“Of course not,” I counter evenly, giving my husband a beatific smile to back my innocence, but my mind is racing, reeling with thoughts of gadgetry spyware. In the end I mentally narrow my eyes at Cindy, vowing to stomp my heel clad foot if she dared betray my confidence over a complete non-event like this. It’s not how I pegged her, and I would be very disappointed if that was the case.
In spite of my speculations I’m not about to let my husband’s insecurities get the better of us. I run my hands up his chest before linking my fingers behind his neck, reiterating my former statement, “It’s a lovely surprise,” I smile, adding another peck on his carved lips. “Derek and I were just discussing the pitfalls of dating. With my limited dating experience his love life is proving good fodder for my plot lines.”
Derek is standing off to the side, taking in the vibrant force that is my husband with a slightly awed expression, blissfully unaware of the pissing contest he’s been made a rival in.
With me tucked under his arm Christian presents Derek with the picture of us, united, “Ah, good to know. Initiative is always encouraged, as is helping my lovely wife with research.”
Derek looks pleased, oblivious to the show Christian is putting on for him, “Always happy to help Mr. Grey,” he says, his voice still holding that reverential note. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to see if I can clear a path to the surface of my desk.” Chuckling good naturedly he waves us goodbye before turning to take his leave.
Smiling I wave back with my fingers, then look up at my imperious husband, quirking my brow. Inscrutable as ever he gives nothing away, simply dropping a kiss on the tip of my nose, looking smug.
Now that he’s stamped his possession all over me he’s feeling more certain of himself, at ease, “I’ve come by to tell you that I’ve pulled some strings and the Dom blurb will be appearing in FHM magazine early next week.”
Even though it was my suggestion, and I know it’s the right thing for us to do, I can’t help the fast thud of my heart and my stomach contracting with the tell-tale clench of apprehension. I do all I can to hide it, cutting my gaze away from Christian’s all-seeing one, giving him my back as I stroll around my desk.
“Wow,” I breathe, my voice sounding more steady than I feel, “that’s great.” And fast, I add silently in my head.
He shrugs, “Now that we’ve decided I want to get it out of the way. I’ve also scheduled the interview and photo shoot with GQ. The release date is for the 1st of December, the Christmas issue. I wanted to know if you’d be okay with a woman doing the interview.”
Just over a week between publications I calculate, a little more panic hiking up the rate of my beating heart. I feel the burn of his pewter eyes on me, carefully assessing.
“No. I don’t mind,” smiling I fight the dry swallow my throat wants to work. “Anyone interesting?”
Still watching he speaks in a measured tone, “She’s a freelance writer, known for her candid exposés. I’ve e-mailed you her bio, her name is Sasha Cameron. Check it out; let me know if you feel comfortable with her.”
“Ah yes, thank you,” I smile, genuinely pleased that he’s equally keen for my approval and my participation, “she did that piece last month about the Texan senator and his proclivities for tight ladies underwear.”
Christian chuckles, shaking his head, recalling the story that started out with the good senator’s tireless work against animal in vivo testing, but ended up confessing to an inappropriate love of lace, “Yep, she’s a tiger, but a fair one. I think you’ll like her.”
I nod, thinking the same thing. It was extremely well written. She took what could have been a career wrecking bit of information, and turned it into an article that left you rooting for the man. In the conservative state of Texas, that’s quite an accomplishment. Even with my private reservations, which have everything to do with my own insecurities, I can already see that she would be the perfect person for the job.
Rounding my desk Christian traps me in a corner, his dexterous hands cupping my shoulders.
Searching my face his brow knits with a gentle frown, “We don’t have to do this you know.”
I muster every ounce of sparkle, putting the force of my full conviction behind my smile, “We should do it. It’s what’s best for us, for our future.”
I wrap my arms around his lean waist, locking my fingers behind his back. Pushing up on my toes I brush my lips across his, teasing him with my mouth. He gives me a rewarding hum, low, quiet, before pushing his tongue into the gap, taking my mouth. Like with everything else he does, he kisses me properly, leaving me senseless when our lips pull apart, him giving mine a tiny nip.
Blinking I take a moment to organize my thoughts again, his stunning face framed beautifully in my line of sight.
“Are you and Chris heading home after lunch?” Smirking down at me he stands back to enjoy the obvious affect he has on me.
“Uhm. Yes. Home,” I say stupidly, shaking my head to clear it. You’d think I’d be used to his devastating skills by now.
His smirk goes full HD, panty combusting, “Well then, that’s where I’ll see you tonight.”
The heavy emphasis on tonight and the salacious gleam in his eye leaves me with a reel of sexy flashbacks, all involving me contorted with pleasure, as he leaves my office, strolling away casually, his hands shoved into his pockets, and whistling a tune.
Grinning to myself and the hot shivers of anticipation racing across my skin I can only wonder if I have the same effect on him. I make a mental note to myself to make a point of trying. Hhhmm yes, I think, sometime soon, maybe in his office. I’m keen to have a go at making Mr. Sexpertise squirm.
Shoving my outrageous hormones aside I settle behind my desk to follow the link Christian sent me.
Sasha Cameron, curvaceous defender of all things kinky and sensual, is a freelance writer. Her tongue-in-cheek exposés on the rich and famous have made her the darling of the jet set. She charms and disarms, using naïve enthusiasm married with rapier wit. Easily mistaken as Dawn French’s twin sister, Sasha is everyone’s favorite MILF from Down Under. She’s raunchy, bawdy, has a big laugh and a bigger heart. Many mistake her affable nature as soft – all gooey caramel inside – but she will give as good as she gets, taking down wrong-doers with a firm stroke of her keyboard. The glasses perched on the end of her nose together with her sweet demeanor lends her the air of a teacher, but she won’t hesitate to take up the crop – Mistress style – turning bad-cop on your ass if she catches a whiff of a lie. The curvy literary temptress oozes sexuality, and has been known to rock a pair of 5 inch heels plus garter and stockings on a regular basis, holding on to the belief that a good bra is a girl’s best friend – along with diamonds of course, as she wields her Inter American Press Association Excellence in Journalism Award like a sceptre for justice in the world of the rich and famous.
(This bio was written by Sasha Cameron)
In my mind I try to imagine what it would be like, sitting with a reporter skilled at stripping the layers of padding we like to hide our true selves behind, trying to make light of the fact that, in essence, Christian liked to tie up and cane women. Even though I understand it was consensual, grasp fully his motivation, there is still a part of me that can see why there is a stigma attached to the heavier aspects of the BDSM scene. I can only hope Ms. Cameron sees past the obvious sensationalism and glimpses the great man that Christian truly is.
I can see why Christian picked her, and there is no going back for us on this as far as I can see. If this is the price we pay for our freedom, I think it’s small compared to the potential fall-out of a leak.
I fire off a quick approving e-mail to Christian and find a new one from Kate.
From: Kate Grey
Subject: Friends, hormones, and functions
Date: 16 November 2016 11:52
To: Anastasia Steele
It was so good catching up with you guys over the weekend. Thank you for a lovely day, I’m glad to have my friend back.
I’ve started a round of hormone shots this week which is making me moody and irritable, perfect circumstances to enlist you into girls-night-out duty while Elliot recovers from the inevitable screaming/crying fits that will be coming his way. Say maybe Thursday or Friday?
Also, we are launching Elliot’s company on Saturday the 26th of November at the Willows Lodge in Woodinville, and we would love for you and Christian to attend. I’ll send you the formal invite but I wanted to be sure you pencil us in.
Your hormonally charged friend,
Ps: Any news on the exposé front? I really want to be there for you, don’t shut me out OR RUN!
So Kate, I think, smiling and sad at the same time. I can tell she’s making light of the side-effects of her treatment but it can’t be easy. I can only imagine what it must be like to go through that and then not be guaranteed a baby at the end of it.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Nights out, exciting launces and exposés
Date: 16 November 2016 12:09
To: Kate Grey
It was wonderful having you. I would love to take your hormonal behind out! I will have to run it by Christian as our security issues are ongoing, and we will definitely have a security detail, but other than that, I’m all yours!
As for the launch, you can count us in. That’s so exciting Kate, congratulations! Christian mentioned that Elliot will be taking on the renovation project for our house on the Sound. I can’t wait.
We are going ahead with the exposé, and no, I solemnly swear there will be no running from me. I’ll fill you in on the details when we get together.
Your sounding board and shoulder,
Author – Grey Publishing
In an effort to include my husband in ALL my plans and to show my compliance to our security measures I send him another quick mail.
From: Anastasia Grey
Date: 16 November 2016 12: 22
To: Christian Grey
Dear husband of mine,
Kate has sent me an e-mail inviting us to Elliot’s company launch on Saturday the 26th of November. I’ve entered it into our diary.
She wants us to get together for a girl’s night out, this Thursday or Friday. I’d like your input and your blessing. I’m happy to comply with any reasonable security measures necessary.
Your amenable, considerate wife,
Author – Grey Publishing
With a click I shut my laptop lid and push away from my desk. Christian’s interview news and Kate’s enquiry about it has the event in the forefront of my mind. That, and Christian’s excitement about another baby, reminds me of all the change that’s to come. I feel like I should mark the occasion, get him a token that will symbolize this new chapter in our lives. I have a lovely idea of what to get him, now I just have to get security on board. It will be impossible to keep my gift a surprise if my overbearing husband grills me about my whereabouts.
The only thing left to do before Chris and I head home is to have a chat with Cindy. From my doorway I find her where she’s been stationed. She could easily be mistaken for a secretary, sitting behind the desk, just outside my door, but her desktop is linked to the GEH mainframe with a direct feed to all the security footage from the building and the immediate surrounds. In her ear is a tiny bud, the same color as her skin, keeping her in constant contact with Taylor or whoever else is on duty.
“Cindy, can we have a quick word in my office please?” I ask, standing just inside my doorway.
I can’t discount the possibility that Christian only stopped by to tell me about the FHM and the GQ spread, and that it just happened to be when Derek was here, but every spidey-sense I have tells me that he came here specifically to mark his territory.
“Sure thing Mrs. Grey,” she smiles, giving me a good dose of friendly eye contact, making me feel bad for doubting her.
“Have a seat,” I offer before taking my own behind my desk.
Even though Cindy is still new I’ve already built a comfortable camaraderie with her that I’m not keen to spoil. Christian has no problem barking orders and demanding answers when the time comes, I on the other hand, am troubled by this type of discussion.
Ill at ease I shift in my chair, “I have to ask you something and I need you to be straight with me,” I give her a pointed look; swallowing nervously.
The truth of the matter is that she could potentially lose her job if she reveals something she’s been asked to do covertly, especially if I go on an anti-spying rampage against Christian and his security team. It’s a lot to ask, and I’m all for keeping safe, but there’s a thick line drawn in the sand here as far as I’m concerned.
“Mrs. Grey,” she quips with a frown, tilting her head to one side in response to my serious expression, “I will always be straight with you. I don’t believe that I can do my job if you don’t trust me and I expect the same from you. Just shoot, tell me what’s on your mind.”
Wow, I think, straight to the point yet she manages to put me at ease.
Leaning back against my chair I fold my hands in my lap, “Okay,” I nod in agreement, mulling over her words, “is it part of your job description to spy on me?”
Her frown deepens, arrowing into her forehead, her gaze steady, and never leaving mine, “It is part of my job to report on your movements. If we go somewhere I have to let the team know when we get there, where we’re going,” she makes a rolling motion with her hand as if to say that sort of thing. “I keep a log of who you come into contact with, times of events, but I was under the impression that you understood and accepted the procedures in place.”
Again I nod, “Yes, I understand and agree to those terms, but I’m talking about more specific things,” I hate to cast Christian as the jealous husband, but I’m pretty sure she’ll figure that out for herself, “like say there’s a man in my company, are you obliged to report that immediately?”
Her whisky-brown eyes narrow at me, carefully taking stock as if she’s measuring me for something before she speaks, her voice low, “I was asked,” she pauses, taking in the fall of my face, “but I refused the terms. For me, that would have been a deal breaker. I was fully prepared to walk away from the job, lucky for me Taylor stepped in.”
Oh boy! Reading between the lines I know that Christian was the one insisting, and Taylor the voice of reason. I don’t miss the fact that she trusts me enough to share that potentially volatile piece of information.
“So today…” I start, hesitant to put my thoughts into words.
I hear her gasp, realization dawning, “Oh hell no!” she cries, conviction ringing clear as a bell, she shakes her head.
Relieved I let out a long breath, puffing my cheeks, “Okay. Good. Thank you.”
She inclines hear head to one side, a small smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, “You seem relieved,” she states, her bright eyes missing nothing.
“Yes. I am. I want to trust you, I want to keep Chris and myself out of harm’s way, it’s much easier to follow sometimes limiting, and stifling directives from someone you trust.”
“I’m glad to hear that Mrs. Grey. I feel the same way, that’s why I refused the spy gig. I’ll have much better luck keeping you safe if you cooperate.”
Her reply eases my trepidations, and provides the ideal opportunity to ask her to help me with the surprise gift I’d like to get Christian. It would be ideal if I can get her to agree to it today.
Friday night sees Kate and me ensconced in a booth at Christian’s Mile High club. I was pleasantly surprised that my overprotective husband allowed us to come out. Not only that, but in true Christian fashion, he delivered big time, organizing our evening down to making himself available as baby sitter, giving me some much needed one-on-one girl-time.
Carl and Cindy is nearby, their vigilant gazes subtly scanning, always alert, always on guard. For a night like this, a deal I was more than prepared to make.
We get treated to the whole nine yards, exceptional service, sublime food, the beautiful tinkling of the piano in the background, and of course each other’s company – uninterrupted. Already we’ve laughed, and scowled, wiped away a few stray tears, and then laughed again.
Kate is optimistic about their chances for conception, excited about Elliot’s business venture, and for the duration of her treatment, going to take it easy. Or so she claims. While Elliot is working on our renovation, he’ll also be overseeing the construction of their new family home.
The theme of changes seems to be running like a vein through our intertwined lives right now, feeding, growing new beginnings. With my whole being I hope, no, pray that all these little threads we’re trying to weave into the fabric of our lives will end up being a blanket of happiness.
The weekend is spent prepping for the break of Christian’s story. He contacts each of his previous subs explaining what’s about to happen, offering assurances that they wouldn’t be mentioned personally and a polite reminder of their mutual NDA’s. Then we tackled the tough conversation with our respective parents.
The Grey’s were surprisingly empathetic, and I suspect, know him well enough to understand the roots of his needs. My mom, and by association Bob, also took the news better than expected, but Ray was another story all together. As I child I was never spanked, Ray shying away from corporal punishment entirely. The notion of pain for pleasure goes against the very grain of his protective, fatherly instincts, so much so that Christian eventually took the phone from me, closed his study door and thrashed it out with my concerned dad for over an hour.
We head into the work week with the tension of the first step in our coming-out plan palpable. As always, Christian handles it much better than I do, and by Tuesday I’m a mess of raging nerves. Not only is the FHM blurb coming out today, but tomorrow, we have the interview for GQ with Ms. Cameron.
I’ve all but paced a trench into my office floor when Christian comes wandering into my corner of Grey Publishing with a copy of the magazine in his hand.
I gasp, without preamble rushing up to him, ripping the glossy from his hand, “Have you seen it?”
“No. Not yet. I wanted to share it with you,” he says dryly, chuckling at my impatience.
He comes up behind me, covering my back with his front as I paw through the pages to read the tiny paragraph. His hands rest on my shoulders, the weight of them comforting, grounding. I allow his touch to center me as I splay the double page spread for us to read, the headline, quirky enough to help settle my wildly racing heart.
Dom-dom: The movers and shakers that take charge in the boardroom and the boudoir
Each person is featured with a small photograph accompanied by a short, witty paragraph. Christian’s picture is a stock press shot, not taken for the express purpose of the article.
Christian Grey, CEO of Grey Enterprises, a major player in the innovative revolution for saving our planet, wielding his flogger much like he does his philosophy of life. With bold and fearless strokes that leaves you little choice but to submit to his formidable will. I know of more than a few ladies that are green with envy – much like Sir Grey’s vision for our earth – of his darling wife Anastasia. No doubt she’s the only one enjoying his licks of late.
I clamp my hand over my mouth, snorting, fighting back a bubbling fit of giggles, “That’s so, so… saucy!” I exclaim, laughing now.
With a small grin he shakes his head, amused, “That’s it. It’s done. No turning back now.” His words are somber, prompting me to turn in his arms.
I take his hands when they fall away to his sides, “Hey, I thought you were happy with this plan,” I breathe, scanning his chiseled face, so beautifully familiar.
The far-away look melts away as his gaze fuses with mine, “I am. It just feels strange, letting go of something so big.”
I can only imagine, I think, giving his hands a squeeze, “Are you feeling relieved?”
“Yes, but I sense there’s more to come. I think I’ll only get to appreciate the extent of it over time.”
Leaning forward he plants a tender kiss on my lips, chaste but packed with meaning, “Thank you Anastasia.”
The reverential note in his tone is moving, making me heart-stoppingly grateful that I had the stomach to see this decision through. Now, all I can hope for is that the fall-out will be manageable.
My face splits in two, my smile large with genuine joy, “You are so welcome.”
On Wednesday Chris and I stay home. I try to work while waiting for the stylist to arrive, but I can’t concentrate on anything. I can’t decide what I dread the most, the interview or the photo shoot.
I’m grateful to have the bubbly stylist to chat with when she finally shows up, her lighthearted banter cheerful and mindless. It is exactly what I need to keep my mind off probing questions from prize winning reporters.
When Christian comes home an hour later I join him for the shoot, while Gail watches Chris. The mock background, lighting, and reflective umbrellas looks small and out of place in the large space of the great room, but the photographer is skilled, just the type of professional you’d expect from a publication such as GQ. In no time he has us posing and laughing, I for one, forgetting myself completely.
Some pictures are taken with props like leather cuffs, while others are just the two of us in poses that scream dominance. It’s only closer to the end of the session that I start feeling nervous again when I spot Ms. Cameron watching us from the wings.
The moment the photographer tells us that he’s done, she steps forward, her arm stretched out in greeting, “Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey,” she croons in a husky voice, “It’s wonderful to meet you. Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview. You looked great out there,” she juts her chin towards the mock studio, her grin, as far as I can tell, sincere.
She looks just like the photo that accompanied her bio, curvaceous, sparkling brown eyes bright with intelligence, a very wide smile and a dark chestnut, A-symmetrical bob, very slick.
Christian takes the step forward, shaking her hand, giving her lots of confident eye contact. I, on the other hand, blush seven shades of red, stumbling through my mumbled welcome.
She gives me a sympathetic look, “Mrs. Grey, please call me Sasha and there’s no need to be nervous, I don’t bite unless you want me to.”
She finishes off her raspy jibe with an exaggerated wink, her joke putting me at ease.
This time my smile is less edge, more forthcoming, “Call me Ana please.”
Christian leads us to the sectional couch where we make ourselves comfortable while the photo crew pack up their gear. I serve drinks and light snacks from a tray that Gail prepared and left on the coffee table, listening to Sasha and Christian making small talk.
When she pops on her glasses, balancing them on the tip of her nose I see a whole other side of her. With her school mistress look I half expect her to haul out a note pad and pen, but she places a recording device on the table and sits back, comfortable in her own skin.
I’m surprised by the interview. Her questions are obviously prepared but she takes the time to really listen, adjusting her focus depending on how you respond. She’s relaxed, almost unobtrusive in her approach. I can see why someone carrying the heavy load of a dark secret would find it appealing to confide in her. Her voice never jars, never steals you away from your train of thought. She pauses in all the right places, waiting patiently for your words to come to her.
I smile to myself when she gets a few rare grins from Christian. She’s an outrageous flirt but somehow, what would be distasteful from somebody else, isn’t offensive from her. By the time she turns to me, I’m feeling much more confident than I did at the start of the interview. She has a way of zeroing in on what’s important to you, unlocking your passion about a subject, and I find myself chatting easily and passionately to her. I’m almost sorry when she calls it a wrap.
After Christian and I walk her out we flop back onto the couch, dissecting the interview to pieces, both of us pretty pleased with how it went. I’m more than a little relieved that it’s over. Now we wait.
Thursday afternoon I meet with Taylor and Christian to discuss the progress we’ve made with Chris’s adoption and Josè’s unwelcome interference. According to our lawyer he’s presented the judge with an order declaring biological paternity and the disestablishment process has begun. The judge will order Josè to surrender paternal rights if he refuses to withdraw his claim, but as is the case with all legal processes, it all takes time, and this is a monumental waste of it. I’m still finding it had to believe that Jose can be so deliberately vindictive.
When we leave Christian’s office his hand brackets the top of my arm, steering me to our bedroom, “Mrs. Grey, I need your help with something,” he breathes, offering no further clue as to what help he requires.
He leads me into the bathroom before spinning me around to face him, “Baby, your period is due tomorrow so it’s time for us to do a pregnancy test.”
I splutter; shocked as ever that my husband knows more about my cycle than I do. I must admit that it’s slipped my mind, but after a quick mental calculation I have to concede that he’s correct.
Blinking I stare up at him, “Uhm. Okay. I don’t have a test.”
He steps away from me, reaching for the counter before handing me not one, not two but three tests, “I’ve got you babe,” he says, a look of pride in his mercury eyes.
Of course, I think, a single test would just not do. I must be the only woman in the world whose husband goes to a drug store with the sole purpose of purchasing pregnancy tests without being prompted by his nagging wife.
“Okay,” I flush, taking the boxed sticks from him.
Christian cups my face, his gaze soft, heated, “Good girl,” he whispers, a tiny smile playing on the full curve of his lips.
I stand nodding; waiting for him to leave but her leans back, resting his behind against the vanity counter, folding his arms across his chest. When he gives me an encouraging smile I realize that he’s staying to be with me EVERY step of the way.
“Uhm, no. I’m not doing this in front of you. I’ll do my thing, then you can come in and wait with me,” I clarify, my voice brooking no argument.
Mercifully he hears it, hesitating only for a moment before backing out, “I’ll be right outside the door. Come get me the moment you’re done.”
“I promise, now please leave,” grinning I shoo him out the door, shaking my head at his intrusive interest in all my intimate workings.
Alone in the bathroom I contemplate the outcome of the next five minutes, wondering how things will play out for us, and more importantly, how Christian will handle a negative result. With a sigh I open the boxes, laying everything out on the counter before taking the sample cup to the toilet.
Once I’ve filled the plastic cup I dip the tips of the sticks onto the sample and lay them out on top of their respective boxes, the test windows facing up. I wash my hands then turn to fetch Christian.
Be kind and review, please.