Monday, November 26, 2012

Fifty Shades Freed CHAPTER 10


CHAPTER 10

My heart is pounding and blood thrums loudly in my eardrums; the alcohol flowing
through my system, amplifying the sound.
“Is he—” I gasp, unable to finish the sentence and gazing wide-eyed and terrified
at Ryan. I can’t even look at the prone figure on the floor.
“No, ma’am. Just knocked out cold.”
Relief floods through me. Oh, thank God.
“And you?” I ask, gazing at Ryan. I realize I don’t know his first name. He’s
panting as if he’s run a marathon. He wipes the corner of his mouth, removing the
trace of blood, and a faint bruise is forming on his cheek.
“He put up one hell of a fight, but I’m okay, Mrs. Grey.” He smiles reassuringly.
If I knew him better, I’d say he looked a little smug.
“And Gail? Mrs. Jones?” Oh no . . . is she okay? Has she been harmed?
“I’m here, Ana.” Glancing behind me, she’s in a nightdress and robe, her hair
loose, her face ashen and her eyes wide—like mine, I imagine.
“Ryan woke me. Insisted I come in here.” She points behind her into Taylor’s
office. “I’m fine. Are you okay?”
I nod briskly and realize she’s probably just come out of the panic room built
adjoining Taylor’s office. Who knew we’d need it so soon? Christian had insisted
on its installation shortly after our engagement—and I had rolled my eyes. Now,
seeing Gail standing in the doorway, I’m grateful for his foresight.
A creak from the door to the foyer distracts me. It’s hanging off its hinges.
What the hell happened to that?
“Was he alone?” I ask Ryan.
“Yes, ma’am. You wouldn’t be standing here if he wasn’t, I can assure you.”
Ryan sounds vaguely affronted.
“How did he get in?” I ask, ignoring his tone.
“Through the service elevator. He’s got quite a pair, ma’am.”
I stare down at Jack’s slumped figure. He’s wearing a uniform of sorts—coveralls,
I think.
“When?”
“About ten minutes ago. I caught him on the security monitor. He was wearing
gloves . . . kinda strange in August. I recognized him and decided to give him
access. That way I knew we’d have him. You weren’t here and Gail was safe, so I
figured it was now or never.” Ryan looks very pleased with himself once more,
and Sawyer scowls at him in disapproval.
Gloves? The thought distracts me, and I glance once more at Jack. Yes, he’s
wearing brown leather gloves. Creepy.
“What now?” I try to dismiss the ramifications from my mind.
“We need to secure him,” Ryan replies.
“Secure him?”
“In case he wakes.” Ryan glances at Sawyer.
“What do you need?” asks Mrs. Jones, stepping forward. She’s recovered her
composure.
“Something to restrain him—cord or rope,” Ryan replies.
Cable ties. I flush as memories of the previous night invade my mind. Reflexively,
I rub my wrists and glance quickly down at them. No, no bruising. Good.
“I have something. Cable ties. Will they do?”
All eyes turn to me.
“Yes, ma’am. Perfect,” Sawyer says, serious and straight-faced. I want the
floor to swallow me up, but I turn and head for our bedroom. Sometimes you just
have to brazen things out. Perhaps it’s the combination of fear and alcohol making
me audacious.
When I return, Mrs. Jones is surveying the mess in the foyer and Miss
Prescott has joined the security team. I hand the ties to Sawyer, who slowly, and
with unnecessary care, ties Hyde’s hands behind his back. Mrs. Jones disappears
into the kitchen and returns with a first aid kit. She takes Ryan’s arm, leads him
into the doorway of the great room, and starts tending to the cut above his eye. He
flinches as she dabs it with an antiseptic wipe. Then I notice the Glock on the
floor with a silencer attached. Holy shit! Jack was armed? Bile rises in my throat
and I fight it down.
“Don’t touch, Mrs. Grey,” says Prescott when I bend to pick it up. Sawyer
emerges from Taylor’s office wearing latex gloves.
“I’ll take care of that, Mrs. Grey,” he says.
“It’s his?” I ask.
“Yes ma’am,” says Ryan, wincing once more from Mrs. Jones’s ministrations.
Holy crap. Ryan fought an armed man in my home. I shudder at the
thought. Sawyer bends and gingerly picks up the Glock.
“Should you be doing that?” I ask.
“Mr. Grey would expect it ma’am.” Sawyer slides the gun into a zip-lock bag
then squats to pat down Jack. He pauses and partially pulls a roll of duct tape from
the man’s pocket. Sawyer blanches and pushes the tape back into Hyde’s pocket.
Duct tape? My mind idly registers as I watch the proceedings with fascination
and an odd detachment. Then bile rises to my throat again as I realize the implications.
Rapidly, I dismiss them from my head. Don’t go there, Ana!
“Should we call the police?” I mutter, trying to hide my fear. I want Hyde out
of my home, sooner rather than later.
Ryan and Sawyer glance at each other.
“I think we should call the police,” I say rather more forcefully, wondering
what’s going on between Ryan and Sawyer.
“I’ve just tried Taylor, and he’s not answering his cell. Maybe he’s asleep.”
Sawyer checks his watch. “It’s one forty-five in the morning on the East Coast.”
Oh no.
“Have you called Christian?” I whisper.
“No, ma’am.”
“Were you calling Taylor for instructions?”
Sawyer looks momentarily embarrassed. “Yes, ma’am.”
Part of me bristles. This man—I glance down at Hyde again—has invaded
my home, and he needs to be removed by the police. But looking at the four of
them, into their anxious eyes, I decide I must be missing something so I decide to
call Christian. My scalp prickles. I know he’s mad at me—really, really mad at
me—and I falter at the thought of what he’ll say. And how he’ll stress because
he’s not here and can’t be here until tomorrow evening. I know I’ve worried him
enough this evening. Perhaps I shouldn’t call him. And then it occurs to me. Shit.
What if I’d been here? I pale at the thought. Thank heavens I was out. Maybe I
won’t be in so much trouble after all.
“Is he okay?” I ask, pointing at Jack.
“He’ll have an aching skull when he wakes,” Ryan says, gazing down at Jack
with contempt. “But we need paramedics here to make sure.”
I reach into my purse and pull out my BlackBerry, and before I can give too
much thought to the extent of Christian’s anger, I dial his number. It goes straight
to voice mail. He must have switched it off because he’s so mad. I cannot think
what to say. Turning away, I walk down the hallway a little, away from everyone.
“Hi. It’s me. Please don’t be mad. We’ve had an incident at the apartment.
But it’s under control, so don’t worry. No one is hurt. Call me.” I hang up.
“Call the police.” I tell Sawyer. He nods, takes out his cell, and makes the
call.
Officer Skinner is deep in conversation with Ryan at the dining room table. Officer
Walker is with Sawyer in Taylor’s office. I don’t know where Prescott is,
perhaps in Taylor’s office. Detective Clark is barking questions at me as we sit on
the couch in the great room. He’s tall, dark and would be good looking if it wasn’t
for his permanent scowl. I suspect he’s been woken and dragged from his warm
bed because the home of one of Seattle’s most influential and wealthy businessmen
has been breached.
“He used to be your boss?” Clark asks tersely.
“Yes.”
I am tired—beyond tired—and I want to go to bed. I still haven’t heard from
Christian. On the plus side, the paramedics have removed Hyde. Mrs. Jones hands
Detective Clark and me each a cup of tea.
“Thanks.” Clark turns to me. “And where is Mr. Grey?”
“New York. On business. He’ll be back tomorrow evening, I mean this evening.”
It’s after midnight.
“Hyde is known to us,” Detective Clark murmurs. “I’ll need you to come
down to the station to make a statement. But that can wait. It’s late and there are a
couple of reporters camped out on the sidewalk. Do you mind if I look around?”
“Of course not,” I offer, relieved his questioning is finished. I shudder at the
thought of the photographers outside. Well, they won’t be a problem until tomorrow.
I remind myself to call Mom and Ray just in case they hear anything and
worry.
“Mrs. Grey, may I suggest you go to bed?” Mrs. Jones says, her voice warm
and full of concern.
Looking into her warm, kind eyes, I suddenly feel an overwhelming need to
cry. She reaches over and rubs my shoulder.
“We’re safe now,” she murmurs. “This will all look better in the morning
once you’ve had some sleep. And Mr. Grey will be back tomorrow evening.”
I glance nervously up at her, keeping my tears at bay. Christian is going to be
so mad.
“Can I get you anything before you go to bed?” she asks.
I realize how hungry I am. “I’d love something to eat.”
She smiles broadly. “Sandwich and some milk?”
I nod with gratitude, and she heads into the kitchen. Ryan is still with Officer
Skinner. In the foyer Detective Clark is examining the mess outside the elevator.
He looks thoughtful, despite his scowl. And suddenly I feel homesick—homesick
for Christian. Holding my head in my hands, I wish fervently that he were here.
He’d know what to do. What an evening. I want to crawl into his lap, have him
hold me and tell me that he loves me, even though I don’t do as I’m told—but that
won’t be possible until this evening. Inwardly I roll my eyes . . . Why didn’t he
tell me about the increased security for everyone? What exactly is on Jack’s computer?
He’s so frustrating but right now, I just don’t care. I want my husband. I
miss him.
“Here you are, Ana dear.” Mrs. Jones interrupts my inner turmoil. When I
glance up at her, she hands me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, her eyes twinkling.
I haven’t had one of these for years. I smile shyly and dig in.
When I finally crawl into bed, I curl up on Christian’s side, dressed in his Tshirt.
Both his pillow and his T-shirt smell of him, and as I drift off I silently wish
him safe passage home . . . and a good mood.
I wake with a start. It’s light and my head is aching, throbbing at my temples. Oh
no. I hope I don’t have a hangover. Cautiously, I open my eyes and notice the
bedroom chair has moved, and Christian is sitting in it. He’s wearing his tux, and
the end of his bowtie is peeping out of the breast pocket. I wonder if I’m dreaming.
His left arm is draped over the chair, and in his hand he holds a cut glass tumbler
of amber liquid. Brandy? Whiskey? I have no idea. One long leg is crossed at
the ankle over his knee. He’s wearing black socks and dress shoes. His right elbow
rests on the arm of the chair, his hand up to his chin, and he’s slowly running
his index finger rhythmically back and forth over his lower lip. In the early morning
light, his eyes burn with grave intensity but his general expression is completely
unreadable.
My heart almost stops. He’s here. How did he get here? He must have left
New York last night. How long has he been here watching me sleep?
“Hi,” I whisper.
He regards me coolly, and my heart stutters once more. Oh no. He moves his
long fingers away from his mouth, tosses back the remainder of his drink, and
places the glass on the bedside table. I half expect him to kiss me, but he doesn’t.
He sits back, continuing to regard me, his expression impassive.
“Hello,” he says finally, his voice hushed. And I know he’s still mad. Really
mad.
“You’re back.”
“It would appear so.”
Slowly I pull myself up into a sitting position, not taking my eyes off him.
My mouth is dry. “How long have you been sitting there watching me sleep?”
“Long enough.”
“You’re still mad.” I can hardly speak the words.
He gazes at me, as if considering his response. “Mad,” he says as if testing
the word, weighing up its nuances, its meaning. “No, Ana. I am way, way beyond
mad.”
Holy crap. I try to swallow, but it’s hard with a dry mouth.
“Far beyond mad . . . that doesn’t sound good.”
He gazes at me, completely impassive, and doesn’t respond. A stark silence
stretches between us. I reach over to my glass of water and take a welcome sip,
trying to bring my erratic heart rate under control.
“Ryan caught Jack.” I try a different tack, and I place my glass beside his on
the bedside table.
“I know,” he says icily.
Of course, he knows. “Are you going to be monosyllabic for long?”
His eyebrows move fractionally registering his surprise as if he hadn’t expected
this question. “Yes,” he says finally.
Oh . . . okay. What to do? Defense—the best form of attack. “I’m sorry I
stayed out.”
“Are you?”
“No,” I mutter after a pause, because it’s true.
“Why say it then?”
“Because I don’t want you to be mad at me.”
He sighs heavily as if he’s been holding this tension for a thousand hours and
runs his hand through his hair. He looks beautiful. Mad, but beautiful. I drink him
in—Christian’s back—angry, but in one piece.
“I think Detective Clark wants to talk to you.”
“I’m sure he does.”
“Christian, please . . .”
“Please what?”
“Don’t be so cold.”
His eyebrows rise in surprise once more. “Anastasia, cold is not what I’m
feeling at the moment. I’m burning. Burning with rage. I don’t know how to deal
with these”—he waves his hand searching for the word—“feelings.” His tone is
bitter.
Oh shit. His honesty disarms me. All I want to do is crawl into his lap. It’s all
I’ve wanted to do since I came home last night. To hell with this. I move, taking
him by surprise and climbing awkwardly into his lap, where I curl up. He doesn’t
push me away, which is what I’d feared. After a beat, he folds his arms around me
and buries his nose in my hair. He smells of whiskey. Jeez, how much did he
drink? He smells of bodywash, too. He smells of Christian. I wrap my arms
around his neck and nuzzle his throat, and he sighs once more, deeply this time.
“Oh, Mrs. Grey. What am I going to do with you?” He kisses the top of my
head. I close my eyes, relishing the contact with him.
“How much have you had to drink?”
He stills. “Why?”
“You don’t normally drink hard liquor.”
“This is my second glass. I’ve had a trying night, Anastasia. Give a man a
break.”
I smile. “If you insist, Mr. Grey,” I breathe into his neck. “You smell heavenly.
I slept on your side of the bed because your pillow smells of you.”
He nuzzles my hair. “Did you now? I wondered why you were on this side.
I’m still mad at you.”
“I know.”
His hand rhythmically strokes my back.
“And I’m mad at you,” I whisper.
He pauses. “And what, pray, have I done to deserve your ire?”
“I’ll tell you later when you’re no longer burning with rage.” I kiss his throat.
He closes his eyes and leans into my kiss but makes no move to kiss me back. His
arms tighten around me, squeezing me.
“When I think of what might have happened . . .” His voice is barely a whisper.
Broken, raw.
“I’m okay.”
“Oh, Ana.” It’s almost a sob.
“I’m okay. We’re all okay. A bit shaken. But Gail is fine. Ryan is fine. And
Jack is gone.”
He shakes his head. “No thanks to you,” he mutters.
What? I lean back, and glare at him. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t want to argue about it right now, Ana.”
I blink. Well, maybe I do, but I decide against it. At least he’s talking to me. I
nestle into him once more. His fingers move to my hair and start playing with it.
“I want to punish you,” he whispers. “Really beat the shit out of you,” he
adds.
My heart leaps into my mouth. Fuck. “I know,” I whisper as my scalp
prickles.
“Maybe I will.”
“I hope not.”
He hugs me tighter. “Ana, Ana, Ana. You’d try the patience of a saint.”
“I could accuse you of many things, Mr. Grey, but being a saint isn’t one of
them.”
Finally I am blessed with his reluctant chuckle. “Fair point well made as ever,
Mrs. Grey.” He kisses my forehead and shifts.
“Back to bed. You had a late night, too.” He moves quickly, picking me up
and depositing me back on the bed.
“Lie down with me?”
“No. I have things to do.” He reaches down and collects the glass. “Go back
to sleep. I’ll wake you in a couple of hours.”
“Are you still mad at me?”
“Yes.”
“I’ll go back to sleep, then.”
“Good.” He pulls the duvet over me and kisses my forehead once more.
“Sleep.”
And because I’m so groggy from the night before, relieved that he’s back,
and emotionally fatigued by our early-morning encounter, I do exactly as I’m
told. As I drift off, I’m curious though grateful, given the nasty taste in my mouth,
to know why he hasn’t deployed his usual coping mechanism and leapt on me to
have his wicked way.
“There’s some orange juice for you here,” Christian says, and my eyes flutter
open again. I have had the most restful two hours of sleep I can remember, and I
wake refreshed, my head no longer throbbing. The orange juice is a welcome
sight—as is my husband. He’s in his sweats. And I’m momentarily zapped back
to the Heathman Hotel and the first time I ever woke up with him. His gray tank
top is damp with his sweat. Either he’s been working out in the basement gym or
he’s been for a run, but he shouldn’t look this good after a workout.
“I’m going to take a shower,” he murmurs and disappears to the bathroom. I
frown. He’s still distant. He’s either distracted by all that’s happened, or still mad,
or . . . what? I sit up and reach for the orange juice, drinking it down too quickly.
It’s delicious, ice cold, and it makes my mouth a much better place. I clamber out
of bed, anxious to close the distance—real and metaphysical—between my husband
and me. I glance quickly at the alarm. It’s eight o’clock. I strip off Christian’s
T-shirt and follow him into the bathroom. He’s in the shower, washing his
hair, and I don’t hesitate. I slip in behind him, and he stiffens the moment I wrap
my arms around him—my front to his wet, muscular back. I ignore his reaction,
holding him tightly, and press my cheek flat against him, closing my eyes. After a
moment, he shifts so we are both under the cascade of hot water and carries on
washing his hair. I let the water wash over me as I cradle the man I love. I think of
all the times he’s fucked me and all the times he’s made love to me in here. I
frown. He’s never been this quiet. Turning my head, I start to trail kisses across
his back. His body stiffens again.
“Ana,” he warns.
“Hmm.”
My hands travel slowly down over his taut stomach to his belly. He places
both his hands on mine and brings them to an abrupt halt. He shakes his head.
“Don’t,” he warns.
I release him, immediately. He’s saying no? My mind goes into free fall—has
this ever happened before? My subconscious shakes her head, her lips pursed. She
glares at me over her half-moon glasses, wearing her you’ve-really-fucked-upthis-
time look. I feel like I’ve been slapped, hard. Rejected. And a lifetime of insecurity
spawns the ugly thought he doesn’t want me anymore. I gasp as the pain
sears through me. Christian turns, and I’m relieved to see he’s not completely oblivious
to my charms. Grasping my chin, he tilts my head back, and I find myself
gazing into his wary, beautiful eyes.
“I’m still fucking mad at you,” he says, his voice quiet and serious. Shit!
Leaning down, he rests his forehead against mine, closing his eyes. I reach up and
caress his face.
“Don’t be mad at me, please. I think you’re overreacting,” I whisper.
He straightens, blanching. My hand falls free to my side.
“Overreacting?” he snarls. “Some fucking lunatic gets into my apartment to
kidnap my wife, and you think I’m overreacting!” The restrained menace in his
voice is frightening, and his eyes blaze as he stares at me as if I’m the fucking
lunatic.
“No . . . um, that’s not what I was referring to. I thought this was about me
staying out.”
He closes his eyes once more as if in pain and shakes his head.
“Christian, I wasn’t here.” I try to appease and reassure him.
“I know,” he whispers opening his eyes. “And all because you can’t follow a
simple, fucking request.” His tone is bitter and it’s my turn to blanch. “I don’t
want to discuss this now, in the shower. I am still fucking mad at you, Anastasia.
You’re making me question my judgment.” He turns and promptly leaves the
shower, grabbing a towel on the way and stalking out of the bathroom, leaving me
bereft and chilled under the hot water.
Crap. Crap. Crap.
Then the significance of what he’s just said dawns on me. Kidnap? Fuck.
Jack wanted to kidnap me? I recall the duct tape and not wanting to think too
deeply about why Jack had that. Does Christian have more information? Hurriedly
I wash myself, then shampoo and rinse my hair. I want to know. I need to
know. I am not going to let him keep me in the dark about this.
Christian’s not in the bedroom when I come out. Jeez, he dresses quickly. I
do the same, throwing on my favorite plum dress and black sandals, and I’m conscious
that I’ve chosen this outfit because Christian likes it. I vigorously towel-dry
my hair, then braid it and wind it into a bun. Fitting diamond studs into my ears, I
dash to the bathroom to apply a little mascara and glance at myself in the mirror.
I’m pale. Jeez, I’m always pale. I take a deep steadying breath. I need to face the
consequences of my rash decision to actually enjoy myself with my friend. I sigh,
knowing that Christian won’t see it that way.
Christian is nowhere to be seen in the great room. Mrs. Jones is busying herself
in the kitchen.
“Good morning, Ana,” she says sweetly.
“Morning,” I smile broadly at her. I am Ana again!
“Tea?”
“Please.”
“Anything to eat?”
“Please. I’d like an omelet this morning.”
“With mushrooms and spinach?”
“And cheese.”
“Coming up.”
“Where’s Christian?”
“Mr. Grey’s in his study.”
“Has he had breakfast?” I glance at the two places set on the breakfast bar.
“No, ma’am.”
“Thanks.”
Christian is on the phone, dressed in a white shirt with no tie, looking like
every part the relaxed CEO. How deceptive appearances can be. Perhaps he’s not
going into the office after all. He glances up when I appear in the doorway but
shakes his head at me, indicating that I am not welcome. Shit . . . I turn and
wander dejectedly back to the breakfast bar. Taylor appears, snappily dressed in a
somber suit, looking like he’s had eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
“Morning, Taylor,” I murmur, trying to gauge his mood and see if he’ll offer
me any visual cues about what has been going on.
“Good morning, Mrs. Grey,” he replies, and I hear the sympathy in those four
words. I smile compassionately back at him, knowing he had to endure an angry,
frustrated Christian returning to Seattle way ahead of schedule.
“How was the flight?” I dare to ask.
“Long, Mrs. Grey.” His brevity speaks volumes. “May I ask how you are?”
he adds, his tone softening.
“I’m good.”
He nods. “If you’ll excuse me.” He heads toward Christian’s study. Hmm.
Taylor’s allowed in, but not me.
“Here you go.” Mrs. Jones places my breakfast in front of me. My appetite
has vanished, but I eat anyway, not wishing to offend her.
By the time I’ve finished what I can of my breakfast, Christian has still not
emerged from his study. Is he avoiding me?
“Thanks, Mrs. Jones,” I murmur, sliding off the bar stool and making my way
to the bathroom to clean my teeth. As I brush them, I’m reminded of Christian’s
sulk over the wedding vows. He holed up in his study then, too. Is that what this
is? Him sulking? I shudder as I recall his subsequent nightmare. Will that happen
again? We really need to talk. I need to know about Jack and about the increased
security for the Greys—all the details that have been kept from me, but not from
Kate. Obviously Elliot talks to her.
I glance at my watch. It’s eight fifty—I’m late for work. I finish brushing my
teeth, apply a little lip gloss, grab my lightweight black jacket, and head back to
the great room. I am relieved to see Christian there, eating his breakfast.
“You’re going?” he says when he sees me.
“To work? Yes, of course.” Bravely, I walk toward him and rest my hands on
the edge of the breakfast bar. He gazes at me blankly.
“Christian, we’ve hardly been back a week. I have to go to work.”
“But—” He stops, and rakes his hand through his hair. Mrs. Jones walks
quietly out of the room. Discreet, Gail, discreet.
“I know we have a great deal to talk about. Perhaps if you’ve calmed down,
we can do it this evening.”
His mouth pops open with dismay. “Calmed down?” His voice is eerily soft.
I flush. “You know what I mean.”
“No, Anastasia, I don’t know what you mean.”
“I don’t want a fight. I was coming to ask you if I could take my car.”
“No. You can’t,” he snaps.
“Okay.” I acquiesce immediately.
He blinks. He was obviously expecting a fight. “Prescott will accompany
you.” His tone is slightly less belligerent.
Dammit, not Prescott. I want to pout and protest but decide against it. Surely
now Jack has been caught we can cut back on our security.
I remember my mom’s “words of wisdom” talk the day before my wedding.
Ana, honey, you really have to choose your battles. It’ll be the same with your
kids when you have them. Well, at least he’s letting me go to work.
“Okay,” I mutter. And because I don’t want to leave him like this with so
much unresolved and so much tension between us, I step tentatively toward him.
He stiffens, his eyes widening, and for a moment he looks so vulnerable it pulls at
some deep, dark place in my heart. Oh, Christian, I’m so sorry. I kiss him
chastely on the side of his mouth. He closes his eyes as if relishing my touch.
“Don’t hate me,” I whisper.
He grabs my hand. “I don’t hate you.”
“You haven’t kissed me,” I whisper.
He eyes me suspiciously. “I know,” he mutters.
I’m desperate to ask him why, but I’m not sure I want to know the answer.
Abruptly he stands and grabs my face between his hands, and in a flash his lips
are hard on mine. I gasp with surprise, inadvertently granting his tongue access.
He takes full advantage, invading my mouth, claiming me, and just as I’m beginning
to respond he releases me, his breathing quickening.
“Taylor will take you and Prescott to SIP,” he says, his eyes flaring with
need. “Taylor!” he calls. I flush, trying to recover some composure.
“Sir.” Taylor is standing in the doorway.
“Tell Prescott Mrs. Grey is going to work. Can you drive them, please?”
“Certainly.” Turning on his heel, Taylor disappears.
“If you could try to stay out of trouble today, I would appreciate it,” Christian
mutters.
“I’ll see what I can do.” I smile sweetly. A reluctant half smile tugs at Christian’s
lips, but he doesn’t give in to it.
“I’ll see you later, then,” he says coolly.
“Laters,” I whisper.
Prescott and I take the service elevator down to the basement garage in order
to avoid the media outside. Jack’s arrest and the fact he was apprehended in our
apartment are now public knowledge. As I settle into the Audi, I wonder if there
will be more paparazzi waiting at SIP like the day our engagement was
announced.
We drive a while in silence until I remember to call first Ray and then my
mom to reassure them that Christian and I are safe. Mercifully, both calls are
short, and I hang up just as we arrive outside SIP. As I feared, there’s a small
crowd of reporters and photographers lying in wait. They turn as one, looking expectantly
at the Audi.
“Are you sure you want to do this, Mrs. Grey?” Taylor asks. Part of me just
wants to go home, but that means spending the day with Mr. Burning Rage. I
hope that with a little time, he will gain some perspective. Jack is in police custody,
so Fifty should be happy, but he’s not. Part of me understands why; too
much of this is out of his control including me, but I don’t have time to think
about this now.
“Take me around to the delivery entrance, please, Taylor.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
It’s one o’clock and I’ve managed to immerse myself in work all morning.
There’s a knock and Elizabeth pops her head around the door.
“Can I have a moment?” she asks brightly.
“Sure,” I mutter, surprised at her unscheduled visit.
She enters and sits down, tossing her long black hair over her shoulder. “I
just wanted to check you’re okay. Roach asked me to pay you a visit,” she adds
hurriedly as her face reddens. “I mean with all that went on last night.”
Jack Hyde’s arrest is all over the newspapers, but no one seems to have made
the connection yet with the fire at GEH.
“I’m fine,” I answer, trying not to think too deeply about how I feel. Jack
wanted to harm me. Well, that’s not news. He’s tried before. It’s Christian I’m
more concerned about.
I glance quickly at my e-mail. There’s still nothing from him. I don’t know if
I were to send him an e-mail, whether I’d just be provoking Mr. Burning Rage
further.
“Good,” Elizabeth answers, and her smile actually touches her eyes for a
change. “If there’s anything I can do—anything you need—let me know.”
“Will do.”
Elizabeth stands. “I know how busy you are, Ana. I’ll let you get back to it.”
“Um . . . thanks.”
That has to have been the briefest most pointless meeting in the Western
Hemisphere today. Why did Roach send her here? Perhaps he’s worried, given
I’m his boss’s wife. I shake off the dark thoughts and reach for my BlackBerry in
the hope that there might be a message from Christian. As I do, my work e-mail
pings.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Statement
Date: August 26, 2011 13:04
To: Anastasia Grey
Anastasia
Detective Clark will be visiting your office today at 3 pm to take your statement.
I have insisted that he should come to you, as I don’t want you going to the police
station.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
I gaze at his e-mail for a full five minutes, trying to think of a light and witty
response to lift his mood. I draw a complete blank, and opt for brevity instead.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Statement
Date: August 26, 2011 13:12
To: Christian Grey
Okay.
A x
Anastasia Grey
Commissioning Editor, SIP
I stare at the screen for another five minutes, anxious for his response but
there’s nothing. Christian is not in the mood to play today.
I sit back. Can I blame him? My poor Fifty was probably frantic, back in the
early hours of this morning. Then a thought occurs to me. He was in his tux when
I woke this morning. What time did he decide to come back from New York? He
normally leaves functions between ten and eleven. Last night at that hour, I was
still at large with Kate.
Did Christian come home because I was out or because of the Jack incident?
If he left because I was out having a good time, he would have had no idea about
Jack, about the police, nothing—until he landed in Seattle. It’s suddenly very important
to me to find out. If Christian came back merely because I was out, then
he was overreacting. My subconscious sucks her teeth, wearing her harpy face.
Okay, I’m glad he’s back, so maybe it’s irrelevant. But still—Christian must have
had one hell of a shock when he landed. No wonder he’s so confused today. His
earlier words come back to me. “I am still fucking mad at you, Anastasia. You’re
making me question my judgment.”
I have to know—did he come back because of Cocktailgate or because of the
fucking lunatic?
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Your Flight
Date: August 26, 2011 13:24
To: Christian Grey
What time did you decide to come back to Seattle yesterday?
Anastasia Grey
Commissioning Editor, SIP
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Your flight
Date: August 26, 2011 13:26
To: Anastasia Grey
Why?
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Your Flight
Date: August 26, 2011 13:29
To: Christian Grey
Call it curiosity.
Anastasia Grey
Commissioning Editor, SIP
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Your flight
Date: August 26, 2011 13:32
To: Anastasia Grey
Curiosity killed the cat.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Huh?
Date: August 26, 2011 13:35
To: Christian Grey
What is that oblique reference to? Another threat?
You know where I am going with this, don’t you?
Did you decide to return because I went out for a drink with my friend after you
asked me not to, or did you return because a madman was in your apartment?
Anastasia Grey
Commissioning Editor, SIP
I stare at my screen. There’s no response. I glance at the clock on my computer.
One forty-five and still no response.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Here’s the thing . . .
Date: August 26, 2011 13:56
To: Christian Grey
I will take your silence as an admission that you did indeed return to Seattle because
I CHANGED MY MIND. I am an adult female and went for a drink with my
friend. I did not understand the security ramifications of CHANGING MY MIND
because YOU NEVER TELL ME ANYTHING. I found out from Kate that security
has, in fact, been stepped up for all the Greys, not just us. I think you generally
overreact where my safety is concerned, and I understand why, but you’re like the
boy crying wolf.
I never have a clue about what is a real concern or merely something that is perceived
as a concern by you. I had two of the security detail with me. I thought both
Kate and I would be safe. Fact is, we were safer in that bar than at the apartment.
Had I been FULLY INFORMED of the situation, I would have taken a different
course of action.
I understand your concerns are something to do with material that was on Jack’s
computer here—or so Kate believes. Do you know how annoying it is to find out my
best friend knows more about what’s going on with you than I do? And I am your
WIFE. So are you going to tell me? Or will you continue to treat me like a child,
guaranteeing that I continue to behave like one?
You are not the only one who is fucking pissed. Okay?
Ana
Anastasia Grey
Commissioning Editor, SIP
I hit send. There—stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Grey. I take a deep
breath. I have worked myself up into quite a rage. Here was I feeling sorry and
guilty for behaving badly. Well, no longer.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Here’s the thing . . .
Date: August 26, 2011 13:59
To: Anastasia Grey
As ever, Mrs. Grey, you are forthright and challenging in e-mail.
Perhaps we can discuss this when you get home to OUR apartment.
You should watch your language. I am still fucking pissed, too.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
Watch my language! I scowl at my computer, realizing this is getting me
nowhere. I don’t respond, but pick up a manuscript recently received from a
promising new author and begin to read.
My meeting with Detective Clark is uneventful. He is less growly than the night
before, maybe because he’s managed some sleep. Or maybe he just prefers working
during the day.
“Thank you for your statement, Mrs. Grey.”
“You’re welcome, detective. Is Hyde in police custody yet?”
“Yes ma’am. He was released from hospital earlier this morning. With what
he’s charged with, he should be with us for a while.” He smiles, his dark eyes
crinkling in the corner.
“Good. This has been an anxious time for my husband and me.”
“I spoke at length with Mr. Grey this morning. He’s very relieved. Interesting
man, your husband.”
You have no idea.
“Yes, I think so.” I offer him a polite smile, and he knows he’s being
dismissed.
“If you think of anything, you can call me. Here’s my card.” He wrestles a
card out of his wallet and hands it to me.
“Thank you, detective. I’ll do that.”
“Good day to you, Mrs. Grey.”
“Good day.”
As he leaves, I wonder exactly what Hyde has been charged with. No doubt
Christian won’t tell me. I purse my lips.
We ride in silence to Escala. Sawyer is driving this time, Prescott at his side, and
my heart grows heavier and heavier as we head back. I know Christian and I are
going to have an almighty fight, and I don’t know if I have the energy.
As I ride in the elevator from the garage with Prescott beside me, I try to marshal
my thoughts. What do I want to say? I think I said it all in my e-mail. Perhaps
he’ll give me some answers. I hope so. I can’t help my nerves. My heart is pounding,
my mouth is dry, and my palms are sweaty. I don’t want to fight. But sometimes
he’s so difficult, and I need to stand my ground.
The elevator doors slide open, revealing the foyer, and it’s once more neat
and tidy. The table is upright and a new vase is in place with a gorgeous array of
pale pink and white peonies. I quickly check the paintings as we wander
through—the Madonnas all look to be intact. The broken foyer door is fixed and
operational once more, and Prescott kindly opens it for me. She’s been so quiet
today. I think I prefer her this way.
I drop my briefcase in the hall and head into the great room. I stop. Holy fuck.
“Good evening, Mrs. Grey,” Christian says softly. He’s standing by the piano,
dressed in a tight black T-shirt, and jeans . . . those jeans—the ones he wore
in the playroom. Oh my. They are over washed pale-blue denim, snug, ripped at
the knee and hot. He saunters over to me, his feet bare, the top button of the jeans
undone, his smoldering eyes never leaving mine.
“Good to have you home. I’ve been waiting for you.”

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