My intake of breath slashes at the quiet confines of his office, “you didn’t!” I murmur and gawp at him with round, shocked eyes. An incredulous bubble is caught in my chest, causing a tightness that I can’t swallow down.
“She’s a great fit for you and you liked her so….” His words fade out as he shrugs. He’s making out as if he’s bought me a scarf or something!
The gears in my head start grinding again and I’m flushed with questions, none of which I manage to articulate properly. “But I thought…, how could she…, what about her notice period?” Why I’m concerned with her notice period is beyond me but it’s the best I can do in my dumbfounded daze.
Relieved that I haven’t hurled something at him, he relaxes into the details that he’s happy to share. “All very good questions,” an up twitch at the corner of his mouth reveals his bemusement and he answers my only coherent question: “I bought out her contract with BTB.” By the easy-going tone it’s clear that he has no idea how far he’s gone or how mad I am.
Of course he did! My subconscious flings her arms up and smacks her hands on her upper thighs – crazy, stalking, controlling – did I mention crazy – bastard?! Her finger is jabbing quick circles at her temple showing me just how mad she thinks he is.
“Christian, I thought we agreed.” It’s a thinly restrained whisper; any remaining intensions to keep my temper under control are being devoured by the heat of my anger.
Head inclined, he takes a moment to search my face, weariness crossing his ashen gaze as he senses my effort to stay calm. “We did, but now that I’ve seen your work as a whole my judgment would be questionable if I helped you negotiate this deal with someone else.”
He crosses his legs, ankle to knee, his hand makes the circuit through his dishevelled hair while the stern slant of his brow warns me off. “I have a reputation to uphold Anastasia. What would it look like if one of the country’s best publishing houses hands the “next best thing” to a competitor?”
Argh! When will I learn that the normal rules don’t apply to Christian Grey? I hate that he inevitably sees an angle that I’ve missed. I get mad at some overbearing thing he did and Mr All-Seeing Master comes up with an explanation that leaves me in the wrong, completely distracting me from that fact that – yet again – I was not consulted in any of this! I’m reeling, feeling stupid along with a hefty dose of ire coursing through my veins and spoiling for a fight.
I bristle and dismiss my miscalculation. There is no masking the crimson rise to my face but I can draw from my irritation to push me through what I have to say. “I see, well I didn’t, but now I do,” I stammer feeling off-balance and suck in a steeling breath, “however, it doesn’t change the fact that you always make decisions – decisions that affect me – without ever checking with me!” the volume of my voice is amped up by the forging frustration.
This was something I wanted – no, had to do on my own. It took so much from me to ask him for help, to admit that I was out of my depth and he simply swoops in and hijacks the entire thing! Once more making me feel more like an asset than a person.
“For fuck sake Anastasia, you like her; I like her and you’re signing with Grey Publishing, what’s the big deal?” he’s on his feet glowering down at me, those grey eyes luminous with the intensity of his annoyance.
I push myself up, mirroring him. “You obviously think I’m a foregone conclusion, a desperate little waitress only too grateful for the crumbs off your plentiful table!” I come out, guns blazing, holding nothing back as I take a swing that I know will sting the hell out of him.
“I don’t like it when you talk about yourself like that,” the edge of his anger turning curious, ignoring my bait, “besides, that’s not what I meant and you know it, why are you trying to hurt me?” frown lines appears on his forehead as he tries to figure me out.
“Do I? How Christian, how would I ever know anything if you never tell me?” I pitch a taunting tone, issuing a challenge and neatly skirt the issue about hurting him.
“Anastasia, I’m not used to justifying my actions to anybody, I’ve told you before. This decision seemed blindingly obvious. I won’t, uhm can’t -” he amends quickly as he clocks my reaction, “- let you sign with anyone else and you wanted Julie Logan so, I got her for you. There was nothing to think about, nothing to discuss.” The cadence of his voice is modulated to tame my ire.
Simple as that!
I get his point but I’m anxiously trying to make my own. “Firstly,” my hand snaps up and I extend my index finger, “it’s not up to you and secondly,” I add the middle finger indicating two then drop my arm, “whether there is something to discuss or not, I would still like to know!” my fists dig into the sides of my waist and I flick my hair back over my shoulders eyeing him with unconcealed irritation. “Before you do it!” I ad as an afterthought.
One morning with Christian Grey and I’m exhausted, my nerves a quivering, bundled mess.
We stand facing each other, scrambling to find our counterpoise as the power struggle rages on between us. Finally he concedes; I’m rewarded with a brief nod teamed with a placating gesture. “I’ll try.”
“Thank you.” I issue a relieved breath. “Is that it? Any more aces in that sleeve you’d like to share?” I raise a testy brow, powerless to supress the cutting sarcasm.
“For now.” He holds my look of daggers and time bends into irrelevance as adrenaline ebbs and desire blooms. That familiar pull and drive of our attraction begins to build but I want none of it. I’m spent and smarting from our volatile battle. I pivot and turn to leave, disobeying my body’s natural inclination to yield to the force of his will.
I hear him call after me but he has the good sense not to follow, we both need some space. I find Chris and join him on the plush carpet, still in his bedroom. He’s made lots of exciting discoveries that he’s eager to show off and I revel in the uncomplicated bliss of being with him – a diverting pass time guaranteed to help me avoid thinking about Christian.
Both Chris and my backs are turned to the door while we concentrate on reading the rules of a board game. I feel an awareness tickling up my spine as I become conscious of Christian’s presence behind us. I expect him to join us so I don’t acknowledge him right away but when he doesn’t, I realise that he’s just watching us. The emotion radiating off him is almost tangible and I wonder if he’s simply curious or too cautious to interrupt us – not knowing his place in this picture.
So Christian won’t notice I whisper in Chris’ ear to turn around. He snaps his head to the door. His total enchantment already bears the evidence of his acceptance and unconditional love for his father. It brings a light to his angelic face that’s answered by Christian’s impossibly satisfied smile.
My two men, I think and sigh inwardly, our mountain of baggage pushed to the back of my mind.
In quick strides they join hands and Chris leads him back to me, his animated instructions informing Christian of the rules we’ve picked up so far. I love how Christian takes it in his stride – mega mogul CEO sitting on the floor, happily playing the part of devoted dad.
The rest of the day passes in a light-hearted mood. Christian and I spend it playing with Chris. It’s so precious seeing them together and I’m grateful for the memories that they’re finally getting a chance to make.
By dinner time our conversation turns to our plans for the weekend. “I have to go into the office tomorrow morning; I shouldn’t be long and of course Collins will be here with you but you’ll have to meet with Dr Shawn on your own.”
“Sure, what time will he be here?” I hide the disappointment of not seeing Christian and Dr Shawn interact behind a friendly smile.
“Is Dr Shawn coming to visit us here?” a couple of minutes ago I thought Chris might fall asleep at the dinner table, exhausted from all the fun and undivided attention he got today but now his eyes are wide and awake.
“Yup, he’s coming to make sure that you’re good to go tomorrow!” he makes a mock jab in Chris’ direction and they play-box as Chris tries to land one on his ducking dad.
“About 9:30,” Christian comes around to answering me and ruffles Chris’ hair. “And then, I want to introduce you to someone very special.” Clear grey eyes look up to me and I nod my approval even though the thought of seeing Christian’s parents has my stomach in a cloying knot.
“Aahhh, who is it?” Chris is bouncing in his seat.
I’m impressed to see that Christian has already learnt that Chris has a very active imagination so he doesn’t let him guess because no grandparent – no matter how cool they might be – will come close to what he would’ve come up with.
“It’s my mommy and daddy, your grandparents.” Christian looks utterly invested in this moment and I pray that Chris doesn’t disappoint him by shrugging it off like only a toddler can. I hold my breath.
“Gran and pop is coming here? Cool, can they come sailing too?” he looks to Christian and eats the last bite of his carrots-and-peas.
I giggle and interrupt, “no buddy, gran and pop is my mom and dad so you’ll have two more now because your daddy,” I rest my arm on Christian’s upper arm, “also has a mommy and a daddy.”
“I get two more? That’s awesome! Will they get me Christmas presents just like gran and pop? And…, and treats for my birthday? You’ll tell them when it’s my birthday right?” he looks frantically to Christian and then to me.
Finally the excitement that Christian was waiting for appears, albeit for a slightly different reason and for maybe the hundredth time today, we chuckle. We laugh with happy abandon as a family – together and I savour the moment I so desperately wanted Christian to be a part of. I can only hope that he sees what I see, the belonging, the love and the joy, waking a hankering in him to be a permanent part of it.
After dinner Christian offers to bath Chris and tells me to make myself at home. I abandon the guys in the bathroom and head for the kitchen and a cup of tea. On my way I pass Christian’s bedroom and I can’t help recall the last time I was in there, leaving my birthday charm bracelet and everything else I owned – including my stupid, reckless heart behind.
Without thinking I walk into his private space. My feet moving by their own accord, my brain mysteriously detached. The smell is the first thing that strikes my senses like a blow. That intoxicating, haunting smell that I crave like a high from a drug. I breathe through both flared nostrils and treasure my fix, inhaling it into my lungs and into my being.
My body responds with lashings of spasms between my thighs – the evocative scent bringing memories like gifts. I lost my virginity here, met a thousand pleasures that I never dreamed existed.
As I walk I run my hand along the furniture, not seeing much but feeling everything. Every single thing hums with vibrations from the past. Sleeping in his bed, his nightmares, our passion, moving my clothes into his closet…. I find myself in front of those very closet doors giving way under my gentle push. The soft glow of the recessed lighting pings on quietly and I glide in, as if in a dream. The smell is even stronger here and I close my eyes, loosing myself in the stolen intimacy.
When I finally float back to earth and open my dreamy eyes I stare straight into a rod of hanging dresses. I close and re-open my eyes then tilt my head to see if the angle of the view changes the picture, but it makes no difference.
My hammering heart is constricting along with my airways. When my brain eventually staggers back into my skull I get a hit of familiarity. A specific hue of emerald green attracts my attention and my numb digits reach out to finger the smooth fabric.
Oh my…. It’s the dress I wore to Christian’s birthday party, when we announced our engagement. I reach for the next garment, silver satin…. Oh yes, the masked ball. My fingers run faster and faster over the visible lines of clothes – like counting bank notes – remembering each one as they go. It’s all here, every single item. When I get to the end of the rail my unsteady hand opens one of the beautiful stacked drawers that hold the smaller items.
A chill makes goose bumps skate across my skin and I hear a torrent of water rushing past my ears. My silk sleepwear lay nestled like I’ve never left. Above that, I open the next drawer and find the lacy fronds of my underwear. The next drawer is the smallest one and even before I open it, I know what I’m going to find.
An invisible weight is crushing my chest leaving my breathing shallow as I spy well-known inches of red velvet folds. The sight of my wedding ring and then my birthday bracelet knocks the air clean out of my lungs. My legs give way as I sink into the carpet.
I just sit there, stunned and staring into space. What does this mean? The photos of me here and at Grey house, keeping all my things like this. How broken is he? He seems normal enough – for Christian – I reason with myself. Does he still see Dr Flynn? My mind is seized with panic, clogged with uncertainties.
After what feels like an eternity I drag myself up and methodically erase the evidence of my unsolicited visit. That cup of tea has now become an absolute necessity, maybe even with a dash of brandy. I wonder how forthcoming Christian will be with the new questions crowding my thoughts as I flick the kettle into service.
When Christian and I put Chris to bed my little angel turns into something resembling a small monster. He’s over tired and does what little children do – fight off the sleep. He whines and cries, rubbing at his eyes, all the while demanding more stories. You’d think that if you felt that tired you’d welcome sleep! I’m fascinated observing Christian deal with him.
At first he gives in and reads two more stories as we all lay together on his boat bed like squished sardines but soon discovers that it’s only making him more active. I try my best to give him some space to parent, often biting my lip to stop myself offering advice. Then, he astounds me by inventing a game as a ploy to get him to calm down and rest.
He whispers conspiratorially to Chris, “I know this game but it’s very hard.” He purses his lips looking thoughtful. “Do you think you can help me?”
Chris nod enthusiastically, “I can,” he says, his face earnest.
“Okay buddy, you can have a go but it’s a big job. We have to put off all the lights and then, we have to keep our eyes open to count all the stars in the sky. Are you ready?”
Chris nods again and Christian switches off the bedside light. Chris and I both gasp our amazement as the night light casts tiny little stars across the ceiling, moving slowly along as the bulb rotates. It casts a soft, serene glow.
Chris snuggles into us as he lies between us and we begin to count, whispering the consecutive numbers very slowly. By the time we reach ten I can see that his little eyes are fluttering with the strain of being kept open and after three more, he gives up the battle and succumbs to his dreams.
We lie there watching him in silence. My heart expands with love as it always does when I watch him sleep. I risk a peek at Christian, his expression is gentling into that deep love that binds you to your own children. I’m so thrilled for him, for getting a sense of the depth of his own paternal emotion.
When we’re sure we won’t wake him, we steal out the room and tip-toe down the passage. I giggle and clasp my hand over my mouth; it earns me an amused look from Fifty when he presses his finger to his lips to warn me to be quiet.
I stop at the kitchen island and Christian reaches for the fridge. “Would you like some wine Anastasia?” he asks with his back to me and I shiver at the way he says my name, my body still disquieted and hungry from my trip to his bedroom.
“Please Christian” unrelenting desire shapes my husky vocals and for a split second, I watch him stiffen in his task before the fluidity of his motion resumes.
He hands me a chilled glass of white wine and I place the rim to my lips, tipping my head back for a taste, not breaking our gaze as I breathe my reply, “thank you.”
He lightly grasps my bent arm and steers me to the large u-shaped sofa in the great room. I get comfortable and admire his precise movements – that easy grace and the insanely manly way his clothes hugs his body. Mmmmhhh.
He makes quick work of lighting the fire and selecting something on the IPod before he sits next to me, facing me with one leg tucked in under him. He lifts his glass and rests the other arm along the back of the couch.
I’m intrigued when the first strains of the song sounds like a baby’s toy but that soon changes when a lone female breathlessly croons a cover of Chris Isaak’s “I want you to want me”. It’s the same artist who had me salivating and daydreaming this morning and this song, right now – couldn’t be any more appropriate.
“Who is this? It’s so… tantalising.” I let the lyrics wash over me and when I open my eyes they’re lit from within with heated intentions.
“Don’t look at me like that” he issues me a mild, growling command but his hooded slate stare is contradicting his rebuke and it only makes me look more.
“Like what?” my inner goddess purrs as my voice turns girlish and my lashes flutter seductively.
He gives me a look that says you know what… and replies, changing the subject: “Damhniat Doyle, I just got it. She mostly does covers but strangely original in a way.”
I know what he means, I love Chris Isaak but this version is smoking!
He turns introspective, staring into mid space; I can guess what’s on his mind and Ana 2.0 is ready to reassure him. “You were wonderful with Chris today and especially tonight; you impressed me so much. You’re a natural father.” I hope my quiet words soothe his parental anxiety. “You’re always so…. competent.”
“He’s great” he flashes me a boyish smile and stares into his wine again. “I didn’t know what to expect, you know, telling him who I am and spending the day with him, doing all the normal things, it was…” he trails off, searching for words that I know don’t exist.
I gently place my hand on his veined forearm, exposed by his rolled-up cuff. “I know, sometimes I love him so much it hurts. It’s wonderful and exciting and scary as hell. You don’t comprehend that kind of love until you have your own children.”
“Do you think Grace and Carrick feels that way about me?” an unnamed shadow crosses his face and I wonder if he’s also thinking about his birth mother.
“I don’t think they do, I know they do Christian. They love you so completely, so unconditionally, I’ve seen it many times. I used to wish that I could show you, make you look through my eyes.” Emotion wells in the back of my throat and I fight down the threatening tears.
I want to be his safe place right now, if I cry we’ll lose this moment and this is not about me.
He nods his head slowly, his mind attempting to find a place for this new information amongst the prevailing thoughts of self-doubt.
“I can’t believe how vulnerable he makes me feel. At the best of times I worry about the health and safety of the people I love but he just adds a whole new dimension to that fear.” Bewilderment sharpens his features as he sips his wine mindlessly.
I know I have to help him find his balance in this issue; he can’t keep Chris in a cocoon, much as he might like to. “It’s the hardest thing in the world, to watch them make mistakes and get hurt and I must admit that having him has given me some insight in the way I made you feel at times.” His head snaps up in surprise, catching my contrite smile.
I plough on, “you feel helpless and frustrated but the thing is – with kids – the harder you hold on, the more they pull away. You need to learn when to let go and you have to pick your fights, you can’t argue about everything!” our gazes are still locked. I long to reach up and stroke his beautiful face, to touch the dusting of his stubble but I’m still cautious not to jeopardize his confiding mood.
“Is that how I made you feel? Did I hold on too hard and you pulled away?” his words are threaded with bleak unease.
“Please don’t think that.” I clasp his hand in both of mine and reach for every ounce of sincerity I can muster. “I may not have liked it but I did understand it, even respected it. I left for many reasons, all of which I’ve already shared with you but that was not one of them, please believe me.” I pray that my heartfelt plea will grow into understanding in his mind.
“So, your book, or rather books,” I sense his apprehension, “is that how you felt?”
I’m secretly thrilled that he’s asked me this, I was hoping he would. My work says the things that I still can’t articulate. Instead of a word in a sentence in a conversation, they are a complete picture of what I went through. Painting in great detail the deep chasm gouged into my psyche by the loss, regret, fear and even depression if I allowed myself the time to feel it.
“Yes.” There’s no need to cloud my answer with explaining, if he’s read it, he already knows.
“We screwed up Ana. It was the same for me.”
The words hang between us, thickening the mood with its searing reminders and recriminations.
We can’t afford to start the blame game again so instead, I seize the opportunity to ask him about the clothes and the photos. “I went into your bedroom this evening, when you were bathing Chris. I honestly don’t know how it happened, maybe returning to the scene of the crime, I don’t know.” I shrug, a quick glance in his direction shows me he knows what’s coming. I look down again – hiding my flaming shame, “anyway I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to invade your privacy but I saw my things in your closet and you still have my photos up, here and at work.” My pulse quickens, dreading the answer but unable to live without knowing.
He doesn’t make eye contact as he loses himself in the spitting flames of the hearth. “I told you long ago Anastasia that I’d take you any way I could get you and those things were the closest I could get.”
His unembarrassed honesty is heart wrenching. It’s a cold, hard slap in the face with a swift kick in the gut. It’s his version of my book. Fuck!
We both fall victim to the introspective atmosphere as we dwell on the dark revelations we just shared – neither of us with the capacity to make small talk.
Christian is the first to break the silence. “Will Chris be okay in his own room in a new place?” anxiety for his son is bleeding into his tone and I love that he’s so thoroughly thoughtful – even though it’s coloured with his overbearingness.
“I think that he’s out cold and that nothing short of an elephant trumpeting through his room is going to wake him tonight.” I smile and find myself relaxing as we finally edge away from the serious talk.
He chuckles his agreement, also seeming to find his centre again. “So, have you decided on signing with Grey Publishing or are you going to cost me millions in lost revenue just to prove a point?” a nervous bemusement touches his features.
I stall, stretching the moment to make him sweat. “I don’t know, it depends…”
“On what pray tell?” his eyebrow lifts in query as he folds his hands together.
“On the advance of course – now that I know I’m the next big thing….” I shrug trying my best to look uninterested.
He catches onto my game, an appreciative smile kisses his full mouth, “ah, yes. There is that matter. I suppose I should prepare myself for you getting a Pit-bull agent eh?”
“Oh definitely Mr Grey, that and many more outlandish requests, you know how demanding us artists can be.” I treat him to my most coquettish smile and because the nature of my “outlandish requests” run through my mind – all of them involving Christian Grey in compromising positions with moi – I flush a rosy glow.
I love the sound of his sharp inhalation and I respond helplessly, sinking my teeth into my lip.
He tenderly frees my swollen lip and brushes his thumb across my mouth. His voice turns soft, endearing even, “you better head for bed, it’s been a long day.” I watch him struggle with himself and it thrills me that he’s finding it harder to resist me.
“You might be onto something there,” I muse, “yes, bath and bed.” I stand and start to the kitchen with my glass.
I turn back, my hair flicking over one shoulder with a curl that ends on the swell of my breast. “Mmhhh?”
His hooded look is back, smouldering at me as he drinks me in. “I’m glad you’re here.”
The delicious bite of arousal clenches through my body and I smile, blowing him a cheeky kiss, “thank you for having us.” The last thing I see as I leave is the jolt breaking through his carefully controlled watch.
In the bath I look back on the day we’ve had. I can’t help feeling that we’ve cleared some hurdles. Before I turn in I check on Chris then stroll back to my bedroom. I can hear Christian start his shower and my earlier idea of getting a toy for some “stress relief” pops back into my head also; I’ve wanted to see the playroom ever since we arrived. Curiosity spurs me into action as I race up the stairs grabbing they key from the utility cupboard as I go.
I feel naughty and excited when I turn the key and find the light switch. The sad sight that greets me is that of a deceased estate’s furniture. Everything is covered in white dust sheets that are less than white from the settled dust they bare. Another shocker. I’m not sure what I expected now that I’m confronted with the reality. How would I have felt if everything was in ship shape condition?
I carefully close and lock the door behind me, there’s no way I can borrow a toy, even if there were any, I’d leave tell-tale footprints in the dust.
I slide into crisp cotton sheets and enjoy the sensation of five hundred thread count against my sensitive skin. My mind dwells over the playroom situation. I remember Christian saying that he wasn’t dating but I wasn’t sure what he meant. In the back of my mind I sort of expected him to have some form of sexual release though I didn’t want to give it too much thought. Could he be celibate?
Both my inner goddess and subconscious snort their derision at me and I concede that it was unlikely. This is my last thought before I succumb to welcome sleep.
When the light of dawn peeks through the drawn shades I stretch and take pleasure in what I hope is a new beginning for us. For the first time since we ran into each other at the zoo I feel that we’ve cleared the air between us. Many more steps to go, including his family but – for now – we’re in a better place.
It’s nearly 8:00 so I scuttle to Chris room, worried about him waking up in a strange house on his own. I can’t believe I slept this late. I don’t bother with a robe to cover my satin slip, Christian will be at work.
I shiver in the cool air of the corridor and turn into Chris’ doorway. I find Chris and Christian huddled together in Chris’ bed. Christian is awake but Chris is still fast asleep, curled into his father’s arm. By the look of his mussed-up hair I can see that he spent the night with Chris.
Too late I remember my state of undress as I watch Christian’s eyes turn from relaxed to predatory at the sight of every visible curve skimmed by my clingy pyjamas. I cross my arms over my chest to hide my erect nipples and blush spectacularly.
Christian offers me a sheepish smile, the playfulness contrasts sharply with the sizzling heat from a moment before.
He carefully slides out of bed. We turn our backs to Chris, keeping to a whisper, he explains. “He woke in the night and I heard him cry on the baby monitor. I didn’t want to disturb you so I came to lay down with him, I guess I fell asleep.”
I smile up at him, “baby monitor? He’s four; we haven’t used one of those in over two years.” I nudge his bicep playfully with my shoulder, delighted to tease him.
He grins as he defends his plan, “I was worried that we wouldn’t hear him, you know how big this place is!”
“Mommy, why are you laughing, I’m sleeping!” Chris grumbles at me and sits up.
We each take a seat on either side of the bed and take turns to collect our morning cuddles. It’s bliss.
Christian kisses Chris goodbye and leaves to get ready for a few hours at the office. “Don’t forget the doctor is coming this morning,” he reminds us as he strides out the door.
When we’re dressed Chris grabs my hand and pulls me to the kitchen, eleven hours of sleep leaving him famished. I potter about making us breakfast and Collins pops in to greet us and run through the schedule with me.
Just as we finish brushing our teeth Collins alerts us to the good doctor’s arrival.
Chris makes a bee-line for the great room and I follow – unhurried. I can already hear Chris’ screeches of joy. Dr Shawn is probably swinging him around and throwing him up in the air. I smile to myself – in retrospect – maybe it’s a good thing Christian isn’t here to witness that.
I smile when our eyes meet and he ambles over in that casual, athletic manner of his, he curls his large hand around my upper arm and pulls me closer. He leans in to kiss me full on the mouth, his face splitting into one of his devastating smiles.
“Hello there little lady, aren’t you a fine sight this good morning.” His Irish twang making the words melodious.
I flush at the compliment, “uhm, thanks, hello yourself.”
“Would you like something to drink?” my manners kick in.
“A cuppa English tea would make my day.”
“Perfect, I’ll have one too.” I’m happy to share my tea habit with an appreciative audience.
“Thank you for coming by the way. Where do you want to do this? Do you need anything?” I ask as I busy myself with preparing the teapot.
“It’s my pleasure Anastasia and no, right here will be fine.” He swings Chris onto the kitchen counter and does his doctor thing. “All the glands feel normal, open up for me, there’s a good boy.” He looks in Chris’ throat. “Mhh, apart from the crocodile that lives in there, I don’t see anything unusual, you’re all good lad.”
Chris howls with laughter and argues with Dr Shawn about the crocodile. “No it’s a dinosaur!”
“Dinosaurs are way too big to live in your mouth, it’s definitely a crocodile!”
“Maybe it’s a turtle? I think I’ve seen him when I brush your teeth.” I suggest, joining the banter.
Dr Shawn lifts Chris off the counter and takes the tea tray to the great room where we sit down.
Chris goes in search of something he wants to show Dr Shawn.
“How are you finding Seattle?” my hands are wrapped around a steaming mug and I take a grateful sip.
“Good, big, you know – busy!” he pulls a wry face and smiles. I get the impression that sprawling cities aren’t really his thing.
“Christian mentioned you worked for Doctors without Borders, it must be hard to adjust to the first world again, all the excesses and luxuries.” My hand makes a vague sweeping motion.
“Aye, it’s been interesting.” By his tone it’s clear that he’d rather be someplace else.
I nod, “so, when’s your thing? Your lecture?”
“I have one every week day but they only last for about two hours so the rest of the time I spend wandering the streets of Seattle all on my own.” He employs the puppy-dog look to wheedle some sympathy from me.
“Ah, I’m sure that you don’t have any shortage of company if you choose to have it.”
“You got me there!” we giggle at his blatant arrogance.
“I do need a favour though,” he turns serious, “I’m speaking at a fund raiser for Doctors without Borders on Monday evening – black tie affair – and the lass who was going to accompany me has dropped me so, I’m in desperate need of a new companion.”
“What can I do to help?” It’s not like I know anyone in Seattle I can set him up with.
“Now let me see,” he taps a finger on his lips making a show of thinking, “what can an eligible, attractive woman with a passionate heart, who happens to have a baby sitter on stand-by do to help me out?”
The penny drops as I realise that he’s asking me. The red glow makes a mad dash for my face and I splutter into my tea. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”
“Ah, but I will owe you one and besides, it’s not a date and it’s for a good cause.” He turns on the full charm, floppy blond waves and dreamy green eyes rounding out the lethal combination.
“I’ll see; we’ve got this security thing going on…” I trail off trying to think of a reason not to go.
His eyes light up as he takes my wavering as an affirmative. “That’s fantastic, thank you Ana, I knew I could count on you! I’ll get Neiman’s to deliver something for you to wear.”
“I haven’t said yes!” I squeak in shock.
“Aye, but you didn’t say no.” He looks at me with those beautiful jade eyes from under his lashes and I feel my resistance crumble.
I give him a dubious look, “you sure it’s not a date? I’ll just be helping out a friend?”
“Absolutely!” he says with utter conviction but a naughty gleam in his smug gaze suggests otherwise.
Mmmhh, he’s up to something…my subconscious is narrowing her eyes at him behind her winged spectacles.
“No arguing about security?” I’m still not sure.
“Me? Never, in fact I insist on it!” he deftly clears the final obstacle of my concerns.
“Okay, I’ll check with Christian.” I reluctantly give in with a gesture of surrender. Once more I’m rewarded with a flash of his brilliant, self-assured smile.
Chris returns with my mobile phone and climbs onto Dr Shawn’s lap. “Take a photo of the crocodile, I want to see it!” he hands over the phone.
Dr Shawn takes the phone and puts it aside then stands up and in a quick, smooth motion, grabs Chris’ ankles and tips him upside down shaking him gently. “We’ll have to shake him out of you!”
The surprise from being turned without warning and the fun he’s having is making him laugh hysterically. The lightness of the mood is irresistible and I laugh just as hard, cupping my hands over my mouth as I watch a little nervously.
Just as swiftly as he picked Chris up he turns him again then crouches to set him safely on the ground. “Did you see him rush away, he ducked under the couch!”
It leaves me with a clear view of the foyer and the unexpected, stone cold glare of Christian – watching, calculating, assessing the tableau that I assume he saw in its entirety.
Be kind and review, please.