Chapter 11

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Calliope squirms in my arms as I carry her through the front doors of GEH for her very first day of daycare. There are no tears, like I expected there to be, no screams of torture. She’s simply too interested in the men and women hurrying through the lobby around us to stay still. Taylor is outside, still idling on the curb with Woods while they wait to take me to work, so it’s just Christian and I dropping her off. He walks by my side, juggling her diaper bag, stroller, and the three different stuffed animals that Calliope couldn’t bear to be parted from this morning, all while trying to guide us to the nursery and answer emails on his phone. We get several strange looks as we make our way to the elevator, like people are genuinely shocked to see a ten month old baby being paraded through the epicenter of Seattle business and commerce. But I soon realize the questioning stares aren’t being directed at Calliope. They’re all gaping at Christian, who I suppose looks odd to his employees with a baby pink blanket draped over the shoulder of his bespoke Brioni suit and the plastic end of an escaped pacifier clenched between his teeth.

“Seventh floor,” he mumbles distractedly, once we step into the elevator. I move to the panel and lean over to press the round button labelled ‘7’, but when Calliope sees the small glass sphere light up, she shrieks with excitement and thrusts her tiny hands out for as many buttons as she can reach.

“No, no, no!” I say, trying to pull her hands away, but the damage is done. We’re stopping at every floor except three on our journey up to her daycare. Christian sighs, unable to do anything but accept each and every stop. The patience he’s trying to summon, however, vanishes in an instant when a tiny woman manages to worm her way through the doors before they fully close.

“Mr. Grey,” she pants in relief.

“Jacqueline,” Christian replies. “What can I do for you?”

“The optics on this tax issue with your father aren’t good. He’s coming off as a strong leader, bent on eliminating corruption, even when it means standing up to his own family, and you’re kind of being perceived as a holding the city ransom while demanding handouts from the Seattle tax payers. Your brand is about exceptionalism. You’re a self-made billionaire running a successful multinational corporation that breaks profit records nearly every year and pushes the boundaries of innovation in every industry you touch. This battle with your father is counteracting all that good publicity and I’m afraid it’s bringing up questions about how safe of an investment Grey technologies are to those who’re helping bankroll this big project you’re trying to get off the ground.”

“Well if I lose this battle against my father and GEH doesn’t get enough in tax incentives this quarter, they won’t have questions, they’ll have proof. I’m not letting this project fail, Jacqueline, no matter who I have to fight to make it happen.”

“Then perhaps we should focus on changing the narrative. Give the media something to print besides this political war you’re fighting with the city that you helped transform. We need a win, Mr. Grey. Something big that we can get out to the press this week. Otherwise, your funding is going to be pulled and you’re going to be fighting over tax breaks to fund a project that’s DOA.”

He sighs. “Fine. I’ll take a look at what I’ve got in the pipeline and send you some numbers this afternoon.”

“Perfect. Thank you, Mr. Grey.”

“Mhm,” he mumbles over the sound over the elevator opening on the fourth floor. “Now get out.”

Jacqueline smiles and turns to face Calliope and I. “She really is such a beautiful baby, Mrs. Grey. I’m telling you, that’s a face for PixC if I’ve ever seen one.”

“Jacqueline,” Christian says, more firmly this time. “Go.”

She lets out a soft, disappointed sound and winks at my baby before ducking out of the elevator again and leaving us alone. I swallow, preparing myself for what I want to say, and face my husband.

“Christian, I don’t like that you’re going after your dad like this. Family is more important than anything, even your supercars.”

“It’s not about the cars, Ana. It’s about creating clean, unlimited energy. Do you have any idea what that would mean? How that would change the world?” I stare back at him, unblinking and unimpressed, and he sighs. “My dad is the highest ranking government official in this city, Anastasia. Sometimes that is going to put us at odds. But it’s not personal. It’s business, and I can separate the two.”

“Can he?”

The doors ping open on the seventh floor and Christian quickly ushers me out of the elevator without answering. We wind our way through several hallways, past a few departments I’m unfamiliar with, until we finally make it to a desk sitting outside a locked door that is guarded by a security officer.

“Mr. Grey,” the friendly looking woman behind the desk greets us. Her smile is bright and her eyes are friendly, a contradiction to the steel and bulletproof glass door she watches over. “This must be little Calliope.”

“Can you say, hi?” I ask, gently pinching Calliope’s toes through her socks. She blinks at the woman smiling back at her, then turns and buries her face in my blouse.

“Awh,” the woman says, her expression alight with sympathy. “It’s okay to be nervous on your first day, sweetheart. But there’s lots of fun toys in there and other kids that want to play with you. Doesn’t that sound fun?”

Calliope turns her face just the smallest degree so she can get a peak at the woman beaming at her, encouraging her, and after assessing the situation and finding nothing to scare her away from the promise of free toys, she slowly pulls away from me and looks through the glass to the children playing inside.

“Kensie’s in there,” I say encouragingly. “Do you want to go play with Kensie?”

She does her best to nod and then reaches for the door. “Ki-ki, Mama. Ki-ki.”

“Okay, Calli-lily. Let’s go find Ki-ki.” She coos with delight while Christian thanks the woman behind the desk, and after she’s pressed the button that causes the heavy metal locks to open with a loud, high pitched clink, the security guard opens the door for us and we step inside. I look back at him questioningly and then turn to Christian. “Isn’t that the same security guard I fired in Vegas for letting Mia and her friend sneak into a nightclub?”

“Yeah, his name is James. Alan James, I think.”

“And that’s the man you put in charge of watching over our daughter all day, every day? The man who couldn’t keep track of two seventeen year olds when they were his only responsibility?”

Christian rolls his eyes. “Calliope isn’t Mia, Anastasia.”

“No. She’s my daughter so she’s probably going to be even worse! Do you know how many times I’ve ditched Luke over the years, Christian? And that was Luke. Not generic security guard number three.”

“And I didn’t fire Sawyer for losing you, either. There are four teachers who work here, plus Mackensie, and she’s going to be behind locked doors that are under constant video surveillance. She’s perfectly safe. You know that I wouldn’t leave her here if she wasn’t.”

“I’d still feel better with a more senior member of your security team watching over her.”

“Well, I just reassigned Harrison to Mia, at your request, and since Sawyer left, that makes James the most senior member I have available.”

I frown. “That’s not true. What does Taylor do all day? Can’t we get him?”

Christian laughs, then leads me through the small sitting room and past a gate with a latch too high for anyone under the age of six to reach. From there, we find several rooms, organized by the age of the children inside, surrounding one large play area.

“She’s in the caterpillar room,” Christian says, motioning to the door farthest to the left. I hitch the baby higher up on my hip and follow him inside. It’s a larger space than I imagined, with fewer children inside. There are small wooden cubbies all along one wall, and cribs against the other. The majority of the floor is covered in brightly colored pieces of rubber that fit together like puzzle pieces and every toy you could possibly imagine.

“There she is!” Mackensie cries, locking eyes with Calliope the moment she spots us.

“Ki-ki! Ki-ki!” My baby throws her body in the direction of our nanny, making it difficult for me to hang onto her, but the excited squeals she makes trying to get away from me hurt more than her little feet kicking fervently against my chest ever could.

Kensie grunts as she takes the baby out of my arms and carries her across the room. I stand there, watching her being introduced to the other children and handed toys before Christian finally pulls me away to speak with the teachers. They give me an overview of the kinds of activities she’ll be doing during the day and what her schedule is going to be like going forward. Christian’s hired a speech expert to help her expand her vocabulary more quickly and efficiently, and there’s a dietician on staff to prepare healthy meals that both provide optimal nutrition and are loved by even the pickiest eaters. She’ll be exposed to art and music, and there’s a reading corner filled with books the staff read to the children every afternoon. It’s the perfect place to care for my baby while I’m at work all day, but that doesn’t make it any easier to leave her here.

“She’s going to be fine,” Christian promises me. “And I’m just upstairs if she needs something. Even if it’s just to come sit with me awhile.”

“I know.” I watch her gaping at a child next to her, who is playing with a toy, with complete and utter fascination. Part of me expects her to try and rip it out of his hands, but she doesn’t. Kensie encourages her to share and she does without complaint.

“We should go,” Christian says. “It’ll be better for her if she doesn’t have to watch us leave.”

My bottom lip trembles as he wraps an arm around me and leads me out of the room. By the time we make it back out to the hallway, I break down completely.

“Hey… baby. She’s going to be fine. She was having fun.”

“I know, that’s the problem! She doesn’t even care that we’re leaving her.”

“You wanted her to cry?”

“No! And… yes. A little. I don’t want her to be sad but I want her to want me around. She didn’t even notice that we left. This is how it happens, Christian. One day, she’s going to leave us and this is where it starts.”

He laughs at my melodrama and pulls me into him. “She’s not even a year old yet, Ana.”

“Yeah, well you’re going to blink and she’s going to be eighteen.”

“Then I’ll try not to blink.” He kisses my forehead and tugs me away from the daycare, towards the elevators, and then walks me back out to the car to send me off on my first day. Woods is there to open the door for me, but before I climb back into the SUV, I pause and take a moment to find my zen. Trauma from leaving Calliope behind aside, taking this job isn’t the same as accepting my internship with SIP, and that’s been playing on my nerves all morning. Greenwich isn’t a new player in the industry, they’ve been established in this city for over seven years. And while sales have suffered, the name still carries weight. I am now responsible for every piece of literature this publishing house produces going forward. It’s going to be my job to lead, to give the company vision, and to re-carve out our place in an overcrowded, highly competitive industry. Yesterday, that prospect had me dancing around the house with excitement. Now, I’m mostly nauseated.

“I can do this, right?” I ask, looking up at Christian with pleading eyes, and to my surprise, he looks taken aback.

“Of course you can.”

“But… what I’m a disaster? What if SIP was a fluke and I’m about to go run this publishing house into the ground?”

He laughs. “Then I’ll buy up the authors’ contracts cheap and have one less competitor to worry about. It’s a win/win, really.”

I glare, but he simply leans down and presses his lips softly into mine. “Anastasia, you’ve earned this. No one gave you special favors or pushed you ahead because you have my name. You worked your ass off for years to gain the experience that got you here. This is because of your talent, and your mind. Yes, you’ll make mistakes, that’s unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to fail. Elizabeth is at the top of her field and she didn’t graduate from Harvard. She isn’t a New York Times bestselling author. And she didn’t build her first publishing house at 21. You did. You are going to be incredible, Anastasia. I just can’t wait to see what you’re going to do.”

I take a breath and smile. “Thank you. I really do love you, you know that?”  

“I do.” He releases me, but swipes his thumb across my cheek affectionately before fully letting me go. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“I won’t,” I say with a laugh, only realizing after he’s shut me inside the car and we begin to pull away what sage advice that really is. Christian knows what it takes to be successful. He takes risks, he follows his instincts, and he always manages to do the impossible. I’ll get through this, as long as I don’t do anything Christian wouldn’t do.

Much as I did the last time I arrived at GSP, I take the time to appreciate the art deco feel of the building before going inside. It’s a stark contrast to Christian’s ultra modern skyscraper a few blocks down the road. There are no digital keypads in hidden panels or walls entirely comprised of ultra high definition screens. This office is industrial in the purest sense of the word: brick walls, wood floors, and exposed beams. I think I prefer it this way. Christian’s office is beautiful, a architectural feat that is sure to one day be considered one of the crowning jewels of this city, but there’s something about the loud echo of my footsteps inside the poorly insulated halls and the faint smell of age and dust that brings me right back to the halls of Harvard. There’s comfort in that. Like Christian’s reassurances this morning, it reminds me who I am and why I’m here.

“Last chance,” Woods says, a slightly teasing tone in his voice as his hand pauses on the handle of the door to the GSP lobby.

I smile and reach up to touch his arm. “Awh, there’s no reason to be nervous, Woods. I’m going to be with you the whole day. Everyone is going to love you.”

He laughs, then pulls open the door, and I walk up to the receptionist feeling the levity of my joke propelling me forward. “Good morning.”

“Mrs. Grey,” the petite redhead behind the counter greets me. “Welcome to Greenwich Small Press.”

“Thank you. Penny, right?”

“Uh, yeah.” She looks taken aback. “I’m surprised you remembered.”

“I try.” I smile, then wait as she picks up the receiver to her phone.

“Mr. Wallace, Mrs. Grey has arrived. Yes, sir.” She hangs up and turns back me. “Can I take your coffee order now, Mrs. Grey? I’ll be going out around 09:30.”

“Coffee order?”

“Mr. Wallace isn’t partial to brewed coffee, he has me make a Starbucks run every morning before his afternoon meetings.”

“Does he?”

“Yes, ma’am. He says this country runs on caffeine. I’d be happy to pick something up for you as well.”

“Thank you, Penny, but I don’t think that…”

“Anastasia!” a voice interrupts me from across the room. I turn and see Scott Wallace approaching, a grin stretched wide across his face and his hand held out for mine. “Welcome to Greenwich.”

“Thank you, Scott,” I reply, accepting his handshake. Once he releases me, he reaches into his jacket, pulls out his wallet, and takes out a twenty.

“Grab me some lunch on your way back, sweetheart,” he says to Penny. “I expect our department meeting will go long this afternoon and I’m going to need to eat by eleven if I’m going to meet my protein macros today.”

Sweetheart?

“Yes, Mr. Wallace.”

“And, no gluten.”  

“No, sir.”

“You’re a doll, Penny. You’re a doll.” He winks at her, making a clicking sound with his cheek as he points at her with his fingers in the shape of a pistol. She blushes and quickly settles back into her chair, but I don’t think the flush in her cheeks is from bashfulness. I think it’s embarrassment, or maybe anger she’s unable to express to a superior.

“You know, Scott,” I say defensively. “I’d really prefer our receptionist not spend any unnecessary time away from her desk. Her job is to answer the phones and to greet anyone who comes through that door. It seems to me running errands to coffee shops prevents her from doing that.”

He gives me a placating smile. “We’re not a busy office, Ana. We don’t have many appointments, and the phones hardly ever ring.” I raise an eyebrow and, as if in direct contradiction to what he just told me, a call comes through the phone on Penny’s desk. She smirks as she picks it up and I look back at Scott.

“Perhaps it would be better if your PA took care of your errands from here on out.”

His face falls. “My PA has her hands full with actual work, Anastasia, reviewing submissions for my approval. I know you’re new here, so perhaps you don’t understand how much is about to fall onto your plate, but I assure you, having Penny run down the street for a coffee and a cobb salad is a much better use of company resources.”

“Mr. Wallace,” Penny interrupts. “Ms. Gallagher is on line one for you.”

“I’ll take it in my office,” he says, then looks back to me. “I’m sorry, I’ll take it in Ana’s office.”

He turns and disappears into the back office I had my interview in, while I sigh and face the receptionist again. “Penny, this is Evan Woods, my personal security. Will you help find a place for him?”

“Of course, Mrs. Grey.”

“And Woods, I hate to ask but would you mind running down the block to Starbucks when it’s time? I’d really prefer reception not be left uncovered.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Thank you.” Penny gets up to show Woods to an empty desk near the back office, and I take  the opportunity alone to get acquainted with the office. The open floor space is covered with small clusters of desks that belong to each department – the editors, agents, creative team, marketing and advertising, and web design. I saunter between each division, trying to subtly observe my new employees at work without disturbing them, until Wallace finally pokes his head out of the back office.

“Ana.” It’s a summons, so I excuse myself from the introductions I’d been making with Mrs. Thompson, the head of HR, and make my way back to him. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to have you here,” he says, as he closes the door behind us. “This travelling back and forth from New York twice a week is killing me.”

“Well, I’m excited to get started.”

“Good, have a seat.” There’s a small sofa and coffee table to the right of the desk that he gestures for, so I settle down on the leather cushion and wait expectantly. He picks up a sheet of paper from the printer, which looks as though it may also serve as a fax machine, and places it on the table in front of me.

“Carmen just sent this over for you,” he explains. “It’s a non-compete agreement.”

“Non-compete?”

“It simply states that if you choose to resign, you will not take employment with one of our competitors or start a competing business, nor will you disclose any confidential information about company practices to any other players in the industry.”

“You mean to say that it’s a contract to prevent me from stealing all of your trade secrets and taking them to Grey Publishing.”

“I’m afraid Ms. Gallagher insists. She’s asked to have this document faxed back to her the moment you’ve signed.”

“So, I can assume she won’t be making a trip to Seattle any time soon?”

“GSP is more of a side line for Gallagher Industries, so Carmen tends to be fairly hands off. I’ll be your main point of contact until you get on your feet here, then you’ll mostly be on your own.”

“I see.” I reach over to pick up the document he’s brought to me and begin to read. It looks fairly standard, almost identical to the non-disclosure agreement I signed for my internship at GEH two summers ago, except for the restriction on taking other employment in the industry or starting a competing publishing house of my own. I see the merit in that. Greenwich is making a huge gamble by hiring someone who has such close ties to their largest industry competitor, no matter how qualified I am. And since I really do want to launch my career separate from my husband’s name and company, it’s not necessarily that which gives me pause. What keeps me from simply scrolling my signature across the line on the bottom of the page is my currently unpublished manuscript. I have no idea how that will play into my responsibilities to Greenwich under this contract, and I’m not prepared to sign the rights to my own work away without even having the choice to review my options.

“One moment please.” I stand and go to the door, then call for Woods to join us in the office. Scott looks slightly perplexed as to what I’m doing, but I keep my attention focused on my CPO to keep arguments and questions at a minimum.

“Yes, Mrs. Grey?”

“I’m going to need my lawyer to look over this,” I tell him, holding out the non-compete agreement. “Would you please get a copy of this to Astor Harrington and let him know that it’s urgent. I’ll need it back as soon as possible.”

“Uh, Ana, this isn’t really negotiable,” Scott says. “I need a signature on that document or there’s nothing more we can do here.”

“Then this should have been sent to me last week when I signed the rest of my contracts.” He blinks as Woods pulls the non-compete from my hands and turns back towards reception. I watch him hand the document to Penny and when she gets up to place it in the fax machine, Woods pulls out his cell phone to make a call.

“Well,” I say, turning back to Scott. “Since this means we won’t be able to go over our current workload, I suggest we take the time to discuss expectations. Tell me what I need to know to succeed here.”

He sighs in frustration, but nods and moves across the couch to make room for me. We spend a good hour and a half discussing the structure of the company and how our roles play together. While he’ll be here help me get settled in and ease my transition with our employees, he really is just my New York counterpart. I’ll report directly to Carmen Gallagher, though he’s clear that I shouldn’t involve our CEO unless “the place is burning down.”

“I have utter confidence that you’re going to navigate your way through this position flawlessly, Anastasia. But I’ve been here a long time. If you have questions or need to talk something out, call me. If we can’t figure it out together, then we’ll talk to Carmen.”

I nod. “Okay.”

“Mr. Wallace,” Penny says, knocking on the office door and poking her head inside. “They’re ready for you in the conference room.”

“Have we received Mrs. Grey’s non-compete yet?” Scott asks.

“Mr. Harrington is holding on line one.”

“Thank you, Penny.” I get up, move to the desk that’s now mine, and pick up the receiver, but I don’t actually answer the holding call until Scott has left the room with our receptionist. Once the door is closed, I push my finger into the button next to the blinking light.

“Hi, Astor. Sorry to keep you waiting.”

“No problem, Ana. I looked the agreement over and it seems fairly standard. I wouldn’t caution against you signing it.”

“Would this have any affect on my work independent from GSP? I have a novel that’s finished but unpublished and I’m not sure I’m willing to limit my distribution rights to Greenwich. I’ve previously worked for large publishers and I don’t believe GSP has the production capability I would expect.”

“I’d feel comfortable defending your rights to pursue outside opportunities for publishing under this contract,” he says. “But if you’d like me to draft an addendum making those rights clear, I’d be more than happy to do so.”

“That’s alright. If your comfortable, I’m comfortable.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence. Make sure they send me a copy of the agreement once you’ve signed. I want the signed version on file should any issues arise.”

“Will do. Thank you, Astor.”

“My pleasure, Ana. Have a good afternoon.”

“You too, bye.” I hang up, feeling a little more confident, and head out into the main office. Several faces have disappeared, assumedly for the meeting Scott is attending. I pick up the satchel bag Christian gifted to me before my interview from Wood’s desk, remove my laptop so I can take notes, and then make my way up to reception.

“Penny, did Woods give you a fax number for Mr. Harrington?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good.” I pick up the non-compete agreement from her desk, sign the line next to the one that already bears Carmen’s signature, and hand it back to her. “Will you please send this to Ms. Gallagher and Mr. Harrington as soon as possible.”

“Of course, Mrs. Grey.” She takes the paper from me and goes to the fax machine, and I turn back for the conference room for my first official meetings as head of this branch.

Despite the fact that the meeting has started by the time I enter the room, it doesn’t appear that I’ve missed much. Scott is distracted, typing on his phone, while Mrs. Thompson shares baby pictures she received in her email this morning from an employee who is currently out on maternity leave. I apologize for being late, open my laptop on the table, and wait expectantly, but the casual chatter around the table has stopped now that I’m seated at the table and the other department heads look at each other uncertainly.

“Alright,”  Scott says, setting his phone on the table. “First thing’s first. Team, this is Anastasia Grey. I’m sure you’re aware, but she’s been brought on to head this branch going forward.”

“And in six months we’ll all get pink slips and our authors will be sold to Grey Publishing,” someone across from me hisses. I glance up from my laptop and notice a few agreeing nods around the table that take me a little by surprise.

“Today,” Scott continues, ignoring the remark but speaking more firmly, “is her first day. So, let’s get her up to speed. Stevens, since you’re so eager for attention this morning, why don’t we start with you?”

The man across the table, who had interrupted him earlier, stiffens and hastily reaches for the papers in front of him. I start at him, feeling conflicted. Should I have addressed what he just said? Christian would have… wouldn’t he?

“Okay,” Stevens begins. “Brooks has decided on EHar-Money: The Business of Online Dating for his title on the examination of the internet dating industry, so that’s finally going to the printers the afternoon. We’re on schedule for a May 1st publication. We’ve got Angela Rowe’s contract in the can, so Mrs. Weatherbaffle’s Wishing Tree is going into the first round of editing this week. And we’ve got the numbers in for Pineheart’s latest mystery. They’re not as strong as his previous titles, but I’m not worried yet.”

“Fine,” Scott says. “Keep an eye on Pineheart. I’m sure Mrs. Grey here will want another review of his numbers before we option his next book.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Can I just…” I hold up a finger at Scott and turn a confused look on Stevens. “I’m sorry, I just want to make sure I understand our frontlist here… Your currently representing a non-fiction title, a children’s book, and a crime drama?”

“Yes, Mrs. Grey.”

I frown. “Is that common? That you all work with authors in multiple genres?”

“Yeah,” Stevens replies. “Genre plays very little into our process here. Once our agents find a manuscript their interested in, they’ll send it to you, you’ll approve it for representation and have a contract drafted. Then it’s given to one of us.”

“At random?”

“There’s an order,” a woman a few spots down clarifies. “The agents are on a rotation, and submissions get assigned as the come in. Once the contract is signed, whichever one of us is available takes it.”

I frown. At SIP, our copy and acquisition editors were divided into departments based on the genres they felt passionate about – fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, high fantasy, sci-fi… It’s how we ensured each author had absolutely the best person available to help them through their journey. I wouldn’t expect someone with a thirst for horror stories to provide the same level of dedication they’d give to Stephen King as they would someone like Danielle Steel.

“I suppose I just don’t understand why we would take the stance that any of us are better serving an author at random than we would when their work was hand selected based on mutual interest in the subject matter.”

“It’s how we keep the workload even,” Scott answers. “We find an agent’s time is the most valuable asset they can give to an author and that’s impossible if they’re juggling a disproportionate amount of titles compared to the rest of their department.”

“It’s called teamwork, Mrs. Grey,” someone says from the other side of the table, as if they expect I’ve never heard the word before. I narrow my eyes.

“Right. I just hadn’t considered we were dealing with volume so high that the number of hours we have to spend with each of our authors has been commoditized. Personally, I think I’d trade quantity for quality any day.”

The room falls silent and every pair of eyes around the table turns to Scott. He smiles, but his fingertips are white against the table. “Of course, we do the best with what we have, Ana. But as the number of titles being self-published rises and saturates the market, we’re forced to keep up. We’re a business, first and foremost.”

“And wouldn’t it be better for business if we were publishing ten titles that sold 50,000 copies instead of 100 titles that sold 1,000?”

“It would. And that’s why you’re here, Ana. You’ve got your eyes set on the great white whale, go reel him in.” While encouraging on the surface, I can tell that his words are a placation. A way to get me to drop it. But I shouldn’t. I won’t. This isn’t a disagreement over whether or not the receptionist should be used to run personal errands, this is high level, business strategy. And while I’m not going to compromise when the numbers clearly show his model is failing, this is not a debate I intend to have with Scott in front of every department head before I’ve even earned their trust.

So instead, I spend the rest of the meeting trying to get everything on the frontlist down. What we’ve signed, what’s currently out to print, and what we’re actively searching out for future publication. It seems our bottom line this year is relying heavily on the work of one author, who has proven successful to GSP in the past, and a hail mary that we haven’t even discovered yet. That’s the note Scott leaves the group with, to get all of their best manuscripts to me for review so I can approve GSP’s next best seller. Then he dismisses everyone and reaches out the door to take the lunch Woods brought back for him before he has the same meeting again, on video conference, with the New York branch.

With Scott out of commission for the next few hours, there’s nothing for me to really do but go back to my office and begin sorting through the submissions the agents on staff immediately begin to flood my inbox with. It’s adequate to fill the rest of my afternoon, and a good chunk of my week for that matter, but as I skim through the best of the best that we currently have in the pipeline, I can’t find a single sample that I would even want to request more pages of. There’s a lack of vision. Direction. And as I reply ‘no’ to the eighth first chapter I’ve read, I remember that all of that falls to me now. I am now responsible for every piece of literature this publishing house produces going forward. Gallagher, Wallace… they’re expecting me to work miracles to get them back to the top of the Seattle publishing food chain, but with what I’m being given, not even a miracle is going to be able to save us.

“Mrs. Grey?” I turn in the direction of the voice and look down at the speaker on my phone.

“Yes, Penny?”

“There’s a Miss Palermo here to see you.”

“Here?”

“Yes, ma’am. Should I tell her you’re unavailable?”

“No. No, send her back.” I give a cursory glance over my desk, racking my brain for something I might have forgotten that would be urgent enough for my literary agent to track me down at work, then stand and straighten my skirt as my door opens.

“Greenwich Small Press?” Lydia demands the moment she steps into my office. Small. Press?! This is what you’ve put your next book on hold for, Anastasia? For this I turned away Random House?”

“That’s right. So if you’re here to harass me for chapters, you’ve wasted a trip.”

She sighs. “Not entirely. While I was hoping I’d get here and be able to talk some sense into you, I mostly stopped by to give you this. It arrived for you at my office on Friday.”

She holds out a manila envelope, which I take with a real degree of confusion until I rip away the seal and pull out a manuscript with a note taped to the front.

 

Dear Ms. Steele,

Thank you again for giving me the courage to achieve this dream that I never knew I had. Because of you, I’ve finally found who I’m meant to be. This novel is dedicated to you.

Hailey Lewis

 

The girl I met at my book signing. I asked her to send her manuscript to my agent so I could look over it and give her my feedback.

“Oh, great. Thank you, Lydia.”

She waves me off. “No thank you necessary. A copy of your manuscript is plenty thanks enough.” She holds out her hand expectantly, like I would be able to materialize a printed copy of my draft out of thin air even if I did want to give it to her. My expression twists with irritation.

“Like I said, you’re wasting your time. My second title is on hold until I’m ready to share it with the world. I’m not going to be pressured into publishing any sooner than that.”

She deflates. “Fine. Call me when that happens. In the meantime, if there’s anything you need, let me know.”

“I wouldn’t say no if you wanted to some authors my way.”

“Greenwich Small Press, Anastasia.” She grimaces. “What about your experience with me leads you to believe I do anything small?”

I smile and shake my head. “Goodbye, Lydia.”

“Goodbye, Anastasia. I hope you find whatever it is that will make you publish soon. I’ve been eyeing a condo in the Dominican Republic and I need your commission checks to get me there. You’re gonna be big!”

She waves over her shoulder as she saunters out of my office, and I roll my eyes before collapsing back into my chair. The manuscript she left feels meaty, too much so for me to start while I’ve still got an inbox full of submissions to wade through, so I slip it into my bag and half forget it’s there as I settle in and turn my attention back to my work. Work that feels as impossible as the search for the holy grail.

Next Chapter

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32 thoughts on “Chapter 11

  1. I have a feeling she just got into huge mess… why she must be so hard headed? Still love her strength, but she needs to ease on her independent woman crusade.

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  2. Oh boy Ana has her work cut out for her. It’s any reason why this publishing company is sinking. They r disorganized and unwilling to trust other people’s abilities or skills. I love how your 2nd book was focused on mending Christian even though the tragedy with Lincoln almost destroyed him. But I saw how it built Christian to be the person and business man he is today. But I love how this third book focuses on Ana and how she is coping and building herself up after this entire aftermath. She takes no crap from anyone including our dear Mr Grey himself. I just love your wonderful work.

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  3. Poor Ana coping with a first day at Nursery. It is horrible when you feel your child doesn’t need you. What has she let herself in for at work?

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  4. well, good old Scott needs a kick in the arse….what a jerk…..doesn’t look like the work environment is all that friendly……love this….cannot wait to see what happens…..but I will….lol

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  5. I can just imagine his employees gapping at him especially with the pacifier between his teeth trying to get Ana and Callie to the daycare center. LOL

    Ana has her hands full at this new job and getting GSP up to the level it could possibly be? I’d ask if she will succeed but then we are talking about Anastasia. Is Hailey Lewis’ manuscript the girl that she met at the book store the holy grail that she’s looking for, that she just placed into her bag?

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    1. AND if Hailey’s manuscript actually IS the “holy grail,” then Ana will want to do right by the girl. She isn’t just going to want the agent for the book chosen by “accident” or whoever is next free on the list, particularly if that is an agent that mistrusts and WON’T do wha Ana directs. And why would the agent think that s/he has to listen to Ana? SCOTT certainly didn’t endorse her OR make it clear that Ana COULD AND WOULD make changes as SHE sees fit.

      AND if Ana feels Hailey would best be served by others, then she would WANT Hailey to have an agent like Lydia. WHICH WOULD BE A POTENTIAL VIOLATION OF THE NON-COMPETE CLAUSE.

      Ana had agreed to read Hailey’s manuscript. But NOW that this is her actual JOB, then recommending Lydia go elsewhere would violate ANA’s position! So this has the potential to be a REAL MESS.

      I’m just not optimistic about Ana having smooth sailing at this new company. EVERY potential bad roadblock has been placed in her way, ESPECIALLY with Scott being the “beep”-hole that we NOW know he is that has NO INTENTION of letting a woman outshine him or re-order “his” way of doing things.

      (As to your daycare comments—although Christian seemed fine with Calliope being in the daycare, what do you guess that HE goes and secretly pulls her out for daddy/daughter time at various points in the day? I bet those employees may have to get used to seeing Daddy and Callie around the office! Can’t you see it—“See, Callie, this is our mergers director, who you will be ordering around someday. HERE will be where YOUR office will be. Does Callie like her office? Does she? Does Callie like working wtih Daddy?”)

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  6. Your heart naturally breaks for Ana as she has to leave Calliope at the daycare. And I got exactly where she was coming from—feeling that Calliope did not need or want her in the moment. BUT at the same time, it means Calliope is actually OPEN to being social with other children, and that is something she will have to deal with in the future. After all, the ASSUMPTION is that she will attend school (almost certainly private school) and that she will have to deal with her peers.

    Plus, unlike the generic kid, Calliope has a NANNY right there with her to keep her from being bit or picking up the usual negative habits of daycare. And Christian has gone all out—Calliope will have a speech person right when it can be the MOST productive. (In fact, I’m surprised Christian didn’t have a foreign language person there—after all, the younger she is, the more she can learn, especially if she hears it regularly without the competition of so many “school” subjects! I bet once Calliope acclimates to the daycare, Christian will probably ADD that.

    On to the JOB.

    Oh boy. FIRST, Christian knows NOTHING about Ana hiring Astor Harrington, and here she has had him review a MAJOR part of her contract for her. That is putting Ana’s career future into the hands of a man that Christian probably LEAST likes in the world, since Lincoln is dead and Carter turned out to be a decent guy at heart that was willing to risk his life to help Christian’s family.

    And SECONDLY, Astor made the call on the Non-Compete Agreement and encouraged Ana to sign. While such a thing IS standard and makes a lot of sense for Gallagher, a non-compete CAN be overreaching if it does NOT have a certain set period of time. I mean, Ana should NOT be kept from EVER getting into the publishing scene as a CEO in case THIS company refuses to accept and follow her vision in order to see success.

    HERE, we did not get much detail, yet, about the Non-Compete Agreement. AND my hope is that Ana’s job goes well so that it is not an issue. But, quite frankly, the scene that Ana is walking into gives me pause. Due to her NAME, the staff will NOT trust her AND THINK THAT SCOTT CAN OVERRULE Ana. Which, quite frankly, he may be able to do.

    THIRDLY, the little we have seen here tends to show Scott Wallace as the typical male chauvinist, similar to the guy that Ana had to contend with back in her internship days with GEH. HOWEVER, what seems worse about Scott is that he does NOT realize how his actions towards women are perceived towards others.

    The “sweetheart” comment by Scott was a DEAD GIVEAWAY to how Scott sees HIS job. HE thinks he can order everyone else around, and I CANNOT see Scott Wallace SUPPORTING ANA on her decisions to change things. Everyone is around to service HIM, not the company, and Scott shows REAL RESISTANCE to CHANGE, even though he supposedly championed Ana for the company in order for change to be made.

    AND that may be the problem—Scott wants Ana for her NAME, not for the REAL changes she NEEDS to make for the company. AND if Ana must go through SCOTT as the intermediary to Gallagher, then there WILL be PROBLEMS.

    AND ANA DEFINITELY NEEDS TO CHANGE THINGS at Gallagher’s company. But if she has no real POWER to make those changes, then she is basically just a figurehead. AND SCOTT HAS ALREADY INDICATED that Ana is NOT to go to Gallagher for things—she is to clear changes with HIM FIRST!!! That was NOT what Ana signed on for!

    So I see some REAL problems for Ana in the upcoming days, ESPECIALLY given how all the staff naturally MISTRUST Ana and THINK THAT SHE IS THERE TO PURPOSEFULLY run the company into the ground so Christian can buy it.

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  7. I’m hoping Hailey’s manuscript is worth pursuing. HOWEVER, Ana may have trouble when she goes to assign it to an agent, particularly if that individual is not really interested in the subject matter or in making Ana look good to the company.

    I can certainly see Hailey wanting to sign with the company that ANA represents. HOWEVER, Ana had GEH’s upper management SUPPORT for her changes to SIP, and she was able to succeed because she could NOT be questioned. HERE, I’m seriously worried about how Scott Wallace will react/impede Ana.

    AND I’m now rather concerned about Scott Wallace’s possible intentions. WHY try to get someone to come to the company that is SUPPOSED to be there to make changes IF you have no intention of letting the person do so? Scott is supposed to BACK Ana, not obviously “placate” her.

    AND the employees should NOT be able to show open contempt for Ana. Quite frankly, since Scott WAS trusted by the other employees and IS SUPPOSED TO HAND OVER CONTROL TO ANA, then it was his JOB to dress down the employees for their inappropriateness AND insubordination. AND he should have outright ENDORSED Ana’s statements unconditionally in the presence of the others and then taken it up privately with Ana, if he had concerns. INSTEAD, Scott seemingly DEFENDED the bad practices and virtually seemed to assure the other employees that the bad practices would CONTINUE.

    So I felt Scott duly UNDERMINED ANA in the meeting. As he seemingly did throughout the day, even by insisting that company resources be redirected to make HIM happy.

    So yeah, Scott seems to me to be a REAL problem in the making. And if Gallagher listens blithely to him over Ana, then the problems will increase. And Ana will have no real support in implementing her recommended changes.

    Fascinating chapter. REALLY sets the groundwork for the problems Ana may face, especially at a time when we all KNOW she has so much on her plate!

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  8. SO MUCH MORE happened in this chapter that the forest actually IS at risk of being lost amongst the trees (which goes to show how brilliant a writer Tara tends to be—she sneaks in CLUES of upcoming issues that will tend to blow up in the future.)

    HERE, Christian is seen as being “at war” with his own father. EVEN WORSE, it obviously APPEARS to the public that he is trying to hold the city hostage AND threaten to take away his company’s money to the community that comes through taxes, etc. if his father does not offer him “special incentives” to stay.

    So at a time when Carrick wants to go after corrupt officials, it seems as if his OWN SON is being “corrupt” and threatening to take away jobs AND money from the city! Not only does this tarnish Carrick, but it also HURTS CHRISTIAN from a PR standpoint, at the VERY TIME his company needs to work on its image.

    So Christian is being SHORT-SIGHTED in wanting POWER above all else. He is even willing to sacrifice his relationship with his FAMILY to do it. Ana is RIGHT to warn Christian about what direction this is headed AND about HOW CARRICK WILL INTERPRET CHRISTIAN’S ACTIONS against him.

    Plus, as said above, if Carrick’s own SON is attempting to UNDERMINE HIM, then what do you expect to come from the REAL threats that may be still out there? AND how can Carrick DO HIS JOB if he has a VERY PUBLIC battle with his own son???

    So Christian’s actions are NOT thought out longterm. ALL his focus is on his “Clean Energy” dreams. And while that may be altruistic, WHAT HE IS DOING TO HIS COMPANY in the process is NOT. He is threatening to run GEH into the ground for his own personal “pet” project.

    So CHRISTIAN’S COPING MECHANISMS are potentially MORE dangerous and hurtful to others than ANA’S. And NEITHER of them can see it.

    So Christian is at a DANGEROUS precipice and crossroads, in my opinion. He is NOT heeding the warnings from his company people OR his wife. AND he is alienating his FAMILY, which is his STRONGEST support system. AND WE ALL KNOW what Christian becomes like when his family is NOT there to make him strive to be a BETTER person. Christian is NOT concerned with what could LIKELY happen to HIS COMPANY and ALL the people that work for him if he continues on his current path.

    So yikes!!! ADD all Christian’s company and family woes, and THEN consider what Christian will feel when he learns about ASTOR representing his WIFE. ALL without his knowing.

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  9. Is Scott going to get fired for harassment, “sweetheart,” or for his incompetent “don’t make waves” business philosophy? Looks like Ana’s really got her work cut out for her the first month or so. If Hailey’s book is good, will Ana run it through GSP, or let Lydia push it at a big publisher?

    Can’t wait for Christian to find out she hired Astor. (who, BTW, I think made a mistake not putting in a clause about where Ana can publish HER book(s).)

    “What does Taylor do all day?” Keeps an eye on you/Luke, looks into Alexis Young, and like that.

    Great chapter, Tara, lots of good little read-between-the-lines things. Can’t wait for next Monday.

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    1. LOVE your review! You said everything that I, myself, have been thinking.

      Scott Wallace WILL be a problem. He thinks he can override Ana on everything, and he has SERIOUSLY undermined her already, all within ONE day! Plus, the employees NEEDED to be told to listen and respect Ana. AND that she was their new boss. But Scott’s actions seemingly made it clear that Ana’s directives can be “altered” or forbidden outright.

      PLUS, Scott has also told Ana that she can’t go over his head to Gallagher. So if SCOTT doesn’t support Ana and let others know that SHE controls the day-to-day operations, then no one thinks she has the authority to make changes and will refuse to do them.

      Even worse, it should have been SCOTT that rebuked and laid down the law for the employees as to RESPECT for Ana. That inappopriate commentary should NOT have been allowed. BUT I did NOT think it was ANA’s job to do that right on the first day. SCOTT should have taken them to task and set the tone so that Ana could have a successful transition. He did NOT do that.

      And YES, I agree that Astor needs to clarify where Ana can publish, as that seemingly IS competing against the company. PLUS, the Non-Compete Clause SHOULD have a SPECIFIC TIME PERIOD where Ana couldn’t compete OR should have a PARTICULAR region or part of the country where Ana could not compete with them. You can’t just have an open non-compete that would keep one from practicing in one’s profession forever just because it didn’t work out with one particular company. You can see the blatant unfairness of a Non-Compete Clause where in a situation like this, Ana doesn’t get the company support she needs and is entitled to, resulting in her choosing to leave. She can’t be denied the right to work in her chosen profession forever, so I hope Astor really knows what he is doing!

      But having ASTOR review Ana’s contracts almost certainly WILL cause an issue for Christian, since I’m sure he has an army of attorneys on retainer already. PLUS, Carrick is a very good attorney and might be hurt that Ana never thought to consult him. (Still, he has the job of being mayor, so Ana has an excuse there for not wanting to overburden him.)

      But your TAYLOR comment has ALSO led me to worry about what CHristian has REALLY tasked Taylor with doing of late. If Taylor is to watch all Grey accounts, then Taylor will find out about legal payments to Astor, which Christian knew NOTHING about. (I mean, can’t you just IMAGINE what will go through Christian’s head if Ana wants HER OWN attorney separate from his? Will he be worried that she might leave him and be consulting an attorney, secretly, to find out about custody? I mean, with Christian, you NEVER know when his SELF-DOUBTS about his relationship wtih Ana will kick in. AFter all, her LEAVING him is his WORST fear.)

      I ALSO wonder about Hailey’s book. IF it is really good, Ana might NOT want some “random” person to be assigned to it. AND she would want it to have the publicity and fanfare that it deserves. So she really MIGHT want to send it Lydia’s way, which WOULD be a potentially CONFLICT and WOULD BE A VIOLATION OF THE NON-COMPETE CLAUSE even though Ana never overtly intended it to be.

      ANA had agreed to read HAILEY’S manuscript as a COURTESY and as a fellow author. BUT IN HER NEW POSITION, handing over the manuscript to someone ELSE will be HELPING A COMPETITOR. SO there could potentially be a REAL problem, especially since Ana has the manuscript in her WORK satchel!

      So this chapter actually raised SO MANY potential problems that I almost need a LIST to keep following the threads!

      The only thing you didn’t mention was the CARRICK issues that loom on the horizon as well. Christian has worked SO HARD to get back with his family only to seemingly risk shattering them all with his “threats” that would ALSO have Seattle rather bitter at Christian. Now CHRISTIAN seems to be the CORRUPT rich man trying to demand that Seattle give him things that he is NOT entitled to. ALL at a time when Christian is RISKING running his company into the ground over his “clean energy” project!

      So yep, DEFINITELY problems on the horizon for Christian AND Ana. (Not to forget MIA’s concerns from last chapter, Kate fixing to give birth, Elliot being caught in the crossfire between his father and Christian, etc.) Nothing is ever calm in Tara’s “Grey-verse.”

      (PLUS, Ana just seemed to let it slide that CHristian was seemingly AGAINST having any more children in the last chapter. They’ll need to have THAT conversation some time in the future if Ana feels differently. Leave it to GRACE to add THAT issue to the already-full plate of Grey issues!)

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  10. I’m always amazed at the level of detail you expound in your writing. I don’t know if you’re in the publishing industry, if not you’ve convinced me. There is something to be said for writers who take the time to research even the smallest detail and I very much appreciate that.

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  11. I don’t know why but with every new chapter I am hoping it becomes clear why Ana insists on acting like being married to Christian and having his name is a curse. Now she got to working at this publishing house but has to sign papers saying she can’t work for anyone else in the industry if she decides to leave and I can’t for the life of me understand what Ana is really trying to achieve by doing all this. I understand independence but this is something else. I hate that I get the feeling that she resents Christian for what he achieved, like she only wants the parts she chooses of him and not the rest. I am trying to hold on, trust and wait patiently to see where this story is gonna go but it’s so hard when all I can see, are the things Ana is doing that could end up destroying her whole relationship with Christian. I am hoping Tara that you can put my worries to rest.

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    1. Ana just NEVER wants to be perceived as the “trophy wife” of Christian Grey. She wants the world to see that Christian fell in love with her for her MIND as well as her body (which IS the case. We know this from seeing how impressed Christian was that ANA could beat him in analysis of literature in their class together at Harvard.) And how many billionaire wives do you know that are seemingly perceived to be anything OTHER than just a pretty face to hang on her man’s arms until he decides to upgrade to the NEXT model?

      (AFTER ALL, Andrew Lincoln’s INSISTENCE that his wife NOT work and use her Princeton degree led Elena to RESENT him and LOOK to have an affair, ESPECIALLY since she figured he was doing the same since he was away from the home for work all the time. Christian does NOT want to make the SAME MISTAKE. As he has said before, he WANTS to “make all Ana’s dreams come true.” And Ana wants a career in the publishing industry that she has EARNED HERSELF and that was NOT given to her.)

      So I get why an independent Ana WANTS to prove herself. ESPECIALLY when she has a daughter. She WANTS Calliope to see that she can have her OWN career and dreams that are NOT dependent on a rich man.

      So Ana NEEDS a job INDEPENDENT from her husband’s company, or she can never know that she really did it all herself. THE PROBLEM here, really, is that Ana has the CAPACITY to do the job and the SKILL to do it well. HOWEVER, Ana may truly not have the POWER to implement the necessary changes if she is NOT supported by her boss. So HOW Ana handles all this will be a REAL TESTAMENT to her skill.

      I don’t think Ana resents Christian at all. She is SO PROUD of Christian for ALL he achieved. You see this in ABSOF chapter 8-ish when she first comes into Christian’s office and tells him that she is so GLAD he achieved his dream. ANA JUST WANTS THE SAME RIGHT TO PURSUE HER OWN DREAM. And Ana wants to prove that SHE got her dream for her OWN virtues and skills and NOT because of her husband’s name.

      And Christian has proven to be the right partner, so far, who UNDERSTANDS WHY Ana wants her OWN DREAM so badly AND to have achieved it ON HER OWN without cashing-in on her husband’s name.

      The problem that EVERY marriage faces is that being a Boss and having a lot of responsibilities at one’s job can leave one with little to nothing left to spend with one’s spouse and family. How many rich CEO’s out there ever got to spend much, if any, time with their kids? OTHER people had to raise them, and I can’t see Ana wanting to be a mother that only has an hour or two with her child during the day or even week.

      But Christian and Ana have WORKED before to MAKE TIME for themselves and their family. So if anyone is committed to having the job AND family, it is the two of them.

      So I LOVE Ana for wanting to have the career ON HER OWN TERMS based on her OWN EFFORTS and brains. Even today, so many countries in the world do NOT think a woman should work if her husband is rich and there is a child at home. There is that “double standard” that is only now BEGINNING to be broken. So kudos to Ana for trying, in my opinion.

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      1. Torik I have missed reading your reviews. I was hoping that you would returned. Hope all’s well with you and family,

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  12. Ana’s comment regarding TAYLOR was also interesting, in my opinion. It brought up the very real concerns I have had lately about what, exactly, it is that Christian is having Taylor do right now. Is Taylor having to watch Ana and others and do untold amounts of unwarranted security checks and searches?

    It seemingly appears that Ana has no intentions of telling Christian about Astor. Which means that if Taylor HAS been assigned to follow ANY “leaks” of Grey money, then he WILL see that money is being paid to Astor Harrington that is the property of Ana AND Christian, together, since they are married. (And neither spouse has apparently made no intention of segregating funds or having separate accounts, so the money drain SHOULD be apparent to ANYONE, like Taylor, tasked to watch it.)

    After all, Andrew Lincoln used CHRISTIAN’S OWN MONEY is HIS OWN PRIVATE ACCOUNT to fund his revenge campaign. So I would think Christian would have Taylor watch ALL GREY FAMILY accounts for money payouts. So if Taylor is doing the job I THINK he is tasked to do, then it WILL come to Christian’s attention about Ana hiring Astor as HER OWN PRIVATE attorney.

    So I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop when Taylor discovers something and reports it to Christian.

    AND, quite frankly, that will be ANOTHER problem. While Christian and Ana are married, Taylor has always seen CHRISTIAN as his boss. It is CHRISTIAN that gets to order him around, as we saw in this chapter. Christian seemingly laughed-away Ana’s directive that Taylor be assigned to Calliope. So that is ANOTHER problem that WILL have to be addressed at some point between Christian and Ana. They are EQUAL PARTNERS. So they SHARE staff.

    And that puts Taylor in the really awkward position of seemingly SPYING on Ana and HOW she spends money, if he tracks down all Grey expenditures, etc. AND he then reports it all to Christian, so when Christian gets upset with Ana about inadvertently discovering about Astor, it WILL bring this issue up. ANA is the type of person to get upset if it looks like her husband is intentionally spying on her.

    We ALL know that Christian just wants to keep Ana SAFE. BUT THE WAYS that BOTH Christian AND Ana are going about to keep the family “safe” are ONLY going to lead to future CONFLICT. You can TELL that it is coming. So they will HAVE to iron out when EACH has the right to do things secretly and when things should be disclosed. Because BOTH Christian AND Ana have been doing things to keep one another “safe” that will have the other partner LIVID when it comes to light.

    (And KUDOS Tara for sneaking this ALL into ONE chapter. We are NOT allowed to forget that Ana AND Christian’s coping issues are going to cause problems for one another AND for their family. And even, it seems, with the company image for GEH. So A LOT was actually brought forth in this chapter that you had to really WATCH to catch. In fact, I’m wondering what ELSE I might have missed. This chapter definitely requires MULTIPLE re-reads!)

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  13. I can’t wait to see Ana get that place in order! I was screaming in my head, the whole time! Loved this chapter! Thanks for the update!

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  14. “The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one.”
    – Jodi Picoult

    “‘How do you juggle it all?’ people constantly ask me, with an accusatory look in their eyes. ‘You’re screwing it all up, aren’t you?’ their eyes say. My standard answer is that I have the same struggle as any working parent but with the good fortune to be working at my dream job. Or sometimes I just hand them a juicy red apple I’ve poisoned in my working-mother witch cauldron and fly away.”
    – Tina Fey

    After reading this chapter let us hope that Ana nor Christian don’t fall into any of the following categories —

    “Signs You’re in Over Your Head:
    You’re more anxious and stressed-out than usual.
    Goals you thought were reasonable now seem insurmountable.
    You’re feeling depressed when you should be feeling fine.
    Your schedule is constantly slipping.
    I can do this has turned into I’m going to do this if it kills me.
    You find yourself working even when you’re not … and shouldn’t be.
    You’re screwing up … and you’re not a screw up.”
    – Steve Tobak

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  15. Non compete agreement is a little too much. I hope it does not come back to hurt her. Ana has a full plate. GSP is a mess, from the quantity vs quality issue to informal culture. Scott doesn’t seem to be a good leader and staff just go with the flow. I have strong confidence Ana will be able to turn it around. Her life just gets very busy with GSP revamp. I shudder at the thought of Christian finding Astor is on Ana’s payroll. Amazing chapter, Tara. Ana is gonna kick ass to get GSP right. Xoxo daytona

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  16. Yes, Hailey Lewis’ novel is going to boost Ana and her new publishing house to the top of the charts! I feel that as soon as Scott Wallace sufficiently trains Ana, he will stay out of her hair, and had on the East Coast. At this point, reorganizing the way new submissions are assigned to agents can be a gradual thing. Interviewing several agents at a time as to what they do, and how what they would actually do it if they could, would make for less tedious work. And less snotty remarks about Ana, the new boss. Working and retraining on a one-to-one basis is more productive. Scott’s disrespectful attitude toward females in the office needs to go, along with a refresher by HR on correct office behavior. Streamlining the office will tighten up attitudes also. Woods is already a professional member of the staff!
    And yes, WHAT does Taylor do? U

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  17. Ana might have to go through mountains of obstacles before she will be happy with this new job. Scott Wallace is not giving her a free reign to manage the Seattle Branch like she had made to believe she would when she was hired. It is not the same as GP when she was given freedom to implement the direction for the company. Signing the non compete agreement with only a quick read from Astor Harrington might become problematic for her future and her unpublished novel.
    Then there is Christian threatening Carrick about taking his business elsewhere to avoid taxation but he donates so much money already and all of them tax deductable and are use for city improvement. He is not making it esy for Carrick and may cause a rift in the family if he is being bullheaded to prove his clout.
    Calliope will be talking about her friends at day care before Ana will even know. She will really be Daddy’s girl with her proximity to him all day which Ana will be deprived of. More chapters to follow that will hold our interest from your excellent writing.Thank you,Tara.

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  18. Great chapter. Loved ana’s Drama over leaving Callie. Typical mother. I’m sure the manuscript she got she will champion. Can’t wait to see. Thank you.

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  19. Apologies for my late comment. I keep thinking there is something quite ‘off’ about Scott Wallace. At the time he just ‘happened’ to run
    into Ana when she was meeting with Sawyer at that ‘convenient’ Vietnamese restaurant next to the Cleaners (where Linc, Gia and
    Kommer used as their meeting place), it seemed to be too much of a coincidence. I thought it strange but just let it go. However,
    that memory popped up to me again this morning when I recalled that Wallace ‘thought’ Sawyer was Mr. Grey. That is something
    I do find it most difficult to believe. It almost struck me as veiled sarcasm. Even simply knowing who Ana is, Wallace would most
    certainly have to have seen Christian in a photo with her, on the news, or in any number of business journals he would have come
    in contact with in Seattle or New York. I am -now not ruling him out as a possible connection to them and/or others. His whole
    demeanor reeks of ‘sleezeball’ and he came across even more so in #11. Carmen appears to have very little respect for him,
    as well, and does not seem to treat him as his position with her company would merit.
    Tara, your stories are amazing, your writing riveting…and you keep me hanging on anxiously awaiting each chapter posting.
    (I often find myself ‘talking’ to you as I read the chapters). Loved each and every one of your books and, although I do not want
    this saga to end, I am totally looking forward to you next book. Yup, I am ‘hooked.’
    Thank You, again, for your wonderful writing and dedication to your readers.
    Ellen

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  20. The more I think about this chapter, I less I like or trust Scott. He’s a chauvinist, and he doesn’t demonstrate much management knowledge of publishing. I don’t think Carmen cares much for him, either, just tolerates him. Maybe someone else in the company forced him on her, or maybe she’s just not interested in publishing.

    So far, Scott just happened to bump into Ana in an out-of-the-way Pho restaurant, which coincidentally is next door to the business where Linc, Gia and Kommer were having their meetings.

    He thinks Luke is Mr. Grey. How can he know what Ana looks like and NOT know what Christian looks like? (And why isn’t Luke investigating that?)

    Then he sees her at the book show and says – presumptuously (arrogantly?) – that he’s scheduled her for an 11am interview on Wednesday. He says if she’s not interested, just don’t show up. Pretty casual attitude for an top executive position.

    His chauvinism – and probable incompetence – shows up again when he tells Ana to “run everything past him” before she takes it to Carmen. Is he trying to take credit for Ana’s work? Or does he have some other agenda? Is Hailey’s book part of it? Scott and Hailey were both at the book show that day.

    Like

  21. I think the non compete agreement is going to come to bite her in the ass. Astor is still a student. I think there was a big mistake here. I loved the true reaction Ana had to dropping off Calliope. Christian is going to take full advantage having his daughter so close to his office. I hope Ana hasn’t bitten off more than she can crew.

    Like

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