E L James Fifty Shades Freed The third book in the Fifty Shades Trilogy series, 2012 Acknowledgments [ артинка: pic_2.jpg] Thanks to: Niall, my rock; To Kathleen for just being a great sounding board, friend, confidante and a technical wiz; To Bee for endless moral support; To Taylor (also a technical wiz), Susi, Pam and Nora for showing a girl a good time. And for their advice and tact IТd really like to thank: Dr. Raina Sluder for help with all matters medical; Anne Forlines for the financial advice; Elizabeth de Vos for her kind counsel regarding the American adoption system. Thanks to Maddie Blandino for her exquisite, inspirational art. And to Pam and Gillian for Saturday morning coffee and hauling me back to real life. Also thanks to my editing team Andrea, Shay and the ever lovely and only occasionally frothing Janine, who tolerates my frothing with patience, fortitude and a great sense of humour. And lastly to Amanda and all at The WriterТs Coffee Shop Publishing House-‐ Thank you. [ артинка: pic_3.jpg] *** Prologue [ артинка: pic_4.jpg] Mommy! Mommy! Mommy is asleep on the floor. She has been asleep for a long time. I brush her hair because she likes that. She doesnТt wake up. I shake her. Mommy! My tummy hurts. It is hungry. He isnТt here. I am thirsty. In the kitchen I pull a chair to the sink, and I have a drink. The water splashes over my blue sweater. Mommy is still asleep. Mommy wake up! She lies still. She is cold. I fetch my blankie, and I cover Mommy, and I lie down on the sticky green rug beside her. Mommy is still asleep. I have two toy cars. They race by the floor where Mommy is sleeping. I think Mommy is sick. I search for something to eat. In the freezer I find peas. They are cold. I eat them slowly. They make my tummy hurt. I sleep beside Mommy. The peas are gone. In the freezer is something. It smells funny. I lick it and my tongue is stuck to it. I eat it slowly. It tastes nasty. I drink some water. I play with my cars, and I sleep beside Mommy. Mommy is so cold, and she wonТt wake up. The door crashes open. I cover Mommy with my blankie. HeТs here.Fuck. What the fuck happened here? Oh, the crazy fucked up bitch. Shit. Fuck.Get out of my way, you little shit. He kicks me, and I hit my head on the floor. My head hurts. He calls somebody and he goes. He locks the door. I lay down beside Mommy. My head hurts. The lady policeman is here. No. No. No. DonТt touch me. DonТt touch me. DonТt touch me. I stay by Mommy. No. Stay away from me. The lady policeman has my blankie, and she grabs me. I scream. Mommy! Mommy! I want my Mommy. The words are gone. I canТt say the words. Mommy canТt hear me. I have no words. УChristian! Christian!Ф Her voice is urgent, pulling him from the depths of his nightmare, the depths of his despair. УIТm here. IТm here.Ф He wakes and sheТs leaning over him, grasping his shoulders, shaking him, her face etched with anguish, blue eyes wide and brimming with tears. УAna,Ф His voice is a breathless whisper, the taste of fear tarnishing his mouth. УYouТre here.Ф
УOf course IТm here.Ф УI had a dreamЕФ УI know. IТm here, IТm here.Ф УAna.Ф He breathes her name, and itТs a talisman against the black choking panic coursing through his body. УHush, IТm here.Ф She curls around him, her limbs cocooning him, her warmth leeching into his body, forcing back the shadows, forcing back the fear. She is sunshine, she is lightЕ she is his. УPlease letТs not fight.Ф His voice is hoarse as he wraps his arms around her. УOkay.Ф УThe vows. No obeying. I can do that. WeТll find a way.Ф The words rush out of his mouth in a tumble of emotion and confusion and anxiety. УYes. We will. WeТll always find a way,Ф she whispers and her lips are on his, silencing him, bringing him back to the now. 1 [ артинка: pic_5.jpg] I stare up through gaps in the sea grass parasol at the bluest of skies, summer blue, Mediterranean blue with a contented sigh. Christian is beside me, stretched out on a sun lounger. My husband-‐my hot, beautiful husband, shirtless, and in cut-‐off jeans-‐is reading a book predicting the collapse of the Western banking system. By all accounts, itТs a page-‐ turner. I havenТt seen him sit this still, ever. He looks more like a student than the hotshot CEO of one the top privately owned companies in the United States. On the final leg of our honeymoon, we laze in the afternoon sun on the beach of the aptly named Beach Plaza Monte Carlo in Monaco, although weТre not actually staying in this hotel. I open my eyes and gaze out at theFair Lady anchored in the harbor. We are staying, of course, on board a luxury motor yacht. Built in 1928, she floats majestically on the water, queen of the all the yachts in the harbor. She looks like a childТs wind-‐up toy. Christian loves her-‐I suspect heТs tempted to buy her. Honestly, boys and their toys. Sitting back, I listen to the Christian Grey mix on my new iPod and doze in the late afternoon sun, idly remembering his proposal. Oh his dreamy proposal in the boathouseЕ I can almost smell the scent of the meadow flowersЕ [ артинка: pic_6.jpg] УCan we marry tomorrow?Ф Christian murmurs softly in my ear. I am sprawled on his chest in the flowery bower in the boathouse, sated from our passionate lovemaking. УHmm.Ф УIs that a yes?Ф I hear his hopeful surprise. УHmm.Ф УA no?Ф УHmm.Ф I sense his grin.УMiss Steele, are you incoherent?Ф I grin.УHmm.Ф He laughs and hugs me tightly, kissing the top of my head.УVegas, tomorrow, it is then.Ф Sleepily I raise my head.УI donТt think my parents would be very happy with that.Ф He thrums his fingertips up and down my naked back, caressing me gently. УWhat do you want, Anastasia? Vegas? A big wedding with all the trimmings? Tell me.Ф УNot bigЕ Just friends and family.Ф I gaze up at him moved by the quiet entreaty in his glowing gray eyes.What does he want?
УOkay.Ф He nods. УWhere?Ф I shrug. УCould we do it here?Ф he asks tentatively. УYour folksТ place? Would they mind?Ф He snorts.УMy mother would be in seventh heaven.Ф УOkay, here. IТm sure my mom and dad would prefer that.Ф He strokes my hair. Could I be any happier? УSo, weТve established where, now the when.Ф УSurely you should ask your mother.Ф УHmm.Ф ChristianТs smile dips. УShe can have a month, thatТs it. I want you too much to wait any longer.Ф УChristian, you have me. YouТve had me for a while. But okay-‐a month it is.Ф I kiss his chest, a soft chaste kiss, and smile up at him. [ артинка: pic_7.jpg] УYouТll burn.Ф Christian whispers in my ear, startling me from my doze. УOnly for you.Ф I give him my sweetest smile. The late afternoon sun has shifted, and I am under its full glare. He smirks and in one swift move pulls my sun lounger into the shade of the parasol. УOut of the Mediterranean sun, Mrs. Grey.Ф УThank you for your altruism, Mr. Grey.Ф УMy pleasure, Mrs. Grey, and IТm not being altruistic at all. If you burn, I wonТt be able to touch you.Ф He raises an eyebrow, his eyes shining with mirth, and my heart expands. УBut I suspect you know that and youТre laughing at me.Ф УWould I?Ф I gasp, feigning innocence. УYes you would and you do. Often. ItТs one of the many things I love about you. Ф He leans down and kisses me, playfully biting my lower lip. УI was hoping youТd rub me down with more sunscreen.Ф I pout against his lips. УMrs. Grey, itТs a dirty jobЕ but thatТs an offer I canТt refuse. Sit up,Ф he orders, his voice husky. I do as IТm told, and with slow meticulous strokes from strong and supple fingers, he coats me in sunscreen. УYou really are very lovely. IТm a lucky man,Ф he murmurs as his fingers skim over my breasts, spreading the lotion. УYes, you are, Mr. Grey.Ф I gaze coyly up at him through my lashes. УModesty becomes you, Mrs. Grey. Turn over. I want to do your back.Ф Smiling, I roll over, and he undoes the back strap of my hideously expensive bikini. УHow would you feel if I went topless, like the other women on the beach?Ф I ask. УDispleased,Ф he says without hesitation. УIТm not very happy about you wearing so little right now.Ф He leans down and whispers in my ear. УDonТt push your luck.Ф УIs that a challenge, Mr. Grey?Ф УNo. ItТs a statement of fact, Mrs. Grey.Ф I sigh and shake my head.Oh, ChristianЕ my possessive, jealous, control freak Christian. When heТs finished, he slaps my behind. УYouТll do, wench.Ф His ever-‐present, ever-‐active BlackBerry buzzes. I frown and he smirks.
УMy eyes only, Mrs. Grey.Ф He raises his eyebrow in playful warning, slaps my backside once more, and sits back down on his lounger to take the call. My inner goddess purrs. Maybe tonight we could do some kind of floor show for his eyes only. She smirks knowingly, arching a brow. I grin at the thought and drift back into my afternoon siesta. УMamТselle?Un Perrier pour moi, un Coca-‐Cola light pour ma femme, sТil vous plait. Et quelque chose a mangerЕlaissez-‐moi voir la carte.Ф HmmЕ Christian speaking fluent French wakes me. My eyelashes flutter in the glare of the sun, and I find Christian watching me while a liveried young woman walks away, her tray held aloft, her high blond ponytail swinging provocatively. УThirsty?Ф he asks. УYes,Ф I mutter sleepily. УI could watch you all day. Tired?Ф I flush.УI didnТt get much sleep last night.Ф УMe neither.Ф He grins, puts down his BlackBerry, and stands. His shorts fall a little and hangЕ in that way so his swim trunks are visible beneath. Christian takes his shorts off, stepping out of his flip-‐flops. I lose my train of thought. УCome for a swim with me.Ф He holds out his hand while I look up at him, dazed. УSwim?Ф he says again, cocking his head to one side, an amused expression on his face. When I donТt respond, he shakes his head slowly. УI think you need a wake-‐up call.Ф Suddenly he pounces and lifts me into his arms while I shriek, more from surprise than alarm. УChristian! Put me down!Ф I squeal. He chuckles.УOnly in the sea, baby.Ф Several sunbathers on the beach watch with that bemused disinterest so typical, I now realize, of the French as Christian carries me to the sea, laughing, and wades in. I clasp my arms around his neck.УYou wouldnТt.Ф I say breathlessly, trying to stifle my giggling. He grins.УOh, Ana, baby, have you learned nothing in the short time weТve known each other?Ф He kisses me, and I seize my opportunity, running my fingers through his hair, grasping two handfuls and kissing him back while invading his mouth with my tongue. He inhales sharply and leans back, eyes smoky but wary. УI know your game,Ф he whispers and slowly sinks into the cool, clear water, taking me with him as his lips find mine once more. The chill of the Mediterranean is soon forgotten as I wrap myself around my husband. УI thought you wanted to swim,Ф I murmur against his mouth. УYouТre very distracting.Ф Christian grazes his teeth along my lower lip. УBut IТm not sure I want the good people of Monte Carlo to see my wife in the throes of passion.Ф I run my teeth along his jaw, his stubble tickly against my tongue, not caring a dime for the good people of Monte Carlo. УAna,Ф he groans. He wraps my ponytail around his wrist and tugs gently, tilting my head back, exposing my throat. He trails kisses from my ear down my neck. УShall I take you in the sea?Ф he breathes. УYes,Ф I whisper. Christian pulls away and gazes down at me, his eyes warm, wanting, and amused. УMrs. Grey, youТre insatiable and so brazen. What sort of monster have I created?Ф УA monster fit for you. Would you have me any other way?Ф
УIТll take you any way I can get you, you know that. But not right now. Not with an audience.Ф He jerks his head toward the shore. What? Sure enough, several sunbathers on the beach have abandoned their indifference and now regard us with interest. Suddenly, Christian grabs me around my waist and launches me into the air, letting me fall into the water and sink beneath the waves to the soft sand below. I surface, coughing, spluttering and giggling. УChristian!Ф I scold, glaring at him. I thought we were going to make love in the seaЕ and chalk up yet another first. He bites his lower lip to stifle his amusement. I splash him, and he splashes me right back. УWe have all night,Ф he says, grinning like a fool. УLaters, baby.Ф He dives beneath the sea and surfaces three feet away from me, then in a fluid, graceful crawl, swims away from the shore, away from me. Gah! Playful, tantalizing Fifty! I shield my eyes from the sun as I watch him go. He Тs such a teaseЕ what can I do to get him back? While I swim back to the shore, I contemplate my options. At the sun loungers our drinks have arrived, and I take a quick sip of Coke. Christian is a faint speck in the distance. HmmЕ I lie down on my front and, fumbling with the straps, take my bikini top off and toss it casually onto ChristianТs sun lounger. ThereЕ see how brazen I can be, Mr. Grey. Put this in your pipe and smoke it. I shut my eyes and let the sun warm my skinЕ warm my bones, and I drift away under its heat, my thoughts turning to my wedding day. [ артинка: pic_8.jpg] УYou may kiss the bride,Ф Reverend Walsh announces. I beam at my husband. УFinally, youТre mine,Ф he whispers and pulls me into his arms and kisses me chastely on the lips. I am married. I am Mrs. Christian Grey. I am giddy with joy. УYou look beautiful, Ana,Ф he murmurs and smiles, his eyes glowing with loveЕ and something darker, something hot. УDonТt let anyone take that dress off but me, understand?Ф His smile heats a hundred degrees as his fingertips trail down my cheek, igniting my blood. Holy crapЕ How does he do this, even here with all these people staring at us? I nod mutely. Jeez, I hope no one can hear us. Luckily Reverend Walsh has discreetly stepped back. I glance at the throng gathered in their wedding fineryЕ My mom, Ray, Bob, and the Greys are all applauding-‐even Kate, my maid of honor, who looks stunning in pale pink as she stands beside ChristianТs best man, his brother Elliot. Who knew that even Elliot could scrub up so well? All wear huge, beaming smiles-‐except Grace, who weeps graciously into a dainty white handkerchief. УReady to party, Mrs. Grey?Ф Christian murmurs, giving me his shy smile. I melt. He looks divine in a simple black tux with silver waistcoat and tie. HeТs soЕdashing. УReady as IТll ever be.Ф I grin, a totally goofy smile on my face. Later the wedding party is in full swingЕ Carrick and Grace have gone to town. They have the marquee set up again and beautifully decorated in pale pink, silver, and ivory with its sides open, facing the bay. We have been blessed with fine weather, and the late afternoon sun shines over the water. ThereТs a dance floor at one end of the marquee, a lavish buffet at the other. Ray and my mother are dancing and laughing with each other. I feel bittersweet watching them together. I hope Christian and I last longer. I donТt know what IТd do if he left me.Marry in haste, repent at leisure. The saying haunts me.
Kate is beside me, looking so beautiful in her long silk gown. She glances at me and frowns.УHey, this is supposed to be the happiest day of your life,Ф she scolds. УIt is,Ф I whisper. УOh, Ana, whatТs wrong? Are you watching your mom and Ray?Ф I nod sadly. УTheyТre happy.Ф УHappier apart.Ф УYouТre having doubts?Ф Kate asks, alarmed. УNo, not at all. ItТs justЕ I love him so much.Ф I freeze, unable or unwilling to articulate my fears. УAna, itТs obvious he adores you. I know you had an unconventional start to your relationship, but I can see how happy youТve both been over the past month.Ф She grasps my hands, squeezing them. УBesides, itТs too late now,Ф she adds with a grin. I giggle. Trust Kate to point out the obvious. She pulls me into a Katherine Kavanagh Special Hug.УAna, youТll be fine. And if he hurts one hair on your head, heТll have me to answer to.Ф Releasing me, she grins at whoever is behind me. УHi, baby.Ф Christian puts his arms around me, surprising me, and kisses my temple. УKate,Ф he acknowledges. HeТs still cool toward her even after six weeks. УHello again, Christian. IТm off to find your best man, who happens to be my best man, too.Ф With a smile to us both, she heads over to Elliot, who is drinking with her brother Ethan and our friend Jos?. УTime to go,Ф Christian murmurs. УAlready? This is the first party IТve been to where I donТt mind being the center of attention.Ф I turn in his arms to face him. УYou deserve to be. You look stunning, Anastasia.Ф УSo do you.Ф He smiles, his expression heating.УThis beautiful dress becomes you.Ф УThis old thing?Ф I blush shyly and pull on the fine lace trim of the simple, fitted wedding dress designed for me by KateТs mother. I love that the lace is just off the shoulder-‐demure, yet alluring, I hope. He bends and kisses me.УLetТs go. I donТt want to share you with all these people anymore.Ф УCan we leave our own wedding?Ф УBaby, itТs our party, and we can do whatever we want. WeТve cut the cake. And right now, IТd like to whisk you away and have you all to myself.Ф I giggle.УYou have me for a lifetime, Mr. Grey.Ф УIТm very glad to hear that, Mrs. Grey.Ф УOh, there you two are! Such lovebirds.Ф I groan inwardlyЕ GraceТs mother has found us. УChristian, darling-‐one more dance with your grandma?Ф Christian purses his lips.УOf course, Grandmother.Ф УAnd you, beautiful Anastasia, go and make an old man happy-‐dance with Theo. Ф УTheo, Mrs. Trevelyan?Ф УGrandpa Trevelyan. And I think you can call me Grandma. Now, you two seriously need to get working on my great-‐grandkids. I wonТt last too much longer.Ф She gives us both a simpering smile.
Christian blinks at her in horror.УCome, Grandmother,Ф he says, hurriedly taking her hand and leading her to the dance floor. He glances back at me, practically pouting, and rolls his eyes. УLaters, baby.Ф As I walk toward Grandpa Trevelyan, Jos? accosts me. УI wonТt ask you for another dance. I think I monopolized too much of your time on the dance floor as it isЕ IТm happy to see you happy, but IТm serious, Ana. IТll be hereЕ If you need me.Ф УJos?, thank you. YouТre a good friend.Ф УI mean it.Ф His dark eyes shine with sincerity. УI know you do. Thank you, Jos?. Now if youТll please excuse me-‐I have a date with an old man.Ф He furrows his brow in confusion. УChristianТs grandfather,Ф I clarify. He grins.УGood luck with that, Annie. Good luck with everything.Ф УThanks, Jos?.Ф After my dance with ChristianТs ever-‐charming grandfather, I stand by the French doors, watching the sun sink slowly over Seattle, casting bright orange and aquamarine shadows across the bay. УLetТs go,Ф Christian urges. УI have to change.Ф I grasp his hand, meaning to pull him through the French windows and upstairs with me. He frowns, not understanding, and tugs gently on my hand, halting me. УI thought you wanted to be the one to take this dress off,Ф I explain. His eyes light up. УCorrect.Ф He gives me a lascivious grin. УBut IТm not undressing you here. We wouldnТt leave untilЕ I donТt knowЕФ He waves his long-‐fingered hand, leaving his sentence unfinished but his meaning quite clear. I flush and let go of his hand. УAnd donТt take your hair down either,Ф he murmurs darkly. УBut-‐Ф УNo buts, Anastasia. You look beautiful. And I want to be the one to undress you. Ф Oh. I frown. УPack your going-‐away clothes,Ф he orders. УYouТll need them. Taylor has your main suitcase.Ф УOkay.Ф What has he got planned? He hasnТt told me where weТre going. In fact, I donТt think anyone knows where weТre going. Neither Mia nor Kate has managed to inveigle the information out of him. I turn to where my mother and Kate are hovering nearby. УIТm not changing.Ф УWhat?Ф my mother says. УChristian doesnТt want me to.Ф I shrug as if this should explain everything. Her brow furrows briefly. УYou didnТt promise to obey,Ф she reminds me tactfully. Kate tries to disguise her snort as a cough. I narrow my eyes at her. Neither she nor my mother have any idea of the fight Christian and I had about that. I donТt want to rehash that argument.Jeez, can my Fifty Shades sulkЕ and have nightmares. The memory is sobering. УI know, Mom, but he likes this dress, and I want to please him.Ф
Her expression softens. Kate rolls her eyes and tactfully moves away to leave us alone. УYou look so lovely, darling.Ф Carla gently tugs at a loose tendril of my hair and strokes my chin. УI am so proud of you, honey. YouТre going to make Christian a very happy man.Ф She pulls me into a hug. Oh, Mom! УI canТt believe how grown-‐up you look right now. Beginning a new lifeЕ Just remember that men are from a different planet, and youТll be fine.Ф I giggle. Christian is from a different universe, if only she knew. УThanks, Mom.Ф Ray joins us, smiling sweetly at both Mom and me. УYou made a beautiful baby girl, Carla,Ф he says, his eyes glowing with pride. He looks so dapper in his black tux and pale pink waistcoat. Tears prick the back of my eyes. Oh noЕ so far I have managed not to cry. УAnd you watched her and helped her grow up, Ray,Ф CarlaТs voice is wistful. УAnd I loved every single minute. You make one hell of a bride, Annie.Ф Ray tucks the same loose strand of hair behind my ear. УOh, DadЕФ I stifle a sob, and he hugs me in his brief, awkward way. УYouТll make one hell of a wife, too,Ф he whispers, his voice hoarse. When he releases me, Christian is back at my side. Ray shakes his hand warmly.УLook after my girl, Christian.Ф УI fully intend to, Ray. Carla.Ф He nods at my stepdad and kisses my mom. The rest of the wedding guests have formed a long human arch for us to travel through, leading round to the front of the house. УReady?Ф Christian says. УYes.Ф Taking my hand, he leads me under their outstretched arms while our guests shout good luck and congratulations and shower us with rice. Waiting with smiles and hugs at the end of the arch are Grace and Carrick. In turn they hug and kiss us both. Grace is emotional again as we bid them hasty good-‐byes. Taylor is waiting to whisk us away in the Audi SUV. As Christian holds the car door open for me, I turn and toss my bouquet of white and pink roses into the crowd of young women that has gathered. Mia triumphantly holds it aloft, grinning from ear to ear. As I slide into the SUV laughing at MiaТs audacious catch, Christian bends to gather the hem of my dress. Once IТm safely in, he bids the waiting crowd a farewell. Taylor holds the car door open for him.УCongratulations, sir.Ф УThank you, Taylor,Ф Christian replies as he seats himself beside me. As Taylor pulls away, our wedding guests shower the vehicle with rice. Christian grasps my hand and kisses my knuckles. УSo far so good, Mrs. Grey?Ф УSo far so wonderful, Mr. Grey. Where are we going?Ф УSea-‐Tac,Ф he says simply and smiles a sphinxlike smile. HmmЕ what is he planning? Taylor does not head for the departure terminal as I expect but through a security gate and directly on to the tarmac. What? And then I see her-‐ChristianТs jetЕGrey Enterprises Holdings Inc. in large blue lettering across her fuselage. УDonТt tell me youТre misusing company property again!Ф УOh, I hope so, Anastasia.Ф Christian grins.
Taylor halts at the foot of the steps leading up to the plane and leaps out of the Audi to open ChristianТs door. They have a brief discussion, then Christian opens my door-‐and rather than stepping back to give me room to climb out, he leans in and lifts me. Whoa!УWhat are you doing?Ф I squeak. УCarrying you over the threshold,Ф he says. УOh.Ф IsnТt that supposed to be at home? He carries me effortlessly up the steps, and Taylor follows with my small suitcase. He leaves it on the threshold of the plane before returning to the Audi. Inside the cabin, I recognize Stephan, ChristianТs pilot, in his uniform. УWelcome aboard, sir, Mrs. Grey.Ф He grins. Christian puts me down and shakes StephanТs hand. Beside Stephan stands a dark-‐haired woman in her what? Early thirties? SheТs also in uniform. УCongratulations to you both,Ф Stephan continues. УThank you, Stephan. Anastasia, you know Stephan. HeТs our captain today, and this is First Officer Beighley.Ф She blushes as Christian introduces her and blinks rapidly. I want to roll my eyes. Another female completely captivated by my too-‐handsome-‐for-‐his-‐own-‐good husband. УDelighted to meet you,Ф gushes Beighley. I smile kindly at her. After all-‐he is mine. УAll preparations complete?Ф Christian asks them both as I glance around the cabin. The interior is all pale maple wood and pale cream leather. ItТs lovely. Another young woman in uniform stands at the other end of the cabin-‐a verypretty brunette. УWe have the all clear. Weather is good from here to Boston.Ф Boston? УTurbulence?Ф УNot before Boston. ThereТs a weather front over Shannon that might give us a rough ride.Ф Shannon? Ireland? УI see. Well, I hope to sleep through it all,Ф says Christian matter-‐of-‐factly. Sleep? УWeТll get underway, sir,Ф Stephan says. УWeТll leave you in the capable care of Natalia, your flight attendant.Ф Christian glances in her direction and frowns, but turns to Stephan with a smile. УExcellent,Ф he says. Taking my hand, he leads me to one of the sumptuous leather seats. There must be about twelve of them in total. УSit,Ф he says as he removes his jacket and undoes his fine sliver brocade vest. We sit in two single seats facing each other with a small, highly polished table between us. УWelcome aboard, sir, maТam, and congratulations.Ф Natalia is at our side, offering us both a glass of pink champagne. УThank you,Ф Christian says, and she smiles politely at us and retreats to the galley. УHereТs to a happy married life, Anastasia.Ф Christian raises his glass to mine, and we chink. The champagne is delicious. УBollinger?Ф I ask. УThe same.Ф УThe first time I drank this it was out of teacups.Ф I grin. УI remember that day well. Your graduation.Ф УWhere are we going?Ф IТm unable to contain my curiosity any longer.
УShannon,Ф Christian says, his eyes alight with excitement. He looks like a small boy. УIn Ireland?Ф WeТre going to Ireland! УTo refuel,Ф he adds, teasing. УThen?Ф I prompt. His grin broadens and he shakes his head. УChristian!Ф УLondon,Ф he says, gazing intently at me, trying to gauge my reaction. I gasp. Holy cow. I thought maybe weТd be going to New York or Aspen or maybe the Caribbean. I can hardly believe it. My lifetime ambition has been to visit England. IТm lit up from within, incandescent with happiness. УThen Paris.Ф What? УThen the South of France.Ф Whoa! УI know youТve always dreamed of going to Europe,Ф he says softly. УI want to make your dreams come true, Anastasia.Ф УYou are my dreams come true, Christian.Ф УBack at you, Mrs. Grey,Ф he whispers. Oh myЕ УBuckle up.Ф I grin and do as IТm told. As the plane taxis out on to the runway, we sip our champagne, grinning inanely at each other. I canТt believe it. At twenty-‐two years old, IТm finally leaving the United States and going to Europe-‐toLondon of all places. Once weТre airborne, Natalia serves us yet more champagne and prepares our wedding feast. And what a feast it is-‐smoked salmon, followed by roast partridge with a green bean salad anddauphinoise potatoes, all cooked and served by the ever-‐efficient Natalia. УDessert, Mr. Grey?Ф she asks. He shakes his head and runs his finger across his bottom lip as he looks questioningly at me, his expression dark and unreadable. УNo, thank you,Ф I murmur, unable to break eye contact with him. His lips curl up in a small, secret smile and Natalia retreats. УGood,Ф he murmurs. УIТd rather planned on having you for dessert.Ф OhЕ here? УCome,Ф he says, rising from the table and offering me his hand. He leads me to the back of the cabin. УThereТs a bathroom here.Ф He points to a small door then leads me on down a short corridor and through a door at the end. JeezЕ a bedroom. The cabin is cream and maple wood and the small double bed is covered in gold and taupe cushions. It looks very comfortable. Christian turns and pulls me into his arms, gazing down at me. УI thought weТd spend our wedding night at thirty-‐five-‐thousand feet. ItТs something IТve never done before.Ф Holy cowЕ another first. I gape at him, my heart poundingЕ the mile high club. I Тve heard about this.
УBut first I have to get you out of this fabulous dress.Ф His eyes glow with love and something darker, something I loveЕ something that calls to my inner goddess. He takes my breath away. УTurn around.Ф His voice is low, authoritative, and sexy as hell. How can he infuse so much promise into those two words? Willingly I comply and his hands move to my hair. Gently he pulls out each hairpin one at a time, his expert fingers making short work of the task. My hair falls in swathes over my shoulders, one lock at a time, covering my back and down to my breasts. I try to stand still and not squirm, but IТm aching for his touch. After our long, tiring but exciting day, I want him-‐all of him. УYou have such beautiful hair, Ana.Ф His mouth is close to my ear and I feel his breath, though his lips donТt touch me. When my hair is free of pins, he runs his fingers through it, gently massaging my scalpЕoh myЕ I close my eyes and savor the sensation. His fingers travel on down, and he tugs, tilting my head back to expose my throat. УYouТre mine,Ф he breathes and his teeth tug my ear lobe. I groan. УHush now,Ф he admonishes. He sweeps my hair over my shoulder and trails a finger across the top of my back from shoulder to shoulder following the lace edge of my dress. I shiver in anticipation. He plants a tender kiss on my back above the first button on my dress. УSo beautiful,Ф he says as he deftly undoes the first button. УYou have made me the happiest man alive today.Ф With infinite slowness, he unfastens each one, all the way down my back. УI love you so much.Ф Trailing kisses from the nape of my neck to the edge of my shoulder. Between eachkiss he murmurs, УI. Want. You. So. Much. I. Want. To. Be. Inside. You. You. Are. Mine.Ф Each word is intoxicating. I close my eyes and tilt my head, giving him easier access to my neck, and I fall further under the spell that is Christian Grey, my husband. УMine,Ф he whispers once more. He peels my dress down my arms so that it pools at my feet in a cloud of ivory silk and lace. УTurn around,Ф he whispers, his voice suddenly hoarse. I do so and he gasps. IТm dressed in a tight, blush-‐pink satin corset with garter straps, matching lacy briefs, and white silk stockings. ChristianТs eyes travel greedily down my body, but he says nothing. He just gazes at me, his eyes wide with want. УYou like?Ф I whisper aware of the shy blush creeping across my cheeks. УMore than like, baby. You look sensational. Here.Ф He holds out his hand and taking it, I step out of my dress. УKeep still,Ф he murmurs and without taking his darkening eyes off mine, he runs his middle finger over my breasts, following the line of my corset. My breath shallows, and he repeats the journey over my breasts once more, his tantalizing finger sending tingles down my spine. He stops and twirls his index finger in the air, indicating that he wants me to turn around. For him, right now, IТd do anything. УStop,Ф he says. IТm facing the bed, away from him. His arm encircles my waist, pulling me against him, and he nuzzles my neck. Gently he cups my breasts, toying with them, while his thumbs circle over my nipples so that they strain against the fabric of my corset. УMine,Ф he whispers. УYours,Ф I breathe. Leaving my breasts bereft he runs his hands down my stomach, over my belly, and down to my thighs, his thumbs skimming my sex. I stifle a moan. His fingers skate down
each garter, and with his usual dexterity, he simultaneously unhooks each one from my stockings. His hands travel around to my behind. УMine,Ф he breathes as his hands spread across my backside, the tips of his fingers brushing my sex. УAh.Ф УHush.Ф His hands travel down the backs of my thighs, and once more he unclips my garters. Leaning down, he pulls back the cover on the bed.УSit down.Ф I do as IТm told in his thrall, and he kneels at my feet and gently tugs off each of my white bridal Jimmy Choos. He grasps the top of my left stocking and slowly peels it off, running his thumbs down my legЕOh my. He repeats the process with my other stocking. УThis is like unwrapping my Christmas presents.Ф He smiles up at me through his long dark lashes. УA present youТve had alreadyЕФ He frowns in admonishment.УOh no, baby. This time itТs really mine.Ф УChristian, IТve been yours since I said yes.Ф I scoot forward, cupping his beloved face in my hands. УIТm yours. I will always be yours, husband of mine. Now, I think youТre wearing too many clothes.Ф I bend to kiss him, and suddenly he leans up, kisses my lips, and grasps my head with his hands, his fingers threading into my hair. УAna,Ф he breathes. УMy Ana.Ф His lips claim mine once more, his tongue invasively persuasive. УClothes,Ф I whisper, our breath mingling as I push back his vest and he struggles out of it, releasing me for a moment. He pauses, gazing at me, eyes wide, eyes wanting. УLet me, please.Ф My voice is soft and cajoling. I want to undress my husband, my Fifty. He sits back on his heels, and leaning forward I grasp his tie-‐his sliver-‐gray tie, my favorite tie-‐and slowly undo it and pull it free. He raises his chin to let me tackle the top button of his white shirt; then once itТs undone, I move on to his cuffs. HeТs wearing platinum cufflinks-‐engraved with an entwined A and C-‐my wedding present to him. When I Тve removed them, he takes the cufflinks from me and fists them in his hand. Then he kisses his fist and shoves them into his pants pocket. УMr. Grey, so romantic.Ф УFor you Mrs. Grey-‐hearts and flowers. Always.Ф I take his hand, and glancing up through my lashes, I kiss his plain platinum wedding ring. He groans and closes his eyes. УAna,Ф he whispers and my name is a prayer. Reaching up to his second shirt button and mirroring him from earlier, I plant a soft kiss on his chest as I undo each of them and whisper between each kiss, УYou. Make. Me. So. Happy. I. Love. You.Ф He groans, and in one swift move, he clasps me around the waist and lifts me on to the bed, following me down on to it. His lips find mine, his hands curling around my head, holding me, stilling me as our tongues glory in each other. Abruptly Christian kneels up, leaving me breathless and wanting more. УYou are so beautifulЕ wife.Ф He runs his hands down my legs then grasps my left foot. УYou have such lovely legs. I want to kiss every inch of them. Starting here.Ф He presses his lips against my big toe and then grazes the pad with his teeth. Everything south of my waistline convulses. His tongue glides up my instep and his teeth skim my heel and
up to my ankle. He trails kisses up the inside of my calf; soft wet kisses. I wriggle beneath him. УStill, Mrs. Grey,Ф he warns, and suddenly he flips me on to my stomach and continues his leisurely journey with his mouth up the back of my legs, to my thighs, my behind, and then he stops. I groan. УPleaseЕФ УI want you naked,Ф he murmurs and slowly unhooks my corset, one hook at a time. When itТs flat on the bed beneath me, he runs his tongue up the length of my spine. УChristian, please.Ф УWhat do you want, Mrs. Grey.Ф His words are soft and close to my ear. HeТs almost lying on top of meЕ I can feel him hard against my behind. УYou.Ф УAnd I you, my love, my lifeЕ,Ф he whispers, and before I know it, heТs flipped me on to my back. He stands swiftly and in one efficient move dispenses with his pants and boxer briefs so that heТs gloriously naked and looming large and ready over me. The small cabin is eclipsed by his dazzling beauty and his want and need of me. He leans down and peels off my panties then gazes down at me. УMine,Ф he mouths. УPlease,Ф I beg and he grinsЕ a salacious, wicked, tempting, all-‐Fifty grin. He crawls back onto the bed and trails kisses up my right leg this timeЕ until he reaches the apex of my thighs. He pushes my legs wider apart. УAhЕ wife of mine,Ф he murmurs and then his mouth is on me. I close my eyes and surrender to his oh-‐so-‐adroit tongue. My hands fist in his hair as my hips swing and sway, slave to his rhythm, then buck off the small bed. He grabs my hips to still meЕ but doesnТt stop the delicious torture. IТm close, so close. УChristian.Ф I moan. УNot yet,Ф he breathes and he moves up my body, his tongue dipping into my navel. УNo!ФDamn! I sense his smile against my belly as his journey continues north. УSo impatient, Mrs. Grey. We have until we touch down on the Emerald Isle.Ф Reverentially he kisses my breasts and tugs my left nipple between his lips. Gazing up at me, his eyes are dark like a tropical storm as he teases me. Oh myЕ IТd forgotten.Europe. УHusband, I want you. Please.Ф He looms up over me, his body covering mine, resting his weight on his elbows. He runs his nose down mine, and I run my hands down his strong, supple back to his fine, fine backside. УMrs. GreyЕ wife. We aim to please.Ф His lips brush. УI love you.Ф УI love you, too.Ф УEyes open. I want to see you.Ф УChristianЕ ahЕ,Ф I cry, as he slowly sinks into me. УAna, oh Ana,Ф he breathes and he starts to move. УWhat the hell do you think youТre doing?Ф Christian shouts, waking me from my very pleasant dream. HeТs standing all wet and beautiful at the end of my sun lounger and glaring down at me. What have I done?Oh noЕ IТm lying on my backЕ Crap, crap, crap and heТs mad. Shit. HeТs really mad. 2 [ артинка: pic_9.jpg]
I am suddenly very awake, my erotic dream forgotten. УI was on my front. I must have turned over in my sleep.Ф I whisper weakly in my defense. His eyes blaze with fury. He reaches down, scoops up my bikini top from his sun lounger and tosses it at me. УPut this on!Ф he hisses. УChristian, no one is looking.Ф УTrust me. TheyТre looking. IТm sure Taylor and the security crew are enjoying the show!Ф he snarls. Holy shit! Why do I keep forgetting about them? I grasp my breasts in panic, hiding them. Ever since Charlie TangoТs sabotaged demise, we are constantly shadowed by damned security. УYes,Ф Christian snarls. УAnd some sleazy fucking paparazzi could get a shot of you, too. Do you want to be all over the cover ofStar magazine? Naked this time?Ф Shit! The paparazzi! Fuck! As I hurriedly scramble into my top, all thumbs, the color drains from my face. I shudder. The unpleasant memory of being besieged by the paparazzi outside SIP after our engagement was leaked comes unwelcome to mind-‐all part of the Christian Grey package. УLТaddition!Ф Christian snaps at the passing waitress.УWeТre going,Ф he says to me. УNow?Ф УYes. Now.Ф Oh shit, heТs not to be argued with. He pulls on his shorts, even though his trunks are dripping wet, then his gray T-‐ shirt. The waitress is back in a moment with his credit card and the check. Reluctantly, I wriggle into my turquoise sundress and step into my flip-‐flops. Once the waitress has left, Christian snatches up his book and BlackBerry and masks his fury behind mirrored aviator glasses. HeТs bristling with tension and anger. My heart sinks. Every other woman on the beach is topless-‐itТs not that big of a crime. In fact I look odd with my topon. I sigh inwardly, my spirits sinking. I thought Christian would see the funny sideЕ sort ofЕ maybe if IТd stayed on my front, but his sense of humor has evaporated. УPlease donТt be mad at me,Ф I whisper, taking his book and BlackBerry from him and placing them in my backpack. УToo late for that,Ф he says quietly-‐too quietly. УCome.Ф Taking my hand, he signals up to Taylor and his two sidekicks, the French security officers Philippe and Gaston. Weirdly, they are identical twins. They have been patiently watching us and everyone else on the beach from the verandah. Why do I keep forgetting about them? How? Taylor is stony-‐faced behind his dark glasses. Shit, heТs mad at me, too. IТm still not used to seeing him so casually dressed in shorts and a black polo shirt. Christian leads me into the hotel, through the lobby, and out onto the street. He remains silent, brooding and bad-‐tempered, and itТs all my fault. Taylor and his team shadow us. УWhere are we going?Ф I ask tentatively, gazing up at him. УBack to the boat.Ф He doesnТt look at me. I have no idea of the time. I think it must be about five or six in the afternoon. When we reach the marina, Christian leads me onto the dock where the motorboat and Jet Ski belonging to theFair Lady are moored. As Christian unties the Jet Ski, I hand my backpack to Taylor. I glance nervously up at him, but like Christian, his expression gives nothing away. I flush, thinking about what heТs seen on the beach.
УHere you go, Mrs. Grey.Ф Taylor passes me a life vest from the motorboat, and I dutifully put it on. Why am I the only one who has to wear a life jacket? Christian and Taylor exchange some kind of look. Jeez, is he angry with Taylor, too? Christian then checks the straps on my life jacket, cinching the middle one tightly. УYouТll do,Ф he mutters sullenly, still not turning to look at me.Shit. He climbs gracefully on to the Jet Ski and holds out his hand for me to join him. Grasping it tightly, I manage to throw my leg over the seat behind him without falling into the water while Taylor and the twins clamber into the motorboat. Christian kicks the Jet Ski away from the dock, and it floats gently into the marina. УHold on,Ф he orders, and I put my arms around him. This is my favorite part of traveling by Jet Ski. I hug him closely, my nose nuzzling into his back, marveling that there was a time when he would not have tolerated me touching him this way. He smells goodЕ of Christian and the sea.Forgive me, Christian, please? He stiffens.УSteady,Ф he says, his tone softer. I kiss his back and rest my cheek against him, looking back toward the dock where a few holidaymakers have gathered to watch the show. Christian turns the key and the motor roars to life. With one twist of the accelerator, the Jet Ski bucks forward and speeds across the cool dark water, through the marina and out to the center of the harbor toward theFair Lady. I hold him tighter. I love this-‐itТs so exciting. Every muscle in ChristianТs lean frame is evident as I cling to him. Taylor pulls alongside in the motorboat. Christian glances at him then accelerates again, and we shoot forward, whipping over the top of the water like an expertly tossed pebble. Taylor shakes his head in resigned exasperation and heads straight to the yacht, while Christian shoots past theFair Lady and heads out toward the open water. The sea spray is splashing us, the warm wind buffeting my face and flaying my ponytail crazily around me. This is so muchfun. Maybe the thrill of this ride will dispel ChristianТs bad mood. I canТt see his face, but I know heТs enjoying himself-‐carefree, acting his age for a change. He steers in a huge semicircle and I study the shoreline-‐the boats in the marina, the mosaic of yellow, white and sand-‐colored offices and apartments, and the craggy mountains behind. It looks so disorganized-‐not the regimented blocks that I am used to-‐but so picturesque. Christian glances over his shoulder at me, and thereТs the ghost of a smile playing on his lips. УAgain?Ф he shouts over the noise of the engine. I nod enthusiastically. His answering grin is dazzling, and he opens the throttle and speeds around theFair Lady and on out to sea once moreЕ and I think IТm forgiven. УYouТve caught the sun,Ф Christian says mildly as he undoes my life vest. I anxiously try to assess his mood. We are on deck aboard the yacht, and one of the stewards is standing quietly nearby, waiting for my life vest. Christian passes it to him. УWill that be all, sir?Ф the young man asks. I love his French accent. Christian glances at me, takes off his shades, and slips them into the collar of his T-‐shirt, letting them hang. УWould you like a drink?Ф he asks me. УDo I need one?Ф He cocks his head to one side.УWhy would you say that?Ф His voice is soft. УYou know why.Ф He frowns as if weighing something in his mind. Oh, what is he thinking?
УTwo gin and tonics, please. And some nuts and olives,Ф he says to the steward, who nods and quickly vanishes. УYou think IТm going to punish you?Ф ChristianТs voice is silky. УDo you want to?Ф УYes.Ф УHow?Ф УIТll think of something. Maybe when youТve had your drink.Ф And itТs a sensual threat. I swallow, and my inner goddess squints from her sun lounger where sheТ s trying to catch rays with a silver reflector fanned out at her neck. ChristianТs frowns once more. УYou want to be?Ф How does he know?УDepends,Ф I mutter, flushing. УOn what?Ф He hides his smile. УIf you want to hurt me or not.Ф His mouth presses into a hard line, humor forgotten. He leans forward and kisses my forehead. УAnastasia, youТre my wife, not my sub. I donТt ever want to hurt you. You should know that by now. JustЕ just donТt take your clothes off in public. I donТt want you naked all over the tabloids. You donТt want that, and IТm sure your mom and Ray donТt want that either.Ф Oh! Ray. Holy shit, heТd have a coronary. What was I thinking? I mentally castigate myself. The steward appears with our drinks and snacks and places them on the teak table. УSit,Ф Christian commands. I do as he says and settle into a directorТs chair. Christian takes a seat beside me and passes me a gin and tonic. УCheers, Mrs. Grey.Ф УCheers, Mr. Grey.Ф I take a welcome sip. ItТs thirst-‐quenching, cold, and delicious. When I gaze at him, heТs watching me carefully, his mood unreadable. ItТs very frustratingЕ I donТt know if heТs still mad at me. I deploy my patented distraction technique. УWho owns this boat?Ф I ask. УA British knight. Sir Somebody-‐or-‐Other. His great-‐grandfather started a grocery store. His daughterТs married to one of the Crown Princes of Europe.Ф Oh.УSuper-‐rich?Ф Christian looks suddenly wary.УYes.Ф УLike you,Ф I murmur. УYes.Ф Oh. УAnd like you,Ф Christian whispers and pops an olive into his mouth. I blink rapidlyЕ a vision of him in his tux and silver waistcoat comes to mindЕ his eyes burning with sincerity as he gazes down at me during our wedding ceremony. УAll that is mine is now yours,Ф he says, his voice ringing out clearly reciting his vows from memory. All mine? Holy cow.УItТs odd. Going from nothing toФ-‐I wave my hand to indicate our opulent surroundings-‐Уto everything.Ф УYouТll get used to it.Ф
УI donТt think IТll ever get used to it.Ф Taylor appears on deck.УSir, you have a call.Ф Christian frowns but takes the proffered BlackBerry. УGrey,Ф he snaps and rises from his seat to stand at the bow of the yacht. I gaze out at the sea, tuning out his conversation with Ros-‐I think-‐his number two. I am richЕ stinking rich. I have done nothing to earn this moneyЕ just married a rich man. I shudder as my mind drifts back to our conversation about prenups. It was the Sunday after his birthday, and we were seated at the kitchen table enjoying a leisurely breakfastЕ all of us. Elliot, Kate, Grace, and I were debating the merits of bacon versus sausage, while Carrick and Christian read the Sunday paperЕ [ артинка: pic_10.jpg] УLook at this,Ф squeals Mia as she sets her netbook on the kitchen table in front of us. УThereТs a gossipy item on the Seattle Nooz website about you being engaged, Christian.Ф УAlready?Ф Grace says in surprise. Then her mouth purses as some obviously unpleasant thought crosses her mind. Christian frowns. Mia reads the column out loud.УWord has reached us here at The Nooz that SeattleТs most eligible bachelor,the Christian Grey, has finally been snapped up and wedding bells are in the air. But who is the lucky, lucky lady? The Nooz is on the hunt. Bet sheТs reading one helluva prenup.Ф Mia giggles then stops abruptly as Christian glares at her. Silence descends, and the atmosphere in the Grey kitchen plunges to below zero. Oh no! A prenup? The thought has never crossed my mind. I swallow, feeling all the blood drain from my face.Please ground, swallow me up now! Christian shifts uncomfortably in his chair as I glance apprehensively at him. УNo,Ф he mouths at me. УChristian,Ф Carrick says gently. УIТm not discussing this again,Ф he snaps at Carrick who glances at me nervously and opens his mouth to say something. УNo prenup!Ф Christian almost shouts at him and broodingly goes back to reading his paper, ignoring everyone else at the table. They look alternately at me then him Е then anywhere but at the two of us. УChristian,Ф I murmur. УIТll sign anything you and Mr. Grey want.Ф Jeez, it wouldnТt be the first time heТs made me sign something. Christian looks up and glares at me. УNo!Ф he snaps. I blanch once more. УItТs to protect you.Ф УChristian, Ana-‐I think you should discuss this in private,Ф Grace admonishes us. She glares at Carrick and Mia. Oh dear, looks like theyТre in trouble, too. УAna, this is not about you,Ф Carrick murmurs reassuringly. УAnd please call me Carrick.Ф Christian narrows cold eyes at his father and my heart sinks.HellЕ HeТs really mad. Everyone erupts into animated conversation, and Mia and Kate leap up to clear the table. УI definitely prefer sausage,Ф exclaims Elliot. I stare down at my knotted fingers. Crap. I hope Mr. and Mrs. Grey donТt think IТ m some kind of gold digger. Christian reaches over and grasps both my hands gently in one of his.
УStop it.Ф How does he know what IТm thinking? УIgnore my dad,Ф Christian says so only I can hear him. УHeТs really pissed about Elena. That stuff was all aimed at me. I wish my mom had kept her mouth shut.Ф I know Christian is still smarting from hisУtalkФ with Carrick about Elena last night. УHe has a point, Christian. YouТre very wealthy, and IТm bringing nothing to our marriage but my student loans.Ф Christian gazes at me, his eyes bleak.УAnastasia, if you leave me, you might as well take everything. You left me once before. I know how that feels.Ф Holy Fuck!УThat was different,Ф I whisper, moved by his intensity. УButЕ you might want to leave me.Ф The thought makes me sick. He snorts and shakes his head with mock disgust. УChristian, you know I might do something exceptionally stupid-‐and youЕФ I glance down at my knotted hands, pain lancing through me, and IТm unable to finish my sentence. Losing ChristianЕfuck. УStop. Stop now. This subject is closed, Ana. WeТre not discussing it any more. No prenup. Not now-‐not ever.Ф He gives me a pointed give-‐it-‐up-‐now look, which silences me. Then he turns to Grace. УMom,Ф he says. УCan we have the wedding here?Ф [ ар тинка: pic_11.jpg] And heТs not mentioned it again. In fact at every opportunity heТs tried to reassure me about his wealthЕ thatТs it mine, too. I shudder as I recall the crazy shopping fest Christian demanded I go on with Caroline Acton-‐the personal shopper from Niemans-‐in preparation for this honeymoon. My bikini alone cost five hundred and forty dollars. I mean, itТs nice, but really-‐thatТs a ridiculous amount of money for four triangular scraps of material. УYou will get used to it,Ф Christian interrupts my reverie as he resumes his place at the table. УUsed to it?Ф УThe money,Ф he says, rolling his eyes. Oh, Fifty, maybe with time. I push the small dish of salted almonds and cashews toward him. УYour nuts, sir,Ф I say with as straight a face as I can manage, trying to bring some humor to our conversation after my dark thoughts and my bikini topfaux pas. He smirks.УIТm nuts about you.Ф He takes an almond, his eyes sparkling with wicked humor as he enjoys my little joke. He licks his lips. УDrink up. WeТre going to bed. Ф What? УDrink,Ф he mouths at me, his eyes darkening. Oh my, the look he gives me could be solely responsible for global warming. I pick up my gin and drain the glass, not taking my eyes off him. His mouth drops open, and I glimpse the tip of his tongue between his teeth. He smiles lewdly at me. In one fluid move, he stands and bends over me, resting his hands on the arms of my chair. УIТm going to make an example of you. Come. DonТt pee,Ф he whispers in my ear. I gasp.DonТt pee? How rude. My subconscious looks up from her book-‐The Complete works of Charles Dickens, Vol. 1-‐with alarm.
УItТs not what you think.Ф Christian smirks, holding his hand out to me. У Trust me.Ф He looks so sexy and genial. How can I resist? УOkay.Ф I place my hand in his, because quite simply, IТd trust him with my life. What has he got planned? My heart starts pounding in anticipation. He leads me across the deck and through the doors into the plush, beautifully appointed main salon, along a narrow corridor, through the dining room, and down the stairs to the main master cabin. The cabin has been cleaned since this morning and the bed made. ItТs a lovely room. With two portholes on both the starboard and port sides, itТs elegantly decorated in dark walnut furniture with cream walls and soft furnishings in gold and red. Christian releases my hand, pulls his T-‐shirt over his head, and tosses it onto a chair. He steps out of his flip-‐flops and removes his shorts and trunks in one graceful move. Oh my. Will I ever tire of looking at him naked? He is utterly gorgeous and all mine. His skin glows-‐heТs caught the sun, too, and his hair is longer, flopping over his forehead. I am one lucky, lucky girl. He grasps my chin, pulling slightly so that I stop biting my lip and runs his thumb along my lower lip. УThatТs better.Ф He turns and strides over to the impressive armoire that houses his clothes. He produces two pairs of metal handcuffs and an airline eye mask from the bottom drawer. Handcuffs! WeТve never used handcuffs. I glance quickly and nervously at the bed. Where the hell is he going to attach those? He turns and gazes steadily at me, his eyes dark and luminous. УThese can be quite painful. They can bite into the skin if you pull too hard.Ф He holds up one pair. УBut I really want to use them on you now.Ф Holy fuck. My mouth goes dry. УHere.Ф He stalks gracefully forward and hands me a set. УDo you want to try them first?Ф They feel solid, the metal cold. Vaguely, I hope I never have to wear a pair of these for real. Christian is watching me intently. УWhere are the keys?Ф My voice wavering. He holds out his palm, revealing a small metallic key.УThis does both sets. In fact, all sets.Ф How many sets does he have? I donТt remember seeing any in the museum chest. He strokes my cheek with his index finger, trailing it down to my mouth. He leans in as if to kiss me. УDo you want to play?Ф he says, his voice low, and everything in my body heads south as desire unfurls deep in my belly. УYes,Ф I breathe. He smiles.УGood.Ф He plants a featherlight kiss on my forehead. УWeТre going to need a safe word.Ф [ артинка: pic_12.jpg] What? УStop wonТt be enough because you will probably say that, but you wonТt mean it.Ф He runs his nose down mine-‐the only contact between us. My heart starts pounding.ShitЕ How can he do this with just words? УThis is not going to hurt. It will be intense. Very intense, because I am not going to let you move. Okay?Ф
Oh my. This sounds so hot. My breathing is too loud.Fuck, I am panting already. My inner goddess has her sequins on and is warming up to dance the rumba. Thank heavens I Тm married to this man, otherwise this would be embarrassing. My eyes flick down to his arousal. УOkay.Ф My voice is barely audible. УChoose a word, Ana.Ф OhЕ УA safe word,Ф he says softly. УPopsicle.Ф I say, panting. УPopsicle?Ф he says, amused. УYes.Ф He grins as he leans back to gaze down at me.УInteresting choice. Lift up your arms.Ф I do, and Christian grasps the hem of my sundress, lifts it over my head, and tosses it on the floor. He holds out his hand, and I give him back the handcuffs. He places both sets on the bedside table along with the blindfold and yanks the quilt off the bed, letting it fall to the floor. УTurn round.Ф I turn, and he undoes my bikini top so that it falls to the floor. УTomorrow, I will staple this to you,Ф he mutters and tugs on my hair tie, freeing my hair. He gathers it into one hand and yanks gently so I step back against him. Against his chest. Against his erection. I gasp as he pulls my head to one side and kisses my neck. УYou were very disobedient,Ф he murmurs in my ear, sending delicious shivers through me. УYes,Ф I whisper. УHmm. What are we going to do about that?Ф УLearn to live with it,Ф I breathe. His soft languid kisses are driving me wild. He grins against my neck. УAh, Mrs. Grey. You are ever the optimist.Ф He straightens. Taking my hair, he carefully parts it into three strands, braids it slowly, and then fastens my hair tie to the end. He tugs my braid gently and leans down to my ear.УI am going to teach you a lesson,Ф he murmurs. Moving suddenly, he grabs me by the waist, sits down on the bed, and yanks me across his knee so that I feel his erection pressed against my belly. He smacks my backside once, hard. I yelp, then IТm on my back on the bed, and heТs gazing down at me, his eyes molten gray. IТm going to combust. УDo you know how beautiful you are?Ф He trails his fingertips up my thigh so that I tingleЕ everywhere. Without taking his eyes off me, he gets up from the bed and gathers both sets of handcuffs. He grasps my left leg and snaps one cuff around my ankle. Oh! Lifting my right leg, he repeats the process so I have a pair of handcuffs attached to each ankle. I still have no idea where heТs going to attach them. УSit up,Ф he orders and I comply immediately. УNow hug your knees.Ф I blink at him then draw my legs up so they are bent in front of me and wrap my arms around them. He reaches down, lifts my chin, and plants a soft wet kiss on my lips before slipping the blindfold over my eyes. I can see nothing, all I can hear is my rapid breathing and the sound of the water lapping against the sides of the yacht as she bobs gently on the sea.
Oh my. I am so arousedЕ already. УWhatТs the safe word, Anastasia?Ф УPopsicle.Ф УGood.Ф Taking my left hand, he snaps a cuff around my wrist then repeats the process with my right. My left hand is tied to my left ankle, my right hand to the right leg. I cannot straighten my legs.Holy fuck. УNow,Ф Christian breathes, УIТm going to fuck you till you scream.Ф What? And all the air leaves my body. He grasps both of my heels and tips me back so that I fall backward on to the bed. I have no choice but to keep my legs bent. The cuffs tighten as I pull against them. HeТs rightЕ they cut into me almost to the point of painЕ This feels weird-‐being trussed up and helpless-‐on a boat. He pulls my ankles apart, and I groan. He kisses my inner thigh, and I want to squirm beneath him, but I canТt. I have no purchase to move my hips. My feet are suspended. I cannot move.Holy shit. УYouТre going to have to absorb all the pleasure, Anastasia. No moving,Ф he murmurs as he crawls up my body, kissing me along the edge of my bikini bottoms. He pulls the strings on each side, and the scraps of material fall away. I am now naked and at his mercy. He kisses my belly, nipping mynavel with his teeth. УAh,Ф I sigh. This is going to be toughЕ I had no idea. He traces soft kisses and little bites up to my breasts. УShhhЕ,Ф he soothes. УYou are so beautiful, Ana.Ф I groan, frustrated. Normally IТd be grinding my hips, responding to his touch with a rhythm of my own, but I cannot move. I moan, pulling on my restraints. The metal bites into my skin. УArgh!Ф I cry. But I really donТt care. УYou drive me crazy,Ф he whispers. УSo I am going to drive you crazy.Ф HeТs resting on me now, his weight on his elbows, and he turns his attention to my breasts. Biting, sucking, rolling my nipples between his fingers and thumbs, driving me wild. He doesnТt stop. ItТs maddening.Oh. Please. His erection pushes against me. УChristian,Ф I beg and feel his triumphant smile against my skin. УShall I make you come this way?Ф He murmurs against my nipple, causing it to harden some more. УYou know I can.Ф He suckles me hard and I cry out, pleasure lancing from my chest directly to my groin. I pull helplessly on the cuffs, swamped by the sensation. УYes,Ф I whimper. УOh, baby, that would be too easy.Ф УOhЕ please.Ф УShh.Ф His teeth scrape my chin as he trails his lips to my mouth, and I gasp. He kisses me. His skilled tongue invades my mouth, tasting, exploring, dominating, but my tongue meets his challenge, writhing against his. He tastes of cool gin and Christian Grey, and he smells of the sea. He grasps my chin, holding my head in place. УStill, baby. I want you still,Ф he whispers against my mouth. УI want to see you.Ф УOh no, Ana. YouТll feel more this way.Ф And agonizingly slowly he flexes his hips and pushes partway into me. I would normally tilt my pelvis up to meet him but I can Тt move. He withdraws. УAh! Christian, please!Ф УAgain?Ф he teases, his voice hoarse. УChristian!Ф
He pushes fractionally into me again then withdraws while kissing me, his fingers tugging at my nipple. ItТs pleasure overload. УNo!Ф УDo you want me, Anastasia?Ф УYes,Ф I beg. УTell me,Ф he murmurs, his breathing harsh, and he teases me once more-‐inЕ and out. УI want you,Ф I whimper. УPlease.Ф I hear his soft sigh against my ear. УAnd have me you will, Anastasia.Ф He rears up and slams into me. I scream, tilting my head back, pulling on the restraints as he hits my sweet spot, and I am all sensation, everywhere-‐a sweet, sweet agony, and I cannot move. He stills then circles his hips, and the motion radiates deep inside me. УWhy do you defy me, Ana?Ф УChristian, stopЕФ He circles deep inside me again, ignoring my plea, easing out slowly and then slamming into me again. УTell me. Why?Ф he hisses, and IТm vaguely aware that itТs through gritted teeth. I cry out in an incoherent wailЕ this is too much. УTell me.Ф УChristianЕФ УAna, I need to know.Ф He slams into me again, thrusting so deep, and IТm buildingЕ the feeling is so intense-‐it swamps me, spiraling out from deep within my belly, to each limb, to each biting metal restraint. УI donТt know!Ф I cry out. УBecause I can! Because I love you! Please, Christian.Ф He groans loudly and thrusts deep, again and again, over and over, and I am lost, trying to absorb the pleasure. ItТs mind-‐blowingЕ body blowingЕ I long to straighten my legs, to control my imminent orgasm, but I canТtЕ IТm helpless. IТm his, just his, to do with as he willsЕ Tears spring to my eyes. This is too intense. I canТt stop him. I donТ t want to stop himЕ I wantЕ I wantЕ oh no, oh noЕ this is tooЕ УThatТs it,Ф Christian growls. УFeel it, baby!Ф I detonate around him, again and again, round and round, screaming loudly as my orgasm rips me apart, scorching through me like a wildfire, consuming everything. I am wrung ragged, tears streaming down my face-‐my body left pulsing and shaking. And IТm aware that Christian kneels, still inside me, pulling me upright onto his lap. He clutches my head with one hand and my back with another, and he comes violently inside me while my insides continue to tremble with aftershocks. ItТs draining, itТs exhausting, itТs hellЕ itТs heaven. ItТs hedonism gone wild. Christian tears off the blindfold and kisses me. He kisses my eyes, my nose, my cheeks. He kisses away the tears, clutching my face in between his hands. УI love you, Mrs. Grey,Ф he breathes. УEven though you make me so mad-‐I feel so alive with you.Ф I donТt have the energy to open either my eyes or my mouth to respond. Very gently, he lays me back on the bed and eases out of me.
I mouth some wordless protest. He climbs off the bed and undoes the handcuffs. When IТm free, he gently rubs my wrists and ankles, then lies down beside me again, pulling me into his arms. I stretch out my legs. Oh my, that feels good. I feel good. That was, without doubt, the most intense climax I have ever endured. HmmЕ a Christian Grey Fifty Shades punishment fuck. I really must misbehave more often. A pressing need from my bladder wakes me. When I open my eyes, IТm disorientated. ItТs dark outside.Where am I? London? Paris? Oh-‐the boat. I feel her pitch and roll, and hear the quiet hum of the engines. WeТre on the move.How odd. Christian is beside me, working on his laptop, casually dressed in a white linen shirt and chino trousers, his feet bare. His hair is still wet, and I can smell his body wash fresh from the shower and his Christian smellЕHmm. УHi,Ф he murmurs, gazing down at me, his eyes warm. УHi.Ф I smile, feeling suddenly shy. УHow long have I been asleep?Ф УJust an hour or so.Ф УWeТre moving?Ф УI figured since we ate out last night and went to the ballet and the Casino that we Тd dine on board tonight. A quiet night? deux.Ф I grin at him.УWhere are we going?Ф УCannes.Ф УOkay.Ф I stretch, feeling stiff. No amount of training with Claude could have prepared me for this afternoon. I rise gingerly, needing the bathroom. Grabbing my silk robe, I hastily put it on. Why am I so shy? I feel ChristianТs eyes on me. When I glance at him, he returns to his laptop, his brow furrowed. As I absentmindedly wash my hands at the vanity unit, recalling last night at the Casino, my robe falls open. I stare at myself in the mirror, shocked. Holy fuck! What has he done to me? 3 [ артинка: pic_13.jpg] I gaze in horror at the red marks all over my breasts. Hickeys! I have hickeys! I am married to one of the most respected businessmen in the United States, and heТs given me goddamn hickeys. How did I not feel him doing this to me? I flush. The fact is I know exactly why-‐Mr. Orgasmic was using his fine-‐motor sexing skills on me. My subconscious peers over her half-‐moon specs and tuts disapprovingly, while my inner goddess slumbers on her chaise longue, out for the count. I gape at my reflection. My wrists have a red welt around them from the handcuffs. No doubt theyТll bruise. I examine my ankles-‐more welts. Holy hell, I look like IТve been in some sort of accident. I gaze at myself, trying to absorb how I look. My body is so different these days. ItТs changed subtly since IТve known himЕ IТve become leaner and fitter, and my hair is glossy and well cut. My nails are manicured, my feet pedicured, my eyebrows threaded and beautifully shaped. For the first time in my life, IТm well groomed-‐except for these hideous love bites. I donТt want to think about grooming at the moment. IТm too mad. How dare he mark me like this, like some teenager. In the short time weТve been together, heТs never given me hickeys. I look like hell. I know why heТs done this. Damn control freak.Right! My subconscious folds her arms beneath her small bosom-‐heТs gone too far this time. I stalk out of the en suite bathroom and into the walk-‐in closet, carefully avoiding even a
glance in his direction. Slipping out of my robe, I pull on my sweatpants and a camisole. I undo the braid, pick up a hairbrush from the small vanity unit, and brush out my tangles. УAnastasia,Ф Christian calls and I hear his anxiety. УAre you okay?Ф I ignore him.Am I okay? No, I am not okay. After what heТs done to me, I doubt I Тll be able to wear a swimsuit, let alone one of my ridiculously expensive bikinis, for the rest of our honeymoon. The thought is suddenly so infuriating. Howdare he? IТll give himare you okay. I seethe as fury spikes through me. I can behave like an adolescent, too! Stepping back into the bedroom, I hurl the hairbrush at him, turn, and leave-‐though not before I see his shocked expression and his lightning reaction as he raises his arm to protect his head so that the brush bounces ineffectively off his forearm and onto the bed. I storm out of our cabin, bolt upstairs and out on deck, fleeing toward the bow. I need some space to calm down. ItТs dark and the air is balmy. The warm breeze carries the smell of the Mediterranean and the scent of jasmine and bougainvillea from the shore. TheFair Lady glides effortlessly through the calm cobalt sea as I rest my elbows on the wooden railing, gazing at the distant shore where tiny lights wink and twinkle. I take a deep, healing breath and slowly begin to calm. IТm aware of him behind me before I hear him. УYouТre mad at me,Ф he whispers. УNo shit, Sherlock!Ф УHow mad?Ф УScale of one to ten, I think IТm at fifty. Apt, huh?Ф УThat mad.Ф He sounds surprised and impressed at once. УYes. Pushed to violence mad,Ф I say through gritted teeth. He stays silent as I turn and scowl at him, watching me with wide and wary eyes. I know from his expression and because heТs made no move to touch me that heТs out of his depth. УChristian, you have to stop unilaterally trying to bring me to heel. You made your point on the beach. Very effectively, as I recall.Ф He shrugs minutely.УWell, you wonТt take your top off again,Ф he murmurs petulantly. And this justifies what heТs done to me? I glare at him. УI donТt like you leaving marks on me. Well, not this many, anyway. ItТs a hard limit!Ф I hiss at him. УI donТt like you taking your clothes off in public. ThatТs a hard limit for me,Ф he growls. УI think weТve established that,Ф I hiss through my teeth. УLook at me!Ф I pull down my camisole to reveal the top of my breasts. Christian gazes at me, his eyes not leaving my face his expression wary and uncertain. HeТs not used to seeing me this mad. CanТt he see what heТs done? CanТt he see how ridiculous he is? I want to shout at him, but I refrain-‐I donТt want to push him too far. Heaven knows what heТd do. Eventually, he sighs and holds his palms up in a resigned, conciliatory gesture. УOkay,Ф he says his voice placating. УI get it.Ф Hallelujah! УGood!Ф He runs his hand through his hair.УIТm sorry. Please donТt be mad at me.Ф Finally, he looks contrite-‐using my own words back at me. УYou are such an adolescent sometimes,Ф I scold him, mulishly, but the fight has gone out of my voice, and he knows it. He steps closer and tentatively raises his hand to tuck my hair behind my ear.
УI know,Ф he acknowledges softly. УI have a lot to learn.Ф Dr. FlynnТs words come back to meЕEmotionally, Christian is an adolescent, Ana. He bypassed that phase in his life totally. HeТs channeled all his energies into succeeding in the business world, and he has beyond all expectations. His emotional world has to play catch-‐up. My heart thaws a little. УWe both do.Ф I sigh and cautiously raise my hand, placing it over his heart. He doesnТt flinch like he used to, but he stiffens. He rests his hand over mine and smiles his shy smile. УIТve just learned that youТve a good arm and a good aim, Mrs. Grey. I would never have figured that, but then I constantly underestimate you. You always surprise me. Ф I arch my eyebrow at him.УTarget practice with Ray. I can throw and shoot straight, Mr. Grey, and youТd do well to remember that.Ф УI will endeavor to do that, Mrs. Grey, or ensure that all potential projectile objects are nailed down and that you donТt have access to a gun.Ф He smirks. I smirk back, narrowing my eyes.УIТm resourceful.Ф УThat you are,Ф he whispers and releases my hand to circle his arms around me. Pulling me into an embrace, he buries his nose in my hair. I wrap my arms around him, holding him close, and feel the tension leave his body as he nuzzles me. УAm I forgiven?Ф УAm I?Ф I feel his smile.УYes,Ф he answers. УDitto.Ф We stand holding each other, my pique forgotten. He does smell good, adolescent or not. How can I resist him? УHungry?Ф he says after a while. I have my eyes closed and my head against his chest. УYes. Famished. All theЕ erЕ activity has given me an appetite. But IТm not dressed for dinner.Ф IТm sure my sweatpants and camisole would be frowned upon in the dining room. УYou look good to me, Anastasia. Besides, itТs our boat for the week. We can dress how we like. Think of it as dress down Tuesday on theCote DТAzur. Anyway, I thought weТd eat on deck.Ф УYes, IТd like that.Ф He kisses me-‐an earnest forgive-‐me kiss-‐then we wander hand in hand toward the bow where our gazpacho soup awaits. The steward serves ourcr?me brul?e and discreetly retires. УWhy do you always braid my hair?Ф I ask Christian out of curiosity. WeТre sitting adjacent to each other at the table, my lower leg curled around his. He pauses as he Тs about to pick up his dessertspoon and frowns. УI donТt want your hair catching in anything,Ф he says quietly and for a moment, heТs lost in thought. УHabit, I think,Ф he muses. Suddenly he frowns and his eyes widen, his pupils dilating with alarm. Holy shit! WhatТs he remembered? ItТs something painful, some early childhood memory, I guess. I donТt want to remind him of that. Leaning over, I put my index finger over his lips.
УNo, it doesnТt matter. I donТt need to know. I was just curious.Ф I give him a warm, reassuring smile. His look is wary, but after a moment he visibly relaxes, his relief evident. I lean over to kiss the corner of his mouth. УI love you,Ф I murmur, and he smiles his heart-‐achingly shy smile, and I melt. У I will always love you, Christian.Ф УAnd I you,Ф he says softly. УIn spite of my disobedience?Ф I raise my eyebrow. УBecause of your disobedience, Anastasia.Ф He grins. I crack my spoon through the burnt sugar crust of my dessert and shake my head. Will I ever understand this man? Hmm-‐thiscr?me brul?e is delicious. Once the steward has cleared our dessert plates, Christian reaches for the bottle of ros? and refills my glass. I check that weТre alone and ask, УWhatТs with the no going to the bathroom thing?Ф УYou really want to know?Ф He half smiles, his eyes alight with a salacious gleam. УDo I?Ф I gaze at him through my lashes as I take a sip of my wine. УThe fuller your bladder, the more intense your orgasm, Ana.Ф I blush.УOh. I see.Ф Holy cow, that explains a lot. He grins, looking far too knowing. Will I always be on the back foot with Mr. Sexpertise? УYes. WellЕФ I desperately hunt around for a change of subject. He takes pity on me. УWhat do you want to do for the rest of the evening?Ф He cocks his head to one side and gives me his lopsided grin. Whatever you want, Christian. Put your theory to the test again? I shrug. УI know what I want to do,Ф he murmurs. Grabbing his glass of wine, he rises and holds his hand out to me. УCome.Ф I take his hand and he leads me into the main salon. His iPod is in the speaker dock on the dresser. He switches it on and selects a song. УDance with me.Ф He pulls me into his arms. УIf you insist.Ф УI insist, Mrs. Grey.Ф A slinky, cheesy melody starts. Is this a Latin rhythm? Christian grins down at me and starts to move, sweeping me off my feet and taking me with him round the salon. A man with a voice like warm melted caramel croons. ItТs a song I know but can Тt place. Christian dips me low, and I yelp in surprise and giggle. He smiles, his eyes filled with humor. Then he scoops me up and spins me under his arm. УYou dance so well,Ф I say. УItТs like I can dance.Ф He gives me a sphinxlike smile but says nothing, and I wonder if itТs because he Тs thinking of herЕ Mrs. Robinson, the woman who taught him how to dance-‐and how to fuck. She hasnТt crossed my mind for a while. Christian has not mentioned her since his birthday, and as far as IТm aware, their business relationship is over. Reluctantly though, I have to admit-‐she was some teacher. He dips me low again and plants a swift kiss on my lips. УIТd miss your love,Ф I murmur, echoing the lyrics. УIТd more than miss your love,Ф he says and spins me once more. Then he sings the words softly in my ear making me swoon.
The track ends and Christian gazes down at me, his eyes dark and luminous, all humor gone, and IТm suddenly breathless. УCome to bed with me?Ф he whispers and itТs a heartfelt plea that tugs at my heart. Christian, you had me at I do-‐two and half weeks ago. But I know this is his way of apologizing and making sure all is well between us after our spat. When I wake, the sun is shining through the portholes and the water reflects shimmering patterns onto the cabin ceiling. Christian is nowhere to be seen. I stretch out and smile. HmmЕ IТll take a punishment fuck followed by makeup sex any day. I marvel what it is to go to bed with two different men-‐angry Christian and sweet let-‐me-‐make-‐it-‐ up-‐to-‐you-‐in-‐any-‐way-‐I-‐can Christian. ItТs tricky to decide which of them I like the best. I rise and head for the bathroom. Opening the door, I find Christian inside shaving, naked except for a towel wrapped around his waist. He turns and beams, not fazed that I am interrupting him. I have discovered that Christian will never lock the door if he is the only person in the room-‐the reason why is sobering, and not one I want to dwell on. УGood morning, Mrs. Grey,Ф he says, radiating his good mood. УGood morning yourself.Ф I grin back as I watch him shave. I love watching him shave. He pulls up his chin and shaves beneath it, taking long deliberate strokes, and I find myself unconsciously mirroring his actions. Pulling my upper lip down just as he does, to shave his philtrum. He turns andsmirks at me, one half of his face still covered in shaving soap. УEnjoying the show?Ф he asks. Oh, Christian, I could watch you for hours.УOne of my all-‐time favorites,Ф I murmur, and he leans down and kisses me quickly, smearing shaving soap on my face. УShall I do this to you again?Ф he whispers wickedly and holds up the razor. I purse my lips at him.УNo,Ф I mutter, pretending to sulk. УIТll wax next time. Ф I remember ChristianТs joy in London when heТd discovered that during his one meeting there, IТd shaved off my pubic hair out of curiosity. Of course I hadnТt done it to Mr. ExactingТs high standardsЕ [ артинка: pic_14.jpg] УWhat the hell have you done?Ф Christian exclaims. He cannot keep his horrified amusement to himself. He sits up in bed in our suite at Browns Hotel near Piccadilly, switches on the bedside light and gazes down at me, his mouth a startledO. It must be midnight. I blush the color of the sheets in the playroom and try to pull down my satin nightdress so he canТt see. He grabs my hand to stop me. УAna!Ф УI-‐errЕ shaved.Ф УI can see that. Why?Ф HeТs grinning from ear to ear. I cover my face with my hands. Why am I so embarrassed? УHey,Ф he says softly and pulls my hand away. УDonТt hide.Ф HeТs biting his lip so that he wonТt laugh. УTell me. Why?Ф His eyes dance with merriment. Why does he find this so funny? УStop laughing at me.Ф УIТm not laughing at you. IТm sorry. IТmЕ delighted,Ф he says. УOhЕФ УTell me. Why?Ф I take a deep breath.УThis morning, after you left for your meeting, I took a shower and was remembering all your rules.Ф
He blinks. The humor in his expression has vanished, and he regards me cautiously. УAnd I was ticking them off one by one and how I felt about them, and I remembered the beauty salon, and I thoughtЕ this is what youТd like. I wasnТt brave enough to get a wax.Ф My voice disappears into a whisper. He stares at me, his eyes glowing-‐this time not with mirth at my folly, but with love. УOh, Ana,Ф he breathes. He leans down and kisses me tenderly. УYou beguile me,Ф he whispers against my lips and kisses me once more, clasping my face in both his hands. After a breathless moment, he pulls back and leans up on one elbow. The humor is back. УI think I should do a thorough inspection of your handiwork, Mrs. Grey.Ф УWhat? No.ФHe has to be kidding! I cover myself, protecting my recently deforested area. УOh, no you donТt, Anastasia.Ф He grasps my hands and pries them away, moving nimbly so heТs between my legs and pinning my hands to my sides. He gives me a scorching look that could light dry tinder, but before I combust, he bends and skims his lips down my naked belly directly to my sex. I squirm beneath him, reluctantly resigned to my fate. УWell, what have we here?Ф Christian plants a kiss where, until this morning, I had pubic hair-‐then scrapes his bristly chin across me. УAh!Ф I exclaim.WowЕ thatТs sensitive. ChristianТs eyes dart to mine, full of salacious longing. УI think you missed a bit, Ф he mutters and tugs gently, right underneath. УOhЕ Damn,Ф I mutter, hoping this will put an end to his frankly intrusive scrutiny. УI have an idea.Ф He leaps naked out of bed and heads to the bathroom. What on earth is he doing? He returns moments later, carrying a glass of water, a mug, my razor, his shaving brush, soap, and a towel. He puts the water, brush, soap, and razor on the bedside table and gazes down at me, holding the towel. Oh no! My subconscious slams down herComplete Works of Charles Dickens, leaps up from her armchair, and puts her hands on her hips. УNo. No. No,Ф I squeak. УMrs. Grey, if a jobТs worth doing, itТs worth doing well. Lift your hips.Ф His eyes glow summer storm gray. УChristian! You are not shaving me.Ф He tilts his head to one side.УWhy ever not?Ф I flushЕ isnТt it obvious? УBecauseЕ ItТs just tooЕФ УIntimate?Ф he whispers. УAna, I crave intimacy with you-‐you know that. Besides, after some of the things weТve done, donТt get all squeamish on me now. And, I know this part of your body better than you do.Ф I gape at him. Of all the arrogantЕ true, he does-‐but still. УItТs just wrong!Ф My voice is prissy and whiney. УThis isnТt wrong-‐this is hot.Ф Hot? Really?УThis turns you on?Ф I canТt keep the astonishment out of my voice.
He snorts.УCanТt you tell?Ф He glances down at his arousal. УI want to shave you,Ф he whispers Oh, what the hell. I lie back, throwing my arm over my face so I donТt have to watch. УIf it makes you happy, Christian, go ahead. You are so kinky,Ф I mutter, as I lift my hips, and he slips the towel beneath me. He kisses my inner thigh. УOh, baby, how right you are.Ф I hear the slosh of water as he dips the shaving brush in the glass of water, then the soft swirl of the brush in the mug. He grasps my left ankle and parts my legs, and the bed dips as he sits between my legs.УIТd really like to tie you up right now,Ф he murmurs. УI promise to keep still.Ф УGood.Ф I gasp as he runs the lathered brush over my pubic bone. ItТs warm. The water in the glass must be hot. I squirm a little. It ticklesЕ but in a good way. УDonТt move,Ф Christian admonishes and applies the brush again. УOr Iwill tie you down,Ф he adds darkly, and a delicious shiver runs down my spine. УHave you done this before?Ф I ask tentatively when he reaches for the razor. УNo.Ф УOh. Good.Ф I grin. УAnother first, Mrs. Grey.Ф УHmm. I like firsts.Ф УMe, too. Here goes.Ф And with a gentleness that surprises me, he runs the razor over my sensitive flesh. УKeep still,Ф he says distractedly, and I know heТs concentrating hard. It only takes a matter of minutes before he grabs the towel and wipes all the excess lather off me. УThere-‐thatТs more like it,Ф he muses, and I finally lift my arm to look at him as he sits back to admire his handiwork. УHappy?Ф I ask, my voice hoarse. УVery.Ф He grins wickedly and slowly eases a finger inside me. [ артинка : pic_15.jpg] УBut that was fun,Ф he says his eyes gently mocking. УFor you maybe.Ф I try to pout-‐but heТs rightЕ it wasЕ arousing. УI seem to recall the aftermath was very satisfying.Ф Christian returns to finishing his shave. I glance quickly down at my fingers. Yes, it was. I had no idea that the absence of pubic hair could make such a difference. УHey, IТm just teasing. IsnТt that what husbands who are hopelessly in love with their wives do?Ф Christian tips my chin up and gazes at me, his eyes suddenly filled with apprehension as he endeavors to read my expression. HmmЕ payback time. УSit,Ф I mutter. He stares, not understanding. I push him gently toward the lone white stool in the bathroom. Perplexed, he sits down, and I take the razor from him. УAna,Ф he warns as he realizes my intention. I lean down and kiss him. УHead back,Ф I whisper. He hesitates. УTit for tat, Mr. Grey.Ф
He stares at me with wary, amused disbelief.УYou know what youТre doing?Ф he asks, his voice low. I shake my head slowly, deliberately, trying to look as serious as possible. He closes his eyes and shakes his head then tilts his head back in surrender. Holy shit, heТs going to let me shave him. My inner goddess flexes and stretches her arms outward, her fingers interlocked, palms out, limbering up. Tentatively I slide my hand into the damp hair at his forehead, gripping tightly to hold him still. He clenches his eyes closed and parts his lips as he inhales. Very gently, I stroke his razor up from his neck to his chin, revealing a path of skin beneath the lather. Christian exhales. УDid you think I was going to hurt you?Ф УI never know what youТre going to do, Ana, but no-‐not intentionally.Ф I run the razor up his neck again, clearing a wider path in the lather. УI would never intentionally hurt you, Christian.Ф He opens his eyes and circles his arms around me as I gently drag the razor down his cheek from the bottom of his sideburn. УI know,Ф he says, angling his face so I can shave the rest of his cheek. Two more strokes and IТve finished. УAll done, and not a drop of blood spilled.Ф I grin proudly. He runs his hand up my leg so that my nightdress rides up my thigh and pulls me on to his lap so that IТm astride him. I steady myself with my hands on his upper arms. He Тs really very muscular. УCan I take you somewhere today?Ф УNo sunbathing?Ф I arch a caustic brow at him. He licks his lips nervously.УNo. No sunbathing today. I thought you might prefer something else.Ф УWell, since youТve covered me in hickeys and effectively put the kibosh on that, sure, why not?Ф Wisely he chooses to ignore my tone.УItТs a drive, but itТs worth a visit from what IТve read. My dad recommended we visit. ItТs a hilltop village called Saint Paul de Vence. There are some galleries there. I thought we could pick out some paintings or sculptures for the new house, if we find anything we like.Ф Holy crap. I lean back and gaze at him. ArtЕ he wants to buy art. How can I buy art? УWhat?Ф he asks. УI know nothing about art, Christian.Ф He shrugs and smiles at me indulgently.УWeТll only buy what we like. This isnТ t about investment.Ф Investment? Jeez. УWhat?Ф he says again. I shake my head. УLook, I know we only got the architectТs drawings the other day-‐but thereТs no harm in looking, and the town is an ancient, medieval place.Ф Oh, the architect. He had to remind me ofherЕ Gia Matteo, a friend of ElliotТs who worked on ChristianТs place in Aspen. During our meetings, sheТd been all over Christian like a rash. УWhat now?Ф Christian exclaims. I shake my head. УTell me,Ф he urges. How can I tell him that I donТt like Gia? My dislike is irrational. I donТt want to come across as the jealous wife.
УYouТre not still mad about what I did yesterday?Ф He sighs and nuzzles his face between my breasts. УNo. IТm hungry,Ф I mutter, knowing full well that this will distract him from this line of questioning. УWhy didnТt you say?Ф He eases me off his lap and stands. Saint Paul de Vence is a medieval, fortified, hilltop village, one of the most picturesque places I have ever seen. I stroll arm in arm with Christian through the narrow cobblestone streets with my hand in the back pocket of his shorts. Taylor and either Gaston or Philippe-‐I canТt tell the difference between them-‐trail behind us. We pass a tree-‐ covered square where three old men, one wearing a traditional beret in spite of the heat, are playing boules. ItТs quite crowded with tourists, but I feel comfortable tucked under ChristianТs arm. There is so much to see-‐little alleys and passageways leading to courtyards with intricate stone fountains, ancient and modern sculptures, and fascinating little boutiques and shops. In the first gallery, Christian gazes distractedly at the erotic photographs in front of us, sucking gently on the arm of his aviator specs. They are the work of Florence DТelle-‐ naked women in various poses. УNot quite what I had in mind,Ф I mumble disapprovingly. They make me think of the box of photographs I found in his closet, our closet. I wonder if he ever did destroy them. УMe neither,Ф Christian says, grinning down at me. He takes my hand, and we stroll to the next artist. Idly, I wonder if I should let him take photos of me. My inner goddess nods frantically with approval. The next display is by a female painter who specializes in figurative art-‐fruit and vegetables super close up and in rich, glorious color. УI like those.Ф I point to three paintings of peppers. УThey remind me of you chopping vegetables in my apartment.Ф I giggle. ChristianТs mouth twists as he tries and fails to hide his amusement. УI thought I managed that quite competently,Ф he mutters. УI was just a bit slow, and anywayФ-‐he pulls me into an embrace-‐Уyou were distracting me. Where would you put them?Ф УWhat?Ф Christian is nuzzling my ear.УThe paintings-‐where would you put them?Ф He bites my earlobe and I feel it in my groin. УKitchen,Ф I murmur. УHmm. Nice idea, Mrs. Grey.Ф I squint at the price. Five thousand euros each.Holy shit! УTheyТre really expensive!Ф I gasp. УSo?Ф He nuzzles me again. УGet used to it, Ana.Ф He releases me and saunters over to the desk where a young woman dressed entirely in white is gaping at him. I want to roll my eyes, but turn my attention back to the paintings. Five thousand eurosЕ jeez. We have finished lunch and are relaxing over coffee at the Hotel Le Saint Paul. The view of the surrounding countryside is stunning. Vineyards and fields of sunflowers form a patchwork across the plain, interspersed here and there with neat little French farmhouses. ItТs such a clear, beautiful day we can see all the way to the sea, glinting faintly on the horizon. Christian interrupts my reverie. УYou asked me why I braid your hair,Ф he murmurs. His tone alarms me. He looksЕ guilty. УYes.ФOh, shit.
УThe crack whore used to let me play with her hair, I think. I donТt know if itТs a memory or a dream.Ф Whoa! His birth mom. He gazes at me, his expression unreadable. My heart leaps into my mouth. What do I say when he says things like this? УI like you playing with my hair.Ф My voice is hesitant. He regards me with uncertainty.УDo you?Ф УYes.Ф ItТs the truth. I grasp his hand. УI think you loved your birth mother, Christian.Ф His eyes widen and he stares at me impassively, saying nothing. Holy shit. Have I gone too far?Say something, Fifty-‐please. But he remains resolutely mute, gazing at me with fathomless gray eyes while the silence stretches between us. He looks lost. He glances down at my hand on his and he frowns. УSay something,Ф I whisper, because I cannot bear the silence any longer. He shakes his head, exhaling deeply. УLetТs go.Ф He releases my hand and stands. His expression guarded. Have I overstepped the mark? I have no idea. My heart sinks and I donТt know whether to say anything else or just let it go. I decide on the latter and follow him dutifully out of the restaurant. In the lovely narrow street, he takes my hand. УWhere do you want to go?Ф He speaks! And heТs not mad at me-‐thank heavens. I exhale, relieved, and shrug. УI am just glad youТre still speaking to me.Ф УYou know I donТt like talking about all that shit. ItТs done. Finished,Ф he says quietly. No, Christian, it isnТt. The thought saddens me, and for the first time I wonder if it will ever be finished. HeТll always be Fifty ShadesЕ my Fifty Shades. Do I want him to change? No, not really-‐only insofar as I want him to feel loved. Peeking up at him, I take a moment to admire his captivating beautyЕ and heТsmine. And itТs not just the allure of his fine, fine face and his body that has me spellbound. ItТs whatТs behind the perfection that draws me, that calls to meЕ his fragile, damaged soul. He gives me that look, down his nose, half amused, half wary, wholly sexy then tucks me under his arm, and we make our way through the tourists toward the spot where Philippe/Gaston has parked the roomy Mercedes. I slip my hand back into the back pocket of ChristianТs shorts, grateful that he isnТt mad. But, honestly, what four-‐year-‐old child doesnТt love his mom, no matter how bad a mom she is? I sigh heavily and hug him closer. I know behind us the security team lurks, and I wonder idly if theyТve eaten. Christian stops outside a small boutique selling fine jewelry and gazes in the window, then down at me. He grasps my free hand and runs his thumb across the faded red line of the handcuff mark, inspecting it. УItТs not sore.Ф I reassure him. He twists so that my other hand is freed from his pocket. He clasps that hand, too, turning it gently over to examine my wrist. The platinum Omega watch he gave me at breakfast on our first morning in London obscures the red line. The inscription still makes me swoon. Anastasia You are my More My Love, My Life Christian
In spite of everything, all his Fiftyness, my husband can be so romantic. I gaze down at the faint marks on my wrist. Then again, he can be savage sometimes. Releasing my left hand, he tilts my chin up with his fingers and scrutinizes my expression, his eyes troubled. УThey donТt hurt,Ф I repeat. He pulls my hand to his lips and plants a soft apologetic kiss on the inside of my wrist. УCome,Ф he says and leads me into the shop. УHere,Ф Christian holds open the platinum bracelet heТs just purchased. ItТs exquisite, so delicately crafted, the filigree in the shape of small abstract flowers with small diamonds at their heart. He fastens it around my wrist. ItТs wide and cuff-‐like and hides the red marks.It also cost around thirty thousand euros, I think, though I couldnТt really follow the conversation in French with the sales assistant. I have never worn anything so expensive. УThere, thatТs better,Ф he murmurs. УBetter?Ф I whisper, gazing into luminous gray eyes, conscious that the stick-‐ thin sales assistant is staring at us with a jealous and disapproving look. УYou know why,Ф Christian says uncertainly. УI donТt need this.Ф I shake my wrist and the cuff moves. It catches the afternoon light streaming through the boutique window and small sparkling rainbows dance off the diamonds all over the walls of the store. УI do,Ф he says with utter sincerity. Why? Why does he need this? Does he feel guilty? About what? The marks? His birth mother? Not confiding in me?Oh, Fifty. УNo, Christian, you donТt. YouТve given me so much already. A magical honeymoon, London, Paris, the Cote DТAzurЕ and you. IТm a very lucky girl,Ф I whisper and his eyes soften. УNo, Anastasia, IТm a very lucky man.Ф УThank you.Ф Stretching up on tiptoes, I put my arms around his neck and kiss himЕ not for giving me the bracelet but for being mine. Back in the car heТs introspective, gazing out at the fields of bright sunflowers, their heads following and basking in the afternoon sun. One of the twins-‐I think itТs Gaston-‐is driving and Taylor is beside him up front. Christian is brooding about something. I clasp his hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. Heglances at me before releasing my hand and caressing my knee. IТm wearing a short, full, blue and white skirt, and a blue, fitted, sleeveless shirt. Christian hesitates, and I donТt know if his hand is going to travel up my thigh or down my leg. I tense with anticipation at the gentle touch of his fingers and my breath catches.WhatТs he going to do? He chooses down, suddenly grasps my ankle and pulls my foot on to his lap. I swivel my backside so I am facing him in the back of the car. УI want the other one, too.Ф I glance nervously toward Taylor and Gaston, whose eyes are resolutely on the road ahead, and place my other foot on his lap. His eyes cool, he reaches over and presses a button located in his door. In front of us, a lightly tinted privacy screen slides out of a panel, and ten seconds later we are effectively on our own. WowЕ no wonder the back of this car has so much legroom. УI want to look at your ankles,Ф Christian offers his quiet explanation. His gaze is anxious. The cuff marks?JeezЕ I thought weТd dealt with this. If there are marks, they are hidden by the sandal straps. I donТt recall seeing any this morning. Gently, he strokes his
thumb up my right instep, making me wriggle. A smile plays on his lips and deftly he undoes one strap, and his smile fades as heТs confronted with the darker red marks. УDoesnТt hurt,Ф I murmur. He glances at me and his expression is sad, his mouth a thin line. He nods once as if heТs taking me at my word while I shake my sandal loose so it falls to the floor, but I know IТve lost him. HeТs distracted and brooding again, mechanically caressing my foot while he turns away to gaze out the car window once more. УHey. What did you expect?Ф I ask softly. He glances at me and shrugs. УI didnТt expect to feel like I do looking at these marks,Ф he says. Oh! Reticent one minute and forthcoming the next? HowЕFifty! How can I keep up with him? УHowdo you feel?Ф Bleak eyes gaze at me.УUncomfortable,Ф he murmurs. Oh, no. I unbuckle my seatbelt and scoot closer to him, leaving my feet in his lap. I want to crawl into his lap and hold him, and I would, if it were just Taylor in the front. But knowing Gaston is there cramps my style despite the glass. If only it were darker. I clutch his hands. УItТs the hickeys I donТt like,Ф I whisper. УEverything elseЕ what you didФ-‐ I lower my voice even further-‐Уwith the handcuffs, I enjoyed that. Well, more than enjoyed. It was mind-‐blowing. You can do that to me again anytime.Ф He shifts in his seat.УMind-‐blowing?Ф My inner goddess looks up startled from her Jackie Collins. УYes.Ф I grin. I flex my toes into his hardening crotch and see rather than hear his sharp intake of breath, his lips parting. УYou should really be wearing your seat belt, Mrs. Grey.Ф His voice is low, and I curl my toes around him once more. He inhales and his eyes darken, and he clasps my ankle in warning. Does he want me stop? Continue? He pauses, scowls then fishes his ever-‐ present BlackBerry out of his pocket to take an incoming call while glancing at his watch. His frown deepens. УBarney,Ф he snaps. Crap. Work interrupting us again. I try to remove my feet, but he tightens his fingers around my ankle. УIn the server room?Ф he says in disbelief. УDid it activate the fire suppression system?Ф Fire! I take my feet off his lap and this time he lets me. I sit back in my seat, buckle my seat belt, and fiddle nervously with the fifteen-‐thousand-‐euro bracelet. Christian presses the button in his door armrest again and the privacy glass slides down. УAnyone injured? Damage? I seeЕ When?Ф Christian glances at his watch again then runs his hand through his hair. УNo. Not the fire department or the police. Not yet anyway.Ф Holy crap! A fire? At ChristianТs office? I gape at him, my mind racing. Taylor shifts so he can hear ChristianТs conversation. УHas he? GoodЕ Okay. I want a detailed damage report. And a complete rundown of everyone who had access over the last five days, including the cleaning staffЕ Get hold of Andrea and get her to call meЕ Yeah, sounds like the argon is just as effective, worth its weight in gold.Ф Damage report? Argon? It rings a distant bell from chemistry class-‐an element, I think.
УI realize itТs earlyЕ E-‐mail me in two hoursЕ No, I need to know. Thank you for calling me.Ф Christian hangs up, then immediately punches a number into the BlackBerry. УWelchЕ GoodЕ When?Ф Christian glances at his watch yet again. УAn hour thenЕ yesЕ Twenty-‐four-‐seven at the off-‐site data storeЕ good.Ф He hangs up. УPhilippe, I need to be onboard within the hour.Ф УMonsieur.Ф Shit, itТs Philippe, not Gaston. The car surges forward. Christian glances at me, his expression unreadable. УAnyone hurt?Ф I ask quietly. Christian shakes his head.УVery little damage.Ф He reaches over and clasps my hand, squeezing it reassuringly. УDonТt worry about this. My team is on it.Ф And there he is, the CEO, in command, in control and not flustered at all. УWhere was the fire?Ф УServer room.Ф УGrey House?Ф УYes.Ф His responses are clipped, so I know he doesnТt want to talk about it. УWhy so little damage?Ф УThe server room is fitted with a state-‐of-‐the-‐art fire suppression system.Ф Of course it is. УAna, pleaseЕ donТt worry.Ф УIТm not worried,Ф I lie. УWe donТt know for sure that it was arson,Ф he says, cutting to the heart of my anxiety. My hand clutches my throat in fear. Charlie Tango and now this? What next? 4 [ артинка: pic_16.jpg] IТm restless. Christian has been holed up in the onboard study for over an hour. I have tried reading, watching TV, sunbathing-‐fully dressed sunbathing-‐but I canТt relax, and I canТt rid myself of this edgy feeling. After changing into shorts and a T-‐shirt, I remove the ludicrously expensive bangle and go to find Taylor. УMrs. Grey,Ф he says, startled from his Anthony Burgess novel. HeТs sitting in the small salon outside ChristianТs study. УIТd like to go shopping.Ф УYes maТam.Ф He stands. УIТd like to take the Jet Ski.Ф His mouth drops open.УErm.Ф He frowns, lost for words. УI donТt want to bother Christian with this.Ф He represses a sigh.УMrs. GreyЕ umЕ I donТt think Mr. Grey would be very comfortable with that, and IТd like to keep my job.Ф Oh, for heavenТs sake! I want to roll my eyes at him, but I narrow them instead, sighing heavily and expressing, I think, the right amount of frustrated indignation that I am not mistress of my own destiny. Then again, I donТt want Christian mad at Taylor-‐or me, for that matter. Striding confidently past him, I knock on the study door and enter. Christian is on his BlackBerry, leaning against the mahogany desk. He glances up. УAndrea, hold please,Ф he mutters down the phone, his expression serious. His gaze is politely expectant. Shit. Why do I feel like IТve entered the principalТs office? This man
had me in handcuffs yesterday. I refuse to be intimidated by him, heТs my husband damn it. I square my shouldersand give him a broad smile. УIТm going shopping. IТll take security with me.Ф УSure, take one of the twins and Taylor, too,Ф he says, and I know that whatever Тs happening is serious because he doesnТt question me further. I stand staring at him, wondering if I can help. УAnything else?Ф he asks. He wants me gone.Crap. УCan I get you anything?Ф I ask. He smiles his sweet shy smile. УNo, baby, IТm good,Ф he says. УThe crew will look after me.Ф УOkay.Ф I want to kiss him. Hell, I can-‐heТs my husband. Strolling purposefully forward, I plant a kiss on his lips, surprising him. УAndrea, IТll call you back,Ф he mutters. He puts the BlackBerry down on the desk behind him, pulls me into his embrace, and kisses me passionately. I am breathless when he releases me. His eyes are dark and needy. УYouТre distracting me. I need to sort this, so I can get back to my honeymoon. Ф He runs an index finger down my face and caresses my chin, tilting my face up. УOkay. IТm sorry.Ф УPlease donТt apologize, Mrs. Grey. I love your distractions.Ф He kisses the corner of my mouth. УGo spend some money.Ф He releases me. УWill do.Ф I smirk at him as I exit his study. My subconscious shakes her head and purses her lips.You didnТt tell him you were going on the Jet Ski, she chastises me in her singsong voice. I ignore herЕHarpy. Taylor is patiently waiting. УThatТs all cleared with high commandЕ can we go?Ф I smile, trying to keep the sarcasm out of my voice. Taylor doesnТt hide his admiring smile. УMrs. Grey, after you.Ф Taylor patiently talks me through the controls on the Jet Ski and how to ride it. He has a calm, gentle authority about him; heТs a good teacher. We are in the motor launch, bobbing and weaving on the calm waters of the harbor beside theFair Lady. Gaston looks on, his expression hidden by his shades, and one of theFair LadyТs crew is at the controls of the motor launch. Jeez-‐three people with me, just because I want to go shopping. ItТs ridiculous. Zipping up my life jacket, I give Taylor a beaming grin. He holds out his hand to assist me as I climb onto the Jet Ski. УFasten the strap of the ignition key around your wrist, Mrs. Grey. If you fall off, the engine will cut out automatically,Ф he explains. УOkay.Ф УReady?Т I nod enthusiastically. УPress the ignition when youТve drifted about four feet away from the boat. We Тll follow you.Ф УOkay.Ф He pushes the Jet Ski away from the launch, and it floats gently into the main harbor. When he gives me the okay sign, I press the ignition button and the engine roars into life.
УOkay, Mrs. Grey, easy does it!Ф Taylor shouts. I squeeze the accelerator. The Jet Ski lurches forward then stalls.Crap! How does Christian make it look so easy? I try again, and once again, I stall.Double crap! УJust steady on the gas, Mrs. Grey,Ф Taylor calls. УYeah, yeah, yeah,Ф I mutter under my breath. I try once more, very gently squeezing the lever, and the Jet Ski lurches forward-‐but this time it keeps going.Yes! It goes some more.Ha ha!It still keeps going! I want to shout and squeal in excitement, but I resist. I cruise gently away from the yacht into the main harbor. Behind me, I hear the throaty roar of the motor launch. When I squeeze the gas further, the Jet Ski leaps forward, skating across the water. With the warm breeze in my hair and a fine sea spray on either side of me, I feel free. Thisrocks! No wonder Christian never lets me drive. Rather than head for the shore and curtail the fun, I veer around to do a circuit of the statelyFair Lady. Wow-‐this is so muchfun. I ignore Taylor and the crew behind me and speed around the yacht for a second time. As I complete the circuit, I spot Christian on deck. I think heТs gaping at me, though itТs difficult to tell. Bravely, I lift one hand from the handlebars and wave enthusiastically at him. He looks like heТs made of stone, but finally he raises his hand in the semblance of a stiff wave. I canТt work out his expression, and something tells me I donТtwant to, so I head to the marina, speeding across the blue water of the Mediterranean that shimmers in the late afternoon sun. At the dock, I wait and let Taylor pull up ahead of me. His expression is bleak, and my heart sinks, though Gaston looks vaguely amused. I wonder briefly if something has happened to chill Gallic-‐American relations, but deep down I suspect the problem is probably me. Gaston leaps out of the motorboat and ties it to the moorings while Taylor directs me to come alongside. Very gently I ease the Jet Ski into position beside the boat and line up beside him. His expression softens a little. УJust switch off the ignition, Mrs. Grey,Ф he says calmly, reaching for the handlebars and holding out a hand to help me into the motorboat. I nimbly climb aboard, impressed that I donТt fall in. УMrs. Grey,Ф Taylor blinks nervously, his cheeks pink once more. УMr. Grey is not entirely comfortable with you riding on the Jet Ski.Ф HeТs practically squirming with embarrassment, and I realize heТs had an irate call from Christian.Oh, my poor, pathologically overprotective husband, what am I going to do with you? I smile serenely at Taylor.УI see. Well, Taylor, Mr. Grey is not here, and if heТs notentirely comfortable, IТm sure heТll give me the courtesy of telling me himself when I Тm back on board.Ф Taylor winces.УVery good, Mrs. Grey,Ф he says quietly, handing me my purse. As I climb out of the boat, I catch a glimpse of his reluctant smile, and it makes me want to smile, too. I cannot believe how fond I am of Taylor, but I really donТt appreciate being scolded by him-‐heТs not my father or my husband. Crap, ChristianТs mad-‐and he has enough to worry about at the moment. What was I thinking? As I stand on the dock waiting for Taylor to climb up, I feel my BlackBerry vibrate in my purse and fish it out. Sad?Тs УYour Love is KingФ is my ring tone for Christian-‐only for Christian. УHi,Ф I murmur. УHi,Ф he says. УIТll come back on the boat. DonТt be mad.Ф I hear his small gasp of surprise.УUmЕФ УIt was fun, though,Ф I whisper.
He sighs.УWell, far be it for me to curtail your fun, Mrs. Grey. Just be careful. Please.Ф Oh my!Permission to have fun!УI will. Anything you want from town?Ф УJust you, back in one piece.Ф УIТll do my best to comply, Mr. Grey.Ф УIТm glad to hear it, Mrs. Grey.Ф УWe aim to please,Ф I respond with a giggle. I hear his smile in his voice.УI have another call-‐laters, baby.Ф УLaters, Christian.Ф He hangs up. Jet Ski crisis averted, I think. The car is waiting, and Taylor holds the door open for me. I wink at him as I climb in, and he shakes his head in amusement. In the car, I fire up the e-‐mail on my BlackBerry. [ артинка: pic_17.jpg] From: Anastasia Grey Subject: Thank You Date: August 17, 2011 16:55 To: Christian Grey For not being too grouchy. Your loving wife xxx [ артинка: pic_18.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Trying to Stay Calm Date: August 17, 2011 16:59 To: Anastasia Grey YouТre welcome. Come back in one piece. This is not a request. x Christian Grey CEO& Overprotective Husband, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. His response makes me smile. My control freak. Why did I want to come shopping? I hate shopping. But deep down I know why, and I walk determinedly past Chanel, Gucci, Dior, and the other designer boutiques and eventually find the antidote to what ails me in a small, overstocked, touristy store. ItТs a little silver ankle bracelet with small hearts and little bells. It tinkles sweetly and it costs five euros. As soon as IТve bought it, I put it on. This is me-‐this is what I like. Immediately I feel more comfortable. I donТt want to lose touch with the girl who likes this, ever. Deep down I know that IТm not only overwhelmed by Christian himself but also by his wealth. Will I ever get used to it? Taylor and Gaston follow me dutifully through the late afternoon crowds, and I soon forget they are there. I want to buy something for Christian, something to take his mind off whatТs happening in Seattle. But what do I buy for the man who has everything? I pause in a small modern square surrounded by stores and gaze at each one in turn. When I spy an electronics store, our visit to the gallery earlier today and our visit to the Louvre come back to me. We were looking at the Venus de Milo at the timeЕ ChristianТs words echo in my head, УWe can all appreciate the female form. We love to look whether in marble or oils or satin or film.Ф It gives me an idea, a daring idea. I just need help choosing the right one, and there Тs only one person who can help me. I wrestle my BlackBerry out of my purse and call Jos?.
УWhoЕ?Ф he mumbles sleepily. УJos?, itТs Ana.Ф УAna, hi! Where are you? You okay?Ф He sounds more alert now, concerned. УIТm in Cannes in the South of France, and IТm fine.Ф УSouth of France, huh? You in some fancy hotel?Ф УUmЕ no. WeТre staying on a boat.Ф УA boat?Ф УA big boat.Ф I clarify, sighing. УI see.Ф His tone chillsЕ Shit, I should not have called him. I donТt need this right now. УJos?, I need your advice.Ф УMy advice?Ф He sounds stunned. УSure,Ф he says, and this time heТs much more friendly. I tell him my plan. Two hours later, Taylor helps me out of the motor launch onto the steps up to the deck. Gaston is helping the deckhand with the Jet Ski. Christian is nowhere to be seen, and I scurry down to our cabin to wrap his present, feeling a childish sense of delight. УYou were gone some time.Ф Christian startles me just as I am applying the last piece of tape. I turn to find him standing in the doorway to the cabin, watching me intently.Holy shit! Am I still in trouble over the Jet Ski? Or is it the fire at his office? УEverything in control at your office?Ф I ask tentatively. УMore or less,Ф he says, an annoyed frown flitting across his face. УI did a little shopping,Ф I murmur, hoping to lighten his mood, and praying his annoyance is not directed at me. He smiles warmly, and I know weТre okay. УWhat did you buy?Ф УThis,Ф I put my foot up on the bed and show him my ankle chain. УVery nice,Ф he says. He steps over to me and fondles the tiny bells so that they jingle sweetly around my ankle. He frowns again and runs his fingers lightly along the mark, sending tingles up my leg. УAnd this.Ф I hold out the box, hoping to distract him. УFor me?Ф he asks in surprise. I nod shyly. He takes the box and shakes it gently. He grins his boyish, dazzling smile and sits down beside me on the bed. Leaning over, he grasps my chin and kisses me. УThank you,Ф he says with shy delight. УYou havenТt opened it yet.Ф УIТll love it, whatever it is.Ф He gazes down at me, his eyes glowing. УI donТt get many presents.Ф УItТs hard to buy you things. You have everything.Ф УI have you.Ф УYou do.Ф I grin at him.Oh, you so do, Christian. He makes short work of the wrapping paper.УA Nikon?Ф He glances up at me, puzzled. УI know you have your compact digital camera but this is forЕ umЕ portraits and the like. It comes with two lenses.Ф He blinks at me, still not understanding. УToday in the gallery you liked the Florence DТelle photographs. And I remember what you said in the Louvre. And of course, there were those other photographs. Ф I swallow, trying my best not to recall the images I found in his closet.
He stops breathing, his eyes widening as realization dawns, and I continue hurriedly before I lose my nerve. УI thought you might, umЕ like to take pictures ofЕ me.Ф УPictures. Of you?Ф He gapes at me, ignoring the box on his lap. I nod, desperately trying to gauge his reaction. Finally he gazes back down at the box, his fingers tracing over the illustration of the camera on the front with fascinated reverence. What is he thinking? Oh, this is not the reaction I was expecting, and my subconscious glares at me like IТm a domesticated farm animal. Christiannever reacts the way I expect. He looks back up, his eyes filled with what, pain? УWhy do you think I want this?Ф he asks, bemused. No, no, no! You said youТd love itЕ УDonТt you?Ф I ask, refusing to acknowledge my subconscious who is questioning why anyone would want erotic photographs of me. Christian swallows and runs a hand through his hair, and he looks so lost, so confused. He takes a deep breath. УFor me, photos like those have usually been an insurance policy, Ana. I know IТ ve objectified women for so long,Ф he says and pauses awkwardly. УAnd you think taking pictures of me isЕ um, objectifying me?Ф All the air leaves my body, and the blood drains from my face. He scrunches up his eyes.УI am so confused,Ф he whispers. When he opens his eyes again, they are wide and wary, full of some raw emotion. Shit. Is it me? My questions earlier about his birth mom? The fire at his office? УWhy do you say that?Ф I whisper, panic rising in my throat. I thought he was happy. I thought we were happy. I thought I made him happy. I donТt want toconfuse him. Do I? My mind starts racing. He hasnТt seen Flynn in nearly three weeks. Is that it? Is that the reason heТs unraveling? Shit, should I call Flynn? And in a possibly unique moment of extraordinary depth and clarity, it comes to me-‐the fire, Charlie Tango, the Jet SkiЕ HeТs scared, heТs scared for me, and seeing these marks on my skin must bring that home. He Тs been fussing about them all day, confusing himself because heТs not used to feeling uncomfortable about inflicting pain. The thought chills me. He shrugs and once more his eyes move down to my wrist where the bangle he bought me this afternoon used to be.Bingo! УChristian, these donТt matter.Ф I hold up my wrist, revealing the fading welt. УYou gave me a safe word. Shit-‐yesterday wasfun. I enjoyed it. Stop brooding about it-‐I like rough sex, IТve told you that before.Ф I blush scarlet as I try to quash my rising panic. He gazes at me intently, and I have no idea what heТs thinking. Maybe heТs measuring my words. I stumble on. УIs this about the fire? Do you think itТs connected somehow to Charlie Tango? Is this why youТre worried? Talk to me, Christian-‐please.Ф He stares at me, saying nothing and the silence expands between us again as it did this afternoon.Holy fucking crap! HeТs not going to talk to me, I know. УDonТt overthink this Christian,Ф I scold quietly, and the words echo, disturbing a memory from the recent past-‐his words to me about his stupid contract. I reach over, take the box from his lap, and open it. He watches me passively as if IТm a fascinating alien creature. Knowing that the camera is prepped by the overly helpful salesman in the store, and ready to go, I fish it out of the box and remove the lens cap. I point the camera at him so his beautiful anxious face fills the frame. I press the button and
keep it pressed, and ten pictures of ChristianТs alarmed expression are captured digitally for posterity. УIТll objectify you then,Ф I murmur, pressing the shutter again. On the final still his lips twitch almost imperceptibly. I press again, and this time he smilesЕ a small smile, but a smile nevertheless. I hold down the button once more and see him physically relax in front of me and pout-‐a full-‐on, posed, ridiculous, УBlue SteelФ pout, and it makes me giggle.Oh, thank heavens. Mr. Mercurial is back-‐and IТve never been so pleased to see him. УI thought it wasmy present,Ф he mutters sulkily, but I think heТs teasing. УWell, it was supposed to be fun, but apparently itТs a symbol of womenТs oppression.Ф I snap away, taking more pictures of him, and watch the amusement grow on his face in super close-‐up. Then his eyes darken, and his expression changes to predatory. УYou want to be oppressed?Ф he murmurs silkily. УNot oppressed. No,Ф I murmur back, snapping again. УI could oppress you big time, Mrs. Grey,Ф he threatens, his voice husky. УI know you can, Mr. Grey. And you do, frequently.Ф His face falls.Shit. I lower the camera and stare at him. УWhatТs wrong, Christian?Ф My voice oozes frustration.Tell me! He says nothing.Gah! HeТs so infuriating. I lift the camera to my eye again. УTell me,Ф I insist. УNothing,Ф he says and abruptly disappears from the viewfinder. In one swift, smooth move, he sweeps the camera box onto the cabin floor, grabs me and pushes me down onto the bed. He sits astride me. УHey!Ф I exclaim and take more photographs of him, smiling down at me with dark intent. He grabs the camera by the lens, and the photographer becomes the subject as he points the Nikon at me and presses the shutter down. УSo, you want me to take pictures of you, Mrs. Grey?Ф he says, amused. All I can see of his face is his unruly hair and a broad grin on his sculptured mouth. УWell, for a start, I think you should be laughing,Ф he says, and he tickles me ruthlessly under my ribs, making me squeal and giggleand squirm beneath him until I grasp his wrist in a vain attempt to make him stop. His grin widens, and he renews his efforts while snapping pictures. УNo! Stop!Ф I scream. УAre you kidding?Ф he growls and puts the camera down beside us so that he can torture me with both hands. УChristian!Ф I splutter and gasp my laughing protest. He has never ever tickled me before.Fuck-‐stop! I thrash my head from side to side, trying to wiggle out from under him, giggling and pushing both of his hands away, but heТs unrelenting-‐grinning down at me, enjoying my torment. УChristian, stop!Ф I plead and he stops suddenly. Grabbing both of my hands, he holds them down on either side of my head while looming over me. I am panting and breathless with laughter. His breathing mirrors mine, and he gazes down at me withЕ what? My lungs stop functioning. Wonder? Love? Reverence? Holy cow.That look! УYou. Are. So. Beautiful,Ф he breathes. I stare up at his dear, dear face bathed in the intensity of his gaze, and itТs as if he Тs seeing me for the first time. Leaning down, he closes his eyes and kisses me, enraptured. His response is a wake-‐up call to my libidoЕ seeing him like this, undone, by me.Oh my. He releases my hands and curls his fingers around my head and into my hair, holding me gently in place, and my body rises and fills with my arousal, responding to his
kiss. And suddenly the nature of his kiss alters, no longer sweet, reverential and admiring, but carnal, deep and devouring-‐his tongue invading my mouth, taking not giving, his kiss possessing a desperate needy edge. As desire courses through my blood, awakening every muscle and sinew in its wake, I feel a frisson of alarm. Oh, Fifty, whatТs wrong? He inhales sharply and groans.УOh, what you do to me,Ф he murmurs, lost and raw. He moves suddenly, lying down on top of me, pressing me into the mattress-‐one hand cupping my chin, the other skimming over my body, my breast, my waist, my hip, and around my behind. He kisses me again, pushing his leg between mine, raising myknee, and grinding against me, his erection straining against our clothes and my sex. I gasp and moan against his lips, losing myself to his fervent passion. I dismiss the distant alarm bells in the back of my mind, knowing that he wants me, that he needs me, and that when it comes to communicatingwith me, this is his favorite form of self-‐expression. I kiss him with renewed abandon, running my fingers through his hair, fisting my hands, holding tight. He tastes so good and smells of Christian, my Christian. Abruptly, he stops, stands up, and pulls me off the bed so that I am standing in front of him, dazed. He undoes the button on my shorts and kneels quickly, yanking them and my panties down, and before I can breathe again, I am back on the bed beneath him and heТs unbuttoning his fly. Holy cow, heТs not taking off his clothes or my T-‐shirt. He holds my head and with no preamble whatsoever he thrusts himself inside me, making me cry out-‐more in surprise than anything else-‐but I can still hear the hiss of his breath forced through his clenched teeth. УYessss,Ф he hisses close to my ear. He stills, then swivels his hips once, pushing deeper, making me groan. УI need you,Ф he growls, his voice low and husky. He runs his teeth along my jaw, nipping and sucking, and then heТs kissing me again, hard. I wrap my legs and arms around him, cradling and holding him hard against me, determined to wipe out whateverТ s worrying him, and he starts to moveЕmove like heТs trying to climb inside me. Over and over, frantic, primal, desperate, and before I lose myself in the insane rhythm and pace heТs setting, I briefly wonder once more whatТs driving him, worrying him. But my body takes over, obliterating the thought, climbing and building so I am awash with sensation, meeting him thrust for thrust. Listening to his harsh breathing, labored and fierce at my ear. Knowing that heТs lost in meЕ I groan loudly, panting. ItТs so erotic-‐his need for me. I am reachingЕ reachingЕ and heТs driving me higher, overwhelming me, taking me, and I want this. I want this so muchЕ for him and for me. УCome with me,Ф he gasps, and he rears up over me so I have to break my hold around him. УOpen your eyes,Ф he orders. УI need to see you.Ф His voice is urgent, implacable. My eyes flicker open momentarily, and the sight of him above me-‐his face taut with ardor, his eyes raw and glowing. His passion and his love is my undoing, and on cue I come, throwing my head back as my body pulses around him. УOh, Ana,Ф he cries and he joins my climax, driving into me, then stilling and collapsing onto me. He rolls over so that IТm sprawled on top of him, and heТs still inside me. As I surface from my orgasm and my body steadies and calms, I want to make some quip about being objectified and oppressed, but hold my tongue, uncertain of his mood. I glance up from ChristianТs chest to examine his face. His eyes are closed and his arms are wrapped around me, clinging tight. I kiss his chest through the thin fabric of his linen shirt.
УTell me, Christian, whatТs wrong?Ф I ask softly and wait anxiously to see if even now, sated by sex, heТll tell me. I feel his arms tighten around me further, but itТs his only response. HeТs not going to talk. Inspiration hits me. УI give you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, to stand by your side in good times and in bad, to share your joy as well as your sorrow,Ф I murmur. He freezes. His only movement is to open wide his fathomless eyes and gaze at me as I continue my wedding vows. УI promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals and dreams, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, to share my hopes and dreams with you, and bring you solace in times of need.Ф I pause, willing him to talk to me. He watches me, his lips parted, but says nothing. УAnd to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.Ф I sigh. УOh, Ana,Ф he whispers and moves again, breaking our precious contact so that weТre lying side by side. He strokes my face with the back of his knuckles. УI solemnly vow that I will safeguard and hold dear and deep in my heart our union and you,Ф he whispers, his voice hoarse.УI promise to love you faithfully, forsaking all others, through the good times and the bad, in sickness or in health, regardless of where life takes us. I will protect you, trust you, and respect you. I will share your joys and sorrows and comfort you in times of need. I promise to cherish you and uphold your hopes and dreams and keep you safe at my side. All that is mine is now yours. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love from this moment on for as long as we both shall live.Ф Tears spring to my eyes. His face softens as he gazes at me. УDonТt cry,Ф he murmurs, his thumb catching and dispatching a stray tear. УWhy wonТt you talk to me? Please, Christian.Ф He closes his eyes as if in pain. УI vowed I would bring you solace in times of need. Please donТt make me break my vows.Ф He sighs and opens his eyes, his expression bleak.УItТs arson,Ф he says simply, and he looks suddenly so young and vulnerable. Oh fuck. УAnd my biggest worry is that they are after me. And if they are after me-‐Ф He stops, unable to continue. УЕ They might get me,Ф I whisper. He blanches, and I know that I have finally uncovered the root of his anxiety. I caress his face. УThank you,Ф I murmur. He frowns.УWhat for?Ф УFor telling me.Ф He shakes his head and a ghost of a smile touches his lips.УYou can be very persuasive, Mrs. Grey.Ф УAnd you can brood and internalize all your feelings and worry yourself to death. YouТll probably die of a heart attack before youТre forty, and I want you around far longer than that.Ф УMrs. Grey,youТll be the death of me. The sight of you on the Jet Ski-‐I nearly had a coronary.Ф He flops back on the bed and puts his hand over his eyes, and I feel him shudder. УChristian, itТs a Jet Ski. Even kids ride Jet Skis. Can you imagine what youТll be like when we visit your place in Aspen and I go skiing for the first time?Ф
He gasps and turns to face me, and I want to laugh at the horror on his face. УOur place,Ф he says eventually. I ignore him.УIТm a grown-‐up, Christian, and much tougher than I look. When are you going to learn this?Ф He shrugs and his mouth thins. I decide to change the subject. УSo, the fire. Do the police know about the arson?Ф УYes.Ф His expression is serious. УGood.Ф УSecurity is going to get tighter,Ф he says matter-‐of-‐factly. УI understand.Ф I glance down his body. HeТs still wearing his shorts and his shirt, and I still have my T-‐shirt on. Jeez-‐talk aboutwham, bam, thank you maТam. The thought makes me giggle. УWhat?Ф Christian asks, bemused. УYou.Ф УMe?Ф УYes. You. Still dressed.Ф УOh.Ф He glances down at himself, then back at me, and his face erupts into an enormous smile. УWell, you know how hard it is for me to keep my hands off you, Mrs. Grey-‐ especially when youТre giggling like a schoolgirl.Ф Oh yes-‐the tickling.Gah! The tickling. I move quickly so that IТm straddling him, but immediately understanding my evil intent, he grabs both of my wrists. УNo,Ф he says and he means it. I pout at him but decide that heТs not ready for this. УPlease donТt,Ф he whispers. УI couldnТt bear it. I was never tickled as a child.Ф He pauses and I relax my hands so he doesnТt have to restrain me. УI used to watch Carrick with Elliot and Mia, tickling them, and it looked like such fun, but IЕ IЕФ I place my index finger on his lips. УHush, I know,Ф I murmur and plant a soft kiss on his lips where my finger has just been, then curl up on his chest. The familiar painful ache swells inside me, and the profound sadness that I hold in my heart for Christian as a little boy seizes me once more. I know I would do anything for this man because I love him so. He puts his arms around me and presses his nose into my hair, inhaling deeply as he gently strokes my back. I donТt know how long we lie there, but eventually I break the comfortable silence between us. УWhat is the longest youТve gone without seeing Dr. Flynn?Ф УTwo weeks. Why? Do you have an incorrigible urge to tickle me?Ф УNo.Ф I chuckle. УI think he helps you.Ф Christian snorts.УHe should; I pay him enough.Ф He pulls my hair gently, turning my face to look up at him. I lift my head and meet his gaze. УAre you concerned for my well-‐being, Mrs. Grey?Ф he asks softly. УEvery good wife is concerned for her beloved husbandТs well-‐being, Mr. Grey, Ф I admonish him teasingly. УBeloved?Ф he whispers, and itТs a poignant question hanging between us. УVery much beloved.Ф I scoot up to kiss him, and he smiles his shy smile. УDo you want to go ashore to eat, Mrs. Grey?Ф
УI want to eat wherever youТre happiest.Ф УGood.Ф He grins. УAboard it is where I can keep you safe. Thank you for my present.Ф He reaches over and grabs the camera, and holding it at armТs length, he snaps the two of us in our post tickling, postcoital, post confessional embrace. УThe pleasure is all mine,Ф I smile and his eyes light up. [ артинка: pic_19.jpg] We wander through the opulent, gilt splendor of the eighteenth century Palace of Versailles. Once a humble hunting lodge, it was transformed by the Roi Soleil into a magnificent, lavish seat of power, but even before the eighteenth century ended it saw the last of those absolute monarchs. The most stunning room by far is the Hall of Mirrors. The early afternoon light floods through windows to the west, lighting up the mirrors that line the east wall and illuminating the gold leaf d?cor and the enormous crystal chandeliers. ItТs breathtaking. УInteresting to see what becomes of a despotic megalomaniac who isolates himself in such splendor,Ф I murmur to Christian as he stands at my side. He gazes down and cocks his head to one side, regarding me with humor. УYour point, Mrs. Grey?Ф УOh, merely an observation, Mr. Grey.Ф I wave my hand airily at the surroundings. Smirking, he follows me to the center of the room where I stand and gawk at the view-‐the spectacular gardens reflected in the looking glass and the spectacular Christian Grey, my husband, reflected back at me, hisgaze bright and bold. УI would build this for you,Ф he whispers. УJust to see the way the light burnishes your hair, right here, right now.Ф He tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. УYou look like an angel.Ф He kisses me just below my earlobe, takes my hand in his, and murmurs, УWe despots do that for the women we love.Ф I flush at his compliment, smiling shyly, and follow him through the vast room. [ а ртинка: pic_20.jpg] УWhat are you thinking about?Ф Christian asks softly, taking a sip of his after-‐ dinner coffee. УVersailles.Ф УOstentatious, wasnТt it?Ф He grins. I glance around the more understated grandeur of theFair LadyТs dining room and purse my lips. УThis is hardly ostentatious,Ф Christian says, a tad defensively. УI know. ItТs lovely. The best honeymoon a girl could want.Ф УReally?Ф he says, genuinely surprised. And he smiles his shy smile. УOf course it is.Ф УWeТve only got two more days. Is there anything youТd like to see or do?Ф УJust be with you,Ф I murmur. He rises from the table, comes around, and kisses me on the forehead. УWell, can you do without me for about an hour? I need to check my e-‐mails, find out whatТs happening at home.Ф УSure,Ф I say brightly, trying to hide my disappointment that IТll be without him for an hour. Is it freaky that I want to be with him all the time? My subconscious presses her lips into a narrow, unattractive line and nods vigorously. УThank you for the camera,Ф he murmurs and heads for the study. Back in our cabin I decide to catch up on my correspondence and open my laptop. There are e-‐mails from my mom and from Kate, giving me the latest gossip from home and asking how the honeymoon is going. Well, great, until someone decided to burn down GEH
IncЕ As I finish my response to my mom, an e-‐mail from Kate hits my inbox. [ артин ка: pic_21.jpg] From: Katherine L. Kavanagh Date: August 17, 2011 11:45 PST To: Anastasia Grey Subject: OMG!!!! Ana, just heard about the fire at ChristianТs office. Do you think itТs arson? K xox Kate is online! I jump on to my newfound toy-‐Skype messaging-‐and see that sheТ s available. I quickly type a message. [ артинка: pic_22.jpg] [ артинка: pic_23.jpg] [ артинка: pic_24.jpg] [ артинка: pic_25.jpg] [ артинка : pic_26.jpg] [ артинка: pic_27.jpg] [ артинка: pic_28.jpg] [ артинк а: pic_29.jpg] [ артинка: pic_30.jpg] [ артинка: pic_31.jpg] [ артин ка: pic_32.jpg] Oh no-‐IТm sure Christian doesnТt want this broadcast all over Seattle. I try my patented distract-‐tenacious-‐Kavanagh technique. [ артинка: pic_33.jpg] [ арти нка: pic_34.jpg] [ артинка: pic_35.jpg] [ артинка: pic_36.jpg] [ арт инка: pic_37.jpg] [ артинка: pic_38.jpg] [ артинка: pic_39.jpg] [ ар тинка: pic_40.jpg] [ артинка: pic_41.jpg] [ артинка: pic_42.jpg] [ а ртинка: pic_43.jpg] [ артинка: pic_44.jpg] [ артинка: pic_45.jpg] [ артинка: pic_46.jpg] [ артинка: pic_47.jpg] [ артинка: pic_48.jpg] [ артинка: pic_49.jpg] Trust Kate to be on the trail of this story. I roll my eyes and shut Skype down before Christian sees the chat. He wouldnТt appreciate the ex-‐Dom comment, and IТm not sure heТs entirely exЕ I sigh loudly. Kate knows everything, since our tipsy evening three weeks before the wedding when I finally succumbed to the Kavanagh inquisition. It was a relief to finally talk to someone. I glance at my watch. ItТs been about an hour since dinner, and I am missing my husband. I head back on deck to see if heТs finished his work. [ артинка: pic_50.jpg] I am in the Hall of Mirrors and Christian is standing beside me, smiling down at me with love and affection.You look like an angel. I beam back at him, but when I glance into the looking glass, IТm standing on my own and the room is gray and drab.No! My head whips back to his face, to find his smile is sad and wistful. He tucks my hair behind my ear. Then he turns wordlessly and walks away slowly, the sound of his footsteps echoing off the mirrors as he paces the enormous room to the ornate double doors at the endЕ a man on his own, a man with no reflectionЕ and I wake, gasping for air, as panic seizes me. УHey,Ф he whispers from beside me in the darkness, his voice filled with concern. Oh, heТs here. HeТs safe. Relief courses through me. УOh, Christian,Ф I mumble, trying to bring my pounding heartbeat under control. He wraps me in his arms, and itТs only then that I realize I have tears streaming down my face. УAna, what is it?Ф He strokes my cheek, wiping away my tears, and I can hear his anguish. УNothing. A silly nightmare.Ф
He kisses my forehead and my tearstained cheeks, comforting me.УJust a bad dream, baby,Ф he murmurs. УIТve got you. IТll keep you safe.Ф Drinking in his scent, I curl around him, trying to ignore the loss and devastation I felt in my dream, and in that moment, I know that my deepest, darkest fear would be losing him. 5 [ артинка: pic_51.jpg] I stir, instinctively reaching for Christian only to feel his absence. Shit! I wake instantly and look anxiously around the cabin. Christian is watching me from the small, upholstered armchair by the bed. Stooping down, he places something on the floor, then moves and stretches out on the bed beside me. HeТs dressed in his cut-‐offs and a gray T-‐ shirt. УHey, donТt panic. EverythingТs fine,Ф he says, his voice gentle and soothing-‐ like heТs talking to a cornered wild animal. Tenderly, he smooths the hair back from my face and I calm immediately. I see him trying and failing to hide his own concern. УYouТve been so jumpy these last couple of days,Ф he murmurs, his eyes wide and serious. УIТm okay, Christian.Ф I give him my brightest smile because I donТt want him to know how worried I am about the arson incident. The painful recollection of how I felt when Charlie Tango was sabotaged and Christian went missing-‐the hollow emptiness, the indescribable pain-‐keeps resurfacing;the memory nagging me and gnawing at my heart. Keeping the smile fixed on my face, I try to repress it. УWere you watching me sleep?Ф УYes,Ф he says gazing at me steadily, studying me. УYou were talking.Ф УOh?ФShit! What was I saying? УYouТre worried,Ф he adds, his eyes filled with concern. Is there nothing I can keep from this man? He leans forward and kisses me between my brows. УWhen you frown, a littleV forms just here. ItТs soft to kiss. DonТt worry baby, I Тll look after you.Ф УItТs not me IТm worried about, itТs you,Ф I grumble. УWhoТs looking after you?Ф He smiles indulgently at my tone.УIТm big enough and ugly enough to look after myself. Come. Get up. ThereТs one thing IТd like to do before we head home.Ф He grins at me, a big boyish yes-‐IТm-‐really-‐only-‐twenty-‐eight grin, and swats my behind. I yelp, startled, and realize that today weТre going back to Seattle and my melancholy blossoms. I donТt want to leave. IТve relished being with him 24-‐7, and IТm not ready to share him with his company and his family. WeТve had a blissful honeymoon. With a few ups and downs, I admit, but thatТs normal for a newly married couple, surely? But Christian cannot contain his boyish excitement, and despite my dark thoughts, itТs infectious. When he rises gracefully off the bed, I follow, intrigued. What has he got in mind? Christian straps the key to my wrist. УYou want me to drive?Ф УYes.Ф Christian grins. УThatТs not too tight?Ф УItТs fine. Is that why youТre wearing a life jacket?Ф I arch my eyebrow. УYes.Ф I canТt help my giggle. УSuch confidence in my driving capabilities, Mr. Grey.Ф УAs ever, Mrs. Grey.Ф УWell, donТt lecture me.Ф
Christian holds his hands up in a defensive gesture, but heТs smiling. УWould I dare?Ф УYes you would, and yes you do, and we canТt pull over and argue on the sidewalk here.Ф УFair point well made, Mrs. Grey. Are we going to stand on this platform all day debating your driving skills or are we going to have some fun?Ф УFair point well made, Mr. Grey.Ф I grasp the handlebars of the Jet Ski and clamber on. Christian climbs on behind me and kicks us away from the yacht. Taylor and two of the deckhands look on in amusement. Sliding forward, Christian wraps his arms around me and snuggles his thighs against mine.Yes, this is what I like about this form of transport. I insert in the ignition key and push the start button, and the engine roars into life. УReady?Ф I shout to Christian over the noise. УAs IТll ever be,Ф he says, his mouth close to my ear. Gently, I pull on the lever and the Jet Ski moves away from theFair Lady, far too sedately for my liking. Christian tightens his embrace. I pull on the gas some more, and we shoot forward and IТm delighted when we donТt stall. УWhoa!Ф Christian calls from behind, but the exhilaration in his voice is palpable. I speed past theFair Lady toward the open sea. WeТre anchored outside the Port de Plaisance de Saint-‐Claude-‐du-‐Var, and Nice C?te dТAzur Airport is nestled in the distance, built into the Mediterranean, or so it seems. IТve heard the odd plane landing since we arrived last night. I decide we need to take a closer look. We shoot toward it, skipping rapidly over the waves. I love this, and IТm thrilled ChristianТs letting me drive. All the worry IТve felt over the past two days melts away as we skim toward the airport. УNext time we do this weТll have two Jet Skis,Ф Christian shouts. I grin because the thought of racing him is thrilling. As we zoom over the cool blue sea toward what looks like the end of the runway, the thundering roar of a jet overhead suddenly startles me as it comes in to land. ItТs so loud I panic, swerving and hitting the throttle at the same time, mistaking it for a brake. УAna!Ф Christian shouts, but itТs too late. IТm catapulted off the side of the Jet Ski, arms and legs flailing, taking Christian with me in a spectacular splash. Screaming, I plunge into the crystal blue sea and swallow a nasty mouthful of the Mediterranean. The water is cold this far from the shore, but I surface within a split second, courtesy of my life jacket. Coughing and spluttering, I wipe the seawater from my eyes and look around for Christian. HeТs already swimming toward me. The Jet Ski floats inoffensively a few feet away from us, its engine silent. УYou okay?Ф His eyes are full of panic, as he reaches me. УYes,Ф I croak, but I cannot contain my elation.See, Christian? ThatТs the worst that can happen on a Jet Ski! He pulls me into his embrace, then grabs my head between his hands, examining my face closely. УSee, that wasnТt so bad!Ф I grin as we tread water. Eventually he smirks at me, obviously relieved.УNo, I guess it wasnТt. Except IТ m wet,Ф he grumbles, but his tone is playful. УIТm wet, too.Ф УI like you wet.Ф He leers.
УChristian!Ф I scold, trying for faux righteous indignation. He grins, looking gorgeous, then leans in and kisses me hard. When he pulls away, IТm breathless. His eyes are darker, hooded and heated, and IТm warm in spite of the cold water. УCome. LetТs head back. Now we have to shower. IТll drive.Ф [ артинк а: pic_52.jpg] We laze in the British Airways first class lounge at Heathrow in London, waiting for our connecting flight to Seattle. Christian is engrossed in theFinancial Times. I pull out his camera, wanting to take some photographs of him. He looks so sexy in his trademark white linen shirt and jeans, and his aviator specs tucked into theV of his open shirt. The flash disturbs him. He blinks up at me and smiles his shy smile. УHow are you, Mrs. Grey?Ф he asks. УSad to be going home,Ф I murmur. УI like having you to myself.Ф He clasps my hand and lifting it to his lips, grazes my knuckles with a sweet kiss.У Me too.Ф УBut?Ф I ask, hearing that small word unsaid at the end of his simple statement. He frowns.УBut?Ф he repeats disingenuously. I tilt my head to one side, gazing at him with thetell me expression I have been perfecting over the last couple of days. He sighs, putting his newspaper down.УI want this arsonist caught and out of our lives.Ф УOh.Ф That seems fair enough, but IТm surprised by his bluntness. УIТll have WelchТs balls on a platter if he lets anything like that happen again. Ф A shiver runs down my spine at his menacing tone. He gazes at me impassively, and I donТt know if heТs daring me to be flippant or what. I do the only thing I can think of to ease the sudden tension between us and raise the camera and snap another photograph. [ артинка: pic_53.jpg] УHey, sleepyhead, weТre home,Ф Christian murmurs. УHmm,Ф I mumble, reluctant to leave my tantalizing dream of Christian and me on a picnic blanket at Kew Gardens. I am so tired. Travelling is exhausting, even in first class. WeТve been up for more than eighteen hours straight, I think-‐in my fatigue IТve lost track. I hear my door open, andChristian is leaning over me. He unbuckles my seat belt and lifts me into his arms, waking me. УHey, I can walk,Ф I protest sleepily. He snorts.УI need to carry you over the threshold.Ф I put my arms around his neck.УUp all thirty floors?Ф I give him a challenging smile. УMrs. Grey, I am very pleased to announce that youТve put on some weight.Ф УWhat?Ф He grins.УSo if you donТt mind, weТll use the elevator.Ф He narrows his eyes at me, though I know heТs teasing. Taylor opens the doors to the Escala lobby and smiles.УWelcome home Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey.Ф УThanks, Taylor,Ф says Christian. I give Taylor the briefest of smiles and watch him head back to the Audi where Sawyer waits at the wheel. УWhat do you mean IТve put on weight?Ф I glare at Christian. His grin broadens, and he clasps me closer to his chest as he carries me across the lobby. УNot much,Ф he assures me but his face darkens suddenly. УWhat is it?Ф I try to keep the alarm in my voice under control.
УYouТve put on some of the weight you lost when you left me,Ф he says quietly as he summons the elevator. A bleak expression crosses his face. His sudden, surprising anguish tugs at my heart.УHey.Ф I curl my fingers around his face and into his hair, pulling him toward me. УIf I hadnТt gone, would you be standing here, like this, now?Ф His eyes melt, the color of a storm cloud, and he smiles his shy smile, my favorite smile.УNo,Ф he says and steps into the elevator still holding me. He leans down and kisses me gently. УNo, Mrs. Grey, I wouldnТt. But I would know I could keep you safe, because you wouldnТt defy me.Ф He sounds vaguely regretfulЕShit. УI like defying you.Ф I test the waters. УI know. And itТs made me soЕ happy.Ф He smiles down at me through his bemusement. Oh, thank heavens.УEven though IТm fat?Ф I whisper. He laughs.УEven though youТre fat.Ф He kisses me again, more heated this time, and I fist my fingers in his hair, holding him against me, our tongues twisting in a slow sensual dance with each other. When the elevator pings to a halt at the penthouse, we are both breathless. УVery happy,Ф he murmurs. His smile is darker now, his eyes hooded and full of salacious promise. He shakes his head as if to recover himself and carries me into the foyer. УWelcome home, Mrs. Grey.Ф He kisses me again, more chastely this time, and gives me the patented-‐Christian-‐Grey-‐full-‐gigawatt smile, his eyes dancing with joy. УWelcome home, Mr. Grey.Ф I beam, my heart answering his call, brimming with my own joy. I think ChristianТs going to put me down, but he doesnТt. He carries me through the foyer, across the corridor, into the great room, and deposits me on the kitchen island where I sit with my legs dangling. He retrieves two champagne flutes from the kitchen cupboard and a bottle of chilled champagne from the fridge-‐our favorite Bollinger. He deftly opens the bottle, not spilling a drop, pours the pale pink champagne into each glass, and hands one to me. Taking up the other, he gently parts my legs and moves forward to stand between them. УHereТs to us, Mrs. Grey.Ф УTo us, Mr. Grey,Ф I whisper conscious of my shy smile. We clink glasses and take a sip. УI know youТre tired,Ф he whispers, rubbing his nose against mine. УBut IТd really like to go to bedЕ and not to sleep.Ф He kisses the corner of my mouth. УItТs our first night back here, and youТre really mine.Ф His voice drifts off as he plants soft kisses down my throat. ItТs early evening in Seattle, and I am dog-‐tired, but desire blooms deep in my belly and my inner goddess purrs. Christian is slumbering peacefully beside me as I stare at the pink and golden streaks of the new dawn through the vast windows. His arm is draped loosely over my breasts, and I try to match his breathing in an effort to get back to sleep, but itТs hopeless. IТm wide-‐awake, my body clock on Greenwich mean time, my mind racing. So much has happened in the last three weeks-‐who am I kidding, the last three months-‐that I feel that my feet havenТt touched the ground. And now here I am, Mrs. Anastasia Grey, married to the most delicious, sexy, philanthropic, absurdly wealthy mogul a woman could meet. How did this all happen so fast? I shift onto my side to gaze at him, appraising his beauty. I know he watches me sleep, but I rarely get the opportunity to repay the compliment. He looks so young and
carefree in his sleep, his long lashes fanned against his cheek, a light smattering of stubble covering his jaw, and his sculptured lips slightly parted, relaxed as he breathes deeply. I want to kiss him, to push my tongue between his lips, run my fingers over his soft yet prickly stubble. I really have to fight the urge not to touch him, not to disturb him. HmmЕ I could just tease his earlobe with my teeth and suck. My subconscious glares up at me over her half-‐moon spectacles, distracted from volume two of theComplete Works of Charles Dickens, and mentally chastises me.Leave the poor man alone, Ana. I am back to work on Monday. We have today to reacclimatize, then weТre back into our routine. It will be odd not seeing Christian for a whole day after spending almost every minute together for the last three weeks. I lie back and stare at the ceiling. One would think that spending so much time together would be suffocating, but thatТs just not the case. IТve loved each and every minute, even our fighting. Every minuteЕ except the news of the fire at Grey House. My blood chills. Who could want to harm Christian? My mind gnaws at this mystery again. Someone in his business? An ex? A disgruntled employee? I have no idea, and Christian remains tight-‐lipped about it all, drip feeding me the minimum information he can get away with in a bid to protect me. I sigh. My shining white-‐and-‐dark knight always trying to protect me. How am I going to make him open up more? He stirs and I still, not wanting to wake him, but it has the opposite effect.Damn! Two bright eyes gaze at me. УWhatТs wrong?Ф УNothing. Go back to sleep.Ф I try my reassuring smile. He stretches, rubs his face, and then grins at me. УJet lag?Ф he asks. УIs that what this is? I canТt sleep.Ф УI have the universal panacea right here, just for you, baby.Ф He grins like a schoolboy, making me roll my eyes and giggle at the same time. And just like that my dark thoughts are swept aside and my teeth find his earlobe. Christian and I cruise north on the I-‐5 toward the 520 bridge in the Audi R8. We are going to have lunch at his parentsТ, a welcome-‐home Sunday lunch. All the family will be there, plus Kate and Ethan. It will be strange to be in so much company when weТve been on our own all this time. I havenТt had an opportunity to talk to Christian most of the morning. He was holed up in his study while I unpacked. He said I didnТt have to, that Mrs. Jones would do it. But thatТs something else I need to get used to-‐having domestic help. I run my fingers absentmindedly over the leather upholstery of the door to distract my wandering thoughts. I feel out of sorts. Is it the jet lag? The arson? УWould you let me drive this?Ф I ask, surprised that I say the words out loud. УOf course,Ф Christian replies, smiling. УWhatТs mine is yours. If you dent it, though, I will take you into the Red Room of Pain.Ф He glances swiftly at me with a malicious grin. Shit! I gape at him. Is this a joke? УYouТre kidding. YouТd punish me for denting your car? You love your car more than you love me?Ф I tease. УItТs close,Ф he says and reaches across to squeeze my knee. УBut she doesnТ t keep me warm at night.Ф УIТm sure it could be arranged. You could sleep in her,Ф I snap. Christian laughs.УWe havenТt been home one day and youТre kicking me out already?Ф He seems delighted. I gaze at him and he gives me a face-‐splitting grin, and although I want to be mad at him, itТs impossible when heТs in this kind of mood. Now
that I think about it, heТs been in a better frame of mind ever since he left his study this morning. And it dawns on me that IТm being petulant because we have to go back to reality, and I donТt know if heТs going to revert to the more closed pre-‐honeymoon Christian, or if IТll get to keep the new improved version. УWhy are you so pleased?Ф I ask. He flashes yet another grin at me.УBecause this conversation is soЕ normal.Ф УNormal!Ф I snort. УNot after three weeks of marriage! Surely.Ф His smile slips. УIТm kidding, Christian,Ф I mutter quickly, not wanting to kill his mood. It strikes me how unsure he is of himself sometimes. I suspect that heТs always been like this, but has just hidden his uncertainty beneath an intimidating exterior. HeТs very easy to tease, probably because heТs not used to it. ItТs a revelation, and I marvel again that we still have so much to learn about each other. УDonТt worry, IТll stick to the Saab,Ф I mutter and turn to stare out of the window, trying to shake off my bad mood. УHey. WhatТs wrong?Ф УNothing.Ф УYouТre so frustrating sometimes, Ana. Tell me.Ф I turn and smirk at him.УBack at you, Grey.Ф He frowns.УIТm trying,Ф he says softly. УI know. Me too.Ф I smile and my mood brightens a little. Carrick looks ridiculous in his chefТs hat andLicensed to Grill apron as he stands at the barbecue. Every time I look at him, it makes me smile. In fact, my spirits have lifted considerably. We are all sitting around the table on the terrace of the Grey family home, enjoying the late summer sun. Grace and Mia are setting various salads out on the table, while Elliot and Christian trade friendly insults and discuss plans for the new house, and Ethan and Kate grill me about our honeymoon. Christian keeps hold of my hand, his fingers toying with my wedding and engagement rings. УSo if you can get the plans finalized with Gia, I have a window September through to mid-‐November and can get the whole crew on it,Ф Elliot says as he stretches and drops an arm around KateТs shoulder, making her smile. УGia is due to come over to discuss the plans tomorrow evening,Ф replies Christian. УI hope we can finalize everything then.Ф He turns and looks expectantly at me. OhЕ this is news. УSure.Ф I smile at him, mostly for the benefit of his family, but my spirits take a nosedive again. Why does he make these decisions without telling me? Or is it the thought of Gia-‐all lush hips, full breasts, expensive designer clothes, and perfume-‐smiling too provocatively at my husband? My subconscious glares at me.HeТs given you no reason to be jealous. Shit, I am up and down today. WhatТs wrong with me? УAna,Ф Kate exclaims, snapping me out of my reverie. УYou still in the South of France?Ф УYes,Ф I reply with a smile. УYou look so well,Ф she says, though she frowns as she says it. УYou both do.Ф Grace beams while Elliot refills our glasses. УTo the happy couple.Ф Carrick grins and raises his glass, and everyone around the table echoes the sentiment.
УAnd congratulations to Ethan for getting into the psych program at Seattle,Ф chips in Mia proudly. She gives him an adoring smile, and Ethan smirks at her. I wonder idly if sheТs made any headway with him. ItТs difficult to tell. I listen to the banter around the table. Christian is running through our extensive itinerary over the last three weeks, embellishing here and there. He sounds relaxed and in control, the worry of the arsonist forgotten. I, on the other hand, donТt seem to be able to shake my mood. I pick at my food. Christian said I was fat yesterday.He was joking! My subconscious glares at me again. Elliot accidentally knocks his glass onto the terrace, startling everyone, and thereТs a sudden flurry of activity to get it cleaned up. УI am going to take you to the boathouse and finally spank you in there if you don Тt snap out of this mood,Ф Christian whispers to me. I gasp with shock, turn, and gape at him.What? Is he teasing me? УYou wouldnТt dare!Ф I growl at him and from deep inside I feel a familiar, welcome excitement. He cocks an eyebrow at me. Of course he would. I glance quickly at Kate across the table. SheТs watching us with interest. I turn back to Christian, narrowing my eyes at him. УYouТd have to catch me first-‐and IТm wearing flats,Ф I hiss. УIТd have fun trying,Ф he whispers with a licentious grin, and Ithink heТs joking.I blush. Confusingly, I feel better. As we finish our dessert of strawberries and cream, the heavens open and unexpectedly soak us. We all leap up to clear the plates and glasses from the table, depositing them in the kitchen. УGood thing the weather held off till we finished,Ф Grace says pleased, as we drift into the back room den. Christian sits down at the shiny black upright piano, presses the quiet pedal, and starts to play a familiar tune that I canТt immediately place. Grace asks me for my impressions of Saint Paul de Vence. She and Carrick went years ago during their honeymoon, and it occurs to me that this is a good omen, seeing how happy they are together now. Kate and Elliot are cuddling on one of the large overstuffed couches, while Ethan, Mia, and Carrick are deep in a conversation about psychology, I think. Suddenly, as one, all the Greys stop talking and gape at Christian. What? Christian is singing softly to himself at the piano. Silence descends on us all as we strain to hear his soft, lyrical voice. IТve heard him sing before, havenТt they? He stops, suddenly conscious of the deathly hush thatТs fallen over the room. Kate glances questioningly at me and I shrug. Christian turns on the stool and frowns, embarrassed to realize heТs become the center of attention. УGo on,Ф Grace urges softly. УIТve never heard you sing, Christian. Ever.Ф She stares at him in wonder. He sits on the piano stool, looking absently at her, and after a beat, he shrugs. His eyes flicker nervously to me, then over to the French windows. The rest of the room suddenly eruptsin self-‐conscious chatter, and IТm left watching my dear husband. Grace distracts me, grasping my hands then suddenly folding me in her arms. УOh, darling girl! Thank you, thank you,Ф she whispers, so only I can hear. It brings a lump to my throat. УUmЕФ I hug her back, not really sure why I am being thanked. Grace smiles, her eyes shining, and kisses my cheek.Oh myЕ What have I done? УI am going to make some tea,Ф she says, her voice hoarse with unshed tears. I amble over to Christian who is now standing, staring out through the French windows.
УHi,Ф I murmur. УHi.Ф He puts his arm around my waist, pulling me to him, and I slip my hand into the back pocket of his jeans. We gaze out at the rain. УFeeling better?Ф I nod. УGood.Ф УYou certainly know how to silence a room.Ф УI do it all the time,Ф he says and he grins at me. УAt work, yes, but not here.Ф УTrue, not here.Ф УNo oneТs ever heard you sing? Ever?Ф УIt appears not,Ф he says dryly. УShall we go?Ф I gaze up at him, trying to gauge his mood. His eyes are soft and warm and slightly bemused. I decide to change the subject. УYou going to spank me?Ф I whisper, and suddenly there are butterflies in my stomach. Perhaps this is what I needЕ this is what I have been missing. He gazes down at me, his eyes darkening. УI donТt want to hurt you, but IТm more than happy to play.Ф I glance nervously around the large room, but we are out of earshot. УOnly if you misbehave, Mrs. Grey.Ф He bends and murmurs in my ear. How can he put so much sensual promise into six words? УIТll see what I can do.Ф I grin. Once weТve said our good-‐byes, we walk over to the car. УHere.Ф Christian throws me the keys to the R8. УDonТt bend itФ-‐he adds in all seriousness-‐Уor I will be fucking pissed.Ф My mouth goes dry. HeТs letting me drive his car? My inner goddess whips on her leather driving gloves and flat shoes.Oh yes! she cries. УAre you sure?Ф I mouth, stunned. УYes, before I change my mind.Ф I donТt think I have ever grinned so hard. He rolls his eyes and opens the driverТ s door so that I can climb in. I start the engine before heТs even reached the passenger side, and he jumps in quickly. УEager, Mrs. Grey?Ф he asks with a wry smile. УVery.Ф Slowly, I ease the car backward and turn it in the driveway. I manage not to stall it, surprising myself. Boy, is the clutch sensitive. Carefully navigating the driveway, I glance in my rearview mirror and see Sawyer and Ryan climb into the Audi SUV. I had no idea our security had followed us here. I pause before I set out onto the main road. УYouТre sure about this?Ф УYes,Ф Christian says tightly, telling me heТs not sure about this at all.Oh, my poor, poor Fifty. I want to laugh at both him and myself because IТm nervous and excited. A small part of me wants to lose Sawyer and Ryan just for the kicks. I check for traffic then inch the R8 out onto the road. Christian curls up with tension and I canТt resist. The road is clear. I put my foot down on the gas and we shoot forward. УWhoa! Ana!Ф Christian shouts. УSlow down-‐youТll kill us both.Ф I immediately ease off the gas. Wow, can this car move! УSorry,Ф I mutter, trying to sound contrite and failing miserably. Christian smirks at me, to hide his relief, I think.
УWell, that counts as misbehaving,Ф he says casually and I slow right down. I glance in the rearview mirror. No sign of the Audi, just a solitary dark car with tinted windows behind us. I imagine Sawyer and Ryan flustered, frantic to catch up, and for some reason this gives me a thrill. But not wanting to give my dear husband a coronary, I decide to behave and drive steadily with growing confidence toward the 520 bridge. Suddenly, Christian swears and struggles to pull his BlackBerry from the pocket of his jeans. УWhat?Ф he snaps angrily at whoever it is on the other end of the line. УNo.Ф he says and glances behind us. УYes. She is.Ф I briefly check the rearview mirror, but I donТt see anything odd, just a few cars behind us. The SUV is about four cars back, and weТre all cruising at an even pace. УI see.Ф Christian sighs long and hard and rubs his forehead with his fingers, tension radiates off him.SomethingТs wrong. УYesЕ I donТt know.Ф He glances at me and lowers the phone from his ear. У WeТre fine. Keep going,Ф he says calmly, smiling at me, but the smile doesnТt touch his eyes.Shit! Adrenaline spikes through my system. He picks the phone up again. УOkay on the 520. As soon as we hit itЕ YesЕ I will.Ф He slots the phone into the speaker cradle, putting it on hands-‐free. УWhatТs wrong, Christian?Ф УJust look where youТre going, baby,Ф he says softly. IТm heading for the on-‐ramp of the 520 in the direction of Seattle. When I glance at Christian, heТs staring straight ahead. УI donТt want you to panic,Ф he says calmly. УBut as soon as weТre on the 520 proper, I want you to step on the gas. WeТre being followed.Ф Followed! Holy shit. My heart lurches into my mouth, pounding, my scalp prickles and my throat constricts with panic. Followed by whom? My eyes dart to the rearview mirror and, sure enough, the dark car I saw earlier is still behind us. Fuck! Is that it? I squint through the tinted windshield to see whoТs driving, but I see nothing. УKeep your eyes on the road, baby,Ф Christian says gently, not in the truculent tone he normally uses where my driving is concerned. Get a grip! I mentally slap myself to subdue the dread thatТs threatening to swamp me. Suppose whoeverТs following us is armed? Armed and after Christian!Shit! IТ m hit by a wave of nausea. УHow do we know weТre being followed?Ф My voice is a breathy, squeaky, whisper. УThe Dodge behind us has false license plates.Ф How does he know that? I signal as we approach the 520 from the on-‐ramp. ItТs late afternoon, and although the rain has stopped, the roadway is wet. Fortunately, the traffic is reasonably light. RayТs voice echoes in my head from one of his many self-‐defense lectures.УItТs the panic thatТs gonna kill you or get you seriously hurt, Annie.Ф I take a deep breath, trying to bring my breathing under control. Whoever is following us is after Christian. As I take another deep steadying breath, my mind begins to clear and my stomach settles. I have to keep Christian safe. I wanted to drive this car, and I wanted to drive it fast.Well, hereТs my chance. I grip the steering wheel and take a final glance in my rearview mirror. The Dodge is closing on us.
I slow right down, ignoring ChristianТs sudden panicked glance at me, and time my entrance on to the 520 so that the Dodge has to slow and stop to wait for a gap in the traffic. I drop a gear and floor it. The R8 shoots forward, slamming us both into the backs of our seats. The speedometer whips up to seventy-‐five miles per hour. УSteady, baby,Ф Christian says calmly, though IТm sure heТs anything but calm. I weave between the two lines of traffic like a black counter in a game of checkers, effectively jumping the cars and trucks. WeТre so close to the lake on this bridge, itТs as if weТre driving on the water. I studiously ignore the angry, disapproving looks from other drivers. Christian clutches his hands together in his lap, keeping as still as possible, and in spite of my fevered thoughts, I wonder vaguely if heТsdoing it so he doesnТt distract me. УGood girl,Ф he breathes in encouragement. He glances behind him. УI canТt see the Dodge.Ф УWeТre right behind the unsub, Mr. Grey.Ф SawyerТs voice comes through the hands-‐free. УHeТs trying to catch up with you, sir. WeТre going to try and come alongside, put ourselves between your car and the Dodge.Ф Unsub? What does that mean? УGood. Mrs. Grey is doing well. At this rate, provided the traffic remains light-‐and from what I can see it is-‐weТll be off the bridge in a few minutes.Ф УSir.Ф We flash past the bridge control tower, and I know weТre half way across Lake Washington. When I check my speed, IТm still doing seventy-‐five. УYouТre doing really well, Ana,Ф Christian murmurs again as he gazes out the back of the R8. For a fleeting moment, his tone reminds me of our first encounter in his playroom when he patiently encouraged me through our first scene. The thought is distracting, and I dismiss it immediately. УWhere am I headed?Ф I ask, moderately calmer. I have the feel of the car now. It Тs a joy to drive, so quiet and easy to handle itТs hard to believe how fast we are going. Driving at this speed in this car is easy. УMrs. Grey, head for I-‐5 and then south. We want to see if the Dodge follows you all the way,Ф Sawyer says over the hands-‐free. The traffic lights on the bridge are green-‐ thank heavens-‐and I race onward. I glance nervously at Christian, and he smiles reassuringly. Then his face falls. УShit!Ф he swears softly. There is a line of traffic ahead as we come off the bridge, and I have to slow. Glancing anxiously in the mirror once more, I think I spot the Dodge. УTen or so cars back?Ф УYeah, I see it,Ф Christian says, peering through the narrow rear window. УI wonder who the fuck it is?Ф УMe too. Do we know if itТs a man driving?Ф I blurt out toward the cradled BlackBerry. УNo, Mrs. Grey. Could be a man or woman. The tint is too dark.Ф УA woman?Ф Christian says. I shrug.УYour Mrs. Robinson?Ф I suggest, not taking my eyes off the road. Christian stiffens and lifts the BlackBerry out of its cradle.УSheТs not my Mrs. Robinson,Ф he growls. УI havenТt spoken to her since my birthday. And Elena wouldnТ t do this. ItТs not her style.Ф
УLeila?Ф УSheТs in Connecticut with her parents. I told you.Ф УAre you sure?Ф He pauses.УNo. But if sheТd absconded, IТm sure her folks would have let Flynn know. LetТs discuss this when weТre home. Concentrate on what youТre doing.Ф УBut it might just be some random car.Ф УIТm not taking any risks. Not where youТre concerned,Ф he snaps. He replaces the BlackBerry in its cradle so weТre back in contact with our security team. Oh shit. I donТt want to rattle Christian right nowЕ later maybe. I hold my tongue. Fortunately, the traffic is thinning a little. I am able to speed over the Mountlake intersection toward the I-‐5, weaving through the cars again. УWhat if we get stopped by the cops?Ф I ask. УThat would be a good thing.Ф УNot for my license.Ф УDonТt worry about that,Ф he says. Unexpectedly, I hear humor in his voice. I put my foot down again, and hit seventy-‐five. Boy, this car can move. I love it-‐she Тs so easy. I touch eighty-‐five. I donТt think I have ever driven this fast. I was lucky if my Beetle ever hit fifty miles an hour. УHeТs cleared the traffic and picked up speed.Ф SawyerТs disembodied voice is calm and informative. УHeТs doing ninety.Ф Shit! Faster! I press down on the gas and the car purrs to ninety-‐five miles per hour as we approach the I-‐5 intersection. УKeep it up, Ana,Ф Christian murmurs. I slow momentarily as we glide onto the I-‐5. The interstate is fairly quiet, and IТm able to cross straight over to the fast lane in a split second. As I put my foot down, the glorious R8 zooms forward, and we tear down the left lane, lesser mortals pulling over to let us pass. If I wasnТt so frightened, I might really enjoy this. УHeТs hit one hundred miles per hour, sir.Ф УStay with him, Luke,Ф Christian barks at Sawyer. Luke? A truck lurches into the fast lane-‐Shit!-‐and I have to slam on the brakes. УFucking idiot!Ф Christian curses the driver as we lurch forward in our seats. I am grateful for our seatbelts. УGo around him, baby,Ф Christian says through clenched teeth. I check my mirrors and cut right across three lanes. We speed past the slower vehicles and then cut back to the fast lane. УNice move, Mrs. Grey,Ф Christian murmurs appreciatively. УWhere are the cops when you need them?Ф УI donТt want a ticket, Christian,Ф I mutter, concentrating on the highway ahead. УHave you had a speeding ticket driving this?Ф УNo,Ф he says, but glancing quickly at him, I can see his smirk. УHave you been stopped?Ф УYes.Ф УOh.Ф УCharm, Mrs. Grey. It all comes down to charm. Now concentrate. WhereТs the Dodge, Sawyer?Ф УHeТs just hit one hundred and ten, sir.Ф Sawyer says.
Holy fuck! My heart leaps once more into my mouth. Can I drive any faster? I push my foot down once more and streak past the traffic. УFlash the headlights,Ф Christian orders when a Ford Mustang wonТt move. УBut that would make me an asshole.Ф УSo be an asshole!Ф he snaps. Jeez. Okay!УUm, where are the headlights?Ф УThe indicator. Pull it toward you.Ф I do it, and the Mustang moves aside though not before the driver waves his finger at me in a none-‐too-‐complimentary manner. I zoom past him. УHeТs the asshole,Ф Christian says under his breath, then barks at me, Уget off on Stewart.Ф Yes sir! УWeТre taking the Stewart Street exit,Ф Christian says to Sawyer. УHead straight to Escala, sir.Ф I slow, check my mirrors, signal, then move with surprising ease across four lanes of the highway and down the off-‐ramp. Merging onto Stewart Street, we head south. The street is quiet, with few vehicles.Where is everyone? УWeТve been damned lucky with the traffic. But that means the Dodge has, too. DonТt slow down, Ana. Get us home.Ф УI canТt remember the way,Ф I mutter, panicked by the fact the Dodge is still on our tail. УHead south on Stewart. Keep going until I tell you when.Ф Christian sounds anxious again. I zoom past three blocks but the lights change to yellow on Yale Avenue. УRun them, Ana,Ф Christian shouts. I jump so hard I floor the gas pedal, throwing us both back in our seats, speeding through the now red light. УHeТs taking Stewart,Ф Sawyer says. УStay with him, Luke.Ф УLuke?Ф УThatТs his name.Ф A quick glance and I can see Christian glaring at me as if IТm crazy. УEyes on the road!Ф he snaps. I ignore his tone.УLuke Sawyer.Ф УYes!Ф He sounds exasperated. УAh.Ф How did I not know this? The man has been following me to work for the last six weeks, and I didnТt even know his first name. УThatТs me, maТam,Ф Sawyer says, startling me, though heТs speaking in the calm, monotone voice he always uses. УThe unsub is heading down Stewart, sir. HeТs really picking up speed.Ф УGo, Ana. Less of the fucking chitchat,Ф Christian growls. УWeТre stopped at the first light on Stewart.Ф Sawyer informs us. УAna-‐quick-‐in here,Ф Christian shouts, pointing to a parking lot on the south side of Boren Avenue. I turn, the tires screeching in protest as I swerve into the crowded lot. УDrive around. Quick,Ф Christian orders. I drive as fast as I can to the back, out of sight of the street. УIn there.Ф Christian points to a space.Shit! He wants me to park it.Crap! УJust fucking do it,Ф he says. So I doЕ perfectly. Probably the only time I have ever parked perfectly.
УWeТre hidden in the parking lot between Stewart and Boren,Ф Christian says into the BlackBerry. УOkay, sir.Ф Sawyer sounds irritated. УStay where you are; weТll follow the unsub.Ф Christian turns to me, his eyes searching my face.УYou okay?Ф УSure,Ф I whisper. Christian smirks.УWhoeverТs driving that Dodge canТt hear us, you know.Ф And I laugh. УWeТre passing Stewart and Boren now, sir. I see the lot. HeТs gone straight past you, sir.Ф Both of us sag simultaneously with relief. УWell done, Mrs. Grey. Good driving.Ф Christian gently strokes my face with his fingertips, and I jump at the contact, inhaling deeply. I had no idea I was holding my breath. УDoes this mean youТll stop complaining about my driving?Ф I ask. He laughs-‐a loud cathartic laugh. УI wouldnТt go so far as to say that.Ф УThank you for letting me drive your car. Under such exciting circumstances, too. Ф I try desperately to keep my voice light. УMaybe I should drive now.Ф УTo be honest, I donТt think I can climb out right now to let you sit here. My legs feel like Jell-‐O.Ф Suddenly IТm shuddering and shaking. УItТs the adrenaline, baby,Ф he says. УYou did amazingly well, as usual. You blow me away, Ana. You never let me down.Ф He touches my cheek tenderly with the back of his hand, his face full of love, fear, regret-‐so many emotions at once-‐and his words are my undoing. Overwhelmed, a strangled sob escapes from my constricted throat, and I start to cry. УNo, baby, no. Please donТt cry.Ф He reaches over and, despite the limited space we have, pulls me over the handbrake console to cradle me in his lap. Smoothing my hair off my face, he kisses my eyes, then my cheeks, and I curl my arms around him and sob quietly into his neck. He buries his nose in my hair and wraps me in his arms, holding me tight and we sit, neither of us saying anything, just holding each other. SawyerТs voice startles us. УThe unsub has slowed outside Escala. HeТs casing the joint.Ф УFollow him,Ф Christian snaps. I wipe my nose on the back of my hand and take a deep steadying breath. УUse my shirt.Ф Christian kisses my temple. УSorry,Ф I mutter, embarrassed by my crying. УWhat for? DonТt be.Ф I wipe my nose again. He tips my chin up and plants a gentle kiss on my lips.УYour lips are so soft when you cry, my beautiful, brave girl,Ф he whispers. УKiss me again.Ф Christian stills, one hand on my back, the other on my behind. УKiss me,Ф I breathe, and I watch his lips part as he inhales sharply. Leaning across me, he takes the BlackBerry out of its cradle, and tosses it onto the driverТs seat beside my sandaled feet. Then his mouth is on me as he moves his right hand into my hair, holding me in place, and lifts his left to cradle my face. His tongue invades my mouth, and I welcome it. Adrenaline turns to lust streaking through my body. I clasp his face, running my fingers over his sideburns, relishing the taste of him. He groans at my fevered response,
low and deep in his throat, and my belly tightens swift and hard with carnal desire. His hand moves down my body, brushing my breast, my waist, and down to my backside. I shift fractionally. УAh!Ф he says and breaks away from me, breathless. УWhat?Ф I mutter against his lips. УAna, weТre in a car lot in Seattle.Ф УSo?Ф УWell, right now I want to fuck you, and youТre shifting around on meЕ itТs uncomfortable.Ф My craving spirals out of control at his words, tightening all my muscles below my waist once more. УFuck me then.Ф I kiss the corner of his mouth. I want him. Now. That car chase was exciting. Too exciting. TerrifyingЕ and the fear has jump-‐started my libido. He leans back to gaze at me, his eyes dark and hooded. УHere?Ф His voice is husky. My mouth goes dry. How can he turn me on with one word?УYes. I want you. Now.Ф He tilts his head to one side and stares at me for a few moments.УMrs. Grey, how very brazen,Ф he whispers, after what feels like an eternity. His hand tightens around my hair at my nape, holding me firmly in place, and his mouth is on mine again, more forcefully this time. His other hand skims down my body, down over my behind and lower still to my mid-‐thigh. My fingers curl into his overlong hair. УIТm so glad youТre wearing a skirt,Ф he murmurs as he slips his hand beneath my blue and white patterned skirt to caress my thigh. I squirm once more on his lap and the air hisses between his teeth. УKeep still,Ф he growls. He cups my sex with his hand, and I still immediately. His thumb brushes over my clitoris, and my breath catches in my throat as pleasure jolts like electricity deep, deep, deep inside me. УStill,Ф he whispers. He kisses me once more as his thumb circles gently around me through the sheer fine lace of my designer underwear. Slowly he eases two fingers passed my panties and inside me. I groan and flex my hips toward his hand. УPlease,Ф I whisper. УOh, Mrs. Grey. YouТre so ready,Ф he says, sliding his fingers in and out, tortuously slowly. УDo car chases turn you on?Ф УYou turn me on.Ф He smiles a wolfish grin and withdraws his fingers suddenly, leaving me wanting. He scoops his arm under my knees and, taking me by surprise, he lifts me and swings me around to face the windshield. УPlace your legs either side of mine,Ф he orders, putting his legs together in the middle of the footwell. I do as IТm told, placing my feet on the floor on either side of his. He runs his hands down my thighs, then back, pulling up my skirt. УHands on my knees, baby. Lean forward. Lift that glorious ass in the air. Mind your head.Ф Shit! We really are going to do this, in a public parking lot. I quickly scan the area in front of us and see no one, but feel a thrill coursing through me. IТm in a public lot! This is sohot! Christian shifts beneath me, and I hear the telltale sound of his zipper. Putting one arm around my waist and with his other hand tugging my lacy panties sideways, he impales me in one swift move.
УAh!Ф I cry out, grinding down on him, and his breath hisses through his teeth. His arm snakes around me up to my neck and he grasps me under my chin. His hand spreads across my neck, pulling me back and tilting my head to one side so he can kiss my throat. His other hand grips my hip and together we start to move. I push up with my feet, and he tilts himself into me-‐in and out. The sensation isЕ I groan loudly. ItТs so deep this way. My left hand curls around the hand brake, my right hand braced against my door. His teeth graze my earlobe and he tugs-‐itТs almost painful. He bucks again and again into me. I rise and fall, and as we establish a rhythm, he moves his hand around beneath my skirt to the apex of my thighs, and his fingers gently tease my clitoris through the sheer finery of my panties. УAh!Ф УBe. Quick,Ф he breathes into my ear through gritted teeth, his hand still curled around my neck beneath my chin. УWe need to do this quick, Ana.Ф And he increases the pressure of his fingers against my sex. УAh!Ф I feel the familiar build of pleasure, bunching deep and thick inside me. УCome on, baby,Ф he rasps at my ear. УI want to hear you.Ф I moan again, and I am all sensation, my eyes tightly closed. His voice at my ear, his breath on my neck, pleasure radiating out from where his fingers tease my body and where he slams deep inside me, and I am lost. My body takes control, craving release. УYes,Ф Christian hisses in my ear and I open my eyes briefly, staring wildly at the cloth roof of the R8, and I scrunch them closed again as I come around him. УOh, Ana,Ф he murmurs in wonder, and he wraps his arms around me and rams into me one last time and stills as he climaxes deep inside. He runs his nose along my jaw and softly kisses my throat, my cheek, my temple as a lie on him, my head lolling against his neck. УTension relieved, Mrs. Grey?Ф Christian closes his teeth around my earlobe again and tugs. My body is drained, totally exhausted, and I mewl. I feel his smile against me. УCertainly helped with mine,Ф he adds, shifting me off him. УLost your voice?Ф УYes,Ф I murmur. УWell arenТt you the wanton creature? I had no idea you were such an exhibitionist.Ф I sit up immediately, alarmed. He tenses.УNo oneТs watching are they?Ф I glance anxiously around the car lot. УDo you think IТd let anyone watch my wife come?Ф He strokes his hand down my back reassuringly, but the tone of his voice sends shivers down my spine. I turn to gaze at him and grin impishly. УCar sex!Ф I exclaim. He grins and tucks a strand of hair behind my ear.УLetТs head back. IТll drive. Ф He opens the door to let me climb off his lap and out into the parking lot. When I glance down heТs quickly doing up his fly. He follows me out and then holds the door open for me to climb back in. Strolling quickly around to the driverТs side, he climbs in beside me, retrieves the BlackBerry, and makes a call. УWhereТs Sawyer?Ф he snaps. УAnd the Dodge? How come SawyerТs not with you?Ф He listens intently to Ryan, I assume. УHer?Ф he gasps. УStick with her.Ф Christian hangs up and gazes at me.
Her! The driver of the car? Who could that be-‐Elena? Leila? УThe driver of the Dodge is female?Ф УSo it would appear,Ф he says quietly. His mouth presses into a thin angry line. УLetТs get you home,Ф he mutters. He starts up the R8 with a roar and reverses smoothly out of the space. УWhereТs the, erЕ unsub? What does that mean by the way? Sounds very BDSM.Ф Christian smiles briefly as he eases the car out of the lot and back onto Stewart Street. УIt stands for Unknown Subject. Ryan is ex-‐FBI.Ф УEx-‐FBI?Ф УDonТt ask.Ф Christian shakes his head. ItТs obvious heТs deep in contemplation. УWell, where is this female unsub?Ф УOn the I-‐5, heading south.Ф He glances at me, his eyes grim. Jeez-‐from passionate to calm to anxious in the space of a few moments. I reach over and caress his thigh, running my fingers leisurely up the inside seam of his jeans, hoping to improve his mood. He takes his hand off the steering wheel and stops the slow ascent of my hand. УNo,Ф he says. УWeТve made it this far. You donТt want me to have an accident three blocks from home.Ф He raises my hand to his lips and plants a cool kiss on my index finger to take the sting out of his rebuke. Cool, calm, authoritativeЕ My Fifty. And for the first time in a while hemakes me feel like a wayward child. I withdraw my hand and sit quietly for a moment. УFemale?Ф УApparently so.Ф He sighs, turns into the underground garage at Escala, and punches the access code into the security keypad. The gate swings open and he drives on, smoothly parking the R8 in its designated space. УI really like this car,Ф I murmur. УMe too. And I like how you handled it-‐and how you managed not to break it.Ф УYou can buy me one for my birthday,Ф I smirk at him. ChristianТs mouth drops open as I climb out of the car. УA white one, I think,Ф I add, leaning down and smirking at him. He smiles.УAnastasia Grey, you never cease to amaze me.Ф I shut the door and walk to the end of the car to wait for him. Gracefully he climbs out, watching me with that lookЕ that look that calls to something deep inside me. I know this look well. Once heТs in front of me, he leans down and whispers, УYou like the car. I like the car. IТve fucked you in itЕ perhaps I should fuck you on it.Ф I gasp. And a sleek silver BMW pulls into the garage. Christian glances at it anxiously, then with annoyance and smirks down at me. УBut it looks like we have company. Come.Ф He grabs my hand and heads for the garage elevator. He pushes the call button and as we wait, the driver of the BMW joins us. HeТs young, casually dressed, with long, layered, dark hair. He looks like he works in the media. УHi,Ф he says, smiling warmly at us. Christian puts his arm around me and nods politely. УIТve just moved in. Apartment sixteen.Ф УHello.Ф I return his smile. He has kind, soft brown eyes.
The elevator arrives and we all walk in. Christian glances down at me, his expression unreadable. УYouТre Christian Grey,Ф the young man says. Christian gives him a tight smile. УNoah Logan.Ф He holds out his hand. Reluctantly, Christian takes it. УWhich floor?Ф Noah asks. УI have to input a code.Ф УOh.Ф УPenthouse.Ф УOh.Ф Noah smiles broadly. УOf course.Ф He presses the button for the eighth floor and the doors close. УMrs. Grey, I presume.Ф УYes.Ф I give him a polite smile and we shake hands. Noah flushes a little as he gazes at me a fraction too long. I mirror his flush and ChristianТs arm tightens around me. УWhen did you move in?Ф I ask. УLast weekend. I love the place.Ф ThereТs an awkward pause before the elevator stops at NoahТs floor. УGreat to meet you both,Ф he says sounding relieved and steps out. The doors close silently behind him. Christian taps in the entry code and the elevator ascends again. УHe seemed nice,Ф I murmur. УIТve never met any of the neighbors before.Ф Christian scowls.УI prefer it that way.Ф УThatТs because youТre a hermit. I thought he was pleasant enough.Ф УA hermit?Ф УHermit. Stuck in your ivory tower,Ф I state matter-‐of-‐factly. ChristianТs lips twitch with amusement. УOur ivory tower. And I think you have another name to add to the list of your admirers, Mrs. Grey.Ф I roll my eyes.УChristian, you think everyone is an admirer.Ф УDid you just roll your eyes at me?Ф My pulse quickens.УI sure did,Ф I whisper, my breath catching in my throat. He cocks his head to one side, wearing his smoldering, arrogant, amused expression.УWhat shall we do about that?Ф УSomething rough.Ф He blinks to hide his surprise.УRough?Ф УPlease.Ф УYou want more?Ф I nod slowly. The doors to the elevator open and weТre home. УHow rough?Ф he breathes, his eyes darkening. I gaze at him, saying nothing. He closes his eyes for a moment, and then grabs my hand and hauls me into the foyer. When we burst through the double doors, Sawyer is standing in the hallway, looking expectantly at the two of us. УSawyer, IТd like to be debriefed in an hour,Ф Christian says. УYes, sir.Ф Turning, Sawyer heads back into TaylorТs office. We have an hour! Christian glances down at me.УRough?Ф I nod. УWell, Mrs. Grey, youТre in luck. IТm taking requests today.Ф
6 [ артинка: pic_54.jpg] УDo you have anything in mind?Ф Christian murmurs, pinning me with his bold gaze. I shrug, suddenly breathless and agitated. I donТt know if itТs the chase, the adrenaline, my earlier bad mood-‐I donТt understand, but I want this, and I want it badly. A puzzled expression flits across ChristianТs face. УKinky fuckery?Ф he asks, his words a soft caress. I nod, feeling my face flame. Why am I embarrassed by this? I have done all manner of kinky fuckery with this man.HeТs my husband, damn it! Am I embarrassed because I want this and IТm ashamed to admit it? My subconscious glares at me.Stop overthinking. УCarte blanche?Ф He whispers the question, eyeing me speculatively as if heТs trying to read my mind. Carte blanche? Holy fuck-‐what will that entail?УYes,Ф I murmur nervously, as excitement blooms deep inside me. He smiles a slow sexy smile. УCome,Ф he says and tugs me toward the stairs. His intention is clear.Playroom! My inner goddess wakes from her post-‐R8-‐sex slumber, wide-‐eyed and raring to go. At the top of the stairs, he releases my hand and unlocks the playroom door. The key is on theYes Seattle keychain that I gave him not so long ago. УAfter you, Mrs. Grey,Ф he says and swings the door open. The playroom smells reassuringly familiar, of leather and wood and fresh polish. I blush, knowing that Mrs. Jones must have been in here cleaning while we were away on our honeymoon. As we enter, Christian switches on the lights and the dark red walls are illuminated with soft, diffused light. I stand gazing at him, anticipation running thick and heavy through my veins.What will he do? He locks the door and turns. Inclining his head to one side, he regards me thoughtfully and then shakes his head, amused. УWhat do you want, Anastasia?Ф he asks gently. УYou.Ф My response is breathy. He smirks.УYouТve got me. YouТve had me since you fell into my office.Ф УSurprise me then, Mr. Grey.Ф His mouth twists with repressed humor and carnal promise.УAs you wish, Mrs. Grey.Ф He folds his arms and raises one long index finger to his lips while he appraises me. УI think weТll start by ridding you of your clothes.Ф He steps forward. Grasping the front of my short denim jacket, he opens it and pushes it over my shoulders so it falls to the floor. He clasps the hem of my black camisole. УLift your arms.Ф I obey, and he peels it off over my head. Leaning down, he plants a soft kiss on my lips, his eyes glowing with an alluring mix of lust and love. The camisole joins my jacket on the floor. УHere,Ф I whisper gazing nervously at him as I remove the hair tie from around my wrist and hold it up for him. He stills, and his eyes widen briefly but give nothing away. Finally, he takes the small band. УTurn around,Ф he orders. Relieved, I smile to myself and oblige immediately. Looks like weТve overcome that little hurdle. He gathers my hair and braids it quickly and efficiently before fastening it with the tie. He tugs the braid, pulling my head back. УGood thinking, Mrs. Grey,Ф he whispers in my ear, then nips my earlobe. УNow turn around and take your skirt off. Let it fall to the floor.Ф He releases me and steps back as I turn to face him. Not taking my eyes off his, I unbutton the waistband of my skirt and ease the zipper down. The full skirt fans out and falls to the floor, pooling at my feet.
УStep out from your skirt,Ф he orders. As I step toward him, he kneels swiftly down in front of me and grasps my right ankle. Deftly, he unbuckles my sandals one at a time while I lean forward, balancing myself with a hand on the wall under the pegs that used to hold all his whips, crops and paddles. The flogger and the riding crop are the only implements that remain. I eye them with curiosity.Will he use those? Having removed my shoes so IТm just in my lacy bra and panties, Christian sits back on his heels, gazing up at me. УYouТre a fine sight, Mrs. Grey.Ф Suddenly he kneels up, grabs my hips and pulls me forward, burying his nose in the apex of my thighs. УAnd you smell of you and me and sex,Ф he says inhaling sharply.УItТs intoxicating.Ф He kisses me through my lace panties, while I gasp at his words-‐my insides liquefying. HeТs just soЕnaughty. Gathering up my clothes and sandals, he stands in one swift, graceful move, like an athlete. УGo and stand beside the table,Ф he says calmly, pointing with his chin. Turning, he strides over to the museum chest of wonder. He glances back and smirks at me.УFace the wall,Ф he commands. УThat way you wonТt know what IТm planning. We aim to please, Mrs. Grey, and you wanted a surprise.Ф I turn away from him listening acutely-‐my ears suddenly sensitive to the slightest sound. HeТs good at this-‐building my expectations, stoking my desireЕ making me wait. I hear him put my shoes down and, I think, my clothes on the chest, followed by the telltale clatter of his shoes as they drop to the floor, one at a time. HmmЕ love barefoot Christian. A moment later, I hear him pull open a drawer. Toys! Oh, I love, love, love this anticipation. The drawer closes and my breathing spikes. How can the sound of a drawer render me a quivering mess? It makes no sense. The subtle hiss of the sound system coming to life tells me itТs going to be a musical interlude. A lone piano starts, muted and soft, and mournful chords fill the room. ItТs not a tune I know. The piano is joined by an electric guitar.What is this? A manТs voice speaks and I can just make out the words, something about not being frightened of dying. Christian pads leisurely toward me, his bare feet slapping on the wooden floor. I sense him behind me as a woman starts to singЕ wailЕ sing? УRough, you say, Mrs. Grey?Ф he breathes in my left ear. УHmm.Ф УYou must tell me to stop if itТs too much. If you say stop, I will stop immediately. Do you understand?Ф УYes.Ф УI need your promise.Ф I inhale sharply.Shit, what is he going to do?УI promise,Ф I murmur breathless, recalling his words from earlier:I donТt want to hurt you, but IТm more than happy to play. УGood girl.Ф Leaning down, he plants a kiss on my naked shoulder then hooks a finger beneath my bra strap and traces a line across my back beneath the strap. I want to moan. How does he make the slightest touch so erotic? УTake it off,Ф he whispers at my ear, and hurriedly I oblige and let my bra fall to the floor. His hands skim down my back, and he hooks both of his thumbs into my panties and slides them down my legs. УStep,Ф he orders. Once more I do as IТm told, stepping out of my panties. He plants a kiss on my backside and stands.
УI am going to blindfold you so that everything will be more intense.Ф He slips an airline eye mask over my eyes, and my world is plunged into the darkness. The woman singing moans incoherentlyЕ a haunting, heartfelt melody. УBend down and lie flat on the table.Ф His words are softly spoken. УNow.Ф Without hesitation, I bend over the side of the table and rest my torso on the highly polished wood, my face flush against the hard surface. ItТs cool against my skin and it smells vaguely of beeswax with a citrus tang. УStretch your arms up and hold on to the edge.Ф OkayЕ Reaching forward, I clutch the far edge of the table. ItТs quite wide, so my arms are fully extended. УIf you let go, I will spank you. Do you understand?Ф УYes.Ф УDo you want me to spank you, Anastasia?Ф Everything south of my waist tightens deliciously. I realize IТve wanted this since he threatened me during lunch, and neither the car chase nor our subsequent intimate encounter has sated this need. УYes.Ф My voice is a hoarse whisper. УWhy?Ф OhЕ do I have to have a reason?Jeez. I shrug. УTell me,Ф he coaxes. УUmЕФ And from out of nowhere he smacks me hard. УAh!Ф I cry out. УHush now.Ф He gently rubs my behind where heТs hit me. Then he leans over me, his hips digging into my backside, plants a kiss between my shoulder blades and trails kisses across my back. HeТs taken his shirt off, so his chest hair tickles my back, and his erection presses against me through the rough fabric of his jeans. УOpen your legs,Ф he orders. I move my legs apart. УWider.Ф I groan and spread my legs wider. УGood girl,Ф he breathes. He traces his finger down my back, along the crack between my buttocks, and over my anus, which shrinks at his touch. УWeТre going to have with some fun with this,Ф he whispers. Fuck! His finger continues down over my perineum and slowly slides into me. УI see youТre very wet, Anastasia. From earlier or from now?Ф I groan and he eases his finger in and out of me, over and over. I push back on his hand, relishing the intrusion. УOh, Ana, I think itТs both. I think you love being here, like this. Mine.Ф I do-‐oh, I do. He withdraws his finger and smacks me hard once more. УTell me,Ф he whispers, his voice hoarse and urgent. УYes, I do,Ф I whimper. He smacks me hard once more so I cry out, then sticks two fingers inside me. He withdraws them immediately, spreading the moisture up over and around my anus. УWhat are you going to do?Ф I ask, breathless.Oh myЕ is he going to fuck my ass?
УItТs not what you think,Ф he murmurs reassuringly. УI told you, one step at time with this, baby.Ф I hear the quiet spurt of some liquid, presumably from a tube, then his fingers are massaging methere again. Lubricating meЕthere! I squirm as my fear collides with my excitement of the unknown. He smacks me once more, lower, so he hits my sex. I groan. It feelsЕ so good. УKeep still,Ф he says. УAnd donТt let go.Ф УAh.Ф УThis is lube.Ф He spreads some more on me. I try not to wriggle beneath him, but my heart is pounding, my pulse haywire, as desire and anxiety pump through me. УI have wanted to do this to you for some time now, Ana.Ф I groan. And I feel something cool, metallically cool, run down my spine. УI have a small present for you here,Ф Christian whispers. An image from our show-‐and-‐tell springs to mind.Holy cow. A butt plug. Christian runs it down the parting between my buttocks. Oh my. УI am going to push this inside you, very slowly.Ф I gasp, anticipation and anxiety charging through me. УWill it hurt?Ф УNo, baby. ItТs small. Once itТs inside you, IТm going to fuck you real hard.Ф I practically convulse. Bending over me, he kisses me once more between my shoulder blades. УReady?Ф he whispers. Ready? Am I ready for this? УYes,Ф I mutter quietly, my mouth dry. He runs another finger down past my ass and perineum and slips it inside me. Fuck, itТs his thumb. He cups my sex and his fingers gently caress my clitoris. I moanЕ it feelsЕ good. And gently, while his fingers and thumb work their magic, he pushes the cold plug slowly into me. УAh!Ф I groan loudly at the unfamiliar sensation, my muscles protesting at the intrusion. He circles his thumb inside me and pushes the plug harder, and it slips in easily, and I donТt know if itТs because IТm so turned on or if heТs distracted me with his expert fingers, but my body seems to accept it. ItТs heavyЕ and strangeЕthere! УOh, baby.Ф And I can feel itЕ where his thumb swirls inside meЕ and the plug presses againstЕ oh, ahЕ He slowly twists the plug, eliciting a long drawn-‐out moan from me. УChristian,Ф I mumble, his name a garbled mantra, as I adjust to the sensation. УGood girl,Ф he murmurs. He runs his free hand down my side until it reaches my hip. Slowly he withdraws his thumb, and I hear the telltale sound of his zipper opening. Grasping my other hip, he pulls me back and parts my legs further, his foot pushing against mine. УDonТt let go of the table, Ana,Ф he warns. УNo,Ф I gasp. УSomething rough? Tell me if IТm too rough. Understand?Ф УYes,Ф I whisper, and he slams into me and pulls me onto him at the same time, jolting the plug forward, deeperЕ УFuck!Ф I cry out. He stills, his breathing harsher and my panting matches his. I try to assimilate all the sensations: the delicious fullness, the tantalizing feeling that I am doing something forbidden, the erotic pleasure that spirals outward from deep within me. He pulls gently on the plug.
Oh jeezЕ I moan, and I hear his sharp intake of breath-‐a gasp of pure, unadulterated pleasure. It heats my blood. Have I ever felt so wantonЕ so-‐ УAgain?Ф he whispers. УYes.Ф УStay flat,Ф he orders. He eases out of me and rams into me again. OhЕ I wanted this.УYes,Ф I hiss. And he picks up the pace, his breathing more labored, matching my own as he thrashes into me. УOh, Ana,Ф he gasps. He moves one of his hands from my hips and twists the plug again, tugging it slowly, pulling it out and pushing it back in. The feeling is indescribable, and I think IТm going to pass out on the table. He never misses a beat as he takes me, again and again, moving strong and hard inside me, my insides tightening and quivering. УOh fuck,Ф I moan. This is going to rip me apart. УYes, baby,Ф he hisses. УPlease,Ф I beg him and I donТt know what for-‐to stop, to never stop, to twist the plug again. My insides are tightening around him and the plug. УThatТs right,Ф he breathes, and he slaps me hard on my right buttock, and I come-‐again and again, falling, falling, spinning, pulsing around and around-‐and Christian gently pulls the plug out. УFuck!Ф I scream and Christian grabs my hips and climaxes loudly, holding me still. The woman is still singing. Christian always puts songs on repeat in here. Strange. I am curled in his arms on his lap our legs tangled together, with my head resting against his chest. WeТre on the floor of the playroom by the table. УWelcome back,Ф he says, peeling the blindfold off me. I blink as my eyes adjust to the muted light. Tipping my chin back, he plants a soft kiss on my lips, his eyes focused on and anxiously searching mine. I reach up to caress his face. He smiles. УWell, did I fulfill the brief?Ф he asks, amused. I frown.УBrief?Ф УYou wanted rough,Ф he says gently. I grin, because I just canТt help it. УYes. I think you didЕФ He raises his eyebrows and grins back at me.УIТm very glad to hear it Mrs. Grey. You look thoroughly well fucked and beautiful at this moment.Ф He caresses my face, his long fingers stroking my cheek. УI feel it,Ф I purr. He reaches down and kisses me tenderly, his lips soft and warm and giving against mine.УYou never disappoint.Ф He leans back to gaze down at me. УHow do you feel?Ф His voice is soft with concern. УGood,Ф I murmur, feeling a flush creep across my face. УThoroughly well fucked.Ф I smile shyly. УWhy, Mrs. Grey, you have a dirty, dirty mouth.Ф Christian feigns an offended expression, but I can hear his amusement. УThatТs because IТm married to a dirty, dirty boy, Mr. Grey.Ф He grins a ridiculously stupid grin and itТs infectious. УIТm glad youТre married to him.Ф He gently takes hold of my braid, lifts it to his lips, and kisses the end with reverence, his eyes glowing with love. Oh myЕ did I ever have a chance of resisting this man?
I reach for his left hand and plant a kiss on his wedding ring, a plain platinum band matching my own.УMine,Ф I whisper. УYours,Ф he responds. He curls his arms around me and presses his nose into my hair. УShall I run you a bath?Ф УHmm. Only if you join me in it.Ф УOkay,Ф he says. He sets me onto my feet and stands up beside me. HeТs still wearing his jeans. УWill you wear yourЕ erЕ other jeans?Ф He frowns down at me.УOther jeans?Ф УThe ones you used to wear in here.Ф УThose jeans?Ф he murmurs blinking with perplexed surprise. УYou look very hot in them.Ф УDo I?Ф УYeahЕ I mean, really hot.Ф He smiles, shyly.УWell for you, Mrs. Grey, maybe I will.Ф He bends to kiss me then grabs the small bowl on the table that contains the butt plug, the tube of lubricant, the blindfold, and my panties. УWho cleans these toys?Ф I ask as I follow him over to the chest. He frowns at me, as if not understanding the question.УMe. Mrs. Jones.Ф УWhat?Ф He nods, amused and embarrassed, I think. He switches off the music.УWell-‐umЕ Ф УYour subs used to do it?Ф I finish his sentence. He gives me an apologetic shrug. УHere.Ф He hands me his shirt and I put it on, wrapping it around myself. His scent still clings to the linen, and my chagrin about butt plug washing is forgotten. He leaves the items on the chest. Taking my hand, he unlocks the playroom door then leads me out and downstairs. I follow him meekly. The anxiety, the bad mood, the thrill, fear, and excitement of the car chase have all gone. IТm relaxed-‐finally sated and calm. As we enter our bathroom, I yawn loudly and stretchЕ at ease with myself for a change. УWhat is it?Ф Christian asks as he turns on the faucet. I shake my head. УTell me,Ф he asks softly. He spills jasmine bath oil into the running water, filling the room with its sweet, sensual scent. I flush.УI just feel better.Ф He smiles.УYes, youТve been in a strange mood today, Mrs. Grey.Ф Standing, he pulls me into his arms. УI know youТre worrying about these recent events. IТm sorry youТre caught up in them. I donТt know if itТs a vendetta, an ex-‐employee, or a business rival. If anything were to happen to you because of me-‐Ф His voice drops to a pained whisper. I curl my arms around him. УWhat if something happens to you, Christian?Ф I voice my fear. He gazes down at me.УWeТll figure this out. Now letТs get you out of this shirt and into this bath.Ф УShouldnТt you talk to Sawyer?Ф УHe can wait.Ф His mouth hardens, and I feel a sudden pang of pity for Sawyer. WhatТs he done to upset Christian?
Christian helps me out of his shirt then frowns as I turn to him. My breasts still bear faded bruises from the love bites he gave me during our honeymoon, but I decide not to tease him about them. УI wonder if Ryan has caught up with the Dodge?Ф УWeТll see, after this bath. Get in.Ф He holds his hand out for me. I climb into the hot, fragrant water and sit tentatively. УOw.Ф My ass is tender, and the hot water makes me wince. УEasy, baby,Ф Christian warns, but as he says it, the uncomfortable sensation melts away. Christian strips and climbs in behind me, pulling me against his chest. I nestle between his legs, and we lie idle and content in the hot water. I run my fingers down his legs, and gathering my braid in one hand, he twirls it gently between his fingers. УWe need to go over the plans for the new house. Later this evening?Ф УSure.Ф That woman is coming back again. My subconscious gazes up from volume 3 ofThe Complete Works of Charles Dickens and glowers. IТm with my subconscious. I sigh. Unfortunately, Gia MatteoТs designs are breathtaking. УI must get my things ready for work,Ф I whisper. He stills.УYou know you donТt have to go back to work,Ф he murmurs. Oh noЕ not this again. УChristian, weТve been through this. Please donТt resurrect that argument.Ф He tugs my braid so my face tilts up and back.УJust sayingЕФ He plants a soft kiss on my lips. I pull on sweat pants and a camisole and decide to fetch my clothes from the playroom. As I make my way across the hallway, I hear ChristianТs raised voice from his study. I freeze. УWhere the fuck were you?Ф Oh shit. HeТs shouting at Sawyer. Cringing, I dash upstairs to the playroom. I really donТt want to hear what he has to say to him-‐I still find shouty Christian intimidating. Poor Sawyer. At least I get to shout back. I gather up my clothes and ChristianТs shoes, then notice the small porcelain bowl with the butt plug still on top of the museum chest.WellЕ I suppose I should clean it. I add it to the pile and make my way back downstairs. I glance nervously through the great room, but all is quiet. Thank heavens. Taylor will be back tomorrow evening, and Christian is generally calmer when he Тs around. Taylor is spending some quality time today and tomorrow with his daughter. I wonder idly if IТll ever get to meet her. Mrs. Jones comes out of the utility room. We startle each other. УMrs. Grey-‐I didnТt see you there.ФOh, IТm Mrs. Grey now!УHello, Mrs. Jones. Ф УWelcome home and congratulations.Ф She smiles. УPlease call me Ana.Ф УMrs. Grey, I wouldnТt feel comfortable doing that.Ф Oh! Why must everything change just because I have a ring on my finger? УWould you like to run through the menus for the week?Ф she asks, looking at me expectantly. Menus? УUmЕФ This is not a question I have ever anticipated being asked.
She smiles.УWhen I first worked for Mr. Grey, every Sunday evening I would run through the menus for the upcoming week with him and list anything he might need from the grocery store.Ф УI see.Ф УShall I take those for you?Ф She holds out her hands for my clothes. УOhЕ um. Actually I havenТt finished with these.ФAnd they are hiding the bowl with the butt plug in! I turn crimson. ItТs a wonder I can look Mrs. Jones in the eye. She knows what we do-‐she cleans the room. Jeez, itТs just weird having no privacy. УWhen youТre ready, Mrs. Grey. IТd be more than happy to run through things with you.Ф УThank you.Ф We are interrupted by an ashen-‐faced Sawyer who stalks out of ChristianТs study and briskly crosses the great room. He gives us both a brief nod, not looking either of us in the eye, and slinks into TaylorТs study. IТm grateful for his intervention as I donТt wish to discuss menus or butt plugs with Mrs. Jones right now. Offering her a brief smile, I scurry back to the bedroom. Will I ever get used to having domestic staff at my beck and call? I shake my headЕ one day, maybe. I dump ChristianТs shoes on the floor and my clothes on the bed, and take the bowl with the butt plug into the bathroom. I eye it suspiciously. It looks innocuous enough, and surprisingly clean. I donТt want to dwell on that, and I wash it quickly with soap and water. Will that be enough? IТll have to ask Mr. Sexpert if it should be sterilized or something. I shudder at the thought. I like that Christian has turned the library over to me. It now houses an attractive white wooden desk I can work at. I take out my laptop and check my notes on the five manuscripts I read on honeymoon. Yep, I have everything I need. Part of me dreads going back to work, but I can never tell Christian that. HeТd seize on the opportunity to make me quit. I remember RoachТs apoplectic reaction when I told him I was getting married and to whom, and how, shortly afterward, my position was confirmed. I realize now it was because I was marrying the boss. The thought is unwelcome. I am no longer acting commissioning editor-‐I am Anastasia Steele, Commissioning Editor. I havenТt yet plucked up the courage to tell Christian that I am not going to change my name at work. I think my reasons are solid. I need some distance from him, but I know there will be a fight when he finally realizes that. Perhaps I should discuss this with him tonight. Sitting back in my chair, I start my final chore of the day. I glance at the digital clock on my laptop, which tells me itТs seven in the evening. Christian still hasnТt emerged from his study, so I have time. Taking the memory card out of the Nikon camera, I load it into the laptop to transfer the photographs. As the pictures upload, I reflect on the day. Is Ryan back? Or is he still on his way to Portland? Has he caught up with the mystery woman? Has Christian heard from him? I want some answers. I donТt care that heТs busy; I want to know whatТs going on, and I suddenly feel a tad resentful that heТs keeping me in the dark. I rise, intending to go and confront him in his study, but as I do the photos from the last few days of our honeymoon pop up onscreen. Holy crap! Picture after picture of me. Asleep, so many of me asleep, my hair over my face or fanned out across the pillow, lips partedЕ shit-‐sucking my thumb. I havenТt sucked my thumb for years! So many photos. I had no idea heТd taken these. There are a few candid long shots, including one of me leaning over the rail of the yacht, staring moodily into the
distance. How did I not notice him taking this? I smile at the photos of me curled up beneath him and laughing-‐my hair flying as I struggle, fighting his tickling, tormenting fingers. And thereТs the one of him and me on the bed in the master cabin that he took at armТs length. I am cuddled on his chest and he gazes at the camera, young, wide-‐eyedЕ in love. His other hand cups my head, and I am smiling like a love-‐struck fool, but I cannot take my eyes off Christian. Oh, my beautiful man, his ruffled just-‐fucked hair, his gray eyes glowing, his lips parted and smiling. My beautiful man who cannot bear to be tickled, who could not bear to be touched justa short while ago, yet now he tolerates my touch. I must ask him if he likes it, or whether he lets me touch him for my pleasure rather than his. I frown, gazing down at his image, suddenly overwhelmed by my feelings for him. Someone out there wants to harm him-‐first Charlie Tango, then the fire at GEH, and that damned car chase. I gasp, putting my hand to my mouth as an involuntary sob escapes. Abandoning my computer, I leap up to find him-‐not to confront him now-‐just to check that heТs safe. Not bothering to knock, I barge into his study. Christian is sitting at his desk and talking on the phone. He looks up in surprised annoyance, but the irritation on his face disappears when he sees itТs me. УSo you canТt enhance it further?Ф he says, continuing his phone conversation, though he doesnТt take his eyes off me. Without hesitation, I walk around his desk, and he turns in his chair to face me, frowning. I can tell heТs thinkingwhat does she want? When I crawl onto his lap, his eyebrows shoot up in surprise. I put my arms around his neck and cuddle into him. Gingerly, he puts his arm around me. УUmЕ yes, Barney. Could you hold one moment?Ф He cups the phone against his shoulder. УAna, whatТs wrong?Ф I shake my head. Tipping my chin up, he gazes into my eyes. I pull my head free from his hold, tuck it beneath his chin, and curl up smaller on his lap. Bemused, he wraps his free arm more tightly around me and kisses the top of my head. УOkay, Barney, what were you saying?Ф He continues, wedging the phone between his ear and his shoulder, and taps a key on his laptop. A grainy black and white CCTV image appears on the screen. A man with dark hair wearing pale coveralls comes on the screen. Christian presses another key, and the man walks toward the camera, but with his head bowed. When the man is closer to the camera, Christian freezes the frame. HeТs standing in a bright white room with what looks like a long line of tall black cabinets to his left. This must be GEHТs server room. УOkay Barney, one more time.Ф The screen springs to life. A box appears around the head of the man in the CCTV footage and suddenly we zoom in. I sit up, fascinated. УIs Barney doing this?Ф I ask quietly. УYes,Ф Christian answers. УCan you sharpen the picture at all?Ф he says to Barney. The picture blurs, then refocuses moderately sharper of the man consciously gazing down and avoiding the CCTV camera. As I stare at him, a chill of recognition sweeps up my spine. There is something familiar in the line of his jaw. He has scruffy short black hair that looks odd and unkemptЕ and in the newly sharpened picture, I see an earring, a small hoop. Holy crap!I know who it is. УChristian,Ф I whisper. УThatТs Jack Hyde.Ф 7 [ артинка: pic_55.jpg]
УYou think?Ф Christian asks, surprised. УItТs the line of his jaw.Ф I point at the screen. УAnd the earrings and the shape of his shoulders. HeТs the right build, too. He must be wearing a wig-‐or heТs cut and dyed his hair.Ф УBarney, are you getting this?Ф Christian puts the phone down on his desk and switches to hands-‐free. УYou seem to have studied your ex-‐boss in some detail, Mrs. Grey, Ф he murmurs, sounding none too pleased. I scowl at him, but IТm saved by Barney. УYes, sir. I heard Mrs. Grey. IТm running face recognition software on all the digitized CCTV footage right now. See where else this asshole-‐IТm sorry maТam-‐this man has been within the organization.Ф I glance anxiously at Christian, who ignores BarneyТs expletive. HeТs studying the CCTV picture closely. УWhy would he do this?Ф I ask Christian. He shrugs.УRevenge, perhaps. I donТt know. You canТt fathom why some people behave the way they do. IТm just angry that you ever worked so closely with him. Ф ChristianТs mouth presses into a hard, thin line and he encircles my waist with his arm. УWe have the contents of his hard drive, too, sir,Ф Barney adds. УYes, I remember. Do you have an address for Mr. Hyde?Ф Christian says sharply. УYes, sir, I do.Ф УAlert Welch.Ф УSure will. IТm also going to scan the city CCTV and see if I can track his movements.Ф УCheck what vehicle he owns.Ф УSir.Ф УBarney can do all this?Ф I whisper. Christian nods and gives me a smug smile. УWhat was on his hard drive?Ф I whisper. ChristianТs face hardens and he shakes his head. УNothing much,Ф he says, tight-‐lipped, his smile forgotten. УTell me.Ф УNo.Ф УWas it about you, or me?Ф УMe.Ф He sighs. УWhat sort of things? About your lifestyle?Ф Christian shakes his head and puts his index finger against my lips to silence me. I scowl at him. But he narrows his eyes, and itТs a clear warning that I should hold my tongue. УItТs a 2006 Camaro. IТll send the license details to Welch, too,Ф Barney says excitedly from the phone. УGood. Let me know where else that fucker has been in my building. And check this image against the one from his SIP personnel file.Ф Christian gazes at me skeptically. УI want to be sure we have a match.Ф УAlready done, sir, and Mrs. Grey is correct. This is Jack Hyde.Ф I grin.See? I can be useful. Christian rubs his hand down my back. УWell done, Mrs. Grey.Ф He smiles and his earlier rancor forgotten. To Barney he says, УLet me know when youТve tracked all his movements at HQ. Also check out any
other GEH property he may have had access to, and let the security teams know so they can make another sweep of all those buildings.Ф УSir.Ф УThanks, Barney.Ф Christian hangs up. УWell, Mrs. Grey, it seems that you are not only decorative, but useful, too.Ф ChristianТs eyes light up with wicked amusement. I know heТs teasing. УDecorative?Ф I scoff, teasing him back. УVery,Ф he says quietly, pressing a soft, sweet kiss on my lips. УYouТre much more decorative than I am, Mr. Grey.Ф He grins and kisses me more forcefully, winding my braid around his wrist and wrapping his arms around me. When we come up for air, my heart is racing. УHungry?Ф he asks. УNo.Ф УI am.Ф УWhat for?Ф УWell-‐food actually, Mrs. Grey.Ф УIТll make you something.Ф I giggle. УI love that sound.Ф УOf me offering you food?Ф УYou giggling.Ф He kisses my hair then I stand. УSo what would you like to eat, Sir?Ф I ask sweetly. He narrows his eyes.УAre you being cute, Mrs. Grey?Ф УAlways, Mr. GreyЕ Sir.Ф He smiles a sphinxlike smile.УI can still put you over my knee,Ф he murmurs seductively. УI know.Ф I grin. Placing my hands on the arms of his office chair, I lean down and kiss him. УThatТs one of the things I love about you. But stow your twitching palm-‐ youТre hungry.Ф He smiles his shy smile and my heart clenches.УOh, Mrs. Grey, what am I going to do with you?Ф УYouТre going to answer my question. What would you like to eat?Ф УSomething light. Surprise me,Ф he says, mirroring my words from the playroom earlier. УIТll see what I can do.Ф I sashay out of his study and into the kitchen. My heart sinks when I see Mrs. Jones is there. УHello, Mrs. Jones.Ф УMrs. Grey. Are you ready for something to eat?Ф УUmЕФ She is stirring something in a pot on the stove that smells delicious. УI was going to make subs for Mr. Grey and me.Ф She pauses for a heartbeat.УSure,Ф she says. УMr. Grey likes French bread-‐there is some in the freezer cut to sub length. IТd be happy to make it for you, maТam.Ф УI know. But IТd like to do this.Ф УI understand. IТll give you some room.Ф УWhat are you cooking?Ф УThis is a bolognaise sauce. It can be eaten anytime. IТll freeze it.Ф She smiles warmly and turns the heat right down.
УUm-‐so what does Christian like in a, umЕ sub?Ф I frown, struck by what IТve just said. Does Mrs. Jones understand the inference? УMrs. Grey, you could put just about anything in a sandwich, and as long as itТs on French bread, heТll eat it.Ф We grin at each other. УOkay, thank you.Ф I skip to the freezer and find the French bread cut to size in Ziplock bags. I place two of them on a plate, pop them into the microwave, and set it to defrost. Mrs. Jones has disappeared. I frown as I return to the fridge to search for ingredients. I suppose it will be up to me to set the parameters by which Mrs. Jones and I will work together. I like the idea of cooking for Christian on the weekends. Mrs. Jones is more than welcome to do it during the week-‐the last thing IТll want to do when I come home from work is cook. HmmЕ a bit like ChristianТs routine with his submissives. I shake my head. I mustnТt overthink this. I find some ham in the fridge, and in the crisper a perfectly ripe avocado. As I am adding a touch of salt and lemon to the mashed avocado, Christian emerges from his study with the plans for the new house in his hands. He puts them on the breakfast bar, saunters toward me, and wraps his arms around me, kissing my neck. УBarefoot and in the kitchen,Ф he murmurs. УShouldnТt that be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?Ф I smirk. He stills, his whole body tensing against me.УNot yet,Ф he declares, apprehension clear in his voice. УNo! Not yet!Ф He relaxes.УOn that we can agree, Mrs. Grey.Ф УYou do want kids though, donТt you?Ф УSure, yes. Eventually. But IТm not ready to share you yet.Ф He kisses my neck again. OhЕshare? УWhat are you making? Looks good.Ф He kisses me behind my ear, and I know it Тs to distract me. A delicious tingle travels down my spine. УSubs.Ф I smirk, recovering my sense of humor. He smiles against my neck and nips my earlobe.УMy favorite.Ф I poke him with my elbow. УMrs. Grey, you wound me.Ф He clutches his side as if in pain. УWimp,Ф I mutter disapprovingly. УWimp?Ф he utters in disbelief. He slaps my behind, making me yelp. УHurry up with my food, wench. And later IТll show you how wimpy I can be.Ф He slaps me playfully once more and goes to the fridge. УWould you like a glass of wine?Ф he asks. УPlease.Ф Christian spreads GiaТs plans out over the breakfast bar. She really has some spectacular ideas. УI love her proposal to make the entire downstairs back wall glass, butЕФ УBut?Ф Christian prompts. I sigh.УI donТt want to take all the character out of the house.Ф УCharacter?Ф УYes. What Gia is proposing is quite radical, butЕ wellЕ I fell in love with the house as it isЕ warts and all.Ф ChristianТs brow furrows as if this is anathema to him.
УI kind of like it the way it is,Ф I whisper. Is this going to make him mad? He regards me steadily.УI want this house to be the way you want. Whatever you want. ItТs yours.Ф УI want you to like it, too. To be happy in it, too.Ф УIТll be happy wherever you are. ItТs that simple, Ana.Ф His gaze holds mine. He is utterly, utterly sincere. I blink at him as my heart expands.Holy cow, he really does love me. УWellФ-‐I swallow, fighting the small knot of emotion that catches in my throat-‐ УI like the glass wall. Maybe we could ask her to incorporate it into the house a little more sympathetically.Ф Christian grins.УSure. Whatever you want. What about the plans for upstairs and the basement?Ф УIТm cool with those.Ф УGood.Ф OkayЕ I steel myself to ask the million-‐dollar question. УDo you want to put in a playroom?Ф I feel the oh-‐so-‐familiar flush creep up my face as I ask. ChristianТs eyebrows shoot up. УDo you?Ф he replies, surprised and amused at once. I shrug.УUmЕ if you want.Ф He regards me for a moment.УLetТs leave our options open for the moment. After all, this will be a family home.Ф IТm surprised by the stab of disappointment I feel. I guess heТs rightЕ although when are we going to have a family? It could be years. УBesides, we can improvise.Ф He smirks. УI like improvising,Ф I whisper. He grins.УThereТs something I want to discuss.Ф Christian points to the master bedroom, and we start a detailed discussion on bathrooms and separate walk-‐in closets. When we finish, itТs nine thirty in the evening. УAre you going back to work?Ф I ask as Christian rolls up the plans. УNot if you donТt want me to.Ф He smiles. УWhat would you like to do?Ф УWe could watch TV.Ф I donТt want to read, and I donТt want to go to bedЕ yet. УOkay,Ф Christian agrees willingly, and I follow him into the TV room. We have sat here three, maybe four times total, and Christian usually reads a book. HeТs not interested in television at all. I curl up beside him on the couch, tucking my legs beneath me and resting my head against his shoulder. He switches on the flat-‐screen television with the remote and flicks mindlessly through the channels. УAny specific drivel you want to see?Ф УYou donТt like TV much, do you?Ф I mutter sardonically. He shakes his head.УWaste of time. But IТll watch something with you.Ф УI thought we could make out.Ф He whips his face to mine.УMake out?Ф He gazes at me as if IТve grown two heads. He stops the endless flicking, leaving the TV on an over lit Spanish soap opera. УYes.ФWhy is he so horrified? УWe could go to bed and make out.Ф УWe do that all the time. When was the last time you made out in front of the TV? Ф I ask, shy and teasing at the same time.
He shrugs and shakes his head. Pressing the remote again, he flicks through another few channels before settling on an old episode ofThe X-‐Files. УChristian?Ф УIТve never done that,Ф he says quietly. УNever?Ф УNo.Ф УNot even with Mrs. Robinson?Ф He snorts.УBaby, I did a lot of things with Mrs. Robinson. Making out was not one of them.Ф He smirks at me and then narrows his eyes with amused curiosity. УHave you? Ф I flush.УOf course.Ф Well kind ofЕ УWhat! Who with?Ф Oh no. I do not want to have this discussion. УTell me,Ф he persists. I gaze down at my knotted fingers. He gently covers my hands with one of his. When I glance up at him, heТs smiling at me. УI want to know. So I can beat whoever it was to a pulp.Ф I giggle.УWell, the first timeЕФ УThe first time! ThereТs more than one fucker?Ф He growls. I giggle again.УWhy so surprised, Mr. Grey?Ф He frowns briefly, runs a hand through his hair, and looks at me as if seeing me in a completely different light. He shrugs.УI just am. I mean-‐given your lack of experience.Ф I flush.УIТve certainly made up for that since I met you.Ф УYou have.Ф He grins. УTell me. I want to know.Ф I gaze into patient gray eyes, trying to gauge his mood. Is this going to make him mad, or does he genuinely want to know? I donТt want him sulkingЕ heТs impossible when heТs sulking. УYou really want me to tell you?Ф He nods slowly once, and his lips twitch with an amused, arrogant smile. УI was briefly in Vegas with Mom and Husband Number Three. I was in tenth grade. His name was Bradley, and he was my lab partner in physics.Ф УHow old were you?Ф УFifteen.Ф УAnd whatТs he doing now?Ф УI donТt know.Ф УWhat base did he get to?Ф УChristian!Ф I scold-‐and suddenly he grabs my knees, then my ankles, and tips me up so I fall back on to the couch. He slides smoothly on top of me, trapping me beneath him, one leg between mine. ItТs so sudden that I cry out in surprise. He grabs my hands and raises them above my head. УSo, this Bradley-‐did he get to first base?Ф he murmurs, running his nose down the length of mine. He plants soft kisses at the corner of my mouth. УYes,Ф I murmur against his lips. He releases one of his hands so that he can clasp my chin and hold me still while his tongue invades my mouth, and I surrender to his ardent kissing. УLike this?Ф Christian breathes when he comes up for air. УNoЕ nothing like that,Ф I manage as all the blood in my body heads south.
Releasing my chin, he runs his hand down over my body and back up to my breast. УDid he do this? Touch you like this?Ф His thumb skims over my nipple, through my camisole, softly, repeatedly, and it hardens under his expert touch. УNo.Ф I writhe beneath him. УDid he get to second base?Ф he murmurs in my ear. His hand moves down across my ribs, past my waist to my hip. He takes my earlobe between his teeth and gently tugs. УNo,Ф I breathe. Mulder blurts from the television something about the FBIТs most unwanted. Christian pauses, leans up, and presses mute on the remote. He gazes down at me. УWhat about Joe Schmo number two? Did he make it past second base?Ф His eyes are smoldering hotЕ angry? Turned on? ItТs difficult to say which. He shifts to my side and slides his hand beneath my sweatpants. УNo,Ф I whisper, trapped in his carnal gaze. Christian smiles wickedly. УGood.Ф His hand cups my sex. УNo underwear, Mrs. Grey. I approve.Ф He kisses me again as his fingers weave more magic, his thumb skimming over my clitoris, tantalizing me, as he pushes his index finger inside me with exquisite slowness. УWeТre supposed to be making out.Ф I groan. Christian stills.УI thought we were?Ф УNo. No sex.Ф УWhat?Ф УNo sexЕФ УNo sex, huh?Ф He withdraws his hand from my sweatpants. УHere.Ф He traces my lips with his index finger, and I taste my slick saltiness. He pushes his finger into my mouth, mirroring what he was doing a moment earlier. Then shifts so heТs between my legs, and his erection pushes against me. He thrusts, once, twice, and again. I gasp as the material of my sweatpants rubs in just the right way. He pushes once more, grinding into me. УThis what you want?Ф he murmurs and moves his hips rhythmically, rocking against me. УYes.Ф I moan. His hand moves back to concentrate on my nipple once more and his teeth scrape along my jaw.УDo you know how hot you are, Ana?Ф His voice is hoarse as he rocks harder against me. I open my mouth to articulate a response and fail miserably, groaning loudly. He captures my mouth once more, tugging at my bottom lip with his teeth before plunging his tongue into my mouth again. He releases my other wrist and my hands travel greedily up his shoulders and into his hair as he kisses me. When I pull on his hair, he groans and raises his eyes to mine. УAhЕФ УDo you like me touching you?Ф I whisper. His brow furrows briefly as if he doesnТt understand the question. He stops grinding against me. УOf course I do. I love you touching me, Ana. IТm like a starving man at a banquet when it comes to your touch.Ф His voice hums with passionate sincerity. Holy cowЕ He kneels between my legs and drags me up to haul off my top. IТm naked beneath. Grabbing the hem of his shirt, he yanks it over his head and tosses it on the floor, then pulls me onto his kneeling lap, his arms clasped just above my behind. УTouch me,Ф he breathes.
Oh myЕ Tentatively I reach up and brush the tips of my fingers through the smattering of chest hair over his sternum, over his burn scars. He inhales sharply and his pupils dilate, but itТs not with fear. ItТs a sensual response to my touch. He watches me intently as my fingers float delicately over his skin, first to one nipple and then the other. They pucker beneath my caress. Leaning forward, I plant soft kisses on his chest, and my hands move to his shoulders, feeling the hard, sculptured lines of sinew and muscle. JeezЕ heТs in good shape. УI want you,Ф he murmurs and itТs a green light to my libido. My fingers move into his hair, pulling his head back so I can claim his mouth, fire licking hot and high in my belly. He groans and pushes me back onto the couch. He sits up and rips off my sweatpants, undoing his fly at the same time. УHome run,Ф he whispers, and swiftly he fills me. УAhЕФ I groan and he stills, grabbing my face between his hands. УI love you, Mrs. Grey,Ф he murmurs and very slowly, very gently, he makes love to me until I come apart at the seams, calling his name and wrapping myself around him, never wanting to let him go. I lay sprawled on his chest. WeТre on the floor of the TV room. УYou know, we completely bypassed third base.Ф My fingers trace the line of his pectoral muscles. He laughs.УNext time, Mrs. Grey.Ф He kisses the top of my head. I look up to stare at the television screen where the end credits forThe X-‐Files play. Christian reaches for the remote and switches the sound back on. УYou liked that show?Ф I ask. УWhen I was a kid.Ф OhЕ Christian as a kidЕ kickboxing andX Files and no touching. УYou?Ф he asks. УBefore my time.Ф УYouТre so young.Ф Christian smiles fondly. УI like making out with you, Mrs. Grey.Ф УLikewise, Mr. Grey.Ф I kiss his chest, and we lie silently watching asThe X-‐Files finish and the commercials come on. УItТs been a heavenly three weeks. Car chases and fires and psycho ex-‐bosses notwithstanding. Like being in our own private bubble,Ф I mutter dreamily. УHmm,Ф Christian hums deep in his throat. УIТm not sure IТm ready to share you with the rest of the world yet.Ф УBack to reality tomorrow,Ф I murmur, trying to keep the melancholy from my voice. Christian sighs and runs his other hand through his hair.УSecurity will be tight-‐Ф I put my finger over his lips. I donТt want to hear this lecture again. УI know. IТll be good. I promise.Ф Which reminds meЕ I shift, propping myself up on my elbows to see him better. УWhy were you shouting at Sawyer?Ф He stiffens immediately.Oh shit. УBecause we were followed.Ф УThat wasnТt SawyerТs fault.Ф He gazes at me levelly.УThey should never have let you get so far in front. They know that.Ф I blush guiltily and resume my position, resting on his chest. It was my fault. I wanted to get away from them.
УThat wasnТt-‐Ф УEnough!Ф Christian is suddenly curt. УThis is not up for discussion, Anastasia. ItТs a fact, and they wonТt let it happen again.Ф Anastasia! I am Anastasia when I am in trouble just like at home with my mother. УOkay,Ф I mutter, placating him. I donТt want to fight. УDid Ryan catch up with the woman in the Dodge?Ф УNo. And IТm not convinced it was a woman.Ф УOh?Ф I look up again. УSawyer saw someone with their hair tied back, but it was a brief look. He assumed it was a woman. Now, given that youТve identified that fucker, maybe it was him. He wore his hair like that.Ф The disgust in ChristianТs voice is palpable. I donТt know what to make of this news. Christian runs his hand down my naked back, distracting me. УIf anything happened to youЕ,Ф he murmurs, his eyes wide and serious. УI know,Ф I whisper. УI feel the same about you.Ф I shiver at the thought. УCome. YouТre getting cold,Ф he says, sitting up. УLetТs go to bed. We can cover third base there.Ф He smiles a lascivious smile, as mercurial as ever, passionate, angry, anxious, sexy-‐my Fifty Shades. I take his hand and he pulls me to my feet, and without a stitch on, I follow him through the great room to the bedroom. The following morning, Christian squeezes my hand as we pull up outside SIP. He looks very much the powerful executive in his dark navy suit and matching tie, and I smile. HeТs not been this smart since the ballet in Monaco. УYou know you donТt have to do this?Ф Christian murmurs. I am tempted to roll my eyes at him. УI know,Ф I whisper, not wanting Sawyer and Ryan to overhear me from the front of the Audi. He frowns and I smile. УBut I want to,Ф I continue. УYou know this.Ф I lean up and kiss him. His frown doesnТt disappear. УWhatТs wrong?ФHe glances uncertainly at Ryan as Sawyer climbs out of the car. УIТll miss having you to myself.Ф I reach up to caress his face.УMe, too.Ф I kiss him. УIt was a wonderful honeymoon. Thank you.Ф УGo to work, Mrs. Grey.Ф УYou, too, Mr. Grey.Ф Sawyer opens the door. I squeeze ChristianТs hand once more before I climb out onto the sidewalk. As I head into the building, I give him a little wave. Sawyer holds open the door and follows me in. УHi, Ana.Ф Claire smiles from behind the reception desk. УClaire, hello.Ф I smile back. УYou look wonderful. Good honeymoon?Ф УThe best, thank you. HowТs it been here?Ф УOld man Roach is the same, but security has been stepped up and our server room is being overhauled. But Hannah will tell you.Ф Sure she will. I give Claire a friendly smile and head to my office. Hannah is my assistant. She is tall, slim, and ruthlessly efficient to the point that sometimes I find her a little intimidating. But sheТs sweet to me, in spite of the fact that sheТs a couple of years older. She has my latte waiting-‐the only coffee I let her get for me. УHi, Hannah,Ф I say warmly.
УAna, how was your honeymoon?Ф УFantastic. Here-‐for you.Ф I pop the small bottle of perfume I bought for her onto her desk, and she claps her hands with glee. УOh, thank you!Ф she says enthusiastically. УYour urgent correspondence is on your desk, and Roach would like to see you at ten. ThatТs all I have to report for now.Ф УGood. Thank you. And thanks for the coffee.Ф Wandering into my office, I rest my briefcase on my desk and gaze at the piled up letters. Jeez, I have a lot to do. Just before ten thereТs a timid tap on my door. УCome in.Ф Elizabeth looks around the door.УHi, Ana. I just wanted to say welcome back.Ф УHey. I have to say, reading through all this correspondence, I wish I was back in the South of France.Ф Elizabeth laughs, but her laughter is off, forced, and I cock my head to one side and gaze at her like Christian does to me. УGlad youТre back safely,Ф she says. УIТll see you in a few minutes at the meeting with Roach.Ф УOkay,Ф I murmur, and she shuts the door behind her. I frown at the closed door.What was that about? I shrug it off. My e-‐mail pings-‐itТs a message from Christian. [ артинка: pic_56.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Errant Wives Date: August 22, 2011 09:56 To: Anastasia Steele Wife I sent the e-‐mail below and it bounced. And itТs because you havenТt changed your name. Something you want to tell me? Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. Attachment: [ артинка: pic_57.jpg] From: Christian Grey FW Subject: Bubble Date: August 22, 2011 09:32 To: Anastasia Grey Mrs. Grey Love covering all the bases with you. Have a great first day back. Miss our bubble already. x Christian Grey Back in the Real World CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. Shit. I hit reply immediately. [ артинка: pic_58.jpg] From: Anastasia Steele Subject: DonТt Burst the Bubble Date: August 22, 2011 09:58 To: Christian Grey Husband I am all for a baseball metaphor with you, Mr. Grey. I want to keep my name here.
IТll explain this evening. I am going in to a meeting now. Miss our bubble, tooЕ PS: Thought I had to use my BlackBerry? Anastasia Steele Commissioning Editor, SIP This is going to be such a fight. I can feel it. Sighing, I gather up my papers for the meeting. The meeting lasts for two hours. All the commissioning editors are there, plus Roach and Elizabeth. We discuss personnel, strategy, marketing, security, and year-‐end. As the meeting progresses, I grow more and more uncomfortable. ThereТs a subtle change in how my colleagues are treating me-‐a distance and deference that wasnТt there before I left for my honeymoon. And from Courtney, who heads up the non-‐fiction division, thereТ s downright hostility. Maybe IТm just being paranoid but it goes some way to explaining ElizabethТs odd greeting this morning. My mind drifts back to the yacht, then to the playroom, then to the R8 speeding away from the mystery Dodge on I-‐5. Perhaps ChristianТs rightЕ perhaps I canТt do this anymore. The thought is depressing-‐this is all IТve ever wanted to do. If I canТt do this, what will I do? As I walk back to my office, I try to dismiss these dark thoughts. When I sit down at my desk, I quickly check my e-‐mails. Nothing from Christian. I check my BlackBerryЕ Still nothing. Good. At least thereТs been no adverse reaction to my e-‐mail. Perhaps weТll discuss this tonight as per my request. I find that hard to believe, but ignoring my uneasy feeling, I open the marketing plan I was given at the meeting. As is our ritual on a Monday, Hannah comes into my office with a plate for my packed lunch courtesy of Mrs. Jones, and we sit and eat our lunches together, discussing what we want to achieve during the week. She brings me up to date with the office gossip, too, which-‐considering IТve been away for three weeks-‐is pretty thin on the ground. As weТre chatting, thereТs a knock on the door. УCome in.Ф Roach opens the door, and standing beside him is Christian. IТm momentarily struck dumb. Christian shoots me a blazing look and stalks in, before smiling politely at Hannah. УHello, you must be Hannah. IТm Christian Grey,Ф he says. Hannah scrambles to her feet and holds out her hand. УMr. Grey. H-‐how nice to meet you,Ф she stutters as they shake hands. УCan I fetch you a coffee?Ф УPlease,Ф he says warmly. With a quick puzzled glance at me, she scuttles out of the office past Roach, who stands as dumbstruck as me on the threshold of my office. УIf youТll excuse me, Roach, IТd like a word withMs. Steele.Ф Christian hisses theS sibilantlyЕ sarcastically. This is why heТs hereЕ Oh shit. УOf course, Mr. Grey. Ana,Ф Roach mutters, shutting the door to my office as he departs. I recover my power of speech. УMr. Grey, how nice to see you.Ф I smile, far too sweetly. УMs. Steele, may I sit down?Ф УItТs your company.Ф I wave at the chair Hannah vacated. УYes, it is.Ф He smiles wolfishly at me, the smile not reaching his eyes. His tone is clipped. HeТs bristling with tension-‐I can feel it all around me.Fuck. My heart sinks.
УYour office is very small,Ф he says as he sits down facing my desk. УIt suits me.Ф He regards me neutrally, but I know heТs mad. I take a deep breath. This is not going to be fun. УSo what can I do for you, Christian?Ф УIТm just looking over my assets.Ф УYour assets? All of them?Ф УAll of them. Some of them need rebranding.Ф УRebranding? In what way?Ф УI think you know.Ф His voice is menacingly quiet. УPlease-‐donТt tell me you have interrupted your day after three weeks away to come over here and fight with me about my name.ФI am not a freaking asset! He shifts and crosses his legs.УNot exactly fight. No.Ф УChristian, IТm working.Ф УLooked like you were gossiping with your assistant to me.Ф My cheeks heat.УWe were going through our schedules,Ф I snap. УAnd you havenТt answered my question.Ф ThereТs a knock on the door. УCome in!Ф I shout, too loudly. Hannah opens the door and brings in a small tray. Milk jug, sugar bowl, coffee in a French press-‐sheТs gone all out. She places the tray on my desk. УThank you, Hannah,Ф I mutter, embarrassed that I have just shouted so loudly. УDo you need anything else, Mr. Grey?Ф she asks all breathless. I want to roll my eyes at her. УNo, thank you. ThatТs all.Ф He smiles his dazzling, panty-‐dropping smile at her. She flushes and exits simpering. Christian turns his attention back to me. УNow,Ms. Steele, where were we?Ф УYou were rudely interrupting my work day to fight with me about my name.Ф Christian blinks once-‐surprised, I think, by the vehemence in my voice. Deftly, he picks at an invisible piece of lint on his knee with long skilled fingers. ItТs distracting. He Тs doing it on purpose. I narrow my eyes at him. УI like to make the odd impromptu visit. It keeps management on their toes, wives in their place. You know.Ф He shrugs, his mouth set in an arrogant line. Wives in their place!УI had no idea you could spare the time,Ф I snap. His eyes frost.УWhy donТt you want to change your name here?Ф he asks, his voice deathly quiet. УChristian, do we have to discuss this now?Ф УIТm here. I donТt see why not.Ф УI have a ton of work to do, having been away for the last three weeks.Ф He gazes at me, his eyes cool and assessing-‐distant even. I marvel that he can appear so cold after last night, after the last three weeks.Shit. He must be so mad-‐really mad. When will he learn not to overreact? УAre you ashamed of me?Ф he asks, his voice deceptively soft. УNo! Christian, of course not.Ф I scowl at him. УThis is about me-‐not you.Ф Jeez, heТs exasperating sometimes. Silly overbearing megalomaniac. УHow is this not about me?Ф He cocks his head to one side, genuinely perplexed, some of his detachment slipping as he stares at me with wide eyes, and I realize that heТs
hurt.Holy fuck. IТve hurt his feelings. Oh noЕ heТs the last person I want to hurt. I have to make him see my logic. I have to explain my reasoning for my decision. УChristian, when I took this job, IТd only just met you,Ф I say patiently, struggling to find the right words. УI didnТt know you were going to buy the company-‐Ф What can I say about that event in our brief history? His deranged reasons for doing so-‐his control freakery, his stalker tendencies gone mad, given completely free rein because he is so wealthy. I know he wants to keep me safe, but itТs his ownership of SIP that is the fundamental problem here. If heТd never interfered, I could continue as normal and not have to face the disgruntled and whispered recriminations of my colleagues. I put my head in my hands just to break eye contact with him. УWhy is it so important to you?Ф I ask, desperately trying to hold on to my fraying temper. I look up at his impassive stare, his eyes luminous, giving nothing away, his earlier hurt now hidden. But even as I ask the question, deep down I know the answer before he says it. УI want everyone to know that youТre mine.Ф УI am yours-‐look.Ф I hold up my left hand, showing my wedding and engagement rings. УItТs not enough.Ф УNot enough that I married you?Ф My voice is barely a whisper. He blinks, registering the horror on my face. Where can I go from here? What else can I do? УThatТs not what I mean,Ф he snaps and runs a hand through his overlong hair so that it flops onto his forehead. УWhatdo you mean?Ф He swallows.УI want your world to begin and end with me,Ф he says, his expression raw. His comment completely derails me. ItТs like heТs punched me hard in the stomach, winding and wounding me. And the vision comes to mind of a small, frightened, copper-‐haired gray-‐eyed boy in dirty, mismatched, ill-‐fitting clothes. УIt does,Ф I say without guile, because itТs the truth. УIТm just trying to establish a career, and I donТt want to trade on your name. I have to dosomething, Christian. I canТt stay imprisoned at Escala or the new house with nothing to do. IТll go crazy. IТll suffocate. IТve always worked, and I enjoy this. This is my dream job; itТs all I Тve ever wanted. But doing this doesnТt mean I love you less. You are the world to me.Ф My throat swells and tears prick the back of my eyes. I must not cry, not here. I repeat it over and over in my head.I must not cry. I must not cry. He stares at me, saying nothing. Then a frown crosses his face as if heТs considering what IТve said. УI suffocate you?Ф His voice is bleak, and itТs an echo of a question heТs asked me before. УNoЕ yesЕ no.Ф This is such an exasperating conversation-‐not one that I want to have now, here. I close my eyes and rub my forehead, trying to fathom how we got to this. УLook, we were talking about my name. I want to keep my name here because I want to put some distance between you and meЕ but only here, thatТs all. You know everyone thinks I got the job because of you, when the reality is-‐Ф I stop, when his eyes widen.Oh noЕ it is because of him? УDo you want to know why you got the job, Anastasia?Ф Anastasia? Shit.УWhat? What do you mean?Ф
He shifts in his chair as if steeling himself. Do I want to know? УThe management here gave you HydeТs job to babysit. They didnТt want the expense of hiring a senior executive when the company was mid-‐sale. They had no idea what the new owner would do with it once it passed into his ownership, and wisely, they didnТt want an expensive redundancy. So theygave you HydeТs job to caretake until the new ownerФ -‐he pauses, and his lips twitch in an ironic smile-‐Уnamely me, took over.Ф Holy crap!УWhat are you saying?Ф So itwas because of him.Fuck! IТm horrified. He smiles and shakes his head at my alarm.УRelax. YouТve more than risen to the challenge. YouТve done very well.Ф ThereТs the tiniest hint of pride in his voice, and itТs almost my undoing. УOh,Ф I murmur incoherently, reeling from this news. I sit right back in my chair, open-‐mouthed, staring at him. He shifts again. УI donТt want to suffocate you, Ana. I donТt want to put you in a gilded cage. WellЕФ He pauses, his face darkening. УWell, the rational part of me doesnТt.Ф He strokes his chin thoughtfully as his mind concocts some plan. Oh, where is he going with this? Christian looks up suddenly, as if heТs had a eureka moment. УSo one of the reasons IТm here-‐apart from dealing with my errant wife, Ф he says, narrowing his eyes, Уis to discuss what I am going to do with this company.Ф Errant wife! I am not errant, and IТm not an asset! I scowl at Christian again and the threat of tears subsides. УSo what are your plans?Ф I incline my head to one side, mirroring him, and I can Тt help my sarcastic tone. His lips twitch with the hint of a smile. Jeez-‐change of mood, again! How can I ever keep up with Mr. Mercurial? УIТm renaming the company-‐to Grey Publishing.Ф Holy shit. УAnd in a yearТs time, it will be yours.Ф My mouth drops open once more-‐wider this time. УThis is my wedding present to you.Ф I shut my mouth then open it, trying to articulate something-‐but thereТs nothing there. My mind is blank. УSo, do I need to change the name to Steele Publishing?Ф HeТs serious. Holy fuck. УChristian,Ф I whisper when my brain finally reconnects with my mouth. УYou gave me a watchЕ I canТt run a business.Ф He tilts his head to one side again and gives me a censorious frown.УI ran my own business from the age of twenty-‐one.Ф УBut youТreЕ you. Control freak and whiz-‐kid extraordinaire. Jeez Christian, you majored in economics at Harvard before you dropped out. At least you have some idea. I sold paint and cable ties for three years on a part-‐time basis, for heavenТs sake. IТve seen so little of the world, and I know next to nothing!Ф My voice rises, growing louder and higher, as I complete my tirade. УYouТre also the most well-‐read person I know,Ф he counters earnestly. УYou love a good book. You couldnТt leave your job while we were on our honeymoon. You read how many manuscripts? Four?Ф УFive,Ф I whisper. УAnd you wrote full reports on all of them. YouТre a very bright woman, Anastasia. IТm sure youТll manage.Ф
УAre you crazy?Ф УCrazy for you,Ф he whispers. And I snort because itТs the only expression my body can make. He narrows his eyes. УYouТll be a laughing stock. Buying a company for the little woman, who has only had a full time job for a few months of her adult life.Ф УDo you think I give a fuck what people think? Besides, you wonТt be on your own.Ф I gape at him. He really has lost his marbles this time.УChristian, IЕФ I put my head in my hands-‐my emotions have been through a wringer.Is he crazy? And from somewhere dark and deep inside I have the sudden, inappropriate need to laugh. When I look up at him again, his eyes widen. УSomething amusing you, Ms. Steele?Ф УYes. You.Ф His eyes widen further, shocked but also amused.УLaughing at your husband? That will never do. And youТre biting your lip.Ф His eyes darkenЕ in that way. Oh no-‐I know that look. Sultry, seductive, salaciousЕ No, no, no! Not here. УDonТt even think about it,Ф I warn, alarm clear in my voice. УThink about what, Anastasia?Ф УI know that look. WeТre at work.Ф He leans forward, his eyes glued to mine, molten gray and hungry.Holy shit! I swallow instinctively.УWeТre in a small, reasonably sound-‐proofed office with a lockable door.Ф УGross moral turpitude.Ф I enunciate each word carefully. УNot with your husband.Ф УWith my bossТs bossТs boss,Ф I hiss. УYouТre my wife.Ф УChristian, no. I mean it. You can fuck me seven shades of Sunday this evening. But not now. Not here!Ф He blinks and narrows his eyes once more. Then unexpectedly he laughs. УSeven shades of Sunday?Ф He arches an eyebrow, intrigued. УI may hold you to that, Ms. Steele.Ф УOh, stop with the Ms. Steele!Ф I snap and thump the desk, startling us both. У For heavenТs sake, Christian. If it means so much to you, IТll change my name!Ф His mouth pops open as he inhales sharply. And then he grins, a radiant, all-‐teeth-‐ showing, joyous grin.WowЕ УGood.Ф He claps his hands, and all of a sudden he stands. What now? УMission accomplished. Now, I have work to do. If youТll excuse me, Mrs. Grey. Ф Gah-‐this man is so maddening!УBut-‐Ф УBut what, Mrs. Grey?Ф I sag.УJust go.Ф УI intend to. IТll see you this evening. IТm looking forward to seven shades of Sunday.Ф I scowl.
УOh, and I have a stack of business-‐related social engagements coming up, and IТ d like you to accompany me.Ф I gape at him.Will you just go? УIТll have Andrea call Hannah to put the dates in your calendar. There are some people you need to meet. You should get Hannah to handle your schedule from now on.Ф УOkay,Ф I mumble, completely bemused, bewildered and shell-‐shocked. He leans over my desk.What now? I am caught in his hypnotic gaze. УLove doing business with you, Mrs. Grey.Ф He leans in closer as I sit paralyzed, and he plants a soft tender kiss on my lips. УLaters, baby,Ф he murmurs. He stands abruptly, winks at me, and leaves. I lay my head on my desk, feeling like IТve been run over by a freight train-‐the freight train that is my beloved husband. He has to be the most frustrating, annoying, contrary man on the planet. I sit up and frantically rub my eyes.What have I just agreed to? Okay, Ana Grey running SIP-‐I mean, Grey Publishing. The man is insane. ThereТs a knock on the door, and Hannah pokes her head around. УYou okay?Ф she asks. I just stare at her. She frowns. УI know you donТt like me doing this-‐but can I make you some tea?Ф I nod. УTwinings English Breakfast, weak and black?Ф I nod. УComing right up, Ana.Ф I stare blankly at my computer screen, still in shock. How can I make him understand? E-‐mail! [ артинка: pic_59.jpg] From: Anastasia Steele Subject: NOT AN ASSET! Date: August 22, 2011 14:23 To: Christian Grey Mr. Grey Next time you come and see me, make an appointment, so I can at least have some prior warning of your adolescent overbearing megalomania. Yours Anastasia GreyЛ____________________please note name. Commissioning Editor, SIP [ артинка: pic_60.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Seven Shades of Sunday Date: August 22, 2011 14:34 To: Anastasia Steele My Dear Mrs. Grey (emphasis on My) What can I say in my defense? I was in the neighborhood. And no, you are not an asset, you are my beloved wife. As ever, you make my day. Christian Grey CEO& Overbearing Megalomaniac, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. HeТs trying to be funny, but I am in no mood to laugh. I take a deep breath and go back to my correspondence. Christian is quiet when I climb into the car that evening. УHi,Ф I murmur. УHi,Ф he responds, warily-‐as he should.
УDisrupt anyone elseТs work today?Ф I ask too sweetly. A ghost of a smile crosses his face.УOnly FlynnТs.Ф Oh. УNext time you go to see him, IТll give you a list of topics I want covered,Ф I hiss at him. УYou seem out of sorts, Mrs. Grey.Ф I glare steadily at the backs of Ryan and SawyerТs heads in front of me. Christian shifts beside me. УHey,Ф he says softly and reaches for my hand. All afternoon, when I should have been concentrating on work, I was trying to figure out what to say to him. But I became angrier and angrier with each passing hour. IТve had enough of his cavalier, petulant, and frankly childish behavior. I snatch my hand out of his-‐in a cavalier, petulant, and childish manner. УYouТre mad at me?Ф he whispers. УYes,Ф I hiss. Folding my arms protectively across my body, I gaze out my window. He shifts beside me once more, but I will myself not to look at him. I donТt understand why IТm so mad at him-‐but I am. Really fucking mad. As soon as we pull up outside Escala, I break protocol and leap out of the car with my briefcase. I stomp into the building, not checking to see who is following. Ryan scuttles into the foyer behind me and dashes to the elevator to press the call button. УWhat?Ф I snap when IТm alongside him. His cheeks redden. УApologies, maТam,Ф he mutters. Christian comes and stands beside me to wait for the elevator, and Ryan retreats. УSo itТs not just me youТre mad at?Ф Christian murmurs dryly. I glare up at him and see a trace of a smile on his face. УAre you laughing at me?Ф I narrow my eyes. УI wouldnТt dare,Ф he says, holding his hands up like IТm threatening him at gunpoint. HeТs in his navy suit, looking crisp and clean with floppy sex-‐hair and a guileless expression. УYou need a haircut,Ф I mutter. Turning away from him, I step into the elevator. УDo I?Ф he says while brushing his hair off his forehead. He follows me in. УYes.Ф I tap the code for our apartment into the keypad. УSo youТre talking to me now?Ф УJust.Ф УWhat exactly are you mad about? I need an indication,Ф he asks cautiously. I turn and gape at him. УDo you really have no idea? Surely, for someone so bright, you must have an inkling? I canТt believe youТre that obtuse.Ф He takes an alarmed step back.УYou really are mad. I thought we had sorted all this in your office,Ф he murmurs, perplexed. УChristian, I just capitulated to your petulant demands. ThatТs all.Ф The elevator doors open and I storm out. Taylor is standing in the hallway. He takes a step back and quickly shuts his mouth as I steam past him. УHi, Taylor,Ф I mutter. УMrs. Grey,Ф he murmurs. Dropping my briefcase in the hallway, I head into the great room. Mrs. Jones is at the stove. УGood evening, Mrs. Grey.Ф
УHi, Mrs. Jones,Ф I mutter once more. I head straight to the fridge and pull out a bottle of white wine. Christian follows me into the kitchen and watches me like a hawk as I take a glass down from the cupboard. He removes his jacket and casually places it on the countertop. УDo you want a drink?Ф I ask super sweetly. УNo thanks,Ф he says, not taking his eyes off me, and I know that heТs helpless. He does not know what to do with me. ItТs comical on one level and tragic on another.Well, screw him! I am having trouble locating my compassionate self since our meeting this afternoon. Slowly, he removes his tie then opens the top button of his shirt. I pour myself a large glass of sauvignon blanc, and Christian runs a hand through his hair. When I turn around, Mrs. Jones has disappeared. Shit! SheТs my human shield. I take a slug of wine.Hmm. It tastes good. УStop this,Ф Christian whispers. He takes the two steps between us so heТs standing in front of me. Gently he tucks my hair behind my ear and caresses my earlobe with his fingertips, sending a shiver through me. Is this what IТve missed all day? His touch? I shake my head, causing him to release my ear and gaze up at him. УTalk to me,Ф he murmurs. УWhatТs the point? You donТt listen to me.Ф УYes I do. YouТre one of the few people I do listen to.Ф I take another swig of wine. УIs this about your name?Ф УYes and no. ItТs how you dealt with the fact that I disagreed with you.Ф I glare up at him, expecting him to be angered. His brow furrows.УAna, you know I haveЕ issues. ItТs hard for me to let go where youТre concerned. You know that.Ф УBut IТm not a child, and IТm not an asset.Ф УI know.Ф He sighs. УThen stop treating me as though I am,Ф I whisper, imploring him. He brushes the back of his fingers down my cheek and runs the tip of his thumb across my bottom lip. УDonТt be mad. YouТre so precious to me. Like a priceless asset, like a child,Ф he whispers, a somber reverent expression on his face. His words distract me. Like a child. Precious like a childЕ a child would be precious to him! УIТm neither of those things, Christian. IТm your wife. If you were hurt that I wasnТt going to take your name, you should have said.Ф УHurt?Ф He frowns deeply, and I know that heТs exploring the possibility in his mind. He straightens suddenly, still frowning, and glances quickly at his wristwatch. УThe architect will be here in just under an hour. We should eat.Ф Oh no. I groan inwardly. He hasnТt answered me, and now I have to deal with Gia Matteo. My shitty day just got shittier. I scowl at Christian. УThis discussion isnТt finished,Ф I mutter. УWhat else is there to discuss?Ф УYou could sell the company.Ф Christian snorts.УSell it?Ф УYes.Ф УYou think IТd find a buyer in todayТs market?Ф УHow much did it cost you?Ф УIt was relatively cheap.Ф His tone is guarded.
УSo if it folds?Ф He smirks.УWeТll survive. But I wonТt let it fold, Anastasia. Not while youТre there.Ф УAnd if I leave?Ф УAnd do what?Ф УI donТt know. Something else.Ф УYouТve already said this is your dream job. And forgive me if IТm wrong, but I promised before God, Reverend Walsh, and a congregation of our nearest and dearest to cherish you, uphold your hopes and dreams, and keep you safe at my side.Ф УQuoting your wedding vows to me is not playing fair.Ф УIТve never promised to play fair where youТre concerned. Besides,Ф he adds, УyouТve wielded your vows at me like a weapon before.Ф I scowl at him. This is true. УAnastasia, if youТre still angry with me, take it out on me in bed later.Ф His voice is suddenly low and full of sensual longing, his eyes heated. What? Bed? How? He smiles indulgently down at my expression. Is he expecting me to tie him up?Holy crap! My inner goddess removes her iPod earbuds and starts listening with rapt attention. УSeven shades of Sunday,Ф he whispers. УLooking forward to it.Ф Whoa! УGail!Ф he shouts abruptly, and four seconds later, Mrs. Jones appears. Where was she? TaylorТs office? Listening? Oh jeez. УMr. Grey?Ф УWeТd like to eat now, please.Ф УVery good, sir.Ф Christian doesnТt take his eyes off me. He watches me vigilantly as if IТm some exotic creature about to bolt. I take a sip of my wine. УI think IТll join you in a glass,Ф he says, sighing, and runs a hand through his hair again. УYouТre not going to finish?Ф УNo.Ф I gaze down at my barely touched plate of fettuccini to avoid ChristianТs darkening expression. Before he can say anything, I stand and clear our plates from the dining table. УGia will be with us shortly,Ф I mutter. ChristianТs mouth twists in an unhappy scowl, but he says nothing. УIТll take those, Mrs. Grey,Ф says Mrs. Jones as I walk into the kitchen. УThank you.Ф УYou didnТt like it?Ф she asks, concerned. УIt was fine. IТm just not hungry.Ф Giving me a small sympathetic smile, she turns to clear my plate and put everything in the dishwasher. УIТm going to make a couple of calls,Ф Christian announces, giving me an assessing look before he disappears into his study. I let out a sigh of relief and head to our bedroom. Dinner was awkward. IТm still mad at Christian, and he doesnТt seem to think heТs done anything wrong.Has he? My subconscious cocks an eyebrow at me and gazes benignly over her half-‐moon glasses. Yes, he has. HeТs made it even more awkward for me at work. He didnТt wait to discuss this
issue with me when we were in the relative privacy of our own home. How would he feel if I came barging into his office, laying down the law? And to cap it all, he wants to give me SIP! How the hell could I run a company? I know next to nothing about business. I gaze out at the Seattle skyline bathed in the pearly pink light of dusk. And as usual, he wants to solve our differences in the bedroomЕ umЕ foyerЕ playroomЕ TV roomЕ kitchen countertopЕStop! It always comes back to sex with him. Sex is his coping mechanism. I wander into the bathroom and scowl at my reflection in the mirror. Coming back to the real world is hard. We managed to skate over all our differences while we were in our bubble because we were so wrapped up in each other. But now? Briefly I am dragged back to my wedding, remembering my concerns that day-‐marry in hasteЕ No, I mustnТt think like this. I knew he was Fifty Shades when I married him. I just have to hang in there and try to talk this through with him. I squint at myself in the mirror. I look pale, and now I have that woman to deal with. IТm wearing my gray pencil skirt and a sleeveless blouse.Right! My inner goddess gets out her harlot-‐red nail polish. I undo two buttons, exposing a little cleavage. I wash my face then carefully redo my makeup, applying more mascara than usual and putting extra gloss on my lips. Bending down, I then brush my hair vigorously from root to tip. When I stand, my hair is a chestnut haze around me that tumbles to my breasts. I tuck it artfully behind my ears and go in search of my pumps, rather than my flats. When I reemerge into the great room, Christian has the house plans spread out on the dining table. He has music playing through the sound system. It stops me in my tracks. УMrs. Grey,Ф he says warmly then looks quizzically at me. УWhatТs this?Ф I ask. The music is stunning. УFaur?Тs Requiem. You look different,Ф he says, distracted. УOh. IТve not heard it before.Ф УItТs very calming, relaxing,Ф he says and raises an eyebrow. УHave you done something to your hair?Ф УBrushed it,Ф I mutter. IТm transported by the haunting voices. Abandoning the plans on the table, he walks toward me, a slow saunter in time to the music. УDance with me?Ф he murmurs. УTo this? ItТs a requiem.Ф I squeak, shocked. УYes.Ф He pulls me into his arms and holds me, burying his nose in my hair and swaying gently from side to side. He smells his heavenly self. OhЕ IТve missed him. I wrap my arms around him and fight the urge to cry.Why are you so infuriating? УI hate fighting with you,Ф he whispers. УWell, stop being such an arse.Ф He chuckles and the captivating sound reverberates through his chest. He tightens his hold on me.УArse?Ф УAss.Ф УI preferarse.Ф УYou should. It suits you.Ф He laughs once more and kisses the top of my head. УA requiem?Ф I murmur a little shocked that we are dancing to it. He shrugs.УItТs just a lovely piece of music, Ana.Ф Taylor coughs discreetly at the entranceway, and Christian releases me. УMiss Matteo is here,Ф he says.
Oh joy! УShow her in,Ф Christian says. He reaches over and clasps my hand as Miss Gia Matteo enters the room. 8 [ артинка: pic_61.jpg] Gia Matteo is a good-‐looking woman-‐a tall, good-‐looking woman. She wears her short, salon-‐blond, perfectly layered and coiffed hair like a sophisticated crown. SheТs dressed in a pale gray pantsuit; the slacks and fitted jacket hug her lush curves. Her clothes look expensive. At the base of her throat, a solitary diamond glints, matching the single-‐ carat studs in her ears. She is well groomed-‐one of those women who grew up with money and breeding, though her breeding seems to be lacking this evening; her pale blue blouse is undone too far. Like mine. I flush. УChristian. Ana.Ф She beams, showing perfect white teeth, and holds out a manicured hand to shake first ChristianТs, then my hand. It means I have to release ChristianТs hand to reciprocate. SheТs a fraction shorter than Christian, but then sheТs in killer heels. УGia,Ф Christian says politely. I smile coolly. УYou both look so well after your honeymoon,Ф she says smoothly, her brown eyes gazing at Christian through long mascaraed lashes. Christian puts his arm around me, holding me close. УWe had a wonderful time, thank you.Ф He brushes his lips against my temple, taking me by surprise. SeeЕ heТs mine. Annoying-‐infuriating, even-‐but mine. I grin.Right now I really love you, Christian Grey. I slip my hand around his waist then into his rear pocket of his pants and squeeze his behind. Gia gives us a thin smile. УHave you managed to look over the plans?Ф УWe have,Ф I murmur. I gaze up at Christian, who grins down at me, one eyebrow raised in wry amusement. Amused at what? My reaction to Gia or me squeezing his butt? УPlease,Ф Christian says. УThe plans are here.Ф He gestures toward the dining table. Taking my hand, he leads me to it, Gia following in our wake. I finally remember my manners. УWould you like something to drink?Ф I ask. УA glass of wine?Ф УThat would be lovely,Ф Gia says. УDry white if you have it.Ф Shit! Sauvignon blanc-‐thatТs a dry white, isnТt it? Reluctantly leaving my husbandТs side, I head over to the kitchen. I hear the iPod hiss as Christian switches off the music. УWould you like some more wine, Christian?Ф I call. УPlease, baby,Ф he croons, grinning at me. Wow, he can be so swoonworthy at times yet so aggravating at others. Reaching up to open the cupboard, IТm aware his eyes are on me, and IТm gripped by the uncanny feeling that Christian and I are putting on a show, playing a game together-‐but this time weТre on the same side pitted against Ms. Matteo. Does he know that sheТs attracted to him and is being too obvious about it? It gives me a small rush of pleasure when I realize maybe heТs trying to reassure me. Or maybe heТs just sending a message loud and clear to this woman that heТs taken. Mine.Yeah, bitch-‐mine. My inner goddess is wearing her gladiatrix outfit, and she Тs taking no prisoners. Smiling to myself I collect three glasses from the cupboard, take the opened bottle of sauvignon blanc from the fridge, and place them all on the breakfast
bar. Gia is leaning over the table while Christian stands beside her and points at something on the plans. УI think Ana has some opinions on the glass wall, but generally weТre both pleased with the ideas youТve come up with.Ф УOh, IТm glad,Ф Gia gushes, obviously relieved, and as she says it, she briefly touches his arm in a small, flirty gesture. Christian stiffens immediately but subtly. She doesnТt even seem to notice. Leave him the fuck alone, lady. He doesnТt like to be touched. Stepping casually aside so heТs out of her reach, Christian turns to me. УThirsty here,Ф he says. УComing right up.Ф Heis playing the game. She makes him uncomfortable. Why didnТt I see that before? ThatТs why I donТt like her. HeТs used to how women react to him. IТve seen it often enough, and usually he thinks nothing of it. Touching is something else. Well, Mrs. Grey to the rescue. I hastily pour the wine, gather all three glasses in my hands, and hurry back to my knight in distress. Offering a glass to Gia, I deliberately position myself between them. She smiles courteously as she accepts it. I hand the second to Christian, who takes it eagerly, his expression one of amused gratitude. УCheers,Ф Christian says to us both, but looking at me. Gia and I raise our glasses and answer in unison. I take a welcome sip of wine. УAna, you have some issues with the glass wall?Ф Gia asks. УYes. I love it-‐donТt get me wrong. But I was hoping that we could incorporate it more organically into the house. After all, I fell in love with the house as it was, and I donТt want to make any radical changes.Ф УI see.Ф УI just want the design to be sympathetic, you knowЕ more in keeping with the original house.Ф I glance up at Christian, who is gazing at me thoughtfully. УNo major renovations?Ф he murmurs. УNo.Ф I shake my head to emphasize my point. УYou like it as it is?Ф УMostly, yes. I always knew it just needed some TLC.Ф ChristianТs eyes glow warmly. Gia glances at the pair of us, and her cheeks pink.УOkay,Ф she says. УI think I get where youТre coming from, Ana. How about if we retain the glass wall, but have it open out onto a larger deck thatТs in keeping with the Mediterranean style. We have the stone terrace there already. We can put in pillars in matching stone, widely spaced soyouТll still have the view. Add a glass roof, or tile it as per the rest of the house. ItТll also make a shelteredal fresco dining and seated area.Ф Got to give the woman her dueЕ sheТs good. УOr instead of the deck, we could incorporate a wood color of your choice into the glass doors-‐that might help to keep the Mediterranean spirit,Ф she continues. УLike the bright blue shutters in the South of France,Ф I murmur to Christian, who is watching me intently. He takes a sip of wine and shrugs, very noncommittal.Hmm. He doesnТt like that idea but he doesnТt overrule me, shoot me down, or make me feel stupid. God, this man is a mass of contradictions. His words from yesterday come to mind: УI want this house to be the way you want. Whatever you want. ItТs yours.Ф He wants
me to be happy-‐happy in everything I do. Deep down I think I know this. ItТs just-‐I stop myself.DonТt think about our argument now. My subconscious glares at me. Gia is looking at Christian, waiting for him to make the decision. I watch as her pupils dilate and her glossed lips part. Her tongue darts quickly over her top lip before she takes a sip of her wine. When I turn to Christian, heТs still looking at me-‐not at her at all.Yes! My inner goddess fist pumps the air. I am going to have words with Ms. Matteo. УAna, what do you want to do?Ф Christian murmurs, very clearly deferring to me. УI like the deck idea.Ф УMe, too.Ф I turn back to Gia.Hey, lady, look at me, not him. IТm the one making the decisions on this.УI think IТd like to see revised drawings showing the bigger deck and pillars that are in keeping with the house.Ф Reluctantly, Gia drags her greedy eyes away from my husband and smiles down at me. Does she think IТm not going to notice? УSure,Ф she acquiesces pleasantly. УAny other issues?Ф Other than you eye-‐fucking my husband?УChristian wants to remodel the master suite,Ф I murmur. ThereТs a discreet cough from the entrance to the great room. We three turn as one to find Taylor standing there. УTaylor?Ф Christian asks. УI need to confer with you on an urgent matter, Mr. Grey.Ф Christian clasps my shoulders from behind and addresses Gia. УMrs. Grey is in charge of this project. She has absolute carte blanche. Whatever she wants, itТs hers. I completely trust her instincts. SheТs very shrewd.Ф His voice alters subtly. In it I hear pride and a veiled warning-‐a warning to Gia? He trusts my instincts? Oh, this manТs exasperating. My instincts let him run roughshod over my feelings this afternoon. I shake my head in frustration but IТm grateful that heТs telling Miss Provocative-‐And-‐Unfortunately-‐Good-‐At-‐Her-‐Job just whoТs in charge. I caress his hand as it rests on my shoulder. УIf youТll excuse me.Ф Christian squeezes my shoulders before following Taylor. I wonder idly whatТs going on. УSoЕ the master suite?Ф Gia asks nervously. I gaze up at her, pausing for a moment to ensure that Christian and Taylor are out of earshot. Then calling on all my inner strength and the fact that IТve been seriously piqued for the last five hours, I let her have it. УYouТre right to be nervous, Gia, because right now your work on this project hangs in the balance. But IТm sure weТll be fine as long as you keep your hands off my husband.Ф She gasps. УOtherwise, youТre fired. Understand?Ф I enunciate each word clearly. She blinks rapidly, utterly stunned. She cannot believe what IТve said. I cannot believe what IТve just said. But I hold my ground, gazing impassively into her widening brown eyes. DonТt back down. DonТt back down! IТve learned this maddening impassive expression from Christian who does impassive like no one else. I know that renovating the GreysТ main residence is a prestigious project for GiaТs architectural firm-‐a resplendent
feather in her cap. She canТt lose this commission. And right now I donТt give a hoot that sheТs ElliotТs friend. УAna-‐Mrs. GreyЕ I-‐IТm so sorry. I never-‐Ф She flushes, unsure what else she can say. УLet me be clear. My husband is not interested in you.Ф УOf course,Ф she murmurs, the blood draining from her face. УAs I said, I just wanted to be clear.Ф УMrs. Grey, I sincerely apologize if you thinkЕ I have-‐Ф She stops, still floundering for something to say. УGood. As long as we understand each other, weТll be fine. Now, IТll let you know what we have in mind for the master suite, then IТd like a run down on all the materials you intend to use. As you know, Christian and I are determined that this house should be ecologically sustainable, and IТd like to reassure him as to where all the materials are coming from and what they are.Ф УOf c-‐course,Ф she stutters, wide-‐eyed and frankly a little intimidated by me. This is a first. My inner goddess runs around the arena, waving to the frenzied crowd. Gia pats her hair into place, and I realize this is a nervous gesture. УThe master suite?Ф she prompts anxiously, her voice a breathless whisper. Now that I have the upper hand, I feel myself relax for the first time since my meeting with Christian this afternoon. I can do this. My inner goddess is celebrating her inner bitch. Christian joins us just as weТre finishing up. УAll done?Ф he asks. He puts his arm around my waist and turns to Gia. УYes, Mr. Grey,Ф Gia smiles brightly, though her smile looks brittle. УIТll have the revised plans to you in a couple of days.Ф УExcellent. YouТre happy?Ф he asks me directly, his eyes warm and probing. I nod and blush for some reason that I donТt understand. УIТd better be going,Ф Gia says again too brightly. She offers her hand to me first this time, then to Christian. УUntil next time, Gia,Ф I murmur. УYes, Mrs. Grey. Mr. Grey.Ф Taylor appears at the entrance of the great room. УTaylor will see you out.Ф My voice is loud enough for him to hear. Patting her hair once more, she turns on her high heels and leaves the great room, followed closely by Taylor. УShe was noticeably cooler,Ф Christian says, looking quizzically at me. УWas she? I didnТt notice.Ф I shrug, trying to remain neutral. УWhat did Taylor want?Ф I ask partly because IТm curious and partly because I want to change the subject. Frowning, Christian releases me and begins to roll up the plans on the table.УIt was about Hyde.Ф УWhat about Hyde?Ф I whisper. УItТs nothing to worry about, Ana.Ф Abandoning the plans, Christian draws me into his arms. УIt turns out he hasnТt been in his apartment for weeks, thatТs all.Ф He kisses my hair, then releases me and finishes his task. УSo what did you decide on?Ф he asks, and I know itТs because he doesnТt want me to pursue the Hyde line of inquiry. УOnly what you and I discussed. I think she likes you,Ф I say quietly. He snorts.УDid you say something to her?Ф he asks and I flush. How does he know? At a loss what to say, I stare down at my fingers.
УWe were Christian and Ana when she arrived, and Mr. and Mrs. Grey when she left.Ф His tone is dry. УI may have said something,Ф I mumble. When I peek up at him, heТs regarding me warmly, and for an unguarded moment he looksЕ pleased. He drops his gaze, shaking his head, and his expression changes. УSheТs only reacting to this face.Ф He sounds vaguely bitter, disgusted even. Oh, Fifty, no! УWhat?Ф HeТs bemused by my perplexed expression. His eyes grow wide in alarm. УYouТre not jealous, are you?Ф he asks, horrified. I blush and swallow, then stare down at my knotted fingers.Am I? УAna, sheТs a sexual predator. Not my type at all. How can you be jealous of her? Of anyone? Nothing about her interests me.Ф When I glance up, heТs gaping at me as if I Тve grown an additional limb. He runs a hand through his hair. УItТs only you, Ana,Ф he says quietly. УIt will only ever be you.Ф Oh my. Abandoning the plans once more, Christian moves toward me and clasps my chin between his thumb and forefinger. УHow can you think otherwise? Have I ever given you any indication that I could be remotely interested in anyone else?Ф His eyes blaze as he stares into mine. УNo,Ф I whisper. УIТm being silly. ItТs just todayЕ youЕФ All my conflicting emotions from earlier resurfaces. How can I tell him how confused I am? IТve been confounded and frustrated by his behavior this afternoon in my office. One minute he wants me to stay at home, the next heТs gifting me a company. How am I supposed to keep up? УWhat about me?Ф УOh, ChristianФ-‐my bottom lip trembles-‐УIТm trying to adapt to this new life that I had never imagined for myself. Everything is being handed to me on a plate-‐the job, you, my beautiful husband, who I neverЕ I never knew IТd love this way, this hard, this fast, thisЕ indelibly.Ф I take a deep steadying breath, as his mouth drops open. УBut youТre like a freight train, and I donТt want to get railroaded because the girl you fell in love with will be crushed. And whatТll be left? All that would be left is a vacuous social x-‐ray, flitting from charity function to charity function.Ф I pause once more, struggling to find the words to convey how I feel. УAnd now you want me to be a company CEO, which has never even been on my radar. IТm bouncing between all these ideas, struggling. You want me at home. You want me to run a company. ItТs so confusing.Ф I stop, tears threatening, and I force back a sob. УYouТve got to let me make my own decisions, take my own risks, and make my own mistakes, and let me learn from them. I need to walk before I can run, Christian, donТ t you see. I want some independence. ThatТs what my name means to me.Ф There, thatТ s what I wanted to say this afternoon. УYou feel railroaded?Ф he whispers. I nod. He closes his eyes and runs his hand through his hair in agitation.УI just want to give you the world, Ana, everything and anything you want. And save you from it, too. Keep you safe. But I also want everyone to know youТre mine. I panicked today when I got your e-‐mail. Why didnТt you tell me about your name?Ф I flush. He has a point. УI only thought about it while we were on our honeymoon, and well, I didnТt want to burst the bubble, and I forgot about it. I only remembered yesterday evening. And
then JackЕ you know, it was distracting. IТm sorry, I should have told you or discussed it with you, but I could never seem to find the right time.Ф ChristianТs intense gaze is unnerving. ItТs as if heТs trying to will his way into my skull, but he says nothing. УWhy did you panic?Ф I ask. УI just donТt want you to slip through my fingers.Ф УFor heavenТs sake, IТm not going anywhere. When are you going to get that through your incredibly thick skull? I. Love. You.Ф I wave my hand in the air like he does sometimes to emphasize my point. УMore thanЕ eyesight, space, or liberty.Ф His eyes widen.УA daughterТs love?Ф He gives me an ironic smile. УNo,Ф I laugh, despite myself. УItТs the only quote that came to mind.Ф УMad King Lear?Ф УDear, dear Mad King Lear.Ф I caress his face, and he leans into my touch, closing his eyes. УWould you change your name to Christian Steele so everyone would know that you belong to me?Ф ChristianТs eyes fly open, and he gazes at me as if IТve just said the world is flat. He frowns. УBelong to you?Ф he murmurs, testing the words. УMine.Ф УYours,Ф he says, repeating the words we spoke in the playroom only yesterday. УYes, I would. If it meant that much to you.Ф Oh my. УDoes it mean that much to you?Ф УYes.Ф He is unequivocal. УOkay.Ф I will do this for him. Give him the reassurance he still needs. УI thought youТd already agreed to this.Ф УYes I have, but now weТve discussed it further, IТm happier with my decision. Ф УOh,Ф he mutters, surprised. Then he smiles his beautiful, boyish yes-‐I-‐am-‐ really-‐kinda-‐young smile, and he takes my breath away. Grabbing me by my waist, he swings me around. I squeal and start to giggle, and I donТt know if heТs just happy or relieved orЕ what? УMrs. Grey, do you know what this means to me?Ф УI do now.Ф He leans down and kisses me, his fingers moving into my hair, holding me in place. УIt means seven shades of Sunday,Ф he murmurs against my lips, and he runs his nose along mine. УYou think?Ф I lean back to gaze at him. УCertain promises were made. An offer extended, a deal brokered,Ф he whispers, his eyes sparkling with wicked delight. УUmЕФ I am still reeling, trying to follow his mood. УYou reneging on me?Ф he asks uncertainly, and a speculative look crosses his face. УI have an idea,Ф he adds. Oh, what kinky fuckery is this? УA really important matter to attend to,Ф he continues, suddenly all serious once more. УYes, Mrs. Grey. A matter of the gravest importance.Ф Hang on-‐heТs laughing at me. УWhat?Ф I breathe.
УI need you to cut my hair. Apparently itТs overlong, and my wife doesnТt like it.Ф УI canТt cut your hair!Ф УYes you can.Ф Christian grins and shakes his head so his overlong hair covers his eyes. УWell, if Mrs. Jones has a pudding bowl.Ф I giggle. He laughs.УOkay, good point well made. IТll get Franco to do it.Ф No! Franco works forher? Maybe I could give him a trim. After all, I cut RayТs hair for years, and he never complained. УCome.Ф I grab his hand. His eyes widen. I lead him all the way to our bathroom where I release him and grab the white wooden chair that stands in the corner. I place it in front of the sink. When I look at Christian, heТs gazing at me with ill-‐disguised amusement, thumbs tucked in the front belt loops of his pants but his eyes are smoking hot. УSit.Ф I gesture to the empty chair, trying to maintain the upper hand. УAre you going to wash my hair?Ф I nod. He arches one brow in surprise, and for a moment I think heТs going to back down. УOkay.Ф Slowly he begins to undo each button of his white shirt, starting with the one beneath his throat. Nimble, deft fingers move to each button in turn until his shirt hangs open. Oh myЕ My inner goddess pauses in her celebratory jaunt around the arena. Christian holds out a cuff with anУundo this nowФ gesture, and his mouth twitches in that challenging, sexy way he has. Oh, cufflinks. I take his proffered wrist and remove the first one, a platinum disc with his initials engraved in a simple italic script-‐and then remove its matching twin. As I finish I glance at him, and his amused expression is gone, replaced by something hotterЕ much hotter. I reach up and push his shirt off his shoulders, letting it fall to the floor. УReady?Ф I whisper. УFor whatever you want, Ana.Ф My eyes stray from his eyes to his lips. Parted so that he can inhale more deeply. Sculptured, chiseled, whatever, it is a beautiful mouth and he knows exactly what to do with it. I find myself leaning up to kiss him. УNo,Ф he says and places both of his hands on my shoulders. УDonТt. If you do that, IТll never get my hair cut.Ф Oh!УI want this,Ф he continues. And his eyes are round and raw for some inexplicable reason. ItТs disarming. УWhy?Ф I whisper. He stares at me for a beat, and his eyes grow wider.УBecause itТll make me feel cherished.Ф My heart practically lurches to a halt.Oh, ChristianЕ my Fifty. And before I know it IТve circled him in my arms, and I kiss his chest before nuzzling my cheek into his tickly chest hair. УAna. My Ana,Ф he whispers. He wraps his arms around me and we stand immobile, holding each other in our bathroom. Oh, how I love to be in his arms. Even if he is an overbearing, megalomaniac arse, heТsmy overbearing megalomaniac arse in need of a lifetime dose of TLC. I lean back without releasing him. УYou really want me to do this?Ф He nods and gives me his shy smile. I grin back at him and step out of his embrace. УThen sit,Ф I repeat.
He dutifully does, sitting with his back to the sink. I take off my shoes and kick them over to where his shirt lies crumpled on the bathroom floor. From the shower I retrieve his Chanel shampoo. We bought it in France. УWould sir like this?Ф I hold it up in both hands like IТm selling it on QVC. У Hand-‐delivered from the South of France. I like the smell of thisЕ it smells of you,Ф I add in a whisper, slipping out of my television presenter mode. УPlease.Ф He grins. I grab a small towel off the towel warmer. Mrs. Jones sure knows how to keep the towels super-‐soft. УLean forward,Ф I order and Christian complies. Draping the towel around his shoulders, I then turn on the taps and fill the sink with a mix of warm water. УLean back.Ф Oh, I like being in charge. Christian leans back, but heТs too tall. He shifts the seat forward then tilts back the entire chair until the top rests against the sink. Perfect distance. He tips back his head. Bold eyes gaze up at me, and I smile. Taking one of the drinking glasseswe keep on the vanity, I dip it into the water and tip it over ChristianТ s head, soaking his hair. I repeat the process, leaning over him. УYou smell so good, Mrs. Grey,Ф he murmurs and closes his eyes. As I methodically wet his hair, I freely gaze at him.Holy cow. Will I ever tire of this? Long dark lashes fan across his cheeks; his lips part a little, creating a small, dark diamond shape, and he inhales softly. HmmЕ how I long to poke my tongue-‐ I splash water into his eyes.Shit!УSorry!Ф He grabs the corner of the towel and laughs as he wipes the water out of his eyes. УHey, I know IТm an arse, but donТt drown me.Ф I lean down and kiss his forehead, giggling.УDonТt tempt me.Ф He curls his hand behind my head and shifts so that he captures my lips with his. He kisses me briefly, making a low contented sound in his throat. The noise connects to the muscles deep in my belly. ItТs a very seductive sound. He releases me and lies back obediently, gazing up at me with expectation. For a moment he looks vulnerable, like a child. It tugs at my heart. I squirt some shampoo into my palm and massage it into his scalp, beginning at his temples and working over the top of his head and down the sides, circling my fingers rhythmically. He closes his eyes again and makes that low humming sound again. УThat feels good,Ф he says after a moment and relaxes beneath the firm touch of my fingers. УYes it does.Ф I kiss his forehead once more. УI like it when you scratch my scalp with your fingernails.Ф His eyes are still closed, but his expression one of blissful contentment-‐no trace of his vulnerability remains. Jeez, how much his mood has changed, and I take comfort knowing itТs me thatТs done this. УHead up,Ф I command and he obeys. Hmm-‐a girl could get used to this. I rub the suds into the back of his hair, scraping my nails into his scalp. УBack.Ф He leans back, and I rinse off the lather, using the glass. This time I manage not to splash him. УOnce more?Ф I ask. УPlease.Ф His eyes flutter open and his serene gaze finds mine. I grin down at him. УComing right up, Mr. Grey.Ф I turn to the sink that Christian normally uses and fill it with warm water.
УFor rinsing,Ф I say when his look turns quizzical. I repeat the process with the shampoo, listening to his even deep breaths. Once he Тs all lathered up, I take another moment to appreciate the fine face of my husband. I cannot resist him. Tenderly, I caress his cheek, and he opens his eyes, watching me almost sleepily through his long lashes. Leaning forward I plant a soft, chaste kiss on his lips. He smiles, closes his eyes, and breathes out a sigh of utter contentment. Jeez. Who would have thought after our argument this afternoon he could be this relaxed? Without sex? I lean right over him. УHmm,Ф he murmurs appreciatively as my breasts brush his face. Resisting the urge to shimmy, I pull the plug so the sudsy water drains away. His hands move to my hips and around to my behind. УNo fondling the help,Ф I murmur, feigning disapproval. УDonТt forget IТm deaf,Ф he says, keeping his eyes closed, as he runs his hands down past my behind and starts to hitch up my skirt. I swat his arm. IТm enjoying playing hairdresser. He grins, big and boyish, like IТve caught him doing something illicit that he Тs secretly proud of. I reach for the glass again, but this time use the water from the neighboring sink to carefully rinse all the shampoo from his hair. I continue to lean over him, and he keeps his hands on my backside, thrumming his fingers back and forward, up and downЕ back and forthЕ hmm. I wiggle. He growls low in his throat. УThere. All rinsed.Ф УGood,Ф he declares. His fingers tighten on my behind, and all at once he sits up, his soaked hair dripping all over him. He pulls me down onto his lap, his hands moving from my behind up to the nape of my neck, then to my chin, holding me in place. I gasp with surprise and his lips are on mine, his tongue hot and hard in my mouth. My fingers curl around his wet hair, and drops of water run down my arms; and as he deepens the kiss, his hair bathes my face. His hand moves from my chin down to the top button of my blouse. УEnough of this primping. I want to fuck you seven shades of Sunday, and we can do it in here or in the bedroom. You decide.Ф ChristianТs eyes blaze, hot and full of promise, his hair dripping water onto us both. My mouth goes dry. УWhatТs it to be, Anastasia?Ф he asks as he holds in his lap. УYouТre wet,Ф I respond. He bends his head suddenly, running his dripping hair all down the front of my blouse. I squeal and try to wriggle off him. He tightens his grip around me. УOh, no you donТt, baby,Ф he murmurs. When he raises his head heТs grinning salaciously at me, and I am Miss Wet Blouse 2011. My top is soaked and totally see-‐ through. IТm wetЕ everywhere. УLove the view,Ф he murmurs and leans down to run his nose around and around one wet nipple. I squirm. УAnswer me, Ana. Here or the bedroom?Ф УHere,Ф I whisper frantically. To hell with the haircut-‐IТll do it later. He smiles slowly, his lips curling into a sensuous smile full of licentious promise. УGood choice, Mrs. Grey,Ф he murmurs against my lips. He releases my chin and his hand moves to my knee. It glides smoothly up my leg, lifting my skirt and skating over my skin, making me tingle. His lips trail soft kisses from the base of my ear along my jaw. УOh, what shall I do to you?Ф he whispers. His fingers halt at my stocking tops. УI like these,Ф he says. He runs a finger underneath the top and skims it around to my inner thigh. I gasp and squirm once more in his lap.
He groans, low in his throat.УIf IТm going to fuck you seven shades of Sunday, I want you to keep still.Ф УMake me,Ф I challenge, my voice soft and breathy. Christian inhales sharply. He narrows his eyes and regards me with a hot, hooded expression. УOh, Mrs. Grey. You have only to ask.Ф His hand moves from my stocking tops up to my panties. УLetТs divest you of these.Ф He tugs gently and I shift to help him. His breath hisses through his teeth as I do. УKeep still,Ф he grumbles. УIТm helping,Ф I pout, and he seizes my lower lip gently between his teeth. УStill,Ф he growls. He slides my panties down my legs and off. Tugging my skirt up so that itТs bunched around my hips, he moves both hands to my waist and lifts me. He still has my panties in his hand. УSit. Astride me,Ф he orders staring intently into my eyes. I shift, straddling him, and regard him provocatively.Bring it on, Fifty! УMrs. Grey,Ф he warns УAre you goading me?Ф He gazes at me, amused but aroused. ItТs a seductive combination. УYes. What are you going to do about it?Ф His eyes light up with salacious delight at my challenge, and I feel his arousal beneath me.УClasp your hands together behind your back.Ф Oh! I comply obediently and, he deftly binds my wrists together with my panties. УMy panties? Mr. Grey, you have no shame,Ф I admonish. УNot where youТre concerned, Mrs. Grey, but you know that.Ф His look is intense and hot. Putting his hands around my waist, he shifts me so I am sitting a little further back on his lap. Water still drips down his neck and over his chest. I want to bend forward and lick the drips off, but itТs trickier now that I am restrained. Christian caresses both of my thighs and skims his hands down to my knees. Gently he pushes them further apart and widens his own legs, holding me in that position. His fingers move to the buttons of my blouse. УI donТt think we need this,Ф he says. He starts methodically undoing each button on my clinging wet blouse, his eyes never leaving mine. They get darker and darker as he finishes the task, taking his own sweet time about it. My pulse quickens and my breathing shallows. I canТt believe it-‐heТs hardly touched me, and I feel like this-‐hot, botheredЕ ready. I want to squirm. He leaves my damp blouse hanging open and using both hands, he caresses my face with his fingers, his thumb skimming across my bottom lip. Suddenly, he thrusts his thumb into my mouth. УSuck,Ф he orders in a whisper, stressing theS. I close my mouth around him and do exactly that. OhЕ I like this game. He tastes good. What else would I like to suck? The muscles in my belly clench at the thought. His lips part when I scrape my teeth and bite the soft pad of his thumb. He groans and slowly extracts his wet thumb from my mouth and trails it down my chin, down my throat, over my sternum. He hooks it into the cup of my bra and yanks the cup down, freeing my breast. ChristianТs gaze never leaves mine. HeТs watching each reaction that his touch elicits from me, and IТm watching him. ItТs hot. Consuming. Possessive. I love it. He mirrors his actions with his other hand so both my breasts are free and, cupping them gently, he skims each thumb over a nipple, circling slowly, teasing and taunting each one so that they harden and distend beneath his skillful touch. I try, I really try not to move, but
my nipples are hotwired to my groin, so I moan and throw my head back, closing my eyes and surrendering to the sweet, sweet torture. УShh.Ф ChristianТs soothing voice is at odds with the teasing, even-‐tempo rhythm of his wicked fingers. УStill, baby, still.Ф Releasing one breast, he reaches up behind me and splays his hand around the nape of my neck. Leaning forward, he takes my now bereft nipple into his mouth and sucks hard, his wet hair tickling me. At the same time, his thumb stops skimming across my other elongated nipple. Instead, he takes it between his thumb and forefinger and tugs and twists it gently. УAh! Christian!Ф I groan and buck forward on his lap. But he doesnТt stop. He continues the slow, leisurely, agonizing tease. And my body is burning as the pleasure takes a darker turn. УChristian, please,Ф I whimper. УHmm,Ф he hums low in his chest. УI want you to come like this.Ф My nipple gets a brief respite as his words caress my skin, and itТs like heТs calling to a deep, dark part of my psyche that only he knows. When he resumes with his teeth this time, the pleasure is almost intolerable. Moaning loudly, I writhe on his lap, trying to find some precious friction against his pants. I pull uselessly against my restraining panties, itching to touch him, but IТm lost-‐lost in this treacherous sensation. УPlease,Ф I whisper, pleading, and pleasure flies through my body, from my neck, right down to my legs, to my toes, tightening all in its wake. УYou have such beautiful breasts, Ana.Ф He groans. УOne day IТll fuck them.Ф What the hell does that mean? Opening my eyes, I gape down at him as he suckles me, my skin singing under his touch. I no longer feel my sodden blouse, his wet hairЕ nothing except the burn. And it burns deliciously hot and low, deep inside me, and all thought evaporates as my body tightens and clenchesЕ ready, reachingЕ pining for release. And he doesnТt stop-‐teasing, pulling, driving me wild. I wantЕ I wantЕ УLet go,Ф he breathes-‐and I do, loudly, my orgasm convulsing through my body, and he stops his sweet torture and wraps his arms around me, clutching me to him as my body spirals down from my climax. When I open my eyes, he is gazing down at me where I rest against his chest. УGod, I love to watch you come, Ana.Ф His voice is full of wonder. УThat wasЕФ Words fail me. УI know.Ф He leans forward and kisses me, his hand still at the nape of my neck, holding me just so, angling my head so he can kiss me deeply-‐with love, with reverence. I am lost in his kiss. He pulls away to draw breath, his eyes the color of a tropical storm. УNow IТm going to fuck you, hard,Ф he murmurs. Holy cow. Grabbing me around the waist, he lifts me from his thighs down to the edge of his knees and reaches with his right hand for the button on the waistband of his navy pants. He runs the fingers of his left hand up and down my thigh, stopping at my stocking tops each time. HeТs watching me intently. WeТre face to face and IТm helpless, trussed up in my bra and by my panties, and this has to be one of the most intimate times weТve had-‐me sitting on his lap, staring into his beautiful gray eyes. It makes me feel wanton, but also so connected to him-‐I am not embarrassed or shy. This is Christian, my husband, my lover, my overbearing megalomaniac, my Fifty-‐the love of my life. He reaches for his zipper, and my mouth goes dry as his erection springs free. He smirks.УYou like?Ф he whispers. УHmm,Ф I murmur appreciatively. He wraps his hand around himself and moves it up and downЕOh my. I gaze up at him through my lashes. Fuck, heТs so sexy.
УYouТre biting your lip, Mrs. Grey.Ф УThatТs because IТm hungry.Ф УHungry?Ф His mouth opens in surprise, and his eyes widen a fraction. УHmmЕФ I agree and lick my lips. He gives me his enigmatic smile and bites his lower lip as he continues to stroke himself. Why is the sight of my husband pleasuring himself such a turn-‐on? УI see. You should have eaten your dinner.Ф His tone is mocking and censorious at once. УBut maybe I can oblige.Ф He puts his hands on my waist. УStand,Ф he says softly, and I know what heТs going to do. I get to my feet, my legs no longer shaking. УKneel.Ф I do as IТm told and kneel down on the cool tiled floor of the bathroom. He slides forward on the seat of the chair. УKiss me,Ф he utters holding his erection. I glance up at him, and he runs his tongue over his top teeth. ItТs arousing, very arousing, to see his desire, his naked desire for me and my mouth. Leaning forward, my eyes on his, I kiss the tip of his erection. I watch him inhale sharply and clench his teeth. Christian cups the side of my head, and I run my tongue over the tip, tasting the small bead of dew on the end. HmmЕ he tastes good. His mouth drops open further as he gasps and I pounce, pulling him into my mouth and sucking hard. УAh-‐Ф The air hisses through his teeth, and he flexes his hips forward, thrusting into my mouth. But I donТt stop. Sheathing my teeth behind my lips, I push down and then pull up on him. He moves both hands so that he fully cups my head, burying his fingers in my hair and slowly eases himselfin and out of my mouth, his breathing quickening, growing harsher. I twirl my tongue around his tip and push down again in perfect counterpoint to him. УJesus, Ana.Ф He sighs and screws his eyes tightly. HeТs lost and itТs heady, his response to me.Me. My inner goddess could light up Escala, sheТs so thrilled. And very slowly I draw my lips back, so itТs just my teeth. УAh!Ф Christian stops moving. Leaning forward he grabs me and pulls me up onto his lap. УEnough!Ф he growls. Reaching behind me, he frees my hands with one tug on my panties. I flex my wrists and stare from under my lashes into scorching eyes that gaze back at me with love and longing and lust. And I realize itТs me that wants to fuck him seven shades of Sunday. I want him badly. I want to watch him come apart beneath me. I grab his erection and scoot over him. Placing my other hand on his shoulder, very gently and slowly, I ease myself onto him. He makes a guttural, feral noise deep in his throat and, reaching up, pulls off my blouse letting it fall to the floor. His hands move to my hips. УStill,Ф he rasps, his hands digging into my flesh. УPlease, let me savor this. Savor you.Ф I stop.Oh myЕ he feels so good inside me. He caresses my face, his eyes wide and wild, his lips parted as he breathes. He flexes beneath me and I moan, closing my eyes. УThis is my favorite place,Ф he whispers. УInside you. Inside my wife.Ф Oh fuck. Christian. I cannot hold back. My fingers glide into his wet hair, my lips seek his, and I start to move. Up and down on my toes, savoring him, savoring me. He groans loudly, and his hands are in my hair and around my back, and his tongue invades my mouth greedily, taking all that I willingly give. After all our arguing today, my frustration with him, his with me-‐we still have this. We will always have this. I love him so much, itТs almost overwhelming. His hands move to my backside and he controls me, moving me up and down, again and again, at his pace-‐his hot, slick tempo.
УAh,Ф I groan helplessly into his mouth as IТm carried away. УYes. Yes, Ana,Ф he hisses, and I rain kisses on his face, his chin, his jaw, his neck. УBaby,Ф he breathes, capturing my mouth once more. УOh, Christian, I love you. I will always love you.Ф IТm breathless, wanting him to know, wanting him to be sure of me after our battle of wills today. He moans loudly and wraps his arms around me tightly as he climaxes with a mournful sob, and itТs enough-‐enough to push me over the brink once more. I clutch my arms around his head and let go, and I come around him, tears springing to my eyes because I love him so. УHey,Ф he whispers, tipping my chin back and gazing at me with quiet concern. УWhy are you crying? Did I hurt you?Ф УNo,Ф I mutter reassuringly. He smoothes my hair off my face, wipes away a lone tear with this thumb and tenderly kisses my lips. He is still inside me. He shifts, and I wince as he pulls out of me. УWhatТs wrong, Ana? Tell me.Ф I sniff.УItТs justЕ itТs just sometimes IТm overwhelmed by how much I love you,Ф I whisper. After a beat, he smiles his special shy smile-‐reserved for me, I think.УYou have the same effect on me,Ф he whispers, and kisses me once more. I smile, and inside my joy unfurls and stretches lazily. УDo I?Ф He smirks.УYou know you do.Ф УSometimes I know. Not all the time.Ф УBack at you, Mrs. Grey,Ф he whispers. I grin and gently place feather-‐light kisses over his chest. I nuzzle his chest hair. Christian caresses my hair and runs a hand down my back. He unclasps my bra and pulls the strap down one arm. I shift, and he tugs the strap down the other arm and drops my bra on the floor. УHmm. Skin on skin,Ф he murmurs appreciatively and folds me in his arms again. He kisses my shoulder and runs his nose up to my ear. УYou smell like heaven, Mrs. Grey. Ф УSo do you, Mr. Grey.Ф I nuzzle him again and inhale his Christian smell, which is now mixed with the heady scent of sex. I could stay wrapped in his arms like this, sated and happy, forever. ItТs just what I need after a full day of back-‐to-‐work, arguing, and bitch slapping. This is where I want to be, and in spite of his control freakery, his megalomania, this is where I belong. Christian buries his nose in my hair and inhales deeply. I let out a contented sigh, and I feel his smile. And we sit, arms clasped around each other, saying nothing. Eventually reality intrudes. УItТs late,Ф Christian says, his fingers methodically stroking my back. УYour hair still needs cutting.Ф He chuckles.УThat it does, Mrs. Grey. Do you have the energy to finish the job you started?Ф УFor you, Mr. Grey, anything.Ф I kiss his chest once more and reluctantly stand. УDonТt go.Ф Grabbing my hips, he turns me around. He straightens then undoes my skirt, letting it drop to the floor. He holds his hand out to me. I take it and step out of my skirt. Now I am dressed solely in stockings and garter belt.
УYou are a mighty fine sight, Mrs. Grey.Ф He sits back in the chair and crosses his arms, giving me a full and frank appraisal. I hold out my hands and twirl for him. УGod, IТm a lucky son of a bitch,Ф he says admiringly. УYes, you are.Ф He grins.УPut my shirt on and you can cut my hair. Like this, youТll distract me, and weТll never get to bed.Ф I canТt help my answering smile. Knowing that heТs watching my every move, I sashay over to where we left my shoes and his shirt. Bending slowly, I reach down, pick up his shirt, smell it-‐hmm-‐then shrug it on. ChristianТs eyes are round. HeТs redone his fly and is watching me intently. УThatТs quite a floor show, Mrs. Grey.Ф УDo we have any scissors?Ф I ask innocently, batting my eyelashes. УMy study,Ф he croaks. УIТll go search.Ф Leaving him, I walk into our bedroom and grab my comb from the dressing table before heading to his study. As I enter the main corridor, I notice the door to TaylorТs office is open. Mrs. Jones is standing just beyond the door. I stop, rooted to the spot. Taylor is running his fingers down her face and smiling sweetly at her. Then he leans down and kisses her. Holy shit!Taylor and Mrs. Jones? I gape in astonishment-‐I mean, I thoughtЕ well, I kind of suspected. But obviously they are together! I flush, feeling like a voyeur, and manage to get my feet to move. I scamper across the great room and into ChristianТs study. Switching on the light, I walk to his desk. Taylor and Mrs. JonesЕ Wow! IТm reeling. I always thought Mrs. Jones was older than Taylor. Oh, I have to get my head around this. I open the top drawer and am immediately distracted when I find a gun.Christian has a gun! A revolver.Holy fuck! I had no idea Christian owned a gun. I take it out, slip the release and check the cylinder. ItТs fully loaded, but lightЕ too light. It must be carbon fiber. What does Christian want with a gun? Jeez, I hope he knows how to use it. RayТs perpetual warnings about handguns run quickly through my mind. His army training was never lost.These will kill you, Ana. You need to know what youТre doing when youТre handling a firearm. I put the gun back and find the scissors. Retrieving them quickly, I bolt back to Christian, my head buzzing. Taylor and Mrs. JonesЕ the revolverЕ At the entrance to the great room, I run into Taylor. УMrs. Grey, excuse me.Ф His face reddens as he quickly takes in my attire. УUm, Taylor, hiЕ um. IТm cutting ChristianТs hair!Ф I blurt out, embarrassed. Taylor is as mortified as I am. He opens his mouth to say something then closes it quickly and stands aside. УAfter you, maТam,Ф he says formally. I think IТm the color of my old Audi, the submissive special. Jeez. Could this be more embarrassing? УThank you,Ф I mutter and dash down the hallway.Crap! Will I ever get used to the fact that weТre not alone? I dash into the bathroom, breathless. УWhatТs wrong?Ф Christian is standing in front of the mirror, holding my shoes. All of my scattered clothes are now neatly piled beside the sink. УI just ran into Taylor.Ф УOh.Ф Christian frowns. УDressed like that.Ф Oh shit!УThatТs not TaylorТs fault.Ф
ChristianТs frown deepens. УNo. But still.Ф УIТm dressed.Ф УBarely.Ф УI donТt know who was more embarrassed, me or him.Ф I try my distraction technique. УDid you know he and Gail areЕ well, together?Ф Christian laughs.УYes, of course I knew.Ф УAnd you never told me?Ф УI thought you knew, too.Ф УNo.Ф УAna, theyТre adults. They live under the same roof. Both unattached. Both attractive.Ф I flush, feeling foolish for not having noticed. УWell, if you put it like thatЕ I just thought Gail was older than Taylor.Ф УShe is, but not by much.Ф He gazes at me, perplexed. УSome men like older women-‐Ф He stops abruptly and his eyes widen. I scowl at him.УI know that,Ф I snap. Christian looks contrite. He smiles fondly at me. Yes! My distraction technique successful! My subconscious rolls her eyes at me-‐but at what cost? Now the unmentionable Mrs. Robinson is looming over us. УThat reminds me,Ф he says, brightly. УWhat?Ф I mutter petulantly. Grabbing the chair, I turn it to face the mirror above the sinks. УSit,Ф I order. Christian regards me with indulgent amusement, but does as heТs told and sits back down in the chair. I start to comb through his now merely damp hair. УI was thinking we could convert the rooms over the garages for them at the new place,Ф Christian continues. УMake it a home. Then maybe TaylorТs daughter could stay with him more often.Ф He watches me carefully in the mirror. УWhy doesnТt she stay here?Ф УTaylorТs never asked me.Ф УPerhaps you should offer. But weТd have to behave ourselves.Ф ChristianТs brow furrows. УI hadnТt thought of that.Ф УPerhaps thatТs why Taylor hasnТt asked. Have you met her?Ф УYes. SheТs a sweet thing. Shy. Very pretty. I pay for her schooling.Ф Oh! I stop combing and stare at him in the mirror. УI had no idea.Ф He shrugs.УSeemed the least I could do. Also, it means he wonТt quit.Ф УIТm sure he likes working for you.Ф Christian stares at me blankly then shrugs.УI donТt know.Ф УI think heТs very fond of you, Christian.Ф I resume combing and glance at him. His eyes donТt leave mine. УYou think?Ф УYes. I do.Ф He snorts a dismissive yet content sound as if heТs secretly pleased that his staff may like him. УGood. Will you talk to Gia about the rooms over the garage?Ф
УYes, of course.Ф I donТt feel the same irritation I did before at the mention of her name. My subconscious nods sagely at me.YesЕwe done good today. My inner goddess gloats. Now sheТll leave my husband alone and not make him uncomfortable. I am ready to cut ChristianТs hair. УYou sure about this? Your last chance to bail. Ф УDo your worst, Mrs. Grey. I donТt have to look at me, you do.Ф I grin.УChristian, I could look at you all day.Ф He shakes his head exasperated.УItТs just a pretty face, baby.Ф УAnd behind it is a very pretty man.Ф I kiss his temple. УMy man.Ф He grins shyly. Lifting the first lock, I comb it upward and snare it between my index and middle finger. I put the comb in my mouth, take the scissors and make the first snip, cutting an inch off the length. Christian closes his eyes and sits like a statue, sighing contentedly as I continue. Occasionally he opens his eyes, and I catch him watching me intently. He doesnТ t touch me while I work, and IТm grateful. His touch isЕ distracting. Fifteen minutes later, IТm done. УFinished.Ф IТm pleased with the result. He looks as hot as ever, his hair still floppy and sexyЕ just a bit shorter. Christian gazes at himself in the mirror, looking pleasantly surprised. He grins.У Great job, Mrs. Grey.Ф He turns his head from side to side and snakes his arm around me. Pulling me to him, he kisses and nuzzles my belly. УThank you,Ф he says. УMy pleasure.Ф I bend and kiss him briefly. УItТs late. Bed.Ф He gives my behind a playful slap. УAh! I should clean up in here.Ф There is hair all over the floor. Christian frowns, as if the thought would never have occurred to him.УOkay, IТll get the broom,Ф he says wryly. УI donТt want you embarrassing the staff with your lack of appropriate attire.Ф УDo you know where the broom is?Ф I ask innocently. This stops Christian in his tracks.УUmЕ no.Ф I laugh.УIТll go.Ф As I climb into bed and wait for Christian to join me, I reflect on how differently this day could have ended. I was so mad at him earlier, and he with me. How am I going to deal with this running-‐a-‐company nonsense? I have no desire to run my own company. I am not him. I need to head this off at the pass. Perhaps I should have a safe word for when heТs being overbearing and domineering, for when heТs being an arse. I giggle. Perhaps the safe word should bearse. I find the thought very appealing. УWhat?Ф he says as he climbs into bed beside me wearing only his pajama pants. УNothing. Just an idea.Ф УWhat idea?Ф He stretches out beside me. Here goes nothing.УChristian, I donТt think I want to run a company.Ф He props himself up on his elbow and gazes down at me.УWhy do you say that?Ф УBecause itТs not something that has ever appealed to me.Ф УYouТre more than capable, Anastasia.Ф УI like to read books, Christian. Running a company will take me away from that. Ф УYou could be the creative head.Ф
I frown. УYou see,Ф he continues, Уrunning a successful company is all about embracing the talent of the individuals you have at your disposal. If thatТs where your talents and your interests lie, then you structure the company to enable that. DonТt dismiss it out of hand, Anastasia. YouТre a very capable woman. I think you could do anything you wanted if you put your mind to it.Ф Whoa! How can he possibly know that IТd be any good at this? УIТm also worried it will take up too much of my time.Ф Christian frowns. УTime I could devote to you.Ф I deploy my secret weapon. His gaze darkens.УI know what youТre doing,Ф he murmurs, amused. Damn it! УWhat?Ф I feign innocence. УYouТre trying to distract me from the issue at hand. You always do that. Just donТt dismiss the idea, Ana. Think about it. ThatТs all I ask.Ф He leans down and kisses me chastely, then skims his thumb down my cheek. This argument is going to run and run. I smile up at him-‐and something he said earlier today pops unbidden into my mind. УCan I ask you something?Ф My voice is soft, tentative. УOf course.Ф УEarlier today you said if I was angry with you, I should take it out on you in bed. What did you mean?Ф He stills.УWhat did you think I meant?Ф Holy shit! I should just say it.УThat you wanted me to tie you up.Ф His eyebrows shoot up in surprise.УUmЕ no. ThatТs not what I meant at all.Ф УOh.Ф IТm surprised by my slight twinge of disappointment. УYou want to tie me up?Ф he asks, obviously reading my expression correctly. He sounds shocked. I blush. УWellЕФ УAna, I-‐Ф he stops, and something dark crosses his face. УChristian,Ф I whisper, alarmed. I move so that I am lying on my side, propped up on my elbow like him. I caress his face. His eyes are large and fearful. He shakes his head sadly. Shit!УChristian, stop. It doesnТt matter. I thought thatТs what you meant.Ф He takes my hand and places it on his pounding heart.Fuck! What is it? УAna, I donТt know how IТd feel about you touching me if I were restrained.Ф My scalp prickles. ItТs like heТs confessing something deep and dark. УThis is still too new.Ф His voice is low and raw. Fuck. It was just a question, and I realize that heТs come a long way, but he still has a long way to go.Oh, Fifty, Fifty, Fifty. Anxiety grips my heart. I lean over and he freezes, but I plant a soft kiss at the corner of his mouth. УChristian, I got the wrong idea. Please donТt worry about it. Please donТt think about it.Ф I kiss him. He closes his eyes, groans and reciprocates, pushing me down into the mattress, his hands clasping my chin. And soon weТre lostЕ lost in each other again. 9 [ артинка: pic_62.jpg] When I wake before the alarm the following morning, Christian is wrapped around me like ivy, his head on my chest, his arm around my waist, and his leg between mine. And
heТs on my side of the bed. ItТs always the same, if we argue the night before, this is how he ends up, coiled around me, making me hot and bothered. Oh, Fifty. He is so needy on some level. Who would have thought? The familiar vision of Christian as a dirty, wretched little boy haunts me. Gently, I stroke his shorter hair and my melancholy recedes. He stirs, and his sleepy eyes meet mine. He blinks a couple of times as he wakes. УHi,Ф he murmurs and smiles. УHi.Ф I love waking to that smile. He nuzzles my breasts and hums appreciatively deep in his throat. His hand travels down from my waist, skimming over the cool satin of my nightgown. УWhat a tempting morsel you are,Ф he mutters. УBut, tempting though you are, Ф he glances at the alarm, УI have to get up.Ф He stretches out, untangles himself from me, and rises. I lie back, put my hands behind my head, and enjoy the show-‐Christian stripping for his shower. He is perfect. I wouldnТt change a hair on his head. УAdmiring the view, Mrs. Grey?Ф Christian arches a sardonic brow at me. УItТs a mighty fine view, Mr. Grey.Ф He grins and throws his pajama pants at me so they almost land on my face, but I catch them in time, giggling like a schoolgirl. With a wicked grin, he pulls the duvet off, puts one knee on the bed, grabs my ankles, and drags me toward him so that my nightdress rides up. I squeal, and he crawls up my body, trailing little kisses on my knee, my thighЕ myЕ ohЕChristian! УGood morning, Mrs. Grey,Ф Mrs. Jones greets me. I flush, embarrassed remembering her tryst with Taylor the night before. УGood morning,Ф I respond as she hands me a cup of tea. I sit on the bar stool beside my husband, who just looks radiant: freshly showered, his hair damp, wearing a crisp white shirt and that silver-‐gray tie. My favorite tie. I have fond memories of that tie. УHow are you, Mrs. Grey?Ф he asks, his eyes warm. УI think you know, Mr. Grey.Ф I gaze up at him through my lashes. He smirks.УEat,Ф he orders. УYou didnТt eat yesterday.Ф Oh, bossy Fifty! УThatТs because you were being an arse.Ф Mrs. Jones drops something that clatters into the sink, making me jump. Christian seems oblivious to the noise. Ignoring her, he stares at me impassively. УArse or not-‐eat.Ф His tone is serious. No arguing with him. УOkay! Picking up spoon, eating granola,Ф I mutter like a petulant teenager. I reach for the Greek yoghurt and spoon some onto my cereal, followed by a handful of blueberries. I glance at Mrs. Jones and she catches my eye. I smile, and she responds with a warm smile of her own. She has providedme with my breakfast of choice introduced to me on our honeymoon. УI may have to go to New York later in the week.Ф ChristianТs announcement interrupts my reverie. УOh.Ф УItТll mean an overnight. I want you to come with me.Ф УChristian, I wonТt get the time off.Ф He gives me his oh-‐really-‐but-‐IТm-‐the-‐boss-‐stare. I sigh.УI know you own the company, but IТve been away for three weeks. Please. How can you expect me to run the business if IТm never there? IТll be fine here. I
Тm assuming youТll take Taylor with you, but Sawyer and Ryan will be here-‐Ф I stop, because Christian is grinning at me. УWhat?Ф I snap. УNothing. Just you,Ф he says. I frown. Is he laughing at me? Then a nasty thought pops into my mind.УHow are you getting to New York?Ф УThe company jet, why?Ф УI just wanted to check if you were taking Charlie Tango.Ф My voice is quiet, and a shiver runs down my spine. I remember the last time he flew his helicopter. A wave of nausea hits me as I recall the anxious hours I spent waiting for news. That was possibly the lowest point in my life. I notice Mrs. Jones has stilled, too. I try to dismiss the idea. УI wouldnТt fly to New York in Charlie Tango. She doesnТt have that kind of range. Besides, she wonТt be back from the engineers for another two weeks.Ф Thank heavens. My smile is partly from relief, but also the knowledge that the demise of Charlie Tango has occupied a great deal of ChristianТs thoughts and time over the last few weeks. УWell IТm glad sheТs nearly fixed, but-‐Ф I stop. Can I tell him how nervous IТ ll be when he flies next time? УWhat?Ф he asks as he finishes his omelet. I shrug. УAna?Ф he says, more sternly. УI justЕ you know. Last time you flew in herЕ I thought, we thought, youТd-‐Ф I canТt finish the sentence, and ChristianТs expression softens. УHey.Ф He caresses my face with the back of his knuckles. УThat was sabotage. Ф A dark expression crosses his face, and for a moment I wonder if he knows who was responsible. УI couldnТt bear to lose you,Ф I murmur. УFive people have been fired because of that, Ana. It wonТt happen again.Ф УFive?Ф He nods, his face serious. Holy crap! УThat reminds me. ThereТs a gun in your desk.Ф He frowns at my non sequitur and probably at my accusatory tone, though I donТ t mean it that way. УItТs LeilaТs,Ф he says finally. УItТs fully loaded.Ф УHow do you know?Ф His frown deepens. УI checked it yesterday.Ф He scowls at me.УI donТt want you messing with guns. I hope you put the safety back on.Ф I blink at him, momentarily stupefied.УChristian, thereТs no safety on that revolver. DonТt you know anything about guns?Ф His eyes widen.УUmЕ no.Ф Taylor coughs discreetly from the entrance. Christian nods at him. УWe have to go,Ф Christian says. He stands, distracted, and slips on his gray jacket. I follow him into the hallway. He has LeilaТs gun. I am stunned by this news and briefly wonder whatТs happened to her. Is she still in-‐where is it? East somewhere. New Hampshire? I canТt remember.
УGood morning, Taylor,Ф Christian says. УGood morning, Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey.Ф He nods at us both, but heТs careful not to look me in the eye. IТm grateful, recalling my state of undress when we bumped into each other last night. УI am just going to brush my teeth,Ф I mutter. Christian always brushes his teeth before breakfast. I donТt understand why. УYou should ask Taylor to teach you how to shoot,Ф I say as we travel down in the elevator. Christian gazes down at me, amused. УShould I now?Ф he says dryly. УYes.Ф УAnastasia, I despise guns. My mom has patched up too many victims of gun crime, and my dad is vehemently antigun. I grew up with their ethos. I support at least two gun control initiatives here in Washington.Ф УOh. Does Taylor carry a gun?Ф ChristianТs mouth thins. УSometimes.Ф УYou donТt approve?Ф I ask, as Christian ushers me out of the elevator on the ground floor. УNo,Ф he says, tight-‐lipped. УLetТs just say that Taylor and I hold very different views with regard to gun control.Ф IТm with Taylor on this. Christian holds the foyer door open for me and I head out to the car. He has not let me drive alone to SIP since he found out that Charlie Tango was sabotaged. Sawyer smiles pleasantly, holding the door open for me as Christian and I climb into the car. УPlease.Ф I reach across and grasp ChristianТs hand. УPlease what?Ф УLearn how to shoot.Ф He rolls his eyes at me.УNo. End of discussion, Anastasia.Ф And I am a child again to be scolded. I open my mouth to say something cutting, but decide I donТt want to start my workday in a bad mood. I fold my arms instead and glimpse Taylor regarding me in the rearview mirror. He looks away, concentrating on the road in front, but shakes his head a little, in obvious frustration. HmmЕ Christian drives him crazy, too, sometimes. The thought makes me smile, and my mood is saved. УWhere is Leila?Ф I ask as Christian gazes out of his window. УI told you. SheТs in Connecticut with her folks.Ф He glances at me. УDid you check? After all, she does have long hair. It could have been her driving the Dodge.Ф УYes, I checked. SheТs enrolled in an art school in Hamden. She started this week.Ф УYouТve spoken to her?Ф I whisper, all the blood draining from my face. Christian whips his head around at the tone of my voice. УNo. Flynn has.Ф He searches my face for a clue to my thoughts. УI see,Ф I murmur, relieved. УWhat?Ф УNothing.Ф Christian sighs.УAna. What is it?Ф I shrug, not wanting to admit to my irrational jealousy.
Christian continues,УIТm keeping tabs on her, checking that she stays on her side of the continent. SheТs better, Ana. Flynn has referred her to a shrink in New Haven, and all the reports are very positive. SheТs always been interested in art, soЕФ He stops, his face still searching mine. And in that moment I suspect that he is paying for her art classes. Do I want to know? Should I ask him? I mean itТs not as if he canТt afford it, but why does he feel the obligation? I sigh. ChristianТs baggage hardly compares to Bradley Kent from biology class and his half-‐assed attempts to kiss me. Christian reaches for my hand. УDonТt sweat this, Anastasia,Ф he murmurs, and I return his reassuring squeeze. I know heТs doing what he thinks is right. Midmorning I have a break in meetings. As I pick up the phone to call Kate, I notice an e-‐mail from Christian. [ артинка: pic_63.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Flattery Date: August 23, 2011 09:54 To: Anastasia Grey Mrs. Grey I have received three compliments on my new haircut. Compliments from my staff are new. It must be the ridiculous smile IТm wearing whenever I think about last night. You are indeed a wonderful, talented, beautiful woman. And all mine. Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. I melt reading it. [ артинка: pic_64.jpg] From: Anastasia Grey Subject: Trying to concentrate here. Date: August 23, 2011 10:48 To: Christian Grey Mr. Grey I am trying to work and donТt want to be distracted by delicious memories. Is now the time to confess that I used to cut RayТs hair regularly? I had no idea it would be such useful training. And yes, I am yours and you, my dear overbearing husband who refuses to exercise his constitutional right under the second amendment to bear arms, are mine. But donТt worry because I shall protect you. Always. Anastasia Grey Commissioning Editor, SIP [ артинка: pic_65.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Annie Oakley Date: August 23, 2011 10:53 To: Anastasia Grey Mrs. Grey I am delighted to see you have spoken to the IT dept and changed your name.:D I shall sleep safe in my bed knowing that my gun-‐toting wife sleeps beside me. Christian Grey CEO& Hoplophobe, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. Hoplophobe? What the hell is that? [ артинка: pic_66.jpg] From: Anastasia Grey Subject: Long words Date: August 23, 2011 10:58
To: Christian Grey Mr. Grey Once more you dazzle me with your linguistic prowess. In fact, your prowess in general, and I think you know what IТm referring to. Anastasia Grey Commissioning Editor, SIP [ артинка: pic_67.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Gasp! Date: August 23, 2011 11:01 To: Anastasia Grey Mrs. Grey Are you flirting with me? Christian Grey Shocked CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. [ артинка: pic_68.jpg] From: Anastasia Grey Subject: Would you ratherЕ Date: August 23, 2011 11:04 To: Christian Grey I flirted with someone else? Anastasia Grey Brave Commissioning Editor, SIP [ артинка: pic_69.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Grrrrr Date: August 23, 2011 11:09 To: Anastasia Grey NO! Christian Grey Possessive CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. [ артинка: pic_70.jpg] From: Anastasia Grey Subject: WowЕ Date: August 23, 2011 11:14 To: Christian Grey Are you growling at me?ТCause thatТs kinda hot. Anastasia Grey Squirming (in a good way) Commissioning Editor, SIP [ артинка: pic_71.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Beware Date: August 23, 2011 11:16 To: Anastasia Grey Flirting and toying with me, Mrs. Grey? I may pay you a visit this afternoon. Christian Grey Priapic CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. [ артинка: pic_72.jpg] From: Anastasia Grey Subject: Oh No! Date: August 23, 2011 11:20 To: Christian Grey IТll behave. I wouldnТt want my bossТs bossТs boss getting on top of me at work.;)
Now let me get on with my job. My bossТs bossТs boss may fire my ass. Anastasia Grey Commissioning Editor, SIP [ артинка: pic_73.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject:&*%$&*&* Date: August 23, 2011 11:23 To: Anastasia Grey Believe me when I say there are a great many things heТd like to do to your ass right now. Firing you is not one of them. Christian Grey CEO& Ass man, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. His response makes me giggle. [ артинка: pic_74.jpg] From: Anastasia Grey Subject: Go Away! Date: August 23, 2011 11:26 To: Christian Grey DonТt you have an empire to run? Stop bothering me. My next appointment is here. I thought you were a breast manЕ Think about my ass, and IТll think about yoursЕ ILY x Anastasia Grey Now Moist Commissioning Editor, SIP [ артинка: pic_75.jpg] I cannot help my despondent mood as Sawyer drives me to the office on Thursday. ChristianТs threatened business trip to New York has happened, and though heТs only been gone a few hours, I miss him already. I fire up my computer, and thereТs an email waiting for me. My mood lifts immediately. [ артинка: pic_76.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Miss you already Date: August 25, 2011 04:32 To: Anastasia Grey Mrs. Grey You were adorable this morning. Behave while IТm away. I love you. Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. This will be the first night weТve slept apart since our wedding. I intend to have a few cocktails with Kate-‐that should help me sleep. Impulsively, I e-‐mail him back, although I know that heТs still flying. [ артинка: pic_77.jpg] From: Anastasia Grey Subject: Behave Yourself! Date: August 25, 2011 09:03 To: Christian Grey Let me know when you land-‐IТll worry until you do. And I shall behave. I mean how much trouble can I get into with Kate? Anastasia Grey Commissioning Editor, SIP
I hit send and sip my latte, courtesy of Hannah. Who knew IТd grow to love coffee? Despite the fact that IТm going out this evening with Kate, I feel like a chunk of me is missing. At the moment, itТs thirty-‐five thousand feet somewhere above the Midwest en route to New York. I didnТt know I would feel this unsettled and anxious just because ChristianТs away. Surely over time I wonТt feel this loss and uncertainty, will I? I let out a heavy sigh and continue with my work. Around lunchtime, I start manically checking my e-‐mail and my BlackBerry for a text. Where is he? Has he landed safely? Hannah asks if I want lunch, but IТm too apprehensive and wave her away. I know itТs irrational, but I need to be sure heТs arrived safely. My office phone rings, startling me.УAna St-‐Grey.Ф УHi.Ф ChristianТs voice is warm with a trace of amusement. Relief floods through me. УHi.Ф IТm grinning from ear to ear. УHow was your flight?Ф УLong. What are you doing with Kate?Ф Oh no.УWeТre just going out for a quiet drink.Ф Christian says nothing. УSawyer and the new woman-‐Prescott-‐are coming to watch over us,Ф I offer, trying to placate him. УI thought Kate was coming to the apartment.Ф УShe is after a quick drink.ФPlease let me go out! Christian sighs heavily.УWhy didnТt you tell me?Ф he says quietly. Too quietly. I mentally kick myself.УChristian, weТll be fine. I have Ryan, Sawyer, and Prescott here. ItТs only a quick drink.Ф Christian remains resolutely silent, and I know heТs not happy. УIТve only seen her a few times since you and I met. Please. SheТs my best friend.Ф УAna, I donТt want to keep you from your friends. But I thought she was coming back to the apartment.Ф УOkay,Ф I acquiesce. УWeТll stay in.Ф УOnly while this lunatic is out there. Please.Ф УIТve said okay,Ф I mutter in exasperation, rolling my eyes. Christian snorts softly down the phone.УI always know when youТre rolling your eyes at me.Ф I scowl at the receiver.УLook, IТm sorry. I didnТt mean to worry you. IТll tell Kate.Ф УGood,Ф he breathes, his relief evident. I feel guilty for worrying him. УWhere are you?Ф УOn the tarmac at JFK.Ф УOh, so you just landed.Ф УYes. You asked me to call the moment I landed.Ф I smile. My subconscious glares at me.See? He does what he says heТs going to do. УWell, Mr. Grey, IТm glad one of us is punctilious.Ф He laughs.УMrs. Grey, your gift for hyperbole knows no bounds. What am I going to do with you?Ф УI am sure youТll think of something imaginative. You usually do.Ф УAre you flirting with me?Ф УYes.Ф
I sense his grin.УIТd better go. Ana, do as youТre told, please. The security team knows what theyТre doing.Ф УYes, Christian, I will.Ф I sound exasperated again.Jeez, I get the message. УIТll see you tomorrow evening. IТll call you later.Ф УTo check up on me?Ф УYes.Ф УOh, Christian!Ф I scold him. УAu revoir, Mrs. Grey.Ф УAu revoir, Christian. I love you.Ф He inhales sharply.УAnd I you, Ana.Ф Neither of us hangs up. УHang up, Christian,Ф I whisper. УYouТre a bossy little thing, arenТt you?Ф УYour bossy little thing.Ф УMine,Ф he breathes. УDo as youТre told. Hang up.Ф УYes, Sir.Ф I hang up and grin stupidly at the phone. A few moments later, an e-‐mail appears in my inbox. [ артинка: pic_78.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Twitching Palms Date: August 25, 2011 13:42 EDT To: Anastasia Grey Mrs. Grey You are as entertaining as ever on the phone. I mean it. Do as youТre told. I need to know youТre safe. I love you. Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. Honestly, heТs the bossy one. But one phone call and all my anxiety has disappeared. HeТs arrived safely and heТs fussing about me as usual. I hug myself momentarily. God, I love that man. Hannah knocks on my door, distracting me, and brings me back to the now. Kate looks gorgeous. In her tight white jeans and red camisole, sheТs ready to rock the town. SheТs chatting animatedly with Claire in reception when I make my entrance. УAna!Ф she cries, scooping me up in a Kate hug. She holds me at armТs length. УDonТt you look the mogulТs wife? Who would have thought, little Ana Steele? You look soЕ sophisticated!Ф She grins. I roll my eyes at her. IТm wearing a pale cream shift dress with a navy belt and navy pumps. УItТs good to see you, Kate.Ф I hug her back. УSo, where are we going?Ф УChristian wants us to go back to the apartment.Ф УAw, really? CanТt we sneak a quick cocktail at the Zig Zag Cafe? IТve booked us a table.Ф I open my mouth to protest. УPlease?Ф she whines and pouts prettily. She must be picking this up from Mia. She never pouts normally. IТd really like a cocktail at the Zig Zag. We had such fun the last time we went there, and itТs close to KateТs apartment.
I hold up my index finger.УOne.Ф She grins.УOneФ She links her arm in mine, and we stroll out to the car, which is parked at the curb with Sawyer at the wheel. WeТre followed by Miss Samantha Prescott whoТs new to the security team-‐a tall African-‐American with a no-‐nonsense attitude. IТ ve yet to warm to her, maybe because sheТs too cool and professional. The juryТs definitely out, but like the rest of the team, sheТs been hand-‐picked by Taylor. SheТs dressed like Sawyer in a dark somber pantsuit. УCan you take us to the Zig Zag, please, Sawyer?Ф Sawyer turns to look at me, and I know he wants to say something. HeТs obviously been given his orders. He hesitates. УThe Zig Zag Caf?. WeТll only have one.Ф I give Kate a sideways glance, and sheТs glaring at Sawyer. Poor man. УYes, maТam.Ф УMr. Grey requested you go back to the apartment,Ф Prescott pipes up. УMr. Grey isnТt here,Ф I snap. УThe Zig Zag, please.Ф УMaТam,Ф Sawyer replies with a sideways glance at Prescott, who wisely holds her tongue. Kate gapes at me as if she canТt believe her eyes and ears. I purse my lips and shrug. Okay, so IТm a little more assertive than I used to be. Kate nods as Sawyer pulls out into the early evening traffic. УYou know the additional security is driving Grace and Mia crazy,Ф Kate says casually. I gawk at her, baffled. УYou didnТt know?Ф She seems incredulous. УKnow what?Ф УSecurity for all of the Greys has been tripled. Gazillioned, even.Ф УReally?Ф УHe hasnТt told you?Ф I flush.УNo.ФDamn it, Christian!УDo you know why?Ф УJack Hyde.Ф УWhat about Jack? I thought he was just after Christian.Ф I gasp.Jeez. Why hasn Тt he told me? УSince Monday,Ф Kate says. Last Monday?HmmЕ we identified Jack on Sunday. But why all the Greys? УHow do you know all this?Ф УElliot.Ф Of course. УChristian hasnТt told you any of this, has he?Ф I flush once more.УNo.Ф УOh, Ana, how annoying.Ф I sigh. As ever, Kate has hit the nail squarely on the head in her usual sledgehammer style.УDo you know why?Ф If ChristianТs not going to tell me, then maybe Kate will. УElliot said itТs something to do with information stored on Jack HydeТs computer when he was at SIP.Ф Holy crap.УYouТre kidding.Ф A surge of anger pulses through me. How does Kate know about this when I donТt?
I glance up to see Sawyer eyeing me from the rearview mirror. The red light turns to green and he surges forward, focusing on the road ahead. I hold my finger up to my lips and Kate nods. I bet Sawyer knows, too, and I donТt. УHowТs Elliot?Ф I ask to change the subject. Kate grins stupidly, telling me all I need to know. Sawyer pulls up at the end of the passageway that leads down to the Zig Zag Caf?, and Prescott opens my door. I scoot out and Kate slides out after me. We link arms and meander down the passage, followed by Prescott, whoТs wearing a thunderous expression on her face. Oh, for heavenТs sake, itТs just a drink. Sawyer drives off to park the car. УSo how does Elliot know Gia?Ф I ask, taking a sip of my second strawberry mojito. The bar is intimate and cozy, and I donТt want to leave. Kate and I have not stopped talking. I had forgotten how much I like hanging with her. ItТs liberating to be out, relaxing, enjoying KateТs company. I contemplate texting Christian then dismiss the idea. HeТll just be mad and make me go home like an errant child. УDonТt talk to me about that bitch!Ф Kate splutters. KateТs reaction makes me laugh. УWhatТs so funny, Steele?Ф she snaps, but not seriously. УI feel the same way.Ф УYou do?Ф УYes. She was all over Christian.Ф УShe had a fling with Elliot.Ф Kate pouts. УNo!Ф She nods, her lips pressed together in the patented Katherine Kavanagh scowl. УIt was brief. Last year, I think. SheТs a social climber. No wonder she has her sights set on Christian.Ф УChristian is taken. I told her to leave him alone or I would fire her.Ф Kate gapes at me once more, stunned. I nod proudly, and she lifts her glass to salute me, impressed and beaming. УMrs. Anastasia Grey! Way to go!Ф We clink. УDoes Elliot own a gun?Ф УNo. HeТs very antigun.Ф Kate stirs her third drink. УChristian, too. I think it was Grace and CarrickТs influence,Ф I mutter. IТm feeling a little tipsy. УCarrickТs a good man.Ф Kate nods. УHe wanted a prenup,Ф I mutter sadly. УOh, Ana.Ф She reaches across and grasps my arm. УHe was only looking out for his boy. As we both know, you havegold-‐digger tattooed on your forehead.Ф She smiles at me, and I poke my tongue out at her then giggle. УMature, Mrs. Grey,Ф she says grinning. She sounds like Christian. УYouТll do the same for your son one day.Ф УMy son?Ф I gape at her. It hadnТt even crossed my mind that my kids will be rich. Holy crap. TheyТll want for nothing. I meanЕ nothing. This needs further thought-‐ but not right now. I glance at Prescott and Sawyer seated nearby, watching us and the evening crowd from a side table while they each nurse a glass of sparkling mineral water. УDo you think we should eat?Ф I ask. УNo. We should drink,Ф Kate says.
УWhy are you in such a drinking mood?Ф УBecause I donТt see enough of you anymore. I didnТt know youТd up and marry the first guy who turned your head.Ф She pouts again. УHonestly, you married so quickly that I thought you were pregnant.Ф I giggle.УEveryone thought I was pregnant,Ф I mutter. УLetТs not rehash that conversation again. Please! And I have to use the restroom.Ф Prescott accompanies me. She says nothing. She doesnТt have to. Disapproval radiates off her like a lethal isotope. УI havenТt been out on my own since I got married,Ф I mutter wordlessly at the closed toilet door. I make a face, knowing that sheТs standing on the other side of the door, waiting while I pee. What precisely is Hyde going to do in a bar anyway? Christian is just overreacting as usual. УKate, itТs late. We should go.Ф ItТs ten fifteen, and I have downed my fourth strawberry mojito. I am definitely feeling the effects of the alcohol, warm and fuzzy. Christian will be fine. Eventually. УSure, Ana. ItТs been so good to see you. You just seem so much more, I donТt knowЕ confident. Marriage obviously agrees with you.Ф My face warms. Coming from Miss Katherine Kavanagh, this is indeed a compliment. УIt does,Ф I whisper, and because IТve probably had too much to drink, tears prick the back of my eyes. Could I be any happier? In spite of all his baggage, his nature, his Fiftyness, I have met and married the man of my dreams. I quickly change the subject to stem my sentimental thoughts, because I know I will cry otherwise. УI have really enjoyed this evening.Ф I grasp KateТs hand. УThank you for dragging me out!Ф We hug. As she releases me, I nod at Sawyer and he hands Prescott the keys to the car. УIТm sure Miss Goody-‐Two-‐Shoes Prescott has told Christian IТm not at home. HeТll be mad,Ф I mutter to Kate. And maybe heТll think of some delicious way to punish meЕ hopefully. УWhy are you grinning like a loon, Ana? You like making Christian mad?Ф УNo. Not really. But itТs easily done. HeТs very controlling sometimes.ФMost of the time. УIТve noticed,Ф Kate says wryly. We pull up outside KateТs apartment. She hugs me hard. УDonТt be a stranger,Ф she whispers and kisses my cheek. Then sheТs out of the car. I wave, feeling strangely homesick. I have missed girl talk. ItТs fun and relaxing, and reminds me that IТm still young. I must make more of an effort to see Kate, but the truth is, I love being in my bubble with Christian. Last night we attended a charity dinner together. There were so many men in suits and well-‐groomed elegant women talking about real estate prices and the failing economy and the plunging stock markets. I mean, it was dull, really dull. So itТs refreshing to let my hair down with someone my own age. My stomach rumbles. Jeez, I still havenТt eaten.Shit-‐Christian! I scramble through my purse and fish out my BlackBerry.Holy crap-‐five missed calls! One textЕ *WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU?* And one e-‐mail. [ артинка: pic_79.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Angry. YouТve not seen angry Date: August 26, 2011 00:42 EST
To: Anastasia Grey Anastasia Sawyer tells me that you are drinking cocktails in a bar when you said you wouldn Тt. Do you have any idea how mad I am at the moment? IТll see you tomorrow. Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. My heart sinks. Oh shit! I really am in trouble. My subconscious glares at me, then shrugs, wearing her you-‐made-‐your-‐bed-‐you-‐lie-‐in-‐it face. What did I expect? I contemplate calling him, but itТs late and heТs probably asleepЕ or pacing. I decide a quick text may be enough. *IТM STILL IN ONE PIECE. I HAD A NICE TIME. MISSING YOU-‐PLEASE DONТT BE MAD* I gaze at my BlackBerry, willing him to respond, but itТs ominously silent. I sigh. Prescott pulls up outside Escala and Sawyer gets out to hold the door open for me. As we stand waiting for the elevator, I take the opportunity to quiz him. УWhat time did Christian call you?Ф Sawyer flushes.УAbout nine thirty, maТam.Ф УWhy didnТt you interrupt my conversation with Kate so I could speak with him?Ф УMr. Grey told me not to.Ф I purse my lips. The elevator arrives, and we ride up in silence. IТm suddenly grateful that Christian has a whole night to recover from his snit-‐fit, and that heТs on the other side of the country. It gives me some time. On the other handЕ I miss him. The doors to the elevator open, and for a split second I stare at the foyer table. What is wrong with this picture? The vase of flowers lies smashed into fragments all over the floor of the foyer, water and flowers and chunks of china are strewn everywhere, and the table is overturned. My scalp prickles and Sawyer grabs my arm and pulls me back into the elevator. УStay there,Ф he hisses, drawing a gun. He steps into the foyer and disappears from my field of vision. I cower in the back of the elevator. УLuke!Ф I hear Ryan call from inside the great room. УCode blue!Ф Code blue? УYou have the perp?Ф Sawyer calls back. УJesus H. Christ!Ф I flatten myself against the elevator wall.What the hell is going on? Adrenaline spikes through my body, and my heart leaps into my throat. I hear soft voices, and a moment later Sawyer reappears in the foyer, standing in the puddle of water. He holsters his gun. УYou can come in, Mrs. Grey,Ф he says gently. УWhatТs happened, Luke?Ф My voice is barely a whisper. УWeТve had a visitor.Ф He takes my elbow, and IТm grateful for the support-‐ my legs have turned to jelly. I walk with him through the open double doors. Ryan is standing at the entrance of the great room. A cut above his eye is bleeding, and thereТs another on his mouth. He looks roughed up, his clothes disheveled. But what Тs more shocking is Jack Hyde slumped at his feet. 10 [ артинка: pic_80.jpg]
My heart is pounding and blood thrums loudly in my eardrums; the alcohol flowing through my system, amplifying the sound. УIs he-‐Ф I gasp, unable to finish the sentence and gazing wide-‐eyed and terrified at Ryan. I canТt even look at the prone figure on the floor. УNo, maТam. Just knocked out cold.Ф Relief floods through me.Oh, thank God. УAnd you?Ф I ask, gazing at Ryan. I realize I donТt know his first name. HeТs panting as if heТs run a marathon. He wipes the corner of his mouth, removing the trace of blood, and a faint bruise is forming on his cheek. УHe put up one hell of a fight, but IТm okay, Mrs. Grey.Ф He smiles reassuringly. If I knew him better, IТd say he looked a little smug. УAnd Gail? Mrs. Jones?ФOh noЕ is she okay? Has she been harmed? УIТm here, Ana.Ф Glancing behind me, sheТs in a nightdress and robe, her hair loose, her face ashen and her eyes wide-‐like mine, I imagine. УRyan woke me. Insisted I come in here.Ф She points behind her into TaylorТs office. УIТm fine. Are you okay?Ф I nod briskly and realize sheТs probably just come out of the panic room built adjoining TaylorТs office. Who knew weТd need it so soon? Christian had insisted on its installation shortly after our engagement-‐and I had rolled my eyes. Now, seeing Gail standing in the doorway, IТm grateful for his foresight. A creak from the door to the foyer distracts me. ItТs hanging off its hinges. What the hell happened to that? УWas he alone?Ф I ask Ryan. УYes, maТam. You wouldnТt be standing here if he wasnТt, I can assure you.Ф Ryan sounds vaguely affronted. УHow did he get in?Ф I ask, ignoring his tone. УThrough the service elevator. HeТs got quite a pair, maТam.Ф I stare down at JackТs slumped figure. HeТs wearing a uniform of sorts-‐ coveralls, I think. УWhen?Ф УAbout ten minutes ago. I caught him on the security monitor. He was wearing glovesЕ kinda strange in August. I recognized him and decided to give him access. That way I knew weТd have him. You werenТt here and Gail was safe, so I figured it was now or never.Ф Ryan looks very pleased withhimself once more, and Sawyer scowls at him in disapproval. Gloves? The thought distracts me, and I glance once more at Jack. Yes, heТs wearing brown leather gloves. Creepy. УWhat now?Ф I try to dismiss the ramifications from my mind. УWe need to secure him,Ф Ryan replies. УSecure him?Ф УIn case he wakes.Ф Ryan glances at Sawyer. УWhat do you need?Ф asks Mrs. Jones, stepping forward. SheТs recovered her composure. УSomething to restrain him-‐cord or rope,Ф Ryan replies. Cable ties. I flush as memories of the previous night invade my mind. Reflexively, I rub my wrists and glance quickly down at them. No, no bruising. Good. УI have something. Cable ties. Will they do?Ф All eyes turn to me.
УYes, maТam. Perfect,Ф Sawyer says, serious and straight-‐faced. I want the floor to swallow me up, but I turn and head for our bedroom. Sometimes you just have to brazen things out. Perhaps itТs the combination of fear and alcohol making me audacious. When I return, Mrs. Jones is surveying the mess in the foyer and Miss Prescott has joined the security team. I hand the ties to Sawyer, who slowly, and with unnecessary care, ties HydeТs hands behind his back. Mrs. Jones disappears into the kitchen and returns with a first aid kit. She takes RyanТs arm, leads him into the doorway of the great room, and starts tending to the cut above his eye. He flinches as she dabs it with an antiseptic wipe. Then I notice the Glock on the floor with a silencer attached.Holy shit! Jack was armed? Bile rises in my throat and I fight it down. УDonТt touch, Mrs. Grey,Ф says Prescott when I bend to pick it up. Sawyer emerges from TaylorТs office wearing latex gloves. УIТll take care of that, Mrs. Grey,Ф he says. УItТs his?Ф I ask. УYes maТam,Ф says Ryan, wincing once more from Mrs. JonesТs ministrations. Holy crap. Ryan fought an armed man in my home. I shudder at the thought. Sawyer bends and gingerly picks up the Glock. УShould you be doing that?Ф I ask. УMr. Grey would expect it maТam.Ф Sawyer slides the gun into a zip-‐lock bag then squats to pat down Jack. He pauses and partially pulls a roll of duct tape from the man Тs pocket. Sawyer blanches and pushes the tape back into HydeТs pocket. Duct tape? My mind idly registers as I watch the proceedings with fascination and an odd detachment. Then bile rises to my throat again as I realize the implications. Rapidly, I dismiss them from my head.DonТt go there, Ana! УShould we call the police?Ф I mutter, trying to hide my fear. I want Hyde out of my home, sooner rather than later. Ryan and Sawyer glance at each other. УI think we should call the police,Ф I say rather more forcefully, wondering what Тs going on between Ryan and Sawyer. УIТve just tried Taylor, and heТs not answering his cell. Maybe heТs asleep.Ф Sawyer checks his watch. УItТs one forty-‐five in the morning on the East Coast.Ф Oh no. УHave you called Christian?Ф I whisper. УNo, maТam.Ф УWere you calling Taylor for instructions?Ф Sawyer looks momentarily embarrassed.УYes, maТam.Ф Part of me bristles. This man-‐I glance down at Hyde again-‐has invaded my home, and he needs to be removed by the police. But looking at the four of them, into their anxious eyes, I decide I must be missing something so I decide to call Christian. My scalp prickles. I know heТs mad at me-‐really, really mad at me-‐and I falter at the thought of what heТll say. And how heТll stress because heТs not here and canТt be here until tomorrow evening. I know IТve worried him enough this evening. Perhaps I shouldnТt call him. And then it occurs to me. Shit. What if IТd been here? I pale at the thought. Thank heavens I was out. Maybe I wonТt be in so much trouble after all. УIs he okay?Ф I ask, pointing at Jack. УHeТll have an aching skull when he wakes,Ф Ryan says, gazing down at Jack with contempt. УBut we need paramedics here to make sure.Ф
I reach into my purse and pull out my BlackBerry, and before I can give too much thought to the extent of ChristianТs anger, I dial his number. It goes straight to voice mail. He must have switched it off because heТs so mad. I cannot think what to say. Turning away, I walk down the hallway a little, away from everyone. УHi. ItТs me. Please donТt be mad. WeТve had an incident at the apartment. But itТs under control, so donТt worry. No one is hurt. Call me.Ф I hang up. УCall the police.Ф I tell Sawyer. He nods, takes out his cell, and makes the call. Officer Skinner is deep in conversation with Ryan at the dining room table. Officer Walker is with Sawyer in TaylorТs office. I donТt know where Prescott is, perhaps in TaylorТs office. Detective Clark is barking questions at me as we sit on the couch in the great room. HeТs tall, dark and would be good looking if it wasnТt for his permanent scowl. I suspect heТs been woken and dragged from his warmbed because the home of one of SeattleТs most influential and wealthy businessmen has been breached. УHe used to be your boss?Ф Clark asks tersely. УYes.Ф I am tired-‐beyond tired-‐and I want to go to bed. I still havenТt heard from Christian. On the plus side, the paramedics have removed Hyde. Mrs. Jones hands Detective Clark and me each a cup of tea. УThanks.Ф Clark turns to me. УAnd where is Mr. Grey?Ф УNew York. On business. HeТll be back tomorrow evening, I mean this evening. Ф ItТs after midnight. УHyde is known to us,Ф Detective Clark murmurs. УIТll need you to come down to the station to make a statement. But that can wait. ItТs late and there are a couple of reporters camped out on the sidewalk. Do you mind if I look around?Ф УOf course not,Ф I offer, relieved his questioning is finished. I shudder at the thought of the photographers outside. Well, they wonТt be a problem until tomorrow. I remind myself to call Mom and Ray just in case they hear anything and worry. УMrs. Grey, may I suggest you go to bed?Ф Mrs. Jones says, her voice warm and full of concern. Looking into her warm, kind eyes, I suddenly feel an overwhelming need to cry. She reaches over and rubs my shoulder. УWeТre safe now,Ф she murmurs. УThis will all look better in the morning once youТve had some sleep. And Mr. Grey will be back tomorrow evening.Ф I glance nervously up at her, keeping my tears at bay. Christian is going to be so mad. УCan I get you anything before you go to bed?Ф she asks. I realize how hungry I am.УIТd love something to eat.Ф She smiles broadly.УSandwich and some milk?Ф I nod with gratitude, and she heads into the kitchen. Ryan is still with Officer Skinner. In the foyer Detective Clark is examining the mess outside the elevator. He looks thoughtful, despite his scowl. And suddenly I feel homesick-‐homesick for Christian. Holding my head in my hands, I wish fervently that he were here. HeТd know what to do.What an evening. I want to crawl into his lap, have him hold me and tell me that he loves me, even though I donТt do as IТm told-‐but that wonТt be possible until this evening. Inwardly I roll my eyesЕ Why didnТt he tell me about the increased security for everyone? What exactly is on JackТs computer? HeТs so frustrating but right now, I just donТt care. I want my husband. I miss him.
УHere you are, Ana dear.Ф Mrs. Jones interrupts my inner turmoil. When I glance up at her, she hands me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, her eyes twinkling. I havenТt had one of these for years. I smile shyly and dig in. When I finally crawl into bed, I curl up on ChristianТs side, dressed in his T-‐shirt. Both his pillow and his T-‐shirt smell of him, and as I drift off I silently wish him safe passage homeЕ and a good mood. I wake with a start. ItТs light and my head is aching, throbbing at my temples. Oh no. I hope I donТt have a hangover. Cautiously, I open my eyes and notice the bedroom chair has moved, and Christian is sitting in it. HeТs wearing his tux, and the end of his bowtie is peeping out of the breast pocket. I wonder if IТm dreaming. His left arm is draped over the chair, and in his hand he holds a cut glass tumbler of amber liquid. Brandy? Whiskey? I have no idea. One long leg is crossed at the ankle over his knee. HeТs wearing black socks and dress shoes. His right elbow rests on the arm of the chair, his hand up to his chin, and heТs slowly running his index finger rhythmically back and forth over his lower lip. In the early morning light, his eyes burn with grave intensity but his general expression is completely unreadable. My heart almost stops. HeТs here. How did he get here? He must have left New York last night. How long has he been here watching me sleep? УHi,Ф I whisper. He regards me coolly, and my heart stutters once more.Oh no. He moves his long fingers away from his mouth, tosses back the remainder of his drink, and places the glass on the bedside table. I half expect him to kiss me, but he doesnТt. He sits back, continuing to regard me, his expression impassive. УHello,Ф he says finally, his voice hushed. And I know heТs still mad. Really mad. УYouТre back.Ф УIt would appear so.Ф Slowly I pull myself up into a sitting position, not taking my eyes off him. My mouth is dry.УHow long have you been sitting there watching me sleep?Ф УLong enough.Ф УYouТre still mad.Ф I can hardly speak the words. He gazes at me, as if considering his response.УMad,Ф he says as if testing the word, weighing up its nuances, its meaning. УNo, Ana. I am way,way beyond mad.Ф Holy crap. I try to swallow, but itТs hard with a dry mouth. УFar beyond madЕ that doesnТt sound good.Ф He gazes at me, completely impassive, and doesnТt respond. A stark silence stretches between us. I reach over to my glass of water and take a welcome sip, trying to bring my erratic heart rate under control. УRyan caught Jack.Ф I try a different tack, and I place my glass beside his on the bedside table. УI know,Ф he says icily. Of course, he knows.УAre you going to be monosyllabic for long?Ф His eyebrows move fractionally registering his surprise as if he hadnТt expected this question. УYes,Ф he says finally. OhЕ okay. What to do? Defense-‐the best form of attack. УIТm sorry I stayed out. Ф УAre you?Ф УNo,Ф I mutter after a pause, because itТs true.
УWhy say it then?Ф УBecause I donТt want you to be mad at me.Ф He sighs heavily as if heТs been holding this tension for a thousand hours and runs his hand through his hair. He looks beautiful. Mad, but beautiful. I drink him in-‐ ChristianТs back-‐angry, but in one piece. УI think Detective Clark wants to talk to you.Ф УIТm sure he does.Ф УChristian, pleaseЕФ УPlease what?Ф УDonТt be so cold.Ф His eyebrows rise in surprise once more.УAnastasia, cold is not what IТm feeling at the moment. IТm burning. Burning with rage. I donТt know how to deal with theseФ-‐ he waves his hand searching for the word-‐Уfeelings.Ф His tone is bitter. Oh shit. His honesty disarms me. All I want to do is crawl into his lap. ItТs all IТve wanted to do since I came home last night.To hell with this. I move, taking him by surprise and climbing awkwardly into his lap, where I curl up. He doesnТt push me away, which is what IТd feared. After a beat, he folds his arms around me and buries his nose in my hair. He smells of whiskey.Jeez, how much did he drink? He smells of bodywash, too. He smells of Christian. I wrap my arms around his neck and nuzzle his throat, and he sighs once more, deeply this time. УOh, Mrs. Grey. What am I going to do with you?Ф He kisses the top of my head. I close my eyes, relishing the contact with him. УHow much have you had to drink?Ф He stills.УWhy?Ф УYou donТt normally drink hard liquor.Ф УThis is my second glass. IТve had a trying night, Anastasia. Give a man a break. Ф I smile.УIf you insist, Mr. Grey,Ф I breathe into his neck. УYou smell heavenly. I slept on your side of the bed because your pillow smells of you.Ф He nuzzles my hair.УDid you now? I wondered why you were on this side. IТm still mad at you.Ф УI know.Ф His hand rhythmically strokes my back. УAnd IТm mad at you,Ф I whisper. He pauses.УAnd what, pray, have I done to deserve your ire?Ф УIТll tell you later when youТre no longer burning with rage.Ф I kiss his throat. He closes his eyes and leans into my kiss but makes no move to kiss me back. His arms tighten around me, squeezing me. УWhen I think of what might have happenedЕФ His voice is barely a whisper. Broken, raw. УIТm okay.Ф УOh, Ana.Ф ItТs almost a sob. УIТm okay. WeТre all okay. A bit shaken. But Gail is fine. Ryan is fine. And Jack is gone.Ф He shakes his head.УNo thanks to you,Ф he mutters. What? I lean back, and glare at him.УWhat do you mean?Ф УI donТt want to argue about it right now, Ana.Ф
I blink. Well, maybeI do, but I decide against it. At least heТs talking to me. I nestle into him once more. His fingers move to my hair and start playing with it. УI want to punish you,Ф he whispers. УReally beat the shit out of you,Ф he adds. My heart leaps into my mouth.Fuck.УI know,Ф I whisper as my scalp prickles. УMaybe I will.Ф УI hope not.Ф He hugs me tighter.УAna, Ana, Ana. YouТd try the patience of a saint.Ф УI could accuse you of many things, Mr. Grey, but being a saint isnТt one of them. Ф Finally I am blessed with his reluctant chuckle.УFair point well made as ever, Mrs. Grey.Ф He kisses my forehead and shifts. УBack to bed. You had a late night, too.Ф He moves quickly, picking me up and depositing me back on the bed. УLie down with me?Ф УNo. I have things to do.Ф He reaches down and collects the glass. УGo back to sleep. IТll wake you in a couple of hours.Ф УAre you still mad at me?Ф УYes.Ф УIТll go back to sleep, then.Ф УGood.Ф He pulls the duvet over me and kisses my forehead once more. УSleep. Ф And because IТm so groggy from the night before, relieved that heТs back, and emotionally fatigued by our early-‐morning encounter, I do exactly as IТm told. As I drift off, IТm curious though grateful, given the nasty taste in my mouth, to know why he hasn Тt deployed his usual coping mechanism and leapt on me to have his wicked way. УThereТs some orange juice for you here,Ф Christian says, and my eyes flutter open again. I have had the most restful two hours of sleep I can remember, and I wake refreshed, my head no longer throbbing. The orange juice is a welcome sight-‐as is my husband. HeТs in his sweats. And IТm momentarily zapped back to the Heathman Hotel and the first time I ever woke up with him. His gray tank top is damp with his sweat. Either heТs been working out in the basement gym or heТs been for a run, but he shouldnТt look this good after a workout. УIТm going to take a shower,Ф he murmurs and disappears to the bathroom. I frown. HeТs still distant. HeТs either distracted by all thatТs happened, or still mad, or Е what? I sit up and reach for the orange juice, drinking it down too quickly. ItТs delicious, ice cold, and it makes my mouth a much better place. I clamber out of bed, anxious to close the distance-‐real and metaphysical-‐between my husband and me. I glance quickly at the alarm. ItТs eight oТclock. I strip off ChristianТs T-‐shirt and follow him into the bathroom. HeТs in the shower, washing his hair, and I donТt hesitate. I slip in behind him, and he stiffens the moment I wrap my arms around him-‐my front to his wet, muscular back. I ignore his reaction, holding him tightly, and press my cheek flat against him, closing my eyes. After a moment, he shifts so we are both under the cascade of hot water and carries on washing his hair. I let the water wash over me as I cradle the man I love. I think of all the times heТs fucked me and all the times heТs made love to me in here. I frown. HeТs never been this quiet. Turning my head, I start to trail kisses across his back. His body stiffens again. УAna,Ф he warns.
УHmm.Ф My hands travel slowly down over his taut stomach to his belly. He places both his hands on mine and brings them to an abrupt halt. He shakes his head. УDonТt,Ф he warns. I release him, immediately.HeТs saying no? My mind goes into free fall-‐has this ever happened before? My subconscious shakes her head, her lips pursed. She glares at me over her half-‐moon glasses, wearing her youТve-‐really-‐fucked-‐up-‐this-‐time look. I feel like IТve been slapped, hard. Rejected. And a lifetime of insecurity spawns the ugly thoughthe doesnТt want me anymore. I gasp as the pain sears through me. Christian turns, and IТm relieved to see heТs not completely oblivious to my charms. Grasping my chin, he tilts my head back, and I find myself gazing into his wary, beautiful eyes. УIТm still fucking mad at you,Ф he says, his voice quiet and serious.Shit! Leaning down, he rests his forehead against mine, closing his eyes. I reach up and caress his face. УDonТt be mad at me, please. I think youТre overreacting,Ф I whisper. He straightens, blanching. My hand falls free to my side. УOverreacting?Ф he snarls. УSome fucking lunatic gets into my apartment to kidnap my wife, and you think IТm overreacting!Ф The restrained menace in his voice is frightening, and his eyes blaze as he stares at me as ifIТm the fucking lunatic. УNoЕ um, thatТs not what I was referring to. I thought this was about me staying out.Ф He closes his eyes once more as if in pain and shakes his head. УChristian, I wasnТt here.Ф I try to appease and reassure him. УI know,Ф he whispers opening his eyes. УAnd all because you canТt follow a simple, fucking request.Ф His tone is bitter and itТs my turn to blanch. УI donТt want to discuss this now, in the shower. I am still fucking mad at you, Anastasia. YouТre making me question my judgment.Ф He turns and promptly leaves the shower, grabbing a towel on the way and stalking out of the bathroom, leaving me bereft and chilled under the hot water. Crap. Crap. Crap. Then the significance of what heТs just said dawns on me.Kidnap? Fuck. Jack wanted to kidnap me? I recall the duct tape and not wanting to think too deeply about why Jack had that. Does Christian have more information? Hurriedly I wash myself, then shampoo and rinse my hair. I want to know. I need to know. I am not going to let him keep me in the dark about this. ChristianТs not in the bedroom when I come out. Jeez, he dresses quickly. I do the same, throwing on my favorite plum dress and black sandals, and IТm conscious that IТ ve chosen this outfit because Christian likes it. I vigorously towel-‐dry my hair, then braid it and wind it into a bun. Fitting diamond studs into my ears, I dash to the bathroom to apply a little mascara and glance at myself in the mirror.IТm pale. Jeez,IТm always pale. I take a deep steadying breath. I need to face the consequences of my rash decision to actually enjoy myself with my friend. I sigh, knowing that Christian wonТt see it that way. Christian is nowhere to be seen in the great room. Mrs. Jones is busying herself in the kitchen. УGood morning, Ana,Ф she says sweetly. УMorning,Ф I smile broadly at her. I am Ana again! УTea?Ф УPlease.Ф УAnything to eat?Ф
УPlease. IТd like an omelet this morning.Ф УWith mushrooms and spinach?Ф УAnd cheese.Ф УComing up.Ф УWhereТs Christian?Ф УMr. GreyТs in his study.Ф УHas he had breakfast?Ф I glance at the two places set on the breakfast bar. УNo, maТam.Ф УThanks.Ф Christian is on the phone, dressed in a white shirt with no tie, looking like every part the relaxed CEO. How deceptive appearances can be. Perhaps heТs not going into the office after all. He glances up when I appear in the doorway but shakes his head at me, indicating that I am not welcome.ShitЕ I turn and wander dejectedly back to the breakfast bar. Taylor appears, snappily dressed in a somber suit, looking like heТs had eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. УMorning, Taylor,Ф I murmur, trying to gauge his mood and see if heТll offer me any visual cues about what has been going on. УGood morning, Mrs. Grey,Ф he replies, and I hear the sympathy in those four words. I smile compassionately back at him, knowing he had to endure an angry, frustrated Christian returning to Seattle way ahead of schedule. УHow was the flight?Ф I dare to ask. УLong, Mrs. Grey.Ф His brevity speaks volumes. УMay I ask how you are?Ф he adds, his tone softening. УIТm good.Ф He nods.УIf youТll excuse me.Ф He heads toward ChristianТs study. Hmm. TaylorТs allowed in, but not me. УHere you go.Ф Mrs. Jones places my breakfast in front of me. My appetite has vanished, but I eat anyway, not wishing to offend her. By the time IТve finished what I can of my breakfast, Christian has still not emerged from his study. Is he avoiding me? УThanks, Mrs. Jones,Ф I murmur, sliding off the bar stool and making my way to the bathroom to clean my teeth. As I brush them, IТm reminded of ChristianТs sulk over the wedding vows. He holed up in his study then, too. Is that what this is? Him sulking? I shudder as I recall his subsequentnightmare. Will that happen again? We really need to talk. I need to know about Jack and about the increased security for the Greys-‐all the details that have been kept from me, but not from Kate. Obviously Elliot talks to her. I glance at my watch. ItТs eight fifty-‐IТm late for work. I finish brushing my teeth, apply a little lip gloss, grab my lightweight black jacket, and head back to the great room. I am relieved to see Christian there, eating his breakfast. УYouТre going?Ф he says when he sees me. УTo work? Yes, of course.Ф Bravely, I walk toward him and rest my hands on the edge of the breakfast bar. He gazes at me blankly. УChristian, weТve hardly been back a week. I have to go to work.Ф УBut-‐Ф He stops, and rakes his hand through his hair. Mrs. Jones walks quietly out of the room.Discreet, Gail, discreet. УI know we have a great deal to talk about. Perhaps if youТve calmed down, we can do it this evening.Ф His mouth pops open with dismay.УCalmed down?Ф His voice is eerily soft.
I flush.УYou know what I mean.Ф УNo, Anastasia, I donТt know what you mean.Ф УI donТt want a fight. I was coming to ask you if I could take my car.Ф УNo. You canТt,Ф he snaps. УOkay.Ф I acquiesce immediately. He blinks. He was obviously expecting a fight.УPrescott will accompany you.Ф His tone is slightly less belligerent. Dammit, not Prescott. I want to pout and protest but decide against it. Surely now Jack has been caught we can cut back on our security. I remember my momТs Уwords of wisdomФ talk the day before my wedding.Ana, honey, you really have to choose your battles. ItТll be the same with your kids when you have them. Well, at least heТs letting me go to work. УOkay,Ф I mutter. And because I donТt want to leave him like this with so much unresolved and so much tension between us, I step tentatively toward him. He stiffens, his eyes widening, and for a moment he looks so vulnerable it pulls at some deep, dark place in my heart.Oh, Christian, IТm so sorry. I kiss him chastely on the side of his mouth. He closes his eyes as if relishing my touch. УDonТt hate me,Ф I whisper. He grabs my hand.УI donТt hate you.Ф УYou havenТt kissed me,Ф I whisper. He eyes me suspiciously.УI know,Ф he mutters. IТm desperate to ask him why, but IТm not sure I want to know the answer. Abruptly he stands and grabs my face between his hands, and in a flash his lips are hard on mine. I gasp with surprise, inadvertently granting his tongue access. He takes full advantage, invading my mouth, claiming me, andjust as IТm beginning to respond he releases me, his breathing quickening. УTaylor will take you and Prescott to SIP,Ф he says, his eyes flaring with need. У Taylor!Ф he calls. I flush, trying to recover some composure. УSir.Ф Taylor is standing in the doorway. УTell Prescott Mrs. Grey is going to work. Can you drive them, please?Ф УCertainly.Ф Turning on his heel, Taylor disappears. УIf you could try to stay out of trouble today, I would appreciate it,Ф Christian mutters. УIТll see what I can do.Ф I smile sweetly. A reluctant half smile tugs at Christian Тs lips, but he doesnТt give in to it. УIТll see you later, then,Ф he says coolly. УLaters,Ф I whisper. Prescott and I take the service elevator down to the basement garage in order to avoid the media outside. JackТs arrest and the fact he was apprehended in our apartment are now public knowledge. As I settle into the Audi, I wonder if there will be more paparazzi waiting at SIP like the day our engagement was announced. We drive a while in silence until I remember to call first Ray and then my mom to reassure them that Christian and I are safe. Mercifully, both calls are short, and I hang up just as we arrive outside SIP. As I feared, thereТs a small crowd of reporters and photographers lying in wait. They turn as one, looking expectantly at the Audi. УAre you sure you want to do this, Mrs. Grey?Ф Taylor asks. Part of me just wants to go home, but that means spending the day with Mr. Burning Rage. I hope that with a little time, he will gain some perspective. Jack is in police custody, so Fifty should be happy,
but heТs not. Part of me understands why; too much of this is out of his control including me, but I donТt have time to think about this now. УTake me around to the delivery entrance, please, Taylor.Ф УYes, maТam.Ф ItТs one oТclock and IТve managed to immerse myself in work all morning. ThereТs a knock and Elizabeth pops her head around the door. УCan I have a moment?Ф she asks brightly. УSure,Ф I mutter, surprised at her unscheduled visit. She enters and sits down, tossing her long black hair over her shoulder.УI just wanted to check youТre okay. Roach asked me to pay you a visit,Ф she adds hurriedly as her face reddens. УI mean with all that went on last night.Ф Jack HydeТs arrest is all over the newspapers, but no one seems to have made the connection yet with the fire at GEH. УIТm fine,Ф I answer, trying not to think too deeply about how I feel. Jack wanted to harm me. Well, thatТs not news. HeТs tried before. ItТs Christian IТm more concerned about. I glance quickly at my e-‐mail. ThereТs still nothing from him. I donТt know if I were to send him an e-‐mail, whether IТd just be provoking Mr. Burning Rage further. УGood,Ф Elizabeth answers, and her smile actually touches her eyes for a change. УIf thereТs anything I can do-‐anything you need-‐let me know.Ф УWill do.Ф Elizabeth stands.УI know how busy you are, Ana. IТll let you get back to it.Ф УUmЕ thanks.Ф That has to have been the briefest most pointless meeting in the Western Hemisphere today. Why did Roach send her here? Perhaps heТs worried, given IТm his bossТs wife. I shake off the dark thoughts and reach for my BlackBerry in the hope that there might be a message from Christian. As I do, my work e-‐mail pings. [ артинка: pic_81.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Statement Date: August 26, 2011 13:04 To: Anastasia Grey Anastasia Detective Clark will be visiting your office today at 3 pm to take your statement. I have insisted that he should come to you, as I donТt want you going to the police station. Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. I gaze at his e-‐mail for a full five minutes, trying to think of a light and witty response to lift his mood. I draw a complete blank, and opt for brevity instead. [ арти нка: pic_82.jpg] From: Anastasia Grey Subject: Statement Date: August 26, 2011 13:12 To: Christian Grey Okay. A x Anastasia Grey
Commissioning Editor, SIP I stare at the screen for another five minutes, anxious for his response but thereТs nothing. Christian is not in the mood to play today. I sit back. Can I blame him? My poor Fifty was probably frantic, back in the early hours of this morning. Then a thought occurs to me. He was in his tux when I woke this morning. What time did he decide to come back from New York? He normally leaves functions between ten and eleven. Last night at that hour, I was still at large with Kate. Did Christian come home because I was out or because of the Jack incident? If he left because I was out having a good time, he would have had no idea about Jack, about the police, nothing-‐until he landed in Seattle. ItТs suddenly very important to me to find out. If Christian came back merely because I was out, then he was overreacting. My subconscious sucks her teeth, wearing her harpy face. Okay, IТm glad heТs back, so maybe itТs irrelevant. But still-‐Christian must have had one hell of a shock when helanded. No wonder heТs so confused today. His earlier words come back to me.УI am still fucking mad at you, Anastasia. YouТre making me question my judgment.Ф I have to know-‐did he come back because of Cocktailgate or because of the fucking lunatic? [ артинка: pic_83.jpg] From: Anastasia Grey Subject: Your Flight Date: August 26, 2011 13:24 To: Christian Grey What time did you decide to come back to Seattle yesterday? Anastasia Grey Commissioning Editor, SIP [ артинка: pic_84.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Your flight Date: August 26, 2011 13:26 To: Anastasia Grey Why? Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. [ артинка: pic_85.jpg] From: Anastasia Grey Subject: Your Flight Date: August 26, 2011 13:29 To: Christian Grey Call it curiosity. Anastasia Grey Commissioning Editor, SIP [ артинка: pic_86.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Your flight Date: August 26, 2011 13:32 To: Anastasia Grey Curiosity killed the cat. Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. [ артинка: pic_87.jpg] From: Anastasia Grey Subject: Huh? Date: August 26, 2011 13:35 To: Christian Grey What is that oblique reference to? Another threat?
You know where I am going with this, donТt you? Did you decide to return because I went out for a drink with my friend after you asked me not to, or did you return because a madman was in your apartment? Anastasia Grey Commissioning Editor, SIP I stare at my screen. ThereТs no response. I glance at the clock on my computer. One forty-‐five and still no response. [ артинка: pic_88.jpg] From: Anastasia Grey Subject: HereТs the thingЕ Date: August 26, 2011 13:56 To: Christian Grey I will take your silence as an admission that you did indeed return to Seattle because I CHANGED MY MIND. I am an adult female and went for a drink with my friend. I did not understand the security ramifications of CHANGING MY MIND because YOU NEVER TELL ME ANYTHING. I found out from Kate that security has, in fact, been stepped up for all the Greys, not just us. I think you generally overreact where my safety is concerned, and I understand why, but youТre like the boy crying wolf. I never have a clue about what is a real concern or merely something that is perceived as a concern by you. I had two of the security detail with me. I thought both Kate and I would be safe. Fact is, we were safer in that bar than at the apartment. Had I been FULLY INFORMED of the situation, I would have taken a different course of action. I understand your concerns are something to do with material that was on JackТs computer here-‐or so Kate believes. Do you know how annoying it is to find out my best friend knows more about whatТs going on with you than I do? And I am your WIFE. So are you going to tell me? Or will you continue to treat me like a child, guaranteeing that I continue to behave like one? You are not the only one who is fucking pissed. Okay? Ana Anastasia Grey Commissioning Editor, SIP I hit send.There-‐stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Grey. I take a deep breath. I have worked myself up into quite a rage. Here was I feeling sorry and guilty for behaving badly. Well, no longer. [ артинка: pic_89.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: HereТs the thingЕ Date: August 26, 2011 13:59 To: Anastasia Grey As ever, Mrs. Grey, you are forthright and challenging in e-‐mail. Perhaps we can discuss this when you get home toOUR apartment. You should watch your language. I am still fucking pissed, too. Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. Watch my language! I scowl at my computer, realizing this is getting me nowhere. I donТt respond, but pick up a manuscript recently received from a promising new author and begin to read. My meeting with Detective Clark is uneventful. He is less growly than the night before, maybe because heТs managed some sleep. Or maybe he just prefers working during the day. УThank you for your statement, Mrs. Grey.Ф УYouТre welcome, detective. Is Hyde in police custody yet?Ф
УYes maТam. He was released from hospital earlier this morning. With what he Тs charged with, he should be with us for a while.Ф He smiles, his dark eyes crinkling in the corner. УGood. This has been an anxious time for my husband and me.Ф УI spoke at length with Mr. Grey this morning. HeТs very relieved. Interesting man, your husband.Ф You have no idea. УYes, I think so.Ф I offer him a polite smile, and he knows heТs being dismissed. УIf you think of anything, you can call me. HereТs my card.Ф He wrestles a card out of his wallet and hands it to me. УThank you, detective. IТll do that.Ф УGood day to you, Mrs. Grey.Ф УGood day.Ф As he leaves, I wonder exactly what Hyde has been charged with. No doubt Christian wonТt tell me. I purse my lips. We ride in silence to Escala. Sawyer is driving this time, Prescott at his side, and my heart grows heavier and heavier as we head back. I know Christian and I are going to have an almighty fight, and I donТt know if I have the energy. As I ride in the elevator from the garage with Prescott beside me, I try to marshal my thoughts. What do I want to say? I think I said it all in my e-‐mail. Perhaps heТll give me some answers. I hope so. I canТt help my nerves. My heart is pounding, my mouth is dry, and my palms are sweaty. I donТt want to fight. But sometimes heТs so difficult, and I need to stand my ground. The elevator doors slide open, revealing the foyer, and itТs once more neat and tidy. The table is upright and a new vase is in place with a gorgeous array of pale pink and white peonies. I quickly check the paintings as we wander through-‐the Madonnas all look to be intact. The broken foyer door is fixed and operational once more, and Prescott kindly opens it for me. SheТs been so quiet today. I think I prefer her this way. I drop my briefcase in the hall and head into the great room. I stop.Holy fuck. УGood evening, Mrs. Grey,Ф Christian says softly. HeТs standing by the piano, dressed in a tight black T-‐shirt, and jeansЕthose jeans-‐the ones he wore in the playroom.Oh my. They are over washed pale-‐blue denim, snug, ripped at the knee and hot. He saunters over to me, his feet bare, the top button of the jeans undone, his smoldering eyes never leaving mine. УGood to have you home. IТve been waiting for you.Ф 11 [ артинка: pic_90.jpg] УHave you now?Ф I whisper. My mouth goes drier still, my heart pounding in my chest. WhyТs he dressed like this? What does it mean? Is he still sulking? УI have.Ф His voice is kitten soft, but heТs smirking as he strolls closer to me. Holy crap he looks hot-‐his jeans hanging that way from his hips. Oh no, IТm not going to be distracted by Mr. Sex-‐on-‐Legs. I try to gauge his mood as he stalks toward me. Angry? Playful? Lustful?Gah! ItТs impossible to tell. УI like your jeans,Ф I murmur. He grins a disarming wolfish grin that doesnТt reach his eyes.Shit-‐heТs still mad. HeТs wearing these to distract me. He halts in front of me, and IТm seared by his intensity. He gazes down, wide unreadable eyes burning into mine. I swallow. УI understand you have issues, Mrs. Grey,Ф he says silkily, and he pulls something from the back pocket of his jeans. I canТt tear my gaze from his, but hear him
unfold a piece of paper. He holds it up, and glancing briefly in its direction, I recognize my e-‐mail. My gaze returns to his, as his eyes blaze bright with anger. УYes, I have issues,Ф I whisper, feeling breathless. I need distance if weТre going to discuss this. But before I can step back, he leans down and runs his nose along mine. My eyes flutter to a close as I welcome his unexpected, gentle touch. УSo do I,Ф he whispers against my skin, and I open my eyes at his words. He straightens and gazes intently at me once more. УI think IТm familiar with your issues, Christian.Ф My voice is wry, and he narrows his eyes, suppressing the amusement that sparks there momentarily. Are we going to fight? I take a precautionary step back. I must physically distance myself from him-‐from his smell, his look, his distracting body in those hot jeans. He frowns as I move away. УWhy did you fly back from New York?Ф I whisper. LetТs get this over and done with. УYou know why.Ф His tone carries a warning ring. УBecause I went out with Kate?Ф УBecause you went back on your word, and you defied me, putting yourself at unnecessary risk.Ф УWent back on my word? Is that how you see it?Ф I gasp, ignoring the rest of his sentence. УYes.Ф Holy crap. Talk about overreaction! I start to roll my eyes but stop when he scowls at me.УChristian, I changed my mind,Ф I explain slowly, patiently as if heТs a child. УIТ m a woman. WeТre renowned for it. ThatТs what we do.Ф He blinks at me as if he doesnТt comprehend this. УIf I had thought for one minute that you would cancel your business tripЕФ Words fail me. I realize I donТt know what to say. I am momentarily catapulted back to the argument over our vows.I never promised to obey you, Christian. But I hold my tongue, because deep down IТm glad he came back. In spite of his fury, IТm glad heТs here in one piece, angry and smoldering in front of me. УYou changed your mind?Ф He canТt hide his contemptuous disbelief. УYes.Ф УAnd you didnТt think to call me?Ф He glares at me, incredulous, before continuing. УWhatТs more, you left the security detail short here and put Ryan at risk.Ф Oh. I hadnТt thought about that. УI should have called, but I didnТt want to worry you. If I had, IТm sure you would have forbidden me to go and IТve missed Kate. I wanted to see her. Besides, it kept me out of the way when Jack was here. Ryan shouldnТt have let him in.Ф This is so confusing. If Ryan hadnТt, Jack would still be at large. ChristianТs eyes gleam wildly, then shut, his face tightening as if in pain.Oh, no. He shakes his head, and before I know it he has folded me in his arms, pulling me hard against him. УOh Ana,Ф he whispers as he tightens his hold on me so that I can barely breathe. УIf something were to happen to you-‐Ф His voice is barely a whisper. УIt didnТt,Ф I manage to say. УBut it could have. IТve died a thousand deaths today thinking about what might have happened. I was so mad, Ana. Mad at you. Mad at myself. Mad at everyone. I canТt remember being this angryЕ except-‐Ф He stops again. УExcept?Ф I prompt.
УOnce in your old apartment. When Leila was there.Ф Oh. I donТt want to think about that. УYou were so cold this morning,Ф I murmur. My voice cracks on the last word as I remember the hideous feeling of rejection in the shower. His hands move to the nape of my neck, loosening their grip on me, and I take a deep breath. He pulls my head back. УI donТt know how to deal with this anger. I donТt think I want to hurt you,Ф he says, his eyes wide and wary. УThis morning, I wanted to punish you, badly and-‐Ф He stops, lost for words I think, or too afraid to say them. УYou were worried youТd hurt me?Ф I finish his sentence for him, not believing that heТd hurt me for a minute, but relieved, too. A small vicious part of me feared it was because he didnТt want me anymore. УI didnТt trust myself,Ф he says quietly. УChristian, I know youТd never hurt me. Not physically, anyway.Ф I clasp his head between my hands. УDo you?Ф he asks, and thereТs skepticism in his voice. УYes. I knew what you said was an empty, idle threat. I know youТre not going to beat the shit out of me.Ф УI wanted to.Ф УNo you didnТt. You just thought you did.Ф УI donТt know if thatТs true,Ф he murmurs. УThink about it,Ф I urge, wrapping my arms around him once more and nuzzling his chest through the black T-‐shirt. УAbout how you felt when I left. YouТve told me often enough what that did to you. How it altered your view of the world, of me. I know what you Тve given up for me. Think about how you felt about the cuff marks on our honeymoon.Ф He stills, and I know heТs processing this information. I tighten my arms around him, my hands on his back, feeling his taut toned muscles beneath his T-‐shirt. Gradually, he relaxes as the tension slowly ebbs away. Is this whatТs been worrying him? That heТll hurt me? Why do I have more faith in him than he has in himself? I donТt understand, surely weТve moved on. HeТs normally so strong, so in control, but without that, heТs lost.Oh, Fifty, Fifty, Fifty-‐IТm sorry. He kisses my hair, I turn my face up to his, and his lips find mine, searching, taking, giving, begging-‐for what, I donТt know. I just want to feel his mouth on mine, and I return his kiss passionately. УYou have such faith in me,Ф he whispers after he breaks away. УI do.Ф He strokes my face with the back of his knuckles and the tip of his thumb, gazing intently into my eyes. His anger has gone. My Fifty is back from wherever heТs been. ItТs good to see him. I glance shyly up and smirk. УBesides,Ф I whisper, Уyou donТt have the paperwork.Ф His mouth drops open in amused shock, and he clutches me to his chest again. УYouТre right. I donТt.Ф He laughs. We stand in the middle of the great room, locked in our embrace, just holding each other. УCome to bed,Ф he whispers, after heaven knows how long. Oh myЕ УChristian, we need to talk.Ф УLater,Ф he urges softly. УChristian, please. Talk to me.Ф
He sighs.УAbout what?Ф УYou know. You keep me in the dark.Ф УI want to protect you.Ф УIТm not a child.Ф УI am fully aware of that, Mrs. Grey.Ф He runs his hands down my body and cups my backside. Flexing his hips, he presses his growing erection into me. УChristian!Ф I scold. УTalk to me.Ф He sighs once more with exasperation.УWhat do you want to know?Ф His voice is resigned as he releases me. I baulk-‐I didnТt mean you had to let me go. Taking my hand, he reaches down to pick up my e-‐mail from the floor. УLots of things,Ф I mutter, as I let him lead me to the couch. УSit,Ф he orders. Some things never change, I muse, doing as IТm told. Christian sits beside me, and leaning forward, puts his head in his hands. Oh no. Is this too hard for him? Then he sits up, rakes both hands through his hair, and turns to me, at once expectant and reconciled to his fate. УAsk me,Ф he says simply. Oh. Well, that was easier than I thought.УWhy the additional security for your family?Ф УHyde was a threat to them.Ф УHow do you know?Ф УFrom his computer. It held personal details about me and the rest of my family. Especially Carrick.Ф УCarrick? Why him?Ф УI donТt know yet. LetТs go to bed.Ф УChristian, tell me!Ф УTell you what?Ф УYou are soЕ exasperating.Ф УSo are you.Ф He glares at me. УYou didnТt ramp up the security when you first found out there was information about your family on the computer. So what happened? Why now?Ф Christian narrows his eyes at me. УI didnТt know he was going to attempt to burn down my building, or-‐Ф He stops. УWe thought it was an unwelcome obsession, but you knowФ-‐he shrugs-‐Уwhen youТre in the public eye, people are interested. It was random stuff: news reports on me from when I was at Harvard-‐my rowing, my career. Reports on Carrick-‐following his career, following my momТs career-‐and to some extent, Elliot and Mia. How strange. УYou saidor,Ф I prompt. УOr what?Ф УYou said, Сattempt to burn down my building, or...Т like you were going to say something else.Ф УAre you hungry?Ф What? I frown at him, and my stomach rumbles. УDid you eat today?Ф His voice is sterner and his eyes frost. IТm betrayed by my flush.
УAs I thought.Ф His voice is clipped. УYou know how I feel about you not eating. Come,Ф he says. He stands and holds out his hand. УLet me feed you.Ф And he shifts againЕ this time his voice full of sensual promise. УFeed me?Ф I whisper as everything south of my navel liquefies.Hell. This is such a typically mercurial diversion from what weТve been discussing.Is that it? Is that all IТm getting out of him for now? Leading me over to the kitchen, Christian grabs a bar stool and hefts it around to the other side of the island. УSit,Ф he says. УWhereТs Mrs. Jones?Ф I ask, noticing her absence for the first time as I perch on the stool. УIТve given her and Taylor the night off.Ф Oh. УWhy?Ф He gazes at me for a beat, and his arrogant amusement is back.УBecause I can.Ф УSo youТre going to cook?Ф I give him an incredulous smirk. УOh, ye of little faith, Mrs. Grey. Close your eyes.Ф Wow. I thought we were going to have a full-‐on fight, and here we are, playing in the kitchen. УClose them,Ф he orders. I roll them first, then oblige. УHmm. Not good enough,Ф he mutters. I open one eye and see him take a plum-‐ colored silk scarf out of the back pocket of his jeans. It matches my dress.Holy cow. I look quizzically at him.When did he get that? УClose,Ф he orders again. УNo peeking.Ф УYouТre going to blindfold me?Ф I mutter, shocked. All of a sudden IТm breathless. УYes.Ф УChristian-‐Ф He places a finger upon my lips, silencing me. I want to talk. УWeТll talk later. I want you to eat now. You said you were hungry.Ф He lightly kisses my lips. The silk of the scarf is soft against my eyelids as he ties it securely at the back of my head. УCan you see?Ф he asks. УNo,Ф I mutter, figuratively rolling my eyes. He chuckles softly. УI can tell when youТre rolling your eyes,Е and you know how that makes me feel.Ф I purse my lips.УCan we just get this over and done with?Ф I snap. УSuch impatience, Mrs. Grey. So eager to talk.Ф His tone is playful. УYes!Ф УI must feed you first,Ф he says and brushes his lips over my temple, calming me instantly. OkayЕ have it your way. I resign myself to my fate and listen to his movements around the kitchen. The fridge door opens, and Christian places various dishes on the countertop behind me. He pads over to the microwave, pops something in, and turns it on. My curiosity is piqued. I hear the toaster lever drop, the turn of the control, and the quiet tick of the timer. Hmm-‐toast? УYes. I am eager to talk,Ф I murmur, distracted. An assortment of exotic, spicy aromas fills the kitchen, and I shift in my chair.
УBe still, Anastasia,Ф he murmurs, and heТs close to me again. УI want you to behaveЕ,Ф he whispers. Oh my. My inner goddess freezes, not even blinking. УAnd donТt bite your lip.Ф Gently he tugs my bottom lip free of my teeth, and I canТt help my smile. Next, I hear the sharp pop of a cork being drawn from a bottle and the gentle glug of wine being poured into a glass. Then a moment of silence followed by a quiet click and the soft hiss of white noise from the surround-‐sound speakers as they come to life. A loud twang of a guitar begins a song I donТt know. Christian turns the volume down to background level. A man starts to sing, his voice deep, low, and sexy. УA drink first, I think,Ф Christian whispers, diverting me from the song. УHead back.Ф I tip my head back. УFurther,Ф he prompts. I oblige, and his lips are on mine. Cool crisp wine flows into my mouth. I swallow reflexively.Oh my. Memories flood back of not so long ago-‐me trussed up on my bed in Vancouver before I graduated with a hot, angry Christian not appreciating my e-‐mail.Hmm Е have times changed? Not much. Except now I recognize the wine, ChristianТs favorite-‐a Sancerre. УHmm,Ф I murmur in appreciation. УYou like the wine?Ф he whispers, his breath warm on my cheek. IТm bathed in his proximity, his vitality, the heat radiating from his body, even though he doesnТt touch me. УYes,Ф I breathe. УMore?Ф УI always want more, with you.Ф I almost hear his grin. It makes me grin, too.УMrs. Grey, are you flirting with me? Ф УYes.Ф His wedding ring clinks against the glass as he takes another sip of wine. Now that is a sexy sound. This time he pulls my head right back, cradling me. He kisses me once more, and greedily I swallow the wine he gives me. He smiles as he kisses me again. УHungry?Ф УI think weТve already established that, Mr. Grey.Ф The troubadour on the iPod is singing about wicked games.HmmЕ How apt. The microwave pings, and Christian releases me. I sit upright. The food smells spicy: garlic, mint, oregano, rosemary, and lamb, I think. The door to the microwave opens, and the appetizing smell grows stronger. УShit! Christ!Ф Christian curses, and a dish clatters onto the countertop. Oh Fifty!УYou okay?Ф УYes!Ф he snaps, his voice tight. A moment later, heТs standing beside me once more. УI just burned myself. Here.Ф He eases his index finger into my mouth. УMaybe you could suck it better.Ф УOh.Ф Clasping his hand, I draw his finger slowly from my mouth. УThere, there, Ф I soothe, and leaning forward I blow, cooling his finger, then kiss it gently twice. He stops breathing. I reinsert it into my mouth and suck gently. He inhales sharply, and the sound travels straight to my groin. He tastes as delicious as ever, and I realize that this is his game-‐the slow seduction of his wife. I thought he was mad, and nowЕ? This man, my husband, is so confusing. But this is how I like him. Playful. Fun. Sexy as hell. HeТs given
me some answers, but IТm greedy. I want more, but I want to play, too. After the anxiety and tension of today, and the nightmare of last night with Jack, this is a welcome diversion. УWhat are you thinking?Ф Christian murmurs, stopping my thoughts in their tracks as he pulls his finger out of my mouth. УHow mercurial you are.Ф He stills beside me.УFifty Shades, baby,Ф he says eventually and plants a tender kiss at the corner of my mouth. УMy Fifty Shades,Ф I whisper. Grabbing his T-‐shirt, I pull him back to me. УOh no you donТt, Mrs. Grey. No touchingЕ not yet.Ф He takes my hand, pries it off his T-‐shirt, and kisses each finger in turn. УSit up,Ф he commands. I pout. УI will spank you if you pout. Now open wide.Ф Oh shit. I open my mouth, and he pops in a forkful of spicy hot lamb covered in a cool, minty, yogurt sauce. Mmm. I chew. УYou like?Ф УYes.Ф He makes an appreciative noise, and I know heТs eating and enjoying, too. УMore?Ф I nod. He gives me another forkful, and I chew it enthusiastically. He puts the fork down and he tearsЕ bread, I think. УOpen,Ф he orders. This time itТs pita bread and hummus. I realize Mrs. Jones-‐or maybe even Christian-‐has been shopping at the delicatessen I discovered about five weeks ago only two blocks from Escala. I chew gratefully. Christian in a playful mood increases my appetite. УMore?Ф he asks. I nod.УMore of everything. Please. IТm starving.Ф I hear his delighted grin. Slowly and patiently he feeds me, occasionally kissing a morsel of food from the corner of my mouth or wiping it off with his fingers. Intermittently, he offers me a sip of wine in his unique way. УOpen wide, then bite,Ф he murmurs. I follow his command. Hmm-‐one of my favorites, stuffed vine leaves. Even cold they are delicious, though I prefer them heated up, but I donТt want to risk Christian burning himself again. He feeds it to me slowly, and when IТve finished I lick his fingersclean. УMore?Ф he asks, his voice low and husky. I shake my head. IТm full. УGood,Ф he whispers against my ear, Уbecause itТs time for my favorite course. You.Ф He scoops me up in his arms, surprising me so much I squeal. УCan I take the blindfold off?Ф УNo.Ф I almost pout, then remember his threat and think better of it. УPlayroom,Ф he murmurs. Oh-‐I donТt know if thatТs a good idea. УYou up for the challenge?Ф he asks. And because heТs used the wordchallenge, I canТt say no. УBring it on,Ф I murmur, desire and something that I donТt want to name thrum through my body. He carries me through the door, then up the stairs to the second floor.
УI think youТve lost weight,Ф he mutters disapprovingly. I have? Good. I remember his comment when we arrived back from our honeymoon, and how much it smarted. Jeez-‐was that just a week ago? Outside the playroom, he slides me down his body and sets me on my feet, but keeps his arm wrapped around my waist. Briskly he unlocks the door. It always smells the same: polished wood and citrus. ItТs actually become a comforting smell. Releasing me, Christian turns me around until IТm facing away from him. He undoes the scarf, and I blink in the soft light. Gently, he pulls the hairpins from my updo, and my braid falls free. He grasps it and tugs gently so I have to step back against him. УI have a plan,Ф he whispers in my ear, sending delicious shivers down my spine. УI thought you might,Ф I answer. He kisses me beneath my ear. УOh, Mrs. Grey, I do.Ф His tone is soft, mesmerizing. He tugs my braid to the side and plants a trail of soft kisses down my throat. УFirst we have to get you naked.Ф His voice hums low in his throat and resonates through my body. I want this-‐whatever he has planned. I want to connect the way we know how. He turns me around to face him. I glance down at his jeans, the top button still undone, and I canТt help myself. I brush my index finger around the waistband, avoiding his T-‐shirt, feeling the hairs of his happy trail tickle my knuckle. He inhales sharply, and I look up to meet his eyes. I stop at the unfastened button. His eyes darken to a deeper gray Еoh my. УYou should keep these on,Ф I whisper. УI fully intend to, Anastasia.Ф And he moves, grabbing me with one hand to the back of my neck and the other around my backside. He pulls me against him, then his mouth is on mine, and heТs kissing me like his life depends on it. Whoa! He walks me backward, our tongues entwined, until I feel the wooden cross behind me. He leans into me, the contours of his body pressing into mine. УLetТs get rid of this dress,Ф he says, peeling my dress up my thighs, my hips, my bellyЕ deliciously slowly, the material skimming over my skin, skimming over my breasts. УLean forward,Ф he says. I comply, and he pulls my dress over my head and discards it on the floor, leaving me in my sandals, panties, and bra. His eyes blaze as he grasps both my hands and raises them over my head. He blinks once and tilts his head to one side, and I know heТs asking for my permission.What is he going to do to me? I swallow, then nod, and a trace of an admiring, almost proud, smile touches his lips. He clips my wrists into the leather cuffs on the bar above and produces the scarf once more. УThink youТve seen enough,Ф he murmurs. He wraps it around my head, blindfolding me again, and I feel a frisson run through me as all my other senses heighten; the sound of his soft breathing, my own excited response, the blood pulsing in my ears, ChristianТs scent mixed with the citrus andpolish in the room-‐all are bought into sharper focus because I canТt see. His nose touches mine. УIТm going to drive you wild,Ф he whispers. His hands grasp my hips, and he moves down, removing my panties as his hands glide down my legs.Drive me wildЕ wow. УLift your feet, one at a time.Ф I oblige and he removes first my panties, then each sandal in turn. Gently grasping my ankle, he tugs my leg gently to the right.
УStep,Ф he says. He cuffs my right ankle to the cross then proceeds to do the same with my left. I am helpless, spread-‐eagled on the cross. Standing, Christian steps toward me, and my body is bathed in his warmth once more though he doesnТt touch me. After a moment he grasps my chin, tilts myhead up, and kisses me chastely. УSome music and toys, I think. You look beautiful like this, Mrs. Grey. I may take a moment to admire the view.Ф His voice is soft. Everything clenches deep inside. After a moment, maybe two, I hear him pad quietly to the museum chest and open one of the drawers. The butt drawer? I have no idea. He takes something out and places it on the top, followed by something else. The speakers spring to life, and after a moment the strains of a single piano playing a soft, lilting melody fill the room. ItТs familiar-‐Bach, I think-‐but I donТt know what piece it is. Something about the music makes me apprehensive. Perhaps because the music is too cool, too detached. I frown, trying to grasp why it unsettles me, but Christian grasps my chin, startling me, and tugs gently so that I release my bottom lip. I smile, trying to reassure myself. Why do feel uneasy? Is it the music? Christian runs his hand from my chin, along my throat, and down my chest to my breast. Using his thumb he pulls on the cup, freeing my breast from the restraint of my bra. He makes a low, appreciative humming noise in his throat and kisses my neck. His lips follow the path of his fingers to my breast, kissing and sucking all the way. His fingers move to my left breast, releasing it from my bra. I moan as he skates his thumb across my left nipple, and his lips close around my right, tugging and teasing gently until both nipples are long and hard. УAh.Ф He doesnТt stop. With exquisite care, he slowly increases the intensity on each. I pull fruitlessly against my restraints as sharp pleasure spikes from my nipples to my groin. I try to squirm but I can hardly move, and it makes the torture all the more intense. УChristian,Ф I plead. УI know,Ф he murmurs his voice hoarse. УThis is what you make me feel.Ф What? I groan, and he begins again, subjecting my nipples to his sweet agonizing touch over and over-‐taking me closer. УPlease,Ф I mewl. He makes a low primal sound in his throat, then stands, leaving me bereft, breathless, and squirming against my restraints. He runs his hands down my sides, one pausing on my hip while the other travels down my belly. УLetТs see how youТre doing,Ф he croons softly. Gently, he cups my sex, brushing his thumb across my clitoris and making me cry out. Slowly, he inserts one, then two fingers inside me. I groan and thrust my hips forward, eager to meet his fingers and the palm of his hand. УOh, Anastasia, youТre so ready,Ф he says. He circles his fingers inside me, around and around, while his thumb strokes my clitoris, back and forth, once more. ItТs the only point on my body where heТs touching me, and all the tension, all the anxiety of the day, is concentrated on this one part of my anatomy. Holy shitЕ itТs intenseЕ and strangeЕ the musicЕ I begin to buildЕ Christian shifts, his hand still moving against and in me, and I hear a low buzzing noise. УWhat?Ф I gasp. УHush,Ф he soothes, and his lips are on mine, effectively silencing me. I welcome the warmer, more intimate contact, kissing him voraciously. He breaks the contact and the buzzing noise gets nearer.
УThis is a wand, baby. It vibrates.Ф He holds it against my chest, and it feels like a large ball-‐like object vibrating against me. I shiver as it moves across my skin, down between my breasts, across to first one, then the other nipple, and IТm awash with sensation, tingling everywhere, synapses firing as dark, dark need pools at the base of my belly. УAh,Ф I groan while ChristianТs fingers continue to move inside me. IТm close Е all this stimulationЕ Tilting my head back, I moan loudly and Christian stills his fingers. All sensation stops. УNo! Christian,Ф I plead, trying to thrust my hips forward for some friction. УStill, baby,Ф he says while my impending orgasm melts away. He leans forward once more and kisses me. УFrustrating, isnТt it?Ф he murmurs. Oh no! Suddenly I understand his game. УChristian, please.Ф УHush,Ф he says and kisses me. And he starts to move again-‐wand, fingers, thumb-‐a lethal combination of sensual torture. He shifts so his body brushes against mine. HeТs still dressed, and the soft denim of his jeans brushes against my leg, his erection at my hip. So tantalizingly close. He brings me to the brink again, my body singing with need, and stops. УNo,Ф I mewl loudly. He plants soft wet kisses on my shoulder as he withdraws his fingers from me, and moves the wand down. It oscillates over my stomach, my belly, onto my sex, against my clitoris. Fuck, itТs intense. УAh!Ф I cry out, pulling hard on the restraints. My body is so sensitized I feel I am going to explode, and just as I am, Christian stops again. УChristian!Ф I cry out. УFrustrating, yes?Ф he murmurs against my throat. УJust like you. Promising one thing and thenЕФ His voice trails off. УChristian, please!Ф I beg. He pushes the wand against me again and again, stopping just at the vital moment each time.Ah! УEach time I stop, it feels more intense when I start again. Right?Ф УPlease,Ф I whimper. My nerve endings are screaming for release. The buzzing stops and Christian kisses me. He runs his nose down mine.УYou are the most frustrating woman I have ever met.Ф No, No, No. УChristian, I never promised to obey you. Please, please-‐Ф He moves in front of me, grabs my behind and pushes his hips against me, making me gasp-‐his groin rubbing into mine, the buttons of his jeans pressing into me, barely containing his erection. With one hand he pulls off the blindfold and grasps my chin, and I blink up into his scorching eyes. УYou drive me crazy,Ф he whispers, flexing his hips against me once, twice, three times more, causing my body to spark-‐ready to burn. And again he denies me. I want him so badly. I need him so badly. I close my eyes and mutter a prayer. I canТt help but feel IТ m being punished. IТm helpless and heТs ruthless. Tears spring to my eyes. I donТt know how far heТs going to take this. УPlease,Ф I whisper once more.
But he gazes down at me, implacable. HeТs just going to continue. For how long? Can I play this game?No. No. No-‐I canТt do this. I know heТs not going to stop. HeТs going to continue to torture me. His hand travels down my body once more.NoЕ And the dam bursts-‐all the apprehension, the anxiety, and the fear from the last couple of days overwhelming me anew as tears spring to my eyes. I turn away from him. This is not love. It Тs revenge. УRed,Ф I whimper. УRed. Red.Ф The tears course down my face. He stills.УNo!Ф He gasps, stunned. УJesus Christ, no.Ф He moves quickly, unclipping my hands, clasping me around my waist and leaning down to unclip my ankles, while I put my head in my hands and weep. УNo, no, no. Ana, please. No.Ф Picking me up, he moves to the bed, sitting down and cradling me in his lap while I sob inconsolably. IТm overwhelmedЕ my body wound up to breaking point, my mind a blank, and my emotions scattered to the wind. He reaches behind him, drags the satin sheet off the four-‐poster bed, and drapes it around me. The cool sheets feel alien and unwelcome against my sensitized skin. He wraps his arms around me, hugging me close, rocking me gently backward and forward. УIТm sorry. IТm sorry,Ф Christian murmurs, his voice raw. He kisses my hair over and over again. УAna, forgive me, please.Ф Turning my face into his neck, I continue to cry, and itТs a cathartic release. So much has happened over the last few days-‐fires in computer rooms, car chases, careers planned out for me, slutty architects, armed lunatics in the apartment, arguments, his anger-‐and Christian has been away. I hate Christian going awayЕ I use the corner of the sheet to wipe my nose and gradually become aware that the clinical tones of Bach are still echoing around the room. УPlease switch the music off.Ф I sniff. УYes, of course.Ф Christian shifts, not letting me go, and pulls the remote out of his back pocket. He presses a button and the piano music ceases, to be replaced by my shuddering breaths. УBetter?Ф he asks. I nod, my sobs easing. Christian wipes my tears away gently with his thumb. УNot a fan of BachТs Goldberg Variations?Ф he asks. УNot that piece.Ф He gazes down at me, trying and failing to hide the shame in his eyes. УIТm sorry,Ф he says again. УWhy did you do that?Ф My voice is barely audible as I try to process my scrambled thoughts and feelings. He shakes his head sadly and closes his eyes.УI got lost in the moment,Ф he says unconvincingly. I frown at him, and he sighs.УAna, orgasm denial is a standard tool in-‐You never-‐ Ф He stops. I shift in his lap, and he winces. Oh. I flush.УSorry,Ф I mutter. He rolls his eyes, then leans back suddenly, taking me with him, so that weТre both lying on the bed, me in his arms. My bra is uncomfortable, and I adjust it. УNeed a hand?Ф he asks quietly. I shake my head. I donТt want him to touch my breasts. He shifts so heТs looking down at me, and tentatively raising his hand, he strokes his fingers gently down my face. Tears pool in my eyes again. How can he be so callous one minute and so tender the next? УPlease donТt cry,Ф he whispers.
IТm dazed and confused by this man. My anger has deserted me in my hour of needЕ I feel numb. I want to curl up in a ball and withdraw. I blink, trying to hold back my tears as I gaze into his harrowed eyes. I take a shuddering breath, my eyes not leaving his. What am I going to do with this controlling man? Learn to be controlled? I donТt think so Е УI never what?Ф I ask УDo as youТre told. You changed your mind; you didnТt tell me where you were. Ana, I was in New York, powerless and livid. If IТd been in Seattle IТd have brought you home.Ф УSo you are punishing me?Ф He swallows, then closes his eyes. He doesnТt have to answer, and I know that punishing me was his exact intention. УYou have to stop doing this,Ф I murmur. His brow furrows. УFor a start, you only end up feeling shittier about yourself.Ф He snorts.УThatТs true,Ф he mutters. УI donТt like to see you like this.Ф УAnd I donТt like feeling like this. You said on theFair Lady that you hadnТt married a submissive.Ф УI know. I know.Ф His voice is soft and raw. УWell stop treating me like one. IТm sorry I didnТt call you. I wonТt be so selfish again. I know you worry about me.Ф He gazes at me, scrutinizing me closely, his eyes bleak and anxious.УOkay. Good, Ф he says eventually. He leans down, but pauses before his lips touch mine, silently asking if itТs allowed. I raise my face to his, and he kisses me tenderly. УYour lips are always so soft when youТve been crying,Ф he murmurs. УI never promised to obey you, Christian,Ф I whisper. УI know.Ф УDeal with it, please. For both our sakes. And I will try and be more considerate of yourЕ controlling tendencies.Ф He looks lost and vulnerable, completely at sea. УIТll try,Ф he murmurs, his voice burning with sincerity. I sigh, a long shuddering sigh.УPlease do. Besides, if Ihad been hereЕФ УI know,Ф he says and blanches. Lying back, he puts his free arm over his face. I curl around him and lay my head on his chest. We both lie silent for a few moments. His hand moves to the end of my braid. He pulls the tie from it, freeing my hair, and gently, rhythmically combs his fingers through it. This is what this is really about-‐his fearЕ his irrational fear for my safety. An image of Jack Hyde slumped on the floor in my apartment with a Glock comes to mindЕ well, maybe not so irrational, which reminds meЕ УWhat did you mean earlier, when you saidor?Ф I ask. УOr?Ф УSomething about Jack.Ф He peers down at me.УYou donТt give up, do you?Ф I rest my chin on his sternum, enjoying the soothing caress of his fingers in my hair. УGive up? Never. Tell me. I donТt like being kept in the dark. You seem to have some overblown idea that I need protecting. You donТt even know how to shoot-‐I do. Do you think I canТt handle whatever it is you wonТt tell me, Christian? IТve had your
stalker ex-‐sub pull a gun on me, yourpedophile ex-‐lover harass me-‐and donТt look at me like that,Ф I snap when he scowls at me. УYour mother feels the same way about her.Ф УYou talked to my mother about Elena?Ф ChristianТs voice raises a few octaves. УYes, Grace and I talked about her.Ф He gapes at me. УSheТs very upset about it. Blames herself.Ф УI canТt believe you spoke to my mother. Shit!Ф He lies down and puts his arm over his face again. УI didnТt go into any specifics.Ф УI should hope not. Grace doesnТt need all the gory details. Christ, Ana. My dad, too?Ф УNo!Ф I shake my head vehemently. I donТt have that kind of relationship with Carrick. His comments about the prenup still sting. УAnyway, youТre trying to distract me-‐again. Jack. What about him?Ф Christian lifts his arm briefly and gazes at me, his expression unreadable. Sighing, he puts his arm back over his face. УHyde is implicated in Charlie TangoТs sabotage. The investigators found a partial print-‐just partial, so they couldnТt make a match. But then you recognized Hyde in the server room. He has convictions as a minor in Detroit, and the prints matched his.Ф My mind reels as I try to absorb this information. Jack brought down Charlie Tango? But Christian is on a roll.УThis morning, a cargo van was found in the garage here. Hyde was the driver. Yesterday, he delivered some shit to that new guy whoТs moved in. The guy we met in the elevator.Ф УI donТt remember his name.Ф УMe neither.Ф Christian says. УBut thatТs how Hyde managed to get into the building legitimately. He was working for a delivery company-‐Ф УAnd? WhatТs so important about the van?Ф Christian says nothing. УChristian, tell me.Ф УThe cops foundЕ things in the van.Ф He stops again and tightens his hold around me. УWhat things?Ф HeТs quiet for several moments, and I open my mouth to prompt him again, but he speaks. УA mattress, enough horse tranquilizer to take down a dozen horses, and a note.Ф His voice has softened to barely a whisper while horror and revulsion roll off him. Holy fuck. УNote?Ф My voice mirrors his. УAddressed to me.Ф УWhat did it say?Ф Christian shakes his head, indicating he doesnТt know or that he wonТt divulge its contents. Oh. УHyde came here last night with the intention of kidnapping you.Ф Christian freezes, his face taut with tension. As he says those words, I recall the duct tape, and a shudder runs through me, though deep down this is not news to me. УShit,Ф I mutter. УQuite,Ф Christian says tightly.
I try to remember Jack in the office. Was he always insane? How did he think he could get away with this? I mean he was pretty creepy, but this unhinged? УI donТt understand why,Ф I murmur. УIt doesnТt make sense to me.Ф УI know. The police are digging further, and so is Welch. But we think Detroit is the connection.Ф УDetroit?Ф I gaze at him, confused. УYeah. ThereТs something there.Ф УI still donТt understand.Ф Christian lifts his face and gazes at me, his expression unreadable.УAna, I was born in Detroit.Ф 12 [ артинка: pic_91.jpg] УI thought you were born here in Seattle,Ф I murmur. My mind races. What does this have to do with Jack? Christian raises the arm covering his face, reaches behind him, and grabs one of the pillows. Placing it under his head, he settles back and gazes at me with a wary expression. After a moment he shakes his head. УNo. Elliot and I were both adopted in Detroit. We moved here shortly after my adoption. Grace wanted to be on the west coast, away from the urban sprawl, and she got a job at Northwest Hospital. I have very little memory of that time. Mia was adopted here.Ф УSo Jack is from Detroit?Ф УYes.Ф OhЕУHow do you know?Ф УI ran a background check when you went to work for him.Ф Of course he did.УDo you have a manila file on him, too?Ф I smirk. ChristianТs mouth twists as he hides his amusement. УI think itТs pale blue.Ф His fingers continue to run through my hair. ItТs soothing. УWhat does it say in his file?Ф Christian blinks. Reaching down he strokes my cheek.УYou really want to know? Ф УIs it that bad?Ф He shrugs.УIТve known worse,Ф he whispers. No! Is he referring to himself? And the image I have of Christian as a small, dirty, fearful, lost boy comes to mind. I curl around him, holding him tighter, pulling the sheet over him, and I lay my cheek against his chest. УWhat?Ф he asks, puzzled by my reaction. УNothing,Ф I murmur. УNo, no. This works both ways, Ana. What is it?Ф I glance up assessing his apprehensive expression. Resting my cheek upon his chest once more, I decide to tell him.УSometimes I picture you as a childЕ before you came to live with the Greys.Ф Christian stiffens.УI wasnТt talking about me. I donТt want your pity, Anastasia. That part of my life is done. Gone.Ф УItТs not pity,Ф I whisper, appalled. УItТs sympathy and sorrow-‐sorrow that anyone could do that to a child.Ф I take a deep steadying breath as my stomach twists and tears prick my eyes anew. УThat part of your life is not done, Christian-‐how can you say that? You live every day with your past. You told me yourself-‐Fifty Shades, remember?Ф My voice is barely audible.
Christian snorts and runs his free hand through his hair, though he remains silent and tense beneath me. УI know itТs why you feel the need to control me. Keep me safe.Ф УAnd yet you choose to defy me,Ф he murmurs baffled, his hand stilling in my hair. I frown.Holy cow! Do I do that deliberately? My subconscious removes her half-‐ moon glasses and chews the end, pursing her lips and nodding. I ignore her. This is confusing-‐IТm his wife, not his submissive, not some company heТs acquired. IТm not the crack whore who was his motherЕFuck. The thought is sickening. Dr. FlynnТs words come back to me: УJust keep doing what youТre doing. Christian is head over heelsЕ ItТs a delight to see.Ф ThatТs it. IТm just doing what IТve always done. IsnТt that what Christian found attractive in the first place? Oh, this man is so confusing. УDr. Flynn said I should give you the benefit of the doubt. I think I do-‐IТm not sure. Perhaps itТs my way of bringing you into the here and now-‐away from your past,Ф I whisper. УI donТt know. I just canТt seem to get a handle on how far youТll overreact. Ф HeТs silent for a moment. УFucking Flynn,Ф he mutters to himself. УHe said I should continue to behave the way IТve always behaved with you.Ф УDid he now?Ф Christian says dryly. Okay. Here goes nothing.УChristian, I know you loved your mom, and you couldn Тt save her. It wasnТt your job to do that. But IТm not her.Ф He freezes again.УDonТt,Ф he whispers. УNo, listen. Please.Ф I raise my head to stare into gray eyes that are paralyzed with fear. HeТs holding his breath.Oh, ChristianЕ My heart constricts.УIТm not her. IТ m much stronger than she was. I have you, and youТre so much stronger now, and I know you love me. I love you, too,Ф I whisper. His brow creases as if my words were not what he expected.УDo you still love me?Ф he asks. УOf course I do. Christian, I will always love you. No matter what you do to me.Ф Is this the reassurance he wants? He exhales and closes his eyes, placing his arm over his face again, but hugging me closer, too. УDonТt hide from me.Ф Reaching up, I grasp his hand and pull his arm away from his face. УYouТve spent your life hiding. Please donТt, not from me.Ф He looks at me with incredulity and frowns.УHiding?Ф УYes.Ф He shifts suddenly, rolling over onto his side and moving me so that I am lying beside him on the bed. He reaches up, smoothes my hair off my face and tucks it behind my ear. УYou asked me earlier today if I hated you. I didnТt understand why, and now-‐Ф He stops, staring down at me as if IТm a complete conundrum. УYou still think I hate you?Ф Now my voice is incredulous. УNo.Ф He shakes his head. УNot now.Ф He looks relieved. УBut I need to know Е why did you safe word, Ana?Ф
I blanch. What can I tell him? That he frightened me. That I didnТt know if heТd stop. That I begged him-‐and he didnТt stop. That I didnТt want things to escalateЕ like-‐ like that one time in here. I shudder as I recall him whipping me with his belt. I swallow.УBecauseЕ because you were so angry and distant andЕ cold. I didnТ t know how far youТd go.Ф His expression is unreadable. УWere you going to let me come?Ф My voice is barely a whisper, and I feel a blush steal over my cheeks, but I hold his gaze. УNo,Ф he says eventually. Holy crap.УThatТsЕ harsh.Ф His knuckle gently grazes my cheek.УBut effective,Ф he murmurs. He gazes down at me as if heТs trying to see into my soul, his eyes darkening. After an eternity, he murmurs, УIТm glad you did.Ф УReally?Ф I donТt understand. His lips twist in a sad smile.УYes. I donТt want to hurt you. I got carried away.Ф He reaches down and kisses me. УLost in the moment.Ф He kisses me again. УHappens a lot with you.Ф Oh? And for some bizarre reason the thought pleases meЕ I grin. Why does that make me happy? He grins, too. УI donТt know why youТre grinning, Mrs. Grey.Ф УMe neither.Ф He wraps himself around me and places his head on my chest. We are a tangle of naked and denim-‐clad limbs, and satin red sheets. I stroke his back with one hand and run the fingers of my other hand through his hair. He sighs and relaxes in my arms. УIt means I can trust youЕ to stop me. I never want to hurt you,Ф he murmurs. УI need-‐Ф He halts. УYou need what?Ф УI need control, Ana. Like I need you. ItТs the only way I can function. I canТt let go of it. I canТt. IТve triedЕ And yet, with youЕФ He shakes his head in exasperation. I swallow. This is the heart of our dilemma-‐his need for control and his need for me. I refuse to believe these are mutually exclusive. УI need you, too,Ф I whisper, hugging him tighter. УIТll try, Christian. IТll try to be more considerate.Ф УI want you to need me,Ф he murmurs. Holy cow! УI do!Ф My voice is impassioned. I need him so much. I love him so much. УI want to look after you.Ф УYou do. All the time. I missed you so much while you were away.Ф УYou did?Ф He sounds so surprised. УYes, of course. I hate you going away.Ф I sense his smile.УYou could have come with me.Ф УChristian, please. LetТs not rehash that argument. I want to work.Ф He sighs as I work my fingers gently through his hair. УI love you, Ana.Ф УI love you, too, Christian. I will always love you.Ф We both lie still in the calm, quiet after our storm. Listening to the steady beat of his heart, I drift exhausted into sleep.
I wake with a start, disorientated. Where am I? The playroom. The lights are still on, softly illuminating the bloodred walls. Christian moans again, and I realize this is what woke me. УNo,Ф he groans. HeТs sprawled out beside me, his head back, his eyes screwed shut, his face contorted in anguish. Holy shit. HeТs having a nightmare. УNo!Ф he cries out again. УChristian, wake up.Ф I struggle to sit up, kicking off the sheet. Kneeling beside him, I grab his shoulders and shake him as tears spring to my eyes. УChristian, please. Wake up!Ф His eyes spring open, gray and wild, his pupils enlarged with fear. He stares vacantly up at me. УChristian, youТre having a nightmare. YouТre home. YouТre safe.Ф He blinks, looks around frantically, and frowns as he takes in our surroundings. Then his eyes are back on mine.УAna,Ф he breathes, and with no preamble whatsoever he grabs my face with both hands, pulls me down onto his chest, and kisses me. Hard. His tongue invades my mouth, and he tastes of desperation and need. Barely giving me a chance to breathe, he rolls over, his lips locked to mine so that heТs pressing me into the hard mattress of the four-‐poster. One of his hands clasps my jaw, the other spreads out on top of my head, keeping me still as his knee parts my legs and he nestles, still clothed in his jeans, between my thighs. УAna,Ф he gasps as if he canТt believe IТm there with him. He gazes down at me for a split second, allowing me a moment to breathe. Then his lips are on mine again, plundering my mouth, taking all I have to give. He groans loudly, flexing his hips into me. His erection sheathed in denim pushes into my soft flesh.OhЕ I moan, and all the pent-‐up sexual tension of earlier erupts, resurfacing with a vengeance, flushing my system with desire and need. Driven by his demons, he urgently kisses my face, my eyes, my cheeks, along my jaw. УIТm here,Ф I whisper, trying to calm him, our heated, panting breath mingling. I wrap my arms around his shoulders, as I grind my pelvis against his in welcome. УOh, Ana,Ф he pants, his voice rough and low. УI need you.Ф УMe, too,Ф I whisper urgently, my body desperate for his touch. I want him. I want him now. I want to heal him. I want to heal meЕ I need this. His hand reaches down and tugs on the button of his fly, fumbling momentarily, then freeing his erection. Holy shit. I was asleep less than a minute ago. He shifts, staring down at me for a split second, suspended above me. УYes. Please,Ф I breathe, my voice hoarse and needy. And in one swift move he buries himself inside me. УAh!Ф I cry out, not from any pain, but from surprise at his alacrity. He groans, and his lips find mine again as he pushes into me, over and over, his tongue possessing me, too. He moves frantically, compelled by his fear, his lust, his desire, his-‐love? I donТt know, but I meet him thrust for thrust, welcoming him. УAna,Ф he growls almost inarticulately, and he comes powerfully, pouring himself into me, his face strained, his body rigid, before he collapses with his full weight onto me, panting, and he leaves me hangingЕ again. Holy shit. This is not my night. My inner goddess is preparing to disembowel herself. I hold him, drawing in a lungful of air and practically writhing with need beneath him. He eases out of me and holds me for minutesЕ many minutes. Finally he shakes his
head and leans up on his elbows, taking some of his weight. He gazes down at me as if seeing me for the first time. УOh, Ana. Sweet Jesus.Ф He bends and kisses me tenderly. УYou okay?Ф I breathe, caressing his lovely face. He nods, but he looks shaken and most definitely stirred. My own lost boy. He frowns and stares intently into my eyes as if finally registering where he is. УYou?Ф he asks, concern in his voice. УUmЕФ I wriggle beneath him, and after a moment he smiles, a slow carnal smile. УMrs. Grey, you have needs,Ф he murmurs. He kisses me swiftly, then scoots off the bed. Kneeling on the floor at the end of the bed, he reaches up, grabs me just above the knees and pulls me toward him so my behind is on the edge of the bed. УSit up,Ф he murmurs. I struggle into a sitting position, my hair falling like a veil around me, down to my breasts. His gray gaze holds mine as he gently pushes my legs apart as far as theyТll go. I lean back on my hands-‐knowing full well what heТs going to do. ButЕ heТs justЕ umЕ УYou are so fucking beautiful, Ana,Ф he breathes, and I watch his copper-‐haired head dip and plant a trail of kisses up my right thigh, heading north. My whole body clenches in anticipation. He glances up at me, his eyes darkening through long lashes. УWatch,Ф he rasps then his mouth is on me. Oh my. I cry out as the world is concentrated at the apex of my thighs, and itТs so erotic-‐Fuck-‐watching him. Watching his tongue against what feels like the most sensitive part of my body. And he shows no mercy, teasing and taunting, worshipping me. My body tenses and my arms start to tremble from the strain of staying upright. УNoЕ ah,Ф I murmur. Gently, he eases one long finger inside me, and I can bear it no more, collapsing back onto the bed, relishing this mouth and fingers on and in me. Slowly and gently, he massages that sweet, sweet spot deep inside me. And thatТs it-‐IТm gone. I explode around him, crying out an incoherent rendition of his name as my intense orgasm arches my back off the bed. I think I see stars itТs such a visceral primal feelingЕ Vaguely IТm aware that heТs nuzzling my belly, giving me soft, sweet kisses. Reaching down, I caress his hair. УIТm not finished with you yet,Ф he murmurs. And before IТve fully come back to Seattle, Planet Earth, heТs reaching for me, grasping my hips and pulling me off the bed to whereТs heТs kneeling, and into his waiting lap and onto his waiting erection. I gasp as he fills me.Holy cowЕ УOh, baby,Ф he breathes as he wraps his arms around me and stills, cradling my head and kissing my face. He flexes his hips, and pleasure spikes hot and hard from deep within me. He reaches for my behind and lifts me, rocking his groin upward. УAh,Ф I moan, and his lips are on mine again as he slowly, oh so slowly, lifts and rocksЕ lifts and rocks. I throw my arms around his neck, surrendering to his gentle rhythm and to wherever heТll take me. I flex my thighs, riding himЕ he feels so good. Leaning backward, I tilt my head back, my mouth open wide in a silent expression of my pleasure, reveling in his sweet lovemaking. УAna,Ф he breathes, and he leans down, kissing my throat. Holding me tight, slowly easing in and out, pushing meЕ higher and higherЕ so exquisitely timed-‐a fluid carnal force. Blissful pleasure radiates outward from deep, deep inside me as he holds me so intimately.
УI love you, Ana,Ф he whispers close to my ear, his voice low and harsh, and he lifts me again-‐up, down, up, down. I curl my hands back around his neck into his hair. УI love you, too, Christian.Ф Opening my eyes, I find heТs gazing at me, and all I see is his love, shining bright and bold in the soft glow of the playroom light, his nightmare seemingly forgotten. And as I feel my body build toward my release, I realize this is what I wanted-‐this connection, this demonstration of our love. УCome for me, baby,Ф he whispers, his voice low. I screw my eyes shut as my body tightens at the low sound of his voice, and I come loudly, spiraling into an intense climax. He stills, his forehead against mine, as he softly whispers my name, wraps his arms around me, and finds his own release. He lifts me gently and lays me on the bed. I lie in his arms, wrung out and finally sated. He nuzzles my neck. УBetter now?Ф he whispers. УHmm.Ф УShall we go to bed, or do you want to sleep here?Ф УHmm.Ф УMrs. Grey, talk to me.Ф He sounds amused. УHmm.Ф УIs that the best you can do?Ф УHmm.Ф УCome. Let me put you to bed. I donТt like sleeping here.Ф Reluctantly, I shift and turn to face him.УWait,Ф I whisper. He blinks at me, looking all wide-‐eyed and innocent, and at the same time thoroughly fucked and pleased with himself. УAre you okay?Ф I ask. He nods, smiling smugly like an adolescent boy.УI am now.Ф УOh, Christian,Ф I scold and gently stroke his lovely face. УI was talking about your nightmare.Ф His expression freezes momentarily, then he closes his eyes and tightens his arms around me, burying his face in my neck. УDonТt,Ф he whispers, his voice hoarse and raw. My heart lurches and twists once more in my chest, and I clutch him tightly, running my hands down his back and through his hair. УIТm sorry,Ф I whisper, alarmed by his reaction. Holy fuck-‐how can I keep up with these mood swings? What the hell was his nightmare about? I donТt want to cause him any more pain by making him relive the details. УItТs okay,Ф I murmur softly, desperate to bring him back to the playful boy of a moment ago. УItТs okay,Ф I repeat over and over soothingly. УLetТs go to bed,Ф he says quietly after a while, and he pulls away from me, leaving me empty and aching as he rises from the bed. I scramble after him, keeping the satin sheet wrapped around me, and bend to pick up my clothes. УLeave those,Ф he says, and before I know it, he scoops me up in his arms. УI donТt want you to trip over this sheet and break your neck.Ф I put my arms around him marveling that heТs recovered his composure, and nuzzle him as he carries me downstairs to our bedroom. My eyes spring open. Something is wrong. Christian is not in bed, though itТs still dark. Glancing at the radio alarm, I see itТs three twenty in the morning. WhereТs Christian? Then I hear the piano.
Quickly slipping out of bed, I grab my robe and run down the hallway to the great room. The tune heТs playing is so sad-‐a mournful lament that IТve heard him play before. I pause in the doorway and watch him in a pool of light while the achingly sorrowful music fills the room. He finishes then starts the piece again. Why such a plaintive tune? I wrap my arms around myself and listen spellbound as he plays. But my heart aches.Christian, why so sad? Is it because of me? Did I do this? When he finishes, only to start a third time, I can bear it no longer. He doesnТt look up as I near the piano, but shifts to one side so I can sit beside him on the piano bench. He continues to play, and I put my head on his shoulder. He kisses my hair but doesnТt stop playing until heТs finished the piece. I peek up at him and heТs staring down at me, warily. УDid I wake you?Ф he asks. УOnly because you were gone. WhatТs that piece called?Ф УItТs Chopin. ItТs one of his preludes in E minor.Ф Christian pauses. УItТs calledSuffocationЕФ Reaching over I take his hand.УYouТre really shaken by all this, arenТt you?Ф He snorts.УA deranged asshole gets into my apartment to kidnap my wife. She wonТt do as sheТs told. She drives me crazy. She safe words on me.Ф He closes his eyes briefly, and when he opens them again, they are stark and raw. УYeah, IТm pretty shaken up.Ф I squeeze his hand.УIТm sorry.Ф He presses his forehead against mine.УI dreamed you were dead,Ф he whispers. What? УLying on the floor-‐so cold-‐and you wouldnТt wake up.Ф Oh, Fifty. УHey-‐it was just a bad dream.Ф Reaching up, I clasp his head in my hands. His eyes burn into mine and the anguish in them is sobering. УIТm here and IТm cold without you in the bed. Come back to bed, please.Ф I take his hand and stand, waiting to see if heТll follow me. Finally he stands, too. HeТs wearing his pajama bottoms, and they hang in that way he has, and I want to run my fingers along the inside of his waistband, but I resist and lead him back to the bedroom. When I wake heТs curled around me, sleeping peacefully. I relax and enjoy his enveloping heat, his skin on my skin. I lie very still, not wanting to disturb him. Boy, what an evening. I feel like IТve been run over by a train-‐the freight train that is my husband. Hard to believe that the man lying beside me, looking so serene and young in his sleep, was so tortured last nightЕ and so tortured me last night. I gaze up at the ceiling, and it occurs to me that I always think of Christian asstrong and dominating-‐yet the reality is heТs so fragile, my lost boy. And the irony is that he looks upon me as fragile-‐ and I donТt think I am. Compared to himIТm strong. But am I strong enough for both of us? Strong enough to do what IТm told and give him some peace of mind? I sigh. HeТs not asking that much of me. I flit through our conversation of last night. Did we decide anything other than to both try harder? The bottom line is that I love this man, and I need to chart a course for both of us. One that lets me keep my integrity and independence but still be more for him. I am hismore, and he is mine. I resolve to make a special effort this weekend not to give him cause for concern.Christian stirs and lifts his head off my chest, looking sleepily at me. УGood morning, Mr. Grey.Ф I smile. УGood morning, Mrs. Grey. Did you sleep well?Ф He stretches out beside me. УOnce my husband stopped making that terrible racket on the piano, yes, I did.Ф
He smiles his shy smile, and I melt.УTerrible racket? IТll be sure to e-‐mail Miss Kathie and let her know.Ф УMiss Kathie?Ф УMy piano teacher.Ф I giggle. УThatТs a lovely sound,Ф he says. УShall we have a better day today?Ф УOkay,Ф I agree. УWhat do you want to do?Ф УAfter I have made love to my wife, and sheТs cooked me breakfast, IТd like to take her to Aspen.Ф I gape at him.УAspen?Ф УYes.Ф УAspen, Colorado?Ф УThe very same. Unless theyТve moved it. After all, you did pay twenty-‐four thousand dollars for the experience.Ф I grin at him.УThat was your money.Ф УOur money.Ф УIt was your money when I made the bid.Ф I roll my eyes. УOh, Mrs. Grey, you and your eye rolling,Ф he whispers as he runs his hand up my thigh. УWonТt it take hours to get to Colorado?Ф I ask to distract him. УNot by jet,Ф he says silkily as his hand reaches my behind. Of course, my husband has a jet. How could I forget? His hand continues to skim up my body, lifting my nightdress as it goes, and soon IТve forgotten everything. Taylor drives us onto the tarmac at Sea-‐Tac and around to where the GEH jet is waiting. ItТs a gray day in Seattle, but I refuse to let the weather dampen my soaring spirits. Christian is in a much better mood. HeТs excited about something-‐lit up like Christmas and twitching like a small boy with a big secret. I wonder what scheme heТs dreamed up. He looks dreamy, all tousled hair, white T-‐shirt and black jeans. Not CEO-‐like at all today. He takes my hand as Taylor glides to a stop at the foot of the jet steps. УI have a surprise for you,Ф he murmurs and kisses my knuckles. I grin at him.УGood surprise?Ф УI hope so.Ф He smiles warmly. HmmЕ what can it be? Sawyer leaps out from the front and opens my door. Taylor opens ChristianТs then retrieves our cases from the trunk. Stephan is waiting at the top of the stairs when we enter the aircraft. I glance into the cockpit and see First Officer Beighley flipping switches on the imposing instrument panel. Christian and Stephan shake hands.УGood morning, sir.Ф Stephan smiles. УThanks for doing this at such short notice.Ф Christian grins back at him. УOur guests here?Ф УYes sir.Ф Guests? I turn and gasp. Kate, Elliot, Mia, and Ethan are all smiling and sitting in the cream-‐colored leather seats. Wow! I spin around to Christian. УSurprise!Ф he says. УHow? When? Who?Ф I mumble inarticulately, trying to contain my delight and elation.
УYou said you didnТt see enough of your friends.Ф He shrugs and gives me a lopsided, apologetic smile. УOh, Christian, thank you.Ф I throw my arms around his neck and kiss him hard in front of everyone. He puts his hands on my hips, hooking his thumbs through the belt loops of my jeans, and deepens the kiss. Oh my. УKeep this up and IТll drag you into the bedroom,Ф he murmurs. УYou wouldnТt dare,Ф I whisper against his lips. УOh, Anastasia.Ф He grins, shaking his head. He releases me and without further preamble, stoops down, grabs my thighs, and lifts me over his shoulder. УChristian, put me down!Ф I smack his behind. I briefly catch StephanТs smile as he turns and heads into the cockpit. Taylor is standing at the doorway trying to stifle his grin. Ignoring my pleas and my futile struggles, Christian strides through the narrow cabin past Mia and Ethan who are facing each other in the single seats, past Kate and Elliot, who is whooping like a demented gibbon. УIf youТll excuse me,Ф he says to our four guests. УI need to have a word with my wife in private.Ф УChristian!Ф I shout. УPut me down!Ф УAll in good time, baby.Ф I have a brief view of Mia, Kate, and Elliot laughing.Damn it! This is not funny, itТs embarrassing. Ethan gawks at us, mouth open and utterly shocked, as we disappear into the cabin. Christian closes the cabin door behind him and releases me, letting me slide down his body slowly, so that I feel every hard sinew and muscle. He gives me his boyish grin, thoroughly pleased with himself. УThat was quite a show, Mr. Grey,Ф I murmur, crossing my arms and regarding him with faux indignation. УThat was fun, Mrs. Grey.Ф And his grin widens.Oh boy. He looks so young. УAre you going to follow through?Ф I arch a brow, unsure how I feel about this. I mean, the others will hear us, for heavenТs sake. Suddenly, I feel shy. Glancing anxiously at the bed, I feel a blush steal across my cheeks as I recall our wedding night. We talked so much yesterday, did so much yesterday. I feel as if we leaped some unknown hurdle-‐but thatТs the problem. ItТs unknown. My eyes find ChristianТs intense but amused gaze, and IТm unable to keep a straight face. His grin is too infectious. УI think it might be rude to keep our guests waiting,Ф he says silkily as he steps toward me.When did he start to care what people think? I step back against the cabin wall and he imprisons me, the heat from his body holding me in place. He leans down and runs his nose along mine. УGood surprise?Ф he whispers, and thereТs a hint of anxiety in his voice. УOh, Christian, fantastic surprise.Ф I run my hands up his chest, curl them around his neck, and kiss him. УWhen did you organize this?Ф I ask when I pull away from him, stroking his hair. УLast night, when I couldnТt sleep. I e-‐mailed Elliot and Mia, and here they are. Ф УItТs very thoughtful. Thank you. IТm sure weТll have a great time.Ф УI hope so. I thought it would be easier to avoid the press in Aspen than at home. Ф
The paparazzi! HeТs right. If weТd stayed in Escala, weТd have been imprisoned. A shiver runs down my spine as I recollect the snapping cameras and dazzling flashes of the few photographers Taylor sped through this morning. УCome. WeТd better take our seats-‐Stephan will be taking off shortly.Ф He offers me his hand and together we walk back into the cabin. Elliot cheers as we enter.УThat sure was speedy in-‐flight service!Ф he calls mockingly. Christian ignores him. УPlease be seated, ladies and gentlemen as weТll shortly begin taxiing for takeoff.Ф StephanТs voice echoes calmly and authoritatively around the cabin. The brunette woman-‐umЕ Natalie?-‐who was on the flight for our wedding night appears from the galley and gathers up the discarded coffee cups.NataliaЕ Her nameТs Natalia. УGood morning Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey,Ф she says with a purr. Why does she make me uncomfortable? Maybe itТs that sheТs a brunette. By his own admission, Christian doesnТt usually employ brunettes because he finds them attractive. He gives Natalia a polite smile as he slides in behind the table and sits down facing Elliot and Kate. I swiftly hug Kate and Mia and give Ethan and Elliot a wave before sitting down and buckling up beside Christian. He puts his hand on my knee and gives it an affectionate squeeze. He seems relaxed and happy even though weТre with company. Idly, I wonder whyhe canТt always be like this-‐not controlling at all. УHope you packed your hiking boots,Ф he says, his voice warm. УWeТre not going skiing?Ф УThat would be a challenge, in August,Ф he says, amused. Oh, of course. УDo you ski, Ana?Ф Elliot interrupts us. УNo.Ф Christian moves his hand from my knee to clasp my hand. УIТm sure my little brother can teach you.Ф Elliot winks at me. УHeТs pretty fast on the slopes, too.Ф And I canТt help my blush. When I glance up at Christian, heТs gazing impassively at Elliot, but I think heТs trying to suppress his mirth. The plane surges forward and starts taxiing toward the runway. Natalia runs through the planeТs safety procedures in a clear, ringing voice. SheТ s dressed in a neat navy short-‐sleeved shirt and matching pencil skirt. Her makeup is immaculate-‐she really is quite pretty. My subconscious raises a plucked-‐to-‐within-‐an-‐inch-‐ of-‐its-‐life eyebrow at me. УYou okay?Ф Kate asks me pointedly. УI mean, following the Hyde business?Ф I nod. I donТt want to think or talk about Hyde, but Kate seems to have other plans. УSo why did he go postal?Ф she asks, cutting to the heart of the matter in her inimitable style. She tosses her hair behind her as she prepares to investigate the matter. Eyeing her coolly, Christian shrugs.УI fired his ass,Ф he says bluntly. УOh? Why?Ф Kate tilts her head to one side, and I know sheТs in full Nancy Drew mode. УHe made at pass at me,Ф I mutter. I try to kick KateТs ankle beneath the table, and miss. Shit! УWhen?Ф Kate glares at me. УAges ago.Ф
УYou never told me he made a pass at you!Ф she splutters. I shrug, apologetically. УIt canТt just be a grudge about that, surely. I mean his reaction is way too extreme,Ф Kate continues, but now she directs her questions at Christian. УIs he mentally unstable? What about all the information he has on you Greys?Ф Her grilling Christian this way makes my hackles rise, butsheТs already established I know nothing so she canТt ask me. The thought is annoying. УWe think thereТs a connection with Detroit,Ф Christian says mildly. Too mildly.Oh no, Kate, please give it up for now. УHyde is from Detroit, too?Ф Christian nods. The plane accelerates, and I tighten my grip on ChristianТs hand. He glances at me reassuringly. He knows I hate takeoffs and landings. He squeezes my hand and his thumb strokes my knuckles, calming me. УWhatdo you know about him?Ф Elliot asks, oblivious to the fact we are hurtling down the runway in a small jet about to launch itself into the sky, and equally oblivious to ChristianТs growing exasperation with Kate. Kate leans forward, listening attentively. УThis is off the record,Ф Christian says directly to her. KateТs mouth sets in a subtle but thin line. I swallow.Oh shit. УWe know a little about him,Ф Christian continues. УHis dad died in a brawl in a bar. His mother drank herself into oblivion. He was in and out of foster homes as a kidЕ in and out of trouble, too. Mainly boosting cars. Spent time in juvie. His mom got back on track through some outreach program, and Hyde turned himself around. Won a scholarship to Princeton.Ф УPrinceton?Ф KateТs curiosity is piqued. УYep. HeТs a bright boy.Ф Christian shrugs. УNot that bright. He got caught,Ф Elliot mutters. УBut surely he canТt have pulled this stunt alone?Ф Kate asks. Christian stiffens beside me.УWe donТt know yet.Ф His voice is very quiet.Holy crap. There could be someone working with him? I turn and gape in horror at Christian. He squeezes my hand once more but doesnТt look me in the eye. The plane lifts smoothly into the air, and I get that horrible sinking feeling in my stomach. УHow old is he?Ф I ask Christian, leaning close so only he can hear. Much as IТd like to know whatТs going on, I donТt want to encourage KateТs questions. I know they Тre irritating Christian, and IТm sure sheТs on his shit list since Cocktailgate. УThirty-‐two. Why?Ф УCurious, thatТs all.Ф ChristianТs jaw tightens. УDonТt be curious about Hyde. IТm just glad the fuckerТs locked up.Ф ItТs almost a reprimand, but I choose to ignore his tone. УDoyou think heТs working with someone?Ф The thought that someone else might be involved makes me sick. It would mean this isnТt over. УI donТt know,Ф Christian answers, and his jaw tightens once more. УMaybe someone who has a grudge against you?Ф I suggest. Holy shit. I hope itТ s not the bitch troll. УLike Elena?Ф I whisper. I realize IТve muttered her name out loud, but only he can hear. I glance anxiously at Kate, but sheТs deep in conversation with Elliot who looks pissed at her. Hmm.
УYou do like to demonize her, donТt you?Ф Christian rolls his eyes and shakes his head in disgust. УShe may hold a grudge, but she wouldnТt do this kind of thing.Ф He pins me with a steady gray gaze. УLetТs not discuss her. I know sheТs not your favorite topic of conversation.Ф УHave you confronted her?Ф I whisper, not sure if I really want to know. УAna, I havenТt spoken to her since my birthday party. Please, drop it. I donТt want to talk about her.Ф He raises my hand and brushes my knuckles with his lips. His eyes burn into mine, and I know I shouldnТt pursue this line of questioning right now. УGet a room,Ф Elliot teases. УOh right-‐you already have, but you didnТt need it for long.Ф He smirks. Christian glances up and pins Elliot with a cool glare.УFuck off, Elliot,Ф he says without malice. УDude, just telling you how it is.Ф ElliotТs eyes light up with mirth. УLike youТd know,Ф Christian murmurs sardonically, raising an eyebrow. Elliot grins, enjoying the banter.УYou married your first girlfriend.Ф Elliot gestures at me. Oh shit. Where is this going? I flush. УCan you blame me?Ф Christian kisses my hand again. УNo.Ф Elliot laughs and shakes his head. I flush, and Kate slaps ElliotТs thigh. УStop being an ass,Ф she scolds him. УListen to your girlfriend,Ф Christian says to Elliot, grinning, and his earlier concern seems to have disappeared. My ears pop as we gain altitude, and the tension in the cabin dissipates as the plane levels out. Kate scowls at Elliot. HmmЕ is something up between them? IТm not sure. Elliot is right. I snort at the irony. I am-‐was-‐ChristianТs first girlfriend, and now I Тm his wife. The fifteen and the evil Mrs. Robinson-‐they donТt count. But then Elliot doesnТt know about them, and clearly Kate hasnТt told him. I smile at her, and she gives me a conspiratorial wink. My secrets are safe with Kate. УOkay, ladies and gentlemen, weТll be cruising at an altitude of approximately thirty-‐two thousand feet, and our estimated flight time is one hour and fifty-‐six minutes,Ф Stephan announces. УYou are now free to move around the cabin.Ф Natalia appears abruptly from the galley. УMay I offer anyone coffee?Ф she asks. 13 [ артинка: pic_92.jpg] We land smoothly at Sardy Field at 12:25 p.m. (MST). Stephan brings the plane to a halt a little way from the main terminal, and through the windows I spot a large VW minivan waiting for us. УGood landing.Ф Christian grins and shakes StephanТs hand as we get ready to file out of the jet. УItТs all about the density altitude, sir.Ф Stephan smiles back. УBeighley here is good at math.Ф Christian nods at StephanТs first officer. УYou nailed it, Beighley. Smooth landing.Ф УThank you, sir.Ф She grins smugly.
УEnjoy your weekend, Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey. WeТll see you tomorrow.Ф Stephan steps aside to let us disembark and taking my hand, Christian leads me down the aircraft steps to where Taylor is waiting by the vehicle. УMinivan?Ф says Christian in surprise as Taylor slides open the door. Taylor gives him a tight, contrite smile and a slight shrug. УLast minute, I know,Ф Christian says, immediately placated. Taylor returns to the plane to retrieve our luggage. УWant to make out in the back of the van?Ф Christian murmurs to me, a mischievous gleam in his eye. I giggle. Who is this man, and what has he done with Mr. Unbelievably Angry of the last couple of days? УCome on, you two. Get in,Ф Mia says from behind us, oozing impatience beside Ethan. We climb in, stagger to the double seat at the back, and sit down. I snuggle against Christian, and he puts his arm around the back of my seat. УComfortable?Ф he murmurs as Mia and Ethan take the seat in front of us. УYes.Ф I smile and he kisses my forehead. And for some unfathomable reason I feel shy with him today.Why? Last night? Being with company? I canТt put my finger on it. Elliot and Kate join us last as Taylor opens the liftgate to load the luggage. Five minutes later, we are on our way. I gaze out the window as we head toward Aspen. The trees are green, but a whisper of the coming fall is evident here and there in the yellowing tips of the leaves. The sky is a clear crystal blue, though there are darkening clouds to the west. All around us in the distance loom the Rockies, the highest peak directly ahead. TheyТre lush and green, and the highest are capped with snow and look like a childТs drawing of mountains. WeТre in the winter playground of the rich and famous.And I own a house here. I can barely believe it. And from deep within my psyche, the familiar unease thatТs always present when I try to wrap my head around ChristianТs wealth looms and taunts me, making me feel guilty. What have I done to deserve this lifestyle? IТve done nothing, nothing except fall in love. УHave you been to Aspen before, Ana?Ф Ethan turns and asks, dragging me out of my reverie. УNo, first time. You?Ф УKate and I used to come here a lot when we were teens. DadТs a keen skier. Mom less so.Ф УIТm hoping my husband will teach me how to ski.Ф I glance up at my man. УDonТt bet on it,Ф Christian mutters. УI wonТt be that bad!Ф УYou might break your neck.Ф His grin gone. Oh. I donТt want to argue and sour his good mood, so I change the subject. УHow long have you had this place?Ф УNearly two years. ItТs yours now, too, Mrs. Grey,Ф he says softly. УI know,Ф I whisper. But somehow I donТt feel the courage of my convictions. Leaning in, I kiss his jaw and nestle once more at his side listening to him laugh and joke with Ethan and Elliot. Mia chimes in occasionally, but Kate is quiet, and I wonder if sheТs brooding about Jack Hyde or something else. Then I remember. AspenЕ ChristianТs house here was redesigned by Gia Matteo and rebuilt by Elliot. I wonder if thatТs whatТs preoccupying Kate. I canТt ask her in front of Elliot, given his history with Gia. Does Kate
even know about GiaТs connection to the house? I frown wondering what could be bothering her and resolve to ask her when weТre on our own. We drive through the center of Aspen and my mood brightens as I take in the town. There are squat buildings of mostly red brick, Swiss-‐style chalets, and numerous little turn of the century houses painted in fun colors. Plenty of banks and designer shops, too, betraying the affluence of the local populace. Of course Christian fits in here. УWhy did you choose Aspen?Ф I ask him. УWhat?Ф He regards me quizzically. УTo buy a place.Ф УMom and Dad used to bring us here when we were kids. I learned to ski here, and I like the place. I hope you do, too-‐otherwise weТll sell the house and choose somewhere else.Ф Simple as that! He tucks a loose strand of my hair behind my ear.УYou look lovely today,Ф he murmurs. My cheeks heat. IТm just wearing my travelling gear: jeans and a T-‐shirt with a lightweight navy blue jacket.Damn it. Why does he make me feel shy? He kisses me, a tender, sweet, loving kiss. Taylor drives us on out of town, and we start to climb the other side of the valley, twisting along a mountain road. The higher we go, the more excited I get, and Christian tenses beside me. УWhatТs wrong?Ф I ask as we round a bend. УI hope you like it,Ф he says quietly. УWeТre here.Ф Taylor slows and turns through a gateway made of gray, beige, and red stones. He heads down the driveway and finally pulls up outside the impressive house. Double fronted with high-‐pitched roofs and built of dark wood and the same mixed stone as the gateway. It Тs stunning-‐modern and stark, very much ChristianТs style. УHome,Ф he mouths at me as our guests start piling out of the van. УLooks good.Ф УCome. See,Ф he says, an excited, though anxious, gleam in his eyes as if heТs about to show me his science project or something. Mia runs up the steps to where a woman stands in the doorway. SheТs tiny and her raven-‐colored hair is dusted with gray. Mia flings her arms around her neck and hugs her tightly. УWhoТs that?Ф I ask as Christian helps me out of the van. УMrs. Bentley. She lives here with her husband. They look after the place.Ф Holy cowЕ more staff? Mia is making introductions-‐Ethan, then Kate. Elliot hugs Mrs. Bentley, too. As Taylor unloads the van, Christian takes my hand and leads me to the front door. УWelcome back, Mr. Grey.Ф Mrs. Bentley smiles. УCarmella, this is my wife, Anastasia,Ф Christian says proudly. His tongue caresses my name, making my heart stutter. УMrs. Grey,Ф Mrs. Bentley nods a respectful greeting. I hold out my hand and we shake. ItТs no surprise to me that sheТs much more formal with Christian than the rest of the family. УI hope youТve had a pleasant flight. The weather is supposed to be fine all weekend, though IТm not sure.Ф She eyes the darkening gray clouds behind us. УLunch
is ready whenever you want.Ф She smiles again, her dark eyes twinkling, and I warm to her immediately. УHere.Ф Christian grabs me and lifts me off my feet. УWhat are you doing?Ф I squeal. УCarrying you over yet another threshold, Mrs. Grey.Ф I grin as he carries me into the wide hallway, and after a brief kiss, he sets me gently down onto the hardwood floor. The interior d?cor is stark and reminds me of the great room at Escala-‐all white walls, dark wood, and contemporary abstract art. The hallway opens up into a large sitting area where three off-‐white leather couches surround a stone fireplace that dominates the room. The only color is from the soft cushions scattered on the couches. Mia grabs EthanТs hand and drags him farther into the house. Christian narrows his eyes at their departing figures, his mouth thinning. He shakes his head then turns to me. Kate whistles loudly.УNice place.Ф I glance around to see Elliot helping Taylor with our luggage. I wonder again if she knows that Gia had a hand in this place. УTour?Ф Christian asks me, and whatever was going through his mind about Mia and Ethan has gone. HeТs radiating excitement-‐or is it anxiety? ItТs difficult to tell. УSure.Ф Once again IТm overwhelmed by the wealth. How much did this place cost? And I have contributed nothing to it. Briefly IТm transported back to the first time Christian took me to Escala. I was overwhelmed then.You got used to it, my subconscious hisses at me. Christian frowns but takes my hand, leading me through the various rooms. The state-‐of-‐the-‐art kitchen is all pale marble countertops and black cupboards. ThereТs an impressive wine cellar, and an expansive den downstairs, complete with large plasma screen, soft couchesЕ and a billiard table. I gape at it and blush when Christian catches me. УFancy a game?Ф he asks, a wicked gleam in his eye. I shake my head, and his brow furrows once more. Taking my hand again, he leads me up to the first floor. There are four bedrooms upstairs, each with an en suite bathroom. The master suite is something else. The bed is huge, bigger than the bed at home, and faces an enormous picture window looking out over Aspen and toward the verdant mountains. УThatТs Ajax MountainЕ or Aspen Mountain, if you like,Ф Christian says, eyeing me warily. HeТs standing in the doorway, his thumbs hooked through the belt loops on his black jeans. I nod. УYouТre very quiet,Ф he murmurs. УItТs lovely, Christian.Ф And suddenly IТm aching to be back at Escala. In five long strides heТs standing in front of me, tugging at my chin, and releasing my lower lip from the grip of my teeth. УWhat is it?Ф he asks, his eyes searching mine. УYouТre very rich.Ф УYes.Ф УSometimes, it just takes me by surprise how wealthy you are.Ф УWe are.Ф УWe are,Ф I mutter automatically. УDonТt stress about this, Ana, please. ItТs just a house.Ф УAnd what did Gia do here, exactly?Ф
УGia?Ф He raises his eyebrows in surprise. УYes. She remodeled this place?Ф УShe did. She designed the den downstairs. Elliot did the build.Ф He rakes his hand through his hair and frowns at me. УWhy are we talking about Gia?Ф УDid you know she had a fling with Elliot?Ф Christian gazes at me for a moment, gray eyes unreadable.УElliotТs fucked most of Seattle, Ana.Ф I gasp. УMainly women, I understand,Ф Christian jokes. I think heТs amused by my expression. УNo!Ф Christian nods.УItТs none of my business.Ф He holds his palms up. УI donТt think Kate knows.Ф УIТm not sure he broadcasts that information. Kate seems to be holding her own. Ф IТm shocked. Sweet, unassuming, blond, blue-‐eyed Elliot? I stare in disbelief. Christian tilts his head to one side, scrutinizing me.УThis canТt just be about Gia or ElliotТs promiscuity.Ф УI know. IТm sorry. After all thatТs happened this week, itТs justЕФ I shrug, feeling tearful all of a sudden. Christian seems to sag with relief. Pulling me into his arms, he holds me tightly, his nose in my hair. УI know. IТm sorry, too. LetТs relax and enjoy ourselves, okay? You can stay here and read, watch god-‐awful TV, shop, go hiking-‐fishing even. Whatever you want to do. And forget what I said about Elliot. That was indiscreet of me.Ф УGoes some way to explain why heТs always teasing you,Ф I murmur, nuzzling his chest. УHe really has no idea about my past. I told you, my family assumed I was gay. Celibate, but gay.Ф I giggle and begin to relax in his arms.УI thought you were celibate. How wrong I was.Ф I wrap my arms around him, marveling at the ridiculousness of Christian being gay. УMrs. Grey, are you smirking at me?Ф УMaybe a little.Ф I acquiesce. УYou know, what I donТt understand is why you have this place?Ф УWhat do you mean?Ф He kisses my hair. УYou have the boat, which I get, you have the place in New York for business-‐but why here? ItТs not like you shared it with anyone.Ф Christian stills and is silent for several beats.УI was waiting for you,Ф he says softly, his eyes dark gray and luminous. УThatТsЕ thatТs such a lovely thing to say.Ф УItТs true. I didnТt know it at the time.Ф He smiles his shy smile. УIТm glad you waited.Ф УYou are worth waiting for, Mrs. Grey.Ф He tips my chin up with his finger, leans down, and kisses me tenderly. УSo are you.Ф I smile. УThough I feel I like I cheated. I didnТt have to wait long for you at all.Ф He grins.УAm I that much of a prize?Ф
УChristian, you are the state lottery, the cure for cancer, and the three wishes from AladdinТs lamp all rolled into one.Ф He raises a brow. УWhen will you realize this?Ф I scold him. УYou were a very eligible bachelor. And I donТt mean all this.Ф I wave dismissingly at our plush surroundings. УI mean in here.Ф I place my hand over his heart, and his eyes widen. My confident, sexy husband has gone, and IТm facing my lostboy. УBelieve me, Christian, please,Ф I whisper and clasp his face, pulling his lips to mine. He groans, and I donТt know if itТs hearing what IТve said or his usual primal response. I claim him, my lips moving against his, my tongue invading his mouth. When weТre both breathless, he pulls away, eyeing me doubtfully. УWhen are you going to get it through your exceptionally thick skull that I love you?Ф I ask, exasperated. He swallows.УOne day,Ф he says. This is progress. I smile and am rewarded with his answering shy smile. УCome. LetТs have some lunch-‐the others will be wondering where we are. We can discuss what we all want to do.Ф УOh no!Ф Kate says suddenly. All eyes turn to her. УLook,Ф she says, pointing to the picture window. Outside, rain has started pouring down. We are sitting around the dark wood table in the kitchen having consumed an Italian feast of a mixed antipasto, prepared by Mrs. Bentley, and a bottle or two of Frascati. IТm replete and a little buzzed from the alcohol. УThere goes our hike,Ф Elliot mutters, sounding vaguely relieved. Kate scowls at him. Something is definitely up with them. They have been relaxed with all of us but not with each other. УWe could go into town,Ф Mia pipes up. Ethan smirks at her. УPerfect weather for fishing,Ф Christian suggests. УIТll go fish,Ф Ethan says. УLetТs split up.Ф Mia claps her hands. УGirls, shopping-‐boys, outdoor boring stuff.Ф I glance at Kate, who regards Mia indulgently. Fishing or shopping? Jeez, what a choice. УAna, what do you want to do?Ф Christian asks. УI donТt mind,Ф I lie. Kate catches my eye and mouthsУshopping.Ф Perhaps she wants to talk. УBut IТm more than happy to go shopping.Ф I smile wryly at Kate and Mia. Christian smirks. He knows I hate shopping. УI can stay here with you, if youТd like,Ф he murmurs, and something dark unfurls in my belly at his tone. УNo, you go fish,Ф I answer. Christian needs boy time. УSounds like a plan,Ф Kate says, rising from the table. УTaylor will accompany you,Ф Christian says, and itТs a given-‐not up for discussion. УWe donТt need babysitting,Ф Kate retorts bluntly, direct as ever. I put my hand on KateТs arm. УKate, Taylor should come.Ф She frowns, then shrugs, and for once in her life holds her tongue.
I smile timidly at Christian. His expression remains impassive. Oh, I hope heТs not mad at Kate. Elliot frowns.УI need to pick up a battery for my watch in town.Ф He glances quickly at Kate, and I spot his slight blush. She doesnТt notice because she is pointedly ignoring him. УTake the Audi, Elliot. When you come back we can go fishing,Ф Christian says. УYeah,Ф Elliot mutters, but he seems distracted. УGood plan.Ф УIn here.Ф Grabbing my hand, Mia hauls me into a designer boutique thatТs all pink silk and faux-‐French distressed rustic furniture. Kate follows us while Taylor waits outside, sheltering under the awning from the rain. Aretha is belting out УSay A Little PrayerФ over the storeТs hi-‐fi system. I love this song. I should put it on ChristianТs iPod. УThis will look wonderful on you, Ana.Ф Mia holds up a scrap of silver material. УHere, try it on.Ф УUmЕ itТs a bit short.Ф УYouТll look fantastic in it. Christian will love it.Ф УYou think?Ф Mia beams at me.УAna, you have legs to die for, and if we go clubbing tonightФ-‐ she smiles, sensing an easy kill-‐УyouТll look hot for your husband.Ф I blink at her, slightly shocked. WeТre goingclubbing? I donТt do clubbing. Kate laughs at my expression. She seems more relaxed now that sheТs away from Elliot. УWe should throw some shapes this evening,Ф she says. УGo try it on,Ф Mia orders, and reluctantly I head for the changing room. While I wait for Kate and Mia to emerge from the dressing room, I stroll to the shop window and look out, unseeing, across the main street. The soul compilation continues: Dionne Warwick is singingУWalk On By.Ф Another great song-‐one of my motherТs favorites. I glance down at The Dress in my hand.Dress is perhaps an overstatement. ItТs backless and very short, but Mia has declared it a winner, perfect for dancing the night away. Apparently, I need shoes, too, and a large chunky necklace, which weТll source next. Rolling my eyes, I reflect once more on how lucky I am to have Caroline Acton, my own personal shopper. Through the boutique window IТm distracted by the sight of Elliot. He has appeared on the other side of the leafy main street, climbing out of a large Audi. He dives into a store as if to duck out of the rain. Looks like a jewelry storeЕ maybe heТs looking for that watch battery. He emerges a few minutes later and not alone-‐with a woman. Fuck! HeТs talking to Gia!What the hell is she doing here? As I watch, they hug briefly and she holds her head back, laughing animatedly at something he says. He kisses her cheek then runs to the waiting car. She turns and heads down the street, and I gape after her.What was that about? I turn anxiously toward the dressing rooms, but thereТs still no sign of Kate or Mia. I glance at Taylor, where heТs waiting outside the store. He catches my eye then shrugs. HeТs witnessed ElliotТs little encounter, too. I blush, embarrassed to have been caught snooping. Turning back, Mia and Kate emerge, both of them laughing. Kate looks at me quizzically. УWhatТs wrong, Ana?Ф she asks. УYou gone cold on the dress? You look sensational in it.Ф УUm, no.Ф УAre you okay?Ф KateТs eyes widen.
УIТm fine. Shall we pay?Ф I head to the cashier joining Mia who has chosen two skirts. УGood afternoon, maТam.Ф The young sales assistant-‐who has more gloss coating her lips than I have ever seen in one place-‐smiles at me. УThatТll be eight hundred and fifty dollars.Ф What? For this scrap of material! I blink at her and meekly hand over my black Amex. УMrs. Grey,Ф Ms. Lip Gloss purrs. I follow Kate and Mia in a daze for the next two hours, warring with myself. Should I tell Kate? My subconscious firmly shakes her head. Yes, I should tell her. No, I shouldnТt. It could just have been an innocent meeting.Shit. What should I do? УWell, do you like the shoes, Ana?Ф Mia has her fists on her hips. УUmЕ yeah, sure.Ф I end up with a pair of unfeasibly high Manolo Blahniks with straps that look like they are made from mirrors. They match the dress perfectly and set Christian back just over a thousand dollars. IТm luckier with the long silver chain that Kate insists I buy; itТs a bargain at eighty-‐four dollars. УGetting used to having money?Ф Kate asks not unkindly as we walk back to the car. Mia has skipped ahead. УYou know this isnТt me, Kate. IТm kind of uncomfortable about all this. But IТ m reliably informed itТs part of the package.Ф I purse my lips at her, and she puts her arm around me. УYouТll get used to it, Ana,Ф she says sympathetically. УYouТll look great.Ф УKate, how are you and Elliot getting along?Ф I ask. Her wide blue eyes dart to mine. Oh no. She shakes her head.УI donТt want to talk about it now.Ф She nods toward Mia. УBut things are-‐Ф She doesnТt finish her sentence. This is unlike my tenacious Kate.Shit. I knew something was up. Do I tell her what I saw? What did I see? Elliot and Miss Well-‐Groomed-‐Sexual-‐Predator talking, hugging, and that kiss on the cheek. Surely they are just old friends? No, I wonТt tell her. Not right now. I give her my I-‐completely-‐understand-‐and-‐will-‐respect-‐your-‐privacy nod. She reaches for my hand and gives it a grateful squeeze, and there it is-‐a swift glimpse of pain and hurt in her eyes that she quickly stifles with a blink. I feel a sudden surge of protectivenessfor my dear friend. What the hell is Elliot Manwhore Grey playing at? Once back at the house, Kate decides we deserve cocktails after our shopping extravaganza and whips up some strawberry daiquiris for us. We curl up on the sitting room couches in front of the blazing log fire. УElliot has just been a little distant lately,Ф Kate murmurs, gazing into the flames. Kate and I finally have a moment to ourselves as Mia puts away her purchases.УOh?Ф УAnd I think IТm in trouble for getting you into trouble.Ф УYou heard about that?Ф УYes. Christian called Elliot; Elliot called me.Ф I roll my eyes.Oh, Fifty, Fifty, Fifty. УIТm sorry. Christian isЕ protective. You havenТt seen Elliot since cocktailgate?Ф УNo.Ф УOh.Ф
УI really like him, Ana,Ф she whispers. And for one dreadful minute I think sheТ s going to cry. This is not like Kate. Does this mean the return of the pink pajamas? She turns to me. УIТve fallen in love with him. At first I thought it was just the great sex. But heТ s charming and kind and warm and funny. I could see us growing old together-‐you knowЕ kids, grandkids-‐the works.Ф УYour happily ever after,Ф I whisper. She nods sadly. УMaybe you should talk to him. Try to find some alone time here. Find out whatТ s eating him.Ф WhoТs eating him, my subconscious snarls. I slap her down, shocked at the waywardness of my own thoughts. УPerhaps you guys could go for a walk tomorrow morning?Ф УWeТll see.Ф УKate, I hate seeing you like this.Ф She smiles weakly, and I lean over to hug her. I resolve not to mention Gia, though I might mention it to the manwhore himself. How can he mess with my friendТs affections like this? Mia returns, and we move on to safer territory. The fire hisses and spits sparks on to the hearth as I feed it the last log. WeТre almost out of wood. Even though itТs summer, the fire is very welcome on this wet day. УMia, do you know where the wood for the fire is kept?Ф I ask as she sips her daiquiri. УI think itТs in the garage.Ф УIТll go find some. ItТll give me an opportunity to explore.Ф The rain has eased off when I venture outside and head to the three-‐car garage adjoining the house. The side door is unlocked and I enter, switching on the light to fight the gloom. The fluorescent strips ping noisily to life. ThereТs a car in the garage, and I realize itТs the Audi I saw Elliot in this afternoon. There are also two snowmobiles. But what really grabs my attention are the two trail bikes, both 125cc. Memories of Ethan bravely endeavoring to teach me how to ride last summer flash through my mind. Unconsciously, I rub my arm where I badly bruised it in a fall. УYou ride?Ф Elliot asks from behind me. I whirl around.УYouТre back.Ф УIt would appear so.Ф He grins, and I realize that Christian might say the same thing to me-‐but without the huge, heart-‐melting grin. УWell?Ф he asks. Manwhore!УSort of.Ф УDo you want a go?Ф I snort.УUm, noЕ I donТt think Christian would be very happy if I did.Ф УChristianТs not here.Ф Elliot smirks-‐oh, itТs a family trait-‐and waves his arm to indicate weТre alone. He strolls toward the nearest bike and swings a long denim-‐clad leg over the saddle, sitting astride and grabbing the handlebars. УChristian has, umЕ issues about my safety. I shouldnТt.Ф УYou always do what he says?Ф Elliot has a wicked sparkle in his baby-‐blue eyes, and I see a glimmer of the bad boyЕ the bad boy Kate has fallen in love with. The bad boy from Detroit.
УNo.Ф I arch an admonishing brow at him. УBut IТm trying to put that right. He has enough to worry about without adding me to the mix. Is he back?Ф УI donТt know.Ф УYou didnТt go fishing?Ф Elliot shakes his head.УI had some business to deal with in town.Ф Business! Holy shit-‐groomed blonde business! I inhale sharply and gape at him. УIf you donТt want to ride, what are you doing in the garage?Ф Elliot is intrigued. УIТm looking for wood for the fire.Ф УThere you are. Oh, Elliot-‐youТre back.Ф Kate interrupts us. УHey, baby.Ф He smiles broadly. УCatch anything?Ф I scrutinize ElliotТs reaction. УNo. I had a few things to take care of in town.Ф And for one brief moment, I see a flash of uncertainty cross his face. Oh shit. УI came out to see what was keeping Ana.Ф Kate looks at us, confused. УWe were just shooting the breeze,Ф Elliot says, and the tension crackles between them. We all pause as we hear a car pull up outside.Oh! ChristianТs back. Thank heavens. The garage door opener whirrs loudly into action, startling us all, and the door slowly lifts to reveal Christian and Ethan unloading a black flatbed truck. Christian stops when he sees us standing in the garage. УGarage band?Ф he asks sardonically as he wanders in, heading straight for me. I grin. I am relieved to see him. Beneath his wading jacket, heТs wearing the coveralls I sold him at Claytons. УHi,Ф he says looking quizzically at me, ignoring both Kate and Elliot. УHi. Nice coveralls.Ф УLots of pockets. Very handy for fishing.Ф His voice is soft and seductive, for my ears only, and when he gazes down at me, his expression is hot. I flush, and he smiles a huge, no-‐holds-‐barred, all-‐for-‐me smile. УYouТre wet,Ф I murmur. УIt was raining. What are you guys doing in the garage?Ф Finally he acknowledges that we are not alone. УAna came to fetch some wood,Ф Elliot smirks. Somehow he manages to make that sentence sound smutty. УI tried to tempt her to take a ride.Ф He is master of the double entendre. ChristianТs face falls, and my heart stills. УShe said no. That you wouldnТt like it,Ф Elliot says kindly-‐and innuendo-‐free. ChristianТs gray gaze swings back to me. УDid she, now?Ф he murmurs. УListen, IТm all for standing around discussing what Ana did next, but shall we go back inside?Ф Kate snaps. She stoops down, snatches up two logs, and turns on her heel, stomping toward the door. Oh shit. Kate is mad-‐but I know itТs not at me. Elliot sighs and, without a word, follows her out. I gaze after them, but Christian distracts me. УYou can ride a motorcycle?Ф he asks, his voice laced with disbelief. УNot very well. Ethan taught me.Ф His eyes frost immediately.УYou made the right decision,Ф he says, his voice much cooler. УThe groundТs very hard at the moment, and the rainТs made it treacherous and slippery.Ф
УWhere do you want the fishing gear?Ф Ethan calls from outside. УLeave it, Ethan-‐Taylor will take care of it.Ф УWhat about the fish?Ф Ethan continues, his voice vaguely taunting. УYou caught a fish?Ф I ask, surprised. УNot me. Kavanagh did.Ф And Christian poutsЕ prettily. I burst out laughing. УMrs. Bentley will deal with that,Ф he calls back. Ethan grins and heads into the house. УAm I amusing you, Mrs. Grey?Ф УVery much so. YouТre wetЕ Let me run you a bath.Ф УAs long as you join me.Ф He leans down and kisses me. I fill the large egg-‐shaped tub in the en suite bathroom and pour in some expensive bath oil, which starts to foam immediately. The aroma is heavenlyЕ jasmine, I think. Back in the bedroom, I start to hang The Dress while the bath fills. УDid you have a good time?Ф Christian asks as he enters the room. HeТs just in a T-‐shirt and sweat pants, his feet bare. He closes the door behind him. УYes,Ф I murmur, drinking him in. I have missed him. Ridiculous-‐itТs only been what, a few hours? He cocks his head to one side and gazes at me.УWhat is it?Ф УI was thinking how much IТve missed you.Ф УYou sound like you have it bad, Mrs. Grey.Ф УI have, Mr. Grey.Ф He strolls toward me until heТs standing in front of me. УWhat did you buy?Ф he whispers, and I know itТs to change the topic of conversation. УA dress, some shoes, a necklace. I spent a great deal of your money.Ф I glance up at him, guiltily. HeТs amused. УGood,Ф he murmurs and tucks a stray lock of my hair behind my ear. УAnd for the billionth time, our money.Ф He tugs my chin, releasing my lip from my teeth and runs his index finger down the front of my T-‐shirt, down my sternum, between my breasts, down my stomach, and over mybelly to the hem. УYou wonТt be needing this in the bath,Ф he whispers, and gripping the hem of my T-‐shirt in both hands, slowly pulls it up. УLift your arms.Ф I comply, not taking my eyes off his, and he drops my T-‐shirt on the floor. УI thought we were just having a bath.Ф My pulse quickens. УI want to make you good and dirty first. IТve missed you, too.Ф He leans down and kisses me. УShit, the water!Ф I struggle to sit up, all post-‐orgasmic and dazed. Christian doesnТt release me. УChristian, the bath!Ф I gaze down at him from my prone position across his chest. He laughs.УRelax-‐itТs a wet room.Ф He rolls over and kisses me quickly. УIТll switch off the faucet.Ф He climbs gracefully off the bed and strolls into the bathroom. My eyes greedily follow him all the way. HmmЕ my husband, naked and soon to be wet. My inner goddess licks her lips salaciously and gives me her well-‐fucked grin. I bound out of bed. We sit at opposite ends of the bath, which is very full-‐so full that whenever we move, water laps over the side and splashes to the floor. ItТs very decadent. Even more
decadent is Christian washing my feet, massaging the soles, pulling gently on my toes. He kisses each one and gently bites my little toe. УAaah!Ф I feel it-‐there, in my groin. УLike that?Ф he breathes. УHmm,Ф I mumble incoherently. He starts massaging again. Oh, this feels good. I close my eyes. УI saw Gia in town,Ф I murmur. УReally? I think she has a place here,Ф he says dismissively. HeТs not interested in the slightest. УShe was with Elliot.Ф Christian stops massaging. That got his attention. When I open my eyes his head is inclined to one side, like he doesnТt understand. УWhat do you mean with Elliot?Ф he asks, perplexed rather than concerned. I explain what I saw. УAna, theyТre just friends. I think Elliot is pretty stuck on Kate.Ф He pauses then adds more quietly. УIn fact Iknow heТs pretty stuck on her.Ф And he gives me his I-‐have-‐ no-‐idea-‐why look. УKate is gorgeous.Ф I bristle, championing my friend. He snorts.УStill glad it was you that fell into my office.Ф He kisses my big toe, releases my left foot, and picks up my right before beginning the massage process again. His fingers are so strong and supple, I relax again. I do not want to fight about Kate. I close my eyes and let his fingers work theirmagic on my feet. I gape at myself in the full-‐length mirror, not recognizing the vixen that stares back at me. Kate has gone all out and played Barbie with me this evening, styling my hair and makeup. My hair is full and straight, my eyes ringed with kohl, my lips scarlet red. I lookЕ hot. IТm all legs, especially in the high-‐heeled Manolos and my indecently short dress. I need Christian to approve, though I have a horrible feeling he wonТt like so much of my flesh exposed. In view of ourentente cordiale, I decide I should ask him. I pick up my BlackBerry. [ артинка: pic_93.jpg] From: Anastasia Grey Subject: Does My Butt Look Big In This? Date: August 27, 2011 18:53 MST To: Christian Grey Mr. Grey I need your sartorial advice. Yours Mrs. G x [ артинка: pic_94.jpg] From: Christian Grey Subject: Peachy Date: August 27, 2011 18:55 MST To: Anastasia Grey Mrs. Grey I seriously doubt it. But I will come and give your butt a thorough examination just to make sure. Yours in anticipation Mr. G x Christian Grey, CEO Grey Enterprises Holdings and Butt Inspectorate Inc.
As I read his e-‐mail, the bedroom door opens, and Christian freezes on the threshold. His mouth pops open and his eyes widen. Holy crapЕ this could go either way. УWell?Ф I whisper. УAna, you lookЕ Wow.Ф УYou like it?Ф УYes, I guess so.Ф HeТs a little hoarse. Slowly he steps into the room and closes the door. HeТs wearing black jeans and a white shirt, but with a black jacket. He looks divine. He stalks slowly toward me, but as soon as he reaches me, he puts his hands on my shoulders and turns me around to face the full-‐length mirror, while he stands behind me. My gaze finds his in the glass, then he glances down, fascinated by my naked back. His finger glides down my spine and reaches the edge of my dress at the small of my back, where pale flesh meets silver cloth. УThis is very revealing,Ф he murmurs. His hand skims lower, over my backside and down to my naked thigh. He pauses, gray eyes burning intently into blue. Then slowly he trails his fingers back up to the hem of my skirt. Watching his long fingers move lightly, teasingly across my skin, feeling the tingles they leave in their wake, my mouth forms a perfectO. УItТs not far from here.Ф He touches the hem, then moves his fingers higher. У To here,Ф he whispers. I gasp as his fingers stroke my sex, moving tantalizingly over my panties, feeling me, teasing me. УAnd your point is?Ф I whisper. УMy point isЕ itТs not far from hereФ-‐his fingers glide over my panties, then one is inside, against my soft dampened flesh-‐Уto here. And thenЕ to here.Ф He slips a finger inside me. I gasp and make a soft mewling sound. УThis is mine,Ф he murmurs in my ear. Closing his eyes, he moves his finger slowly in and out of me. УI donТt want anyone else to see this.Ф My breath stutters, my panting matching the rhythm of his finger. Watching him in the mirror, doing thisЕ itТs beyond erotic. УSo be a good girl and donТt bend down, and you should be fine.Ф УYou approve?Ф I whisper. УNo, but IТm not going to stop you wearing it. You look stunning, Anastasia.Ф Abruptly he withdraws his finger, leaving me wanting more, and he moves around to face me. He places the tip of his invading finger on my lower lip. Instinctively, I pucker my lips and kiss it, and IТm rewarded with a wicked grin. He puts his finger in his mouth and his expression informs me that I taste goodЕ real good. I flush. Will it always shock me when he does that? He grasps my hand. УCome,Ф he orders softly. I want to retort that I was about to, but in light of what happened in the playroom yesterday, I decide against it. We are waiting for dessert in a plush, exclusive restaurant in town. ItТs been a lively evening so far, and Mia is determined it should continue and that we must go clubbing. Right now sheТs sitting silently for once, hanging on EthanТs every word as he and Christian talk. Mia is obviously infatuated with Ethan, and Ethan isЕ well itТs difficult to tell. I donТt know if they are just friends or if thereТs something more.
Christian seems at ease. HeТs been talking animatedly with Ethan. They obviously bonded over the fly-‐fishing. TheyТre talking about psychology, mainly. Ironically, Christian sounds the more knowledgeable. I snort softly as I half listen to their conversation, sadly acknowledging that his expertise is the result of his experience with so many shrinks. YouТre the best therapy. His words, whispered while we were making love once, echo in my head. Am I?Oh, Christian, I hope so. I glance over at Kate. She looks beautiful, but then she always does. She and Elliot are less lively. He seems nervous, his jokes a little too loud, and his laugh a little off. Have they had a fight? WhatТs eating him? Is it that woman? My heart sinks at the thought that he might hurt my best friend. I glance at the entrance, half expecting to see Gia calmly saunter her well-‐groomed ass across the restaurant to us. My mind is playing tricks, I suspect itТs the amount of alcohol IТve had. My head is beginning to ache. Abruptly, Elliot startles us all by standing and pulling his chair back so it scrapes across the tile floor. All eyes turn to him. He gazes down at Kate for one moment then drops to one knee beside her. Oh. My. God. He reaches for her hand, and silence settles like a blanket over the entire restaurant as everyone stops eating, stops talking, stops walking, and stares. УMy beautiful Kate, I love you. Your grace, your beauty, and your fiery spirit have no equal, and you have captured my heart. Spend your life with me. Marry me.Ф Holy shit! 14 [ артинка: pic_95.jpg] The attention of the entire restaurant is trained on Kate and Elliot, waiting with bated breath as one. The anticipation is unbearable. Silence stretches like a taut rubber band. The atmosphere is oppressive, apprehensive, and yet hopeful. Kate stares blankly at Elliot as he gazes up at her, his eyes wide with longing-‐fear even.Holy crap, Kate! Put him out of his misery. Please. Jeez-‐he could have asked her privately. A single tear trickles down her cheek though she remains expressionless. Shit! Kate crying? Then she smiles, a slow disbelieving IТve-‐found-‐Nirvana smile. УYes,Ф she whispers, a breathy, sweet acceptance-‐not Kate-‐like at all. For one nanosecond thereТs a pause as the entire restaurant exhales a collective sigh of relief, and then the noise is deafening. Spontaneous applause, cheering, catcalls, whooping, and suddenly I have tears rolling down my face, smudging my Barbie-‐meets-‐Joan-‐Jett makeup. Oblivious to the commotion around them, the two are locked in their own little world. From his pocket Elliot produces a small box, opens it, and presents it to Kate. A ring. And from what I can see, an exquisite ring, but I need a closer look. Is that what he was doing with Gia? Choosing a ring?Shit! Oh, IТm so glad I didnТt tell Kate. Kate looks from the ring to Elliot then throws her arms around his neck. They kiss, remarkably chaste for them, and the crowd goes wild. Elliot stands and acknowledges the approbation with a surprisingly graceful bow then, wearing a huge self-‐satisfied grin, sits back down. I canТt take my eyes off them. Taking the ring out of its box, Elliot gently slides it onto KateТs finger, and they kiss once more. Christian squeezes my hand. I didnТt realize IТd been gripping his so tightly. I release him, a little embarrassed, and he shakes his hand, mouthing, УOw.Ф УSorry. Did you know about this?Ф I whisper. Christian smiles, and I know that he did. He summons the waiter.УTwo bottles of the Cristal please. The 2002 if you have it.Ф
I smirk at him. УWhat?Ф he asks. УBecause the 2002 is so much better than the 2003,Ф I tease. He laughs.УTo the discerning palate, Anastasia.Ф УYou have a very discerning palate, Mr. Grey, and singular tastes.Ф I smile. УThat I do, Mrs. Grey.Ф He leans in close. УYou taste best,Ф he whispers, and he kisses a certain spot behind my ear, sending little shivers down my spine. I blush scarlet and fondly remember his earlier demonstration of the quite literal shortcomings of my dress. Mia is the first up to hug Kate and Elliot, and we all take turns congratulating the happy couple. I clutch Kate in a fierce hug. УSee? He was just worried about his proposal,Ф I whisper. УOh, Ana.Ф She giggle-‐sobs. УKate, I am so happy for you. Congratulations.Ф Christian is behind me. He shakes ElliotТs hand, then-‐surprising both Elliot and me-‐pulls him into a hug. I can only just catch what he says. УWay to go, Lelliot,Ф he murmurs. Elliot says nothing, for once stunned into silence, then cautiously returns his brotherТs hug. Lelliot? УThanks, Christian,Ф Elliot chokes out. Christian gives Kate a brief, if awkward, almost armТs-‐length hug. I know that ChristianТs attitude to Kate is tolerant, at best, and ambivalent most of the time, so this is progress. Releasing her, he says so quietly only she and I can hear, УI hope you are as happy in your marriage as I am in mine.Ф УThank you, Christian. I hope so, too,Ф she says graciously. The waiter has returned with the champagne, which he proceeds to open with an understated flourish. Christian holds his champagne flute aloft. УTo Kate and my dear brother, Elliot-‐congratulations.Ф We all sip, well, I glug. Hmm, Cristal tastes so good, and IТm reminded of the first time I drank it at ChristianТs club and later, our eventful elevator journey to the first floor. Christian frowns at me.УWhat are you thinking about?Ф he whispers. УThe first time I drank this champagne.Ф His frown becomes more quizzical. УWe were at your club.Ф I prompt. He grins.УOh yes. I remember.Ф He winks at me. УElliot, have you set a date?Ф Mia pipes up. Elliot gives his sister an exasperated stare.УIТve only just asked Kate, so weТll get back to you on that, Тkay?Ф УOh, make it a Christmas wedding. That would be so romantic, and youТd have no trouble remembering your anniversary.Ф Mia claps her hands. УIТll take that under advisement.Ф Elliot smirks at her. УAfter the champagne, can we please go clubbing?Ф Mia turns and gives Christian her biggest, brown-‐eyed look. УI think we should ask Elliot and Kate what theyТd like to do.Ф As one, we turn expectantly to them. Elliot shrugs and Kate turns puce. Her carnal intent toward her fianc? is so clear I nearly spit four-‐hundred-‐dollar champagne all over the table.
Zax is the most exclusive nightclub in Aspen-‐or so says Mia. Christian strolls to the front of the short line with his arm wrapped around my waist and is immediately granted access. I wonder briefly if he owns the place. I glance at my watch-‐eleven thirty in the evening, and IТm feeling fuzzy. The two glasses of champagne and several glasses of Pouilly-‐Fum? during our meal are starting to have an effect, and IТm grateful Christian has his arm around me. УMr. Grey, welcome back,Ф says a very attractive, leggy blonde in black satin, hot pants, matching sleeveless shirt, and a little red bowtie. She smiles broadly, revealing perfect all-‐American teeth between scarlet lips that match her bowtie. УMax will take your coat.Ф A young man dressed entirely in black, fortunately not satin, smiles as he offers to take my coat. His dark eyes are warm and inviting. I am the only one wearing a coat-‐ Christian insisted I take MiaТs trench coat to cover my behind-‐so Max only has to deal with me. УNice coat,Ф he says, gazing at me intently. Beside me Christian bristles and fixes Max with a back-‐off-‐now glare. He reddens and quickly hands Christian my coat check ticket. УLet me show you to your table.Ф Miss Satin Hot Pants flutters her eyelashes at my husband, flicks her long blond hair, and sashays through the entryway. I tighten my grip around Christian, and he gazes down at me questioningly for a moment, then smirks as we follow Miss Satin Hot Pants into the bar. The lighting is muted, the walls are black, and the furnishings deep red. There are booths flanking two sides of the walls and a large U-‐shaped bar in the middle. ItТs busy, given that weТre here off-‐season, but not too crowded with the well-‐heeled of Aspen out for a good time on a Saturday night. The dress code is relaxed, and for the first time I feel a little overЕ um, underdressed. IТm not sure which. The floor and walls vibrate with the music pulsing from the dance floor behind the bar, and lights are whirling and flashing on and off. In my heady state, I idly think itТs an epilepticТs nightmare. Satin Hot Pants leads us to a corner booth thatТs been roped off. ItТs near the bar with access to the dance floor. Clearly the best seats in the house. УThereТll be someone along to take your order shortly.Ф She gives us her full megawatt smile and, with a final flutter of eyelashes at my husband, sashays back from where she came. Mia is already jigging from foot to foot, itching