Turning the handle I feel a frisson of excitement, threaded through with a strong current of fear. If I’m not pregnant will Christian blame me? If round one of baby making was undertaken with the military precision of a war, what would round two look like? Will I be joining Kate at the fertility clinic?
My mind wanders to thoughts of the gift I got Christian. I was planning on giving it to him on the release day of the GQ article, but suddenly it seems important I do it now, before we know the results of the pregnancy tests.
When I open the door he catches me around the waist, lifting me off the floor and spinning us around, beaming at me before heading right back into the bathroom.
I giggle, at his mercy, and taken in by his excitement, “Wait! Just wait a minute, I need to get something!”
“Everything you need is right here baby,” he counters, his voice slow and low, warm as he presses my body to his.
The truth of his words strikes me. My whole world is with him and Chris, and maybe baby number two. In the big scheme of things there is very little else that matters.
Smiling broadly I drop a kiss on his mouth, “You’re right,” I breathe, drilling him with my clear blue stare, “you and Chris are everything to me, but I have something to give you before we look at those sticks.”
With my chin I jab in the direction of the waiting tests.
The way his face lights up is just spectacular, like a child at Christmas. I love how Fifty – in all his shades – can still be so innocently expressive with me.
After a smacking kiss he puts me down, turning me by the shoulders and spanks my behind, sending me out the door, “Then don’t make me wait Mrs. Grey!”
Laughing I scuttle into our bedroom, retrieving the tiny little box from my nightstand. It may be small but what it lacks in size it makes up for in binding sentiment. It’s my way of leaving my own print of possession on Christian every day.
Back in the bathroom I’m impressed that Christian is waiting for me, with his back to the tests – albeit impatiently – hopping from one foot to the other. I’ve never seen him buzzing like this, bustling with restless energy. If anything, his demeanor is usually a study of carefully leashed control.
He smiles when I enter, his mercury gaze falling on the tiny ox-blood velvet box in my hand, and his body goes still. I love how, in spite of the fact that he’s dying to know the results of the tests, he gives me his full attention, his undivided, sharp focus.
Reaching for his hand as it rests by his side I place the domed box in his palm, sandwiching his hand between my own.
It takes me a minute to formulate the words. There is so much to convey and I want to express myself clearly, say everything I know he loves to hear from me, simply because he deserves it, but also because it’s true.
Lifting my gaze I find his eyes searching my face, his expression serious, always so in tune with the levity of my emotions, “Christian, when we got married again I never had a chance to pick a ring for you. I wanted to do that, for you to wear something you knew I chose, but also because this one bears a mark of me.”
I drop my hands, giving him an encouraging smile, letting him open the box for himself, and allowing gift to speak the words that seem inadequate. I’m not sure why I’m so nervous. This is exactly the type of gesture that would touch him because he would understand the act of possession behind it, the claim I’m staking.
I watch him, looking for the changes to wash over his beautifully expressive face, making sure I sear his reactions into my memory. It’s moments like these that make up the bank of recollections we look back on and count ourselves blessed, happy.
His eyes brighten, the mercury changing to a luminous silver in recognition of the platinum wedding band before a small frown darts his brow. Intrigued he tilts his head lifting the promise from its snug slit, inspecting the swirling lines on the surface. His gasp is the final and most gratifying of his responses, the significance of the ring and its design hitting home.
His gaze pins mine, fierce with something much more than love, “Are… are these yours?” he asks, referring to the fingerprint relieved on the plane of the precious metal.
I swallow, then smile, nodding dumbly. I should have anticipated his intense reaction, but instead I’m blown away by the depth of his feelings.
“Ana,” he breathes with a raspy catch in his voice, his being vibrating with a sudden urgency.
Dropping the box on the floor he presses the ring into my hand. In another fluid motion he pulls off the current one, stuffs it into his pants pocket – rather unceremoniously – before holding out his slightly trembling left hand to me.
“Please. Put it on for me.” There’s no mistaking the imploring note in his voice, the edge of near desperation to wear my gift, to submit to the symbolism of it’s never ending mortal commitment.
With our pregnancy tests momentarily forgotten, and looking into my impossibly beautiful husband’s burning grey eyes, I slip it on, his inhalation making a soft hissing sound, almost as if it hurts.
“Mine,” I murmur, breathless with the race of my heart before I lean forward to seal the symbol of our bond with a kiss where it’s banded around his finger.
Without so much as a blink, his gaze glowing with love, he pulls me into him, our bodies flush.
“Mine,” he repeats, all but growling when he mirrors my gesture, also pressing my ring to his lips.
Not a second later his mouth is on mine, the I love you that was on the tip of my tongue swept away by a kiss so ferocious it would have knocked me from my feet if it wasn’t for Christian’s strong embrace.
The kiss speaks of his dominance, of the tremendous force of his will, and the unremitting love he holds in the vast space of his infinitely loving heart, but most of all, it screams his yield to my tenure, to my title as his wife that I’m beginning to claim more and more aggressively.
Captured in the moment of this full-circle journey we’ve traveled, clarity filters through my loved-up haze. For me to possess him and to express that ownership – in any which way – is equally, if not more important to him than his possession of me. It makes me revel in the firm fit of his mouth, the velvet stroke of his tongue deep into mine. I thrill knowing that I can give him this, such a simple thing that has such a profound effect on him, and along with the reiteration of my wedding vows that he now wears on his finger, I promise myself to show him more often.
He groans coming away from me, his chest rising and falling rapidly with his quickened breaths, “I love you,” he grits, utterly consumed with sentiment.
With my hands I frame his face, loving the familiarity of the contours beneath my heated palms, “I love you more.”
Beaming with more than just my smile I look at him, drinking in his own besotted grin.
“Thank you,” he says earnestly before dropping kiss on my forehead, his large hands cupping my jaw with a tenderness I feel in my soul.
I lean into his touch, tapping his chest with my finger, and in-time with my words, “You. Are. So. Welcome.”
Chuckling he presses me close again, holding me tightly. For minutes we stand like that, just being together, taking our fill of being completely happy before the next, inevitable wild ride of our lives throw us for a loop.
“So Mr. Grey, I’m fairly sure our five minutes of waiting is over. Are you feeling brave enough to face the state of my hormones?” I ask, my cheek still pressed to his chest.
I find his lips curved with a distinctive bow of confidence when I look up, “A mere formality Mrs. Grey,” he quips, his mercurial mood shifts making way for cocky Christian.
I laugh, my head thrown back, “Oh boy, I hope Mother Nature isn’t going to bite you on the ass!”
His hand makes a smacking sound as he slaps it against the curve of my butt, taking a big grab of cheek, “Pfft,” he dismisses, “Mother Nature loves me, and if anybody is going to bite anybody’s ass it will be me – biting yours!” he warns with a low, teasing, voice, wriggling his eyebrows playfully.
I shake my head, giggling and snake my arm around his waist, “Shall we see what she has to say about that?”
With me tucked to his side we take the few steps to the vanity together, my heart suddenly bouncing in my chest. I suck in a breath and hold it, peering over the neat row of boxes. I’ve never done this, apart from the times with Dr. Greene, and then she interpreted the results. I’m pretty sure this is a first for Christian also.
At the exact same time our heads turn towards each other, questioning eyes locking for a brief moment before swinging back to the results on display. I feel Christian’s grip tighten around my waist, his fist bunching into the fabric of my top. Blood rush to my head, the thrum of it sounding in my ears as my vision blurs with shock.
Surreal. That’s the only way I can describe it when Christian picks me up, arms banding around my thighs, his gaze wondrous as he spins us around the bathroom.
“Whoo-hoo!” he whoops, uncharacteristically joyous, his face painted with ecstatic elation.
My head is spinning. In my wildest dreams I didn’t imagine that it would happen so fast, that his overzealous baby-making strategies would pay off. I’m stunned, struck mute, and feeling faint.
My sub conscious has her hands fisted I her hips, her winged spectacles perched on the tip of her nose and wearing her disapproval like a mask. How can you agree to making a baby then be surprised when you get pregnant? She scolds, tsking loudly.
Next to her my inner goddess has stuffed a pillow under her shirt, the bulge looking very much like a pregnant one. With a serene expression she’s sat in an earth mother pose, her hands stroking lovingly over the swell of her mock belly.
Lately I’ve been so at one with my inner girls that I’ve barely noticed them, making their appearance now all the more jarring. I’m pregnant, I think to myself, trying the words out in my head.
Dumbly I stare into Christian’s animated face, my mind racing with the implications and a hefty dose of fear. What if it’s too soon? What if it’s too much, too hard for him to cope with sharing me with a newborn? What if our sex life dies and Christian seeks another outlet? How would he handle a screaming baby at 2:00am?
In sharp contrast to my warring thoughts, his eyes are utterly calm despite his jubilant expression, and it’s just that unruffled composure that breaks through my shell of shock, cracking my face with a smile as I let his joyful acceptance flow over me, helping me find my own certainty in the conviction of the love we share.
“We’re pregnant baby!” he marvels, wide eyes gazing at me like he’s never seen me before.
I nod, looking down at my ecstatic husband, any words I could say jamming with emotion in my throat.
“We. Are. Pregnant!” he chirps again, his voice firmer, even more confident now as the sure knowledge settles in his mind.
Loosening his hold he lets me slide down his body before catching me in an enormous bear-hug.
“You’re so happy,” I blurt, stating the obvious because I’m so overcome by his reaction.
He grabs me by the shoulders, pushing me back just enough to search my face, “I’m overjoyed baby. I feel like running through the building and telling the neighbors! Thank you Anastasia.”
He’s so earnest, so beautifully grateful; I can’t help the burn of tears hitting the back of my throat. Blinking rapidly I try to hold them back but they spill anyway, contradicting the broad smile on my face. Of course Christian notices despite my best efforts to wipe them away. My weak you’re welcome is only a dry croak.
Taking over he brushes his thumbs across my cheeks, concern stealing a bit of his cheer, “I’m hoping these are happy tears baby,” he says carefully, looking for signs of distress.
I’m about to nod when it hits me. Emotion, like a tsunami, crashes over me, a tidal wave of realization so big it knocks the air from my lungs. This was the moment, five years ago, when I made the decision to run, making the mistake of my life. To cut my losses, guard my fragile, naive heart and shatter Christian’s into a thousand pieces.
Right here, right now I have been blessed with not only a second chance, but a husband who wants this more than anything. Full circle indeed, I think to myself as I fill with an immeasurable load of gratitude.
“So happy Christian. So very, very happy to share this with you, for the opportunity to make up for the stupid things I did,” clutching the collar of his shirt, I watch him, my blue eyes sincere, imploring him to hear me, to believe me.
When his mouth crushes mine I give myself over to the sensation of being loved, and bask in the undeserved forgiveness he gives me so freely.
Throughout the evening, whenever I look, I find Christian’s gaze on me, his eyes tracking my every move, intent. I feel it on me like a caress. I’m beginning to get an inkling of what this pregnancy is going to be like with my overbearing husband at the helm. Already it’s clear that I will have to manage him carefully.
When I prepare my cup of tea after dinner he comes up behind me, sliding his arms around me, and resting a protective hand on my lower abdomen.
“Baby, why don’t you rather have the Chamomile tea? The English Breakfast tea contains over 3% caffeine,” he informs me, the tiny current of disapproval in his voice evident even though he phrased his censure as a question.
I take a deep breath before turning to face him, and rest my palms on his broad chest, “Mr. Grey, need I remind you that I’ve done this before? In utero Chris enjoyed the occasional cup of tea with me, and he turned out fine. I’ll certainly make the necessary concessions for the baby’s health but you can’t be looking over my shoulder. I love that you want what’s best for us, but both mommies and developing babies are much tougher than you think.”
He opens his mouth to speak but then shuts it again, offering his hands in a gesture of surrender instead. Nodding he backs away, cocking his hip against the counter. Not that I’m fooled by his easy acquiescence, I know he’ll just come up with another way to make me comply, but until then, I’m putting my little foot down.
Changing the subject he steers us away from the potential minefield of good pregnancy practices, “When do you think we should tell our patents?” he asks casually, but I can tell that he’s all but bursting to share our wonderful news.
I smile to myself, enjoying his boyish excitement, “As soon as we confirm the results with a blood test, I’m happy for us to tell everyone.”
“Great! I’m onto it,” he quips, his beam never far from his face.
From his pocket he extracts his phone and with a few quick sweeps and taps he secures me an appointment with a doctor. Only for a moment do I wonder if he chose and vetted an obstetrician/gynecologist to wait in the wings for the arrival of our happy news before I realize that I would be surprised if he didn’t.
I don’t even bother asking, I simply lean closer and press a gentle kiss to his cheek, “Thank you,” I grin, knowing that it will be the best care money can buy.
For the first time I recognize that, even though he goes overboard, he does it with the best of intentions, personally making an effort to be hands-on and involved.
“Oh,” he says, suddenly pushing away from the counter, “I got the draft of the GQ article today. Do you want to take a look at what Ms. Cameron wrote about us? It needs our approval before they can publish.”
My heart is back doing its slam against my ribs thing, “Wow. Okay,” I breathe, feeling less enthusiastic than I sound.
I wonder what Christian will do if it’s not what he expected. Would he pull the whole thing or edit the article? He was very apprehensive about the pictures the photographer took; especially the ones that made me look nude.
Turning on his heel he heads to his office to find the article that could potentially change everything….
Be kind and review, please.