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

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

Chapter 27 | You’re Home!?

GREY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Got it.

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

He is quite witty isn’t he.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I told you Dar…”

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

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

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

THAT BITCH! WHAT THE FUCK?!

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

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

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

Dumb bitch.

She’s watching me too.

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

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

SECOND

“Liar!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why does Mistress hate her?

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

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

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

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

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

GREY

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

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

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

Ring…Buzzzz…Buzz-Buzz…

“Daddy”…

“Grey!”…

“Hi Emmett…”

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

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

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

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

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

“Christian?!…” Oh shit, Grace.

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

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

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

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

Shut the fuck up dude!

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

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

Oh shit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everett never ceases to amaze me.

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

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

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

“Gentlemen.” Saved by my Baby.

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

You were getting along pretty well until…

I know dammit. Shut the fuck up.

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

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

He fucked up again. Rescue him.  Fast.

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

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

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

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

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

I sigh, “Good night Everett.”

Good job Grey. You did it again.

Shut. The fuck. Up.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ahhh.” Is all she can say.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

He’s related to you…use caution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No doubt.

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

“I’m awake now” she hisses. “Yessss…”

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 25 Relatives

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

Chapter 25 | Relatives

EVERETT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what she was talking about Ev.

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

“She who?” He snaps.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re off topic Ev.

Oh yeah…um, what was the question again?

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

Shut up, I’m busy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not a bad thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guess he’s more into family than you thought.

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

Granddad Emmett is a sight to see.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Christopher. Do you know my son Christian?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


EVERETT

Merci Dieu| Thank you God.

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

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

Chapter 24 | One Down

GREY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know, he thinks he understands.

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

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

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

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

“ELLIOTT!” Whew! Finally…silence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh merde.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STOP!

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

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

No she’s not. She…

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

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

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

I already know what she’ll say.

Do you? What will she say?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She loves you putz.

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

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

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

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

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

“Would you be more comfortable in here?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Well, here goes.”

EVERETT

Ok Ev, it’s now or never.

Why does never seem rather inviting right now?

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

Easy for you to say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just follow my instructions and don’t do it.

Fine!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the fuck?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes Dad.” What happened to my Cousin?

I look at Christian, “I apologize Christian.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


GREY

Merci Père céleste
Thank you Heavenly Father

Cher Dieu NON!
Dear God, NO!

ELLIOTT’S SERENADE

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

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 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 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 16 Our Spot

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

Chapter 16 | Our Spot

ELLA

“Good evening gentlemen, Ella.”  Granddad is always so formal.  So much so that at some point during a conversation with him you find yourself sounding the same way, unless, however, you are a member of the Brat Pack [1].  My three brothers take nothing seriously unless it affects them directly, which this conversation will.  Since Christian deduced we’re related, Granddad is going to tell the Three Amigos [2] the same thing and how it affects them…directly.

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

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

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

“Yeah, you look a little under the weather ole man?”

SHIT Everett, you dumb bastard!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is gonna be messy.

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

Granddad sits back in his chair with a shit-eating grin on his face.  He clasps his hands in front of his face, steeples his index fingers and rests them on his lips, it’s not enough to hide the smile residing there.  Then again, who the fuck said he had to hide his smile?

I know I wouldn’t.

You can hear a gnat gasp for breath in the room it’s so fucking quiet.

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

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

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

“Time to infuse some reality into the situation.  Standing in front of the two comedians, with my hands fisted on my hips and tapping my toe I reprimand my father, “Daddy, that is not nice, they are your sons after all.”  I chastise him.  One would think he didn’t care for the Three Stooges [3], I know better, but it really does look bad.  “It is in poor taste to behave this way Daddy and you know it.”  We have work to do and this shit is getting on my nerves.

Now the Peanut Gallery [4] pipes in, “Oh Ellie, let your father have his moment.  They had it coming to them, in spades.  They will be fortunate if I do not vote them out of EB all together.”  Granddad isn’t bullshitting about that one.  All’s fair in love and money with him and it is always survival of the fittest.

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

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

Now THAT is hilarious.

Truly.

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


Ring…Ring…

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

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

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

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


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

Thinking about all the times we’ve met here brings me to the verge of tears.  Good, bad or indifferent Liam has been my ear to bend, my brain to pick and my shoulder to lean on.  Even when there were various skanks in his life, I would always bite the bullet and meet him here to talk, or to fight, whichever was necessary at the time.

Boy, we’ve had some doozies here.

Before I know it, I feel his warm body behind me then his strong arms around me.  “Have you been here long?”  He says softly in my ear.  I simply shake my head, never turning around to look at him.

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

Even upside-down, Liam is yummy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hear a distant sigh and remember I’m not alone.  “I apologize Liam.  My intention was to tell you that Christian knows he’s related to us.  The reason for my closeness to him all of this time was to keep him protected so he would feel comfortable here in Townsville.  He and I became fast friends and that’s the reason we spent so much time together.  As for the pictures, you know the paparazzi.  Getting a shot of the elusive Ella Brown and the enigmatic Christian Grey were jackpots.  Granddad didn’t have the photos stopped because he decided it was an easy way to keep the hyenas at bay.”  I smile to myself.

Anastasia never had a thing to worry about, but it’s good she did come to be with him because he needed her, no doubt.  There was no way any bitch was getting close to  my cousin.  I wouldn’t have allowed it.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GREY

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

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

How cute is that?  Yes Dear…

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

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

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

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

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

I told you it was a stupid mov…

Whatever.

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

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

Get your shit together Grey, let’s go.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This bastard’s got some fucking nerve.

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

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

Prick.

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

Who IS this son of a bitch?

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

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

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

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

Wait a fucking second.  Where did that come from?

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

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

Oh no mutherfucker…not my girl.

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

ELLA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh shit.

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

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

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

GREY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fine, I huff at myself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

[4] Peanut Gallery is a group of people who criticize someone, often by focusing on insignificant details

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 13 Now, We Can Proceed

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

Chapter 13 | Now, We Can Proceed

ELLA

“Good evening Granddad, how are you?”  I walk over to my grandfather who is sitting behind his huge mahogany desk.  He’s owned that thing for as long as I can remember.  It reminds me of the movie The Godfather.  Seeing how he speaks several different languages fluently I expect him to get pissed at my brothers one day and burst out in his best Sicilian to tell them how fucking stupid they are.

“I am well Ellie.  Is your father with you?”  Granddad asks, looking at his watch.

My eyes widen and I shake my head for emphasis, “No, I thought he would be here already.  He was so eager for this meeting I thought he would beat me here.”

“One would…” The door opens, interrupting my grandfather.

“…think, yes I know Dad.  Good evening Ellie.”  My father saunters into my grandfather’s study and kisses me on the cheek; he’s late.  Granddad doesn’t do late, ever, and he doesn’t forget when someone is late.

Granddad clears his throat, “Well, now that we are all here.”  He takes a moment to glare at my father.  “I have some questions.”

Turning to me, Granddad asks, “Ella, is she here?”

“Yes Granddad, she arrived early this morning.  He was there to meet her, even ran up the steps to the cabin door.  I burst out laughing.  They look wonderful together too.  She really does look like me.  You cannot tell from the photos, you have to see her in person.  It seemed uncanny.”

“Yes, I believe those blue eyes did it to him.  Lord knows that is what attracted me to your grandmother.”  He smiles, as he always does when he remembers my grandmother.  She died before I was born, but I’ve seen numerous photos of her.  I wish I could have met her, his one true love.

Sigh.

“They went back to the house and have not left, yet.  I believe he will be at the committee meeting tonight.  It is the last one before the event.  I do not know if she will accompany him or not.”  For both their sake I really hope he skips the damn meeting.  My brothers behaved so badly at the last meeting, I’ll have to take them down in public if they harass him or her at that meeting.

“Well, do not expect her to arrive and if she does, make sure those imbeciles you so affectionately refer to as brothers… leave…her…the fuck…alone.  They were not supposed to bother him and look what happened.” I nod in agreement.  He’s right.  The Bowery Boys have made things more difficult than they already were; if that’s even possible. [1]

“Yes, if need be, I will handle them.”  I look directly at my father.  All he does is nod his consent.  He knows some of the story.

“Like I said, she is here and they look happy.  This is a wonderful place for them to reconcile and move forward.  We can only hope for the best.  I have not told him…”  Before I can finish my sentence, my father chimes in.

“Are you certain it is him?  Looks do not mean everything.”  Here we go.  I hold up my hand to stop my father.  My dad isn’t really worried about the validity of our information; he knows we’re careful.  Daddy is wary of the reaction the situation will garner.  My father hates rejection and can behave poorly when confronted with it.  Seems to be a family trait.

“I know that better than you do Daddy.  First, yes I am certain, second, I will tell him whether you like it or not and third, the fellas need to know as well…after I tell him of course.”  Those selfish little bastard brothers of mine need to be removed as well, but that is not my call.  Pity actually.

I turn toward my grandfather, “Granddad, I truly believe she should be with him when we speak.  She has a soothing affect on him.  It really is amazing.”  I sigh.  Looking at the two of them is like watching Cinderella and Prince Charming.  I can only wish for that kind of love to find me one day.

“I agree, they should be told together and they should be told here.  I want to be able to show him proof.  He does not appear to be the trusting sort so I am certain he will want cold, hard facts to back up your claim Ella.”  I wish this could just be accepted at face value.  It’s not like we want anything from him.  If nothing else, he will increase his fortune exponentially.  But I know Granddad is right.  We have to be able to prove ourselves.

“I have all of that.  My daughter was not in the best way at the end of her life, but she was still my daughter.  She knew the importance of documentation and she knew her son would one day need to know.  I have all of the proof we need.”  My grandfather somehow managed to get evidence I never knew it was possible to have.  He really outdid himself on this one.  He would not destroy the proof because he recognized others would want to see it and verify its authenticity.

“Ahem,” ever the diplomat, “Dad, have you considered how his family will respond to this news?  This can be misinterpreted as our trying to drive a wedge between them.  We don’t want him to close the lines of communication based on reaction from…” we all know he’s speaking from experience, but at this moment experience doesn’t seem to have taught my grandfather a fucking thing.

With a distinct and blatant disregard for my father’s intention my grandfather states, “I do not give a fuck if he speaks to us again or not.  He must know his position and know his entitlement.  Afterward, if he wants to denounce the Brown family then that is his right.  However, he will have been told and my documentation will be available.  Ella, you will be responsible for following through with my wishes when the time comes.”  I furrow my brow at that subject.  I always do.  He knows how I feel.

Granddad softens his feathers before telling me, “Little one, I know you had your heart set on the sea, but you will step up at EB and you will make him do the same or I will haunt you all for the remainder of your lives.”  He gives me a devilish grin and a wink.  Granddad is always promising to haunt someone when he wants his way.  The only problem is, we know for a fact it’s true, that’s why it’s so effective.  I swallow hard and nod my head.

“Emmett, what about The Interference?  What is its status?”  My grandfather cannot wait to be rid of that, quite frankly neither can I.

My father’s grey eyes flash with anger, as he growls, “No change in position Dad and no change in status either.  In fact the entire State of Washington should pay homage once this is done.”

I gasp, “What?  You mean still?  That has to stop.”  I look frantically between my father and my grandfather.  “Granddad, is there anything we can do right away…anything at all?”

Granddad shakes his head regretfully.  “No Love, we cannot, but in time.  The Interference will go…period.”


“Good evening ladies and gentlemen.  I call this meeting to order.  We only have a few loose ends to tie up; therefore, in lieu of time we will only need reports from those committee members.”

“First we will hear from Logistics, then Audio/Visual and finally Security.”  Eran looks around for Christian.  I was glad he and Anastasia skipped the meeting.  I can’t blame him for not brining her here, or coming himself.  He just reconciled with the love of his life and he’s afraid I’ll frighten her away.  I’m certain of that and I understand his position entirely.  This is when I wish he knew the truth about us.

Then there are the barracudas in the room.  Seems like the whole Brown clan is here.  Eran and Emerson invited Everett to this meeting.  I guess they thought I was kidding when I told them what I’d do should they continue to harass Christian.

I can guaran-fucking-tee you gentlemen I was not bullshitting.  Big brother can’t always save you.

I see Mr. Taylor has been assigned to discuss security for the event.  This should be interesting.  “It seems Mr. Grey has decided not to attend this evening.  Does anyone have his report?”  Eran looks at me as if to say ‘well, where the fuck is he’.  I shake my head and look at Mr. Taylor.

Eran follows my line of sight then asks, “Sir, are you here in Mr. Grey’s place?”  Taylor simply nods his head once.  “Will you please introduce yourself and give us an update on the progress of the Security Committee?”

Taylor clears his throat, “My name is Jason Taylor.  I am the Head Security Officer for Grey Enterprise Holdings.  The Security Committee enlisted five hundred personnel total.  We were instructed that one hundred individuals were necessary; however, after confirming the number of RSVPs then surveying the venue and its surrounding area, we opted to increase the number and have backup details available.”  Eran looks a little disappointed in Taylor’s progress.  I know he was hoping Christian would fail to find qualified security.  I heard Er and Em plotting how to approach Granddad about vetting and hiring security personnel.  I rolled my eyes at them.  I could have told them how to do that, but no…don’t ask the little girl surrounded by men her entire life.  Whatever.

“This document” Taylor holds up a packet of papers, “lists the names of vetted men and women awaiting instruction from you, Mr. Brown, and/or the Logistics Committee Chairman.”  Taylor raises ad eyebrow at Eran then the fucker looks at me.  Oh I can see Taylor’s in line for a good old fashion cussing out before long and I’ll be only too happy to oblige him.

Begrudgingly Eran says, “Thank you Mr. Taylor.  We appreciate your contribution to our endeavor.  Now, Logistics.”  And off we go to the rest of this pointless fucking meeting.  I think I’ll go home and change then have an evening by Rowes Bay.  This’ll prove to be a ‘fun filled’ weekend.  I can feel it now.

“…very good.  We will schedule a wrap-up meeting in approximately two weeks then we will be finished.  Meeting adjourned.  See you all at the event.”  Good, now to get the fuck out of here.  I almost run out of the meeting room when I hear.  “Not so quick Miss Brown.”  Bastard.

I turn around slowly with a smile on my face.  There big brother stands, summoning me over to him.  Taylor stopped by the door as if he were invited to the melee.  Everett and Emerson immediately flank him.  They each stand a head taller than Taylor and are much bigger.  Sometimes the fellas actually come in handy.  I really do want to laugh at Taylor.

Love, you have no idea just how outnumbered you are.  We have been known to stop fighting each other, gang up on an intruder in our argument then go back to kicking each other’s assess.  We may fight with each other…a lot, but we’ll fight for each other…always.

Taylor, wisely, leaves the room.  The boys close the door after him then Er descends on me.  “What the fuck gives Ellie?  Where was the bastard?  And who the fuck is the buzz-cut he sent over here?  I want some…” THAT’S IT!

“FREEZE Eran Rockhold-Brown!  First of all, Grey is a grown man and it’s not my job to keep him.  Forward your attendance questions to him directly or to his minion who you two,” I turn and point at Everett and Emerson, “so weakly tried to intimidate.  You wanted a security update and it sounds like you got what you wanted so why the fuck are you pestering me?”  I stand with my arms crossed daring him to start some shit.

“Something is going on with you two and we,” he gestures between the Three Amigos, “want to know what it is.  We have a right…” Oh Good Lord, not this shit again.

“PAUSE!  You have no right to anything in my life.  Any piece of information I deign to share with any of you should be considered a treasure.  Ergo, piss off, the lot of you!”  I turn sharply and proceed to march to the door of the conference room.  And of course Thing 1 and Thing 2 think they can prevent me from leaving.

If they touch a piece of lint on my shirt I will stomp the shit out of them and they know it.  In the quiet whispering groan that we all use when we get pissed I announce, “One move.  That’s all it’ll take for me to go absolutely, fucking ape-shit on YOUR ASS!”  I turn back to Eran and point.

“I have no idea why you all are intimidated by that man, but you had best put on your big boy boxers and get over it.  He’s a community member.  He’s established a lucrative business here and it seems he’s enjoying his stay, despite the three of you.  In the event he wishes to leave Townsville, I’m certain he knows his way to the airport.  Until he decides to no longer grace us with his presence, GO THE FUCK AWAY AND LEAVE HIM THE HELL ALONE!”  I shout so loud my voice can be heard echoing out in the hallway.  With that, my brothers move out of my way and I proceed to exit the building.


“Stay away from him!”  What the fuck?  I know I have the most confused look on my face as I stand facing my car.  One I’m surprised anyone is still out here and two, who the fuck does this man think he is?  I recognize the voice as that of Mr. Jason Taylor.

What the fuck is this, a testosterone convention?

I don’t bother to turn around to face him.  “Good evening Mr. Taylor.  Is there something in particular you would like to discuss with me?”  I spread the nicety on as thick as possible.  This bastard is threatened because my security checks proved better than his.  That’s easy to see.  If he worked for Granddad he would be six feet under for the shit he missed and could only speculate at.  It’s inexcusable.

“I said stay away from Mr. Grey.  He has a wonderful woman in his life and he does not need some gold-digging whore traipsing around after him.”  My eyes have popped out of my head.  This bastard has the moxie to think I am after Christian’s money.  Yeah, this fucker would not make it at EB, Pty that’s for damn sure.  His deductive reasoning is non-existent.

I’m not going to entertain this conversation.  My back is still turned toward him and I am praying he lays a hand on me.  He’s sorely underestimated me, like men always do.  I just want to see the shadow of his hand near my face and he’ll need a medic.

“STEP AWAY FROM THE YOUNG LADY YOU FUCKER!”  I look up to see the Bowery Boys standing to my right, a few feet from my car followed by another distinct voice.

“Mr. Jason Taylor I presume.”  I don’t bother to turn around.  I know from the smiles on my brothers’ faces and the smooth sound of the voice, it’s Daddy.  My father always starts out professionally, a genial greeting, even a handshake, but if you’re not responsive to his business persona, all etiquette goes out the fucking window.

“Mr. Taylor, I know you are not hard of hearing so you are well aware of my sons’ statement and my direct address.  I strongly recommend, sir, that you accept my salutation and shake my hand.  Should you decide against that, I do not want or need my sons assistance to rectify this matter.”  My brothers and I are chuckling quietly.  Our father is only this dramatic when he is pissed beyond recognition.

Granddad tried to teach us not to swing first, which was difficult when that’s still his first reaction.  He did manage to school us in the “proper way” to handle a situation, especially one that goes out of control.  Rule one, know your opponent, rule two, know your surroundings and rule three, walk, don’t run, away.  We say it all of the time, it’s almost like a family motto…we really are a sneaky bunch.

To his credit, I sense Taylor turning around and, I presume, shaking my father’s hand.  Poor sot, he has no idea what was going to hit him.  I hear the handcuff snap onto Taylor’s wrist.  I know the next moves.  I have used them myself.  Daddy has spun Taylor around, to face away from my father then clamped the other wrist with a cuff.  This is followed by a swift kick of his feet so he looses balance and ends up face down on the pavement with my father’s foot in his back.  I would have loved to see the look on Mr. Head of Security at GEH’s face as it all occurred.

I never turned around.  Then, I heard footsteps and saw my brothers’ eyes grow wide.  No need to fret, it’s just Granddad.  I wonder what he wants.  I told him I would handle Christian should he decide to attend this meeting.  These men are getting on my nerves.

I wonder, do they make pills to counteract testosterone surges?  These guys could do with a monthly dose.  Pissing contests be damned.

“Good evening Love.  How was the meeting?”  Really Granddad?  He’s so sweet sounding I want to bark laughing, but instead I turn around and smile brightly.

“Good evening Daddy, Granddad, what on Earth brings you out this evening?  Surely not this.”  I point at the now prone figure on the pavement beneath me.

“No Love”, Granddad smiles.  “You know why we are here.  Judging by the present company,” he looks down at Taylor and raises a brow, “I take it all was for naught.”  I nod.  “Pity.” He shakes his head as he gazes down at the silent victim on the ground.

By now, all of the Browns have converged on Mr. Jason Taylor who has been extremely quiet throughout this exchange.  Wise choice Taylor.  It would’ve been nice to see him run that arrogant yap of his though.  I would’ve loved to see the show.  Daddy makes doling out a good old-fashioned ass kicking look effortless.

“Mr. Taylor” my granddad has stepped forward, “I do not know what type of security you are used to, but things are very different here.  Do not approach my relatives in a hostile manner ever again.  We have no issue with you or your employer and we do not appreciate your antagonism.  Do I make myself clear Mr. Taylor?”  This really is funny.  I won’t need to distress by the bay after this show.

Taylor simply nods, he doesn’t try to look up, but that’s enough for Granddad.  The toddler section always wants eye contact and verbal confirmation they were heard, but Granddad and Daddy drilled into my head when there is no need for noise, don’t make any.  Taylor gets it.

Daddy and Granddad each kiss my forehead goodbye then, I get in my car and drive away.


Since her arrival, Christian and Anastasia have been all over Townsville.  They even took time out to go to Magnetic Island, the National Park there is wonderful.  I’m hopeful she’ll stay here for a good while.  She really is good for him.

Naturally, I’ve maintained my distance from them both and radio silence from Christian.  I saw Christian at the coffee shop the other day and made sure to keep walking past.  I shake my head and tell myself, “Sorry Love, my job is almost finished” I can only hope I still have a friend when this is all over.

Once I let him know the sordid tale then I’m sure he and Anastasia will be on their way back to Seattle.  I’ll miss him.  I wish I had met Anastasia.  She seems like a beautiful woman and I’m very glad she came here of her own accord.  He really needed her.  It’s wonderful to see him smile.  I mean truly smile, from his heart.  He looks so young and carefree.

Striking resemblance.

Family trait.

I didn’t want to do any of this in public.  I’ll invite them to the family home for brunch after the beach party and we can take it from there.  The three blind mice should still be out whoring around town so the timing can’t be better.  Granddad will sit his grandsons down when we’ve finished our conversation with Christian and deal with those fireworks later.  This is going to be an interesting weekend.

GREY

I wake up to the most wonderful feeling in the world.  Ana and I are spooning in bed.  My hands are on her firm breasts kneading them gently and occasionally pinching her nipples.  With each pinch, she wiggles her beautiful ass against my cock making me smile in anticipation.

I move to lick the shell of her ear before whispering, “Mmm, Miss Steele, good morning.  Did you sleep well?”  She doesn’t nod and she does not open her eyes, but I can see her smile.  I pull her closer to me, put my hand on her stomach, to hold her in place then grind my dick on her bare ass.  While she moans her appreciation, I trail kisses from her ear down her neck to her shoulder then back again, ending at that delightful spot behind her ear.

I can’t keep my hands off of her body.  One hand is still squeezing her breast and pinching her nipple while the other moves down from her stomach to her waist, over her hip to the back of her thigh.  I push her top leg forward and slide my cock into the crevice between her ass and her lovely folds.  Back and forth, back and forth, of course my baby is wet and ready for me and I love the feel of her juices spreading over my throbbing cock.  She feels too good not to fuck.  With no preamble, I slide quickly and quietly into her holding myself still for a moment; she grinds against me again making me gasp.  “Ah…Baby…that feels…ah…I can’t take…ah, yeah Baby just like that.  Don’t stop.”

She still doesn’t open her eyes, but makes a primal sound deep in her throat while following my command.  Holding myself up on my arms is almost impossible.  My head falls forward and I begin kissing her bicep, her shoulder then around to her pert nipple that’s standing all alone waiting for my lips, my tongue, my teeth.  I won’t thrust into her…yet.  I want to enjoy her grinding on me while I stay firmly in place.  I lave her nipple with my tongue then suck…hard.  “Oh Christian, I’ve missed you” that’s my cue.  I sit up and pull her onto my lap, her back to my front.

My hands resume their original task of fondling her beautiful breasts and pinching her taunt nipples, while I kiss her neck.  I begin to thrust into harder and harder, wrapping my arms around her waist and hold her tightly to me.  She gasps loudly and throws her head back against my shoulder.  Her long dark hair cascades down my back and sends a rush through me.  I bite down on the skin of Ana’s ivory neck and thrust into her again and again and again.  She pants, “Ahh, Christian!”

I slow myself down and slowly slide my cock back out of her while I whisper in her ear, “You like, my Sweet?  There’s more. There’s always more for you.”  When she nods, I slam back into her holding her in place on my lap.  I whisper again, “More baby?  Do you want more of me?”  Unable to speak, she nods quickly and grinds that fabulous ass against my pelvis.  It feels like we could go on forever.

Then, I feel it.  Her pussy begins to pulse and tighten more around me, squeezing me, holding me inside of her, begging me to go on.  “NO Anastasia, not yet!”  I want more of her.

I slowly pull out, turn her over and lay her down on her back on the bed.  As I lay on top of her, she wraps her arms around my neck and her legs around my waist.  We kiss deeply, as if our lives depend on one another.  Her tongue tastes sweet and her lips are plump and soft and delicious.  “I love you Anastasia.  I only ever loved you.”

“And I you Christian.  I have missed you so much.  You mean the world to me.  I’ll never let anything come between us again.”  I groan at her words and slowly slide into her heavenly core again.  She’s so soft and warm and drenching wet, all for me.   She’s mine.  She’ll always be mine.  That thought causes my dick to grow harder and my balls begin to tighten.

Her legs loosen their hold on my waist and I slide my elbows underneath her knees and shrug her legs up onto my shoulders.  I rise up on my arms and sink deeper into her.  “Oh God Ana.  Yes Baby, fuck me…that’s right, grind on me just like that Baby.  Oh fffuuuccckkk…yeeesss!”

As I pump into her I can feel her getting wetter and wetter.  Soon, I can feel her sweat mix with mine and feel her juices run down my stomach.  “Do not stop Christian.  Faster Christian… faster…harder Christian…yyyeeesss.  That’s right.  Just like that.  That’s the spot.  Keep it right there.  Oh SHIT!”

I love when she tells me exactly what she wants.  Her wish is my command.  I thrust harder and she meets me stoke for stroke.  I feel her hands on my ass, pushing me balls deep into her.  “Deeper Baby, deeper…feel all of me Baby…more Ana, gimme more.”  I say in her ear.

Her legs locked around my neck, her nails digging into my ass and I am ramming into her with everything I have.  Then, I feel it again.  Her walls start to tremble around my cock.  When my dick twitches in response it becomes a challenge.  How much longer can she last?  How much longer can I last?

“Open your eyes Anastasia, I have to see you Baby.  Look at me Ana.  She opens her beautiful blues that are now almost black, dilated from pure lust.  We stare into each other’s eyes almost unseeing, like two wild animals in heat.  Finally, we say those magic words in unison, “Come for me Baby!”  The feeling is intense, very intense.  Her back rises off of the bed, pushing her breasts into my chest.  Her mouth falls open soundlessly.  I grit my teeth and clinch my jaw.  My cock explodes pouring hot streams of my seed deep into her.  I see stars and flashes of light then…darkness.

I open my eyes to her showering me with kisses and holding me tightly against her.  “I can never tell you how much I love you Christian.”  She whispers to me.  “I can never tell you how sorry I am for pushing you away.”

I raise my head and look straight into her baby blues.  “Ana, Baby, you’re here, I’m here and that’s all that matters.  We still have some things to talk about, but as long as we have each other, everything will be fine.  No need to apologize anymore Baby.  I’m not going anywhere without you.”  I smile as brightly as I can, hoping to dispel her insecurities.

I only ever need my Ana.


“Baby, what would you like to do today?  Remember, we have the beach party this evening so we can just hang out around here unless you have your heart set on going somewhere.”  I love how effortless things are here.  No calling ahead to check a venue, no closing down stores so she can shop, which she rarely does anyway.  Simply put, nothing over the top.

“Don’t you have to get with Taylor and arrange for us to go out?”  She looks surprised when I shake my head no.

“Nope,” I pop my ‘p’, “just get up and go.  I told you, no one knows us here and even if they do, they don’t give a fuck.  It’s been like this since I set foot in Townsville.  I almost feel invisible here.  Like nothing and no one could touch me even if they wanted.  No women batting their eyelashes or drooling as I pick my nose, no one stuttering when they try to answer my question and no one staring as if I had two heads and a tail on backward.”  It was strange to me at first, almost unnerving, but once I began to relax I forgot security was not around.

She walks over and puts her arms around my neck, “In that case, I would like a tour of the new GEH office.”

“That is a given, but not today.  No work, remember?”  She nods.  “If there’s nowhere else you want to go, then we can lounge about until the party.”

She pokes her bottom lip out in an oh so cute little pout.  I love it.  “Well, then we can always talk.”

OH FUCK!  Talking, again…REALLY?  Doesn’t that shit ever get old to her?

I flop down on the couch, cover my face with my hands and sigh deeply, resigned to my fate.  “Can we at least talk about sex?”  I peek out at her with a hopeful expression, only to see Ana shaking her head no emphatically.  “Dammit.”

“What was that Mr. Grey?  I don’t believe I heard you.  Would you repeat that last statement please?”  I don’t know what she is playing at but I am not falling so easily.

“Smart-ass.”  I mumble, “What shall we talk about then Dear?”  I say as sweetly as I can.

“Well, let’s see” she taps her finger against her bottom lip and I have visions of licking her there instead “…there’s your family, your return to Seattle, the wedding and that letter.”

Oh shit, I forgot.  “The letter, where is it?”  I begin to retrace our steps to the bedroom.  I don’t remember where we laid the damn thing.  “Where did you lay it Ana?  We need to see whom it’s from.”

“Christian!”  I immediately halt my search.

“Let’s take these things in the order of importance, ok?”  I nod slowly with a stunned look on my face I’m certain.

I didn’t realize there was an agenda for this meeting.

“Good…your family.  Have you called them lately?”  She’s standing with her arms crossed over her chest, leaning against the bedroom door jam.

Why does she look so fucking sexy?

Down boy, remember, we’re talking?

FUCK!, Alright have it her way, but make this shit quick…I’ve got other plans.

I ignore him and respond to Ana, “I talk with Carrick weekly and Grace every two weeks.  Tomorrow night will be their joint call.  You’re more than welcome to join in the interrogation.”  I grumble like a sulky teenager, but I don’t care.  I’m a fucking, grown-ass man who has to call Mommy and Daddy on a regular basis.  Why?  I didn’t talk to them this much when I was away at Harvard.

“That’s a good idea and please, loose the tude.  They care about you and miss you terribly.”  I don’t comment.

Good boy.  Hold your tongue Grey.

“Now, how about Seattle?  When do you plan on going back?”  I look at her astonished.  She’s really serious about this going back to Seattle thing.

Who in the fuck said we wanted to go back to that Hellhole?  That place is the definition of trouble anymore.  That old sack of shit bitch is there and she won’t leave us alone.  Why would we go back to the doom and gloom of Seattle when we have sea, sun and splendor all around us right here?

I have to be honest, “Ana,” I can feel the sweat forming on my brow, “uh, honestly, I don’t know that I ever want to return to Seattle permanently.  I know I’ll have to go there on business, but to live…well, I can’t say.  Other than you and my family, there’s only stress, strain and heartache in Seattle.

“I know I made the art of tolerating my lifestyle look easy, but…I like my newfound freedom.  I like not having security looking over my shoulder.  I like people nodding hello and continuing on their way.  No one gives me a second glance here.  It’s fucking fabulous!  You, of all people, should appreciate those sentiments.”  Based on her look of astonishment, I guess the answer is no.

“Baby, why would I go back to that?  Can’t you feel the difference between Townsville and Seattle?  It’s in the air, the sun and the water.  You can even feel it in the sand under your feet.  I don’t want to go back to Seattle; not right now at least.”

She shakes her head and takes on the tone of a parent trying to reason with a small child. “Christian, you can’t stay here.  What about me, about us?  I can’t move to Australia.  I have a job that I love.  How can you ask me to walk away from that?”

Oh not this shit again.  Where’s that hole we wanted to crawl into?  Can the Earth open up and swallow us now…please?

I slowly approach her with a weary look on my face.  “Ana, stop, Baby please, stop.  I don’t know how we’ll deal with your job and my living in Australia.  If you really don’t want to move here, unless I want to live the reminder of my days without you, which I don’t, then I’ll have to go back to Seattle.”  That response didn’t seem to appease her though.

What the fuck else does she want?  We’re willing to walk away from peace and solitude and she still looks pissy.

“Ana, you want honesty right Baby? “  She nods.

“Ana, in my heart of hearts, I don’t want to go back to Seattle.  I’m not trying to be mean, I’m not trying to pressure you and I’m definitely not trying to control you.  I only know that for my own peace of mind, I can’t go back there, I just can’t.”  Here’s our crossroad.  I’m going to lose her for sure now.  There’s no way in Hell she’ll move around the world for me and I can’t expect her to.  I don’t expect her to.  By the same token, she can’t expect me to be unhappy either.  Realistically, she can’t demand I go back there.

I put my arms around her waist and gently pull my Angel to me.  “Ana, Baby, say something.  Yell, scream, hit me just say or do something, please.”  When she looks up at me there is a lone tear sliding down her cheek and she shakes her head.  “Silence speaks volumes Baby.”  I kiss her forehead then rest my forehead on hers.  “Silence speaks volumes.”

There was no need to take our conversation any further. She didn’t say it but I suspect Ana will be returning to Seattle. I’m trying to stay positive and focus on right now, but she’s getting more and more distant as the minutes pass.

I am sending Jason and Gail back to Seattle tomorrow. To my surprise, neither of them is thrilled about the idea. What is it with these people? Had I dictated we all traipse over here I’d never have heard the end of it. As it stands, they can come and go as they damn well please and everyone has a fucking attitude. THIS IS WHY I like control.

I find Taylor sitting at the breakfast bar talking with Mrs. Jones. “Jason.” He sits straight up when he hears my voice. “At ease Jason.” I smile at the confusion on his face. When I glace over at Gail, she’s smiling too.

“I wanted to let you and Gail know you’re welcome to stay here as long as you like, provided security in Seattle is under control. Otherwise, you two can go back to the US tonight or tomorrow if you wish. Just let me know your decision.” The look of shock is clear on their faces. They look at each other then back to me.

Is something wrong?

I’m sure I have a confused look on my face, so Taylor speaks up “Mr. Grey…um…sir. I guess this is my mistake. I expected once you and Miss Steele reconciled we would all return to Seattle.” I have seen surprise on Jason’s face before, but never to this degree.

“Well, Miss Steele may very well be going back to Seattle too. She hasn’t told me her decision. I, however, am not going back. I can’t Jason.” I can feel my heart beat hard every time I say the words out loud. I’m going to loose her. She’ll go back to Seattle and forget all about me, not that I cam blame her. I’ll never love anyone else, ever. I take a deep breath and give them a tight smile.

Jason stands up ramrod straight and asks, “Mr. Grey, may we speak in your office please sir?” Wary of this discussion, I nod my head and motion for him to lead the way. I glance back at Gail and give her a questioning look. She shrugs her shoulders and mouths ‘I have no idea what he wants’ then walks away.

Dear God, what’s happened now? Seattle brings out the worst in my life and now these people want me to go back there. Why?

When I reach my study, I see Jason Taylor standing at attention in the middle of the room. I want to laugh, but I maintain my composure and close the door. I stand in front of him, not nose-to-nose but almost as close, and look him dead in the eye. I’m more than a few inches taller than Taylor. Elliott always laughed about Taylor guarding me because when we were kids I used to kick guys like Taylor’s ass on a regular basis. I’m not saying Taylor is some scrawny little man, not by any means, but standing here like this I see what Elliott means.

“Yes Taylor, how may I help you?” I’m trying not to smile, but this shit is just too funny. I told Taylor things are different here, although I appreciate his respect of our employer-employee relationship, his stick up the ass demeanor is over the top.

“Sir, this is about an encounter I had following the event committee meeting.”

“Wednesday night!” He nods. “What the fuck happened and why did you wait until now to discuss this? What’s going on Taylor?” I’m dazed and aggravated that he didn’t tell me about any problems he had that evening. I didn’t see him when he returned that night. Ana and I were in the Jacuzzi enjoying each other’s company. That’s why I asked Jason to deliver the final report. Had I known there would be some bullshit going on I would’ve dealt with the shit myself.

He still hasn’t said anything. He’s just staring me in the eye, when it hits me, “THE BROWNS!” I growl through clenched teeth. He nods again. “THOSE FUCKERS! What did they do Taylor?” I don’t know what the fuck those bastards issue is with me. I haven’t had any business dealings with them and we haven’t clashed personally. Their sister, father and grandfather have been most respectful. They seemed concerned about me as well as helping me resolve the issue of The Interference in my life. It’s another reason I feel at ease here. In my mind, if I need assistance with anything I can ask either or both of the senior Browns. It’s almost as good as having Carrick here himself.

“I’m waiting Taylor and you know I’m not a patient man.” He appears to be torn up about something. “Come on Taylor, you called me in here. What the fuck happened?”

“I approached Miss Brown after the meeting…”

“WHAT!?” I cut him off. “Why on Earth would you bother Ella?” I haven’t seen her since Ana arrived. I wanted to introduce them, but she hasn’t been around. We don’t have one another’s phone numbers and I don’t feel comfortable just showing up at her family home unannounced.

“Why Taylor?” He takes a deep steadying breath. This is bad. This is really bad…I can feel it.

Without blinking an eye he says, “I advised Miss Brown to cease and desist her contact with you.”

HE DID WHAT!?

He nods his head and continues, still standing at full attention. “I advised Miss Brown that Miss Steele is in your life and I made it clear she should not interfere with your relationship.” Well, he’s protecting Ana. I can’t blame him for doing that. He’s concerned for her happiness and I’m not mad that he is. Who wouldn’t be, but Ella couldn’t give a rat’s ass in a rainstorm about me. I don’t know how many times I have to explain this to him. Is it such an oddity for a man and woman to be friends? Or is he protecting Ella as well. Am I so abhorrent he feels the need to guard her against me?

“Taylor…” I don’t know how to verbalize this without starting a pissing downpour. “What happened next?” Let’s get this all out before I suffer an aneurysm.

Seems to be the new theme in our life now, right Grey?

No shit Sherlock. I wonder why?

“Permission to speak freely sir?” I am so fucking sick of that question. I nod and wave my hand dismissively. If this helps Taylor relax enough to give me the full fucking story then so be it. I sit on the edge of my desk like a little kid listening while Uncle Taylor spins a yarn.

“Like I said, I told Miss Brown…” Again he hisses her name as if she were some loathsome creature.

I hold up my hand. “Taylor, like her or not, she’s been a friend to me. She’s done nothing wrong at this point so please, stop belittling her name.”

His face turns a deep shade of red as he continues, practically yelling, “I told that gold-digging whore to stay away from you! I told her you have a wonderful woman in your life and the last thing you need is her sniffing behind you!”

OH MY FUCKING GOD NO! DEEP, DEEP ,DEEP BREATH GREY! He’s just protecting Anastasia. This is what you pay him to do. He hasn’t spent any time around Ell. And think about it, she showed him and Welch up with her security checks and photographic memory. Do NOT get pissy with this man Grey. Don’t fucking do it.

It’s taking EVERYTHING…and I do mean EVERYTHING not to jump on this mutherfucker right now. I can’t explain why, but that little girl is like family to me and I’m every letter in the words PISSED TO THE GILLS right now. I take that deep breath before thinking about opening my mouth, but my thoughts are still scattered. All I can see is red.

You only get this way about Mia Grey. What is it about Ella that gets you riled up?

I have no fucking idea. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t have to give a shit about me, but she does. No offense to Gail and Jason, but no one, other than Ana and my family, has ever taken a genuine interest in my happiness without being paid or gifted in some way.

“Taylor,” I have to whisper this or I’ll break the fucking windows bellowing at him, “what, if anything, happened next?” Dear God in Heaven let that be the end of the conversation. I can hear Ella chewing his ass out now. Please let that be the end of it.

You and I both Ninja Girl can’t stand Taylor. So fuck yeah there’s more. You’re gonna have to school Mr. Taylor in Ella Brown 101.

“I approached Miss Brown and placed my hand on her shoulder. My intention was to force her to face me…”

My eyes widen in shock and I interrupt him again, “DO YOU KNOW THAT WOMAN IS A MMA FIGHTER?! And I don’t mean just a little rolling around on the floor. Taylor, I mean Sprawl-and-brawl, Clinch fighting, Ground-and-pound and Submission grappling.” His eyes widen as well at the list of things Ella can do. I haven’t mentioned her tussling with things in the sea.

Keep that to yourself Grey.

“Taylor, just like you don’t underestimate Ana, do NOT underestimate Ella Brown. She has skills you and I have never indulged in. Her father and grandfather are even worse.” Ever so slowly the blood drains from his face leaving him whiter than snow.

THAT got him. I bet her old man got hold of Taylor.

I nod my head and he shakes his in astonishment.

“That explains it then.” He remarks. I hang my head. These people will tie him up, carve him up and feed him to the fish in the local aquarium. No need to get a boat and go out to sea. The fact that he made it home is a testament to Ella’s father and/or grandfather’s civility.

I wave my hand again, “Go on Taylor.” I can’t raise my head to look at him. They scared the shit out of him. I know they did.

“A man approached me from behind and offered a handshake…” My head snaps up and I hold up my hand again.

“I am going to make this easy on you Taylor. Was the voice pleasant and smooth sounding?” He nods yes.

Yep, that’s her father.

“Did you turn around to shake his hand?” Yes again.

Wrong move Jason.

“Did he look a Hell of a lot like me?” He nods yes once more.

Bingo!

Ella did this move on me and I was so fucking insulted, I didn’t speak to her for days afterwards and it didn’t seem to bother her at all. After a committee meeting, she cussed me out when I tried to confront her about the shit then she had me apologizing for something I still don’t know what I did.

Hee,hee, hee…She had you apologizing for being an arrogant schmuck. Oh what a funny day that was. Little Miss Spitfire’s a HOOT!

Cool it asshole.

Whateva, you still got taken down by a LITTLE girl.

“Did the gentleman cuff you, take you down and put a foot in your back?”

Don’t laugh at him Grey. You remember how embarrassed and pissed you were. At least he was subdued by a grown man not one of the Lollipop Kids.

I don’t give a fuck if you call her Tinker Bell the shit’s still funny to me. Big Bad Jason Taylor jacked up by a lowly Townsville local. Seems I’m not the only arrogant schmuck in my life.

He gives a very small nod. It almost looks like he only blinked his eyes. I can’t hold it in anymore. The laugh starts deep in my chest then moves quickly to my stomach. When I see the look of indignance on his face, I fall back, rolling on the desk.

“Tay…Taylor. Her old man…was in Vietnam. He served in the air and on the ground. Her granddad…WOO, you should see your face. Her granddad served in World War Two in Europe…oh fuck, I can’t breathe…this is too much…mainly on the ground. WOW! Did you just turn green? HA HA HA…don’t hate mutherfucker. I sent you to deliver a simple report, not a warning. Oh…ok…lemme catch my breath.” As I wipe the tears from my eyes and struggle to catch my breath, I see I have clearly offended Jason.

I shake my head and walk over to him, “Jason, I’m not fucking around with Ella and she is NOT interested in me or my money. Like you, I didn’t do any research on her and I still haven’t and I don’t intend to.” His eyes widen again. I’m just full of surprises lately ain’t I?

“Taylor, I told you I met her family, they come from OLD money. Not rich…wealth. Not just billions. I mean mega-billions! They could crush me if they decided to. They‘re not recognized by Forbes and the other rag lists because they’re a private entity and have the right to stay under the radar if they so choose, which they do. I learned about EB, Pty while at Harvard so I have no question about its legitimacy.”

“I’m not interested in Ella and she’s not interested in me. She has grown to be a friend and her family, at least her father and grandfather, have proven themselves to be decent human beings. Her brothers are a bunch of spoiled, rich fuckers just like the ones I grew up with so there’s no love lost between us, but I know how to handle them regardless of how juvenile they may be.” Just thinking about those stupid bastards takes me back to high school and the fights I had in the locker rooms, the hallways and the classrooms. I sigh and continue.

“And I’ve learned, from the main three of the Brown clan, ‘they’re a bunch of sneaky fuckers’ so I highly recommend you watch your ass when it comes to them.” I raise an eyebrow to emphasize my point. He nods, but still seems troubled.

“What else Taylor? Please, speak up.”

“I cannot put my finger on it sir. Like you said, there is something shady about that crew and your disinterest in doing background checks is disturbing to me. You did a background check on Miss Steele the day you met her, but not this Ella Brown. Why not?” I think about this for a minute.

See, I told you, common theme.

Whatever. Shut up and think. Why didn’t we get a background check on her?

Do I have to remind you of everything?

…Maybe Welch can…

OH NO YOU DON’T, no stalking Grey! That’s a hard limit from this point forward. We’re done with that bullshit. She’s not looking for a job with you, ok. Background checks, stalking and monitoring are for work and the safety of loved ones ONLY. We turned over a new leaf remember? None of your bad habits or dirty tricks allowed.

So how do I know she’s not some little tramp looking to line her purse? I get background checks so I have information to protect myself, remember?

It’s what the general population calls ‘sticking your neck out’. Get used to it.

Ever consider she is wealthy in her own right? No, THAT never crossed your mind because, of course, you’re the only rich fucker on the planet. Look, if you don’t like people calling you arrogant and self-centered then stop being arrogant and self-centered.

“I didn’t see it as a necessity Taylor. I saw Ella in a park. We didn’t even speak. At first I seriously considered calling Welch and having him work his elfin magic to find out who she was, but I realized that’s how I’ve run my life for a long time and it doesn’t really protect me. If anything, it makes things worse.

When I finally did get up the nerve…yes, get up the nerve…to say hello to her, the situation quickly became a friendship. Talking to her I learned who she was and I realized there was no threat; unless I pissed her grandfather off and he came after GEH of course. So I never bothered with a background check. The Browns have become confidants, if you will, and I value their opinion.” That’s all there is to it, nothing outlandish, nothing sinister about it, sweet and simple.

“Now, I hope you and Gail will attend this evening’s event and I hope to introduce Ana to Ella.” I shake my head as the man goes pale again.

“Taylor, the only thing I have to worry about now is how to deal with the possibility that the woman I love may leave me… again. Anastasia hasn’t consented to staying in Australia and I have no intention of returning to the United States, permanently, for the foreseeable future.” He looks at me questioningly and I nod.

Speak up man.

“Sir, I know the young woman who came to Escala that night; she was distraught. It took all Gail could do to comfort her while Welch, Barney and I worked feverishly to find out what the fuck was preventing her from contacting you. There is no way she would leave.”

I smile weakly. “Taylor, sit down.” I proceed to go through the whole ridiculous tale about how I ended up in Townsville Australia. Beginning with her accepting my proposal to the day she showed up at the airport, just pertinent information of course.

“So you see Taylor, I cannot go back there. I feel like the weight of the world is off my shoulders here. As much as I would like for Ana, Gail and you to stay with me it is not fair to any of you. I know full well how important Ana’s career is to her and I knew this would be the issue.”

“Taylor, I am tired. I can’t explain how tired I am with people interfering in my life. I can’t make Ana happy because she feels trapped and stifled by me. When I’m in Seattle, I worry about her safety, not because I don’t trust her, but because I don’t trust the rest of the world, that she’s trying to live up to I might add.” She can’t see the distinction between the two for some reason. “Since I’ve been away, Sawyer’s protection seems to have been enough so it must be me.“

“Then there is Elena…” His hackles are raised now. I can see the steam jetting from the top of his head. “Yes I said it, the Bitch-Troll. Do I have to fight in the lobby of my building, foyer of my apartment, in the middle of a restaurant to keep that old sack of shit out of my life? How the fuck do I get rid of her?” I throw my hands up in frustration.

“Someone please tell me, how the fuck to I get rid of The Interference in our lives?”

Taylor and I just look at each other then down at the floor shaking our heads. There has to be a way to get free from her. There has to be.


[1] The Bowery Boys were fictional New York City characters, successors of the “The East Side Kids” who were the subject of feature films released by Monogram Pictures from 1946 through 1958.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 8 Déjà Vu

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

Chapter 8 | Déjà Vu

GREY

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

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

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

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

We have to get out of here, NOW!

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


 

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

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

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

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

He will find another cash cow I am sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lights…camera…action Grey!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations Grey.

What are you congratulating me for?

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

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

WHAT…WHAT’s  WRONG?

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

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

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

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

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

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

True.


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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