"Let me call them," I whisper. He shakes his head. "Please." I beg. Christian stares at me, pain and self-doubt reflected in his eyes as he considers my request. Oh, Christian, please!
"I'll call them," he whispers.
"Good. We can go and see them together, or you can go. Whichever you prefer."
"No. They can come here."
"I don't want you going anywhere."
"Christian, I'm up for a car journey."
"No." His voice is firm, but he gives me an ironic smile. "Anyway, it's Saturday night, they're probably at some function."
"Call them. This news has obviously upset you. They might be able to shed some light." I glance at the radio alarm. It's almost seven in the evening. He regards me impassively for a moment.
"Okay," he says as if I've issued him with a challenge. Sitting up, he reaches for the bedside phone.
I wrap my arm around him and rest my head on his chest as he makes the call.
"Dad?" I register his surprise that Carrick has answered the phone.
"Ana's good. We're home. Welch has just left. He found out the connection . . . the foster home in Detroit . . . I don't remember any of that." Christian's voice is almost inaudible as he mutters the last sentence. My heart constricts once more. I hug him, and he squeezes my shoulder.
"Yeah . . . You will? . . . Great." He hangs up. "They're on their way." He sounds surprised, and I realize that he's probably never asked them for help.
"Good. I should get dressed."
Christian's arm tightens around me. "Don't go."
"Okay." I snuggle into his side again, stunned by the fact that he's just told me a great deal about himself - entirely voluntarily.
As we stand at the threshold to the great room, Grace wraps me gently in her arms.
"Ana, Ana, darling Ana," she whispers. "Saving two of my children. How can I ever thank you?"
I blush, touched and embarrassed in equal measure by her words. Carrick hugs me, too, kissing my forehead.
Then Mia grabs me, squashing my ribs. I wince and gasp, but she doesn't notice. "Thank you for saving me from those ass**les."
Christian scowls at her. "Mia! Careful! She's in pain."
"I'm good," I mutter, relieved when she releases me. She looks fine. Impeccably dressed in tight black jeans and a pale pink frilly blouse. I'm glad I'm wearing my comfortable wrap dress and flats. At least I look reasonably presentable.
Racing over to Christian, Mia curls her arm around his waist. Wordlessly, he hands Grace the photo. She gasps, her hand flying to her mouth to contain her emotion as she instantly recognizes Christian. Carrick wraps his arm around her shoulder as he, too, examines it.
"Oh, darling." Grace caresses Christian's cheek.
Taylor appears. "Mr. Grey? Miss Kavanagh, her brother, and your brother are coming up, sir."
Christian frowns. "Thank you, Taylor," he mutters, bemused.
"I called Elliot and told him we were coming over." Mia grins. "It's a welcome-home party."
I sneak a sympathetic glance at my poor husband as both Grace and Carrick glare at Mia in exasperation.
"We'd better get some food together," I declare. "Mia, will you give me a hand?"
"Oh, I'd love to."
I usher her toward the kitchen area as Christian leads his parents into his study.
Kate is apoplectic with righteous indignation that's aimed at me, Christian, but most of all Jack and Elizabeth.
"What were you thinking, Ana?" she shouts as she confronts me in the kitchen, causing all eyes in the room to turn and stare.
"Kate, please. I've had the same lecture from everyone!" I snap back. She glares at me, and for one minute I think I'm going to be subjected to a Katherine Kavanagh how-not-to-succumb-to-kidnappers lecture, but instead she folds me into her arms.
"Jeez - sometimes you don't have the brains you were born with, Steele," she whispers. As she kisses my cheek, there are tears in her eyes . Kate! "I've been so worried about you."
"Don't cry. You'll set me off."
She stands back and wipes her eyes, embarrassed, then takes a deep breath and composes herself. "On a more positive note, we've set a date for our wedding. We thought next May? And of course I want you to be my matron of honor."
"Oh . . . Kate . . . Wow. Congratulations!" Crap - Li'l Blip . . . Junior!
"What is it?" she asks, misinterpreting my alarm.
"Um . . . I'm just so happy for you. Some good news for a change."
I wrap my arms around her and pull her into a hug. Shit, shit, shit. When is Blip due? Mentally I calculate my due date. Dr. Greene said I was four or five weeks. So - sometime in May? Shit. Elliot hands me a glass of champagne.
Christian emerges from his study, looking ashen, and follows his parents into the great room. His eyes widen when he sees the glass in my hand.
"Kate," he greets her coolly.
"Christian." She is equally cool. I sigh.
"Your meds, Mrs. Grey." He eyes the glass in my hand. I narrow my eyes. Dammit. I want a drink. Grace smiles as she joins me in the kitchen, collecting a glass from Elliot on the way.
"A sip will be fine," she whispers with a conspiratorial wink at me, and lifts her glass to clink mine. Christian scowls at both of us, until Elliot distracts him with news of the Mariners' latest match against the Rangers.
Carrick joins us, putting his arms around us both, and Grace kisses his cheek before joining Mia on the sofa.
"How is he?" I whisper to Carrick as he and I stand in the kitchen watching the family lounge on the sofa. I note with surprise that Mia and Ethan are holding hands.