30 November 2012

Chapter 46 - Submit A Proposal



“You said Miss Steele was upset when you got her out of the apartment – just how upset was she? Was she upset enough to have...”

I can't bring myself to vocalize my worst fear to Taylor - that being held at gunpoint by my ex submissive has proved a step too far for her to handle, that Anastasia has run away from me, unable to cope with all the undoubted shit that surfaced today. Your past really came back to bite you on the ass today, didn’t it Grey? You know it’s your fault that Leila could have killed Ana, don’t you?

Taylor glances at me, before shifting his line of sight to somewhere over my left shoulder. I'm guessing he’s trying to assess how best to handle his explosive boss. He knows I'm furious that he let Ana walk away earlier, but maybe he doesn’t get that I'm also angry and frustrated at her lack of trust and understanding.

Okay, so maybe I didn’t handle things all that sensitively with her when I ordered her to leave, but surely Ana could see it was for the best that I got her as far away as possible from Leila, who is undoubtedly a very sick girl.  

Clearly it was my responsibility, my duty, to help her under the circumstances, so why the fuck couldn’t Ana just trust me and do as I say? 

Why couldn’t she cooperate and just return to the apartment like I told her, especially if she was upset like Taylor said? Why would she act so irresponsibly to go off drinking like a sulky teenager instead? Why does she always have to fucking well defy me?

“Well, Miss Steele was crying, but I think it was probably shock and relief that made her react that way. She was relieved that Mr. Kavanagh was unhurt, so when he suggested going for a drink, I think maybe she just went along with it.” Taylor tries his best to shed some light on matters, but he looks distinctly uncomfortable at being put on the spot like this.

“So where the fuck are they both now? Did you see where they went?”

 “Not exactly, sir.  I’ve been to all the popular bars in the local area to see if I can track them down, but I haven’t had any luck as yet.”

“You’d better keep looking once you’ve dropped me back at Escala. I’ll wait there in case she returns.”

“Of course, sir. I’ll keep looking until we find Miss Steele. She can't have gone far, but I won’t rest until I know she’s safe. It was my responsibility to ensure her safety, and I know I let both her and you down today. It should not have been possible for Miss Williams to pose any kind of threat in the way she did, so I understand if you feel my resignation, for dereliction of duty, is appropriate…” His voice breaks as he clears his throat, and he is still concentrating hard on something behind me.

“Just find her, Taylor. That’s all that matters. If either of us had had any idea of just how sick Miss Williams was, or the lengths she was prepared to go to, we might both have acted differently - hindsight is a wonderful thing. I don’t require your resignation. We won’t talk of that again, just so long as we get Miss Steele back safe and sound.”

~~~

“She’s here,” I bark down my cell at Taylor, just as he’s calling me from the third bar he’s searched with no luck. I instructed him to report back from each one, which he has been doing for the last half hour or so.

“Thank fuck for that,” he exclaims with some feeling, exhaling loudly. It seems he’s been just as worried about Ana as I have. I switch the phone off before I throw it down on top of my piano.

“Where the fuck have you been?”

I’m struggling to keep my temper in check. I am already wound up, but seeing Ana just casually walking in, with no apology for her behavior, winds me up even further. 

And then seeing her slightly unsteady on her feet, and realizing she is drunk makes me really fucking mad. She's been out enjoying herself drinking, while Taylor and I have been worried sick and searching every bar in town for her? 

Frankly, I'm appalled at her selfish and immature behavior.

“Have you been drinking?”

“A bit,” she answers, as she tilts her chin up defiantly.

I’m shocked that she brazenly doesn’t even bother to try and deny it.

“I told you to come back here. It’s now fifteen after ten. I've been worried about you.”

I don't appreciate my feelings being thoughtlessly upset in this way. I’m not used to anyone disobeying me, and I fucking hate this feeling of being so out of control.

“I went for a drink or three with Ethan while you attended to your ex. I didn’t know how long you were going to be… with her,” Ana hisses at me.

What? She’s angry with me? This is not at all what I expected. I thought she might be upset about being held at gunpoint maybe, but this?

“Why do you say it like that?”

She almost sounds as if she’s… jealous, I think. She can't possibly think there was anything going on between Leila and me, can she? But when Ana just shrugs and looks down at her fingers, which I’ve worked out means she’s feeling insecure in some way, I begin to worry that maybe there’s a whole lot more to this than Ana just disobeying me to go out for a drink.

“Ana, what’s wrong?”

She takes an age before she looks up at me to ask,

“Where’s Leila?”

“In a psychiatric hospital in Fremont. Ana, what is it? What’s wrong?”

I move right in front of her, to try and read her face, her expression, to see what’s going on in her mind. But I can already sense it’s not good. Shit. What is going on in her head?

“I’m no good for you,” she solemnly declares, as she shakes her head.

“What? Why do you think that? How can you possibly think that?” You’re the best thing in the world for me.

“I can't be everything you need.”

“You are everything I need.” And more, so much more.

“Just seeing her with you….”

“Why do you do this to me? This is not about you, Ana. It’s about her. At the moment she’s a very sick girl.” What was I supposed to do – just walk away?

“But I felt it… what you had together.”

“What? No.” That’s all in the past – I just revisited the D/s scene for a short while today, purely to get Leila to accept the help she needs.

I reach my hand out to Ana, but she recoils from me. She’s withdrawing from me. It seems she wants nothing more to do with me.

“You're running?” I whisper. She’s got me really scared now. This is turning into a far worse nightmare than I could possibly have imagined.

She doesn’t reply, and I can feel my world beginning to shatter and fall apart.

“You can’t,” I plead with her. You just can't.

I won’t survive this time. My fragile heart, the one that she revived, the one that has only just thawed because she breathed life into it, will wither and die if she is no longer willing to nurture and care for it.

“Christian…" 

She struggles to find the words she needs to release herself from me. I don’t want her to let go of us just like this, I can't let this happen.

“No. No! You can't go Ana, I love you!” I’ve never told anyone I loved them before, only you. It will only ever be you.

“I love you, too, Christian, it’s just…”

She’s trying to say good bye. She’s breaking up with me. I can feel the cold blade of the knife going straight through my heart, severing our connection.

“No… no!” This is even worse than before. I won’t survive again.

“Christian…”

This can't be happening, this can't be real. It must be a nightmare, one of the very worst of my life.

She thinks I want to go back to my old world, that the contact with Leila has made me regress, but she couldn’t be further from the truth. I know with total and utter certainty that I don’t want a submissive like Leila. 

I only want Anastasia. I want her in every part of my life, in every way. I feel panic sweeping through me. I might have her here with me physically, but I can feel that I'm losing her all the same.  

What can I do to convince her that she is the one, that she controls my whole world now? I can't survive without her, and she is the only one who can tell me what to do to make things right. 

Then it comes to me. I know what I must do, what I have to do. It is the only way now. Anastasia must take control. I need her to tell me what to do. She must command me, and I will obey her command.

I drop to my knees in front of her, and bow my head. I spread my legs the required distance apart, and place my hands in the correct position on my thighs.

I take a deep breath, as I hand total control of my future over to Anastasia. I am now her fully compliant and obedient submissive. I am hers to do with as she sees fit.

~~~

I feel calmness spreading through me, as I let myself drift into the submissive state of mind. I know I am not worthy, but now I can let all my worries drift away. I no longer have to think for myself. I will do whatever Anastasia instructs me is required.  She is my Dominant. There is nothing more for me to do.

“Why are you doing this? Talk to me,” she commands.

“What would you like me to say?” I seek clarification.

But there is no other command from her, so I retreat further into myself. I have handed over all responsibility to Anastasia.

I vaguely register that she kneels in front of me, but I do not need to respond. She talks, but I do not need to respond. I have entered my safe submissive subspace. It is calm here. I do not need to think. I do not need to speak. She carries on talking, but I do not need to respond. I do not want to respond. I just want to remain safely buried in numbness.

Elena always took care of me and told me what to do when I was her submissive. Elena. I don’t feel as relaxed when I think about her, so I immediately put a stop to those thoughts. I don't want any distractions. I don't need anyone else to tell me what to do. 

Only Anastasia.  

She is still talking, but her words are just floating over me like small puffs of clouds. It is enough to know that as long as I am kneeling here, and she is speaking, she has not left me and I will not shatter into a thousand pieces and cease to exist.

“Are you going to kneel here all night? Because I’ll do it too,” Anastasia’s voice snaps at me, bringing me back from my safe cocoon for an instant.

But I'm not ready yet, I am not ready to start thinking for myself. It is too difficult. It is too hard to begin contemplating a future without her.
“Christian, please, please… talk to me.”

But I can't. I cannot risk the pain, it will be unbearable. The pain in my heart will finish me off for ever, if I let myself resurface. I cannot take the chance. I must stay here, where I can remain protected from the agony.

“Please,” Anastasia repeats, and as her beautiful, sincere, blue eyes bore intensely into mine, they seem to reach down into the very depths of my soul, in a way only she has ever been able to do, and I slowly feel us begin to reconnect. She is still here. She has not left me.



“I was so scared,” I whisper, still unsure if I have the strength to face up to this. But some inner fortitude kicks in from somewhere deep within me, and I slowly return and start explaining to Ana why I dealt with Leila in the way that I did, about the overwhelming guilt I felt because I might have had something to do with her mental breakdown. 

I can only hope that gaining an insight into my actions will help her to see how it would have been my fault if anything had happened to her. 

Everything I did was to protect Ana and look after her, because she is the most precious thing in my life. To have her run out on me because of those actions is unbearable, so I have to make her understand why I needed to be alone with Leila. Her assessment of the situation was completely incorrect.

“I just wanted you gone, I wanted you away from the danger, and You. Just. Wouldn’t. Go.” I insist, as I see the questioning look in her eyes. “Anastasia Steele, you are the most stubborn woman I know.”

I take a deep breath and close my eyes, as I shake my head in disbelief at how exasperating she can be. The strength of my feelings and frustration has pulled me back from my subspace now. I hear Ana heave a big sigh, so I open my eyes again. She’s still here.  Do I dare to hope this means she is staying? 

Some of her words that washed over me before come back now. I’m not going to run. I've told you and told you and told you, I won’t run.

“You weren’t going to run?”

“No!”

Instead of the usual panic washing over me, I finally experience some relief instead.

“I thought… This is me, Ana. All of me… and I'm all yours. What do I have to do to make you realize that? To make you see that I want you any way I can get you. That I love you.”

“I love you too, Christian, and to see you like this… I thought I’d broken you.” Tears fall down her cheeks.

“Broken? Me? Oh no, Ana. Just the opposite. You’re my lifeline,” I whisper, as I take her hand to kiss her delicate little knuckles. I want to prove to her how much she means to me, how precious her sweet touch is, and I know there is one sure way that I can do that, even though it will be desperately hard for me. I take a deep breath as I dig deep to find the strength to allow her to touch me – really touch me.

I take her hand, and hold it in place on my chest, directly over my heart. It takes all my resolve not to give in to the strong urge to snatch her hand away again. This is Ana's touch. This is okay. This is good. Her touch will heal you. I repeat these words in my head, over and over, and gradually I feel strong enough to let go, and just leave her hand where it is. 

I hold my breath as she flexes her hand just a tiny fraction, to test me out. She looks at me so anxiously, she's worried because my sweet Ana understands the torment any touch on that part of my body creates. She starts to take her hand away.

“No. Don't.” I put my hand back over hers, to make sure she keeps it there. I crave this contact between us so badly, so I have to overcome my phobia. I have to prove that I can do this for her. Ana understands; she moves closer, so that our knees are touching, as we continue to kneel together on the floor. 

She slowly raises her other hand, showing me she wants to extend her touch. I know how much this means to her, how she longs to be able to touch all areas of my body, instead of just those in the safe zone. I long for this too.

She indicates that I need to release her hand so that she can unbutton my shirt. She wants to really touch me, touch me properly. This is Ana's touch. This is okay. This is good. Her touch will heal you. I let her undo my shirt, as I try to fight off the rising panic I feel bubbling up inside me, because of the memories any kind of touch always invokes for me. She hesitates, unsure if she should carry on.

“Yes,” I whisper, to reassure her, to urge her to continue.

Then I feel her light fingertip touch on my chest, brushing my chest hair. No one has touched me here since… I can't think about that. I have to force those bad memories away. I have to let Ana’s loving touch erase them. 

From now on, I must think only of her touch on my skin. This is Ana's touch. This is okay. This is good. Her touch will heal you. But it is hard, so fucking hard, almost unbearable, and I clench my teeth to stop myself from screaming out. Ana reacts by taking her hand away, but I grab it back again. I'm not giving up yet.

“No, I need to,” I manage to grunt out, as I keep my eyes tightly closed.

Ana tenderly strokes her fingers across my chest, and it is such sweet agony. I love her touch, but the fear is entrenched so deeply within me that it is almost impossible to fight it.  But I do. I let her continue. Then she steps things up another notch. She’s pushing me, testing me.

She gently and sweetly places the softest of soft little kisses on one of my scars. The bitter sweetness of her lips makes me groan loudly, even though I try my hardest to be quiet so I don't upset her, but she leans back, fearful that she has pushed me too far.

“Again,” I whisper, determined to carry on with this as far as I possibly can. I want to enjoy her touch. I want her to be able to kiss me all over my body.

She tenderly kisses another of my scars, then another. It’s overwhelmingly intense, this feeling of her kissing my forbidden zone. Enough. That’s as far as I can go today, this time. 

But it is so much further than I ever thought would be possible. That’s the effect Ana has on me. She breaks all my boundaries to split me wide open, but it’s okay, because I want to let her in.

I pull her into my arms, desperate to hold her because my locked up feelings are spilling over now. I tug her hair to tip her head back, so I can kiss those soft, enchanting lips of hers.

“Oh, Ana.”

I pull her under me as I kiss her, and she knots her fingers in my hair as if she’s trying to bind me to her, then she cups my face with her hands. I’m overcome with emotion and that emotion seems to be spilling down my cheeks.

Christian, please, don't cry. Is that what I'm doing? I meant it when I said I’d never leave you. I did. If I gave you any other impression, I'm so sorry… please, please forgive me. I love you. I will always love you.”

No, she won’t, not if she really knew you. What’s the point of holding back, Grey? She will find out one day. You might as well finish things off right here, right now. Put everyone concerned out of their misery for once and for all, rather than have this Sword of Damocles forever hanging over you. You know you have to, that’s why it keeps going round and round in your head. This secret will always be a festering, pus filled boil waiting to be lanced otherwise.



“What is it?”

See. She knows there is something you’re holding back. It’s only a matter of time before she finds out. Isn’t it better she hears the goddamned awful perverted and sickening truth direct from the source of depravity?

“What is this secret that makes you think I’ll run for the hills? That makes you so determined to believe I’ll go? Tell me, Christian, please…”

This is it then. After all my efforts to conceal my worst secret, in the end it has proved futile. My depravity will always catch up with me, no matter how hard I try to escape it. I can't change who I am. I've been so selfish in expecting her to live with a man like me. I owe her total honesty, because I owe her everything.

“Ana…”

Grey, it’s no good trying to put a brave face on any of this. Just act like a decent human being for once in your life and be man enough to tell her how it really is with you. Tell her exactly how fifty shades of fucked up you truly are, because until now you know that you’ve been dishonestly holding back. You’ve only come clean for about the first twenty shades, if that.

“I’m a sadist, Ana. I like to whip little brown-haired girls like you because you all look like the crack whore - my birth mother. I’m sure you can guess why.”

Anastasia just stares at me in disbelief. Well, I can't take back the words now, it’s too late. I have made my confession and now I just have to deal with the fallout as best I can.

“You said you weren’t a sadist,” she whispers, puzzled.

“No, I said I was a Dominant. If I lied to you, it was a lie of omission. I’m sorry.” Stop trying to squirm your way out of this, Grey. You knew all along exactly what you were. “When you asked me that question, I had envisioned a very different relationship between us.”

I can see her getting ready to run for the hills, and who can blame her? 

She’s sitting there with her head in her hands as she tries to take it all in.

“So it’s true. I can’t give you what you need,” she whispers, as she glances up at me. Her eyes are huge in her face, and I can see that she is panicking as she figures out the truth. She thought she knew the worst about me; now she discovers it’s even worse than that. 

But what gets me about confessing all this shit now is that I know beyond any shadow of doubt that Anastasia can give me what I need. I will take her anyway I can, any part of her that she is willing to give, and that will be more than enough. I know that now.

“No, no, no. Ana. No. You can. You do give me what I need. Please believe me.”

“I don't know what to believe, Christian. This is so fucked up.”

“Ana, believe me. After I punished you and you left me, my worldview changed. I wasn’t joking when I said I would avoid ever feeling like that again. When you said you loved me, it was a revelation. No one’s ever said it to me before, and it was as if I’d laid something to rest – or maybe you’d laid it to rest, I don't know. Dr. Flynn and I are still in deep discussions about it.”

He thinks my love for Anastasia has finally begun to assuage the overwhelming rage and anger I’ve always carried round with me. Until that point, the only way to control that rage, to find any kind of release, was for me to punish the subs I contracted, because they all looked like the crack whore. I beat and whipped the shit out of them, just as Elena showed me how to, to make me feel better. 

But until I finally accepted that I had fallen in love with Ana, Flynn and I couldn’t begin working on making sense of this. So it’s still early days in that discussion.

“What does that all mean?”

“It means I don't need it. Not now.”

“How do you know? How can you be so sure?”

“I just know. The thought of hurting you… in any real way… it’s abhorrent to me.”

“I don't understand. What about rulers and spanking and all that kinky fuckery?” Oh, sweet innocent Ana, that’s just the really light shit; that’s just goofing around, compared to what I can really do when I let myself go.

“I’m talking about the heavy shit, Anastasia. You should see what I can do with a cane or a cat.” I’ve become a real Master at leaving intricate red welt patterns crisscrossed all over beautiful pale skin like hers.

“I’d rather not,” she tells me shocked. And that’s the point. I don't want to, because she doesn’t want to. She is far more important than any kick I get out of it.

“I know. If you wanted to do that, then fine… but you don't, and I get it. I can't do all that shit with you if you don't want to. I told you once before, you have all the power. And now, since you came back, I don't feel that compulsion, at all.” Her leaving was the strongest aversion therapy I could ever have experienced.

“When we met, that’s what you wanted, though?”

“Yes, undoubtedly.”

“How can your compulsion just go, Christian? Like I'm some kind of a panacea, and you’re – for want of a better word – cured? I don't get it.”

“I wouldn't say cured. If only it were that simple. You don't believe me?”

“I just find it – unbelievable. Which is different.”

“If you had never left me, then I probably wouldn’t feel this way. You walking out on me was the best thing you ever did… for us. It made me realize how much I want you, just you, and I mean it when I say that I’ll take you any way I can have you.”

Ana just gazes at me as she tries to make sense of it all.

“You're still here. I thought you would be out of the door by now,” I whisper incredulously.  Is it possible there is still hope for us?

“Why? Because I might think you’re a sicko for whipping and fucking women who look like your birth mother? Whatever would give you that impression,” she hisses at me.

Can I blame her reaction? She’s only speaking the truth. Which way is this going to go? I'm really not sure, as I wait for her next move. I have to be patient and give her time. She could still be out of that door any second now.

“Christian, I'm exhausted. Can we discuss this tomorrow? I want to go to bed.”

What? Go to bed like normal? She’s not leaving right now?

“You're not going?”

“Do you want me to go?”

“No! I thought you would leave once you knew. Don't leave me,” I beg.

“Oh, for crying out loud – no! I am not going to go,” she yells.

“Really?” I’ve just told you my worst depraved shit, the full fifty shades, and yet you’re not going?

“What can I do to make you understand I will not run? What can I say?”
Do I dare tell her what I really want? That I want the biggest commitment I can possibly ask of her, that I can offer to her? 

Fuck, what have I got to lose, after everything else that’s happened? And you never know, she might surprise me yet again. I take a deep breath.

“There is one thing you can do.”

“What?”

“Marry me,” I whisper.

Anastasia stares at me in total disbelief. Then she starts to giggle. She bites her lip to try and control herself, but she can't stop. I think she’s hysterical, as she lies flat out on the floor and carries on laughing, in the end howling uncontrollably.

Of all her possible reactions, I did not foresee this one. Is the idea of marrying me that ridiculous? Does hysterical laughter mean yes, or no? I have no idea.

“You find my proposal amusing, Miss Steele?

“Mr. Grey… Christian. Your sense of timing is without doubt…” Words fail her, as she reaches up to gently caress my rough, stubbly cheek. I love her touch.

Have I blown it, by proposing at what she considers an inappropriate moment? I need to know.

“You’re cutting me to the quick here, Ana. Will you marry me?”

She sits up and stares into my eyes.

“Christian, I’ve met your psycho ex with a gun, been thrown out of my apartment, had you go thermonuclear Fifty on me…”

I start to protest that I did not throw her out of her apartment, but she holds up her hand to stop me.

“You’ve just revealed some, quite frankly, shocking information about yourself, and now you’ve asked me to marry you.”

Well, I guess when she puts it like that…

“Yes, I think that’s a fair and accurate summary of the situation,” I agree.  Ana always did have a way with words.

“Whatever happened to delayed gratification?” She shakes her head at me.

“I got over it and I'm now a firm advocate of instant gratification. Carpe diem, Ana,” I whisper. I want you to be my wife. I want to be your husband. Why wait?

“Look, Christian, I've known you for about three minutes, and there’s so much more I need to know. I've had too much to drink, I'm hungry, I'm tired, and I want to go to bed. I need to consider your proposal just as I considered that contract you gave me. And that wasn’t the most romantic proposal.”

Romantic?

“Fair point well made, as ever, Miss Steele. So that’s not a no?” She’s not turning me down flat, anyway.

“No, Mr. Grey, it’s not a no, but it’s not a yes either. You’re only doing this because you're scared, and you don't trust me.”

“No, I’m doing this because I've finally met someone I want to spend the rest of my life with. I never thought that would happen to me.” This is the honest truth, from the bottom of my heart, the heart that belongs only to you, and always will, because you were the one who finally unlocked it.  

“Can I think about it… please? And think about everything else that’s happened today? What you’ve just told me? You asked for patience and faith. Well, back at you, Grey. I need those now.”

I have to accept that she has had a lot to take in today. And she has been so brave, so strong, even after hearing the very worst of my bad shit. She is one amazing woman. She can have my patience and faith, if that’s what she needs.

“I can live with that. As long as the answer is yes. “Not very romantic, eh? Hearts and flowers?”

She nods slowly at me, with a shy little smile on her beautiful face.

I will do whatever it takes to get Anastasia to say yes. As I kiss her sweet lips and gently tuck a lock of soft hair behind her ear, I’m determined to come up with the most romantic proposal next time round that I can possibly dream up, because that’s what my girl, the love of my life, deserves. 

And as I don't believe in doing things by halves, next time I’ll make fucking sure she is totally overwhelmed by hearts and flowers, if that’s what she wants.

Oh, and I’ll be buying her the biggest fucking diamond engagement ring I can find, to mark her as mine to the whole fucking wide world.

I don’t own any of the Fifty Shades Trilogy or the characters therein. They belong to E L James. I’m just borrowing them for fun and not for profit. Please refer to the Legal’s page for further details. This work is not to be copied or reproduced in any way without permission. 

23 November 2012

Chapter 45 - Leila


It’s been a good morning. Work wise, it has been satisfyingly productive, and I've had fun bantering with Anastasia by email. 

Shit, she even had me spewing my coffee all over my keyboard like some kind of an idiot, when I read her email about all the kinky places we've fucked. I was in a meeting at the time with two stuffy banking executives, but as they were really keen to do business with me, they made no comment when I made some lame excuse about my coffee going down the wrong way.

I’m sure as hell enjoying having so much Martini sex - any time, any place, anywhere. Beats the fuck out of the week day celibacy rule I always imposed with my subs, and maybe having so much sex accounts for the fact that I find myself less tense and generally much more relaxed these days, despite all the havoc that Leila’s unpredictable behavior has caused. 

And Ana seemed to get a buzz out of the fact that I never used to have sex during the week with my subs – it's only been with her. Another of our memorable firsts.

Luckily Ana remembered to use her cell this morning for that email, or I’d have had to get Barney to work his ‘make embarrassing emails disappear’ magic again. Good job most of the time he’s away with the fairies on another planet, one specially designed for computer geeks and nerds. I swear they are a separate species from the rest of humanity. Just as well under the circumstances.

Even Elena’s blackmailing problem turned out to be nothing more than her sub, Isaac, trying to surprise her by taking the initiative to set up a new and very imaginative scene. I’m not sure that Elena appreciated his efforts though, poor boy. 

But he may well enjoy the extreme measures that she will no doubt be planning to use to reward him. Remembering some of the ‘rewards’ she gave me, I sure hope he’s a masochist with a very high pain threshold.

I’m not exactly thrilled about the fact that Katherine Kavanagh’s brother is due back today, because the last thing I want is Ana spending time with this good looking Ethan guy. I remember seeing them together at the graduation ceremony, where it was pretty obvious they knew each other well. 

I don’t like this, because naturally it makes me very jealous. I want to be the only man in Ana’s life, the only one she is close to. However, she has promised to let me know when Ethan’s made contact about getting the key for the apartment from her, so we’ll take it from there. 

In any case, Sawyer has been given the full Intel on Ethan, to enable him to recognize him if he turns up. He is under strict instructions to let me know, and not to let Ana leave alone with him under any circumstances.

I’m pleased that Ana is finally being less defiant and more cooperative about her personal security, meaning that she calls straight away to tell me she has to go get lunch for that lazy fucker Hyde. I take her call, even though I’m in the middle of a meeting with six of the guys from the environmental science department of WSU, who are updating me with all the latest promising developments in their research. 

I take great delight in telling them that this call is from my girlfriend, and then watch the incredulous looks on their faces. So I’m guessing Ana was correct in her assertion that they probably all thought I was gay. Well now they, along with the rest of the world, know that I most certainly am not. It’s actually fun outing myself like this – coming out of the closet as straight, not gay.

I ignored her earlier suggestion that I let her contact Sawyer direct. I always like hearing her sweet voice, and of course I much prefer to know firsthand what’s going on with her, instead of hearing it from one of the security detail. 

I need to talk to Sawyer in any case, as he and Taylor have been monitoring the covert surveillance footage of the SIP office. Unfortunately, it is not proving to be all that useful as it can only record limited angles, and that fucker Hyde moves around a lot. It’s almost as if he suspects he’s being watched – he’s one very cagey individual, and already seems to have somehow picked up something about the takeover at SIP.  

In any case, I’m relieved when Sawyer reports that he has returned from safely escorting Ana down to the nearest delicatessen at lunchtime.

It’s not until nearly three in the afternoon that Ana finally emails me to say that Ethan has arrived back in Seattle, and is going to call in to collect the apartment keys from her at the office. She wants to make sure he gets settled in okay, and suggests we go check in on him after I collect her from work, and then all go out to dinner together, her treat. Yeah right, as if I’d let her pay, for fuck’s sake.

But at least she’s not suggesting that she meet him alone, so I go along with her plans, apart from her paying. See, I can compromise and play nice. But for Christ's sake, she’s already forgotten about using her secure cell to email, which pisses me off. But I can't stay angry at her for long. I never can.

About half an hour later, Sawyer reports that Ethan Kavanagh has called into the reception of SIP to collect the keys, before heading off again. I’m not impressed by the surveillance pictures he’s taken, because of the way the kid impudently gives Ana a big bear hug, and then kisses her cheek. She’s mine, so get your filthy hands off her, Kavanagh.

But my spirits are restored as soon as I see Ana walking towards me when we collect her after work.  She looks just as delectable now as she did this morning, in the fitted blue linen shift dress and sexy high heeled sandals. I get a real high when I see her in the classy clothes I've picked out for her, so now I really want to buy her some more, if I can only persuade her to let me.

On the way over to the apartment, I hand Ana the times that Claude can fit her into his schedule for some one-to-one training. I'm stoked that she has agreed to have some sessions, and I know she'll be in safe hands with him. 

She really needs to work on building up her stamina – I worry because she gets worn out so easily. I know I'm very demanding, because I could easily fuck her all night long, but I have to restrain myself as I know she needs her sleep. 

Also, I'm hoping that some extra exercise will help to increase her appetite, and therefore improve her diet, as I suspect she has yet to regain the weight she lost after we broke up.

Ros calls me just as we arrive at the apartment building. I take the call, as the shipyard deal in Taiwan that we’re currently negotiating is at a highly critical juncture, and I don’t want things to go sour now, not after working on the deal for months, although I don’t doubt we will still be working on it for many months to come yet. 

I had intended to escort Anastasia into the building, but now I’m distracted by this phone call, so I let her go in alone to collect Ethan, assuming she’ll only be gone a minute. I’m surprised, as well as somewhat annoyed, when Ana doesn't reappear with the kid after just a minute or two, even after I've finished the call with Ros. 

What on earth can she be doing with him? After another couple of minutes pass, I look over at Taylor. Worry begins to creep into my mind.

“The apartment was definitely secure when it was checked earlier, right?”

“Checked it myself, sir, rather than delegate it to anyone else,” he assures me, but I see a look of concern grow on his face as the minutes pass.

Then we see the Kavanagh kid arrive and get his key out to unlock the door.

Fucking hell.”  

Taylor leaps out of the car the same instant as me, as we both realize what this means, because if he’s out here with the key, then who the fuck has buzzed Ana into the apartment? 

It has to be Leila. Despite all my supposed security and over the top protectiveness, I have just casually let Anastasia walk right into a deadly trap. How could I have been so fucking careless and stupid? 

Right now, she could be lying on the floor, fatally wounded. If that is the case, I might as well turn the gun on myself, because I won’t be able to live with myself. All I can do is get to her as fast as I possibly can, and hope that we are in time.

Taylor leaps on Ethan to grab the key from him, and then forces his way into the building.

“What the fuck…” The kid is taken by surprise and tries to fight back, but I push him out of the way as I run in.

“I’m going in first, Taylor,” I insist, as we both race upstairs to the apartment. 

I feel sheer panic and cold fear washing over me. We haven’t heard any gunshots, but if Leila has a silencer on her gun, I’m not sure that we would have done. The nightmare picture of Anastasia with a bullet through her heart forces its way into my head, but I push it away again. I can't let myself think of that.

“No, sir, it’s too risky. If it is the Williams woman in there, she’s most likely armed.”

“I’m well aware of that, but I know how to handle her.”

“Mr. Grey, it is my responsibility to ensure your safety…”

 “Look, there’s no time to argue, you’re just going to have to trust me on this, when I tell you that I believe she will do exactly as I command her – but that she will respond only to me.”

Taylor stares at me for a few seconds, before he reluctantly nods his consent. During the years that he has worked for me, he must have gained enough insight about the dynamics of a D/s relationship to have faith in what I'm saying.

 “But how the fuck could she have gotten in, when you said you personally checked the apartment and it was secure?” I ask in frustration, and he looks ashen faced in horror.

“I have no fucking idea, sir. It was definitely secure; I checked and rechecked it to be sure. I couldn't miss anything that obvious, it’s just not possible. I’d never take a chance with Miss Steele’s safety.  I can only think the Williams woman somehow got hold of Miss Steele’s keys when she was in your apartment, and got a copy made. She’s certainly proving to be one fucking devious and cunning young woman,” he growls furiously, as we reach the top of the stairs.

I’m literally sick with fear, but I keep myself under control. I have to believe that Anastasia is okay, that I can handle Leila to get the situation safely under control, and that she will respond to me, rather than Taylor. I'm certain it’s our best hope. 

If I let him take control, I'm worried his training will mean he'll shoot Leila first and ask questions later. I sense he's become very protective of Ana, which is commendable, but in this situation I think it could cause him to overreact in a trigger happy way, with potentially horrific consequences. 

I don't want anyone shot, but most especially Ana, and with bullets flying around, who knows what could happen.  Taylor and I have never seen eye to eye about guns. All I want is for a safe resolution to this nightmare - one that has been brought about by my previous choice of lifestyle.

This is your punishment, Grey. For daring to think a sick, perverted bastard like you could ever deserve the love of a pure, innocent girl like Anastasia. You've had a taste of how good life could be with her, and now it’s all going to be snatched away from you, making your life a thousand times darker than it ever was before, because now you know what you will be missing. It’s only what you deserve, even if Ana has to be the one to pay for your wickedness. You are the one whose actions pushed Leila over the edge, to make her unbalanced enough to attack Anastasia.

I take a deep breath, and push the apartment door open, bracing myself for what I might find. Taylor is right behind me, impatient to gain access, still very reluctant to concede to my wish to enter first.
Fuck. Nightmare scenario.

Leila is in the apartment, and she is standing there pointing a gun at Anastasia.



 But it could be worse. At least Ana’s still alive. I quickly scan her from top to toe to make sure I'm not missing anything, and that she doesn't have any injury that isn't immediately obvious, but she seems fine. 

I'm beyond relieved, but now I have to concentrate my full attention on Leila, because she is still armed and still very unpredictable.  Anastasia is still at risk, and I can't afford to take any chances.

Leila turns her gaze on me. She looks terrible; haunted, listless, ghostly pale, very thin and filthy dirty, wearing a horrid, over-sized coat. What the fuck has happened to bring her to this? Did I do this to her? Did I dominate her spirit so badly that she never properly recovered from my treatment of her?

It is always the first and foremost duty of a Dominant to ensure the well being of his submissive. It is his top priority and one that I’ve always taken extremely seriously indeed.

I know that Leila was an experienced sub when we contracted our arrangement, and that she went into it with her eyes wide open, because I always made sure my contracts were crystal clear. I know in the end she wanted more from me, but I thought she accepted that wasn't possible, and she certainly showed no sign of being overly distressed when our contract came to an end and she left. And when Elena informed me that Leila had gotten married, I assumed she had happily moved on and that chapter was most definitely closed.

As Leila’s eyes meet mine, I can immediately sense that she is still the same natural born submissive she was when I was her Dominant. I hold up my hand to prevent Taylor from storming in. I've got this. A softly, softly approach is what’s needed to get the situation under control, so he will just have to contain his undoubted fury and frustration, and put his gun back in the holster where it belongs.

Leila dips her head slightly, as she looks up at me through her lashes, a look I remember well. What has happened to that pretty, mischievous young woman I knew before, to bring her to this emotional crisis? 

My priority now is to get her back under control, so I pull myself up to my full height, and concentrate to get into my Dominant mindset.  It’s an attitude, a way of commanding another person with just the slightest expression or look. A natural Dominant like me does it as easily as breathing, and being such a natural submissive, Leila instinctively responds without hesitation.

“Kneel,” I quietly command her. Leila instantly observes the time honored submissive ritual of presenting herself. She drops to her knees, bows her head and lets the gun fall to the floor in order to place her hands and forearms perfectly in the correct position, flat on her thighs.

I hear Taylor’s sigh of relief as I pick up the gun, and stow it safely in my pocket.

What people outside the BDSM community fail to understand is that Leila needs and welcomes my control, because it means that she doesn't have to think for herself anymore. She can hand responsibility over to me to deal with everything for her. 

This is what she has been craving from me, why she has been trying to get my attention in her own bizarre way – it has all been a cry for help. She knows that as her Master, I will take care of all her worries and troubles. This is what she needs from me, why she has turned to me. 

But in her highly confused state of mind, I believe she has seen Ana as an obstacle to getting my help, and it goes a long way to explaining why she has acted threateningly towards her.

I see a small smile of relief play on Leila’s lips as she gives herself over to my control.

“Anastasia, go with Taylor,” I command. I need her taken out of here, I need to know she is safe and out of harm’s way.

“Ethan,” Ana whispers. What? I realize she has no idea where the kid is, so I briefly fill her in.

“Downstairs.” All the while, I watch Leila closely. I need to keep that link with her, to keep her under control, at least until Ana is out of danger. Then I can get on with making arrangements for her to get the professional help she is in such desperate need of.  

I glance over at Ana. She looks deathly pale, as if she is about to pass out – I think she’s in a state of shock. I really need her to get out of here to safety, but she seems rooted to the spot.

“Anastasia.” I try again, but she still doesn't move or respond. “For the love of God, Anastasia, will you do as you’re told for once in your life and go!”

But it’s as if she is unable to respond, as if she can't take in what is happening.

“Taylor. Take Miss Steele downstairs. Now.”

“Why?” Ana whispers to me, her blue eyes huge in her sweet little face. I think she is on the verge of totally freaking out, but I just need her to fucking well obey me for once. I need to know that she is safely out of the way, so I can get on with dealing with all this shit. It’s my mess to clear up, not hers, so she doesn't need to be involved.

“Go. Back to the apartment. I need to be alone with Leila.”  Please Ana. Let me deal with this so we can go back to how things were. The quicker you go, the quicker it can all be dealt with.

“Miss Steele. Ana.” Taylor can see that Ana is barely keeping it together, so he holds out his hand to encourage her to go with him, but still she stands there, frozen to the spot.

“Taylor,” I urge him, so he picks her up in his arms, and thank fuck Ana offers no resistance, as he finally carries her away to safety. 

I want her as far away from this gun as possible. I need her safe and secure away from here back in Escala.

~~~

“Your Master will look after you now,” I tell Leila, as I gently stroke her head to reassure her.

“Master is very benevolent,” she whispers, keeping her eyes downcast.

“You may look at me,” I command. She slowly looks up at me with her brown eyes, which look dull and slightly vacant, as if the life has gone out of them. It’s eerie and unnerving. And yet, there it is again, that little smile playing around her mouth.

“It displeases me that you have been neglecting yourself. We must correct this omission.”

“Whatever my Master wishes.”

 I remember how disgusting and soul destroying it felt when I was a neglected, filthy and unkempt child, and how incredibly good it felt to have a hot bath and some clean clothes.  I decide this is what Leila needs, what I can do for her until I can get hold of Dr. Flynn to take over.

I hurriedly look around to refresh my memory of the apartment's layout, as I have only been here with Ana once before.

“Come. Follow me,” I instruct, as I hold out my hand to help her up. Her small hand feels icy cold, as I lead her to the bathroom.

“Wait there,” I command, as I start running the bath, and then search in the small cabinet to try and find some kind of bubble bath or oil. There’s some nice, expensive looking bubble bath which smells pretty good, and also some shampoo from the same range. I suspect it is Kate’s rather than Ana’s, but right now that is not important – I’ll ensure it’s replaced. 

As I pour copious amounts in the bath, a refreshing and pleasing aroma fills the bathroom. Leila just stands quietly in the corner, watching me. My plan is that once she is safely soaking and feeling relaxed by the warm water, I’ll get hold of Flynn, and then try asking her a few questions while we wait for him.

However, right now I realize that Taylor has returned, and he’s standing in the doorway, clearing his throat to subtly try and get my attention, so I go and talk to him just outside the bathroom.

“What the fuck are you doing here? When I ordered you to take Miss Steele back to Escala, naturally I expected you to stay there with her,” I state through gritted teeth. Surely I shouldn't have to spell this out to him?

He looks very uncomfortable.

“Well, sir, the thing is, Miss Steele… she declined to return to Escala.”

“She fucking what? What the fuck do you mean, she declined to return?”

“She advised me that she was going for a drink with Mr. Kavanagh. She was very upset, and I think her friend suggested it to try and calm her down. When I reminded her of your instruction to return straight to Escala, she insisted that as Miss Williams no longer posed a security threat, there was no reason for her not to go out, and no reason for me to escort her either. She said that she would see you later.”

I glance back at Leila, who is still obediently standing exactly as I told her to, with maybe a slightly larger smile now. My life would be so much easier if Anastasia would just occasionally be as compliant as one of my subs. 

But as I let out a sigh, I know this is no longer what I want. An obedient but boring submissive, who wouldn't dream of answering me back, or sending me cheeky emails, or giggling at me. I also know it is no good venting my frustration on Taylor. He has no authority over Ana unless she agrees to his protection. He’s been caught between a rock and a hard place, knowing that I would be furious, but unable to force Ana to do as I want.

I reach in my pocket for my cell to call her and tell her in no uncertain terms to stop acting so irresponsibly, and get the fuck back to the apartment.

“I… um… I’m afraid you won’t be able to reach her via her cell, Mr. Grey. I noticed she left her purse in the back of the car earlier.”

I roll my eyes and run my hands through my hair in frustration.

“For fuck’s sake, this whole pile of shit just gets better and better. I guess I’ll just have to hope that by the time we've made all the necessary arrangements for Miss Williams, Miss Steele will have finished her drink with her friend. For her sake, she’d better fucking well be back at Escala by the time I return.”

 “Yes, sir. I’m sure that will be the case. She did say it would just be a quick drink,” Taylor hurriedly agrees.

It seems there is nothing more I can do about that situation at the moment, and I have to concentrate on the matter in hand – Leila.

“I’m going to get Miss Williams to take a bath, so as you’re here, you can make yourself useful, Taylor. Get hold of Dr. Flynn, explain the situation to him, and ask him to get over here as soon as he can. He promised he would make himself available to examine her as soon as we managed to track her down.”

“Yes, Mr. Grey,” Taylor seems relieved as he makes his way out, glad to be given a task that hopefully he can actually complete. 

This afternoon has been a total fucking disaster for him so far, and I think he probably wonders if he still has a job, considering he’s had to tell me that Ana has gone walkabout against my express wishes, after the fiasco of Leila gaining access to the supposedly secure apartment that he had personally swept only a short while before. 

But I'm not ready to fire him just yet. Sometimes circumstances conspire against the best of intentions.

Now I turn my attention back to Leila, as I close the bathroom door behind me to give her some privacy from Taylor. I shut off the faucet, now that the deep bath is full of steaming hot, fragrant water.

“Undress then get into the bath,” I order her, and she immediately slips off the grubby over sized trench coat she’s wearing. It looks like a man’s coat to me – perhaps it belonged to the guy she left her husband for, the one that got killed?

Underneath, the clothes she’s wearing are no better. A sweater that is much too big, that again could be a man’s. It has several stains on it, as well as a hole in the sleeve. Her jeans are hanging off her, and because they are much too long, the bottoms are all frayed and dirty. Her sneakers were probably once white, but are now grey and grubby looking, and as she pulls them off, I notice that the sole is coming away from the uppers on one of them.

As she unzips her jeans, I turn my back to give her some privacy.

 “Does Master not enjoy watching me undress? Does this displease my Master in some way?” Leila asks quietly.

“It displeases me to see you in clothes that are not clean and do not fit you, and that you have neglected your well being.”

I glance back at her, and see that she is now in just her bra and panties. She is painfully thin, and it’s obvious that she has lost weight since she was my sub, although she was, of course, very slender before. Your subs were always tiny little brown haired girls, weren't they, Grey? And of course you know why that was, you sick, perverted bastard.

“Hurry up and get undressed so that you can get in the bath,” I instruct her impatiently as I turn away, but once I hear the sound of the water sloshing as she gets in, I turn back to look at her. The deep water and bubbles are covering her body up to her neck now.

“What happened to you? Explain how you came to be in such a sorry state. You may speak freely.”

“Alone. I’m all alone,” she whispers, as a tear rolls down her cheek.

I grab hold of her arm and look at the marks from where she tried to slash her wrist.

“Why did you do this? Answer me.”

“I… I don’t know. I can’t really remember,” she murmurs, barely speaking above a whisper.

“You left your husband, is that right, Leila?”

“Yes. He was not a good man. He was not my Master. Stephen did not care for me. He was not my one true love.”

I recall how unhelpful the man was to us when we were trying to track Leila down, knowing she was ill and in need of medical help. Even then the bastard didn't have the common decency to help her.

“You left him for another man, didn't you?” I pick up the sponge, and start to gently wash her arms and shoulders.

“Yes. Master Christopher. He was such a good man. He was just like you, even his name was nearly the same as yours. Except he let me use his given name, unlike you, Master.”

I get her to lean forward so that I can wash her back for her, as I brush her shoulder length hair out of the way.

“That was not our agreement, Leila, you know that. So, was Christopher your new Master, your new Dominant?”

“Yes. He was my one true love. It felt so good, so right to have him take care of me and look after me, and tell me what to do. I was so happy to obey him in every single way. And then one day, there was a terrible car accident, and he was gone, taken away from me. And I'm alone now, all alone, and I don’t know how to do it. 
So I thought Master could help. But then I saw her with you.  We look the same, but I found out that Master lets her sleep in his bed, even though she is not obedient like me. I never slept in Master’s bed. She is allowed to make Master laugh and smile. She is even rude and disrespectful to Master, and yet he does not seem to mind or punish her for her disobedience. So what does she have that I don’t?”

“I've changed Leila. Anastasia is not my submissive, and I am not her Master, because that’s no longer the kind of relationship I want. And I think that you have been so affected by your grief for Christopher, that you are transposing your feelings for him onto me, to try and find a way to cope.  Even though I am no longer your Master, I am going to get you the help that you need. You will get through this, I promise, as long as you do exactly what I tell you to do.”

“I knew Master would help me,” she smiles up at me.

“Here, finish cleaning yourself, then I’ll wash your hair for you,” I tell her, as I pass her the sponge. It wouldn't feel right for me to wash her most private areas – it would seem as if I was taking advantage of her somehow. I no longer have the right to touch her intimately. 

What I have done so far is purely one human being caring for another, but there is a limit. I must respect her privacy and dignity. I have no other feelings for her. There has been no sexual aspect whatsoever to my bathing her.

As Leila washes herself, Taylor knocks on the bathroom door, so I go to find out what he wants, pulling the door close to behind me.

“Dr. Flynn will be here in about half an hour or so, along with an assistant. Once he’s completed his assessment of Miss Williams, so long as he’s satisfied that the right course of action is to get her admitted, he says they’ll take her to the clinic, as discussed with you previously.”

“Good. That’s a relief to know he’s on his way,” I let out a big sigh, as I scrub my fingers over my eyes.

“How does she seem? Is she in any way volatile?” Taylor inquires, as he inclines his head towards the bathroom.

“No, not at all. She’s just messed up with grief for the guy who got killed, I think. But what do I know? We’ll just have to wait and see what Flynn makes of her when he gets here. He’s the fucking expert, not me.”

I return to the bathroom, and pick up the shampoo bottle, as Leila smiles up at me.

“Feeling a bit better now, I hope?” I ask, and she nods.

“Yes, Master. Not so cold and alone now.”

Hearing a woman address me as Master brings back so many memories. I used to fucking love it, but now the thought of Anastasia referring to me in that way is no longer so appealing. 

Maybe that’s because I love hearing her call me 'Christian', especially when we’re making love. I frown as I recall that I don’t actually know where Ana is at the moment, other than that she is out drinking somewhere with the Kavanagh kid. 

I just have to trust that she will be waiting for me when I get back to the apartment later. As she pointed out to Taylor, at least I know that Leila is no longer a threat to her. The nerve of Ana standing up to Taylor like that – but what pisses me off too is the fact that part of me is kind of impressed that she did. 

It seems she is not prepared to let anyone order her around, contrary to the initial impression I got of her being so shy and compliant. How wrong was I?

“Is something the matter, Master?” Leila says when she sees me frowning.

“No, nothing for you to worry about. Now, just lean back so I can wash your hair for you.”

I gently lather up the shampoo in Leila’s hair, and I try to put all thoughts of Ana out of my mind, as there is nothing I can do about that situation for now.

As I rinse off her hair, I realize I can't put Leila back into the filthy clothes she was wearing before. She is pretty much the same size as Ana, so the logical solution is to use some of her clean clothes that must still be in her room.

I grab one large towel and one smaller one from the towel rail.

“You may get out of the bath now and dry yourself, while I fetch some clean clothes for you. Make sure you dry your hair as much as possible with the smaller towel, then wrap yourself up in the big towel so that you don’t get cold,” I order Leila, as I put the towels within her reach by the edge of the bath.

“As you wish, Master.”

Then I make for Ana’s room across the hallway, and look for some clean underwear. There’s nothing very special in her chest of drawers, so I pick out a plain white bra and panty set. At least it’s clean and should fit reasonably well I think. Nothing as nice as the silk and lace underwear you’ve bought for Ana, Grey

Next I look in her meager closet. I thought most girls had overflowing closets, but not Ana it seems. There’s really not a lot of choice, so I pick out a pair of jeans, along with a sweat shirt, that I see from the labels come from Old Navy.

I know that Ana has a very kind and generous nature, so I don’t think she would object to me taking these clothes to dress Leila in, not if she could see the bewildered state the poor girl is in, because I’m sure she would feel the same compassion for another human being that I do. In any case, I intend replacing these clothes of hers with far nicer ones, so she will have no further need of them.

When I return to the bathroom, Leila has done exactly as instructed, and is standing there wrapped in the towels, patiently waiting for me, as if she is totally unable to think for herself. She needs me to tell her exactly what to do, every step of the way it seems.

“Dress yourself in these clothes, and then brush your hair through,” is my next order, as I hand her the clothes, and point to a hairbrush on the shelf. Just as I'm doing this, I hear a knock on the apartment door and Taylor’s voice as he lets Dr. Flynn in.

Thank fuck, the cavalry has arrived.

I make my way out to see him.

“John, good of you to get here so quickly.”

“No problem, Christian. And this is Sylvia Phillips. She’s a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner from the Fremont Hospital. I brought her along to chaperone and assist if required.”

Leila was taken to the Harborview Medical Center before when she attempted to slash her wrists. It’s just a shame she discharged herself before they could properly diagnose her, but hopefully now that John is involved that won’t be happening again, as he's told me that the Fremont specializes in treating psychiatric conditions.

I nod at the middle aged nurse, who is dressed in pale blue scrubs. I hope the sight of a medical professional will not cause any kind of adverse reaction with Leila, seeing as she refused to remain in hospital before.

“Where is she? How does she seem?” John inquires as he looks round.

“She’s just getting dressed. I made her take a bath – she was filthy, in a terribly neglected state. I thought a bath might help her to relax while we were waiting for you.”

“I see. Well, I’d like a consultation with Miss Williams in private, with just Nurse Phillips in attendance, before we make any decision regarding the best course of action for her. It would be completely unethical of me to make even a preliminary diagnosis based purely on second hand anecdotal evidence.”

“Yes, of course. I’ll just go check on her and bring her out.”

I knock on the bathroom door and then enter. Leila has dressed, and is just brushing her hair. It looks nearly dry already – it’s not as long and thick as Ana’s hair. The clothes are only slightly too big for her, and she certainly looks a lot better than she did before.

“Leila, there is someone out here I want you to meet. His name is Dr. Flynn, and he’s come to talk to you and find out how he can help you.”

A look of sheer panic and terror passes over her face. Shit. I fucking knew it, she’s not going to go quietly.

“I only want to talk to my one true Master. Only he can help me.”

“It is my wish that you speak to him and answer his questions. You will obey me in this matter. It is for the best, Leila.” I use my cold, commanding Dominant voice, and I see her look down in response.

I don’t like using my power as a Dom to force her to do something against her will, but this is truly in her best interests. She badly needs help, and as I entrust Flynn with the onerous responsibility of looking after my own sanity, I don’t see how I could put her in any safer hands, although of course Leila doesn't know this.

“Master is giving me away, when I have only just found him again? Have I displeased you that much? Please, I only want to stay with you, to serve you. I’m begging you, Master.” She looks up at me with tears in her eyes.

“You serve me best by doing as I say. I am not giving you away, I am taking care of you in the best way possible.  You will be safe, you will be looked after and you will soon feel better.”

“No!” Leila sobs, as she falls to her knees to try and present herself as my sub, but I grab her to pull her to her feet.

“Just come with me, please Leila.” I lead her out to the living area, as she continues to weep.

“It’s because of her, isn't it? We look the same, so what has she got that I haven't?” Leila is panicking and clinging to my arm now, and I look over at Flynn to get some clue about what I should do next, because I’m completely out of my depth here.

 “Miss Williams – or may I call you Leila? I understand from Mr. Grey that you have been feeling rather sad lately. So I thought we could have a little chat, find out what’s been going on with you recently, see if we can’t find a way to sort out a few things for you, to make you feel a bit happier. Why don’t you come and sit over here?” Flynn says in his cool, calm British accent, as he smiles at her from where he’s standing. 

He’s actually very authoritative and commanding, but in an understated way, and I have to admit that I’m impressed seeing him in action with someone other than myself.

He indicates that she should sit on the sofa, and Leila seems taken aback as she looks up at him. 

Maybe it’s because Flynn’s a tall, good looking guy. Maybe it’s because Flynn exudes a very calm aura around him. Maybe it’s because she somehow senses she can trust this man. Whatever it is, Flynn works his magic, and Leila calms down, takes a seat on the sofa while he sits opposite her. Nurse Phillips quietly tucks herself away out of sight, in the corner behind Leila.

There is a reason that Doctor John Flynn is considered to be the best there is in his field. He is just a fucking genius at what he does. He’s not a horse whisperer – he’s a crazy whisperer. No wonder I get on so well with him. Taylor and I make ourselves scarce in the kitchen area, and leave them to it.

~~~

“Of course this is only an initial assessment, but Nurse Phillips and I agree that following her recent bereavement, Miss Williams appears to be presenting some classic psychotic symptoms. These were possibly part of a pre-existing condition, but have probably been exacerbated by her severe grief.”

Flynn has joined me in the kitchen to give me his report, while Taylor has gone to clear up the bathroom – I've ordered him to destroy the old clothes Leila was wearing before.

“Pre-existing condition? You mean she could have been sick even when she was with me?”

“Possibly, it’s hard to tell, but I admit I am concerned about the manipulative and underhand lengths she went to, the amount of stalking she undertook to glean such detailed information about your relationship with Anastasia. Christian, she broke into your apartment and concealed herself, so that she could continue to spy on both of you. 
That’s pretty extreme behavior, and no mean task considering the amount of security you have in place, as I’m sure Taylor would agree. And she must have obtained knowledge of how to do that over three years ago, when she was in a relationship with you. So even though her grief has no doubt triggered this reaction, the plan, the intention, must have been there in the background all along.”

“Christ, when you put it like that…”  I’m shocked and horrified. “But can you treat her? Can you make her better?”

“No one can say for sure, of course. But I’m confident that in time, with the right therapy and counseling, we can redress a lot of her issues. I suggest we admit her initially to the Fremont, but long term, I think she may need to attend a clinic that specializes in complicated cases such as hers. Due to the long term nature of her symptoms, I think this is possibly a lot more than a simple case of a breakdown brought on by extreme grief.”

“Whatever you think is best, John. I want her to get the best possible treatment, money no object.”

“So you are still willing to support her financially? Because I doubt very much she has sufficient medical insurance, if any at all, that would cover this type of treatment, and it could get very costly indeed.”

“No question, of course I am,” I reply indignantly.

“Just had to make sure, Christian. No point in starting her down this road unless she’s going to see it through to the conclusion.”

 “Whatever it takes. I think you know I’m good for a few bucks,” I tell him wryly.

“That I do, Christian. Anyone who is prepared to bid $100,000, just to stop me having the first dance with his girlfriend, must have more money than sense.”

“As I recall, you risked placing a pretty high bid against me, John,” I point out.

“Yes, but the difference was that I always knew my money was safe. There was no risk. You were never going to let me outbid you, were you?”

“Hell, no.  So you gambled all along that you’d not lose your money. I guess you just know me too well, John.”

Our little exchange has helped lighten the atmosphere, but the fact remains that we still have to get Leila to the clinic.

“So, is Leila okay about being admitted?” I ask him tentatively.

“She seems to accept that it is the best course of action for her now. Perhaps if you accompany us to Harborview to get her settled in, that might smooth things along, help to ensure that she doesn't feel abandoned. If you can spare the time, of course, as I know what a busy man you are. Oh, and how is Anastasia taking all this?”

I grimace.

“I’m not sure, to be honest, John. It seems after Taylor got her out of here, she insisted on going walkabout with an old friend, and so now I have no idea where she is at this moment in time, which I fucking hate. I think she kind of went into shock after Leila pulled the gun on her, and all I could think about was getting her out of here, getting her to a place of safety, so I probably didn't handle things as sensitively as I could have done.”

“I see. Well, I’m sure that when all the dust has settled, Anastasia will understand that you were trying to act in her best interests, as well as Leila’s. Not an easy situation for anyone, but Ana strikes me as a reasonable young woman, so I'm sure she’ll be fine in the end."

“Let’s hope so,” I agree.

Before we leave, I tell Taylor to make sure the apartment has been cleared of all evidence of today’s events.  

“By the way, I found this in the pocket of Miss William’s coat, sir.”

He holds up a door key.

“It’s for here?”

He nods slowly, his expression grim.

“Fuck, so she did somehow get a copy. But at least we've got it now.”

“I’d still recommend the locks are changed, sir. If she’s had one copy made, who knows how many others there might be.”

“Good point. Could you please organize that? At least we know that Miss Williams will be in a secure environment for the time being.”

Taylor throws me a skeptical look.

“I wouldn't like to assume we've seen the last of her devious and underhand activities, Mr. Grey. I've made the mistake of underestimating her before, and I don’t intend to make that mistake again. I prefer to be at least one step ahead of any potential trouble.”

It’s clear he’s not a big fan of Leila – she’s got him into too much trouble, so I guess I can't blame him.

“Once the apartment is secure, head on straight back to Escala to confirm that Miss Steele has safely returned there.”

I’m not particularly bothered about where the Kavanagh kid will spend the night – he is big enough to look after himself as far as I'm concerned, especially as it appears he encouraged Ana to go out drinking with him, rather than follow my instructions.

“Of course, sir. I'm sure she will be.”

I think I see him crossing his fingers behind his back. 

Leila willingly lets me wrap her up in a blanket and carry her out to the cruiser that Flynn arrived in. Inside it’s kitted out as non-emergency ambulance transport, with the tinted windows ensuring privacy for patients being discreetly transported for admission to the psychiatric unit. I carefully place Leila onto the couch and strap her in.

“You understand that you are going to be well looked after, don’t you, Leila?” I reassure her.

“Yes, Master,” she whispers, as she looks over at Flynn. Nurse Phillips is driving the vehicle, so Leila has both myself and Flynn monitoring her, as we travel the short distance to Harborview. 

“And you also understand that you must comply with any instructions that Dr. Flynn gives you, just as you would for me,” I order her.

“Yes, Master,” she whispers again, as she continues to wistfully look over at Flynn. You’re wasting your time there, Leila. He’s not a Dom, and he’s happily married.


Once I see that Leila is safely admitted to the clinic, and Flynn gives me the okay to leave, I’m finally free to return to Escala, happy in the knowledge that at long last, we can finally relax about the location of my errant former sub.

Thinking back, I decide that maybe I was a bit hard on Anastasia earlier on, when I ordered her to leave. She’d just had a gun pulled on her, so no wonder she was in a state of shock. I’ll make things up to her when I get back. 

Hopefully Flynn is right, and she'll understand why I acted the way I did. I just need to get back now to smooth things over between us. Hopefully she won’t be pissed at having to wait for me to return.

I call Taylor to come and pick me up, surprised not to have received a call from him confirming Ana is waiting there for me. It’s after nine thirty now; she should have been back a long time ago if she just went for a quick drink as she'd told Taylor, seeing as we first called into the apartment shortly after she finished work at six.

“Miss Steele’s not returned to the apartment yet, sir, so I’m out looking for her,” he confesses.

Shit. Where the fuck has Anastasia gone? I can't even have her tracked, because she hasn't taken her cell. I hate, fucking hate, the fact that I have no idea whatsoever where she is. 

She could be on her way to the airport, she could even be on a plane already, because she’s decided that she can't cope with me and all my fucking baggage any more.

Have I lost her forever this time?

  
I don’t own any of the Fifty Shades Trilogy or the characters therein. They belong to E L James. I’m just borrowing them for fun and not for profit. Please refer to the Legal’s page for further details. This work is not to be copied or reproduced in any way without permission.