“Ana!” I yell. The relief of hearing her voice is indescribable. She’s alive. I now know, she is alive. “Ana, oh god, Ana.”
“Chr-istian,” she says again, and I can hear that she’s crying.
“Are you okay, baby? Have they hurt you? Where are you?”
“I-I don’t know. I’m in a room and it’s dark. I don’t think there are windows.” I can barely understand her through her tears.
“Oh god, Ana. Don’t worry, baby. I’m going to find you. Do you understand? I’m going to find you and I’m going to bring you home.”
“Teddy?” She asks.
“He’s fine. He’s perfect. He misses you.”
“I’m so scared.”
“Are you hurt, Ana?” I ask, my voice pleading. Her answer is cut off by a loud noise in the background.
“Oh god,” She whimpers. “No!” She screams and my body seizes with terror. I hear a succession of loud thumping noises accompanied by her screams.
“Ana!” I scream into the phone, and then it goes dead. No. No, no, no, no, no! I take the phone away from my ear and try to redial, try *69, but there is no number to call back. Fuck! They’re hurting her. She was screaming. My stomach heaves and I have to run into the bathroom. I vomit violently as my body begins to shake with fear and anger. Taylor bursts through the bathroom door followed by Elliot, Ethan, and my father.
“Mr. Grey, we heard you scream. What’s wrong?”
I slide the cell phone across the bathroom floor and it hits Taylor’s feet.
“When I got into the bedroom,” I explain, “the package was on the bed. That cell phone was inside and it started ringing. I answered and it was Ana.”
“Ana?” Carrick exclaims. “She’s okay? Did she say where she was?”
“She was crying. She said she’s in a dark room with no windows.”
“Did she say anything about who was keeping her, sir? Does she have any idea of who it is?”
“I didn’t get to ask her. I talked to her for maybe 30 seconds and then I heard… I heard her scream. He was beating her.” I whirl around to the toilet as I vomit again.
“Shit, Christian,” Elliot says.
“I’ll get Welch on the line,” Taylor says, “See what he can find out from this phone.” He disappears through the door and I want to run after him, go with him, but my body is seized with fear. I’m shaking.
“Let’s get him off the floor,” Ethan says, and he and Elliot come forwards and heave me to my feet.
“Wait a minute,” Carrick says, as his eyes fall on the night stand. “Isn’t that Ana’s blackberry?”
I nod my head. “He was here. He left the phone and the package.”
“Fuck,” Elliot swears. “Christian, maybe you shouldn’t stay here.”
“No, if he comes here, I want to be here. If he comes here again, I’ll fucking kill him myself.”
“Maybe Teddy should come stay with us?” Carrick suggests.
“No, I need him with me. He can’t be away from me until Ana is back. Not until I get Ana back.”
“Let’s get downstairs. Mia, Kate, and Grace are still looking for Ana’s phone. They need to know what happened.”
I nod my head. Elliot and Ethan let me go as I test my body to see if I’ve regained enough composure to stand. When I’m steady, we head down the stairs to tell the girls.
“If you’re staying, I’m staying,” Mia says, after we’ve explained the events from upstairs.
“Me too,” Kate declares.
“No,” Elliot says. “Absolutely not.”
Kate glares at him. “Elliot, Christian can’t stay here alone. He’s going to need help with Teddy.”
“Christian has security and staff.”
“I’m staying too,” My mom answers. Everyone looks at her, and my dad shakes his head in disbelief.
“I won’t leave my son alone when he’s being stalked by a mad man. We should all stay. The more numbers the better.”
“I’ll increase security,” I assure them. I think back to the early months of Ana’s pregnancy when she had finally convinced me to ease security on our family. She hated having an entourage follow her around and with Jack no longer a problem, she didn’t believe the security was still necessary. I stupidly agreed. Why the fuck did I agree? If she’d had Sawyer with her in Australia, none of this would have happened.
Except she would have been on that damn plane.
No, that would have been better. Hannah was fine, Ana would have been fine too. As it is, I have no idea where she is and I know she’s being hurt. A horrific image crosses my mind of strange hands running over her naked body and I have to swallow back bile. I can’t think about that. I don’t know anything like that has happened and if I dwell on it, I’ll go crazy.
“Mom, will you bring Teddy to me? I need to hold him.”
“Of course dear.”
“Taylor,” I say turning to him. My voice lacks its usual undertone of authority and it bothers me.
“I want you to hire back the security team and anyone else good that you know of. Pay them whatever they want.”
“Yes, sir,” he responds and heads off to his office to make phone calls.
My mother appears with Teddy and I take him eagerly, feeling the smallest amount of my anxiety melt away and even that small amount is liberating.
There is tension in the house. Mrs. Jones has the day off so my mother is cooking lunch for everyone. We’ve all been awake for over 24 hours but none of us are able to sleep. The only thing we think about is Ana.
I’m sitting in my study, Teddy sleeping soundly in my arms as I read the email from Welch on my laptop. Welch has tracked the serial number and found that it was sold from the Walgreens on Pike St, less than half a mile from Escala. He’s got contacts with both the local police and the FBI, and is working on getting a warrant for the sales records for that day. Hopefully the fucker used a credit card and we’ll be able to connect the name to the purchase. Welch is also working on hacking into the store’s security camera footage so that we can see everyone who has entered the store over the past few days. Taylor is scouring Escala with his team, including the newly re-acquired Sawyer, to see if there has been anyone in my apartment.
I feel a little better, knowing my team is on it. It feels like we’re making progress. I’m going to find her. I’m going to bring her home and I’m never going to let her go again. I look down at Teddy.
“Don’t worry, precious baby. I’m going to find her. I’m going to bring Mommy home to us.”
There is a commotion outside my office door and I look up to see Mia trying to keep a blonde woman out of my office.
“You’re not welcome here,” Mia snaps.
“Get out of my way, you silly girl,” the woman says and my gut clenches as I realize who she is.
“Elena?” I ask hesitantly. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
She pushes her way past Mia who I brush away with my hand and she closes the door behind her.
“Christian,” She purrs, a pout on her face. I stare at her suspiciously.
“You shouldn’t be here.”
“How could I not be here? I heard about the flight and that Anastasia was on it.”
“She wasn’t,” I say coldly, straightening in my chair so I sit taller. Her eyes fall on Teddy in my arms.
“Is that him?” She asks. There is a kind smile on her face but I can hear the undertone of disgust in her voice. “Is that your son?”
“Yes,” I respond.
“Theodore, isn’t it? But, Christian why is he in here with you? Surely there is a nanny that should be taking care of the… baby.”
“He’s fine here.”
“Hmm. Can I hold him?” She asks.
“No!” I snap, holding Teddy tight against my chest. Teddy is Ana’s. Ana would be furious if Elena got anywhere near him. Ana will be furious that Elena came here at all.
“You should leave,” I say.
“Christian, I just came to check on you. I know how difficult this must be for you.”
“Your concern is noted but entirely unnecessary, Elena,” I say flatly. “I don’t need your support.”
“Oh, I didn’t think you needed support,” She says slyly. “I thought I could give you something else that I know you need.”
I narrow my eyes at her as she sashays across the room and sits on my desk.
“Christian, we both know that best way to relieve stress and I’ve come to offer my assistance.”
“If you think I would ever touch you again…” I growl.
“Oh god, Christian. I wasn’t talking about myself.” She glares down at me, her domme persona in full effect. I stare back just as hard so she knows I’m not intimidated.
“I’m going to make some calls and have a suitable submissive delivered to you,” She says, her voice softening. “She’ll give you a feeling of control. Do you have a playroom here or should I have her sent to Escala?”
“I have no interest in a submissive, Elena,” I say darkly. “I am a happily married man. Now get the fuck out of my house before I have security escort you out.”
“Now, Christian. I’m just looking out for you. I worry about you. If you don’t want me to send someone, I won’t. But you know it will help.”
“Like I said, I don’t want your help, now please leave.” I glare at her, but her eyes flick away from mine when her cell phone rings from her Chanel bag.
“Oh that must be James,” She says. “He’s my new toy. Feisty this one, he can take a lot of pai…” She looks down at her phone and frowns, but she answers it anyway.
“Hello? Who is this?” She looks down at me, her brow furrowed and then hands me the phone. I look at her suspiciously and take it.
“Hello, Mr. Grey,” the cold male voice answers. My breath stops.
“Where is she?” I demand.
“She’s right here,” the voice replies. “I’d give her the phone but she’s a little tied up right now.”
“I’ll fucking kill you,” I respond menacingly. “Let my wife go or I swear to god…”
“Now, Mr. Grey, I don’t really like your tone. You ought to be more polite to the man who holds your wife’s life in his hands.”
“What do you want?”
“I want you to suffer, Grey. Simple as that. And we’re going to start our little game by you sending your security team away.”
“If you think I’m going to let you get near anyone else in my family, you’re out of your goddamn mind.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Grey,” I hear a loud noise followed by Anastasia’s scream.
“Ana!” I yell, and I begin shaking again.
“How about now, Grey? Do you feel like sending your security away now?”
“Don’t lay another mother fucking finger on my wife you son of a bitch!” I roar into the phone and he sighs.
“I really don’t know why you have to make it this difficult, Grey.” There is another loud noise followed by an even louder scream. I can hear her agony.
“Stop,” I whimper. “Please. Please stop.”
“Your security?” The man asks.
“Gone. I’ll send them away. Just please, please don’t hurt my wife again.”
“Of course not, Grey. I’m a reasonable man. If you just do what I tell you to do, Anastasia will be fine. I’ve got to go now, Mr. Grey, but I’ll be in contact soon. Once your security has gone, that is.”
The phone goes dead and my hand drops to my desk as the pain washes over me.
“Christian, what happened?” Elena asks, reaching out to take her phone back. I jerk it out of her reach.
“How did he get your number?” I ask.
“Who? What are you talking about?” She replies and I can see the confusion on her face.
“The man who has my wife!” I demand. “How did he get your number?”
“What? I thought Anastasia was in a plane crash. Who has her?”
She doesn’t know. I look through the call history and see that the number had been blocked. The door to my office bursts open and nearly every one of my family members pours in.
“What the hell are you doing here?” My mother yells as she sees Elena. “Get out!”
“No,” I say. She turns her furious gaze to me.
“Christian, I thought I made it clear that you were to never see this woman again.”
“I haven’t, Mom. She shouldn’t have been here tonight, but now she needs to stay. I need her phone.” I turn to Taylor. “I got another call, on Mrs. Lincoln’s phone this time. Give it to Welch. See what he can find.”
Taylor comes forward and takes the phone. I stare down at my son and tremble.
“Look, Christian. You keep the phone. I’ll replace it,” Elena says, and she looks at Grace. “And, I’ll just see my way out. I’ll have the uh… matter we discussed delivered to Escala tomorrow. Come, or don’t come, it’s up to you.” She smiles down at me as she rises off my desk and walks out of the room.
There is an uncomfortable silence in the office until Elliot finally speaks.
“What did they say, Christian?”
“He wants me to send my security away,” I respond flatly, not taking my eyes of Teddy.
“Christian, you can’t send security away. Don’t you even think about it,” my mother says, panicked.
“I’m not going to, Mom. I won’t leave my son unprotected. I’m just going to have to wait it out to find out what this fucker wants.”
I spend the next few hours either on the phone with Welch or speaking with Taylor in my office, trying to come up with a plan of action. He and his team are to remain out of sight. They will watch my family without anyone knowing they are here. I know Taylor can avoid being found if he wants to be. It’s getting late and I can feel the sleepless nights starting to catch up with me. I’m exhausted but I’m terrified to sleep. I’m terrified I might miss something important, but even more so of the nightmares I know will come.
I head out to the living room, sit at my piano, and play. It doesn’t distract me the way it normally does but, since Gail has put down Teddy in the nursery, it’s the only thing I have. My family sits on the couch watching me play. Elliot has fallen asleep with his head in Kate’s lap, but no one else seems to want to go to bed. I focus on the notes, not allowing any thoughts to enter my mind, when I hear the doorbell. I jump up and run to the door, Carrick, Ethan, and Taylor on my heels. Taylor jumps out of sight next to the door and I think I see him send a silent hand signal to his team as they watch us over the CCTV. He nods at me and I wrench open the door and find a courier carrying another small brown package.
“Mr. Christian Grey?” He asks, and I have to swallow the lump in my throat to answer.
“Yes,” I say. He hands me a paper to sign. I scribble a half-hearted signature and take the package. Ethan remembers to tip the courier as I walk back into the house, ripping the package as I go. I’m at the kitchen counter when I finally get into it and I pull out a note and a stained towel.
“What is that?” Ethan asks. “What’s all over it.”
“Oh my god, is that blood?” My mother asks. I drop the towel and read the note.
I told you to send away your security, Mr. Grey.