A/N: Thank you guys for keep reading and commenting! I'm really happy that this story picked your interest. Many of you want to know why Christian and Ana got a divorce in the first place. Well, all will be reviewed in due time. Just bear with me a little bit more. Here is a hint: I'm not a big fan of out of reality farfetched story lines, so what happened to Ana could've happened to any young woman.
A/N2: No, there was no cheating involved here. I know there are great cheating stories around, but infidelity was never part of my plans. Hope you enjoy this chapter!
After the fairytale
It was Thursday afternoon, 3 days after the newspaper fiasco and Phoebe was alone in her room, wrapping gifts to be donated to the Psychological Child Abuse charity. Her hands were almost gnarled by what surely was carpal tunnel syndrome and she felt like she had a million paper cuts on her fingers. First time her parents agreed on something, and it had to be on her punishment.
She was to go one week without her computer, phone, ipod or any electronic device. She couldn't even go to school! Phoebe thrived in her classes and her parents knew that. Going to classes wasn't exactly unpleasant for her as it was for other kids, like her cousin Ava, who was constantly on academic probation.
She couldn't read any books, either, since it was another pleasure of hers…Christian even joked that he was going to make her read his companies' P&L, but Ana reminded him that it would only fuel her curiosity about business. He agreed with her. Instead, her father purchased the toys for the charity and her punishment was to wrap them all until the end of the week, when she and her father were to take them to Mr. Sanders. Also, they made her drop her law suit. The visit to Mr. Sanders was for her to apologize wasting his time as well. Waste his time? He got 20 grand for his time!, Phoebe thought ruefully.
The noise of keys in the front door shook her from her bitter thoughts and she looked at her alarm clock to see that it was already 5pm, so it was probably Teddy coming home from school.
A few moments later, as of if in a cue, he knocked on her door and peeked at her.
"Can I come in? Are you talking to me ever again?" She hasn't uttered a word to anybody since she received her punishment and Teddy started to worry about her.
"As a prisoner, I was striped off my civil rights, so you might as well" she dropped the toy she was wrapping and just sighed at her brother. So dramatic…
"Well, think of it as me relieving you from solitary confinement", he joked. He came into her room, still dressed in his uniform of slacks, shirt, tie and jacket and set next to her. As for Phoebe, apparently she never changed out of her pajamas.
"Whatever, Teddy" she wasn't so enthusiastic to have her brother there.
"OK, Phoebs, the silent treatment can't go on forever. Why don't you tell me what happened?"
"I'm sure your mother already filled you in. No need to bother" she was really pissed at her brother as well, always taking their mother's side.
"Not entirely, since you clamed up after they grounded you and there were some things you left out" he reminded her. "How come Becca Winston was pouring milk shake on your head?"
Becca Winston was a girl who went to Lakeside as well. Tall, blond, blue-eyed daughter of an industrial millionaire, she was the school bitch. Her parents spoiled her to no end and because of that she thought she could have anything she wanted, any time she wanted, and could treat people as trash, as she was above them all. Phoebe hated her, since the Grey kids were easy targets for her dirty gossip.
"I don't know how, but the bitch found out I was working at Clark's after school. She and her followers went there and sat on my station. I had no other choice but to go to their table. They tried to confuse me with their order to see if I would screw up and they could complain to Mr. Clark. I ended up getting everything right and she was pissed. One of the girls failed to hide her snickering and she got double pissed. Apparently, the milk shake on my head made her feel better" she snorted.
"My God, Phoebe! Do you think she was the one who tipped the paper off?"
Phoebe hated when her brother asked her stupid questions, so she just gave him her What do you think? look.
"Anyway, it's been all over school, even kids from my class were talking about it".
"It's a good thing I'm forbidden to go, then" she answered sarcastically, not really minding what the other kids thought about her. Teddy was different, though, she knew it bothered him.
"I'm sorry if you got caught in all that shit. I never meant to drag you down with me" she added honestly.
"I'm fine, Phoebs. Nothing worse or different from what I've been taking since we started high school". Teddy had already been a student at Lakeside when his parents divorced. Phoebe thought that since the kids have known him forever, he wouldn't be teased and bullied like she was. But it was the other way around, he got it even worse. For the life of her, she couldn't understand why.
"Regardless, I'm sorry"
Now she was feeling really bad, but he just shrugged and punched her in the arm, "Hey, no problem. Apparently you made me partner of a very lucrative brokerage", he tilted his head, daring her to explain. Phoebe groaned and recounted the fallout to her brother.
3 days earlier
"PTG Brokers? What the hell does it stand for?" Christian enquired, fuming at his daughter. Jose was now sitting with them, like a teenager who was being lectured by his parents for playing with the bad kids. He sure looked terrified of Christian. Ana didn't want to be mad at him in front of Christian, but she was sending daggers his way.
"Phoebe and Theodore Grey Brokers. I thought PGG Brokers was kind of dumb" she said as explanation of not using her full name, Phoebe Grace Grey, "and I wanted Teddy to have a part of it, too. Whatever profit I made, Jose got 20% and me and Teddy 40% each".
"Did your brother help you in that façade as well?" Ana inquired, feeling completely blindsided.
"No, it was all me. Well, with a little help from Jose", Phoebe explained not wanting to get her brother in trouble. "The only thing he did for me was teach me how to calculate the risks of the market's fluctuation. I told him it was for a project from school".
Despite being pissed at the situation, Christian couldn't help but beam with pride at his boy. At only 16 and in high school he could do something that his grad school educated employees still messed up.
"As clever as you were, it was still wrong Phoebe. Criminal, even. You lied, omitted information, falsified signatures, blackmailed, got Jose involved wrongfully…the list goes on" Christian summarized.
"Hold on, Christian, I wasn't forced to do anything" Jose defended himself. "I'm not stupid" at that Christian had to hide his snort "I knew she was going to do some kind of venture in the stock market and that it would bring us quite some money".
"Some kind of venture, Mr. Rodriguez? It seems kind of vague to trust your signature in some kind of venture that a 14-year old child intended to launch, don't you think?" and now he couldn't hide his contempt at Jose's stupidity. Not even Ana could defend him now.
"We get the picture, Dad. I'm sorry I used you, Jose. And I'm sorry it had to end up this way, with that horrible article on the paper. But I'm not sorry I made half a million dollars in the last 6 months only. I'm good at it, Dad".
Both Christian and Ana were astonished. At his rate, their little girl was going to make her first million before she took her driver's license. But it was still wrong and they had to let her know that.
"Munchkin, I'm not discussing your talent or your intelligence for that matter", Christian started softly, using his nickname for her. "But still, you gambled and this time it paid off, but what if the market had behaved differently and you suffered an upset? What collaterals did you put in to cover your losses?"
Ana and Jose were listening to him, but not really understanding one word of what he was saying. Phoebe, on the other hand, knew exactly what her father was talking about.
"I listed my trust fund as collateral", she confessed, not looking her father in the eyes.
"Oh, Phoebe…see, that's what I'm talking about. You're ambitious, but you're still reckless of the consequences. You put a 30 million dollar trust as collateral for a business that net values one hundredth of that".
Phoebe's eyes were casted downwards, admitting defeat.
"You know you're gonna have to shut down this little venture of yours, don't you?" Ana asked her daughter.
"What? " Phoebe and Jose spoke simultaneously. Ana just glared at Jose and he shut up.
"You're a high school kid, you may have gotten lucky this time, but as far as I'm concerned what you did was illegal. You're not old enough to answer for your actions and I won't have you drag Jose down if you screw up somehow".
Phoebe listened to her mother quietly, but was biting her lips not to cry, or worse, scream at her for ruining her life yet again.
"Ana, you don't need to be so harsh" Christian intervened and Ana gasped. "I'm not saying that you're entirely wrong, Phoebe can't legally stand the consequences of her actions and for that I agree with you that she can't run the business anymore". Now it was Phoebe's turn to gasp. "However, we can't deny that what she did, business wise, was remarkable" he couldn't disguise the pride in his voice. "Not now, but when she's old enough, I believe she can make a name for herself".
Then he turned to his daughter, "for now, I want you to focus on your studies, graduate Lakeside with honors and be able to pick the school that you want. By then, I'm sure you'll have learned the ups and downs of the market to make a conscientious decision of what you really want do you".
"OK, but it doesn't really solve our immediate problem, does it?" Jose dared to ask and Phoebe groaned.
"I'll tell you what, Mr. Rodriguez. I'll buy you out".
"What the fuck are you doing, Christian?" Ana was furious.
"Anastasia, please, let me talk to your boyfriend for a minute", he answered, making her even angrier. "From what I understood, you have a 20% share of the business and are the active and liable partner, at least on paper".
"Yes, Christian", Jose said as he was being talked down by a teacher.
"As I was saying, I'll buy you out. I'll analyze the portfolio you have and make my lawyers draw up a financial proposal; one that I'm sure will be quite satisfactory. My children will remain as shareholders, but will no longer have an active role in the company. I'll have the minority of shares, but as the legal trustee of Phoebe's trust fund, I won't have any objections from the other shareholders to take it over from here, right Phoebe?"
"No, sir" was all she could say. Her father beat her at her own game. That's why he was THE Christian Grey, CEO and a freaking genius. Once more she saw that she would have to learn a lot to even play at the same league as his. For now, she had to see her company become part of GEH.
"I can't believe Dad pulled that off!" Teddy said incredulously. "No wonder Mom is not talking to Jose. You shouldn't have involved him, Phoebs"
"Don't lecture me! Thanks to me, he's a half million dollars richer now! And he was the only adult I knew who was dumb enough to sign up for me. He's a tool".
"Don't talk like that, Phoebs! He's never done anything against us" Teddy admonished her.
"He's still a douchebag". "Let me ask you something, do you like him?"
Teddy was on the spot now. "Well, Mom likes him…"
"Not the answer to my question, counselor" Phoebe presses her older brother
"I plead the 5th your honor" he says already standing up to leave.
"I thought so" Phoebe smirks. By the way, Dad is picking me up tomorrow to deliver these God damned gifts and afterwards I'm going to his house. It's our weekend with him". At this reminder, Teddy stiffens.
"You know, since you dread it so much, you don't have to go. I don't know why you still bother. You avoid Dad like the plague and end up locked up in that lab anyway".
It was no secret to Phoebe that her brother took their mother's side on the divorce. He's always been a momma's boy, but she thought he would've outgrown it by now. What she didn't understand was the aloofness towards their father. He even built a freaking science lab in his house just for Teddy!
"I don't avoid him, we just don't have a lot in common, that's all" he justified. "But I'm coming with you. If you're going, I'm going", he said, leaving her room.
This has always confused Phoebe to no end. It was clear Teddy didn't want to be there, but he never failed to accompany her, as if he needed to protect her. But protect her from what? She shook her head to get rid off these thoughts and resumed her task of wrapping toys.
It was already past 8pm, but Christian was still in the office. Aside from dinner cooked by Mrs. Taylor there was nothing waiting for him at home. Even if he left earlier, he would just end up continue working in his study. This rigorous routine in the past decade made his business grow even more. He was now one of the 3 richest men in the USA, as the net value of GEH skyrocketed, with subsidiaries in every continent of the planet. Without his family, there was nothing left for him but his company.
He was going into some spreadsheets when his Blackberry rang. It was his father.
"Hi, Dad" he answered tiredly.
"Hello, son. You sound tired…still at the office?" Carrick asked, concern laced in his voice. If in the past he rarely called his son, it used to be Grace's job, Carrick now played a more active role in Christian's life. He didn't know if it was maturity from both sides of the aftermath of the divorce, he hoped it was the first, but he certainly enjoyed it.
"Yes, Dad, just wrapping some things up for a meeting tomorrow. Anyway, everything ok?"
"Yes, your mother and I are fine. Worried about you and the kids of course". Christian was sure he was talking about the article. Just the mere thought of it infuriated him to no end.
"If you're referring to that fucking article, don't worry, I took care of it. As of today that fucking reporter no longer works at the Star. And I made sure he will find it quite hard to find a job anywhere else, unless if it's to write the fucking horoscope!"
"Getting the reporter fired may placate your anger, but it certainly doesn't fix things" Carrick retorted. Christian called his father immediately after he heard about Mr. Sanders and Phoebe's preposterous idea to sue for emancipation, but they have yet to talk about the article.
"I know, you're right. We just have to wait for it to die down. I'm sure by the time the week is over they will find another rich kid scandal and forget all about Phoebe. Maybe Paris Hilton will step out with no panties on, who knows?" he attempted to convince himself.
"Son, you know that's not what I'm worried about. They're speculating the reasons for the divorce. It sure picked everyone's curiosity; especially since you never re-married".
"And I never will", Christian cut off.
"Ok, ok, that's not the point now. What if the journalists start digging up information again?"
"Dad, the records are sealed, right? Nobody but you and Ana's attorney have access to those files, isn't it?"
"Yes, Christian, due to the nature of the case, and the children involved, the records are sealed. But it's already been 10 years, maybe a clerk will forget about the confidentiality of the documents and slip up somehow…you know the damage it can cause. Not only to your business, but to your children as well. Don't you think it's time they knew the truth? Especially Teddy; everyone sees the way he acts towards you. God knows what Ana told him".
Christian listened to his father wearily. It was not the first time he brought it up, and surely it wouldn't be the last. Exerting all the self-control he could muster, he answered his father.
"They will never know, Dad! I won't have my children know all that fuckupdness. It's my past, I can't change that, but I'll certain not taint my kids with all that shit. Let them think their mother divorced me because I was a son of a bitch control freak. It's not too far from the truth anyway".
Carrick sighed, but had to comply with his son. "Still, we'd better talk about it to get our stories straight. I have a feeling the kids, at least Phoebe, will want to talk about it with me or your mother. Can I entice you with a late supper at your old man's house?"
Christian had to laugh at his father attempt to break the tension, but acquiesced. "Alright, Dad, I think I can have a drink or two with my old man".
"Fine, son. I'll have one of my mean cocktails with your name on it when you get here. See you soon, son".
"Bye, Dad" Christian said, already dreading the conversation he would have with his father slash divorce lawyer.
Kind of a cliffhanger! I promise you the secrets will be revealed in the next chapter, please keep reading! Let me know what you think! Suggestions are welcome as well!