Freed (Fifty Shades as Told by Christian #3) - E.L. James Page 0,1
You did good, Grey.
“Christian, could I talk to you?” Carrick asks as he stands up, his expression grim.
His stare is unwavering as he directs me out of the room.
“Um. Sure.” I glance at Grace, but she’s studiously avoiding my gaze.
Has she told him about Elena?
Fuck. I hope not.
I follow him to his study, and he ushers me in, closing the door behind him.
“Your mother told me,” he says with no preamble whatsoever.
I glance at the clock—it’s 12:28. It’s too late in the day for this talk…in every sense. “Dad, I’m tired—”
“No. You are not avoiding this conversation.” His voice is stern and his eyes narrow to pinpricks as he peers at me over his glasses. He’s mad. Really mad.
“Quiet, son. You need to listen.” He sits on the edge of his desk, removes his glasses, and begins to clean them with the lint cloth he pulls from his pocket. I stand before him, as I often have, feeling like I did when I was fourteen years old and I’d just been expelled from school—again. Resigned, I take a deep breath and, sighing as loudly as I can, place my hands on my hips and wait for the onslaught.
“To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. What Elena did was criminal—”
“No, Christian. You don’t get to speak right now.” He glares at me. “She deserves to be locked up.”
He pauses and slides his glasses back into place. “But I think it’s your deception that disappoints me the most. Every time you left this house with some lie that you were studying with your friends—friends we never got to meet—you were fucking that woman.”
“How am I to believe anything you’ve ever said to us?” he continues.
Oh, for fuck’s sake. This is a complete overreaction. “Can I speak now?”
“No. You can’t. Of course, I blame myself. I thought I’d given you some semblance of a moral compass. And now I’m wondering if I’ve taught you anything at all.”
“Are you asking a rhetorical question?”
He ignores me. “She was a married woman and you had no respect for that, and you’re shortly to become a married man—”
“This has nothing to do with Anastasia!”
“Don’t you dare shout at me,” he says, with such quiet venom that I’m silenced immediately. I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard him this angry. It’s sobering. “It has everything to do with her. You are about to make a huge commitment to a young woman.” His tone softens. “It’s a surprise to all of us. And I’m happy for you. But we are talking about the sanctity of marriage. And if you have no respect for that, then you have no business being married.”
“And if you’re that cavalier about the sacred vows that you will soon be affirming, you seriously need to consider a prenuptial agreement.”
What? I raise my hands to stop him. He’s gone too far. I’m an adult, for heaven’s sake. “Don’t bring Ana into this. She’s not some grubby gold-digger.”
“This is not about her.” He stands and steps toward me. “It’s about you. You living up to your responsibilities. You being a trustworthy and decent human being. You being husband material!”
“For fuck’s sake, Dad, I was fifteen years old!” I shout, and we’re nose to nose, glowering at each other.
Why is he reacting so badly to this? I know I’ve always been a huge disappointment to him, but he’s never spelled it out so plainly.
He shuts his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose, and I realize that in my moments of stress I do the same. This habit comes from him, but in my case the apple has fallen far, far from the tree.
“You’re right. You were a vulnerable child. But what you fail to see is that what she did was wrong, and clearly you still can’t see it because you’ve continued to associate with her, not only as a family friend, but in business. Both of you have been lying to us for all these years. And that’s what hurts the most.” His voice drops. “She was your mother’s friend. We thought she was a good friend. She’s the opposite. You will cut all financial ties with her.”
Fuck off, Carrick.
I want to tell him that Elena was a force for good, and that I wouldn’t have continued my association with her if I thought anything else. But I know this will fall on deaf ears. He didn’t want to listen when I was fourteen and struggling in school, and it appears he doesn’t want