Darker (Fifty Shades 5) - Page 146

“Next time we go to Portland, can we take the train?”

“Sure thing.”

“You did good, Christian.”

“So did you.”

“I’ll call Andrea and let her know we’re safe.”


“She can call your family. I’m sure they’re worried. I’ll see you tomorrow at your birthday party.”

My family? They don’t worry about me. “See you then.”

She leans across and kisses my cheek. “Good night.” I’m touched. It’s the first time she’s ever done that.

I watch her walk through the courtyard of her apartment building.

“Ros!” I hear Gwen’s screech as she comes barreling out of the double doors of the entryway and scoops Ros up in her embrace.

I wave and order the cab to take me around the corner.

THERE ARE PHOTOGRAPHERS OUTSIDE of my apartment building. Something must be going on. I pay the driver, get out of the cab, and keep my head down as I walk through the front door.

“There he is!”

“Christian Grey.”

“He’s here!”

The flashes dazzle me, but I manage to get inside relatively unscathed. Surely they’re not here for me? Maybe they are, or is it someone else who’s in the building tonight that’s worthy of this kind of attention? Fortunately, the elevator is free. Once inside, I take off my shoes and socks. My feet are sore, and it’s a relief to be barefoot. I look at my shoes. I probably won’t wear them again.

Poor Ros. She’s going to have some blisters tomorrow.

I don’t imagine Ana will be home. She’s probably still at the bar. I’ll go find her once I’ve swapped the battery on my phone, changed my shirt, and maybe had a shower. I take off my jacket as the doors to the elevator open and step into the foyer.

The television is blaring from the TV room.


I wander into the living room.

My family are all gathered here.

“Christian!” Grace shrieks, and she races toward me like a tropical storm, so I’m forced to drop my jacket and shoes in time to catch her. She wraps her arms around my neck and kisses me vigorously on my cheek, and hugs me. Hard.

What the hell?


“I thought I’d never see you again,” Grace rasps.

“Mom, I’m here,” I reassure her, bemused. Can’t she see I’m fine?

“I died a thousand deaths today.” Her voice cracks on the last word and she begins to sob. I hold her tighter in my arms. I’ve never seen her like this. My mom. Holding me. It feels good. “Oh, Christian,” she sobs, and she hugs me like she’ll never let me go as she weeps into my neck. Closing my eyes, I rock her gently.

“He’s alive! Shit, you’re here!” My dad comes out of Taylor’s office, followed by Taylor. Carrick barrels toward Mom and me and embraces us both.


Then Mia joins us. Hugging us all.


A family huddle.

When did this ever happen?


Carrick pulls away first, and he’s wiping his eyes.

He’s crying?

Mia and Grace step back. “Sorry,” Grace says.

“Hey, Mom, it’s okay,” I say, uncomfortable with all this unwarranted attention.

“Where were you? What happened?” she cries, and puts her head in her hands, still weeping.

“Mom.” I pull her into my arms and kiss her head and hold her once more. “I’m here. I’m good. It’s just taken me a hell of a long time to get back from Portland. What’s with the welcoming committee?” I look up, and there she is. Wide-eyed and beautiful. Tears streaming down her face. My Ana.

“Mom, I’m good,” I tell Grace. “What’s wrong?”

She holds my face and addresses me as if I’m still a child. “Christian, you’ve been missing. Your flight plan—you never made it to Seattle. Why didn’t you contact us?”

“I didn’t think it would take this long.”

“Why didn’t you call?”

“No power in my cell.”

“You didn’t stop. Call collect?”

“Mom, it’s a long story.”

“Oh, Christian! Don’t you ever do that to me again! Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mom.” I wipe her tears with my thumbs and give her another hug. It feels good to hold the woman who saved me.

She steps back and Mia hugs me. Hard. And then she slaps me hard on my chest.


“You had us so worried!” she shouts through her tears. I comfort her and calm her with the fact that I’m here now.

Elliot, looking nauseatingly tanned and healthy from his holiday, hugs me.

Christ. Et tu, brute? He slaps me hard on my back.

“Great to see you,” he says, loud and gruff. His voice full of emotion.

A lump forms in my throat.

This is my family.

They care. They fucking care.

They were all worried about me.

Family first.

I step back and look at Ana. Katherine stands behind her, stroking her hair. I can’t hear what she says. “I’m going to say hi to my girl now,” I tell my parents, before I lose it. My mother gives me a teary smile, and she and Carrick step aside. I walk toward Ana and she uncurls herself from her seat on the sofa. She’s a little unsteady when she stands. I think she’s making sure that I’m real. She’s still crying, but suddenly she bolts toward me and into my arms.

Tags: E.L. James Fifty Shades Billionaire Romance
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