In the morning, I’m blinded by the sunlight flooding in through the open windows. My head is throbbing. Ugh, why did I drink so much last night? Oh, right… Christian.
I turn over, trying to cover my eyes with my forearm and I feel a wave of nausea hit me. Oh no. As quickly as I can, I throw myself out of the bed and run for the bathroom.
“Ana?” I hear Kate ask from behind the door. I’m sure the violent sound has waken her. “Are you okay?”
“No,” I moan back. Slowly, I get up and turn on the faucet to rinse my mouth out. Then I turn to face her.
“You look terrible,” She says when I open the door.
“I feel terrible,” I tell her and I stomp back to the bed and bury myself in the duvet.
“Can I get you anything?” Kate asks, worried. Crap. I don’t think there is any food in the house. We haven’t been here in months. Well, I haven’t.
“I don’t think there is anything in the kitchen, Kate. Will you hand me my phone? I think I’m going to have to call in.”
She hands the blackberry to me and I call Roach. Mercifully, the call is short. When I hang up, I notice a text message from Christian.
How are you feeling this morning?
Nope. Not ready to face that yet. I put the phone on the nightstand and wrench myself to my feet. Kate helps steady me as the room shifts and pitches like a boat on the rough sea, and then helps me out to the kitchen.
“There’s some crackers here,” She says, digging through the cupboards.
“Crackers sound good,” I say, my head resting on the breakfast bar. We hear the ping of the elevator and my new security guards walk into the great room from the foyer.
“There’s a Mrs. Jones here, Mrs. Grey?” He says.
Mrs. Jones? I nod to him, and he disappears back into the foyer.
“Good Morning, Mrs. Grey,” Mrs. Jones says brightly as she walks into the room. My head pounds at her high, too loud voice and I groan. She’s carrying grocery bags though, so at least I’ll be able to eat something and absorb all this alcohol.
“What can I make you for breakfast?” She asks.
“How about an omelet, Gail? She needs something nutritious,” Kate says.
“Coming right up. Would you like one as well, Mrs. Grey?”
Kate nods and smiles as she takes the bar stool next to me and rubs her hand gently over my back. When Mrs. Jones sets the omelet in front of me, my stomach twists but I know I need to eat. I force small mouthfuls down and wash them down with orange juice. When I’m finish, I feel a little better, but not much.
“I’m thinking pajamas and movies, what do you think?” Kate asks, and I nod my head.
“Is there anything you need, Mrs. Grey?” Gail asks as I push away from the breakfast bar. “I’m going out this afternoon for the basics for you and Theodore but if you want anything special I can pick it up while I’m out.”
Truthfully, though I can’t allow myself to say it… What I want is Christian. Not this new Christian, the person he’s become since I was kidnapped. The constantly obsessed with finding kidnappers, contacting Mrs. Robinson, and nearly has his way with a submissive Christian. I want the playful, good husband, good father, slightly controlling but loves me wholly and irrationally Christian. Does all of this mean that I can never get that back? Do I have to let him go? I don’t want to. The thought is painful, intolerable, but I don’t know what to do with what’s been broken.
“Ana!” Kate calls to me and my head pounds.
“What?” I whimper back.
“It’s Elena, she’s on the news!”
I look over at the TV and see side by side pictures of Elena Lincoln and a man I’ve never seen but the TV tells me is John Lincoln. The pictures are mug shots. Oh, so it wasn’t a scene? Did Christian really have Elena arrested yesterday?
I try to mull this over in my head as the newscaster tells me about a trial date set for the kidnappers of one of Seattle’s richest businessman’s wife. Does this make a difference, now that I know he didn’t do what I thought he did with Elena in his office yesterday? I think about the package he received Sunday night and the mail that came through my office yesterday. It was signed S… Who is S?
“Did you know, Christian had her arrested?” Kate asks me.
“I-I saw Elena come out of his office in handcuffs yesterday, but I didn’t believe.,.” My voice cuts off.
“Ana. You know I love you and I’ll support you whatever you want to do… but are you sure you want this?” And I know she’s talking about a separation from Christian. The truth is, I don’t know. I’m just so hurt. I know I can’t just go back to the way it was. Not for a while at least. But to lose him completely? I shake my head at her and turn around, walking towards my bedroom.
When I’m alone again, I do a quick emotional inventory. Nope, I don’t think I’m going to cry… I change out of my t-shirt and into real pajamas. Okay, a pair of sweats and one of Christian’s t-shirts. When I turn around, I see the blue light on my blackberry blinking. I pick it up, there is an email from Christian.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Sick day
Date: September 11th 2012 09:45 AM
To: Anastasia Grey
You’re that sick? I know what it takes to get you to take a day off work. Please call me, Anastasia. I’m worried. Oh, and Teddy is at the house with Mia. Would you like me to have her bring him to you at Escala? You can go home if you want to. I know you’ll be more comfortable there. I can stay in the apartment if you prefer.
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.
I type a response.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Sick day
Date: September 11th 2012. 10:15 AM
To: Christian Grey
I’ll be fine, Christian. I just need the afternoon to recuperate. I’ll call Mia, and no, you can stay at the house. I’m too sick to leave right now.
Commissioning Editor, Grey Publishing.
When I hit send, I exit out of the mail and dial Mia’s number. She doesn’t answer but before I can even start recording a voicemail, my phone beeps and tells me she’s calling on the other line.
“Hi, Mia,” I answer.
“Sorry, Ana. I was just laying Teddy down for a nap,” she says.
“That’s okay. Hey, Kate and I are having a movie and PJs day at Escala. Do you want to bring Teddy over and join us?”
“Sure!” She says. “I’m going to have to borrow some PJs though.”
“Oh there’s plenty there,” I laugh.
“I’ll be over soon, Ana. Laters!”
“Laters!” I say back, and I’m smiling when I hang up. Maybe this is what I’ve been missing. Girl time.
Kate, Mia, and I spend the afternoon watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Pretty Woman, and Bridesmaids. All three of us are laughing out of control and I realize that I’m not ready to give this up. The relationship between Mia and I would never be the same if I left Christian and things may even change between Kate and I, now that she too is a Mrs. Grey. Part of the reason I fell in love was Christian was his family. Grace, Elliot, Mia, even Carrick. They’re all my family now too because of Christian and I don’t want to lose them.
It’s getting dark and Mia has to head home. She hugs me and makes me promise we’ll do something like this again soon. I smile and tell her anytime, anywhere. Kate decides to go too. Apparently she feels guilty for ignoring her own husband while I’ve been fighting with mine and I don’t blame her. In fact, I feel a little guilty too. But when she leaves, Teddy and I are alone. It’s unsettling. Sure there is security here, but it’s not family.
After I’ve put Teddy to bed for the night, I stare out the window over the lights of Seattle. I remember I used to think of Christian as hiding from the world in his ivory tower. Is that what I’m doing now? Hiding from our problems instead of facing them? Maybe I should call, Christian. We really need to talk. I walk to the kitchen counter to pick up my blackberry when I’m distracted, once again, by my security guard.
“Mrs. Grey, there is an Andrea Weber here to see you,” he says.
“Let her in,” I say and he leaves to fetch her from the foyer. A few seconds later I see Christian’s assistant walking nervously towards me.
“Mrs. Grey,” she begins, “I hope I’m not intruding but I need to speak with you. You didn’t come to work today and I didn’t think this was a suitable conversation to have over the phone.”
“What is it, Andrea?” I ask, gesturing to the couch. She smiles gratefully and takes a seat.
“Mrs. Grey, I think your husband is being blackmailed… and I think it’s my fault.”
“What do you mean?” I ask and she reaches into her purse, pulls out an envelope, and hands it to me. I open the letter and read:
Your lack of response is disheartening, Mr. Grey. If you don’t want to play my game, I may have to tell your secret to TMZ. I’m sure the media would love to know the true Christian Grey. You have until Friday to decide. –S
I stare up at her and her eyes fall to the floor.
“Where did you get this?” I ask.
“He’s been asking me to shred the letters,” She hesitates and looks up at me more determined. “Ok, look. I know. I know about you, and Susannah, and Leila, and Caroline, and Charlotte, and…”
I hold my hand up and grimace. “I get it, you know.”
“The NDA you signed?” she continues. “I emailed it to him because I always email it to him. And the contract, I fax it to him. He likes it faxed to him so that it has a date and time stamp. There is only one electronic copy of that document, Mrs. Grey and it’s on my computer at GEH, only accessible from my profile… It’s password protected and even has a firewall on it so that IT can’t access it remotely. In fact, my entire computer profile was taken off the GEH monitoring system to prevent security or IT from finding those documents.”
“Sounds like my husband trusts you,” I say gently.
“He does, and he should, Mrs. Grey. I would never do anything to break that trust. Which is why when you handed me the list of hard limits. When I got this letter, I knew that “S” had the contract, so someone had gotten into my computer. I checked the document access history on my computer and saw the last time it had been accessed was in the middle of the day on September 3rd. Mrs. Grey, I haven’t accessed that document since…”
“It’s okay, Andrea. You don’t have to be embarrassed. Go, on.”
“The last time I accessed that document was last May when he had me fax it to him for you and my desk is never left unattended while the building is open. There is only one person who could have gotten into it. Mrs. Grey, I think I know who S is.”
“Who?” I ask.
“I don’t want to lose my job…” She says nervously.
“Don’t worry about that, Andrea. Tell me what you know.”
“It was her first day. IT was delayed in creating her profile because GP was moving into the building and they were busy setting up your systems on the network… so I was letting her use my email, my profile, until her’s could be set up. I didn’t think in the hour I was away, she would go through my documents and happen upon the one thing she couldn’t see. That she would be interested enough to open it and find the password for the contract.”
“It was Rachel?” I ask, horrified.
“I swear, Mrs. Grey, she was vetted. Her resume was perfect, we got her from Jeff Bezos’ office for god sakes. Her references were glowing… Even Taylor passed her without any hesitation. There was nothing in her past that would suggest she was capable of something like this.”
“What did my husband say when he interviewed her?”
“He didn’t. She was hired when you were recovering. He was working from home so he just asked me to send him the profile I had on her and he approved her. That was it. The first time he met her face to face was her first day. She was attracted to him, but they always are at first. I didn’t think it would turn into this…”
“No, Andrea. You couldn’t have known. Don’t worry, I’m going to straighten this out.”
“He’s going to fire me,” she says, and I can hear her struggling not to cry.
“No, Andrea. It’s not your fault. I won’t let him fire you.” I reach out and grasp her shoulder reassuringly.
Holy shit, this means the package wasn’t his fault. The letter, Elena… all misunderstandings.
“Archer!” I yell and my security guard runs into the room. “I need to get to my house, will you grab my coat?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he says and hurries off to get ready to leave.
“Andrea, will you watch Teddy for me? Or Call Grace or Kate?” I ask.
“I’ll watch him, Mrs. Grey. No problem.”
“Thank-you,” I say gratefully and I dart into the foyer.
“Christian!” I yell, as I barge through the front door of the big house. I hear a scuffling sound and he hurries around the corner so I can see him down the hallway.
“Ana?” He asks. “Where’s Teddy.”
“Andrea has him.”
“Christian, she told me. We figured out who “S” is. It’s your new assistant, Rachel.”
“Rachel? Miss Carrington?”
“Yes, she found the contract on Andrea’s computer and apparently… she’s crazy.”
“When? How?” He stutters.”Only Andrea has access to the contract. Why was she on Andrea’s profile?”
“Andrea said the document was accessed on September 3rd, before Rachel’s profile was set up. Andrea was on lunch and she must have found the document.”
His face shifts and he darts towards his office, I follow after him.
“What are you doing?” I ask, but he’s already on his blackberry.
“Barney, I need you to give me remote access to the security footage at GEH. I need the tapes of my lobby on September 3rd from 10am to 2pm. Christian sits down at his computer and logs on to a page that has the Grey Enterprises Holdings logo in the banner. He clicks around the page and a big black box pops up.
I watch as a mouse moves across the screen and pulls up a video. Barney must be feeding in the footage. He fast forwards through the footage quickly and I blush as I see myself storm into the office, knowing what the outcome of that meeting was. When I’m inside, Andrea leaves the desk and Taylor and Welch come out of Christian’s office.
“Slow it down here, Barney,” Christian says. The video slows to just faster than real time. I watch a woman come out of the elevator and hand Rachel and envelope. She walks to the door of Christian’s office, pauses, and then slowly opens it, only to straighten with shock and ease the door close.
“Well, that’s just fucking fabulous,” Christian growls as we watch Rachel shuffle back to her desk and bury her head in her arms. Nothing happens for a bit and then I come out of the office, followed by Christian. He sets his phone on the desk and then returns to his office.
“Why did you leave her your phone?” I ask.
“Andrea usually charges it for me,” He answers and we watch Rachel pick up the phone and look at it. “Although it looks like I’m going to have to get a charger in my office.”
She doesn’t set down the phone for several minutes and when she does, she’s looking around the office guiltily. Then she turns to the computer and stares at it for a minute. We watch as she straightens, looks wildly around the office, back at the computer, and then she begins digging through things on the desk. She lifts the keyboard and then types something into the computer. A few minutes later, Andrea walks in.
“Do we have another view of the computer screen there, Barney?” Christian asks. He pauses for minute, listening to Barney’s response. He frowns.
“Thank you, Barney.” Another pause and then Christian hangs up.
“Well that’s it right?” I ask. “That’s when she found it?”
“It has to be.”
“So what are you going to do?” I ask. His eyes darken.
“Well, fire her, to start.”
“But, Christian, she has the contract. What if she sends it to the media?”
“Then I’ll sue her for breach of her NDA,” he says cooly.
“That’s not going to change the fact that everyone will know. Your family. Christ, what about when Teddy is old enough to know what that means?”
“You’re not suggesting I give in to her demands?” Christian asks, appalled.
“No! Of course not. But what if we can find away to show her she doesn’t want what she’s asking for?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, if she wants to be a submissive, I think we should give her a crash course in Christian Grey, and I know just the way to do it.”
Christian hangs up the phone and I stare at him.
“Well it’s done,” he says, “Are you sure you’re okay with this?” I nod my head, though I’m not really sure.
“Well then,” he says, “Let the scene begin.”