I don't know what to think about what just happened a while ago. Shock. Yeah, shock about covers it. Ella James twenty-two years later. My son adores her and went all CEO on my ass over Ryan and Ella there's that little factor to. Maybe, taking him to work has its drawbacks, then again he's gonna make one hell of a CEO when the time comes. Though, Teddy is a bookworm like Ana, so what Company he'll choose we'll have to see.
Ana doesn't' know what to think about me right now. To say that I'm quiet is an understatement. She shoots me her talk Grey patented glare, but I shrug and shake my head signaling not now. No, there is too much shit in my head right now and I don't want to lose it until we're home. The babies and Ana are settled. Teddy's napping. Yes, then Jason and I can have a come to Jesus as to why the fuck he's been hiding shit from me! No wonder, Luke has been nervous as hell this week! He's been waiting for the shit to hit the fan.
"Daddy?" Teddy is shooting me his worried face as I get him set in his car seat, after I get Ana and the triplets all set in our Custom Audi Q7 designed especially for us and our new arrivals.
Hey, I spend enough and no I didn't ask they contacted Jason and he took it from there. It's a beauty, but then they all are and the safest of its class.
"Yeah, bud." I ruffle his hair as I take a seat next to him. This might take some getting used to or I might ride shotgun with Jason and have Luke sit back here with Teddy. Shit. He'd shoot me down. Boss or not. Jason's like an Uncle has been all of my life.
"Are you mad at me?" He's got his bow shaped mouth in an adorable pout, just like his mother.
Shit! Ana heard that not good. Nope and Teddy's not gonna lie to his Mommy.
"Yes, Mommy?" Teddy answers, but keeps his big blue-grey eyes on me.
"What's going on, bud?" She gingerly turns in her seat to look back at us.
"I had ice cream with a stranger, but Uncle Ryan was with me…" He confesses his sin as if this is a confessional box. "But my Uncles all know her…"
I glance up front to the rearview mirror. "Yeah, and I'm gonna have a nice long discussion about that with them when we get home." Yep, deer in headlights, Jason's busted and so is Luke. Yeah, boys we're gonna talk. I lock eyes with them through the mirror and they both sigh resigned to their dressing down.
"Christian Alexander Trevelyan-Grey! Who is our son talking about?" Ana narrows her eyes at me. Teddy beats me to it.
"Miss James…" Teddy bites his trembling lip. "She's really nice and Logan's boss…he calls her his other momma. The men in suits came to see him and Miss James carried me out of his room and we had ice cream. She's gonna make an animal rescue shelter when her house is built. It's on the Sound…She has kids that she wants to see after being away a long, long, time…Pictures of them in her locket…"
"Ella…" Ana gasps, her big blue eyes widening with shock as well as understanding why I was so pensive. "Logan's boss…the woman whose like Jason…is Ella…?"
"Apparently, so." I nod, eyes grave, fisting my hands so that I don't pull my hair out. "She was holding Theodore when I walked into Logan's room to get him…"
"Daddy was really mad…She's my grandma, but not…he fired Uncle Ryan…"
"Christian!" Ana narrows her eyes at me.
"He's on vacation until after Thanksgiving. He and Sara are jetting off to Bali on me. CEO Theodore handed me my tail over the entire situation. I invited Ella to the family dinner tonight…" I take several deep calming breaths, but never break our stare down.
"She's sorry, Daddy. She protected us all…"
"Teddy, I said we'll see…" I growl, tearing my gaze from Ana's to focus on Teddy.
"Teddy, Daddy, hasn't seen Miss James for a very long time. Give him time to adjust…it's not as simple as welcoming her with open arms. Okay, little man." Ana was now doing the stare with our son.
"Yes, Mommy…" He nodded, his thumb hovering by his mouth, as he tends to do when he was scared or nervous. "Sorry, Daddy…I just see things different…" In goes the thumb.
"I know, kiddo. It's just really complicated. Don't worry about it. I promise to hear her out and play nice." I kiss his head. "You need to leave the heavy stuff to Mommy and me. We're tough we can handle it. I know that you mean well, little peacemaker and I love you to infinity and beyond."
"We both do, Teddybear." Ana reaches into her Juicy Couture bag of all things and hands me his teddy and blanket, which he takes and hugs to him.
"I love you and Daddy more…" He yawns, closes his eyes and he's out. Car rides short or long knock him out.
Ana takes my hand in her own brings it to her lips and kisses the top of it. "We've got this. It's gonna be okay, babe. Promise."
"Still processing, baby." I turn my hand to kiss hers. "Still processing…"
"Chris…don't overthink this…" She knows me so well.
"Ella's a badass..." I shake my head, as it's still mindboggling that the girl that I can barely remember turns up again and she's big brother's boss and the female version of Jason…boggles the mind, hell, try fries the synapsis just trying to wrap my brain around the realization.
I remember bits and pieces…flashes really…of when she fought some guy who tried to take me right off my swing in our backyard. I mean she whaled the hell out of I guess it was Hyde when she was barely seventeen, so yeah I can see it. I remember smelling smoke lots of it and feeling heat from the fire that changed Mia and my lives forever.
To this day not a fan of smoke or fire, but I tolerate fireplaces. I can remember happy times with two other women one had to have been Ella's Mom the other was her mother. Both beautiful, kind, fiercely loving and protective of Ella, Mia, and I. Then the fire happened…yeah not a fan of flames…
Over the past few months Hyde has been sending me home movies none of them are worth repeating…When I told Ella that I knew everything and that I get why she gave us up…yeah, like I said psycho home movies have been the stuff of my nightmares for weeks. You can't un-see shit like that…
"I want to see them…" Ana as usual is picking my brain. Yeah, the soul bond sucks some times.
"No…" I growl, my eyes flash her a drop it glare that of course she ignores.
"Yes, you haven't slept, not really, in weeks. I need to know…"
"No, Anastasia Rose you do not need that stuff in your head…" I hiss back. "Stephen King has nothing on Hyde. I had Jason destroy all the copies. You seeing it, not happening, baby."
"I doubt that Jason destroyed potential evidence that could answer all the questions to a cold case file…." Ana isn't backing down. "If it's effecting you this much then I need to see it…we're a team…full disclosure always..."
"Always?" I arch a brow.
"Back at you, Grey." She mirrors me.
"At the time you were in a high risk pregnancy and I wasn't about to risk causing you to develop Pre-eclampsia…Where as I was perfectly fine. Stressed for good reason, but fine." I shoot that back at her, your turn baby.
I had her there. She had nothing else to counter me with. She stared at me, blew out a breath, and sighed resigned that I'd won our chess match.
Then her eyes fired, narrowed, and she growled softly. "Full discloser, babe. From now on, no matter what the situation, and that includes physicals. I wouldn't have been worried, none of us would have, if you had confided to all of us that you'd passed your physical with flying colors."
"Ana…the videos were of Ella's attack when she was a teenager and the fire…you do not need to see that no one needs to see that…its over…he's roasting in hell…" It takes several deep breaths, but I manage to hiss out what was on those videos to my stubborn other half.
"Jason?" Ana turns so that she can lock eyes with his in the mirror.
"Shown to the proper channels and then disposed of, Annie. I've got you both. Always have. Always will." Jason's got his stoic poker face on. When we were younger it usually meant weekend boot camp, now it's a warning to drop it.
"Protecting what's mine is not lying and not showing you the horrific rape gang attack against an innocent teenage girl or years later the murder and torture of two wonderful women by a bastard who may or may not have been my sperm donor. I can never un-see it, but there is no way in hell that I was gonna let you or anyone in my family, sans Jason for obvious reasons, have that etched in your brains."
"Teddy heard it…" Ana's blinking back tears and biting her trembling lip.
"What?" Shit! Teddy snuck into my office that night?!
"He was bringing you a cookie. You were crying while looking at something on your screen...he heard yelling and screaming noises nothing recognizable, but you lost it…he ran to get me…I was in my own hell having to keep a secret and not wanting to and was in tears…"
"He came and got us to tend to the two of you. Ry took him outside while things calmed down…" Jason added.
"Ry and I got in contact with the local shelter and arranged for the puppies the next day…" Luke growled softly.
"We'd all but decided to get two after Jason and I had gone to the shelter that afternoon and then the box came…" I grit my teeth.
"Chris, relax." Ana squeezed my hand hard to get me to focus. "Logan and Ella neutralized the threat. We're safe. Deep breaths in and out. Then focus on the now."
I calm my mind, close my eyes, and breathe in and out.
"That's it." She's the best medicine. I nearly purr when she starts running her fingers through my hair.
"I invited Ella to dinner…In all honesty, I've searched for her ever since Dad confided that she was still alive and her reasons for abandoning Mia and I…nothing panned out. I exhausted all of my resources, because Mia wanted to meet her."
"Ella left you in order to keep you and Mia safe. Grace's parents knew her mother and grandmother. She agreed to them helping her until she graduated on the condition that Grace and Carrick adopted the two of you. Grace insisted on an open adoption, because Ella was so young and believed that she would want to know her babies and they her one day. Ella agreed. She stayed with your grandparents and true to her word the night of her graduation she left…" Jason's so lucky that he's Ana's Godfather and family or so fired he would be!
"You knew…all this time…no wonder nothing panned out…"
"No! I wasn't a kid anymore…"
"Hyde was a clear and present threat, so was Lincoln. You are known throughout the world. She was carrying out her promise to her mother and grandmother. Meeting you and Mia took a backseat to that goal. She's been key in protecting you for years just in the shadows…" Jason cuts me off.
"Can I see a photo of her?" Ana asks softly.
Luke hands her his phone and I feel like firing my whole security staff. I can't because fuck they're family! Shit!
Ana gasps, eyes wide as she looks at Ella James smiling at our son. "Christian. She's been present at every milestone that you and Mia have had. All of your graduations. The opening of GEH. The Mile High Club. Your Engagement parties. Your Weddings…Teddy and Gabe's births…in the shadows but there watching over both of you. To care that much and not be able to even approach you must have been agony for her."
"How did I miss her…every single event…?" To say that I'm floored is an understatement. My parents had to have had some means of contacting her all this time. I don't know how I feel about that either.
"Chris, Ella, has mastered the art of disguise…" Jason's on damage control, a little too late for that my friend. "She's not seen unless she wishes to be…"
"Baby? How?" Our eyes lock once again, troubled storm grey eyes imploring loving ocean blue.
"I have that thing about remembering faces, well, that and she has your eyes and striking features." Ana caresses my cheek with her hand and I lean into it and close my eyes. "Team Steele-Grey for eternity, my heart."
"Always, my life." I turn my face to kiss her palm.
"Think of this as the first step in building a relationship with Ella. She's not a threat and has been watching over and protecting us…"
"I'm trying, Ana…" I sigh, it's been one hell of a week. "One plus in her favor. Our son adores her already and he's only met her a few times. He's all for Ella wanting to set up an animal rescue after her house renovations on the Sound are completed…" Then it hits me. The only property with that much acreage is adjacent to Grey Meadows. I've been trying to acquire it like I have all of the lots around us. It's a prime piece of property nothing on it building wise unless you count ruins of the former Victorian mansion never rebuilt by the owners. Its run wild, but the acreage would triple our property. I've been shot down every time, now I know why.
"What's the matter with wanting to rescue animals?" Ana's looking at me like I've lost my mind.
"Ana, our place borders her property. The big mansion that burns in my nightmares and on that video…"
"The Walker property? Are you sure, Chris…"
"He's right, although Grey Meadows sits on the other half of the original grounds. It was her gift to the two of you. The Mile High was for Mia. Oh, and the property on which Grey House sits. Yeah, that too. She inherited a shit load when she turned 21, then in increments from twenty five till she turned thirty. You and Mia had trusts too, but that she's invested for your children. Her team, all loyal to her mother and grandmother, have watched over it for her." Jason is not one to reveal all, but this car ride has been eye-opening to say the least.
"My dream house? She built it for us? We'd been searching for weeks. Nothing fit. I was carrying Teddy…Then our parents pointed us here… Mia's dream club and restaurant? Grey House?" Ana's waiting for me to go nuclear, but it's not gonna happen, not in the car with our sleeping babies.
The thing is I'm not really sure if angry even covers it. Numb. Yeah, that's how I feel. Ella's never left Mia and me. It must have nearly destroyed her to leave us with Grace and Carrick. To have to watch over us from the shadows. Our parents gave us the seed money for GEH or so I thought? Harvard? I wonder?
We drive through the gates and we're home.
Ana snaps me out of my thoughts. "The babies and Teddy are priority. The rest can wait."
The doors to the house open and with it come Gail and Sophie. Both of them make a mad dash for the SUV. Baby fever has commenced.
Everyone is acting weird because of who Daddy invited for tonight's welcome home dinner. Aunt Gail thinks the menu is too simple and wants to go all fancy instead of having the cookout that was already planned. My Grandmas are in some sort of conference over it. Gran Carla is mad at Nana Grace for holding out on her about Miss James.
I guess that she and Grandpa Cary have been aware of Miss James for a long and I do mean long time. Their plan was to surprise Daddy and Aunt Mia at the cookout tonight, so for them it's going great.
Mommy's settled on the couch in the Sun Room and the babies are sleeping in their baby baskets beside her. She's resting like Daddy wants, but I think that's kinda hard when the whole house is acting so crazy right now.
Aunt Mia brought twelve wardrobe changes and keeps going to change like every five minutes. Uncle Ethan finally put his foot down and has her parked on the other couch. I guess she's gonna have to settle for a pretty pink dress and flats.
Aunt Kate's right beside her, but she's entranced by the babies.
Ava, Gabe, and Soph are all playing, but I'm keeping an eye on Daddy.
My Grandpas and Uncles are outside where Daddy is manning the grill with Uncle Jason. He's pretty much ignoring them right now. They had a big talk in his den as soon as everyone got here. When he closes that door it's like it isn't there no noise nothing comes from it. That's fine by me because it's less growling and yelling that I get to hear.
The babies are howling again and Daddy tosses the flipper tool to Grandpa and dashes back inside with Uncle Ethan and Elliot on his heels. He pauses at the doorway where I'm playing with Leo and Max and bends to kiss me on the head and tell me he loves me before going tending to them. My Uncles are on baby duty too.
Believe it or not the three of them actually bet on who can change a diaper or burp the fastest. Daddies are so weird.
Leo and Max take off barking excitedly into the house and I give chase. She's here!