Read Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian (Fifty Shades 4) Online, Free Novels Online, Read Book Online, Listen Novels Online. She wriggles beneath me, testing her bindings, but the tie holds fast. She's not escaping. “That's better.” I smile with relief because I have her where I want her. [PDF] E.L. James Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian June . To Kill a Mockingbird-Harper Lee he unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy.
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[PDF] E.L. James Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian. The critically acclaimed, bestselling novel from Gayle Forman, author of Where She Went. CHRISTIAN GREY exercises control in all things; his world is neat, It's novel. And she's leaving. And I don't want her to go. “Good luck with your exams. I told you, I don't sleep with anyone, except you when you're stupefied with drink. Here you can get it directly ⇰ File formats: ePub, PDF, site, audiobook, mobi, ZIP.⇩ Darker: Fifty Shades Darker as Told by Christian (Fifty Shades of Grey.
Anne Messitte, for your faith in me. I will forever be indebted to you. Niall Leonard, for your love, support, and guidance, and for being less grumpy. Valerie Hoskins, my agent—thank you for everything every day. Kathleen Blandino, for the pre-read, and for all things Web. Brian Brunetti, once again, for your invaluable insight into helicopter accidents. Laura Edmonston for sharing your knowledge of the Pacific Northwest.
Professor Chris Collins, for enlightening me about soil science. Ruth, Debra, Helena, and Liv for the encouragement and word challenges, and for making me get this done. Dawn and Daisy, for your friendship and advice. Thank you for the Americanisms. And all my author and book world friends—you know who you are—you inspire me every day.
And lastly, thank you to my children. I love you unconditionally. I will always be so proud of the wonderful young men you have become. You bring me such joy. Stay golden. Both of you. My heart is thumping. I shift in my seat in the rear of the car. Damn it. Where is she? SIP is mine. Taylor clears his throat and his eyes dart to mine in the rearview mirror.
Am I that obvious? But why? But today has been different. My optimism has driven me through my meetings with enthusiasm. Ten hours until I see her. Seven…My patience has been tested by the clock as it ticks closer to my reunion with Miss Anastasia Steele. Will it be a reunion? Or am I just the free ride to Portland? I check my watch again. Why does time move so slowly?
Leaning back, I run through her recent emails in my mind. Maybe I am the free ride. I dismiss the thought and stare at the doorway, willing her to appear. The door opens and my heart soars into overdrive but then quickly stutters with disappointment. She has always kept me waiting. Tess… I wonder if she still has them.
She wanted to give them back to me; she wanted to give them to a charity. The memory is unwelcome. I made her that miserable.
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I took everything too far, too quickly. And it fills me with a despair that has become all too familiar since she left. Damn it, Grey. Stay positive. All is not lost. Your plans are in place. You are going to win her back. More people leave the building, but still no Ana. Taylor is pacing outside and glancing toward the front door. Christ, he looks as nervous as I feel. What the hell is it to him?
My watch says Raking my hand through my hair, I try to dismiss my doubts, but they continue to plague me. Am I just a free ride to her? Will she have missed me? Will she want me back? Is there someone else? I have no idea. This is worse than waiting for her in the Marble Bar, and the irony is not lost on me. Nothing turns out as I expect with Miss Anastasia Steele. Panic knots my stomach once more. Today, I have to negotiate a bigger deal. I want her back. She said she loved me… My heart rate spikes in response to the adrenaline that floods my body.
Calm down, Grey. Shock sucks the breath from my body like a kick to the solar plexus. Her hair, burnished by the early-evening sun, sways in the breeze as she moves. Her face is pale, almost translucent. Guilt lances through me. My concern at her appearance turns to anger. She glances at some random guy behind her and he gives her a broad smile. Their carefree exchange only fuels my rage.
He watches her with blatant male appreciation as she walks toward the car, and my wrath increases with each of her steps. Taylor opens the door and offers her his hand to help her climb inside. And suddenly she is sitting beside me. Her blue eyes peer up at me, stripping me bare and leaving me as raw as they did the first time I met her. Answer me. I try, really try, to keep a rein on my temper. Taylor pulls away from the curb, and Ana waves to the prick who followed her out of the building.
I recall the employee details I flipped through this morning: from Detroit, scholarship to Princeton, worked his way up at a publishing firm in New York but has moved on every few years, working his way across the country.
Focus on the matter at hand, Grey. Your last meal? Tell me. She sighs in frustration and rolls her eyes to piss me off. And I see it—a soft smile pulling at the corner of her mouth. I find myself mirroring her, and I try to mask my smile. Jesus H. What do I do with her? She looks down, examining her hands, her face paler and sadder than it was before.
And I drink her in, trying to fathom what to do. An unwelcome emotion blooms in my chest, threatening to overwhelm me but I push it aside. As I study her it becomes achingly clear that my biggest fear is unfounded.
The thought is at once comforting and distressing. I did this to her. How can I ever win her back? My task suddenly feels too daunting. She will never want me back. Get a grip, Grey. I damp down my fear and make a plea. Please eat, Anastasia. What else can I say? She sits still, lost in her own thoughts, staring straight ahead, and I have time to study her profile. I want to reach out and stroke her cheek.
I turn my body toward her, itching to touch her. But her words give me a modicum of hope. Encouraged, I cling to that thought. I miss you.
Her hand feels small and ice-cold engulfed in the warmth of mine. We need to talk. Oh, the feel of her. Laughter at home. Bright eyes, full of humor and mischief…and desire. My sweet, sweet Ana. Emboldened, I take a risk and, closing my eyes, I kiss her hair.
But I must be careful. I hold her, enjoying the feel of her in my arms and this simple moment of tranquility. It would take at least three hours to drive. Taylor opens her door and I climb out on my side. Damn right. Handkerchiefs are my business, not his.
Flashes of her vomiting on the ground, me holding back her hair, run through my head. I gave her my handkerchief then. I never got it back. And later that night I watched her sleep beside me. Perhaps she still has it. Perhaps she still uses it. Taking her hand—the chill has gone, but her hand is still cool—I lead her into the building. As we reach the elevator, I recall our encounter at The Heathman.
That first kiss. The thought wakes my body. But the doors open, distracting me, and reluctantly I release her to usher her inside. But I sense her. All of her. I swallow. Darkening eyes look up at mine. Oh, Ana. Her proximity is arousing. She inhales sharply and looks at the floor.
She looks up at me, her fathomless eyes clouding with desire. I want her. She bites her lip. Will I always want her like this? I want to kiss her, press her into the elevator wall like I did during our first kiss. I want to fuck her here, and make her mine again. She blinks, her lips gently parted, and I suppress a groan. How does she do this? Derail me with a look? The doors slide open and the rush of cold air brings me back to the now.
Anastasia shivers beside me. I wrap my arm around her and she huddles in to my side. She feels too slight, but her petite frame fits perfectly under my arm.
We fit together so well, Ana. We head out onto the helipad toward Charlie Tango. Stephan, my pilot, runs toward us. We shake hands, and I keep Anastasia tucked under my arm.
Safe flight to Portland. We duck down under the rotors and I open the door, taking her hand to help her climb aboard. As I strap her into the seat, her breath hitches. The sound travels straight to my groin. I run the back of my index finger down her cheek, tracing the line of her blush.
Lord, I want this woman. I hand her some headphones, take my seat, and buckle up. I run through my preflight checks. All instruments are in the green with no advisory lights.
It all looks good. I don my headphones, switch on the radios, and check the rotor rpm. Once I have permission to take off, I check the oil temperature and the rest of the gauges. Oh, I love this. Feeling a little more confident as we gain altitude, I glance at Miss Steele beside me.
Time to dazzle her. Showtime, Grey. Now the dusk. Hope stirs in my chest. I have her here when I thought all was lost and she seems happier now than when she walked out of her office. Flynn would be proud.
I can do this. I can win her back. Baby steps, Grey. Boeing there—and you can just see the Space Needle. We can eat there. That is not what I want to hear, but I try not to overreact. I can still take you there. And feed you. Thank you. Keep her talking, Grey. Has he tried anything with her? I will fire his ass if he has.
I like that she mocks and teases me. Concentrate, Grey. She looks away, concealing her smile, and stares down at the suburbs passing beneath us while I check the heading. Her face is lit with curiosity and wonder as she gazes out at the landscape below and the opal sky. Her cheeks are soft and glowing in the evening light. How could I have let her walk out of my life? What was I thinking? While we race above the clouds in our bubble, high in the sky, my optimism grows and the turmoil of the last week recedes.
I could get used to this. But as we near our destination my confidence falters. I hope to God that my plan works. I need to take her somewhere private.
To dinner, maybe. I should have booked a table somewhere. She needs feeding. These last few days have shown me that I need someone—I need her. I want her, but will she have me? Can I convince her to give me a second chance?
[PDF] Darker: Fifty Shades Darker as Told by Christian (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Time will tell, Grey—just take it easy. But will it be enough for her? Will it be enough for me? Talk to her, Grey. As ever, she smells good. Her eyes meet mine in a furtive glance—revealing an inappropriate thought? What exactly is she thinking? Joe, the manager of the helipad, is waiting to greet us. Nothing escapes his notice. His eyes light up as he gives me a craggy smile. A pleasing vision of them hooked over my shoulders springs to mind. Putting my arm around her waist, I pull her to my side and we descend the stairs.
The man who, last time I saw him, was trying to push his tongue into her mouth. Perhaps this is a long-anticipated rendezvous between them. Since when? Since she stripped me of all my armor and I discovered that I needed her. She stares at me and my stomach tightens. Fuck this. I want you back, and I want you healthy. We pull up at the gallery and I have no time to explain before the show.
She looks mad as she climbs out. Where you want to be. The space is brightly lit and airy. A young woman greets us.
Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian PDF Download Free
Look elsewhere. She shakes her head and her frown deepens. I shrug. Well, this is Portland. For his part, he looks really fucking interested in her. Too interested. Anger flares in my chest. He wants more. Red or white? Tuning him out, I glance at Ana. She looks sensational. Her hair frames her face and falls in a lush cascade to curl at her breasts. Her dress, looser than I remember, still hugs her curves. She might have worn it deliberately. Hot dress, hot boots… Fuck—control yourself, Grey.
She nods at something he says and gives him a warm, carefree smile. He leans down and kisses her cheek. I glare at the bartender.
Hurry up, man. At least Rodriguez has left her alone. She glances up at me with a guarded expression as I hand her a glass.
I take a quick sip from mine. Rarely does at these kinds of events. It irks me. She admires him and takes an interest in his success because she cares about him. She cares about him too much.
An ugly emotion with a bitter sting rises in my chest. I want to tell him to fuck off but decide to be polite. The photographer takes a few snaps. Grey, thank you.
She peers at me. Are you gay, Mr. Her open and honest compassion is written all over her lovely face as she reaches for her wine. This is my chance. Ask her, Grey. I need to know. Can she? I want to stop thinking about that right now, and with impeccable timing, the waiter returns with our meal.
The woman needs feeding. She examines the contents of her plate with distaste. And it will have nothing to do with my sexual gratification. Stow your twitching palm, please.
She picks up her cutlery with stubborn reluctance but she takes one bite, closes her eyes, and licks her lips in satisfaction. The sight of her tongue is enough to provoke a response from my body—already in a heightened state from our kiss in the alley.
Hell, not again! I stop my response in its tracks. Slicing into my steak, I take a bite. We continue to eat, watching each other but saying nothing. This is good. Her reaction to the kiss in the alley was…visceral. She still wants me. She interrupts my reverie. Listening to this singer reminds me that I have the iPad for Ana. I hope that she lets me give it to her, and that she likes it.
In addition to the music I uploaded yesterday, I spent some time this morning adding more features—photographs of the glider on my desk and of the two of us at her graduation ceremony and a few apps, too. I shake my head. Have I eaten enough for Sir? As if on cue, my phone vibrates in my jacket pocket, signaling a message. I glance at my watch. The thought of deferring my desire displeases me. Ana reminds me that I need to be up for work, too.
Besides, this way I have you in the car all to myself—for a few hours, at least. What can we do but talk? I shift uncomfortably in my chair. Stage three of the campaign has not gone as smoothly as I anticipated.
But I can turn this around and close the deal in the car. Summoning the waiter, I ask for the check, then call Taylor. He answers on the second ring. Tell her. Tell her, now, Grey. The waiter returns and I give him my card, but I keep my attention on Ana. My heart rate accelerates. I hope she goes for this…or I really will be lost. The waiter hands me the credit card slip to sign. I enter an obscene tip and sign my name with a flourish.
The waiter seems excessively grateful. My phone buzzes and I scan the text. The waiter gives me my card back and disappears. Her breathing accelerates. Oh, that sound. I glance at her face. Her lips are parted, cheeks pink and eyes wide. The sight fills me with hope and desire.
I stifle my impulses and lead her through the restaurant and outside, where Taylor is waiting at the curb in the Q7. I have an idea. Taylor gets out to open the door for me. Do you have your iPod and headphones? Use them on the way home. As ever, he surprises me. Taking a deep breath, I climb into the car. He regards me for a second in the mirror and pulls out into the light evening traffic. Anastasia is watching me when I turn to face her.
I call him again, then lean over and tap his shoulder. He removes an earbud. Here goes. How to begin? Do you want a regular vanilla relationship, with no kinky fuckery at all? Oh, baby, so do I. Step one…okay. Keep cool, Grey. She knows me. She has seen the monster. I ignore her first comment and concentrate on her second point.
How can I protect myself from that? And suppose she does something stupid that puts herself at risk? Okay, million-dollar question. She shifts in her seat, and a silent, sweet joy unfurls deep in my gut. Oh, baby, I love it when you squirm. I cross my legs. So we may be able to structure a relationship around this. Deep breath, Grey, give her the terms. Do the vanilla thing and then maybe, once you trust me more— and I trust you to be honest and to communicate with me—we could move on and do some of the things that I like to do.
My heart rate escalates; blood thrums through my body, pounding past my eardrums as I wait for her reaction.
My well-being hangs in the balance. And she says…nothing! She stares at me as we pass under a streetlight and I see her clearly. Her eyes still impossibly large in her beautiful, thinner, sadder face. I close my eyes. These last few days have been hell.
I see your pain. You are exquisite, honest, warm, strong, witty, beguilingly innocent; the list is endless. I am in awe of you. I want you, and the thought of anyone else having you is like a knife twisting in my dark soul. Flowery, Grey! Real flowery. Last Saturday was such a shock to my system. It was my wake-up call. Then, after I left, it dawned on me that the physical pain you inflicted was not as bad as the pain of losing you. It swings from north to south and back again in a nanosecond.
She said it again; the three potent words I cannot bear. And touching. But before I can respond, before the darkness takes hold, she unfastens her seatbelt and crawls across the seat and into my lap, ambushing me. She places her hands on either side of my head, staring into my eyes, and I stop breathing. Where do I sign?
Anxiety turns to joy. It expands in my chest, lighting me up from head to toe, spreading warmth in its wake. I get her back. She snuggles into my arms, her head on my shoulder, and we listen to the Rachmaninov. I go over her words. She loves me.
I can live with this. I must. I need to protect her and her vulnerable heart. Except the touching. I have to make her understand—manage her expectations. Gently I stroke her back.
I wish I understood why. Shall I tell her? Why would she want to know this shit? My shit? Maybe I can hint at it, give her a clue.
Not the burn. The smell. Like old and nasty. Like trash. Like drains. He drinks brown licker. From a bottle. He always shouts. His hand hits me across my face.
And again. I fight him. But he laughs. And takes a puff. The end of the cigarette shines bright red and orange. The pain. I howl. He has two teeth gone. I shudder as my memories and nightmares float together like smoke from his discarded cigarette, fogging my brain, dragging me back to a time of fear and impotence. I tell Ana I remember it all and she tightens her hold on me.
Her cheek on my neck. Her soft, warm skin against mine, bringing me back to the now. Your mother? She was neglectful. When she finally killed herself, it took four days for someone to raise the alarm and find us. I remember that.
Anastasia gasps. My sweet, compassionate Ana. I tighten my hold on her and kiss her hair as she nestles in my arms. Baby, it was a long time ago.
My exhaustion catches up with me. Several sleepless nights plagued with nightmares have taken their toll. I want to stop thinking.
I never had nightmares when she was sleeping at my side. Leaning back, I close my eyes, saying nothing, because I have nothing more to say. Like me. I hold her, enjoying her weight on me, honored that she can sleep on me.
Now all I have to do is keep her, which will be challenging enough. My first vanilla relationship—who would have thought? I dare a quick peek at Elena as her scarlet lips curl into a smile and she crosses her arms, flogger in hand. You may speak. I have a place at Harvard. Her eyes flash. I see. She walks around me as I stand naked in her basement. That, and the smell of her expensive perfume. My body begins to respond. She laughs. And I try, really try, to bring my body to heel.
Though perhaps you should be rewarded for good behavior, she purrs. And she hits me again, across my chest this time, but soft, more playful. The flogger flies again, stinging my ass, and my legs quiver in response.
Hold still, she warns. And I stand straight, waiting for the next blow. My eyes spring open and I glance at her in alarm. Eyes down, she commands. And I stare at my feet as panic overwhelms me. She grabs my face, her nails biting into my skin. You will. Her ice-blue eyes burn into mine, scarlet lips twisted in a snarl. She laughs and pushes me away and raises her hand. But the blow never comes. When I open my eyes, Ana stands before me. She caresses my cheek and smiles. I love you, she says.
And for a moment I feel giddy. A stupid grin splits my face and I shake my head. Have I ever felt like this? There are so many possibilities. I kiss her hair and rest my chin on her head. I gaze down at my sleeping beauty. Her lips are gently parted, her dark lashes fanned out, shadowing her face.
And I remember watching her sleep at The Heathman, that first time. She looked so peaceful then; she looks peaceful now. Her eyelashes flutter and she opens her eyes. I want to laugh out loud. She squirms in my lap. I still her with my hands. Tell me what she needs. I want her to be confident enough to express her desires.
All of them. I lift her off my lap when Taylor pulls up at the curb beside her apartment. I climb out of the car, walk to her door, and open it for her. She looks sleepy and adorable as she struggles out of the car.
Will she accept my gift? This is the final stage of my campaign to win her back. Opening the trunk, I grab the gift box that contains her Mac, her phone, and an iPad. She looks from the box to me with suspicion. We both need to sleep. I must chase Welch for his report on Hyde. Leaning down, I cup her chin in my fingers. I want to kiss her hard, but I hold back and trace soft kisses from her temple to her mouth.
She moans and the sweet sound travels straight to my cock. Oh, baby. Not now. My body ignores my noble gesture and stiffens in anticipation. I shake my head, amazed as ever by my lust for Ana. Go to bed, Ana, I will her. As if she hears me, she closes the door, and Taylor starts the car to head home to Escala. I lean back in my seat.
What a difference a day makes. I grin. I imagine her in her apartment, opening the box. Will she be pissed? Or will she be delighted?
She never took kindly to gifts. Was it a step too far? Once inside, I check my phone to see if she has anything to say about the gifts. I love the iPad. I love the songs.
I love the British Library app. I love you. Good night. Ana xx I grin at the screen. Happy tears, great! She loves it. No one can love a monster, no matter how compassionate they are. Quickly, I type a response to her e-mail. I bought one for myself. Now, if I were there, I would kiss away your tears.
I want her well rested for tomorrow. From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Mr. I know something that could ease that. Ana xx P. Flynn know? And there it is. The Anastasia Steele wit. I have missed it. I sit down on the edge of the bed and compose my reply.
Usually consensually and in a sexual context…but I am more than happy to make an exception. Flynn also enjoys my sense of humor. Incidentally—you will beg, trust me. And I look forward to it. I watch my phone, waiting for her reply. And, sure enough, her response appears. From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Good Night, Sweet Dreams Date: June 10 To: Christian Grey Well, since you ask so nicely, and I like your delicious threat, I shall curl up with the iPad that you have so kindly given me and fall asleep browsing in the British Library, listening to the music that says it for you.
A xxx She likes my threat? Then I remember her squirming in the car while we talked of spanking. I get up and wander into my closet to take off my jacket while I think of something to say. She wants a softer approach; surely I can think of something. And then it comes to me. Dream of me. I want to be the only one in her head.
Not that photographer. Not her boss. Just me.
What a pleasant surprise. Ah, a good response. I need to stock up on a few things. Her lips are still parted in surprise, and I have to resist the urge to tip her chin up and close her mouth.
What can I help you with, Mr. Game on, Miss Steele. Oh, this is going to be fun. Shall I show you? Lead the way. Louboutins…nothing but Louboutins. Hope blooms in my chest. I smirk.
Letting her walk ahead gives me the space and time to admire her fantastic ass. Her long, thick ponytail keeps time like a metronome to the gentle sway of her hips. She really is the whole package: But the million-dollar question is, could she be a submissive? She probably knows nothing of the lifestyle—my lifestyle—but I very much want to introduce her to it. You are getting way ahead of yourself on this deal, Grey. It makes me want to laugh. Women rarely make me laugh.
Her face falls, and I feel like a shit. Is she laughing at me? But how to start? Maybe with dinner, rather than the usual interview…now, that would be novel: We arrive at the cable ties, which are arranged in an assortment of lengths and colors. Absentmindedly, my fingers trace over the packets.
I could just ask her out for dinner. Like on a date? Would she accept? I select the longer ties. They are more flexible, after all, as they can accommodate two ankles and two wrists at once.
Engage her in some conversation. Unlike some people, I do my research. Christ, this girl is shy. I follow her eagerly, like a puppy. She bends down and grasps two rolls, each a different width.
As she passes it to me, the tips of our fingers touch, briefly. It resonates in my groin. She pales. I groan inwardly, trying to chase away the image of her suspended from the ceiling in my playroom.
A tremor runs through her fingers, but she measures out five yards like a pro. Pulling a utility knife from her right pocket, she cuts the rope in one swift gesture, coils it neatly, and ties it off with a slipknot.
The usual. The classics. British literature, mainly. All those romantic hearts-and-flowers types. What else would you recommend?
I want to hoot with laughter. Oh, baby, DIY is not my thing. I nod, stifling my mirth. Her eyes flick down my body and I tense. I put her out of her misery.
Heaven forbid I should ruin any clothing. Christ, she does things to me. She looks up and gives me a brief relieved smile. Miss Kavanagh. Publicity stills, eh? I can do that. It will allow me to spend time with the delectable Miss Steele. Work from a hotel. A room at The Heathman, perhaps. I give her a brief nod. Yeah, I want to spend more time with you… Steady, Grey.
It has my cell number on it. The thought depresses me. His eyes are all over Miss Anastasia Steele. Who the hell is this prick? My blood runs cold. Get your fucking paws off her. They fall into a whispered conversation. Maybe this guy is her boyfriend. She seems embarrassed, shifting from foot to foot. I should go. Then she says something else to him and moves out of his reach, touching his arm, not his hand, shrugging him off.
Grey, this is Paul Clayton. His brother owns the place. This woman has really gotten under my skin. Of Grey Enterprises Holdings?
In a heartbeat I watch him morph from territorial to obsequious. I watch him disappear. How can I ask her? Am I ready to take on a submissive who knows nothing? Closing my eyes, I imagine the interesting possibilities this presents…getting there is going to be half the fun. Will she even be up for this? Or do I have it all wrong? Look at me, damn it! Finally she raises her head. She packs the items briskly. This is it. I have to go. Until tomorrow, perhaps.
This is good. I sling the bag over my shoulder and exit the store. Yes, against my better judgment, I want her. Now I have to wait…fucking wait…again. Utilizing willpower that would make Elena proud, I keep my eyes ahead as I take my cell out of my pocket and climb into the rental car. My eyes flick to the rearview mirror, where I can see the shop door, but all I see is the quaint storefront.
I press 1 on speed dial and Taylor answers before the phone has a chance to ring. And Charlie Tango? So I have a few hours in Portland while I wait to see if this girl is interested in me. What to do? Time for a hike, I think. Maybe I can walk this strange hunger out of my system. What the hell was I thinking? I watch the street from the window of my suite at The Heathman. I loathe waiting. I always have. The weather, now cloudy, held for my hike through Forest Park, but the walk has done nothing to cure my agitation.
When have I ever chased a woman? Grey, get a grip. At least Taylor has arrived and I have all my shit. The prospect of a night alone again is depressing. While I contemplate what to do my phone vibrates against the polished wood of the desk and an unknown but vaguely familiar number with a Washington area code flashes on the screen. Is it her? I answer. Well, well.
A breathy, nervous, soft-spoken Miss Steele. My evening is looking up. How nice to hear from you. Where would be convenient for you, sir?
Just you, me, and the cable ties. Shall we say nine thirty tomorrow morning? Leaning back in my chair, I gaze at the darkening skyline and run both my hands through my hair. How the hell am I going to close this deal? Last night I dreamed of her.
I wonder what Flynn would make of that. The thought is disconcerting, so I ignore it and concentrate on pushing my body to its limits along the bank of the Willamette. As my feet pound the walkway, sunshine breaks through the clouds and it gives me hope.
Maybe I should take her for coffee. Like a date? Not a date. I laugh at the ridiculous thought. Just a chat—an interview of sorts. Sitting down to breakfast in my sweats, I decide to eat before I shower. I open it and Taylor stands on the threshold.
They ready for me? One glance at the louche fucker in the mirror and I exit to follow Taylor to the elevator. Room is crowded with people, lights, and camera boxes, but I spot her immediately. Her hair is loose: Are jeans and chucks her signature look?
While not very convenient, they do flatter her shapely legs. Her eyes, disarming as ever, widen as I approach. She turns her delicious pink and waves in the direction of her friend, who is standing too close, waiting for my attention. With reluctance I release her and turn to the persistent Miss Kavanagh.
That thought makes me feel a little more benevolent toward her. How do you do? Anastasia said you were unwell last week. I wonder why these women are friends. They have nothing in common. Is it just me who makes her blush? The thought pleases me. Is this the boyfriend? Are they fucking? He likes her. He likes her a lot. Well, game on, kid. Rodriguez, where would you like me? She likes to be in charge. The thought amuses me as I sit. As the glare recedes I search out the lovely Miss Steele.
Does she always shy away like this? Hmm…a natural submissive. I regard Miss Steele as she watches both of us. Our eyes meet; hers are honest and innocent, and for a moment I reconsider my plan. But then she bites her lip and my breath catches in my throat. Back down, Anastasia. Good girl. Katherine asks me to stand as Rodriguez continues to take snaps.
His antagonism makes me smile. Oh, man…you have no idea.
Seize the day, Grey. I mutter some platitude to those still in the room and usher her out the door, wanting to put some distance between her and Rodriguez.
In the corridor she stands fiddling with her hair, then her fingers, as Taylor follows me out. Her long lashes flicker over her eyes. Thinking about all the ways I could make her stop is distracting. Now can you join me for coffee? She looks directly at me, eyes bright. I have a date! Opening the door, I let her back into the room as Taylor conceals his puzzled look. I watch him with narrowed eyes as he disappears into the elevator while I lean against the wall and wait for Miss Steele.
What the hell am I going to say to her? Steady, Grey. Taylor is back within a couple of minutes, holding my jacket. How long is Anastasia going to be?
I check my watch. She must be negotiating the car swap with Katherine. My thoughts darken. As I catch up with her my curiosity is piqued about her relationship with Katherine, specifically their compatibility. Ana is clearly devoted. She came all the way to Seattle to interview me when Katherine was ill, and I find myself hoping that Miss Kavanagh treats her with the same loyalty and respect.
At the elevators I press the call button and almost immediately the doors open. A couple in a passionate embrace spring apart, embarrassed to be caught. As we travel to the first floor the atmosphere is thick with unfulfilled desire.
I want her. Will she want what I have to offer? The thought is disheartening. In our wake we hear embarrassed giggling from the couple. Miss Steele seems that innocent, just like them, and as we walk onto the street I question my motives again. In the coffee shop I direct her to find a table and ask what she wants to drink. She stutters through her order: English Breakfast tea—hot water, bag on the side.
I have to wait in line while the two matronly women behind the counter exchange inane pleasantries with all their customers. English Breakfast tea. Teabag on the side. And a blueberry muffin. Is she checking me out? A bubble of hope swells in my chest. She jumps and turns red as I set out her tea and my coffee. She sits mute and mortified. Does she really not want to be here?
I watch her dunk the teabag in the teapot. She fishes it out almost immediately and places the used teabag on her saucer. My mouth is twitching with my amusement. Get a grip, Grey. At me. At me! Does she like me or not?
Oh, sweetheart, he wants to be more than a friend. The boy is smitten. Okay, so the lust is one-sided, and for a moment I wonder if she realizes how lovely she is.
She eyes the blueberry muffin as I peel back the paper, and for a moment I imagine her on her knees beside me as I feed her, a morsel at a time. The thought is diverting—and arousing. She shakes her head. Why is she so jittery? Maybe because of me?
I told you yesterday. I remember how uncomfortable she seemed when the kid at the store put his arm around her, staking his claim. They really are beautiful, the color of the ocean at Cabo, the bluest of blue seas. I should take her there. Where did that come from? She should.
Does she like me? Which is it? I just wish I knew what you were blushing about. That will goad her into a response. Popping a small piece of the blueberry muffin into my mouth, I await her reply.
Have I offended you? In all things. And I remember her leaving my office in the elevator—and how my name sounded coming out of her smart mouth.
Has she seen through me? Is she deliberately antagonizing me? I change the subject. I want to know about her. My stepdad lives in Montesano. Her lips soften with a fond smile when she mentions her stepdad. Her expression is clear and bright, and I know that Raymond Steele has been a good father to this girl. Which is great, but not what I want at the moment.
Oh, Miss Steele. Game on. You asked me if I was gay. She starts babbling about herself and a few details hit home. Her mother is an incurable romantic. I suppose someone on her fourth marriage is embracing hope over experience. Is she like her mother? If she says she is—then I have no hope. I ask about her stepfather and she confirms my hunch. Her face is luminous when she talks about him: She preferred to live with him when her mom married the third time.
She straightens her shoulders. They live in Seattle. I give her the short answer that Elliot works in construction and Mia is at cooking school in Paris.
See a Problem?
She listens, rapt. Have you been? Of course. Miss Steele wants to travel. But why England? I ask her. To add insult to injury, she looks at her watch. But should I? Giving her my most dazzling smile, guaranteed to disarm, I offer her my hand. Maybe this could work. I like them accessible. Her pupils dilate and I know I could fall into her gaze and never return. She takes a deep breath. My fingers caress her cheek. Her skin is soft and smooth, and as I brush my thumb against her lower lip, my breath catches in my throat.
Her body is pressed against mine, and the feel of her breasts and her heat through my shirt is arousing. Closing my eyes, I inhale, committing her scent to memory. She wants me to kiss her. And I want to. Just once. Her lips are parted, ready, waiting.
Her mouth felt welcoming beneath my thumb. I close my eyes to blot her out and fight the temptation, and when I open them again, my decision is made. I want to hold her for a moment longer. I slide my hands to her shoulders to ensure she can stand. Her expression clouds with humiliation. I shudder to think what could have happened to you. She shakes her head, her back ramrod stiff, and wraps her arms around herself in a protective gesture.
A moment later she bolts across the street and I have to hurry to keep up with her. When we reach the hotel, she turns and faces me once more, composed. She disappears into the building, leaving in her wake a trace of regret, the memory of her beautiful blue eyes, and the scent of an apple orchard in the fall.
My scream bounces off the bedroom walls and wakes me from my nightmare. Sitting up, I put my head in my hands as I try to calm my escalated heart rate and erratic breathing. I have two major meetings tomorrow…today…and I need a clear head and some sleep. And I have a round of fucking golf with Bastille. I should cancel the golf; the thought of playing and losing darkens my already bleak mood.
Clambering out of bed, I wander down the corridor and into the kitchen. There, I fill a glass with water and catch sight of myself, dressed only in pajama pants, reflected in the glass wall at the other side of the room. I turn away in disgust. You turned her down. She wanted you. And you turned her down. It was for her own good. This has needled me for days now. Her beautiful face appears in my mind without warning, taunting me.
If my shrink was back from his vacation in England I could call him. His psychobabble shit would stop me feeling this lousy. Grey, she was just a pretty girl. Perhaps I need a distraction; a new sub, maybe. I contemplate calling Elena in the morning.
She always finds suitable candidates for me. I want Ana. Her disappointment, her wounded indignation, and her contempt remain with me. She walked away without a backward glance. Perhaps I raised her hopes by asking her out for coffee, only to disappoint her.
Maybe I should find some way to apologize, then I can forget about this whole sorry episode and get the girl out of my head. Leaving the glass in the sink for my housekeeper to wash, I trudge back to bed. This is ridiculous. The program on the radio is a welcome distraction until the second news item. Even the news reminds me of little Miss Bookworm. But then so do I, but for different reasons.
Of course! This is it! This is what I can do. Both are bleak books, with tragic themes. Hardy had a dark, twisted soul. Like me. I shake off the thought and examine the books. And Tess does exact revenge on the man who wronged her.
I like to possess things, things that will rise in value, like first editions. Feeling calmer and more composed, and a little pleased with myself, I head back into my closet and change into my running gear. I read the book years ago and have a hazy recollection of the plot.I have missed this mouth.
Not a date.
Leaning down, I cup her chin in my fingers. Shut her down, Grey! An unfamiliar warmth seeps into my bones. I like the connection—me touching her.
Grey, this is Paul Clayton. Usually consensually and in a sexual context…but I am more than happy to make an exception. I feel like the sun has set and not risen for five days, Ana. I lean back in my chair with my hands behind my head, trying to understand my effervescent mood.