Chapter 34

graduation robes

I’m out of breath. My entire body is sore, tired, and covered in sweat. The pain is horrific. All I can think about is how much I want it to stop. I want to sleep, but I can’t. Somehow, I have to find the strength to go on even though I feel as though I have nothing left to give. There’s only one thing that can keep me going now, only one person I would endure this for.

“You’re almost there, Anastasia,” Dr. Baker says. “Push.”

I tighten my muscles and force as much pressure down on my pelvis as I can manage, but my strength gives out too quickly.

“I can’t,” I whine as I start to cry. “I can’t.”

“Yes you can, baby,” Christian says at my side. “You’re doing so well. Take my hand.” I reach up, grasp the hand he offers, and squeeze it tightly.

“You’re almost done, Ana. I have her head,” Dr. Baker encourages me. “Just one more really big push.”

“Can you see her?” I ask, looking up at Christian. For the first time since I began pushing, he looks away from me and glances down between my legs. When he does, his face breaks out in a huge, radiant smile.

“Yes, I can see her.”

“Okay, here we go,” Dr. Baker says, calling my attention once more. “Give me the biggest push you can in 3, 2…”

I scream as I once again focus the last of my remaining strength into pushing my daughter from my body, and even though it feels almost feeble and the pain comes more intensely, there’s a shift and then I feel her go.  A second later, the room is filled with the high screeching sound of Calliope’s cries.

“I’ve got her,” Dr. Baker says, smiling. “Congratulations, Mama.” I laugh with pure, radiant happiness as Christian brings my fingers to his lips, kisses them hard, and then lets go so he can take the medical scissors the doctor offers him to cut the umbilical cord. I told her before I wanted them to clean her before they laid her in my arms because once I had her, I didn’t want to have to let her go. So, while I listen to the gentle sounds of water running into the metal basin on the other side of the room, Christian returns to me and leans over to kiss my still glistening forehead.

“Ten fingers, ten toes,” he says. “And she’s absolutely beautiful.”

“Bring her to me,” I plead. Dr. Baker turns as she begins wrapping my baby in a soft yellow blanket. Once she’s swaddled, Christian moves across the room to take our daughter into his arms and then, slowly, he carries her to me.

I reach desperately for her, but as he lays the pile of blankets in my arms, they collapse in on themselves. My face shifts with panic and I begin digging through the fabric, but it’s empty. She isn’t in there.

“Christian!” I exclaim, looking up at him, but he’s not there either. No one is. I’m alone in the room with nothing but a rumpled mess of blankets still hanging limply in my arms.

Suddenly, there’s a sharp pain in my side, strong enough to make me scream, and as I reach down to hold the place that hurts, my body jerks violently and I find myself sitting bolt upright in bed, disoriented.

The confusion has me panting to catch my breath until I reach down, feel my bump, and realize it had all been a dream. Still, just the knowledge that it didn’t happen isn’t enough to erase the lingering feeling of fear and panic from having her disappear out of my arms, so after looking over and seeing that Christian is still completely out, I crawl out of bed to use the restroom and splash some cool water on my face.

It was a dream… It was a dream…

Closing myself in the bathroom, I repeat the words over and over again, trying to get a grip on myself, but as I sit to pee and look down, a new, different wave of panic crosses over me when I see a single drop of blood staining my panties.

“Oh my god,” I whisper. I wipe and look down, finding a faint pink line of blood streaked across the toilet paper, then hurry to finish and rush out of the bathroom so I can get on my computer. My hands are shaking while I type, “bleeding late pregnancy” into Google and unfortunately, my fear is only heightened when I begin reading through the list of related conditions. The only comfort I find is a paragraph at the end of the page that says spotting during your third trimester can be completely normal, and since I have a pediatric surgeon who started her career in obstetrics coming over this morning, I force myself to stop panicking and make a mental note of the things I’ve read so I can ask her about them. Grace will calm me down much better than anything here will.

“How dare you,” Christian’s still groggy voice says behind me. I turn in my chair to look at him, my brow creased with confusion.

“How dare I, what?”

“Get out of bed. Come back to me.” He lifts the comforter back away from him, inviting me to join him, and I do. Once I’m enveloped in the blankets again, I snuggle into him, pushing as much of my body against his as possible as he wraps me back up in his arms. I hear his low moan of approval when he buries his face into my hair and while his heat washes over me, I wish desperately I could just go back to sleep and start this morning over. Unfortunately, that’s absolutely not going to happen.

“I’m bleeding,” I tell him softly.

“What? Where?” His hands move over my body, looking for an injury in my skin, but I shake my head.

“No, Christian. I’m bleeding. There was blood in my panties this morning.”

His face goes slack. “What?”

I watch him turn away from me and reach for his phone on his bedside table, but before he goes down the horrifying rabbit hole of life threatening pregnancy conditions that I just did, I reach out to touch his arm and stop him.

“Don’t look. I already did and you don’t want to know.”

“Yes, I do,” he corrects me. “What did you read?”

“It’s either absolutely nothing or I could be dying. There doesn’t seem to be an in between.”

“Get dressed,” he says, immediately pulling the covers away from him so he can scramble out of bed. “We’re going to the hospital. Taylor!”

“Christian, I can’t go to the hospital right now. Today is graduation.”

“I don’t care. If you need medical attention, we’re going to the hospital.”

“It could be nothing and your mom will be here in an hour. I’ll talk to her, see what she thinks and if she honestly believes I should go to the hospital, I will. But if she thinks it’s just normal spotting then I’m not going to skip out on my graduation ceremony.” He pushes his lips together, clearly not pleased with my plan, so I get out of bed and come around to wrap my arms around him and hold his gaze. “You know your mom will be overly cautious, and if she thinks we should go, we’ll go. But, really, it could be nothing, and could you imagine if I spent graduation day in the emergency room over nothing?”

“Fine,” he agrees at last. “But if she says you should go, you’re going. No arguments.”

“No arguments,” I agree. He nods and, as he leans down to kiss me on the forehead, there’s a knock on our door.

“Come,” Christian calls. Taylor steps inside.

“Sir?”

“Nevermind, Taylor,” he says, then quickly adds, “Thank you.”

“Yes, sir. Your delivery has arrived downstairs and Sawyer brought breakfast back for everyone.”

“Thank you, Taylor. We’ll be right down.” He nods and backs out of the room, and once Christian and I are alone again, an excited smile creeps across my lips as I turn to face Christian.

“Delivery?”

He smiles. “Would you mind if I give you your graduation gift early?”

“Oh, if you insist.”

 

We both hurry to dress so that we can head downstairs, and once we get to the kitchen, I find a huge arrangement of peonies in the middle of the dining room table, surrounded by an easy but delicious looking spread of fruit, croissants, and cheeses.

“They’re beautiful,” I say, turning back to smile at Christian.

“They’re only part of your gift.” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small Harry Winston box. “I had this made by the same designer who did your engagement ring.”

I bite down on my lip as I take the box and slowly peel back the lid. Inside there is a gorgeous ring, not as large as my engagement ring, but not insignificant either. In the center of the platinum band is a square stone, the exact same shade as Harvard crimson, and on either side of the center gem are two diamond baguettes that sparkle in the morning sunlight pouring through the dining room window.

“Christian, it’s beautiful,” I tell him, awed. “Is it a ruby?”

“No, it’s red beryl. It’s extremely rare and at four carats, this is one of the largest beryl rings in existence. It’s very special, to celebrate your remarkable accomplishment. I’m very proud of you, Anastasia.”

I bite down on my lip to try and reign in my smile and then lean up on my toes to place a soft kiss against his lips. “I love it. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. You deserve it.”

“Good morning!” Kate chirps excitedly as she comes into the kitchen behind us. “Happy graduation day!”

“Happy graduation day, Kate,” I tell her. She comes over to hug me but stops when she sees the jewelry box in my hand.

“What’s this?”

“My graduation gift from Christian.” I pass her the box and her eyes widen as she looks down at the ring inside.

“Awh, it’s like a Harvard ring. And it’s gorgeous! Good job, Grey.”

“Thanks, Kate,” he says. “And happy graduation day.”

She smiles and thanks him before moving to the breakfast spread and putting a plate together for her and Carter. Christian busies himself with Taylor and Sawyer, going over the security plan for today since Taylor is concerned about Kate and I being lost in the ocean of identical black and crimson, which could be the perfect opportunity for something to happen to either of us. I choose to let them handle the logistics. I’ll follow my instructions but I don’t want to spend any time today talking about him. Today is about me and Kate and celebrating with the people we love.

“Carter is a disaster,” Kate tells me as she pours an extra glass of orange juice. “He’s really hungover, I don’t know how he’s going to make it through graduation today.”

“Yeah, we heard you two come in last night,” I begin hesitantly. “Everything okay? It sounded like you two might have been… fighting or something?”

Kate rolls her eyes. “No, he just got too drunk with his friends. They showed up at Mac’s not long after you and Christian left and when he saw me having a beer and a conversation with Elliot, he kind of freaked out a little bit. He told Elliot to stay the fuck away from me and then dragged me home. I wish I would have listened to you and told him about Elliot sooner. The way it is now… it’s like he can’t handle that Elliot and I are friends again and that might not have been true if he didn’t think I was hiding something.”

“He didn’t…” I pause, feeling awkward. “He didn’t hurt you or anything, did he? I mean, he sounded… intense when you two came home.”

“Oh, no! God, no, Ana. We’re fine. Great even. I think graduation is just a little stressful with our families being in town. And, speaking of which, I need to go call my parents. They should be here by now.”

“Okay,” I agree reluctantly. “Tell Carter I hope he feels better.”

“I will.” She leans over to kiss me on the cheek, and then gathers the plates of food and two glasses of orange juice in her arms before turning to leave the kitchen, bouncing slightly with excitement when Luke offers her his own congratulations. I start putting together a plate for Christian and then nibble on the end of my croissant as I listen to Luke and Taylor tell me the plan for today. Just as they finish though, there’s a knock on the front door, and while the sound sends Champ into a frenzie in the entryway and fills the entire downstairs with the booming sounds of his bark,  Luke moves from the kitchen to answer it. Seconds later I hear my mother’s voice echo from the living room.

“Ana!”

“In here, Mom.”

She sweeps into the kitchen and, once she sees me, her face crinkles with mixed emotion and she wraps me in a hug.

“Oh, sweetheart, congratulations!” She pulls away and her eyes briefly flit to Christian, but they don’t exchange any words or even any real sign of recognition. I glance over my shoulder and see that Christian has turned towards us and is leaning against the counter silently, but has his arms crossed over his chest.

“Bob and I are so proud of you,” my mom continues, drawing my attention back to her. “I can’t believe we’re already here. I am definitely not old enough to have a daughter who is graduating from college.”

“You certainly don’t look it,” I reply, with a smile. “Where’s my dad?”

“Oh he and Bob are just lagging behind…” she says, but once we both look back towards the front door, we see them both appear through the arch between the kitchen and the living room.

“Daddy!” I say excitedly, untangling from my mom to rush and hug him, but even though he hugs me back, there doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm behind his greeting. I pull back and give him a curious look. “Is everything okay?”

“You and I need to talk, young lady,” he says, and while I feel my own body deflate at his harsh tone, I hear Christian shift behind me.

“About what?” I ask. He glances at Christian for half a second before turning back to me.

“Let’s go to your room,” he says. I frown, but nod, slowly, and move to lead them from the kitchen to my bedroom.

“Ana…” Christian calls hesitantly. I turn back and give him the most reassuring look I can, mouthing it’s fine, and then begin my climb up the stairs. Once I’ve closed the door to my bedroom, I plop down on my bed and stare up at my father expectantly. He paces for a moment and when I see the look he gives me when he finally stops to speak, I suddenly feel more like a child than I have in years.

“Is there something you want to tell me, Anastasia?” he asks.

This is a trap, and I avoid it the same way I have since I was twelve.

“What do you mean?”

“Ana…”

“I don’t know, Dad, but obviously you do. So why don’t you just tell me what you want to talk about?”

“I want you to tell me about Elena Lincoln.”

I feel a wave of cold dread the moment her name crosses my father’s lips and, as I feel myself receding slightly under my father’s hard gaze, I gather all the confidence I can muster, lock my jaw together, and turn to glare at my mother.

“What did you tell him?”

“I don’t care what your mother has to say right now,” my dad interrupts. “I want to know what you have to say. So, tell me about Elena Lincoln.”

I take a breath. “She’s horrible person who is no longer in our lives.”

“Nope. Not good enough. Start from the beginning.” He’s angry, I can tell just by the way his mouth is set, so I know that my mother has probably spilled every detail she knows. Probably even embellished on some parts she didn’t know the whole story on with details that aren’t accurate and don’t do Christian any favors. Unfortunately though, there isn’t much I can say to alleviate whatever it is he’s feeling because there are ugly things in Christian’s past, things that neither he or I are proud of. But there’s no point in rehashing them or dwelling on them now. He’s changed and I’ve made my choices. We’re not going back.

“Dad, Christian’s history with Elena Lincoln is long and complicated and painful, but most importantly, it’s in the past. We’ve moved on, she’s behind us, and Christian and I are really, really good. Happy. He loves me, Daddy. Isn’t that eno–”

“Did he or did he not lie in a court of law to keep a child molestor from going to prison?”

“U-uh… he… It’s not as simple as that…”

“Oh, it’s exactly as simple as that. Yes, or no?” I grind my teeth together and stare up at him defiantly. This is a no win situation, so I’m not going to engage in this conversation. At least not until he’s willing to listen to the whole story, but my silence only seems to stoke his anger. “Anastasia, so help me…”

“I’m not doing this with you,” I say calmly. “I’m not doing this with either of you. Okay, I am perfectly happy to sit down with you and tell you everything that’s happened over the last few years, including everything that’s happened with Elena, but not today. I’ve worked too hard and been through too much to make today about this. So I’m not going to do this with you right now and if you can’t accept that, then you shouldn’t be here.”

“Ana, we’re just worried about you,” my mother says, and I turn to glare at her again.

“Oh yeah, you were real worried when he flew you to Seattle last summer on a private jet and hosted you on a $35 million yacht for the weekend. You showed a lot of concern when you spent a week in the most expensive hotel in Paris and went on several lavish shopping sprees all on Christian’s dime.”

“That was before we almost lost you, Anastasia.”

“But that’s not what this is about. That’s not what you told Dad. He hasn’t said anything about what happened in Seattle, this is about Elena. You brought Elena into this because you knew that would be enough to turn him against Christian. I wanted him to get to know the person Christian is now before we got into everything that’s happened with her, but you made sure that didn’t happen. You don’t care about how hard Christian and I have worked to get to where we are now, how much he’s changed, or how happy we are now. All you care about is breaking us up and I don’t know why. You’ve always been so supportive, why are suddenly being like this with Christian?”

“You could have died, Ana. Why aren’t you taking that seriously? I almost lost my daughter and it was his fault. As long as he’s in your life, you are in danger. I want you as far away from him as possible.”

“Do you really think I’ll be safe if I break up with him? That if I leave, whoever is trying to destroy Christian will just leave me and his daughter alone? Christian will never stop loving me and as long as he loves me and as long as we share a child, I will be his greatest weakness. I’ve accepted that and he is doing everything in his power to ensure that I am protected and safe. He’s uprooted his entire life and moved to Cambridge to make sure of it. I am not going to throw away the best part of my life, the person who makes me happier than anything else in the world all because some psycho out there wants his money or his company or whatever it is that he’s after. I love Christian and I’m not going anywhere. If you don’t understand that…”

“Could you?” my father interrupts me, and I turn to look at him, confused.

“Could I what?”

“Go anywhere. Leave. Because I’ve gotta say, Ana, this Elena Lincoln business isn’t the first thing that’s raised red flags for me with your boyfriend.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I know you don’t think I’ve listened to you, but I have. I’ve listened to you, I’ve listened to Luke, I’ve listened to your mother… basically everyone who should have your interests at heart more than Christian’s, and I’ve gotta tell you that it worries me how controlling he seems to be with you.”

“Controlling?”

“He finds ways to make you dependent on him, baby. I saw the returned checks from Harvard when I got home and, since you’re graduating today, I know that tuition was paid. I could only assume that was him and your mother confirmed that. She told me that he did it behind your back when you were broken and you ended up taking that internship at his company last summer because you felt indebted to him. That’s how he got you back in his life after you said you wanted nothing to do with him. You came back to school after you spent the summer with him and he immediately got you pregnant, tying you to him. Even after spring break, he wouldn’t let you come back here unless he was with you. He watches everything you do and he has his people follow you wherever you go. He pays for your school, your housing, your car, your phone, all of your bills… Everything that could make you independent, he’s taken over so that you can’t leave him. That worries me, Ana.”

“You think any of that would matter if I wanted out? If I wanted to leave and Christian kicked me out of the house and cancelled all my credit cards and took back my car and turned off my phone, which he never would, I’d still have Luke. I’d still have Kate. Hell, I’d go home to you, Dad. Christian’s own family would take me in if I had nowhere to go. I’m not alone, I have a great support network. He’s not isolating me and he’s not trying to control me. My pregnancy was an accident and he pays for all of those things because he loves me and he wants to take care of me. That’s one of the ways he shows love. I promise you, Daddy. Christian is a good man. He’s never going to betray me, he’s never going to hurt me, and most importantly he makes truly happy. Why isn’t that enough for you?”

“Ray…” my mom interjects, but my dad holds up a hand to silence her.

“Carla, stop… This isn’t about you, I’m talking to my daughter right now.” He stares at me for a long time, considering me as he mulls over what I’ve just said, but before he can say anything, there’s a knock and Christian slowly opens the door.

“Ana, my mom is here,” he says uncomfortably.

“Oh, good.” I nod and turn back to my dad. “I’m sorry, I need to talk to Grace about the baby We can… finish talking about this later if we have to.”

“No, we’re not done here,” my mother says, shaking her head before turning to look at Christian. “You and your family can wait until we’re finished talking to our daughter.”

“Seriously, Carla?” Christian asks irritably. “She needs medical attention.”

“Then we’ll take her to see a real doctor when we’re finished talking.”

“Oh,” Grace says, stepping past her son to enter the room. “Now, I’m going to assume that wasn’t meant to be personal attack against me.”

My mother flinches awkwardly as she faces Grace and her cheeks pink, but as she opens her mouth to speak again, my dad cuts her off.

“Carla, for the love of god, stop. We can… we can do this later.”

My mom turns to look at him, making a sound as though she’s feeling a deep sense of betrayal from his dismissal, but when he nods toward the door, she gets out of her seat, shoots Christian one last disapproving look, and disappears into the hallway. My dad lets out a heavy breath and then comes over to wrap me in a hug.

“I love you, Annie. I hope you know that will never change. And I am so proud of you for what you’re accomplishing today.”

“Thanks, Dad,” I tell him. He turns to kiss me on the cheek, but instead of pulling away, his lips move to my ear. “I want to trust you about him. I just wish what I’ve seen matched what you’re saying.”

“Talk to him,” I plead. He nods, kisses me again, and then turns away to leave the room. Once he’s gone, Christian looks between me and his mother, then closes the door and takes me to sit on the edge of the bed next to him.

“Okay,” Grace says with a heavy sigh. “What’s going on?”

“I was bleeding this morning, and I’ve been having some cramps. Well, not cramps really. Like a… a weird um… tightening, I guess. It was a little painful though.”

“How much blood?”

“Not a lot. Just a drop.”

She nods. “And how far along are you?”

“34 weeks, yesterday.”

“Well… at 34 weeks, the tightening could just be braxton hicks contractions, which are nothing to worry about and are perfectly normal. If that’s the case, I’d say the spotting is your cervix preparing for labor.”

“But I still have more than a month to go,” I say, panicked.

“No, I know. Your cervix can begin dilating as early as 28 weeks. Some women dilate up to four centimeters very early and then end up needing to be induced. It’s very common. Also, since it’s such a small amount of blood, it’s possible the bleeding has nothing to with the baby at all and could be an injury to the vagina. Have you… um…” She glances briefly at Christian, before visibly steeling herself and allowing her completely professional demeanor to cloud over her face. “Have you recently had rough sex?”

Heat floods my face. “Oh… um…” I swallow, trying to push down the embarrassment.

She’s not Christian’s mom right now, she’s a doctor trying to take care of me and Calliope.

“Yes, last night.”

“Well, that could be the culprit and we’ll assume the best until we have reason not to. However, bleeding isn’t something we ever want to ignore in your third trimester, no matter how minor it may seem. If you’re comfortable, I can examine your cervix and make sure everything looks normal.”

“Please,” I say immediately. “I won’t be able to sit through the graduation ceremony if I think something is wrong but if we go to the emergency room, we’ll be waiting for hours and I’ll miss it all together.”

“Okay.” Grace nods. “Then go ahead and remove everything from your waist down.” I get off the bed to shimmy out of my shorts and panties, which unfortunately show a new drop of blood, while Grace pulls her bag towards her and begins rooting through it for the appropriate medical supplies. Christian holds my hand once I lie down and Grace directs me to place my feet on her knees. I take a deep breath as she leans into me.

“Alright, you’re going to feel my hand…” she warns me, and in the next second I feel her gloved fingers, slick with goo, slide inside of me. As she begins feeling around the walls of my vagina, suddenly she presses against something that stings.

“Ah!” I gasp.

“Yep, you’re scraped here,” Grace says. She pulls her fingers out of me, glances down at them, and nods. “I think this your answer.” She lifts her hand to me, and I can see the tips of the latex covering her fingers are stained red.

“Oh, thank god,” I whisper, laying back into the bed with relief.

“I’d still like you to put a menstrual pad in your underwear so we can see how much you’re bleeding throughout the day. If it’s more than a few drops after the graduation ceremony is over, I think we should take you into the emergency room where they can examine you with a speculum and maybe do an ultrasound.”

“Okay,” I agree. She pushes away from me and steps out of the room so I can get dressed. Once I’ve pulled my shorts back up over my hips, I reach out and slap Christian across the arm.

“What was that for?” he asks.

“Clip your nails,” I reply in a tight voice, and he smiles.

“Sorry.” I glare at him, trying to remain indignant, but the cocky grin on his face, which I know is because he’s thinking about the exact moment his fingers were inside of me last night, brings that very vivid memory back to me as well, and I find it impossible to stay angry. He grabs ahold of me, pulls me back on the bed, and covers my body with his.

“I love you, baby,” he whispers, and then his lips are on mine.

“Ana!” Kate calls, knocking on my door, but not waiting for a response before she opens it. When she sees the compromising position she’s found Christian and I in, she frowns and crosses her arms over her chest.

“We have to leave in an hour. You should be getting ready.”

“She’s right,” I say, frowning up at Christian, and he sighs before nodding and rolling off of me. I take his hands so he can help me get out of bed and once I’m on my feet, Kate’s all business again.

“Which of these says ‘that’s right I’m the Harvard graduating class valedictorian and I’m hot as hell’ to you more?” She twists so that my focus shifts down to her shoes, the only part of her outfit that will show beneath her robe, and I smile at both pairs of sky high stilettos she’s picked out.

“I’d go with the caged sandals,” I tell her. “I think the swarovski crystals on the platform heels might be a little much.”

“If you say so,” she replies, clearly disappointed, and then she lifts her glasses, which she would normally refuse to be seen in public in, to her face. “Too much?”

I laugh. “Only if you don’t want to start a sex riot.”

“You’re right, better safe than sorry.” She smiles as she pulls them away from her face, but when she turns to leave the room, she stops and then rushes back to me to pull me into a very jarring hug.

“Kate!” I cough.

“Oh, sorry. The closer we get to leaving I’m just… Ana, can you believe this is finally happening? I mean, this is it. We made it!”

“We sure did,” I giggle. We beam at each other, the excitement growing more and more apparent on our faces the longer it goes on, until finally, Christian coughs behind me.

“Ana, you needed to get ready, remember?”

“Yeah,” I nod, and then let out a long, calming breath. “I’ll see you when it’s time, Katie.” She shrieks, her face lighting up, and then quickly scampers out of the room, leaving me laughing as I turn for the bathroom.

 

It’s packed when we get to Tercentenary Theater and as I glance over the ubiquitous sea of black and red mulling through the trees and over the sidewalks, the nerves I haven’t felt all morning suddenly peak.

This is actually happening.

“I think this is where we have to leave you, Annie,” my dad says. “Knock ‘em dead kid.”

“Thanks, Daddy,” I reply, and then hug him as tightly as I can. My mother is next, offering her own last bits of congratulations before she passes me to Bob, then Carrick, Grace, Elliot, and Mia. Finally, I slip into Christian’s arms and he leans down to press his lips against mine in a slow, tender kiss.

“Good luck,” he whispers, and then pulls back to look down at me with mirth. “Don’t fall.”

“Thanks,” I reply, deadpan, but when I narrow my eyes at him, he leans down to kiss me one last time, places the graduation cap that says For Calliope on top of my head, and tells me he loves me one last time. As I watch him turn and follow his family to the chairs placed in perfect lines at the back of the yard, I feel Luke slip his arm through mine.

“Ready?” he asks. I take a deep breath and nod. “Then let’s do this thing.”

 

The ceremony is long, and sitting under the hot May sun while I’m just a week shy of eight months pregnant has me regretting the floor length summer dress I chose to wear under my graduation robe. We listen to speeches from the President of the University, the President of Liberia, who is our keynote speaker this year, the Dean of Students, and finally Kate. I don’t know how she does it, but as she steps up to the podium and stares out at the hundreds of people waiting for her to speak, she’s the picture of serenity. She even pauses before she begins speaking as if she’s taking a moment to bask in the spotlight.

Strangely, I haven’t heard her speech yet. I’d half expected her to ask me listen to her rehearsing a hundred times over the last few weeks, but she never did, so I’m unprepared for the emotion her words bring out of me. She’s funny and clever, of course, but as she gets into the real substance of her speech and begins talking about inspiration, she tells us all about how selfish she had been when she first came to Harvard University. How she’d felt entitled to her education because her father had it, because she’d grown up in a Crimson sweatshirt, but that she never truly understood the gift that being here really was until she saw the names of Deacon Bryer, Constance Ledbetter, Lydia Robinson, Elizabeth Cook, Officer Todd Stoneburner, and Officer Christopher Haddock carved into headstones. She explains that these were the people who died her freshman year when she was the victim of a violent attack and how from that day forward, they became her inspiration to be as great as she could be. At the end of her speech, she dedicates her words and her time at Harvard to them, promising never to forget as she moves on to the next phase of life.

I wipe a tear away as my fellow classmates burst into applause around me and then slowly get to my feet to applaud her as she takes her seat on the stage next to the President of the University. Once the applause dies down, they invite the first wave of students to rise from their seats and to come forward and accept their degrees.

It’s interesting, listening to the list of names being called. Even once my row is summoned, the wait in line doesn’t seem so long as I watch people I’ve had with me on this remarkable journey for the last four years take their degrees and shake hands with the most important people at Harvard University. There’s a few people I haven’t seen or thought about in years, and as I watch the joy on their faces while they march across the steps at the head of the yard, I find myself wishing I hadn’t let so many relationships go through the natural course of time.

“Graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Arts Degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, Miss Anastasia Rose Steele.”

The applause that breaks out after my name is called has my face split into a grin so wide, my cheeks hurt by the time I’ve accepted the leather binder and shaken the hands of everyone in the long line. When I make it down the final step, I glance out in the crowd and am able to pick out my dad, still standing a few rows back into the family section, and the look of sheer pride on his face sends another wave of emotion over me that’s too strong to hold back.

It’s official.

I am a Harvard Graduate.

 

There’s one last speech after all the degrees have been given out, and once we are declared the graduating class of 2011, applause breaks out and hundreds of caps are thrown into the air. Luke takes my hand while everyone around me begins milling their way back towards their families, and as I pull out my phone to try and coordinate with my own loved ones, I’m surprised by a strong pair of arms wrapping around me.

“You did it, Annie!” my dad exclaims. I turn to face him, noticing how swollen and red his eyes are, and then quickly wrap him back in a hug.

“I couldn’t have done it without you, Daddy. Thank you for everything you’ve given me. Everything you’ve done for me….”

“You did it on your own,” he cuts me off. “You did it with that brilliant mind of yours. Oh, I am so proud of you!”

I giggle as he sweeps me off my feet and then turn to hug my mother.

“Congratulations, sweetheart,” Bob says, and I smile as I thank him.

I’m passed again through all the Greys, Carrick holding me the longest as he welcomes me into the very proud tradition of being a Harvard Alumnus. The pride and joy I feel radiating from my family has me simultaneously laughing and crying, and while I wrap my arms around Christian’s neck and kiss him as deeply as I can, I think to myself that, selfishly, I wish Kate hadn’t broken up with Elliot. If she was here, this moment would be the most perfect moment of my life. As it is, it feels incomplete.

Then, my phone begins vibrating in my hand, and I wonder briefly if maybe Kate can read my mind. Maybe she’s looking for us too.

“Hello,” I answer, still beaming.

“Hello, Anastasia,” a cold male voice responds. “Congratulations, and can I say how beautiful you look today? I especially love the red ring on your right hand. That must have set Christian back a pretty penny.”

I freeze, feeling every ounce of joy radiating through me vanish, and immediately glance up at Christian with wide, terrified eyes. “Who is this?”

“Oh, you know who this is, Anastasia. Let’s not waste time pretending.”

Christian furrows a brow at me and I begin nodding frantically at him, pointing at the phone with shaking hands. It takes a moment, but eventually realization dawns on him and he begins waving for Taylor and Luke to rejoin us.

“Oh good, your security is on the way. Let’s make this quick, shall we?” Taylor comes up next to us and Christian quickly explains who I’m on the phone with.

He’s here,” I mouth, and all three of them begin looking around the open yard frantically.

“They’re looking the wrong way,” the harsh voice says in my ear. “Tell them to turn around.”

I turn in the opposite direction that Christian, Taylor, and Luke are looking and begin scanning the crowd, focusing on each face and taking in every detail, but I don’t see anyone I recognize.

“Hello, Anastasia,” the voice says, and a chill runs down my spine as I realize I must have glanced over him.

“Here,” Luke says, pulling a small plastic box tangled in a long wire out of his jacket. “We can record what he’s saying, just keep him on the phone.”

I nod and take a deep breath to work up the courage to continue this conversation. “Well, you’ve got me on the phone. What do you want?”

“Ana, it’s your graduation. This is about what you want. I’d like to give you a gift.”

“You think I want a gift from you?”

“There has to be something…”

“I just want you to leave us alone, that’s it. I don’t want anything else from you.”

“Oh, I don’t know if that’s true. What about…. Leila Williams?”

I freeze and feel my mouth go dry. “Leila Williams?” I repeat, looking back pointedly at Christian. “You have Leila?”

“Yes,” the voice replies.  Luke steps close to me, the wire connected to the recorder in his hand, and he begins fumbling with the charging jack where I think he wants to plug the device in.

“How do I know that’s true? How do I know you really have her?”

“That’s my gift, I’m going to give her to you. I just need to know which part you want.”

“Excuse me?”

“Which part would you like? I’ll let you choose. I have to warn you though, some of her was… damaged in the process.”

My blood runs cold and I’m left momentarily speechless. It feels as though all the breath has been sucked out of me as I process what he’s said.

“Got it,” Luke says, giving a thumbs up to Taylor, and as he turns to nod to me, I realize I’m supposed to speak again, get him talking.

“Is she dead?” I ask, my voice quivering now as I feel the sting of tears behind my eyes, and he lets out a low, humorless laugh.

“Goodbye, Anastasia. Have fun at the arts center tonight with your family. I’ve seen what they’ve done with the place, it looks wonderful. Your graduation celebration will be truly special. Oh, and I’ll see you soon.”

The phone goes dead and immediately, my breath begins to push out of me in horrible, gut wrenching gasps. “He’s here… he’s here…” I stutter. “He’s been the reception hall, he can see us right now.”

“He could be lying,” Taylor points out. “He could be miles away, or maybe waiting for us to leave. He could be trying to scare her by telling her he can see her as a ploy to drive her away from the crowd.”

I shake my head. “He talked about my ring. He can see me.”

“Then let’s get you out of here,” Christian says. “Not to the graduation party, home. Find the Kavanaghs and tell them to meet us there. Taylor, I want your entire team securing that house. Lock it down.”

“Yes, sir.” Taylor pulls out his phone while Luke takes my arm and begins pulling Christian and I away from our family.

“Meet us at home,” I shout back to my father as he watches us disappear through the crowd with wide, worried eyes. I can see Carrick gathering Grace and Mia, even my mother, and pushing them towards the parking lot as Kommer and Cardella close in around us, but while I feel better that Christian and I are completely surrounded by security, I don’t like that everyone else I love is exposed. What if he goes after Grace… or Mia… or my Mom? Is Harrison with Kate? I don’t know, I haven’t seen her since the ceremony ended…

“Christian, what about everyone else?” I ask as we stop at my Lexus in the parking lot. “We can’t just leave…”

“They know where we’re going and they’ll meet us there. Right now, I have to get you out of here.”

My hands move down to my belly, protectively shielding my bump as best I can while I scan the lot around us for the Grey’s rental car, but when I don’t find it, I nod and take Christian’s hand as he helps me into the car. Before I’m able to turn and settle into the seat though, I feel a sharp pang of pain in my stomach.

“Ah!” I cry out, and the worry already so apparent on Christian’s face becomes more pronounced.

“What’s wrong?”

I shake my head dismissively. “It’s fine, I’m fine. Just another cramp.”

“Well… sit down. This stress isn’t good for you. You need to lay down when we get home.” I nod and then reach for my seatbelt, buckling it as we begin pulling away from the curb.

It takes a long time to get out of the parking lot, and because our car has been idling for so long, giving us ample time to be found, Taylor takes a very convoluted way home in case we’re being watched. We change directions several times, follow cars that look like ours only to turn away unexpectedly and head in the opposite direction. By the time he finally pulls into the driveway at the house, everyone else is already here. Christian quickly pulls me from the back seat of the Lexus and drags me inside. As Luke closes the door and begins locking us safely inside, Cardella leaving to stand at the front door while Kommer takes up post at the back, Taylor pulls out of the driveway and turns down the street again.

“Ana? Christian?” Kate calls, Champ’s paws scratching over the hardwood behind her, and when she comes into the kitchen and sees us standing there, she exhales with relief and walks forward to hug me. “What’s going on? Harrison wouldn’t tell us anything, just that we couldn’t go to the arts center.”

Harrison was with her. Good.

“He was there,” I say my voice still shaking. “He called me right after the ceremony and told me he’d killed Leila. Oh my god, Christian… Leila’s dead. It’s my fault. She saved me and now she’s… oh my god!” I break down and Christian immediately pulls me into his arms.

“Hush, baby. It’s not your fault. Thank god she saved you, but she made the choice to get involved with this fucker in the first place. We tried to find her. She should have come to us. It’s not your fault.”

I shake my head. “She said we couldn’t keep her safe. She said he’d get to her, that he’d eventually get to me. She said we were never going to be safe.”

“Hey, you’re safe right now. I’ve got you, no one is going to hurt you.”

I nod into his suit jacket, but when I take a deep breath to try and calm myself, I feel the sharp pang in my side again. “Ah! Fuck…”

“Baby…”

“It’s just… ah, cramps again.”

“Come on. Let’s get you to the couch.” He tucks me under his arm and leads me into the living room, with Kate and Luke trailing behind us, and once we make it out of the kitchen the eyes of everyone in mine, Christian’s, and Kate’s families turn to look at us expectantly.

“What’s going on? Why are we here?” Kate’s father asks. “I thought we’d reserved the arts center for Katherine and Ana’s party?”

“It’s not safe,” Christian says, and then turns to his family. “He’s here.”

“What?” Grace gasps. “Here? How?”

“I don’t know,” Christian says. My dad gets out of the chair he’s sitting in and rushes to me, taking me from Christian and holding me tightly as I hold back tears for Leila.

“Are you okay, baby girl?” he asks, and I nod because I don’t want to admit how devastated I really am. Especially not in front of my mother, who is shaking her head in the corner like she’s been expecting something like this to happen all day.

“So we can’t go there at all?” Mia asks. “What about the gifts? Taylor took the presents we got for Ana and Kate over there already.”

“And Carter was going to meet us there,” Kate adds worriedly.

“Taylor is on route to the arts center to collect Ana and Kate’s things,” Luke says. “I’m sorry, but in light of the phone call Miss Steele received, he’s going to have to open and examine all of the gifts for anything dangerous. But, I’m sure if he sees Mr. Reed, he’ll direct him here.”

Kate nods, and as I twist out of my father’s arms to return to Christian, he leans down, kisses my hair, and tugs me so that I turn for the stairs.

“I think you should lay down for a few minutes, at least until Taylor gets back. This is too much stress right now.”

I nod and give Kate what I hope is a reassuring smile as she looks away from the open blinds she’s peeking through to me, and then allow Christian to lead me up the stairs. Once I’m in bed, he gets me a cool cloth to lay over my eyes and then massages my feet, calves, and hands until I’m completely calmed. And while my body relaxes, so do the random cramps in my side.

Luke comes to get us after about half an hour when Taylor gets back, and once he verifies that Carter came back with him, I make sure to stop at Kate’s room, where she apparently disappeared to in order to get a moment to decompress by herself while I was laying down.

“Kate,” I say, but when I open the door I’m surprised to find that she isn’t alone. She’s standing in front of the bed, so close to Elliot they’re practically touching, and he’s looking down at her like he’s seconds away from lunging for her lips. Once they turn and see me though, they spring apart.

“I’m sorry, I just… I wanted to tell you that Carter’s here,” I say awkwardly.

“Thanks,” Kate says, and then she turns to look up at Elliot again. When their eyes meet, there’s pain on Kate’s face.

“I can’t,” she whispers, turning away and moving past Christian and I. Elliot’s body deflates as he stands there, in the room that used to be his, and stares blankly at the wall in front of him, not looking either me or Christian.

“We’re going to open gifts,” Christian says. “Join us when you’re ready.”

He nods, still not turning to look at us, so Christian pulls me out of the room and then silently holds me as we head downstairs.

I’m given a place of honor on the couch next to Kate as we pass the rumped gift bags and paperless packages to one another. Once again, I’m overwhelmed by the extravagance of the gifts I unwrap, even from my mother and father who gift me a very old ring that had belonged to my grandma Steele.

“Here,” Carter says, picking up a package next to Kate and passing it to me. “This one is for you.”

“From me,” Kate adds. I smile and open the hinged lid hid to the small white box she passes me. Inside there is necklace with a delicate gold chain and small diamond encrusted H pendant.

“I have one too,” she explains. “They’re custom made, so there are only two of them. I thought it would be a good way to remember that you and I shared this together.”

“I love it, Katie,” I tell her. “And I’m so glad you’re the one I did this with.” She smiles and reaches over to hug me, and as I struggle again to hold back tears, I pull away and turn to Christian.

“Will you hand me Kate’s gift please?”

He reaches for the book sitting at the foot of his chair and passes it to me so I can hand it to her. “I’m sorry, the lack of wrapping kind of ruins it…”

“A scrapbook?” she asks, opening the front cover.

“Mhm. Of all four years we spent here. I’ve been working on it for months.”

“Look, our first football game!” she exclaims as she turns to the first page. “And halloween…. Oh my god, Vegas! Will you look at that hair? What were we thinking?”

“That the only way to make it through sin city is to get as close to God as possible,” I laugh, looking down at our overly teased hair. She laughs and flips to the next page, filled with pictures that Mia took of her and Elliot, and Christian and I at the cabin in Aspen. She looks at the photos for a long time, almost longingly, then closes the book and turns to me.

“You’re amazing. I’m going to cherish this forever. Thank you, Ana.”

“You’re welcome, Katie. I’ll be at your house every year on this day and we’ll crack open a bottle of wine and look at those photos together.”

“It’s a date.” I lean in and hug her, and when we pull away from one another, a markedly less enthused Carter glances around the room.

“Anyone else?”

“Yeah,” a voice says behind us, and we turn to see Elliot standing at the bottom of the stairs. “I’ve got one more.” He reaches into the pocket of his jacket, pulls out a black velvet box, and hands it to Kate. She eyes it suspiciously for a moment then pulls back the lid to reveal a pair of spectacular diamond studs.

“Elliot,” Kate gasps. “I-I… I can’t accept this.”

He shakes his head. “I bought them a long time ago, three years ago, actually. When you left San Francisco while I was still at Stanford. We were fighting when you left because I was mad you’d spent so much of your visit doing homework. We weren’t even talking when I dropped you off at the airport, but when I got back to my apartment… I found that you’d left this note on my pillow.”

He pulls a very crumpled piece of paper from his pocket, and when he hands it to her, I’m able to read what it says over his shoulder.

 

I’m sorry I didn’t have much time this weekend, but I hope you’ll forgive me and that you’ll be proud when all this hard work means I graduate Valedictorian. I love you, El. -Katie

 

“I bought those earrings that day and I vowed to give them to you when you proved yourself right. And you did. Congratulations, Katie.”

She smiles and looks down at the earrings in her hand. “Thank you, Elliot. They’re beautiful.”

“You’re welcome. You deserve it, Kate. You deserve everything.”

They stare at each other again and, once more, the intensity of their gaze is palpable. An awkward silence falls over the room and when I hear Carter shifting in his chair like he’s going to get up, I try to head off any argument or fight that may be about to happen, by getting out of my seat, pulling Kate with me, and moving to hug the person nearest to me, which happens to be Grace.

“Thank you so much for your gifts, Grace. It means the world to me that you’re here with me today.”

“Of course, dear.” She smiles as she hugs me once more, and suddenly the room is filled with movement as everyone gets up to give their love to both me and Kate. I’m just released by Mrs. Kavanagh though when Carter calls everyone’s attention.

“I have a gift too,” he says. We turn to face him but his eyes focus only on Kate, and when he walks to her, he takes her by the hand and stands so that he’s facing her. “Kate, a lot of great things have happened to me while I was here at Harvard. But nothing has been as great as these last few months with you. You’re smart, witty, fun… and the most beautiful woman I’ve ever laid eyes on. I love you, Katherine Kavanagh, and I want to love you for the rest of my life.” He reaches into the pocket of his slacks and pulls out his own black velvet box, but when he hands it to her, he sinks down on one knee. “Will you marry me?”

Her mouth drops open and she stares down at the princess cut diamond framed against the royal blue silk inside the box with shock. I watch her chest begin to heave and her body begins to shake, but before she can say anything, I feel a sharp rip of pain, a hundred times more intense than anything I’ve felt today, in my side, followed by a rush of liquid pouring down the inside of my leg. I scream and, immediately, Christian is at my side.

“Ana?”

I try to answer him, but the pain is so intense, it’s difficult to breathe, let alone talk. His hands wrap around my upper arms to hold me up as my body begins to slump over and I cry out again, the movement intensifying the pain.

“I–I think my water just broke,” I’m able to pant, and Christian’s eyes widen.

“What?”

I reach down and gather the lengths of my skirt, but when I quickly yank the fabric up to my knees, it’s not clear amniotic fluid I see pooling in the carpet at my feet. It’s blood.

A lot of it.

A strangled kind of noise resulting from the mix of fear and pain escapes my throat, and when I look up at Christian again, I see that the panic on his face has been replaced with horror. But there’s nothing I can do or say to him because in that moment, as the dark crimson dripping down my legs begins to spread and seep further into the rug around my feet, my vision goes black and everything around me melts away.  

Next Chapter

 

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93 thoughts on “Chapter 34

  1. OMG OMG OMG NOOOOOO. Please Calliope be ok 😦 such a cliffhanger Tara!! Once again an amazing chapter, but I’m so so sad worrying about Ana and the baby, and also how Christian will cope.Please let them all be ok, I beg xx

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  2. Omg..who is that person??
    Anyway, i dont know, i feel pity towards Elliot..i still hope kate and elliot will be together again..

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  3. HOLY SHIT!!! I still think Carter has something to do with it. parents won’t let his GF come to dinner yet he’s proposing to her the next day?? hoping all is ok with Ana n the baby. Gotta do bonus chapter this week so we know!!! Please!!!

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  4. I do not trust carter. something fishy about him. I know I keep saying that, but I don’t. And carla and ray were awful. Not liking anyone but Christian and the Greys right now. It’s going to be a long wait for next week.

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  5. Something is wrong with Carla and she’s starting to piss me off. Her jealousy is pooling out in rolls. All of a sudden she’s anti Christian or being black mail over something. Or simply she’s nuts. Christian neeeds to sit down with Ray and share everything so he can get off his back. None of this is healthy for Ana and Calliope. I’m starting to wonder if the man responsible for Ana’s call today and all of her crazy drama might be related to the stalker who attacked Kate in freshman year. He might be holding grudges against Christian and Ana for killing the stalker. Today’s chapter was insane and thank god lil calliope interrupted that huge proposal! Damn and now we wait until next week.

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    1. I can’t see it being Carter unless his family were somehow involved. Carter doesn’t have that kind of power and connections and ties to Seattle. HOWEVER, I could see Carter working with someone like Astor Harrington that DID have a serious grudge against Christian and did everything he could to bring Christian down, including steal Ana from him. PLUS, Astor had ties to Elena and therefore Seattle as well. I always wondered how Elena recruited Astor in the first place, as a call from a complete stranger offering Astor money to hit on Ana to spite Christian seems so far-fetched. However, there may have been a prior HISTORY there or some other backstory that we are unaware of so far.

      The above said, I still think there are other candidates with MORE reason to hate Christian and to want to destroy him other than Carter or Astor’s relatively petty reasons. But more than one man has gone insane over a woman. STILL, that kind of plot has already been done with the crazy stalker that went after Kate. So I expect the Conspiracy Head to be someone with more of a reason to want revenge against Christian than to be jilted in love.

      But like you, I don’t see HOW we are going to make it ALL the way to next Monday!

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  6. So much happened in this chapter. Carla is so disrespectful and uncouth towards Christian and Grace. Spilling the bad of Christian and forgoing the kind-hearted and overly in love with Ana part. It is always about her. Why did Ray listen to her and talked to others? Like Ana said, talk to Christian and hear what he needs to straight from the horse’s mouth. Wished he’d give Christian a chance, he deserves it. Christian and the Greys are perfect compared to Carla, even Ray. I love how Ana protects and speaks so highly of Christian and their love. The graduation is spoilt by the threat. He is really close by and knows of all their moments. Who is he? They even had to return home to feel safe. Carter gave me a heart attack with the proposal. Kate isnt and will never be ready to accept because Carter isnt Elliot. Saved by Ana and Calliope. Truly hope they make it to Emergency and delivers safely although she is anything but in distress and danger now. Please let them be fine. Wonderful, wonderful update. Can’t wait for next week to find out more. Thank you, amazing Tara. Xoxo daytona

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    1. Yeah, I don’t get Carter. He proposes to a woman that he knows hasn’t said “I love you” back to him yet. AND he does so deliberately in front of Elliot, KNOWING himself, based on what he has said to Kate, that Kate seemingly still has feelings for Elliot. HOW does he think a proposal will simply make everything “right” in his relationship?

      Carter seems to be everything that Ray fears Christian to be. Carter wants to control Kate, and he has chosen the wrong time to put this kind of pressure on Kate. AND he is basically issuing an unspoken ultimatum for Kate to choose him RIGHT NOW. And his behavior seems motivated by jealousy and ownership rather than actual love, as he would have chosen his proposal moment with Kate ALONE rather than IN FRONT of ELLIOT.

      Kate certainly isn’t ready for marriage to Carter. Her feelings are clearly conflicted, and she can SEE HERSELF, based on conversation with Ana, that not telling Carter about being in touch with Elliot has most likely motivated Carter to take premature and preemptive action to FORCE Kate to get Elliot out of her life.

      So Carter has learned NOTHING from his freshman year when he tried to issue an ULTIMATUM to get Ana not to be around Christian. Carter has seemly attempted a new APPROACH to his ultimatum, but the effect is the same. He is basically telling Kate to choose HIM over Elliot RIGHT NOW.

      But by forcing the issue back in his freshman year, Ana promptly REALIZED that she needed to dump him. And I anticipate Kate coming to the SAME conclusion because she does NOT feel like committing the rest of her life to Carter. Kate has enough sense not to marry someone JUST because he gets a proposal. Kate wants a REAL marriage based on commitment AND LOVE, not ownership.

      I just worry what Carter may do or say when Kate refuses. The whole Calliope/Ana situation has put a giant pause moment on Carter’s proposal. It will be interesting to see when Carter brings the issue back up AND how he reacts to Kate’s answer. May be JUST what the Conspiracy Head is looking for, if Carter runs off in a huff.

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  7. What????? Noooo!!!!!!🙏🏻😱😭
    There’s a lot that happened that I’d like to talk about but right now I’m frozen in shock. God Lord! Let Ana and the baby be alright and so help me, if Carla takes this moment to say I told you so! And if there was ever going to being a time you would write a bonus chapter then please let it be this week. 😣😖😫😩😢😥😪😓😭🙏🏻 Please, Please, Please, Please Pleaee!!!!
    😬

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    1. Tara had hinted in previous comments that there would be delivery drama for Ana, but as always, she still makes it shocking and riveting even when you KNOW it is coming. I had also counted on there being friction between the Steele and Grey elements, but it somehow seemingly came from nowhere in this chapter.

      I DO feel Carla will use what happened to Ana to somehow point the finger at the Grey family, particularly when she hears that Ana was spotting blood that morning. Carla will completely DENY her roll in amping up the pressure before Ana could even get to graduation.

      Carla will certainly refuse to let Christian make decisions for Christian while Ana remains unconscious, undoubtedly. AND think she is the good person by doing so. Ana would SERIOUSLY be justified in severing ties with Carla after all of this, but Carla would turn that around on the Greys as “poisoning” Ana and keeping her isolated.

      Carla has certainly never herself put Ana first when it came to her OWN dealings with men, and yet she somehow glosses over her own history and claims to care so much for her daughter’s well-being and safety. I think there is something MORE going on with Carla, but I am unsure what exactly it could be. It may all come down to inwardly not wanting to see her daughter have such a better life than her own. After all, CARLA never went to college or had major prospects. SHE has always been dependent on a man. Ana has love, financial security, job prospects AND is fixing to be a published author. ANA has realized all of her dreams, while Carla has nothing to show for herself EXCEPT having produced Ana.

      So it may all come down to competitive jealousy. Where Carla has the right to give relationship advice is surely beyond me, given her history with Husband #3. Carla needs some serious therapy, in my opinion, to pinpoint WHY she oftentimes puts Ana down, as you can see in some of her stories regarding Ana that she told the Grey family (such as saying ANA was always such a drama queen fixated on the least little thing when she was little, something that would FAR better describe CARLA. She said that Ray could always comfort and understand Ana, which should have said something to Carla right there, in that she NEVER had the right kind of fulfilling relationship with her daughter due to her OWN distractions).

      Since Ana HAS shown better judgment then Carla in the past AND made it all the way through college with only ONE serious relationship, you would think that Carla AND Ray would give Ana the benefit of the doubt. But Ray doesn’t want to lose his baby girl, and having missed SO MUCH of her substantial growing up in college has kept him from accepting the reality of the situation. And CARLA WAS ABLE TO PLAY ON THAT.

      But if Carla’s decisions jeopardize or delay treatment for Ana and Calliope, then I expect it to get REALLY ugly at the hospital. Depending on what happens, Christian may not be in a position to forgive Carla ever. Hopefully, Ana and Calliope both survive, and Christian just has to grit his teeth at family gatherings.

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  8. Wow!! So many things. Carla and Ray certainly didn’t help by cornering her at the beginning and then to get that phone call. No wonder she’s gone into labor.
    I’m probably the only one who feels kinda sorry for Carter. He lost Ana to Christian and now he’s probably going to lose Kate to Elliot. Even though Kate had always loved Elliot. However if he is somehow in on all that is going on I won’t feel bad for him at all. I’m just not too sure about him since he did still hang around Ana when her and Christian were broken up.
    Hope Ana and Calliope make it through alright. I’m sure Christian is really freaking out.

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    1. I admittedly feel sorry for Carter as well if he truly DOES love Kate. But Kate should not stay with Carter if she doesn’t love him, and she certainly shouldn’t agree to marry him at this time. Clearly, she does not love Carter, and it is very doubtful that she will suddenly wake up loving Carter if she doesn’t now. She CARES about Carter, but not what she wants for a forever relationship.

      I’m just concerned how Carter will take the break-up that we all know is coming. He did NOT handle his break-up well with Ana at all, and he doesn’t seem to have overly matured since then. AND he has been with Kate for a much longer time than Ana.

      There will already be hospital drama regarding Ana. Kate will obviously be crying on SOMEONE’S shoulder, and that is GOING to cause problems BUT may serve as an epiphany for Kate about her real feelings.

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  9. Most of the people around her causing her stress and aiding in elevating Ana’s blood pressure to hasten her emergency situation. Only Christian, Grace & Carrick had not voiced stressful situations. All the drama, the threat, Carla, Ray, Elliott, Kate, Carter just kept intensifying and at the end Ana and Calliope in imminent danger. With that much bleeding an abruptio placenta more likely has happened. That would disrupt the threat plans of getting to her. They have to move fast to get her to deliver in the hospital where there is ample services she will need. Ana and Calliope should survive with the current advancement in medicine. Who is a part of the threat that is able to locate Ana in a crowded gathering. Are they unknowingly mingling with someone they know? Ready for the next chapter. Thank you, Tara.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The Conspiracy Head guy was SURE that Ana knew who he was. And he CLEARLY has eyes-on Ana. And now, with the imminent threat to Ana AND Calliope, Ana needs to get to the hospital IMMEDIATELY, with the Conspiracy Head potentially able to stop them enroute.

    And Ana is unconscious. With Ray and Carla distrustful of Christian AND his judgment. Yet THEY will be the ones to make the medical decisions for Ana moving forward.

    So there are multiple problems facing Ana (and Christian) at this moment. IF they call 911, not everyone can fit in the ambulance, and Ana could be without the necessary security. If they try to transport Ana themselves, then they could encounter traffic problems, etc.

    But I wonder how much and to what extent the surveillance is on Ana. If the Conspiracy Head hears the 911 call, then he has multiple options in front of him, including trying to intercept Ana at the hospital, if not before. Because obviously, security can’t go certain places in the hospital.

    Just wow. And I haven’t even BEGUN to think about all the Kate drama. Clearly, Kate still has feelings for Elliot, who DEFINITELY wants her back now. And Carter has proposed, but I do not think Kate loves Carter. And if she doesn’t love him now, she does NOT need to be accepting his proposal.

    Wow again. I need to go re-read this chapter to go back over the clues presented here. The Conspiracy Head EXPECTS Ana to know who he is. And HOW does he have so much intel AND means of directly observing Ana? And WHY is he SO fixated on ANA?

    And WHY make the call to Ana? The Conspiracy Head has tried to keep a low profile, and communicating directly with Ana and WARNING her of his presence and ability to see her serves him HOW? Now, security is keeping an even tighter watch on Ana. UNLESS the WHOLE phone call was BECAUSE the Conspiracy Head KNEW of Ana’s stress-issues and figured that his calling her WOULD elevate her stress levels enough to make a hospital visit necessary.

    But obviously, Ana NEEDS to get to the hospital NOW, and Christian and Ana’s family just CAN’T let the seriousness of the situation keep them from ensuring that security AND as many people as possible remain near Ana at all times.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. What a chapter, Tara! My heart’s still racing! Thank God Grace is there. Please let Ana and Calliope both be OK.

    (I’m glad Ana interrupted Carter’s proposal, too — although I’d have preferred a less alarming interruption.)

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    1. I’m SO glad that Grace is there as well, but I am afraid that it will actually work AGAINST Christian and the Grey family once Carla (and Ray) find out that Grace AND Christian knew about Ana spotting blood. Knowing Carla, she will see that as being something that SHE should have been informed about and allowed to talk to Ana about, rather than Ana just dealing with the matter with Christian and Grace.

      However, Christian DID say he was bringing his mother in regarding medical concerns. But again, Carla will RESENT that Christian AND Ana made the decision based on Grace’s opinion rather than going to the hospital. And while I believe Grace was MORE than competent to make the decision, she WAS a family member, and I think Carla will hold this against her.

      What I don’t get is that Christian, with all of his wealth, should have a doctor ON-CALL willing to make house calls or even call ahead to the hospital so that Ana could have been seen immediately rather than having to wait hours in the ER. It confounds me that hospital ERs can’t have SOME better way of evaluating potential emergencies then having people wait, for HOURS on end, ESPECIALLY when Ana would be side-by-side with someone having the FLU or other contagious illness that could harm her and Calliope even if her medical condition was otherwise fine!

      And I’m hoping Ana returns to consciousness at the hospital and can make the necessary medical decisions for herself and Calliope. But that is seeming more and more unlikely. So if we thought the Grey-Steele families were having difficulties before, that will be NOTHING in comparison to having Carla or Ray be able to make ALL decisions for Ana, no matter what Christian’s opinion may be.

      And ALL this while the Conspiracy Head is OBVIOUSLY right near-by. AND thinks Ana knows and recognized him, which she DID NOT. I’m really wondering at this. The Conspiracy Head CLEARLY is sane enough to present well in public and not cause alarm BUT may have changed his appearance since the last time Ana encountered him.

      SO MUCH will happen next chapter. I had hoped that Christian would have a Calliope-specific CPO and team ready, but with the premature birth AND full Steele and Grey families being present, the security team is going to be stretched to the max. AND no one will be thinking clearly about staying safe and together NO MATTER the family drama, with what is going on right now with Ana. So much to worry about.

      Like

  12. Wonderful chapter. I agree with the other reviewers, something about Carter isn’t right. Hope Kate doesn’t agree to the proposal. I want her to be with Elliot, but not before she has made him suffer like he did to her.

    Can’t wait for Monday. 😩

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  13. I don’t think the Conspiracy Head is that Dylan guy. He would have been WAY more focused on ELLIOT or Kate then Christian. Elliot and Christian TOGETHER took down the stalker-guy, so there shouldn’t be a reason that the guy’s rage is so focused on Ana and Christian.

    The Conspiracy Head is someone with a PERSONAL grudge against Christian who HAS met Ana. AND knows of Ana’s roll in Christian’s life and former relationship with Elena. Hyde shouldn’t have so many resources and access to funds. Isaac could have power of attorney over Elena’s funds, if Elena was behind the Conspiracy. And Isaac could have been driven crazy by his separation from Elena, who would have made SURE to manipulate THIS submissive into an absolute dependence on her. AND he would have had access to former security intel and cameras from Elena’s bar in order to blackmail people into joining the Conspiracy.

    But I still tend to think that it is NOT Isaac based on this one phone call. Ana has spoken VERY LITTLE to Isaac and would NOT recognize his voice. BUT Ana has spent MULTIPLE DAYS in Andrew Lincoln’s presence, so he COULD expect Ana to remember his voice. And Andrew Lincoln has the KNOWLEDGE of the whole Elena saga, and how it was ANA that first brought ALL of that to light. YET CHRISTIAN chose to burn Andrew and HELP Elena, ALL so that he could fund his own company. And that company took ANDREW’s company and legacy from him. So Andrew had NOTHING left to lose to Christian except his sanity. Which would EXPLAIN his motivation to COMPLETELY DESTROY Chrisitan, as Christian has done to him.

    For Andrew Lincoln, he has spent time wondering why CHRISTIAN should have EVERYTHING that he ever wanted with NO consequences for the illegal and immoral ways in which he obtained said results. CHRISTIAN gets the perfect relationship AND family, with all the love and support he could wish. While Andrew lost EVERYTHING, including his wife, his company, his friends, his city, etc. Andrew MOVED across the country to get away from Christian and Elena, YET THEY FOLLOWED him there, taking the one remaining thing of importance from him. ALL THAT is most definitely a motivator to want revenge,

    And this person is JUST as manipulative, intent on destroying one of the happiest days of Ana’s life, as he has been destroyed. AFTER ALL, Ana has seemingly benefitted from Christian’s misdeeds and decided to be with him DESPITE all the harm that he has done. So the Conspiracy Head would be MOTIVATED to TARGET Ana above all else, KNOWING from personal experience, that the loss of the seemingly perfect AND truly loving partner can cause.

    And whether he knows it or not, the Conspiracy Head has CHOSEN HIS TIMING WELL. Ana’s family is at odds with Christian AND the Greys, at the VERY time when Ana needs them to be united the most.

    But ELENA never seems to stop plaguing Ana AND Christian. It is HER past with Christian that has caused Ray so much concern. And Ray is RIGHT to be concerned and to articulate all that he has said to Ana about Christian’s seemingly controlling ways. Because Christian DOES like to control everything, AND Ray is correct that Christian probably deep-down KNEW paying Ana’s tuition would make Ana want to pay him back and ensure that she took the internship. AFTER ALL, Christian’s belief had ALWAYS been that if Ana would simply TALK to him, they would be able to work through everything. Which they did, but WITH therapeutic intervention AND an understanding about JUST how much control and influence Elena had over Christian through her manipulation.

    Once Ana could TRULY see Christian as a VICTIM of Elena, Ana became determined to save him. And she still loved him. So SOME of Ray’s reading of the situation MAY have some merit. I do NOT believe that Christian deliberately tried to manipulate Ana by paying her tuition—he truly wanted to provide her with her dreams. But SOMEWHERE inside Christian, he HAD learned from Elena, and he probably DID know that the tuition payments WOULD be the best way to get Ana to communicate with him, even if only to yell at him for doing it.

    So Ray has some points, IF you don’t know Christian. Ana really HAS brought out the best in Christian, and he is committed to her AND giving Ana her dreams. Ana is CORRECT that Ray needs to TALK with Christian. And we all KNOW how controlling Christian might inwardly LIKE to be, but Ana has always been able to talk Christian into being reasonable, such as when she told Christian that she would NOT drop out of Harvard just because she was pregnant.

    And YES, Christian DID for the first few moments, see Ana’s pregnancy as the way of getting Ana back home with him. BUT he didn’t force the issue and recognized ANA’s right to make her own decisions. Ray CAN’T just take what he HEARS about Christian–he will HAVE to get to know Christian himself.

    And I get why Ray felt the need to talk to Ana immediately. But ALL THAT STRESS at once, plus the Conspiracy Head’s call and revelation about Leila (assuming he was telling the truth) seems to have resulted in a hospital emergency. Ray does NOT know how much Ana has suffered and sacrificed to be with Christian. But Christian ALSO has had to change AND sacrifice for Ana, which he welcomed in order to be wtih her. THAT is the side that Ray NEEDS to see. (AND what the Conspiracy Head ALSO doesn’t know. To the COnspiracy Head, Ana and Christian just ignored what all Christian did and the victims left in his and Elena’s wake. So the Conspiracy Head targets ANA, knowing that would kill Christian’s spirit and will to go on.)

    I am going to be on pins and needles ALL WEEK waiting for next Monday!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. In re-reading this chapter, the Conspiracy Head told Ana when she had basically looked right at him. But Ana did NOT recognize him. Which could be TELLING. That pretty much definitely rules out HYDE, as Ana WOULD recognize the man she had worked with all summer. It also seemingly rules out anyone at GEH that she was familiar with, as she would have recognized said individual.

    Astor Harrington had been a VERY remote possibility to me, but Ana presumably would have recognized him, since she had a class AND study groups on a regular basis with him.

    But you would think that she would recognize Andrew Lincoln. HOWEVER, it has been 3 years since she last saw him. And Ana was never really focused on Andrew or interacted with him all that much. And since she wouldn’t be expecting him, she wouldn’t be looking for him. PLUS, three years of hardship and shock and insanity COULD have aged him beyond what Ana would remember.

    And Isaac couldn’t just assume Ana would recognize him either after so limited contact. So I can’t see it being him either. But CLEARLY, the Conspiracy Head thought Ana HAD seen him (and presumably recognized him?).

    So I’m now more curious than ever. Still putting my bet on Andrew Lincoln, as he seems the MOST likely individual who would be intent on harming Christian AND Ana, knowing that it was Ana that exposed everything with Elena YET CHOSE to be Christian STILL, even after he HELPED Elena and remained friendly with her for three years thereafter. And Christian’s seeming LACK OF COMPASSION in taking Andrew’s company after EVERYTHING else Andrew had lost as a result of Christian seems like rubbing salt in the wounds. So ANDREW LINCOLN still seems the most likely candidate for me.

    If not Andrew, then there must be SOMEONE from GEH that Ana has seen but really not noticed much or ever saw as a threat. After all, the Conspiracy Head targeted Christian’s company AND seemingly knew where and how to attack.

    Sigh. This is killing me. I am absolutely dying to know. WHY WHY WHY must it be SO LONG until next MONDAY???????????

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What about that Brian (name?) dude who was such a chauvinistic ass to Ana at the start of their internships. Maybe he’s the Big Bad? 😀

      I think you’re right….logic states it’s Andrew Lincoln but for some reason I think I’ll feel let down if it is, kind of anti-climactic, maybe? Not sure why. Probably because it would be more gut wrenching if it’s someone they know or trust. Drama Drama Drama 😉

      Like

      1. You may be entirely right, as when you look CLOSELY at about anyone that we have been introduced to in ADSOF and ABSOF, so MANY have motivation to go after Christian OR Ana.

        The reason I don’t see it being Brian is because he IS so chauvinistic. Someone like that wouldn’t have trusted Leila with so much, in my opinion, because she was a woman. And Leila clearly seemed to have been given charge of the thugs in the alley attack, so Leila clearly had respect AND authority in the Conspiracy. And I couldn’t see WHY Brian would come after Ana. After all, she never took anything away from him, and she treated him decently DESPITE the way he acted.

        HOWEVER, if there was MORE to the story then we knew about, such as Brian being the son of someone with a grudge against Christian OR a client of Elena’s or colleague of Andrew’s, then it would make more sense. After all, CORPORATE ESPIONAGE is a real problem nowadays, with companies deliberately sending in one of their own to try to get employed by their competitor in order to get trade secrets or computer access and information, etc.

        That IS the great thing about Tara’s writing—she presents MULTIPLE possibilities and motivation for so many characters. So you can’t rule ANYTHING or ANYONE out. While it may be logical to assume it is Andrew Lincoln or maybe even Isaac, that doesn’t mean it is either one of them. I just figure that those with NOTHING TO LOSE are the most likely candidates to seek revenge.

        So many people want to assume Carter is behind this. While I don’t think Carter is mature enough or motivated enough to plan this all out on his own, he WAS in the same class as Astor Harrington and Ana in their freshman year. And ASTOR had an almost pathological NEED to beat Christian. So much so that ELENA was easily able to recruit him ESPECIALLY after Christian had sex with Ana on HIS bed. (In fact, that seems to have been one of the things that motivated Astor so much to work with Elena.)

        And Astor most likely did NOT get the money promised to him by Elena, since he was discovered. And since Christian won Ana AND went on to form his company, Astor could deeply still resent Christian and want to bring him down, no matter the cost, in order to say that he FINALLY beat Christian.

        And Astor would probably recruit CARTER. After all, he could tell Carter that Ana had chosen Christian and betrayed them both, and that he would NOT get Kate as long as she remained close to Ana and the Grey family as a result. And no one would question Astor being present at a Harvard graduation, since he had acquaintances in Ana’s year.

        And while I laughed outright about Carter’s humerous antics aboard Christian’s plane and in Escala about now being “important” through an association with Christian, there could always be MORE to that. Such as Carter wanting what Grey had and being willing to do ANYTHING to get a piece of that. And securing a rich wife with family connections such as Kate would be a MUST for Carter, and he could REALLY resent ALL the Greys since he keeps losing to a Grey brother. PLUS, his father sounds like the kind of guy that NEVER thought anything Carter did was “good enough,” and engineering OR involving himself in a Conspiracy to take Grey down could be Carter’s way of showing he is a “man” like his father.

        So when you look at EVERYTHING, there are still MULTIPLE people that could be involved or motivated to act against Christian that seemingly seem little and insignificant in passing. But that WOULD be the whole reason why such people would resent Christian AND Ana together. And with Christian AND Elena’s pasts, SO MANY enemies have built up behind he scenes that Christian wouldn’t even know about.

        I find it TELLING that Ana didn’t recognize the Conspiracy Head. And WHY would he risk so much to get Ana to SEE him. Maybe because he felt she DIDN’T take time to see him before? Again, someone like Brian would fit that description, as he could feel someone didn’t see his full “value,” thus holding him back. Brian COULD have made all nice with Ana because by summer’s end, he already had begun the Conspiracy recruitment, having learned as much as he could about being behind enemy lines through his summer job. And he would have ready access to Hyde AND to the tech guys necessary to pull this off.

        After all, it may truly be only about destroying GEH or taking it over from the inside out by all those that felt CHRISTIAN stood in the way of THEIR patent rights.

        So yeah, I assume that there is a PERSONAL GRUDGE somewhere within the mix against Christian which is the motivator for the COnspiracy Head. And he KNEW exactly who to recruit, seemingly within and outside of GEH. So that implies someone that HAS ties to GEH. So Brian can by no means be eliminated. Or anyone else that we have encountered in ADSOF and ABSOF.

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  15. I also anticipate further drama at the hospital when it is revealed that Grace and Christian KNEW of the blood spotting and did not insist Ana go to the hospital right then. What is sad is that Ana being at the hospital might not have resulted in ANYTHING being done sooner, since she would have waited in the ER. You would think that with Christian’s money, he could have had a doctor ON CALL for them at all times so that Ana would not have had to wait in the ER for hours.

    But any way you look at it, Carla AND Ray’s suspicions against Christian and his family will go into overdrive at the hospital, particularly given Ana’s spotting blood AND the possible revelation as well that Ana and Christian had “rough sex” the night before. And I see Carla shouting and screaming and blaming Christian, NOT focusing on ANA and making the right medical decision for her WITH AS MUCH INPUT as she could get from medical doctors.

    Hopefully, Ray will exercise better judgment and RECOGNIZE that Calliope is Christian’s child as well. And Christian LOVES Ana, and should be included in ANY discussions regarding Ana and his child’s health.

    But I anticipate Carla trying to blame Christian and kick him out of the room during the medical discussions. I would NOT want to be the hospital personnel that get stuck in the middle of this tense family situation.

    I always figured Ana’s delivery would be fraught with danger. BUT ALSO add in the Conspiracy Head’s machinations AND his being nearby, and you have REAL extended danger. Even assuming both Ana AND Calliope come through the traumatic delivery, you have the continued family drama. AND you could have the Conspiracy Head try to steal Calliope from the hospital. There are multiple ways this could go, some more potentially tragic than others.

    But this is a REAL testing ground for whether or not Ray LISTENED to Ana and trusts her judgment. This is a time for family needing to come together, not fall apart wasting potential life-saving moments making bad decisions just because the other side wants something different. While I DO NOT trust Carla’s judgment, I hope that Ray can be depended on, since absent any medical POA, medical decisions for Ana will be made SOLELY by Carla and/or Ray.

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  16. My doctor advised me in order to keep healthy my heart that you should post another chapter soon. Like tomorrow, maybe. If not, my heart could not resist this cliffhanger… I’m so affected by everything in this chapter and hating so much people (Carla is the first of the list, so you know it) that I can’t even write a proper review. I will only say that you always find a way to keep the drama going for 34 chapters and making us, masochist, happy. It has its merit, Tara.

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    1. HeeHeeHee! I DEFINITELY agree that EVERYTHING should be done to comply with your “doctor’s orders.” (And hey, if that doctor could only look like Doctor Pascal from the movie “The 9th Life of Louis Drax.” The role is played by Jamie Dornan, in case you didn’t previously guess!)

      I’m put-out by Carla as well. She knew everything about Elena previously, yet that didn’t prevent her from being previously overjoyed about Ana’s engagement. And she CHOSE her timing well to get Ray to ally himself with her and manipulated the situation against Ana.

      But it is ANA’s choice for her OWN happiness, and I cannot understand why Carla is pushing this so hard AND has turned against the ENTIRE Grey family, who has been nothing but supportive and loving and accepting of Ana. They are the IDEAL in-laws.

      I get that Ana will face very REAL threats in her future. AND that any parent would be concerned. But at the end of the day, Ana is NOT a child and can make HER OWN decisions. And Ana is CORRECT that simply separating from Christian would NOT deter anyone determined to attack Christian.

      And Calliope IS Christian’s child as well. Being married is NOT a requisite for father’s rights anymore. Christian would get joint custody of Calliope and potentially equal time with his daughter in many jurisdictions now. Since a baby does not have school, a court generally NOW considers that a father should have substantial time with the baby so that the baby can adapt to BOTH parents as soon as possible.

      So making Ana sacrifice her OWN happiness and separate from Christian would do NOTHING to get Ana out of Christian’s life for good, given Calliope. And Ray should have thought that Carla knew EVERYTHING about Elena and was still thrilled with Christian until the attack. And Ana CHOSE to go out of Escala without security and the measures Christian had put in place for her security, so the attack is NOT the fault of Christian. Like Ana said, the psycho that chose to do this and act against Christian AND Ana is at fault.

      But Carla is pushing this HARD. And her little incident with Grace at the beginning of this chapter does NOT bode well for what will happen at the hospital. I’ve just got to trust that RAY has been a decent parent for Ana previously and will do so for now in her time of need, DESPITE Carla’s actions.

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  17. OMG!! I hope Ana and the baby are going to be ok!! 😨 What is wrong with Carla?! She’s picking a fight with Ana about Christian and getting Ray involved. I’m disappointed in Ray. I would have thought he would go to the source and talk to Christian about his concerns. The Conspiracy was there at graduation! He described Ana’s ring. It makes me wonder how close he’s gotten to Ana’s and Christian’s inner circle?! Amazing chapter and next Monday can’t get here soon enough!

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    1. While we could wish that Ray would go to Christian, it is logical that he would approach Ana FIRST about what he has learned. And Elena DID try to mold Christian into a manipulative monster JUST like herself. AND nearly succeeded, by the by, but for Ana.

      So Ray has REAL concerns. And he needs to hear from HIS DAUGHTER about just why she loves Christian and why she feels he is a decent and loving man worthy of her. And from a certain PERSPECTIVE, Ray’s observations COULD be right. We just KNOW that Christian is different, mainly because Tara has given us the full story AND outtakes that let us know what Christian is thinking. So WE know Christian REALLY LOVES Ana.

      But Ray does NOT know a full blow-by-blow account of EVERYTHING that Ana has been through wtih Christian. And once again, the knowledge of some rather bad things came from someone OTHER than Ana. But Ray only returned AFTER Ana had been attacked, so Ana had MORE than enough on her plate and getting back to school right away to fill her father in on everything.

      But anyone trying to keep Ana isolated would NOT have chosen to get Ray back early to intervene with Ana. Christian wanted what he felt ANA would most need to get her through everything. Which SHOWS how much Christian will do for Ana’s happiness.

      But this is Ana’s very FIRST relationship. And SO FEW people get it right the very first time. So I still can’t blame Ray for being worried, although I am ticked that he would consider Carla’s perspective over Ana’s. He certainly KNOWS Carla has NOT put Ana’s needs above HER OWN in the past, as any parent SHOULD do for their minor child that can’t live by herself.

      But I am wondering why Ana didn’t recognize the Conspiracy Head. HE certainly thinks that Ana should recognize him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think he thought she recognized him. I think his taunting tone was because she glanced past him and didn’t recognize him. In fact, I think had she recognized him, Taylor and Luke would have been informed immediately and that whole situation would have ended very differently. He would know that.

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      2. HHhhmmmm. Oh Tara, your reply, as always, seems to raise MORE questions than answers. The implication that had Ana recognized HIM, she would have informed Taylor and Luke, making the situation end VERY differently, seems to mean that HAD THEY KNOWN HIS IDENTITY, they would have known IMMEDIATELY how to apprehend “him.” MEANING it is someone that they probably know, so wouldn’t need a picture, AND could overpower.

        Since Christian hasn’t thought of Andrew Lincoln yet as a possibility, that implies that the Conspiracy Head is someone MUCH more well-known AND accessible to the security team, had they ONLY known the identity of the individual. While my mind jumped to Carter, Ana WOULD have recognized him. So that really DOES make me look back to Astor Harrington, he seemly had an overwhelming obsession with Christian right from the get-go. But HOW he would have Seattle connections is beyond me.

        And Ana WOULD have recognized Hyde, in my opinion, having worked with him for a whole summer. So that could mean another GEH employee, like Barney. UUUUUGGGGG.

        WHY would the Conspiracy Head risk EVERYTHING by TRYING to get Ana to SEE him????? Especially since, as you say, it would have gone down MUCH differently had Ana ONLY recognized HIM.

        Now, I must go re-think EVERYTHING. Double UUUUUUGGGGGGG.

        Alright, since you KNOW that you now have me acting like Gollum in a head-spin, could you confirm whether or not Leila is dead? The Conspiracy Head deliberately REFUSED to answer this question when she asked him outright. So Leila MIGHT be still alive and held prisoner, although I would imagine that she was bleeding out, given the “damage.”

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  18. Your portrayal of Carter has taken an opposite turn.
    I cannot believe that the guy who helped Kate in recovering from d surgery wud do that to her.
    Nd I certainly don’t think Elliot should be forgiven for what he did just because he is no longer with Gia nd out of his my from jealousy

    Better for Kate to remain single or maybe link up with Sawyer ( I think he is a really nice guy) coz these both definately don’t deserve her

    Like

    1. I think that this is evidence that Carter has NOT matured as much as it first appeared when he came back into Kate’s life as a potential boyfriend. He was sweet to her, much as he was to Ana at first. But Carter truly IS controlling, and his family background may be evidence of why he is the way he is. But no matter HOW you are raised, at some point, you are responsible for your OWN decisions.

      But Carter should have LEARNED from his experience with Ana in giving her ultimatums. HERE, Carter is trying to come across as LESS manipulative by pushing Kate for an engagement to affirm that she will marry him. While this may be what CARTER wants, it is certainly not what Kate could want now, since Carter would HAVE to be aware that Kate has NOT said “I love you” back to him.

      So I think this is Carter’s attempt to make a possessive stake/claim on Kate. And an engagement should be about a MUTUAL desire to spend the rest of one’s life with the other person, NOT just to get an ex to back-off. (And hey, when has a ring REALLY discouraged people from pursuing another person, sadly.)

      But like you, I also admit to secretly liking the idea of a possible Kate/Sawyer union. But given what we KNOW of Sawyer’s history, he is NOT the guy that looks for “the one” but rather for “the one in the moment.” And Kate DEFINITELY wants someone committed to a FOREVER relationship that would hopefully include children.

      But Kate CLEARLY and obviously still has feelings for Elliot. Which makes Carter’s ploy even MORE ludicrous, because if he REALLY knows Kate AT ALL, then he can see by the way she is with Elliot that she is NOT over him yet. So WHY would you want to try to marry someone THAT conflicted? An engagement ring does NOT make FEELINGS go away. Sigh. So Carter seems to have learned little from his freshman year.

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      1. U really can’t pity Elliot
        He dig his own grave by moving on with Gia far too quickly ( Kate said it took him long time to introduce her to his family but he introduced them to Gia within 2 months of his breakup wid Kate) nd he said that he loved Gia( to ana ) but then just when he realises Kate is with someone else he feels he is no longer in love with her ( what was all that about defending Gia against his family all the time)

        Nd the Sawyer Kate story cud be brought up( coz they have hooked up once )

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      2. An,

        I agree with you about Elliot, at least partly. I’m still hovering on the fence overall about his actual character.

        You put it wonderfully about how he was seemingly willing to defend Gia WITHOUT even knowing her UNTIL Kate had “moved on.” Then, Elliot was looking for anti-Gia evidence and taking it out on Gia when nothing conclusive was there. And Elliot’s back and forth and refusal to see WHAT WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM regarding Gia’s obvious attempts at Christian REALLY ticked him off. I mean, you are going to believe a girl you BARELY know over your closest friends and family?

        Furthermore, we don’t even yet know if Elliot has really “changed” his views at all on things that matter to Kate. And Elliot’s idea of wanting just a “fun” relationship without commitment or work may or may not have gone away. Whether or not Elliot has matured remains to be seen.

        However, there is the possibility that Elliot has actually LEARNED from his mistakes. The Elliot presented in ABSOF was a devoted brother and family man. I think that Elliot was so intent on studying CHRISTIAN’s trauma that he failed to realize his OWN response to Elena and everything that happened to the family as a result. So Elliot may not REALLY believe, deep down, in the things he reports to want. Elliot just may not have been willing to risk his heart if it could be broken. After all, Elliot saw FIRSTHAND how completely DEVASTATED Christian was to lose Ana and how he never could move on. While WE know that was a good thing, being Christian/Ana devotees, Elliot could see his brother’s falling apart as what could happen to HIM if he ever allowed himself to love so deeply AND be dependent on someone else for his happiness.

        So Elliot may have needed a wake-up call about his REAL feelings. AND might have needed to realize that Kate was NOT so easily replaceable. We just haven’t HEARD from Elliot yet to know just where he is really coming from.

        I’m hoping for Outtakes eventually from Elliot’s point of view. I mean, Christian’s own actions could have had so many possible interpretations, and you don’t realize JUST how much he loves and is devoted to Ana until you get inside his head. So I just can’t yet determine who the REAL Elliot may be. Everytime I think I have Elliot figured out, he does something unexpected OR acts in such a way as to remind me why I liked him so much in Tara-world when reading ABSOF. So while he has made some VERY poor decisions, in my opinion, the jury is still out for me in regards to his actual CHARACTER.

        Like

      3. The only reason I think that Elliot and Kate should end up together because considering it is the last edition of the trilogy, it guarantees a happy ending that everybody wants.
        But had it happened to someone else, I don’t think Kate would have even considered being friends with Elliot coz it’s not just about goals and dreams, Elliot has hurt late a lot by his actions in d past 6-7 months.

        And during the barbeque, the seed of doubt had already been pooped up in Elliot’s mind coz they had their first fight at the dinner table itself.

        Elliot is a moron ( he said that coz of whatever happened in d past 2 years has drained him, but so did to others in the story…but everyone else has learnt to move on, so I don’t think it was a simply valid reason) and carter (as I said before) is an idiot

        Like

    2. Elliot is an amazing family man…..PERIOD
      But I just can’t digest the fact that he moved on from Kate so early nd den confessed his love to Gia within the next 2 months ( it happened near the Christmas/ new yr party) nd he said I love Gia to ana d next day too
      Nd Kate said that she would not like to be with a man who lies abt his feelings( when ana said to her that there was a possibility he was lying out of gratitude to Gia as she had proposed to get tested for donor)
      About that “change of heart” when ray first visited Christian’s family Elliot, during his conversation with ray still suggested he is still the same.
      Nd lastly, just because he might have come to the terms with marriage nd kids things, he just should not expect Kate to get back to him. With or without Carter being an idiot

      Like

      1. Yep, I can’t disagree with anything that you have said. If Kate and Elliot DO truly love one another, then I would like to see them somehow get together, BUT I would want Elliot to have to do penance first and PROVE that he has had a change of heart. Because Kate WAS right when she told Ana that love is NOT enough–you need to share the same goals and values relationship-wise with the other person. Kate has to be able to TRUST Elliot that he wouldn’t make the same mistakes all over again, and based on Elliot’s actions, there is NO evidence that he has changed his outlook. At least not yet.

        I felt that Elliot’s asking Ray those questions regarding marriage while at the family barbeque meant that maybe, just maybe, Elliot was re-considering what he thinks he wants. He was asking Ray if he would get married all over again, knowing the outcome, but Ray made GOOD points that his marriage was mostly a happy one to Carla AND that he got Ana out of it.

        But Elliot KNOWS that Kate is in a relationship with Carter, and if he approached her about getting back together with him, then I DEFINITELY think that was the WRONG CALL to make. It is disrespectful to Carter and basically implies that Kate is only with Carter because she can’t be with Elliot. And that is NOT the type of person that Kate is.

        Kate genuinely is trying to have a real relationship with Carter. And Elliot should NOT try to get in the way of that, no matter how he feels. He could be a friend but should not try to be anything more.

        And while I loved the sentiment behind WHY Elliot gave Kate the graduation present, it was WAY more than he should have done, ESPECIALLY in front of Carter. So I DON’T like Elliot’s behavior still, same as you.

        I don’t think people should remain in relationships that are not going anywhere, so I think Kate needs to realize that Carter is not “the one” and end things with him. She SHOULD know by now if she loves him, and staying with him to hopefullly “one day” wake up loving him is not good for either of them.

        But I DEFINITELY agree that Carter still seems to be an idiot by the way he acts. He seems to have learned very little about women since ADSOF.

        But I’m also wondering about Carter. He was SUPPOSEDLY off for a family dinner the previous night, but his family has thus far NOT been seen. I mean, you would EXPECT them to go to wherever Carter would be directly AFTER graduation, yet Carter went back to Kate and Ana’s place.

        And since Carter HAS gotten an engagement ring, then you would CERTAINLY think that Carter’s family would want to meet the girl Carter was planning to ask to MARRY him! The only explanation I can think about is that maybe Carter has NOT told his family about his intentions with Kate until he has a SECURE answer from Kate. Carter’s dad sounds like the kind of guy that would belittle and berate Carter for asking a girl to marry him that refuses him.

        While I LOVE the kind of friend that Sawyer is to Ana AND the fact that he seems willing to give up his career or even die to save Ana, that still doesn’t mean Sawyer is relationship material. In fact, Sawyer’s views on relationships seem worse than Elliot’s. Sawyer seems in a relationship just for the sex, so unless he changes his attitude considerably, I would NOT want him with Kate.

        I just don’t know what will happen for Kate. But she seems to now have gotten back in the right frame of mind, and she can concentrate on her career and being a wonderful godmother to Calliope. (I’m just hoping that Ana survives. Tara’s previous clues seem to indicate that Calliope WILL survive, but there has been nothing spilled about Ana’s fate.)

        But like you, I WANT TO SEE KATE with someone that DESERVES her love and will make her as happy as Christian and Ana are together. She is a kind and beautiful person, both inside and out. THAT is certainly rare and should be rewarded. Unfortunately, the beautiful people CAN sometimes have a harder time at finding happiness because their beauty attracts others to them that may be unworthy of love and just after the chase of the beautiful girl.

        Like

      2. The only reason I think that Elliot and Kate should end up together because considering it is the last edition of the trilogy, it guarantees a happy ending that everybody wants.
        But had it happened to someone else, I don’t think Kate would have even considered being friends with Elliot coz it’s not just about goals and dreams, Elliot has hurt late a lot by his actions in d past 6-7 months.

        And during the barbeque, the seed of doubt had already been pooped up in Elliot’s mind coz they had their first fight at the dinner table itself.

        Elliot is a moron ( he said that coz of whatever happened in d past 2 years has drained him, but so did to others in the story…but everyone else has learnt to move on, so I don’t think it was a simply valid reason) and carter (as I said before) is an idiot

        Like

    3. The only reason I think that Elliot and Kate should end up together because considering it is the last edition of the trilogy, it guarantees a happy ending that everybody wants.
      But had it happened to someone else, I don’t think Kate would have even considered being friends with Elliot coz it’s not just about goals and dreams, Elliot has hurt late a lot by his actions in d past 6-7 months.

      And during the barbeque, the seed of doubt had already been pooped up in Elliot’s mind coz they had their first fight at the dinner table itself.

      Elliot is a moron ( he said that coz of whatever happened in d past 2 years has drained him, but so did to others in the story…but everyone else has learnt to move on, so I don’t think it was a simply valid reason) and carter (as I said before) is an idiot

      Like

  19. so the placenta detached? placenta abruption….big time emergency….she will have to have a C-section asap….hurry with the update…..I had a friend who had this….hopefully they are not too far from the office, or Grace will have to do surgery at their place…..and Carla, someone cut off her head or something, what is wrong with her….?

    Like

  20. OMG. I can not wait til Monday. I can not wait til to tomorrow. Great chapter. Kate can not marry Carter. She simply does not love him. She loves Elliott/

    Like

  21. OMG! Could it be placental abruption, thank God that Grace is there, she might have to do an emergency C-section to save Ana and the baby’s life. Calliope will be deprived of oxygen, there’s not enough time to get to the hospital. I hope that both Ana and the baby are safe. Oh God, is Carla going to make the medical decisions for Ana, because knowing her she’s capable of telling Ray that he’s not Ana’s biological father and that Christian isn’t married to Ana, that she’s the only one making them because she’s her mother. Please tell me that they did the legal papers, advance health directives or a power of attorney so Christian can make the decisions, knowing Carrick he would have pressed them for it. I can’t stop thinking about her nightmare, someone kidnapping the baby, please don’t let it happen.
    This He was there, Ana saw him but didn’t recognized him, maybe after she gets her health back she might remember something. He killed Leila, I’m sorry for her but she got into this mess willingly, she was delusional and out for revenge because she thought she had a chance to get Christian, and Ana took him away from her. As I said before, I hope that she had some evidence hidden and have it delivered to Luke or Taylor in case of her death. Thank you Tara, this time I REALLY can’t wait for the next chapter.

    Like

    1. Yeah, that is my concern as well—there may be insufficient TIME to get to the hospital. Grace may have to act NOW, which Carla may try to deny her. Carla has never seemed to handle anything right, so I’m not hopeful she will suddenly have an epiphany now. I mean, she was basically attacking Grace earlier, and she has NO REASON to do this (EXCEPT for her possible JEALOUSY, which we have seen HINTED at by Ana in previous chapters regarding the grandmother’s seeming competition to out-do one another as “best grandmother.”).

      And Carrick is only just NOW getting his health back. So he may not have even THOUGHT about telling Christian and Ana to get paperwork in order regarding an emergency like this. But Ana is UNCONSCIOUS now, and not likely to regain consciousness in a reasonable time or way to make decisions for herself OR Calliope. And if Ray has not actually adopted Ana, then the medical decision WILL be Carla’s to make, IF they reach the hospital.

      But the Conspiracy Head did not actually SAY if he killed Leila. He said that she was “damaged” and that he was going to send Ana “a part” of Leila. But he NEVER replied outright to Ana’s question regarding killing Leila. So she MAY still be alive (although I doubt it). I just found it VERY interesting that he did NOT say that he had killed Leila. It is clever wording that SEEMS to elude to Leila’s imminent death, but at this point, we only KNOW that the Conspiracy Head seemingly SIDE-STEPPED answering this question. And since he was saying he would send Ana body parts of Leila, then he isn’t trying to keep Ana from recording his confession to murder, as that blatantly implies that if Leila is not dead yet, she has severe injuries (i.e. “damage” that HE eludes to).

      Like

    2. I would like to add that I don’t think that what happened to Ana has anything to do with the rough sex they had, that it has to do with her preeclampsia. That her blood pressure sky rocketed and caused the placental abruptio (I’m not an ob-gyn) as a result of the traumatic phone call by the head of the conspiracy, and the death of Leila. They should call 911 and they would be in the way while Grace does the C-section, (which I’m sure that Carla will not approve), Grace must have some kind of pain killer in her doctor bag, after Carrick’s surgery and chemotherapy. Calliope will need oxygen and the NICU, she’s premature she needs an incubator, poor baby girl. Christian is going to lose it, he loves them so much, Carla better stay away from him. (I can’t believe that I’m in so much pain for this FICTIONAL mother and baby.)
      I’ve said it before in other reviews, I think that Barney has something to do with the conspiracy, if he’s not the head of it, he is part of it. BUT WHY? I really don’t know. I believe he’s part of it because he had access to the GEH servers and nows almost everything that goes on at GEH, I believe that he was the one who planted evidence against Ros and Welch and I said so before.
      Tara, please throw us a bone, or have you already. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Conspiracy Head DEFINITELY knew enough about Christian AND the inner workings of GEH to be able to know that the people that NEEDED to be eliminated from GEH in order to make it vulnerable would be Ros and Welch. AND someone knew CHristian well enough to figure out how he would react to thinking they betrayed him AND in knowing that Ana’s laptop was the KEY to getting into the GEH server. So I believe you are right about SOMEONE from GEH having to work with the Conspiracy.

        I just don’t know what to think about Barney. On the surface, he seems to be a sweet guy, particularly as he helped Ana with the present that she wanted to give to Christian. The ONLY motivation I could see is that Barney resents not being given tech rights to some of his inventions at GEH, but he could simply quit.

        The only thing that causes me to be remotely suspicious in regards to Barney is that SOMEONE knew exactly the way to undermine GEH’s server. You need someone with really sophisticated tech knowledge, which we KNOW Barney had. And Barney came up with teh e-reader and other devices that have helped make SIP and GEH a success.

        So Barney has the intelligence and tech know-how to make this all possible. He ALSO presumably SHOULD have been someone that might have seen that something was wrong from the emails or server or wonder WHY people as important as Ros and Welch suddenly went away. Barney WOULD know what positions to compromise at GEH.

        And given Barney’s importance to GEH, I always wondered why someone didn’t attempt to compromise him as well. He was seemingly involved in all the latest tech developments at GEH and would be someone that the Conspiracy would definitely want to get away from Christian. So the fact that Barney was never targeted COULD mean something.

        So yeah, once again, Tara has produced still yet another character that COULD have more going on than we know. But there just does NOT seem to be the history or motive for it to be him. Tara has always given the villains SO much more depth then we ever had from the original characters from FSOG, so I can’t see the Conspiracy Head being someone we hardly know. But Tara ALWAYS knows how to shock us, even when you see something in particular coming.

        But my heart breaks for Grace if she made the wrong call regarding Ana when she originally examined her. As a doctor, Grace WILL try to help Ana prior to the ambulance arriving. I’m just wondering how Carla will react. I can see foolish Carla screaming and yelling that it is HER decision to make regarding Ana’s medical care, and then getting in the way of Grace trying to do anything. That will motivate Christian to HAVE to take action, and Ray will either SUPPORT Christian OR Carla, but he will HAVE to make a choice. Hopefully, since Ray certainly is USED to highly inflammatory situations, he will have TRAINING to handle Carla and get Ana what she needs.

        I ALSO think poor Christian WILL lose it at the hospital, and will blame himself as much as Carla could hope he would. But COOL HEADS need to prevail NOW especially, given that the Conspiracy Head is, quite literally, at there door (most likely). In fact, I could see the Conspiracy Head causing the ambulance to crash either before or after Ana is picked up, all to secure grabbing Ana.

        I guess it all will come down to whatever Grace is able to do for Ana at the house. Grace is NOT an OB/GYN but is a pediatrician. So the delivery part is NOT her forte, but she has hopefully had some sort of emergency training. She would certainly know what Ana’s medical choices would be AND what needs to happen first. ANd hopefully how much time that they have to work with before the baby or Ana could die.

        But Carla is NOT likely to just let Christian or Grace make ANY kind of decisions for Ana. So someone will HAVE to restrain Carla or override her, both in the home and later in the hospital.

        Like

  22. I don’t understand what Carla actually think she’s doing besides causing unnecessary drama, you would think by now she would realize that there’s nothing she can do or say that’s going to convince Ana to leave Christian, I get rays reactions of getting this new information thrown at him but I hate that he couldn’t wait until at least the next day to bring this up, why bother Ana with this on her graduation day😫 I’m just so annoyed with Kate what is it with her & Ana thinking it’s okay for carter to be constantly used as the rebound boy? Kate new she could never love carter like she loves Elliott, getting close enough to almost kiss him etc she’s just doing a bunch of things she wouldn’t want done to her🤞🏾 Nobody’s feelings deserves to be constantly playing with like that. lol it’s just a lot this chapter above all I REALLY hope Anastasia is OK her & the baby & I pray they don’t act a fool in this hospital 😂

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    1. And THAT may be the very next problem—we are all assuming that Ana has TIME to get to the hospital, which she may not. And I doubt Grace has what she NEEDS at the house to do some kind of immediate surgery.

      But I believe Kate TRIED to make a relationship work with Carter. She really was trying to move on and not use Carter. And there really IS no timeframe for knowing whether or not you love someone. I fault CARTER with going ahead and proposing when he KNOWS or SUSPECTS that Kate still loves Elliot. And WHY would you ask someone to marry you that has NEVER told you that they loved you? I think this is Carter trying to manipulate the situation to get what he wants. And I think it WILL get the desired result of getting Kate to decide that she does NOT love Carter and should break-up with him. You can’t stay in a relationship month after month on end HOPING that it will become love. Obviously, Kate does NOT love Carter and is NOT over Elliot. So she needs to end things with Carter and figure out what she needs to do to have a relationship with Elliot OR give herself the time she obviously needs before trying again with someone else.

      But CARLA is the definite wildcard here. She never listens to her OWN daughter, who has proved to have FAR better judgment than her own. Hopefully, Carla will work WITH Christian and the Grey family in this emergency, but knowing Carla, she will further jeopardize her daughter and granddaughter’s lives by insisting on wanting the direct OPPOSITE from whatever Grace recommends.

      I just hope the ambulance gets there FAST and is NOT prevented from helping Ana by the Conspiracy Head! AT LEAST a hospital gives Ana a chance, IF she has that kind of time. I do NOT want Grace in the position of operating on Ana. There is a REASON that doctor’s shouldn’t operate on family, particularly in a situation like this—where Grace’s granddaughter that she wants so much may not survive OR the even harder choice could be presented of saving mother OR child.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Omg…what a way to end this chapter so much suspense for the next chapter
    Kate doesn’t love Carter she can’t marry him why does it feel that he is doing this cause he doesn’t want to loose another girl to another Grey
    Elliot must be heart broken then making she’s going to say yes
    And Carla why bring all the drama on Ana the day of he graduation
    Who is the creep trying to sabotage Christian could it be someone Elena was linked to while she had her underground bdsm club
    Poor Ana she just can’t catch a break shes had so much fall on her in just a couple of hours
    Can’t wait for next Monday it can’t come soon enough I’m almost biting my nails wondering what you have in store for the next chapter

    Like

  24. Great chapter.
    Having to wait a week for an answer on Ana and the baby will be very trying on my nerves.
    I have a feeling Kate was saved so far of not saying no in front of so many people believing it’s to soon and since we don’t know what Elliott has offered in the talk in her room.
    I don’t believe Leila is really dead I think it was his way of finding out if Ana knew was Leila is.
    So many possibilities…. Can’t wait. Thank you.

    Like

    1. Like you, I DON’T think Leila is dead. The Conspiracy Head REFUSED to answer Ana point-blank when she asked if Leila was dead. So that make me think he MAY have her, but she is injured.

      But yeah, Carter HAS to know Kate does NOT love him. So proposing in front of EVERYBODY was an obvious way to exert pressure on her to say “yes.” I’m NOT liking Carter at the moment. I’m AT LEAST convinced that the Conspiracy Head is NOT Carter, as Ana would most certainly have recognized Carter standing in front of her.

      WHY did the Conspiracy Head pull that, by the by? DOES he want Ana to know his identity OR was he trying to determine IF Ana did, in fact, KNOW who he was?

      You’d think Andrew Lincoln would be familiar enough to Ana for her to recognize him, if it is indeed him. BUT Ana was always more fixated on ELENA and/or Christian whenever they were altogether, and it has been AT LEAST 3 years since Ana last saw Andrew anyway. If she wasn’t expecting to see Isaac, then that could explain why Ana might not recognize him as well.

      But it DEFINITELY sounds like someone that thought Ana SHOULD recognize him. And that cocky attitude IS so much like what we have seen from HYDE. But I can’t see him knowing SO MUCH about Elena UNLESS it turns out he WAS a client OR former submissive of Elena’s that was placed at GEH by her and became fixated on Ana and Christian after he was denied the prime position HE thought he was entitled to.

      And Taylor and Luke WOULD have recognized Hyde, just as he would be familiar with them. SIGH. But this guy, whoever he is, is WAY too dedicated and close in proximity to ALL of the Steele and Grey family members, INCLUDING Ana. So an attack is OBVIOUSLY imminent, and the emergency makes it THAT much harder for security to keep an eye on EVERYONE, particularly Ana, if she is wheeled into surgery. (AND Calliope, if she is put in the room with the other babies and left virtually unprotected, since we KNOW the Conspiracy Head will NOT be squeamish about leaving other victims.)

      Like

  25. “A truly strong person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep.”
    -Vernon Howard
    “I think all of us are always five years old in the presence of our parents.”
    – Sherman Alexie

    A quote for Ana and Kate on their graduation:
    “We were nostalgic for a time that wasn’t yet over.”
    – Nina LaCour

    “Is there anything worse than loving someone when they don’t love you back?
    I submit that there is not. Nothing is worse than an unrequited love. You might get “put in the friend zone.” Or maybe you just get straight up rejected by your crush. Either way, it feels like a bag of bricks have fallen on your chest.”
    -Tammy Lamoureux
    ” I miss someone who isn’t mine to miss. I dream about someone who isn’t mine to dream about. I love someone, who isn’t mine to love.”
    -Anonymous
    “You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back.”
    -Anonymous

    “If he speaks again without me knowing who he is, I will throw him out of the window. And I won’t open it first.”
    – Dan Abnett
    “If a danger threatens you, you threaten that danger too”
    – Mehmet Murat-ildan

    Like

  26. OMG! First off I really want to know what Kate and Elliot were talking about and I really really hope she says no to Carter she’s only known him for a couple of months and he seems like he’s just doing it because he’s jealous of Elliot. I hope Elliot and Kate end up together love them especially the way you have portrayed them in this story. I’ve never said this before but Monday needs to come fast, lol. I need to know what happens!!! Great chapter!

    Like

    1. Kate’s reply of “I can’t” seems to me to mean that Elliot asked if she would move back home with him and be together as a couple again. And because she is technically in a relationship with Carter and undecided about him, Kate replied with “I can’t.”

      That is my best guess, but it could be other things, like Elliot asking for Kate to go away on vacation with him to see if their feelings have changed, or something to that effect. Kate would end things first before she would even consider Elliot’s request, and if Elliot’s request was anything like the above, then he HASN’T yet realized what true commitment means if he would think that Kate would do that to Carter, wtih whom she is in a commited relationship.

      With Carter having effectively issued a “where do we stand Ultimatum” by bringing in the engagement ring, Kate HAS to decide what her feelings REALLY are. If she says no, and that she doesn’t love Carter, then the relationship is potentially over. Kate would then be free to re-examine her feelings.

      But I imagine that is the LAST thing on Kate’s mind NOW, given Ana’s predicament. And EVERYONE’s frustrations and conflict/drama do NOT help get Ana’s situation resolved AND increase the likelihood that SOMEONE thoughtlessly wanders off from the others.

      Like

  27. OMG POOR ANA AND CHRISTIAN! THAT POOR LITTLE BABY, I HOPE THEY ARE ALRIGHT. I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY KILLED LEILA! I DON’T MUCH CARE REALLY, I NEVER LIKED HER. DOESN’T MEAN SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN KILLED THOUGH! I CAN’T HELP WONDER WHO WAS ON THE PHONE. I DON’T TRUST CARTER TO MUCH FOR SOME REASON. IT COULDN’T BE HIM, ANA WOULD KNOW HIS VOICE, WOULDN’T SHE? I AM NOT THRILLED WITH CARLA EITHER. WHY DOES SHE HATE CHRISTIAN SO MUCH? SHE IS BEING RIDICULOUS. I’M WORRIED ABOUT RAY. HE SEEMS AS THOUGH HE WOULD GIVE CHRISTIAN A CHANCE. I DO FEEL BAD FOR ELLIOT! WHY IS CARTER PROPOSING TO KATE SO QUICK? SHE WASN’T ALLOWED TO GO TO HIS PARENTS WITH HIM. WHY WOULD HE MARRY HER? HIS FAMILY WOULDN’T COME TO THE WEDDING, RIGHT? PLEASE LET ANA AND THE BABY BE OK. I CANT WAIT FOR THE NEXT CHAPTER. THIS WAS A GREAT ONE! THANK YOU!

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  28. Yikes! We have to wait a week to find out what happens with Ana and the baby in this emergency situation? I hope Christian has Ana’s written authority to make medical decisions for her. *frets*

    Like

    1. And THAT is what it all comes down to–if Christian has the written authority to make medical decisions for Ana.

      If Christian DOES NOT have the properly signed written authorization to make medical decisions for Ana, then it falls to Carla and Ray. And JUST Carla if Ray didn’t actually adopt her.

      And Carla will undoubtedly BLAME Grace for not having told her about Ana’s spotting, even though CARLA NEVER followed up when Christian SAID that Grace was EXAMINING ANA for medical reasons. Carla was SO CAUGHT UP in her own drama that it went completely over her head that Ana had something going on necessitating Grace examining her.

      So when Grace or an EMT says that Ana needs a c-section NOW, Carla will automatically object, wanting another “medical opinion.” And even if another doctor AGREES with Grace, then Carla can still refuse to go with that OR hold off on making her decision.

      And medical doctors CAN sometimes operate on someone to save their life, but you can only override family in rare situations. And the TIME it takes to file the paperwork or get the opinions NECESSARY for the override may be time that Ana and/or Calliope does not have.

      So yeah, THAT is the VERY issue of contention between the families that I expect next chapter, assuming Ana is unable to wake up. (And even if she DOES wake up, she may be in NO condition to understand her options, similar to Sybil in Downton Abbey.)

      Like

  29. Pasaron tantas cosas.
    No puedo creer que Carla le contará a Ray todo sobre Elena.
    Es un tema muy delicado.
    Quien será ese hombre que llamó a Ana. Será que Leila murió?
    Ay Dios que todo este bien con Calliope, esa pérdida fue muy grande.

    Like

  30. Oh, I hope baby Calliope will be okay and Ana too! Who the heck is the Conspiritor? It’s driving me nuts, lol! All in good time, I know. Such a pissing contest between Elliot and Carter. It was inappropriate for Elliot to give Kate such an extravagant gift especially in front of Carter. Kate was “saved by the bell” with Ana’s scream and didn’t have a chance to answer the proposal. Such a good story! I’m loving it!!

    Like

  31. Incredible chapter. That, “Hello, Anastasia” as her eyes are scanning the crowd gave me chills. ❤️❤️❤️

    Ok, so what about this….is it possible that the voice on the phone was really the head guy but one of his minions was in the crowd at graduation instead of him? Or the other way around; a minion made the call but the Big Bad was literally standing right in front of her??It would enable “them” to derail Ana (stress wise) and still protect their identity. So for arguments sake, if that is remotely true…….it could still be someone they know that’s close to Christian (member of security team?) or Ana. Hell at this point even good ole dependable Andrea could be the one. (LOL)

    This is so fun!! Everyone’s comments are awesome. 👍

    Like

  32. OHMYGOSH that was so cruel!
    What a freaking cliffhanger to end us on! That was absolutely terrifying lol…
    Goddamn it.
    Give me next Monday already!
    Awwww Kate. Literally love her so much. She’s just goddamn amazing. And I want her and Elliot 😉
    I thought Carter was awkward…
    Carla and Ray…while I’m glad that Ray is really trying to see the Christian that Ana does, I haven’t actually seen him try to talk to Christian. He’ll talk to everyone else and form the opinion then, before it seems like he’s talking to Christian. And that’s really heartbreaking to me 😦
    Because Christian does love Ana so much, and although it’s been stressful AF in their lives, I think it’s so apparent the love that Christian and Ana share!
    Still feeling a little weird about what Luke said to Ray…it just sits weird with me.
    Carla can kiss me butt!
    But that was a goddamn amazing chapter and I literally almost teared up! This is such an amazing story and I can’t wait to read more!!
    Thank you for sharing this absolutely amazing story!!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. First poor Ana is bleeding and thank goodness it was only because of Christian’s fingernails. 🙂 Then Ray attacks about Elena Lincoln because of Carla’s big mouth!

    Have to love Kate for breaking the tension with her question, about which outfit say that she is the class valedictorian and hot as hell. LOL I bet Ray and Christian were both beaming with pride for Ana being Summa Cum Laude.

    I love that not only did Elliott buy her those earrings but the story behind it and that he kept the note all this time and gave it to her with his present.

    I can’t believe that guy that has been stalking them was at the graduation! Is Leila really dead? That would be so unfair to her since she helped Ana. 😦

    I don’t think Carter is going to like Kate’s answer to his imprompto proposal or am I wrong?

    Please tell us all that the baby and Ana make it?????????

    Like

  34. Someone very close to them, new security as the conspirator???? Can anyone think of a new CPO? But then Iike others, Lincoln would be up there, after all Christian destroyed him.
    I just can only imagine the chaos that will happen in the next chapter. Carla and Ray are on my shit list for jumping Ana on her graduation…. How crass of them! I don’t care if they are her parents or not it was insensitive of them to corner her on her big day! And right now not impressed by Ray I thought he have more moxie than to take what Carla said and run with it! I thought he would have the decency to speak with Christian. He has talked to everyone but Christian…Luke, Carla. Has he forgotten Christian got him back early for Ana?
    And now Ana and Calliope are in distress and I’m sure Christian is crazy but I hope he tells them to Feck off, after all he is the father.
    Carter has learned zero from freshman year, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he wasn’t somehow involved. And let’s not forget about Gia she has disappeared off the face of the planet? Maybe that was her on the phone with some voice scrambler to sound like a man. Did Lelia ever see the head conspirator?
    Yep I’m grasping at straws!!
    Thanks Tara!!

    Like

  35. Oh no this is just getting to be too much for Ana. Poor woman… when will she have a break? I hope her and the baby will be ok. I feel for Christian too. This latest events will only heighten Carla’s dislike and accusations of Christian and reaffirm her belief that he is no-good for Ana.
    I really do believe that Carter is involved somehow. Too many coincidences…He’s the only ‘outsider’ that has been in both their homes in Cambridge and Escala. My theory is that he still holds a grudge against Christian for “stealing” Ana from him…. but I still think that Jack Hyde is the masterminder and the devil in disguise. I hope they catch the “boogie-man” soon and Ray gets his army buddies to “take care of him” so that poor Ana and Christian, their families including the security team can have a break…

    Like

  36. Oh no this is just getting to be too much for Ana. Poor woman… when will she have a break? I hope her and the baby will be ok. I feel for Christian too. This latest events will only heighten Carla’s dislike and accusations of Christian and reaffirm her belief that he is no-good for Ana.
    I really do believe that Carter is involved somehow. Too many coincidences…He’s the only ‘outsider’ that has been in both their homes in Cambridge and Escala. My theory is that he still holds a grudge against Christian for “stealing” Ana from him…. but I still think that Jack Hyde is the masterminder and the devil in disguise. I hope they catch the “boogie-man” soon and Ray gets his army buddies to “take care of him” so that poor Ana and Christian, their families including the security team can have a break…

    Like

    1. I just think Ana would have recognized Hyde, even if it HAS been almost a year since she worked with him. After all, he came up to her at the GEH party in the interim, AND Ana reported that to Sawyer who would have presumably recognized Hyde as well.

      After all, the Conspiracy Head has to have thought he would NOT be recognized by security at the graduation ceremony. But he IS feeling confident having brought down Leila when Taylor and Christian couldn’t find her while desperately trying to do so.

      So the Conspiracy Head seemingly remains a step or ten ahead of our people. And watching Ana, he STILL chose to stay on the phone, obviously seeing that Luke was trying to record the call.

      But I wonder if the center where the graduation party was to be will have cameras? THAT would show who had been lurking around in the background that someone might recognize. HOWEVER, that is OBVIOUSLY going to be the LEAST of the concerns right now, given Ana’s situation.

      But like you, I have always just assumed that Hyde was a recruit of the Conspiracy. I just didn’t see how Hyde could have SO much power and SO much rage when he never even lost his job to begin with. He just didn’t get to be the head of SIP. And for that, he risks a lengthy jail sentence to kill members of his own Conspiracy in the attempt at “destroying” Christian and Ana?

      At this point in time, Hyde being the head of the Conspiracy doesn’t make sense. We don’t have enough backstory for him yet. We DO know that he holds a SERIOUS grudge against Ana for not having insisted he get the head post at SIP. Since he KNOWS Ana’s influence on Christian, Hyde could presume that Christian WOULD have given the job to Hyde if Ana had insisted.

      But I still don’t think the above is enough to warrant Hyde going insane and going to this extreme. HOWEVER, if OTHER individuals manipulated him, then Hyde COULD be the big-bad. After all, he could have been a client of Elena who got his thrills in dominating others. AND he could have been the guy that wanted Mia and was prevented by Ana. So if we learn MORE behind Hyde, then yes, he is certainly well-placed to be involved and even be the Head, if there was more going on behind the scenes.

      After all, Elena was willing to risk Christian’s wrath by exposing an underage Mia to that client at her bar. So he was VERY influential and VERY important, which Hyde certainly was NOT at that time. HOWEVER, Hyde could have still been a client that gained information and blackmail material AND influence and money as a result of securing Elena’s bar blackmail material from Isaac. So there ARE possibilities out there that WOULD make Hyde a stronger possibility for COnspiracy Head.

      (Now THAT may be an interesting fun project for Tara after completing the main story parts—give us Outtakes from the Conspiracy Head that let us know when and why he decided to form the Conspiracy.)

      Like

      1. I’ll admit, I would LOVE to know when and how the Conspiracy Head first decided to go after Christian. WHEN exactly did the Head decide that Christian HAD to suffer AND that it was worth bringing destruction and despair to SO MANY others, just to get revenge on Chrisitan. I mean, does the guy see himself as doing a GOOD thing in destroying Christian? Is it about righting a wrong or just getting revenge? It really IS consuming trying to figure out just what made Mr. Conspiracy Head fully break and decide on such a path. And GIVEN his very REAL skills at building a conspiracy and controlling others and the situation, WHY did he lose everything to Christian in the FIRST place?

        It is SUCH a personal grudge, and he knows EXACTLY where and how to attack Christian AND where to attack GEH. He has clearly studied Christian and has had an almost uncanny knack for knowing JUST how Christian will react to pressure. So this, in my opinion, is someone that has KNOWN Christian for a long time. And has made a point to REALLY study him for whatever reason (again, in my opinion, because of ALL the signals that he FAILED to see from the past.) I’m still obviously leaning towards Andrew Lincoln, as I imagine he was HAUNTED by failing to have seen that Christian and Elena were involved. And I bet it consumed him about how LITTLE he ever REALLY knew Elena, his own wife, when he thought of himself as having “rescued” her from her past. I mean, Elena CLEARLY HATED him, and yet he never knew it.

        And then to literally lose everything that he had spent a lifetime building, all by a child that he considered to be FAMILY and who’s family contained his best friends. Who then seemingly helped Elena destroy Andrew further yet accepted Christian back lovingly. SO MUCH story there, and you could see why that would CONSUME the man.

        So I still see WHY you could write an entire book on Andrew alone. For all he has done, I STILL feel sorry for him, at least for what happened to him. He did NOT deserve what Christian did to him at the trial and the FACT that Christian obviously NEVER gave thought to ALL the harm he had done to Andrew in the first place. But that is no excuse for him making the decisions he has and deciding that it is somehow HIS job to punish Christian, YET all the horror that happened and backlash that came at a clueless Andrew clearly rendered him insane and as vindictive as Elena ever was.

        So Andrew’s WHOLE backstory of a slow decent into hellish madness due to Christian’s AND Elena’s choices, his complete fall from grace when HE began as the victim. And how he would focus on Ana as well, because after all the damage that Christian did, he STILL got the love of his life while Andrew was left utterly alone.

        BUT DOES THAT MEAN that you WILL give us a few Outtake chapters from Mr. Conspiracy Head???? Seeing inside his head would give FURTHER insight into the characters we already know and love.

        (But hey, the OUTTAKES alone from this WHOLE story could be even LONGER than Ana’s point of view! After all, I think we would ALL love to get in Elliot’s and Carter’s heads JUST to see what they REALLY feel and think and if they ever learned anything at ALL from their bad decisions. AND that conversation between Ray and Luke REALLY seems to have intrigued a lot of people!)

        Like

  37. Ok. I totally agree with others that there’s something weird about Carter. The biggest red flag is not once have we seen his family. First, Kate’s not invited to his pre graduation dinner with his family and second when he proposed he proposed in front of the Greys but not in front of either his family or her family. Which just seems odd to me. But, that being said, I definitely don’t want to see someone with Kate that’s capable of plotting murder. The biggest reason is, that as much as I want to see Kate and Elliot (make him work for it) back together, the biggest reason I don’t want him to be part of, The Conspiracy, is because of what she went through with the crazy stalker that killed people in her dorm because he wanted to be with her. I think it’d be too much for her to have yet another crazy killer around her but this time one she’s been intimate with. I had a crazy thought that maybe, The Conspiracy, could of been motivated not by someone Christian knows but maybe by someone in Ana’s past and specifically someone connected with Carla, like the ex, Steve Morton. Someone that read all the bad press and knew who to get involved. But now I’m not sure if it’s that either because I’m not sure he’d have the means and I can’t really remember his history or if there even was one in your story. Lincoln, right now seems like the obvious choice but you never do the obvious. Plus, in the short bits I read about him in this story he didn’t seem to be evil. He was just unfortunately, married to Elena and seemed just as appalled as everyone else that they were having an affair. But maybe, instead of blaming his wife he started blaming the victim and developed a need for revenge. If that were the case, him and Elena were a match made in hell. I hoping it’s not Barney like it could be suggested and of course, it could be Hyde but who ever it is this is very, very personal and they’re obviously a psycho path!!!

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    1. Like you, I DON’T want Carter to be a part of the Conspiracy because of how that would make Kate feel. She would be DEVASTATED to learn that she had brought someone in that was keeping tabs on her best friend and arranged for the attack on Ana. After ALL Kate went through with the stalker, she would NOT want to think she had helped, even unwittingly, put someone in the SAME position to do the unthinkable to Ana.

      Like you, I think Andrew Lincoln was NOT evil to begin with. He was TRYING to get Christian help in approaching Carrick IMMEDIATELY about what Elena did. He also threw her out and began divorce proceedings.

      But Andrew obviously had a pre-nup with Elena that would have made adultery cut her out of most of his money. So Elena getting Christian to LIE on the stand for her made Andrew LOSE a great deal of his fortune, all when he had tried to HELP Christian.

      So Christian would have devastatingly burned Andrew and embarrassed him. I mean, at that point, Andrew clearly loses his friends and moves to the OTHER SIDE of the country in order to get away from everything.

      THEN Andrew undoubtedly learns of Christian’s paying ELENA to come talk to some of HIS OWN BOARD members of his company to get Christian to take away his company, too. AND then Andrew loses his company, his last remaining asset that he had worked for his ENTIRE life, ALL while knowing that CHRISTIAN STARTED HIS OWN COMPANY with HIS MONEY. Yet then proceeds to LIE and burn him in court, start his own company, and RUIN Andrew.

      So yeah, the above could be enough to make ANY good man insane. ESPECIALLY when Andrew gets to see that Christian seemingly has NO CONSEQUENCES for all the evil actions he did. AND Christian seemingly PROTECTED Elena until he, himself, was threatened. Then Christian disposes of Elena as well, something ANDREW couldn’t do.

      And Christian gets the company AND the woman he loves, all while completely destroying Andrew and seemingly NOT CARING for the fact that THIS MAN tried to HELP him. Chistian never cared what it did to Andrew to take his company from him, a man that he had known for almost his ENTIRE life.

      To Christian, it was “just business.” But to Andrew, it was EXTREMELY PERSONAL in that he lost EVERYTHING to someone he trusted and tried to save. And NO ONE made Christian pay, since Ana obviously didn’t threaten to leave Christian when he destroyed Andrew.

      So yeah, Andrew really DOES have EVERY reason to hate Christian. And to want to take from Christian that which HE valued the most. AND do it in such a fashion as callously and methodically as Christian seemingly did to Andrew.

      So Christian really HAS caused a lot of wanton destruction AND heartache, all in the name of “business.” Christian seemingly hasn’t cared who he hurt in his meteoric rise. And I get that corporations and bosses can’t always just take their employees’ feelings and situations into account, but you also get why said employees who have worked HARD for a corporation will feel abandoned when let go and not compensated or helped, DESPITE their hard work.

      How Christian treated Andrew WAS appalling, in EVERY sense of the word. He SHOULD have had more feeling for someone that was FAMILY to him his whole life. As Carrick himself said, he and Grace DID treat Christian right from wrong. Christian always DID know that what he did was WRONG, but he did it anyway. And THEN, he wronged Andrew OVER AND OVER and took EVERYTHING, including his dignity and life’s work, away from him.

      So yeah, when you consider what Christian has done, you get why a man like RAY would worry so much for his daughter. If Christian could throw away his FAMILY or those that have been CONSIDERED FAMILY for so long, then what could he do if he got tired of Ana? Destroy her, too, so thta she is in no position to keep Calliope? Because Christian’s actions show that he is CAPABLE of being able to manipulate a situation and destroy others.

      Now, OBVIOUSLY I believe there is so much MORE to Christian’s character than the above. Christian tried to help all the girls that were employees of Elena’s bar. And we all KNOW how much Christian loves Ana and his family. But Andrew’s perspective, as a VICTIM of Christian’s, will be of a selfish young man that never served time or had consequences for all that he did to HIM. So YEAH, I could see Andrew going INSANE and thinking that what he was doing was RETRIBUTION and revenge for all that was done. And Andrew DID have SOME of CHristian’s OWN EMPLOYEES who were miffed at not being, in their opinion, fairly compensated for their OWN intellectual property.

      So Andrew may seem himself as a crusader for the little guy and victim like himself. He could have even seen Leila as another victim who tried to stop Christian, knowing that he was bringing Elena’s prostitutes into GEH. (I mean, Leila WAS smarter than Christian about knowing what Elena was doing. SHE thought to investigate the girls that Elena brought to the office when Christian SHOULD have had enough SENSE to never trust Elena.) In Andrew’s mind, he tried to get Leila the REVENGE that she wanted, only to have HER, TOO, BETRAY him, something he would NOT tolerate again.

      So yeah, the psychological picture above gives the rationale for WHY a seemingly good man fell from power and goodness and civility because he was utterly destroyed while TRYING to do good. So it makes SENSE to me that it would be Andrew Lincoln, given the history that Tara has supplied thus far.

      Like

    2. And one other thing. Dogs sense of smell are a 1000x stronger than humans. Since Champ was there when Ana got attacked maybe he’ll be able to detect who they were if it was an inside job! It’d be interesting to see him go after the jerks that attacked her that day!

      Like

      1. I hadn’t thought of Champ smelling Leila’s scent on EITHER the thugs that the Conspiracy Head sends OR on himself, if he attempts to breach the house defenses before Ana can be brought to the hospital. That WOULD be the one thing the Conspiracy Head would not have expected.

        Champ won’t be at the hospital though. But that IS assuming that the attack come at the hospital rather than before. But I admit that I would LOVE for Champ to get some of his OWN payback, including identifying the thugs that Ana is no longer awake to identify.

        Like

  38. Okay, Tara confirmed that Leila is dead. That actually adds a WHOLE other component to this—HOW wicked smart do you have to be to find Leila, who had been trying to orchestrate a plan for her own disappearance since figuring out Ana was pregnant.

    Maybe the Head Guy was so paranoid that he had eyes on the observers tasked with watching Ana. I mean, Leila KNEW not to go anywhere the Conspiracy Head would think to look for her, yet he found her.

    And if the Conspiracy Head could find and kill Leila, then he would have no problem in grabbing Gia. While I couldn’t see any use Gia could be to the Conspiracy Head now that she is not together with Elliot, there were still scheduling things and security things that Gia might have still had access of knowledge of, so I can now see Gia as being another dead victim of the Conspiracy Head. But you would THINK that he would have brought THAT up to Ana as well while talking with her on the phone.

    And it is interesting that the Conspiracy Head clearly isn’t bothered by security attempting to TRACE his call. THAT could be telling, in that he thinks he can rely on SOMEONE on the security team to keep that from happening.

    Well, the Conspiracy Head CAN’T just be a client of Elena’s that Ana never met. Ana DOES know this person, but that doesn’t really eliminate ANYONE from the suspect list at this time.

    But the Conspiracy Head CLEARLY has reasons to be fixated on ANA through all of this. It is ANA that is always the target, and ANA that the Conspiracy Head reaches out to. So the grudge is NOT just against Christian, although taking Ana would obviously destroy Christian thoroughly. And the Conspiracy Head KNOWS this.

    Astor Harrington knew DIRECTLY from Elena about how important Ana was to Christian. And Astor had to plan a way to lure Ana alone with him at least once to get the photo, and SOMEONE else had taken the photo. And that someone ELSE could have been CARTER, as he seemingly showed up to “comfort” Ana right afterwards (or maybe was sent to allay suspicion).

    And Astor could have recruited Carter, and encouraged him to pursue Kate so that there would be ready access to Ana and/or Christian at all times. Carter has always wanted what Christian had, and while he seemingly seemed to JOKE about this, there might have been REAL fire behind his jokes to stay in Escala and on Christian’s plane since the Conspiracy hoped to deprive Christian of EVERYTHING that he had. And Astor would EXPECT Ana to recognize him.

    But Astor and Carter didn’t seem to have anyone with a Genius IQ to pull off the tech and outsmarting Leila and security stuff. Again, though, that could come from OTHER members of the COnspiracy.

    A new security guy is a definite possibility. We KNOW that Taylor didn’t get the time to do the complete vetting process that he might otherwise have done. They needed people RIGHT AWAY and had to hope for the best.

    Discontented elements at GEH behind a united head is also entirely possible. That brings Hyde, Barney, Brian and others like that into play.

    But the Conspiracy Head had FAR more ties to Seattle and connections there which is why I have tended to eliminate Astor or Carter from the mix and leaned more towards Andrew Lincoln and/or Isaac. I DEFINITELY still feel that Andrew Lincoln has the BEST motive to go after Christian and Ana. After all, Andrew Lincoln would RESENT that Christian got to keep HIS significant other after allying himself with Elena against him, both to get Elena MORE than what she should have had in the divorce AND to take his company against him to boot. Andrew was made to lose EVERYTHING and look the fool, all while being cuckolded by his wife AND after trying to HELP Christian, who had been abused by Elena.

    Yet CHristian never received real consequences for lying on the stand and doing all that he did, at least from Andrew’s point of view. AND Christian was then able to take Elena down. And THAT trial was obviously followed by the COnspiracy Head who then knew to recruit Leila for his conspiracy.

    So there are still multiple possibilities out there. AND the Conspiracy Head is within STRIKING DISTANCE of Ana at the time when she is MOST under distress and LEAST able to help herself. And there will be obvious confusion with getting Ana treatment quickly. AND add a tense and suspicious RAY and vindictive and manipulative CARLA to the mix, and you practically have people STILL doing the COnspiracy Head’s work for him.

    Like

  39. I also had the thought of Stephen Morton, husband #3, being the Conspiracy head from this chapter. I thought the phone conversation was very personal and directed only at Ana. She knew him, but hadn’t seen him for years. Carla sent Ana away and Stephen never had his chance to have her. I think, he ran into Elena at the club. Elena found out his connections to Ana and filed that information away until she needed it. Wouldn’t that be a twist if the kidnapping was based on the man that Carla had brought into her life and nothing to do with Christian?!?!

    Elena has more power and money than we think. I think, she is orchestrating everything from jail by blackmailing her contacts. She brought Stephen into the game with his prize of finally getting Ana. Did someone get to Carla and is blackmailing her to attempt to split Ana and Christian up? Her 180 degree turn on her opinion of Christian after everything she enjoyed, doesn’t ring true.

    Now that Ana and Calliope are both in danger of dying, I hope Carla is not the only legal parent. Did Ray ever officially adopt her? If Ray has a say in the matter, he is a man of reason and will believe Ana and grant Christian access to Ana. Ray will also witness Christian’s love for Ana first hand through this drama.

    I can’t wait for Monday again. I love all thought provoking comments, which a true testament to your writing. Thanks again.

    Like

    1. I’d also discounted Stephen Morton because he never made an appearance in this story previously. But he COULD have seen some of the press regarding Ana and resented that she got happiness after he was prevented from dominating and belittling and abusing Ana as well as Carla, since Ana was strong enough to get out.

      And we KNOW how Elena researched Christian’s enemies, including KNOWING to approach Astor Harrington in an attempt to break up Christian and Ana. And it nearly DID work, if Astor had not come to find Elena.

      So yeah, I could see Elena DEFINITELY researching Ana’s past. After all, Elena’s club DID even have a hired Dominant to train submissives, and this individual could have been Stephen. Or else, he could have been a client of the club. Elena ALWAYS had an ace up her sleeve and a contingency plan to destroy Christian if he ever discovered what she was REALLY doing. Elena ALWAYS tried to make sure that her clients and others were made “dirty” by doing certain misdeeds so that she could control or blackmail them later. So ANYTHING is possible at this point.

      But I would still think that Ana would recognize Stephen. And I have also, like you, wondered if someone could have maybe threatened CARLA so that she would do everything to break up Christian and Ana. It could be that the Conspiracy Head even left word that he would NOT harm Ana IF Carla got Christian to break up with her. Would explain Carla’s desperation to get the deed done immediately.

      Sigh. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES. We just have to wait and see, but I FREELY Admit that the wait is killing me here!!!!!!!! And with the Conspiracy Head seemingly SO powerful, I’m wondering JUST how much it will take to bring HIM down AND how much carnage will be left in the Conspiracy Head’s wake!!!!

      Like

  40. Tara Rocks Our World! She never disappoints, always delivers and causes us to think. But, she is also the master of cliffhangers –
    especially this week!

    A commenter a couple of chapters ago brought up the thought that HE, the CONSPIRATOR, might be Carla’s Ex/Ana’s Stepfather,
    Steve. I also noticed a comment today was made along the same vein. What a FAB twist this would be if it would turn out that Steve
    IS the Conspirator! And it would be even more ‘interesting’ if HE somehow had ties to Christian i.e. being his father or someone else
    with either a Detroit or negative business connection. For Steve, It would be two birds/one stone. That would really shut Carla up, permanently; especially with the ‘Christian is the cause of all Ana’s dangers and problems’ diatribe she dwellson constantly.
    Oh, Poetic Justice, how sweetly ironic!

    If Ray and Carla knew of Christian’s early childhood situation, it might give them more understanding and compassion towards his
    control issues. If they took the time to really get to know him, as Ana has been begging, and learn of the major generosity to his
    employees, philanthropic charitable contributions and humanitarian gestures world-wide he achieves anonymously, possibly they
    would be a bit more understanding and grateful that their daughter possesses the incredible love and devotion of a man who lives
    to adore and protect her and their soon-to-be born daughter, who will never want for anything.I am truly hoping that, if major medical decisions need to be made re this current situation with Ana, Christian would just pull a Power Of Attorney document out of his pocket revealing that it was something he and Ana did quietly as a precautionary measure – specifically with Ana not wanting her mother to
    make any crucial decisions, particularly with Ray being overseas. If that is not the case, Ana has Ray’s last name and if he legally
    adopted her,Carla would be forced to share the medical decision-making with him.

    I remain most optimistic for a Kate/Elliot reconciliation, which would be the perfect outcome for their saga as, I am certain, most readers
    also hope.Conceivably, when they were interrupted in Kate’s bedroom, Elliot was at the very least, leaning in for an ‘I miss us terribly’ kiss. Or, more likely, attempting to give Kate the earrings in private. (And, what an amazing and apropos gift, AND he kept Kate’s note all this time!! Most touching!) Maybe also reassuring Kate that being with Gia and without her has opened his eyes to what marriage and family could mean to him. He envies the relationship Ana and Christian have and may now realize that this IS what he does want to have with
    Kate. I greatly hope for a Kate & Elliot reunion very soon! Maybe even a double wedding!

    Has the Gia situation/disappearance gone by the way-side with all that has been going on at present? And, why would Carter be so
    insanely jealous and go so far as to propose to Kate if he was involved in the conspiracy?

    (please do not use my full name)

    Like

  41. I believe the person behind this is Mr Lincoln. He lost so much because of Christian. When Christian lied on the stand Elena got off and in the divorce got at least half of lincolns wealth. Christian cost him his wife, marriage and money. Ana would know him but just doesn’t remember because it was So long ago. The person behind this doesn’t love Ana , they HATE Christian. What better why to make him pay than to take Christian’s money, which he would gladly give up to try and save Ana and what better way to destroy Christian than killing the loves of his life and let him live with that. I believe Ana and calliope will be fine but rough waters are ahead for them all. Can’t wait till next monday!

    Like

  42. Fuck a duck on Christmas Day!! Ok Carter is acting weird and so is Carla!! Could Carter be the “man”? Carla needs to get a freaking clue!! Poor Elliot! I really hope him and Kate get back together and I am one of those people who don’t like the Kate in other stories!

    Like

  43. REALLY Interesting thing to note (at least, to me): WHO will be narrating the NEXT CHAPTER???

    After all, Ana is unconscious now. This chapter ended with a basic “fade to black” scenario, and I can’t see Ana suddenly waking up lucid. The story has been told through Ana’s point of view thus far, so either we have a time-jump to Ana waking up in the hospital after everything childbirth-related has happened, OR we have a “Divergence”-style changing of a Narrator for next chapter.

    Thus far, Ana’s DREAMS have also never really led to anything but to scare us (AND give insight into Ana’s true fears such as seeing Elena get Christian back, Christian sleep with Gia, Christian found guilty in court and led away to prison, Ana being kidnapped while out running, etc.) So Ana’s dream HERE of having first Calliope disappear before she could EVEN hold her daughter for the first time AND Christian’s disappearance thereafter SHOULD just be her fears rather than any precognitive events. HOWEVER, Ana DID have a previous dream where the Conspiracy Head indicated that she KNEW him, which DOES seem to be true (or her mind trying to clue her in that she DID know who HE was).

    But with ANA being the Narrator for the main story, then that means she is awake enough to make her OWN decisions regarding childbirth OR we get SOMEONE ELSE telling us what happens after Ana falls unconscious. So we have NO IDEA WHERE ANA WILL WAKE UP.

    If Ana continues to be the Narrator, then she may wake up in the hospital WITHOUT knowing what has happened to Calliope. And someone ELSE will then have to tell Ana what has gone on. Which means ANYTHING could have happened, if Ana fell into a COMA after the events of this chapter. (MEANING minor TIME JUMP has occurred, since Ana was a non-entity, consciousness-wise, for whatever has gone on.)

    So the above presents ANY NUMBER of possible scenarios. Either someone ELSE narrates the Hospital Drama, assuming everyone makes it to the hospital, or Ana wakes up AT HOME in Cambridge, having had a HOME delivery.

    Even with a home delivery, there is ALWAYS the recommendation that the parties THEN go to the hospital to make sure everything is okay. So the Conspiracy Head could attack EN ROUTE or even FAKE being the real hospital staff, pile Ana and Calliope into a stolen ambulance, and then jet off for whereabouts unknown. So Ana would be AWAKE to know she and her baby were being kidnapped, but unable to do anything, given her condition.

    SO next chapter will be REALLY interesting to see if we have some type of TIME JUMP, assuming Ana is still narrating, for whenever Ana wakes up. OTHERWISE, someone ELSE may be narrating. Maybe Grace or Christian. HHHMMMMMMM. (I doubt Tara will let us know this crucial tidbit about next chapter.)

    For those that have never read them, there is a “Divergence” young adult trilogy book series where the MAIN FEMALE character narrates the first 2 books. The third book, though, has ANOTHER narrator for part of it, which SHOULD have clued the audience in that the MAIN character would die before the conclusion of the book, making another narrator crucial to finishing the story. This was an UNEXPECTED device to keep the story going even though the primary narrator was now gone. So a NEW NARRATOR can always NOW mean any number of things to come.

    Obviously, we need SOMEONE to tell us about the childbirth drama, and I doubt Ana will be in a position to narrate it. WOW. SERIOUSLY WONDERING NOW about what Tara will be doing with the next chapter!!!!!!!

    (BUT if Tara is NOT planning ANY narrator changes, then Ana WILL live to finish narrating the story herself. THAT is why the narrator issue may prove critical. Double hhhhhhmmmmmmm.)

    Like

    1. Interesting point. In E L James’ original book, Ana can hear Christian talking to his mother, but she can’t waken to respond, and she drifts in and out of several conversations that way. Maybe we won’t even know all of what happened until we get the “outtakes” with others’ points of view. If so, that will be another series of cliffhangers, waiting to see what each character thought/said. Aiiieee .. I can’t stand it! Isn’t it Monday yet!!!

      Like

      1. In E L James’ version of “Fifty Shades Freed,” Ana was beaten and had a head injury, but you never doubted that she would wake up. It was an almost lucid coma, so she did hear a lot of stuff going on around her (such as the detective talking to Christian, Christian talking to his mother, the doctor evaluating “Blip,” etc.). That way, we, the readers, got to know what was going on as it happened, although we were missing details until Christian was able to fill Ana in later. And Ana WAS able later to recall certain things about “Blip’s” birth, but by that time, we already knew that Teddy was fine (and that Ana was pregnant with Phoebe).

        Here, though, depending on what is wrong with Ana, even if she WAS unconscious, she may not be rational or able to deduce what is going on around her, especially if it is eclampsia. I mean, Sybil on “Downton Abbey” barely knew who she was and didn’t even know what year it was or where she was. So Ana could be seeing or hearing things that are NOT real. AND she would be unable to tell or know what was REALLY going on. (Which would mean that WE don’t know what is real and what is not since Ana can’t differentiate.)

        So all the family drama about who calls the shots for Ana will be going on elsewhere (unless Tara does a similar drifiting in and out of consciousness-style thing).

        This situation seems so different and I can’t imagine Ana being able to be conscious for much of anything. And I would figure that the doctors would HAVE to knock Ana out if they were going to be operating on her. Ana would be in a hospital OR room while the family would be elsewhere deciding what happens next. And so much depends on whether or not they are looking at being in a position to have to CHOOSE to save mother OR child or if they can save BOTH and what the risks are.

        So Ana may wake up in a hospital room and realize that she is not pregnant anymore. And she wouldn’t know WHAT had happened, especially if she is still under the influence of the heavy medication from surgery. AND I am wondering who ELSE will be in the room with Ana. I can see Carla having Christian BANNED from the room with Ana. And if Christian takes it badly and starts screaming back at Carla, etc., then he could even get banned from the hospital.

        You hope that Carla won’t be that vindictive or petty, but the Carla of recent chapters seems FULLY capable of something as mean-spirited as telling hospital personnel that Christian is too “controlling” of her daughter and basically alleging domestic violence/that Ana has been brainwashed by CHristian and that she won’t let him near her until Ana is awake enough to request his presence.

        Christian IS Calliope’s father, and so he would presumably be able to be in the NICU with Calliope during the visitation hours. I would think that in Calliope’s fragile state, she would NOT be able to be placed in the room with Ana. (Which potentially puts Calliope at risk if she is in the NICU alone and The Conspiracy Head is able to get a nurse in there to remove her.)

        But if Carla bans Christian, his family AND the security team from the hospital, then ANYTHING goes. You would THINK that Carla would not do such a thing if she is “so worried” for Ana’s safety, but I don’t really trust Carla AT ALL at this point. I am hoping that Ray will realize that Christian is a FATHER, just like him, and will speak up for Christian and overrule Carla.

        BUT Ana could ALSO wake up someplace else entirely, depending on what Tara plans to do. (I mean, what if the Conspiracy Head kidnapped Ana from the hospital post-op while she was still unconscious by using fake hospital people since his tech guy could make identification that looked real.) Or if the Conspiracy head even kidnapped Ana enroute. I would think, though, that the COnspiracy Head would wait until AFTER Ana was in the hospital and had been stabilized before doing anything.

        I’m just wondering what the situation is going to be for Ana when she opens her eyes. And if SHE is in a fragile state and heavily medicated, then we won’t be able to get too many details, ESPECIALLY if Carla has ordered that Ana not be told anything until she is stable (absolutely worst-case scenario).

        If the above happened, Ana wouldn’t know where she was or why she was there OR where Calliope and Christian are. So we don’t know when and where the next chapter will open with.

        REALLY wanting it to be Monday now!!!!. — Just want to know SOMETHING about Ana and Calliope’s medical states. And obviously, the Conspiracy is all but on the scene and READY to take action at the first opening, which could surround the confusion in getting the family members to agree regarding proposed medical treatment. And Tara could even go a completely different route entirely, but her earlier comments seem to indicate that there will be SOME family drama surrounding the childbirth, and the last chapter certainly presents multiple indicators that drama is imminent!

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  44. When you re-read ADSOF, you really DO get an idea of where poor RAY is coming from. How would ANY father feel about a man lying on the witness stand, which is a FELONY, in order to take a money bribe to start his company. And this essentially DOES let a child molester go free. So Christian was willing to commit a CRIME, let a criminal get away with a SERIOUS offense, and leave them free to harm someone else, ALL for money.

    But based on what Christian did for Elena, ANYONE would be justified in thinking him a selfish monster, since his actions let Elena off AND screwed over Andrew in the process.

    What is sad is that Christian really was unable to understand the level of manipulation that Elena was capable of. He also didn’t understand then that Elena HAD abused him, oftentimes pushing him farther to HURT him purposefully, KNOWING that Christian would appear “weak” if he used his safe words. PLUS, Elena was Verbally Abusive to Christian regularly, telling him that he was worthless like his birth mother, as she did when speaking to him at Thanksgiving.

    So Christian was never a monster—he just was able to be manipulated into thinking he “deserved” and wanted what Elena did to him AND the way she put him down AND made him keep secrets, ALL as a ways of controlling him. Which she did very well. So she “justified” Christian’s actions by telling him that what they did was mutual, so she shouldn’t be “punished” or rendered homeless by her “attentions” to Christian. She made Christian feel SORRY for her, and she convinced him that the money was “payment” for her crimes.

    And Elena KNEW that Christian’s actions would cause the EXACT upset between Christian AND his family AND Anastasia, keeping Christian isolated, and making him angry at being seemingly cast off when he THOUGHT he was doing “the right thing” at the time. The psychological implications of everything are just WAY over anything Ray will have heard before. Christian NEEDS to take Ray to a session with Flynn (in fact, probably MORE than one) in order to help Ray understand what it took to get Christian free and back to his family.

    So Christian would need to speak FRANKLY and openly to Ray about his experiences with Elena, even though it is stuff that HE doesn’t want to talk about (and Ray wouldn’t really like to hear but for the need to understand where Christian is coming from). Christian should EXPLAIN his reasoning and WHY he knows it was NOW wrong, after Elena created the prostitution bar that abused women AND underaged girls (because you KNOW that Mia wouldn’t have been the ONLY one Elena manipulated). And get Flynn to help Ray understand about Christian’s past issues.

    And ANA specifically covered wtih Flynn about WHETHER OR NOT she had a POSITIVE relationship with Christian when she spoke with him after she found out Luke worked for Christian. And Flynn went through the abusive relationship checklist with Ana, and Christian has done NONE of those manipulative things with Ana. So it really may take a PROFESSIONAL to help Ray understand.

    So yeah, I get where Ray is coming from. Christian wants automatic acceptance, and he really needs to EARN Ray’s trust, given his past issues. And Flynn would be helpful with that.

    The PROBLEM now is whether or not Christian gets that chance to convince Ray OR if things become too badly DAMAGED by what has NOW happened to Ana. Ray AND Christian now have the chance to see the best or worst of one another’s characters based on how EACH handles this crisis with the other. ANA would WANT them to handle it TOGETHER as a FAMILY. But we are in troubled waters here, with Ana unconscious and unable to speak up. Scary.

    And have I said it before but IS IT MONDAY YETTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT????????

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    1. I agree with you Tori. I would call what Elena did to Christian “grooming” that’s what it’s called when a Pedophile takes a kid, grooms his or her mind to do what they want, and make them believe that what they are doing isn’t wrong, and all the other things they do to their young minds. in his case she made him also believe that he deserved all the punishments, because of what his bio-mother did, sometimes they develop what it’s called Stockholm Syndrome, like in this story when he used to call Elena because “she understood him”, it was hard for him to separate from Elena. (Thank you Google) Elena even made him sign, like she did in this story to Mia too a NDA, when by law a minor can’t sign any document without their parents presence IF they are allowed to do so (I’m not a lawyer). In my opinion, Christian should talk to Ray but not to Carla (she wouldn’t understand, she’s too bigoted), perhaps with Carrick or Flynn present, maybe Ana too. Some people don’t understand what Elena really did to Christian in the story, being abused as a baby, left with his mother’s decomposing body for four days, and then as an almost teenager, who is in that age were he’s not a man or a boy it’s really sad. It’s very hard to overcome such traumatic childhood.

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      1. THat is why I DEFINITELY think Flynn should be included when talking to Ray. He just needs to understand what it was like to walk a mile in Christian’s shoes. AND what all issues Christian had to deal with in actually working through the abuse. Because Christian didn’t actually FEEL abused until he realized what Elena had done to him. That was when he went through the body dysmorphia and couldn’t even touch Ana. She was patient and worked through everything with Christian, and Christian was really good about communicating and letting Ana know what he was dealing with rather than trying to keep it all to himself.

        And yes, minors CAN sign contracts. HOWEVER, prior to becoming of age, the minor can repudiate the contract if s/he wants to. That is why it is never a good idea to enter into a contract with a minor. To avoid those issues, car dealers and the like always have an adult sign for the minor so that SOMEONE is on the hook if the minor defaults.

        But Elena CLEARLY tried to make Christian think that his contract was “binding” in every sense of the word, as you saw at Thanksgiving in ADSOF. Since Elena had Christian to sign a contract, though, I would have thought that it would be impossible for her to try to claim that Christian supposedly raped her, as she said she would have done in ADSOF if Christian hadn’t agreed to her deal.

        But Elena is the scariest type of victim—after all, she was raped as a child and went through the WORST possible outcomes regarding her mother and sisters and what later happened to them. She WAS traumatized, but she did NOT get the help that she needed. So she BECAME as equally wicked AND predatory as her OWN abuser. So you SEE what can happen to a victim that does NOT get help, s/he can somehow see getting their “power” back by doing the same sick stuff to others. Elena got through her pain by taking it out on others and breaking them, as she attempted to do to Christian.

        So there is A LOT that Ray needs to understand about Christian to KNOW that Christian would never do to Ana what was done to him. IN FACT, that was a reason Christian STAYED in therapy because he wanted to make sure that he did NOT hurt Ana (you see that especially in ABSOF when Ana convinces Christian to ask Flynn WHY he does not want to make Ana his submissive). Christian will NOT become an abuser, but Ray needs to be able to have the conversation about all this to know that Ana is safe. After all, ELENA sought to isolate and control Christian, so Ray is right to fear that Christian MIGHT try the same, being that was all he knew. So he NEEDS to know that Christian feared the same thing so dealt with the issue in therapy AND by communicating openly with Ana about everything, even when it was so painful for him to do so.

        It is amazing to me that Tara seems to so accurately portray some of the thoughts and feelings that a victim in theses circumstances goes through. I represented children that came into the custody of the state for a decade, and it took me YEARS to process/understand (in a limited way) the psychology of what so many of them had gone through in childhood and WHY some of the most abused kids became abusers themselves.

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    1. I also wondered where Ethan was. In fact, I had considered him as a possible person to be behind the Conspiracy WAAAAAYYY back when after the Kate/Elliot break-up, since he would have a motive, albeit small, to go after both Grey brothers. But Kate’s description of Ethan never really being able to buckle down and going after every girl he saw (as the reason he couldn’t go Ivy with her and Ana) made him too unlikely a suspect for me.

      I figure that Kate’s family is there at the graduation, just in the background. After all, Ana wouldn’t be focused on looking for them at the graduation with everything else going on. Tara had also mentioned that he was abroad in Italy originally, and for all we know, he might still be in Europe.

      I would have figured that we would have heard from Kate’s individual family members, though, after both Kate AND the security for Kate would have been notified NOT to go to the graduation party due to the Conspiracy Head being there. So you would think that Kate’s family would have joined everyone else at the house.

      I guess we will find out once Ana’s situation gets stabilized (although that may not be for some time, depending on how soon she can get to the hospital).

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