Chapter 41

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I stand silently, watching Kate pull Ros’s dress out behind her. Once she’s perfect and assured she won’t trip over the silk train of her dress, she reaches out to take Luke’s arm and they disappear through the doors down the long aisle. Elliot moves to stand in the place they’ve vacated and holds his elbow out for Kate, but she holds up a finger for him and turns back to me.

“Are you ready?”

I nod, or at least I think I do. I can’t feel anything. But she smiles at me all the same before turning back to Elliot, hooking her hand through his outstretched arm, and moving out into the gardens to the slow melody of Pachelbel’s Canon.

I wait, shaking, until the final notes from the lavish string quartet die out and I hear the first droning tones of Wagner’s traditional wedding march begin. With a breath I hope fills me with courage, I take a step forward and the eyes of hundreds of people turn to face me. Several cameras raise up into the air, pointed directly at me, waiting to catch any slip up or fall so they can feed the hungry media machine that has focused all of it’s attention on this day. Under their expectant gaze, I freeze.

I can see Christian at the end of the aisle, but he looks so far away. My knees feel weak and my body won’t stop trembling… I have no idea how I’m going to make it to him. Someone near me coughs, urging me to start walking so I lift my foot and try to pull myself forward, but I can’t. It feels as though something is holding me back, and as I struggle against whatever force is holding me in place, I realize it’s the dress. No matter how hard I struggle, I can’t seem to drag it down the aisle and as I look up at Christian, I realize he’s somehow gotten farther away.

After what feels like an eternity of me stuck in place, one of the people from the endless rows of chairs stands, and for a moment, I think they’re going to help me get down the aisle. But then another person stands, and another, and as they all begin flowing into the aisle, they surround me. Crowding me. Touching me and still moving closer and closer… I scream for them to stop, but the continue to pack into the space around me, tighter and tighter until it feels like I can’t breathe. I can no longer hear the music, I can’t see Christian, and I can’t move. I’m suffocating, and just as I think I’m going to pass out, I feel a pair of cold hands wrap around me from behind, covering my mouth so I can’t scream.

“Gotchya!”

 

I wake with a start, shaking and panting heavily to try and catch my breath. The light in the room is muted gray as the first hint of dawn creeps through the windows of mine and Christian’s bedroom, telling me the day has finally come. My wedding day. The happiest day of my life, and yet, I’m filled with dread.

I let out a long, steady breath, trying to quell my nerves as I look at the place in the bed next to me, but they’re only heightened when I find it empty. Christian, of course, isn’t supposed to be there. He stayed with his parents last night so he wouldn’t see me today until I walk down the aisle. But Kate, she should be here. She was when I fell asleep…

I peak over at the bathroom door and find there’s no light streaming out beneath it, but as the residual fear of my dream sends me into full blown panic mode, I notice that her phone and the charger next to the bed are gone, along with the bag she left against the wall. Best guess, she snuck away in the night to be with Elliot.

It isn’t a surprise. Ever since we got back from Vegas, they’ve been inseparable. Literally, as I’ve barely seen her face over the last 24 hours because it’s remained constantly attached to Elliot’s. In the span of one night, they’ve somehow let everything from the past go and instantly fallen back in love. I suppose the way I did with Christian, which just makes me feel guilty for being annoyed that she didn’t stay the whole night with me. I want to be happy for her, and I am. I want her to enjoy this time reconnecting with the man she truly loves, but right now… I need her to be here. I need my best friend to talk me down and tell me that everything is going to be wonderful today because, right now, I don’t feel like it’s going to be. But instead, I’m alone.

I glance over at Calliope, sleeping soundly in her bassinette, and then climb out of bed. I’m hoping some fresh air may help calm my nerves, so I pull my thin silk robe from the bathroom, wrap it around me, and step out onto the balcony. The morning breeze is warm and filled with the scent of the ocean from the sound, but the tranquility I find in that is dashed when I look over the metal railing at the street below and find a hoard of people already waiting on the sidewalk for me to leave Escala and make my way to Lakewood. There are lights set up in the street for reporters, which seems to be causing a traffic jam, adding to the number people surrounding me. Closing me in.

And so the circus begins.

With a huff, I turn around and storm back inside, but when I slam the door behind me, the glass quakes and the noise wakes Calliope.

“Fuck,” I hiss, then rush to her bedside. I try to calm her with sweet words as I ease her from her bed and into my arms, but she continues to scream until I carry her out to the kitchen, where we find Gail making coffee.

“Oh, Ana! It’s here, it really finally here!” she cries when she looks up and sees me holding my screaming baby. I try to smile, but I think it’s more of a grimace. Thankfully, my lack of response goes unnoticed because she turns to pull some stored breast milk from the refrigerator to heat up, and Luke comes up along the side of the counter. He looks exhausted as he brushes his hand over Calliope’s head and then moves to pour himself a mug of coffee.

“How are you feeling this morning?” he yawns.

“Anxious. Are you okay? You look beat.”

He yawns and nods again. “I’ve been up for a few hours helping Taylor coordinate everything for the wedding. The whole team’s on it to make sure we don’t have any surprises, and… there’s just a lot of moving pieces. I just got off a call with your groom to go over the plan for today.”

“Thank you, Luke,” I say gratefully. “For everything. You’re the best bridesman a girl could ask for.” He chuckles and then leans over to kiss me on the cheek.

“They’ll be here soon to start on your hair and makeup. Until then, I’ll be in Taylor’s office if you need me.”

I smile as he pulls away, and then reach across the counter to take the bottle Gail has prepared for Calliope.

“Can I fix you anything to eat, dear?” she asks.

I shake my head. “I don’t think I can eat…”

“I’ll get you some fruit. It’s too big of a day to go through on an empty stomach.” She beams at me again before turning for the fridge and I carry Calliope over to the sofa and flip on the news to watch while I feed her. The newscasters are just changing segments from the weather, which promises to be another perfect summer day, to their top story, coverage of the Grey Wedding. My stomach clenches as a voiceover guides me through my entire past, including interviews with several people from Montesano who give insights to the person I was growing up. As they talk about my acceptance to Harvard, the narrative changes to my relationship with Christian, and the countless headlines that have followed us over the past year, including clips from the interview we did last summer. They splash pictures from our engagement announcement across the screen, along with video clips from the GEH gala we attended on New Year’s Eve, then breeze through the kidnapping attempt to talk about my dramatic delivery.

The segment ends with a statement provided by Christian, which is put up on the screen while the voiceover reads it aloud, and then we go to a live feed from Thornewood Castle, where the on-site reporter gives in depth details about everything they know. My dress. The cake. The flowers. The guest list, which includes Seattle’s most notable names. There’s a countdown clock in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, ticking away the hours left until the ceremony begins, and for some reason, it feels like I’m watching on a bomb that’s going to detonate and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Bile rises into my throat while I watch the live feed of Kommer and Ryan stopping a van trying to enter the gates, checking their credentials before waving them through, but just as I fear I’m going to have to run from the couch to throw up, the elevator pings behind me.

I swivel around, hoping it’s Kate, but it isn’t. Still, I feel an equal sense of comfort and relief when I see my father walking towards me. He’s already dressed in the handsome black jacket and blue slacks that make up his military dress uniform and I smile at him as he hands me a to-go cup of hot tea from my favorite coffee shop around the corner.

“Thank you, Daddy.”

“Of course, sweetheart. I don’t get to do much today, the least I can do is comfort you the best way I know how. How’re your feet? Toasty warm?”

I suck my bottom lip into my mouth and shake my head. “No. I think I’m about to have a nervous breakdown. I don’t know if this is normal nerves or not, but I feel like I’m going to fall apart. Daddy… I don’t know how I’m going to do this.”

He laughs. “The morning I married your mother, I forgot how to put socks on. I spent twenty minutes staring at them like I’d never seen a sock in my life. It’s perfectly natural to be nervous, baby girl. This is a big day. Your whole life is going to change. But this is what you want, right?”

“Yeah,” I reply hesitantly, trying to hide my shaking hands in Calliope’s blankets. “Yeah, you’re right. It’s just nerves.”

He takes a deep breath and puts an arm around me. “Can I ask you something uncomfortable?”

I look up at him, waiting for him to ask me if I’m having doubts about spending the rest of my life with Christian. Thankfully, that is the one thing about today I am absolutely sure I about. If I could some how make everything about this wedding disappear except for the two of us, I’d be fine. Elated even. It’s everything else that has my stomach churning.

“Are you maybe regretting your decision not to invite your mother?” he asks.

I’m taken aback for a moment, surprised by the question, then scoff. “No. Absolutely not. After what she did to Christian, for she put him through… I want nothing to do with her.”

“She called me this morning.”

“I’m sorry.” My tone is blunt and it makes him frown.

“She wanted me to wish you luck, and tell you that she loves you. She calls me a lot now to ask about you, and Calliope. She really misses you, Ana.”

“Well, she should have thought about that before she tried to ruin the lives of everyone I love. I don’t trust her, Dad. She lost that, and I have no room for people in my life who I can’t trust.”

He nods and grips my arm with the hand still draped over me. “That’s fair. I get it, Annie. I know why you’re angry and I respect your decision to keep your distance. I just want you to know that if a time ever comes when you’re not angry anymore, or you miss your mom, she’s waiting for your call. She’d pick up now if she’s the one you really need to talk to…”

“No. I have nothing to say to her.” I feel a dry sting in my throat that precedes tears, but I quickly swallow to push it down. I’m having enough anxiety today without worrying about my mom.

“Ana,” Luke calls from the foyer. I turn and watch him punching the code into the elevator keypad that will unlock it for anyone who doesn’t have a master code. “Your beauty crew or glam squad or whatever ridiculous word Kate uses is here.”

“Thanks, Luke.”

“Here,” my dad says. “I’ll take the baby. You just relax and enjoy what you can of this day, okay? It’s just one day, baby. And then, you have forever.”

“Thanks, Daddy.” I hug him, and then shift Calliope into his arms before taking a long pull of my tea and getting off the couch to meet the team of people hired to make me beautiful.

 

It feels as though everything turns to chaos the moment the wedding preparations begin. Between being pulled this way and that way, poked and prodded, baked under hot rollers, and choked over too much hairspray, my phone starts ringing off the hook. My dad and Luke try to field most of the calls coming in, but there’s only so much they can do without my approval. They’re not comfortable making hard, fast decisions for me, the way Kate would, and while my make-up artist begins painting over my face, I find myself desperate to have her here with me again.

Where is she?

While I’m having my nails done, the only thing I have to listen to is the panicked buzzing of everyone around me or the continued coverage of my wedding on the TV, both of which just cause my anxiety to mount even higher. My mouth feels dry, my entire body is tingling, and I can’t seem to form coherent thoughts or focus on any one thing with real clarity. Anytime anyone comes to speak to me, it feels as though they’re talking at me, in another language, and while I’m trying to decipher what the woman doing my nails is asking me, there’s a sudden flurry of movement behind me, towards the window.

I turn and see a K5 news helicopter circling the building. There’s a camera pointed directly at our apartment so Luke instructs anyone with free hands to bring in the decorative screens form the billiard room to hide any view of me getting ready from the windows. I lower my head into my arms over the table where my nails are drying but until I’m fully shielded again, it feels as though I’m stuck inside a glass fishbowl and the walls are closing in around me. While the strange tingling sensation increases throughout my entire body, I wonder if this is what it feels like before you have a heart attack.

Finally, when I get out of my chair and one of the stylists starts placing flower pins into my hair, I’m alerted to the sound of the elevator and I turn to see Kate walking through the foyer, followed by Grace and Mia, all carrying their dress bags.

“Oh my god, Ana!” Kate cries, skipping across the great room. “You look so beautiful!”

I gawk at her. “Where were you?”

“Oh, um… Elliot and I–”

I shake my head, and her words cut off. “Katie, I-I…”

“Miss Steele?” It’s our photographer, and he gestures with his head to Kate, Mia, and Grace. “We’re running a little behind schedule. If I could have the three of you change so we can get some pictures?”

“Oh…”

Kate beams and takes me by the hand, pulling me back towards the bedroom where Luke has left my dress. But as I’m lead through the halls, I feel almost as though I’m in a daze. I think I may have missed my opportunity to have a real one-on-one with Kate this morning and I really needed it. This isn’t normal nerves, I can’t trick myself into believing that no matter what the people around me say. And now, not even having Kate with me is making me feel better. I’m too deep into this. Or maybe my best friend just isn’t enough right now.

I need Christian.

If I could just see him for one minute, have him hold me, and remind me what I’m doing all of this for, I could be okay. I’ll be fine. I just need to see him.

“Okay,” Kate says once we’re in the bedroom. “Mia, will you help me with Ana’s dress please?”

“No, wait!” I stop her. “Kate, can you call Christian for me and ask him to come here? I need to see him for a second.”

“Ana, he can’t see you before the wedding!” she chirps, still too overly excited and happy to really read my current panic.

I shake my head. “No, Kate, please. Call him. Right now. Please call him.”

That makes her take notice, and I watch the worry slowly spread across her face. “Ana he’s… he’s already gone. He went to the venue early, he’s there waiting for you.”

My stomach clenches, and I feel winded. I place my hand over my chest, trying to calm my racing heart, and she wraps an arm around me.

“We’ll be there soon. We’ll get you in your dress, take some pictures, and be on our way. You can see him once we get there, okay?”

I nod, but don’t feel the conviction behind the sentiment. “Fine, I just need a second, okay? You just… get dressed first. Please.”

“Okay.”

Grace takes her dress upstairs to change, which I expect is partially because she’s secretly searching for Calliope, but both Kate and Mia strip down right in the middle of my bedroom and pull their dresses from their respective bags.

I didn’t get to be there for Kate’s final fitting so I’m initially much more concerned with her dress. It’s long, made of fine shimmery silver silk that catches the light beautifully, and thankfully the fit is perfect. It hugs her body in a way that reminds me of my original wedding dress. She looks perfect, so I turn to examine Mia.

She’s not a bridesmaid, but as family, Christian wanted her to have something special to wear as well. Her dress, also silver, is a much more simple silhouette than Kate’s, but as I watch her change, it’s not the dress that catches my attention. In her side, just below her ribs but stretching all the way down to her hip bone, is a cascade of very notable deep red lines.

Suddenly, the fog of my anxiety is pushed aside and I’m able to think clearly for the first time today. I leap from my chair and reach Mia in two long strides, then yank the dress back down around her waist and lean in to examine her body. From this close, I can see that the lines in her skin aren’t just from clothes pressing too tightly into her body and leaving marks or even scrapes.

Cutting. It’s definitely cutting.

“Amelia, what is this?”I breathe in shock.

“Uh, n-nothing,” she stutters, hurriedly trying to cover herself with the dress again. Kate walks over to see what the fuss is about and when she lays eyes over unhealed slits in Mia’s skin, her mouth falls open in disbelief.

“Mia…”

“What is this, Mia?” I demand. “Did you do this to yourself?”

“No, it’s just a scratch. I fell during rehearsal, it’s nothing.”

“This is not a scratch, they’re perfect lines. This was done on purpose, with a razor blade. You did this, didn’t you? Why would you do this?” She doesn’t answer, so I turn her towards me, forcing her to look into my eyes, and grip her tightly by the arms. “Mia, what is going on with you?”

“It’s nothing, Ana.”

“Mia…”

“It’s nothing! I’m fine!” She worms out of my grip, letting her dress fall to the floor, then sprints into the bathroom and locks the door closed behind her. I mash my lips together and storm after her, pounding my fists against the door.

“Amelia Grey, open this door right now.” She doesn’t answer. “So help me, Mia, I will have Luke come in here and take this door off the fucking hinges, open the goddamn door!”

“Easy there, Christian…” Kate scolds me, coming up behind me and placing a hand on my shoulder. “You know you’re not going to get anywhere if you yell at her. She doesn’t respond to that”  I take a breath, push down the surface anger, and gently rest my head against the door.

“Mia, come out please,” Kate tries, but even with her soft, encouraging tone, the door remains closed.

“Mia… I’m sorry for screaming at you,” I tell her. “You just mean so much to me. I love you very much, like my own sister, and I just want to know what’s going with you so I can help you. I know something is wrong. I’ve seen a change in you since I’ve been home, a big one. You’ve been acting out, taking risks you know you shouldn’t, putting yourself in harm’s way, avoiding your family… It was all fun and games when it was jet skis and jumping over the side of yachts, but ditching security in Vegas and now hurting yourself is taking this to a dangerous level. I think you’re crying out for help and I want you to know that I can hear you, and I can see you. I’m here, Mia, and you know that I love you and I would do anything for you. I want to help. Please, just open the door and talk to me.”

I wait for a beat of silence, and then the door opens. She stands there in the open doorway with tears rushing down her face, then throws herself into my arms. I catch her and hold her tightly against me, dragging my hand softly over her back as I rock her back and forth.

“Why are you cutting yourself, Mia?” I ask again.

“To punish myself,” she sobs. “I deserve it, Ana. I hate myself.”

“I don’t know how you could.” I pull her back. “Not with how much we all love you. Tell me what happened.”

“Everything is my fault. If I hadn’t been so selfish last year and never agreed to work for Elena, none of this would have ever happened. If I would have never ran away, if you hadn’t found me, if no one ever found out… it’s all my fault, Ana.” She covers her body again, her hands shaking, and breaks down into tears again. “So many people have been hurt, and it’s all my fault.”

“Mia, no…” I pull her into me as she sobs. “Hey, stop. You’re not a bad person. You got caught up in something too big for you, and you made bad choice, but no one was hurt because of you. You did the right thing when you told the truth, I promise.”

“No… I really didn’t.”

“Yes, you did.” I can hear the plea in my voice as I will her to believe me, but it doesn’t have any effect on her. I hadn’t realized how much what happened last summer affected her, she’s been so well composed… but as I think through the last few months, I realize that might not be true. We’ve all just been so distracted by what’s going on in our own lives. My pregnancy, Carrick’s cancer, the omnipresent threat of whoever is after us, it’s all overshadowed her. Hell, now that I think about it, I think she even tried to reach out to me. Back when she tried to tell me about how much losing Kate as someone to talk to had devastated her. She needed to talk, and instead of just filling that space and right then and there telling her that I was there for her, I just tried to reassure her about her place in Kate’s life. I let her down. We all did.

“Jesus, I’m so sorry, Mia. I didn’t realize how much what happened traumatized you. But of course it did. You were attacked, violated… I know better than anyone what that feels like. We should have put you in therapy. I don’t know why we… Fuck, I’m so sorry, Mia. We will, okay? Once the wedding is over, we’re going to get you some help, someone to talk to. You’re not alone. You’re not a bad person. We love you. You know that, right?”

She bites her lip and shrugs, so I reach up and brush a tear away from her cheek.

“I do. I really do.”

“I love you too, Ana,” she says. “I’m sorry I’m ruining your day too.”

“Are we ready?” We all turn and watch Grace breeze into the room, but when I release Mia and turn towards her, her eyes too fall on the marks in Mia’s skin, and, as she realizes what they are, her face goes from rosy, to white, then to green.

“Oh my god, Mia…”

I stand aside and let Grace come examine her daughter. She’s a doctor, so she should know how best to deal with this. We can talk later about what she’s said to me and getting her in therapy. Christian will make sure that happens as soon as possible. Hell, maybe even tonight…

As Grace takes Mia out of the room so they can talk, Kate pulls me back to my dress. But while I look at it, hanging there, I immediately feel my muscles tighten again, the anxiety doubled now because of my added guilt over Mia. Fuck, how did this all become such a mess.

“Ana?” Kate says, trying to get my attention. I turn to look at her, and she brushes a tear away from my cheek that I didn’t even know was there. “Mia’s going to be fine, you don’t have to worry about her right now. It’s your wedding day. Let’s get you ready, okay?”

“Okay,” I breathe.

I stand as still as possible as Kate ties me first into the corset, then the multiple layers of petticoats. As she ruffles the skirts, I close my eyes and try desperately to escape to my happy place. Somewhere where there’s no media frenzie, or gigantic over the top wedding, or crazed psychos who could jump out of the shadows at anytime and send this all crashing to the ground… The bedroom on the yacht with a cool ocean breeze floating in through the open windows, the suite at the Fairmont Olympic where Christian and I spent Valentine’s Day, a cozy bed and breakfast tucked away in the snowy forest of Vermont. All places where it’s just Christian and I. Alone.

Imagining each place help immensely to calm my racing heart, until Kate asks me to lift my arms, and I feel the weight of the dress as she slides it over me. Once the buttons are all done up in the back and Kate steps away to admire the full picture, something inside of me feels as though it breaks and I lose all pretense of holding it together.

It’s like I suddenly can’t breath. The weight of the dress is crushing me, suffocating me, pulling me back into my nightmare from last night. My skin feels like it’s on fire, like I’m burning alive inside the dress, and I can’t take it.

“It’s perfect, Ana,” Kate smiles. “You look-”

“Take it off,” I cry out.

“What?”

My hands reach back for the buttons but I’m too panicked to summon the dexterity necessary to get the dress off. “I can’t breathe, please take it off. Take it off. Get it off of me!”

Kate moves as quickly as possible and starts to undo all of the buttons while I break down into tears. When it’s finally unfastened and pools into a cloud of lace and silk at my feet, I crumple to the floor and sob.

“Ana… you’re shaking. What’s wrong?”

“I can’t do this, Kate. I can’t. I want to, but I can’t.” I bury my hands in my face as I cry and Kate wraps her arms around me. “What do I do? Help me, Kate, please. You have to tell me what to do. This isn’t what I want. It’s too much, this is all too much. I don’t want the castle or the gardens or the grand ballrooms. I don’t want to pose and smile for the media and I don’t want to have hundreds of people I don’t even know staring at me while I vow to spend the rest of my life with the man I love. I can’t do this!” I collapse into her and my entire body shakes as the gut wrenching sobs work their way out of me.

“Then don’t…” she whispers at last.

“Don’t?” I repeat, looking up at her with confusion.

“Don’t. You don’t have to do this, Ana. It’s not supposed to be like this. You’re not supposed to feel like this on your wedding day. I mean, look at you.” She swallows. “Is it just the wedding?”

“What do you mean?”

“I just want to be sure that it’s the wedding… that you’re not changing your mind. About… Christian.”   

I shake my head. “Don’t be ridiculous, Kate.”

“Okay, this is easy then. We just forget about the wedding and we do this a different way.”

“I can’t just leave him at the alter. I could never do that to him.”

“Then what do you want to do?”

“I want to marry him.”

I take several deep breaths, letting each of them out in slow, controlled gusts, and then reach for the dress again. But as I try to pull it up over my body, I start to hyperventilate.

“Okay, no. We’re not doing this,” Kate says, and she starts tearing out the ribbon on the back of my corset. Once I’m completely stripped down, she goes to my dresser, pulls out a pair of sweatpants and Christian’s Harvard t-shirt, and tosses them to me.

“We’re going to go on a drive. Get away from the crowds and the media and everything to do with the wedding. When you’re ready and only when you’re ready, we’ll get you married.”

“Okay,” I agree. I start to get dressed and Kate calls Luke into the room so he can put Calliope in her carseat while she makes sure we have everything else we need. There are several protests from everyone in my apartment as Luke and Kate lead me through the great room, but they’re ignored and even the small amount of control I feel just being able to say no to someone feels liberating. Though perhaps not as much as the elevator doors closing and drowning out all of the noise behind us.

Thankfully, with the Rolls Royce Phantom Christian reserved to take me to Thornewood waiting out front, none of the photographers are watching the garage. We decide to take Luke’s car, as it’s less recognizable than either mine or Kate’s, and once Calliope and I are covered in the backseat, Luke is able to sneak us out undetected and drive off towards the highway.

I stay down as long as possible, which ends up being all the way to Edmonds, where, to my surprise, we board a ferry. Once we’re aboard, Luke takes Calliope to walk her around the deck while Kate moves me to the front seat and tries to fix the damage I did to my hair and makeup during my breakdown. Thankfully, she’s as good as she is because when I saw myself in the mirror for the first time after we stopped, I thought there was nothing that could be done. Once she’s finished though, I’m as good as new. If I can just find a sense of peace about this whole thing, then once we get back to Lakewood, I should be able to just slide into my dress and make my way down the aisle, no one the wiser of our little detour. However, right now, that still seems like a big if.

“Distract me, please. Talk to me about work or Elliot or something.”

“Okay, um… well, he knows about the surgery.”

“What?”

“Yeah, when had sex in Vegas, he saw the scar. I tried to play it off as a souvenir from that ski accident Christian told your family that I got in, but he spent too much time taking care of Carrick last spring to fall for that. He knew right away.”

“Oh my god, what did he say?”

“A lot. He had like… a full on breakdown over it. He said he couldn’t believe that I would do that for his family when I didn’t have to, when we weren’t even together anymore. He said if he would have known, things would have been a lot different and he wouldn’t have been with Gia as long as he was, but I told that’s exactly what I was trying to avoid. I wanted him to be with me because he loves me, not because he felt obligated. And then he told me that he never stopped loving me and he never would. He promised that he was in this for good and… I believe him. It’s not a marriage proposal but it’s a promise for forever. And in the end, that’s all I ever wanted from him. Forever.”

I nod. “If that’s what’s going to make you happy, then I’m happy for you.”

She smiles and then looks up while a disembodied voice announces our arrival in Kingston just as Luke appears around the other side of the car and begins to put Calliope back in her carseat.

I take a deep breath and look at Kate again. “So, are you going to tell the rest of the Greys?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. But today is about you, and your dream coming true. It’s your day, Ana, now sit back, relax, and just remember that in just a few short hours, you’re going to be Mrs. Christian Grey and the two of you are going to live happily ever after.”

I smile. “Thank you, Kate.”

 

For the most part, we drive in silence. I think it’s because Luke and Kate are trying to give me the opportunity to give myself a little pep talk in the back seat, but what it really affords me is the chance to stare at Calliope and play with her in her car seat. Nothing has been more reassuring up to this point and I think that’s it’s because the eyes that stare up at me in wonder are also Christian’s eyes. Finally, through our daughter, I feel some kind of connection to him, and the love I feel as I stare down at her and kiss her cheeks and play with her tiny little fingers is exactly the reminder I needed. Just one moment to feel the love that is worth everything in the world to me.

We’re on the 101 North, which loops all the way around the peninsula, so I assume that’s the plan to get us back to the wedding venue. I even have a passing thought that I may be able to draw the final bit of strength and confidence I need when we drive past Montesano, but as we reach the curve in the road that will start to take us south through Forks and down along the Pacific coast, Luke makes an unexpected right turn.

“Wait, where are we going?” I ask. “You need to go south…”

“We’ll get you to your wedding, Ana,” Kate assures me from the front seat. “There’s just something you should see first. Something to put all of this into perspective for you.”

“Um, Kate… I’m sure whatever you have planned is great, but we’re going to be late. We barely have enough time to make it there as it is…”

“Don’t worry,” Luke says. “They’ll wait for you. It’s not like the wedding can go on without you.”

I frown and look up at the passing road sign. The longest possible town is only 35 miles away, which makes sense as we should be hitting the ocean soon, so I decide to just text Christian and let him know that I’m on my way. Unfortunately, we’re in the middle of the forest so I don’t have any service, and that doesn’t improve when we start winding along the coast, so I never get the chance.

The speed limit slows as we drive through each tiny little fishing town along the way, and everytime I look at the clock, I feel my nerves spike again. Over and over, I tell them that I’m fine, I’m ready, and that we should turn around and head back, but they remain silent.

“Okay, I get it!” I tell them as we pull into Neah Bay. “You’re trying to make me think we’re going to miss the wedding to put it in perspective that I do actually want to go through with this. Job well done. I don’t want to miss my wedding, so can we please turn around?”

“Not quite,” Kate says. I let out a frustrated huff as we, but as we reach the end of the town, I see there is a roadblock set up, with a sign that forbids through traffic. For the first time in my life, I think I’m actually grateful for road construction.

We come to a stop and an officer climbs out of a parked cruiser and approaches our car. “I’m sorry, the Cape Flattery vantage point is closed to tourists today. Only authorized personnel are allowed past this point.”

Luke reaches into his back pocket, pulls out his wallet, and hands the officer both his state ID and his GEH security badge. “I’ve got Anastasia Steele in the car,” he says.

The officer peers back at me, looks down at the carseat on my left, then hands Luke his IDs back and waves us forward. I turn to look back at him as we drive up the long winding hill, utterly confused, and then turn to Kate.

“What’s going on?”

Kate smiles. “You’ll see.”

I stare anxiously through the windows as we twist our way up the mountain, but the only thing I can see is trees. My brain wars between worrying over the clock ticking down the hours to my wedding and my need to know what the heck is going on, but just as I think I’m not going to be able to take not knowing anymore, we turn a corner to a long straight, and I see Charlie Tango resting silently at the end of a huge parking area, surrounded by only a few cars that look to belong to unnamed business. My eyes widen as I get a better look around and see that there are white gossamer bows tied around the trees surrounding us, and a carpet of white rose petals covering the path the leads into the trees.

“What in the world?” I whisper, as we finally come to a stop. “No. No, he didn’t…”

Kate turns around and grins at me.

“I didn’t know until this morning,” she says. “That’s why I wasn’t there when you woke up. Christian called the whole family together and told them that the wedding in Lakewood was just a ploy to draw the attention of the media and anyone else who may want to ruin your big day. He wanted to actually give you the intimate wedding you wanted. Your dress is here, your real dress, and you and Christian are getting married by the sea. Just you two and the family.”

“I didn’t know either,” Luke adds quickly, and he sounds almost miffed. “Grey and Taylor didn’t tell anyone. Not until this morning. He didn’t want to take any chance of his real plans being leaked. This actually may have been one of the most closely guarded secrets in the history of weddings.”

My hand flies up to cover my shock and the uncontrollable smile it brings. For an entirely different reason than this morning, I feel like I can’t move. That is, until Taylor appears and comes around the car to open my door for me.

“Miss Steele,” he greets me, with a smile. I take his outstretched hand, allowing him to help me out of the car, and then he does something he’s never done before. Taylor pulls me against him and gives me a long, affectionate hug. “You look beautiful, Ana. He’s going to lose it when he sees you.”

“Thank you, Taylor,” I reply, turning my head to kiss him on the cheek. He smiles and then bends down to look in the car.

“If it’s okay with you, Mr. Grey asked me to bring Calliope to him.”

“He called me at least six times last night to check in on her,” Luke adds. “That man sure loves that baby.”

I smile, tears swimming in my eyes and nod. Taylor reaches into the backseat and takes Calliope’s car seat while I turn and grasp tightly to Kate’s hand, following her and Luke down the ¼ mile long, rose strewn path that leads us to the water.

The moment I see the view, I’m flabbergasted. It is without a doubt one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen. Christian has flown me over this place before, but the view from this vantage point is something else entirely. Giant monoliths jet out of the water, causing the sea to spray around them as the tide rolls into the cape. The sea sparkles under the summer sun, and besides the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks and seagulls flying out into the horizon, it’s silent. It’s completely and absolutely stunning, and when a photographer approaches me outside the tent where I’m meant to change, I gladly pull Kate into my side and take several photos.

Getting ready on the edge of the cape is a different experience entirely. Christian has thought of every detail, and the tent I wait in for the ceremony to start is both lavish and romantic, with candles and rose petals. He’s even left a handwritten note for me inside that tells me he can’t wait to finally see me.

As the rest of the family arrives, overjoyed that I’m now in on the secret with them, I begin to feel the excitement you’re supposed to feel before your wedding. Grace and Kate help me slip on my perfect wedding dress, and once it’s fastened into place, I can’t stop smiling at my reflection. Kate undoes the over complicated updo that my stylist put together this morning, and allows my hair to fall loose around my shoulder in soft round curls. The bouquet that I’m intended to carry down the aisle is comprised of pink peonies, which, although they’re my favorite, I had forgone for the other wedding because they didn’t fit with the color scheme. Everything is perfect, and when Carrick, who I’m told is going to marry us thanks to an online certification, pokes his head and says they’re ready, I feel butterflies.

The good kind.

My father takes my hand and places it on the inside of his elbow while Luke and Ros make their way down the aisle first, then we wait several more seconds for Kate and Elliot follow after them. When we’re alone, he takes a deep breath and turns to look at me.

“You’ll forgive me if I can’t say the words when Carrick asks me to give you away?” he checks. I smile and lean up to kiss him softly on the corner of his mouth.

“You’re not giving anything away, Daddy. I’ll always be your little girl.”

He nods and then takes a deep breath before leaning down to kiss me on the forehead. “I love you, Annie. Always have. Always will.” His hand tightens around my arms, and slowly, we make our way out of the tent.

It’s a long aisle made up of a planked wooden walkway over the flora of the forest floor. I find myself glad that I have my father to cling to and that his grip is steady and sure, because I wobble several times as we wind our way closer to the edge of the cliffs that overlook the tumultuous sea below. It helps when I focus on the music playing from just the other side of the treeline, but as I listen to the angelic voice singing in French along with the soft notes of a piano, I realize I recognize it. It’s the singer we heard during the service at Notre Dame in Paris, the one I was so enraptured with, and as we make the last turn which finally brings me to the end of the aisle that will lead me to Christian, I feel tears well in my eyes.

He’s standing there in a pristine charcoal suit, Elliot and Ros at his side, looking more handsome than I have ever seen him. The moment he lays eyes on me, his face breaks into a breathtaking smile, but as I begin walking towards him he covers his lips and looks at the ground. It’s only for a brief second, but when he looks up at me again, he too has tears in his eyes.

There’s no one else in this moment, only the two of us, and as I walk to the much too slow beat of the music playing around us, my father’s arm no longer feels supportive. It feels as though it’s holding me back, keeping me from sprinting to Christian and being enveloped in his arms, where I know I belong.

At the end of the aisle, we stop several paces before we reach Christian and while we wait for the music to end, he never takes his eyes off me.

“Who gives this woman to be wed to this man?” Carrick asks.

“I do,” my father replies, and then he lifts my hand, kisses it, and then places it gently in Christian’s. I smile back at him as he takes a seat next to Grace, and then turn to face the man I love. Unexpectedly, he leans forward and kisses me.

“You have to wait for that part, Christian,” Elliot says, nudging him from behind, but Christian simply smiles and shakes his head.

“I’m not sorry.”

My face breaks into a huge smile, and then we both turn to face his father.

Carrick’s words are not traditional. They speak to the love he has witnessed grow between us throughout the years and the people he has watched us become as a result having one another. I can hear Kate crying next to me, and Grace from her place just behind us, but I try not to focus on it so I don’t break down myself. Instead, I take a breath and prepare to say my vows.

“My life seems to have always been consumed by stories and I’ve always been drawn to fairy tales and the great romances. I didn’t know it when I was young, or even really when I left for Harvard and stepped into the world alone for the first time, but from the moment I read my very first love story, I started looking for you. You are my Mr. Darcy, my Rhett Butler, my Prince Charming, and yet, you’re still so much more. You’ve told me again and again that you want to make all of my dreams come true, and today, you’ve done just that. Because you are my dream, Christian Grey. You are the answer to every one of my prayers, and my hopes and my desires. I love you in a way that I didn’t know was possible before I knew you, because before you, I didn’t know what love was. From this day forward, I vow to give you all of my heart. I promise that I walk with you hand and hand, never straying from your side, wherever our journey leads us. I will never give your reason to doubt my commitment to you, to our family, and to the love you have placed in me. Because I love you, Christian, and I always will.”

He smiles as Carrick turns.

“Christian?”

“Anastasia, I don’t know if I can put into words what you have done for me. You were the very first person in my life who saw the best in me when they didn’t have to and with motive. You were the first person who made me feel like I was worth more than a good family name or the sum of what I’d survived. When you opened your heart to me, you showed me what it meant to truly love. When you stood by my side through everything we’ve been through, you showed me what it meant to be strong. And when you made me a father, you showed me what it meant to be man. I’ll never be able to repay the things that you have given me, but I promise that I will never stop trying. You are simply the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. For everything I have, your love is what I cherish and hold to be most valuable. Everything that I am and that I hope to be is because of you. Before I knew you, I had goals and aspirations for what I wanted in my life but you, you taught me how to dream. And now, every dream that I possess begins and ends with you. You give me purpose, Ana, and I vow to you today that I will love you, cherish you, remain faithful to you, and care for you, every day, until my last day.”

I fight the tears welling in my eyes as best I can, but it’s no use. They roll over my cheeks and as I reach up to wipe them away, Carrick speaks again.

“Do we have the rings?”

“Yes,” Kate sniffs, and she pulls the simple platinum band I chose for Christian from her thumb and hands it to me. Christian turns as well and takes my wedding band from Elliot.

“Do you, Anastasia Rose Steele, take Christian to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live?”

“Yes,” I breathe. “I mean, I do.”

There’s a low murmur of laughter behind me as Carrick turns to Christian.

“And do you, Christian Trevelyan-Grey, take Anastasia to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live?”

“I do.” His voice rings clear and certain through the space between, and my smile widens so much my cheeks start to hurt.

“Then please take each other’s hands, place your ring upon the other’s finger, and make your commitment to one another.”

I take Christian’s hand and do as I’m instructed. “With this ring,” I tell him, holding his gaze. “I thee wed.”

“With this ring,” he repeats. “I thee wed.”

“Then, by the power invested in me,” Carrick says. “I now pronounce you, husband and wife. Christian, you may now kiss your bride.”

He lunges at me, taking my face in either of his hands as his lips come crashing down on mine. He holds me there for a long time and I can feel the happiness and the love radiating from his kiss. I never want it to end, but it has to, and when we finally pull apart, I can’t stop smiling.

Just like that, he’s my husband.

Each member of our family comes to hug both Christian and I in turn and then we pose for several pictures against the ocean backdrop before my husband takes me by hand and leads me back up the long path where the limo I think must have brought Grace, Mia, Carrick, Elliot, and my father, waits for us.

Elliot pops a bottle of champagne in the back seat of the limo, which we drink all the way back to Neah Bay, where I’m surprised once again to find the yacht docked in the harbor. There’s laughter all around us as we climb the boarding dock and make our way up to the main deck, and while we set sail into the Strait of Juan de Fuca towards Seattle, I’m floored by the beautiful reception that waits for us there.

There’s no head table or separate seating for our guests, we’re simply seated around the long dining table, together as a family. The caterers file into the dining room and lay an amazing meal of filet mignon, wild mushrooms, and rice in front of us, and as we eat, Kate and Elliot stand to give their toasts.

Kate, of course, makes me cry as she talks about soul mates and how unbelievably happy she is to have watched us grow together in love throughout the years. Elliot mostly makes jokes at Christian’s expense, but then floors everyone when he takes a moment to seriously express his feelings for the both of us and how the love we have shared has not only touched every single person seated around the table, but how it’s changed each of their lives.

After Christian hugs his brother, and both Grace and I have gotten the resulting tears under control, we turn our attention to Carrick. One by one, everyone gives a toast, some tearful, others that make us laugh. There’s so much love shared around this table and as each person gets up to speak, it becomes something palpable. Now that Kate and Elliot are back together, this family really does feel complete, and as we finish our dinner, I feel the joy in that sentiment radiating through me.

“Shall we have our first dance?” Christian asks. I smile and get up from the table with him. The singer from our wedding comes out to stand next to band set up outside, and after a quick nod from Christian, the music begins to play and she belts out the powerful notes of Etta James’s At Last.

“This night is perfect,” I say, resting my head against Christian’s chest as we sway together under the twinkle lights on the outdoor deck.

“A perfect night with my wife,” he replies, emphasising the word wife with a distinct note of both pride and pleasure. I lean up on my toes to kiss him and then allow him to sweep me around through the cool sea air.

The festivities continue all the way back to Seattle. I share an emotional dance with my father to Heartland’s I Loved Her First, and then Christian pulls his mother onto the dance floor. She’s already in tears as he puts his arms around her, but then the beginning notes to Uptown Girl by Billy Joel start and her face breaks into a huge smile. He smiles back at her, and then backs away, starting a ridiculous dance that I feel must be choreographed, despite how sloppy and silly it is, because Grace starts right after him. I giggle into my hand, especially when Grace grabs Elliot and Mia and pulls them up with them and they all jump and dance around, everyone but Mia looking extraordinarily ungraceful. We dance all night, Christian even sways for an entire song with Calliope in his arms, and as we finally pull through the sound, I feel as though I might actually be floating on cloud nine.

There are a fleet of cars waiting for us at the Marina when we finally get back home, and Christian and I hug and kiss everyone goodbye, thanking them for sharing this amazing day with us, before we head to our own car to make our way back to Escala so we can continue celebrating alone. As we approach the black SUV at the front of the line though, Ryan and Kommer step out and suddenly, Christian looks very serious.

“Well?”

“Nothing, sir,” Kommer says. “There were no gifts left, no threats made, no staff or guests out of place. Miss Steele’s intended dressing room remained locked, and the security footage showed no attempts to get inside. As best we can tell, everything went exactly as according to plan.”

“Nothing?” Christian repeats in angry disbelief. “Jesus, what the fuck is he waiting for?”

“I don’t know, sir, but we have one positive development.”

“We do?”

Ryan nods. “Yes, sir. But it’s best we keep it underwraps. If you’ll just step into the car.”

Christian narrows his eyes suspiciously but takes my hand and pulls me into the back of the SUV after him. When I get a look at the person already inside waiting for us though, my confusion only deepens.

“Carter?”

“Hey, Ana. Christian,” he says nervously. “Uh… Congratulations.”

“Thank you, Reed,” Christian says. “But, I’m sorry… what are you doing here?”

“I think I can help you find who’s been after Ana, or you, or whatever is going on. I think I can help you figure out who it is.”

Christian’s face goes blank. “You can?”

“Yeah. I uh… I got a phone call. Whoever he is, he wants my help.”

Next Chapter

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62 thoughts on “Chapter 41

  1. Omg Carter being there in the end was shocking. And the wedding was beautiful and surprising that twist in which Ana did get her dream wedding. I was waiting for Ana to break down any second and she did but you pulled it all off great and magical….great job loving the story.

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  2. I figured Christian would have THE perfect wedding away from the media, AND that the “fake” big wedding was going to be an attempt to draw HIM out. Of course, I think HE also KNEW or anticipated that Christian would try this tact.

    So Carter, huh? I don’t know what to think of that. I suspected that Carter would be contacted, since HE is trying to recruit everyone, ESPECIALLY people with a grudge against Christian and/or Ana. But HE would HAVE to be watching Carter. So I’m not sure what to think now. I’m not even sure what to speculate about now.

    And how long has this particular plan been in place? Obviously, Mr. Conspiracy Head wants to use Carter for a PARTICULAR purpose, and had already figured out that the wedding would NOT be the time to be able to grab Ana. So Carter has been contacted NOW for a particular purpose.

    But I can’t see things being as they seem. I absolutely CANNOT see Carter being the head of the Conspiracy. He couldn’t even get into Harvard Law, quite frankly. So I can’t see his being behind this whole elaborate plan, BUT SOMEONE thinks they know Carter well enough to convince him to help.

    All I can think (at least, at this moment) is that Christian MUST have at least suspected Astor Harrington as a possibility, and he knows Carter AND has worked with Carter in the past in their classes. AND Astor has the past connection with Elena. (And Astor would undoubtedly help the Conspiracy in ANY way, including providing Carter’s name as a possible recruit.)

    And Astor could have promised Carter anything from guaranteed Harvard Law admission to money or a position with him. (AND that is assuming that Astor would be working with the Conspiracy.)

    So choosing Carter is a good plan in that Carter would HAVE to know people heavily invested/involved in the Conspiracy, any way you look at it. BUT WHY INVOLVE CARTER NOW?? Mr. Conspiracy Head would HAVE to know that Elliot and Kate are back together again, so Carter would NOT be expected to have ANY reason to be back in contact with anyone in the Grey clan.

    So this is SUSPICIOUS, any way you look at it. What could Mr. Conspiracy Head POSSIBLY gain from recruiting Carter NOW other than to suspect that Carter would then have a REASON to reach out to the Grey clan, SEEMINGLY on their side? I’m HIGHLY wary of this. There is DEFINITELY more going on here, ESPECIALLY in choosing Carter NOW.

    Wow. Just wow. ALMOST makes me lose sight of the fact that MIA has been feeling guilty AND traumatized, feeling she has nowhere to turn to. She is DEFINITELY exhibiting multiple symptoms of a cry for help. But what she has done has put her in INCREASING risk, and I’m wondering if there is still MORE behind her guilt, such as some of her “friends” now OR if anyone has contacted her or gone missing.

    But the whole thing with Mia is concerning. I still feel that Mia needs to be INTERVIEWED to find out just WHY she feels so guilty. GRANTED, she worked for Elena’s obviously illegal club, DESPITE knowing how Elena worked. AND Mia admittedly felt guilty when Elena almost succeeded in putting her brother in jail over the club that MIA exposed. BUT HAD THE BAR NOT BEEN EXPOSED, then all the exploitation WOULD still be going on. So Mia is still feeling guilty over MORE, in my opinion. So I’m wondering if she still has CONTACTS with anyone from the bar OR RECOGNIZED THE NAME of someone from Elena’s bar that STILL WORKS for Christian.

    Any way you look at this, Mia has chosen the WRONG way to deal with her problems. She has chosen to take UNHEALTHY risks, so MORE is going on then just survivor’s guilt. And once again, it has to be pushed to the side wtih the latest developments.

    But at least Grace and Kate NOW know as well as Ana about MIA’s issues. Once Mr. Conspiracy Head is contained, then the focus can go where it needs to go. And Mia has Ana AND Kate back in her life. They WON’T be going anywhere.

    LASTLY, Elliot now KNOWS about the scar. I always said THAT would be inevitable once he started sleeping with Kate again. I’m hoping that knowing what all Kate risked at a time when she didn’t even HAVE a real connection to the family should be enough to let Elliot know that KATE, herself, deserves to have her dreams come true. And Elliot has now ALSO seen this lovely wedding between CHristian and Ana. HOPEFULLY, Elliot can see how MUCH a ceremony CAN mean between two people WHEN IT IS PERFORMED FOR THE RIGHT REASONS. And knowing that Kate would MEAN commitment when marrying him, Elliot will be able to see a validity to the whole institution, or at least enough to give Kate her most cherished dream.

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      1. And THAT is my thoughts as well. I mean, NO ONE has talked, except to given names ALREADY known. So even in custody, Mr. Conspiracy Head frightens people. Which is WHY I can’t see it being Carter.

        YET Carter seemingly chose Christian’s WEDDING day to come forward? There is DEFINITELY more going on here then meets the eye. Carter has seemingly tried to act like a dominant with Kate in the past, and so it is entirely possible that Carter might have some connections to Elena’s bar.

        When you bring up Carter, it is like that 7 Degrees of Kevin Bacon game—Carter has OBVIOUS possible/multiple connections to the Conspiracy. Carter was friends with Astor, and we KNOW Astor hates Christian AND even wanted Ana for himself, even without Elena’s paying him. And ELENA had direct connections to Astor and would have undoubtedly heard of Carter from Christian OR Astor. And Astor had SOMEONE else helping him back in ADSOF, since someone OTHER than Astor had to take the photograph. And it was CARTER that seemingly showed up on the scene that night to supposedly “comfort” and help Ana, BUT he might have been the one Astor got to take the picture and send it to Christian.

        So I was never completely sure of Carter’s intentions back in ADSOF as far as whether or not he actually worked with Astor OR really was a friend to Ana. If he was not guilty now, then chances are that he is not guilty now. HOWEVER, if he helped out THEN, even KNOWING what Astor basically tried to do, then he could be helping NOW.

        So the ONLY reason that Carter might not be FRIGHTENED of HIM is that Carter THINKS that he knows him. Or at least that HE would not harm him (on account of past friendship, who his father is, etc.). BUT EVEN THAT doesn’t really make sense, since Mr. Conspiracy Head is crazy and scares/threatens EVERYONE. Plus, Carter would HAVE to know of the deaths. HE WAS STILL AROUND when Leila was following Ana.

        BUT THAT is what always bothered me—Carter has been conveniently placed EVERYWHERE that Mr. Conspiracy Head needed to be. STILL, if Carter had been in on it, then Leila surely would have thought that Mr. Conspiracy Head’s ACCESS TO ANA would be better in CAMBRIDGE rather than in Seattle.

        There is still multiple possibilities at play here, though. Carter could have been approached earlier OR just observed in the proximity of Ana and Kate on numerous possibilities. He could ALSO have had all the WRONG friends.

        But it ALL comes back to EXACTLY what you are implying—why WOULDN’T Carter be frightened of HIM? How does CARTER think that he has protection? And how did Mr. Conspiracy Head NOT target the baby shower, knowing that it would be the perfect time to get Ana on the way to the new house? GIA was still on the inside then, and the pattern of Mr. Conspiracy Head has seemingly ALWAYS been to put a POTENTIAL SIGNIFICANT OTHER or friend in the way of those who needed to be watched. So why NOT put someone on KATE, like Carter? But like GIA, he may have hoped for MORE and wanted to get away from HIM? Any NUMBER of possibilities are possible. I guess we just have to wait until NEXT CHAPTER to find out just WHEN Carter was approached.

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  3. You actually made me cry. I knew that Christian wouldn’t make that big wedding! It was perfect… I may have miss more of Calliope in the wedding, but she’s a baby so she needs to sleep. Regardless, it was like my fairytale wedding. And you have no idea how much I loved seeing Christian crying in his wedding… normally Christian in fanfiction is really happy and that all, but the fact that you described that emotion… well, thanks.
    And poor Meems… now I feel bad for judging her. I hope she recovers soon… but it’s true that teenegers and mental problems are not a good combination.

    Annnnnd I hope Carter isn’t giving them false directions and that he truly is the Head Conspiratory. What a casuality his aparition, don’t you think? I think that he is involved. 🤔

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    1. I get what you are saying about Mia—she seems to be almost a casualty of the pressure and her earlier attack. Mia has made BAD JUDGMENTS though, continuously. Like Christian previously, Mia was DESPERATE for money to make her dreams happen and CHOSE to work for Elena, KNOWING what the bar clearly was. And THEN she almost got sexually assaulted in the process. She WOULD have been handed over to that Client-Guy had Ana not happened upon the scene at JUST that moment!

      So yes, Mia is justifiably TRAUMATIZED. And while I feel SORRY for her, she still has NOT helped herself by making BAD and rash and downright stupid decisions, ESPECIALLY with a lunatic on the loose that was gunning for her WHOLE family, ESPECIALLY Christian. So while I feel SORRY for Mia, she has done some stupid and unjustifiable things to cope.

      Basically, Mia certainly has TRUST issues. And she has tried to talk about them but then WON’T come out and say what was happening. So while my heart breaks for Mia, her CHOICE to handle things in the worst possible manner just makes me wonder WHY Mr. Conspiracy Head chose to leave her alone. And THAT is the thing, DID HE actually leave her alone? OR has she been manipulated and encouraged to do bad things ON PURPOSE?

      I still feel Mia needs to sit down with security as well as a good therapist. Mia needs to come clean about EVERY client she can remember AND any OTHER contacts Elena may have had. I know (and even understand) why Mia does NOT want to relive that time and her choices, BUT to move forward, you have to realize what went WRONG in the past, DEAL with it and then move on.

      To me, it still doesn’t explain why Mia was avoiding Christian. But the CUTTING herself goes to a WHOLE other level, ESPECIALLY SINCE she is a dancer that would often have those areas of her body potentially EXPOSED.

      I am NOT trying to belittle in any way what happened to Mia, but the ongoing CONSEQUENCES of everything may be even MORE than she has, herself considered. She needs to deal with it and reveal ANYTHING that could aid in identifying and apprehending Mr. Conspiracy Head.

      And it is TELLING that Ana and Christian’s WEDDING DAY is the day that Carter turns up. I definitely want to hear what he has to say. Carter was an OBVIOUS choice for a recruit. AND he has been EVERYWHERE where security has been compromised (at post-shower name reveal with family, was at graduation due to his OWN graduation, had friends that were absolute ENEMIES of Christian, was at Escala as a GUEST, was in Ana’s house on a regular AND overnight basis). So Carter was EVERYWHERE that Mr. Conspiracy Head NEEDED to be, and EVERYWHERE that he went HAS BEEN SEEN TO BE COMPROMISED. That is an AMAZING coincidence, any way you look at it. BUT Gia was ALSO at these same events and in Escala, the big house, AND CHristian’s and Elliot’s work places.

      So Carter could be completely innocent. He could ALSO conceivably be completely guilty. We just have to wait and see and get MORE information. (But I ADMIT that I didn’t think we were done yet with Carter. We just wouldn’t get lucky enough to have him completely go away quietly. But this COULD be a chance to redeem himself of former wrongs. But CARTER and CARLA are BOTH likely to get involved at the WORST possible times. Either as BAIT or as part of the Conspiracy. We just have to wait and see.)

      As always, IS IT NEXT MONDAY YET???????????????

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  4. I figured that SOMEONE from the Conspiracy would put in an appearance on the wedding day. That is just in keeping with HIS way of things. But reaching out to CARTER? After all, if Carter REALLY cared for either Ana or Kate at all, he would naturally be appalled at what was being suggested.

    So I don’t think Mr. Conspiracy Head ever anticipated Carter really trying to help him. He always expected Carter to reach out to Christian/Ana. So there has to be a PLAN for all of this. Again, I can’t see Carter being the conspiracy head. HOWEVER, stranger things have happened. I mean, quite frankly, you have to wonder just WHY Mr. Conspiracy Head didn’t contact Carter sooner.

    But there is also the possibility that I am refusing to accept the probability of Carter being able to head teh Conspiracy. Carter DOES have reasons to resent MULTIPLE members of the Grey family. And Carter clearly envied everything that Christian had. But Christian had made a real EFFORT, it seemed, to get to know Carter, for Kate’s sake. And CARTER all along knew why Kate really had her scar.

    But Carter MEETS the critieria of having found a way to insert himself into the VERY house that Ana lived in. Carter even got an invite into Escala, as a result of Kate and Ana. Carter was EVEN in the NEW HOUSE and learned Calliope’s name then.

    PLUS, Carter seemingly has a rich father of means. HOWEVER, that father seems to keep the family closed off AND clearly gives the impression that whatever Carter tries to do is NEVER enough.

    And Carter may have NOT gotten into Harvard Law because he was SO FOCUSED on other things, such as watching Ana and Kate. AND Christian got the fake information about ROS while he was actually IN CARTER’S HOUSE.

    So I admit that there are amazing coincidences where Carter is concerned. I ALSO see Carter as having the type of background where he had been made to feel subservient to a harsh and demanding parent, which finally pushed him over the edge. Carter could be the type that felt he ALWAYS lost to someone smarter or that had more money. To the point that it became ALL about proving he was the best at something, even if that “something” was REVENGE.

    So Carter MEETS multiple requirements that would be necessary to psychologically FORM Mr. Conspiracy Head. But he LACKS all the resources, UNLESS he had access to unlimited funds through Elena. Carter would certainly be expected to know all about shell companies from his business major. AND he has certainly networked with other like-minded individuals.

    But I STILL can’t see it REALLY being Carter, since he EASILY had access to Ana while still in the home with Kate. So if he wanted to do something, he had AMPLE opportunity. AND the Conspiracy Head would not have reached out to him BEFORE due to him dating Kate. But NOW that the two have broken up, the slight would be an angle that MR. Conspiracy Head could WORK, as HE did with Leila.

    REALLY makes me wonder about Carter’s FAMILY CONNECTIONS now. I think there may be a backstory that has been overlooked potentially. BUT THERE IS A REASON that Carter has been approached NOW. I’m anxious to hear his story next chapter. And hear WHY Mr. Conspiracy Head has continued to wait until NOW to do so.

    (AND I wonder where Carla might fit into any of this. Did she truly do what she did on her own misguided selfish principles of trying to get Calliope for herself? Or had she been contacted by someone ELSE or MOTIVATED to act in thta manner?)

    But Mr. Conspiracy Head has been extremely savvy in picking out his conspiracy minions. There has ALWAYS been a reason, and there is a REASON now for approaching CARTER which may not be AT ALL what Carter has been told.

    HOW are we expected to wait until NEXT MONDAY for THIS conversation?????? Obviously, Carter would be watched. So WHAT is the angle????

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  5. That was beautiful. Ana’s feelings before the surprise wedding were laid out greatly. I was anxious along with her. The wedding reflected their relationship and journey abd made me fall in love with christian a little more. I loved the carter twist in the end. So glad he isn’t on the wrong side.

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    1. Well, we HOPE he is not on the wrong side!! At least, even IF his motives are genuine, Mr. Conspiracy Head approached him now for a REASON. Mr. Conspiracy Head may be motivating Carter, even if Carter was NOT willing. After all, Mr. Conspiracy Head may be EXPECTING Carter to run straight to Christian and Ana, thus ascertaining their REAL location.

      So I think Mr. Conspiracy Head has a PLAN in place for all of this and that he EXPECTS Carter’s actions. Just wonder what HE thinks he has to GAIN from all of this?

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  6. I mean, Mr Conspiratory Head didn’t make a move. That means that he was planing something. And he waits until their wedding to make a move and call Carter? That doesn’t make sense. If I were him, I would try to distroy every oportunity of happiness of Christian and Ana, being one their wedding.
    Carter seems to me like he is involved or he actually is Mr Conspiratory Head. How easy, isn’t it? And he would have Ana and Christian where he wants them. I have bad vibes from Carter. I can’t shake it. (Or maybe is that I have struggles with his character and that somehow I hate him, so idk).
    Can’t wait!!!

    Ps: ToriK, let us know your theories, I need you to make me think about this chapter!!! So much can happen now…

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    1. Mr. Conspiracy Head has made a POINT out of trying to ruin certain MILESTONES of ANA’s. And ALL to go after CHRISTIAN and make him suffer. That basically IMPLIES that Ana somehow ruined HIS expected successes. And quite frankly, that really DOES limit the list to 1) Andrew Lincoln, 2) Astor Harrington, 3) Carter Reed as the most likely suspects. And quite frankly, I almost see Astor Harrington as a less likely suspect than Carter Reed. AFTER ALL, Astor is experiencing SUCCESS at Harvard Law. Carter couldn’t even get in to Harvard Law.

      Had Carter been able to MARRY Kate, then his future would have been set, at least, in theory. Kate is VICE PRESIDENT of her father’s rich enterprise, so Carter would have had INDEPENDENCE from his father AND a beautiful and rich wife. So while he “found” himself, his career options could have been funded. AND he would have the rich comforts that he went on and on about when visiting Christian.

      So ON THE SURFACE, Carter looks like a REAL viable candidate for Mr. Conspiracy Head. But if he was THAT smart, then WHY basically ENCOURAGE Ana to hear Christian out, as he did at the beginning of ABSOF? And WHY spend all that time on a Conspiracy if you could have just used those brains to do better at Harvard?

      Astor had a DEEP-SEATED NEED to BEAT Christian in EVERYTHING. Yet Christian ALWAYS won AND rubbed his winning in Astor’s face (such as having sex with Ana on ASTOR’S bed). AND Astor has a CONNECTION TO ELENA AND CARTER. He has worked with BOTH in the past.

      But since Mr. Conspiracy Head was EXPECTED by Christian to MAKE A MOVE ON THE WEDDING DATE, Christian went to ELABORATE means to HIDE the true wedding. AND NOTICE that he INVITED ASTOR, meaning that he SUSPECTS Astor to be PART of the Conspiracy!

      So DID Mr. Conspiracy Head actually let the wedding go by? Are you KIDDING ME??? Carter SHOWS UP ON THE DAY, and he has NOW BEEN LED DIRECTLY to Ana AND Christian.

      Carter has repeatedly lost to a Grey brother. Even MORE so than Astor. AND his CAREER OPTIONS are at a stand-still. ALL while seeing Christian, who is his EXACT age, have EVERYTHING. And CHRISTIAN’s adopted father AND family ACCEPT CHRISTIAN, DESPITE HIS HAVING messed up with Elena. YET CARTER’S FATHER SEEMINGLY can’t find ANYTHING to admire about HIS son.

      So CARTER has reasons to want Christian to suffer. AND he never got Ana, who he seemed to carry a TORCH for even 3 years later! I mean, he even gets with her BEST FRIEND. Which puts him at ALL THE RIGHT PLACES. And Carter has been EVERYWHERE that security was found to be “compromised,” including Christian’s NEW HOUSE.

      (AND we know from Elena that Mr. Conspiracy Head is determined to do such awful things to Ana that even SHE is appalled. So that would be in keeping with My Theory that Mr. Conspiracy Head blames Christian for the LOSS of the WOMAN THAT WOULD OTHERWISE BE HIS. But NOTE that this qualification ALSO fits Andrew and even Astor, BOTH of whom have CONNECTIONS that have WORKED WITH CARTER BEFORE! You CAN’T just discount that!)

      SO it depends how willing you are to believe in coincidences. Do we believe that Carter could just innocently insert himself EVERYWHERE that Mr. Conspiracy Head needed to be AT THE EXACT TIME HE needed to be there? Carter got together with KATE right when he MOST needed to have access to Ana’s house. Again, coincidence?

      Still, I don’t think ANY of us want to learn that Carter was playing Kate that whole time. OR that he was just using her to get a rich wife that would support him and get him away from his family. But Carter may be SMARTER than we think to be able to slowly build up a friendship with Ana that never truly came to an end AND allowed him to get close to Kate as well. Carter ALWAYS FOUND A REASON to be around ANA, and even around her BEST friend AND Christian! Coincidence?

      But IF Carter WAS an important part of the Conspiracy, then it reasons that he would NOT have needed HYUN to get access to Ana’s laptop or house. SO I WANT to believe that Carter is just at the center of a set of AMAZING coincidences. OR HAS MAYBE BEEN A POINT OF PARTICULAR INTEREST TO MR. CONSPIRACY HEAD because of his past AND SIMILARITIES to Mr. Conspiracy Head, INCLUDING loss of his desired woman to Christian!

      But as you can see from my arguments, there usually are NOT this MANY coincidences in a story without it turning out to MEAN SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT.

      And everyone’s ability to basically DISCOUNT Carter all these years may be EXACTLY why CARTER could snap. He knows a bunch of successful people, YET HE CAN’T FIND SUCCESS HIMSELF. But Carter would seemingly HAVE to be heavily dependent on Elena or his father for FUNDS to do this. So I STILL don’t see him as my number 1 suspect. But Carter makes a GREAT recruit, PARTICULARLY AS CARTER IS DOWN ON HIS LUCK RIGHT NOW ESPECIALLY. Carter may be desperate. And we KNOW that desperate people are who Mr. Conspiracy Head looks to for recruits (think Gia, Leila)!!!

      But I DON’T think Mr. Conspiracy Head could let the wedding go by without incident. So Carter HAS to be part of the PLAN. It just remains to be seen if Carter is a WILLING or UNWILLING Participant!

      (And I STILL see Andrew Lincoln as the number 1 suspect for Mr. Conspiracy Head. But I CAN SEE where he would reach out to CARTER, as Carter lost his women to Grey, JUST like ANDREW seemingly did. So there are MORE than a few similarities, when you look closely. SO I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT CARTER’S “FAMILY” BACKGROUND. We NEVER saw his FATHER, even at GRADUATION. Even when Carter was about to PROPOSE to Kate. So there may have been a REASON that Carter’s “father” didn’t want to be seen. Such as giving Christian a REASON to turn his eyes on Carter!)

      But I think Carter is WAY more connected then we have known. Either with OR WITHOUT his knowledge. And REMEMBER that Christian learned about ROS’ supposed “DEFECTION” while Christian WAS AT CARTER’S HOUSE. And Christian wasn’t being “genuine” with Carter at that time—MAYBE CARTER wasn’t being genuine with Christian either! JUST ANOTHER ONE of those coincidences to have Christian in the SAME house with Carter RIGHT when he learns of information damaging to his company that forces him to LEAVE RIGHT AWAY. So you HAVE to wonder, particularly with Carter showing up NOW ON THE VERY DAY THAT YOU KNOW MR. Conspiracy Head HAS to make an appeareance on.

      So YES, I think there is a PLAN in place. AND CHRISTIAN HAS LET SOMEONE WITH SUPPOSED TIES TO Mr. Conspiracy Head INTO DIRECT CONTACT with him AND Ana when HE otherwise would NOT have had contact on this auspicious day. Again, ANOTHER coincidence? HIGHLY unlikely!

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      1. “But I DON’T think Mr. Conspiracy Head could let the wedding go by without incident. So Carter HAS to be part of the PLAN.” That is something I know for sure. I have 4 possibilities and neither of them has 100% sense, suming up:

        Andrew Lincoln. This is the most likely option. He lost his wife, his money, his company… All due to Christian, and he would want him to suffer. But I don’t find him that powerful and smart, and not someone who Elena would be scared of.

        Carter. He had problems with Christian. But he had a lot of perfect ocasions to do something to Ana or Christian, and he didn’t. Also, he is a college guy, he doesn’t have that much money to do all the things the Conspiratory did (and I can’t see Elena scared of him either). But I think he is involved. I would even bet he is part of a plan for ruining Christian and Ana’s wedding day (his appareance being casuality? NO WAY). And well, it’s strange the fact that we don’t know anything about his family… So so strange… That have something to do with the Conspiratory.

        Aston. The fact that makes me really suspect about him is that Tara let his name slip in the last chapter. I mean, if Christian still thinks about him as a possibility, that may be for some reason. We don’t have information about him. Maybe he changed. I can see a possibility that Elena is frightened of him. I can see him having power (maybe not that much, but what we do know). And maybe an instinct, but hearing about him after all this time? Weird.

        Isaac. He would fit the perfil, but I don’t see him like someone with power, and with his submissive nature, Elena wouldn’t be scared of him (I always compare this fact because I want to remove some possibilities). And if she was, it would be because he saw her with her true colors, but he wouldn’t have any reason to go after Christian and Ana. I see him the less likely person.

        The pimp??? What do we know about him? He could have power, he must be someone dilusional and frightening. And if he was capable of doing those horrible things to Christian with him being a little kid, I can see him planning those horrible things now. Not the most likely, but if I truly think about him, he would be the only person who somehow fits.

        Let me know your thoughs!
        What I know for sure is that in beetween the next two chapters, we will know who he is (finally! -or not, because that would mean the final is coming and we don’t want that-).

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      2. Andiegrey,

        Isaac has ALSO previously made my list of possible suspects. AT THE MOMENT, he is not my #1 pick for Mr. Conspiracy Head, but he DEFINITELY can’t be removed from consideration.

        As Elena’s submissive, Isaac did WAY more than the usual submissive. He knew EVERYTHING and went with Elena everywhere. Isaac was at the club when pictures were leaked AND at the sex store where Elena spoke to Ana. AND Isaac heard EVERYTHING said between Elena and Ana at the bar. AND I FIND THAT REVEALING that Elena let Isaac hear all of that. At least THEN, Elena did NOT expect any problems from Isaac. She apparently trusted him as much as she could trust anyone, since Isaac clearly ran the bar with her.

        So Isaac has been uniquely positioned to gain access to Elena’s client list and other contact information. Isaac was NOT with Elena when she went to GEH, but that is about the only thing Isaac didn’t have direct access to.

        Quite frankly, Isaac lost EVERYTHING when Elena went to prison. He lost his partner and the person that employed him. SO HE MEETS THE PROFILE for Mr. Conspiracy Head. In theory, he has MORE than enough reason to be resentful of Christian AND ANA, since it was ANA that got Elena to admit everything, including that she had lied about CHristian and was willing to put it all on Ros.

        HOWEVER, Isaac WAS submissive, and Elena clearly had no previous fear of him. WHY would he turn against HER? And why so much animosity to Ana? PLUS, Isaac never WORKED with Ana or had any real relationship with her (just two brief encounters, basically). Isaac’s resentment of Ana would have to be because SHE is actually the one that caused Elena, and therefore him, to lose everything.

        Mr. Conspiracy Head told Ana on the phone that he expected her to recognize him AFTER he had made such an effort to get to be nice to her. So Isaac seemingly does NOT fit in with this. THAT is the reason why ISAAC does NOT make my Most Likely list. I mean, Isaac never even had so much as one meaningful conversation with Ana!

        I keep going back and forth regarding JACK HYDE. We DON’T yet know his BACKGROUND STORY in Taraville. He CERTAINLY would expect Ana to remember HIM since he worked with her that whole summer, AND HE CLEARLY made an effort to be NICE to her, because he was hoping she would give him the TOP JOB when she went back to Harvard. HOWEVER, someone from outside was brought in by Christian.

        So when HYDE confronted Ana at the Christmas party, he basically accused Ana of “lying” to him about trying to recommend him for the desired position. Ana had NO power over CHristian’s CHOICE for the job, but HYDE clearly thought that IF Ana had pressed the issue, then Christian would have given her what she wanted. So Hyde seemingly felt “misled,” or claimed to be, and was CLEARLY having a hard time.

        So HYDE fits the bill of seemingly being disgruntled AND bitter with Christian and Ana and not seeming to be fully in command of his sanity. HOWEVER, the Hyde that has been presented THUS FAR does not have any power of clout to pull ANY of this off.

        STILL, Hyde WAS included supposedly on the “emails” from Welch and/or Ros, and that could be FOR A REASON. Hyde also has PUBLISHING CONTACTS, obviously, which would be WHY someone like him would come up with the idea of having ELENA write a tell-all book.

        But Hyde lacks MONEY and CONTACTS to pull this off UNLESS he got all that from Elena. But if he was THAT dependent on Elena, then you would think that she wouldn’t FEAR him. For HYDE to be Mr. Conspiracy Head, we DEFINITELY need A LOT of backstory and information, such as how and WHY Elena would even consider working with him.

        We NEVER learned the NAME of the guy that attacked Mia in Elena’s club. THIS PERSON was someone thta Elena FEARED, even then, because she was willing to pay Mia over $8,000.00 dollars A MONTH just to “entertain” this guy and others. Elena was even willing TO ALLOW THAT PERSON to sexually assault Mia, even knowing that Mia would most likely attempt to report it. So for Elena to RISK ALIENATING CHRISTIAN over it, this guy must have been REALLY powerful enough to even frighten ELENA.

        So to BUMP HYDE UP in placement on the COnspiracy List, we are DEFINITELY missing some backstory pieces to make it all relevant and reasonable, at least from Hyde’s point of view, for him to do something like this.

        STEPHEN MORTON has been mentioned VERY briefly in the story. Ana’s leaving and returning to Ray apparently thwarted Stephen’s intentions towards Ana, and the marriage with Carla fell apart shortly thereafter. That is ALL we know about him at this point. But he WOULD be someone that might could scare Carla. We SUSPECT that the cOnspiracy reached out to Carla, but we don’t KNOW that yet. THere is also no reason to see WHY Stephen would hate Christian so much and want him to suffer. We would need a LOT of backstory and details to explain Stephen’s choosing to re-enter Ana’s life in this way.

        I can’t see BOB Adams doing this either. I mean, WHY? But his name HAS been mentioned by at least one person as a possible Conspiracy Head.

        I had almost completely RULED OUT Astor Harrington in my mind PRIOR to seeing that CHRISTIAN MADE A POINT TO INVITE HIM TO THE WEDDING. So for WHATEVER reason, Christian at least SUSPECTS ASTOR of having connections to the Conspiracy. AND ASTOR has WORKED WITH CARTER and was friends with him in the past. And ASTOR worked directly wtih ELENA in the past. So there ARE previous connections and loyalties from the past that CANNOT BE IGNORED when looking at someone that has had a SERIOUS GRUDGE against Christian and/or Ana in the past.

        So I CAN’T explain away certain past connections to CHristian and Ana that have remained “around” or in contact with them, even indirectly, over the last 4 years. And Carter makes a LOGICAL person for the Conspiracy to approach. But ANDREW LINCOLN still suffered THE MOST in my mind WITH WHAT WE KNOW NOW.

        But Tara has made a point of oftentimes not going after the “obvious” choice. THere have continuously been “TWISTS” along the way, so you really can’t rule ANYONE out completely. Which was WHY Christian was potentially herding MULTIPLE suspects to the same spot. And INTERESTING COINCIDENCE that CARTER shows up on the VERY day that even CHRISTIAN was expecting Mr. Conspiracy Head to make contact wtih Ana or himself. And in Taraville, ignoring the obvious WILL get you in trouble (think Elena in ABSOF—obvious to ALL of us that she had REASONS for being so prominent in GEH and making sure that people Christian worked for KNEW to give her deference. While the bar wasn’t expected, in retrospect, you could sure see it as ENTIRELY within keeping wtih Elena’s way of doing things. And she was getting those potential submissives for Christian from SOMEWHERE.).

        So you are wrong to ignore the obvious in Taraville, even when you STILL expect some unexpected twist. Even in the original EL James’ works, Mr. Lincoln was still a POWERFUL force to be reckoned with, ESPECIALLY since he deliberately BAILED OUT Hyde, kNOWING the man would go after Christian and his family. SOMEONE is pulling everyone ELSE’s strings, and Andrew Lincoln lost even MORE to Christian in Taraville than he ever did in the originals!!!

        What is funny is that I WAS expecting Carter OR Carla to make some kind of unexpected appearance. Yet it STILL caught me off guard when it happened on the WEDDING day! BUT after you read through the chapter, you can’t HELP but think that OF COURSE Mr. Conspiracy Head would put SOMEONE in contact wtih Ana and Christian on the wedding day, one way or other. How ELSE to make sure he is FIRST in their minds on such an otherwise PERFECT DAY!

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  7. Last comment:

    I can see someone like Andrew Lincoln reaching out to Carter, since he would see Carter as ANOTHER person saddened and jilted as a result of the Grey family. He would expect Carter to see it as he saw it when it happened to him. Christian seemingly wanting what belonged to someone ELSE.

    So multiple people on my Conspiracy Head Possibilities List would have REASON to work with Carter. And, with the right incentive and access to people and funds, Carter can still remain a possibility as the Head, himself.

    BUT if Carter WERE capable of all of this, then he SHOULD have sailed through Harvard with flying colors. But he didn’t, either because he wasn’t talented or smart enough OR he partied too much OR truly WAS focused on OTHER things.

    But Carter has FAR LESS reason to go after Christian then Astor Harrington, in my opinion. But Christian took some real digs at BOTH Carter and Astor JUST to let them both know he was superior. And that could NOW come back to bite him, depending on if either of them really were unstable. I guess we will find out soon!

    I’d like to hope that Carter is truly there because he is MOTIVATED to help Ana and Christian. But EVERYONE has been TOO AFRAID of Mr. Conspiracy Head, so I can’t see Carter being unintimidated by HIM unless there is a REASON. So here is to NEXT WEEK when we hear what Carter has to say and what PROOF he can give of what he claims!!!!!

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  8. Sweet chapter. I believe this may be the only wedding scenes in FF that I have not skimmed over. It was beautifully done. Hopefully Carter will be helpful to getting to whom ever is causing so much trouble.

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  9. I’m so glad Ana got the wedding she wanted. I was wondering why Christian wanted that big ole wedding.

    First, I thought Carters dad had something to do with what is going on, but I’m glad he came to them and is going to help.

    Great chapter

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  10. I too am so glad that she got the wedding she really wanted…..should have known Christian would have other plans…..the wedding was beautiful…..can they have their moment of happiness before HE, whomever he may be makes another move……love this storylll

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  11. Ok so I wasn’t wrong about the wedding venue and his reason for doing it. That was sneaky and Mia being in trouble did not throw me off. What threw me off was that u had us thinking Mia had something to do with Ana and Christian’s troubles. She’s just not in a good place mentally but after she is still very young. That was good my friend but Carter threw me off completely and I’m not sure if I trust him right now.

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    1. Mr. Conspiracy Head reached out to Ana on her Graduation Day. AND left his “present.” He KNEW it wouldn’t be THAT easy again. AND HE obviously realized that the “Big” wedding was a ruse to LURE him out.

      So what does HE do? After all, Mr. Conspiracy Head NEEDS to get Ana and Christian’s LOCATION first. AND WOW, CARTER shows up. AND IS LED TO CHRISTIAN AND ANA due to his “information.” Ummmm, are we REALLY going to believe in THAT much of a coincidence???

      I’d LIKE to believe that Carter is there for ALL the right reasons. And he may be. BUT THAT DOES NOT DISCOUNT the fact that Mr. Conspiracy Head probably EXPECTS Carter to go right to Ana and Christian. Meaning he was FOLLOWED, at the very least, and has given Mr. Conspiracy Head the VERY information he needs, even if Carter did it inadvertently.

      But yeah, TOO MUCH of a coincidence to me. Carter is EITHER being USED or is doing the using. I am waiting to see which it is.

      (BUT I keep coming back to TARA’S PICTURE that she had “Leila” draw of Mr. Conspiracy Head. He was dressed like Superman with a big “C” on his chest where the “S” would appear. And in true Superman folklore, the “S” stood for his NAME of Superman to the citizens of earth. OF COURSE to Superman, it was his FAMILY CREST.

      So was Tara’s DRAWING meant as a “JOKE” or as a GENUINE COMMENT on how Mr. Conspiracy Head sees HIMSELF as a Superman, righting the wrong that is Christian? And if the “C” on the chest stands for “Conspiracy” OR FOR HIS NAME or FAMILY CREST, as in Superman legend. IF it is his NAME, then we DON’T have any other VIABLE suspects with a name beginning with “C” at this time, UNLESS you include “Brian Clark” in that list. And Clark DID work with Ana AND looked down on ALL women. And CLARK would be Brian’s FAMILY name (in other words, family “crest” so to speak).

      So I REALLY WISH we could get TARA to reveal if the Mr. Conspiracy Head “drawing” done by Leila was MEANT to be a CLUE with REAL meaning or just a JOKE, as I originally thought. NOW, I’m NOT so sure. But if the “C” means a SPECIFIC name, then we SHOULD be worried wtih Carter’s sudden appearance on EXACTLY the day we expect a RESPONSE from Mr. Conspiracy Head!

      AND I’m hoping that Mia’s trauma issues are the ONLY thing we have to worry about for her, even though that, in itself, is certainly daunting. STILL, in the original works, MIA’s recklessness and failure to keep her security led to HER being the one to get kidnapped and used as BAIT for Ana. So let’s hope that Tara is going a COMPLETELY different way!

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  12. Interesting that Carter shows up after the wedding. I really don’t want to hate Carter but it is a little suspicious his timing.
    Is the reason nothing happened at the wedding because Carter was supposed to be the inside person since he was dating Kate and since they had broken up the inside information was lost?

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  13. Oh Tara, Tara, Tara…..if you were standing in front of me I honestly believe I would KISS you!!! What a beautiful chapter and PERFECT in every way. The emotion that Christian conveyed could almost be felt rather than just be “described”. You’ve outdone yourself, kiddo…well done!! My intuition is a bit leery of Carter at this point but I can’t wait until next Monday….unless of course you’d like to treat us with a bonus chapter for being such good lil’ fans!! 🙂 XoXoX

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  14. 1.) BIG mistake reading this at work; I was gaspig and sobbing like a baby.

    2.) Love that you guys were right about switching the wedding venue locale — you’re some smart cookies! 🤓

    3.) Forks! Love that the town got a little shout-out

    4.) Carter is still breathing. Excellent!

    5.) This chapter kicked ASS! Thank you, Tara. ❤️❤️❤️

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    1. Your #4 is what is worrying me. I never really doubted that Mr. Conspiracy Head would reach out to Carter. Too many similarities there and reason to believe that he would HATE Christian. But the TIMING? And the fact that Mr. Conspiracy Head did NOT kill Carter, obviously KNOWING that he was reaching out to Christian? Sounds too much like a PLAN to me.

      So either Mr. Conspiracy Head really WAS overconfident in thinking Carter was JUST like HIM, or Carter is seemingly being DUPED by Mr. Conspiracy Head, ALL in the hopes of Mr. Conspiracy Head being LED to Christian and Ana’s location. OR the unthinkable that Carter could be actually HELPING him.

      But Carter still breathing MEANS TO ME that Mr. Conspiracy Head has a “use” for him that Carter wouldn’t have worked out. So Carter’s “still breathing” MAY be short-lived!

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  15. What a lovely, perfect wedding. I knew Christian would give Ana the intimate wedding she craved. (When Kate hustled Ana into the car I thought they were just going to the yacht and would have the wedding at sea.) Anyone who didn’t shed any tears for this chapter doesn’t deserve to read the rest of the book!

    I’ve never considered Carter to be the conspirator because he’s not clever enough or evil enough. I think when Christian came back to Cambridge to protect Ana and let her fulfill her dream of graduating from Harvard, Carter may have formed a different opinion of him. I hope I’m right and Carter is there to help, and I hope Christian will reward him with a great career opportunity.

    As for Carla, I just can’t forgive her. I don’t even see how Bob could stay with her after that — even if he is the conspirator. (And it would have to be a helluva back story if he is!)

    What I’m dying to know is — what happened at the castle? How did they explain Christian and Ana’s absence? Did people feel duped?

    And I hope they donate the six figure custom gown to some charity to auction off — or Kate wears it to marry Elliot!!!

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    1. I WANT to believe Carter is there to help. But if he is, then I see Mr. Conspiracy Head sharpening his knives for his next sacrificial lamb!

      But EVEN IF Carter truly wants to help, I can’t HELP but think of the TIMING. Mr. Conspiracy Head had NO way of learning of Christian and Ana’s location AND no way of getting to them. NOW, Carter has managed to do BOTH. And do we REALLY think Mr. Conspiracy Head did NOT have Carter WATCHED for this very purpose?

      After all, Mr. Conspiracy Head found LEILA, who KNEW how dangerous Mr. Conspriacy Head was AND had a plan to HIDE. So do we REALLY think he let Carter get THAT CLOSE to his targets WITHOUT following him?

      So I’m hoping Carter is just a dupe. And not one doing the duping. There are just MULTIPLE ways this could all go down. But I WANT to believe that Carter was WORTHY of Kate’s attention. We will just have to wait and see.

      (And yeah, don’t you KNOW the PRESS and the other “GUESTS” are fuming??? I mean, ALL of Seattle’s ELITE that dressed in their FINEST for the wedding are all there JUST to lure the wrong people out???)

      And that OTHER princess gown could later be worn by CHRISTIAN and ANA’s little princess, Calliope, at HER wedding, JUST as Ana was secretly wishing. But YOUR IDEA is lovely as well with having KATE wear the dress for an impromptu sudden wedding with Elliot. Would have MEANING there! Because Kate would be getting HER fairytale happy ending!

      Like

  16. I don’t think Carter, is there to really help them. I have a feeling he’s being fake. I meando this on there wedding day, unless he wants to pretend to care, and urn there trust to get information. Anyway, love this story, knew CG would give Ana the wedding she wanted and deserved. But I can also see why they would do it for protection reasons.

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  17. I was truly crossing my fingers that the opening of #41 was a dream – and, instead, your ‘Gotchya’ You do love to keep us guessing, Tara!

    YES! YES! Christian DID come through to deliver Ana’s Wedding just the way she envisioned it…and done with such exceptional ‘Christian personal touches!’ From the bows on the trees.. to the romantic atmosphere in her ‘dressing tent’.. to his intimate pre-ceremony note.. to the live music at the wedding and on the yacht…and on and on. What a fabulous insulated setting for the Reception! Christian just continues to show his absolute and total love and devotion to Ana. Hopefully, we will get some additional details of the entire day. And, reactions or explanations concerning the ‘decoy wedding’ guests. Christian, I would imagine, would have provided them with a lovely ‘Reception,’ albeit with the absence of the guests of honor. Unless they got last-minute cancellation calls or?? The Media must have gone berserk once they learned of the deception.

    Ana adored her original dress and had even considered that perhaps Calliope would wear it at HER wedding – now that Ana was able to walk down the aisle in that dress, – it would provide such added meaning to Calliope’s wearing it on her wedding day. What a fabulous auction item the ‘decoy’ dress would make for the Grey’s annual charity ball.

    Carrick’s on-line marriage credentials raised a concern for them to be 100% legal – but, since he IS an attorney, I am certain he verified everything.

    Was figuring Luke was a bit too agreeable to the Ana/Kate ‘ride’ and had fingers crossed it was due to an alternate venue. And what an amazing alternate venue! How immensely difficult it must have been for Ray, Kate and all the family to keep the secret from Ana, but the pay-off made it all worth-while for the Wedding Ana would never forget. And, at least they did not have to maintain the secrecy for very long.
    Surprised that Ray would even mention Carla’s name on Ana’s wedding day. I suppose he must have promised Carla he would speak with her daughter. (I continue to be suspect of Stephen Morton as possible Conspirator, which could explain a good deal.)

    Elliot and Kate – The anticipation of Kate’s donor reveal to Elliot was such a relief. And, I have been waiting and hoping for them to find their way completely back to one another. Perfect. – Thanks, Tara.
    Mia’s ‘situation’ seems to have finally come front and center and, with Grace knowing, she will get her the care and therapy that is essential. Mia may still have some information that would be helpful from her time with Elena. Christian will be right by her side, I am certain.

    CARTER – Now, that did come out of left-field for me. Hopefully, he is not a decoy but is truly wanting to help. Just wonder how he happened to surface with this amazing information, and at such a crucial time. If he is instrumental in aiding the ending of this horrific saga, Christian’s gratitude will certainly be far-reaching.

    Can’t wait until #42 – And, one can always hope that even a tiny bonus may be offered, in the interim, to your devotees?!

    You DO Rock Our ‘Grey World,’ Tara!

    Like

    1. IF Carter is on the up and up, then Christian will most certainly see that he is set for life, quite frankly, assuming that he survives.

      But yeah, the TIMING. Mr. Conspiracy Head HAS FOUND A WAY TO INSERT HIMSELF once again on one of Ana’s Milestone days. It just remains to be seen if Carter is a WILLING participant or just the dupe. Or any combination in-between. DEFINITELY need #42 ASAP!!

      And DEFINITELY support your “suggestion” for a bonus!!!!! HOWEVER, when Tara has done this, she has ALWAYS cleverly managed to give JUST enough info in the bonus to make you have even MORE questions and even MORE need for what comes next. So if the “bonus” is just throwing bloody red meat in the shark-infested waters, then we just probably need to wait for the full chapter #42!!!

      Like

    1. AMEN.

      But I have to admit, I have ALWAYS wanted to know if Carter was GENUINE or if he wasn’t on the up-and-up. And I had always wondered if he had tried to help Astor back in the day OR if he was always an actual good friend to Ana.

      At least NOW, we undoubtedly WILL finally get the answer as to Carter’s REAL intentions, either fair or foul.

      Like

  18. Absolutely beautiful and a dream wedding Christian planned. He would give the world to Ana because he loves her so very much, the wedding of her dreams came true. Poor Ana, pushed with so much stress, worries on her big day. Carla deserves it. Poor Mia, feel so much love from Ana to her. With peeps who care for her she’ll be fine. Elliot finally came to know about Kate’s sacrifice, he must be beyond touched. Seeing the love between Christian and Ana may just push him to marry Kate though Kate is happy with his promise. Not sure of Carter, which side? Can’t wait for 42. Thank you so much, Tara. Marrying Christian and Ana is the best, I love that a lot. Look forward. Xoxo daytona

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  19. I’m so glad Ana got her dream wedding after all. I got really worried when Christian an Ana entered that car. I’m not sure I trust Carter.

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  20. I know I’m often very Mulder (Trust No One) about a lot of these characters but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume Carter’s intent is good and genuine. It could be, right? Maybe while in the car he’ll recite his “script” that The Big Bad has ordered him to say but he’ll have a pre-written note prepared that he discretely holds up to C and A that says something like, “I am being forced to say these things, the truth is in this note. Hide it until you can read it alone.” Just yet another of my crazy theories. 😀

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    1. I actually LOVE this. AND I can see it being EXACTLY in keeping with Carter. He THINKS he might know who is responsible, and he might be genuinely trying to “play along” for info./intel. And playing along might be the ONLY way he could get the actual information to Christian and Ana that might actually HELP.

      As you see in my theories, I, too, want to believe that Carter is Hero rather than bad guy. But there are SO many coincidences to explain away. HOWEVER, Carter was so closely placed to Ana or Kate throughout so much of this that the Conspiracy might actually HAVE chosen to bypass him OR to watch him as well and not contact him until NOW, thinking Carter might want REVENGE for the break-up.

      So ANYTHING is still possible. But I think it is DEFINITELY the right decision to HEAR CARTER OUT. Because the TIMING means that it was INTENTIONALLY timed by SOMEONE to occur on the wedding day. SO IN THIS WAY, Mr. Conspiracy Head HAS INSERTED HIMSELF into another Ana Mileston ON PURPOSE and put a potential damper on an otherwise PERFECT day!

      BUT if Carter realizes he is being manipulated, then he will hopefully cooperate FULLY with Ana and Christian. But one way or another, we WILL learn if he is Hero or Bad Guy in the end!

      Like

  21. Lovely wedding , hopefully Carter can help them and that isn’t a trick to get them to put their guards down hopefully they can find who it is and please don’t let them kill Carter I liked he just kept falling for the wrong girls he deserves to be happy . I wonder what Elliot’s reaction is going to be when he sees Carter there

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  22. Geez way to start the chapter by scaring us! 😉 You are a sneaky writer and had us or at least me going but Ana not only arrived on time to her wedding she got the wedding she always wanted and in the dress she loved. Christian planned that perfectly and just the way she wanted it intimate with friends and family. Perfect in every way right down to Carrick be able to marry them.

    I’m glad that Elliott finally knows that Kate saved his father. Now when are the rest of the Grey’s going to find out? They always loved Kate but they will love her even more, plus they will know who saved their father/husband and they can properly thank her because I’m sure they all wanted to thank that person.

    So Mia has been cutting herself. Hopefully they get her the help she needs which I’m sure that Grace will see to it know that she knows. Is Ana going to remember to tell Christian tonight or wait for tomorrow?

    Carter knows or has something to do with this man that is after Ana and Christian? Is he really there to help?

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    1. And THAT’S the real issue—Carter almost has to be either a Hero OR a Villain. Carter has come to Ana and Christian on their WEDDING day because of the information that he has. If he ever really did care for Ana AND Kate, then his intentions are genuine.

      I want to believe in Carter, quite frankly, due to his really working to repair his relationship with Ana after he acted so badly from their initial break-up in ADSOF. He made his intentions known that he HAD carried a torch for Ana for over two years, but when she ADMITTED that she still loved Grey, then Carter ENCOURAGED her to talk to Christian.

      So Carter SEEMED like a decent friend to Ana. If he couldn’t have her, then he still valued their friendship. THEN he got involved with Kate.

      And Carter REMAINED in a friendship with Ana and a relationship with Kate EVEN AFTER knowing about Mr. Conspiracy Man. So EITHER Carter WAS brave and dedicated to the girls, OR he had REASON to think Mr. Conspiracy Head would NOT come after him.

      HOWEVER, EVEN LEILA risked her OWN life to help Ana, KNOWING what it would inevitably mean for her. And when you think about it, Leila and Ana had never really been friends. YET Leila KNEW that what Mr. Conspiracy Head had planned for Ana was so hideous and wrong that it FINALLY jolted Leila into doing the RIGHT thing, although it was a little too late (at least, for her). And she didn’t even TRY to come forward to let Christian protect her because she was so sure that she was better off ALONE then risking getting help.

      So if even LEILA (who hated Ana) would come forward to try and save her, then how much more would a TRUE FRIEND do that had actually potentially loved her at one point? So Carter MAY be on the up and up. He may truly wish to PROTECT Ana AND Kate by extension.

      I will feel REALLY bad about even thinking ill of Carter if he truly proves to be the guy willing to risk his own life for Ana and Kate. But I don’t think Carter has yet shown such signs of nobillity. AND Carter has had the WRONG friends in the past.

      It ALSO depends on if Carter is the type of person to let things go OR if he is the type of person vested in revenge. OBVIOUSLY, I’m sure Christian would AUTOMATICALLY be suspicision of all things Carter Reed. So that SAYS something to me that Taylor or security BELIEVE Carter enough to let him talk DIRECTLY TO ANA AND CHRISTIAN.

      OBVIOUSLY, one way or another, the Conspiracy thinks Carter would be a good candidate to help. AND he would appear to be similarly situated to Mr. Conspiracy Head. Carter WAS STILL AROUND on the day of graduation and would know JUST HOW MUCH of a threat Mr. Conspiracy Head can be. So IF his attempts to help are genuine, then I hope Carter survives.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Great chapter. Finally the wedding she wanted and great fully he knew and made happen. Way to go Carter helping friends because they are all really friend because deep down he knew Kate would get over Elliott. So it hurt but he wants her happiness. Hopefully it’s that selfless. I guess I’ll read about it next week. Can’t wait. Thank you.

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  24. Wedding went through without a hitch at the secret location. Christian came through again, and gave his beloved Ana a most beautiful gift, a wedding that she really wanted to have. Carter waiting for them?Where did security find him and how does he know where they would be. He is already under suspicion with his timing or was he invited to the wedding. Is he being recruited just now or had he been a part of the enemy team for a while. He would know quite a bit about them since he even lived with them in Cambridge. The Conspirator head is someone who is more powerful and possibly employ more people to track everyone connected to Christian. Thank you very much and waiting for the next.

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  25. Loved, loved the wedding! For some reason I thought the vows would be different. However, overall an excellent read.

    I always knew that Christina life mission was to provide Ana with her hopes and dreams. I always knew Ana would have her dream wedding.

    Not too concern about Kate and Elliott. They will work their situation out eventually. I truly believe that someday soon Kate will also be Mrs. Grey.

    Carter – Something has always been off or just didn’t sit well for me. He has always displayed a need to ve linked to Ana ir Kate. I think I said this in a previous review how it botherd me how quickly he went from Ana to Kate. The trip to Seattle was also telling. I don’t think he’s the conspiracy head himself. But he’s working or it’s a close kin.

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    1. Con’t I Have inquired the last few chapter of Carter’s whereabouts or do we have any informations on his family. I have never trusted or felt comfortable with Carter. His parents not been in attendance at his graduation just didn’t go well for me. I was thought there was a story there. Elena hinted that for all she knew Linc could have children out there. Just a guess who’s this kid working for.

      Another reviewer mentioned Grace parenting skills being off. I would have to agree. Everything I wanted to say was said in her review.
      Now I need to go back and reread the chapter.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Con’t – I read a review once that said Grace pretty much handed her children to Elena. I totally agree. A Doctor and a lawyer, how could they have missed the cry for help especially from Mia. Also, given a second chance after the encounter with Elena and Christian yet they failed again. I never understood that. We all make mistakes, but to handfeed your children to your dear friend. I honestly don’t think that fits the bill for the peoples in my circle.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I can’t completely agree on Grace and Carrick. I really think they, like other parents, tried the best that they could. REMEMBER, MIA wanted money so badly that she NEVER REPORTED Elena coming into the restaurant where she worked. Then, when Elena asked her for a meeting, she went and AGAIN did not disclose anything. She then signed a NDA and BELIEVED Elena about her parents being jailed if she violated it. And MIA CHOSE TO WORK FOR ELENA, knowing what that bar was for.

        HOWEVER, I can’t understand why Grace or Carrick didn’t do SOME sort of monitoring of the job, even if it was something on the side, like occasionally going into the restaurant to ask how Mia was doing. I guess that tried to TRUST their daughter until given a reason. But TIME AND TIME AGAIN, Mia showed her bad judgment and that she NEEDED more monitoring. But you are dealing with a teen that can even DODGE HER OWN SECURITY, as she did over the Vegas weekend.

        I didn’t think MIA ought to have been invited to the bachelor/bachelotte weekends, given her age. BUT AT THE SAME TIME, it was OBVIOUSLY meant to be “family time” as well, and making MIA stay home alone would have made her feel bad. STILL, given the “activities” and the fact that Mia couldn’t be with the family during the events in question anyways, I DON’T think she should have been brought to Vegas. STILL, if Grace and Carrick had tried to lock Mia in a room, then it would have been JUST like that time on Christian’s boat where Mia told them NOTHING. And it just made things WORSE.

        Parenting teens is never easy. Don’t forget that MIA brought SO MANY things on herself. THAT is why she is feeling guilty now. BUT she is making the situation even WORSE by trying to INTENTIONALLY isolate herself from family and do STUPID rash and irresponsible things. And THAT isn’t helping her feel better, either.

        At least NOW, it is all out in the open about her cutting herself. Mia CLEARLY CAN’T HANDLE everything that has happened. She NEEDS better boundaries, but she also needs love and acceptance. So it is ALL a fine line. They need to get her the BEST therapist ASAP!!

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      3. I wrote a review about Grace and Carrick handing them to Elena, whether it was me or not and I do need to re read this chapter again BUT – of course I feel for Mia as she is obviously suffering a mental breakdown. However, and here is my BUT how again could Grace as a Doctor not know or have some suspicions about Mia’s behaviour? It’s like I get it with all the drama over Carrick and then of course the way poor Calliope was born would be stressful to the family and of course Grace, but her head is in the clouds as far as I am concerned as a parent and I’ll say it again if I didn’t articulate it before I think Grace needs to mind her on business on what she wants i.e what type of wedding they were going to have, that it should be Catholic and then of course pretty much sticking her head in with wanting Calliope to be christened, while as far as I remember she hasn’t demanded all of this she is obviously concerned enough to be always putting in her two cents worth about these matters which are no one of her business.I know it is hard sometimes being to close to a situation and not knowing it’s bad until it’s bad but gee Grace really does my head in. It’s like oh Elena is I jail now so we don’t need to worry anymore as a Doctor I would say ever hear of PSTD? And given Elena’s stunt from prison she obviously is a threat as she knows who is behind all of this so you would think Grace now more then ever with everything that has gone on she would be on high alert? After all, look how Christian handled himself after years at the hand of a predator? Does she think Mia would just be ok? I know it’s easy to play the blame game but To me it’s like Carrick plays bad cop and Grace plays good cop when it comes to their children, but to me Grace wants to be Mia’s friend in situations when really she needs a mother to nurture her and give her the discipline she obviously needs. It shouldn’t have to fall on to Christian which is what I feel is slowly happening and in turn Ana, they are young and new parents they shouldn’t be doing Grace’s job.

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  26. Romantic Christian makes me swoon. Love that he got 😢 eyed and he swayed with Calliope for a whole song. While I hope Carter is there to help, his timing is suspect. Especially, since nothing happened at the first venue. Maybe, something was going to, via Carter but when The Conspiracy realized the venue was changed, they changed tactics. But still I’d liked to think he was there to help but if he is, he’s going to be playing a dangerous game, where he pretends to be in cahoots with The Conspirator. I still wonder about Krommer and I’m curious as to why Luke was cute out of the plans for the second venue. Though, I think if Christian suspected him he wouldn’t let him around Calliope. Poor Mia, she’s a tortured soul right now. She needs to talk to someone asap to let them know what’s bothering her. She obliviously feels guilty but she may still be sitting on information that she doesn’t realize is still significant. Maybe, if she can help bring this person down it’ll relieve her of some of the guilt. Also, I’m curious if anyone read Ana’s mother’s letters to see if there was any info in it but if there was something that would get her daughter out of danger and she knew it, you’d think she’d at least tell Ray. Also, will Chanp be making an appearance again? I can see him sniffing out the culprit and taking them down. I’m sure he’ll be really sweet with the baby and super protective. Thanks for the great chapter!

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    1. I, also, wanted to know if Ana turned over Carla’s letters to anyone. We KNOW Ana wouldn’t read them, but Carla may indicate something in them that would SHOW she was “influenced” by someone to do what she did.

      I was also initially surprised thta Luke was cut out of the 2nd wedding preparations, but that actually makes good sense. AFTER ALL, even Luke recognized the need to treat himself and others as suspects until RULED OUT. Even ANA didn’t know about the second wedding, and Kate was not informed until the day. THAT WAY, there was NO risk of ANY leaks. And it SEEMS to have worked. So much so that CARTER was sent in by the Conspiracy.

      I’m also hoping that Carter is there to help. IF Carter really is a decent guy trying to help the women he previously liked/loved, then Mr. Conspiracy Head would EXPECT CARTER to run DIRECTLY to Ana and Christian. Which WOULD potentially get him a location on their whereabouts.

      So I don’t doubt that Carter has had contact with the Conspiracy. It is just whether or not he is a WILLING participant that concerns me.

      (And I miss Champ as well. Considering he is the reason Ana is alive, I kind of expected them to have made him the ring-bearer! But for obvious reasons, that probably couldn’t happen. He is presumably being WELL cared for. But we have not had mention of him for some time.)

      Like

  27. The best wedding chap in fsog ff-world ever. The way you write makes my emotion move in sync with Ana’s roller-coster ride to the end. She tenses, I tense; she smiles, I smile. And I feel so proud when she finally feels to be on cloud nine, and I cheer for both C & A with happy tears rolling down my face. What a ride through the whole trilogy. Nothing else can break such strong bond. Thank you, Tara, for your master mind.

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  28. “A wedding is for daughters and fathers. The mothers all dress up, trying to look like young women. But a wedding is for a father and daughter. They stop being married to each other on that day.”
    ― Sarah Ruhl
    “That’s what marriage was at its best: You didn’t have to tell your partner to look out, that you were falling. They were just there to catch you.”
    ― Jamie Brenner

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  29. That was a beautiful wedding! I was touched that Christian really knew what Ana wanted and just wanted her to have a perfect day. I hope Carter is a good guy and wants to sincerely help them.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Oooo I had feeling carter would know something or not! But I hope him telling Christian and Ana doesn’t get him hurt. Now for the wedding, I knew Christian would give her the wedding she dreamed, especially seeing how she was acting before leading up to it, and to ploy their attacker! Everything was beautiful and perfect I loved it can’t wait for Monday

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