Here it comes
The unavoidable sun weighs my head,
And what the hell have I done,
And you know,
I don’t remember a thing
I don’t remember
So I’m done,
Am I placating the notes?
Should I fault
Cut off my tongue
So you say
Apparently I’m digging it in
I can’t feel
Naked and Famous – The Sun
Standing outside the dining room I listen as Kate reads Ana and Christian the riot act. If I had known what she was going to do I probably would have taken her home and tied her up but as I listen I am secretly proud of my little firecracker. I think she might even make this work. Christian will never talk to me and that suits me just fine. But Ana talking with Kate, I know that is important. Please, bro, see this for what it is.
“What is it?” I crack the door open a little so I can see them. Ana looks pale, Christian tense and my poor Katie looks green. Hold it together babe, I will get you to the bathroom as soon as this is over.
“Kate! This has nothing to do with you.” Who knew Ana was a spitfire too. God knows she will need it to fend off all the unwelcome female interest in Christian’s crazy life.
“Ana, what is it?” Christian is pissed. I almost push the door open and charge in then Ana warns him off.
“Christian, would you just go, please?” Fuck! I almost back myself down the hallway when I see Elena heading this way. Best to head her off.
“Elena, I think Mom was looking for you in the kitchen.” She looks at me suspiciously then turns towards the back of the house. I go back to my post. Seems like Christian is not leaving. I can see him studying the email. My future-wife is a minx, I will have to remember that.
Kate’s nausea and the fact that she is terrified of what Christian is going to do next gives her just the right mix of apprehension and anger. Good girl, Katie, hold your ground.
“Where did you get this?” Oh shit.
“That’s irrelevant.” Shit, shit, shit. “It was in the pocket of a jacket – which I assume is yours – that I found on the back of Ana’s bedroom door.” Well, no it was in her closet that you were rifling through but let’s not get hung up on the technicalities. Oh fuck. I can see that another wave of nausea is hitting. She’s not going to make it.
“Have you told anyone?” Christian’s voice is calm, too calm.
“No! Of course not.” Christian pauses for a moment then walks to the fireplace and sets the damn thing alight. Yeah, bro, can’t believe you printed that crap out in the first place, you dumb fuck.
“Not even Elliot?”
“No one, I just want to know you’re okay.” She is such a good liar. Except I can see the tell, that flicker in her eyes. Her voice is a whisper, which makes her sound sincere. Reality is she is just one second away from hurling her cookies on Ana’s Manolos.
“I’m fine, Kate. More than fine. Please, Christian and I are good, really good – this is old news. Please ignore it?” No, Ana, don’t shut the door on her.
“Ignore it? How can I ignore that? What’s he done to you?” Her voice is the perfect mix of love and concern.
“He hasn’t done anything to me, Kate. Honestly – I’m good.”
“Really?” Christian steps in and wraps his arm around Ana, looking directly at Kate.
“Ana has consented to be my wife, Katherine.” Holy fuck! Way to go little bro.
“Wife!” Kate will be happy I know but I can see that she thought she would be first. Well, Katie you would have been if you hadn’t been so bull headed. Damn stubborn female. I smile.
“We’re getting married. We’re going to announce our engagement this evening.” Oh, man, Mom is going to have a conniption. This is all of her dreams come true.
“Oh! I leave you alone for sixteen days, and this happens? It’s very sudden. So yesterday, when I said – where does that e-mail fit into all this?”
“It doesn’t, Kate. Forget it – please. I love him and he loves me. Don’t do this. Don’t ruin his party and our night.” Tears are forming in Kate’s eyes. Is it because she is happy for them, disappointed for us or because she still needs to get to a powder room, stat!?
“No, of course I won’t. You’re okay?”
“I’ve never been happier.” I listen to the rest of their conversation. Especially where Ana says that one day she will explain and Christian doesn’t baulk at the thought. This is great. This is better than great. Of course, I am still going to take Kate over my knee for not telling me what she was going to do. Just then Mom knocks on the door and interrupts them. Kate is barely holding it together as she apologizes to Christian. As soon as Ana, Christian and Mom move through to the living room I sweep in.
“Babe.” I would tell her off, question her but she is about to fall down. I pick her up quickly in my arms and carry her through to the downstairs bathroom. We only just make it before she is tossing her cookies. I rub her back, hold her hair and pray that it will stop soon. She sits back against the bathroom wall and looks at me for a moment before closing her eyes.
“It’s okay, baby. We can go if you need to. Just keep your cheek against the tiles, they’ll cool you down.” I get a cold cloth and wash her face, cleaning off the messed up lipstick. Her natural glow is slowly returning. Luckily she has got in the habit of carrying mints and lipstick on her. I help her to stand up wishing to God I could just make this go away. She stands with her hands propping her up on the bathroom vanity, staring into her reflection before shifting her gaze to me.
“I hate you, you know.” Her weak smile giving away nothing.
“I know, baby, I’m sorry for knocking you up. If I had known what it would do to you I would have kept my dick in my trousers.” We both laugh. Taking her lipstick out she touches up an already exquisitely beautiful face and tries to get her hair back into some order. She gives a little grimace and clutches her stomach before straightening up.
“Are you okay?” Her smile is tight and her face pale.
“Yeah, just not coping well. I take it you heard all of that?” Turning to face me she looks apologetic.
“Yeah, I think you might have actually pulled it off. You are amazing Miss K.”
“You’re not mad at me?” Her little pout is so damn cute.
“No, baby, I’m not mad and I think that you and Christian might just be fine.”
“I don’t know, I don’t think Christian and I will ever be fine.”
“Yeah, well, Christian needs to get over himself. Right now you have at least brought it out in the open between the three of you. I think Ana will open up to you sooner than you think.”
“I had to do it. For Gail and Jason.”
“I know babe. That’s why I love you so much. Thank you.”
“You knew?” Her sparkling eyes focus on me.
“Jason told me how he was feeling last night while we were all standing around feeling useless. It was up there on his list of big regrets if Christian never came back. I guess I should have known how he was feeling. That’s why he has always been the right man for the job.”
“So you’re really not angry at me for doing this?”
“Well, I might have questioned your timing a little, but no I am really not angry. You did the right thing.”
” I love you, Elliot Grey.” My fingers go to her necklace.
“Yeah, well they’ve stolen our thunder. I wanted to get in first with the whole marriage announcement.” Her hand covers mine and draws it down to her stomach.
“Give them this babe. We’ve got time. We’ll be stealing their thunder by having the first grandchild. I think that is enough.”
“When did you get so generous of spirit, Miss K?” I pull her against my body, her back against mine and gaze at her in the mirror. She is beautiful, she is perfect and she is mine.
“Oh, I met this guy who kind of shifted my perspective on life. Made me grow up and stop being so selfish.” She turns in my arms and hers slip around my neck, her lips taste of mint with just a hint of… I slip my tongue in anyway. Even post-nausea she is irresistible.
We manage to slip back into the party without anyone noticing we were gone. Just in time for Christian to make his big announcement and wasn’t that just a king size hoot. I watch as several female faces including Elena’s turn from shock to thunder. Yeah, take that bitches. Elena storms out of the room and I couldn’t be more glad to see the back of her.
Meanwhile I watch as the people who matter congratulate my little brother and his gorgeous fiancee and I really couldn’t be happier. This is even more than I hoped for and certainly more than the little dick deserves. Smiling I go up and offer my congratulations too.
“Way to go, bro!” I slap him on the back, possibly a little harder than I meant to. He gives me one of the those looks that can chill hot steaks in bbq weather and I step back away. Then he smiles a Grey megawatt smile and I know that we are okay.
I see Kate slip out the door to the garden and grabbing a bottle of water, I go after her, finally finding her hurling into the azaleas. Once more I hold her, her hair and my breath waiting for it to be over. Most of what she can bring up is liquid so I hand her the bottle and hope like hell that she can keep it down long enough to rehydrate.
A garden seat in a secluded spot beckons and we sit down, her on my knee as I hold her close. The air is cool I feel her returning to normal if only for a moment.
“Baby, you’re exhausted which given the week we have had is only natural. All of this action can’t be good for you or the baby. Tomorrow you are staying in bed. No argument.”
Her limp hand comes up for a salute. “Yes, doctor. As long as you stay with me and take my temperature. Of course, that means that when you pull it out that thing had better have numbers on it.” I laugh at her ability to make light of the situation when I know she is feeling like crap.
A body moves out of the shadows and Elena plants herself in front of us.
“Well, well, well. More Grey lovebirds. How touching. And it would seem that you two have been living dangerously.” She smirks at us and I feel the rage flow through Kate. She stands up toe to toe with the peroxide witch.
“Don’t assume you know everything about this family, Elena. Your reign as queen of the Grey men is coming to an end and it would be a shame if you couldn’t bow out gracefully.” The venom is fairly dripping off her tongue. I do love a good cat fight but this isn’t a good time.
“Oh, sweet thing. Don’t ever believe that I won’t continue to have influence over this family. My reach is more extensive than you can ever imagine.” Her smile is a bitter grimace that contorts her face. How did I ever think that she was beautiful?
“I am more interested in what I see before me. An aging woman who is losing her charms and her grip on reality. Christian has moved on Elena. Elliot left your influence a long time ago. Give up.”
“Oh, Kate, you are darling. Ana doesn’t have what it takes to hold Christian. As for Elliot, well it is sweet that you are prepared to settle for second prize.”
The slap was so fast that no one could have seen it coming. Elena moved with it and clasped her hand to her face for a moment, glaring at Kate and then she came up swinging. Placing my body between them was the only way to protect Kate and Elena connected with my chest with a blow that barely glanced off my muscle. It certainly seemed to hurt her hand though. So much for the great domme. When she tried again I gripped her fist in my hand.
“That’s enough, Elena. Leave us the fuck alone.” Rubbing her face and her fist she backs away and then turns to walk into the house. When she gets to the door she turns and looks directly at me.
“You have no idea who you are messing with, little man.” Kate blanches next to me and I have to grasp her hand to hold her back. “If you think I will be pushed aside by either of these little sluts you and Christian are currently fucking then you have completely underestimated me.” We watch her go and then I turn to face Kate. She is fairly shaking with rage.
“Jesus, I hate that woman. If there is any chance that your mother wants her at our wedding then we are definitely going to Vegas.” I laugh and pull her into my arms. She comes willingly and molds herself to me. Elena can’t touch us. I don’t know what influence she still thinks she has over Christian but I suspect that is diminishing by the minute.
“Listen baby, I am going to check in with the folks and see if I can make our excuses. You need to get home to rest.”
“No. This is Christian’s night and Ana’s. We owe it to them to hang for a little while and celebrate with them. I will be okay. We need to stay for as long as we can. I just need to pace myself.”
“Sweetheart you are so brave. If you need to disappear for a while I want to show you my room.”
“Why Mr Grey. Are you propositioning me?”
“Absolutely, Miss Kavanagh. Come on.” She places her hand in mine and we head up the back stairs to the second floor. We go into my room which Mom has left pretty much as it was when I moved out. Kate stands and looks around taking in the posters of musicians – Kurt Cobain, Pearl Jam, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Soundgarden.
“Mmm… eclectic tastes Mr Grey.”
“Not so much, Kate. I am pretty loyal to the Seattle music scene. I love that all of these people have come from or spent their formative years here. I love the genealogy and history of music.” She walks into my arms.
“You’re amazing, babe. Just when I think there is nothing more I could learn about you, you show another hidden depth. I am so lucky to have found you. Thank you for loving me.” Her lips press softly to mine. I brush the hair from her face and look at my beautiful girl. This truly amazing and loving woman. And while I could quite happily spend hours a day seduce her body, I am just as turned on by seducing her mind.
“Ditto, babe.” I whisper against her forehead. Just then we hear yelling that has us moving quickly out of the room to the landing half way down the main staircase. From where we are standing we see Christian standing in the doorway to the dining room.
“What the fuck are you doing Elena?” The door swings closed and we can’t hear what happens next except for the sound of muffled words punctuated by Christian’s continued anger.
“How the fuck do you know what’s right for me?” Then, “I’ve told you before – this is none of your fucking business.”
“Jesus, Kate everyone is going to hear.” I start to move down but she pulls me back hard.
“Honey, you can’t go in there.” The voices are muffled again and I hope like hell that no one has heard. Then the worst thing that could happen does, Mom moves down the hall to stand outside the door. She pauses, her body tense. Oh fuck, Mom, don’t listen. I try to move but Kate claps her hand over my mouth and holds me in place. We watch as she throws open the door and steps into the room.
“Get out of my house.” At this point we both sit on the stairs, unable to move up or down without being seen. We hear the definitive sound of a slap – strike two. “Take your filthy paws off my son, you whore, and get out of my house – now!” A moment later the door opens and Elena steps through clutching her cheek, her hair dripping with liquid. Wow, Ana must have got in a swing as well. She glances up at us with a glacial stare and Kate smiles sweetly, flipping her the bird. We then scamper back up the stairs just as Ana steps out of the room. Not wanting to be caught we race down the hallway to the back stairs and escape through the back of the kitchen.
We are both breathless with laughter. “Oh, God. Mom is going to kill Christian. Imagine what she would do if she knew about me. Fuck that was awesome.”
Kate grins at me in the dark. “Well, you have to hope that that is the end of the ugly troll. I guess we can get married in Seattle after all.”
“You mean that?”
“Hey, don’t get ahead of yourself, Grey. You still have to ask. Come on, I’m hungry.”
Grabbing my hand she leads me back into the kitchen through the French doors at the back of the house. We load up plates and find a place to sit and eat chatting with Dad and John Flynn. Kate is intensely interested in what John has to say in that special way that she has and I am amazed that the woman who was unable to hold down a glass of water earlier tonight is suddenly shoveling food into her mouth while keeping up an endless stream of chatter.
Mia wanders over with one of Dad’s lethal lemon cocktails in her hand. They are truly revolting but she seems to love them and she is making a beeline for Kate.
“Hey, I’ve been looking for you two. Kate have tried one of these. They’re a Grey family specialty.” Kate’s eyes widen and I reach up and grab the glass out of Mia’s hand sculling the sickly sweet drink back in one hit. Oh, fuck, that is foul. “Hey, that was for Kate.”
“Thanks baby girl. I needed that.” She gives me a Mia death glare and I smile.
“You hate those.” I shrug and place the glass down on the table beside me. Kate gives me a grateful smile. Yes, well, any more of those and you are driving us home Miss K. Mia is hovering looking uncertain.
“Come sit down with us Mia? We haven’t really spoken all evening.” Kate shuffles over and makes a space for her. Mia immediately launches into an intense investigation of all things Ethan and I groan. Poor bastard. Mia is in predator mode. Man-hunt on. Kate is good naturedly trying to give her advice while not dumping Ethan in it. I reach over and take her empty plate and she smiles up at me gratefully. Walking into the kitchen I dump the plates only to find my mom standing at the kitchen window staring out into the dark throwing back a glass of wine.
“Hey Mom. Are you okay?” She quickly wipes tears from her eyes and I pretend not to notice. She turns with a fake smile plastered on her face.
“Sure, babe. Just a little emotional about my boys. You and Kate seem to be getting on very well. She is a lovely girl.” As she speaks she pours herself another bucket of wine. I don’t know if she realizes that she has managed to fit half a bottle into that glass but I figure there are times when it is just easier to say nothing.
“Yeah, we are and she is. Kate is a really special lady.” I smile down at Mom, hoping that if she sees that I am happy she might forget about that glass.
“I really like her, Elliot. You make sure you treat her right. None of your usual shenanigans.” Taking a massive mouthful she looks past me to wear Mia and Kate are still chatting animatedly. Kindred spirits by the look of it.
“Not you too Mom.” Her eyes raise and focus, as much as she can, on mine.
“Elliot, Julie Kavanagh is a good friend. A real friend. If you screw with that girl you are doing more damage than you could possibly know.”
“Mom, I love Kate. And I love Julie.” She looks up with shock in her eyes. Fuck, not like that. “She is everything that I could hope for in a mother-in-law.”
Mom registers my words and I see the glimmer of hope. “You mean that? You’re that serious about her?”
“Yes, I am that serious about her. But right now this is Christian and Ana’s moment. We decided we can wait. Ana is too important to treat this like some kind of competition and Kate already loves her like a sister. She would never do that to her.”
“Oh, Elliot. Just knowing that you are heading in that direction is enough. I love you and your brother and sister so much. I just want to see you happy.” Oh, here we go. The tears are back again. It’s probably as much about the alcohol as the emotion of this evening.
“And Christian is happy Mom. Really, really happy. Ana is the best thing that has ever happened to him.”
“She is truly a special girl. And if she has already chosen Kate as her best friend then I know that I am getting the best possible additions to this family that I could ever hope for.” I give her a squeeze around the shoulders and we go over and join the others. Within the hour, BFF’s Kate and Mia have dragged Mom into the lounge for some karaoke. The rest of the evening is starting to wind down and Christian and Ana look ready to escape. Thank goodness.
I sneak into the lounge in mid ‘Dancing Queen’ and put my arms around Kate from behind, leaning down to whisper into her ear.
“Hey, beautiful. Time to get you home before you turn into a pumpkin.”
“Oh, please.” My poor baby is shattered.
“Tell you what, Mom is three sheets to the wind, she won’t notice if we sneak away. Why don’t you sneak out to the garden and get some fresh air while I help clean up a bit in the kitchen and then we can escape.” She nods and we go back out to the kitchen. Kate looks at the mess that Gretchen is trying to wrestle with Dad’s help. I can see she feels guilty. “Go, I won’t be long.”
We make short work of loading the dishwasher and getting leftovers covered and in the fridge. Dad sings along quietly to the strains of karaoke coming from the living room and I know that he has probably had one to many of his special cocktails although he is holding up better than either Mia or Mom. I dry my hands and say goodbye to Dad.
“Give Mom a kiss for me. I will call after lunch tomorrow to see how the hangovers are.” He laughs and claps me on the shoulder. I grab my keys and walk out the French doors to find Kate. I am almost down as far as the water when I hear a plaintiff cry.
“Elliot! Elliot! Please, help me.” Fuck, Kate.
“Kate, where are you?”
“I’m here, please hurry.” She sounds like she is in pain and I run blindly into the trees trying to find her almost tripping over her body lying in the cool grass.
“Baby, fuck, what happened? Are you hurt?” I try to roll her over but she is in pain and she screams as I touch her body. Shit.
“Jack Hyde was here. He was hiding in the trees.” She groans again. “We argued and he pushed me.”
“Fuck.” I need to find the fucker and I go to stand but she grabs me.
“Don’t. He’s long gone. He just pushed me off when I tried to hold on to him and I stumbled and fell. Please … the baby … it hurts so much.”
“Oh God, oh Kate. Put your arm around me. Hold on baby.” I pick her up and she screams again in pain. I run as fast I can to the car and place her in the seat. Belting her in I have the car racing down the highway as quickly as I can. Please, dear God, please let her be okay. She is writhing and moaning in pain and I pray to every deity that I have ever taken in vain and the many I haven’t that her pain is not as serious as it seems. Then she screams.
“Elliot!” I slam on the brakes and look at her. She’s looking down at her thighs with tears streaming down her face, gasping. We both stare in horror at the dark stain that is spreading across the bottom of her dress.