I’m nearly giddy with excitement as I make my way out of my Advanced Poetry Writing final and not only because I leave feeling as though I did really well, despite the fact that it was the test I felt least prepared for, but also because it was the last thing I had to do before break. I’m now looking at nothing but 34 uninterrupted days with Christian, which, over the past week, has now become a necessity. I’m finally over the constant nausea that plagued my first trimester. I haven’t even had to use one of the peppermint lozenges since last weekend. Unfortunately, the hormone changes of my second trimester have created an entirely different problem, one which has made the 3000 miles of distance between Christian and I even more unbearable. I have never wanted sex more than I have this past week and no amount of iChat has been able to sate the hunger.
The one silver lining is that it seems Christian is just as anxious for our reunion as I am because when I called to tell him that Kate wouldn’t be flying back to Seattle with me, he decided he was going to come along with his plane and meet me in Boston. He should be landing at the airport in the next hour and the anticipation behind that thought sends a shiver up my spine. My only concern now is whether or not I have to wait until we reach cruising altitude before I tear into him.
When I leave the Bravern Center and make my way to the car with Luke, I’m glad to see that Kate is already in the car so that we don’t have to go back to the house, but it also makes me a little sad when I remember why she’s not flying home with me today. Before I meet Christian out on the tarmac, I’m dropping her off at the main terminal and she’s getting on a flight to New York, where she’ll stay until Christmas Eve. Then she’ll fly to Seattle for Christmas but, a few days later, she’ll head straight back to New York to join Ainsley for New Years and a week of skiing at her family’s villa by Lake Placid. After that, she’ll come home to Cambridge for the remainder of winter break. It means I’m most likely not going to see her until next semester starts unless I can somehow convince her to come to the GEH New Year’s Eve charity gala Christian and Ros are hosting, rather than fly off to spend New Year’s in Times Square. And, since Elliot’s already RSVP’d to the event with Gia as his plus one, I’d say the odds of that happening are approximately zero.
“Promise me that we’ll spend at least one day together over break,” I say sadly as we pull onto the freeway towards Boston. “Even if it’s just hanging out at your house and watching Netflix all day. I haven’t seen Ethan in forever and I realized last fall over Dad’s weekend that I’ve forgotten how much fun your dad can be.”
“Sure.” She nods. “It’ll have to be pretty close to Christmas though, I’m probably flying back to New York on the 27th or the 28th.”
“That soon?” I ask, and she shrugs.
“I mean, what else am I going to do? “
“You don’t want to spend time with your family?” I ask her. “I mean, you’ve barely been home this semester. Don’t you miss your mom?”
“Of course I do,” she says. “But I’ll see her at Christmas and I’m sure we’ll do something together, just the two of us, while I’m there. I’m kind of used to not spending too much time with my family because over the past few years, I’ve spent most of my time with the Greys.”
“Yeah. Being in Seattle just… kind of reminds me that I’m not now, so I don’t really like spending too much time there. Especially because you’re the only friend I really have there and that’s where you are. With them.”
“Well, I don’t have to be, Kate. Not all the time.”
“Yes, you do. Carrick has cancer, you need to be there, and that’s okay. I could have been there too, but I made this choice instead. I’m fine with that, I just need to figure out where I go from here. I need to find the place I belong.”
“What does that mean?” I ask. “You’re not… you’re not going to move away when we graduate, are you? I mean, before last summer, you couldn’t wait to move back home.”
“That’s because last summer, Seattle was home. I thought my life was going to be a lot different than the way it’s turned out when I said that.”
“So, you’re going to move then? You’re not coming back home?”
“I don’t know,” she shrugs. “My dad wants me to come work for him, but I think next semester, I might start looking for job opportunities elsewhere. Maybe New York.”
“Well…” I hesitate, trying to hide the fact that I feel nearly devastated by this news. “I want you to be happy, that’s all I really care about, but I wish you could be happy in Seattle. You’re my only real friend there too, and I’d hate it if you lived all the across the country from me.”
“Hey,” Luke interrupts me indignantly from the driver’s seat. “I’m sitting right here.”
“She said it,” Kate giggles. “It can’t be taken back now.”
“Mhm,” he mumbles. “Let’s just see what happens if you move to New York, Kavanagh.”
“It’s just an idea,” she sighs. “I have a lot in Seattle, and I’m not sure if I’m willing to give all of that up or not. Besides, someone has to be around to expose my goddaughter to all the right things in life.” She reaches over and places her hand over my belly. “Christian will probably have her in all kinds of designer wear when we all know she was made exclusively for Chanel.”
“Oh, you’re sure it’s a girl, huh?” I ask.
“It better be,” she replies and I laugh. I haven’t thought much about the gender, or which I’d prefer, I’ve been too preoccupied with the daunting challenge of motherhood to be too concerned whether I’ll have a son or daughter. But the subject does make me wonder which Christian will want.
When we get to the airport, I give Kate a long hug and make her promise to keep in touch, even when she’s out having the time of her life with Ainsley. She agrees, kisses me on the cheek, and then turns for the main entrance to the airport. I wait just long enough to see her long, platinum hair disappear through the automatic doors, and then bolt back for the car. Christian’s plane should be landing any minute and I need to see the man about a problem…
My thighs press together in anticipation as Luke swings back around the airport to drive directly onto the tarmac, and when we arrive, I’m surprised when we find there are two cars already waiting there.
“Hm,” I muse out loud. “Do you think it’s possible another private jet is about to land?”
“Maybe,” he says.
“Maybe?” I repeat, catching the small satisfied tilt to his voice that makes me think he’s hiding something. “What do you know?”
“A lot of things,” he replies. “Some that I can tell you, some I can’t.”
“What can’t you tell me?” I reply, but he gives me a look that lets me know his lips are sealed. “Okay, what can you tell me?”
“That your boyfriend’s plane is inbound.”
I glare at him, but turn for the window to see the familiar jet quickly approaching, and my irritation is quickly forgotten.
When the plane touches down, I can’t hold back my excitement long enough to wait in the car until the stairs drop, so I step out onto the pavement and try to keep myself from bouncing up and down. Luke has slightly more realistic expectations for how long it actually takes before they open the doors, so he waits in the heat in the Lexus instead of moving to the back to remove my luggage. I don’t worry about him though, I’m too engrossed by the slowing of the propellers inside the jet engines on the wings and the sound of the plane slowly powering down. He’s here, he’s finally here, and the anticipation is tangible.
After what feels like forever, the doors open and the stairs are lowed from the plane, but when I begin running to meet Christian, I’m surprised when he’s not the person who comes through the door.
“Ana!” My mother cries.
“Mom?” She skips down the steps and wraps me in a tight hug, which I think I’m a little too shocked to return properly. “Wha- what are you doing here?”
“Are you surprised?”
“Yes,” I breathe, trying to keep the disappointment out of my voice, but when I turn to look back at the plane and see not only Bob, but Mia, Grace, and Gia coming down the stairs as well, I think my mouth actually pops open. What is going on?
“Ana, darling,” Grace says, opening her arms for me. “How were your finals, dear?”
“Uh… uh…” I stutter.
“Don’t be too excited to see us,” Mia says pointedly as she too steps forward to hug me.
“I am, I’m just… surprised. What is everyone doing here?”
Mia steps back and then drags her fingers across her lips as though she’s zipping them closed and then throws away the key. I stare down at her suspiciously for a second before turning to look back at the plane, where I finally see Christian. He and Elliot are holding onto a slightly unsteady Carrick, helping him down the stairs, and I’m slightly taken aback when I get a good look at him. It’s only been three weeks since I’ve seen him, but the difference is remarkable. He’s lost a noticeable amount of weight, half of his hair has been shaved off, and the side of his head is marred by a still angry looking scar from the brain surgery he had almost two weeks ago.
“Careful,” Christian says, as they take the last step down onto the pavement, which is slightly higher than the others. One of the flight crew rolls a wheelchair out from the cargo hold and Christian and Elliot each hold tightly to Carrick’s arms as he lowers himself down into the chair. “You okay, dad?” Christian checks.
“I’m fine, son,” Carrick answers, sounding slightly irritated. “Go. Go see your girl.”
“Okay,” Christian nods. He turns and the stress on his face is instantly gone when he sees me standing with the rest of the family. We both move towards each other and once I wrap my arms around him and his lips touch mine, I’m instantly overcome with the warm feeling of home.
“What are you doing?” I ask. “What’s going? You flew everyone out here just to… fly back to Seattle with us?”
“No,” he shakes his head. “We’re not going back to Seattle.”
“What do you mean? Where are we going?”
He smiles down at me and kisses my lips once more before looking up at Luke, who is now waiting patiently beside the Lexus.
“Luke,” Christian says. “Would you please take Mia, Elliot, and Gia back to the house? Taylor will drive our parents, and I’ll be taking Anastasia back myself.”
“Yes, sir.” Luke nods, and then he turns towards the car parked behind my Lexus. “Miss Grey, Miss Matteo.”
“Fine,” Mia grumbles, as she turns to follow after Luke. “But I get to hang out with Ana when we get back to the house. No funny business, Christian.”
“We’ll see,” he says, rolling his eyes. My mother leans over to kiss me on the cheek and then makes her way to the SUV parked in the far back, where Elliot is helping Carrick get into the backseat. Christian opens the passenger door to the Lexus for me and I climb in, but wait impatiently for him to get into the car as well so I can find out what the hell is going on.
“Well?” I demand when Christian closes the driver’s side door behind him. “Where are we going?”
“Right now? Back to your house,” he says. I give him a pointed look, but he just smiles back at me. He always gets so much damn satisfaction out of knowing things I don’t. “We’re taking a trip,” he says at last. “I wanted to do something really special for you when you graduated but since you’re going to be just about nine months pregnant when that happens, I thought now was as good a time as any.”
“But what about my doctor’s appointment in Seattle tomorrow? I’m supposed to have an ultrasound with Dr. Greene at 11:30.”
“I’ve rescheduled it with your Obstetrician here in Boston. We’re going there first thing tomorrow morning and then heading straight to the airport.”
“And then where?” I test him.
“You’ll see,” he says, smiling again, and I let out a huff of frustration. I hate not being in the know and I bet, since he convinced everyone else to come, I’m the only one who doesn’t know where we’re going tomorrow.
“Well, what do you plan on doing with all these people tonight? I don’t have room for them all in my house.”
“I was going to book a hotel room for everyone but my mom was insistent that we all be together. I think she just wants family around as much as possible right now.” I purse my lips together as I don’t really want to argue the sentiment, but the logistics haven’t changed. I don’t have a place for both of our families to sleep. “It’s only for one night,” Christian assures me, as though he can read my mind. “We’ll figure something out.”
“I was hoping to have some… uh, alone time with you,” I tell him. “That little problem I told you about over the phone hasn’t changed.”
“The problem where you can’t stop thinking about how good my dick tastes?” He says, giving me an over satisfied sideways glance
“Christian Grey!” I exclaim, surprised by his brazenness, but his returning smile is unapologetic.
“Believe me, Anastasia, I haven’t forgotten. I will have you alone, and soon. Don’t you worry about that.” He reaches over, places his hand on my knee, and my legs instinctively open for him. I feel the muscles deep inside me clench again as the hormone fueled ache suddenly roars to life, an ache that now won’t be satisfied at least until we go to bed tonight. I have no idea how I’m going to get through the evening with Christian close enough to touch, but still out of reach because of my now very full house.
When we get home, Luke and Taylor unload everyone’s luggage, and then leave to stay at Luke’s apartment for the rest of the night, which leaves me with seven people to find a place for. Thankfully, figuring out the sleeping arrangements doesn’t seem to be the priority as no one has eaten since early this morning and everyone is starving.
“Should we go out to eat?” Grace suggests.
“No, let’s order something,” Elliot says. “We’ve been flying all day and I think we should relax tonight since we’re going to be walking all over the place when we get to…”
“Our destination,” Christian cuts him off. “You know, the SURPRISE destination?”
“Right,” Elliot agrees. “Anyway, we have plenty of time to go out when we go you-know-where, let’s just chill. Give Dad a chance to save up some energy before he has to drag himself all over…”
“Elliot!” Christian snaps, clearly irritated, but I can tell by the way that his eyes glint when he looks back at Christian that he’s doing it on purpose now. He laughs, and then pulls Gia’s arm so that she falls onto the couch on top of him, and then shifts her into his lap. It’s uncomfortable watching him nuzzle her neck and then kiss her softly on the cheek, especially because they’re sitting only a few feet away from the wall where there’s still a picture of Kate and Elliot wrapped lovingly around each other while they sit on a giant rock in the sand at Shipwreck Point on the Washington Peninsula. Oh shit, I wonder how Kate’s going to feel about Elliot and Gia staying here tonight…
“Well, what is there to order, babe?” Christian asks, turning to me, and I have to force myself to peel my eyes away from Gia and Elliot to answer him.
“Um, Pizza or… Chinese,” I reply. “Unless you want to go out and pick something up.” Christian frowns but turns to his Dad.
“Pizza or Chinese?”
“Pizza!” Elliot calls from the living room. “Oh my god, can we please order from Angelo’s. I seriously haven’t found a decent substitute in Seattle.”
“Pizza sounds good,” Mia says from her perch on top of the counter in the kitchen.
“Then pizza it is,” Carrick says. “Ana, do you want to order?”
“Sure, what does everyone one want?” I ask, but then immediately turn to Elliot. “Not you, I know what you want.”
He smiles at me and winks, but Gia catches my eye. “I’ll have whichever salad has the most protien in it with no croutons or dressing.”
“None at all?” I ask.
“I don’t eat carbs,” she says, and then shrieks as Elliot grabs onto her sides. It takes everything I have in me to keep from rolling my eyes.
“Okay, so she’ll have a bowl of lettuce. What about everyone else?”
“Well, I suppose Elliot is going to get whatever has the most meat on it, so why don’t you order a combination or a veggie for the rest of us, try to balance it out,” Grace says.
“Sound good to you?” I ask Christian, but he shrugs.
“Get what you want, if Gia is just going to have a salad, I think I’ll have one too.”
“Oh… Okay.” He leans over and kisses me on the forehead before heading back out to the living room to join Elliot and Gia. Grace reaches over to touch my shoulder affectionately before she and Carrick follow after him, Mia quickly hurrying along in their wake.
“We’re fine with whatever,” my mother says. I put on a smile for her as I nod and offer her my cheek, and then watch them disappear into the living room with the others.
Angelo’s is still programmed into the house phone, so I pick it up off the wall, hold down the number four button, and then stare at the happy family picture my living room has become as I place the order. Christian is smiling at Gia as she throws her head back in laughter, and, for some reason, it makes my entire body feel tight. He’s usually not so… comfortable with people. But, looking at the way they’re interacting with each other now, he seems to have gotten awfully close to her in the past few weeks, and I don’t really like it.
I let out a harsh huff as I hang up the house phone, but, before I head into the living room with the others, I pull out my cell phone to send a quick text to Kate.
So, It turns out I’m not going back to Seattle. Christian has something planned and he brought the entire family to Cambridge for the night. Elliot and Gia are staying here…
I want to wait for her response, so I decide to pull plates and silverware out of the cupboards to look like I’m doing more than just awkwardly hanging around the kitchen. Thankfully, Kate must have been holding her phone when I texted her because her response is almost immediate.
What?! They’re staying at our house?
Yes. I’m sorry, I didn’t know, and it was Christian’s idea so I can’t really say anything about it…
Do NOT let them sleep in my room. It’s not Elliot’s room anymore.
I frown down at the text and then shake my head. She really thinks I’d be obtuse enough to give her bedroom to her ex boyfriend and his new girlfriend? I’m just about to tell her that I’d planned to put my parents in her room, and to make sure that’s okay, when my attention is drawn by Christian.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
“Nothing,” I say, “I’m just getting plates.”
“We’ll deal with that later, come join us.”
“I will,” I reply, but when I look down at my phone to text Kate again, I hear him sigh and then walk across the kitchen towards me.
“What’s wrong?” He asks.
“Nothing’s wrong,” I reply, but, eventually, I break under his persistent stare. “I just.. I wasn’t expecting this.”
“Are you upset?”
“No, not really. It’s just… a lot of surprise, that’s all. I kind of had an idea for how I wanted to start break and this is just kind of throwing me for a loop.”
“Will you just trust me?” he asks, taking a step closer to me and holding me by the arms. “You’re going to love everything I have planned for us. I promise.” I smile up at him and he leans down to whisper in my ear. “And I’m not just talking about what I have planned for tonight…”
He presses his lips into my neck, just below my ear, sending a shiver over me, and, as I moan and squirm away from the sensation, he moves to kiss me for real, but is stopped by Gia’s voice coming from behind us.
“Christian,” she begins. “I finally got that email response from Barney. He’s got some ideas about the interactive interface you wanted for the lobby in the new building.”
“I’ll be right there,” he says, and as she nods and turns to leave the room, Christian faces me once more. “Later,” he promises, and he kisses me softly on the forehead before turning around to exit after Gia.
Dinner is lively, much more so than Thanksgiving was, and the light, easy conversation continues on into the living room well after the dishes are finished and the pizza boxes have been trashed. Christian’s finds anyway he can to touch me as we’re seated at the table, or cleaning up, and each seemingly innocent touch has me spiraling right back down into the desperate sex haze I’ve been fighting off for the past week. Unfortunately, there’s no way for us to sneak away and deal with that properly, because once we’re seated in the living room, we’re pulled apart and made the center of attention of two different conversations. Christian is answering questions about some new company that specializes in sustainable energy and technology he’s acquiring for his father, while I’m basically asked to recount every final I’ve taken this last week to our moms. Soon though, the conversation turns to the baby and, as my mother and Grace start comparing nursery ideas and all the things they’ve both already purchased for the baby, I feel like there’s some kind of unspoken competition going on between them. A kind of Best Grandma Thunderdome, where only one can reign supreme.
“When is your next ultrasound, Ana?” Grace asks, finally including me in the conversation.
“Tomorrow,” I tell her. “We’re going to get a 3D ultrasound so we should get to see our first really clear picture.”
“And you’re just about sixteen weeks?”
“Then they should be able to tell the gender!” she says excitedly, turning to my mom. “Just think, tomorrow we’ll know if we’re going to have a grandson or a granddaughter!”
“Which do you want, Ana? A boy or a girl?” My mother asks.
“I don’t know,” I reply with a shrug. “A boy, probably. One just like Christian.”
“Trust me, you don’t want one just like Christian,” Grace says. “He was a beautiful little boy, but he was a handful.”
“Which is why I’m a hoping for a girl,” Christian says, coming up behind his mother and kissing her on the cheek.
“Girls are so dramatic,” my mother argues. “When Ana was little, I swear to you, every little thing was the end of the world. If she lost one of her berets or dribbled water on the pages of one of her books, you’d think someone was burning the house down. I don’t know what I would have done if it hadn’t been for Ray. That man has the patience of a saint. He was the only one who could get through to Ana. He was the only one she would listen to.”
My smile falters slightly at the mention of my father, and as I look down at my fingertips resting in my lap, my mother reaches out and clasps her hand around mine.
“Have you heard anything from him?”
“No,” I shake my head. “I’ve written him probably five or six times over the last three weeks, but I haven’t heard anything back.”
“Well, he’s a long way away,” she tries to reassure me. “The mail takes awhile. He’s probably just gotten your letters and he’s waiting to talk to you about them until he calls on Christmas.”
“If he calls on Christmas,” I say with chagrin. “He couldn’t get off the phone with me fast enough on Thanksgiving.”
“He’s going to call, baby,” Christian reassures me. I look over to give him a quick, tight lipped smile, and grasp the hand he places on my shoulder, but neither of us can say anymore as Mia interjects in an extremely impatient tone.
“Okay, okay, Mia,” he says, shaking his head slightly. “She wants to watch a slasher movie. I told her she had to wait until I got you back from our mothers.”
“Well, she’s all yours,” Grace says with a broad smile.
“It’s a little late to start a movie, isn’t it?” My mom asks, looking down at her watch. “It’s already past 11.”
“We have plenty of time to sleep on the plane tomorrow,” Elliot interjects. “I vote movie.”
“Plenty of time, huh? So, we’re going somewhere far…”
“No guessing games,” Christian warns me, and, as my mom and Grace get off the couch to let him sit beside me, I give him a searching glance, trying to glean anything from his expression. It’s fruitless though, as usual he gives nothing away and I have to settle for cuddling into his side while Mia puts the movie in the DVD player. Still, when his arm wraps around me and I feel the comfort of being nestled into him, I have to admit it’s a pretty good consolation prize.
Mia picks the most gruesome movie we own, and it ultimately sends both Carrick and Grace, and my parents to bed. I spend a lot of time with my face buried in Christian’s side, cringing away from the blood and gore on the screen, so when I hear Gia’s sudden exclamation, I not only jump, I nearly scream.
“Oh my god!” She says incredulously as she glances at the dimly illuminated screen of her phone.
“What?” Elliot asks, not taking his eyes off the killer holding a chainsaw.
“Your ex is making headlines again. Perez Hilton just posted pictures of her at some club opening with Ainsley Calloway and Eliza Whitney. God, I don’t know what is trashier, her friends or that dress.”
“Excuse me?” I ask angrily, and I feel Christian tense next to me.
“Oh not you, Ana,” Gia says, as if that’s what I was worried about. “I’m talking about the new pack of glitterati she’s using to try and stay relevant. Is it me or does she look a little coked out to you?” She holds her phone up for Elliot, her face plastered with a look of haughty superiority, and protective anger for my best friend flames inside of me.
“I’d be very careful about what you say next, Gia,” I warn her. “This is her house and I have no problem asking you to leave it.”
“This isn’t her house though,” she says. “It’s Christian’s. But that’s obviously the Kavanagh way, glomming onto anyone with more fame or money to get ahead. With these socialites she’s found, she’s practically made a career out of it.”
In an instinctual movement, I try to launch myself at her, but Christian’s hands clamp down hard around my arms, holding me in place.
“Ana…” he begins, trying to be diplomatic, but I ignore him.
“Do you want to say anything else?” I spit at her. “Because I may be pregnant, but that just puts me in a higher weight class than you and I will kick your ass.”
“Calm down, Anastasia. Look, I’m sorry that the truth hu-” she starts, but Elliot cuts her off.
“Hey, knock it off, okay?”
“Excuse me?” she asks, anger flaring in her eyes as she turns to him. “Are you defending Katherine Kavanagh to me right now?”
“No,” he shakes his head. “Kate’s… whatever, I don’t care. But you don’t need to be a bitch about her in front of her best friend.”
“A bitch?” Gia repeats, and when Elliot doesn’t say anything back, she pushes his arms off of her and bolts out of the seat they’re sharing. “Don’t touch me.”
“Gia…” Elliot calls as she storms out of the room, but when we hear the sliding glass door slam closed, he sighs and wrenches himself out of the chair, dragging his feet a little as he follows after her.
“She was being a bitch though,” Mia says, and Christian shakes his head, before turning to look at me.
“Let’s go to bed,” he suggests, but I purse my lips together and fold my arms over my chest.
“I’m not tired.”
“I’m not suggesting we go to sleep,” he says.
“You could have said something to her, you know,” I snap, ignoring the suggestion in his voice. “Kate’s your friend too.”
“That’s Elliot’s drama to deal with.”
“Well, it shouldn’t be,” I reply, and, to make the point clear that I’m not going to go up to bed with him after what just happened, I reach for the blanket on the back of the couch, wrap it around myself, and turn my attention back to the movie.
“Oh, come on, Ana,” he nearly groans.
“Not. Tired,” I repeat.
“What about your problem?”
“Oh, I have no problem, Christian. I’m doing just fine.”
“Fine,” he says, straightening on the couch and putting an inch or so of distance between us. I realize immediately that this was a bluff on my part, a poor one, and he’s calling it. I do have a problem, a major one. After having him touch me all night, my desire for him has never been more potent or out of my control, even now when I’m half mad at him for not defending Kate. He knows that. He’s using that.
“Kate’s just having a hard time,” I say, both in defense of my best friend and in a vain attempt to distract myself from the electric pull I feel in the small space between Christian and I.
“I know,” he says. “I think I understand better than anyone exactly what she’s doing.”
“What do you mean?”
He turns and gives me a look that suggests he thinks the answer should be obvious, but when I don’t show any signs of recognition, he sighs.
“Ana, how many CEOs do you know who regularly appear on the cover of tabloids or celebrity gossip sites?”
“I don’t know…” I admit. “Zuckerberg, maybe? He got his own movie.”
“Because he’s a social media magnate who has made a career out of getting personal. I’m talking about people like Philippe Dauman, Brian Roberts, or Jeffrey Bewkes?”
“Exactly. They’re CEOs of some of the most well known companies in the entire world, but no one knows who they are and that’s because, generally, no one cares.”
“So what makes you so special, Mr. World’s Most Eligible Bachelor?”
“I chased it,” he says. “I courted it. I did everything I could to have a strong media presence and to cultivate public interest in me and my company.”
“So you’d be more successful?” I ask.
“So you would see me,” he says. “You wouldn’t talk to me and I didn’t want you to be able to forget about me. I wanted to be on the magazines you picked up, on the news channels you flipped through, everything. I wanted your attention, so I used the media to get it. That’s all Kate’s doing now. She wants her name on the Perez Hilton because she doesn’t want Elliot to be able to not think about her.”
“And do you think it’s working?”
“Are you kidding me?” He replies. “Why do you think Gia hates her so much? He’s not exactly subtle about how much he’s still in love with her.”
“Not enough to change his mind about marriage or kids,” I say, turning back to the TV.
“No, and that’s why he’s with Gia now. He knows he can’t give Kate what she wants and he wants her to be happy, so he’s trying to move on and let her live her life. I don’t fight with Gia because I’m just trying to be supportive of that. He was in a lot of pain when he was alone, but he’s doing better now. Gia’s… the way she is, but she’s good for him.”
“You really think so?”
“Okay,” I sigh. “I’ll try to be nicer.”
“I don’t know if I want that,” he says seductively. “You’re kind of hot when you’re mad.”
“Or really?” I reply, feeling the burn of the desire deep inside of me growing hot once again at the sound of the deep timber in his voice.
“Hey,” Mia snaps, turning an angry look on both of us. “Are you two going to talk through the whole movie?”
“No,” Christian shakes his head. “I think we’re going to go to bed.” He turns to me, the implication of his words lying between us, and I nod. His eyes brighten, and he quickly stands from the couch, pulling me up with him and leading me straight for the stairs.
The next morning, I’m awake earlier than the west coast dwellers, so I ease myself out of Christian’s arms and make my way downstairs to put on some coffee. The hissing and gurgling noises coming from the machine are so loud, I’m worried that it’s going to wake everyone in the house, but I have a mission this morning, and the noise is the perfect way to cover up my phone call to Luke for anyone who might be able to hear me from upstairs.
When I’m off the phone, I take a look around but don’t find Gia or Elliot anywhere, so I assume they must have gotten a hotel last night after all. Mia is sprawled out, dead to the world, on the couch, and since it’s a little chilly, I cover her with a blanket, and pace back and forth in the kitchen waiting for Luke to arrive.
“This is the weirdest early morning errand I’ve ever had to do,” Luke tells me, when I ease the door open for him almost thirty minutes later. “Do you know how hard it was to find this at this hour?”
“Sorry, I thought we were going to be in Seattle or I would have picked them up days ago,” I tell him. “I would have gone out myself, but I didn’t want Christian to wake up and find me gone.”
“That’s alright. That’s what best friend’s are for, right?”
I roll my eyes. “I swear, between you and Kate, I’m going to lose my mind,” I tell him, as I pour him a cup of coffee and set it in front of him on the dining room table. “One day you’re going to realize that the two of you are actually perfect for one another and you’ll hook up and leave me behind forever.”
“Been there, done that.” He shrugs, and I nearly drop the carafe in my hand.
“What? You hooked up with Kate?” I hiss, trying to keep my voice down so I don’t wake everyone in house. “When? How? Why?”
“We got bored,” he replies. “It only happened once.”
“Remember that weekend in October when you made me stay here with her so she wouldn’t be alone in the house and you went off to Seattle and Grey got really pissed that I didn’t come with you? Well, we ran out of things to talk about about an hour after you left, so we found something else to do. I’m not her CPO.”
I’m almost dumbfounded. I never suspected for even a second…. I mean, Kate is terrible at keeping secrets. How did I not know this?
“I just…” I shake my head, trying to clear my thoughts. “I didn’t realize you were into Kate like that. You’re so ambivalent towards her. I mean, shouldn’t you at least be better friends now?”
“No. It’s not like I have anything against Kate, but I don’t really think it changed anything between us. Like I said, we were bored. Sometimes sex is just sex, Ana. Just because you fuck someone doesn’t mean you’re going to have babies and be with them for the rest of your life.”
“Well, apparently, it does for me,” I laugh, but as he too cracks a smile, I suddenly get a mental image of him and Kate together and I cringe away from it. “I can’t believe you and Kate… Ugh, I think I need a shower.”
“I don’t know how that’s going help,” he says. “That’s where we did it.”
“You fucked her in my shower?” I ask, appalled, but he laughs and shakes his head.
“I’m kidding, I’m kidding.”
“I’m going to kill you.” I reach across the table and push his shoulder, but as he laughs at me, I hear Christian’s voice come up behind me.
“Good morning, Mr. Grey,” he says.
“Good morning,” Christian replies. “Did you not get my email last night? We won’t be leaving for the airport until after ten.”
“Yes, sir. I was just… um…”
“He was coming to take me to the gym,” I interrupt, trying to cover for him since part of the reason he’s here is a surprise for Christian. “Kate and I go at this time every morning, but I told him that I had a doctor’s appointment.”
“Oh, well… we need to leave soon, so if you’re going to take a shower, you should do that now.”
“Okay,” I agree. “See you later, Luke.”
“See you later, Ana,” he says, and then gives me a wicked smile. “Enjoy your shower.”
“I hate you so much,” I reply. He laughs as he gets up from the table to return to his car and when Christian gives me a questioning look, I just shake my head, take his hand, and pull him along with me to my bedroom, where I fully plan on getting him naked again.
Just as I expected, everyone wants to be at this appointment with Christian and I because of the possibility of finding out whether we’re having a boy or a girl, and, apparently, waiting until we drive back home is just too much for them to handle. But, when we arrive in the waiting room of Dr. Baker’s office, I’m surprised to see Gia and Elliot are already there waiting for us. Wherever they went, it seems as though they’ve made up from last night, because they can’t seem to keep their hands off each other. It’s still awkward and uncomfortable for me to see him with her like that, but after what Christian said last night, I try to be more open minded about it. Elliot and Kate aren’t going to be together, so this is something I need to accept.
“Anastasia?” Dr. Baker’s nurse calls, and I quickly jump out of my seat and follow her through the doors to the examination room with Christian, eager to be separated from Gia’s constant giggling and Elliot’s too broad grin. Thankfully, I’m Dr. Baker’s first patient this morning so the wait isn’t long after her nurse has taken all my vitals before she comes in to see me.
“How are you feeling, Anastasia?” She asks as she takes a seat next to me.
“Fine,” I reply. “The nausea is gone, which is a huge relief, but I’ve been more tired over the past few weeks and that’s been a little difficult to deal with.”
“Unfortunately, that’s normal,” she says, looking down at my chart. “I am a little concerned with your blood pressure, which is pretty high. Have you been experiencing any headaches, blurred vision, or pain?”
“No,” I reply, shaking my head. “We have had a fairly stressful couple of weeks though. Christian’s father was diagnosed with stage four cancer.”
“Oh goodness, I’m so sorry to hear that. I guess that does explain the changes we’ve seen in your vitals though, so hopefully, that will all be resolved in the next few weeks. I would like to keep an eye on it though.”
“Okay,” I agree.
“I do have a question,” Christian says, and Dr. Baker turns to look at him. “She still goes to the gym every morning, and I just want to know how safe that is for her pregnancy.”
“What kind of exercise do you do at the gym?” She asks.
“Mostly cardio. I usually do thirty minutes on the treadmill and some resistance training.”
“Is that normal for you?”
“Yeah, it’s been my standard for about two and a half years.”
“Well, if you’re already a runner, I wouldn’t be too worried about it, at least not until your third trimester. A treadmill can be fairly high impact though, so if you want to run, I would suggest maybe using a jogging path outside rather than a machine. I’d limit any lifting exercises you might be doing, but exercise is a great stress reducer, so I don’t see any problem with you continuing a modified version of your current routine.”
“Okay,” I agree, but I know Kate isn’t going to be happy. I’ve always loved running along the river on campus, but she doesn’t like her workout routines being dictated by the weather. I might have to start taking Luke with me, instead of Kate.
“Anything else?” She asks.
“I don’t think so,” I reply, and when Christian shakes his head, she reaches over to pull the heavy ultrasound machine closer to the examination table.
“Then let’s take a look shall we?”
I lie back and pull up my shirt so that she can spread the cold, blue goo on me before dragging the wand over my belly, which is finally rounding out into a small, but noticeable bump. Christian and I both stare at the picture on the screen, amazed by how vastly different it looks from any other ultrasound we’ve gotten before. It isn’t just a white shape on a black background anymore, the 3D image looks like a real baby. We can see fingers and toes, their lips, nose, eyes, even ears. The picture is mesmerising and while the doctor pauses to take measurements and screen captures, Christian and I both take an audible breath as we watch our baby scrunch up it’s little face, before relaxing again. It’s the first time I’ve seen any real movement and as I focus harder on the image, waiting and hoping to see it again, I feel tears prick at the corners of my eyes.
“I love you,” Christian says, leaning down to whisper in my ear. “So very, very much.”
“Alright, everything looks really great,” the doctor says at last. “And, we are in a very good position today. How do you feel about finding out the sex?”
“Yes,” I nod excitedly, but before the doctor can say anything, Christian squeezes my hand tighter so that I look at him.
“What if we didn’t?” He asks. “What if we wait and just let it be a surprise?”
“Can you tell?” I ask Dr. Baker. She smiles and nods, and I bite my lip as I contemplate waiting another five months to find out the gender.
“I can’t wait,” I tell Christian. “I have to know. Dr. Baker, could you write it on a piece of paper for me, and he can decide if he wants to know later?”
“Of course,” she says. She turns for the machine and hits the button to print all the images, and while I use the rag she hands me to wipe the gel off my belly, she scribbles the sex of our baby down on a piece of paper, tucks it into an envelope, and hands it to me. I wait for her to leave the room and for Christian to turn to pick up my coat and purse from the chair behind him before I peel back the tab on the envelope and read the congratulations message inside. The moment I see the word written on the card, a smile breaks across my face. I didn’t know what I wanted before this appointment, but now that I see it in black and white, I’m filled with unbridled, resounding joy.
“The look on your face right now…” Christian observes, and when I look up at him, I see him smiling just as broadly as I am. “Okay, you’re right. I can’t wait either. What does it say?”
“You’re sure?” I check.
“Yes,” he nods. “Tell me.”
“What if I show you instead?” I ask.
I give him the same look he gives me when he knows something I don’t, then reach into my purse for one of the canisters that I had Luke pick up for me this morning and pull out the one with the proper colored cap. His eyes widen when he sees what’s in my hand.
“Don’t…” he begins, but it’s too late. I laugh as I press down on the plunger and he tries to cringe away from me, but it’s no good.
“There,” I say when the canister is empty. “Now you can tell everyone.”
“You’re a terrorist.” He helps me into my coat and then follows after me as we make our way through the office back towards the waiting room, but before we step through the door to rejoin our family, I pause and turn back to him.
“This is ridiculous,” he says, glancing down at his t-shirt and jeans with dismay.
“You look adorable,” I reply with a giggle. “You’re not disappointed are you? You didn’t want a-”
He puts his finger against my lip to silence me. “Why would I be disappointed? For once, everything is absolutely perfect.”
“I’m happy too,” I tell him, and then lean up to press my lips into his. “I love you, Christian Grey.”
“I love you, Anastasia Steele.”
I bite down on my lip, trying to reign in my ridiculous smile, and then glance over him once more. “Well, shall we?”
“After you,” he replies, shaking his head good humoredly and motioning for me to go through the door first.
“Wait here,” I tell him, and then take a deep breath and turn for the waiting room. The moment I step through the door, seven pairs of eyes immediately snap up to me.
“Well?” my mother shrieks. “Were you able to find out the gender? What are we having?”
“Christian wants to tell you,” I tell them and I reach back and open the door again. He walks out with his arms held up at his sides, looking uncomfortable being put on show for everyone but still beaming with happiness. He’s covered, head to toe, in bright pink silly string.
“Oh my god, it’s a girl!” Mia shrieks, and she launches herself out of her chair at Christian, followed quickly by our now teary eyed mothers.