“We could literally walk faster than this,” I complain as I stare through the droves of falling snow out the passenger window.
“I can’t control the weather, Anastasia,” Christian replies irritably. “But we won’t get there any faster if we veer off the road.”
I frown and bite the inside of my cheek to keep myself from saying anymore. I know I’m being rude and that he’s doing everything he can to get me back to school, but my heart is pounding and my nerves are so tight that I feel like I might explode. All Elliot said was that Kate had been confronted by her stalker, I don’t know what happened or if she’s hurt and, the anxiety is killing me.
Where the fuck was Elliot?
I turn to look at Christian and see that he seems to be riddled with anxiety as well. “I’m sorry,” I say quietly. “I’m scared.” He glances at me quickly and then reaches over to squeeze my hand.
It takes us twenty three minutes to drive the two miles back to campus, and when we pull into the parking lot and see two police cruisers parked against the curb, I can’t even wait for the car to come to a complete stop before I jump out the door.
“Anastasia!” Christian yells when he steps out of the car a few seconds later, but I’m already running over the snow covered walk towards Grays. Unfortunately, my less than sure footing gets the best of me and I slip over a patch of packed snow that has iced over.
“Jesus, Ana,” Christian says, catching up to me and lifting me from the ground. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I tell him, hastily brushing the snow off of me. “Let’s go.”
“Ana, wait. You need to listen to me for a minute. I don’t know what’s happened but if it’s bad, she’s going to need you to be calm. If you run in there and panic, it’s just going to make whatever she’s dealing with worse. Can you do that?’
“Yes,” I tell him.
“Okay, then let’s go… slowly,” He says. I take a deep, calming breath, take his hand, and walk with him the rest of the way to our dorm, hating that I know he’s right every step of the way.
When we get to Grays, there are two officers standing next to the doors. We try to move past them but they step in front of us.
“You kids got your student IDs on you?” The officer in front of me asks.
“No,” I tell him. We left the hotel room so quickly, I don’t have anything on me. Although, now that I think about it, I don’t even know if I brought my purse to the hotel.
“University has placed this dormitory on lock down. Only residents with student IDs can gain access until further notice.”
“No, I live here,” I tell him. “My name is Anastasia Steele, I live in room 309.”
“Sorry, Miss. I’m going to need an ID to verify that.” He says, and I turn to look at Christian in a panic.
“Here,” He says, reaching into his pocket, pulling his student ID out of his wallet, and handing it to the officer. “My name is Christian Grey, I also live in this building. I can vouch for her.”
“Christian Grey…” The other officer says as he reads a list of names, presumably of students who live in the building. “Yep, here he is. Room 310.”
“Alright, you’re good to go.” The office says to Christian and then turns to me. “You, on the other hand, need an ID.”
“So what? She just stays out here forever?” Christian asks. “Surely you have something I could sign that at least gives her guest access?”
“Sorry, young man,” The officer says and Christian scowls but I don’t have time for him to fight with the police right now.
“Christian, I think my purse might be on your dresser. My student ID is in my wallet. Grab it and bring it down for me.”
He looks at the officers at the door and then turns back to me with a cold, steely gaze.
“You will stay right here, do you understand me?” He asks seriously, and I nod.
“Do not move,” He warns me again, and he quickly disappears through the doors to Grays. I stand there, shivering slightly in the pool of light from the lamp over the door. My gaze repeatedly moves up anxiously to the third floor, but the light in my room isn’t on. Kate must be in Christian’s room.
The sound of the door opening catches my attention and Christian steps out and hands the officer my ID. He scans the list and I think I’m about to have an aneurism by the time he finds my name.
“Anastasia Steele, room 309,” He says, handing me back my ID. “I’m sorry for the delay, miss.”
I snatch my ID out of his hands and rush past him without a response. Christian and I take the stairs two at a time as we bolt to the third floor. He opens his door for me and when I step into the room, the first thing I see is Kate laying on Christian’s bed, cuddled up with Elliot. The moment the door opens, she looks up at me with tear stained cheeks, and begins to cry.
“Kate,” I say soothingly, doing my best to stay calm as I cross the room and sit next to her. She sits up as Elliot climbs out of the bed, and rests her face on my shoulder, sobbing quietly into my jacket. Christian and Elliot both stare at her worriedly while I gently stroke her hair, trying to calm her, but she doesn’t stop crying for several minutes.
“Can you tell me what happened?” I ask, and she nods slowly before pulling back to look at me. Christian picks up the box of tissues from his desk and hands it to her so she can blow her nose before she speaks.
“We were at a restaurant,” Kate says, in a quiet, shaky voice, and I can tell by the way her eyes move back and forth, as though she’s still replaying what happened in her mind but doesn’t quite believe what she’s seeing, that she’s still in shock. “We had just ordered, the waitress had brought our drinks, and I had to go to the bathroom. I got up from the table and walked to the back, but the second I turned the corner, he grabbed me, and pulled me into the men’s restroom.”
“How was he there, just standing there, in the middle of a restaurant? I thought every police officer was out looking for him?” I gasp, looking over to Christian and Elliot. I can see the muscle in Elliot’s jaw tighten and his fist clench. He’s shaking and I realize that he must be furious, not only at the stalker, but most likely, himself too.
“I don’t know,” Kate continued, shaking her head. “I tried to scream but he put his hand over my mouth and started shouting at me. He was angry, asking me over and over again who Elliot was and if I was fucking him. My phone was on the table, I didn’t know what to do. I thought he was going to take me so I just starting to try and get him off me so I could run, but when I began to struggle, he slapped me and started asking about Elliot again. Thankfully, some man came into the restroom, looking like he was going to get involved, and I think that scared him because he let me go and went for the door. Before he left, he turned around and told me that I’d regret ever opening my legs for that asshole, and then he ran. I went as quickly as I could back to the table, back to Elliot.”
“And you called the police?” I ask.
“Yes. They brought us back here in a police car and told me not to leave the building tonight. The police chief spoke with the Dean of Students and they’ve put Grays on high alert.”
I pull her back into my chest to hug her just as her phone begins ringing from its resting place on Christian’s desk. Kate lets out a small, startled noise, and she brings her hand to her mouth to cover her trembling bottom lip. Elliot reaches out to pick up the phone and looks down at the screen with relief.
“It’s your mom, Kate,” He says, and he hands her the phone. She nods, gets up from the bed, takes the phone from Elliot, and then walks into the bathroom for privacy.
“We were in a restaurant,” Elliot says numbly the moment the door closes behind Kate. “There were like, a hundred people around. I didn’t even think about it when she got up from the table.”
“It’s not your fault, Elliot,” Christian says, but I want to glare at him. I get this is his brother, but Kate is my best friend in the whole world and something horrible could have happened to her tonight because he’d been careless. Did he think that Christian literally hasn’t left Kate’s side the past few weeks because he was being overly cautious or something?
“I should have gone with her,” Elliot says.
“Yes, you should have,” I reply, unable to hide the anger any longer. He looks up at me with his brow furrowed and I continue, “One night. We literally left her with you for one night, not even that, a few freaking hours and you let him get to her. Do you realize what could have happened? Are you even taking this seriously, or is this just another big joke to you like everything else in life?”
“You don’t think I’m taking this seriously?” Elliot snaps back at me. “I’m the only one here who seems to want to do anything about this. You two are just content to sit back and wait for him to strike again. Hell, you were the one who encouraged Kate to burn that letter, Ana. That letter could have been used as evidence and you wanted to throw it away.”
“The police have dozens of letters, Elliot, and they’re no closer to finding this guy because of them. And correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it YOU who threw the letter in the fire?”
“Because you all pressured me into it! I wanted to do something! I wanted to take action!”
“Enough!” Christian says. “Do you two think pointing the finger at each other is going to solve anything? This isn’t Elliot’s fault for not going to the bathroom with her, and it’s not Ana’s fault because a letter got burned. The only fault here is with that fucking lunatic. Look, I know you’re scared but no matter how bad it is for you, it’s worse for Kate. She needs us on her side, all of us, and we need to put our own feelings aside and just do what’s best for her. Now, when she gets out here, we’re going to stop focusing on what’s going on and do our best to make this room a place where she can relax, feel safe, and above all else, stop thinking about that psycho. Deal?”
“Deal,” I say, staring down at the ground with shame. Elliot nods his head.
“Good,” Christian says just as the door to the bathroom opens and Kate comes back out, newly formed tear streaks rolling down her face.
“My parents are coming,” She says with a sniff. “They want to take me back home for a while.”
“Maybe that’s not a bad idea, Kate,” I say, supportively, but she shakes her head.
“I can’t leave school. Who knows when they’re going to catch this guy? I’ve worked too hard to get here.”
“So, maybe we convince your parents to let you stay and maybe find you an apartment off campus?” Elliot suggests. “You’d be a lot safer if this guy didn’t know where you lived.”
“Freshman have to live on campus,” Kate counters.
“I’m sure the University would make an exception, Kate,” Christian tells her, but she shakes her head again.
“For me, maybe. But what about you guys? I wouldn’t feel any safer being separated from my friends. Besides, he’d follow me home from campus after school one day, or Ana whenever she came to visit me. He’d find me eventually.”
“What do you want the next step to be, Kate?” I ask, and she looks down at her fingers.
“I don’t know. I wish I would have brought my purse to the bathroom with me tonight. There’s pepper spray in there and if I could have incapacitated him, this could all be over. I just want him to be caught so I can live my life again.”
“We do too,” I tell her. “But, we’re safe now. He’s not going to get past security downstairs and you’re locked away here with us. It’s still Valentine’s day, we should be celebrating.”
“We should be getting laid,” She says with a small laugh, and I smile at her resilient spirit, happy she can even attempt a joke right now.
“And drunk,” Elliot adds. Christian’s head shoots up at this statement like he has an idea. He crosses the room purposefully to the mini-fridge in the corner and pulls out a large box of mini frozen pizzas from the freezer compartment at the top. We watch him curiously as he reaches in the box but instead of pulling out a pizza, removes a nearly full bottle of bourbon.
“I was wondering why that was in there for so long,” I say with a laugh. “Or why you had microwavable pizzas. I figured they had to be made of tofu or something.”
“Ros brought them over when we were studying late one night and the box was the perfect size to conceal a bottle of liquor,” Christian says as he starts rifling through a crate full of dishes and pulls out four plastic cups. “That month I didn’t talk to you last fall was rough.”
“So you hide your booze from Mom, but you leave your condoms in your dresser drawer?” Elliot asks as Christian hands him a glass of bourbon.
“If she was going to confiscate one, I’d rather it be the condoms,” Christian says. “Thank god for the mini-pill.”
“Hey!” I exclaim, indignantly. “You don’t need to tell everybody that I’m on birth control.”
“Oh, so it’s cool for everyone to laugh at me for wearing condoms, but god forbid anyone know you’re on the pill?” He asks pointedly, and I push my lips together in indignation as I realize that I don’t have an answer for that…
We each take a deep drink from our glasses as we sit in the room in silence for several minutes, letting the alcohol rinse away our thoughts and fears over what’s happened tonight.
“So what do you want to do, Kate?” Christian asks, once we’re all feeling a little more relaxed.
“No more sad regret games,” Elliot says,and I nod my head in agreement.
“Okay then, let’s… play truth or dare,” Kate suggests.
“Okay,” Christian says. “Elliot, Truth or dare?”
“Truth,” Elliot says.
“When you were a freshman in high school, did Mackenzie Baker really let you feel her tits, or is that a lie you told everyone to make you look cool?”
“Oh that was a lie,” Elliot says, nonchalantly, taking another drink of bourbon. “She was a senior, she didn’t even know my name.”
“I knew it,” Christian says, but Elliot was already looking between Kate and I, trying to decide his next victim.
“Ana,” He says at last. “Truth or dare?”
“Dare,” I respond, bravely, although it’s mostly because my truths would be humiliatingly lame.
“I dare you…” Elliot begins thoughtfully. “To go in there and take a shower.”
“A shower?” I ask suspiciously, and turn to look at Christian, who also narrows his eyes at Elliot.
“A shower,” Elliot repeats. “With Kate.”
“Excuse me?’ I ask, choking slightly on the sip I’ve just taken. Kate crosses her arms and stares back at him with an expression that says really?
“I’m really just trying to be thoughtful here,” Elliot says defensively, although I can tell he’s trying desperately to hide a laugh. “You both look like you could use a nice, hot, relaxing shower and I’m very conscientious about the environment. Wouldn’t want to waste water.”
I turn and gape at Christian but he looks amused. “Elliot really is very concerned about conservation,” He says.
“I don’t think so,” I say, but Elliot narrows his eyes at me.
“It’s a dare, you have to.”
“I do not!”
“Yes you do!” Elliot argues.
“What would you possibly even get out of that?” I ask. “Neither one of you would be allowed in, so what’s the point? I can go shut the door and turn on the water if that’s what you need for your little fantasy over there.”
“True…” Elliot says. “Alright, a kiss then.”
“A kiss?” I reply.
“Just one, between you and Kate. Tender, sensual, breast cupping encouraged, but optional.”
I turn to look at Kate who rolls her eyes but slams back her cup of bourbon and crawls towards me. I hesitate for a minute and look over at Christian.
“You won’t get mad?” I ask.
“Mad?” He repeats like I’ve suggested something ridiculous. “No, Ana. I will not get mad if I have to watch you make out with Kate. In this instance, you have my blessing.”
“Men,” I sigh, shaking my head and turning towards Kate. We stare at each other for a second and then immediately break out into giggles.
“This is so weird,” Kate says through her laughter.
“Don’t make it weird,” Elliot interjects. “Ana, I want you to look into Kate’s beautiful eyes and imagine they’re Christian’s ugly ones. Now show him how you really feel, Ana. No, quick, kissing your grandma type bullshit.”
“You’re making it weirder, Elliot,” I says, feeling the laughter bubbling up again.
“Okay, okay, okay.” Kate says, quickly, taking a few deep breaths to relax. “Ready?”
I nod. “One.”
“Two,” She counts.
“Three!” We say together, and we lean in and touch our lips softly against each other. She moves her lips slowly, coaxing mine open so she can ease her tongue into my mouth. I allow her access and instinctively reach up and run my fingers into her hair, the way I do with Christian. The kiss lasts only a few seconds, and when it’s over we pull slowly away from each other and turn to look hesitantly at the boys, who are both gaping back at us.
“Elliot, get out of here,” Christian says, shoving his brother without taking his eyes off me. Kate and I both laugh.
“You’ll have to leave too, Christian. I think I’ve found the new love of my life,” I joke.
“Oh no!” Kate says. “They can’t leave. It’s our turn.”
“But that was such a lovely moment,” Elliot says defensively. “Please, don’t stop on our behalf.”
“Nope,” Kate says evilly and Elliot face falls with disappointment.
“Whatever,” He replies. “Just remember that we’re brothers and incest is a crime. Let’s keep it within the law here, ladies.”
“Fine,” Kate says, though she looks slightly let down. “Um… Christian, truth or dare?”
“From you, Kavanagh?” He replies suspiciously. “Truth.”
“Okay, uh… Where is the craziest place you’ve had sex?” Kate asks.
“You don’t want to ask me that,” Christian says, firmly but Kate presses on.
“Oh come on. If we had to kiss, you have to answer the question.”
“I don’t want to,” He says, his eyes flitting to me for just the briefest moment and Kate realizes why.
“Oh… I uh, I mean between you and Ana,” She says quickly.
“That’s not going to make me answer the question.” He says firmly and Kate narrows her eyes at him. “I’m not going to talk about the private moments Ana and I share with either of you, so you both can just let go of that possibility.”
“Oh no, Ana literally just tried the whole no that’s not appropriate argument, and we still ended up kissing. Spill the beans, Grey,” Kate argues.
He sighs and looks over to me, silently asking me permission and I nod my head, knowing he’s not getting out of this.
“Aspen,” He replies tersely, and Kate’s lips purse together.
“Really?” she asks with disbelief. “You two are going at it all the time. The best you can come up with is Aspen?”
“We’ve only been dating for two months Kate and we’ve spent nearly all that time around you and Christian’s family,” I say defensively.
“Lame,” Elliot says and they move on. I look over at Christian, frowning. Is our sex life boring? I contemplate the thought as the game continues and the liquor slowly disappears. When the bottle is empty and we’re all fairly tipsy, Christian gestures to the alarm clock on the bedside table. It’s just after 2:30 in the morning.
“We should go to bed,” He says, and Elliot nods.
“Come on, Kate,” He says, getting out of the chair he’s sitting in and walking towards the door.
“Do you think we could stay here tonight?” Kate asks. “I’d feel more comfortable surrounded by more people.”
“Is it okay with you?” Elliot asks Christian.
“Of course,” Christian says dismissively. “Of course, Kate knows she’s always welcome to stay here.”
Elliot nods gratefully and both he and Kate set up the air mattress on the far side of the room while Christian and I crawl into bed. I don’t know about Kate, but, by the sound of his snores, it seems Elliot falls asleep fairly quickly once the lights are out. I, on the other hand, lie there feeling the old insecurity that plagued me last November and December bubbling up inside of me.
Elena had said that Christian would grow bored of me eventually. Was she right? Was our sex life too safe?
As I lay there, trying to push the concerns from my mind and find sleep, I feel Christian’s lips press against the skin below my ear. He’s still awake, and judging by his erection, which is now pressed firmly into my behind, he’s very awake. Bu,t try as I might, I’m too distracted to enjoy what he’s doing to me.
“Christian, do you think our sex life is boring?” I ask hesitantly, trying to be quiet so I don’t wake Kate and Elliot.
“Boring? No,” He says, continuing to kiss my neck. His hand reaches over me and begins cupping my breast through my cami.
“Christian,” I whisper. “Kate and Elliot are on the floor.”
“I don’t give a fuck,” He says. “I want you, Ana.”
“I think the bourbon is clouding your good judgment,” I tell him, moaning softly as he pinches my nipple through the thin fabric covering my breast.
“Then let’s go into your room.” He suggests.
“No,” I tell him quickly, “I’m not ready to go back in there yet.”
“I need you,” He whispers, continuing to kiss me, driving me crazy.
“Somewhere else,” I breathe. His lips stop and he looks down at the floor at Kate and Elliot, then at the door, and finally back at me.
“Come on,” He says, rolling out of bed and turning back expectantly towards me. I look at him curiously and take his hand. He pulls me up, grabs a blanket off the bed and we step silently past Kate and Elliot before leaving the room. Christian glances anxiously down the hallway and leads me to the stairs. We descend to the dark first floor and he pushes me into the common area, again surveying our surroundings as if to make sure we’re completely alone.
“On the couch,” He says quietly. I look at him, silently asking him if he’s serious, and he nods. “If you want exciting, Anastasia, I’m ready for exciting. I’ve had blue balls for hours.”
I laugh but he silences me with a kiss. “Do you want to do this?” He asks.
“Yes,” I reply, my voice breathy as I try and recover from his kiss.
“Then you’re going to have to be quiet,” He says. “Real quiet. We wouldn’t want to be caught.”
He pushes me back onto the couch and looks over his shoulder one last time before crawling onto the couch. I suppress a gasp of surprise as he quickly but purposefully inches my pajama bottoms down just past my behind and then lifts my legs onto the back of the couch. He reaches down and begins to caress my labia and then brings his fingers to his mouth and sucks them for a moment before placing them on me again.
“Shhh,” He breathes quietly, but his fingers don’t stop. I feel the heat begin to spread as I get wet for him and his lips purse together once I’m ready.
“Keep going,” He breathes so quietly I almost can’t hear him. He grabs my hand and places it softly over my lower lips, and I begin to rub slow circles with my fingers while he reaches into his pajama bottoms and releases his erection. Silently, he leans over, scooting down on the couch a little so that he’s positioned at my entrance and then he thrusts inside of me. It takes everything I have, but I keep the cry of pleasure silent and he smile.
“Good girl,” He says again, very quietly, and he starts to move. I close my eyes and throw my head back as I struggle to stay quiet and control my breathing. My back arches off the couch, pushing my breasts up towards him, and he pulls my cami up roughly and leans over to take my nipple in his mouth. I bite down into my lip, thinking only of the feel of him inside of me and staying as silent as possible.
“Fuck, this is going to be quick,” He says, leaning over me so that his lips are nearly pressed against my ear. His fingers reach down to my clitoris and move in time with his thrusts inside of me. He swirls his hips, hitting that place inside of me that drives me wild as he tries to stay his orgasm until I explode.
“Come on, Ana,” He whispers huskily and I can hear the strain in his voice. “Come for me, baby.”
I reach for his face and pull it down to mine so our lips come crashing together. The expert way his tongue moves in my mouth is just what I need to push me over the edge and I begin to quiver in time with his thrusts and the movement of his fingers on me as I come unraveled.
“Fuck, Ana!” He hisses, and the gentle rippling I feel inside of me lets me know that he’s coming. He grunts slightly and once he comes down, he holds himself over me with shaky arms, panting. I want to remind him to be quiet, but instead just give him a smug smile.
“You’re a goddess, Ana,” He tells me, as he quickly pulls out of me, and I try to tell him exactly how I feel about him, but my words are cut off by two extremely loud cracking noises. Christian’s head whirls around to the door and then back down at me, and I can see fear in his eyes.
“What was that?” I ask, alarmed. “Were those gunshots?”
“Get dressed,” He demands but the moment the words leave his mouth, the heavy door in the foyer that leads outside creaks open. Christian flattens himself on top of me, shielding me, and covering my mouth with his hand. He doesn’t move and neither do I. We’re in the direct line of sight of the door, but hopefully we’re low enough and the room is dark enough that whoever it is won’t be able to make us out on the couch. The acrid smell of gunpowder wafts into the room around us and I know that I was right. The sound was gunshots and it leaves me with an aching suspicion of who just walked into Grays Hall.
As slowly as possible, I peer around Christian and see the instantly familiar tangle of dark hair I associate with Kate’s stalker begin to ascend the stairs. I’m shaking under Christian’s hands, glad that he’s still covering my mouth as several distressed cries escape my lips. We listen to his thudding footsteps on the stairs, and the moment he’s made it to the second landing, Christian rolls me onto the ground and pushes me behind the couch.
“Run, Ana,” He says, his voice still as quiet as a whisper but much harsher than before. “Get out of this building, now!”
“We didn’t lock the door,” I whisper back in panic. “Kate, Elliot. They’re up there alone! They were asleep, they might not know.”
Another gunshot rings down the stairs and I’m unable to stop the shriek of terror that escapes my lips.
“I’ll take care of it,” Christian says sternly. “You need to get out of here. Find a phone and call the police.”
“What do you mean, you’ll take care of it. You’re not going up there alone!” I hiss, and that’s when we hear the first bangs of what I assume is his body slamming against the locked door of Kate’s and my dorm. Christian looks back at the stairs for a moment and then down at me.
“If you’re not going to run then please, please just stay here,” He says, and then he stands and bolts for the stairs. As I watch him climb halfway up the first stairway, I hear a girl scream and then two more gunshots. I’m beside myself. Holy Fuck was that Kate?
Without any kind of rational thought, I peel myself off the floor and run towards the stairs after Christian. He’s at least to the second floor by the time I reach the first step so I begin to creep slowly up after him. Another gunshot rings out and I feel my body freeze. Was that Christian? I tremble as I reach out for the banister to pull myself up another step, and just as I make it to the second landing, I hear the sound of splintering wood followed by a long bang.
“KATE!” The voice that has plagued my nightmares for weeks screams. He must have gotten through our door, and found her missing from the room. Does he know that Christian lives just across the hall? I say a silent prayer, hoping that one of them noticed that Christian’s door was unlocked. If they don’t and he gets to her, if Kate is…
I’ll never forgive myself.
I creep around the landing and see a body lying in a pool of blood in the hallway. A gasping shuddering sound escapes my lips and I round the corner for the second set of stairs to get away from whoever it is. Christian is perched halfway up the stairs, just enough so that he can see what’s going on on the third floor, but not enough that the stalker can see him. There is another loud bang that sounds like furniture being moved or tipped over and I imagine him tearing through our room, looking for Kate. Christian turns to duck beneath the line of sight as something heavy flies through our door and comes crashing to the ground in the hallway, and he sees me paralyzed on the steps below him.
“What the fuck?” He hisses angrily. “Anastasia, what the fuck do you think you’re doing? Get the fuck back downstairs, get out of here!”
“I can’t,” I whimper, but Christian doesn’t have time to respond as the stalker comes stumbling out of our room.
“I know you’re here, Kate!” He yells. “I saw them bring you here.”
My stomach roils. The small part of me that has any ability left to hope thinks that maybe he doesn’t know Christian lives across the hall, and he doesn’t know that Kate has been staying with him. Rationality ruins that for me though as I remember the officers outside who had a list of students and their assigned room numbers. Please say they locked the door. Please say they locked the door.
“Let’s see,” He continues, his voice taking on an almost, sing-song mocking tone. “If 309 is empty, then she must be…”
His voice cuts off as he begins throwing himself against the door across the hall and Christian turns to look back down at me with the slightest hint of relief.
“The door is locked,” He whispers. “They know he’s there.”
“Thank god,” I mouth back, continuing my litany of silent prayers. I stay there tensed, wondering what Christian’s plan is from here as each thundering crash the stalker’s body makes against the wood door is like a vise gripping tighter and tighter around my heart.
Christian peers stealthily over the steps, staying out of sight, while the terrifying thuds echo down towards us. I see his knuckles turn white just before the crashing noises are replaced by the sound of two gunshots against what sounds like metal and then one final bash that precedes the splintering sound of wood.
The yell of a man, who sounds too much like Elliot, rings out around us and as another gunshot rings through the air, Christian launches himself up the stairs and begins running towards his room. I’m frozen with fear, unable to force myself forward, and it takes me several seconds to regain control of my body and race after him.
As I come up on the third landing, I can see very clearly that the stalker has indeed forced himself into Christian’s room and as I take off running, I see Christian round the corner where his door should be and throw himself forward. The hallway is filled with three more bodies of people I recognize from living on the same floor as they did for several months, and the guilt of seeing them lying in their own blood nearly causes me to collapse. There is a sound of a scuffle and I wait, terrified, for the sound of another gunshot, and in that moment, I realize that I haven’t heard Kate. Was that first gunshot for her?
There isn’t time to brace myself for what I might see as I round the corner but thankfully, I don’t see Kate anywhere. Instead, I see Christian and Elliot both gripping tightly to the man fighting desperately against them as they all try to take control of the gun in his hand. Elliot reaches back and punches him in the jaw and the hit stuns him enough that the gun falls to the floor and slides a few feet out of any of their reach.
Without thinking, I hurl myself forward into the room after the gun just as the stalker throws his body to the ground for it, using the force of the fall to slide out of Elliot’s and Christian’s grip. My fingers close around the handle of the weapon first but in the next second, the stalker’s hand is around my ankle and he drags me to the floor.
“No!” Christian yells, and I turn to see him barrel down on the man attached to my leg, his fists flying in quick, fierce jabs that hit against the man so hard, I see the skin on Christian’s knuckles begin to break. He let’s go of me to shield himself from Christian and I immediately turn to grab Christian’s blackberry from the nightstand and dial 911. It begins ringing just as I turn around and see Elliot walk up next to the bleeding man beneath his brother and plant a savage kick into the side of his head. The stalker’s body goes limp and his head lolls lazily to the side as he falls unconscious.
“911 what’s your emergency?” The operator on the phone says urgently.
“Yes, hello,” I say with much more force than I was able to muster the last time I had to call 911. “My name is Anastasia Steele. I’m in Grays Hall on the Harvard Campus in room 310 and there is a man here with a gun who has killed several people. He’s unconscious.”
“Officers have already been dispatched to Grays Hall, help is on the way Anastasia. You’re in room 310?”
“I’ll radio that into the officers. Does anyone need immediate medical attention?”
“No…” I say. “Maybe the shooter.”
“I’m glad to hear that, Anastasia. I’m being told that officers are on the scene. Can you hear them?”
“No,” I tell her but I’m distracted. Now that the stalker is unconscious my only concern is Kate. Where is she?
“Where is Kate?” I ask Elliot, and he shuffles to his feet for the bathroom.
“Kate,” He calls gently through the door. “Kate, it’s Elliot. Open the door for me.”
We sit and wait, but the door doesn’t open. I’m going to call out for her myself but at that moment a wave of officers dressed in riot gear pour into the room. They’re yelling instructions at one another as they flip the stalker onto his front and secure his hands behind his back with handcuffs. I’m startled as one of the officers reaches for my hand with a plastic evidence bag and realize, only then, that I’m still holding the gun.
“I’ll take that,” He says, gently, and I willingly hand it over to him. The moment the unconscious body of the stalker is removed from the room, Christian crosses over to me and pulls me into his arms.
“You’re both the stupidest and bravest woman I’ve ever known,” He says reverentially, kissing my hair as he squeezes me tightly into him.
“I couldn’t stay down there and not know what was happening,” I tell him, tears beginning to come to my eyes as my body goes into shock.
“I know,” He says, trying to sooth me. “But we’re all okay.
“Kate,” I whisper, turning back around to the door that Elliot is still trying to get her to open. “We need to get her out of there. She’s alone, scared…”
Christian winds his way through the officers taking pictures of the broken things around the room and the blood on the floor and grabs his wallet off the desk by the door.
“Get out of the way, Elliot,” He says, removing a credit card and stepping up to the door. He carefully slides the plastic down the crack where the door meets the jamb and once we hear the soft clicking noise of the lock sliding out of the strike plate, the door eases open and I hurry forward. I can hear her whimpering in the shower and when I pull back the curtain, she screams.
“Kate,” I say, kneeling down next to her, but not reaching out for her until I can see she’s in control of herself. “Kate, it’s okay. The police have him. He’s gone. You’re safe.”
“E-Elliot?” She stutters.
“Right here, Katie. We’re all okay.”
She looks between mine, Christian’s and Elliot’s eyes, terror clearly etched on her face, and as our words sink in, she devolves into fully consuming sobs.