"Do you think he might be sinking into a depressive state?" I asked Elliot, worried by what he'd been telling me about Christian.
"Well I couldn't say for sure, Mom. You know Christian, he never really opens up does he? All I know is that when we went hiking today, he wouldn't talk about himself at all. I tried to get him to come out for a drink afterwards to unwind, but as usual he said he was too busy. He just seems… preoccupied somehow. "
"Maybe I should call him…" I pondered.
"He'll tell you he's fine, Mom. It's only when you actually see him, you know?"
"Hmm, yes, I know what you mean. I haven't seen him for nearly two weeks now… maybe I should drop by unannounced, so he can't fob me off."
"Well, that might not be such a bad idea. Then you can assess him properly. He won't bite your head off the way he does mine either. I do happen to know that he'll be in his apartment tomorrow morning."
"Maybe I could drop by Escala then, and insist on taking him out to lunch."
"That would be great, Mom. I'd feel a lot happier if I knew you'd checked up on him. But I would go over early, just to make sure you catch him."
"Yes, that's what I'll do then. And thanks Elliot, for being such a caring and concerned brother to Christian, especially as I know he doesn't always make it easy for you."
So the following morning I headed off to my younger son's luxurious penthouse apartment. There was no doubt whatsoever that Christian was extremely successful and hugely wealthy now. But was he happy? Would he ever be able to find any kind of personal contentment and act more like the twenty seven year old young man he was, rather than some cold, middle-aged, business tycoon?
Given his horrendously abusive early start in life, it was no wonder that Christian was such a complex and difficult young man. I'll never forget the day he was brought into the hospital, where I was the receiving doctor on duty at the Child Protection Center at Michigan's Children's Hospital.
He was barely alive, he was so dehydrated and emaciated. The police believed that he'd been left alone, shut up in a slum apartment with the body of his dead mother for several days after she died, with nothing to eat or drink. She was a drug addict, who'd turned to prostitution to fund her crack cocaine addiction. Her young son had clearly been neglected and abused for most, if not all, of the four short years of his life. Her evil pimp had no doubt found having a young child around not conducive to securing clientele for his prostitute mother, and had taken his fury out on the poor child by beating and tormenting him.
It made me sick to my stomach to think of what this little boy had gone through. Even in his terribly neglected state, he was such a beautiful child. He had a mop of unruly dark copper hair, piercing sad gray eyes, with a face that had the most exquisite bone structure. I think his birth mother could have made a fortune if she'd only had the wherewithal to have gotten him to a model agency, instead of spending her time craving the next fix to get back into a drug-induced state of ecstasy.
Of course Christian should have been taken into care years before, but he was one of those unfortunate kids that had slipped through the net, who’d somehow never shown up on the authority’s radar.
I guess his birth mother must have loved him in her own way, because she’d chosen to keep him rather than give him up for adoption, when there was no shortage of couples desperate to adopt a baby. I tried to give her the benefit of doubt and assume that she had at least tried to look after him, but that she just wasn't capable.
But it was hard, and I could barely contain my fury as I tried to examine this beautiful little boy.
He was filthy dirty, his clothes little more than rags. He clung tightly to his precious, soft comforter blanket, the only thing that seemed to bring him any solace. The nurse tried to take it away from him because it was so filthy, but I ordered her to let him keep it, as it was all he had in the world that he treasured. I determined to procure him a new blanket just as soon as it could be arranged, then carefully launder and de-louse the original one and return it to him.
I could see that he had what were clearly cigarette burns over his chest and back, as well as numerous cuts, bruises and other injuries, evidence of the brutal beatings that he'd obviously endured over a long period of time. He couldn't bear to be touched by anyone, and he was mute. He never spoke a word or made a sound other than to scream if he was touched or handled in any way, although it was clear that he understood what was being said to him.
I went home in floods of tears that night, very reluctant to leave this poor little boy alone in the hospital, but having no choice. I'd already made up my mind that come what may, we were going to adopt him, and I begged Carrick to support me in my mission. Luckily my husband is a wonderful man, and once I'd filled him in with all the horrendous facts, he was just as keen as I was to adopt Christian.
I was unable to have biological children of my own, and we had already adopted one child, our son Elliot. He was a sweet natured boy, and I thought he'd be able to cope with us adopting a brother for him.
And so we took Christian into our family, although it took a frustratingly long time for due process to be followed.
Despite the fact that we were already approved as adoptive parents, Christian had to be placed with foster parents while all the necessary checks were made, to ensure that he didn't have any living relatives who would have had the right to adopt him if they so wished.
But no one was unearthed, no one came forward, so we were eventually given the green light to adopt Christian, to take him into our family and give him our name of Trevelyan-Grey.
While going through the registration process, we could also have chosen a new given name for him, but we chose not to. Christian wasn’t a baby, he was four years old, so he was used to his name, and as he’d already had so many changes to cope with, we felt it wouldn’t be fair to cause him further confusion, even though his name hardly seemed appropriate given his ungodly start in life.
Things were not easy, and it was a difficult time.
It soon became clear that Christian was an exceptionally bright, intelligent boy, yet he still didn't talk. Instead, he would let us know what he wanted by nodding or shaking his head, or pointing to what he wanted.
He also suffered the most dreadful nightmares that had him waking up drenched in sweat, screaming blood curdling screams. He still couldn't bear to be touched, or held, or cuddled in any way, but I used to lie down next to him on the bed to try and calm him, gently whispering and singing to him and stroking his hair, until eventually he went back to sleep.
Finally we had a break through, when Christian was around six years old.
I like to play the piano, and would play songs to the boys, hoping it might encourage Christian to find his voice and join in. Elliot would join in for a while, but would quickly get bored and run off to play with something else. However, Christian would remain sitting next to me on the piano stool, studying my hands on the keys, quite clearly fascinated.
"Would you like me to teach you how to play for yourself?" I tentatively suggested. I was thrilled when, after thinking about this for a minute, he nodded his head and gave me a little smile.
So I did, and right from the start he loved it. After just a few sessions, it was obvious he had a natural talent by the way he picked it up so quickly, and when we found him a proper piano teacher, Miss Kathie said he was the most talented pupil she had ever taught.
And in time, Christian relaxed enough with us to start whispering a few words, which was a huge step forward. We were finally making progress, getting somewhere with our boy.
The next big event was that Mia came into our lives to complete our family.
She’d been abandoned by her teenage birth mother when she was just a tiny baby, so we managed to adopt her by the time she was six months old. We thought long and hard about whether it was the right thing for us to do, as we already had our two boys, one of whom had special needs.
But in the end, we decided we had enough love to go round, and so we went ahead and adopted her.
Christian was actually a very self-sufficient little boy, who looked after himself most of the time. He would eat anything that was put in front of him, and I encouraged him to help himself to any food he wanted if he was hungry, assuring him that he would never be scolded for doing so. On a healthy diet, he quickly filled out and grew to make up for lost time, and actually was quite tall for his age by the time he was six.
When we brought baby Mia home, Elliot was rather put out at having another demanding addition to our family, but Christian simply adored her from day one. His worried concern for his new baby sister got him talking more, as he hurried to fetch me if she was stirring in her crib, or if he thought she needed feeding or her diaper changed.
"Mommy, Mommy come now. Baby Mia needs you, Mommy," he would urge, as he'd tug on my sleeve insistently.
He would spend ages just watching her sleep, gently touching her cheek or stroking her dark silky baby hair. It was a revelation, and a turning point. This was the wonderful, kind, caring and loving little boy that had been hidden for so long behind his fear.
Christian made enough progress for him to be able to go to regular school, which at one time we’d feared wouldn’t be possible, but his deep seated issues meant he found it difficult.
He still couldn't bear to be touched in any way. He didn't mix, didn't socialize or make friends, and he had the most ferocious temper that could explode into uncontrollable rage at the slightest provocation. He was exceptionally bright, which meant that he found school boring, because everything was so easy and presented no challenge. We were initially reluctant for him to be accelerated into classes with older children as the school suggested, as we felt he needed to develop his personal skills first. However, in the end we acquiesced, realizing that the benefit of increased intellectual stimulation outweighed the other considerations, and that was how he ended up in a lot of classes with his older brother.
Elliot was protective of Christian, but also a little scared of him, because he had seen his violent temper in full vent. But Elliot's natural good nature and temperament meant that he always tried to look after his brother, and I was proud of him for that.
I'd explained to him when we first adopted Christian that he had been treated very unkindly before he'd come to us, so it was our job as his family to make up for that by giving him lots of extra love.
As the years passed, we became reasonably adept at keeping things on a pretty even keel most of the time. We tried our hardest to give our kids plenty of quality family time, and as we wanted them to have a broad based upbringing, we made sure we took them on trips to Europe, as well as vacationing at home.
Then we came to the teenage years, and when the hormones started kicking in, Christian became an absolute nightmare to handle. His violent temper frequently surfaced with a vengeance; he got into a lot of trouble and was expelled from two schools for fighting.
I suspected that Christian was drinking, and I even feared that he might turn to drugs, just as Ella, his birth mother, had. From what little we’d been able to discover about her, it seemed that Ella had been an extremely clever girl, having won a mathematics scholarship to get into college, but then she’d gotten in with the wrong crowd, one that dabbled in drugs, which was how she'd become addicted to crack cocaine. This had led to her dropping out of college and eventually ending up as a prostitute to fund her addiction.
Ella had been an only child, and after her parents had been killed in a car crash, she’d been left with no one to turn to or help her, so she’d spiraled out of control into the depths of depravity, dragging her young son down with her as she sunk further and further into her self-inflicted hell.
And somehow at that time, I could see history repeating itself, as Christian seemed set on a similar path of self-destruction. Carrick and I insisted that Christian had counseling, but it didn't seem to help.
It was a very worrying time, and I considered myself lucky to have the support of my friend Elena, who provided a shoulder for me to cry on, as I unburdened myself to her with my worries about my son.
And then when Christian was fifteen, coming up to sixteen, he suddenly seemed to calm down. Maybe his hormones leveled out, maybe the counselor at the time finally managed to reach out to him. Whatever it was, he settled down, got on with his studies and eventually got into Harvard.
Christian hated Harvard.
It wasn't so much the studying, as he found the academic side, especially anything related to economics and business studies incredibly easy, I just think it was the whole lifestyle and socializing aspect that he despised.
We tried to talk him out of dropping out and setting up his own company when he had just a year left to complete, but he'd made up his mind and wouldn’t listen to reason.
Carrick was furious, and I'm not sure he's ever really forgiven him, despite how successful his change of direction turned out to be. Christian might have risen to be one of the wealthiest young men in America, but it still rankled with his father that despite being so gifted, his son was now classified as a drop out, all because he didn't have the mettle to stick it out at Harvard when he was this close to graduating.
But so impatient was Christian to get on with making his first million, that he launched himself into the business world rather than wasting time by finishing college. No question, patience has never been one of our son’s strongest attributes.
No doubt he would argue that his subsequent success justified his course of action, but although I was very proud of my son for his incredible business success, I was worried for his personal happiness.
Christian had been a very beautiful child, and he'd grown into a very beautiful and handsome young man. He literally had women swooning at his feet, and yet he showed no interest whatsoever in any of them. He could be absolutely charming if he chose to be, but that was as far as it went.
Christian had never had a girlfriend, he'd never brought a girl home, which just didn't seem natural to me. His brother Elliot, on the other hand, who had also grown into a very handsome and charming young man, clearly took great pleasure in female company, with a new girlfriend practically every week. He clearly had no problems whatsoever in taking care of his natural inclinations and needs, which as long as he acted responsibly, and took all the necessary sensible precautions, I didn't really have a problem with.
I'd come to the conclusion that Christian just wasn’t interested in women, and that he was most likely gay, and as I'd never seen him with a gay partner, I could only assume he was celibate.
Lord alone knew what he’d seen as a small child, when his prostitute mother had entertained her ‘clients’, and maybe this went some way to explaining why he was repressed and celibate. I supposed I should at least be grateful that he hadn't turned out to be one of those disturbed young men that have unusual and depraved tastes.
So as I made my way up in the elevator to Christian's apartment, I worried that his damaged childhood was still affecting him, now that Elliot had told me of his concerns that he was becoming reclusive and withdrawn. I couldn't stand the thought of him brooding alone, and potentially having negative thoughts that could set him on a path to self-destruction. Having surpassed his goal of becoming super rich, what new challenges could he find? He had every material comfort that he could possibly want, but I knew that wasn't enough for anyone to be truly happy.
Carrick and I have been blessed in our very happy marriage, and it was my dearest wish for Christian that would find himself a life partner - in a gay relationship if that’s what made him happy - to share everything he had with. All his vast wealth seemed so pointless otherwise, if all he did was shut himself away in his ivory tower in miserable solitude.
When I reached his apartment and Taylor told me that Christian was still in bed, my worst fears were realized. Knowing how hard he still found it to sleep, and that he never slept in late, the only reason I could possibly imagine for him being in bed at this time of day was that he was in some way ill.
I insisted to Taylor that I had to see him, and determinedly made my way towards his bedroom.
I don’t own any of the Fifty Shades Trilogy or the characters therein. They belong to E L James. I’m just borrowing them for fun and not for profit. Please refer to the Legal’s page for further details. This work is not to be copied or reproduced in any way without permission.