Chapter 14

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Kate is only able to hold Kennedy for about ten minutes or so before the exhaustion from labor really hits her. She fights it, but her body is weak and the nurses insist she get some rest before they make a first attempt at breastfeeding. Reluctantly, she allows Elliot to take their daughter out of her arms, then we all watch as the nurse takes feet and hand prints and lays her on the scale.

I can’t take my eyes off of her. Her tiny fingers. Her squirmy little legs. My mind immediately begins to divide her features between Kate and Elliot, but it’s difficult. Calliope is my twin. Well, except for her eyes, which belong to Christian. Kennedy seems much more evenly split. Both her parents are blonde, so the wisps of wheat colored hair that top her head aren’t a surprise. She’ll be beautiful, like her mother, but her features will be strong and pronounced like her father. Not even her eyes, the same green as Kate’s but flecked with Elliot’s blue, could be claimed by just one of them. But the combination is gorgeous.

“God, look at her,” Elliot says, awed. “She’s so pretty.”

I nod. “Yeah. She is.”

“She’s… perfect.” A smile plays at his lips, but never fully forms, and I think it’s because he’s too distracted trying to memorize her. He’s raptured, already falling head over heels in love, and watching him gets me choked up.

“We’ll take her to the nursery, Mr. Grey,” the nurse smiles. “Your family will be able to see her there once you’re ready.”

“Thank you.” He nods, so the nurse places Kennedy in a plastic bin and begins to push her from the room, but Elliot calls out to stop her. “Wait!”

“Yes, Mr. Grey?”

“Just…” He takes a nervous breath. “Just be careful with her. It took my wife nine months to make her.”

The nurse smiles. “No need to worry, Mr. Grey. I’ll make sure little Miss Kennedy here is attended to like the VIP patient she is.”

“Good.” He nods again and when the nurse leaves with the baby, he immediately returns to Kate’s bedside and takes her hand. She’d been dozing, and Elliot’s touch wakes her with a start. “I’m sorry,” he says. “How are you feeling?”

“Like someone ripped my insides out through my vagina.” She attempts a laugh, but the pitiful sound dies out quickly as her eyelids start to droop again.

“Then, I’ll let you rest and Ana and I will go tell the family.” He picks up her hand and kisses each of her fingers. “You are an incredible woman, Katherine. Thank you for what you’ve given me today.”

“Mmm.” Her hands reach out blindly for him and when she touches the side of his face, she pulls him into her until their lips meet. “I love you, Elliot.”

“I love you too. Now sleep, baby. I’ll come check on you in a bit.”

She tries to nod, but her she’s already drifting off. Her eyelids close and her head lolls to the side. Elliot brushes the backs of his fingers over her cheek and looks down on her with a kind of veneration that is too personal for me to intrude upon. I step out to wait in the hallway and, seconds later, Elliot joins me. He eases the door closed so that he won’t wake Kate, but once the metal parts of the latch clink together, he turns and nearly collapses against the wall.

“You alright?” I check, moving closer and placing a supportive hand on his arm. He nods, but closes his eyes.

“I’m a father. This morning, I was just… checking a foundation against a blueprint and now I’m a father.”

“It’s amazing, isn’t it?”

“And terrifying. I can do this, right?”

“Of course you can. Elliot, all that little girl needs from you is to love her unconditionally, and you have the biggest heart of anyone I know.”

He smiles. “It’s amazing how fast they wrap you around their finger, right? I thought it was going to feel weird, but it doesn’t. It feels like she was always here. Like she’s always been mine. Shit, mine. I have a daughter.”

“Yes, you do.” I laugh. “And a gorgeous one at that.”

He holds his arms out and pulls me into a lung crushing hug. “Thank you for being there for my wife today. I know going back there must have been hard for you.”

I inhale deeply, but squeeze him right back. “I’ll always be there. For all three of you.”

“I know, and that’s why I love you so much. Really, though. I love you, Ana. I’m grateful everyday that Christian found you and brought you into our family. You make us all a little bit better.”

The honest confession takes me off guard, so I’m unprepared for the wave of emotion that hits me. My throat feels tight, my eyes well with tears… I sniff, pull back, and give him a skeptical look. “You going soft on me, Elliot?”

He grins. “My daughter was born twenty minutes ago. Give me a pass this one time, huh?”

“No pass needed. I love you too, Elliot.”

He leans down and kisses me hard on the forehead, then hooks his arm through mine and drags me through the maternity ward so we can break the good news to the rest of the family.

When we come through the double doors, we find everyone seated together in a tight group of chairs close to the information desk. Calliope is standing on wobbily legs in Christian’s lap, facing him, with her wrists clasped tightly in his hands for balance. She’s clearly enjoying the attention of everyone around her, and as she stares pointedly at her daddy, she happily babbles away to her heart’s content. He responds every time she pauses to take a breath, like they’re having the most engaging conversation he’s ever been apart of, and my already full heart expands nearly to the point of bursting.

“There they are!” Grace exclaims, jumping out of her seat and rushing over to us. “Well?”

Elliot grins. “Her name is Kennedy. She weighs 8lbs, and 3oz. She has all ten fingers, and all ten toes, and both she and Kate are doing great.”

“Oh, congratulations, sweetheart!” Grace throws her arms around Elliot as joyful tears run down her cheeks. “I’m so happy for you!”

“Thanks, Mom.”

“Congratulations, Son,” Carrick says, taking Grace’s place the moment she releases Elliot.

“Thanks, Dad.” Carrick pats his back a few times, the way guys always do to make physical contact between them less intimate, and then Mia slides in to wrap her arms around his waist.

“Can we see her?” Christian asks, trying to speak through the fingers Calliope keeps putting in his mouth.

“Yeah, she’s in the nursery.” Elliot turns to lead us back through the doors we just came through, and Grace reaches down to take Carrick’s hand. Mr. and Mrs. Kavanagh grip both of Elliot’s hands, congratulating him and saying again and again how proud they are to have him as a son in law.

“Ah, thanks, Ma,” Elliot replies, his face flushed with embarrassment. Mrs. Kavanagh kisses his cheek and then hurries through the doors after Grace and Carrick. Calliope leans over, arms stretched out for me, so I take her and follow suit. Christian’s hand rests softly on my lower back and when the doors swing closed behind us, he places a kiss against my temple.

“Hey,” I say softly, then reach up to grab his chin and tilt his face towards mine. I stop and kiss him. Really kiss him. “I love you.”

He hums with pleasure. “Not like I love you.” His lips press to mine again, softly this time, and quick, like a secret just between the two of us. “Now, behave,” he whispers. “Or I’ll pull you into an empty room and finish what I started this morning.”

“And that’s supposed to make me behave because…?”

He laughs, then nudges me forward again, and I pout a little as we make our way to the nursery.

There are four other newborns currently being adored by their families, so the nursery is crowded. Christian and I stay back and watch Kennedy being introduced to her grandparents through the large viewing window in the hallway. Mia leans as far forward as the glass will allow, her elbows resting on the metal ledge between the window and the drywall. She looks the way I felt when I watched them put my brand new niece into Kate’s arms for the first time. I reach over and affectionately rub my hand over her back.

“Do you see the baby?” Christian asks, leaning closer into Calliope, who is still sitting on my hip.

“UnNen,” she replies, pressing her hands against the glass and looking at Elliot. It’s her best attempt at ‘Uncle’. The speech therapist Christian hired to work with her while she’s at school has already helped her develop language skills far beyond what’s expected for her age, especially in terms of vocabulary and the ability to repeat words we give her, but she still can’t quite grasp the ‘L’ sound.

“That’s right,” he says. “That’s Uncle Elliot and Aunt Kate’s baby. Kennedy. She’s your cousin.”

Calliope gasps and stares at the pink bundle Grace lifts into her arms. When she turns back to Christian her fingers curl into tight fists and she shakes excitedly. “Ooh!”

We both laugh.

“Yeah, I think they’re going to be best friends,” I say, brushing my finger under her chin. Christian nods. We watch for several minutes, until both sets of Grandparents give their final kisses to Elliot and the baby and step out into the hall to join us.

“My turn!” Mia says. She rushes around the corner, slowing only when she comes through the door of the nursery. Elliot looks up and motions through the glass for Christian and I to join them.

“Do you want to meet, Kennedy?” I ask Calliope. She bounces in my arms.

“Kenny!”

“Oh my god, Kenny!” Grace chirps. “What a perfect nickname, and from her favorite big cousin!”

Christian’s face twists into a look between displeasure and uncertainty. “Let’s see how Kate feels about nicknames before we start assigning them, huh?”

Grace sighs. “Alright, but I think it’s going to stick. We’re going to go peek in on Kate. Let us know if you need anything.”

Christian leans down so his mother can kiss his cheek, but even though he shakes the hands of both of Kate’s parents and offers them his congratulations, he and Carrick hardly even look at each other. This is supposed to be a joyous day, for the whole family, and this new animosity between them stands in stark contradiction to that. It’s not something on want for Kate on her special day, and I’m about to tell them as much, but Christian pulls against my hand and Grace hurries Carrick down the hall. I can’t even express my distaste to my husband, because he’s in too much of a hurry to get into the nursery. As is the baby in my arms, who is now chanting nonsense at me to push me along.

“She’s so tiny,” Mia says, just after we come through the door.

“Yeah, so don’t break her…” There are obvious nerves in Elliot’s voice and the overprotective way he stares down at his newborn daughter quickly washes away my irritation with Christian and his father. He glances up at us, rolling his eyes at the look on my face, and then nods to Christian.

“You wanna hold your god daughter?”

“Yeah, I do.” Mia sighs and moves to pass Kennedy to Christian, but the moment his hands touch her, Calliope screams.

“No!” She throws her body forward at Christian, nearly causing me to drop her. Without thinking, Elliot snatches Kennedy into his own arms, while Christian turns to keep Calliope from tumbling down onto the hard, linoleum floor.

“Calliope Katherine!” he scolds her, more frightened over her near fall than angry. “Just what in the world do you think you’re doing?”

“Mine, Dada. Mine!” She turns to look at the baby, her fingers digging into Christian’s shirt and her face scrunched up in anger. “No, Kenny!”

I bite down on my bottom lip. “Uh, oh…”

“You see,” Elliot says, chuckling. “I told you she was going to have a hard time not being the only little princess around here anymore.”

Christian sighs. “We’ll try again later. I read in those books last year that it’s a good idea to buy a gift from the baby to a new sibling to try and curtail jealousy issues and help win the older child over. Maybe that’s something we should try with Kennedy?”

I shrug, not too crazy about rewarding possessive behavior by giving her presents, but before we can discuss it further, a nurse comes in and smiles at all of us.

“Mrs. Grey is ready to try breastfeeding.”

“Oh good,” Elliot says. He looks down at Kennedy and smiles. “Let’s go find your mama, huh?”

He reaches over and grips Christian’s arm, then follows the nurse out of the nursery. Mia falls in line behind him, but as Christian adjusts Calliope in his arms and moves to take a step forward, I reach out and stop him.

“We should go.”

“She’s going to have to learn to share, Ana. Might as well start now.”

“No, not because of Calliope. Because of Kate.” He raises an eyebrow at me, so I continue. “This is the first day she has with Kennedy, and there’s a lot of us here. I remember being in her place, watching everyone pass my baby around when all I wanted was to have her for myself. We should give her today. We’ll visit once they’re home.”

“They’re going back to Escala, baby.”

“What?”

He nods. “My parents live three blocks away and Kate’s dad works right down the street. She wants to stay close while they adjust to having a new baby at home. They’re probably not going to move for a few weeks.”

“Oh…”

“We’ll figure it out. You don’t have to go back until you’re ready.”

I nod, then accept the hand he slips into mine as we leave the nursery. There’s a confidence in his voice that tells me he thinks I’ll be ready to go back sooner, rather than later, but I don’t. That place still haunts me. Every time I go to work and see the shadow it casts over the street below. Every time I see a forwarding address on a piece of mail. Every time I close my eyes and smell the flowers Gail kept on the table, mixing with the rusty scent of blood. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to go back, and the thought is like a dark rain cloud hovering over me as we walk through the parking lot and make our way back home.

****

I go into work Monday morning with four inch heels and bright red lipstick. For the first time since I started, I opted not to drive into the city with Christian so we could drop Calliope off at daycare together. I’m already on emotionally shaky ground with Kate leaving the hospital with baby Kennedy this morning, knowing that she’s returning to Escala for at least the remainder of her maternity leave. It feels like an impenetrable barrier between me and my brand new niece, so I didn’t think I’d be able to handle Calliope’s tears while she begged for me not to leave her on top of the guilt I already feel knowing I’m not going to be able to be there for my best friend while she makes the transition into her new role as a mother. Not before the call I’ve scheduled with Carmen for this morning, which feels like it’ll make or break my career.

After Abby and I go through everything else on my calendar for today and I’ve given her specific instructions for the flowers I want waiting inside the apartment at Escala for when Kate gets home, she hurries out of my office and I turn my attention to my email. It’s filled with the usual mass dump of submissions for me to approve, so I take a quick sip of the latte I’d brought in with me this morning and click on the first one. It’s one of Tyler Sullivan’s authors, so I’m perhaps judging the content a little to harshly, but just as I start to think this one might not be completely unreadable, there’s a knock on the door.

“Come in,” I call.

“Mrs. Grey?” Jacki pokes her head inside, blushing like she’s embarrassed to be interrupting me. I give her my warmest smile and motion her inside.

“Good morning. What can I do for you?”

“I just wanted to make sure you saw the sample I sent to you this morning. I… uh, I took your advice and had the IT team restrict my submission inbox to romance novels and women’s fiction and changed my bio on the website. I spent all weekend reading what was sent to me. I’ve never loved my job so much.”

I smile. “Good. I’m really glad to hear that.”

“Yeah. Anyway, I found something I just really, really loved, so I wanted to come in here to, you know, make sure it got a fair shake.”

I scroll through my email until I find one from her. “For Kristen Paige?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I look at it right now.”

“Great.” Her face lights up and I can tell that beneath the professional composure she’s trying to maintain, deep down she’s holding back and a fangirl level of excitement. “I’ll leave you to it then.”

“Thank you, Jacki.”

The door closes again, and I send a quick email back to Tyler telling him to go ahead and send me the rest of the manuscript for the sample I just read before I click over to Jacki’s submission. I’m more curious about these few chapters than I have been over anything else sent to me so far.  Not just because it’s an opportunity for me to prove my methods are better, but because Jacki said her favorite book is Pride and Prejudice. And while the Austen classic is a beautiful love story, I’m not sure how well an age of innocence type romance would fare in this day and age. But Jacki said she loved it, and if she can be used as representation for the audience that makes up 46% of all sales for mass produced paperbacks, I’m inclined to listen to her judgment.

Except, once I dive in, I learn quickly that this isn’t an age of innocence type story at all. There are no white knights or damsels in distress, only an innocent trust fund girl experiencing a real and satisfying sexual awakening with a hardened, bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks. It’s Romeo and Juliet or Beauty and the Beast, but with sex. A lot of sex. Hot, passionate, fiery, fantasy sex that makes me want to pull out a notepad and jot some ideas down to take home to Christian for us to try out tonight. All night…

“Ana?”

I jump and look up at the door with all the guilt of a child being caught with their hand in the cookie jar.

“Yes, Abby?” I squeak.

Her brow knits together. “You alright?”

“Uh, yeah. Of course I am.”

“You look a little… flustered.”

“Oh. No, I’m fine. It’s just a little hot in here.”

Her eyes move up and dance around the room, like she’s looking for a source of heat that only I can feel. “No…”

“Must just be me then. What can I do for you, Abby?”

“Your call with Ms. Gallagher is in four minutes. I’ve got you all set up in the conference room so the construction noise outside doesn’t bother you.”

“Oh, thank you. That was really thoughtful.”

“Of course. Is there anything else I can get for you, Mrs. Grey… Er, sorry, Ana?”

“I think I’m all set.” I wink and she smiles back at me as she exits the room. There are only a few pages left of the sample I have in my inbox, so I minimize the window to read the rest later and gather everything I need for my meeting. As I walk through the open office towards the conference room, I pause at Jacki’s desk. She looks up when I place a hand on her shoulder and bend down so that I can speak softly enough that only she’ll be able to hear me.

“I absolutely loved it.”

Her face lights up. “Really?”

“Really. You’ve found a winner, Jacki. Get me the rest of the manuscript and we’ll get a contract drawn up for Ms. Paige.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Ana,” I say softly, then turn back towards the conference room. After only a few steps though, I stop and face Jacki again. My hand reaches up to cover the bare part of my chest visible between the V-neck collar of my blouse so that she won’t be able to tell that I’m flushed. “Oh, and Jacki… get it to me today, huh?”

Apparently, I don’t fool her at all, because she grins knowingly back at me. “I’ll send it now.”

“Thank you.” I clear my throat, nod at Tyler, and hurry into the meeting room where I can close the door behind me.

Abby, ever thoughtful, has left a post it note on the table with the call in number for our meeting, so I dial and follow the prompts the robotic voice directs me through until it allows me to join the meeting.

“Good afternoon, did someone just join the call?” an unknown male voice answers.

“Uh, yes. This is Anastasia Grey, for Carmen Gallagher.”

“Yes, Mrs. Grey. My name is Hunter Leary, I’m Ms. Gallagher’s assistant. She’s just getting off another call. She’ll join momentarily.”

“Oh, great.” I reach out and mute the audio on my phone, and then start flipping through what I’ve prepared for this meeting. I don’t have much beyond numbers for similar novels published within the last five years, thanks to Scott after he killed my focus group, so I know that this is going to come down to me. How convincing I can be, and how much she really trusts me to do the job she hired me to do.

The phone beeps.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” Carmen says. “Anastasia are you on the line?”

“Yes, Ms. Gallagher.”

“Great. Scott, what about you?”

“Yeah, I’m here.”

My back stiffens and an acrid tastes creeps into my mouth. Shit, I hadn’t considered that Scott would be included in this call.

“Well, let’s jump into it then. What’s going on?”

“Uh…” I stutter, feeling like I’ve lost my bearings. “I, um, wanted to speak to you about the summer release we’re gearing up for.”

“What about it?”

I open my mouth to answer, but before I can get any words out, Scott cuts me off. “Anastasia and I are having a fundamental disagreement over which title we should be moving forward with. She’s found something more suited to her personal tastes and she wants to push it ahead of the release we’ve been waiting on all year.”

“Which is?”

Scott answers again. “Walter Daves’ new book. It’s a psychological thriller, mystery. Great stuff. He’s Seattle’s current best seller.”

“So, what’s the problem? It seems to me if our best selling author sent us a manuscript, we publish it.”

“Exactly my point.”

“With all due respect,” I interject. “I’ve read the manuscript and I don’t think it’s ready for publication.”

“Nothing is ready for publication at this stage,” Scott argues. “It’s why we have editors.”

“Right. But there’s a vast difference in quality of raw material here. I’ve got a manuscript for a new, local author and it’s practically ready to hit the shelves. The story is better, the writing is better, and I really believe it’s going to appeal towards a much wider demographic. It’s the better option.”

“You’re just glazing over a key word here, Anastasia,” Scott says, the irritation in his voice more noticeable now.  “New author. She has no established fan base, no name recognition, nothing. No one is going to buy her book.”

“I didn’t have any of that either, and I’m over a million copies sold.”

“Oh, please. You had name recognition. Your name has been all over every gossip rag and the internet since you started screwing Christian Grey.”

Excuse me?”

“Alright, alright, alright,” Carmen interrupts, and I can tell just by her voice that her patience is wearing thin. “Scott, you’re out of line.”

“I’m sorry, that was crass. But the facts are the facts. She had just as much name recognition as any other socialite, probably more after that whole kidnapping thing that was all over the news. This author she’s trying to push has nothing. Not even on social media. We invest in this title, we may as well close up shop.”

“And I disagree,” I reply through clenched teeth, doing everything in my power to ignore the reminder of what happened last March and how much that actually did play a role in my book deal with HarperCollins. “Daves may give us big pre-order and release day numbers, but that’ll fizzle out quickly once the critics get ahold of it. Hailey Lewis’ novel is a long term investment that is going to ensure the success of this publishing house for years to come.”

Carmen sighs. “Look, I hired the two of you to be my experts, but your advice means next to nothing if you’re contradicting each other. I need you both to work as a team.”

“I agree,” Scott says. “And I’m only sticking to the course we set at the beginning of the fiscal year. Daves is our premier release and deviating from that plan is suicide.”

“And I’m just doing what I was hired to do,” I argue. “I know Daves feels safe, but he’s not. And pushing this title into publication now is going to damage our bottom line and rest of his career.”

“When do we need to make a decision in order to meet our deadlines?” Carmen asks.

Scott snorts. “Last week.”

“Then you have ‘til Wednesday morning. I want you two to find some common ground, pick a title, and move forward. Scott, you’ll let me know before I fly out Wednesday afternoon.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good, then I’ll leave you to it. Hunter, my office in fifteen minutes.”

“Yes, Ms. Gallagher.”

There’s a click, and she’s gone. I let my head fall into my hands. “So what are we going to do, Scott?”

“I’m going to tell her we’re moving forward with Daves.”

“I’m not on board with that. Really, I can feel in my gut that going with Daves is a mistake. I know you don’t believe me, but this is a Seattle release, not New York. You have to trust me to run this branch.”

“And I will, once you’ve proven that you can be trusted. Right now, I see no reason to trust you. Right now, I see you arguing with me, with our staff, and going behind my back to Carmen when you don’t get your way. I’ve been in this business for twelve years, I know what I’m doing. I’m lofting you a softball here, honey. Hit it out of the park and we’ll talk about signing new authors.”

“Okay, don’t call me honey. I have a degree from Harvard, I’ve at least earned my own name.”

He sighs. “Fine, you know what? I’ll make you a deal. Convince me that this new title is all you’re building it up to be in the next twenty-four hours and I’ll tell Carmen we’ve decided on Lewis. Otherwise, we’re going with Daves.”

“Fine,” I reply, because I know it’s the best offer I’m going to get with Carmen’s Wednesday deadline. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“Enjoy the rest of your day, Ana.”

“You too, Scott.” We both say the other’s name with contempt, and hang up the phone without real salutation. I slump back in my chair, feeling the enormous weight of the task in front of me. It’s clear to me why Hailey’s novel is the better choice, I just need to find a way to make Scott see reason. But I’m not going to have any breakthroughs on that front sitting here stewing over it. I need to clear my head.

I get up from the table and leave the conference room, making sure I don’t look as though I’m avoiding eye contact with any of the probing gazes that look up to me. It’s bad enough having to fight Scott to be able to do my job. I don’t need my subordinates to see me crack under pressure.

“Abby, I’m going to take a walk,” I say, approaching reception. She looks up at me and smiles.

“Will I need to push your 01:30?”

“No, I’ll be back soon. Just forward any calls to voicemail, unless it’s family. I want to know once Kate gets home from the hospital.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Woods?” My CPO looks up, then gets out of his seat and follows me through the door. I feel full of anxious energy as we make our way down the elevator, but there’s something about being in the open air that always gives me clarity. It’s one of the reasons I still crave my morning run.

“Where to, Mrs. Grey?” Woods asks.

“Just a few blocks. Hang back, okay? I need some space to think.”

“No problem. Just stay in my line of sight. Mr. Grey’s orders.”

I give him a tight smile and nod, then start my way up the sidewalk. My mind races through dozens of possibilities of what I can do, each less likely to be successful than the last. But every time I dismiss an idea, I see Hailey’s face. I hear her voice and how excited she was when I told her she was going to be published. This isn’t just about money, or about my career, this is about a promise I made to a young, talented author. She deserves to be published. She deserves all of the accolades this novel is going to bring to her, and I want to help her get there. It’s the reason I got back into the business, and if I fail her now, I fail myself. I fail everyone. I fail my family for all the hours I’ve spent away from home, I fail the readers who will never get a chance to experience this story, and I fail the next generation of writers that Hailey could inspire. The way I inspired her.

I stop walking and lean against the front façade of a Starbucks. The stone is cold and wet on my exposed arms, but I push past the discomfort and let the worry and stress fall out of my mind.

Think, Anastasia. Think.

But my thoughts are disrupted by a loud boom and the ground shaking beneath my feet. My eyes snap open and I look wildly around, unsure of which direction the sound came from, until I begin to hear screams of horror. I turn and look at the source of the noise, and my gaze slowly creeps up the side of the tall glass building I recognize in an instant.

“No!”

“Mrs. Grey!” Woods calls after me, but I’ve already taken off. The heels I wore this morning to make me feel more confident going into my meeting with Carmen slow me down, so I kick them off and leave them on the sidewalk behind me.

A crowd has formed around the corner from GEH, making it difficult for me to shove my way through. Several people stand there staring, their hands covering their mouths, their faces pale as freshly poured milk. I force my way to the front just as the police cruisers make it onto the scene, and my heart thuds in my chest. The sidewalks around the building are covered in shards and pebbles of glass from the broken windows all around the first floor. Men and women in expensive looking suits pour out of the building, their clothes singed and darkened with dust.

“What happened?” a voice asks behind me.

“I don’t know,” someone else replies. “There was some kind of explosion at the GEH building…”

“Oh my god, it’s terrorists!”

I gasp and push forward again, paying little mind to the glass covered pavement even though I’m barefoot. I’m careful to inspect the faces of each person I see come out of the building, looking for one I recognize, but before I get too close, a hand closes around my arm and pulls me back.

“Miss, I’m going to need you to stay back. It isn’t safe.” It’s a police officer, and instantly, my guard is up. I yank my arm out of his hold.

“My name is Anastasia Grey, this is my husband’s building.”

“That’s nice, lady. But I’m still going to need you to get back.”

“Well, do you know what happened?

“All we know is that there was an explosion on the basement level. Now, step back, ma’am.”

Basement level? That’s what? The parking garage and… the R&D lab. I feel a pain in my chest as I think about Welch and Barney, who I’ve worked closely with several times, but in the same thought, I feel relief. Calliope is on the 7th floor, far away from R&D, and Christian is way up on 30.

“Are you evacuating the whole building?” I ask the officer. He glares down at me.

“Yes, Now, get back!”

“Mrs. Grey.” I turn and see Woods behind me, my shoes in hand. He guides me back to the front of the crowd and I slip my heels back on as I continue watching the people being led out of the building by men in uniform.

The process is slow, and the people come in waves. I know once they get to the 4th floor, because that’s where Grey Publishing is located and I recognize Elizabeth when she emerges from the building. No one in that department looks injured or even scorched the way the initial wave did, so I breathe a little easier. There’s still three floors left to evacuate before they’ll get to Calliope and if the people on four are safe, she should be too.

“Have you seen anyone from R&D?” I ask Woods when the 5th floor wave begins to emerge. He glances through the crowd of people and shakes his head.

“No, ma’am. But if there was an explosion, it might take more to get to them. It could have compromised the integrity of the building and they’re not going to want to shift anything until they’ve evacuated everyone they can.”

I’m hit with another wave of fear. “You think the building could collapse?”

“I don’t know, ma’am. I just know they’re going to want to get everyone out before they even survey the damage.”

“Jesus Christ.” Where’s Elliot when you need him?

Several more emergency vehicles pull into the blocked off road between us and the building all at once. More police cruisers, fire trucks, and at least a dozen ambulances. The sight of them makes the knot of dread in my stomach pull tighter. An ambulance means someone has been injured. A fleet of them means that a lot of people were. The one day I didn’t take Calliope to daycare. The one fucking day…  I focus my eyes on the doors, waiting in agony for a face I know.

“Mrs. Grey,” Woods says, urgently. “There’s Mackenzie.”

I turn to the side door, and see a line of people and children coming towards us. Kensie has Calliope in her arms, trying to soothe her as she wails at the top of her lungs, and I feel my heart thud to a stop in my chest.

“Calliope!” The officer holding the line at the front of the crowd has to once again hold me back to keep me from running to her, but the nanny hears my cry and makes a beeline towards us.

“She’s fine,” Kensie says the moment she’s in earshot. “Just scared. It was really loud.”

“Oh, baby…” I take her into my arms and look her over, despite Kensie’s reassurances. My hands brush over every inch of her skin, looking for cuts or bruises, but there’s nothing. She’s perfect. “Shhh, Calliope. It’s okay. I’ve got you.”

“Mama. Mamamama…”

“Shhh.” I hug her tightly against me, rocking her back and forth as my eyes turn back to the doors. Now that I know my child is safe, every thought I have shifts to Christian and the twenty three floors that have to be evacuated before emergency crews make it to the executive suite. Normally, I’d think they would try to get the high ranking executives out first, but I also know, if he’s able to, Christian would have issued instructions for emergency crews to get to his employees first. Like a good captain, he’ll be the last to disembark his sinking ship, and that’s what has me so terrified. I glance at the broken windows again, and the solid steel that surrounds them, looking for any sign of weakness.

Please. Please be okay…

It takes over an hour, and the wait is torture. I try calling his cell ten different times, but each time it goes straight to voicemail and that sends a fresh wave of panic through me. Woods tries to reassure me by reminding me that he may have left his phone behind in his haste to get out of the office, or that he’s on the phone with emergency services so he can’t pick up.

None of that makes me feel better.

Finally, I see Ros’ fiery red hair emerge from the building. She turns and waves the rest of the staff through the doors: her assistant, then Andrea, Olivia, a few interns whose faces I recognize but whose names I never learned, and… that’s it. Christian isn’t with them.

“Ros!” I scream. She turns to look at me, her eyes glassy with impending tears, and moves toward me.

“Ana.”

“Where is he? Why isn’t he with you?”

“He wasn’t in his office. He was in a meeting.”

“Oh, thank god. Where?”

She swallows. “He was in the R&D lab.”

 

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60 thoughts on “Chapter 14

  1. Can we just have a time machine to fast forward to next Monday already??? I’ll give up the weekend and all! Great chapter!!!

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  2. Ok so Scott is an asshole and I feel that he and Carmen are using ana’s Noriety to gain some attention for their failing company. If I was Ana I would quit take her new manuscript with her and start her own publishing company. Show these assholes she doesn’t need the Christian Grey name to succeed. She graduated top of her class from Harvard she knows what she’s doing. As for the explosion I’m not worried. I’m sure that was an experiment gone wrong and they are safe. But none the less a bit scary. Damn good chapter today.

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    1. Ana’s Non-Compete Agreement means that she can’t just leave and start her own company—that would be in direct violation of the agreement. And although Ana received Hailey’s manuscript when she was unemployed, she took the book to Carmen’s company to be published. (AND she has already told Hailey that she would be published prior to finding that she was blocked by Scott.)

      Even though Carmen’s company has seemingly rejected Hailey’s book, Ana can’t now pass it along to GP since if Hailey’s book succeeds, then Carmen would sue Ana for corporate sabtotage/industrial espionage, etc. since Ana would have given the book to a competitor.

      So Ana needs to find a way to work WITHIN her job OR quit and let the lawyers sue to try to get her out of the contract and non-compete agreement, which could take years. AND would expose that the lawyer she had hired to review the thing was Astor Harrington, which will NOT go well with Christian.

      Ana is brilliant enough and CARES about what she publishes enough that I can’t help but expect her to find someway to win everyone over in the end. Tara can’t have given us a strong female character only to have her crumble in the end. So I have FAITH that Ana will succeed in the end! Like you said, she DOES have a Harvard degree along with the high average to show for her hard work. AND Ana EARNED the respect at GP even DESPITE the scandal going on at the time AND there being another intern who was about as bad as Scott. YES, Ana has had some setbacks due to psychological extreme trauma. But she never fails to come through for others, and I feel she will fight for Hailey’s book, because she KNOWS this is the right way to go.

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  3. It is a fantastic chapter. Started with happy news. Congratulations to Kate and Elliot and their little bundle of love and joy. Callie is possessive of her daddy! She gives such a cute name to Kennedy. Poor Ana. Feels she’s been played by Scott. Carmen leaves it to them to sort out their disagreement, she doesn’t care. Please say Christian is not injured or hurt. Can’t wait to next week to find out. Torture to wait. Xoxo daytona

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  4. Wow. What a great chapter!! I got really emotional at the end. Hopefully he is ok. The drama Ana is going thru at her job is so relevant and it is so funny how she avoid Grey Publishing because she didn’t want to be seen as just the boss’ wife and now she is being seen just as someone cashing in her fame bc she is involved with him…. makes you think she should have just stay with GP and prove herself there… hopefully she realizes that soon

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  5. No, no, no I need more ! I was waiting for the drama and you did not dissapoint. I don’t know how i’m going to make it to next monday.

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  6. The happiness with Kennedy’s birth followed by the frustration dealing with Scott and Carmen, and now explosion at Grey House located where Christian is having a meeting. Christian and Ana continues to endure the wrath of enemies and who could it be this time. Christian has to survive considering his cell phone is still acknowledging calls could mean he is not directly hit and completely disabled and destroyed. Just wishing and of course the story has to continue. Thank you for update and really anticipating for the next.

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    1. You’re assuming that this is the work of Christian’s enemies. This whole thing could actually be Christian’s FAULT, quite frankly. My first thought was that the explosion came from R&D where Christian was pushing the guys to make progress. He was demanding the impossible at an impossible timetable, when hints were already out there that what he wanted could not yet be done. YET Christian demanded more and some sort of “test.” My thoughts are that the test did NOT go well. And more evidence that this is Christian’s “special project” is that Christian was down there when it happened, meaning he had demanded to see a prototype working or something of that nature, and it exploded.

      So now, if it WAS Christian that pushed for a test that wasn’t ready, then there will be potential lawsuits from employees, etc. As well as injuries. Hopefully, no one has died, but if the explosion was severe enough to break out glass, then you KNOW there are problems, since Christian would have had the building reinforced with the type of glass that would NOT break except under DIRE circumstances.

      I had worried about Christian’s “demands” on his employees in earlier chapters in that he was INSISTENT on having something to show for the endless amounts of money and time that he had poured into the project. He kept insisting that Welch and Barney have something to show, and his stubbornness could have potentially caused this. AND if Christian was there as well. . . .

      Since I trust Tara to provide a happily-ever-after in the end, I’m assuming Christian is NOT dead. Although he MAY be injured. HOPEFULLY, Christian will FINALLY see this as a “wake-up” call, if it is indeed Christian’s project that has caused all this damage.

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  7. OH MAY GOSH. You left me without breath.
    I wasn’t expecting this. But I somehow knew you couldn’t leave us without drama, and what a way. I think that that explosion was something about that project.

    Can’t really wait.

    Amazing chapter Tara!

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    1. I think you are right about the reason behind the explosion. We have heard pieces of Christian’s conversations with Welch and Barney and his demands to have progress and something to show for how much of the budget had been put into this one thing.

      AND if it IS Christian’s special project that caused all this, then you KNOW that Carrick is going to be put in the particularly bad place of having to TELL Christian, as mayor, that he CANNOT let such things go on in the heart of an industrial city that could threaten workers and OTHER businesses to boot. So things could actually go from bad to WORSE between Carrick and Christian if Christian still fails to see sense.

      So I’m anxious for the fallout. Quite frankly, I am surprised something like this hadn’t happened earlier, given what Christian was wanting. Still, I had figured that he HAD to have a TESTING SITE outside of the city! Wow. Christian could end up being the reason additional legislation gets brought in to limit what a company can and cannot do in its building in the city!

      AND this also limits Christian’s “argument” about what he can do for the city! After all, he may have just endandered his own employees AND those in surrounding buildings! And the city employees that CARRICK is responsible for now have had to respond to the disaster.

      So this could go EITHER WAY—either Carrick will be so glad Christian isn’t dead AND Christian will finally realize what pushing for the impossible can mean that they each decide to make up and meet half-way. OR this could result in Carrick and the City taking out lawsuits on Christian!

      AND it will be up to the city inspectors, etc. to come in to Christian’s building and determine fault, etc. So I’m guessing that tensions in Grey-ville will only get potentially worse, at least for the time being, ESPECIALLY since Christian would NOT give his father the support needed for Carrick to actually do something about getting the RIGHT people in for the jobs!

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  8. I had to wait for my heart to stop pounding before I could type! Thank goodness I know this is just the first third or so of the book, and there’s time for Christian to heal …. and I do hope Barney and Welch will be okay.

    GREAT chapter and so much happened. Really anxious for next Monday.

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    1. AND that Barney and Welch don’t quit if Christian still can’t see reason! PLUS, due to the damage in the building, the investigations by the company and city, etc., GEH could be in financial trouble as well. The potential fallout to GEH in REPUTATION will be huge as well. LOTS of implications here.

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  9. Holy Crap on a cracker- was that really necessary on a Monday???? I read that, then… I had to go to a meeting about an upcoming mission and my boss kept asking me if I had any questions or comments, that I looked “concerned”. [ Well hell yes, Christian is in a basement parking garage area and a blast has occurred. Yeah, I am “concerned.”] This chapter just wrecked me.

    Have I become “character dependent”????? I am thinking so, cause I kept saying “where’s Sawyer? Ana AND Christian needs Sawyer right now!!!! I don’t know why. Maybe I think he has super human power and can move concrete and twisted rebar to get to Christian. Or Maybe I just know that he will feel that lives depend on him to comeback into the security shadow for the Greys after this. And what about Barney and Welch? I am soooooo not ready for any character deaths. Unless it’s Scott and by all means let the percussion of the blast travel far enough to rip his kahunas off. (insert smile here)

    Oooohhhhhh, that Scott Wallace. I hate him like a tetanus booster shot in the ass. [Trust me , that is a lot.] I hate him so much that right now that I feel he is behind the explosion at GEH. He would do anything to distract Ana and her intuition about this new author and direction for the publishing company. He does not want to be replaced, but, yet he sought out Ana to hire her. What is that old saying….”keep you enemies closer.” Maybe he knows what Ana is capable of. As I type that, I realize I mean that Ana is capable of making choices that will put any publishing company on top in the business world but…..you have already shown us Tara, that Ana is hell bent on protecting her small family any way she can. What is this incident going to do to that resolve??!!

    Callie and Kennedy offered us sweetness and innocence in this chapter, and once again are the rays of sunshine in a darkening horizon. But they can’t help Ana with the fear that she feels enshrouds Escala. I don’t blame her, she is an endearing character because of her weaknesses and emotional wounds. The question is at this point, how does she survive the next few hours, moments, days until Christian is found? I almost feel that there has been a glimpse of the love and devotion Elliot feels for Ana’s role in the family for a specific reason now. At any rate, she needs Elliot now more than ever, on a bulldozer, a crane, or with a hard hat on to inspect the strength of the infrastructure of the GEH building.

    Ya know Tara, Next Monday is a whole WEEK away, and right now that just feels wrong.

    Anxiously awaiting news about my bud, Christian

    AJM

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  10. Are. You. Serious? You gone just leave us with a cliffy like this? To be honest, I expected it 🙂 I KNEW Christian was in the lab……

    UGH, I cannot stand Scott. I knew I wouldn’t like him the minute he started trying to rope in Ana to work for them. He’s a dick. What he said to her was not necessary and totally uncalled for. He’s a bitch for that comment. I cannot wait until he eats crow and has to concede and bow down to Ana.

    Another GREAT chapter ❤

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    1. Yeah, it makes it sound like Scott ONLY pushed for Ana to be hired BECAUSE of her name recognition and not because he actually believed she would make any changes.

      But Scott had a point—Ana seemingly WAS going around him to talk to Carmen. Like others, however, I think Ana was ENTIRELY justified in trying to get clarification about what she is and is not allowed to do. How ELSE was she to get an answer when Scott blocks her EVERY move with a flick of his hand. I mean, what is Ana SUPPOSED to do?

      But I give Scott credit for at least giving JUSTIFICATION for his reasoning, although his actual ACTIONS (including what he said) were causes for a lawsuit. He IS correct that the author he is pushing has floated the company. But ANA is right that the bubble will BURST once a poor submission is released. AND that destroys the little credibility the company has if it has put its whole faith in ONE author.

      BUT I think Ana’s gut is right about the present submissions. And THAT is the difference between Scott and Ana—Ana has actually READ both books. Scott has not.

      Still, I cannot see why Scott and Ana have come to this point. I mean, seriously, can only ONE book be promoted? WHY can’t they move forward with BOTH? I guess it is because they have to commit to a book release date.

      Scott is clearly a guy that is ALL ABOUT NAME RECOGNITION. Yet while he will promote a book he hasn’t even read and put all his hope on it, he will NOT trust Ana’s judgment. Just wow. I can’t see a way out of this for Ana.

      STILL, Ana has HEART. When she pleads her case for someone from the heart, I can’t see how she can lose. But NOW Ana has a big CRISIS in front of her within her own family. Once again, Ana will need to be there for others at a time when she has mega-big problems of her OWN. So seeing how Ana HANDLES it all will show how she is REALLY coping. (AND seeing how CHRISTIAN handles it all will show how HE is really coping.)

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    1. Was out of the office sick yesterday, and I only have internet there, so I JUST now got to read the chapter!

      Quite frankly, I was expecting something like this. We had glimpses of conversations between Christian and his staff, particularly Welch and Barney, where he was pushing for a demonstration or prototype for the project that had taken SO MUCH time and money. THIS explosion may be the result for demanding an impossible timeframe.

      SAWYER once said it best when describing Christian’s affect on his workers to Ana—he stated that Christian expects the impossible, because he can supposedly DO the impossible. And Christian had his faith in himself BADLY shaken by what Andrew Lincoln did to Ana and the effect it had on her (AND him). After all, Christian was HELPLESS, something Christian did NOT deal well with.

      Because ANA’s reactions were so obvious and extreme, Christian’s issues have seemingly flown under the radar. BUT Christian’s reactions are FAR more likely to leave LONGLASTING effects on himself, his company, AND his family. After all, Christian has now sought POWER above all else and ignored all warnings AND let it cost him his dearest family relations to do it. ALL to supposedly keep his family and company safe. Which he has now threatened, it would appear.

      First off, WHERE were the safeties to Christian’s test, if it indeed was a test, of his new “product?” WHY would serious tests be done IN THE HEART OF THE CITY? Christian should have had some testing facility AWAY from his company and the city.

      NOW, Carrick, as mayor, will be REQUIRED to have the city INVESTIGATE Christian AND GEH because of this test that went horribly wrong. After all, Christian most likely had near shatterproof glass, so for an explosion that could cause the amount of damage that obviously happened PLUS employee and structural damage. . . .

      I see MULTIPLE major lawsuits in Christian’s future. AND we already know that he put about everything he could into this project. GEH could potentially face bankruptcy or WORSE, depending on how bad this is. AND whether Christian is at fault. Which if he pushed for the impossible, KNOWING that his company wasn’t even ready for testing, then CHRISTIAN gets the bulk of the damage claims, AND he could be personally liable for the damage, both to the city AND his employees!

      I want to believe it is not as serious as the above, but CHristian WAS pushing his employees for what MANY told him wasn’t possible. AND he was demanding a timetable that we repeatedly heard his R&D division was not ready for. That is ominous. AND because Christian was in R&D at the time, my conclusion was that it WAS some sort of test to do with his “project.”

      CHristian was willing to sacrifice his relationship with his FATHER, who he almost LOST to cancer, just for “tax breaks” for his company. ALL to show his “power” to make demands because he supposedly HELPED the city so much by being there. Well, NOW that argument is potentially out the window, considering the CITY had to come bail out his workers and now investigate what went wrong.

      So Carrick is placed in an even WORSE situation if he doesn’t throw the book at Christian for his recklessness, depending on what the test entailed. And we ALREADY saw in this chapter that Christian and his father aren’t even speaking!

      And Christian had seemingly put EVERYTHING of his company into this one project. Which means that GEH could be in REAL trouble now, ESPECIALLY if Christian keeps stubbornly trying to pursue it. Christian is UNWILLING, at this point, to admit he is wrong about his project and its expectations. He wanted to be remembered for bringing something wonderful to the public, and he is NOW faced wiht a reputation in ruins and a company facing bankruptcy.

      Christian is SMART enough to turn it all around, BUT he has to let go this idea of being able to absolutely contol EVERYTHING. POWER is NOT worth all this! AND his actions have most likely LOST him his power AND his control over his company.

      Right now, it looks BAD for Christian and GEH. And we don’t yet know who all has been injured or WHO the blame will be placed upon once the necessary investigations take place.

      But sadly, I figured CHristian’s actions would lead to something like this. I just didn’t anticipate it being THIS bad. I figured he might blow all his company’s capital and risk bankruptcy. But this is SO MUCH more.

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      1. Another person commented that we love Ana for her “weaknesses,” but I actually strongly feel inclined to DISAGREE with that statement. I, personally, love Ana for her STRENGTHS which are best revealed when OTHERS are hurting.

        Ana has repeatedly been able to FINALLY deal wtih her own issues when she sees the need to be there for OTHERS. She swallowed her own pain and resentment against Christian and took his call because ELliot and his family were falling apart. Ana WORKED through her own issues (with therapy, no less—remember, she actually sought out Flynn after she found out Christian had paid Sawyer to watch her) in order to help Christian be motivated to repair his relationship with his family.

        And for Ana, Christian, HIMSELF, came to realize how much he NEEDED his family. Elena had trained him to want POWER above all else and to begrudge his parents for supposedly not giving him what he wanted to get where he felt he needed to be. Because of ANA, Christian was able to realize WHAT WAS REALLY IMPORTANT.

        Here now, Ana has been SUFFERING so much herself that she has NOT taken Christian to task for what he has now done to his father. It is as if Christian FORGOT all the hard-fought for lessons. But Christian CANNOT take feeling “HELPLESS,” especially when he came so close to losing his wife and child. Christian was unable to save Ana himself—had Ana’s father not intervened, Andrew Lincoln WOULD have done the absolute worst things to Ana and succeeded with his plan. ALL while Christian had tried so hard to put PROTECTIONS into place that failed.

        Ana has seemingly been suffering alone, as has Christian. TOGETHER they are strongest, as Ana has ALWAYS put aside her own issues to help others work on theirs. AND Ana is one of the few people that can actually make progress on HER OWN issues WHILE HELPING others.

        So Ana has usually been at her strongest when backed up against a wall. I see Ana, once again, being the key to putting things back together again, IF she is strong enough to do so. Ana COULD conceivably fall apart from EVERYTHING that is hitting her, both professionally AND personally. And those people that SHE relied upon in the past have their OWN issues. Kate now has a new baby, and Sawyer finally has a potential life of his OWN. But CALLIOPE needs her parents, and Ana has SENSED that these problems were on the horizon. She only hasn’t dealt with them before this BECAUSE so much else was also hitting the family at once.

        But Christian will NOT want to lose Ana, and Ana HAS been the only person in the past to MAKE Christian see sense. And the two of them have fought back from pain and loss before TOGETHER, so I expect them to do it again here. After all, this is when Ana has USUALLY been at her strongest WHEN OTHERS need her. If she CANNOT do it, then Ana WILL finally seek help, I believe, because she will get help for herself oftentimes ONLY Because others need her to be there for them.

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  11. Awesome chapter! Covered quite a range of emotions with Kennedy’s birth and intro to the family, Ana’s frustration with Mr. “doing what I’ve always done to get the results I’ve always gotten” Wallace, and then the nailbiter ending with the explosion. Wow!

    Sounds like whatever energy idea Christian has his team working on is NSFW! Or anywhere else for that matter. Surprised that they’d be messing with something so volatile in the basement of a large building and not a sequestered lab somewhere. Maybe this is his wake-up call that he’s chasing an impossible dream?

    Anyhow, hope CG & the R&D team are okay!

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    1. Let’s HOPE that this is Christian’s wake-up call. He was so confident that what he wanted could be done that he obviously failed to put ANY safeties in place that he SHOULD have done. Like you, I wondered WHY he would do something potentially explosive within the city limits and WITHIN his own building. ESPECIALLY the basement. AND because it happened in the city, CARRICK will undoubtedly be forced to be involved in any investigations. Which I can’t see helping his and Christian’s relationship.

      At this point, I am hoping that no one was killed or seriously injured. AND that the building does not have major structural damage. AND that there isn’t serious property damage to the city that Christian would be liable for. But having an explosion occur WITHIN the city limits? This WILL make the news, and people WILL demand that Christian be held accountable undoubtedly.

      Christian needs to accept his losses and move on. BUT the ONLY time Christian has faced defeat before this was with the Lincolns, and we ALL see how he dealt with that!

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  12. From the moment I got to where it said the explosion was in the R&D lab, I figured Christian was going to have been there.
    Excellent chapter. I can’t wait to see what else you have in store.

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  13. Aaaaa a cliffhanger!!!
    Loved the chapter.
    Now how will she publish the book she’s championing she’ll be so distracted by not knowing where and how Christian is. Can’t wait for more.
    Thank you.

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  14. Man, I don’t know if I can take anymore tragedy. It’s kinda getting to be too much. And why would Ana think it would be ‘normal’ for emergency crews to get high ranking executives out first? Their lives are no more better than anyone else’s. I’m sorry Ana feels that a job ranking is more important than human lives.

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    1. It is NOT that Ana feels that way that “high rank” means safety crews should look for you first. From a practicality standpoint, there IS supposed to be a PLAN for emergencies. So yeah, I would expect for emergency crews to quickly TRY to identify PEOPLE IN CHARGE in order to find out what plan is in place, whether this is a work-related or possibly terrorist action, what the standard evacuation plan is (such as disabled individuals waiting on a particular floor), etc. The more information known to the emergency crews lets them know what treatment will be NEEDED.

      (After all, on 9/11, you didn’t just see fire fighters rushing into the building willy-nilly. There had to be a PLAN for coordinating WHO went to what floors to report back what was needed. And YES, they were having to talk to executives, FBI guys and others that KNEW MORE about what the problems were so that they could try to address it. And based on the chaos of that day, a LOT more is expected of companies in PLANNING for emergencies.)

      It is simply how things often get done. The high-ranking executives are EXPECTED to know 1) who the individual Department heads are, 2) how many people are in each department, and are 3) supposed to have an evacuation plan in place for emergencies. So if you want information for WHO is on what floor, who might be missing, what EXITS are available to employees, etc., you need a high-ranking executive in-the-know to give you that critical information. AND expect them to have a plan in place for clearing their OWN building. After all, that is what the big executives are SUPPOSED to be paid the big bucks to do.

      Since 9/11/01, in most big cities, a LOT more is expected of an executive in planning for potential emergencies. There are supposed to be designated people and places to go. And I would say that a lot of the stories coming out of the twin towers on The Day had top executives doing JUST what you would want from them in clearing out their OWN offices and making sure all employees were accounted for and gotten to safety.

      Fire-fighters and emergency personnel ESPECIALLY need INFORMATION before rushing into a building, where possible. I mean, depending on what CHEMICALS were being used by R&D could determine whether firefighters OR PEOPLE IN HASMAT suits should be going into the building. SO KNOWING what exploded and WHY could mean whether emergency people need additional PROTECTION or not. So don’t fault Ana for assuming that emergency personnel would WANT to get an executive out who could say WHERE the problem was and WHO was most in danger at the time.

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  15. Dude. I’m shook. Is he alright?!??
    As ALWAYS, You’re amazing, and I’ll be strsssed our for a week! Thanks for this chapter! 😳😊

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  16. Oh no! I have been in love with this series since you began writing it and cannot wait to read the next chapter. You are an outstanding writer!

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  17. I love the story, but why would you do this to me and leave me hanging.

    Now I’m expressing my opinion.
    First I hate Scott how dare he say that about Ana. She only got where she is because of screwing Christian. If I was he’s boss he would be fired.

    I don’t agree in how Carmen is handing her business. She needs to fire Scott for the outburst, I wonder would that be consider sexual harassment? (StepUp)

    Second if she hired Ana to get results to improve the company then why isn’t she letting her do her job without having Scott interfer. She needs to tell Scott to step down it’s Ana place now you had you chance and you didn’t succeed.

    Carmen is not leading her group correctly and being in business you need to be. I think she’s a trouble leader, she can’t make decisions correctly since her business is failing.

    Please give Ana some black bone so she can stand up to Carmen and Scott. Ana needs to put both of them in their places and show them the business women that she is.

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    1. Yes, you see from THIS chapter EXACTLY why Carmen is failing. She KNOWS that her company is NOT making the progress it needs to make, yet she places her faith in the worker she knows, RATHER than the worker she HIRED to fix the problem!

      And what Scott said to Ana was legally actionable, quite frankly, and Carmen did little to nothing to help the situation. Scott CLEARLY has a bias and is a chauvinist who only wanted Ana to BLAME for what goes wrong with the company. He pushed for Ana due to NAME RECOGNITION and celebrity rather than to let her do what she needs to do.

      BUT Ana WANTED a challenge. And it doesn’t get much more challenging than this! Ana is ALREADY making SOME strides with at least ONE of the editors who admits that Ana IS right in getting them to focus on their areas of INTEREST. This editor, at least, even acknowledges that it has made her job more ENJOYABLE. AND the plan even seems to be WORKING, in that the book submission championed by the author was something Ana enjoyed herself!

      If ANYONE can be passionate about an author, than it is Ana. I have faith that she WILL come up with a good argument for publishing Hailey, ASSUMING Ana has time to worry about her career now that THIS emergency has happened!

      AND since Scott has made his stand, you want to hope he will take the BLAME when the book turns out to be NOWHERE NEAR ready to be published when the editors actually begin working on it! Scott should NOT be allowed to make the decisions that he does when he HAS NOT EVEN READ the works being championed! Basically, another MAN came to him and demanded he overrule Ana, and of course, Scott did.

      So either Ana will find a way to make her point felt or she will decide to call it a day. BUT she would have to SUE to get out of the Non-Compete Agreement, and Christian would find out THEN who the attorney was that was representing Ana! So I’m HOPING that Ana finds a way to work successfully with THIS job!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. WIth all that happened in this chapter, the “cuteness” and wonder parts of it almost get lost under the shuffle! I LOVED Calliope’s “nickname” for the new baby! I think “Kenny” will stick! (AND just wait until those two see early Southpark episodes!)

    AAANNNDDD we all KNEW Calliope would have some jealousy-related issues, PARTICULARLY in regards to her “daddy.” It will be VERY interesting to see how Christian handles it all moving forwards (assuming he does NOT receive major injuries as a result of the REST of this chapter!).

    And poor baby Callie has had MULTIPLE traumas during her little lifetime. She has had guns go off by her head and now had an explosion go off that clearly scared her. Thankfully, the daycare was floors away from R&D. But if Calliope was reluctant to go to daycare BEFORE, then she will only be upset NOW by having to re-enter the building.

    Calliope is her own little stubborn powerhouse ALREADY and KNOWS how to work on her parents to try to get what she wants. It will be interesting how she faces all the changes coming to her and her family, particularly as we do not YET know the results from this chapter and how it will affect her. Ana ALREADY feels bad for not taking her to daycare on the day of the explosion.

    So potential professional and personal issues abound for Ana and Christian in this chapter. It will be interesting to see how BOTH respond and cope with what all happened and how each will comeback from their respective setbacks. Because BOTH Ana and Christian had potential explosive setbacks in this chapter.

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  19. One additional gem in this chapter that I just have to comment/compliment on……

    Callie knows and uses the word “Mine!” forcefully. Specifically she says daddy is hers. “Mine dada Mine.” (he sure is Callie, he sure is. )
    Lol- Christian could never deny that is his child- she is a chip off the old block.

    (We know he never would deny her.)

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  20. LAST thought for the day:

    You DO realize what position this all puts CARRICK in, don’t you?

    Carrick is a LEGAL expert that was better than about any attorney out there. And previously, he REALLY came through for Christian, even BETTER than Christian’s own highly-paid attorneys.

    Yet NOW, Carrick is the MAYOR of Seattle, responsible for keeping its’ citizens SAFE. And he took the job in the FIRST place in order to try to get NON-CORRUPT people into the police and public office.

    Yet right after Carrick takes office, ALL to help his family after winning his OWN struggle with cancer, was to have his OWN SON demand preferential, seemingly corrupt treatment for his company. NOW, Carrick is going to be tasked with sending in the very people, safety officers and inspectors to determine what went wrong and what, if any, punitive action needs to be taken against CHRISTIAN and GEH.

    And the PUBLIC will be looking for how Carrick handles his son. This is a PUBLIC RELATIONS NIGHTMARE for BOTH Grey men!

    AND Christian won’t have the benefit of having Carrick come to his LEGAL aid this time, either.

    (And, to top it all off, we don’t know, yet, if Christian was injured. I mean, if Christian now needs a kidney, I can’t see Carrick being overly happy to give him one!)

    PLUS, Elliot has always been the go-between until Ana could put things back together again. NOW, however, Ana is being hit from ALL sides. Her own profession is not going well at the moment, when Carmen’s company is supposedly on her shoulders while she is allowed to do little to nothing about it. After all, Ana’s authority is only mere SUGGESTIONS.

    (And, due to my religious upbringing, I cannot call Scott Wallace the names that he deserves. Please insert all colorful language associated with male genitalia and hurl it Scott’s way, and that should about cover it.)

    ELLIOT made the point of saying in this chapter the way it HAS been up until this point—Ana was the REAL backbone behind the family and the glue that previously held it together. When ANA fell apart, CARRICK got involved to TRY to find a way to make Ana feel SAFE in her own city again. ONLY to be blocked IN EVERY WAY by his OWN son, Ana’s husband.

    By Christian treating Carrick the way he did, he basically made Carrick a sitting duck from his first day in office, unable to make necessary changes because the city was now at war with one of it’s richest citizens!

    But Christian is facing his OWN issues and failure to cope, ALL while stating that it is ANA that is failing to cope!

    AND both Ana AND Christian have been doing things behind the back of the other that will NOW probably come out. (I mean, if Astor Harrington calls with some legal advice for what is going on, you KNOW CHristian will hit the roof, assuming he is conscious, when he discovers just WHO is helping his wife navigate the legal waters of her career.)

    AND ANA HAS SEEMINGLY FORGOTTEN that she was supposed to help MIA about that girl following her. We don’t yet know if Ana has even spoken about THAT situation with Sawyer or anyone else!

    ANd Kate has a newborn. That she needs Elliot to be home and helping her to care for. WHile Elliot’s attentions may be needed by other Grey family members falling apart.

    AND I can’t see Calliope doing well with ANY of this, particularly if her daddy IS injured. HOW will Ana possibly do EVERYTHING, if she is needed by MULTIPLE people? ANd with Elliot being Christian’s closest person outside of his immediate household, it makes sense that he, too, might need to be at Escala for the foreseeable future. So Ana needs to get over all her fears and frustrations due to EVERYONE else suddenly needing her fast, it seems.

    So double wow. Tara, do you think you introduced enough potential mayhen in this chapter? AND left us with THAT cliffhanger??????

    (But, as always, Tara manages to completely throw a wrench into the already messed-up cog, totally making the rest of us panick for Christian AND Ana and everyone in between! A beautiful hurricane, ALL in one chapter, with everything ELSE from the other chapters now made into mere storms. When they SHOULD be category 3 problems on any OTHER regular day!

    Tara really IS gifted to get ALL this into one chapter and present ALL these potential problems without even HAVING to go into half of them, as our speculation will take us there easily enough! Brilliant, as always. Teeth-grinding, as well. Feeling lightheaded and panicky for ANYONE with the name of Grey and REALLY needing Monday to come MUCH faster!)

    And ALL poor Ana wanted was a walk to clear her head! I want to HOPE that everything that happened in this chapter will help clarify for some Grey members where the REAL issues are. CHristian needs to get back to running his company (IF he has one left) rather than expecting earth-shattering breakthroughs in a couple of months that have thrown the scientific community for this century and the previous one!

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  21. OMG Christian was in the R&D lab and that’s where the explosion was! I take it that Ros didn’t know that it of information when she told Ana where Christian was? Please tell us that Welch, Barney and Christian are all right? At least Callie got out of the building unharmed. Poor Ana must be frantic?

    Did Scott offer Ana that job because he thought she would just bend to his will? He certainly wants to stop Ana from making any changes and keep things the way they were? Which doesn’t make sense unless he wants Carmen’s business to fail? I mean why else publish a book that sucks?! Is Ana going to come up with a good plan to get Scott on board?

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    1. I don’t want Scott on board — I want to see him fired for incompetence and sued for sexual harassment. If he talks to Ana and the Seattle receptionist like that, he probably treats the women in the NYC office even worse.

      Like

  22. That was a GREAT line when Elliott told the nurse to wait and then said, “Just be careful with her. It took my wife nine months to make her.” Absolutely great!

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  23. Well I want to comment on christian’s new project because most of you guys are saying he should have given it up. No, I think it was brillent. Yes it pused the boundaries and demanded tge impossible but isn’t that how strides are made? By questioning established laws?
    All in all I hope this project Is a success. I think christian needs it in his life. Not to once again see he Is right but because ana and Christian deserve it. They have seen and experiance so many bad things in their life that they deserve some good things. And come on isn’t christian differant from all other billionaire male characters, well then this is one chance. He shouldn’t just be called a billionaire but rather show us how he got there.
    Also ge wouldn’t be christian if he didn’t challenge the society

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    1. I love that Christian wants to give back to the world. BUT he also has a company to run that has to make that bottom line. Even his OWN employees have told him that what he wants is impossible WITHIN the TIMETABLE that Christian is dictating. Sometimes you have to wait for the technology to come along that will help you make an AFFORDABLE product. After all, if you can make a perfect energy substitute BUT it costs a billion per unit, then you have basically failed since it can’t be mass produced.

      Here, though, Christian has been making questionable choices that could doom his company. Which means a LOT of individuals out of work and unable to pay for their housing, families, etc. AND Christian has done it for POWER, which he, himself, has at times stated.

      What happened with the Lincolns has caused Christian to question his LEGACY. That, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. I’m with you on WANTING Christian to EXPLORE alternative energy sources. BUT he shouldn’t put his WHOLE company at risk to do it. ESPECIALLY if that means industrial accidents can happen.

      AND Christian has literally pushed for corruption in DEMANDING that Carrick give his company tax breaks or threatening to re-incorporate his company elsewhere. And while Christian CAN do this, he is doing this to exert his POWER and political influence in his own misguided way to keep his family SAFE. It is HIS coping mechanism to be able to dominate everyone and show his POWER so that NO ONE will dare attack him again.

      BUT the end result is that it keeps Carrick from making GOOD CHANGES to the police force AND getting a BUDGET for the necessary offices because of his SON’S power struggle. Which only makes Carrick look weak and allows for his political enemies to BLOCK any changes that he tries.

      AND now, Christian has potentially lost his argument as to the BENEFIT to the city that his company is if it is on the point of bankruptcy due to mismanagement (since all the funds are towards a product thta is NOT producing or warranting the expenditure of such capital of the company). PART of Christian’s success is because he has been able to come into companies, properly reorganize them and make them PROFITABLE due to wise decisions and use of capital. THAT has been pushed to the brink with his new insistence on this ONE thing.

      So Christian’s ACTIONS and focus have potentially brought his company to potential ruin AND loss of power. And without money, capital and a company, Christian certainly can’t bring his cherished project to fruition ANYWAY. (Ozymandius anyone? For those of you that don’t know, Ozymandius refers to the poem where a block is found in the desert saying “look upon these mighty works and despair!” only for nothing to be left. No firm foundation, and the “great works” promised have been lost to nature and time. NOthing besides said block remains. In other words, obsession can be your downfall. Or think Napoleon. A guy with some great ideas for government and the people, but his massive ego and desire for power and control over everything led to financial ruin and great loss of life to his obsession.)

      At this point, we don’t know WHAT has happened. For all we know, it COULD be industrial sabotage or any number of things, but I SUSPECT it was Christian demanding for a test that the company was not ready for. It remains to be seen what the real DAMAGE has been in terms of costs, property damage, and human injury. (Meaning, we REALLY need that next chapter to answer all the questions and issues raised by THIS one!)

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  24. Quotes about Ana’s job:
    “Organizations intent on building shared visions continually encourage members to develop their personal visions. If people don’t have their own vision, all they can do is sign up for someone else’s.” -Peter Senge

    “Creating a realistic plan can be complicated and messy, and it takes time. As a leader, it’s important to stay plugged in to the planning process so you can provide the resources and time needed to allow this messiness to be worked out.”
    -Julie Shaw

    A quote for Christian:
    “Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”
    -Dwayne Johnson

    “Privilege is not knowing that you’re hurting others and not listening when they tell you.”
    ― DaShanne Stokes

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  25. No, no, no- please don’t let Christian die. Before my heart almost stopped for the end of this chapter I have to say, Scott is an asshole. God forbid Ana just might know more then him. How dare he bring up her book sold because of who she screwing. Ana did a great job of defending herself and telling him not to call her honey. I would have hoped Carmen would have said more on that topic.

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  26. This chapter brought back horrible memories of the Oklahoma City bombing which I worked. Children were killed in a daycare in the building.
    Crystal
    USA

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