Can’t move my arms, can’t lift my hands
I won’t admit to where I am
But I know baby, I’m in chains I’m in chains
Breathing deeply, Ethan began the process of wrapping the rope, under the watchful eye of the kinbakushi. He kept his hands slow and steady as he had been instructed. The knots flowed in intricate patterns down the back of the young woman who had been volunteered as his ‘model’.
“Control your breathing so that the rope becomes an extension of her body and your hands.” The voice came to his ears as a low rumble that rolled across his consciousness. “The more you control your presence, the more you control her.”
As he wound the ropes around her lower torso, the girl’s breathing deepened and her body began to meld with his, leaning on him for support. She was slipping into subspace with every repeated movement of his fingers. He kept those movements as slow as possible and supported her as she slipped away. Watching them both, the assumption might have been that the act was sexual, but it wasn’t. She was fully clothed and he had no other connection with her prior to this demonstration. Their bond was quite literally in the weave of the rope and the intricacies of the knots that his hands flicked and secured around her body. As she relaxed back, her conscious mind sliding out of awareness he moved to suspend her from the harness above their heads. She went willingly, almost pleading with gasping breaths.
“You want me to what?” The normally unflappable Christian Grey ran his fingers through his hair and paced the floor of his office for the fifth time in the past ten minutes. If I wasn’t so concerned about gaining his help I would laugh but this is serious shit and I could really do with his advice.
“I want you to train me… as a dom.” He stops in the middle of the floor, stares at me like I’ve grown horns then starts pacing again. Only this time he takes himself over to the leather lounge suite and sits down with a thump. Not terribly graceful and completely out of character. He then loosens his tie, undoes his collar, throws his head back and throws his arm over his face.
“Fuck me!” Ah, not thanks, dude.
When I had walked into the office and outed him, the denial was on the tip of his tongue until I placed the file in front of him. We had photos of him entering and leaving Club Orpheus. There was a copy of his membership application complete with fingerprint identification. We also had photos of all of his previous subs but I limited that to one or two. Of course, I never mentioned Ana…or Elena. His skin turned a sickly color and he was quite visibly shaken.
Now his face is covered by his arms and he doesn’t move when he asks, “How long have you known?”
“Me personally? Or the agency?” That was the other little piece of the puzzle I had to reveal. I had flashed my badge at him before I started talking, as much a form of intimidation than anything else. He knew all about intimidation. It was a little disturbing to see him so clearly on the back foot. I could only presume that if he wasn’t intent on protecting Ana from his shitty past then he would have had me thrown out already. That, and the fact that he didn’t know my intentions with Mia. I glanced at the dark alcove at the entrance to his office nervously then back at him.
“Oh, Christ, I don’t know? Both?” I have never seen Christian this unraveled before and it is all I can do to stop him from pushing his panic button. I don’t want a showdown with Taylor. I could take him but he is bigger than me, and trained. It would be no walk in the park.
“Christian, most of the information that you’re going to want to know is classified and if I told you I would have to kill you.” He lifts his head and glares at me, demanding less of the smart-ass and more of the forthcoming. “I would have to say… a while. On both fronts.”
“Years?” He leans forward, elbows on his thighs. I shrug. How do I explain that his activities were known when he was 15 years old? That they were used to blackmail his lover and domme into handing over the rights to Mia? This discussion would be over before it began. “And you?”
“I’m a trained profiler. If I hadn’t seen your file, I would have guessed that you had certain proclivities.”
He sat still, steepling his fingers in front of his mouth and staring at me. This look on his face is unsettling. The look of a man wrestling with his demons, trying to work out how to take back control.
“So this bullshit about looking for a postgraduate course is just that. Bullshit?” I nod. No point in shitting the guy now. His world is about to be rocked into orbit. “So what is it you want from me?”
“Your expertise.” He huffs out an exasperated breath laced heavily with ‘you’ve got to be fucking kidding me’. “And your cooperation.”
“I’m not for hire.” And what makes you think you have a choice? “My skills belong to Ana now. And no, you will not negotiate with her. As to my cooperation, I owe the agency nothing but I won’t stand in the way of an investigation.”
“No one is hiring you. You would be serving your country.” That statement sticks in my throat. “This is not the FBI we are talking about Christian. They would march in here with warrants and serve you. There would be no choices. They are conducting their own investigations into Linc Lincoln, along with the NSA, for immigration fraud and illegal importations dating back decades. That investigation, as I understand it, implicates you and your brother. Our interests go beyond that to matters of international terrorism. We have bigger fish to fry.”
He has finally heard the inherent threat and the unspoken offer. Help the CIA and cancel out any investigation with other agencies.
“I have nothing to hide. And nor does Elliot.”
“Don’t you?” I hold his gaze. He’s a smart man. He’s ticking off his list of misdemeanors that have nothing to do with committing a crime and everything to do with being a victim. His immediate family might now be aware of the pedophilia but he doesn’t need that particular detail exposed to the world and certainly not under these circumstances. After a long pause there is the requisite sigh of resignation and a fuck-my-life glance at the floor.
“What do I have to do?” At least he is asking the right questions.
“Help me. Train me. I have to infiltrate a high profile international sex ring and be believable. I have some skills and apparently a natural… aptitude.” He looks up at me with a glare of menace. “Yeah, who the hell knew? I need refinement.”
“Why not go to the Club? Any of the members would be prepared to help, for a fee.”
“I can’t go to the Club. My partner is being trained there. We don’t want to blow our cover completely. She is working with another contact. What I do with you has to remain completely under the radar.” I had him until this last comment then I feel a distinct change in the emotional temperature around him. He’s gone from victim to dom in a split second and my balls are about to be laid out for sushi practice.
“Let me get this straight. You’re going to train as a dom. Hook up with one of your agency colleagues and infiltrate an international sex ring. And you’ve been courting my sister?”
Did he step straight out of a Regency Romance? Courting? Really? Why not go the whole hog and call it ‘wooing’? Yeah, dude, I’ve been ‘courting’ your sister – in her mouth… on her back… doggy style…
“You don’t have to worry about Mia.” Believe me, you ass hat, I’m doing enough worrying for both of us.
Without any hesitation he is out of his seat and grabbing me by the collar. I figure at any second he’s going to have me skinned, gutted and spread eagle as his new floor rug with a letter opener jammed up my ass and an apple in my mouth but I try to keep my body relaxed enough not to show a reaction. Quite frankly, if he wants to beat the shit out of me right now, I’d fucking welcome it.
“You! You want me to train you? And what about Mia? When were you going to break the news to her, you lousy son of a bitch.”
His fist draws back but before he can land one, on cue Mia steps out of the shadows. “Christian, I know.”
She’s wearing what I have come to think of as her work uniform. The type of non-descript business suit that allows her to blend; navy trousers, white fitted blouse, navy jacket, sensible shoes. This is not the sister he knows and loves. Gone are the low cut tops, fru-fru skirts that barely cover her ass and killer heels that attract so much ‘fuck-me’ attention. Her hair, usually beautifully coiffed for the benefit of the family is pulled back into a severe but functional ponytail. She slides her coat jacket open and flashes the badge and the gun. Christian immediately steps back and let’s me go. My beautiful hero.
“Mia?” Christian is looking back and forth between us like we’re some sort of freaky tennis match. Seeing Mr Control-Freak so utterly gob-smacked is kind of hilarious but I keep my face schooled to reveal no emotion. Just that tell-tale pride in my wife.
“Christian, sit down before you fall down. I believe Ethan, my husband, hasn’t finished explaining how you can help us.” Fuck me sideways and call me Sally. She certainly knows how to make an entrance.
“Your…?” He can’t even spit the word out.
Christian turns away from us. I’m guessing that he’s trying to pull something together in the way of calm and failing miserably. He glances back at me with a big ‘you married her?’ emblazoned across his face.
“Little sisters, huh? Can’t live with ’em…” I spread my hands in supplication. He gives a wan smile.
“…Can’t kill them.” He replies then turns back to Mia. “So let me get this completely straight. I take it from that little show of power at your belt that you are agency as well?” His eyes are drilling holes in Mia who looks set to explain but he holds out a finger and stops her. “Just a yes, or no, Mia.” A-a-a-and, the dom is back in the room.
She nods wide-eyed and innocent.
“And you are married to this jerk off?” He flicks his free thumb at me. Ass.
“Hey…” The other finger shoots out to stop me in my tracks. Her mouth clamps shut and she nods again.
“And you know as much as he does about my… lifestyle?”
This time there is no attempt at a comeback. She simply nods and Christian swallows, his skin a slightly sickly green. He lowers his arms, taking longer with the next question as a result of the revelation that his little sister knows about his kinky leanings. Yeah, that shit would mess with your head.
“And he is going to infiltrate an international sex-ring as a dom and needs my help to train him?” Once more she nods. He runs both of his hands through his hair in frustration, his body slumping until he is seated on the edge of his desk.
“And you’re okay with this?” Mia walks calmly toward him, her eyes focusing on him until he looks up at her before she replies.
“Better than okay,” she says with a tight smile. Liar.
“Please tell me that you are not the other agent in this sick little scenario.”
She says nothing. Shows nothing on her face. That nothing says everything.
“Oh, Christ.” His hands are back in his hair as he slumps down further on the edge of his desk.
“Christian, I’m going with him.” With that Christian is standing erect, bodily over the top of her in a menacing fashion but Mia just holds her ground and looks up at him.
“Over my dead body.” There is a pause; a stand off between siblings before she replies.
“As you wish.” It might be time for me to say something.
“Honey, I don’t think that will be necessary.” I’m leaning against the wall now, with my arms folded enjoying the show. She’s beautiful to watch when she gets going and I’m guessing, apart from Ana, she’s the only person who could have the great Christian Grey so tied up in knots.
“You need to shut up. You are on my shit list, Kavanagh.” Now, we’re have I heard that line before? I guess my sister is rubbing off on him.
“Leave him alone, Christian.” See dork, this is how a hero is supposed to act. I watch her go to work on him. Hoping that she doesn’t reveal anything that doesn’t need to be revealed. There is no need to kick the poor bastard while he’s down. “Ethan got into the CIA because of me. He’s going on this mission because I am being sent, with or without him. Now, I’m not exactly over the moon about putting the love of my life in danger but it’s his job. He’s my husband so we want this to be right and we trust you to get us ready.”
Christian walks over to the window and leans against the cool glass, looking down at the world below. Master of his universe but completely out of his depth when it comes to Mia. I couldn’t love her more but I feel for him. He’s swimming against a tidal wave of shock. She is the baby of her famil. Predictably flighty and a bonafide flake as far as they are all concerned. They have no idea what she has been through and who she really is. Would I have loved her anyway? Yeah, I think I would. If he won’t help us, we’ll find another way, but I’ll be damned if I will stand by and watch her lose this relationship with her brother. Somehow, I have to help him, and the rest of her family, when the time is right, to come to terms with understanding this very special and beautiful woman. They have to begin to see her the way I do. Strong, capable, unreasonably intelligent and kick ass gorgeous. But still so vulnerable and loving that she takes my breath away.
“Fuck, Mia. You have no idea what you’re asking of me.” When he begins to speak, he is still leaning on the window. Then he changes it up again and turns on his both. “And what do you mean the love of your life? You’ve known him for what? Five minutes? When did this magical wedding take place?”
“Pot, kettle, Christian.” Oh, baby, don’t bait the bear.
“Just tell him, babe. We need to get this thing sealed.” I move off the wall and in behind her. This is still her show but I want to be there beside her. I don’t touch her, even though I want to wrap her up and take her away from that cold, cold glare. The tension radiates off their bodies in waves. But when she speaks her voice is clear and calm.
“I’ve known Ethan since I was 15 years old. We were in love back then but the agency split us apart when they recruited me straight out of high school. Ethan followed me into the agency although we were never stationed together. He was assigned as my partner a little over a year ago. We realized that we had never stopped loving each other. We got married in Denmark just before we came back to Seattle. Only some very high ups in the agency know that we are married and until this assignment is complete we would rather keep it that way.”
Christian’s eyes at first narrowed and then grew as wide as saucers.
“I don’t fucking believe this.”
“What? That I’m an agent? Or that we’re married?”
“Either. Jesus, Mia, it’s a lot to take in all at once.”
“Well, you might have to step up your mental processing or push past it. We’re unsure what our time lines are here but we need to be prepared.”
“If I do this. I’m not sure I can work with you, Mia. You’re my sister. I can’t watch him do to you what I…” He pauses and Mia steps in to place an hand on his arm, reassuringly.
“What you do to Ana?” His mouth twists in agony.
“Ana is not my sub.”
“And I’m not Ethan’s. I love him as much as Ana loves you. Our relationship can stand up to this, so don’t worry about that.” Only this is exactly what I worry about. Mia has been used enough for one lifetime. I couldn’t stand to see that look in her eyes if I step beyond some arbitrary boundary with her. I need to know more about what I am doing. If I fuck this up I stand to lose her. I would rather die. Mia continues. “We need your expertise. At some point you are going to have to work with us together and I’m okay with that. Really.”
Christian has the good grace to look sick and I have to say the thought of having my brother-in-law watching me doing anything intimate with his sister has my stomach churning. The only one who seems okay with this is Mia. And that prick, Rory Jensen. Christian takes another moment and then nods.
“I’m not sure that I can hide this from Ana. Can I share a few details with Taylor? He’s going to have to cover for me.”
“No.” Mia and I say simultaneously. First of all, Christian is the king of hiding shit so this bullshit about hiding anything from Ana is ridiculous. Secondly, the fewer people who know the better. We don’t mention that our guy already knows. Christian doesn’t need to know that he has a plant in his personal security detail. That kind of shit can tip a guy over edge. Especially a secretive, control freak like Christian.
On the way back to the safehouse, we decide to stop for a meal. Mia looks edgy. It could be the tension of having to deal with her brother but I suspect she has something else she wants to get off her chest. Our drinks arrive and she takes a deep breath. I guess it was the latter.
“Are you going to tell me what’s up?” I reach out and take her hand across the table.
She swallows down a mouthful of coffee then looks directly at me. This is going to be bad.
“I got hold of the security tapes from Escala from the night of the Coping Together ball. The FBI have got eyes all over that building, including the stairwell. They were watching when Leila Williams broke in.” She looks really troubled by this.
“Babe, they probably have eyes but not 24/7 surveillance. They may not have picked it up until the next morning. You know that.” A tear sneaks into the corner of her eye and she wipes it before dropping her sunglasses down so no one can see. Fuck.
“They knew. Fifteen minutes before she arrived a man came out of that door from the penthouse side and made sure that the door was unlocked.”
“What the…? Why the hell would they do that?”
By now she has pulled her hand away from mine and her fingers are busy worrying a sachet of sugar. Tipping it back and forth as she watches the granules travel from one end to the other.
“I guess they wanted to see what she would find.” She sits back and throws the sachet down on the table in frustration before thrusting her hands into her pants pockets. The material of her blouse is stretch across her firm breasts and even in her anger and frustration my cock rises to attention. Now is not the time to want her. “They’ve got cameras in their bedroom, the main living areas, the security room, the office. Even his little play room. What they’re doing is so fucking illegal.”
“Jesus. Why didn’t they just tap into the feeds from Christian’s security team?” She tips her head at a ‘don’t-be-a-fucking-moron’ angle. Of course, they’ve got that too. That’s how they’re getting this stuff and that’s why Taylor hasn’t seen the insider unlock the door. They’ve wiped it. “Is Jensen reporting this to anyone? Did our guy know anything? I mean, they shouldn’t be allowed to do this.”
But ever since 9/11 we operate on an anything goes policy. The climate of fear is rife across the country and any means is now justifiable, including spying on citizens on home soil. Fuck this stinks.
“We’re pretty sure that they wanted Leila Williams to plant something to scare the shit out of Christian. Something that might make him more cooperative. We could see that she walked into the bedroom with a box in her hands and then left without it.”
“Fuck, it could have been some sort of bomb.” She shakes her head.
“If it was a bomb, then they have removed the section of the tape where they remove it from the apartment. I’ve run those tapes through some pretty rigorous analysis and I can’t see a point where the coding changes, not like the stairwell splice. I’m guessing that either they checked the box and left it or they gave it to her to plant in the first place.”
“So even if it isn’t a real bomb, there is a time bomb waiting to go off in that closet and we have to hope that Christian gets it before Ana does. Why don’t we just tell him?”
“If we tell him then he gets Taylor to sweep the whole apartment and we lose our edge. Jensen isn’t prepared to do that yet.”
“You know I have had just about as much as I can take from Rory ‘fucking’ Jensen. I’m gonna go talk to him.”
“Ethan, no. We need to have the proof that Christian is not involved in all of this. The further into this investigation we get, the more convinced I am that they are going to try and set Christian up as the fall guy. I can’t let that happen. If our surveillance stays intact then we can show them that Christian is completely innocent. Somehow I need to get into that apartment and remove that box myself.”
As usual she is right. We have so much more at stake because we just might have to prove that there are moles and that Christian is being set up by our own agency. What a fucking mess? This time her hand reaches out for mine and grips tightly.
“I love you, Ethan.” And in those few words she says what cannot be said. We both know that we might never be able to walk away from all of this with our lives. At the end of this mission we may have no other choice but to disappear. For good.