Chapter 39


After maybe two hours of sleep, I’m awoken much too soon by the engines of the yacht roaring to life and tugging us further away from the coast. Christian has his arm draped over me while his fingers run gently through the ends of my hair, and when I slowly open my eyes and glance over at him, I see that he still has Calliope, finally sleeping soundly, laid over his chest.

“Good morning,” I whisper hoarsely.

“Mmm,” he hums back at me, easing himself over to kiss the top of my hair. “Good morning.”

“Happy Birthday.”

He sighs. “Last year on my birthday I woke up with my cock in your mouth.” He moves his hand softly over Calliope’s back and then looks forlornly over at me. “Isn’t having kids fun?”

I let out a very tired laugh. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s gotten into her these past couple days. I can go give her to Kate if you want. Or your mom.”

“Oh, no. After how long it took her to go to sleep? We’re never moving her again. I live here now.”

I laugh again and then carefully lift myself off the bed to kiss him without waking the baby. I mean for it to be a quick, chaste good morning kiss, but when I try to pull away from him he moves his hand up to the side of my face, tenderly cups my cheek, and holds me in place. I moan softly as his lips move tantalizingly with mine and while I lose myself in the feel of him and the sound of our constrained breathing, my hand automatically reaches down his body and grips onto his waiting erection. His entire body tenses so I quickly try to withdraw my hand, but when I do, he groans.

“Do you think we can put her back to bed without waking her?”

“I think we should definitely try…”

He gives me a lascivious grin and then places the palm of his hand over the back of Calliope’s head so that he can hold her firmly against his chest while he sits up. I stare at her with the same nervous concentration I imagine someone would feel while watching a bomb being defused, but Christian is able to ease himself out of the bed and gently lay our daughter inside her bassinette without disturbing her. He takes a few careful steps back towards the bed, facing her and watching her carefully, but the only movement she makes is the gentle rise and fall of her chest while she sleeps. Once he’s absolutely sure the transfer has been successful, he turns back to me and his eyes cloud over with the intensity of his desire.

“Open your legs,” he commands briskly. I comply immediately and then watch him hungrily as he climbs into the bed over the top of me. My fingers trace up the well defined lines of the muscles in his arms as he leans down to kiss me, but just as I feel the pressure of his weight pressing me into the mattress, there’s a loud knock on our bedroom door that wakes Calliope.

“Wakie, wakie, birthday boy,” Elliot’s high, teasing tone comes through the door. “Mommy made you breakfast, schnookums.”

Christian props himself up on his elbows over me, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath as though he’s looking deep inside himself for patience he simply can’t summon over Calliope’s angry cries. “I’m going to kill him,” he says at last. “We’re in international waters, there isn’t anyone around us for hundreds of miles. I think I’m actually going to kill him.”

I giggle and push against his chest to roll him off of me. “Don’t. He’s the only one who can get the baby to stop crying.”


Thankfully, it doesn’t take much to calm my very sleepy baby down. She fusses a little as I carry her out to the dining room where the rest of the family is waiting, but once I’ve settled down next to Christian and given her the bottle the staff have warmed for breakfast, it takes only minutes for her to fall back asleep.

“Chocolate chip pancakes,” Grace says proudly, setting a giant, overfilled platter in the middle of the table. “Happy birthday, Christian.”

“Thanks, Mom,” he replies, and I find myself glancing worriedly over at her as she begins to serve him, wondering if she’s picked up on the bitterness in his tone. I don’t think she does though, because when she moves on to fill Mia’s plate, she’s beaming. She has her entire family around one table, healthy, happy, and enjoying each other’s company. I doubt there’s anything that could get to her right now. Not even me groggily swaying back and forth through the morning conversation, or Christian’s obvious yawns over his pancakes.

Once we begin eating, everyone seated around the table begins passing several different expensive gifts, and a few silly ones from Kate and Mia, to Christian before the discussion turns to our plans for the day. I expect Elliot to dismiss anything that doesn’t involve 250 horsepower jettisoning him through the choppy ocean water, but when Kate looks over at Christian and I practically falling asleep in our breakfast, she suggests we all hang around the yacht, relax, and spend some time with the whole family, and he doesn’t put up an argument.

“What are you sick or something?” Mia asks, raising an eyebrow at him.

“No, just sore. Christian bought those new machines and they’re fucking heavy.” He rolls out both of his shoulders to stretch his sore muscles and Christian smirks at him.

“You need to start lifting heavier, Elliot. You’re getting soft.”

“Shut up, Christian. I don’t need your advice, thank you very much. Shouldn’t you be out working on your dad bod or something?”

“You seem to be doing a good enough job on that for the both of us.”

Elliot narrows his eyes. “I’ll fight you.”

“That’s okay,” Christian shrugs. “I bench more than you.”

“Psht, doubt it.”

“I’m just saying… you should have maybe taken advantage of having Gia around when you did. That girl knew her way around a gym. Why don’t you call her up and see if she’ll train with you?”

“Because I don’t want to, Christian,” Elliot snaps, emphasizing Christian’s name as he glances sideways at Kate. “That relationship is exactly where it should be. In the past.”

“So you haven’t heard from her?” Christian asks.


“Not even an angry post break up text or a late night booty call?”

“No, Christian, I haven’t heard from her since she moved out of my house and I haven’t wanted to. We’re done, she’s out of my life. Drop it.”

“Hmm…” He frowns as he reaches for his glass of water, and as Elliot unsuccessfully tries to change the subject from across the table, I reach down and grip the free hand he rests absentmindedly on my knee.

“Everything okay?”


“Then why the sudden interest in Gia?” The table falls silent and, as everyone turns to look at Christian and I, Elliot drops his silverware out of frustration and it clangs loudly against his plate.

“For the love of god, can we please stop talking about her?”

“No,” Christian says. “I’m afraid we can’t.”

“Christian?” Carrick checks, and with a deep breath, Christian pulls his hand away from mine and rests them flat over the table.

“Taylor can’t find her,” he says at last. “She was at Ana’s baby shower when we announced Calliope’s name, and because she had her own security, who attended Taylor’s meeting the day that Ana was kidnapped, she knew Ana would be alone. She went on family vacations with us, she was at family dinners, she and I were alone in a gym together on several occassions… She’s one of Taylor’s prime suspects for the inside leak but, to the day she moved out of your house, we can’t find anything on her. She hasn’t purchased any property or applied for a mortgage or lease, the tabs on the license plates of her car are expired, and her insurance wasn’t renewed. We tried tracing the number we had to find her, but her phone has been turned off and none of her bank cards have been used since April. She’s just… gone.”

“Gone?” Elliot repeats. “She can’t be gone, where would she go?”

I get a sickening feeling deep in my stomach when I turn and look at Christian, only to see him raise his eyebrows at Elliot in a way that suggests the answer to his question should be obvious. And it is obvious. Elena said there were more we didn’t know about, but if we didn’t know them, they wouldn’t be targets. Just like Hyun. Just like Leila.

“You said there were dings in the walls when she moved out…” I say, turning to look at Elliot. “What if that wasn’t from furniture? What if there was a struggle?”

His eyes dart back and forth as he considers this and the color slowly drains from his face, but he quickly composes himself and shakes his head. “No, she texted me after she was out, she left a note at work saying she was quitting…”

“Handwritten or typed?” Christian asks.

Elliot takes a breath and then mashes his lips together, refusing to answer as he looks down at the half eaten pancakes in front of him, and Christian nods.

“I’m going to need the security footage of your building from that day. We need to see who left that letter.”

He nods, looking almost sick, but as he picks up his own drink, Mia coughs uncomfortably from the other end of the table.

“Ummm, Christian….?”

“Yeah, Meems?”

“I um… I think that…”

Her words cut off when an unexpected thumping sound echos around the room so loudly it makes everyone jump and both Kate and I scream in surprise. We turn to the source of the sound, my adrenaline spiking and rushing through my blood, but realize it was just a bird flying into the window. As I place my hand over my racing heart though, Calliope starts to cry again.

“Oh, Calli-lily,” I say, rocking her gently in my arms as she screams her displeasure at being woken for a second time this morning through the startled silence still hovering over the table. “Shhh, it’s okay. Ugh, she’s so tired.”

“We’re supposed to feel bad about her not getting enough sleep?” Christian says through another great yawn, but as I reach of over and gently push him, he slowly gets out of his seat and nods to the archway behind him. “Why don’t we take her back to bed? She’ll sleep better separated from the noise of everyone enjoying Mom’s delicious breakfast, and you and I can try to get another hour or so of rest before we start our day.”

“Okay,” I agree. Christian helps me out of my chair and I quickly cross the table to give Grace a hug. “Thank you for breakfast, it was delicious.”

“You’re welcome. Enjoy your nap.”

“I will. Believe me, I will.”

She smiles as I walk around the table, pausing to lean down and kiss my father on the cheek, but before Christian reaches out for me, he stops and rests his hand on Mia’s shoulder.

“We’ll talk later, okay?” She gives him a tight smile and nods, then Christian places his hand on my lower back and leads me out of the dining room towards the stairs.


Once we get Calliope down for the third time this morning, Christian cuddles up next to me in bed and begins to kiss me softly up and down the curve of my neck, but while I’m sure the heavy petting is meant to lead to sex, we both fall asleep before either one of us can even remove any clothes. It’s nice though. The hour long nap in Christian’s arms provides us with just enough energy to enjoy the rest of the afternoon with our family, and Calliope isn’t disturbed again until she wakes on her own, ready for another bottle.

After moving back out to the main living space to rejoin the others, we sit on a pair of lounge chairs out on the deck under a huge white umbrella while Kate, Mia, and Elliot splash around in the pool, our father’s take to fishing again, and Grace curls up on the couch beside us with a romance novel. Christian is in heaven having uninterrupted time to play with our daughter, and while I laugh along with the two of them, I can’t help but refocus my attention once again on Kate and Elliot and how they’re behaving towards one another.  I notice that Kate has masterfully covered the scar in her skin with a black one piece swimsuit that’s cut low enough in the front to not make any one question her sudden inclination towards modesty. Elliot seems plenty enough distracted by the cleavage she’s showing and as I catch him not so subtly staring at her for the tenth time this afternoon, Christian nudges me with his elbow and nods towards them.

“If they have sex on my birthday and I don’t, I’m going to be fucking pissed.”

“They’re not going to have sex,” I tell him. “They’re not even together.”

“Mhmm,” he hums disbelievingly, and as I roll my eyes and turn back to look at the pool, I watch Elliot chase Mia out of the water onto the smooth, teak deck.

“Just give in, Mia,” he threatens her. “You’re going underwater and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“I don’t think so. Not by you!” They run two laps around the pool, Mia just managing to avoid the very tips of his fingers as he reaches for her, and then she sprints to the waist high rail that surrounds the third story deck and climbs on top of it.

“Amelia!” Grace shrieks in terror, but Mia just looks back at us with a wicked grin and launches herself off the rail, somersaulting down until we all hear the loud splash in the ocean below. Christian passes Calliope to me and immediately bolts out of his seat, hurrying to the rail where Elliot is already standing in shock, but after an agonizing few seconds of panic, relief colors both of their faces when the sounds of Mia’s laughter echo up to us from the water.

“Mia, are you crazy?” Elliot shouts down at her.

“Awh, come on. Don’t be a baby, Elliot. Jump!”

“You have no idea what’s down there!” Christian argues.

“Yes I do! Ocean! Come on, Christian! YOLO!” Mia begins making chicken sounds up at her brothers, but as they both glance at one another, silently questioning what they should do, Kate shimmies in between them.

“Excuse me, gentleman,” she says, and just like Mia, she climbs onto the railing, springs high into the air, and tumbles over the side of the yacht in a graceful dive that creates a splash so subtle, I can’t hear her hit the water from where I’m sitting. Thankfully, Elliot smiles, which I take as a sign that she’s made it over alright, and climbs on the railing to cannonball after her.

“Oh good lord,” Grace says, cringing away from her children and shaking her head. I should have followed her lead because while Grace picks up her book again, Mia and Elliot both call out for Christian, and like the fool he is, he too climbs up on the rail.

“Christian!” I scream, but it’s too late. Like Kate, he leaps off the side with the grace of a professional high diver and plummets into the ocean below. I turn panicked eyes on Grace, who automatically reaches out and gestures for me to pass her the baby, and then rush to the rail. He’s just emerging from the white cloud of bubbles in the water below as I lean over the side of the yacht.

“Are you crazy?” I yell at him as he quickly turns his head away from the wave of water Elliot throws at him with his arm. “You’re a father now!”

“It’s not as high as it looks,” he calls back to me. “And it’s fun. Come on, baby.”

I cross my arms and shake my head at him. “You’re insane.”

“Ana! Ana!” Mia begins to chant, but when I cock my head to the side and give both of them a look which makes it clear that climbing over this railing is simply not going to happen for me, Christian nods to the end of the boat and reaches through the water to begin pulling himself towards it.

“Come to the bottom deck, we’ll pull the jet skis out.” Immediately Mia, Kate, and I turn to look at Elliot. His shoulders rise from the water and he lets out a heavy breath.

“I mean… if we have to.

Laughter sounds over the water as Kate splashes water into his face and begins swimming after Christian, while I turn back to Grace. “Are you okay? I don’t have to go if you’ve had enough baby time this weekend.”

“If you try to take this baby from me, I will scream.” Her face is hard and serious as she says the words, but as I gape back at her, she smiles and lets out a soft breathy laugh. “Go, Anastasia! Have fun with the man you love. Calliope and I will be just fine.”

“Alright,” I agree, although hesitantly as I really could just stay here the rest of the afternoon losing myself in the feel of her in my arms and her perfect angelic face. Especially since Christian has been hogging her all day, and it already feels as though I’ve barely been able to hold her. “Just call if you need us to come back.”

“I will,” she promises.

“Have fun, kiddo!” my dad calls over his shoulder from the port side of the deck. “Just stay on the other side or you’ll scare all the fish away.”

I laugh. “Yes, daddy.”

After kissing Grace quickly on the cheek and thanking her for sitting with Calliope, I rush to the bedroom and change into a swimsuit. It’s a little revealing for how comfortable I’m feeling with my body right now, so I slip a loose, open knit tunic over my head to try and cover up a little before darting down the steps to the bottom deck, where I find the others jumping and diving off the much more sturdy railing into the cool, deep blue water below. I shiver slightly as my bare feet touch the wet wood on the sun drenched deck and then watch as Christian tucks his body from on top of the steel rail and then pushes back, stretching towards the water in a much too easy looking back flip.

“Show off,” Kate says, but she too climbs on the rail, takes a deep breath and then leaps into the air, folding her body in a perfect pike before she falls backwards into an arrow straight dive.

“You two could give a guy a complex,” Elliot says.

“Sucks to suck,” Christian laughs from somewhere in the water.

“Oh, yeah?” Elliot looks over at Mia and they exchange an evil grin with one another before backing up several paces and leaping over the railing together. The resulting splash is so big, I can see it over the solid rail, from the back of the deck and, judging by Kate’s scream, it completely covers both her and Christian. There’s a series of smaller splashing sounds in the water, until I see Christian swim up to the boat launch off the back of the yacht and pull himself out of the waves. His hand reaches up to wipe the excess water off his face and, though he’s already smiling broadly, his face brightens even further when he sees me standing there.

“I thought we were jet skiing?” I ask, my voice accusatory.

“We will. But the water is great. You should swim with us for a while.”

I shake my head and pout my lips. “It’s cold.”

“Not really.” He reaches out for my hand as though he’s going to tug me towards the water and I immediately flinch away.


“Don’t?” he repeats, and then he smiles again for half a second before shaking his head with dismay and taking a step back. “Well, if you don’t want to get wet…”

“I do not,” I affirm. He nods and moves to turn away from me, but, so fast I hardly even have time to react, he turns back, leans down to grab me tightly behind the legs and throws me over his shoulder.

“Christian!” I scream in protest, but he doesn’t stop. He moves quickly to the boat launch and, ignoring my screams and the furious way I move my arms and legs to escape from him, he dumps me overboard. My lungs seem to almost seize as the icy water permeates every pore of my body and when I break through the surface again, gasping for air and see him smiling at me, I shake my head and narrow my eyes.

“You are so fucking dead,” I threaten him. He laughs and dives back into the water right beside me, and I wait for him to re-emerge before I immediately place both of my hands on top of his head and force him under again. He captures one of my legs underwater to pull me down with him and as we both come back up for air, I’m lost to a fit of giggles as we splash one another. He generates far more water than I do however, as his arms really are much thicker than mine, so I quickly swim backwards and use my feet to churn up as much as I can to push back at him. Unfortunately it’s not a very well thought out plan because I’ve only just got him with one really good splash when his hand wraps around my ankle and I find myself being dragged back towards him until he wraps my legs around his waist, pulls me flush against him, and kisses me hard on the mouth.

“I love you,” he tells me.

“I love you too,” I reply. “Even though I think you’re kind of a butthead right now and you taste like salt.”

He laughs and dumps me backwards into the water again.


We spend the rest of the afternoon swimming around the yacht and then finally cruising through the water on the jet skis. It’s a much less… erotic activity than it was last year when he had the silver balls inside of me, but it’s nice being able to wrap myself around him while the cool sea spray sprinkles over our legs and the hot June sun shines on us from above. There’s even a brief period where he turns control over to me, although it’s very brief because I manage to dump us both in the water while trying to jump through Elliot’s wake. Still, by the time we pull back into the yacht and head up to the main deck where dinner is being served, my face hurts from smiling so much throughout the day and I feel more relaxed than I have in weeks. I was right, we needed this weekend. And from the way Christian looks, happy, and actually as young as he truly is, he needed it too.

“I take it you didn’t catch anything today…” Elliot says, taunting his father slightly as we sit down at the table to a plate of chicken.

“Yeah, a bunch of rowdy kids came tearing through the water on a bunch of jet skis,” Carrick says, narrowing his eyes at him. “Funny how we didn’t catch anything.”

“The nerve of some people,” Elliot smiles back. Carrick laughs and reaches over to clap him on the shoulder just as Grace passes me a bowl of salad.

“So, Ana, I’ve been meaning to ask if you’ve found a venue for the wedding yet? I called the archbishop at St. Andrews and they’ve had a cancellation at the end of July. Infidelity, terrible… but wonderful for you and Christian.”

“Actually, Christian and I were also hoping to talk to you about that this weekend. I think we’ve decided that instead of the big, white wedding, we’d rather have a small ceremony at your house, if that’s okay?”

“Really?” Her face lights up. “Oh, absolutely! We could use the boat house for your bridal suite and make a carpet of rose petals down to the water for your aisle. I know exactly where we’ll have the ceremony. Oh! And on the west lawn we can set up a tent for your reception with a dance floor and flowers and lights. We’ll have the perfect view of the sun setting over the lake. It’ll be absolutely beautiful!”

“Thanks, Mom,” Christian interrupts. “But I actually don’t think that’ll be necessary.”

“What?” I ask, turning a very confused look on him.

“Andrea found an opening at Thornewood. It’s a castle over in Lakewood and it’s really quite stunning. Very opulent and luxurious, the pictures will be phenomenal. We can get married out in the gardens, there’s a grand ballroom for the reception, and they can accommodate up to 250 guests, which means we only need to eliminate a hundred names from our original list.”

“You mean… your original list,” I counter. “I thought we agreed we wanted a small ceremony with just close friends and family?”

“Because we were having to compromise… This place will do anything and everything you want. However you want it.”

“But… I-I…”

He grips my hand reassuringly. “You’re going to love it, Anastasia. I promise. Our wedding is going to be beautiful, exactly the way you always dreamed. And I’ve made sure Andrea will have the capacity to help you with whatever you need so we can get this done without overwhelming you.”

“Wait, so you’ve already booked it?”

He nods. “I put the deposit down yesterday.”

“Christian…” I take a deep breath to quell my rising frustration and slowly count to ten. As I do, images of the wedding he describes flashes through my mind. Me in an extravagant white gown, walking down the aisle to the slow melody of soft music floating around me and through a crowd of faceless people to the place where Christian is waiting for me under a stunning canopy of white wisteria. I can picture him taking me into his arms in the middle of an empty dancefloor, beaming at me as he twirls me around through the group of onlookers and camera flashes. I can envision our toast and cutting an enormous wedding cake, which we feed each other graciously instead of smashing into the other’s faces. It’s a beautiful dream, one I think any girl would want, but it just doesn’t feel like us.

Will I be happy with a wedding that feels as though it was meant for someone else? Ten years from now, when I look at the undoubtedly beautiful pictures of what should be the happiest day of my life, will I feel any regret that I didn’t stand up for what I really wanted? I don’t know. But it’s not often Christian isn’t willing to give me exactly what I want, and since this is the second time he’s insisted on a lavish ceremony, it must be important to him. Perhaps there’s a reason that he’s not telling me. Some deep rooted insecurity that seems to come out anytime the concept of forever between him and I comes up. Looking at him now, and the uncertainty behind his eyes, I wonder if that’s exactly it. When I brought up Astor’s inclusion on the guest list, he’d argued that he’d wanted to make a statement that I was his and he was mine. Perhaps that wasn’t entirely truthful. Perhaps he wants that statement for himself and the grand wedding fulfils that need for him. Looking at him now, and the careful uncertainty reflected in his eyes, I actually think that may be the exact reason.

I take a breath and nod. “Okay. If you love it, then I’m sure I will too. I can’t wait to see it.”

He smiles at me and then lifts my fingers to his lips. “Me either.”


After dinner, we move back into the sitting room where we’d played games the night before, and while we spend most of the night talking as a family and taking turns with a very silly Calliope sprawled out on her favorite blanket in the middle of the floor, eventually her playful mood subsides and as Grace takes her back into her arms, a heavy silence falls over the room. We all seem to glance at one another, unsure of what to do, and when Elliot begins looking for the remote to turn on the satellite TV so he can get an update on the Mariners, Grace lets out a low cough to clear her throat.

“So…” she says coyly. “I brought Mia’s cello and Elliot’s old guitar. It’s been so long since I’ve heard the three of you play together, I thought tonight you’d give us all a little treat.” Her eyes move over to the piano Christian had put in the corner of the sitting room last summer. Christian and Elliot make eye contact, silently asking one another if they’re up to it, but Mia scoffs and shakes her head.

“I don’t want to play with Elliot.”

“Why not?” Elliot asks, clearly offended.

“Because you never practice,” she says. “And I don’t really feel like playing an exciting medley of Row Row Row Your Boat and Mary Had a Little Lamb for our family right now.”

“I know much more than that.” He rolls his eyes as he gets off the couch and disappears through the archway that leads to main cabins, and when he returns there is an acoustic guitar slung over his shoulder that he tunes as he walks. Christian once again lifts our conjoined hands to place a gentle kiss against the tips of my fingers and then peels himself off the couch to take his place at the piano bench. I watch them say something quietly to one another, and once Christian nods, Mia folds her arms across her chest in defiance and we all settle back as the first high note from the piano sounds around us.

I can vaguely recognize the melody of what they’re playing, but without the tell-tale 80s synths and beat from the drums, I can’t place the song until Elliot looks up at Kate and begins to sing lyrics I recognize.

I’ve been waiting, for a girl like you, to come into my life. I’ve been waiting, for a girl like you, a love that will survive. I’ve been waiting, for someone new, to make me feel alive. Yeah, waiting, for a girl like you, to come into my life.”

Grace begins swaying next to me and my dad keeps the beat with his foot and his thumb drumming against his leg, but Elliot doesn’t shift his focus away from Kate. Their eyes stay locked on one another as Elliot very purposefully sings each and every lyric directly towards her, and when the final notes of the music he and Christian play slowly fades away and we all break into applause, still, his eyes never leave hers.

“What are the rules about Foreigner in this house?” Carrick asks pointedly.

“That they’re the greatest foreign invasion since the Beatles?” Mia replies with a laugh, but when Carrick turns to glare at her, Elliot slams his hand down over the strings of his guitar and he and Christian pick up the beginning riffs of Working Man by RUSH. Over the next hour, they take requests for songs and I’m impressed by Christian’s ability to generally get through anything we throw at them. Eventually though, after dozens of old country songs my father asks to hear and entirely too much old ‘70s rock that only the Grey children know, Kate and Mia begin to get restless.

“Can we play something from this century, please?” Mia begs.

“Britney Spears literally came out with an album like three months ago,” Kate interjects. “What are you even doing with your lives?”

“No, no, no,” Grace interrupts. “Something from Adele. Oh, I just love her new album.”

“Ugh, Adele is so boring,” Mia complains. “We need something fun that we can get up and dance to. Like Kesha, or that new Rihanna song. What is it, S&M?”

“It does feature Britney Spears,” Kate says, but Christian shakes his head.

“I’m not playing that song.”

“Yes, thank you,” I say dryly. “What about Bruno Mars? I sing Just The Way You Are to Calliope before bed every night. She loves it.”

“Uh, Dr. Dre or nothing,” Elliot says, and while that starts a whole new argument over rap vs. pop between him and his sister, Christian puts a stop to it with the simple press of his fingers against the piano keys and few soft sung lyrics.

I wanna be a billionaire so fucking bad… by all of the things I never had.” The room erupts into laughter, but the pause is short lived before Elliot joins in on the guitar. “I wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine, smiling next to Oprah and the Queen. Oh everytime I close my eyes, I see my name in shining lights. Yeah. A different city every night oh I, I swear, the world better prepare, for I’m a billionaire.

I squeal as Elliot takes over the rap part of the song and Kate pulls me off to dance with her. We all laugh at the ridiculousness and irony of the song not only being played on a multimillion dollar yacht, but that Christian Grey himself continues to sing the chorus. Even Carrick buries his hand to hide his laughter as he shakes his head, and Grace makes a face at Calliope, who seems to be entranced by the people dancing all around her. Kate practically falls over when the song ends as she dissolves into a fit of giggles, and while I grip tightly onto her, gripping my side, which is a little sore from laughing so hard, Elliot places his guitar back in his case and turns to Christian.

“You know, that song makes me realize how much you’re slacking there, Christian. What have you even done for Katrina victims?”

He laughs. “Very little.”


“You’re right. How dare I be seventeen.” He rolls his eyes, but Elliot just smiles.

“How dare you indeed.”

Christian reaches up and softly punches Elliot in the arm, which makes him laugh and hold out his hand to help Christian off the piano bench. It’s late now, so my father gets up to excuse himself for the night, which Grace and Carrick also take advantage of, and while they say goodnight to each of us, Elliot finally finds the remote and flips the TV to ESPN. Kate curls up on the couch next to him and Mia reaches for a magazine she brought along, but Christian makes eye contact with me and very subtly nods towards the archway that leads to our bedroom. I bite my lip.

“Uh… Kate?”

“Yes, m’dear?” she replies, not looking away from the TV.

“How would you feel about watching Calliope for awhile? Just until you go to bed…”

“But for at least an hour,” Christian interjects, and as he looks at her very purposefully, a knowing smile stretches across her lips.

“Yeah, I can do that,” she says. “Happy Birthday, Christian.”

“Thank you,” he replies, his voice almost curt as he immediately reaches down for my hand and tugs me out of the room and through the archway that places us at the bottom of the stairs which lead up to our bedroom.

The moment we’re no longer in sight of Kate, Mia, and Elliot, his lips are pressed firmly into mine. I briefly feel the wall at the bottom of the stairs at my back as Christian envelops me with his body, his desirous moans punctuating the hungry sounds of our kiss while his hands greedily explore my body, until, eventually, he lifts me into his arms, wraps my legs around his waist, and carries me the rest of the way to our bed without ever pulling his lips away from mine.

The long stream of moonlight shining in through the picturesque windows of our master suite allows me to see his face in the otherwise dark room. The sound of the yacht cutting through the ocean waves echos through silence around us while his fingers pull the crochet dress over my skin. I let out a eager moan as his lips begin to leave a trail of soft kisses over every inch of skin he reveals until he finally discards the meager material on the floor next to the bed and cups the sides over each of my breasts over my bikini top, pushing them together so he can bury his face in my cleavage.

“Christian,” I breathe longingly. His tongue traces the inside swell of my breast before he looks up at me, lustful fire glinting brightly in his dark eyes.

“Soon, baby. Soon.” His mouth moves over my nipple and he flicks it gently with his tongue before enveloping the hardening bud in his mouth and moving his lips soft enough that he’s not really sucking, but I can feel the tantalizing heat combined with his saliva in each and every movement. With a wanton moan I push back into the pillow and arch my breasts higher off the bed, into his mouth, and he groans a deep, needy sound as he clutches my now wet nipple tightly between his thumb and finger and moves to my other breast. I writhe beneath him, reduced to only a vessel full of want and need, until I’m eventually able to reach between our bodies, down his swim trunks, and grip his erection firmly in my hand. He lets out an audible gasp that fuels every one of my reward centers and encourages me on.

When his mouth moves away from my nipple, I gently push him away, rolling him onto his back on the bed next to me, and then climb over the top of him. My fingers hook beneath the band of his swim trunks and the moment I free his erection, before I’ve even pushed his shorts all the way down his legs, I take his cock in my mouth and suck hungrily.

“Oh, jesus, Ana,” he groans. I hum as I once again feel my own sense of pleasure in what I’m doing to him, and then wrap my fingers around the base of his cock, working my hand in opposition to my mouth and keeping my lips tight around him as I bob up and down. The tempo of his breathing increases with my pace, and soon I feel his hands on my ass, kneading me and using his thumbs to stretch my lower lips beneath my bikini bottom, until he unravels the ties keeping my swimsuit in place and pulls against my leg so that I move over his face, straddling him.

His erection is deep in my throat when I first feel his tongue against my clitoris, and my resulting moan around his cock makes his body shiver. I push down again, taking him as deeply in my mouth as I can and hoping the tightness of my throat makes up for the times I release my lips to gasp in pleasure over the feel of his mouth moving over me. Several times, he simply kisses me. A sweet, soft peck against my most sensitive erogenous zone that feels loving and romantic and pushes me far too close to the edge, far too quickly. My legs begin to tremble, my irregular breathing makes it difficult for me to maintain the rhythm I’ve set with my mouth, and my insides clench. He lets out a breathy laugh and I can feel him smiling against me as he moves his whole face over me, invigorating me all at once.

“Baby,” he says. “Already?”

“Mmm… you’re too good.”

“Good. Come for me. I want you soaking when I start making love to you.”

I feel a rush of cool air from his lips as he blows against me, and then the heat of his tongue. He begins to suck my clitoris, rolling it gently between his lips before he laps at me again, and the combination of sensations quickly overwhelms me until I fall apart in his capable hands. My whole body shakes as I pant over his still hard and waiting erection, feeling the waves of pleasure roll over me again and again, like high tide claiming more and more of the dry sand on a beach. The entire world melts away for a long moment that seems to go on and on, prolonged by the incessant work of his tongue swirling around my clitoris, until finally, the tide begins to receded and I’m once again in control of my body.

I kiss the tip of his erection and begin to suck again, but he quickly moves me off of him and tosses me carelessly back onto the bed. His hands grip the inside of my knees and pry them apart, as wide as the will go, and as he glances down at me, his face melts with desire.

“Stay just like this,” he commands me. “I want you open and waiting for me.”

“Where are you going?”

“I need a condom. You’re not on birth control yet.”


He climbs off the bed and moves to his still packed bag, which is resting on a chair pushed against the wall. From the small front pocket, he removes a ribbon of blue foil packets, tears one away, and, as he moves back to me, he rips open the foil with his teeth. My hips squirm with uncomfortable impatience, but I watch him with near awe as he rolls the latex ring over his erection.

“Are you ready?” he asks, his voice husky with his desire.

I can’t answer. Instead, I reach up and grip the roots of his hair, a little too firmly, with my fingertips and pull him down on top of me, claiming his mouth as I bask in the heat of his skin pressed against mine. While we kiss, his hips move absentmindedly so that the tip of his erection brushes against me, making me whimper until I capture his bottom lip between my teeth and tug gently.

He reaches down and begins purposefully moving his cock up and down through my lips, lubricating himself with my arousal, and when he speaks again, his voice is dripping with lust.

“Tell me what you want, Anastasia.”

“Christian, please…” The words come out in a breath and my head tilts backwards as I allow myself to be overcome with the anticipation, but his fingers wrap around my jaw and pull my face back down so that I have to look into his eyes.

“Tell me what you want, baby.”

I swallow. “You. I want you, Christian. All of you.”

“I love you,” he whispers, and then he plunges inside of me. My insides clench around him as he sinks fully into me and when my breath hisses through my teeth in an uncontrollable show of my pleasure, he lets out a long, satisfied groan.

“Fuck,” he whispers. “God, I’ve missed this. You feel so fucking incredible, Anastasia.”

“Take me, Christian. Lose yourself in me.”

He shakes his head. “Not yet. I just want to feel you.” I let out a disappointed sound and grind against him, desperately seeking friction, but his hand presses down on my hip and holds me in place. “Wait, baby,” he tells me, looking deeply into my eyes. “Just be here with me for a minute.”

Our eyes stay locked on one another for a long moment, while he’s still fully buried inside of me, until he eventually leans down and presses his lips into mine. Our tongues tangle together, our lips move in perfect synchronization, and as the ferocity of our kiss increases, so does his rhythm inside of me. He starts slow, controlled, and each tantalizing stroke of him moving in and out of me is complete and utter ecstasy. I feel my leg hitch up over his arm through the haze of pleasure taking over my mind, and the new position allows him deeper access. He moves against me in exactly the right place, in exactly the right way with each stroke in and out, over and over again. My fingers twist in his hair as I hold him in this deep and meaningful kiss that is the only thing more potent to me right now than the feel of his hands running over my body. Exploring me. Reclaiming me. Holding me tight, and refusing to let go.

He doesn’t whisper dirty words into my ear or throw me around and slap me hard on the ass. There isn’t the desperate barbarity I expected after six long weeks of drought. The hunger is there, but it’s different. It’s not about the pleasure or the release, it’s about the intimacy and the connection between us, and in this moment and it’s so much better than what I expected. Deeper and more meaningful. It’s the essence of him and of me, and after the absence of physical intimacy between us, it feels as though he’s recommitting himself to me. Each and every movement of him inside of me, of his lips touching my skin, or even his gaze as he stares down at me with complete love adoration feels powerful and momentous, and it sends a wave of overwhelming emotion over me.

Maybe it’s still my hormones trying to negotiate themselves, but I feel tears well in my eyes.

“Ana?” he checks when I reach up to brush the moisture from my lashes. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I love you so much, Christian.”

“And I love you. More than anything else in this entire world.” He kisses me again and pushes farther into me, holding himself there for a beat before pulling back and thrusting again. I pull him as tightly against me as I can and try to pour as much of the love as I’m feeling into him as our mouths move together in time with his thrusts. Soon, the heated passion between us morphs into the promising first hint of my approaching orgasm, and as I wrap my legs around him, I pull away just enough so that I can speak.

“Don’t stop. I’m going come.”

“I’m almost there too,” he replies. “Wait for me. Come with me.”

My teeth sink into my bottom lip as his pace increases and drives me closer to the edge. There’s a growing tightness in his lips against mine as he’s pulled closer and closer to his own release, and just before he explodes, his hand moves hard and fast down to the bed next to my head, his fingers grip tightly to the sheets, and his body trembles once more.

“Almost. There,” he pants with each thrust. “Are you there, baby?”

“Yes,” I moan.

“Then come for me. Let me feel you, Ana. Come for me, baby.”

My body reacts to his words as though his command holds physical power over me, and once again, I feel as though my body is being split apart by an orgasm so intense it blurs my vision and radiates all the way from the tips of my fingers down to my toes. I scream in pleasure as I’m ravaged again and again by the force of the pleasure coursing through me, and soon, I hear him cry out my name as he tumbles into the dark pool of reverential hedonism alongside me. I could stay, lost in this moment with him forever, but eventually it comes to an end, and I’m dragged back to earth admist the sounds of our unified heavy breathing. Once clarity comes back, and the final pulse of my orgams dies away, he reaches up to cup the side of my face and stares deeply into my eyes.

“Sometimes, I love you doesn’t feel like enough. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to really express the way I truly feel about you, Anastasia.”

“You just did,” I tell him, and as a smile plays at the corner of his mouth, he slowly leans down and kisses me once more.

Next Chapter

61 thoughts on “Chapter 39

    1. EXACTLY. I think Christian needs to extend his search to the girls that worked in Elena’s club. After all, Christian made a POINT to offer aid to ALL of them in order to give them better futures. And although many of them WERE exploited, some were probably loyal to Elena.

      The club is the key—either in the client list or the employees OR BOTH. It was Elena’s base of power. AND her means of potentially blackmailing others.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Bwahaha Grace is soooo old. Wanting her three children to play instruments like a proud mama to a school recital. I really found that funny. But why is it that Mia can’t seem to finish saying what she has to say? The whole family being together was really needed and it was really fun to read. Are they ever going to find out about Kate?

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    1. Yeah, that is actually my number one WORRY from this chapter—Mia seems to be feeling actual GUILT over not coming to Christian sooner about SOMETHING. Mia wants to remain quiet as she is seemingly implicated, but she seems aware that her information is IMPORTANT.

      This could imply any number of things (oh you sly brilliant authoress, Tara!) for us to theorize about. Mia could be AWARE that someone from Elena’s club has been following her. OR she could realize that some of ELENA’S CLIENTS still seemingly work for Christian.

      And since it NOW seems obvious that GIA was placed in Elliot’s way by the Conspiracy ON PURPOSE, then someone could have ALSO been placed in MIA’s way as well. And Mia could have only NOW become aware of the danger that this presents.

      For all we know, MAYBE SOME of the former GIRLS employed by the club have remained in CONTACT with Mia. Which she would keep SECRET, due to what they used to do AND who they worked for.

      But ANY way you look at it, Mia has been in contact with the wrong people (most likely). AFTER ALL, Mr. Conspiracy Head would KNOW that Mia WOULD BE AWARE OF ELENA’S CLIENT LIST. That knowledge HAS to include multiple people, INCLUDING GEH employees, that would have every reason to be forced to work for Mr. Conspiracy Head. AND Mr. Conspiracy Head would want to make sure that Mia had NOT given up those NAMES.

      So that also implies possible BLACKMAIL of Mia to keep her silent. She became pale at Ray’s barbeque for some reason. She FEARED for someone. And if not herself, then for someone ELSE.

      So something MORE has been going on in Mia’s life. She is taking extra risks right now, and I think she has been trying to work through everything. She may have gotten involved in MORE than she can handle. OR she is just NOT figuring out that she SHOULD have come forward with her information MUCH sooner, particularly after Gia’s fate seems to be made known.

      Mia is DEFINITELY the key here. And she is likely only to talk to Christian, not his security people. At least, at this point. And it would be BETTER for her to come forward NOW before Taylor finds something that compromised her further!

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  2. If this chapter is any indication, Mia would turn out to be the biggest culprit of this story
    She isn’t a five yr old child unaware of what has happened around her

    And if she now opens her mouth and tells her side of story, I would be seriously displeased coz she had potentially put even calliope in trouble on a number of occasions

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AMEN. I think Mia is experiencing guilt, KNOWING that she should have come forward SOONER. And THAT is telling. WHY has she kept her silence? What is going on with her? I’m rather worried for the answers.

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      1. I think Mia suspects that she may not be allowed to julliard if she tells them the info that she has…..coz I have a feeling it is going to be some DISASTROUS SECRET

        Now I really think Gia could be one of the girl’s working at Elena’s club……Elena was pretty gud at hiding that side of her business anyways

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, I think Gia was chosen for a reason. She was seemingly Elliot’s “type,” and Elena would have recommended getting someone close to ELLIOT in order to get information, since Christian includes Elliot on everything. After all, Christian knows it was Elliot’s pressure on Ana that eventually got Ana to take Christian’s call.

        Getting someone close to the Grey family was instrumental in getting intel. And Gia WOULD have provided the intel that Ana was alone, since she would know about the security. NO WONDER Gia was SO ANXIOUS to talk to Ana after the attack—she wanted to know if Leila had revealed HER connection to the Conspiracy.

        And Elena would have only chosen GIA if she thought she could trust being able to manipulate her longterm. But once Gia thought she could REALLY become a Grey, she may have resisted or tried to get out. Or even to REDEEM herself, KNOWING that it would eventually be revealed about just how much information she had provided to the Conspiracy.

        But I also think MIA chose the WRONG friend(s) as well. She now realizes that maybe one of HER contacts has gone missing. AFTER ALL, even ANA reasons out that victims would be PEOPLE THAT THEY KNOW. Once Mr. Conspiracy Head is DONE using them, then their lives are over rather than risk them reaching out to Christian for help.

        And realizing that she has trusted the wrong people would make Mia wary to come forward. She would KNOW that information inadvertently learned from HER would have put Ana and others AT RISK. I could see some “friend” offering to “help” with the Gia situation, or something else, that was actually using MIA to fill in the gaps. SOMETHING scared Mia back when Ray returned. I think we may be fixing to FINALLY learn what that was.

        MIA was originally willing to use Elena when she thought it could help her get what she wanted. EVEN KNOWING what Elena had done with Christian and to her family. So Mia has shown some glaring short-sightedness and selfishness that has come to nearly harm her in the past. While I hoped/assumed that she had learned her lesson, she may have THOUGHT she had “FRIENDS” at the club that have turned out to be people used by Elena and the Conspiracy.

        Once Elena reached out, Mia had to have realized that certain information could be forthcoming. And knowing NOW that Gia might be dead, then Mia has finally had the revelation that she needs to come forward with what she knows.

        But Elena was ALWAYS smart enough to KNOW HOW TO MANIPULATE MIA in the past. She would seemingly “incriminate” Mia in her activities, so she undoubtedly had that continue with Mia’s “new” friends. So Mia has been COMPROMISED in some way, and that kept her from approaching Christian before this. She probably rationalized that she could deal with it on her own, but the time has come where she may have made things WORSE by not coming forward. So she is SCARED to tell Christian, but knows that she MUST.

        So lets ALL hope that Mia unburdens herself to Christian next chapter. I think Chapter 40 is going to contain some uncomfortable REVEALS. (Any HINTS as to my being right, Tara, about 40 containing some reveals????)


      3. So bcoz of everyone’s stupidity, Christian and Ana’s life is in danger

        I always wondered y Elliot was in such a hurry to take his relationship with Gia forward.
        They started around Thanksgiving and they were already living together so soon considering Elliot had just come out of around 4 yr relationship….all this raises a lot of red flags


      4. Oh Tara, will you give us any CLUES as to whether or not any unexpected or unwelcome guests end up attending the wedding? ARE these two crazy kids going to actually end up MARRIED at this wedding, or will something ELSE intervene??


    1. They reconnected in one way but NOT in another—they want entirely different things out of their wedding day. In this chapter, we still seem to be seeing CHRISTIAN’S insecurities. He still wants his wedding day to be his chance to show the world that Ana is HIS alone. And Ana is NOT speaking up about her wants and needs from the wedding. I’m not saying that Ana should get her way over Christian, but it is THEIR wedding day, and the two need to find a way to make it special for BOTH of them.

      A huge wedding amongst strangers at a location that means NOTHING to her is NOT Ana’s dream wedding. And Christian has always SAID that he only wanted to GIVE Ana her dreams, not deprive her of them. And if Ana and Christian can’t talk about something as significant as THEIR WEDDING DAY, then that is a PROBLEM.

      And this huge wedding that Christian wants will require A LOT of security. Taylor and Welch are already stretched thin with trying to identify Mr. Conspiracy Head, and Christian is NOT making their task ANY easier by insisting that the wedding occur NOW.

      So Ana and Christian NEED to reconnect in more ways than JUST their bodies. They need to TALK about their wedding day, and Christian needs to see his wedding day as MORE than just a seeming display of ownership.

      We all tend to see Ana’s insecurities, especially since she is the narrator. But this chapter basically shows CHRISTIAN’s insecurities, despite his being a “stronger” shade of fifty. And Ana needs to DISCUSS her needs and wants rather than just running roughshod over them, ESPECIALLY since that will begin to build RESENTMENT over time if not addressed.

      And Christian should have known better than to drop a payment for a location without even discussing it with Ana. Hopefully, these two begin communicating better SOON, as they do NOT need to have any communication issues with Mr. Conspiracy Head LOOKING for weakness!

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      1. I am actually still very confused with Christian’s desire to want a bigger wedding considering she has told him repeated times that this isn’t what she wants


      2. An,

        In Christian’s mind, the wedding is the chance to show the world that he has WON Ana and that she is his FOR KEEPS. It is the ultimate triumph, and he wants EVERYONE to know. In his own mind, a small, intimate family wedding is something that is HIDDEN away. He wants to show off his victory to the world and show that NOTHING prevented him from attaining his ultimate goal. (So it is all about HIM and seemingly showing Ownership, which is NOT what marriage is all about.)

        And yes, part of that may be to show Mr. Conspiracy Head that he is NOT afraid and feels he has enough clout and POWER to show the world that NOTHING intimidates Christian Grey.

        In other words, Christian still has those lingering INSECURITIES that cause him to NEED that grand reveal of his victory. I mean, he wanted to invite ASTOR HARRINGTON to his wedding. They certainly weren’t friends! So he MEANT for his guest list to be people that tried to PREVENT him from obtaining his goals. (It’s a wonder he didn’t demand Elena be given a day-pass to attend the wedding, just so he could show her he won and she lost afterall!)

        And Christian needs ANA to want to announce their union from the rooftops to feel secure, sadly. And while Ana is cognizant of Christian’s need, it is causing her PAIN. AND to keep from having the wedding that SHE secretly wants.

        So Christian needs his priorities in check. And Ana needs AGAIN to talk to Christian. After all, Christian has promised to give Ana HER dreams, and that should certainly cover having the type of wedding that she wants. ANA sees the wedding as an intimate commitment between two people of their desire to be together forever, NOT as a sign of “ownership.” And Christian needs to see that what he is conveying to Ana is a desire to show the world that he seemingly “owns” her.

        Christian thought he was “compromising” on the smaller wedding. He was NOT hearing that Ana TRULY WANTED a SMALL family wedding. Ana NEEDS to talk with Christian about this, and that it does NOT show an EQUAL PARTNERSHIP if someone commits to an UNKNOWN wedding location WITHOUT EVEN ASKING the person that he is planning to wed! THAT shows a real problem! It is about BOTH of them, which means BOTH of them need to have EACH ONE’s needs met EQUALLY. And right now, this wedding is about anything OTHER than equality!


      3. But it’s really difficult to accept the fact that he isn’t adhering to ana’s wishes

        Also we have never seen Christian as insecure one in this story. He knows what all has happened and he never suspected that ana might leave him


    1. I agree wholeheartedly.

      But Mia seems to feel guilty about SOMETHING. I think far more has been going on in Mia’s life than we know. And THAT is concerning. After all, if Mr. Conspiracy Head could throw someone significant in Elliot’s life, wouldn’t he try to do the same with MIA????

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well if this is just a small calm before the shit starts hitting the fan then I take it. You did a great job in giving them a nice family mini vacation. This time Ray was able to participate with them and witness their bliss on his own. Nicely done Tara🦋

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If this is the calm before the storm then I take it. You did a great job in writing yet another mini vacation with them as a family. This time including Ray on the vacation. He was able to witness their blissful love and relationship without anyone’s influence. Nicely done Tara 🦋


  5. I’ve said forever that I thought Gia was dead. That the move was the PERFECT time for the Conspiracy to take her without anyone questioning men moving boxes (that might contain body parts). The missing chair was the key. AND the fact that Gia’s office was cleared out with nothing left but a note. Gia is NOT that considerate to risk doing without in order to exit gracefully.

    Gia’s increasing desperation to secure Elliot at a time when it was obvious to EVERYONE that she was no longer wanted just shows that Gia KNEW what would happen to her once she became useless to Mr. Conspiracy Head. Gia had hoped to save herself by becoming a Grey.

    I think Gia was purposefully thrown in Elliot’s way. Elena KNEW Elliot’s type, and the break-up of Elliot and Kate made Elliot particularly vulnerable. And Gia originally did her job perfectly. She made sure to learn EVERYTHING about every Grey members’ schedules and SERVICE PROVIDERS. (After all, workmen and service providers will ALWAYS be needed, particularly now with so many Grey projects going on, such as the office AND Christian and Ana’s house.)

    But Gia had aspirations of her OWN. The more she got engrained with the Grey clan, the more she actually wanted to be a part of it. At the very time she began to be on shaky ground, she realized that she was losing what she thought she had secure. AND if she actually DID refuse to provide further intel, she was always going to be dead-on-arrival as soon as the inevitable break-up occurred.

    And I have said that MIA was the key to this. She saw ALL of Elena’s clients. AND she has known information that would be important to Christian for some time. I wonder if Mia was blackmailed or threatened at any point? THat, too, would explain why she got so pale and left the table so quickly way back at the barbeque for Ray. SOMETHING was going on with Mia at that time. And if ELLIOT had someone thrown his way by the Conspiracy, then wouldn’t they try to do the same with Mia?

    So I’m wondering if Mia has had contacts from anyone in the Conspiracy. OBVIOUSLY, Mia feels GUILTY for not telling Christian something important, and the sooner she gives up the information she has, the closer we will be to finding Mr. Conspiracy Head.

    And Mia’s risky behaviors are TELLING. It may come from risk or something else. While I don’t think Mia would ever DELIBERATELY hurt her family, I think she HAS been compromised in some way. She could be manipulated very easily, I fear. I mean, her choice of songs (like “S&M”) as being something she “likes,” especially given what everyone KNOWS of Elena’s past actions, seems like something she should NOT have brought up had she exercised any real judgment and sensitivity.

    Maybe I am being too hard on Mia, but she has had information for some time that even SHE should have realized would help Christian. And she has NOT disclosed it prior to now. WHY???? SOMETHING is going on with Mia, and the sooner we find out, the better. I think Mia now realizes that Taylor and Welch’s search is going to turn up SOMETHING on her, so she needs to come clean NOW rather than later.

    Next chapter will undoubtedly bring some revelations. I’m rather nervous now about what Mia has to reveal.


  6. Elliot CLEARLY wants Kate back. But she is NOT willing to make it that easy for him. (Good girl, Kate! Make him work for it!!!!)

    But Elliot will have to show some maturity AND a change in his priorities. He needs to buy that particular ring—you know, the one with the diamond in the center that SHOWS that he wants the lifetime commitment.

    AND that is the thing—when Elliot and Kate do start sleeping together again, Elliot WILL see the scar. So it is only a matter of time before he learns about what Kate did for his family.


    1. If I were Kate, I would like to be completely sure of Elliot’s love BEFORE he sees her scar and knows about what she did for Carrick. I would like for him to unequivocally show her his real love and commitment for HER, and not because he’s GRATEFUL for what she did for his father. Maybe it’s me, but I think that she might need that reassurance. He might not even think about it, but the mind is perverse some times.


  7. I hate seeing Ana and Christian still having communication difficulties at this point. Christian should KNOW better than to book a WEDDING location without disclosing it to his bride FIRST. Ana SHOULD have been consulted about her own wedding day.

    The fact that Christian and Ana intend VERY different things for their wedding is also disturbing. Christian wants the wedding to be a loud statement to the world that this particular woman is HIS woman. It is about displaying OWNERSHIP rather than a mutual commitment to spend a lifetime together.

    Don’t get me wrong, we all KNOW that Christian really loves Ana and has ALWAYS wanted to be with her forever. But the way he is going about it NOW is about all the wrong things rather than the cumulation of a beautiful dream.

    So Ana DOES need to talk to Christian. And, quite frankly, Ana will NOT know most of the guests at the wedding, so Mr. Conspiracy Head could approach her with ease at some point. It is a castle, after all, with a lot of space and dark corners. And Mr. Conspiracy Head is someone that Ana KNOWS, so that COULD be someone from within GEH. Even if Mr. Conspiracy Head IS someone like Andrew Lincoln or Stephen Morton, then there is still HYDE and others from within GEH that work for the Conspiracy. And although several members may NOW be like Elena and afraid of Mr. Conspiracy Head, they will still do HIS bidding and hope to make a run for it after he has Ana.

    But back to the topic at hand—-Ana wants a SMALL, intimate wedding with just her nearest and dearest at a location important to her and Christian. And even though she has SAID this before, Christian wasn’t listening or has chosen to ignore it. AND THAT IS A PROBLEM. Christian fears Ana doesn’t really want to marry him, and his whole goal from the wedding is to get the world to see that he has won the woman of his choice and that she is forevermore OFF LIMITS to the world.

    So Ana and Christian NEED to talk about what each wants from the wedding and find a way to compromise. (I still say they ought to have the small intimate wedding at the house and then a gargantuan reception at the castle. Satisfies BOTH their needs for the wedding endgame.)

    But they NEED to discuss Christian’s still-lingering insecurities. Ana WANTS to be his bride more than anything, and Christian still needs to hear that AND the reasons why Ana loves him.

    But this huge wedding thing that Christian wants is a fiasco waiting to happen. It is the PERFECT time for Mr. Conspiracy Head to strike. (I mean, when Bill Gates married, he bought island time for a weekend and had EVERYONE forced to leave the resorts before having his guests flown in all at once in order to SECURE the wedding location. Christian and Ana’s wedding location is not NEARLY so isolated, so any number of means, SUCH AS SERVICE PROVIDERS, can be used to compromise the security. Taylor and Welch can’t plan for everything, PARTICULARLY NOW when they have SO MUCH on their plates.)

    So the WEDDING is sounding more and more like the perfect place to strike.




    1. Back in ABSOF, Mia was made to sign an NDA about the club and told that her parents would be put in jail if she violated it. Elena then thought she had ENOUGH on Mia to hold her silence, so Mia was given the job of HOSTESS for the club. AND ANY NEW CLIENTS that came through the doors were to be ESCORTED BY MIA to Elena’s office.

      So Mia saw the FACES of ALL the clients that came through the bar, even if she didn’t know the names of the individuals. (And most likely, she DID hear the names.)

      So Mia may not have known about the EMPLOYER of the clients, but it is MORE than likely that Elena would engage GEH EMPLOYEES to be CLIENTS of the bar in order to have LEVERAGE over these individuals to use when she saw fit. Elena was ALWAYS about building a POWER-BASE, and she prided herself in helping Christian with employee choices for GEH. HOW DO YOU THINK Elena knew who to recommend? These would be people she could CONTROL.

      We have already guessed that GIA was intentionally placed in Elliot’s way in order to get information on the Grey family. If GIA was a plant, then you KNOW that Elena would try to place a “friend” in Mia’s way as well. SO MAYBE MIA remained friends with other girls that worked at the club. After all, anything is possible, and Mia could think that these girls were really friends. Even Christian tried to help those other girls, so he wouldn’t have thought to tell Mia to have no further contact wtih anyone associated with Elena.

      So it may be that a former “friend” of Mia’s has recently gone missing or not been in contact for too long. And Mia may even have been BLACKMAILED by one of the club’s former clients IF they got Mia to come to parties where there were drugs, etc. We KNOW that a 19 years old dancer seemingly asked Mia to prom, and that would NOT HAVE BEEN SOMEONE SHE MET THROUGH SCHOOL. So she could know this guy from dance classes OR from the club or through Elena. ANYTHING is possible, and once Mia slept with the guy, he could have threatened to release pictures.

      (AND the other possibility is that Mia DID get pregnant by the guy and had an abortion or miscarriage, and she would NOT want the Grey family to know that. So there are ANY number of possibilities for how Mia may have been COMPROMISED as a result of former ACQUAINTAINCES or clients from Elena’s club.)

      Hope the above makes sense. We KNOW that Mia was scared of SOMETHING that she heard or had emailed to her at the time of Ray’s barbeque. Mia seemingly left to “go meet friends,” and it may have been that she was blackmailed or tried to “save” another friend, only to find herself implicated in something. Elena would have had SOME PLAN in place, since she undoubtedly BLAMED Mia for revealing so much. AFTER ALL, it was because Elena had gone after MIA that caused CHRISTIAN to go after Elena once and for all, so Elena would want revenge on MIA as well!



    I have noted that Tara always seems to choose her words with care. We did have Mia supposedly “joke” about being pregnant at the family table WAAAAAYYY back. I always thought that was something she would never think to “joke” about, and it might have been Mia’s way of testing the waters. Obviously, Mia is not pregnant now, so something would have happened to the baby. If Mia DID go through with an abortion, then I would definitely think that she would EXPECT to have problems with her Catholic parents once that got out.

    Hopefully, Mia’s poor joke WAS just that, a BAD, stupid joke made in the moment. But HOW she would have thought ANYONE could find it humorous is beyond me. But Mia has been SECRETIVE about something, as we SAW her get pale at Ray’s barbeque, make an excuse and then IMMEDIATELY LEAVE to supposedly “meet someone.”

    So if Mia DID have some kind of indiscretion, she may have blurted out what she did just to see how the family would react. It could have even been a FRIEND’S blunder. We have SEEN that Mia did NOT know how to deal with everything going on in her life. She did NOT want to be a “perfect” Grey kid, and Mia may have done more with her rebellion then we previously knew. After all, she seemingly NOW even wants to sing about “S&M,” which implies that Mia has been doing things behind everyone’s backs in order to assert her independence and “bravery.”

    Mia’s COMMENTS over the last two chapters SHOW a girl determined to take RISKS. I mean, a bad dive into the water could have compromised Mia’s ability to DANCE. Mia’s “jokes” about her daredevil ways may allude to her having done much MORE that she should NOT, and I think she is concerned about what Christian and her family will feel AND DO once they learn what she has been up to with her OWN friends.

    So I’m thinking Mia reveals may include some WHOLLY unexpected things. AND I DO THINK ELENA would have had someone DELIBERATELY placed in Mia’s way to compromise her somehow. Mia didn’t want ANYONE questioning her judgment, and she has shown that she WOULD succumb to peer pressure by her activities at that drug party. Those people WERE to be part of her dance group and probably didn’t go anywhere. So if those type of people WERE her friends, then they would dare her to do the things they did. Thus, potential trouble and things that Mia could be blackmailed about.

    I just want Mia to SPEAK UP already and let us know how BAD it is. Because there has been a REASON that Mia has deliberately withhold information now that is CRITICAL. And I think MIa has figured out she was used by someone. Hopefully, next chapter will give us the answers.


  10. Wonderful and much needed family time and peace, glad they have it. That was such beautiful lemons after such a long time. I love it every time Christian expresses in words and acts how much he loves Ana. Surprised that he got another venue for the wedding. Ana accedes because she compromises and this seems something important and Christian wants so much. Hope Christian communicates to her his needs for a gorgeous wedding, her mind already sees it. Mia better talk soon and honestly. Hope she remembers when she was busted who was there for her, Ana! Keeping quiet when she knows something puts everyone in danger. She needs to learn to love others besides herself. She’s been too pampered. Look forward to next Monday, the wedding and more. Thank you for the great update, Tara, you rock as always. Xoxo daytona


  11. Christian and Anastasia had, seemingly, resolved the wedding issue and location. Yes, Christian wants all the world to know that she is his now and forever – including past male ‘acquaintances,’ business ‘friends,’ as well as his colleagues and valuable business contacts et al. However, I would reiterate from my past comment, that Christian could maintain the best of both worlds and truly please the love of his life to fulfill her desire for the small, intimate wedding with family and close friends if he would revisit the idea of having the wedding held at the Grey’s and then perhaps, following Ana’s Book Tour, an indulgent Marriage Celebration Reception would be the perfect compromise to include Christian’s grandiose ‘Event’ wishes with no ‘strike-outs’ on the Guest List – to be held at the ‘Castle’ or any other place he would deem worthy of ‘Introducing’ his new bride. Perhaps, with Taylor, Sawyer and their team on over-drive, they may even have the Conspirator situation handled by then, if even simply by learning the identity and plotting his ‘capture.’

    Mia CANNOT continue to be overlooked – she has FINALLY come forth and is actually VOLUNTEERING some sort of information she feels may be helpful. She MUST be gently interrogated for unveiling ANYTHING and EVERYTHING she may know, and possibly lead to help identify the Conspirator or a right-hand to him (maybe Gresham or someone Mia noticed at the GEH party that could be the same person as tried to rape her at Elena’s).

    All signs have pointed and continue to point in the direction of Gia’s ‘removal’ by the Conspirator. Once Elliot broke up with her, Gia ceased to be of any value to him. He simply would want her out of the way and alleviate any danger of her ‘confessing’ to Elliot or Christian. They were getting closer, on the yacht, when they began discussing the condition of Gia’s apartment along with the fact that none of her ‘writings’ were actually by her own hand.

    Tara keeps leading us ‘down the garden path’ with tiny possible clues but not enough to form our own conclusions before something else pops up to change direction. Excellent writing with some clever humor thrown in just keeps us hangin’ on – but, we are getting ‘antsy’ for more, more, more and soon, soon soon. Please Tara – some tiny positive information would certainly go a long way.
    Cannot wait for #40! (which sounds as though it may even be the wedding?!) Oh, can also just imagine his ‘over-the-top’ wedding gift to his precious love!


  12. So Gia is missing as in she was in on it and was murdered for not fulfilling her part????

    I totally enjoyed them goofing off and having a great time in the ocean and of course their little concert.

    They were certainly happy that their 6 week sex ban was up and on his birthday no less. 🙂

    What did Christian want to talk to Mia about?

    Hope you move went well.


  13. “You take away all the other luxuries in life, and if you can make someone smile and laugh, you have given the most special gift: happiness.”
    – Brad Garrett


  14. At last something is the way Christian wants and not just Ana. It really seems to me that Christian always does things for Ana and gives her everything on the silver platter. I’m really glad to see this time they’re meeting in the middle on the wedding, rather than Christian compromising once again (did I mention I’d been team Christian all along, lol)
    The Mia thing has me curious, especially having read the reviews. Somehow along the way I completely missed Mia’s part in it. But I agree with others, if she has something, why doesn’t she come forward to help get the search along? She’s there at all family meetings, she knows everything that’s going on.
    Great chapter, Tara, though after all this sweetness, Im ready for some action 🙂 Thank you.


    1. Yes, I’m also still wondering about Carla. Now, since the wedding is actually coming up, I’m wondering if Ana will choose to invite Carla after all. OR if Carla just tries to show up.

      But I’m like you—Carla had been on vacations with the Grey family and was all about planning an elaborate wedding with Grace, so SOMETHING big changed for her. I think she WAS contacted by someone in regards to the Grey family. Carla was absolutely DETERMINED to keep Ana and Calliope from Christian, so I’m wondering just WHO could have contacted her and convinced her to do what she did. WHAT could Mr. Conspiracy Head possibly have on CARLA?

      I mean, after the attack on Ana, you would THINK that Carla would become pro-security, etc., yet she instead turns against the Grey family entirely, resorting to even getting RAY to try to hate them in order to separate Ana. SOMETHING SCARED HER. No other explanation for it, in my opinion. But WHY would she actually think Ana would be safer with her in Georgia or just apart from Christian? There has to be MORE to Carla doing what she did and expecting to get away with it.

      (That is the ONLY reason that Stephen Morton makes my Conspiracy Head Possibilities List. I could see him having blackmail-worthy material on Carla from back in the day. SOMETHING that would embarrass Carla and put her current marriage at risk.)

      But any way you look at it, Carla was willing to sacrifice her daughter’s happiness for a REASON. Tara has previously mentioned in one of the comments that we are not done with Carla yet, so I’m thinking Carla will try to put in an appearance at the wedding.

      IN FACT, if Christian were smart, he would JUST ENTIRELY SKIP OVER that part where the preacher asks “if anyone has a reason WHY these two should not be joined together in matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.” Really, I can see some REAL ISSUES with that part of the ceremony, ESPECIALLY given all the people Christian wants to invite!!! And I could see Carla making a SCENE then if she is present!

      (HEY TARA, will you tell us if CARLA will be at the WEDDING????)


  15. What a wonderful ending, but what was MIA going to say earlier? Was Gia involved this whole time with that guy? I remember they interviewed her when she was still dating Elliot! Looking forward to next week


  16. OKAY, Tara has indicated that the WEDDING is coming up.

    Now THAT could be a VERY INTERESTING ceremony, considering Christian has invited even his former ENEMIES to the wedding! REALLY RISKY if you keep that part of the ceremony where the preacher asks “if anyone has a reason WHY these two people should not be married, then speak NOW or forever hold your peace.” I could see any NUMBER of people creating a scene here!

    (And where will Calliope be during the ceremony and reception? I’m sensing some issues here people! Something tells me that Christian and Ana should have just eloped!)


  17. Great chapter of relaxation, fun and finally Christian and Ana celebrating the most awaited reconnection of sexual intimacy after weeks of starvation.
    Not sure about his sudden announcement of wedding venue changes without consulting with Ana first. I know the planning was stressing her, but it is both their wedding she should have been consulted first before depositing money to secure a place she has not even known about. It is more becoming his wedding treating it like a business transaction instead of a personal commitment for both of them. Ana needs to speak to him now and fix it before it becomes a sore spot in their future. Still too many people remains in the guest list and will compromise security. Christian is again acting in impulse decisions and not enough communication with Ana. Will this wedding actually occur with doubts and unfulfilled dreams of her own wedding she would like to have. Ana needs to speak now or forever she will regret not doing it. She can make decisions too.
    Gia is dead for sure. Disappeared without a trace so far. She was allowed to web into the Greys too fast just because she became Elliott’s girl, also a very fast building relationship. Never like the way he just let Kate go after years of being together then hitched on Gia like a tornado, and now hitting on back to Kate. Men not thinking with their brains but with their cocks when there are available women around.
    Mia should definitely talk to Christian if she knows a thing of the mystery than had been happening around. She definitely has knowledge being close to Elena’s circle when working for her. She has had nights of being somewhere that Grace never knew where actually she was going. More mystery to reveal. Enough from me and thank you for all.


  18. Wonder what Mia has to say? You would think with Elliot being the baby whisper he’d be more open to having kids. Love how we’re getting the best of both worlds with more Ana and Christian as well as Kate and Elliot. Always thought Gia was in on it, hate her! Can’t wait for next Monday!!


  19. I’m so grateful and thankful that God spared me and my loves throught the hurricane.

    I totally forgot to review on the last chapter. I wanted to know if we had any updates on Carter. Last I read he went to Georgia for some unknown reason.

    I absolutely loved the family time on the yacht. It was wonderful reading about Carrick. Especially his fishing time with Ray. Thank You Kate.

    I said in my previous few reviews that Mia was the missing link to the conspiracy puzzle. Mia either has information on Elena client list or her direct dealing with a member of the club. I just don’t think Mia understand how pertinent this information could be to the pending investigations. I sometimes forget that Mia’s very young and will make mistakes as any teenagers.

    I think we were all hoping that Gia was ok, but also knew something horrible might have happened to her due to the manner in which she vacated the apartment. I guess much of what was said from Elena was true. To me totally takes out Astor Harrington also. I kust don’t see hom having the resource.Especially if he was willing to do a $5000 job for Elena. And lets not forget he volunteered that information to Ana after he apologized.

    I do wonder about Carter’s family and would they have some type of connection, since they was never introduced in the story. Even at graduation.

    After reading the reviews about the break down in communication between Ana and Christian I had to re-read the chapter. I just didn’t get a break down. If anything their connection are stronger than ever. She’s his princess and he wants to give her that fairytale wedding and show the world how much he loves her.

    Tara thanks for another beautiful well written chapter.


  20. Great fun chapter. They needed a break. Now what did Mia leave up in the air. Can’t wait to find out what it is and found the connection to Gia. Thank you.


  21. I love reading this story and it’s the only reason I look forward to Mondays. Haha This chapter was great (as always) and I’m loving the suspense as it continues to escalate. If I could make one small request or rather let my hope/wish be known…I’ve especially enjoyed the storyline revolving around Calliope and her entrance into the world but since then she has sort of been given to this person or left with that person. I was really hoping to read some sweet mother/daughter moments. A little bit of “fluff” if you will involving Ana learning to be a mom. I know that Ana and Christian haven’t exactly been given much time to “breathe” since coming home from the hospital but I am still hoping and wishing that it will be coming in the story soon. Looking forward to Monday, you rock for writing such an awesome series! Xx


  22. In doing a last re-read of the chapter, it is interesting just WHEN Mia chooses to speak up. They had just been talking about Mia literally moving out from Elliot’s and being completely GONE, as in no further evidence of using her car, bank cards, etc.

    I’m now thinking Mia has a former friend that is also now missing. Maybe the person was supposed to move away, and Mia didn’t question the lack of contact before now. After all, we know from Mia’s talking to Ana early ASSOF that she was seriously lacking in having a close friend after Kate’s break-up. Kate had been the older sister Mia never had and desperately needed, particularly as she dealt with everything around her. As Mia told Ana, she had really relied on that relationship wtih Kate, and she seemed really at a loss after the break-up.

    While Ana and Mia have now resumed a sisterly-type relationship AND Kate is back in both of their lives, Mia WAS at a vulnerable time and place in her life where she was LOOKING for a confidant. I am convinced that SOMEONE was probably deliberately placed in Mia’s life at this time that Mia is only NOW questioning why s/he has disappeared completely.

    So Mia is probably realizing that “signs” were there that certain of her friend(s) were not really her friends and could have used her for information. MIA may have even texted or spoken with someone about Calliope’s name after the baby shower.

    And I still say it would be only natural that Mia still communicates with girls she met at Elena’s bar. Previously, Taylor and Christian would have NEVER thought to investigate Mia’s contacts and friends, so I’m thinking that this is still an untapped possibility.

    Elena clearly got more than a glimpse of Mia’s life and interests as a result of her working at the bar. Mia still TRUSTED Elena, even after everything that had happened to Christian, and was willing to do almost anything to accomplish her dreams. So Elena would be AWARE of all Mia’s efforts to forward her dancing career. AND Elena would have undoubtedly had access to Mia’s cell phone while she worked without Mia even being aware of it.

    So Elena would have probably had an even easier time finding someone to put in MIA’s life as well as Elliot’s. Elena’s strategy has ALWAYS been to put someone in that she seemingly trusted or had bought, such as hiring Astor in regards to Ana.

    So Mr. Conspiracy Head knew what he was doing in recruiting Elena. AND he knew enough about the events with the Grey family to insist Elena write a TRUTHFUL accounting of what happened in ADSOF. And there are a LIMITED number of people that would have known what went down at the first trial in ADSOF. That is seemingly the key to determing the Conspiracy Head’s identity in my opinion.


  23. Finally had a chance to catch up with this chapter. I was actually told by someone NOT to read it, because it was too fluffy, but I know better than to listen to people saying that kind of mess about wmgwh.

    Anyway, I have a confession. I love Elliot. He’s just… Everything. Every. Thing. I thought you should know.


  24. In trying to kill time while waiting for Chapter 40 to come out, I will have to say that re-reading certain chapters of ASSOF does give credence to the possibility of the chauvinistic intern (Brian Clark) being Mr. Conspiracy Head.

    We don’t have much of a background on Brian. On the first day of the internship, he claims to admire Mr. Grey and has looked forward to working with him. He was ear-marked for the aquisitions department, and his attitude regarding women CERTAINLY fits in with the way Mr. Conspiracy Head acts. AND Brian would have had a chance to get to know Leila during his internship and to know how badly she wanted Mr. Grey for herself. He also would have been in a position to see and meet people within GEH.

    PLUS, Brian was hired at a time when Elena was still obviously important to GEH up until Ana obviously supplanted her at the time of the departmental meeting when it was announced what Ana’s true summer job would be. Brian then felt HE should have her job after it came out that Ana was sleeping with Christian, and he even tried to come in and take the head position at SIP. Brian just ASSUMED he was smarter and better, and although he seemingly played nice, even telling Ana how much he had learned from her over the summer, that COULD have been a ruse to lull Ana into a false sense of security.

    IN ADDITION, Brian worked closely with HYDE and Barney and even Welsh regarding the e-reader. And there is obviously a REASON that Elena was MADE to write her book —Mr. Conspiracy Head had a publishing connection that he believes will publish the book. And THAT would be Hyde, someone that is clearly disgruntled with Ana and Christian.

    So Brian Clark was PERFECTLY entrenched at JUST the right time to observe everything at GEH, including the workers in the trenches. And given Brian’s attitude towards women, he could easily enough be the WRONG kind of dominant that would have been naturally attracted to Elena’s club with her “relaxed” rules towards abusing women.

    AND Brian would have been familiar with Seattle and have ties there from the summer internship as well as having gone to school in Portland, Oregan. So he DEFINITELY had connections on the right side of the country to start the Conspiracy.

    But while Brian’s background presumably fits the Conspiracy Head profile, we know NOTHING about his access to funds, as MR. Conspiracy Head needed to buy off the police and potentially to hire muscle thugs. ELENA may have provided the funding necessary, since I would think she would have blackmail material that could benefit Brian.

    So while Brian Clark is not at the top of my list, he seemingly fits nearly everything but the MONEY angle. He seemingly worshipped Christian until he found out about Ana, who he could see as making Christian “weak.” Brian could have deeply RESENTED Ana being given the plush head position at SIP when she was seemingly unqualified for it. And in typical male chauvinistic pig fashion, he determines to later have his “way” with Ana for revenge.

    So I can’t count Brian out. HE obviously has the intelligence to make this work as well as the attitude issues. HE WORKED with ANa, as Mr. Conspiracy HEad obviously hiNTED to Ana in his phone conversation with her. So yeah, he FITS.


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