Anastasia doesn’t say anything or eat her food when we return to the restaurant and her silence continues when we get back in the car and make our way back to Cambridge.
“Please say something,” I plead with her when I can’t take it anymore. She snorts and looks out the passenger side window.
“What, Christian?” she snaps. “What do you want me to say?”
“I want you to say you’ll wait,” I reply. She laughs, but not in a way that makes me think she’s considering the idea.
“You want me to wait?” she asks, looking over at me like I’ve asked her to murder a kitten or something. “So I’m just supposed to sit around pining for you while you screw some woman old enough to be your mother?”
Why was I hopeful this would work? She’s the most desirable girl I’ve met in my life. She could have anyone she wanted, why would she wait for me when I’ve been nothing but a huge asshole to her? Why would she wait for me when she knows now what I’m doing? Well, almost knows… if she actually knew, she’d probably never speak to me again, let alone consider holding out for me. Okay, slow it down. Time for plan B.
“Not exactly…” I begin hesitantly. She gives me a hard, expectant look, waiting for me to continue. “I just don’t want you to disappear.” Or fuck Carter Reed. “I want you in my life, Ana.”
“It’s wrong, Christian, and I’m not okay with it,” she says, turning to look away from me. That isn’t a no… It isn’t a yes, but it isn’t a no. Hope isn’t lost until it’s actually a no.
“You won’t have to know about it,” I tell her quickly, and at least this is true. She knows more now than she should. I can’t tell her anymore. But, as if my attempts to woo Anastasia are being thwarted by divine intervention, Elena chooses this exact moment to call me and, since my phone is sitting in the center console, Anastasia can see who it is. At least I turned my bluetooth off so the car didn’t literally announce her name over the sound system. I glance nervously at Anastasia and she looks as though she’s grinding her teeth together to prevent herself from launching into an angry tirade.
“Well, answer it,” she says irritably. “If you don’t she’ll just call back.”
Unfortunately, I don’t have a choice. Answering every phone call is one of the rules. I glance nervously at the phone… how would she react if I asked her to be quiet?
I decide, it’s best not to find out that answer.
“Hello?” I say when I finally pick up.
“Good morning, Christian,” Elena says brightly, she sounds like she’s in a good mood and usually that would please me, but right now the only person’s mood I’m concerned with is Anastasia. “I just wanted to call and make sure you remembered I’m coming out tomorrow. Andrew gets back from Denver on Monday night so I’ll only be there the one day.”
“Yes, I remember. Sunday,” I confirm, staring ahead at the road. I can feel Anastasia looking at me but I can’t bring myself to look back at her. Under her gaze, I feel, for the very first time, something very close to shame.
“What’s wrong?” she asks, and thankfully there is concern rather than irritation in her voice. “You don’t seem yourself this morning.”
“No, I’m fine,” I lie. “I’m just pre-occupied with studying. Can I text you later?”
“You’ll be completely finished with all of your school work by tomorrow though, right?”
“Then have a good afternoon.”
“You too. Good-bye, Elena,” I hang up the phone but continue to keep my eyes fixed on the road ahead. I need to get this back on track… What was I saying before she called? Oh, that she wouldn’t have to know about Elena. Well…
“I’m sorry,” I tell her sincerely, but I can’t tell how she takes my apology because she immediately shifts her eyes away from me and out the passenger window again. I give her a minute but eventually the silence is too much for me. I need to know…
“Will you wait?”
“No,” she says sharply and it’s like being punched in the face.
“Please.” I’m pleading with her, and I the idea is humiliating, but I don’t care. I can’t avoid her anymore, and I can’t watch her fall for Reed either, but she shakes her head, rejecting me again. I’ve lost and the unfamiliar notion ignites a flame within me.
“So that’s it then? We’ll just got back to ignoring each other? I can’t keep pretending to hate you, Anastasia.”
“So don’t. We can still be friends,” she says, finally turning to face me.
“And Carter Reed?”
“I don’t know what will happen with Carter. I mean, it’s up to him really. I don’t even know if he’ll speak to me after what happened today.”
“And if he still wants you?”
“Then, I’ll probably have fewer Friday nights available,” she says and I feel my entire body tense with anger. So, my only hope of ever having a shot at Anastasia rests with Carter Reed deciding a kiss in a back alley is worth never getting a chance to fuck her. That’s about as likely as Elena calling back and telling me she’s thought it over and actually she thinks maybe it would be okay if I fucked Anastasia after all.
I pull into the parking lot closest to Grays and we walk next to one another back to the dorm. She’s quiet again, but I’m not worried about what she’s thinking anymore. I know what she’s thinking. I just want to touch her. I reach out and take her hand, intertwining my fingers with hers. Her hand is slightly chilly in mine, but it fits perfectly there and is unbelievably soft. There is something more to her touch, more than just feeling her skin against mine. I like it.
She looks down at my hand over hers and frowns, then squeezes gently on my fingers and pulls her hand away, tucking it against her chest as she folds her arms together. The need I feel from the withdrawal is immediate and I turn to look at her, wondering why she pulled away from me when the unpleasant voice in the back of my mind reminds me.
It’s because of Reed, you asshole. She doesn’t want you.
My jaw clenches as I walk beside her up the stairs of our dormitory, and just before I reach out to open the door for her, it opens on its own and Carter Reed steps out onto the stoop.
“Ana, I was just looking for you. Kate said you went to breakfast with Christian Grey…” he says, stopping once his eyes fall on me. He immediately looks suspicious, but I ignore him. I need to get out of here before I punch this douche bag in the fucking face. I pull Ana close to me and lean in to whisper in her ear.
“Don’t disappear,” I plead again. She swallows, hard, and I wonder what she’s trying to keep back as I step away. I glare at Reed when I pass and then throw the door to Grays open and stomp up the stairs to my room, slamming the door behind me. I pace across the small space a dozen times, feeling as though I’m literally being driven insane not knowing what is happening between Reed and Anastasia right now. I don’t even know if she’s telling him what happened. What if they’re down there having a sweet moment of reunion, his hands resting on her waist as he presses his lips to hers, in public rather than in some scummy alley or hidden behind closed doors. Perhaps his hands move up to cup the side of her breast and she doesn’t stop him, because he’s allowed to touch her that way.
I pick up the cup full of pens on my desk and hurl it at the wall. It shatters into tiny pieces and sends several pens flying over the floor of my room but it gives me no sense of relief. I need more. I need to hurt something.
I know that sometime this afternoon, I’m supposed to meet Ros to study for our test on Monday, but I have no idea what time it is. I reach into my pocket for my phone and groan as I realize I’m supposed to meet her in twenty minutes. I can’t leave now… I need to be here when Anastasia gets back. I have to know what happened with Reed.
I go into my call log and select Ros’s name from my recent calls. The phone rings twice before she answers.
“How are you feeling this morning?” she asks, her voice smug.
“Terrible,” I reply shortly, “Look, will you come here to study instead of the library?”
“Just, please…?” I ask, and she snorts.
“You’re asking me for another favor? After last night you should be…”
“Ros!” I snap.
“Fine!” she says. “Jesus, I don’t know what’s gotten into you lately, but you’re becoming a real pain in the ass.”
“I’ll see you in twenty minutes,” I say through clenched teeth and then hang up the phone. My International Business book is in my bag, so I pull it out along with some notes from class and my Macbook and then sit at my desk with the door to my dorm open so I’ll be able to see when Anastasia gets back. If Reed is with her, I’m going to lose my fucking mind.
It takes a while, but eventually she does come back, thankfully alone, and I scramble quickly out of my seat to stop her before she disappears into her room.
“So?” I ask her as she turns around and looks at me.
“I guess we’re exclusive now,” she says, and my blood begins to boil.
“I see.” My voice is deadly quiet as my hand curls into a fist and I imagine physically ripping Reed apart with my bare hands.
“Anyway,” she continues. “Seeing as we’re friends now, I thought I’d let you know that there is a party tomorrow night that we’ll be going to if you wanted to come. I’m going to ask Kate and Jose too.”
And watch you press yourself up against Reed all night while I wait around like a jackass? No thank you. Besides, Elena flies in tomorrow.
“I have plans tomorrow night,” I reply harshly, and she frowns, presumably because she now knows, generally, what those plans are.
“Well, I hope you enjoy them then.” She replies insincerely before turning around and walking into her room. I grind my teeth together. How has this day been so fucked up, so entirely, in such a short amount of time? I turn around and head back into my room, slamming the door behind me as I look for something else to break against the wall.
It’s dinner time when Ros and I have finally finished working our way through the chapters our test covers Monday and I’m hungry, which makes me even more irritable.
“Do you want to go to Annenberg?” I ask as she packs her things.
“Can’t,” she says. “I still haven’t looked over those changes you made to the proposal last weekend, so I’m probably just going to order Chinese food.”
“What?” I snap, turning a sharp glare on here. “You haven’t even looked at them? I thought you’d sent them out already!”
“No, Christian,” she replies indignantly. “I have other things to get done you know.”
“I know exactly what you have to do, we have the same classes, and yet I manage to meet deadlines perfectly fine.”
“Well, I sleep every once in awhile.”
“Then I suggest you re-evaluate your priorities. Our work comes before anything, even school.”
“Whatever, Christian. Look, I’ll look at them tonight and send you my notes. Once you make your final approval, either you can send it or I will.”
“They need to go out Monday first thing,” I tell her, trying to subdue my temper. “Do not be late again.”
“I won’t,” she says, swinging her backpack over her shoulder and walking towards the door. “You know I could have done them this morning but you rejected my calendar request to study tomorrow.”
“I have plans tomorrow.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought our work came before anything?”
“Ros…” I say, and my voice is a warning.
“Have a good night, Christian,” she replies smugly, and then ducks quickly out the door. I glare after her. Easy Grey… There isn’t any point in fighting with Ros. Besides, she’s normally extremely on top of things, I should probably cut her a little slack. I usually wouldn’t be so short with her but this shit with Reed has me all flustered. I need to eat and then maybe go for a run to try and work some of this tension out. Thankfully, Elena will be here tomorrow. I can’t remember the last time I needed a really rough session as badly as I do now.
I consider bringing my books and notes along to study while I eat, but eventually decide against it. I don’t know if I can read the same shit anymore without losing my mind. So instead, I put headphones in and let The Killers distract me from thoughts of Ana and Reed.
Annenberg is crowded when I get there but, like I have some kind of Radar set to alert me whenever Anastasia is near, I see her instantly, sitting at a table with Kavanagh and Rodriguez. Reed isn’t with them so I figure, in an effort to really make a go at this new “friendship” thing, I should have dinner with her. Friends do that, right?
Friends. The word leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
“Anastasia,” I greet her as I take the empty seat on her right. She turns around and smiles, looking happy to see me, and it kills me…
“Hey, Christian!” she replies. She looks radiant when she smiles, what I wouldn’t give to be able to kiss her… But you can’t. You’re just friends. Keep it light, Grey.
“How was your afternoon?” I ask, attempting to sound casual.
“Fine. Kate and I found Halloween costumes and then I worked on my Frankenstein essay. Have you finished yours?”
“Yes, a few days ago,” I tell her. That was finished when a nightmare woke me somewhere around two thirty in the morning and I couldn’t get back to sleep. “I’m studying for an economics test I have on Monday.”
“Are you coming to the Sigma Chi party tomorrow, Christian?” Kavanagh asks, and I watch as Anastasia turns a look on her that says she’d rather Kavanagh had not mentioned anything. Is it because she knows I’ll be with Elena or because the last time I found Ana at a party, she was too drunk to stand? It was bad enough that she got herself into a situation like that at a regular off campus party, but a fraternity…
“A frat party?” I ask, turning my disapproving gaze on her. “You didn’t say it was a frat party.”
“Yeah,” Kavanagh continues as though she hasn’t a care in the world for her friend who clearly can’t hold her liquor and who she’d abandoned to fuck Elliot at the last party they went to together. “Ana’s boyfriend knows a couple of the guys that live in that house and we thought we’d check it out.”
I cringe at the word boyfriend. Of course Reed hangs out in fraternities… “Well regularly drinking with fraternity guys could explain why he seems to be unable to show up for rowing practice on time,” I say, not bothering to hide my agitation, which grows exponentially when I hear Reed’s very unwelcome voice interject behind me.
“No, that’s mostly do to my inability to tell time,” he says, attempting a joke.
“Carter!” Ana says, surprised by his sudden appearance. She gets up from the table and moves into his arms. My teeth grind together so hard, I feel it in my jaw.
“Hey, baby,” he greets her, immediately leaning down and putting his lips on hers in an overly mushy looking show of affection. He’s trying to stake a claim and I would love nothing more than to challenge him on that, but I can’t. So instead, I shove away from the table and stride angrily from the dining hall. I didn’t eat much, but right now I don’t care. I feel like I want to vomit.
When I get back to my dorm, I find myself aching for a drink again. Perhaps I should make a trip to the liquor store. I could probably pay one of the older members of the rowing team to get me a bottle to keep in my dorm. It’s late though and since I don’t know who I would ask anyway, I pull off my jacket, fall to the floor, and do a few pushups to work the anger out of my body. I really should try and get a workout in. I’m too pent up and if I don’t do something, I’ll never get any sleep tonight.
Thirty minutes later, I can hear Ana’s and Kavanagh’s voices in the hallway and I open my door to press her more about this frat party she’s planning on attending. To say I didn’t approve would be a gross understatement. I don’t want her surrounded by those drunk, over-sexed sycophants without me there to watch out for her.
They both turn to look at me once my door opens but Kavanagh quickly diverts her gaze and hurries into their room.
“A frat party?” I ask, disapprovingly.
“Yeah, I would have thought to give you all the details but I know you have other plans,” she says sharply, and I frown. She’s really going to make this about Elena? What the fuck am I supposed to say to that?
“Why did you leave after dinner?” she asks, clearly trying to change the subject. “I liked talking with you.”
“I think our friendship will work better without the involvement of Carter Reed,” I grumble.
“Well, he’s my boyfriend so he’s probably going to be around,” she says. There’s that fucking word again.
“Isn’t it a little soon to call him your boyfriend?” I ask irritably, but she just shrugs.
“I’ve got a lot of essay to finish before the party so, since I won’t see you tomorrow night, I guess I’ll see you Monday.”
Shit, she’s saying good-bye. I try to think of something to stall her, keep her in the hall longer, but my mind isn’t working quickly enough and I have to tell her goodbye before she realizes I’m stalling and it gets awkward.
“Have fun at your party,” I tell her insincerely.
“You too,” she says, responding out of habit, and the moment she realizes what she’s said she grimaces and shakes her head with disgust. I sigh. I don’t know how we’re going to work with Reed and Elena hanging over our heads at all times.
“Goodnight,” she replies, and she steps into her room and closes the door behind her, leaving me alone and feeling utterly helpless in the hallway.
I feel off the entire day the next day, like I’m missing something or should be doing something I’m not. By the time seven o’clock rolls around and it’s absolutely necessary that I start packing my overnight bag to meet Elena, I’ve been to the gym twice, finished all of my homework, and reviewed the drafts of our business proposal Ros sent back late last night, and I still haven’t figured out what’s bothering me. I check the texts Elena sent me this morning for the third time, confirming the hotel I’m supposed to meet her at and the time her flight lands, as I put some clean clothes in my gym bag and some implements she asked me to bring in my carry on suitcase.
I haven’t forgotten anything. I’m on schedule, ahead of schedule in fact, and yet, I still feel like there is something I’m supposed to be doing right now. What the fuck is wrong with me?
Ana’s light is off by the time 8 o’clock rolls around and I’m heading out of my dorm to meet Elena. She must already be at the party… At least I can take some comfort in knowing she probably won’t be out that late. We have school tomorrow and I’m sure Ana isn’t used to operating on little to no sleep the way I am. Hopefully, it also means she won’t drink too much.
Unfortunately, I picture her and Reed dancing together the entire way to my car, her perfect breasts pressed into his chest or her ass brushing lightly against his…
Wait a minute… They’re dating now. She called him her boyfriend yesterday. What if she plans on sleeping with him tonight? Fuck! I’ve been so preoccupied with the fact that he has her and I don’t, I hadn’t considered that tonight might be the night he actually gets to have her.
No. No, I can’t handle that.
My mind is racing. I know that I’m on my way to fuck Elena and I know that because of this I have absolutely no right to have any kind of feelings or objections to whatever Ana decides to do with anyone, but I do. I really fucking do. I want her, not as a friend, but as mine. I want to be the one she presses herself up against, I want to be the one who gets to kiss her in the dining hall, I want to be the one who gets to take her home and fuck her at the end of the night. I want her, and it’s clear to me now that that want is what is most important to me. But there’s only one way I’m going to stand a chance if I’m going to fight for her.
I’m going to have to stop seeing Elena.
There are clauses in the contract for this, exit clauses that I hadn’t ever considered before. I’d never wanted them before. But right now, thinking about driving to the hotel in downtown Cambridge and fucking Elena just doesn’t… I’m not interested. I don’t want her.
Oh my god, I don’t want her.
There’s only one girl I want and she’s at a fraternity only a few blocks away. I have to go to her. I have to make sure she doesn’t leave with Reed. Whatever it takes, I’m going to win her over. I’m going to make her mine.
I throw my gym bag and suitcase in the back seat of my Audi and peel out of the parking lot, driving too fast down the narrow streets around campus to Massachusetts Ave where I know the fraternity house is. When I get there, I park the car on the side of the road and rush into the house, which is blaring music so loudly I felt like I was standing next to the speaker when I was still out in the street. It’s crowded inside and as I glance around the room, I see about fifty different brunettes bobbing up and down to T-Pain. Maybe I should text her and find out where she’s at.
I pull out my phone, but my eye is caught by one of the blue lights from the strobe twirling around on the ceiling and reflecting off the sequins on Kavanagh’s shirt. She’s just on the other side of the room and I can see Ana standing next to her. I watch as Kavanagh hands Ana her plastic cup, then turns around, and slips through the crowd, leaving Ana alone. Ana rises up on her tiptoes to scan the room as if she’s looking for someone but I’m out of her line of sight. Weaving my way through the party, I come up behind her and lean in closely so that she can hear me.
“Anastasia,” I say to get her attention, and she turns around, looking shocked when she sees me.
“Christian?” she asks, as if to check that it’s really me. “What are you doing here? I thought you were…”
“I know,” I say, cutting her off. “I couldn’t go.”
“Why?” she asks.
“I don’t know,” I tell her but before I can elaborate further, my blackberry vibrates in my hand. Elena is calling me. I should be at the hotel by now… Well, sorry Elena. I can’t deal with you right now. I need to win my girl.
I ignore the call and turn back to face the questioning blue eyes of the girl standing across from me.
“Do you want to dance with me?” I ask, and then I hold my hand out for hers.