Chapter 43

today-show-logo

“Alright, Mrs. Grey. How’s that?”

I look up at my reflection the mirror in front of me and frown. This morning, I’m going to be making my first national television appearance and the makeup artist at the Today show has painted my lips bright scarlet. It makes my eyes look heavy and my skin more pale, something I don’t need help with. It’s too much.

“Umm…”

“Get that crap off of her,” Lydia says, coming up behind me. “Her makeup should be neutral, flawless, and above all else, understated. She’s an author, not Katy Perry.”

“Right,” the makeup artist says. She seems bitter as she picks up a makeup removing wipe and begins scrubbing my lips down while Lydia leans against the counter and stares at me.

“You ready?”

“Yes.” I try to exude confidence, even if I don’t feel it.

“Good. I’ve just talked to the stage manager and it looks like Lauer is going to try and turn this into a Dr. Phil special. You are not going to let him. People don’t buy sad books, Anastasia. They buy hopeful books. You will not let this interview be about what has happened, you will make it about how you have survived. This book is about strength and the resilience of hope. You got, that?”  

“Yeah. Of course.”

She nods. “Then go get yourself on the New York Times bestseller list. You go on in twenty minutes.”

I smile at her as she pushes herself away from the counter and claps me on the arm, then let out a long, calming breath into the mirror. When my makeup is finished and I’m left alone to collect my thoughts, my eyes flit down to my phone. Unfortunately, it’s 6:50 in the morning in New York, so not even 4 AM in Seattle, which means Christian probably isn’t up yet. Thankfully though, he texted me his reassurances last night so I’d have them to read over and over again before I go on air this morning.

Just go out there and be the woman I fell in love with and you’ll capture the heart of everyone watching.

I smile down at the screen and then glance over my shoulder to make sure no one is coming to collect me for my interview before deciding to try and call Christian anyway. I’m not there after all, and he usually doesn’t sleep as well alone. But, after dialing his number, I wait through a long litany of droning rings before I finally get his voicemail. Ignoring the sinking feeling of disappointment, I leave a message.

“Hey, I’m about to go on Today. Wish me luck. I miss you and love you.”

“Mrs. Grey?” I turn to see a young woman who’s wearing a headset and carrying a clipboard peaking uncertainly at me through a long black curtain. “This is your set call.”

“Thank you,” I tell her, then hang up the phone and check my appearance in the mirror one more time before sliding out of my chair and making my way to the set where I’ll be doing my segment.

To my surprise, there’s already another person waiting there, and he looks as nervous as I do. When he sees me though, his eyes widen.

“Oh! You’re… you’re Anastasia Steele.”

“Grey,” I reply, but the gentle correction only makes his eyes widen further. “I’m sorry… do I know you?”

“No.” He shakes his head as if to center himself and then reaches his hand out for mine. “I’m sorry, I’m Keith Brooks. I’m an author too… I’m recording my segment with Lauer after you for later in the week. I uh… I’m published through SIP. I think your husband owns it.”

“Oh, yeah. He does.” I smile at him. “I worked there last summer.”

He laughs. “Yeah, I uh… I know. They still talk about how good you were, actually. Especially with the stuff about the eReader. From what I’ve heard, I kind of wish you’d stayed and you could have represented me. I’ve watched your publicist running around barking orders at people all morning to make sure you don’t have any surprises during your interview and, hell I don’t even think mine showed up today.”

“No? Who’s working with you?”

“Jack. I mean, Hyde. Jack Hyde.”

“Oh…” I bite down nervously on my bottom lip as I turn to look at Luke, sitting on a chair across the stage from me, glancing interestedly between Keith and I as he sips his coffee and rocks Calliope’s carrier back and forth in the chair next to him. “And Jack? He’s here in New York with you?”

“Yeah, I mean… I think. He was on the fight, but I haven’t seen him this morning. He was hitting the bottle the bottle pretty hard at dinner though, I bet he’s just hung over. I’ve kind of heard that about him…”

“Right.” I swallow awkwardly and glance back at the main set where Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera are talking about today’s big headline. The last time I saw Jack was at the GEH New Year’s Eve Gala and he’d been drunk that night too. He also hadn’t seemed too happy to see me…

What was it he said to me?

“Mrs. Grey, they’re ready for you on set,” the stage manager says to me, breaking my concentration.

“Right,” I smile at her, then turn back to Keith.

“Good luck, and congratulations on your deal. I hope you do well.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Grey. And, you as well.”

With a smile, I shake his hand and then follow the state manager onto the overly lit set, where she gestures for me to take a seat on the couch. Lydia rushes up to me to offer one last bit of advice and then takes my phone while the crew hooks me up to a mic pack.

“Alright, Matt will be here in about 45 seconds,” the stage manager tells me. “We’re going to start on camera three, just him, and he’ll give some background about you and your book. Then we’ll change to camera one, right there, on the both of you. I don’t want you to worry about any of that though, you just focus on Matt. We like these things to feel as conversational as possible.”

“Right,” I agree.

“Good luck.” She winks and then moves hurriedly off the stage while Matt Lauer moves onto the set with a few staff members surrounding him, holding out papers for him to read over while he prepares to change segments.

“Mrs. Grey,” he greets me, holding out his hand for mine. “May I call you Anastasia on air?”

“Oh, please. Ana even.”

“Great.” He smiles and then sits in the sofa across from me, letting one of the assistants powder his face while the stage manager counts us down into the segment. When she points silently at Lauer, he immediately switches into his TV persona.

“For over a year, Seattle based Grey Enterprises Holdings has dominated national headlines because of the successes and scandals of the company’s billionaire CEO, Christian Grey and his longtime girlfriend, now wife, Anastasia Steele. This weekend was no different as their highly publicized elopement has thrust their names back into the news, and today, I have Anastasia Grey here with me to talk about her much anticipated first novel, Escape, which the critics all seem to summarize in one word. Remarkable.” He turns to me. “Thank you for being with us today, Ana.”

“Good morning, Matt.” I smile back at him. “Thank you for having me.”

“So, we have to start this morning with the wedding…”

“Do we?” I joke, wrinkling my nose, and he laughs.

“For weeks all of the details of this lavish ceremony are being reported to the press. The castle just outside of Seattle, what dress you’re going to wear, and the millions of dollars of jewelry on loan from De Beers. Then the day comes and…” his voice trails off.

“And we had private ceremony all on our own.”

“But why?”

“For exactly the reasons you just listed. We didn’t call up The Times or TMZ to tell them what I was wearing or where we were getting married, it all just leaks. You know, someone fits my dress and then talks to a reporter and suddenly it’s splashed all over the paper. Christian and I just wanted one day away from all of that. So, we gave the media the event they all wanted but kept our actual ceremony as a private affair between us and our family.”

“But what about your guests?”

I laugh. “Oh, Christian left them with quite the party. There was a band and dancing, really great food, and favors for all of the guests to take home. My security team just told me this morning that we’re still getting emails thanking us for such a lovely time and congratulating us. I think a lot of them are happy to be apart of the story.” I smile, but his face suddenly goes serious.

“I did notice when you came in this morning, you had a full security detail with you. Is that because of the incident that occurred last March?”

I take a breath. I’ve rehearsed these questions with Lydia over and over again, trying to prepare myself, but somehow, the reminder still triggers an uncomfortable reaction in me and my response comes out sounding a little weak. “Mhmm.”

He gives me a sympathetic smile and then turns to the camera to give a brief synopsis of the attempted kidnapping before cutting away to a video segment that I can watch on the screen behind us. It begins with the audio of Christian’s panicked phone call to the police, reporting me missing. I’ve never heard this before and it throws me off guard. Hearing the desperation in his voice is agony as I remember those terrifying few hours, Christian’s heartbreaking confession afterwards, and the horrifying dreams and terror that plagued me for weeks after I was home again. So, once video segment is over and Lauer turns back to me, I’m feeling a little dazed.

“Terrifying,” he says. “Ana, can you walk us through that day?”

I swallow and stare blankly back at him, the silence between us weighing heavily on me. I can feel the eyes of everyone in the room boring into us as they wait for me to answer and fill the dead air space, but my mind is blank. I glance over at Lydia, standing just off set. This is exactly what she warned me about and she motions for me to smile and keep the conversation upbeat. I take a breath and look back at Lauer.

“It was a horrifying experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It changed me, and the way I look at the world, but… it also gave me strength. That’s the message of my book. Strength in the face of adversity and the resilience of hope. It’s why I wrote this novel and it’s why I’m here today. To share that message.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Lydia beam and punch her fist in the air. Lauer doesn’t seem too pleased that I’ve robbed him of the chance to draw out my own personal horrifying experiences for the sake of engaging TV drama, but he doesn’t miss a beat as he’s forced to follow my lead and change the subject to my book.

I feel a small sense of victory to have most of the segment to discuss what I’ve written rather than the drama that constantly surrounds my life. Matt gives me the chance to talk about the emotions I put into the novel and how healing the entire writing process was. I express what I want out of publishing, which is to find people looking for a lifeline and offer it to them. I want to make people feel hopeful and optimistic after they’ve experienced tragedy.

“I worked through my own trauma thanks to the love and support of my family and through putting what I was feeling down on paper and leaving it on the page. If even one person who is struggling with heartbreak, or loss, or devastation can read this book and come out of it feeling like there’s light at the end of the tunnel, then I’ve accomplished what I’ve set out to do.”

Lauer smiles at me and turns for the camera again. “The book is called Escape, and it’s in stores today. Do yourself a favor, really, and pick up a copy. It truly is a life changing read.” He thanks me one last time and then looks at the camera focused only on him. “We’ll be right back.”

“And we’re off,” someone yells from off set. Immediately everyone, including myself, relaxes.

“Great interview,” Lauer says, reaching out to shake my hand. “Not what I expected… but your passion for this project really came through. You may have a career in journalism.”

“I think I’m going to stick to writing,” I say with a laugh, and he smiles back at me.

“Good-luck, Ana.”

I wait as he turns to walk back to the main stage where Meredith Vieira is still sitting, and then let out a long, relieved sigh. My first, solo, national interview is out of the way.

“Anastasia!” Lydia cries with excitement as she rushes towards me. “That was fantastic! They didn’t tell me about that video cut or I would have stopped it, but you handled it like a seasoned pro! I mean, maybe next time just a little less pause, but phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal.”

“Really?”

“Absolutely. Now let’s go get you changed. We’re going to tape for The View and then we’ve got a book signing in downtown Manhattan before we head to Boston and Cambridge tonight for your reading at Harvard tomorrow.”

“Alright.” I stand and wait for Luke to follow me back to my dressing room, where I have approximately seven minutes to change.

“You did good, kid,” he tells me as I separate the dress bag Lydia has labeled The View from the other garments currently hanging on the wardrobe rack. “Personally, I’m a little offended that you seemed to credit your realization that life can go on after tragedy to writing this book rather than to the billion and one times I’ve watched It Happened One Night with you, but you know. You do you, I guess.” He gives me a teasing smile and I roll my eyes.

“Will you get out of here so I can change please?”

“As long as you promise not to wallow in guilt over that gross oversight you made out there.”

“I promise.” He hands Calliope off to the nanny, instructing her to follow stage security so they can load the car seat in the van and we can get out of here on time, then steps back out into the hall and leans against the wall just outside the door. After I’ve very purposefully slammed the door behind him, I let out a laugh through my nose and turn back to the wardrobe rack again. The moment I begin to pull down the zipper though, there’s a noise to my right and I turn just in time to see the bathroom door swing open and someone fly out at me.

“Don’t scream, don’t scream, don’t scream,” the stranger whispers, covering my mouth with his hand. “Don’t scream, it’s okay.”

My body seizes and I can taste something acrid creep into my mouth as the traumatizing memories begin flooding over me and panic sets in, but once the initial shock of his appearance gives way to the rush of adrenaline, I recognize that the man who has a hold of me. It’s Jack Hyde.

He doesn’t look the way the man who grabbed me last time did. There isn’t inexplicable fiery hatred behind his eyes. Instead, he looks almost pained, regretful, and I take that moment of hesitation to shove against his chest and pry his grip away from me.

“Jack, what are you doing in here?” I ask angrily. He frowns and lets out a huff that makes it so I can smell the alcohol on his breath.

“Ana…”

“You need to get out of my dressing room right now or Christian is going to have your job.”

“No… he won’t.”

I feel my face contort at the audacity of his drunken response. “You’re right. He’ll have it because you’re an incompetent fool who should be out with his client rather than stumbling around a televsion studio wasted and stalking my bathroom. What are you doing here?”

“I’m not supposed to be here.”

“No, you’re not.” I agree. “So, let’s go.”

I grab ahold of his jacket and attempt to pull him towards the door, but he doesn’t budge.

“Ana, I’m sorry.”

I turn around, giving him a hard, unsympathetic look, but notice his adam’s apple bob as he swallows, hard. “I never wanted to be apart of this…”

“Apart of wha-” My voice cuts off as he reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a knife. Instantly, the panic returns with paralyzing force. My eyes widen with fear as I instinctively take a step back and try to find my voice to call for help. “Lu-!”

He lunges, knocking me to the floor, but as he attempts to climb on top of me, I knee him in the groin and start to scream. The door flies open and Luke comes back into the room, weapon already drawn.

“Back away,” he commands, his voice calm but deadly. Jack tenses but slowly rolls off of me and drops the knife from his hand. “Get up and back against the wall. Do you have any other weapons on you?”

“No.” He takes several paces backwards, hands still raised in the air, until his back is flush against the wall. Luke approaches him cautiously, then reaches out and pats him down without ever losing his sights.

“Why don’t you take a seat, Hyde,” he says, but it’s more of a command than a suggestion. “You and I can have a little talk before they come take you away.”

“You might as well just call them. I can’t…” He swallows again. “I’m not going to tell you anything.”

“We’ll see.” Luke turns to me. “Ana, Lydia is down the hall. Walk to her, slowly, tell her that you’re not going to make your interview this afternoon, then call Hsu. Tell him we have a man to take into custody.”

Hyde laughs. “You think the police are going to help you?”

“No, I don’t.” Hyde’s face falters with confusion as he stares into Luke’s cold eyes.

“Ana, get out of this room. Now.”

I glance worriedly between the two of them, but nod and quickly back out of the room. The second the door closes behind me, there’s a loud crash from inside that makes me jump but I ignore it and take a steadying breath.

Despite Luke’s instructions, my first priority is to make sure Calliope was put in the car where she was supposed to be and not intercepted along the way. My heart thuds heavily in my chest as I hurry down the hall to the back doors, and I have to hold the wall to keep myself upright. But when I find her safely buckled into her seat, staring up at the small plastic toys spinning slowly over her head from the brace, relief washes through me and I’m able to think clearly once again.

“Give her to me,” I say to the nanny, using fumbling fingers to reach down and unbuckle the seatbelt that holds her carrier in place. Ava gives me a confused look as I pull Calliope from the car, but I don’t take the time to explain what has happened before heading back inside in search of my publicist and my phone.

I grip so tightly to the handle of Calliope’s car seat while I make my way back down the hallway of the studio that the strain in my knuckles actually starts to hurt. The discomfort doesn’t make me ease my hold though. I can’t. Horrible visions run through my mind of someone streaking by and snatching the carrier from my hand, like an old woman’s purse on a busy city street, and the fear that builds inside of me makes the thirty, maybe forty, foot walk from the door to where Lydia is pacing back and forth while she talks on the phone feel like an eternity.

“Hold on a second,” she says to whoever it is she’s speaking with and then pulls the phone away from her mouth. “Ana, what are you doing? We’ve got to get going.”

“We’re not going to make it,” I reply blankly. I’m crashing from the adrenaline rush and, as shock takes over, my body starts to shake.

“What are you talking about? Go get dressed, we’re going to get there with plenty of time.”

“No, you have to…” I swallow and try to clear the racing thoughts that are making it difficult to form a coherent sentence from my mind. “You have to call and cancel. I need my phone.”

“Ana, it’s release day and this is The View. We’re not cancelling. Now, go. Get dressed.”

“Lydia, there’s a man in my dressing room with Luke right now. He was in there waiting for me with a knife. We’re not going to make it to the fucking View.”

“What?” She quickly looks down the hall, and then back at me. “Oh my god, Ana.” Without even offering whoever she’s still on the phone with an explanation, she hangs up and starts to walk down the hall toward my room, but I reach out and grab onto her sleeve to stop her.

“No, no, no,” I say quickly. “Luke is handling it. Just give me my phone!.”

“Your phone? Oh, right.” She reaches into the pocket of her slacks and removes the phone I gave her before my interview. Once I have it in my hands, I glance back in the direction of my room and take a deep breath before slowly flipping through my contacts for the direct line to the FBI agent assigned to our case.

“Hsu.”

“Yes, hi. This is Anastasia Steele, er… Grey.”

“Good morning, Mrs. Grey. What can I do for you this morning?”

“I’m at studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza, Manhattan. I’ve just had someone try to attack me again. Hyde. His name is Jack Hyde, I know him.”

“Are you hurt?” His voice is urgent now.

“No, I’m fine. My CPO was there. We’ve apprehended him.”

“Good. Stay where you are, I’m going to be sending two officers to you to bring him in. Twenty minutes, okay Anastasia?”

“Twenty minutes,” I repeat.

The line goes dead and I take another deep breath to try and calm my pounding heart. Everything around me has taken on a surreal quality, like a dream, and for a moment, I wonder if that’s exactly what this is. I mean, Jack? How did he get involved in this? Sure, he didn’t get the job he wanted and I knew after New Years that he was bitter about it but… enough that he was willing to kill me?

“Should we call security?” Lydia asks.

“Uh… yes. The FBI is on the way so the studio security is going to need to know, but I’ll take care of that. You just focus on clearing my schedule.”

She bites her lip, but eventually nods and scurries away from me to make the necessary calls to cancel all of my remaining appearances for the rest of the afternoon. I continue down the hall, through the rest of the stage crew until I find a security guard standing just off the main set.

He radios in the emergency to his team, but surprisingly is willing to simply stand guard outside my dressing room while Luke finishes whatever he’s doing inside. I’m not interested in finding out what that is or hearing the repercussions of what may be going on, so I remain at the end of the hall, being sure to keep myself and Calliope in sight of as many people as possible, and then try to work through everything that happened so I can be clear and concise when the agents on their way show up and pull me aside for questioning.

The one thing I keep ruminating on is the reluctance I saw in Jack’s eyes. This whole thing felt so much different than last time, sloppier and much less thought out. I mean, Luke was standing right outside my door. If he planned to take me, I don’t know how he thought he would have gotten me out, and if he planned to just kill me, he would have been caught immediately. The question is, was that Jack’s ineptitude or is the man behind this starting to panic and making rash decisions? And if this was his big attempt to get to me, what does that mean for Carter and Atlanta?

Was that all just a ruse?

A new wave of panic crosses over me as I realize that, if Atlanta was a red herring, then Taylor is stranded uselessly down south while Christian is back in Seattle with only Kommer there for protection. Is that enough? My hands fly for my phone and I once again try to call Christian, but when he still doesn’t answer, this time I feel a rush of cold and my scalp begins to tingle with fear.

Again and again, I try Christian’s phone, but I never get through. Several important people from NBC come down to talk to me, looking horrified that I was attacked in their building, but I decline their offers for another room and choose instead to wait in plain sight until the FBI agents arrive. It’s hard to get them to leave me alone, but after ignoring them long enough while I continue frantically calling Christian, they eventually back off. In total, I make thirty two calls, and I get his voicemail thirty two times. Tears prick my eyes as I force myself not to think about why he may not be answering. He’s in the shower. He’s got to be in the shower. Or at the gym. He’s upstairs lifting and the music is too loud for him to hear his phone ring. My body slumps against the wall.

“Please,” I whisper, a plea to the universe, and then tears start to roll down my cheeks.

 

Luke comes out of my dressing room only seconds before the agents Hsu sent arrive, which means I have no time to speak with him before they pull him aside to get the story of what has happened.

“He attacked her, I stopped him,” Luke says simply, nodding in my direction.

“And your hands?” I glance down and see his knuckles are cut and covered in blood, which seems to have also splattered over his pristine white shirt.

“He resisted.”

“Right.” The agent turns to look at the NBC executives once again hovering close by. “Is there a room we can use to interview the witnesses?”

“Of course, right this way.”

We’re led down another hall into a different, much smaller dressing room and then separated so they can take our stories individually. Thankfully, the entire thing happened so fast and without much fanfare that I’m able to answer the questions from the agent interviewing me fairly quickly. Mostly, I tell him about my history with Jack and everything I know of him, but when the agent asks if I could think of anything that would give him motive to help the man trying to harm my husband and I, I again find myself coming up short.

“I don’t know,” I tell him. “A job, I guess. He works for Christian and he didn’t get the job he wanted.”

“We’ll see what we can find out, Mrs. Grey. Don’t you worry.” He closes his book and shakes my hand, then leaves me to wait for Luke, who is interviewed for much longer. It’s mid-afternoon before we’re both finally cleared to leave the scene but as Lydia organizes the transportation of all my things, Luke pulls me back into the dressing room so we can talk in private.

“Have you heard from Christian?” I ask immediately.

“What? No, I haven’t had a chance to call them yet… Are you okay?”

“No. I can’t get Christian on the phone. I’ve called over forty times and nothing. His family hasn’t heard from him. Elliot was on his way to Escala to check on him, but he hasn’t called me back. Luke, what if…” My voice cuts off as I can’t force myself to verbalize my darkest fears, so Luke picks up his phone. He works his way through the entire chain of command, but he can’t reach Christian, Kommer, Ryan, or Taylor and no one knows where they are. Each phone call that puts us at a dead end is like a punch in the gut, winding me, until I physically can’t breathe.

“What do you want to do, Ana?” Luke asks.

I shake my head, unable to speak. I don’t know what I want to do. Fly to Seattle, maybe? But what if the reason he’s not answering his phone is because Hsu called him right after we got off the phone and he got a flight to New York? That sounds like something he would do. It’s the first even semi-logical reason I’ve had for Christian’s silence and I cling to that tiny ray of hope in order to prevent myself from falling completely apart.

“What did Jack say?” I ask weakly, another distraction.

“What?”

“Jack. What did he say? Please tell me he gave you something useful.”

He takes a deep breath and sighs. “He doesn’t know who it is.”

I let out a bitter laugh and shake my head. “So he lied to you.”

“No, I really don’t think so. He’s not in this deep like Elena Lincoln or Leila Williams was. Which makes me feel better since I checked up on him and ruled him out as a candidate months ago when we still thought Welch was trying to drum up support to oust Grey from GEH and SIP was listed on Welch’s contacts. He hadn’t received any payments or taken any suspicious leave, so I didn’t think he had been involved, but it turns out he’s not helping him for money. He’s only here because he’s being blackmailed.”

“What?”

“Apparently, he’s got an affinity for some really fucked up shit in the bedroom, particularly with girls who aren’t exactly legal yet…”

“Are you…? Oh my god!”

“Yeah. Anyway, the head guy has pictures and and video of him and some girls that he hacked off his computer so signing up for this plot against Grey was the only way for Hyde to keep the evidence of his perversions from making it into the hands of the police. He was supposed to come for you last night, but he got the wrong hotel.” He fights a very self-satisfied smile and I remember that he’d purposefully convoluted my accommodation arrangements for this exact purpose. “The good news is, if he tries anything to get out of this with the FBI, it’s still not going to work out great for him. From what we know of this guy, he doesn’t seem to have a very forgiving nature when it comes to the people he has working for him not coming through, and this was Hyde’s second assignment. He got this because he’d already fucked up the first.”

“Which was?”

“He’s been waiting for Elena’s manuscript. His job was to use his connections in the publishing industry and put it in the hands of someone who would make sure it hit shelves by summer. But he never got the manuscript. The person who was supposed to deliver it to him, Elena’s contact at the prison who I haven’t been able to track down, never sent it. Well, that isn’t true. He did send it. He just sent it to you, not Hyde.”

“He? As in…”

“No. Not him. Just another one of his henchmen.”

“Did Hyde say who he was?”

He nods. “Isaac Warren.”

“Isaac Warren?” I pause. Something about the name nags at me even though it isn’t familiar. Luke promises he’ll start digging tonight to find out who he is, but before he’s through encouraging me about how positive this development is, my eyes suddenly widen with recognition.

“Isaac,” I repeat. “Oh, my god Isaac. Luke, it’s Elena’s submissive.”

He pauses, considering what I’ve said, and then begins to slowly nod. “From the bar. Holy fuck, he worked at the bar. We still have the employment records that Grey used to hunt down all those girls. If he’s was an employee, we should have his phone number and address. Or an old one that could lead us to where he is now.”

“And if he’s acting as a liaison for Elena…”

“Then he definitely know who it is.” He smiles, and jumps out of his seat. “Come on, I’ve got to get to my laptop. We’ve got work to–”

His words cut off at the sound of my ringtone and when I reach down to pick up my phone and see Christian’s name on the screen, relief more tangible than I’ve ever felt before crosses through me.

“Oh my god, Christian,” I breathe when I answer.

“Ana, what’s going on? Are you okay?”

“Yes.” Warmth fills my veins at the sound of his voice, distracting me from the worry ladening his gravelly tone. “I mean, I was attacked again but…”

“What!”

“I’m fine,” I say quickly. “It was Jack Hyde. He tried to grab me while I was changing to leave the studio but Luke was here and nothing happened. I’m okay, Calliope is okay, we’re all perfectly safe. The FBI is here now.”

“Hyde?” In just that one word, I can hear the anger in his voice, and when he speaks again, I can hear his temper threatening to boil out of control. “That son of a bitch…”

“They just took him away.” I assure him. “He’s in custody, and he’s going to have to answer for his part in this. But the real point here is that Atlanta was a ruse, Christian. He used Carter to send Taylor on a wild goose chase. You were right, he was trying to separate our security team. Call him. Bring him home. They could try to go for you next.”

“Ana…”

“He talked, Christian. Jack talked. He doesn’t know who’s behind this but he told us the plan was to come for me in New York, not Atlanta, and he gave us a name. Someone who might lead us to him. The person who sent the manuscript and who’s been coordinating contact between this guy and Elena, is Isaac. Her submissive. He knows who he is, Christian. So all we have to do is find Isaac and we’ve got him.” I pause, waiting for his elated or at least relieved reaction, but it doesn’t come. “Christian, did you hear me?”

“Yeah, I heard you.”

“Then why aren’t you more excited? Christian, we have a lead. A good lead.”

“No, we don’t. We already have Isaac.”

“Wait, what? You do?”

“Yes.” He pauses again. “Ana, the reason I missed your calls this morning is because I was on a flight. To Georgia. It wasn’t a ruse, it’s just… Atlanta wasn’t the target.”

“What do you mean? What the target? Is Isaac there?” He doesn’t answer me right away, and when he does, there’s a nervous quiver in his voice that immediately has every one of the hairs on the back of my arms and neck standing on end.

“Baby…”

“What?”

“Isaac was the contact sent to help Reed. Last night, they were sent to eliminate their target and when Taylor and Ryan went to intervene, all hell broke loose. Several people were severely injured, others were killed. Isaac was one of them.”

My scalp tingles again and my throat goes dry. “One of them?”   

“Ana, baby. I’m so sorry…”

“Who?” My voice quivers and it takes Christian several long seconds to finally answer me.

“Your mom is in the hospital. You need to get here as quickly as you can.”

Next Chapter

Advertisements

94 thoughts on “Chapter 43

  1. What a heavy chapter… i knew that we wouldn’t get in this chapter the name of Mr Conspiratory, but I didn’t expect that much of actions.
    I read it so fast because I was getting agitated (and in class, but priorities first)… now I have to re-read it.
    I was so worried that Christian was the target… but what I didn’t full understand was if Carla was the target or if she was a colateral.

    With every new chapter you make the wait more painful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mr. Conspiracy Head targets anyone that does not complete the tasks that HE assigns to them. We SUSPECTED that Carla’s actions at the hospital MAY have been coerced in some fashion. (After all, no one wants to believe that Carla could be THAT selfish and unfeeling to all the Greys. She had them believing Calliope was dead. And given her close relationship to Grace previously, it did NOT make sense for her to go that far UNLESS she had been approached by someone.)

      It seemingly NOW explains Carla’s actions and her determination to get Ana and Calliope AWAY from Christian. Carla even went WITHOUT Christian’s security. The ONLY reason she would do this, in retrospect, was that she believed she would NOT be attacked by Mr. Conspiracy Head. Which would ONLY happen if HE could use her for some particular purpose.

      I hope Ana saved Carla’s letters, since Carla may have said something in those letters, KNOWING that she would most likely be a target. I find it INTERESTING that Mr. Conspiracy Head waited until AFTER the wedding to attack Carla—it may have been that HE thought that Carla might get a last minute invitation to the wedding that HE could use to his advantage. Once it was clear that Ana would NOT relent and allow Carla back into her life, then Carla’s “use” to Mr. Conspiracy Head was ENDED. Her DEATH would cause Ana the PAIN that Mr. Conspiracy Head wanted to cause AND get HIM a potential chance to TARGET Ana and Christian once again. AFTER ALL, Christian cannot carefully plan everything around the rush to get to the hospital in Georgia. And everyone is distracted now.

      And for Mr. Conspiracy Head’s people to have gotten so close to outright killing Carla, then TAYLOR is undoubtedly injured as well. Security is stretched WAY too thin again. And everyone will NOW be heading to Georgia.

      And if Ana’s family could be attacked, then the GREY family could also be targets while Christian and Ana are in Georgia. Let us hope that the Grey family has enough sense to stay together at the family mansion! So many possibilities! Mr. Conspiracy Head could choose to target any NUMBER of people while everyone scrambles to regroup. And Mr. Conspiracy Head will NOW know where Christian AND Ana AND Calliope would naturally be for the foreseeable future (Georgia), which is NOT their home turf.

      I wonder what Bob Adams knows? Did Carla tell him anything?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks for your thoughs! Now I understand it better. With the rush of reading it and all that information together, I didn’t catch everything.
        What I can’t understand is what could have had Mr Conspiratory Head to put Carla against the Greys and trying to make them believe that Calliope was dead. I mean, she didn’t seem preasured, she had formed a bad opinion about Christian. It had to be someone close to her in order to believe him. What I’m trying to say is that if I was her and some random man came to my house telling me bad things about my son-in-law, I wouldn’t believe him (less make that selfish move as it was making everyone think Calliope was dead). But if someone that I knew was close to me or Ana or Christian and that could have real information, maybe I could be worried and make some crazy moves. Do you get what I am trying to say?
        And I also hope that Carla wrote something in those letters… but I find it strange that security didn’t look into them.
        I see the final coming… but I also see us waiting a lot of chapters in order to know who Mr Conspiratory Head is (btw I think that we can cross Hyde off the list.

        Like

      2. andiegrey,

        I am like you. Carla’s actions leave more QUESTIONS than answers. WHY would she suddenly turn against Christian in such a drastic fashion. I mean, it was like she hated him and his family. She seemingly BLAMED them for everything, which just doesn’t make sense. IF she was approached, then WHY would she have worked with HIM voluntarily, especially since HE seemed to want to harm Ana?

        We just don’t know yet WHY Carla did what she did at the hospital AND what led up to her actions. ALSO CONCERNING to me is the fact that we have not seen or heard ANYTHING from Bob Adams since who knows when.

        After all, BOB was involved in Ana’s life enough to have attended a Dad’s Weekend at Harvard during one of the years that Ana and Christian were apart. YET he doesn’t come to the hospital when she was supposedly DYING???? This was his step-daughter. Ray was the one left to deal with Carla at the hospital, NOT Bob.

        And if you look back through the chapters, WHEN was the last time that Bob actually was with Carla? It was RAY that transported Carla to graduation, and even then, Carla wouldn’t agree to security.

        So something seems funny to me. I mean, an attack of this nature that is ordered on someone’s HOME would HAVE to draw attention. The police can’t ignore the obvious, especially when the FBI will HAVE to be involved. After all, this attack by Mr. Conspiracy Head occurred in still yet another state. And the press surrounding the hospital should be huge, given Carla’s relationship to Ana, who is NOW a GREY. While in SOME ways Mr. Conspiracy Head gets intel as HE will KNOW where Ana and CHristian are likely to be, it would still seem harder to attack them with so much attention.

        And we don’t know yet if Carter has survived or WHERE Carter even is. SAME with Ryan and Taylor. If Carla is not yet dead, then SOMEONE else has to be, as the only other death we KNOW about now is Isaac. And for Christian NOT to have called Luke or put the Grey family on alert, EVERYTHING must have happened FAST. So fast that Christian had NO time to call in the police or FBI or do much else than board a plane, KNOWING violence was fixing to occur!

        After all, Isaac must have shown up for Carter ONLY when the plan was in motion. And WHY involve Carter at all? It risked the attack not being successful, UNLESS Mr. Conspiracy Head’s SOLE motivation was to make it look like CARTER had orchestrated everything.

        So we DEFINITELY need facts. And if the attack DID occur at Carla’s home, then we should hear where Bob was during all this. For all we know, BOB had been threatened by Mr. Conspiracy Head or had some information.

        Especially after the attack on Ana, you would not think that Carla would be so anti-Grey. But she suddenly saw CHRISTIAN as being the whole reason her daughter and Calliope were at serious risk. SOUNDS like SOMEONE had been whispering in her ear. And it SOUNDS like Carla is SERIOUSLY injured and expected to die, at least at this point. I hope she is able to provide some INSIGHT and to talk with Ana and make peace with her before she dies. And I definitely hope that BOB wasn’t involved in some way. His surprising absence from recent events surrounding Ana just makes me wonder.

        I guess we will (HOPEFULLY) find out more surrounding Carla next chapter. The LAST thing Ana needs is to NOT have anything resolved, PARTICULARLY with Carla. IF Carla knows something, then she has no reason not to tell it, assuming she can talk.

        Like

  2. Well, I figured Isaac had to be involved. And that Hyde would be an obvious recruit. And we all KNOW that Mr. Conspiracy Head goes after people that DON’T complete the tasks he assigns them, so I DID think that Carla could be at risk IF he had approached her. But as always, I was NOT thinking that Mr. Conspiracy Head would go after Carla YET.

    HOWEVER, this makes sense. Targeting Carla would either bring significant PAIN to Ana, OR it will bring Ana and Christian running to Georgia. So this is one of those obvious things that we SHOULD have seen coming. (And Tara SAID that we weren’t done with Carla.)

    So ISAAC sent the manuscript to Ana! I FIGURED that Hyde would be the intended recipient of the manuscript since he would have publishing contacts. But WHY did Isaac send the manuscript to ANA rather than Hyde? ISAAC probably thought that ELENA WOULD COOPERATE with Christian, since Ana and Christian would OBVIOUSLY seek out Elena at the prison once they got the manuscript. So Isaac was probably trying to HELP save Elena from Mr. Conspiracy Head by giving Elena the chance to come clean to Christian.

    But now Isaac is dead and unable to tell anyone just WHO Mr. Conspiracy Head is. And HYDE DOESN’T KNOW. But Mr. Conspiracy Head has always been about two steps ahead, and I would think that HE would be expecting the Georgia plan to potentially fail. AND if Carla did NOT die, then she would be taken to the hospital. So Mr. Conspiracy Head now KNOWS where Ana and Christian will be. OF COURSE Ana will come immediately to the hospital.

    Just wow. This is one of those developments that should have registered with us. We SUSPECTED that Carla might have been “influenced” by HIM, and that if she had failed, HE would punish her. HE just timed the attack to occur when Ana was on the BOOK TOUR. Just wow.

    So we now DEFINITELY know that Isaac and Hyde aren’t the head of the Conspiracy. (AND Hyde has a history of perverse relationships to explain his natural involvement.) Hyde’s bumbling efforts were clearly not expected to succeed, so Hyde hasn’t been provided with anything that could lead them to HIM, at least not now that Isaac is dead.

    And NOW we know why ELENA is still alive—the manuscript hadn’t made it to its intended target yet. So now that Isaac is dead, I wonder what HE plans to do? Elena could have no further use, and her best plan for ANY chance at survival would be to give HIS name immediately to Christian. Although NOW, Christian and Ana are going to be in Georgia until Carla’s fate is definitely determined.

    So WOW again. The police cannot possibly ignore the Conspiracy NOW. Wonder what Carla’s fate is? Is she able to talk still? Surely she will tell whatever she knows now if she is able.

    Once again, I can’t imagine waiting all the way until next Monday for more answers!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. So at least we know Bob was around on graduation day. But WHY wasn’t he at the hospital? After Carla did what she did, you would think that Bob would have reached out to Ana to either apologize on behalf of Carla or to talk to Ana, one way or another. After all, during the 2 years that Ana was apart from Christian, she went to her mother’s and Bob’s home during at least some of the school breaks and was there for part of the summer after the break-up.

        Grace basically SAVED Ana’s life, as Ana would have bled out had she not received Ray’s blood, which would NOT have happened without Grace. Carla would have to know this. So making Grace think Calliope was dead is MORE than just unfeeling.

        Carla’s actions have an explanation (although NOT a good or satisfying one, from a moral standpoint) if one believes that she planned on keeping Christian in the dark regarding Calliope’s birth so that she could claim Christian abandoned his daughter. Once Carla believed that Ana was going to die, she wanted to ensure that she got Calliope for herself. So she probably thought Christian would leave after Ana died, and Carla would be left to fill out the birth certificate. And she would NOT name Christian as the father.

        But even if Christian was not named as the father, Carla wouldn’t automatically be ensured of custody of Calliope. Doctors’ offices aren’t just supposed to let a relative claim the child without paperwork—they want a custody order PROVING that the relative has the right to make medical decisions for the child, enroll the child in school, etc.

        Still, Carla truly might have gotten away with keeping Calliope for herself if Christian had left after Ana’s death. Many schools allow a relative to enroll the child in school IF you file paperwork claiming the child has been left with you without any support from a parent and has been abandoned by a living parent. But due to Ana having been engaged to Christian GREY, you can’t imagine that it would not have gotten back to Christian that Carla was running around with a baby that would be Calliope’s age. AND Christian would have wanted to know WHERE his daughter was buried, so I can’t see how Carla could hope to get away with it indefinitely, had Ana died.

        So maybe Carla did act all on her own at the hospital with no “undue influence.” But Carla WAS acting strangely before then, absolutely DETERMINED to break-up Ana and Christian immediately when she had previously been making wedding plans with Grace, participating in the baby shower with Grace, etc. And somehow Carla seemed to believe that IF she could just get Ana to break-up wtih Christian, then Christian would be out of their lives permanently, despite Calliope, when we all KNOW that Christian would have never abandoned his daughter and left her without a father.

        We have HEARD how Mr. Conspiracy Head convinced Leila to join him AND what HE supposedly said to Carter. PLUS, in both situations, Mr. Conspiracy Head offered SUBSTANTIAL promises for the future for Leila’s and Carter’s compliance. After all, Leila’s schooling and obviously her living expenses were all funded by Mr. Conspiracy Head so that Leila could spend as much time as possible doing surveillance of Ana. SO I COULD SEE Mr. Conspiracy Head trying to contact Carla, claiming to want to “help” Carla get Ana away from Christian, which would “save” Ana and Calliope. But WHY would Carla believe HIM?

        Sigh. I’m hoping that Carla still lives AND is able to talk about what she knows. Because WHY would Mr. Conspiracy Head target Carla NOW? Since Mr. Conspiracy Head has AVOIDED attention, choosing to orchestrate such an elaborate and vicious attack NOW that was OBVIOUSLY meant to lead to someone’s death SHOULD make the police HAVE to take notice and investigate. So it is reasonable to assume that Mr. Conspiracy Head HAD A COMPELLING REASON to want Carla dead NOW. So it seems like Carla knows SOMETHING and is desperate to be reconciled with Ana. Possibly desperate enough to REVEAL what she knows, thus necessitating Mr. Conspiracy Head risking exposure by killing her NOW.

        But for their to have been MULTIPLE injuries AND deaths, MR. Conspriacy Head must have pulled out ALL the stops to ENSURE that Carla was dead. WHY do that unless he wanted to send a message that nothing was beyond his reach. OR that maybe Carla had failed HIM in some way. I’m just hoping thta Carla KNOWS why she was targeted AND IS WILLING TO TALK, if she is still alive and conscious enough to report what she knows. And maybe where Bob was when all of this was going on, assuming he was not one of the casualties.

        Like

  3. OMG! OMG! I actually don’t want Carla to die. If she does though, I hope she and Ana make their peace. I don’t believe she’s evil. I could be wrong but I think she put her trust in the wrong person and thought she was protecting Anastasia. If she were to pass away before Ana were to arrive and and they made things right between them, then I think Ana will have a whole in her heart forever. So many questions though?! Is the Conspirator dead? Is Carter dead? Is Bob dead? Is Ray there? Also, I’ll read through it again but does this mean Carter Reed is was a bad guy or was just innocently used to try to trick The Greys? 😱

    Like

    1. It SOUNDS like Mr. Conspiracy Head was NOT expecting Ryan or Taylor. The fighting was clearly intense, and the fact that Carla is still alive at all would be due to the UNEXPECTED intervention of Christian’s people.

      So at this time, it SOUNDS like Carter was on the up and up and informed Taylor regarding CARLA being the person targeted for death.

      And knowing how Mr. Conspiracy Head seemingly prepares for multiple possibilities, the attack just MAY have been a way of HIS determining if Carter was REALLY on HIS side or not. ISAAC clearly fought for Elena’s interests to the bitter end. But Mr. Conspiracy Head would KNOW that Isaac had NOT gotten the manuscript to Hyde as directed. So Mr. Conspiracy Head would INTEND TO KILL ISAAC for his failure.

      AND since Mr. Conspiracy Head was undoubtedly INFORMED that Christian and Ana came to talk to Elena about her manuscript, HE probably already deduced that Isaac had sent it to ANA rather than Hyde. So Isaac would have been TARGETED for death then. What better way to get rid of Isaac then in a potentially impossible mission?

      But Mr. Conspiracy Head has obviously done damage. Christian indicated that there were MULTIPLE deaths and SERIOUS injuries. So we don’t know YET if Carter or Taylor OR Ryan even survived the attack. And Carla sounds like she is not long for this world. And this MAY have been Mr. Conspiracy Head’s PLAN all along—to draw Christian AND Ana to Georgia.

      It does NOT sound like Mr. Conspiracy Head expected Christian’s security to arrive on the scene. And THAT would mean that Carter was trying to HELP Christian and Ana. But we should learn definitely next chapter.

      (I’m still wondering if this shows that Mr. Conspriacy Head was too confident in his abilities to talk people into joining HIM that HE just underestimated Carter OR if this was the plan all along. AFTER ALL, Mr. Conspiracy Head, at this time, has only lost a recruit that HE would be PLANNING to kill due to his failure anyway. So if the plan was to LURE everyone to Georgia, then HE has succeeded!)

      Liked by 2 people

  4. So we don’t yet know the fate or injuries for Carter, Ryan OR Taylor. MULTIPLE people were involved, though, and for the sheer amount of injuries and potential deaths, then even MORE people were involved. CARLA has obviously been SERIOUSLY injured and may likely die. What about BOB, her husband?

    So much to think about. I had wondered why no one seemed to suspect ISAAC’s involvement before this when he would have been a likely candidate to be the go-between for Elena. And wonder what ELENA will think when she finds out Isaac is one of the casualties?

    But Isaac was seemingly LOYAL TO ELENA to the bitter end. After all, it makes SENSE that he might send the manuscript to ANA, knowing she would tell Christian. He obviously EXPECTED Christian and/or Ana to confront Elena. He probably HOPED that Elena would give Christian the necessary intel to HIS identity so that HE could be taken down. Isaac didn’t realize that Elena was too GREEDY to disclose anything without some unbelievable payout. NOW, Mr. Conspiracy Head could have no further use for Elena since the manuscript can’t get to where it is supposed to go. HYDE has now been compromised, so if Mr. Conspiracy Head still has a copy of the manuscript, HE will need a new plan to get it published. And ELENA now has NO leverage left.

    So my only comfort from this chapter is that Elena can’t be long for this world. Just wondering if she will make one last frantic attempt to reach Christian now that Isaac has been killed.

    But WHY would Mr. Conspiracy Head need CARTER for this if he had multiple other people? By risking bringing Carter into the mix at the last possible moment, then you have Christian’s SECURITY also in the mix, and it was enough to keep the task from being completely 100% successful. HOWEVER, Mr. Conspiracy Head’s way of operating SEEMS to be that his people die at the end of their usefulness, so He could have always INTENDED Isaac to die in this endeavor.

    But I have SO MANY questions regarding the attack on Carla. Some of those things will be answered in Georgia undoubtedly. Like who survived, and what do they know? And Christian said MULTIPLE PEOPLE WERE SEVERELY INJURED AND KILLED. So in addition to Isaac, SOMEONE else at least was killed. And Carla sounds to be on the severely injured list. And we won’t know until NEXT chapter if Carter, Ryan or Taylor has died or at risk of dying.

    But it SOUNDS like Mr. Conspiracy Head was NOT expecting Ryan and Taylor’s intervention. Which would mean that Carter IS on the up and up. And we don’t YET know if Carter is still alive, although I would think that Christian would have said. And if Carter IS at risk of dying, then you KNOW that Kate will have to be contacted. And I would think that she would WANT to come to the hospital, KNOWING that Carter risked his life to help them.

    So we have MULTIPLE possible individuals descending on Georgia. And that is undoubtedly Mr. Conspiracy Head’s plan. AND Christian will be short some of his most valuable security assets. So Georgia seems to be the place where it ALL will come to head.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder if Carla got hurt putting herself in the line of Fire to save Christian if he was around or Carter. That would be something I could see her doing out of love for Ana. And it would definitely put her back in good grace.

      Like

      1. OR if Carla was coerced into doing some of the stuff she did due to Bob being threatened. Carla loves her daughter. She isn’t the type of person to want her own daughter to suffer. So for Carla to have acted the way she did, she would have had to have a reason, at least, in my opinion.

        (However, being an attorney that does custody cases, I have seen an appalling number of relatives seek to hide a child from another parent in order to try to gain an advantage in a custody case. So Carla’s actions surrounding Calliope sadly COULD be her own. Especially if she thought her daughter was as good as dead. But Christian would NOT have kept Calliope from Carla, and I CANNOT see Carla having any real hope of actually keeping Christian from knowing that she had Calliope longterm. Carla would have HAD to file a custody action, so she couldn’t have hoped to keep Calliope’s being alive from Christian forever. Carla either HAD NOT THOUGHT IT through OR she truly did what she did believing that it would SAVE Calliope. Which would mean that someone HAD contacted her, for whatever reason, and seemingly promised Carla things IF she would separate Ana and Calliope from Christian. Which would only have served to separate and ISOLATE them from Christian, making it easier to HARM them.)

        But Carla’s previous actions seem to be those of a desperate woman. I just want to know if anyone DELIBERATELY made her feel her actions were NECESSARY to protect Ana and Calliope. And WHY BOB ADAMS didn’t try to intervene when Carla was seemingly cut off. After all, he had been a step-father to Ana that seemingly had a decent relationship with her before this. So even if CARLA had gotten cut off, that wouldn’t NECESSARILY mean that BOB would be cut out of Ana’s life forever.

        But there was seemingly NO CONTACT between Bob and Ana or anyone else from Ana’s camp. And I find that surprising. ANA probably thought nothing about it given everything ELSE that was happening, including the wedding and Calliope just being born.

        We KNOW that Carla obviously contacted Ray, but she apparently did NOT tell Ray anything to provide a MOTIVE for what she had done previously. And IF Carla suspected herself to be in danger, you would THINK that she would have told RAY.

        We don’t yet know just HOW the attack went down. After all, with Ryan and Taylor there, you would think Isaac would have been easily enough overpowered with Carter there as well. But Mr. Conspiracy head obviously wouldn’t have put ALL his faith in Isaac and Carter, PARTICULARLY knowing that Isaac didn’t get the MANUSCRIPT to where it was supposed to be. So there were obviously MORE THUGS involved for Mr. Conspiracy Head.

        Christian HAD talked with Carter before he ever went back to Georgia. So I hope this was to formulate a PLAN for what to say to Carter’s FAMILY if anything went wrong, as it now clearly has. After all, I would assume that Carter’s DAD will want to know why his son is injured or dead. AND knowing that there was a DEFINITE THREAT brought to Carter’s AND THEN TO CHRISTIAN’S attention, Carter’s father will undoubtedly want to know why his son was allowed to do this rather than just providing information to the police and/or FBI.

        So Ana is undoubtedly flying into a hullabaloo in Georgia, with Carter’s family and who knows who ELSE involved. Bob’s whereabouts are still unknown, although he may be amongst the casualities. Christian CLEARLY didn’t want to inform Ana OVER THE PHONE about how badly people she KNOWS have faired in the conflict. But MULTIPLE people are AT THE VERY LEAST injured, if not dead. AND those still living will have information and NEED to be questioned. What a mess, PARTICULARLY if Carter’s father doesn’t want his son cooperating further with Christian’s people, assuming Carter lived through it.

        Like

      2. Christina,
        I’d love to think that’s what happened. A (good) parent will do ANYTHING to protect their children.

        Like

      3. That would be the means to making peace with Ana IF Carla had seen that Christian had sent his people to help her AND she ended up saving Christian. But I can’t see this being the case. Christian got on the plane once Carter was contacted, but it seems like Isaac showed up EXACTLY when it was basically time to go and attack. That way, Mr. Conspiracy Head would leave Carter VERY little time to do anything about it if Carter did NOT want to help kill someone.

        So Christian shouldn’t have had time to fly out and get to Carla’s home in time to be part of the action. And if Christian knew a definite TIME for the attack, you would have thought he would call in reinforcements.

        So my current thoughts are that Isaac was sent to get Carter literally on the way to Carla’s so that Carter would NOT have time to alert anyone if he got squeamish once he learned of the Plan. And depending on how long it took to get from Carter’s to Carla’s, then that was ALL the time Ryan and Taylor had to figure out WHERE the attack was going to be and get there in time to try to prevent the carnage. THAT would not have been long enough for Christian to fuel his plane and get to Georgia from Seattle. At least not with enough time to participate in the attack.

        HOWEVER, the above is all speculation. OBVIOUSLY, whenever Christian heard from Taylor, he literally left for the airport without even contacting Ana or Luke. Which I admit doesn’t make sense to me. If you KNOW someone is going somewhere to kill someone, then you call in the authorities, etc. So there is obviously MORE to this then we know. It may be that Carter was told that they were going to Carla’s “for surveillance purposes” only and didn’t learn of the actual plan for attack until there.

        Christian clearly doesn’t want to waste time giving Ana details, since it sounds like Carla may not be long for this world. Christian just wants Ana to get there, and he will give her further details upon arrival. BUT FOR TAYLOR or Ryan NOT to have notified Luke, they both MUST have been injured, at least in my opinion. After all, Taylor and Ryan did NOT have to board a plane—they were already IN Georgia.

        But one thing IS obvious—Christian, Taylor and Ryan didn’t think there would be MULTIPLE attacks occurring virtually simulaneously. And if Mr. Conspiracy Head planned at least TWO attacks, why wouldn’t he plan ANOTHER (maybe at Escala or Bellevue) so that he was GUARANTEED to draw blood from at least ONE OR MORE of family members close to Ana and/or Christian. So I’m hoping that Christian’s learning of the attack by Hyde on Ana will prompt him to PHONE other Grey family members prior to doing anything else, just in case. Because Mr. Conspiracy Head CLEARLY expected to keep Christian AND Ana enough on their toes and worried about others to stay clear-headed and safe.

        Like

    1. I agree. I mean, ANY way this would have gone down was MEANT to cause Ana (and Christian) SERIOUS pain. After all, people Ana KNOWS have been seriously hurt or killed. And Mr. Conspiracy Head sits back, KNOWING that when HIS identity is finally revealed, Ana and Christian will feel still MORE blame in the seeming creation of Mr. Conspiracy Head.

      After all, if it IS Andrew Lincoln, then he WAS a seriously wronged man. And Christian seemingly kept coming after him, continuously taking from him. To Christian, it was “just business” and not personal. But TO ANDREW, it most certainly WAS personal. Christian committed adultery, and then LIED about it on the stand. And that LIE cost Andrew half his assets, INCLUDING the money that Christian used to start GEH. Christian became independently WEALTHY at Andrew’s expense.

      So if it IS Andrew, then Christian WILL have a fair amount of GUILT to deal with in having helped create such a vengeful person. The Andrew Lincoln from back in the day (ADSOF) seemed like a decent man that cared about his wife, at least in his own way. He certainly made himself available, despite his business, to get Elena to holidays with the Greys, since it was so important to her. You even see in one Outtake how Andrew voiced his REGRET that they had not had children, since Elena seemed to enjoy the Grey children so much. So THAT Andrew was nothing like the cold and horrible psychopath that is left now that cares NOTHING for the amount of corpses and ruined lives left in the wake of his revenge plan.

      Regardless of WHO Mr. Conspiracy Head turns out to be, HE is the ultimate “taker,” as described by Carter previously. Seemingly no one connected to Christian has had their life undamaged by this individual, and multiple families have NOW lost their children. So HE is despicable, with no redeeming factors. Even if it IS Andrew Lincoln, you can’t feel pity for him anymore at all. HE has allowed HIS own bitterness to justify, in HIS mind, the killing of people that had NOTHING to do with all this. The body count means NOTHING to HIM. And his POWER to get SO MANY people to do so much is just scary. ANY decency that was in Mr. Conspiracy Head has LONG gone, and NOTHING that was done to HIM justifies the actions HE has now taken.

      But the longer HIS identity goes unknown, the MORE HARM HE can do. So I hope that HIS identity is determined SOONER rather than later. But I’m STILL shocked that no one from Christian’s camp has seemingly even considered the possibility of Andrew Lincoln. NO ONE else would have more reason to QUESTION Christian’s own morality and attack him in such an obviously personal way.

      I know people have suggested The Pimp and Stephen Morton as possible Conspiracy Head’s. But Ella’s pimp abused and threw Christian away after Ella’s death. He has no reason to be bitter against Christian. Same with Stephen Morton. To go to this extreme because Ana got away from him would not make sense, although it could explain the compulsive need to go after Carla. I still say that Andrew Lincoln makes the most sense. I can’t imagine Tara bringing in some unknown force that has had little contact or impact on the story thus far turning out to be the all-powerful and present force of nature that Mr. Conspiracy Head has turned out to be.

      I’m just hoping Mr. Conspiracy Head gets taken down the legal way. I do NOT want to see Christian having to go to jail for going after him. STILL, with the police having been bought off and the FBI seemingly ineffective thus far, you can’t imagine HIM going down easily UNLESS there is a SERIOUS POSSE behind it. But I see Mr. Conspiracy Head ending his own life prior to being apprehended just to keep him from having to be held accountable for his actions. But I guess we will just have to wait and see how Tara brings it all down.

      Like

  5. Keith Brooks seems nice but he has Jack Hyde as his publisher and doesn’t seem happy about that. Not that I blame him. But that is also about to change. 😉

    So Jack is involved in the problems that Ana and Christian are having? But even in capturing him they still are in the dark because the lead they gave him Isaac is now dead as well. What the hell does Carla have to do with all this and how was she hurt, where and why? Is Elena still working with this person who ever the hell he is? Could it be her ex?

    Glad they didn’t go to Atlanta since that was the target place but how did Christian get that information and is it accurate?

    Love how Ana turned that tables on Lauer and got him off the subject of her kidnapping attempt and on to her book. Ana did a great job getting the interview back on track.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My suspicion is that Mr. Conspiracy Head wanted Carla dead because she FAILED to separate Christian from Ana or to get Calliope away from the Grey family. Carla became dead-set on getting Ana and Calliope away from Christian PERMANENTLY when she had previously had a WONDERFUL relationship with Grace. Right after the first attack on Ana, she COMPLETELY and unexpectedly turned a complete 360 degrees, even recruiting RAY to try to convince Ana to leave Christian.

      And when Carla FAILED, Ana kicked her out of her life. So Carla could not longer provide intel or be of use to Mr. Conspiracy Head. So IF Carla was doing what she did due to coercion, then IF she lives longer AND can talk, she undoubtedly KNOWS Mr. Conspiracy Head’s identity. And NOW, she will hopefully be motivated to tell Ana whatever she knows, assuming she lives long enough.

      Carla could just have been the easiest TARGET for Mr. Conspiracy Head since she refused security earlier. She is off by herself in Georgia with Bob. (And we don’t yet know where BOB is and if he was someone that was injured or killed in the attack.)

      Furthermore, we don’t know WHY Christian just got on a plane without informing Luke OR the Grey family that anything was going on. It could be that Carter was only able to get word out right BEFORE the attack, and if Christian had said anything to anyone, then the WORRY would be that it could get LEAKED. But I can’t see Christian allowing Carla to be put at risk if there was ANYTHING that he could do to help. And TAYLOR and RYAN obviously immediately sprang into action to try to prevent the whole thing. AND it SEEMS clear that Christian’s security people were NOT expected to intervene.

      But the attack was bloody and Carla is CLEARLY severely injured, from the way it sounds. She may not be long for this world, and IF she was being threatened by the Conspiracy, then she SHOULD be willing to talk, knowing that Mr. Conspiracy Head is going after her anyway.

      I just hope Carla hadn’t put anything in her LETTERS to Ana, because Ana would never get over the guilt of being able to have ENDED this sooner had she JUST read Carla’s letters to her. Hopefully, Carla is STILL in the position to be able to TALK and tell us whatever she knows as to WHY she was targeted NOW. Sigh. Next Monday can NOT come quickly enough!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mr conspiracy head might of wanted calliope and used Carla to get her. She wasn’t very bright. She was desperate I think he minipulated her and she paid dearly . I think it’s Stephen Morton

        Like

      2. Isla,

        I, too, think Mr. Conspiracy Head tried to “motivate” Carla to keep Calliope from Christian. It would then make it MUCH easier to harm Calliope or Ana, had Carla been able to separate them from Christian. And Carla’s actions were ALL geared to causing a PERMANENT disruption with the Grey family from the time of the first attack against Ana.

        To me, though, I can’t see WHY Carla would seemingly believe that Ana and Calliope would have been safer with her. For WHATEVER REASON, Carla thought that IF Ana were apart from Christian, then Mr. Conspiracy Head would FOCUS solely on Christian and just leave Ana and Calliope alone. Which ONLY makes sense if Carla had KNOWLEDGE of Mr. Conspiracy Head’s identity and motives.

        While STEPHEN MORTON would be a person that would potentially SCARE Carla, I can’t see HOW Carla could think she could keep Ana safe if she were with her. And STEPHEN MORTON would have had EVERY reason in the world to want ANA because she had previously escaped his attentions. So it makes NO SENSE to me how keeping Ana from CHRISTIAN and his security force would HELP Carla if it was Stephen.

        And Stephen Morton would seemingly have NO REASON to go after Christian. Mr. Conspiracy Head’s attack IS VERY PERSONAL. HE has REASONS to want to make Christian SUFFER. HE thinks Christian took something from HIM. And Stephen Morton does NOT fit the bill, at least not with the little we have on him thus far.

        And if Stephen Morton had all these resources, there wouldn’t be much need to go after Christian. Like I said, Mr. Conspiracy Head feels a real, deep-seated grudge against Christian and Ana. Carla had long parted ways from Stephen before Christian ever came into Ana or her life.

        But I, too, believe that Carla’s actions can only be explained by someone TELLING her something so bad that she truly BELIEVED Christian would be Ana’s downfall. AND that getting Ana away from him might save her. Maybe Bob was threatened. We just don’t YET know WHY Carla did what she did. She has tried to write letters to Ana that Ana didn’t read and apparently didn’t think to give to security to read.

        But NOW that Carla has been attacked, IF she IS still alive and able to speak with Ana, then she will hopefully tell whatever she knows. Mr. Conspiracy Head went to a GREAT DEAL of trouble to eliminate Carla. There HAS to be a reason behind his going after her NOW. I think it was because Carla obviously couldn’t be of USE to him, AND HER DEATH would bring Ana great pain.

        So Carla has NO REASON to be silent anymore, IF she knows anything. Hopefully, she will be able to tell Ana what she knows and make peace with her daughter before she dies. And maybe she will even live. Tara had said that we were not done with Carla previously. So I think Carla WILL have found SOME kind of means to tell Ana what she knows OR SUSPECTS.

        While I still don’t think it was Stephen Morton, he has at least been mentioned previously. AND Stephen seemed even then to want to get Carla to keep Ana isolated from anyone else that could help her keep him at bay. So THAT at least would be in keeping with Carla’s actions. But the ATTACK on Ana would obviously SHOW that Mr. Conspiracy Head MEANT HARM to Ana, so that wouldn’t really explain Carla’s previous actions in my eyes. But you could always be right.

        Like

  6. ” … they were sent to eliminate their target and when Taylor and Ryan went to intervene, all hell broke loose. Several people were severely injured, …”
    Who was the target last night — Christian? And who was injured — Christian?

    It was a great chapter — and Ana handled the TV interview so well — and I kept thinking Christian would show up there.
    I don’t think I can stand the suspense for 7 days!!!!

    Like

    1. Yeah, I’m still unclear on some details as well. Apparently, things happened quickly. It sounds like Isaac showed up for Carter to join him in a planned attack to KILL Carla. Now, Mr. Conspiracy Head could have just decided to kill Carla in order to hurt Ana, but I think it is FAR more likely to be because Carla FAILED to convince Ana to leave Christian.

      After the first attack on Ana, CARLA did an about-face NOT just towards Christian, but towards the WHOLE Grey family. INCLUDING Grace, with whom Carla previously had a warm relationship. After all, the Grey family had even arranged to have Carla present for the baby shower. YET after the attack, Carla suddenly wants Ana AWAY from Christian AND the Grey family. She even tries to recruit RAY to the cause.

      And Carla goes to EXTREME measures to take Calliope at the hospital and keep Christian AND the Grey family from knowing ANYTHING about her. Even RAY noticed how Carla was FURIOUS that Christian was even allowed in the hospital room with Ana. So Carla had gone to HATE-mode towards the WHOLE Grey family.

      So either Carla has ALWAYS been just a selfish, uncaring person, OR SHE WAS threatened or “encouraged” to get Ana and Calliope away from Christian. AND SINCE CARLA FAILED and was cut off from Ana, then Carla’s USEFULNESS to Mr. Conspiracy Head was DONE. And Mr. Conspiracy Head kills ANYONE that does not do what he commanded.

      (I had wondered why Elena had been left ALIVE up until this point. Clearly, Isaac was an instrumental part still to the conspiracy. And Isaac was clearly in it to help his mistress, Elena. Which was WHY Isaac undoubtedly chose to send the manuscript to ANA rather than Hyde—he hoped that Christian would PROTECT Elena in exchange for HIS identity. Isaac just failed to understand ELENA’s need for control and her GREED to get money from Christian rather than just safeguard her own life.)

      But my question NOW is WHY go after Carla right NOW? Obviously, Christian and Ana are separated due to the book tour, AND security is stretched. EVERYONE would be expected to head to Georgia once the attack on Carla became known. So it may be the PLAN of Mr. Conspiracy Head to have everyone frantically headed to Georgia without plan or back-up. OR Mr. Conspiracy Head coordinated ATTACKS ON MULTIPLE FRONTS, such as Hyde being expected to apprehend Ana while the attack on Carla was moving forward.

      But ISAAC showed up for CARTER with little warning for Taylor and Ryan, apparently. So when Taylor realized it was a KILL order for Carla, he and Ryan intervened. And MULTIPLE people were injured or killed. So MORE than Isaac and Carter were sent after Carla. Mr. Conspiracy Head CLEARLY wanted Carla DEAD, and I just want to know WHY Ryan and Taylor couldn’t get back-up OR if Carter helped them, etc. FOr Taylor to have KNOWN the intended TARGET, then it seems confirmed that Carter DID help Christian’s people. But WHY did Christian NOT call ANA or Luke? Obviously, we need a lot more details that will come next chapter. AND I’m hoping that NY and Georgia were the ONLY targets, since it is entirely possible that an attack was MEANT to take place in SEATTLE as well that only got thwarted because Christian was on his way to Georgia due to Carter’s intel.

      But multiple members of security are clearly down or injured. And everyone is CONVERGING on Georgia, which MAY have been Mr. Conspiracy Head’s intended plan all along!

      Like

  7. Holy crap!! I know Carla messed up but I don’t want her to die!! Multiple people were injured and killed?! So if everyone is headed to Georgia will Mr. Conspiracy Head make himself known then?!

    Like

    1. In my opinion, Mr. Conspiracy Head would HAVE to know that Christian and Ana would head to Georgia to find out what happened to Carla and why. So you have everyone in a KNOWN location with security greatly reduced. And Christian and Ana’s people aren’t operating on schedules or with plans—they are just distracted by everything that has happened and grief.

      So Mr. Conspiracy Head has Christian’s people off-balanced. AND he was trying to coordinate MULTIPLE ATTACKS to occur SIMULTANEOUSLY at a time when everyone was divided.

      But HYDE was unsuccessful. And really, HOW would Mr. Conspiracy Head EXPECT Hyde to succeed, even given Hyde’s desperation. Per Hyde’s client at SIP, Hyde was basically KNOWN to be taking to the bottle heavily, something even Ana could see.

      So it was doubtful that Hyde would ever secure Ana. But the REST of Mr. Conspiracy Head’s plan would GUARANTEE that Ana would come to Georgia where HE possibly now is.

      (And I’m still hoping that Elliot’s not calling Ana back is just because she was being interviewed by the FBI or something like that. Last we heard, Elliot was heading to Escala. Christian had already LEFT there earlier to head to Georgia, but IF Mr. Conspiracy Head had tried to get someone to Escala to attack Christian, then Elliot could have been captured. OBVIOUSLY, as soon as Christian gets off the phone with Ana, he will presumably call his FAMILY to let them know where he is AND to advise them to remain together with security.)

      But I think Mr. Conspiracy Head intended for everyone to be herded to Georgia as a contingency plan. At least SOME of Christian’s best security officers are NOW down, as Ana previously feared happening. Christian seemingly only has Kommer with him now, as Christian tries to determine everyone’s conditions. Hopefully, Christian has enough sense to stay at the hospital and remain in sight of multiple individuals rather than go out to meet Ana without enough security in place. After all, the fear always was that Mr. Conspiracy Head would attack Christian and Ana when security is compromised or spread too thin, which it certainly is now. And Mr. Conspiracy Head will KNOW that Christian and Ana will go to the hospital. So monitoring their MOVEMENTS will be much easier now, and security will be MUCH less likely to maintain a perimeter now, with Taylor and Ryan down or dead. (I’m thinking Christian would have said if Taylor or Ryan was dead, so I’m hoping they are just injured. We’ll find out next chapter at least.)

      Like

  8. Okay, just caught something I missed earlier. ELLIOT was going to Escala to check if Christian was there. OBVIOUSLY, he was supposed to call Ana back. I’m hoping that Elliot has left a message for Ana while she was being interviewed rather than think Elliot was apprehended.

    Oh Tara, are we supposed to be worried for Elliot at this point? Or has he just not been able to get through to Ana due to the FBI, Christian calling, etc.?

    And WHY didn’t Christian CALL LUKE when he learned about Georgia? I mean, it sounds like Christian just got on a plane without telling ANYONE what had happened. I get that Christian was stunned by the attack on Carla and the injury/death of others, but you would THINK that he would at least tell SOMEONE what was going on before he went off the grid for MULTIPLE hours. After all, ANA was attacked during that time as well, and Mr. Conspiracy Head could have planned attacks on MULTIPLE fronts. After all, HYDE’s attack was coordinated to go forward on or at the same time as the one on CARLA.

    You really see the fog of war on this one. SOMEONE should have alerted other security in other locations regarding the incident in Georgia. I mean, Ana was being interviewed at the same time that the news about her mother could have been hitting the television airwaves! The FBI agents on the case didn’t seem to know about the Georgia attack, and that is a HUGE misstep, since they should have been informed immediately. Obviously, we will get more details next chapter about what happened when that will make things more clear. But given that it was ANA’s mother, you think Christian would have called her FIRST before he even got on the plane! (Although MAYBE Christian tried while LYDIA had Ana’s phone during the interview, but you would think that Christian would have contacted LUKE.)

    Still reeling, although I said several chapters ago that IF Carla HAD been approached by Mr. Conspiracy Head, she had failed in her task, making her a likely target. Both Carla AND Elena had been allowed to continue living after their failures, so I was wondering what HE was waiting for. I guess we now know WHY both had been left alive. ISAAC was still instrumental to the plan, and now he, too, is dead.

    REALLY want that next chapter. AND to know that no further attacks have occurred involving Grey members or those close to them (like Kate)!

    Like

  9. Oh no! Please don’t let Carla die! Maybe she did what she did to protect Ana and Calliope after coming into contact with Mr. Conspiracy Head? Hopefully, they’ll get some kind lead on who is behind this, and why, but I hope not at the cost of Carla’s life. Poor Ana is going to have a nervous breakdown after all this is over 😥

    Like

    1. And THAT is the point for Mr. Conspiracy Head—he WANTS to make Christian and Ana SUFFER. He wants to PROLONG this, as every day that goes by can’t be lived happily or to the fullest if you know someone is after you and your family. Then you constantly have to look over your shoulder AND face that nervous breakdown over living in a neverending state of FEAR and dread.

      So even IF Mr. Conspiracy Head could never get to them, HE has done serious emotional damage. And the CARNAGE he has left will leave Ana AND Christian seemingly feeling GUILTY for their part in creating HIM, once His identity is known. Survivor’s Guilt may become a real issue for Ana and/or Christian.

      So Mr. Conspiracy Head gets more of what he WANTS the longer this goes on since the MORE Ana and Christian will SUFFER. Trying to set bait for Mr. Conspiracy Head in order to lure him out has thus far BACKFIRED and still left people injured and dead.

      But Mr. Conspiracy Head has now acted OPENLY and wantonly with going after Carla. BEFORE, HE had tried to turn it around on ANA, making it look like she faked the attack in order to get sympathy or money. But simple estrangement from her mother would NOT be a reason for Ana to attack her own mother, although THAT might explain WHY Mr. Conspiracy Head would want someone like CARTER present. After all, Carter was a former friend of ANA’s. Still, Mr. Conspiracy Head can’t really hope to turn this back on Ana. NOTHING could be gained for Ana by her mother and former friend’s death. And Carter has given Christian INTELLIGENCE regarding the contact he had from Mr. Conspiracy Head.

      I guess it comes down to who lives and who talks. Mr. Conspiracy Head clearly didn’t expect certain people to survive. So HE may HAVE to act now before HE can be tracked down. So Mr. Conspiracy Head no longer has the luxury of WAITING, like the cat toying with the mouse. HE is now FORCED TO ACT, due to not knowing who might TALK. After all, the survivors from HIS camp can’t expect favorable treatment—they can only look forward to a death sentence, given their potential failure to eliminate their target(s). So this will undoubtedly bring things to a head. MAYBE even sooner than Mr. Conspiracy Head intended. (Because HE would HAVE to be suspecting that HIS actions would lead everyone to Georgia. There MUST be a reason for this and a plan in place by HIM.)

      Like

  10. I have been following your story from the very beginning and I absolutely love it. I love the details and your writing style. So, I hope you take what I say next as constructive criticism… I feel that lately you have been dragging out the story. I understand that it is a complicated storyline and when it comes to writing this, you know what’s best; but I always admired your quality of being to the point even while describing things in the previous parts. This part seems like it’s being dragged unnecessarily.

    Like

    1. Like you, I am dying to know who it is. BUT I think the storyline justifies the cat and mouse game that keeps us from knowing things for certain until the bitter end. After all, Mr. Conspiracy Head would have been PLANNING this for some time, YEARS even. So HE would NOT want to overplay HIS hand by jumping the gun.

      Christian’s own RESOURCES and ability to ferret out possible recruits has certainly prevented Mr. Conspiracy Head’s success. AND Mr. Conspiracy Head CLEARLY did NOT count on ISAAC failing to deliver the manuscript to HYDE.

      I think Isaac was smart enough to realize that Hyde was drinking heavily and would be clumsy and/or ineffective in getting the manuscript to someone who actually WOULD publish it. PLUS, Isaac HAD to realize that Elena would be KILLED once that manuscript was in a publisher’s hands. AFTER ALL, Elena would be of NO FURTHER USE to Mr. Conspiracy Head, and her DEATH would make people rush to READ the book.

      So Isaac clearly tried to SAVE Elena by sending the manuscript to ANA, knowing it would lead Ana (and maybe Christian) to the prison to see Elena. AND ELENA was clearly EXPECTING them to come. Isaac just didn’t count on Elena’s greed. And Elena didn’t count on her inability to be able to further manipulate Christian. AND Elena had undoubtedly ENJOYED seeing Christian and Ana suffer. She is ALL ABOUT revenge and was willing to see Christian at risk rather than go unpunished for having been able to send her to jail.

      So MULTIPLE things have not gone as Mr. Conspiracy Head planned. BUT HE continued to keep Ana AND Christian SUFFERING by choosing NOT to attack until HE could be ENSURED of the outcome.

      So I think the Georgia attack is coordinated with other attacks and is MEANT to draw everyone to ONE location AFTER security has been compromised through injury or death. And that has NOW happened. AND Mr. Conspiracy Head is now AT RISK with people being left ALIVE after the attack that were NOT expected to survive.

      So the story makes sense in the way it is being told, even if that DOES mean that things keep happening that PREVENT the expected reveal from happening. YES, it is nail-biting. Everytime another chapter goes by that we DON’T know has me as crazy as you, but it also BUILDS the suspense. And even NOW, there are multiple ways the story can end. So that IS good writing. And the END of suspense means we will be nearly at the end of the story. Tara said this book was longer than the others, and ADSOF went all the way through Chapter 47.

      So we STILL have a ways to go. AND multiple loose ends to deal with. After all, we THINK Gia was murdered, but we don’t YET know for sure just what she did for the Conspiracy. And Elena said MULTIPLE people were dead, and we don’t yet know who these people are or WHY they were murdered. We don’t even YET know IF Carla had contact with the Conspiracy or WHY Mr. Conspiracy Head chose NOW to go after her. It may JUST have been to make Ana SUFFER, BUT it might have been because Carla KNEW something and was ready to TELL ANA if just to get her daughter to communicate with her again.

      Now, just because I can see the justification for telling the story in this manner does NOT mean that I am not crawling the walls, absolutely dying to know WHO it is and HOW HE will be taken down. I couldn’t even really enjoy the wedding as others did because I want to KNOW Mr. Conspiracy Head’s plan. So I REALLY feel your pain and even agree that I want answers SOONER rather than later. But real investigations often take YEARS to fully divulge all the secrets, and even THEN, so much has to be speculated about and based on circumstantial evidence rather than known facts. It took TIME for Mr. COnspiracy Head to build his resources and plan his attack. It will naturally take TIME to tear him down and learn his identity. STILL doesn’t keep me from howling at my computer after each chapter that leaves more questions than answers!!!!

      As always, IS IT MONDAY YET? ??!!!?!??!!? And will we get more answers or QUESTIONS with the next chapter????

      (OH PRETTY PLEASE TARA, can you at least TELL US WHICH CHAPTER will finally give us THE answer we have been waiting for as to HIS identity?????????? PleasePleasePleasePleasePlease. Driving your readers to certain madness CAN’T be good. SOME hope regarding knowledge of just WHEN we will know all would be GREATLY appreciated. And probably lessen the burning torches, pitchforks and rioting in the street that mob madness generally leads to!!!!)

      Like

    1. AMEN. This is literally like looking in on a warzone. And the potential casualties of characters that we have known and loved is literally driving me to practically crawl the walls. AND I don’t have Spiderman’s abilities to really make that work!

      So yeah, I would settle for knowing what CHAPTER will reveal HIS ultimate identity. What little sanity I still cling to is hinging on getting answers soon. Really thinking TOO MUCH about rioting in the streets with fellow readers to get those answers we sorely crave.

      (REALLY TARA, have PITY on your poor defenseless and nearly mad readers!!!! WHEN will we KNOW for sure???!?!?? THINK of the likely carnage caused by readers gone mad from lack of answers. I mean, the potential computer carnage alone could be drastic. Really. When my computer fails to give me ANSWERS, it increases the risk that it goes through the window directly behind my desk. We do NOT want that. And my ability to PREVENT that lessens with each passing chapter. PLEASE just give us a NUMBER for a chapter where we will be GUARANTEED TO KNOW!!! PleaseOhPleaseOhPleaseOhPlease—this is me BEGGING here! On hands and knees, tears in my eyes, hands raised in supplication—the full works!!!)

      Like

      1. We’re getting close. If I had to estimate, I’d say we’re somewhere between 6-8 chapters until the story is over. BUT I also thought Broken was going to be 35 chapters, so I’m pretty bad at this game.

        Like

      2. Sigh. Well, I am admittedly VERY MUCH enjoying the journey, so I really don’t want it to end. But I’m still dying to know all the answers.

        And kudos Tara to having Isaac killed before Christian even realized he was involved. Since early on in ASSOF, I figured Isaac HAD to be the go-between with Elena as nothing else really made since. Isaac was the ONLY one that we have seen that was trusted enough by Elena to run the bar with her, know her client list, and be at all the locations where pics of Ana were leaked or where Elena and Ana confronted one another. BUT I NEVER expected Isaac to be KILLED before he could be interrogated.

        I’d LOVE to know Elena’s reaction to hearing of Isaac’s death. After all, Isaac was seemingly the closest thing Elena had to a friend and someone that CLEARLY tried to keep her alive. And Elena HAS to know that her usefulness is now VERY MUCH OVER for Mr. Conspiracy Head unless he wanted to make her write the book all over again.

        Still say Andrew Lincoln HAS to be behind getting Elena to write that book. He was the ONLY ONE who would KNOW what the truth was behind the first trial. So HE would be the only one to get Elena to write the book with a modicum of truth. AND since the book actually paints Elena as the child molester she is, Andrew would get REVENGE ON ELENA as well, at least in the court of public opinion (AND most likely in the prison system for Elena, given the attitude there towards child molesters).

        And I FULLY admit that I didn’t want Elena surviving this thing. BUT for Mr. Conspiracy Head to order Elena’s DEATH, he either has to re-direct his OWN diminishing pool of thugs or bought-off guards to do the dirty work now, and that would HAVE to PROVE that Mr. Conspiracy Head HAS bought off the police. And would get more ATTENTION to the case. Because HE can misdirect only so much of this onto Ana.

        SO I GET that you have MUCH more story that needs to conclude to cover ALL these angles. So I need to have patience. Which IS a virtue. Just doesn’t feel like it now!

        Can’t help but wonder who Mr. Conspiracy Head will go after next. With Isaac dead, Elena will undoubtedly try to reach out to Christian IF she has any self-preservation skills left. And Christian and Ana are going to be still reeling from whatever happened in Georgia to really start thinking AHEAD of the game to Mr. Conspiracy Head’s next angle and likely target. AND the Grey family is still in Seattle. AND I’m wondering what will happen to Ana’s book tour NOW—and it is not likely that Ana will be able to so easily re-direct the interviewer when SO MUCH trauma and destruction has headed her and Christian’s way.

        Like

      3. I knew there was a reason you were my favorite author (fanfiction or no).
        You know how to make me excited about a Monday (we are talking about the first work day of the week!!!) and you think of your readers and don’t let a magnificient story like this die. Thanks, thanks, thank you. You just made my day (how easy is to make me happy).

        Like

  11. More and more it looks like Andrew Lincoln is behind this. I can’t imagine anyone ELSE having this much hate directed at so many involved. Astor Harrington just pales in comparison. Again, Astor has a bright future waiting for him and is almost finished at Harvard Law. But ANDREW would expect Ana to remember him. And ANDREW could have learned about Carter through surveillance.

    And ANDREW would have reason to watch/track Christian’s movements after ELENA and Christian came to NY to talk to his board members in the process of taking his company. Directly AFTER that, Christian went to Harvard to convince the school to keep Ana.

    PLUS, ANDREW had based his company IN NEW YORK following his exodus from Seattle! So he would expect to have knowledge and contacts of NY to help him, which would be WHY he would choose NY to try to seize Ana. (And it would probably seem like poetic justice to HIM to kidnap Ana in the very place where Elena formerly effectuated her revenge plan against HIM by securing Lincoln Timber for Christian!)

    And ANDREW would be expected to underestimate Ana’s intelligence and see her as JUST a trophy wife, just as he did with Elena. And his OBSESSION with hurting Ana would be because he KNOWS that Ana is the one thing Christian can’t live without. Christian COULD lose his company and still be happy if he had Ana. AND Andrew Lincoln would be OBSESSED with taking CHRISTIAN’s company from him due to having had his OWN company taken from him by Christian. AND in taking the one woman from Christian that had remained faithful to Christian and their love throughout the years, unlike Elena. (Plus, ANA did not step in and make Christian leave Andrew’s company alone. Andrew would have seen CHRISTIAN as benefitting from his lies and deceit in getting HIS money to start GEH and fund his WHOLE life—all from ill-gotten gains that had originated with ANDREW.)

    PLUS, no matter what, Christian NEVER lost anything or had anything stick to him, but ANDREW lost EVERYTHING in the end due to Christian AND Elena. And USING ELENA to then topple Christian probably seemed like icing on the cake to Andrew. PLUS, Elena then loses the ONLY person who seemingly was LOYAL to her no matter what—ISAAC. So at the very least, Andrew has effectively gotten REVENGE on Elena!

    AND Andrew Lincoln was obsessed over Christian not having actually BUILT anything from the ground-up considering the way Andrew built up his OWN timber company. AND he would be likely to RELATE TO CARTER, who also seemingly lost a woman AND his future to a Grey.

    As others have pointed out, STEPHEN MORTON might have a reason to go after Carla and might be resentful of Ana having gotten away from him. But Stephen does NOT have a connection to Christian, at least none that we know of at this point. For it to be him, there would have to be a MAJOR backstory.

    But I find it interesting that Isaac CLEARLY trusted CHRISTIAN to treat Elena better than Mr. Conspiracy Head would since he risked his OWN LIFE to get the manuscript to ANA rather than Hyde! Isaac had hoped his mistress would have enough sense to TELL Christian who HE was rather than try to extort more money from CHristian. Elena STILL thought she could manipulate the men around her, and only NOW has she realized just HOW crazy she made her ex-husband in her meaningless request for more and more vengeance. So Elena will be a VICTIM of her own hubris and need to get the better of any man that comes into contact with her. And ISAAC has already lost his life trying to SAVE Elena.

    But I still keep expecting another twist somehow. I mean, even Christian must have at least SUSPECTED Astor Harrington enough to put him on the wedding list invite. Just WHY no one in Christian’s camp has even seemed to suspect Andrew Lincoln is just amazing to me. He should have been the OBVIOUS choice. And Elena never doubted that she could AGAIN take HIM down, albeit with Christian’s help. She overplayed her hand by demanding money, and Christian realized that Elena never intended to publish her BOOK on her own. But THAT is the final KEY, in my mind, to ANDREW’S IDENTITY—the fact that HE knew teh TRUTH behind the FIRST Trial in order to MAKE Elena write the TRUTH in her book. AND Andrew clearly felt that WITHOUT Elena, Christian could NOT have been successful.

    Like

    1. Christian mentioned that Elena’s manuscript was supposed to reach Hyde so that he could publish it

      Could it be that Carla is that person who was supposed to pass it on to Hyde but chose to send it to ana in order to warn her

      Like

      1. It is pretty much confirmed in this chapter that ISAAC was supposed to be the one to deliver the manuscript from Elena to Hyde.

        ISAAC was the ONLY person Elena ever seemingly trusted, as Isaac was seen half-naked at the bar and allowed to remain during the conversation between Ana and Elena that occurred there. So Isaac clearly ran the bar with Elena, followed her everywhere and overall did her bidding. So he was clearly SUPPORTED by Elena and basically dependent on her.

        Isaac CHOSE to send the manuscript to ANA rather than Hyde. I think Isaac realized how mostly drunk and ineffective Hyde really was. PLUS, Isaac most likely REALIZED that once Elena’s Book was published, there would be NO reason for Mr. Conspiracy Head to keep Elena alive.

        Isaac may have even acted on Elena’s ORDERS in getting the manuscript to Ana, since Elena clearly EXPECTED Christian to show up. AND Christian CORRECTLY DEDUCED that Elena did NOT want the manuscript published either, as it would most likely make her a marked woman AND possibly even get more CHARGES headed her way.

        What Isaac and Elena did NOT count on was that Elena couldn’t MANIPULATE Christian any more. Elena tried to be GREEDY and demand an excessive payout AND her freedom, something Christian would NEVER work towards at this point. AND Elena’s having obviously reached out to Christian SHOWS her attempts to save HERSELF by giving away the IDENTITY of Mr. Conspiracy Head.

        So Elena overplayed her hand and is now marked for death. The ONLY reason she is probably still alive is because Mr. Conspiracy Head must NOT have the manuscript (or at least has no one willing to publish it yet). HYDE is now NOT an option. It is not likely that Elena would be able to make COPIES of the manuscript, so if Isaac did NOT give a copy to Mr. Conspiracy Head, then Elena may be kept alive to write the thing anew.

        But without someone to publish the book, I can’t imagine Mr. Conspiracy Head going through with the whole thing and risking Elena giving away what she knows about HIM and his remaining assets. So I can’t imagine Elena being long for this world UNLESS Mr. Conspiracy Head needs to keep certain co-conspirators a SECRET from the FBI. After all, SUCCESSFUL ATTACKS and murders WILL get SOMEONE having to make a show of truly investigating the events, since the media will NOT be misdirected from this level of gore.

        So while we NOW know details of ISAAC’S role in the Conspiracy, we STILL don’t know anything about CARLA. I would have expected Bob to have dropped everything to join Carla at the hospital when Ana seemed certain to die, so his ABSENCE may have been the thing Mr. COnspiracy Head was targeting to get Carla’s cooperation. Everything Carla-related is SPECULATION at this point. Hopefully, we will get details next chapter, UNLESS Carla is in a coma or dead and Bob’s whereabouts unknown.

        Like

  12. If Carla was involved to any extend into this, then she is getting what she deserves

    When Christian says multiple deaths, I don’t want any of Christian’s security men to die…they don’t deserve this

    There is no excuse to Carla’s involvement into this…….she knew what she was doin

    Like

    1. I’m hoping that with Taylor being past military that he would have survived an attack like this. We just don’t yet know fully what Taylor and Ryan were going into. And Christian would NOT have wanted to tell Ana any of this over the phone, ESPECIALLY with Ana having just been attacked by Hyde and then questioned by the FBI. So I guess Ana will learn fully about who has lived and who has died when she lands in Georgia. And if Bob is nowhere to be found, then it is ANA that may be put in the position of having to say what kind of medical care Carla gets.

      But Carla’s seeming to turn against Christian AND his family SO QUICKLY and so thoroughly just HAS to make me wonder what kind of pressure was being put on her. And even though I suspect she made ALL the wrong decisions, we don’t YET know what motivated her to do so.

      I guess what I am trying to say is that there can be NO EXCUSE for what Carla tried to do with Calliope and the pain she CLEARLY caused Christian and the whole Grey family. But there MAY have been some major pressure or motivation to cause her to act that way under duress. I’m reserving judgment until we get more details.

      Tara had said in an earlier comment that we were not done with Carla yet. Those ominous words put me on alert that Carla still had a role to play in all of this. There is SOME connection to Mr. Conspiracy Head for him to choose such a violent and public way of ending Carla (unless HE had planned to try to murder her at night, secretly bury the bodies, and not let anyone know for some time.) But to NOT want to have an immediate effect on Ana, then that would imply HAVING TO SILENCE CARLA for a reason. And that does NOT bode well for Carla’s innocence. But Tara has pulled off some interesting twists before. . . .

      Like

      1. I still think Mia was attempting to suicide nt just bcoz of d case, she has had a big role in dis conspiracy

        She could have been easily contacted by isaac but I just don’t get her reasons for doing so

        But Carla…..I don’t think she is that nurturing types so she cannot give reason that she was trying to protect ana(she has time nd again mentioned that fr ana, only Ray’s opinion matters)

        Like

    1. At the end of the day, she is still Ana’s mother. And when you think about it, Ana and Christian are BOTH likely to feel guilt over whatever role they each played in the CREATION of Mr. Conspiracy Head. YES, Mr. Conspiracy Head CHOSE to do his bad acts, but whatever they did to so WRONG him in the first place will definitely lead to some Survivor’s Guilt, in my opinion.

      I guess it all depends on just WHY Carla did what she did. But like you, no matter WHAT her reasoning was, she was bent on keeping Christian from even KNOWING about his little girl. ALL while he was suffering, believing Ana was all but dead as well. So YEAH, she is DEFINITELY competing for the title of Ultimate Mommy Dearest.

      But it is NEVER that simple. Ana has good and loving memories of her mother as well. And no matter what, Ana will GRIEVE over the loss of her mother.

      I just want to know if Carla is truly Ultimate Mommy Dearest OR if there was a possible REASON, whether justified or not, to explain her actions. And at the end of the day, it sounds like she PAID DEARLY for choosing to trust the WRONG people.

      Like

  13. OMG what a intense chapter. I’m trying to figure out who it is that is doing this and I think I might have a clue but will wait until you decide to reveal the true identity. Could it be Elena’s ex….Linc Can’t wait for the next chapter to come and I will be waiting (impatiently) until next week.

    Like

    1. For Ana’s sake, I also hope that Carla was just a pawn. But she is hardly innocent at this point, given what she tried to do to Christian at the hospital. NOTHING can completely justify that. BUT Carla may have been forced to choose between multiple bad choices. We just don’t yet know.

      And MAYBE Carla was only attacked due to her death being intended to make Ana SUFFER. But I think it is MORE than that. And with this having happened, Carla will have no reason NOT to talk, assuming she is still alive and able to do so.

      We should at least know something towards Carla’s motives next chapter IF she is still alive and TELLS Ana what she knows.

      Like

  14. Damn Tara you have me spinning in all directions now with all this mystery person behind these attacks. I’m going back to it has to be someone in connection to that BDSM club trafficking girls or Richard Lincoln. Either way I love all this mstery and drama going on. Great stuff today and damn I’m happy your Hawks won last night but damn if they screwed me over with my football spread sheets and put me in a bit of a predicament to loose my football pool this week. Now I have to hope my last pick comes thru for me, lol!

    Like

  15. How smart is this Conspiracy Head that he is able to plan ahead all the moves that have to take place in Christian and Ana’s life. Has Christian finally got ahead of him having sent Taylor and Ryan to Georgia to foil his next move? Have they been able to isolate him with the voice recognition that Ana heard. Carla had been so against Christian and I believe she was already being manipulated by someone and glad she was not included at the wedding. Who else died besides Isaac? I hope the Conspiracy Head died and not Taylor or Ryan. Carla will probably die and why was she at the scene and where was Bob. She was being used by the Head? Was he Carla’s ex husband or was it Linc? Next chapter should be the big reveal. This trilogy might be coming to a close ending. Great writing and thank you very much.

    Like

  16. Tara, Tara, Tara – I was so far on the edge of my seat this morning that I almost fell off! Great Chapter!

    So, our Anastasia appears to be a perfect interviewee….Matt Lauer is generally pretty tenacious with his interviews, but Ana just persevered and turned it around to HER advantage. If all these ‘problems’ ever get sorted out, she will surely be a favorite on the interview/talk show circuit. And, I am starting to like Lydia – nice touch that she had ‘Today’ lessen her make-up, kept Ana pumped up for the interview and gave her kudos for her handling of Matt. I think they will end up making a good ‘team.’

    Thank You for the ‘decoy’ wedding explanation – was anxious to hear how Christian handled that and can only imagine what the ‘favors’ were that he gifted everyone….Cartier, Tiffany?? Seems as though the congratulatory feed-backs proved he did succeed in making the ‘decoy invited guests’ feel both special and included without their actually being present at the ceremony. That could have also ended up in disaster if they felt ‘used.’ Could have also hurt his business. Leave it to our Christian!

    Hyde admitting he did not want to be a part of the Conspiracy’s plan gave him just a hint of character. I never figured he had that huge an axe to grind and knew he didn’t have the funds to be the head, but learning the Conspirator had enough to ruin him explains why he did HAVE To cooperate. Loved Luke beating as much out of him as was possible. Too bad Christian does not view Luke with quite as much respect and appreciation as he deserves – especially after we learned from Leila that Luke was the primary reason they didn’t grab Anna in Cambridge.

    Carla is still a huge piece of the puzzle – was she grabbed by the Conspirator for whatever dastardly reason he used to ring her in? (Perhaps to save Calliope or Ray or?? if she followed his orders) Makes me continue keeping Stephen Morton on my radar as HIM (Knowing you, the back-story would be a doozy!) Especially now that we are able to eliminate so many. Did she have a change of heart at the last minute and try to help Ana and Christian, leading to her present dire state in the hospital. Too bad Isaac died – he appeared to hold the key to the Conspirator’s identity and a whole lot more. Linc seems perfect for the Conspirator, but I cannot picture Elena either being that fearful of him or ever working with him. And, where is Gia – dead or a red herring? With her love of money, the Conspirator could be just up her alley.

    Christian didn’t fill in enough blanks when he spoke with Ana – I really hope Christian is NOT one of those badly hurt! And, Oh Please, Don’t Let Taylor be in bad shape or worse! What about Bob?! Still a mystery re Carter’s true intentions. I do have faith that he would NOT be capable of outsmarting Christian, though. And, as a pawn of the Conspirator’s, Christian – with the help of Taylor – should be able to see through that which, hopefully they did and led to the big show-down in Georgia. However, it does not sound as though it went quite the way Christian had planned if that was the case.

    Cliffhanger Extraordinaire, Tara! Is the BIG REVEAL close-by?
    How will we survive until next Monday?!

    Like

  17. “Humans are suspicious and jealous creatures. When they see something perfect, they want to find a flaw.”
    ― Gosho Aoyama
    “Sometimes your dearest friend whom you reveal most of your secrets to becomes so deadly and unfriendly without knowing that they were not really your friend.”
    ― Michael Bassey Johnson
    “Be polite, be courteous, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”
    ― Bryan Dunn

    Like

  18. OMG. What a thrilling chapter. I wasn’t even breathing when Ana is on the phone with Christian. We need Ray Steele’s army experience to guard Ana and Calliope. Oh please don’t let Mr. conspiracy get close to them. I can’t wait for Monday and see who else died and injured. please not the security. Tars your the best.

    Maricel

    Like

  19. This story is soooo good and has me on the edge of my seat. I’m excited because we’re getting closer and closer to uncovering who the Conspirator is. Looks like Luke is going to have to do a sweep of every room before Ana enters. Love this story!

    Like

  20. Great chapter.
    He’s hitting from all sides and everybody.
    Hopefully Carla will pull through.
    And with Taylor being able to intervene maybe he got some clues or new info to go on.

    Can’t wait for more.

    Thank you.

    Like

  21. Such an excellent and exciting chapter, cliffhanger! More involved with the conspiracy were killed or taken. Taylor needs to be alright, Carla too, despite her cruelty. Can’t wait to find out more on Monday. Thank you, Tara. Xoxo daytona

    Like

  22. I didn’t even think they would go after her mom, but I should of seen it coming…. this was a very deep chapter… I honestly was beginning to side with Ana that Christian was a target was well, or maybe Taylor…. but maybe Carla knows something too that’s why she did what she did in the hospital and been acting the way she was acting???? So did Carter get hurt, was he actually involved, ooo Monday can’t get here fast enough!!!

    Like

  23. omg this was so good. I knew that Carla was working with the obsessed dude! I hope those letters that Ray keeps and Ana didnt give security to read will contain something. But then again if she wanted to warn Ana, wouldnt she tell Ray something was up? What a sleazy character.
    I cant wait for another chapter. Would love a surprise update this Friday again 🙂

    Like

    1. Yes, Ray was clearly still taking Carla’s calls. He knew Carla had written Ana, and he probably told Carla that Ana wouldn’t take or read her letters. So if Carla expected danger coming her way or Ana’s, she would HAVE to know that letters would not work.

      So Carla COULD have reached out to Ray. There has to be a reason that she did not. At this point, we don’t YET know that Carla had any connection to the Conspiracy. She COULD have been motivated solely by her own selfish reasons, but I tend to think there WAS outside influence of some kind. AND that Carla felt she was taking the ONLY means at her disposal to keep Calliope and maybe Ana safe.

      So I just don’t know WHAT Carla could know or have come into contact with. But it appears to be something. I just can’t imagine WHY Mr. Conspiracy Head would choose to contact Carla UNLESS HIS PLAN ALL ALONG was to cause a breach between mother and daughter, thus making it EASIER for him to eliminate Carla and make Ana feel guilty forever more.

      Because Mr. Conspiracy Head’s plan from the get-go has been to break Christian and Ana AND MAKE THEM SUFFER. So killing Carla would definitely be in keeping with his tactics, especially since Ana would undoubtedly feel guilty and start making mistakes. Ana’s self-preservation skills have never been at their peak, as we saw when she chose to confront Elena at the bar where she could have so easily been hurt or killed AND when she went out alone without security (which is actually something she has done on more than one occasion).

      But Ray seems not to have suspected Carla was in danger, so Carla clearly hadn’t communicated ANY of that to him. I’m also wondering what Ray will do now that this HAS happened. Ray CAN’T ignore the very real threat to Ana further. So I’m DEFINITELY expecting Ray to show up in Georgia. I just hope he will coordinate everything with Christian rather than trying to go off on his own. I guess that is one more thing we have to wait and see about.

      (And I SECOND your vote for ANOTHER surprise Friday update!!!!! So much still has to happen that it makes sense to have shorter chapters closer together so that you can RECOVER from the shock contained in each one before moving on to the next!)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ray’s comments previously have shown that he didn’t really take this threat as seriously as he should have, quite frankly. He has thought security was excessive at times. I think NOW he will realize JUST how crazy and determined Mr. Conspiracy Head is to exact REVENGE on Christian and make him suffer. So I am DEFINITELY expecting Ray to make an appearance soon. He was married to Carla for over a decade and obviously loved her. AND he will KNOW what an impact this will have on Ana. I just hope Ray now trusts Christian enough to coordinate WITH him and his security rather than just trying to take care of this on his own.

      Like

  24. So much happening/happened in this chapter.

    I think some of us suspected Carla was involved but wasn’t sure how/why. IMO- Knowing Carla pass I would said she was offered a substantial amount of money to afford her the lifestyle she so desperate craved. The conspiracy always seem to have done his due diligence on his recruits. He seems to know what their needs and desires are.
    I’m going to go out on a limb and say this Ana has to be one of the strongest. She’s giving all the proceeds from her book to a charity. With everything going on in their life now plus a new baby. Those interviews would have had to take a backseat for awhile. The risks was just too much. Yes I understand that timing was everything, knowing that someone hated you and your husband that much. I guess we all have to choose at one time or another in life. I also enjoyed her interview but just thinking of my baby I personally wouldn’t have been able to do it

    I hope Ana can cancelled these engagements until this s–t storms settled or least keep the baby far away from the scenes.

    I still think Carter has much to do with these Incidents. If he did I really hope that Taylor was able to get him first.

    So much revealed in this chaper. So much more still needed.

    Like

  25. So DELIGHTED, Tara, to hear you will be occasionally posting updates of the Anastasia/Christian saga. And absolutely CANNOT WAIT for the Outtakes on ‘Stronger.’ WOW! Especially, from Christian’s POV!

    Am torn between anxious anticipation for ‘Stronger’ to conclude and finally getting all the pieces to the puzzle, but also do not want ‘Stronger’ to end as it is keeping me/us riveted and totally looking forward to Mondays (and, of course, to the periodic, and totally appreciated, bonus chapters when we least expect them).

    THANK YOU for your amazing writing, dedication to your faithful followers, the twists and turns that keep us speculating, anticipating and savoring every incredible chapter. Again, YOU ROCK OUR ‘TARA WORLD.’

    P.S. Who Is The Conspirator??!!

    Like

  26. Excellent chapter, Tara. (do you ever tire of hearing that?) I know writers like getting constructive feedback on their writing but ya can’t fix what ain’t broke. You and your Beta partner put out a flawless extension of this story each week.

    Not going to make any guesses about anything, just prepared that next chapter could be an emotional rollercoaster. Gird your loins, Tara Devotees. 😀

    Like

  27. My final thoughts:

    Mr. Conspiracy Head KNEW that he would be expected to make an appearance at the wedding. AND that he would make a try at getting Ana on the book tour.

    So Carter’s being in contact with Christian on his WEDDING day seems orchestrated to make sure that when Ana and Christian look back on this day in the future, they will always remember how Carter came THEN. And the fallout from his visit thereafter. So the wedding day is now seemly TAINTED, which was what HE wanted.

    PLUS, Mr. Conspiracy Head DID arrange for an attack on Ana during the NY stop. BUT I think HE knew the attack would likely fail. HOWEVER, Mr. Conspiracy Head knows that Ana AND Christian would undoubtedly head to Georgia.

    So Mr. Conspiracy Head is now free to go after OTHER relatives still in Seattle OR to actually coordinate HIS efforts for when Ana would be expected to arrive, distracted and upset, in Georgia. ANd Christian is ALSO in Georgia and now short on security. Which MAY have been HIS plan all along!

    STILL, Mr. Conspiracy Head has been seemingly THWARTED in his plans for Elena’s manuscript. AND Hyde is now out of the picture and unable to publish the manuscript. AND had Mr. Conspiracy Head had a COPY of the manuscript, HE would NOT have needed Isaac to deliver it.

    So I like the idea of Isaac having pulled one over on Mr. Conspiracy Head by sending the manuscript to ANA rather than Hyde. AND since Elena was CLEARLY expecting Ana and Christian to come to the prison because of her book, then SHE was the one that directed Isaac to send it to Ana. But Elena’s GREED kept her from the ONE thing that might have saved her—giving HIS name to Christian and Ana.

    So without the BOOK, Mr. Conspiracy Head’s patience seems to have left him. HE now just wants CARNAGE. But WHY would Mr. Conspiracy Head recruit Carter NOW? Was it because HE had figured out that Isaac was doing Elena’s bidding and trying to make a deal with Christian? So HE could no longer trust Isaac and wanted Carter in with him?

    I still have SO MANY questions about what Mr. Conspiracy Head’s Plan is now. OBVIOUSLY, if he could plan AT LEAST 2 attacks to occur simultaneously, HE probably has MORE planned in case something goes awry, which it now seemingly has.

    I just hope Ana, Calliope and Luke make it safely to the hospital in Georgia where Carla is. AND that Christian is still safely there as well. AND that Taylor and Ryan are only injured and not killed or at death’s door. SO MUCH to expect from the next chapter!!!!!

    Like

    1. You had some great points, Tori.
      Carla would HAVE TO have known that, if she continued the Calliope death ruse, there would be NO WAY that Christian would not have demanded to be involved in the funeral arrangements – and, even more so if Ana had died. Seems as though Carla may have been trying to buy herself some time, if she was already under the Conspirator’s thumb. Although her methods were reprehensible.

      Bob’s absence since Ana’s graduation makes no sense unless he is either connected (long shot!) with the Conspirator in some way or washed his hands of Carla, in disgust, escalating with Carla’s actions toward Grace regarding Ana’s care after graduation.

      Isaac, as you also mentioned, must have sent the manuscript to Ana at Elena’s behest. Along with getting Christian and Ana to visit her, she knew publishing the manuscript would greatly affect her and, at the very least, block any chance of a parole. She knew keeping it from Hyde was essential. Maybe, with Isaac’s demise, Elena will see the urgency of giving HIS name to Christian as possibly the only way to save herself, if Christian hasn’t already found him out, as of Georgia.

      Knowing Christian, he has extremely tight security around his family, some of which we and they may not be aware of, with anything out of the ordinary being reported to him immediately. Elliot may not have been able to get through to Ana, with Lydia holding her phone, and may have decided to wait until after her interview, rather than upsetting her further with not knowing Christian’s whereabouts.
      The Conspirator could have had faith in Hyde’s success with Ana and, when he failed miserably, it may have caused the Conspirator to quickly alter his plans and escalate a Georgia attack at the last minute. He may even have gone to Georgia himself.

      The fact that Christian did not contact Ana directly before her ‘Today’ interview raised a red flag for me that maybe he heard something from Taylor or Carter and had left for Georgia before Ana even arrived at the interview. Hopefully, Carter has been on the up-and-up with Christian or, if not, he had figured that out and was two steps ahead of him.

      Stephen Morton has long been on my radar and continues to remain there with (as previously mentioned) a doozy of a back-story. Ana HAD to leave and return to Ray to stay away from him, Carla’s fear of him surely caused their divorce and Ana may have not recognized his voice since it had been such long time. We have no knowledge as to a possible Christian-connection and/or Stephen’s financial status. He does remain a viable Conspirator suspect to me.

      IF the Conspirator had gotten Carla and threatened her enormously with something she WOULD believe and WOULD do anything to avoid, then Carla would definitely be a huge target for elimination as Carla would surely have invaluable information to impart to Christian. I have NEVER liked Carla for all the same reasons both you and many others have mentioned. However, I would rather have her be a hero and survive, if only long enough to deliver crucial information to Christian and have closure with Ana.

      The whole Georgia situation is a conundrum to the max. Taylor Has To Be Alright! I am also considering the possibility of Christian arriving in time to be involved and maybe being one of the injured. It stands to reason that he would not disclose that to Ana over the phone, and we know he was holding back information. If he is not injured, I cannot imagine Christian not going to the airport to meet Ana – which could, predictably, result BADLY.

      The speculation is endless, all-around. Monday is such a loong way off – another Friday bonus would absolutely be appreciated, big-time but I do realize this probably just will not happen, despite others making the same plea, as well.

      Like

      1. While Andrew Lincoln has been my First Choice for Mr. Conspiracy Head, Stephen Morton absolutely cannot be eliminated from consideration. Andrew Lincoln requires FAR less backstory, as his reasons for revenge are obvious. AND as stated before, how ELSE would anyone KNOW that Elena was writing the TRUTH in her book UNLESS HE had been there at the time. As we all have seen, Elena’s go-to tactic is to try to LIE her way around things until she gets someone that already KNOWS what she has done. And whoever made her write the book KNEW she had an underage relationship with Christian AND that she paid him to lie for her on the stand.

        And publishing that book is PERSONAL. It is designed to take down ELENA as well as Christian. That is something that I could see Andrew Lincoln being OBSESSED with accomplishing.

        BUT I recognize the feasibility of STEPHEN MORTON as a suspect as well. HOWEVER, we have to REVISE and ASSUME certain histories in order to make it work. BUT IT IS DOABLE, quite frankly.

        For STEPHEN MORTON to be the Head Conspirator, then I would expect the history to be something like the following:

        1. Stephen started out as a small-business type thug. His PREOCCUPATION with Christian would be because HE was the man that was Ella’s pimp back in the day. HE was the one that got ELLA on DRUGS to make her dependent on him. Because Ella dies, Stephen’s favorite people to bruise and abuse get away from him, Ella because she has died, and Christian because he is placed in foster care.

        2. Stephen has multiple unsuccessful business enterprises over the years. His MODE OF OPERATION is always to find women he can take money from AND to get them to MARRY HIM so that he can take out credit cards in their names, commit IDENTITY THEFT, etc. Stephen also uses BLACKMAIL of teh things the women did wtih him OR with selected clients to keep him with money.

        Stephen ideally looks for increasingly rich and connected women. He gets into the BDSM lifestyle in order to effectuate his psychological dominance on women in the bedroom as well as outside of it. HE ENCOUNTERS ELENA ultimately through the bar, BUT THEY MIGHT HAVE HAD A PAST HISTORY through the BDSM community. Stephen identifies MIA as being the SISTER of the kid that got away from him.

        Stephen also wants to rape/abuse Mia because he KNOWS he will get away with it, because Mia would be AFRAID to disclose that she had worked at the bar in the first place, and Elena would swear that Mia WAS employed to become one of the girls. PLUS, Stephen PLANNED TO BLACKMAIL MIA after the attack for her money, KNOWING she was a Grey, and KNOWING that Mia would believe/internalize that the whole attack was her fault for having worked in a club where she KNEW this stuff was taking place. No one would believe she had refused to do any sexual things when she was so adamant about getting money for school.

        ANA’s INTERFERENCE thwarts Stephen’s grand plan of getting his hooks into a rich, wealthy heiress (MIA). It also is PARTICULARLY irksome to Stephen because ANA was another previously underage girl that escaped him. Ray’s MILITARY background kept Stephen from being able to go take ANA back, even though he pressured Carla at the time to try to retain custody of Ana.

        3. Stephen had previously married Carla and maybe even got HER hooked on drugs for a time, as was his usual. He would take out credit cards and loans in Carla’s name and leaves her destitute and basically ashamed of having ruined her previous MARRIAGE for someone that was CLEARLY just using her. BUT while Stephen was using her, Stephen would have gotten Carla to do SOMETHING illegal for him in order to BLACKMAIL her later and keep her from letting the world know what he REALLY did behind the scenes.

        4. NOW, for ELENA to be afraid of Stephen, AS SHE CLEARLY WAS AFRAID of the guy that had demanded Mia, then Stephen would have had to do SOMETHING for Elena in the past. MAYBE Stephen was even the MAN THAT ELENA was involved with back in the day that Andrew seemingly “rescued” her from. (Andrew knew Elena had been involved in BDSM and that she had a previous Dom, so that could have always been STEPHEN. Which meant that Stephen potentially had dirt on ELENA from back in the day AND then once again when he found out about the bar.)

        (I admit that I STILL NEED something MORE to explain just WHY Elena FEARED Stephen so much. Clearly, Elena was even willing to risk her relationship wtih Christian to let this guy rape Mia. So HE HAD TO HAVE HAD SOMETHING on Elena, maybe even PROOF of misdeeds occurring in the club, such as MAYBE HAVING SENT IN ONE OF HIS OWN WOMEN INTO THE BAR as an employee of ELena’s AND FILMING the “misdeeds” along with PROOF thta Elena was running things.)

        5. So Ana’s EXPOSURE of the plot against Mia ultimately leads to THE BAR BEING SHUT DOWN. And that bar was a source of Stephen’s income OR even of his ability to TARGET CLIENTS of Elena’s that used the bar.

        So Christian’s SHUTTING THE BAR down HURT STEPHEN’S BOTTOM LINE and dried up his potential INCOME.

        6. So Stephen uses his KNOWLEDGE of Elena’s activities AND HIS FILM ARCHIVE of Elena’s clients from the GIRLS he had on the INSIDE of the club to BLACKMAIL many of Christian’s GEH employees into HELPING HIM set up everything to take down Christian AND exact his REVENGE on ANA as well.

        7. Stephen then USES his KNOWLEDGE of Ana’s STRESS issues regarding her pregnancy to PHONE HER on the day of graduation. Then while everyone is rushing to the hospital, he KIDNAPS BOB, and then THREATENS CARLA when she is at her WEAKEST. (THAT would explain Bob’s failure to be seen from the time of Ana entering into the hospital forward.)

        8. OR Stephen contacts Carla AFTER the ATTACK on Ana and lets her know that he is involved. AND that it is only a matter of TIME until he is successful in getting Ana. HOWEVER, Stephen assures Carla that he is ONLY interested in taking down CHRISTIAN and his family, and that he will allow CARLA to shelter Ana and Calliope BUT ONLY IF she separates them from Christian.

        Stephen even further secures Carla’s “loyalty” by telling her of the BLACKMAIL stuff he has on her and WILL USE to inform Bob OR the police IF he is identified as being the ringleader of the Conspiracy. FURTHERMORE, Stephen tells Carla that it is FOR ANA’s OWN GOOD thta she separate her from Christian, as he might claim to know what CHristian, himself, did back in the day wiht eLena, etc.

        I mean, THIS IS THE WEAKEST LINK to me of WHY Carla would HELP Stephen separate Ana from Christian. Either Stephen threatens to REVEAL blackmail from Carla AND promises to let her keep Ana and Calliope with no further harm from him IF she cooperates. I CAN’T IMAGINE WHY Carla would trust Stephen, so there would HAVE to be SUBSTANTIAL concern regarding BLACKMAIL material OR a DIRECT THREAT to Bob, such as Stephen’s later kidnapping him.

        SO THE ABOVE is the ONLY way I can see STEPHEN MORTON being Mr. Conspiracy Head. AND it explains WHY Stephen would be SO OBSESSED with BOTH Christian AND ANA and why he would be planning to do such awful things to Ana that even ELENA was disgusted.

        AND it would explain why ELENA feared him and seemingly cooperated with him.

        IT WOULD ALSO EXPLAIN just WHY Mr. Conspiracy Head expected Ana to KNOW who he was at graduation. AND how he so frightened CARLA that she acted teh way she did at the hospital—because CARLA had seen him there OR at the hospital, AND Stephen had maybe grabbed BOB in all the chaos.

        Like

      2. Stephen Morton’s descent into depravity and madness would be a truly twisted tale, especially from a psychological sense. You would get a guy that starts as the typical pimp, trying to get girls dependent on him due to drugs, as he did with Ella. But then you have an overdose, and you have no woman and no funds AND a potential criminal conviction from having provided the illicit drugs in the first place that led to death.

        So Stephen would want to PROGRESS to having more of a PSYCHOLOGICAL hold on the women to LESSEN the use of drugs. You would have someone tending to TARGET women with children, particularly girls, as a way to INCREASE his access to still more women.

        Due to the above, Stephen would have targeted MIA at the club, because he would have threatened to release PHOTOS from his attack on Mia, all that made it look like Mia was seemingly participating voluntarily and that would not show his face. And a broken Mia would have been expected to introduce Mr. Conspiracy Head to OTHER girls in order to protect herself, etc. And Stephen would CLAIM that he only planned to “blackmail” drunk girls like her friend, Tabitha, that were going to clubs, etc. but then AFTER Stephen had done terrible things to Tabitha, he woudl tell MIA that he would “expose” her “involvement” if she didn’t do exactly what he demanded. AND that he would take it out on other girls if she didn’t.

        So you see how Stephen gets even the best intended girls involved in the absolute worst stuff. And just WHY it would infuriate Stephen so badly that Mia escaped his “attentions” due to ANA, the girl that HAD escaped his criminal intentions a decade prior.

        AND it would fly all over Stephen that CHRISTIAN had essentially (at least, in Stephen’s mind) done THE EXACT SAME THING in first prostituting himself out to Elena in exchange for FUNDS for school. Which in essence, Christian really HAD done by taking the bribe that allowed Elena to get far MORE out of Andrew Lincoln then she ever would have gotten otherwise. So THIS criminal act funds GEH, and GEH stays PROFITABLE so early on BECAUSE it has the funds from Elena’s OWN criminal prostitution ring laundered through GEH.

        YET when Elena is fully exposed, Christian STILL gets away with everything. HIs company is now powerful enough not to need Elena’s further involvement, and something like that would ENRAGE Stephen Morton. Christian seemingly has everything and is absolved of his previous criminal acts, without which NONE of GEH would have been possible.

        So Christian has seemingly become successful by utilizing Stephen’s type of manipulation, AND Christian has seemingly ended Stephen’s business and the hold he had over women in Elena’s club. AND CHRISTIAN WOULD HAVE BEEN the little boy that got away due to Ella’s death.

        So seeing the Girl AND Boy that got away united and happy and profitable at HIS expense would push Stephen into madness, determined to get said Boy and Girl, no matter what it cost. ESPECIALLY if he could take EVERYTHING from them beforehand.

        So yeah, if the BACKSTORY was right, then Stephen Morton makes a compelling and warped psychological horror attempting to prey on CHristian and Ana. AND would explain just WHY Christian would feel the need to take out Stephen Morton any way he could, KNOWING that Stephen has gotten away with SO MUCH over the years by making his girls “involve” themselves in his criminal activity so that they won’t come forward.

        But THAT MUCH evil would be an awful thing to write. And probably WAY too dark in the end to read. When I first read Ellen and romanreader’s theories on Stephen, I found myself trying to think just HOW to connect the dots to explain ALL the previous things thta had happened which would compel Stephen to go after CHristian AND Ana together. And the ONLY thing that would do that woudl be the above.

        The above theory would explain why seeing two CHILDREN get away from him AND hurt him in the pocketbook in the process, would make him driven by such a need to dominate the two into being utterly broken. ESPECIALLY since they are rich and happy and Stephen is not, even after all his schemes.

        At least with Andrew LIncoln, you can understand HIS descent into madness AND need for revenge against Christian, at least, based on what happened in ADSOF and ABSOF. AND why he would seemingly “justify” his actions of murdering people that had already compromised themselves previously and done evil previously, so thta Andrew doesn’t see murdering them as all that bad. But going after Carla is a WHOLE different thing that can only SHOW just how EVIL HE truly has become.

        (And hey, Tara you could always write a WHAT IF type of story where you write your final chapters TWICE, once making one particular guy the HEAD and than ANOTHER version where it is the Other one. Because WITH THE RIGHT BACKSTORY, anyone is still possible as the Conspiracy Head.

        And Tara, this is REALLY all the fault of your writing, after all, since it is compelling to see just HOW Christian really could rise to fame and create such previously unimagined enemies in the process. I mean, Andrew Lincoln SEEMED like a fairly descent man in ADSOF. Yet if the Conspiracy Head ends up being HIM, then you see how twisted he became after Elena’s manipulations and determination for revenge.

        So Revenge begats Revenge, just by the next victim along the line. ANd Christian’s failing to see how he was a victim until almost too late. Because Christian WAS on the way to becoming the very man Elena envisioned molding him into, if Ana had not finally picked up the phone on the VERY day that she did.)

        Like

  28. Each chapter gets better and better. When Carla went off the rail when Ann gave birth, I thought at that time Morton somehow was involved. I think he is blackmailing Carla with some pictures he got when they were married. I think his backstory with Christian involves a company that Christian may have acquired. Morton maybe losing a lot of money. Ana comes into the news with Christian and Morton see this, he goes crazy. He always wanted Ana and now Christian has her and his company. What do you think?

    Like

    1. roman reader – I love your theory! I had also been thinking he could possibly be Christian’s birth dad (I know – a HUGE stretch!). Your theory seems more feasible. And, if not blackmailing Carla with photos, it could be quite a bit worse – i.e. Harm to Ana/Calliope, even Bob. Glad someone else is on my Stephen Morton mindset. Can’t wait to learn who HE is and would be most interested in Tara’s full back-story if it possibly IS Morton.

      Like

    2. romanreader,

      Please see my above reply to Ellen for my THEORY of how it COULD be Stephen Morton. My thoughts are that STEPHEN was ELLA’S PIMP back in the day that got her into prostitution in the first place by getting her hooked on drugs. Stephen CONTINUED his PIMPING of women, INCLUDING GIVING SOME OF HIS WOMEN to ELENA for her BAR.

      Stephen THEN targets MIA as being an underage girl that he could rape THEN BLACKMAIL, knowing that Mia would BLAME HERSELF for the attack, since she was not supposed to be working in the bar in the first place PLUS she knew what happened within. WHO would believe her if Elena pointed out that Mia HAD BEEN IN THE CLIENT ROOM supposedly doing her “job” at the time of the alleged attack.

      But ANA thwarts the attack AND THEN CHRISTIAN shuts down the bar. Which drives Stephen crazy SINCE NOW BOTH ANA AND CHRISTIAN have ESCAPED his prior ABUSE of them both back in the day.

      AND THIS WOULD EXPLAIN the negative ATTITUDE towards women that we basically saw in Carter’s conversation with HIM.

      Morton would have also seemingly got CARLA addicted to drugs back in the day after Ana had left. AND gotten Carla to do ILLEGAL things, MAYBE EVEN BRIEFLY PIMPING OUT CARLA, and filming it. AND THEN MORTON WOULD THREATEN TO publish OR give BOB the stuff from Carla, PARTICULARLY if maybe Stephen lured Carla to him through false pretenses AFTER she had gotten with Bob.

      Stephen could have even kidnapped BOB in all the chaos that occurred following Ana’s placental abruption.

      So the ABOVE explains WHY Stephen is SO OBSESSED with both Christian AND ANA, since BOTH of them previously ESCAPED his abuse AND because Christian THWARTED his attempts to blackmail MIA and furthermore SHUT DOWN THE BAR, which was the source of his pleasure AND INCOME. And this would ALSO explain why Elena felt COMPELLED to work with him.

      (I still list Andrew Lincoln as my first choice. BUT THE ABOVE would DEFINITELY explain ALMOST everything, INCLUDING Stephen expecting Ana to RECOGNIZE him at graduation. For Ana to look past him and NOT EVEN RECOGNIZE him would have made him boil over. He had thought that he made Ana so AFRAID of him back in the day that she would still have nightmares and fear him.)

      Like

  29. Additional thoughts….I also think, Morton was in the lifestyle and was the man that almost raped Mia. He was a member of the club and new Elena well. He may of had stuff on Elena. I can’t wait to find out who is behind all this.

    Like

    1. YES – I had thought about him for that same thing, but hadn’t factored in about him having stuff on Elena – that makes perfect sense. At the same time, I had also thought about Christian’s financial guy (name escapes me at the moment) as I think Mia had a reaction when his name was mentioned.
      Stephen Morton does remain my Number One for the Conspirator.
      Can’t wait either – and, although I hope we will find out on Monday, I am not so sure we will get the BIG Conspirator REVEAL this week..

      Like

      1. romanreader and Ellen,

        The connection that I see Stephen Morton having is BOTH from BDSM and from his being a PIMP. His Mode of Operation is to get a girl hooked on drugs and then pimp her out. My theory is that he even used some of his OWN women in the bar with ELENA. So they WORKED together previously, with Elena HAVING to comply with Stephen and do WHATEVER he wanted, INCLUDING PROVIDING MIA TO HIM, due to Stephen having used HIS OWN WOMEN to FILM what occurred in the bar AND THAT ELENA was the one running the thing.

        So Stephen gets “free service” at Elena’s bar AND a kick-back of part of the profits, particularly of the girls that he provided to Elena.

        And ELLA would have been one of his girls from back in the day who escaped him by dying. Which meant CHRISTIAN escaped him as well AND THEN WENT ON to become a billionaire essentially on the backs of blackmailing women, SINCE Christian essentially got his company start-up money as “blackmail” for not telling the TRUTH about WHAT ELENA did to him.

        And GIA could have been one of his girls from back in the day. HOWEVER, when Gia later sees the Grey family as her possible way out and threatens to reveal Stephen, then he kills her. Would also increasingly explain Gia’s desperation to hold onto Elliot, something she had previously seen as a “done deal.”

        PLUS, Stephen’s ACCESS to Elena’s bar meant he had ACCESS TO THE CLIENT LIST, including all the GEH employees and financial advisors to Christian that utilized the club. SO STEPHEN THREATENS TO EXPOSE the FILM he had of the illegal activities in the club UNLESS the financial guys comply with setting up the SHELL CORPORATION that he needed to launder his illegal gains from prostitution AND later to fund his people in the Conspiracy.

        So YES, Stephen could DEFINITELY be the Conspiracy Head. AND WHY Mr. Conspiracy Head PHONED ANA at graduation AND EXPECTED her to recognize him instantly, even though she had gotten away from him relatively quickly back in the day. Since Ana was NOT expecting to see him (AND because he might have changed his appearance over the years), Ana did NOT recognize him.

        It would also explain just WHY Stephen is SO FOCUSED on possessing ANA even though he badly wants to punish Christian. STEPHEN WOULD HATE CHRISTIAN so much because he sees Christian as having FUNDED GEH in the beginning due to basically BLACKMAILING Elena to get the start-up funds. THEN CHRISTIAN’S COMPANY GREW because it had SO MANY FUNDS provided to it from Elena’s MONEY LAUNDERING, which was again on the backs (literally) of prostitution.

        SO IN STEPHEN’S OWN MIND, Christian would basically have been doing THE EXACT SAME THING as Stephen, BUT CHRISTIAN has everything seemingly “legit” AND doesn’t get in trouble when Elena is exposed. So CHristian is EXACTLY what Stephen is, a “taker,” yet he doesn’t get caught for it AND still gets the woman and lifestyle he wants, ALL with praise from society! When Christian has LIED and ignored criminal activity AND MADE A PROFIT off such conduct. And ALL from a little boy that escaped him back in the day when his mother died, as Ella would have been a prostitute pimped out by him.

        So I admit the THEORY FITS, although you almost HAVE to have the whole above backstory, INCLUDING Stephen being the guy that demanded MIA be provided to him. IT WOULD ALSO EXPLAIN WHY STEPHEN REACHED OUT TO ANA and spoke to HER, not Christian. And WHY Christian might not recognize Stephen’s voice after so many years. ALSO explains Stephen’s OBSESSION with CHristian as well.

        Like

  30. REALLY FINAL final Thoughts:

    IF my above HISTORY of Stephen Morton is CORRECT, then I ADMIT he would warrant arguably being moved to the NUMBER ONE slot of person most likely to be Mr. Conspiracy Head.

    What had always bothered me about ANDREW LINCOLN as the Head was WHY he would reach out to CARLA and WHY Carla would potentially FEAR him so much. SAME was true in regards to ELENA.

    After all, Elena’s conversation at the prison had her speaking contemptuously of Andrew Lincoln and seemingly in a dismissive way. While that could have been DELIBERATE in order to mislead Christian, it just didn’t seem like Elena would FEAR someone so much that she had completely destroyed at every step of the way previously. And Andrew’s PREVIOUS tactic had been to RETREAT, even moving across the country, to get away from everything that had happened. HOWEVER, Elena and Christian had seemingly followed him across country TO NEW YORK, giving Andrew Lincoln a supremely good reason to want REVENGE and to be contemptuous of everything Christian had accomplished, KNOWING that everything had come at HIS expense.

    But Andrew Lincoln being THE HEAD does NOT explain the seeming preoccupation with ANA that Mr. Conspiracy Head seems to have. AFTER ALL, it is NOT GRACE or a GREY that Mr. Conspiracy Head targets for murder BUT IS CARLA, instead. Andrew NEVER had any contact with Carla or reason to go after HER.

    SO THE ATTACK ON CARLA makes STEPHEN MORTON a better fit. AND WOULD EXPLAIN why Carla would have REASON TO FEAR Stephen. AND why Stephen would be SO MOTIVATED to kill Carla since she could EXPOSE HIM and his backstory.

    Stephen would KNOW from graduation that Ana clearly does NOT even suspect him as HEAD since she didn’t even recognize him when staring straight at him. BUT CARLA could have seen Stephen at graduation, which MIGHT in part explain why she was seemingly out-of-it at the time of Ana’s placental abruption.

    And realizing that STEPHEN was determined to take CHRISTIAN down could make Carla think she COULD keep Ana and/or Calliope safe and at bay by threatening to expose STEPHEN to Christian. And Ana’s ceasing contact with Carla could have made Carla FINALLY decide to do the right thing, DESPITE her OWN exposure, and REVEAL what Stephen was trying to do. IT WOULD ALSO EXPLAIN BOB’s lack of contact if Stephen either kidnapped him OR IF CARLA HAD REVEALED Stephen’s blackmail, making Bob either LEAVE Carla. OR maybe even Bob persuaded Carla to GO TO THE POLICE, who then informed STEPHEN of Carla’s coming forward.

    But the attack on Carla ONLY makes sense IF THERE WAS A CONNECTION between Mr. Conspiracy Head and her SUCH THAT HE FEARED EXPOSURE that could ONLY be prevented by murdering Carla.

    AND it would also explain A CONNECTION TO ISAAC, since my theory is that STEPHEN provided some of his OWN girls, in his work as a pimp, to Elena FOR THE BAR. Stephen would have had to have WORKED with Isaac previously, which would be how Isaac KNEW what Stephen had on Elena.

    The CONVERSATION WITH MR. CONSPIRACY HEAD as reported by CARTER also makes sense as seen through STEPHEN’S eyes. After all, CHRISTIAN seemingly prostituted HIMSELF to Elena for company start-up money. THEN Christian’s company becomes STRONGER because of all the capital that Elena’s prostitution brought in. So the company’s REAL success is seemingly at the cost of EXPLOITING people, something that STEPHEN, himself, does. BUT CHRISTIAN GETS AWAY with all of his illegal activity AND GETS TO KEEP HIS COMPANY, while the BAR used by Elena, Stephen and Isaac gets shut down.

    ALL the above EXPLAINS Stephen’s obsession with BOTH CHRISTIAN AND ANA. And WHY he is so bent on literally possessing and harming Ana. AFTER ALL, it was Ana that knew all about Christian’s lie on the stand, yet she did not expose him. She even eventually got back together with him, KNOWING that he was still working wiht Elena.

    Andrew Lincoln would have to have known Ana’s background and that she EARNED her place at Harvard all prior to having ever met Christian. STEPHEN, however, FAILS to see Ana as being smart enough to secure her OWN place at Harvard AND ASSUMES IT WAS BOUGHT for her. So that part of Carter’s conversation with HIM would TRACK.

    And BECAUSE of his connection with Elena THROUGH THE BAR, Stephen would then be the ONLY person OTHER than Andrew Lincoln that would KNOW the truth of just HOW Christian got the money for GEH and the REAL previous relationship between Elena and Christian. AND would KNOW TO USE ISAAC as a go-between with Elena, due to their PREVIOUS WORKING RELATIONSHIP at the bar. AND would explain WHY ELENA WOULD feel COMPELLED to work with Stephen.

    But the attempted MURDER of Carla really only IS explained IF it was Stephen Morton, as he has that past HISTORY WITH Carla AND could fear exposure as a result, once Carla had lost everything and figured the ONLY way back WOULD BE TO REVEAL STEPHEN’S IDENTITY.

    Andrew Lincoln wuold NOT have had a reason to reveal his identity to Carla OR to think he could CONTROL her. OTHERWISE, prior to this attack, the MOTIVATION and back story of his character made ANDREW the most likely candidate for a REVENGE PLOT.

    But I credit Tara with fiendishly working out a way to make Carter’s conversation with HIM make it look like EITHER Andrew OR Stephen was possible. But the WAY Ana is described by Mr. Conspiracy head makes it FAR more likely that STEPHEN was the Head since Stephen would not have known just how smart Ana was or that she got her entry into Harvard due to MERIT. And EITHER Andrew OR Stephen could have heard from ELENA that Christian had gone to Harvard to “buy” Ana’s place back in after the scandal.

    Astor Harrington is still out there as a possibility. But there is NO real reason for him to reach out to Carla, and no reason for Carla to cooperate with him, quite frankly. And Astor still has a bright future on the same path he seemingly was on prior to ever encountering Christian, so I don’t see Astor as having a real burning need to get Christian and Ana.

    So I really see it down to being EITHER Andrew Lincoln OR Stephen Morton as being the most likely candidates to be Mr. Conspiracy Head. And for it to be Stephen Morton, there would HAVE to be the backstory that is similar to what I have previously suggested above. But the KEY to all of this would HAVE to be the ATTACK on Carla. THAT lends suspicion closer to Stephen Morton than Andrew Lincoln, since killing Carla is such an openly hostile and violent act thta would HAVE to be investigated by police. So the ONLY reason Mr. Conspiracy Head would do this is when his plan has been NOT to draw ATTENTION would be because HE FEARED Carla COULD expose him.

    Like

  31. Finally, STEPHEN MORTON being the guy that tried to attack MIA tracks, since we KNOW that Elena FEARED THIS MAN by Mia’s OWN report. Elena was willing to INCREASE Mia’s pay to around eight THOUSAND dollars A MONTH just if she would meet this man’s demands. Elena had said that he was an “important client,” so Stephen would HAVE to have something on Elena such that she feared exposure BY HIM even over ticking off Christian and ending that relationship that had proved so valuable to HER in getting and keeping clients.

    And the ONLY way that Stephen would have anything on Elena would be if he had provided girls to the bar that he had previously “broken in” to the business of prostitution. And he would clearly TARGET underage girls, such as Mia and Ana previously, as ones most likely to bend to his will. It would ALSO EXPLAIN why ANA keeping him from Mia would so enrage him, since Ana, HERSELF, had escaped him previously by fleeing to Ray.

    And Stephen would have been able to have previously controlled Carla. And even though Carla HAD been able to divorce him in the end, she would HAVE to know that Stephen had potential blackmail material on her that she would NOT want her husband or daughter OR even police to know about. So Stephen would have REASON to believe that he COULD get Carla to cooperate with him IF he presented his plan as being JUST to go after CHRISTIAN rather than Ana, IF Carla could get Ana to separate from Christian and go to her.

    Still, if Carla knew how much Stephen had clearly frightened and repulsed Ana back in the day, you would wonder WHY she would trust Stephen to hold up his end of the deal. So Stephen seemingly had to have something MORE, which may be that he kidnapped Bob.

    I admit that there are still unanswered questions and unexplained things that don’t completely fit for EITHER Stephen or Andrew. So we still need MORE to know who Mr. Conspiracy Head is.

    As always, LOVING the story. I can’t remember when another story left so much to speculate that MAKES YOU want to spend the time doing so. Seeing the connections and clues and wondering where it all fits in is so much of the fun. So love ALWAYS to TARA for coming up with such an intriguing storyline that leads to all the speculation! Even if my teeth will be ground down to the gums by the time we finally get the Big Reveal!

    (And really, Tara, any FURTHER BONUSES you want to treat us to will go a long way to soothing said pain from ground-down teeth and anxiety over future dental bills as a result!!!!!)

    Like

    1. Tori and romanreader:
      Was not going to respond to either, since I DO agree with both of you on soo many levels. You both have added so much enjoyment – I have never responded, directly, to anyone’s comments, and doing so now has truly provided another dimension – Thank You. I do, though, have a couple of comments to suggest may be part of the Stephen Morton equation. Most of my other thoughts have previously been stated and we seem to be ‘on the same page’ more than not.

      I do NOT believe that Stephen would have been Ella’s pimp – age may be a question, and his general appearance as the pimp, does not seem to lend itself to any aspect of attractive/appealing. And, If Stephen was the pimp, no matter how young Christian was at the time, I am convinced he would never, ever forget that voice. It has plagued him for years and years.

      Carla, I do not imagine, would have been attracted to Morton if he did not have money – which she definitely did need. Good looks, money and maybe even prominence would more than likely have been her prerequisites for the man to replace Ray, who certainly did not live up to her standards – although I do believe she did love him. She more than likely would not have realized either Stephen’s BDSM tendencies or violent traits prior to their marriage. Men like that are experts at being covert. At least she had the good sense to accept Ana’s leaving and her return to Ray’s care.

      Carla on drugs (or recovering) certainly would not have attracted Bob who (unless he fools us all and turns out to be HIM or an ally of his) gives the impression of a loving, caring All-American guy. As above, my view of Stephen Morton is more of a good-looking ‘ladies-man’ with money and social position (real or phony). He would be someone who, if he did enjoy the BDSM lifestyle, would definitely be attracted to Elena and all she and her ‘ladies’ would have to offer. He probably did become an investor for the control that you suggest, Tori. YES, Mia would be right up his alley and, once he learned who she was, it would simply add much more to his revenge plot – Carla for both allowing Ana to leave, divorcing him and any animosity he would have for Christian (either being his birth father or someone who screwed him over royally in business) Add in Mia, and Stephen would go into over-drive if she became part of the overall scheme of things.

      My BIG HOWEVER, is the fact that Tara responded Tori: ‘to liking your story and it being one she would like to read.’ Sooo – either we are way off base with Stephen or have gotten too close for comfort. I suspect it is most likely the former, rather than the latter. Tara’s ability to offer up ‘items’ we would never suspect is uncanny.

      I do remain in doubt about Andrew Lincoln for already mentioned reasons but, particularly, because he appears way too obvious which is absolutely NOT what would be expected from Tara. She apparently delights in ‘leading us down the garden path.’ Her writing never ceases to amaze.

      Just a few more days until Monday – when, hopefully, MUCH additional information will be provided – although I am not expecting HIS identity to be revealed for a little while longer. Hope i am mistaken about that!

      Like

  32. Can someone anyone please help . I have read and re-read the first two books. And now on chapters five in stronger. I don’t recall a conversation about Morton. Anyones knows which books or chapters? I’m lost with this speculation of Morton. I know anyone can be a suspect. Just looking to read something that possible have clues.Have I missed a book where Morton was mentioned. I am re-reading stronger again and nothing yet.

    What I do find curious. I think in chapter three or four in stronger. Ana saw Lelia at Carter’s party their first real encounter in Cambridge. Left me thinking did Lelia know Carter? Were they working together? Kate was invited and dragged Ana away from homework to be her guess.
    Who invited Lelia? Lelia told Ana that the Conspiracy Head was everywhere. And because of Luke they was unable to get to her in Cambridge. Things for me with Carter are just not adding up. As a recruit he stayed extremely close to all of the Greys and knew everything that went on with Kate and Ana.

    Like

    1. In chapter 38 of the first book, Ana says “I wish I would have called the police on Steven when he started hitting my mom. She asked me not to, told me that it was just a phase, but I should have known better. It got so bad that I had to move back home with Ray and I still never said anything. I left her there, defenseless, with no one to turn to. That’s my biggest regret.”
      I think Ana may have mentioned him to Christian once before, but I couldn’t find it.

      Like

  33. Hi. quick question. I can only get the particular spot where we request outtakes by scrolling back but I can’t seem to find it by going to menu. I was just curious if that correct. Thanks

    Like

  34. Amazing chapter. Ana is going to be heartbroken if carla dies. Isaac’s loyalty can be questioned of he purposely sent the manuscript to ana. Maybe he decided to do what was right. Maybe he saw elena for the witch she was.

    Honestly my money was on hyde all this time but finding out he was just a pawn, my next bet is on stephan morton
    If i’m not confusing two stories i think he was mentioned in the first book but his story was never elaborated. That could explain why carla was a target.
    Or maybe andrew lincoln as christian did mess with his business.
    Everyone else i think has probably been crossed out except astor but he was harmless.
    This story is getting better and better and i’m sure there are big surprises coming.

    Like

  35. The conversation regarding Morton was Chapter 38 in ADSOF. When Ana. Christian, Kate and Elliott was pretty much getting hammered by the snow in a small cafe in Cambridge. Kate wanted to play a game which they all agreed to. The game was “If you got one do over” That when Ana revealed leaving her mom with the abuser and never saying anything about the abuse.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s