Fifty Shades of Grey

Chapter 17

Chapter Seventeen

The candle flame is too hot. It flickers and dances in the over-warm breeze, a breeze that brings no respite from the heat. Soft gossamer wings flutter to and fro in the dark, sprinkling dusty scales in the circle of light. I'm struggling to resist, but I'm drawn. And then it's so bright, and I am flying too close to the sun, dazzled by the light, fried and melting from the heat, weary in my endeavors to stay airborne. I am so warm. The heat... it's stifling, overpowering. It wakes me.

I open my eyes, and I'm draped in Christian Grey. He's wrapped around me like a victory flag. He's fast asleep with his head on my chest, his arm over me, holding me close, one of his legs thrown over and hooked around both of mine. He's suffocating me with his body heat, and he's heavy. I take a moment to absorb that he's still in my bed and fast asleep, and it's light outside - morning. He has spent the whole night with me.

My right arm is stretched, no doubt in search of a cool spot, and as I process the fact that he's still with me, the thought occurs that I can touch him. He's asleep. Tentatively, I lift my hand and run the tips of my fingers down his back. Deep in his throat, I hear a faint distressed groan, and he stirs. He nuzzles my chest, inhaling deeply as he wakes. Sleepy, blinking gray eyes meet mine beneath his tousled mop of hair.

"Good morning," he mumbles and frowns. "Jesus, even in my sleep I'm drawn to you." He moves slowly, unpeeling his limbs from me as he gets his bearings. I become

aware of his erection against my hip. He notices my wide-eyed reaction, and he smiles a slow sexy smile.

"Hmm... this has possibilities, but I think we should wait until Sunday." He leans down and nuzzles my ear with his nose.

I flush, but then I feel seven shades of scarlet from his heat.

"You're very hot," I murmur.

"You're not so bad yourself," he murmurs and presses himself against me, suggestively.

I flush some more. That's not what I meant. He props himself up on his elbow gazing down at me, amused. He bends, and to my surprise, plants a gentle kiss on my lips.

"Sleep well?" he asks.

I nod, staring up at him, and I realize that I've slept very well except maybe for the last half-hour when I was too hot.

"So did I." He frowns. "Yes, really well." He raises his eyebrows in confused surprise.

"What's the time?"

I glance at my alarm.

"It's 7:30."

"7:30... shit." He scrambles out of bed and drags on his jeans.

It is my turn to look amused as I sit up. Christian Grey is late and flustered. This is something I have never seen before. I belatedly realize that my behind is no longer sore.

"You are such a bad influence on me. I have a meeting. I have to go - I have to be in Portland at eight. Are you smirking at me?"


He grins.

"I'm late. I don't do late. Another first, Miss Steele." He pulls on his jacket and then bends down and grasps my head, his hands on either side.

"Sunday," he says, and the word is pregnant with an unspoken promise. Everything deep in my body uncurls and then clenches in delicious anticipation, the feeling is exquisite. Holy hell, if my mind could just keep up with my body. He leans forward and kisses me quickly. He grabs his stuff from my side table and his shoes - which he doesn't put on.

"Taylor will come and sort your Beetle. I was serious. Don't drive it. I'll see you at my place on Sunday. I'll email you a time." And like a whirlwind, he's gone .

Oh my, Christian Grey spent the night with me, and I feel rested. And there was no sex, only cuddling. He told me he never slept with anyone - but he's slept three times with me.

I grin and slowly climb out of my bed. I feel more optimistic than I have for the last day or so. I head for the kitchen, needing a cup of tea.

After breakfast, I shower and dress quickly for my last day at Clayton's. It is the end of an era - goodbye to Mr. & Mrs. Clayton, WSU, Vancouver, the apartment, my Beetle. I glance at the mean machine - it's only 7:52. I have time.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Assault and Battery: The after-effects Date: May 27 2011 08:05

To: Christian Grey

Dear Mr. Grey

You wanted to know why I felt confused after you - which euphemism should we apply - spanked, punished, beat, assaulted me. Well during the whole alarming process I felt demeaned, debased and abused. And much to my mortification, you're right, I was aroused, and that was unexpected. As you are well aware, all things sexual are new to me - I only wish I was more experienced and therefore more prepared. I was shocked to feel aroused.

What really worried me was how I felt afterwards. And that's more difficult to articulate.

I was happy that you were happy. I felt relieved that it wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. And when I was lying in your arms, I felt - sated. But I feel very uncomfortable, guilty even, feeling that way. It doesn't sit well with me, and I'm confused as a result. Does that answer your question?

I hope the world of Mergers and Acquisitions is as stimulating as ever... and that you weren't too late.

Thank you for staying with me.


From: Christian Grey

Subject: Free Your Mind

Date: May 27 2011 08:24

To: Anastasia Steele

Interesting... if slightly overstated title heading Miss Steele.

To answer your points:

I'll go with spanking - as that's what it was.

So you felt demeaned, debased, abused & assaulted - how very Tess Durbeyfield of you. I believe it was you who decided on the debasement if I remember correctly. Do you really feel like this or do you think you ought to feel like this?

Two very different things. If that is how you feel, do you think you could just try and embrace these feelings, deal with them, for meThat's what a submissive would do.

I am grateful for your inexperience. I value it, and I'm only beginning to understand what it means. Simply put... it means that you are mine in every way.

Yes, you were aroused, which in turn was very arousing, there's nothing wrong with that.

Happy does not even begin to cover how I felt. Ecstatic joy comes close.

Punishment spanking hurts far more than sensual spanking - so that's about as hard as it gets, unless of course you commit some major transgression, in which case I'll use some implement to punish you with. My hand was very sore. But I like that.

I felt sated too - more so than you could ever know.

Don't waste your energy on guilt, feelings of wrongdoing etc. We are consent-ing adults and what we do behind closed doors is between ourselves. You need to free your mind and listen to your body.

The world of M&A is not nearly as stimulating as you are Miss Steele.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

Holy crap... mine in every way. My breath hitches.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Consenting Adults!

Date: May 27 2011 08:26

To: Christian Grey

Aren't you in a meeting?

I'm very glad your hand was sore.

And if I listened to my body, I'd be in Alaska by now.


PS: I will think about embracing these feelings.

From: Christian Grey

Subject: You Didn't Call the Cops

Date: May 27 2011 08:35

To: Anastasia Steele

Miss Steele

I am in a meeting discussing the futures market if you're really interested.

For the record - you stood beside me knowing what I was going to do.

You didn't at any time ask me to stop - you didn't use either safe word.

You are an adult - you have choices.

Quite frankly, I'm looking forward to the next time my palm is ringing with pain.

You're obviously not listening to the right part of your body.

Alaska is very cold and no place to run. I would find you.

I can track your cell phone - remember?

Go to work.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

I scowl at the screen. He's right of course. It's my choice. Hmm. Is he serious about coming to find me, should I decide to escape for a whileMy mind flits briefly to my mother's offer. I hit reply.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Stalker

Date: May 27 2011 08:36

To: Christian Grey

Have you sought therapy for your stalker tendencies?


From: Christian Grey

Subject: StalkerMe?

Date: May 27 2011 08:38

To: Anastasia Steele

I pay the eminent Dr. Flynn a small fortune with regard to my stalker and other tendencies.

Go to work.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Expensive Charlatans

Date: May 27 2011 08:40

To: Christian Grey

May I humbly suggest you seek a second opinion?

I am not sure that Dr. Flynn is very effective.

Miss Steele

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Second Opinions

Date: May 27 2011 08:43

To: Anastasia Steele

Not that it's any of your business, humble or otherwise, but Dr. Flynn is the second opinion.

You will have to speed, in your new car, putting yourself at unnecessary risk - I think that's against the rules.


Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele


Date: May 27 2011 08:47

To: Christian Grey

As the object of your stalker tendencies - I think it is my business actually.

I haven't signed yet. So rules schmules. And I don't start until 9:30.

Miss Steele

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Descriptive Linguistics

Date: May 27 2011 08:49

To: Anastasia Steele

SchmulesNot sure where that appears in Webster's Dictionary Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Descriptive Linguistics

Date: May 27 2011 08:52

To: Christian Grey

It's between control freak and stalker.

And descriptive linguistics is a hard limit for me.

Will you stop bothering me now?

I'd like to go to work in my new car.


From: Christian Grey

Subject: Challenging but amusing Young Women

Date: May 27 2011 08:56

To: Anastasia Steele

My palm is twitching.

Drive safely Miss Steele.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

The Audi is a joy to drive. It has power steering. Wanda, my Beetle, has no power in it at all - anywhere, so my daily workout, which was driving my Beetle, will cease. Oh, but I will have a personal trainer to contend with, according to Christian's rules. I frown. I hate exercising.

While I am driving, I try and analyze our email exchange. He's a patronizing son-of-a-bitch sometimes. And then I think of Grace and I feel guilty. But of course, she wasn't his birth mother. Hmm that's a whole world of unknown pain. Well, patronizing son-of-a-bitch works well then. Yes. I'm an adult, thank you for reminding me, Christian Grey, and it is my choice. The problem is, I just want Christian, not all his... baggage - and right now he has a 747 hold's worth of baggage. Could I just lie back and embrace itLike a submissiveI've said I'd try. It's an awfully big ask.

I pull into the parking lot at Clayton's. As I make my way in, I can hardly believe it's my last day. Fortunately, the store is busy and time passes quickly. At lunchtime, Mr.

Clayton summons me from the stockroom. He's standing beside a motorcycle courier.

"Miss Steele?" the courier asks. I frown questioningly at Mr. Clayton, who shrugs, as puzzled as me. My heart sinks. What has Christian sent me nowI sign for the small package and open it straight away. It's a BlackBerry. My heart sinks further. I switch it on.

From: Christian Grey

Subject: BlackBerry ON LOAN

Date: May 27 2011 11:15

To: Anastasia Steele

I need to be able to contact you at all times, and since this is your most honest form of communication, I figured you needed a BlackBerry.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Consumerism Gone Mad

Date: May 27 2011 13:22

To: Christian Grey

I think you need to call Dr. Flynn right now.

Your stalker tendencies are running wild.

I am at work. I will email you when I get home.

Thank you for yet another gadget.

I wasn't wrong when I said you were the ultimate consumer.

Why do you do this?


From: Christian Grey

Subject: Sagacity from one so young

Date: May 27 2011 13:24

To: Anastasia Steele

Fair point-well made, as ever Miss Steele.

Dr. Flynn is on vacation.

And I do this because I can.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

I put the thing in my back pocket, hating it already. Emailing Christian is addictive, but I am supposed to be working. It buzzes once against my behind... how apt, I think ironically, but summoning all my willpower, I ignore it.

At four, Mr. and Mrs. Clayton gather all the other employees in the shop, and during a hair-curlingly embarrassing speech, present me with a check for three hundred dollars.

In that moment, three weeks of - exams, graduation, intense, f**ked-up billionaires, de-

flowering, hard & soft limits, playrooms with no consoles, helicopter rides - and the fact that I will move tomorrow, all well up inside me. Amazingly, I hold myself together. My subconscious is in awe. I hug the Claytons hard. They have been kind and generous em-ployers, and I will miss them.

Kate is climbing out of her car when I arrive home.

"What's that?" she says accusingly, pointing at the Audi. I can't resist.

"It's a car," I quip. She narrows her eyes, and for a brief moment, I wonder if she's going to put me across her knee too. "My graduation present." I try and act nonchalant. Yes, I get expensive cars given to me everyday. Her mouth drops open.

"Generous, over-the-top bastard, isn't he?"

I nod.

"I did try not to accept it, but frankly, it's just not worth the fight."

Kate purses her lips.

"No wonder you're so overwhelmed. I did note that he stayed."

"Yeah." I smile wistfully.

"Shall we finish packing?"

I nod and follow her inside. I check the email from Christian.

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Sunday

Date: May 27 2011 13:40

To: Anastasia Steele

Shall I see you at 1 p.m. Sunday?

The doctor will be at Escala to see you at 1:30.

I'm leaving for Seattle now.

I hope your move goes well, and I look forward to Sunday.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

Jeez, he could be discussing the weather. I decide to email him once we've finished packing, he can be such fun one minute, and then he can be so formal and stuffy. It's difficult to keep up. Honestly, it's like an email to an employee. I roll my eyes at it defiantly and join Kate to pack.

Kate and I are in the kitchen when there's a knock at the door. Taylor stands on the porch, looking immaculate in his suit. I notice the trace of ex-army in his buzz cut, trim physique, and his cool stare.

"Miss Steele," he says. "I've come for your car."

"Oh yes, of course. Come in, I'll fetch the keys."

Surely this is above and beyond the call of duty. I wonder again at Taylor's job description. I hand him the keys, and we walk in an uncomfortable silence for me - toward the light blue Beetle. I open the door and remove the flashlight from the glove box. That's it.

I have nothing else that's personal in the Wanda. Goodby,, Wanda. Thank you. I caress her roof as I close the passenger door.

"How long have you worked for Mr. Grey?" I ask.

"Four years, Miss Steele."

Suddenly, I have an overwhelming urge to bombard him with questions. What this man must know about Christian, all his secrets. But then he's probably signed an NDA.

I look nervously at him. He has the same taciturn expression as Ray, and I warm to him.

"He's a good man, Miss Steele," he says, and he smiles slightly. With that, he gives me a little nod, climbs into my car, and drives away.

Apartment, Beetle, Claytons - it's all change now. I shake my head as I wander back inside. And the biggest change of all is Christian Grey. Taylor thinks he's a good man.

Can I believe him?

Jose joins us with a Chinese take-out at eight. We're done. We're packed and ready to go. He brings several bottles of beer, and Kate and I sit on the couch while he's cross-legged on the floor between us. We watch crap TV, drink beer, and as the evening wears on, we fondly and loudly reminisce as the beer takes effect. It's been a good four years .

The atmosphere between Jose and I has returned to normal, the attempted kiss forgotten. Well, it's been swept under the rug that my inner goddess is lying on, eating grapes and tapping her fingers, waiting not so patiently for Sunday. There's a knock on the door, and my heart leaps into my throat. Is it?

Kate answers the door and is nearly knocked off her feet by Elliot. He seizes her in a Hollywood-style clinch that moves quickly into a European art house embrace. Honestly...

get a room. Jose and I stare at each other. I'm appalled at their lack of modesty.

"Shall we walk down to the bar?" I ask Jose, who nods frantically. We are too uncomfortable with the unrestrained sexing unfolding in front of us. Kate looks up at me, flushed and bright-eyed.

"Jose and I are going for a quick drink." I roll my eyes at her. Ha! I can still roll my eyes in my own time.

"Okay," she grins.

"Hi Elliot, bye Elliot."

He winks a big blue eye at me, and Jose and I are out of the door, giggling like teenagers. As we stroll down to the bar, I put my arm through Jose's. God, he's so uncomplicated

- I hadn't really appreciated that before.

"You'll still come to the opening of my show, won't you?"

"Of course, Jose, when is it?"

"June 9."

"What day is that?" I suddenly panic.

"It's a Thursday."

"Yeah I should make that... and you will visit us in Seattle?"

"Try and stop me." He grins.

It's late when I arrive back from the bar. Kate and Elliot are nowhere to be seen but boy can they be heard. Holy shit. I hope I'm not that loud. I know Christian isn't. I flush at the thought and escape to my room. After a brief not-at-all-awkward-thank-goodness hug, Jose has gone. I don't know when I'll see him again, probably his photographic show, and once again, I'm blown away that he finally has an exhibition. I shall miss him and his boy-ish charm. I couldn't bring myself to tell him about the Beetle, I know he'll freak when he finds out, and I can only deal with one man at a time freaking out at me. Once in my room, I check the mean machine, and of course, there's an email from Christian.

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Where Are You?

Date: May 27 2011 22:14

To: Anastasia Steele

'I am at work. I will email you when I get home.'

Are you still at work or have you packed your phone, BlackBerry and MacBook?

Call me, or I may be forced to call Elliot.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

Crap... Jose... shit.

I grab my phone. Five missed calls and one voice message. Tentatively, I listen to the message. It's Christian.

'I think you need to learn to manage my expectations. I am not a patient man. If you say you are going to contact me when you finish work, then you should have the decency to do so. Otherwise, I worry, and it's not an emotion I'm familiar with, and I don't tolerate it very well. Call me.'

Double crap. Will he ever give me a breakI scowl at the phone. He is suffocating me. With a deep dread uncurling in my stomach, I scroll down to his number and press dial. My heart is in my mouth as I wait for him to answer. He'd probably like to beat seven shades of shit out of me . The thought is depressing.

"Hi," he says softly, and his response knocks me off balance because I am expecting his anger, but if anything, he sounds relieved.

"Hi," I murmur.

"I was worried about you."

"I know. I'm sorry I didn't reply, but I'm fine."

He pauses for a beat.

"Did you have a pleasant evening?" He is crisply polite.

"Yes. We finished packing and Kate and I shared a Chinese take-out with Jose." I close my eyes tightly as I say Jose's name. Christian says nothing.

"How about you?" I ask to fill the sudden deafening chasm of silence. I will not let him guilt me out about Jose.

Eventually, he sighs.

"I went to a fundraising dinner. It was deathly dull. I left as soon as I could."

He sounds so sad and resigned. My heart clenches. I picture him all those nights ago sat at the piano in his huge living room and the unbearable bittersweet melancholy of the music he was playing.

"I wish you were here," I whisper, because I have an urge to hold him. Soothe him.

Even though he won't let me. I want his proximity.

"Do you?" he murmurs blandly. Holy mackerel. This doesn't sound like him, and my scalp prickles with dawning apprehension.

"Yes," I breathe. After an eternity, he sighs.

"I'll see you Sunday?"

"Yes, Sunday," I murmur, and a thrill courses through my body.


"Goodnight, Sir."

My address catches him unawares, I can tell by his sharp intake of breath.

"Good luck with your move tomorrow, Anastasia." His voice is soft. And we're both hanging on the phone like teenagers, neither wanting to hang up.

"You hang up," I whisper. Finally, I sense his smile.

"No, you hang up." And I know he's grinning.

"I don't want to."

"Neither do I."

"Were you very angry with me?"


"Are you still?"


"So you're not going to punish me?"

"No. I'm an in-the-moment kind of guy."

"I've noticed."

"You can hang up now, Miss Steele."

"Do you really want me to, Sir?"

"Go to bed, Anastasia."

"Yes, Sir."

We both stay on the line.

"Do you ever think you'll be able to do what you're told?" He's amused and exasperated at once.

"Maybe. We'll see after Sunday." And I press 'end' on the phone.

Elliot stands and admires his handiwork. He has re-plugged our TV into the satellite system in our Pike Place Market apartment. Kate and I flop on to the couch giggling, impressed by his prowess with a power drill. The flat screen looks odd against the brickwork of the converted warehouse, but no doubt I will get used to it.

"See, baby, easy." He grins a wide white-toothed smile at Kate, and she almost literally dissolves into the couch.

I roll my eyes at the pair of them.

"I'd love to stay, baby, but my sister is back from Paris. It's a compulsory family dinner tonight."

"Can you come by after?" Kate asks tentatively, all soft and un-Katelike.

I stand and make my way over to the kitchen area on the pretense of unpacking one of the crates. They are going to get icky.

"I'll see if I can escape," he promises.

"I'll come down with you." Kate smiles.

"Laters, Ana." Elliot grins.

"Bye, Elliot. Say hi to Christian from me."

"Just hi?" His eyebrows shoot up suggestively.

"Yes." I flush. He winks at me, and I go crimson as he follows Kate out of the apartment.Elliot is adorable and so different from Christian. He's warm, open, physical, very physical, too physical, with Kate. They can barely keep their hands off each other - to be honest it's embarrassing - and I am pea-green with envy.

Kate returns about twenty minutes later with pizza, and we sit, surrounded by crates, in our new open space, eating straight from the box. Kate's dad has done us proud. The apartment is not large, but it's big enough, three bedrooms and a large living space that looks out on to Pike Place Market itself. It's all solid wood floors and red brick, and the kitchen tops are smooth concrete, very utilitarian, very now. We both love that we will be in the heart of the city.

At eight the entry-phone buzzes. Kate leaps up - and my heart leaps into my mouth.

"Delivery, Miss Steele, Miss Kavanagh." Disappointment flows freely and unexpectedly through my veins. It's not Christian.

"Second floor, apartment two."

Kate buzzes the delivery boy in. His mouth falls open when he sees Kate, all tight jeans, t-shirt, hair piled high with escaping tendrils. She has that effect on men. He holds a bottle of champagne with a helicopter-shaped balloon attached. She gives him a dazzling smile to send him on his way and proceeds to read the card out to me.

Ladies, Good luck in your new home, Christian Grey.

Kate shakes her head in disapproval.

"Why can't he just write 'from Christian'And what's with the weird helicopter balloon?"

"Charlie Tango."


"Christian flew me to Seattle in his helicopter." I shrug.

Kate stares at me open mouthed. I have to say - I love these occasions - Katherine Kavanagh, silent and floored, they are so rare. I take a brief and luxurious moment to enjoy it.

"Yep, he has a helicopter, which he flew himself," I state proudly.

"Of course the obscenely rich bastard has a helicopter. Why didn't you tell me?" Kate looks accusingly at me, but she's smiling, shaking her head in disbelief.

"I've had a lot on my mind lately."

She frowns.

"Are you going to be okay while I'm away?"

"Of course." I answer reassuringly. New city, no job... nut-job boyfriend.

"Did you give him our address?

"No, but stalking is one of his specialties." I muse, matter-of-fact.

Kate's brow knits further.

"Somehow I'm not surprised. He worries me, Ana. At least it's a good champagne and it's chilled."

Of course, only Christian would send chilled champagne or get his secretary to do it...

or maybe Taylor. We open it there and then and find our teacups - they were the last items to be packed.

"Bollinger Grande Annee Rose 1999, an excellent vintage." I grin at Kate, and we clink teacups.

I wake early to a gray Sunday morning after a surprisingly refreshing night's sleep and lie awake staring at my crates. You should really be unpacking these, my subconscious nags, pursing her harpy lips together. No... today's the day. My inner goddess is beside herself, hopping from foot to foot. Anticipation hangs heavy and portentous over my head like a dark tropical storm cloud. Butterflies flood my belly - as well as a darker, carnal, captivating ache as I try to imagine what he will do to me... and of course, I have to sign that damned contract or do II hear the ping of incoming mail from the mean machine on the floor beside my bed.

From: Christian Grey

Subject: My Life in Numbers

Date: May 29 2011 08:04

To: Anastasia Steele

If you drive you'll need this access code for the underground garage at Escala: 146963

Park in bay 5 - it's one of mine.

Code for the elevator: 1880

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: An excellent Vintage

Date: May 29 2011 08:08

To: Christian Grey

Yes Sir. Understood.

Thank you for the champagne and the blow-up Charlie Tango, which is now tied to my bed.


From: Christian Grey

Subject: Envy

Date: May 29 2011 08:11

To: Anastasia Steele

You're welcome.

Don't be late.

Lucky Charlie Tango.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

I roll my eyes at his bossiness, but his last line makes me smile. I head for the bathroom, wondering if Elliot made it back last night and trying hard to rein in my nerves.

I can drive the Audi in high-heels! At 12:55 p.m. precisely, I pull into the garage at Escala and park in bay five. How many bays does he ownThe Audi SUV is there, the R8, and two smaller Audi SUVs... hmm. I check my seldom-worn mascara in the light up vanity mirror on my sunshield. Didn't have one of these in the Beetle.

Go girl! My inner goddess has her pom poms in hand - she's in cheerleading mode.

In the infinity mirrors of the elevator, I check out my plum dress, well - Kate's plum dress.

The last time I wore this, he wanted to peel it off me. My body clenches at the thought.

Oh my, the feeling is just exquisite, and I catch my breath. I'm wearing the underwear that Taylor bought for me. I flush at the thought of his buzz-cut roaming the aisles of Agent Provocateur or wherever he bought it. The doors open, and I'm facing the foyer of apartment number one.

Taylor stands at the double doors as I step out of the elevator.

"Good afternoon, Miss Steele," he says.

"Oh please call me, Ana."

"Ana," he smiles.

"Mr. Grey is expecting you."

I bet he is.

Christian is seated on his living room couch reading the Sunday papers. He glances up as Taylor directs me into the living area. The room is exactly as I remember it - it's been a whole week since I've been here - but it feels so much longer. Christian looks cool and calm - actually, he looks heavenly. He's in a loose white linen shirt and jeans, no shoes or socks. His hair is tousled and unkempt, and his gray eyes twinkle wickedly at me. He is jaw-droppingly handsome. He rises and strolls towards me, an amused appraising smile on his beautiful sculptured lips.

I stand immobilized at the entrance of the room, paralyzed by his beauty and the sweet anticipation of what's to come. The familiar charge between us is there, sparking slowly in my belly, drawing me to him.

"Hmm... that dress," he murmurs approvingly as he gazes down at me. "Welcome back, Miss Steele," he whispers, and clasping my chin, he leans down and proffers a gentle light kiss on my lips. The touch of his lips to mine reverberates throughout my body. My breath hitches.

"Hi," I whisper as I flush.

"You're on time. I like punctual. Come." He takes my hand and leads me to the couch. "I wanted to show you something," he says as we sit. He hands me the Seattle Times. On page eight, there's a photograph of the two of us together at the graduation ceremony. Holy crap. I'm in the paper. I check the caption.

Christian Grey and friend at the graduation ceremony at WSU Vancouver.

I laugh.

"So I'm your 'friend' now."

"So it would appear. And it's in the newspaper, so it must be true." He smirks.

Sitting beside me, his whole body is turned toward me, one of his legs tucked under the other. Reaching over, he tucks my hair behind my ear with his long index finger. My body comes alive at his touch, waiting and needful.

"So, Anastasia, you have a much better idea of what I'm about since you were last here."

"Yes." Where's he going with this?

"And yet you've returned."

I nod shyly, and his gray eyes blaze. He shakes his head slightly as if he's struggling with the idea.

"Have you eaten?" he asks out of the blue.



"Are you hungry?" He's really trying not to look annoyed.

"Not for food," I whisper, and his nostrils flare slightly in reaction.

He leans forward and whispers in my ear.

"You are as eager as ever, Miss Steele, and just to let you into a little secret, so am I.

But Dr. Greene is due here shortly." He sits up. "I wish you'd eat," he scolds me mildly.

My heated blood cools. Holy cow - the doctor. I'd forgotten.

"What can you tell me about Dr. Greene?" I ask to distract us both.

"She's the best Ob/Gyn in Seattle. What more can I say?" He shrugs.

"I thought I was seeing your doctor, and don't tell me you're really a woman, because I won't believe you."

He gives me a don't-be-ridiculous look.

"I think it's more appropriate that you see a specialist. Don't you?" he says mildly.

I nod. Holy Moses, if she's the best Ob/Gyn, he's scheduled her to see me on a Sunday

- at lunchtime! I cannot begin to imagine how much that costs. Christian frowns suddenly as if recalling something unpleasant.

"Anastasia, my mother would like you to come to dinner this evening. I believe Elliot is asking Kate too. I don't know how you feel about that. It will be odd for me to introduce you to my family."


"Are you ashamed of me?" I can't keep the wounded hurt out of my voice.

"Of course not." He rolls his eyes at me.

"Why is it odd?"

"Because I've never done it before."

"Why are you allowed to roll your eyes, and I'm not?"

He blinks at me.

"I wasn't aware that I was."

"Neither am I usually," I snap at him.

Christian glares at me, speechless. Taylor appears at the doorway.

"Dr. Greene is here, Sir."

"Show her up to Miss Steele's room."

Miss Steele's room!

"Ready for some contraception?" he asks as he stands and holds out his hand to me.

"You're not going to come as well are you?" I gasp, shocked.

He laughs.

"I'd pay very good money to watch, believe me, Anastasia, but I don't think the good doctor would approve."

I take his hand, and he pulls me up into his arms and kisses me deeply. I clutch on to his arms, taken by surprise. His hand is in my hair holding my head, and he pulls me against him, his forehead against mine.

"I'm so glad you're here," he whispers. "I can't wait to get you naked."

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