Monday, November 26, 2012

Fifty Shades Freed CHAPTER 9


CHAPTER 9

When I wake before the alarm the following morning, Christian is wrapped
around me like ivy, his head on my chest, his arm around my waist, and his leg
between mine. And he’s on my side of the bed. It’s always the same, if we argue
the night before, this is how he ends up, coiled around me, making me hot and
bothered.
Oh, Fifty. He is so needy on some level. Who would have thought? The familiar
vision of Christian as a dirty, wretched little boy haunts me. Gently, I
stroke his shorter hair and my melancholy recedes. He stirs, and his sleepy eyes
meet mine. He blinks a couple of times as he wakes.
“Hi,” he murmurs and smiles.
“Hi.” I love waking to that smile.
He nuzzles my breasts and hums appreciatively deep in his throat. His hand
travels down from my waist, skimming over the cool satin of my nightgown.
“What a tempting morsel you are,” he mutters. “But, tempting though you
are,” he glances at the alarm, “I have to get up.” He stretches out, untangles himself
from me, and rises.
I lie back, put my hands behind my head, and enjoy the show—Christian
stripping for his shower. He is perfect. I wouldn’t change a hair on his head.
“Admiring the view, Mrs. Grey?” Christian arches a sardonic brow at me.
“It’s a mighty fine view, Mr. Grey.”
He grins and throws his pajama pants at me so they almost land on my face,
but I catch them in time, giggling like a schoolgirl. With a wicked grin, he pulls
the duvet off, puts one knee on the bed, grabs my ankles, and drags me toward
him so that my nightdress rides up. I squeal, and he crawls up my body, trailing
little kisses on my knee, my thigh . . . my . . . oh . . . Christian!
“Good morning, Mrs. Grey,” Mrs. Jones greets me. I flush, embarrassed remembering
her tryst with Taylor the night before.
“Good morning,” I respond as she hands me a cup of tea. I sit on the bar stool
beside my husband, who just looks radiant: freshly showered, his hair damp,
wearing a crisp white shirt and that silver-gray tie. My favorite tie. I have fond
memories of that tie.
“How are you, Mrs. Grey?” he asks, his eyes warm.
“I think you know, Mr. Grey.” I gaze up at him through my lashes.
He smirks. “Eat,” he orders. “You didn’t eat yesterday.”
Oh, bossy Fifty!
“That’s because you were being an arse.”
Mrs. Jones drops something that clatters into the sink, making me jump.
Christian seems oblivious to the noise. Ignoring her, he stares at me impassively.
“Arse or not—eat.” His tone is serious. No arguing with him.
“Okay! Picking up spoon, eating granola,” I mutter like a petulant teenager. I
reach for the Greek yoghurt and spoon some onto my cereal, followed by a
handful of blueberries. I glance at Mrs. Jones and she catches my eye. I smile, and
she responds with a warm smile of her own. She has provided me with my breakfast
of choice introduced to me on our honeymoon.
“I may have to go to New York later in the week.” Christian’s announcement
interrupts my reverie.
“Oh.”
“It’ll mean an overnight. I want you to come with me.”
“Christian, I won’t get the time off.”
He gives me his oh-really-but-I’m-the-boss-stare.
I sigh. “I know you own the company, but I’ve been away for three weeks.
Please. How can you expect me to run the business if I’m never there? I’ll be fine
here. I’m assuming you’ll take Taylor with you, but Sawyer and Ryan will be
here—” I stop, because Christian is grinning at me. “What?” I snap.
“Nothing. Just you,” he says.
I frown. Is he laughing at me? Then a nasty thought pops into my mind.
“How are you getting to New York?”
“The company jet, why?”
“I just wanted to check if you were taking Charlie Tango.” My voice is quiet,
and a shiver runs down my spine. I remember the last time he flew his helicopter.
A wave of nausea hits me as I recall the anxious hours I spent waiting for news.
That was possibly the lowest point in my life. I notice Mrs. Jones has stilled, too. I
try to dismiss the idea.
“I wouldn’t fly to New York in Charlie Tango. She doesn’t have that kind of
range. Besides, she won’t be back from the engineers for another two weeks.”
Thank heavens. My smile is partly from relief, but also the knowledge that
the demise of Charlie Tango has occupied a great deal of Christian’s thoughts and
time over the last few weeks.
“Well I’m glad she’s nearly fixed, but—” I stop. Can I tell him how nervous
I’ll be when he flies next time?
“What?” he asks as he finishes his omelet.
I shrug.
“Ana?” he says, more sternly.
“I just . . . you know. Last time you flew in her . . . I thought, we thought,
you’d—” I can’t finish the sentence, and Christian’s expression softens.
“Hey.” He caresses my face with the back of his knuckles. “That was sabotage.”
A dark expression crosses his face, and for a moment I wonder if he knows
who was responsible.
“I couldn’t bear to lose you,” I murmur.
“Five people have been fired because of that, Ana. It won’t happen again.”
“Five?”
He nods, his face serious.
Holy crap!
“That reminds me. There’s a gun in your desk.”
He frowns at my non sequitur and probably at my accusatory tone, though I
don’t mean it that way. “It’s Leila’s,” he says finally.
“It’s fully loaded.”
“How do you know?” His frown deepens.
“I checked it yesterday.”
He scowls at me. “I don’t want you messing with guns. I hope you put the
safety back on.”
I blink at him, momentarily stupefied. “Christian, there’s no safety on that revolver.
Don’t you know anything about guns?”
His eyes widen. “Um . . . no.”
Taylor coughs discreetly from the entrance. Christian nods at him.
“We have to go,” Christian says. He stands, distracted, and slips on his gray
jacket. I follow him into the hallway.
He has Leila’s gun. I am stunned by this news and briefly wonder what’s
happened to her. Is she still in—where is it? East somewhere. New Hampshire? I
can’t remember.
“Good morning, Taylor,” Christian says.
“Good morning, Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey.” He nods at us both, but he’s careful
not to look me in the eye. I’m grateful, recalling my state of undress when we
bumped into each other last night.
“I am just going to brush my teeth,” I mutter. Christian always brushes his
teeth before breakfast. I don’t understand why.
“You should ask Taylor to teach you how to shoot,” I say as we travel down in the
elevator. Christian gazes down at me, amused.
“Should I now?” he says dryly.
“Yes.”
“Anastasia, I despise guns. My mom has patched up too many victims of gun
crime, and my dad is vehemently antigun. I grew up with their ethos. I support at
least two gun control initiatives here in Washington.”
“Oh. Does Taylor carry a gun?”
Christian’s mouth thins.
“Sometimes.”
“You don’t approve?” I ask, as Christian ushers me out of the elevator on the
ground floor.
“No,” he says, tight-lipped. “Let’s just say that Taylor and I hold very different
views with regard to gun control.” I’m with Taylor on this.
Christian holds the foyer door open for me and I head out to the car. He has
not let me drive alone to SIP since he found out that Charlie Tango was sabotaged.
Sawyer smiles pleasantly, holding the door open for me as Christian and I
climb into the car.
“Please.” I reach across and grasp Christian’s hand.
“Please what?”
“Learn how to shoot.”
He rolls his eyes at me. “No. End of discussion, Anastasia.”
And I am a child again to be scolded. I open my mouth to say something cutting,
but decide I don’t want to start my workday in a bad mood. I fold my arms
instead and glimpse Taylor regarding me in the rearview mirror. He looks away,
concentrating on the road in front, but shakes his head a little, in obvious
frustration.
Hmm . . . Christian drives him crazy, too, sometimes. The thought makes me
smile, and my mood is saved.
“Where is Leila?” I ask as Christian gazes out of his window.
“I told you. She’s in Connecticut with her folks.” He glances at me.
“Did you check? After all, she does have long hair. It could have been her
driving the Dodge.”
“Yes, I checked. She’s enrolled in an art school in Hamden. She started this
week.”
“You’ve spoken to her?” I whisper, all the blood draining from my face.
Christian whips his head around at the tone of my voice.
“No. Flynn has.” He searches my face for a clue to my thoughts.
“I see,” I murmur, relieved.
“What?”
“Nothing.”
Christian sighs. “Ana. What is it?”
I shrug, not wanting to admit to my irrational jealousy.
Christian continues, “I’m keeping tabs on her, checking that she stays on her
side of the continent. She’s better, Ana. Flynn has referred her to a shrink in New
Haven, and all the reports are very positive. She’s always been interested in art,
so . . .” He stops, his face still searching mine. And in that moment I suspect that
he is paying for her art classes. Do I want to know? Should I ask him? I mean it’s
not as if he can’t afford it, but why does he feel the obligation? I sigh. Christian’s
baggage hardly compares to Bradley Kent from biology class and his half-assed
attempts to kiss me. Christian reaches for my hand.
“Don’t sweat this, Anastasia,” he murmurs, and I return his reassuring
squeeze. I know he’s doing what he thinks is right.
Midmorning I have a break in meetings. As I pick up the phone to call Kate, I notice
an e-mail from Christian.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Flattery
Date: August 23, 2011 09:54
To: Anastasia Grey
Mrs. Grey
I have received three compliments on my new haircut. Compliments from my staff
are new. It must be the ridiculous smile I’m wearing whenever I think about last
night. You are indeed a wonderful, talented, beautiful woman.
And all mine.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
I melt reading it.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Trying to concentrate here.
Date: August 23, 2011 10:48
To: Christian Grey
Mr. Grey
I am trying to work and don’t want to be distracted by delicious memories.
Is now the time to confess that I used to cut Ray’s hair regularly? I had no idea it
would be such useful training.
And yes, I am yours and you, my dear overbearing husband who refuses to exercise
his constitutional right under the second amendment to bear arms, are mine. But
don’t worry because I shall protect you. Always.
Anastasia Grey
Commissioning Editor, SIP
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Annie Oakley
Date: August 23, 2011 10:53
To: Anastasia Grey
Mrs. Grey
I am delighted to see you have spoken to the IT dept and changed your name. :D
I shall sleep safe in my bed knowing that my gun-toting wife sleeps beside me.
Christian Grey
CEO & Hoplophobe, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
Hoplophobe? What the hell is that?
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Long words
Date: August 23, 2011 10:58
To: Christian Grey
Mr. Grey
Once more you dazzle me with your linguistic prowess.
In fact, your prowess in general, and I think you know what I’m referring to.
Anastasia Grey
Commissioning Editor, SIP
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Gasp!
Date: August 23, 2011 11:01
To: Anastasia Grey
Mrs. Grey
Are you flirting with me?
Christian Grey
Shocked CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Would you rather . . .
Date: August 23, 2011 11:04
To: Christian Grey
I flirted with someone else?
Anastasia Grey
Brave Commissioning Editor, SIP
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Grrrrr
Date: August 23, 2011 11:09
To: Anastasia Grey
NO!
Christian Grey
Possessive CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Wow . . .
Date: August 23, 2011 11:14
To: Christian Grey
Are you growling at me? ’Cause that’s kinda hot.
Anastasia Grey
Squirming (in a good way) Commissioning Editor, SIP
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Beware
Date: August 23, 2011 11:16
To: Anastasia Grey
Flirting and toying with me, Mrs. Grey?
I may pay you a visit this afternoon.
Christian Grey
Priapic CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Oh No!
Date: August 23, 2011 11:20
To: Christian Grey
I’ll behave. I wouldn’t want my boss’s boss’s boss getting on top of me at work. ;)
Now let me get on with my job. My boss’s boss’s boss may fire my ass.
Anastasia Grey
Commissioning Editor, SIP
From: Christian Grey
Subject: &*%$&*&*
Date: August 23, 2011 11:23
To: Anastasia Grey
Believe me when I say there are a great many things he’d like to do to your ass
right now. Firing you is not one of them.
Christian Grey
CEO & Ass man, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
His response makes me giggle.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Go Away!
Date: August 23, 2011 11:26
To: Christian Grey
Don’t you have an empire to run?
Stop bothering me.
My next appointment is here.
I thought you were a breast man . . .
Think about my ass, and I’ll think about yours . . .
ILY x
Anastasia Grey
Now Moist Commissioning Editor, SIP
I cannot help my despondent mood as Sawyer drives me to the office on
Thursday. Christian’s threatened business trip to New York has happened, and
though he’s only been gone a few hours, I miss him already. I fire up my computer,
and there’s an email waiting for me. My mood lifts immediately.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Miss you already
Date: August 25, 2011 04:32
To: Anastasia Grey
Mrs. Grey
You were adorable this morning.
Behave while I’m away.
I love you.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
This will be the first night we’ve slept apart since our wedding. I intend to
have a few cocktails with Kate—that should help me sleep. Impulsively, I e-mail
him back, although I know that he’s still flying.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Behave Yourself!
Date: August 25, 2011 09:03
To: Christian Grey
Let me know when you land—I’ll worry until you do.
And I shall behave. I mean how much trouble can I get into with Kate?
Anastasia Grey
Commissioning Editor, SIP
I hit send and sip my latte, courtesy of Hannah. Who knew I’d grow to love coffee?
Despite the fact that I’m going out this evening with Kate, I feel like a chunk
of me is missing. At the moment, it’s thirty-five thousand feet somewhere above
the Midwest en route to New York. I didn’t know I would feel this unsettled and
anxious just because Christian’s away. Surely over time I won’t feel this loss and
uncertainty, will I? I let out a heavy sigh and continue with my work.
Around lunchtime, I start manically checking my e-mail and my BlackBerry
for a text. Where is he? Has he landed safely? Hannah asks if I want lunch, but
I’m too apprehensive and wave her away. I know it’s irrational, but I need to be
sure he’s arrived safely.
My office phone rings, startling me. “Ana St—Grey.”
“Hi.” Christian’s voice is warm with a trace of amusement. Relief floods
through me.
“Hi.” I’m grinning from ear to ear. “How was your flight?”
“Long. What are you doing with Kate?”
Oh no. “We’re just going out for a quiet drink.”
Christian says nothing.
“Sawyer and the new woman—Prescott—are coming to watch over us,” I offer,
trying to placate him.
“I thought Kate was coming to the apartment.”
“She is after a quick drink.” Please let me go out!
Christian sighs heavily. “Why didn’t you tell me?” he says quietly. Too
quietly.
I mentally kick myself. “Christian, we’ll be fine. I have Ryan, Sawyer, and
Prescott here. It’s only a quick drink.”
Christian remains resolutely silent, and I know he’s not happy. “I’ve only
seen her a few times since you and I met. Please. She’s my best friend.”
“Ana, I don’t want to keep you from your friends. But I thought she was
coming back to the apartment.”
“Okay,” I acquiesce. “We’ll stay in.”
“Only while this lunatic is out there. Please.”
“I’ve said okay,” I mutter in exasperation, rolling my eyes.
Christian snorts softly down the phone. “I always know when you’re rolling
your eyes at me.”
I scowl at the receiver. “Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to worry you. I’ll tell
Kate.”
“Good,” he breathes, his relief evident. I feel guilty for worrying him.
“Where are you?”
“On the tarmac at JFK.”
“Oh, so you just landed.”
“Yes. You asked me to call the moment I landed.”
I smile. My subconscious glares at me. See? He does what he says he’s going
to do.
“Well, Mr. Grey, I’m glad one of us is punctilious.”
He laughs. “Mrs. Grey, your gift for hyperbole knows no bounds. What am I
going to do with you?”
“I am sure you’ll think of something imaginative. You usually do.”
“Are you flirting with me?”
“Yes.”
I sense his grin. “I’d better go. Ana, do as you’re told, please. The security
team knows what they’re doing.”
“Yes, Christian, I will.” I sound exasperated again. Jeez, I get the message.
“I’ll see you tomorrow evening. I’ll call you later.”
“To check up on me?”
“Yes.”
“Oh, Christian!” I scold him.
“Au revoir, Mrs. Grey.”
“Au revoir, Christian. I love you.”
He inhales sharply. “And I you, Ana.”
Neither of us hangs up.
“Hang up, Christian,” I whisper.
“You’re a bossy little thing, aren’t you?”
“Your bossy little thing.”
“Mine,” he breathes. “Do as you’re told. Hang up.”
“Yes, Sir.” I hang up and grin stupidly at the phone.
A few moments later, an e-mail appears in my inbox.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Twitching Palms
Date: August 25, 2011 13:42 EDT
To: Anastasia Grey
Mrs. Grey
You are as entertaining as ever on the phone.
I mean it. Do as you’re told.
I need to know you’re safe.
I love you.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
Honestly, he’s the bossy one. But one phone call and all my anxiety has disappeared.
He’s arrived safely and he’s fussing about me as usual. I hug myself
momentarily. God, I love that man. Hannah knocks on my door, distracting me,
and brings me back to the now.
Kate looks gorgeous. In her tight white jeans and red camisole, she’s ready to
rock the town. She’s chatting animatedly with Claire in reception when I make
my entrance.
“Ana!” she cries, scooping me up in a Kate hug. She holds me at arm’s
length.
“Don’t you look the mogul’s wife? Who would have thought, little Ana
Steele? You look so . . . sophisticated!” She grins. I roll my eyes at her. I’m wearing
a pale cream shift dress with a navy belt and navy pumps.
“It’s good to see you, Kate.” I hug her back.
“So, where are we going?”
“Christian wants us to go back to the apartment.”
“Aw, really? Can’t we sneak a quick cocktail at the Zig Zag Cafe? I’ve
booked us a table.”
I open my mouth to protest.
“Please?” she whines and pouts prettily. She must be picking this up from
Mia. She never pouts normally. I’d really like a cocktail at the Zig Zag. We had
such fun the last time we went there, and it’s close to Kate’s apartment.
I hold up my index finger. “One.”
She grins. “One” She links her arm in mine, and we stroll out to the car,
which is parked at the curb with Sawyer at the wheel. We’re followed by Miss
Samantha Prescott who’s new to the security team—a tall African-American with
a no-nonsense attitude. I’ve yet to warm to her, maybe because she’s too cool and
professional. The jury’s definitely out, but like the rest of the team, she’s been
hand-picked by Taylor. She’s dressed like Sawyer in a dark somber pantsuit.
“Can you take us to the Zig Zag, please, Sawyer?”
Sawyer turns to look at me, and I know he wants to say something. He’s obviously
been given his orders. He hesitates.
“The Zig Zag Café. We’ll only have one.”
I give Kate a sideways glance, and she’s glaring at Sawyer. Poor man.
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Mr. Grey requested you go back to the apartment,” Prescott pipes up.
“Mr. Grey isn’t here,” I snap. “The Zig Zag, please.”
“Ma’am,” Sawyer replies with a sideways glance at Prescott, who wisely
holds her tongue.
Kate gapes at me as if she can’t believe her eyes and ears. I purse my lips and
shrug. Okay, so I’m a little more assertive than I used to be. Kate nods as Sawyer
pulls out into the early evening traffic.
“You know the additional security is driving Grace and Mia crazy,” Kate
says casually.
I gawk at her, baffled.
“You didn’t know?” She seems incredulous.
“Know what?”
“Security for all of the Greys has been tripled. Gazillioned, even.”
“Really?”
“He hasn’t told you?”
I flush. “No.” Damn it, Christian! “Do you know why?”
“Jack Hyde.”
“What about Jack? I thought he was just after Christian.” I gasp. Jeez. Why
hasn’t he told me?
“Since Monday,” Kate says.
Last Monday? Hmm . . . we identified Jack on Sunday. But why all the
Greys?
“How do you know all this?”
“Elliot.”
Of course.
“Christian hasn’t told you any of this, has he?”
I flush once more. “No.”
“Oh, Ana, how annoying.”
I sigh. As ever, Kate has hit the nail squarely on the head in her usual sledgehammer
style. “Do you know why?” If Christian’s not going to tell me, then
maybe Kate will.
“Elliot said it’s something to do with information stored on Jack Hyde’s computer
when he was at SIP.”
Holy crap. “You’re kidding.” A surge of anger pulses through me. How does
Kate know about this when I don’t?
I glance up to see Sawyer eyeing me from the rearview mirror. The red light
turns to green and he surges forward, focusing on the road ahead. I hold my finger
up to my lips and Kate nods. I bet Sawyer knows, too, and I don’t.
“How’s Elliot?” I ask to change the subject.
Kate grins stupidly, telling me all I need to know.
Sawyer pulls up at the end of the passageway that leads down to the Zig Zag
Café, and Prescott opens my door. I scoot out and Kate slides out after me. We
link arms and meander down the passage, followed by Prescott, who’s wearing a
thunderous expression on her face. Oh, for heaven’s sake, it’s just a drink. Sawyer
drives off to park the car.
“So how does Elliot know Gia?” I ask, taking a sip of my second strawberry
mojito. The bar is intimate and cozy, and I don’t want to leave. Kate and I have
not stopped talking. I had forgotten how much I like hanging with her. It’s liberating
to be out, relaxing, enjoying Kate’s company. I contemplate texting Christian
then dismiss the idea. He’ll just be mad and make me go home like an errant
child.
“Don’t talk to me about that bitch!” Kate splutters.
Kate’s reaction makes me laugh.
“What’s so funny, Steele?” she snaps, but not seriously.
“I feel the same way.”
“You do?”
“Yes. She was all over Christian.”
“She had a fling with Elliot.” Kate pouts.
“No!”
She nods, her lips pressed together in the patented Katherine Kavanagh
scowl.
“It was brief. Last year, I think. She’s a social climber. No wonder she has
her sights set on Christian.”
“Christian is taken. I told her to leave him alone or I would fire her.”
Kate gapes at me once more, stunned. I nod proudly, and she lifts her glass to
salute me, impressed and beaming.
“Mrs. Anastasia Grey! Way to go!” We clink.
“Does Elliot own a gun?”
“No. He’s very antigun.” Kate stirs her third drink.
“Christian, too. I think it was Grace and Carrick’s influence,” I mutter. I’m
feeling a little tipsy.
“Carrick’s a good man.” Kate nods.
“He wanted a prenup,” I mutter sadly.
“Oh, Ana.” She reaches across and grasps my arm. “He was only looking out
for his boy. As we both know, you have gold-digger tattooed on your forehead.”
She smiles at me, and I poke my tongue out at her then giggle.
“Mature, Mrs. Grey,” she says grinning. She sounds like Christian. “You’ll
do the same for your son one day.”
“My son?” I gape at her. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that my kids will be
rich. Holy crap. They’ll want for nothing. I mean . . . nothing. This needs further
thought—but not right now. I glance at Prescott and Sawyer seated nearby, watching
us and the evening crowd from a side table while they each nurse a glass of
sparkling mineral water.
“Do you think we should eat?” I ask.
“No. We should drink,” Kate says.
“Why are you in such a drinking mood?”
“Because I don’t see enough of you anymore. I didn’t know you’d up and
marry the first guy who turned your head.” She pouts again. “Honestly, you married
so quickly that I thought you were pregnant.”
I giggle. “Everyone thought I was pregnant,” I mutter. “Let’s not rehash that
conversation again. Please! And I have to use the restroom.”
Prescott accompanies me. She says nothing. She doesn’t have to. Disapproval
radiates off her like a lethal isotope.
“I haven’t been out on my own since I got married,” I mutter wordlessly at
the closed toilet door. I make a face, knowing that she’s standing on the other side
of the door, waiting while I pee. What precisely is Hyde going to do in a bar anyway?
Christian is just overreacting as usual.
“Kate, it’s late. We should go.”
It’s ten fifteen, and I have downed my fourth strawberry mojito. I am definitely
feeling the effects of the alcohol, warm and fuzzy. Christian will be fine.
Eventually.
“Sure, Ana. It’s been so good to see you. You just seem so much more, I
don’t know . . . confident. Marriage obviously agrees with you.”
My face warms. Coming from Miss Katherine Kavanagh, this is indeed a
compliment.
“It does,” I whisper, and because I’ve probably had too much to drink, tears
prick the back of my eyes. Could I be any happier? In spite of all his baggage, his
nature, his Fiftyness, I have met and married the man of my dreams. I quickly
change the subject to stem my sentimental thoughts, because I know I will cry
otherwise.
“I have really enjoyed this evening.” I grasp Kate’s hand. “Thank you for
dragging me out!” We hug. As she releases me, I nod at Sawyer and he hands
Prescott the keys to the car.
“I’m sure Miss Goody-Two-Shoes Prescott has told Christian I’m not at
home. He’ll be mad,” I mutter to Kate. And maybe he’ll think of some delicious
way to punish me . . . hopefully.
“Why are you grinning like a loon, Ana? You like making Christian mad?”
“No. Not really. But it’s easily done. He’s very controlling sometimes.” Most
of the time.
“I’ve noticed,” Kate says wryly.
We pull up outside Kate’s apartment. She hugs me hard.
“Don’t be a stranger,” she whispers and kisses my cheek. Then she’s out of
the car. I wave, feeling strangely homesick. I have missed girl talk. It’s fun and relaxing,
and reminds me that I’m still young. I must make more of an effort to see
Kate, but the truth is, I love being in my bubble with Christian. Last night we attended
a charity dinner together. There were so many men in suits and wellgroomed
elegant women talking about real estate prices and the failing economy
and the plunging stock markets. I mean, it was dull, really dull. So it’s refreshing
to let my hair down with someone my own age.
My stomach rumbles. Jeez, I still haven’t eaten. Shit—Christian! I scramble
through my purse and fish out my BlackBerry. Holy crap—five missed calls! One
text . . .
*WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU?*
And one e-mail.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Angry. You’ve not seen angry
Date: August 26, 2011 00:42 EST
To: Anastasia Grey
Anastasia
Sawyer tells me that you are drinking cocktails in a bar when you said you
wouldn’t.
Do you have any idea how mad I am at the moment?
I’ll see you tomorrow.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
My heart sinks. Oh shit! I really am in trouble. My subconscious glares at me,
then shrugs, wearing her you-made-your-bed-you-lie-in-it face. What did I
expect? I contemplate calling him, but it’s late and he’s probably asleep . . . or pacing.
I decide a quick text may be enough.
*I’M STILL IN ONE PIECE. I HAD A NICE TIME. MISSING
YOU—PLEASE DON’T BE MAD*
I gaze at my BlackBerry, willing him to respond, but it’s ominously silent. I
sigh.
Prescott pulls up outside Escala and Sawyer gets out to hold the door open
for me. As we stand waiting for the elevator, I take the opportunity to quiz him.
“What time did Christian call you?”
Sawyer flushes. “About nine thirty, ma’am.”
“Why didn’t you interrupt my conversation with Kate so I could speak with
him?”
“Mr. Grey told me not to.”
I purse my lips. The elevator arrives, and we ride up in silence. I’m suddenly
grateful that Christian has a whole night to recover from his snit-fit, and that he’s
on the other side of the country. It gives me some time. On the other hand . . . I
miss him.
The doors to the elevator open, and for a split second I stare at the foyer
table.
What is wrong with this picture?
The vase of flowers lies smashed into fragments all over the floor of the foyer,
water and flowers and chunks of china are strewn everywhere, and the table is
overturned. My scalp prickles and Sawyer grabs my arm and pulls me back into
the elevator.
“Stay there,” he hisses, drawing a gun. He steps into the foyer and disappears
from my field of vision.
I cower in the back of the elevator.
“Luke!” I hear Ryan call from inside the great room. “Code blue!”
Code blue?
“You have the perp?” Sawyer calls back. “Jesus H. Christ!”
I flatten myself against the elevator wall. What the hell is going on? Adrenaline
spikes through my body, and my heart leaps into my throat. I hear soft
voices, and a moment later Sawyer reappears in the foyer, standing in the puddle
of water. He holsters his gun.
“You can come in, Mrs. Grey,” he says gently.
“What’s happened, Luke?” My voice is barely a whisper.
“We’ve had a visitor.” He takes my elbow, and I’m grateful for the support—
my legs have turned to jelly. I walk with him through the open double
doors.
Ryan is standing at the entrance of the great room. A cut above his eye is
bleeding, and there’s another on his mouth. He looks roughed up, his clothes
disheveled. But what’s more shocking is Jack Hyde slumped at his feet.

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