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Can’t We Just Be Happy

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 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

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