Chapter Nineteen of the book Fifty Shades Freed

Tears stream down my face. He’s back. My daddy is back.

“Don’t cry, Annie.” Ray’s voice is hoarse. “What’s happening?”

I take up his hand in both of mine and cradle it against my face. “You’ve been in an accident. You’re in the hospital in Portland.”

Ray frowns, and I don’t know if it’s because he’s uncomfortable with my uncharacteristic display of affection, or that he can’t remember the accident.

“Do you want some water?” I ask, though I’m not sure if I’m allowed to give him any. He nods, bewildered. My heart swells. I stand up and lean over him, kissing his forehead. “I love you, Daddy. Welcome back.”

He waves his hand, embarrassed. “Me, too, Annie. Water.” I run the short distance to the nurses’ station.

“My dad—he’s awake!” I beam at Nurse Kellie, who smiles back.

“Page Dr. Sluder,” she says to her colleague and hurriedly makes her way around the desk.

“He wants water.”

“I’ll bring him some.”

I skip back to my father’s bed, I feel so light-hearted. His eyes are closed when I reach him, and I immediately worry that he’s slipped back into a coma.

“Daddy?”

“I’m here,” he mutters and his eyes flutter open as Nurse Kellie appears with a jug of ice chips and a glass.

“Hello, Mr. Steele. I’m Kellie, your nurse. Your daughter tells me you’re thirsty.”

In the waiting room, Christian is staring fixedly at his laptop, deep in concentra-tion. He glances up when I close the door.

“He’s awake,” I announce. He smiles, and the tension around his eyes vanishes. Oh . . . I hadn’t noticed before. Has he been tense all this time? He sets his laptop aside, stands, and embraces me.

“How is he?” he asks as I wrap my arms around him.

“Talking, thirsty, bewildered. He doesn’t remember the accident at all.”

“That’s understandable. Now that he’s awake, I want to get him moved to Seattle. Then we can go home, and my mom can keep an eye on him.”

Already?

“I’m not sure he’s well enough to be moved.”

“I’ll talk to Dr. Sluder. Get her opinion.”

“You miss home?”

“Yes.”

“Okay.”

“You haven’t stopped smiling,” Christian says as I pull up outside the Heathman.

“I’m very relieved. And happy.”

Christian grins. “Good.”

The light is fading, and I shiver as I step out into the cool, crisp evening and hand my key to the parking valet. He’s eyeing my car with lust, and I don’t blame him. Christian puts his arm around me.

“Shall we celebrate?” he asks as we enter the foyer.

“Celebrate?”

“Your dad.”

I giggle. “Oh, him.”

“I’ve missed that sound.” Christian kisses my hair.

“Can we just eat in our room? You know, have a quiet night in?”

“Sure. Come.” Taking my hand, he leads me to the elevators.

“That was delicious,” I murmur with satisfaction as I push my plate away, replete for the first time in ages. “They sure know how to make a fine tarte Tatin here.”

I am freshly bathed and wearing only Christian’s T-shirt and my panties. In the background, Christian’s iPod is on shuffle and Dido is warbling on about white flags.

Christian eyes me speculatively. His hair is still damp from our bath, and he’s wearing just his black T-shirt and jeans. “That’s the most I’ve seen you eat the entire time we’ve been here,” he says.

“I was hungry.”

He leans back in his chair with a self-satisfied smirk and takes a sip of his white wine. “What would you like to do now?” His voice is soft.

“What do you want to do?”

He raises an eyebrow, amused. “What I always want to do.”

“And that is?”

“Mrs. Grey, don’t be coy.”

Reaching across the dining table, I grasp his hand, turn it over, and skim my index finger over his palm. “I’d like you to touch me with this.” I run my finger up his index finger.

He shifts in his chair. “Just that?” His eyes darken and heat at once.

“Maybe this?” I run my finger up his middle finger and back to his palm.

“And this.” My nail traces his ring finger. “Definitely this.” My finger stops at his wedding ring. “This is very sexy.”

“Is it, now?”

“It sure is. It says this man is mine.” And I skim the small callous that has already formed on his palm beneath the ring. He leans forward and cups my chin with his other hand.

“Mrs. Grey, are you seducing me?”

“I hope so.”

“Anastasia, I’m a given.” His voice is low. “Come here.” He tugs my hand, pulling me onto his lap. “I like having unfettered access to you.” He runs a hand up my thigh to my behind. He grasps the nape of my neck with his other hand and kisses me, holding me firmly in place.

He tastes of white wine and apple pie and Christian. I run my fingers through his hair, holding him to me while our tongues explore and curl and twist around each other, my blood heating in my veins. We’re breathless when Christian pulls away.

“Let’s go to bed,” he murmurs against my lips.

“Bed?”

He pulls back further and tugs my hair so I am looking up at him. “Where would you prefer, Mrs. Grey?”

My inner goddess stops stuffing her face with tarte Tatin. I shrug, feigning indifference. “Surprise me.”

He smirks. “You’re feisty this evening.” He runs his nose along mine.

“Maybe I need to be restrained.”

“Maybe you do. You’re getting mighty bossy in your old age.” He narrows his eyes, but can’t disguise the latent humor there.

“What are you going to do about it?” I challenge.

His eyes glitter. “I know what I’d like to do about it. Depends if you’re up to it.”

“Oh, Mr. Grey, you’ve been very gentle with me these last couple of days.

I’m not made of glass, you know.”

“You don’t like gentle?”

“With you, of course. But you know . . . variety is the spice of life.” I bat my lashes at him.

“You’re after something less gentle?”

“Something life-affirming.”

He raises his brows in surprise. “Life-affirming,” he repeats, astonished humor in his voice.

I nod. He gazes at me for a moment. “Don’t bite your lip,” he whispers then rises suddenly with me in his arms. I gasp and grab his biceps, fearful that he’ll drop me. He walks over to the smallest of the three couches and deposits me on to it.

“Wait here. Don’t move.” He gives me a brief hot, intense look and turns on his heel, stalking toward the bedroom. Oh . . . Christian barefoot. Why are his feet so hot? He’s back a few moments later, taking me by surprise as he leans over me from behind.

“I think we’ll dispense with this.” He grabs my T-shirt and drags it over my head, leaving me naked except for my panties. He pulls my ponytail back and kisses me.

“Stand up,” he orders against my lips and releases me. I comply immediately.

He lays a towel out on the sofa.

Towel?

“Take your panties off.”

I swallow but do as I’m told, discarding them by the sofa.

“Sit.” He grabs my ponytail again and pulls my head back. “You’ll tell me to stop if this gets too much, yes?”

I nod.

“Say it.” His voice is stern.

“Yes,” I squeak.

He smirks. “Good. So, Mrs. Grey . . . by popular demand, I’m going to restrain you.” His voice drops to a breathless whisper. Desire streaks through my body like lightning simply at those words. Oh, my sweet Fifty—on the sofa?

“Bring your knees up,” he commands softly. “And sit right back.”

I rest my feet on the edge of the sofa, my knees up in front of me. He reaches for my left leg, and taking the belt from one of the bathroom robes, he ties one end above my knee.

“Bathrobes?”

“I’m improvising.” He smirks again and fastens the slipknot above my knee and ties the other end of the soft belt around the finial at the back corner of the sofa, effectively parting my legs.

“Don’t move,” he warns and repeats the process with my right leg, tying the second cord to the other finial.

Oh my . . . I am sitting up, splayed out on the sofa, legs spread wide.

“Okay?” Christian asks softly, gazing down at me from behind the sofa.

I nod, expecting him to tie my hands, too. But he refrains. He bends and kisses me.

“You have no idea how hot you look right now,” he murmurs and rubs his nose against mine. “Change of music, I think.” He stands and strolls casually over to the iPod dock.

How does he do this? Here I am, trussed up and horny as hell, while he’s so cool and calm. He’s just in my field of vision, and I watch the flex and pull of the muscles of his back under his T-shirt as he changes the song. Immediately, a sweet, almost childlike female voice starts to sing about watching me.

Oh, I like this song.

Christian turns and his eyes lock on mine as he moves around to the front of the sofa and sinks gracefully to his knees in front of me.

Suddenly, I feel very exposed.

“Exposed? Vulnerable?” he asks with his uncanny ability to voice my unspoken words. His hands are on his knees. I nod.

Why doesn’t he touch me?

“Good,” he murmurs. “Hold out your hands.” I can’t look away from his mesmerizing eyes as I do what he asks. Christian pours a little oily liquid onto each palm from a small clear bottle. It’s scented—a rich, musky, sensuous scent that I can’t place.

“Rub your hands.” I squirm beneath his hot, heavy gaze. “Keep still,” he warns.

Oh my.

“Now, Anastasia, I want you to touch yourself.”

Holy cow.

“Start at your throat and work down.”

I hesitate.

“Don’t be shy, Ana. Come. Do it.” The humor and challenge in his expression is plain to see along with his desire.

The sweet voice sings that there’s nothing sweet about her. I place my hands against my throat and let them slide down to the top of my breasts. The oil makes them glide effortlessly over my skin. My hands are warm.

“Lower,” Christian murmurs, his eyes darkening. He doesn’t touch me.

My hands cup my breasts.

“Tease yourself.”

Oh my. I tug gently on my nipples.

“Harder,” Christian urges. He sits immobile between my thighs, just watching me. “Like I would,” he adds, his eyes shining darkly. My muscles clench deep in my belly. I groan in response and pull harder on my nipples, feeling them stiffen and lengthen beneath my touch.

“Yes. Like that. Again.”

Closing my eyes I pull hard, rolling and twisting them between my fingers. I moan.

“Open your eyes.”

I blink up at him.

“Again. I want to see you. See you enjoy your touch.”

Oh fuck. I repeat the process. This is so . . . erotic.

“Hands. Lower.”

I squirm.

“Keep still, Ana. Absorb the pleasure. Lower.” His voice is low and husky, tempting and beguiling at once.

“You do it,” I whisper.

“Oh, I will—soon. You. Lower. Now.” Christian, exuding sensuality, runs his tongue along his teeth Holy fuck . . . I writhe, pulling on the restraints.

He shakes his head, slowly. “Still.” He rests his hands on my knees, holding me in place. “Come on, Ana—lower.”

My hands glide over my stomach down over my belly.

“Lower,” he mouths, and he is carnality personified.

“Christian, please.”

His hands glide down from my knees, skimming my thighs, toward my sex.

“Come on, Ana. Touch yourself.”

My left hand skims over my sex, and I rub in a slow circle, my mouth an O as I pant.

“Again,” he whispers.

I groan louder and repeat the move and tip my head back, gasping.

“Again.”

I moan loudly, and Christian inhales sharply. Grabbing my hands, he bends down, running his nose then his tongue back and forth at the apex of my thighs.

“Ah!”

I want to touch him, but when I try to move my hands, his fingers tighten around my wrists.

“I’ll restrain these, too. Keep still.”

I groan. He releases me then eases his middle two fingers inside me, the heel of his hand resting against my clitoris.

“I’m going to make you come quickly, Ana. Ready?”

“Yes.” I pant.

He starts to move his fingers, his hand, up and down, rapidly, assaulting both that sweet spot inside me and my clitoris at the same time. Ah! The feeling is intense—really intense. Pleasure builds and spikes throughout the lower half of my body. I want to stretch my legs, but I can’t. My hands claw at the towel beneath me.

“Surrender,” Christian whispers.

I explode around his fingers, crying out incoherently. He presses the heel of his hand against my clitoris as the aftershocks run through my body, prolonging the delicious agony. Vaguely, I’m aware that he’s untying my legs.

“My turn,” he murmurs, and flips me over so I am face down on the sofa with my knees on the floor. He spreads my legs and slaps me hard across my behind.

“Ah!” I yelp and he slams into me.

“Oh, Ana,” he hisses through clenched teeth as he starts to move. His fingers grip me hard around my hips as he grinds into me over and over. And I’m building again . No . . . Ah . . .

“Come on, Ana!” Christian shouts, and I shatter once more, pulsing around him and crying out as I come.

“Life-affirming enough for you?” Christian kisses my hair.

“Oh, yes,” I murmur, gazing up at the ceiling. I am lying on my husband, my back to his front, both of us on the floor beside the sofa. He’s still dressed.

“I think we should go again. No clothes for you this time.”

“Christ, Ana. Give a man a chance.”

I giggle and he chuckles. “I’m glad Ray’s conscious. Seems all your appetites are back,” he says, not disguising the smile in his voice.

I turn over and scowl at him. “Are you forgetting about last night and this morning?” I pout.

“Nothing forgettable about either of those.” He grins, and when he does, he looks so young and carefree and happy. He cups my behind. “You have a fantastic ass, Mrs. Grey.”

“So do you.” I arch a brow at him. “Though yours is still under cover.”

“And what are you going to do about that, Mrs. Grey?”

“Why, I’m going to undress you, Mr. Grey. All of you.”

He grins.

“And I think there’s a lot that’s sweet about you,” I murmur, referring to the song still playing on repeat. His smile fades.

Oh no.

“You are,” I whisper. I lean down and kiss the corner of his mouth. He closes his eyes and tightens his arms around me.

“Christian, you are. You made this weekend so special—in spite of what happened to Ray. Thank you.”

He opens his large, serious gray eyes, and his expression tugs at my heart.

“Because I love you,” he murmurs.

“I know. I love you, too.” I caress his face. “And you’re precious to me, too.

You do know that, don’t you?”

His stills, looking lost.

Oh, Christian . . . my sweet Fifty.

“Believe me,” I whisper.

“It’s not easy.” His voice is almost inaudible.

“Try. Try hard, because it’s true.” I stroke his face once more, my fingers brushing against his sideburns. His eyes are gray oceans of loss and hurt and pain.

I want to climb into his body and hold him. Anything to stop that look. When will he realize that he means the world to me? That he’s more than worthy of my love, the love of his parents—his siblings? I have told him over and over, and yet here we are as Christian gives me his lost, abandoned look. Time. It will just take time.

“You’ll get cold. Come.” He rises gracefully to his feet and pulls me up to stand beside him. I slip my arm around his waist as we wander back into the bedroom. I won’t push him, but since Ray’s accident, it’s become more important to me that he knows how much I love him.

As we enter the bedroom, I frown, desperate to recover the very welcome lighthearted mood of only a few moments ago.

“Shall we watch TV?” I ask.

Christian snorts. “I was hoping for round two.” And my mercurial Fifty is back. I arch my brow and stop by the bed.

“Well, in that case, I think I’ll be in charge.”

He gapes at me, and I push him onto the bed and quickly straddle him, pinning his hands down beside his head.

He grins up at me. “Well, Mrs. Grey, now that you’ve got me, what are you going to do with me?”

I lean down and whisper in his ear, “I am going to fuck you with my mouth.”

He closes his eyes, inhaling sharply, and I run my teeth gently along his jaw.

Christian is working at the computer. It’s a bright early morning, and he’s tapping out an e-mail, I think.

“Good morning,” I murmur shyly from the doorway. He turns and smiles at me.

“Mrs. Grey. You’re up early.” He holds open his arms.

I bolt across the suite and curl into his lap. “As are you.”

“I was just working.” He shifts as he kisses my hair.

“What?” I ask, sensing something wrong.

He sighs. “I got an e-mail from Detective Clark. He wants to talk to you about that fucker Hyde.”

“Really?” I sit back to gaze at Christian.

“Yes. I told him you’re in Portland for the time being, so he’ll have to wait.

But he says he’d like to interview you here.”

“He’s coming here?”

“Apparently so.” Christian looks bemused.

I frown. “What’s so important that can’t wait?”

“Exactly.”

“When’s he coming?”

“Today. I’ll e-mail him back.”

“I have nothing to hide. I wonder what he wants to know?”

“We’ll find out when he gets here. I’m intrigued, too.” Christian shifts again.

“Breakfast will be here shortly. Let’s eat, then we can go and see your dad.”

I nod. “You can stay here if you want. I can see you’re busy.”

He scowls. “No, I want to come with you.”

“Okay.” I grin, and wrap my arms around his neck and kiss him.

Ray is bad-tempered. It’s a joy. He’s itchy, scratchy, impatient, and uncomfortable.

“Dad, you’ve been in a major car accident. It will take time to heal. Christian and I want to move you to Seattle.”

“I don’t know why you’re bothering with me. I’ll be fine here on my own.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” I squeeze his hand fondly, and he has the grace to smile at me.

“Do you need anything?”

“I could murder a doughnut, Annie.”

I grin indulgently at him. “I’ll get you a doughnut or two. We’ll go to Voodoo.”

“Great!”

“You want some decent coffee, too?”

“Hell yeah!”

“Okay, I’ll go get some.”

Christian is once more in the waiting room, talking on the phone. He really should set up office in here. Weirdly, he’s by himself, although the other ICU beds are occupied. I wonder if Christian’s frightened off the other visitors. He hangs up.

“Clark will be here at four this afternoon.”

I frown. What could be so urgent? “Okay. Ray wants coffee and doughnuts.”

Christian laughs. “I think I would too if I’d been in an accident. Ask Taylor to go.”

“No, I’ll go.”

“Take Taylor with you.” His voice is stern.

“Okay.” I roll my eyes and he glares. Then he smirks and cocks his head to one side.

“There’s no one here.” His voice is deliciously low, and I know he’s threatening to spank me. I am about to dare him, when a young couple enters the room.

She is weeping softly.

I shrug apologetically at Christian, and he nods. He picks up his laptop, takes my hand, and leads me out of the room. “They need the privacy more than we do,” Christian murmurs. “We’ll have our fun later.”

Outside Taylor is waiting patiently. “Let’s all go get coffee and doughnuts.”

At four o’clock precisely there’s a knock on the suite door. Taylor ushers in Detective Clark, who looks more bad-tempered than usual. He always seems to look bad-tempered. Perhaps it’s the way his face is set.

“Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey, thank you for seeing me.”

“Detective Clark.” Christian shakes his hand and directs him to a seat. I sit down on the sofa where I enjoyed myself so much last night. The thought makes me blush.

“It’s Mrs. Grey I wish to see,” Clark says pointedly to Christian and to Taylor stationed beside the door. Christian glances then nods almost imperceptibly at Taylor who turns and leaves, shutting the door behind him.

“Anything you wish to say to my wife you can say in front of me.” Christian’s voice is cool and businesslike. Detective Clark turns to me.

“Are you sure you’d like your husband to be present?”

I frown at him. “Of course. I have nothing to hide. You are just interviewing me?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I’d like my husband to stay.”

Christian sits beside me, radiating tension.

“All right,” murmurs Clark, resigned. He clears his throat. “Mrs. Grey, Mr.

Hyde maintains that you sexually harassed him and made several lewd advances toward him.”

Oh! I almost burst out laughing, but put my hand on Christian’s thigh to restrain him as he shifts forward in his seat.

“That’s preposterous,” Christian splutters. I squeeze Christian’s leg to silence him.

“That’s not true,” I state calmly. “In fact, it was the other way around. He propositioned me in a very aggressive manner, and he was fired.”

Detective Clark’s mouth flattens briefly into a thin line before he continues.

“Hyde alleges that you fabricated a tale about sexual harassment in order to get him fired. He says that you did this because he refused your advances and because you wanted his job.”

I frown. Holy crap. Jack is even more delusional than I thought.”That’s not true.” I shake my head.

“Detective, please don’t tell me you have driven all this way to harass my wife with these ridiculous accusations.”

Detective Clark turns his steely blue glare on Christian. “I need to hear this from Mrs. Grey, sir,” he says with quiet restraint. I squeeze Christian’s leg once more, silently imploring him to keep his cool.

“You don’t have to listen to this shit, Ana.”

“I think I should let Detective Clark know what happened.”

Christian gazes at me impassively for a beat then waves his hand in a gesture of resignation.

“What Hyde says is simply not true.” My voice sounds calm, although I feel anything but. I’m bewildered by these accusations and nervous that Christian might explode. What’s Jack’s game? “Mr. Hyde accosted me in the office kitchen one evening. He told me that it was thanks to him that I had been hired and that he expected sexual favors in return. He tried to blackmail me, using e-mails that I’d sent to Christian, who wasn’t my husband then. I didn’t know Hyde had been monitoring my e-mails. He’s delusional—he even accused me of being a spy sent by Christian, presumably to help him take over the company. He didn’t know that Christian had already bought SIP.” I shake my head as I recall my distressing, tense encounter with Hyde.

“In the end, I-I took him down.”

Clark’s eyebrows rise in surprise. “Took him down?”

“My father is ex-army. Hyde . . . um, touched me, and I know how to defend myself.”

Christian glances at me with a brief look of pride.

“I see.” Clark leans back on the sofa, sighing heavily.

“Have you spoken to any of Hyde’s former PAs?” Christian asks almost genially.

“Yes, we have. But the truth is we can’t get any of his assistants to talk to us.

They all say he was an exemplary boss, even though none of them lasted more than three months.”

“We’ve had that problem, too,” Christian murmurs.

Oh? I gape at Christian as does Detective Clark.

“My security chief. He’s interviewed Hyde’s past five PAs.”

“And why’s that?”

Christian gives him a steely glare. “Because my wife worked for him, and I run security checks on anyone my wife works with.”

Detective Clark flushes. I shrug apologetically at him with a welcome-to-my-world smile.

“I see,” Clark murmurs. “I think there’s more to this than meets the eye, Mr.

Grey. We are conducting a more thorough search of his apartment tomorrow, so maybe something will present itself then. Though by all accounts he hasn’t lived there for some time.”

“You’ve searched already?”

“Yes. We’re doing it again. A fingertip search this time.”

“You’ve still not charged him with the attempted murder of Ros Bailey and myself?” Christian says softly.

What?

“We’re hoping to find more evidence in regard to the sabotage of your aircraft, Mr. Grey. We need more than a partial print, and while he’s in custody, we can build a case.”

“Is this all you came down here for?”

Clark bristles. “Yes, Mr. Grey, it is, unless you’ve had any further thoughts about the note?”

Note? What note?

“No. I told you. It means nothing to me.” Christian cannot hide his irritation.

“And I don’t see why we couldn’t have done this over the phone.”

“I think I told you I prefer a hands-on approach. And I’m visiting my great-aunt who lives in Portland—two birds . . . one stone.” Clark remains stony faced and unfazed by my husband’s bad temper.

“Well, if we’re all done, I have work to attend to.” Christian stands and Detective Clark follows his cue.

“Thank you for your time, Mrs. Grey,” he says politely.

I nod.

“Mr. Grey.” Christian opens the door, and Clark leaves.

I sag into the sofa.

“Can you believe that asshole?” Christian explodes.

“Clark?”

“No. That fucker, Hyde.”

“No, I can’t.”

“What’s his fucking game?” Christian whispers through gritted teeth.

“I don’t know. Do you think Clark believed me?”

“Of course he did. He knows Hyde is a fucked-up asshole.”

“You’re very sweary.”

“Sweary?” Christian smirks. “Is that even a word?”

“It is now.”

Unexpectedly he grins and sits down beside me, pulling me into his arms.

“Don’t think about that fucker. Let’s go see your dad and try to talk about the move tomorrow.”

“He was adamant that he wanted to stay in Portland and not be a bother.”

“I’ll talk to him.”

“I want to travel with him.”

Christian gazes at me, and for a moment, I think he’s going to say no. “Okay.

I’ll come, too. Sawyer and Taylor can take the cars. I’ll let Sawyer drive your R8 tonight.”

The following day Ray is examining his new surroundings—an airy, light, room in the rehabilitation center of Northwest Hospital in Seattle. It’s noon, and he looks sleepy. The journey, via helicopter no less, has exhausted him.

“Tell Christian I appreciate this,” he says quietly.

“You can tell him yourself. He’ll be along this evening.”

“Aren’t you going to work?”

“Probably. I just want to make sure you’re settled in here.”

“You get along. You don’t need to worry about me.”

“I like worrying about you. My BlackBerry buzzes. I check the number—it’s not one I recognize.

“You going to answer that?” Ray asks.

“No. I don’t know who it is. The voice mail can take it for me. I brought you something to read.” I indicate the pile of sports magazines on his bedside table.

“Thanks, Annie.”

“You’re tired, aren’t you?”

He nods.

“I’ll let you get some sleep.” I kiss his forehead. “Laters, Daddy,” I murmur.

“I’ll see you later, honey. And thank you.” Ray catches my hand and squeezes it gently. “I like that you call me Daddy. Takes me back.”

Oh, Daddy. I return his squeeze.

As I head out the main doors toward the SUV where Sawyer is waiting, I hear my name being called.

“Mrs. Grey! Mrs. Grey!”

Turning, I see Dr. Greene hurrying toward me, looking her usual immaculate self, if a little flustered.

“Mrs. Grey, how are you? Did you get my message? I called earlier.”

“No.” My scalp prickles.

“Well, I was wondering why you’d cancelled four appointments.”

Four appointments? I gape at her. I’ve missed four appointments! How?

“Perhaps we should talk about this in my office. I was going out for lunch—do you have time right now?”

I nod meekly. “Sure. I . . .” Words fail me. I’ve missed four appointments?

I’m late for my shot. Shit.

I follow her in a daze back into the hospital and up to her office. How did I miss four appointments? I vaguely remember one being moved—Hannah mentioned it—but four? How could I miss four?

Dr. Greene’s office is spacious, minimalistic, and well appointed.

“I’m so grateful you caught me before I left,” I mumble, still shell-shocked.

“My father’s been in a car accident, and we’ve just moved him here from Portland.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. How’s he doing?”

“He’s doing okay, thank you. On the mend.”

“That’s good. And it explains why you cancelled on Friday.”

Dr. Greene wiggles the mouse on her desk, and her computer comes to life.

“Yes . . . it’s been over thirteen weeks. You’re cutting it a bit close. We’d better do a test before we give you another shot.”

“A test?” I whisper, all the blood rushing from my head.

“A pregnancy test.”

Oh, no.

She reaches into the drawer of her desk. “You know what to do with this.”

She hands me a small container. “The restroom is just outside my office.”

I get up as if in a trance, my whole body operating as if on automatic pilot and I stumble to the restroom.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. How could I have let this happen . . . again? I suddenly feel sick and offer a silent prayer . Please no. Please no. It’s too soon. It’s too soon. It’s too soon.

When I reenter Dr. Greene’s office, she gives me a tight smile and waves me to the seat in front of her desk. I sit down and wordlessly hand her my sample.

She dips a small white stick into it and watches. She raises her eyebrows as it turns pale blue.

“What does blue mean?” The tension is almost choking me.

She looks up at me, her eyes serious. “Well, Mrs. Grey, it means you’re pregnant.”

What? No. No. No. Fuck.

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