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Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 11 It’s Up To Me

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

Chapter 11 | It’s Up To Me

GREY

“TAYLOR!”  I yell from the foyer as Ella and I burst into the house.

“Yes sir.”  Taylor appears with his hand on the gun I didn’t know he had with him.

Something ELSE to discuss with dear ‘ole Taylor.

I ignore him re-holstering his gun and make introductions as we enter the living room.  “Jason Taylor, this is Ella Brown.  Ella this is Taylor, he’s my Head of Security.”

He takes his hand off his weapon then says “Ma’am.”  And gives a curt little nods, but he doesn’t accept her proffered hand.  I’m actually stunned.  Professional Taylor is nothing new, but this guy is someone I’ve never met. 

Down Jason, she’s not the enemy. 

I know he and Gail are fiercely loyal to Ana, but we’ve discussed Ella is detail so I don’t get it.

“Taylor, Miss Brown has information about the breach in Miss Steele’s computer.”

He raises an eyebrow and says, “Oh she does?  Pray tell Miss Brown?”  What is with the attitude Taylor?  She is here to help Ana as well.

“Taylor, Miss Brown is here to HELP us.  She’s not here to take over and she’s not here to be looked down upon.  Just as easily as she can give her help she can take it away.  So please, lose the ‘tude’, ok?”  I don’t want to scold a grown man, but this shit is totally out of character for him and it’s gotten on my last fucking nerve.  These people need to learn about me.  They say they care then why the fuck do I feel like they want to keep my locked away from anyone and everyone except Ana.  Am I not to be trusted around other people?

Easy Grey.  We need to get through one situation at a time.  Right now, it’s about Ana and her not being able to contact you.  Stick with me here.  You can light into his shit another time.  Right now, focus.

Fine, but later he gets it.

Fair enough.

He looks offended, but right this fucking second I don’t give a rat’s ass.  Just get this shit sorted out.

“Miss Brown, what information do you have?”  His tone is dry, his face is set on impassive and his behavior is deplorable.  I’m fucking embarrassed to call him my employee right now.

Ella goes into her monologue about Isaac, his abilities with technology specifically computer hacking.  “But that means he would have to be in the area of Miss Steele’s apartment in order to access her Internet signal.  Are you proposing he sat on her porch while he did all of this?”  She looks up slowly and I see it is the same look she gave her brothers as she reminded them of her ninja capabilities.

“Mr. Taylor is it?”  Taylor nods.

“First, I do not intend to be spoken to that way.  Second, if you do not want my information then I will gladly piss off and save my oxygen for the next time I dry heave, the choice is yours.  Third, I suspect by your obvious military training you learned how to spot bullshit at a thousand yards; therefore, based on your snide remarks, curt tone and overall chauvinistic behavior I must have hit the mark and your pride is sore.  To prevent you any further discomfort, you can grovel to me when you need more information.  Oh and I suggest you upgrade your search tactics and contact lists.”  She quips.

‘I suggest you upgrade you search tactics and contact lists.’  That remark took him for a loop.  He just stands there.

“Good evening…’gentlemen’.”  Ella nods her head quickly then marches out of the room.

What the fuck is the deal?  “Ella, wait!”  I glare at Taylor.  This woman has information we need.  Fuck his pride and mine too.  I reach her as she’s putter her hand on the doorknob, “Ella, please do not leave.  We need your help.  I need your help.  Forget about the male egos and just tell us what you know so we can get this shit fixed.”

“Love, I can out investigate him,” she motions over her shoulder at Taylor, “with instructions from a box of Cracker Jacks and tips from a Nancy Drew mystery.  If you want this sorted out, we Browns will sort it out, but that arrogant fucker won’t be involved.  Like I told you, my grandfather will be the only point of contact and his investigators do…not…fail.  Meet me at the family home tomorrow evening after work.  I’ll introduce you to two of the most civilized gentlemen in this solar system and we’ll take care of ‘the interference’.  See you then Love.”  And out she goes.

I return to the living room, tired, pissed and embarrassed.  What the fuck is Taylor’s issue?  “TAYLOR!”  I bark.  This is bullshit.  Taylor is always the epitome of professionalism no matter what the situation.  He always listens if for no other reason than to point out the inadequacies in the information he received.  This time, he didn’t even hear what the information was.

“Yes sir.”  He can snarl all he wants, we need her help.

“What the fuck is your problem?  She’s here to help.  She’s on our side, MY side, in all of this.  What the fuck gives?”

“Welch and I will gladly review whatever documentation Miss Br…”

“She doesn’t keep documentation Taylor.  She has a photographic memory.  She read the information herself and committed it to memory.  Is there a problem with that?”

Unfazed by my statement he says, “Mr. Grey, how much do you know about Miss Brown?  Who is she?  What does she want from you?  Is she asking for…”

I cut him off.  I know he of all people didn’t just say that.  He is constantly telling me to lighten up about people being after my money.  “PAY?  Is she asking for money?  Is that what you want to know Taylor?”

“Have either you or Welch ever heard of EB, Pty?”  He looks at me with a blank expression, but I know that look.  He has no fucking idea who or what I’m talking about.  “I thought not.  EB Pty is THE largest and most powerful unlimited proprietary company in the southern hemisphere.  EB Pty is what I fantasize GEH becoming one day.  Miss Brown has access to more money than I do in my wildest, wettest dream.  She gives a fuck about me, as a friend, almost family, and my happiness not my money.”  She alone, right this second is worth more than I am and she has not worked a significant job a day in her life yet.

I’m so fucking tired of bullshit.  I can’t deal with him anymore tonight.  “Good night Taylor.”  I do not wait for a response.  I march to my room, slam the door and let out a sigh of frustration.  God, please let Ella help me, please.


Hello Pet, are you not glad to hear from your Mistress?  You disappointed me, again, my beautiful Pet.  You were my favorite, but if you continue to disrespect me you will fall out of my favor.  Do you understand Pet?  I’m in her dungeon.  She has me strapped, naked, to the cold bare stone wall.  I’m blindfolded.  Her voice seems to come from everywhere around me; the sound pierces my brain and has me on high alert.  She’s never sounded this frigid and calculating before.

NO!  Go away…leave me alone…you hurt me…you’re bad, you’re mean…my voice sounds high, loud and very afraid.

Hush, hush Pet, I saved you.  I saved you from yourself.  I showed you the error of your ways and put you on the path to success.  Everything you have is because of me.  I own all of your happiness Pet.  Do not forget that.  Her cold hand is stroking my face and then my neck.  She stops at my collarbone.  She intended to touch my chest.

NO!  Go away…leave me alone…you hurt me…you didn’t love me…all I feel is pain and despair and hate; it’s seeping into my soul.  Where the fuck am I?  I can’t see anything and I only hear her voice.

LOVE IS FOR FOOLS PET!  How many times do I have to tell you that?  Love is for the weak.  Love is messy and a waste of time.  It is more trouble than it is worth Pet.  Strength, dominance and control are the only characteristics worth developing, worth having.  Only these abilities lead to success and with success these skills are honed.

NO!  Go away…leave me alone…I need love…I need friends, I need family…I feel myself getting weak.  It’s as if my life’s energy is being drained from my body the longer I’m here…wherever here is.

It is that submissive who turned you against me, that mousey, little, gold digging submissive.  You trust her, you believe her instead of your Mistress?  It angers me Pet.

I don’t have a submissive!  I have Ana and you can’t keep us apart.  I love Ana and she loves me.  Ana will be here.  Ana will help me.  Ana will save me from you.  ANA!  HELP ME ANA!  ANA!  Where is she?  Where is my Ana?  I need her help.  Only she can lead me out of this darkness.  I need her.  I need her light.

HA!  You sound pathetic Pet.  You sound like a fool.  “Ana will help me…Ana loves me…boo, hoo, hoo.  Poor Christian, he needs HIS Ana to protect him.  HA!  As she mocks me, I feel myself getting weaker.  I feel myself giving up.   Ana, where are you?

She will take all of your money, she will leave you with nothing and you will come crawling back to me.  I WILL have you again.  DO YOU HEAR ME PET?  I WILL HAVE YOU AGAIN!  YOU…ARE…MINE!

NO!  NO!  ANA!  ANA HELP ME!  The darkness.  Darkness is surrounding me.  I can’t breath.  I can’t move.  I feel the darkness taking over me.  How did I get here?  How do I get out of this place?  ANA, PLEASE HELP ME!!!

I bolt straight up in bed, sweating profusely, my hear racing and I can’t catch my breath.  I find myself tangled in the bed sheets.  It was as if I was fighting to get free.

BITCH!


As I wait for Ella to arrive, I have enough time for a quick call to the States and because the noise level is just the right decibel, I don’t sound out of place when I yell, “WELCH!  Fucking forget about it, Miss Brown is point on this.  If you want to be involved you and Taylor will have to kiss her ass and see what she tells you” then I slam the phone down.

I cussed Welch and Taylor out for hours.  I’ll let Ella, her grandfather and her father handle this one…end of.  She has the intel and better, more reliable resources.  I may not be a fucking genius but I’m not a fool either.  I know when I’m at my limit and I know to turn to the experts when it’s necessary.  Compared to the Browns, Taylor and Welch are nothing.

“Hello Love.  Waiting for me are you?”  She came sauntering over in her slim black pencil skirt, fitted white button up blouse, matching black suit jacket and a pair of black, soft tanned leather, sky-high fuck me Manolo Blahnik’s, her signature shoe.

Hmm, never considered them, huh Grey?

I guess she had interviews today.

Those shoes aren’t included in the ‘What to Wear to an Interview Handbook’ are they?

No comment.  She asked me to meet her at the coffee shop after I was done at Grey House this evening.  We are going to meet with her father and grandfather about what is now affectionately being referred to as ‘The Interference’.

“Why yes Miss Brown, I’m waiting for you.  Did you have interviews today?”  She nods yes.  “How’d they go?”

“I believe I’ll get a position with one of the local aquariums which is a good start.  I have to make my mark somehow.”  I frown at that statement.  She sounds like Ana.

“Don’t frown Love.  People know my name, my face and my family.  That means I have to work harder to prove I’m not a slacker.  My grandfather would have my ass about that.  Even I recognize that what you know allows you to capitalize on who you know.”

“Too many rich kids think their family name will take them to the top.  The only thing my family name does is open the door.  It’s up to me to step through, barge in or barely skid by on my ass.  I’m not pushy, I’m independent and will fight, but I won’t shit on the hand that feeds me.  I prefer to step in like a lamb and work like a lion.  The world will look at me because I am Ella Brown.  The world will pay attention to me because Ella Brown knows what the fuck she’s talking about.”  She ends with a curt nod of her head.

Do I dare tell Ana she needs to talk with Ella.

Hold off Grey.  Let’s get Steele here and be sure you still have a fiancée first, ok?

“Now, let’s settle this ‘interference’ of yours so you and Anastasia will be together, happily ever after.”  She smiles brightly, takes my hand and pulls me out of the coffee shop.


The Brown Family home is not far from my own.  As we step into the foyer Ella yells, “Dad, Granddad are you home?”  She sounds like a kid coming home from school.  It makes me smile.

“Ellie, we are in the study.  Is he with you?”  A deep voice booms back to her.  HE?  Damn, am I in trouble or something

“Yeah, and you just scared him.”  She giggles at the look on my face.  Then, if it is possible her smile just got bigger and she winked at me.  All I can do is shake my head.

She is too much.

“Smart boy.  Bring him in here.”  We enter the study and I freeze.  Her father and grandfather are both my height with the signature square jaw line and almond-shaped eyes, only they both have curly, light auburn hair and grey eyes.  The gentlemen smile broadly and motion for me to enter the room.  I’ve seen these men before.  Just like Ella, there’s something about them…I KNOW I’VE SEEN THEM BEFORE.

“Nice to meet you Mr. Grey,” the younger of the two men steps forward and shakes my hand, strong but still friendly “I am Ellie’s father Emmett Brown and this” he motions to the older gentleman behind the large oak desk “is my father Edward Brown.”

The senior Mr. Brown simply nods and says, “We are pleased to meet you Mr. Grey.  Our Ellie regards you highly.  That is not something we take lightly.  Ellie is a superb judge of character.  Consider yourself privileged.”

I look to my left at Ella, who is dramatically rolling her eyes.  “Thank you both for helping me Mr. Brown, Mr. Brown.  Ella has been a wonderful friend to me since I came to Townsville.  I respect her and value her opinion.”  The men exchange a glance then Ella and her father leave me alone with the patriarch of the family.

Mr. Brown moves forward in his chair then says “May I call you Christian?”

“Certainly Mr. Brown.”  As much as I won’t admit it to anyone outside of this room, the fact that this man is speaking with me about any issue, especially a non-business issue is an honor.

“Call me Edward.  Christian, I do not mince words and I do not care if I step on toes.  If you are thin-skinned, you will need to leave now and I will handle this matter according to Ella’s recommendations.  She can play liaison.”

We look each other directly in the eyes, neither of us blinking.  After a long pause he continues, “Good man.  Ella is quite taken with you.  She is never taken with anyone or anything.  She is very analytical and can be lockstep at times, but she is never emotional.  It will make her a formidable CEO when her time comes. Make no mistake, she WILL do as I say and she KNOWS it.”

Note to self, GEH needs to stay in good graces with EB, Pty.  We KNOW first hand how off the chain ‘Ninja Girl’ can get.

“My granddaughter and I have a unique relationship.  No matter how much I love my son and grandsons, as it was with her aunt before her, my counsel with Ella is the final word on any and all business deals EB, Pty has had since the day she could follow the sound of my voice as an infant.”  What the fuck!  Is this old guy crazy?  “She has never steered me wrong.”

“The interference in your life has to go…period.  It cannot be controlled, it cannot be redirected and it cannot be contained.  Those options are not sufficient to garner the desired result for the appropriate amount of time…period.  Any questions, concerns or comments Mr. Grey?”

“No sir.”

“Good, this is what we know…” the Browns found out and confirmed, with one phone call, that Isaac canvassed the Pike Market area coffee shops as well as the actual market until he got close enough to catch the ISP signal for Kate and Ana’s apartment.  Why Kavanaugh’s father let her name the network ‘Laters_Babe’ is beyond me.  Anyone who has heard Elliott fart knows that is his signature shit.  Anyway, he got the signal and breached the network security.  Once there he had free reign.  So upon whoever’s request he cut Ana and my line of communication.

The ‘tainted text’ came from a disposable cellphone number, but Mr. Brown’s forensic technology investigators traced the shit all the way back to the store where the purchase was made. CCTV showed Isaac as the buyer.

Isaac has no reason to even blink in either my or Ana’s direction.  His Mistress is a different story.  Ultimately, we have who and we have how, why is the mystery; not really.  Mr. Brown asked if we needed “further assistance with ‘the interference’”.  I thanked him for all of his efforts and told him not at this time.  I asked if there was a change in the situation would he be available and he told me, “As long as my Ella says I should be available to you, then I will” on that note we shook hands and I left.

Ella was nowhere to be found as I made my way back to the foyer.  A sound in the darkness caught me off guard.  “Ahem, Christian.”  Shit!  The fucker scared me.  They are a sneaky bunch aren’t they?

It was Ella’s father.  “Yes Mr. Brown.”

“Emmett, please.  I wanted to thank you for befriending my little Ellie.  She has always been such a lonely child.  Our money and position were a hindrance to her having genuine friends when she was younger.  Ella is a mixture of her mother’s kind, caring nature, my sister’s innocence and intelligence and my own fire and stubbornness.  Ellie will give you the shoes off her feet then carry you to safety.  They do not make women like her anymore.”

“Her kindness has been taken for blindness in the past, so much so that she closed herself off to everyone, except my father and myself.  After her mother passed away and then my sister, Ellie became more introverted.  She was ‘lost’ behind her beautiful blue eyes.”  He shakes his head as if remembering a particular instance.

“Since she met you, she has come alive.  It is almost like she has a reason for living.  Her brothers are jealous of you and your relationship with Ellie.  They are older than her and were living their own lives when Ellie was…” He does not finish.  “Do not worry about them.  I believe she put them in their place at your last committee meeting.  They will not bother you again.”  He lowers his voice when he says, “She can be VERY persuasive.  We all worry that once your situation is righted, your friendship will end and the old Ellie will return.  It is a sad thought.  So forgive us our protectiveness of our princess.”  In his grey eyes, so much like my own, I see a fear for his daughter and her wellbeing.

“Mr. Brown, Ella has taught me a great deal and I value our friendship like no other.  I can proudly say that after my fiancée, Ella is my only friend.  I have been upfront, honest and by all means respectful of her.  I have nothing to gain by breaking her heart.  Somehow, she’s become family to me.”

Mr. Brown’s face softens and his eyes shine silver in the dim light of the foyer.  “It was good to meet you Christian.  We WILL raze ‘The Interference’ should you so desire.”  We shake hands again and he claps me hard on my shoulder.  Again, somewhere in my mind registers, I’ve seen this man before.  There’s a flash in my mind’s eye of a black and white photograph, but just a quickly as it appeared, it’s gone.

“It was good to meet you as well and thank you sir.”  Once out of the house, I look up to my left and see a tiny figure in a window.  I believe it is Ella, her long hair over her shoulder and her tiny hand waving to me.  I wave back then get in my car and leave.

When I get home, I don’t even bother with Taylor.  He and Welch have proven useless in this whole matter.  I eat whatever Gail set aside for me, shower, jump into my pajama pants and rush to the telephone like a love struck teenager.

Ring…Ring…”Christian?”

“Hey Baby, how are you?  Are you excited?  I cannot wait to see you.  You are going to love the house and my new GEH office.  I can’t wait to show you my study, and the TV room and the library and the bedroom…” I can’t help my run-on of questions and statements.  Just thinking of her here has me happy, relieved and horny as hell.  God, it has been SOOO long.  I feel myself start to tingle all over.

No way buddy, we’ve made it this long.  No hand jobs and no more cold showers.  Use some of that control of yours and relax.

I can’t help but rub my cock through my pajama pants as she speaks, “I get it Christian, I get it.  I have news for you, I can’t wait to show you my new pink lace bra and panty set and my green lace bra and panty set and what is under my lace bra and panty sets” then my baby giggles and my heart melts.

“God I can’t wait to be with you.”

DAMMIT GREY!  If you don’t get your hand off of me you will need a little blue pill when she get’s here!

I hear rustling in the background.  “You know you don’t have to pack right?  We can buy whatever you want when you get here.”

“Including a toothbrush?”

I smile at her question.  “I have a sneaking suspicion I can find a toothbrush for you on this side of the Equator Miss Steele.”

“Cool.  I’ll stop packing then.  Now, let me go to work so I can get done and get to you.  I love you Christian.”

“I love you too Baby.  I love you too.”  After we end the call I sigh deeply and look at my pajama pants.  Sorry fellas, I couldn’t help it.  You know?

We know and we’re pissed.  Don’t do that shit again or you’ll regret it.  Now start the DAMN shower.  SHIT!

STEELE

Ring…Ring…Ring…”Grey Enterprise Holdings, Incorporated, Ros Bailey speaking.”  She always has that raspy sound in her voice.  I have to remember that she is not angry about something.

“Hello Ros, this is Anastasia Steele from SIP.”  I hope she remembers me.

You are kidding me…right?

“Ana?  Hi, is there something wrong?”

Like she can forget the boss’ fiancée, even though you have been an ass to him.

“No, no, no I am fine. Everything here is fine.  I know this looks bad and I’m leap frogging over Mr. Roach’s head, but I want to let you know I’m leaving the country this even…” She stops me cold.  Oh no, here it comes.  This is why you don’t try to call in favors.

“Pause Steele.  It’s about fucking time one of you two stubborn bastards came to your senses.”  I didn’t know she felt like this.  “You, my dear, are just as bad, if not worse than Grey himself and that’s some accomplishment.  Go, you have my blessing.  Travel safe and tell him to get his ass back here.  I need a day off.”  She rasps out a deep laugh.

I can’t help laughing too, “Ros, you don’t know where I am going.”

“Don’t try that shit with me Steele.  You can only be going to Australia to see him so try again.”

“Thank you Ros.  I still have to tell Mr. Roach and I know he is going to have a fit.  He already mentioned…”

“The early meeting I called for all editors and their seconds on Monday morning?  That was good of him to follow my instructions and let you know.  However, YOU will not be able to attend because YOU had best still be out of the country.  What’s he going to do, come get you and drag you back to work?”  I can she her with an eyebrow raised when she asked that last question.

“I didn’t want to look like…” She cuts me off again.

“Pause Steele.  I’ve had enough of what you do and don’t want things to look like.  Are you sitting down?”

No but I will.  “Yes.”

“Good.  Besides Claire and Hanna, you are the ONLY hardworking member of the SIP ‘team’ and I use the term loosely.  Did you know that your name has either been moved to the bottom of or blatantly removed from individual and departmental reports?”  She says.

“Uh, no.”  What the fuck?  All the work I’ve done around here, the unpaid overtime, taking home other editors manuscripts to give them a second opinion and lets not mention all the fucking dirty looks I still get after all this time.  Those bastards are taking advantage of me and making me feel inadequate at the same time.  THOSE BASTARDS!

“I thought not.  I have to call Roach EVERY time he turns in a report and you’re not listed on it.  It usually takes him twelve to fifteen minutes to ‘find’ your documentation under the guise that you finished it late.  If he would look at the time/date stamp on the electronic signature he would see that I know differently.”

‘I went through some SIP historical records, dating back to when you were hired.  The information was sorely lacking at first.  After you appeared, there was more detail on the documents where you were listed, last of course, compared to the same reports filed before your employment. Obviously, you’re still considered an assistant in Roach’s point of view.”

Ros takes a deep breath and sighs before she says, “Ana, I know the deal with you and SIP.  I didn’t get to this seat by being a dumbass broad.  You’re playing into their hands and you’re letting them win.  Your civility and desire to fit in is getting you raked over the coals and fucked in the ass at the same time.”

“You work hard Ana and everyone in that office listens to you, because you know what the fuck you are doing and what you are talking about.  They’re shitting on you because you’re not standing up for yourself and accepting the role entrusted to you.  Blending into the crowd may have worked in college, but this is the real world.  The real world ain’t fair.  If you can get a push in the right direction or introduced to the right people AND you know what you are talking about, THEN everything you learned and all the hard work you’ve done will pay off.  You can’t capitalize on whom you know if YOU don’t KNOW anything.”

“Your arms are short right now Ana and you are stretching try to grab the brass ring.  If you’re given a hand to hold so that you can stretch further you may have a better change at reaching your goal.  Receiving help does not mean you will succeed, it means you got help.  You can get all the help in the world, but if you do not know how to best use that help it will all be for naught.”

“You may think I’m rambling, but please listen to me.  Don’t take help as an insult, accept it as help and move on.”  She sighs deeply again, “There, I’m done on my soapbox.  What time does your flight leave?”

“I’m going directly from the office to Sea-Tac, so I guess 6:30PM or 7PM.”

“EWWW!  Have fun with the time change.  Your sleep pattern is gonna to be fucked.  Travel safe Steele, tell Grey I said ‘hello’.”  She laughs.

“Sure thing Ros and thank you.”

“Don’t take help as an insult, accept it as help and move on.”  Hmm sounds like she is on to something there, huh?

Not you.  Not now.  I am busy…period.


I stand outside Mr. Roach’s office door, knock…knock…knock…”COME IN!”  He bellows.  Damn what’s his issue?

I slowly open the door and say quietly, “Hello Mr. Roach.”

Without looking away from his computer screen he says, “What do you need Steele?  I’m trying to get these P/L Reports together for Monday.  Have you turned in the information for your department?”  I wonder if he is busy deleting my report as we speak.

“Yes sir.  Here is a hardcopy.  I emailed the electronically signed document to you and copied Ms Bailey as well.”  Take that shithead.

He stops typing immediately and looks at me, in amazement I believe, almost a ‘how dare you’ glance.  “Why in the fuck did you send it to her?”

“I wanted to make sure she got the information.  I won’t be here on Monday and I wanted to be certain all parties involved received the information in a timely manner.”  I cross my arms and smile brightly.

Anger follows amazement as he yells, “I NEVER APPROVED TIME OFF FOR YOU!  Who the hell…wait a minute…you went straight to Grey for this didn’t you?  You went straight to the top for a ‘special favor’ didn’t you?”  He pounds his fist on the desk making me jump.

“Mr. Roach, I planned this trip weeks ago,” I lie, “you must have misplaced the paperwork.  I mentioned it to you recently.  I guess you were busy with the restructuring and evaluations, but I assure you I did request it.”

Lie, Lie, Lie

So the fuck what?  I am being majorly screwed here and you want to jeer at me?  I need to get to Christian and Roach isn’t gonna to stop me.

“I’ll look for those forms, if I don’t find them and you aren’t here for that meeting on Monday, even Grey won’t be able to help you.”  The look on his face is one of contentment.  He won’t rest until I am out of here.

We’ll deal with that bridge…ya know.  Right now, it’s quitting time.  There is a plane waiting for us NOW!

“Thank you for your time Mr. Roach.”  With that, I turn and leave his office, without looking back.

I collect my briefcase containing the latest reports, manuscripts and policy and procedure manuals then proceed to the lobby, proud of my decision.  “Hi Sawyer, we can go now.  Also, will you take this home, to Escala, for me please?”

“Yes ma’am.”  Christian insisted additional security wasn’t necessary in Townsville so Sawyer is staying in Seattle.  He deserves a break anyway.


“Hello Stephen.”

“Hello Miss Steele, we already have clearance so if you would please take your seat we can begin takeoff immediately.”  I salute him and sit in the first seat available.

“I’m on my way Baby.  I’m on my way.”  I whisper to myself.

Once we’re airborne, Natasha serves dinner.  “Oh, Miss Steele, this letter was delivered for you.”  She hands me a plain white envelope with the letters ARS typed on the front.

“Thank you Natasha.  I’ll read it later.  I’m going to lie down.”

“Certainly Miss Steele.”  She nods and goes back to her area of the plane.

I turn the envelope over and over again in my hands.  Christian always handwrites my name on the cards, letters and notes he leaves for me.  I wonder whom it is from.

Yawn…stretch…I don’t care whom it’s from.  I’m tired.

So am I.  I’ll think about it later.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 9 Temper Tantrum

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

Chapter 9 | Temper Tantrum

GREY

“Hello sir.  You have no security in this residence whatsoever.  It was not difficult to cross the threshold without notice.  Welch and I are in the process of remedying that situation.  Mrs. Jones is shopping as we speak.  She said water, wine, milk and Fruit Loops were not a balance diet and no way for a college student, let alone a grown man, to live.  I told her you most likely dined out.  She is very, and I do mean very, upset with you.  After reminding her how things were when she joined us at Escala she seemed slightly mollified.”  This must be “Shock the Shit Out of Me-ville” because once again I’m standing around with no fucking clue about what’s going on in front of me.

“Mr. Grey, may I speak freely?”  All I can do is nod my head, although I do manage to close my fucking mouth this time.  “There are a great many people who are concerned about you.”  He actually has a worried look on his face.  I haven’t given anyone reason to be alarmed, have I?

Not as far as I’m concerned, I mean, you contacted all of the staff, they knew their jobs were secure since Escala and Grey House Seattle both needed to be maintained so I don’t see the big deal either.

“Taylor, I’m not following you.  Why is anyone concerned?  All positions were maintained, no one has been put out of a job, except Reynolds and that was for a valid.  Security hasn’t been necessary here.  As for the house, you and Mrs. Jones vetted several qualified applicants.  I just have to make a final decision.”

“While I appreciate your loyalty, I don’t understand your visit and I use the term loosely.  I won’t get pissy this time, but don’t ever break into my house, wherever it is, again.  Do you understand?”  That’s a fucking hard limit dammit.

He nods then goes on to give me the update on all things Seattle.  All of this “catching up” makes me feel like the weight of my world is on my shoulders again, in spades.

When he finally reaches the topic of Anastasia, I have to shut him down.  “PAUSE!  Taylor I appreciate the information, but I left all of this to you and Welch.  As for Miss Steele, she knows my telephone number and she knows the extent of the situation.  There is nothing more for us to discuss about her.”  And that’s final.

However, in true Jason Taylor fashion he keeps going.  I swear he’s like my mother.  “Mr. Grey, permission to speak freely sir?”  Oh shit.

“Taylor, just say whatever it is you have to say.  I have a sneaking suspicion I’m in for an earful no matter what.”  Since I heard Gail come in I yell, “Mrs. Jones, please join us.”  Once she seats herself I lay down the ground rules for this conversation.  “Neither of you have to ask for permission speak freely.  When the talk gets to be too deep for me, the safeword is red.  Get it?”

“Got it.” They say in unison and Gail nods her head for emphasis.

“Good, go on.  Spill.”  I sigh, sit back and resign myself to my fate.

Gail starts off, “Miss Steele came to Escala in tears.  She said she tried to contact you on several occasions, but your phone always went straight to voicemail and then cut her off so that she couldn’t leave a message.  She didn’t know if you were hurt, ill or if you simply were no longer speaking to her.”

“I was nervous because I hadn’t heard from you directly since you left for Taiwan.  I knew at first you weren’t thrilled about having to go overseas.  Jason and I…I mean Mr. Taylor…” we just said this was a heart to heart talk so all formalities are out of the window.

“Gail, if I may call you by your first name”, she nods her head and I continue, “we established this is a ‘Come to Jesus’ meeting so other than what’s common courtesy and respect, formalities aren’t necessary.  Ok?”  She nods in agreement then continues her story.

“When Jason and I got back from our vacation, you were nowhere to be seen.  You called Jason and told him about Reynolds and when your call was done, Jason went ballistic and I began to worry.”  She tries to blink away her tears, but ends up having to dab her eyes to stop them from flowing down her cheeks.  Jason puts a comforting arm around her shoulder and she steadies her breathing enough to go on.

“Your parents, brother and sister called several times before you contacted them.  Afterwards, your father began speaking with Jason on a regular basis.  Ros only had information pertaining to GEH and I have no interest in that”, she is beginning to feel more comfortable with this conversation, she is speaking about her own feelings.

I know you’re not shrinking someone?

Besides business, what other field do I know?  Degree or not, my crazy ass can tell you about psychology and psychiatry for that matter.

Listen up…

“…finally, Ana came to Escala.  She told me about your few chats before you left for Taiwan and since you’ve been overseas.  Jason told me about your move here and…well…I couldn’t stay away any longer.  I understand your separation of personal and professional relationships and I respect that.  Mr. Grey, I’ve been worried about you and how you were dealing with your separation from Miss Steele.  Whether it’s my place or not, I still worry.  All I can do is not tell you.”  See what you did?  You made a grown woman who has absolutely no biological or romantic involvement with you worry like hell.

What is today’s date?  I have to mark this one off on the calendar as “Astound Grey Day”.  What have these people been thinking about?  Fuck.  I went to work.  I always go to work.  I work constantly and no one gives it a second thought, but let me step off US soil and all of a sudden emotions run high.

I’m totally out of my comfort zone.  I look to Jason and mouth the word ‘red’ so that he can take care of Gail.  I let her know she’s welcome to stay or she can finish the interview process for the applicants she approved, the choice is hers.  “Gail, Jason, please don’t be offended.  I didn’t expect either of you to pick up and relocate to parts unknown at a moments notice.  I thought it was best to undertake this endeavor alone.”

“I sent you and Taylor on vacation because you deserve that and so much more for putting up with me and my shit on a continual basis.  My actions may be unconventional, but they come from a good place.”  She nods again then goes to the kitchen.

At this point I decide to ask, “Gail, do you want to stay here?”  Her expression softens but the tears are still flowing down her cheeks.

“Mr. Grey, I have no problem remaining here with you.  However, my home is with Jason, I’m certain you know that.  If Jason is prepared to move to this lovely area then I am as well.  My sister is a big girl.  She’ll be fine without me tagging along on the weekends”, with that she gives me a little wink and turns to work on dinner.

“Taylor, we can continue this discussion here or in my study, which ever you choose.  However, I’ve been in these running shorts and t-shirt so long they are dry and I need to take a shower.”  I’m not really prepared for all of this talking.  I wanted to sit around and eat my leftovers before delving into the facts and figures Ros faxed over to me earlier today.

Jason laughs at me and says, “Actually I would like a tour or to wander around a bit.  Go take your shower and we can pick up where we left off after we eat. “

“Ok Taylor, make yourself at home.  I suggest you take your belongings to the third floor.  It’s a replica of your living area at Escala.  If not, there are guest rooms on the second floor that are available to you.  The elevator is on the left of the foyer.  My room is here on the first floor.”  He nods and we part ways.


I turn on the shower to as hot as I can stand it and let the steam fill the room.  As the water falls over me I think about Ana.  She’s been trying to contact me?  Why haven’t I received her calls?  I haven’t missed calls from Ros or Andrea or the staff at the new office.  I don’t remember seeing any missed calls on my phone and the few texts I have were from Ros.  I don’t really talk with anyone else.  Why didn’t Ana send me an email?  My address hasn’t changed.  This is strange.

Once I’m out of the shower, dried off and dressed I head out toward the kitchen.  Mrs. Jones stops in her tracks, blinks a few times and stares at me with her mouth wide open then turns to look at Jason who seems equally taken aback.

“What?  What did I miss?”  I don’t understand the looks I am getting.

“Well…um…Mr. Grey, it is just…I am used to seeing you in your white linen shirt and black jeans.  This is a change for you.”  Am I correct?  Is she blushing?

I’ve dressed like this since I arrived in Townsville.  The new setting seemed to warrant a lot of changes for me.  My attire was one of those things.  I no longer don my linen shirt and jeans.  Various color athletic fit t-shirts or a wife-beater with plan blue jeans, for out in public, or my bare chest and shorts for around the house.  Since I have house guests, I thought the bare chest and shorts weren’t appropriate.

House guests huh?  These good people have walked in on you fucking a woman’s mouth in the kitchen, heard women counting out lashes and calling you ‘Sir’ and ‘Master’, if you saw fit.  Mrs. Jones in particular has cleaned come stains from various inanimate objects throughout Escala and NOW you get bashful.  REALLY GREY?  Get fucking real.

No one asked you so fuck off.

Fucking off ‘Sir’…hee, hee,hee

“Just a small change Gail, nothing to worry about.  I’m still the same overbearing, pompous, jackass I’ve always been, but I’m trying to get a grip on that too.”  I shrug my shoulders.  Taylor, thankfully, clears his throat then actually glares at Gail.  Apparently she likes what she sees.  Now it is my turn to hide a smile.

“Oh yes, dinner.  Cesar Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette, broiled steak, medium-well and baked potato Mr. Grey?”  She seems a little flustered.  This is too much fun.

I was going to flash her my mega-watt smile, but I won’t do that to Taylor.  I’d be pissed if someone did that to me so I think better of it, “That is wonderful Gail, it’ll be good to eat real food again.”

I sit down to a Gail Jones masterpiece.  The best meal I’ve had since I left for Taiwan.  I think about everything I left behind and what I have achieved since being away from Seattle.  Part of me is happy I left and part of me does miss home.

All of this must be written on my face because Gail says, “We all miss you Mr. Grey and I’m not just saying that.  You have no idea how we feel about you because of the ‘Separation of Church and State’.  It’s hard to get close to you, but once we do you prove to be a wonderful person.”  She pats my hand and leaves Taylor and I to talk.

I look at Taylor for a clue of what Gail’s statement was about, but all he tells me is “She is right.”  I nod my head even though I do not truly understand all the fuss.

Finally I ask Taylor, “Do you want to finish our exchange here or in my office?”

“Where ever you feel most comfortable sir.”  I smile at the word ‘comfortable’.  Comfort has never really mattered to me, business was business and personal was off limits.  Things have definitely changed.

“Here is fine then.”  I take our plates to the sink, rinse them and put them in the dishwasher.  When I turn around, Jason has an all out, full-blown smile on his face.

“I know, I know, I don’t have anyone to clean up after me so I went back to basics.  The kitchen came with the place.  Since the world knows I can’t cook it could easily have been another bedroom as far as I’m concerned.  I can run the dishwasher, do my laundry and pick up after myself like a good little boy.  My mommy would be proud.”  At that statement, the smile falls from his face.

In horror I immediately ask, “Is something wrong with my mother?  Please tell me she is alright.”  I’ll be on the first thing heading stateside if she’s not well.

I talk with my dad more regularly now, but he’s always in his office in the city so he can blow up at me without fear of my mother walking in on him.  My ears start to bleed every time I see his number on the Caller ID.  The only thing he does anymore is chew me out.  It’s the ‘Harvard Drop-out’ scene over and over and over again.

“Mrs. Grey is fine sir.  She misses you, that is all.”  I let out a sigh of relief and nod my head.

“Would you like a lager?”  Taylor nods so I grab a couple Townsville Bitters hen lead the way to the living room that over looks Rowes Bay.

“What else is going on Taylor?  I’ve spoken with you, my father, Ros and various people here using the same cellphone with no problems.  Not to mention my email address has not changed so what’s the issue with Anastasia trying to contact me?”

“We believe someone has tampered with Miss Steele’s phone and computer.”  WHAT?!

The look on my face must say it all.

“She received a text and an email containing photos of you and a young woman.  The text was sent from an unidentified number, while the email was from a generic marketing company that sends out random announcements and coupons.  Barney says her email address could have been sold to any number of marketers simply from making an online purchase.  He gave her cellphone and laptop a once over and found spyware that could monitor her online movements and a zombie virus, which can be used to perform malicious tasks under remote direction, including but not limited to denial of service attacks.  Her emails were not reaching you due to the virus’ effects on her computer.”

“She is able to access her email from her BlackBerry as well.  Since BlackBerry maintains there is no such thing as a BB virus Barney is still looking at the phone.  During his research, Barney found articles to the contrary where the phone’s calling ability was affected in part or in full.  For now, we are working with the premise that both hardware items were attacked and prevented her from contacting you.”

There is only one person on Earth who would bother to keep Ana and I apart.  Taylor simply nods his head before we say in unison, “Elena Lincoln.”

STEELE

C’mon, c’om…Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring… “Grey.  Leave a message.” Beep.  Buzzz…

WHAT THE FUCK!  How the hell am I supposed to communicate with him if my calls keep going to voicemail?  And why the fuck can’t I leave a damn message?  What the fuck is he playing at?

Ring…Ring…Ring…”Hello…Chri…”

“Hey Steele, Mia and I are going to the Zig Zag for a few drinks. wanna join us?”  I guess alls well in the land of Katherine Kavanaugh

“Kate, I have a throbbing headache and booze is not going to help me.  You two enjoy yourselves.”

She sighs, “Steele, you cannot mope over…” OH NO!  NOT THIS TIME!

“KATE STOP!  Stop right there.  I CAN mope and I WILL mope.  The last time I looked in the mirror you were not there.  I appreciate you wanting to look out for me and wanting me to be happy, but I AM NOT HAPPY!  Do you understand that Kate?  No amount of Hagen Das, Chinese take-out, pizza or booze is going to make me happy.”

“All I am trying to do is…”  She has the nerve to sound defensive.

“Kate, I miss Christian.  I want to be with Christian.”

“I do not see what it is about him.  How can you stand him Steele?  He is so contro…”  REALLY?

“You mean like you are?”  I hear her gasp.

“Yeah Kate.  Where are you going to sleep tonight?  Where is Elliott?  When is the last time you spoke with him, huh Kate?”  Silence.

“That is what I thought.  Christian is not here to defend himself against you and your tirade.  And for the record, what the fuck has he done to cause you to hate him?  Huh?  What is that all about?”  Silence.

“I am waiting.”  Still nothing.

Let’s test the waters, shall we?

Be my guest.

“Kate, did I tell you Christian bought SIP and shortly afterward I was made editor?”  I cannot remember if I told her all about it or not.  That is an abridged version of the whole mess, but it is the salient information.

Another gasp, “How dare he try to buy you?”  Huh?  “What, does he think you can’t do it on your own?  Why does he want to keep you under his thumb Ana?  This is what I mean, why does he want to control your every move?”

“Do you think I should turn it down, move on to another publisher?”  Be careful Kavanaugh.

“Has his interference hurt your reputation there?”  The ‘R’ word,  “I know you are a hard worker Ana and your reputation means everything to you.  Has he damaged that with this asinine stunt?”

I grit my teeth and say, “Well, at the last staff meeting the other editors were looking at me funny, but no one came out and said anything.”  I know for a fact a few of them wanted to.  Even Roach seemed disappointed that my HR scores were high enough to allow me to stay.

“If it were me, I’d leave Steele.  I mean, I’m sure your boss would give you a good recommendation for wherever you decided to go, but you know we both worked so hard it’s a shame he couldn’t leave well enough alone so you could make it on your own.”

“You mean like you did Kate?”  Silence.

“Kate…Kate are you still there?  Do you mean like your getting an internship at your father’s company?”  Crickets.

“That is what I thought.  Kavanaugh, lets put it like this.  I love you, think the world of you, but this is my life not yours.  You have your man and I am going to have mine.  A friend will listen when I need them to, hand me a tissue when I need it or buy me a box of the damn things when I run out, but a friend is not going to tear down my confidence or self-est…”

“ANA!  I ‘ve NEVER done that to you.  How could you think that?  This is what I mean.  That self-righteous, salacious, asshole is fucking with your head.  You don’t even know who your true friend is.”  NOW DO YOU FUCKING BELIEVE ME?

“Kate, I have to go.”  I disconnect the call.

Well?

I know.  You are right about her.  I never thought of Kate as a jealous person, but then…you learn something new everyday huh?

Yepper.


First he says he loves me then I see him with some other woman, what is the damn deal?

WHOA…WHOA…WHOA!  Down Steele…down girl.

WHAT!

First of all you need an attitude change.  Second of all the man is F…I…N…E…FINE, no one can blame a woman for looking or even DROOLING at him.  You’re the one who gets her tights in a twist when that happens.  Third, YOU told the man “yes” THEN you turned around and told the man to “wait” and you practically bit his head off each time he tried to address the situation.  So WHO THE FUCK is being unreasonable here?  Wait for it…wait for it…BUZZ times up.  Still don’t know the answer?  Here, let me help…YOU!  YOU ARE BEING UNREASONABLE, CHILDISH and now you have the nerve be JEALOUS?

I told you and told you and I told you again to stop being an ass.  I told you to make sure you had your priorities straight and what did you do Miss High and Mighty?  You first sent the man around Seattle to attend any and all obligatory events stag, then you let him go to Taiwan, stag and as article after article came out you did and/or said nothing to him.  What the fuck gives you the right to utter a sound now?

Do you need assistance recalling the conversation, here let me help you:

NO!  I do not need to go back in time I was there.  I remember scripture and verse what I said to Christian and what he said to me.

Good.  There’s a reminder you do need to hear.

What the fuck could that be?

“…I want to prepare you for what the world takes seriously.  I do not want this to affect your time away from me.  I do not want you to question my love or fidelity to you no matter what the situation between us.  My heart is always in your hands baby.  I love you.”

This is not about money.  This is not about your feelings for him or his feelings for you.  This is about your insecurities and you misguided sense of independence.  What does his love have to do with your independence?

Uh…well…

Wrong answer.  He doesn’t care about what anyone else thinks.  He cares about and loves you Steele, that’s it, that’s all there is to it.  You can’t ask him for anymore.  You can’t hold your insecurities against him anymore than he can hold his insecurities against you.  You projected your fear about a situation no one can control on the man you claim to love.

Does the world take you seriously yet?

I do not know.  I mean, I go to work everyday and I carry my share of the load, so I guess I am taken seriously.

I understand you’ve shown yourself to be a dependable worker, but that’s not what I asked you.  I asked you if ‘the world’ takes you seriously yet?

HOW THE FUCK DO I KNOW?  I have not taken a before and after poll.

How do you intend to gauge the world’s view of Anastasia Rose Steele then?

I did not think about it that way.

WHAT?  WHAT WAS THAT?  I DIDN’T CATCH THAT LAST SENTENCE.  REPEAT THAT!

I SAID…I DID NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT HOW TO GAGUE WORLD OPINION OF ME!  DAMMIT!

Anastasia, what world are you even talking about?  Do you know?

I want my co-workers to take me seriously, I want my boss to take me seriously, if I get ahead in my field I want every little step to be MY win not a hand-off because someone knows Christian is part of my life.

So what world are you talking about?

ARE YOU STUPID OR SOMETHING?  I JUST TOLD YOU WHAT WORLD!  MY CO-WORKERS, KATE, JOSE, MY DAD, MY MOM!  I WANT THEM TO TAKE ME SERIOUSLY!

Where are your co-workers right now?  Where are Kate, Jose, your dad and mom right now?

I have no idea and at this very second I do not give a fuck.

Why don’t you know where they are?

I am no one’s babysitter.  My co-workers have lives of their own.  Kate is at the Zig Zag with Mia.  Jose and my mom are each somewhere in the world, I do not know where exactly.  My dad is at home in Montesano.  What does this have to do with my being taken seriously?

It has everything to do with it.  Your co-workers have lives of their own.  They’re not thinking about you sweetie.  They know you come to work on time and fulfill your assigned tasks.  Kate had her own shit-soup to sip on.  She doesn’t even work in your field, has no idea what you do for a living unless you tell her and between you, me and the lamp-post does she even give a fuck?  I think not.  What has she done to deserve to have that kind of power in your life?  Please explain that to me.

Kate graduated from college then proceeded to “inherit” an internship in her father’s company.  You see she doesn’t mind what anyone has to say about that?  Does she care what you have to say about it?  No, because that’s Kate and she knows you’d never judge her.  How does she know that?  You never have.  Why do you feel the need for her to accept you as anything other than her friend?

I wish you would see Kate for what she is.  You went to school together and she bullied you the entire time.  Her nasty attitude finally brought some good into your life that’s all.  She needs to worry about her own man before she looses him and has no one but herself to blame.  Although I’m sure she’ll come up with a way to pin it on Christian.

Your relationship with Grey is no more her business than her relationship with Elliott is yours.  The two of you have got to grow the fuck up.

Jose, well…Jose has wanted to fuck you for ages.  How you do or don’t feel about him is of no consequence.  How Jose feels has remained the same whether you reciprocated those feelings or not.  Is Grey a jealous ass?  Yes.  Does he have a valid reason to dislike Jose Rodriguez?  Yes, I believe so.  Do you have the right to expect Grey to simply forget what he saw that night outside of the bar?  No, I don’t believe you have the right to expect that from him.  You had difficulty watching him handle Leah when she had you at gunpoint and you still manage to harp on it by questioning his feelings for you.  How do you think that makes him feel?  Why is it you can walk away scot-free and Grey is left holding some kind of blame or is ‘guilty of crossing some imaginary line?  Why is he always the bad guy’?

I don’t know what else to tell you except you need to get your priorities straight.  Seeing him in a picture with another woman isn’t reason enough to contact him.  Think about it and I mean really think.  Let’s go to sleep, I’m tired and we have to be at work early tomorrow.  I’d hate for ‘the world’ to see you slipping.

Fuck you.

HA!  Is that the best you’ve got?  Grey deserves better than the way you’ve treated him and you know it.  You can lie to someone, but not to yourself.  Now, good night John Boy


As we go into SIP I ask Sawyer, “Have you heard from Christian?”  Sawyer looks at me as if I asked him to explain the meaning of life.

“No Miss Steele”, he shakes his head for emphasis, “I am assigned to protect you.  I have no knowledge of Mr. Grey’s whereabouts.”  We step to the far side of the Reception area so Claire is out of earshot.  I remember Christian saying Sawyer was head of security while Taylor was away, so he must know something. “Aren’t you currently head of security?”

His eyes widen and I raise an eyebrow.  He did not think I knew this little tidbit of information.  See caught you.  At least I thought I had until he tells me, “I was head of security while Mr. Taylor was on vacation, but he returned a while ago.  Anyway, I never spoke with Mr. Grey.  I spoke with Reynolds once or twice before Mr. Grey fired him and…” I did not let him finish.

“Mr. Grey fired Reynolds?”  I hiss as quietly as I can.  I do not remember being told this.  I remember Christian took him along to Taiwan because Taylor was on vacation and Ryan was assigned to Grey House and Escala.  What the fuck is going on here?

“Sawyer, I need to get to my office, but you and I need to have a heart to heart about what has been going on.  I am being left out of the loop.”

Ahem…

Not now.

Yes now…RIGHT NOW!

What the fuck do you want?

What the fuck makes you think you’re entitled to know about security for Grey?  Thought as long as you were free to roam about wherever you choose all was right in ‘the world’?

Ok, look.  I am going to tell you just like I told Kate.  I miss Christian.  I want to be with Christian.  I guess that means I am going to have to grow a set and fight with him tooth and nail when I feel like he is overstepping some imaginary line.  Until I get the opportunity to speak with him then I want to know WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!  Do I make myself clear?

WOO HOO…OH SHIT!  CRYSTAL!

What the fuck is so funny?

You are.  Keep in mind, anything worth having is worth fighting for.  SWAK!  No, get to work.

Sawyer takes a deep breath before telling me, “Miss Steele, with all due respect, the actions of Mr. Grey’s security detail are none of your concern.  I am not privy to that level of information therefore I do not make inquiries about it.  I know Taylor is back from his vacation.  He is the formal Head of Security.  I recommend you speak with him concerning Mr. Grey.”  The look on his face is stern.  I nod, turn and proceed to my office.

Before I walk away I tell Sawyer, “Then speak with Taylor is what I will do.  Thank you Sawyer.”

After work is finally over, I practically sprint to the front door.  “Sawyer, I need you to take me to Escala.  I need to speak with Taylor.”

“Miss Steele, Mr. Taylor is probably still at Grey House right now.  I can call him and we can make an appointment for you to…”

“AN APPOINTMENT!  WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT ABOUT?  Let me tell you something Mr. Sawyer, Christian may not be in the United States, but until he tells me in his own voice to fuck off, not you, not Taylor not Kate, NO ONE is going to stop me from communicating with or seeing Christian Trevelyn-Grey.  Do you fucking understand me?!”  I have been pissed all day and his statement was the last straw.  I am tired of this shit.

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, in the lobby stopped to listen to my none-too-quite episode, but you know what?  I…do…not…care.  I take a step back allowing Sawyer to lead the way to the door so we can get this horse and pony show underway.

Sawyer is silent all the way to Escala.  I do not know if he calls to warn Taylor that I am on my way or not.  If I were Sawyer, I would.  I want answers.  What the fuck is going on?  Who the fuck is the bimbo?  Why can’t I get in touch with Christian?

You know you are being a…

YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP TOO!  I have had enough of your mouth.  I was wrong to think anyone’s opinion mattered other than my own and Christian’s.  OK?  I WAS WRONG!

I have told Christian so many times that I love him and I will never leave him.  This is the second time I have broken that promise.  He deserves better than for me to be wishy-washy about our relationship.  Not just for general human respect, but because he has had enough shit go on in his life.  Now, I am adding to that.

Why now?  How much did the woman in the photo affect my decision?  I would be lying if I said this has nothing to do with her.  I know how handsome, caring and fun Christian is.  I know any woman in her RIGHT MIND would be a fool to walk away from a man who loves her.  Let alone one who is willing to put up with my brand of bullshit.

From what I can tell of the photograph, she looks like me and he looked star struck.  He is mine.  He will always be mine.  He said so himself before he left, “…Quite the contrary my love.  I want to prepare you for what the world takes seriously.  I do not want this to affect your time away from me.  I do not want you to question my love or fidelity to you no matter what the situation between us.  My heart is always in your hands baby.  I love you.”

We pull into the garage at Escala and I barely wait for the car to stop moving before I jump out and race to the elevator, with Sawyer on my heels.  I punch in the code but nothing happens.  Oh shit.

I look up at Sawyer and he tells me, “The codes were changed because Reynolds is no longer part of the Security Team; it had nothing to do with you Miss Steele.  We cannot risk him bearing a grudge against Mr. Grey and getting back into the apartment.  The access codes here and at Grey House have been changed.”  I nod my head as we enter the elevator.  It makes sense.  I cannot see Reynolds bearing a grudge, but…STOP IT!  It’s not your decision to make.  Isn’t that what you tell Grey all of the time?  Well this is about his home and his responsibilities to Gail, Taylor, Ryan and Sawyer as well.  They live here even if you and he don’t, so BUTT OUT!

I stand corrected.

We enter the Great Room and no one is there.  I walk over to the breakfast bar and see Gail looking through the cupboards with her back to me.  “Hi Gail.”

I tried not to startle her but it did not work.  “AH!”  She puts her hand to her chest and tries to catch her breath.  “Hello Miss Steele.  Oh, my…I wasn’t expecting anyone.  How are you dear?”  Once her breathing calms down her eyes soften.  She looks at me like I am her long lost child.  She comes around the breakfast bar and gives me a good, hard hug.

I manage not to cry and when we break apart I ask, “Have you or Taylor heard from Christian?  Do you know how he is or where he is?  I have been trying to reach him, but he is not taking my calls and my emails keep bouncing back to me.”  I take a deep breath then continue, “He has someone else doesn’t he?”

Gail takes me in her arms and rocks me side to side.  “Oh dear, I don’t know Ana, but when Jason gets home we’ll get him to tell us everything he knows; alright?”  I nod my head without leaving her embrace.  “You go and lie down and I’ll make you some tea and put together something for you to eat, ok?”  Again I nod my head.  “Good.  I’ll bring you your tea in a few moments.”

I slowly walk to Christian’s bedroom.  It is perfect.  Just as it always is when we get home from work.  I go into his closet and see where all of my clothes are gone.  I took them with me when I told him I needed space.  What confuses me is, all of his clothes are still in his closet.  He did not take anything with him?  The first thing that catches my eye is his grey tie; our favorite tie.

As I reach for it Gail appears behind me and clears her throat.  “He didn’t take anything with him.  He usually has a wardrobe available, but then he typically only goes as far as New York.  I imagine he purchased what he needed when he reached Asia.  These things will be here for when he returns.  I am making chicken potpie; it’ll take a little while to bake.  You freshen up and rest.  I’ll call you when it’s done.  I placed a cup of water and a Twining’s, English Breakfast Tea bag on the table beside the bed.”  She pats my shoulder then quietly leaves the room.

I cannot lie down here.  It feels wrong to be here when Christian is not.  I can smell his scent throughout the room and I see the picture of him and that woman in my minds eye.  What am I going to do?


“Taylor what does this mean?  How can a cellphone get a virus and how can any of that stop me from getting in touch with Christian?”  I am confused and frustrated at all of this technology mumbo-jumbo.

“Miss Steele, I am telling you what Barney found when he remoted into your computer and the results of his overview of your phone.  Here, take this BlackBerry.  It is brand new with a different phone number, which is here.  I recommend you only give it to your parents until we can resolve this issue.  Do you have a landline at home?”

I look at him puzzled.  Doesn’t everyone have a home phone?  “Yes, but we do not really use it.”

“Good, do not use it until I give you clearance to do so.”  Huh?

“Taylor is this all really necessary?”  I mean come on dude.

I do not know what I said, but whatever it was, I pissed him off because he glares directly into my eyes and asks, “Miss Steele, do you want to see him again?”

He has got you there.  I nod without saying a word.

“That is what I thought.  Follow my instructions to the letter.  Gail and I are going to Australia.  I will update him on what is going on here.  Please keep Sawyer close to you.  If you like, you are more than welcome to stay here at Escala.”  I shake my head no, that is too much to ask, besides, I cannot stand to be here without Christian.

“That will not be necessary Taylor, but if I change my mind, would it be alright to come back?”

“Of course it is alright, anytime, no matter what.  Now if you will excuse me, I have things I need to do.”  He gives me a quick nod and a pat on my shoulder before going into his office.

I look at Gail who asks, “Ana, are you certain you don’t want to stay tonight?  You’re already here.  I’m sure Jason and I won’t be leaving immediately.  How about it?”  I know she worries about me and I miss her terribly, but I just can’t.

“Thank you, but no Gail.  I really can’t stay here without Christian.  You both travel safe.”  I give Gail a final hug before we say goodbye.


“Good night John Boy” closing dialogue from the television series The Waltons (1972-1981)

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

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

Chapter 8 | Déjà Vu

GREY

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

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

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

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

We have to get out of here, NOW!

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


 

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

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

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

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

He will find another cash cow I am sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lights…camera…action Grey!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations Grey.

What are you congratulating me for?

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

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

WHAT…WHAT’s  WRONG?

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

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

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

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

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

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

True.


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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