The house came alive once Mia returned from France. On her first evening home, we had a family meal to welcome her back, and I insisted that everyone had to attend, no excuses from the boys, family first for once. We had a wonderful evening, with lots of merriment as Mia regaled us with stories about her time in Paris.
However, I did have to warn Elliot not to be so crude as he teased Christian about his new girlfriend, having spent the day helping the girls move from Portland to Seattle. I swear I almost saw Christian blush when Elliot told him,
“By the way, Ana said to say ’Hi’ to you.”
“Did she now,” Christian muttered, as he toyed with his glass of wine, a frown marring his face.
“Aw, you’re all lovesick, aren’t you little bro.”
“Shut up, Elliot.”
“Looked like a very comfortable mattress I helped carry in for Ana’s bed, you’ll be pleased to hear. Nice and bouncy, if you catch my drift. I bet you can’t wait to try it out with her in their new place. You’ve really got some catching up to do in that department, haven’t you?”
Elliot had a huge grin on his face as he said this, play punching his brother’s arm.
“I told you to shut up,” Christian growled, as he grabbed Elliot’s fist to force it back.
“Enough, boys!” I stepped in. Elliot can be a touch insensitive at times. It’s always a fine line with Christian, knowing how far you can push him. Clearly he was very sensitive about his new girlfriend, and I didn't want anything to spoil the evening.
Still, I knew that underneath all that banter, Elliot really was a very caring big brother, especially after confiding his recent worries to me that Christian was becoming withdrawn and depressed. Thank goodness that after my unannounced visit the other weekend, I was able to reassure him that his fears were unfounded. Maybe he knew Christian better than the rest of us however, as he hadn’t seemed all that surprised when I told him about Anastasia. Maybe he already had his suspicions, as his new girlfriend Kate is her best friend.
After dinner, Mia begged Christian to play a piece for her on the piano.
“Please Christian, I got the sheet music especially so you could play it, because it is sooo beautiful,” she pleaded, as she handed it to him. “And there’s a cello accompaniment, so I thought maybe we could play it together eventually, once you’ve mastered it.”
Christian frowned as he studied it.
“Oh God, not more of that rubbish Twilight shit you like so much,” he groaned. I frowned back at him for swearing, and he shrugged his apology at me. “And anyway, when did you last play your cello?”
“Pleease, Christian. Just try playing it for me, then maybe I’ll be inspired to get back into playing. Or maybe I’ll just sing the vocals with you instead, because the words are really cool when Christina Perri sings them. I bet Anastasia would love it, it’s really romantic,” Mia implored him. And of course he was unable refuse his little sister, so he just sighed and took the music sheet over to the piano.
Christian is such a naturally gifted musician that after he’d sat and played around with the score for just a short while, he’d pretty much mastered it.
We all sat spellbound as we listened to him play. It was wonderful. Even Carrick, who is not really a musical person, was entranced.
“Oh darling, that was simply beautiful,” I told him when he’d finished playing. “What is that piece called? I’m not familiar with it at all.”
“Er… says here it’s called ‘A Thousand Years’. Like I said, it’s part of all that Twilight sh… rubbish Mia’s addicted to,” he pronounced grouchily. I suppose I could understand that unlike my daughter, Teen Vampire romance stories were hardly likely to appeal to Christian. But nevertheless, I noticed that he took the music score home with him when he left later that night.
It isn’t often that I have all three of my children at home, so having them visit two days running made it a very special weekend. Mia managed to persuade the boys to bring their respective new girlfriends round for dinner again the next evening, so that she could give them her personal stamp of approval. This was no problem with Elliot, as he happily agreed to bring Kate along, but needless to say Mia had her work cut out with Christian.
But she is pretty much an unstoppable force once she sets her mind to something, and in any case she can twist her big brother Christian round her little finger in a way that no one else can. She wheeled me in to add weight to her argument, so Christian finally agreed that he would bring Anastasia to our family dinner on Sunday.
“But be gentle with her, Mia,” he warned. “She’s not used to a big family like ours, she’s actually pretty shy and you…well you’re you,” he teased, as he ruffled her hair.
“Hey, don’t mess with the hair, you big bully,” she teased him back, as she reached up to ruffle his hair in return.
Of course Christian’s hair didn’t look any different, as it always looks tousled anyway. He’s one of those fortunate people who don’t have to spend hours on grooming, because he is just naturally a very good looking, very handsome young man. Almost too good looking I sometimes think; which is maybe why we all accepted so readily that he was gay. A lot of very ‘pretty’ young men do turn out to be gay after all, but now it seemed that we’d all been mistaken on that score with Christian. Mind you, I’m not sure that Carrick was totally convinced about this initially.
“Are you sure it’s not just wishful thinking on your part, Grace? This girl you saw him with, maybe she’s just a new PA or something? You know how he carries on working right through the weekend, so maybe he had her there to complete some paperwork,” he suggested, when I excitedly told him all about meeting Christian’s girlfriend when I returned from dropping in on him at his apartment.
“Carrick, I know it seems hard to believe after all this time with not so much as a hint of any kind of a girlfriend, but when I arrived at his apartment, they were in his bedroom together, for crying out loud. I nearly walked right in on them; it was only Taylor practically barring the way that stopped me from making a complete idiot of myself. And I’m telling you, there is no doubt at all in my mind that they were… well you know…”
“Put it this way – they weren't in there playing scrabble together, were they?” Elliot, who had dropped by for a quick visit at the time, called out from the other side of the room with a big smirk on his face.
“Yes, thank you Elliot, I think I get the picture,” Carrick huffed. “Well, even if that is the case, who is this girl anyway? What do we know about her? Christian is an extremely wealthy young man, so inevitably he’s going to present a very lucrative prize to a certain type of female. Especially as he’s so inexperienced with women; I think he’d easily fall prey to their seductive feminine wiles. And you know how impulsive and unreasonable he can be at times, stubborn too, just like when he dropped out of Harvard…”
I quickly interrupted him then, not wanting him to start up about all that again.
But Carrick finds it so hard to switch off his protective father/lawyer mode, so of course he couldn’t help himself, he still had to quiz Elliot about the girls after he’d spent the day with them helping with their move. I think Carrick was reassured to discover that he knew Katherine Kavanagh’s father, as he’d dealt with him in a professional capacity and considered him to be a respectable kind of man.
“Hmm, so at least Kate comes from a decent family,” he pondered. “But this Anastasia, we really don’t know anything about her at all do we?”
“Dad, you worry too much. Just chill, Ana’s a real nice girl, very honest and down to earth. You’ll see for yourself when you meet her. You’re just gonna love her, I know you are,” Elliot assured his father, who didn’t look at all convinced.
The thought of Christian bringing home his first girlfriend was indeed a very novel one, and of course Mia was just dying to meet her. She made me tell her every little detail that I could possibly recall about Anastasia several times over that day, as we planned out and made preparations for the meal.
“So, is she stunningly beautiful, like in a top model kind of way? I mean Christian is so ridiculously hot that he could have practically any girl he wanted, couldn’t he? Or guy, come that. Do you think maybe he’s bi rather than gay, Mom?”
“Really, Mia! No, I don’t think your brother is bi-sexual, I believe it’s simply a case of him being a late bloomer as far as girls are concerned, but now he’s met the right girl, she’s awakened his interest romantically. He’s been spending all of his time up to now totally immersed and focused on work, which of course goes a long way to explaining why he’s as successful as he is. Speaking of which, you ought to talk to him to get his advice about this plan of yours to set up a high end catering business, now that you’ve completed your Parisian haute cuisine course.”
“Yeah, Mom, I was planning to. I mean, he’s like the ace man, the top dude when it comes to all that business stuff isn’t he?” she said proudly. She’s always looked up to Christian in such a touching way.
“And as for Anastasia, I would describe her as being beautiful in a very natural way, unlike those fake model types you see, plastered in makeup and so forth. I think that’s probably why she appeals to Christian – she must seem like a breath of fresh air to him in his high powered, executive world.”
“Oh I can’t wait to meet her. I just know we’re going to be best friends,” Mia sighed.
“That would be lovely, darling. So tonight, let’s make a real effort so that both she and Kate are made to feel very welcome. I really want them to feel part of this family, so that the boys are happy to bring them home any time they want. That way, we’ll really get to know them, won't we?”
“Of course, Mom, you know you can count on me,” Mia beamed happily.
Elliot arrived first with his new girlfriend Kate. She seemed a lovely girl, very attractive, as well as confident and outgoing. She was clearly besotted with Elliot, as she hung on his every word and couldn’t take her eyes off him. But she was also a very bright and talented young woman, and Carrick seemed quite taken with her, as he chatted with her about her father. I hoped she'd be a good influence on Elliot, help him to settle down, instead of having a new girlfriend just about every week. He was very different from his brother in that respect, that was for sure.
Then we heard Christian’s car arrive, so Carrick and I went and waited for them by the front door.
“Don’t you dare spoil this evening with any of your nasty, suspicious probing about Anastasia’s motives with regard to Christian. I’ll never forgive you if you upset our son in any way that would prevent him from bringing her home again,” I hissed at Carrick, who looked rather wounded by my words.
“Of course not, I’d never do that,” he protested.
As I saw them get out of the car and make their way over to us, I was thrilled to see them holding hands. They looked so natural together, and I had to pinch myself to be convinced this was actually happening. Yes, it’s really true, Christian has a girlfriend. I didn't just dream it.
“Anastasia, you’ve met my mother, Grace. This is my Dad, Carrick.” Christian politely made the formal introductions – I brought my children up to show good manners at all times.
“Mr. Grey, what a pleasure to meet you,” Anastasia smiled, as she took his outstretched hand.
“The pleasure is all mine, Anastasia,” Carrick responded. I saw his eyes shrewdly examining her and then softening as he failed to detect the slightest hint of ‘gold-digger’ about this young woman. I relaxed a little then, relieved. See, I told you she was a lovely young girl, didn't I?
“Please, call me Ana,” she insisted.
“Ana, how lovely to see you again,” I told her, as I wrapped her in a big welcoming hug. “Come in, my dear.”
Then Mia, who had been chatting amiably to Kate and Elliot in the living room, suddenly realized that her other brother had arrived.
“Is she here?” she screeched, as she came running down the hall, and I saw Anastasia looking over at Christian rather nervously.
“That would be Mia, my little sister,” he quietly informed her.
“Anastasia! I’ve heard so much about you,” exclaimed my daughter, as she gave her a big hug.
“Ana, please,” she replied, seeming rather bemused as Mia dragged her inside.
“He’s never brought a girl home before,” Mia told her excitedly.
“Mia, calm down,” I told her, as I saw Christian rolling his eyes, very aware that this was new territory for all of us.
“Hello, darling,” I said, as I kissed my dear boy on both cheeks, and was relieved to see that he was still smiling as he shook his father’s hand.
As we made our way into the living room, there were more greetings, which I noticed seemed rather cool between Kate and Christian, but then Elliot played his part to make Ana feel welcome by giving her a big hug. I think maybe the poor girl felt rather overwhelmed by all this attention. Just as well I resisted the temptation to invite the grandparents over as well, even though I knew they would have loved to have been included.
But then it was just the sweetest thing to see Christian standing there by Ana’s side, with his arm around her protectively, pulling her even closer to him. They made such a lovely couple, and I suddenly realized that we were all just gawping and staring at them, I suppose because it seemed such an unbelievable sight – one that we never expected to see. Christian with a girlfriend. Even Carrick just stood there gawping at them with a soppy little grin on his face, before he quickly pulled himself together.
“Drinks? Prosecco?” he offered.
“Please,” Christian and Ana answered in unison, which was again so very sweet, and showed how they already seemed be thinking as one.
Mia clapped her hands in delight. “You’re even saying the same things. I’ll get them.”
“Dinner’s almost ready,” I told everyone, as I followed my daughter out of the room.
Once we were in the kitchen and out of ear shot, Mia turned to me and trilled in her usual over the top manner,
“Mom, they are just sooo cute together aren’t they? I mean Anastasia is just the sweetest thing, and you could see Christian doing his alpha male overprotective thing by putting his arm possessively round her like that, you know, after Elliot hugged her. He is obviously crazy about her. And now I totally get what you were saying about her being a natural beauty, she’s lovely. I really like her,” Mia pronounced with a contented sigh.
“I’m pleased to hear it, Mia darling. I like her very much too. Now, are you going to take that Prosecco in to them while I get this dinner on the table?”
I couldn’t help noticing Christian holding Anastasia back to whisper urgently in her ear as everyone made their way into the dining room, and I just hoped it wasn’t some kind of a lovers tiff, although it didn’t look too promising, judging by the expressions on their faces.
As we all sat together around the table, I could see Mia getting on like a house on fire with Kate, which I was pleased about. But I could see Christian and Ana continuing to whisper to each other, and I wasn't the only one who noticed either.
“What are you two whispering about?” Kate boldly asked, making it clear that she was not a shy young woman, especially as she didn't even quail when Christian gave her one of his infamous black looks.
“Just about my trip to Georgia,” Anastasia answered. I didn't know anything about this, but I guessed that was possibly what she and Christian had been whispering about. He didn't like the idea of her going away, maybe?
“How was José when you went to the bar with him on Friday?” Kate asked Ana, with what seemed like a challenging glance at Christian.
I looked over at Christian, and was shocked to see a look of fury in his eyes. Who on earth was this José? An ex-boyfriend of Ana’s maybe? But why was Kate bringing this up now?
“He was fine,” Ana murmured. Christian leaned over and whispered to her again, and I saw her literally squirming in her seat. This did not look promising, and I worried that things were already going wrong for this young couple. I hoped that it was just some kind of a misunderstanding.
Then, as Gretchen was bringing the food in, the phone rang, and it turned out to be the hospital for me. Worryingly, we had another measles case. If only people would have gotten their kids vaccinated! It made me reminisce about when our children were small, although the worst thing they ever had was chicken pox, with poor Elliot getting far more spots than the other two.
Much to my relief, Christian seemed to have gotten over his snit with Ana, as he relaxed and joined in the conversation with everyone, so I took the opportunity to chat to Ana to get to know her a bit better. She told me how their move to Seattle had gone very well, and from what she said it sounded like a very nice apartment that Kate’s father has settled them in. I hoped they’d be very happy there, and I was just so happy they’d moved up closer to the boys here in Seattle.
Then the conversation turned to Paris, as Mia and Kate chatted about their favorite things to do with the city. Ana confessed she’d never been there, and I suspected she’d probably never even left mainland USA. Christian said he thought Anastasia would prefer London in any case, and I couldn't help thinking that he could easily take her to Paris and London; in fact he could show her the world, they could share so many wonderful experiences together. Grace, stop it. You’re getting way ahead of yourself. They’ve only just got together haven’t they?
The talk of Paris brought back so many happy memories because Carrick and I honeymooned there, more years ago than I cared to recall. I looked over at Carrick, and he smiled back at me happily, as he recalled it too. We have certainly been blessed in our very happy marriage. He was a tower of strength for me when I discovered that I couldn’t have biological children of my own, and thought that my world had collapsed. But as is often the way in life, what seemed the closing of one door, was in fact the opening of another.
Adopting our three wonderful children has brought the most indescribable joy into our lives, even if it has also provided many challenges over the years – especially with Christian. But he was the one who needed us the most; he was the one who had existed in the type of hell that no child should ever have to endure for four long years, before we finally got to him, and I thanked my lucky stars every day that we were given the chance to rescue our darling boy. Thank God that some sort of guardian angel was watching over him to ensure that I was the one on duty at the hospital on the day that he was brought in, only just alive. Because that angel would have known that once I’d seen him, I would have moved heaven and earth to be allowed to take care of him.
So as I looked over at him, sitting there with his sweet new girlfriend that he had obviously fallen head over heels in love with, I found myself hoping and praying that same guardian angel was going to make sure he got the final key to happiness in life that he deserved. Materially, he had everything and more that any man could ever wish for, but as his mother, I knew that he needed love in his life to finally make him the complete man he should be. The happy, kind, loving man that we sometimes caught a glimpse of – I think Mia probably saw more of that side of him than anyone else. But watching him, seeing how solicitous he was when Ana choked on her wine, I could see that’s how he was with her too.
I was thrilled to see how Kate and Elliot couldn’t take their eyes off each other either. It seemed that love was in the air for both my boys, and I was delighted.
After dinner, as Mia and I were clearing away, Christian came into the kitchen, towing Ana behind him.
“I’m going to show Anastasia the backyard,’ he pronounced, as I happily waved them out. No doubt he wanted to be alone with her, I smiled to myself. Who would ever have believed this would be happening, even just a short while ago? Christian taking his girlfriend out for a romantic walk, holding her hand, stealing kisses. I hugged myself with glee at this wonderful turn of events.
They were gone quite a while, and it was only when Elliot and Kate were making moves to leave that I finally allowed Mia to go and find them, having ordered her to leave them alone previously.
“Let them be, Mia darling. Give them some space, some time alone together,” I insisted.
Mia sighed irritably as she looked over at Kate and Elliot sitting together on the couch again, barely able to keep their hands off each other - it was plain to see that there was a very strong attraction indeed between them.
“I think those two need to get a room,” Mia whispered loudly to me, and as she pulled a face, I had to hide a smile at my daughter’s reaction. Carrick and I used to be just like that, many moons ago. Never did us any harm.
Mia turned up with Christian and Anastasia just as Kate and Elliot were making their farewells.
“We should go, too – you have interviews tomorrow,” Christian reminded Ana.
“We never thought he’d find anyone!” Mia exclaimed, as she hugged Ana, and I could see Christian rolling his eyes again.
“Take care of yourself, Ana dear,” I told her warmly. But before I could embrace her, Christian grabbed her hand and pulled her over to his side.
“Let’s not frighten her away or spoil her with too much affection,” he grumbled.
“Christian, stop teasing,” I scolded him, understanding that my son was just being protective of his girl, worried that she’d find us all rather overpowering, recalling that he’d told Mia yesterday that Ana was shy and unused to large families. As he bent down to kiss me good bye, I thought it was very thoughtful of him to be so caring for her feelings.
“Mr. Grey – goodbye and thank you,” Ana held out her hand to Carrick, but seemed taken by surprise when he hugged her instead. Of course I was delighted that he seemed to have forgotten his misgivings about this young woman.
“Please, call me Carrick. I do hope we see you again, very soon, Ana,” he smiled at her.
With that, they headed out to the car where Taylor was holding the door open ready for them. I’d made sure he’d had something to eat while he was waiting to drive them back, as I usually did whenever he brought Christian over. I always felt happy when Taylor was around my son, reassured that someone was looking out for him, so the least I could do was make sure the man was kept well fed and watered. He was always very polite and appreciative anyway.
“I just hope Christian wasn’t boring Ana this evening when they went outside, because do you know where I found them? In the boathouse, where he was showing her his rowing trophies from Harvard. I mean, you’d think he’d find something more romantic to do with her, wouldn't you?” Mia commented, as we made our way back indoors.
“Oh I imagine he found other things to show her too,” I smiled, imagining that Christian had no doubt managed to steal a kiss or two with his lovely young lady during the course of the evening.
If you would like to listen to the music that Mia wanted Christian to play, click on these youtube links.
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.