21 December 2012

Chapter 49 - Shopping




Naturally I authorize Welch to go ahead and implement his recommendation that security be stepped up at SIP to monitor all comings and goings in the building. Everything kicked off so fast yesterday we didn’t have time to set anything up to monitor Hyde before he left and now the fucker seems to have dropped off our radar, which is unsettling and concerning. Welch is working on it though.

So I’m not comfortable letting Anastasia go to work on her own, at least not until Taylor’s had a chance to check out the immediate vicinity. Although I let her drive her new Saab to work, I sit in with her while Taylor follows us. I fucking love that she finally let me buy her a car, and I get a real kick out of seeing how excited Ana is about it, as she tells me she likes it much better than the 'Submissive Special' Audi. It is better to give than to receive, so the bible tells us, and I'm with the good Lord on this one. There’ll be a few more gifts heading her way too, if I get my way.

But frankly her driving makes me fucking nervous. Truth is, if I'm not driving myself, I don't really like being driven by anyone other than Taylor.  Like a lot of females, Ana seems to have trouble keeping her mind on the road, but she gets pissed at me when I remind her to concentrate. 

But we make it to the parking lot in one piece, and I tell myself I shouldn’t worry so much, seeing as Ana has been driving for several years with no record of any accidents, not so much as a speeding ticket or a traffic citation. 

How do I know this? Because I had her checked out, of course, before providing her with a powerful car to drive around in. I had to be as sure as I could that she wasn’t going to be a reckless or dangerous driver.  

While Ana parks, Taylor discretely carries out his sweep, then waits to pick me up. At least the SIP building only has the one entrance, so it will be reasonably easy to monitor.

Before we go our separate ways, as we stand in the car lot I remind Ana about our appointment with Flynn at seven this evening - no doubt the expensive charlatan, as Ana calls him, will take great delight in charging me extra for fitting us in for an evening consult at short notice. 

But I can’t complain, he's good at accommodating my unique requirements, and I really couldn’t give a fuck about the money as he well knows – it’s just part of our regular banter. I don't know how I would have got through the breakup with Ana without his support. 

He rang me briefly last evening, concerned to learn that I was asking for an urgent consult. I think he was reassured when I said I was bringing Ana along, but taken aback when I told him the reason why. 

“I’ve asked Ana to marry me, but she won’t give me her answer until she’s spoken to you,” I explained.

“Whoa! What happened to taking things slowly, one step at a time, Christian?”

“Look John, when it’s right, it’s right. I pride myself on being decisive, and I know my own mind. I know I want to be with Ana for the rest of my life. And don't forget it was you who showed me the way forward, told me to work towards the goal of being in a loving, committed relationship with her. SFBT and all that shit. You told me to take it more seriously – so I have. You should be delighted.”

“I said work towards, not jump in blindly. But we’ll talk it through tomorrow,” he suggested.

So I’m worried about this evening. What if Flynn says something that makes Ana want to leave me? She must be having some serious doubts, otherwise she’d already have given me an answer to my proposal. Something is definitely holding her back, and I wish I knew what it was, so I could fix it. 

Maybe she’s putting a brave face on her acceptance of my worst shit. Maybe she thinks I’ll need Flynn there when she turns me down, maybe she’s scared I’ll have a major meltdown. She’s not wrong there, Grey.

But I realize it’s more complicated than that when we talk about the appointment, as she knots her fingers nervously in that giveaway indication of her insecurity, as she tries to explain that she’s scared she’s not enough for me, that I’m going to find someone else, someone who is into the BDSM scene and likes all the heavy shit that she doesn't. Been there, done that. Time to move on.

I’m frustrated that Anastasia can't seem to accept that she is far more than ‘enough’ for me. She is the only woman that I have ever had any kind of an emotional connection with.

“It’s only ever been you, Ana.”

“Because you never gave them a chance. You’ve spent too long locked up in your fortress, Christian. Look, let’s discuss this later.  I have to go to work. Maybe Dr. Flynn can offer us his insight,” she suggests.

Well at least this I can agree with. Seeing as she won't take my word for it, perhaps Flynn can get her to see how her fears of not being enough for me are so completely ridiculous.

~~~

I concentrate on getting through some of my paperwork backlog while Taylor drives me to my first appointment. I’ve never been complacent about being successful, or rested on my laurels. I always plan ahead, looking to have several potentially lucrative deals in the pipeline at all times, so I can’t afford to take my eye off the ball for too long, however good the staff I surround myself with are. The buck stops with me; the final say on any deal is always mine.  

This never used to be a problem, as I was more than happy to work very long hours during the week, just allotting some downtime at the weekend with my latest submissive, to relieve the tension that inevitably built up. 

That was basically my sub’s sole purpose; to relieve my sexual tension. That’s why the sessions were often very long with them. I was a guy with a hell of a lot of tension to release by the weekend, even after working out with Claude several times a week.

But now, having Ana at my apartment all week, which of course I fucking love, means I keep getting distracted from my work – and not just because I want to fuck her all the time either. Last night after we’d had dinner, I told her I needed to work for a couple of hours, which would normally be the very minimum I’d do. 

But I found that once I’d checked in on all the most urgent matters, my mind kept drifting, thinking about Ana, and wanting to make sure she was okay. So in fact I spent less than on hour on work before I headed off to find her, and caught her nosing around in my playroom. 

But her curiosity turned out really well for us. We had a truly amazing fuck when I used the spreader bar to restrain her, and I think that bodes really well for our future fuckfun. 

Mrs. I-Love-Kinky-Fuckery Grey.

So it’s our future that my first appointment this morning is about. I’m meeting the realtor, Miss Olga Kelly, at the property overlooking the sound that’s come up for sale. She’s raved about the wonderful view, but I won’t believe anything until I've seen it for myself. 

I give Taylor the code for the security gate that Miss Kelly emailed me, and we take the drive up to the house. The details state that it’s a twelve thousand square foot house set in six acres of land. I’m not interested in the house – even the realtor admits it’s run down and in need of updating.

Location, location, location – that’s what’s important, not the house. That’s why they can set the asking price at nine point five million dollars – it would be even more if the house wasn’t so run down. 

If the location is as good as it appears on paper and I go ahead with the purchase, my plan is to  knock the existing house down and have something new built from scratch, using the latest eco friendly techniques. That could easily end up costing at least another ten million dollars. 

But that doesn't worry me – I’m a fucking billionaire, so of course I can afford it, and what better to spend my hard earned cash on than a home for Anastasia and me.

A new house build is Elliot’s area of expertise, and however much he likes to joke around, I know I can trust his judgment totally in these matters. He’s due back tomorrow, and despite his annoying ways, I’ve kind of missed him and I’m actually looking forward to seeing him again. I’ll bring him out here to get his opinion if it turns out that I’m going ahead with this place – but that will only be if Ana likes it too.

As we drive up, I note that the grounds are pretty impressive; there’s a wooded area, and a meadow too – not sure what I’d do with that, but not to worry for now. At least it provides good screening for the house, which can’t be seen at all until we turn the final bend in the drive. I really like the privacy that affords the place.

Miss Kelly is waiting at the door for us. I’d have been pretty surprised if she hadn’t been – her commission if she pulls off the sale of this place will be pretty impressive, so no doubt she'll be bending over backwards to persuade me to buy in any way she can. 

And by the usual female reaction to my looks as I get out of the car and she introduces herself, I think she’d probably let me do anything I liked to her. 

Not interested in the slightest – I’m taken. At least I hope I am.

She starts telling me about the house, but I hold up my hand.

“I don't have much time, Miss Kelly. I’m not interested in the house because I would demolish it.  All I’m interested in is the view. So if you would lead the way?”

She blinks in surprise at my brusqueness, before regaining her composure.

“Of course, Mr. Grey. I appreciate that you are an extremely busy man,” she smiles, as she leads the way through the house, with Taylor tagging along behind us.

She leads us through several rooms of the house to some French doors, which she opens and then steps out onto a stone terrace, which overlooks a large lawned area.

As I look up, I get the wider panoramic picture. The view. The fucking awesome view. And I experience one of those rare moments when the world seems to stop turning for a few seconds, as I stand there drinking it in.

Blue sky, sunlight glinting on blue water, stretching out into the distance towards Bainbridge Island, and beyond that Olympic National Park. A fantastic, uninterrupted view.




It’s everything and more than I could have hoped for. Many times when I've been sailing and looked back towards the land, I've thought how great it would be to live somewhere that looked out over Puget Sound. 


I love the sea; whether it’s calm or stormy, somehow it calls to something in my nature. Maybe because the sea seems to merge with the sky, and they are both wide open free spaces. Sailing and flying, both great loves of mine. To look out of my bedroom to see wide expanses of both the sea and sky every day would be perfect. 

At least it would be, if I had Anastasia there to share it with me.

As I stare at the view, I have the weirdest experience. I feel as if I've come home, as if this is where I belong, that this is somewhere I've been homesick for, even though I didn’t know it existed until now. 


Maybe it's because my parents’ place looks out over the water, maybe that’s part of it.

But I quickly pull myself back from my special moment. There are practicalities to consider.

“Taylor, how hard would it be to make a waterfront property such as this secure?”

“I’d have to go over it in detail with Welch. The location would call for extra measures to be put in place, and we might need to call in some specialist advisers. But it’s do-able, so long as you're prepared to invest in all the right equipment,” he confirms. 

He means as long as I'm prepared to pay - and as he knows money is not an issue for me when it comes to security, it makes his and Welch’s job that much easier. If they say we need some new equipment, or a new vehicle, I never quibble. 

They want it, they get it, the best there is.

“So, Mr. Grey, what do you think? Stunning outlook isn’t it?” Miss Kelly pipes up, having wisely let the view speak for itself up to now. 

“If my girlfriend likes it, I could be interested. I’ll bring her over to view - meet us here at eight this evening.” It’ll be twilight then, so the light should be perfect. Twilight – Edward and Bella. Christian and Ana. Oh for fuck’s sake Grey, you’ve been listening to Mia for too long with all her vampire shit. “Oh, and Miss Kelly? Don't show anyone else around, or any potential deal is off.”

I nod at Taylor, and we make our way back to the car, leaving Miss Kelly standing open mouthed. We’ve only been here for a few minutes, but I’ve seen all I need to see, and I don't have time for small talk. All I require from her is that she gets on with her job and makes the necessary arrangements I’ve requested if she wants the deal to go through.

Truth is, I fucking love this place, and I’d happily snap it up in a heartbeat, but I can't let myself dwell too much on the possibilities of living here until I find out if Ana likes it too. She might hate it for all I know, although I really don't see how that could be. 

She loved soaring and sailing when I took her, she got how great it felt, so I think she will also get the great views of the sea and sky here. I can't even think about how I’m going to feel if she turns this house down, because it'll mean she's turning us down too. 

For me, I knew instantly there was just something about this place, a special connection. I could really see us living here together for the rest of our lives. But naturally I don't vocalize any of these thoughts to the Realtor.

“Cartier next, sir?” Taylor inquires, and just as we are leaving, my cell buzzes in my pocket. It’s Ana, and I’m immediately worried something’s wrong – she doesn't usually ring, she texts unless it’s something urgent or important.

“Anastasia. You okay?”

“They’ve just given me Jack’s job to mind, temporarily.” She sounds really shocked.

“You’re kidding!”

Shit! I know I told Jerry Roach that Ana was one of the staff not to be placed on the ‘at risk’ list of those being considered for redundancy, but giving her Jack’s job? Seriously? What is he playing at?

“Did you have anything to do with this?” she snaps.

“No – No, not at all. I mean, with all due respect, Anastasia, you’ve only been there for a week or so – and I don't mean that unkindly.”

“I know. Apparently Jack really rated me.”

Just hearing Ana mentioning that fucker's name makes my blood boil. I’ve got a session booked with Claude this afternoon, so I’m hoping to vent my frustration about Hyde with him to try and get it out of my system. 

But as far as the job goes, despite her lack of experience, I have a funny feeling that Ana will do just fine. And my gut instinct is rarely wrong about these things.

“Did he now? Well, baby, if they think you can do it, I'm sure you can. Congratulations. Perhaps we should celebrate after we’ve seen Flynn.”

The Mile High Club. I’ve been planning to take her to my club at some point, so this seems an opportune occasion to enact a little scene I’ve been imagining. A very dirty, naughty scene, actually. She’ll fucking love it. But before my imagination gets too carried away, I’m pulled right back into the moment because Ana seems pissed with me.

“Hmm. Are you sure you had nothing to do with this,” she asks me suspiciously.

Why is she being so difficult about this? I didn’t orchestrate her promotion, because she doesn’t have the necessary experience yet. She should trust me - I really don't appreciate being called a liar.

“Do you doubt me? It angers me that you do.”

“I’m sorry,” she sighs.

Her whispered apology knocks all the anger out of me, and I remind myself that I should be proud of Ana for wanting to stand on her own two feet, and I should be pleased that she isn’t asking me to pull strings for her.

“If you need anything, let me know. I’ll be here. And Anastasia?”

“What?”

“Use your cell.” 

No more potential fuck ups. If she becomes a permanent part of my world as I’m hoping, she will have to be careful about security for the rest of her life, so she might as well start getting used to it now. 

It goes with the territory, it’s part of the price you pay for being mega rich.

“Yes, Christian.”

“I mean it. If you need me, I'm here.” I’ll always be here for you, baby. Always.

“Okay. I’d better go. I have to move offices.”

“If you need me. I mean it.” I hope she believes me.

“I know, thank you, Christian. I love you.”

Hearing those three words puts a great big, stupid fucking grin on my face. I’ll never get tired of hearing her say she loves me. Maybe this means she’s going to say yes?

“I love you too, baby.”

Taylor studiously concentrates on the road, despite the fact that he can hear every word. So I'm going soft in my old age.

“I’ll talk to you later,” Ana promises.

“Laters, baby.”

Next, I call my club to book the table for this evening, and I give them very precise instructions regarding the menu I want served. I've had this plan in my back pocket for a while now – it will be a little pay back for Ana’s frustrating behavior at The Heathman, and how frustrated I am that she’s keeping me hanging by not answering my proposal.  

Then I call Gail to tell her we won’t be home for dinner. I also instruct her that I want the floral arrangement removed from the table in the entrance foyer. I have plans for that table. Very imaginative plans – the first of many such plans.

“They may be bringing on Miss Steele's allergies,” I say. “So I thought we should see what effect removing them has.”

I know what effect I'm hoping a nice clear table surface is going to have. I must remember to check the angle of the CCTV camera in the foyer. I don't want Taylor getting a free porn show should he need to check the footage for some reason.

“Of course, Mr. Grey. I wasn’t aware that Miss Steele suffered from allergies.” That’d be because she doesn’t. “Would you like me to cancel the regular floral display?” Gail offers helpfully.

“No, thank you, Gail. The flowers may turn out not to be the problem, so I suggest you just move the current display, maybe to your staff quarters?”

 “As you wish, Mr. Grey.”

“And Gail, I don’t require your services, or Taylor’s either this evening, so I suggest you both take the night off.”

“Oh! If you’re sure, Mr. Grey?”

“I am.”

“Well, thank you, that would be very nice. Though of course, sir, if you should change your mind and need any assistance, we’ll just be in the staff quarters.”

For what I have in mind, I certainly won't be requiring any assistance. Just the apartment to ourselves.

I see Taylor glance at me in the rear view mirror as he’s driving, and I think I see a little smirk on his face at the prospect of a night in with Gail. Looks like he’s already busy making plans of his own. Down boy.

This talk of flowers gives me an idea, so I call the florist. I want to dictate the personal message for the card myself, so I don't get Andrea to place the order for me. I order a huge basket of pink and white roses to be delivered to Ana’s office, to congratulate her on her promotion. 

I recall how Mom hates modern mass produced roses that have no perfume, because she says a rose isn’t a proper rose unless it has a wonderful scent. So I stipulate that the roses I’ve ordered must be scented.

Having been assured that the basket will be delivered as soon as it has been prepared, I make my next call, as we sit in traffic on our way to Cartier.

“Roach. Grey here. What the fuck are you doing appointing Miss Steele to replace Hyde? She’s only been in the company five minutes.”

“Good morning, Mr. Grey. Actually, that is exactly why Miss Steele’s been appointed.”

“Explain.”

“Insisting that Hyde be dismissed with immediate effect put us in an awkward situation, because as you are well aware, we are not authorized to recruit any new staff under the terms of the takeover, at least until restructuring has been completed. And anyone else we promoted internally into the position was bound to have longer service, and so if we subsequently decided to let them go…”

“They’d be entitled to a much higher redundancy package than someone who has only just joined the company,” I finish for him, seeing that it does actually make a lot of sense to let Ana caretake the position for now, at least until restructuring is completed.

“But I have to say in all fairness, Miss Steele has made a very good impression so far. So this way, she gets a chance to prove herself, and we get someone to cover the post. I see it as a win/win situation, Mr. Grey.”

In future, run any such appointments by me first. I don't expect to hear about events second hand, when they have already been implemented. That is not how things are done at Grey Enterprises.”

 “I thought we were remaining as Seattle Independent Publishers, actually,” Roach says acidly, clearly resenting everything about this acquisition. They don't talk about takeovers being hostile for nothing.

“I’ve decided that you’re going to become Grey Publishing, a subsidiary of Grey Enterprises.” 

I hadn’t actually made my mind up until this moment, but Roach’s shitty attitude has made me want to place my mark very firmly on this company. And Grey Publishing has a very nice ring to it.

~~~


I look at the selection of large diamonds laid out in front of me. There are six. Five are square or oblong shaped, one is oval.  All are the highest quality with regard to the four Cs - cut, clarity, color and carat weight. I always do my homework, so I know what qualities constitute a good diamond.

Josh Andrews, the guy I deal with at Cartier, is explaining about the different shapes, the different cuts and attributes of each of the diamonds, but I'm not really listening. 

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a given that each diamond is of the best possible quality, or they wouldn’t be showing them to me. So I'm imagining how each one would look on Anastasia’s finger.

Some Dominants give their submissives a collar to wear to denote ownership. Others insist on their sub wearing rings and chains to symbolize their ownership, or require them to have tattoos or  piercings, some of which can very personal and intimate. 

I was never interested in that kind of public display, much to the disappointment of some of my subs, because they would have loved an overt symbol that I was their Dom. But I always regarded my sub as just my privately contracted sexual partner, one that I would, of course, take very good care of all the time she was contracted to me, but I never regarded any arrangement as potentially permanent.

But now I really want to flaunt the relationship I have with my girlfriend. I fucking love the symbolism of Anastasia wearing a ring I've given her. I want the world to see that she belongs to me, that we are totally committed to each other.

I pick up the oblong diamond, which Andrews informs me is an Emerald cut. It’s sharp, angular, and reminds me of one that Elena wears. I decide instantly it’s not right for Ana and so I reject it. 

I look closely at each diamond in turn, but reject them, as they look too harsh and ostentatious for my sweet girl – until I pick up the oval diamond.

This one is curvy and rounded, and it feels so much nicer to touch than the square diamonds as I roll it around in my fingers. It’s a much softer shape, just like my Ana. Andrews notices my interest.

“That is a particularly fine and unique diamond, Mr. Grey, which is why we could only locate one of that type. It is a ten carat diamond; it has been classified as Grade D flawless, making it a diamond of the purest possible white color.”

I hold it against my finger, to try and judge how it would sit on Ana’s small, slim finger.

“The oval shape means that it sits very comfortably on the finger, particularly if the lady in question has a delicate hand. It makes it a very wearable and practical diamond,” Andrews continues. ‘Of course you could add extra diamonds to the setting if you wished.”

“No. I want this diamond, but I want it set in a simple plain platinum band. And I want the inside of the band engraved with our initials – an ‘A’ inside a 'C’, continuously alternating with an infinity sign.”

I’ve made up my mind. The oval diamond is unquestionably the right one for Anastasia. It’s just like her. Naturally beautiful, with no need of embellishment. 

I ask for a piece of paper and quickly sketch out the type of setting I want. Simple and uncluttered to showcase the beauty of the diamond. I also draw up exactly how I want the infinity sign and our initials to be engraved. The C of Christian protectively curving round the A of Anastasia. 

Then I give him the piece of tape I used to carefully size Ana’s finger while she was sleeping last night. So now he has all he needs to go ahead with the ring, but I also instruct him to call me should there be any queries or concerns about the construction of Ana’s engagement ring. I don't want any fuck ups – I want it to be perfect. The perfect ring for my perfect girl.

“Of course, Mr. Grey. Do you wish to have a matching wedding band made at the same time? Perhaps a matching one for yourself as well?”

The ultimate symbol of commitment will be her wedding ring, of course. A solid, unbreakable band that she will always wear and never remove once I’ve placed it on her finger. I read somewhere that wedding rings are worn on the third finger of the left hand because the vein from this finger runs directly to the heart. 

I’d like us to have matching wedding rings, so both our hearts are linked to the symbol of our wedding vows. But as Ana has yet to agree to marry me, I decide it’s best not to tempt fate at this point.

“No. I’ll decide on that later.”

“Very well Mr. Grey. We’ll have the engagement ring made up to your exact specifications, and I will personally ensure that it will be ready for collection on Friday.”

I leave Cartier having spent three million dollars on a ring for Anastasia, which I think if she knew, she would probably feel pretty uncomfortable about. 

But I’m happy. I fucking love shopping for presents for her, and I plan on spending millions more if I get my way. 

That is, if she accepts my proposal and agrees to become my wife.

~~~

I’m not the only one who’s been shopping it seems. That evening, as we park outside Flynn’s office, Anastasia hands me a small black gift box.

“Here. This is for your birthday. I wanted to give it to you now – but only if you promise not to open it until Saturday, okay?”

“Okay.” Why?

What is this? Why can't I open it right now? As I shake the box, it rattles intriguingly. Ana is watching me, practically hugging herself with glee. 

So I'm guessing this is not any kind of a farewell present, which was my initial reaction, because she looks so fucking happy about it. Her childish pleasure is infectious, and I find myself grinning back at her. I love that she thinks about me when we’re apart, and plans little surprises. I still don't get why she’s giving it to me now, but I’ll play along with her little game, if it makes her happy.

“You can't open it until Saturday,” she says again, probably guessing that I’m itching to know what the fuck she could have gotten me.

“I get it. Why are you giving this to me now?” I ask, as I put the precious package safely away in my jacket pocket.

“Because I can, Mr. Grey.”

“Why, Miss Steele, you stole my line.”

Although I haven’t the slightest idea what it could be, I know whatever’s inside the box that’s rattling so tantalizingly certainly didn’t cost her three million dollars. But it’s priceless to me, and I will keep it with me at all times, until I can open it with Ana on my birthday.

But my good mood quickly evaporates when I’m thrown out of our session with Flynn. 

Apparently, Ana would be more ‘comfortable’ without me there, Flynn suggests, and Ana fucking well agrees with him. 

 So I'm consigned to the waiting room, where I have to endure the inane remarks of Martha, John’s receptionist. Jeez, the way she blushes and flutters her eyelashes at me, you’d think she was fifteen instead of nearer fifty.

I sit and glare at the door to the consulting room, wishing I could try to listen in to what they’re saying but of course I can’t, not with Martha sitting there getting a hot flush because she’s drooling over my fucking stupid pretty face.

God, it’s so frustrating having to wait out here, wondering what the fuck they’re talking about. 

Me, of course. Fifty Shades of Fuckedupness me. 

And why hadn’t I thought to tear up the stupid fucking NDA, which I’d forgotten all about until it came up just now, as Ana and I are way beyond needing anything like that. Now it looks like I still think of her as my submissive, an employee that I can't trust.

I try and distract myself by thinking about how good it felt earlier when I kicked the shit out of Claude in our workout. Imagining I was dealing with that lowlife fucker Hyde meant I managed to knock him on his ass twice, which I can't remember managing before. Very satisfying, and I think Claude was pretty surprised by my ferocity.

I sigh as I look at my watch for about the twentieth time. What is taking them so long? Surely she must have asked everything she could possibly need to know by now? 

I’m fucked up; she’s mending me. That's it. End of story.

When I see the usual half hour consultation time is up, I decide enough is enough. I'm not usually a patient man, so I think I've been very restrained, under the circumstances, and I even considerately knock on the door before entering. 

Ana looks up startled, then glances over at Flynn, as if I've interrupted some sort of confessional, like he’s her priest or something. Christ, it is so fucking frustrating being excluded like this, I fucking hate it. 

It makes me feel like an angry teenager again, putting me in mind of the way my parents used to discuss me with my latest shrink. I hated it then, and I sure as hell hate it just as much now.

But Flynn just smiles calmly at me. Does he ever lose his temper, I wonder? I bet Rhian could tell a few tales about him, about what goes on behind closed doors between them. He can't be so fucking calm all the time, can he? So who does he tell all his bad shit to?

“Welcome back, Christian,” he says.

“I think time is up, John.” Time for a quick exit. Let’s get out of here.

“Nearly, Christian. Join us.” Shit. Maybe not.

“Did you have any other questions, Ana?” He seems concerned as he probes her.

So what is Flynn worried about? Has he picked up on her low self-esteem perhaps, especially as Ana hurriedly shakes her head? Seems she maybe does have issues of her own to hide, as I've suspected all along. Interesting.

“Christian?”

“Not today, John.”

“It may be beneficial if you both come again. I'm sure Ana will have more questions.”

Ana shuffles in her seat and flushes. She looks uncomfortable, I think because she hates it when attention is focused on her like this, so I take her hand in mine and give it a gentle, reassuring squeeze.

“Okay?” I ask quietly.

Ana relaxes and smiles, as she squeezes my hand back and nods.

Before we leave, there is one other matter I need to ask Flynn about. 

Leila. I know she’s found it hard to settle at the clinic.

“How is she?”

“She’ll get there,” he assures me.

“Good. Keep me updated of her progress.”

“I will.”

“Shall we go and celebrate your promotion?” I ask Ana, now that it’s finally time to go. 

And so we make our escape.

~~~

We have an eventful drive over, as we very nearly come to blows on the side of the road after arguing about who should drive. 

Christ, Ana can be so frustratingly illogical at times, but she says I'm the frustrating one. Me, for God’s sake, when first she does want to drive, then she doesn't. 

And I’m trying so hard to be reasonable with her. For fuck’s sake, I even agreed to her going out for a drink with José without me, didn’t I? Of course I shall be having a security detail monitoring them, but still.

But I get to drive in the end, which I’m much happier about. And at least Ana opens up to me about what she and Flynn discussed. It seems they delved pretty deep, because she informs me that he doesn't think I'm a sadist. 

But whatever he says, I know what I am, despite whatever term is in or out of fashion now, however these shrinks have decided to label it.

God, how they all fucking love coming up with some new program or therapy to show the world how fucking clever they are, how they’ve come up with a magical cure for all the shit known to mankind.  

I know, because I’ve been put through just about every therapy option there is – all to no avail, at least until now. But I must be careful not to take my bitterness out on Ana. I don't want either of us to be in a bad mood to spoil the surprise I’ve been looking forward to all day.

“Where are we going?” Ana asks curiously as we turn into 9th Avenue NW.

“Surprise.”

As we go through the security gates and head on up the tree-lined lane, past the woods and the meadow, I'm getting nervous, which Ana picks up on.

“What is it?”

“An idea.” I have to keep calm and prepare myself for the possibility that she won’t love this place as much as I do, that perhaps she won’t see the possibilities. “Will you keep an open mind?”

“Christian, I've needed an open mind since the day I met you,” she points out wryly.

Miss Kelly is there, as arranged, so she lets us in. I waste no time – I want Ana to see the view before it gets dark, so I lead her straight through the house.

The view is even better than it was this morning, because the twilight colors of the setting sun make it incredible. I think it will probably look different every single day.

Ana just stands there staring out at the view as I hold her hand, and I think she might even be holding her breath. Does this mean she likes it? How could she not?

“You brought me to admire the view?” she whispers, and I nod. “It’s staggering, Christian. Thank you.”

I take a deep breath. I've been thinking about this moment all day, ever since I came here this morning.

“How would you like to look at it for the rest of your life?”

I can see that I've taken Ana completely by surprise, as her mouth drops open and she gapes at me.

“I've always wanted to live on the coast. I sail up and down the Sound coveting these houses. This place hasn’t been on the market long. I want to buy it, demolish it and build a new home – for us.” 

I want this so badly; I just have a feeling about this place, that it’s meant for us, and I’m praying and willing Ana to feel the same way too. This could be where we make our home together. This could be our future.

“It’s just an idea,” I add, in case I’ve got this all totally wrong.

“Why do you want to demolish it?” she asks.

Shit. I wanted her to jump up and down with excitement and tell me to buy it straight away, not ask an odd question like that.

“I’d like to make a more sustainable home using the latest ecological techniques. Elliot could build it,” I explain.

Ana looks back and studies the house, which I've not really bothered to look at properly.

“Can we look around the house?” she asks.

“Sure,” I agree, not really sure why she wants to, but willing to go along with her curiosity.

Miss Kelly is in her element, of course, as she shows us around. It’s a big house, no question. Shabby and run down, but basically sound. And I can see that Ana’s getting more and more excited by it as we look around.

“Couldn’t you make the existing house more ecological and self-sustaining?” she queries.

Why would she want that, when we can have a new house built to our own design?

“I’d have to ask Elliot. He’s the expert in all this.”

Miss Kelly starts talking about horses and stables and paddocks, which I don't have the slightest interest in, and by the look of horror on Ana’s face, I don't think she does either.

“The paddock would be where the meadow is at the moment?” Ana asks, which Miss Kelly confirms.

But to give Miss Kelly her due, she has the sense to leave us alone once she has completed the tour of the house.

“Lot to take in?”  I ask Ana, as I take her in my arms and look into her face to try and gauge her feelings.

She nods.

“I wanted to check you liked it before I bought it.” Please say you like it as much as I do.

“The view?”

I nod.

“I love the view, and I like the house that’s here.” Yes!

“You do?”

“Christian, you had me at the meadow,” she smiles, and before I know it we’re kissing and smiling and laughing and hugging together.

Of course she totally gets this place, gets the view. I fucking knew she’d get the same vibe and feel the same about this place as me. 

And if she wants to keep the old house, well I guess I can live with that. We can have Elliot remodel it however she wants. 

I don’t fucking care, just so long as she’s going to be living there with me.  

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.