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.


(This is the second and final chapter of this story. Again, I hope you enjoy it! Much Love x)


2012

A lazy smile crept over my lips as I felt a familiar hand sliding across my waist. I was slowly pulled from sleep, my eyes sealed shut for just a minute longer.

"Good morning, my darling." His soft, velvet voice hummed in my ear. His fingers hooked onto my hip and he pulled me into his chest. "It's time to wake up."

I moaned and pushed myself deep into the mattress, tugging the covers higher around myself. His smooth, freshly shaved cheek rubbed against mine. I could smell peppermint on his breath.

"Just five more minutes," I grumbled. I opened my eyes and was blinded by the light flooding our bedroom.

He has always woken early on Christmas morning, has never shaken off the habit from when our children were young. They have long been adults and moved into their own homes.

Well, Mia is the exception, of course. She will still be living with us when she's forty!

Yawning, I stretched out my toes and rolled onto my back. I turned my head towards him and found his bright and wide eyes staring back at me.

"What time is it?" I mumbled, a shiver coursing through me.

"Almost 9am," he smirked, his crooked smile making my stomach clench. Even with his salt and pepper hair and the fine lines around his eyes, he will always be breath-taking to me. Forever the 18-year-old who coiffed his hair and gave me as much charm as he could muster. "I'm sorry, but I couldn't let you sleep in any longer. I'm itching to break into my presents."

Nine o'clock was too early for me, seeing as I didn't roll into bed until five. I wasn't supposed to work last night but an emergency call dragged me to the hospital, a seven year old boy hit by a drunk driver. I stayed until dawn, seeing my patient through the worst, only leaving when I knew he was going to be okay.

I shook my head at Carrick and rolled my eyes.

"You're always so impatient," I giggled, swatting his shoulder with the back of my hand. "Honestly, you are worse than all three of our kids combined!"

"You wouldn't have me any other way," he retorted.

And he was right. I hope he never changes.

Cary sat upright and fixed his collar. He was already dressed for the day, wearing a crisp, sky-blue shirt with charcoal slacks. My eyes were drawn to his tie, the tackiest thing I have ever seen in my life. Bright green and covered in images of Santa, reindeer and elves. It is hideous. It is almost twenty years old and was a spoof gift from me and the kids, but the joke was definitely on us. He insists on wearing it every year, just to spite me.

"Come on, get up before I drag you off the bed," he ordered, winking at me. "The troops are arriving at eleven."

Being reminded of that, I threw back the covers and forced myself out, trying to ignore the heaviness settling in my muscles. My veins buzzed with the knowledge that in just a few hours the house would be loud with laughter. Christmas has always been my favourite time of year and I always strived to make each holiday bigger and better than the previous year.

Last year Carrick and I welcomed two new faces into the family festivities: Anastasia and Kate. Christian's wife and Elliot's fiancé brought a new lease of life into our household, a breath of fresh air.

This year, however, a very special face will be joining us. He is the newest member of the Trevelyan-Grey family and merely thinking about him brought a grin to my lips. I couldn't wait to have him in my arms, my nose full of his wonderful scent, a heady mix of baby powder and milk…

I sighed and walked across the bedroom, picking up my silk robe from the chaise lounge.

"I'll make you a cup of coffee," Cary said as he edged towards the door. "Or would you prefer something stronger? Is it too early for a glass of champagne?"

I looked over my shoulder to him and arched my brow.

"Darling, when is it ever too early for champagne?"


I pulled my coat together, trying my best to ward off the icy chill whipping through the air. I lifted onto my toes to gain a better look, my eyes trained on the end of the driveway.

"Mom, you'll catch your death waiting out here –"

Elliot walked up to me and threw his bulky arm around my shoulders, drawing me into his side to share his body heat. He rubbed my arm and hugged me tight.

"They should be here any minute now," I said, a slight quiver in my voice.

"Christian is capable of letting himself in," Elliot snorted. "He does have a key, you know? You're going to freeze out here."

"You didn't mind when I waited for you to arrive," I reminded him. I neglected to add that he and Kate actually made it on time. For once.

"Well, that was different," he shrugged.

"How so?" I angled my head back and stared up at him. His hair had been clipped shorter than usual, his slight curl no longer visible. It made him look older, but I knew his boyish charm was still lurking behind those baby blue eyes.

"I'm your favourite, I thought that was obvious?" he grinned wildly, his cheeks pinched by his dimples as he broke into a laugh. I poked him in the ribs. "I'm kidding!"

"You know I don't have favourites," I shook my head. "I love all of you exactly the same."

"I don't think that's strictly true," he pursed his lips at me. I was about to question him but he continued. "You love Teddy way more than you love the rest of us. Don't even try to deny it!"

A laugh escaped me and his point was confirmed.

My grandson has a special place in my heart.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself, I cannot believe that I am a grandmother. There were times when I didn't think I would even become a mother, let alone be someone's Grandma.

Grandma Grace. It's perhaps my most treasured role to date.

Discovering that I was going to become a grandmother did come as a shock, that I will attest to. I didn't know what to say or think, a part of me worried that it was too soon for Christian and Ana to start a family. They had only been married for five minutes. On top of that, there was the news of Mia's abduction, the blackmail for her release, and then Ana's attack. Time seemed to standstill, the world swaying off balance as new revelations came into focus. I learned about the pregnancy when Christian called me to the hospital, telling me that Ana had been injured. Once I knew Mia was safe and well, I rushed to his side. He told me about his fight with Ana, his reaction at hearing her news. He ran away from her and the baby and whilst I understood his trepidation – after all, he has never coped well with sudden change – I was disappointed that he had left his wife when she needed him the most. But as he told me what had unfolded, I realised that he was brave and strong enough to adjust to his impending parenthood. I always knew that Christian had a lot of love in his heart, even if he didn't believe it himself.

In the wash of his worry for Ana's safety and his fear of becoming a father, Christian fell apart and sank into my arms. He wrapped his arms around me and dropped his head onto my shoulder. It was a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I am incredibly grateful for little Ted's arrival – for the unconditional love I feel for him, for seeing how Christian shed his nightmares and dotes on his son. But, most of all, I am grateful that he gave me my son. I always had Christian, from the moment he arrived in the hospital after being found next to his birth mother's body, but he was never truly mine. He wouldn't let me hold him and over the years he started to drift away from me. I stopped being his mommy and became 'mom', and later just 'mother'.

But that day, in that hospital room, I held my son for the first time. I had waited 24 years for that moment and it was sweet Ted who made it happen. He was the silver lining on an extremely dark day.

At the base of the driveway I saw the front of Christian's SUV creep into view, carefully making its way towards us. An excitable squeal flew from my lips, my arms aching for a cuddle with little Ted. Elliot snorted at my reaction but even he is fascinated with the youngest member of the family. He fell in love with his nephew the first time he set eyes on him, as did Kate. Give it a year and they will start a family of their own. I know they will make wonderful parents.

Christian's car came to a stop beside Cary's silver Mercedes and Ana quickly hopped out. Her cheeks were red and she appeared flustered, her long brown hair curled and bouncing around her shoulders.

"Grace," she breathed my name and teetered to me. She opened her arms and embraced me. "Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas," I grinned, her vanilla based perfume shifting from her clothes to mine. "I'm so glad you're here."

"I'm sorry we're late," she apologised. "Teddy needed feeding and then he puked all over me, so I had to change."

"Oh darling, don't worry about that," I told her.

I pulled back and took in her outfit. She looked incredible in a figure-hugging sapphire dress under a knee-length navy coat, the pairing complimented her powder blue eyes. She always looked understated and elegant, no matter the occasion, a true classical beauty. It was no wonder Christian fell in love with her, she was the perfect mate for him.

I glanced past her and watched as Christian stepped out of the car and moved to the backseat, my eager eyes trying to glimpse a look at Ted. He shut the door and appeared from the side of the car, a broad grin on his lips and a sleepy baby propped against his chest.

"Look, Teddy, it's Grandma," Christian whispered, pressing a kiss to his son's forehead. He came straight to me. "Hi Mom. Merry Christmas."

I lifted up and kissed his cheek, steadying myself with a hand on his shoulder. Ted was lazing against Christian, his blue eyes struggling to stay open. My heart melted all over again.

"There's my boy," I hummed, sliding my hands under his arms and settling him against me. I smoothed kisses across his velvety cheeks. "Merry Christmas, baby boy. Oh I've missed you. Yes, I have."

"It's only been three days since you last saw him," Christian smirked, his arm instinctively wrapping around Ana's waist, his hand sitting on her hip. I shot him a look and he held up his free hand, laughing quietly. "I know, no one comes between Grandma and Teddy… Listen, why don't you and Ana head inside, get out of the cold. Elliot, can you help me unload the car?"

"Sure," Elliot jumped into action, patting his brother's shoulder as he headed for the trunk.

I carried Ted into the house, Ana hotfooting it inside ahead of us. She was accosted by Mia and Kate as soon as she entered, the three girls exchanging hugs and kisses. They were exact opposites of one another, yet made a formidable trio of stunning women. My three daughters. Now more so than ever, I was reminded that blood doesn't bind you together, it is love that makes a family. My heart grows each year, a chamber created for every new addition to our ever-expanding group.

"But you, little one, will always have a unique place in my heart," I whispered to Ted, nuzzling my lips against his cheeks. He was slowly waking up and I think I saw a hint of a smile on his lips. "Did you just smile for Grandma? I think you did… Gosh, you look more like your daddy every day."

"Mom!" Mia's voice called out to me. I looked up and she was shuffling on the spot, as excitable as ever. Her raven hair was longer now and neatly tucked behind her ears, swaying as she bounced from side to side. "Can we finally open our presents? I've been waiting for hours!"

I rolled my eyes and chuckled at her impatience. She is her father's daughter.

"Fine," I relented. "All of the presents are in the sitting room. Knock yourselves out… Teddy, shall we go find Grandpa and see what Santa brought you?"

He gurgled a sweet sound back to me and I followed the girls into the sitting room. They circled the tree and sought out their presents, Cary on hand to deal out the boxes. I left them to it and sat in the armchair by the fireplace, setting Ted on my knee. Cary brought over the stocking we had made for Ted, taking a moment to breathe in our grandson's beauty. Christian and Elliot joined us soon after, bringing in at least seven bags full of gifts – a sign that, yet again, Christian has spoiled us.

The room was alive with music and chatter, our cream living space transformed into an ice palace. Over the years I have learned a thing or two about decorating, adopting themes and garnering inspiration from my favourite designers. This year, however, I finally agreed to work with Cary's idea. I had been putting off his choice for several years, unsure of how it would look on a grand scale. He was set on turning the house into the inside of a snow globe. I toned down his wilder requests but I have to admit it looked pretty spectacular. The lights were tinged blue, our ornaments white and silver, icicles hanging from the tree and mantelpiece. The theme drifted from room to room, encompassing every part of the house.

(I may have cheated somewhat, hiring professional decorators to turn the house into Cary's wonderland. Between gift shopping, shifts at the hospital and spending quality time with my babies, this Mama was too tired to do anything beyond trimming the Christmas tree!)

I watched as everyone ripped into their gifts, enjoyed seeing their beaming faces and delight. Ted was spoiled by Santa, a whole bag full of books, soft toys and musical instruments. He is still so small, only seven months old, but I know he will come to love music. I have no doubt he has inherited his father's eclectic tastes.

"Oh, this one is for Teddy –" Ana said, holding up a gold box. It had mistakenly been added to her pile. I smiled, knowing what was inside it.

She shared a look with Christian, who urged her to open it. She lifted the lid and peeled back a layer of tissue paper, gasping as she unveiled the stuffed bear inside. Removing him from the box, her eyes lit up at the brown bear. His blue pyjamas were as crisp as ever, the yellow star on his paw bright and shimmery.

"Wow, it's adorable," Ana grinned. She quickly gathered to her feet and came over to me and Ted. "How cute is this bear, Teddy? Isn't he lovely?"

I fixed my gaze on Christian and watched as confusion passed through his eyes, a frown building in his eyebrows. He slowly made his way to us, tilting his head to the side.

"A teddy for Teddy," Ana laughed. She waved the bear in front of Ted's face, grabbing his attention. He smiled and grabbed the bear with his hand, squeezing the bear's nose with his fist. "Oh Grace, he loves it. Thank you."

"Is it the same bear?" Christian mumbled. He crouched at my side and tentatively stroked his fingers along the back of the bear's head, feeling its fur for the first time in years. I nodded my head. "But it can't be, can it?"

"Wait, what am I missing?" Ana mimicked Christian's frown, glancing between us.

"It's Starry," I nodded, smiling at my son. His eyes glassed over and he blinked hard, fighting back the sting of a tear threatening to fall. "Did you think we threw him in the trash? I could never throw Starry away."

"This was your bear?" Ana gasped, shocked. Christian nodded. "Oh my god… Christian, this is incredible."

"I thought you got rid of all my stuff from when I was a kid," he said, sounding breathless. "We boxed everything up, got rid of everything when I was twelve."

"You were ten," I corrected him. I turned to Ana to explain. "We had just redecorated Elliot's room and Christian demanded that we do his as well. He wanted a big boy's bedroom."

Ana rolled her lips inward and somehow restrained herself from laughing. Christian rolled his eyes, unimpressed by the details I had shared.

"We had everything put into storage, in case you changed your mind," I told him. "I didn't want to redecorate your room and then have you upset because you wanted your old things back. Last year your father and I decided to have a clear out and we came across your boxes. I found Starry and I couldn't bring myself to give him away. I had him professionally cleaned and re-stuffed, so he looks as good as new."

"You kept him," he mumbled. "It's been so long since I saw him."

Ana ran her hand up Christian's arm, silently comforting him. After a moment he finally smiled. He reached across and pressed Starry's paw, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star chiming out of the bear's chest. Ted was mesmerised by the sound and when the song was over, he clapped his hands and laughed, throwing his head back against my chest.

"He loves it," Christian chuckled. "He loves Starry as much as I did."

"Thank you, Grace," Ana said to me, her cheeks pinking with gratitude. She knew how much this meant to Christian, even if she didn't know of the bear's existence before today. She understood Christian like no one else in the world. "Now Teddy gets to share a piece of your childhood," she added, leaning her head to Christian.

"The good part," he specified. I caught his gaze and held out my hand to his face, my palm smoothing over his cheek. "I'm glad you kept him, Mom. I've missed Starry."


I dropped a pile of dirty dishes into the sink and sagged backwards against the counter, giving myself a moment's rest. I could feel my energy waning, exhaustion crashing over me like a wave. I looked forward to running myself a hot bath, a chance to test the luxury oils and lotions Mia had gifted me.

The day had been a huge success, incredible from start to finish. After exchanging gifts and a celebratory glass of fizz, we filed into the dining room for a five-course extravaganza, a team effort with everyone helping in the kitchen. Champagne flowed around the table, warming cheeks and stomachs. Ana's stepfather and Kate's brother and parents joined us for dinner, welcome guests who completed this new era of our family. It was early evening and I had just left everyone in the sitting room next door, the clan deciding to sit down and watch It's a Wonderful Life.

"Escaping the madness?"

I yanked my head towards the door and smiled, seeing Christian enter and shut the door behind him. He placed a baby monitor on the counter, an image of Ted fast asleep covering the night-vision screen.

"He settled okay then?" I nodded.

"Out like a light," he laughed. He pressed himself against the counter, joining me. He folded his arms and crossed his feet at the ankle. "Are you sure it's okay for us to stay over tonight?"

I cocked my head and gave him a look.

"This will always be your home," I reminded him. "No matter how old you are or how many children you have, your dad and I will be here, ready to welcome you with open arms."

"Thank you," he smirked and nudged his arm into my side. He lowered his head and rested it on top of mine. He sighed. "Today has been great, Mom. You really out did yourself this year."

"I barely lifted a finger," I sighed. "I hired a team to decorate the house, I had all of you helping with dinner. Even Mia and your father helped wrap the majority of the gifts I bought."

"You do more than enough every single day of your life," he protested. "Mom, you're a fucking warrior… Sorry for cursing, but it's true. I don't know how you do it. You made it look so easy when we were growing up, working a full-time job and still managing to raise the three of us."

"It was far from easy," I nodded. "But it was worth it. When you're a mother, you learn to just get on with it. It's hard work but I loved every second."

"You made sure every Christmas and birthday was special for us," he said. "Even when that buzz started to fade… which I'm pretty sure was the same time we found out Santa Claus wasn't real."

"Yeah, that revelation certainly takes some of the excitement away," I chuckled. "It was strange, having your Christmas lists addressed to me instead of Santa… Though, your list was always the least expensive." I grinned as I remembered his scratchy handwriting, barely legible. "You never asked for much."

"You already gave me everything I needed," he shrugged his shoulder. "I was grateful to have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and two parents who cared about me. I didn't need anything else."

My eyes stung with the force of his earnest words.

He inhaled a deep breath and he let go of a small laugh.

"I always remembered what you said about Christmas, about how the buzz returns when you have kids of your own," he said, seemingly oblivious to my emotional state. "I remember Elliot complaining, saying that Christmas stopped feeling special to him. You said 'that will change one day, when you have children and they believe in magic'."

"I did say that," I smiled. "And it's true."

He nodded his head.

"You were always adamant that you would never have children," I reminded him. "You would fold your arms and say no. You would never get married and never have children."

"How the times have changed," he chuckled. "I can't imagine my life without Ana or Teddy now. They mean the world to me. I'd be lost without them."

I curled my arm around his waist and hugged him, my ear lined up with heart.

"I got that buzz back this morning," he told me. "I helped Teddy open his gifts from us and it came rushing back to me. The excitement and wonder… I know Teddy is too young to remember any of this or even take it in, but I loved seeing his face. I thought my heart was going to break in two. That boy has me wrapped around his little finger and he's only a baby!"

"Just wait until he gets older," I promised him. I lifted my head and looked up at him. "You have so much to look forward to. Make sure you cherish every minute of his childhood because it doesn't last long. Before you know it he'll be going off to college or travelling the world. They don't stay babies for long."

He nodded his head, making a silent promise to me. He pressed a kiss to my forehead and held me for a second longer. Breaking free from me, he pulled his arms back and cleared his throat. He pushed his hand into his pocket and retrieved a small black box, a white ribbon looped around it.

"I bought this for you a few months back," he said, holding the box out to me. "Actually, it was the first Christmas gift I bought."

"Oh, Christian," I sighed and shook my head. "Darling, you and Ana have given me more than enough already."

"This is from me," he replied and placed the delicate box in my palm. "It's just a little gift, I promise. To say thank you."

"What do you have to thank me for?"

"For just being yourself," he shrugged and gave me a gentle smile. "I guess it's to say thank you for welcoming me into your family. For choosing me as your son."

I bit down on my lip to stop tears from clouding my sight. I pulled the ribbon and eased off the lid. My heart caught in my throat as I discovered what was buried inside the box.

"My goodness…"

On a tiny silk cushion sat a silver pendant, a star with sparkling diamonds on each of the five points. I removed it from the box and realised that it was necklace.

"Check out the back," Christian whispered to me.

I rolled the pendant over and read the small inscription on the underside. Just two words that meant so much to the both of us.

Twinkle Twinkle…

"Christian," I gulped, choking out his name. "You shouldn't have."

He took the necklace from between my shaky fingers and helped me put it on, fastening it into place.

"Beautiful," he grinned and pulled me into his arms, offering me a mammoth hug. Almost a foot taller than me, he bent his knees and dropped his chin onto my shoulder.

"I love you so much," I whimpered, closing my eyes as water streamed down my cheeks. "I am so proud of the man you have become."

"It's all because of you," he hummed. "Thank you for showing me that there is love in the world. That everyone deserves a shot at happiness."

"I think Ana should take credit for that," I protested.

"Ana has given me a lot of things," he admitted. "But you gave me a life. A family. For that, I am eternally grateful."

"Christian…"

"Merry Christmas, Mommy."

"Merry Christmas, my sweet boy."