A/N : Lot's of love over that last chapter, and all of the reviews! Thank you so much! I love your feedback!
I know some of you don't understand why Carrey is CEO, and the fact that he's only twenty. We'll get to that later, because trust me, Tasha has some questions she wants answered on that one too.
In this chapter, you are going to meet Caedance! She is a famous singer/songwriter, and she has known Teddy...forever. They were childhood best friends until Cae left to pursue her dream. Their story has already been started, but not finished. I thought I'd let you get to know her here first. Let me know what you think!
And Aleah! Some of you guessed it before, she's with Dan in this chapter. But we're not sure exactly what's happening there yet.
Some of you are very serious about Tasha and Carrey being more than just...well, you know. The next couple chapters are really going to throw Carrey for a loop, and make him question what he thought he wanted.
So, we all went to lunch together. We left the building, and got into this black SUV while the brothers talked with each other.
I tried to listen, but it was all gibberish to me. Especially because Carrey had started secretly holding my hand during the car ride. Hadn't even looked up from the file he had been holding that Morgan had passed over, balanced on his knees.
It made me feel incredible. And it kind of freaked me out. Not half an hour ago, Carrey had told me he only wanted sex. I had no idea where the line was drawn. What if I stepped over it?
When we walked into the restaurant, and three girls waved at our group, I wasn't sure whether I should be nervous or excited.
Morgan and Lexy kissed just like all of the magazines I had ever seen at the grocery store. It was even more adorable in person. The two other girls 'awed', and then Dan and Teddy embraced them.
I instantly recognized Caedance Jones as she hugged Teddy. I mean, she was a famous singer/songwriter. How could you not recognize her?
The other girl looked sort of like Lexy, but different. She hugged Dan.
And Carrey was still holding my hand.
I noticed when he tugged me over by the wall, away from his brothers. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"What? Have lunch? I'm not really that hungry..."
Carrey actually laughed. "Hang out with everyone. I don't want to make you stay here."
Okay, he was having another second chance moment, like at my house. This was my chance to run, if I wanted to. Carrey still wasn't aware that I didn't run very often. "No, it's alright. Looks like it might be fun to meet everyone."
I looked Carrey up and down, and then smiled. Tried to be reassuring. Didn't he ever bring anyone home to his family? Didn't anyone ever want to meet his brothers? "Of course. They're your family. Why wouldn't I want to meet them?"
"Hey guys?" Teddy called over to us, he had his arm around Caedance's shoulders. "Feel free to continue what you started at the office, but we're going to sit now."
Carrey tried to look angry, but just smiled instead. "We're coming."
"That's what I'm saying." Caedance broke out laughing, and playfully smacked him on the arm.
"Shut up, Teddy."
We followed the group through the restaurant. I was very aware of the stares, and looks we were getting. A few of the girls at one of the tables even tried to get a picture with Carrey. At first he seemed to want to say no, but he gave in quickly.
As he was holding the camera away from the three of them and smiling, I was struck by just how out of my element I was. The girls were giggling, and trying to get as close as possible. How crazy this whole thing seemed from the outside. I was going to lunch with Carrey Grey, and his brothers.
"Tasha? You alright?"
Carrey had given the camera back, and the girls were just watching us both now. "Yea. Fine."
"You look like you've seen a ghost."
Oh. "I'm okay. Really. Let's just have lunch."
Carrey shrugged, and we proceeded to the back room. It turned out to be some sort of private reception area. Reserved for occasions like the Grey's were having right now.
"Stop to take some pictures with your screaming fan girls?"
Carrey threw Lexy a grin before he pulled out my chair. "I couldn't help myself."
"Your father is going to have a field day with that when he gets here. If he ever gets here."
I turned to Carrey then, and leaned in as he frowned. "This is a family meeting? Carrey, I don't want to impose..."
"Shush." I leaned back, and stared at him. Carrey stared back. "If I have to suffer, you should too."
Carrey had just shushed me. I couldn't get over it.
He introduced me to everyone at the table, pointing at each couple. Teddy and Caedance, Morgan and Alexis, and Dan and Aleah, Lexy's sister. I knew that they had looked similar. Now it made sense.
Caedance asked how we met, and Carrey started on telling her about the date, and the wait. He described it differently than I did. He claimed I was more beautiful than I was. That I had smiled at him.
I remembered that.
And then he went on to say how he ended up taking me back to the bookstore on his motorcycle. And I saw Lexy's hand twist her engagement and wedding bands around and around.
"Carrey. That's not really safe."
"I know. I know. I never take anyone on that thing, but the poor girl needed a ride." Carrey drummed his fingers on the table. "What was I supposed to do? Leave her there?"
"I could have called a cab..."
Carrey's glare shut me up. Especially when he leaned over and kissed me in front of his family. A slow kiss. One that left my face burning, and my blood heated. I pulled back, and heard three collective sighs from the women around the table.
"Isn't that wonderful."
"You should have seen what we caught them doing on Carrey's desk." Teddy laughed at Carrey's expression of shock. "Don't worry, I won't completely rat you guys out. Let's just say, the windows were steamed up."
The girls, surprisingly, backed me up. Caedance started. "Oh, not on that desk. Carrey, that must have been uncomfortable for Natasha."
"With the windows open?" Lexy shot Morgan a look that I didn't understand. "What is it with you Grey men, and the windows? Honestly. It's like the entire world has to be present."
Carrey had kept quiet up until this point, but apparently couldn't take anymore. "Could we not talk about this right now..."
"Oh. Yea, we could change the subject. For sure. Lexy?" Aleah leaned around Dan to look at her sister.
"I know, right? I should have brought the notebook..." Lexy trailed off, still looking at Morgan.
He took that as his cue. "Notebook?"
"I wrote everything down. A sort of 'how to' book for women dating a Grey."
Teddy turned pale instantly. "You can't be serious."
Lexy laughed. Funny thing, so did Aleah and Caedance. When they all sobered up, she answered Teddy. "Of course I am. After the ridiculous time I had with you guys, I figured a handbook was just what other people needed if they were going to start dating anyone from this family. I passed it to Caedance when I met her, and then to Aleah when she started dating Dan. I have it at home for you, Tasha. I'll bring it by the bookstore or something. I'm going to need it back though."
"For what?" Morgan asked. "It's not like there's any more of us to marry off."
"For Oakley. Eventually."
"Oh, no. Definitely not..."
And then a long story about Oakley and a boy from her school that seemed to have a crush on her. They had been sharing lunch, and playing together during recess. Apparently, the whole family was involved in the discussion about the boy and Oakley.
I thought it was funny that Lexy had assumed that we were dating. I thought it was even nicer when Carrey hadn't corrected her. I made a mental note to ask Carrey later exactly what he meant. Exactly what we were doing here.
Everyone quieted when the last couple came into the room. I watched Carrey stand up with the rest of his brothers.
Christian and Ana Grey walked into the room smiling at each other. Christian had his arm around Ana's waist, and they had been laughing about something before stepping inside.
I don't think I had ever seen two people so happy together.
The brothers all shook hands with Christian as the couple made their way around the table by age. I noticed that each of the women kissed Christian on the cheek. I wondered what all that was about.
"Dad. I'd like you to meet someone." I stood up, and tried to smile. "This is Natasha Tide."
"Girlfriend?" Christian's tone was assessing, but he didn't seem to care what the answer was. His eyes were stuck on Carrey, I had only gotten a minor glance.
Carrey tripped over his answer. He started to say something, but then shook his head. I decided to answer the best way. Honestly. "He hasn't asked me yet."
Now Christian was interested. He smirked at his son, and then I had his full attention. "To be his girlfriend? Carrey rarely asks anyone anything."
Well, now. That was something. "Really?"
"Really." Ana piped up from behind Christian, nudging him to the side, she extended her hand to me and brought me in for a hug. "The fact that you're here with all of us, is a testament to how much Carrey must like you. He's like his father that way. Private."
"Hey." Christian pretend to be offended, and Ana waved him off. She made for the two open seats at the table.
"Come on, I'm hungry."
"It's good to meet you, Ms. Tide."
"Nice to meet you too."
Carrey and I sat back in our seats, and the conversation resumed. Orders were taken, drinks were brought, and the conversation never stopped. I couldn't keep up with the talk of business, babies, engagements, and the talk of weddings. My attention was pulled in four different directions, all at once.
It was all quite overwhelming, but not altogether bad. I started to like Lexy, Caedance, and even Aleah. They were funny, and great at breaking the ice between the brothers. They each seemed to know exactly what to say or do to smooth something over, or get them talking.
Morgan had his arm draped over the arm of Lexy's chair. He was speaking with Carrey and Christian about some sort of business while Lexy spoke with Aleah. Teddy was touching the ring on Caedance's left hand, and had his head propped on his fist on the table. Caedance was watching him like he was her entire world. Like they weren't in the same room as everyone else. Dan and Aleah were listening to Lexy, Aleah's chair was moved closer to Dan's, but other than that you wouldn't know that they were touching in any way.
And Carrey's hand had found mine again under the table. Our linked hands were resting on his thigh under the table, and I couldn't help but smile at him as I listened to his latest work on some sort of project at Grey Enterprises.
The meal arrived, but Carrey's conversation with his father didn't stop. The rest of the family started eating, and everyone listened as they talked back and forth. Twenty minutes later, they wrapped it up. I sat staring at the almost full plate in front of Carrey. He didn't even touch it, just pulled out his phone and started emailing. My hands gripped the underside of my chair.
I wondered if anyone was going to say anything about it, or if this was normal. For Carrey to not eat.
And maybe it wasn't any of my business, you know, because we were only supposed to be having sex. Maybe that was the sort of thing a girlfriend would do. Worry about whether he was eating or not.
But here I was. Worrying.
"Sweetie, look at me for a minute."
The new conversations hushed. I felt everyone looking at us, and I squirmed in my seat. Carrey looked up, and blinked at me. "Yea?"
I pointed at his practically untouched plate. "Aren't you going to eat?"
Carrey shrugged, and resumed scrolling through something on his phone. "Maybe later."
Lexy and Morgan were whispering together, and glancing between us. Carrey didn't seem to notice, but I did, and it bothered me at first. Until Lexy directed something at me.
"More forceful next time, Tasha. Threats work best, right Cae?"
Lexy Grey was giving me advice on how to get Carrey to eat. I just stared at her for a minute.
"Totally. Threats all the way. Tell him you won't eat unless he eats with you. That one always works." She smiled at Teddy, who frowned back at her.
Carrey didn't even look up from his phone. So, I figured it was okay to talk about it without him listening. "Does work always get in the way? Of normal life, I mean."
All four women answered me simultaneously after looking at their respective man. "Always."
"You know, you act like it's a terrible thing that we work so hard." Christian pointed to Carrey with his own blackberry in hand. "If that's the worst thing he's doing, you have it easy."
Ana silenced him by taking his blackberry and shoving it in her purse. "Just turn off work for ten minutes. You all need to do that once in awhile."
Carrey's phone rang, and he immediately stood and left the room. I watched him go, and sighed. Tossed my napkin on the table, and considered following him. That was another girlfriend thing. How many could I really get away with? Did I want to push my luck already?
Easy. I doubted there was anything easy about Carrey. I went back to the office, when he had pushed everything from his desk. That was something I had only seen in the movies. Read about in books that had half dressed women on the cover. Something I had never expected to happen to me. There was something different about Carrey. Something that had me hooked.
It was ironic, then, that he was calling me Fire just because my hair was sort of red. Because his fire was the reason I was agreeing to all of this. His inner fire that seemed to burn bright enough for everyone to see.
"Lexy, sweetheart, how is everything going?" Ana asked tentatively. I watched everyone perk up a little to listen, and figured this was some sort of important discussion. "Morgan hasn't said anything lately."
I saw Morgan grab Lexy's hand on the table, and squeeze hard. I almost teared up at the look she gave him.
"No news yet. I'm still waiting for some lab results to come back. I'll let everyone know as soon as we do, though, okay?"
"And the tour? Is that still on?" Christian now, asking Caedance about her career. Lexy seemed to relax back into her seat as Morgan rubbed her hand between his.
"Yup. I leave tomorrow."
Teddy didn't look up from the table. I noticed that Caedance and him were avoiding each other after that question. I might not be a relationship expert, but even I could tell there was tension between them over whatever Christian had mentioned.
Carrey took that moment to come back into the room, and stand behind my chair. "I hate to cut things short, but I have to go."
I caught the looks from his mother, and Lexy before the questions started to fly. Morgan and Dan were already out of their chairs, rounding the table to speak with Carrey. Teddy and Christian were more cautious, waiting and listening to the situation before they jumped to any conclusions.
Or the one conclusion that mattered. Carrey needed to go to Japan, apparently.
"No, Morrie. You need to stay with Lex right now." Carrey gave him a meaningful look, and then Teddy decided it was time to get involved in the conversation.
"I'll go with you, Carrey."
"I'm a big boy now, guys. I think I could handle it on my own."
"We know that, Car. But it would be more effective to take someone with you. What have I always taught you..."
Four faces raised to the ceiling at the same moment. Four voices rang out in the private room. "Lean on each other. Work together. Never give up."
Christian raised his eyebrows, and waited. When the answer he wanted didn't come, he prompted them again. "...And?"
"We aim to please."
Christian stood, and smiled. I caught Ana shaking her head and smiling at the five of them. "That's my boys."
Boys. Even though Teddy had to be thirty something, and Carrey wast least twenty. They were grown men to me, but to Christian they were still his children that needed to finish their training. Christian put a hand on Teddy's shoulder, and then ruffled Carrey's hair.
"Take your brother with you. I'll feel better about the whole situation." Morgan started to speak, but Christian cut him off. "You know why you need to hang back on this one, Morgan. Don't argue with me over this. Besides, Carrey will need you here with Dan to run home base, right?"
Carrey caught on, and backed his father. "Right. You should run point on the thing with LA going solar."
"Fine." Morgan sighed, and resigned himself to his fate.
Carrey started playing with a set of keys, twirling them in his hands while he spoke to his father and Teddy about making arrangements. It sounded like they were leaving Monday morning. Heading to Japan on a jet of some sort. I heard the rest of the family start to talk about leaving, and then we were all getting ready to go.
Carrey pulled my chair out, and offered his hand to me. He gave me a weak smile, and I tried smiling back. It was hard to think that he was leaving so soon after we had started getting to know each other. I couldn't really think about it without wondering if he would forget about me while he was gone. How long did these sorts of things take, anyway? When could I expect him back?
Carrey held my hand while I half-hugged all of the women in the room, and said goodbye. All of Carrey's brothers also kissed me on the cheek, which seemed strange to me. I chalked it up to Grey family tradition or something.
Christian and Ana said their own goodbyes, and then Carrey and I were the only ones left in the room. He released my hand, and I wondered what was up.
Carrey was still playing with his keys, and now he was pulling at his collar.
"Do you...um, well." Then he sighed very loudly, and covered his eyes with his hand. "I'm terrible at this."
"God, Carrey." I uncovered his eyes, and laughed. "Just ask me if I want to go back to your place already."
Carrey tilted his head, and looked at me seriously. "Is that supposed to be funny?"
"Hilarious. It was supposed to be hilarious. What's the problem? Oh, wait! Let me guess! Do you have roaches or something?" Carrey's eyes widened. "Okay, no roaches. Do you never do laundry? Oh, I bet..."
"Alright, alright. Enough on the inquisition." Carrey held his hands up, and looked around the room before he whispered to me. "Listen, I don't normally take women back to my place."
Oh? "Then where do you take them?" I covered my mouth as soon as I saw his smile. I saw the desk all over again. His god damn office. I pointed. "You can't be serious."
"How do you know if I'm serious or not? It's not like you can google that sort of thing."
"So, are you asking me back to the office...or your place?"
This seemed like it could be a big step. If he hadn't asked anyone this sort of thing...don't get ahead of yourself.
"My place." Carrey held up the keys. "That's just the thing, though. I don't live in the city."
"I live.." Carrey pointed out of the window in the room. There was some sort of yard, and a treeline in the distance. "Waaaayyyy out there."
It was my turn to look confused. "What are you talking about? You live in some shack in the woods? That's the problem? You're Carrey freaking Grey. Why don't you live in the city next to Grey Enterprises?"
Carrey got in my face, and smiled. "Because I am Carrey freaking Grey. And if I want to live in some shack in the woods, I'll do as I damn well please. That's why." Carrey pocketed his keys, and took my hand again. "Come."
Oh, okay. And then we were making our way through the restaurant, and down a narrow aisle where people were snapping pictures. People were calling for Carrey to look at them, but he wasn't listening. He was single minded on getting us out of the restaurant. Carrey was opening the door for me, and we were out on the sidewalk.
Carrey was taking a deep breath, and letting it out. I looked around us, and didn't see the black SUV we had arrived in.
"You keep calling me that."
"How are we getting...?"
"Oh." Carrey said simply. He pulled a cell phone from...where? And put it to his ear. "Ian? The park. Yes." Then Carrey had his phone back in his pocket, and he was taking my hand.
The photographers were catching up with us at this point. Spilling out of the restaurant onto the street. I was starting to get uncomfortable.
He glanced behind us, and then tugged on my hand a little before whispering in my ear. "Let's take a walk. My driver is at the park."
"Alright." Carrey pulled out sunglasses, and handed me a pair before putting his on. "Do you always carry extras?"
"We aim to please, Ms. Tide."
I slipped mine on, and then Carrey's arm was around my shoulders tucking me into his side. It looked casual, but the way my heart sped up was anything but. "What does that even mean?"
Carrey laughed. "I have no idea."
It was good to hear him laugh again as we walked. Carrey pointed out some new stores that were springing up on this block. Somewhere in the middle of him talking about something, I decided to loop my arm around Carrey's waist.
Carrey just smiled at me.
It would have been a perfectly quiet moment, if the guy behind us wasn't snapping pictures 50 feet back. Carrey didn't seem to care, so I tried my best not to care either. I tried my best to ignore it. I even started the conversation.
"So, your place?"
"Tonight? I'll pick you up at the store?"
"You have time tonight? I thought you had to get ready for Japan and all of that."
"Well, I should." Carrey considered before we started on the crosswalk to the park. "But I don't really want to wait."
"Oh, greedy are we?"
"I guess you could say that." Carrey and I stood still together, looking for the car that was supposed to take us back. Carrey spotted it, and started to lead me away. "I just don't want to have to worry about what page we're on when I have to leave. I want to be sure of where we both stand, Tash."
"My thoughts exactly."
Carrey opened the door for me, and helped me up. I watched him close the door, and come around the SUV.
"The bookstore. Across from Grey Publishing?"
"Very good, sir."
Carrey pushed the sunglasses up to sit on top of his head, and took out his phone again. "Tonight. What time do you close?"
Carrey frowned at me. "Nine? Who buys books at nine at night?"
"You would be surprised." I took Carrey's sunglasses off, and hooked them into my shirt before we merged into traffic.
"I'll pick you up at nine, then."
"No, no. You'll pick me up at 10:30. I have sooo much work to do, and now I'm behind because I went to lunch with you." I poked Carrey in the arm, and tried to look angry. It didn't work.
Carrey looked at me for a minute, and then shook his head. "Thanks for doing that for me. My family isn't the easiest to..."
"Your family is wonderful, Carrey."
"They all seemed to take a liking to you. Even Dad." Carrey's eyes roamed over my face, and then to the sunglasses on my shirt. "Which is strange. Normally he would be suspicious of anyone new. You should have heard what he said to Lexy the first time he met her."
"Well, they all think we're dating." I shrugged.
"Not my father. He knows better."
I turned to the window, and found us in the parking lot at the bookstore. It was time for me to go back to work.
Carrey scooted over the middle seat to pull me across his lap. It all happened so fast, that I was shocked when his lips found mine. When he started kissing me as if I wasn't going to see him until next week. His kiss was all I could think about. And when he pulled back, I wanted to stay in the car. I wanted him to take me to his place so we could forget about the paperwork, and lunch.
And I think that's what Carrey wanted me to feel, because he smiled at me like he knew something I didn't. Like he held all the power.
In a way, he did. Carrey had me right where he wanted me. Just like on his desk. In his SUV, with the driver sitting up front listening to everything. Carrey went from zero to one fifty in less than sixty seconds. And I went with him every time.
"10:30. I'll be here."
I smoothed down my hair, because he still had my hair clip somewhere. Trying to make it look like I wasn't just making out with Carrey Grey in his SUV, and opened the car door.
"10:30." I repeated, after I got out of the car. Carrey had one hand on the handle, watching me. "Carrey..."
"Don't over think this, Fire. Right now everything is so..." He was pleading with me, and I knew what he wanted. I knew what he was trying to say.
Carrey nodded, and got out of the car. Pulled me into his arms again for another kiss. This one was for the whole world to see. I made it count.
This time, Carrey's hair was messed up from my hands. I was the one that felt powerful, because Carrey Grey had stepped down out of his car to kiss me. In the middle of the parking lot, in front of everyone.
"Bye, Carrey." I stepped out of his arms, and started to walk towards the bookstore. I turned about halfway there to look back at him. He was watching me, standing next to the open car door. I called back. "Have a great day at work!"
I didn't get a response, so I finished the walk to the front doors. John was staring at me, open mouthed.
I stood with him and watched the SUV make it's way out of the parking lot. Watched Carrey leave.
"I hope you know what you're doing Tasha. You're playing with fire."
I caught the sunglasses in my hand as the SUV disappeared around the corner finally. I knew what it was like touching Carrey. And, I knew that he liked me. Me, of all people. Of all of the screaming fan girls that wanted their picture with him, he had picked someone who couldn't recognize him on first sight. I knew what I was flirting with.
Don't over think this, Fire. I turned back to John, away from the window. "Carrey's worth it. He's worth getting burned for. He's worth every scar I'll take away from this."