This takes place shortly after Ana returns from Dr. Greene and tells Christian she is pregnant. It focuses on the aftermath of that event, and how her and Christian are dealing with the news. Obviously this contains spoilers up to the very end of the third book so you've been warned! I've tried to keep spellings American English, but apologies if there are any slips - the Editor in me is not happy that I've denounced everything I know about the grammar and language lol but I've tried. All mistakes are mine. Enjoy!
Summary: Ana's pregnant, Christian's mad and Jack is hell-bent on revenge. For Anastasia Grey, life has always thrown her a curve ball, but now she faces her toughest challenge. Outsmarting a psychotic misogynist who thinks she ruined his life. Can she repair her damaged marriage and survive Jack's retribution?
Tuesday 27 September, 2011
~ Anastasia ~
I wake screaming. Sweat molds my oversized t-shirt to my body like a second skin, and my soaked hair is plastered to my forehead. For a moment I'm disorientated and drowning in fear. My heart is pounding a painful, staccato beat against my ribs, and my lungs burn like acid as I try - and fail - to draw air.
Instinctively, I reach for my rock, for the one thing that makes all my pain and fear disappear, but there is nothing but crumpled sheets and a void where he should be. My heart sinks as I fist my hands into the bedding, anchoring myself to the only solid thing I have. I close my eyes and try to calm my racing pulse.
My muddled brain finally remembers its job and orders my body to start working again. I gulp air desperately, gasping as the last remnants of my nightmare falls away. I'm safe and, despite the fact I feel like I'm having a coronary, in one piece, but the bone-chilling fear remains.
Apparitions dance in my vision, heightened by the darkness, and my mouth is dry. I lean across the bed and fumble blindly for the lamp on the night stand. Like a child scared of the dark, I find myself needing the reassurance of the light. Soft and muted, it chases the remaining shadows from my mind, dragging me back to reality and grounds me enough to take in my surroundings.
The walls are a pale pink and the beech wooden floor is partially hidden beneath a large white rug. Aside from the large double bed I'm lying on, the only other furniture is a two door wardrobe, a five drawer dresser and a desk which is swimming with paperwork.
The furniture, the photographs on the walls and the assortment of personal possessions scattered around the room are achingly familiar, but this is not my home, and these are not my things. Confusion is my body's first line of thought, but it is quickly followed by heart-stopping panic as my memory returns.
My stomach twists like a wet cloth being wrung out, and it is like I've walked into a closed patio door: painful. I wish I could go back thirty seconds and forget. I wish I could turn back the hands of time and change everything, but as the realization of what I've done sets in, I feel sick to my stomach.
It wasn't a nightmare. It was real.
I left my husband.
Oh, god. I really left Christian...
Closing my eyes, ignoring the tremor that runs through my hands, I recall the last fortnight with painful clarity. I remember telling Christian I was pregnant, and I remember his response to the news. He left. He screamed and left.
Since then, we have co-existed in an uneasy asymmetry. We were once so in synch to one another, but the last two weeks, we've been like strangers. We've slept in separate rooms, eaten at separate times, and we've barely said more than a few words to each other. I couldn't stand it any longer. I needed space so I fled to the one remaining familiar place I have left in Seattle outside the Escala: mine and Kate's old apartment.
Kate is the closest thing I have to a sister, and although Christian has replaced her support in so many ways, I still need her in ways he can't even fathom. Idly, I wonder if her and Elliot are having a good vacation in Paris as tears well in my eyes. I wish she were here now, to reassure me that walking out had been the right move, to reassure me that my husband is acting ridiculous, and to reassure me everything will be okay. Instead, I am forced to rationalize this situation myself, and that is proving difficult while I am so upset.
But as pissed and as angry as I am at my husband, there is a part of me that understands why he lost his head over this. My fifty shades of fucked-upness needs to be in constant control, and this baby is something he has no control over whatsoever. Christian cannot deal with the fact I'm introducing a variable to our relationship which he has no power over.
But it is more than the loss of control. He's scared of failing his own child as badly as his mom failed him. I understand his trepidation; I'm scared too. A baby is a huge responsibility, and at twenty-two, the thought of being a mom is terrifying, but being a single mom tears my gut apart.
Can I do this without him? Do I want to do this without him? In spite of everything he's done to me in the last two weeks, I love Christian, and that will never change, but I won't let him make me chose between him and this baby.
I was astounded when he told me to have an abortion. The argument had been raging for at least ten minutes, during which time he'd accused me of getting pregnant on purpose, of ruining our marriage and of ruining his life. Throughout our relationship, Christian has shocked me many times, but nothing has stunned me the way those few words did: "Get rid of it so we can get back to fucking normal." It was said in anger, and without thought, and he was instantly filled with shame, but it still cut deep.
I barely remember what my reply had been, but I do remember slapping him around the face hard enough to sting my palm. I'd fled to my bedroom, packed some things and left him. Maybe we rushed things, maybe we got married too soon. Clearly we both want different things, but I'd never realized just how different.
Christian and I have never openly discussed the prospect of increasing our family, but I always assumed children would be a part of our future. Perhaps I was naive to think that Christian would ever want that apple pie life with me.
My hand gravitates to my abdomen where our baby is growing. He promised me once that he would be whatever I needed him to be and that he would give me whatever I needed to have. If I remember rightly that included children. I hate that he's not with me on this, and I'm not even sure if this is something he can be brought round to. At that thought tears spring in my eyes once more and I am angry at myself for being so emotional, but my hormones are on overdrive and controlling them is like trying to make the sun rise in the west.
However, in spite of everything that has happened there are two things I am sure of: firstly, that I love Christian with all my heart, body and soul. I have never doubted that, although he has given me much cause to in these last few weeks, and secondly I am not getting rid of our baby. The thought of it makes me feel sick to my stomach. If I have to do this alone, I will. I cannot and will not give up this baby. I can't. Despite the fact it is currently nothing more than a tiny blip nestled deep in my womb, I already love it. If Christian continues to force me to chose between him and this baby, I'm not sure what I will do.
I squeeze my eyes shut and swallow the bile making its way up my throat. I'm surprised he let me go – albeit with an escort in the shape of Sawyer, who is no doubt staking out my apartment right now – and I'm even more surprised that in the eight and a half hours since I walked out of Escala, he hasn't called me.
I can't prevent the sob which erupts from my mouth unbidden and uninvited, and despite my efforts to be strong, I descend into hysterical tears. I've never felt so useless and pathetic, and all I want to do is call my husband and beg him to let me come home, but I know that is not an option. This is one thing I am not willing to back down on. Like it or not, Grey Junior will be making an appearance in almost eight months time.
I cry for that long I no longer have any tears left to shed. My mouth is filled with cotton wool, but it is a full bladder which finally forces me from the bed. Dragging my hand across my swollen eyes, I push up off the mattress and cross the carpeted floor towards the door, but my attention is snared before I manage to exit.
There is an assortment of photographs on a pin board above the desk. Most are of Kate and Elliot in various embraces, at various places. They look happy and in love, limbs tangled around one another, kisses given seemingly easy, and for a moment I feel a pang of jealousy. Why can't Christian be normal? I bet if Kate told Elliot she was pregnant he would be ecstatic – most normal husband's would be – but Christian is so complicated, it is difficult to know what his reaction to anything will be.
My gaze locks onto a photograph of me and Kate in a bar when we were at university. I let out a low breath, ignoring the way it hitches with heavy emotion. The Ana Steele in the photograph is worlds apart from the Anastasia Grey tear-stained and pregnant in her best friend's bedroom, and I'm not sure I can reconcile the person I am now with the person I was then. Christian has changed me for the better and I don't know what to do without him. The thought makes my blood chill.
Pushing that dark thought aside, I head to the bathroom and although I feel better with an empty bladder, there is still an unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach. As I emerge in the lounge, I glance at the clock and sigh. It is only 3.10am.
I don't bother getting back into bed, but make my way into the couch and flop onto the leather seat. I'm not much for television, but there is no way I will be able to get back to sleep; I need the distraction. I flick aimlessly through the channels, my mind wandering between my task and the disaster that is my life. Before Dr Greene dropped that bombshell, everything had been perfect. The difference one day can make has my head reeling.
As 6am approaches I'm still on the sofa, and I'm still awake. My body is completely spent and exhausted, but my brain is on overdrive. Jumbled thoughts crash through my consciousness as I try to process everything that has happened in the last fortnight, running over the events, replaying every argument over and over.
At half past, I force myself to move. I consider calling in sick for work, but quickly dismiss the idea. Sitting at home will only add fuel to the fire; keeping busy is the only way I will get through my first full day without Christian. I hope.
Numbly, I drag myself into the shower, and wash myself in a daze. I barely recall getting dressed, but somehow I am garbed in a gray pencil skirt, a pale blue blouse and a pair of kitten heels, ready to leave. As I exit the apartment building, I start towards the bus stop, intending to utilize public transport to work, but Sawyer suddenly appears like a wraith from nowhere.
"Mrs Grey, are you heading into work?" he asks, and for a moment I see the concern in his face as he takes in my appearance. Shit, how bad do I look?
"I don't need you to drive me, Luke," I tell him quietly.
"It's no problem," Sawyer assures me, and I sigh internally at the argument I know is coming.
"Fine, I don't want you to drive me. Please tell my husband if he really cared about my well-being, he wouldn't have let me leave last night."
Sawyer shifts uncomfortably, and I can see the battle raging inside him. I hate putting him in an awkward position, but I don't want my husband's feigned concern. "Mrs Grey, I'm sorry, but I have orders to take you to work and bring you back here safely. If I disobey those orders your husband will fire me, and I need this job."
I scowl. I like Sawyer, and I don't want him fired because of me, but I'm also not willing to let Christian dictate the grounds of our breakup either. Pulling my cell phone out of my purse, I hit speed dial one and wait for the call to connect. I'm surprised he picks up.
"Ana," he says stiffly, but I can hear barely veiled concern in his voice. He's worried why I'm calling, and that gives me hope.
"I'm going to work on the bus. Please stop sending your security team to watch over me, Mr Grey. I do not require your protection anymore, nor do I want it."
His outrage is palpable, and I can almost imagine his look of indignation. "Don't be ridiculous, Ana. Take the damn car to work."
"No, and if you insist on sending Sawyer or Taylor or Ryan to watch over me, I will file a restraining order against you. I am no longer your responsibility."
I hang up, not giving him the opportunity to respond. Sawyer meets my gaze with a mixture of amusement, horror and caution. It would be funny if the situation wasn't so dire, but my adrenaline is pouring into every cell, and my heart is racing. My phone rings suddenly. I glance down at the handset and see his name flash on the screen.
Ignoring it, I turn to Sawyer. "Thank you, Luke, but I won't be requiring your services today – or any other day for that matter."
Sawyer merely frowns. "I might be out of turn saying this, Mrs Grey, but just because you are having... issues," he says the word carefully, "with Mr Grey it doesn't stop us caring about you too. Taylor, Ryan and I – we want you to be safe as well, so please let me drive you to work."
It is a genuine plea, and the fight leaves me instantly. I have never realized Christian's security team cares that much about me, but really I should have because I consider them part of the family too, and if anything happened to them, I'd be devastated. I let out a low breath.
"Okay," I relent softly. "You can drive me to work."
Sawyer's shoulders sag with relief, and as he leads me back to the car, his phone is pressed to his ear.
"Mrs Grey is secured, and is en route to SIP," he says as he opens the back door of the Audi for me. I climb in and pull my seat belt on as he shuts the door behind me. As he gets into the front, he is still on the phone, but he is listening. After a moment he speaks, his voice serious.
"Of course... Yes, I will make sure, Mr Grey. I'll call you once we arrive."
I roll my eyes. Damn control freak. I resist the urge to call him back and tell him I'm not in the car because of him but because of Sawyer, but I know that would cause a problem for Sawyer, rather than upset Christian. Instead, I lean my elbow against the windowsill and watch the landscape whiz by as Sawyer navigates the early morning traffic.
As we pull up outside SIP, Sawyer climbs out of the car to open the back door for me. I thank him and start toward the building.
"Mrs Grey?" I turn back at his voice.
"If you need to leave the building for anything, please let me know. I am to go with you at all times."
I scowl and spin on my heel, heading into the building without another word. Hannah, my assistant, gives me a warm smile as I pass her desk.
"Morning, Ana," she starts, but concern flashes in her eyes as she catches sight of me properly. I have no doubt I look like hell. I've had no sleep and I've spent the last twenty-four hours crying. My face is probably a puffy mess, and the lack of make-up certainly isn't doing me any favors, but I'm starting to feel self-conscious; she is the second person to have that reaction to my appearance.
"Are you okay,?" she asks, half-rising from her desk as I pass on the way to my office.
"I'm fine. Can you get me some coffee?" I don't give her the chance to question me further as I stride into my office and shut the door behind me.
For a moment I glance around the four walls and I want to give into the tears threatening to fall. Doubt assails me. I don't think I can do this – any of this. How can I bring up a baby on my own and hold down a job when I don't even think I can get through the next eight hours? I shake my head and force my walls up.
I won't cry, I won't cry, I won't cry...
Instead, I concentrate on my work and what I have to do today. I move around the other side of my desk, stow my purse in my drawer and open my diary. My computer is powering up as Hannah knocks tentatively on the door.
"Come in," I murmur.
"Your coffee," she says unnecessarily as she places the mug in front of me. Her eyes narrow as she studies me. "Ana, are you sure you're okay?"
I glance up from my computer and sigh. "I'm sorry, Hannah, I'm just... I'm having a bad morning, but I'm fine, honestly." She nods. She is still worried, but she doesn't push me further, which I'm grateful for. If she pushes too much I might breakdown and I don't want to embarrass myself at work. "Did you finish the contract package for the J.V. Mackenzie account?"
"I'll have it with you before lunch," she assures me. "Do you need anything else?"
I shake my head, and I'm grateful when she finally leaves the room. Alone, I feel all the stress re-enter my body as the wall I built for Hannah comes crashing down. I miss my husband so much; I miss the banter, and the impromptu kinky fuckery in the elevator or on the pool table or on my desk. Those days are long gone, and I wonder if I will ever have kinky fuckery again.
"For god sake, Ana, get a grip," I growl.
I turn my attention to my computer, which has finished loading up, and I am disappointed to see there are no messages from Christian. Why hasn't he called or tried to contact me yet? Is he really that mad? Will he ever forgive me? Maybe it is up to me to hold out the first olive branch of peace. With that in mind, I start to type a message to him.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Please talk to me...
Date: September 27, 2011 08:54
To: Christian Grey
I don't know what I can say to you to fix this, but I'm sorry. I didn't mean for this to happen, but I'm not sorry it has either. I'm pregnant, Christian, and I need you. I'm scared to death too, but we have to face this. I can't do this alone. I don't want to do this alone. Please don't make me. I love you so much.
Can we meet after work and discuss this?
Feeling utterly miserable, I sort through the rest of my inbox, replying where necessary and ignoring the junk mail, but my mind wanders aimlessly throughout the morning, my thoughts on my husband.
It is just after 11 when Hannah knocks on the door and hands me the papers I requested earlier. She spreads out the pieces I need to sign in front of me, and places the manila folder with the rest of the account on the side of my desk. I skim over the contract briefly, checking the details are correct before signing it.
"It just needs the client's signature now, and then we're good to go. Can you Fed-Ex it over? I want to get this secured as soon as possible."
Hannah nods, collecting the folder and the papers, but she remains hovering at the edge of my desk. I glance up at her expectantly.
"Is there something else?"
"Ana, I might be overstepping the mark here, but I'm concerned about you." The fact she is the second person to say that to me today doesn't go unnoticed, but it does annoy me. Why does everyone suddenly think they know what is best for me? And why do they all feel the need to tell me their concern is in my best damn interest? "You look terrible. Maybe you should go home and rest."
"I think I'm coming down with something.," The lie comes easily, and I'm surprised at how effortlessly it slips from my tongue. I've never been a good liar, and I hate lying to her face, but I can't tell her her that my husband has abandoned me. The shame is too much to bear.
She shifts her shoulders. "So go home. I'll make sure the Mackenzie contract goes out on time."
The thought of being locked away from the outside world is more than tempting; I don't want to be here, and I don't want to spend my whole day deflecting questions about how awful I look and if I am okay. But being alone will be worse. Kate's apartment is so big and empty without her there, and I don't want to sit and dwell on Christian all day.
"I'll be okay," I assure her.
Hannah is unconvinced, but she says nothing more as she leaves my office, and once again I am grateful I have my own space. My email pings suddenly, drawing my attention. My heart gives a leap of hope; its from Christian. I wonder what it says and how mad he still is as I shakily open it.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: I can't talk right now...
Date: September 27, 2011 11:24
To: Anastasia Grey
I'm leaving for Taiwan tomorrow and there are a multitude of things I have to organize. The meeting I was telling you about the other day will now start at the beginning of next week.
Sawyer will remain at your disposal until I return, and I would prefer it if you moved back into Escala while I'm gone. Kate's apartment does not have adequate security, and I do not want to be worrying about you while I'm away. I leave after 10am tomorrow, so Sawyer will bring your things here after you leave for work, and I will return on October, 9. I apologize for what I said to you last night. I was pissed and confused, but I should never have said it. I don't even know why I did. It is your body, and I cannot tell you what to do in that respect.
However, when it comes to your personal safety, please do not fucking ignore me. Trust me when I tell you I know better than you about this. I've been a high-profile target for years, Ana. It's not something you can be apathetic about. If you EVER pull a stunt again like you did this morning, you won't be able to sit down for a month. Our relationship may be on the rocks at the moment, but your well-being is still important to me. Getting the bus to work is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard come out of your mouth! You are the wife of a multimillionaire, who would do almost anything to see you safe. Why would you put your life unnecessarily in danger?
Also, have you forgotten there is still the unresolved issue of Jack Hyde who likes setting fire to things and has a pretty big vendetta against you and I?
Please try to be a little more considerate of your own fucking safety, especially considering your condition.
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holding, Inc
I re-read it and frown. He's leaving the country for a meeting that will last over a week? What the hell...? What kind of meeting lasts that long? I'm confused, hurt and angry, but mostly I'm filled with dread that he won't return. He's running, and that concerns me.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Running away is your answer? Seriously?
Date: September 27, 2011 11:32
To: Christian Grey
How is going to Taiwan for over a week going to help? We need to talk, Christian! We have to sort this out. But fine, if that is what you need to do, then go. It is preferable to you getting shit faced and going to that bitch, Elena. Please call me when you return.
I hit send with more vigor than is necessary and I don't sign off the email. I hate that he is running away from this and that he won't deal with it. I know his reaction is because he thinks he will fail this child, just like his mother failed him, but it's ridiculous. I might not have known his mother, but I know my husband and there is no doubt in my mind that he will make an amazing father, but all his insecurities are deep-rooted. Removing them will be tough.
Goddamn it, Christian... Please don't leave me to cope with this alone.