Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fifty Shades Darker CHAPTER 11


With easy grace, Christian taps the white ball so that it glides across the table, kisses the black and oh-so-slowly the black rolls, teeters on the edge, and finally drops into the top right pocket of the billiard table.
He stands, and his mouth twists in a triumphant I-so-own-you-Steele smile. Putting down his cue, he saunters casually toward me, all tousled hair, jeans, and white T-shirt. He doesn’t look like a CEO—he looks like a bad boy from the wrong side of town. Holy cow, he’s so fucking sexy.
“You’re not going to be a sore loser, are you?” he murmurs, barely containing his grin.
“Depends how hard you spank me,” I whisper, holding on to my cue for support. He takes my cue and puts it to one side, hooks his finger into the top of my shirt, and pulls me toward him.
“Well, let’s count your misdemeanors, Miss Steele.” He counts on his long fingers. “One, making me jealous of my own staff. Two, arguing with me about working. And three, waving your delectable derriere at me for the last twenty minutes.”
His eyes glow a soft gray with excitement, and leaning down, he rubs his nose against mine. “I want you to take your jeans and this very fetching shirt off. Now.” He plants a feather-soft kiss on my lips, wanders nonchalantly over to the door, and locks it.
Oh my.
When he turns and gazes at me, his eyes are burning. I stand paralyzed like a complete zombie, my heart pounding, my blood pumping, not actually able to move a muscle. In my mind, all I can think is—this is for him—the thought repeating like a mantra over and over again.
“Clothes, Anastasia. You appear to still be wearing them. Take them off—or I will do it for you.”
“You do it.” I finally find my voice, and it sounds low and heated. Christian grins.
“Oh, Miss Steele. It’s a dirty job, but I think I can rise to the challenge.”
“You normally rise to most challenges, Mr. Grey.” I raise an eyebrow at him, and he smirks.
“Why, Miss Steele, whatever do you mean?” On his way over to me, he pauses at the small desk built into one of the bookshelves. Reaching over, he picks up a twelve-inch Perspex ruler. He holds each end and flexes it, his eyes not leaving mine.
Holy shit—his weapon of choice. My mouth goes dry.
Suddenly, I’m hot and bothered and damp in all the right places. Only Christian could turn me on with just a look and the flex of a ruler. He slips it into the back pocket of his jeans and ambles toward me, eyes dark and full of promise. Without saying a word, he drops to his knees in front of me and starts to undo my laces, quickly and efficiently, dragging both my Converse and socks off. I lean on the side of the billiard table so I don’t fall. Gazing down at him as he undoes my laces, I marvel at the depth of feeling that I have for this beautiful flawed man. I love him.
He grabs my hips, slips his fingers into the waistband of my jeans, and undoes the button and zipper. He peers up through his long lashes, grinning his most salacious grin as he slowly peels my jeans off. I step out of them, glad that I’m wearing these pretty, pretty panties, and he grasps the back of my legs and runs his nose along the apex of my thighs. I practically melt.
“I want to be quite rough with you, Ana. You’ll have to tell me to stop if it’s too much,” he breathes.
Oh my. He kisses me . . . there. I moan softly.
“Safe word?” I murmur.
“No, no safe word, just tell me to stop, and I’ll stop. Understand?” He kisses me again, nuzzling me. Oh, that feels good. He stands, his stare intense. “Answer me,” he orders his voice velvet soft.
“Yes, yes, I understand.” I’m puzzled by his insistence.
“You’ve been dropping hints and giving me mixed signals all day, Anastasia,” he says. “You said you were worried I’d lost my edge. I’m not sure what you meant by that, and I don’t know how serious you were, but we are going to find out. I don’t want to go back into the playroom yet, so we can try this now, but if you don’t like it, you must promise to tell me.” A burning intensity born of his anxiety replaces his earlier cockiness.
Whoa, please don’t be anxious, Christian. “I’ll tell you. No safe word,” I reiterate to reassure him.
“We’re lovers, Anastasia. Lovers don’t need safe words.” He frowns. “Do they?”
“I guess not,” I murmur. Jeez—how do I know? “I promise.”
He searches my face for any clue that I might lack the courage of my convictions, and I’m nervous but excited, too. I’m much happier to do this, knowing that he loves me. It’s very simple to me, and right now, I don’t want to overthink it.
A slow smile stretches across his face, and he starts to unbutton my shirt, his deft fingers making short work of it, though he doesn’t take it off. He leans over and picks up the cue.
Oh fuck, what’s he going to do with that? A frisson of fear runs through me.
“You play well, Miss Steele. I must say I’m surprised. Why don’t you sink the black?”
My fear forgotten, I pout, wondering why the hell he should be surprised—sexy, arrogant bastard. My inner goddess is limbering up in the background, doing her floor exercises—a great fat smile on her face.
I position the white ball. Christian strolls back around the table and stands right behind me as I lean over to take my shot. He places his hand on my right thigh and runs his fingers up and down my leg, up to my behind and back again, lightly stroking me.
“I am going to miss if you keep doing that,” I whisper, closing my eyes and relishing the feel of his hands on me.
“I don’t care if you hit or miss, baby. I just wanted to see you like this—partially dressed, stretched out on my billiard table. Do you have any idea how hot you look at the moment?”
I flush, and my inner goddess grabs a rose between her teeth and starts to tango. Taking a deep breath, I try to ignore him and line up my shot. It’s impossible. He caresses my behind, over and over again.
“Top left,” I murmur, then hit the white ball. He smacks me hard, squarely on my backside.
It’s so unexpected, I yelp. The white hits the black, which bounces off the cushion wide of the pocket. Christian caresses my behind again.
“Oh, I think you need to try that again,” he whispers. “You should concentrate, Anastasia.”
I am panting now, excited by this game. He strolls to the end of the table, sets up the black ball again, then runs the white ball back down to me. He looks so carnal, dark eyed with a lascivious smile. How could I ever resist this man? I catch the ball and line it up, ready to strike again.
“Uh-uh,” he admonishes. “Just wait.” Oh, he just loves prolonging the agony. He wanders back and stands behind me again. I close my eyes once more as he strokes my left thigh this time then fondles my backside again.
“Take aim,” he breathes.
I can’t help my moan as desire twists and turns inside me. And I try, really try, to think about where I should hit the black with the white. I shift slightly to my right, and he follows me. I bend over the table once more. Using every last vestige of inner strength—which has
diminished considerably since I know what will happen once I strike the white ball—I take aim and hit the white again. Christian smacks me once more, hard.
Ow! I miss again. “Oh no!” I groan.
“Once more, baby. And if you miss this time, I’m really going to let you have it.”
What? Have what?
He sets up the black ball once more and walks, achingly slow, back to me until he’s standing behind me, caressing my backside once more.
“You can do it,” he coaxes.
Oh—not when you’re distracting me like this. I push my behind back against his hand, and he smacks me lightly.
“Eager, Miss Steele?” he murmurs.
Yes. I want you.
“Well, let’s get rid of these.” He gently slides my panties down my thighs and off. I can’t see what he does with them, but he leaves me feeling exposed as he plants a soft kiss on each cheek.
“Take the shot, baby.”
I want to whimper, this is so not going to happen. I know I am going to miss. I line up the white, hit it, and in my impatience, miss the black completely. I wait for the blow—but it doesn’t come. Instead he leans right over me, flattening me against the table, takes the cue out of my hand and rolls it to the side cushion. I can feel him, hard, against my backside.
“You missed,” he says softly in my ear. My cheek is pressed against the baize. “Put your hands flat on the table.”
I do as he says.
“Good. I’m going to spank you now and next time, maybe you won’t.” He shifts so he’s standing to my left side, his erection against my hip.
I groan and my heart leaps into my mouth. My breath comes in short pants and a hot, heavy excitement courses through my veins. Gently, he caresses my behind and curls his other hand around the nape of my neck, his fingers fisting in my hair, his elbow at my back, holding me down. I am completely helpless.
“Open your legs,” he murmurs and for a moment, I hesitate. And he smacks me hard—with the ruler! The noise is harsher than the sting, and it takes me by surprise. I gasp, and he hits me again.
“Legs,” he orders. I open my legs, panting. The ruler strikes again. Ow—it stings, but its crack across my skin sounds worse than it feels.
I close my eyes and absorb the pain. It’s not too bad, and Christian’s breathing becomes harsher. He hits me again and again, and I moan. I am not sure how many more strokes I can bear—but hearing him, knowing how turned on he is, feeds my arousal and my willingness to continue. I am crossing to the dark side, a place in my psyche I don’t know well but have visited before in the playroom—with the Tallis. The ruler strikes once more, and I moan loudly, and Christian groans in response. He hits me again—and again . . . and once more . . . harder this time—and I wince.
“Stop.” The word is out of my mouth before I’m even aware that I’ve said it. Christian drops the ruler immediately and releases me.
“Enough?” he whispers.
“I want to fuck you now,” he says, his voice strained.
“Yes,” I murmur with longing. He undoes his fly, as I lie panting on the table, knowing that he’s going to be rough.
I marvel once more at how I have managed—and yes, enjoyed— what he’s done to me up to this point. It’s so dark but so him.
He eases two fingers inside me and moves them in a circular motion. The feeling is exquisite. Closing my eyes, I revel in the sensation. I hear the telltale rip of foil, then he’s standing behind me, between my legs, pushing them wider.
Slowly he sinks into me, filling me. I hear his groan of pure pleasure, and it stirs my soul. He grasps my hips firmly, eases out of me again, and this time slams back into me, causing me to cry out. He stills for a moment.
“Again?” he asks softly.
“Yes . . . I’m fine. Lose yourself . . . take me with you,” I murmur breathlessly.
He moans low in his throat, eases out of me once more, then slams into me, and repeats this over and over slowly, deliberately—a punishing, brutal, heavenly rhythm.
Oh fucking my . . . My insides begin to quicken. He feels it, too, and increases the rhythm, pushing me, higher, harder, faster—and I surrender, exploding around him—a draining, soul-grabbing orgasm that leaves me spent and exhausted.
I’m vaguely aware that Christian, too, is letting go, calling my name, his fingers digging into my hips, and then he stills and collapses on me. We sink to the floor, and he cradles me in his arms.
“Thank you, baby,” he breathes, covering my upturned face in soft feather-light kisses. I open my eyes and gaze up at him, and he wraps his arms tighter around me.
“Your cheek is pink from the baize,” he murmurs, rubbing my face tenderly. “How was that?” His eyes are wide and cautious.
“Teeth-clenchingly good,” I mutter. “I like it rough, Christian, and I like it gentle, too. I like that it’s with you.”
He closes his eyes and hugs me even tighter.
Jeez, I’m tired.
“You never fail, Ana. You are beautiful, bright, challenging, fun, sexy, and I thank divine providence every day that it was you that came to interview me and not Katherine Kavanagh.” He kisses my hair. I smile and yawn against his chest. “I’m wearing you out,” he continues. “Come. Bath, then bed.”
We are both in Christian’s bath, facing each other chin-deep in foam, the sweet scent of jasmine enveloping us. Christian is massaging my feet, one at a time. It feels so good it should be illegal.
“Can I ask you something?” I murmur.
“Of course. Anything, Ana, you know that.”
I take a deep breath and sit up, flinching only slightly.
“Tomorrow—when I go to work—can Sawyer just deliver me to the front door of the office then pick me up at the end of the day? Please, Christian. Please,” I plead.
His hands still as his brow creases. “I thought we agreed,” he grumbles.
“Please,” I beg.
“What about lunchtime?”
“I’ll make myself something to take from here so I don’t have to go out, please.”
He kisses my instep. “I find it very difficult to say no to you,” he mutters as if he senses this is a failing on his part. “You won’t go out?”
I beam at him. “Thank you.” I lean up onto my knees, sloshing water everywhere, and kiss him.
“You’re most welcome, Miss Steele. How’s your behind?”
“Sore. But not too bad. The water is soothing.”
“I’m glad you told me to stop,” he says, gazing at me.
“So is my behind.”
He grins.
I stretch out in bed, so tired. It’s only ten thirty, but it feels like three in the morning. This has to be one of the most exhausting weekends of my life.
“Didn’t Ms. Acton provide any nightwear?” Christian asks, his voice laced with disapproval as he stares down at me.
“I have no idea. I like wearing your T-shirts,” I mumble sleepily.
His face softens, and he leans over and kisses my forehead.
“I need to work. But I don’t want to leave you alone. Can I use your laptop to log in to the office? Will I disturb you if I work from here?”
“S’not my laptop.” I drift.
The alarm clicks on, startling me awake with the traffic news. Christian is still asleep beside me. Rubbing my eyes, I glance at the clock. Six thirty—too early.
It’s raining outside for the first time in ages, and the light is muted and mellow. I’m cozy and comfortable in this vast modern monolith with Christian at my side. I stretch and turn to the delicious man beside me. His eyes spring open and he blinks sleepily.
“Good morning.” I smile and caress his face, leaning down to kiss him.
“Good morning, baby. I usually wake before the alarm goes off,” he murmurs in wonder.
“It’s set so early.”
“That it is, Miss Steele.” Christian grins. “I have to get up.” He kisses me, and then he’s up and out of bed. I flop back against the pillows. Wow, waking up on a school day next to Christian Grey. How did this all happen? I close my eyes and doze.
“Come on, sleepyhead, get up.” Christian leans over me. He’s shaved, clean, fresh—Hmm, he smells so good—in a crisp white shirt and black suit, no tie—the CEO is back. Holy Moses, he looks good like this, too.
“What?” he asks.
“I wish you’d come back to bed.”
His lips part, surprised by my come-on, and he smiles almost shyly. “You are insatiable, Miss Steele. As much as that idea appeals, I have an eight thirty meeting, so I have to go shortly.”
Oh, I’ve slept for another hour or so. Shit. I leap out of bed, much to Christian’s amusement.
I shower and dress quickly, wearing the clothes I set out yesterday: a fitted, gray pencil skirt; pale-gray silk shirt; and high-heeled black pumps, all care of my new wardrobe. I brush my hair and carefully put it up, then wander out to the great room, not really knowing what to expect. How am I going to get to work?
Christian is sipping coffee at the breakfast bar. Mrs. Jones is in the kitchen making pancakes and bacon.
“You look lovely,” Christian murmurs. Wrapping an arm around me, he kisses me under my ear. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch Mrs. Jones’s smile. I flush.
“Good morning, Miss Steele,” she says as she places pancakes and bacon in front of me.
“Oh, thank you. Good morning,” I mumble. Jeez—I could get used to this.
“Mr. Grey says you’d like to take lunch with you to work. What would you like to eat?”
I glance at Christian, who is trying very hard not to smirk. I narrow my eyes at him.
“A sandwich . . . salad. I really don’t mind.” I beam at Mrs. Jones.
“I’ll rustle up a packed lunch for you, ma’am.”
“Please, Mrs. Jones, call me Ana.”
“Ana.” She smiles and turns to make me tea.
Wow . . . this is so cool.
I turn and cock my head at Christian, challenging him—go on, accuse me of flirting with Mrs. Jones.
“I have to go, baby. Taylor will come back and drop you at work with Sawyer.”
“Only to the door.”
“Yes. Only to the door.” Christian rolls his eyes. “Be careful, though.”
I glance around and spy Taylor standing in the entranceway. Christian stands and kisses me, grasping my chin.
“Laters, baby.”
“Have a good day at the office, dear,” I call after him. He turns and flashes me his beautiful smile then he’s gone. Mrs. Jones hands me a cup of tea, and suddenly I feel awkward with just the two of us here.
“How long have you worked for Christian?” I ask, thinking I ought to make some kind of conversation.
“Four years or so,” she says pleasantly, as she sets about making my packed lunch.
“You know, I can do that,” I mutter, embarrassed that she should be doing this for me.
“You eat your breakfast, Ana. This is what I do. I enjoy it. It’s nice to look after someone other than Mr. Taylor and Mr. Grey.” She smiles very sweetly at me.
My cheeks pink with pleasure, and I want to bombard this woman with questions. She must know so much about Fifty, and although her manner is warm and friendly, it’s also very professional. I know I’ll only embarrass both of us if I start quizzing her, so I finish my breakfast in a reasonably comfortable silence, punctuated only by her questions on my food preferences for lunch.
Twenty-five minutes later Sawyer appears at the entrance to the great room. I have brushed my teeth, and I’m waiting to go. Clutching my brown paper lunch bag—I can’t even remember my mom doing this for me—Sawyer and I head to the first floor via the elevator. He’s very taciturn, too, giving nothing away. Taylor is waiting in the Audi, and I climb into the rear passenger seat when Sawyer opens the door.
“Good morning, Taylor,” I say brightly.
“Miss Steele.” He smiles.
“Taylor, I’m sorry about yesterday and my inappropriate remarks. I hope I didn’t get you into trouble.”
Taylor frowns in bemusement at me from the rearview mirror as he pulls out into the Seattle traffic.
“Miss Steele, I’m rarely in trouble,” he says reassuringly.
Oh good. Maybe Christian didn’t tell him off. Just me, then, I think sourly.
“I’m glad to hear it, Taylor.” I smile.
Jack gazes at me, assessing my appearance, as I make my way to my desk.
“Morning, Ana. Good weekend?”
“Yes, thanks. You?”
“It was good. Get settled in—I have work for you to do.”
I nod and sit down at my computer. It seems like years since I was at work. I switch on my computer and fire up my e-mail program—and of course there’s an e-mail from Christian.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Boss
Date: June 13, 2011 08:24
To: Anastasia Steele
Good morning, Miss Steele
I just wanted to say thank you for a wonderful weekend in spite of all the drama.
I hope you never leave, ever.
And just to remind you that the news of SIP is embargoed for four weeks.
Delete this e-mail as soon as you’ve read it.
Christian Grey,
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. & Your boss’s boss’s boss.
Hope I never leave? Does he want me to move in? Holy Moses . . . I barely know the man. I press delete.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Bossy
Date: June 13, 2011: 09:03
To: Christian Grey
Dear Mr. Grey
Are you asking me to move in with you? And of course, I remembered that the evidence of your epic stalking capabilities is embargoed for another four weeks. Do I make a check out to Coping Together and send to your dad? Please don’t delete this e-mail. Please respond to it.
ILY xxx
Anastasia Steele
Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP
“Ana!” Jack makes me jump.
“Yes,” I flush, and Jack frowns at me.
“Everything okay?”
“Sure.” I scramble up and take my notebook into his office.
“Good. As you probably remember, I’m going to that Commissioning Fiction Symposium in New York on Thursday. I have tickets and reservations, but I’d like you to come with me.”
“To New York?”
“Yes. We’ll need to go Wednesday and stay overnight. I think you’ll find it a very educational experience.” His eyes darken as he says this, but his smile is polite. “Would you make the necessary travel arrangements? And book an additional room at the hotel where I am staying? I think Sabrina, my previous PA, left all the details handy somewhere.”
“Okay.” I smile wanly at Jack.
Crap. I wander back to my desk. This is not going to go down well with Fifty—but the fact is, I want to go. It sounds like a real opportunity, and I’m sure I can keep Jack at arm’s length if that’s his ulterior motive. Back at my desk there’s a response from Christian.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Me, Bossy?
Date: June 13, 2011 09:07
To: Anastasia Steele
Yes. Please.
Christian Grey,
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
Jeez . . . he does want me to move in. Oh, Christian—it’s too soon. I put my head in my hands to try and recover my wits. This is all I need after my extraordinary weekend. I haven’t had a moment to myself to think through and understand all that I have experienced and discovered these last two days.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Flynnisms
Date: June 13, 2011: 09:20
To: Christian Grey
What happened to walking before we run?
Can we talk about this tonight, please?
I’ve been asked to go to a conference in New York on Thursday.
It means an overnight stay on Wednesday.
Just thought you should know.
A x
Anastasia Steele
Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP
From: Christian Grey
Subject: WHAT?
Date: June 13, 2011 09:21
To: Anastasia Steele
Yes. Let’s talk this evening.
Are you going on your own?
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: No Bold Shouty Capitals on a Monday Morning!
Date: June 13, 2011: 09:30
To: Christian Grey
Can we talk about this tonight?
A x
Anastasia Steele
Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP
From: Christian Grey
Subject: You Haven’t Seen Shouty Yet.
Date: June 13, 2011 09:35
To: Anastasia Steele
Tell me.
If it’s with the sleazeball you work with, then the answer is no, over my dead body.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
My heart sinks. Shit—it’s like he’s my dad.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: No YOU haven’t seen shouty yet.
Date: June 13, 2011 09:46
To: Christian Grey
Yes. It is with Jack.
I want to go. It’s an exciting opportunity for me.
And I have never been to New York.
Don’t get your knickers in a twist.
Anastasia Steele
Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP
From: Christian Grey
Subject: No YOU haven’t seen shouty yet.
Date: June 13, 2011 09:50
To: Anastasia Steele
It’s not my fucking knickers I am worried about.
The answer is NO.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
“No!” I shout at my computer, causing the entire office to come to a standstill and stare at me. Jack peers out from his office.
“Everything all right, Ana?”
“Yes. Sorry,” I mutter. “I er . . . just didn’t save a document.” I am scarlet with embarrassment. He smiles at me but with a puzzled expression. I take several deep breaths and quickly type a response. I am so mad.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Fifty Shades
Date: June 13, 2011 09:55
To: Christian Grey
You need to get a grip.
I am NOT going to sleep with Jack—not for all the tea in China.
I LOVE you. That’s what happens when people love each other.
They TRUST each other.
I don’t think you are going to SLEEP WITH, SPANK, FUCK, or WHIP anyone else. I have FAITH and TRUST in you.
Please extend the same COURTESY to me.
Anastasia Steele
Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP
I sit waiting for his response. Nothing arrives. I call the airline and book a ticket for myself, ensuring I am on the same flight as Jack. I hear the ping of new mail.
From: Lincoln, Elena
Subject: Lunch Date
Date: June 13, 2011 10:15
To: Anastasia Steele
Dear Anastasia
I would really like to have lunch with you. I think we got off on the wrong foot, and I’d like to make that right. Are you free sometime this week?
Elena Lincoln
Holy crap—not Mrs. Robinson! How the hell did she find out my e-mail address? I put my head in my hands. Can this day get any worse?
My phone rings and wearily I lift my head from my hands and answer, glancing at the clock. It is only ten twenty, and already I wish I hadn’t left Christian’s bed.
“Jack Hyde’s office, Ana Steele speaking.”
An achingly familiar voice snarls at me, “Will you please delete the last e-mail you sent me and try to be a little more circumspect in the language you use in your work e-mail? I told you, the system is monitored. I shall endeavor to do some damage limitation from here.” He hangs up.
Holy fuck . . . I sit staring at the phone. Christian hung up on me. That man is stomping all over my fledgling career, and he hangs up on me? I glare at the receiver, and if it wasn’t completely inanimate, I know it would shrivel in horror under my withering stare.
I open my e-mails and delete the one I sent him. It’s not that bad. I just mention spanking and well, whipping. Jeez, if he’s so ashamed of it, he damn well shouldn’t do it. I pick up my Blackberry and call his mobile.
“What?” he snaps.
“I am going to New York whether you like it or not,” I hiss.
“Don’t count—”
I hang up, cutting him off mid-sentence. Adrenaline is coursing through my body. There—that told him. I am so mad.
I take a deep breath, trying to compose myself. Closing my eyes, I imagine that I am in my happy place. Hmm . . . a boat cabin with Christian. I shake the image off as I am too mad at Fifty right now for him to be anywhere near my happy place.
Opening my eyes, I calmly reach for my notebook and carefully run through my to do list. I take a long, deep breath, my equilibrium restored.
“Ana!” Jack shouts, startling me. “Don’t book that flight!”
“Oh, too late. I’ve done it,” I reply as he strides out of his office over to me. He looks mad.
“Look, there’s something going on. For some reason, suddenly, all travel and hotel expenses for staff have to be approved by senior management. This has come right from the top. I am going up to see old Roach. Apparently, a moratorium on all spending has just been implemented. I don’t understand it.” Jack pinches the bridge of his nose and closes his eyes.
Most of the blood drains from my face and knots form in my stomach. Fifty!
“Take my calls. I’ll go see what Roach has to say.” He winks at me and strides off to see his boss—not the boss’s boss.
Damn it. Christian Grey . . . My blood starts to boil again.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: What have you done?
Date: June 13, 2011 10:43
To: Christian Grey
Please tell me you won’t interfere with my work.
I really want to go to this conference.
I shouldn’t have to ask you.
I have deleted the offending e-mail.
Anastasia Steele
Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP
From: Christian Grey
Subject: What have you done?
Date: June 13, 2011 10:46
To: Anastasia Steele
I am just protecting what is mine.
The e-mail that you so rashly sent is wiped from the SIP server now, as are my e-mails to you.
Incidentally, I trust you implicitly. It’s him I don’t trust.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
I check to see if I still have his e-mails, and they have disappeared. This man’s influence knows no bounds. How does he do this? Who does he know that can stealthily delve into the depths of SIP’s servers and remove e-mails? I am so out of my league here.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Grown Up
Date: June 13, 2011 10:43
To: Christian Grey
I don’t need protecting from my own boss.
He may make a pass at me, but I shall say no.
You cannot interfere. It’s wrong and controlling on so many levels.
Anastasia Steele
Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP
From: Christian Grey
Subject: The Answer is NO
Date: June 13, 2011 10.50
To: Anastasia Steele
I have seen how “effective” you are at fighting off unwanted attention. I remember that’s
how I had the pleasure of spending my first night with you. At least the photographer has feelings for you. The sleazeball, on the other hand, does not. He is a serial philanderer, and he will try to seduce you. Ask him what happened to his previous PA and the one before that.
I don’t want to fight about this.
If you want to go to New York, I’ll take you. We can go this weekend. I have an apartment there.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
Oh, Christian! That’s not the point. He’s so damn frustrating. And of course he has an apartment there. Where else does he own property? Trust him to bring up José. Will I ever live that down? I was drunk, for heaven’s sake. I wouldn’t get drunk with Jack.
I shake my head at the screen, but figure I cannot continue to argue with him over e-mail. I shall have to bide my time until this evening. I check the clock. Jack is still not back from his meeting with Jerry, and I need to deal with Elena. I read her e-mail again and decide that the best way to handle it is to send it to Christian. Let him concentrate on her rather than me.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: FW Lunch date or Irritating Baggage
Date: June 13, 2011 11:15
To: Christian Grey
While you have been busy interfering in my career and saving your ass from my careless missives, I received the following e-mail from Mrs. Lincoln. I really don’t want to meet with her—even if I did, I am not allowed to leave this building. How she got hold of my e-mail address, I don’t know. What would you suggest I do? Her e-mail is below:
Dear Anastasia, I would really like to have lunch with you. I think we got off on the wrong foot, and I’d like to make that right. Are you free sometime this week?
Elena Lincoln
Anastasia Steele
Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Irritating Baggage
Date: June 13, 2011 11:23
To: Anastasia Steele
Don’t be mad at me. I have your best interests at heart.
If anything happened to you, I would never forgive myself.
I’ll deal with Mrs. Lincoln.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Laters
Date: June 13, 2011: 11:32
To: Christian Grey
Can we please discuss this tonight?
I am trying to work, and your continued interference is very distracting.
Anastasia Steele
Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP
Jack returns after midday and tells me that New York is off for me though he is still going and there’s nothing he can do to change senior management policy. He strides into his office, slamming the door, obviously furious. Why is he so angry?
Deep down, I know his intentions are less than honorable, but I am sure I can deal with him, and I wonder what Christian knows about Jack’s previous PAs. I park these thoughts and continue with some work, but resolve to try to make Christian change his mind, though the prospects are bleak.
At one o’clock, Jack pokes his head out of the office door.
“Ana, please could you go and get me some lunch?”
“Sure. What would you like?”
“Pastrami on rye, hold the mustard. I’ll give you the money when you’re back.”
“Anything to drink?”
“Coke, please. Thanks, Ana.” He heads back into his office as I reach for my purse.
Crap. I promised Christian I wouldn’t go out. I sigh. He’ll never know, and I’ll be quick.
Claire from reception offers me her umbrella since it is still pouring with rain. As I head out of the front doors, I pull my jacket around me and take a furtive glance in both directions from beneath the overlarge golf umbrella. Nothing seems amiss. There’s no sign of Ghost Girl.
I march briskly, and I hope inconspicuously, down the block to the deli. However, the closer I get to the deli, the more I have a creepy sense that I am being watched, and I don’t know if it’s my heightened feeling of paranoia or a reality. Shit. I hope it’s not Leila with a gun.
It’s just your imagination, my subconscious snaps. Who the hell would want to shoot you?
Within fifteen minutes, I am back—safe, sound but relieved. I think Christian’s extreme paranoia and his overprotective vigilance is beginning to get to me.
As I take Jack’s lunch in to him, he glances up from the phone.
“Ana, thanks. Since you’re not coming with me, I’m going to need you to work late. We need to get these briefs ready. Hope you don’t have plans.” He smiles up at me warmly, and I flush.
“No, that’s fine,” I say with a bright smile and a sinking heart. This is not going to go down well. Christian will freak, I’m sure.
As I head back to my desk I decide not to tell him immediately, otherwise he might have time to interfere in some way. I sit and eat the chicken salad sandwich Mrs. Jones made for me. It’s delicious. She makes a mean sandwich.
Of course, if I moved in with Christian, she would make lunch for me every weekday. The idea is unsettling. I have never had dreams of obscene wealth and all the trappings—only love. To find someone who loves me and doesn’t try to control my every move. The phone rings.
“Jack Hyde’s office—”
“You assured me you wouldn’t go out,” Christian interrupts me, his voice cold and hard.
My heart sinks for the millionth time this day. Shit. How the hell does he know?
“Jack sent me out for some lunch. I couldn’t say no. Are you having me watched?” My scalp prickles at the notion. No wonder I felt so paranoid—someone was watching me. The thought makes me angry.
“This is why I didn’t want you going back to work,” Christian snaps.
“Christian, please. You’re being”—So Fifty—“so suffocating.”
“Suffocating?” he whispers, surprised.
“Yes. You have to stop this. I’ll talk to you this evening. Unfortunately, I have to work late because I can’t go to New York.”
“Anastasia, I don’t want to suffocate you,” he says quietly, appalled.
“Well, you are. I have work to do. I’ll talk to you later.” I hang up, feeling drained and vaguely depressed.
After our wonderful weekend, the reality is hitting home. I have never felt more like running. Running to some quiet retreat so I can think about this man, about how he is, and about how to deal with him. On one level, I know he’s broken—I can see that clearly now—and it’s both heartbreaking and exhausting. From the small pieces of precious information that he’s given me about his life, I understand why. An unloved child; a hideously abusive environment; a mother who couldn’t protect him, whom he couldn’t protect, and who died in front of him.
I shudder. My poor Fifty. I am his, but not to be kept in some gilded cage. How am I going to make him see this?
With a heavy heart, I drag one of the manuscripts Jack wants me to summarize into my lap and continue to read. I can think of no easy solution to Christian’s fucked-up control issues. I will just have to talk to him later, face to face.
Half an hour later, Jack e-mails me a document that I need to tidy up and polish, ready for printing tomorrow in time for his conference. It will take me not just the rest of the afternoon but well into the evening, too. I set to work.
When I look up, it’s after seven and the office is deserted, though the light in Jack’s office is still on. I hadn’t noticed everyone leaving, but I am nearly finished. I e-mail the document back to Jack for his approval and check my inbox. There’s nothing new from Christian, so I quickly glance at my Blackberry, and it startles me by buzzing—it’s Christian.
“Hi,” I murmur.
“Hi, when will you be finished?”
“By seven thirty, I think.”
“I’ll meet you outside.”
He sounds quiet, nervous even. Why? Wary of my reaction?
“I’m still mad at you, but that’s all,” I whisper. “We have a lot to talk about.”
“I know. See you at seven thirty.”
Jack comes out of his office.
“I have to go. See you later.” I hang up.
I look up at Jack as he strolls casually toward me.
“I just need a couple of tweaks. I’ve e-mailed the brief back to you.”
He leans over me while I retrieve the document, rather close—uncomfortably close. His arm brushes mine. Accidentally? I flinch, but he pretends not to notice. His other arm rests on the back of my chair, touching my back. I sit up so I’m not leaning against the backrest.
“Pages sixteen and twenty-three, and that should be it,” he murmurs, his mouth inches from my ear.
My skin crawls at his proximity, but I choose to ignore it. Opening the document, I shakily start on the changes. He’s still leaning over me, and all my senses are hyperaware. It’s distracting and awkward, and inside I am screaming, Back off!
“Once this is done, it’ll be good to go to print. You can organize that tomorrow. Thank you for staying late and doing this, Ana.” His voice is smooth, gentle, like he’s talking to a wounded animal. My stomach twists.
“I think the least I could do is reward you with a quick drink. You deserve one.” He tucks a strand of my hair that’s come loose from my hair tie behind my ear and gently caresses the lobe.
I cringe gritting my teeth, and I jerk my head away. Shit! Christian was right. Don’t touch me.
“Actually, I can’t this evening.” Or any other evening, Jack.
“Just a quick one?” he coaxes.
“No, I can’t. But thank you.”
Jack sits on the end of my desk and frowns. Alarm bells sound loudly in my head. I am on my own in the office. I cannot leave. I glance nervously at the clock. Another five minutes before Christian is due.
“Ana, I think we make a great team. I’m sorry that I couldn’t pull off this New York trip. It won’t be the same without you.”
I’m sure it won’t. I smile weakly up at him, because I can’t think of what to say. And for the first time all day, I feel the tiniest hint of relief that I am not going.
“So, did you have a good weekend?” he asks smoothly.
“Yes, thanks.” Where is he going with this?
“See your boyfriend?”
“What does he do?”
Owns your ass . . . “He’s in business.”
“That’s interesting. What kind of business?”
“Oh, he has his fingers in all sorts of pies.”
Jack cocks his head to one side as he leans in toward me, invading my personal space—again.
“You’re being very coy, Ana.”
“Well, he’s in telecommunications, manufacturing, and agriculture.”
Jack raises his eyebrows. “So many things. Who does he work for?”
“He works for himself. If you’re happy with the document, I’d like to go, if that’s okay?”
He leans back. My personal space is safe again.
“Of course. Sorry, I didn’t mean to keep you,” he says disingenuously.
“What time does the building close?”
“Security is here until eleven.”
“Good.” I smile, and my subconscious flops down in her armchair, relieved to know that we are not alone in the building. Switching off my computer, I grab my purse and stand up, ready to leave.
“You like him then? Your boyfriend?”
“I love him,” I answer, looking Jack squarely in the eye.
“I see.” Jack frowns and he stands up from my desk. “What’s his surname?”
I flush.
“Grey. Christian Grey,” I mumble.
Jack’s mouth drops open. “Seattle’s richest bachelor? That Christian Grey?”
“Yes. The same.” Yes, that Christian Grey, your future boss who will have you for breakfast if you invade my personal space again.
“I thought he looked familiar,” Jack says darkly and his brow creases again. “Well, he’s a lucky man.”
I blink at him. What do I say to that?
“Have a good evening, Ana.” Jack smiles, but the smile doesn’t touch his eyes, and he walks stiffly back into his office without a backward glance.
I let out a long sigh of relief. Well, that problem might be solved. Fifty works his magic again. Just his name is my talisman, and it has this man retreating with his tail between his legs. I allow myself a small victorious smile. You see, Christian? Even your name protects me—you didn’t have to go to all that trouble of clamping down on expenses. I tidy my desk and check my watch. Christian should be outside.
The Audi is parked up against the sidewalk, and Taylor leaps out to open the rear passenger door. I have never been so pleased to see him, and I scramble into the car out of the rain.
Christian is in the rear seat, gazing at me, his eyes wide and wary. He’s bracing himself for my anger, his jaw tight and tense.
“Hi,” I murmur.
“Hi,” he replies cautiously. He reaches over and grasps my hand, squeezing it tightly, and my heart thaws a little. I’m so confused. I haven’t even worked out what I need to say to him.
“Are you still mad?” he asks.
“I don’t know,” I murmur. He raises my hand and lightly grazes my knuckles with soft butterfly kisses.
“It’s been a shitty day,” he says.
“Yes, it has.” But for the first time since he left for work this morning, I begin to relax. Just being in his company is a soothing balm, and all the shit from Jack, and the snarky e-mails to and fro, and the nuisance that is Elena fade into the background. It’s just me and my control freak in the back of the car.
“It’s better now that you’re here,” he murmurs. We sit in silence as Taylor weaves through the evening traffic, both of us brooding and contemplative; but I feel Christian slowly unwind beside me as he, too, relaxes, gently running his thumb across my knuckles in a soft, soothing rhythm.
Taylor drops us outside the apartment building, and we both duck inside, out of the rain. Christian clasps my hand as we wait for the elevator, his eyes scanning the front of the building.
“I take it you haven’t found Leila yet.”
“No. Welch is still looking for her,” he mutters despondently.
The elevator arrives and in we step. Christian glances down at me, his gray eyes unreadable. Oh, he just looks glorious—tousled hair, white shirt, dark suit. And suddenly it’s there, from nowhere, that feeling. Oh my—the longing, the lust, the electricity. If it were visible, it would be an intense blue aura around and between us it’s so strong. His lips part as he gazes at me.
“Do you feel it?” he breathes.
“Oh, Ana.” He groans and he grabs me, his arms snaking around me, one hand at the nape of my neck, tipping my head back as his lips find mine. My fingers are in his hair and caressing his cheek as he pushes me back against the elevator wall.
“I hate arguing with you,” he breathes against my mouth, and there’s a desperate, passionate quality to his kiss that mirrors mine. Desire explodes in my body, all the tension of the day seeking an outlet, straining against him, seeking more. We’re all tongues and breathing and hands and touch and sweet, sweet sensation. His hand is on my hip, and abruptly he’s pulling up my skirt, his fingers stroking my thighs.
“Sweet Jesus, you’re wearing stockings.” He moans in appreciative awe as his thumb caresses the flesh above my stocking line. “I want to see this,” he breathes, and he pulls my skirt right up, exposing the tops of my thighs.
Stepping back, he reaches over to press the stop button, and the elevator coasts smoothly to a halt between the twenty-second and twenty-third floors. His eyes are dark, lips parted, and he’s breathing as hard as am I. We gaze at each other, not touching. I am grateful for the wall against my back, holding me up while I bask in this beautiful man’s sensual, carnal appraisal.
“Take your hair down,” he orders, his voice husky. I reach up and undo the tie, releasing my hair so it tumbles in a thick cloud around my shoulders to my breasts. “Undo the top two buttons of your shirt,” he whispers, his eyes wilder now.
He makes me feel so wanton. My inner goddess is writhing on her chaise longue, waiting, wanting, and panting. I reach up and undo each button, achingly, slowly, so that the tops of my breasts are tantalizingly revealed.
He swallows. “Do you have any idea how alluring you look right now?”
Very deliberately, I bite my lip and shake my head. He closes his eyes briefly, and when he opens them again, they are blazing. He steps forward and places his hands on the elevator walls on either side of my face. He’s as close as he can be without touching me.
I tip my face up to meet his gaze, and he leans down and runs his nose against mine, so it’s the only contact between us. I am so hot in the confines of this elevator with him. I want him—now.
“I think you do, Miss Steele. I think you like to drive me wild.”
“Do I drive you wild?” I whisper.
“In all things, Anastasia. You are a siren, a goddess.” And he reaches for me, grasping my leg above my knee and hitching it around his waist, so that I am standing on one leg, leaning into him. I feel him against me, feel him hard and wanting above the apex of my thighs as he runs his lips down my throat. I moan and wrap my arms around his neck.
“I’m going to take you now, Anastasia,” he breathes and I arch my back in response, pressing myself against him, eager for the friction. He groans deep and low in the back of his throat and boosts me higher as he undoes his fly.
“Hold tight, baby,” he murmurs, and magically produces a foil packet that he holds in front of my mouth. I take it between my teeth, and he tugs, so that between us, we rip it open.
“Good girl.” He steps back a fraction as he slides on the condom. “God, I can’t wait for the next six days,” he growls and gazes down at me through hooded eyes. “I do hope you’re not overly fond of these panties.” He tears through them with his adept fingers, and they disintegrate in his hands. My blood is pounding through my veins. I am panting with need.
His words are intoxicating, all my angst from the day forgotten. It’s just him and me, doing what we do best. Without taking his eyes off mine, he sinks slowly into me. My body bows and I tilt my head back, closing my eyes, relishing the feel of him inside me. He pulls back and then moves into me again, so slow, so sweet. I groan.
“You’re mine, Anastasia,” he murmurs against my throat.
“Yes. Yours. When will you accept that?” I pant. He groans and starts to move, really move. And I surrender myself to his relentless rhythm, savoring each push and pull, his ragged breathing, his need for me, reflecting mine.
It makes me feel powerful, strong, desired and loved—loved by this captivating, complicated man, whom I love in return with all my heart. He pushes harder and harder, his breathing ragged, losing himself in me as I lose myself in him.
“Oh, baby,” Christian moans, his teeth grazing my jaw, and I come hard around him. He stills, clutches me, and follows suit, whispering my name.
Now that Christian is spent, calm and kissing me gently, his breathing eases. He holds me upright against the elevator wall, our foreheads pressed together, and my body is like jelly, weak but gratifyingly sated from my climax.
“Oh, Ana,” he murmurs. “I need you so much.” He kisses my forehead.
“And I you, Christian.”
Releasing me, he straightens my skirt and does up the two buttons on my shirt, then punches the combination into the keypad that starts the elevator again. It rises with a jolt so that I reach out and clasp his arms.
“Taylor will be wondering where we are,” he grins lasciviously at me.
Oh crap. I drag my fingers through my hair in a vain attempt to combat the just-fucked look, then give up and tie it in a ponytail.
“You’ll do.” Christian smirks as he does up his fly and puts the condom in his pants pocket.
Once more he looks the embodiment of an American entrepreneur, and since his hair looks just fucked most of the time, there’s very little difference. Except now he’s smiling, relaxed, his eyes crinkling with boyish charm. Are all men this easily placated?
Taylor is waiting when the doors open.
“Problem with the elevator,” Christian murmurs as we both step out, and I cannot look either of them in the face. I scurry through the double doors to Christian’s bedroom in search of some fresh underwear.
When I return, Christian has removed his jacket and is sitting at the breakfast bar chatting with Mrs. Jones. She smiles kindly at me as she puts out two plates of hot food for us. Mmm, it smells delicious—coq au vin, if I am not mistaken. I am famished.
“Enjoy, Mr. Grey, Ana,” she says and leaves us to it.
Christian fetches a bottle of white wine from the fridge, and as we sit and eat, he tells me about how much nearer he’s getting to perfecting a solar-powered mobile phone. He’s animated and excited about the whole project, and I know then that he hasn’t had an entirely shitty day.
I ask him about his properties. He smirks, and it turns out he only has the apartment in New York and Aspen, and Escala. Nothing else. When we’re done, I collect his plate and mine and take them to sink.
“Leave that. Gail will do it,” he says. I turn and gaze at him, and he’s watching me intently. Will I ever get used to having someone clean up after me?
“Well, now that you are more docile, Miss Steele, shall we talk about today?”
“I think you’re the one who’s more docile. I think I’m doing a good job in taming you.”
“Taming me?” he snorts, amused. When I nod, he frowns as if reflecting on my words. “Yes. Maybe you are, Anastasia.”
“You were right about Jack,” I murmur, serious now, and I lean across the kitchen island gauging his reaction. Christian’s face falls and his eyes harden.
“Has he tried anything?” he whispers, his voice deathly cold.
I shake my head to reassure him. “No, and he won’t, Christian. I told him today that I’m your girlfriend, and he backed right off.”
“You’re sure? I could fire the fucker.” Christian scowls.
I sigh, emboldened by my glass of wine. “You really have to let me fight my own battles. You can’t constantly second-guess me and try to protect me. It’s stifling, Christian. I’ll never flourish with your incessant interference. I need some freedom. I wouldn’t dream of meddling in your affairs.”
He blinks at me. “I only want you safe, Anastasia. If anything happened to you, I—” He stops.
“I know, and I understand why you feel so driven to protect me. And part of me loves it. I know that if I need you, you’ll be there, as I am for you. But if we are to have any hope of a future together, you have to trust me and trust my judgment. Yes, I’ll get it wrong sometimes—I’ll make mistakes, but I have to learn.”
He stares at me, his expression anxious, spurring me to walk round to him so that I am standing between his legs while he sits on the barstool. Grabbing his hands, I put them around me and place my hands on his arms.
“You can’t interfere in my job. It’s wrong. I don’t need you charging in like a white knight to save the day. I know you want to control everything, and I understand why, but you can’t. It’s an impossible goal . . . you have to learn to let go.” I reach up and stroke his face as he gazes at me, his eyes wide. “And if you can do that—give me that—I’ll move in with you,” I add softly.
He inhales sharply, surprised. “You’d do that?” he whispers.
“But you don’t know me.” He frowns and sounds choked and panicky all of a sudden, very un-Fifty.
“I know you well enough, Christian. Nothing you tell me about yourself will frighten me away.” I gently run my knuckles across his cheek. His expression turns from anxious to dubious. “But if you could just ease up on me,” I plead.
“I’m trying, Anastasia. I couldn’t just stand by and let you go to New York with that . . . sleazeball. He has an alarming reputation. None of his assistants have lasted more than three months, and they’re never retained by the company. I don’t want that for you, baby.” He sighs. “I don’t want anything to happen to you. You being hurt . . . the thought fills me with dread. I can’t promise not to interfere, not if I think you’ll come to harm.” He pauses and takes a deep breath. “I love you, Anastasia. I will do everything in my power to protect you. I cannot imagine my life without you.”
Holy cow. My inner goddess, my subconscious, and I all gape at Fifty in shock.
Jeez, three little words. My world stands still, tilts, then spins on a new axis; and I savor the moment, gazing into his sincere, beautiful gray eyes.
“I love you, too, Christian.” I lean over and kiss him, and the kiss deepens.
Entering unseen, Taylor clears his throat. Christian pulls back, gazing intently at me. He stands, his arm around my waist.
“Yes?” he snaps at Taylor.
“Mrs. Lincoln is on her way up, sir.”
Taylor shrugs apologetically. Christian sighs heavily and shakes his head.
“Well, this should be interesting,” he mutters and gives me a crooked grin of resignation.
Fuck! Why can’t that damned woman leave us alone?

1 comment: