Chapter 47

fifty_shades_of_grey-9-0-0

By Saturday morning, the rain has cleared and we’re gifted another beautiful late summer morning. We’ve opened all of the windows to fill the apartment with the fresh air being carried off the sound by the soft summer breeze, and it’s made the endless parade of reporters and interviewers that Kommer has ushered through seem somehow pleasant. That is until that same breeze also begins carrying Calliope’s cries and Christian’s arguments with the nanny in from my bedroom. I can’t quite make out what they’re fighting over and it’s distracting. Several times I have to ask the reporter sitting across from me to repeat her question because, rather than listening, I was looking to the hallway trying to figure out what’s going on.

“The emotions are just so real,” Miss Dark-Plum-Lipstick from the New Yorker says. “Tell us, Ana, where does that come from? What did you draw on for inspiration?”

“I’ve experienced loss just like everyone else. Heartbreak. Devastation. A lot of Isaiah’s pain is my own and that’s uncomfortable and vulnerable, but writing through those emotions was healing for me.”

“This novel centers mostly around coping with the loss of someone you truly loved. Since you’ve so recently lost your mother, is there anything you would have done differently now that you didn’t when you wrote this novel?”

“Oh, uh…” My attention is diverted once more as the sound of pounding footsteps make their way down the hallway from my bedroom and the nanny bursts into the living room in a huff.

“Ava?”

She narrows her eyes at me. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Grey, but I can’t…” She pauses and when she speaks again, it’s through clenched teeth. “He sent me to my room.”

“Sent you to your…?” I shake my head with dismay and slowly get out of my chair. “I’m sorry, will you please excuse me for a moment?”

“Ana, your AMA starts in five minutes. We really need to wrap this up,” Lydia warns. I glance up the hallway towards my bedroom, where I can still hear my daughter screaming bloody murder, and bite down on my lip with hesitation before turning back to Miss Dark-Plum-Lipstick.

“No, I don’t think I would change anything. My mother’s death wasn’t the loss I was working through when I wrote this. Maybe that’s a different story, maybe not. I guess we’ll see.”

“So what was it then? The loss you so heartbreakingly depicted in Escape?”

I frown. “Something I hope I never have to lose again. Excuse me.”

I can hear Lydia thanking the reporter behind me as I disappear into the hallway, but I hardly pay any attention to what she’s saying. My mind is focused only on whatever it is that could possibly be making Calliope scream so hard or that would make Christian banish our nanny, his only help for the entire day.

When I open the door to our bedroom, I find Christian pacing back and forth across the floor, holding Calliope tightly against him and bouncing her slightly as he tries to soothe her. She isn’t having any of it though, so I quickly step forward and take her out of his arms.

“What is going on in here?”

“We need a new nanny,” Christian says bluntly, so I raise an eyebrow at him.

“Why?”

“Because she’s perfectly content to lay Calliope face down on the floor and just watch her scream.”

I roll my eyes. “Christian, that’s just tummy time. Calli hates it, but she has to do it.”

His mouth sets into a hard line and he crosses his arms over his chest. “I don’t think she should have to do anything that makes her that miserable. My daughter deserves a life of comfort and luxury, not hardship and strife.”

“Your daughter needs to be able to hold her own head up and learn to crawl one day.”

He lets out another huff, but just as I’m about to ask him to go make peace with Ava, there’s a knock on the door and Kate pokes her head inside.

“Someone call for baby relief?” she asks. I turn to glare at Christian, but he holds his hands up in front of him, defensively.

“You’re supposed to be booked all day. I needed reinforcements.”

“Like the woman upstairs we pay for that exact purpose?”

His expression hardens again, telling me he still doesn’t think developmental growth is an appropriate excuse to force his baby to do something uncomfortable, but before I can argue with him Kate hurries in and holds her arms out for Calliope.

“Elliot is out on the boat with Carrick this afternoon so I was just shopping to kill time before I had to come over here to help you get ready for tonight anyway. This way I’ll get a few hours of quality time with my goddaughter.”

I pivot so I can relinquish my baby to her, but the moment she’s in Kate’s arms and not mine, she starts to scream again. It should hurt to see her tiny face crinkle and the tears that pour from her eyes, but I can’t help the smile her tiny little melt down brings out of me. Usually, it’s Christian she can’t stand to be separated from. Never before has she had this reaction from being taken away from me and I guiltily kind of love it.

“I have to do an AMA on Reddit in like 30 seconds,” I say, taking Calliope back from Kate. “Do you want to type for me so I can do tummy time with Calli?”

“You mean you trust me to respond to internet strangers asking questions for you?”

I narrow my eyes. “I trust you to dictate.”

“Okay.” A mischievous smile plays at her lips. “I can do that.”

“Exactly as I say,” I emphasize, warning her, but as she nods and backs through the doorway to the living room, the conspiratorial glint is still obvious in her eyes. I shake my head and turn back to Christian, who looks a little dismayed that I’m not finished with the press tour for the day.

“Have Kate bring her to me if she’s distracting you,” he says. “I guess if you’re going to take over, I might as well try to get some work done. I’ll be in my office.” I nod and then lean up to kiss him on the cheek before turning back to the living room where Kate is helping Lydia write something on a oversized piece of paper in thick, black Sharpie.

“What is that?”

“It’s for you to hold up,” Lydia replies, handing the paper to me while Kate picks up her phone and points it to me to take a picture. It has my username scribbled across it, proof that I’m actually here answering questions.

“Smile!” Kate says, and the phone clicks.

 

I’m surprised by how much I enjoy doing the AMA. I’m sure most of it is because I’m able to do the entire Q&A laying on the dining room floor with Calliope doing tummy time on my stomach while Kate and I come up with the most ridiculous answers we can. But I think a lot of it also has to do with the general lightheartedness of the interview. Not all of these questions are so heavy like they’ve been in every interview I’ve done so far. In fact, most of the things I’m asked are completely unrelated to Escape. What is your favorite kind of sandwich? What song is stuck in your head right now? If you could eliminate one thing from existence, what would it be?

“The St. Louis Rams,” I reply confidently, and Kate laughs as she types my response and then starts scrolling through the questions again.

“Okay, let’s see… Ooh, Marry, Fuck, Kill, are you ready?”

“Hit me with it.”

“Ryan Reynolds, Channing Tatum, Chris Hemsworth.”

“Ummmmm, marry Ryan Reynolds. Fuck Chris Hemsworth. Kill Channing Tatum.”

“Kill Channing Tatum? Are you crazy?”

“What do you mean crazy? Ryan Reynolds was last year’s sexiest man alive AND he’s hilarious. Definitely marriage material. And Chris Hemsworth is literally a god, so I don’t know what you want from me.”

“Well, obviously you fuck a Hemsworth, I understand that part. But… but… Channing Tatum.”

“Pass.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“No I’m not,” I say in a sing song voice as I tickle Calliope’s sides. “We would take Ryan Reynolds over Channing Tatum any day, wouldn’t we Calli-lily? Yes we would. But we’ll never ever say that to Daddy, will we? Nooooo.” I lean down to rub my nose against hers and the second my skin touches her, she laughs and my whole body freezes.

“Oh my god. She laughed! Kate, she just laughed!”

“What?”

“She laughed. Her very first laugh! Quick, get my phone!”

Kate picks up my phone off the table and hands it to me, all the while laughing to herself. “This is amazing. Can I please be the one to tell Christian that his daughter’s first laugh was over his mom joking about fucking Ryan Reynolds?”

“Not just fucking,” I say, turning a broad smile back on Calliope. “Living in wedded bliss forever and ever…” She starts laughing again as I tickle her sides so I wrap my arms tighter around her and scramble off the floor. “Answer for me, Christian needs to see this.”

“Ana!” Lydia protests, but I shake off her protests as I turn for Christian’s office.

“She’ll do fine! But I better not read any responses later about Christian’s penis, Kate.”

“You won’t,” she says, and then shakes her head slightly as she looks back down at the laptop in front of her. “The memory of that still gives me nightmares.”

I roll my eyes and rush up the hallway that leads to Christian’s office, continuing to tickle and bounce and encourage my baby as we go so that when I come through the doors the first thing he’ll see is her giggling. But when I step inside, all thought of this milestone is immediately pushed out of my mind because Christian isn’t alone working in his office like I expected. Both Luke and Kommer are sitting across from him, Luke with his laptop open, and the three of them look both completely absorbed in and deadly serious about whatever they’re discussing.

“What’s going on?”

Christian and Kommer look up at me but Luke doesn’t, he’s too involved in what he’s doing.

“Nothing,” Christian says, dismissing me.

“Is it about Gresham? Have you found him?”

He swallows, looking conflicted. “There may be a… new development.”

“What kind of development?”

After a brief second of hesitation and a glance down at Luke, he finally concedes and waves me further inside. I shut the door and hurry across the room so I can see what’s open on Luke’s laptop, but it’s all just a bunch of coding screens, which mean nothing to me. Christian must see that because when I look up at him, he starts explaining without me having to prompt him.

“He’s still trying to trace the account the wire transfer ended up in. In the meantime, he’s been going back through everything he had on the club from his investigation last year, hoping to find something or someone that will lead us to him, and he found an email address. The one that belongs to  the person who had been sending photographs of you to TMZ last year. The owner of that account received a $10 million dollar transfer this morning.”

“Like a payment?” I check, and Christian nods.

I pause, thinking back to the lunch I had with Luke last year while we were still trying to figure out what Elena was doing behind the shield of her beauty salons. Whoever had taken pictures of me at that sex shop with Kate, and at the club with Luke, had forwarded them to the media through an anonymous email address.

“Jane Doe,” I say blankly. “So, who is she?”

“Well, she banks at Washington Federal.”

“So does half of Seattle. That doesn’t tell us who she is.”

“Hopefully that’s where this new information comes into play. There isn’t much in the email account, it looks like it’s been mostly inactive over the last year, except for this large dollar transfer. He just emptied his offshore account, it’s got to be from him. With this email, we have the last four digits of her account number, so Luke can trace it and get a real name and hopefully use her to take us right to him.”

“It’s got to be Elena Lincoln, right?” Kommer says. “Taylor briefed me on everything that happened last year between our camp and Elena Lincoln, she was trying to oust Ana. She’s the only person who had motive to go after her. It has to be Elena.”

“Why would Gresham transfer ten million dollars to a dead woman?” Christian asks.

“I don’t know. Maybe the transfer was set up before she was killed. Maybe the prison riot was legitimate, not a story to cover up his plan, and he wasn’t expecting to lose her. Or maybe she isn’t really dead… Has anyone actually verified that? Perhaps that’s where we should be devoting our attention.”

“No, it’s not Elena Lincoln,” I say, shaking my head. “That’s how we found out about the club. We started by trying to connect her to this account and we couldn’t. It’s not her.”

Luke snaps twice and points at me, signifying I’m on the same train of thought he is, and Kommer frowns.

“A submissive then? Miss Grey said this guy was involved in her BDSM club and that he had a favorite girl. Maybe that girl is Jane Doe. We have a name, Alexis Young. We should go after her.”

“Maybe,” Christian agrees. “It’s a place to start. Sawyer, how long will it take for you to get me information on Alexis Young?”

To my surprise, Luke pulls his hands off the keyboard and turns to Christian in frustration. “You’re going to have to prioritize. I can’t trace the original wire transfer, hack Jane Doe, monitor for any sign of Gresham’s activity, put together a dossier on a Alexis Young, and run security for Ana. Not in these time frames.”

“So, we cancel my event tonight,” I suggest, but Christian shakes his head.

“No. I promised you that I wouldn’t let any of this detract from your moment, and I intend on keeping that promise.”

“I’m fine, Christian. It’s more important that Luke is here working on all of this than watching over me at a stupid book party. I mean, there’s going to be a ton of people there, security’s not going to be easy anyway…”

“No, it’s not…” Luke says, suddenly sitting up. “So, that’ll be his move.”

“What?” Christian asks. “That public?”

“Yeah. In this case, the crowd might work for him. Make it easier for him and his people to hide. Ana’s right. Security is going to be tough with only the two of us and there are plenty of opportunities to get inside Columbia Tower with the caterers, florists, or whatever other outside vendors they’ve hired. Hell, he may even have been able to get one of his people, who ever is left, into the event security Random House hired.”

Christian and I exchange nervous glances.

“I don’t know…” Kommer asks. “He may be thinking he can hide, but in the end more people just means more witnesses. I would think he’d choose something more prive. Or maybe the reason we can’t find him is because he’s already gone. He has the money, why risk losing it?”

Christian shakes his head. “Because he’s put too much into this to just quit. Besides, he’s still paying people, remember? Jane Doe wouldn’t have gotten $10 million if he was gone.”

“So we cancel,” I re-affirm, but Luke looks up at me hesitantly.

“If Gresham is going to be there, this could be a shot. Maybe our last shot.” He turns back to Christian. “And we’re not necessarily alone. There’s always… what we talked about last night.”

“Last night?” I ask, furrowing my brow and glancing between them with confusion. But Christian doesn’t look at me. His eyes stay focused on Sawyer for a long beat and then he takes a breath and begins to nod.

“Alright, Luke I want you to send everything you have so far to Welch and have him take over. His priority is to find Gresham. Once we know where he is, none of this other shit will matter.”

“Yes, sir,” Luke says.

“Kommer, you’ll be staying here tonight.”

“Here? Sir?”

He nods to the baby in my arms, who is currently playing with the ends of my hair. “We’re not bringing Calliope to Ana’s event and I’m not going to leave her without security. We’re covering all of our bases. If anything out of the ordinary happens, anything, you get Calli and Ava into the panic room and call Hsu. Understand?”

“Sir, we’re already understaffed and I think that if we’re going to make a play on Gresham I’d be better suited…”

Christian cuts him off. “Do you understand?”

Kommer tenses and takes a breath. “Yes, sir.”

“Good. I’ll call Hsu now and tell them what we know so we can be prepared for tonight. And…” He pauses again and looks at Luke. “And we’ll greenlight plan B.”

“Yes, sir.”

“What should I do?”

Christian looks up to me and his expression softens. “Nothing. You just focus on fulfilling your obligations with Random House and enjoying your night.”

“Christian…”

He gets out of his chair and comes to me, placing each one of his hands on either side of my face so that I’m forced to look into the depths of his warm, gray eyes.

“This is just the beginning for you, Ana. I know you can’t see past Gresham right now, but I can. I know that tonight, you are going to secure that number one spot and it’s going to launch your very long and full career. I want you to experience every moment of that. I want to experience that with you. We’re going to take care of everything else. You just focus on enjoying this and taking everything in. You’ve earned it.”

I try to protest, but he leans down over Calliope and kisses me, effectively silencing me. The moment our lips touch Luke closes the lid of his laptop and taps Kommer with the back of his hand. “And… that’s our cue to leave.”

They both push their chairs away from Christian’s desk and I glance over my shoulder to watch them discretely leave the room. The moment the door closes, I turn back to the handsome man standing before me and stare up into his warm gray eyes.

“Did you need something?” he asks.

“Oh… no. Calli laughed.We were playing on the dining room floor and she laughed. I wanted you to see it.”

“What?” He smiles and lean down to Calliope’s level in my arms, reaching out to tickle her tummy. “Is your mommy funny?”

She doesn’t laugh this time, she simply stares up at her daddy with wide, wonder filled eyes, and I deflate.

“Of course she won’t do it now…”

He sighs and stands up to face me again. “It’s alright. Are you finished with your interviews?”

“Almost. I should go make sure that Kate isn’t telling the entire internet about the time I puked on the rollercoaster at the Puyallup Fair and maybe try to fit in one last plug for my book, but once I’m done with that, I’ll need to start getting ready for tonight. Do you want to take a shower?”

He raises an eyebrow. “With you?”

I wink and then turn to leave his office, sashaying my behind back and forth as I walk to the door. His low chuckle follows me into the hallway and while I make my way back to the great room, I quickly run through everything I want to say about Escape at the end of this AMA so I can get him naked in the shower as soon as possible.

 

When the clock finally rolls around to 7:30 that night, my stomach is tight with nerves. I’ve been to dozens of big black tie events over the last year, but they all centered around Christian. It was his job to make the good impression, it was his job to say all the right things and speak to all the right people. It was his job to captivate the room and push his agenda. Tonight, it’s all on me. I don’t know who Random House thinks they’re putting out there, or why this was a good idea, but I’ve never been great in front of crowds. People are Christian’s strong suit, not mine. I do my best when I’m completely alone, with a book or an open laptop as my only company, and as I once again glance over the section of my book Lydia has pre-highlighted for me to read, I find myself wishing that I would have negotiated a little harder with Random House. Surely, the party and the music and the food is enough to leave people with good feelings about my book and boost sales. I can’t imagine me reading or not reading will make that big of an impact.

There’s a sound behind me as the bedroom door opens and I turn to watch Christian sauntering out into the great room, clearly still in a good mood from this afternoon’s activities. He’s dressed in a simple but immaculately tailored black tuxedo and his hair is in just the perfect amount of disarray to make him look simultaneously well put together and like the sexiest man alive.

“Well?” he asks, holding his hands out to his side and turning to give me the full view of his tux.

“You look damn fine, Grey.”

“Good.” He moves towards me and takes me into his arms. “Because I’m taking my job as the arm candy for my extraordinarily brilliant, talented, and successful wife very, very seriously.”

I laugh and then lean up to kiss him softly on the lips. “Is everything ready for tonight? With Gresham, I mean…”

“Uh-uh,” he chides me. “I told you not to worry about any of that. This is all I want you to focus on, Ana.”

“Well that would be easier to do if I at least knew the plan!”

“Everything is under control. Tonight, this all comes to an end and you are going to get your number one spot. We’ll have a lot to celebrate when we return and I think I know just the way…” He pulls me tighter against his body and then kisses me once more, his lips soft but persistent as his tongue moves into my mouth. I moan while his heat washes over me and am pleased to discover it’s calming effects. By the time he releases me, the butterflies swarming furiously inside my stomach have stopped and my confidence has returned in full swing. He’s right. We are going to have a lot to celebrate. After tonight, we’re going to get our lives back, and with this book party, I’m going to ensure that we return to normalcy on exactly the right foot.

 

Luke is already waiting for us in the SUV downstairs and as we climb into the back seat and Christian helps me gather the skirt of the long black Alexander McQueen gown that I was supposed to wear for the GEH New Year’s Eve Ball last winter, I can’t help but notice the almost cold kind of intensity radiating off my CPO. He’s focused, ready, and it’s just another reminder that, as much as Christian wants it to be, tonight isn’t just about me.

The thought does nothing to quell my nerves.

The traffic is fairly light getting across town, until we come within a few blocks of Columbia Tower and we try to merge into the line of cars on their way to the party. My party. I can’t help but keep track of the surprising number of people flooding up the carpet that’s lined with photographers and into the main doors. People that I’m going to have to get up in front of and speak to… Again, my stomach clenches with dread.

“This is it,” Christian says, squeezing my hand as we come to a stop. “Are you ready?”

“As much as I’m going to be.”

He leans over and kisses me on the cheek.  “You’re going to be fine. Better than that, you’re going to be remarkable. Just enjoy this, okay?” I nod nervously and he smiles, but when Luke comes around to open my door, he tugs my hand to keep me from climbing out and leans over to whisper in my ear. “Stay close to me. Don’t move out of my sight.”

I tighten my fingers around his and then take a deep breath as I step out of the car. Immediately, there’s a commotion of lights and the shouts of photographers, which I’m used to from all of the GEH events I’ve attended, except that this time, they’re calling my name. Lydia rushes up beside me and issues rapid fire instructions as we begin walking towards the line of photographers, but I hardly hear a word she says. I can pick out the word smile, so that’s what I focus on. Keeping the rising panic off my face and smiling.

Christian is a lifesaver. His hands around my waist guide me to look in the direction of each photograph we have to pose for, and his constant reassurances at least get me through the front doors of the building thinking I didn’t make a complete fool out of myself. We follow Lydia to the lobby just outside of the main ballroom, the same ballroom we were in for the Governor’s Ball last summer, but I don’t have time to ruminate over that because we’re immediately drug around the crowd of people to mingle with Seattle’s elite. Thankfully, Christian already knows most of everyone who’s here so there aren’t many awkward introductions, but he’s also good about ensuring the conversation never strays to business or GEH or even the charity projects our foundation has launched. He always turns the focus back to me, and the number of times I hear him praising my work never fails to make me smile.  

“Making the rounds for the wife tonight, huh Grey?” a man in a crisp blue suit asks, stepping forward and holding his hand out for Christian.

“Proudly,” he replies. “I’m counting on her being successful enough with this book that I can retire.”

The man lets out a strange laugh and then shakes his head. “Any news on the partnership with Microsoft you’re trying to put together for the GEH Ag-Sci expansion?”

“It’s still in the works.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard Ballman’s a real hard ass. Bailey’s on that deal right?”

“Yes she is.”

“So you have your wife paying the bills and your cute little redhead running your company? With all this free time you have on your hands, one would think you’d have a better record on the lower nine…”

Christian let’s out a harsh breath that I think is supposed to be a laugh, but the way his eyes darken tell me that he doesn’t find any humor in what this man has said.

“You’d think so, but I’ve found other ways to occupy my time than golf. You’re working with Kittinger on a steel contract for your Belltown development, right?”

“I am,” he replies, with mild surprise. “How did you know about that?”

“Oh, I’ve got a deal going with Kittinger myself. It’s not a contract, per se, it’s more of an… acquisition.” The man’s face falls and Christian smiles. “I’m really looking forward to seeing your presentation. That contract is the only thing keeping you from filing chapter seven, right? I’m sure the proposal you’ve planned to save your company will be riveting.

“I-I-”

“I’m sorry, if you’ll excuse us. My wife, the New Times’ bestseller, has several people to speak with tonight. But I’ll see you Thursday, Bill. And don’t worry, it won’t be Bailey who shows up.”

“Uh-I–”

Christian pulls gently on my hand to steer me away from the man still stammering behind us and as he picks up a flute of champagne from the tray offered to him by a waiter, I raise an eyebrow at him.

“So… he’s kind of a dick.”

“Yes. He is.” He lifts the glass to take a sip but as his eyes scan the crowd he stops and then slowly lowers the rim away from his lips. “I’ll be right back. Stay right here. Don’t go anywhere.”

“What?”

He slips his flute into my hand and then maneuvers around me through the crowd. As I watch him go, I realize he’s moving towards Luke, who glances nervously around the room until Christian comes up to him. It looks as though he only has time to get half a sentence out before Christian becomes visibly angry and they start arguing, but I don’t get the chance to try and decipher what they’re talking about before Lydia slips her hand into my elbow to get my attention.

“Alright, they’re just about to seat everyone for dinner. One of the Random House executives is going to go up on stage first and say a few words about Escape and how well it’s done and then she’ll introduce you for your reading. Are you ready?”

“I uh…”

“Lydia!”

We both turn and see the woman from HarperCollins, the one who was in the meeting when I signed my deal, waving us over to her. Lydia smiles and hooks her arm through mine, but as she drags me towards the side entrance into the ballroom, I turn back and look for Christian. I don’t see him, but Luke is coming towards me.

“What was that?” I hiss.

“Nothing. Everything is fine.”

“Luke!” I pull my arm out of Lydia’s grip and motion that I’ll follow after her, then pull Luke to the side so we’re relatively isolated. “Tell me what’s going on.”

“We have it under control, Ana…”

“Luke, I swear to god…”

“Fine.” His mouth mashes together into a tight line as he glances over my shoulder and then leans in closer to me. “I was right about security. Random House hired event security to supplement the team Columbia Tower had on staff in order accommodate a party this size and he was able to get his people in. They’ve got a whole plan in place. There’s a timed device on the main sprinkler system set to trigger the fire alarm and drive everyone outside. It was the job of his security team to usher you and Grey through the back, out those doors.” He points. “There’s a hall that leads to a back alley where there would be a car waiting for you. Gresham’s car.”

“How do you know this?”

“We found who he’d planted and got them to talk.”

I look at him with horror and immediately glance down at his hands, expecting his knuckles to be bloody, the way they were after he’d cornered Hyde in my dressing room in New York, but they aren’t. He doesn’t look disheveled at all.

“How? I thought… I thought everyone we’d gotten to had rehearsed answers.”

“Well, we have more resources now than we did before. More… persuasive resources.”

“The FBI?”

“Ana!” I turn as see Lydia looking at me, furiously waving me in through the door. I respond with an apologetic smile and hold up one finger before turning back to Luke.

“So we have Gresham then? He’s in custody?”

He shakes his head. “The moment we came through that back door, the car took off. Hsu’s on it. They’ve got a license plate number, a description of the car, and agents all over this city looking for him. The airport is shut down and the Washington Transportation Department has been alerted so he can’t board a ferry. There’s no where he can run. We’re going to find him. Tonight. It’s under control, I promise.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“Ana!” Lydia hisses again. Luke pushes me gently towards her and I give her a sheepish look as we pass and enter the ballroom, but it’s hard to feel guilty for lagging behind even though the speaker from RandomHouse has already started. My heart is pounding, though I don’t know if that’s because of fear, anxiety, or excitement… We stopped him. At last, we were able to stop him before he could pull off one of his plans and now he’s on the run and we’re right behind him. We finally have the upper hand.

I slip into my chair at the table right in front of the stage and take the book I’ll be reading out of from Lydia. My fingers tap impatiently against the cover while I try and force myself to focus on the speaker, but I’m too hyper aware of Luke seated in the chair next to me. I know he has an earpiece in so he’s in contact with whoever is chasing Gresham down and all I want to do is stare at him and glean what I can from his expression. My knees bounce beneath the table and I’m chewing impatiently on the inside of my cheek, wishing Christian would come back from wherever he is and just tell me that it’s over.

Suddenly, the room around me erupts into applause and when I look up, I see the speaker and everyone around my table staring at me expectantly.

“Go,” Lydia whispers.

With a deep breath, I curl my fingers around the book in my hands and get up from my chair. Luke ghosts behind me, shadowing every step I take on my way up to the stage, and as I stand at the podium, trembling before the hundreds of pairs of eyes staring up at me, he subtly reaches forward and squeezes my hand.

“You’ve got this.”

I nod, and then force myself to smile. “Good evening, and thank you all for coming out tonight to help us celebrate the launch of my very first novel, Escape.” There’s applause again, giving me one last chance to glance back at Luke before I thank the necessary people and begin my reading. Part of me is hoping to draw one last bit of confidence from his reassuring demeanor, but when I turn, I see that he isn’t looking at me. He’s staring straight ahead, and when I follow his gaze I see why. There’s one door left open to the ballroom, and through it,  I can see Christian pacing in the lobby on his phone.

As I introduce the part of my book that I’ll be reading, giving context, I keep my eyes locked on Christian and wait for any kind of sign that they have Gresham. But there’s nothing before I have to start reading, and so I start the highlighted passage and pause every chance I get to check on my husband, hoping it comes across as dramatic rather than distracted.

The mountain is much steeper than I anticipated and I don’t have the equipment required to make the climb. Only my hands, and the shoes that are more suited for running than scaling a cliffside. But I didn’t choose this obstacle because it was easy, I chose it because I needed something grand to conquer on my own.”

I glance up, but nothing yet.

The rock is slick with snow and melting ice, making each ledge and hand hold a dangerous opportunity to fall, and yet I climb. The warmth of spring that is so omnipresent below is absent here, and the chill of winter nips not only at the tip of my nose and fingers, but at the inside of my lungs. Each heaving breath I take as I reach for one rock after another burns like only ice can, and yet I climb.”

Still nothing.

Hand over foot, higher and higher until the ground is no longer a safe distance beneath me. I’m single minded in my journey up the mountainside, refusing to let the fear of the fall slow me down. There are unsettled pebbles and dust that cascade down over the top of me, making me question the stability of the rock that is the only thing to keep me from falling, and yet I climb.

He’s stopped pacing. He’s frozen in front of the door, absorbed in his call…

At long last, my reach extends beyond the face of the mountain and instead digs down into the soft earth of the summit. With just the strength of my fingers, I pull myself up over the edge, like pulling myself out of the grave, and finally leave behind the pain and crushing sense of loss. As I stand on the precipice of the mountain, I’m free. Every tree littered across the mountain side is it’s own victory. Every rock, every blade of grass, even the crisp air that blows through my hair, it’s all my triumph. I did this, without her, and as I tilt my face up toward the sun and allow its rays to warm my face…”

I glance up and watch Christian’s body relax. His face slowly breaks into a wide smile and when he looks back into the ballroom, he flashes a thumbs up at Luke. I let out an audible gasp, like I’ve been holding my breath for far too long, and as warm relief floods through my veins, I turn back to the book and read through my widening smile.

I know that I’m going to be okay. That life will go on from here and that that life will be worth living.”

Applause breaks out again and I beam out at the crowd in front of me, feeling just like I did when I made the very climb I just read about. Like I’m on top of the world. Months of fear vanishes in an instant, leaving me unburdened and giddy. It’s over. We can once again finally breathe, and in this moment of victory, all I can think about is getting to the people that I love and holding them as close as possible, knowing they’re safe at long last.

Lydia steps up beside me to take over at the podium and I smile as I move back to my table and set the book down at my place setting. Luke pulls my chair out for me, but I don’t sit. Instead, I take a drink of my champagne and then nod to the door at the side of the ballroom where the two of us can slink back through the darkness in the room and out to the main hall as inconspicuously as possible.

Christian’s there to meet us the second we come through the doors and I actually let out a small laugh as he lifts me into the air and spins me around. When my feet touch the ground again, his lips come crashing down on mine.

“They have him?”

He nods. “They traced him back at his apartment, he barricaded himself inside. SWAT is on the way and they have him cornered. There’s no way out. We’ve got him.” His smile widens. “We’ve got him.”

“Thank god.” I wrap my arms around his neck and kiss him again, deeply, and with much more ardor than is appropriate for a public setting. He doesn’t pull back, he meets me with the same enthusiasm until Luke coughs behind us.

“Take me home,” I whisper against his lips.

“Your party…”

“I don’t care. I want see Calliope. I want to look at her in her crib and know that she’s safe, and then I just want to be with you. Like you said, we have a lot to celebrate and I don’t want to do that with strangers.”

He cups my face in the palms of his hands and stares down into my eyes, mirroring my own joy and adoration, and nods.

“I want that too. Come, let’s go home.”

My fingers entwine with his as he tugs me towards the door and as I glance back at Luke behind me, he rolls his eyes but smiles and follows after us.

 

By the time we pull into the garage under Escala, Christian’s hand is tangled in my hair and his lips are ravaging mine. I can feel the change in his body. He moves so much easier and there’s no tension in his kiss. Just bliss, and love, and the sweet taste of happiness.

Luke stops the SUV before the elevator and when Christian glances up at him, he starts nodding.

“I know, I know…. Give you an hour.”

“Thank you, Sawyer.” Christian replies. I offer him a grateful smile as Christian pulls me from the back of the SUV but he’s only able to briefly smile in return before his phone rings and he has to reach down to retrieve it.  

Once the elevator doors open, Christian sweeps me inside and immediately punches in the code before pressing me into the wall and attacking me again. His hands are all over me and I gasp when his lips part from mine and move down my neck. He doesn’t even wait until we’re released into the apartment before his fingers reach for the zipper on the back of my dress and he starts to pull it down so he has access to my breasts.

“When we get upstairs,” he whispers into my cleavage. “You go check on the baby and I’ll pick out the toys we’re going to need. Once I have you alone in our bed, I’m going to fuck you like a madman.”

I moan and then twist my fingers in hair, tugging slightly until I hear his breath hiss between his teeth and he nips at the swell of my breast. The elevator pings, announcing our arrival, and I smile as the doors pull back to reveal that the apartment is pitch black. There’s no one awake to catch us in the act, so the moment my feet hit the marble of the foyer, I let my dress fall to the floor.

“Fuck,” Christian breathes in approval. The doors close, taking with them our only source light, so when he reaches down and slaps my ass, it’s a surprise and it makes me shriek. He hums in pleasure as he massages the sting away from my skin with his hand. “Hurry. The longer you keep me waiting, the harder I’m going to spank you.”

I bite my bottom lip with anticipation and squeal again as I twist out of his arms and hurry across the foyer toward the great room. Unfortunately, in the dark, I’m unable to see the unexpected something lying in the middle of the floor and I trip, falling hard against cool marble.

“Shit, Ana!”

The fall is more painful than I’m prepared for. My face smacks against the floor and the force seems to reverberate through my teeth. My first fear is that I may have broken my nose because that’s where a lot of the pain is focused so I reach up to cup my face, whimpering, but I’m surprised that when I touch my skin, my hand is wet.

“What in the world?”

Christian fumbles along the wall for only second to find the light switch, but once he’s flicked it on and the room is flooded in bright, white light, my eyes widen in horror. My hands are covered in deep red blood. At first, I think it’s from my fall. That maybe I did break my nose and that I’m bleeding, but as I start to shake and look down at the ground beneath me, I realize there’s far too much blood around me to becoming from my nose.

“Holy shit,” Christian whispers in shock. “Ana–”

I look back at the thing that caused me to fall and am unable to hold back my scream. Ava is staring back at me, her green eyes open but unseeing in her extremely pale face. The puddle of blood on the ground is coming from her.

“Oh my god!” My voice shakes as I scramble off the ground, drenched in the blood of our nanny, but as Christian grabs a hold of me and tries to push me to the elevator, I hear the soft cry of my daughter come from the living room.

“Calliope!”

His hands tighten around me. “I’ll get her. You go…”

“No. Christian!”

I twist out of his grip and sprint through the arch into the great room, towards our daughter’s cries, and as I look through the dark room trying to find her, I hear the sound of lamp switching on and the room is flooded with light. Both Christian and I freeze, but we can’t see whoever it is in the room with us because they’re in a chair turned towards the windows. However, we can hear them cooing softly at our baby.

“She really is so beautiful,” a woman’s voice says. “You should be proud of that.”

“What do you want?” Christian asks. Whoever it is let’s out a breathy laugh and begins to turn. Once she’s fully facing us, her face breaks into a wide, arrogant smile.

“Where do I begin?”

Bile creeps up my throat and into my mouth, my body trembles, and my breath seems to leave my body all at once. It’s like my mind can’t comprehend what I’m seeing because I know who she is, but she shouldn’t be here. She shouldn’t be sitting carelessly in the middle of my living room with my baby tucked in one arm and a gun dangling lazily from one finger in her other hand.

Thankfully, Christian doesn’t seem as stunned as I am because he steps forward and positions his body between her and me, and then slowly reaches out towards her.

“Give me the baby, Gia.”

Next Chapter

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73 thoughts on “Chapter 47

    1. Gia always wanted the actual life that Elena SCORNED. After all, Elena RESENTED being the Trophy Wife that wasn’t allowed to use her Princeton degree while Gia just wanted to BE the Trophy Wife that got to quit her job and just be involved in charities for the SOCIAL standing.

      And Gia was NEVER as successful at the seduction and management of any of the Greys as Elena was. Gia DID, though, try to keep her options OPEN. And she HAD to know, like Elena, that bodies were piling up and people being disposed of.

      So Gia seemingly wants to escape with the life, which IS something Elena, herself, wanted in the end. So I’m wondering what Gia’s END GAME is in all of this. AND HOW SHE GOT INVOLVED in the FIRST PLACE. Was she sent to keep TABS on Gresham OR the other way around?

      AND is Gia still working for the Conspriacy or trying to find her OWN way out that guarantees her safety, similar to what Elena tried in the end?

      Like

      1. Or Gia cud be the lady that Christian turned down at d new year party when he mentioned of such incident to ana in part 2

        She might not have taken d rejection nicely….but Gia entered Grey’s life a few months after Elena was arrested…so it cud be that

        Like

      2. Annu43,

        Or the OTHER possibilities are that 1) GIA was behind everything all along and used Gresham as her “shield” to make it look like a man was behind the whole thing. THAT might even explain how Leila was found and captured—she reached out to Gia, thinking Gia was in the SAME circumstance as herself, only to find out in the end that GIA was the real power.

        It would also explain why ANA was seemingly targeted for kidnapping and death rather than Christian. After all, Christian’s COMPANY rather than his life was targeted while Gia was supposedly dating Elliot.

        HOWEVER, the thing that does NOT make sense to me (if Gia were the true Head) is that Gia would WANT GEH to be as powerful as it could be, NOT to tear it down. HOWEVER, since ALL the undermining of GEH led back to ANA’s LAPTOP, then it might be that Gia did it all to isolate Christian AND in another bid to get rid of Ana. Had that happened, she then would have ceased undermining GEH.

        ANOTHER possibility is that 2) GIA was originally a mistress of HIM but decided she wanted to be a GREY rather than simply destroy the Greys. After all, GIA WAS ALWAYS ABOUT the BEST POSSIBLE life for herself, and she early on wanted that to be with CHRISTIAN. Gia seemingly had similar INTERESTS to Christian and probably saw herself as THE perfect wife for him.

        Gia knew how to play the part, but first Ana and then Christian caught on. (I’m still wondering what GIa tried, because I feel she tried SOMETHING to get Christian to be so anti-Gia.)

        A THIRD POSSIBILITY is that Gia originally worked for the HEAD guy but decided to DEFECT, which did not go well for her. She was captured, interrogated, tortured, and seemingly lost her sanity. BUT Gia was biding her time and got away. SO NOW Gia may be determined to kill Ana herself or ANY NUMBER of possible combinations. And WHY leave her alive in the first place, unless she was REALLY important to one of the players?

        So ANYTHING is possible where Gia is concerned. NOW, I’m just wondering IF she is working for someone OR if she is now the power behind the Conspiracy. (AND if she is the powerhouse NOW, then was she always?)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Leila might have met Gia through Elena….coz she helped her for her trial against Christian

        But I seriously believe it’s nt abt just money fr Gia….all of this plot looks more like a revenge scheme to me rather than greed

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    1. Agreed. And add an Amen.

      BUT WHY is she a witch? AND is this a witch acting on her OWN or under someone’s ORDERS—THAT is the question!

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  1. I WASNT EXPECTING THIS. Was Gia the mastermind all this time? Omfg. I think Christian’s going to be hurt. I would love to see some fluffy hospital time, but please don’t be cruel. They deserve a happy ending.
    Way to go girl 🤯

    Liked by 3 people

      1. My assumption had always been that Kommer was involved somehow, given the MANY security lapses/mistakes and the fact that he was the one guy hired that Taylor hadn’t actually been in the military with. STILL, Tara has a ways of turning things on their head and going for the shocker, no matter how implausible it might FIRST seem. (And yeah, that IS what makes a brilliant writer–making the implausible entirely plausible so that you wonder how you missed it to begin with!)

        The PROBLEM I see now is WHERE EXACTLY IS KOMMER? If he was with Gia, then you think he would have her back. After all, Christian and Ana still outnumber Gia, and even though they wouldn’t want to risk harm to Calliope, if it became clear that Gia was going to kill the baby anyway, then why wouldn’t Christian and Ana try to tackle Gia to the ground? After all, a hurt Calliope is still a LIVING Calliope.

        So if Kommer is NOT present, then is he dead? Or has he been sent to bring someone ELSE up to the penthouse? There are MULTIPLE possibilities here, PARTICULARLY if Gia is now acting on her own rather than with Gresham.

        I mean, it is ENTIRELY within the realm of possible for the Conspiracy to have FINALLY turned against ITSELF, since people are dying once they outlive their usefulness. So why WOULDN’T certain members try to save their lives? Gia ALWAYS was out for Number One, so we don’t know YET if she TURNED AGAINST HIM or is working WITH HIM.

        So Kommer could have actually chosen the WRONG side of the Conspiracy, OR he could have tried to get reinforcements, either for CHristian OR the Conspiracy.

        STILL, for Kommer NOT to be protecting Calliope, it looks bad. I’M STILL HOPING THAT CHRISTIAN’S PLAN B is in place, and that there are MORE people around then we know. Christian may just need to STALL for reinforcements to get there, we just don’t know.

        After all, ANA is our narrator, and Christian was trying to allow Ana as much time as possible to meet her bood demands while he dealt with the Conspiracy. AND MY LAST HOPE is that SAWYER will use his time to WORK on the Conspiracy connections AND will figure out the danger in Escala because of another money transfer or communication sent.

        But Kommer NOT having Gia’s back IF he was working with her does not make sense. So we don’t yet know what angle Kommer is REALLY working and if Gia is still with the Conspiracy or not.

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    1. They obviously expected this….that is y they were able to diffuse Gresham’s plan at d party
      But there’s still d leering ques of d disinterest of police towards this case

      FYI….THE FREED TRAILER JUST RELEASED ND ITS AAMMMMAAAAZZIINNGG!!!!😍😍😍😍

      Like

      1. That was THE trailer. I was falling in love over and over again. How sweet, cute and wonderfull and all the fluffy words you can think of. If I had wanted to see the movie asap, now I am literally dying to see it like… now? 😻

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    1. Tara said outright in the Comments section of a previous chapter that Leila was really dead. But she never made any statements as to Gia OR Elena, to my knowledge.

      So I can’t help but wonder if Elena conspired wtih SOMEONE to get her out. After all, there were A LOT less public ways to dispose of Elena then a RIOT. But a RIOT understandably has confusion and people everywhere, meaning that Elena could have been gotten OUT with all the commotion and a body left in her wake.

      So GIA being alive presents SO MANY options, INCLUDING whether OR NOT she is still involved with the Conspiracy. After all, the Conspiracy MAY have tried to kill her off, but Gia took pains to get herself OUT somehow.

      So we have to see just WHY Gia is there—is it for herself OR for the Conspiracy? Or both?

      And we STILL don’t know just exactly WHO Kommer is working for or if he is alive or dead. After all, if GIA is trying to escape the Conspiracy for good, then it matters whether or not Kommer works for it or Christian.

      So next chapter should give us SOME intel on WHO Gia’s loyalties are to—herself or someone else. AND whether or not she is sane or insane, which greatly alters WHY she may be doing all of this!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not really surprised that it’s Gia. I knew something was going on with her in the beginning with Elliot.

    Looking forward to see the next chapter.

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    1. Yes, Tara was quick to tell us that Leila was really dead, BUT she never commented on Gia, which SHOULD have been a clue.

      But Gia’s EXODUS from Elliot’s still may provide SOME clues. I mean, WHY leave dings in some places and a missing chair? MAYBE Mr. Conspiracy Head’s goons DID come to Elliot’s house, BUT Gia WAS EXPECTING THEM and had some people of her own. AND maybe Gia made a plan to escape and hide OR negotiated something ELSE.

      So I wonder whose side Gia is on? Either she is REALLY important to the real Mr. Conspiracy Head for some reason OR she always intended to turn AGAINST the conspiracy for her OWN gain, sometime down the road.

      But what IS her plan? She is obviously waiting for Christian and Ana for a reason. AND has gotten Calliope as LEVERAGE. Still, she HAS to have an escape plan in mind. Just leaving with the baby would not ensure her ultimate escape, so she MAY be there to offer Christian and Ana PROOF of who IS behind everything IF she gets what SHE wants. And just what that is remains to be seen.

      AND I am wondering if she was the one to get the 10 million. I mean, who ELSE would it be? But if she had 10 million, then why is she there now? She would have all the wealth she could possibly want. So what MORE does she require?

      So I’m wondering if Gia’s plan is her OWN or someone ELSE’s. And what she wants from Christian and Ana. (And there is the morbid possibility that she figures she is a gonner anyway and just wants to take OTHERS with her, but if she had wanted to make Christian and Ana suffer in the worst possible way, then she would have already harmed Calliope. So there HAS to be MORE to her plan than that!)

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      1. I think we were hoping that we would get “this week” chapter on Friday or something. But you know what? Center in doing your best and no presure, we are almost at the end and this way we can extend the story’s life.

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  3. This was too easy! Maybe Gia was the master mind behind this diabolical scheme anyway. I have a feeling she used Gresham for her own advantage to get Ana and Christian all alone tonight. Luke won’t be there for at least an hour so that’s a lot of time to do a lot of harm. It always boils down to a woman wanting what belongs to Ana, Christian’s love attention money power and prestige. They feel like they r so privileged and classy that Ana can’t meet those standards as well. Let’s see how this will end. For me it’s one way only, the bitch must die!!! And I feel the same about the damn rams just like u. My giants lost to them yesterday in the ugliest beat down in the history of the giants 61-17😤.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OR a really smart one. It really IS one or the other, presumably. She is either WITH the Conspiracy, or planning her OWN move and escape. I just want to know which it is.

      Because if she was there JUST for revenge, then Calliope would be dead already, quite frankly. So she WANTS SOMETHING from Christian and Ana. Which comes back to her being either a psycho that still thinks she has a chance in a Grey world OR she is a smart player that wants to guarantee her escape from EITHER the Conspiracy OR Christian’s people.

      So I guess we will know MORE on Gia in a week!

      Like

    1. Yeah, I’m still clinging to the Plan B as well, PARTICULARLY as I can’t see Luke not trying to make contact with Kommer and others.

      For Gia not to have run with Calliope, I feel she wants to TALK. So that WILL give us time. Christian and Ana will hopefully be smart enough to get Gia talking as to her involvement in all of this. AND there is always the possibility that Gia WAS targetted for death by the Conspiracy and survived to run HER OWN plan, KNOWING that the Conspiracy would be blamed for everything. I mean, it is just TOO suspicious that someone from the Conspiracy “suddenly” decided to start talking. AND that Gresham supposedly knew that the “plan” had failed. Gresham’s car was obviously USED as a DECOY. So hopefully SOMEONE put two and two together and assumed that Escala might be a target.

      So I have SO MANY questions. At least it is NECESSARY for Christian and Ana to keep Gia talking, so we will hopefully get some answers next chapter. If Gia wanted JUST revenge, she could have had it and then some by disposing of Callie. So her presence there is because SHE still requires something MORE from Christian and Ana. Definitely to be continued. . . .

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  4. Wow! So Gia is alive and kicking. Could Elena be alive too? I was thinking that Ana being a markswoman could shoot Gia, if Christian could get Callie from her arms, but it’s too dangerous so I’ll leave that to Luke or other security, although I don’t think there’s anyone else. Where’s Kommer? Did Gia shot him too or is he part of the scheme? Could Ana get into the security room and call Luke and 911 or did Gia saw her already, is there a silent alarm she can trigger? If Gia is one of the heads of the scheme, who was the man that called Ana after her graduation and expected her to recognize him? The one who told her that Leila was dead. Oh my! I think I’m giving up guessing. This story is getting better and better, I truly can’t wait for the next update, thank you Tara.

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  5. Was not expecting that Gia id fuck her up if i was Ana. Kommer has to be the one to let her in the poor nanny. Brillant as always Tara love it would you believe i started reading ADSOF yeaterday ive lost track of how many times now. Till next week cant wait. Torik hasnt reviewd yet dying to see what her tame is on this….

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    1. I have so many theories at this point that it is hard to know where to begin. If GIA is alive, then WHY? I mean, you would figure that she WAS targetted for termination. AND she may HAVE been, for all we know, and figured out a way to SURVIVE.

      Which may mean that Gia is at Escala for HER OWN agenda rather than the Conspiracy’s agenda. So it remains to be seen WHAT exactly it is that Gia wants?

      And we STILL don’t know WHO the person is that took the PHOTOS and is Jane Doe. Because THAT person was involved WAY back when ELENA was still in the picture and hoping to separate Christian and Ana.

      So JANE DOE is a player, and it may OR MAY NOT be Gia. AND that is important, since that person was part of a group going after Christian WAAAAYYYY before Elena’s downfall. AND PRESUMABLY before GRESHAM had a reason to go after Christian!!!

      So MORE THAN ONE conspiracy may be involved at this point. AND it MAY be possible that Elena IS still alive. After all, making everyone BELIEVE she is dead would allow Elena to plan things behind the scenes AND MAKE HER A PLAYER again, after all. AND GRESHAM would be likely to throw in with ELENA, rather than someone else, PARTICULARLY if Gresham were now a target!

      So there are SO MANY possibilities at this point.

      It still comes down to WHO is behind the INITIAL Conspiracy. AND if there are OTHERS at work trying to cash in on the Conspiracy as well.

      So GIA’S LOYALTIES are highly SIGNIFICANT at this point. She is either trying to ESCAPE this whole thing alive OR is still being controlled by someone ELSE. I can’t see Gia being BEHIND the whole INITIAL conspiracy, but she may have her OWN agenda AND people to back that up.

      So what we REALLY need to know is JUST HOW DID GIA GET INVOLVED IN ALL THIS TO BEGIN WITH? And WHO is her loyalty to NOW? Same goes for KOMMER as well.

      Because Kommer COULD have been part of the Conspiracy and been part of a plan involving Escala and Calliope that Gia just blew to the realm of Hades and back. OR Kommer could be working WITH Gia. Or Not. We JUST DON’T KNOW YET.

      But for Kommer NOT to be in that nursery right now IS telling. Either he realized Gia had the baby and he needed to get word out, OR he was killed, OR he is working WITH Gia OR someone else. So we just have to wait and see.

      (But for Gia to not have harmed Calliope at this point, then she presumably had a REASON to be waiting around for Christian and Ana. The amount of blood from the nanny indicates that she got into Escala some time ago, so if she had just come to harm the baby and leave, then she presumably could have done that already. SO GIA HAS ANOTHER ANGLE that she wants to play. OR she is insane and wants Christian and Ana present before she does further carnage. We just have to wait and see.)

      But the WAY Gia left from Elliot’s makes me think that she, like Leila, had an Exit Plan. Only Gia’s was somehow more successful. So makes me REALLY want to know whether or not Gia is working with anyone at this point.

      (I mean, for all we know, Gia and Kommer developed a thing while Gia was undercover for teh Conspiracy, and they now have an escape plan that requires Christian.)

      AFTER ALL, if Mr. Conspiracy Head REALLY tried to KILL GIA PREVIOUSLY, then Gia has as much of a reason to see the Conspiracy caught as well. BUT due to her involvement, she would NOT get out scott free UNLESS she somehow made a deal with Christian, with her escape being the price. AND Gia got GRESHAM to go along wtih her or forward her money in exchange for supposedly helping with THE plan. So GIA may actually have A DEAL to suggest to Christian and Ana thta allows her to disappear into the night in exchange for everything necessary to find teh REAL HIM behind the Conspiracy. Which would give Gia revenge as well for HIS trying to end her as well. SIGH. We just have to wait until next week.

      But there may be MORE than just ONE conspiracy afoot at this point! After all, if ALL your confederates get marked for termination, wouldn’t YOU switch sides in order to stay alive?

      Like

  6. Geez they were finally see light at the end of the tunnel when it all goes to shit again. Wait Ana is just in her bra and panties since she stepped out of her dress. Well she in bloody bra and panties. So Gia was part of the plan all along or did she just get suckered into this mess? Does she know that Gresham has been caught? How the hell are they going to get out of this one? They told Luke to give them an hour! That’s too long? Where the hell is Kommer the security for Callie? Is he in it too or is he dead?

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  7. Reading this chapter for some reason I keep thinking Mia might still be hiding something but now I see that it was Gia all along… Shocker….see u next week.

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    1. And WHERE do his loyalties lie? SOMEONE seemingly leaked the plan, and the automatic assumption is Kommer. YET Kommer did NOT want to be left alone at Escala with the baby and nanny. WHY, if that was the plan all along? SOMETHING does not yet add up.

      The Double Whammy on Carla’s house never truly made sense to me. After all, if Mr. Conspiracy Head had just wanted to eliminate Isaac and other loose ends, he could have waited until Isaac got back with Carla. You almost seemingly have the Conspiracy splitting off into different endgames, and I just want to get the REAL Head or Heads identified. And learn WHAT the original end game was and learn WHY things have seemingly changed.

      AND if a PLAN B that Christian previously discussed is still in motion. And IF Luke tries to get in touch with Kommer and FAILS to get him. Or DOES get him and becomes suspicious??? There are SO MANY possibilities!

      But I can’t see Gia ALONE being able to overpower Kommer UNLESS she slipped into the apartment, shot the nanny after getting Calliope from her, which then left Kommer UNABLE to shoot at Gia without endangering the baby. So he was ordered to go to the panic room and lock himself inside. OR was just shot. But then WHY would Gia STAY in the apartment, if she had Calliope and had accomplished her task?

      So there are SO MANY QUESTIONS, but the KEY to all of them really IS where is Kommer at this time? Because that should seemingly answer whether or not he IS really working for the Conspiracy or not. OF COURSE, that is ASSUMING that GIA is still with the Conspiracy and not on some plan of revenge all her own. . . .

      Like

  8. When the car took off at the event, I knew then that there was a double-cross.

    I am admittedly irritated that Luke and Christian fell for the subterfuge so easy. NO ONE has talked, and SUDDENLY, someone is willing to tell you THE WHOLE PLAN for the party? And then, the CAR TAKES OFF when you get there? OBVIOUSLY, the resources are meant to CHASE the car, which Gresham probably wasn’t even IN!

    I am surprised at how NOT shocked I am by Gia’s appearance. After all, THE GUY THAT called Ana at graduation made sure to leave her something from Leila AND to tell her that Leila was dead.

    But we have heard NOTHING about Gia. NO CLUES, just Gia’s sudden “disappearance” and obvious clues that SOMETHING had happened.

    (And let’s face it, I KNEW Tara would have AT LEAST one more heck of a shocker for us. And boy, did she EVER DELIVER! –By the by, Tara, the chapter was TOTALLY worth the extra week wait!)

    Leave it to Tara to now make EVERYTHING a possibility—like others, I have been ASSUMING that Kommer was in on it. NOW, I think ANY assumption we make could be overturned.

    So, POSSIBILITIES now:

    1) I always said that whoever was following Ana WAY back when and releasing those damaging photos at JUST the right time was an extra clever person that knew JUST how to play on Christian’s weaknesses. SO I always ASSUMED it was Elena OR Isaac.

    NOW, we have to ask if GIA has been on this case for a WHOLE lot longer than we EVER had a means of knowing.

    We NEED to know WHO was taking those photos. That person is DEFINITELY a player in all this. So WAS it GIA?

    IS Elena really DEAD? I mean, at this point, that “riot” could have been a means to get Elena OUT of prison.

    2) What PART does Gia play currently?

    Sadly, there ARE other possibilities that actually HAVE been used in other fanfiction stories. Gia COULD have been a victim of sex-trafficking that was broken by HIM (either Gresham or whoever ELSE is involved).

    Gia’s “disappearance” could be because she was held in somebody’s basement and “punished” for who knows how long–maybe even since she was kidnapped. I mean, Gresham was obviously a sicko that used his wealth to maintain his power, BUT his PANIC over Mia has ALWAYS said to me that he is NOT the ACTUAL HEAD of all of this.

    So Gresham could have been instructed to “break” Gia, and if horrible things HAVE been happening to her, then it will NOT lessen her hatred of Ana in the LEAST. In fact, she will probably BLAME Ana even more, since if Ana had been taken or broken when they INITIALLY tried, then what happened to GIa might not have happened.

    So we come back to wondering what IS Gia’s part in all of this? Because the OTHER possibility is that she has been running this whole thing since who knows when. STILL, if Gia could ALWAYS have had access to so much money and power, then WHY did she need CHRISTIAN? Or Elliot? Or any other Grey?

    So there is definitely MORE to Gia. Are we dealing with a shrewd, controlling, Elena-like Gia OR a broken psychotic mess that only wants revenge on those she blames for CAUSING everything to be ruined for her?

    3) Is Kommer good or bad?

    My supposition has always been that Kommer was on THEIR side, not ours. BUT, since Tara goes for the SHOCK value, then Kommer may not be bad after all. Kommer seemingly did NOT want to be left at the penthouse with the baby? WHY? And WHERE is Kommer now?

    Gia is with Calliope. So either Kommer let it happen, OR he is dead or wounded and unconscious now.

    And HOW would Gia have killed BOTH the nanny AND Kommer? Not really possible alone, ESPECIALLY since Kommer would have been armed. And how ELSE did Gia get into Escala? You want to ASSUME that someone had to let her in, but we already know how much Escala had been compromised, AND GIA PREVIOUSLY MADE SURE TO BE IN ESCALA AS MUCH AS SHE COULD GET AWAY WITH, so Gia undoubtedly planted a “secondary” system to ensure she was never kept out of Escala.

    But even if Gia had a full-proof way of getting into Escala, HOW would she overpower Kommer? AND Gresham OR WHOEVER is REALLY in charge KNEW the whole plan and KNEW to drive the car away as a DECOY. SO WHO ELSE could it have been BUT KOMMER?

    BUT YOU WOULD THINK that Kommer would be GUARDING Gia if he was helping her. After all, Christian and Ana still make 2 to 1.

    4) UUmmmm Luke?

    Seriously, BASIC security protocols dictate that you VERIFY that the apartment is SECURE before you leave Ana and Christian to fornicate on every available surface.

    So either Luke DID verify from KOMMER that the apartment was “fine” or what the heck??????

    I’m just shocked that everyone ASSUMED that once Gresham’s car was taken, that it was all over. I mean, REALLY???? You still have a female out there with 10 million—WHY part with SO MUCH MONEY, UNLESS YOU HAD ANOTHER PLAN????? The 10 million was a DEAD GIVEAWAY that THEY had a FAR better “Plan B,” especially when someone “started to talk.”

    LUKE is the key here. SURELY, Luke will try to verify from KOMMER that everything is okay in the apartment. I’m hoping that will mean that Luke will FIGURE OUT that something is seriously WRONG.

    BUT there is ALWAYS the possibility that Gia has now STOPPED the elevator from coming to the penthouse. AFTER ALL, Gia would NOT want to find herself CORNERED. She had to have used the elevator previously to get in. SO SHE MUST have power/a device that allows her to control the elevator.

    I REFUSE to believe that Luke is the bad guy. He has helped Christian and Ana FAR too many times in the past. But I AM surprised thta Luke was so willing to think it was ALL over, given that AT LEAST some female was still out there.

    5) It has ALWAYS come down to a LINCOLN previously. Elena has always been behind the attempted takedowns of Christian in the past. But LUKE and ANA beat her last time. And REVEALED her involvement. BUT Elena feared others too, like Gresham, and SOMEONE still knew how to work ELENA’S buttons, since the MANUSCRIPT was written.

    So I still keep expecting ANDREW LINCOLN to show up.

    6) There are a few scenarios that I can come up with, but nothing seemingly explains EVERYTHING.

    I can see Gia, with her blond hair and Elena-like ways being Andrew’s mistress that he sent in originally. BUT Gia “disappointed” him in not being able to take down Ana, AND Gia suddenly seemed to get aspirations of actually BECOMING a Grey, one way or another.

    So Andrew had Gia captured and chained up in a basement somewhere, probably by Gresham.

    But when Gia FINALLY managed to escape, she was JUST as interested in blaming it all on Christian as Andrew was. So you have THAT possibility.

    7) HOWEVER the ULTIMATE OTHER POSSIBILITY comes down to the 2 DIFFERENT ATTACKS on Carla’s place. There just WASN’T a reason for the very PUBLIC shooting that got the FBI involved.

    So it almost SEEMS like there are now 2 DIFFERENT SIDES coming after Christian and Ana, each for their OWN reasons.

    So I want to know more about that very PUBLIC riot at Elena’s prison. THAT was not in keeping with HIS original design of making people “disappear” in FAR less conspicuous ways. It would have been FAR easier to have a guard POISON Elena or make it look like Elena hung herself. WHY go to all the trouble of staging a PRISON RIOT??? In all the confusion, Elena could always have been smuggled OUT and a body left in her place.

    So you could conceivably have 2 SIDES that hate Christian and be coming after him.

    8) Back to KOMMER. —I find it VERY INTERESTING that he was trying to present MULTIPLE theories and possible decoys to DIVIDE the search.

    BUT THE FACT IS that Kommer is seemingly RIGHT, and finding that female person in possession of the ten million is VERY important, in that THAT PERSON has been involved EVEN DURING A TIME WHEN ELENA STILL HOPED TO CONTROL CHRISTIAN from afar.

    So Elena was STILL working with Christian when THAT PERSON was taking photos of Ana, MEANING THAT A CONSPIRACY was seemingly in the works FAR longer than Gresham’s plan.

    AFTER ALL, Gresham was STILL USING THE CLUB at that time and had not even yet gone after Mia! SO THAT NOW SEEMS TO PROVE that someone OTHER THAN GRESHAM has been plotting AGAINST Christian and Ana.

    Which means a PLAN was in place BEFORE Elena was ever even intended to be recruited!

    So EVEN if Kommer HAS been compromised, WE DON’T yet know WHICH SIDE actually employs him, ESPECIALLY if EACH conspiracy wants to be the one to come out on top!

    FINAL THOUGHTS:

    So this seemingly new development brings up SO MANY OTHER possibilities, INCLUDING where Gia’s REAL loyalties lie!

    My head is quite boggled at this time. You can’t assume ANYTHING (unless you have seen the body and received the verified DNA proof that it is really WHO it purports to be).

    But I had admittedly wondered WHY Mr. Conspiracy Head had ONLY mentioned LEILA’s death and NOT Gia’s to Ana. BUT Gia had seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. Which she could NOT do UNLESS someone had PAID HER and/or was keeping her at some undisclosed location.

    But it was CLEAR that Christian was MEANT to hear of “Gresham’s plan” for the party. AND that Gresham’s CAR was a DECOY.

    I just hope thta Christian and Luke REALLY had thought abuot this possibility and have a PLAN B in place. But you KNOW THAT they obviously were NOT expecting Gia to get to Calliope. AND KOMMER DID NOT want to be left at Escala with Calliope. But IF he was in on Gia’s plan, then Escala would have been EXACTLY where he wanted to be. So WHERE is Kommer NOW, and WHO does he actually work for?

    (And I can’t imagine Gia wanting Calliope. So what is the angle there?)

    Yep, this chapter was DEFINITELY worth the extra week’s wait. AND I’m now dying for NEXT WEEK’S Chapter!!!!!! I’m actually rather enjoying knowing that ANYTHING is possible!

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  9. Yep, it seemingly ALL comes down to figuring out WHAT SIDE is GIA and KOMMER on at this point?

    After all, if Gia WAS captured before and has NOW escaped, she may be after Calliope for INSURANCE purposes to GUARANTEE she lives.

    OR Gia is there under the DIRECT instruction of Mr. Conspiracy Head, whoever HE may truly be.

    Gia ALWAYS struck me as someone doing everything for Numero Uno, HERSELF. She seemed to be trying to manipulate the best possiblity for HERSELF. Either that is true, OR she is more twisted even then Elena!

    I have absolutely LOVED that Tara has always written such strong female characters. I mean, Ros has always been someone that KNEW what she wanted and how to get it HERSELF. Same with Ana. Kate, too, weathered some absolute horrors that would have broken others.

    So I’m interested to see if someone has been dangling Gia’s strings OR if Gia has been playing all sides against one another.

    ANYTHING is still possible. INCLUDING what side KOMMER may be on. I’m intrigued to learn where Kommer is and whether or not he is still alive.

    Gia was seemingly waiting around for Christian and Ana, so I assume she will tell us her part in all of this in the next chapter.

    (AND just makes you wonder at the EXTREME possibility of Gia and Carter working together. After all, Carter was made to look like a hero, yet he seemingly only got a slight wound when everyone ELSE got far more. But if Carter hoped to break up Elliot and Kate through that action, it failed. BUT Carter was left with Ray and Taylor at the hospital, so I’M HOPING that Taylor and Ray figured things out and have monitored Carter’s communications! Particularly as to WHY his family didn’t show up!)

    So there are just SO MANY possibilities out there that Gia’s being alive opens up! And Gia did NOT kill Calliope, so if REVENGE were her only motive, then that WOULD have been her response. So MORE is at play here, and I’m looking forward to seeing just WHAT it is. AND whether Gia is still a PART of the conspiracy or NOT. After all, Gia always tried to look out for HERSELF first, and she would be a loose end needing disposed of if she DID still think of herself as with the Conspiracy.

    For Gia NOT to have been killed, she had a role still to play. Hhhhhmmmmmm.

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  10. WOW! When the chair turned around, I really expected it to be Elena — except I think Christian would have recognized her voice before she turned around. (No one ever verified that Elena was killed, so I think she is still alive. I think she was spirited out of the jail during the riot, probably by a guard, and is likely being held prisoner by the conspirator, and may not even know that Isaac has been killed.)

    I never believed Gresham was the real conspirator, because I couldn’t see any reason for him to hate Christian so much. And if he was only after money, he could have easily embezzled it all and disappeared before anyone suspected anything.

    I don’t distrust Kommer; I think he’s been tricked or knocked out.

    Who phoned Luke just as Christian and Ana got out of the car? Could be Mrs. Jones if she’s trapped in the panic room. Could be Welch with some important update or something he saw on the Escala security feed. Or could just be Hsu with an update re Gresham, who might be dead in his apartment rather than barricaded.

    Too many possibilities; it’s giving me a headache. I’m going to just try to keep myself from running through “solutions” until Tara gives us some more clues. (I just hope Ana gets some clothes on before Luke or anyone else breaks in and sees her in her bra and panties, or Christian will have a fit!)

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    1. Quite frankly, I kept expecting it to be Elena as well.

      I mean, in the prison conversation with Elena, she made it clear that she gave the names of people to Mr. Conspiracy Head to use. AND Elena SAID that she KNEW BETTER than to try to tempt Christian with anyone, as that would NEVER work. YET GIA seemingly thought she could try to get Christian away from Ana.

      I somehow can’t even IMAGINE Elena and Gia working together. After all, BOTH want the same thing–Christian and all that comes with him. Elena would NOT want to compete with anyone else or worry that they could try to push her out.

      But Gia’s temper and immaturity seemingly made her a character incapable of pulling off something major on Elena’s level of manipulation. YET we now have a seemingly fine Gia who has outsmarted everyone, gotten into Escala, AND gotten baby Calliope. (AND we don’t yet know how many bullets are left in her gun since we don’t know Kommer’s status yet.)

      Because at this point, I could see Elena and Isaac having arranged to get her out of prison RATHER than wait around for Elena to be killed. BUT IT WOULD TAKE AN ALLIANCE with some important people to pull that off. AND that could also be the reason that ISAAC got targeted thereafter.

      But you are right that there are too many possibilities at this point, particularly if Elena is NOT dead. I’m just hoping that GIA TALKS and tells us who, if anyone, that she is working for NOW. OR if she is behind her OWN plot OR if she took over the Conspiracy.

      Because it is entirely plausible that Gia was playing Gresham, as well. And that GIA took out Elena, fearing Elena really would reveal who all was involved THAT ELENA KNEW ABOUT.

      Elena always ASSUMED that she could cease control. AND that she knew all the players.

      Gia seemingly took herself out of the game AND disappeared so effectively that it appeared she must be dead. AND BECAUSE OF THAT, NO ONE would be looking for her or expecting her appearance.

      But if it was MONEY that Gia wanted, then she would have it already. If it was REVENGE that she wanted, then she pretty much could have had that, too, for SO MUCH LESS exposure/risk to herself. So she wants something ELSE. So Christian is right to ask WHAT SHE REALLY WANTS.

      Just wow. So many possibilities. And yeah, it makes sense that Gia could have snuck up on Kommer first and knocked him out. AND the nanny had tried, during the meantime, to escape with Calliope and was then killed for it by Gia.

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  11. Omg! I also thought that was Elena who was in the chair! Gia! Then again we also don’t know if Elena is really dead. What the heck happened to Kommer?! Is he in with the Conspirator?! I can’t wait for next Monday!

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  12. Well did not see that coming! Though when Ana wore that Alexander McQueen dress it did make me think of Gia immediately and that whole dress debacle as that was the dress Ana was meant to wear originally before Gia tried to be a pretentious bitch to Ana always trying to undermine Ana’s relationship with Christian by making that scene in the store that Christian had bought her the dress that Ana ended up wearing to prove a point. While Christian had bought all the ladies in his family’s circle dresses she had to make it look like he’d bought her a special dress and no one else and because Christian felt he owed It to Elliot to be nice to her as Elliot had asked him to and Christian felt after all Elliot had done since he felt Kate had been accepted more by the family and Gia felt left out, when Christian did not indulge Gia after she behaved so poorly to Kate and therefore Ana at the dress shop the writing was starting to write itself on the walls. After, Elliot suspected her having an affair it was smart on Gia’s part to potentially fake or look like foul play had occurred when she went missing. I still think Gresham was just another flunky and essentially another scapegoat. but I do wonder if Leila and Elena for that matter are still alive it was convenient to make whoever was doing all of this to make everyone think it was some scary Dom man who didn’t follow the rules of BDSM amd that was an easy sell to scare stupid Mia into us all thinking it was someone from the bar which of course it was as in Gresham and he of courseconfronted her into thinking he was Mr.C. I always said that I had doubted that Mia really knew who was behind it all, it was so easy to get her to believe it was Gresham and by default us as readers when he confronted her at the ice cream shop and we all know it could have been anyone sending the flowers and those photos of targets on her family’s back but her believing it to be Gresham. It’s almost laughable because Mia is technically a child but she is trying to act like an adult but is so naive partly due to Grace trying to be her friend and constantly modicoddling her all the time and indulging her every whim even when she’s been bad. Even Carrick acting all tough and trying to force her into Harvard still treated her like a princess he didn’t do anything to punish her behaviour as far as I am concerned Mia not coming forward still pisses me off and she has blood on her hands, because for someone so scared she still knew how to use a credit card and keep partying I.e Ana’s Hens do. Even when Mia was pretending to work at that restaurant and lying to everyone when Christian worked it out and they suspected she was using drugs because of the area not realising it was where Elena’s club was, Mia did that Mummy can I watch the fireworks with you after spoiling everyone holiday weekend. Gah Mia annoys me to know end and it’s like Mia if you were a grown up you would know Gresham was not acting alone given all the things she knew what did she expect to happen, thatt Gresham could manage to pull off all these incidents by himself?

    Even when Elena tried to force her to do things she didn’t want to do Mia was only ever indifferent to Gia because again spoilt Mia wanted Kate and Elliot to be together because she had her ‘big sister’ that she always wanted and as much as I hated/hate Gia, Gia was actually nice to Mia. Mia has away of acting a spoilt princess, a scared little girl and be a normal bitchy teenage girl very quickly but usually when she wants something.

    I wonder if Kommer is dead, of course we’ve all been umming and arghing if he’s involved but since Christian made him stay doesn’t mean it was planned. Because Elliot being the stupid idiot he has always been kept giving Gia the codes even after Ana made it very clear she didn’t like her just waltzing into her family home even prior to that when Gia usurped herself into the Grey’s lives, when Carrick was ill and she started doing weird stalker behaviour like picking up Christian’s dry cleaning this gave her plenty of time to scope the Penthouse, Grave and Carrick’s family home and Christian ana Ana’s new home when they fond security had benn compromisesd and of course being in Elliot’s life she was able to have free range at Grey House until Christian told her to get stuffed because he didn’t meet with middle management when Ana made herself clear she didn’t like how inappropriate Gia was towards Christian and they were just leaving Christian’s office after some afternoon delight and didn’t Gia make the comment that was Ana going to in the meeting because clearly she saw that as alone time with Christian and then added arent you early or something like that and Ana replied something on the lines I can come home anytime I live here what’s it to you? If I remember it was around this time Gia had started to loose her importance in the Grey family after Christian basically told her to piss of when she kept trying to run with him and she kept pushing at the hospital and Christian had a go and Eliiot got annoyed with him and then of course when Elliot acted like a total teenage girl at the dinner when Ray had returned home from service and accused Gia of having an affair, that was so embarrassing god I’ll say it again Grace and Carrick managed even the way Christian had behaved by always demanding things be paid for and his attitude etc as well they managed to raise collectively three of the most incredibly rude, spoilt and bad mannered children on the planet adopted or not. I remember that fight Elliot had with Gia and it was so embarrassing that this man who has just spent three years in hell while keeping the western world safe and most likely seeing the reality of the terrors of war had to deal with a grown man’shissy fit and I think Carrick just laughed and went it wouldn’t be a family dinner if one of my kids didn’t storm off. It’s like who are you people? Talk about manner from Stone Age.

    Also, I know Elliot is seen as the likeable funny guy who tried to keep his family together which was admirable, he always still shits me because he is just so juvenile all the time. The constant cat callling and crudness, Elliot always being the big mouth doofus gossip that he always is she would have had pretty much given all the information Gia needed basically served to her on a silver platter or in Elliot case a pizza box; Elliot may as well of written a manual for Gia into inserting herself into Christian and Ana’s life effectively. How to infiltrate a Billionaire and his highly qualified security easy bang his stupid brother senseless and he will tell you anything for probably less then a blow job. When things did start to get strange and dangerous Christian had every right as did Ana whothey let have free access into their home and Elliot after being told not to gove her the codes kept opening his big mouth and he wanted to fight Christian about it I remember when he wanted to perform a background check on her. Sorry I know everyone wants to know why and how etc. It over the course of this story I have really gottten into why certain characters gove me the shits. I just always thought it was rude that Elliot disrespected Christian and Ana”s personal space as did most of the Grey’s who would just turn up and not bother to knock – well as much as you can knock on a Pemthouse Elevator door! But it even though on the surface Gia was doing nice things while Carrick was I’ll he didn’t even ask Christian or Ana if it was ok to come and go as she pleases and while I’m still raking my brain for motivation it’s pretty clear that she was able to compromise their security systems all while pretending to fetch dry cleaning, even when Christian thought of her at least to checked because only few people could access the Penthouse, 8n hindsight it would have made sense at keast to eliminate her if she was accidentally passing information without knowing.

    One question, when Leila got that phone call I am disappointed in you after she lost the court case was it Gia this whole time as I think like most people did at the time it was Elena.

    Though, of course the biggest question is why? I to think Elena is alive and someone made the comment is Gia, Elena’s long Lost kid? I wouldn’t past anything at this juncture of the final stretch but why, why, why and why? Even though Leila of course was a ruthless angry bitch her anger was I feel about her fantasy affectiviy being quashed and she was if I can’t have him then no one can, but once things became bloody she wanted out, again unless she is also still alive but then all these bitches who are still pining over Christian and prepared to kill anyone that gets in their way well they are gonna have to turn on each other eventually, it’s like Game of Thrones and only one bitch can sit on Christian’s golden throne 🧝🏻‍♂️. Now it’s motivation does Gia think after everything she has done Christian will want to sail into the sunset with his and Ana’s baby pretending as if nothing ever happened and play happy families.

    At one point I did think Gia actually loved Elliot or was prepared to have him if she couldn’t have Christian as she was equally catty towards Kate and knew deep down Eliot might be a tad classless but he’s still wealthy again not Christian wealthy but she’d never be hurting and she’d reap anyways from Christian’s generosity. However, I guess in the end prestige and power sometimes is more important than just even being wealthy the idea of having prestige and power sometimes is more important than just even being wealthy having one of the youngest most private and elusive bachelors and a billionaire at such a young age and being also self-made may be the catalyst of why he was more appealing over Elliot. However, there is more to this and I’m not sure what but I do think Elena is still potentially alive and Gia clearly used Elliott to get to Christian but usually psychotics types can never keep a level head. Though I do think she got genuinely shitty with Kate because again she knew she was again second fiddle to another woman. Women like Gia don’t like being second even if it’s pretend.

    I’ll be interested at what the plan B situation is as I think this will calm things quicker as I think if Kommer was was up to something he would’ve been discovered by now. I just hope nothing happens to Calliope. It does baffle me that it was a Skelton team with security and isn’t it protocol to sweep a place before Christian and Anago anywhere, let’s face it we all know whoever masterminded this whole situation didn’t do it alone it was callous to assume Gresham was cornered but I think you have something up your sleeve!

    Great chapter as always.

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  13. I thought she has left the building but no she’s back with vengeance. Hate that she has the upper hand with Calliope and a gun. Keep Callie safe as well Ana and Christian. Thanks, Tara, just amazing and frightening. Look forward. Xoxo daytona

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  14. Gia just disappeared and back when the right oppurtunity came. Her main aim was Christian all along and didn’t she have a client she was spending so much time before and who was he. Elena must still be alive too since her death was not confirmed. Who is going to stop Gia. I assume she will not harm Christian since he is her price, and she will likely follow and obey him. Christian’s main focus now though is protecting Calliope. So whatever follows, I will wait for until Monday. Thank you very much, Tara.
    The Freed trailer editing and condensing was more meticulously done this time than Darker, so more was able to fit in. Saved the best for last.

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  15. “Expect the unexpected because life is full of surprises. Things that you can’t prevent from happening because they’re meant to happen.”
    ~Melchor Lim
    “God put us here, on this carnival ride. We close our eyes never knowing where it’ll take us next.”
    ~ Carrie Underwood

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  16. Holy shit!!! I did not see that coming! This has to be part of the plan, did the guy just leave everyone on a wild goose chase again? Gia always wanted Christian, so is he that he is after and killing Ana is the plan? What about Callie?

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  17. Gia? Oh my…you got me!!!! I just can’t wait to see how this progresses. Pins and needles here. You are a fabulous writer!

    I appreciate you naming the baby Calliope….that was the name my husband and I wanted to use for our daughter but you know, we shared the name with family and friends before she was born and not one person liked it. We were young and caved to the pressure and came up with another name and I love it, please don’t get me wrong…but Calliope is a sentimental name for me so thanks for using it!!!

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      1. Oh that’s a shame…my husband was on board until you know, that darn peer pressure..family pressure and four grandparent’s side eye at us.

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  18. Why do I have the feeling Ray and his fellow Rangers have been added to Security with their special skills?!!! They foiled the perfect scheme to kidnap Ana and Christian. And my dear Luke, working every job and angle to locate the recent money lead. Me thinks Gia is Alexis.
    Please don’t tell me Gia is the brains behind this mess. And where is Kommer? And why murder poor Ava, the nanny? Luke isn’t expected back for an hour. All hell is about to break loose when Christian confronts Gia. Luke and Ray: needed at Escala.

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  19. Oh I had a gut feeling that something horrible was going to happen to Ava and Calli, but I was hoping that I was wrong. I just didn’t like the idea of leaving them alone with one security guard, especially Kommer. A big lapse in judgement on Christine and Ana’s part. Why would they leave their baby alone with the nanny (given the lack of security) amidst all the shit that’s going on at present. Which stupid parents do that? They should have taken Calli to Bellevue, at least she would have been safer there. I really hope nothing bad happens to Calli. Poor child has been through so much since her existence in this cruel world. No child should have to live in danger at such a young age.
    How the hell did Gia gain entry into Escala? Did she still have the codes? Maybe that’s why Luke received the phone call. Please Tara don’t let anything bad happen to Baby Calli!

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      1. I agree I don’t think Ana and Christian would think Calliope wouldn’t be safe with a Nanny, a trained security guard and a Penthouse with security like Fort Knox!

        As I mentioned in my reply for this chapter Gia had free range of the Penthouse because Elliot had given her the codes when she was being like the perfect super girlfriend by doing everything for the family when Carrick was sick, she also had access to Grey Mansion and to GEH to some extent. Ana was still at Harvard when she made the comment why does Gia have the codes when Gia was all like ‘oh Christian and I have the same dry cleaners, I thought I’d pick his dry cleaning up’ so Gia was able to gain god know what intel besides probably planting things she was actually physically there a lot. It wasn’t until Ana put her foot down that she want comfortable. Remember Gia would come to the Penthouse to use the gym with Christian. Gia had heaps of time to scope the place out. Also Elliot and Christian got into it when Christian wanted to background check Gia and even after she was revoked the security codes stupid Elliot thought he had a right to give them back to Gia against Ana’s wishes. So even when he was told not to he just assumed she’s my girlfriend she’s no threat. Just because it’s your brothers girlfriend doesn’t mean she should be allowed to come and go as she please – plus I’d never just invite myself in even if I knew they were home manners dictates at least a phone call or telling someone she’s coming up even if she let the front desk know.

        It all makes partial sense how the hell did Gia know which dry cleaners Christian used? I can’t imagine given Christian’s current wealth he was dropping off his own dry cleaning after all that’s what people like Gail/Andrea etc are for he pays people to do these things, plus it’s a gross infiegment on the dry cleaners part to let her take it. I know it sounds stupid that it’s dry cleaning but it’s like she could be anyone! It’s just making more sense how would she know these things.

        It also makes sense the hostility Gia had towards Kate it was more then just the ex-girlfriend jealousy- it was because Gia knew the longer she was with Elliot the more access she had to Christian and if anyone was going to break them up it would be Eliott going back to Kate hence as Ana’s baby shower which was so classless on Gia’s part when she made the comment ‘I thought inlynfamilu were coming’ when they were going to see the surprise Christian had for the nursery, um Gia – Kate helped organise the baby shower and is Ana’s best friend! Gia also made that comment that she thought Ana was little rich girl who had everything handed to her when we all know Ana’s journey to Harvard was anything but easy. Ana got into Harvard because she was smart but she had to rely on I believe partial scholarships and of course Ray sacrificing his life to pay for her tuition, plus she worked in the library even when she was still with Chistian after they got back together. If anything Ana has shown what it’s really like to have nothing and make something out of yourself and not expect a free ride.

        I know someone mentioned about Gia wanted the life Elena scorned and while that’s obvious when she made the comment to Carrick she just wanted to do charity work and help the poor as a calling (insert vommit face) perhaps that’s what Gia thought being a wife of a billlionaire entailed. Even, though Jack Hyde was still creepy he still made the point that he was disappointed in Ana because she had more to offer the publishing world but if she wasn’t careful she would become just like half the woman in the room – trophy wives. Elena’s path to becoming a trophy wife may have been out of the pure need at the time but the sexism that’s exists in our society where it’s ok for a man to be overtly sexual but if a woman dares to do it she is blackballed. But Ellena still managed to use her trophy wife status to her advantage and as much as Elena had an awful childhood she obviously liked the BDSM world and continued to practice while married to Andrew and manipulate Christian when he made his own money – then she made a living from it.

        I did say at one point that we all assumed Mr C was a man but nobody again would assume that it could be a woman. We were all to caught up with the obvious players to assume that a woman could be the mastermind in all of this – and let’s face it, if it really is Gia like it’s looking like it is then she has played an excellent game of manipulation. Though given she started with Elliot it wasn’t too hard because he isn’t the brightest when it comes to it, except in his work but Elliot had still a lot of growing up to do and I get it he is still only young himself and at this stage in his life he just want to be watch football and eat a bowl of chicken wings in his trackie dacks and bang his girlfriend at this point in life. Elliott is a simple creature his needs are not very decloped. Even Kate misread the signs (a bit arrogantly IMO) that he would propose in Hawaii because they had been together 3 years and just assumed he wanted the next step and even though Elliott reasons I agree with him he just wants to just be I.e travel when he wants and it jave responsibilities especially after everything his family has been through, Elliot lost a lot of his own college experience because Grace again not doing her job as mother sent him to basically spy on Christian for her several weekend a month which now I think about it makes me really mad at her again. Though Elliot was happy to do it because his Mum had asked him to do it and deep down I think Elliot would do anything Grace asked of him because essentially she has saved them all and given them a family when he could have been another statistics on the unwanted children of parents who don’t use birth control. But the constant travel back and fourth to Standford and Harvard and then when shit hit the fan again it was left to Elliot to do what Grace and Carrick should have been doing as parents to make things between them and Christian right not Elliot. So it’s no wonder when Gia turns up despite all her weird health kicks and drinking ou clear fluids etc she did what ever Elliot wanted to make him happy and was there for him when Carrick looked like he was going to die. Because let’s face it Gia was completely the opposite of Kate in areas of compatibility as Elliot and Kate liked to do outdoorsy things and as much as Kate loved to shop she liked to ski both water and land, hike and lots of other stuff that Gia would be like I don’t want to get my hair wet!

        The biggest question is Gia there to tell Ana and Christian who Mr C is or is she actually Ms C shall we say? As another reader pointed out maybe she was able to hide and finally escape and help them find out? It’s easy to assume it’s Gia because she was such a bitch full stop so hating her isn’t a stretch but if it is her what is the clue and please if there is one through it Tara please share because I’m raking my small brain to what Gia’s true motivations are, I just feel that if being a wife of a rich man was the real reason I am sure Gia could easily have found someone to fufulil that role. I know Christian is hot and young and a billionaire which I assume would be a lot of these types of bitches criteria. I mean rich is one thing but having to sleep with someone old enough to your grandfather it would seem is gross, if you could make that a hot guy then that would be great.

        For some reason I wonder if Gia has a connection to Carla as Gia was so brazen in her want for Christian in front of Ana, I am still so surprised Elliot just let it happen for as long as it did. It made me think did Gia know Ana when they were younger maybe Stephen Morton connection? and now Gia wants to take everything away from Ana, including Callioppe and Christian? Because she thinks Ana took something away from her?

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      2. Considering everything that’s happening in their lives at the moment why would they leave their child with a nanny and just ONE “armed’ security guard! To me personally that was a bad decision on C&A’s part. Regardless of how secured you think your place is or how much you trust the people around you…they’re dealing with a very dangerous master-minder of all evil who is capable of doing anything. What’s one “armed” security guard and a nanny going to do if they were ambushed. No place is 100% secured/safe if you are dealing with “top-notch criminals”, hence the reason why I think leaving the baby alone with a nanny and ONE “armed” security guard, who probably didn’t get the chance to make it to the safe room in time, was wrong and very stupid on Ana and Christian’s part.

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  20. Where the heck has Gia been hiding and more importantly. How did she get into the penthouse? Never ever, ever, ever expected this. Could Lydia be a recruit? Something imo appears to be off with Lydia.

    I need to relax a bit and go back and reread as appose to speed reading. Geez Tara what have you done? Most of us are already crazy over this story. Now this twist might just send some of us over the edge.

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    1. Exactly. Gia literally couldn’t drop off the earth and go without money. We KNOW she hasn’t used her credit cards, her car, her insurance. HOWEVER, we ALSO KNOW THAT ELENA had enough wherewithall to create A SECONDARY identity under her maiden name to hide things. BUT if Gia planned this ALL ALONG, then she had COUNTED on needing to hide, so that she could NOT be blamed for things that happened next.

      So Gia may have learned from the expert. BUT I can’t see Gia and Elena being able to work together long term—they both want absolute control over Christian. BUT ELENA may not have known of Gia’s involvement. After all, Elena was in prison. She might have only been told so much. AND she might have REALLY believed that someone was in charge that was NOT.

      BUT WE ALL ASSUMED Mr. Conspiracy Head WAS a male BECAUSE LEILA SEEMED SO SURE THAT SHE KNEW HIS IDENTITY. However, Leila may have ASSUMED who the Conspiracy Head was, SAME as Mia. AND been wrong. As Elena might have been.

      (OR ELENA planned to make a PERCEIVED CONSPIRACY in order to get Christian to hopefully COME CRAWLING BACK TO HER. ONLY for someone ELSE to figure it all out AND ASSUME CONTROL. Which would mean Elena is most likely dead, after all.)

      ELENA knew the people to get behind the Conspiracy. AND she seemed to indicate it was a MALE, too, but Gresham may ALL ALONG have been the REPRESENTATIVE of who was REALLY in charge.

      (AND let me just say that nothing would make me HAPPIER than to find that someone pulled something major over on ELENA!)

      But we STILL don’t know YET where Gia fits in to all of this. OBVIOUSLY, Gia seemingly knows the major players. AND she knew that Gresham had been exposed AND KNEW HOW TO PLAY the Gresham thing to her angle.

      Elena never trusted ANYONE. So I can’t see her trusting GIA either, ESPECIALLY because Gia was a beautiful woman (at least on the outside—Gia’s core is PURE EVIL, obviously.)

      Christian and Ana CLEARLY thought the worst was over AND that the proof led to Gresham. AND GIA KNEW to play this angle and to be in that penthouse AT THAT TIME. So she seemingly knew FROM SOME SOURCE that baby Calliope was there with only one security guard.

      But Gia previously had unlimited access to Escala FOR MONTHS on end. So Gia could have put any number of security things in place. AND GIA SEEMINGLY KNEW WHEN TO DISAPPEAR, AND that Christian OBVIOUSLY SUSPECTED HER OF SOMETHING.

      So either Gia planned WAY ahead of time to hide OR someone seemingly helped her.

      So we are back to the original conclusion of WHO is behind the Conspiracy???? AND did Gia (OR ELENA) or someone ELSE organize a Conspiracy designed to take the blame for the REAL person behind a plot against the Grey family OR Christian OR Ana and others?

      Yep, so MANY questions. Monday can’t come fast enough. Because Gia sounds like she CLEARLY wants to brag about what all she has done AND justify her demands. So we should get SOME clues.

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  21. Kommer! Has me been dispose of. I just don’t trust thus guy. Again hiw did Gia get entry to the penthouse? I think one of the reviewer wrote that Carter was left in Georgia with Ray and Taylor. I don’t remember reading that. I need to read the previous chapter. Where do that heifers Gia fit in? I’m totally at a lost here. Too much to think about. Will Elena be coming back from the dead? If she was dead. This has Elena hands all over it. She could definitely pull this off.

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    1. And THAT is the thing—Elena would need a way OUT of prison. And Christian refused to give her one. So the supposed Conspiracy could always have been Elena’s KEY to getting her OUT of jail AND MAKING IT APPEAR that she was dead.

      After all, Isaac always served ELENA. And Christian didn’t start a dialogue with Elena until AFTER the manuscript came to Elena. Elena may ALL ALONG have written the thing and made it LOOK like someone ELSE was manipulating HER, when in reality, Elena was setting the grounds to make it LOOK like she died later in a prison riot if she didn’t get what she WANTED from Christian.

      So you seemingly have TWO WOMEN in the background trying to manipulate Christian AND the Conspiracy. So was Gresham JUST a pawn of Elena? After all, she seemingly SEEMED to fear Gresham back in ABSOF when she offered Mia up to him “because he was an important client.” OR did Elena’s seeming willingness to bow down to Gresham in order to get him on board for the LATER Conspiracy?

      GIA BENEFITTED FROM obviously PRETENDING to be dead. ELENA may have done the same thing. We just don’t YET know.

      AND LEILA seemingly THOUGHT she knew just WHO was behind the Conspiracy, AND that it was a male. Which might have made her VERY easy to kill, since Leila probably tried to reach out to GIA, thinking she was in the same place as HER.

      So was the Conspiracy ALL a front to get Christian back under control OR else blackmail/steal from him in the alternative, ALL while making it look like someone ELSE did it? OR did the women turn against the Conspiracy? OR WAS THIS THE PLAN ALL ALONG?

      Kommer not being present looks suspicious, but he may be dead somewhere else. Someone else has mentioned that MRS. JONES should also be present in Escala, but it APPEARED that only Kommer, the nanny and Calliope were left at Escala. I can’t even speculate on Kommer until we know more. We ALSO don’t YET know if Gia entered Escala ALONE or not.

      UGH!!! Waiting is so hard to do, as the song says!!!!

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  22. LAST THING, really:

    I seemingly LOVE that Tara took ONE CHARACTER and made their presence seemingly blow the doors WIDE OPEN as to what the Conspiracy might REALLY have been intended to do. So EVERYTHING is now in doubt. EVEN the intent and purpose of the Conspiracy.

    Elena was never one to quit planning her Exit Strategy. Nor was she one to put her eggs in one basket. This smacks of her, but she may have actually found someone smarter than her. Or not. It remains to be seen.

    Because ANYONE could be behind this now. Multiple possibilities are possible. MULTIPLE PEOPLE have been playing one another. So anyone and everyone’s loyalties could now be at issue. AND blame has been left at the doorstep of one obvious individual, who may now be dead. Or not. It ALL remains to be seen.

    And can we really trust anything GIA says? She will also have to have PROOF behind what she says. So I can’t wait for next chapter!!!

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  23. How was Gia able to get in and kill the nanny. Kommer is the only security there. I’ve ALWAYS felt Kommer was involved because there were way too many security breaches/fails. In Chapter 46, Kommer was coming up with the dumbest scenarios. Is it Kommer who called Luke’s phone, when he dropped off Ana and Christian at the elevator, in a ploy to delay Luke so Gia can kill them? Is Komer in the garage trying to detain Luke until the deed is done? Gia has wanted Christian all along. I feel she used Elliot to get closer to Christian. I never believed her story, to Ana, at her baby shower when she told Ana she was in love with Elliot. Even Luke was like, “you don’t believe that, do you?” I hope Luke can get there, in time, and that Gia is not harmed. I want her to suffer and suffer good for all the catty, unnecessary things she’s done to Ana, and said about/to Kate.

    Trying to patiently wait for Chapter 48 🙂

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  24. I don’t know of another post of mine was deleted or never uploaded because I seem to always have to log in even though I’ve not ever logged out. But…while I can’t remember verbatim what I wrote, I just re-read the chapter and comments and noticed mine wasn’t there and had wondered if anyone else had similar thoughts.

    I have mentioned it vaguely before about a possible link of revenge on Gia’s part towards Ana.

    The more I think about this and the little comments Gia has made to Ana over the course of the story I wonder if Gia is from Ana’s past and Ana doesn’t remember it? I’ve never been huge on the possibility of Stephen Morton being involved because it doesn’t really make sense given the depth of connections, power and most of all money needed to pull this kind of gig off. However, when I think back to the phone call of Ana’s graduation the person expected Ana to know his voice and Morton seems a strong possibility, I have wondered like everyone else who it could be and given Luke got a recording perhaps Ana would know who it was – maybe she was just too young to really remember his voice or sometimes time changes a voice, or,you just want to forget?

    Something about Gia being with Calioppe and a gun in hand sitting in the dark contemplating and ready to reveal all makes me think something happened in the past where Gia believes/thinks that Ana got everything when it should of been her, a bit like Hyde in the original cannon thinking it should have been him with the success if only he’d been the one to be adopted.

    Though, I can’t think what or how this connection could be, as Ana never came from money and she worked hard to get in and stay financially sound at Harvard – she even worked at the library when her and Christian got back together, she never took it for granted her work ethic and what Ray had sacrificed, she wasn’t going to just take Christian’s money though I am sure lots of people would assume that’s what she did. Everything about Ana pre-Christian isn’t I suppose in the scheme of things remarkable she was a small town girl who studied hard and had a dream to go to Harvard and she fulfilled it. But something tells me Gia knew Ana when they were younger and Ana supposedly took something away from her and now they are adults in Gia’s mind she believes Ana has taken from her again as it should be her with a Harvard Degree, the billionaire, the book deal and career and now more importantly since she doesn’t have any of those things she is going to try and take the one thing that would utterly destroy Ana -her baby.

    I think Plan B is Ray and Taylor of course and no offence to Luke or the other security but finally some serious professionals to sort this mess out and if Ray is indeed part of Plan B well you know he’s going to do everything to find who this fucker is and protect his daughter and granddaughter.

    This has been a long endgame for the person behind this elaborate scheme and if it was just money then we know they have had the means and capabilities the whole time to take it and disappear. This is personal, this person wants Ana and Christian to know that it was them behind all of this. I just don’t feel if Gia was there to help with information she would be sitting in the dark with Calliope in one hand and a gun in the other while the like dead Nanny swims in a pool of her own blood, it’s too creepy and sadistic. Most psychopaths don’t believe their wrong, have a huge sense of entitlement and are brazen to the core. There have been many psychopaths in this story with an axe to grind but mostly Mr or C has been able to recruit people who were protecting their own secrets for fear of being outed and this is why whoever this person is knew how to scare, motivate and makesure their identity was kept a secret by all those participated to get to where we are. I don’t think Gresham was the mastermind at all just another person who had secrets they wished to keep covered or family/interest they wanted to protect or they had a skill set this person could be bought for a price.

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