Monday, January 13, 2014

BOOK IV - Chapter XVIII - Christian and Anastasia Fanfiction


Love and Marriage

Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your heart or burn down your house, you can never tell.
Joan Crawford

It has been nearly three days since we’ve had an appointment with Flynn, and three days since my attempt to teach Anastasia control through total submission. It was the scariest, yet one of the most sensual experiences we have both have experienced by far. I don’t know if I would try it at this intensity again. I wouldn’t have attempted had I not been freaked out with the bewilderment she was feeling. The ‘up the creek without a paddle’ look on her face when I asked her to wait for me with Taylor and Sawyer in Flynn’s office shook me to my core. Our emotions feed off of one another that if one of us is despair, it puts the other one on a tail spin.

I’m Lost Without You - Sting

Anastasia has enjoyed her experience despite my fears, but she added that she could try it again without the ball gag, upgrading it from soft limit to hard limit. And that was the kinkiest fuckery she’s ever had which apparently was beyond life affirming, assuaging all of my distressed male egos. But, I still can’t stop alarming about the paparazzi ambush and harassment. Teaching Anastasia how to deal with them is not enough; their attacks have to be stopped at the source. And it’s Welch’s job to determine that. He said he has some information to share. Worrying about what his findings might be is also gnawing at my mind big time; all kind of scenarios are running through my head and none of them are good. I pace my study a few times, wearing a virtual track on my floor. Then I stand before the floor to ceiling window, I gaze into the distance without seeing. Finally the orange lights of the approaching sunset in the sliver of the horizon behind the cityscape bathe Seattle in its warmth and help ease something inside of me. Welch’s supposed to be bringing me a file and discuss the findings, and he’s not here yet. There’s a knock on my door and Taylor appears at my study.

“Is Welch here?” I ask tersely.

“No, sir. I wanted to discuss something else before he got here.” I nod to give him a go ahead. Taylor clears his throat. Lately, he too has been stressed and nervous which usually doesn’t show on his face. He takes a deep breath and looks up at me.

“What’s in your mind Taylor?” I ask as I sit in my chair.

“Mr. Grey, as you know we have nine days left to my wedding. I wanted to discuss the security for the wedding I have allocated for you and Mrs. Grey as well as how your daily security would be handled in my absence.”

“You’re taking full two weeks, right?” I ask.

“Gail and I decided that that we can honeymoon a week then when things are calmer, we can just take another extended first anniversary vacation. But, I’d prefer that Gail gets her two full weeks off.”

“We can manage in your absence Taylor. Take the time off. It’s your honeymoon for God’s sake!” I chide him. I don’t want the guilt of cutting a couple’s honeymoon in half. My former self wouldn’t know the difference, but since I’ve had an amazing honeymoon with the love of my life, I can’t deny that experience to the two of the best employees I’ve got. Have things got so tangled up lately that head of my security doesn’t feel comfortable enough to even want to take his full honeymoon? Fuck! Lately, my fuckeduppedness is catching up with all of us and I don’t want this to become the story of my life. These problems have to be resolved. Sooner rather than later.

The Book of my Life - Sting

“No, sir. I am in constant contact with Welch as well as Mr. Pella. I think it’s best that we take one week off. Ryan and Sawyer are capable, but I would like one other security on board in my absence. Welch has sent me a few candidates. I will look them over and recommend you two among them, sir.”

“How about the additional female security detail for Mrs. Grey?”

“I have examined a few candidates’ bios. There’s one ex-Secret Service who guarded one of the first ladies who is currently in Pella’s personal detail. She comes with high recommendations from Welch and Pella both. She protected a particularly picky first lady who was very much into her privacy. She has managed to do her job but also gave the first lady as much freedom of movement as her station would allow while protecting her from constant daily threats.”

“Why did she leave the Secret Service if she was very good at her job?”

“When they’re very good at their jobs, they’re noticed by well-paying private security. She wouldn’t leave her position for all the perks of serving the first family, but Mr. Pella is an expert in luring the best of the best.”

“Is she still on his payroll?”

“For the time being, but he is willing to give her on loan until this threat is gone,” he says emphasizing ‘on loan’. That means Pella doesn’t want to part with her services.

“What’s her name?” I ask, and Taylor extends me her file.

I open the file up and peruse her qualifications.

Name: Melissa Tiber

There is a laminated picture of her. Red hair, blue eyes. She’s wearing white shirt with black pants suit. Her hands are tied behind her back. She’s looking ahead with a stoic expression.

“Taylor, when was this picture taken?” She looks to be no more than 25 in the picture, but this couldn’t be. “This report says that she served Mrs. Clinton on her husband’s second term. His second term was between 97-2001. It’s been 10 years since he’s been out of the office. She’s about 39 years old, will be 40 this year. Are you sure she’s physically capable to carry out duties expected of her? Or is Pella playing a joke on me?” I ask frowning.

“It’s a current picture, sir. Taken within this year. And, no, Mr. Pella is not playing a joke, Mr. Grey. Miss Tiber is remarkable. I’ve never seen anything like it. Mr. Pella would never part with her services because she’s almost the same caliber as Anthony Decimus which is why she is only on loan. She’s been in his service for a long time. I have her performance on video on the thumb drive. This is their weekly workout regimen and just been recorded within the past month,” he says and hands me a thumb drive. I take the thumb drive Taylor extends me and give him a skeptic glance.

“Let’s see this and get it out of the way,” I say impatiently and insert the thumb drive to my laptop. I wake my screen up by moving my mouse and locate the thumb drive. Double clicking on the video icon, I sit back and watch the video my arms crossed. Taylor takes his place in the corner, but he can see the video as well as I can. There are four people training in the workout session: three males and one female. All the faces of the male trainees are blurred. I turn to Taylor raising a quizzical eyebrow, and he shrugs.

“Mr. Pella doesn’t like to make the identity of his men known.”

Two minutes into the video I can see that they’re working on muscle exhaustion with number of pull-ups, pushups and sit-ups. I know the drill; they’re playing with pain. I lean in with interest. This is the key to mental toughness, because you can become tougher by working out harder to get your body an increased ability to build its pain tolerances without getting yourself injured. Then we watch them running, swimming or rucking for miles.

 “This is military training,” I note.

“Wait till you see them training in the miserable water and air temperatures,” Taylor say with just an excited fluctuation of his voice and that is as much excitement as Taylor will show which is the equivalent of a cartwheel of a normal excited person.

“Ok. I’m sold. She’s hired pending her interview. Have her come to the Escala tomorrow morning.”

“Yes, sir.”

There’s a knock on the door just when my Blackberry buzzes. I check the caller ID as Taylor answers the door.

“Hi mom,” I answer the phone. Taylor's holding his finger indicating one minute whoever is on the other side of the door.

“Darling, I’m sorry to disturb you this evening, but I am calling you early enough before you make any plans for Thanksgiving. I know we always celebrated together but now that you’re married; I didn’t know whether you wanted to celebrate it there at your own place on your first Thanksgiving with Ana. But since she’s pregnant and not feeling so well, I thought I’d save her the burden, so I’m inviting you both here for Thanksgiving.”

“It’s about 20 days away mom, but I think we can come. Although I don’t know if Ana wants to visit her dad.”

“Oh, we can invite Ray as well. He’s family after all.”

“Great! I’ll let Ana know and she can give you her father’s phone number. I’m sorry to cut you short, mom, but I got a meeting coming up right now.”

“Meeting? At nearly 8:00 p.m. in the evening? Darling, you have a young pregnant wife and you’re newly married. You should cut them short.”

“Yes, mother. But, Ana’s taking a nap. She’s been in need of two naps lately. And don’t worry, I’m keeping an eye on her,” I sigh, trying not to sound exasperated.

“Alright then, give my love to her. Love you sweetheart!”

“Love you, too, mom,” I say and nod at Taylor to let Welch in.

“Good evening Mr. Grey,” he says extending his hand. I take his proffered hand and shake it.

“Welch,” I nod. “What do you have for me that couldn’t wait till tomorrow?”

“The connection from Miss Kavanagh’s wedding planner.”

“I’m listening…” I say and as I indicate a chair for him to sit. He takes a seat after placing a file on my desk.

“We managed to narrow the suspects down to one person. The wedding planner Janet Schiller recently got involved with a man. We believe that this is the man who leaked the private conversation Mrs. Grey was having with Miss Kavanagh.” My eyes grow cold with this revelation.

“Who is he and how can you be sure that he was the one?”

“Miss Schiller stated that she has not heard from him after we have questioned her and the staff. He’s the only one who was left to be questioned. We’ve gotten a name and address for him, but the name as well as the address turned out to be fake. The date they started seeing one another is right after Mr. and Mrs. Kavanagh made a deposit for her services as Miss Kavanagh’s wedding planner.”

“What was the boyfriend’s name?”

“He called himself Eric Fawkes.”

“Eric Fawkes?” The name doesn’t ring bell. “What else can you tell me about this Eric Fawkes?”

Welch leans back in his chair. Placing his elbows on the arms of the chair, he steeples his hands. Then he gives a cursory glance at Taylor. Taylor’s face looks stoic, but his jaw tightens.

“What do you two know that I don’t?” I ask growing impatient.

“Do you know who Guido Fawkes is, sir?” Welch asks. I rack my brain for the name and a matching face. Nothing comes up from my acquaintances.

“No one I know, but the only person with that moniker was rebel fighting for the Spanish to assassinate King James and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne of England in 1600.”

“One and the same,” Welch says nodding.

“Great! So, an English rebel from 1600s who was executed I might add is now releasing information about my wife’s pregnancy to the press?” I ask sarcastically, growing impatient.

Welch, chastised, clears his throat.

“No, sir. It’s just one part of the puzzle. We only have the character traits, a physical description and a fake name which may give a wealth of information on the character or the intent of the perp. We are trying to build his profile while we are still searching his identity. Currently, he seems to be three steps ahead of us.”

“You said one part of the puzzle. What’s the rest?”

“As you have noticed, the name I gave you was Eric Fawkes. Not Guido Fawkes. It took us a while to put those pieces together but, it clicked after Miss Schiller revealed something. The day he supposedly ran into Mrs. Grey and Miss Kavanagh from a distance, Mr. fake Fawkes muttered something under his breath. Miss Schiller couldn’t be sure whether he actually said it, or misunderstood.”

“What did he say?” I hiss, slamming my hands down on the table having grown completely impatient. To their credit, neither man jumps, but slightly flinches.

“He muttered, ‘the only verdict is vengeance’ and kissed Miss Schiller and departed. But before he left, Miss Schiller asked what he said and he told her he was trying to remember the lyrics from a song.”

“What does that mean?”

“That’s a line from a movie Mr. Grey. V for Vendetta,” Taylor blurts out. “Only, it’s not a song. It’s a movie line.”

“Are you absolutely sure?” I ask Taylor. I quickly make a mental note to re-watch the movie to understand the concept again.

“Yes, Mr. Grey. I checked it. The full line is ‘The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous,’” says Taylor.

I jump up from my seat and go to the window, gaze out the city of Seattle, now in the cover of the night, only illuminated by city lights like an intricate diamond necklace. I exhale a frustrated, angry breath.

“I ask again: Are you both absolutely sure? How can a man who is going after my wife talk of vindicating the vigilant and virtuous?”

“There’s more. He never said the rest of the lines. We just verified it. But there was another character on the movie named Eric Finch who was the chief of New Scotland Yard and the Minister of Investigations in the same movie. It is as if he is identifying himself with two characters on opposite sides of the law. We know that he has military background. It’s in his demeanor,” Welch explains.

“We have created a profile. What emerged is an ex-military who may have turned into a hired gun or a mercenary.”

“What?” I turn to face him immediately. “Are you absolutely sure?”

“Nothing is set in stone, Mr. Grey, but I had asked Pella to review the profile we’ve created. He agrees with our findings. We’ve checked the video feed from the surveillance, but he was very careful to not to give a full profile. We only have grainy images with only top of his head showing. Miss Schiller gave us a description of his profile and other measurements and descriptive marks; we now have a sketch. We’ve pulled some strings, and running his profile in various databases. Sawyer confirms that he looks like the man that was present when Mrs. Grey was at the establishment. People do take interest in you time to time, but for him to go to such lengths as if to study his subjects,” he says making me flinch, “requires the involvement of others. Clearly, he doesn’t know you well. He’s trying to get to know you. That means, it’s not personal. He’s doing it for somebody else.”

“You conclude that he’s not working for himself,” I state. It’s not a question.

“That’s our consensus. We have a list of suspects who has the motive and the money to hire such a man, but the list is led by two: Hyde and Lincoln. We have guards and couple of prisoners paid to keep an eye on Hyde. He’s shrewd. The day he went to jail, he beat some head honcho up to establish his place in the prison hierarchy.” That reminds me something else. There’s an upcoming court date, and I absolutely don’t want to put Anastasia through the pain of testifying in court.

“Taylor, talk to my fucking lawyers. I don’t care what they have to do; I want them to make sure that Mrs. Grey doesn’t have to testify at the court. And I want that bastard to be locked up for a very long time!”

“Yes, sir.”

“But Hyde doesn’t have the money to hire someone. He didn’t even have the money to pay for his own bail. He would not be…”

“He’s very smart and very resourceful Mr. Grey. We’re going to continue to keep tabs on him. Lincoln is being tailed but he has jammers in his house, so the phone conversations he makes are made on secured lines so far. There’s also that missing 53 million Dollars. That’s a substantial amount of money. If we track the money, we track the trail of the perpetrator.” 

“When do you come back from your honeymoon?” I ask turning to Taylor. He tries to hide a smile.

“November 19th sir.”

“Will you be out of country?”

“Yes sir, I have emailed you our itinerary. We’ll be in the Caribbean.” I start pacing in my study. Taylor will be gone in nine days. We will either have to find who was following Anastasia or determine his identity by then.  

“You have one week to determine his identity, or find him, Welch!”

“Sir, I don’t know if that’s enough time.”

“I don’t care how you have to come by that information, Welch. I want him identified and caught. And Taylor, let all the security members know, Mrs. Grey doesn’t get to take any unscheduled trips without my approval.”

“Uhm… sir.”

“Clearly there’s an unknown danger… If my security has a problem performing their jobs, now is the time to let me know, Taylor!” I hiss.

“No, sir,” he says shaking his head. He’s worried that Ana’s going to defy them. I’ll take care of that problem.

The door to my study opens, and Ana stands at the threshold, smiling. Her face falls when she sees Welch in my office.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had company, Christian. Am I interrupting a meeting?”

“Mrs. Grey,” says Welch standing up, smiling at Anastasia in greeting. “No ma’am, I was just leaving. Good evening, Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey,” he says nodding.

“Mr. Grey, I’ll contact you tomorrow, sir,” he says as he reaches the door.

Taylor walks him out.

“What was that all about?” she asks. I exhale slowly.

“Just security issues,” I say shrugging. “How are you feeling this evening Mrs. Grey?”

“Well rested, husband. Just a bit hungry.”

“Hungry? Let’s go feed you and the Blip,” I say trying to distance her from my study. “Come here,” I say as I walk around my desk. She grins and runs towards me, quickly closing the distance between us and jumps into my embrace.

“Slow down baby. We don’t want you getting hurt,” I chide her as I hold her up in my arms. She worries her bottom lip between her teeth with my admonishment.

“Don’t bite that lip, baby,” I whisper and take her lip into my mouth and suck it making my wife moan. The sound of her pleasure and her willingly offered lips are inviting me to kiss her deeply, leisurely, exploring her mouth anew. Her tongue meets mine, caressing, tangling and moving in a sensual dance.

My hand moves under her t-shirt, moving up her growing curves, and finally finds her straining nipples as she laces her legs around my torso. I groan in pleasure. I feel my erection growing, searching for her sex. She rocks her hips up and down over my erection. I can’t help but match her rhythm.

“Jesus Christ, Ana!” My wife has become an insatiable seducer of her husband. A low growl escapes my lips, my tongue glides down to her neck, then up reaching the shell of her ear.

“Christian! Don’t tease!” she begs as if she is unable to bear another second of not being taken. “Desk!” she shouts.

“Yes, ma’am!” I slip her off my waist.

Just as I’m about to sweep the papers off my desk to make room for the desk sex we both desperately need, Anastasia surprises me with her bewildered remark. Putting her index finger on the drawing, she raises her eyebrows and asks.

“Why do you have a drawing of Janet’s boyfriend?”

“Janet’s boyfriend?” I ask. 

“Yeah. Janet is Kate’s wedding planner. I’ve seen Janet twice with Kate since I’m her maid of honor, remember?” she says rolling her eyes. I narrow my gaze to admonish her but also nod at her to continue. “You should remember her name because you’ve questioned me about it only a few days ago.”

“I would remember it had you mentioned it, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t.”

“Oh, I thought I did. I only remember the boyfriend, because he came to steal kiss from his girlfriend which Mia and Kate thought was pretty romantic and he was trying to make out with her behind the curtain but as I told you three days ago, she shooed him away. But what I forgot to tell you is that he drove the van that brought some samples to Mr. and Mrs. Kavanagh’s house last week only because Kate was ordering her plates from a wedding catalogue Janet had. Mrs. Kavanagh didn’t like the samples they had in the showroom.”

“What? Why? Why would nobody tell us that?” I hiss. She gives me a confused look.

“Spring wedding. They only had the décor for the fall and winter weddings on the floor. They had the spring motif plates in their warehouse because there’s only enough space for samples on the showroom floor. That’s why!” she says narrowing her eyes, growing impatient. “He was helping Janet I guess.”

“How did you come by that information?”

“Why the sudden interest in Kate and Elliot’s wedding planning, Christian? You wouldn’t even come to taste the food for our wedding,” she says, hurt.

“And I’m not interested in Kate’s serving plates or cutlery to be used in her wedding, trust me. I’m sorry baby, but this is important.” She narrows her eyes on me so tight; you could blindfold her with dental floss. She finally sighs.

“Kate said that her wedding planner’s boyfriend was overly attentive of his girlfriend and very charming, helpful, had a good eye for coordination and made suggestions that both Mrs. Kavanagh and Kate liked.”

“Why would they be listening to the boyfriend and not the wedding planner?” I spew again.

“They didn’t know he was the boyfriend at first. They assumed he was one of the assistants. They only learned that he was her boyfriend last week when he came by to the showroom. He was very much at ease, confident and had expensive tastes that Mrs. Kavanagh was accustomed to.”

“Why wouldn’t you tell me that before?” My voice is sharp and angry.

“Christian, why are you angry with me for not sharing the details of Kate’s wedding planning?” she says stepping back.

“My husband is mad at me because I didn’t tell him of Kate’s observations about her wedding planner and her boyfriend! I didn’t know you’d be that interested in my best friend’s and your brother’s fiancée’s life!” she says furrowing her eyebrows, her hands on her hips now. I close my eyes and run an exasperated hand through my hair. Her blue eyes widen and darken in fury. Yes, someone that sweet can be spectacularly angry. I blink rapidly at her false assumption as I try to find words to explain myself. She is furious, vexed and wounded.

“I’m not interested in anything about Katherine or her wedding. I think that much should be clear to you, Ana. The supposed boyfriend of the wedding planner is a suspect. Welch is certain that he’s the one who leaked the private conversation you and Katherine had about your pregnancy. We want to find him, but he seems to be broken up with the wedding planner after having gotten whatever information he was looking for,” I say with tightly controlled anger and frustration.

She lets out an exacerbated breath, and crosses her arm, in a gesture of closing herself to me.

“Oh, that’s my fault now? I can’t even have a conversation with my best friend in a relatively private environment?” she looks at me with her big blue eyes completely crushed as if I stabbed her and opened a giant wound in her heart. By the look of her face I can see that my words fueled by my fear for her well-being are expanding the fissure in her heart.

“Please baby,” I plead with her in the softest tone of voice I can muster, “that’s why Welch had a late night house call. I’m going out of my mind, because I couldn’t take it… I just couldn’t live with myself if something happened to you both!” I whisper fervently and there it is: The core of my fear. Anastasia’s eyes soften, she finally lowers her arms from her hips and opens them up, welcoming me, and I walk into them with relief. We stand there holding each other for long minutes. I desperately need to get inside her, feel the connection, and know that we really are okay. But with a herculean effort, I restrain myself for fear of the possibility of my old habits might come back and it may still turn our lovemaking into a punishment fuck for withholding that information. I have to be content with just feeling her in my arms for the time being.

My mind is going crazy, driving me insane that there is a vigilante out there, a maniac who is blatantly indicating that he’s anonymous with the moniker he’s using. It hits me then. If it’s not him who is following Ana, he is inadvertently saying, taunting us that he can be replaced by someone else. That means I have to find his boss. I kiss the top of Ana’s head. I have to do something about it, and do it right away.

“Ana, why don’t you go and see what Mrs. Jones fixed for dinner? I’ll have to make one more phone call and be out as soon as I can. Oh, can you also give my mom a call? She’s inviting us to Thanksgiving dinner and she wants Ray’s phone number to invite him as well.” The mention of Thanksgiving takes her mind off sex momentarily.

“Thanksgiving? Oh, this will be our first Thanksgiving together.” Her face falls.

“What?” I ask lifting her chin up. She shrugs.

“It was always a lonely holiday, either with Ray, or with mom. I have always imagined it with a large group of family, laughing, carrying on. Just never was like that…” her voice trails off.

“Well, now you will. We’ll even host the family for Thanksgiving next year in the big house, what do you say to that Mrs. Grey?” She grins.

“Yes! I’ll go call your mom.” She turns to run towards the door, but I capture her hand and pull her back to me. Tugging Anastasia back into my embrace and just I hold her tight. I tilt her head up to me, angling it just the right way and capture her lips, kissing her with all I’ve got. Her hands are tugging my hair, desperate for one another, leaving both of us breathless. Our kiss makes me move out of my body, lose my senses, as if I don’t exist in my head and I’m united with her someplace else; embodying one another. The urgency of my kiss slows and leaves intensity in its place. Neither one of us dares to break our connection; we remain frozen as my warm lips continue to our move over her soft and wet lips. My fingertips hold her face in place, tenderly floating over her soft cheeks.

When we separate, I put my forehead over hers closing my eyes; we’re both in awe of each other. She smiles at me shyly as she turns to go, and slap her behind making her yelp.

As soon as Anastasia closes the door behind her, I dial. After four rings, he picks up the phone.

“Good evening Christian,” he answers the phone.

“John, I need to talk to you.”

“Can we do it over the phone? I just put the kids down, and my wife went out with her girlfriends. I’m on babysitting duty.”

“Yes, that’s fine.”

“What can I help you with tonight, Christian?” I exhale deeply and close my eyes.

“There may be someone following my wife as a means to get to me. I’m freaking out, my security is handling it, but I may have to…”

“…go overboard?” John asks cutting me.

“That’s not what I was going to say, but essentially, yes.” I can sense him shaking his head on the phone with a grim look on his face.

“The man went to lengths to date Kate Kavanagh’s wedding planner in order to get close to my wife. He gained access to the Kavanagh household. Ana goes there to help Katherine out for her wedding because she’s the Maid of Honor.”

“Are you planning to pull Ana out of the wedding?”

“I thought about it. But Ana would never forgive me if I did that. And, she probably wouldn’t listen. I would try to get her to listen…punishments.” That’s not a viable option. It’ll blow up on my face. “She’s pregnant, and her hormones are making her too emotional, physically tired, and she’s Ana. Stubborn as ever. If I forbid her to do something, she generally finds a way to do it anyway, or do it secretly. If I punish her and I will feel absolutely shitty about it, and she’d be mad at me for a long time. So, I’m up the creek without a paddle! Tell me what to do!” I plead.

“Give her some freedom, Christian. You cannot completely isolate her. She’s a pregnant woman for heaven’s sake.”

“I just ordered my security detail that she can’t make any unscheduled trips without my knowledge.”

“When you say unscheduled trips, do you mean trips requiring travel out of the city, or trips within the city limits?”


“Not even to the coffee shop?”

“She doesn’t drink coffee.”

“Tea then.”

“Yes, tea shops, delis, sandwich shops, bars and restaurants are included.”

“That’s a big problem.”

“Why would that be? I’ll take her out. She just can’t do it by herself. Isn’t her and baby’s safety important over her outings?” I hear Flynn’s deep exasperated exhale.

“Christian, you’re going to stress her out big time! And in layman’s terms, stress isn’t good for a pregnant woman which is going to be the least of your worries, by that I mean it is still a giant problem. Stress increases the risk of pre-term labor, low birth weight and a host of other problems for babies after birth. If you stress her out, you’re going to put her at highest risk of complication, because it’s a silent disease. Fetus responds to stimuli in the womb and adapts physiologically. When the mother to be is stressed, she’ll experience several biological changes including the elevation of stress hormones and increased likelihood of intrauterine infection. The fetus in response builds itself permanently and once the baby is born, he or she may be at greater risk for a whole bunch of stress related pathologies. So, not only as your shrink, but as your friend, I am fervently recommending you not to excessively put Ana at risk of stress!” I am rudderless once again.

“You’re scaring me John. I’ve never dealt with pregnancy before…” I close my eyes. “As much as I am in awe of it, that there is a life made up me and Anastasia she’s carrying, I’ve been worried that how it made her sick. I came so very close asking her to have an abortion because she had severe morning sickness. I think it was her doctor that said it can happen to some women and somewhat still normal. It was immensely difficult to take it day by day to see some sort of improvement to hold onto.

And she is a stubborn, hard headed woman who drives me insane because we both want to get our way. She wants to go to work, and I wanted to keep an eye on her while she was getting better. It took a lot of convincing. Then she had ravenous sexual appetite but I didn’t want to hurt her or the baby…” I continue.

“Didn’t that make you happy? It’s one of the perks of pregnancy. A large percentage of women get increased sexual appetite during pregnancy once they get over their morning sickness, or even during morning sickness.”

“That’s precisely the point. Because she would have morning sickness one day so horribly that it would dehydrate her and the next day she’d be ravenous for me. I didn’t want her to be turned off. The slightest scent of a favorite food is now disgusting to her. Honestly, I think I’m developing sympathy pains for her, because I find myself worried whether something is going to make her ill, or will something inconsequential upset her.

On top of that, this paparazzi plague. I’m having SIP build an underground parking structure so that Anastasia will not have to deal with future attacks but it will take at least 3 months to complete the parking structure and that’s a long time.”

“You’d do that for? How did you get the permit from the city? Generally it takes three years from the city of Seattle to get any permit for a large scale structure.”

“Elliot’s company has a reputation of minimizing the impact to the environment. The building I purchased next door had used asbestos back in late 60s and it’s a health hazard. So, I’m actually doing the city a favor by removing that structure, and building something more environmentally friendly and solving the parking problem for a couple of companies.”

“But wouldn’t that open the doors for some unwanted unchecked individual from another company to approach Ana?”

“I solved that already. SIP employees will have a different entrance. It’s completely isolated from the other entrances, and the employees must be identified by their badges before they can enter, every vehicle will be recorded. The underground parking will only belong to SIP.

“Ana wants normalcy. I want to gift her that as much as my position would allow. It can never be like she’s completely under the radar if she was with someone who is not Christian Grey, but I would really want to give that to her, and I will, but I have to take certain measures to make it happen.”

“Christian, look, I get it that you need to have her safe and secure. Countries have presidents, and they too have families. I’m sure those first families suffer from the forced security and a host of restrictions on their freedom of movement that they may have formerly enjoyed. But instead of restricting Ana to have nearly no freedom, determine how you can compromise; give her a little bit of the rein and you’ll see that she’ll start cooperating with you more because she becomes part of the decision making instead of having decisions made for her. Make her familiar with the established rules, so she knows the situations where her decisions will be bypassed for her safety. I’m sure the Secret Service had a similar talk with any president and his family taking over the office. She can’t know which way is up or down if you have never established a concrete ground and a ceiling for her, the parameters in which she can move and have freedom.”

I fall silent. Of course! I have had rules in the bedroom, hard and soft limits. Why can’t I establish those outside of the bedroom? We have tossed the book outside the window, but her hard and soft limits still exist. I mull it in my head.

“Christian, are you still there?”

“Yes, I’m here. I do have the rules for her safety. I tell her whether she can go someplace or not, and that it’s for her safety.” Flynn does a ‘pfff!’ sound on the phone.

“That won’t do. You’re only giving her a stepping stone. Think of it as a tiny island in a pond made up of distant stepping stones only. The next place of movement is leaps and bounds away. That’s all she’s got; when you have no ground to walk on, it will not work.”

“Okay,” I acquiesce with no ease. I tell myself that I’m not giving up control. I’m just establishing hard and soft limits outside of the bedroom. Those are terms I can identify myself with. Giving up control is not something I could agree on, but for Ana, I’d do anything, including giving up control. My Blackberry vibrates in my hand; incoming text.

“Thank you John.”

“Good night Christian. Welcome to fatherhood. It starts in the womb,” he says before hanging up.

I check my text message.

*Dinner is served, Mr. Grey. Your loving wife and & Blip*

*****      *****
It’s already Sunday. Gail is out to her sister as she always does on the weekends. The last two days gave me time to think making me realize that I’m giving in to threats outside and making everyone’s lives miserable, including my wife’s. I hired one Miss Melissa Tiber to add Anastasia’s protection detail. Let me correct that. She’s on loan from Alex Pella’s private detail until this perpetrator is caught or until she disobeys specific commands like Prescott did. She impresses me like a female version of Taylor. All of that to be determined starting Monday. The interview with her was both educational and refreshing after weeks of frustration with the paparazzi attacks on Anastasia. I felt like coming up to the surface from drowning for a precious lifesaving breath and have been breathing since. This is why I’m about to do what I plan for Gail and Taylor.

“Miss Tiber you came with high recommendations but it means nothing to me. I’m not like your other clients you have worked for. Should I hire you, you will report to Sawyer but I’m the master and commander of this domain; I set the rules and you follow them without question. I leave no room for errors, and I’m not forgiving. First mistake gets you fired. When it comes to Mrs. Grey’s security, I accept no excuses.” To her credit, she doesn’t look at me with a surprised ‘Grey is an ass!’ look, not that I would care one bit.

“I expect nothing less Mr. Grey. What are your ground rules and ceiling in which Mrs. Grey can move?”

“You will get the proscribed list, but that is to be determined if I’m convinced you’re the right person for the job. The people who should never under any circumstances approach Mrs. Grey and those who can are all on the list; you’d do well to acquaint yourself with those and know the difference. Currently, I only want her to go to work in safety, eat in her office, and promptly bring her back home after work unless of course I am meeting her after work to pick her up. You would accompany her to her doctor’s visits, do the sweeps, acquaint yourself with the people she can see and under no circumstances she can meet with them if they’re not on the schedule. Her assistant Hannah will provide you with a copy of her weekly schedule, daily if there are any changes. You will get to know the people working at SIP, and accompany her to every meeting, follow her every step even if she has to go to pee. Are we clear on that?” She doesn’t even blink, but the look that says ‘control freak’ flickered on her gaze momentarily then gone. But when she started to speak, she spoke with professionalism, experience and patience.

“Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey can enjoy a level of freedom with minimal stress that her station brings to her if you utilize the three rings of security designed for the heads of state,” she said in experienced unwavering confidence. She then turned to Welch, and added, “for corporate clients, it’s much more effective to have just the close security and sweeps prior a visit. But, during perceived dangers as is the case for your current concern, you can place the type of security I’m going to recommend and that will not eliminate Mrs. Grey’s freedom of movement unless of course the danger is imminent.”

“Are you trying to bypass my rules even before I interview you? May I remind you that you are hired yet?” I scold her with an icy gaze. Both Welch and Taylor hold their breaths.

“Mr. Grey, what you have stated allows no freedom of movement to the protectee. I guarantee you that it will be Mrs. Grey who would be doing the firing before lunch. In either case, I won’t last half a day because one of you will end up firing me. My purpose here is to keep Mrs. Grey safe while not suffocating her so she doesn’t feel the need to give me the slip. Because, if people feel that their freedom is snuffed out, suppressed or eliminated, it is natural for them to get into the panic mode and consequently the very same panic or rebellion can even cause them to run or fall into the clutches of the very dangers you’re trying to protect her from.”

I take a deep breath and walk around my desk towering before her five feet eight inches frame. She didn’t appear to be perturbed or intimidated.

“Explain to me how you know this before you even worked a day for me. Have you been forewarned?” I asked, making Welch shift in his seat uncomfortably under my burning gaze.

“Mr. Grey, please give me some credit to know my job. I have been trained by the best and worked with only the most elite security in the world though you have some of the best protection available anywhere. Nearly 99% of the time, all you need is close protection. But since there is a perceived danger here, I’m recommended to you to protect Mrs. Grey because of my expertise in the field; I have experience in protecting high profile, controversial individual who must be in the public eye constantly who also has daily and multiple threats. My job is to protect them while not eliminating their personal freedoms within the allocated protective bubble the security team and I create for the protectee. Clearly, you have capable close security, but when there are two security details per person, it is possible for them to create a ring of two. But, nothing is foolproof as you have experienced when Miss Grey was kidnapped to lure Mrs. Grey. If Miss Grey’s security was even two rings or layers, when she eluded her close security, the second ring…” she said. I cut of off with a quizzical look.

“You lost me.”

“Close security is the first parameter: It’s your wall of flesh that wraps the protectee in a nearly bullet proof bubble. Then you have another level of parameter at a certain interval. We are trained and tasked protecting a moving target as shields.” She draws an imaginary circle in the air. The description actually made me flinch inwardly.

“Mr. Welch, if you please,” she said and stood him up. “I, as his close protection would make the first circle, first layer of protection, and his nearly bulletproof wall of flesh. Let’s assume that Mr. Welch decided to elude me. Taylor outside the door would make the second circle, granted that Taylor swept his circle’s parameters of all perceived threats creating a second circle of safe zone virtually free of threats.  The last circle is the buffer zone against penetrations. And let’s assume that you have Sawyer outside of the building of Escala who takes his own parameter; the third circle and your buffer zone. Our job is to identify and eliminate the threats before it happens. We worry about it, so you don’t. It should not be Mrs. Grey’s job to stress out with the fear of constant danger or that she ought not be suffocated because her circle is too tight, sir,” she said in confidence.

“How do you propose to do that Miss Tiber?” I ask leaning back to my desk. If she can convince me, this can create the compromise I desperately need for Anastasia.

“Mr. Grey, if the parameter between first and second ring can be tightly controlled as in a moving circle, she can have a degree of freedom within a given course. Think of a safety bubble; she’ll be tucked within it.”

“What about the very real, very dangerous threat we have present out there?”

“Given who you are, there is always going to be a threat Mr. Grey. Having someone following you every step of the way can be very annoying at the least and very claustrophobic for every person who may feel the unbearable urge to break loose. Mrs. Grey is no exception. However, part of the security is also in the investigation. Mr. Welch has all the necessary tools and men with threat assessment abilities; but we are also ready and willing to lend a hand on the investigation since you have a perceived and imminent threat.  Freedom of movement and security are like water and oil. You have to have a good blender to mix it: that’s the duty of your security detail. My job is to make her life as normal as I can even though she is protected twenty-four hours of every day.”

“You may find Mrs. Grey very different than other people you have protected. She makes last minute decisions, she may tell me that she won’t do something knowing full well that she is going to do it, she is compulsive, at times her sense of self-preservation doesn’t kick in and to top that she may give you the slip while preoccupying you with something else. She may completely disregard her own safety in a heroic but self-destructive effort to solve a security problem that would take a team of professionals to resolve. What do you propose to do in that situation?” I asked her as Sawyer turned beet red, remembering.

“I see. She’s prone to OTRs then,” Miss Tiber says calmly.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Off The Record… Unannounced stops a protectee makes; get off the vehicle when it’s not scheduled, unpredictable, unscripted, and mostly unwelcome situations for the security detail. Working protection in this environment is one of the most stressful jobs we do; unannounced stops, detours to meet the people who are not on any list, unknowns who could very well be potential threats. In those situations we have no choice but to follow the protectee. It can be mind numbing when the protectee is always in environments with many unknowns but I am trained to keep off complacency by maintaining focus, keeping my eyes on the ball. I am trained to know that things that may seem mundane or routine quickly turn to challenging nightmares especially if the protectee is in the habit of breaking the security protocol. There can be no distraction for us and it comes down to discipline.”

“Now answer my previous question,” I probe with a placid face.  

“Every protectee is different, sir. We have to balance the protectee’s desire to be in the crowd and still have the security measures in check. They each have their own mannerism and expectations. I am trained to be able to adapt to those and our security methodology. Your security detail is that blender of those non-mixing mediums, sir. But, my job should you hire me isn’t parenting or supervising Mrs. Grey or tell her what to do or what not to do unless it’s an emergency situation of course. I’m here to make sure that she’s not kidnapped, shot, killed, or held for ransom. If we are given enough notice of her schedule, we can even make sure she can have a relative sense of freedom, or illusion of being in public. But, all in all, I understand that the life inside the bubble is very suffocating for many of the protectees.”

“Before I hire you, understand that you are in our service 24/7. Your priority is not anyone else, anything else, boyfriend, husband, child, parents, siblings or significant others. You will not have a day off until Taylor gets back from his honeymoon.”

“Yes, sir.”

I am very impressed with her confidence and the muscle memory I observed in her training videos.

“Miss Tiber, one more thing before I dismiss you.”


“No weapons.” She gives a cursory glance at Taylor and Welch without a change in her poker face expression.

“I don’t have an itchy trigger finger Mr. Grey. I will check my weapon in within your house. But, I like to keep my weapon outside of the property until the current threat is neutralized. Mrs. Grey should have at least one protection detail with a weapon.”

“I’m not compromising on this rule! Take it or leave it,” I say with finality crossing my arms. Both Taylor and Welch turn to Miss Tiber as if watching an interesting tennis match. For the first time she crosses her eyebrows slightly. The tone of her voice doesn’t change, but there’s fire in it as red as her hair.

“Mr. Grey,” she says patiently and respectfully, “I carry a weapon because it will be so much faster for me to shoot the bullets into the mercenary or the hired gun who may be on Mrs. Grey’s trail with my weapon than manually inserting them into him. They will not hesitate to carry and use a weapon even against a pregnant woman. I am going to be protecting two lives; there’s no room for a margin of error when it comes to saving their lives. You can check my accuracy and weapons training and safety record with Sawyer and Mr. Welch who has full access to them. The weapon stays with me outside. I will check it in with Taylor within your property. That’s as far as I can compromise.” I stare at her for a full minute with a cold gaze. She’s unperturbed. Then pushing away from my desk, I got ready to dismiss her. Then I remember Taylor’s interview with me. He trusted his gut instincts, and so does Miss Tiber. I decided that she is the right woman for the job.

“Only until the threat is neutralized,” I said to her yesterday. Only because I clearly remember what Hyde was able to do to my sister and my wife… and what else he could do to both of them had Ana not have Leila’s gun.

“Thank you, sir.” Both Welch and Taylor get ready to leave my study with Miss Melissa Tiber.

 “And Miss Tiber,” I call after her. “You talk to me like that again, you’re fired!”

“Yes, sir,” she said with a barely perceptible smile. For the first time in weeks, I actually felt better about Anastasia’s safety. Miss Melissa Tiber is like a female version of Jason Taylor. She did not wither under my scrutiny and not only managed to hold her own, but she even became more confident under duress which is an asset. That means she can think and doesn’t fall apart in emergency situations.

And this is why I’m calling Gail today, because I feel that Ana is going to be well protected; it’s as if part of a heavy load lifted off my shoulders.

“Hi Mr. Grey,” she answers her phone.

“Gail, Mrs. Grey and I want to give you and Taylor a wedding gift,” I say without a preamble.

“Mr. Grey, you’re already giving us a wedding at Four Seasons. We are already very grateful,” she says kindly.

“No, this is different. Since you are going to the Caribbean for your honeymoon, we are giving you both three weeks for your honeymoon in St. Barts, Bahamas, Barbados and Cayman Islands with the jet at your disposal. Taylor only thinks that he has one week off. That’s our surprise to him. I’m letting you know so you can pack for him. Since we’ve had quite a few bad surprises, I think a good surprise would make you and Taylor happy.”

I think Gail whimpers silently. I’d rather be fighting five Claude Bastilles than deal with a crying woman! It still makes me feel bewildered.

“I apologize Mr. Grey,” she sniffs. “Such an amazing surprise! I’m very touched, and I know Jason will be grateful as well. Thank you!” Gail and Taylor are my most trusted employees. Giving them some perks will ensure that I can keep them employed years to come. And Anastasia is fond of both of them. Happy wife, happy life and all that…

*****      *****

“Christian!” Anastasia gasps after seeing me in my tuxedo. “You look simply mouthwatering.”

“Why Mrs. Grey? Are you trying to seduce me?” I whisper in a husky voice trailing my fingertips on her bare arms. I approach her from behind and gently place my hands on top of her arms. My fingertips seductively skate over her soft skin. Our minimal connection is electric. If I touch her any further, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to resist the undeniable and primordial urge to claim and take possession of my wife who is oozing with sensuality. Her breath quickens under my touch. My hands slowly slide up from her arms to her shoulders then move over to the swell of her breasts under the silky fabric. Her breast strain and nipples tighten, pushing the dress to merge with my skin. The beating of her heart increases, thumping wildly under my fingertips. I slowly inch into the valley of her breasts skating down to her belly over the soft fabric of her dress. It marvels me that she blooms and glows under my touch.

“Christian…” she whispers leaning her head back to my shoulder. I nuzzle her ear, her cheek and finally glide my nose down, over her alabaster skin of her throat, inhaling her intoxicating scent.  I can feel her pulse run erratically; her chest swells up and down in rapid succession with her increased breathing, making me grin with satisfaction in return. One of my hands rests on her belly possessively while my other hand tilts her chin up to merge her lips with mine. When our lips are only a whisper away, I bore my gaze into her eyes, and she closes the distance between our lips. Our kiss starts gently, but flames us both like wildfire, coursing through our veins. I swiftly turn her around and my hand pushes her buttocks into my groin. She hooks one Jimmy Choo clad foot around my leg and rocks into my body. I lift her off the floor and find myself sandwiching my wife between the far wall and my body. When we break our kiss, we are both breathless.

“Christian, please!” Anastasia pleads. “It’s been nine days! You haven’t made love to me me since playroom,” she complains. My mind is clouded with the memory of that night.

“Baby, you’ve been sick off and on. Don’t forget, I now have to keep Dr. Greene on speed dial to hook you up with an IV and three of those days you had to be drip fed, and one of it occurred at SIP! You’ve only been well for the last two consecutive days. I don’t want you getting sick on Taylor and Gail’s wedding day. Besides,” I say checking my watch, “we only have thirty minutes left to leave,” I say completely ignoring of my own craving, and trying to redistribute the tent forming in front of my pants. Her hand glides down to cup my erection and my cock responds with a twitch, anxious to get out and play. But I capture her hand, and take the sting of involuntary and undesired rejection by kissing each and every knuckle and fingertips.

“Just so you know Mr. Grey, when I look at you all dressed up in your tux, with your slightly overlong hair,” she says running gentle caresses with her fingertips, “all I can think of is kissing you, and making love to you. Now, you are taking me to a wedding which you know will get me hot and bothered. Because I’ll be remembering our own wedding day, when you took my wedding dress off, slowly… our joint induction and membership to the mile high club,” she whispers slowly. My breath hitches. I groan and run both my hands through my hair in complete exacerbation.

“Mrs. Grey, I’m seduced, and I’m yours. But, I say when and where and how,” I chide running my index finger over her bottom lip. She pulls my finger into her mouth sucks, fellating it, causing my half tamed erection to grow full length again. When I mock chide her, shaking my head, she nips my finger, then soothes the injury of the bite with a kiss.   

“Fine,” she whispers pushing me away with one hand, “I can’t be held responsible if my husband doesn’t want to touch what is his and deny me what is mine. This is a wedding and there will be other tuxedos to admire…” I don’t let her finish her sentence.

“You think I don’t know what you are doing, Mrs. Grey?” I ask through gritted teeth, jealousy overtaking me. “Never forget that you are mine,” I hiss as I pull her into my arms, my lips desperately seek hers, imploring her, worshiping my wife, revering, cherishing, and loving her.

Our night in the playroom was beyond spectacular, but I’m deeply worried that something will freak her out because I had to utilize some of her soft limits to teach her control. I pushed her to her absolute limits. I am always going to be a domineering man, but I try not to be that with her, well, most of the time anyway. It is in my nature to be dominant, and it is in her nature to challenge me at every chance she gets. But I want and deeply desire us to be much…much…much more. I’m a man in love, and the object of my affection is pregnant and sick one day and well the other. Her oscillating pregnancy hormones are putting me on the edge, making it hard for me establishing that delicate balance. To top that, Anastasia has a habit of not communicating her fears. Yes, I desperately want to take her on the wall and fuck her fifty ways to Sunday, but we’d be here all day because I won’t even get the edge off in the next half hour.

“Tonight, Mrs. Grey. I will sate you to the best of my ability. Now, let’s go and marry Taylor and Gail before I decide to start the fun here and now,” I say and tug her out of our bedroom.

Ryan and Sawyer dressed in tuxedos and Miss Tiber is in an elegant dressy black pantsuit are all waiting for us in the great room. They all take a second look at us. Averting his gaze, Sawyer clears his throat.

“Ready, sir?” he asks.

“Yes, let’s go.”

*****      *****
The Ballroom at the Four Seasons all decked up, Ballroom East is dressed up with the fall theme elegantly, assigned seats created on both sides of the aisle. I usher Anastasia up the aisle to our assigned seat with Miss Tiber and Sawyer at our tail. The seats are slowly filling up. Ros and her girlfriend sit next to us. Welch and his wife are seated behind our seats. Even Andrea shows up with Barney Sullivan. In fact, I don’t recognize my own IT manager I’ve seen daily nearly for the last five years. I have to give a second look to see if it really is Barney. He lost his oversized glasses and traded them with contact lenses by the looks of it. Because he keeps blinking, not used to the feel of them and he is actually dressed up in a tux that perfectly fits him. Barney is actually quite good looking after someone professionally dressed him up. Andrea is dressed up in an off white chiffon dress. Ros’ eyes light up when she sees the two of them together. She raises her eyebrows questioning them.

“Don’t ask! Neither one of us had time to get a date,” Andrea shrugs with a smile holding her clutch in one hand and lending her arm to Barney in the other. They look around for their seats. Ros stands up.

“Barney, let me take a look at you!” she gushes. Barney, Taylor and Ros have been employed with me the longest. Andrea is a distant second to them.

“You do clean up handsomely!” she congratulates him. That’s high praise from Ros who is not easily impressed.

“The credit is not all to me Ros,” he says smiling. Then leans into her ear and whispers, “I thawed the ice, and got the expert help in wedding attire in return,” he says.

“Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey,” they both greet us as if they just noticed our presence and take their seats behind Ros and her girlfriend.

“Hi Gwen!” they both chime and greet each other.

Ana smiles at the interactions with some sort of amusement then looks around taking in all the decorations. As the room start filling up with Taylor and Gail’s near and dear, Taylor finally walks up to take his place at the end of the aisle. He looks happy and nervous at the same time.

“Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey, we’re very happy you could come,” he says extending his hand to me.

“Somebody has to make sure you go through it. Just in case, I got your ex-military buddies holding the doors,” I joke. He grins. “One of them was trying to give me the bullshit,” he says, then clears his throat realizing he's in Anastasia’s company, “excuse me, ma’am, I mean teasing me, that he’ll leave the car running outside just in case I decided not to go through with it," he says with distaste. "It took me four years to get her to say 'yes' I wouldn’t change my mind for anything. I just hope that Gail doesn’t change hers. It'd be like getting tackled at the 99 yard line,” he says nervously, giving a distasteful look in the direction of Gail’s sister on the other side of the aisle.

“Congratulations Taylor!” Ana says cheerfully giving him an unexpected hug, making him blush.

“Thank you, Mrs. Grey,” he says in a husky voice.

“Nice to see Grey!” says a familiar voice. I lean back and finally notice the man behind Taylor who is patiently waiting.

“Pella! I didn’t know you were coming!” I say with surprise.

“Me neither,” he replies striding in confident steps towards me extending his hand. When I receive his proffered hand, he takes it in the same manner he always does; the arm clasp. Anastasia looks at us curiously. “But we don’t leave men behind or in need and Taylor was running low on best man options. Some of his brothers in arms are still on missions. Well, here I am,” he says gesturing with his hands as he gives one of his trademark smiles.

“Alex, allow me the honor of introducing my wife, Mrs. Anastasia Grey,” I say.

Alex’s gaze turns to Anastasia. To his credit, he doesn’t look anywhere but her face.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Grey,” he says and takes Anastasia’s extended hand. Instead of shaking it, he leans down, and kisses the back of her hand and releasing it.

“Likewise… Are you by yourself Mr. Pella?” Anastasia asks.

“Please, call me Alex, ma’am. Alas, I do not have the honor of the company of a beautiful young lady like Christian here,” he says making Anastasia blush profusely.

“May I have you take your places please Mr. Taylor and Mr. Pella?” asks a flustered assistant wedding planner.

 “Your rendezvous with your much desired ball and chain is upon us,” Alex says to Taylor patting his tuxedo pocket with the rings for the couple as he makes way for him. Then nods at us, “Mrs. Grey, Christian,” and waits for Taylor to follow the flustered assistant wedding planner who seems to have left her motor skills five cups of double espressos ago.

Taylor exhales a long breath and moves forward. A flurry of activity can be heard in the back of the ballroom as the music starts with the wedding march as soon as the men and the pastor take their place at the elevated podium. We all turn back to see the procession. It is actually a lot less nerve wrecking to sit in the seats as opposed to be standing where Taylor is. Taylor’s little girl Sophie walks down stoically, her little blonde head held high, focusing on her duty spreading pink and white rose petals on the aisle. When she makes her way up the aisle, she waves at her dad and smiles having succeeded in her task. Then three bridesmaids in the arms of three groomsmen walk down the aisle. Finally, Gail appears dressed in champagne, ankle length dress with folded chiffon and an elegant sash expertly tied on her waist. Her hair is in a soft blonde pile with a small veil to cover her face; she is in the arms of an elderly gentleman. My top security guy, who has been toughened with many wars, looks like he’s going to tear up with the sight of his wife to be.

Pella nods at him, “go on Centurion! All hands on deck!” he says smiling and hitting Taylor on his back with an open palm, making the ex-military guys give out a loud chortle in the back. But I’m surprised at the title Pella uses for Taylor. Centurion title is usually given to an aviator who has made one hundred shipboard landings on one carrier and issued a centurion patch on his flight jacket. I know Taylor can fly, but somehow I think that has a different meaning for the two. Maybe after nearly five years of working for me, there are still things I don’t know about Jason Taylor’s time in the armed forces.

When Gail reaches the top of the aisle, Taylor doesn’t wait for her to be deposited into his care and walks up to get his girl. And if he didn’t, I think Pella would have shoved him off the platform. The pastor greets everyone and starts the ceremony. Taylor holds onto Gail as if she’s going to grease her shoes and take off like the Runaway Bride. Gail is calm, and gently pats Taylor’s hand reassuring him. When Gail recites her vows Anastasia tears up, she checks her clutch for a Kleenex, but can’t find one. She sniffles and looks around. I reach into my pocket and hand her a monikered handkerchief with my initials.  She smiles remembering something and dabs her eyes. I pull her into my embrace closer and kiss the top of her head. She puts her head on my shoulder.

It’s Taylor’s turn to read his vows.

“Four years, eight months and eleven days ago, my life has changed irrevocably: I met you, baby, the love of my life. I couldn’t tell you if I fell in love with you the first moment I saw you or if it was at the first word you spoke to me, or your first smile that stole my heart. What I remember is that the moment you looked at me, and really saw me, I realized that you altered me and my world without you would be meaningless. Colpo di fulmine, the Thunderbolt as Italians call it…” he says and stops, then takes in a shaky breath. He gazes into her eyes and continues. “It turned me inside out and there’s no going back. Thank you for loving me despite my many flaws, being my better half, my calm within the storm: you’re my gentle girl. Thank you for becoming my wife!”

“Four years of begging!” hoots one of Taylor’s military buddies from the back row. Taylor grins.

“Damn right! Now that you are MY WIFE,” he says raising his voice, “I will love you every second of my life Gail Marie Taylor.”

“I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride,” announces the pastor after the exchange of the rings.

“With pleasure!” Taylor says smiling, holds Gail and dips her as he kisses his wife for the first time. Anastasia continues to wipe her tears while holding onto me. She then clears her throat and turns to me:

“Can I have your phone?”

“My phone?”

“My clutch was too small for my cell phone. Melissa is carrying it for me and she’s waiting over there. I want to take some pictures.” I smile and hand her my Blackberry. Anastasia stands up with my help and snaps some pictures. Once the ceremony is done, the guests are ushered into the dining area. I’m concerned that the scents from different meals are going to make my wife nauseous, but we are sitting in in a well-ventilated area that minimizes the scents.

“How do you feel? Are you hungry?” I ask attentively.

“So far so good and yes I feel ravenous in every way possible,” she whispers with her eyes darkening. I snake my hand at the small of her back and pull my wife to me. Putting my forehead to hers, I whisper one word packed with promise, and carnal desire:


The meal is over without any mishap to my relief. We have not been going out to eat since Anastasia has been getting sick because the scents are amplified for her and it’s quite difficult to gauge what would make her sick. This is the first large gathering she’s participating in, and I have been worried that we might have a nausea spell.

The meal is followed with the drinks and dancing at the larger Ballroom. The first song Taylor and Gail dance to is “Can’t take my Eyes off You”. When the champagne is depleted, and people danced long hours, Ana’s eyes start drooping.

Can’t Take my Eyes off You - Muse

“I’m taking you to our room,” I whisper.

“Home you mean?” she asks.

“No, we’re staying here, at the Presidential Suite. Come. Let’s say our goodbyes,” I say pulling her.

Taylor, who is always in tune with my presence, turns around as soon as he senses my approach.

“Jason,” I say extending my hand. “Congratulations to you both. This is the start of your best years to come. Somehow, I know that you and Gail will be blissfully happy.”

“And...” I say but Anastasia looks up at me in silent communication and whispers, “allow me,” and inserts her hand to the inner pocket of my tuxedo to take the envelope out. She hands it to Gail giving her a tight hug.

“We love you both dearly, but we don’t want to see you until December 4th!” she gushes at them, smiling.

“December 4th?” Taylor asks surprised.

“Your itinerary is in the envelope, Gail packed your bags for 3 weeks, and the jet is fueled and ready to take off anytime you get to SEA-TAC with your bride,” I say shrugging. Taylor blinks.

“But, security?” he asks, back in the business mode.

“The Calvary rode in,” I say nodding in Pella’s and Welch’s direction. “We’ve already arranged the coverage for your absence to hold the fort. We’ll be okay;” I say with as much confidence as I can muster. The truth is, I always feel better when Taylor is around, but he deserves this if he is to focus on his job. Besides, if any man earned a vacation, it would be Taylor, “you enjoy your well-deserved honeymoon with Gail,” I say smiling.

Taylor is speechless which is a sight worth seeing all in itself. He swallows hard, looks at Gail, and then turns to us.

“Thank you… uhm…” he says blinking, lost for words. “Thank you. Three weeks? Are you sure? Security?”

“Relax. It’s covered. You know me; I don’t leave anything to chance.”

“Yes, sir.”

Anastasia raises her eyebrows to give the real wedding present we planned.

“To take your bride in style to the airport,” I say holding the engraved key fob in my hand with flourish, “here’s your new, well, renovated classic 1966 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350! I hope it lives up to its reputation of being an exceptional open-road touring car.”

“You rented us my favorite car?”

“No, we bought you your favorite car. Enjoy it!” I say as I tug Anastasia who gives both Gail and Taylor a hug. When Anastasia and I walk away with big grins on our faces, Taylor and Gail are both sporting the same awed and utterly surprised look on their faces. Completely priceless.

“Now, Mrs. Grey. I believe I owe you a night of passion that is fifty ways to Sunday,” I whisper lasciviously as we exit the ballroom, tailing us Sawyer, Ryan and Miss Tiber whose company is only welcome to the door of the Presidential Suite and are conveniently left outside with our “DO NOT DISTURB” sign turn outward hanging at the door handle.