Chapter 45

Silence. We all sit in complete silence, gaping at Mia while she shakes in her chair. I don’t know what to say, I don’t think anyone does, until Christian finally shakes his head, dispelling his own shock, and starts.

“What you mean you know…? How could you…? I-I– Who is it?”

Her bottom lip trembles as she fights off tears, but before she has a chance to calm her impending breakdown enough so that she can speak, Luke gets out of his chair and moves to Christian’s little sister.

“Mr. Grey, perhaps we should move to somewhere more private before we have this conversation? There are three other families in this room, four individuals… We have no way of knowing that this is a secure place for Miss Grey to tell us what she knows.”

“No, we’re not waiting another–” Christian begins to argue, but as if to prove Luke’s point, a woman walks by and stops dead in her tracks when she glances inside our small little compartment. Her eyes fall on me and widen.

“Oh, good lord!” she exclaims in a thick southern accent. “You’re Anastasia Steele! I watched you on the Today show and then they said on The View that you’d been attacked in New York! What happened, honey? What are you doing down here?”

“Um…”

I stammer, unsure of what to say under this woman’s insistent gaze, but thankfully Luke saves me when he steps through the opening of the vestibule and guides the woman away. Once she’s gone, Christian’s body tightens with frustration and he glares at his sister.

“Is she one of them? Is she working for him too?”

Mia shakes her head. “I don’t know.”

“Are you sure? Or is that just another one of your fucking lies?” His voice is icy and full of malice. I’ve never heard him speak to her that way and clearly, it rattles her. She shrinks away from him, but his overbearing fury doesn’t recede when he sees how scared she is looking up at him.

“Elliot, go find Kate,” he barks. “We’re leaving. The second we’re out of this hospital, we stay together. All of us.” He turns angry eyes back on his sister. “And you are not to leave my sight. Do you understand me, Amelia?”

She nods and Christian reaches down to pick up Calliope’s car seat, which is resting against the foot of the chair Luke has just vacated. Elliot hurries out of the vestibule in search of Kate and while the rest of the family gathers their things, I take a breath and go to Mia.

“Come on,” I say gently, placing a comforting arm around her and pulling her into me. She’s still shaking and as I hold her, she starts to cry again.

“I’m so sorry, Ana. I’m so sorry.”

“I know. Let’s go.”

My dad has decided to sit with Taylor as a sign of respect for a fallen soldier and, despite my attempts to bring him along with us, he refuses to leave. Christian gives him the address of the hotel we’re staying at, in case he changes his mind, and asks him to contact us if there’s any changes in Taylor’s condition. He promises we will, so after I’ve hugged and kissed him good-bye, Christian leads us all out to the hospital parking garage where the town car that he drove to pick me up and another, larger rental car are waiting for us. Luke takes the driver’s seat of one, Harrison the other, and Christian pulls Mia into the same town car as Calliope and me.

Though he sits in the front seat and he never speaks, I can feel anger radiating off of him the entire drive to the hotel. Silent tears run steadily down Mia’s face as she folds her arms tightly across her chest and stares through the window. Several times, while I fish around in Calliope’s car seat for the pacifier she keeps spitting out, I reach over to her and try to hold her hand, but she shakes me off every time. Seeing her like this brings me back to the morning of my wedding and the cuts in her skin I’d found as she changed. She told me she was punishing herself. That she hated herself. Now I truly know why she felt that way and it sends me spiraling through a confusing mess of deep rooted betrayal and heartache for the little sister that I love.

Christian won’t be able to accept her reasoning for why she made the choices she did. He’ll never be able to see past the danger her silence has kept us all in, and maybe to an extent, he’s right. I should be furious with her. I should be sick to my stomach over the choice she’s made and everything we’ve lost or come close to losing because of it. But all I see when I look at her is a terrified 17 year old girl, who I know loves her family, and who I know has been tortured with the secret that she’s held and the decision over whether to keep her silence or to tell and risk the safety of her entire family.  

“Let’s go,” Christian barks at her as we pull up to the modest, very un-Christian looking hotel, which he’s reserved under an assumed name to try and throw off anyone who may still be trying to find us. He helps me take Calliope’s car seat out of the back, then carries her into the lobby with his free hand wrapped tightly around Mia’s arm. He doesn’t release her for even a second while Luke checks us in and brings us the keys to our rooms, and when we’re finally behind closed doors again, he pushes her down onto one bed, then settles down on the other directly across from her. I try to put Calli down for the night as far away from the conversation as the cramped hotel room allows. I know she doesn’t understand what’s happening, but I want her to protect her from the amount of anger her father is projecting right now. It’s almost frightening, and even though our daughter is still an infant, I don’t want her seeing him like this.

“Christian, before you start…” Elliot says, the worry clear in his voice, but Christian holds up a hand to silence him. His cold eyes are focused only on Mia.

“Talk.”

She lets out a scared sob and diverts her eyes from her brother. “I’m sorry, Christian.”

“I don’t want to hear your fucking apologies, Mia. I want answers. Start talking.”

“I didn’t know the whole time,” she says defensively. “I thought he was just after me. I thought he was just trying to keep me from telling you who he was. He said all I had to do was keep quiet and no one would get hurt. I didn’t even know Ana was in trouble until she got kidnapped and even then, I didn’t think he was the same person until you said that you thought Gia was involved and then we were at dinner and she said his name…”

“What?” Elliot asks.

She turns and gives a pained look at Elliot. “Charles Gresham. His name is Charles Gresham. It’s the guy you and Gia were fighting over at the barbeque Mom threw for Ray.”

Elliot’s face goes blank, but Christian’s brow furrows in confusion. “Gresham? My finance guy? How could it be Gresham? Why the fuck would he want to come after me? After Ana?”

“Because you stopped him.”

“Stopped him from what?”

She swallows. “That night, when Ana found me at Elena’s club. When she grabbed me and took me away because Elena was trying to force me to have sex with that guy… It was Charles Gresham. He was the dominant who tried to… to…” Her voice cuts off, and this time, it’s Christian’s turn to look shocked.

“But you said… you said you didn’t know his name. When we questioned you before the trial, you said you didn’t know who he was. That’s why we didn’t go after him!”

“I didn’t. Back then, I only knew him as Mr. Darling, and that wasn’t his real name. They all used aliases and it wasn’t like I got their full employment records when they came into the club. They gave me a handful of cash, I took them back to Elena, no one asked questions. But, right before the trail, he found me while I was out getting ice cream with Tibby. He told me to keep my mouth shut, to never speak of him again, and as long as I could do that we wouldn’t have any problems. He wouldn’t have to hurt anyone. Not me. Not my family. I told him I’d never tell anyone, and at the time it was an easy promise to make because didn’t know his name. I couldn’t have told if I wanted to. Then… I found out. Last Thanksgiving, when Ana got caught in that storm, we were watching the news around the clock waiting for updates and he came on during the business segment. His name was on the bottom of the screen. Charles Gresham. I’d know his face anywhere. I’ll never be able to forget it.”

She stops and glances hesitantly back at Christian, but he doesn’t say anything. His expression hasn’t softened, his posture hasn’t relaxed, and he continues to look at her expectantly.

“I thought about telling then,” she continues. “Because I wanted him to have to face some consequences for what he did to me. But Christian had left for Cambridge, Mom and Dad were freaked out about Ana, Kate was caught in the storm too, and Elliot had fallen off the face of the planet… I didn’t really have anyone to turn to. Then Dad got cancer and everyone was worried about that, and Ana was pregnant… I felt like there wasn’t ever a good time to bring all of this up again. Especially with Christian proposing in Paris and planning for the baby. Once all the drama passed, it was like we finally had the chance to be a happy family again and I didn’t want to ruin it. I was just going to let it go. He never really got to touch me and Elena was already in jail. That seemed like fair retribution, I guess. I didn’t know he had anything to do with you or Ana. You never told us anything about Ana, and he had said that if I stayed quiet he wouldn’t hurt anyone. I thought it was just about me keeping his secret…” Her voice breaks as she begins to sob, but when Grace moves onto the bed next to her, she moves out of her reach and looks back up at Christian.

“I wanted to come to you after Ana was attacked and I realized it was the same guy, but I freaked out. I didn’t say anything so…  it was my fault. I couldn’t face that, I couldn’t face you. I really didn’t mean for any of this to happen…” She sniffs. “I just needed to talk to someone first and have them tell me it was going to be okay, that you’d forgive me. I called Kate a few times, but she never answered so I called Alexis instead. She worked at the club with me, as a submissive, and after everything closed down, she’d reached out to me and we’d gotten close. I could talk to her about everything that had happened and she understood. I mean, before he tried to get to me, she was Darling’s, err… Gresham’s favorite. So she knew what I was going through. He requested her almost every time he came in and he’d hurt her a couple times. I thought she would be supportive of me talking to you and would give me the courage to finally just do it, but she didn’t. She talked me out of it. She told me I was right. You would hate me and you’d never be my big brother the same way ever again. You’d only ever see this and it would all be for nothing because what happened to Ana was probably because of Gia anyway. Because Gia got caught opening her big mouth. But now Gia was gone and we were safe again as long as I stayed quiet. I believed that, and that I had to keep the secret because I could see now that he was serious. That he would hurt people.”

Mia hangs her head. “She must have had more to do with him than I knew because it was after that phone call when I started getting the pictures of all of you. He knew that I’d figured out who he was, and that I wanted to tell you. Alexis had to have told him.”

“Alexis?” Christian repeats, closing his eyes. When he opens them again, there’s recognition on his face. “Alexis Young?”

“Yes,” Mia confirms.

“I know her. I met with her after the trial. She was one the girls that wouldn’t take anything from me. She yelled at me and told me she’d never had a steady Dom before working for Elena and that I took that away from her. But she wasn’t the only one that felt that way. Several of the girls wanted to be in the lifestyle and I was fine with that as long as it was their choice. I never thought… Son of a bitch.”

“You said that he requested her every time he came in?” Luke asks. Mia nods.

“Every time. God, I’m so stupid.” She lets her head fall into her hands and then starts to cry again.

“You’re not stupid, Mia,” Grace says, trying again to comfort her, but Christian lets out a dark huff, so she turns a sharp gaze on her son. “You can be mad, but you can’t be cruel, Christian.”

“Oh, I’m more than fucking mad,” he says. “I have done everything I can to be there for you, Amelia. Hell, I’ve fought for you as hard as I fought for Ana, but that doesn’t seem to matter to you at all. I don’t care what else was going on, you lied to me and you keep lying to me, over and over again. This, the bar, hell the fucking party you almost got arrested at last year. It’s like Deja Vu all over again with you. If you had just come to me, I would have protected you. Then, now… I could have protected everyone. But instead, you kept your mouth shut and you lied and now we’re all in danger. Not legally this time. Actual danger.”  

“I was scared, Christian.”

“Oh, please. You’re not a child anymore, Mia. Stop acting like one. This isn’t a small thing that you’ve done and I don’t know we move forward from here. How can I trust anything you say? How do I even know this is the truth? How do I know he didn’t give you something to keep you quiet and that this is all just another distraction? You’ve been telling us all how good your lead role in Swan Lake this year is going to look on your Juilliard application. Did he get you that?” The longer he speaks, the more his anger becomes physically apparent. Mia cowers under his glare so Kate steps forward in her defense.

“Christian…”

“Not now, Kavanagh. This doesn’t concern you.”

“Excuse, you?” Elliot exclaims, jumping to her defense. “Don’t you dare talk to her that way.”

“Yeah.” Kate nods. “And don’t pretend like you haven’t been intimidated by someone into keeping secrets from your family, Christian Grey.”

“This is nothing like me and Elena, Kavanagh. This isn’t just keeping a secret about who my dick has been in, this is her withholding information from me that has almost led to my wife and my child being killed twice. Your best friend, Kate!”

“Well, if you would have just dealt with Elena when you were supposed to instead of lying and protecting her, she would have been in prison years ago and never would have been able to open that club and we wouldn’t be here right now!”

“Oh, here we go!” He throws his hands in the air in frustration. “Don’t try to deflect the blame on me, this is all because she is a sp-”

“Stop!” I scream, cutting off whatever biting response Christian was about to hurl at Kate. “Just stop, okay? This is stupid and it’s not getting us anywhere.”

“No!” Christian shakes his head as his body radiates with anger. He turns back to Mia. “I want answers. I want you to look me in the eye and tell me exactly how you justified keeping this to yourself. This is your fault, Amelia. Ryan, Taylor, Carla… that’s on you. I want to know how you sleep at night.”

“Her fault?” I snap. “That’s what you want out of this? Blame?”

He gives me a dark look and I feel my entire body tighten in defiance as I stare into his cold, gray eyes.

“Fine. Let’s play the blame game, Christian. Mia, yes, you should have spoken up before now. After everything we’ve all sacrificed for you and the choices you’ve made in the past, and how we all still stood by you, it’s really shitty that you wouldn’t trust us now.”

I turn, but look past Christian.

“Carrick, maybe if you were a little bit less concerned about what people thought about you and how your children would reflect on your precious legacy, you wouldn’t have made the exact same mistake with Mia that you made with Christian and she never would have turned to Elena in the first place. Grace, if you focused a little less on making sure your children loved and adored you and actually parented them, you’d have a better idea about what was really going on in their lives and we wouldn’t keep ending up in situations like this. Elliot, maybe if you wouldn’t have had your head shoved so far up your ass about Gia and her involvement in all of this, and if you hadn’t put up such a fight about Christian investigating her, we could have deduced her connection to this Gresham guy sooner and avoided Mia’s involvement altogether. Kate, if you would have given the girl who loved and adored you for years just an iota of your time after you broke up with Elliot, perhaps she would have had someone to talk to while her family was falling apart. Christian, if you learned to control your temper a little better and to forgive a little bit more and if you didn’t turn every small betrayal into some gigantic ordeal that drags us all through hell, she’d have been a little more willing to talk to you. And if I would have listened to her when she was trying to talk to me before, instead of assuming I knew what was wrong or trying to just fix her problems like I’m the one that knows what’s best in every fucking situation, she would have told me about this months ago when she first tried to. There is plenty of blame to go around in this room, but while we’re all in here pointing the finger at each other, he’s still out there. So let’s stop trying to assign blame and just fix the fucking problem!”

I’m shaking now and as everyone in the room gapes at me, I take several deep breaths to calm myself down.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “This anger isn’t going to do anyone any good. I was angry the last time I ever spoke to my mother. I told her I wanted nothing to do with her, and today, I lost her. I’m never going to get the chance to make things right with her again. I’m going to hold that with me for the rest of my life, so I’m not going to let that happen with us. We’re a family. At the end of the day, we’re all each other has and we’re going to deal with this as a family, not adversaries.”

Christian takes a deep breath and finally, he seems to relax. “You’re right, Ana. The enemy isn’t in this room. Mia, I’m sorry…”

“No, I’m sorry, Christian.” He reaches out and takes her hand, then moves to his knees on the floor in front of her so he can look her in the eye while she hangs her head in shame.

“I will never not love you, okay? Never. No matter what you do, and no matter how mad I get or how much I yell, you’re always going to be my little sister and I’m always going to be on your side. But you have to come to me when you’re in trouble. You have to talk to me. No matter what, okay?” She nods, so he kisses the backs of her hands and then looks up at Luke.

“Sawyer, you’re my point man now. We’ll have Mia talk to Hsu, but I don’t want to take any chances on circumstantial evidence. Find me something concrete on Gresham that I can turn over to the FBI and let’s get this son-of-a-bitch behind bars. In the meantime, I want to know where he is at all times and I want to know about anyone he’s in contact with.”

“Yes, sir,” Luke says, and after gathering his laptop bag, he leaves for his own room to get to work.

“Harrison,” Christian continues. “Go back to the hospital and wait with Ray. None of us should be alone right now. I want regular updates on Taylor’s condition. We’ll rejoin you at the hospital in the morning.”

“Yes, sir.”

Once he too has left, Christian rounds on his family and lets out a low, exhausted sounding breath. “It’s late and it’s been a long day for all of us. We should all try to get some sleep.”

“Yeah,” Carrick agrees. “We’re just next door and Mia’s staying in our room. Kate and Elliot are in the room on the other side of you. We’re all around if you or Ana need anything.”

Christian nods. “Thank you. Lock your deadbolts and don’t open the door for anyone. Everyone should have Luke or Harrison’s number, in case you need security.”

“I have both,” Kate says.

“Text them to me?” Mia asks. She nods and then Grace helps Mia off the bed.

“Come on, sweetheart. You and I need to have our own talk.” She frowns, though she gets off the bed willingly, but before they leave the room, Mia stops to hug me one last time.

“I’m so sorry about your mom, Ana. I’ll never forgive myself for what you’ve lost.”

“You didn’t pull the trigger, Mia. At the end of the day, this all comes down to him, to Gresham, and now we’re going to be able to make sure he never hurts any of us, or anyone else, ever again. Thank you for being honest tonight.”

She gives me a weak, rueful smile and then releases me so that Grace can hug me too. “I can’t imagine how painful this must be for you, dear. I’m so sorry this has happened. But you know, you’ll always have family, right? You have us and we all love you very much.”

“I know. Thank you, Grace.” My throat grows tight when she kisses me on the forehead, telling me that tears from the grief I feel are imminent, so once she releases me, I subtly recoil away from Carrick by moving into Christian’s side. I can’t handle anymore condolences. I’ll break down and there’s still so much I want to talk to Christian about once we’re alone. Thankfully, I think I can see understanding of this need expressed on Carrick’s face and Kate for sure is able to pick up on it. She wraps her hand around Elliot’s and tugs him towards the door.

“We’ll talk later. Okay, Ana?” she says. I give her the most grateful smile I can muster, nod, and then sigh in relief as Christian untangles his body from mine and moves to close the door behind everyone. After the deadbolt drops, he turns back to face me but his body slumps against the door.

“I don’t know what to say to you. I’m so sorry I couldn’t stop this, Ana.”

I shake my head. “No. You tried. This isn’t your fault. You’ve done everything you can and…” I stop, knowing that it’s this exact line of thinking that’s had him thinking about walking away from me all day. The pain in just the idea of that is overwhelming and as I look up at him, my eyes start to tear up again.

“Baby…”

“Please don’t leave me, Christian.”

“Hey.” His voice is soft as he pushes off the door, crosses the space between us, and takes me into his arms. “Baby, I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”

“No, that’s not what you said earlier. You said you were putting me in danger. You were going to leave. I’m not safer without you, Christian. You know that. Separating wouldn’t make him stop coming after us, it would just make us both more vulnerable. We’re stronger together.”

“I know.”

“Then how could you even say that to me?”

“Ana.” His voice is pained and I can see him struggle to find the words to explain himself. His hands move to cup each side of my face and as we stare into each other’s eyes, all that’s reflected back at me is guilt and pain.

“I didn’t know what else to do,” he finally admits. “Everything he’s done, he’s pulled off unimpeded. I can’t even predict his plans and if I don’t know who or what he’s targeting next, I can’t guarantee it won’t be you. Hell, it was you. Hyde was in your dressing room, Ana, and people here died today. Can you even comprehend what it would have done to me if the voicemails I had in my phone when I landed this morning had said he’d actually gotten to you? That it was you in the hospital clinging to life? Or worse, that you were dead too? That’s all I’ve thought about all day!” He swallows the lump in his throat. “I can’t lose you like that, Ana. If he was trying to hurt me by going after the people I love, then I thought I had to take you out of that equation.”

“But he’s not just after you. I’m the one who pulled Mia out of Elena’s hands and I’m the one who put her in a car and drove her away. I made Mia tell you about the club, so I’m the reason it was shut down. If he’s seeking revenge because of what he’s lost, then it’s not just you he’s after. I’m just as culpable as you are.”

“We know that now, but this morning…” He pauses again, and by the look on his face I surmise that it’s to stop himself from going down the same dark train of thought he’s been stuck on all day. When he looks into my eyes again, there’s a new sense of determination. “All I wanted to do was protect you. I need you, baby. Please understand that.”

“I do understand that. Because I need you too.” He stares into my eyes for a long time, his gaze pleading, but I’m not sure what for. Forgiveness, maybe? Understanding? I can’t read him, so to cement the sentiment of my words hanging between us, I stand up on my tiptoes and press my lips to his.

“You said you would never leave me,” I whisper into his mouth. “Last year, after the trial, you said I’m never going to leave you. You don’t get to take that promise back, Christian.”

“I won’t. I’m sorry, Ana.”

“I need you to say it again. I need to hear you say you’re not going to leave.”

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m never going to leave you, Ana.”

“Good.” I take a deep, calming breath, and once again stare purposefully into his eyes. “I vowed to you on our wedding day that I would remain by your side and that I walk with you wherever our journey leads us. I vowed for better or for worse, and I meant those words, Christian. I would rather walk through hell with my hand in yours than spend an eternity in heaven without you.”

He stands there for a long moment, saying nothing, until eventually his arms wrap around me and he pulls me into a tight embrace. “I don’t deserve you.”

“Yes. You do. We’re meant to be, Christian Grey. You and me.” My hand moves to the back of his head and I once again pull his lips down to mine. The contact between us is soft at first, needy, but as we wrap ourselves more securely around each other, his ardor increases and the kiss morphs into something more fierce and passionate. His hands move back to my hair, unfurling the tie that holds it in a messy knot on top of my head before he discards the band carelessly on the floor. We break away for an instant, looking desperately at one another, until he sweeps me into his arms and carries me to the bed.

I gasp when I fall on the mattress, but the sound is short lived as he covers my body with his and kisses me again. My fingers move up and begin undoing the buttons of his shirt one by one until it’s open enough that I can slip my arms inside and feel his warm skin against mine. He hums a low sound of content at my touch, then reaches down to pull my blouse over my head.

“Ana,” he groans, then moves his lips down my body, between my breasts.

“Love me, Christian.”

His lips softly caress the swoop of my breast before he uses his tongue to trace a path up to my nipple. I’ve only just recently stopped breastfeeding so for the first time since Calliope’s birth, he truly is able to tease and torment my nipples the way that drives me crazy. Licking, sucking, biting. When he nips me, I cry out with a befuddled mix of pain and pleasure that heightens my growing arousal. After a long, arduous day like today, this is what I need from him. To lose myself in our gentle love peppered with his barbaric desire. The intensity of his passion burns away everything until nothing else matters. Only this. Only us.

I groan and fist my hands in his hair, pulling him back up to my lips. The kiss is wild and feverish, and while he claims dominion over me with his tongue, I reach down to undo his fly and then use a combination of my hands, legs, and finally feet to divest him of his pants. Once he’s naked, my hips buck up against his erection, yearning for him to fill the emptiness inside of me that is the result of everything I’ve lost today.

“Christ, Ana.” His words come out in a breath, but are full of the longing that is no doubt a reaction to my own fervor. His lips part from mine and move down to the curve of my neck, where he nuzzles me and covers my skin in soft, sweet kisses, while his hand moves down between my legs.

“Already so wet…” He sweeps his index finger back and forth across my clitoris a few times before he delves inside of me in one slick motion. Instantly, I clench around him and push against his hand. He moves his fingers in and out of me, in time with the rhythm of his tongue and his lips on my neck until I start to build and his hand is drenched with my arousal.

“Oh, fuck. Christian!”

“Taste,” he whispers. His fingers disappear from between my legs and move into my mouth. I suck hungrily, keeping my eyes fixed on his while he stares down at me with unbridled lust and wonder. After my tongue has removed most of my essence from his fingers, he pulls his hand away and immediately attacks my mouth with his again. His tongue is forceful as it moves with mine, seeking out every trace of my arousal that still lingers there.

“Delicious. You are so sweet, Ana.”

“Baby, please…” I beg.  

He sits up on his knees and places my leg over his right shoulder, lifting me even with his erection, but he doesn’t take me right away. Instead, he kisses my ankle and moves his hand tenderly up my calf towards my thigh. After sweeping the pad of his thumb lightly over my aching clitoris again, he moves my other leg over his left shoulder, then repeats the motion.

“Ready?”

“Yes. Please.”

He reaches down and guides his erection between my legs then grips tightly to my hips as he thrusts inside of me. As the euphoric feeling of the fullness takes hold my body, my legs curl around his shoulders, pulling me further into him, and he lets out a deeply gratified moan.

He sets a relentless pounding rhythm that is kept in time with our increasingly harsh and desperate breaths. I have to reach up and hold the headboard to keep it from slamming into the shared wall between ours and Kate’s and Elliot’s room, but when he grabs ahold of my left leg and pulls it over his head, holding my legs together over one shoulder while he continues to move in and out of me, tightening me so I can feel every inch of him, I give up. I don’t care if Kate and Elliot hear us, I don’t care about anything. Only him.

“Christian!” While my screams of pleasure reverberate around us, he lets my legs slide off his shoulder and then twists the lower half of my body to the side so that my legs are still together on the bed while my back remains pressed into the mattress. I reach out for him, pulling him down over the top of me so I can taste his sweet mouth again and as he pounds on and on, we’re reduced to nothing but hands and tongues and touch and overpowering, mind blowing sensation.

“Come for me, baby,” he whispers against my lips. I gasp and tilt my head back, prepared to scream his name again into the charged air around us once my orgasm finally takes hold of my body, but he reaches up and grabs my chin to stop me. “Look at me.”

I do. Our eyes lock and the pure and uninhibited want in his gaze, want for me, is enough to send me tumbling into the warm, dark depths of blissful release. I start to keen loudly as my orgasm overpowers me, but he absorbs the sound into his mouth, taking my screams for himself. With a loud, final grunt, he pushes as deep inside of me as he can reach and finds his own release, which, like mine, seems to go on forever. The feel of him, pushing me into the bed as we lose ourselves completely in one another, as he fills me, as his tongue entwines with mine… it’s perfect. We’re perfect, as long as we’re together.

The final waves of my orgasm come to an end and my entire body melts into the bed as Christian slowly rocks his hips back and forth, holding himself inside of me. I moan, and reach up to brush the locks of hair caught in the sweat on his brow away and stare up at his beautiful face.

“I love you so much.”

“I love you too.” He shifts so that I can wrap my legs around his body as he once again lays over the top of me, resting his weight on his forearms, then leans down to kiss the sensitive skin on my neck. With him so close, his scent surrounds me and I’m instantly inebriated. I don’t want him to ever move. I want to lay with him like this forever, stuck in this one perfect moment.

A pleasant, well satisfied moan breaks through my lips and his hands move lazily down my sides so he can explore my body. But soon, the gentle brush of his fingertips starts to tickle and it sends me into a fit of giggles. A breathtaking, genuine smile crosses his face and his fingers become more purposeful and insistent against my body. I try to struggle away from him but his hands clamp down around my sides and he continues to tickle me with just the pressure of his fingers.

“Oh my god, Christian! Stop!” I laugh, but he doesn’t. He just beams down at me until we hear a loud banging against the wall, presumably from Elliot, who I assume has officially heard enough from us.

I have to catch my breath as he finally rolls off of me, but as he settles down on the bed at my side, he turns and stares back at me with warmth and love radiating from his eyes. Despite how terrible these last 24 hours have been, in this moment, I’m actually able to feel something wonderful.

“You’re so beautiful,” he tells me. I smile in response.  

“Mmm. You’re not so bad yourself.” He leans in to kiss me again, but our tongues have only just touched when there’s an insistent vibration of his phone from the pocket of his pants, laying haphazardly at the bottom of the bed. He lets out a huff and then rolls over the top of me again, straddling me as he pulls out his phone and checks the notification.

“Work?” I check.

“No, it’s Luke. He’s running an algorithm to get through the security on Gresham’s system but he wants to know if he should try to find someone who can work security detail for your dad in Montesano.”

“Oh…” Just like that, our bubble is popped and the real world seeps back in. “Actually, I was thinking about asking him to come live with us in Escala for a while, if that’s okay. Just until we’ve resolved this issue with Gresham. I don’t really want him so far away, you know, after my mom…”

“Of course it’s okay,” Christian says. “I’ll call Kommer and have him prepare one of the guest rooms and to give him more space, just in case he wants to bring some of his own things to feel more at home.”

“Kommer?” I repeat, and for first time since I landed in Georgia, I realize that he’s been absent. “You left Kommer in Seattle?”

Christian nods absentmindedly. “He doesn’t live at Escala the way Taylor or Sawyer does. Ryan’s call came very suddenly and in the middle the night. I’d relieved Kommer hours before and I didn’t have time to track him down before I left for the airport. It worked out after I found out my parent’s house had been broken into because it reminded me that there’s other people in Seattle that are vulnerable right now. Ros and Gwen are staying in our apartment until we return and Kommer is with them and Gail. I’m going to have to find a way to make another security shift to ensure there’s someone with them at all times.”

“He made threats against Ros?”

“No, but he goes after people I care about. Ros is not only my best friend but she’s an integral to my company. I need her, and so I need to ensure she’s well protected until we resolve this issue once and for all.”

“Oh,” I reply, and then frown as he starts responding to Luke’s email. “Christian?”

“Hm?”

“Are you sure this was about targeting people you love?”

“You, my family, your mother… seems the most likely.”

“Elena?”

He frowns. “No. That had to be because he never got the book she wrote. People who don’t give him what he wants end up dead.”

“So, why didn’t he go after Hyde? Why did Hyde get a second chance and she got a fake prison riot? Why did Isaac?”

“Because…” he stops, unable to answer.

“I don’t think this was about going after you this time. I think this might have about tying up loose ends. The shooter from the car didn’t target my mom or your team, they mowed down everyone, indiscriminately. And from what we can tell, that wasn’t a reaction to Taylor showing up. It had all been planned. Carter said he never heard an exit strategy, it looks like that’s because there wasn’t one. There wasn’t ever supposed to be one. He wanted Isaac and my mother, maybe even Carter, and he got them all at once. Or he thought he did. Taylor and Ryan were just a bonus. Then he went after Elena, and he probably went to your parents’ house to get to Mia.”

“Maybe, but that still doesn’t answer your original point. What about Hyde?”

“Well… it wasn’t a very well thought out plan and we know that isn’t this guy’s modus operandi. I mean, even while he was on top of me holding a knife I was wondering how he planned to get out of that room. There was only one exit and Luke was standing outside the door.”

“So Hyde is incompetent, that doesn’t answer the question.”

“It might though. Leila told me right after she saved me that he, well Gresham, would know how difficult it would be to get to me once he’d showed his hand. If he really wanted me, he wouldn’t have sent someone who would bumble their way through it. I think he knew that Luke would stop Hyde, probably kill him, which mean that he wouldn’t have to. That or he’d succeed and bring me straight to him. Even now, in the worst case scenario where Hyde is alive and we’ve got him in custody, he doesn’t know enough to reveal who he is and they’re probably going to put him in prison. Just like they did Elena and we know happened to her. It’s all a win/win for him.”

He looks down at me for a long beat, examining me carefully, then gets out of the bed and starts to pace the room.

“So, if he’s getting rid of of all of his people…”

“Then we’re coming to the end. It’s all about to come to a head.”

“Because he hasn’t gotten what he really wants yet.” Christian starts nodding, as though all of this is starting to make sense. “He’s going to make a final move and he’s going to come after us. Hard. With everything he has left. He’s wants to end this too, just in his way.”

“We have to stop him, Christian. And we have to move fast.”

“We will. Once we settle your mom’s affairs, we’ll go home and we’ll take care of this once and for all. He can’t hide from us anymore.”

I nod, feeling reassured that we at least seem to be fighting on equal ground now, but as Christian walks towards me again, his phone rings in his hand.

“Harrison?” he answers. I wait while he listens to whatever Kate’s CPO is saying to him, trying to gauge the news by his face. He gives nothing away though, and when he hangs up the phone, his salutation is blunt. “We’ll be there soon.”

“Taylor?” I ask.

“He’s awake,” Christian says. “They took him off the vent and he’s breathing fine. The doctor says he’ll need a few more days of recovery, but the worst is over. He’s going to be okay.”

“Thank god.” All of the air in my body seems to leave my body in one long breath, taking with it the heavy weight of the fear I’ve held in my heart for Christian’s most trusted right hand man. “Thank god.”

Next Chapter

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78 thoughts on “Chapter 45

    1. AMEN. You say concisely what it has taken me how many paragraphs to say? There just HAS to be more to it than this. Gresham has this entitlement thing and feels he should have WHATEVER he wants that that rules don’t apply to him. YET he says these SAME things about Christian? While being a very rich man HIMSELF by being a “taker?”

      I guess we just have to wait and see to find out what is going through Gresham’s mind. I mean, he had gotten away with EVERYTHING previously, and Mia would have undoubtedly had a hard time proving Gresham was her attacker even if she HAD come forward. Gresham did the absolute WORST crimes possible to cover up something. And, quite frankly, if he HAD just wanted to cover up the attack, Mia made it easy enough to come after her with all her reckless and foolish behavior AND the fact that Grace and Carrick did little enough to check up on her, even AFTER everything that happened in ASSOF. I mean, Grace is a DOCTOR, and she didn’t get Mia into some extensive therapy? She didn’t have more boundaries and means of following up on Mia AND her associates?

      Sigh. SURELY there is more. I guess we just have to wait and see.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Things just don’t add up……coz I don’t think he was on a rampant to kill people just so he could be saved from a potential case against him by creating even more crimes

        And considering he is an employee u der Christian then how come he has such a strong hold on d police and that too more than that of Christian!!

        Like

      2. annu43,

        Yes, that is the OTHER thing that bothers me—just how would a guy like this have so much power with the police AND prison system? (I mean, would the average STRANGER just take a call from an unknown man asking if you want to help him go after some other rich guy? It doesn’t make sense.)

        At this point, we need the BACKSTORY. After all, we KNOW that Elena FEARED this guy enough to offer Mia $8,000 a month JUST to submit to him. With ELENA, however, she was ALWAYS interested in a back-up plan, and this guy clearly knew how to set up shell companies to hide wealth.

        PLUS, I figure this guy MUST have convinced OR tricked Elena or Isaac into giving him BLACKMAIL material from the club. After all, police officers might have paid to use the club, and EVEN when such a club is LEGAL (which is definitely was NOT in this case), a police officer will often be FIRED for engaging in such seemingly “immoral” behavior. (For example: here in the South, a police officer was fired when it was revealed that he conducted “key parties” or swinging parties in the community where he was a police officer, since he was married and committing adultery. Even though these parties happened when he was off duty and with the willing consent of his wife.)

        But just WHY did Elena FEAR this guy so much, even when she ran the club? There MUST be more than we know. I mean, OVERALL, Gresham has so far had only a few random thugs. He doesn’t seem to have powerful people in his pocket, and losing Christian’s business would have SURELY hurt his reputation and bottom line. So WHY was everyone willing to risk SO MUCH to help this guy? ESPECIALLY when the dead bodies began to pile up, which APPARENTLY this guy was bragging about, because HOW ELSE WOULD ANYONE KNOW?

        So there DEFINITELY is more than we know now. Leila and Elena and others indicated there were way more bodies. But then WHY help this guy, once you know this?

        I keep going around in circles as to HOW this guy had so much power. But then how did Harvey Weinstein have so much power that now-famous actresses were all afraid to come forward until now? So there ARE men like this that seemly control things from behind the scenes.

        But this guy used intimidation, basic extortion, blackmail AND MURDER to hide what would have been, most likely, a charge of assault against a female. Since Mia was able to get away from the guy, and he seemingly did NOT pursue her (I mean, only Elena was outside of the club with Mia when Ana got there). So the things he now IS guilty of are SO MUCH MORE than what he MIGHT have been charged with.

        And it all STILL doesn’t explain Gresham’s hold over the police. AFTER ALL, the police had enough WORRY over Christian’s clout that they did NOT charge MIA for drug use when it was OBVIOUS that she had been doing the SAME things that the other kids had been doing at that party. So IF the police seemingly answered to Christian before, WHY would they fail to do ANYTHING to protect the Grey family over GRESHAM?

        So right now, the HOLES that need filling are extensive, BUT the backstory will obviously have to cover that. Because it IS clear that MANY feared Gresham, with good reason.

        (AND those pictures that were sent to Mia now hold more weight, since Gresham obviously didn’t take them himself. So either GIA did it, or SOMEONE found it relatively easy to go around the Grey mansion and take photos AND not be seen. So it DOES sound like a security system or guard was COMPROMISED. But again, HOW did Gresham get info on ALL these people?)

        The REASON that I didn’t like Gresham for this was that he would almost HAVE to be completely dependent on ELENA for everything. Which makes you wonder WHY on earth Elena would help a guy she feared, even though she wanted revenge. She basically handed her OWN fate into the hands of someone far less trustworthy than herself, and Elena has shown a STOIC DEVOTION to remaining independent AND doing the using—NOT being used herself! So again, BACKSTORY NEEDED.)

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      3. Also, what did he had to offer Gia who got involved specially with Elliot and ended up dying…it looked like she was always aware of who his true identity

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  1. I still feel angry at mia . Ana is great for being the bigger person and totally forgetting all she had to go through when it all could be avoided to some extent.
    I kind of feel that ana should have felt a little angry on loosing her mother but here she didn’t even give a normal reaction of grief. Maybe the shock hasn’t worn off yet but her mother died and that to unexpectedly. The grief she had for her mother was just a little more than she had for ryan.

    What i really don’t get is what this gresham’s ultimate reason could be for wanting revenge.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. AGREED. Especially as to Gresham’s ultimate reason for wanting revenge.

      In Gresham’s mind, all his petty reasons for hating Christian apparently mounted up. He RESENTED that Christian NEVER went down for all the major crimes he committed AND got the woman he loved, the seemingly perfect family, etc. AND forgiveness for all his sins.

      But Gresham seems particularly caught up in Christian being rich and getting that way by buying and selling companies, etc. To him, Christian never created anything, just took advantage of others that failed to protect their companies.

      But HOW MUCH MORE of a “taker” can you be then a financier? It was the banking industry with its speculators and people like GRESHAM that caused the ecomony to go under multiple times. And Gresham is clearly rich enough to be able to invest rich people’s money. So his ANGER at Christian is hollow at best, since he is the VERY thing that he supposedly hates the most!

      SO Gresham is mad OVER A CLUB SHUTTING DOWN??? A club that he could have re-opened on his own, ESPECIALLY given the hold he had over Elena and Isaac. Isaac was still on the outside and could have easily enough begun anew, given what Gresham knew about setting up shell companies and money laundering.

      And Gresham WAS protected, since Mia originally did NOT know his name. And quite frankly, given that Gresham did NOT mind murdering people that knew about him, it would have been FAR easier to just murder Mia and make it look like an ACCIDENT. In fact, GIVEN MIA’S BEHAVIOR, it would have been SIMPLE. Instead, he waits until Mia is safely at home in a BIG mansion behind security WITH other witnesses to try to get to her? What sense is that?

      Ana really IS the better person in this. Christian is SO LUCKY, quite frankly. Ana is LOYAL to a fault, even knowing that the people she is with may not be worth that level of devotion that she gives. But Ana does the moral thing in FORGIVING those that she knows did not want or mean to give harm.

      Mia’s REPEATED short-sightedness NEVER makes Ana forget that she is FAMILY. Ana LEARNS from her own mistakes. She didn’t read Carla’s letters or forgive her before she died, and Ana REGRETS that. Ana doesn’t want to LOSE TIME with those she LOVES by condeming them for their past bad acts. She just wants to clean the slate and move forward WITH THEM, appreciating the good within them. AND THAT takes character to be able to see past the PAIN.

      In some ways, NO WONDER Gresham seemingly hates Ana so, a woman he doesn’t even KNOW. He retaliates against ANYONE that doesn’t give him his way and what he wants. ANA is someone that forgives those that trespass against her, as the Bible verse goes, in order to focus on the POSITIVE, which is love and family. So kudos to Ana, it WILL keep her from drowning in bitterness in the end. AND it is something that we have LOVED in her since the beginning, since it was HER that forgave Christian first. AND made him the better person for it, in getting CHRISTIAN to move forward against the resentments from his past. And the Grey family is MUCH CLOSER for that.

      So ANA is what holds the Grey family together. And since the Grey family lacks so much in parenting skills, they should all PARTICULARLY be glad to have Ana around to parent Calliope. Because as this country is currently feeling, it is awfully hard to raise a rich privileged child without their developing a sense of entitlement AND a failure to understand how everyone ELSE might live and feel. Ana chooses to love DESPITE the faults of the others around her. AND she LEARNS FROM HER MISTAKES, which is CLEARLY more than Grace or Carrick have yet to do!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I accept that Mia is still a child but she has to own up nd repay on her mistakes

      Multiple people have died bcoz she was under some illusion and she deserves to face some consequences

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      1. Quite frankly, had CHRISTIAN not committed PERJURY and taken a BRIBE, then NONE of this would have happened. Christian built his company on a lie and on money that was not his to take. AND then he chose to bring Elena BACK into his life, all because HE was LONELY over his family and Ana objecting to his life decisions.

        And Elena then uses Christian to front her illegal business. AND Christian NEVER had to be held accountable for what he did. I think we let him take a PASS because he was so wrapped up in the abuse that he never saw Elena for WHO she truly was until TOO LATE. He LISTENED to her and let her talk him into thinking wrong WAS right, when it clearly was not.

        If Elena had been in jail where she belonged, she couldn’t have gotten Mia to work for her club. YES, Mia ALSO made bad decisions, but Christian made REPEATED crimes AS AN ADULT for which he NEVER paid. So he is arguably paying NOW, just not legally.

        But like you, Mia CHOSE to work at Elena’s club and deceive her parents, ALL for money. AND she apparently knew all along that the club was illegal, she just didn’t know that CHRISTIAN was the one being used to launder the money.

        I don’t get why Mia didn’t just go to Christian or Taylor. ESPECIALLY ONCE SHE KNEW ABOUT GIA. I mean, she HAD to know that her brother was STILL living with that girl, meaning Gia could have simply left ELLIOT’s door open so that Gresham could have gotten Elliot. To me, it makes no sense, since the guy couldn’t see Mia 24/7, WHY she didn’t realize what she could potentially LOSE if she kept silent. AND MIA STUPIDLY CONFIDED in the absolute WORST possible person about her attacker, KNOWING that Gresham USED THIS particular girl.

        So yeah, both Christian and Mia are arguably responsible for setting forth a horrible chain of events that got people killed and held at the mercy of a CRAZY-like-a-fox guy. And YES, they have to LIVE with it. AND WHEN THINGS GOT HARD, both Christian and MIa did the WRONG things, given that CHristian was clearly planning to LEAVE Ana, when that would NOT have ended things.

        SO I rather feel disgusted at both Christian and Mia. ANd YES, I arguably think they SHOULD pay for their crimes. But how? I really don’t want to see Calliope without a father and GEH dismantled, with so many people losing their jobs for a company that does legitimate good. And ELENA SHOULD have paid restitution for her abuse, which is how I could continue reading the story and accept Christian. PLUS, we saw CHristian suffer so much over being deserted by family and Ana due to his crimes.

        AND when Christian found out about the club and had it shut down, he DID try to help all the girls at the club find jobs or get education. So he TRIED to do right by the people harmed. Only to sadly have it come back on him once again by the more CRIMINAL elements that were attracted to Elena and the club, such as Elena and that “friend” of Mia’s.

        But NOW, the crimes have MULTIPLIED because of who later attached themselves to Elena and the club. So both Mia AND CHristian now have to LIVE with the knowledge of what they allowed to be created and to operate, which resulted in the ruin and destruction of SO MANY lives. BUT GRESHAM is ultimately RESPONSIBLE for the evil he chose to do.

        AND Mia and Christian are suffering as well. So they DO have some consequences.

        BUT LIKE YOU, my anger with Mia goes FARTHER, since she put her friend, Tabitha, at risk through her previous illegal and thoughtless behavior. It was like MIA chose to deal with her pain by doing OTHER crimes and putting STILL OTHER people, including herself, at MUCH more risk. So Mia DOES just seem like a spoiled brat with NO sense.

        I certainly DO NOT think that Mia deserves to have Juilliard just handed to her now. BUT depending on how the Final Battle comes out, Mia could end up injured and unable to dance anyway. But she needs to learn not to take teh EASY way out. She NEEDS to do the work for Juilliard, including waiting tables and having a LEGITIMATE job, AND since she can only make BAD DECISIONS when with her peers, then she does NOT need to have time on her hands to spend wtih them.

        (I rather thought this chapter would make me feel BETTER about Mia, not WORSE. There just isn’t a rationale for WHY she chose to remain silent, especially after Ana’s attack. She knew WAY before then of the danger, YET she didn’t want to come to CHristian because she was AFRAID he would HATE HER? So she FURTHER RISKS Ana AND Calliope’s LIVES because SHE DOESN’T WANT TO LOOK BAD??? AND doesn’t want to have to deal with teh CONSEQUENCES of her actions? Yep, STILL madder than mad at Mia, PARTICULARLY after this chapter.)

        And THAT is what is so sad—you almost come out MADDER at MIA and Christian in this chapter than Gresham! And GRESHAM has done MULTIPLE CRIMES on purpose, with NO REDEMPTIVE qualities to his crimes AT ALL! So ANA is right that we NEED to focus on the REAL bad guy here!

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      2. I mean, yeah. A lot of people have made mistakes, probably no one as severe as Christian or Mia, but everyone. If you argue that none of this would have happened if Christian hadn’t protected Elena, then you could also argue this is all Carrick’s fault because if he would have listened to Christian about how much he really didn’t want to go to school and would have allowed him to use his trust fund to start his company instead of forcing him to fulfill his need to have a legacy at Harvard, Elena would have never had any leverage over Christian that she could have used to have him make that deal.

        I basically wrote an entire book to work through why Christian made the choices he made, so I don’t want to talk too much about it, but even though no one denies it was a bad choice and that he did something really despicable when he lied for her, do you really believe he hasn’t faced consequences for that choice? Do you think they were all deserved? Do you think the weakness he displayed through that lie, and the decision he made that day, under the circumstances he made it, justify the pain he’s suffered as a result? Is he really culpable for what happened because he accepted different recompense from Elena for what she had done to him rather than send her to prison?

        Mia I feel a lot of ways about. I don’t think people give enough thought about how Christian’s actions affected her, specifically in terms of what she lost. Elliot never lost Christian because was an adult when Christian did what he did, so his relationship made it through those two years relatively unscathed. Mia wasn’t and adult, so she was kept away from Christian by her parents, shielded enough from her brother that she actually believed he didn’t care about her or didn’t try to have any relationship with her after he started GEH. Christian had been her favorite person in the world and he seemingly abandoned her. On top of that, her entire family (who had previously been close) was completely fractured and estranged, her father shifted his overbearing need for a legacy onto her and completely ignored what she wanted for her life, which probably was another devastation. I think Mia has felt helpless for a long time and that’s what caused her to turn to Elena. But, like Christian, the control she thought she had through the support Elena offered her was a farce. She was even more helpless with Elena, because while her family started to heal, she was still alienated because she believed she contractually couldn’t tell them about what was going on. A lot of Mia’s problems come from getting in over her head and not understanding what her options are or that people are using her and lying to her. She’s only 17, 16 when she worked for Elena, and teenagers make dumb choices. I also think a lot of her decision to work with Elena came from anger, and as she reconnected to Christian, a lot of that anger was replaced with guilt. That guilt was then magnified by what follows and then you add fear. Fear makes people do illogical things. Stupid things. And she was being intimidated and purposefully terrified. Should she have spoken up? Yes. No one denies that. But she didn’t. So now, what? I don’t believe she did anything maliciously. I think once again she was in over her head and she didn’t reach out to the people who could have helped her, probably a consequence of the helplessness she’s felt over and over again. I just think there’s a balance between blame and consequence and understanding and moving forward. Should her future be part of her recompense for the mistakes she’s made? Should Christian’s? Or is this a situation where you have to accept people’s failures and realize that no matter what lie was told, or how horrible it was that Mia kept silent, none of that justifies the crimes that have been committed and at the end of the day, the person at fault is the person who pulled the trigger? Or at least the person who ordered the trigger to be pulled.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. Tara,

        That DOES actually help me feel a little better about Mia. After all, as the AUTHOR of the story, you have a few more details and have to get in the characters’ heads. I would say that WE don’t have all the same details prior to your comment.

        Your comment makes it clear that Carrick DID place a lot more pressure on Mia than we were previously aware. Yes, I agree that Mia talked to Ana about being “the perfect Grey kid,” but since Mia was seemingly being overdramatic at the time, I didn’t realize how much ACTUAL pressure Carrick was putting on Mia. OR that Mia actually DID NOT know that Christian wasn’t allowed to see her. We never got to see what it was actually like in the Grey household during those 2 years other than the one Outtake from Carrick’s point of view. So we NEVER knew what Mia was ACTUALLY told about her brother and his actions.

        I realize now that I was meant to get MORE out of some of those conversations from ABSOF than I did. And yeah, I DID realize thta Carrick was making the same mistakes all over again. BUT rich kids are NOT ENTITLED to money. Neither Christian NOR Mia was entitled to money for their exact dreams. They could have done what the REST OF US have had to do and work LEGALLY and morally towards their dreams. You can’t get around the fact that BOTH Christian and Mia chose ILLEGAL BAD ACTS to get them money. I always DID think that Ana was right when she basically pointed out that Christian effectively prostituted himself out for money. And it was money that HE WOULD HAVE GOTTEN ANYWAY had he just finished college. (A college degree is NOT an unreasonable OR illegal demand to make of a kid before handing them a boatload of money.)

        Again, I just thought Mia was being over dramatic rather than realizing there was “real” pressure. (Is it too late to get OUTTAKES from Mia’s point of view from the time prior to the family reuniting?)

        So with your comment, I see where I was originally supposed to look and see that Mia is not just being a spoiled, selfish girl. I still have a hard time seeing WHY she would just blindly trust Elena after everything the family had been through. Again, though, she was a teenager. Willing to do almost ANYTHING for money, EXCEPT what wuold have LEGALLY got her that money in the first place!

        STILL, even if you DO believe that chidlren should be blindly entitled to money no matter WHAT they do and WITHOUT conditions, we don’t just let kids do whatever they want without legal consequences, whether deserved or not.

        Please understand that I AM actually sympathetic to Christian AND even Mia for everything they have gone through. And YES, they have suffered so much. AND they are overall good people that want to help others. So I have felt very badly for both and WANTED Christian to get back with Ana. AND to keep GEH, since he made it big ON HIS OWN and USING HIS talents.

        The point that I was trying to make is that neither Christian OR Mia ever faced LEGAL consequences, which is an entirely different thing than regular consequences. In our country, the symbol for the court system if a blind woman. AND it symbolizes that Justice IS blind, and the law gets applied blindly to everyone. At the sentencing phase, particularly, things like motive and intention come into play which can mitigate a sentence.

        MY comment goes to the fact that technically, neither Mia or Christian suffered CRIMINAL consequences/repercussions for their knowingly committing CRIMINAL acts.

        Being a lawyer myself, you often DO see some people punished by the legal system that have, like Christian and Mia, suffered enough without the additional consequences of the legal system being added. THAT is why the legal system is supposedly blind—it doesn’t take into account WHY Christian did what he did. OR that he, at the time, saw the money as being “payback” for what had happened to his family. AND he was under Elena’s influence to think her reasoning was okay. BUT WHAT ABOUT Andrew, who WAS harmed by Christian’s lies? An injustice was done here. BUT IT WOULD NOT JUSTIFY ANdrew taking illegal acts to harm Christian later. AND if Andrew Lincoln is somehow involved NOW, just having a criminal act done to him does NOT justify his taking illegal actions himself.

        (I mean, Gresham and others have KNOWINGLY engaged in CRIMINAL acts MEANT to harm others. And THAT is the difference between them and Christian and Mia—neither one of them set out to knowingly harm anyone. Each just thought s/he was doing what would ensure their future. THEY never intended for victims to be left in their wake.)

        At this point, for Christian to be criminally prosecuted, then GEH could end up dismantled, and people would lose their jobs. And we certainly do NOT want to see that. Neither do I want to see Calliope being denied a father so that Christian could go sit in prison. NO ONE WINS that way. And Christian IS sorry for the harm and sorrow he brought to his family and Ana. He NEVER wanted that part of it.

        My point is that Christian has to LIVE with knowing that he helped create his OWN enemy. AND that it all stemmed from real, CRIMINAL acts, that he, himself, started. Even though he NEVER intended for anything like this. BECAUSE Christian IS a decent person, he WILL feel his share of the blame, ALTHOUGH Gresham and others made their OWN choices to KNOWINGLY take it upon themselves to play judge and jury of Christian.

        FInal point. While I DO feel sympathetic for Christian, since he WAS right about being ready to start his company without college, BUT he was NEVER ENTITLED to that trust money. His parents had the RIGHT to impose conditions on when he would receive his inheritance, if ever. AND just going to college and waiting 3 more years would have ENSURED that Christian received the money. SO HE DID NOT HAVE TO RESORT TO ILLEGAL MEANS to get the money. He had CHOICES. And he chose NOT just the WRONG choice, but the ILLEGAL choice.

        So I can feel sorry for Christian. AND Christian tried whatever he could do to make up for the wrongdoings that he did. But Christian KNOWINGLY made people suffer that didn’t have to suffer. And he KNOWINGLY protected a bad person. AS did Mia. So BOTH have to feel the WEIGHT OF THEIR DECISIONS, even though they are, at heart, good people.

        And what I have enjoyed MOST about this story is SEEING the psychological, legal AND moral IMPACTS to the characters for the choices they made. AND seeing how they SURVIVE through that pressure. Elena ALMOST SUCCEEDED, scarily, in creating the Christian that she wanted. He was literally on the brink, when Ana helped him come to his senses. We saw how OTHERS and FAMILY can both HELP and HINDER a person.

        So the story has been fascinating for making you FEEL for ALL of teh characters, at one point or another, as you seen what they have gone through to BECOME who they are now. I even think it is as good as something like THE GODFATHER movies where you see how a GOOD person can literally make FAMILY-oriented decisions that ultimately lead a person to COMPLETELY become evil (such as Elena). I mean, Tara, you even made me feel BAD for Elena’s past, and how she BECAME the VERY evil thing that had hurt herself and her sisters in teh past.

        AND you made me LOVE your version of Christian, DESPITE the things he has done, because he ultimately DID see that FURTHER WRONG acts piled on bad decisions did NOT make a right. I LOVED CHristian the MOST in your works when he decided to take Elena down DESPITE what it might do to him and GEH. He was willing to go to prison, if necessary, to get Mia JUSTICE and to see Elena PUNISHED for the harm she had done to so many, including himself. AND HE CHOSE to do it the LEGAL way, without resorting to violence, as Elliot would have done.

        So Christian has risen above it all. And quite frankly, he suffered enough, in my opinion, without deserving any further legal actions against him.

        I STILL can’t help but see Mia as an overprivileged princess. BUT your comments have gone a long way into making me see things through her eyes, ESPECIALLY given that she IS still a child, and a teenager at that. And it is the extremely RARE teenager thta can think things through. AND the pressure on Mia WAS greater, in some ways, than Christian, as CHRISTIAN could have always made his company a success. BUT for a DANCER, they are generally washed up as 20-something year olds. But HARVARD could have helped Mia, same as Juilliard. AND Harvard might have given her business courses that would allow her to CONTINUE to dance and mold other dancers by havign her own studio after her own career ended. AND there are scholarships for Juilliard as well, especially if Mia HAD been cut off from her parents for choosing Juilliard. I mean, Juilliard is KNOWN for wanting THE BEST, whether they can pay or not. (I mean, when there were two acting slots available back in the day, they chose Christopher Reeve AND Robin Williams. And Robin didn’t even STAY for all that long! That just SHOWS you the talent they invest in. So if Mia had the talent, they would have taken her!)

        So at the end of the day, I, too, think Christian and Mia have suffered enough. AND need to move forward as a FAMILY. AND BOTH of them have acknowledged their wrongdoing. AND no longer justify their bad decisions. And I love them both for that. BUT that will also make them FEEL for the consequences to OTHERS as a result of their original actions that DREW THE ATTENTION of Gresham and others in the first place. Because they ARE good people. (So Carrick and Grace DID do some good parenting, even though failing in other ways!)

        But yeah, I probably need to find that Outtake thread and ADD some MIA REQUESTS so that I CAN see her rationale and what all was heaped on her at the time. Because the way she coped with her pain still doesn’t sit well with me. I mean, she was even jeopardizing the very thing she did all of this for in hte first place. But again, teenager. Nuff said.

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      4. Great comments. To be clear, I agree with you. I totally acknowledge that both Christian and Mia have made real mistakes. It’s actually the moral dilemma of what they have done and what they are facing that intrigues me about writing this story. I wasn’t attacking you or anything, I just couldn’t let that go unanswered because, you know, they’re my babies. Haha

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      5. As I said in a later post after re reading some of these comments, Christian was so entrenched in abuse and manipulation by Elena that if he hadn’t taken her money in exchange for his silence I feel something else would have given. This story took a turn when he accepted her bribe but I don’t believe for a second Elena wouldn’t of managed to manipulate herself back into Christian’s life if not by her own secrets she held from say pictures or other bribery material by exposing him at a later time, remember Elena was prepared to wait. But I do think we all forget what Christian went through as a baby, a teenager and a young man at the hands of Elena Lincoln.

        This however, doesn’t give Gresham or Mr C or whomever helped to get to where we are in this story to do the kinds of things this person had asked of them. Ultimately, every single person who tried to help Mr C is responsible for their own actions. Even Leila for example in the end realised that her own selfishness and hatred towards Ana was petty because she made the ultimate decision to help this guy who made her do things she knew were wrong while knowing he was capable of some viscous things.

        I agree with Tara’s post about fear and irrationality. This story is more than a simple who dunnit, it’s about relationships and what we do to get what we want even if we think it’s the right thing to do. For Christian it was his company and his struggles with feeling loved because of his past, to me Christian saw having his company as a sign of independence not just from his family but a way from moving from the poverty he experienced as a child, Elena power and control, Mia’s selfishness because she’s 16/17, Carrick and his legacy, Grace and her desperate need to be the perfect mother and so on……Everyone can point fingers and think if this didn’t happen then this wouldn’t of happened – but the we won
        Don’t have a great story!

        I think it is easy to judge and I am one of those people I wholeheartedly agree as a reader of a story but I think it’s easy to judge when you don’t walk in someone else’s shoes.

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  2. Expected and not expected at all. There are lots of questions, Gresham made moves that don’t make sense. Can’t wait for the final move… I think there are going to be some hurts.

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    1. Agreed. But it seemingly all gets explained away by saying he is insane. Which, quite frankly, does NOT hold. At least, not the LEGAL definition of insanity. I mean, Gresham knew what he was doing in PLANNING the murders and CHOOSING his accomplices. He KNEW it was wrong, as evidenced by his attempts to keep it all silent AND by telling multiple people that he would NOT do wrong to THEIR loved ones if they just cooperated with him.

      But so MANY things don’t make sense, like wanting Christian to “suffer.” I mean, WHY? He shut down A CLUB??? Gresham still had access to AT LEAST one of the regular girls he used, and it was certainly not just about being denied Mia. Sigh.

      But Gresham doesn’t have a REAL motive for revenge, quite frankly. So that bothers me. A lot. His obsession with Ana? His determination to separate her from Christian?

      In real life, you often DON’T get reasons for why some people commit crimes. Hopefully, Tara will give us answers, though. It just depends on who makes it through this thing alive. AND that would be another worry if Gresham DOES live through this.

      So this WAS expected, in that we all KNEW Mia got pale at that dinner table for a reason. AND it HAD to come back to the club and what Mia knew of it. AND the fact that her attacker was previously unidentified, yet NOW she knows his name.

      But some things, like Gresham’s access to all the photos, etc. that he had sent to Mia remains WORRISOME, since we don’t yet know all his associates. OR how he got so many to go along with him in the first place. AND if it was only “revenge,” then Gresham could have easily enough gotten to Mia, OBVIOUSLY, ESPECIALLY after all the stupid stuff she was doing, INCLUDING shaking off security! AND Mia was even putting her supposed friends at risk, by brining them along with her, KNOWING that she was being targeted for surveillance AND MAYBE MORE.

      But it explains WHY Gresham suddenly tried multiple attacks at once. But WHY even go after Carla? She didn’t know his identity. ADDING murders that didn’t have to happen makes no sense. WHY create MORE lose ends? Sigh. I NEED to stop thinking about this and just accept it. BUT I guess Gresham’s need for “revenge” just seems so disappointingly hollow.

      But Gresham HAS to know now that time is NOT on his side. He SHOULD just disappear, but he clearly is one of those type of people that doesn’t care HOW much it costs AS LONG AS HE WINS in the end. So he certainly won’t disappear or go down without a major fight. But Gresham is a real coward, in my opinion, for sending so many others to do his bidding, without lifting an actual finger himself. So we will have to see if he gets involved PERSONALLY in the Final Attack.

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  3. So, so, so good!!!!! Wow and when Ana went off on everyone that was the best and everyone needed to hear it and she was probably the only one that could of done and come away unscathed. Kommer’s got to be involved and I hope Ross will be ok. Maybe, now that Taylor’s iut of danger and awake he’ll remember seeing something before he was shot that will provide even more information. Thank you so much! Your the best!

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    1. Yeah, I think we ALL are now worried about Kommer. ESPECIALLY since Taylor has lived but may NOW see his love, Gail, in danger, since she is one of the people that Kommer is responsible for at Escala.

      But Taylor will be MOTIVATED to get the evidence needed to convict Gresham. After all, EVERYTHING right now comes from Mia, who would EASILY be discredited, due to knowing her attacker’s name for so long and not coming forward. HOPEFULLY, she has saved all the messages and notes left for her by Gresham.

      But they need hard EVIDENCE of Gresham’s involvement, which hopefully Taylor and Luke can get. AND while Mia has revealed GRESHAM’s involvement, she has no way of knowing his other remaining live associates. AND with Gresham wanting to tie up ALL lose ends, he keeps losing his own followers.

      But I LOVED that Ana said what we ALL had been thinking, quite frankly. I mean, Mia has for TOO LONG been allowed no real supervision. Yes, you want to trust your child, but she had ALREADY shown that she couldn’t handle freedom in the first place, given the whole “job” fiasco that led her right into Elena’s arms. Which, quite frankly, was UNFORGIVABLE still, since Mia KNEW what all Elena had done previously.

      So the MORALS that Carrick and Grace taught their children clearly seem circumspect, given the people ALL THREE of their children brought into their lives. So I heartily agreed with Ana’s words, especially when she basically ended wtih the fact that they ARE family and have to hold together, despite their being enough blame to go around. Because Ana by no means denied her OWN part in all of this. (Though I am admittedly FAR more willing to excuse Ana, given the sheer amount of things on her plate at one time AND how hard she worked to finish school.)

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  4. Well, if it wasn’t Andrew Lincoln, then I knew it all came down to that club of Elena’s. I figured that Mia would have befriended someone that worked at the club, and confided in that person. And Christian had told Ana previously that a few girls wanted no help from him.

    So Gresham has gone a long way to end everything. He has done FAR more than just cover for an attack, and he has murdered many people. And the attack on Carla was finally explained by him hiring people to mow down anyone that came out of Carla’s house.

    And Gresham’s desire to harm Ana is explained because it was ANA that saved Mia from the attack and got Christian to close the club. Elena had always feared Gresham back in the day, enough to off him Mia on a silver platter. Just WHY Elena would risk so much over a man she feared so much makes you wonder what Gresham had done EVEN THEN. Either Elena was prophetic OR Gresham had already done things but not gotten caught. After all, WHY did Elena fear him, even then?

    But Gresham also handles a bulk of Christian’s wealth. In fact, he most likely embezzled funds from Christian to use in going after the Grey family. AND it explains WHY Gresham targeted those people that he targeted.

    I admit that I am a little disappointed at Gresham’s motive. After all, he did all of this because of an underage girl that got away and a club that got closed. Had he allowed Elena to live, she would have gotten out of prison and undoubtedly re-opened the club, ESPECIALLY since Gresham knows all about money-laundering. So if it was all about the club, then Gresham had only to be patient.

    However, the unreasonableness of Gresham’s response is again explained by insanity. HOWEVER, while Gresham is seemingly insane to murder so many, I’d argue that he is NOT Legally Insane, meaning that he was smart enough to KNOW what he was doing and PLAN for the murders. AND he had to KNOW it was wrong to murder, since he went to so many lengths to silence Mia.

    AND we have an explanation for WHY Mia did NOT know his name. So while Mia said back in ASSOF about being given the clients’ names, she actually only got “code names.” Elena wasn’t stupid enough to give Mia ACTUAL names of the clients, but Mia DID see what each looked like and finally recognized Gresham from tv.

    I AM curious as to WHY Gia was targeted—Gia had never given any verbal indication, but the girl from the club told Mia that she “opened her big mouth.” So I’m wondering what it was exactly that Gia did that got her targeted by Gresham. (Although it sounds like Gresham would have killed Gia anyway, given that she was a lose end.)

    But we do have an explanation of why certain people weren’t killed that would have been easy targets. BUT I WONDER WHY Gresham decided to target CARTER? I mean, why bring him in at all? I guess Gresham just figured it was another way to hurt Ana by going after a friend of hers.

    SO I have a few unanswered questions, but the whole makes sense. If it couldn’t be Andrew, it pretty much came back to the club and Mia’s previous attacker. AND I had wondered why Mia hadn’t given his name before, and we learned HERE that she didn’t know the name until much later.

    And yeah, I’m still mad at the various people, especially Mia, for all the reason previously discussed in teh comments sections of previous chapters, but Ana said everything that we have all been admittedly thinking about Grace and Carrick and Elliot and Mia.

    And TAYLOR is still alive!!! I’m thrilled about that. I think the only remaining WORRY that we all have is over whether or not Kommer can be trusted. After all, he is now watching over Ros and Gwen back at Escala. HOWEVER, per Carter, Gresham seemingly admired Ros, although he tried to get her kicked out of GEH in order to isolate CHristian.

    So it was never really about getting GEH but about revenge for the club closing down. Again, that is a LONG way to go over a club that Gresham could have simply re-opened. I mean, he could have gotten Elena to work with him from within the prison to contact the girls that would come back and to get others. I mean, Gresham KNEW what to do to set up shell companies to pay people, so it really makes no sense to me to go to the great lengths he did for “revenge” against CHristian.

    So while I’m admittedly disappointed, it all makes a certain degree of sense. We really need some backstory regarding Gresham, but having his name is everything. Christian now KNOWS who is coming for him, and Gresham has rather foolishly gotten rid of almost all of his strongest thugs and planners. So it is a question of him being able to mobilize faster than Christian and being able to be provided with an opportunity, which would be difficult UNLESS he still has a security officer on the inside.

    Since Gresham is clearly murdering off his cohorts, you would THINK that whoever else is still working for him but in Christian’s employ would come clean. I mean, going to prison still means you LIVE, while waiting around for Gresham to get to you means you die.

    So we will now see how all this plays out. But I still think Elliot doesn’t deserve Kate, ESPECIALLY after he was so willing to defend Gia when she was all along sent in for a particular purpose.

    While I KNOW we all want Gresham killed at this point, I still want answers to things, such as how Gia got involved wtih Gresham in the first place. AND if she knew, which she undoubtedly did, about JUST what Gresham planned. Given Gia’s talents that existed even outside the bedroom, you wonder how she could get mixed up with a guy like Gresham when she could have just met a rich man on her own OR made her fortune through her designs. But it may have all come back down to Gia thinking she could have CHristian IF Ana died, so she may have been just as despicable as Gresham.

    Sigh. Still mad at Mia, although Tara has done a good job of explaining how she got so caught up in all of this. But Mia seems to have a dependent personality, and she has a history of choosing the WRONG people to confide in. At least she IS 17 now, so there is not a lot of her childhood left for anyone to mess up. BUT I HOPE Christian LEARNS from Carrick’s and Grace’s mistakes so he doesn’t repeat them on Calliope.

    (I also hope that this teaches Christian about making enemies that he doesn’t have to make. He really ought to look up past threats that could rise again later on, especially when you are dealing with rich men that feel they have lost everything to Christian!)

    But I AM glad someone DID take care of Elena. She got what she deserved, and I can’t feel even a small iota of sadness for her loss. I do actually feel a little sorry for Isaac, though, simply because he seemingly WAS so loyal to Elena. She didn’t deserve that. But Isaac got what he deserved in the end for all he did. I still wonder WHY Gresham brought Carter into all this, and although I don’t like the thought of Gresham living, I still want some answers that only he can give. BUT it is not like he would give them voluntarily.

    AND the evidence against Gresham right now is shockingly CIRCUMSTANTIAL. Gresham HAS done a lot to cover his tracks, and Mia’s SILENCE for so long would hurt her case. HOPEFULLY, Mia has SAVED the evidence of any texts/emails sent to her. AND Taylor will now be determined EVEN MORE to go after Gresham. Just hope that Kommer is NOT in on it, since Taylor’s love, Gail, is also within Kommer’s watchful eyes right now.

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    1. I have to admit that I’m also somehow disapointed about Gresham reasons. I mean, yeah, it makes sense, but I think that he could have made things another way (killing Mia, for example, if he didn’t want anyone knowing his identity). The need of revenge is a strong feeling, but I found myself thinking that there aren’t enough reasons to go to that extremes. I don’t know. We wait and see. Maybe the next chapter makes more sense to me.

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    2. More than disappointment, m amazed that he actually conceptualised all this plan, followed up for around a year but I don’t think it was just bcoz he wanted to scare Mia from opening her mouth

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      1. andiegrey AND annu43,

        EXACTLY. I just stated in an earlier comment that WHY didn’t Gresham just murder Mia? I mean, WHY go after CHRISTIAN? That is like a dog intentionally biting the hand of his owner WHEN he has food in his hand for said dog!

        I mean, Gresham is going after the VERY guy that helped make HIM a wealthy guy. WHERE is the sense in that? ALL because a club got shut down? A club that Gresham could have just re-started HIMSELF?

        This just seems so stupid and pointless. AND he wants Christian to “suffer?” WHY? Again, there needs to be more BACKSTORY. This just doesn’t make sense now. His claims to Carter are RIDICULOUS, given how Gresham made his own money.

        And Gresham is ruining himself in the process of going after his BIGGEST client. AND he clearly had access to MIA, or COULD have had access to her easily enough, given her behaviors. I mean, Carrick and Grace NEVER really knew where she was, AND they didn’t put tabs on her even AFTER she showed she can’t handle the freedom. Or stress. Or anything, really.

        So there has to be “MORE” to Gresham than this. I hope we aren’t supposed to just accept “insanity” as a reason for him doing all of this. For something THIS big and SO AGAINST Gresham’s best interests, there HAS to be MORE.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Gresham certainly had some sort of investment in Elena’s club

      Also, when d case unfolded, Christian mentioned that his company is somewhat on d verge of buyout or something….so this explains.

      But Toriko, I agree if it was just about keeping Mia quite den y nt just kill her??

      And did u notice Christian’s reacfion about Gresham’s sub???
      He knows some inside info too

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  5. So I was right Tara you are a fanfiction teaser! You had me going up and down looking for the name and then I had to give up and read the story until the name was revealed. I absolutely loved love stories like this one. Where the author mixes sexy kustful lemons, great love stories, dram, angst and thrilling mysteries into the plot. You have done a fantastic job with this story and these characters. So I was right in thinking the answered lied in that damn club but hell if I did not see Gia’s involvement in this story. Christian needs to find her and skin her to death. Mia really needs to grow up. You did justice to her character being a spoiled rich immature kid to the tee. She got so over her head with this her behaviors that she should have opened her mouth up a long time ago. So now to plan how to capture this bastard. Bravo Tara job 👍

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  6. At this point, I really want to know WHY Gresham felt the need to involve CARTER in all of this. That still makes no sense to me. Hopefully, we will get an explanation soon.

    But if Carter WAS on the up and up, then he deserves Kate far more than Elliot ever did. Still, you can’t help who you love. But Carter has seemingly more character than Elliot, at least at this point.

    But hopefully Elliot HAS learned, although seemingly not enough to consider someone ELSE’s wishes and desires above his own. And Elliot still seems to defend the undefendable. Hopefully, though, Elliot will either finally grow up and be able to sacrifice for others, OR he at least will never stray so easily again. I mean, KATE has had to make ALL the sacrifices in their relationship.

    Still, though, there is more story to come, and we will get to hear more about what motivated Gresham. AND I definitely hope Ray LISTENS to Christian about security. But I can’t imagine Ray denying Ana anything, and I think he will readily move into Escala to be close to Ana AND Calliope, especially after what happened with Carla. I think Ray would even NEED to have his family CLOSE, because Ray, too, will go after his own grief.

    And I hope Ana will contact BOB and explain things to him as well, once the opportunity arises. And hey, Bob may not be out of danger any way, since Gresham seems to have a weird definition of “lose ends” and when you go after them.

    But I LIKE that Ana has learned to speak her mind. AND had even been able to do so while UNITING the Grey family and showing them why family cannot be ignored or mistreated, since no one can know how much time he or she has left. So the family WILL come out closer in the end, and Ana will be a better parent, having learned from OTHERS’ mistakes.

    But is anyone ELSE worried that Christian has so much of his wealth still tied up with the enemy? And if he suddenly pulls his assets from Gresham’s power, then Gresham will undoubtedly KNOW that his identity has been revealed. BUT it would keep Gresham from possibly USING CHristian’s own wealth against him.

    I’m interested to see what Taylor and Christian will come up with for their next move. AND if they can act faster than Gresham, who is clearly getting desperate to end this and make his escape.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If u actually see, Carter behaved in d same way any college student had…..the girls had to grow up coz of d circumstances but he was just a regular guy…..

      Kate did try to hide her frndship wid Elliot fr a long tym and at d end of d day, Carter is a gud guy

      At d beginning of book 2, he even tried convincing ana of solving her issues wid christian and helped Kate through a lot during her recovery without having any expectations.

      Elliot just wanted to satisfy his lust nd coz gia was gud in bed(as per him) he forgot everyone around him. He knew that Kate had been around the grey’s fr over 4 yrs and still he practically imposed her on them even during d time of his father’s illness.

      And had he had felt nothing fr gia, then y didn’t he realised so when christian first suspected her!!! Y only after seeing Kate happy did he realise he “never loved gia” and wanted Kate back??

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  7. Go Ana for putting everyone in their place and stopping Christian’s tirade. And they certainly know how to calm down together. 😉

    Ana’s new hypothesis sounds like it could be spot on. Thank goodness Mia finally talked to them and gave them his name. Better late than never although it cost a few people there lives. Im sure that Grace and Carrick will have a few words for her too.

    I’m so happy that Taylor has come around and is doing good. That’s a relief.

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  8. I am sadden by this chapter only because it means this story is coming to an end. I do think that there’s a lot more to this Gresham character than we have seen and I can’t wait for it all to be revealed. I’m curious as to what other ways Gresham might be related to or connected with Christian.

    Can’t wait for next week, wouldn’t mind a sneak peak though. 😉

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  9. I still believe that Gresham is not alone in this scheme, there’s more than one person in this. I don’t remember reading Ana knowing Gresham, as after Ana’s graduation when HE called Ana he was expecting Ana to recognize him, so there’s someone that Ana knows but hasn’t remembered….YET. To me there’s a team of masterminds involved with Gresham other than the hired killers, Elena is out, Hyde is out under FBI custody. I also think that Barney is involved somehow, I may be wrong. I also think that Gresham is embezzling Christian’s personal investments and off shore accounts, remember before Elena’s trial that Christian told Ana about the money he had. I believe that this is also about MONEY. Ana may be right on her theory. Thank you Tara.

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  10. I don’t buy that Gresham is the Big Bad, too easy. He’s not part of Christian’s “inner circle” that’s what I keep focusing on. Not like Taylor or Luke or Ros is, but since it can’t be them, I’m really scratching my head as to who? Gresham may be part of it obviously but not the head of the snake, as it were. Love that we still don’t know, thank you Tara!

    Also….GO ANA! It was bitchin’ that she went after everyone in the “blame game.” She’s absolutely right and I like that she included herself as well.

    Terrific chapter. Loved the lemons. 😎

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  11. One more thing….Does anyone else get a oogy feeling at the last sentence where Ana is feeling relief that Christian’s “most trusted, right hand man” is going to recover?

    ToriK, talk me off my “I’m still scared it’s Taylor” ledge again. 😖 (LOL)

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    1. At this point, I can’t exactly talk you off the Taylor ledge! It is NOT that I think Taylor is a bad guy, it is that TAYLOR stands to potentially be compromised if KOMMER is not a good guy since Kommer has now been left in charge of securing all those at Escala. AND one of those people is GAIL, who Taylor loves.

      So I’m hoping that Gresham OR REAL Mr. Conspiracy Head does NOT make Taylor choose between Christian and the others. Because AT THE VERY LEAST, that divides Taylor’s focus.

      But ANYTHING may be possible at this point. MIA IS ASSUMING that GRESHAM is the REAL true head of the Conspiracy. Since there HAVE been so many twists at this point, then Gresham may NOT be the ONLY or TRUE head—he COULD just be a major recruit.

      After all, we ALL knew that WHOEVER Mr. Conspiracy Head is HE would NEED a financier. AND Gia was clearly ONE of his contacts, as was the other girl from the club. HOWEVER, Mr. Conspiracy Head was operating BEFORE Mia even KNEW Gresham’s REAL identity.

      So the truly SCARY things is that we may actually have TWO DISTINCT THREATS, which may or may not be working together. I just don’t know.

      TAYLOR could have so easily died. So I can’t see him being the Conspiracy Head, UNLESS Gresham was actually operating SEMI-ALONE in going after Mia. AFTER ALL, if GRESHAM was identified, then Mr. Conspiracy Head could be VERY angry to learn he had SO EXPOSED himself to Mia (quite literally AND figuratively).

      So there may be still MORE going on here. MIA ASSUMES that it is Mr. Conspriacy Head/Gresham threatening ALL of them when he MAY just be trying to silence HER, so that Gresham is not implicated in everything ELSE.

      Because it does NOT make sense to me, the more I think about it, for Gresham to be the SOLE person behind this. I mean, WHY ACT SO AGAINST HIS OWN INTEREST? Which would mean that the TRUE POST of Mr. Conspiracy Head is still up for grabs.

      So the CARLA ATTACK may be MORE than it appears, such as BOTH Gresham AND Mr. Conspiracy Head having plans to get to Carla OR to eliminate her for leverage. So ONE group guns down the OTHER.

      At this point, I may be grasping at straws. I can’t fathom Gresham’s reasoning here. So either we get a backstory later, OR THERE IS SOMEONE ELSE.

      After all, THE HOLE IN ALL OF THIS IS THAT ANA DOES NOT KNOW GRESHAM. She accepts that because GRESHAM is threatening MIA and possibly her parents if MIA comes forward, then Gresham has to be behind the plot to get Christian. AND YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT ASSUMING things!

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    2. OMG I thought the same thing! I hate to say it but I think Taylor has something to do with it too 😦 hope not but that was one hell of an ending!

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      1. What is scary is that if Taylor is NOT involved, which I most sincerely hope he is NOT, then HIS LOVER is fixing to be at the CENTER of danger, since Gail is at ESCALA, where everybody is headed now.

        KOMMER has been the one previously suspected by us, since he wasn’t someone Taylor had actually fought with in the military previously. He was a hire at the VERY time when Mr. Conspiracy Head was looking to put people in ALL the right places, and HE NEEDED someone on security.

        And KOMMER has been left back at the homestead. So I think it is about to get dicey, because if Taylor is forced to CHOOSE, which way will he go?

        The whole Carla murder and shootout is WORRISOME, given that there is potential for more than ONE group to have been making an appearance, for WHATEVER reasons. After all, RYAN could have been compromised, and the other car waited to see until Ryan arrived to start shooting. And so on and so on.

        I just think there is MORE to Carter being called up for this as well. But WITHOUT having all the pieces yet, we don’t know WHO can really be trusted in security. (I have just gone on the HOPE that too many of us love Taylor and Luke enough to NOT want them to be involved. So hopefully, that is an evil twist that Tara would NOT want to go with.) I mean, if TAYLOR had been compromised, then ALL of security would have been, AND I CANNOT SEE TAYLOR going after MEN HE HAS SERVED WITH previously and later secured employment when they returned stateside. He CANNOT be that evil. BUT Taylor would certainly have an awful time trying to operate and secure everyone if his OWN love is threatened. It would make him rethink EVERYTHING, and he would operate differently despite himself. So we have to wait and see if GAIL ends up being targeted, wtih everyone heading back to Seattle looking for Gresham!

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  12. The call about Taylor being ok may be the way to draw them all out and a way to take them all out at one time. I still don’t think we know who the BIG man is yet. Carter, Luke, Welch, but someone on the inside is helping out.
    Crystal
    USA
    Loved Ann growing some balls!!!

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    1. Heeheehee! I also loved Ana’s “steel” balls in this one, BUT I think everything going down now is keeping her from seeing the OBVIOUS—that GRESHAM seemingly has no ties to her!

      Which means that other compromised people undoubtedly ARE still out there, INCLUDING the ones you named. I mean, I think there was MORE to these TWO separate simultaneous attacks on Carla’s residence than we know.

      First, everyone has to make it out of Seattle, though. . . .

      Like

  13. Gresham, his financial officer, what motivated him to go through all the criminal moves that took a long time and still don’t know the end result. I have to track back and read more about him or if he was fired. I know it had to be somebody that was close to Christian to be aware how his empire was operating. I will wait to wait for the next update. Thank you very much. Appreciate your dedication in writing your stories to share.

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  14. I’m sorry but Ana comes across in this chapter as being a cold hearted woman. Your mother has died and there’s no tears, no mourning. In fact she goes off and has sex. Lost a lot of respect for the character. All she’s obsessed with is Christian.

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    1. I think Ana is partly in shock. AND still having to deal with everything, including a newborn, AND in holding the rest of her family together.

      And she LOVES Christian. He is the father of her baby girl. YES, she had just lost her mother, BUT she also has to CONTINUE to deal with possibly losing Christian AND others, as Mr. Conspiracy Head is not going to simply STOP with Carla.

      So the dead are already dead. AND will be mourned. BUT ANA has to KEEP LIVING. AND help OTHERS realize the importance of not giving up and FIGHTING this.

      AND love means reconnecting wtih people. With Christian, that also includes the close connection she has with him through sex as well as through words. I mean, that is WHY you want to see Ana and CHristian come through this together—they are the couple that seemingly have it ALL. AND remain deeply in love with one another. Which is certainly worth fighting for and preserving!

      Like

  15. How FABULOUS that Taylor is recovering! And, how very kindhearted of Ray to stay at the hospital ‘as a sign of respect for a fallen soldier’ – Ray has continuously shown such class and dignity, from his ‘rescue raising’ Ana to remaining ‘open’ after Carla’s horrific Christian tirade. He took the time to hear Ana’s side of things and gave Christian the benefit of the doubt while getting to know him better. His compassion for Carla showed he still held a place in his heart for her, as Ana’s mother, despite her despicable actions.

    Tara, you have kept us all is suspense for such a long time that Gresham as Conspirator almost seems tantamount to anti-climactic. And that just is NOT your style. Knowing you, there simply has to be much, much more re Gresham’s back-story and contempt for Christian, Ana and the Greys. How would he know Carter? (Perhaps he is Carter’s father.) My mind keeps wrapping around so many questions – even his additional connections to Christian that have not been revealed – And, Carla? Could Grisham possibly be Stephen Morton? That would explain why he told Ana she could have recognized him at her graduation. Conceivably, maybe he could even be Christian’s birth-father? Why did Christian not recognize his voice – Did he use some sort of a voice distorter?

    Optimistically, Bob is not complicit in any of this and Ana will get in touch with him, as he surely is hurting quite a bit at this time. Ray must have filled him in on what happened. It would be devastating if he just heard about it on the news. He would, most likely, have information for Ana as to Carla’s wishes regarding burial arrangements.

    Mia is young, immature, confused, frightened and need of therapy. It is almost understandable that she acted the way she did and only came forward when she realized the gravity of the situation. She, most certainly, still needs to be held accountable for her actions, but merely should merit some sort of an understanding from Christian, et al, as to her thought process. Calling Dr. Flynn!

    Gia remains off the grid, details of which might help to fill in some of the blanks. Is she dead – was her demise ‘staged’ at Gresham’s behest, figuring Christian’s Security would see it as such, but it would still enable her to continue as his cohort?

    CANNOT WAIT an entire week, for the next chapter, in hopes you will enlighten us with considerable additional info re the Gresham saga. Could there feasibly be TWO Conspirators working together – such as Barney, Or? So many, many more questions. And you, Tara, as always, hold the key to all! As the song says, ‘You Just Keep Me Hanging On!’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, if ever the family needed Flynn, it is now. When they LEAST have the time for therapy!

      And I think there is DEFINITELY more to the Conspiracy then what is known now. I STILL can’t see what is TRULY motivating Gresham, so I tend to think there are OTHERS. And that Gresham may NOT be the head of all this.

      Having been a former comic book lover in my teen years, I can’t HELP but want the ORIGIN STORY for these various top Conspiracy people. I mean, Gresham has committed himself to SO MANY seemingly evil acts for just being mad about a club closing or being denied one particular girl that he wanted to abuse. But WHY have so many helped him and OTHERS? Why did ELENA think she could survive all this? And WHY did she GIVE HIM so much in the beginning in the FIRST place, since it was enough to take HERSELF down in the process?

      But RAY is just one of the key figures that Mr. Conspiracy Head never banked on being involved. So Christian still has MORE at his disposal then he thinks. And HOW can ANYONE still want to stand by Mr. Conspiracy Head at this point, KNOWING what is happening to SO MANY of his confederates?

      I can’t imagine Tara going for making some far-fetched person we have never encountered being behind this (such as Christian’s birth father). BUT someone that HAS been introduced before COULD have previous ties to PAST figures that we are now unawares. Tara has always made her bad guys plausible, even the semi-crazy ones. (I mean, she took time to give us INSIGHT into the past of Kate’s crazy stalker guy to EXPLAIN his targeting her.) So there probably ARE still clues that we have overlooked as to the identity of the remaining players. (But I really hope Barney isn’t involved. Although HOW so much technical stuff could have been done by some tech guru unknown to Christian is troubling, given how he takes such care to employ the best in the field. BUT that could ALSO be Christian’s undoing in hiring such people that feel entitled to whatever they want, despite their company contracts!)

      So ANYTHING is still possible at this point!!! I’m expecting AT LEAST one more twist. Tara just isn’t going to give up the identity of everyone behind this so easily! And shocks keep coming, even when you THINK you are ready for the next one. So I think there is still MORE to come!

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  16. I’m thinking Gresham is just a part and not the main conspiracy head. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get back to Seattle to find Gresham dead.

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    1. AMEN. Because Gresham IS a financier—so HE was probably who Elena recommended to set up the shell companies for Mr. Conspiracy Head. AND once Christian would have a REASON to look Gresham’s way, then Mr. Conspiracy Head would kill him. NO WONDER Gresham worked so hard to keep Mia silent! And he probably KNEW about the various security compromises and just utilized the security feeds/intel gatherers, etc.

      And Gresham clearly met wtih GIA. So Gresham looks good on paper, UNTIL you start trying to go over ALL of the contacts that Mr. Conspiracy Head has made previously. And Gresham does NOT make sense here.

      I’m still also wondering about the double attack on Carla’s house. I mean, she didn’t even know HIS identity! It IS possible that ONE person wanted to SECURE AND KIDNAP Carla, while the OTHER person arranged for her to DIE, AFTER HE could identify just WHO was showing up to grab Carla. So there are MULTIPLE ways this could play out. (Like if Gresham wanted Carla for LEVERAGE, KNOWING HIS SITUATION was increasingly precarious, since MIA now KNEW who he was. So GRESHAM recruits CARTER and Isaac to go get Carla. BUT after Gresham’s people go in, then Mr. Conspiracy Head has them ALL seemingly shot to prevent Gresham having ANY possibility of going to Christian, with Carla as his leverage.)

      So my question is wondering how soon Gresham will die. After all, Mr. Conspiracy Head HAD been so careful to remain unseen and unaccounted for. Even the MURDER of ELENA has NO TIES to him and looks like an ACCIDENT. But gunning down Carla and Christian’s men CANNOT be explained away. And is a DESPERATE move that WILL bring attention. So the question is WHY NOW?

      So MORE is going on here. I think Gresham wanted a way out. AND MAYBE that is even why he met with GIA, who also wanted a legitimate way out at that point. ONLY for their meeting to allow MIA to put together the DETAILS of GRESHAM’s involvement. And GIA’s involvement by proxy. So GIA WAS THEN captured, interrogated, and KILLED to try to learn what Gresham was planning.

      Sigh. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES here still left. I just think GRESHAM alone does NOT explain anything AT ALL. It would be ENTIRELY AGAINST his interest. I mean, Gresham did not HAVE to be Christian’s financier. I think he likely EMBEZZLED from Christian (and maybe others) and tried to attack Mia, NOT knowing who she REALLY was at the time. THEN Elena had blackmail on Gresham, but she revealed her knowledge to Mr. Conspiracy Head as well and pointed to Gresham as being a good recruit.

      But Mr. Conspiracy Head wouldn’t let Gresham talk. I think Gresham will go “missing” like Gia. There will be a perfectly plausible reason left behind for why he is suddenly absent. But no one will be able to find him. OR we have Gresham get desperate and try to actually contact CHRISTIAN through one of his people! But more likely, I think he is DEAD, same as you. And GOOD RIDDANCE, to have tried to attack Mia. AND for other crimes that obviously caused him to have REASON to work wtih Mr. Conspiracy Head!

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      1. Yeah, but Mr. Conspiracy Head has been CAREFUL about certain bodies being found. I mean, we know Leila must be dead, because Tara TOLD us so. But ALL we have so far is a little of her blood. And we have YET to see even blood left by GIA.

        So even IF Gresham WERE already dead, then Christian’s people won’t necessarily know it. AND I’m dying to see how Christian tries to contact Gresham upon returning, ASSUMING again that they GET to return prior to another attack. I mean, is Christian just going to request a BUSINESS MEETING to review his portfolio????

        NO ONE has been willing to provide any NAMES of unknown Conspiracy members. And that is TELLING. I think Gresham got so scared because his OWN name was connected to Elena AND the club when Mia identified him AND alerted Gresham’s “other girl.” SO THEY NEED TO FIND HER, as well as Gresham.

        But the family first has to make it back to Seattle. AND has to safeguard those still remaining in the hospital AND when they get released!

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    2. Same here! I’ve said similar I don’t think Mia really knows knows, she’s just been scared shitless by this guy so she assumes he is the ‘mastermind’. After all we’ve established Mia’s stupidy by keeping quiet and given everything that has happened scaring her into losing family with pictures and sending her flowers etc and Gresham confronting her getting ice cream so she could put a name to a face would make it easy for her to think Gresham is actually Mr C, given she is 17 it would be easy for her to assume it’s him. Gresham might be a sick ticket in terms of his BDSM practices, but like everyone who has played a hand in hurting Christian in this story he is probably protecting his own interest and exposure so being used by Mr C is a brilliant rouse, just because he wanted Mia doesn’t mean it’s him. Elena was sick and perverted too and I am sure like a lot of people who don’t practice safe and consensual BDSM having a virgin on your books for the highest bidder would be more money in Elena’s account and on the bidder part would be money worth spending and also the sister of a well known business man to boot – score. Now that we have time waiting for the next chapter Gresham is too convenient for me now. I have also wondered that Elena would have had money in non-traceable accounts as she asked for Christian to transfer money originally into the Cayman Islands, she just got greedy so again but I always wondeeed if she would have had the funds with the profits of her club to of paid people off and invaded a trial by escaping in the first place but due to her egotistical nature she refused to really believe Christian would really ever give Ana up.

      As Tara has confirmed someone has actually identified Mr C in the comments already I am really racking my brain now because Gresham has never been on my radar at all, I’ve just never felt it’s him in my water so to speak – just another person in the larger picture doing their part to help Mr C while helping themselves. I feel Gresham if he isn’t actually Mr C (and I will feel stupid if it is actually really him after this long winded diatribe on my part lol) is just another new person for everyone on Chritistian’s team to rally around and focus on while Mr C starts doing damage elsewhere while everyone focuses on this new revelation by Mia. You know make a fire over here when really the real danger is closer then you really think. Especially with Taylor in critical condition Christian’s top security is at a pretty low in terms of who Christian can really trust and while, I still haven’t completely dismissed Welch or Barney as insiders and possibly either being Mr C himself again I’m racking my brain to proper motivation because we know Elena planted all of that into Christian’s abandonment and trust issues. Let’s face it Christian rightfully so is so paranoid only himself and Taylor knew of the actually wedding plans, not even Sawyer or Ana for that matter were given that information which really indicates how serious Christian’s doubts within his own team are. It’s kinda scary given that Christian trust Sawyer with Ana and Calioppe’s lives but not enough to give up this kind of security information. It’s the one thing that makes me question who I think this person is because of what Elena said to Ana and Christian of how close to the inner circle Mr C is, I’ve even wondered if it’s a woman as well?

      Like

  17. Great chapter. Can’t wait to talk to Taylor see what he thinks and what sawyer has found out. And finally go on offense and get him hopefully totally by surprise. Can’t wait. Thank you.

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  18. “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”
    ― C.S. Lewis

    “I made decisions that I regret, and I took them as learning experiences… I’m human, not perfect, like anybody else.”
    – Queen Latifah
    “Many times, the decisions we make affect and hurt your closest friends and family the most. I have a lot of regrets in that regard. It has enabled me to forgive myself and move forward one day at a time.”
    – Lex Luger

    “The best way of keeping a secret is to pretend there isn’t one.”
    ― Margaret Atwood
    “I feel bare. I didn’t realize I wore my secrets as armor until they were gone and now everyone sees me as I really am.”
    ― Veronica Roth

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  19. For some reason I feel let down, disappointed. I guess it’s because I can’t see that stopping Gresham from raping Mia is a justification for terrorizing and killing so many people. I hope there is a back story that explains ALL the details. Just saying he’s jealous of Christian isn’t enough; what could Christian possibly have done to ANYONE to justify this kind of retaliation? Plus, I assume he is undermining either GEH or Christian personally by siphoning off funds.
    Thanks for letting Taylor recover. As much as I don’t want to see Christian and Ana’s story end, I want to hear they are safe and EVERYONE involved with Elena and Gresham is locked up or dead.

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    1. Marlene,

      I felt the SAME way. But the more I thought about it, the more it does NOT make sense. Are we really to believe that MIA had all the answers? AND does that REALLY sound like Mr. Conspiracy Head’s style to OPELY threaten Mia, THUS PROVIDING HER with PROOF that he had NEED to silence her?

      So I’m thinking Gresham may be a red herring. I’m not saying he is not involved—in fact, I think the REAL Conspiracy Head had BLACKMAIL material on Gresham, including footage of the attack. Because if Elena FEARED Gresham previously, then she wouldn’t just give him what he wants, ESPECIALLY if it would be her undoing. She would plan on FILMING the attack to have leverage over Gresham (nevermind that she calously was willing to throw Mia under the bus JUST to get future blackmail material, but ELENA might have been planning to find a way to be INDEPENDENT from Christian, KNOWING it was only a matter of time before Christian cut her off completely due to ANA. So Elena TIMED the attack to occur when she could blackmail Gresham to set up fake shell companies for her to launder her money so that she would NOT have to use Christian anymore. ONLY to have ANA thwart her plan.).

      So Gresham’s name then got provided to Mr. Conspiracy Head instead to provide the shell companies for HIM that Elena never got a chance to utilize herself due to her prison sentence. And when MIA figured out Gresham’s identity as her would-be attacker, she STUPIDLY revealed it to the girl that BENEFITTED from a relationship wtih Gresham. ONLY THEN did Gresham threaten Mia, USING THE INTEL that was being gathered FOR MR. Conspiracy Head.

      So Mr. Conspiracy Head probably NOW realizes that Gresham HAS seemingly compromised the WHOLE thing, because Gresham DOES know HIS identity! So it will NOW be a RACE to get to Gresham before Mr. Conspiracy Head, ALL while Christian does NOT yet know that Gresham is NOT Mr. Conspiracy Head!!!!

      So it really DOES come down to Taylor and Sawyer and what they can find out. AND if they can piece together the reasons WHY Gresham isn’t Mr. Conspiracy Head.

      And I’m surprised that ANA has not questioned this yet. BUT it sounds like she has SO MUCH hitting her at once, including Christian’s seemingly being ready to leave her and Calliope, RIGHT after her mother was killed.

      AND we have all previously worried about KOMMER’S loyalties, and Kommer is the one left at Escala right now, with Taylor’s love Gail AND NOW everyone is heading back THERE, thinking that GRESHAM is who they need to find!

      So it is a race to the finish line, since I suspect MULTIPLE people want to get to Gresham now!

      (AND a last late double-cross/red herring by Tara would be the masterpiece for the story’s finale. So I’m thinking Gresham is NOT the head of teh Conspiracy, although he was probably trying to find a way to ESCAPE Mr. Conspiracy Head’s wrath and desire to kill him. So this is all about to get VERY interesting!)

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  20. Gresham being Mr. Conspiracy Head still doesn’t make sense to me. AND the big clue remains that Ana does NOT know him at all, and WHOEVER called ANA at graduation EXPECTED her to know him by VOICE AND SITE. And she has had NO contact with Gresham that she is aware of.

    And Ana wouldn’t have REASON to have had contact with Gresham previously.

    And GRESHAM may have been SO AFRAID of Mia coming forward about the attack BECAUSE IT WOULD BRING ATTENTION TO HIM, and he may also be the Financier for Mr. Conspiracy Head.

    What is sad here is that EVERYONE, including Christian, is thinking that this is a “done deal” without questioning WHY Gresham would go after Christian. AFTER ALL, as a financier, Gresham is expected to stay rich BY MAKING HIS CLIENTS HAPPY, and Christian almost HAS to be his biggest client. SO WHY BITE THE HAND THAT FEEDS YOU?

    HOWEVER, Gresham could be blackmailed by Mr. Conspiracy Head.

    AND how Gia fits into all this remains UNSEEN thus far. Gia could be the woman he lost to Elliot, because Elliot and/or Christian seemed the better deal. Surprisingly, we haven’t had Gia’s body found yet. Granted, I don’t think she is still alive, but NOTHING is off the table yet.

    (And quite frankly, had this chapter been the REAL total reveal, then I think Tara would have been COMMENTING on some of our comments. But we are met wtih dead silence.)

    So I’m thinking this is Tara’s LAST great twist. AND THE CLUE is that Gresham does NOT know Ana and does NOT have a reason to go after his biggest client. BUT Gresham WOULD need to SILENCE MIA, due to fearing that MR. Conspiracy Head WOULD KILL HIM if Mia pointed a finger his way, making EVERYONE, including the FBI, look more CLOSELY into OTHERS he has worked with.

    AND THE OTHER BIG CLUE is that Mr. Conspiracy Head has NOT hesitated to HURT AND KILL OTHERS for SO MUCH LESS. So WHY leave Mia ALIVE if she could identify HIM. HOWEVER, Mr. Conspiracy Head WOULD kill Gresham in a heartbeat if ANYONE started investigating Gresham, since GRESHAM probably KNOWS THE REAL IDENTITY OF MR. Conspiracy Head!!!

    So I’m going ahead and BANKING on Tara pulling a REAL final twist in making Gresham NOT be the HEAD of the Conspiracy. After all, Tara has made a point of giving us REASONS and psychological insight on Elena and others that have previously worked for Christian. SO I CAN’T see her just randomly pulling an UNKNOWN, even if he WAS Mia’s attacker, to explain ALL that has been done to make CHRISTIAN AND ANA SUFFER.

    AND MAKING CHRISTIAN SUFFER was what it was all about. AND getting ANA to also suffer, which was not GRESHAM’S previous target. Gresham just has NO REASON to go after Ana, UNLESS he truly has “reinvented” himself and had a previous identity, such as Stephen Morton. And Gresham would NOT then risk going on the TELEVISIONS where he could be seen readily by Ana, if this was the case. (OR that would then explain WHY he had targeted Ana in order to avoid her seeing and identifying him.)

    So KUDOS to Tara for making us think MIA had ALL the answers. Will DEFINITELY make me far less angry at Mia to find that she DIDN’T have HIS name all along—-she just THOUGHT she did.

    But if it HAD been Gresham, then Mia’s “friend” from the club would have been eliminated as a “lose end” as well. As would ANYONE with a connection to the club. And thta seemingly hasn’t happened.

    So I’m now curious as to Gresham’s REAL roll in all of this. WE KNOW that Mr. Conspiracy Head needs a tech person AND someone good with security and surveillance. AND he would need a financier to help set up all this. GRESHAM IS JUST ANOTHER client of the club, AND Mr. Conspiracy Head COULD BE BLACKMAILING GRESHAM because ELENA IDENTIFIED GRESHAM AS MIA’s would-be attacker. AND THAT IS A FAR MORE PLAUSIBLE REASON FOR GRESHAM’S INVOLVEMENT and determination to keep Mia silent—-after all, Mr. Conspiracy Head has now gotten ALL he needs out of Gresham, presumably, AND if Christian’s people now KNOW Gresham’s identity, there is NO REASON to keep Gresham alive now.

    THe REAL Mr. Conspiracy Head called Ana at graduation to figure out what she knew. And by Ana seemingly NOT recognizing him, then HE was confident that some of his recruits had NOT talked. So I think there was a REASON for the shout-out at graduation.

    So I’m thinking Tara is sitting back, sipping a cool drink, and laughing at all of us. Oh curse your fine writing skills, oh great author, that has us spending so much time going around in circles! But we HAVE (hopefully/probably/maybe????) figured your double-cross, since Gresham CANNOT make sense BASED ON WHAT WE KNOW NOW.

    (And do we REALLY think that 17-year-old Mia figured it ALL out? Ummm, no. GRESHAM is a major player, and is most likely being BLACKMAILED by Mr. Conspiracy Head already. So he DOES now have little to nothing to lose, once he realizes Mia has talked. BUT Gresham has even MORE to fear from Mr. Conspiracy Head. I mean, Christian wouldn’t kill him but WOULD seek justice for Mia. WHile Mr. COnspiracy Head will just kill him horribly. SO ANY NUMBER OF TWISTS could be possible, INCLUDING GRESHAM turning on HIM once Christian has him cornered.)

    Fiendish, Tara. You think we wouldn’t NOTICE your SILENCE at the time of the “supposed” reveal? THAT is the dead giveaway!

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    1. Good points, Tori. We’re kind of running out of characters who have actually been identified, except for Barney. We really don’t know much about him in Tara’s story — is he young or old, where’s he from, what’s his whole name, and so forth. He’d certainly be able to do all the computer hacking, and he could no doubt access Christian’s off-shore funds. So the only question is — why?

      Could Elena have passed on videos to Andrew to blackmail Gresham into doing his bidding?

      I refuse to even consider it could be Taylor or Luke.

      So really, the mystery man behind it all is still as much a mystery as he was last week.

      (Who were those men Christian, Ros, and Ana had dinner with in New York? I don’t think they were ever mentioned again.)

      Another 7 days to analyze and re-examine and go crazy ….

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      1. Marlene,
        For the record, I don’t WANT it to be Taylor or Luke, I’m just grasping at straws, thinking about what would be the ultimate in plot bunny twists, but at the same time, knowing who it is means the story will wrap up which makes me sad. But, all good things come to an end and this story, this series, has been one of those good things. This has been so much fun! reading this trilogy and getting to know all the Tara fans through our comments. Love it. 😍

        Like

      2. You know, Marlene, I was just re-reading that chapter about the business dinner and wondering that myself! There was to be a “quick turnaround” per Christian regarding the business, and he wanted access to the cash and assets of the company immediately. HOWEVER, remember that Leila and a Thug were already in NY stalking out Ana at the time.

        AND that is ANOTHER worry—WHO ALL KNEW about Ana’s SECRET trip to NY in the FIRST place? Granted, Kate told her socialite “friends” at the time. But other than that, only Taylor and Luke and Kate knew about the planned trip. So EITHER there were communications through the computer about the trip that WERE intercepted, or we DO have to worry about HOW MR. CONSPIRACY HEAD KNEW to send Leila to New York right then. (Although apparently at that time, Ana seemingly WAS under 24 hour surveillance. AND LUKE prevented Ana from being taken then, so it couldn’t have been him.)

        AND Luke had arranged with Taylor to REMAIN in NY at the last minute, which seemingly SHOULD prove Taylor’s innocence beyond a doubt. But it was SCARY how close Mr. Conspiracy Head got to getting Ana during that trip!

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  21. LAST thing to note:

    TAYLOR was the one that pulled Gia’s records before and discovered that she had a SCHEDULED meeting wtih Gresham. Would Mr. Conspiracy Head REALLY be that stupid to have a lunch on the books of some restaurant? Where he would be SEEN with Gia? YES, Gia had clearly been given a “story” to explain his presence, but the Mr. Conspiracy Head that WE have been reading about would not so openly have himself scheduled for a lunch date with Gia.

    So that would be funny if Gresham met with Gia in order to try to TOGETHER find a way OUT of the Conspiracy. And Gia either reported said meeting, OR MORE LIKELY, just kept QUIET, hoping the “explanation” of the meeting would sound plausible enough to Mr. Conspiracy Head.

    But then shortly thereafter, Gia and Elliot break-up. So Mr. Conspiracy Head DIDN’T just kill Gia, he probably bound her to the chair and TORTURED the information regarding Gresham out of her BEFORE finally killing her.

    So then you have these two potentially squaring off with ONE ANOTHER, since Financier Gresham would want an ESCAPE PLAN. He would KNOW that Christian would want him jailed for Mia’s attack, so his EXPOSURE gets him a prison sentence, AND he can’t KNOW if Mia will remain quiet. AND Mr. Conspriacy Head can’t know if GRESHAM will remain quiet.

    So the ABOVE explains why it seemingly took so long for Mr. Conspriacy Head to ACT.

    So at the very time we think we are nearing the CONCLUSION of the story, we may STILL have unknown enemies AND potential allies coming into play. AND everyone is potentially thinking GRESHAM is the sole enemy, when Mr. Conspriacy Head has ALWAYS tried to make SOMEONE ELSE look guilty.

    And Carter seemingly looks in the clear, when he may not be at all. So MUCH could happen now! It is interesting to speculate WHO will be able to make the FIRST move!

    Like

  22. I think Gresham works with another higher head in all this. He alone is too simple. Mia really needs to grow up. Takes Carla’s death for her to realize it is very serious situation the family is facing. Ana reading everyone’s shortcomings snaps all to attention to pursue the real scenario. Are they closer to the final battle? Look forward to 46 to find out. Glad Taylor is out of the woods. Thank you, Tara, amazing update. Xoxo daytona

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  23. Interesting chapter and comments.

    I don’t believe it’s Gresham as the mastermind as few have pointed out ‘red herring’ and ‘anti climatic’ were used, I tend to agree. I get the feeling you have something big planned and I can’t wait. I think he’s a major player but not to the extent of the power Mr C wields. I have said in previous comments that I didn’t believe Mia really knew, I think Mia like so many of us had been conned into thinking she knows who it is. I’ve always said Mia is book smart but not Street smart. I am so angry with Mia’s explanation and quite frankly wasn’t surprised at her stupidity, after all she rings an ex submissive from the club to talk about all of this to as she needs someone which I understand but her ignorance at being told ‘now nothing will happen if you keep your mouth shut’ was not just naive but really dangerous as who knows what Maria told this ex submissive who didn’t want to leave the lifestyle. Mia is easily manipulated and she is self serving. It’s easy to think when your a teenager that you think you know what’s best but in Mia’s case her actions are more like a an 11 year old. I understand given as a child she was put in the middle between Christian’s issues/choices and she missesd out on having Christian in her life but she knew what Elena had done to Christian by the time she went to work for Elena so she knew Elena’s past and what she had done to Christian and by going to work for her she must have put two and two together they weren’t just having sex and that what Elena and Christian’s relationship was indeed very wrong for him as a minor and that Elena wasn’t a good person but she put her own choices first when Cariick refused Juilliard.

    Some people are into hardcore BDSM it doesn’t mean their a bad person or crazy they just like the kicks differently. I mean really as if Mia was ever going to be able to do even light bondage given she was a virgin and also it does come across her real aim was to be swept off her feet as a princess for her first time. Mia wanted money and the easier option at that she was just too dumb to see it. But what she did know was she was a minor and the fact she was being asked to have sexual relations at all should have been a red flag.

    I loved what Ana said to everyone when they started with the blame game, I think I would have been harsher but she said what I’ve been saying from the start. I loved that you actually laid this out for everyone because someone had to say it and actually it was brilliant because really there was just enough ‘bite’ with strong home truths being said then making everyone so uncomfortable that it turned into an argument. I have been waiting for this moment for you to put everyone in their place, when I read it I had a huge smile. Not many writers have dared to question Saint Carrick and Grace to their face and it was such a breath of fresh air. No one can predict what fro excampe this story has given but I think most of us can agree, Christian would never had suffered like he did if Carrick and Grace were actually doing their jobs. Ana was so on point at pointing the finger at everyone but also including herself. I’ve also been wanting for the true bitchy Kate to come through and Elliot being a dumb arse hero exactly like he was with Gia when Christian first suspected Gia.

    As for blaming Christian that if he had put Elena away in the first place none of this would have happened? Let’s take a trip down memory lane shall we, a 15 year old boy who was not just sexually abused but, mentally and physically abused for years while his parents lived in denial that he hadn’t quite accepted the harrowing beginnings of the first four years of his life. A woman who used this boys past as a way of manipulating him, telling him he was no good, that he would only amount to the sum of his biological mother the crack whore and he wasn’t worthy of others especially his adopted parents. And when he lied on the stand Carrick allowed all those fears to be confirmed and left Christian in isolation and of course this was the perfect segueway for Elena back into Christian’s life even in the outtakes we know Elena was someone who would bide her time, just waiting for Christian to finally crack. I know Elliot was around but he in Christian’s mind would not be able, to understand what he had felt. Wrong or right mental abuse especially from such a young age is hard to crack while physically abused is ofcourse abhorrent. Christian grew up with Elena in his ear telling him what a bad person he was and that he was unlovable and the only form of contact was the physical abuse she dished out. I think it would be a safe bet that Elena was bidding her time and grooming Christian as a small child, she’s a paedofile remember. Even if Carrick had given him the money, the damage that Elena had inflicted on to Christian could of been even more devastating his mental health was already shot. The one thing Elena said in prison about Christian was the thing that would stop him from hurting into giving him a name was decency. Christian is a good guy but it took a very long and hard journey for him to realise he was lovable.

    I am suspicious about Kommer now, Gail, Ros and Gwen left in Seattle and he disappeared during the majority of these attacks and particularly the one at the Grey’s home, could he ha e been the one to dismantle the security only to be shafted by Camp?

    Now Taylor is awake let’s hope he can shed some light on if indeed Carter is not who he says he is and if he saw something?

    Brilliant chapter I knew it wasn’t going to be one with definitive answers but plenty to think about. Which is why your such a fabulous writer you have kept as guessing but also I love the character development you have given which for me is just important than finding out who Mr C is. After all, when all is said and done I think this family will need and have to do some serious rebuilding and soul searching. With the blame while it had to come out eventually it was interesting that in my opinion some of the major players stayed silent like Carrick and Grace and even then Grace was still being don’t be cruel Christian.

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  24. It’s easy to blame Mia because she seemingly had the answers in her hands so when Ana put everyone in their place you realize it wasn’t that easy for her to come forward. I agree with daytona that there’s another person involved in the grand scheme of things. Maybe Linc? I feel we’re getting closer to showtime because I’m curious to what Gresham’s true motive in all of this was. Glad Taylor is ok.

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  25. Oh thank God that Taylor will make it… Man if he didn’t, that would have really devastated Christian. I hope the family will come together, stay together and fight together, now that they know who they are dealing with. However the problem is that they don’t know what GRESHAM has up his sleeve. He will be going in for the kill now that he suspects that Mia would have spilled the beans and ousted him. He really is one physco.

    Was Gia involved from the outset and hence used Elliott to get close to the Greys or was she just one of Gresham’s recruits like Carter, Hyde and Leila. Did she end up like Leila?. I hope Ray, Taylor and Sawyer use their marine skills to “take care” of Gresham once and for all.

    I hope Tara that you will shed some light on the many unanswered questions. Cant wait for the next update.

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    1. Yeah, I’m admittedly curious to Gia’s origin story as well. Did she accidentally meet Elliot and THEN get recruited, or was she put in his way DELIBERATELY (which I tend to think)? Did she TRY to get out? Did she KNOW what was supposed to happen to Ana?

      The suspicion was that GIA provided the intel that Ana was ALONE at Escala. WAS it her?

      I’m hoping that Tara will give us all the answers in the end. Too often in real life, the bad guy will turn the gun on himself before questioned OR get shot dead in the shootout when people corner him. And then people don’t ever know WHY someone did what they did.

      Hopefully, Tara has seen our absolute AGONY over figuring this all out and will give us all the answers behind the MOTIVATION of these people in the end. And just HOW and WHY it all started in the first place. (Otherwise, there is always the rioting in the street, sharpening of the pitchforks, and ultimately chaining Tara to her writing desk in someone’s basement until we get the result, ala Stephen King’s “Misery”-style!! Heeheehee!!!!)

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      1. I think Gia like everyone was promised something or a idea of something and I think in this case a chance to get close to the Christian Grey was a huge bonus. Gia made no bones about it she wanted Christian and flaunted her desire for Christian in front of Ana and Elliot. I’ve always thought Elliot is a nice guy but he is the ultimate Man Child who only ever wanted to see what he wanted. I feel when Gia had lunch with Gresham in someways it all seemed plausible that that they met at the GEH party and after all she was a feeelancer it would make sense for her to network. Remember when Gia confronted Ana (I can’t remember where)but she basically said girls like you get it so easy and girls like me have to work hard and you get this free pass being Christian’s girlfriend. There is a lot to be said on how women view other woman in these situations story or not. The whole point of these comments is for us to explore our ideas and theories but it has always struck me how many women and not just in this intepretation of fifty shades view Ana. Ana is hardworking and she comes from nothing, when Kate become friends with those bitches from New York it was ‘we don’t know that name who are your family’ even Christian recognised Kate Kavanagh as possibly the daughter of the Eamon Kavanagh.

        Sometimes money isn’t the ultimate goal though I imagine anyone being married to Christian would be also thinking of the nice life they would have. Even Leila her insane crush was more to do with the girl who sweeps the reclusive billionaire of his feet. I interpreted it more to be that girl who was so special he actually noticed you.

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  26. Intense chapter! United front! What a psycho Gresham is! Ana is correct he is cleaning house and moving in for the kill!
    This is going to be a big confrontation so all hands on deck! Will Christian, Taylor and Ray try to draw him out?
    I hope Gail and Sophie, Gwen and Ros are ok with Kommer, but something tells me beware. He will probably try to get to Hyde in jail, he got to Elena! Was Gina a pawn like all the others? Where’s Welch?
    Looking forward to Monday.

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  27. There is one more suspicious person unaccounted for. Where’s Carter’s father? Why isn’t anyone from Carter’s family there to see if he’s OK (or to berate him for getting mixed up in this)?

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    1. EXCELLENT POINT, Marlene – This factor certainly is something that we have all overlooked. Perhaps Carter’s father (and family) is conspicuous by their absence. And, just maybe, that aspect might lead to the reason HE told Ana she could recognize HIM, on the phone at her graduation. I am considering perhaps Carter’s father could be a new alias/identity for Stephen Morton or someone else we may have ‘missed’ along the way. Your point could lead to a new light being shed on Carter’s involvement. Hmm.

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      1. I think it was Last chapter thta I, also, asked WHERE was Carter’s FAMILY in all this? I mean, as I pointed out there, ANA got to Georgia FROM NY quicker than Carter’s family did, when THEY already live in Georgia? AND if you did NOT know your child was MISSING, then wouldn’t you rush to a hospital when you hear he was SHOT??? Or if he didn’t tell them he was going anywhere, HOW do they explain his sudden ABSENCES at the time of the wedding and now???

        It just seems weird that we have NEVER encountered Carter’s family, ESPECIALLY since they presumably KNEW about Carter asking Kate to marry him. WHY wouldn’t you want to meet Kate’s FAMILY at graduation time? I just never got any of that.

        But it could have an explanation. OR it could explain why Carter got a flesh wound and everyone else got a hailstorm of bullets. I’m STILL unclear why those guys botched the job, since Carter and now Taylor are both going to live. I mean, if you REALLY fear Mr. Conspriacy Head so much and KNOW he doesn’t want survivors, won’t you stay the extra 45 seconds it takes to empty another round into the men in and outside the car?

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    2. Yeah he ends up with a bullet wound and I assume that killing spree was on Tele but nothing. Though, Carter was left with Kate and nothing happened like a lot of thought was his chance to do something to her. Still iffy about Carter. Even if Christian offers him the world the fact they hated each other doesn’t just go away.

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