*waving a white flag peacefully while hanging my head in shame* I can say endless sorry for keeping you waiting so long, but that would only complicate things further, and so that's kind of pointless. I'm sorry, though. I had some extremely busy weeks lately, and things had been too chaotic to allow me to write as often as I wish. I can only say THANK YOU to everyone that hasn't giving up on this.
I promise I'll allow you guys to pick me up by my hair, drag me to the middle of the street, pour gasoline on my body and light a match over it, if I don't finish this up! (Which I will, so you're all good.)
This chapter will have both Ana's and Christian's POV, because I felt like the little shopping trip with Mia was worth exploring! I hope it's not confusing in any way.
So, let's not delay this sh*t anymore. With all my love, there you have it. Hope you enjoy!
I stormed through my office fuming to myself. Who did she think she was? Demanding things like that, being unreasonable and stubborn as a freaking mule. It would be so simple if she just picked up the damned credit card but no, she had to try and emasculate me out of my duties as husband. I was the man in the relationship, I was the one making more money in this house – hell, I made more money alone than half the country's people did – and yet I was being denied of financing things for my wife.
I didn't like to be overpowered and especially not like that. It was nagging me beyond words and if I didn't stop anytime soon I'd be out of hair from all the grabbing I was doing. Anastasia was just so impertinent, I should have known given her outburst of anger in the hotel's room, and her temper was so hard to break. If this was something that made us butt-heads so strongly I didn't dare to imagine what warms could come within the six months of our union. What if more important matters come along and we don't agree on how to deal with them? It would become unbearable to live together. I'd want to be right, she'd want to be right. It sounded just like hell.
Those thoughts made me cringe inside. Regardless of the perfectly safe and great dinner we had yesterday it seemed our personalities still didn't match. Would we be able to work on that or will that bring the drastic need of a divorce sooner than we're expecting?
I didn't know which one of the options was worst because I didn't want to live with my wife if she was an obstinate pig-head but for some weird and unknown reason I didn't want the early separation either. Despite all she was being a little Pandora box and that was so out of the ordinary for me, so different from all I knew, that I wasn't ready to give her up yet. I was intrigued and I wanted to explore this, her, more.
I threw a harmless pen through the air and across the room. I was still mad. And I still wanted to win our argument.
I didn't care what kind of discussions that would bring, I decided I had to act, I was Christian-fucking-Grey. I didn't back down from any fight. Not when I wanted to get victorious from it.
I took the intercom out of a drawer and pressed the larger button. It didn't take long until Taylor's voice resounded through the speaker. "Yes, sir?"
"Bring Mia to my office." Then I refrained. I didn't want Anastasia to know I'd be using my sister to get to her. "Without my wife knowing."
"I'll be on it right way."
I picked up my wallet while Taylor did what was asked of him. I hoped Anastasia would still be preparing herself and out of reach while I talked to Mia. My sister was strong-headed and bubbly dynamical but luckily she didn't have the habit of confronting me or denying my requests. At least with that I could count on.
In a couple a minutes a soft knock reverberated through the office. I didn't get to answer because Mia stepped in with a weird expression on her face. I didn't know what was going on in her head but now was not the time to find out either. I had more pressing matters to deal with. That's way I got up and rounded my desk until I was close enough to be in physical reach of my sister.
"Where's Anastasia?" I asked casually.
"In her room, I think. She went to grab her purse."
The purse where her stupid credit card is, I thought but decided not to share. Instead I just produce a small smile, the kind I'd always use when I wanted to extract kindness out of my sister.
She eyed me suspiciously as if guessing I was about to ask something. But she was wrong to think that. I wasn't about to ask anything. I was about to demand. "Good." I said mechanically while grabbing my wallet and flipping it open. I took my golden card out and extended it to Mia. She blinked blankly at me for a while. "I want you to buy whatever you and Anastasia's want out of here."
"But…" She begun confused. "I thought you weren't going to pay for it."
I clenched my teeth. "Have I said that?"
"No, but Anastasia did and well…"
I didn't allow her to finish. "Exactly. She did but she doesn't call all shots here." I had more anger in my voice than I cared to admit. I continued anyway. "So I want you to grab this, put it on your lovely designer purse and pay for whatever you both want."
"I don't think she'll agree to that." She said uncertainly.
Well, of course she won't. I clenched my teeth once more. "She will, because you won't say the credit card is mine. You'll pretend it's yours and that you want to offer her a gift. A wedding gift, since you feel so bad you didn't make it to the ceremony itself."
That broke the trance my sister was in, she blinked furiously and glared at me. "Hey! I didn't make it to the ceremony because my brother is a jackass that didn't even warn me there was going to be one!"
I sighed, there we go, all women in my life liked to make things complicated for me. God, couldn't they just accept things as they were? Infuriating, I say.
"I know that. And you know it. But let's not allow Anastasia to know. Okay?" Obviously my wife would know any family members weren't present in Vegas because we didn't plan on even sleeping together let alone marry. But she'd buy that my sister was feeling bad and I could use that to pay for their stuff. Is not that I only wanted to come on top over the argument. I genuinely didn't want her to spend any money on stupid and expensive things when I could help her with it. She was just too stubborn to see that. And I was too proud to say it out loud.
Mia crossed her arms over her chest defiantly. I huffed and moved a bit closer, poking her with the card. I had had too many fights these pasts day I didn't want another one with my sister.
"I don't think she'll believe it."
"You'll just have to make her believe that. Drama is in your blood! It's not that hard for you to pull it through."
I was getting aggravated and I couldn't help but snap. "And how the fuck are you going to buy your things? With your own money?" I didn't like to throw these things at Mia's face. I never mind to support for her. Hell I was the one that insisted on it. Everything I built was focusing on the wealth care of my siblings. But my sister was only now starting her career and she wasn't known for her saving skills which meant she probably couldn't afford all she wanted to buy.
That shut her up. She didn't bother to look indignant like my wife either. Mia knew what I was implying was true. "Well, I was going to talk to you about that…"
"Exactly." I said probably a little meaner that I should. It's not that I was angry with her for coming to me asking for money. I didn't mind that. I was just sick of having my decisions questioned. It needed to end. "Now you grab this motherfucking card and you pay for all the purchases you both make today or else you can be an independent woman as well and buy stuff out of your own account too."
I didn't like blackmailing my own sister but right now she wasn't being very helpful. And I was the one paying for her stuff. I had the right to demand a few things. Or so I thought and apparently, she thought so too, because she grabbed the damned golden card immediately and sighed.
"Look I don't mind using your card and I don't mind you paying our things. It's awesome on your part to do that and I think it's incredibly cute that you get all frustrated for not being allowed to support your wife, it's just that I liked her so far and I don't want to get her upset if she finds out the card isn't mine."
My temper diminished a bit. I couldn't stay upset around Mia for long she was a good person and just didn't want to be dragged to the middle of any messes. I related with that so I was extended my arms and folded them around her torso, giving her a tight hug and a kiss on the temple.
"I understand. Thanks for doing this." I could feel her smile against me and I relaxed knowing we were okay. "You're right too, I'm frustrated for not being able to support my wife." That confession came out of me before I could control myself. I was surprised to realize it was true.
"I know," She murmured softly. "I can tell you both care for each other. And you're so cute together, I swear to God I'm not even mad about not being in the wedding anymore."
I ignored the comment about how we cared for each other. We were only together for a couple of days. It wasn't possible, right? Instead of dwelling on that I just smiled too, content my sister was no longer holding grudges. "I'm glad to know." I said too.
"Yeah, but I understand her position too you know? I mean in this shopping thing. You were right, she's not like others and she's just wants to prove that. I think she wants to show she doesn't want to be with you for your money."
I stiffened a bit but refrained from saying anything. Mia was probably right. Anastasia just wanted to prove she was her own person and not some gold-digging whore I wrongly accused her to be when we met. But that didn't diminish my frustration in one bit. I got her concerns, but couldn't she get mines?
I sighed and let go of my sister with one last kiss. She was clearly happier now and that made me a bit more brightened too. There was no point in getting grungy all day long. Especially if I'd be sulking all by myself. "Just make good use of this." I said nodding with my head to the card she now held in her hands.
"Oh, you can bet on that." She beamed.
"You should probably get going before Anastasia begins to wonder where you are."
"Sure," She turned around and walked towards the door. I was way more relieved to know they would be shopping under my expenses. At least I hoped so, since I had confidence in Mia's convincing abilities.
"Remember," I warned one last time before she walked out. "It's your card and it's a wedding gift."
Mia giggled, clearly excited about the ordeal. "Or a lot of wedding gifts."
I chuckled too. "Yes. Or a lot."
With that she closed the door and disappeared into the depths of my house. I stood there, up and leaned against my desk, wondering what they'd do, what they'd buy, what they'd talk. It was a bit nerve-wracking to know my sister and my wife were on the loose, alone, through the stores of the city gossiping god-knows-what about me. Still I couldn't help the small smile that stretched on my lips or the slight tingle of excitement I got imaging what my wife would dress tomorrow.
I shook my head and walked towards my chair, ungracefully slumping on it, rubbing my head with my thumbs. This was really harder than what I was prepared for. I still had a lot to learn about relationships, marriages and particularly about Anastasia Steele. Or, in this case, Grey. Anastasia Grey.
I was just about to knock on that security guy's office to help me find out where the hell my sister-in-law was, when she materialized right next to me, I didn't notice at first being so absorbed on my own thoughts and all.
"Hey," She chirped in with a high pitched tone that made me jump both in scare and surprise. "Looking for something?"
"Yes. You, actually. Where were you?"
Mia just laughed and waved her hand off as if what I said hadn't made any sense. I frowned but she completely ignored me and instead slipped her arm through mine and smiled brightly at me. "I was in the bathroom obviously. Sorry for the waiting. Let's get going."
"Oh, sure." I started to walk towards the door but her arm linked through mine didn't allow me to get very far. She stood glued on spot knocking on that security guy's office just like I was about to it moments ago. "What are you doing?"
"Warning Taylor we're going now."
Oh, so his name was Taylor. Good to know. I'd prefer to call him that than Mr. Bodyguard whenever I saw him. Still I didn't get what she meant with that. "Okay… Why would he care?"
She blinked at me, a look of pure confusion written in her pretty features. "Because he's coming with us." She answered slowly as if I was retarded. Perhaps I was because that still didn't make any sense.
"Why?" I asked again.
"He's driving us…?" By now Mia was a bit confused too. Obviously she wasn't used to even think about this stuff, but for me going shopping with a black-dressed shadow was kind of weird.
"Can't we drive ourselves?" I asked once more, still sounding like an idiot, even to myself.
"I…" She wasn't being able to think things through, but before any of us could say more, another person answered me.
"No." He said. And just our luck. It was security guy, Mr. Bodyguard, Taylor himself. He had probably heard all our conversation and was just now making his presence known. I frowned at him, still unable to grasp why we couldn't do things by our own hands. "Mr. Grey wishes me to accompany you."
"Oh! Of course, Mr. Grey wants a spy hovering over our heads. Of course." I huffed under my breath. Both intervenient stared blankly at me, obviously thinking I had some kind of mental problem, and perhaps I even had, but knowing Mr. Grey was once more making demands about how I should do things, got under my skin. I had never depended on anyone before to do superfluous things such as buying myself a dress or driving towards a shop, and now here he was stripping away my independency and treating me as an invalid.
I was probably overreacting and I had conscience of it, but I was still too nervous about the morning argument to see reason.
"Well," Mia started, trying to bring peace between us again. "Anyway, we should get going. Is everything ready Taylor?"
"No," I placed my hands on my hips. "It won't be necessary to have you coming along. We can drive there ourselves. Thank you, Taylor."
"I beg your pardon ma'am, but how are you going to drive anywhere?" His voice was so reasonable it annoyed me. I blinked unconsciously at him unable to say anything further. "Do you have your car with you?"
It was a rhetorical question, obviously, because everyone knew I didn't. I didn't have anything yet. Maisie was still up the task to bring my belongings to Seattle as quick as possible but even she wasn't able to bring it within two days time. I had nothing. And I had no vehicle whatsoever.
I groaned and dropped my hands out of my body. "Fine," I scoffed. "Let's just go."
Taylor fought back a smile but Mia didn't bother to hide her stupid happiness. She grinned brightly and winked at me, obviously pleased that I decided not to fight anymore. I thought about sulking but that was just plain childish and besides it was kind of stupide on my behalf to accuse Christian of espionage. He was being considerate enough to land us his bodyguard and to spare us the trouble of getting there by ourselves and I was just being immature.
Realizing that made me more annoyed but I couldn't help it. It wasn't Christian's fault and I had to woman up and admit that.
I mustered a smile too once we were on the elevator. We did the same course I had made yesterday while coming to Escala for the first time. It still amazed me the luxury I was witnessing and it still made me feel out of place but this time I tried not to think about it and just enjoy what was ahead of me: a day of shopping.
As futile as that seemed, retail therapy appeared very appealing to me, being able to have control over what I'd put on my body felt strangely comforting seeing as control had slipped through my fingers the moment I drank to the point of marriage.
We entered the car in silence and our journey turned out to be the same. No one said a word as it appeared everyone was deep in their own thoughts. My mind was racing too, had I been unfair towards Christian when I denied him of paying for my dress? I had my own money and I didn't need his, but perhaps it wasn't about needing but simply about allowing him to do something nice for me. I was feeling kind of bad for arguing with him and I wasn't understanding why.
Surely it felt good to make my point and to stand my own grown, to establish to him and his family I wasn't in this situation because of how deep his pockets were, but even through my haze and the victorious feeling I got while maintaining my position, I wasn't pleased to be in bad terms with my husband.
We had shared such wonderful dinner last night and I had discovered he was such an interesting guy that I didn't want to jeopardize the little progress we'd made.
It pained me to think our time together would be filled with hot-head discussions, but perhaps we should back down now and then, and recoil from our stubbornness and pride.
"Let's start here!" Mia squealed at my side, jumping up and down. I looked through the window and my heart nearly stopped. That was a fucking expensive boutique! I said I wanted to pay for my own attire but I didn't say I wanted to spend all my savings on it.
She kept looking at me expectantly and after my little stunt I didn't want to show any reluctance, if I stood up and make sure I'd pay for it, then I'd have to pay for it. I gulped and nodded. "Sure." My voice was a bit uncertain but she didn't seem to notice. Taylor stopped the car and allowed us to leave before looking for a parking spot. We exited at once.
I didn't even want to cross the threshold but Mia snaked her arm around mine once more and I was left with no choice. As soon as we stepped inside a perfectly tailored, model-looking, woman stepped in front of us. She had a dazzlingly smile on her lips but it flattered a bit when she saw me, no doubt because of my attire. A t-shirt, shorts and some flip-flops were not what regular costumers of this store used to wear, I was sure of it.
"Good morning," She said with little cheer. "Haven't seen you in a while Miss Grey. How are you?"
"Great!" Mia waved her hand and let go of my arm. "This is Anastasia Grey, my sister-in-law." She presented me with obvious excitement in her voice but the woman didn't share her emotions, instead her eyes widened and her lips formed a snarl.
"Really?" She asked dryly, eyeing me up and down with clear disgust. Mia was too busy gazing the store's contents to notice it and I was too stunned to say something. What the hell was her problem?
"Haven't you seen the news?" Mia asked shocked. "It's all everyone talks about."
"Yes, I heard it. I just didn't imagine Mr. Grey's wife would be like… this."
I just didn't imagine Mr. Grey's wife would be like this, blah blah blah. I almost felt like sticking my tongue out at her and her stupid tone. It reminded me of that annoying reporter who called me "commoner wife." I got really pissed at her demeanor but I didn't want to give her the pleasure of showing how much she got to me so I just smiled brightly and nodded in greeting.
"Hey there," I said softly. Taylor had just arrived at the moment and was now right behind me. It felt weird to have someone just hovering over my body but I promptly ignore it. "What's your name?"
"Claudia, I'm the owner." She answered swiftly still giving me up and down glances.
"Well, Claudia," I pronounce her name as if it meant genital herpes. "Nice to meet you."
"And what is your name again?" She asked with a fake batting of lashes. I felt the urge to rip them out of her eyelids.
"It's Anastasia, but you can call me Mrs. Grey." The look of shock she gave me, made me want to shake my ass in victory, take that bitch! I wanted to yell but I stopped myself just in time, especially once I heard Taylor chuckling behind me. I turned around just in time to see him smile, comprehending the situation, unlike Mia who kept staring at the clothes and ignoring Herpes… I mean, Claudia manners. I smiled too and winked at Taylor before turning around and start to wander through the store myself.
I left Mia alone with deal with the envious owner and went straight for the fancy dresses section. I didn't want to admit it out loud but I was extremely concerned with the expenses I'd have. I tried to be unsuspicious about it, but discreetly, I started to room through the price tags in order to find the cheapest of all outfits. Giving my luck what I found didn't stop my concerns. There were only two dresses that merely cost a couple hundreds of dollars and they were a bit non-flattering. One was a bright pink neon piece of fabric that I was sure it wouldn't cover enough of my body to be publicly acceptable and the other was a green gown with so many layers in the skirt I'd definitely look like a four's years old princess cake.
"Huh," I huffed to myself. Either I had no eye for great deals or this store wasn't the one for me. I wasn't even sure what kind of dress I should be looking into, to starts. After the argument, Christian and I hadn't shared many words and I still knew nothing about this dinner we'd attend to.
"Are you finding hard to shop for something tasteful?" Mrs. Venereal Disease asked out of nowhere. I was really getting annoyed with her. What was her deal anyway?
"I am." I answered truthfully. "It's kind of hard to find something suitable in such low standard shop." That, I didn't know if it was true, but who cares? She got all hot and bothered and that what my goal.
"It's a boutique." She hissed through clenched teeth.
"Are you sure?" I interrogated just to annoy her further. "Because I think what you said just sounded like 'I'm desperate to get high end clients so I need to make the designation sound expensive'"
"I do have high end clients," She whispered angrily while leaning closer to me. I'd step away but I didn't want to make it look like I was afraid of her so I stayed put with a high chin and a straightened spine, though she was way taller than me. "Your own sister-in-law is one. And Mr. Grey always favored my shop, I recon he particularly enjoys my services."
That made me stop on my tracks. My blood froze and for a split second my vision became blurry. Now I got why she was so menacing. She was one of my husband's harem hussy – or whatever. I didn't like it one bit. I hated to think of all the other women he'd been with, I knew that was a bit stupid on my part, but I couldn't help the sting of jealousy. And if only imagining made me upset, meeting personally one of his conquests just turned my stomach upside down, completely.
Luckily for me, Mia appeared in that moment, sparing me the need for a comeback. I didn't have one. I was so shocked and offended I felt like throwing a hanger at the herpes girl and storm off the store. Obviously I wouldn't give her the satisfaction of it, but I'd like to do it nonetheless.
"Have you found anything?" Mia chirped in, still happy, still ignoring the pissing contest that was happening in front of her eyes.
"No. I don't think this is the right shop." I said firmly.
"What do you mean? The designs arrive directly from Europe. It has all the latest trends." Mia was frowning almost adorably but at this point, I didn't care, I just wanted to get the hell out of here.
"All the latest B category trends, obviously. If I'm paying for my attire I want top notch quality." That was bluff but no one seemed to notice it.
My sister-in-law but must a bit slow on the brain department, because she did the last thing she should have done. She said, "But Christian always favored this place when it came to shop for me."
Claudia or Pute-Femme as I baptized her, in honor of her French taste for names, couldn't look smugger. Now I really felt like slapping the hell out of her. Taylor quietly strolled to my side and gently nudged my arm as if reading my thoughts. I glanced briefly up and met his eyes for a few seconds, he was sympathetic with my cause but clearly trying to pass me the calm to deal with the situation, for some reason his support made me confident.
I snorted. "Well, clearly Christian settled for mediocrity so far. Luckily now he was me to guide him, and I say these clothes aren't good enough even to wipe my ass."
Mia's mouth popped open in shock at my statement and Pute-Femme's face reddened with apparent anger. She clenched her fists at her sides and strolled determinedly towards me.
"Anastasia that's a bit…" Mia started, trying to bring peace between us. I glared at her in the moment but in reality I couldn't blame her. If she shopped there regularly and was fond of the designs, it was normal to not want to stay in the bad graces of the owner. But she was being so oblivious it was painful. To me, at least.
Before any of us could say more, though, Taylor stepped in front of me and interrupted her. "Mrs. Grey is right," He stated calmly. "This store isn't adequate enough for her needs. We can find better suitable dresses elsewhere. If she's going to represent her husband in such important gathers, she should only settle for the best."
I could have kissed Taylor right in that moment. In the cheek, I mean. I absolutely regretted being so nasty to him when he said he'd be coming along. Thinking back, I didn't know what I'd do if he wasn't around to help me like this. I smiled triumphant but squeezed his hand in appreciation without anyone noticing. I truly was thankful.
"I suppose..." Mia whispered still a bit confused at this teaming thing me and Taylor did. She waved at Claudia with a sorrowed expression and followed us outside. Pute-Femme stayed put, paralyzed with outrage and shock, in the same spot as before and with her face as red as a freaking tomato.
"Thank you," I said softly to Taylor when he opened me the door to the car.
He nodded in acknowledgment and stepped aside to let Mia in, she was still frowning and still looking a bit lost. I felt bad for her, it wasn't her fault she hadn't heard the owner's provocations or the truth about her relationship nature with my husband.
"What's going on?" She demanded immediately once the car was on the move.
"I didn't like the store." I answered avoiding her eyes.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see her brow quirking up and her face turning completely towards me. "There's nothing wrong with the store."
I huffed but didn't deny it. What was the point in hiding anyway? "I didn't like the owner."
"Oh," Understanding drowned on Mia's face and she turned away from me, uncomfortable. "Do I care to know why?"
"I don't know," I answered sincerely. If she wasn't sure about it, I couldn't know for her.
"Let me guess, does it involved my brother?"
"Oh god!" She buried her face between her palms and breathed deeply. "I should have guessed. I'm so sorry Anastasia, I had no idea Christian and Claudia had been together…"
I flinched at her implication, the last thing I wanted to imagine was that stupidly good-looking woman with her long legs and toned model body wrapping around Christian's handsome one. Instead I focused on the fact that I had never truly introduced myself to Mia.
"You can call me Ana." I informed her as nicely as I could.
She nodded still looking apprehensive. "I really didn't know." She continued, not understanding that that was the last thing I wanted to talk about. "Somewhere along the way I lost track of all his…"
"What do you do?" I asked abruptly, interrupting her discourse. I smiled too, afraid to look too rude. I wanted to change the topics desperately but I genuinely wanted to get to know her as well.
Mia smiled contently, clearly unfazed about my disruption. "I'm an interiors designer." She stated proudly.
"Oh, that sounds interesting. Do you work for a company or do you have your own business?" That did sound interesting and I did want to learn more about it.
"I work on my own but I'll still working on expanding my business and building my brand." She looked really happy talking about this subject so I decided to continue with it. It was better if we stayed good-humored.
"What's the name of the brand?"
"Grey Aims," Mia said proudly. I smiled too. It was a clever name.
"That's cunning. Aims is kind of an anagram to your name, right?"
"Yes," She beamed, pressing her hands on her thighs excitedly. "Christian came out with it."
"It doesn't surprise me." I murmured quietly, thinking back at my husband's genius.
"Yeah, he's been really supportive with everything. I mean, Elliot too. I'm lucky to have such caring brothers but Christian's the one that managed to make my dreams come true. Actually I think he's the one that managed to keep me alive."
"Oh?" That peeked my curiosity, but I didn't want to push too far or appear too nosy, so I said nothing more anxiously waiting to see if she'd develop that.
"I was very sick when I was a child… Our father, he's… well, he's not a very present figure. And even when he's around he doesn't seem to truly care about anything that involve us, except Christian's career and business, but I guess that's only because he's so successful now."
I grimaced, that was why he was so upset with him for marrying me. I shivered unconsciously. "Yeah… I met him."
"You did?" Mia asked clearly surprised. "Judging by your face I can tell it didn't turn out very well. Carrick is like that. So you can imagine what was like for us growing up."
I wanted to say I wasn't really sure I could imagine their pain but I refrained from saying that. I simply nodded, afraid to even speak up, this subject was clearly a sore one for the Grey family.
"Elliot was the older so he assumed the role of a parent, he was always looking out for us, fixing things, but he was also a great student and he managed to get a scholarship. None of us wanted to privy him from pursuing his dream, he was ready to deny it, but Christian didn't allow him to. He said he'd be the one taking care of me while Elliot was in college. And he did. It was hard though, we were poor, Carrick had a drinking problem back then and every penny from his paycheck went to booze and gambles, I had a lot of health problems because my mother died when I was born and I never got to drink maternal milk, somehow that weakened my immune system."
I gulped that was some awful things to hear about your husband's past. I felt bad for all three of them. "Sorry to hear it."
"It's okay," She dismissed it with a wave of her hand. "I got the right treatments after that. Elliot sent us the little money he could from his scholarship but that wasn't enough to pay the meds so that's when Christian begun to fight. He was still in school but back then he was skipping classes and missing his assignments…"
My heart constricted at my chest and twirled itself in tight knots. "Christian fought when he was a kid?" I asked breathlessly.
Mia nodded gravely. "He was an angry person. Not towards me but with… the world. I could tell he didn't have motivation to keep up with anything and the only thing that brought him some relief was the street fights. I didn't like it either. He was sixteen and I was only nine but I hated to see him bruised and cut. It was the only way he found out to support my cares without making Elliot drop out of school to help us."
I fought back the tears at my eyes. Christian really loved his siblings. And his story was both heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. I wasn't able to say anything. Taylor kept driving us, but I wasn't sure if he was really taking us some place specific or simply going around the blocks to not interrupt the conversation.
She continued. "One winter though, I got really bad, I caught a cold but that quickly escalated into something worst. Christian struggled to keep up with everything and take care of me at the same time, he could have tried to find a regular job but he wouldn't get paid so well or so frequently. And then one night," She was whispering now, her voice a bit pained. "One of the worst nights, he came home all beaten up, I could tell he had won because he was calm but his hands were so swollen and his lip so deeply cut, I even flinched when I saw it. I was struggling to breathe so Christian lay down with me and slept by my side. At one point I coughed blood and I saw him crying but I pretended to be asleep so he wouldn't get mad at me. I don't think what he said then was meant for me to hear it, but I did, and he stood there and promised me he'd find a way to get money so that none of us would have to struggle ever again, for anything. After that he started to dedicate himself to studies. When I got better he continued to fight but he started to save money for him as well. He graduated with amazing grades and got a scholarship as well, he went to local college so that he could still look out for me. After that, well, that's what you already know. He built an empire."
"I…" I had tears streaming silently through my face. "That's, I mean what he did, was amazing."
"Yeah," Mia complied with a fond smile on her striking face. "He's all cool and collected on the outside but he probably the kindest person I know. He's really been looking out for me and Elliot ever since. He's helping him with his constructing business and he paid for my studies in Paris."
I sniffled again and my sister-in-law extended her hand, patting my arm kindly. "No need for that," She said softly. "We're all okay now. I mean Elliot's the biggest teaser I ever met and I can't seem to shut up myself and Christian, he's the most stubborn, controlling man on the planet, but besides that we're perfectly normal."
I chuckled lightly but my heart pained for my husband. Everyday I learned a bit more about him and everyday my heart melted further inside me. He really wasn't as bad as I first pictured him and now I was discovering that even his billionaire-freaking-empire had a reason to exist.
Taylor stopped the car after that and opened the door for us to exit. "Where should we start first?" Mia prompted in, cheerful as ever, almost as if she hadn't share with me the saddest thing I'd ever heard. I didn't want to ruin her mood so I fought my heavy-heart away. "Channel? Prada? Versace? Vivienne Westwood?"
I blinked, uncertain of how to answer, those stores where even more expensive than the Pute-Femme's one, and if I couldn't afford to shop there, I sure as hell couldn't shop here. I didn't want to back down from the deal I had made for myself but I had to draw the line. Spending more than ten thousands dollars on a dress was way out of my comfort zone.
"Look," I said grabbing Mia's arm. "I'll pay for my dress but I can't really afford any clothes from any of these places. Let's find…"
"That's okay, I can."
I jerked back and open my mouth unsure of what she meant. "What does that mean?"
"It means I'll pay for it."
"No." I said putting my hands up defensively. Not this again. "I appreciate the gesture and all but there is no way I'll let you do that."
"I didn't get to go to the wedding," She whined with puppy dog eyes. I gulped, yeah because it wasn't planned, I mused but I couldn't say that. "I'm really offended with that. I mean Elliot was there, why didn't you warn me?"
Now she was making me feel bad for not coming to our non-wished, completely intoxicated, ceremony. "It was kind of a last minute call…" I defended lamely.
"So I heard, but that's no real excuse. How would you feel if one of your siblings got married and didn't bother to tell you about it?"
"I don't have any siblings."
"Oh," Mia breathed but didn't look bothered. "Regardless, that was beyond inconsiderate of you guys. So I say the least you can do to make it up it's allowing me to pay for this. As a wedding gift, of sorts."
"No way," I tried again.
"Don't even try that!" She warned me with a stern look. "I already know you're an independent woman but I'll not buy you this because I think you're poor and helpless, I'll by you the dress and whatever I want, because you're my sister-in-law. We're family now and that's what family does."
I blinked again, still not truly knowing how to react, I didn't want Mia spending any of her money on me but could I really say no to that? She was feeling bad that we hadn't invited her and since she knew nothing of the true nature of our marriage, she couldn't be blamed. I sighed, I wasn't ready to give up, but I wasn't up for another fight.
"Come on," Mia insisted, linking her arm through mine once more, as it appear she liked to do. "Don't be like that. I'll pay for it and that's that."
I shook my head but it was pointless to fight, she was really determined, and plus I wanted to buy a really nice, gorgeous dress that would make me look extremely good. Or as good as I can get. I wanted to surprise my husband and impress him. I guess he deserved it, after all.
"Thank you," I whispered to Taylor quietly when we entered the house. Mia had been dropped off at her apartment and we were now getting in. It pasted ten p.m. and honestly I had no idea time could pass this quickly.
We hadn't planned on spend the whole freaking day shopping but we were having fun and we stopped for a very long lunch and then a late snack. We had been really getting absorbed on our world, buying all kinds of clothes. Mia forced me to buy some lingerie sets to "please my husband on our honeymoon". I didn't share with her that we weren't having sex but I didn't mind the underwear either. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever owned and it truly made me look good.
Perhaps one of these days sex would happen again. I didn't want to think about that and get my hopes up but I couldn't help but recalling Christian's panty-dropping figure completely naked. The image of him, sprawling confidently, on the couch of the hotel never left my mind and was now haunting my ideas and deflowered libido.
I went to my room to place all bags on the too-spacious closet. I didn't bother to unfold anything, Mia had promised to come around tomorrow and help me get ready for the dinner, so I'd do it with her.
I didn't found Christian anywhere so I strolled towards the kitchen where I saw Taylor and Ms. Jones. They were sitting quietly by the table, obviously sharing a moment of deep intimacy. I hated to break it up but I was both curious and concerned.
"Excuse me, I'm sorry to interrupt you guys, but have you seen my husband?"
"Oh, he already went to bed." Ms. Jones answered with a kind gaze and a gentle smile.
I nodded and thanked for the information, bidding good-nights while exiting the room. That bothered me, I wanted to talk to him and ease things up. I didn't wish for any of us to stay upset with the other for long, but today I had come in late.
I'd have to make out for it tomorrow.
Laying down I pictured Christian's face and his reaction to my attire. I hoped he'd be pleased. For some stupid and unknown reason I was desperate to get his approval.
P.S. Oh, I wanted to ask any reader I might have that happens to be from the UK and that is familiar enough with university applications stuff (I mean how to apply, what needs to be done, etc., etc.) to send me a PM. I have some questions and if anyone could answer me, I'll be very thankful. If not, I'd be thankful regardless.
Anyways thank you for reading! I'm truly sorry for the waiting and I love you still, so please don't break up with me and my story.
P.P.S. The dinner thing will be next chapter, and I can safely confide in you, that there's going to be at least one passionate kiss between our lovebirds along the way! *yey* finally they're making out!