Chapter 8: Birthday Presents

~Ana~

Kate is talking, but I am hardly listening. She has gotten bold since I allowed her to touch my hair when Christian was in here and this was the one time I didn’t jump out of my skin. Now she is going on about how silky it is and she wants to know what shampoo and conditioner I’ve been using.

“Kate please stop touching my hair.”

“Oh right! I’m so sorry sweetie.” She always pretends to forget, but she told me when we first started rooming together seven years ago that she would help me overcome my fear. I shake my head at her.

“How did you find out about this?”

“Some guy named Welch contacted me and let me know everything. I asked how he got my number and he said he said he was ordered to call by some guy named Taylor. He still didn’t explain a whole hell of a lot though.” She shrugs and reclines in her chair. “So that jackass boss did this to you? I should have known he was fucking insane when I went to your office Christmas party. I should have told you something was off about that guy when I first felt it. I feel like this is all my fault.”

“Would you and Christian please cool it with the guilt trip? If this is anyone’s fault it’s my own. I led him to believe that I had some type of interest in him and I never meant for that to happen.”

“Oh Ana give me a break. You hardly bat an eye at any man. When we were in college I used to think you were gay, but when you didn’t show interest in girls either I figured you must be a nun.” She gives me a smirk and I start to feel better. Kate is my best friend in the entire world. She was the only one I had until she moved to Portland. When I was about to graduate from high school she made contact with me and said that she would be going to WSU Vancouver and her parents were buying her an apartment and she wanted us to be roommates. I thought she would have forgotten all about me by now, but she hadn’t. That’s why she is and will always be my best friend.

“So! Christian. That’s the stud you told me about. You said you guys really hit it off after I left.”

“Is that why you were rude to him? Because you were jealous of the friendship we used to have?”

“I guess I got a little sensitive. You’re my Ana Banana and I love ya kid.” She playfully punches my arm and I wince. The entire right side of my body is throbbing. “Oh my God Ana I’m sorry!”

“It’s fine. I’m alright. Could you look out the door and see if Christian is coming back yet?” I’m getting restless without him in here.

“Sure. Oh wait, I got you something!” She rummages around in her purse and hands me a small envelope. “Happy birthday!”

“Thank you Kate. You didn’t have to get me anything.”

“I know, but I did and you had better accept it. And you can’t turn this one down because it barely cost me anything.”

I open the envelope and it is a gift card to some really upscale spa that will treat me to “the works,” whatever that means. “Oh Kate this is so nice. Thank you. I will use this as soon as I’m better I promise.”

“That’s what I want to hear. I know I can count on your promises Steele.” She smiles and before she even has the chance to get up Christian comes back in the room.

“Miss Kavenaugh you should really be going. Ana needs to get some rest.”

I see Kate glare at him and I touch her arm. “Kate, please. It’s best to just do what he says. I’ll be alright and I am really tired. I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“You better believe it. Get better soon honey.” With a last kiss on the forehead she grabs her purse and heads for the door. “You’re on my shit list Grey,” and she walks out of the door.

“She really doesn’t like me does she.”

“No I guess not. But don’t take it personally. Kate doesn’t really like anyone.”

“How do the two of you know each other?”

“Well I’ve been knowing her since I was ten. That’s when we moved to Seattle and mom married him. We became best friends and then she moved away when I was twelve. We reconnected seven years ago and we roomed together in college and we’ve been inseparable ever since.”

“So did you become a couple when you reconnected in college?” He asks me coldly.

“C-Christian what the hell are you talking about?! I’m not gay! Why would you even think that?” Is that why he got up and left, because he was thinking that?! You have got to be kidding me. What is up with everyone tonight? Do I seem like I would be a lesbian?

“You aren’t?”

“No.”

“Well I thought you were. When she came in here the two of you were so affectionate with each other that I figured you had to be seeing one another.”

I stare at him for a minute before I burst into laughter. “I don’t see what’s so funny.” He raises a brow at me, but I see the corners of his mouth twitch.

“You’re funny Mr. Grey.”

“Well I think this laughter needs to come to an end. You may hurt yourself. I brought you something.” He plops a gift bag down on my lap.

“Not you too.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well Kate got me this gift card to a fancy spa and I promised I’d go so now I have no choice.”

“Well I swear to you that this is nothing fancy and it barely cost me two dollars.”

“Well that makes me feel special.”

“Would you just open the damn bag Ana?”

I open the bag to find a big white teddy bear. “I thought I would make this birthday a little bit more special,” he whispers to me.

“I love it. Christian I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday. There’s something I need to tell you.”

“And what’s that?”

I smile at him and lean close to his face despite the pain that it causes me. “I love you too.”

 ~Christian~ 

My heart stops beating. She loves me. She knows how fucked up I am and she still is willing to give me her heart. I look into those deep soulful blue eyes and I see them glittering in sincerity. I lean in and plant a gentle kiss on her lips and it instantly becomes something deeper. We are a tangle of tongues and lips. Without thinking my hands glide up her body and begin to tangle in her hair. Just as I am about to close my fists she whispers, “Please Christian. Please don’t pull my hair. You can touch it, but don’t pull it.” I am warmed by this. She never lets anyone touch it, but she allows me to do so. This is progress. Maybe Flynn got through to her after all. Just as I think his name, he appears in the doorway.

“Oh. I apologize. I could come back later,” he says as he sees our embrace.

“No it’s alright John come on in.”

“Ana I just wanted to say that I am truly sorry about what happened and if you want to continue with therapy then I would be more than happy to take you on as a patient.”

“Thank you Dr. I would really like that.” She smiles radiantly at him and it steals my breath away.

“Christian I’ll be leaving now. I’ll send you my bill. “

I smile at him and say, “I wouldn’t expect anything less John.” With that, he turns to leave and my mother walks in.

“Hello Anastasia. Do you remember me?”

“Yes I could never forget you. You’re Grace, Christian’s mother.”

“Yes I am and it is lovely to see you again. You will make a strong recovery and in less time than I think I’m sure.” Her eyes flash to me. “Christian can I speak with you for a moment?”

“Sure mom. I’ll be right back baby,” I tell Ana and I kiss her cheek. I turn back to my mother and she is staring at the two of us wide eyed. We exit the room and stand in the hallway. She looks at me expectantly. I know what she wants, but I won’t give it to her so easily. “What mom?”

“What do you mean what? I want to know about her!”

“Mom you’ll find out soon enough. I have to smooth things over with her first and make our relationship… concrete.” I need Ana to accept all of me, my playroom included.

“So you admit that you are in a relationship with her?!”

I laugh and shake my head. “Something like that mom.”

“Oh Christian this is wonderful!” She hugs me around my neck. I love making my mother happy. It’s the reason I live. Well. It used to be anyway. My reason for living is in the room behind me.

“Hey mom I’m going to get back to her now. Why don’t you go home? You look beat.”

“You’re right I should be getting home before it gets too late. Bring her to dinner soon. I want everyone to meet her.”

“I promise. Now get out of here before I call dad.” I kiss her cheek and return to Ana’s bedside. She is sitting in the bed admiring the gift card her friend has given her.

“You know, I think I would love to go to this place. I deserve some relaxation.”

“Let me see that.” She hands me the gift card and my stomach drops through the floor. It is a gift card to Esclava. The salon I own with Elena.

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~Laters baby~

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