I couldn’t wait to see Christian and Ana to hear all about their extended honeymoon, so I arranged a welcome home family barbecue for Sunday, the day after they got back from their honeymoon, and before they went back to work.
I’d really missed them, and I had to admit that I was also quite anxious to check that everything had gone smoothly for the young couple, knowing how challenging Christian can be, how intense and overwhelming he might be for Anastasia to cope with at times, especially as they haven’t known each other that long, and she is only a young girl of twenty one after all.
When they arrived, they certainly looked tanned and well, although Ana seemed rather preoccupied as Christian talked about all the places they had visited. Perhaps she was a little sad at having to come back to the real world after what sounded like a dream honeymoon.
Listening to them brought back so many happy memories of our honeymoon, and I wistfully wondered where all the years had gone. It made me think that now the kids were grown up, maybe Carrick and I should think about having a second honeymoon in Europe. When I voiced my thoughts out loud, it was obvious from the look on the boy’s faces that they clearly thought we were far too ancient to be thinking about such things. However, I was well aware that it was very easy to become lazy and complacent, and that you have to work to keep the romance alive in a marriage, especially after all these years.
Then Elliot started talking to Christian about the renovation work for the new house he’s bought - it always gladdens my heart to see my two sons both socializing and also collaborating on projects. Despite their banter and the vast differences in their respective personalities, it’s obvious they have great respect for each other, and trust each other’s judgment. I believe Christian has given Elliot some very sound financial advice to ensure his construction business continues to thrive and expand, while the various renovation projects that Elliot has handled have always been completed on time and to his brother’s very exacting standards.
With Christian’s okay, Elliot had shown us around the new property while they were away on their honeymoon. I was thrilled that Christian had acquired what was to all intents and purposes a family home for them, right here in the neighborhood. I hoped that it was an indication that one day at least, they planned to have children. I thought it would make a beautiful home, with a wonderful view, and was in an ideal location – not too far away from the grandparents who would be only too willing to do more than their fair share of babysitting duties when the time eventually came.
Whenever we have a barbecue, I always let Carrick deal with it, because according to him, it’s 'man’s work'. So Mia and I were more than happy to leave him to it, while we concentrated our efforts on preparing all the salads and other accompaniments. Mind you, at Mia’s suggestion we’d invited young Ethan Kavanagh along too, so she was rather more distracted than usual.
I could tell that she had taken a lot of trouble with her appearance to ensure that she looked casually gorgeous in her tight jeans and skimpy top, and Ethan’s eyes followed her round the whole time. And yet he still kept his distance from her, which probably made Mia all the more determined in her efforts to capture his attention. I couldn’t work out what was going on between them, so I decided I’d have to try and get to the bottom of things when I got a chance to talk to my daughter alone at some point.
It was hard to take my husband seriously as he carried out his 'real man' duties at the barbecue, because he was wearing the chef’s hat and James Bond ‘Licensed to Grill’ apron that Mia had given him for his last birthday. She’s always teased her father that he looks very similar to one of the actors who used to play James Bond, hence her gift of the appropriately themed apron.
I noticed that Ana found it hard not to giggle every time she looked at the way the silly hat wobbled precariously on his head as he slaved over the hot barbecue, and I was pleased to see she appeared to be slightly more relaxed around him. Hopefully, in time, things would get back to a more comfortable footing between them, which I knew Carrick desperately hoped for, as he’d never intended to upset his daughter-in-law with the whole prenup debacle. Poor man, his heart was in the right place and he meant well, so perhaps he’d learned his lesson to be more tactful around her in future, although being a typical forthright male, I didn’t hold out too much hope of that.
Luckily, the decent weather held just long enough for us to finish our food before the heavens opened and it started to rain, sending us all scurrying indoors. As everyone sat around casually chatting and relaxing in the wonderful way that families do, I saw Christian heading for the piano. That meant he was either very relaxed and happy, or troubled and in torment, because I knew these extremes of mood were when the call of music was greatest for him. I hoped it was the former, but no doubt his choice of music once he started playing properly rather than tinkering around would give us the best indication of his mood.
While Christian was otherwise occupied, I made a point of going over and sitting with Ana. I wanted to let her to know that although I had no intention of being an overbearing or interfering mother-in-law, I would always be more than happy to provide a shoulder for her to lean on, or a sympathetic ear if she needed it, as her own mother lived so far away.
“Sounds as if you had a wonderful time on your honeymoon, my dear. What was your favorite from all those wonderful places you visited?” I asked, as I smiled warmly at her.
“It’s far too difficult to single anywhere out, because I loved every place we went to, for all sorts of different reasons. I’m very lucky, Christian really spoiled me,” she said, her eyes instantly drawn over to him, as her obvious love shone out.
“Did my workaholic son actually manage to relax and unwind enough to leave work behind him?” I queried.
“Oh, he still worked every day,” Ana laughed. “Didn’t matter where we were in the world, he still checked into the office. But that was okay. That’s Christian. I can't expect him to change the way he is, can I? And he made sure we still did so many wonderful things that I really didn’t mind if he needed some time to himself to work for a while each day,” she explained.
“Maybe it was also nice to have a little time for yourself as well?” I gently probed.
Ana looked slightly shocked, as yet again her eyes shot over to her new husband.
“I suppose, so, yes,” she quietly admitted.
“It’s just that I understand how very intense and demanding my son can be at times,” I said quietly, as I looked her straight in the eye, trying to convey that she could trust me with any concerns or worries she may have, without fear that it would be taken as a criticism of my son.
“Yes, you could say that,” Ana murmured. “Inevitably we did have a few ups and downs. I guess it takes some time to get used to being married.”
“That’s perfectly natural, and let me tell you that Carrick and I still have our ups and downs, even after all these years. So, yes, being married certainly does take some getting used to, no doubt about that. But I'm sure you’ll both be fine, you’ll get there.”
“Yes, I'm sure we will,” Ana smiled back at me.
“Ana, I was wondering, would you consider doing me a favor?” I asked her next.
“Of course. Anything, just ask.”
“Look, I know Christian has opened up to you about his difficult childhood, and the profound effect it had on him, and I can’t tell you how delighted I am that he has. But I’m sure that I don’t need to tell you how hard it is to get any kind of personal information out of Christian, and I can't help it, silly old woman that I am, I still worry about him. So what I wondered was, because you've brought about such a wonderful transformation in him, I would really like it if we could keep in close contact, maybe meet up for lunch, say once a week? Just the two of us, so you can reassure this old mother hen about her son. And if there was anything you felt you needed to know, or to talk through, then I’d be more than happy, if you felt I might be able to help in any way.”
“Sure, I’d really like that. I’d never want you to feel I’d somehow come between you and your son, Grace. I know Christian thinks the world of you, that you were his savior who rescued him,” Ana replied earnestly.
“No, my dear, you are the savior, you have rescued him from a lifetime of loneliness and solitude, and for that, I will never be able to thank you enough,” I said, as I gripped her hand.
Just then, I realized that apart from the music playing on the piano, I could hear singing. As I looked up, I saw that I wasn’t the only one who’d noticed. Everyone in the room was staring in the same direction.
Because it was Christian who was singing.
‘I'll go wherever you will go,
Way up high or down low,
I'll go wherever you will go’.
As soon as he realized that he had become the center of attention, Christian frowned, then stopped playing and singing.
"Go on. I've never heard you sing, Christian. Ever,” I whispered as I stared in wonder at my son, but it seemed the moment had passed for him. He closed the piano lid and walked away, as Ana went over and joined him.
I used to sing to the children all the time when they were small, which although Christian seemed to really enjoy, he never once joined in. So, despite the fact that he is a very gifted musician, I'd never actually heard him sing out loud before.
But now, because of the wonderful healing love he'd discovered with Anastasia, he’d finally found his beautiful singing voice. I was certain that his soul would be all the better for finding this way of allowing his true musical nature to run free.
I couldn’t help myself. I was so overcome with emotion that I knew I was about to burst into tears. I made an excuse about making some tea for everyone and then hastily made my escape to the kitchen, where Carrick followed me out, having seen my reaction.
“Our boy was singing, Cary. Actually singing out loud,” I blubbed into my hanky. “That shows how happy he is, how happy Ana has made him.”
“I know, my love. There’s been such a transformation in him; it’s wonderful to see, isn’t it?” He put his arms around me and gave me a big hug.
“I know you think I’m soppy, but I really think Christian was destined to meet Ana for her to change his life, because however much love we tried to give him, we could never reach him the way she has, could we?”
“No, we couldn’t, but it wasn’t for lack of trying, certainly not on your part, Grace.”
“Or yours, Carrick. I think it was even harder for you, because Christian always had such an issue dealing with male adults because of the abuse he’d suffered. But you never gave up, did you?”
“Of course not. Christian’s our son. However difficult and challenging he’s been at times, I knew that he was also extremely vulnerable and unquestionably in need of strong, unconditional love from us, even if it had to be tough love at times.”
“But I still feel we must have got something badly wrong for Christian to have been with… that woman… for so long, and for us not to have had the slightest inkling. I’m his mother; I should have sensed something wasn’t right, shouldn’t I?”
I felt so guilty, to think what had been going on right under our noses, when we should have been protecting him.
“That was unquestionably down to how manipulative and evil that predatory pedophile bitch Elena Lincoln was. Pretending to be your friend, all the while taking advantage of your good nature to allow her to prey on our son’s weaknesses. You couldn’t possibly have known what she was really like. You mustn't blame yourself, because don't forget that hindsight is a wonderful thing.”
“Christian said that Ana has always hated Elena. She somehow instinctively sensed that she was pure evil. That bitch didn't manage to pull the wool over her eyes,” I pointed out.
“Perhaps because Ana was coming from a different place to you, perhaps because Christian told Ana a lot more than he ever told us. Maybe Ana was better informed to make a more accurate assessment.”
“Perhaps. But I'm so thankful that our daughter-in-law has been such a positive influence to counteract all the harm that harlot has inflicted on Christian. Thank God for Ana,” I stated fervently.
“Amen to that,” Carrick agreed.
When Ana arrived for the lunch date we had arranged for the following week, in a convenient restaurant not too far from the hospital where I work, she was escorted by a tall Afro-American female.
“Grace, this is Prescott, my personal CPO. We will also be joined by Sawyer, whom you’ve already met, once he’s parked the car,” Ana explained, as she sighed. “Sorry to be so formal, but I get told off if I use their first names. Apparently it’s not very professional.”
“Ma’am,” Prescott nodded to me, as she scanned the room and then sat herself down at a table just across the aisle from us. I knew Carrick had been talking to Christian about increasing security for all the family, but even so I was surprised that he felt it necessary for Ana to have two members of his team to escort her. I put it down to the fact that he clearly felt very protective of his new wife.
“So, have you settled back in at work after your honeymoon?” I asked, while we both glanced at the menu.
“Yes, although it’s hard after such a long break, and with all the changes at work. But please don't tell Christian I said that. He’d love nothing better than for me to stay at home all day and twiddle my thumbs, but I've told him I'd die of boredom,” Ana whispered, as she glanced over nervously at Prescott as Sawyer walked in and joined her to sit at their table.
“Your secret is safe with me,” I whispered back as I smiled in sympathy, thinking it must be driving the poor girl mad having her privacy invaded this way, worried that every word she said would be reported back to her husband. She was discovering the negative side of being a billionaire's wife, which balanced out some of the advantages of being incredibly wealthy.
Once we’d placed our orders, having both chosen just a light chicken salad, I sat back and spoke quietly.
“Ana, I'm sure you’ve worked out for yourself why Christian is so overprotective, as he had the good sense to confide in you about his traumatic childhood.”
“As I understand it, he feels tremendous guilt that he couldn’t protect his birth mother, but he also experiences conflicting anger and abandonment issues. He had a terrible start in life, didn’t he? I guess it really is no wonder that he sometimes suffers from such terrible nightmares.”
“He still has those?” I sighed, remembering how he used to wake up screaming in terror night after night when we first adopted him.
“Yes, just now and again, especially if we… if there is any kind of dispute between us. In these nightmares, all kinds of irrational fears about my safety seem to surface. So I’m trying to tolerate his over protectiveness to a degree, but I can't deny that I don't always find it easy. I still need to be me after all.”
“Of course you do, my dear,” I sympathized. Our food arrived, and as we started on our lunch, I decided I had to broach the subject that was uppermost on my mind.
“Ana, I’m sorry to bring the subject up, but I need to ask if you're aware whether Christian has heard from that woman again. Because if she is still playing any kind of mind games with him …”
“As far as I know, he hasn’t heard from that bitch again. Trust me, Grace, if I found out that she was trying to wheedle her way back into his life again, I would be the one giving her another well deserved bitch slapping,” Ana stated with strong conviction.
“You had her number right from the very beginning, didn't you?” I said admiringly. “Yet I let that she-devil hide in the very bosom of our family. I let her groom my teenage son with her sick pedophile ways, right under my nose, for six whole years. What kind of a mother must you think I am?”
“I think you are a wonderful, loving mother, who chose to see the good in someone, rather than believe such evil was possible from someone who purported to be a good friend. And knowing a bit about Christian’s nature, I'm sure he was pretty much a closed book, an expert at keeping secrets from everyone, however much you encouraged him to be open with you. So I know you did the best you could with a very difficult son, and I know Christian feels very guilty for all the pain he’s put you through. The whole Elena affair was not your fault Grace. She’s a very clever and evil manipulative bitch, and I'm just glad she finally showed her true colors to him. She claimed she wanted to help us, but I just sensed her motives were anything but helpful, however much Christian initially defended her.”
“So she tried to manipulate you too?”
“Oh yes. Even after Christian had told her to back off several times, she still kept trying to see me behind his back, but it misfired on her in the end, because I just kept forwarding her letters and emails to Christian for him to deal with. And you can imagine how much he liked her going against his express wishes.”
“I wish I’d pieced it all together sooner. I knew she was acting rather bizarrely, but I couldn’t figure out why she apparently disapproved of Christian’s relationship with you so strongly. I just dismissed it because I thought it was none of her business, but now I can see quite clearly that she was jealous of you, because she knew you were a real threat to her, to her influence over Christian. I’m so very sorry, Ana. Things should never have been allowed to get to that stage. Considering Carrick’s a lawyer and I'm a doctor, we should have been able to see her for what she was a lot sooner than we did.”
“You can’t go blaming yourselves, Grace. I hold her totally to blame for the whole thing. So have you seen her at all?”
“Good God, no! I don’t think I could be held responsible for my actions if I did. I've taken steps to ensure our paths will never meet again.”
“What kind of steps?” Ana asked curiously.
“Let’s just say that she’s fallen to the very bottom of the social ladder she’s been trying so hard to climb for so many years. I can guarantee that no one worth knowing will have anything to do with her from now on.”
“Really?” A slow smile spread over Ana’s lovely face. “I'm delighted to hear it. As I told the sick child molester, I’d like to toss her into the seventh circle of hell and then walk away smiling, but I suppose being totally socially eviscerated will be a suitable punishment for someone like her.”
“Enough talk of that bitch. Let’s find something else to talk about instead, hmm?” I suggested. “Now, tell me, have you any clue what on earth is going on between Mia and Kate’s brother Ethan?”
And so the subject of Elena-the-bitch-troll-Lincoln was closed for now, as Ana and I spent some time theorizing about why on earth Ethan and Mia were pussy footing around each other, before we both headed back to our respective jobs.
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.