A/N: Hello! Hello! Hello! I know it's been forever and a day. Sorry for the delay in updating but let me explain. Back in February my son came barreling into the world a little earlier than planned. He spent the 1st 3 weeks of his life in the NICU. It was very tense & emotionally time, so as much as I love A & C, they had to go on the back burner. Once he got home, it's just been constant learning and adjusting and dear God I AM EXHAUSTED. I promise not to give up and see it through the end. Thanks for the emails and new followers. Sorry for any typos. I can only review so many times before my eyes started to cross.
To review…Ana knows about Christian. He told her while they were away for the weekend. They were interrupted when Ana was notified there was a fire at St. Mark's so they rush back to Portland. This restarts in Taylor's POV on the same day A & C return.
"T, are you and Grey on your way back to Seattle?" Welch asks as I make my way back to the front of Ana's house. I've checked everything twice. This fire thing is just too close for comfort and has put me on edge. "I don't think so. He's still at the hospital with Miss. Steele while she's visiting with Miss. Parker. I'll debrief him and most likely he'll want to stay here. If he stays, I'll be at the Heathman."
"What about Ryan? Why isn't he covering Grey?"
"He will be here later but I need to be close."
"Sounds like a plan. I got our contact here in the Seattle Police Department to make some calls to the Portland fire and Rescue and until the final investigation from the fire department, they're calling it an accident but internally they're looking at it as arson. Apparently, police have been canvassing the neighborhood and a woman claims she saw someone behind the church. I have her information if you wanted to pay her a visit."
Of course I want to visit. She might hold the key to what really happened. "Text me. I'm going right over there." I hang up and make one more call. The voice on the other end turns my insides into goo. It has since the first day I laid eyes on her.
"There you are…hi baby…I was starting to worry." I can't stop the smile that spreads across my face.
"How is the most beautiful woman in the universe?"
"Oh Jason…most beautiful in the universe you say? That kind of pillow talk means you're staying in Portland again." She sounds unhappy. Damn, I was hoping she'd play along.
"I have to Gail. I need to get a better handle on fire and with Christian. He told her you know."
"Wait! What? She knows? Are they still together? Please I hope she didn't leave him…she can't leave him. He'll be crushed. You said you thought they were in love. Does that mean he's bringing her to Seattle? When? Oh my…I have to get the penthouse ready. I want her to feel as comfortable as possible. What's her favorite food? Favorite drink? Tell me Jason!"
"Woah! Slow down cupid. I don't know any of that. I know she knows, that she came back with him and he's still with her at the hospital. Don't go making a fuss."
"A fuss? He's finally found someone to make him happy and he's in love. Of course I'm going to make it a fuss."
"I said I think they're in love. It's only my opinion. You know he doesn't like to show off too much. Besides, I call you woman so I can get some love and tenderness but you're worried about Grey. Jeez. Am I chopped liver?"
"My poor Jason needs some love too. Take care of Mr. Grey and his love, come back to me safe and I will love you till the cows come home."
This building is so old. I'm sure it was one of the first built in the area. It's nothing like the others and it's being held together by the grace of God. The paint is peeling; the tile floor in the hallway is scuffed to hell; that's what's left since most of the tiles are missing. The worst part is somebody is cooking cabbage. Phew, that stinks. I make my way up to the third floor. This better be the correct address or else my foot will be square in Welch's ass.
As I reach the landing I can feel the walls move from the wind and give a silent prayer that this building doesn't cave in with me in it. Apartment 3B is at the end of the hall. I know three times before the door finally flies open. "What do you want?" An elderly, gray haired woman, no more than five feet tall barks at me. Ok, time to work some magic. "Hello ma'am. I'm with the Portland police department. I'd like to talk to you about the fire over at St. Mark's. I'd like to know what you saw."
"Oh come on, but I already told the other officer. You should call him because he wrote everything down. Why do I have to say everything again? My shows are about to come on."
"Yes ma'am I'm aware but I'd like to hear it from you directly."
"Come on in then. The Wheel starts in 15 minutes. That's all I can give you unless you stay and watch. I love Pat Sajack. He is a dream. " She shuffles me into to the living room in her ruffled apron. This is a definitely a house of an old lady. All the prerequisites are here, plastic on the sofa, lace doilies on almost every surface, two fat cats sitting on the window sill and that stuffiness that only happens from not opening the windows on a regular basis. I hope this goes quickly. She's left me in the living room then returns with a tray with a tea pot and cookies. "I was making a small snack. You can have some with me."
"Thank you ma'am but I'd really like to speak about the fire."
"You should learn to relax." She scolds. "But, oh dear, that was so horrible. That poor girl; I heard that she's going to be fine but I can't imagine being caught in a fire. Such a horrible way to die…not that dying is good no matter how it happens."
"How do you know about the girl?"
"I saw her when I was looking out the window. I like to keep an eye out on the neighborhood. I've been here for more than 30 years. I won't let those hoodlums take over. My friend Edith was at the church and filled me in on the specific details afterwards."
"You saw when the fire started?" My heart quickens. Hopefully she can point me in the right direction.
"No. I smelled the smoke. I hope she'll be alright. I called 911 as soon as I saw the flames but that coward ran away. He should have been a man and helped out. Young people today have no moral compass. That's the truth because my grandson is a complete jackass." I couldn't stop my body from reacting. I tensed. There was someone else.
"Ma'am what coward? Did you see someone outside?"
"He was sitting at the tables they keep out back for smoking a cigarette. Ugh…such a nasty habit. My second husband smoked and I always wanted to slap him when he lit up but he turned out to be a complete jackass so the smoking wasn't a big deal." She shakes her head and lightly giggles. "Maybe that's why my grandson is a jackass…it runs in the family. Yes, he was out there. I went into the kitchen to feed Charles and Diana." She points to fat cat one and two. "That's when I smelled smoke and when I got back to the window he was hurrying away. I saw the flames out the back door."
"Ma'am what did he look like? Could you identify him again?"
"Not really. These 'ol eyes see better up close than far away. He was White, dark hair and tall but almost everyone is taller than me. My grandson, not the jackass but my youngest says I'm hobbit sized; whatever a hobbit is. That's all I know. There are a lot of people that go in and out of that building."
"Did you see him start the fire?" I press.
"Again, no. He was just sitting there, smoking and staring. Kinda creepy in my opinion… if my opinion mattered."
A million thoughts race through my brain. There was someone there. Was he one of the usual church goers? I'm sure there's a traffic camera close by that could be more helpful. "Thank you very much ma'am. I appreciate all your help." I stand to leave, grab a cookie and head towards the door. "Young man?" She calls out and I turn to face her. "I don't know if that other fella was involved but you shouldn't take the law into your own hands." Her statement confuses me. "Oh dear…I'm old not stupid and have been around the block a few times. My third husband, God rest his soul, used to run with the O'Reilly crew in Chicago. He was an enforcer. God I miss him so I know a cop when I see one. You're no closer to being a cop than I am to being a super model. Ha!" She steps closer. "On second thought, that advice is wasted because I can just tell that you're gonna rip that guy a new butthole if he had something to do with what happened to that lovely girl. She always waves to me. Take another cookie before you leave. I bake a damn good cookie."
"Christian, I said I was staying. I'll be out here until Ryan arrives." "I told you what I found out. This is all very suspicious and this could lead back to you." He and I have been going back and forth for the past fifteen minutes since they arrived and I want to punch him square in the face. He never listens. Seriously, what's the point of having me as his head of security if he's going to blow me off whenever he feels like it?
"It's Mr. Grey. I pay you and you are going home. Besides, shouldn't you use this time to be Gail? I'm sure she misses you."
"It doesn't matter what I call you and I'm well aware of who signs the checks. You pay me to do a job. Let me do it damn it! I'll be in the car until Ryan gets here. Then I'll be at the Heathman until you're ready to leave and we'll go back to Seattle TOGETHER." I'm trying my hardest to keep calm and not blow up at him. I hate when he takes unnecessary chances. I decide to use Ana to make him see my point is valid. "Being here, Ana is protected as well." He squares his shoulders, his fists tightening into a ball and I watch his eyes darker. Bingo, that's the key.
"Nothing with happen to her, I promise you that. I'm here and will kill anyone that comes near her. She's still on edge about finding out about who I truly am. I don't want her to see you and freak out even more."
He is being such a pain in the ass. The Ana angle isn't working the way I want it to...back down Grey I have one last card to play. I look him square in the eye. "I don't want anything to happen to her either. I'm the best as what I do; you know that. No harm will come to either of you…I promise." Now to play the ace card, I leaning in. "Besides, if you don't let up, listen to me and let me do my job; I'll call Dr. Grey."