Chapter 15

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She could have slapped me. She could have stormed up to me, pulled her fist as far back as she could reach and punched me hard across the face. It still wouldn’t be as devastating as those six words. Woods reaches out with his arms, holding them around me like he’s afraid I’m going to drop Calliope, or maybe just to take her from me, but I don’t relinquish her. The news of Christian being in imminent danger, that he might be hurt or worse, only makes me cling more tightly to our daughter.

“Ros…”

She shakes her head, then dashes the tears from her eyes with the backs of her hands and turns away from me. The police officer who has spent all afternoon keeping me back is standing a few feet away from us, facing the building and listening to the words coming through the speaker attached to his shoulder. She grabs his arm to get his attention.

“I need to know about the lab.”

“Ma’am, step back please.” He takes hold of her forearms, the same as he did to me, and tries to steer her back towards the crowd. She shakes him off, refusing to be dismissed.  

“This is my company and I need to know what’s happening to my people down there.”

“I’m sure you’re worried, but I don’t have any information for you at this time. If you could just step back and…”

“Christian Grey is trapped in that lab!”  She screams the words at him and waves her arm in the direction of the still smoking building. Behind me, the whispers of speculation and prayers from the crowd of onlookers that have been like a constant buzzing background noise for the last few hours goes silent. There is a reporter standing only twenty feet away from us and she stops in the middle of whatever she’s saying into the camera to gape back at us. Everything seems to stop. One second in time that’s suspended outside of reality, and then it all comes crashing down.

The police officer grabs the radio and reiterates what Ros just told him into it, which comes across more as confirmation than new information. Someone behind me shouts that Christian is dead and the sentiment is carried through the crowd like the swell of a wave, repeated over and over again.

“For god’s sake!” Ros shouts, her words like venom as she turns to face them. “His child is right here!”

“Ros!” My eyes flash in warning, then I turn to Woods in a panic. My hands shake as I reach out for him and simultaneously lower Calliope’s face to my shoulder. “Your jacket, now! Give me your jacket.”

He shrugs out of the dark gray suit jacket and hands it over to me. I manage to throw it over Calliope just before the reporter is able navigate her way across the glass covered sidewalk with her camera crew and shoves her microphone in my face.

“Mrs. Grey, KIRO 7 news. Can you confirm that your husband is trapped inside the laboratory where the explosion took place?”

“I, uh…” Calliope starts to cry again, incensed as she fights against my hold to get out from under the jacket. The reporter’s eyes flash down to her shape in my arms with a desperate kind of hunger. She covers the microphone with her hand and leans into her film crew.

“Keep the camera on the baby.”

Shit. I turn my back on her and look at our nanny, hoping my eyes convey how desperately I need to her listen and not ask questions. “Kensie, take Calliope. Go back to the house and pretend like everything is normal. Mommy and Daddy are just working late. We’ll meet you there as soon as we can.”

“Yes, Mrs. Grey.”

I move between Kensie and the camera, using my body to block as much of Calliope as I can while I shift her into the nanny’s arms just in case the jacket slips. “Keep her covered.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Kensie reaches down for my hand and squeezes my fingers. It’s a simple gesture of support, caring, but it feels too much like a condolence. I yank my hand out of her hold like she’s burned me.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Grey.”

“It’s fine, just go.”

She nods, then wraps Calliope tighter in her arms as she turns to leave. The crowd behind her is tight, rowdy with the arrival of those with family members who work in the building, and my heart clenches while I watch her try to push through them. I nearly call her back when I see her and my still crying child being jostled by people trying to get the officer at the line’s attention by screaming their questions over the constant noise of the crowd.  

“Woods, go with Calliope,” I say, not taking my eyes off Kensie’s ponytail, the only part of her I can track through the sea of people. “Don’t let anyone near her and keep reporters away from the gates once you get home. I don’t want her to be scared.”

“Mrs. Grey…” He leans in real close to keep the microphones still held in my direction from picking up what he’s saying. “My orders come for your husband and I’ve been instructed never to leave your side.”

“Then he can yell at me for sending you away after they pull him out of that lab!” I should care that there are cameras on me. I should care that everyone within earshot is hanging on my every word, hoping for some kind of new information I might have simply because of who I am to the company’s CEO. But I don’t. The only thing I care about is what is happening to my husband right now and that Calliope isn’t exposed and put in danger of being targeted because we weren’t careful enough with her in a crowd of strangers. Still, he doesn’t move to follow after Kensie.

“Mrs. Grey, perhaps you should come back to the house with—“

“No! No, I’m not going anywhere.” I lean in too, meeting him the rest of the way, and wrap my arms around his neck in a hug so that I can press my lips right up to his ear. “Please, Evan. The only thing that is going to keep me together right now is knowing that Calliope is at home safe. I need you to make sure that happens. I need you to make sure that she’s not scared. Please.”

He hesitates, but eventually nods. I mouth the words ‘thank you’ to him, and he turns me back to face Ros, Andrea, and Olivia.

“Those three,” he says, pointing at each of them in turn with his index finger. “You never leave their side. Do you understand me? Not for anything.”

The look on Ros’s face as she stares at the building tells me that she’s not going anywhere anytime soon, so it’s an easy promise for me to make.

“I won’t leave until he’s out.”

“Alright. Then… keep your cell on you, and take this.” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a slender black cylinder. I recognize it instantly, because Luke made me carry a similar one last year after we found out Leila was following me. Pepper spray.

“Stay safe, Ana.” It’s the first time he’s used my name instead of Mrs. Grey, and I once again have to bite my lip to keep it from trembling. I give him a nod, because it’s all I can manage, and he turns and snakes through the crowd, following Kensie and Calliope to the car. It’s one weight of a million lifted off my shoulders and I get just one second to breathe freely. But sending my bodyguard away has immediate consequences and it comes in the form of hands that grab me from behind.

“Mrs. Grey, do you have any information to give the public regarding Christian Grey’s condition?”

The reporter. Without Woods hovering inches behind me, she’s immediately more aggressive. I try to take a step back, but she takes one with me, her microphone held so closely to my lips I’m sure she’s picking up the sounds of my breathing. It’s suffocating and more than a little intimidating, but thankfully the sound of clacking heels and repeated no, no, no’s bring Jaqueline to my rescue.

“That’ll be enough, Susan,” she says, getting in between me and the reporter with her arms held out in front of her like a protective barrier. “Mrs. Grey will not be answering any questions at this time.”

The reporter leans back on her heels and raises a skeptical eyebrow at her, but Jaqueline holds her ground. With a shake of her head, Miss Kiro 7 News steps back and motions for her camera crew to follow her back to their previous recording spot. They stop though, when an important looking town car pulls up on the street just behind us and Carrick steps out.

“Mayor Grey!” She picks up the cord to her microphone and makes towards the street, but the crowd keeps her from ambushing him. The frustration of being denied access to yet another important interview is clear on her face as she holds out her microphone and attempts to shout questions over the noise of people, street traffic, and emergency crews, but by the time Carrick makes it to me his security team has escorted her away.

“Ana,” Carrick breathes in relief, immediately pulling me into a tight embrace. “Thank god, you’re not hurt.”

I shake my head against the lapels of his jacket, holding back tears. “I wasn’t here. I was walking and I heard the explosion…” There’s more I want to say, but my throat is growing tighter with each and every word.

“Where’s Calliope?”

“Home,” I reply lamely. “With Kensie and Woods.”

“And Christian? Is he…?”

I can’t hold it back anymore. I let out a choking sob into his chest and start to shake. “I don’t know, I don’t know. All they’ve told me is there was an explosion in the R&D lab and he was inside. I don’t even know if they’re trying to get him out…”

“Let me see what I can find out.” He kisses the crown of my head and then releases me, moving with purpose towards the same officer who has rebuked both Ros and I all day. I turn and glance back at Christian’s partner and best friend. She has one arm folded so tightly across the front of her designer jacket that I’m not sure how she’s breathing, and three fingers from her other hand are pressed to her lips.

“They’re going to get him out,” I tell her, wrapping an arm around her back and laying my head on her shoulder. “They have to get him out.”

“Unlimited energy,” she replies. Her eyes are glassy with worry again and I’m not entirely sure the words she says aloud are directed at me. “This is what happens when you try to fuck around with the laws of physics. God damn it, I told him…” Her lips press tightly together and she takes a deep breath through her nose. “I swear to god, if he makes it out of there alive, I’m going to kill him.”

With all the uncertainty still hanging in the air, her words would be a cruel if I couldn’t see how much it hurts her to say them. She’s terrified, not just for her building or for her company, but for her best friend. So I squeeze her tighter, and let myself fall apart on her pretty jacket.

“I know. Me too.”

“Oh, Ana…” She turns and takes me into her arms, holding me up as I devolve into a sobbing mess. There’s too much here that’s too familiar. My eyes screw tightly shut to fight against the tears rolling down my cheeks, but blocking out everything going on around me only allows new visions to fill my head. Memories of Christian in a hospital bed, battered and unresponsive. The pain on his face during physical therapy that helped him regain his strength after surgery. The sound of the gunshot that gave him the wound that made physical therapy necessary in the first place.

“Oh god, what is it?”

I look up from Ros’ shoulder and see Elliot standing a few yards away. His eyes are wide and terrified. His hair is windblown. His cheeks are pink. Did he run here from Escala?

“What’s happened?” he asks again, moving closer to me. “Christian isn’t…?”

I shake my head, or maybe I’m just shaking so hard it does it all on its own. “I don’t know.”

“Jesus.” He takes me from Ros and tucks me inside his strong arms, then looks over the heads of the police officers and paramedics roaming around the empty space in front of us like they’re going to have all the answers. “Dad? Dad!”

One arm leaves my shoulder as Elliot reaches up to wave his father over to us, and while Carrick approaches, he turns me so that I’m facing him too. It’s not just Carrick walking towards us. He’s flanked on either side by a police officer and a fireman, both of whom wear important looking badges that I assume mean they’re in command.

“Well?” Elliot demands.

“The fire from explosion caused a collapse at the entryway. The parking garage above them caved in and now they’re trapped behind a wall of rubble and rebar. We can’t shift anything until we know it won’t cause a further collapse.”

Elliot looks at the fire chief. “I can help with that. I’m an engineer and I built this building. I know everything about it, brick by brick.”

“Good, get to the lobby,” the fire chief says. “My men will tell you where to go from there.”

Elliot nods and runs forward, but no one has asked or answered the only question I care about. “What about the people inside? Is anyone… hurt?” It’s the most I can stand to ask.

The police chief frowns. “We’re not sure, Mrs. Grey. The power system has failed inside the lab and all of our efforts to get some form of communication inside have failed.”

“What do you mean failed?”

“Oh my god.” Ros hand drops from her mouth to her chest. “He was worried about hacking… The lab was encased in lead so outside signals couldn’t get through to the systems inside.”

Because he had been hacked before. Because Andrew Lincoln had used the GEH servers against him before.

Ros takes a breath, and regains all of the composure she’s let slip since she was pulled out of the building. “So, we don’t even know if they’re alive in there?”

“No, ma’am. But we are doing everything in our power to get to them and get them out safely, I promise you that.”

“Oh, god!” I double over and begin sobbing into my hands again. Carrick is at my side in the next instant, pulling me back into him and nodding towards the officers.

“Then get to it, Captain. Keep me updated of any progress.”

“Yes, sir,” the officer responds, and both he and the fire chief turn and hurry away from us.

Carrick attempts to comfort me, but there’s no way I could find comfort in the hours that follow. I had thought, foolishly, that Elliot’s involvement in the rescue would move things along. That he would be so desperate to save his brother that he’d throw caution to the wind and dive head first into the debris that had him enclosed inside the lab. But he doesn’t. He spends hours evaluating the structural integrity of the support beams surrounding the caved in opening, ensuring that moving any of the concrete won’t cause further collapse. The logical part of me understands why this is a necessity. But my heart seems to tear further apart with every passing minute that Christian doesn’t emerge from the GEH building.

As the sun sinks low in the sky, and the shadows from the other skyscrapers around us grow longer over the sidewalk where we stand, the crowd noise begins to die down. Dusk sets in and the only sound left is staccato thud of helicopter blades over head and the shouts of the emergency crews below. I can’t feel anything. Not the pangs of hunger or the dry ache of thirst. My phone has been buzzing non-stop in my bag, but I ignore it. When candles start being passed around, like defeat has been accepted and we’re now collectively mourning the loss of the eight people now confirmed to have been in the lab at the time of the explosion, I hear a voice echo inside my head that I haven’t heard outside of my nightmares since that fateful night last July.

Looks like I still got him in the end.

“No!” I scream, pulling each of my hands out of Carrick’s and Ros’ hold. They look at me like they think I’ve lost it, and maybe I have. I shake my head, trying to dispel the echo of Andrew Lincoln’s voice, and back away from my loved ones. “I can’t stand here anymore. I can’t stay here and wait, doing nothing!” The police charged with crowd control have thinned out over the last few hours, giving me an opportunity to slip through and make it to the building if I run. I take it.

Carrick shouts my name to get me to come back and the few officers that are too far away to actually do anything issue warnings, but that’s not what stops me. A pair of strong hands latches onto my arm from behind and yanks me back. I look over my shoulder and nearly break down again when I see who has ahold of me.

“Ma’am, get back!” An officer yells at me, his hand on the gun at his hip as he runs towards us, but Luke holds out his hand to try and diffuse the situation.

“I’ve got her, Officer,” he says. “Her husband is inside, you have to understand.”

“Yeah, well.” He takes his hand off his gun, and motions with his head towards the crowd. “Just get back in line.”

“Yes, sir.” Luke nods, then tightens his fingers around my arm as he leads me back to the same place I stood next to Carrick and Ros, except now Jade is there too, waiting with a jacket and a pair of sneakers in her hand.

“I saw you on TV,” she says, holding the shoes out for me. “I thought you could use these.”

“Thank you,” I whisper, unable to fully express my gratitude under the weight of my grief. She smiles anyway, and helps hold me up as I switch out my shoes.

“I’ll take those, Mrs. Grey,” Andrea says, reaching out for my heels. I hand them over but look down at them in disgust. They’re a part of today. They’re a part of this nightmare.

“I never want to see those again,” I tell her. She nods, then my attention is drawn away by the jacket Luke drapes over my shoulders.

Finally, long after dark has fallen and the clock has ticked past midnight, the metallic whir of saws echoing through the air stops. My breath catches in my throat and my eyes move away from the front doors for the first time in hours, searching for paramedics preparing to enter the building to care for the wounded after they’ve been extracted. There’s nothing though. Only a heavy silence that permeates everything around me.

My heart thuds in my ears. I shiver, but not because I’m cold. My future, my entire reason for living, is hanging in the balance, and I know in the deepest parts of me that this is it. I’m about to get the answers I’ve been waiting for all day. But when five minutes turn to twenty, then thirty… I’m not certain I’m ready for them anymore.

Please be okay.

Please be okay.

Please be okay.

“Look!” someone behind me yells. My eyes, closed in silent prayer, snap open and turn back to the doors. The emergency crews are wheeling a gurney out of the building and the sight of it floods my entire body with fear until I see the group of men ambling out behind it. Barney, Welch, three men in ash darkened lab coats, Taylor, and then…

“Christian!” I sprint forward and for the first time, no one stops me. He turns in the direction I call out his name, then abandons the medical professionals there to examine him and his team, and rushes towards me. We meet at the top of the steps, halfway between the building and the sidewalk, and I leap into his open arms. Dust and ash from his clothes surround us in a choking, murky cloud when my body makes impact with his, but I don’t notice. I’m single minded as my lips come crashing into his.

“Christian!” I sob into his mouth. “Oh, thank God! Thank God! I was so scared I was going to lose you.”  

“Never. I’m right here, baby.”

A days worth of anxiety and grief begin pouring out of me, and I can’t hold it back. His arms snake around me, holding me against him as though he’ll never let me go again, and he whispers a long myriad of promises and reassurances into my hair. I take a deep breath, and manage to calm myself enough to pull away from him, then glance up into his eyes.

“Oh my god, you’re bleeding…”

“Oh.” He reaches up and touches his hair line, which is matted with dark, congealed blood. “It’s nothing. I’m fine.”

But he’s not. Now that the initial relief of knowing he’s safe has passed, I can see the damage. He looks as though he’s been torn straight out of war movie. Every part of him is gray with dust, except the lines down the side of his face that are streaked with the color of flesh from sweat dripping down his brow. His fine clothes are branded with large swaths of black from the heat and flames of the explosion. His normal musk is gone, replaced by something acrid that has a distinct chemical quality to it. His beautiful face is painted with exhaustion.

“Christian Trevelyan-Grey!” Ros storms up into the space between us and shoves him roughly enough that he stumbles backward a few paces. He quickly regains his equilibrium, and looks at her in confusion.

“Ros?”

“Are you out of your goddamn mind?”

“It was an acc-” His words cut off as she shoves him again, though he doesn’t lose his balance the way he did before. They stand a few yards apart, staring each other down until Ros finally breaks with a chest heaving gasp and throws her arms around him. “I am going to yell at you so hard tomorrow.”

“I know,” he breathes back. “I know.”

She lowers her face into his dust covered shirt, takes a deep breath, and then moves aside for Carrick. Both men seem to stiffen as they stand before one another, waiting for the other to speak first. Apparently, not even tragedy is enough to break through this cold war they’re currently fighting.

“Are you hurt?” Carrick asks at last. Christian shakes his head.

“No, I’m fine. It was close but… I’m fine.”

“Good.” The Adam’s apple in Carrick’s throat bobs as he nods his head, and, after a moment of hesitation, he steps forward and wraps his arms around his son. “Don’t do that to me again, Christian.”

“I won’t. I’m sorry.”

“I know.” Carrick nods, and sniffs hard. “I know.”

They pull apart, but Carrick doesn’t let go of Christian’s shoulder. Instead, he glances behind him, at the building, and his face turns serious.

“Look, I need to warn you. They’re going to–”

“Mr. Grey?” We all turn and see a young police officer approach the stairs from the direction of the building. Carrick’s hand immediately falls from Christian’s shirt.

“Yes?” he answers.

“I’m going to need you to come with me to triage, sir. Have a medical team look you over.”

“I’m fine, thank you.”

“I’m sorry, sir. That’s not an option.”

“It’s always an option. I know what an AMA is, consider this a refusal to be treated.”

“Well, if you’re refusing medical care, then I need you to step over here so we can have talk about the incident. I’m going to need a statement.”

“Oh.” He looks around blankly for a moment, caught unprepared, then nods. But Carrick calls out to stop him as he begins to follow the officer away from us.

“Christian!” He stops and turns back again. Carrick’s jaw tenses as though he’s trying to find a way to work around something he can’t bring himself to say. “Just… don’t say anything without a lawyer present.”

“What’s going on?”

“Sir, if you’ll come with me.” The officer tries to nudge him forward, but Christian doesn’t move.

“Dad?”

“Go, Son,” Carrick says. “Just remember that you don’t have to answer anything without a lawyer.”

I watch Christian’s chest expand with a deep breath before he breaks eye contact with his father and moves to follow the officer across the courtyard.

“Wait, is he being arrested?” I ask.

“No,” Carrick confirms. “Just detained until he can be questioned.”

“Questioned about what? What’s going on?”

That same look of being torn apart by some unsaid words crosses his face, and he shakes his head again. “You should call his lawyer, Ana.”

“Lawyer? You’re his lawyer, Carrick.”

“No, I’m not. Not anymore.” He takes a few steps closer to me, then hooks his fingers around my arm and pulls me aside. “Ana, this isn’t going to go away. He caused an explosion in the middle of the city. Three civilians were injured and I don’t even know what’s happened to the guy they brought out of the lab on a stretcher. The city of Seattle is going to have to open an investigation into what happened here today, and I’m the mayor now. It’s my job to oversee that investigation, so I can’t be apart of it. I can’t help you.”

I blink, feeling like all the air is sucked out of my lungs at once. “What does an investigation mean?”  

He swallows, and shakes his head again. “Call his lawyer, Ana.”

I nod, then move to Ros. Without Carrick, I’m not exactly sure which lawyer I need to get down here and she knows Christian’s corporate legal team better than anyone. She gives me a name, Andrea gets me a number, and thirty minutes later my husband has a team of men in pristine suits behind him refusing to let him answer any questions. It drags the entire interrogation process out, which seems excessive since he hasn’t been charged with anything. Elliot can’t stay to wait for answers because he’s got a new baby at home and Ros opts to go with the man who was injured in the explosion, a lab tech named Sheldon who broke his leg under falling debris. When the first rays of dawn start to color the sky above us, it’s only Luke and I left, and he holds tightly to my hand until Christian finally returns.

“Ready?” he asks, his voice like gravel and his eyes heavy with fatigue.

“Yes,” I reply, then turn to Luke. “Thank you for waiting with me.”

“Of course. Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Christian gives him a tight smile and half a nod, then takes my hand out of his and leads me down to the street. There’s a car waiting for us, though it’s not being driven by anyone I recognize. I can see the clear wire connected to his earpiece though, so I assume it’s someone on Christian’s security team.

“Where to, Mr. Grey?” the driver asks.

“Home, please.” The driver nods and signals to turn into oncoming traffic, and Christian’s head falls against the headrest.

“What happened?” I ask.

“I don’t even know.” He opens his eyes and looks at me, but the cool confidence he normally exudes is gone. “We thought we’d figured it out. Welch built a prototype and I went down there to see it in action, but the cooling mechanisms gave out thirty seconds into his demonstration. There were safety precautions in place and every single one of them failed. Over and over again. We did everything we could to stop it, but it just kept getting hotter and hotter until eventually…”

“It exploded,” I finish for him.

He nods. “Thankfully the blast went up instead of out so we were able to avoid the shockwave. But everything was on fire then, blocking our way out, and the suppression system was damaged in the explosion. It took us over an hour to get it under control and then everything caved in. It was like every time we solved one crisis, something else happened.”

I shiver as I imagine what he’s gone through, then unbuckle my seatbelt and crawl into his lap.

“Ana…”

“No,” I whimper, cutting him off before he can tell me to get back in my own seat. My fingers curl into his shirt and I lay my head down on his shoulder, taking comfort in the steady rise and fall of his chest. It takes him a few seconds to accept that I’m not going to let him move me back onto the leather seat next to him, but once he does his arms wrap around me and he lays his cheek against my hair.

“I’m sorry, Christian.”

“We’re okay. Everyone was okay.” He kisses the top of my head, and we make the rest of the drive home in silence. The sky overhead is orange with the rising sun by the time we pull into the driveway. It’s nearly seven, and we should both be dead with exhaustion. But if Kensie got Calliope down at a decent hour last night, she should be waking at any time.

“I need a shower,” Christian tells me once we step into the kitchen.

I nod. “I’m going to check on the baby. I’ll be up in a minute.”

“Okay.” He leans over and kisses me softly on the lips, then untangles our fingers and pulls away from me. I feel immediately bereft. Not enough of the doubt and dread that plagued me all day yesterday have been washed away for me to feel comfortable having him out of my reach. I need him to hold me. I need to feel his heart beating under my hands and the heat of his skin pressed against mine. I decide I’m going to slip into the shower with him, maybe ask him to make love to me before we finally give in to our heavy eyelids and get some much needed sleep, but first I make my way up to the nursery.

The door to the guest room where Kensie sleeps when she stays overnight is closed, so I assume Calliope is still fast asleep. With as much care as I can manage, I ease open the door and tip toe across the floor, moving as slowly as possible as I glance over the railing of her crib. She’s staring at the mobile over her head, silent but wide awake. That is, until she sees me.

“Mama?”

My shoulders fall as all my plans for this morning fly out the window, but I smile and reach down to scoop her in my arms. She molds her body around mine and after giving her a few good morning kisses, I get her changed and let her help me pick out what she wants to wear for the day before I take her down to the kitchen for breakfast.

I expect things to be different. Our staff surely saw the news coverage of the accident and assumed that they wouldn’t be needed today, so I mentally go through what’s already been prepared for Calliope and debate whether or not I’ll need to make something for Christian or if he’ll want to get straight into bed. But when we get downstairs, it’s like I’ve walked into the movie Groundhog’s Day.

Gail stands in front of the stove, an omelet frying in the pan in front of her. Kensie is sipping a cup of coffee as she lays Calliope’s breakfast down on the tray of her high chair. And Christian stands behind the counter, dressed in a fresh suit, typing furiously on the iPhone in his hand. The scene is too familiar, too much like any other day. Like we haven’t been living through a nightmare for the past 16 hours.

“What are you doing?” I ask Christian as I place Calliope in her highchair. He doesn’t answer me right away, choosing instead to finish his email, or text, or whatever it is he’s doing with his phone.

“I’ve got to get back to the office,” he says, after finally putting down his phone and picking up the mug of coffee Gail has poured for him.

“What? What do you mean you’re going back to the office? Don’t you think you should stay home and take it easy for a few days?”

His phone buzzes on the counter and he picks it up while he answers me. “I can’t. I’ve got to be there to survey the damage, meet with my lawyer, and work with Andrea to find an offsite facility that’s large enough to relocate the fusion project to. Jacqueline is in a panic. This whole ordeal is going to be a PR nightmare and I’m going to need all the public support I can get now that everyone knows what we’re doing.”

My stomach drops. “Wait. You’re… you’re not going to scrap the project?”

“Of course not. We had a breakthrough yesterday.”

“Yeah, right before it exploded.”

“And we’ve learned from it.” He drains the rest of his coffee, slips his phone into his pocket, and moves across the kitchen to give me a kiss goodbye. “You should stay home today. Get some sleep.”

“Me? What about you?”

“I’ll be fine.” His hand brushes my cheek, and he gives me a small smile that I think is meant to be reassuring, but it misses that mark by about a hundred miles. I’m at a loss for words. What could I possibly say to explain why I don’t want him to go back to that building today that isn’t already obvious?

He leans down to kiss the top of Calliope’s head then looks up as the security officer who drove us home this morning enters the kitchen. Christian nods to him, then tells me he loves me again before following him out of the kitchen. And I watch him go, feeling like I’m stranded on an island in the middle of shark infested waters.

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35 thoughts on “Chapter 15

  1. Boy, was that nail bitting for a while. Thank goodness Christian is all right and that no one died in that explosion. How is Barney? Was the project sabotaged or was it just a fluke accident?

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  2. I know when Ana wakes up from this fuzzy type nightmare she’s in Christian T Grey will feel her wrath. He’s going around like nothing has happened. Meanwhile Ana and his family is going thru all these crazy emotions. She can’t get over one trauma while another arises. Christian is walking around like he’s untouchable or invisible but he’s not. I know his family is very important to him so I don’t know what is running thru his head. He needs to see Flynn and pronto!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. AMEN. He is NOT untouchable. I mean, he hardly seems to see any of this as even a PROBLEM, other than a PR nightmare. Which, quite frankly, is the LEAST of his potential problems.

      And Christian’s singular focus keeps him from noticing the problems of those around him, PARTICULARLY Ana. (I mean, for crying out loud, Christian’s own DAUGHTER could have been injured in that explosion had it gone in another direction than it did! If THAT didn’t make Christian see sense, then I can’t imagine what will, at this point.)

      So Christian is potentially walking blindly into the next crisis. And I can only IMAGINE what this is doing to Ana, who has no one to help shore her up when she so desperately needs it.

      I wish SOMEONE would clue Flynn in. I’m wondering when Ros will figure out that Christian NEEDS some sort of intervention!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Double AMEN. Beautiful way of summing up the entire problem in only two sentences! Christian can’t see ANYTHING but his “special project,” and he is NOT realistic about where said project REALLY is. OR what Ana is going through. If I thought ANA’s way of coping was bad, it seems a drop in the bucket as compared to Christian’s.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Another miracle in the life of Christian Grey. Can we say nothing can deter him, he is not weak, and all the upheavals in his life only had made him stronger. He does not give up that easy. Has Ana failed to understand the determination that he has and she would be the last person he would show any weakness to. He has to be strong for her and everyone connected to him. Thank you for the update, Tara.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. loved it

    On Mon, Jul 30, 2018 at 9:51 AM, wishingmrgreywashere wrote:

    > wishingmrgreywashere posted: ” She could have slapped me. She could have > stormed up to me, pulled her fist as far back as she could reach and > punched me hard across the face. It still wouldn’t be as devastating as > those six words. Woods reaches out with his arms, holding them around ” >

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  5. Great chapter. I was on the edge of my seat. All the feelings were truly relayed. Hopefully Ana can take her mind off of everything by be able to convince them to publish her pick. Can’t wait. Thank you.

    Like

  6. Ana is going to have Christian’s ass. I’m so glad he’s ok, but his need for this “Power” caused an explosion. While I know it was an accident, people could have been killed. His employees, his daughter could have been injured or killed if that explosion would have reached the upper floors. This “fear” of his, and him wanting to be the most powerful man in Seattle is causing him to not think straight. This explosion should have jolted him into ditching his efforts. However, we all know our favorite billionaire will not be deterred.

    Another great chapter 🙂 Thank you, Tara ❤

    Like

  7. Great as usual! Thank you for continuing with this story…there are so many who leave us hanging with abrupt stops or very long update waits. Again thank you for the respect.

    Like

  8. Thank God, Christian is safe with slight injuries. The accident only drives him more determined to continue with the project because Christian said they made a breakthrough. Meanwhile, Ana is filled with intense worries, so do Ros and his family. Christian takes the ordeal quite lightly but is so driven to succeed. What a bummer, Carrick cannot represent Christian. There is no break for them, life just gets tougher. Keep them safe, please. Thank you for the fantastic update, Tara. I feel Ana’s agony. Xoxo daytona

    Like

    1. Christian THINKS he has made a breakthrough. Although, how much of a breakthrough could it possibly be when NONE of the safeties worked? And there was an explosion. Which WILL cost the company dearly, since now an additional testing facility needs to be found, the public now knows GEH is working on something potentially hazardous, and a PR nightmare is sure to follow. Maybe even attempts at a corporate takeover, ESPECIALLY if there isn’t much faith in Chrisitan’s leadership right now. AND Christian may face potential lawsuits designed to shut him down, since he CLEARLY doesn’t have the requisite good sense to know when something is a potential money pit AND dangerous/life-threatening to boot!

      And Christian is becoming more and more preoccupied in his special project. And he is NOT talking to Ana about any of it, because he doesn’t want to worry her. Which is EXACTLY what Ana has ALSO been doing behind his back with her investigations, hiring Astor, etc.

      (Speaking of Astor, I’m actually hoping Ana has the wherewithal to consult with him and even Carter, since Carter had originally intended to be a corporate attorney. Even though he wants to move away from just representing an evil corporation, he still has studied in this area, as has Astor. Both of them are AWAY from the situation and are not likely to see things through Christian’s rose-colored glasses. MEaning that both of them could advise Ana of the potential pitfalls facing Christian. Because if ANYONE could get to Christian in the end, it would be Ana. But she would need the intellectual weapons at her disposal to confront Christian.)

      But Christian is off in his own world. Leaving Ana increasingly isolated in hers. This does not bode well for either one. NEITHER ONE is making any REAL progress on their issues. AND either may face a breaking point soon, if nothing stops this cycle.

      And even IF Christian HAD made a breakthrough, that does NOT mean he is really any closer to an actual WORKING product. He could bankrupt himself AND his company before any progress is made. AND if ALL the safeties failed, then it sounds like Christian has REAL issues. AND little to nothing that could be patented or reserved for the company to keep it afloat once the main capital is gone.

      So Christian’s STUBBORNESS may cost him his project AND his company. I wonder where ROS stands in all of this at this point. At some point, SOMEONE has to make CHristian see reason about where this is all potentially leading. He won’t listen to ANYBODY at this point. AND this chapter SHOWED that he didn’t even SEE the problems coming down the pike that Carrick, Ros and others can foresee. So that is NOT good.

      Like

  9. As I said in the comments section last chapter, Carrick will have to be behind a city investigation into the accident due to the explosion occurring in the city. Which would mean that he couldn’t represent Christian since it would be a conflict of interests. AT LEAST Carrick was able to tip Christian off to not answer any questions without a lawyer. And AT LEAST Christian NOW realizes that he has to have a separate testing facility in the middle of nowhere in case another explosion occurs.

    STILL, though, Christian has NOT had ANY kind of wake-up call. At the very least, he should have SEEN what this was doing to Ana. I mean, how much trauma can a person take?

    And Christian was CLEARLY not taking the potential investigation seriously, as he didn’t even realize what Carrick was trying to tip him off about!

    While I see that many are praising Christian’s tenacity, I would point out that mere stubbornness is NOT the attribute of a great man. YES, it is good that Christian does NOT give up easily. HOWEVER, if someone continuously bangs their head against a brick wall, at some point, you have to assume said person is crazy or completely unrealistic, because some impediments CANNOT be overcome. You HAVE to know when to cut your losses. Christian is NOT there yet (obviously).

    While I applaud Christian’s desire for clean, unlimitless energy, if he breaks his own company before any kind of significant REAL breakthrough, then it was all for nothing. Christian HAS to get his priorities straight.

    And NOW, everyone knows what Christian is trying to do. So you NOW have potential corporate espionage/sabotage as well as the focus of the city, the mayor’s office, the public, etc. AND CHristian is ENTIRELY right about this being a PR nightmare. Faith in the company will certainly be lost, and CHRistian’s job will be THAT MUCH HARDER to go in and try to turnaround troubled companies when it appears that GEH itself is a troubled and potentially failing company.

    There is only so much money in the company and even in Christian’s personal fortunes. There will undoubtedly be lawsuits, though AT LEAST no one died. So Christian is fixing to face a world of problems AND a loss of morale and confidence in GEH. And ALL of this is happening while Ana is facing her OWN professional AND personal issues, which Christian has little to NO time to see OR HELP.

    I have to say, Christian’s trauma and issues seem FAR more severe and far-reaching than Ana’s right now. But with no real support (and yes, that is partly due to Ana’s denial and partly due to her not having anyone she can really lean on right now that doesn’t have their OWN problems), I REALLY worry for Ana. Because IF she collapses or has a breakdown, Christian WOULD take on a great deal of the blame for being so preoccupied in his power grab and impossible/improbable costly dreams.

    At least no one died. And it doesn’t sound like anyone is threatening to abandon GEH yet. However, it remains to be seen how Welch and Barney see this as opposed to Christian. (This is where you wish you could have Outtakes going during the story rather than waiting until the end for them. I’d LOVE to hear the inner workings of some of Christian’s people right about now.)

    And at least Carrick and Christian could SPEAK to one another at this time, even though they are at odds. CARRICK, at least, knows what this could all potentially mean for Christian and GEH, and rather than yell at Christian, as he realistically could have done, he CHOSE to give his son support and a tip-off of what he is sure to face in the upcoming weeks.

    (AND Christian has only HIMSELF to blame that potentially enemy/corrupt cops could end up with the investigation since his actics have been responsible for keeping Carrick from putting in people he could TRUST into the upper political positions.)

    AND all this drama means that we STILL don’t know why the girl was following Mia. Or if Sawyer is still investigating anything Seattle-based. AND how Ana will handle her work issues. Because NOW Ana is sleep-deprived and traumatized. And she has little reason to feel better since she can SEE that Christian plans to keep on doing what he is doing, regardless of how the city may feel about it now that it is KNOWN how dangerous Christian’s project REALLY is.

    (AND Carrick can’t look like he is trying to go light on CHristian, since HE would then be accused of corruption and endangering the city in order to protect his son. Wonder if Carrick will still be able to tip Christian off if anything, like criminal charges, is in the works. Because if Christian is found to be NEGLIGENT in any way, he could be liable for a great deal. AND a judge could always issue an INJUNCTION to keep him from proceeding.)

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  10. I once said I love Christian’s drive and i still do. I love his need for greatness especially since I understand his reasoning but and there is a big but I just hoped in this instance he would have taken the time to make sure Ana, Callie… were alright.
    argh…I don’t know what is coming ahead!!!!!! There us no clue. NO CLUE

    Like

  11. Do you guys remember the time when Christian had this hallelujah moment… you know, when he saw Ellen what what she truly is. Well remember the problem it brought. His withdrawal from any for of touch, even from Ana.
    I fear that might happen to Ana. When she finally comes to terms with last year. She might break down…. hard. Because we haven’t seen Ana truly break down. We have seen Christian break several times. Like when Ana left him, the Flynn therapy session… bUT for Ana…. yeah there were some that came close but never all out, they kind of have been glossed over. Like at the beginning of broken shades, we saw Ana get up from her fall sooooo yeah awaiting huge Ana moment here
    Also I think we have been overlooking Christians problems, like come on he literally got shot in the chest. What has been dealing with. Maybe…. maybe…. there is some thing hidden

    Like

  12. Christian~
    “Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”
    ― George R.R. Martin
    “There is no point in using the word ‘impossible’ to describe something that has clearly happened.”
    ― Douglas Adams
    “Now what state do you live in?’
    ‘Denial.”
    ― Bill Watterson
    “How ’bout a shot of truth in that denial cocktail.”
    ― Jennifer Salaiz
    “With a suit, even if you’re having a nervous breakdown, you still look like you’re in charge.”
    Paul Feig

    Anna~
    “Sometimes, breaking down is the bravest thing you can do.”
    ― Vironika Tugaleva
    “I needed some space to lay myself out, so that I could decide which pieces I wanted to pick up.”
    ― Fennel Hudson
    “Instead of heading for a big mental breakdown, I decided to have a small breakdown every Tuesday evening.”
    ― Graham Parke

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  13. Este capitulo me tuvo sufriendo hasta el final.
    Gracias a Dios que Christian y todos estaban bien.
    No puedo creer la reaccion de Christian! Ana asi nunca podra recuperarse.

    Like

    1. THAT is the real problem—to Christian, nothing happened other than a “little” mishap.

      The reality is that Christian’s “special project” involves science that is supposed to be controlled by VERY particular protocols, ESPECIALLY if your testing facility is in the middle of a CITY. Hazardous things involving explosions are NOT supposed to happen in the middle of a tightly-packed city.

      But Christian was oblivious. CARRICK had to tip Christian off when he saw the police officers approaching him. The city of Seattle MUST open an investigation immediately into an explosion happening within its borders to determine if any negligence or hazard to the city exists. Christian should have NEVER tested something potentially explosive without proper approval (licenses, permits, etc.).

      AND there may be damage to other buildings, city property, etc. for which Christian is probably LIABLE for said damages.

      And Christian was fixing to talk to the officers as if NOTHING wrong had been done by his company. As if explosions in corporate buildings happen everyday in the pursuit of progress!

      Christian’s failure to realize just how bad this could have been also creates a potentially toxic work environment for his employees, particularly if they DID see the damage and Christian chose to IGNORE them. So Christian could even face potential lawsuits from his OWN employees, particularly if they want to avoid potential criminal liability for THEMSELVES.

      And if the city finds Christian at FAULT for the accident, any NUMBER of unpleasant things, criminal liability, and/or damages and fines could result.

      But to Christian, there is nothing really the matter that can’t be fixed by simply getting a new testing facility outside of the city. Like Andrew Lincoln, Christian seems almost BLIND to the consequences of his actions OR just thinks that it is “worth it” for the final result.

      Christian’s pursuit of “power” and of having this legacy of finding “unlimitless energy” could literally suck his company dry of money and leave him AND said company and employees bankrupt. YET Christian can’t see ANY of this and is insistent on plowing straight ahead.

      And Carrick CANNOT help Christian now—it is a CONFLICT of interests for Carrick to legally represent CHristian, since the CITY of Seattle (where he is mayor) HAS to conduct an investigation to see if Christian or GEH should be held criminally liable or negligent due to the explosion that occurred in the heart of the city. So CARRICK realized IMMEDIATELY what Christian potentially faced, yet he could do little other than WARN CHristian about what is to follow. It remains to be seen if CHristian will LISTEN to his employees and attorneys.

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  14. How ironic it is that in order to have the power to protect his family, Christian is potentially destroying them in the process? Like it was said, his daughter was in the building and she could have been badly wounded, and Ana suffered from emotional pain way too long (remember they took almost a full day to take them out). I also believe both of them need a serious break down in order to carry on… but I think that Christian won’t see that until he actually understands what Ana is going through when she won’t take it anymore.

    Can’t wait until Ana finally kicks him in the ass for being so fucking careless. He truly deserves it, better soon than later when he could lose everything.

    See you next Monday!
    Andie

    Like

    1. Yes, I’m wondering what it would take for Christian to realize the full extent of the DAMAGE, both personally and professionally, that this is causing. Realistically, nothing short of harm to Calliope or Ana is likely to deter him at this point.

      Christian thinks that because the ENDGAME is positive and a good goal to have, then the MEANS to said ends will be justified. Which was entirely the MINDSET of Andrew Lincoln to begin with. I mean, getting Christian to PAY for his sins and suffer the consequences of all the pain and suffering he had caused was an honorable enough goal. But the WAY Andrew Lincoln went about it and the MEANS he used to get his “goal” showed him to be selfish and evil. Andrew Lincoln didn’t even care about the CARNAGE it took to get to his goal, which was really REVENGE.

      Now, in Christian’s case, his REAL goal is POWER, and he is willing to do ANYTHING to get it. And seemingly SACRIFICE anything to get the fame and power that his “special project” could give him. And he has potentially sacrificed his company, money AND employees in the process and sees NOTHING wrong with what he has done and continues to do.

      So yeah, I was worried about Ana before. But CHRISTIAN appears WAY worse and more likely to cause massive pain and damage in his wake. AND CHRISTIAN IS BLIND, now, to what ANA is going through and how much she suffered in wondering for A WHOLE DAY about whether or not her husband was even ALIVE.

      (After all, ROS brought up the point that NO ONE could communicate with anyone inside BECAUSE Christian was so paranoid about having his servers “hacked” again that he made it IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to get a signal in or out of this particular room. WHICH you can NOW see made the crisis even WORSE as to whether or not there were any people to save, what their condition was, any eminent threats, etc. Which could potentially make CHristian LIABLE for damages and things that incurred as a result. That just SHOWS you how blind Christian can be to the outcome of his paranoia.)

      So to Christian, it is just another day. For ANA, who has now been pushed to the brink in about everyway AND is running on no sleep, there could be a real CRISIS coming soon. And Ana is bereft of her usual SUPPORT SYSTEMS (Kate just had her baby, Elliot is preoccupied with said baby and investigating/helping Christian with his building, Carrick has to run the city, Mia still possibly has that girl following her and THINKS that Ana is taking care of that, etc.). So Ana has no one to catch her if she falls or “pulls a Christian” and does something stupid and megalomaniacal.

      And Ana is probably reluctant to ADD to Christian’s burden right now by telling him what this put her through. And THAT is the real issue and worry. So what will it take for Christian to re-focus his priorities? I’m scared for both Ana AND him about what the ANSWER to that question may be.

      Like

  15. Christian’s indestructible. Thank heaven for that! I was so worried. It was so sweet that Luke showed up for his bff.

    Like

  16. stunning chapters…….leaves you wanting to kill or kiss Christian………and cry for lost Ana………….

    Like

  17. Wow, got me at the edgy of my seat wondering if something bad would happen with christian.
    Great chapter, and really curious if this project is going to work or not.

    Like

  18. What exactly did Christian do — re-invent the A-bomb? Tori referred to “now that everyone will know,” but will they? If other buildings in the area were unharmed and the GEH building is still structurally sound, can’t they downplay it somehow into an electrical explosion or something?

    Christian must be in shock — he didn’t ask about Calliope when he got out of the building.

    Back in chapter 8 Carmen told Ana, “I tried so hard to capitalize on all the bad press you and Grey got that summer over those sexual harassment allegations.” Is she going to try to capitalize on bad press again?

    Waiting to see what that snake Scott did while Ana was out. And will he somehow sabotage or take credit for Hailey’s book?

    Can’t wait for the next chapter!!!!!!!!!

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  19. He is doing it again. When he gets it in his head to do something, nothing or no one gets in his way. When he wanted to start GEH, he sold his soul to a pedophile to get the money, alienating everyone in the process.
    Here we are again he wanted to build this project and nothing anyone says will stop him. His relationship with Carrick is suffering, but does he care? No, his fusion project comes first. I understand if most inventors gave up after one disaster we wouldn’t have most of what we have today, at the same time look up every now and again, take a step back breathe and think for a second before you do the type of damage that you can’t get back from.

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  20. Is anyone ever going to call him out on his bullshit. This need for power wouldn’t be necessary if he hadn’t lied in court for money. That is where all this started from, every negative thing sterms from him protecting Elena for money. Honestly, what has Ana got from a life with him aside from Callie. Everything else is bullshit. Honestly, I am getting sick and tired of him getting away with so much shit he causes. He had the nerve to be mad at Mia when in truth it was his fault to begin with. Four books in he gets forgiven for everything and therefore he doesn’t learn. His attitude hasn’t changed, where is the character arch? He causes so much and has the nerve to walk around with a chip on his shoulder. I have had enough of selfish attitude. Hey asshole, you have a kid now, who was in the building you blew up. Ana needs to stop kowtowing to him and light a fire under his selfish ass.

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  21. I was nearly too nervous to read this. BEGGING again that Christian and Ana stay together and strong through to the end.

    Like

  22. I’m so curious to know what’s been going on and what going to happen when Ana gets back to work,the people are really weird there(and that’s putting in nicely) and im really starting not to trust scott and carmen like there problems with Ana never just seem to be work related it’s always a little dig at her personal life and I don’t know why.i really want to know why she was hired if they’re not really interested in her help or open to her ideas.

    Like

  23. If you were going to wait until Chapter 16 to let us know Christians fate,
    I was going to safe word.

    Please amend my readers contract to clearly state that Christian going missing for a solid week is a hard limit for me.
    Thank you.

    😉
    AJM

    Like

  24. My God, that was tense. I felt for certain someone, maybe even Christian, would be badly hurt. Christian refused medical treatment, but all of the people caught up in the explosion certainly inhaled a whole lot of fusion material. The suspense was beautufully written, Tara. Ana’s love and protectiveness toward Calliope, and Christian, shows a depth to her that is not always apparent.
    Now Christian is going back into the den as though nothing touched him. He is as focused as ever, and will handle each obstacle one at a time. That’s kinds the way to do it. Cool as a cucumber.

    Like

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