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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 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 11 It’s Up To Me

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

Chapter 11 | It’s Up To Me

GREY

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

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

Something ELSE to discuss with dear ‘ole Taylor.

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

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

Down Jason, she’s not the enemy. 

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

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

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

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

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

Fine, but later he gets it.

Fair enough.

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

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

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

“Mr. Taylor is it?”  Taylor nods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BITCH!


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

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

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

Hmm, never considered them, huh Grey?

I guess she had interviews today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

She is too much.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No sir.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ring…Ring…”Christian?”

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

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

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

“God I can’t wait to be with you.”

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

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

“Including a toothbrush?”

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

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

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

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

STEELE

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

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

You are kidding me…right?

“Ana?  Hi, is there something wrong?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No but I will.  “Yes.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sure thing Ros and thank you.”

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

Not you.  Not now.  I am busy…period.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lie, Lie, Lie

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

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

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

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

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

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


“Hello Stephen.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So am I.  I’ll think about it later.

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 10 First Impressions

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

Chapter 10 | First Impressions

GREY

“She has a new BlackBerry and new cellphone number.  Here sir.”

I immediately search my pockets for my phone.  “I have to call her.  I have to reach her.  She’s going to think I don’t love her anymore.  I know Ana’s insecurities.   I know what she’s thinking because I get the same way when it comes to her.”

I find my phone and call her.  As I put the phone to my ear, I see Taylor looking at me with his eyes wide open, but I don’t have time for whatever he’s thinking about, my baby needs me.

Ring…Ring…Ring…Ring…”Hello, this is Ana, I am not available at this time, but if you leave a message I will return your call at my earliest convenience.  Beep.

“Ana…Baby…where are you?  I talked to Taylor and he told me about your BlackBerry and laptop.  Baby, please have Sawyer take you back to Escala and call me from my office.  Don’t use an unsecured line.  I figure you didn’t try to call from your office or your home telephone, which is good Baby.  Please call me again.  I miss you and I love you Baby…always.  Bye” then her voicemail cuts off the call.

I’m getting more and more nervous as I think over how elaborate this scheme is.  If this is Elena, who in the fuck has she paired up with to put this all in motion?  Is she that fucking brilliant?  She is a fucking glorified hairdresser for fuck sake.

I look up at Taylor, what the fuck is he still gawking at?  “WHAT?”  I bark.  I shouldn’t take this out on Taylor.  He had no way of knowing.  I’m sure Ana didn’t tell Sawyer.  She probably confided in Miss Kavanaugh though.  The Heavenly Father and all the Apostles know Miss Kavanaugh hates my fucking guts.

I sit down and put my head in my hands.  “Sir?’  I look up at Taylor with every bit of stress, fear and longing that I feel showing on my face. “She has not forgotten you.  She loves you as well.”

“Sir, we all thought you were moving on when the stories of you and the young lady…”

“Ella.  Her name is Ella Brown.  She’s originally from Melbourne.  She came to Townsville on vacation and to find an internship.  Her family then moved here as well.”  I tell Taylor in a monotone voice.

If he thought I was moving on, then I know Anastasia thought the same thing.  Two emotions I understand more than any others are anger and jealousy.

I shake my head at the irony of the situation.  I left Seattle so she could “get her thoughts and feelings straight” and what do I do?  I end up muddying the water even more.  I close my eyes, groan and shake my head again.

Stop it Grey.  You have done nothing wrong here.

“Sir?”  Taylor again?  I forgot he was sitting there.

“Yes Taylor.”  I say flatly.

“Permission…”

ENOUGH OF THAT SHIT!

“Taylor, just speak dammit!”

He straightens up in his chair, clears his throat and says, “We were all mistaken, sir.  In the past, during times of stress, various young ladies, resembling Miss Brown, have entered and exited your life in rapid succession.  I have had Welch monitoring you…”

I slowly raise my head in shock.  He’s had me under surveillance?  “How long?”  I manage to whisper.

“Since you told me you fired Reynolds and sent him back to Seattle.  It is my duty to protect you Mr. Grey, whether you want me to or not.  I notified Welch and called in a few favors to have you monitored.  Yes sir, you are still being monitored.  Once we sort out your security here, we can see about releasing the current detail.”  He sighs and sits back in his seat, no doubt waiting for me to explode.

However, because of the various arguments we’ve had, Ella has taught me better.  This time I’m able to think fast enough and say to myself, “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength” before I speak to Taylor again.

“Taylor, I appreciate that you take your job seriously and I admire your stealth, but I’m fine.  Like I said, no one knows me here and if they do, they do not give a flying fuck about me.  I’m not the only wealthy individual under the moon and I won’t be the last.  If you want to put security alarms inside the house to detect burglars,” I look him directly in the eyes, “then fine.  Please be sure the proper authorities will be alerted if need be, otherwise, I do not need nor do I want to be monitored or assigned Close Personal Protection.  If I’m in Seattle, that will be a different story, but here it is not necessary.”

“I’m not firing you or Ryan or Sawyer because Seattle is different.  There are people and places associated with me that need to be kept secure, but I don’t need that kind of protection.  You and Welch have vetted the security personnel at Grey House Townsville and you’re more than welcome to have a surprise inspection of their functioning.  As far as I’m concerned, if you’re willing to take on the responsibility, you’re the Head of all GEH Security, but I can’t stress to you enough, I…do…not…need…protection.”  There, was that calm enough?  I think it was.

Yepper boy, you done good.

It now is Taylor’s turn to be speechless.  I want to laugh and take a picture of him.  The definition of stoicism has been blown out of the water.  I have to smile.

Once he collects his thoughts he says, “Well, sir, I appreciate the responsibility and of course I am up to the task.  I will go over to the new office tomorrow and take a look around to make sure things are up to GEH Standards.  I recommend Barney do the same for the IT Department.”

I nod my head.  “I can’t agree with you enough Taylor.  I’ll leave all of that for you and Barney to arrange.  All I ask is that you keep me up to date.”

“Mr. Grey?  Christian?  You are not returning to Seattle are you?”  He actually has a note of sadness in his voice.  I shrug my shoulders.  Taylor nods his head and goes to the kitchen for another lager.

You have to make a decision sooner or later Grey.  You know that right?  What about Anastasia?  Are you going to bring her here?  What about your family, your mom?  It would break her heart.  She likes to see you at least once per week and because of how obstinate YOU are, she gives you a pass with once per month and regular telephone calls.  So…what…?

Why do you want to stay here Grey?  What’s so special about this place, besides the obvious?

What do you mean, “the obvious”?

Not what you think, unless that’s the reason.  “The obvious” being the sand, the sun, the beauty of the seas almost everywhere you look and the newness of it all, that’s what I mean?  Why, what do YOU mean?

Ring…Ring…Ring…

“ANASTASIA?”

“Why no Pet.  I thought you were finished with…her.”  I groan at the sound of her voice.  If I thought being cussed out by my father on a continual basis was bad, this is like chewing hot glass.  Taylor gives me a questioning look and raises an eyebrow when he hears me groan.

I mouth ‘Bitch Troll’ and both of his eyebrows fly up.  He nods and puts up two fingers in a peace sign and mouths ‘two minutes’.  I nod and go back to the ‘call’.

“…wonderful to see you have found a new one.  She is quite pretty.  You really do have a standard type don’t you?”  Cackling bitch.  “I could not see her body, but I would assume since she turned your head that her figure is divine.  Is she into the scene?  What is her name?  Would you like me to do some checking into her…”I watch Taylor throughout Elena’s monologue.

All GEH BlackBerrys, including mine, are equipped with mSpy.  While Taylor is the only one with security clearance to monitor my calls he rarely does so.  I won’t say he has never monitored my calls because there have been a few instances where I asked him to listen to and record my conversation.  This is one of those times.

I do not bother to answer any of her questions I simply ask my own.  “What do you want Mrs. Lincoln?  I told you verbally and by text message to leave me alone.  I gifted you the salon chain for the sole purpose of severing all ties with you, so what the fuck do you want?”

The line goes quiet for a few seconds then I hear the venom in her voice as she hisses, “How dare you speak to me that way.  I taught you everything you needed to know in order to succeed.  I made you the man you are today.  If it were not for me you…”

SHUT THIS BITCH DOWN AGAIN GREY…PRONTO!!!

“ELENA ENOUGH!” I shout so loud the windows in the living room vibrate.  “Once and for all, the ONLY thing you did was fuck me, beat me and convince me it was exactly what I needed if I was going to succeed in life.  You did not GIVE me the brains to make not one fucking business decision.  Do you know the legal structure of an acquisition?  What is a Triangular Merger?  What are the five most common ways to value a business?  What are the fundamental differences between a merger and an acquisition?”  Nothing but silence fills the telephone line.

“That is what the fuck I thought!  When you understand the principles of business and/or M&A THEN you can talk to me about what you gave, taught and made me.  I returned the seed money you stole from your now ex-husband and as I stated earlier I GIFTED to you not SOLD to you OR out from under you, as I should have, the salon chain.  Now, what the fuck do you want?”  I am panting for breath at this point.  I know for a fact my face is fire engine red.  My hands are trembling and I feel a sharp pain in both of my temples.

Calm down Grey.  Blowing a blood vessel isn’t going to accomplish anything.  Be very careful what you say to the old cow.  We both know we need open lines of communication with this bitch to figure out what the fuck she did to Steele’s phone and laptop.  Please always remember and do not ever forget, “keep your friends close and THIS ABOMINABLE enemy closer.”

I disagree wholeheartedly with your thinking and I really don’t give a fuck.  However, I do know that ‘You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength’ is definitely needed here.

I take a couple of deep breaths then continue, “Mrs. Lincoln, I ask again.  Is there an express purpose for your call?”  I’ve relaxed the tension in my shoulders and calmed my voice without going all the way to dad’s “deadly whisper”, but the throbbing in my head is still present.

“Pet,” every fucking time she calls me that my skin crawls, “I am only concerned for your wellbeing.  I have not heard from you since before you left the United States and even then you were so harsh towards me it was very disconcerting.  I can only attribute such attitude and behavior to your being overwhelmed with that Anastasia person.  Otherwise, you would never have treated me that way.”

Wanna bet bitch.  HA!

“I was hoping your travels would calm you and give you a better perspective on where your loyalties lie.”  I have GOT to get off of this phone.

“Mrs. Lincoln, I have a meeting to attend” and with that, I end the call.

I fall into the chair behind me, drop my head back and close my eyes.  I can honestly say, for the first time in my life I feel utterly defeated.  I am never going to get rid of that woman am I?

Yes, WE’LL get rid of that battle-ax.  It may not happen as quickly as we’d like, but it WILL happen.

How?  When?  How fucking much longer?  She’s worse than…than…actually, I cannot think of anything worse than her.  God, please get that ewe out of my life, for good.  I do not care how you do it, just please do it please.  I’m begging you.

God doesn’t work that way and you know it.  Reason, season, lifetime.  She came into your life for a reason during the wrong season.  She won’t last for a lifetime.  Believe me.  She will not last.  Now, come on.  We have a fundraising committee meeting to attend or have you forgotten?

Oh fuck me.  That’s tonight isn’t it?  “FUCK!”

Oopsey…hee, hee, hee.  Someone forgot he wasn’t alone.

“Fucker.”  I look over at a confused Taylor and say, “Sorry.  I forgot I wasn’t alone.  I have a fundraising committee meeting to attend this evening so I’ll be gone for a couple of hours.  Taylor, you and Mrs. Jones make yourselves at home and I’ll see you both later.”

Since when did Taylor start rolling his eyes, let alone rolling them at me?  “Is there a problem Mr. Taylor?”

“Yes sir there is.  Security or the lack thereof.”  Oh my God does this man ever quit?  And they say I’m hardheaded.

“Taylor, N…O…means…say it with me…”

“No”, we say in unison.

“Good boy.  Now, I’ll see you later and if you have me followed I’ll dock your pay.”

Ha, ha…that one got him.

I smile and head to the car.


“Hello Love, the meeting is this way.”  I follow Ella to the meeting room.  The Brown Family is spearheading an event designed to raise funds for Townsville Communities for Children.  It’s along the same lines as my mom’s organization, Coping Together.  I’m not necessarily interested in participating in the planning but I have no problem attending the event and no problem with making a donation.

I tried to get out of going to the steering committee meeting by telling Ella I had work to do, but she was quite insistent.  Seems her grandfather and grandmother began working with the group in 2005, now it is a family legacy.

What does her family legacy have to do with us?

Just play the fuck along.  It’s this or listen to Taylor ramble on about ‘security or the lack thereof’.  Which do you prefer?

Well, when you put it like that…

Exactly.  Now shut up and listen.

“…Children are the life blood of the world, Love.  Yes we all need help, even adults, but children are the most vulnerable and most easily neglected members of us all.  If you don’t reach out and help a child in time, it becomes much harder to help them as an adult.”

She’s got a point there.

Although Ella made the concept sound as basic as ‘one plus one’, it struck a chord for me.  Elena reached me when I was a vulnerable child.  She took advantage of my weaknesses and ensnared me physically and mentally, so much so it has been almost impossible for anyone to get close to me now that I’m an adult.

Needless to say, here I am.  Ella’s brothers, Eran and Emerson are the chairman and co-chairman for this year’s event.  Their theme is a beach party, plain and simple.  Being the newcomer to the area I’m not going to try and tell anyone what to do.

You don’t really do fundraising anyway, right?  Your specialty is check writing.

It raises the funds doesn’t it?

Well…

I thought so, now shut the fuck up and listen, you may learn something asshole.

Takes one Grey.

That’s gotten really old, ya know. You need a new comeback.

No, you need to respond to the question…ha, ha, ha…so much for your ability to multitask.

Sure enough, everyone at the table is looking at me expectantly, “Pardon me, what was the question?”  I’m snapped out of my trance and can’t hide my embarrassment.

Ella smiles, “Mr. Grey,” Love she mouths, “are you in favor of a beach party for this year’s fundraising event?

Yea, nay or do you abstain?”  Then she winks, I thought at me, but the man beside me elbows me in the ribs and winks as well.

“Yea.”  I have a questioning sound in my voice, but I gather that’s what she wanted me to say.

Eran says, “Good, this year’s event will be a beach party.  Thank you all for coming to this meeting and please feel free to volunteer for any or ALL of the committees on the list that is being passed around.”  Again the man to my left elbows me, but this time Ella shakes her head at him then he gets up and walks away.

That fucker was asking for an ass whipping, you know?

I concur.

Time to get the fuck out of here Grey, before we get ambushed into something.

I am on my way out the door when Ella calls from across the room, “Mr. GREY!  Not so fast.”  Shit.  I stop dead in my tracks and turn around slowly.

When I turn I’m faced with the four Brown heirs.  Ella steps forward as her brothers stand behind her, ramrod straight, shoulder-to-shoulder with their hands clasped behind their backs.  They have a ‘we dare you to fuck with her’ look on their faces.  I’m amused, as well as impressed.

Mia would be in Heaven if she could get you and Elliott to heel like that…hee, hee, hee.

“Yes Miss Brown.  How may I help you?”  I say with a smile.

She turns to her brothers and tells them, “Back off fellas.  He’s a friend not a foe.”  The men relax their shoulders and now cross their hands in front of themselves.  Ella’s not impressed at that stance so she shouts, “Dammit BOYS I told you to stand down.  Do I have to show my ENTIRE ass to make you understand?”

I am shocked by her reaction to them but they’re not.  “Sorry Ellie.”  One of the men says with a sad puppy dog look on his face.  The other two men nod then bow their heads.  I cover my smile with my hand before I end up in trouble too.

“No, I was going to introduce you to my brothers, however, this bunch of assholes” she motions behind her, “don’t even resemble them so let me thank you for attending our meeting and hope you participate in the execution of our event as well.”  Then she turns and sticks her tongue out at the three men before turning back to me to say, “Come on Love, let them stand there and stare.”  Ella takes my hand and leads me out the door.

I take a quick look behind us to see three men arguing with each other, throwing their hands in the air and shaking their heads in exhaustion.

Oh this is too much.

As I walk Lil Miss Dynamite to her car I hear her mumbling, “…fucking assholes…all those bitches they’ve brought home…actually was a whore…gold-diggers…I can’t have a friend…bastards.”

WHOA she is pissed to the gills dude.  Watch out.

“Ella, are you ok?”  That was all I said, but apparently that was all it took.

“Those fucking asses have brought all sorts of bitches into OUR lives over the years.  From a whore, and I mean walk the street and fuck for pay whore, to three different gold-diggers who had their pregnant roommates take the pregnancy tests for them and brought those witches’ sonograms to our home for my GRANDFATHER to see then there are the various, random, plain old, everyday mean bitches.  I’ve had to politely meet them all and give them the benefit of the doubt until they proved themselves otherwise, which they ALWAYS fucking have.”  She puffing and panting at this point.

“All I wanted to do was introduce them to a friend and they act as though they’re guarding the Prime Minister.  HOW FUCKING DARE THEY!  Not once have I brought home some straggling fucker and tried to say he was a romantic interest.  This time I didn’t even bring you home.  HOW FUCKING DARE THEY!”  Once she is winded she leans against her car.

“I never had any friends in high school or even in college.  Is this how friends usually behave?”  I am being half serious and have humorous.

Ella looks up at me with soften eyes and says, “When a friend introduces you to people who don’t know you and have no reason to dislike you it is.”

I return her smile, take her hand and say “Thank you.”


Knock…Knock…that can only be Taylor.

“Come in Taylor.”  I don’t look up from my work.  “Mr. Grey, I completed my inspection of the facility.  I found a few weaknesses in the Reception and cafeteria areas, but nothing major.  Welch and I will have the personnel updated and resolve the issue before end of business tomorrow.”

That got my attention.  I raise my head and ask, “Anything specific I should know Taylor?”  What the fuck kind of trouble can there be in the cafeteria?

“The former receptionist signed for a few deliveries without checking the carriers identification and basically the same situation in the cafeteria.  The department manager accepted a provision without checking the courier’s credentials.  I will be meeting with all security personnel later today to review GEH Security Protocol, Policies and Procedures.  Tomorrow I would like to meet with the department heads for the same review.  That is why I am here.”

He loves this shit.  It’s GEH’s beginning all over again.  He feels it too I know he does.  He gets to put his foot in security detail’s asses and to torment department heads all day.  It’s a wet dream for Taylor.  I look him straight in the eyes and do not blink when I ask, “Feels good don’t it?”  He gives me a small smirk and a quick nod of his head.

“Any word from Welch?” He gives a small shake of his head and leaves.  I sigh.  This is fucking ridiculous.  A computer virus I can see, even something that will mess up emails I can just about believe that, but a cellphone?  A BlackBerry?  Really?  What the fuck?

I run my hand through my hair and stop…I haven’t done that since I’ve been here.  Seattle is no good for me.  I was so relaxed I didn’t even realize it.  Taylor and security, the Bitch Troll period and the prospect of something affecting my relationship with Ana, this shit is too much.  I shake my head and go back to my spreadsheets.

Buzz…Buzz…I catch my BlackBerry before it gets to the third ring.  “Grey!”

Short and loud as usual huh?

“CHRISTIAN!”  Oh my God.

“ANA!?  Baby is it really you?  Where are you Baby?  Taylor told me everything.  Did you get my message?  I miss you so much.”  I know she can hear the smile and relief in my voice as I fire off questions to her.

“I miss you too Christian.”  She sounds so sad it makes my heart hurt.

After a long pause she asks, “Who is the woman Christian?  Is she your submissive?”  I gasp.

What the fuck?

I can’t help but get angry.  “Do you think that little of me Anastasia?  Is it impossible for me to go without sex or a submissive?  Is that what you are worried about, whether or not I got some ass since we have been apart?  Well no.  She is not my submissive and as hard as it may be for you to believe, I have not had any since the last time we were together.  Can YOU say the same?”  Where the fuck does she get off?

I haven’t talked with her in weeks and the only thing she has to say is ‘I miss you’ and ‘who are you fucking’?  I am at an absolute loss.  It’s not like I haven’t had AMPLE opportunity to get a decent fuck and there are BDSM clubs all over the world.  For some reason it seems to be the craze.

“What do you expect me to think Christian?”  With that bitchy tone, I don’t give a fuck what she thinks or how she feels right this second.

“Miss Steele, was there a reason for your call other than to accuse me of being a man-whore?  For God sake Anastasia, I was monogamous with my subs, which I had no emotional connection to at all.  How the fuck could I cheat on you?  Why would you think I’d ever cheat on you?”  I hear her gasp.

I think she knows she fucked up…again.

I have to remember ‘You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength’.  One of these days I hope to meet Mr. Brown.  I take a deep cleansing breath then ask, “Ana, are you going to come see me?  Do you want to see me?”

“I apologize Christian.  I do not for one second think you are a man-whore.  You have never given me reason to think that way, I was just jealous.  Yes, I want to see you Christian.”  I think I can hear tears in her voice.  Oh please Baby, do not cry.

“I can have the jet ready by late tomorrow afternoon.  Tell Roach…” She stops me in my tracks.

“Oh no Christian.  I have to wait until Friday after work.”  She says it just like I asked her to go to the movies on a weekday and she needs to wait until the weekend.

“Alright Ana,” I sigh, “I’ll let Stephen know.  He needs to prepare the jet and himself for the flight.”  It is not as easy as she might think.  Stephen is a professional, but he has his limits too and I have to respect them.  “I cannot wait to see you.”  I feel at ease again.

“Neither can I.  Bye Christian.”

“Laters baby.”


“Gail, as usual that was the best meal I’ve ever had.”  It’s fucking great to come home to more than cold cereal and a take out menu.

You really need to learn how to cook something.  While Gail is here ask her for some lessons:  you know, how to boil water or make toast.

OOO! If you get REAL good, she can show you how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.  That’d be yummy, huh Grey?

If it would shut you up, I would let you starve.

Bullshit, you’d feel bad.  Get it?

“Thank you Mr. Grey.  I didn’t make dessert but if you like there’s ice cream in the freezer.”

REALLY?

“When did we get ice cream Gail?”  I don’t remember buying any.

“Oh, I picked it up when I went shopping.  It is nothing special, just plain old vanilla, but I can dress it up if you like.”

OH HELL NO!  I LOVE YOU GAIL!

I smile and shake my head.  “No Gail, not tonight.  Thank you though.”

Never thought you would say no to vanilla again did you Grey?  WOO HOO!  This is too much.

Are you finished?  We have that damn committee meeting and to get to the bottom of this fucking phone thing.

Ahem…cough…yeah I am ready now.

I turn to him at the dining room table and ask, “Ok Taylor, what do you and Welch know about this phone mess?  And for the record, this shit better be good because I still can’t believe it.”  If Taylor and Gail hadn’t showed up when they did…I can’t imagine where Ana and I’d be now.

Well, it’s not like you forgot about her.  She colors every little step you take.  The only reason you’ve been able to keep your shit to yourself is because Steele isn’t here.  It has only ever been her, you know?

Yes I know that, but does she?  I understand her being jealous, like I said I get the same way when it comes to her.  I’m not so stupid not to admit that, but her coming all this way after all this time simply because she thinks I’ve been unfaithful…really?  That’s not like Ana at all.

No, because you are destined to repeat all of this shit again at some point.  However, you’re more are important to her dude.  If she did not want you at all, she would’ve chalked it up to a loss and moved on in Seattle.

She is a kid in the most literal sense.  Your little bookworm, remember?  Her inhibitions are in control now.  Her same ‘ole same ‘ole comfort zone is in control now.  She has to see the writing on the wall and make her own decision, not listen to the decisions of those around her.  Those who see you in the suit with the shitty “motherfucker I’ll bite you” look on your pretty little face…hee, hee, hee.

As shitty as you can be, you can grow up and you can change.  She’s missing out on your change.  The change she initiated.  When she gets here, start over.  And if she pitches a bitch about something, find out why there’s a problem.  She’s away from everything here.  There are no outside influences.  She has to see you and nothing else, just like it should be.

You two aren’t going to agree on everything and that’s wonderful.  You should be friends as well as lovers and a true friend tells you like it is and pulls your ass back when you’ve gone too far.  When you can’t see the forest for the trees your friend tells you to open your eyes and look the fuck out.  She needs to do that with a few aspects of her life.  Just like you have to do it with yours and pay attention when she points out how much of a prick you’re being.  While you are one hell of a motherfucker, you aren’t perfect dude.

“…ahem, Mr. Grey?  Are you with us?”

“Huh?  I apologize Taylor.  No, I didn’t hear a word you said.  I drifted off.  I’ve been doing that a lot since I got here.”

Taylor smiles at me and says, “as long as it doesn’t affect business, then it’s not a bad thing.  Back to the matter at hand, Barney traced the virus to a plain old computer hacker…”

“O…k…”

“…there are tips and videos online that give detailed instructions on how to hack into even a secure Wired Equivalent Privacy network.  When Barney asked for Miss Steele’s computer to be set up the vendor used a Wi-Fi Protected Access II, which although it is highly secure it is not infallible.”  My head is spinning.  He sounds just like Barney.  Taylor is speaking slower than Barney does, but I’m still lost.

“So the basics are there was a breach in the Wi-Fi network for her computer and the virus was planted, is that what you are getting at?”

“Yes sir.”

“But we’re still at ground zero.  Who the fuck would bother?  Even if it was Elena, who the fuck did she find to do all of this shit for her?  This is fucking ridiculous and I have a meeting to attend.  I’ll be back.  If you’re still awake, I need to know who did this.  That’s all I care about right this second.  Who fucking broke into her computer?  Who texted her the ‘tainted’ pictures?  Who!”  I can see how easy it is to get her cellphone number and text her, that I get.  A computer virus, I get that too, but BOTH of them and with such attention to detail.  Come the fuck on.  Elena ain’t THAT smart.”

No, but there’s no telling what one, or more, of her submissive’s can do.

True.


The days events must all show on my face when I walk into the conference room because Ella looks and me and frowns.  She gets the same little “v” between her eyebrows when she frowns.  She does not get a chance to speak with me before Eran calls the meeting to order.

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen.  I call this meeting to order.  Our purpose of gathering tonight is to verify the commitments you have each made toward our event and find out the status of your progress.  So, without further ado we will hear from the Media and Communications Committee.  Since Emerson is one of the Steering Committee Chairmen he kindly handed that task off to Ella.  Ella, tell us about your progress.”

And so the night precedes, Audio/Visual, Budget/Finance, Communications, Decorations, Logistics…”Ahem, Mr. Grey?  You were in charge of Security were you not?”

What the fuck now?  Oh yeah, this committee shit.  “Yes, yes that is correct.  My Head of Security vetted one hundred perspective candidates.  He and his second are in the process of narrowing that down to seventy-five personnel.  Will that be enough?”  They have a pretty large stretch of beach open for this thing and are expecting a grand turnout so I wonder if they’ll actually need more.  I told Taylor to vet five hundred just in case.

“Actually, if you could extend your search and actually hire a full one hundred guards we would appreciate it.  Although this event is an advance pay event, we want to be prepared for possible uninvited guests as well.”  I nod and send Taylor and Welch both a text advising what Mr. Brown requested.

He raises an eyebrow at me so I tell him, “I am conveying your message.”

“Why, thank you.”  Fucker.  I did not volunteer for this shit I got drafted.  I will write a fucking check and call it a day.  I see Ella shaking her head at me from across the table.  I sigh and nod at her brother.

Prick.

He continues on with the various committee chairmen then, thankfully, this shit is over.  “Thank you for all of your effort.  We should be ready for final updates next week.  Meeting adjourned.”  Can I retreat now?

“Grey!”

Groan.  Not again.  They left us alone for the last few meetings. What the fuck do they want now?

“Hello Mr. Grey.  I am Eran Brown and this is my brother Emerson.  We wanted to properly introduce ourselves.  It seems you have become rather close to our little sister and we felt as though we should engage you in a direct conversation.”

“Yes Mr. Grey.  If you have a few moments we would like to speak with you.”  Emerson looks like he wants to crack his knuckles as he narrows his eyes at me.

“Sure thing fellas.  Let’s ‘talk’.”  I haven’t had a good ‘ole fashioned street fight in a few years, but it’s like riding a bike, you know.  These two are tall, but not quite as tall as me.  Neither guy looks like he works out and if so, they need to work harder.  You can see the family resemblance.  They each have the curly dark auburn hair, crystal blue almond-shaped eyes and a square jaw line.

“So Grey”, I guess Eran is the voice here, “you have been spending quite a bit of time with our sister.  What exactly is going on?”  The snarl on his face is unmistakable.  They remind me of Elliott and myself when it comes to Mia.

Before I can answer, Emerson chimes in, “FYI Grey, we know about you.  Anastasia Steele, isn’t that your fiancée’s name?  Where is she?  You’ve been here a long time.  Why hasn’t anyone seen her?”

Then it is back to Eran, “We did some checking into you Grey and we didn’t like what we saw.  You’re bad news and we don’t want our sister involved with the likes of you.”

Now Emerson, “So what is it Grey?  Why are you nosing around our sister?”  What the fuck, is this a tennis match?

There is a millisecond pause in the ping-pong interrogation, I open my mouth to respond when I hear from somewhere behind me…”DO…NOT…SAY…ONE…WORD!”  She didn’t yell.  It wasn’t necessary.  Although she enunciated each word almost too quietly, her intended audience heard her clearly.

“Oh shit.”  The two of them moan simultaneously.

Well fuck me upside-down. She has them by the short hairs…again.  I love this chick.

Slowly, painfully so, for her brothers, Ella strides over to where we’re standing.  You can hear the calculated clicks of her Manolo Blahnik’s on concrete the floor.  I manage not to smile, but the inside of my cheek is killing me from how hard I have to bite down on it.

Stitches may very well be in order after this plays out, but it’s so fucking worth it to see this woman in action.

She stands between us all, coming no higher than the middle of my chest.  Then she hisses, “I told you once, stay out of my affairs.  This man is my friend.  Just because you two don’t know how to keep your peckers in your pants doesn’t mean I don’t know how to keep my legs and mouth closed”

“He has been a friend to me and that…is…all.”  She growls.  “If I see or hear of this type of behavior again from either of you, I will show up on YOUR doorstep Ere, or in the hall of YOUR apartment building Em in my ninja gear and you know what’ll happen.”

The two fuckers eyebrows jump up to their foreheads and beads of sweat start to form.

OH MY FUCKING GOD!  She’s the fucking TRUTH!  Grey, stay away from her, do you understand me?  Don’t piss this broad off AT ALL!

YES SIR!

“And tell Ev exactly what the fuck I said so there’s no mistake.  If you paraphrase or half-ass on my statement, you’ll regret it.”  Then she turns to me, smiles and winks before saying, “Have a good evening Love”, as she prances away like nothing ever happened.

It goes without saying that the Brown brothers are speechless.  They each nod at me then quickly walk away.

As I let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding I hear snickers coming from the doorway beside me.  One of the older ladies on the committee shakes her head and advises me “You really don’t want to cross Ella.  She is a wonderful girl and a beautiful young lady, but she takes no shit from anyone especially her brothers.  She’s as harmless as a lamb until you push the wrong button…then lookout.”  She raises an eyebrow at the last two words.

We walk out of the building and the woman, I can’t recall her name, continues “After Ella’s mother passed away, her brothers became quite protective of her, to the point where they didn’t want her to go to college.”

“Ella got permission from her grandfather to break family tradition and go to Hawaii Pacific rather than Melbourne just to be away from her brothers.  Since no one goes against the patriarch of the Brown family, Ella went to school in the United States and the rest is history.”  I thank my fellow committee member for the information and proceed, carefully, to my car, which is exactly where Ella is standing.

“Hello Love.  I do apologize for my brazen display of ignorance.  Those goons can bring out the worst in me sometimes.  I don’t follow my own advice when it comes to them.”

Split personality?  This is what Steele keeps telling you about.  We need to keep an eye on her.

“No apologies necessary, just don’t do that shit to me and we will be fine.”  She crosses her heart.

“I have two questions.”  I’m almost too afraid of the answers.

“Sure, what are they Love?”  She flips her hand as if whatever I have to say is of no consequence to her.

“What is your ninja gear and what WILL happen?”  She holds her forehead for a minute then turns fire engine red before clearing her throat.

“Well, my ninja gear is a black hoodie, black yoga pants and black sneakers; Chucks usually.  My weapon of choice is a black aluminum bat, Louisville Slugger works well.”  She looks me straight in the eye as if she’s daring me to say something.

When I just stand there, she continues.  “As part of my research and dissertation in Hawaii, I was given the opportunity to travel by submarine to various locations and collect algae, sea water and even marine life samples.  Deep sea diving is something to behold.”

“Anyway, one of the professors was a retired mariner who spent time on submarines.  He reminded me of my grandfather.  As I worked, he told me about “submarine safety” so to speak.  He was aware of instances where angry sailors would wait in a doorway for a shipmate to walk thorough and sucker punch them.  If the vessel was on the surface, they would simply fling the body overboard at night, into the pitch black sea.”  A shiver runs, quickly, down my spine.

YEP!  It’s official. DON’T FUCK WITH THIS BITCH!  Neither Lincoln nor Kavanaugh would stand a chance.

“When I got home, Emerson stuck his nose in my business.  One night, he was walking through the hall of the family home and I was waiting in a doorway.  When he came through I kicked him in his knee.  Once he was down I punched him as hard as I could in the face, jaw, nose, eyes it didn’t matter as long as it was his head.  Hurt the hell out of my hands.  Whenever my brothers start to crowd me, I remind them what I’m capable of and they back off.”

“I’ve had to polish my MMA technique and I use a bat instead of my hands when I am really pissed off.  An aluminum bat is a touch easier to clean and does not leave splinters like a wooden bat will.  I can hold my own against them and others when need be.”  She gives a strong nod of her head for emphasis.

“Well Miss Brown, it’s good to know you are on my side.”  Let’s keep it that way.

“Let’s keep it that way Love.  Would you care for coffee, it’s still early.”  We got out of that meeting sooner than we thought we would.

“Sure, the usual place?”  I ask.

“Yep.  See you in a bit?” Then with a little wink and a wave, she is gone.


We meet at the coffeehouse where it all started.  Hard to believe I thought she was meek and timid just because of her stature.  This woman is larger than life and she’s helped me sort through my thoughts and feelings about work, family and my personal life.  She may be a Marine Biologist, but she has Flynn beat by a mile.

“Here you go Love.  Now, when is Anastasia going to be here?”  I choke on my coffee.

“What makes you think she’s coming here?  I mean she is.  She will leave the US on Friday evening.  How did you know she was coming here?”

“The last time we spoke, you told me how much you love and miss her.  You told me you felt a hole in your heart and you didn’t know what to do to fill it.  You looked so sad Love.  What did I tell you?  What do I always tell you when is comes to your ‘one true’?”

“If am hers she will find me…”  She nods encouragingly.

“And…”  She probes; motioning for me to continue.

“If she is mine I will let her.”  It’s almost like I am afraid to think of this phrase.  I must ask her where she found it.

“Did you call her or vice versa?”

“She called me, but she had been trying to reach me for some time and wasn’t able to get through.  Apparently there was some ‘interference’.”  I say with gritted teeth, thinking about the Bitch Troll and her latest stunt.

“That would be the Bitch Troll you were mumbling about earlier this evening correct?”  She speaks before sipping her coffee.

“I never said that!”  Did I?  I was a little out of it during the meeting, but I didn’t say anything to anyone, did I?

“Good grief Charlie Brown.  I read your lips.  You were cursing a mile a minute.  You need to either cover your mouth or let that kind of shit go until you are in a more private setting Love.”  I’m not accustomed to people watching me.  I’m usually the one who does the observing.  It’s starting to get creepy.

“Christian?  I haven’t been entirely honest with you.  I want to apologize in advance, but we have come to a juncture where I feel like I can help you.  In order to do that, I have to level with you first.  Ok Love?”

“O…k…” Now I am scared.  What the fuck does she know?

“Relax Love.  I know about your beginnings, adoption, adolescent and adult academics, the history of GEH and…about…Elena Lincoln.”  My eyes are the size of saucers.  How the fuck did she find that out?  Who has she told?  What’s she trying to do, blackmail me?  I thought we were friends, I thought I could trust her.  DAMMIT I’m a STUPID fucker for trusting ANYONE, especially a woman named ‘Ella’, all of this flies through my mind at the speed of light.  It takes me a moment to hear Ella again.

“Relax Love.  I may be young, but I’m not dumb.  I’ve lived some and I’ve learned a lot during my brief stay on this Earth.  I can’t be prejudice against anyone who’s done nothing wrong.  I also know the Cinderella story of you and Anastasia.  It’s so fucking adorable I can’t believe it.”  She giggles and there is a twinkle in her eyes.  But I’m not at ease with this conversation yet.

“How?”  I whisper.  I’m in utter disbelief.  I thought I was so fucking careful.  Here this little slip of a girl has found out my work, educational and personal…VERY personal information like it was no problem.

Who does HER research?

“…Breathe Love, breathe.  I told you the first day we spoke you were the talk of the town.  You were, still are matter of fact.  We Brown’s have a lot of pull in Australia and around the world.  Finding out about a new neighbor is very easy.  Once I had your name, I Googled you to get your photo and general information.  My grandfather’s private investigation team took it from there.  Since it was my explicit request, the documents were sealed and went directly from the investigators to me.  There were no duplicates.”  I am glad she’s taken measures to keep the information she found under wraps, but I still don’t like the fact she could get it in the first place.

“I have a photographic memory.  I simply read everything twice then burned the original documents.  My grandfather’s only stipulation when I make these requests” the question is clear on my face, “yes, I’ve done this before, is that any incriminating information be turned over to him immediately.”

“Based on the information I had about you I was able to approach our conversations accordingly.  In short, you’ve been ‘shrinked’ Mr. Grey.  Like I said, I apologize for not being upfront with you.  I hope my invasion of your privacy doesn’t affect our friendship.”  She bows her head and pulls on the edges of her dark grey pencil skirt.  I’m still speechless.  She did what you told me not to do.

I guess now you know how it feels.

I guess so.

“Wow Ella.  I mean…did I scare you that much or…”

Her head jerks up immediately.  “No” she shakes her head vigorously, “not at all Love, quite the contrary.  You’re an intriguing individual.  Like I said that first day.  I could see the pain in your eyes.  I’ve seen that pain when my father remembers my mother and when my grandfather remembers my grandmother.”  They’re the two most important men in her life.  Now she looks sad.  I take her hand and give it a reassuring squeeze.  I like hearing about her family.  I mean I genuinely care.  It’s not about getting the 411 on the Browns.  I almost feel like they’re my family too.

“My brothers either don’t see, don’t understand or don’t care, but I do.  My grandfather and father mean the world to me.  I can feel their pain and I always want to help them through it.  I saw that in you and I felt the same way.”  She looks up at me straining not to let her tears fall.

“I can still see your troubled soul Love.  I can still feel your broken heart.  The difference is your one true is still alive.  You still have time to be with her.  I hope our time together has given you some things to think about, some tools to help you grow and I hope a friend you know you can turn to.  You said you didn’t have any friends in high school or college, well I believe we have made up for that.  At least I hope so.”  She pats my hand as I stare at her in awe.

This little girl has done nothing but be kind to me.  Taken my mind off my troubles by talking to me about the weather, songs on the radio, her father and her grandfather.  She has passed on the knowledge and lessons learned in her life to me like no one ever has.  She asks my opinion and debates her point of view.  Sometimes, even when she’s wrong, she plays devil’s advocate and won’t let an issue go.  No money exchanged.  No price tag involved.  No romantic interlude inferred.

“You are a fantastic woman Ella Brown.  You’re going to make some man very happy one day.”  She smiles and bows her head again.

I put my index finger under her chin and raise her crystal blue eyes to meet my grey ones, “Remember, you have a fourth brother to protect you.”  She nods and smiles.

“Well, on with my news.”  Huh, there is more?

Mood swing alert!

I must have the ever-present quizzical look on my face because she says, “Yes there is more.  The ‘interference’, do you know someone named Isaac?”  She doesn’t give a last name so I shake my head a few times then…

The light bulb comes on.  “Elena’s submissive?”  The bastard.  I knew his nose was wide open for that bitch.

“Yes.  Apparently he is rather proficient with a computer.  He’s the hacker you’re looking for.”  She says matter-of-factly as she resumes sipping her now almost cold coffee.

“How the hell did you kno…” She cuts me off.

“Love, I am a Brown.  We know lots of things.  I told you we were a sneaky bunch.”  She looks like a small child with a big secret.  A secret I need to hear.

“Come.”  I hold out my hand to her.

She hesitantly looks at me asking “Whereto?”

“My place.  Taylor needs to hear this first hand.”  She mouths ‘oh’ then takes my hand and we go out to the cars.

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

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

Chapter 9 | Temper Tantrum

GREY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know you’re not shrinking someone?

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

Listen up…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

No one asked you so fuck off.

Fucking off ‘Sir’…hee, hee,hee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The look on my face must say it all.

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

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

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

STEELE

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

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

Ring…Ring…Ring…”Hello…Chri…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I am waiting.”  Still nothing.

Let’s test the waters, shall we?

Be my guest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You mean like you did Kate?”  Silence.

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

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

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

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

Well?

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

Yepper.


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

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

WHAT!

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

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

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

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

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

What the fuck could that be?

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

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

Uh…well…

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

Does the world take you seriously yet?

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

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

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

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

I did not think about it that way.

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

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

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

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

So what world are you talking about?

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

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

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

Why don’t you know where they are?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck you.

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


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

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

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

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

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

Ahem…

Not now.

Yes now…RIGHT NOW!

What the fuck do you want?

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

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

WOO HOO…OH SHIT!  CRYSTAL!

What the fuck is so funny?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You know you are being a…

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

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

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

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

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

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

I stand corrected.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Can’t We Just Be Happy | Chapter 4 Work Is My Therapy

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

Chapter 4 | Work Is My Therapy

GREY

“Dammit!”  How the fuck did I miss her call?  I never miss a call, especially not Ana’s.  I got her message from last night, or early this morning depending on how you look at it, but I did not call her right away.  I had a morning meeting and I know she is not an early riser.  Her voice sounded like an angel calling to me.

“Hi Christian.  I apologize for calling at this hour.  I could not sleep.  I wanted to hear your voice and tell you I miss you.  Give me a call when you get time.  I love you Christian.”

Now I missed her.

”Mr. Grey, I apologize sir.  I stepped away from my desk for a moment to finish preparing the Taiwan business plans.  Your telephone must have rung while I was away.  I found you as fast as I could.  I apologize sir.”  Andrea is as pale as a ghost and shaking.  Damn.  Am I THAT big of an ass?  Do you want the short answer or should I expound on your inquiry?  Neither, I know what type of son of a bitch I am, thank you very much for your two cents.  Not a problem.  Glad to help.  I have to stop talking to myself.

“Andrea, it is not your fault.  You were right to work on the business plan.  It is what I asked you to do.  I have to be in Taiwan in a few hours and I need the information.  Thank you.”  HA!  I LOVE this new look everyone gets when you behave like a human being, rather than a ranting lunatic.  So do I.  Andrea’s mouth dropped open and she is looking at me like I am standing here naked with two heads.  I want to laugh.

“Is there a problem Andrea?”

“No sir.”  She shakes her head for emphasis.  “I have more information to compile for you.”  I simply nod.  She actually backs out of the room.  I smile and shake my head.

Meetings, meetings and more meetings, I have been on the run for hours.  I called Ana, but she was in a meeting herself.  I told Hanna to let her know I called and that I will be leaving for Taiwan on business today.  Hanna is always so fucking chipper.  I just hope she gets the message to Ana before I leave.  Only time will tell.  You called, that is the important thing.  I know you wanted to hear her voice, but…all good things, you know.  Yeah, I know.  I tell her that all the time.

Hey, Grey, I feel exactly the same way, but it is what it is.  You have to work…

No I do not and you know it.

…she has to work…

Not if she does not want to work.

…and most importantly, you are giving her the time and space she said she wanted.  Every cloud man and remember, no strong-arming her from Asia.  You promised time and space, no matter how bad it hurts.  If she calls be cordial at least and pour your heart out to her at most.  If she tells you she wants to see you, offer to come home ASAP or offer to fly her to Taiwan.  It is that easy.  There is no other way to approach this situation.

Easier said my friend.

Sadly, I know.

I try to reach Ana…again.  The fuck with Hanna, I will just leave a voicemail.  “Ana, baby, I love you.  I am sorry I did not get to speak with you directly.  I am going overseas to work on the Taiwanese shipyard deal.  I do not know how long I will be away.  Your birthday will be here in a few days and I truly regret missing your celebration.  You are welcome to join me overseas any time you like baby and I will try to make it up to you.  Please remember, not a second goes by without me thinking about you.  I will call you once I get to the hotel.  I will probably have to leave a message because of the time difference. I will miss you so much. Bye baby.”

I told Ros to take time off to be with Gwen.  I also told Taylor to stay home with Gail, they both looked like I was in a wrap-around jacket when I told him.  Reynolds is back from his leave so he is going with me.  This is going to be the worst trip yet, I can tell already and I still have not talked to Ana.

I board my jet, greet Steven, the pilot, and Natasha, the flight attendant.  Ana should be here with me, not Reynolds.  I sigh as I go to the master cabin to try to reach Ana one last time before I depart.  I hold my breath while I wait for her voicemail to pick up.

“Hello, Christian!”  Finally.  I smile to myself because she sounds like a kid on Christmas morning, getting a call from Santa himself.

“Hey baby.  How are you?”  You just do not know how much I love hearing your voice.  It would be even better if you were here next to me.

“I guess I am ok.”  She guesses.  What is that supposed to mean?  Sawyer has not said anything about her being sick.  Now I am worried.  I cannot leave her if she is ill.

“Are you sick baby?  Is there anything I can do for you?  I can call mom to come and check on you.”

“No, that is not necessary Christian.  I am fine.  Where are you?  What are you doing?”

Hmm, either she did not listen to her messages, Hanna never told her I called or she is being obtuse.  Down killer, she is a busy lady.

“Nothing really, just getting ready for a business trip.”  You did not mention where you are going.  I do not believe she will care if I am out of the country or not.  Then why didn’t you say where you were going?  What the fuck difference does it make as long as I am not around to get in her way?  Fuck, aren’t you touchy.  Can I get back to my call or what?  Please do, anything to get that nasty ass attitude under control.

“Business trip?  Where are you going?”  She sounds odd, nervousness maybe.

“I am going to Taiwan.  The ship yard deal needs a little shove in the right direction.”

“Where is Ros?  Why can’t she go in your place?”

“It is my company baby, they have seen Ros now it is time for me to step in and kick some ass.  Besides, work is my therapy. You know that.”

“Yes, I know.”  She seems a little off.  Does she actually miss me or is there something or even someone else?  Please God, do not let there be anything, else, wrong.

“Anastasia, this will be good for us.”  You do not believe that for one second.  “My being away will give you the freedom you want.  I ask that you keep Sawyer with you.  He is head of Security now.”

“Sawyer, where is Taylor?  Isn’t he with you?”

“Taylor is on vacation with Gail and we assigned Ryan to cover Grey House and Escala.  This way, you do not have to worry about any intrusion on your privacy.  Sawyer will only report to Taylor and even then only if there is a danger or you succumb to a severe illness, nothing more.”  I have to admit it Grey you planned this well.  I am proud of you.  I would smile, but it hurts too fucking much.

“WHAT!  CHRISTIAN, ARE YOU CRAZY?”  What the fuck is her problem?  We are giving her time and space, ample amounts of space if you ask me.

“I am giving you time and space baby.  Please stay with Sawyer and you will be fine.”  I hope.

“I told mom and Mia not to bother you about family dinners or shopping trips because you are busy with work. They asked about wedding preparations and I told them there was no hurry.  I did not tell them we are not together.  You can tell them if you like.”

I believe this is everything.  I run through my mental task list quickly to be sure I did not forget to tell someone to leave Anastasia alone.  I think you got them all Grey.  Oh, hey…what about the publishing house?  Are you going to let her know Ros is overseeing the project from this point on?  We will handle this the same as any other GEH acquisition.  If there is a problem with negotiations, then Ros will call me.  The project is almost complete anyway so Ros will meet with Roach and the editors soon and tell them she is in charge now that they are a GEH subsidiary.  Roach will be ecstatic to know he will not have to see or deal with me anymore; at least not directly.  Anastasia can hear the news straight from Ros.  Then she does not have to question its validity.

“If there is something I missed, something you need or anything you want, please tell Sawyer and he will take care of it.  I will stay as far away as I can.”  I whisper, almost to myself.  This is killing me.  She does not know how difficult this is for me.

“Ok Christian, if that is what you want.”  She sounds so small and timid.

What I want is immaterial now baby.  Keep this at the forefront of your memory Grey.

“I am a simple girl Christian, you knew that when you met me.  I have always been very self-sufficient, I do not want your money or to be praised because of my relationship with you.  You of all people should understand.  I want to bring something to the table other than my student loans.”

“I cannot be in your shadow Christian.  The world will not take me seriously when it turns out that I have what I have because I am engaged or married to “the Christian Grey, CEO, Grey Enterprise Holding, Incorporated.”

She said she cannot get that acceptance she wants with me in the way, so I will not be in her way.  I am not trying to make her feel bad.  I simply do not know what else to do.  I have told her repeatedly, she has all the power.  I am nothing without her.  She is my lifeline.  So for now, I will wander in the darkness she helped me escape from so she can have the time and space she needs.

“No baby, this is not what I want, but this is not about me it is about you.  You told me I suffocated you.  You told me you needed time and space.  I have told you many times I want you safe and happy.  Sawyer will keep you safe, if you allow him to and my being away will give you the time and space you want so that you can reach your goal.  Ultimately, this will make you happy.  I will give you whatever your heart desires Ana including my absence.”

Come on Grey get the fuck off of the telephone.  Steven will take off soon and we can get the fuck out of dodge.  This shit is more painful than I dreamed it would be.  Now I feel like we have to justify giving her what she said she wanted in the first place.  Come on Grey, it is time to go.

“I guess when you put it like that, I understand your point of view.”  She wants this.  She was just getting tired of saying the words to me over and over.  It is time for me to listen.

“Look Ana, Steven is almost ready to take off so I have to go.  I love you and I hope to see you again soon my love.  Laters baby.”

“Laters.”  I end the call and shake my head.

I have a really bad feeling about all of this.

Ditto.


We should be married by now we should be together.  These should be the best days of our lives.  Instead, I sit here feeling like my chest is going to explode.  I can hardly fucking breathe my throat is so tight.

How long can I stay in Asia without losing my mind?  There was a deal in Australia Ros was talking about a few months back.  Maybe I will travel Down Under once I am finished in Taiwan.  The more distance between me and the States the easier it will be for Ana to succeed in her goal.

Pardon me for being the voice of reason here shit head but what the fuck about your family?

Mom will understand.  I explained this was business.  She always understands business.

Are you serious about not going straight back home when we get done in Taiwan?  I mean, the Aussie deal would be a real steal, but won’t you miss Steele even a little bit?

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?  Where the fuck have you been all this time?  I miss her now.  I will miss her a hell of a lot more than a little bit.  Do not fuck with me.  I am really not in the mood for anyone’s bullshit, including yours.

Excuse the fuck out of me.  I was just asking a question.  Who the fuck farted in your Fruit Loops?

I am losing the only woman I ever loved, that is what the fuck is wrong with me.  If anyone understands I expect it to be you.  Anastasia is my life.  She gives me a reason to function each day.  She gives me hope for a future I can share with someone.  Who would have thought, a pint-sized pip-squeak could take me down with a pair of ultra blue eyes, a sweet giggle and a fabulous smile.  I am still amazed by her.  God I miss her.

“Mr. Grey, we will be landing shortly sir.”  The flight attendant smiles and bats her eyelashes, again.  I swear the damn things have a life of their own.  Maybe I can use fluttering fucking eyelashes as a new ecologically safe means of energy.  I see enough of the shit and those damn things never seem to stop.

“Thank you Natasha.”  I flash my mega watt smile, just because and she fans herself on her way back to her seat.  When will the world learn, it is just a pretty face?  Well, get ready Grey, there will more of the same on the ground.  Yeah, I fucking know.


The headlines about me are ridiculous, “Where Is Miss Steele?”, “The Bachelor is Back!” and “Ladies of Seattle Can Relax”.  I fucking choked on my coffee when I read the shit they had on Anastasia.  Some fucker got a shot of her walking back to the office after lunch, the headline read, “Fallen Out of Favor”.  Another birdcage liner had the gall to write, “Guess He Has Changed His Taste”, which included a picture of me shaking hands with a blonde haired woman at one of the many charity events I have attended without Anastasia by my side.  The final nail in the coffin was “Flavor of the Month” with the shot Elena leaving Grey House.  My mother called me after reading that horror-tale.

“Christian!”  Oh shit, it is mom.  All of a sudden I feel like I am back in elementary school.

“Hi mom.  How are you?  Everything good at home?”  HA!  I know you are not trying to bullshit your mother.  This is going to be good.

“Christian Trevelyn-Grey, what is going on?  I have read more than my share of articles about you since you became rich and famous, but the trash troves on the market now are ghastly.  Where is Anastasia and why is that Lincoln woman leaving your office building?  I am waiting Christian.”

Hee…hee…hee…look who is in trouble now.  And you thought this kind of shit was over didn’t you?  You thought just because you left home you would not get this type of phone call.  LMAO!  This is too good to be true.

I will deal with your ass later.  Right now, get me out of this shit.

Not on your motherfucking life dude.  This is your shit storm, now ride it out.

“Mom, you know how the press is.  They do not have anything better to write about right now.  You know, no alien sightings, no crop circles and they will never figure out how Stonehenge came to be.”  I am sweating bullets.  I am really in no mood to discuss anything.  I made it to Taiwan without familial intervention and now my mommy is grilling me about shitty press clippings from across the fucking pond.  Calgon, take me away.

Oh, this is too fucking good.  Where is the Ben & Jerry’s when you need it?  Vanilla…WOO HOO!

You fucking shit-heel!

It takes one Grey.

“Do not get smart with me Christian.  Where is Anastasia and where are you for that matter?”  Is she for real?  Doesn’t anyone listen to voicemail?

“Mom, I am in Taiwan, remember?  I told you I was coming here on business.  Ana is in Seattle.  She is busy at the publishing house and could not come with me overseas.”  Sounds good, but will it hold up in Mommy’s Courtroom?

“What is the meaning behind these articles Christian?  There are speculations that you and Ana are no longer a couple.  There are not any pictures of the two of you together and she looks so sad in the ones I have seen of her.”  Mom is right.  Ana looked like she was on the verge of a breakdown in one of the photos.  It made my heart hurt to look at it.

“Mom, my PR Department has been busy dealing with the various articles and ‘no comment’ is always the rule of thumb.  You do not have anything to worry about.  It is just the usual shi…I mean stuff they like to stir up, you know how they are.  Look mom, I have another meeting now.  Take care and I will talk to you soon.  Do not worry.”

“Christian, when are you coming home?  Will you be back for the holidays?”

“No mom, I will not.  Enjoy yourself and I will see you when I am done here.”

“Alright son.  Good bye.”  She sounds so broken, but I cannot go back.  All I will want to do is be with Ana and from what I can tell she does not want me.


I worked out in the hotel gym and I read the business plan for the Taiwanese shipyard again, but I am not tired.  I need my Ana.  I will call her.  I know it is late, but I need to hear her, even if it is her voicemail, ’Hello, this is Anastasia Steele.  I am not available to take your call right now, so please leave a message and I will contact you at my earliest convenience.’  Beep.  I just called to hear her voice, not to leave a message, so I hang up.

My heart hurts.  Amazing, I thought I did not have one then just as it is found, it breaks.  I guess I am not the “flavor of the month” anymore.

Maybe Elena is right.  I should go back to my usual modus operandi?  Calm, cool and in control.  No emotional attachment.  No messy good byes.  I just cannot do it though.  I have seen paradise now that is all I want.  “Ana, baby, where are you?  Don’t you want me anymore?  I miss you.”  I finally say out loud the words that keep twirling around in my mind.

What if she is gone for good, what will I do then?

What do you want to do?  I am the first one to tell you when you are wrong, even when I know you will not listen I will still tell you when you are wrong, but I do not believe you are wrong this time.  She asked for time and space.  I am impressed and proud of the fact you have honored her requests.  She has not had to fight you tooth and nail over any of this mess.

I think I have lost her.  What is worse, I never had a chance.  I cannot compete with the world for her attention.  I really do not want to go back to Seattle.  If I cannot have Anastasia, I might as well disappear.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU GREY?  What is with the woe is me shit.  If anyone has anything to regret, it is Anastasia Rose Steele.

What the fuck is wrong with you?  Ana has done nothing wrong.  I have always been a problem to anyone who crosses my path and you know this, so lay off Ana.

You did not let me finish, schmuck.

Speak your peace then shut the fuck up.

You are a good guy.  You are good to her.  The only wrong you committed was falling in love with a girl who was not ready for you.  You fell fast and hard and so did she, but she is not comfortable acting on her desires.  You have encouraged her not to hide.  You tried to give her the tools to get her to her goal.  She was not ready to accept them and does not know how to work with the new hand she is being dealt.

She needs to think about you Grey.  Do not forget about her, I know you cannot anyway, but if she wants to be with you, then she will be back.  You have to let her show interest in you.  You have to keep your nose to the grindstone and carry on.  It is her game.  Let her play it out.  I am telling you, she will be back.

“I love you Anastasia.  I love you.”

STEELE

He is gone.

He went away on business.  Get your facts straight.  Why do you care?  Isn’t this what you wanted?

WHAT?  What are you talking about?  No, I never wanted Christian to go away.

You told him you needed time and space, to get your thoughts straight; whatever the fuck that is supposed to mean.

It means I need time to process the changes going on in my life.

O…k… I need to understand this.

Sigh.

Would you rather do this alone?  I can always sit quietly in the corner.  All I need is some popcorn and a Pepsi.  I will have the front row seat.  I will be able to bear true witness to how you fucked up this situation.

What do you want to understand? 

What changes are you processing?

Do we HAVE to do this AGAIN?

Yes, until I understand just what the fuck the malfunction is.  WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO PROCESS?

“Ana?”  Saved by the PA.  Hanna pops her head into my office.

“Yes Hanna.”

“There is a meeting with Roach and all the editors in five minutes.  I wanted to remind you.  The invite just came across this morning.”  Yeah I saw that.

“Ok Hanna.  Thank you.”  She gives me a small wave then she is gone.

Meetings with Roach are not my favorite.  He is not a very pleasant man.


I get to the conference room in the nick of time.  Roach rolls his eyes at me as I find a seat.  What the fuck is his problem?  I do not know and I am not interested in finding out so behave.  Right…no promises.

Roach stands at the end of the conference table, clears his throat and begins to speak, “Ladies and gentlemen, I know you have heard rumors about the Seattle Independent Publishing merger with another local business.  I want to tell you the merger is complete.  SIP is now a subsidiary of Grey Enterprise Holdings, Incorporated.  Ms. Ros Bailey is here to discuss what this merger means to each of us.”

A hush falls across the room and all eyes turn toward me.  Courtney, from the Fiction Department, has a glowing anger in her eyes.  The other editors simply look worried…worried about our jobs.

I know Christian can throw us all under the bus and start from scratch.  He would not do that.  He knows how much this job means to me.  He even had my name placed on the do not replace list when they were discussing redundancies so I know he would not fire me.

Ros is here?  Why is Ros here?  Why isn’t Christian here?  Ahem, does the word Taiwan sound familiar to you?  Oh, that is right.  He is in Taiwan.   It is strange seeing someone other than Christian talking about GEH.

“…as GEH employees, you will continue to report to Mr. Roach who then reports directly to me.”  REPORT TO HER, what the fuck?  Are there any questions?

“How does this affect our jobs?”  Anderson, from Reference, asks.

“I am glad you asked.  As GEH employees, your previous contract under SIP is no longer valid.  You are required to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement and there will be a performance review of each editor to determine his or her viability and longevity with the company.”  WOW!  Performance reviews?  How the hell are they going to pull that off?  Our individual performance has never been reviewed, to my knowledge.

Logan asks the next obvious question, “How will this review take place?  I mean, our inventory and sales are cut and dry.  I imagine you already discussed our profit and loss ration before initiating the purchase.  What is the basis for this performance review of the editors?”  he sounds a little indignant.  Logan works in Non-Fiction and has been with SIP two years.  He is still an Assistant Editor, but he can read twice as many manuscripts as all of us at this table and he has not recommended a poor author yet.  He is very respected for his work.

“Mr. Glenn is it?”  Brian nods.  “Mr. Glenn, our Human Resources Department uses a planning model which encompasses three key elements including predicting the employees GEH needs, analyzing if the supply of current, and future, employees meets our performance expectation and balancing the supply and demand of employees.  After the review is complete, Mr. Roach will meet with each editor to discuss the results.”

“And how long will this head-hunting expedition take?”  Marcus is fuming.  He is hardcore in the Reference Department.  He gives no bullshit and takes no bullshit.  Marcus would rather you give him the sack right here, right now.

“Mr. Cantor?”  Ros is trying to be diplomatic.  Marcus does not understand diplomatic.  He is a wanna-be Grey all over.

“Yes, Marcus Cantor.  I have been with SIP for five years.  My department has passed various internal and external reviews with flying colors.  It is not easy to have sources referring to ancient runes verified and approved.  The Reference Department has an impeccable reputation in the world of publishing.”

“No doubt Mr. Cantor, GEH is not here to destroy SIP.  We understand the reticence of each employee and have only your best interest at heart.  Human Resources’ review will be complete Wednesday.  You will receive your results throughout the day Thursday.”  Today is just Tuesday.  That is fast.  You cannot possibly believe this was not in process before today, can you?  Hello Steele, we are talking about Grey here.

“Are there any other questions?”  There is a long pause.  I think we are all in shock, including me.  “Well, if you think of anything, please feel free to contact Mr. Roach.  He will convey your questions and concerns to me and we will go from there.”  Ros turns and leaves.  I have to speak with her.

“Well everyone, I think we will take a thirty minute break then return for an impromptu Q&A session.  You may not have been comfortable speaking freely with Ms. Bailey here so I want to give each of you a chance to say whatever is on your mind.  Alright then, see you in thirty.”  The Roach practically runs from the room.  He built SIP from the ground up. I am sure this is killing him.

I have to catch Ros.  I find her in a side hallway on her cell phone.  I know I should not eavesdrop, but she is not exactly whispering.  “…yes, it is done…the usual reactions, you know…yes, they know about the NDA.  Roach will have a hell of a time with a few of these assholes.  I mean, they read and correct authors’ writings.  It is not like they write the stories themselves.  And the guy in Reference, oh he is a peach.  Yes, she was here too…nope, did not utter a word.  The whole bunch of them turned to sneer at her when I announced they were now GEH…nope” she pops her ‘p’ “…she did not move a muscle.  She is a pretty tough bitch to take on this cast of characters every day.”

“So, how you are you going hide over there?…Grey, give me a fucking break.  I have met you before, remember?  I have been with GEH from the start and I can tell your demeanor from across the pond and over the telephone.  The only thing Taiwan needed was to see your handsome ass face then the deal would be done.  I received the final agreement by email earlier today.  The CEO said he would send the final contract by Certified Mail.  It should get here next Monday, Tuesday at the latest.”

“So I ask again, how long are you going hide out over there?”  She creases her brow in a deep frown then exclaims, “AUSTRALIA?  I was just fucking around about that…yes, it is worth researching, but research can be done online, from home.”

She shakes her head and sighs, “Christian, my friend, I know you are a private person and I am not asking for any particulars.  What is wrong?  I can hear it in your voice.  If you need time to sort something out, I understand and I can handle GEH, just let me know.”  Then, she ends the call.

He is hiding out?  Is he hiding from me?  Why would he hide from me?

He is doing what you asked him to do.

I never asked him to leave me.

No, you asked him not to interfere in your career.  And now he will not.  You heard her, the buy-out is finished.  Now it is just another GEH business.  He does not tinker with every little company he owns you should know that by now.  This way, you have to stand on your own two feet and prove yourself to Roach or his boss will can your ass.  Hee, hee, hee…nice touch Grey.  You have to give it to the man, when he does something, he goes all out.

What the fuck is that supposed to mean?

Minimal security, no familial obligations and he is out of the country.  WOO HOO!  he left you on your own for sure.  Nice…very nice.

As I stand grumbling to myself, “OH SHIT!”  Ros runs into me coming around the corner.  “Oh, sorry Miss Steele, I did not see you there.  Was there something you needed?”  Now I turn bright red almost instantaneously.

“No, Ms. Bailey, I am good.” Ros has a pitiful look on her face and I can tell she wants to say something more, but she keeps it professional.

“Alright then, take care.”  Then she is off.

And all I can do is shake my head and wipe away the lone tear that trickles down my face, “what have I done, what have I done?”


And now I have to sit through a meeting with a room of hostiles.  I drop my head and say a silent prayer for strength and patience.  I know someone is going to say something to set me off and right now, I could go off and not dream of taking it back.  Maybe I can beg out of this meeting.  I mean, I do not have any questions; at least not ones anyone else can answer.  It is worth a shot.

Just outside of the conference room door I stop Roach.  DAMN, if looks could kill, I would be in the morgue.  “Mr. Roach, is it possible for you to excuse me from this meeting?  I really do not have any questions.  I would just like to think about what we heard and wait for the HR review.”  Please, please, please.  I have never begged this man for anything.  I even give him my best puppy dog eye look.

“No Miss Steele, you are a member of THIS team and you have to face the music WITH the rest of us.  Besides, everyone will sign their NDAs at this meeting so I need your Jane Hancock.”  SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!  Why do I have to sign another one of those fucking things?  Because no one knows he made you sign one before you fucked him that is why.

Have I ever said ‘fuck you’ before? 

Yes but “quite frankly Scarlet…”

Whatever.

If I thought Roach was bad, I was sorely mistaken.  The room is full of animated discussion about the buy-out and performance reviews for each editor.  However, when I enter the room you could hear a pin drop.

“Welcome Miss Steele, please join us.”  Roach says in a rather condescending tone.  Of course the only available chair is up front, next to Roach, on the far side of the conference table.  Hmm, no quick getaways for you.  I quietly take my seat.

“Now, I first want to thank you for being professional during the meeting with Ms Bailey.  I want everyone to keep in mind that you still report to me and as such, there is no need for hostility toward the Executive Leadership Team.”  He stares at Marcus.  Roach is walking on eggshells right now, so he will not blatantly call Marcus out, but we all know what he means.  Marcus is still pissed anyway.

“Ms. Bailey described the performance review at a very high level.  Is anyone interested in greater detail prior to having your one-on-one with me later this week?”  No one seems to be interested in that.  I know I am not.

“Good; then does anyone have any questions or concerns you would like me for me to address?”  No one looks up.  I told Roach this was a pointless meeting.  I could be filing my nails for all this meeting is worth.

“Come on people.  You mean to tell me there is nothing on your minds about all of this.  If you do not get it out now, you will have to wait until our individual meetings and I do not want any pissing and moaning when we walk out of here.  Your junior staff members will be given this information after we have finished with each of your performance reviews.”  I am just about to bolt from the room when Courtney speaks up.  Of course…

“Mr. Roach, if I may sir?”

“Of course Court. Go right ahead.”

“In the event someone does not fare well in their review, what will happen?”  Welp, this is when the shit gets good.  I know Christian will not tolerate dead-weight.  If someone cannot do their job, they will not have a job to do.

“Because we are basically starting from scratch, those who are not within the accepted performance guidelines will be relieved of their position.  Because the new GEH employment contract is now in effect, the policies and procedures take precedence.”  Huh?

“Is there a new Severance package?”

“Yes there is.  The GEH severance definition is across the board and not based on years of tenure.  The only exception is for those who have been with SIP for less than one year.”  Oh shit.  Now everyone is looking at me because I have only been here a few months.

Well played Grey.  Steele, you wanted to prove yourself.  Here you go girl.

“There will be NO bias.  Everyone is on a level playing field.  Are there any other questions?”  And just why does he have to look at me when asking that?  Because your shit stinks too now.

I am so fucking glad that shit is over.  If one more of those assholes looked at me like I was the cause of all of this shit one more time I was going to scream.

You really do owe him another, thank you, you know that right/?

Thank you for what, bailing on me when he did not get his way, sending Ros to do his dirty work or trying to make me feel guilty for standing my ground?

JUST A MOTHERFUCKING MINUTE!

Uh oh, somebody seems to be upset.

I am TOO fucking tired of your shit.  Grey gave you all the slack you wanted.  He did everything he could, short of selling SIP, which in this economy was a no-go anyway, so you could be looked at without him.  He has even moved himself, physically, out of the equation so he does not influence you on a day-to-day basis.  Now, you have the unmitigated gall and audacity to say he BAILED on you?  I wish to hell I could wring your fucking neck.  HE IS GONE DUMBASS!  HE…IS…GONE!  What the fuck else does the man have to do, slit his own wrists at your feet?

You have done nothing but find fault with him and he is not here to defend himself.  What did you say to him?  Do you even fucking remember?

“I do not want your money or to be praised because of my relationship with you…I cannot be in your shadow Christian.  The world will not take me seriously when it turns out that I have what I have because I am engaged or married to “the Christian Grey, CEO, Grey Enterprise Holding, Incorporated.”

No security, No reports about where you are, who you are with or why you are there and now, no job interference.  Since he is not here to ask you this, I will on his behalf.  Do you even want him Anastasia?  If you do not, then please just let him go.  I happen to love him and not because of anything he can or has given us.  I love his smile, his sense of humor, hell I love being protected.  You, my dear, have a lot of soul-searching to do.  I only hope he is still there when you are done.

“What am I doing?  I love Christian with all of my heart.  I do not want to live without him.  What the fuck am I going to do?”

You may have to beg.

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~ the story continues...