Chapter 04

Image result for poker

“Ana, you’re killing me,” Luke says, leaning against the door to my bedroom and staring at me with a look filled with his exasperation. “Do you know what time it is?”

“I know, I know,” I reply, just as irritated as he is. I start digging through my hamper, looking for Christian’s Harvard t-shirt. It’s at the bottom and, since I’ve slept in it almost every night this week, it desperately needs to be washed. I’ll have to do that when I get back to Seattle, or ask Gail to do it. Either way, it has to come. It’s already lost all of it’s Christian smell.

“Tick, tock. Tick tock,” Luke pushes me again, and I turn to glare at him.

“That’s really not helping.”

“No, what would have helped is if you had done this any other night this week so I could have had your bags in the car when I picked you up from school tonight. We were supposed to be on that plane over an hour ago. Who do you think Grey is going to yell at for you being late?”

“I’m sorry, Luke. How was I supposed to know my meeting would go long?” I say irritably. He shakes his head in response, clearly annoyed, but I ignore him.

My toothbrush, shampoo, and all of my other essential toiletries are in the bathroom, and I’m halfway through packing them into a small cosmetics bag when I remember that I have all of this stuff waiting for me at home already. I grit my teeth together as I silently curse myself for wasting more time that I don’t have, and then angrily pick up the birth control and vitamins I take every day and storm back out to the open suitcase laying on my bed.

“Will you please take my backpack down to the car so that I don’t forget it when we leave,” I ask Luke, and he lets out a short huff.

“Is that going to be any time in the next century?”

“Not if you don’t the drop attitude and help me,” I reply, pointedly. He takes a deep breath and moves into the room to pick up my backpack off the floor next to my bed, actually grunting a little in surprise as he feels its weight. I’ve packed it nearly to the point of bursting with everything I need to finish my paper and three classes worth of reading assignments.

He leaves the room, mumbling to himself about women taking forever as he leaves, and while I reach down to zip up my suitcase, I stick my tongue out at him.

Kate is waiting downstairs, flipping through a magazine, and when I drop my suitcase on the floor behind her, she looks up.

“There you are,” She says, and I want to roll my eyes. I get it. I’m late. “Are you ready?”

“Yeah,” I nod.

She gets up off the couch and grabs both our coats from the hooks by the door and then walks with me through the kitchen and out the back door, where we find Luke waiting next to the open hatchback of the Lexus. Kate and I haven’t talked much since the party on Tuesday. I was honestly surprised when she offered to take Luke and I to the airport this morning, but since I’m undoubtedly going to see Elliot this weekend, I was hoping I’d get the chance to talk to her before I left for Seattle.

“You’re sure you don’t want to come?” I ask Kate as I hand my suitcase to Luke, hoping she’ll change her mind so that I can corner her on the plane.

“No, we don’t have time for anymore packing,” Luke snaps as he slams the trunk closed and makes his way to the passenger’s seat.

“Ignore him, he’s in a bad mood,” I tell her.

“It’s fine,” She says, shaking her head. “I’ve got a ton of work to do this weekend anyway. Having an empty house will actually be good thing.” I deflate a little, because not getting to talk to her isn’t the only concern I have about leaving her on her own all weekend. In general, Kate is still extremely uncomfortable when she’s alone, a lingering effect of the terrifying stalker episode from our freshman year.

“Are you going to be okay?” I reply uncertainty. “Taylor is in Seattle so I can leave Luke here with you if you want.”

Her response is cut off by two, sharp blasts on the horn and Kate raises an eyebrow at me. “A whole weekend with that? A girl’s dream come true.”

I laugh. “I guess I’ll take him then,” She smiles and when we hear the horn once more, we both roll our eyes and climb into the car.

Unfortunately, traffic on the I-90 is fairly heavy and as Kate tries to weave her way through the tightly packed cars as quickly as possible, even I start to feel a little anxious. It’s seven thirty already. I was supposed to be in the air an hour and a half ago. Even if I was in the plane, taking off right now, I wouldn’t land in Seattle until almost 10:30 west coast time, 01:30 my time, which will basically mean I’m going to have to go straight to bed the second I get to Escala, and I’m not taking off right now.

I frown as I realize that all the delays tonight have essentially caused me to lose a night with Christian, and while I slump back into my seat, the music playing on the radio cuts off, and fills the car with the long drawn out ringing tone from my phone.

“It’s Christian,” Kate says, looking down at his name on the digital display in the dash.

“Answer it,” I tell her. She reaches for the button on the steering wheel that connects the bluetooth and, once the ringing stops, I answer.

“Hi, you’re on speaker.”

“Why aren’t you in the air?” He asks immediately. “My pilot just called to tell me you haven’t even arrived at the airport yet.”

“I know, I was going to text you just before I took off. I’m running late…”

Two hours late?”

“My meeting with Dr. Ralston went long, and it took me longer to pack than I expected, and now we’re stuck in traffic.”

He lets out an exasperated sigh. “How close are you?”

“Ten minutes,” Kate tells him.

“Fine. I’ll call and have them prepare for take off so you can leave the second you board the plane.”

“Thank you,” I tell him. “I’m sorry I’m late. I love you.”

“I love you too. I’ll see you in a few hours,” He says, and even though his words are perfectly pleasant, I can tell he isn’t happy. Especially when the phone clicks off without him even saying goodbye to me.

“I told you,” Luke says, in an airy, superior kind of way. I reach up to the front seat and flick the back of his ear.

Finally, we take the turnoff for the airport and are able to get onto the tarmac without any further delay. Christian’s jet is already roaring with life, the lights on the wings and on the tail blinking impatiently at me. I hardly even have time to give Kate a hug and thank her for dropping us off, before Luke is rushing me forward, carrying all of our bags.

“See you Sunday!” I yell back to Kate as I’m dragged towards the stairs that lead up into the plane.

“Love you, Ana! Fly safe! Text me when you land!” Kate calls after me.

I nod and then make my way up the stairs. Natalia is there waiting for me, smiling as I come through the open door and move down the aisle to the nearest seat.

“The captain is ready to take off,” She tells me, “Should I give him the go ahead?”

“Please,” I nod, and she flashes me another dazzling grin.

“Can I get you anything?”

“Some tea, please. And a blanket.”

She nods again and then turns to head up to the cockpit to give the pilot the green light, and as we begin taxing over the airfield, Luke hands me my backpack so that I can start on some of my reading.

There are a few planes in line ahead of us, so it takes probably another half an hour before we’re in the air, and once we’re at cruising altitude, Natalia sets a cup of hot Twinings in front of me, and hands me one of the plush blankets that are so soft and luxurious, they make me want to forget all about my homework and just cuddle into the seat and take a nap. It’s a long flight, just over 5 ½ hours, and by the time we’re crossing over the great plains of South Dakota, I find myself nodding off.

“Doing okay over there?” Luke asks, looking up from the screen on his laptop, which he’s using to watch some war movie.

“Yeah,” I reply, but even as I speak the word, a deep yawn forces its way out of me and leaves me feeling even more exhausted. I look down at my phone, as the time hasn’t updated from when we left Boston yet, and I groan when I see that it’s midnight because we still have two hours left before we land.

“There’s a bed in the back,” Luke suggests. “Why don’t you go try to sleep?”

“I’m fine,” I reply, shaking my head and trying to focus on my reading again. It’s too difficult though as the bleak, and arduous plot of Les Miserables does little to hold my attention. More than once, I have to go back and read 3 or 4 pages again because I start zoning out and realize I haven’t retained a single word of what I’ve read. I make it another forty minutes before I have to resign to the fact that I’m not going to be able to fight sleep any longer and I have to put the book down and make my way to the bedroom in the back of the plane. The bed is cold, too big for one person, and not nearly as comfortable as it looked before I wedged myself under the too tightly tucked sheets. Still, my head barely hits the pillow before I’m out so cold, not even the jolt of the plane touching down at SeaTac is enough to wake me. I am roused from the blissful darkness of dreamless sleep though when I feel a pair of soft, warm lips press into mine.

“Hey,” Christian’s voice whispers in the darkness. “Wake up, Sleeping Beauty.”

“Mmm,” I hum, as I begin to stretch my tired limbs beneath the blankets. I know I have to get up, but the hour or so of sleep I’ve gotten hasn’t been enough and when I finally do manage to pry my eyes open, it takes a gargantuan amount of effort.

“You sure you don’t just want to sleep here tonight?” I ask Christian, and he lets out a breathy laugh.

“No. Put your arms around me. I’ll carry you to the car.”

I do as he asks, groaning slightly as he pulls me from the bed, and then cuddle against his chest as he takes me out of the plane, down the steps, and into the warm SUV waiting for us on the tarmac. I must sleep the entire way home because it seems like only seconds pass from when Luke closes the door behind me to when Christian is gently nudging me awake again in the parking garage under Escala.

“We’re home,” He says softly. He climbs out of the car on his side, while I move slowly to exit mine. Christian gets to me faster than I’m able to get out of the car and, while I’m vaguely aware of Luke and Taylor taking my bags out of the back of the SUV, everything going on around me seems to take on a dream like quality until the elevator doors open and we’re released into the foyer of our apartment.

For a brief moment, I find clarity as I look around and feel the welcoming sense of home wash over me. It’s been a little over three weeks since I’ve been here and part of me wondered if it would feel strange to be home, but it doesn’t. It feels like I never left. Like I could be coming home from SIP or maybe an exceptionally late dinner with the Greys. Everything is exactly the same except for…

“It smells different,” I mumble sleepily, picking up on notes of something sweet and spicy as we head into the living room.

“Gail put out fall decorations,” Christian says, gesturing to the dining room table and the giant autumnal centerpiece silhouetted in the moonlight through the windows. “This whole apartment has smelled like cinnamon for a week now.”

“I like it,” I mutter in approval.

“I’m glad,” He replies, and I feel his lips press into my hair as he leads me back down the hallway towards our bedroom.

The second I’m through the bedroom door, I begin ripping my clothes off, desperate to be out of my jeans and curled up beneath the plush down comforter on our bed. I try pulling my jeans down my legs as I walk around to my side of the bed, but in my exhausted state, I’m not the most coordinated and I trip and fall in a very dramatic fashion onto the bed.

Christian laughs and crosses over to my side so that he can help remove my jeans and then turn down the bed for me. I settle down into the pillows while he gathers my discarded clothes from the floor to put in the hamper, and by the time he crawls in bed next to me, I’m nearly asleep again.

“I’ve missed you,” He tells me as he wraps his arms around me, but I can only manage a low hum in response. His hand begins to slide up my bare sides, towards my breast, and once his fingers find my nipple, he begins leaving a line of soft, sensual kisses along the curve of my neck.

“I can’t tonight, Christian,” I whisper. “I’m so tired…”

He lets out a long, drawn out breath of disappointment so I reach down and pull on his hand so that his arm wraps tighter around me.

“Hold me,” I mumble. His body shifts so that he’s pressed fully against me, and as I feel him squeeze me, I try to tell him that I love him, but my words are so garbled with sleep I’m not sure what they sound like to him.

The next morning, I’m wide awake at 4 A.M. Christian is wrapped around me, sleeping peacefully, and while I’d like to lay here, enjoying the feel of him against me and eagerly await what will come when he wakes up, I really do have a ton of work to do this weekend and I figure it’s better to get as much done before Christian wakes up as possible.

With as much care as I can manage, I slip out from under Christian’s arm and step onto the cold wood floor. I decide to take a page out of his own book, and slip a pillow into my place so that hopefully he’ll be able to sleep longer without realizing I’m gone. After placing a soft kiss on his hair, I tip toe quietly out of the room, retrieve my backpack from the floor in the foyer, and then make my way up to the office Christian made for me over the summer, where I spend the rest of the morning.

Unfortunately, I thought I’d made good progress on my paper when I’d put it down on Thursday, but when I open my laptop and look down at the page count, I find that that is not the case. A low, frustrated groan escapes from my chest as I begin reading through the last tab I had open and start scribbling notes on the pad of paper next to me. Nearly two hours later, I’ve only just begun work typing the bulk of my paper when Christian knocks softly on the door.

“Come in,” I say distractedly, not looking up from my laptop screen. The door opens and he slips inside, moving around the desk and placing each of his hands on the arms of my office chair so that he can force me to spin around and look at him.

“Good morning,” He says, leaning down to kiss me.

“Good morning,” I reply. “How’d you sleep?”

“Better than I have in weeks. Do you want to go out to breakfast this morning or would you like to cook? Gail’s going to be here this weekend, I could ask her to make something. Or we could go to my mom’s. You choose.”

“Actually, Christian…” I hesitate. “I’m kind of swamped. This paper took more research than I thought and I still have almost 7 pages to write. I really need to focus…”

“Oh,” He replies, slightly taken aback. “Well, I suppose that’s fine. I’m sure I can find something to work on. You’ll come find me when you’re finished?”

“Uh huh,” I agree quickly, reaching up to peck him on the lips once more as I turn back to my laptop. He hovers over me for a minute, and I’m not sure if he’s going to say something to me or is just reading over my shoulder, but eventually, he turns and leaves the room.

The rest of the day is a frustrating cocktail of stress and aggravation as I slowly drudge my way through page after page of this paper while constantly fending of interruptions from Christian. I know he just wants to spend time with me, I know he misses me, I know it’s hard to have me in the apartment but still inaccessible, but I told him this was what I had to do before I came and he said he wanted me here anyway. Now we’re both irritated with each other and it’s bad enough that by the time seven o’clock rolls around, I’m starving, but the last thing in the world I want to do is go downstairs and be cornered by Christian again. Unfortunately, the growling in my stomach becomes so distracting, I realize I’m going to have to bite the bullet and face him if I plan on getting any more work done tonight.

With a sigh, I get out of my seat and head out of my office, feeling like a misbehaving child as I creep down the hallway to see if Christian is in the great room. Part of me is hoping I’m going to luck out and he’ll have locked himself in his office so that I can sneak down to the kitchen without being seen and avoid the fight all together, but when I get to the stairs I can see that that isn’t the case. Like a predatory animal, he’s stalking back and forth in front of the fireplace, talking to someone on the phone.

I take a deep, bracing breath, preparing myself, and then slowly start to descend the stairs, but when I hear what he’s saying on the phone, I pause.

“I don’t give a fuck what they think, Ros, it’s still my company. I’m not just CEO, I’m sole proprietor and I have no problem cutting any one of them loose if they don’t get behind that. No one is irreplaceable.”

He’s quiet for a minute, staring into the orange and pink sunset through the windows, and when he speaks again, it’s a brief, harsh good-bye, and he hangs up the phone.

“Hey,” I call softly to get his attention as I make my way down the rest of the stairs. “What was that? Is everything, okay?”

“It’s fine,” He says shortly. “Are you finished yet?”

“No, I was just…”

“Jesus Christ, Anastasia!” He exclaims, turning away from me and running his fingers through his hair in frustration. “Do you realize that you’re leaving in sixteen hours?”

“I know, and I’m sorry I’ve been busy, but I have to get my homework done.”

“I understand that, but I’ve barely seen you. You were late getting here, you’ve spent the entire day upstairs… I didn’t even get to wake up with you. If you’re not even going to make an effort to spend time with me, why are you here?”

“I told you I didn’t have time to come this weekend, Christian. This idea you have that I’m going to come home every weekend and be able to give you all of my attention is unrealistic. I’m a student and I have responsibilities. I don’t have time to travel across the country twice a week, every week.”

“No, but you have time to go to parties at Carter Reed’s house,” He says coldly.

I blanch. “That was… I didn’t know it was his house, Christian. Kate..”

“I don’t give a fuck whose house it was, Anastasia. I’m not pissed because of Carter Reed, I’m pissed because you spent a whole night out drinking with Kate and then you tell me that you don’t have time to sit down and have fucking dinner with me. You’ve been too busy to show up when you say you’re going to, or to make love with me when you got home. I miss you, Ana. It’s hard having you so far away from me all the time. This whole thing is bringing up a lot of…” He stops, swallows, and then changes direction. “You have to make time for me. We have to make each other a priority. I worked thirteen hour days the week before your birthday so that I could have uninterrupted time with you when we were together. I’m fine if you need a couple of hours to do homework while you’re here, but I’m not fine with you using the little time in the week that I have with you to do things you should have been doing during the week while you were in Cambridge.”

I look away from him, feeling the guilt crash over me as I realize he’s right. I did try to get through the work I had before I came out here, but I also watched American Idol and Grey’s Anatomy with Kate last week. I stayed up late with Luke on Thursday to watch football, I did go to a party, and I spent a lot of time working on my query letter when I should have set more realistic expectation with Dr. Ralston. I’m not used to time begin a commodity, but now that I can see how much wasting my time during the week has hurt the man that I love, I realize how precious it really is.

“I’m sorry,” I tell him. “You’re right, I was irresponsible. You are my priority, Christian, and I’m going to spend the rest of the time I have here with you.”

“Really?” He asks. I nod.

“Yeah. I can um… I can finish my reading on the flight home and I can pull an all-nighter tomorrow if that’s what it takes to get this paper done. But I’m all yours for the rest of the weekend.”

“Good,” He nods, and he takes the few steps between us to wrap me in his arms and kiss me.

“Can we eat?” I ask, looking up at him. “I think I’m actually dying.”

He laughs. “Do you want to order in?”

“Mmm,” I mumble. “Can we order from that Pad Thai place on the corner that I like? I’ve been craving those spicy noodles ever since I’ve been back in Cambridge.”

“Sure,” He replies, smiling down at me as he reaches into his pocket for his phone so that he can order.

“I’m just gonna go save everything on my computer and then jump in the shower, okay? Fifteen minutes?”

“I’ll be waiting,” He says, and I kiss him once more before darting up the stairs to my office.

After a very rushed shower, I head downstairs to the extremely welcome smell of Thai food filling the living room. I take a seat next to Christian and immediately begin dishing a very generous serving of noodles onto my plate while he responds to something on his phone.

“Is everything okay at GEH?” I ask, remembering his phone call from earlier as I take a welcome bite and turn to look at him.

“It could be… better,” He admits ruefully. “Business is fine, it’s just… internal things. I’ve got it under control. I don’t want you to worry about it.”

“You’re sure?” I check and he nods.

“How was your week?”

“Fine,” I shrug. “Stressful, but fine. Has Elliot said anything to you about what’s going on between him and Kate? I know there’s something wrong, but Kate either brushes it off like it’s nothing or gets mad and shuts me out.”

“No,” He says. “But he has been a little… clingy this week. He’s called me three or four times a day, every day, and he’s been over here every morning to run with me. I thought he just missed Kate but he makes it sound like they’re not talking very much.”

“No, they’re not,” I agree. “And Kate…” I’m about to tell him about what I’d almost witnessed at the party last Tuesday, but I’m not actually sure if that’s a good idea. Christian is Elliot’s brother and if I tell him I thought Kate was maybe thinking of cheating on him, Christian would definitely tell Elliot and it could cause all kinds of trouble for them. I don’t want to make anything worse and so instead of telling him about the almost kiss, I hurry to think of something else. “Kate’s been upset.”

“Well, hopefully they figure it out soon,” Christian says. “I love my brother but he’s driving me crazy.”

He looks up at me, waiting for my response, but the word crazy has reminded me of the other thing I have to tell him.

“Christian…” I begin hesitantly, and he furrows his brow.

“What?” He asks, carefully.

“Do you remember when we were on campus last week and I thought I saw Leila Williams?”

“Yes.”

“I think… I actually did.”

“What do you mean?”

“I saw her again… at that party at Carter Reed’s house.”

He drops his fork. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah.” I nod. “I talked to her.”

“You talked to her?” He snaps, angry now, and I raise my hand in a conciliatory gesture.

“She cornered me in the kitchen,” I explain. “I asked her what she was doing there and she told me she’s enrolled in Boston University. She lives in Cambridge now.” I watch the muscle in his jaw twitch and his hands ball into fists on the table, so before he can launch into an angry tirade that will probably include me not going back to school, I start on the damage control.

“I don’t think she’s there because of me,” I tell him honestly. “She says she has family in Connecticut and she’s there to study art history. She didn’t seem very concerned with the fact that I was there, she even told me to get over myself when I suggested she was there for me, and… I believe her. Boston University isn’t cheap and it’s not like she has money to be throwing away on college tuition just so she can follow me around.”

He takes a deep breath but his body doesn’t relax. “I don’t like this, Anastasia. I don’t want her anywhere near you.”

“I know, and I told her to stay away from me. Luke knows she’s there, he’ll keep an eye out for her and he’ll protect me. And… I mean, she’s jealous and manipulative, but I don’t think she’d actually hurt me. Even when she was trying to get revenge on you, all she could do was spread lies about you to the media, but Cambridge isn’t like Seattle with the press and stuff. Nobody cares who I am there so she can’t really do anything to me that way either.”

He still doesn’t look pacified but he nods. “I don’t want you going anywhere alone,” He says, firmly. “If you leave the house, I want someone with you at all times.”

“Okay,” I agree. I think he’s being a little overprotective, but since Luke is with me everywhere I go anyway, it’s not a difficult promise to make. He gives me a long, lingering look to let me know that he’s serious, and when I let him know once more that I understand his conditions, he nods and reluctantly moves on.

After dinner, Christian helps me clean the dishes and then suggests we watch one of the black and white movies he’s brought up from my old apartment, but I’ve been sitting all day staring at a screen and I’m kind of in the mood for something a little more interactive.

“What do you say we play a game?” I ask him, and he looks down at me dubiously.

“You’re not going to make me play Monopoly again, are you? Because I swear to god, Ana, if I don’t get to fuck you tonight, I’m going to lose my goddamn mind.”

“I was thinking something much more risque…” I say coyly. “Like, maybe, strip poker?”

“Strip poker?” He asks. “I’m not really much of a poker kind of guy…”

“Good, then I’ll get to see your dick.”

“Oh, baby. We don’t have to play cards for that to become a reality for you,” He says, lowering his voice. He reaches down for the buttons on his trousers, but I stop him.

“We do if you want to get me naked,” I tell him. He pouts and I give him a wide smile as I turn back towards the game room we stocked over the summer. “I’ll get the cards, you prepare yourself to lose.”

“I never lose, Anastasia,” He taunts me.

The game goes fairly well in my favor for the first few hands as Christian was right, he isn’t very good. Once he starts to get the hang of the game though, he also starts winning and soon we’re both sitting at the dining room table, stripped down to our underwear.

“Pair of sixes, ace high,” I say as I lay my cards out on the table, and Christian clicks his tongue.

“I’m sorry, baby. That’s not going to be good enough to beat my three queens.”

I make a face as I stare down at the cards in front of him, then sigh in defeat and reach up for the hooks on my bra.

“Oh no,” He says, shaking his head. “I want your panties.”

“Will I get them back?” I ask, raising an eyebrow at him.

“That depends on how memorable tonight is,” He says. “Take them off.”

I smirk at him and get out of my chair, turning so that my behind is only a foot or so away from him, and then bend over at the waist to give him the perfect view as I slowly drag my panties down my legs.

“Oh, Ana,” He moans. His hands grip firmly onto my ass and he presses his thumbs into my lips to spread me open. I hear the low groan of his chair against the marble floor as he leans forward but, when I feel his breath, I quickly stand up straight before his mouth can touch me.

“What are you doing?” He asks, as I turn and toss my panties into his lap.

“Getting back to the game,” I say innocently. His brow furrows, like he can’t possibly understand how we could go back to something as trivial as playing cards now that I’m sans-panties, and I smirk. When I sit back in my chair, I place my right foot on one of the joints on the legs of the table, and the other on the armrest of his chair, holding them open to give him an unobstructed view. He stares between my legs, the hunger obvious in his eyes.

“Your deal, Christian,” I tell him.

“You win,” He whispers, but his eyes stay transfixed between my legs. The very tip of his tongue brushes the bottom of his top lip and I can tell he’s aching to fall to the floor and devour me, but this little tease has suddenly made the game much more interesting. I’m not ready for it to be over. Slowly, I reach down between my legs and place my fingers over my center, blocking his view, but touching myself does nothing to quench the longing that is blazing like fire in his gaze.

“Fuck, Ana…” He groans, but I shake my head.

“Deal the cards, Christian.”

With a great deal of effort he tears his eyes away from me and starts dealing us each a hand. When I move my hand away from between my legs and reach down to pick mine up, his eyes immediately shift down again, and I click my tongue disapprovingly.

“Focus, Christian,” I tell him, and he lets out an aggravated huff before picking up his own pile of cards. Once we’ve started the hand, I can see the great deal of effort he puts into keeping his eyes off of me, trying to hide the extent of his desire, but his body betrays him. His erection has grown to the point where it’s broken through the hole in the front of his boxers, and every now and then, I catch him reaching down to adjust it.

“How many do you want?” He asks me.

“Just one please,” I say, tossing the two of clubs from my hand face down onto the table. He takes one off the top of the pile and I pick it up, smirking a little as I look down at the king of hearts that gives me two pair. He also takes one card, glances down at it, and then looks up at me expectantly.

“What do you say we make this more interesting?” I ask him, and he raises an intrigued eyebrow at me.

“Go on…”

“If I win this hand, you have to come visit me next. In Cambridge.”

He rolls his eyes. “You have a roommate, Anastasia.”

“What do you call Gail and Taylor?” I ask him.

“Staff,” He replies. “Who live in their own quarters and who I know aren’t listening and won’t walk in on us if I choose to fuck you on my kitchen counter. “

“I’ll send Kate to spend the weekend at Luke’s,” I counter. “Or we could get a hotel. Or we could just do whatever the fuck we want and Kate can deal with it. The point is, if I win, you travel to me. You sit on a plane for 5 ½ hours. You deal with the jet lag.”

He narrows his eyes. “Fine. But if I win, I get to do whatever I want with you tonight. Total. Power. Exchange. For the rest of the night.”

“Kinky fuckery?” I ask, raising an eyebrow at him.

“Oh, yes,” He nods, and I fight the smile tugging at the corner of my lips.

“Deal.”

“Then play your hand, Miss Steele,” He says, nodding to me. I bite down on my bottom lip and slowly lower my cards so that he can see them.

“Kings and Aces,” I say confidently, and his face falls.

“That’s really too bad,” He says, and just as I’m about to begin my victory gloating, he sighs, turns his cards towards me, and I can see that he has a full house. “I’d really have liked to have more time to plan tonight.”

I mash my lips together indignantly and then reach forward with my leg to nudge him with the ball of my foot, but he grabs onto my ankle and lifts my leg so that he can lavish his tongue around my toe. I let my head fall backwards as I enjoy the feeling until he stops suddenly.

“Get on your knees, Anastasia,” He commands and, because he’s won fair and square and I’ve agreed to the terms, I have no choice but to comply.

I slide out of the chair, folding up the sweater I was wearing to put under my knees, and then settle down on the floor. Once I’m comfortable, I look up at him expectantly.

“Suck my cock,” He tells me.

I reach forward to help him remove his boxers and then grip him firmly by the base of his erection while I slowly lower my mouth onto him. He lets me set my own pace for a moment, and besides leaning forward once to unsnap my bra and pull it down my shoulders, he mostly just sits back and enjoys the feeling of my lips and tongue moving around him. After a while though, he stops me very suddenly by pulling me back.

“Wrap those beautiful breasts around me,” He says, reaching down to hold his erection straight up. I look at him confused for a moment, unsure of what he means. “Push them together and move them down around my cock,” He clarifies. “I’m want to fuck them”

I do as he asks, pressing my breasts together and then leaning over his lap so that he can slide his erection between them. He moans as he begins to move, and so, holding pressure around him, I begin to slide my breasts up and down over him. Soon he’s really thrusting upward, matching my pace, and I’m surprised by how turned on I am by this.

“Fuck, that looks so good,” He says, his eyes blazing down at me. “Stick your tongue out, lick the tip of my cock. Oh, Ana…”

I do as he asks and look up at him, not concealing how much I’m actually enjoying this, and just as his ab muscles begin to clinch, signaling that he’s getting close, he reaches down and pulls me off the floor.

“Get on the table,” He tells me, brushing the cards to the floor with his arm. I do, placing my knees close to the edge of the table while he bends down behind me to pick something up off the floor. “Bend over and give me your hands.”

This is difficult as I have to lower my chest and head all the way down on the table before I can reach my hands behind my back. He grabs onto them, holding them both with one hand while he wraps fabric around my wrists to bind them together. I’m slightly confused because he wasn’t wearing a tie or anything else I would imagine he could use to restrain me, but when I look back, I can see the deep purple lace from my panties resting on my fingers.

“Is that okay?” He asks, tugging on the thin fabric to test whether or not he’s tied it too tightly.

“Yes,” I respond, and I’m immediately met with a harsh slap on my ass. I moan as I’m reminded how much I really love it when he spanks me, and he does it again.

“Yes, what?” He asks.

“Yes, sir.”

“Mmm,” He moans. I hear the scraping of the chair on the floor behind me and once he’s settled down in the chair, he grips tightly to each of my hips and then brings his mouth to my now aching core. I let out a ragged breath as I feel his tongue make contact with my clitoris, and just as my thighs begin to tremble, he pulls away and slaps me hard on the ass again.

“What was that for?” I ask indignantly.

“My pleasure,” He responds, and then he does it again. I feel the muscles deep inside of me clench as he hits me a third time and a shiver rocks over my body. “You like that, don’t you, Anastasia?”

“Yes, Sir,” I breathe. He hits me twice more, harder each time and while the first slap sends a jolt of pleasure through me, the second rocks me forward a little too violently, and my face slams into the table.

“Ah! Yellow!” I cry out and immediately, he stops.

“What’s wrong? Did I hurt you?” He asks, his voice suddenly alarmed.

“No, not really,” I assure him. “But my face isn’t attached to the table, Christian.”

“Sorry,” He says, but as he reaches up to untie my hands, I move them away from him.

“I didn’t say red,” I protest. “I don’t want you to stop.”

“Let’s get you on the floor then,” He says, after a moment’s hesitation. He grips me by the hips, holding me up as he guides me to the ground, and once he has me laid over the table again, his hand reaches down between my legs.

“Oh, yesssss,” I hiss as I feel his long finger sink into me. He adds another, using it to stretch me and then search for the place inside me that is guaranteed to have me unraveling in his hands. The moment he finds it, my muscles tighten and he lets out a low, pleasure laced groan while he begins tracing slow circles inside of me. Soon, I’m panting, squirming desperately over the unrelenting surface of the table, and he begins thrusting his fingers into me harder.

“Are you going to come, Anastasia?” He asks.

“Yes, Sir,” I mewl. “So close…”

“Look back at me,” He commands. “I want you to look at me while I make you come. Your orgasms are for me tonight, Anastasia. Your pleasure is mine.”

I do as he asks, and the moment I see the possessive heat burning in his steely eyes, the dam breaks and I come, hard, around his fingers.

“Christian!” I scream. “Oh, fuck! Christian!”

“That’s it, baby,” He encourages me. His pace doesn’t falter and it has me flying. I’m gasping, writhing uninhibitedly over the table, and before I come fully down, he removes his fingers and then slams inside of me, invigorating the fire again. He’s relentless, savage almost, as each hard thrust is accompanied with the harsh, high grating sound of the table moving over the marble floor. He grabs ahold of my still tied wrists, using them for leverage as he ravages me, and as wild, and passionate, and unencumbered as this is, I find myself somehow wanting more. I want his hands to hold me tighter, his thrusts to take me harder, and while I know that if he did, he would probably hurt me, I almost don’t care. There’s a trust between us now that allows me to lose myself in the darkness of the kink with him. I know he would never intentionally hurt me. He won’t even punish me, something he made clear the last time we explored this kind of sex together. This about fantasy and the pure unadulterated sexual gratification we both get from mixing pain with pleasure and from my complete surrender to his desires and expert touch.

“Oh, fuck! Yes!” I scream as he slaps me again. “Harder, Christian!” His hand massages the part of my ass where he’s hit me, soothing away the sting before he spanks me again, and when his hand pulls away and comes down hard on my ass once more, the tight ball of concentrated pleasure deep inside of me shatters and sends shockwaves through every part of my body.

“Fuck! Ana!” He growls. “You’re going to make me come.”

I whimper and the second the tremors of my orgasm cease, he pulls out of me and quickly yanks the knot in my panties loose so that my hands are freed.

“On your knees,” He commands me, and I hurriedly turn around and lower myself down onto the ground in front of him again. He’s stroking his cock, his face screwed up in concentration, and for a moment I think he wants to come in my mouth, so I lean forward to wrap my lips around him, but he stops me.

“Lean your head back,” He tells me. “Hold your breasts together.” I give him a strange look but do as he asks and a few seconds later I feel hot, wet liquid dripping down over my breasts, accompanied by his low, satisfied groan. His body shudders slightly as he comes down, but when he’s finished, he reaches out for my hand to help me to my feet and then pulls me into him. His lips come down on mine and I’m a little surprised by the gentility of the kiss. He’s been so rough and because I promised TPE for the rest of the night, I expected his kiss to continue that, for his lips to be hard and possessive as he claimed me with his mouth, but instead I’m met with sweet and loving tenderness. It almost knocks me off balance. I’m still reeling from the mindblowing, animalistic sex, and here he is, doing a complete 180 on me.

“Let’s go get you cleaned up,” He whispers softly against my lips. “Then you can pick a movie for us to watch in bed together.”

“I get to pick the movie?” I ask, surprised. “What happened to total power exchange?”

He chuckles. “I’m ordering you to pick a movie so that I can hold you in our bed for the rest of the night. That’s really what I want.”

“Your wish,” I reply with a smile.

“I love you, Anastasia,”

“I love you too, Christian,” I tell him, and he kisses me once more before taking my hand and leading me back towards our bedroom.

Next Chapter