Chapter 21

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“Turn right here and then take the first left,” I instruct Christian as we approach the turn off to my house. He pulls into my neighborhood, following my directions, and my anxiety mounts as we turn onto Nolan drive. My mom can be a lot sometimes and I’m nervous about her reaction to Christian and his reaction to her. I think of Grace, poised and quiet, nearly the exact opposite of my mother. I can only hope Christian finds her eccentricity charming.

We pass the small, old-Vegas style suburban houses with lava rock lawns and palm trees, until my house comes into view.

“It’s that one there on the left,” I tell him and he pulls into the driveway next to my mom’s maroon Toyota Camry. The garage is open and I can see Bob inside, leaning over the frame of the car he is restoring. He stands and pears out at us, eyes squinting as he tries to see through the window. I wave at him and he turns his attention to me, recognition dawning on his face.

“That’s a nice car,” Bob says when we all pile out. He stares down at the winged B emblem in astonishment. “Is that a Bentley?”

“Yes, but it’s a rental,” Christian reassures him, reaching his hand out in greeting. “My name is Christian Grey, I’m Ana’s boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend?” Bob asks, looking at me confused. I nod and he pulls a cloth out of his back pocket, does his best to wipe the grease from the car away, and takes Christian’s hand.

“Pleasure to meet you, Christian. I’m Ana’s stepdad, Bob Adams.”

“The pleasure is all mine, sir,” Christian says. “That’s a beautiful car you’ve got there. Is that the ’57 Bel Air?”

“Yeah,” Bob says, impressed. “You know cars?”

“One of my greatest loves, sir,” Christian says. Bob lights up with happiness. Nothing makes his day like getting to talk old cars. Well that was easy. Perhaps it’s not just me and no one is immune to Christian’s charm.

“Well come on over here, son,” Bob says with heartfelt glee. “You’ve got to check out this engine. I’ve just dropped in a 283 power pack V8 with automatic transmission.”

“I’d love to, but I’m anxious to get in and meet Ana’s mother. I’d like to take the both of you to lunch if you have the time.”

“Oh,” Bob replies. His excitement drops at the loss of getting to show off his pride and joy but he’s not entirely crestfallen. “Uh, yeah, great! I think she’s in the kitchen.”

“Thank-you, sir,” Christian says, and he turns back to me, hand reaching out for mine. “Shall we?”

I take his hand and we begin up the walk towards the front door, but Kate and Elliot don’t follow.

“Are you coming?” I ask, pausing at the walk just off the driveway.

“No, I want to take a look at this engine,” Elliot says. “283 power pack, you say? What’s that, like 450 horsepower?”

“Mom?” I call when Christian and I walk through the front door.

“Ana is that you?” I hear her reply. “What are you doing back already? I thought you and Kate were staying down there until tomo-.”

Her sentence is cut off when she comes around the corner and sees Christian holding my hand. I watch her mouth pop open as she stands there gaping at us. Her hands, which she had been drying on a dish towel, are now frozen, like the rest of her.

“Mom, this is Christian Grey,” I say, gesturing to him.

“Her boyfriend,” Christian adds emphatically as he reaches his hand out for her. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Adams.”

“Christian? The boy who sent the earrings?” My mom asks, finally finding her voice.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I thought you said he wasn’t your boyfriend,” My mom says, turning back to me. She still looks stunned and I remember Kate’s reaction when I first told her that I liked Christian. Apparently everyone thought I was going to die alone.

“It’s a fairly recent development, Mrs. Adams,” Christian continues. “I hope you have some free time. I was hoping to take you and Mr. Adams to lunch this afternoon.”

“Um… sure let me just, uh…” She seems lost for words and I’m confused by her speechlessness. My mother has never been one who was short on conversation. I was prepared for an embarrassing torrent of giddiness and questions. What am I supposed to do with silence?

“Ana,” She continues. “Will you help me in the bedroom for a moment?”

“Sure,” I say. Christian looks down at me, confused, and I shrug. I don’t know what her problem is either. I follow my mother down the hall and just as we reach her bedroom, I hear Kate come through the front door. Christian directs her to us and she slips in through the door just as my mom turns around to close it.

“What is going on, Anastasia? I feel like you made a point to tell us he wasn’t your boyfriend over Christmas and now you’re bringing him over here without warning?”

“A lot changed last night,” I say. Kate snorts and I glare at her.

“What happened?” My mom asks, thankfully not fully tipped off by Kate’s obnoxious reaction.

“He surprised me by showing up with Elliot. We talked about some things and realized we both wanted to be together,” I say, trying to keep my tone casual despite the images of last night replaying in my mind. She continues to stare at me with a look of trepidation for a few moments but, eventually, a spark of excitement breaks through her stoic facade and her face melts into a smile.

Yep, there it is.

“Your very first boyfriend,” She says radiantly. “And he’s gorgeous! You didn’t tell me he looked like that. He’s like a young James Dean.”

“James Dean is too pretty,” Kate says, thoughtfully. “Christian’s a little edgier… like a better groomed Penn Badgley.”

“Okay, first of all, Christian looks absolutely nothing like James Dean or Penn Badgley,” I say before turning my attention solely on Kate. “And second of all, you watch too much Gossip Girl. Now, can we please get back out there, you’re making this so weird.”

“You didn’t think he was nice,” My mother says worriedly, ignoring my plea and turning to Kate.

“That’s not really true,” She replies. “He’s very good with Ana because he’s pretty much obsessed with her. He’s just like that brooding-woe-is-me-mysterious type of guy and I think that’s annoying.”

“Well, judging by those earrings he sent her and the fact he goes to Harvard, he must be wealthy. I suppose that’s good because he’ll be able to take care of her, but I worry about his priorities. Wealthy families seem to focus more on things than experiences. I don’t want Ana getting caught up in all of that and missing out on life,” My mother frets.

“Oh don’t worry, the Grey men are really grounded. Grace is a wonderful mother who is super family oriented,” Kate reassures her.

“Oh my god, can we please not do this right now?” I ask, exasperated. They both turn to look at me with confused expressions.

“What do you mean, Ana?” My mom asks.

“Mom, he just asked to take you to lunch so you can get to know each other, and instead of just taking the opportunity he offered you, you bolted back here to talk about him with Kate. He’s just standing out there alone while you form your opinion of him based on the account of someone who has spent two of the last four months hating him. Can we please just go to lunch? I’m sure you’ll fall in love with him after one conversation.”

“Oh there is no need to go out,” My mom says dismissively. “I’ll just throw something together here.”

She cups my face, tenderly brushing her thumb over my cheek as her eyes glisten with pride because I have a new boyfriend, and exits the room. When my mom is gone, I turn and glare at Kate.

“Maybe Elliot and I should go out to lunch,” She suggests sheepishly.

“You think?”

“Jeez, Ana,” Kate says as she jumps off the bed. “Sex makes you mean.”

I roll my eyes as she leaves the room and then follow her to the living room where Christian is speaking with my mom.

“It’s really no trouble, Mrs. Adams. Honestly,” Christian says with a smile.

“Nonsense. I’ll just put a salad together. Ana will you please tell Bob I’ll have lunch ready in a few minutes?”

“I’ll tell him,” Kate offers. “Elliot and I are going to go out so we can spend some time alone together before he leaves in a few hours.”

“Thank you, Kate dear,” My mom says as she disappears into the kitchen, leaving Christian and I alone.

“Is everything okay?” Christian asks, reaching out to tuck a loose strand of hair behind my ear.

“Fine,” I say. “Sorry about that… with my mom. She’s a little flighty sometimes.”

“I was really hoping they’d let me take them out,” He says uncomfortably. “I’d feel better about this meeting if it was over filet mignon.”

“This isn’t a business meeting, Christian. You don’t have to impress them with money. You don’t need to impress them at all. They’re going to love you, trust me.”

He leans down, kissing me softly on the lips and when we break apart, I take him by the hand and lead him to the kitchen for plates and silverware to set the table.

“So tell us about yourself, Christian,” Bob says when we finally settle down to the Cobb salad my mom has put together.

“Well sir, I’m from Bellevue, Washington. I study Economics and Government at Harvard University, and in my free time, I row crew,” Christian says. There is a slight nervous edge to his voice and it baffles me. Is he intimidated by my parents? I think of all the things he has accomplished and the life he’s lived and wonder how a normal family like mine could be intimidating to him.

“You row crew?” Bob asks, an appreciative excitement rising in his tone. “You must be a sports guy then?”

“Yes, sir. I follow all the Seattle teams. The Mariners, Seahawks, Sounders… I think I’ve even got a Supersonics jersey from when I was a kid,” Christian says.

“Another Seahawks fan,” Bob scoffs.

“What is your team, sir?”

“Pittsburgh Steelers,” He says proudly, and Christian looks at me with somber eyes.

“I’m sorry, Ana, this will never work out. I can’t allow myself to be seen with the daughter of a Pittsburgh fan.”

“Don’t worry,” I laugh. “Ray is a Seahawks guy through and through and if he thought for one moment Bob was swaying my loyalties, he’d disown me. Seriously, every now and then we’ll be sitting down watching TV and I’ll catch him staring off into space and he’ll whisper Superbowl 40 under his breath like he’s remembering the Holocaust or something.”

“That was a tragic day,” Christian says. “Do yourself a favor and never utter those words to Elliot.”

“I don’t know, I thought Superbowl 40 was a great game,” Bob says.

Christian and Bob spend the next twenty minutes discussing the officiating of the Super Bowl while my mom and I occasionally roll our eyes at one another.

“So what are your plans for the break, Christian?” My mom asks, eventually growing tired of the football talk.

“Actually on Friday, my family is leaving for vacation in Aspen. I was rather hoping I could bring Ana along,” He says.

“Aspen? I don’t know… Ana doesn’t know how to ski and she already has such a hard time maintaining her balance on flat, level surfaces. I’m not sure how I’d feel about her on a mountain.”

“Thanks, Mom,” I say, narrowing my eyes at her. I’m not that clumsy.

“I’ll take very good care of her, Mrs. Adams,” Christian reassures her.

“Would you like to go, Ana?” My mom asks.

“Yes,” I tell her, although her tone makes my cheeks flush as I answer. I do want to go, but I know my mom also wants to spend time with me. I’ve only just barely come home and once I go back to Harvard, I don’t know when I’ll see her again. Maybe not until next Summer…

“Well, sounds like a lot of fun,” Bob says, grasping my Mom’s hand.

“Yes, you’ll have to take lots of pictures with the camera Ray bought for you, dear,” My mom agrees. She reaches out to pick up her glass of iced tea, but because she isn’t paying attention, she knocks the glass over and spills it all over the table and directly into Christian’s lap. He jumps up as the ice cold liquid begins seeping through his pants.

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry!” My mom cries, jumping up and rushing to the kitchen for a towel. She returns and begins to attempt to dry the front of his pants and Christian has to reach down and hold her hands to stop her.

“I’ve got it, Mrs. Adams,” He says gently, taking the towel and smiling at her.

“Oh, of course, I-I’m sorry,” My mom bumbles, and I don’t know if I want to laugh or die of embarrassment. Christian ends up having to excuse himself to grab dry clothes from his bag in the car and while he changes in my bedroom, my mom and I clean up the dishes from lunch.

“Why don’t you go ask Christian if he wants me to run those pants through the washing machine,” My mom asks as we begin to load the dishwasher.

“I don’t think he’ll have time, his flight leaves in about 2 1/2 hours,” I tell her. “But I suppose I can make sure he’s doing okay.”

She smiles at me as she turns back to the dishes in the sink and I leave the kitchen to make my way down the hall. When I get back to my bedroom, I knock on my bedroom door and Christian tells me to come in. He’s sitting on the bed, looking through a photo album that was on my bedside table.

“You take some interesting vacations,” Christian says with a smile as he holds up a picture of me, my mom, and Ray, huddled together in front of a giant green alien that we took on a trip to Roswell, New Mexico.

“They can’t all be Aspen,” I say, moving to sit next to him on the bed. “Have you ever been to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine?”

“No, I can’t say that I have,” He says good humoredly.

“Well then you aren’t as well travelled as you proclaim to be, Mr. Grey,” I say, and he laughs. He closes the photo album and sets it back on the bedside table.

“I don’t know…” He says slowly, and I can hear a note of licentious intent in his tone. “I’ve been here…”

He gently traces his finger over my lips, then down my neck, my collarbone, and across the outline of my cleavage through my t-shirt. I bite my lip slightly as his touch sends tingles over my skin.

“I’ve been here…” He continues, cupping my breast for a moment before continuing down my stomach, over my jeans.

“And I’ve been here,” He says finally, increasing the pressure over the most sensitive part of my body. I inhale deeply and moan as he massages me through my jeans. It’s strange, allowing him to touch me this way, relishing in the feeling, knowing that my mom is just down the hall.

“Once more before I leave?” He asks, whispering in my ear before catching my earlobe between his teeth and sucking gently.

Throwing caution to the wind, I turn my head and kiss him, my fingers tangling in his hair. His lips are tender on mine and when he deepens the kiss, he pushes just the tip of his tongue into my mouth for only a moment before pulling it back again. He’s teasing me, tantalizing me, and it drives me crazy.

Without taking his lips off of mine, he pulls my leg in a silent gesture for me to straddle him. I oblige and wrap my arms around his neck while our lips move together in perfect synchronization. He tugs at the hem of my t-shirt and I break the kiss so that he can pull the fabric over me. Once it’s removed, he tosses it callously to the floor and then releases my breasts from my bra. My nipples harden instantly as they come in contact with the cold air and he leans forward so his lips can gently caress them. The intensity of my breathing increases and I’m struggling to stay quiet while the delicious torture of his mouth on my breast continues. I grind against him, feeling him harden beneath me and I find myself ravenous, my desire for him blossoming out of control.

He must sense the ferocity of my need for him, or perhaps his has reached dire levels as well, because in that moment, he lifts me off of his lap, pulls back the duvet and places me in the bed. His fingers make quick work of the button on my jeans and soon I’m lying naked, waiting anxiously while he removes his own clothes. He produces a condom from the pocket of his jeans and moves to put it on, but before he can roll the latex over his erection, I move his hands and use my mouth to slide it down. He moans so quietly I can hardly hear him but his hand captures my hair and encourages me down. I enjoy him in my mouth for only a few seconds before he pushes me back onto the bed.

“I want to come inside of you,” He tells me in a low whisper as he lies on top of me. I feel his fingers make their way down my body until they brush against lower lips. A salacious growl erupts from his throat as he finds me wet and willing, and in a synchronized movement, he places one hand over my mouth and uses the other to hold his erection while he swiftly buries himself inside of me. I cry out, glad he had the foresight to muffle the sound. The soreness from last night’s multiple trysts protests against the quick, exquisitely brutal movements of him inside of me but every part of my body rejects the ache and revels in the pleasure.

“Fuck, Ana. You feel so fucking good,” He whispers, almost incredulously, into my ear. “This is it, baby. This is the only place I want to be. Here, inside of you.”

“Christian, don’t stop,” I beg as the sensation of pleasure intensifies. It’s so quick, but I’m already so close.

“That’s it, baby,” He encourages me. His pace quickens, bringing me almost to the edge and just as I’m about to tip over, he pulls back, moving his hips around in a slow, circle, keeping me right there, feeling like I’m so close to exploding but never letting me fall. I whimper in protest, desperately moving my hips up to meet him for the friction I crave, but he holds me down. His fingers move to lightly brush my clitoris and I whimper with need.

“Tell me that you’re mine,” He says.

“What?” I gasp, unable to comprehend his request through the sex induced haze that clouds my mind.

“Tell me that you are mine,” He repeats.

“Christian!” I beg. “I’m so close. So, so close. Please!”

“Say it, Anastasia,” He demands.

“I’m yours, Christian. Only yours.”

“Good girl,” He says, and he slams into me, his fingers working in overwhelming conjunction with his hips. Two quick, hard thrusts and I’m gone. I feel every part of my body come alive as the intensity of my orgasm makes me tremble. He pushes into me, again and again, prolonging the ecstasy until he too explodes and empties himself inside of me, growling my name as he does. I lie panting, only barely aware of his weight as he collapses on top of me. My attempts to regain my composure are thwarted as his lips take mine, dragging me back down into the haze.

“Come back to Seattle with me,” He pleads in a whisper.

“I can’t,” I tell him, truly regretful. “I have to spend some time with my mom. Especially if I’m going to Aspen with you.”

“What am I going to do without you until Friday?”

“What did you do in the eighteen years before you met me?” I ask, although I immediately regret it as Mrs. Lincoln pops unwelcome into my mind. It’s a doubly unpleasant thought as Christian is still inside of me.

“You ask Adam to go back to oblivion after he’s tasted the apple,” Christian says, and I roll my eyes at his exaggeration.

“Come on. We need to get back out there before they suspect something,” I say.

Christian frowns but rolls out of bed all the same. I’m grateful that he ties a knot at the end of the condom and tucks it into his pocket rather than discarding it in the waste basket by my dresser. I know my mother would find it there and I’m not entirely ready for that conversation yet.

When we make it back to the living room, after thorough inspections of our appearance in the bathroom mirror for any indications we just had sex, we find Mom and Bob sitting on the couch with Kate and Elliot. Kate eyes me, scrutinizing my appearance but it looks as though I’ve done a good enough job because she doesn’t light up with excitement as she would if she thought she had caught us.

“There you are,” Elliot says. “We’ve got to get going if we’re going to catch our flight, Christian.”

“Yes,” Christian agrees before turning to me. “Will you come to the airport with me?”

“Sure,” I say, although I’m not sure how I’ll get back…

“We’ll extend the rental car through tomorrow.” Elliot says, answering my unasked question. “That way you girls can get back to the strip.”

“Great!” Kate says. I know she’s been excited to drive that car. “Are you sure you won’t stay just one more day?”

“Do you know what my mother would say if I called her and told her that we weren’t coming home?” Elliot laughs. “I don’t know what that woman is going to do when Mia leaves and she has an empty nest.”

“Probably force us there for dinner twice a week,” Christian says.

“But you think it’s okay that we come to Aspen with you?” Kate asks. Oh good, Elliot must have asked her over lunch.

“Sure. The more the merrier.”

As we make our way to the door to leave, Christian shakes Bob’s hand and accepts the hug my mom gives him, although I notice him stiffen as her hands touch his back. Hmm, is that a no-go area too? Uh oh, I hope my mom isn’t crossing a line? Am I? I think about all the times I’ve had my arms around Christian, trying to recall his reaction as we walk through the front door to the car. I don’t think he reacted poorly… I’ll have to ask him to be more specific about what is and isn’t acceptable touch the next time we’re alone.

The drive to the airport is a somber one as none of us really want Christian and Elliot to leave. By the time we get to security, I feel nearly on the brink of tears and have to remind myself that I will see him again in three days. I’m just not ready to be away from him yet, not so soon after finally making the leap and being together. The horrible part is that I know if I had just said yes all those weeks ago in Cambridge, I would have gotten the time I wanted. Or would I? He did seem fairly distant with all that stuff with Ros in the last few weeks of the term. I guess, all in all, it was good to wait. He seems much happier now and maybe it’s because, even though his deal fell through, he at least he knows the outcome and isn’t hanging in limbo.

“I’ll see you on Sunday,” I say as Christian wraps his arms around me at the gate.

“I can’t wait,” He says. “I’ll book your flight when I get back to Seattle and send you the itinerary via email.”

I nod against his shoulder, never wanting this to end, but when he pulls away from me, he kisses me, his lips firm but gentle on mine and as I kiss him back, I think I begin to realize how hard these next few days without him will be. I’m going to miss this so much.

“Okay, break it up, break it up,” Elliot says as he picks up his bag and slings it over his shoulder.

“Fuck off, Elliot,” Christian says. He kisses me once more on the forehead and then pulls away from me.

“Bye,” I say sadly, watching him turn to walk away with his brother.

“Sunday,” He says, and then he disappears into the crowd of travellers.

Kate and I stand there for a few minutes staring at the mass of people milling around but we don’t see them again.

“Well shall we?” She asks regretfully, intertwining her fingers in mine.

“I suppose.”

We decide, in our vastly deflated mood after leaving the airport, that we need ice cream so Kate hands me her phone and I find a place called the Ice Pan on the strip. I keep it seasonal by choosing peppermint ice cream while Kate opts for her typical what-has-the-most-chocolate-in-it selection. We head back up to our room at Planet Hollywood to decide what to do, and I find it a complete mess. Clearly, Kate and Elliot had quite the night here last night. Unfortunately, housekeeping has made my bed so I can’t be certain it remained untouched throughout the night. For my own mental health, I’m going to choose to believe that it was.

Kate decides that I need clothes for Aspen so we head out to do some shopping, and I spend way too much money buying warm clothes for next week. I feel better though as we leave the stores and realize that retail therapy does work, although it’s probably not good that I discovered this. I know how much crap Kate comes home with on a bad day and my finances do not support that kind of therapy.

I receive a text from a number I don’t know just as we’re walking into dinner that night but when I open it, I find that it’s from Christian telling me that he and Elliot made it back to Seattle okay. It takes me a moment to remember why the text didn’t come up under Christian’s name and when I remember that he changed it, I’m immediately grateful that he texted me right when he got home. I can’t believe I didn’t think to get it before he left…

Kate and I eat dinner fairly quickly as I think we’re both anxious to get back upstairs and go to bed since neither of us got decent sleep the night before. When we get back to the room, Kate finds an old movie to put on, but neither of us watch it. Instead, once we’re in bed, we both immediately reach for our phones to call Christian and Elliot.

“Hey,” Christian answers after only two rings.

“How was your flight?” I ask, nestling down into the pillows.

“Fine. Did you get my email?”

“No, my computer is back at my mom’s house. Kate and I are still staying in the hotel until tomorrow.”

“You need to get a smartphone, Anastasia,” He says, and I can almost hear him rolling his eyes in his tone of voice.

“Textbooks, smartphone, textbooks, smartphone…” I say, pretending to weigh the options, and he laughs.

“What did you two do tonight?”

“We got ice cream and went shopping,” I tell him. “I got some stuff for Aspen.”

“Oh,” He replies, and he sounds slightly disappointed. It makes me worry for a moment that his mom said we couldn’t come, and as I face the crushing sense of disappointment that comes with the realization that I’m not going to see him again for two week, he says, “I was hoping you’d let me take you shopping when we got there.”

“Oh, well… I didn’t need much. I have some clothes that I think will work at home already so this way we’ll have more time to spend together on the slopes. I’m a little worried about the actual skiing part. I hope you’re a good teacher.”

“Do you have skiing equipment?”

“No, I figured we could rent some.”

“We can get you some once we get there. Skiing is something my family does fairly often and you’ll do better with your own equipment, not something rented.”

“Christian…” I say hesitantly. “I’m sure the rental will be fine. I don’t really feel comfortable having you spend exorbitant amounts of money on me.”

“I want to,” He says. “I want to take care of you, Anastasia.”

“You can do that in other ways.”

“We’ll see,” He says. I roll my eyes at his stubbornness but decide it’s not worth the fight right now. We talk for about half an hour until I’m unable to keep my eyes open any longer and have to get off the phone. When I reach to turn off the lamp, I see Kate has fallen asleep with the phone still resting against her ear. I smile, get out of bed, and take her phone so that I can plug it into the charger. After tucking the covers under her chin and kissing her softly on the forehead, I climb back under the covers of my own bed and close my eyes. When I dream that night, I dream of making love with Christian.

Next Chapter

 

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