Living a Double Life
When I was growing up in Montesano with my Dad, Raymond Steele, all I ever wanted was to leave this town for the bright lights of any big city. I love my Dad, I do, but I wanted adventure, romance, and excitement. Those three things could not be found in my hometown so when I was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Washington in Seattle I was the happiest girl in the world. I loaded down my old pickup with all my belongings and drove off to my future. The next four years was spent studying, taking tests, hanging with my friends and working at Clayton's, a high-end fashion store that catered to the richest and bitchiest women in Seattle.
After I graduated, I moved out on my own. It was bittersweet to leave my best friend in the world, Kate Kavanagh but it was time for me to live on my own. I moved into an apartment complex called The Pike that is very close to the Pike Place Market. With my inheritance from my maternal grandparents, I was able to afford a two-bedroom apartment and a new used car. I live on the top floor with a beautiful view of the historic market. I obtained employment at a small publishing house called Pike Place Publishing or 3P as we employees like to call it. I was offered the assistant editor position and worked with Jaysie Hendrix who is the chief editor. She is a wonderfully colorful lady in her mid forties who likes to say darling a lot.
I worked at 3P for a short time when Grey Enterprises Holdings bought it. Every employee was worried that some of us might be unemployed, but luckily, only two people were let go and Jaysie took early retirement. I went on doing my job to the best of my abilities and was more than excited when one of the books that I worked on went to the top of the Best Sellers List.
I never met the elusive new owner of 3P but I knew of him, but then again anyone who lived in the state of Washington knew who Christian Grey was. He was one of the youngest self-made billionaires in the United States. He is extremely private and the consensus was that our new boss was gay. Oh, how wrong that consensus was. I found out first hand that Christian Grey was not gay and there was a damn good reason why he protected his privacy. This is my story of how I met, fell in love with and got my heart broken by the most beautiful man that the Good Lord ever made and it damn near killed me in body, spirit and mind.
My name is Anastasia Rose Steele but I prefer to be addressed as Ana. I was twenty-one years old when I graduated from the university and turned twenty-two in September of 2011. In November of 2011 Grey Enterprises Holdings bought out the company that I worked for and a month later I finally met the owner. I remember that day and know that it will live in my memory for the rest of my life. I just finished signing a new author and was more than proud of myself. I was delivering the signed contracts to legal when a very large man stepped out of an office in a rage and ran me over. I landed on my bottom with a thud and heard myself cry out in pain. I looked up to see the most beautiful grey eyes staring down at me. Before I knew it, two large hands encircled around my waist and pulled me to my feet.
"Are you alright, Miss…uh…"
"Steele." I said softly as I rubbed my sore behind. "My name is Ana Steele."
He looked me over not just once but twice. His eyes trailed over my body and I felt exposed to him. He only nodded at me and those eyes once again raced over my form. "I do apologize for steamrolling over you, Miss Steele."
"No worse for the wear, Mr. Grey." I replied with a forced smile. This man is my boss and I couldn't very well start yelling at him for being a raging bull with that temper of his. It is public knowledge that Christian Grey's demeanor left something to be desired. He is mercurial, difficult, and stubborn. The stories told around the water cooler made my blood turn cold. He was heartless in business and expected only the best from his employees. "If you will excuse me, Sir."
He gave me a smirk as I started to walk away. I turned back to see him rubbing his bottom lip with his long fingers as his eyes bore into me. I have never been so nervous in my life. I walked as fast as I could to legal to deliver the contracts then made my way to the ladies bathroom and got sick.
I will admit it that meeting that man made me so nervous that I was physically ill. It's not because he nauseates me, far from it. He fucking excited me so much that my stomach rolled. I could feel the heat off his stare as I walked away from him. I knew from that very moment that Christian Grey was not gay. This was a man who liked females…I just didn't understand how he liked them!
For the next few weeks, I saw very little of my boss. He was in and out of 3P and the day to day operations was left to David Sanders, the President of 3P. Sanders is a good man and his love of books is amazing. He would spend most of his day talking about books, the new romance books full of vampires and billionaires to the classics of British Literature. The problem with Sanders, he didn't know his way around a spread sheet. That's where my employment began to change at 3P. I had a meeting with Sanders about a new young writer that I discovered by accident but that meeting ended up with me behind his computer trying to explain the forecast reports sent down from The Great One himself, Christian Grey. By the end of the week, I was moved into the Executive Suite as Sanders' number two. He left me to run the company while he edited and ferreted out new authors. We worked as a team, and under our management, 3P began to grow.
This impressive growth caught the attention of The Great One. 3P's profit margin sharply increased. The company was profiled in different business magazines and I even found myself on the cover of industry periodicals as the new fireball in publishing. I was wined and dined by potential employers who wanted to steal me away from 3P. Enter The Great One with a new contract that gave me 3P to run without Sanders as President. I was now the CEO of 3P. Sanders went back to his first and only love, editing books. No hard feelings were experienced between David and I and he admitted that he suggested to The Great One to give me a chance to run the business since I was doing it already.
The money and benefits made my decision very easy to make to accept the position. I would miss editing, but I really loved the aspects of business. Who knew that the little girl from Montesano Washington would end up running a successful company that was fireballing its way to the top of the publishing world? Under my watch, 3P grew and acquired three other small publishing houses in Seattle and then I sent my sights on other small struggling publishing houses throughout the state and in Oregon. Thank goodness I had access to a private Lear jet that was a flying executive office where I could run my slice of Grey Enterprises Holdings since travel was essential now that 3P was now a world class and internationally recognized publishing house.
As the time approached the one-year mark of my employment at 3P I noticed that I was spending more time in meetings with The Great One. He never addressed me directly leaving that to his second-in-command, Roz Dalls, a fiery tall redhead that took no shit from anyone. I admired the woman who stood up for herself and made herself a very important part of GEH. Roz and I became friends outside of work and I was introduced to her wife, Cammie and their two daughters Gwen and Gabby. It was thru this friendship that my personal relationship with The Great One began, I just didn't know it until it was too late.
During one of our Thursday night suppers, Roz and Cammie invited me to a girl's day out at spa. Since I have been working nonstop putting in over sixty hours a week and had no life whatsoever outside of 3P, I decided a needed a day of pampering. I left my assistant Hannah Lewis a voicemail stating that I was taking my first personal day and enjoying a three-day weekend.
Roz sent a limo for me early on Friday morning and we arrived at a very upscale spa called Esclava. I learned later the significance of this business but for my heart and soul, it came too late. We were ushered in with great pomp and circumstance and all our wants and needs were catered to. Even though I did not have an appointment, I was still treated very well. Little did I know that The Great One and the slinky blonde cougar that owned and ran this establishment were old friends. The first time I met Elena Lincoln I felt like I met a snake. Everything about her was evil, cold, and fake. I could see her devil horns under that sharp bleached blonde bob she wore and her black designer clothes that clung to her body. For an older woman, some would say she was attractive, but she gave me the creeps. She stared at me as if I was filet mignon and she wanted to feast on me. She made me very uncomfortable and I had no problems telling her that I did not want her working on me. I didn't want her long bony fingers on my skin. After having a massage, a wax job that relieved my body of all unwanted hair and a facial I went with Franco, a small Italian man to tame my out-of-control lion's mane of mahogany hair. He took about three inches off which left my length in the middle of my back and he gave me a sweet straight style with flirty bangs that highlighted my vivid blue eyes. I gave him a substantial tip and a hug for his wonderful work. I left Esclava a new woman with recharged ego and self-esteem. Of course, it helped that Roz along with Cammie kept telling how hot I was, and that they could set me up with some of their friends whenever I wanted a date. I reminded them that I was straight and I didn't have time to date nor the inkling. The last thing I needed at this time was a man to cater to when I was working so hard to stay on top of the publishing world.
When I told them that I was not interested in men at this time, they had to tease me that I was in the closet. They were very shocked when I revealed my deepest and most personal secret: I was a twent-three-year-old virgin. Cammie nearly fainted and Roz spit out her wine in shock.
"How in the hell can you…one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen still be a virgin?" Roz asked still in shock from my revelation. We were sitting on the balcony of their penthouse enjoying an evening drink before going out for dinner.
"I have always been too busy for men. I had to work when I went to college and I wanted to graduate with the highest honors possible. Sex, men, and dating were never high on my life's list of goals." I shrugged my shoulders. "Besides, the males I knew in high school and college were little boys whose only goals in life where to get drunk and get laid. I wasn't interested."
"Smart girl, we have here." Cammie said with a salute of her wine glass. "I hope Gwen and Gabby have her way of thinking."
"Here, here." Roz said joining her wife in the salute. "Men are the downfall of many a woman in all aspects of life." She looked at me with her sharp green eyes. "Don't get ensnarled in the marriage trap, Ana. Don't give up your life to any man."
"Oh, don't worry, I won't. I've seen my mother ruin her life with her pursuit of the happily ever after with a man." I snorted still angry with my mother for choosing a penis over her daughter. "I will not let any man take control of my life." Little did I know that that statement would come back to haunt me!
After finishing off the delicious bottle of wine we worked on, we went to dinner at Benito's, a lovely little Italian bistro that was hidden discreetly in the Pike's Market District. One could only get in with a reservation unless one worked for The Great One. It is amazing to me how doors open so easily with the mention of GEH or the Grey name. We are shown to a private table and another bottle of red wine was presented to us, compliments of the house.
After ordering, I had to know a few things. "Ok, so what's the story with the Lady in Black at the spa?" I ask toying with my wineglass. I notice how Cammie looks to Roz with a very noticeable sneer on her lovely cherub face.
"Well, I would say she is nasty little witch, but that is just my opinion." Roz said with a shrug of her shoulders. "She is a friend of the Grey family and she and the Boss are business partners in the Esclava chain."
I have to laugh at the thought of The Great One owning beauty salons. "So, if you don't care for her, why go to her spa?"
"It's part of the benefits for working for GEH." Roz said with another shrug. "And, even though she is a world-class bitch, her staff knows their stuff and they are the best in Seattle."
"I can't stand the woman." Cammie declared throwing her blonde curls back off her face. "She gives me the "willies"."
"You, too?" I ask with raised eyebrows. "When I heard her nasally voice, it was as if someone scrapped their fingernails across a chalkboard. She made me very uncomfortable."
"That's because she is a predator. She preys on sweet young things like you and it doesn't matter what sex they are." Roz said acidly. "She gives the lesbians and bisexuals a bad name." She looked up with her wide eyes thinking that she spoke out of turn. I knew she wanted to change the subject, but I continued my line of questions.
"And, she is in the GEH family?" I asked amazed.
"Actually, no. The salons are independent of GEH. Mr. Grey invested his own funds into that business, not GEH funds, but he does have controlling interest. He bankrolled her a few years ago after she went through a nasty divorce with a very abusive husband. I guess being Dr. Trevelyan-Grey's friend, Mr. Grey's mother, was profitable for Elena Lincoln."
"You said she is a predator, what does that mean?" I asked not understanding.
Cammie leaned forward so that no one could hear her except for Roz and me. "She likes her lovers very young…illegally young if one can believe the rumors."
"It's only rumors, Cammie." Roz said with an edge to her voice. I get the feeling that Roz believes the gossip but she is smart enough not to repeat it without some hard evidence. I get it! Mrs. Lincoln and The Great One are friends, business associates and it would not be a good idea to gossip about His friend.
"Well, if you don't mind, I would rather not use that spa anymore. I would rather pay for spa services in a place where I am comfortable then keep going back there no matter who owns it." I give Roz and Cammie a smile. "But, I did enjoy our girl's day out. I needed this."
They both return the smile. We are best friends, which is nice since I have lost touch with my college "bestie", Kate Kavanagh. With our careers taking off, she in journalism and me in publishing, our schedules are crazy and impossible. We communicate through email and text messages and I never know where she might be. Last week she was in Europe working a story for The Seattle Times. Hell, tomorrow she could be in Timbuktu for all I know.
"So, what do you have planned for tomorrow?" Cammie asks me.
"I am going to see my Daddy in Montesano." I answer with a big smile on my face. Talking or thinking about my Daddy always makes me smile. He is the only man I have ever trusted and I adore him.
"Ah, yes, the elusive Raymond Steele." Roz said with a chuckle. She met Dad once and found him quiet yet honorable. "He's a good man."
"I think so." I say knowing that I judge every male I have ever met against my Daddy and those males fail miserably. Yeah, I know, I have Daddy worship, but he did save me from a life of mental abuse. He is my hero and I will always love him.