Ana paced back and forth on the floor of her apartment thumbing anxiously at her lip. Tomorrow was her family reunion and to say she didn’t want to go, was the understatement of the year. The sound of heels clacking against the hardwood of her penthouse was the only sound that could be heard, as her anxiety continued to skyrocket. A knock on the door startled her and she jumped a bit, freezing on the spot. She looked down at herself and shrugged looking down at herself in her skinny jeans, heels and tank top , she looked like a mess but who gave a fuck it was her home and no one could judge her for how she looked. Walking to the door she continued to let her thoughts race around the disaster that would be tomorrow. Shaking off the troubling thoughts she opened the door and rolled her eyes at the person standing on the other side.
“Mr.Grey” she looked the man up and down, good lord was this man sex on a stick, an ass but hot ass “ to what do I owe the pleasure of your presence today?” she plastered on a fake smile as she stared him down.
“Ms. Steele,” the smirk that danced on his lips as he said her name was nearly enough to push her to roll her eyes, but her upbringing kept her from doing so. That damned smirk was going to get her in trouble someday.
“My apologies Christian, I’m a little stressed right now” she walked back into the penthouse and resumed her frantic pacing while Christian closed the door behind him and sat on the sofa behind her. She cocked an eyebrow at the sight of him behind her and tilted her head to the side and sitting next to him with a huff.” My family reunion is tomorrow and let’s just say there’s some skeletons in that closet that need to stay there.” She shook her head and looked up at her neighbor with angry tears in her eyes. Christian shuffled around uncomfortably next to his neighbor, the only times he ever talked to her was when they were bickering, but seeing her cry and looking so out of sorts was something that made his heart hurt for some bizarre reason.
“Anastasia, is there anything I can do to help? I know we aren’t friends but surely I can help somehow.” She raised her head and looked at him shaking her head slowly.
“ There’s nothing you can do, I have to go to this reunion, b-but.” She buried her face into her hands and shuddered. Lifting her head, a little bit,” my sister, god I don’t know why I’m telling you this but, my sister is dating the guy that raped me in college.” He opened and closed his mouth several times before he was able to get anything out.
“I am so sorry that happened to you,” he reached forward and tucked a stray hair behind her ear. He sat for a moment in silence before continuing “does she know?”
Anastasia lifted her head and shook it again,” No it wasn’t I mean; it wasn’t rape like you see on TV where its violent and bloody, I just laid there while he did his thing and didn’t fight back. After he passed out, I just laid there in silence and cried myself to sleep, never reported it and never confronted him about it. Afterwards I was too ashamed to tell anyone about it.” She paused taking a shaky breath” I didn’t tell anyone until about a year ago when I started going to therapy.” She shook her head and looked at Christian “by the time I was ready to talk about it they were already dating, and I couldn’t do anything.”
He frowned softly and wrapped an arm around her pulling her into his side, this was not what he had planned when he came to confront his neighbor about the incessant clacking back and forth for hours. Christian began to absentmindedly rub his hand up and down her arm while he thought about what to say. “without a doubt, this situation is one that you don’t deserve to be in by any means, guys like that deserve to shot in the dick.” He chuckled humorlessly,” What are you going to do about tomorrow? Is seeing this douchecanoe going to set you back?” she laid her head on Christians shoulder and groaned.
“probably but I have to go I can’t miss this” she stood up and straightened out her top before wiping her eyes,” I’m sorry for dumping this on you Mr. Grey, I’m sure you didn’t come up her to play therapist for a sad girl.” She headed to the door and opened it swinging her arm in the direction of it. She was so incredibly embarrassed to have unloaded on her neighbor, Seattle’s most elite bachelor and angry recluse.
Christian stood up with a frown on his face and walked over to the door, he paused in the doorway and turned to her tapping his fingers on his chin. “ I’ll go with you Anastasia, and you can lean on me if this gets to be too much for you.”
Anastasia’s head whipped around and she let go of the door, wincing as the door slammed shut. “Christian…I can’t ask you to do that. This- “Christian stood up shaking his head and walking into her space.
“Anastasia you aren’t asking. I’m offering” He smiled and shook his head” besides, who wouldn’t want to fake date me?” He grinned and wiggled his eyebrows” I’m irresistible, or so they tell me. I promise I won’t let this guy cause you any more pain, that’s my job as the annoying neighbor.”
Ana smiled and rolled her eyes “Christian all we do is bicker, what makes you think we can make it through a reunion pretending to like each other? I leave first thing in the morning, so if you’ll excuse me I need to finish packing” She turned back to the door and opened it, firm in her resolve that she could not ask this man for this. Christian nodded and walked out, Anastasia hurried and shut the door before he could say anything more. She hurried to her room to prepare for the week from hell.
Christian grinned to himself as he walked down the stairs and back to his own apartment. This poor girl was not going to go through this alone, no matter how little they got along. He called up Taylor and got him to work on finding out the details of Miss. Steele’s flight and canceling in favor of his own jet. This was going to be a long week but no one should have to face their abuser on their own, he knew from experience what that could do to someone.
The next morning found Christian standing on the sidewalk in front of the building waiting for Anastasia to come down. When she emerged from the building he grinned and looked her up and down, her blue sundress and curled hair were something that made him want to take her back upstairs and lock them both behind the door of his apartment. At least that was until he noticed the bags under her eyes and the determined set of her jaw. “Anastasia, are you ready?” She looked at him with her eyes blown wide in shock and put a hand over her heart. “Our plane leaves in an hour, Miss. Steele and I would like to get some food on the way”
“Mr. Grey- “
“Please call me Christian, if we are to pretend to be dating then we should at least be a little less formal in how we speak to one another.” Anastasia shook her head and began to protest before she could open her mouth he leaned in close and gripped her elbow softly. “No one offered to help me, when I had to face my rapist, let me help you…please.” He let go of her elbow and opened the door to the SUV that was idling against the curb. Anastasia searched his eyes and nodded attempting to grab her bags when a man materialized seemingly out of nowhere and grabbed them nodding at her.
Anastasia slid into the car and buckled up as Christian shut the door and walked around to the other side of the car to his seat next to her in the backseat. The guy that grabbed her bags, slipped into the driver’s seat and drove off in the direction of the airport.
Anastasia sat stiff as a board in the unfamiliar car still processing what Christian had just told her, her quiet musings were interrupted when a tap on the arm got her attention. A file was slid onto her lap and as she met Christian’s eyes he was frowning slightly.
“Anastasia, I don’t mean to be rude or crass, but what I disclosed to you, and whatever I continue to disclose to you has to remain confidential.” He passed her a pen and tapped the file,” This is a non-disclosure agreement, I ask that you please sign it for my peace of mind” Anastasia frowned and opened the file to the document. Tapping her finger on her thigh she nodded to herself and signed the paper. Christian smiled softly and placed the file on the seat behind them. He looked at her worriedly “I’m sorry about that. I want to be able, to be honest with you, but I need to make sure nothing gets out to the public”
Anastasia smiled and patted his arm,” Christian, I get it. If I was in your position I would do the same thing.” He smiled and nodded his head. When Anastasia looked out the window she noticed they had already arrived at the airport and the strange man that was driving was getting out to get their bags, while Christian got out and opened her door for her.
Ana knew she should have been less surprised that Christian had not only canceled her flight but arranged for them to leave on his private jet. As they boarded his jet she looked around in awe, Anastasia and her family weren’t poor by any means, but they were not nearly as well off as Christian was. She grinned and tapped her fingers on her chin as she watched women trying to flirt with him as he made his way into the jet. He pulled off his aviators and shook his head as he took the seat next to her.
“Anastasia, these women only see this face, and instantly swarm, I must have dollar signs floating over my head.” He leaned back in his seat and turned to look at Anastasia, when he did his face grew somber and he put a hand on her thigh “I promise you that I won’t let this bastard make this weekend anything less than perfect for you. I still think he needs to be shot in the dick and thrown into a pack of wolves, but that’s just me.” He smiled and squeezed her thigh before returning his hand to his own armrest.” Together we are going to get through this weekend”