I’m stirred awake the next morning by the first rays of sunlight shining in through the bedroom window. A smile creeps across my lips as the lingering soreness between my legs validates that what happened last night was real.
Christian and I had sex.
And it was… Perfect.
I moan appreciatively as I recall the feel of his lips on mine, his hands and his tongue on my body… the feel of him inside of me. Just thinking about it makes me ache for him and I realize now that I’ve opened Pandora’s Box.
Why was I trying to prevent this from happening again? Because I was worried that he’ll lose motivation to continue therapy if we were together? That seems ridiculous now. What could be better motivation than this? Something real and tangible to fight for.
Dr. Flynn said that isolation was Elena’s best weapon against Christian. She’s made herself the only person he feels like he can talk to. He thinks she’s the only one who understands him. He thinks that she’s the only one who will be there for him. It stands to reason then that he thinks she’s the only person that really cares about him.
If he’s really going to get away from her, he needs someone to take her place. I can do that, I want to do that. I have to continue to makes sure that he’s doing the work in therapy and with his family, but I see now that it will be so much easier for him to break this bond if he knows that when he comes out the other side, when Elena is gone, he won’t be alone.
I want to get back together with him.
It’s as simple as that. Now that we’ve crossed this line, there’s no going back and I don’t want to. I know I promised Ros that nothing would happen between us until the end of the summer, but I don’t want to wait until my internship is over and I know Christian doesn’t either. We can be professional at work. In fact, it’s almost exciting to think about having to keep this a secret. I’m done putting off my happiness and his happiness for other people, not even for Ros and most certainly not for Elena.
I came here to fight for Christian. Well… watch this.
I open my eyes and turn over to wake him up and confess what I’ve decided, but he isn’t lying next to me. He’s in a chair a few feet away from the bed, dressed again, looking as though he hasn’t gotten any sleep. There are prominent dark circles under his eyes, marring his beautiful face, and he’s looking at me with trepidation.
“Hey,” I say, concerned, “What are you doing over there?”
“Are you going to leave?” He asks, his voice rough from lack of sleep.
“Are you going to leave?” He says again. “I just- I just need to be prepared if you’re going to leave.”
As I stare back into the echo of panic I see in his eyes, I remember that when we finished last night, he was nervous. He asked me not to leave him and it looks like that fear wasn’t assuaged by my mumbled reassurances as I drifted off to sleep. He’s probably been sitting here, tormented by the fear that I’d probably wake up, regret what I’d done and then leave him again.
“Ana, I’m sorry,” He whispers. “You said you needed boundaries… You were drunk, I shouldn’t have… Jesus, what the fuck was I thinking?”
“No, Christian, stop. I’m fine,” I tell him. “I told you last night, I’m not going anywhere.”
“Really?” He asks, but I hear more doubt than hope in his tone.
“Yes, really,” I affirm again. He stares at me for long beat, almost like he’s waiting for some kind of qualifier, but I hold his gaze purposefully, trying to express my new found commitment physically as much as I feel it emotionally. “Christian, I promise. I’m here to stay.”
“Oh, thank god,” He says, sighing in relief and pushing his hands back through his already chaotic hair.
I hug the sheet tighter around me, since I’m realizing that I’m still naked from last night, and I reach my arms out for him.
“Come here,” I say, and he gets out of his chair and crawls under the covers with me. I cuddle up next to him, laying my head on his chest as he wraps his arms tightly around me.
“I’m not going to run anymore, Christian,” I tell him. “When I left you two years ago, I wasn’t ready to deal with what had happened, not with the trial and not with you and Elena. I didn’t know what I was up against, but I do now and I’m here to fight for you. I want to be with you, Christian.”
“You do?” He asks and when he turns to look at me, there is actual shock on his face.
“Yes, I do. I miss you and I have missed you for a very long time. I miss what we had. I’m ready to try and get it back and I want to start to now.”
It takes just a moment for my confession to hit him, but once it does, he grins broadly and then leans down and takes my lips with his and it feels as though he’s kissing me with the same hunger one would expect from a starving man. I kiss him back willingly, succumbing to his passion until I have to come up for air and he pulls away. I stare back into his eyes, suddenly bright again and shining down on me victoriously.
“You have no idea what this means to me, Anastasia. How happy this makes me,” He says. “I can’t tell you how much I’ve needed you every second since you’ve been away from me. I am never going to let you go again.”
“I wouldn’t let you,” I reply. “Just promise me that being together isn’t going to stop you from going to therapy. We still have a lot to work through, I just think it will be better if we do it together instead of apart.”
“Of course. Anything you want.”
“And… don’t get mad but, I don’t think we should tell anyone that we’re back together just yet.”
“Why?” He asks, and it’s jarring when, instead of anger, there is hurt and again, doubt, in his tone.
“Because everyone that we would tell, including our therapist, seems to think it’s a bad idea for us to be together right now.”
“Elliot doesn’t think it’s a bad idea,” He argues.
“That’s because Elliot thinks that my vagina has magical Christian healing powers,” I quip and, for a brief second, the hurt in his eyes is replaced with amusement.
“Elliot is right about that,” He says, but when I give him a pointed look that tells him I’m trying to be serious right now, he rolls his eyes. “Who gives a fuck what anyone else thinks?”
“I do, because the people who would give a fuck are the people I have to work with every day. Ros told me last night that your company has a no fraternization policy and if people found out about us, I could lose my job and you could get in trouble for sexual harassment.”
“Well that’s the stupidest thing Ros has ever said.”
He sighs. “Do you plan on suing me for sexual harassment?”
“Then I can’t get in trouble. Ana, I own the company, it’s not like I could be fired and I wouldn’t let anyone fire you. Not even Ros.”
“Okay so our jobs are safe, I still have to work with everyone in your office, Christian. I don’t want people knowing that I’m the fucking the CEO. They’ll question everything I do, they’ll think you’re giving me favors or that I’m only there because I’m willing to get naked for you. They’ll treat me differently, I’ll be ostracized and gossiped about, and not just by people at GEH. Remember the photographer in the market yesterday? I don’t want the media attention that will come from being your girlfriend while I’m your intern. They’ll turn me into the next Monica Lewinski and I don’t want those things printed about me.”
He frowns but he doesn’t have any way to argue that. As much as I know he wants to, we both know that he can’t protect me from everything.
“I’ll do what I can to minimize any fallout,” He says with a heavy sigh. “But, if this is what you really want, we don’t have to tell anyone about us until your internship is over.”
“But, just so I’m clear, we’re together now, right? You’re mine again?”
“Yes, I am,” I tell him.
He smiles and then kisses me again, leaning over me and wrapping his fingers around the bed sheet to pull it off of me, but I stop him and give him an indignant look.
“Can I take a shower before you prevail upon me yet again?” I ask, and he smiles wickedly at me.
“Oh, Ana, I don’t think you’re dirty enough yet,” He tells me. “But I can fix that.”
He dives at me again and I shriek, then giggle as he yanks the sheet away and pins me into his mattress.
“Christian!” I protest, and he groans and props himself over me, exhaling sharply.
“Fine, but let me join you.”
I look at him for a moment, and I am astounded by the change that I can already see in him. His eyes, which have been so flat and dark since I’ve been in Seattle, are already brighter, though I don’t know if that’s an actual change or simply because of his growing need for me. He really is unfairly beautiful and… he wants me. How could I turn that away?
“It is your shower,” I tell him, mischievously, and he smiles and reaches for my hand to pull me out of the bed.
Like the rest of his apartment, the bathroom is huge and overly grandiose. The walls and the floor are made of the same, ubiquitous, polished sandstone, except the long accent wall to the left which is covered by a dark brown stone textured to look almost like wood. There are two deep, square basin sinks resting on floating counters to the right, a wide walk-in glass shower that takes up the entire back wall, and a deep, egg shaped tub across from the sinks that looks more than big enough for two.
Christian opens the glass door to the shower and turns on the water, which pours onto the stone floor from a long rectangle in the ceiling, almost like rain, rather than from the wall like I’m used to. I’m already naked so while Christian strips out of his pajama bottoms and t-shirt, I step through the glass door to stand beneath the pouring water and I flinch. I’d forgotten how hot Christian takes his showers.
Seconds after, I hear the shower door close and Christian wraps his arms around me, kissing my neck for a minute before turning me around to face him. He takes my face in his hands, brushing his thumb over my cheek tenderly, but he’s gazing intently into my eyes as if he’s searching for an answer to an unspoken question.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, frowning up at him.
“Why are you still on the pill?” He replies and I look back at him with a cynical kind of glare.
“For the orgies, mostly,” I tell him sarcastically, and his expression hardens.
“Am I supposed to find that amusing?”
“Are you sleeping with somebody else?” He asks and I sigh with exasperation.
“No, I’m not. I haven’t slept with anyone other than you.”
“No, I haven’t,” I tell him, and I feel my cheeks heat as it’s slightly embarrassing to admit this to him.
“Good,” He says, but the relief in his voice makes me feel guilty because even though this is technically true, it’s not for the reason he thinks it is.
“I tried though,” I admit, and the relief in his expression fades into something close to horror.
“What? You did? With who?” He stutters.
“It doesn’t matter, nothing ever happened. Turns out I’m not really good at the whole seduction thing or even flirting really. Nothing ever even went past second base,” I tell him but, still, his jaw tenses and his nostrils flare.
“Barely though. More like, rounding first but out before he actually made it to the base,” I say, defensively, but he isn’t appeased.
“I’m going to need names,” He says tersely. “And any other information you have. Date of birth, mother’s maiden name, social security number…”
“I’m sorry, I don’t make it a habit of asking people their social security number.”
“Names then, Anastasia.”
I frown at him. “Christian!”
“No!” I exclaim and he narrows his eyes at me.
“Fine. Elliot will tell me.”
“Elliot doesn’t know anything.”
“Dead end again, Mr. Grey,” I tell him and he exhales sharply, his mouth set in a hard line as he again searches my eyes as if they will give him the answer. He’s quiet for only a second and then I see a small, self-satisfied smirk cross his lips.
“Kavanagh,” He says and I frown.
“Kate is my best friend, practically my sister. She won’t tell you anything,” I argue but he shakes his head.
“Oh, I’ll get it out of her.”
“No you won’t, and you’re not going to ask her.”
“Tell me and I won’t have to.”
“Fine, you want a name? I’ll give you one,” I tell him and he looks at me expectantly. I take a deep breath and look him very purposefully in the eye.
“Christian Grey,” I say, and he opens his mouth to argue but I hold my finger to his lips to keep him silent. “That’s the only name that matters, because that’s the name of the only man who I’ve ever cared about.”
I take my finger away from his lips and he stares back at me for a second, but he doesn’t say anything, which I assume is because he’s still mad or jealous or whatever it is that has his body so tense that I can actually feel the tightness in his muscles under my hands. Hesitantly, I lean through the water, up onto my tiptoes, and press my lips to his. He returns my kiss, mostly in a conciliatory gesture at first, but when I step into him, pressing my body against his, and the steam from the shower begins rising and swirling around us, it’s almost like something inside of him clicks and his hands reach up to the side of my face and he pushes me, a little roughly, into the shower wall.
“Where did he touch you, Anastasia?” Christian asks, and even though I probably wouldn’t have answered this question anyway, he traces his fingers down my body until he makes contact with my clitoris, and any sense of coherence I may have had to respond, is lost.
“Did he kiss you?” Christian asks.
“Yes,” I reply breathily.
“Here?” he continues, pressing his lips into mine.
“What about here?” He asks, and his lips trail down my chin to my neck.
“Yes,” I breathe again.
“Did he touch you here?” He asks, his hand moving up to my breast. I whimper in protest at the sudden loss of his fingers on my most sensitive area, and he pinches my nipple between his fingers, hard enough that he elicits a small cry from me. “Answer me.”
“Good,” He tells. “What about… here?” His fingers move down to my clitoris again, teasing me, electrifying me, and I moan.
“No, not there,” I tell him.
“No one. Only you,” I affirm.
“And why is that, Anastasia?”
“Why is it that no one else has ever touched you here?”
“I-I…” I stutter, too lost in what he’s doing to me to answer him.
“Answer me, or I’ll stop.”
“Because I’ve never wanted someone else,” I reply and he groans, increasing the pressure of his fingers on me.
“Good,” He says. “This belongs to me, Anastasia. You belong to me.”
“Christian,” I moan as his fingers dip inside of me, moving slowly in and out as he continues his ministrations on my clitoris with his palm.
“Say it, Anastasia,” He commands me. “I want to hear you say it.”
“I’m yours, only yours.”
“That’s right, baby,” He says, and he lifts me so that I have to wrap myself around him to keep myself from falling, and once I’m pinned into the slick stone wall at my back, he slides his erection inside of me.
I grip tightly around his neck as he thrusts forward and although he’s not exactly gentle with me, after a minute or two, I scrape my nails over his shoulders, urging him to take me harder.
“Mmmm, you want it rough?” He moans.
“Yes,” I tell him and he leans into me, his head dropping next to mine and I feel his teeth sink into the skin on my shoulder as he thrusts forward at the same time.
“Say it again, Anastasia,” He says as he slams into me.
“I’m yours!” I tell him, panting, “Oh fuck, Christian!”
“That’s it, baby. God, I love hearing you scream my name.”
He moves his hands further up my thighs, coaxing my legs further apart so that he can move deeper inside of me. I gasp with each thrust as he pushes me against the wall again and again. I’m lost in him and in the heat and steam of the shower, in the sound of his harsh breath as he moves in and out of me, in the increasing hoarseness of the near constant string of pleasure driven screams he draws out of me.
I look down at him, his perfectly sculpted body, a true work of art, glistening from the water pouring over both of us. His muscles flex with each tantalizing movement and when his thrusts begin to increase in intensity with the urgency of his approaching orgasm, he tilts his head backwards in ecstasy.
“I’m almost there, baby,” He warns me, and the thought of his release is enough to bring me right to the edge of mine.
“Ahhh!” I cry out as I feel myself building higher and higher, and his breath hisses discordantly through his teeth.
“Fuck, Ana! Come for me,” He commands, his voice harsh under the weight of the restraint he’s using to hold off his own orgasm until I am able to finish with him. “Right now, come for me!”
“Christian!” I cry out as I feel the dam burst and I’m overcome by wave after wave of pulsing pleasure. I’m spiraling down, losing myself in the euphoria of my release and he’s right there with me. We’re lost together.
When the spasms of my orgasm slow and I can feel the weight of my own body again, I collapse against his chest, panting into to him and he leans down to kiss my wet hair before pulling out of me and easing me back onto the shower floor.
He kisses me again, a gentle caress rather than the brutal assault he inflicted on me only moments ago and I moan a small, appreciative sound when he finally pulls away.
“I still can’t believe you’re really here,” He says incredulously, looking at me with wonderment before reaching down and picking up the bottle to pour a dab of shampoo in his hand.
“And I can’t believe I stayed away this long,” I tell him as he hands the bottle to me, but I’m too enraptured watching him to worry about such trivial things as washing now. I’m content to simply marvel at the utter perfection of him and the way the suds roll down his body as he massages the shampoo into his hair. When he notices me standing there, frozen and gawking at him, he raises an eyebrow at me and then steps beneath the cascading water to rinse.
“Miss Steele, I do believe you’re staring.”
“Am I distracting you?”
“Always,” I reply, and he smiles down at me, that heartbreakingly perfect smile that quite possibly makes him the most beautiful man on the planet. He runs his hands over his face to wipe away the excess water and then takes me in his arms again.
“I’ve given my staff the day off so that I could be alone with you today,” He tells me in a low murmur. “I think Mrs. Jones has left us croissants for breakfast. Finish up in here and then join me in the kitchen. My closet is just on the other side of the bathroom, you can wear something of mine until you decide to go downstairs and change.”
“Okay,” I agree, and he kisses me once more before stepping out of the shower and disappearing into his bedroom while wrapping a towel around his waist.
When I eventually get around to finishing up in the shower, I too wrap myself in one of the bath towels from the cupboard and then make my way to Christian’s closet in search of something clean to wear. I open the door and step into the closet, which is nearly the size of a small bedroom and begin my search for clothes.
There is a set of deep, cherry wood drawers built into the wall across from me and once I figure out how to open them (by pushing, not pulling), I begin searching for a pair of sweats and a t-shirt. I’m fairly callous when looking for pants, since I know everything in here is going to drown me anyway, but I dig carefully through his shirts, smirking to myself when I find an old Harvard t-shirt and slip it over my head. It’s a little too roomy for me, but it’s incredibly soft and it smells vaguely of Christian.
This is going to be mine now.
I try a few more drawers until I find his underwear, but when I push the folded boxer briefs on top to the side, something sea-green and entirely too lacy to be male underwear catches my eye. I look nervously over my shoulder to make sure Christian hasn’t decided to come check on me and then pull it out. To my horror, not only is it a pair of, quite frankly, slutty panties, it’s not the only pair I find. There is a black pair and nude pair too and my stomach roils as the horrible thought that immediately comes to mind is that these could belong to… Elena.
Oh my god, what if… I mean, did I just catch him in another lie? What if he’s sleeping with her again, and often enough that she feels the need to keep several spare pairs of underwear in his drawer? What if it’s not Elena at all? What if he’s had a parade of random girls come through here, some without even the dignity to make sure they’ve left with their freaking underwear after their one night stand? What if it’s someone I know? What if it’s Leila…?
I stop my snowballing train of thought and then steel myself, knowing this is not something I’m going to be able to ignore, and that I really shouldn’t anyway. Dr. Flynn said it was okay to fight with him, right? As long as it’s constructive. Well, here’s to screaming with a purpose.
I slam the dresser closed and march out of the room in search of Christian. As promised, he’s standing in the kitchen, pulling a plate of croissants out of the microwave.
“Hey, baby,” He says with a smile. “There’s Twining’s in here for you.”
I walk up to the breakfast bar, keeping a barrier between us and hold up the panties for him to see.
“What the fuck is this?” I ask him coldly and he turns to look at me, but the curiosity in his face melts away into something I think is shock. “You’re going to get pissed at me because I’ve kissed someone when you have another girl’s freaking panties stashed away in your drawer? Who are you fucking, Christian?”
“Ana, that’s not what that is. That’s nothing,” He says dismissively, and I feel anger boil up inside of me. Keep it constructive, Ana. Do not say anything you’re going to regret later.
“This isn’t nothing, Christian,” I tell him, trying to keep my voice even. “Are these Elena’s?”
“No!” He exclaims, almost disgusted.
“Then where did they come from?” I ask and he raises an eyebrow at me and then laughs. “You think this is funny?” I demand.
“Yes, I do,” He says pointedly. “Ana, those are yours.”
“What?” I ask, frowning, and he reaches out for them, holding up the black pair for me first.
“You wore this pair the night I took your virginity in Vegas. This is the pair you wore our first night together in my dorm room, and these ones I took the night I fucked you on Astor Harrington’s bed. Consequently, I have the pair you wore last night, too. Right here.” He reaches into the pocket of his pajama bottoms and pulls out the lavender tanga panties I was wearing last night.
“Oh…” I say, feeling embarrassed as I realize that, yes, I suppose I do vaguely recognize each pair. Oh hell. “I’m sorry, I guess I didn’t remember…”
“After everything I’ve done to try and prove the depth of my feelings for you, you really thought I’d let some other girl into my bed?”
“I don’t know. We were apart for so long…”
“Time means nothing, I said forever. I meant forever, Anastasia.”
“So, you really never…?” I ask and he shakes his head.
“Not even close?”
He frowns and looks down at the plate of croissants in front of him. I know that isn’t a great sign.
“Well, I mean… I thought about it. Once. Just once,” He admits.
“It was New Year’s Eve, the first year after you left me. It would have been our first year anniversary and I wasn’t… handling it well. Ros was going to some party downtown and she dragged me out to celebrate the deal that we landed with Amazon, but Gwen was there and it turns out that being around a couple falling in love with each other is not the best way to stop thinking about your brother getting to spend New Year’s with the woman you love when you can’t. I remember, I kept worrying about who you were going to kiss at Midnight and eventually, Elliot stopped answering my texts and my imagination started going wild. So, I went across the street to the Hotel 1000 and ordered a few drinks at the bar there.”
“And there was a woman there. She was looking at me like she was interested so, I bought her a drink. We talked for a while and then she invited me up to her room. I was going to say yes. I was going take her upstairs and just… try to forget about everything for one night. But the moment I imagined what it would be like, what it would feel like, I realized that there was no pleasure in the idea of having her. It felt like cheating on you and it made me want to be sick. So I paid the tab, told her goodnight and I went home. I haven’t thought about anyone else since.”
“Really. Ana, it’s only you. It’s only ever going to be you. You’re the love of my life, how could I ever want anyone else?”
I’m left speechless, dumbfounded even, by his admission. Still, after all this time, after everything that’s happened between us and after I did everything I could to cut him out of my life, his devotion hasn’t wavered at all. I walk around the bar and wrap my arms around his neck, pulling myself up so that I can kiss him.
“I’m sorry I doubted you,” I tell him.
“I’m sorry I’ve ever given you reason.”
He kisses me again and when he pulls away, I smile and then pick up a pair of panties off the counter. “These have been cleaned, right?”
“Of course they’ve been cleaned,” He says, rolling his eyes. “You think I’d just keep an old, worn pair of panties in my underwear drawer?”
“Like that’s any better than having them at all?” I laugh. “But I’m glad to know you’re not disgusting, just perverted.” I give him a sly smile and reach down to pull the panties on under my t-shirt.
“Excuse me, those are mine now,” He says, and I give him a challenging look.
“Then you’ll have to get them off of me, Mr. Grey.”
“Oh, challenge accepted, Miss Steele,” He replies, and he picks me up and places me on the counter. I wrap my legs and arms around him but just as his lips come crashing down on mine, we hear the high ping of the elevator from the foyer.
“I don’t know, Kate, maybe she went over to Luke’s apartment for the night,” A voice that sounds suspiciously like Elliot says.
“She doesn’t have her cell phone, how would she call Luke to come and get her?”
“Fuck,” Christian hisses, and he yanks me down from the counter, pulling the t-shirt I’m wearing down over my barely covered behind as much as he can.
“What if she was kidnapped? I’m telling you we should call the police,” Kate continues, and both she and Elliot step into the living room and see Christian and I standing in the kitchen, all wet hair and only partially dressed.
A broad smile creeps slowly across Elliot’s face. “Well, good morning. What have you two been doing?” He asks in a teasing voice.
“We’re about to have breakfast,” Christian says in a cool, easy tone, despite the fact that we’ve nearly just been caught red-handed. “Would you care to join us?”
“Worked up an appetite?” Elliot asks pointedly and Christian rolls his eyes.
“Ana left her purse at the bar last night and was locked out of her apartment. I offered to let her stay here until we could collect her things.”
“You have a key…” Elliot argues, undeterred.
“I was tired,” I counter.
“I bet you were,” Elliot says, grinning wider now and Christian huffs with exasperation.
“Can I help you, Elliot?” He asks.
“Well, Kate was going to drop off Ana’s purse for her and then we were heading to Mom’s for brunch. I thought you might like to join us. Of course, if you had other plans…”
Christian frowns and I know it’s because he did have other plans, but going to his parents’ house means he’ll get to spend time with Mia and that is important to him too. Especially after what happened Friday night. They still haven’t really talked about that yet.
“Do you want to go and have brunch with my family?” Christian asks, his tone making it clear that if I don’t go, he won’t either.
“Sure, sounds great,” I tell him. “Your mom has been asking me to come over.”
“Good, then it’s settled,” Kate says quickly. “Why don’t you two keep each other company for a while and Ana and I will head down to her apartment so she can… change. Meet you downstairs in twenty minutes?”
“Sounds good,” Elliot says with a shrug.
Kate gives me an impatient look and then nods her head sharply towards the foyer, so I scurry around the counter, pulling the t-shirt down to cover as much of myself as possible, and make my way to Christian’s room to grab the sweats I left in the closet. When I come back into the living room, Elliot is telling Christian how the perfect complement to his new couch would be a 110″ LCD TV and NFL Sunday Ticket.
I give Christian a sympathetic glance and then follow Kate into the foyer.
Once we’re in the elevator, I expect her to immediately start giving me the third degree, but she doesn’t. She just stares at me expectantly, which is fine because it’s really not that hard for me to ignore. The doors open and I lead the way down the hall to my apartment. Kate pulls my silver clutch out of her purse and as I unlock the door, I almost think I’m going to get away with not talking about what she saw upstairs, but the second I hear the door close behind me, the examination begins.
“What’s going on?” She asks.
“We’re getting ready to go to brunch,” I reply, evasively.
“Cut the crap, Ana. Don’t act like I just didn’t find you naked in Christian Grey’s apartment.”
“I wasn’t naked!” When you found me.
“No, you were just standing around in his t-shirt after you both had clearly been in the shower.”
“He has more than one shower, Kate.”
She narrows her eyes. “You really expect me to believe that?”
“I don’t expect you to believe anything,” I tell her, hoping my cavalier attitude will be enough to dissuade her line of questioning. “Nothing happened. Believe what you want, I don’t care.”
She frowns and I turn around and walk quickly into my bedroom, pulling out my phone and plugging it into the charger by the bed. Kate only bought me 20 minutes, so I don’t have time to do much more than pull my hair up in a messy bun, throw on some tinted moisturizer and mascara and change out of Christian’s clothes. I smile to myself as I tuck his Harvard t-shirt into my top dresser drawer, and then pull a flowy cerulean colored sundress out of my closet. When I’m dressed, I pick up my phone again and see that, over the course of the night, I’ve missed six calls and three voicemails.
I flip through my missed texts, and surprisingly, I find one from Christian from about a minute ago.
I plan on getting those panties back by the end of the night, Anastasia. Make no mistake about that
I shake my head but decide not to dignify his threats with a response. I even think briefly of changing my underwear so I can preemptively circumvent him, because I know that he’s more than capable of breaking my already weak self-control, but… where’s the fun in that?
I smile at the challenge and exit out of my text messages. Before I can slip the phone in my bag though, I notice the google notification in the taskbar…
Google Alert: Christian Grey
TMZ, May 23rd 2010: Grey’s New Love? Summer might not be the only thing in the air for Seattle’s most eligible bachelor, Grey Enterprises Holdings CEO, Christian Grey. Mr. Grey was spotted shopping in Pike’s Market with a mystery young woman on Saturday afternoon. Sources say the new couple looked very cozy with one another, talking, laughing and even canoodling when they were sure no one was looking […]
I click the article and look carefully for pictures of the two of us together or any mention of my name. To my relief I come up empty handed, but still, I know this isn’t a good sign. If there were paparazzi in the market just on some anonymous tip to one news outlet, what will an article on TMZ do? Then, as if the universe is trying to warn me what’s in store, my phone buzzes again, and again… and again…
Google Alert: Christian Grey
X17Online, May 23rd 2010: Eligible no more! Christian Grey, CEO of Grey Enterprises was seen out and about with a new mystery girl, and it was hot, hot, hot! Though no statements have been released by Mr. Grey himself, sources close to the new couple say that things are very serious. “They’re in love and it won’t be long before there is an engagement announcement.”
Google Alert: Christian Grey
Perez Hilton, May 23rd 2010: Grey not gay! Apparently, Christian Grey was seen in Seattle this weekend with a mystery girl who is believed to be his new girlfriend. Eyewitness accounts say they were quite handsy with one another, but there is an astounding lack of evidence to support these claims. Is this possibly Mr. Grey’s PR department trying to cover up the sexual preferences of the most powerful man in Seattle? Pics or it didn’t happen Grey!
Google Alert: Christian Grey:
EOnline, May 23rd 2010: Hot New Couple Alert! Christian Grey, CEO of Grey Enterprises Holdings, is rumored to have a new woman in his life. No name or pictures of the lucky lady have been released, but EOnline will keep you updated as this story develops.
I look down at the phone, feeling a surge of panic but know there isn’t anything I can do about this now. Surely, Christian has some kind of PR person that can deal with this, right? Even if they can’t just make it go away, I’m sure they can spin it into something else.
I try to imagine what that might be as Kate and I leave my apartment and head downstairs where we find Christian and Elliot waiting by the elevator. As we take the walkway towards Christian’s parking places, I tug gently on his sleeve to get him to fall back a few paces from Kate and Elliot.
“I should drive to your parents’ house with Kate,” I tell him, and he raises an eyebrow at me so I hand him my phone to show him the google alerts. “We’re trying to keep this secret, remember? Elliot was never good at keeping secrets, and he works at GEH. If I go with Kate, it might throw them off the scent.”
He looks down at the screen of my phone, dismayed, before turning back to me. “So, you’re saying you don’t want us to be seen together in public at all?”
I shake my head. “I promise, just until the end of the summer.”
He frowns but doesn’t argue with me. Instead, he sighs and turns to look at Elliot.
“Elliot!” He calls, and his brother turns around to look at him. “Want to drive the Veyron?”
Elliot’s jaw drops open at he looks at Christian as though he must have heard him incorrectly. “Are you serious?” He asks.
“Completely. But just know that if you so much as scratch it, I will literally murder you.”
“Deal,” Elliot says excitedly, ignoring Christian’s ridiculous threat. He takes the keys Christian holds out for him and practically runs to the driver’s side door of the sports car parked next to Kate’s BMW. Christian rolls his eyes and follows after him while I climb into the car with Kate.
“Why didn’t you want to go with Christian?” Kate asks as we follow Elliot out of the parking garage.
“Well besides the fact that you’re my best friend and I don’t think I should get the third degree for wanting to spend time with you…” I begin, “Christian went with me down to Pike’s Market yesterday and there was this photographer there trying to get my name. Christian stopped him from getting a picture of the two of us together, but there were still a bunch of google alerts that came out this morning saying he was dating someone. I just don’t want people thinking we’re together since I’m his intern.”
“So… you two really aren’t hooking up?” Kate asks.
“No, Kate,” I lie. “I told you, we’re just friends. But a magazine isn’t going to care about the truth, they’re going to print whatever sells and the hot, young CEO of the fastest growing company in the country sleeping with an intern has scandal written all over it. I don’t want to be identified as his mystery girlfriend and so it’s best we’re not seen together in public at all until my internship is over, or the story goes away. Or they lie and identify someone else, I guess.”
“I’ll do it,” She says suddenly, and then turns to look at me, smiling broadly.
“Do what?” I ask, raising an eyebrow at her.
“I could be his mystery girlfriend. It would be hilarious! Oooh, and then it could come out that I’m sleeping with his brother and we could have this huge break up that leads to a he said/she said tabloid war. It’ll be epic!”
I roll my eyes. “Kate, I think his goal is to stay out of the papers.”
“Well that’s boring,” She replies, disappointed. I laugh and shake my head.
Elliot takes full advantage of the Bugatti’s horsepower and it isn’t long before they are nowhere in sight. By the time we pull up to the Grey’s house, we find both Christian and Elliot waiting next to Christian’s car for us and it looks as though they’ve been here a few minutes at least.
“It was so amazing, Kate,” Elliot says as we take the walk up to the front door. “It practically glides over the road. There’s no drag at all. Christian, I think as a thank you to me for never exercising my right as your older brother to beat the shit out of you, you should gift me your car.”
“I think you’re fucking delusional,” Christian replies with a laugh.
We walk into the house, but since no one is there to greet us at the front door, we have to go on a search for the rest of the Greys. We find them in the kitchen, Grace stirring a pot on the stove, Carrick slicing fruit on the counter next to her and Mia sitting at the breakfast bar on her phone. They look up to greet us, and Grace’s eyes widen with surprise when she sees Christian.
“Christian!” She says happily, reaching down to turn off the gas burner and pulling the pot off the heat before walking around the counter and wrapping him in a hug. “I’m so happy to see you, I didn’t know you were coming.”
“Elliot came and got Ana and I this morning,” He explains and while Grace gives her other son an appreciative hug, I turn my focus on Carrick. He’s staring at Christian, jaw tense, but his expression otherwise unreadable.
“Dad,” Christian greets him with a stiff nod.
“Christian,” Carrick replies with the same formal kind of air.
There is an awkward tension between the two of them as they stare intently at one another. It’s almost like a weird power struggle between them and the atmosphere of the room is uncomfortable for a long moment until Grace finally breaks the silence.
“Well, breakfast is almost ready. Why don’t you boys go set the table? Mia, help your brothers.”
I follow Christian into the kitchen and pull forks and knives out of the drawer next to the sink while he reaches into the cabinet to collect plates, and then everyone aside from Grace and Carrick heads into the dining room.
“Hey, thanks for covering for me the other night, Christian. That was really cool of you,” Mia says as we lay the dishes around the table, but Christian just looks up and glares at her.
“Don’t think it’s because I approve,” He says. “We still need to have a talk about that.”
“Talk about what?” Elliot asks.
“About your little sister doing drugs at a college party on Friday night,” Christian snarls.
“What?” Elliot and Kate shriek in unison.
“Shh!” Mia hisses, glancing nervously at the kitchen door. “Keep your voice down, Mom and Dad will hear you.”
“Good,” Elliot says. “Mom!”
“Elliot!” Mia protests.
“Knock it off, Elliot,” Christian says quietly. “If Dad finds out, he’s just going to make it worse. I’m handling it.”
Elliot gives Christian a suspicious look as Grace pops her head around the corner.
“What is it, dear?” She asks and Elliot caves under Christian’s hard glare.
“Is this how you the want the table set?” He asks.
Grace raises an eyebrow but glances quickly around the table. “It looks fine to me,” She says, “I think we’re done in here, why don’t you all come help bring the food to the table?”
Grace has outdone herself with eggs benedict made with smoked salmon, roasted herb potatoes, blueberry lemon scones, a pile of bacon, and a fresh fruit salad. She chats happily with everyone as the bowls are passed around the table, asking each of us in turn how our lives and work are going. Elliot is much more enthusiastic when talking about work now than he ever was in Cambridge and Kate happily tells everyone how much she’s already been able to accomplish at Kavanagh Media this summer.
“And how about you, Ana?” Grace asks. “I hear you’ve written a book and it might get published. That’s wonderful dear.”
“Yeah,” I reply, feeling a little embarrassed by the praise in her tone. “It’s being edited now and I filed for a copyright about a month ago.”
“What’s it about?” She asks.
“Oh, uh…” I falter, looking uneasily at Christian who is watching me intently. “I suppose it’s mostly about overcoming depression. Really I think it’s a examination of the human condition and the resilience of hope when we’re forced to deal with unexpected loss.”
“It’s brilliant,” Kate interjects, smiling proudly at me. “Seriously, it’s unbelievably moving. Even Elliot teared up a little in the end.”
“I was not prepared,” Elliot says.
“So you’ve both read it then?” Christian asks.
“Of course we have,” Kate says. “I’m the one who encouraged her to submit it for her advanced fiction writing class. I’ve been pushing her to get it published since I started reading the first drafts.”
Christian frowns, and I know it’s because when he asked for a copy I told him no. I just think he’s a little too close to the project. Kate was far enough removed that she could enjoy it objectively, I worry that if I let Christian read it, it will hurt him.
“Well, I’d love a copy,” Grace says. “It’s such an amazing accomplishment. Carrick and I are very proud of you, Anastasia.”
“Thanks, Grace,” I say, flushing again.
“And how is your internship going this summer?”
“Fine,” I tell her, and I’m disappointed that she continues to look at me, clearly wanting details of my first week. Anything I’d have to talk about with her on this topic is going to be underwhelming compared to what Kate and Elliot have shared. “This week I reviewed a bunch of contracts and I… didn’t get Christian’s coffee wrong even one time.”
“Coffee?” Carrick scoffs, and then he turns a hard look on Christian. “You have a Harvard student who is about to become a published author working in your office and you’re using her to get you coffee?”
“No,” Christian says irritably. “She’s here for something much more important than coffee, but the project I have for her doesn’t fall under GEH control until June first. She’s been helping my assistant in the meantime.”
“I see,” Carrick says shortly, and then he turns back to his food.
“Carrick,” Grace prods him gently. “It’s been awhile since you’ve seen your son. Surely you’re interested in what he’s been up to.”
Carrick frowns but under Grace’s insistent gaze, he turns to Christian once more. “How’s business?” He asks.
“Fine,” Christian says, briskly. “Actually, it’s great. My fiber optics division just secured a contract that will more than double its revenue outlook. GEH’s bottom line should surpass a billion dollars by the end of the fiscal year.”
“Wait, so you’re officially going to be a billionaire?” Elliot asks.
“Come July, yes,” Christian says.
“Holy shit!” Elliot says and then his face lights up. “Well my birthday is in August so let’s talk about what colors that Bugatti comes in.”
“Keep dreaming, Elliot,” Christian says, fighting to keep the smile off his face. “I am finally going to be able to buy my jet though. Boeing has been holding something special for me.”
“A private jet?” Kate asks excitedly.
“Yes, I travel a lot for business and I’ve never been fond of commercial airlines. They’re very crowded.”
“Well that’s wonderful, son,” Grace says. “Your father and I are so proud of you. All of these different businesses that you’ve brought together and made successful, it’s just astounding.”
“Yes, diversification is important,” Carrick adds. “Fiber Optics, Construction, Manufacturing… tell me, Christian, how’s the salon business these days?”
I drop my fork and the clatter of it hitting my plate reverberates through the dining room as everyone falls silent and turns nervously to face both Carrick and Christian. They’re both glaring at each other, neither backing down from the unspoken challenge behind Carrick’s words and the sense of tension in the room returns, so thick you could cut it with a knife.
“Booming,” Christian says, shortly. “More and more profitable every quarter.”
“Well I suppose that isn’t difficult when the person you have running it has no sense of ethics. Should we be worried about the type of business practices you’re undoubtedly turning a blind eye on?”
“Carrick!” Grace says angrily, but Christian ignores her.
“I assure you, every division of my company is held to the highest ethical standards and that includes my management staff.”
“I’m sure it does,” Carrick replies, and the muscle in Christian’s jaw twitches. It’s silent around the table as we all try to avoid saying anything to set either of them off, until eventually, Mia pushes her plate forward and backs her chair away from the table.
“Well, this has been fun,” She says sarcastically. “But if you all are just going to fight, then I’m going to go ahead and leave. I’m late to meet my friends anyway.” She begins walking around the table but Christian reaches out to stop her.
“What friends are you meeting?” He asks, his gaze baring into her.
“Just some kids from school, relax,” She replies, yanking her arm out of Christian’s grasp and then she turns to look at Grace.
“Thanks for another great family get together, Mom,” She says. “We really should do it more often.”
“Amelia!” Carrick yells, but Mia has already disappeared into the kitchen.
“Great, Dad,” Elliot says, angrily. “You couldn’t even give us just one morning?”
Carrick glances around the table to each and every person giving him a disapproving look and he shakes his head and picks his cell up off the table. “I have some phone calls to make,” He says.
“Sure, just walk away!” Grace says, but Carrick too simply storms out of the dining room leaving us all to sit over half eaten plates of food, surrounded by the harsh words that still seem to be echoing around the room. I look at Christian, and he’s pushing his food around his plate, grinding his teeth together.
“Mom…” He says eventually, but Grace interrupts him.
“I’m sorry, Christian,” She says. “He’s just… he’s hurt more than anything. He loves you, you know he loves you, but he’s just struggling to deal with some of his own disappointments…”
“I don’t care about him,” Christian says. “I need to talk to you about Mia.”
“I know,” Grace sighs. “But, she’s a teenager. It’s a phase, you both with through it too. She’ll come around.”
“I don’t think so,” Christian says. “I think she’s following more in my footsteps than Elliot’s.”
“What do you mean?” Grace asks, and her face morphs with sudden foreboding.
“She didn’t come to my house after her ballet auditions on Friday,” Christian says. “I picked her up from a party she was at that got but busted by the police. I was able to stop her from being arrested but she was drinking and she was smoking weed.”
“What?” Grace snaps. “Why didn’t you tell me that?”
“Because, I was afraid of what Dad would do if you two found out. I’m worried about her. I think she’s having a harder time dealing with all of this family discord than she’s letting on and she’s making unhealthy decisions to cope with it. I know what that’s like, and I don’t want her to go through what I went through. Ballet is a healthy outlet for her and I was afraid that if Dad found out she’d been doing drugs, he’d make her quit and try to lock her down like he did to me. That’s only going to make it worse. She needs understanding and guidance, she doesn’t need to be punished.”
“Okay, you’re right,” Grace says with a nod. “I’ll talk to her alone this evening and we’ll come up with a plan together. Maybe she could take a few extra dance classes a week or maybe she could even get a job, even if it’s just to occupy her time.”
“I could find something for her if you need me to,” Christian offers, and Grace nods.
“I’ll talk to her about it and see what she thinks.”
“Good, let me know.”
While Christian, Elliot and Grace discuss the Mia issue further, Kate and I clear the dishes from the table and clean the kitchen. We’re hovering awkwardly for a while, glancing nervously in the direction of Carrick’s office as we wonder if he’ll even come out again while Christian is here. He doesn’t though and it isn’t long before the three of them come out of the dining room, looking a little more confident in their plan of action.
“Are you ready to go?” Christian asks me. “I can give you a ride home so Kate doesn’t have to drive into Seattle to drop you off.”
“Sure, thanks,” I say, remembering almost too late that he’s saying this because we’re supposed to be keeping our newly rekindled relationship a secret.
We each hug, Grace, Elliot and Kate goodbye and then he leads me back through the house towards his car. The moment we’re through the front door, he clasps his hand around mine and I rub my thumb over the side of his hand reassuringly.
“Are you okay?” I ask as we pull down the long driveway, the engine of the Veyron growling beneath the hood as Christian turns onto the road.
“I’m fine,” He says.
“You can talk to me if you need to,” I tell him. “I mean, that was… intense back there. I just want you to know that if you ever need someone to vent to or talk to about anything, that I’m here.”
He glances over at me and then reaches over to place his hand on my knee, stroking his fingers gently over the fabric of my dress. “Thank you,” He tells me. “I’m glad you came today.”
“This really is real, isn’t it?” He asks. “You and me?”
“Of course it’s real, Christian,” I tell him and then, to prove my point, I unfasten my seatbelt so I can lean over the distance between us and kiss him on the cheek.
“Get back in your seat,” He says disapprovingly, although he’s trying to suppress a smile. “I’m driving a $2.5 million car right now and you’re distracting me.”
“I’m not sorry, Mr. Billionaire,” I tell him, purposefully pulling my dress up over my knee as I cross my legs so that his fingers make contact with my exposed skin. He looks over at me again, and lets out a long frustrated breath before turning his eyes on the road and putting his foot down on the gas.
The moment he pulls the car into the parking space back in the garage under Escala, he reaches over and pulls me into him, kissing me hard.
“Let’s get you upstairs and naked,” He whispers against my lips and I moan in approval.
Once we’re out of the car, he takes my hand and practically drags me down the long walkway towards the elevator. I wait impatiently as he enters the code for his apartment and the second the doors clothes, he grabs ahold of me, pins me to the wall and imprisons my lips with his again.
Our hands fly hungrily over each other, gripping and pulling at the other’s clothes while the elevator moves at what feels like a crawl towards the 31st floor. I feel Christian’s fingers entwine in my hair, tugging slightly so that my head lolls back and he can kiss my neck. He reaches under my dress, gripping my behind, and then moves his hand down my thigh, pulling it up over his hips and then lifting me into the air. I wrap myself around him and kiss him again and once the elevator pings and the doors open, he carries me into his apartment.
We don’t make it to the bedroom. Instead, he sets me on the back of his couch and we both immediately start peeling our clothes off. Once my dress and panties are discarded on the floor by his feet, he grips my knees, brings me to the edge of the couch and pulls my knees apart. The movement causes me to fall backwards so that I’m upside down and my head is resting on the cushion. I can’t see him this way, but I can feel him. He strokes himself against me, lubricating the tip of his erection before he plunges inside of me.
I gasp, loudly, as the position we’re in gives him the perfect angle to the place inside of me that ignites my body with pleasure.
“Hold on, Ana,” He grunts as he begins thrusting in and out of me. “This is going to be quick, and this is going to be hard.”
I whimper and grasp onto the back of the couch as he wraps my leg around him so that he can force himself deeper into me. His hands clamp down on my hips and since my position over the couch leaves me unable to move, he pulls me back into him. He’s gripping me so tightly, I wonder briefly if his fingers will leave behind bruises, but I don’t care. I want him to hold me tighter, to take me harder. It’s a hedonistic masochism that is beyond rational thought and I’m enraptured with it.
“Oh god, Christian, harder!” I beg and miraculously, he complies, groaning as he pounds into me again and again.
“Like that, baby?” He asks. “Is that going to make you come?”
“Yes!” I scream and he growls a deep, animalistic sound.
“God, you’re beautiful like this,” He whispers. “And you feel so fucking good.”
He rests his hand down on my stomach, just above my pubic bone, and he presses down so that I feel him moving against the front wall of my vagina and my body begins to shudder as my orgasm approaches.
“That’s it, give it up for me, baby. I want to feel you come on my cock.”
He shifts me again, pulling my legs together and moving them over his shoulder so that he can grip onto me while he thrusts again and again. I don’t last much longer and when his hand falls down to my breast, gripping me tightly before tugging gently on my nipple, I’m sent falling over the edge and I come, spectacularly, around him, pushing him to his own release.
He stills inside of me, resting his face against my legs as we come down from the high together. I feel exposed here, naked and sprawled out in his living room in the middle of the day, when I’m so used to his staff lurking around just out of sight.
“You’re sure Taylor isn’t here?” I ask, reaching up to cover my breasts and he smirks down at me.
“Don’t worry, baby. You wouldn’t be here like this if we weren’t alone. Taylor is with his daughter. He won’t be back until tomorrow morning,” Christian says.
I wince as he pulls out of me and reaches down to pick up my dress off the floor. He tosses it to me and as I right myself on the couch and slip the dress over my head, he holds up my discarded panties, his eyes shining with mirth.
“Shit!” I say as I realize what’s happened.
“Pleasure doing business with you, Miss Steele,” He says with an overly satisfied smile, tucking the panties into his fist, and I can do nothing but glare at him as he picks up his own clothes and saunters victoriously through the apartment towards his bedroom.