Fifty Shades of Grey

Chapter 24

Chapter Twenty-Four

Christian stands in a steel-barred cage. Wearing his soft, ripped jeans, his chest and feet are mouthwateringly naked, and he's staring at me. His private-joke smile etched on his beautiful face and his eyes a molten gray. In his hands he holds a bowl of strawberries.

He ambles with athletic grace to the front of the cage, gazing intently at me. Holding up a plump ripe strawberry, he extends his hand through the bars.

"Eat," he says, his tongue caressing the front of his palate as he enunciates the 't'.

I try and move toward him, but I'm tethered, held back by some unseen force around my wrist, holding me . Let me go.

"Come, eat," he says, smiling his delicious crooked smile.

I pull and pull... let me go! I want to scream and shout, but no sound emerges. I am mute. He stretches a little further, and the strawberry is at my lips.

"Eat, Anastasia." His mouth forms my name, lingering sensually on each syllable.

I open my mouth and bite, the cage disappears, and my hands are free. I reach up to touch him, graze my fingers through his chest hair.


No. I moan.

"Come on, baby."

No. I want to touch you.

"Wake up."

No. Please. My eyes flicker unwillingly open for a split second. I'm in bed and someone is nuzzling my ear.

"Wake up, baby," he whispers, and the effect of his sweet voice spreads like warm melted caramel through my veins.

It's Christian. Jeez, it's still dark, and the images of him from my dream persists, disconcerting and tantalizing in my head.

"Oh... no," I groan. I want back at his chest, back to my dream. Why is he waking me?

It's the middle of the night, or so it feels . Holy shit. Does he want sex - now?

"Time to get up, baby. I'm going to switch on the sidelight." His voice is quiet.

"No," I groan.

"I want to chase the dawn with you," he says, kissing my face, my eyelids, the tip of my nose, my mouth, and I open my eyes. The sidelight is on. "Good morning, beautiful,"

he murmurs.

I groan, and he smiles.

"You are not a morning person," he murmurs.

Through the haze of light, I squint and see Christian leaning over me, smiling. Amused.

Amused at me. Dressed! In black.

"I thought you wanted sex," I grumble.

"Anastasia, I always want sex with you. It's heartwarming to know that you feel the same," he says dryly.

I gaze at him as my eyes adjust to the light, but he still looks amused... thank heavens.

"Of course I do, just not when it's so late."

"It's not late, it's early. Come on - up you go. We're going out. I'll take a rain check on the sex."

"I was having such a nice dream," I whine.

"Dream about what?" he asks patiently.

"You." I blush.

"What was I doing this time?"

"Trying to feed me strawberries."

His lips twitch with a trace of a smile.

"Dr. Flynn could have a field day with that. Up - get dressed. Don't bother to shower, we can do that later."


I sit up, and the sheet pools at my waist, revealing my body. He stands to give me room, his eyes dark.

"What time is it?"

"5:30 in the morning."

"Feels like 3:00 a.m."

"We don't have much time. I let you sleep as long as possible. Come."

"Can't I have a shower?"

He sighs.

"If you have a shower, I'll want one with you, and you and I know what will happen then - the day will just go. Come."

He's excited. Like a small boy, he's iridescent with anticipation and excitement. It makes me smile.

"What are we doing?'

"It's a surprise. I told you."

I can't help but grin up at him.

"Okay." I clamber off the bed and search for my clothes. Of course they are neatly folded on the chair beside my bed. He's laid out a pair of his jersey boxer briefs too, Ralph Lauren, no less. I slip them on, and he grins at me. Hmm, another piece of Christian Grey's underwear - a trophy to add to my collection - along with the car, the BlackBerry, the Mac, his black jacket, and a set of old valuable first editions. I shake my head at his lar-gesse, and I frown as a scene from Tess crosses my mind: the strawberry scene. It evokes my dream. To hell with Dr. Flynn - Freud would have a field day - and then he'd probably expire trying to deal with Fifty Shades.

"I'll give you some room now that you're up." Christian exits toward the living area, and I wander into the bathroom. I have needs to attend to, and I want a quick wash. Seven minutes later, I am in the living area, scrubbed, brushed and dressed in jeans, my camisole, and Christian Grey's underwear. Christian glances up from the small dining table where he's eating breakfast. Breakfast! Jeez, at this time.

"Eat," he says.

Holy Moses... my dream. I gape at him, thinking about his tongue on his palate. Hmm, his expert tongue.

"Anastasia," he says sternly, pulling me out of my reverie.

It really is too early for me. How to handle this?

"I'll have some tea. Can I take a croissant for later?"

He eyes me suspiciously, and I smile very sweetly.

"Don't rain on my parade, Anastasia," he warns softly.

"I will eat later when my stomach's woken up. About 7:30 a.m.... okay?"

"Okay." He peers down at me.

Honestly. I have to concentrate hard on not making a face at him.

"I want to roll my eyes at you."

"By all means, do, and you will make my day," he says sternly.

I gaze up at the ceiling.

"Well a spanking would wake me up, I suppose." I purse my lips in quiet contempla-tion.

Christian's mouth drops open.

"On the other hand, I don't want you to be all hot and bothered, the climate here is warm enough." I shrug nonchalantly.

Christian closes his mouth and tries very hard to look displeased, but fails hopelessly.

I can see the humor lurking in the back of his eyes.

"You are, as ever, challenging, Miss Steele. Drink your tea."

I notice the Twinings label, and inside, my heart sings. See, he does care, my subconscious mouths at me. I sit and face him, drinking in his beauty. Will I ever get enough of this man?

As we leave the room, Christian throws a sweatshirt at me.

"You'll need this."

I look at him, puzzled.

"Trust me." He grins, leans over and kisses me quickly on the lips, then grabs my hand and we head out.

Outside, in the relative cool of the half-light of pre-dawn, the valet hands Christian a set of keys to a flash sports car with a soft top. I raise an eyebrow at Christian, who smirks back at me.

"You know, sometimes it's great being me," he says with a conspiratorial but smug grin that I simply can't help emulating. He's so lovable when he's playful and carefree. He opens my car door with an exaggerated bow, and in I climb. He is in such a good mood.

"Where are we going?"

"You'll see." He grins as he slips the car into drive, and we head out on Savannah Parkway. He programs the GPS and presses a switch on the steering wheel and a classical orchestral piece fills the car.

"What's this?" I ask as the sweet, sweet sound of a hundred violin strings assails us.

"It's from La Traviata. An opera by Verdi."

Oh, my... it's lovely.

"La TraviataI've headr of that. I can't think where. What does it mean?"

Christian glances at me and smirks.

"Well, literally, the woman led astray. It's based on Alexander Dumas's book, La Dame aux Camelias."

"Ah. I've read it."

"I thought you might."

"The doomed courtesan." I squirm uncomfortably in the plush leather seat. Is he trying to tell me something"Hmm, it's a depressing story," I mutter.

"Too depressingDo you want to choose some musicThis is on my iPod." Christian has that secret smile again.

I can't see his iPod anywhere. He taps the screen on the console between us, and behold - there is a play list.

"You choose." His lips twitch up into a smile, and I know it's a challenge.

Christian Grey's iPod, this should be interesting. I scroll through the touch screen, and find the perfect song. I press play. I wouldn't have figured him for a Britney fan. The club-mix, techno beat assaults us both, and Christian turns the volume down. Maybe it's too early for this: Britney's at her most sultry.

"Toxic, eh?" Christian grins.

"I don't know what you mean." I feign innocence.

He turns the music down a little more, and inside I am hugging myself. My inner goddess is standing on the podium awaiting her gold medal. He turned the music down.


"I didn't put that song on my iPod," he says casually, and puts his foot down so that I am thrown back into my seat as the car accelerates along the freeway.

What He knows what he's doing, the bastard. Who did And I have to listen to Britney going on and on. Who... who?

The song ends and the iPod shuffles to Damien Rice being mournful. WhoWho I stare out of the window, my stomach churning. Who?

"It was Leila," he answers my unspoken thoughts. How does he do that?


"An ex, who put the song on my iPod."

Damien warbles away in the background as I sit stunned. An ex... ex-submissiveAn ex - "One of the fifteen?" I ask.


"What happened to her?"

"We finished."


Oh jeez. It's too early for this kind of conversation. But he looks relaxed, happy even, and what's more, talkative.

"She wanted more." His voice is low, introspective even, and he leaves the sentence hanging between us, ending it with that powerful little word again.

"And you didn't?" I ask before I can employ my brain to mouth filter. Shit, do I want to know?

He shakes his head.

"I've never wanted more, until I met you."

I gasp, reeling. Oh my. Isn't this what I wantHe wants more. He wants it, too! My inner goddess has back flipped off the podium and is doing cartwheels around the stadium.

It's not just me.

"What happened to the other fourteen?" I ask.

Jeez he's talking - take advantage.

"You want a listDivorced, beheaded, died?"

"You're not Henry VIII."

"Okay. In no particular order, I've only had long term relationships with four women, apart from Elena."


"Mrs. Robinson to you." He half smiles his secret private joke smile.

Elena! Holy Fuck. The evil one has a name and its all-foreign sounding. A vision of a glorious, pale-skinned vamp with raven hair and ruby-red lips comes to mind, and I know that she's beautiful. I must not dwell. I must not dwell.

"What happened to the four?" I ask to distract myself.

"So inquisitive, so eager for information, Miss Steele," he scolds playfully.

"Oh, Mr. When Is Your Period Due?"

"Anastasia - a man needs to know these things."

"Does he?"

"I do."


"Because I don't want you to get pregnant."

"Neither do I! Well, not for a few years yet."

Christian blinks startled, then visibly relaxes. Okay. Christian doesn't want children.

Now or neverI am reeling from his sudden, unprecedented attack of candor. Perhaps it's the early morningSomething in the Georgia waterThe Georgia airWhat else do I want to knowCarpe Diem.

"So the other four, what happened?" I ask.

"One met someone else. The other three wanted - more. I wasn't in the market for more then."

"And the others?" I press.

He glances at me briefly and just shakes his head.

"Just didn't work out."

Whoa, a bucket-load of information to process. I glance in the side mirror of the car, and I notice the soft swell of pink and aquamarine in the sky behind. Dawn is following us.

"Where are we headed?" I ask, perplexed, gazing out at the I-95. We're heading south, that's all I know.

"An airfield."

"We're not going back to Seattle are we?" I gasp, alarmed. I haven't said goodbye to my mom. Jeez, she's expecting us for dinner.

He laughs.

"No, Anastasia, we're going to indulge in my second favorite pastime."

"Second?" I frown at him.

"Yep. I told you my favorite this morning."

I glance at his glorious profile, frowning, racking my brain.

"Indulging in you, Miss Steele, that's got to be top of my list. Any way I can get you."


"Well that's quite high up on my list of diverting, kinky priorities too." I mutter, blushing."I'm pleased to hear it," he mutters dryly.

"So, airfield?"

He grins at me.


The term rings a vague bell. He's mentioned it before.

"We're going to chase the dawn, Anastasia." He turns and grins at me as the GPS urges him to turn right into what looks like an industrial complex. He pulls up outside a large white building with a sign reading Brunswick Soaring Association.

Gliding! We're going gliding?

He switches off the engine.

"You up for this?" he asks.

"You're flying?"


"Yes, please!" I don't hesitate. He grins and leans forward and kisses me.

"Another first, Miss Steele," he says as he climbs out of the car.

FirstWhat sort of firstFirst time flying a glider... shit! No - he said that he's done it before. I relax. He walks round and opens my door. The sky has turned to a subtle opal, shimmering and glowing softly behind the sporadic childlike clouds. Dawn is upon us.

Taking my hand, Christian leads me round the building to a large stretch of tarmac where several planes are parked. Waiting beside them is a man with a shaved head and a wild look in his eye, accompanied by Taylor.

Taylor! Does Christian go any where without that manI beam at him, and he smiles kindly back at me.

"Mr. Grey, this is your tow-pilot, Mr. Mark Benson," says Taylor. Christian and Benson shake hands and strike up a conversation, which sounds very technical about wind speed, directions, and the like.

"Hello, Taylor," I murmur shyly.

"Miss Steele." He nods a greeting at me, and I frown. "Ana," he corrects himself.

"He's been hell on wheels the last few days. Glad we're here," he says conspiratorially.

Oh, this is news - WhySurely not because of me! Revelation Thursday! Must be something in the Savannah water that makes these men loosen up a bit.

"Anastasia," Christian summons me. "Come." He holds out his hand.

"See you later." I smile at Taylor, and giving me a quick salute, he heads back to the parking lot.

"Mr. Benson, this is my girlfriend Anastasia Steele."

"Pleased to meet you," I murmur as we shake hands.

Benson gives me a dazzling smile.

"Likewise," he says, and I can tell from his accent that he's British.

As I take Christian's hand, there's a mounting excitement in my belly. Wow... gliding! We follow Mark Benson out across the tarmac towards the runway. He and Christian keep up a running conversation. I catch the gist. We will be in a Blanik L-23, which is apparently better than the L-13, although this is open to debate. Benson will be flying a Piper Pawnee. He's been flying tail draggers for about five years now. It all means nothing to me, but glancing up at Christian, he is so animated, so in his element, it's a pleasure to watch him.

The plane itself is long, sleek, and white with orange stripes. It has a small cockpit with two seats one in front of the other. It's attached by a long white cable to a small, conventional single-propeller plane. Benson opens the large, clear Perspex dome that frames the cockpit, allowing us to climb in.

"First we need to strap on your parachute."


"I'll do that," Christian interrupts him and takes the harness off Benson, who smiles amenably at him.

"I'll fetch some ballast," Benson says and heads toward the plane.

"You like strapping me into things." I observe dryly.

"Miss Steele, you have no idea. Here, step into the straps."

I do as I'm told, placing my arm on his shoulder. Christian stiffens slightly but doesn't move. Once my feet are in the loops, he pulls the parachute up, and I place my arms through the shoulder straps. Deftly he fastens the harness and tightens all the straps.

"There, you'll do," he says mildly, but his eyes are gleaming. "Do you have your hair tie from yesterday?"

I nod.

"You want me to put my hair up?"


I quickly do as I'm asked.

"In you go," Christian commands. He's still so bossy. I go to climb into the back.

"No, front. Pilot sits at the back."

"But won't you be able to see."

"I'll see plenty." He grins.

I don't think I have ever seen him so happy, bossy, but happy. I clamber in, settling down into the leather seat. It is surprisingly comfortable. Christian leans over, pulls the harness over my shoulders, reaches between my legs for the lower belt, and slots it into the fastener that rests against my belly. He tightens all the restraining straps.

"Hmm, twice in one morning, I am a lucky man," he whispers and kisses me quickly.

"This won't take long - twenty, thirty minutes at most. Thermals aren't great this time of the morning, but it's so breathtaking up there at this hour. I hope you're not nervous."

"Excited." I beam.

Where did this ridiculous grin come fromActually, part of me is terrified. My inner goddess - she's under a blanket behind the sofa.

"Good." He grins back, stroking my face, then disappears from view.

I hear and feel his movements as he climbs in behind me. Of course he's strapped me in so tightly I can't move round to see him... typical! We are very low on the ground. In front of me is a panel of dials and levers and a big stick thing. I leave well alone.

Mark Benson appears with a cheerful grin as he checks my straps and leans in and checks the cockpit floor. I think it's the ballast.

"Yep, that's secure. First time?" he asks me.


"You'll love it."

"Thanks, Mr. Benson."

"Call me Mark." He turns to Christian. "Okay?"

"Yep. Let's go."

I am so glad I haven't eaten anything. I am beyond excited, and I don't think my stomach would be game for food, excitement, and leaving the ground. Once again, I am putting myself into this beautiful man's skilled hands. Mark shuts the cockpit lid, strolls over to the plane in front, and climbs in.

The Piper's single propeller starts, and my nervous stomach relocates itself to my throat. Jeez... I'm really doing this. Mark taxis slowly down the runway, and as the cable takes the strain, we suddenly jolt forward. We're off. I hear chatter over the radio set behind me. I think it's Mark talking to the tower - but I can't make out what he's saying.

As the Piper picks up speed, so do we. It's very bumpy, and in front of us, the single prop plane is still on the ground. Jeez, will we ever get upAnd suddenly, my stomach disappears from my throat and free-falls through my body to the ground - we're airborne.

"Here we go, baby!" Christian shouts from behind me. And we are in our own bubble, just us two. All I hear is the sound of the wind ripping past and the distant hum of the Piper's engine.

I'm gripping the edge of my seat with both hands, so tightly my knuckles are white.

We head west, inland away from the rising sun, gaining height, crossing over fields and woods and homes and I-95. Oh my. This is amazing, above us only sky. The light is extraordinary, diffuse and warm in hue, and I remember Jose rambling on about 'magic hour', a time of day that photographers adore - this is it... just after dawn, and I'm in it, with Christian.

Abruptly, I'm reminded of Jose's show. Hmm. I need to tell Christian. I wonder briefly how he'll react. But I won't worry about that, not now - I'm enjoying the ride. My ears pop as we gain height, and the ground slips further and further away. It is so peaceful.

I completely get why he likes to be up here. Away from his BlackBerry and all the pressures of his job.

The radio crackles into life, and Mark mentions 3,000 feet. Jeez, that sounds high,. I check the ground, and I can no longer clearly distinguish anything down there.

"Release," Christian says into the radio, and suddenly the Piper disappears, and the pulling sensation provided by the small plane ceases. We're floating, floating over Georgia.

Holy f**k - it's exciting. The plane banks and turns as the wing dips, and we spiral toward the sun. Icarus. This is it. I am flying close to the sun, but he's with me, leading me. I gasp at the realization. We spiral and spiral and, the view in this morning light is spectacular.

"Hold on tight!" he shouts, and we dip again - only this time he doesn't stop. suddenly, I am upside down, looking at the ground through the top of the cockpit canopy.

I squeal loudly, my arms automatically lashing out, my hands splayed on the Perspex to stop me falling. I can hear him laughing. Bastard! But his joy is infectious, and I am laughing too as he rights the plane.

"I'm glad I didn't have breakfast!" I shout at him.

"Yes, in hindsight, it's good you didn't, because I'm going to do that again."

He dips the plane once more until we are upside down. This time, because I'm prepared, I hang on to the harness, but it makes me grin and giggle like a fool. He levels the plane once more.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" he calls.


We fly, swooping majestically through the air, listening to the wind and the silence, in the early morning light. Who could ask for more?

"See the joy-stick in front of you?" he shouts again.

I look at the stick that is moving slightly between my legs. Oh no, where's he going with this?

"Grab hold ."

Oh shit. He's going to make me fly the plane. No!

"Go on, Anastasia. Grab it," he urges more vehemently.

Tentatively, I grasp it and feel the pitch and yaw of what I assume are rudders and paddles or whatever keeps this thing in the air.

"Hold tight... keep it steady. See the middle dial in frontKeep the needle dead center."My heart is in my mouth. Holy shit. I am flying a glider... I'm soaring.

"Good girl." Christian sounds delighted.

"I am amazed you let me take control," I shout.

"You'd be amazed what I'd let you do, Miss Steele. Back to me now."

I feel the joystick move suddenly, and I let go as we spiral down several feet, my ears starting to pop again. The ground is getting closer, and it feels like we could be hitting it shortly. Jeez, that's scary.

"BMA, this is BG N Papa 3 Alpha, entering left downwind runway seven to the grass, BMA." Christian sounds his usual authoritative self. The tower squawks back at him over the radio, but I don't understand what they say. We sail round again in a wide circle, sinking slowly to the ground. I can see the airport, the landing strips, and we're flying back over I-95.

"Hang on, baby. This can get bumpy."

After another circle we dip, and suddenly we are on the ground with a brief thump, racing along the grass - holy shit. My teeth chatter as we bump at an alarming speed along the ground, until we finally come to a stop. The plane sways slightly then dips to the right.

I take a deep lungful of air while Christian leans over and opens the cockpit lid, clambering out and stretching.

"How was that?" he asks, and his eyes are a shining, dazzling silver gray. He leans down to unbuckle me.

"That was extraordinary. Thank you," I whisper.

"Was it more?" he asks, his voice tinged with hope.

"Much more," I breathe, and he grins.

"Come." He holds out his hand for me, and I clamber out of the cockpit.

As soon as I'm out, he grabs me and holds me flush against his body. Suddenly his hand is in my hair, tugging it so my head tips back, and his other hand travels down to the base of my spine. He kisses me, long, hard, and passionately, his tongue in my mouth.

His breathing is mounting, his ardor ... Holy cow - his erection... we're in a field. But I don't care. My hands twist in his hair, anchoring him to me. I want him, here, now, on the ground. He breaks away and gazes down at me, his eyes now dark and luminous in the early morning light, full of raw, arrogant sensuality. Wow. He takes my breath away.

"Breakfast," he whispers, making it sound deliciously erotic.

How can he make bacon and eggs sound like forbidden fruitIt's an extraordinary skill. He turns, clasping my hand, and we head back toward the car.

"What about the glider?"

"Someone will take care of that?", he says dismissively. "We'll eat now." His tone is unequivocal.

Food! He's talking food, when really all I want is him.

"Come." He smiles.

I have never seen him like this, and it's a joy to behold. I find myself walking beside him, hand in hand, with a stupid, goofy grin plastered on my face. It reminds me of when I was ten and spending the day in Disneyland with Ray. It was a perfect day, and this is sure shaping out to be the same.

Back in the car, as we head back along I-95 towards Savannah, my phone alarm goes off. Oh yes... my pill.

"What's that?" Christian asks, curious, glancing at me.

I fumble in my purse for the packet.

"Alarm for my pill," I mutter as my cheeks flush.

His lips quirk up.

"Good, well done. I hate condoms."

I flush some more. He's as patronizing as ever.

"I like that you introduced me to Mark as your girlfriend," I murmur.

"Isn't that what you are?" He raises an eyebrow.

"Am II thought you wanted a submissive."

"So did I, Anastasia, and I do. But I've told you, I want more, too."

Oh my. He's coming round, and hope surges through me, leaving me breathless.

"I'm very happy that you want more," I whisper.

"We aim to please, Miss Steele." He smirks as we pull into the International House of Pancakes.

"IHOP." I grin back at him. I don't believe it. Who would have thought... Christian Grey at IHOP.

It's 8:30 a.m. but quiet in the restaurant. It smells of sweet batter, fried food, and disinfec-tant. Hmm... not such an enticing aroma. Christian leads me to a booth.

"I would never have pictured you here," I say as we slide into a booth.

"My dad used to bring us to one of these whenever my mom went away at a medical conference. It was our secret." He smiles at me, gray eyes dancing, then picks up a menu, running a hand through his wayward hair as he stares down at it.

Oh, I want to run my hands through that hair. I pick up a menu and examine it. I realize I'm starving.

"I know what I want," he breathes, his voice low and husky.

I glance up at him, and he's staring at me in that way that tightens all the muscles in my belly and takes my breath away, his eyes dark and smoldering. Holy shit. I gaze at him, my blood singing in my veins answering his call.

"I want what you want," I whisper.

He inhales sharply.

"Here?" he asks suggestively, raising an eyebrow at me, smiling wickedly, his teeth trapping the tip of his tongue.

Oh my... sex in IHOP. His expression changes, growing darker.

"Don't bite your lip," he orders. "Not here, not now." His eyes harden momentarily, and for a moment, he looks so deliciously dangerous. "If I can't have you here, don't tempt me.""Hi, My name's Leandra, What can I get for you... er... folks... er... today, this mornin... ?" Her voice trails off, stumbling over her words as she gets an eye full of Mr.

Beautiful opposite me. She flushes scarlet, and a small ounce of sympathy for her bubbles unwelcome into my consciousness because he still does that to me. Her presence allows me to escape briefly from his sensual glare.

"Anastasia?" he prompts me, ignoring her, and I don't think anyone could squeeze as much carnality into my name as he does at that moment.

I swallow, praying that I don't go the same color as poor Leandra.

"I told you, I want what you want." I keep my voice soft, low, and he looks at me hun-grily. Jeez, my inner goddess swoons. Am I up to this game?

Leandra looks from me to him and back again. She's practically the same color as her shiny red hair.

"Shall I give you folks another minute to decide?"

"No. We know what we want." Christian's mouth twitches with a small, sexy smile.

"We'll have two portions of the original buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup and bacon on the side, two glasses of orange juice, one black coffee with skim milk, and one English breakfast tea, if you have it," says Christian, not taking his eyes off me.

"Thank you sir. Will that be all?" Leandra whispers, looking anywhere but at the two of us. We both turn to stare at her, and she flushes crimson again and scuttles away.

"You know it's really not fair." I glance down at the Formica tabletop, tracing a pattern in it with my index finger, trying to sound nonchalant.

"What's not fair?"

"How you disarm people. Women. Me."

"Do I disarm you?"

I snort.

"All the time."

"It's just looks, Anastasia," he says mildly.

"No, Christian, it's much more than that."

His brow creases.

"You disarm me totally, Miss Steele. Your innocence. It cuts through all the crap."

"Is that why you've changed your mind?"

"Changed my mind?"

"Yes - about ... err... us?"

He strokes his chin thoughtfully with his long, skilled fingers.

"I don't think I've changed my mind per se. We just need to re-define our parameters, re-draw our battle lines, if you will. We can make this work, I'm sure. I want you submissive in my playroom. I will punish you if you digress from the rules. Other than that...

well, I think it's all up for discussion. Those are my requirements, Miss Steele. What say you to that?"

"So I get to sleep with youIn your bed?"

"Is that what you want?"


"I agree then. Besides, I sleep very well when you're in my bed. I had no idea." His brow creases as his voice fades.

"I was frightened you'd leave me if I didn't agree to all of it," I whisper.

"I'm not going anywhere, Anastasia. Besides... " He trails off, and after some thought, he adds. "We're following your advice, your definition: compromise. You emailed it to me. And so far, it's working for me."

"I love that you want more," I murmur shyly.

"I know."

"How do you know?"

"Trust me. I just do." He smirks at me. He's hiding something. What?

At that moment, Leandra arrives with breakfast and our conversation ceases. My stomach rumbles, reminding me how ravenous I am. Christian watches with annoying approval as I devour everything on my plate.

"Can I treat you?" I ask Christian.

"Treat me how?"

"Pay for this meal."

Christian snorts.

"I don't think so." he scoffs.

"Please. I want to."

He frowns at me.

"Are you trying to completely emasculate me?"

"This is probably the only place that I'll be able to afford to pay."

"Anastasia, I appreciate the thought. I do. But no."

I purse my lips.

"Don't scowl," he threatens, his eyes glinting ominously.

Of course he doesn't ask me for my mother's address. He knows it already, stalker that he is. When he pulls up outside the house, I don't comment. What's the point?

"Do you want to come in?" I ask shyly.

"I need to work, Anastasia, but I'll be back this evening. What time?"

I ignore the unwelcome stab of disappointment. Why do I want to spend every single minute with this controlling sex godOh yes, I've fallen in love with him, and he can fly.

"Thank you... for the more."

"My pleasure, Anastasia." He kisses me, and I inhale his sexy Christian smell.

"I'll see you later."

"Try and stop me," he whispers.

I wave goodbye as he drives off into the Georgia sunshine. I'm still wearing his sweatshirt and his underwear, and I'm too warm.

In the kitchen, my mom is in a complete flap. It's not every day she has to entertain a multi-zillionaire, and it's stressing her out.

"How are you, darling?" she asks, and I flush because she must know what I was doing last night.

"I'm good. Christian took me gliding this morning." I hope the new information will distract her.

"GlidingAs in a small plane with no engineThat sort of gliding?"

I nod.


She's speechless - a novel concept for my mother. She gapes at me, but eventually recovers herself and resumes her original line of questioning.

"How was last nightDid you talk?"

Jeez. I flush bright scarlet.

"We talked - last night and today. It's getting better."

"Good." She turns her attention back to the four cookery books she has open on the kitchen table.

"Mom... if you like, I'll cook this evening."

"Oh, honey, that's kind of you, but I want to do it."

"Okay." I grimace, knowing full well that my mother's cooking is pretty hit or miss.

Perhaps she's improved since she moved to Savannah with Bob. There was a time I wouldn't subject anyone to her cooking... even - who do I hateOh yes - Mrs. Robinson

- Elena. Well, maybe her. Will I ever meet this damned woman?

I decide to send a quick thank-you to Christian.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Soaring as opposed to sore-ing

Date: June 2 2011 10:20 EST

To: Christian Grey

Sometimes, you really know how to show a girl a good time.

Thank you

Ana x

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Soaring vs sore-ing

Date: June 2 2011 10:24 EST

To: Anastasia Steele

I'll take either of those over your snoring. I had a good time too.

But I always do when I'm with you.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: SNORING

Date: June 2 2011 10:26 EST

To: Christian Grey

I DO NOT SNORE. And if I do, it's very ungallant of you to point it out.

You are no gentleman Mr. Grey! And you are in the Deep South too!


From: Christian Grey

Subject: Somniloquy

Date: June 2 2011 10:28 EST

To: Anastasia Steele

I have never claimed to be a gentleman, Anastasia, and I think I have demonstrated that point to you on numerous occasions. I am not intimidated by your SHOUTY capitals. But I will confess to a small white lie: No - you don't snore, but you do talk. And it's fascinating.

What happened to my kiss?

Christian Grey

Cad & CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

Holy shit. I know I talk in my sleep. Kate has told me enough times. What the hell have I saidOh no.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Spill the Beans

Date: June 2 2011 10:32 EST

To: Christian Grey

You are a cad and a scoundrel - definitely no gentleman.

So, what did I sayNo kisses for you until you talk!

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Sleeping talking Beauty

Date: June 2 2011 10:35 EST

To: Anastasia Steele

It would be most ungallant of me to say, and I have already been chastised for that.

But if you behave yourself, I may tell you this evening. I do have to go into a meeting now.

Laters, baby.

Christian Grey

CEO, Cad & Scoundrel, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

Right! I shall maintain radio silence until this evening. I fume. Jeez. Supposing I've said I hate him, or worse still, that I love him, in my sleep. Oh, I hope not. I am not ready to tell him that, and I'm sure he's not ready to hear it, if he ever wants to hear it. I scowl at my computer and decide that whatever I cook, I will make bread.

My mom has decided on gazpacho soup and a barbecue with steaks marinated in olive oil, garlic, and lemon. Christian likes meat, and it's simple to do. Bob has volunteered to man the BBQ grill. What is it about men and fire, I ponder as I trail after my mother through the supermarket with the shopping cart?

As we browse the raw meat cabinet, my phone rings. I scramble for it, thinking it may be Christian. I don't recognize the number.

"Hello?" I answer breathlessly.

"Anastasia Steele?"


"It's Elizabeth Morgan from SIP."

"Oh - hi."

"I'm calling to offer you the job of assistant to Mr. Jack Hyde. We'd like you to start on Monday."

"Wow. That's great. Thank you!"

"You know the salary details?"

"Yes. Yes... that's - I mean, I accept your offer. I'd love to come and work for you."

"Excellent. We'll see you Monday at 8:30 a.m.?"

"See you then. Goodbye. And thank you."

I beam at my mom.

"You have a job?"

I nod gleefully, and she squeals and hugs me in the middle of Publix supermarket.

"Congratulations, darling! We have to buy some champagne!" She's clapping her hands and jumping up and down. Is she forty-two or twelve?

I glance down at my phone and frown, there's a missed call from Christian. He never phones me. I call him straight back.

"Anastasia," he answers immediately.

"Hi," I murmur shyly.

"I have to return to Seattle. Something's come up. I am on my way to Hilton Head now. Please apologize to your mother - I can't make dinner." He sounds very businesslike.

"Nothing serious, I hope?"

"I have a situation which I have to deal with. I'll see you Friday. I'll send Taylor to collect you from the airport if I can't come myself." He sounds cold. Angry even. But for the first time, I don't immediately think it's me.

"Okay. I hope you sort out your situation. Have a safe flight."

"You too, baby," he breathes, and with those words, my Christian is back briefly. Then he hangs up.

Oh no. The last 'situation' he had was my virginity . Jeez, I hope it's nothing like that.

I gaze at my mom. Her earlier jubilation has metamorphosed into concern.

"It's Christian, he's had to go back to Seattle. He apologizes."

"Oh! That's a shame, darling. We can still have our barbecue, and now we have something to celebrate - your new job! You have to tell me all about it."

It's late afternoon, and Mom and I are lying beside the pool. My mother has relaxed to the point where she is literally horizontal now that Mr. Megabucks is not coming to dinner. As I lie in the sun, endeavoring to lose the pale, I think about yesterday evening and breakfast today. I think about Christian, and my ridiculous grin refuses to subside. It keeps creeping across my face, unbidden and disconcerting, as I recall our various conversations and what we did... what he did.

There seems to be tidal shift in Christian's attitude. He denies it but - he admits he's trying for more. What could have changedWhat has altered since he sent his long email and when I saw him yesterdayWhat has he doneI sit up suddenly, almost spilling my Dr. Pepper. He had dinner with... her. Elena.

Holy Fuck!

My scalp prickles at the realization. Did she say something to himOh... to have been a fly on the wall during their dinner. I could have landed in her soup or on her wine glass and choked her.

"What is it, Ana, honey?" Mom asks, startled from her torpor.

"I'm just having a moment, Mom. What time is it?"

"About 6:30 p.m., darling."

Hmm... he won't have landed yet. Can I ask himShould I ask himOr perhaps she has nothing to do with it. I fervently hope so. What did I say in my sleep Crap... some unguarded remark while dreaming about him, I betWhatever it is, or was, I hope the sea of change is coming from within him and not because of her.

I am sweltering in this damned heat. I need another dip in the pool.

As I get ready for bed, I switch on my computer. I have heard nothing from Christian.

Not even a word that he's arrived safely.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Safe Arrival?

Date: June 2 2011 22:32 EST

To: Christian Grey

Dear Sir

Please let me know that you have arrived safely. I am starting to worry. Thinking of you.

Your Ana. x

Three minutes later, I hear the ping from my email in-box.

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Sorry

Date: June 2 2011 19:36

To: Anastasia Steele

Dear Miss Steele

I have arrived safely, and please accept my apologies for not letting you know. I don't want to cause you any worry, it's heart warming to know that you care for me. I am thinking of you too and as ever looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

I sigh, Christian is back to formality.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: The Situation

Date: June 2 2011 22:40 EST

To: Christian Grey

Dear Mr. Grey

I think it is very evident that I care for you deeply. How could you doubt that?

I hope your 'situation' is in hand.

Your Ana x

PS: Are you going to tell me what I said in my sleep?

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Pleading the Fifth

Date: June 2 2011 19:45

To: Anastasia Steele

Dear Miss Steele

I like very much that you care for me. The 'situation' here is not yet resolved.

With regard to your PS: The answer is - No.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Pleading Insanity

Date: June 2 2011 22:48 EST

To: Christian Grey

I hope it was amusing. But you should know I cannot accept any responsibility for what comes out of my mouth when I am unconscious. In fact - you probably misheard me.

A man of your advanced years is surely a little deaf.

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Pleading Guilty

Date: June 2 2011 19:52

To: Anastasia Steele

Dear Miss Steele

Sorry, could you speak upI can't hear you.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Pleading Insanity Again

Date: June 2 2011 22:54 EST

To: Christian Grey

You are driving me crazy.

From: Christian Grey

Subject: I hope so...

Date: June 2 2011 19:59

To: Anastasia Steele

Dear Miss Steele

I intend to do exactly that on Friday evening. Looking forward to it


Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Grrrrrr

Date: June 2 2011 23:02 EST

To: Christian Grey

I am officially pissed at you.


Miss A. R. Steele

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Wild Cat

Date: June 2 2011 20:05

To: Anastasia Steele

Are you growling at me Miss Steele?

I possess a cat of my own for growlers.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

Cat of his ownI've never seen a cat in his apartment. No, I am not going to answer him.

Oh, he can be so exasperating sometimes. Fifty shades of exasperating. I clamber into bed and lie glaring at the ceiling as my eyes adjust to the dark. I hear another ping from my computer. I am not going to look. No definitely not. No, I am not going to look. Gah!

Like the fool I am, I cannot resist the lure of Christian Grey's words.

From: Christian Grey

Subject: What you said in your sleep

Date: June 2 2011 20:20

To: Anastasia Steele


I'd rather hear you say the words that you uttered in your sleep when you're conscious, that's why I won't tell you. Go to sleep. You'll need to be rested with what I have in mind for you tomorrow.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

Oh no... What have I saidIt's as bad as I think, I'm sure.

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