I blame the storm outside that is keeping me from sleeping for posting another story... anyway, this is actually a story I have been writing for almost a year now. It's quite different from anything I have written before... so, this is set four years after the Charlie Tango incident. I know there are several stories which have started at this point, but there are only a few really good points in the books to start a what if type of story... I won't give too much away, but even if you hate this chapter, please wait until the second chapter before you decide that this is not a story for you... Because I have very little time to at the moment I aim to post once a week... usually around Wednesdays, so you'll get chapter 2 this Wednesday...
Disclaimer: All characters belong to EL James
"Have a nice evening, Miss Steele."
"Thank you, you too, Andrea." I mutter as I leave the office on the top floor of Grey House with Taylor following behind me.
When the doors of the elevator close, I take my six inch Louboutins off and lean against the wall of the elevator with a sigh.
"Tough week, Ana." Taylor says sympathetically.
"The last four years have been tough." I murmur and sigh. I feel old and tired. At the age of twenty-five, I feel constantly exhausted. I have no idea how I have survived the last four years and how I managed to keep my sanity, but somehow I have survived. I've grown in so many ways, changed and sometimes it amazes me that when I look into the mirror I still see the same girl I have always seen. Okay, so I am a little more polished than before, but still...
"Where to Ana?" Taylor asks when we reach the black Audi SUV.
"Home, I have missed Christian today." I get into the car and look out of the window lost in thoughts until we reach the house at the sound. I still remember the first time I saw it, when Christian brought me here to show me the view. How hopeful he looked, almost scared I wouldn't like it and how delighted he was when I told him that I love the house.
It was almost a year later that we finally moved in. I wanted it to be perfect. A home for Christian and I away from all the nosy reporters and people who I believed were my friends... or even family. The first to stab me in the back was Kate. I never saw it coming until one morning Elliot came over. He was devastated and broke up with her immediately. She had sold us all out for a story. She had given away intimate details of what had happened and everything that took place afterwards. I never talked to her again and now the only friends I have left are Elliot and Mia. Though I wouldn't refer to them as friends, they were my life savers and by now they are my siblings, just like Carrick and Grace have become my parents.
Ray passed away after being in a car accident shortly after my 22nd birthday. I thought it was the final straw for me, I had reached my breaking point when I lost him, but somehow I recovered only to lose my mother too. She is still alive, but we are no longer talking. She just doesn't understand why I am doing what I do. She thinks I need more time for myself and she never understood why I am working so hard. I know her concerns come from a good place, but I was just too tired to fight with her about it every time we talked on the phone.
I know Grace is still in contact with her, but I don't ask. She knows that I would want to know if anything would happen to my mom, but other than that I don't want any contact at all. People think that I have become distant and cold over the years, but what they don't understand is that I have to protect myself and there are only very few people who get to see the real Ana these days. I can't let anyone in, I have to protect myself and Christian.
When Taylor stops the car by the front door I wait for him to open the door for me and get out. We have made some compromises over the years. He calls me Ana and in return I always wait until he opens the doors for me, even if it is just here at home. I also never argue over the measures of security he puts in place, I know he means well and I have learned how much I need the security a long time ago.
Getting into the house I walk into the kitchen where Gail is cooking dinner.
"Good evening, Ana. Dinner in fifteen?"
"Sounds perfect, where is Christian?"
"In the family room with Mia."
"Thanks." I hurry upstairs and change into jeans and tank top, put my hair in a messy bun and hurry back downstairs and into the family room where Mia and Christian are snuggled up under a blanket in front of the TV watching Frozen for what feels like the thousandth time.
"Guess who's home?" I call out cheerfully and Christian's head whips around.
"Mommy!" She squeals, gets up and jumps into my arms.
"Hey baby girl, did you have a good time with Auntie Mia?" I ask her and she gives me her biggest smile.
"We had ice cream and watched Nemo and now Frozen and Auntie Mia told me a story about Daddy when he was a boy and Auntie Mia was just my age." She tells me and I smile even though I feel the tears burning in my eyes.
"Wow that sounds like you had a lot of fun, Chrissie."
"Lots and lots and lots of fun, Mommy." She tells me and I kiss the tip of her nose which makes her giggle. God, I love my daughter so much it scares me sometimes. She saved my life, without her I don't think I would have been able to go through all the heart-break and drama that have been the last four years of my life.
"That's good, now I want you to go and wash your hands, we are having dinner in 5 minutes, you can watch the rest of the movie after dinner."
"Okay, mommy." I put her down and she hurries of in the direction of the guest bathroom.
"Hi Mia, thanks for watching her today, I couldn't blow this meeting."
"It's okay, you know I love to hang out with my niece. So... how are you doing?" She asks and I want to roll my eyes at her, but I don't because I know this is just as hard for her as it is for me.
"I'm okay, I mean tomorrow I will be worthless, you know... I don't think I will ever be okay on that day, but otherwise I'll be fine. I have Chrissie, so I can't just give up and you know, the moment I show the slightest weakness the sharks are out to take me down and I won't ever let that happen."
"Yeah, give them hell, Ana. God Christian wou..."
"Please don't!" I whisper and bite my lip to stop it from trembling.
"Sorry, I know, it's the same for me. Okay, you know what, I have to leave now, but let's meet this weekend. Elliot wants to make a BBQ, are you and Chrissie coming over too?"
"Yes, he called me and Chrissie is excited to hang out with her Uncle Lelliot." I try to smile, but it's hard. We hug and she says goodbye to Chrissie before she leaves.
Chrissie and I sit down and she tells me all about her day with Mia while we are eating our mac and cheese. Chrissie could live on mac and cheese, but I am adamant about having her on a healthy diet, so she doesn't get it as often as she would like. After dinner we watch the rest of the movie together and then I give her a bath and wash her hair before she has to go to bed.
"Which book do you want me to read for you tonight, baby girl?" I ask her and she shakes her head.
"No book tonight, mommy. Me wants to know how you met daddy." For a second I hesitate, but then I take a deep breath and get into the bed next to her.
"So, when I met your daddy I was still in college. I lived with a fellow student at an apartment in Vancouver and she got sick. She asked me to go and do an interview for her with a businessman I had never heard of. I drove all the way to Seattle and do you know what happened when I walked into your Daddy's office?" I ask and she shakes her head.
"I tripped and fell head first into his office." I tell her and she giggles which is the most adorable sound on earth.
"Your Daddy helped me to my feet and when I looked into his eyes I fell in love."
"Was Daddy like Prince Charming mommy?" She asks and I laugh a little. Only if Prince Charming comes with contracts and whips these days...
"A little bit, but most of all your Daddy was the most caring, wonderful and loving man I have ever met in all my life. He made me feel special and loved every second I was blessed to spent with him. And you know what else? He would have loved you more than anything in this world and wherever he is now, I know that he is watching us and he couldn't be more proud to have such a wonderful little girl as his daughter."
"Mommy, don't cry. Grammy says that Daddy is with the angels. Angels are good, mommy."
"I know sweetie, mommy is just a bit silly today. How about I read a book to you, now?"
She nods and so I read to her until she is fast sleep. I get up, switch her night light on and turn the lamp off. Leaving her room I head down to work in my study for a little longer and then it is time. I make my way into the kitchen and grab a chilled bottle of Bollinger from the fridge, take a teacup from the cupboard and head over to security office, but before I can even knock Sawyer comes out.
"I'll get the car, Ana. Has Gail the baby monitor?"
"Yes, I gave it to her before I went to my study."
"Good and Ana, you should put a cardigan on, it's a bit chilly tonight." He says kindly and I get a cardigan while he gets the car.
After a twenty minute drive we arrive and a quick glance at my watch shows me that it is almost midnight. I walk towards my destination, knowing that Sawyer is going to follow me just enough so that he can see me, but not listen to what I am saying.
I sit down on the small stone bench and stare at the grave in front of me and like every time I am here I pray that I will wake up and this is nothing but a terrible dream. However, I know that this is not going to happen. Today it's been four years. Four years since I held Christian's hand as he quietly left this world forever. Four years since I last heard his voice, last saw his beautiful eyes and almost four years since I have allowed myself to really cry on any other day as today.
When Elliot called me to tell me that Charlie Tango was missing, I had this terrible feeling as if I was mentally preparing myself for the worst. Deep down though I still hoped all would end well. It was a little after midnight that we got the call that they had found two persons near a crashed helicopter and that they had been airlifted to the hospital.
We all went there as fast as we could and what the doctors told us was worse than anything that I could have ever imagined. Ros had very little injuries, but Christian who had tried to put the fire out, was close by when Charlie Tango exploded. The doctors told us that 96 percent of his body were burned and that it was a miracle that he was still alive. At first I stupidly thought we would get through this, that he could recover. My mind stubbornly refused to comprehend what it meant when 96 percent of the body are burned. And then I heard the words I will never forget.
"At this point death would be the best for Mr. Grey. You should prepare yourself to say goodbye now."
After that Elliot and Taylor had to hold me up, because my legs couldn't support me anymore. We all went into his room and seeing him there... I didn't even recognize him, but I held his hand and sat with him, refusing to leave the room. He was unconscious, but I still told him that my answer was yes, that it was meant to be my birthday present for him and shortly after that his heart stopped beating forever.
Until this day I can't remember the days that followed, it's all a blur. I barely remember the funeral. Only how my Dad and Elliot both held my hand the entire time and by some miracle I managed to get up and say something about Christian. I wanted each and every person to know what an amazing human being Christian had been. Not the ruthless businessman, but the real Christian. The man who thought he wasn't worthy of love, but was so full of love for the people closest to him.
Three days later Christian managed to shock me one last time, when at the reading of his will it turned out that he had changed his will the day after we had gotten back together. He left me everything that he owned, apart from 50 million for his parents, his siblings and grandparents as well as 50 million for Coping Together.
At first I didn't want anything, I wasn't able to even comprehend what this meant and it wasn't until Carrick advised me to sell GEH that I finally woke up and took control. GEH is Christian's legacy and I would never sell it. So, I made Ros the new CEO of GEH and I myself became President of GEH. It wasn't easy, but after a rather harsh set back in the first two years GEH is now making more profit than ever.
But what really saved my life was Chrissie. The day I found out that I was carrying Christian's child was the day that I knew he had never left me. Even though he is gone he has given me the most precious gift. Our daughter, a part of Christian that will be with me forever. The pregnancy wasn't easy, I nearly lost her and was on bed rest for nearly four months, but in the end I gave birth to a healthy girl that was welcomed by all the Grey's who all went with me into the delivery room. I wanted Christian's child to be born knowing that she is loved by a group of the most amazing people in this world. When she was born after nearly twenty hours of labor we were all crying, but for the first time in months it were happy tears.
I am brought back from my thoughts when the alarm on my phone goes off. I open the bottle of Bollinger and pour myself a cup of it. This has become my tradition. All the Grey's come here during the day, but I always come here on midnight of Christian's birthday. I can't be here with his family around, it is just too much for me. Whoever said that the loss of a loved one gets better with time lied. I feel the same pain as if he had just passed. I only learned how to keep the pain in for most parts, but it never went away, not even a tiny bit.
"I love you so much, Christian and I hope that wherever you are that you can see our beautiful girl. She is so much like you, sometimes it's scary how much I see you in her. She will give me hell when she turns into a teenager, I just know it. You probably would have wanted me to stay home with her, but you know, the three days a week I go to Grey House... I just need it, just sitting in your office makes me feel so close to you. I couldn't get through each week without it. Besides, it is your fault, that I have to work, you left me your company and now I have to take care of it until our daughter is old enough to take over. At least then the sign on your office door saying Christian Grey, CEO will be true again. Andrea asked if I wanted to remove it once, but I can't it's your office, your company, so it has to be your name on the door, right?"
I take a sip of Bollinger and smile. "Happy birthday, Christian, I love you."
After almost an hour I get up and softly touch the headstone. "I'll be back soon, I promise."
Back in the car Sawyer looks at me. "Home?"
"No, Escala." I still own the penthouse at Escala and every year on Christian's birthday I sleep there. It's too hard to be there otherwise, but on this day it makes me feel closer to him to be at Escala. Gail knows that I will be back in time for breakfast, so Chrissie won't even know that I didn't sleep at home.
In the garage of Escala I smile. Taylor of course knew that I would come here and that I would want to be alone, so he had someone drive my R8 here. It's the only one of the cars that doesn't get replaced with the latest model each year. This is still Christian's R8.
"Thank you, Sawyer. I'll see you tomorrow." He doesn't look too happy that I have dismissed him, but he knows better than to argue with me. He waits until I am in the elevator and two minutes later I step into the vestibule of the penthouse.
I walk through the great room and sit down on the piano bench. Over the years I have taken some lessons. Not that I am very good at it, but I can play a couple of songs, songs that I heard Christian play in the short time we had together. Somehow, by doing the things he liked to do I feel closer to him, which is why I am not able to fly a glider, why even with a child and company I returned to college and got my MBA in just one year. I won't say that I share Christian's passion for the business, but I admire all the philanthropic work he has done and continue to do it for him now.
I play the tune Christian has played the night he took my virginity and then stare out of the window for a long while. When I get up I walk upstairs and unlock the playroom door. I switch the light on and sit down on the Chesterfield couch. It's weird, but even after four years being in here still gives me this tingly feeling as if Christian would walk in here any second. Carrick and Grace think it is time for me to let go of some of Christian's belongings, the penthouse being one of them, but I just can't. I know it's not healthy and I should probably start to see someone to get over the grief I am still feeling so horribly, but I am just not ready to let go. I keep telling myself that one day maybe Chrissie wants to live here or maybe I will use it as corporate apartment, but the sad truth is, I'm keeping the penthouse, because a tiny part of me is still waiting for a miracle to happen, that one day he will just walk into the door and all will be perfect again.
In the end I leave the playroom, go downstairs into the master bedroom, undress and slip on of Christian's sweaters on before I curl up on his side of the bed and cry myself to sleep, hoping and praying that tonight will be the first night in four years where I will see Christian in my dreams...
One more thing, I know that the way Chrissie talks is too advanced for a three year old and it will become even clearer in the upcoming chapters, because I have to admit that I suck at writing kid-English, I thought about making her two or three years older... but as you will see in the next few chapters there is a reason why I didn't go there, so please just bear with me on this... oh, and the pinterest for this story is already up, the link is www dot pinterest dot com / sfanfiction / a - different - life