TW: Emotional and slight physical abuse
Anastasia Steele stared out of the window of the high-rise apartment with a dejected heart. She hadn't left the house since she her night out with Katherine. Christian didn't want her to. He saw no need for her and as long as she was at home she was safe, as far as he was concerned.
Of course, with Christian as her boss' boss' boss, he had also pulled as many strings as he could to get her to 'telecommute' from now on. Ana was now stuck working at home five days a week, no longer able to meet with clients face to face or get involved with office camaraderie with her co-workers. There had been plenty of whispers around the place why Ana was being confined to work from home, especially in the wake of Jack Hyde's sudden departure. Some claimed Ana was having Jack's illegitimate child and was being made to leave under a cloud (Ana praying Christian hadn't heard that one…), while others said Ana had been a spy all along for Grey Enterprises Holdings. She had even heard the one about her supposedly being deported back to Russia like that female spy in the news a couple of years back. She'd never even been there before!
Many, naturally, were glad to see the back of Ana now that she had practically been give Jack Hyde's job on a silver platter, though having a boss who was barely out of college controlling things from afar still managed to sting.
Not that Ana was being fulfilled with work at home any better. She had gone through all the manuscripts she had been entrusted with so far and sent back her notes to a couple of authors awaiting replies and had discussed the latest non-fiction figures with marketing via Skype and had now finished for the day. At 2pm. With nothing else to do and nowhere to go.
Staring at the same bare walls, Ana sat at the kitchen counter with only the buzzing of the fridge to keep her company. Poor Mrs Jones had been fired in the wake of the Hyde scandal, Christian in his paranoid state dismissing employees who he thought may be a security risk for whatever reason, no longer wanting anyone else with Ana while she worked at home. She never even had a chance to say goodbye to her.
Jack Hyde had been captured and was now locked in county prison awaiting trial. She should've been breathing easy. She hadn't even been here when he planned to exact his horrifying plan to kidnap her. Leila was also hundreds of miles away no longer able to touch her or Christian, no long able to bring harm to herself or anyone else. Ana should've been happy. Christian should've been at his most calm. He was easier to deal with when he was calm, when everything was in control and Ana not having to walk on eggshells trying to gauge his mood.
It should've all been easier now.
And Ana thought it was… until Christian had been confronted with a new crisis just a week after Jack Hyde's capture.
He had told her he'd received threatening phone calls and emails from a rival business owner, Ryan Gordon of Gordon Enterprises, another telecommunications and electronics company who had also tried to claim the patent for the satellite cell phone Christian's own company had been trying to manufacture for the past year and a half to market as a cheaper alternative to poorer communities in Africa. Christian said Ryan had tried to take the claim to court, but since the case had been thrown out Ryan had apparently become hell-bent with making Christian pay for supposedly stealing his concept.
Christian never told Ana much about what he did at work, but he had looked so spooked the night he finally told her what had been happening Ana couldn't help but worry.
"Ryan Gordon's trying to scare us, he has forever wanted to topple Grey Enterprises with his ludicrous claims, sniping like a schoolyard bully," he spat, his eyes cast low as Ana's heart was wrenched with the sight of her poor, lost boy. "This time he's gone too far. This petulance within the business world, I can tolerate, but to begin threatening my wife and I is beyond the pale!"
"What did he even say?" Ana asked, feeling her body go numb. "Did he threaten anyone else? Your father? Your mother?"
"No, it was just us… you and me. I can handle the slings and arrows thrown my way, but if any harm should…" Christian swallowed hard, gripping on to the edge of the kitchen counter hard, his anger palpable in the air. "If anyone were to harm you, I'd die a thousand deaths. I wouldn't go on without you. I'd tear this world apart in my fury, to ensure the rest of this world would suffer as I had."
Ana took a cautious step back. Whenever Christian started talking like this, it was usually time for the inner goddess in her to duck for cover. It was going to be a tense night and there was only one way Christian would want to deal with his anger…She took a deep breath.
"What did Ryan actually say to you?"
Christian tried to steel himself as he looked up at Ana before trying to process the pain, squeezing his eyes shut as he clenched his fist.
"He said… he said he would slit my throat if I ever spoke about the satellite cell phone plans again. He'd make sure I'd be six feet under before I ever had it manufactured, that I'd be nothing but a desecrated corpse by the end of it, the authorities won't even be able to identify me! But what he said about you… Well, how can I possibly live if you're no longer in my world, Mrs Grey?"
"But what did he say about me?" Ana asked, chills running up and down her spine.
Christian took a step forward, taking hold of Ana's arm, gripping tightly. Ana tried to pull away, but Christian didn't budge.
"Ana… it doesn't matter what he said, it's just…"
"Christian! I'm your wife! You need to tell me these things if our lives are in danger like this! You can't do this again like you did with Leila and Jack! I have as much right to know as you do."
"Ana, it doesn't matter."
"Christian, fucking tell me now!"
He roughly pulled her forward with both hands, digging his fingers into her arms.
"Don't push me," he spoke through gritted teeth. "Don't start with that smart mouth of yours, watch your language."
Ana could feel her muscles tense in her arms. She couldn't push Christian too far. She had seen what would happen if she did and it wasn't pretty. Chances are he was already nearing the edge right about now… She had to bring him back down again before he could do something about it.
"Christian," she spoke gently. "Please, I just want to help you… You need to tell me these things. You're hurt, you're in pain and I just want to ease it. Please, let me in."
Christian gazed at her with hard, blank eyes. But it seemed Ana's words were getting to him as the grip on her arms finally loosened.
"The things he said were most utterly vile," he spoke softly. "I just didn't want to worry you like that. He practically said that the last image I would live to see was he fucking you, that you would revel under his touch, that he would make you scream and moan like no other man ever has…" He swallowed hard, sick at thought. "That he would wrap his hands around your throat and squeeze as you took his pleasure…"
Ana was utterly repulsed by Ryan's sick fantasies, that he would ever dream of doing such things as her husband lay dying. Ryan Gordon was definitely one sick fucker and the thought of yet another lunatic gaining access into their lives like this and threatening the sweet little life Ana strove for made her sick to her stomach. Just one moment of peace, she wanted.
Ana could feel the tears prick her eyes, letting out a shuddered breath. Thank God security was manning every door of the Escala building, a measure Christian had demanded on after Jack Hyde's capture. You couldn't enter through the front door or any other exit without permission, much to the irritation of other occupants but Christian couldn't care less. Not when Ana's safety was tantamount.
"Come now," Christian said, taking Ana's hand as he pulled her closer, planting a soft kiss upon her lips. "Let's go to bed. I need you to ease my worries."
It was jarring to watch his composure switch from furious to calm as if it were nothing. Ana felt herself go numb once more. She was in no mood for what Christian had in mind, her stomach still quivering at the thought of Ryan Gordon trying to harm him in any way, what sick designs he had on her.
"Christian, I just… How about we just hold one another for a while? C'mon, you've had a tiring day, you're stressed. Why not just have a quiet night?"
Christian's gaze hardened once more, pressing Ana roughly against him as she could feel his erection through his jeans, still thinking otherwise.
"Defying me once again, Mrs Grey?" he said, rather bitterly. "I thought we knocked that out of you the night after Hyde was caught. I thought we had we had discussed this. You want me not to be stressed? Then let me take you to bed."
Ana felt herself shiver. She tried not to think back to that night, how Christian kept denying her release, making her strain against the chains as she tried to fight the pain, her cries reverberating off the walls of the Red Room of Pain. she had pleaded with him to stop until she gave the safeword, he claimed it was all part of his desperate need for control. She had tried to reason with him and tried to understand his controlling tendencies, admonishing herself for not helping him more, to be a little easier on him. He had a hard life, after all, this was meant to be part of his healing process. Above all else, Ana just wanted him to talk to her again, to feel him close against her, to love her, to stop being so cold towards her like he had the night after Jack had been caught and blamed her for disobeying him. It had to be done.
"Christian, I just… I just can't tonight, alright? I'm not exactly in the mood after hearing about yet another person in your life trying to terrorise us and hearing the disgusting things he wants to do to me."
Christian was, of course, displeased. He proceeded to drag her along to the Red Room of Pain, Ana eventually giving in as there was no point in fighting it. Who knows what he planned to do tonight. Maybe this is what he needed. He might be calm. He might be kinder. Maybe he really did need to just de-stress. If it would help ease her poor little lost boy, then she was more than willing to please.
Now Ana found herself here alone in this cold art gallery of a non-home surrounded by white walls closing in on her a little more every day, just a month after the latest threat Ryan Gordon posed. This isn't what she wanted. She had specifically told Christian she didn't want not spend her days at home twiddling her thumbs while she waited for him to be done for the day being Captain of Industry. But, of course, he went ahead and did what he felt was best. He wanted her to trust him, he said, for her world to begin and end with him. Looks like he got his wish after all.
And to think he had her name taken off the security list at SIP, no longer even allowed in the building so she had no excuse to go there anymore. Ana tried to confront him that he was practically keeping her prisoner now, but, naturally, it was all for her own good.
"C'mon, Ana," he told her. "You're the boss, there's no need for you to be there. You have everything you need at the apartment anyway. What do you have at your office that you could possibly need? I could build you your own office, if you like."
"Well, I did have people to talk to, people who wanted to know me…" Until Christian decided to buy the company, that is… That did a pretty good job of ensuring no more after work drinks.
"To gossip with?" Christian snapped back. "Shouldn't you be working anyway, like you wanted? Now you have all the time at home to do that."
And that had swiftly brought an end to the discussion. No matter what Ana had said, it wouldn't have mattered anyway.
Ana had wandered around the apartment at least seven or eight times now. This was nothing like she had in mind for her career in the publishing industry. She was supposed to be attending meetings. She was supposed to be sitting in her own office at her own desk with pictures of her friends and family in front of her and those cute little cat figurines her mom gave her from that market they went to in Texas one weekend. She was meant to be eating lunch in the communal kitchen out back. She was meant to be chatting with Claire at the reception desk.
This wasn't how it was supposed to be.
But every time Ana thought things were working out, some new crisis would come along to disrupt everything: Leila, Jack, Elena and now bloody Ryan Gordon. Just when she thought Christian would begin to ease up and maybe let her out from under his thumb so much, he would revert back to the aloof and paranoid Christian he became when some issue arose, no matter how big or small. Someone else was yet again out to get him and he needed to retain control as soon as possible.
The silence of the apartment was getting to Ana. It was flooding her ears and filling her head with an uncomfortable fog. She had to create some noise in here. Something, anything would do.
Ana quickly headed into the media room where the large flat screen sat, where beautiful black leather recliners faced. She never really got to watch much TV in here, Christian always preferring to sit in the dining room to sit and chat (Well, whenever he did decide to initiate the discussion, usually about some discretion of Ana's that she had so committed or to listen to his ramblings about Jack Hyde and how he would murder him…) Because Christian thought all TV was merely 'drivel,' he wouldn't allow for it to be on while he was around. Ana had recently had so many near-misses during the week trying to stream episodes online of the delightfully trashy Rock of Love before Christian got home. It was one of the shows Kate and her used to watch together, thoroughly discussing in detail why any woman would want to cleave themselves to the utterly repulsive Bret Michaels.
Ana's heart sank and she went over to the sound system and scrolled through her iPod sitting in the dock. She hadn't heard from Kate since the night Jack Hyde broke in. Maybe Christian had told her to back off and stay away from them. She hadn't even called or emailed. In fact, no one had called, not even Mom or Ray. After Christian had organised for Ana to work from home, he had bought Ana a whole new Mac desktop and Samsung Galaxy phone to celebrate, organising for all her files to be transferred and her phone numbers and emails to be put on her new phone. Ana appreciated the thought, but Christian knew she wasn't the greatest with technology. She was still learning how to download apps from the Google Play store. Just making a call on that thing was a miracle.
Ana scrolled through the playlist, finally settling on Nelly Furtado's 'Try' from Christian's special apology playlist after she broke up with him that horrific night she wished to forget. She could still feel the bite of the belt snap against her skin, quickly shaking off the feeling. It was the only song she admittedly liked on the playlist, though, soon growing bored of all the songs Christian put on there, not that she had the heart to tell him and put up with his pouting. Besides, her playlist was Christian's playlist. The iTunes account was in his name and new songs could only be uploaded by him. Ana didn't want to tell him she didn't like most of the songs he liked. It would only end in an argument, just like everything else…
The strange thing was when she paid attention to the lyrics, 'Try' was actually quite a sad song, full of self-defeat and loathing, trying to hold together a relationship long past its use-by date and deluding yourself into thinking everything was sunshine and roses:
Then I see you standing there
Wanting more from me
And all I can do is try
I wish I hadn't seen all of the realness
And all the real people are really not real at all
The more I learn the more I learn
The more I cry the more I cry
As I say goodbye to the way of life I thought I had designed for me
As the song played, her attention then turned to the DVD shelf, flipping through the titles. The Piano, Silence of the Lambs, Citizen Kane, An Inconvenient Truth… Most of the DVDs were Christian's, of course. There really wasn't a lot to choose from after all, Christian's tastes usually being a whole lot drier than Ana's. No comedies, no TV box sets, no musicals, no guilty pleasure movies…
Lucky Ana had put a few of her movies on the shelf, pulling out Becoming Jane and slipping on the DVD as she turned her iPod off. She got settled in as she curled up on the couch, still in her sweat pants and hoodie. There was no need to dress up for work anymore, so she didn't bother trying. What was the point?
She had seen this movie so many times, she had lost count. It was yet another favourite of hers and Kate's, getting to watch one of her favourite authors come to life on screen while ogling the fine beauty that was the incredibly blue-eyed James McAvoy in period garb, making Ana weak at the knees. She had never admitted it to anyone and especially not Christian, but he had definitely always been Ana's ultimate fantasy date.
She breathed a sigh of relief. She could squeeze in a movie before Christian got home at around six or seven. Plenty of time. There was definitely no better way to pass the time than with star-crossed lovers making longing gazes at one another.
But as Ana made it through about 20 minutes of the movie, she suddenly heard someone call out to her as the front door closed. Christian! Crap.
Ana quickly checked the time on her phone: 2:45pm. Why so early? She tried to scramble for the remote to switch off the movie, but by the time she'd found it, Christian had already made it to the media room.
"Ana? Oh, thank God. I thought you were gone…"
He casually strolled over and slumped down on the leather sofa beside her, indulging her with a long, passionate kiss as if it had been a lifetime since he had last seen her."
"So, what is this movie?" Christian drawled, finally coming up for air as he looked at the flatscreen. "One of those poncy BBC productions, no doubt. I don't think this is one of my films."
"It's Becoming Jane," Ana replied, with a sigh. Great, just when she had the whole house to herself, Christian had to disrupt the brief moment of serenity she had, no doubt filling it with probing questions as he would want to be notified of every move she made.
"Hmm. I'll stay and watch, then. Be closer to you, wife," Christian whispered, planting a kiss upon Ana's cheek as she tried to strain a smile. Great. Just great.
"But shouldn't you be working, Mrs Grey?" Christian enquired, deciding to talk right through the movie like Ana feared. "I pulled a lot of strings to get you this and you were the one who wanted to keep working, after all."
"I've done everything for the day," she told him. "I'll be sent another few manuscripts tomorrow and I'm waiting on emails from a couple of authors." She shrugged. "That's all I've got for now."
"Well, you wouldn't have to worry about all this if you had just given up work," Christian murmured. "I don't see the point when you get to live like a queen, when I provide all you could ever dream of…"
Ana huffed under her breath. She really didn't want to go through this argument again.
"Some of us like to be kept busy," she replied. "Not all of us want to wander aimlessly at home waiting for someone to arrive."
"Doesn't sound too bad to me, Mrs Grey. Do you dislike waiting for me to arrive home to greet you with a prowess no other man could possibly satisfy you with?"
"Not at all, Mr Grey," said Ana, though she fought the urge to roll her eyes.
Her eyes stayed fixed to the movie, one of her favourite scenes coming up. She began to blush as she watched Tom jumping into the river naked as Jane spied from behind the bushes before leaving, Ana giggling at the obvious.
It was a harmless reaction, but Christian's demeanour suddenly changed, growing stiff as he turned from the TV then to Ana. Ana could feel the atmosphere change. Uh oh. She kept her gaze directly on the movie, trying not to notice Christian.
"Does his naked form amuse you, Mrs Grey? "
"Well… yes. It's a good bit, so don't interrupt."
"Do you like this actor, Ana? You seem to be rather captivated by him. Has he done so before?"
"What are you talking about, Christian?"
"Just an observation, Mrs Grey. Who is he? Have you seen him before? You know I can read your body language well, better than you can. I know he flatters you, Ana. Don't think I don't know how your breasts heave and cheeks flush…"
"Christian, be quiet!" Ana scolded.
"Who is he, Ana? Tell me."
"I don't know!" she lied. "Now please stop talking through the movie!"
He still wouldn't let up.
"Are you lying to me, Mrs Grey? You know how helpless you make me feel when you put me in a quandary like this."
"Christian, please just pay attention to the movie."
He ended up grabbing her face, making Ana look him in the eye.
"Ana, I can't have you lusting after another man like this," he spoke through gritted teeth. "Do you fantasise about him? How he can take you to bed? How he can fuck you…"
Ana just stared at Christian wide-eyed, pulling herself away from him as she managed to free herself from his hands.
"What? Christian, are you mad? It's just a guy in a movie! I don't know him, he doesn't know me. So what if I think he's cute? It doesn't mean I'm gonna suddenly run away with him! For someone that's supposed to run a multi-million dollar empire, you sure can be dense! Don't you have any crushes?"
"How can you accuse me of such a thing?!" Christian spat, still pouting. "You wound me with your suggestion, Mrs Grey, if you still are Mrs Grey, that is. I lust after no one. You are mine. You are all I need. My obsession for you knows no bounds. No other woman could ever measure."
Ana merely scoffed.
"C'mon, Christian! Even when you were younger, you didn't have any posters on your wall of some Sports Illustrated models or Britney Spears or someone?'
"No. My lust for other women has long ceased since I claimed you, Mrs Grey. And I don't want you doing the same with some other fucker on screen in front of me," he snarled. "Or with anyone, for that matter."
Ana let out a long, deep sigh. He was really testing her patience now.
"Christian, these kinds of crushes are meaningless. It's never gonna happen in a million years, you can't go around being jealous of every guy who's so much as within the same vicinity as me! What are you gonna do, put a hessian sack over my head when we go out so no other guy looks at me?"
"Frankly, Mrs Grey, I would if I could," Christian replied. "It would give me so much pleasure to see you in such a state, as helpless as I am right now…"
Ana groaned, putting her head in her hands.
"Christian, you can't do this! I'm not going to up and run away with some other guy! So what if I happen to have a crush on some actor I'll never meet who's probably married anyway? I love you. You are the one who I'm with! So I can't have a past where I happened to dare look at another man?"
"Yes, Ana. I don't want you to have a past. Or a future with anyone else."
"But you had a past, Christian. You had subs and other lovers and Mrs Robinson before me. How come you get to have a past and have fucked half of Seattle and I can't even have an innocent crush on someone famous?"
Christian then snapped. Ana herself didn't even see it coming. He roughly pulled Ana into his lap, clasping her wrists as tightly as possible as she struggled to pull herself free.
"I don't want to think of any other man with you," he continued, enjoying watching her squirm. "I don't want to think of the actor kissing you so passionately while I take you in the playroom. I don't want to think of how you made out with your science lab partner in 10th Grade while I bury myself in you in our marital bed. I don't want to think of every man who passes you on the street wanting in your panties as I make you scream as I grab that delectable derriere of yours. That is for me and me only."
His hand then moved to her throwing, beginning to squeeze.
"You are mine. You have my name now. You are branded. Forsaking all others, remember, my dear? Respect your vow to me. Frankly, I am glad you work at home while Ryan Gordon runs loose. You stay where I know you are. You are out of sight and I don't let what is mine out of my sight. No other man can reach you here…"
He then got up and swung Ana over his shoulder, casually walking out of the media room before she could comprehend what was happening.
"Christian! Christian, put me down! What are you doing?!"
"Retribution, Mrs Grey," he replied rather breezily, though there was still an edge to his voice. "I'll show you things even the actor has probably never thought to do. I'll make you so sore, you won't even remember his face."
As Ana tried to struggle out of Christian's hold, he swatted her on the arse, flinching as she felt the sting. The last thing she saw before being dragged out of the media room was the scene where Jane overhears her father arguing with her mother that Jane not marry herself off to the man who bid the highest price.
('Try' lyrics courtesy of Lets Sing It)