Chapter 30

I wake up Monday morning with Christian’s head between my thighs. His tongue caresses my clit with long, velvety strokes that send tingles down my legs. His lips close, he starts to suck, and I see stars. I make a deep, throaty sound that I wouldn’t think could ever be considered sexy, but it drives him wild. He feeds on me like I’m dripping nectar so sweet, it’s not meant for mortal man, and he’s somehow cheated the gods. I reach down and twist my fingers into his hair and push up to encourage his mouth. 

“Just like that, just like that…” A finger breaks through my lower lips, massaging that perfect spot inside of me until I’m panting his name. A second finger joins the first and my legs start to shake. 

“That’s right,” Christian growls against me. “Tremble for me.” 

“I’m about to come for you,” I breathe back. I can feel it coming and I know it’ll hit me hard. Even the foreshock feels like enough to swallow me the way nighttime swallows dusk. My back arches high off the bed and I squirm, trying to pull back from his intensity. His hands lock down on my hips to hold me in place. He adds a third finger and starts fucking me in earnest, keeping pace with his tongue on my clit. 

I half-sob when my orgasm finally overwhelms me. It rips through me so intensely, for a few moments I think the fireworks bursting before my eyes might actually be the start of the bright white light that will lead me into the afterlife. Christian continues to lap at me, kiss me, ease me down from the pleasure after drawing it out longer than should have been humanly possible. When the last shudder works its way from my system, he moves up my body and claims my mouth. 

“Happy anniversary,” he says, a heady cocktail of want and adoration swimming in his eyes. 

“I’ll say.” I grab his face and kiss him hard, purposefully dragging my tongue over his chin to clean away the last of my release from his skin. It’s smoother than I expect… has he already shaved?

“None of that,” he chides me, though his tone actually tells me what he wants is much much more of that. He pulls away and I notice for the first time that he’s already completely dressed. 

“Where are you going?” 

“I have an early meeting, remember?” 

“And you didn’t plan in time for… for…” My cheeks pink and he chuckles. 

“No. But I was watching you sleep while I was getting ready to leave and I decided that I just couldn’t start the day without making you come first.” He rolls off the bed and straightens his tie, looking very pleased with himself. “Have lunch with me this afternoon.” 

I frown. He can’t really be leaving, can he?

“Don’t you want some kind of reciprocation?” 

“Why do you think I asked you to lunch?” I can tell by his grin that he’s joking, but I’m not. He’s going to work me up like that and then leave without even giving me a taste of his cock? It’s a bum deal. 

“I want you now.” My eyes lock with his and I make a big show of rubbing my thighs together under the sheets. His grin disappears, changing instead to something darker. Something hotter. 

“Later,” he promises. “I’ll make you come until you can’t stand it anymore.” 

“Empty promises. Actions speak louder than words, you know.” 

He laughs, but the sound cuts off as his phone starts to ring. “Good luck with your presentation this morning, Ana. I knew you’d figure this out and even I’m floored by what you’ve come up with. Carmen Gallagher won’t know what hit her.” 

“I hope you’re right.” 

He winks as he answers the phone, then his eyes hold mine intently for a long moment, reiterating the promise he’d made me about lunch earlier. “I’m on my way, Ros. Twenty minutes.” 

He disappears through the doorway, and I glare at the emptiness he leaves behind. It’s not that much earlier than when I normally wake up, so there’s not really any point in trying to go back to sleep. But I’m definitely not ready to get up, shower, and obsess over everything that could go wrong with the presentation I have to give to the entire staff today. So, instead, I reach over for my phone, call Christian’s direct line at his office, and masturbate into his voicemail. I describe every single thing I’m doing and thinking about in graphic detail until I scream his name through the phone. 

Let’s see if he regrets leaving me this morning after hearing that. 

Grace stops by and collects Calliope before I’ve even have a chance to blowdry my hair. My sleepy girl cuddles around her grandma when she lifts her out of the crib, and Grace practically becomes a puddle on the floor. 

“If you and Chrisitan decide you need more than one night, you let me know,” she says, quietly so she doesn’t wake Calliope. My face brightens with appreciation, even though I know the offer is really a selfish one. 

“Thank you, but I think tonight is just about all I’ll be able to stand to be away from her.” 

Because otherwise I’ll just be alone. 

I think Grace sees the thought flash through my eyes, because she shakes her head and places a gentle hand on my arm. “You’re both working too hard.” 

That isn’t true. Okay, so I spend nearly every waking second obsessing over whether or not my latest idea will be enough to float the entire company long enough for me to find the best-seller The Black Rose was supposed to be, and I’ve taken to reading manuscripts in the car, and trolling online writing forums on my phone while I’m in the bathroom… Maybe I’ve wished more than one time that I could dream my way through my work while I slept so I wouldn’t lose so much time out of every day…

But Christian spends more time at GEH nowadays than he does at home. 

I don’t want to argue about any of that with Grace, though, so I simply accept her words with a chastened nod and walk her out. 

“When are we headed out, boss?” Luke asks, stepping out of the security office the moment I’ve closed the door behind Grace. His eyes look at my still damp hair and the robe tied at my waist. “I’m going to guess it’s gonna be awhile.” 

“I’ll be fast. Do you want breakfast before we go or do you wanna get a bagel and coffee on the way?” 

He rolls his eyes. “As if you have any say in what’s going to happen to you for the rest of the day.” 

“What is that supposed to mean?” I put my hands on my hips, planning to fight him if he’s going to go full CPO-mode on me. He gives me a look in return that tells me I’m missing something that should be obvious. 

“It’s your anniversary, Ana. Your first one. I know both you and Grey are dealing with some serious shit at work, bad enough that he didn’t even take the day to be with you. But if you think he hasn’t set up an entire day’s worth of stuff for you to melt and fawn over until he can get to you, then I feel like you don’t actually know your husband at all, and your entire marriage is a sham.” 

I ignore that last part because now that he’s mentioned it, it’s ridiculous that I would expect anything less from the amazing man I should have fought harder to keep in my bed this morning. Instead, I zero in on two specific words. 

“Melt and fawn, huh?” My smile stretches to its limits when he nods. 

“You wouldn’t believe the amount of sappy, romantic shit waiting for you. Honestly, it’s nauseating.”

My breath catches in surprise at his statement and then my gut clenches painfully as I realize the reason why. He’s going to have to follow me around all day, having the love Chrisitan and I feel for one another shoved in his face over and over again, all while he’s still nursing a broken heart. 

“If you’re uncomfortable, Luke, I can manage without you for a day. I know you’re still hurting over Jade.” 

He grimaces. “You’re not going into the city without security. Absolutely not.” 

Well, duh. “No, but I can call Taylor.”  

“Ouch.” He pulls his hand up to his chest and takes a step back. “Am I really so easily replaced for you, Anastasia?” 

I shove him in exasperation, but laugh when he starts to. “I think we’ve proved over and over again that you are irreplaceable, Luke Sawyer. But I care about your feelings and I don’t want to see you in pain.” 

“Then you should know that there is no place I’d rather be than with you.” He gives me a yeah-that’s-right-now-don’t-you-feel-terrible-for-trying-to-send-me-away look and takes a step out of my reach. “Because making fun of you every single time you cry is going to be the highlight of my day.” 

He expects a huffy reaction, but I simply shrug. “Have at it. Knowing Christian, I’ll be too busy glowing to notice.” 

“Ugh, you’re already gross.” 

I flash him another smile. “Twenty minutes and I’ll be ready to go.” 

My first surprise is a playlist of songs Christian has made for me to listen to on my way to work. The note Luke hands me tells me that each song is one that makes him think of me. As we pull out of the driveway and the car fills with music, a smile sets on my face and doesn’t move for the entire drive. Some of the songs I know the meaning of the second I hear them. Like, At Last, the song we danced to at our wedding. Others, I can only guess at their significance by listening carefully to the lyrics. There are even a few songs in French that are a mystery to me altogether, except that I can hear the intent behind the sweet lilt in each artist’s voice. 

We are welcomed into the parking garage next to GSP by the final bars of Journey’s, Faithfully, and I’m swimming in tears. 

“Don’t break now, Steele,” Luke teases me. “You’re not even inside yet.” I reach up and dab the corners of my eyes, still unable to wipe the smile from my face. 

“Ugh, he would do this to me on the day I have to give a career making presentation to make.” 

“Romance or corporate sabotage? Christian Grey can do both.” We both laugh and it continues all the way into my office. 

“Good morning, Ana,” Abby greets me. “Happy Anniversary!” 

“Thank you. Any messages?” 

“Yes, your husband’s office called to schedule a 12:30 lunch and Ms. Gallagher confirmed she will be on today’s call with the New York team.”

I suck in a sharp breath through my nose. It’s good news, necessary actually, but that doesn’t alleviate any of my nerves. 

She wanted something radical…

“Confirm lunch with Christian,” I tell her. “I’ve got a few things left to finish before our meeting later this morning. Hold my calls until then. Unless it’s Carmen… or Christian.” 

“Sure thing, Ana.” She smiles, then turns on her heel and walks back to reception while I continue on to my office. There’s a giant bouquet waiting for me on my desk. I saunter towards it, searching through the deep red petals for a card. As I pluck it out, I bury my nose into the fragrant petals. They smell incredible.

I don’t know what you’re wearing, but I know you look absolutely beautiful this morning.

I love you

Christian  

I smile down at the words, my heart fluttering wildly. I wish desperately that he was close enough right then for me to kiss, or maybe even to drag to the nearest flat surface where I could take from him what he denied me this morning. 

My eyes move to the clock on the wall. 08:56, a long way off from 12:30. But not long enough until my meeting. With one last deep inhale of the flowers, I settle down in my chair. As has become usual since I’ve taken on the New York branch, my inbox is overflowing with manuscripts from my editors looking for approval. I ignore all of them.

There are a few emails that need my attention right away, but it doesn’t take me long to work through everything that’s important. I’m just about to close out of my email altogether when I notice one from Christian buried in between two from the New York office, early this morning. 


From: Christian Grey

Date: July 23rd 2012  07:58 AM

Subject: Lewd Voicemails

To: Anastasia Grey

I am going into a meeting and I’m hard. You should expect to be spending a good amount of time this afternoon over my knee to make up for it. And once I’m finished with that gorgeous ass of yours, I’m going to lay you over my desk and fucking worship you.

Christian Grey

Sexually Frustrated and Painfully Erect CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings


From: Anastasia Grey

Date: July 23rd 2012

Subject: Unexpected Wonders

To: Christian Grey

Well, I’ve spent the morning crying over all the amazingly sweet things you’ve done for me. And I think the roses on my desk are very closely verging on a gift, despite a very specific agreement between you and I that we wouldn’t be doing that this year…

Anastasia Grey

Completely Wooed Editor-In-Chief, Greenwich Small Press


“Hey, Ana,” Abby says, poking her head in the door. “You’ve got a delivery.”

“Oh?” She opens the door further and holds up another absolutely stunning bouquet of flowers. Peonies this time, in my favorite shade of soft pink. Abby places them next to the roses on my desk and beams. 

“The roses got here at eight, same time as me. I bet you’re going to get a new delivery every hour, on the hour!” 

“Sounds like something he would do.” I can’t help but smile, even as I shake my head at the absolutely ridiculousness of the man I married exactly one year ago today. Abby backs out of my office again, leaving me punch drunk and floating. 

I need to focus, but when I look back at my email, there’s a response from Christian waiting. 


From: Christian Grey

Date: July 23rd 2012  09:04 AM

Subject: Reparations, choose your own adventure.

To: Anastasia Grey

Let’s agree to call it even. Or better yet, let me make it up to you over, and over, and over…

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings


I want to rejoice in his good mood, spend my morning bantering with him and basking in his attention since he’s been so distracted lately. But he’s busy and I’ve got a lot of work to get done in the next hour. As much as it kills me, I don’t reply to the email. Instead, I turn my attention to the documents I’d been working on the night before and let myself completely check out of everything else.

When it’s finally time for me to make my way to the conference room, I find my team has already assembled there. I haven’t had the chance to see any of them yet this morning, so we start off with a few pleasantries and share details of our weekends. I’m just about to dial in to the New York office when I’m stopped by an unexpected knock on the door. 

I look up and see Olivia, Christian’s receptionist, standing there.

“I’m looking for a…” She looks at a piece of paper in her hand. “Anastasia Grey?” 

I tilt my head as I blink back at her, confused by how unnatural my name sounds rolling off her tongue. Like she’s never said it before. “Yes?” 

She nods, turns around, and disappears for a few seconds, then returns with boxes of doughnuts and coffee. The good kind, from the fancy bakery up the street. My confusion deepens, so Olivia holds the sheet of paper she’d read my name off of earlier. 

“Your receipt, Mrs. Grey.” 

Except it isn’t a receipt at all. It’s a note written in an immediately recognizable handwriting. 

It never hurts to get them on your side before proposing something big. Well fed people are generally more amenable people. 

Now go knock ‘em fucking dead.

I believe in you, too.

My heartbeat quickens with yet another dose of love as I glance around the table and get several grateful looks from my employees diving into the doughnuts. Even Stevens looks not-irritated with me as he takes a welcome sip of coffee. 

Well, fuck. If I knew it would be this easy to win them over, I would have brought breakfast with me every morning.

Touche, Mr. Grey.

“Thank you,” I tell Olivia, and she winks at me before hurrying out of the room. I reach down and dial the conference call number for New York. The other team pops up on the TV screen mounted to the wall, and, again, we’re met with warm greetings of welcome. It’s strange because the two branches have very little interaction with one another, so no one is really familiar enough with each other for me to expect such openly friendly attitudes in a professional setting. But Carmen is on the call, and I think several of my employees might be a little overzealous in their attempts to impress her. 

“Alright, let’s get any outstanding items from the frontlist out of the way. We’ll start with Seattle.”

It’s a short discussion since the only titles we currently have to talk about are the ones that were already in production before Carmen gave me one last big release. Even after working through a marketing issue with one of my employees in New York, only the first twenty minutes of our hour long meeting have passed. It gives me plenty of time to present my idea to the team, and talk it out with them once the questions and doubts start. Unfortunately, the butterflies in my stomach have turned to bats. 

“Our next item for discussion is a big one, and I don’t want any of you to panic when I say what I’m about to say.” Eight people shift uncomfortably in their seats around me. I take a breath and brace myself. “I want to shut down the New York printing press.” 

“What!” The roar comes from the TV speakers. The only reaction I get from the people in the room with me are blank stares and open mouths. 

“I said don’t panic,” I repeat, keeping my voice light and confident. Not like I’ve said something that probably has half my team thinking they’re losing their jobs. I clear that up first. “No one is losing their job. New York will simply be stopping all production on print media.” 

The idea came to me over the weekend when Luke and I were hanging out, scrolling through Netflix, and he’d noticed a show he liked had a new season come out and he’d missed it. I listened to him grumble about how they should have some kind of subscription service to follow certain shows, like a YouTube channel. Once I reminded him that Netflix was a subscription service, it hit me. I didn’t need to move 50,000 units with one title, I needed to come up with something that would continuously bring in revenue that was equivalent to 50,000 units. Netflix only releases a few titles a year, only updates their library once a month, and yet they float because their customers pay a monthly subscription fee. They don’t purchase the product directly. 

From there, my mind immediately went to the technology I’d developed for Grey Publishing two years earlier. A lot of their success has been their ability to cut overhead costs and reach a wider audience by pushing ebook sales through their tablet. Greenwich has an app of their own, a weak attempt by Carmen to respond to GP’s success, but it’s clunky and doesn’t have half the features or functionality that the Grey device does. 

Carmen doesn’t have Welch. 

The two ideas combined into one massive undertaking. “The Greenwich Library,” I tell my team, clicking the button on the remote to pop a presentation out from the faces of the New York office on the monitor. 

“It would be its own entity under the Greenwich Small Press umbrella, contained entirely within the New York office. Contracts would be different, royalties would pay differently, standards for publication would be… relaxed, but the consumer would have access to all of it, at all times, for the price of little more than a single ebook purchase. The library would update monthly at first, then weekly. It would be the New York office’s responsibility to publish that content.”

I move through the slides of my presentation that show data on ebook sales, and how those projected sales would affect our bottom line if even 3% of our customer base signed up for the service. “We’d have the ability to add classic titles that are no longer protected under copyright. In the future, there’s the possibility of specific sub-subscriptions. Book clubs, themed collection releases, textbooks… This gives us the opportunity to grow in a way we would never be able to if we stay tethered to the printing press.” 

Carmen cringes slightly when I pull up the financial plan, which breaks down how much it will cost to make this a reality and market it well enough to make it a success. But she doesn’t get up and walk out. That has to count for something, right? 

The question phase of the meeting is brutal. I’ve prepared, knowing how much this was going to scare everyone, but there’s only so much I can give them. I don’t have concrete data because this is unchartered territory. 

“Then how do you even know it will work?” a disgruntled woman from New York asks. I think her name is Margaret. 

“I don’t. I’ve just…” I pause, trying to explain why I am so certain this is the way forward. I end up quoting Christian. “It’s a feeling.” 

No one else says anything, so every pair of eyes, both here in Seattle with me, and in the room in New York, move to Carmen. 

“I want to hear more from the team,” she says. “Will it work?” 

Someone was going to have to come forward and express faith in me, and that made my heart heavy. Every step of the way my staff has fought my methods. I wasn’t going to hold my breath that any of them believed I could successfully change our entire business model. 

“I think it’s brilliant,” a voice in the room with me says. “It’s a good compromise between the volume our reader base has come to expect and the limitations of our press that make that model impossible. Honestly, it sounds to me like Ana has solved the problem that Scott never could.” 

It’s Stevens, the last person in the world I would ever expect to say something. And he’s only the first. 

“Ana was dead-on last time when she said we needed to change,” Jacki adds. “She was the only one who said The Black Rose wasn’t the best-seller we were looking for, and it was only because of her foresight that we survived that disaster. I trust her judgement.” 

“Me too.” 

“Me too.” 

The sentiment is repeated around the room like an outloud game of telephone that leaves me speechless. 

Thankfully, Carmen is the next to speak, so I don’t have to. “Then it sounds like this team has a lot of work ahead of them.” She gets up, straightening her skirt. “Ana, you’ll let me know what support you need from me, and we’ll come up with some timelines once you have everything ready?”

“Yeah,” I manage to say without completely losing my professional demeanor. “Thank-you, Carmen.” 

“I don’t want thanks, I want results. And don’t think this changes my expectations for a 50,000 copy release, Anastasia. That wasn’t a test for GSP, that was a test for you.” She opens the door and leaves me alone with my team. I try to ignore the dazed shock I feel at her parting words, and instead spend the next hour and a half brainstorming and assigning team roles. There are vendors I need to contact before we can get any further, so once everyone has a place to start, I end the meeting and walk back into the main office feeling ten feet tall. A feeling that is only made stronger when I see the two bouquet deliveries I’d missed during our meeting. 

“These wildflowers are incredible,” Abby says, twisting the cerulean colored vase in her hands while I pick up the Calla Lilies.

“Keep them here,” I offer, looking at the counter in front of her desk.

“Really?” 

“Sure.  I’m running low on space in my office anyway. “ She smiles and starts rearranging the reception desk to make room for the vase just as Luke starts towards me. 

“Your ride’s downstairs,” he says. I raise a confused eyebrow at him, but it doesn’t make him elaborate. In fact, he places his hand on my elbow and steers me to the door without saying another word. 

“I’ll be back in an hour, Abby. I need the number for that developer by the time I get back.” 

I’m out the door and almost in the elevator by the time I get my instructions out, so I don’t hear her confirmation. Faith is what carries me out of the building, where Taylor is waiting on the curb with the Maybach. 

“Mrs. Grey,” he greets me warmly, and the elation I feel from everything that’s happened  today is apparent in every syllable of my response. 

“Good afternoon, Taylor.” I slide into the back of the Maybach and find a note on the seat with a single red rose. 

Enjoy the show.

-Christian

I frown down at it, wondering if I’m not actually going to get to spend any time with him this afternoon. But as the car pulls away, the screen mounted on the back of the driver’s seat comes on and starts to play a video. My smile widens past the point that makes my cheeks ache when I see that it’s pictures and video clips from our wedding, set to the song I’d walked down the aisle to. Most of this must have come from Mia, because I haven’t seen any of it before. The song ends while we pull into the garage at GEH, and the video changes again. This time, to Christian standing with his father near the cliffside we were married on. Elliot’s voice is the first I hear, so he must be behind the camera. 

“She’s about to walk down here. You nervous there, bigshot?”

Christian turns to the camera with that smile he has that makes him the most beautiful man in the world. “What’s there to be nervous about? Happily ever after?” 

Next Chapter

21 thoughts on “Chapter 30

  1. So sweet. Glad to see them celebrating even with everything that they have going on. I’m still leery and unsure of Carmen. What are her intentions? Does she want Ana to succeed or fail? Does she hate Christian? My feelings are in the air about her. Will there be a follow-up on what happened with Scott when he tried to rape Ana and get her manuscript?

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    1. Like you, I can’t help but be leery of Carmen. After all, “hints” have been dropped that she and Christian have a seriously competitive thing between them. Carmen is constantly trying to “copy” Christian’s way of doing things, only to do it poorly. (As Ana comments, Carmen didn’t have Welch to make the e-reader idea truly work for her.)

      At the same time, Carmen’s decision to back Ana makes brilliant sense, in its own way. Carmen can SEE that Ana is MOTIVATED to succeed. And Ana is willing to make sacrifices, too.

      I have just been wondering if Carmen hired Ana because she knew Ana might try to bring some of Christian’s people in to save the company, when necessary, such as getting the tech stuff up and running in the way that Ana KNOWS only Welch can do. WE HAVE NOT SEEN, YET, how Ana plans to get Carmen’s version of an e-reader to be successful. Who will she turn to for the tech support? CHRISTIAN WOULD NEVER LET ANA FAIL because she lacked personnel necessary to put her Vision in place—so maybe Carmen BANKED on pushing Ana into a corner where Ana HAS to either PUBLISH HER OWN MANUSCRIPT with Carmen in order to keep the company from having to fold.

      Carmen so EASILY fired the guy she had allowed to do EVERYTHING and make ALL the decisions. And she talks about “testing” Ana. Carmen seems almost to have CREATED this entire thing in order to put Ana into this position. So what, exactly, does Carmen REALLY want out of all this?

      As to the SCOTT incident—quite frankly, Ana had BETTER have taken out charges against Scott. After all, Christian’s WHOLE defense is that he saw Scott trying to rape his wife. If Ana does NOT take out charges, Christian’s case becomes a LOT harder to prove, especially since Christian will need a BOATLOAD of money to afford lawyers, given the Civil AND Criminal cases he SHOULD be facing over the whole fusion debacle. Scott could come up with ANY type of story and claim that Ana is ONLY filing charges at a later date BECAUSE she needed a “fake” claim to get Christian off. Allowing him to spin WHO KNOWS what all into the press, ESPECIALLY since the public is probably enjoying Christian’s potential “fall from grace.” After all, Christian has made one poor decision after another in first trying to leverage his father into giving him tax breaks and other things. Then Christian ends up having to cut back on personnel, undoubtedly, due to his poor decisions and pursuit of a project that has virtually BANKRUPTED his company.

      So SCOTT is in a position of trying to claim Christian was harassing or blackmailing HIM and it got out of hand. Or something to that effect. PARTICULARLY if his attempt to rape Ana has not been filed or made public. So no one, INCLUDING Carmen, would know what Scott had tried to do UNLESS a POLICE REPORT was filed. And we ALL KNOW that the POLICE was what was compromised in Seattle in the FIRST PLACE and is NOT anxious for Christian to find the bad seeds that helped Lincoln.

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      1. Carmen is an interesting character to me because she also represents power in the way Christian does, but she’s the first character we’ve seen who kind of exists outside of Christian’s reach. They’re mirrors, really. She’s cold and calculated and she definitely is always playing a game of chess that no one else is aware of. She brought Ana in because Ana had the resume, but the only real world experience she had was achieved under the man who became her husband. So I don’t think she quite trusts Ana yet. Carmen also doesn’t have the same soft spot for GSP that Christian does for GP— because Christian bought GP for Ana. For Carmen, GSP is just another revenue stream, and one she doesn’t even really care that much about. Therefore, she doesn’t really care that much about Ana, except when she’s bringing in money. So this is Ana’s first opportunity to succeed knowing that everything she does is all her own.

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  2. It wasn’t enough 😦 Yeah, I was expecting that lunch meeting! But well, I know you love to create expectation to next Monday, so I’ll be counting the days 🤭.

    Now being serious, I truly loved it. I adore the fact that Christian cares enough to make Ana feel worthy and loved and make time for her even given the circumstances. I wouldn’t expect less, as Luke said, it is Christian in his total essence.

    I have new theories for the future events but I’m saving them for next chapter. After following you for more that 5 years, I know that behind this amazing and sweet chapters hide some trouble. We’ll see in the next too chapters hahaha.

    Lots of love,
    Andie

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  3. I REALLY want to believe the people at Carmen’s company are behind Ana, especially Stevens, as Scott made poor decisions that got them there. But Carmen LET Scott do this, every step of the way, never giving Ana even the chance to really argue against Scott’s decisions. So CARMEN, through Scott, potentially ran the company into the ground. NOW Ana has to save EVERYONE’S jobs AND her OWN reputation to boot!

    So I WANT to hope the Team REALIZES this. But I can’t help but wonder about SCOTT. After all, this guy wants money and a job. AND some sort of story to claim to his wife, if he hopes to save his marriage. So this guy is now DESPERATE. And desperate people tend to do bad things, given the HISTORY in the first THREE books.

    So I can’t help but think SCOTT would try appealing to his former people to try to take Ana down.

    And I still find it surprising that CARMEN created this WHOLE situation without a certain ENDGAME in mind.

    Carmen has clearly put EVERYTHING on Ana now—the WHOLE company FOLDS if Ana can’t find the 50,000 units sold thing. And the ONLY guarantee Ana would have to make this, quite frankly, is her OWN manuscript. Which has me wondering if Carmen didn’t really set this WHOLE thing up to go down this way.

    AND Carmen loses NOTHING in seeing if Ana can find still OTHER authors or means of keeping the company afloat without using her own Manuscript.

    But ALL the current obstacles keep Ana AND Christian from having too much time to really look towards any OTHER possible storms hovering out there. Hhmmmmm. . . . .

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  4. I DO love that Ana and Christian seem to be in a good place right now. Both are committed to being supportive of one another. And Christian KNOWS that Ana is in it for the long haul.

    It is also intriguing to see both Ana AND Christian have their FIRST true issues with failure. After all, Ana originally had a job at GP where she was certain to succeed, as even Ros pointed out, way back when. Of course, Ana’s own real SENSE of what needed to be done helped more than anything. YES, she had the BEST personnel. But the IDEAS were all her OWN. So success was EASY for her.

    And success was easy for Christian as well. NOW, however, BOTH Ana and Christian are having to really see how EVERYTHING else that happened affected BOTH in a way that caused them to behave differently—Ana being determined to trace down or control EVERY possible threat out there, no matter WHAT she had to do OR what it might cost her. And CHRISTIAN in wanting to make his company THE only one for clean energy, etc.

    And since BOTH of them were so dedicated and had been so RIGHT in previous attempts they had made, EACH just falls into the pattern of believing that IF they want it badly enough, it will just happen, if they keep hitting away at it. Only to find that hitting one’s head against a brick wall a dozen or more times will NOT bring about the desired conclusion of mastering and knocking down the wall.

    So potential Failure has come to the doorstep now of BOTH Christian and Ana. BOTH have now taken on seemingly impossible tasks. BUT they are (at least, as of now) leaning and comforting one another. A MUCH better place than previously had in this book!

    But Christian CLEARLY hasn’t talked, yet, with Ana about what is going on behind the scenes with the lawyers. Ana and Christian succeed BEST when they work TOGETHER. So I’m interested to see what happens moving forwards, since we have not yet begun to see just what ALL is coming after them, in my opinion!

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  5. Oh great chapter today at least there were some happy hopeful moments for Ana. What’s up with Carmen? Does she want Christian? Too bad she can’t have him!

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  6. What a perfect and most romantic anniversary! Christian really sets the bar very high. Lucky Ana, he is such a devoted and fantastic husband, he pampers his love infinitely. Bravo, Ana! I love her business plan. As usual, Carmen is authoritarian and grueling. I dont trust her. She might have old vengeance towards Christian. I believe in Ana. She has to work very hard to achieve, but she and Christian are the most hardworking and result oriented people. I hope her plan succeeds. Thanks very much, Tara.

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  7. Wow! Ana’s eReader lending library idea is so clever that even Stevens liked it! Jacki seconded the idea, stating that they should have listened to Ana about the lackluster Black Rose. I think NY and Seattle are looking for job stability and a new challenge. I have no idea how Christian bested Carmen in the past, but she’s not over it.

    And such a beautiful firstwedding anniversary! The flowers alone would have been enough for me. I’d love to go to sleep each night knowing my love would always be true.

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  8. Things I am still wondering:

    1) Has PHOENIX been published by another company? The author was encouraged by Ana and might be willing to go with her, regardless of everything else, if given an option. (This may have been in earlier chapters that I have not read yet. The last I recall was that Ana had pushed her towards a good agent and told her GP couldn’t publish her then, and she should seek other options.)

    2) Did Ana file charges against Scott? If not, then my FEAR is that Scott goes for the “Hyde Defense.” (See below #3 for my explanation of this.)

    3) Is Scott going to try for a “Hyde Defense”? (A “Hyde Defense” being my definition for where Hyde, in the original EL James’ version, tried to claim ANA was pursuing HIM and had been trying to basically get his job/get Hyde out of the way by setting the WHOLE thing up.) HERE, the twist is that Scott had already lost his job. BUT he would claim he came to Ana’s suite at ANA’s suggestion. AND found her in lingerie, as she intended to seduce him and dangle him getting his job back as the means to guarantee he “satisfied” her. AND Ana really had NO real good reason for letting him in that room—at least from the point of hindsight. So Scott can claim he really WAS coming to the suite at ANA’s invitation to learn the “terms” for getting his job back, and Christian “happened” to walk in on them unexpectedly, and Ana “claimed” assault in order to not be caught by her husband in an extramarital affair. So I’m seriously sweating the “Hyde Defense” if Ana didn’t follow through on criminal charges against Scott.

    4) WHY has Ana STILL not gotten any good sense about protecting her own well-being??? She KNEW from Taylor that Scott blamed her, and OBVIOUSLY blamed ANA for losing his job. Yet she still let him in. AND with her in obvious lack of formal clothing. HOW can Ana be so Harvard-bright and yet KEEP MAKING THE SAME MISTAKES in regards to security and her own well-being????

    5) I’m TRYING not to worry about the Security situation. CLEARLY, this is a problem. And Grace took Calliope—how well could Grace defend herself AND the baby if even one of Christian’s disgruntled employees came after them??? (This is rather small on the “worries list” right now, but given the history of PAST books and KNOWING people are still out there that do NOT want to get discovered, Grace and Calliope are likely targets for BOTH Christian AND Carrick, as Carrick has the power and authority to REALLY look into those police corruption issues.

    6) Carrick’s potential Conflict(s) of Interest. Carrick is NOT going to want to go after his son after all. ESPECIALLY knowing that Christian has NOW finally seen reason and shut down the experiments. BUT the damage TO THE CITY PROPERTY means that Carrick SHOULD seek to get reparations and damages from Christian and GEH. But that could end up being the VERY nail in the coffin for GEH, and people will obviously be WATCHING Carrick, ready to allege “corruption” if Carrick even appears to be protecting Christian with his position.

    7) What IS the status of GEH right now? Did they get that contract Ros said would make or break them??? Anyone trying to back out of GEH now that they know the company is in trouble?

    8) Just what ALL cases are the lawyers for GEH and Christian involved in right NOW? (Lawyers are VERY expensive, especially with EVERYTHING going on, both personally AND professionally, for Christian. Does he have the capital left to survive this????

    9) The whole Family Thing. Christian and Ana have very little time left, with their professional concerns, for themselves, Calliope, etc. Obviously, this will take a toll on them. HOWEVER, they seem to be in a good place. But Calliope could begin to think Elliott and Kate are her parents, which you KNOW would not sit well with Christian especially.

    10) Ummm—did Christian and his father ever make up? I’m hoping that was covered in a previous chapter. I mean, Christian almost LOST his father before and was VERY lucky Carrick survived. You wouldn’t think MONEY and his COMPANY would AGAIN cost the family so much tension and bad relations. I’m ASSUMING Christian has re-evaluated his priorities and is on the road back from his own obvious PTSD that helped motivate him into so MANY bad decisions for GEH that kind of filtered out into EVERY aspect of his life, when you think about it.

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  9. They are facing major issues in their companies mostly financial but cannot forget their first anniversary, and Christian is such a sweetheart to fall in love with his character all over again. The Scott issue is not going away and have a feeling he will be a major creator of upheavals for Christian and Ana starting with his lawsuit. Why can’t Ana file a countersuit that he tried to rape her, and maybe that is in the future. I still believe Ana’s manuscript will end up saving GSP when she is back in a corner and there is a need to publish it. Is Carmen’s role is to make Ana be tough to succeed in the corporate world since Ana is really a neophyte in this area. I had other thoughts about Carmen in the past but it has been awhile to really dwell into it. Thank you very much for the update.

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  10. Sorry I’m late to review. Loved this chapter! It reminded me a lot of Ana’s birthday back in Cambridge. Again, I can’t help but feel these chapters are setting up nicely for the final direction of the story. I know we have (luckily) many many more chapters to go, but you’re building a really strong foundation. What’s so interesting is that for the first time as a reader I’m not quite sure who the “enemy” and obstacle is. In the first two books it was Elena, the creation of GEH and then Christian working hard to win Ana back. Then we had Carrick’s cancer and the mysterious and dangerous threat of Lincoln. It’s really exciting to try and decipher the antagonist of this last round.

    Thank you again for your story!!!

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  11. I have enjoyed reading this chapter- and the next today. I Sooooooooo needed this escape into Christian and Ana’s world after the last week. I “my world” the stress has been off the charts. But Hey!!! Happy Days are here again 🎶

    If you wrote a series of chapters and it was nothing but romantic Christian whispering naughty promises to Ana and then following up on every one of them, I would buy the damn book. Honestly, he is so FU#!*&^% Hot when he is like this.

    My “spidey” senses tell me that following this hot bonding sessions of these two committed souls, there is a bumpy ride that will continue in work.
    Failure is word that does not appear in Christians dictionary.

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