"You know I use to dislike how prompt you always were, but today I appreciate it to no end." Elliot declares as I enter my Escala penthouse. Ana and I never once considered selling our first home. It has served us well. I can't even count how many times Ana and I met here for lunches and midday fucks. There are so many delicious memories.
"Lelliot, I see you have found the bottle."
"Liquid gold. I say we skip any warm-up drinks and hit it head on first." I nod in agreement.
I purchased two bottles of the Dalmore 62, scotch whiskey before Phoebe and Ava were even a year old. At the time, they almost cost me half a million dollars for the two. If I told Elliot how much the bottle cost now, I wonder if he would consume it so readily. Regardless, all those years ago, I knew we would need to it when the time came. When we gave our blessing for our only daughter's hand in marriage.
"First? Can infer you wish to drink more than this bottle?"
"Absolutely hotshot. There is a bottle or two in your stash that I want to more than taste."
"When you gave Daniel your blessing marry Ava, and met me to drink the first of these bottles, we didn't drink anymore afterward. If you recall, Kate was less impressed with your inebriated state." I remind Elliot. We drank the first bottle at his and Kate's home. I have been wiser, scheduling our brotherly meeting here at Escala rather than the sound. Ana is out with Ray for lunch and they are likely to go out together afterward.
"This time we are here at Escala, and I don't intend on going home. Kate knows that today we met with Bryan and that you are going to be wrecked. I am staying the night here with you. I have sent Kate a text, knowing that you are going to need me to soothe your fatherly issues of giving your only beloved daughter away. She agreed that you would need me, your only brother and best friend. Gail sent over a truckload of food. Seattle could flood and we would be okay for a month or two." Elliot say already grabbing some chicken. I don't disagree with anything he has said. It's the truth. I rip off my tie, blazer and untie the first few buttons for my shirt as Elliot pours the first of our drinks.
"Remember the rules. First drink, straight down." I take the glass and in tandem with my brother let the amber liquid slide down my throat. Good stuff. worth every drop!"
"Second rule. You start talking, but since it is you, Christian - master of the universe- I can master anything-never thought you would be married and with kids then become the greatest family man- Grey; you need to have another drink. It will help you find the words you are looking for." Elliott knows me so well. Fuck, this is the part I was hoping to avoid, where the father of the daughter getting married talks. I gladly take the second drink and let the liquid courage take hold. Elliot and I move to the couch. Might as well get comfortable.
"Does Phoebe have any early ideas on what type of wedding she wants?" Elliot starts me off, knowing I would need his help.
"Not that she has told me, nor Ana. I mean all of this was a little unexpected, but between Phoebe, Ana, Ava, Kate, Mia and our mother who knows. As long as Phoebe gets what she wants, I don't care. Let it cost one or a hundred million dollars... It doesn't matter., Phoebe has a blank cheque."
"Considering the little play weddings our daughters use to put on, you may get lucky if it is only $100 million. Though Phoebe is far more level headed now." I grin a little remembering her play weddings. Phoebe would put on a white dress, costume tiara, pretend veil and walk down the stairs as if she was off to get married.
"I never wanted a girl" I utter, though wish I could take it back. I have never mentioned this before. It has been one of my biggest secrets.
"What?" Elliot almost shrieks. If the whiskey he is drinking wasn't thousands of dollar a glass, he would probably have dropped it.
"You know my background, the situation with Elena and how I reacted when Ana told me she was pregnant with our first child...Fuck I hate myself for that. You know I got over that quickly…. When we found out we were having a boy I was relieved. When Ana and I decided to have our second child, privately I prayed for another boy. When we found out it was a girl, I pretended to be happy, but I wasn't. I was petrified and secretly sulked, for months. I didn't know what to do and felt it would be too hard... Makeup, hair, PMS, and all that shit. You know what Mia was like growing up."
"Yeah, I love Mia, but she could put anyone off having a daughter."
"I couldn't imagine someone like me, before Ana came into my life, being around my daughter. I had no idea what to do with a daughter. It wasn't until Phoebe was born and I held her that I started to change my opinion. To be honest I was shit scared and part of me thought I would have been better off if the baby I was holding, was a boy… but fuck Phoebe owned me, less than a minute later. When Phoebe was seven months old she said her first word. Clear as day. Dada. Fuck she was so young and already so damn bright. I couldn't imagine life then without a daughter. If I could have, I would have knocked myself out for ever thinking that I would prefer another son." I take another long drink, burying the memory.
"Shit bro. I never knew. Ava was born before Phoebe. You dotted over her." Elliot comments shocked. I just shrugged. He is right. Ana wanted to buy Ava a dollhouse when she was born which I upgraded to a mansion version doll home with handcrafted furniture. At the time, I was happy to have a niece. A daughter, not so much.
"Phoebe was always my little girl, even though she strived for independence constantly. One time when she was six, I was playing tea parties with her. I told Phoebe I didn't want her to grow up, and that she should stay home forever. She replied saying that it wasn't possible because she was growing taller, one day would get married and have to move out. I sent her to bed early that evening for that comment." I smirk and laugh. Ana was away at a conference or else I would never have gotten away with that.
"Instead at the age of 28, you sent her to Hong Kong for two years?" Elliot partly jokes, though mainly to question my thinking.
"I hated that also. I counted the days till her time was up to return to Seattle. I even flew over to Hong Kong pick her up, as if she was a ten-year-old at a friend's birthday party." I didn't even remind Phoebe or tell her I was going over. This way there wasn't time for her to find a loophole. I wanted my only daughter back home and working in the office near mine.
"If you hadn't, then Ava or Ana would have. Nice touch with re-employing Bryan. Are you going to put your future son in law on your team?" Elliot smirks. I cock my head to the side slightly. "I knew it. I guess it an effective way to keep your future son in law in check and make sure he is treating Phoebe properly. I wonder how much time he will spend in Phoebe's office, come to think of it." I almost spit out the last of my drink at the thought.
"Fuck, I am going to have the door to Phoebe's office removed. Maybe even a wall."
"I can send a construction crew over to complete the job… now talking about jobs, tell me what you ended up doing with that dweeb James Kenson after you found out how he treated Phoebe."
"I did nothing" This is at least part is true.
"I didn't physically hurt him nor did I instruct an of my staff to do the same," Elliot looks at me, knowing I am telling the truth. He stands up though not his usual stable self and walks over to the kitchen. I can see him grab a clean cup and a pour a few liquids in it. I can't tell what he is pouring. I am either going to need a stronger prescription for my glasses or I am drunker than I think.
Elliot looks unusually stoic as he hands me the glass. "Drink this" his expression shocks me to the point that I take the drink and without question follow his lead. Drinking the entire content in one shot.
"Fuck Elliot, what was that drink?" It burnt going down my throat.,
"Truth serum. Now hot shot, tell me what you did to Kenson after you found out that he had cheated on Phoebe, and was at least partially responsible for her losing her baby? The truth this time. Don't tell me that you left him alone, and he decided to move to the middle of nowhere" I take another drink. I need it thinking of that fucker.
"I only made one phone call." That's the truth.
"To? I know you can be a man of little words, but you are too drunk to be so right now. Talk little bro.."
"I called the CEO of the hotel division. Maybe suggested that if James Kenson was in charge of a hotel within thousands of miles of Seattle or New York that I would effectively act to bankrupt it. I then let it be known to every other reputable hotel corporation that I would do the same to them if they hired the fucker." I state basically.
"So where is he now?"
"At some minor, insignificant hotel in the middle of America."
"Wow… smart" Elliot holds his cup up and salutes me. This was a better punishment then death. James was ambitious. Hungrily arrogant and ready to do anything to get ahead. I ensured that he would have to live a life opposite to what he wanted and aimed for. "Did he ever try and get hold of Phoebe again, since the night of the ball?"
"Never. If he does then he knows that his position in that run down, flea invested motel he is running will seem like paradise to where he will end up." I state coldly.
"I have to hand it to you Christian. You are a genius, scary as hell, but a genius."
"No one messes with one of my family members. Especially not my daughter."
"Though Bryan is likely messing with your little girl right now. Where are they actually?" I sigh.
"I lent him the keys,"
"Keys? You make it sound like he borrowed your car."
"Bryan is out on 'The Grace' with Phoebe? On the wide open waters."
"Yes.." I frown.
"Did I see a bottle of Louis XIII cognac last time we were here? I think you are going to need it."
"Yes. Back of the liquor cabinet"
Bryan hasn't stopped smiling off his face since he and I walked out of the Grey House today. Truth is, neither have I. He grips my hand and raises it to kiss it,
"You're far more relaxed now. Your blood pressure was pretty high before."
"I will be honest. That was the hardest meeting I ever been too, but the most important. I thought for a minute that your dad was going to say no, have security knock me out cold and then your Uncle Elliot buries me in cement."
"He might still. You better watch yourself, Walsh. Upset me once and your life might be on the line." I say playfully, though there is some truth in it.
"I never will. I promise. I will never hurt you."
"I know. I won't hurt you either." I reply softly and honestly. Bryan smiles and leans over to kiss me, only stopping when we hear a noise from the front of the car. In true Christian Grey fashion, he sent Taylor with us. He masks his interruption by pretending to rub his throat as if he has a bug.
"Phoebe and Bryan, we are here," Taylor informs us. I look around and see we are at the marina where my father keeps his boat.
"Ready? Bryan ask I nod.
Taylor opens my door for me, smiling slightly at me. "Have a good time, little Miss." I laugh a little at the use of his, Gail's and my family security teams little nickname for me.
"Thank you, Taylor." He looks at me straight into my eyes, and I feel a strange connection. I quickly hugged him, feeling it appropriate. "Also nice you Intervention before in trying to stop Bryan kissing me."
"Call it, substitute father syndrome." I laugh but feel a blanket of warmth come over me. Taylor then looks behind me where Bryan is now standing. "Look after her."
"Security is on board. " Oh for a minute I thought Taylor would be coming with us. He must be able to read me as he looks at me. "Trust me, Phoebe, you don't want me on board. If you think your father is protective, then I would be worse."
"Yes oh. Time for you both to go."
Bryan takes my hand and leads me to my dad's boat. On board is security but also two of his staff. "We are going out to sea?"
"Yes. I know how much you enjoy the peace on to the water, so I thought it would be ideal right now. Unless you would rather go somewhere else."
"No. It's perfect."
I lie on the deck of the boat. Soaking in the sun, and feeling the breeze as we sail across the sound. Bryan is next to me. We are silent, but enjoying this moment of peace. We need this, not just because of the last few days, but also the last year. Those twelve months have been wonderful but difficult due to distance. The silence is only broken when Bryan's cell phone beeps. I watch as he reads the text, and tries to hide his smile. It coincides with the boat coming to a slow stop. I watch, as Bryan gets to his feet and then holds his hand out for me.
"We are going somewhere?"
"Yes." Bryan doesn't say anything else and because I trust him, I don't ask anything else. I cock my head to the side when I notice that he check to my feet, and looks relieved.
Bryan leads me about half a mile across a path that leads to the most pristine beach I have ever seen. The only sound is the soft waves that are hitting the shore. The island is the only one unpopulated in the state of Washington. It is natural and almost untouched by man. After walking for about ten minutes we stop, where I see it a blanket, with a picnic basket and a bottle of champagne.
"You arranged this?"
"Yes. Though I had some help. Sit. You haven't eaten much today You must be hungry."
"I am. Now," I utter suggestively.
"Phoebe Grace Grey. What am I going to do with you?" Bryan's reaction makes me laugh out loud. Really laugh. I even fleeced to close my eyes but when I open them, I find Bryan isn't standing next to me, but rather on one knee. Oh...
"Actually I know exactly what I want to do with you. I want to marry you. Phoebe, my first proposal wasn't fitting. Our lives together have been crazy, busy and incredible. Adjectives which are likely to continue for the rest of our lives. I pray so, because it means I will be with you, and you with me. Though for this once I wanted a more quiet environment, one where it was just you and me. I love you, Phoebe. You are beautiful, kind, brilliant and brave. I want to live every day with you. Marry me? Please?"
"Yes. I will marry you."
I raise my head as high as I can, which is a hell of a lot more than Elliott can right now when I hear the elevator door open. We consumed the bottle of whiskey, and one other bottle. We finally stopped over an hour ago and would have passed out if it was for my security detail bringing us food that Gail had wisely sent over for us. I pray that it is Taylor returning, with some magic cure to our drunken state. Slowly my eyes adjust the soft light of the evening. I see not one person but two.
"Just as we expected, Steele. They're in the same state as when Ava got engaged. You would have thought they learned their lesson last time." I narrow my eyes at Kates' dry disapproving tone. At least I try. Even my eye muscles are failing me. Instead, I chose not to spend much time looking at my sister in law and focus on Ana. The first thing I see is Ana's long, toned legs, then the hem of her skirt which leads up to her perfect waist and then her chest. If I wasn't so drunk, I would be so hard that it would hurt. My delicious thoughts come to an abrupt end when I see the expression on my wife. Along with her hot body, she is also fuming. Somehow it is an enticing mix.
"No, you are wrong Katherine. " Ana snaps, causing Kate to tilt her head confused. "They are worse. At that time they were intoxicated, bow they are practically comatose."
"Why don't we call Grace? I am sure she will give us the name of a doctor that can pump the stomachs of our supposedly mature and respectable husbands," Elliot and I look at each other, shaking our heads, though it might be an idea.
"K.. ka...te... I... wwwee.. .." Elliot tries to speak but can't. I know better than try.
"Elliot, save it. Ana, why don't we have a glass of wine and organize something to eat. They are going to need to eat."
"Good idea. Why don't we order burgers and pepperoni pizza with cheese loaded fries." Elliot and I look at each. Both of us turning green at Ana's suggestion.
"I'm going to be sick."