I walk and walk, pounding the streets of Seattle with no sense of where I'm going. Thoughts tumble and crash around my head. Passing the hospital on my route I see mom's car in her space in the parking lot, but I keep walking. As I look up realise that I'm quite close to Escala, was this where my subconscious was leading me.
Abruptly I change direction and head towards the Pike Market District passing the upmarket boutiques and restaurants. I hear someone greeting me with a 'Hello Mr Grey' and find as I turn I've just passed a salon. I greet the man with a friendly hello and follow him inside, asking if he's got an appointment to spare for a quick cut. 'Of course' he says, 'I've always got appointments for a Grey'
He leads me to the back of the salon and I'm left in the hands of a middle aged blonde who settles me in the chair before washing my hair. Once she's finished she escorts me to a small room where Franco is waiting, he asks if I want the usual trim. I don't remember anyone else apart from mom when I was younger ever cutting my hair. It has always been Franco. I'm about to nod at him when I find myself saying 'Not this time, shave it all off' He looks questionably at me, then he makes a start on the back. I close my eyes, not wanting to watch him do what I've asked for. I've always had my unruly curls trimmed and never had it very short. Just as he's finishing, I cautiously open my eyes.
Although he's not done what I asked for I like it, a lot! Franco has cut the back and sides quite short whilst trimming the ends of the unruly mass on top, but the curls are still there. I look so different, older, maturer. As my eyes meet his in the mirror, I look at him quizzically. He stammers that he will cut it all shorter if I desire. I tell him it's good as it is but enquire why he didn't just shave my head. He looks embarrassed as he replies 'I would like to keep my job here'. I get out my wallet to pay as we move towards the reception area though Franco is very insistent that there is no charge. Apparently 'The Grey Family' appointments are on the house. I don't understand why but really don't want to embarrass Franco any further, so thank him for his services and leave.
It's surprising what a haircut can do. I feel relaxed, different, calmer and more confident. I head back downtown towards Grey house. My thoughts are all over the place. This is the first time I've just taken off on my own. Walking the streets of Seattle and no-one from my family knows where I am. It feels good. Then I feel guilty. Will anyone be worried or will they not realise that I'm out and about doing as I please. Dad will be in court, mom is at the hospital, Elliot will be at his latest construction site, while Mia will be meeting friends at the mall. That just leaves Christian.
I assume he'll still be busy with her, or he'll have arrived at Grey House early to find I'm not there and will be thermo-nuclear by now with worry. To my surprise I hope he's still busy with Ana. At least then I won't get to see his explosive anger as he lectures me on my personal safety, security, no thoughts for others. He'll be raking both hands through his hair, pacing up and down his office as he barks instructions down the phone to Taylor who'll be searching for me.
I'm in front of Grey House once more. Deep breath, relax, enter. I've still got the visitor pass so head straight for the elevator. As I'm rocketed to the 20th floor I pray that Christian is still at Escala with Ana. In his reception, Andrea is talking with Ros. They are both pleased to see me and inform me that Christian will be here in an hour. I think even they can hear my huge sigh of relief. Ros sends me off to get a photo pass on level 2 and tells me when I'm finished to meet her on level 17 for the accounts department. Phew! I think I've got away with having the morning off.
The man in charge of security passes is middle aged and friendly. He asks where I'll be working as the pass is used to swipe so that you can only access certain floors. He must think I'm being very nosey because I ask him loads of questions; does everyone have a pass, what happens if you want to access another floor, how come you don't need to swipe to get to the 20th. He then patiently explains that everyone does have a pass 'except Mr Grey' , if I need to go to another floor then I will be escorted and security only let certain people access the elevator on the far right so will not me once they see my pass.
I look at the pass now, it clearly states level 17, I hardly recognise myself in the photo after the haircut, but he's got my name wrong. Well just not got it completely right. I gave him my full name like I was asked and all that's printed is 'MATTHEW TREVELYAN'. Did he not hear the 'Grey' part? I'm about to correct him but he's already ushering me out as he's got a lunch appointment.
Ros is already waiting for me in accounts. Just before she introduces me to anyone I ask her if they already know I'm a Grey. She tells me not yet so I ask her to just introduce me as 'Matt'. She looks puzzled but doesn't question me as we make our way into the department. Ros introduces me to the Head of Accounts, a Mr Steve Edwards, and then leaves me to it. I go to shake his hand but the return shake is limp. He looks at me coldly and asks my name. I go with the one on the pass. Hearing it he smiles and says 'Good, rumour had it that a Grey was starting here. Your first job is to make me a black coffee. I'll be in my office' with that he turns and walks away.
I head towards the communal kitchen to get on with the coffee making. As I'm waiting for the water to boil I switch my blackberry back on. There's only one message, from Christian. 'What have you been up to this morning? Welcome to the working world Mr Trevelyan! Taylor will meet you outside at 6pm and take you to Escala, I think we need a chat'