Disclaimer: Most of the characters in this story are those from the Fifty Shades Trilogy. They remain the rightful property of E L James. Recognisable brands, places, music or films remain the property of their owners. No copyright infringement is intended.


Hello Lovelies,

I hope this short story reaches you in good health and happiness. This is just a two-chapter story, a little something for the festive period. I really hope you enjoy it. (Please check the summary above to know what this story is about - it saves me inserting it here!)

I'd like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. I hope the holiday season brings you love, light and plenty of laughter.

Thank you for reading.

Much Love,

Chelsea x


1989

"Grace, darling, I think we have enough decorations." Cary's signature chuckle worked its way up to me, but I wasn't having an inch of what he was saying.

"There is no such thing as having enough decorations," I huffed, shooting him a stern look from my position at the top of the stepladder. "Just as there is no such thing as having too many presents. Or maybe I should return yours to the store?"

"Hey –" he jerked his head back and broke into a roar of a laugh. "I didn't say anything about presents. I just think we can lay off the lights now. Our electricity bill is going to be through the roof in the new year."

"And?" I shrugged my shoulders. "We can afford it. The firm is doing great since we moved here and I just got promoted at the hospital. We're hardly struggling, Cary."

I climbed down the ladder and took a step back to admire my handiwork. Our 7ft tree was alive with twinkling lights, each branch adorned with a gold or silver ornament. Admittedly, it was a little on the larger side and we struggled to manoeuvre it into the house, but it's Christmas. However, I do wish we hadn't waited until Christmas Eve to put up the tree, but our schedules just wouldn't allow us to erect it sooner. Carrick has been in and out of court all week and I was in work until 6am this morning. Now, it is a manic rush to get everything in order.

"Right, do you think we need some more lights at the top?" I asked. "It's looking a little sparse on the left side."

"It's fine," Cary sighed. "You're worrying about nothing. Look at this place. It's like an elf exploded in here."

I cast a quick eye around the sitting room and even I have to admit it is looking rather festive. Thick green and red garlands were strung around the fireplace, oversized stockings hanging from it, each of our names embroidered on the fronts. I had even put some fake snow around the hearth, thinking I will use Cary's hiking boots to make it look like Santa had brought it in on his feet.

Proud of my efforts, I glanced up at my husband and smirked at his expression. I slipped my arm around his waist and dropped my head onto his chest.

"It's a good job I love you, Grace Trevelyan," he quietly laughed, his hand gripping my shoulder. I felt him kiss the top of my head.

"I just want this Christmas to be extra special," I said. "It's our first holiday in this house. Our first in Seattle."

"And it will be special no matter what," he assured me. "You know the kids are happy with whatever we do."

"It's our first Christmas as a proper family," I shrugged against him. "Just the five of us. A complete family."

He hugged me a little tighter as I said this, his spicy cologne tickling my nose.

"So, we're done now then?" he asked.

"I think so," I nodded. "I'm happy with three. Three is a good number."

"I meant the decorations, not kids," he snorted. I pushed him away and shook my head. He was always the joker. "Seriously, Grace, you didn't need to go to all this effort. Mia is too small to take any of this in."

"I know that, but I still want to make it special for Elliot and Christian," I reminded him. "They're older now, they get to enjoy it more than they used to."

The past six months have been intense, I cannot deny that. Our lives had been uprooted and we made the move from our home in Detroit to a better life in Seattle. Carrick was in line to take over a legal firm out here and it was an opportunity we couldn't pass up. I pulled a few strings and secured myself a job at the children's hospital, and the boys seemed happy enough with the move. Elliot had always been an easy-going boy, but I thought Christian would find the move stressful. I was surprised when he seemed to take it in his stride. I wondered, briefly, if he was happy to finally be away from the city of his birth – the place of his horrific torture before we found him.

When we arrived in Seattle, it wasn't long before our social worker contacted us with news of a little girl in need of fostering. She had been abandoned by her birth mother and we were only supposed to look after her for a short time, just until a forever home was found for her. I think our social worker knew all along that I wouldn't be able to give the baby up. I fell in love with Mia the second I had her in my arms. I knew she was mine. The adoption papers were filed and confirmed eight weeks ago. My dark-haired, brown-eyed daughter is nine months old and the talk of the town. Everyone is entranced by her, but there's a copper-haired boy who is most enamoured with my daughter.

Christian has doted on Mia since the day she was dropped off. Knowing instantly that I wasn't going to give her up, I introduced Mia to her big brothers and watched as they interacted with her. While Elliot was impressed by his sister's arrival, Christian was obsessed with her. He stayed by her side, didn't like being separated from her, not even for a minute. He would happily stand at her side and watch her for hours on end. She had captured his heart but, more crucially, she gave him a voice. Christian had been silent since I had first seen him, when he arrived at the hospital and was placed under my care. He never spoke a word, didn't speak at all for the two years leading up to Mia's arrival. We never found out exactly what he had endured with his birth mother, but it was enough to scar him both physically and mentally. The only sounds we heard him make was the howling cries we'd hear from his bedroom in the dead of night.

He wouldn't even let us hold him, comfort him out of his nightmares. He still wouldn't let us touch him, not properly. But Mia is slowly bringing him out of his shell. He is no longer the shy boy who cowers in corners.

A few weeks ago, I heard Christian's first words. He is six and a half years old.

I was alone with the children, trying to keep them entertained while juggling some paperwork for a lecture I was scheduled to present on childhood diseases. Elliot was busy running around the house, pretending to fight evil mermaids who had taken over the Sound. Mia was asleep in her bouncing chair, Christian sitting on the floor next to her. He was flicking through a picture book, but he spent most of his time looking at Mia. I had set up camp on the couch, cocooning myself in my files and notes. I left Christian and Mia alone for a few minutes, five max, so I could use the bathroom. When I returned, I heard a soft voice filling the room.

"It's okay," Christian whispered. I peeked my head around the door and saw him leaning over Mia, his hand resting on her stomach. Her face was red and scrunched up, a warning that she would need changing very soon. "It's okay. You don't need to cry."

I was utterly dumbstruck by the sound of his voice. It was angelic, ethereal. It made my chest swell and burn with a newfound sense of love and admiration for this tiny human. I tried to compose myself before I entered the room again. I didn't want to draw too much attention to what I had witnessed, knowing that the key to Christian's development was to take things slow and steady. We couldn't rush or overwhelm him.

"Oh dear, what's wrong with Miss Mia?" I hummed as I stepped into the room. I came to Christian's side and crouched down next to him. I sniffed the air and shook my head. "Oh, I think someone needs changing."

Christian leaned back and edged away from me. I turned to look at him and caught his eyes, those round grey irises of his staring back at me with intrigue. I resisted the sudden urge to run my fingers down his cheek.

"Christian, sweetie, would you like to help me change Mia?" I asked him, softening my voice. He didn't respond. "We all know how much she cries when we undress her, but she is calm when she's around you."

He shot her a glance, unsure of whether to agree or not.

"Do you want to help me?" I pressed on. He gulped and slowly nodded his head, his eyes asking me what to do next. "Can you fetch me her bag from the hallway?" I pointed to the door behind us. "Do you know which bag is Mia's?"

He nodded again and climbed to his feet. He walked silently, appearing a moment later with the large purple bag trailing on the carpet. He struggled to lift it up and held it out to me. Our fingers grazed as I took it from him and I was amazed when he didn't shy away from my touch, like he had done in the past.

I made quick work of Mia's diaper, asking Christian to pass me various items from the bag and even helping me button up her sleepsuit afterwards. He seemed to enjoy the responsibility and I made a mental note to include Christian more than I had already, give him tasks centred around Mia.

As I bagged up the dirty diaper I caught him mumbling something to himself.

"You have such a beautiful voice, Christian," I whispered, mimicking his tone. I brought my head closer to his and smiled at him. "Mia loves the sound of your voice. You stopped her from crying when I went to the bathroom, didn't you?"

His chest rose with a deep breath and he shrugged his shoulders, looking so much like Elliot in that moment.

"Do you think Mia would like to hear you sing?"

"I…" he lifted his chin quickly. His eyes widened and he shook his head. "I… I can't sing."

Oh my boy… You're talking. Finally!

"But everyone can sing," I replied. My voice was shaking with pride at this milestone. "Darling, I am sure that you have a wonderful singing voice… It'll be just you and me. We could try singing a nursery rhyme?"

"Twinkle Twinkle?" he mumbled.

"You want to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?" I asked. He nodded. "That is a brilliant choice!"

I had recently started teaching Christian how to play the rhyme on the piano. I began teaching him how to play a while ago, after noticing his fascination with the monochrome keys that each make a different sound.

"I don't know how to sing," he sighed, his tiny voice quivering.

"Just copy me," I shook my head. "It'll be okay. Just follow my lead and you'll pick it up, I promise."

I wished so hard that I could wrap him up in my arms, longing to hug him. I hoped in time he would allow us to touch him, show him the full-force of our love and affection.

I started singing, slow at first, trying to coax him into joining me. I sang the rhyme twice before he finally chimed in. I don't know how many times we sang that song, but with each repetition he began to relax and sing with ease. I even saw a crack of a smile on his rosy lips.

"Wow, you were amazing!" I grinned, beaming from ear to ear. "And it wasn't hard at all, was it?"

He shook his head.

"And Mia clearly loved it," I nodded to her. Her eyes were firmly shut, her black lashes fanning across her cheeks.

"She liked it?" Christian asked. He stepped forward and peered over Mia. He looked confused. "She's sleeping."

"You sang her a lullaby," I told him. "You sang so beautifully that she fell asleep. That's what babies do."

"She liked me," he whispered to himself, another smile radiating from him.

"She loves you. And so do I," I reminded him. I tell him a hundred times a day just how much I love him, afraid that he will think otherwise. "We all love you so much, Christian. And we would love it if you kept talking to us. We want to hear your lovely voice. Do you think you can do that?"

He rocked on the spot, pondering the idea, but then nodded at me. His fringe flopped against his forehead, sticking in his eyes for a minute before he swiped it to the side. A quick trim would solve that, but I know he isn't ready to have fingers scraping through his hair. Maybe if he saw me having my hair cut first…

I walked into the adjoining kitchen and dumped the waste in the trashcan. I'm glad we decided to merge the two rooms together, to create one big living space. In the future I imagine we will separate the rooms again, but for now I love the homely feel. This is our forever home. Our family home.

I was just about to return to the couch when I felt a tug on my shirt. I spun around and found Christian at my side, staring up at me, his head only just in line with my hip.

"Are you okay, darling?"

He picked at the hem of his shirt.

"C-Can I have some food, please?" he asked, his eyes shooting in the direction of the fridge.

"Of course you can!" I announced eagerly, glad he had asked. There was a time he would rummage in the cabinets and hide food under his bed, keeping stores so he would never go hungry. "I'll get you whatever you want. Do you want a sandwich? Or maybe you would like some of Daddy's special cookies…"

"Cookies," he gasped, his gaze lighting up and becoming brighter than I had ever seen.

I wished I could bottle up the happiness I saw in his eyes in that moment. It was a rarity, a glimpse and you'll miss it moment. Like a shooting star darting across the night sky. A glimmer of hope that he will one day find the inner peace he deserves…

I'm pulled from my reverie with a sudden nudge in my side. I startled and almost pulled my neck as I yanked my head in the direction of the jab. My husband's mischievous face stared back at me.

"Earth to Gracie," he laughed, waving his hand in front of my face. "You were miles away. I've been talking to you for the past five minutes, but I don't think you heard a word I said!"

I smirked at him and shook my head.

"It can't have been interesting then," I winked. I planted a kiss on his cheek and ascended the ladder once again. "Now, quit your moaning and pass me some more lights. I want them to see our house from space by the time I'm finished."

Cary obliged and brought me another round of lights, holding them up to me.

"I think the kids will be back in about an hour," I hummed. I had carted them off to my parents' house for the afternoon. They had decided to join us in Seattle a month after we moved, wanting to be closer to the kids.

"Grace, do you think Christian will be okay?" he asked me. I glanced down at him and frowned, not sure what he meant by that. "I worry about him sometimes. He doesn't interact with people the same way other kids do."

"Christian isn't like other kids," I retorted, a tad sterner than I should have. "He's doing fine. My mom and dad are great with him. Dad, especially. If there were any problems, Dad would have called me."

He sighed but agreed with me on that point.

"I just want him to be happy, that's all. He's such a quiet boy," he grimaced, sadness engulfing his handsome features.

"He'll get there," I promised. He has yet to hear Christian talk, only me and Mia have been privileged enough to hear his voice. "It'll take time but, one day, I'm sure he will be happiest boy in the world. All we have to do is continue as we are, making sure that he knows he is loved and protected."


Christmas morning started at 6am, thanks to Elliot storming into our bedroom, screaming at the top of his lungs. He jumped on top of me and Carrick, shaking us, demanding that we wake up that second. At eight years old, Elliot was starting to fill out and looked older than his years. He was destined to be a tall boy, his shoulders already broadening.

I sat up and smiled at Christian, who was waiting patiently at the door. He and Elliot were wearing matching pyjamas, red and green for the festive season.

Carrick groaned and tumbled out of bed, trying to contain Elliot's enthusiasm. He stretched out and said good morning to both boys, before escorting Elliot to the bathroom.

"Not until you have brushed your teeth, young man," Cary ordered, taking Elliot by the shoulders and weaving him past Christian. "Merry Christmas, son," he hummed at our silent boy.

"I know you will have already cleaned your teeth," I said to Christian as I heaved back the covers and climbed out of bed. He came over to me and stretched his lips wide, showing me his perfectly white teeth. "Wow, so impressive… Merry Christmas, sweetheart."

"Merry Christmas," he whispered.

I turned back to my bedside table and picked up the baby monitor. I listened out and heard Mia's rhythmic breaths. She was still fast asleep.

"Can you hear Mia sleeping?" I held the monitor to Christian's ear. He nodded. "I think we should let her sleep a little longer, don't you?"

He nodded again.

"Shall we go downstairs with Daddy and Elliot? See if Santa paid us a visit last night?"

I held out my hand to him, palm facing up, and wondered if he would be brave enough to offer me his hand.

I almost cried when he slid his fingers across my palm.

We walked downstairs and waited by the kitchen door until Cary and Elliot joined us. The kids were tired when they came back from my parents last night, so we shepherded them to bed without showing them the decorations. I thought it would make a nice surprise, to see the room transformed overnight into a winter wonderland.

I was right. As usual.

"Wow!" Elliot gasped as he rushed inside and made a beeline for the tree. His hands covered his cheeks, his blue gaze darting all over the place. "Mommy, Daddy, look at all the presents!"

"Wow," Cary and I repeated, sharing a look between ourselves. He winked at me. "I guess everyone in this house has been good, for Santa to have brought all of this to us last night."

"We got so many presents, Christian!" Elliot turned to his brother, who was gripping my hand, unable to let go.

Christian cracked a little smile as he looked around the room. This is his second Christmas with us – last year we spoiled him but it was too much for him to enjoy, it overwhelmed him and he was scared.

"Daddy, which presents are mine?" Elliot tugged on Cary's arm, his cheeky smile up near his ears.

"I think these are yours, buddy." Cary led Elliot across the room, to where his gifts were piled up. "Why don't we see what Santa got you, huh?"

I stepped over to the tree, Christian following in my shadow, to the small mountain of gifts sitting under it. We had learnt from last year to always separate their presents to save anyone or anything being trampled. Elliot is a boisterous child.

"Have I got presents?" Christian mumbled. I brought myself to his level and tried to study his tired, confused expression.

Keeping up the pretence, I peered over the gifts and pretended to check the labels. I nodded my head.

"They're all yours," I confirmed to him.

"All of them?" he mouthed, his jaw hanging open.

"They have your name on them."

"For me?" he uttered, staring at the pile. "Can I open them?"

"Of course you can, you don't need to ask." I gave him a gentle smile. "Why don't you pick one to open while I grab my camera?"

He picked up a box from the top of the pile and sat down on the floor with it. I quickly rushed into the kitchen and picked up not just one camera, but three. I had bought huge packs of film, wanting to capture every second of the day. I set up the film and began snapping pictures of Elliot and Cary, and then panned back to the tree. I stared at Christian through the viewfinder and my lips tore into a huge grin as he examined his first gift.

It was one of the smaller, less expensive gifts we had bought him. When I saw it in the toy store, I couldn't resist picking one up for Christian. It was made for him. A stuffed bear wearing blue pyjamas, the fur soft and caramel coloured. On the bear's right hand was a yellow star, a smiling face in the centre of it. When pressed, it played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Christian fussed over the bear, turning it around in his hands, feeling the different textures of the fur, clothes and star. He jumped as he found the hidden button and the bear sang our favourite nursery rhyme back to him.

He slowly met my eyes and I melted, thinking he was going to start crying.

"Oh, darling –" I lowered the cameras and quickly went to his side, dropping to my knees. "Christian, don't you like it?"

He nodded his head, dispelling that concern, but he continued to stare at the bear. He held it for a moment and then passed it to me. It was as if he wanted me to take it away from him – not that he didn't want it, but he wanted to give it away before we stole it.

"No, baby, it's your bear," I shook my head, passing it back to him. "He's all yours."

"Really?"

"Yes, really," I nodded. "Christian, these are your toys. No one is going to take them away from you."

"Not even Lelliot?" he mumbled.

"Not even Elliot," I said. I couldn't help but smile at his moniker for his older brother. "No one is ever going to take anything from you again. I will make sure of that."

"Promise?"

"I promise," I swore.

He paused and then hugged the bear to his chest, squeezing it against him. He dropped his chin onto the bear's head and whispered something, a secret to his new friend.

"Are you going to name him?" I asked.

He nodded his head. "Starry."

"That's a lovely name," I smiled, my cheeks warming and no doubt turning rosy.

He sat there hugging his bear for a little while longer, even tolerated me taking a few pictures of him with his toy. He eventually set it down and turned his attention to his other presents, but only after I promised to keep an eye on Starry and make sure he didn't disappear.

"Thank you, Mommy," Christian hummed, lifting to his feet and choosing his next present from the bottom of the pile.

Mommy.

My heart pounded in my chest.

He has never called me that before.

Tears streamed down my face, despite my best efforts to stifle them. From across the room I caught Cary's steely gaze. He frowned and silently asked if I was okay. I waved my hand at him, assuring him I was fine.

I was more than okay. I was finally Christian's mommy.

I picked Starry up from the floor and held him against my heart, hugging that bear as hard as I could. I hoped one day that I would have Christian in my arms, but until that day I was more than content with simply being his mother.