Fifty Shades Freed – Chapter 17

“Mr. Rodriguez, what’s happened?” My voice is hoarse and thick with unshed tears. Ray. Sweet Ray. My dad.

“He’s been in a car accident.”

“Okay, I’ll come . . . I’ll come now.” Adrenaline has flooded my bloodstream, leaving panic in its wake. I’m finding it difficult to breathe.

“They’ve transferred him to Portland.”

Portland? What the hell is he doing in Portland?

“They airlifted him, Ana. I’m heading there now. OHSU. Oh, Ana, I didn’t see the car. I just didn’t see it . . .” His voice cracks.

Mr. Rodriguez—no!

“I’ll see you there.” Mr. Rodriguez chokes and the line goes dead.

A dark dread seizes me by the throat, overwhelming me. Ray. No. No. I take a deep steadying breath, pick up the phone and call Roach. He answers on the second ring.

“Ana?”

“Jerry. It’s my father.”

“Ana, what happened?”

I explain, barely pausing to breathe.

“Go. Of course, you must go. I hope your father’s okay.”

“Thank you. I’ll keep you informed.” Inadvertently I slam the phone down, but right now couldn’t care less.

“Hannah!” I call, aware of the anxiety in my voice. Moments later she pokes her head around the door to find me packing my purse and grabbing papers to stuff into my briefcase.

“Yes, Ana?” She frowns.

“My father has been in an accident. I have to go.”

“Oh dear—”

“Cancel all my appointments today. And Monday. You’ll have to finish prepping the e-book presentation—notes are in the shared file. Get Courtney to help if you have to.”

“Yes,” Hannah whispers. “I hope he’s okay. Don’t worry about anything here. We’ll muddle through.”

“I have my BlackBerry.”

The concern etched on her pinched, pale face is almost my undoing.

Daddy.

I grab my jacket, purse, and briefcase. “I’ll call you if I need anything.”

“Do, please. Good luck, Ana. Hope he’s okay.”

I give her a small tight smile, fighting to maintain my composure, and exit my office. I try hard not to run all the way to reception. Sawyer leaps to his feet when I arrive.

“Mrs. Grey?” he asks, confused by my sudden appearance.

“We’re going to Portland—now.”

“Okay, ma’am,” he says, frowning, but opens the door.

Moving is good.

“Mrs. Grey,” Sawyer asks as we race toward the parking lot. “Can I ask why we’re making this unscheduled trip?”

“It’s my dad. He’s been in an accident.”

“I see. Does Mr. Grey know?”

“I’ll call him from the car.”

Sawyer nods and opens the rear door to the Audi SUV, and I climb in. With shaking fingers, I reach for my BlackBerry, and I dial Christian’s cell.

“Mrs. Grey.” Andrea’s voice is crisp and businesslike.

“Is Christian there?” I breathe.

“Um . . . he’s somewhere in the building, ma’am. He’s left his BlackBerry charging with me.”

I groan silently with frustration.

“Can you tell him I called, and that I need to speak with him? It’s urgent.”

“I could try and track him down. He does have a habit of wandering off sometimes.”

“Just get him to call me, please,” I beg, fighting back tears.

“Certainly, Mrs. Grey.” She hesitates. “Is everything all right?”

“No,” I whisper, not trusting my voice. “Please, just get him to call me.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

I hang up. I cannot contain my anguish any longer. Pulling my knees up to my chest, I curl up on the rear seat, and tears ooze, unwelcome, down my cheeks.

“Where in Portland, Mrs. Grey?” Sawyer asks gently.

“OHSU,” I choke out. “The big hospital.”

Sawyer pulls out into the street and heads for the I-5, while I keen softly in the back of the car, muttering wordless prayers. Please let him be okay. Please let him be okay.

My phone rings, “Your Love Is King” startling me from my mantra.

“Christian,” I gasp.

Christ, Ana. What’s wrong?”

“It’s Ray—he’s been in an accident.”

“Shit!”

“Yes. I am on my way to Portland.”

“Portland? Please tell me Sawyer is with you.”

“Yes, he’s driving.”

“Where is Ray?”

“At OHSU.”

I hear a muffled voice in the background. “Yes, Ros,” Christian snaps angrily. “I know! Sorry, baby—I can be there in about three hours. I have business I need to finish here. I’ll fly down.”

Oh shit. Charlie Tango is back in commission and last time Christian flew her . . .

“I have a meeting with some guys over from Taiwan. I can’t blow them off.

It’s a deal we’ve been hammering out for months.”

Why do I know nothing about this?

“I’ll leave as soon as I can.”

“Okay,” I whisper. And I want to say that it’s okay, stay in Seattle, and sort out your business, but the truth is I want him with me.

“Oh, baby,” he whispers.

“I’ll be okay, Christian. Take your time. Don’t rush. I don’t want to worry about you, too. Fly safely.”

“I will.”

“Love you.”

“I love you, too, baby. I’ll be with you as soon as I can. Keep Luke close.”

“Yes, I will.”

“I’ll see you later.”

“Bye.” After hanging up, I hug my knees once more. I know nothing about Christian’s business. What the hell is he doing with the Taiwanese? I gaze out the window as we pass Boeing Field-King County Airport. He must fly safely. My stomach knots anew and nausea threatens. Ray and Christian. I don’t think my heart could take that. Leaning back, I start my mantra again: Please let him be okay. Please let him be okay.

“Mrs. Grey.” Sawyer’s voice rouses me. “We’re on the hospital grounds. I just have to find the ER.”

“I know where it is.” My mind flits back to my last visit to OHSU when, on my second day, I fell off a stepladder at Clayton’s, twisting my ankle. I recall Paul Clayton hovering over me and shudder at the memory.

Sawyer pulls up to the drop-off point and leaps out to open my door.

“I’ll go park, ma’am, and come find you. Leave your briefcase, I’ll bring it.”

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