I have no idea how Christian had the energy to go to work this morning. After Teddy’s 6 a.m. feeding I collapsed back to bed. I have a fuzzy memory of Christian kissing me goodbye at some point. The next thing I knew Teddy was screaming over the monitor.
Now Teddy is fed, dressed in a blue and green striped outfit with feet, and in a bouncy seat in our bedroom, and I am sitting on an armchair pumping. One of many downsides to having all this staff is sometimes I am a prisoner in my bedroom if I want any privacy. I couldn’t sit topless in the kitchen or family room. Even if it was only Gail and I, I think she would be uncomfortable. Dodging the video monitors would be a challenge, too. Though there is no surveillance in each room proper, every passageway and transition has a camera. So if I move from the bedroom to the kitchen, I pass the hall camera, the top stair camera, the bottom stair camera, and the camera by the kitchen entrance. I point blank asked Christian if this was to keep others out or to keep me in…prevent me from escaping security again. He swears it was the security vendor’s recommendation, but in the back of my mind, I’m not so sure.
The whirring sound of the breast pump grabs my attention. I don’t know how to avoid having my beloved husband seeing this contraption, and once he does I know where his mind will go. I didn’t believe at first how an item designed to help feed an infant could resemble a playroom device as it simulates suction on one or both nipples at a time, with adjustable pressure and speed. At the top pressure and speed, it can create a painful sensation, but not intolerable. Once fifty finds out, I’m sure this will be in the drawer with the nipple clamps long after Teddy stops nursing.
Yes, we have a drawer. Well, more than one.
To any outsider, the master suite at the Grey palace looks serene. I took my inspiration from the meadow and selected a theme on greens. Pale green paint coats the walls with hand painted border of dark green ivy with white and lavender flowers. The bedding picks up on the ivy theme with the duvet covered in multiple shades of green ivy. The bed is made of walnut with ornate hand carving and commanding balusters about 8 inches in diameter at each side of the headboard. The footboard boasts matching, but shorter, thick balusters. The bed sits high and has four drawers underneath on each side, two drawers wide by two drawers high. We have matching walnut dressers for each of us. Mine is low, wide and has nine drawers. Christian’s is a highboy with eight drawers. In each of the four corners of the room hangs a wrought iron hook from which hanging plants bring the meadow inside to us. It drives Mrs. Taylor a little crazy with the plants shedding leaves all the time, but the hooks and plants were a design element on which I had to insist. On either side of the room are mated walk in closets, one for me and one for Christian. Mine has a pocket door, Christian’s is hinged. On one wall hangs a painting of a meadow with a large weeping willow tree. We found it at a local art gallery. On the other wall hangs a series of three paintings by Trouton – still lifes. Under the Trouton paintings is a side table about 42 inches high and almost three feet deep. Strewn across it are family photographs. There is one of Christian and Grace at the wedding; one of Kate and I from college; one of Ray and I from graduation; Elliot, Christian, and Carrick at a Mariners game; Mia, Kate, and I at the wedding; my mother and I when I was about seven. Christian has already added two of Teddy, one from the hospital, and one of Teddy and me the day we came home.
Everything in the room appears serene and warm, and that is the way I wanted it. I smirk and giggle to myself when I think of Christian’s face when I put forth my concepts for our bedroom – for just one moment I had surprised him. He sat with his mouth hanging open for at least ten seconds before regaining his composure. Subsequently, there was no stopping him. He worked with the contractors and personally found, commissioned, and oversaw the furniture maker. Yes, our room appears serene.
But not everything is what it appears. My inner goddess yawns and stretches from her nap.
The four plant hangers are each about four feet from the nearest wall. Three of the four plant hangers are exactly what they portend. The one in the corner one closest to my dresser, however, is actually anchored into a hidden beam behind the drywall. You could hang 500 pounds from it easily. A hundred and twenty pound woman, like myself, would pose no issues. Remove plant, hang shackles. Simple, really.
As for the bed, all four large balusters have a hidden compartment. First you use a very antique looking key to turn a latch secreted at the base of each post, then feel behind each one for the right place to push and it swings open on a hinge. Adjustable chains with leather cuffs at each corner, anchored to a weighty wood block. Viola!
Christian’s closet holds a special surprise. The closet door opens to the left. But folded inside his closet on the right is another door that swings almost a full 360 degrees out into the room. When it is in his closet it appears as a thick wall, but when swung out you see the wooden St. Andrews cross from the playroom at Escala hidden inside. Move the area rug slightly and the door and cross can be locked into place with a latch on the floor. Of course, without knowing where the lock is and having the key, one would never be able to open it.
The side table has no hidden secrets. But if we want, we can clear the photos away and use the surface in oh so many ways.
Which brings me to the drawers. The drawers under the bed all lock, too. All the toys from the playroom are in the drawers. And the key is on Christian’s key ring.
Yes, our bedroom appears serene.
Teddy is watching me from his bouncy seat. “Theodore Raymond Grey, you have kinky parents!” I hope he never finds out how kinky, but for now our secret is safe.
I finish pumping, get dressed in a casual jersey skirt and t-shirt, and gather up the pumping equipment, expressed milk, and Teddy. We head to the kitchen and I store the milk in the freezer. I’m up to two bottles, but I really should have three for our night out in case I decide to drink. I run to the family room and grab a circular baby pillow thingy, they call it a boppy, bring it back to the kitchen and situate Teddy in it on the floor. I turn my attention to washing out the breast pump parts when Mrs. Taylor joins us.
“I can do that, Mrs. Grey”
“Oh, don’t worry, I’ve got it.” It feels a little funny to have someone else clean up your breast pump, though Mrs. Taylor has cleaned some far more personal items.
“Please, let me, Mrs. Grey. You really should sterilize those.” I look over at her confused. Gail doesn’t have children, so how would she know that? “Mrs. Grey, you left the instructions on the counter the other day. I am fully briefed, so you may as well let me take over. It is my job.” Am I so readable that everyone knows what I am thinking? I acquiesce and let her take over.
As I sit on the floor by Teddy, Mrs. Taylor sets about boiling water to sterilize the parts. “Mrs. Grey, if you would be more comfortable using the breast pump in the kitchen, I can arrange for them to turn off certain security cameras for a time period.” Yes, I am that readable.
“I’m fine, Mrs. Taylor. I will probably only pump once a day to before going back to work, then mostly at work.”
“Well, just let me know if you change your mind. The security staff definitely don’t want to intrude on your privacy.” I then catch a momentary uncharacteristic smirk from Mrs. Taylor.
“What are you thinking, Gail?”
She hesitates for a second, “I don’t want to speak out of turn, so forgive me. I just had an odd thought that all you would ever have to do is walk through the house undressed and the security team would instantly shut down every camera for fear of facing Mr. Grey.” I break into giggles at the thought of the security team scrambling like beheaded chickens and averting their eyes lest the sight (or the aftermath) blind them.
“I’ll keep that in mind should I ever need to divert their attention” I say with a chortle.
“Just don’t tell Mr. Grey it was my idea, Mrs. Grey.”
The rest of the morning goes by in a blur. Teddy and I stroll around the property, well I stroll and Teddy watches the clouds from the pram. Of course, Harry follows about 15 feet behind. After my lunch, and Teddy’s ‘lunch’, Harry finds Teddy and me in the family room. “Mrs. Grey, there is a Ms. Cecilia Stanton here to see you.”
“Harry, I wasn’t expecting anyone.”
“Mrs. Grey, she is on the visitors schedule for today.” I didn’t put anyone on the list, so Christian must have.
“Harry, ask her to wait in the living room. I’ll be there shortly.” Harry nods and goes to attend to my mystery guest. I am guessing she is one of those charity ladies and Christian has volunteered me for some committee. Argh. Every time we are at an event or even eating at the club, some woman or another approaches me and asks me to be on some committee or other to help cure a disease or assist the disadvantaged. It was easy to beg off when I was pregnant, and it isn’t that the causes aren’t worthwhile. But I DO have a job that I want to keep, I have a newborn, and they really don’t want me on their committees anyway…they want Christian’s checkbook. I mean our checkbook. Besides, I decided that if I do get settled enough to give time to a charity, it will be Coping Together. It just might be a while before I have the life, work, baby, marriage, enormous house balance together enough to do more than show up at the annual shindig.
Before I go meet with Ms. Stanton, I see if I can get more information.
To: Christian Grey
From: Anastasia Grey
Date: May 30, 2012 2:03 pm
Subject: Mysterious visitors
There is a Ms. Stanton here to see me. She is apparently on the sanctioned visitors list.
While I’m waiting impatiently for a response, I notice I have a text. It’s from Michelle wanting to set up a play date! Next Tuesday! I don’t know why, but I do a little happy dance. I have a new friend! A mommy friend! Before I forget, I quickly re-record my voicemail.
Instead of “Hello, you have reached the mobile voicemail of Anastasia Grey of Grey Publishing. If you need immediate assistance, please contact my assistant Hannah at 516-742-4431. Otherwise, leave a message and I’ll return your call as soon as possible.” It now says “Hi, you’ve reached Ana’s cell phone. Please leave a message.” Short and to the point.
Then I send Michelle a quick text.
Tuesday would be great – where do you want to meet?
With my desire to start this friendship as just ‘Ana’, I do not want to invite her and Stephan to our house…maybe we can find a public park at which to meet. Then the security staff could perhaps blend in with the other parkgoers. I may need to ask them to dress casually. And I will have to vet the plan with the self appointed chief safety monitor, of course.
As if on cue, my blackberry beeps.
To: Anastasia Grey
From: Christian Grey
Date: May 29, 2012 2:09 pm
Subject: Detective Grey
You will have to investigate to know why she is there. Or you could just ask her. But for goodness sake, don’t keep her waiting much longer. Mrs. Taylor already brought her some iced tea.
Mysterious CEO, Grey Enterprise Holdings
Mysterious CEO, Grey Enterprise Holdings
How does he do that? He had Mrs. Taylor attend to our guest from his office before I had a chance to do anything, and I’m here! I scoop Teddy up and head into the living room to greet our guest.
“Good afternoon, Ms. Stanton. I’m Anastasia Grey.” I shuffle Teddy to my left arm so I can shake hands, while Ms. Stanton rises from the couch to greet me.
“Mrs. Grey, a pleasure to meet you. We should get started. Would you like to do this here or in another room?” Do what?
“You have me at a disadvantage, Ms. Stanton. My husband did not inform me you were coming or the purpose of your visit. Would you mind enlightening me?”
“He didn’t tell you?” I shake my head. “Mrs. Grey, I am a custom brassiere maker. Your husband gave me the impression you wanted more stylish foundation garments that were also suited for motherhood. Perhaps we should sit down and I’ll explain what I do and how this works.” I gestured to the sofa and we both…well, we three with Teddy, sat. “Mrs. Grey, a manufactured brassiere is made from about 25 to 58 parts, depending on the quality. Some of the higher end ones can be upwards of 72 parts. However, they are still manufactured and not entirely designed with your specific shape and needs in mind. A truly properly fitted brassiere, like what I will make, has 104 separate components each separately measured to support your body in comfort.” So, she makes bras? Christian sent me a bra maker?
Ms. Stanton continues with her spiel. “Now most brassiere manufacturers would have you believe that a truly supportive brassiere cannot also be decorative and attractive. But that is not true. What they really mean is that to make a brassiere both effective at its job and appropriately ornamental costs more to manufacture and would put the item at a price point above what most women would pay – at least that is what they think. I don’t mind telling you, I disagree vehemently. Nevertheless, their oversight creates a market for custom foundation garment makers, like myself.”
“Mr. Grey expressed that you would like brassieres to coordinate with undergarments you already own and that would facilitate nursing and milk expression. There are actually two variations I am considering for you. One is for nursing only, and the other supports nursing and pumping.” I know my face reflects complete confusion. “Both styles have appropriate openings, but the pumping bra has a second layer that will hold the breast pump in place.” OK, I have got to see that! “Mrs. Grey, where would you like to be measured?”
I take a moment to absorb this, and though I’m laughing on the inside, I am doing my level best to keep a straight face. After a year with Fifty, I really should have learned to keep my musings to myself. He’s a bit like a genie, make a wish and it comes true. I have a fancy sports car in the garage as evidence to Christian’s madcap purchasing impulses. And a closet of moderate heels from an offhand comment I made over dinner three months ago.
For the I-don’t-know-how-many day in a row I got home from work utterly exhausted. The baby inside me seemed to siphon off all my energy. I decide to change into sweats for dinner, primarily as an excuse to get out of my lofty shoes. Louboutin makes gorgeous shoes, but they are not meant for pregnant women. I had just whined to Christian about it last night as he rubbed my feet under the table. “There really ought to be a law. Gestating women shall have a maximum heel height of two inches to minimize ankle swelling, reduce calf pain, and promote balance.” I was giggling.
“You feel off balance?”
“Christian, I used to lose my balance when I had a clue as to the location of my center of gravity. With not-so-little blip here, I really ought to have a safety net surrounding me.” He laughed with me, and I really was joking.
I walk in my closet to hang my dress up, and I find six new Ferragamo shoe boxes. I open the first one, beautiful black and cream patent pumps. Two inches high. The next held navy peep toe. Two inches high. Chocolate brown sling backs. Two inches high. Tan, solid black, and, ooh, red. All no more than two inches high. I sigh. I married the sweetest man in the world.
My mind snaps back to the present, and Ms. Stanton is staring at me expectantly. “I think it would be best to go to the bedroom for the measurements. Follow me, please.” I rise, still holding Teddy, and lead Ms. Stanton to the grand staircase that divides the formal spaces, like the living room and dining room, and the casual spaces, including the kitchen, family room, and library. Once in the bedroom, I buckle Teddy in his bouncy seat and look to Ms. Stanton for instructions.
“Mrs. Grey, I’ll need you to remove your top. I’ll measure you with the brassiere you have on, and without it. Can you tell me when you last nursed or pumped? I need to know where you are in the feeding cycle so I can approximate the range of you breast size.”
I remove my t-shirt and as Ms. Stanton and her tape measure thoroughly examine me, I am the recipient of what she calls the abbreviated history of foundation garments. I don’t wish to be rude, so I listen, while thinking to myself if this is the abbreviated version I could not begin to imagine the unabridged one. At least she is passionate about her work. In my head I wonder if there is a world record for saying the word ‘brassiere’ in an afternoon. If there is, Ms. Stanton holds it.
After replacing my t-shirt, I show Ms. Stanton a selection of my underwear and we select six colors. She promises the first bra in about a week, the remainder in two. I walk her to the bottom of the stairwell, where Ryan waits to show her out. I am having my bras custom made. I shopped at Old Navy a year ago. I close my eyes take a deep cleansing breath. Open eyes. Yup, it is still here. The expansive house, gorgeous diamond ring, wedding band. This is my life. As if on cue, Teddy starts to cry. Yup, not a dream. I bolt up the stairs to Teddy figuring on feeding him and napping before dinner. While I nurse, I send my generous husband a quick note.
To: Christian Grey
From: Anastasia Grey
Date: May 30, 2012 3:16 pm
Subject: Supportive husbands/supported wives
For your information, I have been measured and will be lifted and separated when my new garment arrives.
I do not recall rubbing a lamp, but it seems I have acquired a genie who makes my wishes, however petulant, come true.
“Oh Teddy, pretty soon you’ll have me leaking milk all over very, very expensive lace.” Hmm, I wonder how much these bras will cost.
To: Anastasia Grey
From: Christian Grey
Date: May 29, 2012 3:21 pm
It may not have been a lamp, per se, but I do recall several instances of you rubbing something...you must have rubbed in just the right way.
CEO, Genie and wish granter at large, Grey Enterprise Holdings
CEO, Genie and wish granter at large, Grey Enterprise Holdings
Oh, I’ve rubbed something alright. I might just rub something tonight, if I can stay awake. The interrupted sleep from the night before is catching up to me, and Teddy is looking sleepy, too. Nap time for both of us! I replace Teddy in his bouncy seat, turn on the soothing bubble music the seat plays, then lay down in the bed.
I’m sleeping soundly having delicious dreams when I feel a stray hair tickling my cheek. I reach to swat away and something grabs my wrist, bringing me immediately out of my sleepy state.
“Wake up sleepy head. It is time for dinner, Mrs. Grey.” Christian is seated on the edge of the bed holding Teddy. He was using Teddy’s foot to wake me. “Why don’t you freshen up, then join us downstairs?”
I stretch and sit up. “OK. I’ll be down in 5.”