It doesn’t surprise me when Christian declares that he’s cleared his morning to join me at the obstetrician’s, and that he’s had the foresight to arrange an eager Mia’s to baby-sit Chris when she announces herself with a squeal of delight, running up to my baby boy, and lifting him high.
Chris – of course – is equally delighted to see his favorite aunt, wasting no time to share his playing plans with her, and by the sounds of it, she’s in for a very busy morning. When she puts him down she barely has enough time to greet us before he drags her away, his little-boy voice pitched with excited chatter.
In the kitchen Christian captures me around the waist, pulling my back to his front, his lips brushing my ear before he speaks, “Mrs. Grey I cannot wait to see this little bean,” he breathes, splaying a warm hand on my lower belly.
I smile despite the small voice in the back of my mind that warns of being overly confident. With all of Kate’s pregnancy blues I can’t help the frisson of fear threading through my baby joy. This miraculous little life is already as fragile as it is strong – pitted against all sorts of odds that leave you marveling at the fact that any of us survive at all.
Covering Christian’s hand with my own I lean into him, “It is exciting. Hearing the baby’s heartbeat for the first time, looking at that grainy picture, and then wrapping your mind around the fact that there is a life growing inside of you, a life that you made. It’s…”
My words fade as a lump swells in my throat, my dry swallow protesting against the well of emotion that’s hit me from nowhere. Stupidly I went through all of that heartbroken and alone.
Stupid, stupid, stupid!
Christian’s arm around me tightens, like an instinctual reflex to my nose-diving mood, “Make it up to us now,” he whispers urgently, his grasp of the way my minds works as firm as his hold is on everything else in our lives.
Even the way he phrases it is intentionally designed to elicit my attention, issuing a challenge like that, and keeping me in the moment, here with him, and not off in the land of regret where I naturally want to go.
I’ve lost count of the moments like this I’ve had since that day in Miami. Of times when I’ve felt awash with guilt, flooded with feelings of worthlessness, yet here I am, in the arms of the man I love. And more importantly, he loves me back – blindly it seems. This is exactly the type of scene that Dr. Flynn and I have dissected to death, and now I hear his words rattling around in my brain: out with the guilt, and in with taking new paths, not building on the past, but building a future. Finally my many hours of therapy comes into play as my minds halts at the verge of its usual pattern of thinking, reconsidering its direction.
Focusing on the wonderful things I have, the second chance I’ve been given and what I can do to make it right, I take a deep breath, steeled to make it perfect the second time around – for Christian, and for us.
Turning to face him I cup the sides of his angled jaw to pull his mouth to mine. My lips meet his bearing the message of my determination. With a deep kiss I mark my commitment to stay in the here and now, and not to dwell.
When our lips part I find my husband’s gaze with a beaming smile, but his stormy eyes and slow blinking lids quickly has me biting my lip and squirming restlessly in his locked embrace. Involuntarily I shiver, thrilling in the way he shows me how I affect him. If the hard set of his instant erection pressing prominently against my belly wasn’t enough, his expression leaves me absolutely certain that he’d devour me on the spot if it wasn’t for Taylor clearing his throat behind us.
“Mr. Grey, the nurse is here,” he announces in that measured tone of his that never betrays an ounce of emotion.
Huh? Nurse? I wonder.
On his heel Christian pivots, facing Taylor with his normal, professional demeanor firmly in place, his lust-heated look shelved in an instant while I’m still colored with every shade of red, “Thank you Taylor. Can you please show her in?”
Christian’s mischievous grin finds my questioning brow when Taylor leaves to carry out his instruction, “I’m taking a rain check on the ravishing Mrs. Grey – just so you know,” he purrs, winking at me and squeezing a handful of my butt, “but I’ve arranged for the laboratory to send a nurse to do your quantitative blood test now so we can have the results by the time we see the Doctor.”
Oh! I think, taken aback only for a second before I’m forced to admit what a clever husband I have, always thinking ahead.
Just as expected Christian has Seattle’s top Ob/Gyn at his beck and call. When we arrive at Dr. Malone’s swanky offices, conveniently located in a wing of specialist suites within the hospital, there is no waiting for us, no forms to fill out, just a friendly receptionist who shows us straight to the doctor’s door.
Dr. Sharon Malone is – of course – a woman, and reminds me of bake sales, of knitting cuddly jerseys, and comforting hugs when she stands up from behind her desk. Her short frame is chunky, her smile radiant and sincere when her eyes crinkle at the corners, only pronouncing the crow’s feet that I guess her fifty or so years of living has brought her. Her hair is short, chopped into a practical style and liberally striped with silver.
“Mr. and Mrs. Grey,” she beams, holding out a hand to Christian before giving my shoulder a matronly rub, “please, have a seat.”
She gestures to the two chairs facing her desk and I already like her. She seems more like a mother hen than a leading gynecologist when she shoos away our formal greeting, insisting that we call her Sharon, the familiarity probably stemming from a friendship with Grace.
“So,” she says looking over an open file on her desk, “I have your blood work here and we are definitely having more babies!” Catching my eye she gives me a happy grin, as if sharing news like this is a rarity for her.
So I really am pregnant, I think relieved. I can’t begin to imagine Christian’s disappointment if the home test turned out to be wrong somehow.
My attention is drawn away from the Doc’s kindly smile by my ecstatic husband’s out of character whoop of joy. Christian clasps my hand in his before he kisses the back of it, his grin almost as wide as his face.
“That’s fantastic!” he quips between kisses.
Sharon tilts her head, taking in the happy scene with a look of contentment on her face, giving us the space to savor our moment of joy.
The next twenty minutes is dedicated to going through my medical history and confirming the details of Chris’ birth that she already has on file. When the time comes for the physical part of the visit she ushers me into an adjacent room where I change into a light blue hospital gown. When I’m ready I lay down on the examination table next to the ultrasound machine.
Christian stands at my head, anxiously holding my hand while the doctor readies the wand, “As you are very newly pregnant we are going to have to do an internal scan if we want any chance of seeing this new little life. At very least it should show us the gestational sac, but it’s definitely too early to hear the heartbeat. That usually only starts around six weeks,” she informs us, keeping up the chatter to distract me from the cold entry of the plastic transvaginal ultrasound probe.
Christian squeezes my hand in sympathy, though I’m not sure if it’s for his benefit or my own when I notice him looking a little awkward. I give him a reassuring smile, it’s not painful, it’s just cold and foreign, and despite the professional environment always uncomfortable.
On the screen a grainy grey picture jumps into life and I feel the doctor adjusting the angle of the wand just as I feel Christian’s grip on my hand tighten, and then we see it. A black blob amongst the sea of pixelated grey.
I hear Christian gasp, “Is that it? Is that our baby?” He breathes, his tone low, reverent.
I tear my stare away from the screen and steal a moment to take in my husband’s awed features. He is so many things to me, but seeing him so excited, so utterly in love with this life we’ve made is overwhelmingly romantic. It touches not only my heart but the deepest part of my soul.
I guess he feels my eyes on him, the weight of my love for him when his gaze cuts to mine. I feel like shouting it but instead I mouth the words I love you to him, making him smile even more. He presses a quick kiss to my forehead before returning his attention to the image of our already dearly loved blob.
Sharon confirms what we already know, that I’m about four weeks along, and hands me the first picture of what I suspect will be many more if my husband had his way. I hold it only for a second before passing it to Christian, his eyes following it from the doctor’s to my hand with way too much longing to ignore. I hide my smile when he takes it, clearly lost to the magical powers of ultrasounds as he continues to stare – mesmerized.
When I’m dressed again I join them in her office section again where she goes through a list of do’s and don’ts that has Christian smirking. Of course Mr. Fifty-know-it-all has done his research and is more up to date with pregnancy protocol that I ever was.
I just know that we’re heading for a few bumps in our baby growing road but there is one bump that I want to avoid at all cost, and I ask my question at the very first opportunity I get, “Dr. Malone, uhm, Sharon,” I correct myself, “are there any sexual activities that we should abstain from?”
There is no doubt in my mind that by the end of this pregnancy Christian will have redefined overbearing with his protective instincts kicking into overdrive, but we both need to return to the Red Room, if not for the sheer pleasure of it, then for the final exorcism of the other women and the bad starts we’ve had there.
A twinkle in her eyes appears along with her kindly smile, “Nooo!” she flicks her wrist dismissively, “There shouldn’t be any issues having intercourse as long as you Ana, find the position comfortable.”
I nod pressing my lips together, not daring to look Christian’s way as I shift in my seat, unused to candid discussions about sex with strangers albeit doctors, “How about when the activity is a little rough,” I bleat, blushing for all I’m worth.
Her easy smile and no-nonsense replies keeps the topic from being completely cringe worthy, but only just, “Common sense is your best guide here. If you are comfortable being hoisted upside down and spanked with a Ping-Pong paddle then I say go for it, you can even use toys if you want, but the moment you feel breathless from something other than exertion, or there is pressure on your abdomen, or something causes discomfort then change what you’re doing. You’ll find your way around the expanding belly as long as you remain open minded and can get a little creative.”
Perfect answer! I think just as my blush deepens into what must be an awful shade of puce. I would smirk if I wasn’t so embarrassed.
Dr. Malone looks to Christian, her grin now positively lascivious, “You may be in for a treat young man. You should prepare yourself, second trimester pregnancy hormones could make your wife very demanding.”
Christian snorts his shock as the Doc gives him a very leery wink, looking utterly pleased with herself. If he was the blushing type we would be matching right now.
Armed with a magnetized list for the fridge at home of what I can and cannot eat, as well as a wealth of guidelines that I know Christian will be wielding at me on an all too regular basis, we leave the doctor’s on an all-is-well-scan high.
Saturday late afternoon sees us getting ready for Elliot’s launch. My belly is a nervous mess thinking about sharing my pregnancy news with Kate, and because we don’t want to steal Elliot’s thunder we decided on telling Christian’s parents tonight, but privately, rather than making an announcement. The world will know soon enough, anything we can do to postpone the news coming out is another rare moment of privacy from the still lingering reporters outside Esacala.
Apart from telling Kate, tonight is also the night I’m claiming back the Red Room. After our talk with the Doc yesterday I was half hoping that Christian would take the initiative but I’m guessing that he’d rather the first move come from me, and I’ve decided to signal my readiness with a very bold move.
Of course I want to remind him how he felt being in charge of a scene, guiding my willing body to obliterating nirvana, but I think he does remember, only too well. My plan is nervy in that I want to show him how I felt, the pleasure my submission brought me. The delicious anticipation threaded with that tiny slither of fear for the unknown, and the heady, blood simmering sensation of your body being worshipped and utterly enjoyed.
Earlier, while Christian showered, I had a surreptitious check on Gail’s efforts to ready the long locked room. I sighed walking into the space now restored to its former glory – lemon scented wood polish and all. Quickly I added my own finishing touches; a set of long black sheer sashes that are made especially for gentle binding, massage oil, and of course a playlist for Domme Ana’s debut. Now all I had to do was to get Christian to agree to come and play with me.
I didn’t want to give away my game before the actual moment I lured Christian into the Red Room, but until then I was intent on driving him mad with desire. A lustful man was a compliant man I figured.
As the launch party is not a black tie affair I pick an elegant little black dress, cut to fit my curves and detailed with symmetrical lines that gives it a very subtle BDSM feel. It’s understated and demure enough to cover the racy black corset and lace-top hold-up stockings underneath. Both the corset and matching Brazilian- cut panties are black, the fabric opaque. I want the underwear to be teasing, to keep Christian wanting more, and for it to have an undeniable Mistress feel. Completing the ensemble is the highest pair of black heels I can find.
My hair for the evening is loose and straight, and my make-up light but for the smudged, smoky shadow on my eyes and my extra-long lashes. My lip-gloss is lightly tinted with red, bringing a blush to my shiny lips.
Christian whistles appreciatively behind me just as I take in my completed outfit, looking dashing himself in tailored, charcoal-grey suit and a white, fitted men’s dress shirt. He’s left the first three buttons undone, revealing just a hint of his beautifully sculpted chest.
Slinking an arm around my waist he pulls me toward him, catching my gaze in the mirror, “I’m a lucky guy,” he grins, looking the part.
Reaching up and back I curl my hand around the back of his neck, giving my sexy husband a seductive smile, “Hhmm, not as lucky as I am,” I counter, wriggling my behind into his groin.
With a large hand he stills my hips, his grip firm, but the change coming over him is – as always – instant, starting with his darkening eyes, “Keep doing that and there’ll be very little left of this pretty little dress Mrs. Grey,” he warns, all playfulness gone.
His low words coupled with his half lidded gaze does what it always does to me, it makes me melt, my heart skittering in my chest as goose bumps travel along my spine. He doesn’t press my hot buttons, he is my hot button. More than ever, I hope that for once he’ll trust me enough to let me take charge in the playroom, but I am fully aware of the risk I’m taking, and that this whole plan of mine can easily go up in smoke.
The Willow’s Lodge is a stunning setting for the launch party. With the setting sun the building is bathed in hidden, golden spotlights, showing off the beautiful structure as well as the magnificent, surrounding gardens. The relaxed lodge atmosphere makes it feel cozy but the ample elegant touches speaks of class.
We spot Kate and Elliot almost instantly, just inside the doorway, where they stand to welcome their latest arrivals with smiles and hopes for future business. Instantly our two person security detail melts away, giving us space but staying close and ever watchful. I give Kate a discreet wave as we pass, not wanting to take her away from potential clients but both of them excuse themselves from their guests to come over and greet us.
After a warm hug from Kate, she takes me by the elbow and guides me away for the five minutes of chat time she promised me. Cindy, I know, is discreetly following us, making herself blend into the background. While we walk away I look back over my shoulder, catching Christian’s eye. His reassuring smile goes a little way to ease my worries about telling Kate about the baby.
In our absence, he will be spilling the happy beans to Elliot. I so wish I didn’t have to do it tonight, at their party, but Christian does not want to wait to share the news with his parents, and it will be so much worse if she found out that I kept it from her, or worse still, she found out from someone other than me.
She leads us into an empty conference room where she instantly begins to babble excitedly, “I’m so psyched for operation Mia and Ethan!” she exclaims, her eyes bright with delight. “And he was only a little mad at me for “forgetting” to organize him a date! Now all I have to do now is have him at the door in time for Mia’s arrival. Did you confirm the timing with her?”
My smile feels brittle on my mouth when I answer her, “Yes I did, and she will also be coming clean to him tonight. Explain why she did what she did. It’s now or never for those two. They’ve gotta’ lay their cards on the table and see where it leaves them.”
“Exactly,” she says nodding her head in agreement, “and will you still be taking Ethan aside for a chat before Mia makes her big confession?”
“Definitely,” I quip, “I’m sure we can soften him up with the help of a little bit of perspective.”
She claps her hands and grins broadly, clearly on a match-making high before she inclines her head to one side, her friend radar picking up my slight lack of enthusiasm, “What’s wrong Ana?”
My stomach makes a quick flip when I try to arrange my mouth into a more sincere smile, “Nothing is wrong, but I have something to tell you. I know tonight isn’t the best time, but…”
“You’re pregnant!” she blurts, her eyes stretched wide as she grabs a hold of my upper arms, giving me a small shake.
For a brief moment I simply stare at her, wordless and unable to tell if she’s mad or glad.
“Ana!” She presses, impatient now, “Tell me there is another baby Grey on the way!”
Another few seconds pass where I’m too relieved by her reaction to confirm anything before she shakes me again, this time a little harder.
My mouth curve into a genuine beam, of course Kate would be big enough to be happy for us I think, scolding myself for being so anxious.
Slowly I start nodding my head before squealing an excited yes.
Kate literally starts jumping up and down before catching me in a bear hug, “Oh Ana! I’m so happy for you! I’m so happy for Christian! What did he say?” she asks, pushing away from me in order to watch my animated face.
Her joy sparks my elation, “He is ecstatic, beside himself. He just keeps telling me how happy he is. We had our first scan today!”
“Oh Ana,” she says again, but this time she clamps a hand over her mouth, muffling an anguished cry as her eyes glaze with the shimmer of tears.
Oh shit. Happy for us but sad for herself, I guess when I take her in my arms, wrapping her close and letting her have her tears while I stroke her hair, “Ssshhhh, I know. Let it all out,” I croon, feeling her body shake against me with grief. “I’m so sorry Kate. I didn’t want you to feel we were hiding it from you,” feebly I try to put into words our reasoning.
“It’s fine. I’m, I’m glad you told me,” she manages, stuttering through her shuddering breaths, “I, I really am happy for you. It’s the s.s.s.silly hormones,” she cries, explaining her sudden turnaround as she pulls away from we, wiping under her eyes with her fingers in an effort to save her make-up.
On the table beside us is a wad of paper cocktail napkins that I press into service as tissues, helping her clean up as best I can.
Again the change that comes over her is swift and dramatic, only showing up the powerful affect the fertility drugs has on her system. Looking at her now you’d never believe that she was crying a minute ago.
“Are you okay?” I ask carefully, not wanting to disturb the fragile hold she has on her emotions.
She snorts, “For now. Until the next ridiculous thing sets me off,” dismissively she waves a hand in the air, clearly irritated with the situation.
For the first time I get a glimpse of how hard her vacillating moods must be on her, and on Elliot.
“Come,” she says, all smiles again while threading her arm through mine, “let’s go have a celebratory mocktail, and I want to congratulate Christian!”
I realize that besides being there for her when it all becomes too much, there is little else I can do.
After a trip to the bar we find Christian still with Elliot. When he sees the jewel colored, decorated drink I’m holding he scowls, but I hold up my hand in a stop gesture to halt the protest that’s about to trip off his lips, “Virgin,” I say, pointing at the drink.
At least he has the grace to look a tad sheepish before he turns to Kate who is keen to congratulate him. Elliot is quick to take the opportunity to pull me into a hug, his warm words and best wishes welcome and appreciated.
We spend a few more moments with them before Christian drags me away to find his parents. I can sense the buzz of excitement humming through him. He’s eager to share the big news with the couple who took him in and ultimately saved his life.
When we can’t spot them inside Christian takes us outside, onto the beautiful patio that’s dotted with oversized wooden chairs and small groups of guests, many of which stop us to say hello to Christian.
Carrick’s hearty laugh is what eventually helps us to find them among the scattered people. After a round of introductions the small clutch of colleges and acquaintances slowly melt away until it is just the four of us left.
Finally alone Christian pulls me into his side, draping an arm over my shoulder, looking from his mom to his dad, and back again with a huge grin, “We have some news,” he chirps, obviously delighted.
I hear Grace gasp as realization dawns but Carrick needs a nudge, “We’re pregnant dad,” Christian clarifies at his dad’s baffled expression.
Grace enfolds us in a hug, “Oh you’ve made an old woman very happy today,” she croaks hoarsely, a little overcome with emotion as she kisses us both on the cheek.
“Congratulations! You deserve to enjoy this journey together,” she says kindly, her words holding no recrimination as she looks at us both with love lighting her eyes.
“Thank you mom,” I whisper, touched by her joy for us.
Carrick moves in, slapping Christian on the back while shaking his other hand, “Well done son!”
“Thanks dad,” he says, accepting his father’s wishes with gratitude and a surprisingly coy smile.
Carrick is less formal with me when he folds me into an embrace, “It’s fantastic news Ana, you guys should come around next weekend so we and celebrate this properly, together, as a family.”
“Thank you dad, we would love that,” I say, looking to Christian for confirmation.
I take in their happy faces, their smiles so wide. Children, and especially grandchildren, have a wonderful way of bringing families together, of strengthening bonds. The new life bringing immeasurable joy along with it like a precious gift, and this child is no different. In the light of my past mistakes, this baby will be the glue that will forever seal the cracks of the broken hearts between us.
Be kind and review, please.