And yes, the title was deliberately meant to make it sound like I might be a fan... Well, how else would I convince Cosmo to read it?! ;-)
Double crap. The soft click of the latch as I turn my key in the door is enough to start butterflies swarming in my stomach. I grip on to Teddy's hand a little tighter. He smiles up at me, with those big, grey-blue eyes - his copper hair glinting in the sunlight - and my heart sinks. We're home. I sigh and attempt to return Teddy's innocent smile. He shouldn't have to know about any of this.
Christian is waiting in the hallway as we walk through the door. Of course he is. I glance at my watch. We can't be late home; I was so careful! I'm always so careful...
"What were you doing in Starbucks?" He barks at me, his eyes alight with anger.
I force another smile. "Starbucks? Teddy and I went to the library, Christian. I told you..." Instinctively, I place one hand on my swollen belly and wrap my free arm around Teddy's shoulders. protecting my children from their father was never something I expected to be doing in this "perfect" marriage of mine...
Christian rolls his eyes - a habit I have long since given up for my own good. "I can track your cell phone, Anastasia," he says, through gritted teeth. "I allowed you to go out without Taylor and this is how you repay my kindness? With lies?!"
I squeeze Teddy's shoulders. "Do you want to play in your room?" As he rushes upstairs, I wonder how much of this he picks up on. Too much, I'm sure.
"Now he's gone, you can tell me the truth." Christian is pacing the floor now, running his long fingers through his hair. I swallow hard as I look at him. A man I once found so attractive, I simply refused to acknowledge his behaviour. Everything about him was perfect in my eyes; his hair, his smile, even the way his pants hung from his hips, for crying out loud! Now... I stare at the floor.
"I bumped into Kate in the library and she wanted to talk baby stuff. She's due any day now, Christian. And she's my best friend..."
"I thought you were dead." Christian's eyes well up and he blinks rapidly at me. I know this routine so well now that its effect on me has dwindled into nothing.
"You thought I was dead because I went to Starbucks?" A bitter laugh escapes my lips before I can stop it. Next thing I know, his hands are gripping my arms. Holy shit. I know better than that...
"You know what I've been through, Anastasia," Christian whines, continuing his act. "Losing my mother, being an outsider, having Jack Hyde try his best to tear us apart... How could you worry me like that?" His grip on my arms is starting to hurt. I glance down and notice my skin reddening beneath his fingers.
"I'm allowed to see my friends, Christian," I insist. It's a lie of course. With him, I'm not allowed to see anybody. Not without his permission, first. I sigh; once upon a time, I genuinely believed that he was trying to keep me safe. All the false dramas seemed to justify the control he insisted on having over every aspect of my life. I force myself to look into his eyes. He really is fifty shades of fucked up. "Kate hasn't seen me in six months, Christian. My mom hasn't seen me in longer than that. People are worried about me..."
Christian's nostrils flare as his grip on my arms becomes ever more uncomfortable. "I do believe you're making my palm twitch..."
His words, which once sent desire throbbing through my body, send nothing but waves of revulsion up and down my spine. I say one word. A word he's not used to: "No."
In one swift move, he has me against the front door. "You do not get to say no to me," he hisses. "You. Are. Mine." Suddenly, with his face inches from my own, he begins to laugh. "I love it when you stand up to me, Mrs Grey. It gives me a chance to remind you of a few things." With equal suddenness, he lets go of my arms and turns from me, pacing the floor and chuckling. I glance down at the dark red fingermarks in my skin and I feel physically sick.
"I know where you are at all times," Christian says, breaking my thoughts. He turns back to face me. "I control your finances. I know where every single member of your family and friends lives. I can get you a job and I can lose you it just as fast." The smile on his face has faded now and he's back to standing just inches away. When I say you're mine, Anastasia Grey, I mean it. And there's nothing you can do about it. Do you understand me?" His fingers gently tilt my head up to face him and his voice changes completely. "I love you, that's all. I want to protect you; you wouldn't be safe without me. And if my methods seem a little...unusual...well, it's hardly surprising, given the life I've led." He leans in and kisses my lips. My stomach heaves as I desperately fumble for the door knob behind me. Christian breaks away and strokes a stray hair away from my face. "You are mine."
The door swings open as I turn the handle behind my back. Christian's eyes widen as he sees Taylor and Sawyer standing with Teddy, their faces etched with concern. Genuine concern. For me. The thought swells my heart and gives me the courage to say what I need to.
I rush out of the house just as the police arrive to make the arrest. I know that this is just the start of the battle - there will be enormous consequences to what I've done today. But as I strap Teddy into the car and offer Taylor and Sawyer a grateful smile, I know that whatever mountain lies ahead, I am capable of climbing it,
I am free.