Fifty Shades of Grey

Chapter 25

Chapter Twenty-Five

My mother hugs me tightly.

"Follow your heart, darling, and please, please - try not to over-think things. Relax and enjoy yourself. You are so young, sweetheart. You have so much of life to experience yet, just let it happen. You deserve the best of everything." Her heartfelt words are comforting whispered in my ear. She kisses my hair.

"Oh, Mom." Hot, unwelcome tears prick my eyes as I cling to her.

"Darling, you know what they say. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince."

I give her a lopsided, bittersweet smile.

"I think I've kissed a prince, Mom. I hope he doesn't turn into a frog."

She gives me her most endearing-motherly-absolute-unconditional-love smile, and I marvel at the love I feel for this woman as we hug again.

"Ana - they're calling your flight," Bob's voice is anxious.

"Will you visit, Mom?"

"Of course darling - soon. Love you."

"Me too."

Her eyes are red with unshed tears as she releases me. I hate leaving her. I hug Bob, and turning, head to the gate - I do not have time for the first class lounge today. I will myself not to glance back. But I do... and Bob is holding my mom, and tears are streaming

down her face. I can no longer hold mine back. I put my head down and proceed to the gate, keeping my eyes on the shiny, white floor, blurred through my watery tears.

Once on board, in the luxury of first class, I curl up in my seat and try to compose myself. It is always painful to wrench myself away from Mom... she is scatty, disorganized, but newly insightful, and she loves me. Unconditional love - what every child deserves from its parents. I frown at my wayward thoughts, and pulling out my BlackBerry, stare at it despondently.

What does Christian know of loveSeems he didn't get the unconditional love he was entitled to during his very early years. My heart twists, and my mother's words waft like a zephyr through my mind: Yes, Ana. Hell - what do you need - a neon sign flashing on his forehead She thinks Christian loves me, but then she's my mother, of course she'd think that. She thinks I deserve the best of everything. I frown. It's true, and in a moment of startling clarity, I see it. It's very simple: I want his love. I need Christian Grey to love me.

This is why I am so reticent about our relationship - because on some basic, fundamental level, I recognize within me a deep-seated compulsion to be loved and cherished.

And because of his fifty shades - I am holding myself back. The BDSM is a distraction from the real issue. The sex is amazing, he's wealthy, he's beautiful, but this is all meaningless without his love, and the real heart-fail is that I don't know if he's capable of love. He doesn't even love himself. I recall his self-loathing, her love being the only form he found - acceptable. Punished - whipped, beaten, whatever their relationship entailed -

he feels undeserving of love. Why does he feel like thatHow can he feel like thatHis words haunt me: 'It's very hard to grow up in a perfect family when you're not perfect.'

I close my eyes, imagining his pain, and I can't begin to comprehend it. I shudder as I remember that I may have divulged too much. What have I confessed to Christian in my sleepWhat secrets have I revealed?

I stare at the BlackBerry in the vague hope that it will give me some answers. Rather unsurprisingly, it is not very forthcoming. As we haven't taken off yet, I decide to email my Fifty Shades.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Homeward Bound

Date: June 3 2011 12:53 EST

To: Christian Grey

Dear Mr. Grey

I am once again ensconced in first class, for which I thank you. I am counting the minutes until I see you this evening, and perhaps torturing the truth out of you about my nocturnal admissions.

Your Ana x

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Homeward Bound

Date: June 3 2011 09:58

To: Anastasia Steele

Anastasia, I look forward to seeing you.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

His response makes me frown. It sounds clipped and formal, not his usual witty, pithy style.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Homeward Bound

Date: June 3 2011 13:01 EST

To: Christian Grey

Dearest Mr. Grey

I hope everything is okay re 'the situation.' The tone of your email is worrying.

Ana x

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Homeward Bound

Date: June 3 2011 10:04

To: Anastasia Steele


The situation could be better. Have you taken off yetIf so you should not be emailing.

You are putting yourself at risk, in direct contravention of the rule regarding your personal safety. I meant what I said about punishments.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

Crap. Okay. Jeez. What is eating himPerhaps 'the situation'Maybe Taylor's gone AWOL, maybe he's dropped a few million on the stock market - whatever the reason.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Over-Reaction

Date: June 3 2011 13:06 EST

To: Christian Grey

Dear Mr. Grumpy

The aircraft doors are still open. We are delayed but only by ten minutes. My welfare and that of the passengers around me is vouchsafed. You may stow your twitchy palm

for now.

Miss Steele

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Apologies - Twitchy Palm Stowed

Date: June 3 2011 10:08

To: Anastasia Steele

I miss you and your smart mouth Miss Steele.

I want you safely home.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Apology Accepted

Date: June 3 2011 13:10 EST

To: Christian Grey

They are shutting the doors. You won't hear another peep from me, especially given your deafness.


Ana x

I switch off the BlackBerry, unable to shake my anxiety. Something is up with Christian.

Perhaps 'the situation' is out of hand. I sit back, glancing up at the locker where my bags are stowed. I managed this morning, with my mother's help, to buy Christian a small gift to say thank you for first class and for the gliding. I smile at the memory of the soaring -

that was something else. I don't know yet if I'll give my silly gift to him. He might think it's childish - and if he's in a strange mood, maybe not. I am both eager to return and apprehensive of what awaits me at my journey's end. As I mentally flick through all the scenarios that could be 'the situation', I become aware that once again the only empty seat is beside me. I shake my head as the thought crosses my mind that Christian might have purchased the adjacent seat so that I couldn't talk to anyone. I dismiss the idea as ridiculous - no one could be that controlling, that jealous, surely. I close my eyes as the plane taxis towards the runway.

I emerge into the Sea-Tac arrivals terminal eight hours later to find Taylor waiting and holding up a board that reads Miss A Steele. Honestly! But it's good to see him.

"Hello, Taylor."

"Miss Steele," he greets me formally, but I see a hint of smile in his sharp brown eyes.

He looks his usual immaculate self - smart charcoal suit, white shirt, and charcoal tie.

"I do know what you look like Taylor, you don't need a board, and I do wish you'd call me, Ana."

"Ana. Can I take your bags, please?"

"No, I can manage. Thank you."

His lips tighten perceptibly.

"But, if you'd be more comfortable taking them," I stammer.

"Thank you." He grabs my backpack and my newly acquired wheelie case for the clothes my mother has bought me. "This way, ma'am."

I sigh. He's so polite. I remember, though I would like to erase it from my memory, that this man has bought me underwear. In fact - and the thought unsettles me - he's the only man who's ever bought me underwear. Even Ray's never had to endure that hardship.

We walk in silence to the black Audi SUV outside in the airport parking lot, and he holds the door open for me. I clamber in, wondering if wearing such a short skirt for the return to Seattle was a good idea. It was cool and welcome in Georgia. Here I feel exposed. Once Taylor has stowed my bags in the trunk, we set off for Escala.

The journey is slow, caught up in rush hour traffic. Taylor keeps his eyes on the road ahead. Taciturn does not begin to describe him.

I can bear the silence no longer.

"How's Christian, Taylor?"

"Mr. Grey is preoccupied, Miss Steele."

Oh, this must be 'the situation.' I am mining a seam of gold.


"Yes, ma'am."

I frown at Taylor, and he glances at me in the rear-view mirror, our eyes meet. He's saying no more. Jeez, he can be as tightlipped as the control freak himself.

"Is he okay?"

"I believe so, ma'am."

"Are you more comfortable calling me, Miss Steele?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Oh, okay."

Well, that curtails our conversation, and we continue in silence. I begin to think that Taylor's recent slip, when he told me that Christian had been hell on wheels, was an anom-aly. Perhaps he's embarrassed about it, worried that he's been disloyal. The silence is suffocating.

"Could you put some music on please?"

"Certainly, ma'am. What would you like to hear?"

"Something soothing."

I see a smile play on Taylor's lips as our eyes meet briefly again in the mirror.

"Yes, ma'am."

He pushes a few buttons on the steering wheel, and the gentle strains of Pachelbel's canon fills the space between us. Oh yes... this is what I need.

"Thank you." I sit back as we drive slowly but steadily along the I-5 into Seattle.

Twenty-five minutes, later he drops me outside the impressive fa?ade that is the entrance to Escala.

"In you go, ma'am," he says, holding the door open for me. "I'll bring up your luggage is."H expression is soft, warm, avuncular even.

Jeez... Uncle Taylor, what a thought.

"Thank you for meeting me."

"It's a pleasure, Miss Steele." He smiles, and I head into the building. The doorman nods and waves.

As I ride up to the thirtieth floor, a thousand butterflies stretch their wings and flutter erratically in my stomach. Why am I so nervous And I know it's because I have no idea what kind of mood Christian's going to be in when I arrive. My inner goddess is hopeful for one type of mood, my subconscious, like me, is fraught with nerves.

The elevator doors open, and I'm in the foyer. It is so strange not to be met by Taylor.

Of course, he's parking the car. In the great room, Christian is on his BlackBerry talking quietly as he stares out of the glass doors at the early evening Seattle skyline. He's wearing a gray suit with the jacket undone, and he's running his hand through his hair, he's. H agi-tated, tense even. Oh no - what's wrong Agitated or not, he's still beyond beautiful. How can he look so... arrestingIt's such a pleasure to stand and drink in the sheer sight of him.

"No trace... Okay... Yes." He turns and sees me, and his whole demeanor changes.

From tension to relief to something else: a look that calls directly to my inner goddess, a look of sensual carnality, gray eyes blazing.

My mouth goes dry and desire blooms in my body... whoa.

"Keep me informed," he snaps and shuts off his phone as he strides purposefully toward me. I stand paralyzed as he closes the distance between us, devouring me with his eyes. Holy shit... something's amiss - the strain in his jaw, the anxiety around his eyes.

He shrugs out of his jacket, undoes his dark tie, and slings them both on to the couch en route to me. Then his arms are wrapped around me, and he's pulling me to him, hard, fast, gripping my ponytail to tilt my head up, kissing me like his life depends on it. What the hell He drags the hair tie painfully out of my hair, but I don't care. There's a desperate, primal quality to his kiss. He needs me, for whatever reason, at this point in time, and I have never felt so desired and coveted. It's dark and sensual and alarming all at the same time. I kiss him back with equal fervor, my fingers twisting and fisting in his hair. Our tongues entwined, our passion and ardor erupting between us. He tastes divine, hot, sexy, and his scent - all body wash and Christian is so arousing. He drags his mouth away from mine, and he's staring down at me, gripped by some unnamed emotion.

"What's wrong?" I breathe.

"I'm so glad you're back. Shower with me - now."

I can't decide if it's a request or a command.

"Yes," I whisper, and he grabs my hand, leading me out of the big room into his bedroom to his bathroom.

Once there, he releases me and sets the water running in the far too spacious shower.

Turning slowly, he gazes at me, eyes hooded.

"I like your skirt. It's very short," he says, his voice low. "You have great legs."

He steps out of his shoes and reaches down to take each of his socks off, never taking his eyes off me. I am rendered speechless by the look of hunger in his eyes. Wow... to be this wanted by this Greek god. I mirror his actions and step out of my black flats. Suddenly, he reaches for me, backing me up against the wall. Kissing me, my face, my throat, my lips... running his hands into my hair. I feel the cool, smooth tiled wall at my back as he pushes himself against me so that I'm flattened between his heat and the chill of the ceramic. Tentatively, I place my arms on his upper arms, and he groans as I squeeze tightly.

"I want you now. Here... fast, hard," he breathes, and his hands are on my thighs, pushing up my skirt. "Are you still bleeding?"

"No." I flush.


His thumbs hook over my white cotton panties, and abruptly he drops to his knees as he tugs them off. My skirt is now rucked up so that I'm naked from the waist down and panting, wanting. He grabs my hips, pushing me against the wall again, and kisses me at the apex of my thighs. Grabbing my upper thighs, he forces my legs apart. I groan loudly, feeling his tongue circling my clitoris. Oh my. Tipping my head back involuntarily, I moan as my fingers find their way into this hair.

His tongue is relentless, strong and insistent, laving me - swirling round and round, again and again - non-stop. It's exquisite, the intensity of feeling - it's almost painful. My body starts to quicken, and he releases me. WhatNo! My breathing is ragged as I pant, gazing at him with delicious anticipation. He grabs my face with both hands, holding me firmly, and he kisses me hard, thrusting his tongue into my mouth so I can taste my arousal.

Unzipping his fly, he frees himself, grabs the backs of my thighs, and lifts me.

"Wrap your legs around me, baby," he commands, his voice urgent, strained.

I do as I'm told and wrap my arms around his neck, and he moves quickly and sharply, filling me. Ah! He gasps, and I groan. Holding my behind, his fingers digging into my soft flesh, he begins to move, slowly at first - a steady even tempo... but as his control unravels, he speeds up... faster, and faster. Ahhh! I tip my head back and concentrate on the invading, punishing, heavenly sensation... pushing me, pushing me... onward, higher, up... and when I can take no more, I explode around him, spiraling into an intense, all-consuming orgasm. He lets go with a deep growl, and he buries his head in my neck as he buries himself inside me, groaning loudly and incoherently as he finds his release.

His breathing is erratic, but he kisses me tenderly, not moving, still inside me, and I blink, unseeing into his eyes. As he comes into focus, he gently pulls out of me, holding me steady while I place my feet on the floor. The bathroom is now cloudy with steam...

and hot. I feel overdressed.

"You seem pleased to see me," I murmur with a shy smile.

His lips quirk up.

"Yes, Miss Steele, I think my pleasure is pretty self-evident. Come - let me get you in the shower."

He undoes the next three buttons of his shirt, removes the cufflinks, tugs it over his head, and discards it on the floor. Removing his suit pants and boxer briefs, he kicks them to one side. He begins to undo the buttons on my blouse while I watch him, yearning to reach out and stroke his chest, but I contain myself.

"How was your journey?" he asks mildly. He seems so much calmer now, his apprehension gone, dissolved by sexual congress.

"Fine, thank you," I murmur, still breathless. "Thanks once again for first class. It really is a much nicer way to travel." I smile shyly at him. "I have some news," I add nervously.

"Oh?" he looks down at me as he undoes the last button, slips my blouse down my arms, and throws it on top of his discarded clothes.

"I have a job."

He stills, then smiles at me, his eyes warm and soft.

"Congratulations, Miss Steele. Now will you tell me where?" he teases.

"You don't know?"

He shakes his head, frowning slightly.

"Why would I know?"

"With your stalking capabilities, I thought you might have... " I trail off as his face falls."Anastasia, I wouldn't dream of interfering in your career, unless you ask me to, of course." He looks wounded.

"So you have no idea which company?"

"No. I know there are four publishing companies in Seattle - so I am assuming it's one of them."


"Oh, the small one, good. Well done." He leans forward and kisses my forehead.

"Clever girl. When do you start?"


"That soon, ehI'd better take advantage of you while I still can. Turn round."

I am thrown by his casual command, but do as I'm bid, and he undoes my bra and unzips my skirt. He pushes my skirt down, cupping my behind as he does, and kissing my shoulder. He leans against, me and his nose nuzzles my hair, inhaling deeply. He squeezes my bu**ocks.

"You intoxicate me, Miss Steele, and you calm me. Such a heady combination." He kisses my hair. Grabbing my hand, he tugs me into the shower.

"Ow," I squeal. The water is practically scalding. Christian grins down at me as the water cascades over him.

"It's only a little hot water."

And actually he's right. It feels heavenly, washing off the sticky Georgia morning and the stickiness from our lovemaking.

"Turn round," he orders, and I comply, turning to face the wall. "I want to wash you,"

he murmurs and reaches for the body wash. He squirts a little into his hand.

"I have something else to tell you," I murmur as his hands start on my shoulders.

"Oh, yes?" he asks mildly.

I steel myself with a deep breath.

"My friend Jose's photography show is opening Thursday in Portland."

He stills, his hands hovering over my br**sts. I have emphasized the word 'friend.'

"Yes, what about it?" he asks sternly.

"I said I would go. Do you want to come with me?"

After what feels like a monumental amount of time, he slowly starts washing me again.

"What time?"

"The opening is at 7:30 p.m."

He kisses my ear.


Inside my subconscious relaxes and then collapses, slumped into an old battered arm-chair."Were you nervous about asking me?"

"Yes. How can you tell?"

"Anastasia, your whole body's just relaxed," he says dryly.

"Well, you just seem to be um... on the jealous side."

"Yes, I am," he says darkly. "And you'd do well to remember that. But thank you for asking. We'll take Charlie Tango."

Oh, the helicopter of course, silly me. More flying... cool! I grin.

"Can I wash you?" I ask.

"I don't think so," he murmurs, and he kisses me gently on my neck to take the sting out of his refusal. I pout at the wall as he caresses my back with soap.

"Will you ever let me touch you?" I ask boldly.

He stills again, his hand on my behind.

"Put your hands on the wall Anastasia. I'm going to take you again," he murmurs in my ear as he grabs my hips, and I know that the discussion is over.

Later we are seated at the breakfast bar, dressed in bathrobes, having consumed Mrs.

Jones's rather excellent pasta alle vongole.

"More wine?" Christian asks, gray eyes glowing.

"A small glass, please." The Sancerre is crisp and delicious. Christian pours one for me and one for himself.

"How's the um... situation that bought you to Seattle?" I ask tentatively.

He frowns.

"Out of hand," he murmurs bitterly. "But nothing for you to worry about, Anastasia. I have plans for you this evening."


"Yes. I want you ready and waiting in my playroom in fifteen minutes." He stands and gazes down at me.

"You can get ready in your room. Incidentally, the walk-in closet is now full of clothes for you. I don't want any arguments about them." He narrows his eyes, daring me to say something . When I don't, he stalks off to his study.

Me! Argue With you, Fifty ShadesIt's more than my backside's worth. I sit on the bar stool, momentarily stupefied, trying to assimilate this morsel of information. He's bought me clothes. I roll my eyes in an exaggerated fashion knowing full well he can't see me. Car, phone, computer... clothes, it'll be a damn condo next, and then I really will be his mistress.

Ho! My subconscious has her snarky face on. I ignore her and make my way upstairs toward my room so, it is still mine... whyI thought he'd agreed to let me sleep with him.

I suppose he's not used to sharing his personal space, but then, neither am I. I console myself with the thought that at least I have somewhere to escape from him.

Examining the door, I find that it has a lock but no key. I wonder briefly if Mrs. Jones has a spare. I'll ask her. I open the closet door and close it again quickly. Holy Crap - he's spent a fortune. It resembles Kate's - so many clothes hanging neatly on the rail. Deep down, I know that they'll all fit. But I have no time to think about that - I have to get kneeling in the Red Room of... Pain... or Pleasure - hopefully this evening.

Kneeling by the door, I am naked except for my panties. My heart is in my mouth. Jeez, I thought after the bathroom he would have had enough. The man is insatiable, or maybe all men are like him. I have no idea, no one to compare him too. Closing my eyes, I try to calm myself down, to connect with my inner sub. She's there somewhere, hiding behind my inner goddess.

Anticipation runs bubbling like soda through my veins. What will he doI take a deep steadying breath, but I cannot deny it, I'm excited, aroused, wet already. This is so... I want to think wrong, but somehow it's not. It's right for Christian. It's what he wants - and after the last few days... after all he's done, I have to man up and take whatever he decides he wants, whatever he thinks he needs.

The memory of his look when I came in this evening, the longing in his face, his determined stride toward me like I was an oasis in the desert. I'd do almost anything to see that look again. I press my thighs together at the delicious memory, and it reminds me that I need to spread my knees. I shuffle them apart. How long will he make me waitThe wait is crippling me, crippling me with a dark and tantalizing desire. I glance quickly around the subtly lit room; the cross, the table, the couch, the bench... that bed. It looms so large, and it's made up with red satin sheets. Which piece of apparatus will he use?

The door opens and Christian breezes in, ignoring me completely. I glance down quickly, staring at my hands, positioned with care on my spread thighs. Placing something on the large chest beside the door, he strolls casually toward the bed. I indulge myself in a quick glimpse at him, and my heart almost lurches to a stop. He's naked except for those soft ripped jeans, top button casually undone. Jeez, he looks so freaking hot. My subconscious is frantically fanning herself, and my inner goddess is swaying and writhing to some primal carnal rhythm. She's so ready. I lick my lips instinctively. My blood pounds through my body, thick and heavy with salacious hunger. What is he going to do to me?

Turning, he nonchalantly walks back to the chest of drawers. Opening one, he begins to remove items and place them on the top. My curiosity burns, blazes even, but I resist the overwhelming temptation to sneak a quick peek. When he finishes what he's doing, he comes to stand in front of me. I can see his naked feet, and I want to kiss every inch of them... run my tongue over his instep, suck each of his toes. Holy shit.

"You look lovely," he breathes.

I keep my head down, conscious that he's staring at me while I am practically naked. I feel the flush as it slowly spreads over my face. He bends down and cups my chin, forcing my face up to meet his gaze.

"You are one beautiful woman, Anastasia. And you're all mine," he murmurs. "Stand up." His command is soft full of sensual promise.

Shakily, I get to my feet.

"Look at me," he breathes, and I stare up into his smoldering gray gaze. It is his Dom gaze - cold, hard, and sexy as hell, seven shades of sin in one enticing look. My mouth dries, and I know I will do anything he asks. An almost cruel smile plays across his lips.

"We don't have a signed contract, Anastasia. But we've discussed limits. And I want to re-iterate we have safe words, okay?"

Holy f**k... what has he got planned that I need safe words?

"What are they?" he asks authoritatively.

I frown slightly at his question, and his face hardens perceptibly.

"What are the safe words, Anastasia?" he says slowly and deliberately.

"Yellow," I mumble.

"And?" he prompts, his mouth setting in a hard line.

"Red," I breathe.

"Remember those."

And I can't help it... I raise my eyebrow at him and am about to remind him of my GPA, but the sudden frosty glint in his icy gray eyes stops me in my tracks.

"Don't start with your smart mouth in here, Miss Steele. Or I will f**k it with you on your knees. Do you understand?"

I swallow instinctively. Okay. I blink rapidly, chastened. Actually, it's his tone of voice, rather than the threat, that intimidates me.


"Yes, Sir," I mumble hastily.

"Good girl," he pauses as he stares at me. "My intention is not that you should safeword because you're in pain. What I intend to do to you will be intense. Very intense, and you have to guide me. Do you understand?"

Not really. IntenseWow.

"This is about touch, Anastasia. You will not be able to see me or hear me. But you'll be able to feel me."

I frown - not hear him How is that going to workHe turns, and I hadn't noticed that above the chest is a sleek, flat, matt-black box. As he waves his hand in front, the box splits in half: two doors slide open revealing a CD player and a host of buttons. Christian presses several of these buttons in sequence. Nothing happens, but he seems satisfied. I am mystified. When he turns to face me again, he wears his small I-have-a-secret smile.

"I am going to tie you to that bed, Anastasia. But I'm going to blindfold you first and,"

he reveals his iPod in his hand, "you will not be able to hear me. All you will hear is the music I am going to play for you."

Okay. A musical interlude, not what I was expecting. Does he ever do what I expect?

Jeez, I hope it's not rap.

"Come." Taking my hand, he leads me over to the antique four-poster bed. There are shackles attached at each corner, fine metal chains with leather cuffs, glinting against the red satin.

Oh boy, I think my heart is going to leave my chest, and I'm melting from the inside out, desire coursing through me. Could I be any more excited?

"Stand here."

I am facing the bed. He leans down and whispers in my ear.

"Wait here, keep your eyes on the bed. Picture yourself lying here bound and totally at my mercy."

Oh my.

He moves away for a moment, and I can hear him near the door fetching something.

All my senses are hyper alert, my hearing more acute. He's picked up something from the rack of whips and paddles by the door. Holy cow. What is he going to do?

I feel him behind me. He takes my hair, pulls it into a ponytail behind me, and starts to braid it.

"While I like your pigtails, Anastasia, I am too impatient to be at you right now. So one will have to do." His voice is low, soft.

His deft fingers skim my back occasionally as they work down my hair, and each casual touch is like a sweet, electric shock against my skin. He fastens the end with a hair tie, then gently tugs the braid so that I'm forced to step back flush against him. He pulls again to the side so that I angle my head, giving him easier access to my neck. Leaning down, he nuzzles my neck. Tracing his teeth and tongue from the base of my ear to my shoulder.

He hums softly as he does, and the sound resonates through me. Right down... right down there, inside me. Unbidden, I groan quietly.

"Hush now," he breathes against my skin. He holds up his hands in front of me, his arms touching mine. In his right hand is a flogger. I remember the name from my first introduction to this room.

"Touch it," he whispers, and he sounds like the devil himself. My body flames in response. Tentatively, I reach out and brush the long strands. It has many long fronds, all soft suede with small beads at the end.

"I will use this. It will not hurt, but it will bring your blood to the surface of your skin and make you very sensitive."

Oh, he says it won't hurt.

"What are the safe words, Anastasia?"

"Um... yellow and red, Sir," I whisper.

"Good girl. Remember, most of your fear is in your mind."

He drops the flogger on the bed, and his hands move to my waist.

"You won't be needing these," he murmurs and hooks his fingers into my panties and sweeps them down my legs. I step unsteadily out of them, supporting myself on the ornate post of the bed.

"Stand still," he orders, and he kisses my behind and then gently nips me twice, making me tense. "Now lie down. Face up," he adds as he smacks me hard on the behind, making me jump.

Hastily, I crawl onto the bed's hard, unyielding mattress and lie down, looking up at him. The satin of the sheet beneath me is soft and cool against my skin. His gaze is impassive, except for his eyes which glow with a barely leashed excitement.

"Hands above your head," he orders, and I do as I'm bid.

Jeez, my body hungers for him. I want him already.

He turns, and out of the corner of my eye, I watch him saunter back over to the chest of drawers, returning with the iPod and what looks like an eye mask, similar to the one I used on my flight to Atlanta. The thought makes me want to smile, but I can't quite make my lips cooperate. I am too consumed with anticipation. I just know my face is completely immobile, my eyes huge, as I gaze at him.

Sitting down on the edge of the bed, he shows me the iPod. It has a strange antenna device as well headphones. How odd. I frown as I try to figure this out.

"This transmits what's playing on the iPod to the system in the room.", Christian answers my unspoken query as he taps the small antenna. "I can hear what you're hearing, and I have a remote control unit for it." He smirks his private-joke smile and holds up a small, flat device that looks like a very hip calculator. He leans across me, inserting the ear buds gently into my ears, and puts the iPod down somewhere on the bed above my head.

"Lift your head," he commands, and I do so immediately.

Slowly, he slides the mask on, pulling the elastic over the back of my head, and I'm blind. The elastic on the mask holds the ear buds in place. I can still hear him, though the sound is muffled as he rises from the bed. I'm deafened by my own breathing - it's shallow and erratic, reflecting my excitement. Christian takes my left arm, stretches it gently to the left-hand corner, and attaches the leather cuff around my wrist. His long fingers stroke the length of my arm once he's finished . Oh! His touch elicits a delicious, tickly shiver. I hear him move slowly round to the other side, takes my right arm and cuffs it. Again, his long fingers linger along my arm. Oh my... I am fit to burst already. Why is this so erotic?

He moves to the bottom of the bed and grabs both of my ankles.

"Lift your head again," he orders.

I comply, and he drags me down the bed so that my arms are stretched out and almost straining at the cuffs. Holy cow, I cannot move my arms. A frisson of trepidation mixed with tantalizing exhilaration sweeps through my body, making me wetter. I groan. Parting my legs, he cuffs first my right ankle and then my left so I am staked out, spread-eagled, and totally vulnerable to him. It's so unnerving that I can't see him. I listen hard... what's he doingAnd I hear nothing, just my breathing and the pounding thud of my heart as blood pulses furiously against my eardrums.

Abruptly, the soft silent hiss and pop of the iPod springs into life. From inside my head, a lone angelic voice sings unaccompanied a long sweet note, and it's joined almost immediately by another voice, and then more voices - Holy cow, a celestial choir - singing acapella in my head, an ancient, ancient hymnal. What in heaven's name is this I have never heard anything like it. Something almost unbearably soft brushes against my neck, running languidly down my throat, slowly across my chest, over my br**sts, caressing me... pulling at my ni**les, it's so soft, skimming underneath. It's so unexpected. It's fur!

A fur glove?

Christian trails his hand, unhurried and deliberate, down to my belly, circling my navel, then carefully from hip to hip, and I'm trying to anticipate where he's going next... but the music... it's in my head... transporting me... the fur across the line of my pubic hair...

between my legs, along my thighs, down one leg... up the other... it almost tickles... but not quite... more voices join... the heavenly choir all singing different parts, their voices blending blissfully and sweetly together in a melodic harmony that is beyond anything I've ever heard. I catch one word -- 'deus'-- and I realize they are singing in Latin. And still, the fur is moving down my arms and round my waist... back up across my br**sts. My ni**les harden beneath the soft touch... and I'm panting... wondering where his hand will go next. Suddenly, the fur is gone, and I can feel the fronds of the flogger flowing over my skin, following the same path as the fur, and it's so hard to concentrate with the music in my head - it sounds like a hundred voices singing, weaving an ethereal tapestry of fine, silken gold and silver through my head, mixed with the feel of the soft suede against my skin... trailing over me... oh my... abruptly, it disappears. Then suddenly, sharply, it bites down on my belly.

"Aagghh!" I cry out. It takes me by surprise, and it doesn't exactly hurt, but tingles all over, and he hits me again. Harder.


I want to move, to writhe... to escape, or to welcome, each blow... I don't know - it's so overwhelming... I can't pull my arms... my legs are stuck... I am held very firmly in place... and again he strikes across my br**sts - I cry out. And it's a sweet agony - bearable, just... pleasant - no, not immediately, but as my skin sings with each blow in perfect counterpoint to the music in my head, I am dragged into a dark, dark part of my psyche that surrenders to this most erotic sensation. Yes - I get this. He hits me across my hip. Then,t moves in swift blows over my pubic hair, on my thighs, and down my inner thighs... and back up my body... across my hips. He keeps going as the music reaches a climax, and then suddenly - the music stops. And so does he. Then the singing starts again... building and building, and he rains down blows on me... and I groan and writhe. Once again, it ceases and all is quiet... except my wild breathing... and wild yearning. For... oh...

what's happeningWhat's he going to do nowThe excitement is almost unbearable. I've entered a very dark, carnal place.

The bed moves and shifts as I feel him clamber over me, and the song starts again. He's got it on repeat... this time it's his nose and lips that take the place of the fur... running down my neck and throat, kissing, sucking... trailing down to my br**sts... Ah! Taunting each of my ni**les in turn... his tongue swirling round one while his fingers relentlessly tease the other... I groan, loudly I think, though I can't hear. I am lost. Lost in him... lost in the astral, seraphic voices... lost to all the sensations I cannot escape... I am completely at the mercy of his expert touch.

He moves down to my belly - his tongue circling my navel - following the path of the flogger and the fur... I moan. He's kissing and sucking and nibbling... moving south...

and then his tongue is there. At, a the junction of my thighs. I throw my head back and cry out as I almost detonate into orgasm... I'm on the brink, and he stops.

No! The bed shifts, and he kneels between my legs. He leans toward the bedpost, and the cuff on my ankle is suddenly gone. I pull my leg to the middle of the bed... resting it against him. He leans over to the opposite post and frees my other leg. His hands travel quickly down both my legs, squeezing and kneading, bringing life back into them. Then, grasping my hips, he lifts me so that my back is no longer on the bed. I am arched, resting on my shoulders. What He's kneeling up between my legs... and in one swift, slamming move he's inside me... oh f**k... and I cry out again. The quiver of my impending orgasm begins, and he stills. The quiver dies... oh no... he's going to torture me further.

"Please!" I wail.

He grips me harder... in warningI don't know, his fingers digging into the flesh of my behind as I lay panting... so I purposefully still. Very slowly, he starts to move again...

out and then in... agonizingly slowly . Holy f**k - Please! I'm screaming inside... And as the number of voices in the choral piece increases... so does his pace, infinitesimally, he's so controlled... so in time with the music. And I can no longer bear it.

"Please," I beg, and in one swift move, he lowers me back onto the bed, and he's lying on top of me, his hands on the bed beside my br**sts as he supports his weight, and he thrusts into me,.as A the music reaches its climax, I fall... free fall... into the most intense, agonizing orgasm I have ever had, and Christian follows me... thrusting hard into me, three more times... finally stilling, then collapsing on top of me.

As my consciousness returns from wherever it's been, Christian pulls out of me. The music has stopped, and I can feel him stretch across my body as he undoes the cuff on my right wrist. I groan as my hand is freed. He quickly frees my other hand, gently pulls the mask from my eyes, and removes the ear buds. I blink in the dim soft light and stare up into his intense gray gaze.

"Hi," he murmurs.

"Hi, yourself," I breathe shyly back at him. His lips quirk up into a smile, and he leans down and kisses me softly.

"Well done, you," he whispers. "Turn over."

Holy f**k - what's he going to do nowHis eyes soften.

"I'm just going to rub your shoulders."

"Oh... okay."

I roll stiffly onto my front. I am so tired. Christian sits astride me and starts to massage my shoulders. I groan loudly - he has such strong, knowing fingers. Leaning down, he kisses my head.

"What was that music?" I mumble almost inarticulately.

"It's called Spem In Alium, or the Forty Part Motet, by Thomas Tallis."

"It was... overwhelming."

"I've always wanted to f**k to it."

"Not another first, Mr. Grey?"

"Indeed, Miss Steele."

I groan again as his fingers work their magic on my shoulders.

"Well, it's the first time I've f**ked to it, too," I murmur sleepily.

"Hmm... you and I, we're giving each other many firsts." His voice is matter-of-fact.

"What did I say to you in my sleep, Ch - err, Sir?"

His hands pause their ministrations for a moment.

"You said lots of things, Anastasia. You talked about cages and strawberries... that you wanted more... and that you missed me."

Oh, thank heavens for that.

"Is that all?" The relief in my voice is evident.

Christian stops his heavenly massage and shifts so that he's lying beside me. His head propped up on his elbow. He's frowning.

"What did you think you'd said?"

Oh crap.

"That I thought you were ugly, conceited, and that you were hopeless in bed."

He crease on his brow deepens.

"Well, naturally I am all those things, and now you've got me really intrigued. What are you hiding from me, Miss Steele?"

I blink at him innocently.

"I'm not hiding anything."

"Anastasia, you are a hopeless liar."

"I thought you were going to make me giggle after sex, this isn't doing it for me."

His lips quirk up.

"I can't tell jokes."

"Mr. Grey! Something you can't do?" I grin at him, and he grins back.

"No, hopeless joke teller." He looks so proud of himself that I start to giggle.

"I'm a hopeless joke teller too,"

"That is such a lovely sound," he murmurs, and he leans forward and kisses me.

"And you are hiding something, Anastasia. I may have to torture it out of you."

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