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You stand before the mirror in the bathroom of your suite. The towels aren’t as soft as you’re used to, the soap and shampoo not as luxurious. Wrapping your towel tighter around your body, you startle at the sight of your blurry reflection in the steam-covered mirror. For a moment, you think it’s someone else.

It’s going to take time to get use to the blond hair, but it’s necessary. It’s one of the final touches in a plan that’s taken you twenty years to pull off successfully. Twenty long, draining years. There have been moments of happiness, but always at the price of your self-worth, your autonomy.

When the children were young, you knew you couldn’t leave him. You feared his temper and his manipulation; Christian Grey would stop at nothing to control you, and you knew he would use your children against you. Now, those children have grown, and are more Grey than Steele. Teddy’s girlfriend showed up for dinner with a black eye she got from an alleged skiing accident. Phoebe has expressed her admiration for you, that you found a rich husband. She sees no need to finish college and pursue her own career when her father has promised her a hefty allowance to live off of until she finds her own wealthy husband that he approves of.

You plug the sink and let the water run, filling it just enough that you can submerge your cellphone. You can’t take it with you; he knows how to track it. You’ve tried this once before, only to be brought back by the security team that shadows you for your “safety.” Shaking them was tough, but they’ll never find you here, in the Holiday Inn Express that would never be glamorous enough for the wife of Christian Grey. They wouldn’t even bother to look here.

You take the scissors and snip away. Your hair, worn in the same style as when you were twenty-two, falls to the floor at your feet. Christian would never allow it to be cut, preferring that you resemble his dead mother, a woman you now regret calling a crack whore. Now that you’re older, you understand more of the world and how unfairly it treats women. The man you pledged your love and devotion to had certainly been unfair to his share of women.

You should have known, you tell yourself, staring into the hollow eyes of your reflection. Your life has been filled with should-haves. Should have known he wasn’t stable when he tracked your phone the first time, to come to your rescue at the bar shortly after you met. Should have known there was something wrong with a man who would buy you expensive gifts–antique books, a car, a new wardrobe–to create an obligation to him. Should have known that if he followed you across the country when you asked for space, he thought of you as a possession, not a person.

But you know it isn’t your fault. You’ve lived your entire life in a culture that tells you your worth lies in whether a man, a successful, handsome man, finds you sexually appealing. You confused abuse for romance; keeping you prisoner with his security teams and concerns for your safety, isolating you from your family and friends, that hurt worse than any “kinky fuckery” had. And the drama, oh the drama. It had been exciting at first, but twenty years of helicopter mishaps, kidnappings, stalkers, and explosive fights have taken their toll.

You take a deep breath and examine your choppy new haircut from all angles before leaving the bathroom to dress in the ragged jeans and oversized flannel shirt you bought at a charity shop. You also have a trucker hat, and you pull it down low. You check your watch. Kate will be waiting for you at the diner around the corner in just a few minutes. 

Kate. You never did return your friend’s plum dress. It’s too late to buy her a new one now. You have ten-thousand dollars in the gym bag you packed with only a few items. From billionaire’s wife to pauper in a matter of hours. But you couldn’t take anything that would arouse suspicion too soon. You need a head start if you’re going to make it into Canada.

You check the room one last time, to make sure nothing will point the police in your direction once Christian reports you missing. You know that your name will be all over the news and tabloid magazines for a long time to come. Keeping a low profile will be difficult, but it will all be worth it.

In a few hours, you be free from the nightmare that you have been living as Anastasia Rose Steele-Grey.

50 Shades of Grey and its sequels depict an emotionally abusive relationship. You are not reading a romance, you are reading a horror story. For further information, please visit

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