The drive to the Heathman was faster than I thought it could take. Mr. Cab driver seemed to be in a hurry because I didn't get enough time to compose myself. Well, it was not like I needed to, but I just wanted to be sure that I was not making a mistake of coming to meet Gavin's mother. I sent him a short text, informing him about his mom's surprise call during lunch time.
After the taxi took off, I went inside the double doors and took my time to find the room reserved by Amanda. A staff kindly escorted me and before we reached the door, I mentally gave myself a final tap on the cheeks. You can do this.
The look in her eyes gave a hint of surprise when I entered the room. She must have been expecting a different Ana Steele and the real me caught her off guard. Good, I thought. Thanks to my best friends for pushing me to purchase new office clothes. With my dark grey skirt and white ruffled collar long sleeve shirt, Ms. Confidence was definitely on my side today.
Chin up, Steele.
"Mrs. Boyle." I took a step forward, putting my practiced Ana Grey CEO mask, and offered my hand. "Anastasia Steele, a pleasure to meet you." Well, not really.
She recovered quickly and Amanda didn't even hide her unfriendly scrutiny. She took her time before she stood up and shook my hand briefly. "Likewise, Mrs—Ms. Steele."
Was that an honest mistake or what?
I pretended that it didn't happen, and just stood there unblinking.
"Take a seat." Her overall aura screamed VIP, expecting people to follow her wishes in a snap. Didn't she know I was married to the one of the most powerful and intimidating men, if not the whole country, in Seattle?
On my way here, I thought of maybe giving her a bit of respect and benefit of the doubt for being Gavin's mother. Maybe she was just over protective of her only son and that was understandable with his history when it came to love and relationships. If I were her, I would feel the same way toward Teddy and whoever he would choose to love.
So, even with her attitude in going behind her son's back, I decided to let her scrutinize me and listen to what she had to say.
But with her antics and obvious attempt— which was failing miserably— to intimidate me, I wanted to change my mind. I couldn't help but think about Grace Trevelyan-Grey. The sweetest and perfect, in my honest opinion, mother-in-law in the entire universe. She made my transition from being a single woman to a married one as smooth as possible because of her warm welcome and guidance. The random 'thank yous' and hugs she'd given me when we'd be alone in one room were a part of her sincerest gratitude for my saving of her son.
Facing Amanda Boyle was like a reality check that not every mother-in-law candidates, I'm talking in general here, were not like Dr. Trevelyan-Grey.
I quickly noticed that the lone wine glass on the table, assuming it was hers, was already almost empty. She must have been waiting for a while, I supposed. Not really my fault considering how she took the liberty of flying all the way from San Francisco to see me without giving a day's notice.
"I've already chosen a three-meal course, if you don't mind." Why didn't it surprise me? Of course, I do mind. "In that way, we could solely focus on the subject matter that I would like to discuss with you."
She turned to nod at the server but I stopped her before she could. "Actually, I would be fine," and looked pointedly at the glass in front of me, "with a glass of water." I said politely as I could.
"Non-sense, I w—
"If you don't already know, I have a four year-old son waiting for me at home. I don't want to make him wait too long…," when she narrowed her eyes at me, I stared straight ahead- not even blinking - and continued, "so whatever it is that you want to discuss with me, I think you better get straight to the point."
"Very well." Mrs. Boyle drank her wine to the last drop as she waited for the server to leave the room. "I guess I better stop beating around the bush then."
She flipped her elegantly-made up dirty blonde hair, which fell just past her shoulders. She actually looked a bit like Cate Blanchett, plus ten years, as the wicked step-mother in the recent Cinderella movie. What stood out the most were her dark brown eyes. Amanda looked nothing like Gavin, except for the hair color.
She's nothing like Gavin. End of.
"I came here to meet you personally to express my extreme disapproval of your association with my son, Gavin." No shit, Sherlock. If she was waiting for any reaction on my part, she'd gotten nothing. So she continued, "You must know, the thing with you and him at the moment is something very new to him. And I believe he finds it challenging to chase a woman… with a child."
Calm your farm, Steele.
"And with you," she looked me over and I dared her to continue by raising an eyebrow, "being formerly Mrs. Christian Grey is a complication we don't need in our family." Oh.
Now we're getting at something.
"If he wants to play daddy with a normal single mother and her son or daughter, I would let him. It won't matter because he'll get tired of them and move on. But with you and the little Grey in the picture," she leaned closer and pursed her lips tightly, "is something I can't allow to continue."
Okay, I had enough. "Mrs. Boyle, I am curious about one thing… why is being associated with me, a former Grey, a complication? Is it complicated for you or Gavin?"
"Ha," and she rolled her eyes at me, "Isn't it obvious?"
"Actually, no." Patience. "If you could please, explain thoroughly."
"Surely, you know. You married Grey. Your son is a Grey. It's always complicated with the Greys, especially your ex-husband. What else is there to say?" Is she making any sense at all?
"Let me ask you this, what do you think of the Greys, especially my ex-husband? Is there anything wrong with Christian? Have you already met him? And please, I'll have to ask you to leave my son out of this," because I might have to throw this glass full of water in her face if she try again to include my son in her bullshit. As much as I'd like to add that, I told her instead, "Could you justify your point further? I would like to understand." I said in a bored tone and gave her a smile that didn't even reach my eyes.
That made her face red. Oops. "I don't need to explain myself further to you. As I've said, if would be the best if you'll cut your ties with my son."
And as I thought, I was just wasting my time. She kept on by saying, "He deserves someone…"
Oh so we're going there. "Like Chloe Phillips?"
She met my stare head on, "Yes. Chloe was his first and will be the last. You're getting in their way. She was supposed to follow Gavin and live with him while she's trying to find a job." So, that was the plan. Her plan. "Then you and your son took his attention and now look at what happened!" No wonder she hated me way before we have even met.
Time to wrap things up before it gets bloody in here.
"I see." Taking a sip from my glass of water, I took my time before I turned my attention back to her. Dropping my Ana Grey CEO mask, I let the stronger Steele take over. "Let me give my two cents about your concerns that made you fly all the way to Portland." Amanda remained sitting, ears turning deep red. "First, about Gavin playing daddy, if he wants to— then I think it's his decision seeing he's of the right age and has his own mind to enter such relationship. Second, about my family connection with the Greys," I leaned closer, entwining my hands together and let my chin rest on it while my elbows relaxed on the table. "I understand you are Gavin's mother," and added in cool voice, "but it's none of your business."
The shock on her face was almost too comical to describe. I bet no one had ever tried to say those words right in her face. Before she could recover, I stood up and gathered my purse. "And lastly," who said I was done? "About Ms. Phillips… I'll leave your son to inform you about her recent hobbies that you might have missed when you rescued her from her suicide attempt."
Amanda stood up and tried to say something but I quickly cut her off.
"I would say it was nice meeting you but I detest liars. Have a safe flight back home." With a little wave, I turned and headed straight to the door— leaving a stunned and speechless Amanda Boyle.
"Goodnight Teddy," I whispered, leaving a chaste kiss on his forehead.
Looking down at my sweet copper haired boy, my thoughts brought me back to the short but intense meeting with Gavin's mother. It wasn't the way I had imagined being introduced to one of his parents when I first realized that I had fallen in love with him. And that it was going to be this soon, considering we hadn't been together that long. With the way he talked about his family, I'd be honest to say that I felt relieved thinking they'd probably be the same as him— sweet, caring, loving and extra kind. When you enter a relationship with a plus one, first thing you'd think about would be, 'will his family like my son?' or 'what would they think about me and my son?'"
Of course it'd be a deal breaker if one of them would think ill of my baby boy. Ted is everything. So, after I replayed on my mind every single word Amanda had said, I took a minute to collect my thoughts. Is this all worth it? I asked myself.
Starting all over again had been tough, especially with a child. It was fine and I knew I could handle it all because I had expected that it'd be hard. I knew things would be so far from what we had back in Seattle. But despite of everything, I thought it wasn't all that bad. After my Happily-Ever-After turned Nightmare-On-Elm-Street, I was able to breathe again. I found a new home, even if it was nothing like the house Christian and I shared after we had Teddy, which served as a safe haven for me and my son. I wanted to get away as far as I could from Seattle but it wasn't fair to Ted. Portland was best choice and I definitely had no regrets with the decisions I made from the past six months.
The day I met Tiffany and Cameron serve as a healthy reminder that I could make it on my own. Even without my former husband's influence, I could make an easy connection with other people. During my marriage with Christian, I had to fight tooth and nail to keep my independence, but to be honest, I highly depended on him. I trusted him to do most of the decisions in our life. What could I do? I was in love and to make it work you have to give your one hundred percent trust to the one you love, expecting that you'd be together until the day you die. I relied heavily on him – who to talk during public events, what to say in front of business associates – which group of people I can trust and exchange friendly remarks.
Making new friends by just being myself felt liberating. The feeling of normalcy it brought had me thinking that I wanted to start all over again. I wanted to just be me. No pressure on who to ask, to talk or just even smile at. It's all up to me.
Now meeting Gavin was a different story. At first I thought it was a test on how I would react to another guy showing signs of attraction towards me. Of course, it made me immensely happy. Who wouldn't be? He was like a Greek god who literally fell on my doorstep. His undivided attention gave my bruised and battered self-esteem a massive boost. It felt heavenly to be the recipient of those panty-melting smiles and heated looks. Then it slowly bloomed into something undeniable.
He was undoubtedly the most passionate and sexiest man I'd ever met. To think that I made an embarrassing mistake of accusing him as my security detail, I wanted to slap myself a hundred times for being so stupid and hitting him at that time. He understood me like I was a part of him. The respect and patience he had for me had been truly exceptional. The way he listened to me, like he really tried to hear every word. The way he was with my son, adoring and caring like he was his own. The way he loved me, like really loved me.
Melissa was right. When he falls, he falls hard. He'd give everything he had without realizing he was giving too much of himself. Not caring if he's the only one giving.
"Ana?" I heard his footsteps approaching the bedroom.
With all the trouble that Chloe and Amanda brought here, was he worth it?
Was I risking the new life I'd been trying build for my son by staying with him?
He slowly opened the door and looked around. When his gaze landed on the sleeping Ted, his rugged and sleep deprived face turned soft and mushy. And when he turned to me, his blue eyes shined and his smile was nothing but pure… love.
He whispered, "I'm home."
My heart stopped, and gave its answer. Yes.
God help me... I hope he's all worth it.
The next day, I felt disappointed and a little relieved that Gavin had to leave early again. The Bureau's 24/7 surveillance of suspected hiding areas of the human trafficking ring all over the city was still on-going. It was a closed off operation, only a handful of officers – including my man – and some feds were involved. The other day, he mentioned that a couple of ex Navy Seals that Detective Longley brought to join the team had been a huge help so far. Their security agency had all sorts of equipment that wouldn't be easily found and used at any police station in the country. The only woman, but a deadly one he added, on the team joked about how turned on he was by just looking at the exclusive and never before seen surveillance gadgets that were developed by the agency's only tech guy. Only one FBI agent was aware of the Seals' involvement because he was a close friend of the two. Gavin said and I quote, "I didn't think that most of their equipment was legal anyway."
And the only thing I could say was, "I thought I'm the only one who could turn you on?" When his face fell, I broke into fits of laughter.
It was disappointing not to have him join us for breakfast again. He could turn an incoming morning Ted tantrum into a fun and laughing affair. Nothing beats witnessing my baby boy laugh out loud while staring at Gavin's teasing smile before I start my day. And then why did I feel relieve? Only two words to explain. Amanda Boyle.
We didn't get a chance to talk last night about it because he was dead tired. He must have been pretty occupied when I sent him a message about the sudden visit of his mother. I only got a text saying, Please be safe and let me know when you're back home. He let me wash him on our quick trip to the shower and when he tried to open his mouth for a conversation, I silenced him with a kiss and a hand job. My personal police officer tried to reciprocate, but I had none of it because he was clearly drained and needed to rest. The second he hit the bed, he was out like a light. If he still had some energy left, he would have insisted for me to tell everything about the meeting with his mother. And Gavin being Gavin, he'd be up on his feet and searching for his phone. The added worry would do no good for him at the moment. I might not know a lot about police work but one thing I knew for certain, they should have their one hundred percent focus on duty. Especially with the case involving Chloe, Amanda's issues were a distraction he couldn't afford to have while working.
So I decided to keep my mouth shut as long as I could and to not bother him with his mother's concern about our relationship. But if he asked, I wouldn't lie and hesitate to tell him everything. Until then, I'd try my best to support him on the side and would always pray for his safety and the team.
Christian arrived later in the evening to pick up Ted for their weekend trip to Aspen. He originally planned to fly out Friday afternoon but decided to make it a day early, which made my son a one happy bouncing baby boy.
"Daddy! I'm wready!" Ted beamed at him, all geared up for the trip.
Christian crouched in front of him and ruffled his son's copper hair. "I see that, son. But are you sure you got everything you need?"
Ted frowned, looked up to me and asked, "Mommy all wready, right?"
I opened my mouth to say yes but Christian beat me to it. "Why don't you make sure you have everything inside? Taylor will help check, okay Teddy?"
Taylor, who'd been observing from the doorway, led my worried son back to his bedroom. Did he deliberately do that?
"Christian, Ted's all set."
He took a step forward and nodded, "I know, Anastasia. I want to talk to you before we leave. Can we take a sit first?"
I heard the familiar tone of my phone, a new message, but there was something in his voice that made me nod at his request. "What's going on, Christian?"
It seemed like he wanted to take a seat beside me on the couch, but caught himself on the last second and settled on the opposite chair. "Taylor and I had been watching the news recently. Normally, I wouldn't bother with whatever's happening outside Seattle. But since you and Ted are here, I wanted to make sure of your safety and security in this city."
Of course he would. I'd be shocked if he said otherwise.
He continued before I could say anything. "I'm a little worried about the news regarding young women being kidnapped these days. I believe it is all connected to human trafficking and Barney made a research for me. After reading all the reports, I consulted with Welch and Taylor," he said carefully and leaned forward.
"What is it?"
"Ana, I–," he ran a hand through his hair, looking unsure if he should continue or not. "I know you aren't going to consent of having a security around you…"
"I won't. I don't need one." Was he trying to make this as an excuse to have me stalked again?
"I know. That's why I want to invite you to join us in Aspen instead," his gray eyes bored into mine with an intensity I knew too well.
"What are you saying?" I asked in disbelief.
"Ana, I'm not comfortable with the idea of leaving you here without anyone." He stood up and knelt in front of me, taking a hold of my hands. "Please, hear me first. I know this sounds crazy, but I don't think I could sleep at night knowing you're here alone and with the threat that someone might abduct you or something."
"Is it that bad? What was on Barney's report?"
He shook his head and calmly said, "Nothing for you to be worried about. I just don't want you to be all by yourself here while we're gone."
"I won't be alone, Christian." I said, shaking my head and trying to pull my hands from his grip.
His head snapped like I had slapped him with that statement. But he was a man on a mission and it didn't discourage him. "That, that cop," he choked out like he couldn't bear to say the name, "he has to work, right? Can he be with you twenty four hours a day?"
Was he really going there?
Before I lost it, I closed my eyes for a bit and took a deep breath. The years had taught me on how to deal with a persuasive Christian Grey. And knowing he didn't have the same power in our relationship, as parents to Ted, dealing with him would be easier this time.
After I released my breath, my body relaxed for a bit which Christian mistakenly took as a submissive sign.
"Baby," he released my hands and was about to cup my face in his when the door opened.
We both turned and saw Gavin, one hand on the door knob and a duffle bag on the other with a confused look on his face. "Ana?"
A/N: Hi! How are you? I apologize that I wasn't able to come back to the site sooner and post this because life is being a major bitch. Before I post the next chapter, I am curious and wanna ask you this... What's your favorite lemon scene so far? Or you can rank them 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc.
Thank you and have a nice weekend everyone! - Ella xx