I watch Kate, dressed in a brown wig and my clothes, pull away through the living room window and, once I see my security detail following after her, I run for Kate’s purse and find my goal: her car keys.
When I slide into the car, I ease out of the garage and down the street. I only have one shot at this. Kate is only giving me an hour of time. I remember the distant memory of Christian telling me that Mrs. Robinson is usually based at the Bravern Shopping center in Bellevue. I want to pull out my phone a google an address, but I’ve left it in my car, which is good I suppose. Christian won’t be able to track me once he finds out that it’s Kate taking Teddy to the house. There’s a button on the steering wheel that has a picture of a mouth with three lines coming out of it. I press it and here a musical ping and a robotic voice says “Say a command.”
“Er…. Directions?” I ask hesitantly
“Okay, Directions. Where would you like to go?” the voice asks again.
“Bravern Shopping Center, Bellevue Washington,” I say and there is another musical ping. I look down and see a GPS map pop up on the small screen set into the consul.
“Location acquired,” the voice tells me. “To start navigation, say start navigation.”
“Start navigation,” I say and I’m given directions to my location. Very convenient, Kate.
Kate and Elliot live in Bellevue, not too far from Grace and Carrick, so I’m at the shopping center in less than 10 minutes. I park the car on the curb in front of a building with a modern looking sign that reads Esclava. I have to take a deep breath to brace myself for what I’m about to do but I need answers. The only way I’ll know if Christian is telling the truth, is if I hear the same story from Elena. She’s more likely to lie and tell me Christian did cheat on me than cover for him. At least, I hope so.
I walk through the doors of the salon and am greeted by a pretty blonde receptionist.
“Good afternoon. Do you have an appointment?” She asks brightly.
“Not exactly,” I reply. “I’m here to see Mrs. Lincoln.”
The receptionist frowns but she picks up her receiver and dials an extension number. Oh good, she’s here.
“Mrs. Lincoln, you have a visitor,” The receptionist says she turns to me and asks for my name. Oh no. Do I tell her my real name? Will she come out if I do? She’s wanted to meet with me before… Well, Mrs. Robinson, here I am.
“Anastasia Grey,” I say and the receptionist says my name into the phone. She hangs up the phone and looks up at me.
“Mrs. Lincoln will be right out.”
“Thank you.” I say and hear a door open at the back of the empty salon. I turn and see her, her perfect blond hair rolled up in an elegant chignon, her makeup flawlessly done. She’s dressed in her usual head to toe black. She smiles at me and motions me towards her. I march forward with determination.
“Have a seat, Ana,” She purrs as she closes her office door behind me. “What can I do for you, dear?” The fake pleasantry in her voice ignites a fire in me and I glare at her.
“Did you fuck my husband?” I blurt out and her eyes narrow.
“Several times,” She says flatly. “Over a period of many happy years.”
“I know about the past, Elena. I’m asking about when I was… away. Did you fuck my husband while I was missing?”
“No,” Her eyes are cold and impassive. I’m reminded of Christian.
“Did you bring a submissive to my apartment for him to fuck?” I continue and she smiles a wolfish smile that doesn’t reach her eyes.
“He told you,” she says.
“Is it true?”
“Yes, Anastasia. I delivered a girl I thought would be suitable to Escala while you were missing.”
“And he fucked her right? He took her into the playroom and he fucked her?”
She presses her glossy lips together before she answers. “Why are you asking me? I’m sure Christian has told you exactly what happened.”
“Because he went to meet you, so he’s already lost my trust.”
“And you trust me?”
“No,” I say simply, though I keep my voice firm and resolute. “But I know you’ll be dying to tell me that he cheated on me. You want the win, Elena. Convincing him to cheat on me will be the win. You think that if you could convince him to fuck a submissive, you could convince him to fuck you. You tried last year and he turned you down, so if I’m out of the picture what’s to stop him for moving on to you?”
Her wicked smile returns. “So why would you trust me to tell you the truth. If that’s what you think, if Christian is what I’m really after, wouldn’t it make more sense for me to lie to you and tell you he cheated?”
“No, because if you do that, he’ll never forgive you and you’ll lose.”
“But what if it’s true. What if he did cheat on you and I tell you. What’s to stop him from hating me then, from rejecting me then?”
“Because if he’s really guilty, if he really did cheat on me and I leave him for it, there are any number of ways I could have found out. He always thinks the worst of himself. If I leave him and he’s guilty, he’ll just assume I saw through him to the liar he really is and left. But if he’s innocent and he knows I’ve been to see you, he’ll know you told me.”
“That’s quite the logical gymnastics you’ve worked your way through, Anastasia.”
“I just want to know the truth.”
“We all have things we want to know… But then again, maybe there are things we think we want to know but in reality, we don’t.”
“So you’re telling me he did it then? You’re not denying it.”
She stares back at me with unmoving eyes.
“This is the part where you speak,” I remind her
Elena crosses her arms and leaves over the desk, her cleavage is protruding out at me.
“Anastasia…” she begins, but I don’t want her run-around. I just want answers.
“Did he, or didn’t he Elena?” I snap. Her gaze darkens.
“Look here you little tramp. Don’t come into my office and make demands of me. You’ve ruined him. The strong, powerful man I created is now a weak, spineless boy who controls nothing. I brought him a submissive because it’s what he needed. He needs someone to satisfy his needs so that he can control his universe. He needed to get his balls back, but he’s too far gone to realize what he’s actually lost. No, he didn’t fuck her, because you’re in his head, making him ashamed of what he needs. I told Linc if he’d just kept you longer, he would have taken the submissive, but he didn’t listen to me. People who don’t listen to me, ruin themselves. Just like Christian.”
“What did you just say?” I asked, so shocked I wonder if I heard her correctly.
“I’m telling you no, Anastasia. Your weak husband didn’t fuck the girl I hand delivered to him.”
“No… you told Linc? It was Linc? Your ex-husband. He kidnapped me. He was the one holding me hostage…”
Her eyes widen as she realizes what she’s given away. I stand quickly and bolt for the door but her long fingers clasp around my arm.
“Let me go!” I yell, but she doesn’t release me.
“Ana!” She yells as she tries to subdue my struggles. I feel a harsh yank and I’m forced across the room, slamming into her desk. She turns on me but before she can get her arms on me I punch her, closed fist punch her, straight in the face. She doubles back, cursing with pain but I don’t give her time to recover. I push past her and run through the salon towards Kate’s car.
When I’m inside, I lock all of the doors, turn on the car and floor it. I look in my rear view mirror and see Elena standing on the curb, her nose bloody, glaring after me. I need to get home, now. For the first time, I wish I hadn’t shaken off my security. I know these people are capable of crazy things and now every stop sign, every red light, every traffic jam is a terrifying trap.
I fly across the Lake Washington, remembering the last time I was chased over this bridge. Christian had been with me then, and security wasn’t far behind. I’m alone now. All alone. Calm down, Ana. I tell myself. I don’t know that I’m being followed.
When I pull onto my street I feel a little better. I sit in front of the gate, looking around quickly before I roll my window down to punch in the code. When the gate opens in front of me, I speed down the driveway towards my house. Sawyer and Taylor both rush out to me as I jump out of the car.
“Mrs. Grey!” Taylor yells, but I ignore him and run as fast as I can to the front door. When I reach the top of the steps, I throw open the front door and see Kate, Christian, and Elliot grouped together in the foyer.
“Ana?” Christian asks, a plea, as if he doesn’t really believe I’m here.
“Christian,” I respond, determined. “Christian, you were right. It was Linc. Linc was the one who kidnapped me.”