The FSoG Trilogy and all characters therein belong to E. L. James. This story and all of its mistakes are mine.

Chapter One

~Christian~

"Anastasia, are you willing to share your thoughts? Christian shocked you by contacting you and inviting you to dinner. Do you have anything that you would you like to say about that? Would you like to share your reaction to what he has told you?" John's voice was kind and gentle while he patiently coaxed Ana to acknowledge what I had anxiously revealed.

I sat on one of John's forest green, tufted couches, hoping that my body language radiated my sincerity. Trying to keep my eyes from blatantly and ferociously fixating on her spotless beauty, I looked everywhere, but at Ana. I examined every crease in John's curtains and every book on his massive bookshelves. I knew I couldn't afford to appear the slightest bit intimidating.

Nervously, I listened to the clock ticking as several torturous minutes passed. Ana was sitting beside me in a pale green winged back chair. A table holding a lamp and a box of tissues separated us. The grueling pain set in when I saw one of Ana's delicate hands reach for several tissues.

John gazed at Ana with compassion and cocked his head slightly. Ana remained silent.

"May I presume that you're upset and overwhelmed, Anastasia? You told Christian the only way you would speak with him was in a neutral setting, along with someone to facilitate your conversation. Allow me to reassure you that are in a safe place and can say whatever you wish. Christian wants to know how you honestly feel. Do you feel comfortable enough to do that?" John asked, never heeding my presence.

Finally, Ana responded. Her voice was strong, and once again, I remembered how much I had missed hearing it.

"Dr. Flynn, I'm not upset, per se. . . I am, however, confused. Well, dumbfounded is a more accurate description." Surprising me, Ana moved in such a way that we were facing one another. Her blue eyes were clear and sharp, and they pinned me to the sofa. I swallowed, hard. Her every word would shape my future. "Christian, your words. . . Um. . . Declaring that you have feelings for me, insofar as telling me that you're in love with me… each word contradicts your actions in the past month." Ana turned her head, quickly glanced at John, and then faced me again. "I don't feel overwhelmed in the slightest. I only question if you have a hidden agenda. What do you want from me now, Christian?" Ana regarded me warily, her face tired and forlorn. I wanted a flogger to self-flagellate knowing that I was the reason she looked so pained.

John raised an eyebrow and turned his unyielding stare at me. Those brown eyes of his were sending an unspoken message: Be utterly open and honest with her. You have but one chance, Grey, so don't blow it. I bowed my head. A plethora of atrocious outcomes resting heavily on my mind.

I inhaled deeply and prepared to excoriate myself again so Ana would believe how I felt about her. I had felt this way for a while, yet remained too blinded by hovering ghosts to admit it. Silently, I had to throw my terror away, and reinforce that not only was I in love with her, I was also disgusted with the manner in which I had treated Ana. If I had killed Anastasia's burgeoning love for me, I at least hoped for her forgiveness.

I raised my head to find that Ana was resolutely staring at me. Her blue eyes were a myriad of emotions and I couldn't discern a single one. She looked at me expectantly. I scooted closer to the edge of the couch so Ana could have a full look at me. She had to have clear access to the honesty on my face, and close enough to hear the shameful truth roll off my tongue. I had to devour Ana's heart and mind with the new-found love I had finally admitted. My unremitting remorse had to fully pierce her body so she would know I would never hurt her again. Ana had to know that I would roll around and linger on broken glass for a chance to start our relationship over. Anastasia had to believe that I would do anything to have her in my life. I would do anything and everything she asked of me.

"Ana, I don't have an agenda. Well, other than regaining your trust, and another chance with you. I know that my words contradict the loathsome ways that I treated you, and I'll never forgive myself for that." I stopped talking and rigorously scrubbed my face. I hoped that I could get through this again without my desperation ruining it. "I've told you the truth, Ana. I am so fucking sorry for my behavior and that I hurt you. I'm so god damned sorry for the ways I hurt you emotionally, and physically. I knew that I felt something different with you, but I just never wanted to examine it because I was too fucking afraid. When we were together, John tried to tell me that my confusion over my feelings for you was the proof that I was falling in love with you. I scoffed at the notion." I had to stop and pull a large gulp from my bottled water. I hoped my shaking hands went unnoticed. "I always equated love with the horrid and beastly. I knew how I had lived my life, and never thought it was possible to change. . . I never considered changing. But you fell into my universe and life as I knew it changed. You have changed me and I will never be the same. I don't have any doubts that I'm willing to change for you. I am sorry for the way I acted when you told me that you'd fallen in love with me. I've spent my life feeling unlovable, and that I couldn't love another person. Regardless of how it tore my heart out when you left me, I never considered a life without BDSM. Ana, it took that morning for me to admit you didn't deserve what I wanted from you. And you sure as fuck didn't deserve a man like me. I know I'm probably rambling, Ana. My words are chaos in my head, but I'm telling you the truth; yet, undoubtedly I know you're ambivalent about everything—"

Ana threw her hands up, her palms facing me, and I immediately shut up. A glare was marring her beautiful face.

"Ambivalent, Christian? I'm not ambivalent in the least. Do you want to know what I am? Do you want to hear about my filthy confessions?" she snapped at me. Despite fighting with myself, my calm exterior began to feel as though it was crumbling, and I felt myself scowling at her. I silently nodded for Ana to continue.

"I am unabashedly hurt, embarrassed, disgusted. . . humiliated," Ana began, her voice cracking. "Although I'm harnessed by these feelings, they weren't brought about by you, Christian. No, I invited each of those grotesque, shit stained feelings into my life when I said that I would try this submissive shit. I knew that I was far from being pliant, docile, subdued. . . those lovely synonyms you emailed me when you were trying to sell me on the joys of being your submissive. Had you taken off your Dom-colored glasses in the early days of getting to know me, you would have known that I am simply shy. . . I have insecurities that intimidating people and certain situations can bring out. You shouldn't have misconstrued those traits and believed I was submissive," Anastasia divulged, tears were streaming down her face. "I was physically attracted to you from the moment we met, and it was a new feeling to me, one that left me flustered. You only saw my behavior fitting for what you wanted, and without regard for me. You saw me as a challenge that you could break down, and build back as the Christian Grey version."

Ana began to sob so hard that John called for his secretary to bring her some water, and gave her the box of tissues. I wanted to take her into my arms and comfort her, to kiss her hair, and tell her what she believed wasn't true; however, I couldn't, and had to bear witness to what a selfish piece of shit inflicts on another person. I sat resigned that Ana would never forgive me, or give me another chance, and a defeated piece of my new-found soul knew that she shouldn't. I watched Ana's chest heave frantically while she wept, furiously attempting to regain her self-control while John knelt beside her, speaking to her in a hushed voice. The guilt intensified. It began to burn through my skin.

After what seemed like forever, John calmed Ana down. I had reservations we should continue and watched Ana down her bottled water. I cut her off before she could resume speaking.

"Ana, please believe I didn't intend on bringing you here to upset you any further. Watching your distress is unsettling. Perhaps we should continue our discussion another day. . . or not at all," I reasoned, only to be met with Ana stubbornly raising her chin in defiance.

"No. I'm saying this. I need to tell you so I can get it off my chest. You have had Dr. Flynn to discuss your shit with, while I've been sitting in an empty apartment, denied the opportunity to work through my pain with anyone because of you and your precious NDA. No, Christian, you've had your time on the floor and I'd appreciate my own."

"Anastasia, are you sure that you'd like to continue? I tend to agree with Christian on this. This wasn't meant to distress you," John replied, compassion on each word.

Ana nodded. "I've been waiting a while to say all of this to Christian, and I refuse to squander this opportunity," she said sardonically and looked me straight in the eyes. "Christian, when I described feeling hurt and embarrassed, I didn't mean that's how you made me feel. I'm wracked with those feelings because of what I allowed myself to do, and what I partook in. I couldn't make any sense of falling in love with you, and being terrified of you at the same time. It was a paradox—"

Her words stole my breath. Terrified of me?

"Wait a minute. Hold up," I muttered, shaking my head in confusion as I interrupted her. "I terrified you? I don't understand, Ana."

"Christian, let us allow Anastasia to finish her thoughts. You can ask her to elaborate afterward if she's willing." John looked at me blandly and told Ana to continue.

"Yes, you terrified me, Christian. Your entire sex life terrified me and don't correct me by saying that bullshit is a lifestyle. Your lectures and your packet of rules are transparent and ridiculous. Yeah, you have an alternative sex life. To each their own and all that jazz. What people like to do in private isn't my business, yet you've been brainwashed to believe your sex life rules your world and is the only way you handle your life. But that calls for a private session with you and Dr. Flynn." Ana laughed bitterly, visibly amused by her own beliefs about the BDSM lifestyle. I can't say it didn't irritate the fuck out of me. Being a Dominant isn't a choice that I made; I was born a Dominant. "I'll rewind to how I gave in to you. How I sat back and lackadaisically handed you my free will. Admittedly, I couldn't understand what a multi-billionaire saw in me, a girl who hadn't even graduated college and shopped at Wal Mart. You remained in my thoughts because you kept popping up out of nowhere. My dumb ass wondered if I was the reason you seemed to have abandoned Seattle. I accept the blame for seeing a charming, handsome man, and becoming entranced with him. Going for coffee and you taking an interest in my life, books worth a fortune, what I thought was a simple date ended up being a helicopter ride to Seattle. I'm not a hypocrite or a liar, so I reiterate that I walked into this fucked up shit with my eyes wide open. I was easily dazzled by your wealth, the so-called glitz and glamour, and the next thing I knew, I was the equivalent of a bloody spot on your sheets."

"I don't see you as a young woman who would deny any complicity considering your time with Christian. During our sessions this past month, Christian has accurately portrayed the young woman who I see before me. But do you care to expound on how Christian scared you? Was it the BDSM that you were afraid of?" John asked Ana. My thoughts were spiraling out of control. I couldn't wrap my mind around Anastasia being afraid of me. That's bullshit, Grey. You wanted to intimidate her.

"The BDSM terrified me. I never trusted Christian in his red room of pain. He couldn't see the fear in my eyes because I was always blindfolded, and I assume when the blindfold was removed, he took my tears as those of post-orgasmic euphoria," Ana spit her words, her eyes glistened with tears. "I only say that because I never had an orgasm in your playroom. The only time I did was the first time we had sex. How does that make Sir feel? To know a woman faked it with the sub whisperer? The only time I wasn't afraid when we had sex was the night I gave Christian my virginity, which was also the only time we had normal sex. Excuse me, Christian. . . I should have said vanilla sex. Christian, have you told Dr. Flynn, that save for that one night, we only engaged in BDSM sex?" Ana's tone was unforgiving, and her glare accusatory. The fact that Anastasia had never orgasmed after our first night together left me speechless. I thought that Ana. . .

"Yes, Christian has." I barely heard John answer Ana.

Ana's eyes began to water, and she dabbed at them rapidly. The agony and regret Ana had accrued during our month together was all over her precious face, and so heartbreakingly painful to acknowledge.

"I was so dumb the night I gave you my virginity. I thought that would make you change, or at least, change what you wanted to do to me. When you first showed me the so-called playroom and told me what you wanted to do with me, my knees buckled from fear. But for two weeks, you had made me feel differently. . . as though you liked me and enjoyed being around me. I naively believed you wanted to date me, even if you always make cryptic remarks about your no girlfriend clause. I should have spotted how you subtly changed that first night at your penthouse. You referred to taking my virginity as a situation you needed to rectify. Do you realize how that hurt me? God, I should have kicked rocks the minute you said that," Ana whispered through her tears. Gutted, had I been near a gun, I would have ended my life. "The minute you pulled your dick out of me that night, you became a cold and distant asshole. I assume that's who you really are: Christian Grey, a despotic and omnipotent Dominant. By then, I was already a goner, though. I might as well have sold my soul to the devil the night I agreed to give this submission crap a shot. All I really wanted was your time. I thought if I capitulated to what you wanted, you would develop feelings for me. I was so stupid." Anastasia stopped whispering the caustic words that had eaten my flesh and exposed my bones. Her pain was so unvarnished, and it filled Flynn's office. It took her several minutes to regain her composure and continue. "The only way that I knew I might catch a scrap of your affection was to abandon my values and self-esteem and do what you wanted. And to do that, I forced myself to replay memories of the man I initially met. That man. . . I would go to Escala with an urge to vomit because I knew you only saw me as a. . . pet? I honestly don't know. And as the weeks went by, you made each of those scenes more intense, and I could feel you were barely holding your true self back. I knew you wanted to hurt me, Christian. That was what I just didn't understand, why you wanted to hurt me, and why I had fallen in love with you."

Long before Ana finished speaking, I had slumped back in the couch, too shocked to articulate a sentence. I felt like a dead man walking. No, I wanted to be a man, very much alive and walking head on towards an oncoming train. What had I done to this wonderful and loving young woman? There wasn't a doubt in my mind that the love Anastasia believed herself to have for me was now dead. I would never have the chance to get her back, to treat her properly, to have a normal and loving relationship.

The room remained silent until Ana asked for another bottled water. I watched as she pulled her faded, navy cardigan tighter around herself, and noticed that she was slightly shivering. John didn't seem to have any desire to break the eerie calm or stifling tension, and his attention remained focused on Anastasia.

"Anastasia, do you have anything else you would like to say to Christian?" John quietly prodded. Ana's eyes locked on something over his shoulder. Although I waited for her answer with bated breath, I was still lost in the words Ana had spoken. Oh, how they rightfully punished me.

"Why me?" she asked softly, startling me so much that I jumped. Ana had slid back in the chair and I could no longer see her face.

Confusion stopped my tongue. I knew damn well what Ana wanted to know, but I didn't know what to fucking say. I god damned knew what I didn't want to say, though. John noticed that my eyes were pleading for him to help me, guide me, or kill me. My declaration of having hidden my feelings for Ana meant nothing after everything she had said. Leaning back in his chair, John crossed his legs and stared at me. He was telling me to shit or get off the pot and I knew it.

"Ana, I . . . I saw you, and I was instantly attracted to you. You refuse to take a compliment, but you truly are a beautiful woman. Then you opened up your lively mouth, and every witty and intelligent syllable that came out of it drew me in further. I've long since admitted that I mistakenly took your personality as submissive," I say, then deeply exhale. "I was enthralled by you, Ana. Who couldn't be? You caught my attention, and, yes, I know that wasn't the kind of attention you wanted. But no other woman has ever caught my attention like you. No one has ever made me feel the way that you do—"

"Yes, you have already told me that." she snapped, quickly interrupting me. "I want to know how you set about to play me, and not because I want to get angry or instigate an argument. I'm sincerely curious. What was your plan? Tell me how you executed it."

I didn't like those questions. It felt like Ana was leading me down an undiscovered path, and I wasn't keen on making the trip. John's brows lifted to the ceiling. I knew he was waiting to see if I told Ana the truth; the reason I pursued her.

"Brutal honesty, Christian. Give me this, and a few more answers. Please, and I'll answer your question. I know that this seems like I'm trying to play a game, but I'm not. They're just questions, and Christian, you damn well know my answer. So please, just indulge me with the truth."

So in John Flynn's office - I, Christian Grey, had to sit and quickly decide if I should give her that brutal honesty she wanted. I couldn't tell Ana the reason I wanted her. I couldn't confess it was because she was a beautiful, brunette young woman, like the previous fifteen. I couldn't give that dastardly truth to the woman who I loved. It would disgust her, and there would be no way Ana would take me back. And being the selfish bastard whom I am, and in front of John, who knew the truth, I lied to her.

"I used your naiveté against you, employing the strong, physical attraction we had for one another, and I seduced you with one purpose in mind. I recognized your inexperience and knew you hadn't explored your sexuality, and I brought out every skill I possess for the sole purpose of abusing the trust you had mistakenly placed in me. I knew you didn't stand a chance in hell when it came to resisting my advances, and after seeing how well you responded to me when I took your virginity, it was obvious that I had you in my web. Deep down, I knew what I was doing was wrong, and that taking a person as loving and pure as you down the dark road of my life was cruel. Yet, I'm so selfish I had to have you. You're right. I wanted to train you so you'd be my perfect sub- a sub who could satisfy my sadistic appetite," I said, self-loathing and putrid, self-hatred in my words.

"Christian," John starts before I can continue. "You are not a sadist. I've told you, I've told you, and I've told you. Think about it, Christian. Would we be here if you were a sadist? If you were a sadist, do you believe you would have felt the way you have for the past five days? Of course, you wouldn't. You hurt Anastasia, you regret it horribly, and have suffered the consequences. A sadist wouldn't care! A sadist wouldn't be in his psychiatrist's office willingly expressing his love for a woman that he belted. How many years will it take before that fact sticks in your brilliant mind?" He asked exasperated.

"He'll probably never believe it, Dr. Flynn. He always believes the worst about himself," Anastasia's small voice says from the opposite side of the lamp. John smiled at her kindly and then laughed.

"Anastasia knows you well, Christian. She's a shrewd young woman." John's words were a warning: You lied to her about petite, brunette women, and she will find out.

"Christian, I'm going to tell you something. . . about the afternoon I returned from Georgia. I didn't confront you, but at this point, that doesn't matter. It's what I believe it. . . When you took me to Esclava, and after I accosted your Mrs. Robinson, I heard her tell you that my behavior, no matter how slow you were taking things with me, had earned me a much-deserved punishment," Ana murmured, causing my head to jerk towards her. I had no idea Ana was still close enough to Elena and me to have heard that. My stomach dropped to my ass. I hadn't told John about that, and my face felt the heat from the questioning look he had thrown my way. I also knew what Anastasia was going to ask me. "When I told you that I wanted to know if I could be a real submissive like Mrs. Robinson had been for you, and the way your fifteen subs had been able to take your harsh punishments… were you so willing because of what the pedophile told you? For weeks, you had stood steadfast about no punishments, yet the minute I offered myself as your sacrificial lamb, you practically pulled my arm out of socket pulling me to your playroom. You weren't just willing and eager, you also broke your promise that you'd never hurt me more than I could stand. Yes, I take half of the blame because I asked for it, and I didn't safeword. But did that pedophile put a bug in your ear to punish me and you listened to her?"

If I visibly reacted, John would pick up on it instantly and know the truth. For whatever reason, I felt the compulsion to lie - yet again. Perhaps I was trying to protect Elena, but, whatever the reason, I couldn't tell Ana the truth. I was happy we were still separated by the fucking table and that the lamp blocked me from her view. I didn't want to lie to her face.

"No. No. What she said had nothing to do with my actions," I replied, trying to maintain the same tone of voice I'd had all evening. "It was a blinding, rash decision. I-It was all my fault, Ana. I'm so sorry."

"So you didn't jump into the ocean of Mrs. Lincoln's advice, Christian?" John asked me, unconvinced.

Scowling, I forced myself to look at him. His face wore no expression and it was a blank look I knew all too well. John knew I was lying.

"I didn't jump into anything, John," I answered tersely. Becoming agitated, I shuffled my body on the couch, and John knowingly raised an eyebrow at me. I knew how fucked I was and he was probably regretting that he ever agreed to help me win Ana back. I didn't deserve her, and I was only shoving that truth into the ground.

"Enough of Mrs. Robinson. It sickens me to think about your best friend," Ana broke in, suddenly standing, and positioning herself in front of me. "How did you feel hitting me?" she asked, her blue eyes mirrors of tears.

I never expected Anastasia to ask me this, and it left me speechless. From the look on John's face, neither did he. I stared at her wide eyed, unsure of myself, and having no desire to recall that horrible morning. Ana's eyes scattered across me, examining my face, while she waited for my answer. Her small frame, so lovely and unassuming, was wrenching the truth from me. After an oppressive silence, I decided to tell her the god damned, sickening truth.

Clearing my throat, I glanced around the carpet before meeting her engulfing eyes.

"I didn't understand why you suddenly wanted me to punish you. I was so confused, yet I looked at you and saw your stubborn resolve. I told myself you were asking for it, and that was enough reason to abandon how I promised you we'd slowly work up to the harsher aspects. I saw it as the way to show you what I needed, and the thought of punishing you turned me on. Once we were in the playroom and I asked if you were sure about doing it, I was already feeling ecstatic. When you told me you were ready, I became hard as a rock. Hearing the snap of the first blow made me euphoric; watching the pink welt appear was when I became so excited that I zoned out, and lost control of myself. I vaguely heard your cries, and how you shouted when you counted as I had instructed you too. I was enjoying myself too much to check on you, to see that you—"

"Couldn't take it?" Ana asked in a quiet voice, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I suffered through it for you. I wanted to please you like all the others before me. To make you happy because I loved you." Her gaze is intense, and we never broke eye contact.

There was a golf ball in my throat, swelling to the point where I could barely speak, but Ana said the word, and I had to ask.

"Loved?" I managed to murmur. Anticipation flooded and overwhelmed me.

Ana wiped the tears from her face and shook her head. All it took to shatter my world was for her to shake her head no.

"Not loved. . . love," she replied softly

Hope grabbed me by the waist since I was about to leap from the couch and take Ana in my arms. I knew I had to hold off because this conversation was far from over. We continued staring at one another, and I forgot John was in the room until he broke the silence.

"Anastasia, why don't you take a seat beside Christian on the couch, and we can see if you have a way to move forward in a relationship. You told him from the beginning that you had stipulations."

Quickly, I moved to the far end of the couch to keep Ana from feeling uncomfortable by being near me. Shockingly, Ana sat down beside me, our legs touching. I felt an electrical current run through me, and I inhaled deeply. Anastasia's sweet, familiar scent filled my senses. Ana turned towards me, putting one of her small, soft hands on top of mine, and I nearly lost it.

"Christian, your subs were masochists, but I'm not, and I never will be. Consensual, contractual, or whatever it is you call it, I call it subjugation. I consider your explanations of submission to fall flat. In order for us to start a real relationship, I can't have you dictate my life, and I won't be subservient to you," Ana told me veraciously. "Does that fall under you taking me anyway that you can?"

I grabbed both of her hands and held on for dear life. "Yes, Anastasia. Anything." I replied hastily, but watched as Ana looked down.

"There's more, Christian, and this may change your mind. It's my hard limit and non-negotiable. I won't live under the umbrella of your invisible rules or punishments. I don't enjoy any aspect of your sexual lifestyle and want nothing to do with it. Maybe you'll find my conservative values boring like I find your preferred sex life disturbing, but I won't be tied up just playing around in bed. I don't want anal beads up my ass just to spice up your so-called vanilla sex." Ana looked up and stopped speaking. I knew it was to gauge my reaction. I never let go of her hands and couldn't have cared less about fucking anal beads. "I won't be spanked and then fucked. I've been fucked, but no one has ever made love to me, and that's deserve. If that means I cannot be what you need, then it means you cannot be what I want."

There was never a choice. It would always be Anastasia and I would always be saddled by the lies that I told her.

End of flashback

My gut clamps harder with each fleeting look at the time – Ana will be here soon. They are unaware that I'm running on autopilot and borrowed time. I understand the magnitude of the problem in front of us, and I am utilizing any leftover brain matter that I possess to figure this shit out. Yet, the truth is that I have disassociated myself from the issue and those around me. My mind, along with every neuron in my brain, is rapidly firing to deal with my main problem. No, what currently controls and terrifies me cannot be defined as a problem. This is no fucking problem. This is my life - my present and my future. This is why I have chewed the inside of my cheek all day and swallowed blood. I have walked a tightrope today, knowing that my existence depends upon the mercy of another, and that person is approaching my apartment as time marches on.

"No! . . . It's time for you to choose. . . I refuse to put up with this any longer!"

I could have answered Ana last night if I could have reached her before the elevator doors shut. There wasn't anything that I needed to mull over. I never had to think about it or consider what I wanted. Yet, Ana has refused to talk to me today or allowed me to tell her how I feel. Why? Have I been wrong to believe that our relationship is solid? Did she misconstrue my words from last night? I'm appalled that my behavior has only amplified Ana's feelings of insecurity, but why didn't she have the faith to entrust her innermost fears with me? Have my actions cost me Ana's trust?

"Mr. Grey, I was only clarifying your stance on the police—"

It takes a deep and annoyed breath to control the urge to erupt on Welch for shattering my thoughts of Anastasia and our current situation. But I don't have the idiotic notion that I'm allowed to ignore this disaster. It's time to coax my head back into the game before me. I pinch the bridge of my nose, hard.

Concurrently, my life consists of two birds and not a single fucking stone.

"Seattle's finest can only speculate that Boeing has given us their video surveillance," I interrupt Welch sharply. "Your assessment of Boeing is correct; however, I didn't need a fucking report to tell me that Boeing won't admit to committing an illegal act to the police. Do you think they're willing to hand their ass to the cops? Besides, they're astute and know not to piss me off any further. Boeing knows that firing ncompetent security guards doesn't appease me. They're aware they fucked up by allowing that fucker to gain access to my hanger." Sighing loudly, my tired eyes roam the faces of the three men sitting opposite of me. I wish they would all just get the fuck out of here. "We watched that prick breach Boeing's security to reach Charlie Tango and sabotage it. Likewise, I also don't care that the NTSB is taking the lead on the investigation. They've behaved like typical, arrogant, government fucks who don't give a shit that someone tried to kill me. This is fucking personal. End of story." I cautiously recline my leather chair. It has been two days since the crash and my back is killing me. An aching back is the least of my concerns, though. My main concern is due to make landfall in less than half an hour.

I've spent hours in my home office with Taylor, Welch, and Barney. We've gone blind studying the grainy video surveillance of the masked asshole who tried to kill me. Had this panty-waste succeeded, Ros would be dead as well. The thought causes my blood to boil. When we find out who this prick is, and we will find out, he's going to pay dearly.

Trying to uncover the person who attempted to kill me, along with what their motive could be, is disturbingly confounding. Yes, I've fucked a lot of people over in the business world, but is that enough to compel some douche to want me dead? Taylor and Welch look exhausted from two nights without sleep, and Welch looks tense. He isn't as comfortable as I am to bend rules and regulations to get around the NTSB. I don't need Welch to advise me that we don't have a valid a reason to distrust the NTSB's competency, yet it's asinine for him to assume that I would be amendable to the fucking idea of being spoon-fed snippets of information. Has Welch met me? Christ. He starts to open his mouth, but thinks better of it and closes it quickly. He knows that I'm already fed up hearing that his guys will find out something soon. My definition of the word soon is yesterday.

Once again, I anxiously eye the time on my laptop. Anastasia should have left work by now and on her way here. She typically calls me once her work day ends, although I have more than a hunch that she won't be calling this evening. I've become accustomed to our verbal sparring via email throughout our work days, but, today, our witty exchanges have been non-existent. Today, Ana's replies to my texts and emails have been short and curt, our contact minimal. To no avail, I have pleaded with her to talk to me, and she refused to have lunch with me as well. Dismissing me, Ana said we will discuss everything this evening. And here I sit, captive to a clock and besieged with fear. It won't be a discussion, though. It will be a simple answer to what Ana demanded of me last night. I've been a ball of knots all day, ready for this shit to come to a head. I haven't felt so helpless since those five days after Ana left me months ago.

I listen in silence as my men continue speculating on who could be behind the sabotage of Charlie Tango. My patience is too frail to hold any interest in their words, and sitting in one spot all day has exacerbated my aching back. Hoping to find a bottle of pain killers, I rummage through my desk drawers and loudly curse when I can't find any. Standing carefully, I grumble an excuse and make my way to the bathroom, not quite limping. Fortunately, I find a bottle of Tylenol. Pouring two in my hand, I swallow them without water and notice Ana's hairbrush near the sink. There are a few strands of her silky hair in its soft bristles, and I ludicrously catch myself in the mirror smelling the hairbrush. Ana's scent covers it. I muster up a small smile despite the pesky sense of anxiousness that I feel. I want Ana to emerge from the elevator, happily bounce into my arms, and allow me to clarify that she always comes first in my life. I understand why she felt as though she had to give me an ultimatum, and I will never forgive myself that I was complicit in making Ana feel this way. My soul and entire being have coalesced with Anastasia's, and my existence would combust if she were to ever leave me; especially if she left because I have hurt her. I've already experienced that hell and I couldn't survive it again.

Shoving those awful memories out of my head, I make my way back to my office, morose attitude in tow. I walk in on Welch and Taylor arguing with Barney over the perp's body type and stance. Sliding carefully down the back of my chair, I again tune them all out, and glance again at the time. Someone trying to kill me belongs at the very top of my list of worries, but it's nowhere near it. In fact, if I wasn't forced to deal with the issue of the security team's constant presence today, I would have spent my day encased in terror. My impenetrable bond with Anastasia Rose Steele could be whimpering to hell by Elena Lincoln's unexpected visit to my penthouse last night, and the consequences it wrought. I am berating myself for once again being the reason that Ana's feelings are hemorrhaging. However harsh it sounds to Ana, I still repudiate her claims that Elena is a pedophile that ruined my life. Yet, Ana is already so diffident to anything regarding my old life that there is nothing that I can say or do to ease her insecurities. Last night, Ana finally told me that my relationship with Elena only exaggerates those insecurities and it is time I decide which one of them is more important to me. Dr. John Flynn had predicted this day would come and I refused to listen.

Still shaken from my near death experience, Anastasia skipped work yesterday. In the morning, Ana lovingly declared that the entire day would be devoted to taking care of me. Later that evening, Ana cheerfully kicked Gail out of the kitchen, prepared my favorite meal, and set the table for an intimate, candlelight dinner for us. But our romantic evening ended with breakneck speed when Reynolds announced that Elena was on her way up. It wasn't necessary to look at Ana to know her expression was one of rabid fury. Our romantic evening, which would have been perfect due to Ana's thoughtful planning, ended disastrously even before Elena strolled in my penthouse. Ana and I waited for Elena's imminent arrival in deathlike silence. Ana's revulsion and loathing was vibrating off the kitchen walls.

Yesterday, I split my time organizing the retrieval of Charlie Tango and trying to relax with Anastasia. Elena, whom Ana openly and vehemently loathes, called me several times. I quickly rejected each call that flashed Elena's name on the display screen on my phone. Fuck, Elena only wanted to reassure herself that I was okay, but I knew what Ana's reaction would have been had I answered a call from Elena in her presence. I wasn't in the frame of mind to fight with Ana; consequently, I sent each of Elena's calls to voicemail. Looking back, I should have answered one of her fucking calls. It would have prevented her unforeseen visit to my penthouse and this threat to my relationship with Anastasia.

I knew that last night's dinner would be thrown in the trash as soon as Reynolds said Elena's name. But considering that I was nearly killed, what did Ana expect? Elena is strictly my friend, and as such, she came to see how I was doing. As obvious as that should have been to Ana, her white-knuckled grip on the butcher knife she was holding, along with the food that was later scattered on my kitchen floor, proved otherwise. The hostile way that my innocent Ana stared Elena down didn't surprise me considering how vile Ana believes Elena to be. What did shock me was Ana sarcastically suggesting that Elena and I should have the nice, intimate dinner she had prepared, while Elena stood there looking at me as if I should put Ana in her place. When will that woman realize that Ana is not my sub?

How did I handle last night's uncomfortable situation? I asked Elena if she wanted a glass of wine and slowly took a peek at Ana. There was a mixture of hurt and anger in her eyes. Those big, blue eyes never left mine, and after an interminable moment or two, Ana startlingly threw her glass of wine at the kitchen wall, storming from the room, and leaving me to amend the debacle with Elena. I knew then that Ana was no longer going to take being made to feel like this.

Disturbingly, for some unknown reason, Anastasia's behavior affronted me and I found it appalling. Appalling? How could I not put myself in Ana's shoes and understand where she was coming from? Instead, I took an exception with it, and experienced an emotion that I thought I had rid myself of months earlier. A comfortable, palpable anger pulsated throughout my body, and horrifically, I wanted to punish Ana. How the fuck could I still have that sickness floating through my blood when hurting Ana, whom I love more than myself, is the reason she left me? After my shocking thoughts abated, I surreptitiously calmed myself and remembered I wasn't that man. I believed that I'd escaped those urges towards any woman. After I mentally beat the shit out of myself because that familiar feeling bled through, I remembered John asking me what I wanted to be and the answer was simple: A normal man.

I inwardly groan when I recall the years I spent getting off by debasing women. I planned various scenes with my subs and all to end painfully for them. I can now admit that I sniffed out the weaknesses of each of my submissives. Knowing those weak spots allowed me to easily lead a sub to break one of my rules and I could beat the fuck out of them. They spent the weekend willingly being demeaned by me, all the while serving as my receptacle. I had zero interest in them or their lives, and often didn't acknowledge them outside of my playroom. Unforgivable. God, why did I live my life that way? Why couldn't I just have been born a man who would have asked Anastasia Steele out for dinner and a movie? No, I had to crave trussing her up, fucking her, and beating the shit out of her? Why did I have to feel that way, and want that kind of life? Why couldn't have I been a normal person that didn't thrive upon inflicting pain? Why, why, why?

Last night's fiasco, and the feelings it brought about will be my next session with John, who is still delving into why I lied to Ana the night we reconciled. The simple and honest answer is that I believed she wouldn't have taken me back if I'd have told her the truth. It wasn't my past and perverse obsession with brunette young women that John nearly fired me over, it was me not coming clean with him over the day I took Ana to Esclava, and what Ana overheard Elena tell me. John may think that I deliberately didn't share that with him, but that isn't the case. I only had one thing on my mind, and that was asking Ana for another chance. The questions she asked took me by surprise and when Anastasia threw them at me, I reverted to Christian Grey's tried and true methods of getting what I want – I lied through my teeth. Living with those two dark clouds over my head remind me daily of what I stand to lose, and Dr. John Flynn reminds me four times a week that the truth has a funny way of coming out in the wash. It didn't take five fucking days to entirely change me and my innate personality. It's taken me months of taking Flynn's suggestions seriously and finally working on my issues. When I reconciled with Ana, I was only begrudgingly considering that I was worthy of another person's love, and for a quite a while, I was still considering it; I had not been convinced. Over time, I stopped questioning how a selfless angel like Anastasia Steele could love me, and the perplexity I felt when she told me that she loved me abated. The effortless choice was to leave the stagnate D/s contractual relationships and have a loving one with Anastasia. There is nothing in this world that comes close to what Ana and I are building, and she doesn't deserve anything less. It's true that I had to tune out Elena's constant lectures that emotions are messy and only serve to complicate people's lives. Ultimately, it was Ana's candor and her honest affirmations of never leaving me that proved that Elena's logic no longer applies to me.

Anastasia and I are navigating this relationship without prior experience and initially blindly groped our way through it. We spent weeks pushing each other's buttons and poking one another's sore spots, until Ana put her foot down and said we had to begin couple's therapy with John. It's true, I would bring about a full-fledged offensive to oust anyone or anything that could blight our relationship. Everything about Ana enraptures me and she will never slip through my fingers again. We are irrevocably in love with one another and I'll be a mother fucker before I allow either one of us to fuck this up. This woman has brought me to life. Her beguiling essence has seized my existence, and given me a glimpse of being a normal man in a normal relationship. Isn't that what a normal relationship is? Two people in love, who are committed to one another and do their best to make each other happy? I only wish I could erase the stench of my past, so Anastasia would no longer be plagued with the insecurities it causes her. After three months together, Ana still tells me she fears that she isn't what I need, and that is far beyond the truth. So far, nothing has alleviated Anastasia's insecurities over the life I led, and especially over Elena. John plainly told me that allowing Elena in my life, regardless if we are only friends, only hurts Ana, and it was up to me to resolve that situation.

Our last few joint sessions have been Flynn and Ana ganging up on me about Elena, and why she is still in my life. Neither Ana nor John grasps my current and past relationship with Elena Lincoln. They refuse to believe that we are strictly friends and business partners. I've rationally pointed out that I wouldn't be successful if Elena hadn't put me on a structured path, and that without her, GEH wouldn't exist. Ana calls that bullshit, saying that with my determination I would have started my company regardless. Last week's session was a colossal disaster. Ana said hiding my past with Elena and BDSM is glaring proof that I'm ashamed of both, and it was time to realize neither were beneficial to me. I returned fire, telling Ana I was sick of her referring to my friend as a pedophile, and it was nonsensical to conclude Elena had molested me if I was eager for her to beat me; thereafter, I would fuck Elena in ways that Ana would never imagine. Once the dust settled, I realized the cruel words that I had just bellowed at my girlfriend, and the room was deathly still. Then a disgusted, tearful, and pale-faced Ana caustically divulged her opinion that my IQ is the same as my shoe size, inasmuch as I believe that Elena is my only friend, and never considered the woman has alienated me from my family, along with anyone other than herself. Long before I had time to reply, Ana ran from the room and had Parson take her to her apartment. John gave me several minutes to ruminate on what I'd just brought about and then asked me if I thought there were three people in my relationship with Ana.

With John's not so subtle hints of impending doom and Ana's increasing anger, I left the session disquiet. I respect that Anastasia thinks that my relationship with Elena is repugnant; however, saying that Elena molested me is bullshit. The entire situation has left me lost and adrift, although I know that I'll do anything to keep Anastasia happy, and clean up every mistake that I've made when it comes to her. Elena is my friend, but flaunting our fucked up and dark past in Ana's face is no longer an option. Last night my beautiful girl told me Elena Lincoln had to go, and as soon as Ana gets here, I'm going to prove to her who comes first. My life is Ana and making her happy.

But I cannot forget that I have selfishly kept my sweet girl unenlightened and far-removed from my innermost secrets. If Ana really knew how ingrained and contorted my depravity is, or finds out that I've only beaten and fucked petite and brunette women, such as herself, Anastasia would make short work of escaping me, and my fucked up existence. That revelation is kept well camouflaged. If that heinous nightmare became my soul-marring, yet, irrefutable reality, and Anastasia did find out, I know that I wouldn't be able to recover from it.

Ana was too good to live in my darkness, but I refused to relinquish her. I wanted Ana, and my initial intentions would have stolen the good within her. I overlooked that fact and selfishly did my best to mold her into what I wanted. When Ana did leave me, notwithstanding that I didn't deserve her, being the selfish and smug man who I am, I had to get Anastasia back.

This angel gave me a second chance, and I can only hope she will be able to see past my dark past and as a normal man whom I want to become. The man Anastasia deserves.

Anastasia's stubbornly refused to move in with me, but I'm hoping that my near death experience has softened her resolve when it comes to our cohabitation. I'm hoping that after I tell her that I will no longer have anything else to do with Elena, Ana will be more amendable to the idea of moving in with me. Elena Lincoln isn't the only reason that Anastasia's mad as hell. Before her raging ass stomped to the elevator last night, I informed Ana that I would be adding a female CPO to her security detail. Since she already hates having a CPO, she went ballistic as soon as I told her. But extra security is a must since someone got close enough to Charlie Tango to sabotage it. I told Ana there were no if's, and's, or but's about it. She became so incensed, that while stomping her feet, I do believe I heard her hiss at me. I played on Ana worrying about the crash so she'd calm down, and my edict easily prevailed. I'm also hoping to get back into Ana's good graces by taking her and my family out on The Grace this weekend to celebrate Ana's birthday. That is if the weather cooperates, and at present, it doesn't look like it will.

"Sir, I will get those. . ."

Barney's voice blasts me back to reality and I find three sets of exhausted eyes staring at me. Taylor's cough and a quick shake of his head lets me know that whatever Barney was saying isn't important. Taylor must recognize my mood, grasping that my head isn't in this meeting and it's been a waste of time. But Barney's nose remains in his laptop. His determination to clear up the video surveillance has failed miserably, and we all regard his opinion on the perp outlandish - no matter how hard he tried to convince us.

"I think we're done, for now, gentlemen. I will not tolerate being told that we can't outmaneuver law enforcement or the NTSB. For Christ's sake, stop worrying about Seattle's PD, so far they haven't done shit and it's making their investigator's look foolish." I stop to stretch my aching back and wonder why I didn't let my mother take me to the hospital. "Our hands are effectively tied until the Eurocopter specialist arrives next week and gives us definitive proof of what this son of a bitch did to sabotage my helicopter," I grumble, dismissing them with a nod. I exhale deeply and wait for Welch and Barney to fucking leave.

Barney looks up from his laptop, haphazardly pushes his glasses higher up on his nose and starts gathering his shit together. Welch merely nods his head at me, abruptly turns on his heel and leaves my office. He's attuned to when I'm finished dealing with him, and it's a characteristic of Welch's that I appreciate. Taylor and I wait until Barney's slow ass is finally all packed up and out of my office. The kid's a genius, but his ass is slow as hell.

Groaning, I do my best to find a comfortable position to sit in. Spending hours in this chair didn't do my back any favors.

"Taylor, I want a female added to Miss Steele's security. The fact that I came close to meeting my maker isn't bothering me, but I don't want to put my family at risk. Assign Prescott as Miss Steele's second CPO. And add a female to my mother and sister as well. If needed, we can assign covert detail for my dad and Elliot. If I tried to put a CPO on either of them, they'd both try to kick my ass," I tell him, running my hands down my face. I'm fucking exhausted.

"Understood, Sir." Taylor sounds amused. He knows Anastasia was furious about having another CPO. Taylor also knows Ana doesn't care for Prescott, and he's probably imagining the hell I'm going to catch when I tell her Prescott will be her next best friend.

Taylor goes to make his way out of my office when I vaguely hear his cell phone going off. I look out my office's floor to ceiling windows and see that it's pouring rain. Frowning, I check the time once more and see it's a nearing ten until six. Call me spoiled, but where in the fuck are Ana and Parson? Ana could have had the courtesy to call me if she was running late, and Parson's ass fucking knows to call Taylor immediately if something goes awry. Pissed at me or not, Ana should have called. She knows that I go out of my head worrying about her. Reaching for my cell phone hurts my back, but I'm going to find out what in the hell is going on.

"Sir, we need to leave. Now," Taylor says from out of nowhere. His brusque, yet strangely calm words leave his mouth before my fingers make contact with my phone. I failed to notice that Taylor never made it out of my office. Startled, I look at him quizzically. I can count the times that Taylor's ordered me to do something on one hand. My blood pressure drops when I take Taylor's appearance into account. His usual stoic and don't fuck with me stance has disappeared. Taylor's pallid face is stone; his entire body tense. He is gripping his cell phone tightly; his expression unnerving. I stay seated, shaken over Taylor's foreboding behavior.

"Now, Sir. It's imperative," he says impatiently and with unconditional authority.

I shudder, every ache and pain I've been harboring is forgotten. In their stead, my heart begins to painfully hammer in my chest and I feel its vibrations in my ears. My legs obey as my brain orders them to stand and follow Taylor as he storms out of my office, fingers flying as he texts and walks. He immediately calls for Sawyer and Ryan. I freeze. Oh, fuck . . . Why is Taylor calling for them? Taylor's impatient bark for me to follow him jolts me back into action, and I sprint to the elevator to join Sawyer and Ryan, who are already there and speaking rapidly on their phones. What the fuck? Taylor roughly punches the elevator button, tension rolling off of him. I'm tearing my hair when Taylor's cell phone begins to vibrate. My stomach sours as I watch him read the message he's been sent. Taylor's lips form a white line and he squares his shoulders. He looks at Sawyer with a wary eye. My mind is whirling with every grisly scenario it can conjure up. Has there been an accident? It is pouring rain at rush hour after all. Is someone in my family sick? Injured?

Oh…Shit, shit, shit . . . Ana. She still hasn't arrived and didn't call my needy ass as she usually does. Is it Anastasia? Digging into my jeans pocket for my cell phone, I grit my teeth as I remember leaving it on my desk. I momentarily close my eyes before demanding Taylor to tell me what's going on. Inhaling deeply, I beg my eyes to stay closed for just a second longer before I have to face the unknown, but they fly open when Sawyer and Ryan's cells vibrate simultaneously. Sawyer is standing close enough to me that I cannot help but see the glaring text on his phone. Two words that Taylor routinely rams down the throats of his security team and that they've been trained for. Two words that encapsulate that something dire is happening or has happened. "Code Blue." From my vantage point, I can't see who sent the text, but I do see where they added, "Contact Immediately." This scenario is worse than I've feared and my security detail's worst nightmare. Someone has been seriously injured.

I lock eyes with Taylor's. "Tell me." I dread hearing his answer, but I must know.

Taylor stares at me, pausing before quietly and calmly answering. "It's Miss Steele, Sir. There's been an incident and Parson immediately sent me an alert. He is currently following the ambulance that's carrying Miss Steele to Harborview."

It's been a minute, so let's hope I remember how to do this. . .

(Yeah, this story has sub plot(s) from the trilogy in it, and no one is more shocked by that than I am.)

Here's the info you all want:

This story is void of BDSM.

Christian and Ana are not paired with another character.

There is no cheating in this story.

The story will be from Christian and Ana's points of view.

If you read my previous story, then you know I'm one of those irritating writers who won't disclose if their story has a happy ending. For me, knowing the end takes the fun from reading the story, and I won't answer the question if asked.

If you know me, you're aware that I hate long A/N's, so I'm throwing out what I need to say now, and then you don't have to read too much from my boring ass in the future-

First - I'd love to be like some writers who update like machines or on a specific day of the week, but if you know me, you're aware that my life tends to have unpredictable up's and down's because I have a child with special needs. I'm not saying you'll have to wait 2 weeks for an update, I'm saying I can't devote half of my time writing.

Second– If you read Inauspicious and left reviews, you may have been aware that I would reply to them in a review of my own. I only did that because I was very fortunate, and had a lot of reviews with each chapter. It was impossible to personally respond to each one. I have no idea how this story will be received or if I'll get many reviews, so I'll leave it up to those who read the story to tell me how you prefer I respond or not respond at all.

Last, but not least – I've got to thank graypearls for her outrageously, perfect idea. She knocked it out of the ball park this time. gaypearls always sees things that I'm oblivious to. I'm glad I've got a smart friend.

Okay, I'm done. Chapter 2 will be up tomorrow or the day after.

Anna