the call, somehow managing to keep the smiles on our faces after what was, in my opinion, an excruciating conversation. Ana and I share a deep kiss, our tongues reveling in their familiar and exciting dance.

When we come up for air Ana says, “Well? How would you like to proceed Mr Grey?” She’s obviously strategizing.

Oh, that’s easy because I have my own agenda. “It’s after 10 PM and there are still some virgin surfaces that require our attention Baby. We can pass the time while we wait for the Sun to rise so we can call my Dad.” My dick twitches underneath her just at the thought. My hands glide, slowly, up the sides of her delicious body to her shoulders then down her soft back. I stop midway down and quickly unfasten her bra through the fabric of her t-shirt, and smile at the look of disbelief on her face. It’s called skill Baby.

I pull her close to me and begin to lick and nip and kiss from her collarbone, up her neck to her earlobe. She willingly leans her head away from me so I have better access to her beautiful skin. I keep one hand on her back as the other rubs her thigh, then moves to her ass, up to her waist and finally reaches around her torso to her breast. I rub the palm of my hand over her nipple feeling it harden then I squeeze her sensual, full breasts causing her to moan into my mouth.

“Is that a yes Anastasia?” Unable to speak, she quickly nods her head, but that’s not good enough for me. “Say it Baby. Is that a yes?”

“Yes Christian…yes. Ah…” I stand with her in my arms and make my way to the stairs. “Where are we going?”

I smile against her lips then say, in a deep, lust-filled voice, “Second floor…Library. I’m gonna fuck you on the couch, you’re gonna ride my cock as I sit in one of the wingback chairs then I’m gonna fuck you against each and every one of the bookshelves in there. If you want, we can fuck on the desk…your desk…and in the chair behind it too.”

I’m gonna spread your legs apart, lick your sweet, slick folds and slide my tongue in and out of you until you Come like you never have before.  You can suck my balls, run your tongue along the underside of my cock and devour me with your luscious, sinful talented mouth. How does all that sound to you Baby?” Ana lets out a soft, sweet moan and she’s panting by the time we reach the Library door.


As I lift my head from between her thighs, I untie the drapery sashes from Ana’s knees. I gently massage her knees, making sure she’s not stiff, and lick the insides of her thighs as if telling the ladies bye-bye…for now. “You look so beautiful with your legs bound open to the arms of this chair Baby. I’m never going to be able to think about this room without getting hard.” I lay my head in her lap and breathe in deeply, the smell of sex on her body. Sex with me. I’m the only man to see her this way, the only man to touch her this way and only man to have her. She is mine, all mine.

“Ana…” I look at her post-coital beauty and see the love she has for me in her eyes and I feel that familiar tightness in my chest…in my heart.

I must have a frown on my face because her reply has a note of concern, “Christian?”

I shake my head, take a deep breath and say a silent pray for strength then quietly utter the words I’ve repeated to myself countless times, awake and in my sleep, “Anastasia Rose Steele, I love you. I want to love, cherish and protect you for the rest of my life. Be mine, always. Share my life with me. Marry me.”

With tears in her eyes she says, “Christian, I accepted your proposal months ago. My feelings for you haven’t changed. I still want to marry you. I still want to be your wife.” She softly touches my face and instinctively I lean into her touch.

“You misunderstand me Ana. I mean right now…right here. Not after a planned trip back to Seattle. Not after dress fittings and cake tastings. Not after guest lists, invitations and bachelor parties. Not after a practice run and a night with the families. We’ve anticipated this for months. The 30-day window I gave my mother has long past and we’ve gone through enough trials to last us from now on and even after we die. Please Ana. Marry me now.” I’m begging her. She’s my strength. She’s all the good I don’t have in me. She’s all the stamina I lack and I need her with me, forever.

“Christian, what about…” I cut her off at the pass.

“Our families? They love us and we can celebrate with them at another time. Ray gave us his blessing and if you want him to walk you down the aisle I’ll fly him here right now. Hell, I’ll swim back to Montesano and bring him to you. Whatever you want Baby it’s yours, just please marry me now.”

Her response stings a little, I’ll admit “Let’s get through this Family Meeting then we can decide how to go about getting married. I’m not going to let you go Mr. Grey. You’re stuck with me. We can be married in Seattle, in Townsville or in fucking Timbuktu for all I give a damn as long as we’re together…forever.” She takes my face in both of her hands and leans down to kiss me and it’s the softest, sweetest kiss I’ve ever felt.

“Now, let’s get your father on the phone so we can finish organizing for your meeting with the Browns.”

“We still have time baby, remember there’s a 14-hour time difference? We still have christenings to do. Next are the guest rooms. I’m angry I have neighbors now because I’d love to fuck you on each balcony of this grandiose home.”

“Alas, three out of four ain’t bad is it Mr Grey?” Is she fucking kidding me? Ain’t bad?

It’s the best fucking sex we’ve ever had and that’s saying something.

I’ve told her and told her, but she doesn’t believe me.

“Baby, you don’t know just how ain’t bad sex is with you.” I kiss the inside of her thigh, again, then run my tongue up to the apex between her legs and breathe deeply. I don’t have to look up to know she’s blushing. Her legs turn that adorable shade of pink as well.

I stand and hold my hand out to her. “Come.”

As she reaches for me, the house phone rings. What the fuck? “It might be Mom baby. Something must be wrong somewhere.” Ana, my parents, Elliott, Ros and Taylor have this number. After Taylor and Barney explained the issue with Ana’s phone I felt the need for another mode of communication. Hopefully this is secure. I reach across the desk for the receiver, “Grey!” I really need to learn to look at the Caller ID window. My ears begin to burn and my fists immediately clench at the sound of the voice on the line.


GREY
Mon Dieu, aidez-moi s’il te plaît
Dear God, help me please.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 17 Before the Storm?

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 17 | Before the Storm?

ELLA

“If that fucker thinks he’s welcome in this family…” Eran is so mad he can’t even finish his sentence. I’m in the backseat chucking to myself.

“Something funny Ella? Don’t worry, Everett will give that pretensions fucker what for. The bastard won’t know what hit him. Eran calls out to me from across the seat. I’m in shock.

What the fuck!

Everett isn’t going to hurt Christian. Christian’s family.

What the fuck is wrong with Eran?

Everett, Eran and Emerson all remember Aunt Ella and her relationship with Daddy. However, Everett was just as close to her as Daddy. I’m anxious to find out what went on between Evy and Christian too. I know, unless Christian got out of hand, it was an intense yet amicable pissing match, but that’s all.

“Ellie? Why are you so quiet? Surely you don’t hold well with that Grey fucker having anything to do with EB…do you?” Eran gives me a quick look in the rearview mirror and I explode.

“What the fuck is wrong with you? Is that all you care about? You both remember Aunt Ella. Don’t you care about what happened to her…to her son? Don’t you give a fuck about what this means to Daddy and Granddad? What it means to Everett. Mio Dio, you have the nerve to refer to Granddad as an asshole. I guess all that running away really did erase your memories?” I can hardly catch my breath.

In a condescending tone Eran says to me “We were there Ella, you weren’t. We saw everything, up close and personal, so don’t try that guilt trip shit because it won’t work. We can comment on anything in anyway we see fit, especially when it comes to this fiasco so just piss off.” Once again, my older brother has managed to shock the shit out of me. He remembers being there, he remembers what happened then why in the Hell is he behaving this way? I’m speechless.

Let Everett deal with these idiots. Don’t waste your energy.

You’re right, I have Liam Jared Beckett to attend to.

Precisely.

What the fuck was Liam thinking? He’s the one who said to give Christian time, so why did Liam approach Christian?

We pull into the driveway of the Family Home and Eran parks the car. Unfortunately, this conversation just gets better and better as we continue into the house and stop in the foyer.  Finally finding his voice and speaking up, Emerson The Peacekeeper chirps a weak-ass statement, “Leave her alone Eran, she sees the best in everyone.” Emerson looks down at me with sympathy in his eyes. He tries to maintain a sense of calm when we begin to argue among ourselves. Ironic, because he can fight with the best of them and win, hands down. He’s even knocked Everett on his ass a few times.

Before parting ways, Eran seals his fate. The fool doesn’t have the decency to lower his voice, “It’ll be her downfall one day. Ev’ll beat that son of a bi…” that’s as far as he got. None of us knew what was happening, until it was too late.

From behind, Everett wrapped his hand around Eran’s throat and simply began to squeeze. Everett’s voice was crisp, quiet and daunting as he hissed almost directly in our brother’s ear, “I know more about this subject than any of you and I’m telling you that son of a bitch is our aunt’s only child.  Our only cousin.  And you will respect her memory and her son as you do every other member of this family. Do you…fucking…understand me…Eran Rockhold-Brown?”

Eran’s face was turning dark red and his eyes were starting to close. I have to stop this. “Ev,” my voice sounds desperate, even to my own ears, “please Everett, listen to me.” Everett’s eyes slowly move in my direction and I immediately start to ramble. “Everett, please. I love Aunt Ellie too Everett you know that. Eran just ran his mouth without thinking. You know how Eran and Emerson are Everett.” From the corner of my eye, I can see Emerson’s facial expression change and his mouth drop open. I know he hasn’t said anything hurtful, but he sure as Hell hasn’t been helpful in this situation. “Please let Eran go Everett. Please.” While I agree Eran deserves to have his ass beat over this scene, Everett needs to calm down and rethink this course of action.

We’re all so engrossed in the outburst unfolding in front of us, we don’t see Daddy and Granddad enter the foyer. Daddy’s words were spoken softly, but that didn’t diminish their strength. Daddy moves to stand directly next to Everett, “Son, let your brother go. There has been enough violence throughout this situation, we do not need any more.” Everett’s only response to our father’s command is the lone tear I see escape from his eye. Daddy speaks again, a little softer this time, “Let him go Everett.”

Staring at the figure of our quickly fading brother Everett sobs, “He called Aunt Ellie a…” Everett’s voice sounds like that of a five year old and the sadness in his eyes is breaking my heart.

I feel a hand on my shoulder and strong arms encircle me, “Love,” Liam speaks just above a whisper in my ear, “come with me. Let your father and brothers work this out among themselves.”

I shake my head. I can’t leave them like this, “Liam…”

“Hush, come with me Love.” He says as he gently moves me away from the three generations of Brown men. The last thing I see is the look of pain in my eldest brother’s eyes and my father gently prodding him to release the object of his ire.


Liam stayed with me while my father coaxed Everett’s hands from around Eran’s throat. I’ve never seen Everett this emphatic about anything or anyone…other than Christopher. Pointing in the direction of Eran’s room Everett announces “That fucker needs to learn respect. If you or Granddad won’t teach him, I WILL!” He snarled the last two words.

Scrubbing his hand over his face, Daddy attempts to remind Everett, “Son, you know how Eran and Emerson are. They turned a blind eye to this situation for years. Your relationship with Ella and Christian was different from theirs. Just as their experiences during that time were different from your own.” Dad has tried to calm Ev down for the past hour to no avail. The only thing our father managed to achieve was to stop Ev, and then Granddad, from murdering Eran.

“You have to accept their coping mechanism, such that it is.” Daddy lost some of his conviction at the end of that statement. My brothers way of coping is to cop-out. They’ll laugh and joke and breeze past a family issue. There always seems to be something or someone more important. “They’re the same boys they’ve always been Everett. They haven’t changed.” I know Daddy’s not happy about that fact either.

Had he remained silent I would’ve forgotten his presence, but Liam Jared Beckett, once again, couldn’t leave well-enough alone, “If that dumb-ass brother of yours would keep his mouth shut he…”

I shoot Liam a glare blazing with rage. I step directly in front of him and poke my finger in his chest. The bastard is a foot or foot and a half taller than me, but I don’t give a fuck. I can still take his ass down. The bigger they are is my golden rule. “You started this shit”, I yell at him. “I told you to…leave…my…cousin…alone…damn you. Why the fuck did you…”

Little did I know there was an ulterior motive in tonight’s performance. From out of no where, Granddad bellows, “ELLA, ENOUGH!” I turn my attention toward the echoing sound.

I though he’d gone to bed.

So much for formalities when speaking in front of Granddad.

“I asked Liam to approach Christian.” My mouth drops open. There’s astonishment engraved on my face.

What the fuck!?

Ignoring my reaction Granddad looks past me to Liam as he says, “Thank you Liam, you did exactly what I asked you to do. I appreciate your assistance.” Liam nods, acknowledging my grandfather’s remark, but he never takes his eyes off of me.

Still gaping at my grandfather, my eyes are wide and I have to shake my head to try to clear the confusion from my mind.

We’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.

What the fuck is going on around here?

Standing tall and embolden with anger I announce “I want a Family Meeting and I want it NOW! I also want HIM,” I point directly at Liam “included.”

Now, anyone can call a Family Meeting. When it’s called all are to attend, it’s non-negotiable. The use of Skype and/or FaceTime are acceptable when one is out of town or overseas.  In the event you are technologically challenged you may, possibly be excused. However, it’s easier to get an Act of Parliament than to be allowed to miss a Family Meeting.

As adolescents and younger adults, Eran and Emerson had an uncanny knack for disappearing when “shit-uations”, as they affectionately referred to struggle and strife in our family, edged toward Family Meeting status, enabling those two to miss almost every single meeting.

I remember Daddy and Everett telling me how Eran was hiding out trying to devise a plan of escape, but Emerson told Granddad what Eran was up to so Granddad sent some of his security detail go and round Eran up. Apparently Emerson was pissed because his internal radar failed and he had to be at the meeting. When Eran arrived, it was a knock down drag out between he and Emerson before the meeting could begin, all because neither brother wanted to attend.

“Ahem, you’ll have to call Grey too, won’t you?” Eran quips upon making his return.

I guess near strangulation isn’t incentive enough to keep his fucking mouth shut.

Further antagonizing me, Granddad chuckles, “Yes she does and yes, she will contact him if she is serious about this meeting.” Granddad’s smile, a testament to his disbelief in my sincerity, is pushing the wrong fucking buttons tonight.

I pull out my iPhone and instruct Siri to “Call Christian.”

Siri’s male voice responds, “Calling Christian Grey.”

Ring…Ring…

“Grey!” He snarls.

He must have looked at the Caller ID.

There’s no fucking way in Hell he wants to hear from any of you.

Like I don’t fucking know this already.

As quickly as I can, I announce myself, “Grey, it’s Ella…”

He cuts me off, as I knew he would “What the fuck do…”

There’s no way he gets to control this conversation, “Shut the fuck up and listen you prick!” Suddenly, there’s silence on his end of the line. No doubt he’s staggered at my address. We’ve never been this pissed at one another.

“I’m calling to notify you about a Family Meeting and…”

Sounding like Granddad, Christian barks, “I’m not your fam…” He should really save his breath.

I’m in control here, fucker.

“Like it or not, you pompous ass, you are a member of this family. Rule One, when a Family Meeting is called all must attend. Exceptions are made for childbirth and death, your own mind you. You.  Will.  Attend.  GREY!”

“This is new to you, I understand, and tempers have gotten out of hand so I’ll be lenient and give you 24 hours to make your arrangements. We will meet at the Family Home in the Great Room, 7:00 PM sharp. I don’t abide by tardiness. And, as wonderful as she is, Anastasia is not eligible to attend this meeting. Get it?” He hasn’t gotten a word in edgewise. I’m actually surprised he’s been quiet this long.

“ANSWER ME!” I growl. I don’t like being ignored.

With a cold, distant sound Christian tries to brush me off, “I’ll check my cal…”

“No…the fuck…you won’t! You’ll attend or you’ll regret it.” I’m pissed, out of breath and panting so hard I’m almost hyperventilating.

“Give me that.” Everett snatches the phone out of my hands while Liam gathers me in his arms, trying to calm my nerves. Not one to mince words, Everett roars “COUSIN! Have your ass here in 24 hours!” Just like that, he ends the call and nods at me as if to say, ‘Done’.

Times like these, you need a good old-fashioned landline. Nothing like slamming the phone down so it rings in the other guy’s ear.

So true…technology ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Ev’s voice immediately calms as he lifts my chin and tells me, “He’ll be here Ellie. He’s too fucking obstinate not to come.” I nod absentmindedly, not really certain what I’m agreeing to.

Liam then speaks up, “Love, are you going to be alright?” Liam always worries about me. He remembers my Aunt Ella as well, so he understands the stress level involved in any discussion about her. Sometimes I get jealous at how vividly he can recall her when he tells me tales from his youth. Again, I nod.

No further words are spoken in the Family Home. I believe we’ve all had quite enough excitement for one year, let alone one evening. We knew telling Christian we are related would cause difficulty, but good Lord who the fuck knew it would be like this?

GREY

Who does that little bitch think she’s talking to? And that brother of hers can kiss my ass! I stand silent, glaring at the phone after Everett Brown hung up on me.

Ahem…

What in the name of all evil do you fucking want?

Don’t call her a bitch.

WHAT? Whose side are you on?

I’m on the side of right, damn you. The girl has been your friend. She’s looked out for you and protected you when Ana wasn’t here to do so.

I’m silent. I know he’s right…and I fucking hate it.

Cat got your tongue Grey? No smartass, witty retort for that one, huh?

Well she…they…they all…

Lied? Is that the word you’re looking for?

Yes mutherfuck…

Shut…UP! I’ve had enough of your talking, just listen.

Whatev…

Fuck you very much. She took the time to get to know you. She took the time to tell you about herself and her family. She took the time to introduce you to your surroundings, to make you feel at home. She listened when you whined about Ana not being here and, as I recall, she scared off a few nightmares by taking your 2:00 AM phone call and talking to you…all fucking night long.

No, she didn’t tell you she was your family. Would you have let her get this close to you if she had?

N…

I said, shut the fuck up! No! You would’ve cut her off like a gangrenous appendage and continued on your sullen and depressed way. I can’t say it enough Grey, she was your friend who turned out to be your family. She hasn’t done anything to you. She’s been there for you and taught your stupid ass a few things about interacting with other humans. Remember?

I smile inwardly as I think back on the rollerblading, surfing and her cussing me out for my temper tantrums then acting like nothing ever happened, once I calmed down.

You don’t know anything about your birth mother other than the fact that she was strung out on drugs, a prostitute and didn’t provide for you. You have no idea what was going through her mind, what was happening to her heart or her soul. You don’t know where she came from, what her dreams were or how she truly felt about you. You don’t know anything, yet to you, she’s better off dead and anyone who has anything to do with her is innately vile and disgusting.

You have nightmares, reliving your worse experiences going back in time night after night. Why the fuck can’t you move forward? They’re rich. They don’t want your precious, fucking money. They have plenty money of there own.  They haven’t bothered you since you stormed out of their home, other than to advise you of a meeting. They’re your BLOOD, dammit! Does that really mean nothing to you? REALLY?

I have Mom, Dad and…

Yeah, yeah, yeah I know the spiel, ‘I have a family. I have a brother and a sister and two loving parents. I’m not interested in extending my family beyond that.’ What-the-fuck-ever prick. You told Steele that shit during your interview then you fell in love with her…and look at you now.

When are we going back to Seattle because if all you’re going to do is run from the unknown then what’s the point of being here? Go back to your ‘perfect family’ and forget this place and these people, but let me tell you, I don’t want to have one nightmare, not one ‘what if’ thought, not one ‘I wish I had’ reverie. When one of these people is hurt, gets sick or, as they age, die I don’t want to feel even a pang of anything or I’LL be your END! Think about that…fucker.

“I will.” I mutter to myself.


“Christian? Are you ok Baby?” I’m sitting in the living room staring at the Great Barrier Reef, through the floor to ceiling window. I can’t see a thing. I’m lost. I’m at my own crossroad and I have no fucking idea which way to turn.

I look over my shoulder and at Ana, standing in the doorway, with what I know is fear in my eyes. I whisper, “Ana…” She slowly approaches me and sits on my lap. I immediately wrap my arms around her waist and pull her close to me. I nuzzle her neck, breathing in her sweet, calming scent.

She puts one arm around my shoulder and runs her fingers through my hair. She whispers, “Do you want to talk to me or would you rather call Fl…”

I raise my head and cut her off immediately. Looking into her blue orbs with desperation I say, “No! Not him! I’m not calling him! No!” I shake my head to emphasize my statements. Talking to Flynn is like admitting defeat somehow. I’ve been doing just fine. All I wanted was for Ana to be with me. Why is that too much to ask? I was happy before…before…I don’t even remember what happened to burst my bubble, but the free feeling I’ve had since I got here is gone. I need to tell Ana, not Flynn.

“Baby, I can’t talk to Flynn.”

“Why not Christian? He’s there to help you.”

“I’ll rephrase that. I don’t want to talk to Flynn. I don’t want his help. All I’ve wanted since I came overseas was for you to be with me. I wanted to be free from Seattle, free from security, free from Elena and…free from my family, I guess.” I shrug a shoulder. “I know that sounds bad, except for the Elena part.” She smirks at me.

I go back to nuzzling her neck and kissing that secret spot behind her ear, “I feel like the weight of the world is weighing on my shoulders again and I don’t like it. I want to be free.”

Free from what is the question.

She turns and kissed my forehead then coaxes me from my hiding place.  Seeing the glass as half full, Ana points out, “Well, Taylor’s not here so there goes your security problem. The Bitch-Troll isn’t welcome so that’s a done deal. Your family… that’s another story.” She raises a finely plucked eyebrow at me, still with a smirk on her face.

“We all know Karma is a bitch and being the shrewd business man you are I’m certain you remember, you’re only as good as you are specific. You said get away from your family, you didn’t specify what family and it’s too late to amend your request.”

Smart ass.

Once again, I go back to my hiding place, kiss Ana’s neck and make a point of my own, “Well, family is what you make it and right now, you’re all the family I want.” I slide my hand up her back and tangle my fingers in her hair effectively controlling her head. I finally raise my head and pull her face to mine so I can first kiss the tip of her nose, then her forehead then, her beautiful, soft lips. I’m rewarded with a growl coming from her chest as her eyes close and her breathing quickens.

“I want you Ana.” I whisper against her lips. “I want to feel your body underneath me.” I say as I kiss her neck. “I want to feel your legs around my waist, on my shoulders, straddled across my hips.” I softly bite her collarbone and glide my tongue to the other side of her neck. “I want to feel your bare breasts against my bare chest, your delicate fingers in my hair, your petite hands on my back and on my ass pushing me, forcing me deeper inside you.” She stunned into silence, so I continue.

“I want to lick your pretty, pink nipples then close my lips and suck on them one at a time, gently at first then harder and harder.” I lick the shell of her ear. “I want to nibble on each one then bite each one.” I tell her as I trail kisses to her temple. “I want to kiss my way from your breasts to your navel,” I whisper as I slowly kiss my way back to her mouth, “so I can run my tongue around inside of it. I want to follow your trail of love and lick you from your navel to your core, circle my tongue around your clit until you’re right on the edge of a climax then blow gently on it to bring you back down. I want to blow your mind and hear you scream my name Baby.” She’s breathing hard and so am I.

“Ana, do you want that too Baby?” She doesn’t open her eyes, she just nods slowly and pants in my ear.

I stand, with her in my arms.  In a slow, deliberate pace I walk to our bedroom and gently lay her down on the four-poster bed. She opens her mouth to speak, but I stop her with a finger to her lips. “Shh…Baby…hush. I want to talk to you, make love to you and fuck you all night long. Please just listen to me. Will you do that?” She closes her mouth and kisses my finger then licks it up one side and down the other. Finally she takes my finger in her mouth and begins to suck…hard. “Yes Baby, I like that very much. I have other things you can suck on tonight, if you want.” Still sucking on my finger, she looks up at me, a lascivious grin raises the corners of her mouth.

And so the evening goes.  Once we’re both naked, I go about doing all the things I told Ana I wanted to do to her and a few things I didn’t mention. When we’re finally sated, we snuggle and in our post-coital state we talked all night, some with words, some without words, but all with love.


When I woke up the next morning, Ana was lying on her stomach, eyes closed facing me. I rolled over on top of her sleeping body, her back to my front and slid my arms around her waist, my hands sliding up her belly to her chest stopping at their ultimate goal…her lovely, full breasts.

She wiggled and smiled beneath me as I began to slowly spread her legs apart with my knees until I could feel my cock slide down her back, over her butt cheeks and come to rest in the spot between her ass and her core. “Mmm,” I hummed in her ear, “you feel soft and warm..” I kiss the nape of her neck “…and warm and soft” I press my pelvis against her butt my cock moving closer to her slit. She smiled as I did this over and over again, my cock sliding, searching, stretching to reach its goal.

I kissed the sweet spot behind her ear and felt the first trickle of juice slide from her pussy onto my cock and drip off the end. Her lower lips began to twitch, begging for my attention

Not yet Baby.

I tighten my arms around her waist, grinding my dick further. If only she were ready. I’d love to claim her ass right now. She arched her back, opening her legs even more and raising herself to tempt me inside.  Her warm wetness running freely onto my growing erection. “Mmm Baby, so plump and juicy…is all this for me?” She begins to answer, but I pinch her nipples hard, warning her not to speak.

“Uh uh, uh Baby, remember? This is my time to talk. You listen and respond…with this luscious body of yours.” I slide one hand off of her breast to grab hold of my cock. As I rub the tip between her lower lips and around the entrance to her wonderland we hear the unmistakable kiss, between my cock and her cunt. “Aw fuck.” I hiss not able to resist her any longer. “Lift your fabulous ass in the air.  Press your ass against me. Grind on me Baby…aw fuck…yesss.”

Without further notice I slowly slide my rock-hard cock into her pussy. The more I give her, the more she wants. Her pussy contracting and relaxing, sucking and swallowing my cock then twitching as if begging for more and I have more than enough fulfill her needs. “There’s a greedy little kitten between your legs Baby.  Is she still hungry? My Ana nods quickly so I tell her, “Get up on all fours Baby. I’ll give her what she really wants.”

She does as I say and I do as I promised. All at once, I began to pound into her from behind. I leaned forward to squeeze her breasts and pinch her nipples. I slid my tongue up her spine and bury my throbbing cock deeper and deeper inside her core. Our lovemaking evolved into something turbulent…primal.  I slapped her right butt cheek, “You’re mine Anastasia. Don’t ever forget that. This”, I palm her mons and slide my index finger over her clit, “is mine as well. No one else will ever have you Anastasia. No other man will ever see what I’ve seen, touch you where I’ve touched you or be where I’ve been. You’re mine in every single way.”

I move my hands to her hips and hold her firmly in place then I pump into her harder…faster…deeper…deeper…the sound of my balls slapping against her ass as I fuck her is music to my ears. “I love you Anastasia…I love you. I want to…I need to…get lost inside you Ana. Please, I…ah…oh fuck your pussy is so…fucking…tight. That’s right Baby…grind on me…fuck me back…ah, ah…ahhh.”

I’m in Heaven. All thoughts are gone. Ana’s pussy surrounds me, hot, soft and wet…her ass pressed against my groin. Her soft, silky skin against my body. I hold her waist tighter, if that’s even possible, hang my head back and fuck her with abandon. Panting, pumping, sweat pouring down my chest. I fuck her for as long as I can…then…her body begins to tremble, her pussy gets tighter and I know my time in paradise is almost over. The changes in her body cause mine to respond as well and my balls tighten more and more.

I lean across her back, swivel my hips and kiss her shoulder then whisper in her ear, “Come for me Baby.  Give what I need.” My Ana makes no noise. She takes a deep breath then her pussy clamps down on my cock to suck out every drop of cum I have. I pump into her four more times before I still and wordlessly, find my release then collapse on top of her.

I roll off of her onto my side of the bed, taking her with me, her back to my front, my manhood still buried in his happy place. “Oh God, thank you Baby…thank you.” I repeat I don’t know how many times as I kiss the back of her head, her neck, her shoulder and hold her tightly against me.

When she finally speaks, the words make my heart melt, “I love you Christian. I love you.”


Sometime around early afternoon we get out of bed. I barely make it into the shower when I hear, “Courier.”

“I’ll get it.” Ana yells to me.

“Thank you Baby.” I yell back.

Never would’ve done that at Escala would you?

No, we wouldn’t. What’s your point? I thought you were gonna leave me alone.

My point is, life is normal here, where life in Seattle is…melodramatic isn’t a strong enough word…histrionic is closer… I’ll think about it and get back to you. Anywho, life here is better than anything Seattle has to offer and you know it.

Are you finished?

Sigh.  Yes fucker I’m…

I mean for REAL because I’m sick of this subject. It’s gotten OLD.

FINE! Ruin everything! Go right ahead, but don’t cry to me when your shit soup is served piping hot…just like you like it.

Fuck you.

No thanks!

The nervousness in Ana’s voice pulls me out of my internal battle of wills, “Christian, I signed for your package. It’s from Seattle.”

“It should be documents from Dad Baby, that’s all. Nothing to worry about.” I sound nervous too.

“Ok…well…it’s laying on the breakfast bar. I’m going to do some job hunting. Do you mind if I use your computer?”

“Not at all Baby. What happened to yours?”

“Taylor still has it.” Oh fuck. I completely forgot about the virus on her laptop and Blackberry.

“We’ll see about getting you a new one today. Go ahead and get mine out of my office.”

“Thank you…Love.” She giggles as I hear her move away from the bathroom door.

Normal.

Who’d of thought you could put Christian Grey and the word normal in the same sentence? I like it. I’m not ready to give up our little slice of heaven, especially not for some stupid shit.

Don’t start none Grey, there won’t be none.

Yeah, yeah yeah…I know.

After a nice long, hot, contemplative shower where I argued with myself about all things Brown related…

Hee, hee, hee..pun intended.

Whateva!

Ana and I enjoyed the lovely brunch she made.  “Damn Baby, you did it again.” I smile as I sit back and relish the last bites of my Greek Omelet and the last sip of my Single Estate Chardonnay Cava.

“I’m glad you enjoyed it. As much as I miss Gail and Taylor, I can’t say I don’t like having you all to myself. This is how we should be living Christian.” She hops down off the breakfast bar stool and moves to stand between my legs. “Baby, I want to be the one who takes care of you. I want to be the one who cooks, I want us to share cleaning duties because I don’t want you to get out of practice and I want us both to have careers.”  Oh good Lord in Heaven not this shit again. Can’t we ever get away from this job bullshit?

At this point, she can go flip burgers as Mickey D’s Grey. Give me a fucking break already.

I groan at the thought of this conversation. “Christian stop, you have to let me finish.” I sigh, put my arms around her waist and pull her to me.

I look her straight in her beautiful baby blues, there’s some apprehension there and I can’t figure out why “Ok Baby, the floor is yours.”

She clears her throat, determination evident in her posture.

She’s got this deal prepared Grey, be careful. Listen closely.

“Ahem…I looked at the websites Mr. Brown suggested,” I frown, as she hurries on, “the writer’s and publisher’s centre has some wonderful ideas. Like Mr. Brown said…” I zone out again at the sound of his name. She can work anywhere she likes and if there are publishing opportunities here, all the better, but why does she have to listen to him?

Cool it Grey. The man gave her some job ideas and she looked into them, that’s all. Fortunately they panned out and she’s interested in staying. Now fucking focus!

“…Isn’t that great?” She has a proud smile on her face when she finishes and I realize I missed something big.

Asshole.

I try to save face, “You can do anything you want to do, you know that. I have faith in your abilities Ana.”

I smile and lean forward to kiss her forehead, but she leans back away from me and asks, “Did you even hear me Christian?” I freeze.

WOO HOO! Didn’t take a Harvard degree to see you missed that one. HA! I love this girl. You lose her fucker and I’ll never let you live it down.

Never let ‘em see you sweat. I tell her the truth, “I heard you say you looked into the job opportunities that old-ass son of a bitch suggested, if that’s what you mean.” I didn’t realize until I saw the astonishment on her face that I was angry. “You’ll have to excuse me if I’m not particularly enamored with anything remotely associated with them Ana.

“Well, what I said was that I applied for a work Visa as well as the Townsville Writers and Publisher’s Centre Director position. I’m waiting to hear from them both. I also looked into the Writers in Townsville Society to see how I can help encourage aspiring writers along the way.” It seems as though she’s settling in, that’s a good thing.

Then she quickly rains on the parade, “Mr. Brown didn’t do anything bad Christian. He gave me some suggestions and let me take it from there. I could’ve easily ignored him.”

“I wish you had.” I mutter quietly or so I thought.

A flash of anger immediately blazes across her face and remains in her eyes, “Dammit Christian! Why in the fuck do you hate people who love you? You do it all the time. Why do you constantly find fault with people who want you in their lives? Please explain that to me because I’m at a loss to understand you.” She steps back and crosses her arms under her breasts.

No use in looking at the girls Grey, they’re not gonna get you out of this conversation.

I know…fuck.

“Ana, what do you want from me? They lied. They didn’t tell me who they were. She led me to believe we were friends. What do you expect from me?” I run my fingers through my hair.

‘How did anyone lie to you Christian? How did Ella lie? What have they done that was unfriendly toward you? You told me yourself Ella showed you around town, she listened to you, supported your desire to rid the Earth of that vile thing posing as a human being. So what did she do that was so despicable?” Before I have an opportunity to respond she continues making her point.

“Had she attacked you in the street saying ‘Oh, you’re my long-lost cousin’ would you have believed her?” I frown again. “No, you wouldn’t. You would’ve closed yourself off and gone all Fifty Shades on this beautiful town. You would’ve sacrificed all the peace and normality you achieved without giving it another thought.” What the…

Listen up Grey. She’s not pulling any punches.

“Instead, Ella Brown supported you in your emotional time of need. It’s what a friend does Christian. It’s what Kate does for me, when she’s not running her big mouth…”

Oh no, not her.

“Don’t even drag her into this conversation Ana,” I’m begging her, “please don’t.” I can’t deal with the thought of that bitch. Secretly I hope Elliott sees her true colors and makes a break for daylight.

Crazier things have happened.

“I’m just trying to put things in perspective Christian. Ella was…is…your friend. It’s just icing on the cake that she’s your family too. You told me how awful her brothers have been toward you, but it looks like that’s changing as well…provided you accept it.” Again, she finishes her monologue with a raised eyebrow.

Why does she love challenging me?

She knows the way to your heart. She knows the way to motivate your sorry ass. You say it all the time, you’re always up for a challenge.

Shut up you.

Without acknowledging her statements, I take my eyes off of her and visually scan the room.  “Where’s that package from Dad?”  Yes I’m changing the subject.

Her shoulders droop and her arms fall to her sides as she sighs.  “It’s in your office. I laid it on your desk along with the mystery letter. Will you let me know what’s in the letter, since it was addressed to me?”

“I’ll do better than that Baby. Would you mind terribly if I bring that shit out here and we go through all of it together?” The astonishment is loud and clear on her face. “Yep, we’re in this together Love.  New leaves turning over and all that jazz. Let’s start all over again, the way it should be. What’dya say?” Now it’s my turn to drop the gauntlet.

Rubbing her hands together she says, “I’m always up for a challenge Mr. Grey. Let’s get started.”

I retrieve the letter and the package from my study. We clear space on the dining room table and set to work reading the copious amount of information from my father.


ELLA
Mio Dio
My God

 

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 16 Our Spot

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 16 | 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 [1].  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 [2] 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 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 [3], 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 [4] 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 seat 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?”

“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.


[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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.

[4] Peanut Gallery is a group of people who criticize someone, often by focusing on insignificant details

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 15 Decisions…Decisions

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 15 | Decisions…Decisions

GREY

I told you once before I do not mince words and I do not care if I step on anyone’s toes. Christian, if you are thin skinned, you will need to leave now. Those statements hold true for every conversation with every person I come into contact with and they hold true today as well.” He said with a stern expression and a deep, solid voice. Whatever was on his mind was not to be taken lightly. I understood Mr. Brown and I was forewarned.

Anastasia and I went to the Brown Family Home for brunch. Almost from the time we reached the foyer things seemed different…off. Now, granted, I was anything but a regular visitor in their home, but somehow the air was thick with tension and even general conversation seemed forced.

Ella was actually nervous when she saw Ana and I walk into the dining room and she’s never nervous, except for maybe the very first time I saw her, in the park.

Ella and her father exchanged more than a few sideways glances at one another. I was about to ask exactly what the issue was when the senior Mr. Brown began conversing with Ana. “Tell me Love, what is your occupation?”

At first Ana looked at me in shock. No doubt waiting for me to loose it over Edward’s endearment. I quietly explained “Love seems to be a general term of affection. I was thrown off when Ella said it to me as well, but it kind of grows on you.” I gave Ana a warm smile and squeezed her hand lightly.

Mr. Brown watched our exchange then sought Ana’s forgiveness. “I apologize Anastasia. Please forgive an old man his even older habits, they die hard” then he flashed Ana a bright smile.

What the fuck old man? Watch it.

“Christian! Christian! Wake up Christian!” Where is that voice coming from?

Well Mr Brown, I am just beginning my career. I am a new Acting Editor for Seattle Independent Publishing.” Her voice is soft and rather timid. Does this guy intimidate her? While I respect Mr. Brown and value his opinion, daunting my fiancée is a hard limit for me.

Well Love, Townsville really is your cup of tea.” I saw the twinkle in her eyes. She loves all things book related.

What’s he up to?

How so Mr. Brown?” Her interest was clearly piqued.

If she found a job here, on her own, she might be willing to stay, at least for a while.

Hmm. He had my attention as well.

Well,the best place for one to begin retrieving information is from the Townsville Writers & Publishers Centre. It is a not for profit group, launched in June 2011, and provides support to emerging and professional writers and publishers who live in North Queensland. I know for a fact there is a new Director position available now and you can make your application online. You can use it either as a resource to locate an organization looking for a new editor or, which I strongly suggest, work for the centre itself and enable others to realize their dream.”

Impressive.

That sounds fabulous, but…” She stopped short. I knew what she was thinking, but I didn’t want to give her away. Ana still hasn’t decided how committed she is to living in Townsville. She’s not entirely against the idea, but she still seems to be up in the air. After a long pause she told Edward, “I do not actually live in Townsville, although Christian does.” She looked so sad.

Not to be outdone Edward counseled her further, “The Australian Government, Department of Immigration and Border Protection also has a website, with information on applying for a Visa, if you are not interested in citizenship. And, in the event you change your mind sometime in the future about remaining here, the same website has information on living in Australia and becoming a citizen. Just a tidbit to think about Love” THEN THE FUCKER WINKED AT HER!

Dude, calm down. He’s old enough to be her grandfather. Take a chill pill.

Chill pill my ass. He’s a good-looking older man and he looks a fucking lot like…m…

My fork stopped, midair, and a cold chill rushed through me. “Wait a minute.” I looked around the table at each of the Brown family members. “Who are you and what do you want with me…with Anastasia?” My gut instinct was screaming at me now, albeit after the fact.

That wink, that smile, we know those looks.

“NO! Please NO!” Not this, not here, not now. I can’t believe this. Who are these people?

“CHRISTIAN! CHRISTIAN! Can you hear me Baby? Come back to me Christian.” The voice begins to shout then sob. It sounds pained and frantic. Where’s that voice coming from?

Ella finally found the courage to speak, “We have not asked you for anything and we have not asked anything of you Christian. What do you mean, ‘what do we want’?” She looked shocked…and hurt. Immediately, I felt like an ass.

Her father reached over and gently touched his daughter’s hand, “Now Ellie, Christian was simply musing out loud. Isn’t that correct Christian?” THAT LOOK! The sadness in his eyes. I turned to my right and saw the same look, mixed with concern in Edward’s eyes.

Oh my God.” I managed to whisper.

“NO! NO! NO!” It sounds like my voice. I sound angry and hurt. I sound betrayed.

Ana touched my shoulder then asks, “Christian, Baby, what’s wrong? Are you feeling ill? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.” Ana is attuned to me, but not our surroundings, specifically our hosts.

I nod as I glare directly into Mr. Edward Rockhold-Brown’s lightening grey eyes. Humpf, I knew for certain my eyes looked exactly the same at that moment. I glanced over at Emmett, ditto, while Ella looked resigned to her fate. “I have Ana. Look around you.” I say with a stark, coldness lining my voice.

Christian, what on Earth…” I cut her off.

“Do you see anything oddly familiar about Mr. Edward Brown, Mr. Emmett Brown and myself? Do you recognize Ella? Think hard Baby. I know you don’t have the vision ingrained in your memory, but you commented about it when you saw her picture in that text message you received.” This time I glare at Ella. I trusted her. I thought she was my friend. Now I see it was all a ploy to get close to me, for what I don’t know, but surely the truth could’ve come out before now.

“Christian, I don’t understand. What’s wrong with you?” Ana was already frightened and now she was frustrated.

I calmed Ana down enough for her to understand me and just as I was about to ease her fears, Edward said, “My Dear, he is referring to our physical similarities and apparently he remembers his mother much better than I thought. The fact that he recognized the resemblance between her and Ellie is a testament to the impression she left on him.”

“I, my son and my daughter’s son have an uncanny resemblance. My daughter and my grand-daughter look strikingly alike as well. Emmett’s sons, however, resemble their mother.” He said all of that without ever batting an eyelash or taking his gaze off of me.

“NO! IT CAN’T BE! PLEASE NO!” I feel myself thrashing from side to side. I can’t stop myself. I’m fighting to get away from them.

“Christian, you have to wake up Baby. I’m here and I need you to wake up.” I hear a faint sound behind the chaos in my mind. Which is my reality? Which is my nightmare?

I abruptly stood up from the table and put out my hand to Ana, “Come Anastasia, we have to leave.”

“NO!” It can’t be true. Why didn’t they save us? Why didn’t they come for us? Why didn’t they come for me!?

Somewhere between this Hellish night terror and it’s frightening reality I hear a sweet melodic voice say, “Christian, please open your eyes. I’m right beside you Baby.” She’s beside me? Where? Why can’t I see my Ana?

“Christian, please open your eyes.” I try as hard as I can, then all of a sudden…I see her, my Ana. He beautiful baby blue eyes are round as saucers, rimmed in red and overflowing with tears.

I gasp, “Ana, you’re here!” A rush across the too-large bed and pull her to me. Oh my God she feels so good, so warm, so soft and she smells wonderful. I hold her tightly and bury my face in the valley between her breasts.

“It’s ok Christian. It was a dream Baby, just a dream. You’re safe. You’re here at home with me. You’re safe.” She coos and stokes her fingers through my hair immediately calming me, soothing my damaged soul. I nuzzle the inner mounds of her breast then begin kissing and biting her chest.

I turn my face to her left nipple and lap it quickly. The beautiful, tasty treat lengthens with each caress of my tongue and turns hard as I suckle her and bite down on the little pink pebble. “Hmm. Beautiful. Delicious” I say as my lips close over her nipple again. She tastes so sweet and feels so right in my mouth. I can’t stop sucking on her.

I turn my face to her right breast and suckle it as well. As I pull more of her breast in my mouth my member hardens and grows, pulsing, twitching, fighting to get out. “Open those pretty legs up for me Baby. Hold me the way only you can.” She parts her legs and wraps them around my waist, cradling me. I grind against her core as hard as I can, pressing my cock into her wet, warm, wonderland and feeling her juices dampen my pajama pants. I need more.

From where I lay on top of her, I feel a hum in her chest and hear a groan in her throat with each caress of my cock. No words are necessary. She releases her hold on my waist and I reluctantly take my lips from her breasts to wrestle with my pajama pants. I pull them off of my hips, ass and finally down my legs then yank her barely-there thong over her thighs. Kissing and licking my way from her groin back to her breasts, I massage her legs beginning at the soft spot behind her knees. I rub small, delicate circles on her skin with my thumbs igniting the want and need between her legs. When my hands reach her inner thighs I hold onto the flesh tightly and yank her legs open wider than before.

I reclaim her left nipple in my mouth and guide her legs around my waist so I can retake possession of her right nipple between my thumb and forefinger. I pinch and twist the lovely pink gem causing her to callout my name. My cock is erect and pointing due North, to the promise land between her legs. I grind my pelvis against hers and rub my dick against her warm, wet lips…then hiss. That’s my only preamble. Swiftly and with determination I slam into her hard and hold her beautiful, juicy hot core against me. “YYYEEESSS…” I hiss before I bury my face between her neck and shoulder and I pump into her harder and harder over and over again.

All thoughts are lost, all time is forgotten. I’m oblivious to her moans, her kisses or her gently whispered words. This is my favorite place to be in the world. This is where I belong…inside her. My Ana is here. She’ll protect me. I have to be further inside of her. I only need to feel her. Her sultry, sopping, silken pussy is my home. Her wet walls hold tightly onto my cock, rubbing against me like a velvet glove especially made for me. I can feel every ring of her vagina pulling me further inside. As my manhood continues to swell and pulse, I know I have to go deeper. I need more…balls deep.

I pull her legs from around my waist and put them on my shoulders. I lift myself up onto my arms and drive into her with all my strength, she meets me stroke for stroke, pumping against me faster and faster and it feels wonderful. I have to hold off my orgasm as I feel my balls slapping against her ass, the sweat running down my face and chest and dripping from my hair.

Suddenly, her legs begin to tremble, her stomach begins to tighten and her walls begin to quiver. I’m not ready to let her go yet. I need more. I slow my pace and take my time as I push my cock into her cunt. She opens her eyes and yells out “Christian! No!” Berating me for her missed orgasm.

I look down at her and beg her to understand my plight, “I need more from you Baby. Tonight, I need so much more. I’m safe here, with you…inside you. No one can hurt me…inside you. I’ll make you scream all night Baby, just let me be inside you.” At those words, my Ana leaned up, kissed my chest then sunk her teeth into my nipple sending an erotic volt through my torso and straight to my dick.

I pull up on my knees, never breaking our intimate connection, and hold her ass in place while I pump my cock deeper into her center…my center. I pull her ass against me with each thrust feel her legs tighten around the back of my neck. “That’s it, more Ana…more…gimme more Baby. Fuck me Ana…fuck me Baby.”

Just like a lightening strike, her walls closed, my balls tightened, her pussy gripped my throbbing cock and I felt the wave of ecstasy I was chasing run through me. Up and down my spine from the top of my head down to my toes, “AHHH, FUCK YES! YES! YES! I pump into her three more times relishing the feel of our aftershocks. Ana loudly calls out my name again and gives her orgasm to me. With a final shudder, I collapse on top of her completely spent.

All’s quite. I can’t speak anymore, I can’t think anymore and I don’t want to. All I want to do is lie here, inside her, inside my safe place, my favorite place in the world. “Christian,” Ana’s tranquil voice breaks the silence, “Baby are you alright? I’m worried about you. You haven’t had a nightmare since you’ve been away have you?” I can hear the anxiety in her sweet voice.

I nod. I want to enjoy this postcoital feeling, not talk about my nightmares. Those fucking things began reoccurring the night she left me, but I don’t want to think about that. She moves her legs from around my neck and returns them to my waist, again cradling me in her own special way.

Somehow still I can’t get them off of my mind. Somehow I still can’t get them out of my head. I pull Ana closer to me and once more bury my face between her stunning breasts, inhaling deeply. Without looking her in the eyes, I lick the side of her breast and bite down on the succulent flesh there before announcing, “Time for round two Baby.”

CARRICK

“DAMMIT CHRISTIAN I CAN’T UNDERSTAND A WORD YOU’RE SAYING! NOW CALM THE FUCK DOWN!” Good Lord in Heaven what the fuck has happened down there?

“Its five o’clock in the fucking morning Christian, that’s entirely too fucking early to call someone and ramble in a fit of rage. If you can’t speak using your indoor voice, right the fuck now, I’m going to hang up and you can call back at another time. Good… Now, I ask for the third time, what the fuck is going on?”

The last time we spoke, he was hopeful because Ana was on her way to Townsville. Now he’s clamoring about being lied to and babies and old men. If I ever get a word in edgewise I’ll ask if Ana’s pregnant. Until then, I’ll just have to ride this wave of bullshit until it ends.

To think, for someone who didn’t speak for two years, he’s got a big ass fucking mouth.

Shut up you, my son needs me. Now focus.

“…they lied to me Dad. They acted like they were my friends then they sprung this horse shit on me, like I’m supposed to just believe them.”

“Believe whom Son? Believe what? I’m lost in all of this Christian. Is Ana with you? Is she alright?”

“Yes, she’s here and she’s fine. She’s the only reason I’m not in some Australian prison right now. I can’t fucking believe this shit Dad. How the fuck did she even get to the United States? They can buy a pot of gold from a fucking leprechaun, why the fucking Hell didn’t they save her? Why didn’t they save ME!?”

Then, the line goes quiet for a few seconds. As I“m about to call his name Christian burst out with an, ”OH FUCKING HELL! Are they working with HER? This has got to be a ruse.”

“ANASTASIA!” He calls into the background. Thank God, maybe she can shed some light on this.

“We’re returning to Seattle as soon as I can contact Stephen to have the jet ready” with that statement I hear Ana gasp.

“Christian no, you’ve got to stay and get answers. We can go back once all of this is sorted out.” She’s always the voice of reason for him. He really needs to marry that girl…and soon.

I clear my throat and catch my son’s attention, “Why didn’t who save who Christian?” I sound like a fucking owl. “This is your last chance to respond to me young man, then I’m hanging up and taking YOUR jet to Townsville. Do I make myself abundantly clear?”

“Yes Dad”

“Good… Now, please answer my all-encompassing question. WHO?”

“The Browns” he sneers as if he were chewing on something nasty that he couldn’t spit out fast enough.

“You say that as if it’s an obvious answer Christian. The Browns who, and I’ll have you know I’m sick of saying that fucking word.” My blood is beginning to boil. I know he’s upset, but how the fuck am I supposed to help him when he won’t, clearly, tell me what the fucking problem is. He’d better be glad Grace had to go into the hospital early. I’d put her on the phone. Let her deal with his attitude. I swear he get’s this ranting shit from her side of the family.

“Edward and Emmett Brown” again with the clipped responses, wait a fucking second. It couldn’t be.

“Do you mean of EB, PTY Christian? Those Browns?” I whisper. Please let him say no. They’re in Melbourne. Townsville is more than 1,600 miles north of Melbourne. What the fuck is ‘ole man Brown playing at?

“You know them?” He says in the deathly quiet voice he learned from Grace and I. We never wanted to yell at our children so we agreed to lower our voices and speak distinctly. Apparently it’s a habit that rubbed off on Christian. He gets loud…REALLY loud, but the trouble doesn’t begin until he starts to whisper.

Hostile witness time Cary.

No doubt.

“Yes, I know of them Christian. Being such a large entity affords them the ability to place their mark on various facets of the world, including the law as, I imagine, their M&A acumen is deliberated in business courses.”

Be careful Cary. The boy’s not an attorney, but not because he’s stupid.

I know this all too well. Christian is absolutely brilliant, that’s why I was particularly hard on him throughout his life. The fighting, drinking and disrespect of all things academic were depressing considering the boy could out think EVERYONE, including me. Christian’s downfall is that his fuse is way too short to be allowed in a courtroom. Least until he made it to the bench, which he could’ve.

“Dad, please tell me it isn’t true. Please tell these people are just fucking with my head and out to take GEH from me. I need something to hang my hatred on. Please.” I’ve only heard this type of pain from him when he’s having a nightmare. This time his agony is real…it’s tangible. I knew this would happen when he said he was going to Australia. My concerns lessened when he finally confided he was going to Townsville, but I was still on high alert.

“I apologize Son. I wish I could tell you that.” DAMMIT! This is not a conversation to have over the phone, let alone when he’s more than 7,000 miles from home. DAMMIT!

“Son, have you questioned Mr. Brown to find out what documentation he has?” I won’t keep anything from him, especially now he’s been told, but I’m not going to bombard Christian either. One of Christian’s blessed curses, in addition to his attention to detail, is his ability to compartmentalize his thinking. Christian will actually file away a thought or question and bring it up at the most unusual or inopportune time. I think he does it for dramatic effect. Anyway, the more information he’s given the more files he creates until he can reorganize those files and formulate his plan of action.

This is what happens with his personal life. Christian’s emotional “separation of church and state” is due to his categorizing and assigning priority. Emotional thoughts get in the way of business and NOTHING is more important than business, until he met Ana at least.

Thank God.

Indeed.

He’ll keep his mind on business all of his waking hours, but when he gets tired and his mind is allowed to relax all thoughts regarding business move to the rear and his personal file explodes, thus leading to his night terrors. I keep telling myself he’ll be alright because Ana is with him. The truth of the matter is, depending on the severity of his experience while he’s sleeping, Christian can unintentionally cause physical harm to Ana in his sleep. Christian is probably a foot and a half taller than Ana and God only knows how much more he weighs, then there’s his musculature to consider. I shake my head. I’ve got to do something to either calm him down or keep her from sleeping with him, at least for a little while.

“Christian, I’m coming down there. Contact Stephen and have the jet ready by the end of business today, Pacific Time.”

“No Dad, you can’t come running every time I bump my knee. You’re right. I need to talk with Edward and find out just what he knows.” He sighs. He seems more resigned to his fate as opposed to calm.

“Are you sure Son? You know it’s no trouble for me at all and your mother doesn’t have to be involved.” In fact, this is one of the few, albeit most important things I’ve kept from my wife, the thought saddens me.

She’s going to find out.

Believe me, I know.

“I’m sure Dad. Could you send me any and all information you have about me, about my adoption and life before I came to be with you and Mom?” Research time. He’s planning an attack. Knowing my son, before long, he’ll have his eyes set on EB, Pyt. Brown had best watch out.

“I have all of your official legal and medical records. I also have a few things, mementos, if you will, that your birth mother left for you. I’ll have everything express couriered to you today. It should reach you in three or four days. Do you want me to alert Welch and Taylor as well?”

“No, Taylor is still here. He and Gail have rescheduled their flight and will be leaving for Seattle in a few hours. I’m going to address this personally. This experience has taken me back to the early days of GEH. It feels good to reacquaint myself with the way I began doing things, keeps me on my toes. As long as I have Anastasia beside me, I won’t go off the deep end, I promise Dad. Although, she may be leaving this evening as well. Taylor turned into Super Security Man after my nightmare and refused to leave until he was comfortable neither Ana nor I were in any danger.”

Taylor won’t last in Seattle without Christian. He’ll be bored shitless and dying to get back over there to keep an eye on things.

Taylor has Sophie to think about. He can’t rush out and make snap decisions like that anymore. I’m proud of Christian for not trying to force Taylor into staying in Townsville.

He’ll be back.

Bringing to halt my thoughts of Taylor, I vaguely hear Christian say something about Ana not staying in Townsville. “WHAT! WHY would she leave you?”

“Two words.” They better be two fucking spectacular words.

“Her job” I groan my disappointment. I know Ana is dedicated to following through on her career goals. Part of this is my fault with the prenuptial agreement faux pas. Grace made it all too clear Ana was hurt by the subject and while she’s always fought with Christian about working and succeeding on her own, she’s had to constantly deal with comments about the integrity of her intentions toward my son. Elena Lincoln’s gold-digger comment sits at the forefront of my mind.

She’s got some fucking nerve to talk.

“Precisely” Christian growls.

I sigh, “Well Christian, have you discussed the situation with Ana? Have you asked her to stay there with you?” I can’t imagine him not wanting her to stay. I’m sure he’s even gotten down on his knees and begged her to stay. She has that affect on him.

“No Dad I didn’t.“ WHAT?! ”I told her the decision was hers and hers alone. I don’t want her to feel controlled or pressured into doing anything. I believe she still doubts my sincerity on this point, regardless I refuse to push her.”

I scratch my head. This is a new Christian. I guess he has a point, “Good idea Son. Well, I’ll send you the material I have. I recommend you contact Edward Brown and listen to what he has to say then we can take further steps, if necessary.”

“Alright Dad, I look forward to reading the information you have and thanks again for your help.”

“Anytime son, you know we’re all here for you Christian. You never have to go through anything alone.” I don’t know why ventured across the pond, other than for business purposes, but I know he didn’t trust his mother and I to support him in any personal turmoil he may have been experiencing at the time.

After a few moments of silence Christian says, “I know Dad, really I do.“ I still wonder. ”Look, I’ve taken up enough of your early morning. I’ll talk to you later, bye Dad.”

“Bye Christian, and with that, the call is over.

I have a good mind to call Brown and ask him just what the fuck his problem is. We agreed he would leave Christian alone unless Christian, himself, expressed an interest in his birth mother or her family.

Not now, I have to get those documents together and possibly rearrange my schedule to allow for a trip Down Under.

GREY

He knew about this. He knew about all of it I’m sure. He was the go-to person with regard to securing guardianship and ultimately my adoption, while Grace took authority over my medical affairs.

He saw the pimp. He said I didn’t look like the asshole and that the fucker denied having anything to do with me.

No love lost, right?

Nope, none at all.

He has documentation and mementos? What the fuck kind of mementos, leftover crack pipe or a stray cigarette butt?

Grey, you’re NOT going to like what I have to say.

Then keep your fucking mouth shut.

Ahem, as I was saying, before I was so RUDELY interrupted

I sigh to myself, What the fuck do you want asshole?

What do YOU want?

Huh? What do you mean? I don’t want anything, except to wake up from this nightmare. I came here to get expand by business and get away from the pain and agony of Seattle then what happens? You guessed it, people I only knew of from school end up being related to me. I can’t fucking believe this.

Ok, now…what do you want?

I laugh out loud, but take no solace in the sound reverberating around me. You kill me. Question asked and answered dickwad.

Save the name calling ass-WHOLE. You and I BOTH know you want to find out about your family. You want to know where you come from and who you come from. You’re scared of the unknown and that’s reasonable to a certain degree. These people as you like to call them are your family and they’ve looked out for you since you arrived here. As far as when you were a child, well…you have to delve into the lion’s den to get answers about your history.

Suppose you and Anastasia do get married one day. You know how she is about family. She’ll want to know everything about them and you. Plus curiosity is killing you, right? I know the thing that’s fucking with your head is the fact Carrick knew about all of this and didn’t tell you, but consider how disinterested and/or non-receptive you’ve been about who you are let alone who you belong to. You need to find out…WE need to find out. Do it for my peace of mind, I promise I won’t hate you for it.

I’ll consider it. I want to see Carrick’s documentation and mementos before I go rushing over to talk with Brown. Actually, right now, we’ve got a more pressing situation to address.

Anastasia.


Knock…Knock…Knock

“Come in.” I don’t even bother looking up to see who is entering my study. If it’s not Ana they can go to Hell.

“Christian?” Her voice is as soft as a spring breeze. Her voice always calms me. It’s what I need…no what I want to hear.

“Ana”, I sound desperate to my own ears. “Baby, would you mind sitting with me for a little while?” She gives me her pretty little shy smile and meanders over to my chair. Ana climbs up on my lap and snuggles into my chest. I strum my fingers down her back causing her to hum against my neck. I close my eyes and sigh contently, “Ah, that’s nice baby, thank you. You’re the best medicine.”

I look down at her and smile, but then immediately frown. She gives me a confused look then asks, “What’s wrong Christian?”

“Baby…when are you leaving? Gail and Taylor should be going tonight. If they do, it’ll be a couple days before Stephen will be ready to make that back and forth trip again. If you plan on getting back anytime soon, you best get ready to leave with Gail and Jason.” There, I said it and I said it all. Now, will she stay with me or will she leave me?

At first, Ana frowns back at me, but quickly her eyes take on another emotion and this one I recognize loud and clear. I certainly wasn’t expecting it. I see rejection written all over her face. She lowers her head then whispers, “Do you want me to leave?”

I put my index finger under her chin and raise her eyes to meet mine. Sadden blue to confused grey, “Anastasia, I’ve been begging you to come back to me since before I went to Taiwan. My story hasn’t changed since I left the United States. No, I don’t want you to leave me, but I also don’t want your career to suffer and you resent me for it. After everything we’ve been through Baby, neither one of us could withstand that” she nods her head absentmindedly.

“If you feel it’s best for you to leave, I ask that you let me know as soon as you decide. It’s going to take some getting used to after seeing you again, and with all that’s happened recently I’d really like a head start on reorganizing my thoughts and feelings.” If I’m going to be alone, I need to know so I can get my head together. It doesn’t have to make sense to her or anyone else. It’s just how I operate.

She nods her head a few more times then staring directly into my eyes she tells me something I never would expect to hear from Ana, not in a million years, “Fuck my co-workers, fuck Roach and fuck Kate! I’m not leaving you and it has nothing to do with the latest episode in The Life and Times of Christian Grey.” I now my eyes are wide.

“I love you Christian and once again I’ve caused us both a lot of unnecessary heartache. I’ve run from you twice now and each time was based on my perceptions and mine alone. I thought the only way I could be with you was to be your submissive. I didn’t think about being honest and telling you how I felt about you. I was more worried about it being too soon or what Kate would think or how my parents would feel. I didn’t take the time to see how you and I felt…about us.” She looks at me, somehow pleading for me to hear her…to understand her but most of all to...believe in her, again.

“Now, I’ve run because I thought being in charge of my own life, being independent, made me more creditable than if you were to give me any kind of help. I’ve learned that help is nothing more than the word implies: to make it easier for someone to do something by offering one’s services or resources; offering assistance. You can help me all day, but if I don’t know what to do with that help then it’s all for naught.” I stay quite. I can’t believe I’m hearing her correctly. Is she saying we’re alright? Are we gonna be ok now?

“In the time we’ve spent apart I’ve learned to be careful who I listen to because everyone may not have my best interest at heart and even if they do, I have the final decision. I also learned I still have a long way to go in opening up and talking to you, even if that means telling you to fuck off and mind your own business.” I give her a small smile. All those lonely nights at Escala…all of the time I spent in Taiwan…even, up until recently, here in Townsville, she has no idea how much I would’ve given to hear her tell me to fuck off rather than hearing nothing from her at all.

“You’re a rich man Christian, but you’ve never rubbed that in my face. I need to accept who you are and how you are or I need to go away and leave you alone…and I’m not going anywhere. I’ve missed you so much my heart actually hurt. I let other people’s ideas about how my life should run come between us. You matter to me and I matter to you, that’s what’s important.” She gives a little nod as if to say “take that”.

My surprise and astonishment change into love and admiration, “I’ll be here for as long as you’ll have me Baby. I love you.” I wrap my arms around her little body, “Oh Ana, thank you Baby. I need you as well. I’m nothing without you. Please don’t leave me again, please.” I hold her tightly against me as if my life depends on her, which it does.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 14 Alright

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 14 | Alright

STEELE

“Ana, honestly, I don’t know that I ever want to return to Seattle…permanently.  I know I’ll have to go there on business, but to live…I can’t say.”…

“Baby, why would I go back to that?  Can’t you feel the difference between Townsville and Seattle?  It’s in the air, the sun, and the water.  You can feel it in the sand under your feet.  I don’t want to go back to Seattle; not right now at least.”…

“Ana, in my heart of hearts, I don’t want to go back to Seattle.  I’m not trying to be mean, I’m not trying to pressure you and I’m definitely not trying to control you.  I only know that for my own peace of mind, I can’t go back there, I just can’t.”…

Stay in Australia, permanently?  I can’t stay in Australia permanently?

For the sake of argument, why not?

I’m a citizen of the United States.  I can’t just pack up and move to Australia.

Ahem, why not?

I don’t belong here.  What about my dad?

He lives in Montesano and has for quite a while now.  It’s not like he’s a 95 year old man.  He manages just fine without you.

What about my mom?

I really, really, REALLY don’t want to touch that one.  Can you come up with a few more excuses first?  I need a lot of strength to tackle that conversation.  That and…

What about Kate?

I FUCKING KNEW IT!  THAT’S IT!  I…HAVE…HAD…ENOUGH…OF THIS!  Steele, and I mean that in name only, are you SERIOUSLY going to start this bullshit bash again?  I can’t think of another way to say this to you, GROW THE FUCK UP!  That bitch…oh my God why am I bothering?  You know what, fuck it.  YOU handle this one on your own.  I’m done trying to be the voice of reason here.  You don’t listen and you won’t learn.  Wake me when it’s over.

WAIT!  I need your help.  I can’t do this alone.  I need time to process all of this.

Sweetie, what’s there to process?  You think en-fucking-tirely TOO fucking much and that’s putting it more than mildly. Rhetorical questions dear:  (1) do you love him…

I…

Ahem, which letter in the word rhetorical did I mispronounce?

None.

Thank you, and I won’t repeat myself so listen well:  (2) do you trust him and (3) how much, of each?  You take it from there honey.

Well, one and two are no-brainers, yes I love him and yes I trust him.  How much?  I don’t know.  Is there a scale from one to ten I should use to measure how much?  How the fuck do I know how much?  I’m not leaving here without him though.  He’s just having a Christian Grey sized temper tantrum.  He hasn’t thought this through entirely.  There’s no way he’s going to run GEH from Australia.

I march off in the direction of Christian’s study.  As I approach the door, I hear uncontrollable laughter and…IT’S COMNG FROM CHRISTIAN!  The sound is so strange, but also comforting.  I’ve heard him chuckle every now and then, but never a full blow laugh.  I smile imagining the look on his face as I hear him pant for air.

What’s so funny anyway?

“Tay…Taylor. Her old man…was in Vietnam. He served in the air and on the ground. Her granddad…WOO, you should see your face…her granddad served in World War Two in Europe…oh fuck, I can’t breathe…this is too much…mainly on the ground. WOW! Did you just turn green…HA HA HA…don’t hate mutherfucker. I sent you to deliver a simple report, not a warning. Oh…ok…lemme catch my breath.”

Sent Taylor where to deliver what report?  What’s going on?  I have to hear this.

How does it go?

How does what go?

“Never listen to phone call that isn’t meant for you.  Never read a letter that isn’t meant for you.  Never pay attention to a comment that isn’t meant for you.  Never violate people’s privacy.  You will save yourself a great deal of anguish…”  Joseph Kennedy, True Compass by Edward M Kennedy

I sigh, you’re absolutely right.  What kind of trust am I showing by eavesdropping on his conversation?

Come on, there has to be a book in this place somewhere.

GREY

After talking with Taylor, I went looking for my sweet Ana and found her lounging on one of the balconies.  The view of the Coral Sea is magnificent, a continuous blue, from the sky to the water, deepening, becoming more intense as it defends onto Magnetic Island and the ocean below.  If not for the island itself,  you wouldn’t be able to tell where the one ended and the next began.

A soft breeze blows through Ana’s hair as she looks off into the distance, deep in thought.  I hope nothing’s wrong.  I want her to enjoy our time in this place.  In the event it’s the last time we’re together, I want it to be memorable in a good way.  She hasn’t said she wanted to leave with Jason and Gail, but I’ve learned not to underestimate her.  She may decide once and for all that her friends are right.  She may feel that I only want to control her and moving to Australia is just a ploy to exercise that control.

That’s not the case.  It’s not fair for her to hold something like that over your head.  You didn’t forbid her from going back to the United States, you simply said you wouldn’t be going back anytime soon…for your own peace of mind, not simply for business.  She has to see things are different here…you’re different here.

We both know you can’t control her…you can’t rush her either, remember?  She has to think about what you told her.  Let’s not get into a pissing match.  She’s here, in this beautiful location and you two have had a wonderful time so far.  Enjoy this.  Don’t dwell.  Keep a cool head and go to the beach party.  We can deal with the emotional flood later.

I nod.  You’re right.  “Hey Baby, everything ok…”


“Wow Christian, this is beautiful.”  As the Sun begins to set, we arrive at The Strand, a 2.2 kilometer palm tree studded beachfront promenade with a magnificent view of the Port to Townsville and Magnetic Island as well as view stretching all the way to Cape Cleveland.  This evening, the sky shines bright orange.  The Sun has not yet touched the horizon; instead, it hovers over the water like a fireball with clouds wafting past.  The scene is splayed over a vast deep blue sea.

I initially thought a beach party was infantile, reminiscent of college days gone by or just a slacker’s way of throwing a fundraiser together.  Man was I wrong.  The bicycle and walkway paths are lit with lanterns and the glow coming from the mini-bonfires strategically placed along the beach.  Ella explained to me it was necessary to stay back at least 50 meters from the water’s edge and 2 meters above the high water mark.  The committee knew logistics for this event would be a challenge.  Taylor made certain he and the security team had additional preparedness and frontline medical aid training.  EMTs are nearby, but Ella stressed caution, even if we didn’t see warning signs.

In addition to the live music, playing a mix of jazz, 1980’s pop and R&B, the Entertainment Committee managed to procure carnival games.  Nothing major, Dime Pitch, Ping pong Ball and Fish Bowl, Balloon and Dart, a Weight Guessing Booth and what I’m told is an absolute must for a beach party…a Kissing Booth.  I shake my head at the whole lot.   The sights and sounds are wonderful and everywhere, then, gently floating through the air we hear,

Seeing that your love’s true
Never I’ll doubt you
My heart belongs to you
That’s alright with me

Worlds could end around me
So in love that I can’t see
You and me were meant to be
That’s alright with me

Friends come and friends may go
My friend, you’re real I know
True self you have shown
You’re alright with me

Through thick and thick to thin
I’ll love you till the end
You know it’s true my friend
You’re alright with me

Alright with me
(Alright with me)
Alright with me…

I look down at Ana who has a puzzled look on her face “Did you request this song?” she asks me.

“No,” I shake my head, “I was going to ask you the same thing.  Fitting though, huh?”  I pull her closer to me and we continue down the beach.

Catch a fallin’ star that shines
Make a wish clap three times
Dreams come true it’s in the mind
That’s alright with me…

I kiss the top of her head and wish for happiness.

…Your wish is my command
Never thought I’d fall in love again
Again with my best friend
That’s alright with me…

If she commanded me to return to Seattle, I’d go.  End of…  Please God let her stay here with me.

…Friends come and friends may go
My friend, you’re real I know
True self you have shown
You’re alright with me…

I think about Kate and Jose.  I wonder if keeping them in her life is more important to Ana than building a life with me.

…Through thick and thick to thin
I’ll love you till the end
You know it’s true my friend
You’re alright with me…

It’s true, I’ll love her forever, no matter the circumstance.  There’ll never be anyone else for me.  She’s ruined me for other women, no one will ever compare.

…Always and everlasting
This love is just not passing
We’re happy as can be
Alright with me…

Can’t we just be happy?

Alright with me
(Alright with me)
Alright with me

Worlds could end around me
So in love, I can’t see
You and me were meant to be
That’s your love it’s alright with me
Alright with me

Me too.

As the final words of Janet Jackson’s song Alright finish.  Ana snuggles up under my arm and we both breathe a sigh of contentment.  I whisper-sing, more to myself than to anyone else, “This is alright…with…me.”

All along The Strand we pass young and old guests alike, “It really did turn out lovely didn’t’t it?  I wasn’t sure how it would look.  This isn’t like any of the events my mother hosts,” but this isn’t her event.  I smile to myself.  I helped with this one, at least a little.  It feels good to participate, not just write a check.

Hmm, change is good after all.

No doubt.

“I think it’s wonderful, almost like going to the fair.”  Her eyes sparkle as she smiles.  I never went to the fair as a child, or as an adult for that matter.  All of the people bumping into me or touching me, even by accident, was too much for me to bear so I would stay home with the housekeeper while my family enjoyed the festivities.

We missed some great times it seems.  All the better to make up for it now.

I guess my contemplation is showing on my face, “What’s wrong Christian?”  Ana looks up at me with genuine concern in her eyes.  I shake my head, not wanting to spoil the evening, and we continue on.

After a while, we stop and eat some delicious smelling roasted pork and sample potato salad, macaroni salad, baked beans, fresh fruit salads and many more trimmings.  Even Gail joined in the festivities and made my favorite…yepper mac-n-cheese and it was enough for the masses.

How does she do that?  Did she work for the military before coming to work for you?

Not that I know of and not that I care.  I am in heaven.  The Refreshments Committee added food from a local Korean Fusion restaurant onto the menu to try and cater to varied tastes.  A few committee members did some recipe hunting with regard to American cookout choices so I would feel at home.  Ella assured them it wasn’t necessary…apparently they ignored her.

They won’t hear me complaining.

Me neither buddy.

Ana giggles at me as I eat.  I guess dropping food down the front of my shirt qualifies as humor.  God I love that sound.

I raise a brow and ask, “Miss Steele, is something amusing you?”

Her smile slowly changes from playful to lust-filled and her eyes begin to blaze.  “Yes Sir.”  She whispers, so only I can hear her.  My breathing hitches and our eyes lock.  Oh Baby, what you do to me.

I shake my head to rein in my desire, “All good things Baby, you know that.  When we get home, we can make our wishes come true.”  She smiles brightly again and I give her a loud, wet kiss on the lips.

God, this feels so good.  Just think, we have no personal security trailing us.  The only security here is for the event.  We’re free!

I don’t know why it means so much to me not to have personal protection.  I am the one who stresses the need for security and here I am, not only breaking protocol but also enjoying it.

It’s called being normal Grey; no ivory tower, no need for Secret Service Agents.  We’re just plain folk enjoying the evening’s festivities.  No women falling all over themselves, batting their eyelashes and tossing their boobs under your nose…not that there’s anything wrong with that, occasionally…I am just saying.  Ana can go, do and see whatever she wants.  No one is following her and there’s nothing to report because she’s safe.  This is what life’s supposed to be like.

Why would she want to leave here?  I don’t understand.

ELLA

“Hello Ellie, you look lovely as usual Sweetheart.”  My father strolls up from out of nowhere and kisses me on my cheek.

“Thank you Daddy.   You, however, are trying too hard.”  My father looks at me wide eyed as if he doesn’t understand.  Anytime he goes to a beach party or pig roast he wears light blue Bermuda shorts, a white polo shirt and brown flip-flops.  It’s almost his uniform; you can spot him a mile away.

He’s had a pedicure so he passes inspection.

This is true.

“Whatever do you mean Love?  The invite didn’t specify a dress code so I opted for comfort.”  He gives me a lopsided grin.  His curly, light auburn hair and grey eyes look orange as they reflect the light from the bonfires.  Even now, my father is still a very good-looking man, tall, broad chest, large biceps and a smile to die for.  Women have always been a biological hazard for him, as far as I’m concerned.  He’s my Daddy and no woman is ever going to be good enough for him in my eyes.

My brothers have dumped many a girl for making eyes at our father and Daddy eats it up.  He once bet Eran and Emerson that Everett’s new girlfriend wouldn’t make it through the first course at a family dinner before she winked at him…the first time.  When they looked stunned, he upped the anti and bet them exactly how many times she would wink at him before she left.

Not seeing Daddy for the good-looking man he is and putting entirely too much faith in the tramp population they all  seem to attract, they told my father he was senile and bet she wouldn’t give him a glance.  I had to get in on that one.  It was easy money.  Needless to say, Granddad threw her out for inappropriately addressing his son and forgetting with whom she arrived, while Daddy and I lined our pockets.  Neither Eran nor Emerson has made a bet, at least not with one of us, again.

“Sure thing Daddy,” I wave my hand at him dismissively, “whatever helps you sleep at night.”

“That’s no way to speak to your father young lady.  You were raised better than that.”  A deep voice rings out above me.  I turn my head, but no one’s there.  I look at my father who has a shit-eating grin on his face, but shrugs his shoulders nonetheless.

“Don’t look at him, you know very well that I’m right.”  This time I turn my whole body to face the sound and look up into the most beautiful, dazzling, emerald green eyes.  Eyes I know all too well.

“LIAM!”  I squeal and jump into his arms.

“Ellie, dolce, dolce Ellie.  Mi sei mancato così tanto” he whispers his endearment to me while stroking my cheek.  I’m smiling so hard I feel as if my face will crack.  He can be a very sweet man when he wants to be.  He can be every word in the definition of putz as well.

“And I you my Love.”  I whisper back to him.

My father clears his throat then speaks loudly, “Liam, it’s good to see you young man.  Are you back permanently or just stopping through?”  Liam puts me down and greets my father, who claps him on the shoulder…hard.

Must be a man thing.

No doubt.

“I am back for good Sir.  There’s only so much you can learn at school.  Sooner or later you have to put at least some of that knowledge into practice.”  Liam attended Yale…for a long time.  People make fun of we Browns, ‘Oh, they think they’re so smart…’ ’They have all of those degrees…’  ‘They’re so rich…’  “They’re TOO perfect…’  Well, I make fun of Liam.

Liam Jared Beckett graduated at the top of everything.

Well…someone has to be there, why not him?

That, my dear, is the definition of a rhetorical question.

Liam has his Bachelors of Arts in Economics and Mathematics, PhD in Economic History and was a participant in the World Fellows Program.

YUCK!

Tell me about it.

“You’ll need more than practice to beat this little one.”  Daddy says and kisses me on top of my head as he begins to walk away from us.  He turns back, grey eyes on fire as he says, “Oh, Liam, non cercare di parlare dolce mia figlia.  You’re not the only one who speaks italiano, spagnolo o francese to name a few” then he’s gone, into the crowd.

I shake my head, Liam knew Daddy would understand what he said.  We each speak various languages, especially when we’re pissed.  Granddad taught us it was necessary for business.  We’ve learned it’s a useful tool outside of business as well.

I look up at Liam again, “How are you Love?”  I’ve had a crush on Liam ever since I can remember.  We were born on the same day, six years apart.  I always took that as a sign we were meant to be together.  Although, the time he brought a girl home with him on holiday, I was devastated.  He came to visit me, out of habit.  I made sure I couldn’t be found.

There are advantages to living in a large, old house with lots and lots of hiding places.

“I’m well.  You all did a great job Ella,” he looks around the beach, “this is a new spin on an old tire.  Good to see young and old actually enjoying this event.”  He looks down at me with his green eyes dancing, as he smiles and says, “You look beautiful Baby.  How’s my little Sting Ray?”  I cringe and make a face.

I always hated him calling me that.  Just because I’m small, every man I’ve ever met has taken my diminutive size and easygoing persona for granted.  I can give better than I get and for some reason men take that as a negative.

He was twelve the first time I had to kick Liam’s ass for some reason or another.  He was picking on me, like boys always did and I got tired of his shit.  That’s when I first used my Daddy’s take down move.  Liam never knew what hit him.  His last recollection was pointing and laughing at me.  The next thing he knew, he was on the ground, face down, with my foot in his back.  When he twisted his neck to look up at me, I smiled and told him, “Liam, I’ll do this each and every time you piss me off.  Do you understand?”  He nodded his comprehension and I let him go.

That wasn’t enough for him.  The next time he felt high and mighty he was sixteen, trying to impress his friends.  He made a snide she’s just being a girl remark when suddenly, swoosh, he was on the ground wishing it would open up and swallow him.  To this day, his friends haven’t let him forget the incident and I bring it up now and again for good measure; keeps him in line.  His only response was to name me Sting Ray.

“Good, still dodging Granddad, but otherwise I’m good.”  He tilts his head to the side and raises an eyebrow.  Ok, so he doesn’t believe me.

“You know I don’t believe you, right?”  I nod.  I don’t know how, but he can tell when something’s bothering me.  It’s extremely annoying.

“I know you don’t believe me, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m telling you I’m good.”  I nod my head with finality.

“Ok, ok, you’re good.  I’ll just have to stick with that story until the truth comes out; and you know it will.”  He says with his high and mighty tone.

Pest.

I absentmindedly nod my head.

“Ella.”  He struggles to say my name.  It’s with a mournful expression on his face that he says, “I saw the pictures of the two of you together…holding hands…laughing.”  Liam squeezes his eyes shut and asks me, “Do you love him Ella?”

When he opens his eyes, I see the hurt in them, I’m shocked and I know it shows clearly on my face.  I spent time with Christian to protect him.  When Granddad found out he was here, he knew Christian would be a target of the media as well as all of the gold-diggers on this continent.  I didn’t randomly run into Christian in the park…or at the coffee shop for that matter.  Granddad wanted Christian watched and protected.  Christian Grey didn’t know who Ella Brown was but Australia and places beyond do and I feel I’ve been effective in my task.  It was all a means to an end.

Befriending Christian afforded him the protection he needed.  No one is going to cross my grandfather, my father or me.  Sticking close to Christian prevented a lot of potential bullshit from the locals.  Holding his hand and letting shutter-fuckers get a few pics was just the way of make a broader announcement, LEAVE THIS MAN ALONE!  I wasn’t trying to tag him as mine.

“Ella?”  Liam’s strained voice brings me back from my reverie.  “Do you love him?  I have to know.”

“No Liam.”  I shake my head for emphasis, “I don’t love him…not like that at least.”  I whisper the last part or I thought I did.

“What do you mean, not like that at least?  I don’t understand Ella.  What about us?  You are mine.”  He pulls me to him.  I wrap my arms around his waist and hold him as tightly as I can.  My family followed me from Melbourne to Townsville after a graduated from Hawaii Pacific University.  I wandered over the continent and came to rest in Townsville.  I like the atmosphere, the people and the scenery.  The men in my family, and Liam, didn’t want me to be on my own so…they packed up EB, Pty and moved it to Townsville.  Granddad flat refused to be left behind and he refused to leave any portion of his business in the hands of someone unrelated to us.

We became acquainted with Liam’s family though one of my mother’s society circle things, as Daddy and Edward called them.  The boys welcomed Liam in as a snot-nose little brother and I…basically fell in love with him, forever ago.

Daddy, Everett and Liam arrived first, basically to survey the area.  They found the Family Home then sent for Granddad, Eran and Emerson.  Liam found a home for himself, but returned to Yale shortly after putting down roots.  He comes back from time to time, otherwise he’s in the united States or abroad.

Liam and I spent a lot of time together and little by little his feelings for me began to change.  He was determined to finish his education so…despite his feelings toward me, he went back to school.  He’s kept in touch and, again, visited every chance he could.

Now, he’s back for good.

Yeah, and I’ve got hot Shit Soup to serve him.

“I love you Liam.  I’m not in love with him, I never was and I never will be, I promise you that.  I love him like a…”

“There you are.  we’ve been looking for you.  How are you?”  Christian and Anastasia walk up, arm in arm, with smiles on their faces.  They’re so adorable together.

I lift my head off of Liam’s chest when feel him squeeze me tightly and look up in time to see his beautiful green eyes flash with anger before they turn fire-engine red; changing color based on his mood as opposed to the lanterns and firelight.  I know red is mad, but this is more than mad…

He’s super duper pissed.

I manage to turn and address the happy couple before Liam can, “Hello Christian, Anastasia.  I hope you’re both enjoying your evening.”  I try to sound as cheerful as I hope my face appears, but it’s not easy.  I have to straighten this out with Liam, fast.  His imagination can wreak havoc on the best intentions.

Christian smiles brightly, just like Daddy, then proceeds to introduce us, “We’re enjoying ourselves very much, thank you.  Anastasia Steele, this is Ella Brown.  Ella, this is Anastasia.”  She nods her head and offers her hand to me.  I do the same and we shake, all the while under Liam’s intense glare.

Dude, lighten up, DAMN!

“Hello Anastasia, welcome to Townsville and thank you for attending our fundraiser.”  She’s so pretty.  Her pale pink skin is flawless, her large eyes are bright blue, not tainted by the firelight and contrast well with her long, dark auburn hair.  Granddad is probably right, her eyes are a wonderful color blue.  That probably was the kicker for Christian.  I smile to myself thinking about it.

“Please call me Ana” she says, then she blushes, at me?  Why?

“This is Li…”

As I begin to make my introduction of him Liam burst out with “We’ll talk later my Love.”  He bends down, on the pretense of kissing my cheek whispers “Questa conversazione non è finita” then storms away, leaving me standing there, embarrassed.

“Ahem.”  Christian clears his throat and I reluctantly look first at Anastasia, who has a pitying expression on her face, then at Christian who looks like he’s surprised I associate with Liam.  “Is everything alright?” his smooth, baritone voice is strong and a tad bit protective in its tone; reminiscent of Daddy’s and Granddad’s.

I don’t respond.  I don’t trust my voice at this moment.  Tears I can control, I’ve learned how to hold those at bay and plaster on an impassive appearance well.  I would practice making faces in the mirror for hours at a time when I was a child until one day, I got it right, but the sound of my voice, I’m still working on that one.  Granddad always told me I would need an impassive voice as well…for the boardroom.  Well, I don’t have one so I simply shake my head no.

Finally, I muster up enough courage to say, quietly, “I apologize.  Please don’t let me dampen your evening.”  I feel like a Class-A fool.  I have to get out of here, “If you’ll excuse me.”  I duck my head down and practically run past the happy pair.  I hear Ana and Christian each call my name as I move away from them, but I don’t turn around.  I simply wave good-bye over my shoulder and takeoff…to parts unknown.


That son of a bitch has got it coming to him.  How fucking dare he speak to me like that and in front of other people too.  He has no idea if they understood him or not and even if they didn’t, I don’t give a fuck.  Rudeness is NOT permitted.

I managed to get far enough from the crowd and sit at a picnic area further up the Strand with a calming view of Magnetic Island, where I can think.

Quietly I hear, from behind me, “You cannot give him the satisfaction Ellie.  You do know that do you not Little One?”  I look over my shoulder and straight up to see Granddad standing alone with his hands in his pockets leaning against a nearby palm tree.

“You startled me Granddad.  I know I cannot let him get to me.  It is difficult sometimes.  I care a lot about Liam, I always have, but his jealousy and snap judgment are ridiculous.  Why not wait until a situation plays out or a discussion is had before commenting or criticizing?”  I’m getting angrier and angrier the more I talk this out and Granddad sees it.

“Ellie…Love…ELLIE!”  He bellows.  I quickly raise my head to see a pair of lighting silver eyes glaring down at me.  “You cannot give him the satisfaction…period.  All of his years at university have not afforded him the ability to control his emotions.  He does not know better…yet.  He will learn because you will teach him.  The same as you taught Christian.  Although, I suppose Christian learned more quickly than Liam will.” I nod.  We know how Christian learned control.

I know what he’s getting at and I know I can’t talk to Liam about this.  Granddad was clear when he gave Daddy and me our assignments, “No one can know about this until he does.  Once we have discussed everything, and I do mean everything, with him properly then he will be free to make whatever decision he likes.  Control is mandatory in this endeavor.  No one outside of this office,” he looked pointedly at Daddy then me, “can know of this situation.  Emmett, that includes the three’” that was when Christian was leaving Taiwan and things were being finalized.

“I know Granddad, I know.  I have no intention of jeopardizing our work.  His attitude being the way that it is, will be challenge enough without throwing Liam into the pissing pot.”  Granddad smirks at my choice of words.  I grew up in a house full of men.  My mother passed away when I was young.  My grandmother and aunt, my father’s only sibling, passed away before I was born, so I am not held to the same dialectical criticisms as most women.  Translation, I grew up with men who cuss like sailors and I can do the same, especially in their presence.

“Good girl.  We will take care of Liam in due time.  Have you invited them for a meal, preferably brunch.”  Granddad has it in his craw that we get this out in the open…yesterday.  Daddy and I keep trying to tell him to be patient, but that’s not a character trait Granddad recognizes.

Like someone else we know huh?

“I got side tracked Granddad.  I will invite them before the event is over.”  I try to reassure my grandfather who is neither out of the loop nor behind the times.

“Provided you can catch them before he rushes her home.  They fuck like jack rabbits you know,” again with the smirking?  He and Daddy get on my nerves with that shit.

“Yes, I know.  I guess that is something else you all have in common, unless it is simply a gender flaw.”  Now it’s my turn to raise a brow.

Slowly, my red haze lifts and I go in search of Christian and Anastasia to invite them to tomorrow’s brunch.  The evening is almost over, nothing left but the fireworks display.  I hope they’ve enjoyed themselves.  I know it was important to Christian and Anastasia feel comfortable here.  He wanted her to relax and consider staying here with him, at least for a while.  Secretly, I hope so too.

I find the happy pair locked in an embrace.  I sigh at such a romantic sight.

If Liam would get his shit together we could be like them, couldn’t we?

Eh, I guess.

He seemed genuinely happy to see you and very interested in your relationship with Christian.

I should’ve made him sweat for a while.

You know you’re no good at that.  It’ll just come back to bite you in the end…pun intended.

I shake my head at my inner musings and approach Christian and Anastasia.

The twosome are in a heavy-duty lip lock.  I try to wait it out  and not be too obvious.  Off to my left, near one of the refreshment stands, I see Daddy and Granddad laughing, heads thrown back guffawing at me.  They’re getting on my fucking nerves with that bullshit.  Just wait until I have a man I my life.  I’m going to make them regret this.

I clear my throat to try and get Christian and Ana to break it up.

That or throw some cold water on them.

Don’t give me any ideas.

“Ahem, excuse me.”  I don’t want to tap either of them on the shoulder.  I don’t want them to feel like I am invading their personal space.  I just want to deliver my invitation and get the fuck out of here.

Awkwardly, I try again, louder this time, “Christian…Anastasia?”  She’s the first to come up for air.

“Hi Ella, how are you?  We tried to find you, but you disappeared.”  Anastasia immediately assumes the role of caretaker.  She’s here to spend time with her fiancée and she’s thoughtful enough to show concern for me after Liam’s earlier display.

“Oh, I am fine, no worries.  Thank you for asking.”  I lie.

“Would the two of you be available to have brunch with us tomorrow?  Nothing fancy, just family.”  I can tell by the fire in Christian’s eyes he had other plans for tomorrow, but I seem to have piqued Anastasia’s interest.

“That would be lovely Ella.  What time?”  I almost burst out laughing at Christian.  He’s the picture of Daddy and Granddad.  I think their hair stands on end all by itself when they get aggravated.  Each man has a habit of raking his hands through his hair, but it really isn’t necessary.  The damn stuff has a mind of its own.

“Ana, I was hoping we could sleep in late tomorrow,” Christian whines.  Again, I suppress a laugh.

When Anastasia pouts at Christian, his entire demeanor changes.  Gone is Christian Grey, hotshot CEO and Master of the Universe.  Hello, love struck Christian.  I can’t help the smile that hides at the corners of my mouth.  “Ok, Ana, whatever you want Baby.  What time Ella?”  We make arrangements for late day and I tell them that Taylor and Gail are welcome as well, but I doubt they’ll attend.

I hope not.  None of us can stand that pretentious fucker.

I say my goodbyes and turn to leave, only to run straight into the all too familiar sight of Liam Jared Beckett, his eyes still flaring bight red.  As I begin to walk passed him, he grabs my arm and pulls me toward him, taking me by surprise.  I gasp then realize he’s been drinking…a lot.  Drinking is the last thing anyone should do when they’re mad, it only makes things worse.

“Liam, you’re drunk, let me go.”  I don’t raise my voice because I don’t want to cause a scene.  I know Liam would never do anything to me so I’m not afraid, but this brand of bullshit is more than annoying.  What the fuck is his problem anyway?

“We have…a conver…sation…to finish,” he slurs.  I laugh a little inside.

Not that this bastard would remember.

“You can barely finish a sentence, let ‘lone a conversation.  We can finish this when you sober up.”  I hiss and pull out of his grasp.

Liam’s eyes are wide and definitely hurt when he whispers, “It’s true, you do love him.  Why Ellie, I’ve told you how I feel.  We’ve shared so much baby.  Why him?”  The pain in his voice lances my heart, but Granddad will kill me if I give this away.

I look directly into Liam’s eyes and kiss him sweetly on his soft, full lips then tell him, “Liam, you’re the only man I love, the only man I’ve ever loved and the only man I will love.  Fidati di me.”  It is true.  I have always loved him.  There will never be another for me.

Somehow, my statement has touched his heart because he surrenders control to me by saying, “Sì il mio amore, ti darò.  My life, my heart…my soul are in your hands.”

GREY

It was a lovely evening.  We walked along the beach and talked about the music, the food, and the games.  We simply enjoyed each other like we never have before.  It felt so carefree.  It was heavenly.  I didn’t stress about coming home.  Was able to devote myself to Ana because I didn’t have to run off to my office and be debriefed about anything.  We came home, took a bath and fell into bed; into each other’s arms.

As we lay in our king sized bed, Ana takes a deep breath and sighs, “I owe you so many apologies, I don’t know where to begin.”  I turn onto my side and pull her closer to me, giving her my full attention and kiss her forehead.  She seems resigned to her fate as she continues.  “Christian, I’ve treated you unfairly.  I’ve unreasonably blamed you for things…for stifling my freedom when you haven’t.  I know you want to protect me and I know being your girlfriend puts me in the spotlight.  I, even better now, there are people who would love to get at you.  If someone could use me to achieve that goal, they would.  Unfortunately, no matter how immune I think I am, that’s not true.  I’ve even treated you like a villain for wanting to help me achieve my career goals.”  She shakes her head and I wipe the single tear that’s escaped onto her cheek.

“I’ve worried about what Kate, Jose, my co-workers and anyone else would think of me for being your girlfriend and working for you.  I worried I wouldn’t be considered an equal.  I worried my success would be due to your name, not my knowledge.”  She frowns and seems pensive as she speaks.  Why is she recounting all of this?  I thought her time away from me was so she could sort these thoughts out and come to her own conclusions, not hold onto them to rehash at a later date.  I don’t want to hear all of this anymore.

She’s a thinker Grey.  She takes her time and ponders a situation before taking action.  You, on the other hand, act out…period.  In business, thinking fast and acting quickly are virtues.  You’re not in the world of M&A right now.  Let her talk this out.  Just listen.

“…listening to Kate.  I don’t know when I gave her so much power in my life, but it happened.  I listened to what she had to say and took a lot of it to heart.  The times when I knew she was weak, I took the lead but more often than not I listened to her opinion and made it my own, that was my mistake.”  I knew Kavanagh was behind this shit.  Months of our lives wasted because of that bitch.  I don’t give a fuck what Elliott sees in her, I can’t fucking stand her…

Shut the fuck up Grey!  Listen!

“…overlooked the fact that she got her internship with her father’s company and she holds her head high when people say, ‘that’s Kavanaghs’ daughter.’”  Do you fucking mean to tell me Anastasia let that rich bitch cloud her opinion of herself?  That bitch caused Ana to doubt her own abilities?  She best be glad she is still fucking Elliott or she’d be the last one in the unemployment line…

GRRR!  If I have to tell you one…more…time…to shut the fuck up, this magnificent, multitasking brain of yours is going to shutdown and leave your carcass to the wolves.  For the last time…FOCUS!

ALRIGHT!!!

“…my opinion of me matters.  I want to be proud of my own accomplishments.  I know how hard I worked to graduate from college with my GPA in tact.  It’s unrealistic of me to want the world to even give a fuck about me, let ‘lone care about how I got from point A to point B.  The long and the short of it is I was wrong to let anyone other than me color my decisions.”

She sighs then looks me straight in my eyes and says, “I love you and you love me that was never in question.  I shouldn’t have let anyone or anything influence my self-image or our relationship.  We’re partners.  I need you to help me sort things out when I get stuck in life, that’s what partners do for each other isn’t it? “

I smile and nod, “Yes it is Baby.  And we’re going to be the best partners ever.  I love you so much Anastasia.”  I hold her tightly in my arms and kiss her deeply, with all of the love and adoration inside me.

I’ll only ever love you Ana.


We spent our morning much like we spent our evening.  We have made love in the bedroom, bathroom, our walk-in closet, the kitchen, before Mrs. Jones got up of course, and on the couch in the TV room, before Taylor started walking around the place, which I’ve told him isn’t necessary.  It felt like two teenagers hiding from Mom and Dad.  It was kind of cool.

As we get ready to go to the Brown’s for Brunch, my lovely Ana says from the bathroom doorway “Christian, do you have security in this place?”  She has a concerned look on her face.  Is she afraid of something?

I immediately become tense.  “No.  Why, are you afraid of something?  Has someone been bothering you?  Do you want me to ask Taylor to stay or send for Sawyer?  What is wrong Ana?”

She shakes her head at me and smiles, “Calm down Christian, nothing’s wrong and no one has bothered me.  I’m just surprised you don’t have security here.  I mean, this place is much bigger than Escala and you are all alone.  There are no cameras, no one walking the halls…nothing.  It feels so…” she shrugs her shoulders, “…you know…”

I smile, “Normal,” I finish the sentence.  “Yes, I know.  I came to Australia on a whim and needed a place to stay.”  It sounds impossible, but it’s true.  I couldn’t face being in Seattle without Anastasia and I promised to give her the time and space she wanted.  So for all intents and purposes, I was homeless.

“I couldn’t bear go come back to Seattle.  The work I did in Taiwan took like fifteen minutes and the touring took another twenty.  I just hung around there, keeping up with GEH affairs, hoping you would tell me you wanted me to come back home.  When you didn’t call me, I moved on.”

“Ros and I joked once that GEH should have offices worldwide.  I’ve dreamed of making GEH an International presence, but never took it seriously.  When I thought I would never see you again, I figured why not make my business dream come true.  I’ve worked, non-stop, to make this happen; just like in the beginning of GEH.

I told you, work is my therapy.  I haven’t bothered with Flynn since I left the US.  I got in touch with Claude and he helped me find a gym in Taiwan and then here.  I run, workout at the gym here at home or with my kickboxing trainer, have breakfast then head off to Grey House. “

“I know you want to talk and I know you want to talk about the pictures you’ve seen in the press, right?”  She nods her head and looks down at the floor.  “Do you remember what I told you about the press?”

She speaks solemnly, “Yes, you pointed out that you would be in the spotlight even more than before we met.  You said our relationship would be questioned and basically you’d be the number one bachelor again.  I remember saying you were threatening me.  I need to apologize for that statement too.  I don’t know why I even said it.  It seems every time you try to prepare me for something, I take it the wrong way.  I need to work on that.”  She looks up and stares at me, there’s more, I know there is.  I’m not stupid.  She wants to know if I took a submissive.

“Ana, please sit down.  Let’s clear the air, get all of this shit out of our lives so we can move forward…together.  Can we do that please?”  I want this just as much as she does and we’re in the best place to have this conversation.  There’s nothing and no one to interrupt us.  We have all the time in the world, another reason why I love it here.

She twists her fingers in front of her then whispers, “Yes”.  I walk with her over to the balcony off our bedroom, which faces Rowes Bay.  It’s a tranquil view of the water.  I often get lost in the warmth of the Sun, the breeze from the bay and the hypnotic sound of the waves.  I love the water.  It’s so open, so free.  I take a deep cleansing breath and actually forget I’m not alone.

Her voice is almost as faint as the wind when she says, “This is totally different from Escala.  This isn’t your ivory tower.  You seem so happy, at ease here, trouble-free even.  It’s a welcome change to see you this way.  You look wonderful Christian.  Time away from Seattle has done wonders for you.”

I smile and nod my head.  “You’re right.  Life is normal.  No one knows me, or so I thought.  I can be just another face in the crowd.  I can walk down the street, sightsee, shop, whatever and no one looks at me.  I say, ‘I’m Christian Grey’ and people shake their heads, silently asking if my name is supposed to mean something to them.”  I chuckle a little remembering how offended I was at first.  In business, your name is your brand and my name has always been highly marketable.  In the world of M&A, no matter what continent I’m on, the name Christian Grey means money, power and prestige, but in the city of Townsville, it means the guy who lives over there.

It’s fan-fucking-tastic!

“My ego took a bit of a blow, until Ella told me people knew who I was and basically didn’t give a fuck, I was nothing special to them.”  I shake my head remembering the conversation.  It was before I knew who she was, who her family was.  It reminded me that money doesn’t matter.

“Who is Ella?”  I look at Ana and see something in her eyes I’ve never seen before.  Not anger or jealousy, not even a look of hurt or betrayal.  I see fear.  She fears Ella.  Why?

“Ella is a girl I saw when I finally got out of this house and ventured around Townsville.  I’m sure there are pictures of she and I floating around the gossip sites.  She reminded me so much of you, I almost called her by your name.”  Ana says nothing, but I can see the gears spinning.  I know how I would feel if it was the other way around.  I’m not a hypocrite.  I can’t expect her to simply take it all in without having any emotion.  I’ll answer any and all questions honestly and wait for her to decide her next move.

“Yes, I’ve seen a lot of pictures of you with her.  Seattle Nooze has you engaged and about to be married.  I was hurt when I first saw her picture, there were so many of you smiling, laughing, even holding hands.  I cried for days and Kate tried to set me up with a dozen blind dates.”  Tears begin to form in her eyes even now.

That’s what friends are for?

Humpf.

“Then I saw a picture claiming to be her hand with an engagement ring on it.  Kate was fanatical about that picture.  When I realized it was my hand and my engagement ring, I had to pose in the same position for her to look at my ring, but she still didn’t believe me.  I remembered you took the picture after your birthday, for insurance purposes.  I found it and showed it to her, which finally shut her up.  At that point, I decided to take everything I saw with a grain of salt.”

“People made snide comments behind my back and I think a heard a couple women in my office clapping hands at the prospect of you being on the market again.”  As if anyone would have a chance with me.  “I remember wondering if they’d devote more time to their own lives maybe they wouldn’t be so miserable and happy to see someone else’s life in turmoil.”  She looks out over the bay as I move behind her wrapping my arms around her waist and pulling her into my chest.  This mess was just as hard on her as it was on me.

“Other reactions were absolutely Anti-Christian Grey.  There were comments about how could you possibly cheat on me since I was so sweet and innocent.  Others made you out to be a selfish bastard who didn’t deserve the likes of me.  There were even people who wanted to picket in front of GEH with signs saying people should stay away from your businesses and they never were and never will be in favor of you.  Watching all of that, reading all of the hateful comments against you made me see that you weren’t over exaggerating about how people see you.  The press and the public were obsessing with lives that weren’t their own.”

Guess she learned something about your world.

“Meetings at SIP were ridiculous.  Initially, my co-workers would stop talking and look anywhere except at me when I entered the room.  After seeing so many pictures of you on your own in Seattle and then in various parts of the world, they would pointedly ask me, ‘How are you today, Ana?’, ‘Did you rest well last night?’ or ‘Have you seen the latest article about Mr. Grey, Ana?’  I wanted to ask them just what the fuck their problem was.  They worked hard at getting under my skin.”  I blame that fucker Roach.  He’s the one who’s supposed to be in charge of that office.  Can’t he keep those dogs on a leash?

Just another subsidiary of GEH remember?  She can file a complaint like anyone else would…

Whatever fucker and you know it…and you agree with me.

“The end all-be-all was when Kate told me your leaving Seattle was the best thing you could ever do for me.  She was glad you finally realized you shouldn’t try to control me.  She was glad to see you tuck your tail between your legs and run because I stood up for myself and put you out of my life.  She couldn’t say enough about how horrible it was for you to be in the same breathing space as another woman and when she saw a picture of you holding hands with Ella, I thought she was going to burn a figure of you in effigy.  She was insane, all in the name of protecting me and being my one true friend.”

BITCH!

You took the words right out of my mouth Grey.

“Then there was the Grey Family Dinner night when you called home and she inserted herself in the conversation.  She and Elliott still aren’t doing well because of her comments about you.  Elliott asked her if she was jealous that you and I were together.  He asked her ‘Why the fuck didn’t you do the fucking interview your fucking self?’  He told her ‘It would’ve saved us all your unwanted behavior,’ then he told her to stop obsessing about someone else’s life or he would never speak to her again.  Needless to say, it has been a battle of wills ever since.”  Ana shakes her head and the unshed tears begin to fall.

NO COMMENT GREY AND THAT’S FINAL!

DONE.

“Ana, I told you, I promised you, I’d be faithful to you and to us.  I told you I wouldn’t be with anyone else and I haven’t gone against that.  If you want to hate me, if you want to leave me, I understand perfectly.  I know if things were the other way around, your eardrums would be pounding from all of my yelling.”

She turns around and puts her arms around my neck before looking me straight in my eyes and asking, “Christian, do you love her?”

I tighten my arms around her tiny waist and look directly into her eyes as I say, “No Ana.  I don’t love Ella or any other woman for that matter.  I only love you.  When Ella looked into my eyes, she saw my pain.  I was amazed at how intuitive she was.  She told me something that’s held me together and helped me deal with this situation so far.”

Ana looks at me expectantly, “What did she tell you?”

“She said,  ‘If you are hers, she will find you.  If she is yours, you will let her.’ that statement gave me hope that you would change your mind and come back to me.  It also helped me keep a clear head and, as odd as it seems to me, an open heart.  I can’t act as though my feelings weren’t hurt by all of this, but I refuse to just walk away.  I’m nothing without you Ana.  I’m not willing to give up, because I am yours.”

She nods her head at me, taking it all in, “The old adage is right, be careful what you ask for, you just might get it. I’ve continually told you I need to be alone to think, told you not to interfere in my affairs and told you security wasn’t necessary because I felt like I was being watched and controlled.  Then, when you give me everything I asked for, I, and it seems the rest of the world, turned on you and labeled you as contemptible and unfeeling.  You really can’t catch a break, can you Grey?”  I shake my head and hope she doesn’t hate me.

It’s all part of the package Baby.

“Christian, I know, better than you do, that you have a heart and you have feelings.  I know I hurt you with my words and my actions.  I was horribly wrong to do so.  In order for you and I to be together, I have to learn to talk to you just as much as I demand you talk to me.  Running to hide isn’t the way.”  I say nothing.  I’m still not sure where this is going so I just hear her out.

“I love you Christian and I apologize for pushing you away.  I also apologize for letting Kate cloud my thinking.  I can’t apologize for her treatment of you, she has to do that, but I apologize for not putting a stop to her chastising you.”  She hugs me tighter and lays her cheek on my chest.  I let out the breath I was holding, waiting for her tirade.

She knows this all could’ve been avoided.  This time she was wrong and she recognizes that.

Let it go.  Il est fini.

I bend over and kiss her cheek then whisper in her ear, “I love you Anastasia.”


LIAM

Ellie, dolce, dolce Ellie. Mi sei mancato così tanto. | Ellie, sweet, sweet Ellie. I missed you so much.
Questa conversazione non è finita. | This conversation is not over.
Sì il mio amore, ti darò. | Yes my love, I’ll (trust) give you.

ELLA

Fidati di me. | Trust me.

EMMETT

Liam, non cercare di parlare dolce mia figlia. | Liam, do not try to sweet talk my daughter.
…italiano, spagnolo o francese… | …Italian, Spanish or French…

GREY

C’est fini. | It’s finished.


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Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 13 Now, We Can Proceed

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 13 | Now, We Can Proceed

ELLA

“Good evening Granddad, how are you?”  I walk over to my grandfather who is sitting behind his huge mahogany desk.  He’s owned that thing for as long as I can remember.  It reminds me of the movie The Godfather.  Seeing how he speaks several different languages fluently I expect him to get pissed at my brothers one day and burst out in his best Sicilian to tell them how fucking stupid they are.

“I am well Ellie.  Is your father with you?”  Granddad asks, looking at his watch.

My eyes widen and I shake my head for emphasis, “No, I thought he would be here already.  He was so eager for this meeting I thought he would beat me here.”

“One would…” The door opens, interrupting my grandfather.

“…think, yes I know Dad.  Good evening Ellie.”  My father saunters into my grandfather’s study and kisses me on the cheek; he’s late.  Granddad doesn’t do late, ever, and he doesn’t forget when someone is late.

Granddad clears his throat, “Well, now that we are all here.”  He takes a moment to glare at my father.  “I have some questions.”

Turning to me, Granddad asks, “Ella, is she here?”

“Yes Granddad, she arrived early this morning.  He was there to meet her, even ran up the steps to the cabin door.  I burst out laughing.  They look wonderful together too.  She really does look like me.  You cannot tell from the photos, you have to see her in person.  It seemed uncanny.”

“Yes, I believe those blue eyes did it to him.  Lord knows that is what attracted me to your grandmother.”  He smiles, as he always does when he remembers my grandmother.  She died before I was born, but I’ve seen numerous photos of her.  I wish I could have met her, his one true love.

Sigh.

“They went back to the house and have not left, yet.  I believe he will be at the committee meeting tonight.  It is the last one before the event.  I do not know if she will accompany him or not.”  For both their sake I really hope he skips the damn meeting.  My brothers behaved so badly at the last meeting, I’ll have to take them down in public if they harass him or her at that meeting.

“Well, do not expect her to arrive and if she does, make sure those imbeciles you so affectionately refer to as brothers… leave…her…the fuck…alone.  They were not supposed to bother him and look what happened.” I nod in agreement.  He’s right.  The Bowery Boys have made things more difficult than they already were; if that’s even possible. [1]

“Yes, if need be, I will handle them.”  I look directly at my father.  All he does is nod his consent.  He knows some of the story.

“Like I said, she is here and they look happy.  This is a wonderful place for them to reconcile and move forward.  We can only hope for the best.  I have not told him…”  Before I can finish my sentence, my father chimes in.

“Are you certain it is him?  Looks do not mean everything.”  Here we go.  I hold up my hand to stop my father.  My dad isn’t really worried about the validity of our information; he knows we’re careful.  Daddy is wary of the reaction the situation will garner.  My father hates rejection and can behave poorly when confronted with it.  Seems to be a family trait.

“I know that better than you do Daddy.  First, yes I am certain, second, I will tell him whether you like it or not and third, the fellas need to know as well…after I tell him of course.”  Those selfish little bastard brothers of mine need to be removed as well, but that is not my call.  Pity actually.

I turn toward my grandfather, “Granddad, I truly believe she should be with him when we speak.  She has a soothing affect on him.  It really is amazing.”  I sigh.  Looking at the two of them is like watching Cinderella and Prince Charming.  I can only wish for that kind of love to find me one day.

“I agree, they should be told together and they should be told here.  I want to be able to show him proof.  He does not appear to be the trusting sort so I am certain he will want cold, hard facts to back up your claim Ella.”  I wish this could just be accepted at face value.  It’s not like we want anything from him.  If nothing else, he will increase his fortune exponentially.  But I know Granddad is right.  We have to be able to prove ourselves.

“I have all of that.  My daughter was not in the best way at the end of her life, but she was still my daughter.  She knew the importance of documentation and she knew her son would one day need to know.  I have all of the proof we need.”  My grandfather somehow managed to get evidence I never knew it was possible to have.  He really outdid himself on this one.  He would not destroy the proof because he recognized others would want to see it and verify its authenticity.

“Ahem,” ever the diplomat, “Dad, have you considered how his family will respond to this news?  This can be misinterpreted as our trying to drive a wedge between them.  We don’t want him to close the lines of communication based on reaction from…” we all know he’s speaking from experience, but at this moment experience doesn’t seem to have taught my grandfather a fucking thing.

With a distinct and blatant disregard for my father’s intention my grandfather states, “I do not give a fuck if he speaks to us again or not.  He must know his position and know his entitlement.  Afterward, if he wants to denounce the Brown family then that is his right.  However, he will have been told and my documentation will be available.  Ella, you will be responsible for following through with my wishes when the time comes.”  I furrow my brow at that subject.  I always do.  He knows how I feel.

Granddad softens his feathers before telling me, “Little one, I know you had your heart set on the sea, but you will step up at EB and you will make him do the same or I will haunt you all for the remainder of your lives.”  He gives me a devilish grin and a wink.  Granddad is always promising to haunt someone when he wants his way.  The only problem is, we know for a fact it’s true, that’s why it’s so effective.  I swallow hard and nod my head.

“Emmett, what about The Interference?  What is its status?”  My grandfather cannot wait to be rid of that, quite frankly neither can I.

My father’s grey eyes flash with anger, as he growls, “No change in position Dad and no change in status either.  In fact the entire State of Washington should pay homage once this is done.”

I gasp, “What?  You mean still?  That has to stop.”  I look frantically between my father and my grandfather.  “Granddad, is there anything we can do right away…anything at all?”

Granddad shakes his head regretfully.  “No Love, we cannot, but in time.  The Interference will go…period.”


“Good evening ladies and gentlemen.  I call this meeting to order.  We only have a few loose ends to tie up; therefore, in lieu of time we will only need reports from those committee members.”

“First we will hear from Logistics, then Audio/Visual and finally Security.”  Eran looks around for Christian.  I was glad he and Anastasia skipped the meeting.  I can’t blame him for not brining her here, or coming himself.  He just reconciled with the love of his life and he’s afraid I’ll frighten her away.  I’m certain of that and I understand his position entirely.  This is when I wish he knew the truth about us.

Then there are the barracudas in the room.  Seems like the whole Brown clan is here.  Eran and Emerson invited Everett to this meeting.  I guess they thought I was kidding when I told them what I’d do should they continue to harass Christian.

I can guaran-fucking-tee you gentlemen I was not bullshitting.  Big brother can’t always save you.

I see Mr. Taylor has been assigned to discuss security for the event.  This should be interesting.  “It seems Mr. Grey has decided not to attend this evening.  Does anyone have his report?”  Eran looks at me as if to say ‘well, where the fuck is he’.  I shake my head and look at Mr. Taylor.

Eran follows my line of sight then asks, “Sir, are you here in Mr. Grey’s place?”  Taylor simply nods his head once.  “Will you please introduce yourself and give us an update on the progress of the Security Committee?”

Taylor clears his throat, “My name is Jason Taylor.  I am the Head Security Officer for Grey Enterprise Holdings.  The Security Committee enlisted five hundred personnel total.  We were instructed that one hundred individuals were necessary; however, after confirming the number of RSVPs then surveying the venue and its surrounding area, we opted to increase the number and have backup details available.”  Eran looks a little disappointed in Taylor’s progress.  I know he was hoping Christian would fail to find qualified security.  I heard Er and Em plotting how to approach Granddad about vetting and hiring security personnel.  I rolled my eyes at them.  I could have told them how to do that, but no…don’t ask the little girl surrounded by men her entire life.  Whatever.

“This document” Taylor holds up a packet of papers, “lists the names of vetted men and women awaiting instruction from you, Mr. Brown, and/or the Logistics Committee Chairman.”  Taylor raises ad eyebrow at Eran then the fucker looks at me.  Oh I can see Taylor’s in line for a good old fashion cussing out before long and I’ll be only too happy to oblige him.

Begrudgingly Eran says, “Thank you Mr. Taylor.  We appreciate your contribution to our endeavor.  Now, Logistics.”  And off we go to the rest of this pointless fucking meeting.  I think I’ll go home and change then have an evening by Rowes Bay.  This’ll prove to be a ‘fun filled’ weekend.  I can feel it now.

“…very good.  We will schedule a wrap-up meeting in approximately two weeks then we will be finished.  Meeting adjourned.  See you all at the event.”  Good, now to get the fuck out of here.  I almost run out of the meeting room when I hear.  “Not so quick Miss Brown.”  Bastard.

I turn around slowly with a smile on my face.  There big brother stands, summoning me over to him.  Taylor stopped by the door as if he were invited to the melee.  Everett and Emerson immediately flank him.  They each stand a head taller than Taylor and are much bigger.  Sometimes the fellas actually come in handy.  I really do want to laugh at Taylor.

Love, you have no idea just how outnumbered you are.  We have been known to stop fighting each other, gang up on an intruder in our argument then go back to kicking each other’s assess.  We may fight with each other…a lot, but we’ll fight for each other…always.

Taylor, wisely, leaves the room.  The boys close the door after him then Er descends on me.  “What the fuck gives Ellie?  Where was the bastard?  And who the fuck is the buzz-cut he sent over here?  I want some…” THAT’S IT!

“FREEZE Eran Rockhold-Brown!  First of all, Grey is a grown man and it’s not my job to keep him.  Forward your attendance questions to him directly or to his minion who you two,” I turn and point at Everett and Emerson, “so weakly tried to intimidate.  You wanted a security update and it sounds like you got what you wanted so why the fuck are you pestering me?”  I stand with my arms crossed daring him to start some shit.

“Something is going on with you two and we,” he gestures between the Three Amigos, “want to know what it is.  We have a right…” Oh Good Lord, not this shit again.

“PAUSE!  You have no right to anything in my life.  Any piece of information I deign to share with any of you should be considered a treasure.  Ergo, piss off, the lot of you!”  I turn sharply and proceed to march to the door of the conference room.  And of course Thing 1 and Thing 2 think they can prevent me from leaving.

If they touch a piece of lint on my shirt I will stomp the shit out of them and they know it.  In the quiet whispering groan that we all use when we get pissed I announce, “One move.  That’s all it’ll take for me to go absolutely, fucking ape-shit on YOUR ASS!”  I turn back to Eran and point.

“I have no idea why you all are intimidated by that man, but you had best put on your big boy boxers and get over it.  He’s a community member.  He’s established a lucrative business here and it seems he’s enjoying his stay, despite the three of you.  In the event he wishes to leave Townsville, I’m certain he knows his way to the airport.  Until he decides to no longer grace us with his presence, GO THE FUCK AWAY AND LEAVE HIM THE HELL ALONE!”  I shout so loud my voice can be heard echoing out in the hallway.  With that, my brothers move out of my way and I proceed to exit the building.


“Stay away from him!”  What the fuck?  I know I have the most confused look on my face as I stand facing my car.  One I’m surprised anyone is still out here and two, who the fuck does this man think he is?  I recognize the voice as that of Mr. Jason Taylor.

What the fuck is this, a testosterone convention?

I don’t bother to turn around to face him.  “Good evening Mr. Taylor.  Is there something in particular you would like to discuss with me?”  I spread the nicety on as thick as possible.  This bastard is threatened because my security checks proved better than his.  That’s easy to see.  If he worked for Granddad he would be six feet under for the shit he missed and could only speculate at.  It’s inexcusable.

“I said stay away from Mr. Grey.  He has a wonderful woman in his life and he does not need some gold-digging whore traipsing around after him.”  My eyes have popped out of my head.  This bastard has the moxie to think I am after Christian’s money.  Yeah, this fucker would not make it at EB, Pty that’s for damn sure.  His deductive reasoning is non-existent.

I’m not going to entertain this conversation.  My back is still turned toward him and I am praying he lays a hand on me.  He’s sorely underestimated me, like men always do.  I just want to see the shadow of his hand near my face and he’ll need a medic.

“STEP AWAY FROM THE YOUNG LADY YOU FUCKER!”  I look up to see the Bowery Boys standing to my right, a few feet from my car followed by another distinct voice.

“Mr. Jason Taylor I presume.”  I don’t bother to turn around.  I know from the smiles on my brothers’ faces and the smooth sound of the voice, it’s Daddy.  My father always starts out professionally, a genial greeting, even a handshake, but if you’re not responsive to his business persona, all etiquette goes out the fucking window.

“Mr. Taylor, I know you are not hard of hearing so you are well aware of my sons’ statement and my direct address.  I strongly recommend, sir, that you accept my salutation and shake my hand.  Should you decide against that, I do not want or need my sons assistance to rectify this matter.”  My brothers and I are chuckling quietly.  Our father is only this dramatic when he is pissed beyond recognition.

Granddad tried to teach us not to swing first, which was difficult when that’s still his first reaction.  He did manage to school us in the “proper way” to handle a situation, especially one that goes out of control.  Rule one, know your opponent, rule two, know your surroundings and rule three, walk, don’t run, away.  We say it all of the time, it’s almost like a family motto…we really are a sneaky bunch.

To his credit, I sense Taylor turning around and, I presume, shaking my father’s hand.  Poor sot, he has no idea what was going to hit him.  I hear the handcuff snap onto Taylor’s wrist.  I know the next moves.  I have used them myself.  Daddy has spun Taylor around, to face away from my father then clamped the other wrist with a cuff.  This is followed by a swift kick of his feet so he looses balance and ends up face down on the pavement with my father’s foot in his back.  I would have loved to see the look on Mr. Head of Security at GEH’s face as it all occurred.

I never turned around.  Then, I heard footsteps and saw my brothers’ eyes grow wide.  No need to fret, it’s just Granddad.  I wonder what he wants.  I told him I would handle Christian should he decide to attend this meeting.  These men are getting on my nerves.

I wonder, do they make pills to counteract testosterone surges?  These guys could do with a monthly dose.  Pissing contests be damned.

“Good evening Love.  How was the meeting?”  Really Granddad?  He’s so sweet sounding I want to bark laughing, but instead I turn around and smile brightly.

“Good evening Daddy, Granddad, what on Earth brings you out this evening?  Surely not this.”  I point at the now prone figure on the pavement beneath me.

“No Love”, Granddad smiles.  “You know why we are here.  Judging by the present company,” he looks down at Taylor and raises a brow, “I take it all was for naught.”  I nod.  “Pity.” He shakes his head as he gazes down at the silent victim on the ground.

By now, all of the Browns have converged on Mr. Jason Taylor who has been extremely quiet throughout this exchange.  Wise choice Taylor.  It would’ve been nice to see him run that arrogant yap of his though.  I would’ve loved to see the show.  Daddy makes doling out a good old-fashioned ass kicking look effortless.

“Mr. Taylor” my granddad has stepped forward, “I do not know what type of security you are used to, but things are very different here.  Do not approach my relatives in a hostile manner ever again.  We have no issue with you or your employer and we do not appreciate your antagonism.  Do I make myself clear Mr. Taylor?”  This really is funny.  I won’t need to distress by the bay after this show.

Taylor simply nods, he doesn’t try to look up, but that’s enough for Granddad.  The toddler section always wants eye contact and verbal confirmation they were heard, but Granddad and Daddy drilled into my head when there is no need for noise, don’t make any.  Taylor gets it.

Daddy and Granddad each kiss my forehead goodbye then, I get in my car and drive away.


Since her arrival, Christian and Anastasia have been all over Townsville.  They even took time out to go to Magnetic Island, the National Park there is wonderful.  I’m hopeful she’ll stay here for a good while.  She really is good for him.

Naturally, I’ve maintained my distance from them both and radio silence from Christian.  I saw Christian at the coffee shop the other day and made sure to keep walking past.  I shake my head and tell myself, “Sorry Love, my job is almost finished” I can only hope I still have a friend when this is all over.

Once I let him know the sordid tale then I’m sure he and Anastasia will be on their way back to Seattle.  I’ll miss him.  I wish I had met Anastasia.  She seems like a beautiful woman and I’m very glad she came here of her own accord.  He really needed her.  It’s wonderful to see him smile.  I mean truly smile, from his heart.  He looks so young and carefree.

Striking resemblance.

Family trait.

I didn’t want to do any of this in public.  I’ll invite them to the family home for brunch after the beach party and we can take it from there.  The three blind mice should still be out whoring around town so the timing can’t be better.  Granddad will sit his grandsons down when we’ve finished our conversation with Christian and deal with those fireworks later.  This is going to be an interesting weekend.

GREY

I wake up to the most wonderful feeling in the world.  Ana and I are spooning in bed.  My hands are on her firm breasts kneading them gently and occasionally pinching her nipples.  With each pinch, she wiggles her beautiful ass against my cock making me smile in anticipation.

I move to lick the shell of her ear before whispering, “Mmm, Miss Steele, good morning.  Did you sleep well?”  She doesn’t nod and she does not open her eyes, but I can see her smile.  I pull her closer to me, put my hand on her stomach, to hold her in place then grind my dick on her bare ass.  While she moans her appreciation, I trail kisses from her ear down her neck to her shoulder then back again, ending at that delightful spot behind her ear.

I can’t keep my hands off of her body.  One hand is still squeezing her breast and pinching her nipple while the other moves down from her stomach to her waist, over her hip to the back of her thigh.  I push her top leg forward and slide my cock into the crevice between her ass and her lovely folds.  Back and forth, back and forth, of course my baby is wet and ready for me and I love the feel of her juices spreading over my throbbing cock.  She feels too good not to fuck.  With no preamble, I slide quickly and quietly into her holding myself still for a moment; she grinds against me again making me gasp.  “Ah…Baby…that feels…ah…I can’t take…ah, yeah Baby just like that.  Don’t stop.”

She still doesn’t open her eyes, but makes a primal sound deep in her throat while following my command.  Holding myself up on my arms is almost impossible.  My head falls forward and I begin kissing her bicep, her shoulder then around to her pert nipple that’s standing all alone waiting for my lips, my tongue, my teeth.  I won’t thrust into her…yet.  I want to enjoy her grinding on me while I stay firmly in place.  I lave her nipple with my tongue then suck…hard.  “Oh Christian, I’ve missed you” that’s my cue.  I sit up and pull her onto my lap, her back to my front.

My hands resume their original task of fondling her beautiful breasts and pinching her taunt nipples, while I kiss her neck.  I begin to thrust into harder and harder, wrapping my arms around her waist and hold her tightly to me.  She gasps loudly and throws her head back against my shoulder.  Her long dark hair cascades down my back and sends a rush through me.  I bite down on the skin of Ana’s ivory neck and thrust into her again and again and again.  She pants, “Ahh, Christian!”

I slow myself down and slowly slide my cock back out of her while I whisper in her ear, “You like, my Sweet?  There’s more. There’s always more for you.”  When she nods, I slam back into her holding her in place on my lap.  I whisper again, “More baby?  Do you want more of me?”  Unable to speak, she nods quickly and grinds that fabulous ass against my pelvis.  It feels like we could go on forever.

Then, I feel it.  Her pussy begins to pulse and tighten more around me, squeezing me, holding me inside of her, begging me to go on.  “NO Anastasia, not yet!”  I want more of her.

I slowly pull out, turn her over and lay her down on her back on the bed.  As I lay on top of her, she wraps her arms around my neck and her legs around my waist.  We kiss deeply, as if our lives depend on one another.  Her tongue tastes sweet and her lips are plump and soft and delicious.  “I love you Anastasia.  I only ever loved you.”

“And I you Christian.  I have missed you so much.  You mean the world to me.  I’ll never let anything come between us again.”  I groan at her words and slowly slide into her heavenly core again.  She’s so soft and warm and drenching wet, all for me.   She’s mine.  She’ll always be mine.  That thought causes my dick to grow harder and my balls begin to tighten.

Her legs loosen their hold on my waist and I slide my elbows underneath her knees and shrug her legs up onto my shoulders.  I rise up on my arms and sink deeper into her.  “Oh God Ana.  Yes Baby, fuck me…that’s right, grind on me just like that Baby.  Oh fffuuuccckkk…yeeesss!”

As I pump into her I can feel her getting wetter and wetter.  Soon, I can feel her sweat mix with mine and feel her juices run down my stomach.  “Do not stop Christian.  Faster Christian… faster…harder Christian…yyyeeesss.  That’s right.  Just like that.  That’s the spot.  Keep it right there.  Oh SHIT!”

I love when she tells me exactly what she wants.  Her wish is my command.  I thrust harder and she meets me stoke for stroke.  I feel her hands on my ass, pushing me balls deep into her.  “Deeper Baby, deeper…feel all of me Baby…more Ana, gimme more.”  I say in her ear.

Her legs locked around my neck, her nails digging into my ass and I am ramming into her with everything I have.  Then, I feel it again.  Her walls start to tremble around my cock.  When my dick twitches in response it becomes a challenge.  How much longer can she last?  How much longer can I last?

“Open your eyes Anastasia, I have to see you Baby.  Look at me Ana.  She opens her beautiful blues that are now almost black, dilated from pure lust.  We stare into each other’s eyes almost unseeing, like two wild animals in heat.  Finally, we say those magic words in unison, “Come for me Baby!”  The feeling is intense, very intense.  Her back rises off of the bed, pushing her breasts into my chest.  Her mouth falls open soundlessly.  I grit my teeth and clinch my jaw.  My cock explodes pouring hot streams of my seed deep into her.  I see stars and flashes of light then…darkness.

I open my eyes to her showering me with kisses and holding me tightly against her.  “I can never tell you how much I love you Christian.”  She whispers to me.  “I can never tell you how sorry I am for pushing you away.”

I raise my head and look straight into her baby blues.  “Ana, Baby, you’re here, I’m here and that’s all that matters.  We still have some things to talk about, but as long as we have each other, everything will be fine.  No need to apologize anymore Baby.  I’m not going anywhere without you.”  I smile as brightly as I can, hoping to dispel her insecurities.

I only ever need my Ana.


“Baby, what would you like to do today?  Remember, we have the beach party this evening so we can just hang out around here unless you have your heart set on going somewhere.”  I love how effortless things are here.  No calling ahead to check a venue, no closing down stores so she can shop, which she rarely does anyway.  Simply put, nothing over the top.

“Don’t you have to get with Taylor and arrange for us to go out?”  She looks surprised when I shake my head no.

“Nope,” I pop my ‘p’, “just get up and go.  I told you, no one knows us here and even if they do, they don’t give a fuck.  It’s been like this since I set foot in Townsville.  I almost feel invisible here.  Like nothing and no one could touch me even if they wanted.  No women batting their eyelashes or drooling as I pick my nose, no one stuttering when they try to answer my question and no one staring as if I had two heads and a tail on backward.”  It was strange to me at first, almost unnerving, but once I began to relax I forgot security was not around.

She walks over and puts her arms around my neck, “In that case, I would like a tour of the new GEH office.”

“That is a given, but not today.  No work, remember?”  She nods.  “If there’s nowhere else you want to go, then we can lounge about until the party.”

She pokes her bottom lip out in an oh so cute little pout.  I love it.  “Well, then we can always talk.”

OH FUCK!  Talking, again…REALLY?  Doesn’t that shit ever get old to her?

I flop down on the couch, cover my face with my hands and sigh deeply, resigned to my fate.  “Can we at least talk about sex?”  I peek out at her with a hopeful expression, only to see Ana shaking her head no emphatically.  “Dammit.”

“What was that Mr. Grey?  I don’t believe I heard you.  Would you repeat that last statement please?”  I don’t know what she is playing at but I am not falling so easily.

“Smart-ass.”  I mumble, “What shall we talk about then Dear?”  I say as sweetly as I can.

“Well, let’s see” she taps her finger against her bottom lip and I have visions of licking her there instead “…there’s your family, your return to Seattle, the wedding and that letter.”

Oh shit, I forgot.  “The letter, where is it?”  I begin to retrace our steps to the bedroom.  I don’t remember where we laid the damn thing.  “Where did you lay it Ana?  We need to see whom it’s from.”

“Christian!”  I immediately halt my search.

“Let’s take these things in the order of importance, ok?”  I nod slowly with a stunned look on my face I’m certain.

I didn’t realize there was an agenda for this meeting.

“Good…your family.  Have you called them lately?”  She’s standing with her arms crossed over her chest, leaning against the bedroom door jam.

Why does she look so fucking sexy?

Down boy, remember, we’re talking?

FUCK!, Alright have it her way, but make this shit quick…I’ve got other plans.

I ignore him and respond to Ana, “I talk with Carrick weekly and Grace every two weeks.  Tomorrow night will be their joint call.  You’re more than welcome to join in the interrogation.”  I grumble like a sulky teenager, but I don’t care.  I’m a fucking, grown-ass man who has to call Mommy and Daddy on a regular basis.  Why?  I didn’t talk to them this much when I was away at Harvard.

“That’s a good idea and please, loose the tude.  They care about you and miss you terribly.”  I don’t comment.

Good boy.  Hold your tongue Grey.

“Now, how about Seattle?  When do you plan on going back?”  I look at her astonished.  She’s really serious about this going back to Seattle thing.

Who in the fuck said we wanted to go back to that Hellhole?  That place is the definition of trouble anymore.  That old sack of shit bitch is there and she won’t leave us alone.  Why would we go back to the doom and gloom of Seattle when we have sea, sun and splendor all around us right here?

I have to be honest, “Ana,” I can feel the sweat forming on my brow, “uh, honestly, I don’t know that I ever want to return to Seattle permanently.  I know I’ll have to go there on business, but to live…well, I can’t say.  Other than you and my family, there’s only stress, strain and heartache in Seattle.

“I know I made the art of tolerating my lifestyle look easy, but…I like my newfound freedom.  I like not having security looking over my shoulder.  I like people nodding hello and continuing on their way.  No one gives me a second glance here.  It’s fucking fabulous!  You, of all people, should appreciate those sentiments.”  Based on her look of astonishment, I guess the answer is no.

“Baby, why would I go back to that?  Can’t you feel the difference between Townsville and Seattle?  It’s in the air, the sun and the water.  You can even feel it in the sand under your feet.  I don’t want to go back to Seattle; not right now at least.”

She shakes her head and takes on the tone of a parent trying to reason with a small child. “Christian, you can’t stay here.  What about me, about us?  I can’t move to Australia.  I have a job that I love.  How can you ask me to walk away from that?”

Oh not this shit again.  Where’s that hole we wanted to crawl into?  Can the Earth open up and swallow us now…please?

I slowly approach her with a weary look on my face.  “Ana, stop, Baby please, stop.  I don’t know how we’ll deal with your job and my living in Australia.  If you really don’t want to move here, unless I want to live the reminder of my days without you, which I don’t, then I’ll have to go back to Seattle.”  That response didn’t seem to appease her though.

What the fuck else does she want?  We’re willing to walk away from peace and solitude and she still looks pissy.

“Ana, you want honesty right Baby? “  She nods.

“Ana, in my heart of hearts, I don’t want to go back to Seattle.  I’m not trying to be mean, I’m not trying to pressure you and I’m definitely not trying to control you.  I only know that for my own peace of mind, I can’t go back there, I just can’t.”  Here’s our crossroad.  I’m going to lose her for sure now.  There’s no way in Hell she’ll move around the world for me and I can’t expect her to.  I don’t expect her to.  By the same token, she can’t expect me to be unhappy either.  Realistically, she can’t demand I go back there.

I put my arms around her waist and gently pull my Angel to me.  “Ana, Baby, say something.  Yell, scream, hit me just say or do something, please.”  When she looks up at me there is a lone tear sliding down her cheek and she shakes her head.  “Silence speaks volumes Baby.”  I kiss her forehead then rest my forehead on hers.  “Silence speaks volumes.”

There was no need to take our conversation any further. She didn’t say it but I suspect Ana will be returning to Seattle. I’m trying to stay positive and focus on right now, but she’s getting more and more distant as the minutes pass.

I am sending Jason and Gail back to Seattle tomorrow. To my surprise, neither of them is thrilled about the idea. What is it with these people? Had I dictated we all traipse over here I’d never have heard the end of it. As it stands, they can come and go as they damn well please and everyone has a fucking attitude. THIS IS WHY I like control.

I find Taylor sitting at the breakfast bar talking with Mrs. Jones. “Jason.” He sits straight up when he hears my voice. “At ease Jason.” I smile at the confusion on his face. When I glace over at Gail, she’s smiling too.

“I wanted to let you and Gail know you’re welcome to stay here as long as you like, provided security in Seattle is under control. Otherwise, you two can go back to the US tonight or tomorrow if you wish. Just let me know your decision.” The look of shock is clear on their faces. They look at each other then back to me.

Is something wrong?

I’m sure I have a confused look on my face, so Taylor speaks up “Mr. Grey…um…sir. I guess this is my mistake. I expected once you and Miss Steele reconciled we would all return to Seattle.” I have seen surprise on Jason’s face before, but never to this degree.

“Well, Miss Steele may very well be going back to Seattle too. She hasn’t told me her decision. I, however, am not going back. I can’t Jason.” I can feel my heart beat hard every time I say the words out loud. I’m going to loose her. She’ll go back to Seattle and forget all about me, not that I cam blame her. I’ll never love anyone else, ever. I take a deep breath and give them a tight smile.

Jason stands up ramrod straight and asks, “Mr. Grey, may we speak in your office please sir?” Wary of this discussion, I nod my head and motion for him to lead the way. I glance back at Gail and give her a questioning look. She shrugs her shoulders and mouths ‘I have no idea what he wants’ then walks away.

Dear God, what’s happened now? Seattle brings out the worst in my life and now these people want me to go back there. Why?

When I reach my study, I see Jason Taylor standing at attention in the middle of the room. I want to laugh, but I maintain my composure and close the door. I stand in front of him, not nose-to-nose but almost as close, and look him dead in the eye. I’m more than a few inches taller than Taylor. Elliott always laughed about Taylor guarding me because when we were kids I used to kick guys like Taylor’s ass on a regular basis. I’m not saying Taylor is some scrawny little man, not by any means, but standing here like this I see what Elliott means.

“Yes Taylor, how may I help you?” I’m trying not to smile, but this shit is just too funny. I told Taylor things are different here, although I appreciate his respect of our employer-employee relationship, his stick up the ass demeanor is over the top.

“Sir, this is about an encounter I had following the event committee meeting.”

“Wednesday night!” He nods. “What the fuck happened and why did you wait until now to discuss this? What’s going on Taylor?” I’m dazed and aggravated that he didn’t tell me about any problems he had that evening. I didn’t see him when he returned that night. Ana and I were in the Jacuzzi enjoying each other’s company. That’s why I asked Jason to deliver the final report. Had I known there would be some bullshit going on I would’ve dealt with the shit myself.

He still hasn’t said anything. He’s just staring me in the eye, when it hits me, “THE BROWNS!” I growl through clenched teeth. He nods again. “THOSE FUCKERS! What did they do Taylor?” I don’t know what the fuck those bastards issue is with me. I haven’t had any business dealings with them and we haven’t clashed personally. Their sister, father and grandfather have been most respectful. They seemed concerned about me as well as helping me resolve the issue of The Interference in my life. It’s another reason I feel at ease here. In my mind, if I need assistance with anything I can ask either or both of the senior Browns. It’s almost as good as having Carrick here himself.

“I’m waiting Taylor and you know I’m not a patient man.” He appears to be torn up about something. “Come on Taylor, you called me in here. What the fuck happened?”

“I approached Miss Brown after the meeting…”

“WHAT!?” I cut him off. “Why on Earth would you bother Ella?” I haven’t seen her since Ana arrived. I wanted to introduce them, but she hasn’t been around. We don’t have one another’s phone numbers and I don’t feel comfortable just showing up at her family home unannounced.

“Why Taylor?” He takes a deep steadying breath. This is bad. This is really bad…I can feel it.

Without blinking an eye he says, “I advised Miss Brown to cease and desist her contact with you.”

HE DID WHAT!?

He nods his head and continues, still standing at full attention. “I advised Miss Brown that Miss Steele is in your life and I made it clear she should not interfere with your relationship.” Well, he’s protecting Ana. I can’t blame him for doing that. He’s concerned for her happiness and I’m not mad that he is. Who wouldn’t be, but Ella couldn’t give a rat’s ass in a rainstorm about me. I don’t know how many times I have to explain this to him. Is it such an oddity for a man and woman to be friends? Or is he protecting Ella as well. Am I so abhorrent he feels the need to guard her against me?

“Taylor…” I don’t know how to verbalize this without starting a pissing downpour. “What happened next?” Let’s get this all out before I suffer an aneurysm.

Seems to be the new theme in our life now, right Grey?

No shit Sherlock. I wonder why?

“Permission to speak freely sir?” I am so fucking sick of that question. I nod and wave my hand dismissively. If this helps Taylor relax enough to give me the full fucking story then so be it. I sit on the edge of my desk like a little kid listening while Uncle Taylor spins a yarn.

“Like I said, I told Miss Brown…” Again he hisses her name as if she were some loathsome creature.

I hold up my hand. “Taylor, like her or not, she’s been a friend to me. She’s done nothing wrong at this point so please, stop belittling her name.”

His face turns a deep shade of red as he continues, practically yelling, “I told that gold-digging whore to stay away from you! I told her you have a wonderful woman in your life and the last thing you need is her sniffing behind you!”

OH MY FUCKING GOD NO! DEEP, DEEP ,DEEP BREATH GREY! He’s just protecting Anastasia. This is what you pay him to do. He hasn’t spent any time around Ell. And think about it, she showed him and Welch up with her security checks and photographic memory. Do NOT get pissy with this man Grey. Don’t fucking do it.

It’s taking EVERYTHING…and I do mean EVERYTHING not to jump on this mutherfucker right now. I can’t explain why, but that little girl is like family to me and I’m every letter in the words PISSED TO THE GILLS right now. I take that deep breath before thinking about opening my mouth, but my thoughts are still scattered. All I can see is red.

You only get this way about Mia Grey. What is it about Ella that gets you riled up?

I have no fucking idea. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t have to give a shit about me, but she does. No offense to Gail and Jason, but no one, other than Ana and my family, has ever taken a genuine interest in my happiness without being paid or gifted in some way.

“Taylor,” I have to whisper this or I’ll break the fucking windows bellowing at him, “what, if anything, happened next?” Dear God in Heaven let that be the end of the conversation. I can hear Ella chewing his ass out now. Please let that be the end of it.

You and I both Ninja Girl can’t stand Taylor. So fuck yeah there’s more. You’re gonna have to school Mr. Taylor in Ella Brown 101.

“I approached Miss Brown and placed my hand on her shoulder. My intention was to force her to face me…”

My eyes widen in shock and I interrupt him again, “DO YOU KNOW THAT WOMAN IS A MMA FIGHTER?! And I don’t mean just a little rolling around on the floor. Taylor, I mean Sprawl-and-brawl, Clinch fighting, Ground-and-pound and Submission grappling.” His eyes widen as well at the list of things Ella can do. I haven’t mentioned her tussling with things in the sea.

Keep that to yourself Grey.

“Taylor, just like you don’t underestimate Ana, do NOT underestimate Ella Brown. She has skills you and I have never indulged in. Her father and grandfather are even worse.” Ever so slowly the blood drains from his face leaving him whiter than snow.

THAT got him. I bet her old man got hold of Taylor.

I nod my head and he shakes his in astonishment.

“That explains it then.” He remarks. I hang my head. These people will tie him up, carve him up and feed him to the fish in the local aquarium. No need to get a boat and go out to sea. The fact that he made it home is a testament to Ella’s father and/or grandfather’s civility.

I wave my hand again, “Go on Taylor.” I can’t raise my head to look at him. They scared the shit out of him. I know they did.

“A man approached me from behind and offered a handshake…” My head snaps up and I hold up my hand again.

“I am going to make this easy on you Taylor. Was the voice pleasant and smooth sounding?” He nods yes.

Yep, that’s her father.

“Did you turn around to shake his hand?” Yes again.

Wrong move Jason.

“Did he look a Hell of a lot like me?” He nods yes once more.

Bingo!

Ella did this move on me and I was so fucking insulted, I didn’t speak to her for days afterwards and it didn’t seem to bother her at all. After a committee meeting, she cussed me out when I tried to confront her about the shit then she had me apologizing for something I still don’t know what I did.

Hee,hee, hee…She had you apologizing for being an arrogant schmuck. Oh what a funny day that was. Little Miss Spitfire’s a HOOT!

Cool it asshole.

Whateva, you still got taken down by a LITTLE girl.

“Did the gentleman cuff you, take you down and put a foot in your back?”

Don’t laugh at him Grey. You remember how embarrassed and pissed you were. At least he was subdued by a grown man not one of the Lollipop Kids.

I don’t give a fuck if you call her Tinker Bell the shit’s still funny to me. Big Bad Jason Taylor jacked up by a lowly Townsville local. Seems I’m not the only arrogant schmuck in my life.

He gives a very small nod. It almost looks like he only blinked his eyes. I can’t hold it in anymore. The laugh starts deep in my chest then moves quickly to my stomach. When I see the look of indignance on his face, I fall back, rolling on the desk.

“Tay…Taylor. Her old man…was in Vietnam. He served in the air and on the ground. Her granddad…WOO, you should see your face. Her granddad served in World War Two in Europe…oh fuck, I can’t breathe…this is too much…mainly on the ground. WOW! Did you just turn green? HA HA HA…don’t hate mutherfucker. I sent you to deliver a simple report, not a warning. Oh…ok…lemme catch my breath.” As I wipe the tears from my eyes and struggle to catch my breath, I see I have clearly offended Jason.

I shake my head and walk over to him, “Jason, I’m not fucking around with Ella and she is NOT interested in me or my money. Like you, I didn’t do any research on her and I still haven’t and I don’t intend to.” His eyes widen again. I’m just full of surprises lately ain’t I?

“Taylor, I told you I met her family, they come from OLD money. Not rich…wealth. Not just billions. I mean mega-billions! They could crush me if they decided to. They‘re not recognized by Forbes and the other rag lists because they’re a private entity and have the right to stay under the radar if they so choose, which they do. I learned about EB, Pty while at Harvard so I have no question about its legitimacy.”

“I’m not interested in Ella and she’s not interested in me. She has grown to be a friend and her family, at least her father and grandfather, have proven themselves to be decent human beings. Her brothers are a bunch of spoiled, rich fuckers just like the ones I grew up with so there’s no love lost between us, but I know how to handle them regardless of how juvenile they may be.” Just thinking about those stupid bastards takes me back to high school and the fights I had in the locker rooms, the hallways and the classrooms. I sigh and continue.

“And I’ve learned, from the main three of the Brown clan, ‘they’re a bunch of sneaky fuckers’ so I highly recommend you watch your ass when it comes to them.” I raise an eyebrow to emphasize my point. He nods, but still seems troubled.

“What else Taylor? Please, speak up.”

“I cannot put my finger on it sir. Like you said, there is something shady about that crew and your disinterest in doing background checks is disturbing to me. You did a background check on Miss Steele the day you met her, but not this Ella Brown. Why not?” I think about this for a minute.

See, I told you, common theme.

Whatever. Shut up and think. Why didn’t we get a background check on her?

Do I have to remind you of everything?

…Maybe Welch can…

OH NO YOU DON’T, no stalking Grey! That’s a hard limit from this point forward. We’re done with that bullshit. She’s not looking for a job with you, ok. Background checks, stalking and monitoring are for work and the safety of loved ones ONLY. We turned over a new leaf remember? None of your bad habits or dirty tricks allowed.

So how do I know she’s not some little tramp looking to line her purse? I get background checks so I have information to protect myself, remember?

It’s what the general population calls ‘sticking your neck out’. Get used to it.

Ever consider she is wealthy in her own right? No, THAT never crossed your mind because, of course, you’re the only rich fucker on the planet. Look, if you don’t like people calling you arrogant and self-centered then stop being arrogant and self-centered.

“I didn’t see it as a necessity Taylor. I saw Ella in a park. We didn’t even speak. At first I seriously considered calling Welch and having him work his elfin magic to find out who she was, but I realized that’s how I’ve run my life for a long time and it doesn’t really protect me. If anything, it makes things worse.

When I finally did get up the nerve…yes, get up the nerve…to say hello to her, the situation quickly became a friendship. Talking to her I learned who she was and I realized there was no threat; unless I pissed her grandfather off and he came after GEH of course. So I never bothered with a background check. The Browns have become confidants, if you will, and I value their opinion.” That’s all there is to it, nothing outlandish, nothing sinister about it, sweet and simple.

“Now, I hope you and Gail will attend this evening’s event and I hope to introduce Ana to Ella.” I shake my head as the man goes pale again.

“Taylor, the only thing I have to worry about now is how to deal with the possibility that the woman I love may leave me… again. Anastasia hasn’t consented to staying in Australia and I have no intention of returning to the United States, permanently, for the foreseeable future.” He looks at me questioningly and I nod.

Speak up man.

“Sir, I know the young woman who came to Escala that night; she was distraught. It took all Gail could do to comfort her while Welch, Barney and I worked feverishly to find out what the fuck was preventing her from contacting you. There is no way she would leave.”

I smile weakly. “Taylor, sit down.” I proceed to go through the whole ridiculous tale about how I ended up in Townsville Australia. Beginning with her accepting my proposal to the day she showed up at the airport, just pertinent information of course.

“So you see Taylor, I cannot go back there. I feel like the weight of the world is off my shoulders here. As much as I would like for Ana, Gail and you to stay with me it is not fair to any of you. I know full well how important Ana’s career is to her and I knew this would be the issue.”

“Taylor, I am tired. I can’t explain how tired I am with people interfering in my life. I can’t make Ana happy because she feels trapped and stifled by me. When I’m in Seattle, I worry about her safety, not because I don’t trust her, but because I don’t trust the rest of the world, that she’s trying to live up to I might add.” She can’t see the distinction between the two for some reason. “Since I’ve been away, Sawyer’s protection seems to have been enough so it must be me.“

“Then there is Elena…” His hackles are raised now. I can see the steam jetting from the top of his head. “Yes I said it, the Bitch-Troll. Do I have to fight in the lobby of my building, foyer of my apartment, in the middle of a restaurant to keep that old sack of shit out of my life? How the fuck do I get rid of her?” I throw my hands up in frustration.

“Someone please tell me, how the fuck to I get rid of The Interference in our lives?”

Taylor and I just look at each other then down at the floor shaking our heads. There has to be a way to get free from her. There has to be.


[1] The Bowery Boys were fictional New York City characters, successors of the “The East Side Kids” who were the subject of feature films released by Monogram Pictures from 1946 through 1958.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 12 Finally

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

Chapter 12 | Finally

GREY

I see it…the GEH jet.  “Finally” I say, barely above a whisper.  Taylor looks straight ahead, but nods.

Once it’s safe on the tarmac, I actually run to the plane and up the steps.  I’m about to beat on the door when Natasha opens it and I see my baby.  She runs straight into my arms and I can’t help myself.  I kiss her forehead, her eyes, her nose, her cheeks, her chin and oh, I save the best for last, I kiss her soft, plump, sexy lips.

We both groan in unison as I lick then pull her bottom lip between my teeth and bit down softly.  She gasps and I take full advantage of her open mouth as I slowly my tongue between her lips and pull her closer to me.  She tastes fucking heavenly.

One hand grazes down her body and I manage to stop myself at the small of her back and push her even closer to me, if that’s possible.  Having her body against mine, my cock begins to pound against my jeans.  I can’t control my hips as I grind into her.  All the while, her hands gently stoke my chest, my biceps, my shoulders then her fingers run through my hair pulling my face closer to hers.

“Ahem, good to see you again Mr. Grey.”

Huh?  What?  Oh shit…not now.  Don’t bother me.  The bed is so close.  We can just…

Anastasia breaks our kiss, so I say “Hello Stephen” without ever looking away from Ana’s crystal blue eyes.  “How was the flight?”  It’s pretty much a rote conversation.  Not only can I not hear but I don’t care about his response.

“Thank you Stephen.  See you next time.”

“Certainly Mr. Grey, Miss Steele.”  He smiles as he nods and returns to the cockpit.

“Come Anastasia.”  I take her hand and begin to lead her out of the plane.

“Oh wait, Miss Steele, you almost forgot your letter.”  Letter?  What letter?  We said no work.  What the fuck’s with a letter?

I raise my eyebrow and look at her quizzically.  She shrugs her shoulders and accepts the envelope from Natasha.  “I’ll take that, thank you.”  I say as a gently slide the letter out of Ana’s hand and tuck it into my jacket pocket then I lean in close to Ana and remind her,  “We said no business while you’re here and I’ve already been cheated due to the time change so, no…business…allowed.”  I kiss her on the tip of her nose.

She doesn’t argue with me, but Natasha goes on to explain that Ana did not bring this from the office.  The letter was delivered directly to the plane.  By this time, Stephen and his co-pilot have joined the conversation.  No one knows who sent the mystery correspondence.  “Thank you all.  Come Anastasia.”  Now I am pissed, but not at her.

When we reach my R8, I open her door and say, “I love you Baby.”  She lowers her gaze and blushes profusely.  I put two fingers underneath her chin to lift her head so I can see into those beautiful blue orbs.  “I’m here Baby.  Don’t look away.  Please don’t hide, not from me.  You’re finally here.  I can’t tell you how happy I am.  I’ve missed you so much Anastasia, so fucking much.”  I pull her into my arms again and told her…tightly.  She’s my life.

I lower my lips and brush them lightly against hers.  She sighs contently and it takes every ounce of control not to throw her on the hood of my car and take her right here, right now.  “You’re so beautiful Baby.  Let’s go home.

LINCOLN

“I said count!”  I bellow at this sniveling idiot.

“Twenty-One!  Thank you Mistress.”  He is trying to placate me.  I told him to count and nothing more.  All he is doing is pissing me off.

“Twenty-two!  I submit all to you Mistress.”  He practically shrieks.  The lattice design on his back will bruise nicely.  He always turns a majestic purple when he bruises.  I love it.  Isaac is a fool, as far as men go.  For a submissive, he is not bad.  Of course no one compares to my powerhouse…my grey-eyed, favorite Pet.  My clit begins to tingle and throb just thinking about his tall, muscular physique between my legs as he drives himself into me.

“Count Isaac!”  I yell even louder.  Remembering how that mousey little gold-digger managed to contact my Pet, let alone go to him, pisses me off even more.

“Twenty-five…”  I can tell he is reaching his limit as he voice gets weaker and weaker.  Christian could withstand one hundred lashes with a whip.  Just the thought of the marks and bruises he left here wearing makes me drool to this very day.

They don’t make them like that anymore, do they Mistress?

I should say not.

Isaac groans on last time before passing out cold.

REALLY?  I mean REALLY Isaac?  Give me strength.  No, rewind that; give this weakling strength and stamina.

I grab the front of his hair to pull his head back off of the floor and caress his cheek, “Rest now dear boy” then I put my lips directly against his ear, “you will NEED it”  I growl.  I lick the shell of his ear and hear him groan again.  Shaking my head and stomping out of my Dungeon, I leave Isaac in a heap on the floor.

Pathetic excuse…


I stand, sipping a glass of Pinot Blanc looking onto the back yard of my home.  Although it did not all start here, my Pet and I had some wonderful “playdates” in this place.  I sigh to myself, “Why her Pet?  You can do so much better than her.”

I cannot believe this shit is still going on.  It has been almost three months since they made that ridiculous engagement announcement then just as suddenly as my Pet announced his intention then the mousy little gold-digging whore turned tail and ran from him.  He has held up well under the media scrutiny, but then he is a master at controlling his universe.  I was so hoping this time away from that…mistake…would give him cause to rethink things; rethink our relationship.  I would help him sow his wild oats.  Anyway, doesn’t’ out of sight mean out of mind?

I have tried to coax my Pet back to me, back to my Playroom.  He always plays hard to get, but I know his body so fucking well.  For whatever reason he tries to forget there was a time when I made him whimper with one stroke of my fingernail across his amazing pecs.  Fear of touch be damned!  I own my submissives and I owned him.  As his Domme I took liberties.  I touched him, stroked him and fucked him any way I pleased.  And he loved every fucking second of it.  I still know when his body is aching for its release, aching for the exquisite sensations we shared for so many years.  One hour in my Playroom is all it will take for my Pet to feel whole again.  I am all he needs.

I’m not arrogant enough to presume he would submit to me; that would be ludicrous.  No, I will place myself at his beautiful feet in total submission.  I know how to motivate him, to encourage him and to entice him into once again being the perfect Dom…for me alone.  His beautiful cock is simply wasting away trying to get off with, and now without, that plain old bookworm bitch.  How I long to slide my hand into his jeans and cup him tenderly just as I did when he was a virgin.  Pure, innocent, untouched and untouchable, that was my Pet and I owned him.

Now, I am reduced to the likes of weaklings and imbeciles with little to no control and inferior sexual prowess.  My Pet was a man even at fledgling age of 15.  I even knew that, under my guidance, he would become a Dom one day.  It was just a matter of time and with the right motivation it happened.  Yes, I remember well the punishments I gave him, and the rewards…it was pivotal.

Now he is wasting his life waiting for that pitiful excuse someone calls a woman.  I thought putting a wedge between them would be difficult.  If that stupid bitch would listen to my Pet even once, she would realize his security measures and monitoring are for a reason.  All I had to do was plant that slack-ass Isaac at the coffee shop up the street from Anastasia’s apartment and tell him to wait.  When I wanted him back in my Playroom I would station Patrick or Christopher in the coffee shop, those two are more like men than the world realizes.  At fifteen, they can each fuck like freight trains.  Neither of them will ever replace my Pet, but they are each a nice diversion.

My thirteen-year-old triplets, Michael, Logan and Nelson, are beautiful boys who simply monitored Miss High and Mighty and kept me up to date on her comings and goings.  They were able to get closer to the apartment and pick up the Wi-Fi signal more directly on their iPhones than Isaac could in the coffee shop, so he used their devices to complete his assignments.

The pièce de résistance is my angel, Zachary.  At the pristine age of twelve, Zachary can melt the hardest of hearts with one smile.  He would just hangout with a couple of his friends to take pictures of Miss Steele and my Pet if I desired.

My men brought back any information I required and Isaac laced the pictures, emails and texts with various viruses, Trojans and annoying malware.  It only took one of these things to allow me access to Anastasia’s computer and thus her connection to my Pet.

So many communications they missed from one another.  All it took was a tap on the screen for Isaac to delete all of the messages they would have shared.  While Isaac is not the consummate submissive, he is computer savvy and a bit of an anti-romantic.  He informed me the best way to control the situation was to allow them to send messages, allow the messages, in whatever format, to reach their destination then…delete, delete, delete.  Isaac would either delete things one-by-one from Anastasia’s computer or run a program he installed onto her laptop via his visceral computer gifts.  Each evening he used it as foreplay before meeting me in my Playroom or he used it to soothe his soul after a punishment session in my Dungeon.  Whatever works for him I do not care, as long as Steele stays away from my Pet.

For now, I sent my men home.  I rewarded each of them, in my own special way, for all of the hard work they did for their Mistress.  I sigh inwardly, strong, young, eager hands, muscular, resilient legs, demanding yet enthusiastic tongues and lips and thick, ripe cocks are wonderful things to have at your beck and call.


My Second rings the doorbell.  He knows the rules and observes them from the moment he crosses the line of my property.  He does not wait until he has entered my home or my Playroom.  I open the door to a beautiful, tall, muscular young man with light auburn hair and grey, my déjà vu, “Mistress.  Your desire was to see me.  I submit myself to you.”  His deep rich voice wafts through the air, music to my ears.

“Come in Christopher.  Yes, I do desire to see you.  Where is she?”  My Men have been keeping tabs on Miss Anastasia Rose Steele since the day after my Pet’s birthday party.  I must know every…little…thing about the fiasco people are confusing with a relationship between my Pet and that nobody.

My Second knows how to treat this situation.  “She boarded the GEH jet, alone, just before 7:00 PM departing for Australia.”

“DAMMIT!”  I yell.  I blame Isaac for this.  With a curt tone I tell my Second, “That will be all for now Christopher, I will call you when I feel it is necessary.”

As a true submissive should, Christopher nods his head once then turns to leave.  No words, no looks, he simply follows my instructions.  If all my submissives were like him, I would be in heaven.  Unlike my Pet, I can sense misbehavior.  It radiates off men so I instinctively know when a punishment is necessary.  Christopher has served me well and he will be rewarded…later…and so will I.

“Isaac let her get Continue reading “Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 12 Finally”

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 11 It’s Up To Me

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

Chapter 11 | It’s Up To Me

GREY

“TAYLOR!”  I yell from the foyer as Ella and I burst into the house.

“Yes sir.”  Taylor appears with his hand on the gun I didn’t know he had with him.

Something ELSE to discuss with dear ‘ole Taylor.

I ignore him re-holstering his gun and make introductions as we enter the living room.  “Jason Taylor, this is Ella Brown.  Ella this is Taylor, he’s my Head of Security.”

He takes his hand off his weapon then says “Ma’am.”  And gives a curt little nods, but he doesn’t accept her proffered hand.  I’m actually stunned.  Professional Taylor is nothing new, but this guy is someone I’ve never met. 

Down Jason, she’s not the enemy. 

I know he and Gail are fiercely loyal to Ana, but we’ve discussed Ella is detail so I don’t get it.

“Taylor, Miss Brown has information about the breach in Miss Steele’s computer.”

He raises an eyebrow and says, “Oh she does?  Pray tell Miss Brown?”  What is with the attitude Taylor?  She is here to help Ana as well.

“Taylor, Miss Brown is here to HELP us.  She’s not here to take over and she’s not here to be looked down upon.  Just as easily as she can give her help she can take it away.  So please, lose the ‘tude’, ok?”  I don’t want to scold a grown man, but this shit is totally out of character for him and it’s gotten on my last fucking nerve.  These people need to learn about me.  They say they care then why the fuck do I feel like they want to keep my locked away from anyone and everyone except Ana.  Am I not to be trusted around other people?

Easy Grey.  We need to get through one situation at a time.  Right now, it’s about Ana and her not being able to contact you.  Stick with me here.  You can light into his shit another time.  Right now, focus.

Fine, but later he gets it.

Fair enough.

He looks offended, but right this fucking second I don’t give a rat’s ass.  Just get this shit sorted out.

“Miss Brown, what information do you have?”  His tone is dry, his face is set on impassive and his behavior is deplorable.  I’m fucking embarrassed to call him my employee right now.

Ella goes into her monologue about Isaac, his abilities with technology specifically computer hacking.  “But that means he would have to be in the area of Miss Steele’s apartment in order to access her Internet signal.  Are you proposing he sat on her porch while he did all of this?”  She looks up slowly and I see it is the same look she gave her brothers as she reminded them of her ninja capabilities.

“Mr. Taylor is it?”  Taylor nods.

“First, I do not intend to be spoken to that way.  Second, if you do not want my information then I will gladly piss off and save my oxygen for the next time I dry heave, the choice is yours.  Third, I suspect by your obvious military training you learned how to spot bullshit at a thousand yards; therefore, based on your snide remarks, curt tone and overall chauvinistic behavior I must have hit the mark and your pride is sore.  To prevent you any further discomfort, you can grovel to me when you need more information.  Oh and I suggest you upgrade your search tactics and contact lists.”  She quips.

‘I suggest you upgrade you search tactics and contact lists.’  That remark took him for a loop.  He just stands there.

“Good evening…’gentlemen’.”  Ella nods her head quickly then marches out of the room.

What the fuck is the deal?  “Ella, wait!”  I glare at Taylor.  This woman has information we need.  Fuck his pride and mine too.  I reach her as she’s putter her hand on the doorknob, “Ella, please do not leave.  We need your help.  I need your help.  Forget about the male egos and just tell us what you know so we can get this shit fixed.”

“Love, I can out investigate him,” she motions over her shoulder at Taylor, “with instructions from a box of Cracker Jacks and tips from a Nancy Drew mystery.  If you want this sorted out, we Browns will sort it out, but that arrogant fucker won’t be involved.  Like I told you, my grandfather will be the only point of contact and his investigators do…not…fail.  Meet me at the family home tomorrow evening after work.  I’ll introduce you to two of the most civilized gentlemen in this solar system and we’ll take care of ‘the interference’.  See you then Love.”  And out she goes.

I return to the living room, tired, pissed and embarrassed.  What the fuck is Taylor’s issue?  “TAYLOR!”  I bark.  This is bullshit.  Taylor is always the epitome of professionalism no matter what the situation.  He always listens if for no other reason than to point out the inadequacies in the information he received.  This time, he didn’t even hear what the information was.

“Yes sir.”  He can snarl all he wants, we need her help.

“What the fuck is your problem?  She’s here to help.  She’s on our side, MY side, in all of this.  What the fuck gives?”

“Welch and I will gladly review whatever documentation Miss Br…”

“She doesn’t keep documentation Taylor.  She has a photographic memory.  She read the information herself and committed it to memory.  Is there a problem with that?”

Unfazed by my statement he says, “Mr. Grey, how much do you know about Miss Brown?  Who is she?  What does she want from you?  Is she asking for…”

I cut him off.  I know he of all people didn’t just say that.  He is constantly telling me to lighten up about people being after my money.  “PAY?  Is she asking for money?  Is that what you want to know Taylor?”

“Have either you or Welch ever heard of EB, Pty?”  He looks at me with a blank expression, but I know that look.  He has no fucking idea who or what I’m talking about.  “I thought not.  EB Pty is THE largest and most powerful unlimited proprietary company in the southern hemisphere.  EB Pty is what I fantasize GEH becoming one day.  Miss Brown has access to more money than I do in my wildest, wettest dream.  She gives a fuck about me, as a friend, almost family, and my happiness not my money.”  She alone, right this second is worth more than I am and she has not worked a significant job a day in her life yet.

I’m so fucking tired of bullshit.  I can’t deal with him anymore tonight.  “Good night Taylor.”  I do not wait for a response.  I march to my room, slam the door and let out a sigh of frustration.  God, please let Ella help me, please.


Hello Pet, are you not glad to hear from your Mistress?  You disappointed me, again, my beautiful Pet.  You were my favorite, but if you continue to disrespect me you will fall out of my favor.  Do you understand Pet?  I’m in her dungeon.  She has me strapped, naked, to the cold bare stone wall.  I’m blindfolded.  Her voice seems to come from everywhere around me; the sound pierces my brain and has me on high alert.  She’s never sounded this frigid and calculating before.

NO!  Go away…leave me alone…you hurt me…you’re bad, you’re mean…my voice sounds high, loud and very afraid.

Hush, hush Pet, I saved you.  I saved you from yourself.  I showed you the error of your ways and put you on the path to success.  Everything you have is because of me.  I own all of your happiness Pet.  Do not forget that.  Her cold hand is stroking my face and then my neck.  She stops at my collarbone.  She intended to touch my chest.

NO!  Go away…leave me alone…you hurt me…you didn’t love me…all I feel is pain and despair and hate; it’s seeping into my soul.  Where the fuck am I?  I can’t see anything and I only hear her voice.

LOVE IS FOR FOOLS PET!  How many times do I have to tell you that?  Love is for the weak.  Love is messy and a waste of time.  It is more trouble than it is worth Pet.  Strength, dominance and control are the only characteristics worth developing, worth having.  Only these abilities lead to success and with success these skills are honed.

NO!  Go away…leave me alone…I need love…I need friends, I need family…I feel myself getting weak.  It’s as if my life’s energy is being drained from my body the longer I’m here…wherever here is.

It is that submissive who turned you against me, that mousey, little, gold digging submissive.  You trust her, you believe her instead of your Mistress?  It angers me Pet.

I don’t have a submissive!  I have Ana and you can’t keep us apart.  I love Ana and she loves me.  Ana will be here.  Ana will help me.  Ana will save me from you.  ANA!  HELP ME ANA!  ANA!  Where is she?  Where is my Ana?  I need her help.  Only she can lead me out of this darkness.  I need her.  I need her light.

HA!  You sound pathetic Pet.  You sound like a fool.  “Ana will help me…Ana loves me…boo, hoo, hoo.  Poor Christian, he needs HIS Ana to protect him.  HA!  As she mocks me, I feel myself getting weaker.  I feel myself giving up.   Ana, where are you?

She will take all of your money, she will leave you with nothing and you will come crawling back to me.  I WILL have you again.  DO YOU HEAR ME PET?  I WILL HAVE YOU AGAIN!  YOU…ARE…MINE!

NO!  NO!  ANA!  ANA HELP ME!  The darkness.  Darkness is surrounding me.  I can’t breath.  I can’t move.  I feel the darkness taking over me.  How did I get here?  How do I get out of this place?  ANA, PLEASE HELP ME!!!

I bolt straight up in bed, sweating profusely, my hear racing and I can’t catch my breath.  I find myself tangled in the bed sheets.  It was as if I was fighting to get free.

BITCH!


As I wait for Ella to arrive, I have enough time for a quick call to the States and because the noise level is just the right decibel, I don’t sound out of place when I yell, “WELCH!  Fucking forget about it, Miss Brown is point on this.  If you want to be involved you and Taylor will have to kiss her ass and see what she tells you” then I slam the phone down.

I cussed Welch and Taylor out for hours.  I’ll let Ella, her grandfather and her father handle this one…end of.  She has the intel and better, more reliable resources.  I may not be a fucking genius but I’m not a fool either.  I know when I’m at my limit and I know to turn to the experts when it’s necessary.  Compared to the Browns, Taylor and Welch are nothing.

“Hello Love.  Waiting for me are you?”  She came sauntering over in her slim black pencil skirt, fitted white button up blouse, matching black suit jacket and a pair of black, soft tanned leather, sky-high fuck me Manolo Blahnik’s, her signature shoe.

Hmm, never considered them, huh Grey?

I guess she had interviews today.

Those shoes aren’t included in the ‘What to Wear to an Interview Handbook’ are they?

No comment.  She asked me to meet her at the coffee shop after I was done at Grey House this evening.  We are going to meet with her father and grandfather about what is now affectionately being referred to as ‘The Interference’.

“Why yes Miss Brown, I’m waiting for you.  Did you have interviews today?”  She nods yes.  “How’d they go?”

“I believe I’ll get a position with one of the local aquariums which is a good start.  I have to make my mark somehow.”  I frown at that statement.  She sounds like Ana.

“Don’t frown Love.  People know my name, my face and my family.  That means I have to work harder to prove I’m not a slacker.  My grandfather would have my ass about that.  Even I recognize that what you know allows you to capitalize on who you know.”

“Too many rich kids think their family name will take them to the top.  The only thing my family name does is open the door.  It’s up to me to step through, barge in or barely skid by on my ass.  I’m not pushy, I’m independent and will fight, but I won’t shit on the hand that feeds me.  I prefer to step in like a lamb and work like a lion.  The world will look at me because I am Ella Brown.  The world will pay attention to me because Ella Brown knows what the fuck she’s talking about.”  She ends with a curt nod of her head.

Do I dare tell Ana she needs to talk with Ella.

Hold off Grey.  Let’s get Steele here and be sure you still have a fiancée first, ok?

“Now, let’s settle this ‘interference’ of yours so you and Anastasia will be together, happily ever after.”  She smiles brightly, takes my hand and pulls me out of the coffee shop.


The Brown Family home is not far from my own.  As we step into the foyer Ella yells, “Dad, Granddad are you home?”  She sounds like a kid coming home from school.  It makes me smile.

“Ellie, we are in the study.  Is he with you?”  A deep voice booms back to her.  HE?  Damn, am I in trouble or something

“Yeah, and you just scared him.”  She giggles at the look on my face.  Then, if it is possible her smile just got bigger and she winked at me.  All I can do is shake my head.

She is too much.

“Smart boy.  Bring him in here.”  We enter the study and I freeze.  Her father and grandfather are both my height with the signature square jaw line and almond-shaped eyes, only they both have curly, light auburn hair and grey eyes.  The gentlemen smile broadly and motion for me to enter the room.  I’ve seen these men before.  Just like Ella, there’s something about them…I KNOW I’VE SEEN THEM BEFORE.

“Nice to meet you Mr. Grey,” the younger of the two men steps forward and shakes my hand, strong but still friendly “I am Ellie’s father Emmett Brown and this” he motions to the older gentleman behind the large oak desk “is my father Edward Brown.”

The senior Mr. Brown simply nods and says, “We are pleased to meet you Mr. Grey.  Our Ellie regards you highly.  That is not something we take lightly.  Ellie is a superb judge of character.  Consider yourself privileged.”

I look to my left at Ella, who is dramatically rolling her eyes.  “Thank you both for helping me Mr. Brown, Mr. Brown.  Ella has been a wonderful friend to me since I came to Townsville.  I respect her and value her opinion.”  The men exchange a glance then Ella and her father leave me alone with the patriarch of the family.

Mr. Brown moves forward in his chair then says “May I call you Christian?”

“Certainly Mr. Brown.”  As much as I won’t admit it to anyone outside of this room, the fact that this man is speaking with me about any issue, especially a non-business issue is an honor.

“Call me Edward.  Christian, I do not mince words and I do not care if I step on toes.  If you are thin-skinned, you will need to leave now and I will handle this matter according to Ella’s recommendations.  She can play liaison.”

We look each other directly in the eyes, neither of us blinking.  After a long pause he continues, “Good man.  Ella is quite taken with you.  She is never taken with anyone or anything.  She is very analytical and can be lockstep at times, but she is never emotional.  It will make her a formidable CEO when her time comes. Make no mistake, she WILL do as I say and she KNOWS it.”

Note to self, GEH needs to stay in good graces with EB, Pty.  We KNOW first hand how off the chain ‘Ninja Girl’ can get.

“My granddaughter and I have a unique relationship.  No matter how much I love my son and grandsons, as it was with her aunt before her, my counsel with Ella is the final word on any and all business deals EB, Pty has had since the day she could follow the sound of my voice as an infant.”  What the fuck!  Is this old guy crazy?  “She has never steered me wrong.”

“The interference in your life has to go…period.  It cannot be controlled, it cannot be redirected and it cannot be contained.  Those options are not sufficient to garner the desired result for the appropriate amount of time…period.  Any questions, concerns or comments Mr. Grey?”

“No sir.”

“Good, this is what we know…” the Browns found out and confirmed, with one phone call, that Isaac canvassed the Pike Market area coffee shops as well as the actual market until he got close enough to catch the ISP signal for Kate and Ana’s apartment.  Why Kavanaugh’s father let her name the network ‘Laters_Babe’ is beyond me.  Anyone who has heard Elliott fart knows that is his signature shit.  Anyway, he got the signal and breached the network security.  Once there he had free reign.  So upon whoever’s request he cut Ana and my line of communication.

The ‘tainted text’ came from a disposable cellphone number, but Mr. Brown’s forensic technology investigators traced the shit all the way back to the store where the purchase was made. CCTV showed Isaac as the buyer.

Isaac has no reason to even blink in either my or Ana’s direction.  His Mistress is a different story.  Ultimately, we have who and we have how, why is the mystery; not really.  Mr. Brown asked if we needed “further assistance with ‘the interference’”.  I thanked him for all of his efforts and told him not at this time.  I asked if there was a change in the situation would he be available and he told me, “As long as my Ella says I should be available to you, then I will” on that note we shook hands and I left.

Ella was nowhere to be found as I made my way back to the foyer.  A sound in the darkness caught me off guard.  “Ahem, Christian.”  Shit!  The fucker scared me.  They are a sneaky bunch aren’t they?

It was Ella’s father.  “Yes Mr. Brown.”

“Emmett, please.  I wanted to thank you for befriending my little Ellie.  She has always been such a lonely child.  Our money and position were a hindrance to her having genuine friends when she was younger.  Ella is a mixture of her mother’s kind, caring nature, my sister’s innocence and intelligence and my own fire and stubbornness.  Ellie will give you the shoes off her feet then carry you to safety.  They do not make women like her anymore.”

“Her kindness has been taken for blindness in the past, so much so that she closed herself off to everyone, except my father and myself.  After her mother passed away and then my sister, Ellie became more introverted.  She was ‘lost’ behind her beautiful blue eyes.”  He shakes his head as if remembering a particular instance.

“Since she met you, she has come alive.  It is almost like she has a reason for living.  Her brothers are jealous of you and your relationship with Ellie.  They are older than her and were living their own lives when Ellie was…” He does not finish.  “Do not worry about them.  I believe she put them in their place at your last committee meeting.  They will not bother you again.”  He lowers his voice when he says, “She can be VERY persuasive.  We all worry that once your situation is righted, your friendship will end and the old Ellie will return.  It is a sad thought.  So forgive us our protectiveness of our princess.”  In his grey eyes, so much like my own, I see a fear for his daughter and her wellbeing.

“Mr. Brown, Ella has taught me a great deal and I value our friendship like no other.  I can proudly say that after my fiancée, Ella is my only friend.  I have been upfront, honest and by all means respectful of her.  I have nothing to gain by breaking her heart.  Somehow, she’s become family to me.”

Mr. Brown’s face softens and his eyes shine silver in the dim light of the foyer.  “It was good to meet you Christian.  We WILL raze ‘The Interference’ should you so desire.”  We shake hands again and he claps me hard on my shoulder.  Again, somewhere in my mind registers, I’ve seen this man before.  There’s a flash in my mind’s eye of a black and white photograph, but just a quickly as it appeared, it’s gone.

“It was good to meet you as well and thank you sir.”  Once out of the house, I look up to my left and see a tiny figure in a window.  I believe it is Ella, her long hair over her shoulder and her tiny hand waving to me.  I wave back then get in my car and leave.

When I get home, I don’t even bother with Taylor.  He and Welch have proven useless in this whole matter.  I eat whatever Gail set aside for me, shower, jump into my pajama pants and rush to the telephone like a love struck teenager.

Ring…Ring…”Christian?”

“Hey Baby, how are you?  Are you excited?  I cannot wait to see you.  You are going to love the house and my new GEH office.  I can’t wait to show you my study, and the TV room and the library and the bedroom…” I can’t help my run-on of questions and statements.  Just thinking of her here has me happy, relieved and horny as hell.  God, it has been SOOO long.  I feel myself start to tingle all over.

No way buddy, we’ve made it this long.  No hand jobs and no more cold showers.  Use some of that control of yours and relax.

I can’t help but rub my cock through my pajama pants as she speaks, “I get it Christian, I get it.  I have news for you, I can’t wait to show you my new pink lace bra and panty set and my green lace bra and panty set and what is under my lace bra and panty sets” then my baby giggles and my heart melts.

“God I can’t wait to be with you.”

DAMMIT GREY!  If you don’t get your hand off of me you will need a little blue pill when she get’s here!

I hear rustling in the background.  “You know you don’t have to pack right?  We can buy whatever you want when you get here.”

“Including a toothbrush?”

I smile at her question.  “I have a sneaking suspicion I can find a toothbrush for you on this side of the Equator Miss Steele.”

“Cool.  I’ll stop packing then.  Now, let me go to work so I can get done and get to you.  I love you Christian.”

“I love you too Baby.  I love you too.”  After we end the call I sigh deeply and look at my pajama pants.  Sorry fellas, I couldn’t help it.  You know?

We know and we’re pissed.  Don’t do that shit again or you’ll regret it.  Now start the DAMN shower.  SHIT!

STEELE

Ring…Ring…Ring…”Grey Enterprise Holdings, Incorporated, Ros Bailey speaking.”  She always has that raspy sound in her voice.  I have to remember that she is not angry about something.

“Hello Ros, this is Anastasia Steele from SIP.”  I hope she remembers me.

You are kidding me…right?

“Ana?  Hi, is there something wrong?”

Like she can forget the boss’ fiancée, even though you have been an ass to him.

“No, no, no I am fine. Everything here is fine.  I know this looks bad and I’m leap frogging over Mr. Roach’s head, but I want to let you know I’m leaving the country this even…” She stops me cold.  Oh no, here it comes.  This is why you don’t try to call in favors.

“Pause Steele.  It’s about fucking time one of you two stubborn bastards came to your senses.”  I didn’t know she felt like this.  “You, my dear, are just as bad, if not worse than Grey himself and that’s some accomplishment.  Go, you have my blessing.  Travel safe and tell him to get his ass back here.  I need a day off.”  She rasps out a deep laugh.

I can’t help laughing too, “Ros, you don’t know where I am going.”

“Don’t try that shit with me Steele.  You can only be going to Australia to see him so try again.”

“Thank you Ros.  I still have to tell Mr. Roach and I know he is going to have a fit.  He already mentioned…”

“The early meeting I called for all editors and their seconds on Monday morning?  That was good of him to follow my instructions and let you know.  However, YOU will not be able to attend because YOU had best still be out of the country.  What’s he going to do, come get you and drag you back to work?”  I can she her with an eyebrow raised when she asked that last question.

“I didn’t want to look like…” She cuts me off again.

“Pause Steele.  I’ve had enough of what you do and don’t want things to look like.  Are you sitting down?”

No but I will.  “Yes.”

“Good.  Besides Claire and Hanna, you are the ONLY hardworking member of the SIP ‘team’ and I use the term loosely.  Did you know that your name has either been moved to the bottom of or blatantly removed from individual and departmental reports?”  She says.

“Uh, no.”  What the fuck?  All the work I’ve done around here, the unpaid overtime, taking home other editors manuscripts to give them a second opinion and lets not mention all the fucking dirty looks I still get after all this time.  Those bastards are taking advantage of me and making me feel inadequate at the same time.  THOSE BASTARDS!

“I thought not.  I have to call Roach EVERY time he turns in a report and you’re not listed on it.  It usually takes him twelve to fifteen minutes to ‘find’ your documentation under the guise that you finished it late.  If he would look at the time/date stamp on the electronic signature he would see that I know differently.”

‘I went through some SIP historical records, dating back to when you were hired.  The information was sorely lacking at first.  After you appeared, there was more detail on the documents where you were listed, last of course, compared to the same reports filed before your employment. Obviously, you’re still considered an assistant in Roach’s point of view.”

Ros takes a deep breath and sighs before she says, “Ana, I know the deal with you and SIP.  I didn’t get to this seat by being a dumbass broad.  You’re playing into their hands and you’re letting them win.  Your civility and desire to fit in is getting you raked over the coals and fucked in the ass at the same time.”

“You work hard Ana and everyone in that office listens to you, because you know what the fuck you are doing and what you are talking about.  They’re shitting on you because you’re not standing up for yourself and accepting the role entrusted to you.  Blending into the crowd may have worked in college, but this is the real world.  The real world ain’t fair.  If you can get a push in the right direction or introduced to the right people AND you know what you are talking about, THEN everything you learned and all the hard work you’ve done will pay off.  You can’t capitalize on whom you know if YOU don’t KNOW anything.”

“Your arms are short right now Ana and you are stretching try to grab the brass ring.  If you’re given a hand to hold so that you can stretch further you may have a better change at reaching your goal.  Receiving help does not mean you will succeed, it means you got help.  You can get all the help in the world, but if you do not know how to best use that help it will all be for naught.”

“You may think I’m rambling, but please listen to me.  Don’t take help as an insult, accept it as help and move on.”  She sighs deeply again, “There, I’m done on my soapbox.  What time does your flight leave?”

“I’m going directly from the office to Sea-Tac, so I guess 6:30PM or 7PM.”

“EWWW!  Have fun with the time change.  Your sleep pattern is gonna to be fucked.  Travel safe Steele, tell Grey I said ‘hello’.”  She laughs.

“Sure thing Ros and thank you.”

“Don’t take help as an insult, accept it as help and move on.”  Hmm sounds like she is on to something there, huh?

Not you.  Not now.  I am busy…period.


I stand outside Mr. Roach’s office door, knock…knock…knock…”COME IN!”  He bellows.  Damn what’s his issue?

I slowly open the door and say quietly, “Hello Mr. Roach.”

Without looking away from his computer screen he says, “What do you need Steele?  I’m trying to get these P/L Reports together for Monday.  Have you turned in the information for your department?”  I wonder if he is busy deleting my report as we speak.

“Yes sir.  Here is a hardcopy.  I emailed the electronically signed document to you and copied Ms Bailey as well.”  Take that shithead.

He stops typing immediately and looks at me, in amazement I believe, almost a ‘how dare you’ glance.  “Why in the fuck did you send it to her?”

“I wanted to make sure she got the information.  I won’t be here on Monday and I wanted to be certain all parties involved received the information in a timely manner.”  I cross my arms and smile brightly.

Anger follows amazement as he yells, “I NEVER APPROVED TIME OFF FOR YOU!  Who the hell…wait a minute…you went straight to Grey for this didn’t you?  You went straight to the top for a ‘special favor’ didn’t you?”  He pounds his fist on the desk making me jump.

“Mr. Roach, I planned this trip weeks ago,” I lie, “you must have misplaced the paperwork.  I mentioned it to you recently.  I guess you were busy with the restructuring and evaluations, but I assure you I did request it.”

Lie, Lie, Lie

So the fuck what?  I am being majorly screwed here and you want to jeer at me?  I need to get to Christian and Roach isn’t gonna to stop me.

“I’ll look for those forms, if I don’t find them and you aren’t here for that meeting on Monday, even Grey won’t be able to help you.”  The look on his face is one of contentment.  He won’t rest until I am out of here.

We’ll deal with that bridge…ya know.  Right now, it’s quitting time.  There is a plane waiting for us NOW!

“Thank you for your time Mr. Roach.”  With that, I turn and leave his office, without looking back.

I collect my briefcase containing the latest reports, manuscripts and policy and procedure manuals then proceed to the lobby, proud of my decision.  “Hi Sawyer, we can go now.  Also, will you take this home, to Escala, for me please?”

“Yes ma’am.”  Christian insisted additional security wasn’t necessary in Townsville so Sawyer is staying in Seattle.  He deserves a break anyway.


“Hello Stephen.”

“Hello Miss Steele, we already have clearance so if you would please take your seat we can begin takeoff immediately.”  I salute him and sit in the first seat available.

“I’m on my way Baby.  I’m on my way.”  I whisper to myself.

Once we’re airborne, Natasha serves dinner.  “Oh, Miss Steele, this letter was delivered for you.”  She hands me a plain white envelope with the letters ARS typed on the front.

“Thank you Natasha.  I’ll read it later.  I’m going to lie down.”

“Certainly Miss Steele.”  She nods and goes back to her area of the plane.

I turn the envelope over and over again in my hands.  Christian always handwrites my name on the cards, letters and notes he leaves for me.  I wonder whom it is from.

Yawn…stretch…I don’t care whom it’s from.  I’m tired.

So am I.  I’ll think about it later.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 10 First Impressions

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

Chapter 10 | First Impressions

GREY

“She has a new BlackBerry and new cellphone number.  Here sir.”

I immediately search my pockets for my phone.  “I have to call her.  I have to reach her.  She’s going to think I don’t love her anymore.  I know Ana’s insecurities.   I know what she’s thinking because I get the same way when it comes to her.”

I find my phone and call her.  As I put the phone to my ear, I see Taylor looking at me with his eyes wide open, but I don’t have time for whatever he’s thinking about, my baby needs me.

Ring…Ring…Ring…Ring…”Hello, this is Ana, I am not available at this time, but if you leave a message I will return your call at my earliest convenience.  Beep.

“Ana…Baby…where are you?  I talked to Taylor and he told me about your BlackBerry and laptop.  Baby, please have Sawyer take you back to Escala and call me from my office.  Don’t use an unsecured line.  I figure you didn’t try to call from your office or your home telephone, which is good Baby.  Please call me again.  I miss you and I love you Baby…always.  Bye” then her voicemail cuts off the call.

I’m getting more and more nervous as I think over how elaborate this scheme is.  If this is Elena, who in the fuck has she paired up with to put this all in motion?  Is she that fucking brilliant?  She is a fucking glorified hairdresser for fuck sake.

I look up at Taylor, what the fuck is he still gawking at?  “WHAT?”  I bark.  I shouldn’t take this out on Taylor.  He had no way of knowing.  I’m sure Ana didn’t tell Sawyer.  She probably confided in Miss Kavanaugh though.  The Heavenly Father and all the Apostles know Miss Kavanaugh hates my fucking guts.

I sit down and put my head in my hands.  “Sir?’  I look up at Taylor with every bit of stress, fear and longing that I feel showing on my face. “She has not forgotten you.  She loves you as well.”

“Sir, we all thought you were moving on when the stories of you and the young lady…”

“Ella.  Her name is Ella Brown.  She’s originally from Melbourne.  She came to Townsville on vacation and to find an internship.  Her family then moved here as well.”  I tell Taylor in a monotone voice.

If he thought I was moving on, then I know Anastasia thought the same thing.  Two emotions I understand more than any others are anger and jealousy.

I shake my head at the irony of the situation.  I left Seattle so she could “get her thoughts and feelings straight” and what do I do?  I end up muddying the water even more.  I close my eyes, groan and shake my head again.

Stop it Grey.  You have done nothing wrong here.

“Sir?”  Taylor again?  I forgot he was sitting there.

“Yes Taylor.”  I say flatly.

“Permission…”

ENOUGH OF THAT SHIT!

“Taylor, just speak dammit!”

He straightens up in his chair, clears his throat and says, “We were all mistaken, sir.  In the past, during times of stress, various young ladies, resembling Miss Brown, have entered and exited your life in rapid succession.  I have had Welch monitoring you…”

I slowly raise my head in shock.  He’s had me under surveillance?  “How long?”  I manage to whisper.

“Since you told me you fired Reynolds and sent him back to Seattle.  It is my duty to protect you Mr. Grey, whether you want me to or not.  I notified Welch and called in a few favors to have you monitored.  Yes sir, you are still being monitored.  Once we sort out your security here, we can see about releasing the current detail.”  He sighs and sits back in his seat, no doubt waiting for me to explode.

However, because of the various arguments we’ve had, Ella has taught me better.  This time I’m able to think fast enough and say to myself, “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength” before I speak to Taylor again.

“Taylor, I appreciate that you take your job seriously and I admire your stealth, but I’m fine.  Like I said, no one knows me here and if they do, they do not give a flying fuck about me.  I’m not the only wealthy individual under the moon and I won’t be the last.  If you want to put security alarms inside the house to detect burglars,” I look him directly in the eyes, “then fine.  Please be sure the proper authorities will be alerted if need be, otherwise, I do not need nor do I want to be monitored or assigned Close Personal Protection.  If I’m in Seattle, that will be a different story, but here it is not necessary.”

“I’m not firing you or Ryan or Sawyer because Seattle is different.  There are people and places associated with me that need to be kept secure, but I don’t need that kind of protection.  You and Welch have vetted the security personnel at Grey House Townsville and you’re more than welcome to have a surprise inspection of their functioning.  As far as I’m concerned, if you’re willing to take on the responsibility, you’re the Head of all GEH Security, but I can’t stress to you enough, I…do…not…need…protection.”  There, was that calm enough?  I think it was.

Yepper boy, you done good.

It now is Taylor’s turn to be speechless.  I want to laugh and take a picture of him.  The definition of stoicism has been blown out of the water.  I have to smile.

Once he collects his thoughts he says, “Well, sir, I appreciate the responsibility and of course I am up to the task.  I will go over to the new office tomorrow and take a look around to make sure things are up to GEH Standards.  I recommend Barney do the same for the IT Department.”

I nod my head.  “I can’t agree with you enough Taylor.  I’ll leave all of that for you and Barney to arrange.  All I ask is that you keep me up to date.”

“Mr. Grey?  Christian?  You are not returning to Seattle are you?”  He actually has a note of sadness in his voice.  I shrug my shoulders.  Taylor nods his head and goes to the kitchen for another lager.

You have to make a decision sooner or later Grey.  You know that right?  What about Anastasia?  Are you going to bring her here?  What about your family, your mom?  It would break her heart.  She likes to see you at least once per week and because of how obstinate YOU are, she gives you a pass with once per month and regular telephone calls.  So…what…?

Why do you want to stay here Grey?  What’s so special about this place, besides the obvious?

What do you mean, “the obvious”?

Not what you think, unless that’s the reason.  “The obvious” being the sand, the sun, the beauty of the seas almost everywhere you look and the newness of it all, that’s what I mean?  Why, what do YOU mean?

Ring…Ring…Ring…

“ANASTASIA?”

“Why no Pet.  I thought you were finished with…her.”  I groan at the sound of her voice.  If I thought being cussed out by my father on a continual basis was bad, this is like chewing hot glass.  Taylor gives me a questioning look and raises an eyebrow when he hears me groan.

I mouth ‘Bitch Troll’ and both of his eyebrows fly up.  He nods and puts up two fingers in a peace sign and mouths ‘two minutes’.  I nod and go back to the ‘call’.

“…wonderful to see you have found a new one.  She is quite pretty.  You really do have a standard type don’t you?”  Cackling bitch.  “I could not see her body, but I would assume since she turned your head that her figure is divine.  Is she into the scene?  What is her name?  Would you like me to do some checking into her…”I watch Taylor throughout Elena’s monologue.

All GEH BlackBerrys, including mine, are equipped with mSpy.  While Taylor is the only one with security clearance to monitor my calls he rarely does so.  I won’t say he has never monitored my calls because there have been a few instances where I asked him to listen to and record my conversation.  This is one of those times.

I do not bother to answer any of her questions I simply ask my own.  “What do you want Mrs. Lincoln?  I told you verbally and by text message to leave me alone.  I gifted you the salon chain for the sole purpose of severing all ties with you, so what the fuck do you want?”

The line goes quiet for a few seconds then I hear the venom in her voice as she hisses, “How dare you speak to me that way.  I taught you everything you needed to know in order to succeed.  I made you the man you are today.  If it were not for me you…”

SHUT THIS BITCH DOWN AGAIN GREY…PRONTO!!!

“ELENA ENOUGH!” I shout so loud the windows in the living room vibrate.  “Once and for all, the ONLY thing you did was fuck me, beat me and convince me it was exactly what I needed if I was going to succeed in life.  You did not GIVE me the brains to make not one fucking business decision.  Do you know the legal structure of an acquisition?  What is a Triangular Merger?  What are the five most common ways to value a business?  What are the fundamental differences between a merger and an acquisition?”  Nothing but silence fills the telephone line.

“That is what the fuck I thought!  When you understand the principles of business and/or M&A THEN you can talk to me about what you gave, taught and made me.  I returned the seed money you stole from your now ex-husband and as I stated earlier I GIFTED to you not SOLD to you OR out from under you, as I should have, the salon chain.  Now, what the fuck do you want?”  I am panting for breath at this point.  I know for a fact my face is fire engine red.  My hands are trembling and I feel a sharp pain in both of my temples.

Calm down Grey.  Blowing a blood vessel isn’t going to accomplish anything.  Be very careful what you say to the old cow.  We both know we need open lines of communication with this bitch to figure out what the fuck she did to Steele’s phone and laptop.  Please always remember and do not ever forget, “keep your friends close and THIS ABOMINABLE enemy closer.”

I disagree wholeheartedly with your thinking and I really don’t give a fuck.  However, I do know that ‘You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength’ is definitely needed here.

I take a couple of deep breaths then continue, “Mrs. Lincoln, I ask again.  Is there an express purpose for your call?”  I’ve relaxed the tension in my shoulders and calmed my voice without going all the way to dad’s “deadly whisper”, but the throbbing in my head is still present.

“Pet,” every fucking time she calls me that my skin crawls, “I am only concerned for your wellbeing.  I have not heard from you since before you left the United States and even then you were so harsh towards me it was very disconcerting.  I can only attribute such attitude and behavior to your being overwhelmed with that Anastasia person.  Otherwise, you would never have treated me that way.”

Wanna bet bitch.  HA!

“I was hoping your travels would calm you and give you a better perspective on where your loyalties lie.”  I have GOT to get off of this phone.

“Mrs. Lincoln, I have a meeting to attend” and with that, I end the call.

I fall into the chair behind me, drop my head back and close my eyes.  I can honestly say, for the first time in my life I feel utterly defeated.  I am never going to get rid of that woman am I?

Yes, WE’LL get rid of that battle-ax.  It may not happen as quickly as we’d like, but it WILL happen.

How?  When?  How fucking much longer?  She’s worse than…than…actually, I cannot think of anything worse than her.  God, please get that ewe out of my life, for good.  I do not care how you do it, just please do it please.  I’m begging you.

God doesn’t work that way and you know it.  Reason, season, lifetime.  She came into your life for a reason during the wrong season.  She won’t last for a lifetime.  Believe me.  She will not last.  Now, come on.  We have a fundraising committee meeting to attend or have you forgotten?

Oh fuck me.  That’s tonight isn’t it?  “FUCK!”

Oopsey…hee, hee, hee.  Someone forgot he wasn’t alone.

“Fucker.”  I look over at a confused Taylor and say, “Sorry.  I forgot I wasn’t alone.  I have a fundraising committee meeting to attend this evening so I’ll be gone for a couple of hours.  Taylor, you and Mrs. Jones make yourselves at home and I’ll see you both later.”

Since when did Taylor start rolling his eyes, let alone rolling them at me?  “Is there a problem Mr. Taylor?”

“Yes sir there is.  Security or the lack thereof.”  Oh my God does this man ever quit?  And they say I’m hardheaded.

“Taylor, N…O…means…say it with me…”

“No”, we say in unison.

“Good boy.  Now, I’ll see you later and if you have me followed I’ll dock your pay.”

Ha, ha…that one got him.

I smile and head to the car.


“Hello Love, the meeting is this way.”  I follow Ella to the meeting room.  The Brown Family is spearheading an event designed to raise funds for Townsville Communities for Children.  It’s along the same lines as my mom’s organization, Coping Together.  I’m not necessarily interested in participating in the planning but I have no problem attending the event and no problem with making a donation.

I tried to get out of going to the steering committee meeting by telling Ella I had work to do, but she was quite insistent.  Seems her grandfather and grandmother began working with the group in 2005, now it is a family legacy.

What does her family legacy have to do with us?

Just play the fuck along.  It’s this or listen to Taylor ramble on about ‘security or the lack thereof’.  Which do you prefer?

Well, when you put it like that…

Exactly.  Now shut up and listen.

“…Children are the life blood of the world, Love.  Yes we all need help, even adults, but children are the most vulnerable and most easily neglected members of us all.  If you don’t reach out and help a child in time, it becomes much harder to help them as an adult.”

She’s got a point there.

Although Ella made the concept sound as basic as ‘one plus one’, it struck a chord for me.  Elena reached me when I was a vulnerable child.  She took advantage of my weaknesses and ensnared me physically and mentally, so much so it has been almost impossible for anyone to get close to me now that I’m an adult.

Needless to say, here I am.  Ella’s brothers, Eran and Emerson are the chairman and co-chairman for this year’s event.  Their theme is a beach party, plain and simple.  Being the newcomer to the area I’m not going to try and tell anyone what to do.

You don’t really do fundraising anyway, right?  Your specialty is check writing.

It raises the funds doesn’t it?

Well…

I thought so, now shut the fuck up and listen, you may learn something asshole.

Takes one Grey.

That’s gotten really old, ya know. You need a new comeback.

No, you need to respond to the question…ha, ha, ha…so much for your ability to multitask.

Sure enough, everyone at the table is looking at me expectantly, “Pardon me, what was the question?”  I’m snapped out of my trance and can’t hide my embarrassment.

Ella smiles, “Mr. Grey,” Love she mouths, “are you in favor of a beach party for this year’s fundraising event?

Yea, nay or do you abstain?”  Then she winks, I thought at me, but the man beside me elbows me in the ribs and winks as well.

“Yea.”  I have a questioning sound in my voice, but I gather that’s what she wanted me to say.

Eran says, “Good, this year’s event will be a beach party.  Thank you all for coming to this meeting and please feel free to volunteer for any or ALL of the committees on the list that is being passed around.”  Again the man to my left elbows me, but this time Ella shakes her head at him then he gets up and walks away.

That fucker was asking for an ass whipping, you know?

I concur.

Time to get the fuck out of here Grey, before we get ambushed into something.

I am on my way out the door when Ella calls from across the room, “Mr. GREY!  Not so fast.”  Shit.  I stop dead in my tracks and turn around slowly.

When I turn I’m faced with the four Brown heirs.  Ella steps forward as her brothers stand behind her, ramrod straight, shoulder-to-shoulder with their hands clasped behind their backs.  They have a ‘we dare you to fuck with her’ look on their faces.  I’m amused, as well as impressed.

Mia would be in Heaven if she could get you and Elliott to heel like that…hee, hee, hee.

“Yes Miss Brown.  How may I help you?”  I say with a smile.

She turns to her brothers and tells them, “Back off fellas.  He’s a friend not a foe.”  The men relax their shoulders and now cross their hands in front of themselves.  Ella’s not impressed at that stance so she shouts, “Dammit BOYS I told you to stand down.  Do I have to show my ENTIRE ass to make you understand?”

I am shocked by her reaction to them but they’re not.  “Sorry Ellie.”  One of the men says with a sad puppy dog look on his face.  The other two men nod then bow their heads.  I cover my smile with my hand before I end up in trouble too.

“No, I was going to introduce you to my brothers, however, this bunch of assholes” she motions behind her, “don’t even resemble them so let me thank you for attending our meeting and hope you participate in the execution of our event as well.”  Then she turns and sticks her tongue out at the three men before turning back to me to say, “Come on Love, let them stand there and stare.”  Ella takes my hand and leads me out the door.

I take a quick look behind us to see three men arguing with each other, throwing their hands in the air and shaking their heads in exhaustion.

Oh this is too much.

As I walk Lil Miss Dynamite to her car I hear her mumbling, “…fucking assholes…all those bitches they’ve brought home…actually was a whore…gold-diggers…I can’t have a friend…bastards.”

WHOA she is pissed to the gills dude.  Watch out.

“Ella, are you ok?”  That was all I said, but apparently that was all it took.

“Those fucking asses have brought all sorts of bitches into OUR lives over the years.  From a whore, and I mean walk the street and fuck for pay whore, to three different gold-diggers who had their pregnant roommates take the pregnancy tests for them and brought those witches’ sonograms to our home for my GRANDFATHER to see then there are the various, random, plain old, everyday mean bitches.  I’ve had to politely meet them all and give them the benefit of the doubt until they proved themselves otherwise, which they ALWAYS fucking have.”  She puffing and panting at this point.

“All I wanted to do was introduce them to a friend and they act as though they’re guarding the Prime Minister.  HOW FUCKING DARE THEY!  Not once have I brought home some straggling fucker and tried to say he was a romantic interest.  This time I didn’t even bring you home.  HOW FUCKING DARE THEY!”  Once she is winded she leans against her car.

“I never had any friends in high school or even in college.  Is this how friends usually behave?”  I am being half serious and have humorous.

Ella looks up at me with soften eyes and says, “When a friend introduces you to people who don’t know you and have no reason to dislike you it is.”

I return her smile, take her hand and say “Thank you.”


Knock…Knock…that can only be Taylor.

“Come in Taylor.”  I don’t look up from my work.  “Mr. Grey, I completed my inspection of the facility.  I found a few weaknesses in the Reception and cafeteria areas, but nothing major.  Welch and I will have the personnel updated and resolve the issue before end of business tomorrow.”

That got my attention.  I raise my head and ask, “Anything specific I should know Taylor?”  What the fuck kind of trouble can there be in the cafeteria?

“The former receptionist signed for a few deliveries without checking the carriers identification and basically the same situation in the cafeteria.  The department manager accepted a provision without checking the courier’s credentials.  I will be meeting with all security personnel later today to review GEH Security Protocol, Policies and Procedures.  Tomorrow I would like to meet with the department heads for the same review.  That is why I am here.”

He loves this shit.  It’s GEH’s beginning all over again.  He feels it too I know he does.  He gets to put his foot in security detail’s asses and to torment department heads all day.  It’s a wet dream for Taylor.  I look him straight in the eyes and do not blink when I ask, “Feels good don’t it?”  He gives me a small smirk and a quick nod of his head.

“Any word from Welch?” He gives a small shake of his head and leaves.  I sigh.  This is fucking ridiculous.  A computer virus I can see, even something that will mess up emails I can just about believe that, but a cellphone?  A BlackBerry?  Really?  What the fuck?

I run my hand through my hair and stop…I haven’t done that since I’ve been here.  Seattle is no good for me.  I was so relaxed I didn’t even realize it.  Taylor and security, the Bitch Troll period and the prospect of something affecting my relationship with Ana, this shit is too much.  I shake my head and go back to my spreadsheets.

Buzz…Buzz…I catch my BlackBerry before it gets to the third ring.  “Grey!”

Short and loud as usual huh?

“CHRISTIAN!”  Oh my God.

“ANA!?  Baby is it really you?  Where are you Baby?  Taylor told me everything.  Did you get my message?  I miss you so much.”  I know she can hear the smile and relief in my voice as I fire off questions to her.

“I miss you too Christian.”  She sounds so sad it makes my heart hurt.

After a long pause she asks, “Who is the woman Christian?  Is she your submissive?”  I gasp.

What the fuck?

I can’t help but get angry.  “Do you think that little of me Anastasia?  Is it impossible for me to go without sex or a submissive?  Is that what you are worried about, whether or not I got some ass since we have been apart?  Well no.  She is not my submissive and as hard as it may be for you to believe, I have not had any since the last time we were together.  Can YOU say the same?”  Where the fuck does she get off?

I haven’t talked with her in weeks and the only thing she has to say is ‘I miss you’ and ‘who are you fucking’?  I am at an absolute loss.  It’s not like I haven’t had AMPLE opportunity to get a decent fuck and there are BDSM clubs all over the world.  For some reason it seems to be the craze.

“What do you expect me to think Christian?”  With that bitchy tone, I don’t give a fuck what she thinks or how she feels right this second.

“Miss Steele, was there a reason for your call other than to accuse me of being a man-whore?  For God sake Anastasia, I was monogamous with my subs, which I had no emotional connection to at all.  How the fuck could I cheat on you?  Why would you think I’d ever cheat on you?”  I hear her gasp.

I think she knows she fucked up…again.

I have to remember ‘You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength’.  One of these days I hope to meet Mr. Brown.  I take a deep cleansing breath then ask, “Ana, are you going to come see me?  Do you want to see me?”

“I apologize Christian.  I do not for one second think you are a man-whore.  You have never given me reason to think that way, I was just jealous.  Yes, I want to see you Christian.”  I think I can hear tears in her voice.  Oh please Baby, do not cry.

“I can have the jet ready by late tomorrow afternoon.  Tell Roach…” She stops me in my tracks.

“Oh no Christian.  I have to wait until Friday after work.”  She says it just like I asked her to go to the movies on a weekday and she needs to wait until the weekend.

“Alright Ana,” I sigh, “I’ll let Stephen know.  He needs to prepare the jet and himself for the flight.”  It is not as easy as she might think.  Stephen is a professional, but he has his limits too and I have to respect them.  “I cannot wait to see you.”  I feel at ease again.

“Neither can I.  Bye Christian.”

“Laters baby.”


“Gail, as usual that was the best meal I’ve ever had.”  It’s fucking great to come home to more than cold cereal and a take out menu.

You really need to learn how to cook something.  While Gail is here ask her for some lessons:  you know, how to boil water or make toast.

OOO! If you get REAL good, she can show you how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.  That’d be yummy, huh Grey?

If it would shut you up, I would let you starve.

Bullshit, you’d feel bad.  Get it?

“Thank you Mr. Grey.  I didn’t make dessert but if you like there’s ice cream in the freezer.”

REALLY?

“When did we get ice cream Gail?”  I don’t remember buying any.

“Oh, I picked it up when I went shopping.  It is nothing special, just plain old vanilla, but I can dress it up if you like.”

OH HELL NO!  I LOVE YOU GAIL!

I smile and shake my head.  “No Gail, not tonight.  Thank you though.”

Never thought you would say no to vanilla again did you Grey?  WOO HOO!  This is too much.

Are you finished?  We have that damn committee meeting and to get to the bottom of this fucking phone thing.

Ahem…cough…yeah I am ready now.

I turn to him at the dining room table and ask, “Ok Taylor, what do you and Welch know about this phone mess?  And for the record, this shit better be good because I still can’t believe it.”  If Taylor and Gail hadn’t showed up when they did…I can’t imagine where Ana and I’d be now.

Well, it’s not like you forgot about her.  She colors every little step you take.  The only reason you’ve been able to keep your shit to yourself is because Steele isn’t here.  It has only ever been her, you know?

Yes I know that, but does she?  I understand her being jealous, like I said I get the same way when it comes to her.  I’m not so stupid not to admit that, but her coming all this way after all this time simply because she thinks I’ve been unfaithful…really?  That’s not like Ana at all.

No, because you are destined to repeat all of this shit again at some point.  However, you’re more are important to her dude.  If she did not want you at all, she would’ve chalked it up to a loss and moved on in Seattle.

She is a kid in the most literal sense.  Your little bookworm, remember?  Her inhibitions are in control now.  Her same ‘ole same ‘ole comfort zone is in control now.  She has to see the writing on the wall and make her own decision, not listen to the decisions of those around her.  Those who see you in the suit with the shitty “motherfucker I’ll bite you” look on your pretty little face…hee, hee, hee.

As shitty as you can be, you can grow up and you can change.  She’s missing out on your change.  The change she initiated.  When she gets here, start over.  And if she pitches a bitch about something, find out why there’s a problem.  She’s away from everything here.  There are no outside influences.  She has to see you and nothing else, just like it should be.

You two aren’t going to agree on everything and that’s wonderful.  You should be friends as well as lovers and a true friend tells you like it is and pulls your ass back when you’ve gone too far.  When you can’t see the forest for the trees your friend tells you to open your eyes and look the fuck out.  She needs to do that with a few aspects of her life.  Just like you have to do it with yours and pay attention when she points out how much of a prick you’re being.  While you are one hell of a motherfucker, you aren’t perfect dude.

“…ahem, Mr. Grey?  Are you with us?”

“Huh?  I apologize Taylor.  No, I didn’t hear a word you said.  I drifted off.  I’ve been doing that a lot since I got here.”

Taylor smiles at me and says, “as long as it doesn’t affect business, then it’s not a bad thing.  Back to the matter at hand, Barney traced the virus to a plain old computer hacker…”

“O…k…”

“…there are tips and videos online that give detailed instructions on how to hack into even a secure Wired Equivalent Privacy network.  When Barney asked for Miss Steele’s computer to be set up the vendor used a Wi-Fi Protected Access II, which although it is highly secure it is not infallible.”  My head is spinning.  He sounds just like Barney.  Taylor is speaking slower than Barney does, but I’m still lost.

“So the basics are there was a breach in the Wi-Fi network for her computer and the virus was planted, is that what you are getting at?”

“Yes sir.”

“But we’re still at ground zero.  Who the fuck would bother?  Even if it was Elena, who the fuck did she find to do all of this shit for her?  This is fucking ridiculous and I have a meeting to attend.  I’ll be back.  If you’re still awake, I need to know who did this.  That’s all I care about right this second.  Who fucking broke into her computer?  Who texted her the ‘tainted’ pictures?  Who!”  I can see how easy it is to get her cellphone number and text her, that I get.  A computer virus, I get that too, but BOTH of them and with such attention to detail.  Come the fuck on.  Elena ain’t THAT smart.”

No, but there’s no telling what one, or more, of her submissive’s can do.

True.


The days events must all show on my face when I walk into the conference room because Ella looks and me and frowns.  She gets the same little “v” between her eyebrows when she frowns.  She does not get a chance to speak with me before Eran calls the meeting to order.

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen.  I call this meeting to order.  Our purpose of gathering tonight is to verify the commitments you have each made toward our event and find out the status of your progress.  So, without further ado we will hear from the Media and Communications Committee.  Since Emerson is one of the Steering Committee Chairmen he kindly handed that task off to Ella.  Ella, tell us about your progress.”

And so the night precedes, Audio/Visual, Budget/Finance, Communications, Decorations, Logistics…”Ahem, Mr. Grey?  You were in charge of Security were you not?”

What the fuck now?  Oh yeah, this committee shit.  “Yes, yes that is correct.  My Head of Security vetted one hundred perspective candidates.  He and his second are in the process of narrowing that down to seventy-five personnel.  Will that be enough?”  They have a pretty large stretch of beach open for this thing and are expecting a grand turnout so I wonder if they’ll actually need more.  I told Taylor to vet five hundred just in case.

“Actually, if you could extend your search and actually hire a full one hundred guards we would appreciate it.  Although this event is an advance pay event, we want to be prepared for possible uninvited guests as well.”  I nod and send Taylor and Welch both a text advising what Mr. Brown requested.

He raises an eyebrow at me so I tell him, “I am conveying your message.”

“Why, thank you.”  Fucker.  I did not volunteer for this shit I got drafted.  I will write a fucking check and call it a day.  I see Ella shaking her head at me from across the table.  I sigh and nod at her brother.

Prick.

He continues on with the various committee chairmen then, thankfully, this shit is over.  “Thank you for all of your effort.  We should be ready for final updates next week.  Meeting adjourned.”  Can I retreat now?

“Grey!”

Groan.  Not again.  They left us alone for the last few meetings. What the fuck do they want now?

“Hello Mr. Grey.  I am Eran Brown and this is my brother Emerson.  We wanted to properly introduce ourselves.  It seems you have become rather close to our little sister and we felt as though we should engage you in a direct conversation.”

“Yes Mr. Grey.  If you have a few moments we would like to speak with you.”  Emerson looks like he wants to crack his knuckles as he narrows his eyes at me.

“Sure thing fellas.  Let’s ‘talk’.”  I haven’t had a good ‘ole fashioned street fight in a few years, but it’s like riding a bike, you know.  These two are tall, but not quite as tall as me.  Neither guy looks like he works out and if so, they need to work harder.  You can see the family resemblance.  They each have the curly dark auburn hair, crystal blue almond-shaped eyes and a square jaw line.

“So Grey”, I guess Eran is the voice here, “you have been spending quite a bit of time with our sister.  What exactly is going on?”  The snarl on his face is unmistakable.  They remind me of Elliott and myself when it comes to Mia.

Before I can answer, Emerson chimes in, “FYI Grey, we know about you.  Anastasia Steele, isn’t that your fiancée’s name?  Where is she?  You’ve been here a long time.  Why hasn’t anyone seen her?”

Then it is back to Eran, “We did some checking into you Grey and we didn’t like what we saw.  You’re bad news and we don’t want our sister involved with the likes of you.”

Now Emerson, “So what is it Grey?  Why are you nosing around our sister?”  What the fuck, is this a tennis match?

There is a millisecond pause in the ping-pong interrogation, I open my mouth to respond when I hear from somewhere behind me…”DO…NOT…SAY…ONE…WORD!”  She didn’t yell.  It wasn’t necessary.  Although she enunciated each word almost too quietly, her intended audience heard her clearly.

“Oh shit.”  The two of them moan simultaneously.

Well fuck me upside-down. She has them by the short hairs…again.  I love this chick.

Slowly, painfully so, for her brothers, Ella strides over to where we’re standing.  You can hear the calculated clicks of her Manolo Blahnik’s on concrete the floor.  I manage not to smile, but the inside of my cheek is killing me from how hard I have to bite down on it.

Stitches may very well be in order after this plays out, but it’s so fucking worth it to see this woman in action.

She stands between us all, coming no higher than the middle of my chest.  Then she hisses, “I told you once, stay out of my affairs.  This man is my friend.  Just because you two don’t know how to keep your peckers in your pants doesn’t mean I don’t know how to keep my legs and mouth closed”

“He has been a friend to me and that…is…all.”  She growls.  “If I see or hear of this type of behavior again from either of you, I will show up on YOUR doorstep Ere, or in the hall of YOUR apartment building Em in my ninja gear and you know what’ll happen.”

The two fuckers eyebrows jump up to their foreheads and beads of sweat start to form.

OH MY FUCKING GOD!  She’s the fucking TRUTH!  Grey, stay away from her, do you understand me?  Don’t piss this broad off AT ALL!

YES SIR!

“And tell Ev exactly what the fuck I said so there’s no mistake.  If you paraphrase or half-ass on my statement, you’ll regret it.”  Then she turns to me, smiles and winks before saying, “Have a good evening Love”, as she prances away like nothing ever happened.

It goes without saying that the Brown brothers are speechless.  They each nod at me then quickly walk away.

As I let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding I hear snickers coming from the doorway beside me.  One of the older ladies on the committee shakes her head and advises me “You really don’t want to cross Ella.  She is a wonderful girl and a beautiful young lady, but she takes no shit from anyone especially her brothers.  She’s as harmless as a lamb until you push the wrong button…then lookout.”  She raises an eyebrow at the last two words.

We walk out of the building and the woman, I can’t recall her name, continues “After Ella’s mother passed away, her brothers became quite protective of her, to the point where they didn’t want her to go to college.”

“Ella got permission from her grandfather to break family tradition and go to Hawaii Pacific rather than Melbourne just to be away from her brothers.  Since no one goes against the patriarch of the Brown family, Ella went to school in the United States and the rest is history.”  I thank my fellow committee member for the information and proceed, carefully, to my car, which is exactly where Ella is standing.

“Hello Love.  I do apologize for my brazen display of ignorance.  Those goons can bring out the worst in me sometimes.  I don’t follow my own advice when it comes to them.”

Split personality?  This is what Steele keeps telling you about.  We need to keep an eye on her.

“No apologies necessary, just don’t do that shit to me and we will be fine.”  She crosses her heart.

“I have two questions.”  I’m almost too afraid of the answers.

“Sure, what are they Love?”  She flips her hand as if whatever I have to say is of no consequence to her.

“What is your ninja gear and what WILL happen?”  She holds her forehead for a minute then turns fire engine red before clearing her throat.

“Well, my ninja gear is a black hoodie, black yoga pants and black sneakers; Chucks usually.  My weapon of choice is a black aluminum bat, Louisville Slugger works well.”  She looks me straight in the eye as if she’s daring me to say something.

When I just stand there, she continues.  “As part of my research and dissertation in Hawaii, I was given the opportunity to travel by submarine to various locations and collect algae, sea water and even marine life samples.  Deep sea diving is something to behold.”

“Anyway, one of the professors was a retired mariner who spent time on submarines.  He reminded me of my grandfather.  As I worked, he told me about “submarine safety” so to speak.  He was aware of instances where angry sailors would wait in a doorway for a shipmate to walk thorough and sucker punch them.  If the vessel was on the surface, they would simply fling the body overboard at night, into the pitch black sea.”  A shiver runs, quickly, down my spine.

YEP!  It’s official. DON’T FUCK WITH THIS BITCH!  Neither Lincoln nor Kavanaugh would stand a chance.

“When I got home, Emerson stuck his nose in my business.  One night, he was walking through the hall of the family home and I was waiting in a doorway.  When he came through I kicked him in his knee.  Once he was down I punched him as hard as I could in the face, jaw, nose, eyes it didn’t matter as long as it was his head.  Hurt the hell out of my hands.  Whenever my brothers start to crowd me, I remind them what I’m capable of and they back off.”

“I’ve had to polish my MMA technique and I use a bat instead of my hands when I am really pissed off.  An aluminum bat is a touch easier to clean and does not leave splinters like a wooden bat will.  I can hold my own against them and others when need be.”  She gives a strong nod of her head for emphasis.

“Well Miss Brown, it’s good to know you are on my side.”  Let’s keep it that way.

“Let’s keep it that way Love.  Would you care for coffee, it’s still early.”  We got out of that meeting sooner than we thought we would.

“Sure, the usual place?”  I ask.

“Yep.  See you in a bit?” Then with a little wink and a wave, she is gone.


We meet at the coffeehouse where it all started.  Hard to believe I thought she was meek and timid just because of her stature.  This woman is larger than life and she’s helped me sort through my thoughts and feelings about work, family and my personal life.  She may be a Marine Biologist, but she has Flynn beat by a mile.

“Here you go Love.  Now, when is Anastasia going to be here?”  I choke on my coffee.

“What makes you think she’s coming here?  I mean she is.  She will leave the US on Friday evening.  How did you know she was coming here?”

“The last time we spoke, you told me how much you love and miss her.  You told me you felt a hole in your heart and you didn’t know what to do to fill it.  You looked so sad Love.  What did I tell you?  What do I always tell you when is comes to your ‘one true’?”

“If am hers she will find me…”  She nods encouragingly.

“And…”  She probes; motioning for me to continue.

“If she is mine I will let her.”  It’s almost like I am afraid to think of this phrase.  I must ask her where she found it.

“Did you call her or vice versa?”

“She called me, but she had been trying to reach me for some time and wasn’t able to get through.  Apparently there was some ‘interference’.”  I say with gritted teeth, thinking about the Bitch Troll and her latest stunt.

“That would be the Bitch Troll you were mumbling about earlier this evening correct?”  She speaks before sipping her coffee.

“I never said that!”  Did I?  I was a little out of it during the meeting, but I didn’t say anything to anyone, did I?

“Good grief Charlie Brown.  I read your lips.  You were cursing a mile a minute.  You need to either cover your mouth or let that kind of shit go until you are in a more private setting Love.”  I’m not accustomed to people watching me.  I’m usually the one who does the observing.  It’s starting to get creepy.

“Christian?  I haven’t been entirely honest with you.  I want to apologize in advance, but we have come to a juncture where I feel like I can help you.  In order to do that, I have to level with you first.  Ok Love?”

“O…k…” Now I am scared.  What the fuck does she know?

“Relax Love.  I know about your beginnings, adoption, adolescent and adult academics, the history of GEH and…about…Elena Lincoln.”  My eyes are the size of saucers.  How the fuck did she find that out?  Who has she told?  What’s she trying to do, blackmail me?  I thought we were friends, I thought I could trust her.  DAMMIT I’m a STUPID fucker for trusting ANYONE, especially a woman named ‘Ella’, all of this flies through my mind at the speed of light.  It takes me a moment to hear Ella again.

“Relax Love.  I may be young, but I’m not dumb.  I’ve lived some and I’ve learned a lot during my brief stay on this Earth.  I can’t be prejudice against anyone who’s done nothing wrong.  I also know the Cinderella story of you and Anastasia.  It’s so fucking adorable I can’t believe it.”  She giggles and there is a twinkle in her eyes.  But I’m not at ease with this conversation yet.

“How?”  I whisper.  I’m in utter disbelief.  I thought I was so fucking careful.  Here this little slip of a girl has found out my work, educational and personal…VERY personal information like it was no problem.

Who does HER research?

“…Breathe Love, breathe.  I told you the first day we spoke you were the talk of the town.  You were, still are matter of fact.  We Brown’s have a lot of pull in Australia and around the world.  Finding out about a new neighbor is very easy.  Once I had your name, I Googled you to get your photo and general information.  My grandfather’s private investigation team took it from there.  Since it was my explicit request, the documents were sealed and went directly from the investigators to me.  There were no duplicates.”  I am glad she’s taken measures to keep the information she found under wraps, but I still don’t like the fact she could get it in the first place.

“I have a photographic memory.  I simply read everything twice then burned the original documents.  My grandfather’s only stipulation when I make these requests” the question is clear on my face, “yes, I’ve done this before, is that any incriminating information be turned over to him immediately.”

“Based on the information I had about you I was able to approach our conversations accordingly.  In short, you’ve been ‘shrinked’ Mr. Grey.  Like I said, I apologize for not being upfront with you.  I hope my invasion of your privacy doesn’t affect our friendship.”  She bows her head and pulls on the edges of her dark grey pencil skirt.  I’m still speechless.  She did what you told me not to do.

I guess now you know how it feels.

I guess so.

“Wow Ella.  I mean…did I scare you that much or…”

Her head jerks up immediately.  “No” she shakes her head vigorously, “not at all Love, quite the contrary.  You’re an intriguing individual.  Like I said that first day.  I could see the pain in your eyes.  I’ve seen that pain when my father remembers my mother and when my grandfather remembers my grandmother.”  They’re the two most important men in her life.  Now she looks sad.  I take her hand and give it a reassuring squeeze.  I like hearing about her family.  I mean I genuinely care.  It’s not about getting the 411 on the Browns.  I almost feel like they’re my family too.

“My brothers either don’t see, don’t understand or don’t care, but I do.  My grandfather and father mean the world to me.  I can feel their pain and I always want to help them through it.  I saw that in you and I felt the same way.”  She looks up at me straining not to let her tears fall.

“I can still see your troubled soul Love.  I can still feel your broken heart.  The difference is your one true is still alive.  You still have time to be with her.  I hope our time together has given you some things to think about, some tools to help you grow and I hope a friend you know you can turn to.  You said you didn’t have any friends in high school or college, well I believe we have made up for that.  At least I hope so.”  She pats my hand as I stare at her in awe.

This little girl has done nothing but be kind to me.  Taken my mind off my troubles by talking to me about the weather, songs on the radio, her father and her grandfather.  She has passed on the knowledge and lessons learned in her life to me like no one ever has.  She asks my opinion and debates her point of view.  Sometimes, even when she’s wrong, she plays devil’s advocate and won’t let an issue go.  No money exchanged.  No price tag involved.  No romantic interlude inferred.

“You are a fantastic woman Ella Brown.  You’re going to make some man very happy one day.”  She smiles and bows her head again.

I put my index finger under her chin and raise her crystal blue eyes to meet my grey ones, “Remember, you have a fourth brother to protect you.”  She nods and smiles.

“Well, on with my news.”  Huh, there is more?

Mood swing alert!

I must have the ever-present quizzical look on my face because she says, “Yes there is more.  The ‘interference’, do you know someone named Isaac?”  She doesn’t give a last name so I shake my head a few times then…

The light bulb comes on.  “Elena’s submissive?”  The bastard.  I knew his nose was wide open for that bitch.

“Yes.  Apparently he is rather proficient with a computer.  He’s the hacker you’re looking for.”  She says matter-of-factly as she resumes sipping her now almost cold coffee.

“How the hell did you kno…” She cuts me off.

“Love, I am a Brown.  We know lots of things.  I told you we were a sneaky bunch.”  She looks like a small child with a big secret.  A secret I need to hear.

“Come.”  I hold out my hand to her.

She hesitantly looks at me asking “Whereto?”

“My place.  Taylor needs to hear this first hand.”  She mouths ‘oh’ then takes my hand and we go out to the cars.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 9 Temper Tantrum

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

Chapter 9 | Temper Tantrum

GREY

“Hello sir.  You have no security in this residence whatsoever.  It was not difficult to cross the threshold without notice.  Welch and I are in the process of remedying that situation.  Mrs. Jones is shopping as we speak.  She said water, wine, milk and Fruit Loops were not a balance diet and no way for a college student, let alone a grown man, to live.  I told her you most likely dined out.  She is very, and I do mean very, upset with you.  After reminding her how things were when she joined us at Escala she seemed slightly mollified.”  This must be “Shock the Shit Out of Me-ville” because once again I’m standing around with no fucking clue about what’s going on in front of me.

“Mr. Grey, may I speak freely?”  All I can do is nod my head, although I do manage to close my fucking mouth this time.  “There are a great many people who are concerned about you.”  He actually has a worried look on his face.  I haven’t given anyone reason to be alarmed, have I?

Not as far as I’m concerned, I mean, you contacted all of the staff, they knew their jobs were secure since Escala and Grey House Seattle both needed to be maintained so I don’t see the big deal either.

“Taylor, I’m not following you.  Why is anyone concerned?  All positions were maintained, no one has been put out of a job, except Reynolds and that was for a valid.  Security hasn’t been necessary here.  As for the house, you and Mrs. Jones vetted several qualified applicants.  I just have to make a final decision.”

“While I appreciate your loyalty, I don’t understand your visit and I use the term loosely.  I won’t get pissy this time, but don’t ever break into my house, wherever it is, again.  Do you understand?”  That’s a fucking hard limit dammit.

He nods then goes on to give me the update on all things Seattle.  All of this “catching up” makes me feel like the weight of my world is on my shoulders again, in spades.

When he finally reaches the topic of Anastasia, I have to shut him down.  “PAUSE!  Taylor I appreciate the information, but I left all of this to you and Welch.  As for Miss Steele, she knows my telephone number and she knows the extent of the situation.  There is nothing more for us to discuss about her.”  And that’s final.

However, in true Jason Taylor fashion he keeps going.  I swear he’s like my mother.  “Mr. Grey, permission to speak freely sir?”  Oh shit.

“Taylor, just say whatever it is you have to say.  I have a sneaking suspicion I’m in for an earful no matter what.”  Since I heard Gail come in I yell, “Mrs. Jones, please join us.”  Once she seats herself I lay down the ground rules for this conversation.  “Neither of you have to ask for permission speak freely.  When the talk gets to be too deep for me, the safeword is red.  Get it?”

“Got it.” They say in unison and Gail nods her head for emphasis.

“Good, go on.  Spill.”  I sigh, sit back and resign myself to my fate.

Gail starts off, “Miss Steele came to Escala in tears.  She said she tried to contact you on several occasions, but your phone always went straight to voicemail and then cut her off so that she couldn’t leave a message.  She didn’t know if you were hurt, ill or if you simply were no longer speaking to her.”

“I was nervous because I hadn’t heard from you directly since you left for Taiwan.  I knew at first you weren’t thrilled about having to go overseas.  Jason and I…I mean Mr. Taylor…” we just said this was a heart to heart talk so all formalities are out of the window.

“Gail, if I may call you by your first name”, she nods her head and I continue, “we established this is a ‘Come to Jesus’ meeting so other than what’s common courtesy and respect, formalities aren’t necessary.  Ok?”  She nods in agreement then continues her story.

“When Jason and I got back from our vacation, you were nowhere to be seen.  You called Jason and told him about Reynolds and when your call was done, Jason went ballistic and I began to worry.”  She tries to blink away her tears, but ends up having to dab her eyes to stop them from flowing down her cheeks.  Jason puts a comforting arm around her shoulder and she steadies her breathing enough to go on.

“Your parents, brother and sister called several times before you contacted them.  Afterwards, your father began speaking with Jason on a regular basis.  Ros only had information pertaining to GEH and I have no interest in that”, she is beginning to feel more comfortable with this conversation, she is speaking about her own feelings.

I know you’re not shrinking someone?

Besides business, what other field do I know?  Degree or not, my crazy ass can tell you about psychology and psychiatry for that matter.

Listen up…

“…finally, Ana came to Escala.  She told me about your few chats before you left for Taiwan and since you’ve been overseas.  Jason told me about your move here and…well…I couldn’t stay away any longer.  I understand your separation of personal and professional relationships and I respect that.  Mr. Grey, I’ve been worried about you and how you were dealing with your separation from Miss Steele.  Whether it’s my place or not, I still worry.  All I can do is not tell you.”  See what you did?  You made a grown woman who has absolutely no biological or romantic involvement with you worry like hell.

What is today’s date?  I have to mark this one off on the calendar as “Astound Grey Day”.  What have these people been thinking about?  Fuck.  I went to work.  I always go to work.  I work constantly and no one gives it a second thought, but let me step off US soil and all of a sudden emotions run high.

I’m totally out of my comfort zone.  I look to Jason and mouth the word ‘red’ so that he can take care of Gail.  I let her know she’s welcome to stay or she can finish the interview process for the applicants she approved, the choice is hers.  “Gail, Jason, please don’t be offended.  I didn’t expect either of you to pick up and relocate to parts unknown at a moments notice.  I thought it was best to undertake this endeavor alone.”

“I sent you and Taylor on vacation because you deserve that and so much more for putting up with me and my shit on a continual basis.  My actions may be unconventional, but they come from a good place.”  She nods again then goes to the kitchen.

At this point I decide to ask, “Gail, do you want to stay here?”  Her expression softens but the tears are still flowing down her cheeks.

“Mr. Grey, I have no problem remaining here with you.  However, my home is with Jason, I’m certain you know that.  If Jason is prepared to move to this lovely area then I am as well.  My sister is a big girl.  She’ll be fine without me tagging along on the weekends”, with that she gives me a little wink and turns to work on dinner.

“Taylor, we can continue this discussion here or in my study, which ever you choose.  However, I’ve been in these running shorts and t-shirt so long they are dry and I need to take a shower.”  I’m not really prepared for all of this talking.  I wanted to sit around and eat my leftovers before delving into the facts and figures Ros faxed over to me earlier today.

Jason laughs at me and says, “Actually I would like a tour or to wander around a bit.  Go take your shower and we can pick up where we left off after we eat. “

“Ok Taylor, make yourself at home.  I suggest you take your belongings to the third floor.  It’s a replica of your living area at Escala.  If not, there are guest rooms on the second floor that are available to you.  The elevator is on the left of the foyer.  My room is here on the first floor.”  He nods and we part ways.


I turn on the shower to as hot as I can stand it and let the steam fill the room.  As the water falls over me I think about Ana.  She’s been trying to contact me?  Why haven’t I received her calls?  I haven’t missed calls from Ros or Andrea or the staff at the new office.  I don’t remember seeing any missed calls on my phone and the few texts I have were from Ros.  I don’t really talk with anyone else.  Why didn’t Ana send me an email?  My address hasn’t changed.  This is strange.

Once I’m out of the shower, dried off and dressed I head out toward the kitchen.  Mrs. Jones stops in her tracks, blinks a few times and stares at me with her mouth wide open then turns to look at Jason who seems equally taken aback.

“What?  What did I miss?”  I don’t understand the looks I am getting.

“Well…um…Mr. Grey, it is just…I am used to seeing you in your white linen shirt and black jeans.  This is a change for you.”  Am I correct?  Is she blushing?

I’ve dressed like this since I arrived in Townsville.  The new setting seemed to warrant a lot of changes for me.  My attire was one of those things.  I no longer don my linen shirt and jeans.  Various color athletic fit t-shirts or a wife-beater with plan blue jeans, for out in public, or my bare chest and shorts for around the house.  Since I have house guests, I thought the bare chest and shorts weren’t appropriate.

House guests huh?  These good people have walked in on you fucking a woman’s mouth in the kitchen, heard women counting out lashes and calling you ‘Sir’ and ‘Master’, if you saw fit.  Mrs. Jones in particular has cleaned come stains from various inanimate objects throughout Escala and NOW you get bashful.  REALLY GREY?  Get fucking real.

No one asked you so fuck off.

Fucking off ‘Sir’…hee, hee,hee

“Just a small change Gail, nothing to worry about.  I’m still the same overbearing, pompous, jackass I’ve always been, but I’m trying to get a grip on that too.”  I shrug my shoulders.  Taylor, thankfully, clears his throat then actually glares at Gail.  Apparently she likes what she sees.  Now it is my turn to hide a smile.

“Oh yes, dinner.  Cesar Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette, broiled steak, medium-well and baked potato Mr. Grey?”  She seems a little flustered.  This is too much fun.

I was going to flash her my mega-watt smile, but I won’t do that to Taylor.  I’d be pissed if someone did that to me so I think better of it, “That is wonderful Gail, it’ll be good to eat real food again.”

I sit down to a Gail Jones masterpiece.  The best meal I’ve had since I left for Taiwan.  I think about everything I left behind and what I have achieved since being away from Seattle.  Part of me is happy I left and part of me does miss home.

All of this must be written on my face because Gail says, “We all miss you Mr. Grey and I’m not just saying that.  You have no idea how we feel about you because of the ‘Separation of Church and State’.  It’s hard to get close to you, but once we do you prove to be a wonderful person.”  She pats my hand and leaves Taylor and I to talk.

I look at Taylor for a clue of what Gail’s statement was about, but all he tells me is “She is right.”  I nod my head even though I do not truly understand all the fuss.

Finally I ask Taylor, “Do you want to finish our exchange here or in my office?”

“Where ever you feel most comfortable sir.”  I smile at the word ‘comfortable’.  Comfort has never really mattered to me, business was business and personal was off limits.  Things have definitely changed.

“Here is fine then.”  I take our plates to the sink, rinse them and put them in the dishwasher.  When I turn around, Jason has an all out, full-blown smile on his face.

“I know, I know, I don’t have anyone to clean up after me so I went back to basics.  The kitchen came with the place.  Since the world knows I can’t cook it could easily have been another bedroom as far as I’m concerned.  I can run the dishwasher, do my laundry and pick up after myself like a good little boy.  My mommy would be proud.”  At that statement, the smile falls from his face.

In horror I immediately ask, “Is something wrong with my mother?  Please tell me she is alright.”  I’ll be on the first thing heading stateside if she’s not well.

I talk with my dad more regularly now, but he’s always in his office in the city so he can blow up at me without fear of my mother walking in on him.  My ears start to bleed every time I see his number on the Caller ID.  The only thing he does anymore is chew me out.  It’s the ‘Harvard Drop-out’ scene over and over and over again.

“Mrs. Grey is fine sir.  She misses you, that is all.”  I let out a sigh of relief and nod my head.

“Would you like a lager?”  Taylor nods so I grab a couple Townsville Bitters hen lead the way to the living room that over looks Rowes Bay.

“What else is going on Taylor?  I’ve spoken with you, my father, Ros and various people here using the same cellphone with no problems.  Not to mention my email address has not changed so what’s the issue with Anastasia trying to contact me?”

“We believe someone has tampered with Miss Steele’s phone and computer.”  WHAT?!

The look on my face must say it all.

“She received a text and an email containing photos of you and a young woman.  The text was sent from an unidentified number, while the email was from a generic marketing company that sends out random announcements and coupons.  Barney says her email address could have been sold to any number of marketers simply from making an online purchase.  He gave her cellphone and laptop a once over and found spyware that could monitor her online movements and a zombie virus, which can be used to perform malicious tasks under remote direction, including but not limited to denial of service attacks.  Her emails were not reaching you due to the virus’ effects on her computer.”

“She is able to access her email from her BlackBerry as well.  Since BlackBerry maintains there is no such thing as a BB virus Barney is still looking at the phone.  During his research, Barney found articles to the contrary where the phone’s calling ability was affected in part or in full.  For now, we are working with the premise that both hardware items were attacked and prevented her from contacting you.”

There is only one person on Earth who would bother to keep Ana and I apart.  Taylor simply nods his head before we say in unison, “Elena Lincoln.”

STEELE

C’mon, c’om…Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring… “Grey.  Leave a message.” Beep.  Buzzz…

WHAT THE FUCK!  How the hell am I supposed to communicate with him if my calls keep going to voicemail?  And why the fuck can’t I leave a damn message?  What the fuck is he playing at?

Ring…Ring…Ring…”Hello…Chri…”

“Hey Steele, Mia and I are going to the Zig Zag for a few drinks. wanna join us?”  I guess alls well in the land of Katherine Kavanaugh

“Kate, I have a throbbing headache and booze is not going to help me.  You two enjoy yourselves.”

She sighs, “Steele, you cannot mope over…” OH NO!  NOT THIS TIME!

“KATE STOP!  Stop right there.  I CAN mope and I WILL mope.  The last time I looked in the mirror you were not there.  I appreciate you wanting to look out for me and wanting me to be happy, but I AM NOT HAPPY!  Do you understand that Kate?  No amount of Hagen Das, Chinese take-out, pizza or booze is going to make me happy.”

“All I am trying to do is…”  She has the nerve to sound defensive.

“Kate, I miss Christian.  I want to be with Christian.”

“I do not see what it is about him.  How can you stand him Steele?  He is so contro…”  REALLY?

“You mean like you are?”  I hear her gasp.

“Yeah Kate.  Where are you going to sleep tonight?  Where is Elliott?  When is the last time you spoke with him, huh Kate?”  Silence.

“That is what I thought.  Christian is not here to defend himself against you and your tirade.  And for the record, what the fuck has he done to cause you to hate him?  Huh?  What is that all about?”  Silence.

“I am waiting.”  Still nothing.

Let’s test the waters, shall we?

Be my guest.

“Kate, did I tell you Christian bought SIP and shortly afterward I was made editor?”  I cannot remember if I told her all about it or not.  That is an abridged version of the whole mess, but it is the salient information.

Another gasp, “How dare he try to buy you?”  Huh?  “What, does he think you can’t do it on your own?  Why does he want to keep you under his thumb Ana?  This is what I mean, why does he want to control your every move?”

“Do you think I should turn it down, move on to another publisher?”  Be careful Kavanaugh.

“Has his interference hurt your reputation there?”  The ‘R’ word,  “I know you are a hard worker Ana and your reputation means everything to you.  Has he damaged that with this asinine stunt?”

I grit my teeth and say, “Well, at the last staff meeting the other editors were looking at me funny, but no one came out and said anything.”  I know for a fact a few of them wanted to.  Even Roach seemed disappointed that my HR scores were high enough to allow me to stay.

“If it were me, I’d leave Steele.  I mean, I’m sure your boss would give you a good recommendation for wherever you decided to go, but you know we both worked so hard it’s a shame he couldn’t leave well enough alone so you could make it on your own.”

“You mean like you did Kate?”  Silence.

“Kate…Kate are you still there?  Do you mean like your getting an internship at your father’s company?”  Crickets.

“That is what I thought.  Kavanaugh, lets put it like this.  I love you, think the world of you, but this is my life not yours.  You have your man and I am going to have mine.  A friend will listen when I need them to, hand me a tissue when I need it or buy me a box of the damn things when I run out, but a friend is not going to tear down my confidence or self-est…”

“ANA!  I ‘ve NEVER done that to you.  How could you think that?  This is what I mean.  That self-righteous, salacious, asshole is fucking with your head.  You don’t even know who your true friend is.”  NOW DO YOU FUCKING BELIEVE ME?

“Kate, I have to go.”  I disconnect the call.

Well?

I know.  You are right about her.  I never thought of Kate as a jealous person, but then…you learn something new everyday huh?

Yepper.


First he says he loves me then I see him with some other woman, what is the damn deal?

WHOA…WHOA…WHOA!  Down Steele…down girl.

WHAT!

First of all you need an attitude change.  Second of all the man is F…I…N…E…FINE, no one can blame a woman for looking or even DROOLING at him.  You’re the one who gets her tights in a twist when that happens.  Third, YOU told the man “yes” THEN you turned around and told the man to “wait” and you practically bit his head off each time he tried to address the situation.  So WHO THE FUCK is being unreasonable here?  Wait for it…wait for it…BUZZ times up.  Still don’t know the answer?  Here, let me help…YOU!  YOU ARE BEING UNREASONABLE, CHILDISH and now you have the nerve be JEALOUS?

I told you and told you and I told you again to stop being an ass.  I told you to make sure you had your priorities straight and what did you do Miss High and Mighty?  You first sent the man around Seattle to attend any and all obligatory events stag, then you let him go to Taiwan, stag and as article after article came out you did and/or said nothing to him.  What the fuck gives you the right to utter a sound now?

Do you need assistance recalling the conversation, here let me help you:

NO!  I do not need to go back in time I was there.  I remember scripture and verse what I said to Christian and what he said to me.

Good.  There’s a reminder you do need to hear.

What the fuck could that be?

“…I want to prepare you for what the world takes seriously.  I do not want this to affect your time away from me.  I do not want you to question my love or fidelity to you no matter what the situation between us.  My heart is always in your hands baby.  I love you.”

This is not about money.  This is not about your feelings for him or his feelings for you.  This is about your insecurities and you misguided sense of independence.  What does his love have to do with your independence?

Uh…well…

Wrong answer.  He doesn’t care about what anyone else thinks.  He cares about and loves you Steele, that’s it, that’s all there is to it.  You can’t ask him for anymore.  You can’t hold your insecurities against him anymore than he can hold his insecurities against you.  You projected your fear about a situation no one can control on the man you claim to love.

Does the world take you seriously yet?

I do not know.  I mean, I go to work everyday and I carry my share of the load, so I guess I am taken seriously.

I understand you’ve shown yourself to be a dependable worker, but that’s not what I asked you.  I asked you if ‘the world’ takes you seriously yet?

HOW THE FUCK DO I KNOW?  I have not taken a before and after poll.

How do you intend to gauge the world’s view of Anastasia Rose Steele then?

I did not think about it that way.

WHAT?  WHAT WAS THAT?  I DIDN’T CATCH THAT LAST SENTENCE.  REPEAT THAT!

I SAID…I DID NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT HOW TO GAGUE WORLD OPINION OF ME!  DAMMIT!

Anastasia, what world are you even talking about?  Do you know?

I want my co-workers to take me seriously, I want my boss to take me seriously, if I get ahead in my field I want every little step to be MY win not a hand-off because someone knows Christian is part of my life.

So what world are you talking about?

ARE YOU STUPID OR SOMETHING?  I JUST TOLD YOU WHAT WORLD!  MY CO-WORKERS, KATE, JOSE, MY DAD, MY MOM!  I WANT THEM TO TAKE ME SERIOUSLY!

Where are your co-workers right now?  Where are Kate, Jose, your dad and mom right now?

I have no idea and at this very second I do not give a fuck.

Why don’t you know where they are?

I am no one’s babysitter.  My co-workers have lives of their own.  Kate is at the Zig Zag with Mia.  Jose and my mom are each somewhere in the world, I do not know where exactly.  My dad is at home in Montesano.  What does this have to do with my being taken seriously?

It has everything to do with it.  Your co-workers have lives of their own.  They’re not thinking about you sweetie.  They know you come to work on time and fulfill your assigned tasks.  Kate had her own shit-soup to sip on.  She doesn’t even work in your field, has no idea what you do for a living unless you tell her and between you, me and the lamp-post does she even give a fuck?  I think not.  What has she done to deserve to have that kind of power in your life?  Please explain that to me.

Kate graduated from college then proceeded to “inherit” an internship in her father’s company.  You see she doesn’t mind what anyone has to say about that?  Does she care what you have to say about it?  No, because that’s Kate and she knows you’d never judge her.  How does she know that?  You never have.  Why do you feel the need for her to accept you as anything other than her friend?

I wish you would see Kate for what she is.  You went to school together and she bullied you the entire time.  Her nasty attitude finally brought some good into your life that’s all.  She needs to worry about her own man before she looses him and has no one but herself to blame.  Although I’m sure she’ll come up with a way to pin it on Christian.

Your relationship with Grey is no more her business than her relationship with Elliott is yours.  The two of you have got to grow the fuck up.

Jose, well…Jose has wanted to fuck you for ages.  How you do or don’t feel about him is of no consequence.  How Jose feels has remained the same whether you reciprocated those feelings or not.  Is Grey a jealous ass?  Yes.  Does he have a valid reason to dislike Jose Rodriguez?  Yes, I believe so.  Do you have the right to expect Grey to simply forget what he saw that night outside of the bar?  No, I don’t believe you have the right to expect that from him.  You had difficulty watching him handle Leah when she had you at gunpoint and you still manage to harp on it by questioning his feelings for you.  How do you think that makes him feel?  Why is it you can walk away scot-free and Grey is left holding some kind of blame or is ‘guilty of crossing some imaginary line?  Why is he always the bad guy’?

I don’t know what else to tell you except you need to get your priorities straight.  Seeing him in a picture with another woman isn’t reason enough to contact him.  Think about it and I mean really think.  Let’s go to sleep, I’m tired and we have to be at work early tomorrow.  I’d hate for ‘the world’ to see you slipping.

Fuck you.

HA!  Is that the best you’ve got?  Grey deserves better than the way you’ve treated him and you know it.  You can lie to someone, but not to yourself.  Now, good night John Boy


As we go into SIP I ask Sawyer, “Have you heard from Christian?”  Sawyer looks at me as if I asked him to explain the meaning of life.

“No Miss Steele”, he shakes his head for emphasis, “I am assigned to protect you.  I have no knowledge of Mr. Grey’s whereabouts.”  We step to the far side of the Reception area so Claire is out of earshot.  I remember Christian saying Sawyer was head of security while Taylor was away, so he must know something. “Aren’t you currently head of security?”

His eyes widen and I raise an eyebrow.  He did not think I knew this little tidbit of information.  See caught you.  At least I thought I had until he tells me, “I was head of security while Mr. Taylor was on vacation, but he returned a while ago.  Anyway, I never spoke with Mr. Grey.  I spoke with Reynolds once or twice before Mr. Grey fired him and…” I did not let him finish.

“Mr. Grey fired Reynolds?”  I hiss as quietly as I can.  I do not remember being told this.  I remember Christian took him along to Taiwan because Taylor was on vacation and Ryan was assigned to Grey House and Escala.  What the fuck is going on here?

“Sawyer, I need to get to my office, but you and I need to have a heart to heart about what has been going on.  I am being left out of the loop.”

Ahem…

Not now.

Yes now…RIGHT NOW!

What the fuck do you want?

What the fuck makes you think you’re entitled to know about security for Grey?  Thought as long as you were free to roam about wherever you choose all was right in ‘the world’?

Ok, look.  I am going to tell you just like I told Kate.  I miss Christian.  I want to be with Christian.  I guess that means I am going to have to grow a set and fight with him tooth and nail when I feel like he is overstepping some imaginary line.  Until I get the opportunity to speak with him then I want to know WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!  Do I make myself clear?

WOO HOO…OH SHIT!  CRYSTAL!

What the fuck is so funny?

You are.  Keep in mind, anything worth having is worth fighting for.  SWAK!  No, get to work.

Sawyer takes a deep breath before telling me, “Miss Steele, with all due respect, the actions of Mr. Grey’s security detail are none of your concern.  I am not privy to that level of information therefore I do not make inquiries about it.  I know Taylor is back from his vacation.  He is the formal Head of Security.  I recommend you speak with him concerning Mr. Grey.”  The look on his face is stern.  I nod, turn and proceed to my office.

Before I walk away I tell Sawyer, “Then speak with Taylor is what I will do.  Thank you Sawyer.”

After work is finally over, I practically sprint to the front door.  “Sawyer, I need you to take me to Escala.  I need to speak with Taylor.”

“Miss Steele, Mr. Taylor is probably still at Grey House right now.  I can call him and we can make an appointment for you to…”

“AN APPOINTMENT!  WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT ABOUT?  Let me tell you something Mr. Sawyer, Christian may not be in the United States, but until he tells me in his own voice to fuck off, not you, not Taylor not Kate, NO ONE is going to stop me from communicating with or seeing Christian Trevelyn-Grey.  Do you fucking understand me?!”  I have been pissed all day and his statement was the last straw.  I am tired of this shit.

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, in the lobby stopped to listen to my none-too-quite episode, but you know what?  I…do…not…care.  I take a step back allowing Sawyer to lead the way to the door so we can get this horse and pony show underway.

Sawyer is silent all the way to Escala.  I do not know if he calls to warn Taylor that I am on my way or not.  If I were Sawyer, I would.  I want answers.  What the fuck is going on?  Who the fuck is the bimbo?  Why can’t I get in touch with Christian?

You know you are being a…

YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP TOO!  I have had enough of your mouth.  I was wrong to think anyone’s opinion mattered other than my own and Christian’s.  OK?  I WAS WRONG!

I have told Christian so many times that I love him and I will never leave him.  This is the second time I have broken that promise.  He deserves better than for me to be wishy-washy about our relationship.  Not just for general human respect, but because he has had enough shit go on in his life.  Now, I am adding to that.

Why now?  How much did the woman in the photo affect my decision?  I would be lying if I said this has nothing to do with her.  I know how handsome, caring and fun Christian is.  I know any woman in her RIGHT MIND would be a fool to walk away from a man who loves her.  Let alone one who is willing to put up with my brand of bullshit.

From what I can tell of the photograph, she looks like me and he looked star struck.  He is mine.  He will always be mine.  He said so himself before he left, “…Quite the contrary my love.  I want to prepare you for what the world takes seriously.  I do not want this to affect your time away from me.  I do not want you to question my love or fidelity to you no matter what the situation between us.  My heart is always in your hands baby.  I love you.”

We pull into the garage at Escala and I barely wait for the car to stop moving before I jump out and race to the elevator, with Sawyer on my heels.  I punch in the code but nothing happens.  Oh shit.

I look up at Sawyer and he tells me, “The codes were changed because Reynolds is no longer part of the Security Team; it had nothing to do with you Miss Steele.  We cannot risk him bearing a grudge against Mr. Grey and getting back into the apartment.  The access codes here and at Grey House have been changed.”  I nod my head as we enter the elevator.  It makes sense.  I cannot see Reynolds bearing a grudge, but…STOP IT!  It’s not your decision to make.  Isn’t that what you tell Grey all of the time?  Well this is about his home and his responsibilities to Gail, Taylor, Ryan and Sawyer as well.  They live here even if you and he don’t, so BUTT OUT!

I stand corrected.

We enter the Great Room and no one is there.  I walk over to the breakfast bar and see Gail looking through the cupboards with her back to me.  “Hi Gail.”

I tried not to startle her but it did not work.  “AH!”  She puts her hand to her chest and tries to catch her breath.  “Hello Miss Steele.  Oh, my…I wasn’t expecting anyone.  How are you dear?”  Once her breathing calms down her eyes soften.  She looks at me like I am her long lost child.  She comes around the breakfast bar and gives me a good, hard hug.

I manage not to cry and when we break apart I ask, “Have you or Taylor heard from Christian?  Do you know how he is or where he is?  I have been trying to reach him, but he is not taking my calls and my emails keep bouncing back to me.”  I take a deep breath then continue, “He has someone else doesn’t he?”

Gail takes me in her arms and rocks me side to side.  “Oh dear, I don’t know Ana, but when Jason gets home we’ll get him to tell us everything he knows; alright?”  I nod my head without leaving her embrace.  “You go and lie down and I’ll make you some tea and put together something for you to eat, ok?”  Again I nod my head.  “Good.  I’ll bring you your tea in a few moments.”

I slowly walk to Christian’s bedroom.  It is perfect.  Just as it always is when we get home from work.  I go into his closet and see where all of my clothes are gone.  I took them with me when I told him I needed space.  What confuses me is, all of his clothes are still in his closet.  He did not take anything with him?  The first thing that catches my eye is his grey tie; our favorite tie.

As I reach for it Gail appears behind me and clears her throat.  “He didn’t take anything with him.  He usually has a wardrobe available, but then he typically only goes as far as New York.  I imagine he purchased what he needed when he reached Asia.  These things will be here for when he returns.  I am making chicken potpie; it’ll take a little while to bake.  You freshen up and rest.  I’ll call you when it’s done.  I placed a cup of water and a Twining’s, English Breakfast Tea bag on the table beside the bed.”  She pats my shoulder then quietly leaves the room.

I cannot lie down here.  It feels wrong to be here when Christian is not.  I can smell his scent throughout the room and I see the picture of him and that woman in my minds eye.  What am I going to do?


“Taylor what does this mean?  How can a cellphone get a virus and how can any of that stop me from getting in touch with Christian?”  I am confused and frustrated at all of this technology mumbo-jumbo.

“Miss Steele, I am telling you what Barney found when he remoted into your computer and the results of his overview of your phone.  Here, take this BlackBerry.  It is brand new with a different phone number, which is here.  I recommend you only give it to your parents until we can resolve this issue.  Do you have a landline at home?”

I look at him puzzled.  Doesn’t everyone have a home phone?  “Yes, but we do not really use it.”

“Good, do not use it until I give you clearance to do so.”  Huh?

“Taylor is this all really necessary?”  I mean come on dude.

I do not know what I said, but whatever it was, I pissed him off because he glares directly into my eyes and asks, “Miss Steele, do you want to see him again?”

He has got you there.  I nod without saying a word.

“That is what I thought.  Follow my instructions to the letter.  Gail and I are going to Australia.  I will update him on what is going on here.  Please keep Sawyer close to you.  If you like, you are more than welcome to stay here at Escala.”  I shake my head no, that is too much to ask, besides, I cannot stand to be here without Christian.

“That will not be necessary Taylor, but if I change my mind, would it be alright to come back?”

“Of course it is alright, anytime, no matter what.  Now if you will excuse me, I have things I need to do.”  He gives me a quick nod and a pat on my shoulder before going into his office.

I look at Gail who asks, “Ana, are you certain you don’t want to stay tonight?  You’re already here.  I’m sure Jason and I won’t be leaving immediately.  How about it?”  I know she worries about me and I miss her terribly, but I just can’t.

“Thank you, but no Gail.  I really can’t stay here without Christian.  You both travel safe.”  I give Gail a final hug before we say goodbye.


“Good night John Boy” closing dialogue from the television series The Waltons (1972-1981)

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 8 Déjà Vu

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?

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 7 Foolish Pride

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 7 | Foolish Pride

STEELE

I got home Friday, kicked off my shoes and settled in, I was too tired to even eat.  Some of the other editors went out for a few drinks after work.  They asked if I wanted to join them, but I declined.  I did not think it was a good idea, plus Christian would not have liked the idea anyway, anything could happen.

Since when do you give a fuck what Grey would or wouldn’t like?  Thought you said, or was it Kate?  I can’t remember; your idiotic viewpoints are so much alike.  Anyway, thought Grey was trying to run your life.  He was being overbearing and dictatorial.  Or did you forget that?

I know what you are trying to do and it will not work.  There were instances where Christian was right, but there were instances where he was wrong as well and you know it.  Do not try to put this off on me.  I stood up for myself that is all.

If that helps you sleep at night then fine, I, for one, know it doesn’t so tell it to someone who’ll listen.

Look, we have argued about this for months now.

NO YOU LOOK!  He all but got rid of your security, wiped his hands of SIP AND moved to the opposite end of the Earth and you STILL have a funky-ass attitude.  He’s going to meet someone else you know that don’t you?  He’s single and hot and alone.  And for the record, I’ve discussed and you’ve ignored me for four months, two weeks and…what time is it…18 hours.

Christian loves me he would never cheat on me.

CHEAT ON YOU?  Who the fuck has to cheat?  You told him to fuck off because he wanted to share his life with you.  The man is not destitute, he won’t behave as if he is and he shouldn’t be expected to. 

I went to school for four years.  Got good grades and secured a job in my chosen field…

Yes, yes, you also met, fell in love with and received love from Christian Grey.  No small feat all things considered.  Then you managed to throw all of that out of the window because of some foolish pride.

I just shake my head.  You do not understand.

No YOU don’t understand and it’s going to bite you in the ass one day.


 

Saturday was difficult.  I have been second and third guessing my personal life for months now.  Just as I managed to rationalize my decision to postpone Christian and my wedding, something happens, a song plays or an article comes out causing me to wonder if I am wrong.  After my conversation with Elliott, I spent time watching Christian over the Internet, looking at the various pictures of him and reading the articles that released.  Things here in Seattle calmed down but wherever Christian is, there is a following.

I did not give much thought to the picture of him at what looked like a business dinner.  He was seated between to young Taiwanese women, but they were seated beside two men who could have easily been their husbands or boyfriends.

Uh, huh.

The next picture was just taken out of context.  I mean, yeah Christian is a Dom, but I cannot fathom him letting the world see him that way and I know he does not like to share so there was no way he would be involved with the two women in the sexy ass picture of him in only a towel.

Uh, huh.

The press has its spin on words and photographers can sway your opinion based on their camera angle.  I mean, look at the stories that went on around here.  None of what they said was true and as far as the pictures go, look at the one of me walking back to work looking like a lost lamb or something.

So the women surrounding him at the Beitou Hot-Spring Area were just a fucking coincidence, the woman drinking and laughing with him at Barcode was imaginary and what about the woman he was with in front of Taipei 101 and what about…

ENOUGH!  They were pictures, nothing more.

Sunday was the icing on the cake.  I was trying to relax and get back into work mode.  I sat down to finish my notes on the last manuscript I read when I hear Brownstone’s Foolish Pride; I forgot I had this on my playlist:

Don’t let foolish pride get in the way of a good love
Like yours and mine

How could you let me walk outside your door
When there’s so much you wanted to say?
How could you just pretend you could ignore
All the feelings that true love has made, ooh baby?

Ooh baby, ah baby, I was right there by your side
Through good and bad, ooh baby
Ooh baby, ah baby, let me know the reason why
You’re treating me so bad
Don’t let foolish pride get in the way of a good love
Like yours and mine
Don’t let foolish pride make you say things
That you don’t mean

Ooh my baby, my sweet baby
I’m the one you held so dear
Now that the weather here is changing
You don’t even want me near
You know in the beginning, everything was rosy
Everything was a okay
Now you’re telling me to go
I guess I’ll be on my way

Ooh baby, ah baby, I was right there by your side
Through good and bad, ooh baby
Ooh baby, ah baby, let me know the reason why
You’re treating me so bad

Don’t let foolish pride get in the way of a good love
Like yours and mine
Don’t let foolish pride make you say things
That you don’t mean

I hit the skip button on the iPod remote but end up hearing Come Back to Me by David Cook:

You say you gotta go and find yourself
You say that you’re becoming someone else
Don’t recognize the face in the mirror looking back at you

You say you’re leaving as you look away
I know there’s really nothing left to say
Just know I’m here whenever you need me I’ll wait for you

So I’ll let you go, I’ll set you free
And when you’ve seen what you need to see
When you find you, come back to me
Take your time, I won’t go anywhere
Picture you with the wind in your hair
I’ll keep your things right where you left them
I’ll be here for you

Oh and I’ll let you go, I’ll set your free
And when you’ve seen what you need to see
When you find you, come back to me

DAMMIT!  I need to talk with Christian.  We can work this out I know we can.  It is just a matter of knowing our limits.  We are each going to cross some line somewhere.  I have to tell him I was wrong.  I have to tell him I need him here or ask him to let me come there.  I need him.  He said all I had to do was let him know when I was ready.

What about your precious job?  You’re a new editor.  Aren’t you afraid of loosing your position, the respect of your colleagues, your boss?  I thought you wanted the world to take you seriously.  I thought public opinion was more important than your personal life.

Fuck all of that.  I need Christian.

Just as I am coming to terms with mea culpa, I hear the apartment door slam open then shut and Kate barges into my room in tears mumbling incoherently, “Kate you are going to have to slow down.  I cannot understand you.”

“That good for nothing bastard ruined my life…hope he catches VD…good you got rid of that fucker…nothing but a piece of shit on legs…” she keeps this up for what seems like ages.  As I listen to Kate ramble on, I search my mind for clues as to where she was and what has happened.

Lets see, this can’t be too difficult to figure out.  She’s dressed for more than pizza and a night watching movies at home.  What’s today, oh yes, it’s Sunday that means dinner at Grey Manor.  The only person she would have all of these invectives for is Christian.  Am I close?

“I do not see how he got GEH where it is.  He has no sense of human decency what so fucking ever.”  I know she is your friend, but I’m really not in the mood her and her incessant shit.  I’ll talk with you some other time.

“Kate slow down.  Who are you talking about?  Get rid of whom?”

“Oh my God Steele, get rid of Grey!  What the fuck is wrong with you?  Christian the overbearing, self-centered, maniacal tyrant Grey that’s who.”

WHO THE FUCK IS SHE CALLING AN OVERBEARING, SELF-CENTERED, MANIACAL TYRANT?

“Kate, I do not understand.  What does Christian have to do with any of this and, no offense, what are you doing here anyway?  Why aren’t you at Elliott’s place.”  I need to get a handle on what she is even talking about.  I know Christian is not on this continent so there is no way she has seen him other than in the news.

“Elliott sided with that bastard brother of his and kicked me out of his place.”  What the fuck?  Sided with Christian over what?

“When did this happen?  How did this happen?  What brought all of this on?”  Now I am rambling just like her.

“Fuck me Steele, are you loosing your good sense too?”  You better check that bitch.

“Lookie here blondie, you have got about two more seconds of my time to waste before I leave you to wallow in whatever pit of pity you fell into.  I suggest you get your run-on sentences, dangling participles, subject predicate and verbs in good working order or just forget this conversation.”  I sneer.  I am in no mood for her brand of bullshit either.  I have my own existence to contemplate and I really do not need an armchair quarterback around.

Kate’s eyes go wide and she looks like she has just seen a ghost.  I am really tired of her bashing Christian.  Elliott made his stipulations clear the last time I heard her sputtering her garbage about Christian, so she cannot plead ignorance to his point of view.

Yeah BITCH.  Start explaining yourself and make it fucking interesting.

So Kate goes into a diatribe about her evening at the Grey’s and the weekly Sunday dinner.  Apparently she started making her usual shit soup with Christian and fell down the fucking rabbit hole.

That’s what the fuck she gets.  Elliott told her over and over again to stop it, but she just wouldn’t listen.  How the fuck would she feel if Elliott talked to and about Ethan that way?  And just what’s her problem with Grey?  It’s not his fault he met you and not her.  That’s what she gets for pawning off her responsibilities on someone else.  Spoiled little bitch.  She got Elliott so why the fuck is she always prodding Grey?

You know Kate is just being protective of me.

WELL WHO THE FUCK ASKED HER TO?  And for the record, you see where her protection landed you right?  She needs to shut that big-ass hole in her head and get a fucking clue.  So, now, thanks to Miss I’m Right and You’ll Withstand My Flagrant Disrespect you’re both shit out of luck.  Got to love that Kavanaugh lack of charisma huh?  Well it is what it is.

What is that supposed to mean?

Karma is a BITCH, that’s what!

I manage to get Kate settled down and in bed. Elliott told her he would have her belongings sent here sometime tomorrow so she will call off from work to wait for the delivery.  I offered to stay with her but she insisted I go on to work.

Oh, I see.  You can take time off to help Miss Sad Sack, but not to stay in bed with the man who thinks you walk on water; or least he used to?  Let me repeat myself, “…What about your precious job?  You’re a new editor, aren’t you afraid of loosing your position, the respect of your colleagues, your boss?  I thought you wanted the world to take you seriously…”

I swear to God if you do not leave me the fuck alone I am going to…

You are going to what, CRY?  That is all you have been doing since your stupid ass ran from Grey.  What’s it going to take to make you wake up and smell the fucking tea?

Buzz, buzz, buzz.  Who the fuck is texting me at this time of night?  The Caller ID simply displays ‘Unknown Number’.  Then, all of sudden, pictures of Christian and a petite brown-haired woman staring into each other’s eyes appear on my phone.  Then another shot comes across the little screen, the woman’s head dropped as a Submissive would to her Dom.  The final picture is of Christian alone, still staring at the spot where the woman was standing.  The geo-tags on the photos show the location as Townsville, Australia.

Are you happy now?

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 6 Carry On

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 6 | Carry On

GREY

So sleep is out of the question I take it.

My, aren’t you perceptive and for so early in the morning too.  I am impressed.

Don’t get our balls in a bunch fucker it was just a question.  We have no meetings today, Grey, so we can finish researching the Australian building site and possibly schedule a tour, that is, if you truly intend to leave Seattle.

Relocating GEH Headquarters means nothing to me.  I can run my company from anywhere on the globe and I know it, all I need is internet access and a cellular signal.  I am leaving Seattle to give Ana space.  It is all up to her now.

I never took you for a coward Grey.

That is because I am NOT a coward.  What the fuck do you suggest shit-head?  Do you have some words of wisdom to make all of this magically go the fuck away?

I do not know, you tell me.  How about we talk this through without Flynn and without Steele, hmm?

Fine, you talk…I am tired.

Ahem…we have established that Steele is not your submissive, correct?

I am going to stop you right there.  If all you are going to do is take mental inventory of the obvious or replay conversations we have already had then you might as well shut the fuck up now because I am in no mood.

As I was saying, before I was so RUDELY interrupted, we have established that Steele is not your submissive, correct?

GRRR!

GRRR all you want motherfucker, ANSWER ME!

NO!  Anastasia is NOT my submissive.  I wanted her to be my submissive when I first met her, but at some point in this bizarre bullshit we fondly refer to as our relationship, my feelings on that changed.  I want to spend time with her outside of my Playroom and outside of my apartment.  I want her to be comfortable with my family.  I want her to be actively involved in my day-to-day life.  I care about what she thinks, how she feels, her opinions and I want her love.

I find myself thinking about her for absolutely no…fucking…reason, and before you make another nasty-ass comment, I do not only think about her sexually.  I think about all of her, mentally, physically and spiritually, makes me smile.  I cannot maintain my tough guy, Master of My Universe persona when she is around, she sees right through that and gets at the heart of whatever caused me to “go Dom” in the first place.  It is all part of what I love about her.

You spend a vast majority of your time thinking about what to do for her and what to give to her.  What do you want from her?

What do you mean?

Hello there, Harvard.  We dropped out, but that was from boredom not stupidity.  It may be a difficult question for you to comprehend, so let’s ask again, slowly, what…do…YOU…want…FROM…Anastasia?

Oh, you have digs , huh? Well…I want her to be happy. I want her to feel loved and cherished. I want it to return my affection and let me express my love for her. I do not want her to shower me with gifts or to kneel and beg me to be with her, if that’s what you mean. Does that answer your question, smartass?

Oui, oui it does Mr. Grey. So this has nothing to do with money or power? I mean, you are not just out to make her a trophy wife?

No, this is not about control, power or money.  If I tried to take control of Ana or exert some kind of power over Ana, she would leave me.  Not to mention, it is an impossible feat because, as I just stated, I cannot maintain the will to do that when she is involved.  I cannot stand to hurt her in any way.

I want to make her happy and take good care of her.  As it stands, if I want to take her to Monte Carlo for a night on the town, what am I supposed to do?  Tell her to save up and pay her share?  Do I take a tugboat to get there or am I just supposed to not do anything for her that she cannot do for herself?

All you can do is wait.  We already discussed this.  It is not your fight.  You cannot make her accept you.  And I mean the entire package.  We know you do it big, from yachts to jets, from helicopters to penthouses.  You cannot force her accept those things.  Then it is no longer your Ana sharing with you, it is your submissive following your instructions.

Something is preventing Anastasia from enjoying what you have to offer. Something is causing her to have a negative impression of your actions.  It is not your job to figure out what that something is; it is hers.

Go play the piano.  How about some Rachmaninoff?  Play the one with all of the rifts and scales and please, watch your phrasing.  The challenge will do us good.

You know me so well my friend.

That I do.

And play I do, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Haydn and numerous others.  I played until I saw the sun on the horizon.

Fuck this, I did not come over here to waste away.  I came over here to conduct business and conduct business is precisely what I am going to do.  I went to more business dinners and network lunches than I care to acknowledge.  Every fucking single time, there is a rogue flash or a multitude of clicks going off around me.  The next thing I know…BAM!

The article following a visit to the hotel’s pool area was particularly entertaining.  I chuckled as I read the headline, “Go Get ‘Em Grey” with a picture of me naked from the waist up.  There were two women on their knees, in the submissive pose, on either side of the doorway where I stood.  I could not keep from laughing.  This clip apparently made it back to the US because it resulted in a text from the Bitch-Troll:

BT: Hello Pet.  It is nice to see you are not brooding over there.

Grey: GO THE FUCK AWAY!

BT: Now Pet, there is no reason to be hostile.  I am proud of you for exploring your surroundings and not pining away for the same ole same ole here in the States.  Enjoy Pet.  I will see you when you return.

I do not care if she is proud or not, her opinion means nothing to me.  I do not want to have contact with her ever again.

My last night in Taipei consisted of dinner with the Executive Leadership Team from my shipyard.  I was seated between the wife of one Director and the fiancée of another Director.  Of course they were beautiful women, which only lead to speculation about the seating arrangement.  You could hear the camera clicks a mile away.  Whoever the journalist was the fucker did not have the decency to find out the identity of the women seated beside.  The news about that dinner read “Business or Pleasure” 

Seated here, Mr. Christian Grey is being entertained by executives from a local shipping company.  Who are the mystery women?  Does Mr. Grey have a bigger investment here in Taipei than he is admitting?  Rest assured, we will find out.

Needless to say the outcome lead to the photographer being blackballed and Reynolds’ dismissal.

“Just where in the fuck were you?  All you have to do is look and listen.  A deaf child could hear those camera clicks.  I thought you FBI guys could hear a fly fart from 100 miles away.  Obviously I was wrong.  YOU ARE FIRED!”

“Yes sir.  I will notify Mr. Taylor immediately.” He says with his eyes looking at the floor like a kindergartener caught in a lie.

“Did I ask you to notify Mr. Taylor?” I growl, “I will take care of any notifications.  Hand over your GEH identification and that fucking BlackBerry.  I have half a mind to let you figure out how to get a commercial flight back to the States.  However, the jet is available so get your ass on it.  You are welcome; you can thank Miss Steele for my change of heart.”

“Yes sir.  Thank you sir.”

What the fuck ever, stupid little prick.  He thought no one saw him trying to make time with the maitre’d.  Well he thought wrong.

I sent Taylor a text letting him know about Reynolds and told him to immediately change all of the pass codes and locks for the areas Reynolds could access and let me know about his progress.

Just as I hit Send, my phone rang, “Sir, this means you are alone and unprotected.”

“Yes Taylor, it means I am alone and unprotected, but it is a mute point because I will be in a new location in a few hours.”

“Reynolds is returning to the US by commercial flight I take it.”  Nope, you got to give it to the bastard Grey he is thorough, nosey as all fucking hell, but thorough.

“No Taylor, the jet is taking Reynolds back.”

“Then how will you be traveling sir?”  Nosey prick.

“I have my ways Taylor.  Look, you are just returning from your vacation.  I hope you had a good time and tell Gail I said hello.  So settle in, liaise with Sawyer then take care of the security updates.  I will be fine.”

“Sir, this is…” Shut this fucker down Grey.  What the fuck did we do before Taylor came along?  We’ve been in more than our fair share of street fights, most of which we initiated by the way, beaten and fucked by a pedophile and threatened for a majority of our life over whiners and haters who cannot manage their own companies so who the fuck is he to ‘protect’ us now?

“Enough Taylor.  I will be in touch.”  I say as I hit the End button.  Give me a fucking break.  Maybe we need to be totally on our own.  There is no need for a fucking babysitter.

I spoke with Ros and updated her on the shipyard situation then told her I was on my way to Townsville Australia.  The city is on North Queensland’s east coast.  Building for the new Grey House is underway and I will have a perfect view of the Great Barrier Reef.

“…and let Human Resources know they will be receiving employment applications shortly.  I want everyone checked five times over so get Taylor and Welch involved ASAP.  We should treat this even more carefully than when GEH started.  Brush off your pointy hat and broom and be ready for Skype interviews.”  I laugh.  She loves employment interviews.  It is her time to shock the shit out of perspectives, vent her frustrations of the day and flex her muscle all at one time.  I have seen her in action.  She is a true bitch at interview time.

“Do not give me any shit Grey.  You know interview time is better than Christmas for me.  So this is really going to happen, huh?  You really are not coming back here?  Oh hey, can I have your office?”  I know good and well she is fucking serious.

“Yes it is real and FUCK no you cannot have my office.  When I DO come to Seattle I do NOT intend to be some redheaded, homeless stepchild in my own building.”  Shit.

“Whatever, it was just a question.”  And I just gave her the answer.

“Anything else Ros?”

“Yeah, SIP is doing…”  OH NO YOU DON’T.  Not this shit. She knows protocol.  When there are no issues affecting my pocket then she can have it.  We knew it was doing well based on its ratings in Barron’s and because she would have lead off with its fucked up shit if things were going badly.  So, we do not want to know.

“STOP!  Is there a problem at SIP that requires my attention?”

”No, I just thought…” I do not pay her to think for me.  I pay her to be my second and think for GEH.

“STOP!  You thought wrong.  SIP is just another GEH subsidiary.  You do not discuss subsidiaries with me unless there is a situation that only I can address, correct?”

“Yes.”  She knows this.  We have never had to have this conversation and I do not ever intend to have it again.

“This is not new protocol.  We have conducted things this way since you came onboard with GEH, correct?”

“Yes.”  Plain and simple, I wish the rest of my world functioned this way.

“Then why in the fuck would things change now?  Think very carefully before you answer that question Ros.”

“No reason, Grey.  Other than to brag on their standing with GEH.”  Good answer.

“Ok then, they are doing well.  I know that from the financial news that you know I read every fucking day.”

“Yep”, she pops her ‘p’.

Then changing the subject she says, “I will let you know when I have scheduled the interviews.  Since this year is over, will you be coming back here during the First Quarter?  If so, we should schedule the End of the Year Reports meeting.”

“I will think about that and let you know Ros.  Bye.”  Mission GEH update accomplished.

Now it is time for Operation Family Confrontation.  I am truly dreading this.  I did not call at Thanksgiving or Christmas on purpose.  I did not want to overtly ruin my mother’s holidays.  For some masochistic reason I feel the need to contact her before the New Year to let her know that I moved my company and myself to Australia.  “Please God be with me.”

She answers on the second ring, “CHRISTIAN!  Where are you son?  How are you son?  When are you coming home?  We all miss you so much. Anastasia is devastated.”  Damn caller ID.  Talk about let a guy get a word in edgewise, but that is mom for you.

I do not have the opportunity to speak when I hear a commotion in the background.  Based on the ear-piercing scream I know it is Mia.  I take it mom was trying to keep the call all to herself.  Not going to happen with Mia around.  She should have been on duty instead of Reynolds, that picture would never have made it to press.  True, very true.

“Is that Christian?”

“Yes darling it is him.  Just give me a moment…” then there is a struggle for the phone.  I have never heard my mother and sister tussle over anything.  I am picturing Mia struggling over an article of clothing at Niemen’s; it is too funny.

“…Let me talk to him mom…”

“…Mia, calm down.  I will give you the phone when I am finished.”

“Please mom…” I am on the edge of my seat betting on which one will end up with the phone.  This is better than any gift.  I should disappear more often.

“Give me that damned thing.  Christian Trevelyn-Grey, where the fuck are you?  You are killing your mother.”  Uh oh, the party is over; it is dad.

“Hello dad.  I am still in Taipei.  I thought I should call and check in before I move on.”

“Just a fucking second mister.  You will just be spending a shit-load of money on this long fucking ass distance call.  That is what you will be doing.  Now, I want answers, but your mother has been in tears since you told her you would not be in Seattle for the holidays so I will let her speak with you first.  Then you will touch base with your sister and brother and finally, you will answer to me.  Do you understand?”  Now you know why the man is a good lawyer.  If you cannot get me out of this shit-storm then just give it a fucking break and let me suffer through this.  Be my fucking guest.

“Yes sir,” I say very quietly.  He is pissed, my mom is pissed, and my sister is pissed.  I know Elliott will not give a fuck so I am not worried about him.  Mom mentioned Ana, what are you going to do about that?  That is when you can cash in your two cents, but for now, piss off. Hee, hee, hee you will need me sooner than you think.  The thing that pisses me the fuck off is I know he is right.

“Christian?”  I can hear the pain in my mother’s voice.  God I hate this.  I knew I should not have called.

“Hi mom.  I am fine.  I am still in Taipei Taiwan, but I will be leaving here on my way to Townsville Australia.  I wanted to let you know about the change in my location.”  Did I answer all of her questions?  After all the fuss, I forgot what she asked.

“I am glad you called son.  I miss you terribly, we all do.”  I want to laugh.  I know she misses me and Mia does too, but as for dad and Elliott, I know better.  My father and I have never seen eye-to-eye on a damn thing and that only got worse when I dropped out of Harvard.  Elliott, well, he is a big brother so it goes without saying.  I am too big and too ugly for him to worry his pretty little head over.

“Well, that is all I wanted to say mom.  I just wanted to give you an update.”  You did not give her an update.  You forgot one question.  What was that?  Wait for it.

“When are you coming home son?”  Oh, shit.  I did miss that one didn’t I?  Deep breath Grey, just give it to her straight.

“Mom, I am relocating myself and GEH to Australia.  Building is underway for the new office, new employee interviews will begin shortly and I have a few local companies I am looking into acquiring, so things will be really busy for me.  I will be back sometime next year for business in the Seattle office.”  That should be enough.  I am not going to promise I will visit because I probably will not.  Escala will be available for me to stay the night, as I do not plan on staying for long.

“Christian, what happened between you and Ana?  Why have you distanced yourself from us all?  It has been impossible for me to contact her and she just lives in the city.  While finding you is like looking for a needle in a haystack.”  Mom says with tears in her voice.  I can hear Mia sniffling somewhere beside her.

“More like looking for Waldo.”  Elliott yells.  For once, I am glad for his stupid sense of humor.

“It is a long story mom and not one I want to discuss.  Suffice it to say, I am expanding GEH and Anastasia is building her career.”  And she is doing it the way she wanted to, without our interference and even our knowledge at this point.

I have not spoken to Ana in about a month.  The days and nights are running together anymore.  All I have are my dreams to keep her with me.  To protect me from whatever is out there, especially at night.

“I do not believe you Christian.  You have no reason to expand GEH.  You have more money than is necessary for the Brady Bunch, let alone a single man with no dependents.  I want you back here and I want you back here now!”  My bossy mother; she makes me smile when she acts this way.  It reminds me that she is the parent and I am the child and that she really does give a damn.  The thought makes me smile.  You can never get too grown up for mommy.

“Mom, no disrespect intended, but I would if I could but I can’t so I won’t.”  She takes a deep breath and simply passes the phone to Mia.  No goodbye, no fuck you, nothing.  So I know I have fuck up that relationship for good.  Way to go Grey, two down three to go.

“Christian? “  I cannot take this.  I am going to say this shit once more then I am getting off this damn telephone.

“Mia, would you put the telephone on speaker please?”  I am trying to keep my composure.  I know I have not called and I have been gone for a while, but it is not the first time in my life that I have been away on business so I do not get the big fucking deal.

Mia announces, “Ok, we are all listening.”

“I am currently in Taipei City Taiwan and am on my way to Townsville Australia.  I am moving GEH Headquarters to Townsville.  Building is underway, sorry El, you would love Townsville.  According to the Australian Conservation Foundation, Townsville is the fourth most self-sustainable city in Australia, including building and transportation.  It is wonderful.  That is it.”

“What about Ana you pretentious, self-centered, uncaring motherfucker?”  she shouts in true self-righteous bitch fashion.  Then there is dead silence.  I mean dead silence.  Libraries should have such sound control.

Finally, I hear the low growl I recognize, without a shadow of a doubt, is my father.  In a bare whisper that sounds like a faint spring breeze I hear, “Get the fuck out of my house and do not ever return.  Do you understand me? Elliott, if you bring her back on the premises, I will have you both arrested for trespassing and you of all people know I will do it.”

So much for the ball-buster, hee, hee, hee, the bitch deserves that and worse.  It is a mystery just what the fuck Elliott sees in her, aside from possibly a decent fuck and a blowjob.  With the filth that comes out of that bitches yap it is a wonder he has not needed shots because of the tea-bagging tart.

“Mr., Mrs. Grey, I apologize for my language.  Ana has been upset and distant from me for months and it is your son’s fault.  She will not tell me what happened, but I know she never behaved this way before she met him.  And…” she does not get to say another insincere word because Elliott finally takes control.

“Kate, we have discussed this a million times.  I am tired of you belittling my brother.  Ana is a grown woman and she can stand up for herself.  Being her friend may mean listening to her when she needs you, but it most certainly does not give you free license to attack my brother.”  Now step the fuck back bitch.

“If you did not like Christian because of something he did to you personally, then I would understand the contempt you constantly display, but even then your actions, especially tonight, would not be acceptable.  However, that is not the case.  You do not like him because of the goings on in his relationship with your friend and that is not only unreasonable and utterly ridiculous on your part but also none of your fucking business,” which we have all told this whore for the longest time.

“I cannot stand by and let this continue anymore.  I will call a cab to take you back to your Pike Market Place apartment and I will pay to have your personal items delivered to you tomorrow.  Keep the key because I will have the locks changed before you get back to the city.”  Oh shit, that has got to hurt.

“Now, I believe my father told you to leave and do not for one instance think you can apologize satisfactorily enough for disrespecting my family so do not even try.  Get out.”  WOW!  YOU GO BOI!  Never in our wettest dream did we believe he had it in him.

As proud of him as I am, I do not know what possessed me, but I cannot be the reason he ends up unhappy in life.  I am not worth it, even if he does not understand why.  “Elliott don’t, I am a big boy.  She can say whatever she likes to me, although Miss Kavanaugh, I demand you make penance to both of our parents and our sister.”

“My relationship with Anastasia is none of your concern so you can stop wasting your vile breath attempting to disparage me because I know for a fact Anastasia would not appreciate your effort.”  I want Elliott to get rid of that bitch, but that will be his own choice based on whatever parameters are set in their relationship.  I want nothing to do with the situation at all, ever.

I do not need to hear anymore so I try to make my escape, “I bid you all ado.”

I am trying to give my dad the slip, when all of a sudden, the same soft, stinging voice says, “Just a fucking second son.  I am not done with you yet.  Tell everyone else good bye, but you are not getting away from me that easily.”

DAMMIT!  “Bye mom, bye Mia, bye El, take care and I love you.”

“Good-bye darling.  I wish you would come home.  I do not understand why you left, but I will not press you for an answer.  I love you too.”

“Bye Christian.  I do not care why you left.  I just want you to come back.”

“Hang tough lil bro, give the babes hell for me, will ya?  Oh, I did like that pic of you by the Jacuzzi, although, you need to workout dude.  You look like you are getting flabby around your middle.”  He does not understand what he just stepped into does he?

I cannot let that one go, “Above or below the towel?”

“EWWW, touché lil bro, touché.  Laters Chris.”  He says with a chuckle in his voice.  Score one for us.

“Laters El.”  This is the first time I have ever enjoyed his humor.  Hmm, I kind of like this feeling.

Then all is quiet on the western front again and I know my dad has taken the telephone into his office.  If he had FaceTime the damn thing would be sitting in the chair on the opposite side of his desk so he could stare at me, just like he did when I was a kid.  Thank God he has no interest in Twenty-First Century technology.

“Ok Christian, start talking.”

“What do you want to know dad?  I said my peace a few minutes ago.”  This is going to be a do not ask do not tell conversation.  He is getting truthful responses to his expressed questions, only.  He better remember you are only as good as you are specific.  No doubt.

“Why did you go to Taiwan Christian, why are you relocating GEH to Australia and when will you be back in the United States permanently?”  Pretty good, but not good enough.

I repeated the answers I gave to mom, verbatim.  I am not discussing my personal life with either of them.  This conversation is over.  “Dad, I have a flight to catch.  I need to get going.”

“Bullshit Christian, that plane leaves when you say so, even when you have a flight plan mapped out you can always arrange a delay.”

“I am not using the jet.  It is taking Reynolds back…” OH SHIT!  What have you done?

Then, we are back to the whisper, “Taking who back where?”

“Taking Reynolds back to the States.  He failed in his duties and I fired him.  I put him and his belongings on the jet and sent him back to Seattle for Taylor to handle.”  Open mouth, insert foot; you really should be conducting a seminar on your method because you are hitting the mark directly today.

“DO YOU FUCKING MEAN TO TELL ME YOU ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GLOBE WITH NO FUCKING SECURITY?  ARE YOU REALLY THAT FUCKING STUPID?”  I can hear him panting for breath and mom beating on his office door.

“Carrick, what is going on?  I demand you open this door.  Let me in Carrick Grey…NOW!”  Grace is frantic.  She is calling dad by his full name, he best watch out.

I hear the doorknob click then I hear, “Christian, are you without security?  Where is Taylor?  Son, what is going on?  You are never without security.”  Good grief, remind me never to call home again.  I cannot take this shit.

“Mom, yes I am without security.  Taylor is at Escala because I gave him vacation time with Gail.  I was fine without him because I had Reynolds with me until he managed to let a shutterbug get some pics and put out articles that should not have happened.  I have notified Taylor and I will be fine.”  E-fucking-nough already.  Get off the fucking telephone and it has nothing to do with call charges.  This shit is exhausting and we have traveling to do.

“Look mom, dad, I will be in touch.  I really have to go.  I love you both.”  I am trying to be sensitive to their position in all of this but I am not there, I am not coming back anytime soon and they just have to face it.  I will not be guilted into returning to Seattle.

“Alright son, I will give you a pass for now,” thank you Heavenly Father, “but if you insist on remaining out of the country and you want to avoid this type of situation in the future, I recommend we hear from you on a more regular basis.  Do you understand me?”

“Yes sir.”  Once again, the child is chastened.

“Good.  Be well Christian and travel safe son.”  My father says with as much finality as he can muster.  There is a twinge of emotion in his voice, but I cannot make out what it is so I just end the call.


I have spent what feels like hours just sitting on the balcony of my new Townsville City home with a 180 degree north facing views taking in Castle Hill, North Ward, The Palms, Magnetic Island, brilliant ocean views and surrounds proud of my decision to move.  I could not stand to be in that hotel any longer.  Do not get me wrong, Taipei is beautiful and there were any number of places to visit and sites to see, but Ana was not with me so there was really no point in a spending a night on the town alone, plus, I was ready to be somewhere more permanent.

I have to get out of here; the fucking walls are closing in on me.  I get in my new Audi Spyder R8 and drive off to parts unknown.  I get on Cape Pallarenda Road and head toward Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park.  As I ponder my next plan of action Darren Hayes’ Walk Away pulls me out of my reverie:

I’ve been polishing blame for so long now
My pride and joy
A bit of tragedy never hurt
Somehow this man become a boy
You took the blame but maybe I was wrong

Walk away now and be gone
You don’t have to want to go on
I can see it’s killing you
You don’t always have to be so strong for me
Every angel had dirty hands
Even Judas planned to just carry on
Just picking up the pieces
Of what lies behind those sorrowful eyes
You can walk away

You have been silent for so long
I let the world know
I turned a bit of my pain into a song
Then carried on
You took my shame but maybe that was wrong

Walk away now and be gone
You don’t have to want to go on
Even when they’re killing you
You don’t always have to be so strong for me
Every angel had dirty hands
Even Judas planned to just carry on
Just picking up the pieces
Of what lies behind those sorrowful eyes
You can walk away

Now and be strong
I know you can carry on

Ana is telling me to go.  I put the top up and get out of the car.  As I do, I am met by a beautiful set of crystal blue eyes staring at me.  I am speechless.

What do they tell you?  When you least expect it be prepared.

She stares back at me for a moment then lowers her head as her face turns a lovely shade of pink.  I almost call her Ana, when she suddenly turns and walks away from me.  It is a dream?  I am nailed to the spot, my eyes wide in disbelief.

Was that…?”

No, it could not be.  She would not be here and not tell me.

Then who was she?

I have no fucking idea.

They say everyone in the world has a twin. Maybe this is your second chance to make a first impression.

Do you know what angers me most?

Yes.  You are thinking it and we are saying it.  Grey, Steele left you remember not the other way around.  She told you she loved you then she walked away from you.  She got mad that you purchased SIP and when you tried to explain your actions she treated the situation as an overt attack on her free will.  Her friend and her foolish pride are misguiding her; that is the long and the short of it.  Keep in mind my friend, she had you and she let you go.  Let the chips fall…

Touché mon ami.


Touché mon ami |Touché my friend

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 5 Got ‘Til It’s Gone

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 5 | Got ‘Til It’s Gone

STEELE

Have a feelin’, now believin’
That you were the one
I was meant to be with
Oh, how I’m wishin’ Thinkin’, dreamin’ ’bout you
And the love, how’d I let you get away?
Got ’til it’s gone
Got ’til it’s gone

If I could turn back hands of time
Make you fall in love
In love with me again
So would you give me another chance to love?
To love you, love you the right way
No games
Got ’til it’s gone
Got ’til it’s gone

“CHRISTIAN!”  I wake in a cold sweat, Janet Jackson’s Got ‘Til It’s Gone playing on my iPod.  “This has got to stop.”  I shake my head.  I am not going to get any more sleep, so I might as well make myself some tea.

Christian has been in Taiwan for a month.  The last time we spoke I thought he would tell me he was coming home, instead things went from bad to worse.

“Hey baby.  It is so good to hear your voice.  How are you?”  I can hear his smile through the telephone.  It makes me smile right back at him.

“Hi Christian.  I miss you so much.  I love you.”  I can feel the tears at the back of my eyes as I speak.  Save the sprinklers Steele, you need to find out where his head is at and when he’s coming home.

“I miss you too sweetheart.  You should see there are Sakura flowers in bloom and the Hot Springs are incredible.  I wish you were here Anastasia.  How are things in the States?”

“Things are good.  As well as to be expected,  I guess.  Oh, Mr. Roach promoted me to full editor.“  I say with a pride I do not really feel.  I know Christian had something to do with my promotion.  I just do not know if and/or how to broach the subject with him.  I could tell by the way Roach discussed my performance review he was not pleased with keeping me on staff.  It was almost like he was hoping I would fail so he could get rid of me once and for allI got a dollar says Grey has no idea about any of this.  Bet.

“That is wonderful baby.  I knew you would do well.”  He actually sounds proud of me.  I cannot let this go.  I have to ask.  Do me favor, just stop, because you are obviously behind and in jeopardy of fucking up a perfectly good conversation.

“Christian?”

“Yes baby.”  His voice sounds so smooth.  I can feel his warm soft breath on my neck as we speak.  I can feel the sexy kisses he puts on that special spot behind my ear.  I have to hold back the moan forming in my throat.  I get goose bumps thinking about it.

“Did you have anything to do with my promotion?”  I hear him gasp.  Well, you fucked up this ‘lil reunion didn’t you?  Is that a new record?  It took you all of twelve minutes to ruin the mood.

She is right.  I can feel the ice in his voice when he says, “No Anastasia I did not.  I turned over the management of SIP to Ros Bailey on purpose.  If an issue arises, she will act accordingly.  Ros only informs me when it is absolutely necessary.  I am not privy to the day-to-day workings of every company I hold.  Now, if there is no other business you would like to discuss, I have a meeting to prepare for.”  OH MY GOD NO!  I fucking told you to keep your Kate-sized big ass mouth shut, but NO.  You have to let your super duper inferiority complex get in the way of our happiness.  What the fuck are you doing…DAMMIT!

“CHRISTIAN WAIT!  Please do not hang up.  I apologize.  I was not trying to offend you.  It was just a question.”  I sound pathetic even to myself.

“Anastasia, I cannot do this anymore.”  He cannot do what anymore?  Then, as if he can read my mind, he continues, “I have done everything I can think of to aid in your feeling of independence.  I am utterly powerless when it comes to you and now, unless we contact each other, I do not know what is going on with you at all.  I called you because I miss you and I wanted to tell you I was coming home.  I want us to be together.  Don’t you understand Ana, I miss you.  And to top it all off, I can finally recognize the feeling I had before I met you.”  Why does that sound like a bad thing?

“I was lonely Anastasia.  I was alone and lonely before you tripped into my office and stole my heart; a heart I did not realize I had.  I have learned from you how to treat other people.  I have learned how to take their opinions and interests into account as opposed to simply instilling my own will.  I have learned to empathize with others.  It is an entirely new mindset for me and I want to share my new experiences with you.  I am not perfect at this and when it comes to business I do not intend to go easy when I want to win, but in my personal life…I am changing baby and it is all because of you.”  He sounds happy again, like a little kid in a candy shop.

“Christian, I never wanted you to leave in the first place.  I never intended to hurt you.  I just wanted…”  We know what you wanted Steele.  Only you seem to have difficulty remembering and understanding what you wanted.

“Anastasia, please.  I remember all too well what you said you wanted.  I went over your statements with you sentence by sentence just to be certain I understood what you were saying.  This is about me.  I am hurting Anastasia.  I love you and I want to be with you.  I miss you so much, there are not enough words to explain how I feel and it scares me because I know, deep down, you do not share those feelings.  You are my everything.  My world begins and ends with you.  This entire experience is more difficult because I do have these feelings for you and…” he stops suddenly, as if he does  not want to say anything else.

“And what Christian?”  I sound desperate even to my own ears.

He whispers, “…you do not have them for me.”  He takes a deep breath before he continues.  “Ana, GEH will be an international presence.  I am expanding my company to reach overseas.  Ros will be in charge of business at the Seattle location, but GEH Headquarters must be where I am.”

What the fuck is he saying?   How can he feel like that?  What in the hell gave him that impression?  How can he see my independence as a lack of feeling for him?  My heart hurts, my head hurts and I can hardly breathe.  What is going on?   I am going to take those as rhetorical questions.

“Ana, I asked you to marry me so we could share good times and bad, not just spend money like there was no tomorrow, not to manipulate you and not to change you.  I have told you countless times you make me whole.  I cannot wait to wake up in the morning and see those heavenly blue eyes look back at me.  I cannot wait to make love to you as many times as you will let me every single day.  I want to hear about your day and your life because it is in stark contrast to mine.”

“Ana, I was an abused child and for whatever reason that affected me so deeply that I wanted to perpetuate that abuse.  My behavior and my acting out were a means to an end.  I viewed fighting the way most guys viewed a game of basketball or football.  I could hit and be hit.  I got out my aggression and would be punished at the same time.  Once puberty hit, I progressed my abuse and took it to the farthest degree imaginable.  The reason I stayed in touch, so to speak, with Elena was because that relationship was the only intimacy I knew, outside of my family.”

“The only way to disappoint Elena was to come too soon or not take a beating, safewords were irrelevant, and could handle that.  I could not handle disappointing the woman who saved me from squalor and violence.  Seeing the sorrow and distress in Grace’s eyes only solidified my self-hatred and left me with an enduring emptiness.  All that while, Christian was lost.  He never grew up, never learned how to share, never learned how to love and once he made it big, he had no desire to do any of those things or any of the number of other things he missed out on during his youth.  His shiny new toy was to buy another company and make another million, which did not make him any happier than when he started.”

“And I never lost the desire to touch and be touched.  I never lost the desire for intimacy and love, it was just too late for me to learn how to have those things; or so I thought.  I was too old for Elena and street fights were not good PR…” he chuckles to himself, “…so I was back to my pubescent coping mechanism.  The one way I learned how to be with a woman and not have to worry about what might happen.  In my playroom, I controlled touch.  With my NDAs and contracts, I controlled intimacy, for lack of a better word; there was no place for love.  Those things held me together, but also tore me apart.”

“Anastasia, meeting you was like seeing an oasis in the dessert.  People to do not talk with me, think about it.  I give orders, people follow them and I move on.  You and I had a conversation.  You were flustered and it was adorable.  I could not knock you over or break you down with a smile or a glare.  It was refreshing to me; it still is.  You are smart, compassionate, honest, strong willed and sexy as hell; especially when you are angry.”  I can hear the smile in his voice.

“Ana, simply put, your presence in my life has gradually changed me and the most important thing to me is that you are happy.  It makes me feel good to know that I can make you smile.  I want you to have whatever your heart desires, because of how much I love you, not because I want you indebted to me, not so I have something to hold over your head.  I wish you nothing but success, friendship and love in your life.”

“The more I listen to you, the more I hear you doubting my intentions.  I do not know where to go from here Ana.  I cannot compete with worldwide acceptance and recognition.  I feel like my actions, past, present and future are tainted by my mistakes and will not be good enough.  My actions will only lead us back to your not trusting me.  I am lost here baby.  I need you to help me, and the sad thing is I do not believe you can.”

“I know I cannot buy true love and affection.  There are however many people in this world willing to grant me a false sense of exactly those things for as long as my money lasts.  That is exactly how I have been living my life.  When I flash a few hundreds, heads turn and we will not discuss what the visual of a few million can do.  When I adorn that panty-dropping smile as you call it, women fall at my feet, with their legs spread wide.  I do not want that Ana.  I have never wanted that.  I have always craved true love and affection.  The only person who makes me feel that way is you…I only ever want you Anastasia.”

“From the day you left until this very second, I thought about nothing but you, me, us and where to go from here.  The only solution I come up with is for me to go away and pray that you, and I to a lesser degree, each find our happily ever after.  My moving overseas is the only way, unless you have an alternative.  Please know baby, I will always love only you, no matter the nature of our relationship.  It may sound presumptuous, but anything I have is yours Anastasia, whether we are together or not.”  Then, he reads my mind and it all becomes clear, “Do you know why Ana…because you have my heart baby.  You gave me everything I was searching for and more.  Besides my love, all I have to give you in return are material things, but if they help you at all, then it is worth it.”

Are you happy now?  This man has, once again, poured his heart out to you.  All he wants is you.  He’s not asking you to give him anything.  He’s asking you to share his life with him.  What the fuck does it take, an Act of Congress, to get it through YOUR thick skull he only wants to be with you and NOTHING MORE!  He has to learn how to be in a relationship, to learn the do’s and don’ts, but then, so do you.  Contrary to your belief, you are not perfect and you do not know everything.  AND YOUR CHOICE OF COUNSEL SUCKS!

“…Ana…Ana are you still there?”  Oh shit, all my inner musing caused me miss what he said.

“I am here Christian.  I was trying to take in everything you said.”  AGAIN WITH THE FUCKING TAKING IN OR PROCESSING OR GETTNG THOUGHTS STRAIGHT!  WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?

What he has told you is cut and dry Anastasia.  Either you want this man or you don’t.  If you don’t want him, then do the womanly thing and step the fuck away right now.  Grey deserves love and affection.  He deserves caring and support.  He deserves to be wanted for who he is, not resented for his position.  He worked damn hard to get to the top of his game.  All he wants to do is share everything he is and everything he has with you, not the Bitch-Troll, not one of the fifteen, not any of the fluttering eyelash, abundant boob, ass swinging bitches in the world.  He wants to share with you.  I’m speechless, utterly speechless.

“I was going to wait a little while longer before initiating my move, but your silence speaks volumes.  I take it you would rather I not belabor the situation and move forward with my plans.”

“No Christian, my silence does not mean that at all.  I never thought we would be at this crossroad.  Like you, I do not know what to say or what to do.”

“Well then, we are staring from an even playing field, that can only be a good thing.”  His statement gives me some sense of hope.

“Let’s table this discussion and revisit it in a few weeks.  I have no trouble keeping up with GEH from here and I can fly in if I am needed in the flesh.  I do not want to put this off indefinitely though Ana.  There are a lot of people dependent on my keeping GEH afloat so I will have to decide.  For now, I can wait.”

“Look baby, I have to go.  I love you”

“I love you too Christian.”  And then, he is gone.


 

I have seen lots of pictures of him traveling to lovely areas; Taipei, Kaohsiung and Hsinchu were just a few.  There were lots of beautiful women as well.  I could have done without the headlines, “Grey Gets A Geisha”

 

Geisha 2

or “Who Will Join Christian Grey on His Orient Express”

Orient Express

I have been in deep thought since Christian and I spoke last.  All he wants is me, nothing more.  All of his spoiling and nagging and controlling are a small cost to learn how to love and be loved, don’t you think?  Yes, I really do think you are right.  Thank fuck for that.  It’s about fucking time.

I finished my latest manuscript when the phone rings.  I wanted to chew glass when it ends up being Kate quizzing me about Christian.

“Ok Steele, I want the deets.  Why is Mr. Moneybags kicking up his heels overseas and you’re stuck here working your fingers to the bone.  Did that fucker not have enough courtesy to ask you to go with him?  The bastard is everywhere and you’re stuck here in dreary ole’ Seattle.”  Nice friend you got there.

“Kate, Christian had a business deal to finish, that is why he went to Taiwan.  As for me, I have to work.  I had just started at SIP when he left.  I could not up and fly away the first chance I got.”

“Why the hell not?  It’s the least that conceited son of a bitch could do for you.”  Is it my imagination or is she growling?  SHE’S GROWLING AND SHE BETTER FUCK OFF!

“Kate, what the fuck’s all the yelling about?  Who’s on the phone?”  I can hear Elliott in the background.  For once he does not sound happy.

“I’m talking with Ana and I’m yelling because your conceited, arrogant, aloof, control freak of a brother is in Asia while my friend is stuck in Seattle alone.  Humph.”  I do not like the grumbling I hear in the background then all of a sudden I hear Elliott bellowing.

“If you don’t stop badmouthing my brother Katherine Kavanaugh, YOU will be alone!  I’ve told you a hundred times, I can’t control whom you like and whom you don’t like, but you will respect my family or else you can KICK…FUCKING…ROCKS!  GET IT?”  WOW!  You go Lelliott, you finally grew a set.  It’s about time.  That haughty whore needed to be put in her place a LONG time ago.

“Got it.”  You can barely hear Kate’s voice.  She sounds like a severely chastened, very small child.

“Good.  Now give me the motherfucking phone.”  He is still snarling at her.  WOO HOO!  I wish Grey could hear this.  He’d fucking jump for joy.  This shit IS priceless.

“Anastasia”, it is a statement, not a question.  ANASTASIA!  Whoa, you’re in the shit now kid.  I did not know Elliott knew my full name.  He has never uses it.

“Hi Elliott, how are you?”  I try to keep my voice light.

“Don’t give me any bullshit Anastasia.  Where’s my brother, how long has he been gone and why aren’t you with him?”  Crickets.  You can actually hear crickets on the line while Elliott waits for my response.

“Well…you see Elliott…he went to Taiwan on business about a months ago and…” I did not get to finish the thought that went with my sentence when all of a sudden I swear I hear a sonic boom.

“A MOTHERFUCKING MONTH?!?  A MOTHERFUCKING MONTH AND YOU DON’T THINK TO LET ONE OF US KNOW?!?”  I do not think I can breathe.  Elliott is panting on the other end of the line, like a really big dog is chasing him.

“Elliott,” I try to reason with him, “Christian is a grown man, you know.  He told me he spoke with your mother and told her where he was going.  So, someone besides me knew where he was.  Ros also knows where he is and how to contact him so you do not have to get all bent out of shape about it.”

“Anastasia,” still on the Anastasia kick huh?  “Christian never stays away on a true business trip for more than a week, maybe two if the deal is really big and that was BEFORE he met you.  The only other time he went overseas and stayed for any length of time was after he dropped out of Harvard and then he was in France and the Caribbean.   Those are the places he loves.  For him to be across the pond, anywhere other than in France or on French related territory for any length of time, means bad news.  I don’t care what pictures he’s in or what sites he sees, this isn’t good.”  Elliott’s voice sounds grave and pained.

Did I do this to Christian?  I pushed him away.  All he wants to do is be there for me, to support me in my endeavors.  What is wrong with me?  When did I become prideful and unyielding?

“…you have my heart baby.  You gave me everything I was searching for and more.”

All he wants is you.

GREY

“Anastasia Rose Steele, I love you.  I want to love, cherish and protect you for the rest of my life.  Be mine, always.  Share my life with me.  Marry me.”

Ana, baby…where are you?

Here I am Christian…turn around.

Baby, where are you?  I cannot find you.  Please Ana, you are scaring me.

I am right here Christian…over here baby.

I cannot find her.  I can hear my Ana’s voice clearly, but I cannot see her anywhere.  I am wandering through darkness.  I know she is out there somewhere, but I cannot see her.

Please Ana, where are you.

Here I am pet…come and see Mistress…it is time to play.

OH, MY GOD NO!

I sit straight up in bed; sweat pouring off of me like a waterfall.  My hands are shaking and the room is spinning.

I cover my face with my hands.  “Not again, please, not again.”  I have had the same dream every night since I talked to Ana.  I hear her soft melodic voice calling out for me to find her.  I turn to where I think the sound is coming from, but she is not there.  This repeats several times until…

The vermin invades my consciousness.  I do not see the salacious slut.  However, her despicable voice is unmistakable.  First, I can feel the restraints tighten around my wrists and ankles then I can feel the lashes rain down on my bare chest and back then I hear her demand that I count.

You disappoint me Pet.  I taught you better than to release before I give you permission.  Have I not instructed you about this, about how to maintain control?

Yes mistress.

My voice sounds young. I remember all too well, this is my first real punishment, the beginning of my end.  At school, I spent the morning fantasizing about Elena’s mouth and how wonderful her lips felt stroking my cock while her tongue slid back and forth along its underside.  I had a boner for most of the day and I could not wait until playtime.  Needless to say, I was overly aroused.  When Elena started her control exercises, my cock twitched a few times then I came fast and hard.  I was out of breath and I knew a punishment would follow my transgression.  Up until that day, spanking was the only form of punishment I received.  I soon began to learn the depravity of this new lifestyle.

She shackled my wrists and ankles so tightly to the bare, stone, walls of her dungeon that my fingers and toes started to go numb.  What Elena had could in no way be termed as a playroom.  She blindfolded me and chastised me the entire time for being weak and unable to control my body.

This is your first lesson in our world Pet.  If you cannot control your body physically, you are doomed never to control it metaphysically.  Life is a game Pet, a playroom session with never ending scenes.  In stressful or even painful situations you must detach yourself from your feelings.  Once your emotions are under control, you can proceed with the best course of action for the situation at hand.  Call to mind the benefits gain here, with me; file those away for future reference.  You will learn my Pet.  I will teach you to be the Master of your Universe and my submissive.

Worst of all, I can feel the pain and fear I masked as pleasure and desire for so long.  Elena is here, in my dreams.  I do not know why and it scares the shit out of me.

I remember commenting to Flynn that my dreams always seem to focus on the negative occurrences in my life.  After I met Ana, the dreams lessened, although I have them when things are not right between she and I.  They serve as a reminder of how it felt to be abandoned, unloved and unable to love.  My dreams are a stark reminder of the possible consequences of my actions.    Then I end up back at square one.  Flynn told me to pay attention to my dreams.  Although he seem them as some ‘unfinished business’ my mind is struggling to sort through.  Flynn maintains that once I know what that something is, I can face it and move on.   We definitely struggled through our association with that abominable creature haven’t we?

I need my Ana.  I need my lifeline.

SaveSave

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 4 Work Is My Therapy

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