Disclaimer: I own nothing...
A/N: Not sure if this is the penultimate chapter or not. I don't want to drag out updates like I have with this one anymore and I could make a new Fifty Shades Abandoned and keep it going forever and a day! I don't want this story to draw on too long, so watch this space.
However, my apologises for taking forever with updating this and I hope you endure a much lighter, loving chapter!
Thank you for the continual support and constant love.
Mistakes are mine! I wanted to get you a chapter before I head off to work!
Beauty and the Beast – Chapter Forty-Three
"You should be resting," Ana spoke up as she came into Christian's room.
"I can now," Christian smirked at her. "Taylor just contacted me. They threw out Kaitlyn's insanity plea. It didn't hold together and she's going down for four counts of attempted murder." He watched as Ana tried to process that.
When she had woken up that morning, she knew there was a change in the air. She just didn't expect it to take nearly a week to find some movement in Kaitlyn's plea. She had lived with the nightmares, the aftermaths and the healing process. Now she finally saw the real recovery about to start happening.
"Baby?" Christian called out after Ana stood silent before him. "Ana, it's over." The statement was hit with strong convictions. A simple three letter sentence held so much power and he saw how the weight of the world diminished from her shoulders. "It's really over."
"Promise?" she asked him, timidly. She wanted to believe it, but having had Christian's near death haunt her nightly, she didn't want to have false hope.
"Baby, she's going down for a long time. She premeditated everything; it's not looking good for her at all. She tried to plea insanity, but no one fell for it," Christian reiterated everything at her, hoping the second time around Ana might well believe it. "It's time we rebuild our lives without her hanging a threat over us. It's time to restart this life." He put his hand to her as he finished. "Come here," he ordered her gently. "Please."
Listening, Ana moved forward, taking to Christian's side immediately. She was in shock. The darkness was finally lifting now she knew exactly what was happening with Kaitlyn. She couldn't help but agree with Christian either. They were able to officially start over.
"It's really over?" Ana asked meekly, the disbelief dripping away in tiny shards.
"It's really over," Christian agreed, admonishing any other negative claim she could think of. "Now it's time for me to really prove it."
"With what?" she asked, her brow furrowing together. "How?"
Christian, with gritted teeth, pushed himself up the bed, not answering her directly. He reached over to the cabinet beside him and opened the drawer. He didn't care about the pain lancing through his shoulder, this moment was going to happen regardless. He pulled out a red velvet box and a smile lapsed onto his lips with ease. Turning back he knew from Ana's shocked face, her eyes filled with tears that she knew what was going to happen.
"I have had my eye on this ring since our first month anniversary," he began to say as he opened the box. He was keeping this light and teasing. He wanted this moment to be heartfelt and intimate, and he wanted nothing more than to start this life officially. "I wanted nothing more than to buy it and ask you to marry me, but I refused. I wanted our relationship to be perfect and I wanted to do it right. I wanted to show you that I could love even when I doubted that myself. You made me fight for a heart and you made me fight for you. Even after the attack I didn't even for one moment think about how I'd love you. I admit I struggled with how I would be affected, but I didn't care. Once I got to see you I realised that nothing changed. Nothing would ever change just how much I truly love you. No one can take that away from me."
Ana closed her eyes the moment he reached up to cup the side of his face. The feel of his touch only added to the honesty of the moment. It told her how true his words were, it added even more to the sincerity of it all.
Christian refused to break the moment or hesitate. "Scars mean nothing me, Ana. They don't change how I view you. Well they do," he said and Ana's eyes sprung open again. He knew she panicked at that simple change in his summation of his love. "They make me love you far more than ever before. They make me realise that I am in love with a strong woman who is full of this inner confidence and power to overcome whatever life happens to throw at her. I am in love with a woman that came back from hell and still loves me." He watched her gaze at him with intent. "I will never do anything to jeopardise losing you and losing my life in one swift hit."
"Christian," Ana broke into his speech gently. "You don't need to tell me how much you love me for me to say yes," Ana whispered to him, her voice low and slick with emotions. "I've said yes okay."
"I know," he stopped her quickly. "I know you made me ask you, but this time, I want to do this part right too. You cannot hate a guy for trying to do right by the woman that made him fall crazy in love," Christian told her, his eyes watching her intently. He refused to look elsewhere than at the woman he loved. "Anastasia Steele, will you do me the honour of marrying me and making me the happiest man to walk this earth?"
"Yes," Ana barked out in a chaste whisper, her tears falling as if this were a shock to her. "Of course I will," she said as she leaned in to kiss him. Her hands came to the side of his face and she allowed her second approval of his proposal unfold around them. Pulling away, she pressed her forehead to his head as she looked him in the eyes. "I will make you the happiest man for the rest of our lives, Christian. I love you so much."
"I love you too," Christian murmured back, pulling away so he could open the box, take the ring and put it in its rightful place at long last. "Perfect," he whispered as the diamonds of the ring glistened. He looked away from the ring, and to the woman before him. "God, I never thought I would need you to survive, Anastasia, but Christ, you are the only lifeline I need."
Ana laughed, the sound caught up in tears. "Don't use me to solely survive, Mister. You need breathing and food as well."
"True," he chuckled at her. "But you're a close first with those." He gave her a coy smile. "I wouldn't have the life I do if it wasn't for you. You saved me on so many levels, Ana. You've kept me on top of the world for so long."
"I've also kept you in bed when we both should have been working," she joked and giggled as he laughed. "I bring out the skiver in you, Mr. Grey."
"Ahh, but I will admit any day spent in bed with you is well worth the backlash of responsible," Christian continued with the light hearted chat. "Now I have a reason to have more lazy days. After all, why would I let my future wife escape to go do the mundane part of human life?"
"Well that's a good point," Ana giggled, allowing her mind to conjure a time in her life where she could spend her days in bed with Christian and just allow life to be that simple. "You okay?" she asked as she noticed how exhausted he was looking suddenly.
Christian merely nodded. "Lay with me," Christian suddenly changed the moment. He still found himself tiring quickly and he knew it was being stuck in the hospital. It was draining the life from him and he hated it. He wanted to be back home, starting this new life with Ana.
Ana said nothing, but listened to him. Lying down with him, she snuggled into his side, her hand running across his stomach as she hugged him back. She closed her eyes, wishing to open them and be home, but she knew some wishes wouldn't happen quite so quickly. Willing herself to open her eyes, she didn't actually care for the room they were in. Nothing mattered more than being with Christian. Smiling gently, she retracted her arm, putting her hand in the air. Looking at the ring on her finger, she no longer felt like part of a tormented reality. Christian was right when he called it perfect. This ring was everything and more she could have imagined in an engagement ring.
"Are you falling in love with that more than me?" Christian asked, killing the silence that had filtered into the room. "You've been staring at that for a while now," he teased her, having joined her as she watched the ring intently for a few minutes.
Ana quickly twisted to look up at him, her face knitted with heavy confusion. "Really?"
He nodded and laughed. "I didn't think you'd be so captured by a ring."
"I'm not," she laughed off. "Well I am." She looked down at the ring and fell into another wistful smile. "It's just made it real. That's all." She brought her hand back up, staring at the enormous diamond that sat surrounded by smaller ones. She had never imagined a ring of this magnitude, but she should have expected it. He never did simple and he would never give her something that would be missed.
Christian Grey made statements everywhere he went. Staking a claim to her as his was not unexplainable. It was warranted and he would make sure that everyone knew she was loved and cared for regardless. Christian would never let anyone think any less than the absolute truth. She was loved, wanted and adored.
And now she was taken - officially.
"I had to make it real," Christian stated firmly. "The moment I had proposed I knew I had to get you a ring, but I pondered what to get you. Then I remembered this one." He took her hand in his, palm touching palm so he could hold her ring up to the light. "It was everything I wanted it to be - eye-catching, beguiling, feminine, beautiful, you."
"Even now?" Ana asked, ashamed to be bringing a vicious cycle upon them.
Christian just pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "Even more so now," he replied, not sure how her insecurities bristled him. He wanted nothing more than for her to see how beautiful she truly was, but he knew that mountain was a long and treacherous journey. Yet, he knew he would sit through it all and make sure she only knew nothing but the truth every day of her life.
"Thank you," Ana rasped out around the lump of emotion forming in her throat. "Thank you for loving me."
"I will do it every day, Ana," Christian told her back, closing his eyes as his exhaustion magnified. "Hell, I will love you more every day."
There was no word to reply to that, Ana knew only to dream of her future now. She just took in a deep inhale and curled up more. She wanted nothing more than to get Christian home and celebrate. However, his health meant more to her. Even though it had been a few days since the attack, he was still suffering - much like she still was. Kaitlyn had set out to leave a mark and she had done so across the board.
Sawyer and Taylor were recovering; with Taylor already back to his duties, slowly forgetting about himself in the process. Ana was healing more every day, the scars still highlighting against her pale features and Christian had been begging to go back to work literally the day after he came around from the anaesthesia. It had taken all of Ana's remaining strength to make him rest properly.
Hearing a knock at the door and it consequently opening, Ana cracked her eyes open and watched as Christian's mom appeared in the crack between the door and the doorframe. She smiled, and nudged Christian, not realising he had fallen asleep quite so quietly. Moving, begrudgingly, away from Christian's side, Ana sat up and applied attention to why Grace looked so happy.
Waiting for Christian to wake up a little, she began to relay the news she just heard. "I've just been speaking with your doctor," Grace chirped as she walked into the room, a massive smile released upon her face. "Seems someone is getting discharged later today."
"Really?" Christian asked, not wanting to believe it.
"Really," Grace replied with a simple head nod. "Apparently there are no complications and keeping you any longer is futile. You're fit and ready to be released. You'll be sleeping in your own bed later tonight."
Christian felt like he was being given a miracle. Finally going home was something he had started pining for and now he was mere hours away from being granted freedom. He could have Ana next to him and not have to worry about nurses and doctors needing to check him over. He wouldn't have regimented meals or have to adapt to the sterile smell and placid walls. He'd have comfort and free reign and Ana all to himself.
"Is Ana's apartment ready for us to go back to?" Christian asked, trying to think of a game plan of where they would be going the moment he had his discharge papers in his hand.
"We aren't going to my apartment," Ana told him, fiercely enough to warrant a big reaction. She was adamant about staying away from that apartment.
"Where will we go?" Christian asked, the lines on his forehead increasing as he pondered where they would go. After all, he knew that Ana had avoided Escala since the night of Kaitlyn's first ploy of revenge, and since the other night, Ana had been staying with his parents.
"Escala," Ana told him quickly. There was so hesitation of thoughts or squabbles of what would happen. She was adamant what was going to happen. "We're moving back into Escala for good."
"No," Christian shook his head. He knew Ana and Kate's apartment would be off limits now. Since the incident neither Kate or Ana felt safe there. "We're going to find a new home for us to live in. It's time we found us our own home."
"What about Escala?" Ana questioned him, wondering what his motives would be.
"What about it?" he asked her rhetorically. "It's not our home, Ana. I want a place that is made by us both. After all, when we're married we'll only need one home. What better way than to start now."
"I like the sound of that," Ana whispered, her mind racing over how perfect everything was turning out to be. "Life just keeps getting better," Ana spoke with a beaming smile. Everything felt like it was falling back together.
Just like Christian had promised.