Chapter 31

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I wake up the next morning to the low sounds of Champ whining by my bed and when I open my eyes, I see him resting his head on the sheet next to me, staring at me with his sad brown eyes.

“Hey, buddy,” I whisper, my voice still thick with sleep as I reach over to scratch him behind the ears. He whines again. “Are you hungry?”

His ears perk so I slowly pull the comforter off of me and shamble my way from the bedroom to the kitchen. The TV is on, playing the news at a low volume in the great room, and there’s coffee made and a plate of fresh looking croissants resting on the counter, but other than Champ and I, the room is empty. I can hear the dull thump of music coming from upstairs though, so I figure Christian must be working out, and as I pour a cup of dry kibble into Champ’s bowl, I worry that he’s going to wake my father. Yesterday wasn’t a great start to their relationship and I don’t want them starting off on the wrong foot again.

Before I go upstairs to run damage control, I take Champ’s water dish to the sink and, as the steady stream of water begins to pool in the bottom of the plastic blue bowl, my eyes fall upon the latest edition of the Seattle Times resting on the breakfast bar. It’s facing away from me so the text is upside down, but I can read the headline.

 

Manhunt continues for Billionaire Girlfriend’s Kidnapper, New Details Emerge

 

I frown, then turn off the sink and place Champ’s bowl on the floor next to his food, but when I turn around to pick up the paper, it’s gone and Gail is standing on the other side of the bar smiling at me.  

“Good morning, Miss Steele. I’ve just finished your laundry to pack for your departure for this morning. Can I get you anything before I start?”

“What was that?” I ask, ignoring her question and nodding to the now bare countertop, but she furrows her brow.

“What?”

“The newspaper. Was that about me? What new details?”

“Oh, it’s nothing,” she says, brushing me off. “Just the media throwing stuff out there to sell papers. It must be a slow news cycle. I wouldn’t let it worry you, Miss Steele.”

“Hmm,” I hum, not really falling for her cavalier attitude, but since I’m not particularly  interested in starting my morning by being thrust back into the horrifying memories of last week, I decide not to press her on it. I’m leaving Seattle today. That’s all I want to focus on. “Well, Champ is going to need to go out when he’s finished eating. Can you have Luke or Taylor take him please?

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Thank you.” I smile at her and scratch Champ’s fur once more before I hurry out of the kitchen for the stairs. The moment I make it to the hallway on the second landing, I can hear Christian’s music so loudly that I can make out each word to Fort Minor’s Remember the Name before I even turn the corner, and it makes me cringe. Rap music at 6:45 in the morning isn’t the best way to get my dad to warm up to him and his room is right across from our gym.

The door to the guest room is closed so I stop to knock before I walk in, but I worry that he can’t hear my knuckles rap against it because he doesn’t answer. After waiting a few minutes, I slowly push it open, but I find the room empty. The bed is perfectly made, my father’s bags are packed and stacked neatly by the door, there isn’t even a towel draped over the back of a chair from his shower.

Frowning with confusion, I step out of the room, wondering where he could have gone. For a brief moment, I think maybe he’s working out with Christian, and even though I know how unlikely that is, I don’t have any better ideas as to where he could have gone, so I turn around to take a peek inside the gym. Once I open the door, I scan the room and find that my father isn’t here either, but I still have to pause, just to appreciate the view.

Christian is facing away from me, standing before a free standing punching bag in only a pair of sweatpants. His perfectly chiseled back glistens with sweat, his muscles catching the light as he moves, and it makes every one of them look swollen and defined. His perfection is nearly awe inspiring, and as I lean against the door to drink in just how delectable he really looks, the last notes of the song die out and he turns away from the bag, using his teeth to rip apart the velcro on the gloves covering his hands. When he looks over and sees me standing there watching him, he pauses and reaches into the pocket of his sweats for the remote to the iHome sitting on the other side of the room.

“I’m sorry, did I wake you?” he asks, slightly out of breath.

“No, Champ did. I was just looking for my dad. He’s not in his room.”

“No, he asked Sawyer to go for a run with him about an hour ago. I think he’s checking up on me.”

I laugh. “Oh, he definitely is. Next he’ll be running a background check, having you followed to see where you’re going everyday, checking your references to find out all the secrets of your past…” I smile up at him in a teasing way, waiting for his playful side to come out with a perfect biting remark, but it doesn’t. Instead, he frowns and looks down between us.

“I hope not.”

“Hey,” I say, reaching for either side of his beautiful face and tilting it up so that he’s looking at me. “I’m just kidding. Look, I know he was… distant yesterday and you think he doesn’t like you, but you’re wrong.  He’s just my dad and he’s protective of me, and he doesn’t really know you yet. That’s all this is. And if he really is out there questioning Luke, that’s all he’s trying to do. He just wants to make sure you’re good man, and you are. Once he sees that for himself, he’ll warm up. You have nothing to worry about.”

“If you say so,” he says uneasily, but before I can make any more arguments, he leans down to kiss me and even though I know it’s a diversionary tactic, it works flawlessly. I bring my hands up and run them over his arms, which actually are swollen from his work out and even twitch slightly beneath my fingers. The pheromones radiating off of him are intoxicating and as I feel his lips move with mine, my mind begins to swim with fantasies that suddenly have me wondering what it would be like to be fucked over a pummel horse.

“So we’re alone,” I hint. “And you’re looking real fine this morning…”

“Am I?” he asks, and when I nod he groans and he deepens our kiss. I move my hands from his arms and wrap them behind his head, pulling my body closer to him, but just as he slips his tongue past my lips, his phone begins vibrating in his pocket and the low sound of his ringtone plays through the iHome.

“Hold that thought,” he says, placing one last, soft kiss on my lips before twisting out of my arms to answer the call. I pout as I hear him greet Ros and then slump dejectedly against the pummel horse that had given me such intriguing ideas, waiting to see if he’s going to come back. Several minutes pass though, and he doesn’t, so I push off the leather and begin meandering around the gym. Part of me wonders if I should maybe try walking on the treadmill for a while, not running since I’m supposed to be keeping my exercise low impact, but maybe just walking. I run my finger over the textured rubber on the handrest, considering it, until I glance over at the illuminated clock face of the iHome and see that it’s nearly 6:30. Christian said that our flight to Boston leaves at 8:00, so really, I should probably go shower and see if Gail needs my help packing, but as I turn to leave, my eyes fall on the bag that Christian had been punching when I walked in.

I glance back towards the door to make sure he isn’t secretly watching me and then begin circling the bag, considering it, before I eventually square up, pull my fist back, and hit the vinyl as hard as I can.

“Ow,” I whine when I find that the surface of the bag is much harder than I anticipated and the full force is absorbed in my knuckles. I pull my hand away, trying to shake out the pain, and as I do, I hear a low chuckle behind me.

“What do you call that?” Christian asks, amused.

“Painful,” I reply. He laughs again and comes up behind me, pressing his body into mine.

“Well, besides the fact that you should be wearing gloves, your technique is all wrong,” he says. “You should always keep your thumb on the outside of your fingers. If you tuck it inside your fist like that, you’ll break it.” Slowly, he unravels my hand to release my thumb and then uses his hand to curl my fingers into a fist again, tenderly running the pad of his thumb over the back of mine as he moves it into the proper place.

“Now, take half a step back with your dominant leg and angle the other side of your body towards the bag.” His hands slide down my side and over my hips to the top of my thighs and the feel of his hands on my body makes me bite my lip as I move the way he wants me to. “All your power is going to come from your legs. You throw a punch with your whole body. When you throw your arm, you’re going to push off with your back foot and use that momentum to punch through your target. Never aim at what you want to hit, you aim behind it.”

“Okay,” I nod. He takes a step back and I thrust my fist forward, but once I make contact with the bag, I immediately feel the same pain I felt the first time.

“Ow! That still hurt,” I complain, pouting and rubbing my knuckles with my other hand.

“Yeah, you should try hitting someone in the face,” Christian laughs. “It’s not great.” He takes my hand and kisses each of the knuckles before turning to the bag, picking it up, and moving it a few feet to the side.

“Alright,” he begins, squaring up in front of me and raising his hands, palm out. “Try it again. Hit me in the hands, as hard as you can.”

“I don’t want to hurt you…”

“You’re not going to hurt me, Ana. Seriously, hit me as hard as you can. Show me what you’ve got.”

I narrow my eyes at him for a moment, but then move back into the stance he showed me, take a breath, and punch through his hand as hard as I can.

“Ah! Jesus fuck!” Christian hisses. His face contorts with a sudden shock of pain and he immediately yanks his hand away from me.

“Oh my god, I’m sorry,” I gasp. “I didn’t mean to, I’m so sorry, Christian.”

He turns back to face me, smirking, and then laughs. “Just kidding.”

My mouth drops open as I stare back into the superior kind of haughtiness reflected in his eyes, and then mash my lips together in indignation.

“You’re such a dick!” I exclaim, slapping him across his bare chest as he charges back at me. A delighted shriek escapes my lips as he wraps me in his arms and starts tickling me while I struggle to get away.

“Oh my god, Christian! Stop! Ah, stop!” I giggle. I push back on him, thrashing my body to get out of his grip, but his hands are firm and strong against me.

“Stop what? I don’t understand what you want me to stop,” he laughs.

“You are so going to regret this!” I shout. “I’m pregnant, you’re going to make me pee!”

He laughs once more and then his fingers move away from my sides as his arms snake around my middle. His lips move to my neck while he squeezes me and I let out a soft, appreciative moan.

“I love you, Anastasia,” he whispers.

“Mmm, not as much as I love you.” He turns me so that I’m facing him again and then slides his hand beneath my hair, behind my neck, to pull my lips to his. I kiss him hungrily, pushing my tongue past his lips and entwining it around his. My hand slowly creeps down his body, beneath the band of his sweatpants, and just as I hear his soft, satisfied moan responding to my fingers closing around him, there is another sound of a low cough behind me. I turn and see my dad standing awkwardly in the doorway.

“Oh, Dad!” I exclaim, quickly yanking my hand out of Christian’s pants and scrambling a few feet away from him. “Uh… How’d you sleep?”

“Fine,” he says. “Just a little bit of jet lag. I was thinking that since you’re leaving this morning, you and I could have breakfast before you go.”

“Sure, do you want me to cook you something?”

“Well, I was going to suggest going out but, since you offered…” He gives me a slightly mischievous smile and I roll my eyes at his lack of subtlety before I turn to look up at Christian.

“Hungry?”

He shakes his head. “I’ve already eaten. You go ahead.”

“What time do we need to leave?”

“Soon. I’m just going to make sure everything is in order at the office, take a shower, and I’m ready to go.”

“Great, we’ll be quick.” I give him a peck on the cheek and then scurry across the room to hook my arm through my dad’s. As we turn to head downstairs, I notice him giving Christian one last examining look before he allows me to tug him from the room.

“So what’ll it be?” I ask when we get to the kitchen. “French toast? Eggs and Bacon? There’s sausage in here, I could heat up some biscuits for biscuits and gravy.”

“Sounds great kid,” he says, and while I turn to the freezer to pull out the dough for the biscuits Gail always bakes for me anytime she makes soup, he takes a seat at the breakfast bar. I busy myself around the kitchen, but once the biscuits are in the oven, the sausage is in the frying pan, and I’ve made a rue for my gravy, I lean on the counter so that we can talk.

“How was your run with Luke?”

“Good.” He nods. “Great, actually. I really like Luke. He’s a good guy.”

“I think so too. Did you grill him about Christian?”

“Would you blame me?”

“No, I expected it. What did he say?”

“A lot. Luke has a lot of opinions about your boyfriend… er, fiancé.”

“All good I hope.”

“Mmm,” he hums, shrugging.

“Bad things?”  

“Mmm,” he says again, but his inflection gives nothing away, so I narrow my eyes at him.

“What did he say?”

“I told him to give it to me straight, he gave it to me straight. He said some things that made me happy to hear, he said some things that have me… concerned.”

“Like what?” I check, and as my mind runs through all of the things in Christian’s past and all of the things that have been difficult about our relationship that Luke could have told him, I feel my stomach clench with nerves.

He shakes his head though, silently telling me he won’t repeat the things Luke said to him in confidence, but when I open my mouth to protest, he holds his hand up to cut me off.

“He told me that you two have had a difficult road and that you’re not without your problems, but at the end of the day, you love him very, very much and he is absolutely devoted to you. He said if there is one thing about Christian that he is sure of, it’s that he loves you, and he would never betray you, or intentionally hurt you. Luke believes that he’ll cherish you the way you deserve to be. I suppose for right now, that’s enough for me.”

I let out a breath of relief. “You should tell Christian that. It would really help break the ice between you, I think.”

“Oh, don’t you worry, Annie. I plan on having a long sit down with Christian once you go back to school.”

“Oh…” I hesitate. “He’s, um… he’s coming with me.”

“He is?”

“Yeah. He really doesn’t want to be apart from me right now with everything that’s happened and my pregnancy so he’s going to work remotely from Cambridge.”

“And how do you feel about that?”

“Relieved,” I reply immediately. “Ecstatic. Being away from him and traveling back and forth have been the hardest parts about being at school this year.”

“So, it was your idea?”

“No, but only because I didn’t think it was a possibility.”

“I see. Well, just remember, you’re there for school. That’s your most important priority, not him.”

“I know, Dad,” I say, rolling my eyes at his lecturing tone as I turn to pull the biscuits out of the oven.

Once breakfast is ready, we sit down at the breakfast bar together and, again, I’m amazed at how easy it is to fall back into our normal rapport with one another, as if we were never apart. He tells me about some of the amazing places he’s visited and the beautiful landmarks he’s seen, and I’m so engrossed in his stories that eight comes and goes without me ever getting up.

“Ana?” Christian says, stepping out of our bedroom with our suitcases grasped in either of his hands. “We’re late…”

“Oh, shoot!” I exclaim, bolting out of my seat and kissing my father on the cheek before I turn away from the counter. As I sprint into my room, I immediately begin stripping my clothes off so I can get in the shower and then have to scramble to get ready and make sure I have everything I need. Thankfully, even in my scatterbrained rush, I remember to check my drawers for Christian’s Harvard t-shirt because Gail had forgotten to pack it. Once it’s tucked safely in my suitcase, I’m ready to go.

“Ryan will take your father back to Montesano,” Christian tells me once I’ve rejoined them in the great room. “But he wants to see you off at the airport first.”

“Great,” I say smiling. My dad reaches down, taking the handle of my suitcase before Christian can, and then waits for me us to head for the elevator first. As we wait in the foyer for the elevator’s arrival, I see the CNN news story playing on the TV flash over to a view of Seattle and I think I see Christian’s name tick across the bottom of the screen, but when I take a step back to try and read what it’s saying, the doors slide open and Luke quickly whisks me inside.

“Why does everyone keep doing that?” I ask as we begin our descent. “What are they saying about it?”

“Nothing for you to worry about,” Christian assures me. “I just think it’s better that you have some separation right now.”

“Oh…” I reply, and while my curiosity is peaked over what the media, especially the national media, is saying about what happened and the subsequent investigation, I’m forced to agree with him. I haven’t really thought about what happened much since my dad got here and it’s been an immense relief. I’d like to keep it that way.

When we get to the airport, we find Christian’s jet waiting for us on the tarmac and for the first time since the beginning of the school year, I don’t feel any sense of foreboding. Normally, I hate the flight from Seattle to Boston, but today, I can’t wait for it. Still, when Christian steps out of the car, I linger behind because my dad does.

“Impressive,” he says, leaning over to get a better look at the plane through the side window.

“Even more so on the inside,” I tell him. “Do you want to look around before we go?”

“No,” he shakes his head. “Thank you, but I don’t want to delay you any more than I already have, and I really need to be getting back to Montesano. Now that I’m home, it’s time to start pulling my life back together.”

“Well, come visit me, okay? Any time you want. We can send Christian’s jet for you or we can book you a flight.”

“Just try to keep me away.”

I try to smile, but it’s difficult as I feel the aching sadness growing inside of me as the reality of me leaving and my dad staying behind really hits me. “I hate that you just got here and I’m leaving. We haven’t had enough time yet. It still doesn’t even feel real that you’re here…”

“You’re almost done, baby girl. And then we’re going to have all the time in the world.”

“I love you, Daddy,” I tell him, throwing my arms around him. His hands move gently over my back as he squeezes me.

“I love you too, Ana. Be careful okay? Study hard, have fun, and call me. I’m not going to stop worrying about you just ‘cause I’m home.”

“I will,” I promise. I give him a tight smile and slide out of the car.

There are a lot of people boarding the plane today. While Luke helps Champ up the flight stairs, Taylor, Cardella, and Kommer all hand luggage to the flight crew loading the cargo hold under the plane as they’re all coming back with us and as I watch them, my brain has a hard time working through the logistics of how that’s going to work. We just don’t have room for everyone…

“Ready?” Christian asks, coming up behind me and placing his hand on the small of my back.

“Yeah.” I move forward, but stop when I hear the car door open behind me.

“Ana,” my dad calls. I turn back to him, watching an echo of pain break through his supportive facade for the first time, and it has me immediately flying down the stairs to help him close the distance between us so that he can pull me into his arms. “I’m going to miss you, sweetheart. So much. But I’m really proud of you for going back. I love you, Ana.”

“I love you too, Daddy.”

He places a hard kiss on the top of my head as he lets me go, but when I turn to move up the stairs again, my dad shifts toward Christian and holds out his hand.

“She’s in your hands,” he says. “Take care of her.”

“Yes, sir,” Christian replies, shaking his hand. “I intend to.”

My dad nods and releases Christian’s hand so we can continue up the stairs and into the plane, and before I make my way down the center aisle to my usual seat, I pause and wave goodbye to him one last time.

“Are you alright?” Christian asks once I’ve sat down next to him.

“Yeah, I just wish I had a little more time with him. I didn’t think about the fact that we brought him back here and now he’s just going to go back to an empty house in Montesano where he’s going to be all alone. Maybe I should have stayed a few more days…”

“He wanted you to go, Ana. He’s going to be fine. I was only there for a few days last summer, but I think Montesano is filled with people who will be very glad to welcome him home and make sure that he’s not lonely.”

“I hope so. He’s never been on his own before.”

Christian’s expression tightens and he looks as though he’s searching for the right way to say something, but as the engines of the plane roar to life beneath us, he simply raises our conjoined hands to his lips, kisses the side of my index finger, and then turns to the laptop he’s placed on the tray in front of him.

 

It’s dinner time when we land in Boston, and when we pull up to the house in Cambridge all the lights are on downstairs, which means Kate is home for the night. Champ is sitting upright in the seat next to me, and when we stop, he immediately starts whining and trying to get over me to get out of the car.

“Okay, buddy,” I tell him as I grab ahold of his collar to keep him from bolting the moment I open the door.

“Don’t let him pull you,” Christian says nervously. “The last thing we need is for you to fall out of the car.”

“I’ve got him,” Luke says, opening my door and taking his collar out of my hands. “I’m going to do a quick perimeter sweep, so I’ll take him with me. He could probably use it after being stuck on that plane all day.”

“We all could.” I smile. “Thanks, Luke.”

I wait until he’s guided Champ away from the car before I try and get out and while the rest of the security team moves to the trunk to begin unloading luggage, I take the walk up to the back door and enter the code into the security pad so that I can get inside.

There’s soft classical music coming from the living room, which is what Kate usually listens to when she’s studying, so I hurry through the kitchen to pounce on her, but freeze when I come through the archway and find that she’s already… pouncing on Carter.

“Yeah, just like that, Kate,” Carter groans, gripping onto her hips while she bounces up and down in his lap. “Fuck, baby, you feel so good.”

My eyes slam closed as I quickly turn away, but when I look through the glass in the back door and see the hoard of people about ready to come into the kitchen with no way upstairs except through the living room, I realize I can’t sneak my way out of this awkwardness of the situation.

“Ummm, Kate?” I call uncertainly, and instantly the moaning and heavy panting coming from the room behind me stops.

“Oh my god, Ana!” Kate exclaims, clearly embarrassed. I continue to keep my back turned, giving them a few minutes to get put back together before I chance another glance over my shoulder, but when Christian comes through the back door, he doesn’t understand what my silent, fervent waving means, and he walks right into view before immediately cringing away.

“Oh, Jesus!” he says, also turning to face the same direction I am. “You have a bedroom, Kate.”

“We were studying,” she says defensively. “We thought we’d take a break…”

“Uh huh.”

The muffled sound of clothes moving around and zippers being zipped stops, and after I hear Kate’s footsteps coming across the hardwood floor towards me, I turn around just in time to be swept up in a hug.

“What are you doing here?” she asks.

“Well, you said you wanted your eight weeks,” I reply. “Surprise!”

“What? I thought you said you didn’t think you could come back? What happened?”

“We have a lot to talk about,” I tell her. “Starting with our new roommate.”

“New roommate? More security?”

“Not exactly.” I gesture to Christian with a nod of my head and when she turns to look at him, her brow furrows with confusion.

“Christian? You’re moving in here?”

“I am.”

“But… but what about GEH?

“GEH is going to be fine. Ana needed to be here, and I need to be with Ana.”

She smiles and now that the shock of me seeing her in such a compromising position is wearing off, her face lights up with excitement. “So, you’re really back? Oh my god, you’re back!” She wraps me in her arms again. “Thank god, I hated the idea that you were going to give up so close to the end.” She beams when she releases me and as Carter walks up behind her, he awkwardly holds out his hand for Christian.

“Welcome back, Grey,” he says, but Christian looks down at his outstretched hand and raises an eyebrow at him.

“I have a very good idea where that hand has been so I’m going to have to take a hard pass on that…”

“Oh, right,” he says sheepishly. “Well, uh… we really were just studying so we ordered pizza for dinner. There’s enough though, if you’re hungry. We kind of went overboard.”

“Thanks, I’m starving,” I reply. “We’re just going to go put our bags upstairs and settle in. Be down in a minute?”

“Alright.” Kate nods, and then turns to smile at Christian. “Welcome home, roomie. You and I can sit down later tonight and work out an Ana custody schedule ‘cause she and I have sleepovers once a week so…”

“Awh,” he replies sadly. “I’m sorry you’re going to have to give that up.”

“And I’m sorry you’re going to have to find a way to be comfortable with me sandwiched in the bed between you, because I’m not giving that up for anything. These are my eight weeks, Grey. You’re the intruder now.” He gives her a hard look, and she laughs. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding!”

She takes a step forward and wraps him in a quick hug, but as he hugs her back she peeks over his shoulder at me and mouths, I’m not kidding, forcing me to stifle a giggle.

“I know you think you got away with that,” Christian says, pulling away. “But nothing gets past me, Kavanagh. I have no problem physically removing your from my bed and dumping you out in the hallway.”

“You could try, but I’m pretty scrappy,” she says, raising her arms and flexing her muscles for him, and even Christian laughs.

I give Kate one last hug and then take Christian’s hand to lead him to the stairs, both Taylor and Kommer following after us ladened down with luggage.

“We’ll have the new furniture delivered tomorrow,” Christian tells Taylor once they’ve placed our suitcases on the bed. “For tonight, get yourself a hotel room close by.”

“Yes, sir,” Taylor says, and with a nod to me, he leaves the room.

“Good night, Miss Steele. Mr. Grey,” Kommer says.

“Good night,” I reply, and then he turns to follow after Taylor.

“Are you moving Taylor in here too?” I ask once the door is closed behind them.

“Mmm,” he hums as he moves over to unzip his bag. “The more security in this house, the better.”

“So, they’re going to share a room?” I ask, raising an eyebrow at him. He nods.

“The other option was moving into a bigger house and with the little time we have here, that didn’t make a lot of sense. They’re military men, they’ll be fine.”

“Military men? Oh, shit!” I dive for my purse and begin digging through it until I find my phone. I have a missed call from my mom, which I ignore, and then scroll through my contacts until I find my dad’s name, and it actually feels a little strange when I press my finger into the screen, hold my phone up to my ear, and it begins to ring.

Christian spends the first few minutes I talk to my dad unpacking and meandering around the room, until eventually we hear to doorbell ring from downstairs and he kisses me on the forehead before leaving to join Kate and Carter for dinner. I don’t want to push my dad off the phone while he’s telling me about his day greeting neighbors and old friends again back in Montesano though, so I close the door and crawl into the middle of my bed to finish our conversation. But it doesn’t take long before Kate is knocking on my door.

“Pizza’s here,” she says, sticking her head into my room, and I nod.

“That sounds great, dad. I’m glad you got to see everyone. Our dinner just got here, so can I call you tomorrow?”

“Sure, kid. Have a good night. Tell Kate I said hi.”

“I will, love you.”

“I love you, too. Bye.”

I hang up the phone and look up at Kate, who seems to be answering a text on her phone.

“Ready?” I prompt her, but she looks up, steps into the room, and closes the door.

“Christian said your dad’s home,” she says, and I nod.

“Yeah, he got early separation, which means he’s going to be here for graduation.”

“That’s amazing,” she smiles. “I know how important that was for you.” She moves across the room and sits on the bed next to me so she can wrap me in a hug. “I’m so glad you came back. I was really worried about you.”

“Yeah, well… you were right. Being terrified and locking myself away from the world wasn’t helping me, it was helping him, and I’m not going to give him that satisfaction. I’m going to work through this, I’m going to live my life, and I’m going to have everything I’ve worked for. He’s not going to take this from me, he’s not going to take anything from me, he’s not going to make me smaller.”

“Good.” She nods. “I’m proud of you.”

“You know, in a way, I’m almost glad this happened, because it’s opened my eyes. I’ve always thought Christian was over protective but I understand now, and I can move forward knowing that I have to be careful. That I need Luke, or Taylor, or whoever around, all the time, to protect me and my daughter.  Surviving this means that I’m going to be able to protect Calliope better, and I’m glad for that. That’s what I’m going to make myself focus on so I can move forward.”

“Well, I’m glad that you are moving forward” she says. “And I really think that’s it good you decided to come here. School really helped me move on, gave me purpose again, and something to focus on that wasn’t what had happened to me. I hope it does that for you too.”

“That’s the plan.” I smile as she reaches for her phone on the bed, picks it up to answer a text, and then tosses it aside again.

“I need to tell you something,” she says, and the nervousness in her voice makes my brow furrow.

“What?”

“Carter… Carter told me he loves me.”

“What?!”

“We were sitting at the coffee table downstairs, doing homework, and he just looked over at me and he said, I love you.”

“And what did you say?”

“I froze… and then I fucked him on the couch.”

“Wait, this just happened?”

“Yeah. In the time it takes for a pizza to be delivered.”

“Oh my god, Kate. So… you didn’t say it back?”

“No… I-I mean, it’s too soon, right? We’ve only been dating for…” She pauses and her eyes dance back and forth as calculates the time in her head “Oh my god, it’s not too soon.”

“So, do you love him?” I ask. She bites her lip.

“I– I don’t know, I hadn’t really thought about it. I was just trying to take things slow, not set my expectations too high this time…” Her phone vibrates and she reaches down to pick it up again.

“Who keeps texting you?” I ask.

“Elliot,” she says. “He and Gia are fighting…”

“And he’s texting you about that?” I ask, suspiciously, but when she sets her phone down on the bed, she gives me a returning look that is entirely innocent.

“Yeah, why not? We’re friends.”

“Friends,” I repeat. “You know… he was just saying yesterday that when you come back the two of you might go jet skiing.”

“Might?” She laughs. “There’s no might, Ana. You have no idea how excited I am to get back out on the water. He’s even talking about seeing if Christian will just let him borrow his yacht so we could go out farther and maybe do a two day thing.”

“In separate cabins?”

She rolls her eyes at the insinuation in my tone. “It’s not like that. We’re just friends.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Ana, he’s with Gia now. And, I’m with Carter. We’re just friends.”

“Alright,” I concede. “Then what do you plan to do about Carter?”

“I don’t know,” she groans. “I like him. I really like him.”

“But do you love him?”

She sighs. “I don’t know. I think I have to know what he wants for the future before I can let myself even consider that. We’ve never had any conversations about the future and I’m not going to let myself love someone again who doesn’t want the same things as me.”

“So talk to him about it. If he’s in love with you, he has to be at least considering what a future with you would look like. I think you have every right to know what he want.”

“Hey, dinner’s getting cold,” Christian says, cracking the door open just enough so that we can see him standing in the hallway. “

“We’re coming,” I tell him, but he hesitates in the door for a moment, probably because he doesn’t want to go back downstairs to be alone with Carter again, so Kate sighs, grabs my hand, and drags me towards my bedroom door.

Over dinner, Christian and I listen to Kate and Carter recounting what little of their Cabo trip they spent together before Kate abandoned Carter on the beach to fly to me in Seattle. I try to focus on the positives, that at least Kate seemed to pack a lot into the few days she was able to be on vacation, but I’m distracted from her descriptions of parasailing over turquoise water and wild spring break parties on the beach both by my guilt over being the reason her break was cut short, and by the number of times I see her pick up her phone and smile down at whatever she’s reading on the screen. Even Carter seems to notice after awhile.

“Who is that?” he asks.

“A friend from back home,” she says, quickly putting her phone in her lap and then turning to me. “Before I forget, you got some mail. It’s on the counter over there.”

“For me?” I ask, because now that Christian pays all my bills and my dad is home, I have no idea what would possibly come in the mail for me. Kate nods so I push back my chair and go to the counter where I see three letters addressed to me. The first one I pick up has an official looking logo in the return window for Hamilton House Publishing. I rip open the fold and pull out the heavy weighted paper inside.

 

Dear Miss Anastasia Steele,

We’re writing to inform you that after our second review of your manuscript entitled, Escaping Neverland, we have selected your submission for publication.

Included with this letter, you will find the guidelines for our publishing process as well as our official offer letter, which will require your signature before we move forward with publication.

We at Hamilton House Publishing would like to thank you for your creativity and the skill that has gone into your novel. We are honored to be a part of your publishing journey.

Best wishes,

Genevieve Seegal

Senior Acquisitions Editor, Hamilton House Publishing

 

I have to read the letter twice before the words fully sink in, and as I pull out the contract still in the oversized envelope, my mouth drops open.

“Oh my god,” I whisper in shock and Christian turns around to look at me.

“What?”

“My book…” I tell him. “They want to publish my book.”

“What?” he repeats, but this time there is excitement building in his eyes. “Let me see.”

I hand him the letter and then pick up the other two, which I’m shocked to find are also acceptance letters from Little Brick Stone Publishing and Random House.

“Ana,” Christian breathes as his eyes scan through the letter. “Baby, you’ve done it. Congratulations!” He gets out of his chair and holds his arms out for me. “I knew you’d do it.”

I squeal as he lifts me into the air and spins me once, and then hand him the other letters to read.

“I told you,” Kate says, getting up to hug me. “I told you from day one.”

“You were the one who made me submit it to Dr Ralston in the first place,” I smile at her. “Thank you, Kate.”

“Shut up, it was all you.” She squeezes me, bouncing slightly with excitement.

“Random House,” Christian says behind me. “That’s a top three publishing house…”

“Of course it is,” Kate says. “You don’t get that big without recognizing brilliance.”

“I don’t get it though,” I say. “I was rejected from Random House. And from Hamilton House.”

“Well they’ve reconsidered,” Christian says. “Perhaps your manuscript came across a different editor’s desk and they were able to see how good it really was.”

“Three times?”

“I mean, it’s the press right?” Carter says. “Her name is all over the news because of the kidnapping. They’ve got to know that if they move fast enough, they can cash in on that public interest.”

“Wait, you think this is because I almost got kidnapped?”

“Of course not,” Kate says sharply, slapping Carter across the back of the head. “It’s because someone read your manuscript and saw New York Times Bestseller. You told Ralston to try again, right? To push harder? Well, it looks like he came through.”

I bite down on my lip and Christian’s hand brushes over my arm. “Baby, you’ve earned this. You. Trust me, from a business perspective, it wouldn’t make sense to throw money behind something that’s just a blip in the 24 hour news cycle. If they didn’t think your novel was viable for whatever market they’re trying to target, you wouldn’t have that letter in your hand right now.”

“Really?”

“Really. You ran SIP over the summer and you signed 13 authors. You know I’m right. You did this. Just you, and you should be proud. I am.”

“Christian…” I step towards him and wrap my arms around his neck so that I can kiss him, and the moment my lips touch his, he reaches into my hair, pulling me into him, so that he can kiss me as deeply as possible. His tongue moves into my mouth and when I moan my approval, Kate coughs behind me.

“Not alone yet…”

“Then perhaps we should get that way,” Christian says in a low voice, the suggestion in his tone clear. I bite my lip again, trying to reign in the intrigued smile tugging at the corners of my lips, and turn back to Kate.

“Thanks for dinner,” I tell her.

“Of course. We’ll add Christian into the rotation, it can be his night to cook tomorrow.”

“Mmm, can’t wait,” I say sarcastically, and while she laughs, Christian tugs against my hand.

“Go,” Kate says, rolling her eyes. “But keep it down, we still have some studying to do.”

“No promises,” I tell her, winking, and then turn to follow Christian out of the kitchen and up the stairs. And as he turns to face me, pressing his lips into mine as he backs into my bedroom, I bask in the contentment of this perfect night, and the feeling of true accomplishment and of unbridled happiness.

Next Chapter

 

 

 

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80 thoughts on “Chapter 31

  1. Wow great!!!!
    Now Elliot is involving Kate into his matters bcoz he realises such an idiot he was
    I don’t want Kate to go back to Elliot
    I like Carter’s for kate

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    1. Kate is also not doing herself ANY favors by not telling Carter that she is texting Elliot. I mean, LOOK how many times Kate CLEARLY stopped what she was doing to text Elliot. And SMILED and what she was reading that he said.

      And you KNOW that Gia is seeing all this from ELLIOT’S end. And Elliot should NOT be doing something like this. He gets angry at Gia for her business lunch, yet he is making future plans with his EX that do NOT include Gia. He wants his “fun time” and vacation time with KATE, not Gia. And the SAME seems true for Gia.

      While some people CAN be friends with their Ex, the way Elliot and Kate are going about this is secretive and NOT good. Kate did NOT tell Carter about it, which only goes to show that in her heart, she KNOWS she is doing something that will HURT Carter.

      Sigh. The sad thing is that MANY people end up cheating that always claimed “I never meant it to go this far.” Kate AND Elliot need to THINK about what they are doing AND what they both want.

      I also don’t want Kate and Elliot back together now. After the whole Gia fiasco, I think they BOTH need time to BE just friends and to work out their issues. Which SHOULD include how fast Elliot supposedly was able to move on.

      But the heart wants what it wants. AND it will create some angry people that might do spiteful things. Which is BAD when you consider that the Conspiracy is out there just WAITING for someone to make a mistake!

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      1. I guess Elliot is weighing on Ray’s words that he spoke at the barbeque.
        Carter doesn’t deserves to be treated this way, nor Elliot deserves Kate’s forgiveness co sidering he made Gia his gf within 2 weeks of his breakup

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    2. So glad that Christian went back with her
      Absolutely love the idea about Elliott and Kate texting each other also
      About Anna’s book getting published

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Kate. Really. In other stories I find her almost annoying, but here she has a great sense of humor. Even if she stays with Carter, I would love to read about that.
    And Ray… Glad seeing he is breaking the ice.

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  3. Okay, while I have been dying for more Conspiracy information, I loved this chapter for its fluffiness between Christian and Ana. I thoroughly enjoy seeing them have some happy time, and I was glad to see that Kate and Carter were physically okay as well.

    With the above said, there are two things that obviously jumped out at me in this chapter.

    1) WHY are they not letting Ana see the newspaper or hear the news? ESPECIALLY if there are “new details” emerging? That makes it sound like the media is trying to claim Ana made up the story or something to that effect. Why else keep her from hearing the media coverage? YES, I get that she just has to re-hear and remember the trauma, but the media might have uncovered some little something or other that Ana might realize MEANS something if she heard it herself. Ana IS strong, and they don’t need to protect her, assuming there is more information out there that she does not yet know.

    But that is worrisome that they feel the need to keep what the press is saying from Ana. And INTERESTING that NOW multiple sources want to publish her book.

    But no matter the reasons for wanting to publish now, we KNOW that Ana has EARNED this. And being a published author can be something of pride that Ana can share with her daughter someday, because at this point, I’m going to assume that Tara intends for Ana to survive ASSOF.

    2) KATE. That is a VERY slippery slope she is going down by texting Elliot. YES, she may be going for friendship, but you NOTICE that she is building FUTURE PLANS around Elliot, NOT Carter. She does not seem to have even discussed post-graduation with Carter.

    And you KNOW that Carter would have a problem with learning that ELLIOT is the person that Kate is texting SO FREQUENTLY. That CANNOT be good for a trusting relationship. Even Kate doesn’t tell Carter WHO she is texting, which is not good. Even KATE must know what THAT would look like and how it would make Carter feel.

    PLUS, you just KNOW that Elliot is probably making it OBVIOUS to Gia that he is, in fact, texting Kate. That should make Gia even MORE desperate than she already is.

    Both Kate and Elliot are seemingly trying to move on while increasingly becoming MORE and MORE involved in one another’s lives. And there are people that they HAVE to know would be HURT in the process in just knowing that they are getting more “friendly” on a daily basis. NOT good. And SOMETHING is going to come of this, you just know it.

    OTHER THINGS of importance:

    The security WILL include Taylor in the Cambridge house now, thankfully. I figured Christian would have to move some more sleeping furniture into the house.

    But I LOVE LOVE LOVE that Christian is clearly happy about being in Cambridge with Ana. It will be interesting to see how Christian, Ana and Kate get along living in the house together. After all, this house STARTED with Ana and Kate AND a Grey brother living in it, and it will END with Ana and Kate and a Grey brother living in it, JUST a different Grey brother! (Although, with the way things are going between Elliot and Gia, you just wonder if ELLIOT is going to suddenly show up in Cambridge!)

    But Kate needs to figure out what she wants before anyone ELSE gets hurt. She THINKS that she can be “just friends” with Elliot, but the way they are going about it right now will only hurt their current significant others. They do NOT need to set one another up for cheating allegations. And HURT people aren’t watchful or as aware of their surroundings, so I can see ANYTHING happening, and Kate being left to BLAME herself for how she left things with Carter. So future woe possibilities are on the horizon. . . .

    Lastly, LOVE that Ray DID grill Sawyer and that he was clearly honest about his OWN thoughts about Ana’s relationship with Christian (you just KNOW that Sawyer’s multiple firings came up! AND about how jealous and possessive that Christian can get. And Sawyer would have HAD to have hinted about ELENA and everything that Christian and Ana have overcome TOGETHER.). So Ray will have MUCH to think about in Montesano!

    But I HOPE Ray DOES get on base or somewhere soon, as I do NOT like him being all alone in a small town. Makes him an easy target, and the Conspiracy Head’s assets ARE far more in that part of the country.

    But really enjoyed this chapter, even with its ominous tones regarding Kate’s rather complicated and messy life! She NEEDS to figure out where her heart lies. AND preferably sooner rather than later. SAME GOES for Elliot, who clearly wants to be DONE with Gia.

    But you KNOW that Gia won’t go quietly. THAT is what I am worried about. At least while she had a CHANCE with Elliot, then she had a real reason to TRY to make peace with Ana. NOW, though, ESPECIALLY if she thinks ANA encouraged Kate in any way. . . .

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    1. Agreed! And Gia still has those stupid nude photos of Elliot too! 🤦‍♀️ And usually I am all for pissing off Gia but Elliot isn’t thinking things though, again.

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      1. Remember when Gia left her phone. ( thinking at the dress shop) Kate deleted those nude pictures of Elliott) and returned the phone to Gia. Katr friends from New York wanted her to put the pictures on a social media site or something to that affect and Elliott would think Gia did it, since it came crom her phone.

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      2. ^ Oh did she actually delete the photos? I thought she just deleted the instagram post but the photos were still on her phone! Well, that’s good news then!

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  4. I like so much that Christian is staying with her. i’m still not sure what I think of carter. I haven’t forgotten what a jerk he was their first year. and though I’d give that a pass in a 15-year-old, Carter was an adult so I’m not sure I trust him yet. Besides, I so want to see Kate and Elliot back together. I am so glad they are away from Ray though. I dislike him so much. macho jerk.

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  5. “The number one rule of love; you can never be just friends with someone that you’re in love with.”
    -Fad Ibra

    “Fathers and daughters have a special bond.
    She is always daddy’s little girl.”
    – Richard L. Ratliff

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  6. Umm I don’t like that Luke failed his NDA and spoke to Ray about Christian. I do believe Ray might have over stepped boundaries by asking Luke questions about Grey. If he’s going to have a good respectable relationship with Christian he needs to ask Christian himself. Luke could have been biased and say things from his perspective that he might not understand and paint Christian negatively. So don’t hate me Tara for this opinion of Ray and Luke. But on the other hand Kate is still hung up on Elliot as is Elliot and I hope this time around they do take the time to communicate with each other or hearts will be devastated again. This time even harder I think. I am a bit weary about Ana’s professor helping her with the book. I have always had a bad vibe with him. But if I was Ana I would forget Random House and Hamilton and go With Brick publishing. After all this drama today was a good smooth chapter thanks for that.

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    1. Ray openly (in front of Christian) previously stated that he wanted to talk to Sawyer. And the thing is, HOW would it look if Sawyer DIDN’T answer Ray’s questions? And Christian COULD have forbidden ANY of his staff to talk to Ray, but he wants a chance to have a GOOD relationship with his future father-in-law. So Christian took NO steps to intervene and forbid Sawyer from talking.

      This is a father asking for information about who his daughter intends to marry. He is NOT trying to get information on Christian to take to the press or hurt him. AND Christian is fixing to be a father of a daughter himself. Christian KNOWS how important Ray is to Ana, so Christian has ALLOWED his staff to be open with Ray and taken no steps to impede Ray’s information of him.

      So it is clearly not an issue for Ray to talk with Christian’s staff about him. And REMEMBER, trials are always OPEN to the public, if they are not in DSS court or sealed by the Court. So certain things about Elena and Christian WOULD be public record and in the newspaper. So many uncomfortable things in Christian’s life ARE now public, and I would think Christian would WANT staff to comment on the man THEY know and just how much he loves Ana. So trying to muzzle staff in ANY way would NEVER go well with Ray.

      And Ray trusts talking from one military man to another. And Sawyer IS the closest person to Ana outside of Kate, quite frankly. So allowing Sawyer to say ANYTHING uncensored to Ray about Ana would definitely be a PLUS to Ray and something Christian would approve of, as he WANTS Ray to know the depths of his feelings and commitment to Ana.

      And it sounds like Sawyer did NOT put things about Christian negatively. He was honest in his opinion. He has seen firsthand Christian’s temper (look at his many firings), BUT he has ALSO seen Christian’s willingness to CHANGE FOR THE BETTER for Ana. And he has CERTAINLY seen Ana’s love for Christian AND HOW THEIR RELATIONSHIP works for Ana. ALL things that Sawyer would have made SURE to point out to Ray.

      After all, at the end of the day, SAWYER PRIDES HIMSELF on being Ana’s BEST FRIEND. So he would WANT her happiness and would let Ray know that Ana has said repeatedly about what makes her happy AND knows her own mind. AND that she is not some girl unaware of her man’s issues. She knows and loves him anyway. AND makes Christian a better person for knowing her.

      As to the professor—would LOVE to know if he influenced things in any way with recent dealings with the publishing houses. I don’t see him having a REASON to go after Ana, quite frankly. AND he would have more Cambridge ties than Seattle ties, so I can’t seem him behind the Conspiracy. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean that SOME Harvard professor OR student might take payment to help the Conspiracy, if approached. It remains to be seen what actions the Conspiracy head will take with Ana AND Christian back in Cambridge together now, with additional security.

      And I think the amount of texting between Kate and Elliot is NOT a good thing at this time. NOT when the two are going behind their CURRENT relationships. That smacks of cheating. If they both care about their current relationships, then they need to let them know regarding their friendships. Because in Tara World, HOW MANY times have secret calls come back to bite someone in the proverbial rear end? ALL those calls from ELENA at all hours to Christian clued in Ana pretty fast that this person was important and a barrier to a relationship between ANA and Christian. And we all KNOW that Elena reached out to Christian via phone for what went down in ADSOF.

      So whenever secret texts and calls are involved, it has ALWAYS been an indication of something bad in BOTH of ADSOF and ABSOF. So Kate and Elliot need to LOOK to appearances and FOSTER TRUST with their significant others. OR if they can’t do that, then each needs to look at how SOUND their relationships REALLY are. I have talked ABOVE about the need for TRANSPARENCY where possible in relationships. And doing what Kate and Elliot are doing now is NOT good AND risks putting Ana in an awkward bad place. That is truly playing with fire, and you KNOW how people that do so get BURNED.

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  7. I like carter and Kate but not as much as Elliot and Kate I hope They get back together, glad there finally friends again at least lol. Loved the chapter can’t wait for next weeks update!!!!

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    1. Carter still has some immaturity about him that you see in some of the chapter interactions. But he DOES have Elliot’s style of a sense of humor. And you DO feel sorry for the guy, since he always seems to lose his woman to a Grey man.

      But yeah, deny it as I wish to (on account of still being mad/irritated at Elliot for the break-up in the first place and ESPECIALLY for bringing Gia around), Carter just doesn’t have that sense of clicking that Elliot and Kate clearly have. We really haven’t seen enough of just Carter and Kate, but the two of them seem to enjoy spending a good time together and playing games like beer pong and video games. I don’t know, but Carter really risks being the rebound man.

      But Carter HAS been a good friend to Ana, at least in ABSOF by actually ENCOURAGING her to talk things through with Christian, even though Christian was the guy that did EVERYTHING to e get Ana away from him. And I DO think Carter was interested in Ana, as much as he could care for a girl at that time.

      But it remains to be seen what happens. I can actually see Carter trying to do something noble in protecting Kate and/or Ana. However, I can also see Carter causing confusion if he and Kate break up. Sigh. We just have to wait and see. Something I am NOT good at! (I want to know NOW who Kate ends up with!)

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  8. Christian and Ana in Cambridge most ideal situation extra protection, being together everyday, share the aches and disconfort of her pregnancy and increase his feelings of responsibility for her and the baby. Parenting starts before the baby’s birth. Carter has his own place, maybe he should move back and free some space with added security being constantly around. Security is much needed at this point. Ana is back now and Kate does not need an extra companion in the house. Kate & Carter has to be more private now with their sexcapades in a crowded house. What will happen to the affairs between Elliott and Gia, Kate and Carter is becoming more interesting. Carter has declared his love for Kate but she has not committed. Elliott has cooled down on Gia and suspicious of her actions. Worth watching of the outcomes. Ana’s luck with three publishing companies sudden interest with her book either they recognize her talent as a writer or her name splash in the media. If Ana wants to read the news about her and the follow up on her abduction, no one can prevent her from doing so. It’s up to her to do it. News is available everywhere. Should Christian think about protecting Ray like the others in his family? There is no news that he is back in town, maybe he will stay under the radar. Good chapter just pleased Christian is with Ana at Cambridge just like they were when they started their relationship. Harvard is where they all started. Thank you, Tara.

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  9. I loved this nice fluffy chapter. I wonder what emerging new details they didn’t want Ana to see? Of course if she really wanted to know she could find out but I can understand about not wanting to think about it. It seems that Ray felt better after talking with Luke about Christian but I can only wonder how much Luke revealed. I think Kate making plans and texting Elliot seems somehow wrong when she claims she really likes Carter. Maybe because she lied to Carter about who she’s texting. It’s hard to imagine them being “just friends” after being in love with each other. I’m glad Christian has moved in with Ana for the time being. I can understand his reluctance of being so far away from her and the baby.

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    1. I don’t see Kate as having outright lied. But like you, I am uncomfortable with her OMISSION. If there WERE nothing to hide, or nothing that should make Carter uncomfortable, then Kate WOULD freely tell him. And to Carter, it WILL feel like a lie, since Kate would KNOW he would be upset about it, or she would have communicated OPENLY with him.

      And right now, Carter has told Kate he loves her. He believes he means it, and he should be treated better, quite frankly. Communicating with one’s Ex is ALWAYS a problem, ESPECIALLY if it is not done openly. So Kate is in rocky terrain here. And LOOK how much they are texting AND the effect it has on her. Carter CAN’T remain oblivious for long, and he WILL be hurt when he discovers it.

      But like you, I’m admittedly worried about everyone keeping the news reports/media coverage from Ana. I mean, WHY unless the media is somehow turning it around on ANA? So that IS bothersome for me. I wouldn’t want Ana accosted by some reporter asking her things that she is NOT prepared for.

      So I want to think the media thing is just to keep Ana from having to relive the trauma and NOT for some other reason. But like you said, if Ana really gets curious, there is nothing stopping her. She seems more than willing to NOT force the issue, and I would assume that Christian WOULD immediately tell her if the media really DID come up with anything.

      But I’m not liking the way Kate is handling things this chapter. She would HAVE to know that Carter WOULD be uncomfortable about her having this kind of relationship with Elliot, ESPECIALLY when she is making plans to maybe spend DAYS at a time in Elliot’s SOLE company. I mean, how stupid can you be? Would ANY person in a new relationship be comfortable with THAT amount of “friendly” contact, ESPECIALLY when the person you are dating is NOT forthcoming about it? AT LEAST Elliot TOLD everyone, INCLUDING GIA, that he was planning on spending time with Kate AND was communication with her. That is better than what Kate is doing to Carter.

      And we ALL remember how Carter handled Ana’s OPEN relationship/friendship wtih Christian. And AT LEAST Ana was honest about her contact with Christian, INCLUDING the kiss outside the diner. Yet Carter still issued the ultimatum, etc. IF Carter has matured and will trust Kate with her contact with an Ex, then all could be well. BUT NOT TELLING Carter about her contact wtih Elliot CANNOT be good and does NOT show trust and openness in a serious relationship that HAS to be there.

      Kate HAS to decide what she wants. AND be honest with Carter about how she feels. She ought to try to MINIMIZE the drama this close to graduation, AND USE THE TIME to see how she REALLY feels about a relationship wtih Carter moving forward. This WILL undoubtedly come to a head SOONER rather than later. And DRAMA with people running in and out of the house can be EXACTLY the type of thing that the Conspiracy Head will look for.

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      1. I agree that Kate and Carter needs to have a conversation. Please don’t forget this relationship with Kate and Carter has only been for a minute. They never said it was exclusive. They made out before putting any label on what they have. Before now Carter was someone who was taking care of Kate after the surgery. Kate has a right to datesx texts.

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  10. So many things going on in this chapter. Ray and Luke talking, I am not sure about that, what did Luke elude to? I am concern with Ray being in Montesano, sure he is Army but there is a asshole out there. Certainly Ray will give Christian a chance. This Ray is not warm and fuzzy at all.
    Elliot, Kate, Carter and Gia what a mess. It is all going to come to a head and when it does…boom!
    Where is Lelia…maybe really dead this time!

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  11. I have to agree with the other readers about Ray, I think he’s setting a bad tone for a future relationship with Christian. He seems to be going out of his way to tell Ana how much he likes Sawyer; is not hiding the fact that he’s digging for info on Christian from everyone except Christian himself; and anytime they do interact he’s very combative. He himself told Ana in the last chapter that it was Christian’s people who arranged for his early trip home, perhaps he should show a little more appreciation for that. I completely understand being a protective parent, but he has seen the measures Christian is taking to keep Ana safe, I think it’s time to layoff being the alpha male in Ana’s life and start getting to him rather than everyone else’s version of him. I hope Ana doesn’t let this go on for too long and sticks up for her man!

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    1. I may be wrong, but I think Ray WAS impressed wtih Christian dropping everything and moving to be with Ana for the remaining 8 weeks. I mean, NOTICE that Ray did NOT insist on coming on to Cambridge with them. And THAT says more to me than anything. He IS trusting Christian to make appropriate protective arrangements for his daughter, even if he doesn’t say so openly.

      Ray has had to go back to his small home town ALONE. He always just assumed he would return home and that he and Ana BOTH would return to Montesano. That has to be hard to know that isn’t going to be happening. He can see that Ana actually LIVES with Christian. She has her OWN life. And he missed ALL of that.

      And Sawyer would be honest. Remember, Sawyer has at times encouraged Ana to leave Christian. His first loyalty is to ANA, not Christian. But the fact that he stays EMPLOYED by Christian says EVERYTHING, even to Ray. After all, Sawyer COULD have tried for a security job at Harvard like he originally planned to do. Sawyer always intended to come back to Cambridge with Ana. But he has stayed employed by Christian AND did what he did in ASSOF to SAVE Christian BECAUSE he knew that Christian made Ana happy.

      And the above is what I assume he told Ray. Christian is still the “rich boy” to Ray. I really think Ana NEEDS to tell him about Christian’s history, even the Elena parts, to help Ray understand what all Christian has gone through. And let’s face it, FROM THE TIME HE REALIZED that he loved Ana, there has been NO ONE else for Christian.

      Christian is not military and is not the man that Ray would have picked out, obviously. He didn’t get the chance to MEET Christian before his baby girl dated him. Ana has lived this whole dramatic LIFE without him, and that is STILL so hard for Ray to accept instantly. ESPECIALLY when he goes home to Montesano to see his little girl’s room JUST like he left it before she left for Harvard.

      And Tara has NOT mentioned anything yet, BUT I SUSPECT Christian has paid to have people take care of the lawn and things like that, KNOWING how much it upset Ana to see the house being neglected in her daddy’s absence. I mean, Christian mowed the lawn while they were there. AND REMEMBER, many of the residents that Ray has known actually got the chance to meet Christian when Ana brought him to the home town. So HOPEFULLY, Ray will hear more things about the two of them being happy around town when they were there. And SOME of those people commented to ANA that they had seen the INTERVIEW on television. So I would think Ray will look it up on the internet or get someone to show it to him.

      And Ana WILL stick up for Christian, undoubtedly, if Ray doesn’t warm up to him. But for NOW, she understands what he must be feeling. And Christian WILL as well, AS SOON as he holds Calliope in his arms. So we HAVE to hope that TIME will help.

      After all, Ray LOVES his daughter. He WILL get over his own disappointment of NOT having more time with her because he is NOT Carla. He will NOT make this about him, the way Carla would. Seeing Ana happy will make all the difference in the world.

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  12. I think Ray is taking his stance a bit too far; after all, Christian has gone above and beyond in his efforts to prove himself worthy of respect.

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  13. Glad to see a bit of normalolity back. As much as i love Eliott shes too good for him in this story. He is using her sometimes you just have to let go of the people you love before they hurt you any more. Carter is a keeper. Luke is a true friend to Ana im sure her dad valued his opinion on Christain.

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    1. And Ray let it be known that Luke DOES think that this IS the right path FOR ANA for her to have happiness and everything she wants. He would be able to tell Ray about how happy the two are together and how hard it was for Ana to be apart from Christian.

      And Christian understood Ana’s dream to complete her Harvard education and HAS supported it, even though it caused him pain to be away from her. And Ray can’t help but see JUST how much the Grey family loves and accepts Ana. And I’m sure Sawyer probably gave Ray SOME clue about just how deep that family love and devotion goes for Ana.

      And Ray already seemingly likes Grace AND Elliot. He sees them as good people, and these people are CHRISTIAN’S family. The family closeness will go in Christian’s FAVOR, especially when you realize that Ana is CLEARLY BELOVED by the future in-laws. That is certainly a blessing, as anyone will tell you that has THOSE kind of in-laws that are constantly interfering and unaccepting of their kid’s choice for a partner.

      And I, too, LOVE that sense of normality, even if we know it can’t last. We have 8 weeks left of Ana and Kate’s Harvard career. And KATE is clearly enjoying still doing the college party scene before she has to leave it for good. Hopefully, though, she now has reasons to stay HOME as well, with Ana back. (Quite frankly, I DON’T want Kate dragging Ana out too much. PLEASE let them stick close to campus and home right now. Because I don’t think for a minute that the Conspiracy has given up!)

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  14. Sorry to be a bit negative but the Ana/Christian power dynamic is creeping into very unbalanced territory for me. Ana seems to me to be overly spoiled I guess? Christian has no standing in any decision. All Ana has to do is think about reaching for the door and he caves. And she knows he caves every time. He bends over backward to make her happy but to me she seems entirely focused on herself and her feelings. This has bothered me for a while but as an example, why is she going to Harvard at all? It seems like she applied there with no idea how it was going to be financed. Ray literally goes to war to pay for her to go to this great school and she says I feel really bad but ok. Why couldn’t she go to a more affordable school? I would never even think of applying for something I could obviously never pay for and yet expect someone else to pay for it. This is not coming out the way I mean it, obviously I am not the writer here! And this is one of my favorite stories, Mondays don’t come fast enough! I guess the amount of power she has over him seems to be out of whack for any type of good relationship but then this is not real life. And I no longer know what point I was trying to make.

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    1. Since she was little, Ana wanted to go to Harvard. And she DID get scholarships to go there, she just didn’t have enough. And Ray, wanting her to have her dreams, wanted to make this happen for her. He did NOT want his little girl to that she was too poor to get her ultimate dream, NOT when he could make it come true for her. HE KNEW her potential. And we HAVE seen Ana’s business sense and capability in running SIP without having to run to Christian—look how she handled the book printing mistake BY HERSELF. She was WORTH the sacrifices.

      YES, what Ray did is a big sacrifice to make. And might even have cost his life. And THAT is why Ana hasn’t been willing to just walk away from Harvard for the convenience of her relationship wtih Christian. REMEMBER, Ana is the FIRST in her family to go to college. RAY WANTED to make this sacrifice for her.

      Tara’s stories have ALL centered around the SACRIFICES we make for those we love. Some have been good sacrifices, like what Ray did for Ana. Other sacrifices proved disastrous, such as Christian’s reasoning behind taking Elena’s deal.

      But it all comes down to the SACRIFICES that we are willing to make for those we love the MOST. For Ray, being unable to afford his daughter’s DREAM would have about killed him. So he did what he did.

      And Ana could have MOVED ON from Christian, but she CHOSE to go through a lot of soul-searching and moving on from her pain in order to understand where Christian was coming from. Although she wanted Christian back, she ORIGINALLY picked up that phone to talk to him for ELLIOT and the Grey family, after hearing about the disastrous birthday dinner.

      And, quite frankly, you have to say the “I” in “I love you” first. Meaning, you have to love and respect yourself AND stand up for your dreams before you can be there for the other person. I LOVE that Tara’s Anastasia knows what she wants but thinks of others as well. Ana is trying to be there for EVERYONE in her life, and she has certainly sacrificed a lot. Carrick and Grace adore her as a result. Christian was becoming JUST the selfish egotistical person Elena wanted him to be, obsessed wtih power and control. ANA has made him the better person BECAUSE she has taught him to let some of that control go and TRULY SHARE his life with Ana.

      It really is all in how you look at it. Ana could have refused Ray’s sacrifice, but she would have hurt them both. Ana should not have to sacrifice her dream because of a lack of money. And Ray is SO PROUD of having made Ana’s dream come true. THAT is a true parent’s LOVE. And SEEING WHAT ANA has also sacrificed in learning how to love and live with Christian shows that she LEARNED that lesson well.

      But Ana never asked for Christian to come to Cambridge for those 8 weeks. But YES, I LOVE that a billionaire can decide that SOME THINGS ARE worth MORE than a company and money. And with computers and the internet, Christian does NOT have to be in Seattle, and he can still travel.

      AND DON’T FORGET that Ana WAS willing to leave Harvard EARLY when Carrick received his diagnosis in order to be with Christian. And he really deeply wanted to let Ana make that sacrifice. But he KNEW how important Harvard was to Ana AND HER FATHER, and he wanted to make her dreams come true.

      And that HAS been a past problem with Christian—he wanted to think he could BUY happiness. His emphasis was on giving Ana THINGS when she ever only wanted HIM. She always maintained that he could have done everything on his own to start his company WITHOUT Elena, and she told him how PROUD she was for him accomplishing his dreams. I think you fail to realize how much BOTH Christian AND Ana have learned in SACRIFICING certain things and what it takes to REALLY have a good and lasting relationship. And BOTH have put in the work AND LEARNED TO SACRIFICE FOR ONE ANOTHER.

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      1. I guess I just don’t see Ana making any sacrifices in my view. What has she given up? She has everything she wanted. The sacrifice that Ray makes is way beyond. If I were Ana, despite wanting to go to a specific school (and isn’t getting the degree itself more important than where it came from?), I never would have agreed to go if Ray enlisted to pay for it. What if he had died there? Would it still be worth being able to say she went to Harvard? I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, I love the story but she sometimes rubs me the wrong way with an entitled attitude and demeanor. She is extremely dismissive and kind of mean girlish about anyone she doesn’t want around (Gia for example although Gia is a total bag and deserves what she gets, Ana didn’t know that and never gave her any opportunity to be anything else. She wasn’t Kate and that is all Ana needed to know) She used to live with Elliot, he is going to be her brother in law and she has completely blanked him because she disagrees with his life. I just don’t feel much empathy or consideration from her regarding others and their feelings. But in most stories, I can’t stand Kate and she doesn’t bother me much at all in this one for some reason. Elliot is a stupidhead but he isn’t being malicious with it, just dumb so I like him too.

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      2. I really don’t feel like you’re reading this story. First, Ana has made a lot of sacrifices. She spent the entire last book on the edge of being torn apart (emotionally and mentally), fighting for her love for Christian and to save him from Elena. She’s is a very loyal person who often puts herself aside to be what the people she loves needs. Take Kate in ADSOF when she made herself anything Kate needed her to be, did everything Kate needed so that she could feel safe after she was attacked. Or Mia, who she treated like an adult and listened to to acutally try and help her in ABSOF when no one else would and ultimately ended up being the one to save her and help her tell her family what had happened to her. Despite her insistence on finishing school, she was willing to give that up when she thought Christian was on the verge of fighting for his life in court at the end of ABSOF AND when Carrick had been first diagnosed. Your argument is that she’s selfish because she went to a school that she dreamed about since she was a child? That she worked hard to get into and that she’s proved over and over again that she deserves to be at? All because the grants and scholarships she EARNED left her a little short? You don’t think her Dad made this plan before she even applied? Do you think that she did all of this behind his back and sprung it on him one day like, “Hey Dad! I got into Harvard! Figure out a way to pay for it!” There’s even a part in the early chapters of ADSOF where she thought she should have gone to UW, but Ray wouldn’t hear about it. This is what he wanted to do to give his daughter her dreams, he would have spent the rest of his life filled with regret had he let Ana not follow her dreams when he knew he could have made them a reality. And no, not all degrees are created equal. Do you think a company is going to give the same preference or consideration to someone who goes to state college over someone who graduated from an Ivy League school? Of course not. If that were true, why would anyone pay the price of an Ivy League school when you could go to a local college and have it mean exactly the same thing? I think you’re arguing that Ana actually thinking about herself, bettering herself, and achieving something she’s dreamed of so that she can feel accomplished and proud of herself is selfish and that is extraordinarily sad and misguided.

        Also, you want to know what has Ana given up? How about most of her college experience? She doesn’t do study groups anymore, nor does she go out with her friends, she left a job at the library that she loved because she was giving her time to Christian instead. This is the time in most young people’s life where they get to be carefree, have fun, make mistakes… she doesn’t do any of that, she gave that up for Christian and it’s been hard for her in the past. If Ana makes a mistake, the entire world will know about it and it will reflect badly on Christian who is “too big to fail”. Always being concerned about that, that’s a sacrifice. She’s also given up all anonymity to the public and that originally stood in the way of her publishing the book she poured her soul into for two years and has also lead to her being stalked by the paparazzi on multiple occasions, nearly got her expelled from Harvard, and caused her to be attacked and held at knife point in the most terrifying moment of her life. Ana makes sacrifices, Christian makes sacrifices. They both do everything they can to make their relationship work.

        As for Gia, Ana did give her a chance. Gia never deserved a chance. The first time Gia ever spoke to Ana one on one, she basically told her that she was going after Christian. And still to this day, Ana is only antagonistic to or about Gia when Gia is attacking Kate. Even though she has suspicions, as does Christian and her entire security team, that she’s part of the group of people who tried to kidnap/threatened to murder her and her unborn child. Geez.

        Your argument about her turning on Elliot is wrong. Literally, I don’t even know where you’re getting that from. When did Ana every do or say anything against Elliot? In the last chapter when Gia approached her, she said that she would work on things for Gia BECAUSE of Elliot and because she wanted Elliot to be happy. I’m actually baffled where you’re getting that from.

        And as for your argument that Christian seems to bend to her will, I don’t particularly see what you’re seeing? What has Ana ever really put her foot down over? Going to school? How is that a bad thing? She’s not in anymore danger in Cambridge, that was made clear in Chapter 29 (in fact, her entire security and Leila– who is part of the conspiracy– agree that she’s SAFER in Cambridge). She’s not neglecting her responsibility to her baby, she does everything her doctors tell her to do, she flies across the country twice a week to allow Christian to experience as much of her pregnancy as possible without sacrificing what she wants, and she has framed her entire view of the future after her daughter. So Christian went to Cambridge with her, that’s amazing of him. But would it have been better or less “selfish” of her had she locked herself up in Escala until she had the baby, sitting around pondering all the things she’s lost in life and slowly growing to resent Christian when literally everyone, again including her security team, was telling her to go back to Cambridge and back to school?

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      3. ^ Dianeca:

        Respectfully, I completely disagree. I honestly can’t even believe that you wrote that ‘Ana never gave Gia a chance’. I’m not sure that we are reading the same story. Are you referring to the same Gia who after being introduced to Ana proceeded to flirt with Christian in front of both her & Elliot to the point that it made Ana uncomfortable? The same Gia who insulted Kate in her own home without any provocation and was again flirty and touchy felt with Christian? And even AFTER those displays Ana was still nice & considerate towards Gia since she was dating Elliot. She literally even went so far as to order Gia special food to make her more comfortable on Christmas morning. But then Gia turned around and again insulted Kate without any provocation and then insinuated to Ana that she would be sleeping with Christian. Are we talking about the same Gia who JUST admitted that she did in fact plot to steal Christian away from his pregnant girlfriend/fiancé while she was dating his brother? And yet Ana is STILL trying to be nice to Gia to create harmony. And like Tara said, this is after Gia is being investigated for links to Ana’s attempted kidnapping. If it turns out that Gia is involved with the conspiracy (which I do not doubt at this point) do you think that she just decided to become involved because she feels that Ana didn’t ever give her a chance? No, she has plotted from the beginning the best way to get close to the Grey Family and get Ana out of the way in order to get to Christian.

        And why are you only mentioning Ana in regards to not liking Gia? Are you forgetting that Mia HATED her from the beginning? Or that Carrick was suspicious from the start? Or that even Grace is fed up with her bs drama? Or that her own boyfriend is sick of her? It’s not Ana influencing the others into not liking Gia, it’s Gia’s own actions. She causes drama everywhere she goes and makes it to where no one even wants to be around her.

        Both Tara and ToriK hit the nail on the head when writing about how selfless and loving Ana is so I can’t really add to that. But I will just say that it’s not Ana being selfish when she went to Harvard. A real parent will do whatever they can to give their children the best opportunity available and to make their dreams come true. My parents worked hard and saved their entire adult lives to send my brothers and me to college (both public & private) and they wouldn’t have had it any other way. It meant a great deal to them to be able to do that for their children. And just like both Tara & ToriK wrote above, Ana worked hard to get into Harvard and earned scholarships on her own merit but it just wasn’t quite enough. It wasn’t Ana being selfish and making Ray have to risk himself. Ray wanted to be able to help and wouldn’t have taken no for an answer because he wanted to be able to do that for her.

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    2. I get it why did she have to go to Harvard when there are less expensive universities! Ray had to go overseas to be able to pay for her schooling. I guess it is all part of the Great TARA Plan has for her stories.

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      1. I’m not trying to disrespect you or the story but just stating what I am seeing in it. That does not mean everyone will. Overall, it has been a really good story and I have enjoyed reading it. You are very talented. I just can’t see how anything Ana does is a sacrifice when she ends up getting everything she wants. As far as giving up her college experience, didn’t she have all that when she and C were separated? It’s not like she completely missed out on it, she had it and moved on from it to something new. (or old as the case may be!).

        As far as the Ray thing, I will never understand allowing someone you love to put their life on the line for a degree no matter where it came from. I would never allow anyone to do that for me but this is a story so why not.

        As far as Elliot goes, I didn’t say she turned on him but she has barely even spoken to him since Kate, let alone provide any support to him. Not saying she should have to but going from living in the same house to barely speaking to him is a bit harsh. I liked the friendship they had going and that seems to be missing. He really hasn’t done anything wrong other than find someone other than Kate. (other than what he is doing now to Gia with Kate).

        I think it would have been unselfish of her to find another way (online, etc.) to finish the last 8 weeks. It is only eight weeks and I don’t see why she would resent anyone when much of the time would be exams (I have no idea, never went to university but I assume maybe wrongly) and studying at home. She probably won’t be able to go to parties or whatever whether she is there or not so why not make it as easy as possible for everyone?

        I am becoming repetitive and don’t mean to. It was just some thoughts I had about the story. I have to admit I tend to dislike Ana in most of the stories I have read. Some characters just do not resonate well. I guess my personality and hers would clash in real life. Oddly enough in the first story, I didn’t feel like this at all. I don’t mean to offend you at all and sorry if I have.

        I really do enjoy the story and look forward to Monday purely for this!

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      2. Ana suffered for two years after the trial in ADSOF. Two years. Yes, she lived like the typical college student and partied but that was her trying to stick a bandaid on a wound. It’s not like she gets everything handed to her at the snap of her finger, she has had her fair share of suffering.

        And as for the change in Ana & Elliot’s relationship the same could be said for Elliot. When is the last time that he just called out of the blue to speak with her or see how she was doing? Ana and Elliot were close when they lived together but they will obviously have some distance living 3000 miles apart when he has work and she has school full time. That will probably change once Ana is back in Seattle for good.

        And it’s probably more about Ana resenting herself if she doesn’t finish her college career. I can say from experience that taking college classes online is VERY different to taking classes on campus. It’s not just about the parties and things like that. It’s about soaking up as much information in as short amount of time as you can. It’s about the atmosphere. She worked hard to get where she is and she would regret it later if she didn’t push to finish it like she planned. At first I was hoping that she would stay in Seattle and finish her classes online but I’m very glad that she decided to go back to Cambridge. Her mental health is the most important thing to consider when making the Cambridge vs Seattle argument. She could spend the next few months locked away in their ivory tower while everyone seems to be moving forward but that isn’t healthy. Besides, it’s a moot point since Cambridge is safer than Seattle anyway.

        And I do want to point out that at first Ana was willing to stay in Seattle because Christian said that he couldn’t let her go. She wanted to return to Cambridge but also wanted to make him happy. But you can’t always please everyone and sometimes you just need to do what is best for you. And Christian understands that which is why he wanted to go with her.

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  15. OMG! ELLIOT IS TEXTING KATE ABOUT FIGHTING WITH GIA? I HATE GIA ANTWAY. BUT WILL KATE AND ELLIOT GET BACK TOGETHER? I DON’T KNOW ABOUT THAT. CARTER SAYS HE LOVES KATE. DOES ELLIOT STILL LOVE KATE? HE’S TAKING HER SAILING OR OUT ON THE GRACE FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS… HMMM.. THAT WILL KILL GIA AND PROBABLY CARTER TOO. I’M GLAD RAY IS HOME FOR GOOD. HE DOES LOVE HIS ANA. AS DOES CHRISTIAN! WELL ANA WILL BE WELL PROTECTED THIS TIME. IF THE MEDIA DOESN’T TELL ALL ABOUT HER GOING BACK TO SCHOOL.. THANKS FOR THIS GREAT UPDATE. CAN’T WAIT FOR MORE!

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  16. Funny how now that Elliot knows that Kate is moving on and she’s happy him and Gia are constantly fighting when before they were all in love . Could it be that now he is trying to breakup with Gia 🤔🤔 I wonder how Gia will feel when she finds out that Elliot texts Ng Kate letting her know that there is trouble in their relationship but also how will Carter feel about it too

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  17. Maybe I’m wrong, but I have the suspicion that Ray stayed away in Montesano to do his own digging about the whole issues, using his connections and the fact that he’s unknown to almost everyone in Seattle and Cambridge. It wouldn’t surprise me if he has someone looking over Ana, without Taylor and company knowing. I do think that he’s warming up to Christian after his talk with Sawyer, by the way he talked to him before they boarded the plane. Ana did forewarned Christian of what Ray might do about a background check, it’s the same thing that Christian probably did to him.
    I’m a little concerned about the sudden change of the publishing companies about Ana’s book. Weren’t those companies the ones that asked her to publish the book under a pen name? That her name was associated with what happened to Christian or something like that. Did Christian had anything to do with it, I hope not.
    I don’t like what Kate’s doing right now with Elliot and Carter, to me it feels like cheating. In my opinion she should talk to Carter and tell him the truth, that she’s not ready for a serious relationship right now with him or anyone. She has to remember that Elliot’s with Gia now, and he didn’t cared to start a relationship with her only two months after they broke up. I feel like Elliot is playing both bases right now, if he’s missing Kate he should break up with Gia, but is he ready to accept the fact that Kate wants to get married and have kids? Does he wants that too? I hope he does after the talk he had with Ray at Bellevue. Thank you Tara.

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    1. THAT’S my worry as well—that what Kate is doing smacks of cheating.

      Kate is trying to rationalize it that she is being “just friends” with Elliot. BUT if it was ONLY that, then she would openly inform Carter of it. GO BACK to ADSOF and ALL of Kate’s advice to Ana on Carter and Christian. If ANA was doing the same thing, she would DEFINITELY speak up against it. (Remember all her “dump him” comments to Ana if she didn’t FEEL anything for Carter?)

      But Kate is blinded by the old feelings for Elliot that haven’t truly gone away, it would seem. And AT LEAST Elliot WAS open with the WHOLE Grey family AND Gia about communicating AND MAKING PLANS with Kate for when she gets back to Seattle.

      And Carter has been THROUGH all this before with Christian and Ana. You would think that Kate would be more sensitive. But Kate is trying to RATIONALIZE it all in her trying to be there for Elliot AS A FRIEND without thinking this through AT ALL. She needs to figure out WHAT SHE REALLY WANTS. And the SAME applies to Elliot.

      I’m also concerned about the PUBLISHING COMPANIES. And WHY do I have a feeling that I am ALSO concerned with how the media is handling Ana’s kidnapping as well? I mean, TOO MANY people DON’T want Ana to see what is being written about her. AFTER ALL, we have NO IDEA about what kind of PRESS CONTACTS the Conspiracy Head has.

      I’m more worried about Ray being alone at Montesano. I mean, GIA KNOWS about Ray being back, and if there ARE any security leaks, then that knowledge is out there. And Ray would NOT take security, I’m sure of it, thinking he can handle himself. So that WORRIES me, I do admit. After all, Montesano is a small town NEAR Seattle, where the Conspiracy Head STILL has his greatest influence. And Christian has put MORE security on all the other Grey family members, so Ray could be an obvious target.

      I’m anxiously waiting to see what the Conspiracy Head does next. I believe Leila IS correct in that she HAS divided his attention, for the time being. Mr. Conspiracy Head will want Leila dead before he moves on to the next phase, because Leila could out his name. So it is a RACE AGAINST TIME to see WHO finds Leila first. (I mean, HOW does Christian think Taylor can find Leila in Cambridge, UNLESS they suspect Leila will head there as well? Again, stuff to think about.)

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      1. Tori, I’m with you about Leila. I’m surprised by how she has outsmarted the conspiracy people and Christian’s people too. I hope that she’s smart enough to hide evidence of their doings, and have it delivered to Christian or someone safe, in case that something happens to her. I don’t say to the police because she admitted that HE had bought some of them. I don’t know why, but I’m not afraid of something happening to Ray…..yet. He’s supposed to go to the National Guard Reserve for some time to make up for his early retirement, where he will probably meet some of his comrades-in-arms…… Perhaps I’m overthinking, again.

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      2. GigiM,

        From the moment Leila discovered Ana was pregnant and first warned her, I think Leila planned her escape strategy. She even made sure to deliberately park her car near Ana’s home in order to keep security for Ana on high alert, and ALL without the Conspiracy Head realizing she had changed allegiances, so to speak.

        So Leila has HAD to be planning her defection for awhile and how she would stay alive. She even seemingly sought redemption FIRST by saving Ana and telling her how to hide and evade the Conspiracy Head. YET despite not working with the Conspiracy Head anymore, Leila was STILL too frightened of HIM to give Ana a name. But Leila would HAVE to know that the Conspiracy Head would seek to execute her the moment he realized her disloyalty.

        Leila told Ana she “deserved what she got.” But like the Leila in the original EL James’ books, Tara’s Leila seems equally hard to catch. I LOVE that Tara has taken that aspect of Leila’s character (the girl that could seemingly go anywhere and see anything without being caught, like a ghost) and preserved it in her version.

        The Leila from the EL James works really wasn’t ever caught until she wanted to be. However HERE, Leila RECOGNIZES that she WILL be hunted by the Conspiracy Head and executed if caught. So KNOWING that there was a REAL CHANCE that she might die horribly, Leila HOPEFULLY began planning a way to make her death COUNT, meaning she stashed away what incriminating evidence she could that would get sent to Ana and/or Christian SOMEHOW.

        So I think Leila has SOME sort of plan to do more for Ana before dying. It remains to be seen. And she has AT LEAST divided the Conspiracy’s forces, as you KNOW her being on the loose and knowing SO MUCH about the Conspiracy means that he HAS to try to kill her before she can reveal anything.

        I ALSO worry about Ray being alone at Montesano and not appreciating the FULL force and determination of the Conspiracy Head. YES, Ray must still do 6 more weeks in the guard, so if he doesn’t show at a particular time, we can KNOW what that signifies.

        I mean, Ray could think he was showing up for a carpenter job to some building and be snatched by the Conspiracy Head easily enough, in my opinion. As we know, Andrew Lincoln used to own a timber company and would have business contacts that could CLAIM to have a sub-contractor job for Ray. (Hey, they could even use a seemingly LEGIT person like GIA to make the offer for Ray to show up for said carpenter job. And since Gia works for Grey Construction, Ray would never think a thing about it.)

        So RAY and LEILA are people to watch right now, for multiple reasons. Both WILL re-enter the story soon, I feel sure. (And I have a BAD feeling about Gia, as the above also implies.)

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  18. LMAO first Ana gets caught with her hand down Christian’s pant by her father and then Kate gets caught by Ana and Christian in her living room getting it on with Carter naked no less. When Christian wouldn’t take Carters hand to shake and told him the reason why, I almost fell off my chair.

    Does Ray know yet that Christian paid off all of Ana’s school?

    Sure Kate and Elliott are just friends. BUT if they go away for the weekend together I have a feeling that they are going to come back a whole lot more than just friends. Because those two know what to do when it comes to benefits. 😉

    So now the big question – was Christian right in his theory that those publishers want Ana because her manuscript is really, really good or for some other reason?

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    1. I LOVE Christian’s faith in humanity and publishers, but I don’t believe in coincidences, ESPECIALLY now. ALL THREE publishers at the SAME time, right after Ana was kidnapped? There is obvious sympathy for Ana now, AND she is the pregnant baby mama of a billionaire, who has a company that belongs solely to HIM, not to some board of directors. So Ana’s NAME, or the fact that she is presumably going to be changing it soon, may be the tipping point.

      Hopefully, Ana won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. BUT it remains to be seen AND if the deals are as good as they seem. We will just have to wait and see.

      And Ray also went back to Montesano to find out what he is going to do with his life NOW that he is home and how he will finance his life. He doesn’t know YET, in my opinion, that he has some money to work with, given that Christian paid for Ana’s schooling for the last couple of years. That will be INTERESTING how Ray handles that. That was HIS SACRIFICE and something he was VERY proud of doing for HIS daughter. He may react differently than Christian expects. I can see Ray being miffed that Christian just paid the money easily, when Ray meant it to be HIS sacrifice for HIS daughter. Christian may have stepped on some PROUD toes—it just remains to be seen.

      (And I haven’t even BEGUN to think how Ray will REACT about WHO pays for the wedding. Let’s all hope Ray HAS made peace with Christian soon, or it is about to get dicey!)

      And the whole Elliot and Kate thing is a wasp’s nest fixing to explode. I’m just waiting to see who all gets stung and if it is fatal, so to speak. While no one really likes Gia, she does NOT deserve to be treated like something that Elliot can play with at his leisure, no matter WHAT he assumes about her. Elliot NEEDS to decide what he wants and to fight for it.

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      1. That’s why I’m concerned, because those publishers were the ones that didn’t want to publish the book before, remember that meeting with Dr. Ralston, were he said that they would publish it but under a pen name because there was too much publicity about them going on at the time, she asked him if that wasn’t good and he said no. Then he told her that they wanted her to write a TELL ALL book about Christian, or something like that. I don’t remember the chapter number.
        I’m with you about Ray’s reaction to knowing that Christian paid Ana’s tuition to Harvard for the last two years. I hope that he sees the good intention behind it and doesn’t let his pride prevail. I know that Ana didn’t want to worry him, but she left too many things out of her letters, and now Ray is confronted with all this things and it’s understandable for him to feel a little aloof. I noticed and I’m wondering why Ray didn’t called her Annie as he has always called her, is he mad with her because all those things she left out?
        In a way I’m sorry for Carter, because when it comes to girlfriends, he has been outdone twice by a Grey.

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  19. OHMYGOSH I’m so sorry, I’ve been the absolute complete worst about reviewing! I got a little behind and then binge read and was just super lame about reviewing! Sorry!!
    But this, and the last couple of chapters have just been amazing! 🙂
    I love that Ray was able to come home. That melted my freaking heart. Holy shit! While I understand that he doesn’t want to be besties with Christian, it was kind of sad to see how much he really didn’t like Christian…especially because Christian tries so hard and it is SO ABUNDANTLY clear how much he loves Ana. So that’s a little sad.
    I’m unsure how I feel about Luke and Ray’s talk…while I’m glad that he told ray how much christian loves Ana and how much he would do for her…idk it just left me feeling a little unsettled
    I know Gia wasn’t in this chapter, but I forgot to review the last time we saw her…so my thoughts on her: GTFO. God. Can’t stand her. Her speech to Ana was fake and I honestly can’t deal with her bullshit. Eww!
    I love Kate. I just love her. While I may be looking at her a little disapproving for texting Elliot…I really don’t think Carter is right for her. He seems good enough on paper, but, at least to me, it seems like Kate’s with him because he’s safe. He loves her, or so he says, and it seems like she’s not going to get hurt being with him. But I don’t get the passionate and soulmate type of relationship I saw when she was with Elliot…everyone deserves to have their soulmate, and I just don’t think that’s Carter for Kate. Besides, I think “seeing” them have sex, kind of made me a little weirded out by them again lol
    BUT, this was such an amazing chapter and im going to try hard to review again! 🙂

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    1. EXACTLY, it is the WAY Kate chose to respond to Carter with sex. Like it was NOT for meaning, but to distract him from the fact that she did NOT say it back. That their relationship is Fun and based on THAT, rather than actual sentiment. And if Carter DOES truly love Kate, then I feel for him.

      And I am GLAD that Kate didn’t say something that she does NOT feel. But she and Carter act like BUDDIES. I mean, they play video games and beer pong and get drunk together at parties. This kind of relationship is more the FUN kind of relationship, the very thing that Elliot, TOO, seems to think can SOMEHOW fill the HOLE in one’s life that one’s soulmate previously filled.

      So Kate seems to be inevitably repeating Elliot’s mistakes, but I think Kate genuinely TRIED to make a relationship with Carter work. I just DON’T see the SERIOUSNESS in it. He just seems more and more to be a rebound guy. AND KATE WAS THE ONE TO TELL ANA in ADSOF to not keep investing MONTHS in a relationship that is NOT going anywhere, and that she SHOULD know, deep down, how she felt.

      And sadly, Carter may actually be doing the SAME thing with Kate. I think ABSOF showed us all that Carter really DID come to know and love Ana. He actually spent the time getting to know her as a SERIOUS friend and STILL carried a torch for her, over three years later. ONLY to realize he still lost to Christian.

      BUT the Carter in ABSOF handled Ana’s revelations MUCH better than he ever did in ADSOF and even ENCOURAGED her to mend things with Christian, if she loved him. He had come to ADMIRE Ana, and if he truly DID love her, than Kate MAY be a way, deep down, for him to still be involved in Ana’s life.

      I think Sawyer may be more like Carter than even HE would be willing to admit. Sawyer loves Ana like family, and he also truly wants her happy. Sawyer is devoted to Ana, sees her like family, and would die for her, rather it was his job or not. Sawyer clearly has issues with trying to develop meaningful relationships with women, but Ana is his FAMILY now.

      So I’m not sure what Carter REALLY feels. When seeing his interactions with Kate, it just seems to be focused on fun and partying. Carter seems an in-the-moment-now kind of guy.

      But I think Gia AND Carter are both going to have REAL problems with this “friendship” between Kate and Elliot. To be openly making plans with your EX to spend time ALONE with them, for days at a time? Would ANYONE like to volunteer THEIR significant other to do the SAME kind of thing with their Ex? Of course not.

      Carter may be unwilling to just lose his friends that he has had for so long. He WANTS to have some kind of relationship to remain in their lives. Sigh. Only time will tell who REALLY feels what for whom. BUT a DAY OF RECKONING should be coming soon. It can’t continue to go on like this without some MAJOR arguing fixing to commence!

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      1. I was just wondering? Has Kate and Carter ever prior to this chapter put a label per say on their relationship? I never thought it was serious and felt it was a rebound for both Carter and Kate. I know it’s 2017 however, I don’t think I could have a serious relationship with someone who had a secret crush on my bestie for three years. I just don’t think or see until death do us apart here. I was under the impression that Carter was helping Kate recover from her kidney surgery. I don’t remember them dating. We all know why they went to Cabo.

        I don’t want to be insensitive here. They ‘re in college, she shouldn’t have to tell Carter who she speaks with or texts. Lets not forget Kate and Elliott was in a committed relationship (livimg together for three years) which Carter knows. I guess I’m not understandings. I have always been for Kate and Elliott. I just find that Carters goes from Ana to Kate very quickly. Something appears to me to be off with Carter. He has a needs to be in the mix.

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      2. CAmilleis,

        You make some good points. However, I think Carter seems to think there IS a “label” to his relationship with Kate. And based on past history in ADSOF, even Kate is coming to realize that she SHOULD know how she feels about Carter by this time.

        I am judging Kate by her OWN advice and standards that she used to give relationship advice to Ana in ADSOF. Kate told Ana not to invest months in a relationship with Carter if she didn’t feel something real for him. Kate also scolded Ana for supposedly being in a relationship with Carter yet hanging around Christian at a party.

        Fast forward to ASSOF and Kate, herself, indicated that she was thinking of having a real relationship with Carter post-surgery. He really had helped to take care of her as a friend and wanted more, and she also talked to Ana about sleeping with Carter “for real” once she was well. So Kate saw herself as trying to form a “real” relationship with Carter.

        And Kate knows that Carter has already lost to a Grey brother before AND that it was caused by him making an Ultimatum to Ana regarding not being friends with Christian while being in an actual relationshp with him. So Kate KNOWS that when Carter wants a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, he expects it to be exclusive. And we saw him and Ana have that same relationship exclusivity talk back in ADSOF. So my ASSUMPTION is that Kate and Carter have decided on having an exclusive relationship.

        But like you said, we simply don’t KNOW for sure what Kate and Carter have actually talked about. HOWEVER, once someone says “I love you,” then that tends to say where they want the relationship to go. After all, you DON’T say “I love you” to someone and expect them to date around. So if they HAVEN’T had that exclusivity talk yet, then it NEEDS to happen, based on all the “relationship advice” that Kate, herself, gave Ana back in the day.

        So at this point, Kate really DOES need to make a decision about where she thinks this relationship is going and TALK to Carter about it. And she needs to be honest with HERSELF about her own feelings.

        But I do like your point about Carter seemingly “wanting to be in the mix” of things. You saw that in the previous chapters where he obviously liked being able to be a part of Kate and Ana’s social scene, particularly being guests of THE Christian Grey.

        I do think Carter is trying to look for a real relationship with a girl at this time. And Kate may NOT be able to handle that yet. She had a REAL commitment-style relationship wtih Elliot for over three years. She thought she had FINALLY made a break for him afters he heard him tell Gia, a girl he hardly knew, that he loved her.

        So Kate really WAS trying to move on with Carter after thinking Elliot’s “love” might not have been genuine if he could so easily throw the term around. BUT all that “moving on” seems to have fallen away when the “friendship” with Elliot re-emerged. Because THAT is what Elliot AND Kate are seemingly struggling to realize, the reason that sex alone CANNOT make a relationship—the REAL friendship and ability to SHARE one’s life with someone else IS what makes the relationship. It is a relationship built on TRUST. Once Elliot couldn’t trust Gia, the relationship was seemingly over, even if Elliot hasn’t realized that quite yet.

        So Kate’s being unwilling or unable to SHARE what is going on in her life with Carter to the extent that she can Elliot IS an indicator of what kind of relationship she actually DOES have with Carter. It is one based on an easiness to get along and have “fun” together and sex. NOT a real relationship. She just needs to take her OWN relationship advice and realize what she wants.

        But yeah, I think Carter is fixing to lose yet AGAIN to a Grey brother. He is closer to Kate and Ana then any other females in his life, and he does NOT want to lose them in my opinion. So it will be interesting to see that happens in the future. It would be easy enough for Carter to be killed off, quite frankly, and this device is what usually happens to the unwanted third party in television. However, Tara has proven to be a writer that doesn’t take the easy way out for the characters, and she has multiple choices for what to do wtih Carter, including just having him drift apart from Kate and Ana as a result of his graduating and going to law school. BUT if Carter DOES throw himself in front of Kate or Ana and try to defend them from the COnspiracy, then I see Christian genuinely trying to forward Carter’s career as a result of his truly caring for the people he loves most.

        Only time and more story will tell. But Christian is not having to LIVE with Carter. That WILL make things interesting. I think we failed to realize how that must have been for Elliot in living around Ana for the two years that Christian and Ana were apart. ONE outtake from ELliot’s point of view showed how he was between a rock and a hard place, PARTICULARLY as he KNEW that Ana was the key to getting his brother back. Now, Christian is in the “Elliot” spot, but at least Ana was never even trying to seriously date someone else. So it WILL be interesting, PARTICULARLY IF ELLIOT decides to VISIT Cambridge. Hopefully, Elliot will recognize that Christian and Ana have ENOUGH drama in their lives!

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  20. Carter’s character had not grown on me as much as the others just yet. I mean, he’s there during the early stage of the story, not much on the heavy parts, then now again he’s here. But even with that, I think he doesn’t deserve to be just a backdrop or something. What Kate is doing? I don’t think it’s fair. I know it’s hard to let go of what she and Elliot had, even if she says she’s fine and that they’re just friends now. And that in itself makes me doubt if Kate’s really just thinking of Elliot as a friend. Carter’s been there for her. She should at least have the decency to be honest with him and not string him along because that’s what it feels like to me here. It’s like she’s keeping Carter around in hopes that he’ll give her the set up she wants while she still desires what she and Elliot had (and are now actually having it!)

    It’s just… I can go on and on with how selfish I think Kate is getting, how unfair she and Elliot is to their current partners (yes, even Elliot to Gia! I don’t like her but whether she’sa bitch or not, say it straight to her and send her away than stringing her along!) and how Carter’s seemingly just being used her.

    I hope I’m wrong because no one in this world, in the matters of the heart, deserves to be used and strung along. Not when that person has been anything but good to you.

    And lately, I am not liking Elliot.

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    1. AMEN to all you said. Echoes what I feel (and says it better, too!) What you said is exactly what I feel that this is for Kate. She IS trying to move on and even thinks she is doing it. But what she has is a “fun” type relationship. Just LOOK at the interaction we have seen so far in previous chapters—games generally surrounded by alcohol. And that is NOT something to base a REAL relationship on.

      There has been NO talk about their future, their dreams, etc. How soon did Christian know about ANA’S hopes and dreams? After all, he KNEW to buy a publishing company AND even knew enough about Ana to know she WOULD be competent RUNNING the whole thing, NOT just being some editor or person recruiting potential authors.

      So Christian KNEW all Ana’s hopes and dreams and did his best to forward them. Just like ANA knew that Christian really DID want and need his family back around him and in his life. And BOTH sacrificed AND fought for one another AND learned to compromise and let go of their own trigger issues (abandonment, loss of control, etc.).

      So Carter’s relationship wtih Kate, according to what we have seen, is just NOTHING in comparison to what we KNOW she shared wtih Elliot. Even the “just friends” version of things that they are trying to maintain is seemingly MORE than EITHER seems to share with their current “partner.”

      So Kate AND Elliot need to work out what they REALLY want, because YES, EVEN GIA doesn’t deserve to be treated the way she is being treated now. I mean, Elliot had a problem with a LUNCH she had, YET he has no problems telling her he plans to go on jet skis wtih KATE for DAYS at a time, especially when HIS OWN girlfriend makes it clear she would rather him do that with her? Sigh. Haven’t these crazy kids learned NOTHING from past experience?

      And yeah, I’m still not like Elliot either. But NOW I’m not liking Kate. She seems to be turning into ELLIOT, in only wanting the no-strings style relationship of having FUN with who you are with, NOT real commitment and relationship-building. Sigh.

      Like

  21. I don’t like Kate leading Cater on after he told her that he loved her. If Kate and Elliot want to play around, they need to break it up with their current partner.
    I do agree with another reader about Ana always getting her way. Christian seems to give in to Ann’s needs 100% of the time. I always felt the baby should be the most important thought in her mind, but it seems getting back to Harvard was the most important.
    Didn’t Luke break his NDA with Christian by sharing information with Ray? I wish Ray would just have a one on one with Christian and ask him questions.
    Only eight weeks to go.

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    1. I, too, have been concerned that Ana’s main priority has been getting back to Harvard rather than her baby and its health. I can definitely understand her wanting to finish her degree though. When you are nearly at the end of a degree course, you want to finish it and not give up. I’ve been at that stage and I know the feeling, and I would not want to see her toss it aside for shallow reasons. If she can get through those last eight weeks, she’ll have the degree she’s worked so hard for – and which her step-father has sacrificed so much for. She can then spend some time enjoying being a wife and mother and figuring out what – if anything – she does with the degree. She may do nothing with it, but at least she’ll have it. Doing a degree course all but for the last eight weeks is just not the same as having that piece of paper. It matters.

      I wonder if Ray is going to find out Christian has been paying her fees while he has been risking his life in a war zone to earn the money to pay them? Will he be pissed off about that?

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  22. Thank you for the velvety chapter, Tara. For a change no one chasing after them. Kate is swimming to dangerous territory, she’s careless texting with Elliot. There is still a lot of unfinished affairs between them. How’ll Carter feel if he knew? She didn’t think or cater to him when she keeps communicating with Elliot. In reverse situation how’ll she feels?Will it be Kate-Elliot or Kate-Carter? Not returning his ILY makes me feel she’s still hoping for a chance with Elliot. Honesty is the best policy, hope she remembers that.
    I love that Christian is with Ana in Cambridge, its like good old days, they can play house, feel protected. Still feeling sorry for Christian. After so much he has done Ray still snubs and rebuffs him. He tells Ana he likes everyone but Christian. Ana is an adult and her love for Christian is unconditional, Ray should learn to accept and respect that. No more pissing contest with Christian, trust Ana is making the right decision with her love. Great her book will be published, her dreams are coming true. I still don’t like the Professor Look forward to next. Have a nice holiday, Tara. Xoxo daytona

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    1. I think Ray has yet to realize the FULL gravity of just what all Christian has done for Ana. But it has NOT been smooth sailing, and Ray is JUST getting back.

      What this is REALLY about is Ray having to go back to his empty house ALONE at Montesano, when he thought he was bringing his baby girl home with him. He thought he had more TIME, and would get to see her relationship with a boy develop over still MORE time. And that he would get to interact wtih said boy BEFORE Ana made her decision, that HE would be the one Ana asked for advice on said boy, etc.

      Ray lost out on watching Ana fall for Christian and being there to see the progression of the relationship. He has basically arrived home to see his VERY pregnant daughter, obviously having lived her life wtihout him.

      Ray just needs time. And he WILL realize that he is being a little unfair to Christian, but he needs TIME. Ana is his ONLY child, and Ana’s ABSENCE from his home will remind Ray of how ALONE he, himself, is now.

      So I feel we still need to cut Ray some slack. And SOMEDAY, Christian, HIMSELF, will realize EXACTLY how Ray feels! No matter HOW old Calliope is, Christian will NEVER think ANYONE is good enough for his baby girl. He will just have to see WITH HIS OWN EYES how happy Calliope is with her significant other.

      And Christian is QUICK to get irritated with Ray NOW since he won’t just accept that Ana is happy with him. And Christian WON’T truly get what Ray feels UNTIL he has Calliope. THEN Christian will feel EXACTLY just the same way. JUST like we saw Christian turn into Carrick over Mia’s decisions, even when the SAME exact arguments were coming out of MIA’s mouth that came out of Christian’s over Harvard!

      (And Ray and Christian will truly bond over how to appear to clean one’s LONG rifles, RIGHT when Calliope’s first boyfriend comes to the front door! Christian will rapidly get over his anti-gun sentiments when “little” Calliope looks at someone the way ANA looks at him!)

      Ray is PROUD of the sacrifice he made for his “little girl.” He just expected her to still be his “little girl” when he came home. He WILL be proud of her adult self, once he relinquishes his inner hurt at losing her and feeling like LESS to her, now that Christian is around. It is an adjustment that he WILL make, because he truly loves his little girl. He just can’t yet accept that she is all grown up and NOT coming home to him (particularly as he sees Christian doesn’t seem to care NEARLY enough about the Seahawks for his liking. Sigh.).

      I’m waiting for Ray to realize JUST how stubborn and like HIMSELF that Christian really is! Ray must learn to share–he is just resentful of it for the time being. AGAIN, I’m waiting for Tara to write CHRISTIAN realizing that the SAME words Ray used about him are coming out of HIS mouth in relation to HIS little girl!

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  23. Chapters 30 and 31 are great chapters, Tara I loved them! I thought Ray would go a little easier on Christian because of all he’s done for Ana, but maybe it’s all too much to digest at once. I think it’ll help when he gets to Montesano and hopefully, the neighbors tell him Christian himself mowed the lawn. And when Ana explains all Ray’s returned checks because Christin paid for her schooling. And if Elliot invites Ray to a ball game (in Christian’s box seats), he’ll probably tell Ray a lot of things about Christian’s and Ana’s early years. Ray really needs to know about Christian’s early life, too.

    As for Carter, he’s a nice young man, but I still think he’s immature. If nothing else, I hope he’ll get a fantastic job offer — in the east — when he graduates and he and Kate just drift apart as college romances do. Kate has to go back to Seattle for the wedding and Calliope’s arrival, and hopefully she and Elliot will have a serious talk and work things out — and stay together this time. And Christian would be smart to hire Kate.

    The coincidence of 3 publishers wanting Ana’s book just sounds too much like taking advantage of her situation — and she’s certainly not going to be up for a book tour for some time. I’d like to see her and Kate running SIP and publish her book there.

    I hope Ana will receive some graduation honor as well as Kate, although 3 publishers wanting her book is a pretty big honor.

    I’ve gone through all the possible conspirators, and I always come back to Andrew Lincoln, aided or manipulated by Elena — and I hope this time she gets in the way of a bullet! (I did consider, however, that maybe Karla’s third husband was Christian’s father, and in some twisted way is seeking revenge on both Ana and Christian.)

    Thank you for such an absorbing story of deep love.

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  24. Great chapter. Good to see Christian so supportive and ready and willing to give Ana what she needs. It is a big deal for him to be shifting his life to Cambridge for two months.

    I am deeply suspicious of the fact that three publishing houses have changed their minds. What was the impetus for that? I hope it was not Christian’s money. If he was going to buy one off, he only needed to buy one, and one change of mind would be more plausible. Buying off three would be going overboard and for that reason I don’t think he’s behind it. Not directly, anyway. I think there’s another reason but I can’t imagine what that might be.

    As for Carter, I think his declaration of love could have been prompted by observing Kate interacting with Elliot. I think he might be feeling insecure, and it’s possible that could lead to bad things, but I hope not. I hope he bows out gracefully, because I do think he will be bowing out. Kate is not in love with him and I don’t think that’s going to change.

    As for Ray, it’s just a matter of time. He’ll come around when he sees the extent of Christian’s devotion to Ana, and Ana’s for him.

    All of them need to treat Ana like a grown woman though and not a mushroom. It’s one thing to protect her when she’s unwell, but what they are doing now is overprotective and potentially damaging. She will be in lectures with lots of people who will all know what is written in that newspaper, and she won’t know what it is. I couldn’t stand to be in the dark like that about something to do with my own life. Ana is a bit of a precious snowflake, and that’s partly because everyone treats her that way. She needs to grow up. She is still quite young though, and I do keep forgetting that.

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    1. Christian would know better than to try to buy off the publishers into publishing Ana’s book. In fact, Ana had reported to Kate about her talk with Christian about publishing her book on her OWN terms and that she always had SIP as a possibility if she wanted it.

      But since I know Christian did NOT buy off the publishers, that makes you wonder WHY they suddenly changed their minds. Originally, the professor indicated that all the “press” about Ana was bad press that was never resolved (like whether or not she was giving Christian “favors” in return for her job).

      However, NOW, Ana is the sympathetic victim of an attack WHILE pregnant. AND that she was attacked in order for someone to get to Christian.

      BUT WHAT concens me NOW is that there is a REASON that Christian and his team and employees are NOT letting Ana read or see coverage about the attack. And I think that is because the Press may try to “turn it around on ANA” by making it seem like she faked the attack or something to that measure. After all, Ana was able to “get away” from two thugs, seemingly with only superficial injuries. AND she is seemingly getting “rewarded” now with interest from publishers, who undoubtedly know EXACTLY who she is now and WANTS to be associated with the current “buzz.”

      And while I also was initially upset with Christian for keeping Ana away from the Media, you can see that he knows that Ana is ALREADY under a LOT of STRESS. The Media’s “speculation,” particularly on Ana’s character, would NOT make her blood pressure go down. So sense it is nothing that can help her now, Christian is trying to keep her away from the worst of it.

      So I get what CHristian is trying to do. But I think it could backfire in the future. Ana seems content to live in denialville sometimes, and she is not trying hard to get to the tv and news reports. If she wants them, she can get them. But she has seen how unfair the media has been to her in the past and how easily the press tries to label her as the golddigger.

      And I tend to cut Ana some slack for wanting to stay away from the VERY biased way the press handles EVERYTHING nowadays. It is FAR LESS about getting to the truth then about drumming up speculation that can sell papers. And the press loves to build someone up only to tear them down, since it sells stories.

      And Ana has WAY too much on her plate now anyways. She has college to finish, a baby to get into this world safely and a Conspiracy bent on torturing her to death in a revenge plot against Christian. Plus a wedding to plan. So yeah, if Ana wants to stay away from negative press undoubtedly making false assumptions about her, then let her. For now, at least. If there is something that HAS to be responded to, then Christian WILL make Ana aware of it. He has learned from past mistakes.

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  25. Thank you for another great chapter! You seriously make my Mondays bareable 😍

    I’m worried about why nobody is letting Ana watch the news. That can’t be good. And no matter what Christian and Kate say the timing of the book deal is suspicious. BUT didn’t JK Rowling get denied like eleven times before the first Harry Potter book was published? And look at that series now! So maybe it is just a coincidence and I’m overthinking it. Probably.

    I’m also slightly suspicious about the timing of the possibly-bad media reports. Gia just literally hounded to Ana about the attack. Did Gia say something to the media to downplay what happened? Or to put Ana in a bad light? We were worried a few chapters ago that the media now knew Ana was pregnant and how they would spin it so they might be going the gold digger route. But I’m not really sure if Gia would risks being connected to a bad story about Ana since she is on the rocks with Elliot. BUT desperate people do desperate things and Elliot is literally slipping from her grasp.

    I don’t like that Elliot is really only now taking an interest in Kate after finding out that she is dating Carter. I always thought that Kate & Elliot were a great couple but Elliot just seems way too mature for a serious relationship. And I can’t believe that he is literally texting Kate about him & Gia fighting, WTF is that all about? I wonder if Elliot will make a surprise visit to Cambridge with or without Gia, maybe even on the pretense of seeing Christian & Ana. But it’s definitely not a good idea for Kate to be keeping the communication with Elliot a secret. As much as the words pain me at least Elliot told Gia (even though it was in front of everyone else) his plans with Kate. I don’t like that Kate is keeping this contact secret, even lying by omission to Carter. It just can’t end well and I hope they all wise up.

    For some reason I get the feeling that Ray isn’t taking the conspiracy threat as serious as he should be. Almost like he thinks Christian and co are overdramatizing and over exaggerating it. Unfortunately he will be alone at home and I have a feeling that he is next. He was photographed in the car with Christian (and Ana) on the day of the barbecue so the Conspiracy definitely knows that he is home. I worry that him not taking the threat seriously enough will put him in danger and the conspiracy will use him to get to Ana…

    And I do agree that Ray may be taking things a little far with Christian but I also kind of agree. I’m my dad’s only daughter and he (and my three brothers) STILL give my hubby a hard time. So I think he just needs some time to get used to the whole situation. He’s having a hard time accepting that Ana is about to get married and have a baby. But Ana is very easily influenced by what he says and he doesn’t need to be using that influence in the wrong way like the wedding. I just get the feeling that he wanted to push it off so that he can “talk some sense” into her. I hope that isn’t the case though and he gets to the point where he accepts Christian and welcomes him as family, just like the Greys have done to Ana.

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    1. I just commented above that I think that Christian and his team are keeping the press about the attack away from Ana for a DEFINITE reason. For one, we all know that Ana has high blood pressure right now and doesn’t need to obsess endlessly about what happened.

      But what I think is REALLY going on is that the Media is starting to speculate about how a pregnant Ana could get away from two thugs with only superficial injuries. We all KNOW that it was because of Champ and Leila, but I am thinking that the press will tend to question all of this. And when the press learns of Ana’s BOOK deals, then they will say she PLANNED all this in order to get Christian to commit to her OR to benefit by getting the book deals since her book wouldn’t be published anyway.

      After all, per Leila, there ARE some dirty cops on the Conspiracy Head’s payroll. The police WILL need to explain WHY there are “no new leads” on someone attacking a billionaire’s girlfriend, and the easiest way to handle that is to point the finger back at Ana and either claim she is NOT being helpful to the poilice or something to that effect.

      Sadly, the emphasis on the media now is selling stories, not on getting to the truth. And Christian trying to shelter and protect Ana will be misconstrued as being “uncooperative” or something to that effect. HOW many times have women been violated only to THEMSELVES be attacked by the media over their lifestyle, choices, etc. This is the sad REALITY of the press.

      And the media has thus far enjoyed going after Ana and presenting her in a bad light and calling her a golddigger. So I don’t think that will stop any time soon, sadly.

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    2. ***urgh, i just now realized my mistake here. I meant to say that Elliot is way too IMMATURE for a serious relationship. 🤦‍♀️

      Like

  26. I feel like once ray find out that Christian is paying Ana’s school bills it’s going to feel like a slap in the face. I mean this is what ray sacrificed so he can feel like he did something special for Ana & now it’s basically for nothing. it’s just another thing Christian has done for Ana, I feel for ray. I think Ana should go easy on him because in my opinion he has every right to feel some type of way. I don’t even think he should rush to warm up to Christian, ray has to no that Ana & Christian has been through some problems. why else would she keep it from him? & then she has this whole new life I mean good for Ana, but we have to consider rays feelings😏 Somebody said ana was selfish👀😭 noooo Ana’s a sweetheart if anything Christian has always been the selfish one from book 1. He has grown ALOT this book❤️ But I hated him in the other 2 sometimes 😭 Almost being basically the reason Mia could have been raped ( for not putting elena in jail first time around like deserved ) has really made him change, grow, & see things differently. like always Ana saved the day by helping Mia that night also.

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  27. Loved this chapter and so glad Christian and Ana are together in Cambridge again!! Please please let Kate and Elliot get back together!! She won’t say I love you to him because it’s just good sex and he really is just a rebound for Elliot! The fact her face lights up when her ex texts her is proof she never stopped loving Elliot! I love my Monday’s ❤️❤️❤️

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  28. I look so forward to Monday updates! I don’t blame Papa Bear for giving Christian a hard time. He’s just being a parent and one that’s been out of the loop for so long. He’ll come around a realize what a good man Christian is and how powerfully he loves and cares for Ana. Ray will literally see for himself. I think they’ll be fine and fishing together in no time! I’m glad that Ana’s back in Cambridge. I agree 100% that if she’s remained holed up at Escala, the conspirator wins. Go Ana! As for Kate and Elliot hanging out together…day playin’ wit fy-yah. However, I really do hope that Elliot changes, does some soul searching and that he and Kate get back together. I have a hair on the back of my neck that sticks up for Professor Ralston, though. I didn’t think that comment to Christian that Ana is beautiful was appropriate. Maybe I’m too suspicious, ha ha. I’m also suspicious about what everyone is shielding Ana from in the news…… Thanks for the update. Xo

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    1. I’ve just been commenting that I think the press-shield thing is because the media has turned the attack back around on Ana, as if she somehow “deserved” it. They may be attacking Ana for being out alone, when there was a supposedly KNOWN threat out there against Christian. PLUS, Ana seemingly got away from two thugs intent on harming her with only a few superficial bruises. THAT is how I feel the Press will question the attack.

      While we all KNOW that Ana only got away because of Champ and Leila, the press will question ALL of that, particularly if Christian tries to block information from getting to them. The press will piece apart everything that Ana says, particularly as it took Ana multiple days before she could recount everything. Supposedly, the first 24 or 48 hours are so crucial to an investigation, and if it looks like Christian was shielding Ana OR they weren’t being “cooperative” enough, then the press will have a field day with that.

      SO I suspect the media has turned in around to an attack on Ana’s character, maybe even claiming she “faked” the attack for attention from Christian or for a book deal.

      I also question WHY the publishers suddenly are so eager to publish Ana NOW. I do wonder if Professor Ralston had any hand in it AND if he promised them something on the side that we are unaware of. At this point in the story, I find myself questioning EVERYTHING. After all, Professor Ralston could see Ana as being his OWN meal ticket to some kind of book, so we will have to wait and see. Harvard has always been Ana’s SAFE place, and I don’t want to see any part of the institution turn against her NOW, particularly after her Harvard career was threatened back in ABSOF.

      Only time will tell about WHY the publishers suddenly made their offers NOW and if they try to put any barriers or conditions to publishing in place. It may be because the publishers see Ana as a “survivor” or because her potential position in the future OR for some OTHER hereto unknown reason. We will just have to wait and see. As always, IS IT MONDAY YET??????

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  29. a little respite for them from all the angst at least for the moment…..I think Kate and Elliot should get back together….that’s one of those can’t live with, can’t live without situations…and yes I too don’t like Professor Ralston……..love this….so much suspense….

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  30. Super chapter, loved it. Wish CG was MY boxing instructor (swoon).

    Not being flip at all but Kate and Carter and Elliot and Gia will figure it out, my mind (and concern) is now aimed toward Montesanto…..watch your back Ray!! 😧

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  31. Just feeling like (literally) all parties in the story have some kind of protection, except Ray (unless I missed something). And there was something forbidding or, I don’t know…final (?) about how he “handed off” Ana to Christian. The positive side of me thinks, “Awwww, it like at a wedding” but the paranoid side makes me feel like that gesture was a goodbye.

    Guess we’ll have to see!

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  32. Tbh, I’ve been more engrossed in Kate’s relationship with Carter than Christian and Ana. It’s not a bad thing but it’s just surprising. I’ve come to like the idea of Kate ending up with Carter rather than Elliot. Still hate Gia though and I wish he could move on with someone else. I really hope that Kate’s feelings for Carter is sincere and he’s not just like a rebound. I wish you could’ve made Carter more like a dick though because there’s a tiny part of me that still want Kate and Elliot together. Then again, maybe Carter declaring his love for Kate is a sign of his insecurities especially now that she and Elliot are back to being friends. Thank you for another great update!

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  33. I know most readers feels that Luke violated his NDA with Christian by speaking to Ray. I’m sure that Ray’s military credentials along with the facts that Luke was willing to quit his job to protect Ana supersede any NDA Luke might have signed. I explained my thoughts on Kate and Elliott already.

    So now three offers to publish Ana’s book. Not saying it’s not good. But they were declined before. Now with the media attention I think the publishing company are looking for a huge payday. I agree with one of reader who suggested that Ana publish through SIP.

    Ray’s going home without security. I just have a gut feeling that Ray can handle himself and it might be part of a plan. With CG knowing what happened to Ana and hearing what Lelia said to Ana and knowing how Ana feels for her father I just can’t see Christian taking those chances. Regardless of how he’s being treated by Ray, he would never takes chances that will destroy Ana. And if something happened to Ray. Ana wouldn’t survive it

    Imo: I felt when Ray said take care of Ana to Christian there was so much meanings in those words.

    I agree that Ana needs to focus on recovering, getting her blood pressure in a manageable stage. So that she can really mentally focus on school to get her degree. So keeping the news media away from her now might be in the best interest of her healing process.

    Tara has done it again, we know that you continue to feed us every Monday unless Rl gets in the way. Thank You for this wonderful Journey. Also I want to say thanks to the reviewers! I really enjoy reading how an awesome writer can have you thinkings of a chapter days after you have read the chapter.

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    1. Agree with your comments wholeheartedly. I didn’t even consider that Ray returning home “unprotected” (wink wink) is a set up and that he’s ready and waiting to take action if any members of The Big Bad (my name for the Conspiracy) come for him. I’m just a worry wart. ;-D

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      1. I, also, worry for Ray. As I have said somewhere else above, he is a CARPENTER by trade. So if Gia, or SOMEONE else seemingly affiliated with a Construction Company asked Ray to come to a SITE LOCATION for an estimate on some work, then Ray would think NOTHING of coming.

        So yeah, that would be the PERFECT way for the Conspiracy Head to use GIA and be able to get Ray, ALL without Christian knowing Ray had been kidnapped. In fact, even if a NEIGHBOR worried about Ray not being back to the house, an alarm wouldn’t go up (and they wouldn’t know how to contact Ana anyway). Even MORE frightening, someone could assume Ray had just reported to the local army base for training and wouldn’t even think that he could be missing!

        So if I were the Conspiracy Head, I would DEFINITELY go after Ray. No matter how strong or savvy he is, if he were jumped by multiple thugs unexpectedly, then he WOULD go down, and no one realize that he had been targeted until the Conspiracy Head made contact!

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  34. I’m not sure of course because I’m not the writer, I’m just a reader, but because of some things that Ray said during his communications with Ana, I would guess that he was in some kind of elite unit (or maybe not) like Rangers, Berets or Delta (I Googled it and learned a lot), because of some rescue mission. I’m sure that Captain Steele is a ‘do not mess with me’ kind of guy who should know a lot about counterintelligence, and I don’t doubt that he stayed in Seattle on purpose to do his own digging. I’m sure he has enough connections to help. Maybe I’m going overboard with this, my imagination is on overdrive, thanks to Tara and this great story.
    But one thing is certain in my mind that he did stay back ON purpose to look into the whole mess. No one messes around with his Annie.

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  35. Finally found the chapter of Dr. Ralston telling Ana about the ten rejections, because of her ‘resume’ and their interest in a TELL ALL about Christian. If you’re interested it’s Chapter 15 of ASSOF.

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