Chapter Twenty-One of the book Fifty Shades Freed

I gape at the text then look up at the sleeping form of my husband. He’s been out until one thirty in the morning drinking—with her! He snores softly, sleeping the sleep of a seemingly innocent, oblivious drunk. He looks so serene.

Oh no, no, no. My legs turn to jelly, and I sink slowly to the chair beside the bed in disbelief. Raw, bitter, humiliating betrayal lances through me. How could he? How could he go to her? Scalding, angry tears ooze down my cheeks. His wrath and fear, his need to lash out at me I can understand, and forgive—just. But this . . . this treachery is too much. I pull my knees up against my chest and wrap my arms around them, protecting me and protecting my Little Blip. I rock to and fro, weeping softly.

What did I expect? I married this man too quickly. I knew it—I knew it would come to this. Why. Why. Why? How could he do this to me? He knows how I feel about that woman. How could he turn to her? How? The knife twists slowly and painfully deep in my heart, lacerating me. Will it always be this way?

Through my tears, his prostrate figure blurs and shimmers. Oh, Christian. I married him because I love him, and deep down I know that he loves me. I know he does. His achingly sweet birthday present comes to mind.

For all our firsts on your first birthday as my beloved wife. I love you. C x No, no, no—I can’t believe that it will always be this way, two steps forward and three steps back. But that’s how it’s always been with him. After each set-back, we move forward, inch by inch. He will come around . . . he will. But will I? Will I recover from this . . . from this treachery? I think about how he’s been this last, horrible, wonderful weekend. His quiet strength while my stepdad lay broken and comatose in the ICU . . . my surprise party, bringing my family and friends together . . . dipping me down low outside the Heathman and kissing me in full public view. Oh, Christian, you strain all my trust, all my faith . . . and I love you.

But it’s not just me now. I place my hand on my belly. No, I will not let him do this to me and our Blip. Dr. Flynn said I should give him the benefit of the doubt—well, not this time. I dash the tears from my eyes and wipe my nose with the back of my hand.

Christian stirs and rolls over, pulling his legs up from the side of the bed, and curls up beneath the duvet. He stretches out a hand as if searching for something, then grumbles and frowns but settles back to sleep, his arm outstretched.

Oh, Fifty. What am I going to do with you? And what the hell were you doing with the Bitch Troll? I need to know.

I glance once more at the offending text and quickly hatch a plan. Taking a deep breath, I forward the text to my BlackBerry. Step one complete. I quickly check the other recent texts, but can only see messages from Elliot, Andrea, Taylor, Ros, and me. None from Elena. Good, I think. I exit the text screen, relieved that he hasn’t been texting her, and my heart lurches into my throat. Oh my.

The wallpaper on his phone is photograph upon photograph of me, a patchwork of tiny Anastasias in various poses—our honeymoon, our recent weekend sailing and soaring, and a few of José’s photos, too. When did he do this? It must have been recently.

I notice his e-mail icon, and an idea slithers enticingly into my mind . . . I could read Christian’s e-mails. See if he’s been talking to her. Should I? Sheathed in jade-green silk, my inner goddess nods emphatically, her mouth set in a scowl.

Before I can stop myself, I invade his privacy.

There are hundreds and hundreds of e-mails. I spin down through them, and they look dull as ditchwater . . . mostly from Ros, Andrea and me, and various executives in his company. None from Bitch Troll. While I’m at it, I’m relieved to see there are none from Leila either.

One e-mail catches my eye. It’s from Barney Sullivan, Christian’s IT guy, and the subject line is: Jack Hyde. I glance guiltily at Christian, but he’s still snoring gently. I’ve never heard him snore. I open the e-mail.

From: Barney Sullivan

Subject: Jack Hyde

Date: September 13, 2011 14:09

To: Christian Grey

CCTV around Seattle tracks the white van from South Irving Street. Before that I can find no trace, so Hyde must have been based in that area.

As Welch has told you the unsub car was rented with a false license by an unknown female, though nothing that ties it to the South Irving Street area.

Details of known GEH and SIP employees who live in the area are in the attached file, which I have forwarded to Welch, too.

There was nothing on Hyde’s SIP computer about his former PAs.

As a reminder, here is a list of what was retrieved from Hyde’s SIP computer.

Greys’ Home Addresses:

Five properties in Seattle

Two properties in Detroit

Detailed Resumés for:

Carrick Grey

Elliot Grey

Christian Grey

Dr. Grace Trevelyan

Anastasia Steele

Mia Grey

Newspaper and online articles relating to:

Dr. Grace Trevelyan

Carrick Grey

Christian Grey

Elliot Grey

Photographs:

Carrick Grey

Dr. Grace Trevelyan

Christian Grey

Elliot Grey

Mia Grey

I’ll continue my investigation, see what else I can find.

B Sullivan

Head of IT, GEH

This odd e-mail momentarily sidetracks me from my night of woe. I click on the attachment to check through the names on the list, but it’s obviously huge, too big to open on the BlackBerry.

What am I doing? It’s late. I’ve had a tiring day. There are no e-mails from the Bitch Troll or Leila Williams, and I take some cold comfort from that. I glance quickly at the alarm clock: it’s just after two in the morning. Today has been a day of revelations. I am to be a mother, and my husband has been fraternizing with the enemy. Well, let him stew. I am not sleeping here with him. He can wake up alone tomorrow. After placing his BlackBerry on the bedside table, I retrieve my purse from beside the bed and, after one last look at my angelic, sleeping Judas, I leave the bedroom.

The spare playroom key is in its usual place in the cabinet in the utility room.

I grab it and scoot upstairs. From the linen closet, I retrieve a pillow, duvet and sheet, then unlock the playroom door and enter, switching the lights to dim. Odd that I find the smell and ambience of this room so comforting, considering I safe worded the last time we were in here. I lock the door behind me, leaving the key in the lock. I know that tomorrow morning Christian will be frantic to find me, and I don’t think he’ll look in here if the door’s locked. Well, it will serve him right.

I curl up on the Chesterfield couch, wrap myself in the duvet and drag my BlackBerry from my purse. Checking my texts, I find the one from the evil Bitch Troll that I forwarded from Christian’s phone. I press FORWARD and type:

*WOULD YOU LIKE MRS. LINCOLN TO JOIN US WHEN WE

EVENTUALLY DISCUSS THIS TEXT SHE SENT TO YOU? IT WILL

SAVE YOU RUNNING TO HER AFTERWARD. YOUR WIFE*

I press SEND and switch the volume to mute. I huddle under my duvet. For all my bravado, I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of Christian’s deceit. This should be a happy time. Jeez, we’re going to be parents. Briefly, I relive telling Christian that I’m pregnant and fantasize that he falls to his knees with joy in front of me, pulling me into his arms and telling me how much he loves me and our Little Blip.

Yet here I am, alone and cold in a BDSM fantasy playroom. Suddenly I feel old, older than my years. Taking on Christian was always going to be a challenge, but he really has surpassed himself this time. What was he thinking? Well, if he wants a fight, I’ll give him a fight. No way am I going to let him get away with running off to see that monstrous woman whenever we have a problem. He’s going to have to choose—her or me and our Little Blip. I sniffle softly, but because I’m so exhausted, I soon fall asleep.

I wake with a start, momentarily disorientated . . . Oh yes—I’m in the playroom.

Because there are no windows, I have no idea what time it is. The door handle rattles.

“Ana!” Christian shouts from outside the door. I freeze, but he doesn’t come in. I hear muffled voices, but they move away. I exhale and check the time on my BlackBerry. It’s seven fifty, and I have four missed calls and two voice messages.

The missed calls are mostly from Christian, but there’s also one from Kate. Oh, no. He must have called her. I don’t have time to listen to them. I don’t want to be late for work.

I wrap the duvet around me and pick up my purse before making my way to the door. Unlocking it slowly, I peek outside. No sign of anyone. Oh shit . . . Perhaps this is a bit melodramatic. I roll my eyes at myself, take a deep breath, and head downstairs.

Taylor, Sawyer, Ryan, Mrs. Jones, and Christian are all standing in the entrance to the great room, and Christian is issuing rapid-fire instructions. As one they all turn and gape at me. Christian is still wearing the clothes he slept in last night. He looks disheveled, pale, and heart-stoppingly beautiful. His large gray eyes are wide, and I don’t know if he’s fearful or angry. It’s difficult to tell.

“Sawyer, I’ll be ready to leave in about twenty minutes,” I mutter, wrapping the duvet tighter around me for protection.

He nods, and all eyes turn to Christian, who is still staring intensely at me.

“Would you like some breakfast, Mrs. Grey?” Mrs. Jones asks. I shake my head.

“I’m not hungry, thank you.” She purses her lips but says nothing.

“Where were you?” Christian asks, his voice low and husky. Suddenly Sawyer, Taylor, Ryan and Mrs. Jones scatter, scurrying into Taylor’s office, into the foyer, and into the kitchen like terrified rats from a sinking ship.

I ignore Christian and march toward our bedroom.

“Ana,” he calls after me, “answer me.” I hear his footsteps behind me as I walk into the bedroom and continue into our bathroom. Quickly, I lock the door.

“Ana!” Christian pounds on the door. I turn on the shower. The door rattles.

“Ana, open the damned door.”

“Go away!”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“Suit yourself.”

“Ana, please.”

I climb into the shower, effectively blocking him out. Oh, it’s warm. The healing water cascades over me, cleansing the exhaustion of the night off my skin.

Oh my. This feels so good. For a moment, for one short moment, I can pretend all is well. I wash my hair and by the time I’ve finished, I feel better, stronger, ready to face the freight train that is Christian Grey. I wrap my hair in a towel, briskly dry myself with another towel, and wrap it around me.

I unlock the door and open it and find Christian is leaning against the wall opposite, his hands behind his back. His expression is wary, that of a hunted predator. I stride past him and into our walk-in closet.

“Are you ignoring me?” Christian asks in disbelief as he stands on the threshold of the closet.

“Perceptive, aren’t you?” I murmur absentmindedly as I search for something to wear. Ah, yes—my plum dress. I slide it off the hanger, choose my high black stiletto boots, and head for the bedroom. I pause for Christian to step out of my way, which he does, eventually—his intrinsic good manners taking over. I sense his eyes boring into me as I walk over to my chest of drawers, and I peek at him in the mirror, standing motionless in the doorway, watching me. In an act worthy of an Oscar winner, I let my towel fall to the floor and pretend that I am oblivious to my naked body. I hear his restrained gasp and ignore it.

“Why are you doing this?” he asks. His voice is low.

“Why do you think?” My voice is velvet soft as I pull out a pretty pair of black lace La Perla panties.

“Ana—” He stops as I shimmy into them.

“Go ask your Mrs. Robinson. I’m sure she’ll have an explanation for you,” I mutter as I search for the matching bra.

“Ana, I’ve told you before, she’s not my—”

“I don’t want to hear it, Christian.” I wave my hand dismissively. “The time for talking was yesterday, but instead you decided to rant and get drunk with the woman who abused you for years. Give her a call. I am sure she’ll be more than willing to listen to you now.” I find the matching bra and slowly pull it on and fasten it. Christian walks further into the bedroom and places his hands on his hips.

“Why were you snooping on me?” he says.

In spite of my resolve I flush. “That’s not the point, Christian,” I snap at him.

“Fact is, going gets tough and you run to her.”

His mouth settles into a grim line. “It wasn’t like that.”

“I’m not interested.” Picking a pair of black thigh-highs with lacey tops, I retreat to the bed. I sit, point my toe, and gently ease the gossamer material up to my thigh.

“Where were you?” he asks, his eyes following my hands up my legs, but I continue to ignore him as I slowly roll on the other stocking. Standing, I bend to towel-dry my hair. Through my parted thighs, I can see his bare feet, and I sense his intense gaze. When I’ve finished, I stand and step back to the chest of drawers where I grab my hairdryer.

“Answer me.” Christian’s voice is low and husky.

I switch on the hairdryer so I can no longer hear him and watch him through my lashes in the mirror as I finger dry my hair. He glares at me, eyes narrow and cool, chilling even. I look away, focusing on the task at hand and trying to suppress the shiver that runs through me. I swallow hard and concentrate on drying my hair. He’s still mad. He goes out with that damned woman, and he’s mad at me? How dare he! When my hair looks wild and untamed, I stop. Yes . . . I like it.

I switch off the hairdryer.

“Where were you?” he whispers, his tone arctic.

“What do you care?”

“Ana, stop this. Now.”

I shrug, and Christian moves quickly across the room toward me. I whirl around, stepping back as he reaches out.

“Don’t touch me,” I hiss and he freezes.

“Where were you?” he demands. His hands fist at his side.

“I wasn’t out getting drunk with my ex,” I seethe. “Did you sleep with her?”

He gasps. “What? No!” He gapes at me and has the gall to look wounded and angry at the same time. My subconscious breathes a small, welcome sigh of relief.

“You think I’d cheat on you?” His tone is one of moral outrage.

“You did,” I snarl. “By taking our very private life and spilling your spineless guts to that woman.”

His mouth drops open. “Spineless. That’s what you think?” His eyes blaze.

“Christian, I saw the text. That’s what I know.”

“That text was not meant for you,” he growls.

“Well, fact is I saw it when your BlackBerry fell out of your jacket while I was undressing you because you were too drunk to undress yourself. Do you have any idea how much you’ve hurt me by going to see that woman?”

He pales momentarily, but I’m on a roll, my inner bitch unleashed.

“Do you remember last night when you came home? Remember what you said?”

He stares at me blankly, his face frozen.

“Well, you were right. I do choose this defenseless baby over you. That’s what any loving parent does. That’s what your mother should have done for you.

And I am sorry that she didn’t—because we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now if she had. But you’re an adult now—you need to grow up and smell the fucking coffee and stop behaving like a petulant adolescent.

“You may not be happy about this baby. I’m not ecstatic, given the timing and your less-than-lukewarm reception to this new life, this flesh of your flesh.

But you can either do this with me, or I’ll do it on my own. The decision is yours.

“While you wallow in your pit of self-pity and self-loathing, I’m going to work. And when I return I’ll be moving my belongings to the room upstairs.”

He blinks at me, shocked.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to finish getting dressed.” I am breathing hard.

Very slowly, Christian retreats one step, his demeanor hardening. “Is that what you want?” he whispers.

“I don’t know what I want any more.” My tone mirrors his, and it takes a monumental effort to feign disinterest while I casually dip the tips of my fingers into my moisturizer and smooth it gently over my face. I peer at myself in the mirror.

Blue eyes wide, face pale, but cheeks flushed. You’re doing great. Don’t back down now. Don’t back down now.

“You don’t want me?” he whispers.

Oh—no . . . oh no you don’t, Grey.

“I’m still here aren’t I?” I snap. Taking my mascara, I apply some first to my right eye.

“You’ve thought about leaving?” His words are barely audible.

“When one’s husband prefers the company of his ex-mistress, it’s usually not a good sign.” I pitch the disdain at just the right level, evading his question. Lip gloss now. I pout my shiny lips at the image in the mirror. Stay strong, Steele . . . um—Grey. Holy fuck, I can’t even remember my name. I pick up my boots, stride over to the bed once more, and quickly put them on, tugging them up over my knees. Yep. I look hot just in underwear and boots. I know. Standing, I gaze dis-passionately at him. He blinks at me, and his eyes travel swiftly and greedily down my body.

“I know what you’re doing here,” he murmurs, and his voice has acquired a warm, seductive edge.

“Do you?” And my voice cracks . No, Ana . . . hold on.

He swallows and takes a step forward. I step back and hold my hands up.

“Don’t even think about it, Grey,” I whisper menacingly.

“You’re my wife,” he says softly, threateningly.

“I’m the pregnant woman you abandoned yesterday, and if you touch me I will scream the place down.”

His eyebrows rise in disbelief. “You’d scream?”

“Bloody murder.” I narrow my eyes.

“No one would hear you,” he murmurs, his gaze intense, and briefly I’m reminded of our morning in Aspen. No. No. No.

“Are you trying to frighten me?” I mutter breathless, deliberately trying to derail him.

It works. He stills and swallows. “That wasn’t my intention.” He frowns.

I can barely breathe. If he touches me, I will succumb. I know the power he wields over me and over my traitorous body. I know. I hang on to my anger.

“I had a drink with someone I used to be close to. We cleared the air. I am not going to see her again.”

“You sought her out?”

“Not at first. I tried to see Flynn. But I found myself at the salon.”

“And you expect me to believe you’re not going to see her again?” I cannot contain my fury as I hiss at him. “What about the next time I step across some imaginary line? This is the same argument we have over and over again. Like we’re on some Ixion’s wheel. If I fuck up again, are you going to run back to her?”

“I am not going to see her again,” he says with a chilling finality. “She finally understands how I feel.”

I blink at him. “What does that mean?”

He straightens and runs a hand through his hair, exasperated and angry and mute. I try a different tack.

“Why can you talk to her and not to me?”

“I was mad at you. Like I am now.”

“You don’t say!” I snap. “Well I am mad at you right now. Mad at you for being so cold and callous yesterday when I needed you. Mad at you for saying I got knocked up deliberately, when I didn’t. Mad at you for betraying me.” I manage to suppress a sob. His mouth drops open in shock, and he closes his eyes briefly as if I’d slapped him. I swallow. Calm down, Anastasia.

“I should have kept better track of my shots. But I didn’t do it on purpose.

This pregnancy is a shock to me, too.” I mutter, trying for a modicum of civility.

“It could be that the shot failed.”

He glares at me, silent.

“You really fucked up yesterday,” I whisper, my anger boiling over. “I’ve had a lot to deal with over the last few weeks.”

“You really fucked up three or four weeks ago. Or whenever you forgot your shot.”

“Well, God forbid I should be perfect like you!”

Oh stop, stop, stop. We stand glowering at each other.

“This is quite a performance, Mrs. Grey,” he whispers.

“Well, I’m glad that even knocked up I’m entertaining.”

He stares at me blankly. “I need a shower,” he murmurs.

“And I’ve provided enough of a floor show.”

“It’s a mighty fine floor show,” he whispers. He steps forward, and I step back again.

“Don’t.”

“I hate that you won’t let me touch you.”

“Ironic, huh?”

His eyes narrow once more. “We haven’t resolved much, have we?”

“I’d say not. Except that I’m moving out of this bedroom.”

His eyes flare and widen briefly. “She doesn’t mean anything to me.”

“Except when you need her.”

“I don’t need her. I need you.”

“You didn’t yesterday. That woman is a hard limit for me, Christian.”

“She’s out of my life.”

“I wish I could believe you.”

“For fuck’s sake, Ana.”

“Please let me get dressed.”

He sighs and runs a hand through his hair once more. “I’ll see you this evening,” he says, his voice bleak and devoid of feeling. And for a brief moment I want to take him in my arms and soothe him . . . but I resist because I’m just too mad. He turns and heads for the bathroom. I stand frozen until I hear the door close.

I stagger to the bed and flop down on to it. My inner goddess and my subconscious are both giving me a standing ovation. I did not resort to tears, shouting, or murder, nor did I succumb to his sexpertise. I deserve a Congressional Medal of Honor, but I feel so low. Shit. We resolved nothing. We’re on the edge of a pre-cipice. Is our marriage is at stake here? Why can’t he see what a complete and utter ass he’s been running to that woman? And what does he mean when he says he’ll never see her again? How on earth am I supposed to believe that? I glance at the radio alarm—eight thirty. Shit! I’ll don’t want to be late. I take a deep breath.

“Round Two was a stalemate, Little Blip,” I whisper, patting my belly.

“Daddy may be a lost cause, but I hope not. Why, oh why, did you come so early, Little Blip? Things were just getting good.” My lip trembles, but I take a deep cleansing breath and bring my rolling emotions under control.

“Come on. Let’s go kick ass at work.”

I don’t say good-bye to Christian. He’s still in the shower when Sawyer and I leave. As I gaze out of the darkened windows of the SUV, my composure slips and my eyes water. My mood is reflected in the gray, dreary sky, and I feel a strange sense of foreboding. We didn’t actually discuss the baby. I have had less than twenty-four hours to assimilate the news of Little Blip. Christian has had even less time. “He doesn’t even know your name.” I caress my belly and wipe tears from my face.

“Mrs. Grey.” Sawyer interrupts my reverie. “We’re here.”

“Oh. Thanks, Sawyer.”

“I’m going to make a run to the deli, ma’am. Can I get you anything?”

“No. Thank you, no. I’m not hungry.”

Hannah has my latte waiting for me. I take one sniff of it and my stomach roils.

“Um . . .can I have tea, please?” I mutter, embarrassed. I knew there was a reason I never really liked coffee. Jeez, it smells foul.

“You okay, Ana?”

I nod and scurry into the safety of my office. My BlackBerry buzzes. It’s Kate.

“Why was Christian looking for you?” she asks with no preamble at all.

“Good morning, Kate. How are you?”

“Cut the crap, Steele. What gives?” The Katherine Kavanagh Inquisition begins.

“Christian and I had a fight, that’s all.”

“Did he hurt you?”

I roll my eyes. “Yes, but not the way you’re thinking.” I cannot deal with Kate at the moment. I know I will cry, and right now I am so proud of myself for not breaking down this morning. “Kate, I have a meeting. I’ll call you back.”

“Good. You’re all right?”

“Yes.” No. “I’ll call you later, okay?”

“Okay, Ana, have it your own way. I’m here for you.”

“I know,” I whisper and fight the backlash of emotion at her kind words. I am not going to cry. I am not going to cry.

“Ray okay?”

“Yes,” I whisper the word.

“Oh, Ana,” she whispers.

“Don’t.”

“Okay. Talk later.”

“Yes.”

During the course of the morning, I sporadically check my e-mails, hoping for word from Christian. But there’s nothing. As the day wears on, I realize that he’s not going to contact me at all and that he’s still mad. Well, I’m still mad, too. I throw myself into my work, pausing only at lunchtime for a cream cheese and salmon bagel. It’s extraordinary how much better I feel once I’ve eaten something.

At five o’clock Sawyer and I set off for the hospital to see Ray. Sawyer is extra vigilant, and even oversolicitous. It’s irritating. As we approach Ray’s room, he hovers over me.

“Shall I get you some tea while you visit with your father?” he asks.

“No thanks, Sawyer. I’ll be fine.”

“I’ll wait outside.” He opens the door for me, and I’m grateful to get away from him for a moment. Ray is sitting up in bed reading a magazine. He’s shaved, wearing a pajama top—he looks like his old self.

“Hey, Annie.” He grins. And his face falls.

“Oh, Daddy . . .” I rush to his side, and in a very uncharacteristic move, he opens his arms wide and hugs me.

“Annie?” he whispers. “What is it?” He holds me tight and kisses my hair. As I’m in his arms, I realize how rare these moments between us have been. Why is that? Is that why I like to crawl into Christian’s lap? After a moment, I pull away from him and sit down in the chair beside the bed. Ray’s brow is furrowed with concern.

“Tell your old man.”

I shake my head. He doesn’t need my problems right now.

“It’s nothing, Dad. You look well.” I clasp his hand.

“Feeling more like myself, though this leg in a cast is bitchin’.”

“Bitchin’?” His word prompts my smile.

He smiles back. “Bitchin’ sounds better than itchin’.”

“Oh, Dad, I am so glad you’re okay.”

“Me, too, Annie. I’d like to bounce some grandchildren on this bitchin’ knee one day. Wouldn’t want to miss that for the world.”

I blink at him. Shit. Does he know? And I fight the tears that prick the corners of my eyes.

“You and Christian getting along?”

“We had a fight,” I whisper, trying to speak past the knot in my throat.

“We’ll work it out.”

He nods. “He’s a fine man, your husband,” Ray says reassuringly.

“He has his moments. What did the doctors say?” I don’t want to talk about my husband right now; he’s a painful topic of conversation.

Back at Escala, Christian is not home.

“Christian called and said that he’d be working late,” Mrs. Jones informs me apologetically.

“Oh. Thanks for letting me know.” Why couldn’t he tell me? Jeez, he really is taking his sulk to a whole new level. I am briefly reminded of the fight over our wedding vows and the major tantrum he had then. But I’m the aggrieved one here.

“What would you like to eat?” Mrs. Jones has a determined, steely glint in her eye.

“Pasta.”

She smiles. “Spaghetti, penne, fusilli?”

“Spaghetti, your Bolognese.”

“Coming up. And Ana . . . you should know Mr. Grey was frantic this morning when he thought you’d left. He was beside himself.” She smiles fondly.

Oh . . .

He’s still not home by nine. I am sitting at my desk in the library, wondering where he is. I call him.

“Ana,” he says, his voice cool.

“Hi.”

He inhales softly. “Hi,” he says, his voice lower.

“Are you coming home?”

“Later.”

“Are you in the office?”

“Yes. Where did you expect me to be?”

With her. “I’ll let you go.”

We both hang on the line, the silence stretching and tightening between us.

“Goodnight, Ana,” he says eventually.

“Goodnight, Christian.”

He hangs up.

Oh shit. I gaze at my BlackBerry. I don’t know what he expects me to do. I’m not going to let him walk all over me. Yes, he’s mad, fair enough. I’m mad. But we are where we are. I haven’t run off loose-lipped to my ex-paedo lover. I want him to acknowledge that that is not an acceptable way to behave.

I sit back in my chair, gazing at the billiard table in the library, and recall fun times playing snooker. I place my hand on my belly. Maybe it’s just too early.

Maybe this is not meant to be . . . And even as I think that, my subconscious is screaming no! If I terminate this pregnancy, I will never forgive myself—or Christian. “Oh, Blip, what have you done to us?” I can’t face talking to Kate. I can’t face talking to anyone. I text her, promising to call soon.

By eleven, I can no longer keep my eyelids open. Resigned, I head up to my old room. Curling up beneath the duvet, I finally let myself go, sobbing into my pillow, great heaving unladylike sobs of grief . . .

My head is heavy when I wake. Crisp fall light shines through the great windows of my room. Glancing at my alarm I see it’s seven thirty. My immediate thought is where’s Christian? I sit up and swing my legs out of bed. On the floor beside the bed is Christian’s silver-gray tie, my favorite. It wasn’t there when I went to bed last night. I pick it up and stare at it, caressing the silky material between my thumbs and forefingers, then hug it against my cheek. He was here, watching me sleep. And a glimmer of hope sparks deep inside me.

Mrs. Jones is busy in the kitchen when I arrive downstairs.

“Good morning,” she says brightly.

“Morning. Christian?” I ask.

Her face falls. “He’s already left.”

“So he did come home?” I need to check, even though I have his tie as evidence.

“He did,” she pauses, “Ana, please forgive me for speaking out of turn, but don’t give up on him. He’s a stubborn man.”

I nod and she stops. I’m sure my expression tells her I do not want to discuss my errant husband right now.

When I arrive at work, I check my e-mails. My heart leaps into overdrive when I see there’s one from Christian.

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Portland

Date: September 15, 2011 06:45

To: Anastasia Grey

Ana,

I am flying down to Portland today.

I have some business to conclude with WSU.

I thought you would want to know.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

Oh. Tears prick my eyes. That’s it? My stomach flips. Shit! I am going to be sick. I race to the powder room and make it just in time, depositing my breakfast into the toilet. I sink to the floor of the cubicle and put my head in my hands.

Could I be any more miserable? After a while, there’s a gentle knock on the door.

“Ana?” It’s Hannah.

Fuck. “Yes?”

“Are you okay?”

“I’ll be out in a moment.”

“Boyce Fox is here to see you.”

Shit. “Show him into the meeting room. I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Do you want some tea?”

“Please.”

After my lunch—another cream cheese and salmon bagel, which I manage to keep down—I sit staring listlessly at my computer, looking for inspiration and wondering how Christian and I are going to resolve this huge problem.

My BlackBerry buzzes, making me jump. I glance at the screen—it’s Mia.

Jeez, that’s all I need, her gushing and enthusiasm. I hesitate, wondering if I could just ignore it, but courtesy wins out.

“Mia,” I answer brightly.

“Well, hello there, Ana—long time no speak.” The male voice is familiar .

Fuck!

My scalp prickles and all the hair on my body stands to attention as adrenaline floods through my system and my world stops spinning.

It’s Jack Hyde.

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