Chapter 40

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It’s an abnormally hot summer day, even for mid-July. The bridal boutique where I’m trying on my dress now that the final alterations have been made is sweltering. Luke looks incredibly uncomfortable sitting in the chair against the wall a few feet away from me, and while Grace paces back and forth near the door, talking to the hospital so she can follow up on one of her patients, she actually has to reach up and wipe the sweat away from her brow with the back of her hand.

“How are we doing, Miss Steele?” the manager asks, coming in from the back room for what feels like the 400th time today.

“We’re fine,” I tell her. “Still waiting.”

She nods and gives me a very forced looking smile. I’ve been here, in this dress, for probably 40 minutes and while I’m sure she would have normally insisted we move along with our appointment so she could get me out of here as quickly as possible, she holds her tongue because I will be leaving this shop today with over six figures worth of wedding dresses.

Not one, two.

I twist in the mirror to admire the back of the dress again when, finally, Kate comes bustling through the archway leading in from the main store.

“I’m so sorry, Ana, traffic was terrible and there’s paparazzi outsi–” she halts in mid-sentence and the apologetic look on her face suddenly changes to confusion. “But… that’s the same dress.”

“I know,” I sigh. “No one else has seen the new one yet, and I didn’t want to do the big reveal until you got here. I just wanted to look at the first dress one last time.”

“It’s beautiful,” Kate says. “And you look amazing in it. I don’t understand why you’re changing it.”

“It doesn’t fit the venue, and the other one is the one the paper announced I would be wearing, so…” My hands brush down over the soft ivory lace that perfectly hugs the body I’ve worked so hard to get back all the way down past my hips and then sweeps out in a graceful pool around my feet. The first time I tried this dress on, I immediately fell in love with the detail in the lace and the raw, unfinished edges of the thin lace straps that circle my shoulders. It’s beautiful, elegant, and yet still a little sexy. My breasts look fantastic cupped inside the custom created bodice and the dress itself is completely backless, all the way down to the top of my behind, which is artfully contained within the dress to look high, firm, and utterly perfect. I’ve imagined myself in this gown, walking down the aisle towards Christian, a hundred times, and even in just the fantasy of it, I could see the cocktail of wonder, love, and a hint of lust in his eyes.

It’s my perfect dress, but it’s not the dress I’ll be wearing on my wedding day.

I sigh and turn away from the mirror. Since the dress I”m wearing is custom made, I can’t return it, and while I step off the pedestal so I can make my way to the back to try on the new dress, I have a passing thought that maybe one day Calliope will wear this on her wedding day and it won’t feel like such a waste.

It takes three people to help me get into the gown I’m actually going to wear on Saturday. We begin with not one, but two layers of petticoats to ensure the skirt of the gown will reach it’s full potential and then I’m strapped tightly into a kind of corset that will both keep my waist looking tiny and perfect, and act as a support for my breasts since this gown is strapless but the the bodice isn’t boned.

After ensuring I can breathe, two salesgirls lift the dress as high as they can, while the manager holds open the skirt so I can slide inside, and as they carefully ease the dress over me, I prepare myself for the weight. The gown is gorgeous. I kept the lace theme, as I really did love that from the first dress, but this lace isn’t ivory, it’s white, almost blinding white, which seems a bit presumptuous since my daughter is being carried down the aisle by my soon to be Mother-in-Law right in front of me. The bodice is intricate with a deep v sweetheart neckline, and straps similar to the first dress that drape beautifully, but uselessly, over my arms at the side. At my waist, the skirt begins to billow out in a cloud of gossamer and lace, which is woven into a floral pattern throughout the skirt to reflect the gardens where we’re saying our vows, and then continues on several feet behind me. As the sales staff lay the gargantuan train out behind me, which I’m sure will look amazing tumbling down the long staircases of Thornewood Castle, I’m once again floored by how stunning this gown really is. It’s the kind of dress you would imagine royalty would wear, but it’s also extremely heavy. Almost uncomfortably so. It feels almost as though it’s consuming me, and every time I imagine Christian trying to fight his way through all of this material to get under my dress on our wedding night, I burst into a fit of giggles.

“Alright,” the manager says brightly as she steps away from me. “What do you think, dear?”

“It really is beautiful,” I say, glancing up and down in my own private mirror.”

“Your groom is going to be absolutely floored.” She smiles and attempts to further fluff the already overfull skirt. “Oh, you look like Cinderella. Shall we show the others?”

I nod and then take her hand to help me down off the pedestal, gathering the front of the skirt in my hand so I can walk, and as I wonder how that’s going to work practically when I walk down the aisle, one hand wrapped through my father’s elbow and another clutching to the huge white bouquet Seattle’s top tier florist has personally crafted for me, I feel the weight of the dress pulling me back. It’s like an anchor, determined to keep me in place, but I trudge forward, forcing myself out of the dressing room to where my family is waiting.

“Ana,” Luke says, straightening in his chair the moment I come through the arch and gawking at me. “Oh my god, you look…” He’s at a loss for words, and when Grace turns away from the display of hairpieces she’s carefully examining to look at me, her hand immediately shoots up to her mouth and her eyes well with tears.

“Oh, Ana… that’s it. That’s the dress. My darling girl, you look absolutely beautiful.”

“Really?”

“Yes, oh, Christian is going to lose his mind when he sees you.”

I let out a sharp exhale of relief and then step on the riser so I can examine the dress once more, but as the salesgirl places the veil over my hair and I turn to look at Kate, I notice that she’s not surveying the dress with quite the same enthusiasm as Luke or Grace.

“Kate?”

She glances up at me and gives me a subtly forced smile. “It’s a beautiful dress, Ana. You look like a princess.” Her words aren’t insincere, but they aren’t overly joyous or excited either, so I frown.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” She shakes her head, but I continue to stare her down until, eventually, she sighs. “It just doesn’t really look like you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s stunning, Ana. You are going to look phenomenal on your wedding day and Christian…” She hesitates again, pursing her lips together as though she’s trying to keep herself from saying something she’ll regret.

“And Christian?” I press her.

“You look gorgeous, Ana.”

And Christian?”

She sighs again. “The other dress is so much more modern and…” she bites her lip, clearly struggling for words. “When I first saw it, I imagined his jaw hitting the floor when he saw you appear at the end of the aisle. This dress is… pretty, but you are kind of lost in it.”

I stare at her for a long time and then, out of nowhere, suddenly burst into tears. The weight of the dress seems to pull on me and, as I dissolve into the torrent of emotion that’s been building inside of me since the moment Christian told me he’d changed our wedding plans, I crumple to the floor.

“Oh my god, Ana,” Kate says, rushing to my side. “I’m so sorry. It’s beautiful, it’s so beautiful, and you’re gorgeous. Christian is going to love it. Everyone is.”

“That’s true, Ana. You are going to be the most beautiful bride anyone has ever seen,” Grace adds and she falls to her knees next to me and pulls me into her arms.

“She’s right, though,” I sob. “This dress isn’t me. It isn’t Christian… at least I didn’t think it was. None of this feels right but he’s so insistent on making everything bigger and louder… do I not know him as well as I think I do?”

“Annie, he’s just excited,” Kate says, rubbing her hand over my back comfortingly. “He loves you and he wants to shout it from the rooftops. That’s all this is. And your wedding is going to be so beautiful. Hell, the entire city is treating it like a bigger deal than Will and Kate’s wedding. You’re like, Seattle’s very own princess. Your dress is fantastic.”

Her words don’t comfort me, in fact, they only make me sob harder, and Grace tightens her hold around me.

“It’s going to ruin everything. It’s too heavy. Christian and I have been taking ballroom lessons because I can’t dance to save my life and we’re going to be in front of hundreds of people… how am I supposed to do anything in this dress if I can’t move?”

“So we’ll get you a different dress for the reception. That’s not uncommon.”

“She has another dress…” Luke points out.

“No, like a dancing dress. Something that will look really great when you move.”

“I don’t have time to find and fit another dress, I’m getting married in two days, Kate.” Suddenly, my breath feels as though it freezes in my chest and I feel a wave of cold wash over me. “Two days. I’m getting married in two days…”

“Ana,” Grace says soothingly as my body begins to shake. “It’s okay, sweetie. Shhhh. You’re just feeling overwhelmed. This is just pre-wedding nerves, every girl gets them. You’re going to be okay.”

I shake my head. “I need out of this dress. Right now. Please, take it off.”

My hands reach desperately for the ties at the back of my dress and as Kate hurries to unfasten the bodice, the tears come more forcefully. When I’m finally free from the confines of the gown, her arms wrap around me again and she helps pull me to my feet.

“It’s okay, Ana. It’s going to be okay.”

“I’ll take care of the dress,” Grace says, looking worried. “Go get her back in her regular clothes and we’ll head home. We’ve got to be to the airport soon anyway.”

Kate nods and drags me into the changing rooms once again, and as I start to change out of the corset and petticoats and back into my jeans and loose fitting tank top, the tears stop and my body starts to relax.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper, wiping the moisture away from my eyes.

“What’s going on, Ana?”

“I just feel like I’m drowning. This wedding has taken on a life of it’s own. My book was released to the critics this week and Lydia has been calling me non-stop to talk about the feedback, but I haven’t had a chance to read any of it. I’m leaving on a book tour in five days and I don’t even know where I’m going because I haven’t had any time to look at the itinerary. Everything is moving so fast… I just need a second to breathe.”

“Why don’t you have a wedding planner helping you with all of this?”

“There wasn’t time for Taylor to vet another person. He’s already got his hands full with security for the actual wedding with the staff we’ve hired and the dozens of vendors that will be going in and out… not to mention this witch hunt he’s going on throughout GEH and Grey Construction.”

“What do you mean?”

“He traced payments from that offshore account to about a hundred different people but we have no idea if they’re all involved in this plot or if the person who’s behind this uses that account to pay anyone he contracts or does business with under the table. He started with Grey Construction, because Elliot’s CCTV footage proved that Gia didn’t leave that resignation note, and he found payments to people who are working on our new house. Taylor did a sweep of the whole property and found several issues with the security system they installed, spyware mostly, to collect the codes and so someone could have remote access to the cameras. They’ve been turned over to the… uh, they’ve been arrested,  but they’ve all given names we already know. Leila. Elena. Hyun. Clearly, they’ve rehearsed this.”

“Jesus…”

“There were like fifteen low level employees at GEH too, and some students at Harvard who I had classes with but never really talked to, but then there’s payments to dry cleaners, dog walkers, delivery services, repairmen, and a satellite company. Christian thinks that’s how he’s been keeping tabs on us, paying ordinary people to watch us and track our movements, but Taylor doesn’t think tracking each and every person on this list of people down and interrogating them is worth our resources. Especially if they’re being coached on what to say if they’re caught. We need some kind of real proof.”

“What about the people at GEH?”

“They’re being monitored, quietly. All of their communication coming in and going out is seen and read by Taylor or someone on his team first. I’m not really sure what they’re doing with it, or if any progress has been made because he and Christian are both being very tight lipped about their plans to handle this, but I think they’re trying to be less aggressive and more subtle in their approach since every time we think we’re getting close to someone who has real ties to him, they disappear, and it’s hard to get information out of someone who’s dead. It feels like we’re paddling upstream, you know. Fighting like crazy but not really getting anywhere.” I sigh. “The most important thing right now is to find out who he is, so Taylor is going to use the people we know he’s been in contact with and focus on doing that.”

“Well, as long as you’re safe, that’s all I care about. What are they doing to your house?”

“Complete overhaul. Everything has to be replaced. So, we’re not moving in as soon as we thought.”

“That’s sucks. I’m sorry…”

I nod, then tense as my phone rings in my purse, and when I reach inside and recognize the number as the bakery who we’ve hired to construct our massive, seven-tier wedding cake, my stress levels are instantly peaked again.

“Anastasia Steele,” I answer.

“Good Afternoon, Miss Steele. I’m calling from Sugar Cake Studio, and we’ve… had a miscommunication.”

“Miscommunication?”

“Yes, we’ve just finished the construction of your cake and the order form includes seven layers of madagascar vanilla cake, white chocolate raspberry filling, and buttercream frosting underneath white fondant, but the sugar english roses… our designer did them in gold.”

“Gold? No. Nothing in our wedding is gold. Just white and silver. They’re supposed to be silver.”

“I understand, Miss Steele, and you have my sincerest apologies, but with the number of roses it takes to finish your cake, there simply isn’t enough time to start over. They have to be hand crafted and set, painted…”

“I-I…” Instead of rushing through ideas of how to fix this, my mind goes completely blank and I feel as though I might be about to hyperventilate when Kate reaches out and takes the phone from me.

“What can we do to fix this?” she asks, and then pauses. “Do it then, whatever you can. Just make sure there is a cake there at one o’clock on Saturday. Great.” She hangs up and hands the phone back to me, and while I glance questioningly between her and my phone, she sighs.

“It’s cake, Ana. We’re two days away from the wedding, if something is goes wrong, it’s going to go wrong, and there’s no point in stressing about it. Just remember that by Saturday night, you’re going to be Mrs. Christian Grey. In the end, that’s all that matters, right?”

“Right. Thank you, Kate.” I take a deep breath, exhaling slowly, and as my body relaxes and catches up to my mind, she wraps an arm around me and squeezes me tightly into her side.

“You really need to unwind, babe. Luckily for you, I’ve got you covered.” She flashes a dazzling smile at me. “Let’s go.”

 

There’s a hoard of photographers outside, waiting for the first picture of the dress, so Grace takes the two, oversized, beige garment bags in her hands and uses them to shield herself while she and two salesgirls fight their way to the SUV parked on the curb. The diversion works fairly well for the most part, I’m at least able to get out of the store without being immediately surrounded. Once the photographers realize that I’m not the one climbing into the SUV though, they quickly turn around and Luke has to wrap himself around me and practically drag me to Kate’s car a few spaces back to get me there safely.

Inside her brand new, cherry red BMW, the crowd swarms us and I make a very purposeful gesture to shield my eyes with my left hand so they get plenty of pictures of my engagement ring. Last week, I dropped it off to get it cleaned and have the stone checked before I went to a dress fitting with Kate and Ros. When we left the dress shop, some photographer got a photo of me without my ring and the next day, three different local tabloids ran stories about how the wedding was off, and Christian went off the rails. Jacqueline, his PR manager, spent the entire day on the phone trying to force them to run a redaction, but to no avail. So, hopefully, when these photos get splashed all over some awful rag, at least some of those rumors will get cleared up.

“Head straight for Escala,” Luke tells Kate, sticking his head all the way in the car to prevent the photographers from hearing him. “We’ll be right behind you. No stops.”

“You got it, boss.” She whips out a pair of dark, oversized sunglasses to protect her vision from the flashing lights of the cameras and then slowly pulls away from the curb in the wake of people that Luke is able to make. Once she’s clear, she hits the gas and we speed off as best we can through downtown until we pull into the garage under Escala.

I notice, as we get out of the car and she pulls a suitcase far too large for one night out of her trunk, that my dad, Elliot, and Carrick are already here, which means that once Luke pulls into his own place with Grace, everyone is accounted for and we should be able to leave as soon as we get upstairs.

“Oh, I’m starting to get butterflies,” Grace says as the elevator hums to life and begins climbing the 31 floors to the penthouse. “I’m just so excited this day is finally here.” She wraps her arms around me from behind and kisses me on top of my head.

“Me too,” I tell her, although my butterflies feel more like bats.

When the doors open, we find Andrea pacing around the foyer on her cellphone, coordinating tuxedo delivery for tomorrow, but when she sees us step out of the elevator with the dress bags, she immediately dismisses whoever she’s on the phone with and tells them she’ll call them back.

“Wait, wait, wait! Is that the dress?”

“Yes,” I tell her.

“Okay…” She picks up a clipboard off the table in the center of the room and scans through the page attached. “It needs to go into the second guest room, and the spare needs to go in the first, so they don’t get confused. De Beers delivered your jewelry this afternoon, so it’s already up there, did you stop by Manolo Blahnik and get your shoes?”

“Oh, fuck,” I groan. “No, I completely forgot. Shit, what time is it?” I look down at my phone for the time, trying to figure out how I’m going to get downtown and back before we’re supposed to leave, but Andrea quickly reaches out and places a soothing hand on my forearm.

“Don’t worry about it, Ana. I’ll take care of it. Now that you’re home, your wedding weekend has officially commenced. You don’t worry about anything else, I’ll take it from here.”

“Thank you, Andrea,” I sigh with relief.

“Don’t mention it, Miss Steele. Or should I say, Mrs. Grey?” She winks and then moves past me to help Luke carry the heavy dress bags upstairs, while I move into the apartment to find my groom. At first, the only people I see are Carrick, Elliot, and my Dad, who are gathered by the window in eager conversation, but eventually my eyes fall on Christian, who is in the living room, hovering over Calliope in a plank position, doing push ups and kissing each of her cheeks as he falls down over the top of her.

“Must be nice to have so much energy to burn,” I say teasingly as I saunter towards them, and when he looks up, he beams.

“I’m getting married in two days, gotta look my best.”

Instantly, the image of the scale from this morning, displaying the last three pounds I just can’t seem to shed, comes to mind and I frown, which makes his smile falter for a second before he gets off the ground and comes at me with his hands reached out for my face. Once my cheeks are cupped in his palms, he kisses me fiercely.

“You are the most beautiful woman in the world,” he assures me. “Make no mistake, I’m the one really making out here. I know what a lucky son of a bitch I am to be giving you my name on Saturday.”

I bite down on my lower lip to pull back the ridiculous smile that wants to come out at his sweet words and then lean forward and peck him gently on the lips again. He hums and tries to deepen the kiss once more, but I quickly pull away.

“Behave,” I chastise him, and then move around him to Calliope still laid out over the blanket behind him. “Hi, sweetheart.”

I groan as I reach beneath the blankets and scoop her into my arms. Her eyes widen when I pull  her close to me, and when she reaches her tiny little hand from the bundle of blankets to grip my face with her little fingers, I feel myself melt.

“I missed you all day,” I coo at her, and then lean down and blow raspberries against her neck before kissing her all over her face. When I pull away, her face is lights up. “Awh… Are you sure we can’t take her with us?”

“The Vegas strip is no place for an infant,” Christian says.

“It’s been pretty good to us,” I argue, but he narrows his eyes in response.

“The things that have happened between you and I in Las Vegas are never going to happen to her. Over my dead body.”

“Well, Christian,” Kate interrupts. “If you don’t learn to relax a little bit, that’s gonna be in about five years. So, wha’d’you say we get out of here and let loose a little, huh?”

“Whenever you’re ready, Kate,” he placates her. She smiles and turns back to the room.

“Alright, everyone. Let’s roll out.”

“Vegas!” Elliot yells. Christian’s mom lets out an awkward whoop and punches her fist into the air, and as everyone else in the room devolves into laughter, I look back down at the baby in my arms and frown.

“She’s not going to think we’re abandoning her, right?”

“She’s just a baby, sweetheart, and you’re only going to be gone one night,” my dad says. “She and I are going to be just fine.”

I nod but hesitate before I pass her off to him. “Ava will be here, and so will Mrs. Jones, if you need any help. And Ryan is here for security. And you can call me if anything happens. Anything. Christian and I will get on a plane and…”

“Your lack of confidence in my parenting skills is astounding sometimes,” he says dryly, and while I try to brush his sarcasm off with a laugh, it comes out as more of a nervous whimper and I hug Calliope close to my chest again.

“Be good for Grandpa,” I whisper as I hug her. “Mommy will miss you. So, so much.”

“Ana…” Christian presses me, and slowly I shift her from my arms to my father’s. Christian steps forward and kisses Calliope softly on the head, and then reaches forward to grip my father’s arm.

“You’re sure you won’t join us?” he asks. “We have plenty of people to hold the fort down here and look after Calli, you’re more than welcome to come along.”

“Surprising, I don’t think my future son-in-law’s bachelor party is really the place for me.”

“It might help to have you along,” I joke. “God only knows what Elliot has planned.”

“Oh, you know what I have planned,” Elliot laughs from the archway that leads to the foyer. “If you think long and hard enough about it, I bet you can imagine everything I have planned.”

I grimace, and my father raises an eyebrow at me. “See? You kids have fun. Calli and I will be here when you get home.”

“I love you, Daddy.” I kiss him on the cheek and give Calliope one last guilty look before Christian hooks his hand through my elbow and pulls me gently towards the elevators where everyone else is waiting.

 

The long, stretch limo downstairs that is waiting to take us to the airport is once again surrounded by reporters, so our family makes a kind of human shield around Christian and I while Luke and Taylor hold up jackets to block our faces from the flashes. Once we’re inside though, we relax behind the darkly tinted windows, which adequately black out the photographers we know are still trying to get a photo, and join in the increasingly celebratory mood with the rest of our family. Even Christian doesn’t seem annoyed by the loud music or Kate’s obnoxious selfie taking. In fact, he and Elliot look more like best friends than I’ve ever seen them before as they joke around with each other the entire way to the airport.

When we pull onto the tarmac at SeaTac, the doors to the plane are already open, and we find that it’s because  Ros, Gwen, Mia, one of the two security guards Christian hired for his family, and a young girl I don’t know, are already aboard.

“Christian!” Ros cries as he comes around the front bulkhead and moves down the center of the plane. She leaps out of her seat and wraps her arms around the back of his head. “I can’t believe this day is finally here. I’m so happy for you! And Ana!” She moves to hug me in the same overzealous fashion. “I don’t know why, but it feels like we’re about to be family and I’m so excited about it.” She pauses, and then laughs. “We’re going to be like sister wives.”

“No, you’re not,” Christian says flatly. He looks irritated as he pushes me past her and into the pair of seats across the aisle, but before he sits down, he reaches over to knock the back of his hand against his sister’s knee. She’s huddled together in a pair of seats a row back and across from us, giggling with the girl I don’t know, so when she turns to look at Christian, she seems almost annoyed.

“What?”

“What?” Christian repeats. “How about, hi?”

“Hi.” She tries to turn back around to her friend, but Christian doesn’t let her.

“Where have you been? I’ve called you probably ten times and you’ve never answered or called me back. What are you, avoiding me?”

“No.” She’s defensive now. “I’m just busy. Summer recital is coming up and I’m a lead this year. I’ve been at rehearsal every day.”

“Well, Ana’s leaving next week on her book tour so I’ve got some free time. I’d like to take you to lunch or dinner, maybe have you come stay at Escala one night.”

“Can’t. I have several lifts in this show, so I’m eating very clean and low calorie. That doesn’t bode well for eating out.”

He narrows his eyes. “We live in Seattle, there’s plenty of restaurants that cater to clean eating. Or, Gail can cook for us.”

“That’s okay. Thanks, though.”

“Mia.” He sounds almost wounded. “You’re my sister, and I miss you. I want to spend some time with you. Besides, I thought you wanted to talk to me?”

She quickly shakes her head. “No. Nothing. I just… I just wanted to tell you to be careful. You know, with everything going on.” Her eyes shift up for a half second to the rest of our family filling in the seats at the front of the plane and then back to her friend. Her friend though doesn’t seem to be paying attention to her anymore. Instead, her gaze is fixed on her brother.

“Hi, Christian,” she says, waving her fingers at him in a very shy manner.

“Hello, Tabitha,” Christian replies. The girl starts to giggle and turns back to whisper to Mia and after a few seconds, Mia pulls away, rolls her eyes, and shakes her head.

“You’re so stupid, Tibby. He’s getting married.”

Christian lets out a sigh as he slumps down into the seat next to me, and I give him a teasing smile.

“So, you and Tibby, huh?”

His eyes narrow. “No.”

“She’s a little young for you,” I continue, ignoring his dismissive tone. “But she’s cute in an underage child kind of way…”

“Ana…”

“Do I have to go beat her up?”

Finally, he cracks a smile. “Stop.”

I giggle and pull up the armrest between us so I can cuddle against him until we take off and I have to put a seatbelt on. Natalia comes up the aisles while the pilot does the final pre-flight checks and passes out glasses of champagne, which both Mia and Tabitha very unsubtly sneak off her tray, but before we take our first sip, Carrick stands at the front of the plane and gives a toast.

“To my son, Christian, and his beautiful bride, Anastasia. We all love you, so much, and we’re so proud to be here to support you on this joyous day. I wish you both nothing but happiness and a lifetime worth of love. To Christian and Ana.”

“Christian and Ana!”

Christian leans over and places a gentle kiss against my lips before we raise our glasses and toast with the rest of our family, but as the plane begins taxing over the airfield, Kate and Elliot start digging through their bags to pass out the very first of their party favors. My guests receive bright pink lei’s that have tiny plastic penises between each flower, while Elliot’s all get a bottle of craft beer.

My first impression, Elliot- 1 Kate- 0.

“You’re not putting a penis on me,” I say firmly as Kate approaches Christian and I.

“Funny…” she muses. “That doesn’t sound like you.”

Christian glares at her as she laughs but instead of pulling out a Lei, she slips a glittery, pink pageant sash over my head that has the words “Future Mrs. Grey” screen printed across the front. Once I slide it in place, she puts a tiara in my hair and then leans over to kiss me on the forehead.

“Get ready for the ride of your life, Anastasia.” With a wink, she turns back for the front of the plane, and Christian raises an eyebrow at me.

“The ride of your life, huh? Clearly she doesn’t get what goes on behind closed doors.” I giggle under his hungry gaze and then take a sip of champagne, letting the upbeat mood of everyone around us and the warmth of Christian’s arm holding me tightly against him wash away all of my anxiety and uncertainty over the impending circus of a wedding taking place on Saturday as we gently rise into the sky.

 

It’s fairly late in the afternoon when we finally touch down in Vegas, and waiting for us on the tarmac are two separate stretch limousines. The driver with the sign that says “Grey” stands before a classic sleek, black limo, much like the one we took from Escala to the airport, while the driver holding the “Steele” sign, opens the door to a stretch, pink Escalade.

“Oh my god, Kate!” Mia shrieks excitedly. She hooks her arms through Tibby’s and streaks for the Escalade, and after Grace and Gwen have hugged and kissed their partners good-bye, they follow after the girls with Luke, Kommer, and Harrison.

“Where are you staying?” Kate checks with Elliot.

“The Venetian. You?”

“Aria. And you get 1Oak, we get Hyde.”

“That was the deal,” Elliot agrees. Kate nods and turns away from him, but he reaches out, grabs her arm, and pulls her back to him. “Hey… have fun tonight, okay?”

“Oh… yeah, you too.”

His tongue brushes swiftly over his bottom lip, but after a heated moment of pause between them, he eventually takes a deep breath, releases her arm, and nods. “Make sure my sister-in-law gets home safe, okay?”

“I will.” Kate leans up on her toes and kisses him on the cheek before she turns for the Escalade, and Elliot watches her forlornly as she disappears inside, before finally nodding to Christian and following Carrick, Taylor, Ros, and his own CPO into the other car.

Christian sighs. “Don’t drink too much, okay?”

“I won’t,” I promise, and then I give him a worried look before I lean in and very purposefully kiss him. “This is mine,” I whisper against his lips, kissing him again. “And this is mine.” My hand curls around his groin. “Anything else… I don’t want to hear about.”

“You have nothing to worry about, baby. I love you very much.”

“I love you too. Have fun.”

He kisses me one last time, but as the jeering and cat calls start pouring out of our respective rides, we finally part and go our separate ways.

The flow of alcohol begins in the limo and continues the moment we arrive at our resort. We’re greeted in the main lobby with another tray of champagne and then escorted up to the executive penthouse suite, where all the bars have been unlocked and an array of cocktail mixers have been laid over the table.

“James,” Grace says nervously to the bodyguard that came along with Mia to the airport. “You’ll keep an eye on all of this tonight… with the girls?” She waves her arms at all the alcohol, and her CPO nods.

“Of course, Ma’am.”

“We’re not even going to be here, Mom,” Mia says. “After dinner, Tibby and I are going shopping in the Forum Shops and then coming back here and hanging out at the pool.”

“Alright, dear.” She leans down and kisses the top of Mia’s hair just as Kate calls everyone’s attention by clanging a fork against a bottle of Grey Goose.

“Ladies, make yourselves a cocktail and then go get ready for an amazing night out. Dinner at Ra in an hour!” She squeals with excitement and then pulls my arm to lead me into the largest bedroom in the suite.

The proficiency in which Kate gets the both of us ready is almost terrifying, especially when she shoves me into the cavernous shower in the bathroom and then immediately climbs in after me. Her hands fly like lightning as she adds product to my hair and face over the bathroom sink and I’m amazed at how she does one thing to me, then something completely different to herself, without ever missing a beat.

“Aaaaaaand, done,” she says with pride, and then smiles. “You look hot, Ana.”

She’s right. As I glance around her to the mirror, I’m almost taken aback. The contour she applied is flawless and my hair is perfectly silky, straight, and so shiny it looks like I just walked off the set of a Pantene commercial. Though the rose gold, sequined dress she slips me into has ¾ sleeves and a high neckline, it’s probably tighter and shorter than I think Christian would be comfortable with, but it actually looks really great on me. It’s exactly the confidence boost I need, not only for tonight, but for this entire weekend, so, as I hop off the stool in front of the mirror, I grin at her, finally ready for my last fling before the ring.

Surprisingly, Grace is the one who takes the longest to get ready, so Kate, Gwen, and I wait around the counter with Mia and Tabitha, working our way through our third cocktail. I can already feel my head begin to swim and we haven’t even left the hotel room yet, but as I reach for one of the water bottles on the counter to try and slow down the effect of the alcohol, I’m distracted by Kate and Ros suddenly whooping. When I turn to look, I see Grace coming out of her bedroom and my mouth nearly drops to the floor. She looks phenomenal.

“Damn, Mom!” Mia exclaims.

“Don’t say damn, dear… but thank you.” She twirls to show off her sparkling black cocktail dress, her face lit up with bashful, but very pleased, embarrassment.

“You don’t think it’s too much?”

“Definitely not. You’ve still got it, Mama Grey,” I tell her.  

She winks. “That’s right. You girls may have nabbed my boys, but let’s not forget who landed the original Grey.”

We all laugh as she pops her hip out and then gather our things before heading downstairs where the Escalade is still waiting to take us to dinner.

It’s almost a little isolating in the car, because the way we’re seated leaves Kate and I kind of on our own, like an island, while Gwen, Mia, Tabitha, and Grace can all talk with each other. It’s nice though, because it gives me a moment alone with my best friend that I might not get again before the wedding.

“Are you ready?” she asks.

“Yeah,” I reply, but like she always does, she picks up on the hesitation in my voice.

“Uh oh. You’re not… changing your mind?”

“No, it’s not that. I want to be Christian’s wife more than anything, that’s the thing I keep clinging to… But the wedding, it’s kind of ridiculous. I don’t know why Christian wants all of the… noise.

“You know… I’ve said to Elliot over and over again that this big white wedding you’re having doesn’t feel like you and Christian. He’s normally so private…”

“Right? I don’t understand any of this, unless… I know he still has nightmares about me leaving him again and he has triggers for things that remind him of when we weren’t together, so part me wonders if he’s doing this huge ceremony to feel more secure. He wants me to make a statement about my commitment to him, a big one, that I can’t back out of because I made that statement to the entire world.”

“But you won’t…”

“I know.” I take a deep breath and sigh. “Or maybe he’s making the statement. He’s finally tied me down and he wants the world to know I’m his. Like property. This whole thing kind of feels like a big cattle auction, and I’m up for bid.”

She bites her lip. “I don’t know… it’s weird, I’ll give you that, but Christian loves you, Ana. He probably just wants to celebrate that in a big, big way.”

“That’s what he says. And, I don’t know… maybe.” I feel the stress and anxiety I felt in the bridal shop begin to creep back over me, so I quickly shake my head and try to change the subject.

“I don’t want to talk about the wedding right now, or tonight. Tell me about you. What’s going on with you and Elliot?”

She frowns. “Nothing. Nothing is going on.”

“Why? I thought you two were making progress? He’s all over you…”

“I know, and I thought so too. He even took me to dinner a few days ago and told me he’s still in love with me. He wants to get back together.”

“Well, then… Great!”

She shakes her head. “Nothing’s changed though. He still doesn’t want marriage, he still doesn’t want kids. He’s willing to promise me forever, but it’s just a promise between him and I. I was hoping seeing how happy Christian is with the wedding coming up and with Calliope, that he would change his mind, but no. It’s just not the future he wants.”

“That’s–” I stop, not really sure what to say to her, and then sigh in defeat. “I’m so sorry, Katie.”

She pulls her bottom lip into her mouth, sucking on it for a moment, and as I watch her, I notice her eyes glassing over with the tears she’s trying to hold back.

“I don’t know what to do. I want him, Ana. It’s so hard being around him and not being able to touch him the way I want to, or kiss him, or take him home with me and just… rip into him. Being around him all the time… I’m craving physical intimacy. And I love him. I really, really love him, and I don’t want to be with anyone else. Ever. And I don’t want him to be with anyone else. When I think about him and Gia, his hands on her body, his mouth…” She pauses, hanging her head. I reach over to pull her into me so I can wrap my arms around her, but she pulls away and gives me an almost pleading look. “I think I just have to give up on trying to change him, or change his mind, accept what is, and let myself be happy. Even if it means giving up marriage or ever having a child.”

I feel that like a punch to the heart. Calliope is only eleven weeks old, but I’ve already completely forgotten what life was like without her. She’s changed me and shown me the true extend of my ability to love another human being. Even thinking about her now makes me ache to have her in my arms… The idea that Kate may never have that for herself feels devastating.

“Is that really what will make you happy?” I ask.

She shrugs. “What would you have done? If Christian told you that he wouldn’t marry you and he wouldn’t give you children, would you have walked away?”

No.

Not for anything.

Thankfully, Christian was not only willing to give me those things, but he wanted them too. And as I look at the pain in Kate’s eyes, I once again feel a wave of guilt over my reservations about the wedding Christian wants. Kate might never have any of this, and here I am worrying over the details of one day out of the rest of forever.

“I’m going to tell him when we get back,” she says, reading my answer in my silence. “If he’s really committed to me, if he’s really in this forever, I don’t need a ring and I don’t need wedding. All I need is him.”

I nod, and then lean over to kiss her on top of her head. She takes a deep breath to gather herself again, and as the limo comes to a stop, she turns and smiles at me. “Enough with the heavy. Let’s go celebrate you.”

 

The restaurant, Ra, ends up being a sushi place, which serves some of the best salmon rolls I’ve ever had. We talk and laugh with each other until Kate has everyone around the table tell their favorite story about Christian and I. Gwen’s is a little embarrassing, as I’ve only really hung out with her a few times and thus her story centers around the time she and I halfway talked about the size of Christian’s penis. Mia’s involves me falling down a mountain on skis and Christian nearly beating the shit out of Elliot, and Kate simply talks about all the times we would have dinner together in Cambridge, both from our freshman year and my senior year, and she would just stop and watch the way Christian looked at me.

“It’s an incredible thing,” she says. “Being able to see the way you love each other. It fills my heart with so much joy to know that my best friend has found her soulmate.”

“Katie…” Tears well in my eyes as I lean over to wrap her in a tight hug and as she whispers how much she loves me into my ear, we both break down into full on tears.

“Alright,” Luke says from the seat on my other side. “I think we can slow down on the alcohol a little…” He reaches over to take the cocktail in front of me, but I turn and glare at him.

“I’m getting married, I’m allowed to be emotional. You should prepare yourself, I’m going to be crying a lot over the next few days.”

“But not tonight,” Kate sniffs. “Tonight is about celebrating.” She wipes the moisture away from her eyes and reaches into the bag she’s brought along with her. “Okay, we’re going to start our night with a little scavenger hunt, and once you’ve done everything on the list, we’ll end up at a nightclub where we can dance the rest of the night away.”

“Oooh, a scavenger hunt?” Grace asks. “Fun.”

“It’s a little naughty,” Kate says, and then turns to look at Mia and Tabitha. “You two, make yourselves scarce.”

“Fine,” Mia sighs. She gets out of her chair and comes around the table to hug me. “Have fun, Ana. I can’t believe that you’re going to be my real life sister in only two days. I’m so excited.”

“I love you, Meems.”

“You too.” I kiss her on the cheek as she pulls away, and after waving good-bye to her mom, she, Tibby, and her CPO leave the restaurant to have their own fun for the night.

“Alright,” Kate says, bringing the attention back to her. “Now, Ana. I need you to promise me that you’re going to do everything on this list, exactly as you’re instructed. No chickening out, you promise?”

I give her a suspicious look. “I don’t know, Kate….”

“Oh come one, Ana,” Gwen presses me. “Live the night to the fullest!”

“I promise I won’t make you like… cheat on Christian. Well, not a lot anyway.”

“Kate!”

“Kidding! This is just meant to loosen you up and make tonight a truly memorable experience. Nothing too crazy.”

I sigh. “Alright… if it’s not too crazy.”

“Great! Then let’s get started.” She looks down at the list in her hand and smiles at me. “Ladies, who wants to go see some hot, half naked Australian boys?”

Gwen rolls her eyes, but Kate and Grace’s excitement is enough to negate her lack of interest in male genitalia, and we all return to the Escalade in a fit of giggles. I actually wondered, when Elliot finally talked Christian into letting him throw a Vegas bachelor party, if Thunder From Down Under would be a part of what Kate had planned, but when we step into the limo and I see three extraordinarily well built men sitting on the pink upholstery waiting for us, I very quickly realize we’re not going to a show.

“Kate!”

She grins, reaches into her purse, and pulls out an enormous stack of ones. “Have a seat, Annie!”

I think my face must be beat red as she forces me down into a seat, and once a very uncomfortable Luke, Harrison, and Kommer have taken their seats and closed the door behind them, music fills the car and the men get up and start dancing.

It doesn’t take long before they’re stripped down to essentially nothing, and all of the something that’s covered by nothing, is right in my face. I let out an embarrassed squeal as two of them tie my wrists down with silk scarves, and as the third one climbs over my lap and begins grinding all over me, he looks down and flashes me a white, toothy smile.

“Is that alright, baby?”

“Uh…”

“She’s fine,” Kate laughs. “She’s used to being tied down.”

“Oh dear lord,” Grace says, and as I look over, she buries her face in her hands.

“Just relax, sweetheart,” he says. “We’re here to make you feel reeeeeeeeeeeeeal good.”

I bite down on my lip as the hip thrusting and gyrating intensifies with the music, but as the two other dancers move on to Kate and Grace, I feel a little less embarrassed. In fact, by the time we reach our second destination and my extraordinarily erotic lapdance comes to an end, the inside of my thighs are heated and aching for the attention of a certain handsome billionaire, who I know is in this city, but is also out of reach.

“That was task number one?” I ask Kate pointedly, as we get out of the limo.

She smiles. “Yep. And now for task number two. I think it’s time you start collecting things? Don’t you?”

She gives me a pointed look as she hooks her arm through mine and leads me into a building littered with stands selling alcohol on either side and tiny shops that sell clothes I don’t think I’d ever dream of wriggling into… well, unless it was for Christian’s eyes only. She leads me down the open breezeway, buying me shots or drinks at every stand we pass, until we end up in a bar that isn’t quite a club, but is filled with loud music and tons of people dancing.

It’s here where we work our way through most of the list, which  entails me getting a condom from a stranger, taking a blow job shot out of some guy I’ve never met’s lap, finding a man named Christian and convincing him to give me his phone number, and getting as many free drinks out of interested men as possible. Unfortunately for my sobriety, that isn’t a hard task to accomplish in this dress.

It’s nearly 11 by the time we stumble back to the Escalade, and Luke is already practically holding me up.

“Alright, I think it’s time to head back to the room,” he says, but Kate drunkenly shakes her head.

“No, we’ve got one more thing to do and then we’re going to the club.”

“Kate…” he tries to protest, but she leans over and places a finger over his lips.

“Shhhhhh. She’s okay. Here, Ana. Drink some water.” I take the water bottle from her and then take a deep breath before I slam half of it down. It does seem to help as I come a little bit more alert, but that may also just be from the cold, not the water itself.

“Luke,” I groan, allowing my body to fall sideways so I’m leaning against his shoulder. “You’re really one of my best friends, do you know that? Sometimes I hate that you work for Christian because I don’t want you to think you’re less important to me than anyone else in this car. I really love you. Like, a lot.”

He laughs. “You are so drunk.”

“I’m fiiiiiiiiine.”

“Mhmmm… then I’m going to need you to say right now, in front of everyone, that I’m actually your best friend. Me first, Kate second. And it will forever remain law in the eyes of this family.” He gives me a teasing smirk that make me laugh, and I lean up and kiss the tip of his nose, before melting back into his side.

“Everyone is equal in the eyes of the Lord.”

He bursts out laughing as we come to a stop and then slips another water bottle into the pocket of his jacket. “Don’t wander away from me,” he says firmly, before allowing me to file out behind Kate. “If I can’t touch you, you’re too far.”

“Yes, sir,” I slur.

The last stop ends up being Caesar’s Palace, and Kate leads us all to a side courtyard with all the stealth of a spy, but while she probably assumes she’s being as smooth as 007, a more apt descriptor would probably be the Pink Panther. Or Mr. Bean.

“Okay, okay, okay,” she whispers trying to get everyone to calm down. “Ana, you’re last objective, is to take off your panties, and leave them on this statue.”

“Kate!” I exclaim. “That’s vandalism.”

“No, it’s not. Not the bad kind anyway.”

“But, these a La Perla.”

“Oh, shut up, Ana,” Gwen interjects with a giggle. “You’re going to be a billionaire in two days. You can afford to lose a pair of panties.”

“We’re going to get arrested.”

“Not if you hurry up so we can get out of here. Come on!”

“But… but…” I stand there sputtering, but under the insistent gazes of the rest of my party, even Grace who has taken to tonight like a schoolgirl on her very first night out with the girls, I eventually sigh and reach beneath my dress.

“Hurry!” Kate says, standing in front of me so no one else will see what I’m doing. I ease the lace band past my behind and then shimmy them down my legs by shaking my hips. Once they’ve pooled on the ground at my feet, I scoop them up and very quickly slide them over the tiny feet of the cupid swimming around the woman carved from stone, towering over us.

“There!” I say once I’ve pulled them up as far as they can go.

“Awesome, now let’s get out of here,” Kate squeaks, and she grabs my arm and pulls me from the courtyard as quickly as she can.

We intended to end the night at the Bellagio, but the grounds of Caesar’s Palace are so vast, that we decide it’s easier to get into Omnia here, than the club at the resort one over. Thankfully, the bouncers at the door are more than willing to let us pass the line, especially with the hundred dollar tip I fish out of my bag, and after handing my black card to the hostess, we’re led to one of the clubs most exclusive tables and brought bottle service of Skyy Vodka and Patron.

The music is loud and the ocean of people on the dance floor in front of us is obscured by confetti and glitter floating in the air and the blinding, colored strobe lights that stream through every angle of the club. Kate lays out a line of shot glasses for everyone, but as I watch her pour the clear liquid into my glass, I grip onto Luke’s sleeve and pull him close so I can shout into his ear.

“I need to pee!”

He nods, takes my hand and pulls me from the plush couches to guide me to the bathroom. It’s an interesting journey to say the least. We pass a couple pushed up against the wall and the guy’s head is beneath the girl’s dress as he squats to go down on her. I’m also pretty sure I see someone take a line of coke off the sink in the bathroom. But none of that is as shocking as coming out of the stall and finding Mia and Tabitha, reapplying lip gloss in the bathroom mirror.

“Amelia!” I exclaim. “What the fuck are you doing here?”

“Ana!” The tube she holds in her hand drops into the sink as she turns around to face me, shock clear on her face. “Wha–what are you doing here? I thought you were going to Hyde.”

“We changed our minds.” I watch as she stumbles backwards in her heels and then frown. “Are you drunk?”

“No,” she says quickly, but Tabitha giggles.

“Yeah.”

“How did you even get in here?”

“A Grey credit card and a pair of fake IDs.”

Mia turns to glare at Tabitha. “Will you shut up!”

“Why? She’s not your mom.”

“No, worse. She’ll tell Christian. My mom will ground me, Christian will lock me up in a tower forever and never let me out. Or worse, he’ll take away the money he promised me for Juilliard.”

“He will not,” I tell her. “But make no mistake, you are in so much trouble. Where is your CPO?”

“We… kind of ditched him in the Forum Shops…”

“Amelia…” My voice is tight as I hold back all the things I want to scream at her, remind her of the unresolved threat still looming over us and how, as one of the most important people in Christian’s life, she’s a target, and something horrible could have happened to her. Unfortunately, I’m a little too drunk for that point to come across correctly and I don’t think the bathroom of a nightclub in Las Vegas, with at least a dozen interested onlookers watching us, is the place to have that discussion. So instead, I grab her by the arm and drag her back out to the hall with me, where Luke is waiting.

“What the…” Luke begins, but I cut him off.

“James whatever his name is, he’s fired.” Mia protests as I push her forward, back to the table where Kate, Grace, Gwen, and the rest of my security team are still waiting. When I pull her down on the seat next to Kate, Grace’s eyes widen to the size of dinner plates.

“What in the world…”

“They didn’t know we’d be here. They used to fake IDs to get in.” I reach down and pick up the last shot in the line and quickly slug it down. Grace’s face turns red with anger and she immediately yanks Mia to the side to scream at her the way I wanted to in the bathroom, but Kate quickly diverts my attention, refusing to let the weight of what could have happened and the reality of what did, affect the night.

Harrison ends up escorting both Mia and Tabitha back to the room, where he will stay with them for the rest of the night, and once Luke gets the text that they’re back and safe for the night, I feel much better and am able to engage with Kate again the way she wants me to. We dance with Gwen to the booming beat, until the electric synths buzz through the club and Britney’s new song begins thumping from the speakers next to the DJ.

“Let me guess,” Luke shouts. “You love this song?”

“I do!” Kate screams, and she quickly pulls Gwen and I up onto the table. Our bodies sway together in rhythm with the uptempo beat, and as I finally lose the fight and succumb to the overpowering alcohol coursing through my system, I feel a sense of freedom and euphoria as the music pulses through my body. Everything feels so good right now, unburdened by worry about the wedding. I can feel the music in my body, moving me, and it makes me feel kind of graceful, the way only Christian usually can. A moan escapes my lips as I once again think his name, and while I grind against Kate, I feel the need for him that had been awakened earlier in the limo rear it’s head once more. That is, until the song starts to die down and I feel a hand wrap around my wrist, pulling me off the table and onto the sofa again. When I look up to see who grabbed me, I see an angry pair of gray eyes piercing into mine.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Christian yells at me, and while the extent of his anger is slightly disconcerting, I understand it when I smell the alcohol wash over my face with his breath.

“Christian? I thought you were going to 1Oak?”

“Is that why you’re half-naked, standing on a table and shaking your ass for the entire damn world to see?”

I laugh and pull him down on the sofa next to me by his shirt, then immediately move on top of him so that I’m straddling his lap.

“I thought you liked my ass?”

“I do. And so does every horny son-of-a-bitch within a hundred foot radius of you.”

“Mmm,” I hum, and then lean down and kiss him deeply, forcing my tongue in his mouth as I grind over his lap.

“Ana…”

“You want to own me, Christian? You want to put on this big show to stake your claim to the world and keep every other man from looking at me? Do it. Own me.” I kiss him again, but he eases me back.

“What are you talking about?”

“You know that I’m never going to leave you, right? You know that I love you, only you, and nothing is ever going to change that? You don’t need to the media and whole big circus, I’m already yours. But if you want to own me… own me. I want you to. Right now.” I lean down and brush my lips against his ear. “Master.

He groans and as I begin sucking his earlobe, his hands move down to my ass over my dress, but when the fabric ends and his fingers find their way between my legs, he immediately tenses.

“What the— where are your panties, Anastasia?”

I giggle. “On a baby.”

“What?!”

I grip either side of his face and kiss him again, and this time he kisses me back. Or rather, he overtakes me, dominates me with just his tongue and his lips, and it sets my libido on fire.

“I want you to fuck me, Christian.” I whisper.

He bites my bottom lip and tugs. “You’re in so much trouble, I’m not sure you really want that right now.”

I smile. “Do your worst.”

His eyes turn dark as I lean backwards, and he quickly shifts me off his lap. After helping me to my feet, he leans in to speak to Taylor and then drags me from the booth. I hear Kate calling after me, but I can’t respond. Christian is already pulling me through the tightly packed crowd, and he doesn’t stop once until we’re through the main doors, where he asks the doorman to call his car.

“The Venetian,” Christian barks at the driver, and after Taylor climbs into the front seat and closes the door behind him, we pull through the messy flow of cabs and limousines and Christian’s fingers start drumming impatiently on the leather upholstery. We’re alone, and the security partition between us and the driver is up, so I half expect him to take this opportunity to ravish me. In fact, I’m kind of hoping for it, but he doesn’t. He simply stares stoically out the side window at the break lights all around us, and continues to tap his irritation into the seat next to him with the tips of his fingers.

It takes forever to get down the long driveway from the front doors of Caesars Palace to Las Vegas Blvd, and even longer to turn into the overcrowded traffic, halted by pedestrians stumbling drunkenly through the crosswalks and across the middle of the road. I think it would have probably been much shorter to simply walk across the skybridge towards the Venetian, but the security risk of walking through this many people with only Taylor with us is too great, so… we sit and wait in the gridlock. The entire way back, Christian never speaks to me. He hardly even looks at me and I can’t tell if his silence is real anger left over from finding me in the position he did at Omnia or simply impatience. I wouldn’t blame him for the latter, my own thighs are clenched tightly together as I sit and stew in my anticipation, but the more I think about the former, the more I worry. I did tell him to do his worst…

I swallow my nerves as we finally pull up in front of the Venetian and Taylor helps me out of the back of the limousine. He doesn’t have hold of me long though as Christian quickly appears around the back of the car, takes my hand, and begins dragging me into the resort. We snake across the casino floor towards the elevators, which are mercifully empty, but the anxious grin that begins to creep into the corner of my lips at the thought of an empty elevator is immediately washed away when Taylor steps through the doors behind us. Again, it’s silent as we ride up to the penthouse and it has my nerves peaked again. When Taylor steps to the side and allows us to enter the room, finally alone, I’m almost to the point where I’m not sure I want to be.

I muse to myself what Christian’s worst could possibly look like, but when I hear the final and nearly deafening sound of the door clicking closed behind us, all thought falls out of my head and I glance up into his cold, gray eyes nervously.

“Eyes down,” he commands. I comply immediately. “You want this?”

I bite down on my lip, reminding myself that Christian would never hurt me and I’m the one always pressing for more of his kinkier predilections. With a breath, I nod.

He doesn’t respond to me, instead, his hands suddenly grip my arms tightly and push against me, forcing me into the wall at my back so that his lips can claim mine with a possessive kind of hunger. I try to kiss him back, but he bites down on my lip, making me whimper, and then begins ravishing me with his tongue again. I succumb, letting him take over and do what he’s so, so good at.

His hands find their way under my dress again and when his fingers brush against my naked lips, he growls, captures my teeth between his lips, and tugs enough that it’s just this side of painful. I groan into his mouth as first one, then a second finger finds its way inside of me, but while he pumps them fiercely in and out of me and the need for this release that has been building inside of me all night suddenly begins building out of control into a quick and hot orgasm, suddenly he stops.

“Wait, no….” I protest. He smiles against my lips.

“Oh, baby. You think I’m going to let you come now? No. You have take your punishment first.”

“Punishment?”

His hand grips tightly onto mine again so he can drag me back into the bedroom, but this time I’m so dazed from the alcohol and the still poignant ache now demanding attention between my legs, that I stumble in my heels. He catches me, lifts me over his shoulder, and continues on until he tosses me onto his bed. I turn and look at him, anticipating him removing his clothes or perhaps simply diving at me again, but he doesn’t. He sits calmly on the edge of the bed and reaches out for me.

“Come.”

Slowly, I slide off the silky bedding and move to stand in front of him. He pulls me down on top of him, with enough force that I fall, but his strong arms secure themselves around me and then, very deliberately, he lays me over his knee.

Oh…

“I’m going to spank you, Anastasia. Do you know why?”

“Because I wasn’t wearing panties.”

He lets out a dark laugh. “You weren’t wearing panties while flaunting your body to the dozens of men staring at you, coveting you. You are mine, Anastasia, and I don’t like other men having certain thoughts about what is mine. Especially, when you’re encouraging them.”

“I wasn’t, I-I–” I feel the blood rushing to my head from being splayed over Christian’s lap, and it makes the effects of the alcohol stronger, keeping me from explaining, defending myself. So, when my words cut off, he pulls the hem of my dress over my behind and inhales sharply at the sight of my bare flesh.

“Why else?”

“I… Um…”

“What did I say to you at the airport?”

“You said… um…”

“I told you not to drink too much, and then I find you hanging off of Kate on a table in a nightclub. That’s not particularly sober behavior, is it, Anastasia? Drinking I can tolerate. Excessive public intoxication on the other hand…” His tongue clicks and then his hand brushes over my backside. Even that touch stokes the fire of desire inside of me, and to my surprise, when I open my legs, his hand moves down and glides through my lips.

“Jesus, you’re already wet,” he hisses, his fingers toying with my clitoris.

“Christian, please…” I beg.

“Not yet, baby. First.” His hand disappears and then slaps, hard, against me a split second later. The shock reverberates through my whole body and yet it feeds the hunger inside of me. The part of me that craves this, that asked for this, rejoices in the brutal contact, and when his hand stops massaging my ass and disappears again, I wait for the sharp bite of pain to come again with excited anticipation.

“Yes,” I whisper, and as I bite into the folds in his slacks around his knee, he lets out a satisfied breath, and hits me again. I rejoice in blow after blow, not only for the way the heat from the pain seems to electrify my body, but in the feeling of not being in control. To put yourself completely in the hands of someone you trust and who you love is surprising liberating, almost intoxicating, and as he hits me for the final time, I find that I want more. So much more. But I don’t want to just give my submission to him, I want him to claim it.

He’s panting from need and exertion when he finally eases me off his knee. I wince slightly as I settle down onto the floor, but stop when his hand grips my chin and he forces me to look up at him.

“Enough?” he asks, his voice husky.

I don’t answer. Instead I lunge up at him, knocking him back onto the bed and kissing him hard. He isn’t stunned or taken aback, he immediately shifts me off of him and rolls me onto the bed so that he can completely cover my body with his own, effectively subduing me, and the weight of him on top of me instantly connects with all of my reward receptors.

“No, no, baby. Not tonight. Tonight, you do only as I say. Tonight, you are mine to do with as I please. Understand?”

“Yes.”

“What was that?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Mmm, good girl.” He begins moving down my body, kissing my neck and the lines of my collar bones, undressing me as he moves down my body. Once my dress is gone, and his mouth reaches my breasts, his gentle ministrations come to an end. He sucks hard on the swell of my breast, enough that I have to reach down and stop him.

“Wait, my dress… you can’t give me hickeys, they’ll show through my dress.”

His free hand reaches up and pinches my free nipple so tightly I yelp, and then his lips continue to move down over my stomach, past my hips, and between my legs.

“Oh, fuck!” I scream, and my thighs clench tightly around his head. He growls and it’s quite possibly the sexiest sound I’ve ever heard in my life. I want to reach down and tangle my fingers in his hair, encourage him, hold him in place, use him while I grind against his so, so talented mouth… but I’m not sure what I am and am not allowed to do in this moment. He’s in charge. So, instead, I lie back, panting heavily and begging for more, letting the pleasure consume me.

When it starts, it burns slow. But like a spark over dry timber in the dead heat of August, the early beginnings of my orgasm quickly spread out of control through my body. It’s too much, too powerful. Every impulse I have tells me to escape him, to pull back and collect myself or risk being torn apart by the orgasm approaching much, much too quickly. I’m not going to be able to take it, but as I try and squirm away from him, his hands clamp down firmly over my hips and hold me in place.

“Fuck! Oh… oh, fuck, Christian! I can’t. Fuck, I can’t!”

He doesn’t answer, he simply rolls his tongue over my clitoris and then sucks, hard, and I’m lost. The blood pounding in my ears as my orgasm overtakes me is so loud I can’t even hear myself screaming his name. I can only feel, and what I feel is so intense, it’s as though I’ve been pushed to a higher level of understanding regarding what humans can and cannot survive through. My entire body is alive, flowing with powerful, unrelenting pleasure, and after it pulses through me again, and again, on and on, until I think I’m going to pass out, I begin to come down, and my body starts to tremble.

“Holy shit…” I whisper, but I hardly have anytime to recover. Christian takes hold of me again and flips me onto my front, grabbing me by the hips and pulling them up so I’m on my knees before him. I hear the jingle of his belt and the sound of his zipper, but once I feel the tip of his erection brush against me, he pauses.

“I love you, Anastasia.”

I cry out in surprise as he slams inside of me, harder than I’m prepared for, and he groans in satisfaction.

“That’s it, baby. There’s no one else here. Let me hear you. Scream my name.”

“Christian!”

My fingers twist into the bedding as I search desperately to feel anchored to something while he pounds into me over and over again. Each thrust is hard, fast, and made more aggressive by his hands pulling my hips back into him each time he pushes into me. With his knees, he pushes my legs as far apart as they can go so he can take me as deep as possible. His hands probe my ass, kneading my still tender flesh. When his fingers dig into my behind, it pulls my lips tighter around him, intensifying the sensation of his ardent and relentless assault. I’m hyper aware of every movement he makes, every change in angle, every increase or decrease in his cadence. My breathing comes out in harsh huffs that match his. It’s rough, savage, and astonishingly incredible.

“You like that, baby?” His voice is tight, and I wonder if he’s getting close.

“Yes. Oh, god, yes!”

He growls again. “I want you to come with me. Will you do that for me?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Fuck, baby. You make me feel so… Mmmm. This is it, Anastasia. This is all I’m ever going to want. All I’m ever going to need. I’m home, here, inside of you. I love you.”

“I love you too, Christian.”

He groans, grips more tightly to my hips, and increases the ferocity of his thrusts. I feel a quickening beginning deep inside of me and I try to hold it off, refusing to let the heat have me until Christian finds his own release, but it’s difficult. The feel of him moving in and out of me combined with the sound of his moans of pleasure is like gasoline poured directly on the fire slowly building inside of me, and as I teeter on the edge, I’m certain there’s no way I’m going to keep my balance.

“Christian… please. I’m going to…”

“Hold on. I’m almost there. Fuck, I’m almost there.”

I whimper and bite down my hip, struggling against the waves of pleasure that threaten to overwhelm me any minute. It’s no use. There’s no way I’m going to be able to stop it. But, just as I feel my body begin to succumb, Christian let’s out a deep, guttural noise that tells me he too is on the brink of release.

“Fuck, this is it,” I hisses. “Come for me, Ana. Come for me.”

The pressure inside of me releases in an instant and floods my veins with warm, welcome pleasure. I feel my orgasm pulsing through me in time with his thrusts until he finally cries out a garbled version of my name, comes violently inside of me, and together, we are lost.

The world slows. I melt into the bed beneath me, feeling as though my limbs have turned to liquid. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so relaxed until Christian moves onto the bed next to me and wraps me in his arms from behind.

“Are you still angry with me?” I ask.

“No, and I wasn’t really.”

“Liar.”

He chuckles. “Fine, I was. Mostly though, II’ve just been thinking about fucking you like that all night and now here we are. I’ll have you here next to me, naked, in my arms for the rest of the night. Who would have thought breaking the rules would be so fun?”

“I’m pretty sure Kate was the one who insisted we shouldn’t see each other tonight. I don’t ever remember agreeing to that.”

“Mmm, it’s so sexy when you fight the power, baby.”

I giggle as he holds me tighter against him, but then freeze as we hear the door to the suite open. Christian never closed his bedroom door behind us, so we’re laying here, on top of the bed, completely exposed to whoever just walked in. Thankfully though, as we both scramble to get under the blankets, we quickly realize that the intruder has no interest in investigating what may or may not be going on in Christian’s room.

“I love you, Katie,” Elliot says, each word punctuated by the sound of a kiss. “I’m never going to let you go again.”

“Never,” she agrees. “This is it, okay? You and me.”

“You and me.” We hear them kissing again and then the door to the suite opposite ours slams closed.

“Oh my god, she really did it,” I say in a breath. Christian raises an eyebrow at me, so I explain. “Kate said that she was going to get back together with Elliot. I guess she did…”

“Oh… well, great! That’s really great.” He smiles, looking genuinely happy, and then leans forward to kiss me again, and as I fall back into the pillows, I try not to let the thoughts of what Kate is giving up to be in that room with Elliot right now ruin the last night I will spend with Christian as Anastasia Steele.

Next Chapter

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71 thoughts on “Chapter 40

  1. Mia isn’t being childish or stupid…..now she is behaving spoilt and selfish
    I really hope when all this comes out in open, Christian really refuses to fund julliard for her……she deserves this

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    1. AMEN. And her conduct risks her having a serious injury. I mean, dancers NEED their legs, and stumbling around drunk at a CLUB in VEGAS no less, WHILE DRUNK, is just no way to remain uninjured. I’m just SHOCKED that Mr. Conspiracy Head didn’t take advantage of the situation, PARTICULARLY since this chapter reveals just how MANY people he paid to keep surveillance on everyone.

      And Mia is avoiding Christian for a REASON. She clearly doesn’t want to reveal what she knows now, since it obviously implicates HER in some way.

      But it is also disconcerting to me how EASILY Mia was able to dodge her security. Makes me wonder if this was HER plan or Tabitha’s? And has anyone yet investigated Tabitha? It sounds a little too convenient for this Tabitha person to be around and encouraging Mia to take these extreme risks. AND SO IRRESPONSIBLE OF MIA, especially when she was TOLD that it is most likely thta Gia is dead.

      So Mia’s spoiled conduct is going to likely end in a situation similar to what happened in EL James’ original works with MIA being the easy target for kidnapping. In fact, I can just see Mia wondering off with the first cute boy that beckons. Mia needs to have a regular security officer AND a more covert, unknown security officer that follows and tracks her every move.

      But Mr. Conspiracy Head’s NOT taking advantage of these obviously idiotic and irresponsible actions of Mia is TELLING. Means he already KNOWS and plans to exploit it at a time of HIS choosing, or he has paid Tabitha and already knows that there are MULTIPLE options and opportunities at HIS disposal where Mia is concerned!

      But I’m not sure if ANY reality check will work on Mia at this point until her actions have COST someone dearly.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Do we even know if this girl is a high schooler or not??
        And seriously what purpose she had to come for friend’s brother’s bachelor’s party!!!
        And it’s kind of a pattern….the head has always targeted girls to be inside sources and all of them try getting close to Christian considering they want to get closer to ana

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      2. I’m like you, An. That was my FIRST thought regarding Tabitha—after all, that is CLEARLY Mr. Conspiracy Head’s pattern, particularly in light of what we learned this chapter, of planting someone close to Grey familiy members.

        In fact, I was surprised at this girl being ALLOWED on the bachelor/ette party weekend. ADD to that Mia’s general avoidance right now of her family since apparently being around this girl. I mean, Mia is giving Christian excuses not to spend ANY time around him now.

        So I think I’m right in assuming Mia has had some “questionable” friends or acquaintances in her life, including one or more that are seemingly missing now. For whatever reason, the concerns Mia had LAST chapter are no longer her concerns NOW. She doesn’t want to be denied ANY of her spoiled shenanigans, and her sneaking around AND dodging her security AND her underage drinking AND partying are really things to be concerned about.

        And Mia is getting away with things right now, especially, due to all the wedding plans. Which means that Mr. Conspiracy Head could have EASILY kidnapped Mia before now. So it sounds like HE is waiting for something specific. Which is telling.

        Christian may be wanting this big wedding shindig in order to show Mr. Conspiracy Head that his life WILL go on happily despite Mr. Conspiracy Head being out there. But if that is the case, then it may backfire wildly against him. It all depends on whether Mr. Conspiracy Head’s massive ego would be fed by actually being able to kidnap Ana or a Grey family member right out from under Christian’s nose DESPITE all the wedding press coverage and drama.

        So let’s ALL hope Christian is as strong as he thinks he is. AND that Mia actually uses her BRAIN, which she seems to have permanently thrown away at this point. She is DELIBERATELY taking these unnecessary risks, and Tabitha seems MORE than eager to put her up to them. I’m wondering if anyone has done a check on Tabitha at all.

        (PLUS, Christian wanted ALL of the family contacts to be looked into, BUT I’M SURE that Mia hasn’t told Christian about ALL the people she is hanging around, PARTICULARLY if they were some of the dance troupe people that were previously charged with drug use. So Mia’s SECRECY is a real security threat, in my opinion. WHAT is going on with that girl???? I’m just hoping that she doesn’t take up with some Ainsley and Eliza-types!)

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      3. It could that when Mia told him that she wanted to talk to Christian, someone might have heard that nd now this friend is being sent as a back up so that he can ensure she doesn’t spill anything

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  2. My first thoughts after reading this chapter all center around Mia. NOW, she is not willing to talk. I feel she knows something, but she is hesitant to reveal it due to her own conduct. And what she did in this chapter is just inexcusable, given the present circumstances. For her to DELIBERATELY dodge her security in an unknown town was stupid. To get drunk and to use fake id’s to get into a club even MORE stupid, ESPECIALLY knowing that Mr. Conspiracy Head is out there.

    AND this chapter let us know JUST how many people Mr. Conspiracy Head has paid off to watch Ana and Christian. Multiple GEH employees were seemingly paid to do something, either to provide intel or to potentially sabotage GEH in some way. So that clenches it JUST how much money Mr. Conspiracy Head must have to use for his revenge plan.

    But I’m still ready to throttle Mia. AND I’m wondering about “Tabitha” and any other “friends” of Mia’s. I’m just surprised that Mr. Conspiracy Head hasn’t taken advantage of this OBVIOUS lapse in security. But Mia should have NEVER been brought to Vegas in the first place due to her age, given that bachelor and bachelorette parties were planned.

    But Mia’s risk-taking is not going to go unnoticed, I’m sure. I’m just wondering WHEN Mr. Conspiracy Head will take action on it. I’m still so surprised at HIS letting so much go on without taking advantage of it. That HAS TO MEAN that Mr. Conspiracy Head has a SPECIFIC PLAN in place, probably surrounding the wedding.

    But this chapter has me MAD at Elliot again. He is not willing to compromise on ANYTHING that is important to KATE. And she DESERVES to have some sort of genuine committment, quite frankly.

    HOWEVER, Kate was NOT planning on going to bed wtih Elliot, and given the state of inebriation, I doubt either one of them thought to use a condum. AND Elliot will probably notice Kate’s SCAR when they wake, so there should be multiple questions. And THAT makes me wonder what Elliot would do if Kate got pregnant. Kate would NOT simply want to get rid of teh baby, and it sounds like Elliot would insist that she do so or raise the child alone.

    So this chapter left me overall UNCOMFORTABLE with everyone. I even wondered if Christian was pulling this big wedding thing in an attempt to force Mr. Conspiracy Head to take action. WHY Christian is insistent on this big wedding and WHY Ana can’t discuss it with him is beyond me. It seems like NO ONE is saying or doing what they REALLY think, and miscommunication issues are GOING to be problematic.

    But Mia seems to clearly be avoiding Christian. AND she wants all her hopes and dreams handed to her while engaging in irresponsible behaviors showing her unworthy of that dance career she supposedly so hopes to attain. Mia KNOWS something, yet she keeps talking herself out of telling Christian. That’s bad. ESPECIALLY since she can’t be responsible enough even to be trusted.

    So sadly, I couldn’t really enjoy this chapter due to all the PROBLEMS that are obviously just below the surface. AND for Mr. Conspiracy Head to be able to hire SO MANY PEOPLE to observe and follow Ana and the Grey family, then he would OBVIOUSLY know about Mia’s actions. So the fact that HE is NOT following up on them is TELLING and TROUBLING!

    SO I’m more worried now then before. AND I don’t like Ana seemingly surrendering to being owned and giving up her own wedding dreams. ESPECIALLY when this “big” wedding seems to have Conspiracy disaster written all over it. Security is CLEARLY stretched to the brink, and they have now lost ANOTHER team member due to Mia’s thoughtlessness. Just wow.

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    1. I think Mia somewhat helped HIM initially as a backup for funding julliard. But now maybe she thinks it has all gone too far
      But now she knows things have gone too far and after knowing the truth, she will get no support from the greys
      But that still doesn’t give the right to be ride to Christian….it could be coz of that mystery friend

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    2. “I even wondered if Christian was pulling this big wedding thing in an attempt to force Mr. Conspiracy Head to take action. WHY Christian is insistent on this big wedding and WHY Ana can’t discuss it with him is beyond me.”

      I agree with you wholeheartly. I was even thinking that the big wedding was a distraction and that Christian planned something in Las Vegas.
      I can’t stop thinking that Christian wouldn’t like that, Ana doesn’t like that, which should be reason enought for Christian to change his opinion (with his “Ana desires first” and all that).
      I keep thinking (or maybe hoping) that Tara make some weird move about the wedding that we are going to love (and I think that is the case because Ana is giving it so much though… she didn’t waited 4 years in order to not be truly happy her wedding day).

      Can’t wait for next Monday!!!!
      You did truly make my day, and today was the worst day ever, I swear. Thanks for that 💖

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      1. Hope your day gets better. Mine was about par with yours, it sounds like, and this chapter was also my day’s highlight as well!

        I think Christian has a psychological REASON for wanting to advertise this big and beautiful fairytale wedding to show Mr. Conspiracy Head that he has NO power over their happiness. HOWEVER, like you, I keep hoping that Christian has a possible back-up unknown plan to wisk Ana off for the perfect intimate ceremony and that the OTHER was just a ruse to force Mr. Conspiracy Head to make a move. Still, if it WAS something like that, then you would expect Christian to tell ANA. (But then Ana would tell Kate, who would tell Elliot, and you might as well have told the world then!)

        But both Elliot AND Mia’s behaviors and selfishness concerned me this chapter. I don’t like how Elliot is basically saying that Kate has to give up on her most cherished dreams to be with him. And HOW can she be truly happy going on like this? Elliot’s being able to move on some quickly and easily previously is rather TELLING, in my opinion. I have loved Elliot before ASSOF, so I’m sorry to have to think so ill of him now. I GET that some people truly DON’T want children, but Elliot’s being UNWILLING to even consider any of Kate’s dreams just leaves me cold.

        (BUT the other reality on the Elliot/Kate thing is that there are unintended pregnancies all the time. ESPECIALLY when you have drunk events such as Christian and Ana’s bachelor weekends. Kate might not be on birth control now, so what happens if she gets pregnant? Will Elliot refuse to acknowledge or raise the child? Would he try to force Kate to get an abortion? I mean, based on what Christian and Ana overheard, we didn’t hear either Kate or Elliot suggesting using anything.)

        But back to Christian—I think he almost NEEDS this big wedding to show Mr. Conspiracy Head that NOTHING will prevent the marriage and his happiness. I think all the pressure may be influencing Christian’s thinking on the matter, and let’s face it, it is NOT like he is getting an abundance of sleep right now! Hopefully, though, Ana and Christian will talk it out. They always HAVE been able to talk about things prior to this.

        I think the whole Conspiracy thing has taken its toll, and Ana then has to IMMEDIATELY go on her book tour, which REALLY worries me. She and Calliope will be off alone in unfamiliar locations, dependent on the book people to tell Ana where to go. SO MANY possibilities for Mr. Conspiracy Head, in my opinion.

        But this chapter really has an abundancy of little gems for us to stew over for the next week! (And I still say a bachelor weekend in Vegas is rather foolish, especially if the press end up getting wind of some of the stupid stuff Kate was pushing. Sigh. All these drunken idiots running around is a PERFECT mixture for the Conspiracy to take advantage of. The fact that they are NOT is telling, in my opinion, since that means Mr. Conspiracy Head has a PLAN already for what he does next. AND the BIG WEDDING means that there is so little that can be kept secret, and Taylor is stretched so thin it is ridiculous. ESPECIALLY now that they need a NEW idiot-proof security wo/man for wayward teens and their guests!)

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  3. Mia is giving me a bad vibe. This chapter made me a little sad, Ana and Kate are giving up on very important things and I’m afraid resentment could be close by

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    1. Your concerns mirror mine exactly. Elliot is so easily able to go back and forth between women. And he seemingly is unwilling to compromise for ANYONE else’s dreams. And Kate said she wanted someone that would love her so unconditionally as Christian, YET Christian was willing to consider children, even when he didn’t know if he, himself, wanted them. But BECAUSE it would make Ana happy, Christian was willing to make Ana’s dreams come true. Which is WHY I am so surprised about this wedding. I would think Christian would WANT Ana’s dream list for her wedding!

      At least Ana has the alternative dress. So IF she finally DOES talk to Christian, she can at least change THAT. But Christian’s steadfast determination for this grandiose procession leaves MUCH to worry about. WHY is it all about the LOOK of the thing and statement to the world rather than a commitment between two people very much in love?? There just seems to be MORE going on here, and Christian and Ana NEED to talk about it NOW rather than later.

      But yeah, I don’t like Kate just giving in to all Elliot’s wishes with him being unwilling to even consider compromising on HER dreams. And with them both being so drunk, if Kate gets pregnant unexpectedly, what THEN?

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      1. I don’t really think Elliot’s feeling r that genuine coz he jumped from Kate to Gia within 2 months nd at the time of breakup, they were already living together and Elliot has mentioned a few times that he loved Gia. Den after seeing Kate with Carter, he realised he didn’t loved Gia that much nd now wants Kate back without compromising or even agreeing to consider any changes.

        I really think Kate should consider going out and trying relationships coz this Elliot doesn’t deserves kate
        He gets the best of both worlds but Kate ends up giving up her dream

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      2. I feel the same way you do, An. THIS Elliot does NOT deserve Kate. He just wants someone to love that is convenient. He easily slides back and forth between women and doesn’t seem overly affected about learning that Gia is obviously dead. I mean, he MOVED GIA IN to the house he bought WITH KATE after less than a two months acquaintance! And he was just glad to be rid of Gia after her usefulness was over wtih. And it took only ONE thing to cause him to doubt her, and then when he suddenly realized that Carter and Kate were together, he was only too glad for ANY excuse to dump Gia. And while I DON’T feel sorry for Gia, the way he treated her at the end in front of his family was not good either.

        And Elliot’s choosing to decide that he doesn’t want children isn’t something that can be enforced, quite frankly. Does he plan to dump Kate if she accidentally gets pregnant with his child? He can’t force an abortion, so if she has his child, will he ignore it? Lots of problems here in the making. But I’m like you—we didn’t hear ANYTHING about contraceptives before Elliot jumped drunkenly back into bed with Kate. So if there was no condum AND Kate isn’t on the pill, then Kate could be pregnant. And Elliot can rant and rave about it, but it is NOT up to him whether or not Kate has the baby. We will just have to wait and see. After all, Christian and Ana didn’t plan to get pregnant, and she was on the pill at the time. Elliot seems to have learned NOTHING at this point except that he expects his woman to agree to HIS needs and demands, without being willing to consider anything ELSE.

        But Elliot WILL see Kate’s scar AND wonder why she wouldn’t show or tell about it before now. AND if Kate tells him the TRUTH, then Elliot SHOULD feel bad about EVERYTHING Kate has been willing to do for his family, even at a time when they weren’t together and she was under no obligation. So Kate SHOULD be entitled to see some of her OWN cherished dreams come true as well!

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      3. I think now that they r together, Elliot might see Kate’s scar tonight itself but he maybe drunk to remember that
        But he will definately ask her abt it

        But I don’t want Elliot to have a change of heart bcoz of that……coz it will look as if he is repaying Kate and that would look too shallow

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  4. In reviewing my list for the possibilities of Mr. Conspiracy Head, I will now have to agree to ADD Brian Clark to the list, although I still think there are better candidates ahead of him.

    Brian Clark was the chauvinistic intern from Portland, Oregon. Mr. Conspiracy Head HINTED on the phone that he endeavored to be nice to Ana when in contact with her, and we KNOW that Brian tried to at least PRETEND to be impressed with Ana by summer’s end. So once he was again refused the top SIP position AND was relegated to ANA’s assistant, he seemingly did his job.

    But Brian worked with HYDE and Barney and even Welsh during that summer. He would KNOW that Hyde wanted the top position at SIP and was disgruntled over not getting it. Brian would also know the general department heads and others to target as well. So Brian might have had a REASON for his internship at GEH.

    But what is LACKING at this point is the BACKGROUND for WHY Brian would target Christian. Obviously, he was seemingly in awe of Christian at the start of the summer internship, but he quickly realized how dependent CHristian was for his success on the various women in his life. ELENA clearly was seen in a position of POWER at GEH as Leila confirmed to Ana. And Ana seemingly had power over Christian, enough to give HER preference despite Brian thinking HE was better placed.

    And Brian’s attitude towards WOMEN fits in with Mr. Conspiracy Head’s own attitude and obsession wtih bringing first Elena and then Ana to heal. And Brian has WORKED with HYDE, so he would be confident in getting HYDE to publish Elena’s book.

    The only thing that Brian seemingly LACKS is the clout and MONEY to pull all this off. So we need a BACKSTORY to explain Brian’s obsession and resulting insanity to explain how he could become Mr. Conspiracy Head. But he WAS perfectly placed to learn all he needed to know to make this possible. AND he would EXPECT ANA TO REMEMBER HIM. In fact, I would question how Ana did NOT recognize him, since she would have seen him multiple times over her summer internship.

    So yeah, I can see BRIAN CLARK being a definite possibility for Mr. Conspiracy Head, particularly if Leila’s “picture” of MR. Conspiracy HEad with the “C” on his chest stood for something OTHER than Conspiracy. I felt Tara was putting that picture out there as a potential clue rather than a joke. While we would ASSUME the “C” stood for Conspiracy, it could also stand for HIS name. And no one else has a “C” to begin his name except Clark OR CARTER. (At least, as far as we know. We never did learn “Isaac’s” last name.)

    But Carter seems entirely too immature to be the head of the Conspiracy. HOWEVER, Carter clearly comes from MONEY and a Dad who thinks he does not do enough OR work hard enough. So Carter would have reason to develop a complex, in my opinion, and to go insane at continuously losing to a Grey.

    Andrew Lincoln STILL makes better sense to me, and he should have some funds or money squirrelled away from the sale of the company (or just funds he hid when his company was obviously going to go under). Andrew’s company’s difficulties could also have been a result of his obsession and dive into insanity that was going on over Christian and Elena that FULLY stewed over into full-blown obsession after Christian took his company out from under him with ELENA’s help.

    But Brian still makes a viable candidate having gotten to know GEH’s operations and key people from his time there at the company. Since he was majoring in business and familiar wtih acquisitions, he would KNOW what to look for during his time at GEH. But the unhealthy obsession AND anger towards women has to be fueled by SOMETHING, so there is something MORE to his backstory that we would need to have. PLUS, either ELENA supplied him wiht money, OR he somehow had access to funds through other means.

    SOMEONE blames Christian for HIS lack of success. AND wants him to SUFFER as HE presumably did. So the COnspiracy possibilities (in my opinion) remain as follows:

    —Andrew Lincoln –lost EVERYTHING to Christian after he tried to help him. And got NOTHING for his troubles. Just lost wife, company, prestige, friends, etc. So yeah, DEFINITE reasons to see him targeting Christian.
    —Jack Hyde –LESS LIKELY in Tara-World due to the fact that he did NOT lose his job. Just didn’t get the top position. BUT he was REALLY bitter about it, as we learned when he confronted Ana at the GEH party.
    —Brian Clark –perfectly positioned. Hates women or thinks they are universally incompetent. Considering he put Leila in charge of so much AND worked with ELena, it shouldn’t be him. And WHY would Leila and Elena think he would be capable of unseating and undoing Christian????
    —Astor Harrington –obsessive need to take EVERYTHING that was Christian’s, even when the two were in school together. He even knew about ELENA, since he was hired by her. But HOW would he have the funds for this OR be able to beat Christian now when he NEVER could before? PLUS, how woudl he have the Seattle and not Cambridge connections?
    —Carter Reed –has lost women to Grey brothers. Is thought generally incompetent by his OWN father. So he definitely has a reason to have a chip on his shoulder. But he seemingly has neither the competence nor the funds to pull something like this off.
    —Isaac –knew ALL of Elena’s dirty secrets, so could potentially blackmail others. But would a submissive dependent on someone else actually be able to pull this off?

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    1. I really don’t think it’s someone of Christian’s age….coz this plan has been in the process ever since the beginning of Ana’s senior year and now it’s July, so it’s been a year
      Nd as far as we noe, all these guys have been steady college students. Maybe they could be catalysts but they cannot be the head

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      1. Yeah, I still think Andrew LINCOLN is the best candidate to be the Conspiracy Head. I’m just listing all the viable possibilities that would have the connections to pull this off. But I’m like you—NONE of the college-aged guys were ever able to hold a candle to Christian before, and Christian now has the powerful company, etc. Without any experience running a company, how could ANY of those guys really pull this off (meaning Brian, Astor and Carter). Even HYDE doesn’t have that kind of power and clout.

        But again, there could be MORE going on behind the scenes then we know. I have listed POSSIBLE candidates that would have REASON to go after Christian. Only ANDREW seemingly has the means and EXPERIENCE to REALLY pull this off, in my opinion, though I can’t imagine HOW he would have been able to scare ELENA into helping him, given THEIR past and how committed Elena was to tearing Andrew COMPLETELY down.

        Since we don’t know enough yet to figure out HIS identity, it is still fun to think of ALL Christian’s enemies and THE MOTIVATION REQUIRED to trigger HIM to do this. Helps kill the time in between chapters, after all. And while I did NOT list him as a Conspiracy Head, I DO think that Gresham financial guy is involved as well. Frankly, it is amazing JUST HOW MANY people Mr. Conspiracy Head obviously employed for this whole thing, and how they ALL stick to HIS story when caught! SHOWS their fear of him, since they must KNOW that others have died at Mr. Conspiracy Head’s hands.

        But hey, we learned from the funding that SERVICE PROVIDERS were targets/employees for surveillance of Christian and Ana and the Grey family. NO WONDER Gia made a point to find Christian’s EXACT dry cleaner and seemingly use him herself. NO ONE would question her going to the dry cleaner’s or something like that to give updates! So Mr. Conspiracy Head has really planned things out. Wonder what he did with GIA’s body?

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      2. I really sometimes feel it’s Elliot coz firstly he isn’t same guy from the previous 2 stories

        And secondly fr a guy who wasn’t sure of his feeling fr Gia, he actually forced her on his family and especially on Christian considering he knew ana is far away nd there was actually no need for her spending so much time with Christian
        Do people who r together for just 2-3 months really spend that much of time with their partner’s brothers considering she was always around, even more than elliot
        And then suddenly one day when Christian starts being rude to her, she is found meeting other guys nd Elliot having a change of heart!!

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    2. It could be Lincoln coz of the offshore account…..but I really don’t get his motives
      Taking his company I don’t think is gud enough to kill ana and his baby

      Like

      1. It all depends on how ANDREW sees it. Christian didn’t JUST take his company—he took his whole life! He was involved with Elena (and even though Christian was a child, he did know right from wrong. He KNEW it was adultery, although as Flynn explained it, Christian was “groomed” since early childhood and an easy victim for someone like Elena. But ANDREW wouldn’t see Christian as a “victim,” since Christian seemingly chose to help ELENA in the resulting trial over his would-be rescuer, Andrew.).

        And after the discover of the adultery, ANDREW revealed it to the Grey family, separated from Elena, and filed for a divorce. He had a PRE-NUPTIAL Agreement with Elena which precluded her from getting anything IF she committed adultery. BY HAVING CHRISTIAN LIE on the stand, Elena got half Andrew’s assets. So Andrew loses HALF of what he worked his whole life to obtain BECAUSE of CHRISTIAN’s felonies.

        And even though CHRISTIAN BROKE THE LAW by lying and committing perjury, Christian STILL benefitted further by being PAID with Andrew’s money! So that is REALLY adding insult to injury, as Christian then builds up HIS OWN BIG COMPANY.

        AND at the end of the day, EVEN though everything he became CAME AT THE EXPENSE OF ANDREW, Christian THEN TOOK HIS COMPANY, the one remaining thing that Andrew had.

        And Andrew had lost ALL his friends and felt the need to MOVE TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTRY in order to get away from his past and Christian. ONLY for that not to be enough, when Elena flies (on Christian’s dime) to NY to talk the board into selling Andrew out.

        And THEN Andrew gets to see how CHRISTIAN GETS TO KEEP his woman, Ana, despite all he has done. AND in Andrew’s mind, ANA KNEW what Christian had done YET got back together with him again, even KNOWING he was seemingly still involved with Elena.

        So CHRISTIAN got EVERYTHING—the woman he loved, his own company AND prestige from the community. AND he NEVER had to suffer any consequences, at least from Andrew’s point of view. While ANDREW lost HIS woman, his way of life, his company—in other words, EVERYTHING, including his self-respect. ALL FOR A BOY HE TRIED TO HELP.

        So yeah, Andrew didn’t JUST lose a company. He lost SO MUCH MORE, all to Christian. (In Tara-World, Elena apparently never strayed in her marriage EXCEPT for Christian. So Andrew would see CHRISTIAN as the reason HIS WHOLE WORLD FELL APART.)

        So Andrew probably feels attacked personally, professionally AND psychologically by Christian. Christian seemingly took EVERYTHING from him without a care OR hesitation. In Andrew’s mind, he never deserved such callous treatment from a child he considered to be FAMILY.

        So Andrew lost his woman, his company, his friends, his prestige, his peace of mind AND his life’s work! No one else on the list lost so much to Christian. SO YEAH, I can see Andrew saying WHY shoud Christian have EVERYTHING, INCLUDING the perfect WIFE and family AND company WHEN HE STOLE ALL THAT FROM ANDREW.

        I definitely see the above being enough to drive someone insane. I could see Andrew being driven to want REVENGE above ALL else, ESPECIALLY since Christian NEVER gave him another thought, even KNOWING that his lies AND CRIMINAL ACTS destroyed Andrew so utterly and completely. I imagine obsessing over a happy and carefree Christian is the first and last thing Andrew thinks about everyday he wakes up and goes to sleep!

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    3. I really sometimes feel it’s Elliot coz firstly he isn’t same guy from the previous 2 stories

      And secondly fr a guy who wasn’t sure of his feeling fr Gia, he actually forced her on his family and especially on Christian considering he knew ana is far away nd there was actually no need for her spending so much time with Christian
      Do people who r together for just 2-3 months really spend that much of time with their partner’s brothers considering she was always around, even more than elliot
      And then suddenly one day when Christian starts being rude to her, she is found meeting other guys nd Elliot having a change of heart!!

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      1. YES, I just couldn’t GET how Elliot was SO Gia-oriented. Even from the beginning, she only wanted to do what SHE wanted to do, such as complaining about Elliot’s pub tour in Paris until she got a gorgeous bracelet, which she basically thought she was ENTITLED to. Gia clearly didn’t like his home decor, including his neon Seahawks sign, which was so important to Elliot. So from the get-go, the two didn’t really gel or have common interests. YET Elliot expected his family to LOVE Gia, praise her, and automatically accept her as one of them, including giving her codes, etc.

        And he wasn’t even REMOTELY suspicious about how much time Gia spent fawning over Christian, including her wanting to run with him, be in the gym with him, etc. And even Ana could see the way Gia LOOKED at Christian. So you wonder how deaf and blind ELLIOT could be to it all!

        So TRUST was automatically to be given by all UNTIL Gia had a lunch with another wealthy man. (But I think that actually meant that Elliot finally had to acknowledge ALL the other signs that indicated that Gia was determined to land the wealthiest man possible.)

        So Elliot certainly seemed ruled by his smaller “brain” rather than any real common sense in regards to Gia. And she was EXACTLY timed to enter his life when he was most vulnerable.

        (HOWEVER, it DOES raise the question of just HOW Mr. Conspiracy Head knew to insert Gia into Elliot’s life because Kate and Elliot had broken up. ONLY Ana and Kate and Christian AND MIA basically knew that info. It could have been that Elena advised Mr. Conspiracy Head to try and break-up Elliot and Kate but lucked out when it turned out they were ALREADY broken up.)

        But I just can’t get Elliot’s justifications for the way he treated Gia and expected his family to treat her. And how he was SO BLIND to the obvious when it was directly in front of his face. I mean, Gia all but SAID she was a golddigger by stating at the Thanksgiving table that her “passion” would be to marry someone obviously rich enough so that she could quit her job and JUST do “charity work.” And Elliot was dating her then when she OBVIOUSLY was determined (and saying it) that she would get the wedding ring!

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  5. I would also love to know if MIA would recognize Mr. Conspiracy Head. Mia would have most likely never met Hyde, Clark, Harrington or Isaac. She would have seen Carter Reed, maybe, at the baby shower. There is ALWAYS the possibility that Mr. Conspiracy Head is the man from the club that tried to get to Mia. HIS obsession with the Grey family could be about MORE than JUST Christian. So this individual also makes my Conspiracy suspect’s list since ELENA was frightened enough of this man to just offer him Mia on a silver platter. Even KNOWING what Christian was likely to do when it came out.

    So yeah, that guy had power AND clout in order to get Elena fearful enough of not pleasing him. AND he would have had to have MONEY, since Elena was willing to pay Mia roughly eight thousand dollars a month to submit.

    But I STILL think Mia might hold the KEY to all this, since Elena’s client list could have contained any NUMBER of enemies and powerful connections in Seattle. OBVIOUSLY, Elena KNEW this person to have agreed to work with him. AND she had to believe that HE could take Christian down. So that implies POWER and the ability to get things done. Which again takes MONEY.

    Oh Mia, WHY won’t you speak up? Just HOW BAD is it???? What do you know? And WHY do you think that it is so important, but now, you aren’t willing to bring it up????

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  6. Kate and Christian have been able to communicate before about Ana. I’m hoping that Kate will bring up Ana’s concerns regarding location and dress to Christian. And I get that Ana thinks she is trying to do what CHristian wants by not objecting to the locale, but she NEEDS to communicate with Christian about what she is feeling. AND maybe get Christian to talk about what he really NEEDS from the wedding celebration.

    And am I the only one nervous that just Ray is left with the baby? Wonder if Carla has tried to contact Ray? I could see Ray feeling briefly sorry for Carla’s missing Ana’s wedding and offering to let her see Calliope while everyone is gone. And THAT could be the opening that Mr. Conspiracy Head is looking for.

    Hopefully, though, Ray is now fully wise to Carla. But I do see her trying to weedle her way in to seeing Calliope. And I’m worried about just WHO Carla may be communicating with. I just want to know what EXACTLY turned Carla so against Christian AND the Grey family. There just seems MORE that we still don’t know.

    At least Christian and Ana now know that their security systems at the new house WERE presumably compromised. I just hope the NEW systems are not equally compromised, particularly if Mr. Conspiracy Head uses more than just ONE shell company. After all, if ONE company were compromised, he could just bounce to the next, particularly if HE made sure there were no overlaps. So MANY possibilities! And it is clear that it is SOMEONE with some business acumen who KNEW where to look for vulnerabilities!

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    1. I totally agree that maybe Christian is wanting the big wedding to force The Conspiracy out! I thought so in the previous chapter but wasn’t able to leave a comment but everyone’s right, a big wedding, is so un Christian like. Mia’s definitely being the rebellious teenager but I wonder what her reason for not talking to Christian is, especially, when she was about to on the boat. Resentment of the time distanced himself from everyone or jealousy that he’s getting married? Hmmm? What ever it is I hope she doesn’t destroy their once close relationship together or worse gets herself or someone hurt. You know she’lol be the best aunt, looking like a princess to Calliope at her ballet recitals. LOVE that Elliot and Kate are getting together. I’m curious if this is going to be the big reveal of the scar! But! Finally, I’ve got to say! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Christian when bent on showing Ana she’s his! That scene when they got to the together was
      🔥🔥🔥! I’m glad to see being parents aren’t slowing them down! 🍋 Always amazing. Thanks for the update!

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      1. I also thought that maybe Christian is using a big wedding as a bait to lure that head….coz obviously he would think Christian is a fool and would try implementing his plan

        But he is using his daughter as a bait too, nd how can he be sure when he himself isn’t sure of the security guys around him

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      2. IF Christian was determined to use the big wedding as bait, then I could see Christian secretly flying the family elsewhere (or just going to the house for an intimate wedding). I don’t see Christian ever using Ana or Calliope as bait, but Christian may really think he is strong enough to prevent an attack.

        But MIA SEES CHRISTIAN AS HER FUNDING for Juilliard. And AS SHE TOLD ANA IN THIS CHAPTER, she thinks if Christian learns of her REAL conduct, then he could refuse to pay up. So if Mia KNOWS this, then WHY is she SO WILLING to go along wtih peer pressure to this thoughtless partying which can 1) hurt her body, which she needs to CAREFULLY control with proper calorie control (which drinking does NOT help) and 2) can risk an easy injury, like a fall down the stairs. After all, Mia’s BALANCE was already compromised at the club, and she hadn’t even been there that long. Mia is taking COMPLETELY unnecessary RISKS, as we saw in her statements on the boat last chapter.

        Mia wants to have her cake and eat it too. AND she doesn’t want Christian knowing ANYTHING about her friends and activities right now. So whatever she was feeling GUILTY about last chapter, she is over it now, too afraid that revealing her REAL activities would get Christian to cut her off.

        And I get that Ana wants to show Mia that Christian is committed to having her obtain her dreams, but telling Mia that NOTHING would prevent Christian from paying for Juillard isn’t sensible either. After all, Mia is now doing things that SERIOUSLY jeopardize her safety and her willingness to succumb to peer pressure. So sending her off to Juiliard doesn’t seem like the smartest thing. She needs to be held ACCOUNTABLE in some way, and I fear her teenage rebelliousness (which, by the by, WHAT does she have to rebel against NOW? She has been given the green-light for her dreams, which she only has to earn by securing her spot at Juilliard.) will get her kidnapped, compromised or even potentially killed. OR get someone else in a tight spot in order to get her out.

        So I think Mia FEARS Christian learning about the PEOPLE she has been around, even if some of them have inexplicably disappeared without notice or cause. She was not willing to RISK Christian finding about what they were encouraging her to do, which is probably why she is keeping quiet NOW. And THAT is the most troubling thing of all!

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    2. I think the issue with Mia is that she didn’t have any eye opening moment during the trial.
      She was protected completely by the Grey’s during that time and even now she isn’t ever seen making amends for her doings…..she was naive buy still had a lottt at fault

      She is being way too selfish now and I really hope she doesn’t get any funds to go julliard from christian

      I really think ana is being too lenient with Mia as she think this rebellion is a phase of being a teenager….but this is way too much now, if Mia is really that determined to fulfill her dreams, she isn’t surely doing that through her actions
      She has been caught up in this web once and still doesn’t realises the magnitude of such situation

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  7. I have to admit I was very disappointed in Grace this chapter. She witnessed Ana’s meltdown over the wedding but seems to be turning a blind eye to it. I realize the wedding is only 2 days away but she should be taking Christian aside and trying to find out why he is so adamant that the wedding is such a circus. I agree with ToriK that there must be something more to this than what we know so far. Christian and Taylor must have a plan to draw out the conspiracy head, I just hope it isn’t anyone else’s expense. Can’t wait until next Monday!

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    1. I think that one of the reasons Christian wanted to move the wedding was that he didn’t want Ana travelling all around the world with a threat. But I can’t understand why he can’t talk with Ana about it. I mean, maybe he even doesn’t trust their security or maybe some family member (like Mia) that could lead information without their knowledge, but Ana knows how to keep a secret. so I don’t have idea. So much ideas on my mind. But what I know for sure is that this big wedding isn’t like Christian, and I can’t face the fact that even knowing that Ana would love something more intimate he wouldn’t hear about it. And the big wedding is a security nightmare! It doesn’t make sense, that’s for sure. Christian won’t defraud us with no listening to Ana now at the end, I know.

      Like

      1. I, also, wondered WHY Christian wouldn’t tell Ana. The conclusion I came up with has to do with the information revealed in this chapter. I had figured that with Gia being involved with Elliot’s construction company, security had been compromised at Christian’s new house. But REMEMBER, Elliot’s construction company ALSO worked on Christian’s OFFICE building as well.

        So listening devices are seemingly EVERYWHERE within Christian’s network. So there really isn’t a way to tell Ana, presumably, without riskin being overheard or recorded. PLUS, quite frankly, Ana would normally talk to Kate who would talk to Elliot, and as we ALL know, Elliot has been compromised before. PLUS, Ana’s reactions are perceived as genuine, because they ARE.

        So not telling Ana actually means NO ONE can gripe that Christian disclosed his plan to some people and not others. At this point, IF there is a PLAN (which I tend to think there IS), then Christian has probably told ONLY Taylor. Even LUKE may not have been told.

        This way, there IS no possible leak, especially if Christian and Taylor leave no paper trail. I KNOW Christian doesn’t want to hurt Ana in ANY way, YET he also probably has thought along the SAME lines that we have done—that Mr. Conspiracy Head will certainly reach out to Ana on her WEDDING DAY, and that it will most likely be to “present” a bloody present!

        Frightenly, Mr. Conspiracy Head has thus far seemingly stayed one step ahead. After all, Christian has to COMPLETELY undo certain security set-ups for his house, PLUS Mr. Conspiracy Head OBVIOUSLY already KNOWS the floor plan and any potential weaknesses that the house may contain. SAME for Christian’s office building. And undoubtedly Grey Construction is similarly compromised. There is no WAY to plug every weak spot instantaneously, AND just bringing in NEW contractors in no way guarantees that all of THEM are clean.

        So Christian has to come up with a plan and tell as few people as possible, including Ana, in order to prevent being overheard. IN THEORY, Christian should hopefully be able to draw Mr. Conspiracy Head out with false wedding plans.

        Christian HAS TO ACT NOW, as Ana’s book tour schedule has UNDOUBTEDLY been compromised. Even without knowing Ana’s hotel arrangements, her book stops ARE publicized. That HAS to weigh extensively on Christian’s mind—the possibility that he may fail to keep Ana and Calliope safe. AND WE CAN EXPECT Mr. Conspiracy Head to try to DESTROY Ana’s happiness over her OWN book by either publishing Elena’s book OR having “gifts” sent to book stores or directly to Ana, ESPECIALLY to let Ana know that no where is safe.

        So Christian NEEDS to act now. And putting on the SUBTERFUGE of a potentially “fake” wedding locale should either ensure the wedding’s ACTUAL location OR let Christian know JUST how much is STILL compromised.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. What’s going with Mia, does she know something and not wanting to give it up? Also this chapter was perfect I loved all of it and I feel so bad for Kate wanting to give up her dream just for Elliot but I have a feeling that she will get her dream, Elliot will change his mind and that may happen sooner rather than later, especially once he sees her scar and hears the story!

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  9. OMG i loved this chapter it had a little drama with Ana falling apart a little over the wedding. I loved it all can not wait for the wedding, but I still feel like Mia knows something and shes not telling.

    Like

  10. I’m on pins and needles. The conspiracy head has been too quiet. I don’t want Christian and Ana’s wedding day to be ruined. Why can’t Ana voice her feelings to Christian? She shouldn’t settle on her dream wedding. Maybe Kate can say something.

    What is Mia thinking? She knows there’s someone after Christian. She is still in high school but I wonder what she wanted to tell him.

    Hopefully Elliot will come around and give Kate all her dreams.

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  11. Wow, Tara, what a.chap, and we’re probably heading into another storm, that this big monster wedding leads to. Can’t believe how massive and extensive plan this big, bad head has conspired against Christian. Now I honestly come to s stage that I don’t care about who, but WHY. For whatever reason(s) s/he hold against Christian musr be really big and ugly. Why is Christian hated so much to have this person form such an evil, expensive master plan? Christian is still so young, and with only one obvious evil person, Elena, in his young life, what has he done to deserve all this evilness? Gosh! Tara, you never seize to amaze me with details and thoroughness to your entire story. Bravo.

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    1. Only ANDREW, in my opinion, fills this quota. After all, Andrew tried to HELP Christian by revealing what Elena had done to him. He then IMMEDIATELY filed for divorce from Elena, ONLY to have CHRISTIAN lie on the stand and therefore keep Elena from violating the pre-nup. SO ELENA gets HALF of Andrew’s assets, AND Andrew IMMEDIATELY saw the pay-off money be taken from him to pay-off Christian. So he KNEW that Christian LIED FOR HIS MONEY, and didn’t care AT ALL for what it did to Andrew.

      THEN, Christian ends up seemingly making nice with Elena, who helps CHRISTIAN with his company. THEN, Elena helps Christian TAKEOVER Andrew’s company, which he had spent his lifetime building. AND Andrew had meantime moved ACROSS THE COUNTRY just to get away from his former life, ONLY to have Christian fund the plane ticket for Elena to come talk ANDREW’S board members into approving the company’s sale!

      So Andrew lost EVERYTHING–his social circle and prestige, his beloved company AND at least half of his assets. AND ALL OF THIS WAS ONLY POSSIBLE because of CHRISTIAN CHOOSING TO help Elena, when Andrew had GENUINELY tried to help get christian AWAY from Elena.

      So yeah, Andrew fits the bill for someone mad enough to try to go after Christian. After all, CHRISTIAN gets the woman he loves AND gets to keep his own company that was started by CHRISTIAN’S CRIMINAL FELONIOUS actions of LYING on the stand and committing perjury. ALL just so he could get MONEY. So yeah, NO WONDER Andrew is resentful. Christian has seemingly had NO CONSEQUENCES for DESTROYING Andrew’s life!

      So BASED ON WHAT WE KNOW NOW, Andrew is seemingly the ONLY person to have to deep-seated need to want revenge on Christian AND Elena. (The only other person that lost everything from Christian’s finally going after Elena was ISAAC. But I can’t see him possibly pulling this off. He could simply attach himself to someone ELSE. But there may be some BACKSTORY for another character that WOULD provide teh motivation, if we only knew it!)

      Like

  12. A quote for Kate-
    “A big part of being in a relationship or marriage or whatever is you have to eventually compromise. Your life doesn’t end up exactly the way you think it’s going to, and if it’s the right relationship, you might have to compromise.”
    – Nicholas Stoller

    A quote for Ana-
    “Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.”
    – Jodi Picoult

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  13. yeah, somethings up with that big wedding thing…that’s not Christian, and MIa….what’s up with her….so many things to think of…..will the wedding take place? where is the stalker…..so anxious for more, but afraid for more…..

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  14. Mia has to be hiding something, maybe she’s too scared or uncertain to say it. Finally Elliot and Kate! So happy they’re back together but I really hope when Elliot finds out about the surgery, really want to know what’s stopping him from wanting kids and getting married. Hopefully he changes his mind or comes to some kind of realization. Loved the whole chapter! And I can’t wait for more next Monday!

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    1. The OTHER possibility for Mia’s actions is that she may be feeling GUILTY, having trusted the WRONG person or persons and NOW suspecting said person. BUT as we heard from Mia herself, she is AFRAID Christian will withdraw his promise to pay for Juilliard IF he knows that Mia’s actions have seemingly put Ana (and Calliope) at risk.

      So I think Mia suspects that she knows something, but she NOW thinks that she has either DISTANCED herself from a particular person or persons OR she thinks it no longer matters.

      Either way, I DO think Mia knows something, and IF HER CONTINUED SILENCE ends up putting Ana in harm’s way, then I think Mia WILL finally see Christian potentially turn against her. Mia has made some seemingly selfish choices. She was previously willing to do ANYTHING to get money for school, including working for Elena at her bar, KNOWING what Ana had done to and with Christian.

      Christian and others have said before that Mia is MORE LIKE HIM then they realize. She is even making the SAME mistakes (such as underage drinking) that a rebellious teen Christian made.

      But I am MOST CONCERNED about Mia refusing to spend time with Christian right now. That is TELLING to me. I think she KNOWS that she has potentially endangered others, OR someone has THREATENED HER OR A “FRIEND” of hers about TALKING OR BEING SEEN with Christian. Mia seems to have confidence that she would NOT be kidnapped by Mr. Conspiracy Head, and her confidence may be because she thinks she has worked out some kind of “deal” to keep HIM away.

      Any way you look at it, Mia has KNOWLEDGE of SOME sort of compromise that she fears telling CHristian of due to looking guilty, herself, in some way. And THAT worries me most.

      Like

  15. Thank god everything went well and everyone is safe but what is mia not saying. Did mia get caught up in a situation and is being extorted? Is one of her friends being information back and forth? Is someone watching Mia and she hasn’t noticed bc she’s too busy being a spoiled rich brat? Is Christian and Taylor’s team using the wedding to fish out the bad guys? So many questions floating in my head. Great stuff today.

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  16. We still have many loop holes not answered. Elena’s statement about her husband cheating and having children in the chapter when Christian and Ana went to the prison. If he cheated, you could bet that Elena knew with whom and who the child was. Could it be, Astor or Brian? I think Astor is Lincoln’s son and that is how Elena knew to use him.

    We still don’t know about why Carla turned so fast. There was a review that maybe Ray would leave Carla see Calliope. Fat chance on that one. Ray knows how Ana feels about Carla.

    Mia has so many answers and I don’t know why the security team hasn’t approached her. She worked at the club and saw many of the clients. They never tried to get the guy that attached her. I can’t believe Christian left that one slide.

    I feel so sorry for Kate. I just love your Kate and what a true friend she is to Ana and the Grey family. The secondary storyline of Elliot and Kate’s relationship is just as strong as the rest of your story. When Elliott finally sees Kate’s scar, will he realize everything that Kate gave up for him? He just doesn’t deserve this Kate. He is so selfish to me.

    The big wedding???? Have Taylor and Christian made up some plan? I just don’t see Christian wanting the big wedding. He planned the big engagement and ended up proposing when it felt right. I hope the dresses get mixed up and Ana get the dress she wants.

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    1. YES, it is the LOOP HOLES that are worrying me as well. CARLA is a HUGE loop hole that you could drive a train through, so I wonder just HOW she was contacted or made to change her viewpoint so utterly and completely against the Grey family. And I am ASSUMING that Carla was seemingly “convinced” to do what she did rather than choosing to do so on her own—after all, even Ana AND Ray acknowledged that Carla previously tried to make Ana choose HER over Ray. So THAT was always within Carla’s nature, but her seemingly turning on Grace and the rest of the Grey family is PRESUMED to be orchestrated by someone ELSE.

      But the sad thing is that Carla MAY have done all this on her own. There WAS a subtle competition going on between Carla and Grace, in Ana’s eyes, for “grandmother” of the year, and Carla may have come to believe that she would never beat the Greys unless she got them out of the picture. I WOULD RATHER believe Carla was contacted and threatened by the Conspiracy then to believe she could be THAT COLD and selfish on her own!

      BUT I THINK WE WILL SHORTLY COME TO BE GRATEFUL FOR THE TWO DRESSES! I think it is ENTIRELY within Mr. Conspiracy Head’s character to use a SERVICE PROVIDER to DESTROY one of the dresses, the way he DESTROYED LEILA’s locket and put a bloody picture of Ana in its place. WHAT BETTER WAY to show that NOTHING is beyond HIS reach then to have a slashed and bloody wedding dress delivered to the wedding locale???? So I’m anticipating that Ana may NEED a second wedding dress!!!

      Mr. Conspiracy Head has been WAY too quiet. He has had multiple chances at grabbing one or more Grey members. I’M MOST CONCERNED with Mia’s behaviors—she was seemingly feeling GUILTY about something last chapter that she has seemingly rationalized away this chapter. She HAS BEEN COMPROMISED somehow, and is in too deep to come forward to anyone. She is afraid for the CONSEQUENCES that would happen over her “friendships,” in my opinion, and she is just trying to HIDE everything.

      I think Mia is HIDING from Christian because she thinks that if she isn’t around him, then Mr. Conspiracy Head can’t USE her. She THINKS she can manage on her own. Maybe she even KNOWS that Mr. Conspiracy Head is involved, but thinks he is low-ranking and manageable OR that HE wouldn’t do anything so bad to really hurt HER (like say if it was ANDREW LINCOLN. He was the godfather to her, and she was close to him. So although SOMETHING may have clued her in that Andrew is not “happy” with Christian, she would never think that ANDREW would destroy her or her family.).

      So Mia either KNOWS or SUSPECTS SOMETHING. She knew it was relevant last chapter, but she has been silenced OR thinks she can handle it NOW. But she seemingly doesn’t trust herself to be around CHristian, as she does NOT want to be QUIZZED about her life and lifestyle choices.

      So YEAH, those LOOP HOLES are probably at the root of Mr. Conspiracy Head’s PLAN, which is WHY he hasn’t chosen to strike YET. He has a SPECIFIC PLAN in place. And THAT is what is MOST concerning—the arrogant confidence that HE has EVERYTHING covered!

      Like

  17. I think Ana should wear the dress that she loves and not care about what the paps think! So they got a look at that dress that is too heavy, I say shock them and wear the one she wants! F-K them!

    Boy oh boy did Grace want to have some fun too. Go Grace!

    Kind of figured that Ana going without panties would get her in trouble with Christian if he found out and boy did he find out. LOL And he wasn’t too pleased. Good thing he doesn’t know about the lap dance in the limo yet??? 😉 Although Ana did reap the benefits of Christian claiming her again. 😉

    What ever happened with Christian’s bachelor party that Elliott planned? Did Elliott get him a lap dancer too?

    Wait, if Kate is in bed with Elliott, he’s going to find out she had surgery. How is she going to explain the scar? Is she finally going to tell him the truth?

    What did Mia what to talk to Christian about and now she doesn’t? Does she know anything about the man that is after Ana? Had to ask.

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  18. Great chapter. I’m still not sure what’s up with Mia but it’s something for sure. Hopefully Elliott will rethink his future having Kate back and a niece to show him the joy of children. Hopefully it won’t take Kate being in danger for him to realize it. Can’t wait. Thank you.

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  19. Oh wow- Mia, what is going through your head?! And where did this Tibby come from?

    I think, maybe, Christian is planning Ana’s dream wedding… and that this big show of a wedding is a ruse… they know there are inside people giving off information. And, people all over the place dishing out information like candy on Halloween. Perhaps, Christian doesn’t want to risk information being found out. So it’s all one, big, lie. Everyone will be at the fake wedding and they will be celebrating intimately with friends and family. He is not telling Ana to avoid her indirectly telling someone some information… or overhearing her talking about the details with Kate.

    I mean, it always seems like Christian gives into whatever Ana wants… one way or another, right? So why not this too? Why wouldn’t he give Ana her desires on something so special to her?

    Cannot wait until next week… it’s the love hate relationship I have with these stories… love reading, hate waiting!

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    1. I think Christian may be EXPECTING Mr. Conspiracy Head to try something, so he may have a BACK-UP plan. By NOT telling Ana, Christian may hope to RULE OUT possible leaks. While Christian would TRUST Ana AND Kate completely, the LESS people that know, the LESS people have to be investigated to determine just WHERE a leak originated from.

      PLUS, I’m thinking Ana will have REASON soon to have had 2 dresses. After all, MR. CONSPIRACY HEAD chose ANA’S graduation as the time to reach out to her. So I figure Mr. Conspiracy Head will AGAIN choose TO CONTACT ANA on her WEDDING day AND “give” her another “GIFT,” which will be the bloody destruction of her WEDDING DRESS (with maybe Gia’s blood or a body part with it).

      That would be in KEEPING with Mr. Conspiracy Head’s TACTIC of “DESTROYING” important milestones for ANA. While Mr. Conspiracy Head is intent on bringing CHRISTIAN down, it is ANA that he reaches out to in order to psychologically throw her. There HAS to be a REASON for why he is pulling that. He sees ANA as the key to causing his OWN downfall with Christian, and it is ANA THAT HE WANTS TO POSSESS for himself in order to make Christian SUFFER the most (and maybe because he thinks Ana could have STOPPED Christian from harming HIM previously).

      Again, my ABOVE is in keeping with my psychological profile of who I think Mr. Conspiracy Head is. Only time will tell, but I DEFINITELY think Mr. Conspiracy Head will try to destroy SOMETHING special (wedding locale, wedding dress, wedding CAKE, etc.) on “the day” just to show he CAN (and to prevent Ana from having the perfect memories of her most important milestones). After all, Ana has NOW had a TRAUMATIC graduation day where overwhelming stress led to a TRAUMATIC delivery. So I’m expecting a TRAUMATIC wedding day to follow!

      BUT IF CHRISTIAN ANTICIPATES MR. CONSPIRACY HEAD’S INTENTIONS regarding the Wedding, then THAT may be the reason for a “SECRET” alternative location and plan for the perfect wedding that is actually in keeping with BOTH his AND Ana’s DREAMS.

      (AND Christian obviously potentially SUSPECTS Astor Harrington, in my opinion, OR wishes to RULE HIM OUT by placing him at the ORIGINAL SUPPOSED wedding location rather than at the ACTUAL wedding place. THAT WAY, Christian ensures his enemies are potentially where he can keep an EYE on them.)

      THE ABOVE IS MY NEW THEORY about the WEDDING that would explain BOTH CHRISTIAN’S AND MR. CONSPIRACY HEAD’s plans for the wedding date.

      Like

  20. I think Christian planned this BIG Wedding to maybe get the Conspiracy Head to show his hand. I agree, I think he’s secretly planned a more private wedding of Ana’s dreams. He knows her more than anyone and surprising her would the ultimate gift and something she’ll always remember. Every chapter makes me nervous because I feel like something is about to happen. This Conspiracy Head is very good because I still can’t think of who it could be?!
    That was one hot lemon! They definitely needed it with all the stress! I still have hope that Elliot with time will change his mind about marriage and babies but at least they’re together again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that is Christian’s EXACT plan. After all, MR. CONSPIRACY HEAD HAS CHOSEN TO REACH OUT TO ANA ON DAYS OF HER IMPORTANT MILESTONES, such as graduation. He tries to RUIN and destroy something so anticipated and hoped for by ANA.

      So I’m expecting the WEDDING LOCATION to maybe end up with GIA’S body (or parts) left at it, blood smeared on the walls or wedding decorations, etc. AFTER ALL, Mr. Conspiracy Head took LEILA’S LOCKET and put in a picture of ANA that was SMEARED with Leila’s BLOOD (AS IF TO SAY THAT ANA was at the HEART of why Leila HAD TO DIE.)

      So Mr. Conspiracy Head is reaching out to ANA and trying to provide her wtih CLUES as to his identity and need to possess/destroy HER as well as Christian. HE BLAMES ANA for not having stopped Christian, in my opinion.

      SO I EXPECT MR. CONSPIRACY HEAD to DESTROY ANA’s WEDDING DRESS. And I think Christian has DELIBERATELY INVITED his enemies or people he wants to eliminate from the Conspiracy List so that they will ALL be in one location WHERE THEY CAN BE FILMED (SUCH AS A CASTLE) FOR WHEN MR. CONSPIRACY HEAD AGAIN CALLS ANA).

      After all, Christian HAS to be expecting Mr. Conspiracy Head to REPEAT HIS PATTERN of CALLING Ana or contacting her ON HER ANTICIPATED HAPPIEST OF DAYS in order to UPSET and destroy her when she SHOULD be happy.

      Maybe I am wrong, but a STRONGER CHRISTIAN would anticipate Mr. Conspiracy Head’s graduation-day style performance to PSYCHOLOGICALLY ATTACK ANA. In PUBLICIZING this great wedding locale, that Christian had ANDREA and GEH employees secure, then Christian HOPES Mr. Conspiracy Head will show up AT THE CASTLE rather than the ACTUAL wedding location. AND IF NO ONE ELSE OTHER THAN SECURITY knows of the REAL wedding plans, then Christian and Ana can hopefully have JUST THE INTIMATE FAMILY WEDDING that they both really crave and want rather than the MEDIA SPECTACLE where the PRESS and security will hopefully CATCH MR. CONSPIRACY HEAD in the ACT of calling Ana.

      But we KNOW from this chapter that SERVICE PROVIDERS were previously used, so I’m expecting a Stephen King CARRIE-STYLED blood-dumped-on-dress type thing. Or blood in the cake. AFTER ALL, Mr. COnspiracy Head TOLD Ana that she would get a “gift” to celebrate the graduation, and it was the blood-soaked locket. SO OUR CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE EXPECTING something similar and has probably PLANNED ACCORDINGLY.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Don’t understand why Christian insists on a big white wedding when it is clear is not what Ana wants. He always gives in to her if he possibly can, or does he have plan b wedding in place? At the wedding fittings it is sad to see Ana stressed over her gown which isnt to her liking. That moment should be happiest for any bride. The gown is wearing her rather than Ana owing it. I say wear the first one which she loves. Kate is the bestest bff, love her. She’s willing to compromise for Elliot. I hope he changes his mind when he realizes the extent of unconditional love Kate has for his family, she deserves so much more. Mia, what’s up ? She’s a bratty spoilt girl. Why wont she talk to Christian and she’s ungrateful to the peeps who love and care for her. Very sexy lemons, just what they need. Look forward to more each week. Thank you, Tara, you’re amazing. Xoxo daytona

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    1. I think Christian has a PLAN B. After all, we KNOW that Mr. Conspiracy Head has previously CONTACTED ANA on her “big day” of graduating from Harvard, promising her a “gift,” which was the bloody locket. AND that stress led to the placental abruption, and Mr. Conspiracy Head probably KNEW about Ana’s need to avoid stress with her pregnancy.

      So Mr. Conspiracy Head tries to RUIN Ana’s big events AND show her that he is monitoring everything. AND we had CONFIRMED in this chapter that HE uses SERVICE PROVIDERS (dog walkers, dry cleaners, etc.) to get ACCESS and to monitor Ana, so CHRISTIAN PROBABLY ASSUMES that Mr. Conspiracy Head plans to attend the wedding AND call Ana before she walks down the aisle.

      So I’m hoping that the choice of the CASTLE is so that monitoring equipment and cameras may can RECORD Mr. Conspiracy Head calling Ana again at the event. AND I’m expecting Mr. Conspiracy Head to try and DESTROY Ana’s supposed wedding dress OR something else, maybe with GIA’S blood this time.

      So Christian may deliberately be making this supposed whole production of having this HUGE wedding AND inviting anyone he SUSPECTS would work with Mr. Conspiracy Head (such as Astor Harrington) in order to CONFINE the potential enemies in one location while the actual WEDDING occurs elsewhere. AND that way Ana can wear the DRESS she really wants AND not have Mr. Conspiracy Head destroy her wedding day in the same way he did Ana’s graduation day.

      AND if Christian doesn’t reveal his alternate plans to ANYONE, not even Ana, outside of his security force, then he would know once and for all IF his security is STILL being compromised.

      So I’m guessing that there just might be a plan in place OR a Plan B for if things go wrong. Because Christian would HAVE to know that Mr. Conspiracy Head would TRY to rain blood on this otherwise joyous occasion that is meant to be the culmination of Christian AND Ana’s dreams. Mr. Conspiracy Head wants to cause PAIN AND SUFFERING to ANA (and Christian) on days that should be important milestones to them both, so HE has to have SOME PLAN to try to DESTROY this most important day so that Ana and Christian could never look back on it without experiencing pain.

      (Which is why I am ALSO expecting Mr. Conspiracy Head to go after Ana and Calliope while Ana is on the BOOK TOUR, since that is all about Ana’s PUBLISHING dreams. So THAT is when I anticipate Mr. Conspiracy Head trying to publish ELENA’S BOOK, in order to TAKE AWAY from Ana’s book.)

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I don’t know how to feel about this chapter. I guess I didn’t really like it. I mean the only thing giving me hope is the name of the story. Cause they sure as hell are not seeming si strong right now. They’re not even married yet and Christian is already ignoring everything Ana is saying. Maybe he has his reasons for this circus he is planning but damn man it’s your freaking wedding day so how can you even think of planning anything other than the happiest day of your life?

    Kate is an idiot for giving up so much for Elliot. Let’s hope he apreciates it when she’s so depressed cause the world is getting married and having babies and she’s walking around with her goofy boyfriend as consolation prize.

    Bwahaha what can I say about Mia. Nothing really, just that I am so freaking tired of her. She is not this lovable, bubbly kid everyone seem to think she is. It’s like she is this selfish little bitch that gets away with too much. It wouldn’t surprise me that she knows more about this threat against Christian and Ana and it’s clear she doesn’t seem to care. I hope that when the time comes she is to bare the consequences for her selfishness.

    Yeah this chapter left me unsettled and really worried that instead of being stronger together they are creating more problems for themselves with these miscommunications and lack of respect for each others feelings.

    Who oh who is this super villain they seem to be facing? I’ve been breaking my head about it but dang it I can’t seem to figure it out.

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    1. My best GUESS is that Christian EXPECTS Mr. Conspiracy Head to try to destroy his wedding day, as he attempted (and succeeded) in doing to Ana’s graduation day. Mr. Conspiracy Head takes a PERVERSE PLEASURE in inserting himself on what SHOULD be some of Ana’s most important milestones.

      So I’m thinking Christian has a REASON to be planning this supposed BIG wedding production at the Castle. He EXPECTS Mr. Conspiracy Head to phone Ana on HER WEDDING DAY. And I think HE will arrange for Ana’s wedding dress to be destroyed (probably with Gia’s blood) in a Carrie-styled wedding fiasco so that Ana could NEVER look back happily towards her wedding day.

      Ana has the second dress, which is the dress she REALLY prefers, and I think she will be VERY GLAD in the end that she DOES have this back-up. AND I think Christian REALLY intends to have the small, intimate wedding, but he KNOWS it can only come about if ALL his possible enemies think it will occur elsewhere. THAT WAY, security can monitor the CASTLE and observe Mr. Conspiracy Head call Ana again.

      So I guess we now wait and see. But Christian HAS to know that the wedding would be a likely TARGET of the Conspiracy. So he wanted a BIG elaborate location AND to herd his potential enemies into this locale in order to monitor them AND keeping them from affecting that ACTUAL wedding.

      The above is MY HOPE, anyways.

      Liked by 2 people

  23. Hmmm. I didn’t see condom mentioned; did Ana just get pregnant again?

    Mia’s keeping information from Christian is really disgusting! How can she be that spoiled and selfish! And who’s this Tabitha and where’d she come from!

    Elliot’s behavior toward Callie makes me think he’ll eventually come around on having a family, and I’m glad to see him and Kate together again.

    I hope the castle and the fancy custom dress are a decoy wedding, and Ana gets to be wed in her lace gown in the Greys’ yard or on the boat.

    I keep thinking there is some undisclosed background (like Hyde in EL James’ original story) that is the reason Mr Conspiracy wants to ruin Christian. Is he Christian’s real father, but if so, why does he want to ruin Christian? What’s become of Isaac, and what’s his background? Where did Elena hide her money, and does Isaac have access to it?

    You’ve woven a great story, Tara. If this had come out as a complete book, I’d have stayed up all night to read it all the way through. I’m on pins and needles from one chapter to the next, but I don’t want to hurry it along because I don’t want it to end, although I am definitely looking forward to some of the outtakes.

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    1. I’m with you—only ONE real character meets the PROFILE to do all of this to Christian, based on what we know NOW. There is SOME BACKSTORY that we are NOT aware that has forced Mr. Conspiracy Head to feel SO PERSONALLY a need to UTTERLY DESTROY Christian and make him suffer. In my opinion, it is because Mr. Conspiracy Head feels that Christian destroyed HIS chance for happiness and success, so he wants to make Christian SUFFER. But Ana is seemingly wrapped up in this as well, as Mr. Conspiracy Head says that he KNOWS Ana personally. He EXPECTED Ana to recognize HIM, so he blames HER as well and wants to make HER suffer, too.

      I have earlier listed the possible suspects that I think that it could be, since Tara has stated that it has to be SOMEONE that has been mentioned in the story previously, as at least ONE reviewer has guessed “HIS” identity. WE JUST DON’T YET KNOW what MOTIVATED the person. So there may be a MAJOR BACKSTORY that we need down the road when HIS identity is revealed.

      And by the by, I FORGOT to at least ADD Steven MORTON to my list of potential suspects, since that MIGHT explain Carla’s about-face AND would be WHY Steven chooses to call ANA rather than Christian. Still, Steven Morton shouldn’t have this kind of ACCESS to the business world without some elaborate backstory, so I don’t think it is him.

      I STILL think Andrew Lincoln meets the psychological profile better than anyone else, BUT since there could be some OTHER backstory to explain HYDE or someone else, then it could still potentially be ANYONE that has reason to have a grudge against Christian.

      I’m dying to know if Christian potentially SUSPECTS anyone in particular at this time. He had to have a REASON to want Astor Harrington at his wedding OTHER than just to show that he “beat” him, so I’m thinking he has reason to KNOW that Astor was one of the “spies” for the Conspiracy.

      Christian has NOT come all this way and moved forward in becoming a BETTER MAN to be so petty as to JUST want Astor present at his wedding in order to gloat. So Christian has a REASON to want to get potential CONSPIRACY TARGETS at that castle. I TRUST Tara to have built a story for so long on two DECENT people that SHOULD be together, so she is NOT going to make Christian into someone that would NOT know his intended wife. Christian has ALWAYS said that he wanted to make ALL Ana’s DREAMS come true, and that would most definitely include their WEDDING.

      So MORE is going on than meets the eye. And Christian is deliberately keeping it from Ana in order to potentially spring a TRAP for Mr. Conspiracy Head, in my opinion. AND he doesn’t want to give Ana ANOTHER thing to worry about for their wedding day, so THAT would be why he hasn’t told her.

      Maybe I am wrong about the above, but there is definitely MORE going on behind Christian’s INSISTENCE on having ANDREA put down the SECURITY deposit for the castle. AFTER ALL, while I don’t WANT to suspect Andrea, she could have HELPED Christian with Leila WWWAAAAAYYYY back when because Mr. Conspiracy Head wanted her PERFECTLY placed as his ultimate coordinator at GEH. OR Andrea’s emails could have been UNKNOWINGLY hacked, and Christian would have REASON to think Mr. Conspiracy Head would be monitoring ANDREA’s orders for the wedding. THUS, Andrea unknowingly coordinates the “fake” wedding, while the REAL wedding takes placed elsewhere.

      Above all else, Christian wants to be MARRIED to Ana. The location and everything else is NOT the priority—the UNION of these two people is the WHOLE real point. So I THINK Christian is doing this elaborate ruse to ASSURE the wedding goes through the way they want it to WITHOUT Mr. Conspiracy Head being able to destroy it. AND maybe Mr. Conspiracy Head gets spotted by cameras at the castle while he tries to phone Ana.

      We have to wait and see. It is KILLING me here to have to WAIT each week for more clues rather than being able to just turn to the relevant page and JUST KNOW WHO IT IS!!!!! But this is also a lot of FUN in being able to speculate wtih OTHERS about the possibilities. So I’m enjoying the JOURNEY, although I increasingly want to go find poor Tara and chain her to a desk at a hidden location to make it available sooner!!! Stephen King could have gotten his whole Misery-storyline from the AGONIES created in having to WAIT to know what happens to your favorite literary characters.

      (I just take COMFORT in knowing that Tara has made us ALL crazy with having to wait for the REVEAL, so she would just be knowledgeable about the NEED to give us that HAPPY ENDING or risk us turning into Mr. Conspiracy Heads OURSELVES! AFTER ALL, Tara has NOW shown us all how the revenge game is done, so she just HAS to give us that Happy Ending to keep us from becoming HER worst Conspiracy nightmare!!!! Yes, yes, I’m drooling with anticipation at the happy and triumphant ending that MUST happen eventually!!!!)

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  24. I don’t know if it was mentioned before but could it be that Christian is planning this whole big production and inviting so many people to bring all possible suspects to one place together and then they actually have the private/smaller ceremony and not show up to the big one?

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  25. Big wedding plan is just a pawn to bring out the Conspiracy considering Christian made the sudden change of venue and took over the planning without letting Ana know about it in advance means he did not have a choice but do it when he unraveled more into the mystery of the Conspiracy. His team had been deeply working nonstop investigating and he did not have to let others know the findings including Ana to keep things as secret as posible to be ahead of Conspiracy this time. This is a stronger Christian and he should be ahead of the game by this time in this story. Christian must already know the involvement of Mia if his team were already able to uncover many people that were working with the Conspiracy. Maybe I am way off but what came to mind while I am writing my comments.
    I am not much of a fan of Kate’s Vegas agenda, just too risque for a billionare’s wife to be. Not a surprise Christian arrived there, Luke had to let him know before anymore indiscretion on an inebriated Ana encouraged by Kate. The punishment just intensified Ana’s need for Christian and her willingness to be owned by him. The mind blowing sex is what both needed to release all the tensions that had build up about the wedding, the book tour, the threats and all others occuring in their daily lives.
    Many theories being written but can’t wait for Monday. Thank you,Tara.

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  26. Andrew Lincoln has always seemed like the logical conspirator. He has the means, the connections, and many reasons for going after Christian.

    But what if Andrew Lincoln is Christian’s real father – and Elena suspected it back before she even had the sexual relationship with Christian. She might have somehow gotten a DNA sample from each, which proved his paternity. She then thought she’d “get even” with Andrew by having the relationship with Christian, planning to use the information to blackmail Andrew sometime in the future. That plan was ruined when Christian admitted to Andrew and his parents that they were having the relationship.

    What if Andrew and Elena now get into an argument and Elena suddenly blurts out “he’s your son.”? What would Andrew’s reaction be? Would it anger him further at Christian? Or, would he suddenly realize, what am I doing to my own flesh and blood?

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    1. WOW, Marlene – what a great theory – Especially if Andrew, through Elena’s blurting, also triggered something in Andrew to realize Elena probably knew all along and ‘groomed’ Christian until he was old enough for her to take over to her world – as you say Elena was using Christian (and by her actions, the whole Grey family) to get even. I think Andrew’s reaction would be as bad as we could possibly imagine since Elena could be responsible for him destroying and maybe even killing his own son if she hadn’t blurted it out! I would think he would then want to make Elena his new target.
      HOWEVER, I cannot keep Stephen Morton out of my head as the Conspiracy. It would, indeed, require an amazing back-story and could bring out a whole ‘can of worms’ with regard to Carla. His past treatment of Ana (and Carla) and threats made could cause Carla to do ANYTHING Stephen
      asked of her. Stephen’s name has popped in and out from time to time and I always thought he might show up again at some point.
      In any instance Tara keeps us hanging on and hanging on – excellent writing and clever twists and turns makes for almost any scenario with even the least thought about suspect. Just seems that Andrew, the most obvious suspect, may just be too obvious.
      Tara WILL deliver, I have no doubt, the most incredible reveal imaginable! Go Tara, Go!

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  27. I had a dream about this story last night and then couldn’t get back to sleep which means I am thinking about this WAY too much. 😅

    Couple things…..

    1. Mia figured out who it is and has been threatened to keep quiet in exchange for no harm coming to her parents and Elliot, and to ensure her mouth stays shut, in comes the plant, Tabitha.

    2. I also have been wondering if the Big Bad isn’t C’s birth father (a 1-time bootie call with a young prostitute gone bad?). If that’s true, I didn’t connect the dots that it could be Andrew but that makes sense. And if Elena found out? Welllllll, now…… 😎

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    1. In keeping with the “unexpected theory” approach, then STEPHEN MORTON could actually turn out to be Christian’s biological father. Ella could have fled when pregnant OR Stephen Morton turn out to be the “pimp” that kept tabs on Ella. THEN Stephen finds out that CHRISTIAN has had Ana when he was DENIED.

      After all, Mr. Conspiracy Head claims he tried to be “nice” to Ana during their acquaintance—so that implies someone she 1) worked with or 2) went to school with or 3) somehow encountered as a result of her MOTHER.

      Mr. Conspiracy Head has reached out to ANA by phone. He wants ANA to remember who he is. There is a REASON FOR THIS, we just don’t know it yet.

      So even though Mr. Conspiracy Head wants to DESTROY Christian and MAKE HIM SUFFER, he has been COMPLETELY focused on ANA and possessing and harming HER. (And obviously, he wants to hurt her in such a horrible way that EVEN ELENA finds it appalling!)

      I ALSO have always wondered WHY Elena would contact ASTOR Harrington. After all, WHY would she think he would accept the job offered to him of spying and seducing ANA? HOW could she know he would be THAT determined to hurt Christian? For Astor to be willing to do this, it shows he had a SERIOUS deep-seated need to HURT CHRISTIAN, as did Elena. And Elena said SOMETHING to convince Elena that he would help her. AND ASTOR KNEW Elena’s schedule and EVEN WHAT HOTEL SHE WOULD BE AT. I can’t help wondering if Elena had SEDUCED Astor as well. While Astor would have presumably been of age and in college when she did so, there could still be MORE to the situation that we don’t know.

      As others have said, Andrew LINCOLN appears to be the obvious choice. BUT as I have said before, OTHERS could make MORE sense if we only had their backstories.

      But Elena automatically chose to work with Mr. Conspiracy Head. WHY would she if she didn’t have SOME KIND OF HISTORY with HIM. We just don’t know WHAT that history may be yet. But for SOME REASON, Elena thought she had something on HIM that WOULD ALLOW her to take HIM down wtih Christian’s help. So that implies that HE might have been a CLIENT at the bar or someone else that Elena knew and worked with at GEH. Or even a male dominant from the club.

      So there are still MULTIPLE POSSIBILITIES out there for Mr. Conspiracy Head. I STILL can’t see it being Carter, since he partied so much and really wasn’t that suave or intelligent-appearing (AND was always losing-out to a Grey brother). But just about anyone else out there that is male is still fair game.

      WE ARE up to Chapter 41 now, which is another reason why I feel the WEDDING will hold some clues or force things to a head. Granted, Tara said ASSOF would be LONGER than the other books, but neither of the other books went past about 47. So SOMETHING should be coming SOONER rather than later. So THAT is why I feel the WEDDING is the time for something to happen OR the book tour. But the WEDDING would be in keeping with Mr. Conspiracy Head’s attempted destruction of important milestones/memories for ANA.

      But that FOCUS ON ANA as well as Christian means that HE thinks he was personally attacked or prevented from doing something because of ANA as well as Christian. So HE needs BOTH of them to suffer! So there IS a REASON for his convoluted thinking process, but we just don’t have confirmtaion yet of what that could be. But next chapter IS 41, so SOMETHING needs to be occurring. . . . (REALLY wish we could convince Tara to tell us how many chapters there will be total so that we could ANTICIPATE Mr. Head Honcho’s PLACE/PLAN of attack!!!)

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  28. LAST THING:

    Per Ana, Taylor and Christian need REAL PROOF on Mr. Conspiracy Head. So they WOULD need to lure him out some way or catch certain service providers in the act. So that seemingly IS the reason for potentially luring people to ONE location where they could be monitored by cameras.

    AND Ana tells Kate that Taylor and Christian are being TIGHT-LIPPED about their PLANS. I tend to think the obvious reason for this is to rule out ANYONE else. After all, if Ana had known anything ELSE right then, she obviously would have told Kate or even Luke. AND if there had been CAMERAS or security cameras at the place, then Mr. Conspiracy Head would KNOW what Ana knows.

    So since we KNOW that Mr. Conspriacy Head has access to SECURITY CAMERAS through bribery/payments, then it would figure that HE would MONITOR THE WEDDING service providers for intel. So ANA’S REACTIONS about the Castle location SHOW that she BELIEVES that this location is where the wedding will definitely take place.

    So Christian NEEDS a way to lure HIM out, and HE and Taylor would almost HAVE to have a plan. AND I would think Christian would WANT to lure HIM out into the open BEFORE Ana and Calliope leave for the book tour. SO SOMETHING is fixing to happen, in my opinion.

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  29. Such late review! I have read and re-read in an attempt to possible understand if I missed any clues regarding Mia attitude. Initially I just thought she was being an out of control teenagers. Now I’m so afraid that something terrible has happened/or will happen to her. I truly believe that she’s been used by someone to gained information. Based on Mia behavior and the facts that she’s avoiding Christian. Mia’s well aware of what’s going on and the potential danger it could bring to the peoples she loves.

    This brings me to my second thought. When Mia was discovered by Ana working for Elena at the club to earned money to finance her schooling (Julliard) . Ok even prior to that I think Mia made a comment that she could ask Elena for the money knowing that Elena had given Christian his start up money. For the life of me I never really understood Grace or Carrick decisions not to support their children on their dreams. That even had a second chance with Mia to correct that mistake, yet they failed again. So Mia might have made some horrible decisions and now she’s unable to correct those decisions because it’s too late. I could be reading to much into the story but something has caught her attention and it’s not good.

    I read some of the reviews about the wedding. I think we will just have to wait and allow that to play out. As I’m sure Tara will have a big reveal for all of us. Because I can’t see Christian waiting for Ana for two years without having any intimacy with another woman because he craved the love of Ana. Although I know without a doubt that he will lay the world at her feet
    Why would all of a sudden discount her dreams peoples?
    I will just skip the rest of the comments on the wedding because I was very uncomfortable reading some of the reviews about Christian basically stealing her dreams. I will say this. Christian T. Grey will risk his life to protect Ana and Calliope.

    I always knew that Kate and Elliott loved each other. Yes we read the conversation with Ana and Kate on what she was willing to give up for Elliott. Yes it was a hard read. And we at point has no ideal what happened or if any additional conversation took place before they decided to try again. Lets just allow that information to unfold.

    As always Tara thank you.

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  30. I’ve said before it could be that Brian dude, but motivation, money and power are questionable, hence I am at a loss of who this guy could be. Jose comes to mind but again money, power and influence, where would he get that from?
    Just like in the original and other portrayals of the Grey’s in general for a smart and wealthy family they have to be the most stupidest bunch. While Carrick was justifieably angry with Christian his own pig headedness pretty much served Mia up to Elena and for a smart lawyer pretty dumb because he wants what some stupid legacy to make his world turn! Grace she’s a paediatrician she’s trained to know the signs of abuse and you would think after everything with Christian she’d get her head out of her arse and actually discipline Princess Mia who has shown to be nothing more then a spoilt, egotistical, selfish brat who might be book smart but would not survive in the real world for a day without someone wiping her arse. Without being offensive perhaps Grace needs to stop worrying about making sure Christian and Ana have a a good old catholic marriage and mind her damn business in terms of whether or not Christian and Ana baptise Calliope as Ana in her own head monologue didn’t seem to keen on the idea. I know this is what does families in -the meddling of in laws etc like giving Ana that Christening gown which basically makes the point I want my granddaughter to be catholic, not your call Grace you’ve had your chance to choose and raise your kids now let them raise their own, also what about consideration perhaps for Ana’s beliefs? Maybe Grace should stick to parenting her wayward teenage daughter who has obviously shown to have a track record of deceitfulness, stubborn behaviour and acting like a 2 year old when she doesn’t get her own way. Yes, we were all teenagers once and drank and smoked weed ect but Mia get a clue after everything that has happened to your brother and your Dad just recovering from Cancer pull your head in. And as much as Mia annoyed the crap out of me especially in some of the insensitive comments she’s made about having sex with older women and how old Christian was when he lost his virginity in front of Ray, ditching her security is just completely Grace and Carrick responsibility. It’s like have you learnt nothing? Even ifthis Tibby character is a spy – again Mia pull your head in. Or is Mia so desperate for affection and attention she will shack up with anyone that gives her the time of day. Again Carrick and Grace parenting skills not really glowing in my opinion. It seems time in and time out Grace just wants to baby Mia and hope it will go away because she wants to be the friend parent. Maybe stop being a doyenne of society and parent your kids might be time better spent.

    As for Elliot I can imagine it was hard for him to be in the middle and go between for Christian before his affair with Elena and after the fallout after what Christian did that divided the family and Elliot being Christian’s one source of contact with his family. I can fully understand why he may as he put it felt exhausted of the idea and responsibility of marriage and children and you know as much as this version of Kate is less annoying then some she perhaps she needed to be less presumptuous about him proposing in Hawaii and while I feel her qpain you can’t force someone to want marriage and kids just because you assume 3 years equates to a ring, babies and a white picket fence. However, Ellitot for as much as he has been a rock he is very immature, with the constant toilet wolfwhilste humour but when Carrick was sick he was so insensitive about expecting the wife whose husband had died for the organ transplant to just turn off the machines. I get he’s your dad and you want to fix him but he lost points with me over that with his behaviour. Also with Gia as much as I couldn’t stand her and to everyone but blind Freddy it was obvious she was looking to bag Christian I don’t think she was actually in the know as a plant in th conspiracy (perhaps in directly) I think she was an opportunist but did perhaps come to her senses that Elliot was indeed well off obviously not in Christian’s league of wealth but a good bloke who would treat her right, but the way he behaved in front Ray of his suspected infidelity of Gia was so immature and If I were Ana I would have been mortified by his behaviour her Dad just returning from Iraq and this is when Elliot thinks is a good time to have a light bulb moment!? If Kate is willing to give up marriage and babies to be with Elliot the it’s her decision not everyone”s path to happy relationship ends with those things though I suspect Kate will end up pregnant at some point and Elliot will of course love it. I mean just because your college sweethearts doesn’t always mean forever and I suspect Gia was exactly what she was the rebound but again Elliot was immature to just expect everyone to just love Gia and again as much as I hated Gia he was a bit of a dickhead towards her I don’t blame her for losing it at him. Getting married to the wrong guy and having kids is just as bad a move as any, but her decision she’s a big girl after all.

    For some real reason I think they will get married in Vegas as tacky as it is in someways it holds so much sentimental reasons. I think it would be kinda nice and maybe this big aesed weddkg is a ploy to fish people out because I think deep down Christian is very in tune with Ana and what would be an ideal wedding for them as a cpouple. Perhaps not a great idea to keep Ana in the dark but maybe this will change.

    Also, my comments thoughts are just that as I think you’re a brilliant writer and we all need drama and for someone to do stupid things otherwise it be a boring story otherwise. These are just my thoughts on the characters and their behaviours. Again I wait for your next instalment with much anticipation.

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  31. I don’t think Ana should give up on her idea of a wedding. i personally think christian has some motive behind the whole lavish wedding because he usually can read through Ana’s facade easily. I was really hoping Kate would fall in love with Carter or Elliot would open up to the idea of having a family. Atleast she’s happy.

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