Chapter 28

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The following is intended for mature audiences and may contain material that is not suitable for some readers. Discretion is advised.

Kate sits by my side with a pad of paper to take notes for thank you cards while I open gifts, and before we even make it to the presents my family has purchased, she’s already filled two pages. Receiving gifts like this has a whole other kind of meaning when you’re not in need, the gesture becomes purely about love and support, and after the year we’ve had, experiencing that reassurance over and over again has me feeling slightly overwhelmed.

When I finally get to the gifts from my family, I start with the packages from Grace because I think she might spontaneously combust if I don’t. It takes nearly thirty minutes for me to unwrap everything and in the end she’s given us dozens of clothes, high tech video baby monitors, the most advanced stroller on the market, a year subscription to a diaper service that delivers clean cloth diapers daily and packs away the used ones to be laundered, an entire pack of bibs that all have some variation of Grandma Loves Me Most written on them, and a gown for the baby’s christening.

I give Christian a sideways glance as I pull the white gown and hat from the box, and he rests his hand reassuringly on my knee before turning to his mother and thanking her. While I also offer my thanks and get off the floor to hug her for everything, I wonder if the whole baptism thing is something Christian and I will talk about or if that’s not my choice to make just because Grace is Catholic. The latter I’m not sure I’m comfortable with…

Next I open Gia and Elliot’s gift, and I’m actually surprised by how much I love the floral printed Roberto Cavalli diaper bag. It’s white with pastel flowers all over it and black impressionist drawings of birds and butterflies. It’s so cute that it’s actually something I would happily carry around as a purse, and as I examine everything, I find that it’s also very functional.

“Thank you, Gia,” I tell her, sincerely.

“You’re very welcome, Anastasia,” she replies, and for the first time I don’t really hear any bitterness or resentment in her voice. She smiles at me and I smile back, until Elliot interjects.

“Thank you, Gia?” he repeats, as though he’s hurt. “You think this was Gia’s idea? You think I didn’t walk into Roberta Cav-a-lee all by myself, look at that purse thing, and say to myself, that’s exactly what Anastasia needs for my new niece?

“Surprisingly, I don’t,” I say wryly.

He holds his hand to his chest and lets his mouth fall open with fake shock, but Gia rolls her eyes and turns back to me.

“Elliot’s gift is inside.”

The corner of my mouth upticks and I reach into the bag. When my fingers close around some kind of soft fabric, I pull it out, and, once I read the print on the onesie he’s bought for us, I give him a hard, sardonic look, shake my head, and then toss it to the floor.

“What is it?” Christian asks, picking it up and turning it towards him so he can read the text that says:

My Dad is a Mother Fucker

“Real nice, Elliot,” Christian says, balling up the onesie and tossing it at his brother, who is almost beside himself with laughter. I roll my eyes and reach for my mother’s gift, which ends up being a beautiful homemade quilt for the baby’s nursery.

“Thank you, Mom,” I tell her as I squeeze her tightly against me. “It’s gorgeous. I love it so much.”

“You’re very welcome, Ana,” she says. “I was hoping to stitch the baby’s name into the blanket but…”

Her voice trails off airily as Christian and I look at each other, and I bite down on my lip, trying to hold back a smile.

“Actually, Christian and I decided on a name. Just now.”

“Amelia?” Mia chirps excitedly. I laugh and shake my head, then turn to Christian.

“Do you want to tell them?”

“No, you go ahead.”

“Okay. Christian and I have decided to name her Calliope, after the Greek goddess of eloquence and poetry.”

“Oh,” Grace coos. “Oh, that’s so beautiful!”

“Thank you,” I smile at her.

“Cal…” Elliot begins, his voice trailing of as if he’s having trouble with the word.

“Kah-Lie-Oh-Pee” Christian says, over phonetically, but Elliot doesn’t seem any more pacified.

“So, Callie then?” he asks, and when Christian shakes his head the look of satisfaction on Elliot’s face at finding another easy way to irritate his brother becomes obvious.

“What’s her middle name?” Carter asks, though the curiosity in his question is very quickly replaced with something much more awkward once he catches Elliot’s very irritated glare.

“Katherine,” Christian says. “Calliope Katherine.”

I turn to look at Kate and watch the pouty look of adorable-overload slowly melt off her face until her expression is entirely blank.

“Katherine?” she repeats. “Like… after me?”

“Yes,” I reply, beaming at her. “After you. It was Christian’s idea.”

A huge grin slowly creeps across her face and her eyes turn glassy as she throws herself forward, bypassing me and wrapping her arms tightly around Christian’s neck.

“Uh…” Christian says uncomfortably, his whole body tensing under the sudden, unexpected contact.

“I know, I know,” Kate says, through her tears. “You don’t like people touching you, but just deal with it for a second, okay? Thank you, Christian!”

Slowly, Christian relaxes, and even reaches around to hug her back, and as he turns to whisper something private into her ear, Gia gets out of her seat.

“Excuse me,” she huffs, and storms out of the room.

“Gia?” Elliot calls after her, but when she doesn’t stop or turn around, he sighs. “God damn it,” he says, groaning as he gets off the floor and disappears after her.  

“Are we supposed to wait for her?” Mia asks, annoyed, but Grace shakes her head.

“No, this day is about Ana, not Gia. Go ahead, dear. I think those ones are from Mia.”

I smile and take the gift bags next to the blanket my mother made for us. Mia’s gifts are mostly clothes, though I’m obsessed with the tiny Dior peacoat she’s found, and once Christian and I have both gotten up to thank her properly, I move on to my last gift, which is from Kate.

“Baby’s first Chanel,” I say airily as I slide the pale pink ribbon off the black box in my lap. She smiles at me.

“I thought she could wear this home from the hospital.”

“Really?” I start digging through the white tissue paper inside, and when I find the tiny infant sized onsie, pants, and socks that are all covered in Seahawks logos, my eyes widen with excitement.

“You know me so well!” I chirp, and then pull her into me, giggling as we hug each other.

“There’s real Chanel back at the house,” she promises. “I just thought you’d like this more.”

“Is it bad if I agree with you?” I ask, and we both laugh again.

With everything unwrapped, we begin packing what we can into the car or into the nursery upstairs, and then hug and kiss everyone but Kate and Carter good-bye, thanking them again before we go. I feel calm as we make the drive back to Escala, content, and above all else happy. Before Christian, I had my mom and Bob, and I had Ray, but that was the entire extent of my family. Christian has given me so much more than that, imbibed my life with so much more love and support, and to see it all on display today leaves me with a resounding sense of peace.

At home we have dinner with Kate and Carter and then spend a few hours seated around the huge white couch in the living room, listening to the horror stories of Elliot and Carter’s stand off all afternoon and the endless barrage of questions Elliot threw at him, until Christian finally decides he’s had enough with company and drags me back into the bedroom to be alone. I’m still in the flowy pink dress Kate put me in this afternoon, so my first priority is to strip it off in favor of some sweats and one of Christian’s t-shirts, but I’ve only just gotten out of the dress when I feel his arms wrap around me from behind.

“Did you enjoy your shower?” he asks, and I hum my approval as I turn to face him.

“Very much. There’s a lot of love in this family.”

“Well, you’re very easy to love.” He leans down to kiss me but, as he begins pulling me back towards the bed, another thought pops into my mind and I stop him.

“Um… Ros was there this afternoon.”

He frowns. “Ros? Why?”

“I don’t know, I guess Kate invited her.”

He lets out a very unattractive snort as he turns away from me and makes for his dresser, and I bite down on my lip nervously as I watch him go.

“She, uh… she and I talked a bit,” I begin. “She kind of told me some things that I want to talk to you about.”

“Oh, I’m sure she told you a lot of things,” he replies bitterly. “She’s never been short on things to say.”

“Christian, I think you should listen to her. She told me she didn’t send those emails and when I listened to what she had to say… I– I believe her.”

“You believe her because she’s a professional con-artist. Her job is to sell a shitty deal like it’s the chance of a lifetime and she’s very good at it. It’s why I’ve kept her around so long. I bought her lies too, but I won’t be that naive again.”

“That’s harsh, Christian. She was your best friend, don’t you think you owe her…”

“I don’t owe her a goddamn thing, Anastasia,” he interrupts me, angry now. “I gave that woman everything and she betrayed me. She was just using me as a stepping stone to get power. Does that sound like a friend to you?”

“But that’s the thing, Christian, I don’t think she was. She told me that she talked to Welch and…”

Welch?” he snaps, interrupting me again. “The man who tried to have me ousted from my own company? You think that makes any of this better?”

“Will you please just listen to me?”

“No, I don’t want to talk about Ros Bailey, Anastasia. I’m done with her. I’m done with Welch, I’m done with all of it.”

“But what if you’re wrong?”

“I have the proof, Ana.”

“You have emails on a server that god only knows who has access to. She said she thinks GEH has been compromised, what if she’s being set up?”

“I have the best technology team money can buy, Anastasia. That server is very well protected.”

“By who, Welch? He was the first one gone, wasn’t he?”

“Do you think I don’t know how to run a company? Is that how you see me? Incompetent?”

“No, I just… I-I just…”

Christian’s jaw tightens and he presses his lips together in a thin line. “I’m done having this conversation. I’m gonna…  go check my email.”

“Christian…” I say, but he ignores me, turning instead for the door and disappearing into the hallway. I let out a heavy sigh but decide it’s better to try again tomorrow rather than follow him into his office and continue to pester him, so instead I turn out the lights and crawl into bed.

I fall asleep before he returns.

 

Kate and Carter leave early the next morning for Cabo, but being alone together doesn’t make Christian want to talk about Ros any more than he did on Saturday night. So, once he and the team have gone into work on Monday morning, I make a plan to get Christian to talk to Ros whether he likes it or not. Still, I find myself walking through the apartment, checking around corners and peering into rooms people don’t even go into before I make the call.

“Hey, Ana,” Ros answers. “How are you?”

“I’m good. I was just calling to let you know that… well, I tried to talk to Christian.”

“And he wouldn’t listen to you,” she guesses with a sigh.

“No.”

“It was a long shot, but I had to try. God, he’s so fucking stubborn. I don’t know what I’m going to do, Ana.”

“Ros, I think I can help you. But if you’re lying to me…”

“Ana, I swear to you. Look, I know how it looks and I can understand, given everything he’s been through, why he doesn’t trust me. I mean, after Elena Lincoln, I can’t imagine he trusts anyone really… But you know me. You know that I stood by him during the hardest times of his life, that I fought tooth and nail to not let any of the things that happened in his personal life last year affect his company so that he wouldn’t lose it, that I’ve sacrificed my time and sometimes my sanity to be a support system for him and to make sure he was able to spend as much time with you as possible while you were at school this year. I’ve been his confidant, I’ve been his punching bag, I’ve been his best friend. Why would I defect now when everything was finally going so well?”

“I know,” I concede. “And it’s for those reasons that I want to trust you, but if I let another person into his life who is just going to let him down…”

“Then you’ll lose his trust too,” she finishes for me. “I know what I’m asking you, and if it’s too much, then I’ll understand if you don’t want to help me. But I promise, Ana, I just want my job back. I just want my life back.”

I take a deep breath. “Okay. Anthony and Cardella are in a meeting at GEH right now about the new security protocol for when they move into the new building. Cardella is supposed to be back in an hour, but if you can get here before she does then you can wait for Christian here. When he gets home, the two of you can sit down and talk.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Oh my god, thank you so much, Ana. I’ll come right now.”

“The elevator code is 040410. Hurry,” I tell her, but the only response I get is the clicking of the phone as she hangs up.

“Okay,” I say aloud, trying to reassure myself as I work through everything I need to do before Christian gets home now. Food is probably a good place to start, he’s always in a better mood after he eats and thankfully, I know his favorite meal. I make my way to the kitchen and pull some chicken out of the freezer to thaw and then make my way back to Christian’s wine stores to find his favorite bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. If food won’t do the trick, surely alcohol will…

I’m just going through the cupboards to see if I’m going to have to send Gail out this afternoon to get anything for the dish I have planned when I hear Champ’s paws scraping against the marble floor, and then the following scratching sound against the glass wall.

“Champ,” I call, but the the scratching continues. With a sigh, I close the cupboard and walk around the counter. When he sees me, he starts whining so I lean down to scratch him behind the ears.

“Do you need to go potty, buddy?” I ask, and his ears perk at the familiar word. I smile, stand, and then pat my leg to get him to follow me to the foyer, where I hook his leash through his collar and drag him with me into the elevator.

There isn’t a ton of great options for my backyard loving dog to find a place to relieve himself in the concrete jungle of downtown Seattle, so I end up taking him up the block a couple times, trying to guide him to the few patches of dirt that surround the trees on the edge of the sidewalk. But now that we’re outside, he’s much more interested in following the smells of the new city than trying to find a place to go to the bathroom.

“Come on, Champ,” I say impatiently, but he seems to care very little about my priorities right now. After sniffing the side of a newspaper machine, he begins moving down the sidewalk again, nose pressed to the ground, dragging me along behind him. I yank back on his leash, trying to get him back onto the dirt patch, but he’s stronger than I am and more determined. So when a stray cat pokes it’s head out of the alley just across the street from the corner we’re standing on, I don’t stand a chance of holding him back.

“Champ!” I shout over his barks that echo over the sound of car horns and surprised screams around me. “Fuck!”

I shoot an apologetic glance at the woman with her young daughter walking up the street next to me and then sprint into the street after him, thinking the whole time what a weird paradox I’ve suddenly found myself in. The cat is faster than Champ is but Champ is committed, which means that they’re just getting farther and farther away with every passing second and there’s no sign of Champ slowing down. On the other hand, I think if Champ were to catch the stupid cat, which would be the only thing to make him stop, the resulting carnage would give me nightmares for weeks. I’m not sure which option I want to happen least…

“Champ!” I call again, but nothing.

The cat takes a sharp left turn into an alley, now several blocks away from my apartment, and they both disappear, leaving me with only the sounds of Champ’s barking to follow.

“Shit, shit, shit,” I say as I round the corner and find that they’ve already made it around another corner at the end of the alley. I’m going to lose him. I’m going to lose Kate’s dog the first day she trusted me to watch him. Gritting my teeth together, I run up the alley and then make the decision to turn right, towards the echoing sounds of Champ’s barks, and it ends up being a mistake.

Standing there, watching me at the end of the alley, is Leila Williams.

“Leila?” I say, through the panting breaths that seem harsher now that they’re mingled with a sudden spike of fear. “What… what are you doing here?”

“I told you that you had to be careful,” she says. “I told you he was always watching.”

It’s like her words have a direct line to whatever part of the brain triggers terror and as she takes her first step towards me, I back away and instinctively place my hand over my baby bump. But when I turn and find that the path directly behind me leads to a dead end, and that the alley I just ran up is now occupied by two very burly looking men walking up towards me, each pulling ski masks over their face, that terror turns to hysteria.

“No!” I scream. “Help! Help!”

The men start sprinting at me and I turn to run, but I’m trapped. There’s nowhere to go and instead of my mind sharpening in this moment of absolute panic and helping me sort through what to do, it goes completely blank. I’m a shaking mess as I hear them come around the corner at me, helpless to do anything but scream.

I try to jerk away the moment I feel the first set of hands on me, but I’ve only just slipped out of his grip when I feel the second set. They quickly take hold of my arms and legs, and no amount of kicking or struggling can break me out of their grip as they drag me to the wall. There’s a weird sense of deja vu as I feel the same horror that has woken me up on countless nights because of this exact scenario, but it’s not a dream this time. Christian isn’t going to wake me up. This is really happening, and the feeling of fear is so intense my vision starts to blur.

“Shut the fuck up, bitch,” one of them growls at me.

“Please, please don’t hurt me. My fiance has money,” I say, going immediately to pleading. “Lots of money. He’ll give you whatever you want if you let me go. Just please, please don’t do this. I’m pregnant. Please!

“What part of shut the fuck up don’t you understand?” he demands. He moves his hand up to cover my mouth but I twist my face out of his reach.

“Help!” I scream again, using so much force it feels as though I’ve ripped something in my throat. “Please, help me!” He grabs my face and shoves my head back into the brick wall, temporarily dazing me while his hand secures around my mouth. The pain from the blow is so intense, I almost don’t hear what he says next.

“You want to die today?” he asks, but all I can do is whimper in response. “Then shut. The fuck. Up.”

His partner releases me, leaving only the man threatening me to hold my body against the wall, so I try again to struggle out of his grip but it’s no use. He’s insurmountably stronger than I am. Tears begin pouring down my face as I watch the man no longer holding me pull a backpack around to his front and then reach inside to remove a bunch of long, thick cable ties. I jerk my body again and scream into my captors hand, but the sound is too muffled. I doubt Leila, standing only 20 or so feet away, can hear me, let alone anyone on the noisy street.  

There is an almost instinctual severity to the fear the sight of the cable ties brings out of me, one that tells me that I need to get away from him, that I need to do everything in my power to prevent them from getting those cable ties around me, because if they are able to successfully restrain me and get me out of this alley undetected, I know, in the deepest part of my soul, that I won’t make it out of this. There is an overpowering certainty growing inside my gut that tells me that these men don’t just want to harm me, they’re going to kill me. They’re going to use me to torture Christian, probably get money out of him, but they will have no intention of ever letting me go. Leila let me see her, which means they can never let me talk to the police. If I ever have any hope of holding my baby in my arms, of seeing the man I love ever again, I have to get out of this alley. Now.

“Give me her arms,” the man holding the cable ties says. The man pinning me to the wall shifts his hold on me to bring my hands together, and it means my mouth is free again. I scream as loudly as I can, ignoring the intense pain in my throat, but it only lasts a second before he’s silencing me again.

“Do you think I’m fucking around?” he asks menacingly, leaning in so closely I can feel his hot, wet breath on my face. His body presses into me, holding me to the wall while his hand moves down to his pocket. The next thing I know, I feel the sharp, cold edge of a steel blade against the skin on my throat. “If you make another fucking sound, I will cut this baby out of you and leave it on Grey’s fucking doorstep.”

A horrible gut wrenching sob explodes out of me as the tears of fear begin pouring down my face. I continue to try and struggle out of his grip, but I can’t. Still, my unwillingness to cooperate seems to be wearing on him. He increases the pressure of the blade against my skin and I scream as I feel hot, wet blood drip down over my throat.

“Don’t fucking move,” he says. “Don’t make a fucking sound, or you will die.”

He moves his hand from my mouth but I don’t scream this time. Not because I don’t want to, but because I can’t. The fear has my throat so tight, it feels as though I can’t breathe. I stand there bawling, the rough surface of the brick behind me scraping my arms as I continue thrashing violently against his grip. My eyes dart through the alley, praying for a miracle, and when I see Leila coming towards us again, I do the only thing I can think to do.

“Please, Leila,” I sob. “Please help me.”

The man holding me down lifts my wrists as his partner unfurls the first of the cable ties, but as he reaches forward to wrap it around me, I suddenly hear a loud, vicious sounding snarl and something big and tan streaks past me. The man with the cable ties is forced to the ground, Champ’s huge paws pinning him to the asphalt while he growls, snarls, and barks in his face.

“Fuck,” the man holding me says. I start to struggle again now that his attention is diverted, but he shoves me hard back into the wall once more, making everything around me dim for a split second as my head impacts with the wall again, and turns to Leila.

“When is that fucking van getting here?” he demands. “Help me tie her up!”

She swallows and then steps towards us, holding her arm out like she’s going to try and help hold me down, but her hand doesn’t reach me. Instead, she wraps her fingers around the man’s bicep and when he gives her a look that tells me he doesn’t know what the fuck she’s doing, she pulls her hand out from behind her back and quickly thrusts something hard and black into the man’s neck. I realize, as his body starts violently convulsing, that the thing in her hand is a tazer, and after a few seconds of having electricity jolting through him, his grip on me slackens and I’m able to slide out of his hands.

“Run!” Leila screams.

I try to follow her command, but in my frenzied rush to get away, I trip over the still convulsing man in front of me and am only just able to pivot my body in time so that my shoulder and face take the entire brunt of the fall, rather than my stomach. I can feel the sharp pain of road rash on the side of my face as I try and scramble to my feet, and an even more intense pain in my elbow, but I’m able to quickly pick my stride back up to sprint down the alley after Leila. The sounds of Champs barks echo through the closely packed brick walls and just before we turn the corner that will take us into another back alley, I stop and turn to look at him.

“Champ,” I whimper.

“Are you kidding me?” Leila screams. “Forget about the dog and fucking run, Anastasia!” I swallow and then turn to follow her again, leaving Kate’s dog, the dog who probably just saved my life behind.

As we run through the wet alleyway, I start looking for an opening to the street, but Leila stops me halfway down the backstreet and yanks me behind a dumpster that is surrounded by piles of boxes and trash.

“Calm down,” she hisses. “You have to be quiet now, they’ll hear you.”

“We-we have to get back to Es-cala,” I stutter back at her.

“No.” She shakes her head. “You can’t go back there now. He knows that this was his chance to get you and now that we’ve blown his cover, he won’t be so careful in his next attempt. He’ll stop at nothing to get you. If you try to go back there now, people will die.”

“He can’t get me there. It’s safe there. There’s codes, and security…”

“It’s not safe there, Anastasia,” she interrupts me. “It’s not safe anywhere. He’s everywhere.”

“Wh-what?” I breathe out, the hysteria clear in my words.

“We have to get you somewhere safe, somewhere out of the city where he can’t get to you.”

“Bellevue,” I stutter. “Grace and Carrick.”

She lets out an angry huff. “What don’t you get? He’s done a lot of bad things, Ana, and there’s more he’s going to do, but more than GEH, more than Grey’s money, the thing he’s obsessed with getting, is you. He wants to destroy Grey and he knows that he has to take you from him to do that, so he’s going to try to get to you now by any means necessary. Today. That means you can’t go anywhere he would suspect you may go. You can’t go to the Grey’s, you can’t go to Elliot’s, you can’t go to Kavanagh’s, you can’t go to GEH, you can’t go to the airport…”

“The police then,” I suggest, but she shakes her head.

“No, you won’t make it there,” she says. “And I think he’s already bought a few of them…”

Bought? What do you mean… bought?

“People will do anything for money, Ana. No matter who they are. He has a lot of resources and he’s very motivated.”

“Who is he, Leila? Who’s doing this?”

She stares at me, silent and uncertain, and eventually shakes her head. “I can’t tell you that. He’ll kill me.”

“We’ll protect you. Christian will protect you,” I argue, but again, she shakes her head.

“You can’t even protect yourselves. This isn’t the end, Ana. This is just where it gets bad. Why do you think I’ve been sitting outside your house in Cambridge? To keep your security on high alert.”

“You were–you were protecting me?”

“Yes!”

I swallow and then feel my face crinkle as the fear spikes again and I start to cry, but as the first tears begin rolling down my cheeks, we hear loud, pounding footsteps coming up the alley.

Leila twists, sheltering my body with hers while we listen to the steps coming closer and closer. I don’t allow myself to move, or to cry… I don’t even breathe, because each thud against the pavement feels as though it could be counting down the last few seconds of my life.

“Leila!” a booming voice shouts, and the sound reverberates against the walls over us. Something heavy that must be made of metal slams hard into the dumpster, making the loud metallic bang echo so loudly it’s hard to stay silent with the sound pounding into my eardrums. But I do, I stay silent, even after the man screams for Leila again.

I feel her fingers grip tighter to the exposed skin on my arms, digging into the cuts and scrapes there, but she doesn’t respond. We stay there, crouched behind that dumpster, hidden only by waste and mess, trying to remain absolutely still and absolutely mute. The seconds drag on like hours, my heart beats so furiously it feels as though it may explode right out of my chest, but, eventually, the footsteps begin again, and then disappear.

“I need to find a way to get you out of here,” she says.

“Where?” I ask.

“Well, I’ll start with a car.” She pulls her own backpack off, but instead of removing cable ties, she takes out a black sweatshirt with a hood and hands it to me. I slip my arms inside of it, ignoring the screaming pain in my elbow, and pull the hood over my head, doing everything I can to hide as much of my face as possible. I try to get my legs to stop shaking long enough so that I can stand, but when I rest my hand against the wall to help me get to my feet, Leila places a hand on me to keep me down.

“Wait here,” she says.

“You’re not going to leave me here!” I exclaim.

“I can move easier without you. I’ll be fast. Just stay here, stay quiet, and stay out of sight.”

“Leila,” I hiss, but she ignores me as she throws her backpack back over her shoulder and slips into the alley. Once she’s gone, a whole new wave of panic crosses over me. If they find me now, without Leila as a witness, no one will know. How long will it take Christian to realize I’m actually gone and not just out? Or Ros… fuck, Ros! What will she do when she shows up and I’m not there? Maybe she’ll send Cardella and Anthony out for me. Maybe they’ll find me before Leila gets back…

And then people will die.

Was Leila serious when she said that? I have a brief flash of being under Anthony’s arm as he tries to take me through the front doors of Escala but is then thrown aside by my attacker from the alley, only this time his knife isn’t just a threat and I’m left to scream as a river of crimson flows over the white concrete. A shiver of terror washes over me and I reach down to feel my baby bump again. I can’t even bring myself to think of the specific threats that man made against me, made against my baby, but the fact that he made them makes me feel as though Leila wasn’t exaggerating. And then the vision of going back to Escala plays in my head again, only it’s not Anthony getting thrown aside, it’s Christian, and this time, I can hear his screams.

Tears threaten to choke me once more as I shake my head to try and dispel the horrifying image, but I force myself to hold them back. I can’t afford tears right now. I can’t make any sound. The lives of everyone I love, including my daughter, depend on it.

I grip tightly to the sweatshirt covering my bump, and then slide my hands underneath it so that I can feel my skin. She hasn’t moved since I was grabbed, and the longer I wait here, the more and more worrisome that becomes. I fell… hard. And now, she’s not moving. I need to get to a doctor… because she’s not moving.

Come on, Calliope…

I don’t know how long I sit there shaking behind that dumpster, terrified to move, terrified every second that Calliope doesn’t. My muscles are screaming with pain from being crouched down for so long and not allowing myself to shift my weight or even move my joints, but I don’t care. Every ounce of discipline I posses goes into remaining statue still behind that dumpster until I hear the roll of tires over asphalt coming up the alley. The car comes to a stop in front of the dumpster and I clamp my eyes down as tightly as possible as I say a silent prayer that it isn’t one of them.

“Ana?” Leila’s voice whispers and I heave a sigh of relief, then groan as I force myself to stand up. She comes around to grab ahold of me, continuing to look up and down the alleyway until she’s brought me to the driver’s side of the car.

“Okay,” she says. “Just get out of the city. Don’t use any credit cards, don’t make any phone calls…”

“I don’t… I don’t have anything.”

“Good, they won’t be able to track you then. Don’t get pulled over and don’t stop to contact Grey. They’ll be watching him now because they know he’ll lead them to you.”

“You’re not coming with me? I can’t do this on my own, I don’t know where to go…”

“I can’t go with you. They’re going to be looking for me too now and if I stay, I might be able to draw them away. Just find somewhere safe, somewhere they won’t think to follow you. Then and only then can you contact Grey.”

“I need to get to the hospital, Leila,” I tell her, and her eyes widen.

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“She’s not moving. I fell down… she hasn’t moved…” Tears spring to my eyes again as she looks down at my baby bump.

“Fuck,” she hisses. “God damn it, get in the car.”

She takes me over to the passenger’s side and then reluctantly climbs into the driver’s seat. I try to crouch down low so that no one can see me through the windows, but it’s difficult because the pain of the assault I endured is really starting to hit me.

“I’m going to take you into the emergency room,” Leila says, as she pulls out of the alley and onto the crowded street. “There’s cameras there, hopefully that’ll scare them off. Grey already knows you’re gone, I just heard a news bulletin about your disappearance on the radio when I pulled into the alley, so they should contact him once you go in. Don’t stop for anyone who approaches you. Speak only to the people sitting behind the desk.”

“Okay,” I agree.

“Traffic is bad,” she says. “It’ll take awhile to get there.”

I sniff, nod, and bury my head into the canvas that covers the passenger’s seat, soaking it with a fresh wave of tears that sting the road rash on my face. Leila is silent as she drives, focusing on scanning the streets and the cars around us, but when we make it onto the I-5 north, which will take us to the hospital, she looks down at me again.

“When you get out… you should leave this city,” she says.

“And go where?”

“Home, back to Cambridge. He doesn’t have the resources there that he does here, especially now that I’ve defected, and Sawyer has been a real pain in our ass trying to get to you… I can’t tell you how many times this almost happened, but then Sawyer came out of nowhere at the last minute to stop us, without even knowing. He watches you very closely, better than anyone else. That’s why this had to happen in Seattle, when he wasn’t here. When he had more people… Go home, Ana, and stay close to Sawyer’s side.”

“I can’t just leave…”

“You don’t realize what you’re up against! You don’t know what he’s willing to do, how far he’s willing to go.”

“Then tell me.”

She swallows. “Do you remember that accident in November, the car that went through your house during that snowstorm? It wasn’t an accident.”

“What?”

“I had been watching you all week, waiting for you to go back to Seattle. They’d sent someone with my phone back to Connecticut in my car so Sawyer would think that I’d left Cambridge, but I hadn’t.  I was supposed to find a way to get your bag and I had a plan to have your flight delayed so I could get it out of the cargo hold while you were on the tarmac… Hyun, was going to dress like an airline employee to get to the plane, but then the storm hit and the plane never landed. You went home and we knew you had your bag with you. It was me and two other guys and we waited for hours to see what you were going to do until… he got impatient and told Huyn to drive the car through the wall. It worked. You left the house and you left your luggage behind, so while Hyun went with you to the neighbor’s house and then to the hospital, Billy and I broke into your house and found your laptop. He used it to build some kind of connection into the GEH server so that he could use a VPN and access the system from a remote location. We planted some emails about Welch, then we cleaned the whole house so you wouldn’t find any fingerprints if you called the cops, and then we left. They’ve been using that connection to try and break GEH apart from the inside ever since. First it was Welch, then it was Ros… next it’s going to be the security team.”

“Taylor,” I repeat, remembering what Ros had said, and Leila nods.

“So, that’s why my laptop was on my desk when I got back to Cambridge… I didn’t leave it out. You’d moved it.”

“Yes,” she says, and then shifts so she can reach into her back pocket. Next she holds out her closed fist to me and when I raise my hand to hers, she opens her fingers and the pair of white gold cufflinks that went missing from my bathroom fall into my palm.

“I’m so sorry, Anastasia,” she says, her voice breaking. “I didn’t realize what he was at first. I just wanted to break you and Grey up… but it got out of control. He’s out of control, he’s crazy and… I was scared. I’m so sorry.”

I pause and stare down at the cufflinks before I finally look back up at her, trying to blink away my tears. “I forgive you,” I tell her. “You saved my life today, I owe you everything…”

“You don’t owe me anything,” she says. “I deserve whatever happens next.”

It’s quiet until we pull up to the emergency room entrance at Northwest Hospital. Leila parks, but only long enough to help me get out of the car, and after I’ve hugged her goodbye and thanked her again for what she’s done, she slides back into the driver’s seat and disappears.

It’s strange walking into the waiting room because there are TVs on in almost every corner and all of them have my name splattered across them. As I wait behind a woman holding onto a child who looks as though he’s bleeding from his head, I glance up at the TV over the small waiting room and read the subtitles scrolling in front of the news reporter.

Miss Steele is believed to have disappeared from Mr. Grey’s downtown Seattle residence sometime between 10:30 AM and 12:00 PM this afternoon. Police say there were no signs of forced entry into Mr. Grey’s apartment, but foul play is suspected at this time. Miss Steele is 22 years old, five feet, five inches tall, approximately 135 lbs, has long, dark brown hair, blue eyes, and is currently six months pregnant. A representative for Grey Enterprises Holdings has released a statement from Mr. Grey offering a $1 million dollar reward to anyone who can provide any information to Seattle police that will lead to the immediate, safe return of Miss Steele.

“Excuse me,” a woman’s voice says, and I turn to see the woman behind the desk looking expectantly at me. “Can I help you?”

“Yes,” I croak. “My name is Anastasia Steele. I’ve been attacked. Someone tried to kidnap me.”

Her eyes widen. “Anastasia Steele?”

“Yes. Please, I think… I think something may have happened to my baby.”

There’s a lot of commotion as I’m immediately whisked back into the emergency room, not only by a nurse in lilac colored scrubs, but by hospital security and two police officers that were on site. While the nurse takes my vitals, takes pictures of my wounds, has me remove all of my clothes to put in a plastic bag, and cleans the blood from my skin, the police ask me several questions to verify who I am, and when they’re finished they leave to make the call to Christian while I’m led back to a private room that has a security guard standing at the door.

While I wait for the OB consult to come down and examine me, I work very hard not to think about my fears for the examination I’m about to undergo, but it just means that my mind starts obsessing over Christian. I keep picturing him sitting in the great room of our apartment, having absolutely no idea what may have happened to me, or if I’m okay, or if the baby is okay, and having no way of contacting me. He must be going out of his mind, but the worst part is that when he gets the call from the police and they tell him they’ve found me, all of his worst fears are going to be confirmed. Well, maybe not his worst. I am still alive. That’s something.

I’m still alive.

“Miss Steele?” a voice calls, accompanying a slight knock on the door.

“Yes, come in,” I reply.

“Hello, I’m Dr. Berg, I run the ER here. Your OB Consult is going to be Dr. Robinson, she’ll be down momentarily, but I just wanted to check in with you and let you know what’s going on. Mr. Grey has been contacted and he is on his way here. Once we have confirmed you and your baby are stable, the police are going to come in and ask you some questions.”

“Okay,” I nod.

“I need to ask you, would you, for any reason, feel uncomfortable or unsafe if we were to allow Mr. Grey to come back here and be with you?”

His question takes me off guard and it almost takes me a minute to process it. “Wait, you don’t think that Christian…”

“I’m not here to make any assumptions, Miss Steele,” he says. “I’m only here to ensure your safety. If you don’t want him to see you, we can ensure that he doesn’t.”

“No, Christian didn’t hurt me. I was grabbed…” my voice falters as once again tears prick my eyes. “I was grabbed off the streets. It was a stranger, someone who wanted to hurt me… Christian would never hurt me.”

“Okay,” Dr. Berg says. “Okay, then we will allow Mr. Grey back to see you, if that’s what you wish. Until the police have cleared you, only he and your next of kin will have access to this room.”

I nod and he gets up just as another door opens and a woman in salmon, pushing the heavy ultrasound machine I’m so used to, comes inside.

“Take good care of her, Dr. Robinson,” Dr. Berg says. “Poor thing has had a rough day.”

“Of course,” she says, turning to smile at me. “Miss Steele, I’m Dr. Robinson. I’m going to take a look at your baby, okay?”

“Okay,” I reply, nodding furiously. “I fell down. I was running and I fell… I didn’t fall on her but, but she hasn’t moved since I fell.”

“Okay, then let’s take a look.”

I flinch as she lifts my shirt and squirts a blob of blue goo onto my belly, then lowers the wand onto my skin and shifts it back and forth. I wait for the most agonizing few seconds of my life before I finally hear the steady thrumming sound of her heart.

“There she is,” Dr. Robinson says. I turn to face the monitor and see her. She’s still but she looks perfect. The doctor looks around my entire belly, searching for any lesions or abruptions, but she doesn’t find anything. For all accounts, Calliope is perfectly fine.

“Oh, thank god,” I say, breaking down into tears once the doctor gives me the all clear. She smiles down at me, trying to be reassuring as she looks through my chart to continue with my examination.

“I do want to talk to you though about some of the other things I see here,” she says. “Your blood pressure is high, but I hear you’ve just been through quite the ordeal. How’s your vision?”

“Umm…” I hesitate, and then feel my muscles tighten as my regular OBs warnings run through my mind in congruence with some of the things I’ve had happen today.

“It’s fine now,” I tell her, “But… it was blurry. I can’t remember, I hit my head. I don’t know if that’s why or if it… Owe!” I reach up to touch my head where it had hit the wall, and find that it’s tender, extremely tender, and that my hair is matted with blood.

“It’s okay, Ana,” the doctor says. “Don’t overexert yourself now. We’ll have someone come take a look at all of your injuries and I’ll run some tests, just confirm that everything is going exactly the way it’s supposed to.”

“Okay,” I nod, and as she begins tapping at the tablet in her hand to order her tests, I hear another commotion just outside the door.

“Grey,” Christian’s rough voice says from on the other side of the door. “Christian Grey. This is my f-fiancé’s room.”

There’s a beat and then a very pale looking Christian steps inside. The moment he lays eyes on me, his face crinkles with pain.

“Baby,” he whispers. “Oh my god.”

I break down again as he flies across the room and takes me into his arms, but the movement makes me cry out in pain and his entire body seizes.

“What’s wrong?”

“My elbow,” I whimper.

“Has anyone looked at that?” Dr. Robinson asks. “It’s not in your chart… “ I shake my head and she frowns. “I’ll send someone in right away. Try and stay upright until we’ve made sure that head injury is superficial.”

I nod when she smiles and then moves around the bed, quietly stepping out of the room to give Christian and I privacy.

“Your face,” he whispers. “What happened to your face?”

“I fell,” I tell him. “I was trying to run and I fell.”

“The-the baby?”

“She’s fine,” I assure him. “We’re okay.”

“What happened?” he asks. “Ros called my office and said… she said you were gone. That you’d told her to come over but that you weren’t there when she arrived. The security team couldn’t find you… They found the dog and he was bloody.”

“Champ? You found Champ?”

“Taylor did. He was limping up the street toward the apartment and Gail took him to the vet. He’s been stabbed. We thought you… I thought you’d…”

My face crinkles again and tears pour out of me. “Champ saved my life,” I cry. “He was going to kill me, Christian. He was going to kill me and then Champ… He saved me.”

“Ana,” Christian whispers, pulling me into him again, more carefully this time and holding me against his chest so that I can cry into his shirt. “What happened to you?”

I can’t answer. I’m not ready to answer. The only thing I can do is shake and cry, and, until the doctor comes back, Christian lets me do just that. He holds me and rocks me back and forth while I unravel into a torrent of tears and pain.

Next Chapter

 

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99 thoughts on “Chapter 28

  1. Wow my heart is still pounding. Ana is so much smarter then that. And she did know better. Just wow. Your writing is so great it’s like I was in the story.

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    1. And hope that Taylor or the vet has enough wherewithal to swab the dog’s wounds for DNA and trace evidence. The thugs identity could provide clues to who has hired them, or at least give the police someone to look for.

      After all, the more exposed that the Conspiracy Head gets, the more likely others are to defect or give state’s evidence in order to avoid their OWN criminal charges.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Whew. Wow, that was an exciting chapter. I was in two minds abouty reading because of your warning the other day. but I checked the end of the chapter and saw her safe with Christian, so I read it. and it was terrific. How incredible for Leila to be the one to rescue her. And Champ, please, let him be okay. Now will Christian realize Ros is one of the good guys? Thank you for not letting her get kidnapped and for the baby being okay. If she’d been kidnapped, that would have been very hard to read for me.

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    1. I hope Leila survives, since she can provide evidence as to the Conspiracy Head’s identity. PLUS, with Leila ON THE RUN, that DIVIDES the Conspiracy Head’s attention. On the one hand, he still is DETERMINED to get Ana, BUT he has to find Leila before she resurfaces and tells someone working with Christian about the Conspiracy Head’s identity AND resources.

      Champ’s wounds may provide further CLUES to the identity of the thugs. And I think Ana assumed Champ could protect her from anything, but this botched attempt by the Conspiracy will hopefully convince Ana to ALWAYS go WITH SECURITY at her side, assuming that they have NOT been compromised.

      My concern is that Leila CONFIRMED that multiple things have been COMPROMISED, from CODES to police officers to GEH employees. Someone from the HOSPITAL could be compromised as well, which presents all kinds of difficulties.

      For whatever reason, the Conspiracy Head has chosen NOW for the kidnapping, and Leila felt he would NOT let this chance slip away. AND Ana’s injuries and medical health may mean she HAS to remain in the hospital to be watched. And with her hooked up to IV’s, her movement will be limited if someone gets into her hospital room.

      But ROS was the one to raise the alarm—NO ONE would have realized when Ana had left AND that she was missing otherwise. So HOPEFULLY, that (AND what Leila told Ana) will be enough for Christian to let Ros and Welch back in.

      (I’d always wondered about the car driving through the house–it was always TOO convenient for the Conspiracy.)

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  3. Oh God! Now that it’s over I can finally breathe normally. I read through the attack scene so damn fast I’m sure that I didn’t catch everything but that will have to wait until I’ve processed it all. And thank you, thank you for not making the attack worse, it easily could have been. And Champ! Oh thank God for that beautiful puppy! I was so scared when Ana had to leave him behind. All I kept picturing was Game of Thrones and how the puppies on there turn out. And really this was probably the best case scenario. Yes, Champ was the reason that she was out in the first place but logically that wouldn’t have stopped the conspiracy and this “crazy” man. It could have been a hell of a lot worse. I’m just glad that Ana, Calliope, and Champ survived!

    On a much lighter note, I love that Gia was so pissed off that Calliope is named in part after Kate! And Christian was the one to say it! Of course, she didn’t stalk off until after Kate hugged Christian and he wished something to her (thanks for saving his father?) so I’m thinking she might try to make Ana and Kate fight by claiming that Christian and Kate are having an affair. Maybe.

    It was nice of Gia to get that lovely diaper bag but all I could think of is that it had some sort of tracker in it! After all, Ana would be the main user so it would lead the conspiracy right to her. I’m just confident that Gia is in on the whole thing. It doesn’t make sense for her to try and have all these little details about the family and their schedule and also be so determined to get the security codes. AND IT NOW MAKES PERFECT SENSE SINCE LEILA SAID THAT ESCALA WASN’T SAFE AND THE KIDNAPPERS COULD GET UP THERE!¡!¡! Boom, mike drop!

    I agree with the past reviewers who think that Gia was swayed by the conspiracy thinking that they were just trying to get Ana out of the way and leave Christian AND his wealth alone. She wouldn’t be involved in anything that would jeopardize him or his business, or so she thinks. Someone has definitely fooled her! It would be amazing if she would just come out and give them all the inside information after she sees how far they went to get to Ana. But I really doubt it. I think she’ll play this innocent/in love act until she doesn’t have any cards left.

    And finally, the Welch/Ros set up was confirmed! Christian dismissed her thoughts on that the night before but now he needs to have a serious discussion with her, Welch, Ros, and Taylor. And she needs to tell him what Leila told him about the break in at Cambridge and show him the cuff links. And hopefully Welch will be able to tell when Ana’s laptop changed the permission and they’ll realize that it was when she was 3000 miles away in Seattle! Christian owes a huge apology to both Welch & Ros and Ana for doubting her!

    And thank you for not making it a horrible cliffhanger! As always, I can’t wait for the next chapter but at least it isn’t unbearable! Thanks for the great chapter and have an amazing week!

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  4. You weren’t kidding about this being intense!! Holy crap, it wasn’t Welch who gave Ana all the access to GEH its was who ever is after Christian.

    Ros called Christian… liked to see a out of this conversation.

    Champ should get steaks for a week or 6!
    Great chapter 😀

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    1. Like you, I would also like to see an Outtake on Ros’ conversation with Christian. He had NOT wanted to talk to her AT ALL, but he HAD to have taken this call. And Ros’ obvious concern for Ana made him believe her there.

      And if Christian now realizes that ROS is innocent, then Welch can’t be far behind. AND if Christian puts Welch into looking into just WHO had access to the GEH server, they may get even closer to determining the SOURCE of the COnspiracy and might even get a location! AND the Conspiracy Head would NOT be expecting this angle–because with Ros and Welch back at their posts, Christian has more time to concentrate on just WHO is behind this.

      But yeah, Christian will undoubtedly see Champ’s worth, although SECURITY should maybe walk the dog in the future!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dammit Leila, why couldn’t you just said who the conspiracy head is?!? She just keeps reiterating that it’s a man and that he is crazy and intent on hurting Christian by breaking apart his family and business… it still sounds like Mr Lincoln to me, I can’t think of anyone else who fits that description, unless it’s someone we haven’t been introduced to yet. We haven’t heard from him in a long time so we don’t really know what he has been up to but you just KNOW that he is harboring some hatred for Christian. And as much as I hate her I don’t really see why Elena would be involved. Like Torik said in the Warning Post, Elena is probably due for release before too terribly long (not long enough). You would think she would want Christian to still be wealthy! UNLESS, she was duped in the same way we think Gia was… She would definitely want Ana out of the way, especially since she was the one who got the incriminating confessional video. And the fact that the conspiracy took out the people in GEH that Christian trusts the most does sound like her playbook. So maybe this Conspiracy Head told her that the plan was to break Christian down by separating him front Ana, his family, and his trusted employees without disclosing the rest…. Hmmmmm….

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    1. I think that it’s Lincoln. I was re-reading ABSOF and read that Christian took Lincoln Timber, and he also make Andrew lose so much when he didn’t testify in the juice against Elena. Knowing Tara, I don’t think she would put someone who didn’t make an appareance or someone bussiness related. I think it is so personal. I need to know who it is because I can’t make more asumptions. If I could, I would stop reading the story and start again when the drama passed, but I’m a masochist and have to suffer a whole week in order to have that big feeling of anticipation.

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      1. It DEFINITELY is personal, no doubt about it. Other than Andrew Lincoln, the only people that hate Christian THAT much to end up insane AND willing to risk everything and all resources would be some male individual that profitted from Elena, both personally and professionally, meaning ISAAC, OR someone that literally hated Christian so much because he wanted to BE Christian and felt denied his “destiny” due to Christian taking it (and Ana) from him, meaning HYDE or Astor Harrington.

        HYDE definitely had the insane compulsion and obsession to go after Ana, knowing that would hurt Christian the most. And the MOTIVATION in the original books was that HE thought that HIS LIFE should have been Christian’s if the Greys only would have adopted him instead. So he had that PERSONAL drive to go after Christian, particularly after he failed to seduce Ana and lost his job. HERE, though, Hyde has NOT lost his job, AND we don’t yet know his past.

        But Astor Harrington, although rich, makes less sense to me due to his being at least half-way through law school. So he has EVERYTHING to still lose, if discovered. YES, Christian kept him from getting money from Elena, but Ana could have had him expelled from Harvard. So Astor should not be obsessed that Christian got to start a company instead of him. After all, it was always Astor’s stated plan to go to law school. So i don’t see him losing anything, really, UNLESS he, too, was a victim of Elena and somehow went over the edge after seeing Christian successfully dethrone Elena.

        So there are MULTIPLE possibilities still out there, although WHOEVER is behind the Conspiracy would HAVE to have a LOT of money to throw around to make this all possible. (AND SEE my comments below for why I STILL think Elena is pulling some strings from behind the scenes as well. ELENA EXCELS at making people think something was THEIR idea when it was really her manipulating that person into the position.)

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  6. Ok thank god Leila is being a good person and for this you must keep her alive and well. Christian owes her a lot right now! Poor champ I love him. He needs to be with Ana for now on. So the big huge elephant in the room is, who is behind this? My theory is that it has to be three people my first guess will be stephen Otto. One of Carla’s exes but unlikely. My second guess will be Lincoln Elena’s husband or my third guess will be Elena’s partner in the child trafficking business. Although this is a wild guess but it makes sense to me bc it stopped his profit from growing. But damn Tara you have your loyal faithful audience right at the edge of the cliff withh this chapter and your ending! You have to reveal soon who did it or I will go insane!!Damn this was great🦋🦋🦋

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    1. I think that it’s Lincoln. I was re-reading ABSOF and read that Christian took Lincoln Timber, and he also make Andrew lose so much when he didn’t testify in the juice against Elena. Knowing Tara, I don’t think she would put someone who didn’t make an appareance or someone bussiness related. I think it is so personal. I need to know who it is because I can’t make more asumptions. If I could, I would stop reading the story and start again when the drama passed, but I’m a masochist and have to suffer a whole week in order to have that big feeling of anticipation.

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  7. Scrolling to the end before reading, I just had to read knowing Ana is safe and with Christian. Thank Champ, brave dog, attacked the kidnappers. Never expected Leila to help and giving info except who He is. Throughout my heart was pounding fast, praying for Ana to escape and it is really thanks to Leila. Superb writing, Tara, feel the anxiety. Damn glad Ana and Calliope are safe, in Christian’s arms. Christian has to believe Ros and Welch and get his team back. Thank you for not letting Ana or baby get hurt. Hope Champs is not seriously injured. Thank you for an excellent chapter. Look forward. Xoxo daytona

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  8. OH MY GOD, I almost died!!!
    My heart stopped for so many moments!!!
    Please update this week again,
    I think I won’t have any nails left until next monday!!!!!
    It’s a birthday wish (my bday on st 17th!!!!!!!!!)
    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
    Love your story!!!! God bless you

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  9. I’m so thankful you didn’t leave us hanging after she got attacked. That would have been hell.
    Glad she is safe in christians arms.
    Poor champ. I hope he lives

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  10. Wow!! Wow!! Wow!! Just wow!! Thank goodness for Ros and Champ. If Ana hadn’t called Ros Christian wouldn’t have realized that Ana was missing. And Champ…well what can I say, but that dog will be living in the life of luxury for the rest of his life for saving Ana and Calliope Kate. I couldn’t believe the twist of Leila actually helping Ana, although I’ll wait to see how this all plays out to make sure she really is an allie and not a continued threat. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that Elliot will come out of his strupper and figure it out that Kate is moving on and Gia is just a money grubbing fake whose trying to get to Christian. Keeping my fingers crossed for those two! Love, love, love your story and can’t wait for each new update! Have a great week! Nikolla

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    1. We have already seen how LEILA was motivated to help the Conspiracy Head because he manipulated her into thinking that he JUST wanted to break up Christian and Ana. I’ll just BET that HE used the SAME manipulation on GIA, who ALSO wants to break up Christian and Ana.

      So I just hope Elliot DOES figure out Gia’s REAL motivation! If GIA is still a Conspiracy plant, then the Conspiracy Head will use HER to provide exact room and medical information regarding Ana. AND HOPEFULLY Ana will be SUSPICIOUS in Gia comes to visit her at the hospital, because WHY would Gia make an appearance? Ana KNOWS that she does NOT like her and would NOT want to see her at this time.

      I’m still seeing Gia as being a dupe like Leila in all of this. And if so, Ana is NOT safe until they all realize Gia’s true intentions. HOWEVER, if GIA hears about what Leila did to help Ana, she may be afraid of EXPOSURE, in case Leila said something about her. I mean, how ELSE did the conspiracy head obtain the Escala codes?

      But if Ana DOES remain in Seattle due to health reasons, then Christian needs to fly Sawyer in ASAP. LEILA is right about Sawyer knowing Ana so well. And Sawyer has clearly thwarted multiple attempts at taking Ana previously.

      As always, WHY must it be so MANY days between Monday?????

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      1. Oh duh, I completely forgot about the thug in NYC. But I guess I was thinking Like showing up when Leila found out Ana was pregnant wouldn’t really count since it was Leila herself that walked away from Ana. But Leila obviously wouldn’t have been there alone and most likely used Luke showing up as an excuse to have her partners retreat.

        And the car running into the house does seem suspicious and too well timed in hindsight but I dismissed it because it is so absolutely DUMB! The driver was seriously injured and it could have been a lot worse. Seriously, only a man would attempt that 😑

        Ana needs to tell Christian asap that it wasn’t an accident and that the Hyun guy planned the whole thing. Surely since his injuries were so serious the hospital would have some information on him. I went back to reread chapter eleven and Hyun was badly confused which Luke thought meant that he hit his head (surprise, surprise) so he might not remember much (if anything at all) about the conspiracy… BUT he did remember to stick to his story about it being too cold in his apartment and trying to leave so he’s probably just trying to cover his own ass. And Hyun was/is attending MIT to be an engineer and goodness knows that school isn’t cheap (out of state tuition is $45,016 per year! Apparently I am in the wrong business…) so the Head Conspirator could have easily bought him by promising tuition money.

        It would be nice if Hyun was so grateful for them saving his life that he turned on the conspiracy and gave Christian’s team everything he knows about the Head Conspirator. BUT that was around four months ago and he still hasn’t come forward. Maybe the Conspiracy Head had him killed to prevent Hyun being turned against him.

        There is also one part of chapter eleven where Christian says “She still got to me” referring to Elena. So if Elena does end up being behind this (even just behind the scenes) he’ll probably have the same reaction. Elena is in jail and it would be absolutely terrifying to know that she somehow orchestrated the conspiracy while behind bars.

        And I totally learned a fun fact while googling MIT (I wanted to see how far from Harvard it is, turns out that it is IN Cambridge)! Apparently, the school colors for MIT is cardinal red & steel gray… DUN DUN DUN! It’s a conspiracy! And apparently their mascot is named Tim the beaver 🤔

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      2. I just realized that I posted that reply under the wrong comment… That’s what I get for trying to post when I’m half asleep! 🤦‍♀️

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  11. You got me sitting on edge reading. Leila saved Ana, she must have felt guilty for participating in the man’s horrible scheme. And she confessed to all that had happened how the GEH server was compromised that had dragged down Welch and Ros with it. Going to the hospital being on the news and getting authorities involved would help in discovering who else is being paid by this man. Hopefully it is going to be a positive outcome for Christian and Ana. Now who is this man that wants to bring down Christian to his knees. Thank you, Tara.

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  12. On my second read through I just want to say thank God for Ros! If it hadn’t have been for her they wouldn’t have known that Ana was gone for hours! And thank goodness Ana even told Ros to come over! If the kidnapping had been successful a few hours could have made all the difference in the world. I hope Christian counts his blessings that both Ana and Calliope are okay and thanks Ros in person!

    And I bet Christian is going to buy Champ the biggest steak any dog has ever seen! Thank goodness Ethan got him for Kate, he literally is a lifesaver! Now he just needs to be okay! Maybe Christian will buy him from Kate for Ana & Calliope! I hope he’s okay, but knowing Christian he will probably pay for the best Vet money can buy!

    And like others I am surprised but happy that Leila helped Ana in the end. It hurt to think what could have happened if she didn’t help. I’m betting she will lay low since she knows the conspiracy head has eyes everywhere, even in the police force apparently!

    Now Ana just needs to remember everything that Leila told her so she can let Christian, Taylor, Welch, and Ros know. Here’s hoping that her baby brain on top of the head injury doesn’t make her forget the important details!

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      1. I was wondering if that was the date that Ana finally answered the phone. Either that, or it was the day that Ana agreed to take the internship at GEH. Because we NOW know that Christian began planning the engagement ring from that point on, intending to win Ana back at all costs. You just KNOW that Christian has BOTH those dates committed to his memory!

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  13. This is VERY personal, and the man behind all of this targets ANA as the force behind Christian’s happiness—whoever it is KNOWS that Christian could lose GEH in the long run and still be okay. If he loses ANA, however, he would NEVER be okay, particularly if his daughter died as well.

    AND OTHER IMPORTANT CLUES that may come to fruition from this chapter:

    1) Champ BIT one OR BOTH of the attackers!!! That’s DNA there, baby!! Hopefully, the vet and/or Taylor will have enough sense to bag and tag the wounded areas for DNA, and the attackers may be in the system. If they are the brute force, then they undoubtedly SHOULD be in the system from previous incidents.

    2) Leila confirmed that the Conspiracy Head is a man AND that it is personal—he KNOWS how best to destroy Christian. This is someone with a personal ax to grind against CHRISTIAN. And who ELSE would be so determined TO TAKE ANA from Christian than the man that saw Christian take his wife from him! So I still think it is ANDREW LINCOLN.

    —The signs of it being Andrew Lincoln are that his company was ALREADY going under at the time of the takeover. He had literally relocated his company ACROSS THE COUNTRY to NY in order to get away from Seattle, and then he couldn’t keep his company going and had some abusive work practices. THAT sounds like a man that has begun losing his sanity due to obsessing over Christian. Losing his own company was the final straw.

    —Andrew could be doing this as well in order to show Elena who the REAL man is, in his opinion, and to show her that he can be every bit the schemer that she is. He lost his wife to Elena, his lifestyle, and then his company. Andrew, himself, FELT PERSONALLY ATTACKED by Christian AFTER Andrew tried to help him by exposing what he overheard with Elena. ONLY to have Christian PROTECT Elena and cause him to lose FAR more of his fortune to Elena. (I’m assuming that there was a prenup between Elena and Lincoln that said she lost everything if she cheated. By having Christian deny that there was even sex, Elena still got 50% of his fortune/assets or whatever the prenup allowed.)

    —And Andrew KNOWS that Elena tried to take Christian down and failed. HE wants to show that HE can succeed where she failed.

    —Andrew is targeting ANA as the most important thing to his plan. HE KNOWS that Christian only broke away from Elena due to Ana, but then Elena and Christian seemingly appeared together, in that Elena helped Christian start GEH with ANDREW’S MONEY. Then Christian got back together with Ana and seemingly disposed of Elena again. So ANDREW wants to dispose of ANA. Makes sense, given Andrew’s broken state after losing wife, fortune AND COMPANY to the SAME person, Christian Grey, that he has known since he was a boy.

    3) Leila CONFIRMED how the Conspiracy used Ana’s laptop to get access to the server. AND that Ros and Welch were framed.

    4) ALSO IMPORTANT: ROS WAS THE ONE TO REACH OUT TO CHRISTIAN to let him know that Ana was missing. It might have been HOURS before ANYONE realized that anything was wrong otherwise. SO CHRISTIAN HAS EVERY REASON to reconcile with Ros now.

    5) Leila CONFIRMED that the Conspiracy HAS ACCESS to the CODES for Escala. Just HOW else would that have that IF NOT for Gia? I still say she has been led astray in promises to get Ana out of the way, leaving the path open and free for Gia to get Christian. Gia has tried to make herself look like the PERFECT spouse for Christian, from diet to exercise to attempting to get to know Barney and other key people at GEH. She WANTS Ros’ position or the like, at least UNTIL she is married, when she would concentrate on “charity work,” as she herself has said. She is the ultimate social climber, and Ana is the only thing in her way, at least in her mind. Gia sees HERSELF as being the one to comfort a distraught Christian and seduce him when his is vulnerable and without Ana.

    6) I hope that Taylor thinks to scan the baby presents for any possible trackers, and maybe even within teh apartment, as Gia could have left things in order for teh Conspiracy to track Ana. Only time will tell, BUT LEILA HINTED THAT MR. CONSPIRACY HEAD HAS ACCESS TO MULTIPLE INDIVIDUALS that have been paid off, etc., even police officers.

    7) BUT MR. CONSPIRACY’S CONTACTS HAVE BEEN BOUGHT AND PAID FOR IN SEATTLE, not Cambridge. INTERESTING. For WHATEVER reasons, Mr. Conspiracy Head does NOT have the resources in Cambridge that he has in Seattle. SO WHOEVER IS THE HEAD of the Conspiracy, his CONTACTS are basically from Seattle, which is where Lincoln Timber is now based under GEH.

    I still think Elena is somehow involved. I don’t know how, but my instincts still scream that she has somehow manipulated all this AND provided her GEH contacts and former clients, who WOULD be based in Seattle, to do all of this. Maybe she has blackmail/bribery videos/info. that has somehow “miraculously” fallen into Andrew’s hands. I CAN SEE Elena somehow getting a PERVERSE pleasure in manipulating ANDREW into going after Christian AFTER she had done the reverse previously.

    Elena wouldn’t care HOW she destroyed Christina or Andrew, she would just want it done in order to prefect her revenge against BOTH. So she could have “leaked” certain things to Andrew through her contacts in order to IMPLICATE Andrew, once he has taken down Christian. ANYTHING is possible and up for grabs at this point.

    But amazing chapter!!! I’m SO GLAD that Ana and the baby are alright, at least FOR NOW. Ana’s stress levels may push things into bad territory.

    And WHAT HAPPENS NOW???? Leila recommended that Ana go back to Cambridge and stay near Luke. At this point, I can’t see Christian wanting Ana out of his site, but she IS vulnerable. And she CAN’T just remain a virtual prisoner in Escala. BUT she may need to stay in the hospital, forcing het COnspiracy to look elsewhere. HHHMMMMMMMM.

    SO MUCH to cover in the next chapter. HOPEFULLY, Christian brings Welch and Ros back in IMMEDIATELY. And HOPEFULLY, they can altogether figure out a way to trap up those in GEH that are helping the COnspiracy and get them to expose themselves.

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    1. Oh I hope Taylor does have Champ’s mouth checked for DNA, that could definitely be the break that they need! And I agree about Gia supplying the codes to the conspiracy; there is no other reason for her to obsess over them so much. When Leila mentioned that they had access to Escala that was just a tiny portion of all that happened but it leads into so much. It pretty much spells out that Gia is supplying the conspiracy with important information, including the elevator codes and everyone’s schedule. And she doesn’t have a clue what Ana’s schedule is in Cambridge. And I agree that no matter what Leila said about Ana being safest in Cambridge with Luke there is no way that Christian will let her out of his sight. He probably feels really guilty that they got into a fight about Ros the night before anyway. There has got to be a way to let Ana finish the remaining portion of the semester online so that she can still graduate. With all that has happened I wouldn’t think that Ana wants to be away from Christian anyway… And maybe now that Ana knows for sure AND can prove via timeline that Welch & Ros are innocent that will take a load of work off Christian’s shoulders. Now Christian, Taylor, Ros, and Welch need to work together to find out what in the hell is going on. And for goodness sake, keep Elliot out of the loop… whatever Elliot knows Gia will find out.

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      1. And THAT is a really big problem if Gia truly is a member of the Conspiracy in some form or other. Because NO ONE, not even Ana, suspects Gia of being that dirty and devious. Ana THINKS Gia wants Christian, but she does not think (yet) that Gia would compromise her safety. And Elliot clearly has no worries, as he always gives Gia the codes. And NO ONE has even THOUGHT to keep Elliot out of the loop so far.

        So if Gia is a member/recruit of the Conspiracy, then Seattle is the WORST place for Ana to be. Since no one is looking at her, she can continue to show up at Grey events or to the apartment, and provide exact information on EVERYONE’s whereabouts, security plans, etc. Almost NOTHING would be kept from her.

        And completely locking Elliot out of everything won’t be a solution if Gia IS with the Conspiracy. The Conspiracy would then just target Elliot and have an easy time of it in securing him.

        But Champ most likely can’t defend much of anything at this point. The only plus in all of this is that Ana FINALLY should understand that she can’t go ANYWHERE without a security DETAIL (meaning more than one).

        But the longer this goes on, the more likely someone could turn state’s evidence against the Conspiracy. After Leila’s defection, the Conspiracy Head will most likely decide to pour everything into getting Ana NOW. And Ana IS still vulnerable at the hospital, due to being hooked up to machines, assuming they keep her in the hospital for monitoring. It would be easy enough for someone to pose as a nurse and inject Ana’s IV with something to knock her out. And no one would question Ana being taken for “tests” by hospital personnel. And it could be HOURS before anyone even realizes she is gone, if they aren’t letting people in her room while Christian is at work.

        But the Conspiracy Head will now throw everything and all resources into the IMMEDIATE effectuation of the plan. No reason not to, as the more time that goes by, the closer Christian’s people could get to discovering individual members. Because you KNOW that police will immediatley seek out Hyun, IF he survived (which I’m betting he didn’t. If he did, then he has already resumed his place with the Conspiracy and won’t be able to be found.).

        And I wonder how seriously the police/detectives will act on information provided by Leila. After all, she still refused to disclose the Head Guy’s name. The police could argue that she gave false leads, etc. Hopefully, though, they will be motivated to ACT on the information.

        But OTHER thing to fear–Leila said that police officers have likely been bought off by the Conspiracy Head. And THOSE very officers may be the ones assigned to question Ana. It could be the Conspiracy’s bribed OFFICERS that show up and tell Ana that they need to move her to a secure location pronto. And Ana would most likely believe them.

        But I’m for Luke being assigned to Ana WHEREVER she is—he saved her in NY because of his quick thinking AND his knowledge of how Ana behaves. So he should be by her side no matter what. HOPEFULLY, Christian is finally okay with this, especially given what Leila said.

        But Ana NEEDS to see behind her trauma and REPORT all the information that she has, SOONER rather than later. And Christian NEEDS to hear everything and NOT walk away from Ana or second guess the information. But ANYONE of the Grey family could be grabbed even coming or going from the hospital, since you KNOW the Conspiracy will now watch the hospital.

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      2. Yeah, Gia is definitely the wolf in sheep’s clothing. I’m just waiting for the ball to drop on her. You’re definitely right when you said earlier that she is probably scared that Leila ratted her out but she’ll want to know what information Ana knows. So she’ll probably snoop around or even get Elliot to. I almost feel bad for Elliot since he is getting manipulated like crazy but I just can’t. He’s going to feel so bad when it’s revealed that Gia has been involved in the conspiracy this whole time, especially knowing that he was the one who gave her the full access to the family. It’s definitely going to hit i hard.

        And you made a really good point that I am super worried about. If Ana ends up needing to stay at the hospital because of health/pregnancy complications then it will be a security nightmare! It’s got to be impossible to secure a hospital the way they would need to. All it takes is one doctor/nurse/orderly to be bought and the whole thing would be compromised. And it’s not like Christian can just buy the necessary equipment so that Ana can stay on bed rest at home, she needs to be super close to the hospital just in case anything should happen that requires they get the baby out immediately. Preeclampsia is a scary thing…

        And the more I read this chapter the more I get nervous about what Leila said… that the Head of the Conspiracy has eyes everywhere and even the police aren’t safe. God only knows how deep this goes. Hopefully Ana isn’t left alone at all and especially with the police. She does need Luke in the room with her and another two trusted guards at her door. PLUS there needs to be limited access to her floor and perhaps even another two guards at the floor entrance who checks IDs and such. It seems overzealous but better safe than sorry. I just hope that hitting her head didn’t effect her memory and she is able to tell Christian, Taylor, and the police the important details. And hopefully she still has the cufflinks that Leila returned to her, if she forgets initially maybe when she sees the cufflinks again it will trigger her memory!

        In one of your previous comments you said that Christian was probably thinking the worst had happened to Ana when they found a bloody Champ and I completely agree. When he asked her what happened and she broke down probably tore him up inside. Unfortunately he probably thinks the worst and that she was violated so I hope she reassures him soon. No one needs those thoughts in their head.

        You’re right, at least the police are involved now. While I think Welch & Taylor could probably find more information out in a not-exactly-legal way having an official police investigation will still hold some weight. I hope that they did check Champ’s mouth for some DNA… that could potentially be a turning point. It’s more than likely that the thugs records so that would be a really good start. I hope Champ is okay! I hate when animals are hurt, I had to read really fast through that part. (Especially since it’s the time of year for the Yulin festival in China and I have to stay off social media because it’s too heartbreaking. And if you haven’t heard of the Yulin Festival I am warning you…. Do… NOT… google… it… just trust me, you’ll never get those images out of your head.)

        I always say that if I was to ever win the lottery I would buy like 20,000 Acres and adopt all the stray/shelter animals I could find! My husband says that I love my cats and my dog more than him (maybe)! At least they listen better…

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    2. Definitely agree it’s Andrew Lincoln. Could be he and Elena are in it together somehow, but I’m sure he is the “he” Leila keeps referring to.

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      1. I agree. I don’t see how it could possibly be Hyde (at least not as the Head. I’m sure he would be a MORE than WILLING recruit!) at this point, as he does NOT have the money and resources to pull this off. You need someone that had a substantial amount of wealth and influence. And even though Andrew Lincoln may have lost a bulk of his previous empire, he would still have the CONTACTS and whatever he got from the sale of the company.

        We haven’t been introduced to other wealthy individuals in the stories OTHER than Astor Harrington. And if it had been him, then he would tend to have MORE resources in Cambridge than in Seattle, NOT the other way around.

        Leila has pretty much confirmed that we are dealing with a former Seattle native, or someone with substantial contacts (most likely business contacts) in Seattle. AND access to strong, thuglike individuals should happen for people used to handling heavy timber or operating substantial machinery that would be used in the timber business. Andrew previously travelled a lot for work, so he has built up a good-sized contact network, one would think. And without his business to operate, he now has the TIME and MOTIVATION to go after Christian.

        And it is someone that PERSONALLY knew Christian and knows how he thinks and operates. AND has been burned by him, both personally and professionally. That really only leaves the Lincolns, and since Leila says it is a “HE” that is behind it all, then it stands to reason that the “HE” would be Andrew Lincoln.

        And Andrew’s divorce action may have led him to have knowledge of some of Elena’s contacts, which he may now have access to. Since Elena is sidelined for the time being, said contacts may even have “sought out” Andrew, maybe even on Elena’s urging.

        So there are so many reasons to assume that one or both Lincoln’s are in on this.

        HOWEVER, there is the remote possibility that some other GEH employee could be motivated to go after Christian. But how on earth that anyone else would have the resources would be beyond me. Someone else would almost HAVE to be using Lincoln resources. Again, that leaves ISAAC as somehow involved, since he would KNOW all of Elena’s clientele, both for the salons and her “bar.”

        And ISAAC could have blackmailed important individuals from Elena’s former clients who had everything to lose with exposure. And we KNOW from what Mia said that Elena had some VERY important and VERY RICH CLIENTS within her clientele. AND that Elena had “relaxed” the rules designed to protect the women from exploitation in order to service these important and rich clients. So we may NOT have seen the last of that guy that wanted to sexually assault Mia at Elena’s bar.

        IF Elena has any hand in this, then I hope that one of the women that Christian insisted on helping will come forward to say that she was approached by the Conspiracy. That could be the break that is needed to learn who is behind everything.

        But resources are stretched thin now. Christian REALLY needs Ros back on board to handle GEH and free up more of his time. And WELCH should be critical as well. After all, SOMEONE is seemingly a tech wiz AND is presumably at GEH. I always loved Barney from the books, and he seemed so loyal to Christian there, that I don’t want to see him involved in this. But we really can’t fully discount ANYONE at this point, as Christian has now made a lot of enemies. But this seems so PERSONAL and DIRECTED AT ANA as well, that I can’t help but think of Andrew Lincoln as being the most likely suspect still.

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  14. OMGGG!!! Poor Champ! 😢
    Can’t wait for the next chapter!
    Thank you so much, Im so happy that Ana and little Calliope are fine, and Christian is with them! ❤
    This chapter was intense!

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  15. ok so I’m not the only freak that read the end first 🙂 I had so much anxiety after the warning we got regarding this chapter I was seriously afraid. Can I say I HATE GIA. Something is completely off about her. I really hope that she doesn’t do something to Kate or perhaps even Carter getting caught in this mess. That would be the ultimate revenge for her if she cant get to Ana. Elliot Ana Christian and all the grey’s would suffer. I have to say every time you have had Christian and Kate scenes I scream MORE. I love these two together and would like to see more of their ‘friendship’ develop. it is the ultimate compliment that Christian picked Katherine as the baby’s middle name. Cant wait until the next update. x

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    1. And THAT is the problem—Christian and his security team need to work FAST, because Kate and Carter WILL return from Cabo shortly. Right now, they are beyond the reach of the Conspiracy (assuming that they actually made the plane flight and are safely there now). But Kate and Carter WILL be returning to Seattle, and if the Conspiracy Head can’t get Ana one way, then going after her best friends would be the next expected target.

      Now, as Leila mentions, Christian will be on HIGH ALERT and make sure that carelessness of this epic proportion doesn’t happen again. And so will Ana. She just never thought that taking out Champ alone could produce this. After all, she never expected the dog to run off. I’m just glad the dog apparently heard Ana’s screams and came back!

      And Gia is absolutely obsessed with Kate. WHY, I don’t know, unless she is aware that Elliot really doesn’t care for her. But then again, I think Gia’s target was ALWAYS Christian—she just wanted to use Elliot in order to meet Christian. But Gia’s desire to have those codes at all cost, especially now when Christian clearly WON’T meet with her anymore, just begs the question of WHY she could possibly want to know them AND the schedules of the Grey family. And OBVIOUSLY at this point, her temper tantrums have begun to wear on ALL of the Greys, ELLIOT included.

      My gut instinct is that Gia had contacts wtih Elena previously. Maybe I’m wrong, but I see Elena maybe being behind Gia getting the job in the first place prior to Grey Construction being parced out from GEH. While Elliot was with Kate, there was no way for Gia to make her move, but immediately after the break-up with Kate, Gia just “happened” to ride the elevator at the same time as Elliot and started up the relationship? Yeah, right.

      But if Gia managed to hook up with the Conspiracry Head, then Elena would have butted her in that direction. So I DO still see Elena as having thrown her contacts into the way of the Conspiracy Head, whoever he may be (still think it is Andrew Lincoln–but I see Hyde being one of his players as well, as he was already disgruntled and blamed Ana).

      CAN’T WAIT for the reveal as to who all is involved in the Conspiracy. And how the whole web weaves together, through various contacts and portions of GEH and elsewhere.

      But I also hope that the Conspiracy doesn’t do something desperate like take Luke out in Cambridge. I see that as a horrible form of revenge for Ana not coming quietly and according to plan.

      Like you, I LOVE how Kate so SEEMLESSLY fits in with the Grey family, even now. She will NOT lose them, no matter what her relationship with Elliot is. Christian already KNOWS what Kate did for Carrick, and I see Grace as probably knowing as well, due to her being a doctor at the hospital. I, too, want to see more Christian and Kate scenes, especially once the baby is born, ASSUMING nothing happens to either the baby or Kate. (I foolishly refuse to worry for Christian’s ultimate safety, as this story is called A STRONGER Shade of Fifty. Hard to be stronger if you are struck down by the Conspiracy, so I will continue to hold strong to the belief that Christian comes through this just fine, and for him to do that, then Ana and Calliope have to as well!!!)

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      1. I just don’t get how Gia can honestly believe that Christian would be involved with one of his brother’s exes… Maybe she thinks that because Elliot doesn’t do serious relationships that Christian wouldn’t think badly of it. It’s still weird AF

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  16. Holy cow! That was intense and scary! I’m so glad Leila and Champ were there to help save Ana. I’m sure if Ros hadn’t contacted Christian to tell him Ana was gone he would have never known. Now we know from Leila that she’s been trying to protect Ana and confirmed the framing of Welch and Ros. To think his security team was next. So glad Ana and the baby are ok!

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  17. Wait, so this chapter also kind of confirmed that Carter ISN’T part of the conspiracy right? Leila said that the “crazy man” didn’t have as many resources in Cambridge that he does in Seattle… But if Carter pretty much has full access to both Ana and Kate and should know their schedules at this point. He could easily arrange for something to happen to the security and let the kidnappers have full access to the girls. So that makes me think that he is a genuine guy who really likes Kate! Thank goodness, we do NOT need a male Gia 🙅🏼

    And I wonder what Leila meant when she said that Luke inadvertently stopped the kidnappers several times…. Hmmm, lots to think on.

    Honestly, I never thought that I would look forward to Mondays so much! Let the countdown to the next chapter begin!

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    1. Remember, LUKE stopped Ana being grabbed by the thug in NY when he ASSUMED that Ana would do the VERY thing that she did do in going to the cafe to meet Kate and Ainsley, without her own security. Luke was SUPPOSED to have drived the car back, but he CHOSE to go back to the hotel after hearing from Taylor about Ana’s plans.

      Luke also showed up at Ana’s class building when Leila first learned she was pregnant. LUKE was also at the PARTY that Leila accosted Ana at–after all, WHY else would Leila just “happen” to be at the same party?

      Luke DOES know Ana very well and has truly been a good friend to her. I think he really DOES love Ana in his own way, but he is NOT the type to want a one man, one woman relationship, maybe due to his military backstory. He really IS content to just be her “best friend,” but I think he truly sees Ana as FAMILY at this point and would lay down his life for her and her unborn child. Luke really DOES want Ana’s happiness, and he knows that the life she wants is with Christian. Luke has helped Christian even when he was fired, all for ANA’S sake. So Luke is the person, outside of Christian and Kate, that loves Ana the most and knows her best.

      Like you, I also assumed that Carter could NOT be part of the Conspiracy based on this chapter. For one, had he been a part of the Conspiracy, he would have introduced Champ to the men hired to kidnap Ana. And since the resources are NOT in Cambridge, that would also tend to rule out Astor Harrington as well. I never really did see Astor as being behind the Conspiracy since he didn’t have ANYTHING to gain and EVERYTHING TO LOSE in being behind it. As does Carter.

      So we have GAINED some intel and nuggets of knowledge from this chapter in order to most likely RULE OUT a few possible people as the Conspiracy Head. BUT we have MORE QUESTIONS and HINTS as to the Conspiracy Head’s TIES TO SEATTLE in this chapter. Gives MUCH to think of between now and next Monday!

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      1. Oh duh, I completely forgot about the thug in NYC. But I guess I was thinking Like showing up when Leila found out Ana was pregnant wouldn’t really count since it was Leila herself that walked away from Ana. But Leila obviously wouldn’t have been there alone and most likely used Luke showing up as an excuse to have her partners retreat.

        And the car running into the house does seem suspicious and too well timed in hindsight but I dismissed it because it is so absolutely DUMB! The driver was seriously injured and it could have been a lot worse. Seriously, only a man would attempt that 😑

        Ana needs to tell Christian asap that it wasn’t an accident and that the Hyun guy planned the whole thing. Surely since his injuries were so serious the hospital would have some information on him. I went back to reread chapter eleven and Hyun was badly confused which Luke thought meant that he hit his head (surprise, surprise) so he might not remember much (if anything at all) about the conspiracy… BUT he did remember to stick to his story about it being too cold in his apartment and trying to leave so he’s probably just trying to cover his own ass. And Hyun was/is attending MIT to be an engineer and goodness knows that school isn’t cheap (out of state tuition is $45,016 per year! Apparently I am in the wrong business…) so the Head Conspirator could have easily bought him by promising tuition money.

        It would be nice if Hyun was so grateful for them saving his life that he turned on the conspiracy and gave Christian’s team everything he knows about the Head Conspirator. BUT that was around four months ago and he still hasn’t come forward. Maybe the Conspiracy Head had him killed to prevent Hyun being turned against him.

        There is also one part of chapter eleven where Christian says “She still got to me” referring to Elena. So if Elena does end up being behind this (even just behind the scenes) he’ll probably have the same reaction. Elena is in jail and it would be absolutely terrifying to know that she somehow orchestrated the conspiracy while behind bars.

        And I totally learned a fun fact while googling MIT (I wanted to see how far from Harvard it is, turns out that it is IN Cambridge)! Apparently, the school colors for MIT is cardinal red & steel gray… DUN DUN DUN! It’s a conspiracy! And apparently their mascot is named Tim the beaver 🤔

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  18. Oh por Dios, como sufri con este capitulo.
    Crei que le harian algo mucho peor a Ana y que la torturarian.
    Gracias a Dios que Leila la ayudo a escapar.
    Champ es un gran perro, salvo a Ana y Calliope esta bien tambien.
    Ahora me cierran mas algunas cosas pero me sigo preguntando quien es la peronä tan peligrosa que quiere destruirlos.

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  19. “The biggest hurdle is figuring out who your friends are. Your real friends.”
    — Eleanor Mondale
    “If a normally kind, agreeable person makes an enemy of you, you ought to ask yourself why.”
    ― Joyce Rachelle
    “Remember the friends who stuck with you when they thought you had nothing.”
    ― Joyce Rachelle
    A dog is not a thing. A thing is replaceable. A dog is not. A thing is disposable. A dog is not. A thing doesn’t have a heart. A dog’s heart is bigger than any “thing” you can ever own.”
    ― Elizabeth Parker

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  20. omg, this was so amazing, I had to read it twice, in fact I was afraid to read it when I got to the part where she was in trouble in the alley….who is behind this…? you are an amazing writer, never stop……wow…..

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  21. So, I was wondering what could you come up with to grow the intensity of this story and then you post the warning and now the chapter. For an entire week I kept thinking what the plot is going to be and then WOW, you surprise me all over again. The intensity, everything is so well written, I don’t even have words. Everytime you post a chapter you prove your amazing writing skills. Maybe after you are done with this story you should try and create something of your own because such great talent shouldn’t be wasted. This is by far the best chapter in this story so far. It was like I was there with Ana trying to get away from them. Good job 😉

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    1. Very well said! I totally agree. Tara you’re so talented.

      When you can place your readers in the scenes with your characters simply amazing. I was crying with Ana and for their baby girl in that alley

      I know two other writers who can do that and I truly enjoy reading all of their stories as well. Thank You.

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  22. Whew!! I Had a lot of trepidation about reading this chapter after your warning, so I initially just glossed through to the end and when I read that Ana and the baby were safe, I then read the story. Wow! This is some conspiracy out to destroy Christian! It blows my mind that someone wants to cause so much destruction to Christian. For those men willingly ready to kill an innocent woman and her unborn child sends chills down my spine. Thank Goodness that Leila had a moment of clarity and realized that she couldn’t let Ana be hurt. And the ultimate hero is Champ! He saved his mistress from truly suffering bodily harm, hope he’s okay!

    But now that the truth is out, that GEH has been compromised and Ros and Welch were victims of this sinister plot to destroy Christian, who could possibly be behind it? This sounds way out of Jack Hyde’s reach, I don’t think he would have the resources to pull this off, but I’m at a loss of who it could be? Although I may have a theory, I’ll just wait and see as I was clearly wrong before about Welch and Ros.

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  23. OMG WHAT A GREAT CHAPTER! YOUR WRITING IS FABULOUS! I ALMOST FELT LIKE I WAS THERE WITH ANA. DAMN, I THOUGHT THAT GUY WOULD KILL HER OR THE BABY FOR SURE. I CAN’T BELIEVE LEILA HELPED HER. THAT WAS SOME SHOCK! AS MUCH AS I HATE HER, IT WAS TOUGH TO BELIEVE SHE SAVED HER. I AM SO GLAD THE BABY WAS OK. I HOPE ANA WILL BE OK TOO. THAT GUY WON’T GIVE UP TRYING TO GET TO HER. LEILA HELPED THEM TRY TO DESTROY GEH. UNBELIEVABLE. JUST TO BREAK GREY AND ANA UP. I CAN’T WAIT TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NOW. WILL THEY KILL LEILA NOW FOR HELPING ANA? THAT GUY KNEW SHE TASERED HIM. THAT WILL GET HER PUNISHED BIG TIME. THANK YOU FOR THE GREAT UPDATE!

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  24. At this point, I see Ana’s health being a real issue here. She DID have blurry vision in the alleyway, and if it was not from a head concussion, then the onset of eclampsia may make the next few weeks tenuous at best. And Ana is mere WEEKS away from graduation, and she should NOT have to lose that.

    I also wonder how Christian will react to all of this. MY HOPE is that he no longer questions Ros’ loyalty. HAD ROS BEEN A PART of the Conspiracy, then ALL she had to do was remain quiet after finding Ana absent from Escala. Her raising the ALARM may have meant the difference between Ana’s life and death, as police WOULD have been sent to Escala and the surrounding streets, which MAY have been the reason that the Conspiracy Thugs didn’t continue to stay hovering around the immediate area.

    But in reading in between the lines, Christian had JUST quarrelled with Ana over the ROS issue and had not made up with her prior to her kidnapping. I can only IMAGINE how that wore on Christian while waiting to hear news on Ana. WITH CHAMP BEING FOUND alone and covered in blood, with obvious STAB wounds, I am sure that Christian was left to imagine the WORST.

    But given what has just happened to Ana, I would think that Christian would be inclined to LISTEN to her now, especially about Ros and Welch. ESPECIALLY now that Ros’ being on the scene meant that the alarm was raised QUICKLY about Ana’s being gone, something that could have gone unnoticed for HOURS otherwise. Ros’ quick thinking and attempts to help Ana will NOT go unrewarded by Christian, who will REALLY re-think his previous misgivings.

    And while my sympathy is with Ana, who has just had a rather bad trauma and shock, she NEEDS to tell Christian AND the police as much information as she can SOONER rather than later. Every minute counts, and with the Conspiracy Head supposedly having a way to watch Escala at all times, people NEED to put two and two together about what that almost certainly means.

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  25. And have to add–it took real COURAGE for Leila to go to those kind of lengths to help Ana. Make no mistake, without Leila’s help, the Conspiracy Head WOULD have been successful in kidnapping Ana. Leila came prepared with the tazer, and there is now no doubt that she has turned against the Conspiracy Head. And given the little we DO know about the Conspiracy Head, he WON’T tolerate this kind of disloyal behavior from Leila. So he WILL expend the resources in order to hunt Leila down. So she HAS successfully divided the Conspiracy’s resources, since capturing and killing Leila should be a top priority, before she can further compromise the Conspiracy’s plans!

    And Leila’s parting words that Ana does NOT owe her anything AND that she deserves what she gets show that she is taking responsibility for her own actions that led to this. And she has gone off on her own, hopefully DIVIDING the resources of the Conspiracy, and giving Christian enough time to further track down his adversaries. Leila could have come into the hospital WITH Ana and maybe saved herself, as I’m sure Christian would have expended resources to keep Leila safe, given the amount of information that she could provide that would help him.

    Now, Leila is most certainly marked for death. ONLY if Christian finds her first OR if she successfully remains hidden will she manage to stay alive. But IF the Conspiracy is able to take down Leila, it will surely be a hideous and drawn-out tortuous death, given that the Conspiracy Head is INSANE and most likely targeted Christian because HE thinks Christian betrayed him. Leila’s supporting CHRISTIAN’s side, in the end, will mean that she will be targeted to die brutally.

    So I admittedly don’t want Leila to die now. She could testify down the road, and she would most certainly be given a decent plea deal, if not outright immunity, for revealing everyone that she knows about. BUT the Conspiracy Head was CLEARLY still smart enough NOT to reveal everything and every contact to her. So while the Head Honcho is still insane, he is crazy like a fox, as the saying goes.

    But Leila DID risk everything in the end to do the right thing. That really DOES count for something.

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  26. Lastly, Ana’s would-be kidnapping made the NEWS, and I wonder how far that will go? RAY could be alerted, since foul play was involved. And KATE could even have had an Alert on her phone for all things Ana and Christian-related, and SHE would have received the info as well. She would undoubtedly want to fly back to Seattle, which gives still more people potentially in harm’s way.

    And the other members of the Grey family must be worried sick as well. Christian will hopefully put MORE security on all of them now, since the Conspiracy Head may decide to target someone ELSE other than Ana.

    WOW. SO MUCH to consider. Obviously, the Conspiracy is at RISK now, with Leila’s whereabouts unknown, and so MUCH more likely to ACT again quickly, before Christian can put enough protections in place to counter him.

    But I would think that Taylor would take this lapse in security SERIOUSLY and personally, as would Luke.

    And IF Gia IS a Conspiracy Plant/minion, then she WILL be worried about what Ana learned from Leila. And Ana’s WOUNDS should be a clue NOW about JUST how far the Conspiracy intends to go. Gia should REALIZE that the Conspiracy Head does NOT want loose ends or people that could identify him, so if Gia is involved, she has to decide whether or not to come clean in order to save her OWN life. But EVEN Gia would realize that coming clean would cost her ANY attempts at getting a Grey man, so she may be willing to hold her silence and bide her time. Or do even MORE to help the Conspiracy silence Ana.

    But Gia may be a simple opportunist rather than actual Conspiracy member, but I doubt it, at this point. Third possibility is that Elena taunted Andrew Lincoln from behind bars in some manner, maybe having certain “evidence” fall into his lap, and may be controlling OR even blackmailing Gia on her own. So Gia would be aware of the Conspiracy but working things from ELENA’s side. There are just SO MANY possibilities of how Gia could be key to all of this. GIA still has the elevator codes, undoubtedly, and she might head to Escala to try to get information from Christian’s office, KNOWING that security is likely not focused on there AT ALL with Ana and Christian being at the hospital.

    So I’m REALLY ANXIOUS for the next chapter in order to see WHO DOES WHAT on EACH SIDE. There is an endless number of possibilities and outcomes from this point forward. (And that is all assuming that Ana and Calliope really ARE fine. Medical complications puts EVERYTHING off kilter for either side.)

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  27. Whew! That was an intense chapter — and I was interrupted by work just as Leila showed up and had to wait an hour before I could get back to it!
    I just hope that Ana can pull herself together and tell Christian everything BEFORE the police come, in case they are the dirty cops working for the Conspiracy. I was afraid when she got to the hospital somehow a nurse or doctor who was part of the Conspiracy would be first to treat her, before Christian could get there. And I hope she tells Christian everything BEFORE she is anesthesized for surgery on her elbow, or before her head injury turns into amnesia. Hopefully she still has the cufflinks, which will be proof she did see Leila.
    Now I’ve got to go back and read the chapter instead of the forenoon skim.
    Great writing, Tara!!

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  28. Okay, REALLY final thoughts:

    Can you imagine being Christian at GEH when he got that call from Ros? He is having a meeting at GEH about SECURITY, of all things, and has the two security agents there, while Ana was seriously left seemingly unprotected at Escala. AND NOBODY EVEN KNEW WHEN SHE LEFT! That is a DEFINITE security lapse! Ana didn’t even have her PHONE on her. She was just going down random alleyways after the dog, the absolute HEIGHT of stupidity!!!

    But Christian getting that panicked call from Ros. . . . Her fear for Ana’s safety should hopefully allay any further concerns of Christian. He will hopefully call and talk to Ros as soon as he has Ana’s full medical results and seen that she is comfortable and safe. And yeah, that is an Outtake I want to read—Ros’ call and Christian’s reaction to it—what he did next, what he felt, etc. Especially when they finally found Champ.

    I’m also wondering what the other Grey family members’ reactions will be, because you know that Christian would have called them to see if Ana could be with one of them. GRACE will be beside herself. They have said that only the “next of kin” will be able to see Ana, but she considers the Greys to be her FAMILY. So wonder what that will mean for hospital visits. PARTICULARLY Elliot and Gia. I would LIKE to think that Gia’s reaction is such that Elliot just drops her then and there, but I doubt Gia is that stupid. I guess we will just have to wait and see.

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    1. Yeah, I was wondering how the next of kin would work too. Since they don’t really know who to trust at this point I don’t think Gia would be allowed to be anywhere near Ana, at least while she’s in the hospital. BUT she always seems to know whatever information Elliot gets so she will probably know what floor & room Ana is in. Hopefully they will allow the rest of the Grey family to visit her though.

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      1. Ana is so NICE that she would probably state it was okay for Gia to come in with Elliot. But Gia has an “excuse” to be at the hospital when she would actually come around in order to learn what Grey family members are on the “list” to see Ana.

        With intel on when Grey family members are at the hospital, the Conspiracy could just kidnap one of THEM instead. And while everyone is scrambling, and Christian is away acting on THAT, the Conspiracy could then get Ana.

        The possibilities are ENDLESS, given that Leila states that the Conspiracy Head has “eyes on” everyone at all times. That means one of the new security officers could be compromised, etc. But my bet is still on Gia, since she has made a POINT of knowing schedules and codes. And since she is CLEARLY not liked by the rest of the Grey clan at this point, then WHY would she need to know these things? It doesn’t help Elliot in any way, so I still see Gia as being tasked with information-gathering and remaining around the Greys whenever possible.

        If Gia is not involved, then I don’t see how the Conspiracy Head could possibly have so much information. HOWEVER, ELENA did have MANY of the same social contacts as Grace, so Elena might be able to blackmail information from Grace’s many friends, all of whom were at Ana’s BABY SHOWER. Still, those individuals were people that Ana had never met, so that seems too far-fetched.

        Sigh. This chapter has teased and hinted at ALL KINDS of possibilities. While we THINK we know who it is, the exact extent and range of the Conspiracy is largely unknown. Leila has indicated VAST resources. And I can’t see a reason to doubt her at this time. But SOMEONE close to the Greys that has schedule-monitoring capabilities just HAS to be involved, so I can’t help but point a finger at Gia.

        While Christian will be reluctant to point a finger at Elliot’s girlfriend, thus causing further family tension at a time when the Greys NEED to be united, I am hoping that he DOES decide to keep Elliot out of the direct loop of codes and other pertinent information. Because Elliot will NEVER suspect Gia until the proof is in his face. So Christian AND Ana NEED to be forward-thinking.

        (They ought to provide Elliot with some “false intel” that would then get leaked to Gia. If they set a trap that implicates Gia, she would likely turn over names and individuals in the Conspiracy in order to keep HERSELF out of jail, or at least secure the best plea deal that she could get, given the circumstances. OTHERWISE, she would get charged with accessory before or after the fact, and could face a steep prison sentence, if the Conspiracy is successful in further harm.)

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  29. Thank you for an amazing chapter. Lelia really surprised me. However, after reading the chapter. Lelia warned Ana that she was in danger and her every move was being watched. Still happy that she was willing to put her feelings for Christian aside and aide in saving Ana and their baby. Now I’m really hoping that Lelia will be ok as well.

    Ok so I think it’s safe to say that Carter has nothing to do with the conspiracy. As much as I would like Kate and Elliott together, I’m not convinced that Cartet will be good for Kate. (rebound relationship) I think he’s helping Kate get through the hurt of moving on from Elliott.

    Please Christian you need your support team and most loyal employees Roz and Welch. You need your power players.

    Once it was written that Taylor has taken Champ to the Vet I realized he has to be thinking on the lines of DNA. Please bring Luke nack to Seattle with his license to carry. He’s needed. Andrew Lincoln’s is out to kill or destroy Christian bt any means necessary. Not sure if Elena has something to do with it. However, Gia has such an obsession with Christian she might have been bought like Lelia.

    Thank You until the next chaptet.

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  30. I have to admit that before reading this chapter, I saw the reviews, when I read that Ana was with Christian, then I read the chapter, sorry I’m a coward, can’t stand too much angst. I have my suspicions that either Barney is not good at what he does or he’s part of the conspiracy. Because how someone as good as he’s supposed to be not know how and from where the letters planted in Ros and Welch’s e-mail inbox came from, if he didn’t plant them himself. If I were Taylor, as head of security I would start using audio jammers and scramblers, so no one can hear or record anything that’s been said or done, and change the entry codes frequently. I’m glad that Leila helped Ana, I only hope that she has some evidence hidden in case that something happens to her, because right now she’s in big trouble after she tased one of the men attacking Ana. I think that yes, Andrew Lincoln is the head honcho, but he’s not alone in the whole conspiracy, I think that Hyde’s in it too, plus Elena from jail. I can’t wait for Welch and Ros to come back, they should meet away from GEH and Escala, maybe at Cambridge? because of what Leila said about having eyes everywhere but not in Cambridge.
    I don’t think that Gia is part of the conspiracy, she’s too absorbed in catching a rich man, i.e. Christian, or as a consolation prize Elliot, to be involved, but who knows a ‘rat can come out of anywhere’. On another note I want to say that I would like the name Calliope if it were not written with a C, as it is, it means a type of organ that is played in the merry-go-rounds in the traveling fairs, the name of the Muse of Poetry is written Kalliope. I wouldn’t like the bullies in school calling her a merry-go-round, meaning another thing, just a thought. Thank you for your stories, you’re a wonderful writer. By the way only for you I opened an account to write a review, I don’t know how this works so you’ll have to excuse me if I make mistakes.

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  31. Fantastic chapter. I was on the edge of my seat hoping champ and Leila would come through and they did thank goodness.
    Now it’s pow wow time tell Christian and Taylor everything. How Sawyer is doing fabulous in Cambridge and getting Welch and Ros back on board all be it behind the scenes until they have their plan together and be able to take “him” down. Can’t wait. Thank you.

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  32. Making a correction, left a word out, it should say “plus maybe Elena from jail”, because I’m not sure about her involvement in the conspiracy.

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    1. Like you, I’m really wondering about Elena. However, Ana was the one to ultimately bring Elena down as a result of the conversation she had with Elena at the bar. You just KNOW that Elena is doing nothing but sitting in prison dwelling on how ANA brought her empire down.

      So I see Elena using her OWN contacts to maybe connect and give information to Andrew or whoever the Conspiracy Head is. So Elena isn’t actually the orchestrator of the Conspiracy, she just provided assets in a way that doesn’t necessarily connect back to her.

      After all, Elena gets out of prison soon. She is not going to be willing to jeopardize her release UNLESS she can be ASSURED of not being connected to the Conspiracy.

      So I can see Elena actually PROVIDING information to Christian, once she realizes that the Conspiracy isn’t going to succeed, in order to get out even earlier OR in order to try to get back in his good graces because he THINKS that she has “reformed” and is genuinely sorry for her previous actions.

      And that would ultimately put the biggest snake in the grass back out in the world, free, and ready to wreck havoc. PLUS, she would have gotten rid of some of her competitors and placed herself in a position to get back her power.

      THAT is why I see Elena as having done SOMETHING behind the scenes to goad Andrew Lincoln and drive him further insane then he already was. She would KNOW that Andrew would be thirsty for revenge and would then go after Christian and Ana. And THAT would be her ultimate revenge as well, because if Andrew succeeded, then she would have gotten revenge against C and A. BUT if Andrew failed, she would still have had revenge against Andrew. So WIN/WIN for Elena and something I could see her doing.

      AGAIN, the above seems far-fetched. At the same time though, it is in keeping with Elena’s character, as presented in Tara’s version.

      SAME goes for Gia. Quite frankly, there are 3 POSSIBILITIES that I see for Gia:

      1) Gia is just an immature social climber that deliberately took a job at Grey Construction as an Interior Designer in order to throw herself in the way of Elliot OR Christian Grey. Period, the end.

      2) ELENA wanted a guaranteed contact in the then GEH Construction Company to monitor Elliot and report to her, so she recommended Gia for the job back when she was still in good with Christian. Gia then OWED her, and Elena just asked for her to provide information, PARTICULARLY Escala codes, that Elena wanted in order for Elena to be able to keep tabs on Christian, one way or another.

      SO while Gia was placed by Elena, Elena then fell out of favor. Elena might even be secretly blackmailing Gia for information by threatening to EXPOSE Gia’s former connection to Elena. And Gia does NOT want to risk being thrown over by a Grey man, so she provides intel to Elena, without knowing WHAT the intel will be used for.

      3) Gia was RECRUITED by the COnspiracy, same as Leila, and placed in the way of Elliot RIGHT after the break-up, knowing she was his “type,” in the hopes that he would be seduced by her. THEN, the COnspiracy has EYES AND EARS on the WHOLE Grey clan.

      And WHOEVER the Conspiracy Head is, HE would WANT to have EYES AND EARS on the whole Grey family AND want the codes. Which Gia is primed to receive. So if Gia is NOT a Conspiracy recruit, then I see her as a likely TARGET of the Conspiracy, PARTICULARLY as she has the tendency to wander off when she has a temper tantrum.

      But if Gia is NOT a recruit, then she better watch herself, as I would think she would DEFINITELY become a likely target!

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  33. That was a great update. Now she needs to tell Christian everything so he can bring everyone back and take down “he” that Leila keeps referring to.

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  34. Luke is going to be so upset. The last thing he said to Ana when she left was ,” Listen to Kommer and Cardella and don’t do anything stupid.”
    Elena is a very smart manipulator. I have always felt that Gia was an opportunist, just out for herself. I think, Elena may have set her up in GHE for some future use. She convinced Gia that when Ana was out of the picture, she would be the perfect match for Christian.
    Elena manipulated Christian to destroy her ex husbands company. She is doing the same thing by manipulating Andrew in doing her dirty work. I think, she has all the money. She was making a lot of money in the club and probably has off shore accounts. It will only be over with Elena when she is dead.

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    1. Just now read your comments, and I think that is EXACTLY what Elena is up to. After all, she always wanted revenge on ANDREW, and if he fails, then she STILL wins, having destroyed Andrew AND his final resources.

      Elena would have WANTED someone to keep an eye on Elliot once he returned to Seattle and was CLEARLY helping Ana reunite Christian with his family. So Elena recommended Gia to Christian, but did it in Elena’s usual way of not SEEMING to recommend Gia, but placing her work in such a light that Christian hired her. Then Gia made sure to throw herself in Elliot’s way, at a particular time when Elliot was MOST vulnerable.

      And I DEFINITELY see Gia as someone that Elena could manipulate. She certainly can see Gia’s motives, and helping Gia would ultimately potentially help Elena, especially since Elena could threaten to destroy Gia by revealing a connection to her.

      So Gia may have been backed into a corner. Her way out was to get the ring on her finger so that she has the resources to protect herself as well as the status that she has always wanted.

      And as always, Elena has put people in positions to do her dirty work FOR HER, without it directly connecting to her. And AGAIN, ALL OF ELENA’S CONTACTS would be in Seattle. For a time, Andrew Lincoln had his business based in NY, so he SHOULD have SOME contacts in Cambridge, but Leila indicated that the Conspiracy Head does NOT.

      Again, ANY way you look at it, the Conspiracy ties are potentially endless and could point in multiple directions. And the VERY people that would seem OBVIOUS, may NOT be involved at all.

      So I’m eagerly awaiting the REVEAL of who all was involved AND whether or not Christian actually identifies everyone in the end.

      CHRISTIAN is now seemingly in a vulnerable way—the Conspiracy EXPLOITED the VERY way that Elena manipulated Christian previously regarding TRUST he placed in individuals. And sadly, Christian is now seemingly AFRAID to trust and rather easily believes that his trust was misplaced. Only ANA has been able to get him to talk to her, and Ana was almost unsuccessful with Ros until the Conspiracy intervened. So will be interesting to SEE THE EFFECT this has on CHRISTIAN.

      WHY must Monday be SO FAR AWAY???? And given that it is still ONLY Chapter 29, there are still shockers to come, as Tara has a habit of ramping up the CRISIS after you think it has been abated in the 30-something chapters. So whatever we think it is NOW, there is still some UNKNOWN out there that may make a play when the Conspiracy is on the rocks. THAT is why I ultimately suspect Elena’s distant hands in this. I guess we have to just wait and see. Real agony here, I tell ya!!!!

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      1. Yeah, it just can’t be a coincidence that they used the very weaknesses that Elena harped on about for so long. I think you are right about Elena laying low and letters other do her dirty work for her unless she could use the intel to her advantage. I would hope that since Tara mentioned before that this stronger Christian wouldn’t be so easily played that he wouldn’t help Elena get early release or even funds for information on the conspiracy head. BUT we all know that Christian would do anything to keep Ana (& Calliope) safe. But maybe he’ll let her think that she’s won and pull the rug out from under her! That would be AMAZING!

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  35. That was a great chapter! I was more than a little worried when Ana was opening her gifts. I thought, “Oh my God, I’m afraid that she’s going to lose the baby and never use these things!”. I knew all those dreams were foreshadowing for what was upcoming. I was shocked that Leila turned the tables and helped Ana! What a plot twist that was! I still say Carter and Gia have ill intentions. They’re both worming their way into the Grey family, keeping their enemies closer, so to speak. I’m really at a loss as to who the Conspiritor is. Hyde? Lincoln? Ahhhhh! This week is going to drag! I’m so glad Ana wasn’t hurt worse, but I truly hope Champ makes it. 🙁

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  36. I had to take a day to recover. WOW. Like, W-O-W! I was crazily worried all over the weekend about this chapter.
    Thank you for letting us know Ana and baby Callie are ok before next week.
    Hopefully, if Gia is with conspiracy – as we think she is – she’s in it not knowing they want to REALLY hurt Ana – not just break them up. I hope she’s now going to realize what his intentions are – and quit.
    I wish everyday was Monday 😭

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    1. Gia would know by now what Leila now knows, that the Conspiracy Head is crazy insane and will stop at nothing for revenge. Gia will NOT want to go on the run like Leila did, and even Leila didn’t trust that Grey could protect her in Seattle. So IF Gia is part of the Conspiracy, she is not going to just be able to quit. She would be committed now to the Conspiracy cause in the hopes of not getting caught.

      I still think Gia’s going all pale in the Christmas reveal of Ana’s engagement ring was because she KNEW how upset certain people would be by the news. However, the possibility is still out there that she only looked like that because her OWN designs were seemingly thwarted for the time being.

      Either way you look at it, Ana is still in the way of Gia’s most coveted desires, in my opinion, so she will NOT be motivated to help Ana in any way. And ANA being the decent person that she is would NEVER think to include Gia as a possible Conspiracy member, so she is in even MORE danger now, in my opinion, if Gia IS a Conspiracy recruit or Elena contact.

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  37. Wow! That was really intense. I’d love to read Christian’s reaction sometime and see how Ross got his attention. So glad Ana and the baby are safe and I’m even glad that Leila was the one to help her. Her life is definitely in danger now and I hope she stays safe too and continues to redeem herself and turn her life around. Serval people had good points. The first, the car that went through the house in Cambridge. It had occurred for a few moments that it could of been on purpose but was quickly dismissed when thinking about the injuries Hun had sustained. I hope he has remorse over his roll after the effort Sawyer, Ana, Kate and even Christian went to in making sure he survived. Hopefully, he’ll be another defector that will now help team Grey! At the very least they should track him down and get him to tell what he knows. I agree with the idea someone brought up earlier that Gia’s diaper bag could be bugged and should be tracked. I too think she could be part of the conspiracy but also hope that like Leila she had only hopes of breaking Christian and Ana up and not seeing Ana and Callie seriously hurt or killed. Great chapter! The suspense for the next chapter is already putting me on pins and needles. Oh! And I hope Champ makes a full recovery. Great Chapter!!!!!

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  38. I’m at the point where I think Gia doesn’t give a shit about Ana & Calliope. I am in the agreement that she probably got involved in the conspiracy to break Ana & Christian up but now I think she doesn’t care if Ana & the baby survives. The fact that she was so stunned when Ana & Christian announced they were engaged just shows that she truly, honestly thought she could easily break them up without too much effort in her part. After all, it only took one elevator ride and a month of dating before she had Elliot eating out of the palm of her hand. But now she is probably getting desperate. Christian didn’t fall to her feet and worship her like she was expecting and now he can’t even stand her. Elliot still clearly loves Kate, even if he doesn’t deserve her in the slightest. And the Grey family has made it very clear how much they love and adore both Ana & Kate and don’t care for her at all. So she may have just wanted to break Christian & Ana up but she realizes that she won’t be able to do that now. Her plans are falling apart in front of her eyes. She knows that as long as Ana is even a possibility Christian won’t give her a second look. But she honestly thinks that if Ana & Calliope are gone then Christian will just succumb to her. 🤦‍♀️

    She thinks highly of herself but I believe she still wouldn’t want any competition around, hence why she can’t stand Kate. And Ana & Calliope would get support from Christian; support that Gia could use for her shopping er, I mean charity! Plus, Gia sees how the Grey Family still dotes on Kate and she knows if would be even more so with Ana & Calliope since she has probably heard all about how Ana saved Christian and facilitated peace in the family. So she wouldn’t want them in the way if she can help it. I’m hoping that isn’t the case and she doesn’t really want to hurt/kill Ana & Calliope but she is incredibly vengeful and will do whatever is needed to get her goal. She and Elena have that very much in common.

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    1. Exactly, and whether or not she is involved in the Conspiracy, Gia has EVERY reason, in her own mind, to sit back and do nothing if presented with a chance to stop the Conspiracy.

      And Gia HAS to be getting desperate at this point. Despite the great sex, Elliot NOW has a reason to be jealous, since Kate is in a serious relationship with Carter. AND Elliot seems to be getting tired of always having to pacify and re-assure Gia whenever she sets herself up to come into conflict with Ana, Kate or the rest of the Grey family.

      So Gia is no closer to the ring on her finger AND has been burning her own bridges. So Gia now has EVERY reason to see Ana’s death as being her only REAL option to getting what she wants.

      LEILA had no possible chance at getting Christian, and she was going to be implicated in murders happening RIGHT in front of her. So her actual common decency and humanity WERE triggered. And she then helped Ana.

      GIA is NOT in the same position as Leila. Gia seemingly HAS a possibility of at least securing Elliot, BUT that seems to be fading fast, since KATE is NOT going anywhere and will be in front of Elliot multiple times in the future. AND if Elliot’s seeing Kate regularly makes him JEALOUS of Carter AND then motivated to get Kate back, then Gia is DONE.

      So Gia’s desperation will possibly lead her to do some REALLY shady things in the upcoming chapters. IF she is not involved in the Conspiracy, I see her doing NOTHING if she accidentally comes in on them taking Ana or Kate. LEILA was at least motivated by what she THOUGHT was “love.” GIA is only motivated by self-interest, which is DIRECTLY harmed if Ana and Kate survive.

      Thus, I don’t assume that Gia has the same motivations or humanity left in her that Leila did. Only time will tell, but I somehow see Gia as being an AID to the Conspiracy, one way or another.

      Like

      1. Yeah, Gia knows that Elliot still loves Kate and having Carter around will only make him realize it more so I’m wondering if she will play the whole fake-pregnancy act soon. Elliot is literally slipping through her fingers and having Kate in a new relationship right in front of him will only make him realize that he made a horrible mistake. She knows that the Greys hate her but sees how they dote on Ana so I’m betting she sees a Grey baby as a golden ticket. She probably thinks that Christian only proposed to Ana because of the baby (she obviously isn’t aware that he had been planning it for awhile) and thinks Elliot will do the same. And it would kill two birds with one stone since it would devastate Kate as well.

        Kate just needs to let it slip that SHE helped Christian design the engagement ring BEFORE he and Ana were even officially back together… That would shut her up real quick!

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  39. Do you remember what was Elena’s sentence? How many years? Is she in a state or federal penitentiary?Because I re-read chapter 38 of ABSOF, when Ana goes to Elena’s club and she recorded the conversation that eventually sent Elena to jail. The judge found her guilty, but I don’t remember reading what was the sentence, how many years in prison. She had some charges that I think were federal, like IRS. In that chapter she admits manipulating Andrew and Christian, I really would like Andrew to watch that video, if he hasn’t. I think that once Welch is back he or Taylor with their connections should “monitor” Elena’s visitors and her phone calls if possible. Also re-read chapter 39, the last day of Ana’s internship at SIP, and I don’t know why Brian the other intern from USC made me feel strange, perhaps is nothing. Then Hyde’s conversation with Ana about a good word to Christian about him. Maybe it’s nothing, it was very late when I read it.

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    1. Yeah, I don’t remember reading how long the actual sentence was. I would think that since there were federal charges it would be decently long and in a federal penitentiary BUT she probably cut a deal to save her own ass and got a shorter sentence in a low-medium security prison. I’m guessing she couldn’t be further on their minds at this point but if they find any link to the Conspiracy from her OR Mr Lincoln then I hope they pull all the records of her visitors, phone conversations, and mail. Elena isn’t stupid so I’m sure she found a way to contact members of the Conspiracy without anyone finding out (perhaps through Isaac?).

      I think Hyde is definitely involved in the conspiracy in some way but I don’t think he is the Head of the whole thing. He’s definetly crazy but I don’t think he could put together this whole operation. Plus, he probably doesn’t have enough funds. The conspiracy probably recruited him like they did with Leila since he is upset about now getting Ana’s old job at SIP. They probably promised him wealth and that new position if he helped them take down Christian. And he wouldn’t care who got hurt.

      I forgot about Brian though. He was such a douche during their internship but he seemed to be better at the end. BUT he may still be harboring ill will towards Ana for “showing him up” and maybe even Christian and Ros for putting her in the position above him. And would know a bit of GEH/SIP. He seems like the kind of person who finds out everything he can about the new company/job so he may know some insider info. Good find!

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      1. Elena was technically sentenced to fifteen years, BUT she will be out in FIVE YEARS for good behavior (meaning, she can’t do anything wrong or be caught behind the Conspiracy). She took a plea bargain. The details are in ASSOF chapter 1.

        Interns are usually just around for a summer and don’t necessarily get hired by the company that they intern for. Since the internship involved students, those students all went back to school presumably. So Brian shouldn’t still be with GEH unless his internship was for longer than the summer. BUT you never know, and he may have made contacts with Hyde and others that would make him an easy recruit, since they could have promised him a job. Like I said previously, I think there are mole possibilities in multiple departments of GEH, based on what Christian indicated in chapter 1 of ASSOF when he stated that multiple departments were involved (see below paragraph).

        But I DEFINITELY suggest re-reading ASSOF chapter 1. Christian doesn’t go into much detail, but the audit brought up “several red flags” that his executive team was dealing with. We know that Elena was able to influence Christian’s firing people in the past, but we don’t know anything about anyone she may have gotten him to hire. Elena ALWAYS prided herself in making Christian think it was “his choice,” such as the takeover of Lincoln Timber, and she would manipulate him through making sure certain information would make it to Christian.

        But whatever those “red flags” were means, at least to me, that there were other moles within GEH that knew EXACTLY what Elena was doing with the money laundering. Elena would have wanted moles in GEH, in the same way that she managed to keep contacts loyal to her in Lincoln Timber. (And that was probably something Andrew Lincoln never saw coming. Makes you wonder how Elena would still have contacts loyal to HER in his business two years after the divorce. HHmmmm.)

        WHOEVER the Conspiracy Head is, HE knew just how to stir up a pot of troubles quick, as Christian was already experiencing trouble by Elena’s sentencing hearing.

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      2. Lol, yeah I think I am definitely going to re-read chapter one at the very least. Maybe if I re-read a few chapters it will help pass the time between now and Monday faster! I just can’t believe this is only the fourth day that this chapter has been released. It seems like forever!

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  40. Okay, I totally just realized that the news alert about Ana’s attempted kidnapping stated that she was “six months pregnant”…. The media KNOWS she is preggo now so that will unleash a whole new issue. Even if Ana is not put on bed rest and is able/willing to go back to school or if she decides to stay in Seattle the papz are going to hound her even more! It will be a security nightmare. And that could be the opportunity for the conspiracy to try and grab her again while security is distracted. BUT I doubt Ana will be out and about so soon after the attack, that is if she isn’t put on bed rest. She probably won’t go anywhere without Christian, Taylor, or Luke for awhile and I don’t blame her one bit!

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    1. SO MUCH depends on the doctor’s recommendations for Ana. IF Ana is released from the hospital, I am SURE that a doctor will need to monitor her regularly, maybe even weekly, as a result of this. AND regular appointments WILL attract attention, and the Conspiracy will be able to anticipate Ana’s route to and from the doctor’s office and have a chance to nab her THERE.

      Ana’s STRESS LEVELS are NOT going to go down. If anything, she will be looking over her shoulder every step of the way. PLUS, the media will be all over this, given that Ana was attacked AND given Leila’s intel. The media will want PICTURES of Ana’s injuries.

      And a scary thing is that the POLICE and MEDIA may even try to point the finger at Christian, claiming he might want to get “rid” of Ana before she has the baby and would be entitled to a great deal of child support, etc. Ana had been painted as a gold digger by the media in the past. . . .

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    2. So I went ahead and re-read chapter 1 & 2 of ASSOF to refresh it in my memory and goodness knows I needed it! For some reason I was thinking that Elena’s sentencing was at the end of ABSOF instead. BUT what worries me now is what Christian said in chapter one, “We’re done with her. She’s out of our lives. I don’t want to talk about her, or think about her anymore. I want to move on.” He has pushed Elena so far from his thoughts that he doesn’t realize this new conspiracy has her written all over it. And I’m really surprised that Ana hasn’t connected the dots yet but to be fair she is going through a lot… Hopefully Ros & Welch will be cleared soon. Welch can help Taylor figure out who is involved in the conspiracy now that it is pretty much out in the open . I doubt it will be that simple of course but a girl can dream!

      AND there’s another gem in regards to Christian talking about Elliot getting used to his new workload “He needs to find someone he trusts to help him. I’d have never been able to take this weekend with you if Ros hadn’t taken over the audit.” I hope Christian and Ros take the time to have a serious talk and he apologizes. Even though he showed that he was hurt by her decision it must have really devastated him.

      The more I read the earlier chapters the more I dislike Elliot. He was too busy with work to take Kate to Cambridge at the start of the semester and visited her like once. And Kate saw how doting Christian is and how much effort he puts into seeing Ana and it had to be a slap in the face to her. So while I don’t necessarily like Carter I don’t want Kate to get burned again. If he is loving, treats her like she deserves, and makes their relationship a priority then I am all for it as long as it lasts. I know Kate loves Elliot but he just doesn’t deserve her in my opinion. And he’ll realize his mistake soon enough.

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      1. I feel the EXACT same way about Elliot. There were problems developing in his and Kate’s relationship even BEFORE the issue of marriage and children came up. He did NOT make the time for her. Elliot really took Kate for granted, even though they had just bought a house together. Kate was just supposed to be around to meet HIS needs—he never even tried to meet hers or change his mindset for her.

        And due to his friendship with Ana, Carter FITS into their lives. ALL of their lives–he is majoring in business and is certainly eager to learn from Christian, and he is trying to interact with Ana still as a friend and is even trying to win over Luke. Carter WANTS to fit in to their social circle, knowing how important that is to Kate. Carter also has a sense of humor, which was something that Elliot always tried to do with any situtation. Only time will tell if Carter is right for Kate, but she DESERVES someone that will put her first.

        It also remains to be seen what Carter will do after graduation. If he still plans to go to law school, then a long distance relationship may be on the table, depending on where he goes to school.

        Christian could probably offer Carter a job in Seattle in order to give him time to decide what he wants to do with his life. And I see Christian actually being willing to do this, given his newfound respect for Kate. Kate really IS family, to both him AND Ana. And Christian REALLY seems to understand what FAMILY really means now, unlike Elliot, who pulled back from everyone after the break-up and is willing to let Gia ruffle his families’ feathers.

        I think Elliot’s wake-up call can only come AFTER the full Conspiracy reveal, PARTICULARLY if Gia turns out to be the type of person that I think she is. Elliot HAS to recognize what his TRUE PRIORITIES should be.

        I’m really anxious to see what the Conspiracy brings out in EVERYONE, from Gia to Carter to the Grey family. Carrick is still undergoing chemotherapy, and I’m surprised the Conspiracy has NOT chosen this vulnerable time to make a go at him. But the focus seems to be ENTIRELY on ANA in breaking Christian, so I guess we will have to see how adaptable the Conspiracy proves, given the latest.

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      2. I don’t think that’s really fair to say of Elliot. I mean, towards the end of their relationship, you’re right, he wasn’t 100% focused on his relationship with Kate, but he did stay in Cambridge after he graduated from MIT, 3000 miles away from his family, and worked a job that he absolutely hated just so he could be with Kate. He’s made sacrifices for her in their relationship, this (the marriage and kids) is just the thing he wasn’t willing to compromise on.

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  41. Ana has about a month more or less left to finish college, isn’t Ray supposed to be back around that time, I have to go back an re-read but he said something about getting back before her graduation. He’s going to be so mad when he gets to know about the attempted kidnapping. He could be a great CPO for her with Luke and the others, the people involved in the conspiracy don’t know him, and he’s in better shape than the other CPO’s as he was in active duty, and may have some connections too that they can trust, because right now they don’t know who to trust. Where’s Sherlock or Poirot when you need them.

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  42. Like everyone else, I find that I keep re-reading this chapter, looking for further clues. It ALL comes down to Leila’s statements: per Leila, EVERYTHING is seen in Seattle. THINK about what that HAS to mean. ELENA knew exact DATES when GEH footage would show that she had brought girls to Christian at his office. So Elena already KNEW the value of Christian’s security footage AND how to exploit it to her advantage.

    BEFORE Elena was even sentenced, the trouble at GEH began AS A DIRECT RESULT of the audit regarding Elena’s funds. And if ROS AND LUKE could smell a rat when first looking at Elena’s numbers, then OTHERS should have known as well. OTHERS that could have been bribed through “services” offered by Elena to keep quiet. MORE PEOPLE than Leila had to know about Elena’s REAL business.

    Once Elena got exposed, you KNOW all those within GEH that had used her services would have gotten nervous. And SOMEONE would have had to exploit those concerns. Elena would have made sure to have SOMEONE within each department that she could count on within GEH. And somehow, after years away from Lincoln Timber, she STILL managed to have contacts there that helped in the takeover of Andrew’s company.

    There HAD to be a reason that the Conspiracy targeted WELCH first. I think it was to get their OWN tech guy in charge. After all, Christian swears that the TECH TEAM has VERIFIED what was found on the server. But HOW could they do that when we now know it came from Ana’s compromised laptop? Christian informed them that Ana had access she wasn’t supposed to have, yet the tech team never thinks to question it when verifying things in regards to the SERVER? Really? That would DEFINITELY be something that Welch would have caught. And WELCH would most likely be able to say WHO should have caught the “error.”

    And if the TECH TEAM within GEH has been compromised, then THAT helps explain security cameras at Escala that may be linked between GEH and the security team there. SOMEHOW someone has gotten around Taylor to get access into Escala. ELENA could have done this previously—IN THE OUTTAKE to ABSOF, Christian does NOT follow Elena out of Escala after he orders her to leave with the girl. SO ELENA HAD THE CODES at that time to get into Escala AND was allowed around the apartment unattended. SO ELENA may have placed devices WAY back then in case she was ever denied access to Escala.

    So AGAIN, access to servers and Escala comes back to ELENA. Who we KNOW always thought ahead in case of exposure.

    So my remaining question is HOW Elena would be pulling strings to set things in motion from behind her prison cell. That leaves ISAAC who would have had all the footage and blackmail intel to get others to do what he demands. And NO ONE would think to look at a submissive like Isaac. And Elena COULD have authorized Isaac to access certain of her FUNDS while she was in prison in order to set the Revenge Plan in motion OR Isaac could have even figured out how to access it on his own.

    So Elena might not even NEED Andrew Lincoln. But it assumes that Isaac would know how to FIND and USE all of the contacts. Being around Elena Lincoln all the time may have taught Isaac EVERYTHING he ever needed to know in order to pull ALL of this off HIMSELF. And ELENA WOULD KNOW HOW TO MANIPULATE HIM similar to how she did Christian. ISAAC could be DEPENDENT psychologically on Elena, and she would point out that CHRISTIAN AND ANA were keeping them apart.

    IF Andrew Lincoln IS involved (and hey, he STILL has as much motivation IF NOT MORE than Elena does to go after Christian AND to have gone insane in the process), then ISAAC may have been instructed by his mistress to provide the intel to him, KNOWING Andrew would use it to go after Christian. Andrew Lincoln ALONE would have NEVER had all the necessary CONTACTS AND ACCESS that was required. He would HAVE to have utilized Elena’s resources.

    So ANY way you look at this, it almost HAS to come back, ultimately, to Elena. But if ISAAC has been running around orchestrating everything, then it would NOT directly link back to HER, only to HIM. And if Elena’s control of ISAAC was anything like her control of Christian, THEN I COULD SEE ISAAC going “insane” without her AND being determined to have revenge.

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  43. To sum everything up, the Conspiracy Head is thinking AND acting exactly like Elena Lincoln would do. AND using her knowledge of how Christian operates to bring him down. And it is someone that KNOWS how much Ana actually means to Christian AND that the way to break him completely is to take Ana away from him.

    So this is someone that KNOWS how Christian REALLY was over those 2 years that he was APART from Ana. AND that someone has gone INSANE over wanting REVENGE on Christian and to break him. AND that person is a “HE” per Leila.

    The only people with that intimate knowledge of Christian and how Elena affected him are 1) Andrew Lincoln and 2) Isaac, Elena’s submissive, who literally saw what Elena did and heard her conversation with Ana WHERE THEY BOTH CONFIRMED WHAT IT WOULD DO TO CHRISTIAN to lose Ana.

    ISAAC got to hear how Elena thought and operated AND had access to the bar and saw EVERYONE that would have come through Elena’s “bar.” He is the ONLY one with access to ALL the elements needed, even cash, if he had observed Elena accessing her accounts.

    And being “submissive” to Elena, he probably developed an intense attachment to her and saw her as his whole entire world, which she apparently was, given that he was with her PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY. Isaac was the one with Elena in the sex store that day, and ISAAC was probably with Elena at the bar that Luke and Ana were at. So ISAAC was the one that probably leaked the PHOTOS and intel to the paparazzi.

    The TIMING of all of this makes you look to Andrew Lincoln, who would have seemingly had access to funds. But IF he had the contacts that the Conspiracy Head seems to have, then you would think that he would have been better able to protect his company. BUT Andrew Lincoln had already SLIPPED in how he was operating his OWN company at the time of the takeover, and his workers were unhappy. THAT would not seem to provide the LOYALTY to make this all happen.

    So I see ISAAC as either the person behind this OR the person that provided the necessary intel to Andrew Lincoln to make this happen. ELENA would not have wanted to risk another Christian situation—she would have used Traumatic Bonding to bind a weak-minded Isaac to her and BROKEN him to the point that he would think he could NOT do without her. So her imprisonment WOULD be the very thing to drive him insane.

    So the TIMELINE, ACCESS, and MOTIVATION fits for BOTH Isaac AND Andrew Lincoln. The EXACT timing of the “troubles” to GEH began right AFTER Elena was incarcerated. THAT tends to make me look towards Isaac rather than Andrew.

    BUT the TIMING also makes Andrew a likely suspect as well, due to the sale of Lincoln Timber having JUST happened. And Andrew would have seen that ELLIOT GREY ultimately got HIS COMPANY, since GEH construction needed Lincoln Timber in the first place in order to BUILD GREY HOUSE. Which would give Andrew MOTIVATION to place someone like GIA in Elliot’s way in order to hopefully get some revenge on ELLIOT as well, who ultimately benefitted from the resources of Lincoln Timber.

    Oh Tara, Tara, Tara. You have successfully created MULTIPLE individuals with the PSYCHOLOGICAL drive and need to go after Christian. AND created our obsession to ferret out the clues and determine WHO it could be, KNOWING that multiple people fit the profile. WHY ELSE let us know about the sale of Lincoln Timber unless you always intended for it to play a pivotal role in the revenge plot? YET you also created those suspicious little moments in ABSOF where Ana and Luke were NEVER able to figure out HOW Ana was being followed AND how pics were being leaked to the paparazzi. MOMENTS WHERE ELENA was seemingly present (like that club and the sex store), yet NO TIES could be found to her. SO EITHER SOMEONE WAS ALSO TRAILING ELENA, or it was someone WITH Elena.

    It is FOREVER until next MONDAY. PLEASE OH PLEASE, wondrous Muse of writing, PLEASE give some hint or clue. I’m literally DYING here of anticipation. I’M going obsessively crazy, like the Conspiracy Head, trying to figure it all out!!!!

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  44. In the final analysis, this story is called “A Stronger Shade of Fifty.” I can’t help but wonder if the title was chosen BECAUSE we were meant to compare the Conspiracy Head to Christian in order to see what Elena’s “influence” and abuse have done to each man.

    Elena’s mantra was ALWAYS to break Christian FULLY by taking Ana away from him. It was WHY she took the action she did at the end of ADSOF and why she told Ana she would HAVE to separate from Christian to accept her “deal” in ABSOF. And ISAAC heard all of that “plan” and the reasons behind it by being at the bar at the time of Ana’s visit to Elena in ABSOF.

    So CONTRAST Christian to ISAAC, Elena’s submissive at the time of her downfall. Elena would NOT have made the mistakes she made with Christian—as her Outtake in ADSOF revealed, Elena recognized that she HAD to keep her submissive close at all times and that the mistake she made was allowing Christian to be free of her across the country at Harvard.

    So ISAAC would have been made to be bound to her at ALL times and allowed no real identity of his own. So his ONLY PURPOSE in life was to serve his Mistress. HIs eyes and ears were solely to hear and do Elena’s bidding. So he KNOWS how Elena operates. I see Elena’s imprisonment as literally driving Isaac insane and not concerned with his own self-preservation or reestablishing ELena’s business elsewhere. His ONLY goal now is to see his Mistress avenged.

    And Isaac learned everything from Elena. SO NO WONDER the plot looks like something STRAIGHT out of Elena’s Playbook. ISAAC would be in a position to utilize ALL of her known contacts and clients. And Elena would have had “enforcers” presumably at the bar that were tasked with getting the women broken and submissive in the first place. So THESE MEN would be the thugs we are seeing now. And THEY would have, of course, been BASED IN SEATTLE. And willing to do Isaac’s bidding rather than be reported to the police for their previous roles in Elena’s operation.

    Andrew Lincoln should be happy that Christian finally gave Elena what she deserved in the end. And if Andrew couldn’t prevent the sale of his company, then how he would have the resources to do what is being done now is beyond me. With all these contacts and compromises to the safety and security of GEH having been successfully implemented to this point, Andrew would have HAD to have access to Elena’s contacts and resources. And the desire to destroy these resources through a willingness to sacrifice EVERYTHING in order to leave Christian a hollow shell.

    And Elena wants BOTH Andrew and Christian destroyed. So she is NOT likely to allow Andrew the POWER of all her carefully orchestrated blackmail material, thus leaving herself possibly penniless and without help by the time she gets out of prison. YES, Elena wants revenge. But NOT at the cost of her power and funds. So I DON’T see her having authorized Isaac to run everything into the ground SOLELY for revenge. Isaac would JUST be doing what he thought his Mistress would do.

    So I am more and more convinced that ISAAC, a complete victim of Elena’s abuse and warped thinking, has gone insane by her absence. And Isaac would see Christian and Ana as the source of ALL his pain. And since he has NOTHING left without Elena, he wants Christian to have NOTHING left without ANA. Makes sense. And would explain why Isaac would burn through contacts and funds that otherwise could be used to have a cushy lifestyle or a means to start over. ISAAC, however, is motivated solely by revenge and making Christian experience HIS pain. After all, Isaac, CAN’T deal without Elena, as he has NOT found a means to be independent from her. He is NOT stronger, unlike CHristian.

    (I see Isaac almost like a Norman Bates from “Psycho”–in his broken, insane state, he is trying to “be” Elena, wear her clothes, and do what he BELIEVES she would want.)

    So either ELena has completely broken ISAAC or she has completely broken Andrew Lincoln. But ONE of these individuals HAS to be the organizer behind the Conspiracy. It reeks too much of Elena’s speech at the bar to Ana about how she operates in order to be the ultimate power. ONLY with the delusional aftermath of desiring REVENGE to the point of a “scortched earth” policy that can destroy EVERYTHING, even the person seeking the revenge!

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