To everyone who wrote me sweet notes asking about the story: thanks so much! Knowing that people want to read more is so inspiring to me and is what made me want to stay up late to update tonight =) You guys are the best and I am very sorry to keep you waiting this long.
The elevator ride was just as quiet as the trip in the car. Wisely, Taylor had decided to wait in the garage and let them go up to the apartment alone. At one point, Ana had reached over to try to grab Christian's hand, but he had jerked away from her before she could intertwine their fingers.
Now is probably not a good time to tell him about the baby. She would never be able to win when she had to give Christian bad news, that was just the truth of it. If she were to dump the news about the baby on Christian now, he would likely go through the roof. Hell, he might even run again. Her subconscious egged her on, reminding her that secrets were awful for healthy relationships. The realist in her acknowledged that their relationship everything but healthy right now.
Ana's hand moved instinctively over her stomach as she thought about Christian leaving again. It made her, well, it made her sick. Physically sick. Like, sick right now in the elevator. When the doors finally opened on their floor, Ana raced past Christian and headed for the same bathroom that she had utilized just hours earlier for the same purpose. Ah, yes, the worshiping of the porcelain throne. It had become almost a routine for her.
This time was worse, though. The vomiting lasted even longer than usual and she was shaking by the time the dry heaving started. Unlike last time, the throwing up had not brought her any relief. She felt just as bad as when she had started.
On top of that, Christian had not followed her into the bathroom, so if she wanted to lie down in bed she was going to have to walk herself to their room alone. When Ana tried to stand, she felt nausea race through her again.
In an attempt to curb the need to vomit, Ana curled up on the fuzzy bath mat and tried to stay still.; moving was simply not an option. After what felt like an eternity, Ana cried herself into a fitful sleep.
Ana stretched out and reached for Christian, hoping to find his sleeping body next to her. Unfortunately, all she received was a fistful of his pillow.
The room was dark, but Ana knew that someone had moved her from the bathroom into the master bedroom. In all likelihood, that person had been her furious, yet loving, husband.
The music coming from the living room let her know that he was still close by and inspired her to slip out of bed to find him. As she expected, Christian was playing the piano. The melody was soft and depressed. It took all of Ana's strength not to cry again, knowing that Christian's music was always a reflection of how he was feeling.
She had almost reached the piano when Christian glanced up at her for the first time. His face still held a look of frustration and she knew that he had been thinking about her.
"Baby, I am sorry about today." What else was there to say? It had been all her fault.
Her words caused Christian to stop playing and silence hung between them. "Why do you do this to me, Anastasia? You know I want you safe, and yet you cannot obey the most direct and sensible attempts to ensure your wellbeing. When I couldn't find you, I thought the worst. Your ass should be pink for how you made me feel. I was planning on having you bent over my knee before you went racing off to the bathroom."
Ana sucked in a breath at Christian's admission. He couldn't be punishing her, not with the baby. Of course, the list from Dr. Greene said nothing about rough sex involving corporal punishment, but surely that kind of a given. "You promised me that you wouldn't punish me anymore," she said in a small voice, hoping that her objection would be enough to stow Christian's twitching hand.
He nodded. "I know, Ana, but obviously you need an incentive to behave. Perhaps we should reconsider the punishments. I can't live with your sporadic behavior, not knowing what the hell you are doing. I get it if you don't want punishments for most behaviors; we can leave that off of the table. When it comes to your wellbeing, though, I need to you want to avoid the consequences."
"This is how life is, Christian. People screw up. I screwed up today by lying to you and leaving SIP, but I am not perfect and you can't expect me to be. Your way of handling things is inherently unfair: I mess up and you hit me, you mess up and what happens really? Nothing, that's what happens. Can't you just forgive and we can move on?" She watched as his brow furrowed in response.
Whew! At least that gave him something to think about. Ana moved away from him and to the kitchen to get something to drink. All of the confrontation had made her thirsty and she needed some space from him to think clearly. His pajama pants were riding so low that she should receive a prize for being able to form complete sentences.
Unfortunately, Christian followed her. "Fair point, well made, Mrs. Grey. I will have to give your speech a little more consideration. In the mean time, you still need to tell me where you were this afternoon. What was so important that made you ditch security and cost Ryan, and maybe Luke, their jobs?"
Ana tipped her glass of water onto the counter, but ignored the growing puddle. "You fired the new guy? Don't you even dare consider firing Sawyer! None of this is his fault and you know it."
Christian set the cup up and gave her a reprimanding look for her oblivious state. If Luke leaves, who will be my new security guy? He really is the best. If he gets fired because of me... She got a sinking feeling when Christian's face brightened. "I think I just figured out a new form of punishment, Mrs. Grey. Disobey me again and Luke gets canned, understand? It might not bring me the same kind of satisfaction as my usual way of handling things, but I think it might give you a good reason not to push my patience."
He gave her an assessing look, obviously pleased with himself. Then, out of nowhere, his scowl returned. "But you still haven't told me where you were, Anastasia. Spill it or I'll fire the man tonight."
Ana responded automatically. "I snuck out of SIP because I had a job interview. I hate working there and I knew that if I told you about it you would have attempted to influence the outcome. Jesus, Christian, I would have told you anyway. You don't need to drag Sawyer into this. It just feels... underhanded when you do."
Ignoring her dissent, Christian looked at her with surprise. "A job interview? You had me worried to death over a job interview?"
His voice was eerily quiet and hollow. "I guess so, but it wasn't my intention. Just like how sometimes you hurt me without trying. We both make mistakes, Christian, and today I made one. A really big one." How many times will I have to remind him about that? You'd think he expected perfection... Ana tried to avoid the automatic response that her subconscious gave her, but she could not avoid the truth: perfection was exactly what Christian expected from her.
The tension in his shoulders seemed to relax some and Ana took it as a sign that maybe she could reach out to him. Slowly, she started to grasp his hand. So much of her wanted to massage his back and ease his pain, but that was not something that Christian would allow or appreciate.
Thankfully, he squeezed her hand in return. "Ana, you can't keep doing this to me. Every time you disappear, I die inside. I think the worst things have happened. I was about to send out a search if the evacuation was fruitless."
Christian reached up to wipe the tears from her face and she nodded her agreement with his words. She wanted to stop having secrets, but some things had to wait to be said. Ana needed her husband's love now and there was no telling how Christian would react to the news that she was keeping from him. For once, why couldn't he just be a normal husband?
After a few minutes of silence, Christian stood up and walked with her back to the bedroom. "So, tell me about this interview, Mrs. Grey. I have to tell you that if you do find other employment a surprise I have been working on will be less gratifying for me."
Ana felt warmth spread across her body. If Christian was able to tease her about surprises, maybe the arguing was over for the night. "First, tell me about this surprise. You should no better than to use that word around a woman."
Christian chuckled. "Okay. I have submitted the paperwork to turn SIP into Grey Publishing, Inc. The change will be in effect in about a month and I want you to be the CEO of the company. That is, if you will accept the position."
Ana felt her jaw hit the floor. "Christian, that is very generous, but I don't want to be a CEO. If anything, my dream is to work my way up to being an editor."
She watched as Christian's face dropped a little at her admission. "Besides," she continued. "I want to have a job that I earn on my own, that is beyond your reach of influence."
He smirked at her declaration. "Mrs. Grey, I should warn you that any company that you work for will be swiftly acquired by our parent corporation. I thought that you would understand that without it being said."
"That is true only if you can buy it, Mr. Grey. As of today, I have accepted an assistant editor position at Fox Publishing."
Ana heard Christian's quick intake of breath. That was clearly not what he had expected. "Ana, when they find out who you are there is no way they are going to hire you. I bet you gave them your maiden name, didn't you? They will find out, baby."
Catching Christian off-guard was not something that happened very often and to watch it occur was thoroughly entertaining. He was grasping at straws, trying to put doubt in her mind over the security in the position. "They already know, Christian. We discussed it in my interview. I even had the pleasure of talking with your business associate, Jessica."
Christian's scowl grew as he realized that Jessica had likely known about the interview during their meeting. The wool had been pulled over his eyes and Christian hated being on the receiving end of a surprise.
"Well, Mrs. Grey, we'll just have to see about that." Christian walked past her briskly, irritated, but for once not in a dangerous way. Ana took this as a sign that Christian had found a challenge. This could be good for him; that man got his way far too often for her taste.
Thoroughly satisfied with herself, Ana flipped off the lights to the living room and followed her husband to their bed.
It felt so good to sleep in again. Ana had sent Christian to work with the instruction that he let Jack know that she was quitting without notice. Part of her had wanted to tell the asshole herself, but the majority of her just wanted him to be a thing of the past. Besides, Christian hated him as much as she did, so he would have fun breaking the news to Jack. Thankfully, Sawyer had grabbed her purse and phone when he had discovered her missing, so there was nothing at the office that she needed to pick up.
Fox Publishing had been willing to have her start in three weeks time, which meant that she and Christian could have a short, but proper, honeymoon. Besides, now that she was officially unemployed until then, Ana was willing to leave whenever Christian deemed appropriate.
Not surprisingly, Christian had found it appropriate to leave that night, right after he tied some business of his own. Thus, Ana's main task for the day would be deciding what to pack. Christian had not given her very much of a hint about where they would be going, so she was fishing in the dark.
Hopefully, it was okay to travel to a foreign country while she was pregnant. Ana had not even begun to do a doctor search, so a lot of her questions had gone unanswered. In all likelihood, she was overreacting by wondering about the harm of traveling overseas. Ana's thoughts were interrupted by her blackberry. She reached into her back pocket and scrolled up to see the new email. It was likely just Christian looking to flirt.
She frowned when she was that the email was actually sent to her from her work address. After hesitating for a minute, she clicked to open it.
"None of this matters, you bitch. How long until he finds out all of your secrets?"
Ana stared at the message, reading it again and again. Secrets? She only had one secret now that she could think of, albeit it was a rather big one. Did the person who was hacking into her email know about the pregnancy?
She quickly dialed Christian's phone and he picked up on the first ring. "Hey, Ana. What's up?"
Even despite what had happened, Ana had to smile at the carefree, normal greeting he had given her. It was almost like they were just a normal couple in their 20's.
"Christian, something has happened. Can you come home soon?"
"I'm on my way," he answered tersely. "Are you okay? Go and find Sawyer. He should be in the house somewhere. I'll be there soon."
Ana said goodbye and hung up the phone. She quickly left the bedroom and began searching for her security detail. She found him in the kitchen, chatting with Mrs. Jones.
Both of them turned to her when she entered the room. Sawyer was looking considerably better, though he did glower at her for a split second.
"Um, can I talk to you for a minute, Sawyer?"
"Sure," he said, all business when he saw the hesitation that she was having. "How about we step into the library?"
Ana nodded and followed him into the massive, book-lined room. It was her favorite room in the house by far and she was certain that Sawyer had figured out as much.
"Look," he started. "I was out of line to yell at you yesterday. You are a grown woman, my boss and perfectly capable of deciding what you want to do, which could include firing my ass. So do you accept my apology?"
Ana was stunned for a minute. His apology and lopsided grin were unexpected and charming. "Of course, Sawyer. It was my fault, though. I wasn't very thoughtful about making sure you got to do your job. I was just focused on a goal and it was really wrong for me to give you the slip…again. But that is not why I wanted to talk to you."
Ana took a deep breath before pulling her phone out of her pocket. "I just received a threatening email from my work account at SIP. I called Christian and he is coming home, but he wanted me to find you until he could get here."
Sawyer nodded, still looking at the message. "Um…Ana? Is it overstepping my position to inquire about this? Do you want me to know what these "secrets" are or if they even exist?"
Fidgeting with her wedding rings, Ana was unsure how to proceed. She had not expected to tell anyone about the baby until Christian knew, but maybe it would be better for her body guard to know so he could do his job.
"You are not overstepping the mark, Sawyer. There is something that I have been keeping from Christian, but I don't know how anyone else would know about it. Plus, they are referring to "secrets" and as far as I know, I only have one secret that I am keeping."
She paused, gauging his reaction before continuing. "If I tell you this, do you promise to keep it between us? That you won't tell Taylor or Christian?"
Sawyer nodded slowly. "As long as when you do tell Mr. Grey you promise not to tell him that I knew about this before him, I will keep this between us."
Ana let out a large sigh. "I'm pregnant."
This was obviously not the news that Sawyer had been expecting. "But, the baby is…I mean, Mr. Grey… he is…"
"Of course, Christian is the father!" Ana snapped. "I just know that he did not want kids anytime soon, so I am waiting to tell him until the time is right. Remember, you promised not to tell anyone."
Sawyer eyed her warily, clearly regretting his promise not to tell Christian. "Don't worry, Ana, I won't tell him, but you really should and soon, too."
"I know," she said, as she sank into the leather couch. The piece of furniture was her favorite. It was large and comfortable. She and Christian had already made several memories on it, but that was not something she was ever going to discuss with Sawyer.
Seeing her distress, Sawyer sat down lightly beside her, as though he was afraid that she was going to break at any minute. If Ana had to guess, she would bet that he had not had very much experience with women.
"Do you have any sisters, Sawyer?"
He shook his head hopelessly. "Five brothers." Ana groaned and leaned agianst his shoulder. Of course, the one time she could use some feminine advice, the only person she could turn to was a man with five brothers.