Chapter 48

3

The following is intended for mature audiences and may contain material that is not suitable for some readers. Discretion is advised.

Christian’s hands shake and he takes a tentative step towards her, but Gia doesn’t respond to his approach. Her face is curious, like she’s merely interested in what he’s going to do next rather than worrying about trying to stop him and maintain her position of power. It’s eerie because, gun aside, Christian could easily overpower her, but she doesn’t seem to have any concern over that. Maybe that’s because she really intends to make good on the obvious threat she holds in her hands and Christian approaching is only going to goad her. Or maybe there’s someone else in the house. Is someone watching us? Someone armed who will come to Gia’s aid the moment Christian steps over whatever imaginary line they’ve drawn around her? Luke won’t come upstairs for at least an hour. If she has reinforcements, we’ll be on our own. Unless… where’s Kommer? Is he dead too? Like Ava?

“Gia, please.” His voice trembles and I wonder if that’s because he’s come to the same conclusions I have. “You and I will work this out. I will give you whatever it is that you’ve come here for, just… please. Give me my baby and let her and my wife leave.”

She laughs. Not for show, but legitimately, heartily, laughs, and it sends a cold chill up my spine. Christian stops and glances around the still mostly dark apartment before taking another step in her direction. The moment he moves, she pulls back the hammer of her pistol and lifts it carelessly up into her lap, right next to my baby.

“No, please!” I shriek. Christian turns back and shoots me a sharp, warning glare and holds his hand back to keep me still. I sink to my knees on the hard, marble floor, tears pouring from my eyes as fear overcomes me, and reach out desperately for Calliope.

Gia’s eyes flit down to me, and she lets out her final cruel laughs before sighing and shaking her head. “Go? No. No one is leaving.” She twists the gun in her hand so she can look at the watch on her wrist and then frowns. “We’re in for a little bit of a wait though, so why don’t you two have a seat?”

“Gia…”

“I said take a seat, Grey.” Her expression suddenly grows hard, menacing, and her voice turns to ice. Calliope reaches out her tiny little hand for the silver barrel of the gun, which is too long because of the silencer attached to the end. When her fingers wrap around it, Christian’s whole body tenses and I do everything I can not to vomit.

“Okay,” he says. “I’ll sit. It’s fine. We’ll negotiate on your terms but please, stop pointing that at my daughter.”

“Negotiate?” She laughs again, before reclaiming her stony demeanor. “Sit. Down.”

He holds his hand up in front of him in surrender and backs up to the couch behind me. I try to get up and slide into the seat next to him, because I know that listening to her and complying with her demands is the only way to keep my sweet, innocent little baby from being harmed, but I’m frozen. Her eyes narrow in on me and then a second later, I feel Christian’s hands wrap around my body. He picks me up, lifts me onto the sofa, and clings tightly to my hand, rubbing his thumb along the length of my index finger as if to silently promise everything is going to turn out okay.

My lip trembles as I stare singlemindedly at Calliope. My motherly instincts are in overdrive, feeling as though they’re burning me for keeping still and allowing her to remain in danger, but while I sit here running through a million different scenarios of how to get her out of Gia’s hands, I can’t think of even one that is safe or guaranteed to be successful. I’m paralyzed, impotent. Gia has the ultimate leverage in her hands and she knows it.

“I’m going to need your phones…” she says, and while Christian nods and then slowly reaches into his pocket to withdraw his iPhone, I shake my head.

“I don’t have it. It’s i-in my bag. I dropped it when I fell. It’s in the foyer.”

“You think you’re in a position to play games with me, Anastasia?”

“No.” My voice is high, the fear I feel coursing through me clinging to every word. “Gia, I swear to you, I don’t have it.”

She narrows her eyes at me and then waves her hand at Christian. He leans over to slide his phone across the floor to her and once her hands wrap around it, she gets out of her chair and gives us both a warning look.

“I swear to god neither of you better fucking move.”

We both nod and she turns to the foyer, taking my baby with her. The moment her eyes are no longer me, I start gasping for air, sure I’m about to succumb to a full blown panic attack, and Christian tightens his hand around mine. He looks around the apartment again, examining dark corners, focusing on what little of the upstairs we can see from where we sit on the couch. There’s nothing, but it doesn’t feel like there’s nothing.  

“It’s going to be okay, Ana,” he breathes so softly only I can hear him. “I’m going to get you and Calli out of here.”

“What about you?” I hiss back.

“I’ll be fine.”

“What are we going to do?” He shakes his head, unsure how to answer, and I begin shaking again. “They said he. Leila, Jack, Carter… they all said he. I heard him, Christian.”

“She’s not in charge. If she was, we’d already be dead. She’s just here to babysit us until he gets here. That’s what we’re waiting for.”

“What?”

He glances to our right, where Gia is returning from the foyer with my bag in her hand, and then opens my tightly clenched fist in my lap. With his fingers, he begins tracing letters into my palm.

J-A-N-E-D-O-E

Jane Doe. The woman who’d sent those photos of me. The woman who’d received a $10 million transfer this morning… It was Gia. But if she was being paid, that means that he’s still out there and since she’s still here even after the FBI’s pursuit tonight, he must not really be Gresham.

My eyes follow Gia as she moves across the room and finally sets Calliope down in the bassinet next to her chair, which she must have taken from my bedroom. There’s a tiny hint of relief in the knowledge that her hands are no longer on my baby, that Calliope is no longer staring down the barrel of a gun, but it’s not enough. Not nearly enough. Especially because, while she’s set the baby down, the gun is still in her hand and her finger is tapping absentmindedly against the trigger. Still, Christian shifts in the seat next to me. Preparing himself.

“Awh, you missed a call from your daddy, Ana. That sucks.” Gia gives me an obviously fake look of sympathy. “Maybe if you’d listened to your stupid fucking mother, you’d get to call him back.”

The redirection of her attention makes Christian shift again, but this time she notices and she once again raises the gun. Not at him, at me, and he’s paralyzed once more.

“Is that uncomfortable for you?” she sneers. “Knowing that if you’d just let her go, she wouldn’t be here right now? That if you weren’t so selfish and possessive, you’d be here with me and Ana and Calliope would be… oh, I don’t fucking care. Not here.” Christian starts to shake and his visible anger makes Gia’s eyes twinkle. “You should have fucked me when you had the chance.”

He squeezes my hand and then lets it fall into my lap, empty.

“Is that what this is about? Rejection? Because I turned you down?” She raises a challenging eyebrow and, after staring at her for a long time, his lips curl into same outrageously sexy half-smirk that has had me shamelessly chasing him for years. “I thought about it, you know. Last winter. I really, really thought about it.”

“Really?” She doesn’t believe him, but he nods all the same, slowly, and then drags his tongue over his bottom lip.

“Oh yeah. Every time I had you in the gym upstairs and you were in those tight sports bras or those tiny little shorts with your ass hanging out…” He pauses as though the memory makes him uncomfortable. Good uncomfortable. Delicious even. When he looks back up at her again, his eyes are blazing. “When you were sweating on the bench beneath me, I wondered what it would make you taste like. What it would sound like to hear you moaning, not from the weight, but from taking my cock. I wondered how much you’d be able to take down your throat or what I’d have to do to make you come. To make you scream.”

Gia swallows so hard, I can see her throat move and Christian leans toward her.

“Do you want to go into the bedroom and find out?”

She unconsciously reaches up and brushes her free hand across the back of her neck. When she drags it back down her body, she begins gnawing at her lip. “I–”

“You what, Gia?” His voice drops to a whisper. “Tell me what you want.”

“You, uh…” Another swallow and then her eyes meet his. “You must think I’m a special kind of stupid.”

Christian’s seductive act immediately drops. “What?”

“What do you think? I’m just going to turn around and skip my way to the bedroom, overcome with lust and desire, leaving Ana and Calliope completely unsupervised, and then you’ll… what? Wrestle the gun away from me? Maybe even tie me up with your little bondage toys so you don’t have to worry about me until the Feds get here? Then you come out here, the big hero, all ‘oh I didn’t mean it, Ana. I was just trying to save your life. I love you so much…’ Please.”

“No, I-I–”

“We need to get something straight between me and you, Grey.” She sits back down into the chair and spins it toward us, spreading her legs open and then leaning forward with her elbows rested on each of her knees. The gun dangles from her hand in between her legs. “I never wanted you, ever, because I know you’re a bad person. I know the things that you have done, and quite frankly, you disgust me. The flirting, the inappropriate touching, the giggles, the batting of the eyelashes, the sports bras, and the too short shorts, those weren’t for you. Those were for Elliot.”

“Oh really?” Now it’s Christian’s turn not to believe her.

“Yeah. I think you think my job was to spy on you and Ana, but it wasn’t. Ana was Leila’s responsibility. I was in charge of Elliot.”

“And why was that?”

“To isolate you. Everyone else in your life is just begging for a reason to jump ship. We already saw that right? I mean, your entire family cut you out for years. But not Elliot. Elliot is your ride or die, probably even more so than Ana since she left you too, so he had to go. It was too obvious just to kill him and his death probably wouldn’t have hurt you as much as abandonment. We just needed to find a way to make him abandon you. So, I put myself into his life and then threw myself at you. If you fucked me, it would be a betrayal. A personal betrayal against the person who had never betrayed you, who stood by you no matter what you did or how bad you fucked up. How could he continue to fight for you after that? He couldn’t, and once he was gone and we’d gotten Ana, you’d have no one else to turn to. You’d be alone. Vulnerable.”

She sighs before continuing.

“Unfortunately, Elliot was never really interested in me. He thought he was, he tried to tell himself that he was, but deep down, he was only ever with me to get Kate’s attention and no amount of blow jobs or nights spent having absolutely phenomenal sex could change that. So, he didn’t care that his girlfriend was practically begging his brother to fuck her because he always had one eye on Cambridge.” She shrugs. “It did make communication easier for me though, not having him watching me all the time. God he’s so fucking stupid.”

Christian’s jaw tenses and he stares back at her so intently it’s like his eyes are trying to bore holes right through her. “Isolation, huh? I’ve heard that one before. Tell me, is Elena really dead or is she on her way over here now?”

“Oh, no. She’s dead.” A wicked smile crosses her face. “He had a lot of fun with that one.”

“You psychotic bitch.”

She laughs, but it’s cut off by the ping of the elevator. Gia’s hand tightens on her gun and she practically jumps out of her chair, so I feel a rush of hope that someone knows we’re here and in danger and has come to save us. And for a brief second that hope is fueled when I see that it’s Luke who steps into the foyer, but that hope is dashed when Gia smiles.

“Baby!”

No. No, no, no. I refuse to…

Bang. Bang. Bang.

Gia raises her gun, pulls the trigger three times in quick succession, and Luke absorbs each of the bullets, one by one, into his chest before falling to his knees and collapsing on the floor. In his place, immediately behind where he’d been, Kommer stands with his own gun raised. Calliope starts to scream at the noise but I can’t look away from what’s in front of me to turn to her.

“No!” Without thinking, I leap from the couch and try to launch myself across the room at my fallen best friend, but Christian grabs me around the waist and pulls me back down.

“No,” he hisses. “You can’t help him. Don’t move, Anastasia.”

“Gia!” Kommer says, giving her a what the hell kind of look, but she brushes him off.

“Oh, please. I already had my chance at money-man taken away, it’s only fair that I get Sawyer. I’ve wanted that since New York. You were this close, Anthony. This close!”

A slow smile creeps across Kommer’s face. “Bloodthirsty.”

They laugh and she scurries across the great room to let him envelop her in his arms, but I don’t watch as they kiss. My eyes are wide and focused only on the floor where my best friend lies face down, not moving. I can feel my heart beating wildly in my chest as I struggle to breathe. I want to cry, and scream, and throw up, but I can’t. There’s too much shock. Too much fear. Not only does his motionless body mean that I’ve lost one of the people I love and care most about in the entire world, it means that Christian and I truly are alone. No one is going to come for us. Luke is dead, and Kommer is the one holding the gun.

I’m so absorbed in grief and the heightened severity of our situation that I don’t notice when Christian slinks off the couch behind me and creeps across the room. There’s no sound to alert me to his movements and he almost gets all the way to the bassinette before Kommer calls out to stop him.

“That’s far enough, Grey.” But Christian doesn’t falter under the threat of Kommer’s weapon. He looks defiantly back into his eyes and moves to place himself between our assailants and our child.

“No, no, baby,” Gia says. “Like this.” She pulls back the slide to make of show of ejecting one bullet but drawing another into the chamber, points the weapon at me, and then gives Christian a dark smile. “I’m a really good shot, Grey. Are you sure you’re want to test me?”

He freezes and glances uneasily back at me, but I want to scream for him to take the baby and run. The service entrance is just on the other side of the utility room, maybe I could head Gia and Kommer off long enough for him to get through the door. I’d take whatever they did to me, gladly, if it meant my husband and child would be safe. But he doesn’t run. He doesn’t move.

“Why don’t you go stand by the window, huh Grey? Hands up. Keep yourself out of trouble.” Kommer gestures for Christian to move away from the bassinet with this gun, and slowly, Christian steps back to the dark glass.

“I trusted you. I trusted you with the thing I care about most in the world. Tell me, Kommer, was it all a lie? Did you come onto my team knowing this is where we’d end up, or did he buy you out from under me?”

“He didn’t do anything. I’m not here for him. I’m here for her. She needed my help and there’s absolutely nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for her.”

“Even murder?”

“Would you, for Anastasia?”

He swallows, and I think it’s because he’s unwilling to answer that questions specifically because he’s trying desperately to keep us both alive, not coax him into what we can only assume they have planned. But then, to my surprise, he nods. “Yes, I would. And I can’t say that I’d care about the reason either, right or wrong. If that’s what she needed me to do, I’d do it. Absolutely. Because I love her.”

What the fuck is he doing?!

“But I would also die for her if I could, because what I actually care about is that she’s safe. I would do anything for that, hire an entire security team to shadow her every step, move across the country and jeopardize the entire stability of my company… Anything I could do to protect her, I would. Do you love Gia like that?”

Kommer just stares back at him for a moment, clearly confused. “Of course I do.”

“Then why are you here? What do you think is going to happen when this is over? You think you’ll just walk out of here and go on with your life with the woman you love and more money than you could ever spend? Don’t you think that’s the exact same thing he told Leila Williams? That he told Charles Gresham, or Jack Hyde, or Elena Lincoln. He promised Carter Reed Harvard and he was gunned down in the street.”

“They didn’t do their jobs…”

“They were loose ends. And that’s all you’ll be after this is over. Someone who could one day identify him. He’s coming for me tonight, and then it’ll be you. It doesn’t have to be like that. Help me, and I’ll protect you.”

“Look at him,” Gia says, squirming playfully under Kommer’s arm. “All confident like he has the first clue about what he’s talking about.” She kisses her lover’s thumb and then pushes him off of her before sauntering back into the great room, the arrogant smile back in place on her face. “There’s a big difference between me and Leila Williams, Grey.”

“You really think so, huh?”

“Mhm. You see Leila Williams was hired because she loved you and she wanted to make Anastasia pay for taking you away. That’s why she got Ana, not you. Charles Gresham and Jack Hyde were blackmail, Elena Lincoln wasn’t really given a choice since we had her packaged up in a little box that we had absolute control over, and Carter Reed… Well, Carter Reed was future planning. He was never supposed to be there the night Ana’s mother was whacked. That was punishment. Carter’s job was going to be to stay in touch with Kate so we’d be able to monitor your progress in tracking us all down once this was over, but then he showed he couldn’t be trusted by immediately running off to you so we had to do away with him too. Just like Isaac when he sent Elena’s book to Ana instead of me. We all have a role, and we’re all chosen very specifically, and very carefully. And the thing that keeps me here, that’s protected me even though I failed to break up you and Elliot, is much stronger than anything the other’s had.”

“Bullshit.”

Her smile falters and spiteful anger flares in her eyes. “You did a background check on me when I started dating Elliot, right?”

“Of course.”

“And what did you learn?”

Now it’s Christian’s turn to be confused, and it’s clear on his face that he doesn’t know what she’s getting at. Her gaze is insistent though, so he takes a breath and starts. “You were born in 1987 in New Jersey to Holly Paine, a single woman who died during childbirth and left no record for the father. They shifted you into the foster system until you were 3 weeks old, when you were adopted by Peter and Connie Matteo, both of modest income, but a hard working blue collar family. You graduated with a 4.0 from Oakcrest High School a year early and decided to attend the University of Washington to study graphic design in the hopes you’d earn an internship with one of the Seattle local tech giants, but then changed your focus to interior design your sophomore year. In 2010, you were selected for a post-graduation internship at my company and moved into the construction division where you proved to be a valuable asset working on a low income housing project GEH had been contracted to build for the city, so your position was made permanent. That’s how you met my brother. He’d put you in charge of interior design for the new GEH headquarters.”

He stops, probably wondering how much longer she expects him to go on or into how much detail, but she just keeps staring expectantly at him.

“Mhmm.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand what the point of this is.”

“The point is…” She flops down into the same chair she was sitting in when Christian and I had come into the apartment earlier in the evening and begins to spin. “Pete and Connie were not my parents. I had a daddy out there somewhere and when I turned sixteen, I decided I wanted to try and find out who that was. It took a year, but eventually the private investigator and team of DNA experts I’d hired got me a name. That’s why I chose to go to the University of Washington, not because I wanted to work at Microsoft.”

Christian’s face falls. “You’re his daughter.”

“Yep. And Daddy’s got a whole lot of money that’s going to be all mine if I just help him take care of you. At first it was just pictures, compromising pictures that were meant to break up you and your girlfriend, but then it turned into something… else. Something much more exciting.”

There’s another ping from the elevator but it doesn’t give me hope this time. I know there’s no one coming for us. Instead, it ignites a new level of fear inside of me because I know in the deepest part of my soul that this is it. This is what they’ve been waiting for. He’s here.

I can’t see into the foyer, but I can hear his footsteps and each one feels like the seconds ticking away on a timebomb.

“Kommer!” A wave of cold washes over me as the voice from the phone, the voice from my nightmares, rings loud and clear in the foyer.

“Yes, sir?” Kommer answers.

“There are cameras in the garage.”

“Uh… yes, sir. They’re Grey’s. For the cars… I disabled them this evening after Sawyer left. Before Gia got here.”

“And in the elevator.”

“Grey had them turned off months ago. He uh… he likes to fuck her in the elevator.”

“I see… Well shut it down. No one else gets up that elevator tonight.”

“Yes, sir.”

The footsteps sound again, then the man enters the great room and my body entire body seizes. He looks different than I remember, much less put together. His hair is longer and no longer perfectly coifed. His clothes aren’t as fine, he has facial hair now, and the practiced arrogance he used to carry himself with is gone, replaced now by something more careless and sloppy. But it’s none of those things that make it initially hard to recognize him, it’s the eyes. Once warm, they’re now cold, menacing, and entirely unfocused.

“Linc.” Christian’s voice is soft, devoid of any inflection, and the man standing in the entryway between the foyer and the living room smiles.

“Hi, Christian. It’s been awhile, well… for you. I’ve actually seen quite a bit of you and your life over the past few years.”

“So it would seem.”

They lock eyes for a long beat. Christian refuses to show fear or back down, but Linc seems to care very little about whatever kind of power play is going on between them. He turns and glances over to me, and the moment our eyes meet, a hungry kind of smile crosses his face. One I don’t like at all.

“Look. At. You.” His voice is husky and the intensity in his eyes terrifies me, but when I look down to break the overbearing eye contact between us, I realize for the first time since I looked into Ava’s eyes on the foyer floor that I’m sitting here only in a bra and a pair of panties, still covered in blood. Automatically, I move my hands up to try and cover as much of my body as I can but he doesn’t drop his gaze. Christian moves towards me, slowly, so he doesn’t draw attention to himself, but Lincoln doesn’t seem to care. He simply lets out long, energetic breath and takes a step forward until he comes even with Luke’s body.

“Who got Sawyer?”

“That would be me,” Gia replies, proudly, but Linc narrows his eyes at her.

“You really need to control this.”

Gia’s giddiness immediately dies out and when she speaks, her voice is flat and accusatory. “I thought you’d be happy.”

“I would have been had Kommer done it. But what did we talk about?”

“I-I-”

“I told you to calm down.”

They’re still here aren’t they?” She holds her arms out to gesture to Christian and I, but Linc just takes a deep, calming breath and shakes his head, as if to dispel his annoyance.

“Where’s the helicopter?”

“En route. It’ll be here any minute.”

Linc’s ravenous eyes move to me again. “Then let’s get to it.”

His words hit me like a jolt of electricity and when he moves again I find myself scrambling onto the couch, just to get farther away from him. Christian’s hand closes around my wrist and he quickly pulls me up so that I’m standing, and moves in front of me, protectively. It’s both relieving and infuriating, because while he’s protecting me, he’s leaving Calliope exposed. She’s at least six feet away from either of us, and now there are three of them, at least two of them armed. If Christian and I don’t get out of this, what will happen to her? Will he hurt her? Will he take her? Will she simply be found with our bodies, the way Christian was with his mother all those year ago?

Gia begins digging in a bag from the counter that I hadn’t noticed before while Linc marches through our living room like he owns the place. I begin to tremble as he moves to Calliope’s bassinette and then hold back an anguished scream when he reaches inside and pulls her out, grunting slightly as he settles her weight into his arm.

“Pretty baby,” he whispers. “You sure caused a lot of trouble coming into this world, you know that?” There’s a stark contradiction to his almost adoring tone and the sweet way he bounces her and tickles her tummy to the heaviness and terror that hang in the air because of his presence. My fingers curl into Christian’s arm, digging into his skin, and he reaches up to place a comforting hand over mine.

“Put her down,” he commands.

“In time,” Linc replies, and then uses his finger to tickle her under her chin. “First, we’re going to talk about some of your choices, Christian. That’s what tonight is going to be about. Your choices. What you chose then, and what you’ll choose now.”

“Choices?”

“Yes. You see, things have been a little one sided between us. A bit unfair really, and I’m here to rectify that. I made the choice to protect you, to turn my entire life upside down and inside out to fight for you, and you repaid me by lying, taking money from me, and stealing my company. You took my whole life away from me. Would you say that was a good choice, or a bad choice?”

The condescension in Linc’s tone clearly doesn’t sit well with Christian. “I didn’t steal your company, I–”

“I know how acquisitions work, Christian. I get it. Your business had a need and you had to fulfill it. But you didn’t have to come for me. Not after what you’d already taken from me.”

Christian exhales slowly, his body relaxes, and he nods. When he speaks, his voice is conciliatory. “You’re right. I didn’t have to come for you. Your company was the best fit for what I needed, the easiest to take on, and the most financially viable option, but you’re right. I didn’t have to take Lincoln Timber, and maybe I shouldn’t have after the history between us. I’m sorry. But I can’t give it back to you. It doesn’t exist anymore.”

“I understand that, I don’t expect you to.” He lets out a hard sigh and begins to pace. “It doesn’t really matter. Hell, I hadn’t taken any joy in work for years anyway. I’d lost my passion for it. So, maybe it was best in the end that it went to you. My people have good jobs in a thriving industry, I got a very generous pension, and that’s because of you. I can forgive Lincoln Timber.”

Christian nods, but neither of us relax. He hasn’t done what he’s done to be satisfied by an apology and he isn’t here to give his forgiveness. This is all just the preamble for what he’s really after.

“But it’s not just Lincoln Timber that you took from me,” he continues. “Not even close. You ruined me, Christian. You have no idea what you did to me, not in the slightest. I had to run, flee the state and re-headquarter my company because of the way you humiliated me. I lost half of the fortune I’d spent my entire life building. You took everything. And so tonight, I’m going to give you the chance to make it right by giving you a choice.”

“Which is?”

Linc smiles. “Your money or your family.”

I feel a pair of hands wrap around my arms and then violently yank me backwards. Both Christian and I had been so focused on Linc that neither one of us noticed Kommer sneaking around behind us, and now he had me restrained against his body with his gun pressed into my throat, just below my jaw.

“My family!” Christian shouts immediately. “My family. I choose my family.”

“Good choice.” He looks over to Gia and nods. She pulls a phone or maybe a small tablet out of the bag and turns to face us, but Christian quickly shakes his head.

“Let her go. You get nothing as long as you have a gun to my wife’s head.”

I shake again, wondering if Christian is in the position to make any kind of demands or if he’s just going to make the situation worse. Linc though, seems non-plussed.

“Let her go, Kommer.”

“And get the fuck away from her,” Christian growls.

Kommer’s hands drop from my body and I feel my fingers begin to throb at the rush of blood that had been choked back by his tight grip on my wrist. He stares Christian down as he saunters away from me and moves to the chair next to where Gia is still standing, making a show of slumping down into the seat and rocking back and forth.

“And Calliope…” Christian says, but this time, Linc’s eyes narrow. He’s losing patience.

“I think I’ve made enough concessions, Christian. It’s your turn. One hundred grand, if you please.”

Christian seems to do a double take. “Wait… a hundred grand? All you want is a hundred grand?

“Weren’t you listening? Tonight is about making things fair. You stole $100 thousand from me, I want it back.”

“You stole $65 million from me two fucking days ago!”

“Let me rephrase. I want you to give back the $100 thousand dollars you stole from me. I want you to make a choice, Christian.”

“You’ve killed people, Linc. You’ve destroyed lives, families… all over a hundred grand?”

“Sound familiar?”

Christian shakes his head with disgust at the challenging look Linc gives him and then reaches for Gia and the tablet in her hands. She smiles broadly as she moves towards him, but as she stretches out her hand to give the device to Christian, he suddenly lunges forward, grabs her by the arm, and pulls her against him the same way Kommer just had me. They struggle for half a second while Christian forces her to drop the gun and then grabs her by the throat, squeezing so tightly she starts to gasp for air and gag over the pressure.

“You have my daughter,” Christian says in a voice that is more menacing than anything I’ve ever heard from him before. “I have yours. Give her to me and I’ll let her go.”

What remained of the patient look Linc has worn since he first arrived vanishes. His eyes darken, the lines in his face seem to deepen, and his mouth stretches into a thin line.

“You always choose the money,” he says darkly. “You’ll always choose the money.” Everything that happens next plays out too quickly for either Christian or I to react, but so purposefully it’s like I’m watching it in slow motion. Linc reaches behind him, removes his own weapon from the back band of his jeans, and thrusts it forward at Christian. I scream as he pulls the trigger and the sonic boom of the bullet leaving it’s chamber echos through the room.

The glass behind me shatters. My face is showered with a burst of hot, fresh blood, like I’ve stepped out into a stormy summer night and tilted my face to the sky. I can’t move. I’m held in place by the sheer brutality of what has just happened.

Christian’s face is colored with shock and flecks of blood. He doesn’t shake the way I am, but he immediately withdraws his hold and let’s Gia’s body slump unceremoniously to the floor. Her skin makes a sickening slapping sound as she falls hard against the marble, and the lifeless arm that reaches out towards me is soon surrounded in a pool of deep, dark crimson.

“You have nothing to hold over me, Grey,” Linc says. “Nothing in the world matters to me. All I have left is hatred and anger and an overpowering need to make you pay. I’m not even a man anymore.”

My lungs tighten and I realize it’s because I’ve stopped breathing, but the silence that settles in after Lincoln’s threat is suddenly broken by Kommer’s cry of agony. The shock has passed, and he’s only just now processing what has happened right in front of him.  

“No!” He’s at Gia’s side in the time it takes me to blink and pulls her into his arms, shaking her, calling her name, refusing to believe what his eyes tell him. Eventually though, the reality of the situation to too much for him to deny, and he starts to shake with fury.

“You son of a bitch!” Kommer leaps from the ground to lunge at Linc, but with two more quick pulls on the trigger, which seem almost lazy, the threat is neutralized. Kommer staggers and reaches to touch the red stains growing across the front of his shirt, then coughs a bubble of blood and falls to the floor next to Gia.

All I can do is stare. My mind registers nothing, my ears ring with the sound of the gunshot still echoing inside my head, and every part of me is numb. It’s a defense mechanism I think, protecting me from the brutality of what I’ve had to witness tonight, and it holds me until a loud whirring sound fills the apartment and a bright light comes through the broken windows and catches my eye. We all turn to face the helicopter sweeping up the side of the building to the roof, where Christian’s helipad is waiting.

“That’s my ride,” Linc says. “We don’t have long,” He moves back to the bassinet to dispose of my baby, who is once again screaming her little lungs out. She’s hurt and I can only imagine it’s because of the gun firing too loudly for her little ears right over her head. But I can’t get to her. She needs me, and I can’t get to her.

Once Calliope no longer in Lincoln’s arms, he reaches down to gather the bag Gia had, and then slides the tablet she’d dropped back across the floor to Christian’s feet.

“You make the transfer. Gresham has already set it up, all you have to do is press the button. Ana can take your precious baby.”

It’s the only thing that could have broken the trance. I let out a strangled cry and shuffle forward, arms already outstretched for her.

“Ana, no!”

Christian’s cry is too late. The moment I’m within reach of the bassinette, Linc is on me. His hands wrap around me like pythons, squeezing me, violating me, his gun pressed tightly against my temple, and the low groan of pleasure he gives at my anemic struggle against his hold makes bile creep up into my mouth.

“Okay!” Christian screams. He leans down to pick up the tablet and presses his finger into the glass. Once the transfer is sent and he has the proof of it depicted on the screen, he turns the tablet so Linc can see. “It’s done. You have your money, a willing gift from me. I’m sorry I ever took it. Now, let her go.”

“No, I told you tonight was about your choices. You made it, and you chose wrong. You don’t get to give me anything anymore.”

He nods in agreement. “You’re right. Not a gift. I took the money from you, you took the money from me. Fair is fair.”

“Fair is fair? Fair is FAIR?” His grip tightens around me, making me whimper with pain, and Christian takes a cautionary step forward.

“Linc, please…”

I will make this fair! You took my money, I took yours. You fucked my wife…”

Christian’s face sallows the instant the words escape Linc’s lips, but when he speaks again, the anxious quiver is gone, replaced by restrained but growing anger. “Let her go, Linc.”

“How long did you have my wife, huh Christian? How long were you shoving your filthy cock inside of her behind my back? Four years wasn’t it?”

“Let. Her. Go.”

“You’re not making demands! I am the one who makes demands!” He shifts the gun, moving away from me and pointing it directly at Christian. “This is how it’s going to go. You can have your company, and your pristine reputation, and your daughter, but I am leaving with your pretty little bride tonight. She’ll stay with me until she’s satisfied the debt your disgusting affair with Elena has put you in. I will use her every night, in whatever way I see fit. Just the way you did with my wife. I will come in every one of her tight little holes, and at the end, if I haven’t gotten her pregnant and my baby hasn’t ripped her apart the way yours tried to, I’ll send her back to you. What’s left of her anyway. Let’s see how much you want her then.”

“I’ll fucking kill you!” Christian shouts, his teeth bared, and his entire body trembling with rage. All sense of self preservation gone, he strides forward like a bear, ready to maul and destroy, but before he even gets within arms reach, Linc’s hand squeezes the gun, and a shot rings loud and sure through the apartment.

Christian stumbles backward, looking stunned, and then his knees crumple until he falls backwards. Through the opening in his tuxedo jacket, I can see the red starting to spread over his pristine white shirt.

“No!” With everything I have I fight and pull against Linc’s grip. He tries to reach around me, to restrain me, but I’m no longer threatened by the gun and the tightness of his grip no longer causes me any pain. I’m sure I do as much damage to myself as I do to him while I kick and punch and knee every part of his body that I can reach, and finally, when my teeth sink deep down into the hand he tries to cover my mouth with, he roars in pain and releases me.   

“You little fucking bitch!”

I fall to the ground and scramble on my hands and knees to get to Christian. His breathing is ragged, shallow, and his eyes move wildly back and forth. I pull the jacket away from him to get a better look at his wound, then refuse to let the startling amount of blood coloring the shirt across his entire abdomen mean anything.

“You’re okay,” I whisper in panic, using my hands to press down on where I can see the bullet went through his shirt. “You’re going to be okay.” It’s not an assumption, it’s a demand. Because he has to be okay.

“Ana,” he croaks. “I love you.”

“No, you’re not saying goodbye.”

“You need to run…”

His words choke off as he continues struggling to breathe and tears prick my eyes. “I’m not leaving you. Don’t you dare leave me.”

His entire body shudders with pain and I feel the blood gush up through my fingers. He needs a hospital, now, or he’s going to bleed out.

“Anastasia, run!”

My rejection of his command is cut off with a scream of pain as Linc’s fingers twist through my hair at the back of my head and he yanks me backwards off of Christian. I feel his hands trying to wrap around me, to pull me back and away from my husband, so once again I begin fighting against him as if my life depended on it. Because Christian’s life does.

“No, no, no!” I scream, kicking him away and scratching against the marble floor to try and crawl my way back to Christian. His hand secures around my ankle and he pulls, hard, dragging me away again. My hands leave blood colored streaks across the floor as I search for something, anything to grab onto.

There’s nothing. And I am no match for Linc’s strength.

He leans down over the top of me and takes hold of my arms, finally pinning me to the floor. “You want to do this the hard way? Good. The harder you fight me, the more you struggle, the harder I get.” He grinds his pelvis into, proving he’s not speaking metaphorically. I start to sob as grief and terror begin to overwhelm me and he shifts his grip, holding both of my wrists above my head with one hand and subduing the rest of my body with his. I feel his free hand come down and begin to grope my breasts over my bra and then he leans in to drag his tongue over the lobe of my ear. “Should we start now? Maybe Christian should see the first time. That way, he won’t have to imagine what’s happening to you later. He’ll know, and he’ll get to feel what it’s like to have everything he’s ever wanted or cared about stolen away from him. Just like he did to me. I want him to wake up every morning knowing that I have what’s his. That I have you.”

“Ple-ease… let me go.”

He groans. “Fuck yes. Beg me to stop, Ana. God, you’re going to be fun. Mmm, it’s been a long time since I’ve had pussy as young as yours. I can’t wait to taste it.”

His hand moves away from my breast and then moves down. At first, I think he’s going to try and remove my panties, but when he reaches into his own pants and pulls out a syringe with clear liquid inside from his pocket, the fear that bursts inside of me is so much more palpable than anything I could have ever imagined. Whatever he tries, I can still fight him. I can still try to escape. I can still try to stop him. That needle is the kill switch to whatever hope there is left.

I squirm and thrash beneath him but his grip is so sure, it doesn’t even seem like he notices me struggling. He lifts the syringe to his mouth and uses his teeth to pull off the cap, then twists it in his hand and brings it down hard and fast into my thigh. I scream both from pain and defiance, but he’s only pushed the plunger halfway down when something hard hits him and he’s knocked onto the ground at my side, ripping the needle from my skin.

My head swims and my eyelids start to feel extremely heavy. It’s like a fog that has taken hold of my consciousness that I can’t shake away. It makes everything around me feel like a dream that I’ll only half remember in the morning.

With great deal of effort, I turn my head toward the movement I can see out of the corner of my eye and realize that the thing that hit him was Christian. He has Linc pinned beneath him and he hits him across the face so hard it sends a splatter of blood from his mouth across the pristine floor.

“No one threatens my wife,” Christian growls. He lifts his fist to punch him again, but Linc strikes first, hitting him in the side where he’s been wounded by the bullet. Christian lets out a horrifying yell, filled with pain, and it’s exactly the opportunity Linc needs. He shoves Christian away and then clamors over the top of him before he begins delivering his own rain of blows. A voice far in the back of my head screams at me to do something, to intervene, but my body is so heavy with the drug that I can’t get anything to move. Everything in my field of vision starts to move, like the colorful swirl of light on the surface of a bubble. I shake my head again, fighting desperately to stay alert, but it’s getting harder.

“Ana.” The almost ghostly sounding call comes from the other side of the room and when I turn to look, I see Luke struggling to pull himself across the floor.

“Luke!” I gasp with relief. He’s hurt, I can see that in his face and the way he can barely move, but he’s alive. And alive is help…

With a heavy groan, he pulls his hand back and then thrusts something forward at me. As it skitters to a stop at my side, I can only just make out that it’s a gun. My eyes move back to him, panting and struggling to stay conscious through the pain of his wounds, and I realize that he’s giving me the weapon because he’s not going to be able to get close enough or aim well enough in his state to be sure he won’t hit Christian.

But how could I?

I reach for it, struggling against the blackness that is trying desperately to cloud over my eyes, and wrap my hand around the handle of the gun. It’s heavy, maybe too heavy for me to lift while I’m fighting off the sedative, but before I even have the chance to turn back to the life or death fight taking place only feet away from me, another gunshot rings through the apartment.

And then everything goes black.

Next Chapter

Advertisements

119 thoughts on “Chapter 48

  1. “Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.”
    ― Criss Jami
    “Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.”
    ― André Malraux
    “Until you realize how easily it is for your mind to be manipulated, you remain the puppet of someone else’s game.”
    ― Evita Ochel

    Like

  2. Omg…. no you can’t end the chapter here I need to know what happens next I need to know who was shot who was the person that pulled the trigger I can’t wait until next Monday to know what happened that’s complete torture I won’t survive I’ve been on the edge of my seat reading this chapter practically biting my nails off… lol
    Please say your not going to make us wait a whole excruciatingly long week to find out what happened please I’m begging you give us another chapter
    But I gotta give it to you I like how you through of for a moment there and had us believing that it was that other guy ( I can’t remember his name) I always thought it could be Linconl cause Christian took his company not so much cause of what happened with Elena cause it was never really said what had happened with their divorce or anything like that but it all makes sense now
    But I’m hoping that maybe Ray got worried that Ana wasn’t picking up and sent someone to check up on them and that’s who could of fired the final shot maybe it’s Carrick or Elliot or the FBI or that some how Christian was able to get ahold of the gun and shot Linc or maybe even Kate or just anybody they’ve gone through so much they deserve to be free from this nightmare
    I bet after all this Christian will be full of remorse because just one wrong decision that he made led up to all of this to so many people loosing their life’s of others being hurt . Maybe he won’t be able to see GEH that same anymore cause in a way the money that he used to start it of with cane from that bad decision that he made and that has put him and everyone he loves in danger … can’t wait to see what you still have in store for us Monday seems to be a long time away from now …lol

    Like

    1. Yeah, and I’m hoping it is a definite HEADSHOT so that the medics won’t waste precious triage time on Lincoln when they need to spend in on Christian and Sawyer and Ana! (AND a shot to Lincoln’s nether-regions would only be a dead giveaway to a premeditated shooting, so I guess I just will have to be happy with a direct shot to Andrew’s evil head!)

      Like

  3. Holy shit what a place to leave the chapter. At least Christian, Ana, Luke and Calli are alive at the moment. I guess Linc didn’t care too much for his daughter. Can’t say that Linc killing Gia made upset but it did Kommer but then he was a traitor too and is with Gia now as well.

    How the hell is Luke still alive with three bullets is the chest unless he has on Kevlar?

    Where the hell did that last shot come from? But I so hope it was directed at Linc? Maybe since Ana didn’t call ray back he came over and shot Linc? I so hope they all wake up in the hospital and are all on the mend in the next chapter. We can’t lose those four! Please

    Like

  4. I knew it! I knew it!

    I knew it was Linc at the top!! Wow, this was exciting. You can really weave a good story because even though I thought it was Linc from the beginning, you had me constantly second guessing myself all the way through. I really, really like that you brought things back full circle for Christian. He has finally been forced to really face what he’s done. I’ve always felt that Christian never really got the magnitude of the impact of his choices to his own life and the lives of those around him. Great, great storytelling!!!!!!!!

    OK, now that it’s hit him in the face, please let Christian, Ana and Luke be ok. And, please let Christian find a healthy way to deal with the fall out from this after it’s all over. Don’t let him fall into the predictable pattern of self loathing.

    Oh, and while I’m begging, please don’t make us wait another week to find out who was shot in the end. Could we please get a bonus chapter this week?

    Like

  5. So intense, poor Ana and poor Calli, God I so hope that it’s Ray because Ana didn’t answer his call, I so hope he did some kind of Houdini act to get to them….her As hoping that everyone we love dearly survives and that Calli isn’t deaf from the gunshots.

    Like

    1. Taylor and Ray are BOTH ex-military, and Taylor already knew how short-staffed security was. AND since Taylor couldn’t help Christian physically while stuck in the hospital, YOU KNOW that Taylor was back to hacking on the computer as soon as his fingers would work for him again.) When the hacking revealed that the Conspiracy “plan” was set to go down this particular night, I imagine Ray and Taylor made the decision to get on a plane to Seattle. (And I could see Taylor having Ray help SNEAK him out of the hospital, since the doctors would have never agreed to let him be voluntarily discharged!) Taylor may have even been the one to ACTUALLY hack the info and learn that Gia was Jane Doe AND had contact with Andrew Lincoln. Taylor would KNOW that there could be no coincidence there! So Taylor and Ray were probably either in contact with Sawyer OR couldn’t get him when they landed.

      (For all we know, Sawyer might have JUST gotten the intel from Taylor when Kommer showed up with a gun. Sawyer could have seen Kommer coming, alerted Taylor, and then “let” Kommer take him, KNOWING that Kommer would bring him up to the penthouse. I mean, how ELSE do you explain Sawyer not trying to make a play for the gun in the garage or the elevator? Once Sawyer knew Kommer was a bad guy, then he KNEW that everything was going to go down in the penthouse, and he needed to be there if he had any CHANCE of helping Ana and Christian, even if wounded!)

      Meanwhile, upon landing in Seattle, RAY would have tried to call Ana to tell her that he and Taylor had secured a helicopter and were on their way. Once Ray couldn’t get Ana OR Christian OR Sawyer, then the men KNEW to come in, guns blazing, expecting an AMBUSH.

      HOWEVER, due to Andrew Lincoln being STUPID AND CRAZY enough to shoot ALL his MOST-DEVOTED allies, he has left himself vulnerable, EVEN though he had a gun and incapacitating drugs, due to the sheer fact that Ana and Christian at least outnumber him. And Sawyer still had a gun within reach, although he has to be SERIOUSLY injured.

      AND Christian would NEVER let Ana go without a fight, KNOWING what horrible cruelties would await Ana if he did. And Christian is YOUNGER than Andrew AND much more fit, presumably, even though Christian is shot. He has the adrenaline running through his system.

      So I’m convinced the gun that went off most likely belongs to RAY, although it could be Taylor. We just don’t (yet) know how recovered Taylor is. I would think Taylor would still be in relatively bad shape, given the amount of bullets that hit him in the previous drive-by shooting. AND if Taylor were medically cleared to be released from the hospital, then you KNOW he would have returned to Christian’s side earlier. STILL, Taylor would NOT sit this one out, in my opinion, if he could move, GIVEN THAT KOMMER allowed HIS SECURITY MEN to be killed due to the security compromises, caused by Kommer. SO TAYLOR would want to come in with guns blazing for his OWN vindication!

      Since Ray couldn’t get ahold of Ana, and Taylor couldn’t get ahold of Christian or Sawyer, then they would KNOW that the elevator was most likely breached/stopped. So Ray most likely crawled through the elevator shaft, opening the elevator from the top, where it would still be stopped at the Penthouse so that no one else could use it or recall it. Since the elevator was not ON, then you would NOT hear the elevator doors over battle royale going on still in the penthouse. SO RAY CAN PRESUMABLY get enough into Escala to fire directly into Andrew Lincoln’s skull (although I frankly hopes he shoots several painful shots into Andrew’s nether regions, and then letting him bleed out!).

      I can’t really see Ana firing the shot, giving her being pumped full of drugs and having a hard time moving. Plus, she could risk hitting Christian by mistake. ONLY if she got ahold of the gun and literally pulled on it as Andrew came crashing on her could I see it firing directly into Andrew Lincoln, at this point.

      (AND I really DO hope it is RAY or Taylor that got to fire the shots rather than Christian or Ana, because I can see Ana having a really hard time with actually killing someone, no matter how bad that person might be. Even though she would be TOTALLY JUSTIFIED in the shooting. AND Taylor and Ray are somehow DUE the right to shoot Andrew, given that Carla will be avenged as well as the tempted horrendous actions that Andrew clearly intended to do towards Ana! And as said above, TAYLOR has had to watch his men, SOME OF WHOM HE SERVED with in the military, be gunned down as a result of breaches in security which were caused by KOMMER on behalf of Andrew’s Conspiracy. So the right of separating what little brains Andrew has left from his body really OUGHT to go to one of them.)

      Like

  6. Excellent chapter, Tara!! So exciting and thrilling!! You did a great job building up the suspense all this time. Talk about a psycho! He’s depraved and deranged! I blame Elena for that. So many people guessed Linc, but I was on the fence. I guess I wanted to be surprised, lol!! Poor little Calliope, and thank God Luke didn’t die, maybe he was wearing a bullet proof vest! Christian rose to the rescue due to an adrenaline rush, no doubt and I hope that the other gunshot was from Ray or Taylor toward Linc. They are going to need that helicopter to get the wounded to the hospital. When you ended with “Then everything goes black”, I thought to myself that Ana died since the story is written from her POV. 😥I immediately thought of the last episode of The Sopranos. Ugh, I’m letting my imagination run away with me. I can’t wait till next week!

    Like

  7. After reading some of the comments yesterday. I had to build the nerves to read the chapter. I said from the beginning that only Andrew Lincoln could have carried that types of hatred for Christian. The last few chapters I was really unable to review. Gresham made no sense to me other than being blackmailed. But chapter 47 Tara gave us a twist Gia which for days I was trying desperately to connect what was her parts. Then I remembered Elena conversation from prison. Lincoln could have children anywhere. Need to reread before I can really comments. Also has to get my nerves, tears, heart in working order.

    Like

    1. Yeah, I actually thought Elena was trying to DIRECTLY mislead Christian with her “excuse” that Andrew had a child or children out there from affairs. I figured that was Elena’s way of “justifying” seeking an extramarital affair herself. AND I couldn’t imagine Elena giving Christian ANY clues regarding the Conspiracy unless she was paid.

      So my original conclusion was that the red herring was Andrew’s out-of-wedlock child. NOW, looking back, WHY would Elena have thrown something like that out there unless she KNEW for certain that Andrew, indeed, HAD extramarital affairs and at least one child, GIA. So Andrew was presumably bragging to Elena about having previously wronged her before she ever wronged him! AND that Gia was part of the plan. (OR else ISAAC knew of the relationship and told it to Elena.)

      Quite frankly, I couldn’t imagine Andrew being chummy enough with Elena to give her ANYTHING about other Conspiracy members that HE had chosen himself. After all, Elena had NO loyalties to Andrew and FAR more reason to trust Christian to try to save her with the intel that she had learned.

      There are still unanswered questions for me about Elena’s death. At this point, it sounds like Andrew DELIBERATELY had her smuggled out of prison just so he could kill her in a particularly heinous way. Otherwise, the “riot” was to explain particularly awful stuff found done to Elena by prison guards or people Andrew smuggled IN to do the dirty work. AND since Andrew had undoubtedly learned of Elena’s past history, he probably chose the WORST psychologically damaging death for Elena possible. AND I still can’t feel sorry for Elena, given ALL that she deliberately did to hurt people that were entirely innocent (Ros, Ana).

      But KNOWING Andrew like she did, you would think that Elena would have chosen to save her life by voluntarily giving Christian his name. After all, stopping Andrew Lincoln would have meant that Elena would probably not have died. BUT ELENA was the one who would NOT live without substantial wealth and power, so she really WAS Andrew’s perfect, psychotic match!

      THAT was the one thing I was wrong about—I had assumed that Gia would turn out to be Andrew’s MISTRESS, not his daughter. After all, Gia is blond and manipulative. Her strategies of trying to ISOLATE family members from one another were CLASSIC Elena. So I figured that Andrew, in his psychotic state, had been trying to groom his own “new” Elena in Gia. Turns out he WAS trying to use Gia in the same way as Elena would use people, BUT it was in a parent/child way. But then, WHAT PARENT WOULD pimp out their own CHILD? I mean, Andrew was one more sick puppy. And he SAID that he “only” wanted the 100 thousand, but he already had taken the 65 million. AND he only gave Gia 10 million of that.

      So Andrew was as psychologically damaging to a child as Elena. Those two really were a match made in the realm of Hades! I’m just hoping that the shot at the end of this chapter means that Andrew will now be joining Elena in a horrible burning afterlife!

      (AND I’m assuming that Gresham is already dead, having been disposed of by Andrew before he turned his attentions towards Escala. After all, Gia talked about Gresham the way she did about Leila and others that were dead and had messed up. And THAT was Andrew’s truly most STUPID move—disposing of his most LOYAL conspiracy members, Gia and Kommer.

      And although I probably definitely need a re-read of the chapter myself to see if everyone’s fate has been accounted for, it is rather too grizzly for me to get through twice, ESPECIALLY since it comes from Ana’s point-of-view. I mean, the two most important people in the world to her are threatened, AND Sawyer is shot point-blank in front of her! So I am not anxious to re-live the pain. I just plan to happily assume that Ray and Taylor came to the rescue and have everything in control (or medics on the way, etc.) until next Monday. I refuse to think of the alternative!

      Like

  8. Knowing that Lincoln was the “He” although totally disapproving with his actions towards so many victims. I do understand in beginning when Linc and Elena was vacationing with the Grey’s when he over heard Ana and Elena discussion. Linc at that very time outed his wife to the Grey’s. As a results he fifty percent of his business. Carrick who handled Linc divorce from Elena even made sure that Linc came out better financial than Elena. So the unknown! Was Christian actions on the Stand enought to make Linc fly the coo coo nest. I Agree with Linc when he stated he’s not a man anymore. He became A monster.

    I know that I’m all over the place with this review. But today I don’t care. I probably need a session today myself.

    We new a few chapters back that security had been compromised. Just too many things was happening/or not on Kommer watch. So was Carter killed in the street because he was a recruit or because he went to Christian on their wedding day to provide intels?

    Gia has absolutely nothing to gained other than ownership of a father. Who was too scarred and angry to forgive and rebuild his umpire. Not knowing that after the divorce he had taken out most of the trash. Linc could have started over with his daughter and had a wonderful life. He had Carrick in his corner who was humiliated by Christian as well.

    The bloodshed and poor baby. I really hope that she will continue to have her hearing after all of this is said and done. Can I just say that I love Ana in this chapter, fighting for her family at the expense of possibly death for her. I know at the end she will survive. The drugs caused the black out. Sawyer and Christian I don’t want to speculate because I know that in the end the both of them will be ok.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have to agree that Linc became a monster, but he didn’t start out that way. Linc was a monster made!! Even in this chapter, he still didn’t seem angry. It was worse — he seemed indifferent. Like he said, he just doesn’t care anymore — about anyone or anything. It was interesting that he could shoot his own child while at the same time, actually be playful with Calliope. He’s obviously gone berserk — and is now insane. Everything now is all about his obsession. Still, I have to acknowledge that this man had his “nose rubbed in it” over and over again. By people he cared about. Though he had no right to do anything he did, he had reason to feel abused, betrayed, humiliated and abandoned.

    He was grossly misused and in the end, grossly under estimated by Elena, who went after him again vengefully. He defended Christian, was concerned about Christian in the beginning and show himself to be a good friend to the Greys. He never blamed Christian for the relationship before. It was all the stuff Christian did after. And through it all, I can’t say that I’ve seen Christian give him one iota of thought.

    Obviously, it was both Christian and Elena that certainly had a hand in pushing him over the brink, but he actually seemed more intent on Christian than even Elena (unless, of course, there is more info to come on exactly how Elena died). Linc had nothing to do with Elena going to prison, so the most he did to her was order her death. But, Christian… he messed with Christian’s mind then he killed a lot of people to get to Christian. Pretty much like Elena, who played psychological games with Christian to keep him in line. The plans he had for Christian were very elaborate, since he could have just killed him as he did the others. And, you can tell by his approach after they are finally in the same room that he’s thought a “whole lot” about Christian.

    Having said all this, I really hope that it was Linc who was finally shot. There’s no place for him anymore other than prison or death. Hopefully, we can get some insight into Linc and his thoughts (hint, hint).

    Like

  10. I had suspected Linc only because of the offshore bank account name and Christian changing his mind lying and saving Elena might have angered him because Christian was the reason why his divorce happened and the money Elena received from the settlement also helped Christian starts his company that also ends up swallowing Lincoln Timber. So it was all an ultimate revenge that made him unhinged and deadly. Suspenseful, riveting, gruesome, Linc had turned into a monsters. Unstable people don’t take much to unhinged them and had plenty of them in this story. Poor Calliope her hearing might have been compromised with these multiple gunshots in close range. Who is going to shot Linc. What happened to Linc’s gun? He should still have it and Christian and him could also be battling for the gun. Whover has the trigger can pull it and it will be Christian shooting Linc to the chest directly to his heart. Now there is a helicopter on the helipad it can call backup help and transport the wounded. Hope they all recover. Can’t wait for Monday. Thank you, Tara.

    Like

  11. I found this link via the Facebook group. Three days later and it’s safe to say I haven’t been this hooked on a fanfic series since the butterfly saga by bronze goddess. Look forward to the next chapter 🙂

    Like

  12. I was so not looking forward to this chapter as I knew it would be intense …talk about “eye for eye and tooth for tooth” – only you could do that Tara.. lol. I hope the shot was at Linc and he’s finished. Yes Christian did Linc wrong and in hindsight he somewhat deserves to be punished, especially for the affair he had with Elena, but Linc destroying innocent peoples lives just to get his revenge on Christian was much more worse. Kommer deserves what he got.. the bloody traitor. And Gia, well never saw that coming. But good riddance! Oh poor Calli! No one is attending to her, and she must be still crying in pain and fear… please let them all be ok, Christian, Ana, Calli and Luke. Thanks Tara

    Like

  13. I keep forget Ava is the name of the babysitter and not kate/elliots daughter….for a second i thought the story took a dark turn, then i remembered they dont have a baby yet. Still a very intense situation though.

    Like

  14. Brilliant!!!!! Absolulty splendid!!!! I have no words to express the number of feeling I went through while reading this. You are an AMAZING writer and I can’t wait for the day you write your own book.
    Love this story!!!! Honestly I was like how the F*** did I not guess Lincoln to be Mr . conspirator.

    Like

  15. I don’t believe that Christian did wrong Linc PER SE, he was a VICTIM of Elena since he was a little boy and she moved to Bellevue, a little kid, that she ‘GROOMED’ like pedophiles do, and introduced him to a lifestyle at 15 years old that wasn’t for kids. She messed with his mind, a mind that was already messed up by his birth mother and her pimp. Unfortunately she controlled and manipulated him in such a way that he didn’t have a mind of his own, that is obvious in Tara’s first book, when he starts in Harvard and she calls and visits him. It’s only when he met Anastasia and fell in love for the first time in his life, that he starts rebelling against Elena. But Elena was a master manipulator and she knew what buttons to push to get him to do what ever she wanted him to do, she was doing it since he was a kid. Don’t get me wrong, he did wrong Linc, but I believe that in his mind he thought he was AVENGING Elena for what Linc SUPPOSEDLY did to Elena. He lied in the stand because she manipulated him once again and she made it sound like it was alright, that Linc abused her, they weren’t doing anything wrong, that he wanted it, etc. There were other aspects too, like Carrick’s rejection to his dropping out of college, Elena’s making him believe that his family didn’t care for him, and wanting to separate him from them, which she did after all, etc.
    Tara, congratulations, you have written an outstanding trilogy, I wish you could publish them, you’re a very talented writer. Believe me when I say it, I can’t write anything even to save my life, but I’m an avid reader. Thank you for this great stories that delve deep into the minds of the main characters.

    Tara could you please tell me the chapter in the first book where Christian is a little boy who loves to be with Elena when she just moves with Linc to Bellevue, that to me is the start of his grooming.

    Like

    1. Gigi M

      I agree with your comments Gigi, what Elena did to Christian from such a young age is something we all talk about in the whole oeuvre of the fifty shades but the reality is so much more shocking. This little boy who was neglected and abused by his birth mother while she let her pimp abuse him for her next hit. I know there is so much more to addiction and we could talk about that until the cows come home but keeping on topic this little boys earliest memories are filled with being scared and I think on some instinctual level was desperate for someone to take control with love by a ‘parental’ figure/s which is what we all want and deserve. Then along comes Saint Grace and in her desperation to want to ‘heal’ her son she confides in her supposed bestfriend who is secretly plotting when you think about it from the day she meets this four year old scared little boy. When I read the chapter I think you were asking about of Linc looking back at Elena and Christian’s earliest interactions it’s like Linc sees what appears to be a bond forming between his wife and this neglected little boy who is weary of everyone especially men but as we all know it’s not a healthy bond. It’s so sickening to realise what Elena was doing from such a young age. The grooming sexual predator are known for is to make their victims so reliant on them and prey on their fears and in Christian’s case make him feel he is unlovable and that he deserves the harsh touch because not even his birth mother loved him enough to stop the abuse he received as a child. Then along comes Ana who turns everything he knows upside down, especially when your young and you think someone’s hot and your lusting and in Christian’s case his lust for Ana was actually love. Even Elena realises that once Ana was in the picture she was toast. So she tried to manipulate the Grey family into paint Ana as a gold digger but even she couldn’t stop true love. As much as Linc can think that Christian is to blame for his loses he must have realised that Elena was the mastermind behind it all. If she could get him to lie for her on the stand and even when Linc sort Elena’s services to being Christian down she told Linc all of Christian’s weakness, Linc really should have put two and two together to see what a number his ex-wife did on this poor kid.

      Tara did an amazing job of reanimating this book. Of course El James bought us these books and wonderful characters but Tara really brought them into life that imo was more electric because for me I got a real sense of the devestation of what Elena’s actions really caused and all of the outtakes give us an insight into the major players and their thoughts. Again one of the stories I’ve read. I am looking forward to reading the outtakes of this final book.

      Like

  16. I have seriously came back everyday and reread this chapter. It’s amazing, and though I predicted Lincoln from the start I could have never fathomed this! Beautifully written, spell binding.

    Like

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google+ photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.