I've included this link; not because you have to listen to it but in case you were wondering where the title came from. All of Me watch?v=2gfhQ91rwZ8
It's been almost a year since I, Anastasia Rose Steele, started working in Grey Enterprise Holdings. I can scarcely comprehend where the time has gone. A few weeks from now I should have been graduating but then little over a year ago Clayton's went out of business and my already weak financial position got a whole lot tougher. Kate, my roommate and best friend, tried to ease the burden on me; reducing my rent and doing all the shopping but there came a point when I just had to accept it wouldn't be possible. So I took what I affectionately refer to as an academic break.
My mother and step father were none too pleased but neither is really in a position to help, although they both offered. The only thing that stopped Ray remortgaging his house is that I promised this would be temporary and that I'd return to UW when I had the funds. One of my major regrets is that I won't get to graduate alongside Kate but this sacrifice at least means graduation is still a possibility.
Kate's father organised for me to get this graduate post at GEH. Clearly I'm not actually a graduate so when I met with the HR person for the first time I mentioned it. I felt it was better to be upfront than to be caught out later. Kelly from HR smiled a tight smile and said, "Yes Ms Steele, we are aware of that but Mr Grey himself has approved you taking this position despite your academic weaknesses". Gee thanks! Way to boost a girl's confidence.
Now 11 months later I've accepted that getting on my feet financially may take a bit longer than I anticipated. When I moved to Seattle I was downbeat but desperate to start work and improve my prospects. I found an apartment to share and a new friend in Ryan my roommate. When I first moved here he helped me get settled and become familiar with our area. I'd be lost without him.
Unfortunately in a couple of weeks I might be a bit lost since he and his partner Sam plan on getting married. They've been planning their union since before the legislative session passed the bill allowing same sex marriage and I couldn't be happier for them. Both Sam and Ryan are adamant that I shouldn't move out but when Sam moves in I think three could be a crowd. My only concern is finding a new apartment and someone to share with. If I have to take on the rent alone then that will set my college plans back even further.
On Monday morning I make my way to the office. Somehow I've gotten used to this imposing structure in my daily life. Later this week Kate is coming to interview Mr Grey for the student paper and after we plan to grab a lunch. I can't wait to meet her and catch up on news of UW and Jose.
I work on the tenth floor of the building, alongside others in a similar graduate role, although to their credit the rest have actually graduated. Early on I made the mistake of mentioning being slightly under qualified for the post and a few didn't take it as well as expected. However, I think I've proven my ability in the last year and know I work just as hard as any of them. All the same I don't mind taking on the little annoying jobs that everyone else avoids. Sometimes staying a little later or whatever it takes.
On Thursday I arrange to meet Kate in the lobby following her interview with Mr Grey. When I see her she screams and despite the fact it's only been a couple of weeks I hold on to her for dear life. I love her, who wouldn't? Then when she recounts the story I hear that Mr Grey wasn't quite so keen.
"Ana, he was furious" she giggles. Only Kate could laugh off the fury of the CEO of a multinational company so easily. I've seen Christian Grey a few times and I don't think I could bear his displeasure with such good humour. "Then when I ask him if he was gay, I thought he might have a stroke right there." Kate continues. I suck in a sharp breath, wondering if being seen with Kate is wise or something that might get me fired. "You asked him if he was gay!" I say with all the shock I feel. She takes a bite of her sandwich, nodding furiously. "All in the name of a good story Steele and to his credit Grey maintained his good manners despite his obvious anger" she responds. God I miss her!
When I get back to my desk I smile thinking about Kate staring down a furious Christian Grey. I think he could have finally met his match; I wouldn't mess with Kate, I really wouldn't. The next hour or so passes relatively quickly. I've been saving my favourite task, one of those that I've taken on because the others don't enjoy it, and I finally decide that I've waited long enough. I take everything that is waiting and head to the subterranean file room. In truth most of GEH work is stored online and the hardcopies of most of the paperwork is stored at an offsite facility but this old room is used for ongoing matters. It allows easy access to documents related to ongoing business.
I realise to most people the idea of filing in a basement doesn't fill them with any great joy but the first time I came down here I accidently discovered that this room has the greatest acoustics of anywhere since my childhood bathroom. I would describe my singing talents as modest but down here I could give anyone a run for their money. Growing up I remember Ray playing all the old standards and his love of Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, to name a few of his favourites, has never left me. So today I launch into a few of my favourites as I get to work. This shouldn't take long, maybe three or four songs if I work efficiently.
I'm nearing the end of The Lady is a Tramp, and obviously building to the finally so I don't hear the elevator as it pings. In my head I'm channelling Frank at The Sands though I know that track isn't on the album. "Hates California, it's cold and it's damp. That's why the lady, that is why the lady, that's why the lady is a tramp". And instead of the imaginary applause that usually deafens me at the end of my set I'm greeted with the solitary sound of one individual clapping.
At first I can't even turn around. I am beyond mortified. In fact right now I'd take mortified and be grateful as I feel such acute embarrassment. I want to run from this building and never return but of course there is no way out of this so I aim for casual as I turn around. I consider a bow but I just can't fake the blase attitude Kate managed earlier. In front of me is an older gentleman who I have never seen before. He is smiling at me and there is a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. "Hi" is the best I can manage in this flustered mode. "Well, I adored your song choice young lady" he says. "Thanks", I mumble in return.
I walk towards where he is standing, wondering why he is in the basement in the first place. He looks around the room and laughs, "Well, I was headed outside for some air but in my haste to get away I seem to have taken a wrong turn".
I smile in return, "I can direct you back to where you were or where you would like to go" I offer.
"Well, truth be told I'm not sure if I want to return to Mr Grey yet. I'm afraid his bad temper is rubbing off on me and I'm half determined to sink my heels in and discontinue our business. Forgive me young lady, I am Mr Aster." He says as he takes my hand.
As I shake his in return I warily remember what Kate said about Christian Grey, hoping this bad mood isn't solely as a result of Kate's inappropriate questioning. I decide to air on the side of loyalty, maybe putting a good word in will compensate for the damage Kate may have inflicted. "Mr Aster, I'm Anastasia Steele. If you'll allow me I'll show you the way back" I say.
"Thank you Ms Steele, I would be grateful for that. And what is it you do at the great Grey Enterprise Holdings?" he asks, obviously not so keen to make a quick return to the meeting he's been part of. I can't think of any reason not to engage him in conversation so I tell him about my job here, gently emphasising the philanthropic kindness Mr Grey demonstrated when he took me on, and hoping that this will in some way compensate for his sour mood. We begin to talk about music; it appears we have very similar tastes, as we make our way to the elevator. Once inside Mr Aster presses the button and we head to the top floor of GEH. I decide to ride along with him, before returning to my desk, after all I'm enjoying our conversation.
As the elevator opens I turn to Mr Aster, "Thank you so much for the chat. If you're still in town after today you should try to catch another of my performances" I say; the initial embarrassment finally fading. He guides me out of the elevator by my elbow, laughing at my joke. "I wouldn't miss it Ms Steele." He responds. During this time I don't notice the suits in reception; a few of whom stand and make their way to us immediately.
Then Christian Grey appears parting the gathered crowd like the Red Sea. "Well, Grey it seems your employees are more concerned about your business than you are. Shall we start behaving like business men and get this thing sown up?" Christian Grey still looks every bit as murderous as Kate described him. Thank goodness I don't need to attend that meeting. As I turn to leave Christian Grey takes a step towards me. He is startlingly handsome and incredibly intimidating. I try to look him in the eye as he leans in, Kate will be proud. "Wait here" he whispers furiously. What have I done?
Well I can't just wait on that spot until the meeting is finished, although I half think that is exactly what Christian Grey had in mind. So I take a seat near the reception desk and wait. Maybe his bad mood will soften before he gets around to seeing me.