“Look, I’m not happy about this entire situation. I’ve been with Greenwich since day one and now… what? I never applied to work at Grey Enterprises Holdings. No one in the New York office did, and we’re not stoked about it.”
The way he says Grey Enterprises Holdings makes it sound like something sonomous with Nazi Death Camp. There’s animosity in every word he’s said to me, and that’s become something of a pattern with my employees in New York. And several from Grey Publishing. There’s a possible mutiny brewing beneath me, and I’m too sick to put a stop to it.
“I hear you,” I start, my voice already breaking with each nauseating contraction in my stomach. “But can you just hold on one second, Mitch?” My finger barely has time to swipe against the mute button on the screen of my phone before I lean into the toilet and lose my breakfast. The floor is cold and too hard through my stockings and my toes are pinched past the point of pain in my slightly too tight Jimmy Choos. I’ve been trying to leave for the office for over an hour, but I can’t stop throwing up. No matter how many nausea lozenges I suck on, no matter how many crackers I force down, no matter how many minutes I lay down sipping water… I always end up sprinting for the bathroom. This happened once on a weekend I was home with Christian while I was pregnant with Calliope, and I’d ended up in the emergency room for dehydration.
If that happens today… I don’t even know what Christian will do.
“Mrs. Grey? Are you there?”
“I’m sorry, Mitch,” I say, pulling my head out of the toilet and unmuting the phone. I slump back against the wall and place a cool hand over my clammy forehead. “I’m listening.”
“Are you, though? Because it seems to me like you’ve just come in here like a bulldozer and flattened everything us lifers have built! You ran off Scott, you closed our press… now we’re not even Greenwich anymore? We didn’t sign up for this!”
“Neither did I. Believe me, this was not in any of my plans. But it was Carmen’s decision to sell, and I can’t do anything to change it. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure there is as little disruption in this process as possible, and no one loses their job. That’s the best I can give you, and if that’s not enough, I’ll be happy to write you a letter of recommendation.”
A bitter huff sounds through the phone, and I glance up at the ceiling, praying he’ll hang up before I hurl again.
“The amount we’re expected to deal with right now better be reflected in our compensation once annual raises start coming around…” he grumbles.
“That’s actually one of the positive things about this transition. As an entity of Grey Enterprises Holdings, we’re now much better funded. I expect that will be reflected in salaries going forward.”
His strife draws out for several more minutes, and I do my best to talk him down. By the end of the conversation, I’m at least sure he won’t quit. But even that small victory doesn’t stop me from once again falling face first into the toilet the moment I set the phone down.
“Ana?” Evan calls from behind me. I turn and see him watching me wearily, his frown deepening as he closely examines the color of my cheeks. “You alright?”
“Oh, yeah. Having a great time.”
He cringes. “Sorry… I just came up here to see if you were still planning on going to your doctor’s appointment. We should be leaving shortly.”
“Oh, shit…” I let my head fall into my hands, the general misery so close to overwhelming me I almost tell him to cancel. But then I remember that Christian said he would be there. So I have to put on a brave front to communicate to him that I can handle this and that his reaction to this pregnancy is completely overblown.
It’s that resolve that pulls me off the bathroom floor. I hurriedly take yet another nausea lozenge from the tin on my counter, then hand it over to Evan. Downstairs, Harper gives me a bottle of water to sip on the drive, and I cling to it for dear life.
All of that ends up on the asphalt of the parking lot in front of my OBGYN’s office when I step out of the SUV and immediately double over.
“Wyatt, is that a photographer?” Evan asks, bending to pull my hair away from my face and gesturing to the bushes at the front of the medical complex. I follow his gaze and see the movement that drew his attention. As Wyatt sets off to investigate, Smith and Harper move to surround me, shrouding me from view while keeping me in a claustrophobic bubble. I groan and hold onto Evan while he moves me around them and guides me through the front doors of the building.
Christian isn’t there waiting for me.
We check in at the front desk and I sit in the waiting room with my CPO, just like I did back in Boston. It’s painful this time. Not just because I’d prefer the CPO I had then to the one I have now, but because he doesn’t have to be here at all. This time, I should have Christian next to me, and I don’t. Not even after he promised he’d be here. Every second that ticks past seems to come slower and slower, but my eyes stay trained on the door. With each and every one of them, I can hear the words he said to me yesterday as clearly as if he was saying them in front of me right now. “I’ll be there.”
Well, where the fuck is he?
“We’re ready for you Mrs. Grey.”
My eyes shoot up to the friendly looking woman in magenta colored scrubs, standing at the door with a clipboard in her hands. She smiles at me expectantly, but my eyes move back to the door one last time. Then I reach into my purse for my phone. There isn’t a text from Christian, so I send one of my own.
You said you’d be here.
“Anastasia?” The nurse presses me. I toss my phone back in my bag, take a deep breath, and smile at her.
“Yes, sorry.” She sweeps her arm through the door and directs me to a room at the end of the hall. It’s oddly relieving walking into the examination room without my security team hovering over me. The nurse directs me to take a seat on the table and asks several questions. Then she leaves me for a few minutes to let me change into a paper gown. I take the time before the doctor arrives to check my phone for Christian’s response, but there’s nothing.
Only a ‘read’ receipt.
“Mrs. Grey?” I glance up at the knock on the door, and Dr. Greene steps into the room. She beams at me with all the summer light of August as she plops down on a stool and rolls her way across the room. “I hear you might be pregnant?”
“Yeah, I took a test and it was positive.”
Somehow, her smile brightens. “Well, we’re going to take another one, and if that one comes back positive, we’ll get you an ultrasound.”
“Okay, tha—“ I’m cut off by another knock on the door, which Dr. Greene acknowledges with confusion.
A balding man who wears a suit beneath his white coat enters the room, looking embarrassed before he even starts to speak. “I’m sorry, Dr. Greene, but Mrs. Grey is actually going to have her examination performed by her… uh, personal physician.”
I raise an eyebrow at him. “Personal physician?”
He steps back and Christian walks into the room, followed closely by… Dr. Baker. My OBGYN from Boston.
“Good afternoon,” Dr. Baker says, her overly polite handshake a clear play at breaking the awkward tension in the room. “I’m so sorry that this is happening.”
“But it is,” Christian says, leaving no room for argument. He holds the door open and glances at Dr. Greene. “If you wouldn’t mind…”
The look of shock on Dr. Greene’s face is palpable. Her eyes move to the man in the suit, but he shakes his head in return. Straightening her jacket, she turns the same cheery smile on me and takes my hand.
“I’m sure you’re in very good hands, Mrs. Grey. Excuse me.”
Dr. Greene gets off the stool and marches proudly from the room. Once the door closes behind her, I turn wide eyes on my husband.
“You have got to be kidding me?”
“Don’t,” he snaps back, his voice a warning. I grind my teeth together and turn to Dr. Baker.
“Oh, it’s alright.” She lowers herself onto Dr. Green’s vacated stool. “How are you feeling?”
My eyes move nervously to Christian, only to find him staring intently back at me, clearly ready to analyze everything I say.
“The morning sickness has been… a lot,” I tell her, trying to downplay any negative as much as possible. She nods and flips through the files she must have brought from her own records.
“That was true with Calliope too…” She flips through her papers again and starts reading through her notes, reciting the medications that had worked for me in the past. She’s not even able to get her prescription pad out though, before Christian is cutting her off.
“Tell her what you told me.”
“Mr. Grey, perhaps we should…”
“No! Tell her what you told me.”
Dr. Baker takes a deep breath and swivels on her stool to face me again. There’s hesitance in her eyes that wasn’t there before, and it makes me feel cold.
“Mr. Grey called to talk to me about your history, and how it may affect this pregnancy…” She pauses, as though she’s uncertain how she should continue, and I take a bracing breath.
“Well, generally, women who experience a placental abruption during their first pregnancy are at high risk for reoccurrence for every pregnancy thereafter.”
“How high is the risk?”
“It’s about 1 in 10.”
I take a much easier breath and look between the doctor and my husband like they’re crazy. “That’s only a ten percent chance it’ll happen. That means there’s a ninety percent chance it won’t.”
Christian turns yet another insistent look on the doctor, and she frowns. “It’s just that, it’s such a rare complication to begin with that the jump in probability is, medically, staggering. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy pregnancy. It just means…” She pauses, like she can’t decide whether or not she’s actually trying to scare me or encourage me. “You had a very traumatic delivery the first time. There will be some damage and scarring to your uterus that could make any future complications you do experience… more severe than they were in the past.”
Christian stiffens, and my mouth goes dry.
Dr. Baker smiles again, picking up the mood of the room in the same skilled way Dr. Greene did. “But we shouldn’t panic until we know all the facts. Why don’t we take a look, huh? You wanna lay back for me?”
I do as she asks, and place my legs in the plastic stirrups on either side of her. She wheels the ultrasound closer to me and pulls a long line of blue gel across the probe. Once it slides inside of me, my eyes immediately dart to the monitor it’s connected to, and Christian’s hand wraps around mine. I flinch a little as the wand moves around, but any discomfort vanishes from my mind the moment I see the small flicker amongst the static in front of me. When Dr. Baker turns up the volume, and the sound of a thrumming heartbeat fills the vacant silence around us, Christian’s hold on my hand tightens.
I turn to him, and feel the first sense of hope I’ve been able to conjure in days. His eyes are stuck on the monitor and the crease in his brow isn’t from anger or defensiveness. It’s discovery. For a long breath, Christian stares at the flicker as though he’s seeing the sun rise after a night he thought would never end. There’s awe. There’s surprise. There’s want…
And then he looks at Dr. Baker and his eyes cloud over again.
My gaze shoots to Dr. Baker only to find her carefully composed demeanor now colored with concern.
“It seems…” She shakes her head and stops, moving the wand around again and narrowing her eyes as she leans in to examine the screen. When she finds whatever it is she’s looking for, she turns a grim look on Christian. “I see two heartbeats.”
She points to the monitor, circling her finger around one black circle, then another. “It’s twins.”
My mouth drops open as what she’s showing me comes into focus. Two tiny disturbances in a field of static gray that each flicker with their own unique signs of life. It takes a careful ear, but listening to the sound from the ultrasound machine closely, I start to hear the difference between the two heartbeats.
“Oh my god,” I breathe, reaching out to touch the screen.
“What does that mean?” Christian asks.
“It means… Well, pregnancies with multiples present risks all their own. With Ana’s history…” She pauses in the same way, like she’s preparing to give devastating news. “It makes the risk of a placental abruption much higher.”
“How much higher?” I ask, before Christian can go on whatever rant he’s got on deck. “20%? 30%? 50?”
The doctor worries her lip a bit with her teeth, then takes a deep breath. “I’ve never seen a case where a woman with your history became pregnant with multiples and had a normal pregnancy.”
“No,” Christian says, dropping my hand and storming away from the bed. He begins to pace, his hands up in the air as if he doesn’t really know what to do with them. “No. No. No. No. No.”
I block him out and turn to the doctor. “So, you’re saying this pregnancy isn’t viable?”
“I’m not saying it isn’t viable. I am saying it’s high risk. Extremely high risk.”
“So what does that look like?”
“Well, let me take some measurements.”
She starts to drag her cursor across the screen, drawing lines that measure the size of the babies. Christian returns to my side, but his jaw is locked, his body is seized with stress, and there’s a dangerous fight brewing in his eyes. He shakes his head the entire time Dr. Baker works, so I do my best not to look at him.
“I’d say you’re about nine weeks, and based on the size of the fetuses, I think you’re looking at permanent bed rest starting around four, maybe five months.”
So only two months from now…
“And that will let me carry them to term?”
“I can’t give you any definitives, but if you intend to move forward with this pregnancy…”
“I do,” I say before any other suggestion can be made.
“Well, then… I would probably account for an early delivery in your birth plan.”
“Will I be able to carry them long enough for them to survive?”
“I don’t know.”
“What about her?” Christian interjects again. Dr. Baker turns to him, a questioning eyebrow arched high over her amber colored eyes. “You said that the damage from Calliope’s delivery could make all of this worse, and the only thing that could be worse than her almost dying, is the absence of ‘almost.’”
Her lips press together as she weighs the advice she has to give. “We know what to expect this time and we can plan in a way we couldn’t before… I’m the best, and I’ll do everything I can.”
“That’s not good enough.” He turns again, moving all the way to the far side of the room. His back is turned to us, his hands on both his hips, his breathing exaggerated. “Dr. Baker, would you give me a moment alone with my wife?”
“Of course, Mr. Grey.” She gives me a reassuring kind of smile and squeezes my hand before she makes her exit. I keep my eyes focused on Christian, waiting for a tirade that doesn’t come. He just stands there, looking at the wall.
“I don’t know what to say to you, Christian…” I begin, nervously. He lets out a defeated sigh, then turns back to look at me.
“You know, I know what Kate is going to say to you on your deathbed. It’s a beautiful speech, you’re really going to love it..”
My throat tightens, and I swallow automatically. “Stop…”
“I know what your dad’s face looks like the moment he realizes he’s lost you forever. I know what my mother’s tears sound like, I know what color Mia’s complexion turns… You think I’m being callous, but it’s only because all of that is very real to me. I’ve been trapped in that moment every time I’ve gone to sleep this week, and I’m telling you, Ana… I can’t live through that again. I can’t lose you.”
“Christian…” My eyes start to fill with tears and words fail me. Stuttering sounds croak their way from my throat like a broken muffler, but I can’t turn them into sentences. What is there to say?
I think he senses my moment of weakness, because he flies across the room and takes me by the hand.
“Please,” he pleads. “Ana… please. You can put it all on me. You can hate me for it. You can punish me for it. I can live through that. I can’t live through losing you. Please, don’t do this.”
I turn away, unable to bear the unusual supplication in his gaze. Dr. Baker’s insights have suddenly painted this whole scene a new color that my eyes haven’t quite adjusted to yet. I don’t even know what I’m thinking right now, and Christian’s pleas on top of my own uncertainty is overwhelming.
“I need to think about it,” I mumble. His calm and subjugated demeanor evaporates, and he shoves away from the examination table.
“Think about what? Did you hear what the doctor just told you? You can’t do this, Anastasia.”
“That’s not what she said…”
“That’s exactly what she fucking said! You can wade through the margins looking for as much hope as you want, but she was very clear about what we should expect. It’ll be worse than it was last time. You’re not going to make it through this, and I will never accept that.”
“Well then let’s talk about things that we’ll never be able to accept, Christian. What do you think it’ll do to me to wake up everyday knowing that I made the choice to end the lives of my children?”
“They’re not our children.” He growls the menacing words through clenched teeth, the same uncontrollable rage boiling to the surface I saw last week before I ran to my dad’s, and it once again has me moving away from him. This time though, he stops and takes a moment to breathe, rather than let his anger explode out of control. Still, when he speaks again, it’s through clenched teeth. “What about Calliope?”
“That’s exactly what I’ve been telling you!” I reach down for my stomach. “This could have been Calliope. It was Calliope. And I wouldn’t trade her to take everything that happened back, even if it had been worse. I wouldn’t even consider it. Not for a second.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about. I mean, if you don’t…” He chokes slightly over his words, so he has to swallow and change direction. “Calliope is here, real, and she needs you. You’re her mother and right now, what you’re talking about could leave her in this world without you. I lost my mother at four and all that I have left of her are a couple flashes of a hairbrush. Calliope’s not even two, Anastasia. She’ll have nothing. She won’t even remember you.”
That hits me harder than anything he’s said so far. The pain in the last part of that statement is almost unfathomable, and I have to turn around again so he doesn’t see the tears welling in my eyes. Half of me expects his touch, though it never comes. He lets me cry softly to myself, letting me feel everything he just said to me.
“This is real too,” I say at last.
“I saw you during the ultrasound, the moment you saw the heartbeat. This is real. You can pretend it isn’t all you want, but it is. I heard what Dr. Baker said, I hear the pain in your voice… but that does not make this an easy decision for me.”
“I don’t expect it to be easy. I expect you to be rational.”
I blink, then look away again. I can feel the fight inside me dying away and the feeling that takes its place is dark, like a cloud rolling across a clear blue sky that bleeds the color from everything around me. I feel an echo of oppressive hopelessness swirling menacingly over me, calling me into it’s deadly depths like a misplaced lighthouse in the middle of a storm.
It’s everything I fear, and I feel it creeping towards me with a kind of inevitability that can’t be stopped, except by the warmth and light emanating from my womb.
“I need some time to think about it,” I say, numbly.
His head rolls back with frustration, but he doesn’t scream at me anymore. He clenches his jaw, pulls his lips tightly together, and starts to nod.
“Fine. I’ll go back to Escala tonight. But I’m coming home tomorrow, and we are going to make a decision.”
“I don’t plan on changing my position.”
He swallows, then starts toward me. I nearly trip and fall to the floor in my hurry to be engulfed in his arms. He holds me so tightly against him, it’s like he’s ready to fight a tug-of-war against death to keep hanging on.
“I love you, and I won’t survive without you.” He leans his forehead against mine. “Your heart beats, my heart beats. Please remember that.”
I nod, and his lips melt into mine.
An hour later, I’m home and am greeted with the sounds of Calliope’s misery filled cries the moment I come through the door. Mackensie has her in her arms, while Gail hovers over them with her favorite pink elephant in hand, but my baby just wants to scream. Big alligator tears roll down her cherry red cheeks, and the sight of them makes my nipples ache.
“Oh, Calliope,” I say, reaching for her the moment I step into the kitchen. Her gray eyes lock with mine, and she nearly throws herself from Mackensie’s grip in an attempt to get to me. I catch her just in time to keep her from tumbling to the floor, while she suctions to me like an octopus wrapping around her prey. Her tears stop almost the moment I have her, replaced instead with a whimpered ‘mama’ that she repeats into my blouse over and over again.
“She’s been like that since you left,” Kensie says, drooping onto a barstool and laying over the top of the counter. “I’ve tried everything.”
I reach up and place a hand on her forehead, then kiss both of her cheeks. She doesn’t feel warm, and now that she’s in my arms, she’s fairly pacified.
“She misses her Daddy,” I say, hugging her against me and swaying back and forth.
“Should I take her to Escala?”
I shake my head. “No, I want her with me. Go ahead and take the day, Kensie. I’ve got her.”
“Are you not going into work?”
“Not today.” I lean back so I can look at Calliope’s face, and brush away a few stray hairs that have stuck to the tears on her cheeks. “She can hang out with me in my office here.”
“Alright,” Kensie says, though her tone expresses a great deal of reservation. “I’m just going to hang out in the staff residence then, if you need me.”
“Thank you.” I give her a kind, but dismissive smile, and start towards my office. Calliope’s playroom is just across from me, so I set up the baby gate at the end of the hall to keep her where she’s supposed to be, then keep both doors open for her to move between the rooms freely. Her toys end up scattered over the pretty rug on the floor that keeps my office from being too oppressive and masculine, the way Christian’s office feels. I find myself distracted on most of my phone calls and ignoring more emails than I probably should, but I can’t bring myself to care. I know what a dire position we’re in right now, I know that Phoenix is still in it’s baby stages and needs my nurturing to get it where it needs to be, I know the promises I’ve made… but the only thing that feels good right now is Calliope.
She makes the storm clouds part, she breaks through the darkness shrouding my thoughts like golden sunlight.
She’s what I’m fighting for, she’s what I have to lose. And yet, the battle waging between Christian and I, between my fear and my hope, and between reality and possibility doesn’t touch her. She is joy, and nothing can dampen that.
After yet another lonely dinner, Calliope and I move into the living room. I build her a squishy bed of pillows and blankets on the floor and turn on The Little Mermaid while I read through the edits Stevens has submitted for Phoenix. It’s a good arrangement, until Calliope starts trying to sing along with ‘Under the Sea,’ and everything else, work included, disappears.
I push my laptop to the side and move closer to her, brushing the tip of my nose against hers again and again until she starts to giggle. The sound makes my heartbeat quicken.
“I love you so much, Calli-lily,” I tell her. She lets herself fall forward so that her lips mash into mine, and I pull her into my lap while I smother her with kisses. Her laugher chimes around me like a bell that wards away the demons, clearing my mind and calming my soul. I lean back against the couch and stare into the eyes that mirror so perfectly the ones that own my heart. “Do you want to be a big sister?”
“No,” she replies, with the same kind of causal dismissal she would use if I offered her more peas or a cup of juice. I don’t know if it’s the exhaustion, the stress, or the start of a complete mental breakdown, but her response makes me laugh so hard, I nearly lose my grip on her. She laughs back, clearly having a fabulous time even though she has no idea what’s going on, and it only makes the warmth surrounding her glow brighter. I squeeze her as hard as I can.
“You really are your father’s daughter.”
“Yeah. Just like Daddy.”
My fingers find their way to her sides and I start to tickle her just as an unexpected commotion erupts in my entryway. I look up, hoping the beep from the security alarm is a prelude to Christian’s entrance, but instead, it’s followed by raised voices. Harper, who has spent the last hour silently camped out at the kitchen table, gets up with her hand on the holster attached to her hip. I nervously start to take Calliope in my arms, preparing to dart to the basement, then stop when Kate, clinging tightly to Kennedy, storms into the living room looking as though she’s just been through an ordeal.
I perk up immediately.
She lets out a huff and moves Kennedy higher up on her hip, pointing over her shoulder to the four hulking figures hovering in the shadows behind her. “That’s a little much, don’t you think?”
“Oh, yeah. Well… Christian.”
She nods her head in agreement, but rolls her eyes as she moves next to me on the couch. After placing Kennedy in the pillowy bed next to Calliope, she kisses my baby on the forehead and plops down on the couch next to me. There’s an accusation in her eyes that I don’t understand.
“Your husband is having a breakdown in your apartment.”
She shrugs. “Elliot is over there right now trying to talk him off the ledge, but apparently he’s completely fucking losing it. And there’s lots of alcohol involved so, you know, only good things can happen from this point forward.”
I shake my head in disbelief and start to get off the couch, but she reaches out and wraps her fingers around my wrist to stop me.
“Ana. I know you had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and now Christian is on a rampage.” She hesitates, which is unusual for Kate. “What happened?”
I collapse back into the sofa, fighting against the pinprick sting of tears at the corners of my eyes. The darkness my afternoon with Calliope managed to keep at bay, starts to seep through the cracks in the armor around me, and I feel myself falling into the pain-filled chasm Christian and I have found ourselves on opposite sides of once again without any idea how I’ll ever climb out.
“It’s twins,” I tell her, and the concern on her face is instantly replaced with joy.
“Twins?! But Ana, that’s amazing!”
I give her a dark glare that drains away her relief like water through a sieve. “It’s going to be like last time. The doctor told me that I was already at high risk for another placental abruption, twins makes it a certainty. And the scarring from my first abruption could make this one worse. Much worse.”
In the exact same way I watched it happen with Christian, then Luke, then my father, a look of abject horror sweeps across her face. Her color fades, her mouth drops open, and her eyes reflect a kind of terror I can’t let myself feel. She blinks wildly for a few minutes, processing what I’ve said and somehow coming up more lost.
“He flew in my doctor from Cambridge,” I continue. “I thought maybe she was overreacting or letting my history cloud her actual, medical opinion, because everything she told me just got worse and worse. But I stopped by my regular obstetrician’s office and when she looked at the charts… well, she didn’t even give me the slim ray of hope Dr. Baker did. She told me the risk is so bad that the states with the strictest abortion laws have exemptions for this situation. ‘Danger to the life of the mother.’”
The quote tastes bitter on my tongue.
“Jesus.” The word is filled with hurt and disbelief, in the exact same tenor that resonates inside of me. She curls into herself a little as she pushes back into the cushions, then blinks back at me with a kind of sympathy that tells me she doesn’t have the sage words or wisdom to guide me forward. “What are you going to do?”
A tear breaks over my waterline, and I dash it away before more can follow. “I don’t know. I hear what the doctor’s are telling me, I understand what it means, and I can feel what it’s doing to Christian… but I just can’t do it.”
“Yeah, choice. I don’t choose this. I don’t want this. I—“ My eyes fall on Calliope, who has started drifting off with her cousin, and the argument inside of me changes. I don’t know how, I don’t know what to… and the frustration I feel in that confusion breaks the last of my self-control. I dissolve into all consuming tears, and Kate wraps all the way around me.
“I know, Ana. You’re a mother protecting her children. Of course you can’t.”
“Am I though?” I shake my head and pull away from her, tears still streaming down my face as I unload everything on her that I can’t carry alone anymore. “What if I don’t survive, Kate? What if it happens exactly the way it happened last time, except I don’t wake up? I’ll leave Christian absolutely devastated, alone, with three kids under the age of two. Even if it’s just Calliope… He’s twenty-four, he could live another seventy years. I couldn’t even fathom having to live through that amount of time without him. How can I risk putting him through that?”
There’s a vision that runs through my mind then, one I’ve seen over and over again since I took that pregnancy test. Christian and I tossing the kids into the rust colored piles of leaves beneath the giant trees in our backyard. It suddenly disappears. There’s no laughter from my daughter, no blissful happiness behind the smile of the man I love. It’s just gone. A picture of Calliope’s graduation takes its place, but as I disappear from the image, the pride on Christian’s face changes to regret and longing, while Calliope smiles through a deep kind of sadness I can feel the permanence of.
“So… are you going to terminate the pregnancy?” Kate’s nervous voice breaks through the picture. I bite my lip while the images dissolve from my mind and slowly shake my head.
“I can’t. There’s absolutely no way I could go through with it, and even if I could, I’d never be able to live with myself.”
She nods solemnly, then wraps her arms around me again. I sit in her embrace for a few long, silent moments, then I bury my face in her shirt and let myself fall apart.
55 thoughts on “Chapter 46”
Well damn it! I was hoping for some good news but that was just HORRIBLE! My heart is breaking for them. Literally breaking. I’m just reminding myself that there is a HEA in the end. You did say that right? It may be with one, 2, or 3 kids but there is aHEA
Yes, I did say that.
It’s high risk but not impossible. Hopefully Christian can come around because Ana won’t be able to get past it if she has to terminate. Maybe Grace needs to talk to both of them.
that’s a tough one, choosing between your life and your children especially after hearing the heartbeats
I also think (my personal opinion) that you are doing an amazing job with this story since people keep needing assurance that this is a HEA, keep the drama and happiness going because we know that is what makes a great story, I’m glad you started writing again because I LOVE it!
Thank you, I needed that reassurance. Even my Beta was like… “I hate that you made us mad at Christian, and now we’re supposed to just be on his side…” lol
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I’m so loving this story line! Love a little Kate and Kennedy. Each opinion was perfectly executed, can’t wait for the next update
I vote its monday again.. j/k (but am I?)
But you’re killing me.. Im waiting for the dam to break and Im not sure Ill be able to handle it😅 I keep trying to guess what can happen next. Whats gonna bring these two together. Either decision will break them and their hearts. Theyre both right in their feelings and this isnt easy. So whats going to happen to make them agree and heal with whatever way they go?
. I also feel something more sinister is lurking.. maybe kim…?
Ugh love this story! Theres nothong more than I love then being kept on my toes.. even if it might kill me slowly with anticipation…
I’m worried about the multiple threats to Ana that no one even TELLS her about! I mean, even LUKE didn’t tell her about the latest threat. Really glad Taylor DID call Luke—made me feel a LOT better about Taylor that no matter WHAT is going on between Christian and Ana, he still makes SURE Ana is protected with someone they KNOW will put Ana first!
And I KNOW Ana shouldn’t live in perpetual fear, but there seem to be MULTIPLE threats coming her way lately! Plus, we NOW have potentially embittered GP people and Scott still out there, who I HOPE is gone for good at this point. But given how many people from their past have come back to haunt them, Ana and Christian’s luck would seriously need to change!
So I have that heavy “sinister” what-am-I-forgetting-is-behind-the-corner feeling as well!
Oh what a big decision to make. But het medical science is more advance every year and also, some pregnancy after a serious one is better. I had my sister in law as a proof. So bedrest and stress free one.
I just love this story so much with all its twists and turns! Thank you for another wonderful chapter. Looking forward to new chapters is about the only thing I like about Monday’s. Haha
I can’t wait to see how things pan out. If I were betting I would put money on the arrival of the twins being quite the event and perhaps not as controlled as a certain billionaire would like. So excited for future chapters!!!
I just don’t have any words. You pull all these emotions out of me… I’ve got tears running… I’ll be on the edge of my seat waiting for the outcome.
That is exceptionally tough to know! Feel so sorry for them. They were informed the worst and the high risks. Ana and Christian are not giving up. A miracle needs to happen, together with improved science. Thanks, Tara, for the fantastic chapter. It has us torn yet know that mama love is absolute and unconditional. Cant wait to find out more.
Ahhhhhh! I need more now lol. Such a good chapter. What a tough situation to be in still hoping she keeps the babies. Christian is still being a D(@! though.
Amy chance you can update earlier? I can’t wait till next Tuesday morning.
Sorry, Monday morning is what I’ve got.
Quite frankly, I had sworn I was done with this story two chapters ago with the way Christian had acted. And I’m still FAR more wary than Ana about how Mr. I-Will-Have-My-Way will act moving forwards. BUT I am also confident in Tara’s writing—there has never been a corner she hasn’t been able to write herself out of, and I need to have faith.
At least Christian used his WORDS here. And yes, he made some valid arguments. But he is still not HEARING Ana. It CANNOT be all about him, and no matter what, that is still what we are really dealing with here. Mr. Control Freak hasn’t found anything yet that he couldn’t get around, and this situation, especially, is not something he was prepared for. Which, frankly, IS ridiculous—Ana got pregnant while on birth control before, so if he was SO afraid of the possibilities, there SHOULD have been some discussions and a decision made to prevent pregnancy BEFORE the situation occurred, not after. Sigh, I’m back to being angry at Christian again.
And he has now basically played EVERY emotional card at his disposal. He needs to REALIZE that he could be losing the time he has left with Ana, quite frankly. He needs to understand what it would feel like for ANA to have to terminate this pregnancy—for her, those babies are VERY real, and harming them is completely anathema to her. Even at the risk of her own life.
And Christian needs to realize that Ana’s very willingness to risk EVERYTHING for others and her EMPATHY is exactly what draws him to her. She wouldn’t be Ana without those characteristics. He NEEDS to see this through ANA’S EYES, no matter how hard it is for him to do. YES, there is SUBSTANTIAL RISK, but increasing Ana’s stress and staying apart from her is NOT what Christian needs to do and WILL be an even bigger regret if Ana does become a statistic.
I can manage to feel sorry for Christian. He is in a horrible nightmare he seemingly can’t wake up from, where he has seen the outcome before, barely saw Ana cheat death, which looks like a real virtual certainty now. BUT WHO WOULD ANA BE if he tried to override her decision now? And a “hollow Ana” is not a living Ana—and Christian should know that better than ANYONE. Ana would NOT be able to go about “normalcy” if she did what to her would be harming her own children.
And Christian NEEDS to remember how STRONG Ana is and how she has beaten the odds before. AND that he needs to NOT be adding to her stress right now. He can be SUPPORTIVE, or he can be a BURDEN to Ana—that really is what it amounts to now. And instead of grieving for someone who is NOT dead, he needs to be focused on increasing those odds and enjoying what they have NOW, since there is a real chance of loss down the road.
I certainly don’t envy anyone in this situation. Christian has now pled his case, he made valid points, but now he needs to LISTEN and realize that ANA HAS TO DECIDE what HER OWN QUALITY OF LIFE is and what she values. Those heartbeats are MORE than real for Ana, and Christian’s thinking that he does NOT “love” them is not a good enough reason to make ANA not love them.
Christian has been able to control EVERYTHING but this. He is going to HAVE to accept what he can control and quit guilting Ana. Certainly CALLIOPE is already showing the strains of going back and forth, and she is under 2 years of age.
I will be very interested to see how Christian handles the next conversation with Ana. That will show his real character and if he is the man Ana believes him to be.
OMG, this is so sad 😥 I’m happy and excited about the twins. I’m still pissed with Christian about the vasectomy. Ana needs his support NOW, more than ever. Instead, he’s being selfish and wallowing in how he feels. He knows Ana takes motherhood seriously and she would never be able to terminate her pregnancy. So, he needs to get his head out of his ass, go home, and help Ana through this. Ana can work from home starting now, if she wants. I know he’s scared, so is Ana, but Christian is going about this all wrong. Having a vasectomy, scheduling an abortion, flying in her doctor from Boston to (I feel) scare her into aborting…smh! Christian needs to learn that he can’t control everything! I hope Elliot can knock some sense into Christian.
Another great chapter ❤
This may be the first time I want a time jump.
It’s also interesting that Christian is obviously having a COMPLETE, drunken meltdown right now (serves him right, says the little voice in the back of my head.). Like it or not, I think ANA MADE HER POINT to Christian that even if she KNEW it would cost her life to have Calliope, she would have had no personal regrets to produce Calliope and would willingly die for her to exist. And Christian HAS to relate to that—we all know from the Outtakes, especially the one of the blackout at the office, that Christian ADORES his daughter.
And Christian clearly DOES want the twins–can’t help himself. He HEARD those little heartbeats and clearly can’t sit well with the idea of snuffing them out, since the outcome is NOT certain. That is an awful place to be, of course.
But Christian ALSO had to have HEARD Ana say very clearly that she IS willing to risk her life for these babies. They are already EVERYTHING to her, and they are worth the risk to her. So how can Christian override THAT, when he said he wanted to give Ana everything? So Christian is just not being able to deal with it all, and is now drunk and Elliot’s problem. To be a fly on THAT wall right now.
OH TARA—I think it is safe to say we ALL want the Christian and Elliot OUTTAKES for that drunken meltdown!
And I think Christian ALSO knows what Ana’s decision is going to be—she can’t get rid of the twins. And he knows that. And he also knows that he no longer can say that he doesn’t “love” and want them either. So he can either manage his pain and fears and SUPPORT Ana and appreciate EVERY MINUTE they currently have, or guarantee his own more painful solitude AND adding to Ana’s AND Calliope’s stress. SO LET’S HOPE Christian is having his own “breakthrough” moment. Again, REALLY WANTING THAT OUTTAKE right now!!! (Grin!)
Putting it on the outtake list now 😉
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I even admit that I want the OUTTAKE to be the very NEXT thing I read, but if we got that instead of the next chapter, the others would probably try to harm me!!! But I REALLY am dying to know what Christian is saying and doing over at the apartment right now. AND what ELLIOT is saying in return. Because this SHOULD be something CLOSE TO ELLIOT’S HEART as well—I mean, he nearly lost KATE from his desire to not have children at all. GRANTED, that was a different circumstance, but IN A WAY, Elliot’s refusal to have children stemmed for his OWN reaction to everything traumatic that had happened within his family. But Kate WANTED a child so much, and Elliot came around and clearly LOVES being a father. AND knows what his attitude and stress did to BOTH himself and Kate.
So I can see Elliot having A LOT to say to Christian about how he is handling this pregnancy. Elliot can both sympathize AND remind Christian of what is really important MOVING FORWARD. Well, assuming Christian is sober enough to intake ANYTHING at this point. AND at what point in the conversation that he got drunk in the first place!
AND the fact that Christian got so drunk TENDS to tell me that he no longer even trusted his OWN words to Ana about how he feels about the Twins. So YEP, STILL WANTING THAT OUTTAKE NOW!!!! (After all, once Christian sobers up, presumably he will be ready to talk to Ana! So that OUTTAKE could contain EVERYTHING, including his rationale!!!!) Okay, will TRY to stop pressuring for that Outtake. . . .maybe. . . .(GRIN!)
If I posted it now, it would spoil lots of things!!!! Also I have to write it lol
Que triste, pense que en la consulta tendrían mejores noticias.
Espero y puedan encontrar una solución que nos los dañe en el proceso.
Difficult to make decision but it is Ana’s choice and with the advancement in modern medicine, seven months premature deliveries are not such a big deal anymore. Giving it all up because of Christian’s fear of her dying is succumbing to fear instead of hope. Her job at Grey Publishing should not be a priority anymore and she has the power to avoid stress that she ignored just to prove herself that she can do the job. She has to prioritize what is more important to her now, protect the growing babies or as editor in chief of Grey publishing. Christian should learn to accept the pregnancy if he love and value Ana that much. He should be supportive of her instead of adding more stress to her, worrying more about morbidity instead of being alive. Christian does not even think what could happen to Ana’s mental and emotional well being if she terminates the pregnancy just to satisfy him. A happy pregnant woman should have a better mental outlook than a stressed worried unhappy one. Thanks for the update and I am just rambling
now so just ignore me.
I DO hate that this all happens AT ONCE for Ana—being re-absorbed into Grey Publishing, KNOWING how her employees are angsty and need her leadership. AND GP personnel ALSO up in arms about losing their OWN person and needing hand-holding. ALL at a time when Ana has little resources to spread.
But Ana knows EXACTLY how to handle the personnel—so much so that Christian, once again, is impressed by her actions. Of course, I’m still rankled at Christian having inadvertently ADDED to Ana’s stress through the whole buying-out of Carmen’s company, JUST because he couldn’t stand the THOUGHT of even losing to his own wife. Which doesn’t help me feel better about him NOW, given all that is going on.
At the same time, Christian is RIGHT to want Ana at the head of Grey Publishing. He can SEE firsthand how much of a LEADER she is. And that EMPATHY of hers works well, here, as well, as she KNOWS how to talk with her employees. Quite frankly, it was the whole way he handled this at the same time his control tendencies kicked into high gear, making Ana feel humiliated and SO MUCH else that he should NOT have done that coincided with the pregnancy. AT LEAST Christian made it CLEAR in this chapter how much he RESPECTS Ana and what she can do. He KNOWS she is the BEST thing for Grey Publishing, and THAT was why he did what he did, not to embarrass or deliberately make Ana feel helpless or worthless.
But I DO hate that ALL this happens NOW for Ana. She really needs to be at Grey Publishing, front and center, on a daily basis, but that won’t be her first priority now. It can’t be. I mean, in a little over 2 months, IF she is able to even make it that long, she will need to be bedridden. While Ana COULD still work from home, who knows what she will be medically allowed to do—it will probably all depend on her STRESS levels. And Christian does NOT need to be adding to them!!
Holy shit! Poor Ana! Poor everyone! Terrible choices all the way around. I can empathize; I had a rough twins pregnancy, too. It’s no joke. You are capturing the angst perfectly. Girding my loins for some rough waters ahead.
With HEA you mean no Christian or Ana’s death, right? I don’t consider this a spoiler 🥺
I think I also would prefer to save my babies instead of choosing my own life because I wouldn’t be able to live with that decision but… even I partly sided with Christian. I totally understand his point. Is reckless. And I believe that he can feel something for their babies after hearing their heartbeat, even if he denies it. Even if things go well and nobody dies, it is innecesary to risk everything.
However, seeing that Ana isn’t able to terminate, I think Christian should stop his attitude and try to make things go a smooth as possible for her, in order to try to make her pregnancy increase its possibilities. And I suposse he’ll end doing that once he stops being mad at Ana.
Crap, even after his outburst and his unconsulted vasectomy, I can feel his pain and feel sorry for him. After all, he’s terrible scared and I can relate with him.
Just hope everything goes okay in the end. Meanwhile, you will have me here suffering with each new chapter.
Thank you for another wonderful chapter!
Lots of love,
The tears flow and angst is prevalent, but I have faith that the strength they have TOGETHER will finally come to the forefront. Christian needs to understand that he is Ana’s everything not just the other way around and these are their children. Taking the burdens out of the focus can only help achieve more calmness. Again, love this story and your talent-makes Mondays worthwhile☺.
He should know by now she won’t abort, he should be home with her and not drinking as if life has ended. Sometimes I forgot Christian is just 24. They should be looking for ways to manage the situation which I believe can be done, cos they know what to expect and are better prepared.
Tara your story telling has no end. Such a horrible situation all the way around. As others have said Christian needs to come home and support his wife because if she terminates those babies she mentally won’t be able to function. Who benefits from that?
The stress of it all!! This is one of the only stories, where I genuinely feel their pain! 😭😭😭😭
I just keep reminding myself, it’s all going to be ok. I tell you though, if this was a book, I would have to read the last page, just to make sure it’s all good!
Damn it, you’re just too good at writing!
I know we’re in for a ride, I’m buckled in the back seat, with a Whisky in hand…let’s do this! 😳😆❤️
I just thought of something… even if Christian could afront the idea of having twins, usually bed rest mesns no sex. Could he really go four or five months without sex?? Just random night thoughts 😂😂😂
You are the most awesome of awesome! I love this. I wish you didnt tell us it was a happy ending. I live drama and suspense. We got it here!
Can you tell me chapter that it starts when Ana found out she was pregnant with Callie? I want to get the feeling of what went on again through those months. If you can. Thanks 💋💋💞
I think the halloween party where she starts having symptoms is chapter 8 of Stronger?
Ok one more question. When did christian cheat on ana. Chapter? What did he do? Blowjob?
He didn’t cheat on her… There was that one time where she thought he was cheating with Gia, but that was all just in her head.
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Oh I really feel bad for both of them. What a horrific decision to make. I can’t imagine this. Is Ana being selfish in wanting to continue with the pregnancy?? Is Christian being selfish in wanting to not loose Ana? What happens to the Christian and Cali if she goes through with this and passes away?? What happens if she goes through with this an lives??
Damn… this just sad…
I hope the stress of Christian’s intense desire to save Ana from possible death as the result of the twins’ births doesn’t cause a miscarriage. His argument that Calliope would suffer from her mother’s death, and then probably forget Ana, except from photos, is a real consideration. If the twins survive, they would need immediate care, too, and a designated mother figure. Ana should take a practical look at this situation after a good night’s sleep.
OMG I love your story and how you write about Ana and Christian.
I never want this story to end!!!
I hope Christian will eventually apologise.
Possible writing idea??…
Can you write like 20 epilogues at the end that go into the future with Ana and Christians kids with and how they grow up eg embarrassing teenage moments?
Please keep writing loving this story
That’s my plan! Haha
Just love it
I’m with Christian but he hasn’t got a hope.
Can they freeze them at this stage? I have no idea.
Christian needs to realise that doctors make mistakes and somethings get it wrong . Yes,Dr Baker has never delivered a full term pregnancy with the same complications that ana has, there’s always a first time. Ana coming out of the coma was a miracle and the twins delivery could be a miracle. Looking forward to the next chapter. I’m hoping that if ana does decide to continue with her pregnancy Christian will lose the attitude and be there for her. Stress is not good for her and will contribute to the dangers that Christian is so worried about!
OMG Twins!!! I totally understand both Ana and Christians point of view and the reservations they are both having. Brining Ana’s doctor from Cambridges was a bit over the top but so Christian because he is scared of losing her. Dr. Baker didn’t say that Ana couldn’t make it through the pregnancy just that it would be a bit more difficult. BUT now they know how Ana works, they should be able to take every precaution. I hope Ana surprises them all and delivers like a trooper, unscathed. Hopefully with Ana being on bed rest for several months before the delivery everything will go perfectly? Crossing fingers and toes.
What I forgot to mention was that those employees at Greenwich should be happy as punch that Grey bought them out, since Carmen was going to shut it down they all would all of been out of a job.
Hands down better than the original books. Your attention to detail, original plots/twists, emotions of characters, cliff hangers. You have us all on the edge of our seats and anxious for the next post (I can honestly say I look forward to Mondays bc of you).
This is such a heart wrenching situation. CG will rise to the occasion, I mean he figured out how to defy the laws of gravity with Endurance surely he can figure out a plan to keep Ana on bed rest and monitored during this extremely high risk pregnancy. He can freaking build a new wing in the hospital for them to live in until birth so an OR is always on stand by.
Can’t wait for outtakes on this topic, oh to be a fly on the wall in Escala… BTW how’d he end up back there? At the end of the last chapter he’d come back home.
He said in this chapter that he would go back for one more night so that Ana could have some space to think about what the doctor told her. But he’s coming back tomorrow, planning to fight with her more.
You are such a doll Thank you 💋💋💞
The “planning to fight with her more” sounds definitive, meaning that my hope of what Elliot could do to possibly talk Christian around is obviously not going to happen or else didn’t work.
I freely admit that what I hoped Elliot would say would be somewhere along the lines of the following:
“Christian, you need to accept the reality of this situation. You KNOW Ana and you know, in your heart, what she is going to feel she has to do. She is going to fight for those babies. So you can either help her or hinder her in her mission. Ana is the most stubborn person on the face of this earth when she is fighting for someone she loves—you ought to know that better than anyone. She did NOT give up on you, no matter how much you hurt her in the past. And YOU were the one in the hospital that pointed out that Ana WOULD fight to come back to Calliope and all of us. And the doctors had written her off there, Christian, and you know it. Not a single one of them advocated for Ana to remain on life support—they all said she was gone. YOU said she wouldn’t give up. So why are you giving up on her now? The doctors do NOT know everything or how this will go down in the end. They can PREDICT some bad things—but we know what those things are, now. And we can prepare and do a lot for them. Christian, you can afford to BUILD her a hospital room in your mansion and have a nurse and doctor full-time there with her. MAKE that a condition with Ana that if she is going to do this, she WILL follow doctor’s recommendations about bed-rest and everything that will have the best chance of keeping her alive through this. Ana beat the odds before with no other medical personnel out there saying she would. And had you listened to them THEN, she wouldn’t be with us now. And Christian, if the absolute worst is going to happen, then you are going to have wanted EVERY single moment with Ana to have been the most wonderful you can make it. But Ana has been strong enough to get through every other roadblock thrown in her way. She NEVER stops fighting the uphill battle for those she loves—she can’t NOT fight for those twins, anymore than you could stop fighting for her despite the odds. Because I don’t think Ana could ever live with herself if she voluntarily gave up on those babies, so you stand to lose her in an even uglier way, Christian, if you try to force her to do what she believes is wrong. So support her. And fight WITH her. It has always worked for the two of you in the past.” This is what I would expect of Elliot.
I DO have a question, though. ARE WE SUPPOSED TO IGNORE THE COVID OUTTAKE NOW? Because obviously, the twins that Christian and Ana have THERE are much older than these twins. So if that outtake is still accurate and in cannon, then there is either a miscarriage or accident or intentional termination of the pregnancy. I was rather assuming that the promise of a HEA meant that the covid Outtake was invalid now and these are the twin boys that will now be born earlier.
There’s a lot in this response that’s going to make the next chapter interesting haha.
Yes, the Covid outtake should be ignored. I deleted it awhile ago.
This is a tough situation for all of them. There’s a lose situation no matter how you look at it. Great writing!
You know Mrs. Wishing I just saw that pic of you. You are so pretty. I like the part, but I don’t know how you usually part your hair. I’m sure it’s beautiful. So that comment I made about Christian cheating. When I go to sleep while reading 50 Shades stories I usually dream about them. Either the one I was just reading or I mix the ones from other stories and even I can be in them. Wierd I know. You read my way out posts and decided not to show them because it over the edge 🤣😂🤣😂 So I figured that was where I got that thought. It was the apartment in Seattle and I think he was at A&K door. He told her what happened. But if course this could have been in my dream that swirled around stories. 💋💋💞
100% the part that got to me was Christian being probably the most vulnerable you’ve ever written him, “I only have a few flashes of a hairbrush”. Bravo. Every. Single. Chapter. Your writing just gets stronger and stronger.