Christian returns with a tablet, his easygoing mood shelved for the time being as he swipes through the contents of his inbox to find the digital version of what he tells me is the complete planned look and layout for the article.
He places the tablet on the counter then pulls me into the half-moon of his arms, my back to his chest so he can look over my shoulder. Briefly I wonder if he can hear my drumming heart when he sweeps my hair out of the way, resting his cheek against mine.
With his arm securing me to his form we read Ms. Cameron’s words. Line by line I feel my breath returning, my heart slowing to a comfortable beat as her perfect pitch filters through. It is exactly what I had in mind, only better. It has just the right amount of truth, giving it enough edge to make it feel revealing, intimate, but deliciously titillating, enough to distract your thoughts from the fact that there’s a potential question of darkness that could spell all kinds of trouble for us.
Looking at the accompanying photographs I try to put myself in the reader’s shoes, asking myself what we would look like, how we would come across to them, without the sobering background information I have. This time my skipping heart misses a beat because I feel the tantalizing waves of kinky, sheet clawing sex rolling off the pages, I get drawn in by this power couple that seems to have it all, and ideal for people to live up to, and finally the reality dawning of Christian really being free of this burdensome ticking time bomb.
Any apprehension I had pales compared to the freedom this will buy Christian, and my inner girls are ecstatic, hugging cheek to cheek, jumping up and down on the spot, and reveling in the tactical foresight we had for outmaneuvering any future blackmail attempts.
With a flinch I’m startled from my mental back slapping by Christian’s sudden gritted expletive, “No fucking way! Over my damned dead body!”
“What’s wron…” I start, speculating about what I could have missed, and turning to face him.
His angry bark cuts me off, “You’re fucking naked! And you look… You look so, so… Jeez!” He exclaims, clearly riled, rubbing his forehead with his thumb and forefinger.
Gaping I stare, annoyance eating into my joy like a worm, “What do I look like?” I ask incredulously, wondering whether he even noticed that he’s shirtless in more than one of the pictures, his gorgeous, sculpted torso putting Michelangelo’s David to shame; and on full display for the world’s female populace to drool over.
Stepping back from me he fists his hips, a scowl darkening the angry planes of his stunning face, “You look fucking gorgeous!” he spits in disbelief, as if it were an accusation.
“It will be a cold day in hell before I let the world see you like that. Let them see what’s mine! And you’re pregnant for fuck’s sake!”
I gasp, “What does being pregnant have to do with anything?” Stupidly my focus shifts to that tiny point in his argument rather than the larger issue at hand.
Christian blinks at me, still scowling, “You. Are. Naked,” he hisses, ignoring my question and reacting as if he wasn’t with me when the pictures were taken under his exacting, directing standards.
He also seems to be forgetting that I was never nude, not for a single second. The photographer was extremely patient with Christian’s overbearing insistence on my modesty. The poor man must’ve used every trick in the book to create the illusion of my nudity.
Without thinking I roll my eyes, unable to believe that we’re having an argument over a photo shoot that he agreed to, “You know perfectly well I was never naked! It mostly just my back for heaven’s sake! I have dresses that show more skin than this.”
In a long, sure stride his body is against mine, trapping me against the kitchen counter. His hand fists the hair in the nape of my neck, tilting my head up. It’s not painful but such an over-the-top dominant move that my whole world suddenly shrinks to focus sharply on just him. It feels as though my entire being sparks to life, the sub in me instantly recognizing the commanding beast it wants to surrender to.
Holy fuck! I remember this…
He cups my breast, covering my pebbled nipple. Almost immediately the tight tips yearn for the bite of a gentle clamp.
His mouth is inches away from mine, his gaze inked, darkened with possession, “Did you just roll your eyes at me Mrs. Grey?” he coaxes is a panty meltingly low voice, seductive in its deception, hiding the current of anger I sense within him.
I am breathless, lightheaded with shock at my body’s reaction to Dom Christian and utterly unable to reply. Up to this moment, I now realize, we’ve only flirted with our kinky past. We haven’t even scratched the surface of the arresting play we used to have in the Red Room of Pain, and I have all but forgotten the high that comes with submitting to the skill of a man with a firm hand.
He inclines his head to one side, like he wants to kiss me, “Hmmm?” he purrs, “And all because I want to keep what is mine?”
Roughly his hand travels away from my bereft breast, finding the curve of my ass instead that he grips with bruising strength.
I blink, near wild with desire and my lips part as my senses drink in the animal before me, my mind still too caught up in the scene to respond.
A sinful grin tugs his full mouth into a curve, utterly at ease in his role, and acutely aware of my reaction to him, “I may have been a tad distracted during the shoot Mrs. Grey. I had my semi-naked wife in my arms half the time, but now that I’ve seen the results I’m not willing to share,” he informs me, the addition of the word semi his only concession to my argument.
In his arms like this, at his mercy and under his command, I will never win this debate, and despite being enthralled by his little power play, my rational brain is screaming at me to make him see the importance of letting the article go out as is.
Coming back to my senses, I skate my hands up his chest, resting both palms on his pectoral muscles, and close the tiny distance between our heated lips. With every feminine fiber I have I kiss him, tenderly, reverentially, deeply, cajoling his mouth into a gentle meeting of tongues, a kiss filled with love. It only takes a few seconds for him to relax into me, his arms folding around me, and pulling me closer.
When we come up for air the hard line of his shoulders is gone, that breathless predator is calmed and I’m faced with my slightly more reasonable husband looking a little dazed.
I have to hide my smile and the knowledge that I’m beginning to learn how to tame him when necessary, but I can’t deny that a very big part of me is aching to be dragged to the Red Room by my hair, and fucked into submission in every creative and contorting way Christian can come up with, however now is not the time. There is simply too much at stake and I refuse to be out sexed by my own husband, but I make a mental note to return to my Red Room ponderings a little later.
“Mr. Grey, as always you make a very impressive case, but please hear me out,” I’m in full ego-preserving mode, asking rather than demanding because right now the swirl of arousal around us is too volatile for aggression, and I want it to work for me, not against me.
I take his reluctant capitulation when he nods, his expression changing to indulgent, and build my argument with the type of logic that even he couldn’t fault, “Christian, the slant of this is absolutely perfect. It’s precisely what I envisioned the first time I mentioned it to you. The edgy sexiness is vital for the success of the article. It gives the reader just enough wicked juiciness to sink their teeth into. If you remove that aspect you’re left with what will seem like a pompous couple seeking attention for some meaningless altruism. The last thing you want is to antagonize your readers, to give them a reason to cast it into a dirty light, sensationalizing it into something it’s not.”
For a full minute he digests my words, staring at me as if he’s trying to see into my mind, to untangle the threads of my deepest thoughts.
When he speaks it’s with a barrage of fresh points of contention, “But the reporter basically makes it sound like we were flirting, and she’s not shy to admit that the interaction turned her on. Doesn’t that bother you? Fuck knows Anastasia, don’t expect my tolerance for shit like that where you’re concerned. And you look naked!” he counters, but mercifully not dismissing the whole thing, “Hot and naked!” he adds for good measure, fisting his hips once more, annoyance coloring his visage again.
“It would have bothered me very much if I wasn’t there with you, if I was left to wonder about it but like us, she is playing a part in order to convey the mood of the interview, and frankly Christian, a woman would have to be dead not to react to you in some way. I have to deal with that reaction every day when I’m with you. Waitresses, sales staff, even my mother simpers when you’re around. And much as I love and accept being yours in every way, you’re being unreasonable about the pictures. No one is going to look at it and believe that we were actually naked.”
He steps closer to me, brushing my hair behind my ear, and running the back of his knuckles along my jaw.
In that way of his he zeros in on only one tiny detail of my whole statement, always ready to offer every reassurance, “Baby, you know I only see you right?” he asks, his tone gentle, and his gaze soft with concern.
I place my hand over his, leaning into his reverent touch, “I know Christian. That’s precisely why this isn’t a big deal. Don’t forget that this whole thing came from me. I want us to do this. I want what we can gain by putting it out there. It may be a little salacious but it goes with the territory of the context, and it’s a deliciously satisfying read exactly the way it is right now. I want you to give GQ the go ahead and publish it as is.”
He narrows his eyes at me, still not entirely convinced, “You really are okay with it?”
I muster every ounce of radiance, packing it all into my beaming smile, “I’m more than okay with it Christian. I want you to publish it. Let’s be free of this, let’s be done with it.”
Again I get his mind reading stare as he works through whatever possible scenarios his clever head can conjure up.
“Okay,” he finally breathes, nodding his head in a way that makes me think that he’s still not entirely on board.
I broaden my smile, encouraging him, “Yes?” I ask, a little tentatively.
His nod becomes surer as conviction finds purchase in his mind, “Okay, let’s do it but you handle Ms. Cameron and her flirtatious ways from here on out,” he quips, a small grin teasing his mouth.
Giggling I hug him, “Deal!” I cheer, “Thank you Christian, we’re doing the right thing, you’ll see.”
He hugs me back, kissing the top of my head, “I hope you’re right Mrs. Grey. Nothing is worth losing you over.”
After sending Ms. Cameron’s confirmation e-mail along with the signed copy of our release documents I go in search of Chris but run into Gail, “Ah, just the woman I need,” I smile, my voice turning conspiring, “I wonder if I can ask you to help me with a little project I want to start?”
For a few minutes we discuss what I need from her before my ringing phone pulls me away from our conversation, the insistent tone making it impossible to ignore in the echoing confines of the passageway.
I bid Mrs. Taylor a good night before taking my sister-in-law’s call, “Mia! How are you?”
Without a greeting or preamble she starts, her voice threaded with panic, “Ana!” She cries, “I don’t know what to do! Do you think I should go to Kate and Elliot’s function on Saturday knowing that Ethan will be there? What if he brings a date? What if he ignores me?”
“Whoa! Slow down there Mia,” I interrupt, my mind already getting the gist of her problem.
I hear her taking a calming breath, and blowing it out in an attempt to center herself.
Taking the sound as my cue, I interject a good dose of reassurance into my lilt, “Okay, let’s tackle this from a logical angle first,” I suggest while finding a comfortable seat to settle into, and not for the first time since baby making began, long for a glass of cold, crisp wine.
“Firstly, not going is out of the question. Elliot is your brother. If you don’t your absence will be screaming all sorts of messages you don’t necessarily want to send, but I think taking a date would be a very good idea.”
“A date? Really?” she asks, sounding dubious.
“Yes. Not a real date, but a close friend you can trust to talk you off the ledge for the evening. It would be even better if Elliot knew him and the nature of your relationship.”
“Okay,” she breathes, carefully following my pattern of thinking, “I have someone in mind.”
“Good,” I praise, “and are you sure Elliot won’t think that there’s a romantic connection between the two of you?”
Mia laughs, a bubbling giggle, “Yes, I’m positive! Theo might be a guy but he has more estrogen than you and me put together.”
“That’s perfect,” I grin, “give him some background information if he doesn’t already know the story, and make sure he keeps you busy so you don’t feel all wall flower if Ethan does turn up with a date.”
“Check gay date. Check keeping myself out of wallowing pit of self-pity. Right, what else?”
“Aww, there’s the Mia I know and love,” I tease, pleased that she seems to feel better now that we’re talking and coming up with a plan.
After a little pause I continue, “Then get that cute behind of yours waxed, and peeled, and plucked, and looking one hundred and fifty percent gorgeous! Ideally we want Ethan’s jaw to drop. Once we’ve managed to get his eyes glued to you, you mingle in your best I-don’t-need-a-man-to-be-happy way, and be your charming, chirpy self.”
“Look foxy, be charming and chirpy. Got it,” she quips, ticking off items from her mock list.
Again I laugh, enjoying her sense of humor, “That’s your part done. I’ll send Ethan an e-mail to see if I can get a feel for where he is emotionally right now. We can re-strategize when I have more info.”
She lets out another long breath, suddenly turning serious, “Thank you Ana. You’re the best sister-in-law a girl can ask for.”
I blush, touched by her admission and the sincerity ringing through her gratitude, “Oh Mia, you’re welcome but you’d do the same for me. I would love to see you and Ethan together and happy!”
“Me too Ana. Me too.”
Once Christian and I’ve put Chris to bed I make my way to the library to fire off some e-mails to Kate and Ethan, but just as I start to type the chat bubble of my e-mail program pops up with an instant message from Kate.
Hi Ana. How are you? Elliot is so psyched for the launch. It’s going to be fun!
I smile, feeling the warm glow of friendship in the history that binds us. There is something very precious about not having to explain yourself to someone because they already know the length and the breadth of you, and I have that with Kate.
Hi Kate. All good, looking forward to celebrating with you. I was just about to e-mail you! What’s your take on the Mia/Ethan situation?
Ug! Silly, silly brother of mine and his silly ideas about love. He needs a kick up the behind. Mia is perfect for him! He just needs to pull his head out of his backside to see it! Why do you ask?
You know that Mia still wants him right?
Yeah, I suspected as much. She goes all quiet when I mention him. She should just march her ass over to him and drag him to her bed by his collar!
LOL! Do you think that will work??
It would if he wasn’t such a scaredy cat!
I can’t help but giggle. Only a loving sister can talk about her brother like that, but I think she’s touched on the heart of the matter with Ethan. Since having his heart broken he guards it with a ridiculous fierceness. This whole family thing he pushed Mia away with is just another excuse.
Do you know if he’s bringing a date?
Oh shit! I was supposed to organize someone for him. He’s not seeing anyone but he doesn’t want to go alone. These damn hormones make me so forgetful!
Oops! It’s the day after tomorrow! Do you have someone in mind?
Is Mia bringing someone?
Yes. I told her to. She’s bringing a gay friend, someone that Ethan also knows.
Ahh. Good plan. Support without the threat! No, I don’t have someone in mind but I think I have an idea!
Great! Tell me! What can I do to help?
Nothing, just backup my story….
I’m on IVF! If I can’t use crazy hormones as an excuse for now, when will I ever get the chance again??
Katherine Agnes Kavanagh Grey! What unholy thing are you up to?
Aww, these hormones, they make me so forgetful Ethan. I’m so sorry but it completely slipped my mind. You’ll be fine without a date! Oh look, there’s Mia!
I laugh hard, more than a little shocked at her deviousness.
That’s a stunt only a sister can pull and be forgiven for, but I have to admit that it would be perfect!
I’ll handle my brother, you handle Mia. Let’s get this love on the road already.
I second that! Good luck with the arrangements for Saturday and can you clear five minutes for me when we get there? I need to talk to you about something.
Thanks and you betcha! See you Saturday xoxo
See you Kate, and thanks xx
Between us we can at very least create the most ideal situation for Mia and Ethan to rebuild the bridges between them, but what they do with the opportunity will be up to them. Maybe during the night I can have a little word with Ethan about letting love slip through your fingers, share my cautionary tale seeing that I’m the queen of failed starts.
Knowing how anxious Mia must be feeling I type out a quick e-mail for her:
From: Anastasia Grey
Date: 24 November 2016 22:38
To: Mia Grey
I’ve enlisted Kate’s help for operation hook-Mia-up. She too is a supporter of the Ethan and Mia alliance. Ethan will not be attending the launch party with a date so you have a clear path for winning him back. I repeat, Ethan will be date-less! Bring your friend as deflection as discussed, and be combat ready in your finest armour.
Let the battle for his heart begin!
We can touch base closer to the time to further discuss strategy.
I’m excited for them, excited for Elliot and Kate, but I dread telling her about our impending baby joy. I’m sure Christian will share the news with his parents and siblings on Saturday, and I would rather Kate be prepared for the news beforehand.
With my mixed emotions I go to find Christian to drag him to bed with me. After our day, and our news I need to be in my husband’s arms. There is also the steady hum of desire that’s been thrumming through my veins since this afternoon’s close encounter with my real Dom to take care of. Not the watered down version he’s been carefully coddling me with, but the stance-changing, command-barking, super-charged version that I got to know and trust when we first met.
In my mind I’m still trying to find a way to open the door to the Red Room without sending Christian running for the hills in fear of losing me or stirring up old demons that he would rather forget. What was abundantly clear to me from this afternoon’s exchange was that the Dom role is as natural to him as breathing, and that he slipped into it without a second thought if the barrier of his mind didn’t stop him from doing so. To me, that is clear evidence that it’s something he needs even if he’s not prepared to admit it to himself.
True to form Christian is more than happy to accommodate my need but instead of the kinky, lust heated jackhammering I’m after, my husband makes love to me with slow worshipfulness that conveys every ounce of his delight with the pregnancy. His body covers mine in the missionary position, his gaze boring into me, pouring out his love for me, his hands roam with tenderness and adoration, his mouth slants over mine with lazy, deep licks, as he pushes himself into me, slowly swiveling his hips to feel me on all sides, stretching me with his delicious girth, and making me come repeatedly with long drawn out moans of pleasure before allowing himself the ecstasy of release.
Afterwards he pulls me into his arms, twines himself around me like a vine and falls asleep with his hand resting on my belly. Amazing as his bedroom skills are, I miss our serious kinky, and our Red Room fun. I want to coax him back into it sooner rather than later and I can’t think of a better time than now.
With all the newness of finding our way as a fledgling family, and now with the addition of another member, as well as the uncertainties regarding the article, not to mention Jose with all the horrible implications of that situation, I believe that it will cement our relationship even further, deepen the ties that will ultimately help us weather the storms that always seems to be brewing on the horizon of our lives.
Finally I fall asleep with a vague plan for getting Christian to express his kinky self forming in my head, just as my husband’s rhythmic breathing soothes me. Tomorrow will be another big day where we get to confirm my pregnancy with a blood test and maybe even have our first scan. I cannot wait to see Christian’s face when he catches the first glimpse of the precious live we’ve created together.
Be kind and review, please.