It’s very quiet. The light is muted. I am comfortable and warm, in this bed. Hmm… I open my eyes, and for a moment, I’m tranquil and serene, enjoying the strange unfamiliar surroundings. I have no idea where I am. The headboard behind me is in the shape of a massive sun. It’s oddly familiar. The room is large and airy and plushly furnished in browns and golds and beige. I have seen it before. Where? My befuddled brain struggles through its recent visual memories. Holy crap. I’m in the Heathman hotel… in a suite. I have stood in a room similar to this with Kate. This looks bigger. Oh shit. I’m in Christian Grey’s suite. How did I get here?
Fractured memories of the previous night come slowly back to haunt me. The drinking, oh no the drinking, the phone call, oh no the phone call, the vomiting, oh no the vomiting. José and then Christian. Oh no. I cringe inwardly. I don’t remember coming here. I’m wearing my t-shirt, bra, and panties. No socks. No jeans. Holy shit.
I glance at the bedside table. On it is a glass of orange juice and two tablets. Advil. Control freak that he is, he thinks of everything. I sit up and take the tablets. Actually, I don’t feel that bad, probably much better than I deserve. The orange juice tastes divine. It’s thirst quenching and refreshing. Nothing beats freshly squeezed orange juice for reviving an arid mouth.
There’s a knock on the door. My heart leaps into my mouth, and I can’t seem to find my voice. He opens the door anyway and strolls in.
Holy hell, he’s been working out. He’s in gray sweat pants that hang, in that way, off his hips and a gray singlet, which is dark with sweat, like his hair. Christian Grey’s sweat, the notion does odd things to me. I take a deep breath and close my eyes. I feel like a two-year old, if I close my eyes then I’m not really here.
“Good morning Anastasia. How are you feeling?”
“Better than I deserve,” I mumble.
I peek up at him. He places a large shopping bag on a chair and grasps each end of the towel that he has around his neck. He’s staring at me, gray eyes dark, and as usual, I have no idea what he’s thinking. He hides his thoughts and feelings so well.
“How did I get here?” My voice is small, contrite.
He comes and sits down on the edge of the bed. He’s close enough for me to touch, for me to smell. Oh my… sweat and body wash and Christian, it’s a heady cocktail - so much better than a margarita, and now I can speak from experience.
“After you passed out, I didn’t want to risk the leather upholstery in my car taking you all the way to your apartment. So I brought you here,” he says phlegmatically.
“Did you put me to bed?”
“Yes.” His face is impassive.
“Did I throw up again?” My voice is quieter.
“Did you undress me?” I whisper.
“Yes.” He quirks an eyebrow at me as I blush furiously.
“We didn’t,” I whisper, my mouth drying in mortified horror as I can’t complete the question. I stare at my hands.
“Anastasia, you were comatose. Necrophilia is not my thing. I like my women sentient and receptive,” he says dryly.
“I’m so sorry.”
His mouth lifts slightly in a wry smile.
“It was a very diverting evening. Not one that I’ll forget in a while.”
Me neither – oh he’s laughing at me, the bastard. I didn’t ask him to come and get me. Somehow I’ve been made to feel like the villain of the piece.
“You didn’t have to track me down with whatever James Bond stuff you’re developing for the highest bidder,” I snap at him. He stares at me, surprised, and if I’m not mistaken, a little wounded.
“Firstly, the technology to track cell phones is available over the Internet. Secondly, my company does not invest or manufacture any kind of surveillance devices, and thirdly, if I hadn’t come to get you, you’d probably be waking up in the photographer’s bed, and from what I can remember, you weren’t overly enthused about him pressing his suit,” he says acidly.
Pressing his suit! I glance up at Christian, he’s glaring at me, his gray eyes blazing, aggrieved. I try to bite my lip, but I fail to repress my laughter.
“Which medieval chronicle did you escape from?” I giggle. “You sound like a courtly knight.”
His mood visibly shifts. His eyes soften and his expression warms, and I see a trace of a smile on his beautifully chiseled lips.
“Anastasia, I don’t think so. Dark knight maybe.” His smile is sardonic, and he shakes his head. “Did you eat last night?” His tone is accusatory. I shake my head. What major transgression have I committed now? His jaw clenches, but his face remains impassive.
“You need to eat. That’s why you were so ill. Honestly Anastasia, it’s drinking rule number one.” He runs this hand through his hair, and I know it’s because he’s exasperated.
“Are you going to continue to scold me?”
“Is that what I’m doing?”
“I think so.”
“You’re lucky I’m just scolding you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, if you were mine, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week after the stunt you pulled yesterday. You didn’t eat, you got drunk, you put yourself at risk.” He closes his eyes, dread etched on his lovely face, and he shudders slightly. When he opens his eyes, he glares at me. “I hate to think what could have happened to you.”
I scowl back at him. What is his problem? What’s it to him? If I was his… well I’m not. Though maybe, part of me would like to be. The thought pierces through the irritation I feel at his high-handed words. I flush at the waywardness of my subconscious - she’s doing her happy dance in a bright red hula skirt at the thought of being his.
“I would have been fine. I was with Kate.”
“And the photographer?” he snaps at me.
Hmm… young José. I’ll need to face him at some point.
“José just got out of line.” I shrug.
“Well the next time he gets out of line, maybe someone should teach him some manners.”
“You are quite the disciplinarian,” I hiss at him.
“Oh, Anastasia, you have no idea.” His eyes narrow, and then he grins wickedly. It’s disarming. One minute, I’m confused and angry, the next I’m gazing at his gorgeous smile. Wow… I am entranced, and it’s because his smile is so rare. I quite forget what he’s talking about.
“I’m going to have a shower. Unless you’d like to shower first?” He cocks his head to one side, still grinning. My heartbeat has picked up, and my medulla oblongata has neglected to fire any synapses to make me breathe. His grin widens, and he reaches over and runs his thumb down my cheek and across my lower lip.
“Breathe, Anastasia,” he whispers and rises. “Breakfast will be here in fifteen minutes. You must be famished.” He heads into the bathroom and closes the door.
I let out the breath that I’ve been holding. Why is he so damned attractive? Right now I want to go and join him in the shower. I have never felt this way about anyone. My hormones are racing. My skin tingles where his thumb traced over my face and lower lip. I feel like squirming with a needy, achy… discomfort. I don’t understand this reaction. Hmm… Desire. This is desire. This is what it feels like.
I lie back on the soft feather filled pillows. ‘If you were mine.’ Oh my – what would I do to be his? He’s the only man who has ever set my blood racing around my body. Yet,
he’s so antagonizing too; he’s difficult, complicated, and confusing. One minute he rebuffs me, the next he sends me fourteen-thousand-dollar books, then he tracks me like a stalker. And for all that, I have spent the night in his hotel suite, and I feel safe. Protected. He cares enough to come and rescue me from some mistakenly perceived danger. He’s not a dark knight at all, but a white knight in shining, dazzling armor – a classic romantic hero – Sir Gawain or Lancelot.
I scramble out of his bed frantically searching for my jeans. He emerges from the bathroom wet and glistening from the shower, still unshaven, with just a towel around his waist, and there am I – all bare legs and awkward gawkiness. He’s surprised to see me out of bed.
“If you’re looking for your jeans, I’ve sent them to the laundry.” His gaze is a dark obsidian. “They were spattered with your vomit.”
“Oh.” I flush scarlet. Why oh why does he always catch me on the back foot?
“I sent Taylor out for another pair and some shoes. They’re in the bag on the chair.”
Clean clothes. What an unexpected bonus.
“Um… I’ll have a shower,” I mutter. “Thanks.” What else can I say? I grab the bag and dart into the bathroom away from the unnerving proximity of naked Christian. Michelangelo’s David has nothing on him.
In the bathroom, it’s all hot and steamy from where he’s been showering. I strip off my clothes and quickly clamber into the shower anxious to be under the cleansing stream of water. It cascades over me, and I hold up my face into the welcoming torrent. I want Christian Grey. I want him badly. Simple fact. For the first time in my life, I want to go to bed with a man. I want to feel his hands and his mouth on me.
He said he likes his women sentient. He’s probably not celibate then. But he’s not made a pass at me, unlike Paul or José. I don’t understand. Does he want me? He wouldn’t kiss me last week. Am I repellent to him? And yet, I’m here and he brought me here. I just don’t know what his game is? What he’s thinking? You’ve slept in his bed all night, and he’s not touched you Ana. You do the math. My subconscious has reared her ugly, snide head. I ignore her.
The water is warm and soothing. Hmm… I could stay under this shower, in his bathroom, forever. I reach for the body-wash and it smells of him. It’s a delicious smell. I rub it all over myself, fantasizing that it’s him - him rubbing this heavenly scented soap into my body, across my breasts, over my stomach, between my thighs with his long fingered hands. Oh my. My heartbeat picks up again, this feels so… so good.
“Breakfast is here.” He knocks on the door, startling me.
“Okay,” I stutter as I’m yanked cruelly out of my erotic daydream.
I climb out of the shower and grab two towels. I put my hair in one and wrap it Carmen Miranda style on my head. Hastily, I dry myself, ignoring the pleasurable feel of the towel rubbing against my over-sensitized skin.
I inspect the bag of jeans. Not only has Taylor brought me jeans and new Converse, but a pale blue shirt, socks, and underwear. Oh my. A clean bra and panties – actually to describe them in such a mundane, utilitarian way does not do them justice. They are an exquisite design of some fancy European lingerie. All pale blue lace and finery. Wow. I am in awe and slightly daunted by this underwear. . What’s more, they fit perfectly. But of
course they do. I flush to think of the Buzz-Cut man in some lingerie store buying this for me. I wonder what else is in his job description.
I dress quickly. The rest of the clothing is a perfect fit. I brusquely towel-dry my hair and try desperately to bring it under control. But, as usual, it refuses to cooperate, and my only option is to restrain it with a hair tie. I shall search in my purse, when I find it. I take a deep breath. Time to face Mr. Confusing.
I’m relieved to find the bedroom empty. I hunt quickly for my purse – but it’s not in here. Taking another deep breath, I enter the living area of the suite. It’s huge. There’s an opulent, plush seating area, all overstuffed couches and soft cushions, an elaborate coffee table with a stack of large glossy books, a study area with a top-of-the-range Mac, an enormous plasma screen TV on the wall, and Christian is sitting at a dining table on the other side of the room reading a newspaper. It’s the size of a tennis court or something, not that I play tennis, though I have watched Kate a few times. Kate!
“Crap, Kate,” I croak. Christian peers up at me.
“She knows you’re here and still alive. I texted Elliot,” he says with just a trace of humor.
Oh no. I remember her fervent dancing of the night before. All her patented moves used with maximum effect to seduce Christian’s brother no less! What’s she going to think about me being here? I’ve never stayed out before. She’s still with Elliot. She’s only done this twice before, and both times I’ve had to endure the hideous pink PJs for a week from the fallout. She’s going to think I’ve had a one-night stand too.
Christian stares at me imperiously. He’s wearing a white linen shirt, collar and cuffs undone.
“Sit,” he commands, pointing to a place at the table. I make my way across the room and sit down opposite him as I’ve been directed. The table is laden with food.
“I didn’t know what you liked, so I ordered a selection from the breakfast menu.” He gives me a crooked, apologetic smile.
“That’s very profligate of you,” I murmur, bewildered by the choice, though I am hungry.
“Yes, it is.” He sounds guilty.
I opt for pancakes, maple syrup, scrambled eggs, and bacon. Christian tries to hide a smile as he returns to his egg white omelet. The food is delicious.
“Tea?” he asks.
He passes me a small teapot of hot water and on the saucer is a Twining’s English Breakfast teabag. Jeez, he remembers how I like my tea.
“Your hair’s very damp,” he scolds.
“I couldn’t find the hairdryer,” I mutter, embarrassed. Not that I looked.
Christian’s mouth presses into a hard line, but he doesn’t say anything.
“Thank you for organizing the clothes.”
“It’s a pleasure, Anastasia. That color suits you.”
I blush and stare down at my fingers.
“You know, you really should learn to take a compliment.” His tone is castigating.
“I should give you some money for these clothes.”
He glares at me as if I have offended him on some level. I hurry on.
“You’ve already given me the books, which, of course, I can’t accept. But these clothes, please let me pay you back.” I smile tentatively at him.
“Anastasia, trust me, I can afford it.”
“That’s not the point. Why should you buy these for me?”
“Because I can,” his eyes flash with a wicked gleam.
“Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should,” I reply quietly as he arches an eyebrow at me, his eyes twinkling, and suddenly I feel that we’re talking about something else, but I don’t know what it is. Which reminds me…
“Why did you send me the books, Christian?” My voice is soft. He puts down his cutlery and regards me intently, his gray eyes burning with some unfathomable emotion. Holy crap – my mouth dries.
“Well, when you were nearly run over by the cyclist – and I was holding you and you were looking up at me – all kiss me, kiss me, Christian,” he pauses and shrugs slightly, “I felt I owed you an apology and a warning.” He runs his hand through his hair. “Anastasia, I’m not a hearts and flowers kind of man, I don’t do romance. My tastes are very singular. You should steer clear from me.” He closes his eyes as if in defeat. “There’s something about you, though, and I’m finding it impossible to stay away. But I think you’ve figured that out already.”
My appetite vanishes. He can’t stay away!
“Then don’t,” I whisper.
He gasps, his eyes wide.
“You don’t know what you’re saying.”
“Enlighten me, then.”
We sit gazing at each other, neither of us touching our food.
“You’re not celibate then?” I breathe.
Amusement lights up his gray eyes.
“No, Anastasia, I’m not celibate.” He pauses for this information to sink in, and I flush scarlet. The mouth-to-brain filter is broken again. I can’t believe I’ve just said that out loud.
“What are your plans for the next few days?” he asks, his voice low.
“I’m working today, from midday. What is the time?” I panic suddenly.
“It’s just after ten, you’ve plenty of time. What about tomorrow?” He has his elbows on the table, and his chin is resting on his long steepled fingers.
“Kate and I are going to start packing. We’re moving to Seattle next weekend, and I’m working at Clayton’s all this week.”
“You have a place in Seattle already?”
“I can’t remember the address. It’s in the Pike Market District.”
“Not far from me,” his lips twitch up in a half smile. “So what are you going to do for work in Seattle?”
Where is he going with all these questions? The Christian Grey Inquisition is almost as irritating as the Katherine Kavanagh Inquisition.
“I’ve applied for some internships. I’m waiting to hear.”
“Have you applied to my company as I suggested?”
I flush… of course not.
“And what’s wrong with my company?”
“Your company or your Company?” I smirk.
He smiles slightly.
“Are you smirking at me, Miss Steele?” He cocks his head to one side, and I think he looks amused, but it’s hard to tell. I flush and glance down at my unfinished breakfast. I can’t look him in the eye when he uses that tone of voice.
“I’d like to bite that lip,” he whispers darkly.
Oh my. I am completely unaware that I am chewing my bottom lip. My mouth pops open as I gasp and swallow at the same time. That has to be the sexiest thing anybody has ever said to me. My heart beat spikes, and I think I’m panting. Jeez, I’m a quivering, moist mess, and he hasn’t even touched me. I squirm in my seat and meet his dark glare.
“Why don’t you?” I challenge quietly.
“Because I’m not going to touch you Anastasia - not until I have your written consent to do so.” His lips hint at a smile.
“What does that mean?”
“Exactly what I say.” He sighs and shakes his head at me, amused, but exasperated too. “I need to show you, Anastasia. What time do you finish work this evening?”
“Well, we could go to Seattle this evening or next Saturday for dinner at my place, and I’ll acquaint you with the facts then. The choice is yours.”
“Why can’t you tell me now?” I sound petulant.
“Because I’m enjoying my breakfast and your company. Once you’re enlightened, you probably won’t want to see me again.”
Holy shit. What does that mean? Does he white-slave small children to some God-forsaken part of the planet? Is he part of some underworld crime syndicate? It would explain why he’s so rich. Is he deeply religious? Is he impotent? Surely not, he could prove that to me right now. Oh my. I flush scarlet thinking about the possibilities. This is getting me nowhere. I’d like to solve the riddle that is Christian Grey sooner rather than later. If it means that whatever secret he has is so gross that I don’t want to know him any more then, quite frankly, it will be a relief. Don’t lie to yourself – my subconscious yells at me– it’ll have to be pretty bloody bad to have you running for the hills.
He raises an eyebrow.
“Like Eve, you’re so quick to eat from the tree of knowledge,” he smirks.
“Are you smirking at me, Mr. Grey?” I ask sweetly. Pompous ass.
He narrows his eyes at me and picks up his BlackBerry. He presses one number.
“Taylor. I’m going to need Charlie Tango.”
Charlie Tango! Who’s he?
“From Portland at say twenty-thirty... No, standby at Escala… All night.”
“Yes. On call tomorrow morning. I’ll pilot from Portland to Seattle.”
“Standby pilot from twenty-two-thirty.” He puts the phone down. No please or thank you.
“Do people always do what you tell them?”
“Usually, if they want to keep their jobs,” he says, deadpan.
“And if they don’t work for you?”
“Oh, I can be very persuasive, Anastasia. You should finish your breakfast. And then I’ll drop you home. I’ll pick you up at Clayton’s at eight when you finish. We’ll fly up to Seattle.”
I blink at him rapidly.
“Yes. I have a helicopter.”
I gape at him. I have my second date with Christian oh-so-mysterious Grey. From coffee to helicopter rides. Wow.
“We’ll go by helicopter to Seattle?”
He grins wickedly.
“Because I can. Finish your breakfast.”
How can I eat now? I’m going to Seattle by helicopter with Christian Grey. And he wants to bite my lip… I squirm at the thought
“Eat,” he says more sharply. “Anastasia, I have an issue with wasted food… eat.”
“I can’t eat all this.” I gape at what’s left on the table.
“Eat what’s on your plate. If you’d eaten properly yesterday, you wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t be declaring my hand so soon.” His mouth sets in a grim line. He looks angry.
I frown and return to my now cold food. I’m too excited to eat, Christian. Don’t you understand? My subconscious explains. But I’m too much of a coward to voice these thoughts aloud, especially when he looks so sullen. Hmm, like a small boy. I find the thought amusing.
“What’s so funny?” he asks. I shake my head, not daring tell him and keep my eyes on my food. Swallowing my last piece of pancake, I peek up at him. He’s eyeing me speculatively.
“Good girl,” he says. “I’ll take you home when you’ve dried your hair. I don’t want you getting ill.” There’s some kind of unspoken promise in his words. What does he mean? I leave the table, wondering for a moment if I should ask permission but dismissing the idea. Sounds like a dangerous precedent to set. I head back to his bedroom. A thought stops me.
“Where did you sleep last night?” I turn to gaze at him still sitting in the dining room chair. I can’t see any blankets or sheets out here – perhaps he’s had them tidied away.
“In my bed,” he says simply, his gaze impassive again.
“Yes, it was quite a novelty for me too.” He smiles.
“Not having… sex.” There – I said the word. I blush – of course.
“No,” he shakes his head and frowns as if recalling something uncomfortable. “Sleeping with someone.” He picks up his newspaper and continues to read.
What in heaven’s name does that mean? He’s never slept with anyone? He’s a virgin? Somehow I doubt that. I stand staring at him in disbelief. He is the most mystifying person I’ve ever met. And it dawns on me that I have slept with Christian Grey, and I kick myself – what would I have given to be conscious to watch him sleep. See him vulnerable. Somehow, I find that hard to imagine. Well, allegedly all will be revealed tonight.
In his bedroom, I hunt through a chest of drawers and find the hair dryer. Using my fingers, I dry my hair the best I can. When I’ve finished, I head into the bathroom. I want to clean my teeth. I eye Christian’s toothbrush. It would be like having him in my mouth. Hmm… Glancing guiltily over my shoulder at the door, I feel the bristles on the toothbrush. They are damp. He must have used it already. Grabbing it quickly, I squirt toothpaste on it and brush my teeth in double quick time. I feel so naughty. It’s such a thrill.
Grabbing my t-shirt, bra, and panties from yesterday, I put them in the shopping bag that Taylor brought and head back to the living area to hunt for my bag and jacket. Deep joy, there is a hair tie in my bag. Christian is watching me as I tie my hair into a ponytail, his expression unreadable. I feel his eyes follow me as I sit down and wait for him to finish. He’s on his BlackBerry talking to someone.
“They want two?… How much will that cost?... Okay, and what safety measures do we have in place?… And they’ll go via Suez?… How safe is Ben Sudan?... And when do they arrive in Darfur?... Okay, let’s do it. Keep me abreast of progress.” He hangs up.
“Ready to go?”
I nod. I wonder what his conversation was about. He slips on a navy pinstriped jacket, picks up his car keys, and heads for the door.
“After you, Miss Steele,” he murmurs, opening the door for me. He looks so casually elegant.
I pause, fractionally too long, drinking in the sight of him. And to think I slept with him last night and, after all the tequila and the throwing up, he’s still here. What’s more, he wants to take me to Seattle. Why me? I don’t understand it. I head out the door recalling his words – There’s something about you – Well the feeling is entirely mutual Mr. Grey, and I aim to find out what it is.
We walk in silence down the corridor toward the elevator. As we wait, I peek up at him through my lashes, and he looks out of the corner of his eyes down at me. I smile, and his lips twitch.
The elevator arrives, and we step in. We’re alone. Suddenly, for some inexplicable reason, possibly our proximity in such an enclosed space, the atmosphere between us changes, charging with an electric, exhilarating anticipation. My breathing alters as my heart races. His head turns fractionally toward me, his eyes darkest slate. I bite my lip.
“Oh, fuck the paperwork,” he growls. He lunges at me, pushing me against the wall of the elevator. Before I know it, he’s got both of my hands in one of his in a vice-like grip above my head, and he’s pinning me to the wall using his hips. Holy shit. His other hand grabs my ponytail and yanks down, bringing my face up, and his lips are on mine. It’s only just not painful. I moan into his mouth, giving his tongue an opening. He takes full
advantage, his tongue expertly exploring my mouth. I have never been kissed like this. My tongue tentatively strokes his and joins his in a slow erotic dance that’s all about touch and sensation, all bump and grind. He brings his hand up to grasp my chin and holds me in place. I am helpless, my hands pinned, my face held, and his hips restraining me. . I feel his erection against my belly. Oh my… He wants me. Christian Grey, Greek god, wants me, and I want him, here… now, in the elevator.
“You. Are. So. Sweet,” he murmurs, each word a staccato.
The elevator stops, the doors open, and he pushes away from me in the blink of an eye, leaving me hanging. Three men in business suits look at both of us and smirk as they climb on board. My heart rate is through the roof, I feel like I’ve run an uphill race. I want to lean over and grasp my knees… but that’s just too obvious.
I glance up at him. He looks so cool and calm, like he’s been doing the Seattle Times crossword. How unfair. Is he totally unaffected by my presence? He glances at me out of the corner of his eye, and he gently blows out a deep breath. Oh, he’s affected all right – and my very small inner goddess sways in a gentle victorious samba. The businessmen exit on the second floor. We have one more floor to travel.
“You’ve brushed your teeth,” he says, staring at me.
“I used your toothbrush,” I breathe.
His lips quirk up in a half smile.
“Oh, Anastasia Steele, what am I going to do with you?”
The doors open at the first floor, and he takes my hand and pulls me out.
“What is it about elevators?” he mutters, more to himself than to me as he strides across the lobby. I struggle to keep pace with him because my wits have been thoroughly, royally, scattered all over the floor and walls of elevator three in the Heathman Hotel.