Fifty Shades Freed – Chapter 23

There is only pain. My head, my chest . . . burning pain. My side, my arm. Pain.

Pain and hushed words in the gloom. Where am I? Though I try, I cannot open my eyes. The whispered words become clearer . . . a beacon in the darkness.

“Her ribs are bruised, Mr. Grey, and she has a hairline fracture to her skull, but her vital signs are stable and strong.”

“Why is she still unconscious?”

“Mrs. Grey has had a major contusion to her head. But her brain activity is normal, and she has no cerebral swelling. She’ll wake when she’s ready. Just give her some time.”

“And the baby?” The words are anguished, breathless.

“The baby’s fine, Mr. Grey.”

“Oh, thank God.” The words are a litany . . . a prayer. “Oh, thank God.”

Oh my. He’s worried about the baby . . . the baby? . . . Little Blip. Of course.

My Little Blip. I try in vain to move my hand to my belly. Nothing moves, nothing responds.

“And the baby? . . . Oh, thank God.”

Little Blip is safe.

“And the baby? . . . Oh, thank God.”

He cares about the baby.

“And the baby? . . . Oh, thank God.”

He wants the baby. Oh thank God. I relax, and unconsciousness claims me once more, stealing me away from the pain.

Everything is heavy and aching: limbs, head, eyelids, nothing will move. My eyes and mouth are resolutely shut, unwilling to open, leaving me blind and mute and aching. As I surface from the fog, consciousness hovers, a seductive siren just out of reach. Sounds become voices.

“I’m not leaving her.”

Christian! He’s here . . . I will myself to wake—his voice is strained, an agonized whisper.

“Christian, you should sleep.”

“No, Dad. I want to be here when she wakes up.”

“I’ll sit with her. It’s the least I can do after she saved my daughter.”

Mia!

“How’s Mia?”

“She’s groggy . . . scared and angry. It’ll be a few hours before the Rohypnol is completely out of her system.”

Christ.”

“I know. I’m feeling seven kinds of foolish for relenting on her security. You warned me, but Mia is so stubborn. If it wasn’t for Ana here . . .”

“We all thought Hyde was out of the picture. And my crazy, stupid wife—Why didn’t she tell me?” Christian’s voice is full of anguish.

“Christian, calm down. Ana’s a remarkable young woman. She was incredibly brave.”

“Brave and headstrong and stubborn and stupid.” His voice cracks.

“Hey,” Carrick murmurs, “don’t be so hard on her, or yourself, son . . . I’d better get back to your mom. It’s after three in the morning, Christian. You really should try to sleep.”

The fog closes in.

The fog lifts but I have no sense of time.

“If you don’t take her across your knee, I sure as hell will. What the hell was she thinking?”

“Trust me, Ray, I just might do that.”

Dad! He’s here. I fight the fog . . . fight . . . But I spiral down once more into oblivion. No . . .

“Detective, as you can see, my wife is no state to answer any of your questions.”

Christian is angry.

“She’s a headstrong young woman, Mr. Grey.”

“I wish she’d killed the fucker.”

“That would have meant more paperwork for me, Mr. Grey . . .”

“Miss Morgan is singing like the proverbial canary. Hyde’s a real twisted son of a bitch. He has a serious grudge against your father and you . . .”

The fog surrounds me once more, and I’m dragged down . . . down . No!

“What do you mean you weren’t talking?” It’s Grace. She sounds angry. I try to move my head, but I’m met with a resounding, listless silence from my body.

“What did you do?”

“Mom—”

“Christian! What did you do?”

“I was so angry.” It’s almost a sob . . . No.

“Hey . . .”

The world dips and blurs and I’m gone.

I hear soft garbled voices.

“You told me you’d cut all ties.” Grace is talking. Her voice is quiet, admonishing.

“I know.” Christian sounds resigned. “But seeing her finally put it all in perspective for me. You know . . . with the child. For the first time I felt . . . What we did . . . it was wrong.”

“What she did darling . . . Children will do that to you. Make you look at the world in a different light.”

“She finally got the message . . . and so did I . . . I hurt Ana,” he whispers.

“We always hurt the ones we love, darling. You’ll have to tell her you’re sorry. And mean it and give her time.”

“She said she was leaving me.”

No. No. No!

“Did you believe her?”

“At first, yes.”

“Darling, you always believe the worst of everyone, including yourself. You always have. Ana loves you very much, and it’s obvious you love her.”

“She was mad at me.”

“I’m sure she was. I’m pretty mad at you right now. I think you can only be truly mad at someone you really love.”

“I thought about it, and she’s shown me over and over how much she loves me . . . to the point of putting her own life in danger.”

“Yes, she has, darling.”

“Oh, Mom, why won’t she wake up?” His voice cracks. “I nearly lost her.”

Christian! There are muffled sobs. No . . .

Oh . . . the darkness closes in. No—

“It’s taken twenty-four years for you to let me hold you like this . . .”

“I know, Mom . . . I’m glad we talked.”

“Me too, darling. I’m always here. I can’t believe I’m going to be a grandmother.”

Grandma!

Sweet oblivion beckons.

Hmm. His stubble softly scrapes the back of my hand as he squeezes my fingers.

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