Chapter 08

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The campus tour we take the following morning with the over bubbly student orientation director isn’t the best for reminiscing over all the things I’ve missed about being a student here. Yes, we hit everything a freshman would need to be able to find, and all of the famous landmarks, but I personally wish we could have spent just a bit more time in the library or trekking through the halls of some of the buildings I used to have classes in. The focus on the needs of the freshman do, however, bring back a lot of memories of my own first year here, and as we step in for a tour of Grays Hall, it’s like I’ve entered into a time warp.

I haven’t been in this building even one time since Christian and I left for New York at the end of our one and only year here together, but nothing has changed. The piano Kate and I found him playing when we came home from a late night bonfire at the beginning of the term still stands proud right in entryway. The moment I lay eyes on the staircase before us, I am able to recall the halls above in perfect clarity, and the faint, familiar smell of must and hot lint from the laundry room that still fills the air around us almost seems to carry me up there.

The tour guide leads us into the sitting room off the side where Kate and I used to come study or watch movies when we had company. While she explains the benefits of having the in-dorm kitchenette, I drag my finger across the fabric on the back of the sofa in front of the TV, remembering one very specific night when Kate and Elliot were camped out on Christian’s floor, so he dragged me down here so we could make love in the dark. It was hot and heavy, and the memory of it makes me smile, until I remember what happened immediately after we’d finished.

BANG! BANG!

The distant sound of gunshots echo through the room and at first, I think it’s just my memories coming back to me too strongly. But the rest of the tour group suddenly erupts in screams and when Luke moves to stand between me and the door, I know it’s not just a memory.

BANG!

I turn and reach for Mia, throwing her onto the floor and covering her with my body, holding my hands over her head protectively. “Shhh. Don’t scream. Don’t scream.”

Another gunshot sounds and something falls hard and heavy onto the floor next to me. I risk a glance, but wish I didn’t when I see Luke writhing in agony, struggling to breathe.

“No!” I gasp, with tears pooling in my eyes. “Luke, no! Please!”

“Ana,” he moans back. I reach out for him, searching for the source of the blood quickly pooling over the floor beneath him, but before I find his wound, a hand clasps around my wrist and wrenches me up off the floor. There isn’t even enough time for me to react before I’m yanked around and see Andrew Lincoln’s cold familiar eyes staring down into mine.

“Gotchya!”

I scream as I’m pulled from my nightmare and find myself sitting bolt upright in the bed, gulping for air like I’ve been underwater. My entire body shakes, my face is wet and tight from my tears, but the buzzing of my phone on my nightstand quickly reminds me that everything I just saw wasn’t real. Taking a breath, I reach over, read Christian’s name across the screen, and swallow my fear as I answer the call.

“Hello?” Surprisingly, my voice isn’t as weak as I anticipated.

“What happened to ‘call me when you land and leave me a message?’” he demands.

“What?”

“I asked you to call me when you landed and leave me a message. You didn’t.”

“Oh, shit. I’m sorry. Callie had a rough time on the plane and it took us so long to get the car and get home… I forgot.”

“You forgot?”

“I know… I’m sorry, Christian. Really.”

He sighs. “You got there, that’s all I care about.”  

“We did. How was your flight?”

“Long. We’re at the hotel now but I’ve got about ten minutes before we’re leaving for the preliminary inspection.”

“Oh, so you’re just calling to check on me then?”

“And to find out how your night went. Does it feel good to be back?”

“Yeah. We drove around town to show Mia all the places she’ll need to find once she moves next fall and then ordered Angelos. The house is empty, so we mostly just played board games, but it feels good to be back. Almost like coming home.”

“Almost?”

“Well, you’re not here. No place could ever be home without you.”

He lets out a soft, sentimental breath. “I miss you.”

“Me too. I don’t like the way the bed feels when you’re not here. It’s too big. Too cold. And I stayed up far too late tonight looking up at the ceiling, remembering all the pleasant memories you and I have made in this room.”

Pleasant, huh? I’m not sure that’s the word I would use to describe the things I’ve done to you in that bed.”   

“Would you prefer ‘filthy’?”

His breath hisses between his teeth. “Oh, definitely.”

I hum and squirm beneath the covers. “Like the night before we went to Paris? You were out of control that night.”

“Or the night before your graduation.”

“With my vibrator?”

“Mhm. God, you were so fucking hot.”

“You made me come like four times…”

“Yeah.” The word comes out in a whisper, dripping with desire, and it makes my entire body shiver with want.

“Christian…” I breathe.

“Fuck, stop.”

“What?”

“We’re leaving in a few minutes and moaning my name through the phone like that is going to get me hard. This trip will be pointless if I spend the entire time we’re at the plant picturing you coming on my… ugh, stop.”

“Fine.” I sigh, and he breathes out a laugh.

“Don’t worry, baby. I’ll be more than happy to reminisce with you the moment we’re home.”

“I’m going to hold you to that.”

“Good. Kiss Calliope for me when she wakes up and tell Mia I wish her good luck tomorrow..”

“I will. I love you.”

“I love you, too. So much. Bye, baby.”

He hangs up so I reach over to place my phone back on the nightstand, then roll over and stretch my hand across the empty space in the bed next to me. Once again the memories of the night we’d spent together before my graduation begin to flood my mind, but with my baby sleeping soundly three feet away from me and my husband halfway across the world, all I can do is smile, close my eyes, and let the erotic images lull me off into a much more peaceful sleep.

The next morning, I wake up to the small, indignant sounds Calliope makes, and when I open my eyes, I find her standing up inside her pack and play, staring at me. Her face lights up the moment I look at her and she starts reaching for me.

“Hi, Mama.”

“Hi, baby,” I reply with a smile. I crawl over the top of my bed to lift her into my arms, then carry her around with me as I get ready for the day. It’s not an easy feat, because she’s being much more of a wiggle worm this morning than normal. But she babbles happily after I’ve gotten her changed and dressed and helps me while I put my makeup on. That is, if you consider demanding she be allowed to inspect each and every tube or compact I pick up before I apply it to my face as helping.

When we finally do get downstairs, we find Luke and Mia dressed and ready to go. They’re playing war with a deck of cards on the living room floor together, but Mia practically leaps to her feet the second Calliope and I descend the stairs, then bounces the entire way to the car. She’s too excited to worry about such trivial things as breakfast, but I know that if I don’t stop to feed Calliope before attempting to push her in a stroller around campus all day, we’re going to face at least one epic meltdown, so I ask Luke to pull into a tiny diner off campus. It was a place Kate and I used to go on weekends all the time, and I’m surprised when we enter that the waitress who seats us still remembers Luke and me. She even brings me a mug of hot Twinings before I’ve even ordered.

“Your daughter is a shameless flirt,” Luke says, nodding to the table next to us. I turn to look, and see an elderly couple in the next booth, and the old man seated there smiles and waves at Calliope, who smiles shyly in return.

“Can you say, hi?” I ask, gripping her toes through her shoes and shaking her foot.

“Hi, hi,” she repeats, her eyes wide with excitement.

“Well hello, young lady,” the old man says. “You’re very cute.”  She makes a small giggling sound, and the man turns to me. “How old is she?”

“Almost ten months.”

“That’s a good age. Enjoy it. They grow up far too quickly.”

“I will.” I smile back at him and his eyes twinkle. He then pulls his wife’s hand up from under the table and presses his lips into her fingers. She beams and then scoops up a bite of hashbrowns to feed her husband and as he makes a playful show of eating them off her fork, I suddenly feel flushed with warmth. The love between them is so obvious, even in their golden years. And as I force myself to look away, I think to myself, that’s going to be Christian and me in sixty years.

 

We hurry through breakfast and then make our way to the campus. There’s a giant sign outside the building where we’re supposed to register that says FYRE, First Year Retreat and Experience, and after getting signed in and being assigned to an upperclassman ambassador, we file into an auditorium for a pre-orientation presentation.The student volunteers put on a skit about student life at Harvard and play a few games with the crowd to get all the new students hyped up. It’s corny, but just like Kate and I did before our freshman year, Mia eats it up. It makes me wonder if Christian went through this same program, and if he did, how much he detested every second of it.

“Alright!” the girl, who I think is probably in charge, chirps excitedly from the stage. “I think it’s time you all got out there and got to experience Harvard for yourself. Everyone meet up with your counselors, and lets get this fun filled weekend off to an amazing start!”

I try to hide my judgemental smile as I turn to Luke, who rolls his eyes, but we get out of chairs and follow Mia to the cheerful looking girl wearing the name tag that matches the name of the counselor she was assigned. There are parents present, accompanying the other people in Mia’s group, so Luke and I hang back with them and let Mia play the introduction games with her peers on her own. I think the presentation we just sat through might have been a little over stimulating for Calliope, because she sits quietly on my hip, looking around with mild interest, until eventually she rests her head on my shoulder and falls asleep. It makes following Mia’s group out of the building much easier, because I can lay Callie in her stroller and close the shade to keep the sun off of her, instead of fighting to keep her still and quiet.

The tour itself is actually a lot more fun and interactive than I anticipated. Our tour guide is very knowledgeable about the history of the campus and provides some interesting facts even I hadn’t know. Outside the math building, she tells us that when Harvard first opened its doors to students, Calculus wasn’t a class that was offered because in 1636, it hadn’t been invented yet. I did know that notable Harvard alumni included eight people who signed the Declaration of Independence and eight Presidents, but I didn’t know that the grooves in the sidewalks near the dorms weren’t just from age and decay, but rather from students throwing cannonballs out of their windows during the Revolutionary War. Turns out, the Old Yard is its own kind of war zone, and as our tour guide talks about student life during each of the World Wars, I glance up and see Grays Hall standing tall and proud directly across the lawn.

Suddenly, the talk of memorials for fallen students feels all too familiar and the cold memory of my nightmare from last night washes over me like a phantom. Knowing that I still have some residual feelings over what happened, which may be exacerbated by all that I’m still working through from last summer, I’m suddenly not sure that I want to go in. It had been something I was looking forward to before we arrived, I wanted to be able to relive those early memories I had with Christian. But now I’m realizing, while the gunshots from my dream echo through my mind, that some of those memories might be better left in the past.

“Hey,” Luke whispers, leaning into me so he won’t be overheard by the rest of the group. “It’s nearly noon and it’s not like he works a full day. If we’re going to do this, we need to go.”

Oh, thank god. I hadn’t realized how late in the day it was getting. It looks like I’m going to miss Grays Hall anyway.

“Oh, right. I—um…” In my split second of hesitation, the tour guide turns and begins leading the group into the Holworthy dormitory. But as Mia bounds ahead, my phone rings in my bag, giving me an excuse to lag behind.

“Ana?” she checks, stopping and looking back at me with a raised eyebrow. “You coming?”

“Go ahead, I’ll catch up with you later.” She raises an eyebrow, so I give her a dismissive smile, then step to the side of the wide walkway and begin digging for my phone. The number displayed on the screen is unfamiliar, telling me only that the call is coming from New York. But I still get enough calls regarding Escape from Random House that I don’t hesitate before answering it.

“Hello?”

“I do understand the publishing industry in Seattle,” a vaguely familiar voice replies.

“Excuse me?”

“You said I don’t, but I do. I know very well who you are, Anastasia.” There’s half a beat of silence before she begins to speak again, and though she doesn’t stop to introduce herself, I realize very quickly that the voice belongs to Carmen Gallagher from Greenwich Small Press. Though I have no idea why she’s calling me. “I heard all about the infamous college intern Grey hired for the GEH/SIP acquisition and how quickly you turned it around and made it successful. We were chasing Boyce Fox and you swiped him right out from under us. My people tried to stop you and when they couldn’t, I demanded answers as to why someone who had no experience in this industry bested them. I tried so hard to capitalize on all the bad press you and Grey got that summer over those sexual harassment allegations, all to no avail, and I’ve been meeting with tech engineers for almost a year trying to create a prototype for a e-reader tablet to compete with the one you released through Grey Publishing. I’ve read Escape. I’ve seen you speak at conferences and on TV. I know who you are. But when Christian Grey calls your office and says he’ll owe you a personal favor for just not hiring his wife, you take it. And I did. I didn’t give you a fair interview, I didn’t even consider you as a viable option. I chased you out. It was a calculated decision based on what I thought I’d be able to get out of Grey and the likelihood we’d find another suitable candidate to take over at GSP. But I made the wrong choice. I’ve gone through five additional interviews since we met and not one of the candidates I’ve seen can hold a candle to your resume or your track record. You were right, we need you, Anastasia. So, if you’ll accept my most sincere apology for the way I spoke to you in that interview, the way I dismissed you, I’d love it if you and I could start over and you’d come help me run my publishing company.”

The sincerity that drips from every word she says floors me. I feel like I’ve had the wind knocked out of me and it takes me a few seconds before I can catch my breath enough to respond. “I’m sorry… what did you say?”

“I’m offering you the job, Anastasia. I’d be so grateful to have you on the team at GSP.”

“No, before. About Christian. He told you not to hire me?”

“Yes. And… I don’t want to start anything between a husband and wife, but I don’t want you to think that I dismissed you because I don’t believe in what you’re capable of. I do. I just didn’t realize when I chose to take what Grey was offering how rare of a find you really were.”

I pinch the bridge of my nose and try to shake away the millions of arguments crowding my head. “I-um… I’m sorry. I’m actually in the middle of a campus tour with my little sister, can I call you back on Monday?”

“Absolutely. I know this a big decisions, so take your time. This is my personal cell phone, so you can call me back on this number when you’ve made up your mind, or you can reach out to Wallace. If you still have his business card…”

“I do. Thank you, Ms. Gallagher.”

“Carmen, please. And… Thank you, Anastasia. I really hope you’ll come on board with us.”

“I’ll think about it. Good-bye.” Without waiting for her salutation, I hang up and start looking wildly through the open yard in front of me, trying to make sense of that phone call. I can feel white hot anger rising up inside of me, but I’m also keenly aware that Carmen Gallagher is one of my husband’s biggest competitors and could be saying anything to prevent me from going back to GP. That entire conversation could have been a lie and I trust my husband enough to at least give him the benefit of the doubt.

“So…” Luke says. “Are we going or…?”

“Hold on.” I pick up my phone again and search for Christian’s name, hoping that he’s not too busy with whatever he’s doing in Taiwan right now to pick up.

“Hey, how’s it going?” he answers. “Has she been able to pick a dorm yet? Don’t let her pick Stoughton. Ros lived there freshman year and she said there were times they didn’t even have heat.”

“Did you tell Carmen Gallagher not to hire me?”

“What?”

Good. That seems like genuine surprise. “I just got a phone call from Carmen Gallagher. She offered me the job GSP and told me that the only reason she behaved the way she did in the interview was because you promised to owe her a personal favor if she didn’t hire me.”

“Uh…”

Shit, that’s less confident. “Did you?”

“Well, um…”

“Don’t lie to me, Christian. It’s a yes or no question. Did you ask her not to hire me?” He hesitates for a moment, but eventually, I hear a soft whispered fuck through the phone, and I know Carmen wasn’t lying.

“How dare you!

“Ana, I didn’t think you’d–”

“What? Find out?”

“No. I didn’t think this was really what you wanted. I thought you were pushing yourself into something that was going to make you unhappy because you were trying to prove to me that you were moving on.”

“Now you’re upset that I’m trying to move on? That’s all you’ve been trying to get me to do for six months! This was a good step, Christian. This was healthy. This was my career!.”

“You’re a writer, Anastasia. Not a publishing executive. That is your career.” His tone is cautious, but defensive, and it lights the fuse inside of me, releasing all of the anger I’d previously tried to extinguish.

“You don’t get to decide that for me. I needed this, Christian. This was the first thing that made me feel like I was going to come out the other side of this, that made me feel normal, and you tainted it. I mean, I accepted your less that sympathetic attitude when I didn’t get the job as celebration that you’d got me to come work at Grey Publishing, but now… why did you even make me that offer? If you think I should focus on writing, why ask me to come work for you?”

“You would have gone to another publishing house. At GP, I could have…” He stops, and my teeth clench together in anger.

“You could have what?”

Again, it takes him a second to answer, and when he does, it’s the cold, calculated CEO who responds, not my husband. “You wouldn’t have lasted long.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means that… If you were at GP, I could have made you see reason.”

“Reason? You mean, you could have made me see that I would be better off at home, waiting for you to return from work like the perfect doting wife?”

“Don’t turn this into a sexism thing, Anastasia. Me wanting you to be at home has nothing to do with some misogynistic housewife fantasy.”

“Oh, really? Enlighten me then, Christian. Tell me how purposely sabotaging my career was actually really forward thinking.”

“You weren’t being realistic, Anastasia. You’re not ready for what you were about to sign up for. This job you think you want isn’t one Saturday at conference in SeaTac. It’s nine to five, Monday through Friday, every week. And that doesn’t include travel.”

“I’m fully aware of what the job entailed, Christian.”

“Are you? Because three weeks ago, I practically had to drag you onto a plane to get you to come to the Maldives with me for one week because you didn’t want to leave Calliope. GSP is headquartered in New York and you were applying for a corporate executive position. Do you realize how often you’d have to travel back and forth across the country?”

“Probably not as often as I did it when I was in school. You didn’t have a problem with it then and it was just as hard for me to be away from you as it is for me to be away from Calliope.”

“Then consider what’s really at stake here. It’s not just about when you’ll have to fly to New York. You’re going to be obligated to travel for book tours, promotional events, writing conferences… Elizabeth leaves Seattle every two weeks chasing her authors around or trying to draw in new ones. Are you prepared to leave your family that often?”

“What about you? You’re in Taiwan for business right now. You fly to New York all the time. And even when you are in Seattle, there are days when you work twelve, thirteen hours at a time. It’s not all that rare that Calliope will wake up in the morning after you’ve left and go to bed before you get home.”

“And I hate it. I hate it when I go a single day without spending time with her. I hate that she’s in Cambridge right now with you instead of both of you being here with me. If you take this job, you’ll never be here with me.”

“So, once again, it’s all about GEH.”

“Ana…”

“No, Christian. You can go ahead and call Elizabeth, tell her I won’t be starting on Monday. I’ve accepted another position, so I’m no longer available.”

“Baby, please don’t… Just wait until we get home and we can talk.”

“Oh believe me, we’re going to talk when we get home.” I hang up the phone, seething. Hot, angry tears pool in my eyes as I have no real way to release the feelings of hurt and betrayal bubbling up inside of me. I want to scream. I want to hit something. But I don’t get to do either of those things.

“So…” Luke says awkwardly. “Is everything alright?”

“Fine,” I snap back.

“Okay. I’m fully convinced that’s true, so what do you want to do? Are we going to do this, or are we going after Mia.”

I turn to look at him, my jaw tight and my grip like a vice around Calliope’s stroller. “Of course we’re going to do this. It’s why we’re here.”

It takes us longer than I expected to get across campus, so when we step through the double doors at the front of the building, we’re a little bit later than I wanted to be. It’s very possible he could be out to lunch, or gone for the day, and if I’ve missed him, I don’t know that I’m going to get another chance at this.

“Can I help you?” the receptionist behind the front desk asks.

“Yes. My name is Anastasia… uh, Steele. I’m here to see Astor Harrington, please.”

Her brow crinkles. “I’m sorry, are you one of Mr. Dennison’s clients?”

“No, I’m just here to see Mr. Harrington.”

“I’m sorry, Miss Steele. Mr. Harrington is still a law student. He’s not a licensed attorney. I can refer you to one our partners…”

“Oh, no. I’m not here for legal advice. I’m a… A friend. An old friend, from school.”

“Right. Well, I do believe Mr. Harrington is currently very busy with trial prep but I’ll see if he’s available.” She gestures to the seats in the tiny waiting room, smiles, then gets out of her seat and disappears down the hall.

“You’re sure he’ll come talk to you?” Luke asks.

I bite my lip. “No. But unless you’ve somehow discovered he’s also in the country on an expired visa, this is really our best shot.”

“And you’re sure it’s a good idea? I mean, we have Calliope with us. I’m already worried that this kind of thing might be exposing you to danger, adding the baby to that…”

“It’s fine.” I glance down at Callie, who’s woken up and is currently enraptured by the toys dangling from the handle of her carrier, like a mobile. She’ll be safe, so long as he agrees to my terms. “Harrington’s not violent,” I explain. “That’s not why we’re here.”

“If he’s not violent, why do we care so much about him?”

“We care because Christian wanted to invite him to our wedding.”

“And… he brings bad gifts?”

“They’re enemies. They’ve hated each other since the day they met. When he was here at Harvard, they were constantly trying to one up each other. To come out on top by getting the best of the other. And Christian wanted to send an invitation to him is a clear indication he’s not over their stupid little feud.”

“But if he’s not violent, that’s all just harmless competition, isn’t it? I mean, this guy wasn’t involved with Lincoln.”

I shake my head. “That doesn’t matter. Astor’s not violent but he’s a schemer. And he has money, just like Lincoln. I don’t think he’s a threat right now, but that doesn’t mean he never will be. Especially if he and Christian ever cross paths again. This is a threat we’re eliminating before it becomes a problem.”

“And how do you plan to do that?”

“Anastasia?” The receptionist has returned and smiles warmly at me. “You’re in luck. Mr. Harrington is available.”

“Thank you.” I get up out of my chair, but stop as Luke does the same and moves to follow after me. “Stay here with Calliope. I’ll only be few minutes.”

“Ana…”

“I’ll be back. Five minutes, tops.”

He doesn’t seem to be convinced by my overly cavalier attitude, but I don’t have time to argue with him. If we leave Mia for too long, there will be questions, and I don’t want Astor to think I’m here just to waste his time. So, I turn from Luke and follow after the receptionist, leaving him behind, hovering nervously over my baby’s stroller.

I’m led down a long hallway and into an office at the back of the building. It’s small, and crammed full of boxes, like the kind you’d pack all of your things in if you lost your job, and sitting at the table that takes up most of the space is the man who, the last time I saw him, tried to break Christian and me up by forcefully shoving his tongue down my throat.

“Anastasia?” he asks, getting to his feet.

“Hi. I’m sorry, I hope I’m not interrupting.”

“Not at all. Please,  come in.” He nods to the receptionist, who exits the room and closes the door behind her, while I move forward and take a seat at the table.

“You look good,” I offer as a compliment.

“Yeah, so do you. Uh, I read that you and Grey got married last summer. How’s he doing?”

“Oh, great. Yeah, he’s busy and that’s always good for him, and the company is doing well. We’re great.”

“Good.” The pleasant smile he gives me shifts, and he seems to be gnawing on the inside of his cheek in the brief second before he speaks again. “I… also read about what happened to you last year. There was… a break in?”

My throat tightens. “Yeah.”

“I’m sorry. That must have been terrifying.”

“It was, but we’re moving on. I actually came to see you because I wanted to talk about what you planned to do after Harvard.”

“Awh, man. Honestly, I’ve been so buried in legal research for this trial I’m working on that I haven’t even really had time to consider that. I think I might get an offer from Dennison to come work for his firm, but it hasn’t come yet. Why?”

“Well, I don’t know if you know this but I’m a published author now and I’m actually gearing up for my second release. It’s a lot of contracts and negotiations… My father in law was our family lawyer and handled all my legal work, but he was recently elected as the Mayor of Seattle, so he’s kind of retired from lawyering now. I need to hire someone new.”

“And you want me?”

“You come very highly recommended, and we have a history. That makes me more comfortable than hiring a stranger. And I know that publishing contracts probably don’t sound very exciting, but I promise you… it won’t ever be dull. Believe me. I’m actually here with Christian’s little sister right now, she’s going to be a freshman next year, and if he wasn’t already paying for her to go to school, he would have done it through all the legal fees he’s paid to his father over the past few years.”

“You… want me to be your personal legal counsel?”

“Permanently on retainer, yes. And I’ll make it worth your while. Whatever other offers you get, I’ll beat them. I’ll pay moving expenses, living expenses, benefits packages… whatever you need.”

“That’s very generous”

“I can afford to be.”

“And… your husband? He’s okay with you bringing me on board. I mean… he hates me.”

I swallow, fight to control the quiver in my voice that would give away the lie I’m about to tell, and shake my head. “No, he doesn’t. Actually, he was the one who pointed me in your direction. You’ll be working solely for me and I don’t anticipate the two of you will have any interaction with each other, but I think that he gave me your name because he’s ready to bury the hatchet. Move on. Life’s too short to hold a grudge and we’re both ready to build a bridge with you and move on.”

He smiles. “I agree.”

“Good. Then, you’ll come on board?”

“Um…” He stutters and his mouth hangs open like he’s not sure what he should say, but after a long introspective pause, he nods. “Yeah. I mean, I feel like I’d be insane not to, right?”

“Really? That’s great. I’m so glad to hear you say that because I think that we could really work well together.”

“I think so too.”

“Then, I’ll give you this.” I reach into my bag and pull out a business card with Luke’s contact information on it. “Luke Sawyer will be in contact with you once your workload settles down. He kind of takes care of everything for me so unless I’ve got a personal request, he’ll be the one you’re most likely to hear from. You can call him for anything and he can help you get situated after graduation.”

“Sounds great.”

“Good, then I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Yeah. Hey, thanks for coming in today, Anastasia. Or… Mrs. Grey?”

“Ana,” I reply with a smile. “I’m still just Ana.”

“Ana, then. I’ll see you soon.”

“Yes you will.” I turn to leave, but pause at the door and glance back at him. “And Astor?”

“Yes?”

“Good luck with your trial.”

“Thanks.”

I wink and leave the room, feeling the same sense of vindication cross over me that I felt leaving the dry cleaners a week ago. It’s stronger than just relief. It’s power, potent enough to wash away the left over anxiety I’ve been carrying since I remembered my dream and once again felt the loss and pain over what happened to Kate in Grays Hall my freshman year. I feel tranquil. At peace. And most importantly, in control. That feeling carries me back into the reception area, like I’m walking on air.

“Well?” Luke asks, looking nervous. I turn to smile at the receptionist, thank her for her hospitality, and then nod with my head towards the door so Luke follows me outside. He gets the hint, and steers Calliope out after me, but starts demanding answers again the moment we’re back in the courtyard.

“What happened?”

“He’s coming on as my person legal counsel once he graduates, and Christian doesn’t need to know about it. At least not until I can smooth that over. I’m going to need you to coordinate this for me. Pay him whatever he asks, give him whatever he wants. Just keep him happy and keep an eye on him.”

“You think that’s going to woo him to your side?”

“I know it will.”

“Alright. Then I’ll…”

“Ana?” We both turn in the direction my name is being called, and curiosity turns to shock when I see a slightly frazzled looking Carter Reed walking towards us. His backpack is weighed down and his arms are full of even more books.

“Carter?” I say in surprise. “What are you doing here?”

Next Chapter

 

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53 thoughts on “Chapter 08

  1. M actually pretty confused wid d story, but I guess its expected to be lyk that.
    Fr d other buks we kind of knew d base of d story whereas this is completely new territory for us

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  2. I think Ana is spiraling out of control. And that publisher told Ana on purpose. I believe Cg was coming from a good place. Why in the world is she hiring Astor? Surprise Carter!

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  3. I don’t review nearly often enough, but I have to say that I’m a fan. Like, a big one. Embarrassingly dedicated, even. I love your writing and I’m emotionally invested in your story to the point that my Mondays revolve around ensuring that I’ve got enough time to read your latest chapter.

    That being said, I know you recently skipped a Monday because some ugly folks got into your creative head space. I hate that for you; you’re an outstanding writer. I lurk in Fanfic because I dearly love to read and it’s a free little break from new stories – it’s like visiting an old friend sometimes. It can sometimes be a painful visit because not everyone has your literary acumen, but your writing…hand to God, I would pay to read it. If you published something tomorrow, I’d buy it and share the heck out of it on every platform possible. You’re wonderfully talented, lady. Your Ana isn’t the Ana E.L. James wrote, and I offer that observation as purely complimentary. She’s witty and sure of what she wants for herself, even if she is sometimes sloppy in how she goes about getting it. I like that; she’s tenacious and resourceful. She’s Scarlett trying to keep Tara afloat with zero resources while every other woman in town cries into her handkerchief at their rotten luck. Your character development has been a joy and a privilege to follow, and I applaud your talent and your story. It’s perfect, as is, so please continue as your Ana would – true to the course you’ve set for yourself and undeterred by those that would have you believe you aren’t ‘doing it right’.

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  4. Ooh I like the way Ana is thinking right now. Keep your enemies closer to you. If she thinks Astor can be a threat to her family especially Christian then yes she needs to keep him close. But I always thought carter was not being truthful with Ana and Kate. I would hate to think he had anything to do with helping Lincoln and Gia. I don’t trust Carmen neither. Christian’s insanity I understand bc he wants to keep Ana happy as long as it’s in a bubble but Carmen I don’t trust. Ana needs to build her own publishing company. But boy I hate to be Christian Right now. That argument will be epic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See, you get it. haha

      I think Carter was just immature, I don’t think there is anything he was really hiding. He was just a kid with a lot of expectations put on him that he wasn’t ready to live up to. I’m very interested to see how people react to Carmen going forward, because I created her for a very specific purpose.

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  5. I totally thought the person that they would be seeing is her old teacher who worked with her on the book before she kicked him to the curb. I always got a bad feeling about him and thought he was involved with the craziness until it shook out.

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    1. I know a lot of people think Dr. Ralston was a part of Linc’s plan, but he wasn’t. He was simply a self-interested man who tried to use a brilliant student to boost his own resume and bottom line. He helped Ana because it was advantageous and he sold her out because it was profitable. That does not a good character make, but it also doesn’t necessarily make him an enemy. Just someone to never work with again.

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  6. I just think Ana is not making very good decisions now. It’s like she’s sabotaging her marriage. I worry when the s*** hits the fan, there will be a lot of debris. 😦 I look forward to more, as always. Have a good, productive week.

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    1. I think she’s making bad decisions for all the right reasons. But the piece of the puzzle Ana is missing in dealing with her feelings over what happened and what she’s doing to move forward is important to the climax of the story.

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  7. “Fear never leaves you. It just adapts to you. And that’s the meaning of strengthening a warrior spirit from within, as you can’t fight all your battles with the same weapons.”
    – Bryan Keyleader
    “Protecting yourself is self-defense. Protecting others is warriorship.”
    – Bohdi Sanders
    “Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.”
    – Jana Kingsford
    “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
    -Mario Puzo

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  8. YES! I had figured that Ana would see Astor while she was at Cambridge. I just wasn’t expecting her to HIRE him, but that actually makes perfect sense. After all, it now makes Astor basically dependent on Ana AND Christian’s success. Going against Christian would literally be the means of losing his painfully-fought for law degree.

    So in the keeping-your-family-safe Plan, this is a darn good move on Ana’s part. HOWEVER, as we all WELL know, Christian is NOT the forgiving type. AND there are few people he hates more than Astor Harrington.

    So this will NOT go over well with Christian. PARTICULARLY now that Ana is taking a job outside of GEH.

    So Ana could have cause to spend more time with ASTOR on any given day that Christian. AND also with Wallace, who will undoubtedly be much in Ana’s company. And Christian is NOT the kind of guy that can take Ana being around other handsome men within her age range that could steal her away from him.

    Yep, there is DEFINITELY going to be some friction coming. I mean, Astor might actually reach out to CHRISTIAN, since Ana “claimed” that he recommended Astor. So Ana’s attempt to keep this SECRET will only raise all unholy heck when Christian finds out. Which he WILL find out. After all, even Luke knows that Christian has Ana followed.

    So there is DEFINITELY TROUBLE on the horizon. AND this is NOT just Ana’s fault here. CHRISTIAN is “rationalizing” his own need to keep Ana to himself AND ISOLATED (and away from temptation). Christian’s obsessive NEED FOR POWER is making his own coping mechanism to keep Ana close by. He WANTED her at GEH, if she was going to be away from home.

    But NOW, Ana will be at a job ENTIRELY OUT OF CHRISTIAN’S CONTROL. Which will NOT work well. (And, quite frankly, it may be more than what Ana is up to right now. Christian could be right about that.) After all, Ana’s work hours WILL take her away from Christian AND Calliope.

    Wow. What a mess. ADD to the whole job fiasco the fact that Ana JUST hired Astor Harrington on the same day. Which Christian will see as betrayal-personified. I mean, if CHristian can threaten HIS OWN FATHER, than I can’t see this working out well for Astor OR Ana.

    ADD to that Carter’s appearance. I wonder if Carter is working for the same firm? Christian obviously came through with his promise to get Carter in to Harvard Law, and if Christian thinks Carter is helping Ana with her “secrets,” then things could go badly for Carter as well.

    Just wow. I’m going to have to think about the MANY MANY ways this could all blow up in Ana AND Christian’s faces. I’m STILL in shock, and I was actually EXPECTING an appearance by Astor and Carter.

    (But it DOES sound like Astor had nothing to do with Andrew Lincoln. Which probably makes sense, considering that Elena’s hiring Astor was what caused the whole thing to come out about Christian and Elena’s affair. I can’t see Andrew wanting to recruit Astor, but Astor WAS another individual with a seemingly pathological NEED to hate Christian. He SOUNDS like he has put it behind him, but he may not have. AND if Astor ever truly WAS attracted to Ana, the potential fallout coming could be great.)

    STILL, Christian’s hatred for Astor is a living, breathing, continuing thing, and he will NOT tolerate Astor having contact with Ana. He just won’t. This is going to go down badly. Christian’s need for control versus ANA’s need to have her OWN control over her livelihood and life will careen in a bad and potentially volatile way. Plus, Ana outright LIED to Astor about Christian’s involvement and hiring of him. Yikes.

    I’m wondering how CHristian will find out about all this. After all, the PAPER TRAIL left with paying Astor in the first place should be easily found by Welch and/or Taylor. So I can’t see Ana being able to keep this secret long, even if she DOES try to go through Luke.

    Eagerly anticipating the next chapter, although NOT looking forward to the upcoming Ana/Christian firestorm.

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    1. Haha, you always know everything I do before I do it. 🙂

      I’m glad you’re picking up on Christian’s need for power, because it’s important going forward. I know I spelled that out pretty clearly a few chapters ago, but I always worry when I stop bringing it up over and over again, or just keep it as kind of implied rather than blatant that it will slip off people’s radar. But I do also appreciate that, while acknowledging the way that Christian went about this was wrong, he might have a point. Ana MIGHT NOT BE ready for what she’s signing up for. Only time will tell.

      And I’m kind of looking forward to the firestorm, haha.

      Like

  9. That was sweet with the old couple feeding each other. Don’t we all want that in our golden years! Boy oh boy is Christian in trouble for requesting that Carmen at GSP not hire Ana, that is so biting him in the butt right now. LOL

    I’m a bit confused about hiring Aston as her personal attorney for her publishing? She stated that she was pending off any future problems. What problem would Aston be? Plus she just bit herself in the butt now with hiring him behind Christian’s back and lying to Aston that Christian recommend him? Is this part of Ana’s plan to rid herself of all potential threats? Was Aston ever confronted by Lincoln?

    Wow Carter is still at Harvard.

    I so want to see Mia graduate from Harvard as well?

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    1. I think Ana is anticipating that Astor could try to exact revenge on Christian in the future, because Christian has been known to antagonize him (e.g. the wedding invitation) and her idea here is that you keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. With Linc gone, and Carter and Christian mostly on amicable terms, Astor is the closest thing Christian has to a personal enemy, and she thinks offering an olive branch to him with this job offer will prevent him from festering in his hatred for her husband and possibly from going over the deep end like Linc did.

      Also, you brought up a good point that I feel I should clarify for everyone. No, Lincoln did not approach Astor to work for him.

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  10. I have mixed feelings about Ana’s decisions keeping secrets to Christian. Is she trying to protect him or compete with him. Astor is still an enemy and she knows it and there is a hidden agenda of what she is doing. Was she surprised to see Carter? Will Carter ever mention to Mia that he saw her where? Not sure now if Mia had met Carter before. Will Christian just allow her to do what she wants because she wants to be independent and have her own career. They will end up growing apart before she will even realize it. How can she compare Christian’s business to hers and she would rather work for his enemy. Hiring Astor as her legal person also Christian’s enemy. Is she trying to keep Christian’s enemies closer to be able to watch them and hopefully she can get ahead of them without Christian knowing it all but Sawyer will know. Ready for the next chapter. Thank you very much, Tara.

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    1. I think she’s mostly trying to protect him and she knows that if he knew she was purposefully tracking down people she and Luke deemed to be a threat or dangerous to their family, he would definitely stop her. But I think part of it is that she feels like Christian has kept secrets from her in the past, specifically regarding her safety, and that’s a key reason she’s able to justify keeping this secret from him.

      As far as Carter and Mia, I think that they probably know each other because Carter was included in some Grey family events while he and Kate were dating. Like Ana’s baby shower, which Mia was definitely at. He was also there for graduation, so she’d know him from there too.

      As far as comparing Christian’s business to hers, I think what she’s really focusing on is what she’ll be able to do at each company. GSP needs her help to right the ship, GP is already wildly successful. It’s about fulfillment for her. She’ll simply get more out of working for GSP, personally and professionally, than she will for GP. And as far as being Christian’s competition, I think that they both know Christian only ever got into publishing for Ana, it’s not his passion project, so even if she is working against GP, she’s not really attacking Christian personally. Now, if she started working for a telecommunications company, or a green energy company, they’d probably have a lot more issues. haha

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      1. Thank you for more clarity and there is plenty of chapters left we have to read how your excellent mind will lead us to all the curvy paths you will take us before Christian and Ana will ultimately gain what they want most for themselves, for each other and their family.

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  11. Oh good Lord!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have so much popcorn to pop. Gotta get the bowls out for everybody. This is going to be such a shit storm of a fight between C and A. I am going to be fair about this. Christian has got this coming to him. Talk about being a turd in the punchbowl right now. LOL I just need to know if I need to be in my PJ’s munching popcorn all day next Monday.

    Now…
    Let’s flip the ‘ol coin over and we have Ana hiring Aston. (didn’t C leave a little “used” present in the waste paper can in his bedroom?) I know the saying about keeping your enemies closer, but this, …. this will bite her in the butt. Will Aston even believe the C would recommend him for a job? and now we have Carter seeing her leave Aston’s place of work. I can just see Christian having some ammo to fire back at Ana when the fight ensues at home.

    …and Calliope is just perfect. (Thank God.)

    Bring it on…..I love furious C and A. I seem to know that rainbows always follow a hell of a storm.

    ajm

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    1. He did leave a “used present” for Astor to find their freshman year, haha. I’m pretty sure Astor called that a, “Low Blow.” lol. Isn’t Calliope just perfect. Seriously, I’m 8 chapters into the book I said I would finish ONCE AND FOR ALL, but I already need more of her. Haha

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      1. There is a lot of us here that would like to say…
        “You are not finished yet, not by a long shot.”
        ajm

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  12. Carmen betrays Christian (although he is not so honourable to do that behind Ana). Now, Ana hiring Aston without Christian’s knowledge and lying about it, is also betrayal considering their history. She’s accepting GSP out of anger and to proof herself. Hope they get back and communicate, isnt that what they always emphasize, communication? There’s going to be a lot hurt and anger. On top, if Christian knows about what Ana and Luke are doing it will be epic. Ana needs to remember Christian will always want to keep her safe, that hasn’t change, and his control nature. Carter is a surprise. Thank you, Tara, look forward to find out more. Xoxo daytona

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  13. I can’t wait to read how this ends because nothing good ever comes out of manipulation and Ana and also Christian, for that matter, are full of it. Hope they both gets what they’re searching for. 😬😬😬

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  14. I really really really loved this chapter it was so much going on. I dont even know where to start I can’t believe Christian did what he did that was so terrible like he’s telling Ana she needs therapy and I feel like she does but he still needs it too,to work on himself because that was very mean and selfish like who sabotages their wife’s career but on the other side of things I was cringing when Ana met up with Astor and what she offered him just because of Christian and Astors history with that being said i know Ana didn’t do it to be malicious and I know she’s not trying to like sabotage her marriage shes actually just trying to protect her family i just think the situations with astor shes going about it the wrong way once just because of the history there.im curious to know what’s going on with carter.i really hope that Ana spends time with Mia because I feel like that’s really important to Mia and Mia has felt neglected by Ana before. I wonder if Ana is going to consult with dr.ralston while she’s at Harvard about her second book because he helped with her first book. All in all it was an amazing chapter you’re an AMAZING WRITER and I can’t wait for the next chapter

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    1. Thank you so much for your feedback. I love the moments when Ana really tries to be a good big sister to Mia, and I’m excited for some of the Carter stuff in the next chapter. It’s kind of funny, but I meant for him to be a throwaway character at the beginning of A Different Shade of Fifty, and that we’d never hear from him again once he and Ana broke up. But he just keeps forcing his way into the story, lol.

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      1. Another thing I was really looking forward to after reading chapter 7 was the job offer on one hand I really wanted her to get the job because she wanted it and it’s an accomplishment and something to be proud of she’s a harvard graduate a best selling author and she already has experience i was shocked in that interview the way she was dismissed and undermined like she had nothing to offer but then when Carmen said she was kind of in competition with Christian I understood why she didn’t want to hire Ana and at the end of that chapter I was like I hope this lady realize how lucky should would be to have Ana as a part of her team but then again why would Ana want to work for someone who think all of her accomplishment were handed th her by her husband I also want Ana get the job because even though she did an amazing his at gp I feel like she feels like Christian gave it to her the opportunity instead of her having to fight for it if you know what I mean. When I read this chapter I thought Carmen was calling to put her distaste for Christian to the side and offer Ana the job not confess that Christian was sabotaging Ana so I had like mixed feelings about her working at the other publishing house because what carmen did was very mean and sneaky so im just looking foward to how you deal with it

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      2. All in all I want Ana to be successful on her own I dont want other people or herself for that matter to believe that her success is dependent on her husband i just thought about when Ana first told ray about Christian and she was trying to sell him to Ray and she said that he could take care of her and Ray told her he sent her to Harvard so that she would be able to take care of herself I know he would be proud of her for getting a job and furthering her career

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  15. Great chapter. Oh boy Christian is going to get it. I don’t trust the job offer being re put out there. But Ana is being really careful with old own people so I don’t think she’ll let new ones get the better of her. Can’t wait for next week. Thank you.

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  16. I can understand a lot of things but this lying and scheming behind Christians back I don’t get. I mean after everything that they’ve been through she is single handedly destroying her marriage. And seriously what is it with her petulant child attitude? She is buldozing over the one important thing they need right now “trust” and she thinks this won’t blow up in her face? Ana has me questioning why she is even with Christian. I hoped, expected a stronger couple that would take the world by storm together but I got a couple that aren’t even a united front.
    Tara I am trusting you to give me hope that all this won’t end up destroying what Ana wants to protect “her family”.
    Thank you.

    Like

    1. 1. She’s said before exactly why she’s scheming behind Christian’s back. If he knew what she was doing, he’d stop her, and she feels like if she stops, she’ll leave her family vulnerable to another attack and she simply cannot allow anything like that to ever happen to her husband and child again.
      2. I think it’s ironic that you believe she’s “bulldozing” over the trust in her relationship, when we find out in this same chapter that Christian went behind HER BACK to purposefully sabotage her getting a job she told him point blank that she really wanted.
      3. She’s with Christian because she loves him, which is why she’s so desperate to protect him. Remember, he was nearly killed by Linc.
      4. No, they’re not a united front right now, because they’re fighting different battles. But trust is a theme in this story, and they both have to learn why trusting each other is so important. BOTH of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Really Christian ? But… I do kind of agree with him .. but he needs Ana to figure things out on her own. Wow I feel like her plan is exhausting how in the world can she eliminate them all. Someone has to pop up ..right? Fantastic update! Monday’s are awesome because if you

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Now that I’ve re-read it…

    That was fucking outstanding, girl.

    And… there’s this nagging thought in my head. This idea that Ana & Christian aren’t really that different, in their quest to protect their family. Are their methods questionable? Absolutely. But – I think one of the themes I see popping up frequently is the theme of POWER – like, Christian wants to be so powerful that no one would want to mess w/ him & his family (not realizing that there’s ALWAYS someone who’s going to want to be the one to topple the all-powerful Greys), Carrick running for mayor so he can have the power to get justice for his family, Mia wanting to go to Harvard so she can have the power to help others, & Ana…seeking power in controlling other people’s lives, so they won’t fuck w/ her family.

    I know I read your comments that trust was going to be a theme here, & I most definitely agree w/ you. I also think that another theme in this story is about power – & how, essentially, in their miscommunication, in their keeping secrets one from another – Ana & Christian are giving their power away. The beauty of their relationship – that what makes them so special – is the fact that they’re so incredibly strong when they’re TOGETHER. When they run as a cohesive unit, & that is not the case right now. In trying to move on in their own separate ways… it’s like in their zealous move to keep the other protected…they move further away from who they are.

    And – OF COURSE – they’re going to be different now – they’ve both gone through a horrific traumatic experience. OF COURSE that changes you – but I don’t think that people (myself included) realize how much it affects your behavior after. And I think that’s what’s bothering a lot of people about this story, b/c the beauty of your Ana wasn’t just the fact that she was a bit of a smartass, but also the openness that she had, ya know? Like – she had this sense of GENUINENESS about her, this sense of no artifice that she doesn’t have anymore, B/C of what happened to her. She’s harder now, w/ none of the soft edges that she had before, & I think that’s what’s freaking people out.

    To be completely honest w/ you – I think this may be your strongest work. B/c that question you asked at the end of ASSOF – HOW do they move on? – it’s a process of marrying the people they were before (victims) to who they want to be (survivors). And it’s not a simple act of surviving their attack – no, it’s about pulling through, growing – not only moving past this horrible thing, but not letting this defeat/define who they are. Coming out the other end better & stronger – SURVIVORS. That journey is incredibly difficult, & I don’t think people realized all the things that were going to come out of this.

    Seriously – WELL DONE.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for your observations, I couldn’t agree with you more about power. 100%, that’s a HUGE theme moving forward, because ultimately, what Christian and Ana BOTH feel was lost that night with Lincoln was power. Christian is a powerful man, and yet he couldn’t stop Linc, so he assumes he needs MORE power to prevent something like this from happening again. Ana has never really felt power, and so I think her goal is to feel like she is in control of her own life and has autonomy for herself for once, because leaving her safety and the safety of her family in the hands of others hasn’t worked out well for her in the past. I think people also are forgetting that it isn’t JUST that one night. They were terrorized for a year. Ana is still ALSO dealing with her attempted kidnapping and the stalking, and all of that happened with a full security team in place. In fact, one of her own CPOs was one of the top three conspiracy members! She feels Christian thinks that having her followed by Woods will keep her safe, but she doesn’t feel that anymore, so she has to go out and find that safety for herself. I’m not arguing what she’s doing is healthy, just, psychologically, that’s where she’s at. On some levels, Ana is a sort of the antagonist of her own story right now. But it all comes together. Trust me, there’s a plan. It took me SOOOOOOOOOOO long to outline this book, because I couldn’t see the END. But once the end finally came to me, I felt so at peace with everything else. I said in my announcement of Final that I had closed the plot, but now that I know how this ends, I realized that I hadn’t closed the plot at all. The story arch really does come to a full close at the end of Final and I’m really excited to share it with you guys. I just wish I was a faster writer!! haha

      Thank you for your review!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re very welcome. Honestly… I really feel that this may be your strongest work. WELL DONE!!!!

        Like

  19. LOVED this!! I am not surprised that Christian told Carmen NOT to hire Ana. I expected it and knew it when Carmen was a mega witch to Ana.I cannot wait to see how Christian gets himself out of the doghouse. However, I think Ana should tell Carmen to take her job and shove it. Why? Because Carmen KNEW she needed Ana, yet instead of her (Carmen) telling Christian to kick rocks, she listened to him and treated Ana poorly. Who does that? Carmen is supposed to be a smart business woman, yet she acted like an immature high school girl who does what the head of the mean click tells her to do. She acted poorly towards Ana. Carmen was Christian’s puppet, at that moment, and if I were Ana, I would not take that job. Ana should also tell Carmen why she’s not taking her job. If Ana does not want to work at GP, then she should find another publishing house. Now, after saying all of that, I DO understand Christian’s reason for doing it.

    I can understand what Ana is doing. However, when Christian and Taylor find out, she and Sawyer are going to have their asses reamed! She needs to be careful.

    Cannot wait to see what Carter’s been up too.

    And I so love Callie! It made me smile when she said “Hi Mama” when Ana woke that morning 🙂 ❤

    Like

  20. Well, Tara, you really lolled me into a somewhat calm frame of mind. Perfectly paced chapter, building and building until . . ..

    Ana’s nightmare is back and seemed so very real. Then the call from Carmen. Crikey, Christian, what’s wrong with you??? You can’t go behind Ana’s back regarding her career. Even though you are correct that it is the wrong job for her. Ana is in no shape for an executive position which involves long days and nights, and travel. I know Ana can’t see that yet. I hope Christian and Luke can talk her down from the job offer. Ana is safe and protected at Grey Publishing for now. And she has a baby girl who needs full-time parents.

    The planned meet-up with Astor shows me that Ana is acting rashly in trying to keep as eye on her imagined enemies by hiring Astor as her personal attorney. Then running into Carter. Didn’t Christian offer to get Carter into Harvard Law School and pay his tuition? Are we starting all over again, Ana?

    You haven’t missed a beat, Tara. This last book in the series promises the same chills and thrills.9

    Like

  21. Somehow I totally forgot about Astor but what a move to have him come work for her.
    I completely understand why Christian did what he did with Carmen. To him, Ana is going from being at home all the time to jumping into running a company and with all that has happened she may truly not be ready for all of that. But there ‘discussion’ will be interesting.
    Thank you so much for sharing your gift with us. I always look forward to Mondays now even if I don’t get to read the update then.

    Like

  22. WOW is Ana really sure going behind Christian’s back to get her own power, she should be very careful because Christian will find and it will not ne nice , but this was very good I enjoyed it thoroughly

    Like

  23. I think Ana does need the type of job Carmen is offering, but I am deeply concerned about the timing. I don’t think Ana will feel comfortable away from Calliope and Christian for so much of the time, especially when you consider how much Christian already has to travel himself for his company. Still, I think employment IS a good thing for Ana–she is always at her best when trying to protect and promote others which, quite frankly, will be a large part of her job. Ana IS a Harvard grad and obviously knows, firsthand, what it is like to be an author seeking to get published. She knows what it takes and what an author goes through. She really IS the best person for the job, BUT the baggage she is carrying right now will be problematic, especially when she has to begin going on the road to promote and/or recruit authors.

    And HAVE to say it, but if Christian had really wanted to prevent this, he could have by having had Ana sign a Non-Compete Agreement back during her internship. But pre-Lincoln Christian would never want to limit Ana, so I get why he didn’t do that. AND he probably thought he was already giving Ana everything she wanted in a career, so he probably wasn’t worried about her leaving.

    HOWEVER, despite the above, I don’t trust Carmen. “Manipulative witch” was the first thing that came to mind when reading what Carmen did. I mean, WHY would she even want to do a “favor” for Christian in the first place. And THEN to tell his wife, knowing it would make her mad? I might be reading Carmen all wrong here—I just don’t have an exact feel for her character yet. Part of me saw it as a “plus” when she told Ana the truth about why she had been so hard on her during the interview. BUt MOST of me resented the fact that Carmen took out her frustration with Christian on Ana. And THEN goes right back to Ana with what will undoubtedly cause friction between Ana and Christian. So I’m just not sure, yet, where Carmen is coming from. Hopefully, she truly DOES want her company to succeed and wants the best person for the job. Which SHOULD be Ana, if she can pull herself together enough for this.

    And getting out there and working could really be the best thing for Ana. OR it could cause her to spiral out of control. But I admire her for wanting to have a career that is entirely of her own making. BUT it is sad, but true, that there are only 24 hours in a day, and time spent on the road for the career will take away from Calliope and Christian. PLUS Ana was on her “quest” in addition to that.

    So Ana is going to be stretched thin. At the worst possible time. Still, if anyone CAN do it, it would be Ana. But now ADD the whole Astor thing. And whatever else might be coming.

    (But forgot to previously add how much I LOVED Calliope, as always. DEFINITELY wanting that Calliope book. Or books, really. I mean, we DO need to see her grow up, attempt to date, get married. AND let’s face it, I think the stunts Mia pulled with her security detail will pale in comparison to what Miss Calliope will come up with! So really hoping that continuous brainwashing of Tara will lead to her writing a Calliope book. YES, yes, Tara, you mmmmuuuuussssstttt keep writing—you WANT to write more on Calliope, you KNOW you do. . . .bwah-haha!)

    Like

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