“How are you feeling dear?” My mother asks me over the phone while I lie cuddled up in Christian’s bed.
“I’m dying,” I reply, my voice hoarse from my sore throat. “I don’t know if it’s a cold, or the flu, or what, but it’s been three days and it’s not getting any better.”
“Have you seen a doctor?” She asks.
“No, but I’m pretty sure Christian is going to drag me in to see one tomorrow. He’s been telling me to go for days. He even called his mom and had her diagnose me over the phone. She thinks it’s the flu which means if I go into the doctor, I’m just going to pay $30 for them to tell me to get some rest and drink plenty of fluids.”
“Well, you should always make sure,” Mom says. “I think you should go this afternoon. If you need me to put some money in your account, I will.”
“Thanks, Mom, but I can’t,” I reply, with a cough. “Elliot is coming into town this afternoon. We have to go pick him up once Kate and Christian get back from class and since Kate can’t go alone and Christian won’t leave campus without me, I have to go to the airport.”
“Haven’t they caught that lunatic yet?”
“No. They know who he is now from the fingerprints they found on the notebook, but his apartment is empty and they haven’t been able to track him down. Kate thinks she saw him on campus the other day but when she tried to point him out, Christian was more concerned about getting us away than going after him, and by the time we called the police, he’d disappeared again.”
“They’ve been looking for him for weeks, I can’t believe they haven’t found anything yet. You haven’t had any more contact with him, right? I mean, I know you and Christian had your locks changed but it worries me that he can still get in the building.”
“Yeah, that’s why Kate’s still staying with Christian. She doesn’t feel safe in our room yet, and neither do I. But we haven’t seen him except that one time. Some of her laundry disappeared from the laundry room right after he broke into our room, though, and he’s been sending Kate letters in the mail. Most of them are love letters, but some are explicit descriptions of the disgusting things he wants to do to her, and others are just ramblings that don’t make a whole lot of sense.”
“No return address?”
“No, and he drops them off in different mailboxes all over town. Carrick helped Kate get a restraining order against him once we found out his name, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much to help. He used to be a student here though, so I assume he’s pretty smart.”
“Oh my god, this is just horrifying. Poor, poor Kate. She must he terrified.”
“I think now, she’s mostly just pissed,” I say coughing so hard that it leaves my voice raw when I continue. “She and Christian have been getting on each other’s nerves being around each other all the time and Kate’s just mad that this is inconveniencing her. She has to wake up at like 4:30 to go to the gym with Christian now.”
“Well, with Elliot coming into town, hopefully you can all get a break and they can stay in your room or in a hotel. What are you and Christian planning on doing for Valentine’s Day tomorrow?”
“Well, we were going to spend the weekend in New York but now I guess we’ll just stay in, watch movies, and eat Chicken Noodle soup.”
“Awh, I’m sorry, baby. I know how much you’ve always wanted to see New York.”
“It’s okay, Christian promised he take me there before the end of the school year. I’m fine as long as I get to spend it with him.”
“That’s the right attitude to have, sweetie. Oh, Bob and I booked our tickets for Bora Bora today. Be sure you tell Grace again, how very grateful we are that she invited us.”
“I will, Mom,” I tell her, but as I do, my stomach roils and I have to swallow the disgusting taste in my mouth that tells me I’m going to throw up again.
“Mom, I’ve got to go,” I say quickly.
“Okay, honey. I lov-” She begins, but I have to hang up the phone and run to the bathroom to make it to the toilet in time. I sit over the bowl, panting, feeling my heartbeat in my ears, as I wait to see if anything else is going to come up. When I’m sure it’s safe, I flush the toilet and lay on the cold linoleum floor, feeling too horrible to get up and walk back to the bed.
The door to the bathroom opens and, even though there is a deranged psycho on campus who has already attacked me once, I don’t flinch. Death would be preferable to this flu at this point. I’m safe though, as it’s Kate who sticks her head through the door and looks down at me sympathetically as I lie on the floor.
“Here,” She says, stepping into the bathroom, pulling the Pepto Bismol out of medicine basket and handing me a doze in the small plastic cup. “So, you’re not feeling any better?”
“I thought I might have been,” I say, grimacing as I swallow the chalky liquid. “Then I threw up again.” I hand her the empty cup and bury my head in my arms.
“Are you sure you’re not pregnant?” She asks, reaching out and rubbing my back.
“That’s impossible,” Christian says, and I look up to see him leaning against the counter behind Kate. “We’d have to be able to have sex for her to get pregnant.” He stares down at Kate pointedly.
“Oh please, Christian, it’s only been three weeks,” Kate says, rolling her eyes.
“Three. Long. Weeks,” He says, emphasizing each word. Kate shakes her head as he walks past her and reaches down to lift me off the floor. I groan in protest but he doesn’t release me.
“We have to go to the airport. Elliot’s flight gets in in less than an hour,” He says soothingly. I nod and shuffle back into the bedroom. I look down at my leggings and oversized sweatshirt and decide that it’ll have to be good enough. I slip on a pair of snow boots and follow after Kate and Christian out the door.
When we get to the airport, Kate bounces up and down excitedly at the gate, trying to see over the heads of passengers departing their flights as she searches for Elliot, while I sit in the chairs of the waiting area, snuggling into Christian’s side.
“Three weeks,” Christian says again. “Three weeks and when Elliot finally gets here and Kate can finally sleep in her own room, you get the flu.”
“I’m sorry,” I reply. He sighs and looks down at me.
“I hope you’re prepared for what I’m going to do to you when this is all over. It’s going to be rough… and fucking fantastic.”
“I don’t know, it’s been three weeks. It might just be quick,” I say, peering up at him with a teasing smile, and he laughs and kisses my hair.
“We’re going to the doctor tomorrow,” He says with an overt sense of finality.
“Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day,” I pout. “Going to the doctor isn’t very romantic.”
“Neither is you throwing up every three hours,” He says. I frown. I suppose he’s right. Besides, I’m not getting better so I guess going to the doctor couldn’t hurt.
“Speaking of doctors…” Christian says hesitantly. “You haven’t talked to me about what happened in your dorm room very much. If you wanted to, you know, talk… I could get you some numbers for some professionals. I have quite the experience when it comes to psychiatry.”
“Oh… I’m fine. Honestly, I’d rather just not think about it,” I say, awkwardly.
“Well, if you change your mind…” He says, and I nod.
“Elliot!” Kate calls. She waves her arm above her head to get his attention and he forces his way through the crowd towards her, immediately pulling her into his arms and kissing her intimately. Christian helps me up and we walk over to them and by the time we get there, Elliot still hasn’t released Kate and he doesn’t until Christian coughs uncomfortably.
“I’m so sorry, Katie,” Elliot says gently. “I can’t imagine how horrible this has been for you. I’ve been in hell, not being able to be here.”
“I know. It was really scary at first, but Christian’s been there every day for me. He walks me everywhere I go and he never complains or asks me to wait. Last week, he even went to the drug store with me to buy tampons.”
Elliot smiles down at her and then turns to Christian.
“Thank-you. I wouldn’t be able to handle this if it wasn’t for you,” Elliot says, placing a grateful hand on Christian’s shoulder. Christian nods once.
“I’m happy to do it. Welcome back,” He says.
“I applied for MIT a couple weeks ago,” Elliot says. “I haven’t heard anything back yet but my advisor says my application is strong. Who knows, maybe soon it won’t be welcome back, it’ll be welcome home.”
“I hope so,” Christian says.
“How’s the Elena stuff going?” Elliot asks, and Christian frowns.
“Dad was in court yesterday for her to enter a plea and she plead not guilty, so now we go to trial,” He says
“When?” Elliot asks.
“May,” Christian replies and Elliot hugs him in a show of support and gratitude and then turns to me.
“Hold up,” I say, holding my hands out in front of me and stepping backwards. “I have the flu. Don’t come near me unless you want your Valentine’s Day ruined.”
“Oh, good call…” Elliot says wearily, stepping back to Kate. “It’s good to see you though, Typhoid Mary.” I glare at him but still manage a smile and he takes Kate’s hand and we walk back out to the car.
“Are you staying in a hotel?” Christian asks as we pull out of the garage.
“No,” Elliot replies.
“I haven’t been staying in my room…” Kate says hesitantly, and I wonder if she doesn’t feel comfortable there, even knowing Elliot would be with her.
“I know,” He replies, and Christian looks up and glares at him in the rear-view mirror.
“It might be a good idea to get a hotel room, Elliot,” Christian says, but Elliot shakes his head.
“Oh no, I hope that fucker shows up while I’m here. I really, really, hope he does.”
We’re silent after that, the atmosphere of the car full of the implication of Elliot’s words, until Christian finally asks what everyone wants to do for dinner. Because I’m sick, we forego going out in favor of Chinese takeout. Well, they get Chinese and Christian orders me the same chicken soup I’ve eaten twice a day everyday this week from a restaurant called The Dumpling House.
When we get back to campus, we hurry through the light flurry of snowflakes across the Old Yard, stopping only to pick up the mail before we head inside to devour our food. As we sit on the floor around the coffee table in the downstairs common area, I stare longingly at Kate’s Chow Mein while I push the sodden vegetables in my soup through the broth.
“I take it we’re not going to an off campus party this time,” Elliot says when he’s finished, “So… movie night?”
“I’ll go get something,” Kate says, standing from the table and collecting the empty take out cartons to throw away.
“Take this with you,” I say, handing her the small pile of mail. She reaches out for it, but doesn’t quite get a good enough grip on it and several envelopes fall to the floor. We both lean down to pick them up and when I read the hastily scribbled handwriting addressed to Kate on the one closest to me, I freeze.
“What?” Kate asks hesitantly, her eyes looking down at the envelope in my hand. “Is it…”
I nod, and hold it out for her. She takes it and stares down at the handwriting I know she also recognizes.
“Is that from him?” Elliot asks, fury suddenly apparent in his voice. I nod again and he reaches his hand out for it.
“I don’t think you should open it, Kate. You should just throw it in the fire,” I say, pointing to the flames crackling under the hearth across the room.
“I don’t think so, give it to me,” Elliot says.
“It’s not going to help getting all riled up over this, Elliot,” Christian argues. “We’re doing everything we can to catch this guy and she doesn’t need to be subjected to this in the meantime.”
“Give me the fucking letter, Kate!” Elliot yells. She jumps a bit, not expecting his reaction and then hands the letter to him.
He rips it open, scanning through the words that describe the grotesque, even violent, sex acts her stalker says he fantasizes about doing to Kate and then tosses the paper aside so that he’s only holding a photograph. I lean over to look at it, and the moment I see it, I wish I hadn’t. It’s a picture of an erect penis with underwear I recognize as a pair stolen from Kate’s laundry wrapped around it and covered in semen.
I glanced worriedly up at Kate and see her cringe away from the photo. I open my arms and she comes to sit next to me as Elliot jumps up from the ground radiating rage.
“You ready to do this?” He asks Christian angrily.
“Do what?” Christian asks.
“We’re going to go out there and find this motherfucker and I’m going to fucking kill him, that’s what. This ends tonight. I’m going to end this tonight!” Elliot yells.
“And what do you plan to do? Go door to door?” Christian asks.
“Anything is better than this sitting around doing nothing bullshit. I’m not going to do it anymore, Christian. I can’t. Do you know what it’s like, thinking that at any minute your girlfriend is going to be picked up off the street, or taken out of her bed, or out of a class and raped or murdered and you’re too far away to do anything to stop it? Imagine for a minute that it was Ana going through this. How would you feel then? If it was Ana, you wouldn’t be willing to sit here and just wait for the cops to figure it out.”
“You think I’m not doing anything because I don’t know how it feels?” Christian asks, his voice suddenly icy as he stares back into the fire behind Elliot’s eyes. “You don’t think I don’t see that this could just as easily be Ana as it is Kate and that doesn’t fucking kill me every second of every day? Why the fuck do you think I’ve been walking Kate to every one of her classes, having her sleep in my room every night, following her to beauty salons and Pilates classes, fucking standing in the laundry room with her every Saturday night? Every police officer in this city has a picture of that motherfucker and is on the hunt for him. We have a restraining order. We have daily check-ins with both the police and campus security. I’ve had her car moved off campus and parked in a locked garage. We are doing everything we can, but what I’m not going to do is trudge out into the night on some wild goose chase after this maniac and leave these two girls alone in this building when he’s already attacked Ana here once.”
Elliot glares back at Christian, but then turns around and begins pacing. He grips the photo in his hand tightly before tossing it into the fire. It’s quiet while we watch as he stares at the picture burning below the mantle and then throws a hard, frustrated punch into the brick surrounding the fire.
“Hey!” Kate screams, running forward to pull him away from the fireplace. “Stop it. Hurting yourself isn’t going to solve anything.”
“I’m not going back,” Elliot says. “I’m not going anywhere until this fucker has been found. I can’t stay in San Francisco and leave it to Christian to protect you anymore. I’ll go crazy, I can’t,” He says.
“But MIT… You have to keep your grades up, you can’t miss class,” Kate warns him.
“I’ll figure it out. I’ll email my professors and get work sent to me, do my research in a public library if I have to. I don’t care, I’m not leaving until I know you’re safe.”
“Okay,” Kate says. “If we can figure it out, okay.”
He nods at her concession, seemingly calming down as he’s finally able to grab onto some small bit of control over the situation. I want to say something consoling to Elliot, but I’m not sure what or if I should and I think it’s been too long since I’ve taken fever medicine. Everything around me looks like it’s moving and I can feel myself getting woozy.
“Maybe we should go to bed?” I ask Christian.
“Are you feeling okay?” He asks, and his tone lets me know that I look as badly as I suddenly feel.
“I think I just need some Tylenol and sleep.” I tell him. He nods and then looks at Kate and Elliot.
“You two are alright in Ana and Kate’s room? I’ll take you to a hotel if you want.”
“We’re fine here,” Elliot snarls, and Christian nods.
“Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I don’t know what your plans are but let me know if you want to do breakfast or something. I’m going to skip classes tomorrow and spend the day with Ana.”
“We will,” Kate promises him. I take Christian’s hand and together we walk upstairs, each shooting anxious glances back down the stairs at Elliot.
The next morning, for the first time in days, I wake up and don’t have to throw up. Christian is still asleep next to me, which I guess means he’s skipping the gym this morning, so I give him this rare opportunity to sleep in and duck into the bathroom to take a shower.
While I stand there under the hot water, I take a brief inventory of how I feel. Maybe not fully better yet, but also not terrible. I’m still stuffy and my throat is still a little sore, but the nausea has passed and I’m not as dizzy as I have been. I grab the shampoo and work it though my hair, wondering if this means I’ll feel well enough by tonight to have a real Valentine’s Day with Christian, and as I do, I hear the curtain on the shower pull back and Christian’s arms wrap around me.
“How are you feeling?” He asks.
“Almost better, I think,” I tell him.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” He says, and he places soft kisses on my neck.
“Happy Valentine’s Day to you,” I tell him, and turn around to give him a quick kiss. We shower quickly together and I notice him staring longingly at my naked body. I feel bad as I want him just as badly as I know he wants me, but more than that I don’t want our first Valentine’s Day to be remembered as the time I threw up all over him in the shower. I need a few more hours to know if I’m really over this or not.
I have a text from Kate when I get out of the shower asking if Christian and I want to meet them for breakfast so I get dressed in the warmest clothes possible and we head out, each dragging an overnight bag behind us, to meet them. The police suggested Kate not drive her car as it will make it easier for her stalker to spot her, so after we get breakfast, Christian drives over to a car rental place for Elliot to get a car to use for the weekend.
It’s been dumping snow non-stop since last night and the plows are having trouble keeping the roads clear, so Elliot opts for a heavy duty SUV rather than the sleek sporty cars both he and Christian typically choose.
“Do you have plans for this afternoon?” Christian asks while we wait for employee to bring Elliot’s car around.
“We’re going to a cooking class this afternoon and I think dinner and a movie tonight,” Kate says. “What about you guys?”
“I have reservations for this evening but I didn’t plan anything for the afternoon since Anastasia has been sick.”
“We can go to a museum or a movie or something,” I suggest, staring out at the heaps of snow falling from the dark blanket of clouds that completely block out the sky. I really don’t want him getting the bright idea to go ice skating or something else that involves being outdoors.
“Why don’t you guys come to the cooking class with us?” Kate suggests.
“That sounds like fun,” I say, looking hopefully at Christian. The one thing I don’t like about living in the dorms is that my ability to cook has been limited to whatever I can make in a microwave. Christian looks doubtfully back at me but agrees to go and we trudge back to the car through the too deep snow.
“Maybe we should take my car back to campus and ride with Elliot,” Christian says, looking at the dark clouds through the front windshield. It looks like the snow is only going to get worse, not better. He calls Elliot, who follows us back to campus for Christian to drop off his car and then drives us to the cooking class. When we get out of the SUV and walk up the sidewalk towards the door, I take a quick moment to evaluate how I feel. Actually, I feel fine. Maybe it really has passed. Christian holds open the door for me and I step inside a clinically clean looking room with twelve or so cooking stations.
“Having trouble there?” I ask Christian, after the instructor has given us the instructions for the frittata we’re supposed to be making. I try not to laugh at the look of frustration and concentration on Christian’s face as he attempts to separate egg whites from the yolks.
“This is ridiculous,” He says when the yolk breaks and drips into the bowl he’s using to collect the whites. “You know you can just buy egg whites in a carton, right?”
“You can also buy pre-made frittatas,” I tell him.
“That’s a great idea, let’s go do that,” He says, and I roll my eyes, turn down the heat under the skillet I’m using, and hold out my spatula for him.
“Here, you sauté the shallots, and I’ll separate the egg whites,” I offer.
“Sauté?” He asks, looking skeptically down at the spatula in my hand.
“Just push the shallots around in the butter so they don’t get burned, like this,” I give him a quick demonstration and hand him the spatula.
When I have the egg whites separated and whipped, I add sausage, kale, parsley, sage, and thyme to the skillet, and take the spatula back. Once everything is in the pan, there isn’t really enough for two of us to do, but I think Christian is happy to just watch. I place the frittata in the oven and while it bakes, the instructor shows us how to make meringue for macaroons. I’m surprised how quick the entire process is and am able to slip the batter into the oven beneath our frittata. They both come out at the same time so I dish up two plates and Christian and I cross the classroom to join Kate and Elliot, letting the macaroons cool on a baking rack at our station.
“Theirs looks a lot better than ours,” Elliot says, comparing the perfect pie like slice on my plate to the heap of eggy hash on his.
“Christian helped a lot less than you did,” Kate says to Elliot, and Christian looks back at her indignantly.
“Hey, if it weren’t for me, those shallots would be entirely too crunchy. I saved this dish from being ruined.”
We laugh and dig in, finishing just as the class ends. We are given Ziplock bags for our macaroons and we thank the instructor as we walk outside into a wall of white. It must have snowed three or four more inches in the last couple hours and, as I look at the roads and sidewalks, I wonder if we’ll even be able to make it back to campus in the SUV.
“Let’s go into that coffee shop and eat our macaroons,” Kate suggests, pointing across the street. “Hopefully the snow plows will make it through here.”
We agree and Christian pulls me into his side to keep me warm as we cross the street through the increasingly deep snow. The coffee shop is nearly empty and since the streets don’t seem to be particularly busy in this weather, we are able to find a fairly isolated corner to talk and hang out in while we try to wait out the storm. We all order hot drinks and cozy up in the seats next to the fire place.
“Okay, I’ve got one,” Kate says, leaning forward to place her mug on the wooden table and staring around like she’s about to drop of bomb of insight on us. “If you got one do over for anything in your past, what would it be?”
“Agreeing to play this game,” Elliot says, reaching out and taking another macaroon. Kate glares at him.
“Be serious,” She says and he sighs.
“Okay, when I was twelve, my mom went back to work after taking a few years off to help Christian and Mia get adjusted. My dad was already gone a lot, he worked 70 hour weeks trying to make partner at his law firm, and when Mom started having to stay overnight at the hospital, we were left with other people all the time. Mrs. Lincoln and Grandma Trevelyan generally let us do whatever we wanted so when Mom was able to be home, it was almost like being punished. Suddenly, I had to do homework instead of playing video games and eat lean chicken and vegetables for dinner instead of pizza. I started acting out, and one night Mom and I got in a really bad fight over doing chores. I was supposed to unload the dishwasher but there was a TV show that I wanted to watch and when I started fighting Mom about it, she just ended up grounding me from the TV all together. I got mad, looked her right in the eye and told her that I didn’t have to listen to her because she wasn’t my real mom and I wish she’d never adopted me because living with her was like being in prison. She got mad and sent me to my room, but later that night, when Dad got home, I heard her crying about it in their bedroom and that’s the only time besides that night at the Liberty with the Christian/Elena thing that I’ve heard her cry. She’s done so much for all of us kids, loves us more than I can even comprehend, and I really wounded her with that one. If I could do one thing over, I’d take that back. I’d empty the stupid dishwasher, and tell her that I love her.”
“Elliot,” Kate says sympathetically, and she leans over to kiss him on the cheek. “We all say stupid things to our parents when we’re young. You wouldn’t believe the fights my mom and I got into when I was in High School.”
“Yeah,” Elliot says, but he still looks a little down so Kate turns to me to take the attention off of him.
“Okay, Ana, one do over,” She prompts me.
“I wish I would have called the police on Steven when he started hitting my mom. She asked me not to, told me that it was just a phase, but I should have known better. It got so bad that I had to move back home with Ray and I still never said anything. I left her there, defenseless, with no one to turn to. That’s my biggest regret.”
“That’s why you moved back with Ray?” Kate asks, her eyes widening, and all I can do is look down at the ground and nod.
“She was the adult,” Christian says, trying to alleviate my guilt. “You were just a teenager. It’s unfair to place the burden of responsibility on you for not stopping something he was doing wrong.”
“Is that your regret then?” Elliot asks Christian. “Elena, I mean. She was an adult hurting you.”
“I don’t regret that,” Christian says, and we all turn to look at him shocked. “I don’t subscribe to the theory of regret. What happened in the past can’t be changed and everything that has happened has made me who I am today. What’s the point in feeling regret?”
“Everyone has regrets,” Kate argues.
“Not me,” He says, but she stares at him skeptically, refusing to look away until he answers.
“Fine, throwing Anastasia out of my room,” He admits, finally, but Kate’s insistent look just becomes confused so he has to explain. “Back in September, the first night Anastasia and I kissed, when she told me she had answered my phone and talked to Elena, I panicked, got angry, and threw her out of my room. I regret that. I wish I would have never ended our kiss. I wish I would have answered the phone and called it off with Elena then. Maybe then I wouldn’t have wasted all those months not being with her.”
I reach out and grab his hand and although he squeezes my hand back he doesn’t look over at me. He reaches out, grabs his mug, and takes a long drink, clearly annoyed at having to reveal something personal to Kate and Elliot. The mood around the table is heavier now as we all ruminate over our greatest regrets.
“Fun game, Kate,” Elliot says. “What do you want to talk about next? My hamster that died when I was eight or maybe that time Grandpa Trevelyan had that cancer scare?”
“We didn’t hear Kate’s,” I interject but Christian shakes his head and stands.
“We’ve got to get going,” He says. “The plow is out front now but the snow isn’t letting up and I don’t want to be stuck on campus tonight.”
Christian reaches out to take my hand and we head back out to the car with Kate and Elliot. When we get back to campus, I nervously get into Christian’s Audi, hoping we don’t have to drive far in this weather, but he doesn’t seem to be too worried. He makes a phone call to wherever we’re going to confirm a few secret details about his reservation, and then climbs into the driver’s seat, his bronze hair peppered with snowflakes.
Fortunately, as we drive off through downtown, he sticks to fairly well travelled roads where the snow isn’t so bad, and we only travel about two miles until we pull up in front of the Hyatt Regency Cambridge Hotel.
“The Hyatt?” I ask, pleasantly surprised by his not over-the-top choice.
“Believe it or not, The Hyatt is the best Cambridge has to offer and I didn’t know if you were going to feel well enough to make it to Boston,” He says. “If I’d have known you’d be feeling better, I wouldn’t have cancelled our reservations for the Waldorf Astoria.”
“The Waldorf?” I gasp. “I love that building. The pictures I’ve seen of the architecture are incredible, and it’s right on Fifth Avenue… What else would we have done in New York?”
“Well, I had reservations for The Russian Tea room this evening and tickets for the Macbeth Revival. I thought I could spend the rest of the weekend just showing you the city.”
I hope my face doesn’t betray me for the sense of longing I feel for the lost weekend. I know that he’s already dying for having to change our plans because of his obsessive need to give me everything, and I don’t want him to feel any worse about tonight. I meant what I said to my mom. As long as I’m with Christian, it’s going to be perfect.
“Well, that weekend will have to wait. We probably would have had to cancel because of the snow anyway.” I say, holding my hand out for him. “Let’s go enjoy our Valentine’s Day.”
He smiles at me, takes my hand and walks with me inside. We collect our key cards for a room upstairs and when he opens the door, I gasp at the view of a snow covered Boston over the river.
“It’s beautiful, Christian,” I tell him. He smiles and then takes my bag and sets it against the wall and closes the door behind us. I walk further into the room and see the bed is covered in a giant heart made of rose petals and next to it, a cart with Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries.
“Champagne? How’d you manage to pull that one off?” I ask.
“Elliot made the reservation so I could have it sent up. If anyone asks, my name is Elliot Grey,” He says and I laugh. He wraps me in his arms but just as I’m about to lean in and kiss him, there is a knock at the door. He smiles again and then turns to open it and two hotel employees wheel in a cart with a fondue pot and several kinds of bread and vegetables.
We sit at the table by the giant, scenic window to eat and I don’t know if it’s because I’ve eaten only the same boring soup for days now or not, but it’s the best thing I’ve ever had until a half hour later when the hotel employees return to collect our empty bowl and replace it with one filled not with cheese but with chocolate. They leave different kinds of fruit and cakes to dip and as I lean over the table to take the chocolate dipped pound cake Christian holds out for me in my mouth, I’m in heaven.
“Come here,” He says, holding his hand out for me. He stands and leads me back towards the entrance. He opens a door to my left and I see a beautiful sandstone bathroom with a huge egg shaped tug as a focal point. The tub is full with warm water and I can just barely see deep red rose petals peeking through the bubbles. There are candles flickering softly around the tub and countertops and a carpet of rose petals leading to the tub’s edge.
“Get undressed, I’ll join you in a minute,” He says, and he disappears back into the room.
I look back at the tub and smile as I begin to peel my clothes off and tie my hair up so it won’t get wet. I’m delighted to find the water is perfectly warm and the essential oils and rose petals in the water smell divine. Christian returns a few minutes later, already sans clothes, holding a book and two champagne flutes, and he sinks into the water behind me. He hands me the book, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and I read aloud to him while we enjoy champagne in the tub.
“Are you feeling better?” He asks, when I close the book at the end of the third chapter.
“I think so,” I tell him. “Maybe this bath was just what I needed.”
“Then get out of the tub,” He says, easing me forward. “I’ve waited three weeks, I’m not waiting a moment longer.”
I laugh as we step out of the tub and Christian wraps me in an oversized, fluffy, white towel. In one quick motion, he scoops me up into his arms and carries me back to the room.
“Why don’t you slip into something more comfortable while I put out the candles in the bathroom?” He suggests once he sets me down on the soft, tan carpet next to the bed. He smiles slyly at me and disappears into the bathroom just as I look down and see a set of black and white lingerie lying on the bed. I want to roll my eyes but decide if wearing a sexy outfit will make him happy, then I’ll wear it without complaint. The sheer lacy material isn’t the easiest to get into but when he comes around the corner and sees me in it, the hardship is worth it.
“You look absolutely delectable, Miss Steele,” He says as he begins stalking towards me.
“You’re not so bad yourself, Mr. Grey,” I tell him, looking down at the towel wrapped around his waist. He stops in front of me, gazing hungrily at my breasts, which are clearly visible through the sheer fabric, for a moment, and then looks up at me.
“Can I give you your gift now?” He asks.
“Okay, but me first,” I tell him. He looks at me expectantly and I smile and hurry over to my suitcase where I’ve packed the present I ordered off of Amazon last week.
“It’s kind of silly but, well, here,” I tell him as I hand him the package. He peels the paper off the box and reveals a small remote control helicopter.
“You said you were upset that you couldn’t fly when it snowed and a lot of your lessons had been cancelled. Well, now you can fly whenever you want.”
He stares down at the package blankly for a minute and then looks up at me and smiles.
“I love it,” He tells me, and then immediately flips the box over to begin reading the different specifications.
“Does it come with batteries?” He asks.
“I think so,” I tell him, and I notice his fingers hesitantly brush against the tape that seals the opening to the box.
“What?” I ask.
“Nothing… I just. I kind of want to play with it,” He says, and his guilty expression reminds me of a child.
“Well, go ahead,” I say with a laugh.
“No,” He says, clearly exercising a great deal of self-discipline. He sets the box on the cabinet next to the TV and then goes into his own bag and pulls out a small, flat box. “It’s your turn.”
I reach out and take the package, hoping desperately it isn’t more diamonds. I don’t think my conscious could take that. I pull off the paper and open the black velvet box but instead of finding jewelry, I find a laminated card that reads:
Certificate of Registry
Let it be known that the star located at RA 00004.69 and Declination +010519.83
Will hereby be known as
In honor of
Anastasia Rose Steele
Dedicated February 14th 2008
I stare down at the card with disbelief which is reflected in my voice when I’m finally able to speak. “You named a star after me?”
“Yes,” He says, and I look up at him, feeling as though there might be tears in my eyes.
“Christian! It’s, I mean, this is…” I stutter, unable to find the words to express what I’m feeling. I’m overwhelmed.
“I’ve told you before, Anastasia. I’m already going to give you the world. The only thing left is the stars.”
I melt at his words, the sentiment behind them too much for me, and drop the card in my hands, press myself into him, and kiss him hard on the mouth. His hands move up and he untangles the tie from my hair so that it tumbles down past my shoulders. I wrap my arms around him, pressing my breasts into him further and he groans.
“Bed,” He says, cutting off our kiss after only a few seconds with a low, needy growl.
“Already?” I ask, amused, and his eyes darken as he looks down at me.
“Three weeks,” He says bluntly and once again, he sweeps me into his arms and carries me to the bed. I look up at him and feel my teeth sink into my lower lip as he slowly removes the towel from his waist and then crawls on the bed on top of me. His lips capture mine and I kiss him willingly, feeling the welcoming heat deep inside of me begin to grow as his kiss fuels my need for him.
Slowly, he moves away from my lips, leaving a trail of kisses across my jawline and down my throat. When he reaches my breasts, he pauses for a minute to run his tongue up my cleavage while his fingers tease and tug at my nipples. I feel my back arch off the bed as pleasure courses through me and a small cry escapes my lips when he gently nips the side of my breast.
My breathing is too heavy, as he slowly moves south, his tongue running over my navel and down to my panty line.
“I’m happy you’re finally wearing a pair of panties that you haven’t had long enough to grow fond of,” He says, and he pinches the lace band and sheer material with each hand and tugs, shredding them down the middle. The carnality of his aggression stokes the flames of my desire and my hips buck up towards him.
“Are you ready for me, Anastasia?” He asks, his voice husky.
“Yes, Christian. Oh god, yes,” I mewl.
“And I you,” He tells me, his firm erection supporting his words. “But first, I want you to come in my mouth.”
I moan as he sucks on the pad of his middle finger and then slowly drags it over my clitoris and down my opening. He uses his hands on me for a moment, touching me so gently it sends shivers up my legs. I squirm ever so slightly, a silent plea for him to take me, push me farther until I explode under his expert touch, and he obliges. Slowly, he lowers his lips to me and sucks lightly on my clitoris. I gasp and my hands fly down into his hair while his slowly circles my most sensitive area with his tongue. He drives me crazy, alternately kissing, sucking, even nipping at me, and the change in sensations bring me closer and closer to the edge.
“You taste so good, Anastasia,” He whispers, and as he drags his tongue up my entrance, he pushes a finger inside of me and moves it forward in search of that place that will cause me to unravel. I whimper loudly when he finds it and he smiles at the sound as he plants another kiss on me and then eases another finger into me. The stretching of his second finger and a third give me the sensation I’ve been craving and while his fingers massage the most sensitive place inside of me and his lips and tongue caress my clitoris I feel myself begin to build.
I grip his hair more tightly and as he realizes I’m close, he begins working faster and faster until finally, I can’t build anymore, and I release. He continues sucking and moving his fingers inside of me while I ride my orgasm. His tongue moves in time with the pulses of my walls around his fingers and as it goes on and on, it becomes too much. I sit up, moving away from his mouth and the moment I do, he leans up and kisses me, moving his tongue around in my mouth so I can taste my arousal.
“Make love to me, Christian,” I plead against his lips, and he groans a low sound of affirmation, not needing to be asked twice. Without breaking our kiss, he lowers me back down onto my pillow and positions himself over me so that he can ease his erection into me. I whimper as the feel of him sliding into me reinvigorates my already over sensitized body. Thankfully he moves in and out of me slowly, giving me time to recuperate as I fully come down from my first orgasm and prepare for what I’m sure will be a second.
His lips return to mine and he runs his hands over my naked body. When his hands move over my shoulders, and down across my nipples, he pulls away from me slightly to gaze at my body, and the look in his eyes is close to awe as he stares down at my breasts.
“You’re gorgeous, Anastasia,” He tells me. “I don’t know what I could have ever done to deserve this perfection.”
“I love you, Christian,” I tell him, and he leans down and kisses me again.
“And I love you, Anastasia. More than anything.”
Though he continues to move at a tantalizingly slow pace in and out of me, his thrusts become harder, slightly more urgent, and as he pushes himself into me, I begin to feel the deep quickening that signals a second orgasm is imminent.
He feels it too and I watch the look of triumph on his face as he swirls his hips around and slams back inside of me, until his phone vibrates on the bedside table. He looks at it angrily for a minute, as if it is a sentient thing that is purposefully interrupting us, but quickly turns his attention back to me, letting it go to voicemail.
“I’m getting close, Christian,” I warn him.
“I know, baby. Give it up for me,” He says, egging me on. His fingers move down to my clitoris and just as the quickening turns into the true spasms of my second orgasm, his phone vibrates again. He looks briefly up at it again but doesn’t falter in his stride as he works me through my orgasm.
“Who keeps calling you?” I gasp, when I come down enough to concentrate on forming words.
“It’s just Elliot,” He tells me, dismissively, leaning down and kissing my lips to silence me. Our mouths and tongues move together as one and I feel him grip the bed sheets next to my pillow. He must be getting close.
“Yes, Christian! Come for me,” I plead, his impending orgasm reigniting the flame within me.
“Fuck, you feel so good, Ana,” He groans. His thrusts are not gentle and slow anymore, but hard and fast. He’s breathing as heavily as I am now and just when I think he’s about to come, his phone rings again and he yells out in frustration, grabs the phone from the nightstand, and answers it.
“What?” Christian growls, continuing to move inside of me. I press my lips together to subdue my cries of ecstasy hoping he doesn’t make me come again while he has Elliot on the phone, but my fear is diminished when, very suddenly, he stops moving. I look up at him, confused, as he pulls out of me and quickly gets out of bed.
“We’ll be right there,” He says, as he hangs up the phone and slips a pair of pants on.
“Christian?” I ask, still panting in the bed.
“Get dressed, you need to get back to campus,” He says, tossing me the jeans I took off to get into the bath.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
“Kate was accosted by her stalker tonight,” He says. I feel myself go cold as the lustful fire in me is suddenly and completely extinguished.
“Oh my god!” I cry, scrambling out of bed to get dressed. I slip my jacket on, trying the best I can to zip it up with shaky hands until Christian grabs me by the hand, leads me out the door, and we hurry as fast as we can to get back to campus.