A/N: Thank you for the reviews on the last chapter. A few of you were upset that Taylor was brought into the decision on whether or not Gail could come back to work. I understand that. In this case, my reasoning is that Gail and Taylor come as a team. If one leaves or gets fired, the other won't stay. I think they wanted Taylor to have the opportunity to voice any concerns he might have since he knows her best to ensure they won't leave. Not in a "man tells woman" what to do kind of way because if the situation was reversed and Taylor was looking to come back after an injury or accident they would look to Gail. It's okay if you don't see it that way and I enjoy reading the different ways my story gets taken because I kind of have tunnel vision. It's my story and I understand all the motivations and the characters but not everything comes out in the wash. Sometimes deliberately, other times, it just wasn't that important to me to write at the time.
Happy New Year to all.
It has been so nice having Gail back in the main house. While it was nice being able to be busy taking care of everything since I am still not working, it was getting awfully lonely in this big place all by myself day after day. Just knowing she is a few rooms away has been really nice. We were even thrilled when one day last week she asked if I could handle dinner because she was tired and wanted to lay down. Just knowing that she is willing to recognize when she is fatigued and then take self care measures was a huge relief and enough to get the men off her back. The first few days were brutal with them calling to check in every hour but I told them off after the second day of nonstop meddling. Now things are pretty much business as usual except she still calls someone to help her lift heavy things like laundry baskets and large pots.
Counseling has been going along swimmingly. Christian still sees Dr. Flynn every week but even he says that going to Dr. Simmons was a good idea since she is definitely impartial. The only bump in the road has been over my working, or better said, not working. Of course Christian's position is that since I don't have to work, why should I. As the wedding is drawing closer I am staying pretty busy but once that is over, then what? Christian told me that the publishing company I was working for is struggling a bit and he was thinking of buying it for me to run but I told he that would be nuts, I don't have a business acumen. I have a love of the English language and literature but that doesn't mean I should run a publishing company. He explained that as GEH grows he is finding more and more need to have a publishing branch to take care of brochures and magazines and things of that nature and suggested that I may find a position that is suitable in his company and I told him that I was open to it if I was able to secure the position on my own merit. Of course he scoffed and said that I needed to realize that unfortunately with a name like Grey, I would always question whether it was my merits or my name that got me something going forward. That was an eye opener because he is right. I don't want him to be but I know he is.
The tell tale ding chime announces someone has just arrived so I get up from the table where I was working on the seating chart for the wedding to see who it is. I am beyond thankful when Sullivan comes into view with Grace and Mia in tow.
"Hi darling. Mia told me you were working on the seating chart when she met me at the hospital to have lunch. We decided to come here first to see if you would like some help." Grace tells me while giving me a big hug.
I smile at Mia with relief. "I have been working on this thing all morning but it's been really difficult because I don't know most of these people." I admit. "But I would hate to keep you from your lunch date." Mia and Grace have a weekly mother daughter lunch date and I think it is really sweet.
They look at one another and Mia speaks up. "About that, mother and I were talking and since you are about to become another daughter we wanted to know if you would like to be included on our weekly lunches." Mia looks so hopeful and I am honored.
"I don't want to intrude…" I tell them honestly.
Grace takes my hand, "You would not be intruding at all. If anything I think Mia would be grateful not to be at the center of my attention the entire time." she assures me with Mia standing behind her nodding in a agreement making me laugh.
"Okay. I would love that." I concede.
Grace looks over at the dining room table where I have set up camp. "Why don't we work on this seating chart for a little while first and then we can go to lunch. Mia heard about this new Mexican restaurant down the street and we were going to try them out. Do you like Mexican food?" Grace asks me as we sit down and Mia eyes what I have already done.
Before I can answer Mia exclaims, "Oh that would have been a disaster!" she laughs so hard tears come to her eyes.
Grace and I look over, questioning what she is referring to and Mia picks up two cards I have sitting at one of the tables I had laid out. "Mr. Ellis and Mrs. Ellis are in the middle of a nasty divorce right now." she tells me before picking up another card from the same table. "Mrs. Ellis came home to find Mr. Ellis in bed with Ms. Foster. And they were all sitting at the same table." Mia says between breaths, still laughing so hard she has to hold her belly.
"Oh dear." Grace says softly.
I put my hands up. "I told you I don't know these people. I am hardly up on the whose who of high Seattle and Bellvue society." I defend myself while at the same time grateful that someone spotted it before it became a catastrophe.
Grace, diplomatic as ever tries to calm my feathers. "Don't worry about it Ana, that is why were are here to help. Once we are finished we will have a few other eyes go over it before we finalize it just to make sure we didn't miss anything."
"I do like your set up Ana." Mia tells me know that she has calmed down. I made business cards with everyone who RSVP'd and then cut out circles with numbers on them so I could have some sort of visual. "Mom just makes boring lists."
Grace shrugs, "Everyone does things in their own ways. Truth is I never thought of doing it this way before, I might have to try it for our next gala."
I sit nervously while watching Mia and Grace tediously study what I have done so far and thankfully aside from the Ellis/Foster blunder, everything else seems fine. We spend the next hour with me reading the name on the next card and Grace assigning them a spot while Mia gives me all the need to know gossip about the them. I did notice that the more Mia seemed to know about a particular person or couple the closer Grace would place them to the bridal table. On the rare occasion that Mia would say that she didn't know someone Grace would mark their name with an asterisk and put them at the table closest to the tent opening and security.
Less than an hour later we were finished. Grace looks at the table of unknowns apprehensively. "Please ask Christian about the people at table ten, surely he knows them and if they are close enough business associates, we can always move them closer later. Here, I will mark some couples that you could exchange them with if need be." She tells me and takes a pen and puts stars on different cards.
Satisfied that our work is done, I leave them to find Sullivan to tell him that I am going to lunch with the Grey ladies. I probably should have alerted him sooner but I forgot. It isn't like I grew up having to tell another person my every move. As I suspected, the news was greeted with a raised eyebrow but then he surprises me and doesn't fuss. "I have been wanting to try that place out. Let's go." He tells me while typing on his phone, no doubt alerting Taylor to our movements.
Twenty minutes later we are seated with Sullivan and one other guy who I haven't seen before today. Sullivan introduced him as Varette and it is his first day on the job. Sullivan told me that Christian has been increasing security to get ready for our move into the house. Because the property is so large, there is only so much cameras and security features can do so he thought it would be a good idea to up the staff. I make a note to myself to talk to Christian about it tonight. I don't disagree with the decision but I would rather find out that kind of stuff from my man and not my personal security.
Chips and salsa are my weakness and I have to practically sit on my hand not to eat through the whole basket myself. I am happy for my restraint when Grace turns to me. "We are so looking forward to your bachelorette party this weekend. I took it upon myself to order some penis straws for the occasion." She tells me excitedly before reaching into her bag to show me one proudly. "Aren't these great?"
Seeing the prim and proper Grace Grey holding up a rather large penis with a straw bottom but only an opening at the slit is both hilarious and horrifying all at once. I feel my face flush with embarrassment but at the same time I can't stop the giggles. Every time someone takes a sip with one of those it is going to look like they are giving a blow job.
"Mom!" Mia exclaims loudly. "People are looking."
Grace tucks it back into her purse and takes another sip of her margarita. "Let 'em look. Just cause I am older doesn't mean I am dead. Besides, you should see the ones your dad ordered for Christian." she says before letting out a small burp. "Oooh. Excuse me. This thing is strong."
I shake my head and laugh. "I don't want to know what he ordered." I admit because that is the last thing I expected from Grace.
The waiter comes with our order and places my tacos in front of me. I got them in authentic style and they look delicious. I pick up the lime and squirt juice over one and they are as delicious as they looked. The conversation died down while we were occupied with our meals but Grace ordered a second margarita and by the time she finished it she was hammered.
Mia looks over at her mother in shock. "Please tell me you don't have to go back into work today." she pleads.
Grace shakes her head no. "I am offff the clock." she sing songs. "You know, you know I don't drink while on the clock."
"Well thank God for small favors." Mia huffs. "Ana, I best get her home before she embarrasses us any further." Mia tells me as she waives the waiter over to ask for the check. I reach into my purse to fish out a little money to put towards my meal but Mia shakes her head. "The rule is that we take turns picking out where we go and that person pays. You can get the next one."
"Thank you. I will" I promise. I get up and hug them both good-bye once I am sure Mia will be the one driving home since neither of us opted for an alcoholic beverage.
By the time I get home, Christian is already there which is unusual being that it is so early. "Everything okay?" I ask after he gives me a kiss.
"You might want to sit down." He tells me solemnly.
All the fun and lightness leaves the room only to be filled with nervous dread. I sit down on the corner of the sofa and Christian sits on the ottomon across from me and takes a deep breath. "Elena somehow escaped from the hospital today. We are sure she had help because she was still not walking on her own but somehow didn't make it to physical therapy this morning after the orderly arrived to take her down. He is also missing and the person guarding her was in the restroom when she left but he typically left once she was in the elevator anyhow and his relief would normally be down at the therapy room to take over so not like that matters." he says angrily.
"But shouldn't they have been with her the entire time?" I demand, even though I know Christian is just telling me what he knows.
He nods. "I talked to the police chief and he said that was against protocol. The guards shouldn't have ever left her in the care of hospital staff like that. Thank God she didn't go after my mother."
I don't know what to do so I just reach over and wrap my arms around him. He hugs me back and we stay wrapped up in one another for a while in silence.
"Your mother happens to be very drunk right now. One too many margaritas." I tell him all the sudden aware that she might be in danger.
"I know. When we rang in to Sullivan he told us. I told him not to hurry your little lunch party up but to send the new guy with them and to get you home safe and sound. I might have sent some more security from GEH over as backup but hopefully you just thought they were other diners and you weren't worried. I would have told you but I didn't want to scare you." He tells me earnestly and I believe him. "I am glad they have included you on their girlie lunches though."
That reminds me of what I wanted to talk to him about. "Sullivan told me you hired more security for the house. Why didn't you tell me?" I ask softly, not wanting to come across as accusing him of keeping me in the dark. He deserves to have the benefit of the doubt.
After a few seconds of silence, I look up at him and see that he is pondering his answer. "Taylor suggested it and I just agreed to it, baby. I didn't think about it as anything important. I'm sure I would have told you as our moving date got closer and it came up but I wasn't trying to keep you in the dark."
Satisfied with his answer, I snuggle against him again. Wanting to block all memories of Elena Lincoln out and about from my thoughts and instead enjoying a rare midafternoon cuddle with my favorite man on the planet.
I think I must have fallen asleep because I am comfortably wrapped in a blanket with a pillow under my head when Gail comes in to announce that dinner is ready and Christian is sitting on the loveseat talking softly on the phone. I shake the drowsiness away and sit up.
"I hope the breakfast bar is okay because I didn't want to move the seating chart from the dining room table." Gail asks, unsure.
I nod, still wiping the sleep from my eyes. I probably need to take pictures of it and write it down into list form before turning in for the night. "Thank you Gail." I tell her because had she moved it I would have had to start from scratch.
Christian looks at me and Gail and nods his approval as well as he finishes up the call.
As we climb up on the bar stools to eat our dinner, fried chicken and macaroni and cheese Christian asks me about the seating chart. I tell him that his mother and sister saved the day and about the Ellis/Foster debacle.
He laughs. "I had no idea. I don't keep up with the rumor mill so I am glad they do and came and helped. The last thing we need is a scene at our wedding dinner."
"Which reminds me, there are about ten names they didn't know and wanted me to ask you about. Will you have a look while I take pictures so we can move it?"
Christian smiles, "of course, baby."
Once we are done eating we go into the dining room and he examines our work. "Table ten." I direct him to the list of unknowns.
He points to a card and tells me who they are and why they were invited and as I suspected, they are business strategic invites. Then he gets to one and frowns. "I don't know who this is." he tells me pointing to the name Bernard MacSharry.
I look at him wide eyed. If I don't know him and he doesn't know him and the Grey women don't know him how is he invited to the wedding? "What do we do?"
Christian picks up the card. "I'm going to take this to Taylor and Barney and see what they can work out. Maybe they will find something that will trigger a memory. Find the RSVP for him tomorrow and we will make sure it is a real card from us. It may be a simple oversight or it could be a security issue but no sense in getting worked up over it since we don't know anything yet." he reassures me.
Relieved that it is going to be handled I get a feeling of extreme need for my man. I tap his shoulder to get his attention now that he has gone back to surveying the entire guest list and put on the sexiest eyes I can. At least I hope they come off as sexy.
He turns to look at me and gives me a sly grin. "Does my little vixen need something?" he teases and I immediately look down at the ground. I need something alright. After a day like today I need my dominant.
"Go into the bedroom and strip. Wait for me, sitting on your knees in the middle of the bed. I'll be there in a few minutes." he rasps at me in a voice that makes me wet.
I head straight to the bedroom and do exactly what he says. Once I've climbed up onto the bed I get into the position he asked me to and try to clear my mind. No unwanted guest, no penis straws, no Elena… just me waiting to do whatever it is my beautiful Dom wants of me. This is safe.
A/N: No lemon this chapter but ending like this guarantees a lemon in the next one. ;-)