TO HELL AND BACK

BOOK II – CHAPTER I

“Mommy, I’m hungry!” I say looking for her. But mommy isn’t here. “Mommy! Mommy!” Mommy is in the bedroom. I go to the door. I’m not supposed to open it if it is closed. But I’m too hungry. The door is very dirty. It has spots all over it. I reach for the handle. There is noise inside. Mommy is crying. Is she hurt? The man is here. I’m not supposed to go in when the man is in there. But I’m too hungry. I slowly open the door. I peek inside. Mommy is bent over the small bed. She’s holding onto the metal bar. She’s naked. The bad man is behind mommy. He has no shirt, but he has pants on. I only see his back. He’s pushing mommy. Mommy is crying. “Don’t! Please! Stop!” she is saying. “I own you! If I want pussy, I get pussy, you whore!” “The kid’s in the apartment, please!” she begs some more. Oh, I’m the kid. “Mommy,” I say scared. “I’m hungry...” Mommy cries harder. “Jesus Christ!” mommy sounds upset. “Please, let me go! My kid…” she says her voice scared and small.

He yanks his unbuckled belt off his pants very fast and hits mommy with it. Mommy cries out. He’s so angry. He turns back to me and his pee-pee is hanging out. I run to the kitchen. There is no place to hide. I hide under the sink. He finds me. My little hands are shaking. I cover my face with my hands. Maybe he won’t see me. But he always does. He grabs my elbow and pulls me out of the cabinet. My arm scratches. I hit my head under the counter. I’m scared to cry. He hits me harder if I cry. If I make no sound maybe he won’t make me bleed. “You cost me my fun you little shit!” He pulls me and turns me over. He pulls my shorts down, and hits and hits and hits me. It hurts. “Mommy!” I cry out. “Mommy it hurts! Help me mommy!” He remembers his belt in mommy’s room. He gets up, and drags me by my arm to mommy’s room. He tosses me on the bed. He takes the belt and starts hitting me. I scream. It hurts a lot! Mommy curls up on the floor. When I scream she cries more. But mommy doesn’t come to stop him. She just cries louder in the bedroom. He drops me to the floor. He holds his big foot up. Then he kicks me. I roll on the floor. Finally the wall stops me. I silently cry. I cover my mouth to stop the noise. “The bitch and her fucking bastard!” he yells. He turns his back. I hear his footsteps leaving. I’m scared to look. Is he gone? I’m hurt. My head is bleeding a little. Mommy slowly crawls. She grabs the old shirt from the floor. She puts it on. Mommy’s hands are shaking. She doesn’t look at me. She crawls to the bathroom. I keep watching mommy still silently crying. She comes back out of the bathroom. Mommy’s eyes are big, red, and scared. She is holding a small bottle. Mommy won’t look at me. She goes to the kitchen. I slowly follow her. She turns the faucet on. Then she fills the dirty cup with water. She comes to sit on the couch still shaking. Tears are coming from her eyes, but she makes no sound. Just tears. Mommy opens the bottle. She shakes it. She looks at it. She looks at me with her sad eyes. She cries a little more. She doesn’t smile. She holds the bottle up to her mouth. Pours it. She drinks the water. I’m hungry too mommy, I think to myself. But I won’t say it. Mommy is sad. She lies on the couch. “Come here Christian,” she says. I walk to her. “Lay down next to mommy,” mommy says. I climb on the sofa. I lay down next to her. She holds me. I’m hungry. But mommy is holding me. It’s better she’s holding me. Mommy’s eyes cries more. She still makes no sound. She kisses the top of my head. “Goodbye Christian,” she says. Mommy is tired. She’s going to sleep. “Goodnight mommy,” I say. We are going to sleep.

***** I wake up. I push mommy. It’s dark outside. “Mommy, I’m still hungry,” I say. But she won’t wake up. There is the small bottle next to her. She ate from it today. And there is no lid on it. I pick it up. Something rattles inside. A toy? It’s small. Something to eat! I’m too hungry! I drop the small food from the bottle onto my hand. It’s not round. Maybe I can eat it. Its mommy’s food, but maybe mommy won’t mind. I’m so very hungry. I put it in my mouth and chew it. It tastes bad, it’s bitter. I spit it out. “Mommy! I’m thirsty!” But, mommy is too tired and she won’t move. I walk on the sticky green rug. I go to the kitchen. I push the chair to the sink. I am thirsty and my mouth is hot. There is a dirty cup in the sink. It is sticky and has brown spots in it. I pour water from the faucet and drink it. Yuck! I go back to sleep with mommy. Maybe she will feed me when she wakes up. Mommy is cold. I have my blankie. I cover her. I put my head on mommy arm. “My tummy hurts mommy...” I cry. I’m too hungry. My tears fall onto mommy’s shirt. “Can I have something to eat when you wake up mommy? Please mommy.” I cry and cry, but mommy doesn’t hear me. I bolt upright in bed waking up with the sound of my own cries. I look around. It’s dark, but the light from the city of Seattle is seeping from my floor to ceiling windows. I see the Space Needle in the distance with the city lights in the backdrop. Fuck! My nightmares are back. SUNDAY

Miserable, sleepless nights will be my companion again. I get up from the bed. My side table now houses the Blahnik L23 model glider. I worked till later hours to build it. My hands caress over it. A gift from my first love. The first love I fucked up royally yesterday into a breakup! How did we get from nearly making love over the piano to break up in a matter of couple hours? She hates me… The thought of it hitches my breath bringing another choking sound to my throat. I look at the note she left me again. (←Always on My Mind by Michael Buble) “This reminded me a happy time.” Fucking tears betray me. They brim my eyes, threatening to fall. Backs of my hands fly to my eyes as if to hold the tears back. I roughly rub them willing them to go back down… I really fucked up! There is a gaping hole in my soul; something gnawing at me inside. What is that pain I have never experienced? It’s is as if part of me died. Not some other being, or another person, but as if I died. I eye the clock. 3:13 a.m. I can go over to Anastasia’s and beg her forgiveness. How do I live with this pain? I’m being clawed from inside out like a ferocious lion is caged in me and feeding on my heart! What Promethean misery I’m going through! Like my fucking heart grows all over again for that torturous lion to devour and consume, feasting on it, one painful bite at a time! I’ve lost my purpose in life... You love her, you fucking, worthless bastard! Of all the people to fall in love, you fall in love with an angel and drag her right into your personal hell! I play the scene in my head over and over again. Shame is heavy on me. I have taken pleasure in her pain. It turned me on! God, forgive me! Of course she hates me…she asked me to hit her to please me, but she couldn’t take it. Am I not better off being with someone with no emotions, no attachments, and just fucking? Like Pre-Anastasia times? Is she not better off without me? I’m nothing but destruction for her, and Kate said it herself… “She cries all the time since she met you!” So, she was happy before she met me. I have seen a glimpse of that happiness when we were in Georgia, soaring… It was a happy time. If I give her space, some other fucker will slide in my place immediately. I can’t take that! I would simply die, or I kill the fucker! Either way, I’d be destroying us both… Isn’t love giving everything without expecting anything back in return? I’d give my life to Anastasia without thinking. If she needs my heart, I’d cut it out myself without thinking! But knowing that she’s with someone else would destroy me. Every fiber in my being tells me I’m bad for her. She’d be miserable with me. But, I want her…back. She’s mine, and mine alone! I’m a fucking selfish man. I’ll do whatever it takes to get her back. I’ll be whatever she wants me to be. Anastasia loves me. It sinks into my head now and I’ve been so scared when she told me. When she actually told me when she’s awake and conscious.

“I’ve fallen in love with you Christian! I’ve fallen in love with you Christian! I’ve fallen in love with you Christian! I’ve fallen in love with you Christian!” Her declaration plays in my head over and over again. I’ll do anything to get her back and keep her happy. How could I turn my back when I full well know that she loves me, and I her? What’s keeping us apart other than my fuck ups? Dr. Flynn said that it’s once in a lifetime to find someone you love and who loves you back with the same intensity. Once in a lifetime! And I’m not about to screw that! (←I Never Told You by Colbie Caillat) She told me she hated being hit as much as I hated being touched! Why then did I acquiesce with her request being hit? Why didn’t she safeword? I swear to God, when I get her back, I’m not putting her in my Playroom again even if she begged me. I’m vibrating with anger at myself! I should not have let her talk me into spanking her with the belt! I behaved stupidly! I get up from the bed with determination, and take my key to the Playroom. I open the door, and turn my head to the lined up belts and whips and punishment items. I hoist them off the wall one by one. I gather them in my arm like a pile of firewood. I walk back to the living room, and pile them into the huge fireplace. Mrs. Jones isn’t going to like cleaning this up, but I need to burn this shit…cleanse a piece of my soul with fire... Either I burn myself, or I burn these! Everything I do hurt her! I want…no I need to make her happy. My fucking world is collapsing around me. She didn’t want me to touch her. Oh, God! I'm miserable... She hates my touch now! How can I get over that? The fire in the fireplace first licks the belts, whips, and flogs; then liking the taste of them engulfs the leather punishment tools like a hungry monster. I watch them burn, completely detached. With it, I burn part of my past. Offering part of my dark soul in a burnt offering. After fire consumes part of my past sins, I slowly walk to my study. Since Anastasia left me yesterday, pain became my constant companion. The likes of which I have not experienced before. I close my door when I walk into my office. I fire up my laptop. I want to write her my declaration of love, but it will scare her away knowing how fucked up I am, and I will end up hurting her more. I find myself googling my name under the images. I go down the pages, and finally find the picture of me and Anastasia taken on her graduation. I save it. I look at the picture of her. How such a short time ago it was taken, and how she captured me body and soul. That was the day she agreed to be with me though in such a different context than I am now willing to go. What have you done to me Ana? I’m a broken man without you. Aimless...purposeless... How you became my lifeline. I have to do something. It’s not in me to just sit and do nothing while I’m broken, my girlfriend is broken, and we’re broken apart. I’m meaningless without her, but some fucker will make the attempt to get into her life which will be end of his and mine! Fuck! I go to my room to take a quick shower. The shower has too many memories of Anastasia for me to linger in it too long without hurting myself physically and emotionally. I’m at my final limits already. I can’t take too much more. I routinely wash my hair, soap my body, and

purposefully rinse off and come out. My chest is still sore and red, but I welcome the pain. It’s the only real thing that reminds me that Anastasia was part of my life. I get out of the shower and dry myself, and put my sweats on, and my running shoes. When I walk back to the living room, I see Mrs. Jones working in the kitchen. She eyes me warily, seeing my improved demeanor compared to yesterday, she asks, “Would you like to have your breakfast now Mr. Grey?” “Yes. Thank you Mrs. Jones.” “Omelet okay sir?” she asks. “And fruit please,” I respond. My reply makes her look up and give me a genuine smile. “Of course, sir,” she replies in her professional tone. She hands me my coffee. My breakfast is before me within a few minutes. I eat it automatically, not out of want or need, but out of habit. Taylor walks into the living room and takes his usual place by the entry. I turn my head, and with my nod he walks towards me. His eyes are unyielding, not giving anything away. Nothing about me falling apart in his and Mrs. Jones' presence. “Taylor, I’m going to go for a run.” “I’ll suit up sir,” he responds. “No, not necessary. I’m just going to run to Dr. Flynn’s office,” he lifts one eyebrow slightly. But then his face goes back to his usual demeanor as if he tugged the edges of a wrinkled sheet. Nothing out of the ordinary, and everything serene, and calm on his face. “Would you like me to pick you up after sir?” “No.” I need time to be alone. “But, I need something else from you.” “Anything sir,” he says enthusiastically as if normalcy returning to our lives. “I need you to keep an eye on Miss Steele. You said she didn’t look...” I stop there to hide the breaking in my voice, “well, she wasn’t well yesterday given the circumstances.” Taylor nods, his eyes harden, his jaw tightens, and he swallows as if he’s trying to pass a boulder through his

esophagus. That’s all the response he can manage. Yeah! Anastasia got to us all, and even Taylor is fond of her. I suspect he’s mad at me, but he won’t show it. “I want you to check and see how much money she’s got in her account. Since she left her Blackberry here, track her old phone. Being as distraught as she was,” I say, and knowing she’s closed up, and her roommate is away, I don’t want any harm to come to her, “I want to ensure her safety.” Taylor nods. "Check her account periodically to see if she deposits her money. Knowing how stubborn she is, she may decide against depositing the money. I will deal with that when it comes to that point." I have to do something to dull this ache in me. I dismiss Taylor, and collecting Ana’s laptop, Blackberry and car keys, I walk back to my study. I have to show that I can fight for you Anastasia! I pick my Blackberry up, and dial Dr. Flynn. He answers after the third ring, groggy with sleep. “Hello?” “John!” I say unable to hide the distress in my voice. That one word wakes him up completely. “What’s wrong?” “Anastasia left me yesterday, and I think I’m dying!” “Let’s talk. What happened?” “I don’t wanna talk on the phone. 20 minutes, your office,” I say firmly. He pauses, “one second,” he says and asks his wife something in a muffled voice. Then he comes back up, “okay, see you in 20!” I hang up. I run to Dr. Flynn’s office. The pain when Anastasia left me yesterday was a shock to my body. It came with such a force that it jolted me out of my physical body. Today, I’m settled back in my body, and I’m experiencing the pain with every single sting, hurt, and agony. When I come to John’s office, he’s not there yet. I pace back and forth in front of the door. If the stone was carpet, I’d have worn out a trail on it. John makes it to his office three minutes late, takes in the condition of my face. I notice he has his jeans and t-shirt on. It’s Sunday, and this is an emergency call. As soon as he opens the door, I walk in. “Do come in Christian,” he says in a semi-mocking voice, but I feel the smile behind it. I head directly into his office. John walks back to his leather chair, indicating me to sit at the sofa. I sit, but I get up, restless. He eyes me.

“Christian, I think...” he says but I cut him off. “John, I’m in purgatory!” that shocks him, both his eyebrows shut up, and looks at me as if I’ve grown antlers. Unable to find the right word, he settles for, “do tell.” I pace the room, and stop right before him. “Anastasia was with me last night. I was so excited, and completely relieved to see her after she got back from Georgia. In fact, the whole shit with Leila has kept me preoccupied, and I wasn’t operating on all pistons...” I start pacing again exasperated, I get back to the sofa, exhausted. “I was ready to make concessions for her, John. But, one thing led to another, and she rolled her eyes at me, and I would spank her for it. She knew that. And she made a game out of it. I started chasing her playfully and she finally said that she feels the same way about being punished as I feel about being touched! This revelation was horrifying for me...” I say and get back up to pacing. “How did that make you feel?” asks John. I have to check on the Shrink 101 manual if this question is the first thing they teach them. But, when I turn to look at him with exasperation, I notice that he actually is leaning over and totally engrossed in what I’m saying, as if to say ‘then what happened?’ Whatever I end up revealing to him, he always manages to keep the ‘I’ve heard it all,’ demeanor. This is different. This is something he hasn’t heard before. “It knocked the breath out of me, and I disgusted myself! But then Anastasia said, it’s not quite as bad as I felt...you know about touching. She said she was ambivalent about it. She just doesn’t like to be punished, but if it’s for fun, she doesn’t mind. She said it depended on the context...” I give out a deep sigh. John makes an impatient sign gesturing with his right hand with the pen as if to say ‘go on.’ “But then she said, ‘show me. show me how bad it can hurt.’ I didn’t want to do it at first! It's like saying 'here's your favorite cocktail! Show me how much you love it!' to a recovering alcoholic. I asked her repeatedly if this is what she wanted. And,” I groan raising my head heavenward as if howling, “I finally gave in, and I spanked her with a belt six times. She didn’t stop me, she didn’t safeword, and once it was over, she didn’t want to do anything with me!" I say in one fast, exasperated, tired breath. "I think she just simply hates me now...” I say sagging like a defeated man. Defeated by life, defeated by love. “Do you really think she hates you, or is it that particular aspect, that particular need you have that she hates?” “She looked at me with loathsome eyes, and it would have been better if she hit me, shot me, stabbed me, even killed me... anything but that look, John! I can’t get it out of my head! She

looked broken. I’ve broken her. I went after her, but I think if she had the strength she would have pushed me. I spent the rest of the dawn holding her, asking her forgiveness, and praying that she would stop hating me. But what she revealed later was worse than hate...” I say sagging even further. “What did she reveal?” Dr. Flynn asked with eyebrows shooting up as if this the climax of 'Best of Freud' the miniseries, his voice an octave higher, realizing he cleared his throat and gestured with his hand. “She said she’s fallen in love with me,” I say with a small voice, completely undeserving of her regard. “Why do you feel undeserving of her love?” John asks genuinely. “Look at it John! I make her miserable with what I want to do to her. I do want to punish, but, I think that changed. I will stay away from anything that would drive her away from me. I burned all the belts, and whips and floggers this morning in the fireplace!” I could have knocked Dr. Flynn with a feather; he just sagged back into his seat looking at me agape. “You did what?” he sounds like he is squeaking. “I burned them, and burn part of my past with it. I’m ready to sort my shit out for Ana.” Speechless is not a word that I could associate Dr. Flynn. He always has a professional opinion, or has his shrink quips. He stares at me for a long moment and finally speaks. “Christian, Anastasia achieved more progress in you in the course of in the last few weeks, than I did in the last two years!” “Look where I am now. I’ve screwed it up royally! I used to think of her like the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’, invincible, you know... But I’m too damn tainted! I destroyed her! I took her love, and almost shoved it to her face. I got scared John! I’m undeserving of her love!” I look up as I’m spiraling down again. I sag back down, onto the floor this time. “Christian!” utters Dr. Flynn as he shoots up to his feet. “Tell me how to fix this John!” I plead with him on the floor, looking up, a broken man. “I want her back. I’m ready to do whatever it takes to make it work...” Dr. Flynn slowly walks out of his seat. He walks around and grabs one of the pillows and casually tosses it onto the floor.

“I can’t see you on the floor... Are you asking me this as your friend, or as your shrink?” he asks as he lowers himself to the floor near me, but finding the seating option uncomfortable. He shifts. “As you know, I’m both for you,” he says. I look up. “I need both, John” I reply. “Well then,” he says, “how about we begin with finding more comfortable seating? I too work out, but it appears, it’s not as often as you do. Shall I sit back in my own seat, while you occupy the couch, Christian? I really am not good at yoga squats,” he says wincing. A small smile creeps on my face, but disappears before reaching my eyes. I scoots myself back to the sofa, and locating it with my hands I rise up and sit back on it. Dr. Flynn feels a little better with that concession. He gets up, and picks the pillow up from the floor, and goes back to his seat. John looks at me intently. “I’m asking this question as your shrink and your friend now, and I’ve asked this question before: What are you willing to give up for her? What are you willing to do?” “Whatever it takes!” “It’s not specific, Christian. I’m asking again: What are your concessions? You better get all your ducks in a row if you want to work this out, and you have better be determined to see it through,” he says with firm eyes. “I’m willing go only vanilla if she so desires. I’m willing, hell, I’m scared to go near my Playroom...I’ll give all that shit up if she wants to! No punishment...nothing. I’ll avoid anything that will distance her from me like it's poison!” “Okay... Now, this is the question. Will you resent her for distancing you from the things you’re accustomed, you like, and desire? I want you to think this one hard Christian!” he says looking at me intently. “Because if you’re solely doing this to get her back, you will destroy not only what you could have with her, but perhaps Anastasia as well... irrevocably. In order for this relationship to work, you truly must be a changed man. This is your chance of achieving a personal metamorphosis, from an adolescent to an adult, emotionally. ” I look up at John. “I died a thousand times since she left me! I feel like there is a gaping hole in my chest." I show him with my hands fisted digging into my chest, my eyes wide. I look at him pleading. "If you have a magic potion to heal it, to get her out of my system, and not because I don’t want to her love, or I don’t want to love her back, but because, I’m so fucked up, I don’t want to taint her, give it to me!

“What you say I’m accustomed, like and desire... I realized... when she looked at me loathing...they were nothing! They meant nothing anymore. Disappeared. Poof!" I make a gesture of disappearing with my hands. "I need her more than my next breath! “So, you’re concerned that all of a sudden, I’d drop Anastasia and go for that shit in my past? Maybe I deserve that scrutiny. Will that need be gone? Maybe not. But I sure as hell will learn to take the temptation out of my way.” I look at my hands, then fix my gaze on the table lamp. It helps to look at the light if you force yourself not to cry. I’ve mastered that. But, my emotional cup is overflowing, my levees are broken. I violently rub my eyes, so they don’t betray me here. Take a deep breath, Grey! I tell myself. “So, you’re asking me, ‘what entails anything?’ to keep her with me. Here’s my answer: It’s exactly just that; anything and everything. Because, I’m in love with her John!(←I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston) Madly, soul deep, irrevocably! I love her more than my own life! She is my life.. She’s my fucking soul. I’ve come alive with her. I forget what a piece a shit I am when she’s around me. I’ll do anything to protect her, take care of her, love her, and I’ll compromise any way and shape she wants me to. But she won’t believe me.” John sighs. “First love,” and smiles. “Well, I can help you with that. I’m so glad you finally realized what I have known all along.” “But, she hates me.. she loves me too. She hates the way I am, and she wouldn’t even let me touch her. She wouldn’t let me give her a goodbye kiss!” I say with grief. “How did she look she left?” “Broken, hurt. I inquired about her from Taylor. He took her home. He said she sobbed all the way home, and wouldn’t let him help her. He said she just stumbled away,” I say my gaze fixed in distance. I feel myself leaving my body again. “Christian! Focus!” John snaps. “John! I’m dying every day!” “Here’s your chance to rectify that situation. Can you give her a few days? This way, she’ll get a chance to sort her feelings out, and you won’t scare her away. Then talk to her. Really talk. Get all your ducks in a row, find out what exactly went wrong aside from spanking of course.” I know what went wrong. It’s the whole contract thing. That’s what went wrong. A contractual relationship doesn’t work when two people are in love. I put her in a relationship with boundaries... Well, I’ve come full circle. Fuck the paperwork! I’m resolute and determined. I rise in my seat. “Thank you John,” I say.

“Sure,” he says. “Any news about Leila?” “Not yet. But, I’ll call you as soon as we locate her.” I leave John’s office resolute, but still with a heavy heart. How do get through the few days I should give Anastasia. I’m a fucking wreck! But that's what the doctor prescribed. I run back home. Taylor is waiting by the door, nervous. I eye him. He looks at me wary, concerned. But he says nothing. “Taylor!” “Yes, sir,” he responds. “Uhm. I need your help with something. Meet me in my study in thirty minutes,” I say. This’ll give me enough time to shower and get dressed. “Of course, sir.” In less than thirty minutes, I shower, dress up in my white linen shirt and black jeans. I take a bottle of water and walk to my study. Taylor appears immediately and follows me closing the door behind him, turns to look at me expectantly. I take a deep breath, and open my mouth. Then close it again. I open it once more. “Taylor, which florist is the best one in Seattle?” Taylor’s eyes widen, this is the most shocked I’ve seen him. “Florist, sir?” “Yes, florist. I want to send roses to Miss Steele for tomorrow to congratulate her on her first day at work.” “I can do that for you sir,” he responds. “I know you can, Taylor,” I say exasperated. “But, I want to know how to do it, so I can do it for her,” I say. He tries to hide a smile, but is unsuccessful, finally reigning in her facial expressions, he dons his impassive look. We surf the web for thirty minutes and we narrow down to three different florists. I call my assistant Andrea along the way, and she too suggests that she can send it flowers for me to its destination. I have to reprimand her too. “Just tell me who the best florist is, Andrea!” scolding

her and then I read the names of the three shops Taylor and I picked. She tells me the name of the best one, and I hang up. “Okay. We know who the best florist is. Now the meanings of roses.” “Meanings sir?” asks Taylor puzzled. “Man! You’ve been married before! Haven’t you ever sent roses to your wife with some special meaning attached?” “Oh!” Taylor says finally the penny dropping. “I’m not sure, but Mrs. Jones might be more knowledgeable on that since women are more focused on meanings of things. I can get her if you like,” he says. “Ok, get Mrs. Jones.” A few minutes later, Taylor and Mrs. Jones walks back in. He must have explained to her, and she has a small sparkle in her eyes, but her demeanor is ever professional. “What sort of meaning are you intending to convey sir?” she asks. I take a deep breath. “New beginnings, innocence, reverence, honor, purity. Is there a flower that says all of those, or do I have to get a whole bunch of them to mean it that way?” I ask. Mrs. Jones actually smiles this time. “There is only one kind of flower that says all of that,” she says, and my eyes brighten for the first time since yesterday. “Which one?” I ask a little more enthusiastically. “White roses. Long stem white roses would be best. They also mean ‘young love’ sir,” she says, and though I frown, I can’t keep a smile off my face. “Thank you Mrs. Jones,” I say dismissing her. “Anytime, sir,” she says and walks out. I turn to Taylor. “Okay, how do we do this?” “Do what sir?” “I want to place the order for her!” I say frustrated.

“Oh yes, we call the florist, tell them we have a future delivery for tomorrow, unless you want it delivered to her work of course,” he says, and I cut him off. “No, I want it delivered to her house,” I say. “Then, we have to make sure that they deliver it to her house at a particular time. They’ll walk you through it sir, and then we pay them through credit card.” “Easy enough, I can do that,” I say. “Thank you, Taylor,” I say dismissing him. He nods, and I don’t miss the grin as he turns away to walk out. I call the florist, and place an order for two dozens of long stem roses to be delivered tomorrow after 5:30 p.m. I tell them to check every half hour if she’s not home until the delivery is accomplished. Then I have to convince the woman on the other line that I’m actually Christian Grey because she doubts the name on my credit card. She says “they have assistants to do that for them!” When we finally square that problem away, that I am in fact, the Christian Grey! I make sales clerk type a note in for her. Not too personal, but not too detached either. Just to let her know that she’s in my mind.

Congratulations on your first day at work. I hope it went well. And thank you for the glider. That was very thoughtful. It has pride of place on my desk. Christian
I hope she responds. I hope she understands. I hope she still loves me. I hope she forgives. I hope... Wasn’t it in a movie someplace it was said that ‘Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.’ So, I just hope. Next, I call Ros. “Ros, you have priorities tomorrow,” I start as soon as she answers the phone. “Yes, sir. What are they?”

“We’re taking over SIP!” “Uhm.. what? What is SIP?” “It’s a publishing company.” “Is it for sale?” “No. It’s not.” “Is it struggling financially? Would it be a good buy?” “Not a clue.” “Ok, Mr. Grey... Christian, it sounds like we started in the middle of a conversation that you must have started sometime, and I caught up only in the middle. Why are we buying this company exactly?” “Ros! There is a reason why my company, is NOT a public company. Because, I like to have my own way. I want this company because it’s getting stagnant. It could be beneficial later for us. It needs to branch out, and so do we. You will get it for me, even if we have to do a hostile takeover! Then I want all the employee files in upper management, new hires, and everything in-between. It will better be done on Monday. I want everything ready. Offer them a friendly takeover on Monday. If not, I want all of the stocks to be purchased Tuesday. I want this to be over with this week! Do I make myself clear?” I say through gritted teeth. Boss Christian is back with a vengeance. “Perfectly sir. I’ll have the papers drawn up today.” “Whatever it takes, do it!” I bark, and hang up. I will do anything to protect what is mine. Anastasia is mine! Baby, you haven’t seen me fight for you yet! It’ll be spectacular! Because I don’t give up... not when I know you love me, and I love you. MONDAY My post-breakup but pre-fight day 2 rolls in with full swing. Ros calls me late afternoon. “Mr. Grey, we’ve presented the offer to the SIP. Although we’ve offered them more than what their stocks are worth, the company was reluctant to sell. I’m moving into Phase Two.”

“If they don’t agree, let them know that I will buy. every. single. stock available and unavailable. Every. Single. One. Do you get me Ros? I want it all! Not one public stock!” I say enunciating. “Yes, sir!” she says and hangs up. A small company like SIP will not stand in my way to protect Anastasia. Yesterday I asked the florist to have Anastasia sign for her flowers, and only her, then have the confirmation sent to me the same day. I'm waiting for its arrival like a shipment of gold! Taylor is ready to take me home after work. “No Taylor, take me to the Apple store.” “What kind of apples sir?” he asks confused. “Not ‘an’ apple, Taylor. The Apple store, as in Macs, iPod, iPad.” I see Taylor going crimson for misunderstanding. “Of course, sir,” he says. I want my apology to Anastasia to be sincere, and personal to the highest extent. After shopping for two hours, I purchase two iPads, the newest available; one for Anastasia, and one for me. I’m not always good with words. Sometimes I say things, and put my enormous foot in my mouth which of course would require me to wash it down with a gallon of water! But music had always been a way to express my sorrow, perhaps it can also express my love, and I intend to do that for her with this personal apology. When we get home, Mrs. Jones informs me that a courier delivered an envelope. I open it as if it’s the most precious cargo. It contains Anastasia’s signature for the flower delivery. I hold it to my chest, clutching it like a lifeline as I walk to my study while the fucking tears force their way to my eyes threatening to fall, and I grit my teeth, put my impassive face on, and make myself scarce from the view of my employees. ***** I’ve been sleeping with Anastasia’ laptop, Blackberry and now her iPad in my company as I will deliver them back to her soon as I give her a couple more days, if I don’t die in the process that is. Life is fucking hell, and I miss her terribly! My days have been torturous since Anastasia left. I can’t think anything besides her. I can’t focus. Every place I turn, I see her face. I’m in perpetual night, a horrible place to be, as if she left with my inner light. I can see nothing! I have no pleasure in life, and the gaping hole in me is only growing! I have no sleep, and if I do sleep I wake up after I’m tortured with my nightmares.

I have taken my glider to my work, and it is secured in a nice casing. I took a picture of it yesterday so I can make it a part of my apology to Anastasia. I put that image as the opening background on the iPad, and compiled a selection of songs that reminded me of us. What a simple word that is, “us”, yet with so much force in it. I put the picture that appeared in Seattle Times during her graduation as the main background after she slides the lock open. The playlist I’ve complied should remind her everything we’ve done together. There’s Thomas Tallis, where I flogged and fucked her with her choice of brown plaited riding crop. The Witchcraft. We danced around the great room to that song, and I have already fallen for her, just was too stupid to realize. Bach’s Marcello piece. She’s heard me play that several times. Jeff Buckley: Lover, You Should’ve Come Over: The lyrics, just speak for me. (←Lover, You
Should've Come Over) I hope she listens. I hope she forgives me.

Looking out the door I see the rain fall upon the funeral mourners Parading in a wake of sad relations as their shoes fill up with water And maybe I’m too young to keep good love from going wrong But tonight you're on my mind so you never know Broken down and hungry for your love but no way to feed it Where are you tonight, child you know how much i need it Too young to hold on and too old to just break free and run Sometimes a man gets carried away, when he feels like he should be having his fun And much too blind to see the damage he's done Sometimes a man must awake to find that really, he has no-one So I'll wait for you..... and I'll burn Will i ever see your sweet return Oh will I ever learn Oh lover, you should've come over 'cause it's not too late Lonely is the room, the bed is made, the open window lets the rain in Burning in the corner is the only one who dreams he had you with him My body turns and yearns for a sleep that won't ever come

It's never over, my kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder It's never over, all my riches for her smiles when i slept so soft against her It's never over, all my blood for the sweetness of her laughter It's never over, she's the tear that hangs inside my song forever Well maybe I'm just too young To keep good love from going wrong Oh.... lover, you should've come over 'cause it's not too late Well I feel too young to hold on And I'm much too old to break free and run Too deaf, dumb, and blind to see the damage I've done Sweet lover, you should've come over Oh, love well I'm waiting for you Lover, you should've come over Cause it's not too late I then select, Snow Patrol’s “Just Say Yes,” because I want her to really, truly forgive me. But, knowing how fucked up I am, it’s also my plea to her to give me a little room to make mistakes which is why I added, Nelly Furtado’s - Try. Enigma’s Principles of Lust also provided both of us so much pleasure. The Scientist by Coldplay, and finally to make her smile, “Possession,” by Sarah McLachlan. But the crown jewel of all, and she’ll notice it if she knows me well is ← Every Breath You Take, by the Police. Knowing how much she loves the British Classics, I purchase her the British Library app so she can read them anytime she wants. There’s of course “Good Food” app, and the standard apps like the news, and the weather. My heart constricts with fear that it may not be enough for saying “I’m sorry” in all the ways I can, but I just hope. If she hears me out, maybe she can find it in her heart to forgive me. TUESDAY Before I leave for work in the morning, Ros calls. “Sir, I don’t think SIP is resistant to a friendly takeover. We have everything ready for the hostile takeover. What are your orders, sir?” “Do it!” I say firmly. “I want it done swiftly.”

“As you wish sir. I’ll inform you of the progress later today, and if all goes as planned, we can be signing tomorrow.” “Fine, let me know when you are done,” I say before hanging up. ****** On the way to GEH, I ask Taylor if he’s been keeping an eye on Anastasia. “Yes, sir,” he replies. “She went to work yesterday, and then came home after leaving on a bus,” he says, and my heart constricts anew. It’s all my fault. But I press on. “What else?” “She hasn’t come out of her place after she went in.” “What about the bank activity?” I ask. “She hasn’t deposited her money sir. She still only has about a thousand Dollars,” I groan inwardly. “Keep checking on her then,” I order. “Yes, sir.” Ros calls an hour after I'm at work. “Sir, everything is done. They’re not happy, but that’s the nature of a hostile takeover. We ought to be able to sign papers today at about 2:00 p.m. Of course, we’d be imposed with a gag order for at least four weeks until everything finalizes and registers.” Tick tock. Tick tock. The fucking clock is moving, and my heart is combusting as I count the days I’ve been separated from Anastasia. Four fucking days! I’m fidgety, angry, and nervous, and fucking love struck! “What about the employee files I asked for? Have you sent them? And the server information?” I ask. “Your IT guy should receive the server information within the hour, and the company doesn’t have a whole a lot of employees, so the employee files shouldn’t be too hard to get to you. Give me an hour!”

“You have 60 minutes Ros! Tick tock!” “Yes, sir,” she says hurried, and I press the off button on my Blackberry. When the employee files are delivered to my inbox, my hands shake. I go through the names, and come to the letter S in the list. “Anastasia Rose Steele” I stare at her name, and the small picture used for her employee identification. Her all too wide eyes, and an unsmiling face. Almost sad, and forlorn. “I miss you baby,” I say to the picture. I really miss you! (←Skipping Stone by Amos Lee) When I check who her boss is, I see the name, “Jack Hyde.” I immediately dislike the man. “Let’s see who the hell you are Mr. Jack Hyde!” I mutter under my breath. I find his file. An Ivy League graduate frat boy. 32 years old maybe. Sharp blue eyes. I dial Welch’s number. “Welch, Grey. I need you to do a thorough background check.” “Name?” “Jack Hyde. Commissioning Editor at the SIP Publishing company.” “How fast do you need it sir?” “I needed it last Monday!” I say, indicating he should be lighting a fire under his ass. “I’ll hop to it then sir. I’ll get back to you within the day whatever I can gather, and I’ll keep searching for more, and give you an extensive one as well. Would that work for you sir?” “Fine. Just don’t keep me waiting!” I say before I hang up. **** By the time I get back to Escala, it’s already 6:00 p.m. But I have already signed the takeover papers, and Anastasia Rose Steele is officially working for me, and much to my relief, now under my protection. I go to my room to change, but I hear Anastasia’s Blackberry ringing at my bedside table. I go and look at who the caller is, and he receives a snort from me. “Hello Mr. Rodriguez,” I answer the phone.

“Oh, Mr. Grey?” he says surprised after a short pause. “Anastasia isn’t available. How can I help you?” “Oh,” he says pausing. “I was wondering if Ana was coming to my gallery opening Thursday.” “I don’t know,” I say without giving anything away. “I’ll let her get back to you on that. She’ll let you know.” “Thanks man!” he says awkwardly. “No problem.” I say hanging up. I know that she hasn’t deposited her check, so she doesn’t have a car. I start tapping my fingers again like the four riders of the apocalypse in a nervous gesture. “Anastasia Steele, you are mine baby!” (←Umbrella by Rihanna) I hope someone else hasn’t moved in on her. I walk back out of my bedroom forgetting what I was there for, and call for Taylor. “Yes, sir?” he replies. “What has Miss Steele done today?” “She went to work on a bus, and got off at around 5:30 p.m. and went back home on the bus again, and hasn’t left her apartment building since.” "Are you sure?” “Yes, sir, I have someone on a stakeout, keeping an eye 24/7.” “Okay, that’s all,” I reply.

****** WEDNESDAY Frustration is paramount! I’m ready to bulldoze and punch anyone on my way, and short with everyone. The lion inside me has grown in bounds within the past few days tormenting me, and ripping my heart apart, day in and day out.

I receive my preliminary report on Anastasia’s boss. What I see is disturbing. He’s accomplished, was successful in school with a scholarship, and has a sealed record. He has been changing assistants every few months. Welch put a note saying that he’s going to look into that, because that usually means he’s either a very unhappy boss, picky, and disturbing, or he’s harassing them. Either way, it can give Anastasia problems. Ana still hasn’t acknowledged the roses I sent her. Does she know the meaning of white roses? Maybe she doesn’t, but Mrs. Jones thinks that women know those things. Ana, is not an ordinary woman. I hope she understand what I’m trying to say. I put myself a time limit when I can send her first e-mail about her friend’s opening. Since she already asked me to come with her, and I agreed, this would be a safe topic to write her about. My hands are shaking as I type and I have to delete what I wrote because of repeated misspelling errors. ______________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: Tomorrow Date: June 8 2011 14:04 To: Anastasia Steele Dear Anastasia Forgive this intrusion at work. I hope that it’s going well. Did you get my flowers? I note that tomorrow is the gallery opening for your friend’s show, and I’m sure you’ve not had time to purchase a car, and it’s a long drive. I would be more than happy to take you – should you so wish. Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. ______________________________________ I hit send, while sending personal supplications “Please say ‘yes’ baby! Please say ‘yes!’" I look at my monitor blankly. No answer yet. Will she tell me to go to hell? Not to bother her again? That she hates me? I can’t handle the suspense! Please don’t hate me, baby! Please accept it! Please come back to me! My intercom buzzes. “What?” I snap, and I can feel Andrea flinch on the intercom. “Mr. Welch is here sir,” she says.

“Send him in,” I respond flat. He walks in, and gives me the spiel on Hyde. He’s had so many assistants. And none stuck, or remained in the company, or promoted for another position. Welch went to interview couple of them, and they had nothing but praises for their former boss. “So, he’s a good guy? Just picky?” “Well, sir. My gut says, no. Because what both the girls said were almost identical, scripted, no thought process. That makes me think that they were coaxed into that speech should anyone ever ask about him.” “Harassment," I say automatically. “Plausible. I have to search a lot more than just two ex-assistants though.” By the time Welch leaves, I still haven’t gotten an answer from Anastasia. I watch the monitor, as if Anastasia is going to pop out of it. Finally an answer dings and I sigh with relief. _____________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Tomorrow Date: June 8 2011 14:24 To: Christian Grey Hi Christian Thank you for the flowers; they are lovely. Yes, I would appreciate a ride. Thank you. Anastasia Steele Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP ______________________________________ Her response, and the prospect of seeing her makes me so happy, I could do a cartwheel here in my office! I type another response to find out when I can pick her up.

_____________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: Tomorrow Date: June 8 2011 14:26 To: Anastasia Steele Dear Anastasia What time shall I pick you up? Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. ______________________________________ Time starts ticking again when she’s not answering. Tick tock. Tick tock. “Ana, please talk to me!” I say to my monitor. ______________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Tomorrow Date: June 8 2011 14:31 To: Christian Grey Jose’s show starts at 7:30. What time would you suggest? Anastasia Steele Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP ______________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: Tomorrow Date: June 8 2011 14:33 To: Anastasia Steele Dear Anastasia Portland is some ways away. I shall collect you at 5:45. I look forward to seeing you. Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

______________________________________ Her answering reply is short. But, it’s at least a beginning. ______________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Tomorrow Date: June 8 2011 14:37 To: Christian Grey See you then. Anastasia Steele Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP ______________________________________ My spirit sees a glimpse of hope for the first time in a week. I’m going to see my Ana tomorrow! This is my chance to redeem myself. THURSDAY The day can’t go fast enough. Nothing I do is speeding the day up. No activity, no business, no problem is big enough for me to forget her or to reach the end of the day to finally see her! My mind is locked on Anastasia. I call Taylor to brief him at work, although we’ve been through this yesterday. “Is the pilot scheduled?” “Yes sir. He’ll get Charlie Tango ready. Do the pre-flight checks, and have her running by the time we arrive. I will drop you and Miss Steele off at the helipad after collecting her from work, and drive the pilot to Portland and take him to the helipad there, so he can bring Charlie Tango back. Then, I will collect you around 8:30 or 9:00 whenever wish sir in Portland, then, drive you and Miss Steele back home.” “Fine. Let’s do this,” I say under my breath. I don’t know whether I heard or imagined Taylor saying, “go get her sir!” Surely, not! I’m too wound up! I leave work by 5:00 p.m. and we arrive at SIP around 5:20 p.m. The last 25 minutes of me waiting to see my girl is torturous. It’s like a marathon runner who ran the 25 miles, and on the last mile he feels the weariness in his bones, but keeps pushing. My gaze is fixed at the door of SIP. Taylor exists the car as soon as Anastasia emerges from the door. Some fucker is opening the door for her! Another fucking suitor! Taylor opens the rear

door of the car, and I lay my eyes on my love for the first time in nearly a week, and the sight of her makes me I’m furious! “When did you last eat?” I snap at her as she slides in the car beside me. "Hello, Christian. Yes, it’s nice to see you, too,” she says making me angrier. “I don’t want your smart mouth now. Answer me,” I say with blazing eyes. “Um...I had a yogurt at lunchtime. Oh-and a banana,” she responds evasively. Taylor slips back into the driver’s seat, and starts the car, pulling into the traffic. That fucker who opened the door is standing out by the entry door of SIP and waving. Anastasia’s waves him back. “Who’s that?” I snap my patience running out. “My boss,” she says, peeking at me from under her lashes. I’m so angry, my lips are a tout hard line. The bastard, Jack Hyde! I'll deal with that later... “Well? Your last meal?” “Christian, that really is none of your concern,” she murmurs. Oh, how little do you know baby! “Whatever you do concerns me. Tell me,” I plead. She groans in frustration, and rolls her eyes heavenward; my eyes narrow on her. She finally first stifles a smile, and a giggle burst out of her beautiful lips. My face softens at her reaction, as I feel a smile creep on my lips. “Well?” I ask, in a softer voice. “Pasta alla vongole, last Friday,” she whispers, and I’m shattered once again. I close my eyes both fury, and regret sweep my face. I should have contacted her much sooner. She’s upset and starving herself. She’s lost too much weight, and her eyes are sunken! “You look like you’ve lost at least five pounds, possibly more since then. Please eat, Anastasia,” I scold. She stares down at the knotted fingers on her lap feeling reprimanded. I shift and turn towards her, to get a better look at her, to assess her well-being. “How are you?” I ask in a soft, but worried voice.

Her face falls, her shoulders sag as if she’s buried under the load of the universe, crushed. Swallows hard. “If I told you I was fine, I’d be lying,” she says. I inhale sharply. She has been feeling the same way I have! “Me, too!” I murmur, and reach over and clasp her hand. “I miss you,” I say softly. She looks at our connected hands the same sweet jolt going through between us. “Christian, I –“she say, I cut her. Ana, please. We need to talk.” Her face falls again. “Christian, I... please... I’ve cried so much,” she whispers. “Oh, baby, no,” I tug her hand, unbuckle her, and hold her in my embrace where I have wished her to be since the second she left me. I wrap my arms around her tight, and bury my nose in her hair, inhaling her scent. This is heaven... She’s my heaven, and I had to harrow hell to get here. “I’ve missed you so much, Anastasia” I breathe, and she finally melts into my embrace resting her head against me. ‘I love you! I love you! I love you!’ my heart whispers, my soul intact, but my mouth silent. (←My Love by Sia)

YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE I EVER WANT
BOOK II – CHAPTER II

(Portland Printz image) The minute I start holding Anastasia, I feel home, the gaping hole mended itself, my soul is intact. I allow myself to feel the connection, and indulge in this moment. I want her to forgive me; I will make her forgive me. (←Please Forgive Me by Bryan Adams) I have never backed down from a challenge because it was hard; and I have achieved many impossibles. This is my chance to make this relationship right. I have to be shooting on all pistons. The energy, the usual electricity jolting through our connection is pulling me to her like Icarus to sun, and basking me in desire. I can see that she feels the same way. Though I now realize that I’ve hurt her, physically and emotionally, this is my day to right my ways. A few minutes later Taylor pulls to a stop at the curb when we arrive the building housing the helipad. “Come,” I shift Anastasia off my lap, “we’re here,” I say. She glances up at me, questioning. “Helipad – it’s on the top of this building,” I say as I glance towards the building by the way of explanation. Taylor opens the door to the SUV, and Anastasia slides out. I come around the car from the other side, and notice Anastasia blushing to some exchange that must have gone between her and Taylor. I know Taylor is fond of her and was worried about her. I look at Taylor quizzically, and he stares back at me impassively, revealing nothing. Yep, he is protective of her as well. “Nine?” I say to Taylor.

“Yes, sir.” I nod, and turn and lead Anastasia through the double doors into the grandiose foyer. My fingers are curled around Anastasia’s possessively, not willing to let them go. We’re drawn to each other once again, and I know she feels the same way as I do by the way she's stealing gazes, and squeezing my fingers back and the longing in her eyes. We reach the elevators and I press the call button. She peeks up at me, and I give her a smile. When the elevator arrives to the ground floor, the doors ding open, and I release her hand to usher her in. When the doors close again, Anastasia peeks up at me once more. I glance down at her, my eyes alive. Here we are in the captivity of this pull, this electricity between us making the air palpable. It’s pulsing, vibrating, pulling like magnets, and drawing us together. Anastasia gasps, “Oh my,” basking in the intensity of this visceral, primal attraction we have between us. It has never left, but intensified with our separation. “I feel it, too,” I say, my eyes clouded and intense with passion, desire and love for her. It’s pooling and radiating through my body. I clasp her hand and graze her knuckles with my thumb. I know she desires me right now because her body is so attuned to mine, we become as if we’re one entity. She clenches her hands and shifts her legs her body seeking relief. Of course, she starts biting her lip, increasing the desire in me for her. “Please don’t bite your lip, Anastasia,” I whisper. She gazes up at me, releasing her lip. Her eyes are bright with primal desire, longing and want. Here and now, in the elevator. It’s the same look, the same pull as the Heathman’s elevator. “You know what it does to me,” I murmur. Her lips part as if this is a declaration she has not expected. Something brightens in her eyes. Hope? I realize something... She’s addicted to me too! (←Addicted by Saving Abel) But all too soon, the elevator reaches its destination and the doors open, breaking the spell between us. We’re on the rooftop. It’s windy, and though she has a jacket on, she shivers. I put my arm around her, pulling her to my side protected, and we hurry across where Charlie Tango stands in the center of the helipad with its rotor blades slowly spinning. My pilot Stephan is standing in his tall, blond, square-jawed physique and his dark suit. He leaps out of Charlie Tango, and ducking low, runs towards us. I shake hands with him. I shout above the noise of the rotors. “Ready to go, sir. She’s all yours!” “All checks done?” “Yes, sir.” “You’ll collect her around eight thirty?” “Yes, sir.” “Taylor’s waiting for you out front.” “Thank you, Mr. Grey. Have a safe flight to Portland. Ma’am,” he says saluting Anastasia. Without releasing her hand, I nod, duck down, and lead her to the helicopter door. Once I settle her inside, I buckle her firmly into the harness, cinching the straps tight. I give her a knowing look and my secret smile to Anastasia. She simply looks gorgeous in the harness.

“This should keep you in place,” I murmur. “I must say I do like this harness on you. Don’t touch anything.” I run my index finger down her cheek as she flushes crimson before I hand her the headphones. How I missed touching her. She scowls at me. She’s tightly strapped in and barely able to move in her seat. I sit in my seat and buckle myself in, and then I run through the preflight checks. I put on my headphones and flip a switch to speed up the rotors which sound deafening. I turn and gaze at Anastasia. “Ready, baby?” I say through the headphones. “Yes,” is her reply. I grin at her knowing that she’s right here, with me is immensely comforting. Tonight is the night, baby. I’ll be winning you. I have all my cards lined up ready to spread them out, and I am hiding my Royal Flush; I have my poker face. I will not be losing tonight. (←Poker Face by Lady Gaga) “Sea-Tac tower, this is Charlie Tango – Tango Echo Hotel, cleared for takeoff to Portland via PDX. Please confirm, over.” The air traffic controller answers, issuing me instructions. We’re ready to takeoff. “Roger, tower, Charlie Tango set, over and out.” I flip two switches, grasp the stick, and we rise slowly and smoothly into the evening Seattle sky. “We’ve chased the dawn, Anastasia, now the dusk,” I say through the headphones. She turns and gapes at me in surprise. I smile at her, and she shyly smiles back at me. “As well as the evening sun, there’s more to see this time,” I say. The last time she flew to Seattle with me from Portland, it was dark, but the evening view right now is quite spectacular. We’re up among the tallest buildings, going higher and higher. “Escala’s over there,” I point toward my building. “Boeing is there, and you can just see the Space Needle,” I point at it. She cranes her head to look. “I’ve never been,” she says. “I’ll take you. We can eat there.” She gives me a surprised look. “Christian, we broke up,” she says. It’s a stab into my heart. I am going to rectify that tonight. “I know. I can still take you there and feed you,” I say glaring at her. She shakes her head and flush. “It’s very beautiful up here, thank you.” “Impressive, isn’t it?” I say. I’m in awe of the scenery every time. “Impressive that you can do this,” she says surprisingly complimenting me. “Flattery from you, Miss Steele? But I’m a man of many talents,” I say. “I’m fully aware of that, Mr. Grey,” she responds, tightening everything south of my body. I turn and smirk at her, and a relaxing look slowly creeps over her face. “How’s the new job?” I ask.

“Good, thank you. Interesting.” “What’s your boss like?” I ask. “Oh, he’s okay,” she says, and this rings the alarm bells in my head. Has he made a move towards her? She looks uncomfortable. “What’s wrong?” I ask. “Aside from the obvious, nothing.” The obvious? What’s obvious? “The obvious?” I ask. “Oh, Christian, you really are very obtuse sometimes,” she says. “Obtuse? Me? I’m not sure I appreciate your tone, Miss Steele.” “Well, don’t then,” she retorts making me smile. “I have missed your smart mouth,” I say. All I hear is her gasp in response, but she keeps quiet, and gaze out the window to continue watching the sun go down on horizon like a large blazing fiery orange ball. What are you thinking Anastasia? Please give me an indication... The dusk colors in Seattle sky are awe inspiring with opal, pink and aquamarine colors seamlessly woven together. We approach the crisp, clear evening Portland sky as its lights twinkle and wink in a way welcoming us both. I approach my destination, and set the helicopter down on the helipad. We’re on top of a brick building; the first place I picked Anastasia up in my helicopter for the first time in less than three weeks. It’s a testament how she changed me to my core in that short period of time. She became an essential part of my existence; a lifeline, without which I can't live. (←I Can't Live Without You by Mariah Carey) It’s such a short time for some, but a lifetime for me as I feel that a time pre-Anastasia didn’t exist, as I can’t see my life without her. I finally power down Charlie Tango, and flip off switches and the rotors stop, and the noise of them subside and we can hear our own breaths through the headphones. I unbuckle my harness, and lean across to unbuckle hers. “Good trip, Miss Steele?” I ask, in a mild voice, as my eyes are glowing with the sight of my woman before me. Yes, she’s mine; and she'd do well to remember that! “Yes, thank you, Mr. Grey,” she responds politely. “Well, let’s go see the boy’s pictures,” I say as I hold my hand out to her and she takes it. She climbs out of Charlie Tango. Old Joe is sitting and manning the security. As he sees us, he walks over and meets us, smiling broadly. “Joe,” I smile at him. I release Anastasia’s hand to shake his warmly. I have always liked him. “Keep her safe for Stephan. He’ll be along at eight or nine,” I say. “Will do, Mr. Grey. Ma’am,” he says nodding at Anastasia. “Your car’s waiting downstairs, sir. Oh, and the elevator’s out of order; you’ll need to use the stairs,” he lets us know. “Thank you, Joe,” I respond.

I take my woman’s hand, and we head to the emergency stairs. “Good thing for you this is only three floors, in those heels,” I mutter. I don’t want her to fall and hurt herself, but I’m here to catch. “Don’t you like the boots?” she asks. “I like them very much, Anastasia,” I say as my gaze darkens. I like my woman in high heels. It’s the ultimate sexy. She turns me on in anything, but those high heels... 'Keep it together, Grey' I remind myself. I have a mission tonight, and I can’t be sidetracked. “Come. We’ll take it slow. I don’t want you falling and breaking your neck.” As we exit the building, the driver is waiting for us opening the door to let us in. We sit in silence as the driver takes us to the gallery. I’m nervous. I’ve told her, I’ve missed her and she said nothing. Has she found someone? That boss of hers? Has she been in contact with Jose since she left me? Is this why we’re here? Did she decide that he would be better for her as I’m too fucked up? Is she going to show me that he's a better match for her than I? I'm dying here! 'Keep it together... keep it together... keep it together...' I repeat in my head as a mantra. Why hasn’t she given me any indication that she missed me, or wants me, or some sort of feeling that shows her attachment to me? Did she stop loving me? I didn’t stop loving her! I couldn’t! I can’t even look at her as I am incredibly nervous. “Jose is just a friend,” she finally murmurs. I turn and gaze at her, as she answers my unspoken question. My eyes are dark, guarded, and wary, but giving nothing away. 'Am I just a friend, or more for you Ana?' I want to ask, but maybe I don't want her to answer that until she hears me out tonight. Her eyes linger on my mouth. How I wish to use it to claim you Anastasia! I shift in my seat and frown as I look at her face and her big blue eyes that have gotten even bigger after she lost weight. “Those beautiful eyes look too large in your face, Anastasia. Please tell me you’ll eat,” I plead with her. “Yes, Christian, I’ll eat,” she answers automatically. “I mean it,” I say. “Do you now?” she says with disdain. Oh, Please Ana, don’t start this now! I’m not here to fight, I’m here to win you back! “I don’t want to fight with you, Anastasia. I want you back, and I want you healthy,” I say softly in my plea. She looks surprised, and her lips part in a soft exhale. “But nothing’s changed,” she responds. “Let’s talk on the way back. We’re here.” The car pulls in front of the gallery, and I climb out, go around and open the door for her. She clambers out. “Why do you do that?” she asks in a loud voice. “Do what?” I ask taken aback. What have I done just now? “Say something like that and then just stop.” “Anastasia, we’re here. Where you want to be. Let’s do this and then talk. I don’t particularly want a scene in the street.”

She flushes and glances around. She realizes that it’s too public, and finally she presses her lips together as I glare down at her. “Okay,” she mutters sulkily. I take her hand and lead her into the building. The building is a converted warehouse with brick walls and dark wood floors, white ceiling to give building height, and the pipework are painted to white as well. It’s airy and modern, and a lot of people are wondering across the gallery floor, sipping wine, and admiring the photographs. “Good evening and welcome to Jose Rodriguez’s show,” says a young woman dressed in black with very short brown hair, and bright fuck-me red lipstick, and large hooped earrings. She glances at Anastasia and her gaze stops on me, then she finally turns back at Anastasia, and she blinks and blushes. What’s the deal? “Oh, it’s you, Ana. We’ll want your take on all this, too,” she says handing her a brochure and directs her to a table loaded with drinks and snacks. Does she know Anastasia? “You know her?” I ask frowning. Anastasia shakes her head in the negative; she too is puzzled. I shrug, distracted with my preoccupation with my current problem - winning my woman back. “What would you like to drink?” I ask. “I’ll have a glass of white wine, thank you,” she says. My brow furrows because, generally wine is horrible at these kinds of events. But, I want to pick my battles, and this isn't the topic I want to fight over right now. I head to the open bar. There is a line formed already, and someone notices who I am and makes a move to introduce himself. He's a man in his 30s, with dark hair, green eyes that are all too bright with some giddy excitement, like the semi-mad scientist. I hate small talk; and I like it less today. “Forgive my bad manners sir, but, are you the Christian Grey?” says the man with green eyes that seem a little high from something and reaches to me from two people behind me, scooting forward, pushing the other two patrons out of the way as if they're just inanimate obstacles on his way. I give him a once over. He's in business casual, appropriate for such events. “Excuse me...” bumps into the woman ahead of me, and “excuse me,” he says again to the guy behind him profuse in his apologies but that doesn't stop him bumping around some more to others clumsily with whatever excitement he's experiencing by meeting me. “Yes, I am,” I say a little irritated; my mind pre-occupied. I’m not in the mood to exchange pleasantries, or meet people because I’m walking in the mine field right now trying to get back the woman I love. “I’m a big fan of yours, sir!” he says gushing enthusiastically. “My name is George... George Dumass,” he says as he proffers his sweaty hand to me, and I take it reluctantly. “Pleased to meet you Mr. Dumass,” I say flatly. “Just like you, I’m into clean energy, too sir!” he gushes and jumps into a conversation I didn't know we started with a big smile on his face. “Here, let me give you my card. Call me, if you need any assistance,” he says. What kind of assistance would I need from a stranger?

I look at the man with an impassive gaze, “thank you, but there are proper channels to apply for a position in my company; it’s it not done on my leisure time, Mr. Dumass,” I say. “Oh, no, I’m not looking for a position. I’m looking for a partnership,” he says, and I narrow my eyes on him. “Partnership?” I say incredulous. “Mr. Dumb Ass, I don’t do partners, never have, never will!” “Oh, it’s Dumass! My name is Dumass.” “Well, Dumass, I’m not interested. This is my private time with my lovely girlfriend, and I am not on a business venture here. For any other business, use the proper channels!” I say menacingly running out of patience. “But sir, you might be interested in what I have to offer!” he says persistently. “Dumb Ass! Let me make it very. Very. Very. Clear.” I say enunciating. “This is my private time, with my lovely girlfriend,” I say, also feeling her gaze on me. I turn to look at her, and our eyes lock. We’re both motionless for a minute, unable to move, unable to function. My gaze burns into her, hot, smoldering, lost to her, lost to the love I’m feeling for her. The sight of her hitches my breath, reminding me why I’m here. My mission is to get her back tonight. She’s talking to Jose until the Miss very short hair, big hoops, bright fuck-me red lipstick lady comes to get him away, and he kisses my woman! On the cheeks, but nonetheless, he kisses her. (←I'm Jealous by Shania Twain) I can barely contain myself, and the frigging line isn’t moving! The wine couldn’t be that good! What is it with people and the free booze? Mr. Dumb Ass with sweaty hands is like white on rice to me. “Mr. Grey, it’ll be worth your while!” I turn to him impatiently, and give him my icy glare which says I’m-not-to-be-fucked-right-now! “What do you fucking not understand, when I say, I’m with my girlfriend, on my own private, leisure time! Do you like to be distracted when you have a private occasion going on dumb ass?” “No, actually, I usually even turn my cell phone off...” he says, but I cut him off. “Great! If there ever was an off chance that you would meet me, someplace else, again, and I have my girlfriend with me... Never. Ever. Interrupt me! I’ll make you regret it,” I say in a calm but menacing voice. The man behind me turns to the sweaty hands and says, “Get in line man! Let the man have a peaceful date with his woman, and stop cutting the line!” Sweaty hands give up chagrined, and moves back into his place. I welcome this little comment from another stranger who just nods at me apologetically on behalf of the dumb ass, like cool water on a hot day. The fact that someone else pegged Anastasia as my woman is a good omen. I'll hold onto any hope I can. Finally it’s my turn in the line. “What kind of white wine do you have?” I ask with impatience to the bartender. “Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc sir,” says the bartender showing me two no-name bottles. I make a face. “Two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc, then,” I say. When I finally get on my way to get back to Anastasia she’s watching a photograph of a lake with early evening and pink clouds are reflected in the smooth surface of the water. It’s a peaceful image, perfectly

reflecting the natural beauty. As I get near her, she takes a deep breath and swallows as if she’s trying to find her center. I hand her one of the glasses of white wine. “Does it come up to scratch?” she asks in a normal voice. Is she talking about the portraits? “The wine,” she responds to my quizzical face. “No. Rarely does at these kinds of events. The boy’s quite talented, isn’t he?” I ask admiring the lake photo. “Why else do you think I asked him to take your portrait?” she says proud of her friend. My eyes glide impassively from the photograph to her. Jealousy creeping up. “Christian Grey?” says the photographer from the Portland Printz. “Can I have a picture, sir?” “Sure,” I say hiding a scowl. I need to keep my calm, though tornadoes are brewing inside me. Anastasia steps back, but I grab her hand, and pull her to my side. She’s my girlfriend. It’s not in the past tense. It will never be in the past tense if I can help it! The photographer looks at us and is quite surprised. “Mr. Grey, thank you,” he says snapping a few pictures. “Miss...?” he asks. “Steele,” she replies. Let the whole damn world know that she is mine! She is taken, and so am I! “Thank you, Miss Steele,” says the photographer scurrying off. “I looked for pictures of you with dates on the Internet. There aren’t any. That’s why Kate thought you were gay,” says Anastasia making my mouth twitch into a smile. “That explains your inappropriate question. No, I don’t do dates, Anastasia – only with you. But you know that,” I say willing her to see my sincerity, my affection for her. “So, you never took your,” she says glancing around nervously trying to make sure no one can hear our conversation, “-one of your subs out?” “Sometimes. Not on dates. Shopping, you know,” I say shrugging, my eyes fixed on her as if she’d bolt and this turns into a nightmare, and I wake up without her. Her lips slightly part as she comprehends that she has been the only one. The only exception to all my rules. “Just you, Anastasia,” I whisper. (←You’re Still the One by Shania Twain) She blushes and stares down at her fingers. I wish she understood how deeply she’s rooted in my soul! I wish I could express it to her properly without fucking it up! I’ve never done hearts and flowers. When she looks back up to me, “Your friend here seems more of a landscape man, not portraits. Let’s look around,” I say and hold my hand out to her, and she takes it. I briefly close my eyes and bask in our connection. We walk around the gallery, see a few of the pictures, and a couple nods at Anastasia, smiling broadly at her as if they’re on a Sunday picnic with the church, and Anastasia is the choir girl they’ve known so well! I don’t think it’s because of me, because they’re glaring at her! What's the deal? Then, another young man just unabashedly stares at her with his jaw dropping open, ogling the sight of MY woman!

As we turn the corner, the reason why everyone is staring at her becomes apparent. There are SEVEN huge portraits of Anastasia hanging on a far wall. They’re immense! As her blood drains from her face, mine boils, and I’m ready to blow my top! There are giant pictures of Anastasia, laughing, serious, pouting, scowling, amused, serene, and mock mad. But somehow I feel that they are as intimate as if they were nude images of her. All up close and all in black and white. I look at each picture, transfixed. At this very moment, I realize that I’ve never seen her this intimately, this at ease, without worries clouding her beautiful eyes. And the fact that it was the photographer who captured those images, and he was the one to provide those simple, happy moments ache me inside, making me jealous, envious of that fucker. I’m captivated by the images... Simply captivated by her simple magic, her exuding innocence, and the serenity she has in her expression. She's breathtaking! “Seems I’m not the only one,” I mutter, completely realizing that the photographer too is in love with her. My mouth settles into a hard line. I don’t mind competition in business, but, I don’t want anyone competing over my girlfriend. Since everyone recognized her, and appears all the patrons are enamored by her images, I don’t want anyone purchasing those pictures to ogle over her in the privacy of their homes. “Excuse me,” I say to Anastasia, pinning my gaze on her to transfix her in her place. I walk back to the Miss Very Short Hair, Big Hoops, and bright fuck-me red lipstick lady. “I want to purchase the photographs of Anastasia!” I say firmly. “Great!” she says brightly. “Which one?” I glare at her incredulous. “All of them!” “Really?” she asks brightly. “I mean, sure... of course. The cost of each picture is...” she says and I cut her off. “I don’t care how much it costs. I will buy all seven portraits of Anastasia!” I say, and fish out my credit card, and hand it to her. “Of course, sir!” she says brightly. After she runs my credit card, and hands me the slip to sign, she collects the delivery information. “I want you to find Mr. Rodriguez, and tell him to make sure not to make any other copy of those pictures!” “Oh, but, he owns the negatives. You’re only buying the prints, Mr. Grey,” she says. “Well then,” I say impatiently, “it appears, I’m also buying the negatives. I need a written statement from him that he’s not to make any other copies from the negatives of Anastasia’s images that I’m purchasing, and should he have any other images or negatives of her, he’s not to print or display them without her written consent. Do I make myself clear?” I say in a threatening voice. “Yes, sir, perfectly!” she says all flustered. Problem resolved. I finally turn to get back to Anastasia, and I find a man with a blond mane ogling my girlfriend, talking to her. Can’t a man turn his back without the possibility of someone else moving in on his woman? I quickly make my way back to her, and my hand is at her elbow possessively. I look over her head impassively to the blond mane clearly staking my territory. “You’re a lucky guy,” says the blond mane, smirking at me. I stare back at him coldly. “That I am,” I mutter darkly, and pull my woman over to my side, with my possessive arm tightly wrapped around her shoulder, claiming proprietorship, in a way daring anything male to get near her without getting through me.

The blond mane gets my drift, and walks away. “Did you buy one of these?” asks Anastasia. “One of these?” I snort, without taking my eyes off them. “You bought more than one?” she asks incredulous. I roll my eyes at her. “I bought them all, Anastasia. I don’t want some stranger ogling you in the privacy of their home,” I say, but that’s the least of my worries. Those images are very intimate in a private way. “You’d rather it was you?” she says teasing. I glare down at her, caught off guard by my audacious girlfriend (in the present tense), but I’m amused because she’s being playful. “Frankly, yes,” I reply. “Pervert,” she mouths and bites her lower lip, making my mouth drop open. I stroke my chin thoughtfully, what I'd love to do to you when you're talking to me like that and biting that lip. “Can’t argue with that assessment, Anastasia,” I say shaking my head, and my mood lightens. Anastasia’s eyes take a playful look, she licks her lower lip and says conspiratorially, “I’d discuss it further with you Mr. Grey, but I’ve signed an NDA.” I sigh, gazing at her, my eyes darkening. Do you have any idea what you do to me with your smart mouth? How you rile all sorts of emotions up, and turn me on? “What I’d like to do to your smart mouth,” I murmur. I can utilize it in more ways than one, baby. She gasps, completely comprehending my meaning. “You’re very rude,” she says sounding shocked. I smirk at her, feeling amused. But then my eyes glance back at the images, making me frown. I wish I was the one who made her feel at ease like she has been in those pictures. “You look very relaxed in these photographs, Anastasia. I don’t see you like that very often,” I say, almost mournful. She flushes and instinctively looks down to her fingers. I don’t want her to be embarrassed of me. I tilt her head back, and she inhales sharply at our skin to skin contact. “I want you that relaxed with me,” I whisper. It’s my vow. I will make sure she is that relaxed and happy with me. “You have to stop intimidating me if you want that,” she snaps at me. “You have to learn to communicate and tell me how you feel,” I snap back at her with blazing eyes. I always try to be explicit with her, but she’s so closed up to me sometimes. Anastasia looks up at me and takes a deep breath to give me a piece of her mind. “Christian, you wanted me as a submissive. That’s where the problem lies. It’s in the definition of a submissive. In fact you e-mailed it to me once,” she says pausing, trying to recall exact wording I used in my message. “I think the synonyms were, and I quote, ‘compliant, pliant, amenable, passive, tractable,

resigned, patient, docile, tame, subdued.’ I wasn’t supposed to look at you. Not talk to you unless you gave me permission to do so. What do you expect?” she hisses at me. I blink at her clear assessment of the problem. Of course I have realized of late that my main problem when this relationship was that I had entered into a contractual relationship and I've fallen in love. But then, that was the only kind of relationship I had ever known or had ever been interested. But, almost from the first moment I met Anastasia, I knew she was different, but I never knew that I would fall madly in love with her. There had been other subs who wanted more, and either I broke with them, or they found someone else and broke up with me. I never gave a second thought to it, because I had no feelings for them. But, this woman before me, this innocent girl, holds me accountable, and can go toe to toe with me. It’s refreshing, and maddening, and sexy and scary. She’s bold, and unfortunately, she’s right. My frown deepens as she continues to speak. “It’s very confusing being with you. You don’t want me to defy you, but then you like my ‘smart mouth.’ You want obedience, except when you don’t, so you can punish me. I just don’t know with way is up when I’m with you.” My eyes narrow. She’s speaking, and she bared her soul to me. She’s communicating and that’s what I want. But I don’t want this to cement our break-up and erect the tombstone on the relationship we could – no, we will have. “Good point well made, as usual, Miss Steele.” I say in a frigid voice. “Come, let’s go eat.” She laid down her cards, now it’s my turn. “We’ve only been here for half an hour,” she protests. “You’ve seen the photos; you’ve spoken to the boy,” I retort. “His name is Jose,” she reprimands me. Fine! “You’ve spoken to Jose – the man who, the last time I met him, was trying to push his tongue into your reluctant mouth while you were drunk and ill,” I snarl at her. “He’s never hit me!” she spit at me, and that hurts my feelings. I scowl at her, and fury is emanating out of my pores. That’s it! We’re leaving right now, even if I have to put her on my shoulder with a swat on her delectable behind in front of all these patrons and the press! “That’s a low blow, Anastasia,” I whisper menacingly. She flushes, and I’m doubly exasperated running both my hands through my hair, anger is bristling out of me, I can hardly contain it. It’s like that with Anastasia… I never know what she will say or do, and she can make me angry like no one can and I want to both punish and love her at the same time. I have all these foreign emotions I have never experienced before, making me incredibly possessive of her, and right now I just want to kiss her, fuck her, love her and spank her all at the same time, and none of which will sate this overflowing feeling in me! Of course she just glares back at me like no one can. “I’m taking you for something to eat. You’re fading away right in front of me. Find the boy, say goodbye!” I say. “Please, can we stay longer?” she asks. “No. Go. Now. Say goodbye!” I enunciate. I have long passed my tolerable limit. She glares at me, her anger is making her crimson all the way to her hairline. She narrows her eyes on me; and if it was at all possible, she would be steaming out of her ears! She finally drags her gaze away

from me looking for the boy. Finally locating him, she walks away from me to the boy to say her goodbyes. There are a few girls around the photographer. I’m standing in my spot, transfixed, impatience is vibrating through me, and I am through waiting. We are going to lay all our cards tonight, and by God, I’m going to win you back Anastasia Steele! I find myself tapping my foot on the floor out of nerves. Ana is some distance away, but my gaze doesn’t leave her, and I don’t even blink. The fucking photographer sweeps my woman into a big bear hug and spins her! Blood rushes to my head, my eyes darken, and the anger I have barely contained under wraps is now overflowing. Then in a calculating move, Anastasia, my Anastasia, my woman, wraps her arms around the fucker’s neck who is happy to be wrapped in her arms as he too is in love with her! I’m so fucking mad! If I have to drag Anastasia by the hair like the cave man, I will do it. My glare darkens, and jealousy is killing me! What is she trying to do to me? Anastasia Steele, you will be the death of me! Have you any idea, how much in love I am with you! Do you know the extents I would go in a heartbeat to keep you in my life? Do you have any idea of the kind of hell I have been though in the past week because of your absence? And here you are showing affection to a man I know you have no feelings for just to make me fucking jealous! I’m so pissed at you right now, I just want to claim you in the nearest place with semi privacy! I slowly make my way toward them. She’s still wrapped in his arms talking shit with him. Man, if you don’t get your fucking arms off her, I will pull them off of you! Just as I am only a few steps away from them, that fucker reaches and hugs her tighter, and I speed up my feet, and reach Anastasia, seething with anger, glowering at her, and reach for her elbow. The douche bag releases her finally, and says, “Don’t be a stranger, Ana. Oh, Mr. Grey, good evening,” he says like he just noticed my presence here. Yes, you’d do well to remember Christian Grey who is going to resume his status as Anastasia’s boyfriend. Keep your fucking arms off her! I barely contain myself, and barely can utter in an icily polite voice, “Mr. Rodriguez, very impressive,” I say. “I’m sorry we can’t stay longer, but we need to head back to Seattle. Anastasia?” I say subtly stressing on ‘we’ emphasizing us being a couple, and take her hand as I do so. “Bye, Jose. Congratulations again,” she says giving him a quick kiss on his cheek to blow my volcano of an anger. That’s about all I can take. I grab her hand, and drag her out of the building. All kinds of hormones are ravaging my body and my brain. Anger, jealousy, and frustration are at explosive levels, and I’m just sweating like a sinner at church with all these raging emotions! When I get outside the building, I look quickly up and down the street, and then head left and suddenly sweet her into a side alley, and I abruptly push her against a wall with all my feelings are exploding out of me. I can’t take it that the woman I’m in love with was just in someone else’s arms, hugging and kissing, and I haven’t even kissed her yet. I grab her face between my hands, forcing Anastasia to look up into my fierce determined eyes. (←Principles of Lust by Enigma) She gasps as she realizes the intensity of my desire, and my mouth swoops down on hers. I’m kissing her violently, uncontrollably; teeth clashing. Then my tongue is in her mouth seeking hers forcefully. Desire in both of us explodes like Mount Vesuvius and to my relief, she’s kissing me back, matching my fervor with her own; her hands knotting in my hair, pulling it hard to her, trying to merge our bodies together as if our separation bred an unmatched hunger in her… for me! Her response makes me groan in the back of my throat reverberating through her body, and rapidly my hand moves down her body to the top of her thigh, my fingers digging into her soft flesh through her sexy plum dress. My anxiety, my desire, my longing for her, and the fear that cultivated that unnamed emotion, that jealousy, and the fear of loss pour through me into her through my kiss, binding us together, and at this moment I realize that we both feel the same way.

I will eternally be sealed with this kiss, and I kiss her long and hard until I absolutely run out of breath in my lungs. My eyes are burning embers with desire for her, and passion in my body, in my blood is searing through me. I’m man on fire! (←Ring of Fire sung by Joaquin Phoenix) We’re both breathless, and I make my declaration to her. “You. Are. Mine,” I snarl at her emphasizing each word, enunciating, pouring all my love for her. What can I do to make her understand that there is nothing more precious for me than having her in my life, in my arms, in my heart? What Ana? Tell me! I push away from her bending, as I put my hands on my knees trying to catch my breath as if I ran a marathon, and I did…for days, after her, trying to get her. Trying to give her space… Trying to give her time to think… Trying to give her the opportunity to sort her feelings. But, I’m spent! I’m a man in love... I just can’t live without her! Even if she is hugging some guy in a friendly manner, or trying to get a rise out of me – well… the reasons don’t matter, because no matter what they are, I’m equally, passionately, and most ardently in love with her and completely jealous of any regard she might otherwise show another guy! “For the love of God, Ana,” I say my voice plea. She leans against the wall, panting, and trying to control her own body’s reaction, trying to find her center. “I’m sorry,” she whispers in a breathy voice. “You should be,” I say my voice cracking with the overwhelming feelings making a lump in my throat. “I know what you were doing. Do you want the photographer Anastasia? He obviously has feelings for you,” I say praying, ‘please say no, please say no, please say no!’ The moment I saw Anastasia’s photographs in the gallery with her smiling, pouting, making faces, mock angry… I felt no greater jealousy before of her or of anyone, or anything else because someone had seen and captured her in such an intimate way that I had not. I realized that the photographer too was in love with her. I just can’t bear seeing her with someone else in any real or imaginary capacity. She flushes after my fervent question, and shakes her head in the negative. “No,” she says to my utter relief. “He’s just a friend.” I give a sigh of relief. “I have spent all my adult life trying to avoid any extreme emotion,” I say looking into her eyes, my voice breaking. “Yet you… you bring out feelings in me that are completely alien. It’s very…” I say frowning, grasping for the right word. “Unsettling.” But it’s beyond that. My heart, my soul, destiny are all in her palms to do as she wishes, as she wants to mold them… whether she wants to keep them, or toss them away. I have never, ever been this vulnerable before! Not in so many years. I have had many women in my life, but I have never been cruel to any of them. I had not toyed with their feelings. Yet, anything small thing Anastasia does could make or break me! That’s the depth of my love for her. Anastasia is the only person in the world who can put me in a vertical casket with one of her disregarding look… That’s the extent of her power on me; it scares me to my core. My life and fate are in her delicate hands! “I like control, Ana, and around you that just” – I stand, my gaze intense, “evaporates,” I say waving my hand vaguely, and then run it through my hair taking a deep breath. I clasp her hand. “Come, we need to talk, and you need to eat.” And, I’m ready to lay all my cards out, and I’m not leaving this battle without winning my woman back.

I KNOW YOU WANT ME
CHAPTER III

I take Anastasia to a small, and intimate French restaurant called Le Picotin. I have not particularly chosen it; it’s the only one available within the distance I’m willing to travel before I can allow her to go on without another bite. I would love to take her to a proper restaurant cooked by the best chefs in the city with a great wine selection, but I’m bereaved for time.

“This place will have to do,” I say grumbling. “We don’t have much time.” The restaurant is deep blood red in color like my Playroom with wooden chairs, mismatched eclectic linen tablecloths and with mirrors randomly placed white candles and small vases of white roses. Ella Fitzgerald is aptly crooning “This thing called love” softly in the background adding to the romantic setting. (← This Thing Called Love by Ella Fitzgerald)

The hostess leads us to a small table for two in a small alcove and Anastasia sits across from me apprehensive, and frankly I’m quite nervous because she hasn’t given me any indication so far showing me that she wants me back other than responding to my kiss in the alley. Then again, our bodies are so attuned to each other, it’s almost they speak a language uniquely their own.

“We don’t have long,” I say to the waiter to speed him up. “We’ll each have sirloin steak cooked medium, béarnaise sauce if you have it, fries, and green beans, whatever the chef has; and bring me the wine list,” I say ordering for both of us.

“Certainly sir,” says the waiter sort of taken aback; but I’m used to that sort of response because generally that’s the response when you have overwhelmingly taken control of a given situation, and I aim to do just that for the duration of the night. I place my Blackberry on the table. Anastasia is almost scowling silently. Then she speaks.

“And if I don’t like steak?” she says making me sigh and inwardly I say ‘God, give me patience tonight!’

“Don’t start, Anastasia.”

“I’m not a child, Christian,” she hisses in a low tone leaning in.

“Well, stop acting like one,” I say mirroring her action. She automatically leans back in her seat with an incredulous look on her face, blinking at me. We’re both agitated, nervous, and this isn’t going like how I envisioned.

“I’m a child because I don’t like steak?” she mutters in a hurt tone.

How could you be so obtuse Anastasia? You drove me crazy! Nearly gave me a heart attack by wrapping yourself all over the photographer making me more jealous than I have ever been of anything or anyone in my entire life! You are mine! (← Love You Long Time by PTX)

“For deliberately making me jealous. It’s a childish thing to do. Have you no regard for your friend’s feelings, leading him on like that?” I say pressing my lips into a thin line scowling and just then the waiter returns with a

wine list. I’m still vibrating with jealousy and passion and anger all wrapped in one. Anastasia blushes. Suddenly what I say sinks in for which I’m grateful. I force my gaze away from her to look into the wine list.

Well, she wants to have choices; I’ll let her choose the wine if she wants to. I’m sure I can live with her choice. “Would you like to choose the wine?” I ask raising an eyebrow at her expectantly. She glares back at me.

“You choose,” she answers sullenly but chastened.

“Two glasses of the Barossa Valley Shiraz, please,” I say to the waiter.

“Err… we only sell that wine by the bottle, sir,” says the waiter. What; am I supposed to deal with him too?

“A bottle then,” I snap.

“Sir,” he says obediently and retreats. Anastasia listens to the exchange and frowns at me.

“You’re very grumpy,” she observes. Really? You think?

I gaze at her impassively, I am anything but. “I wonder why that is?”

“Well, it’s good to set the right tone for an intimate and honest discussion about the future, wouldn’t you say?” she says smiling at me sweetly.

I’m chastened by Anastasia, once again... I press my mouth into a hard line. Then I realize that I’m allowing my anger and other emotions take over control, something I wish not to hand over. Then reluctantly I feel my lips twitching into a smile. Despite the fact I want to wipe it off, I fail.

“I’m sorry,” I apologize.

“Apology accepted, and I’m pleased to inform you I haven’t decided to become a vegetarian since we last ate,” she says, and it may be true, but since she hasn’t eaten since we last ate, that remark means little.

“Since that was the last time you ate, I think that’s a moot point.”

“There is that word again, moot,” she says.

“Moot,” I mouth the word as my eyes soften with humor. Exasperation sweeps over me again making me nervous. I run my hands through my hair, and my heart is constricting once more. “Ana, the last time we spoke, you left me. I’m a little nervous. I’ve told you I want you back, and you’ve said… noting,” I say with all the intensity of my emotions coming out of my pores.

What does she expect? I’m incredibly nervous, and I don’t do nervous! I’ve brokered high stakes, millions of dollars’ worth of business deals, contracts, and agreements. I have not been as nervous then, because I was in my element. With Anastasia, everything is out the window. My emotions take over, my heart flips, and my brain takes a vacation when I most need it. I look at her intensely and expectantly. She’s taken aback.

“I’ve missed you… really missed you, Christian. The past few days have been…” she says pausing to find the appropriate word, and settles for “difficult.” She swallows, and silently looks at me with some unnamed emotion. “Nothing’s changed. I can’t be what you want me to be,” she says almost choking on her words.

“You are what I want you to be,” I say fervently in a soft emphatic voice.

“No, Christian, I’m not,” she retorts.

“You’re upset because of what happened last time. I behaved stupidly, and you… So did you. Why didn’t you safe word, Anastasia?” I ask in an accusatory tone. I’ve thought about this a lot. I have always reminded her to safeword if it gets overwhelming in the playroom, and she hasn’t. She looks at me and finally hasn’t got something to say.

“Answer me,” I plead. (← Fields of Gold by Eva Cassidy)

“I don’t know,” is her first answer. “I was overwhelmed. I was trying to be what you wanted me to be, trying to deal with the pain, and it went out of my mind. You know… I forgot,” she whispers looking ashamed, shrugging apologetically.

What? I went through hell last week, because she simply forgot to use the safeword? Oh God! I’m crushed! Mortified!

“You forgot!” I gasp in horror, so upset I grab the sides of the table glaring at her. She sinks in her chair in realization. We’ve both gone through hell because she forgot to safeword!

“How can I trust you Anastasia?” I ask in a low voice. “Ever?” I trusted her to use the safeword. I trusted her to follow certain rules; I’ve reminded her time and again. How could she do that?

Just then the waiter arrives with the wine while we’re having a staring contest. He pours the wine into my glass, and I automatically take a sip.

“That’s fine,” I say in a curt voice.

The waiter fills our glasses, places the bottle on the table, and realizing the tension on the table, he hastily retreats. My gaze is glued on Anastasia with tension so thick; I can taste it in my mouth. I’m speechless. All I can do is to stare at her, and finally Anastasia breaks our eye contact, picks up her wine glass and takes a large gulp to borrow some courage from her cup.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers. What? Why? Is she saying it like she did the night she left me? Is she trying to say ‘this isn’t going to work!’ I’m scared! Is this it?

“Sorry for what?” I ask in an alarmed voice.

“Not using the safeword,” she says and I feel myself washed with relief. There is hope after all! Thank you God!

“We might have avoided all this suffering,” I mutter.

“You look fine,” she says accusatory. I’m fine? I’ve died a thousand deaths every day! Sliced by a thousand superficial cuts, slowly bleeding to my death! My heart was ripped out and tossed at my feet! I’ve lost my reason for being! And you think I’ve been fine, Anastasia? How wrong you are!

“Appearances can be deceptive,” I say quietly. “I’m anything but fine. I feel like the sun has set and not risen for five days, Ana. I’m in perpetual night here,” I say my voice cracking. I’ve been through the damned hell, broken up, broken down, lost…

“You said you’d never leave, yet the going gets tough and you’re out the door,” I say accusatory.

“When did I say I’d never leave?” she asks.

“In your sleep. It was the most comforting thing I’d heard in so long, Anastasia. It made me relax.” It was my lifeline, some hope I held onto.

She says nothing. Nothing! She doesn’t look at me and reaches for her wine. Has her feelings changed for me? I want to know!

“You said you loved me,” I whisper. “Is that now in the past tense?” I say in a low voice laced in anxiety. ‘Please say no! Please say no! Please say no Anastasia! Please!’ I plead in my head in a fervent prayer. I’ve never stopped loving you!

“No, Christian, it’s not,” she says finally, and I exhale a breath in relief I didn’t know I was holding. I gaze at her hope blossoming in my heart, “Good,” I murmur.

I know I freaked out when she finally said she loved me when she was completely awake, and I felt undeserving of her love. But, I lately realized that I crave her love. I can’t live without it! I need it like I need air to breathe!

The waiter arrives with our food, and places the plates in front of us and scuttles away in a hurried fashion knowing there's tension at the table.

“Eat,” I command. I want her to get better. She looks at her food perplexed, not taking a bite. Why aren’t you eating? You’re melting away before me like a block of ice in desert heat! My anger flares again.

“So help me God, Anastasia, if you don’t eat, I will take you across my knee here in this restaurant, and it will have nothing to do with my sexual gratification. Eat!” I order forcefully.

“Okay, I’ll eat. Stow your twitching palm, please,” she says.

I keep glaring at her. I want her to start eating right now. She looks at her food again. Pick up her fork and knife. She finally slices into her steak and takes her first bite. After she starts chewing, I feel relief wash over me. Then I

pick up my own knife and fork, and both of us eat in silence. She glances up at me, and catches me watching her while eating. I’m crazy for this woman before me! Crazy in love! Crazy about her! Crazy about everything she does! She and I have such a bond forged and I am nothing without her.

“Do you know who is singing?” she says getting me out of reveries. For the first time, I pay attention to this song in the background. I’ve never heard the singer or the song, but it’s beautiful.

“No…but she’s good, whoever she is,” I say smiling. (←Arms by Christina Perri)

“What?” she asks.

I shake my head. “Eat up,” I say not giving anything away.

After eating possibly only half of her food on her plate she said “I can’t manage any more. Have I eaten enough for Sir?”

I stare at her impassively. I would really like her to finish all of her food, because she’s too thin. I don’t answer, and I want to check the time to see if Taylor is already here; if he’s not, I probably can push her to eat a few more bites.

“I’m really full,” she adds and takes a sip of the wine.

“We have to go shortly. Taylor’s here, and you have to be up for work in the morning.”

“So do you,” she retorts.

“I function on a lot less sleep than you do, Anastasia,” I say. “At least you’ve eaten something.” It makes me feel a little bit better knowing that she has something in her system.

“Aren’t we going back via Charlie Tango?”

“No, I thought I might have a drink. Taylor will pick us up. Besides, this way I can have you in the car all to myself for a few hours, at least. What can we do but talk?” I say. I want this to work, and I’ll do everything in my power to have her give me a chance to speak and hear me out.

I call the waiter, and ask for the check. I then pick my Blackberry up and call Taylor.

“We’re at Le Picotin, Southwest Third Avenue,” I say giving him the address; I hang up.

Anastasia looks up at me surprised at my abrupt conversation.

“You’re very brusque with Taylor, in fact, with most people.”

“I just get to the point quickly, Anastasia.”

“You haven’t gotten to the point this evening. Nothing’s changed, Christian,” she says. That’s where she’s wrong. Everything’s changed, and I aim to rectify all my errors.

“I have a proposition for you,” I reply.

“This started with a proposition,” she says almost mocking.

“A different proposition,” I say. A good proposition, one I hope she will not be able to resist but to agree.

The waiter comes back with my bill, and I hand him my card, impatient to get out of here. I gaze at her speculatively. I don’t want to say, what could have happened… what if? I will make the changes tonight. While the waiter is charging my credit card, my phone buzzes, and I look at it, seeing the text from Taylor. He says he’s outside. I sign my credit card slip, and stand up, I proffer my hand to Anastasia.

“Come. Taylor’s outside,” I say.

We stand up, her hand in mine.

“I don’t want to lose you Anastasia” I say with all my passion, I kiss her knuckles tenderly. Our connection makes me buzzing with all sorts of emotions, and desire.

When we go outside, my Audi is waiting. I take Anastasia’s hand and lead her into the SUV. I go to the driver’s side, and Taylor, knowing I will ask something of him comes out of the vehicle. “Taylor, I want you to put your iPod on, and make sure your ear buds remain plugged until I tell you otherwise. Sync it with the car please, so I can verify it’s on.” “Yes, sir,” he says, and plugs in his ear buds in my presence. “Let’s go!” “Yes, sir.” After my instructions to Taylor are over, I return to my seat next to Anastasia. She glances at me quizzically, but, staring ahead, I give nothing away donning my impassive face. I see from peripheral vision that Anastasia’s watching me, examining, memorizing my features as if they may be the last time she’s looking at me. I let her take all of me in; see what she will have, because she won’t be losing me if I can help it... When finally Taylor syncs his iPod with the car’s sound system, a soft Puccini aria starts playing. (← O Mio Babbino Caro sung by Angela Gheorghiu) He pulls the Audi into the light traffic, heading for the I-5 and Seattle. This is my cue to start talking to Anastasia as Taylor is out of the hearing distance. I shift my body to turn to Anastasia to take her in face to face. “As I was saying, Anastasia, I have a proposition for you,” I say. With this she glances at Taylor nervously as if to say she’s embarrassed of talking in front of him. “Taylor can’t hear you,” I reassure her, but she’s doubtful. “How?” “Taylor?” I call, but he doesn’t respond. I call his name again once more, there is still no response. I lean in, and tap Taylor’s shoulder at which time Taylor removes one of the ear buds, and finally gives a response to my physical contact. “Yes, sir?” he inquires politely. “Thank you, Taylor. It’s alright; resume your listening.” “Sir,” he replies. “Happy now? He’s listening to his iPod. Puccini. Forget he’s here. I do,” I say nonchalantly.

“Did you deliberately ask him to do that?” “Yes, I did,” I reply. She shakes her head as if to clear her head from some errant thought, changes gears. “Okay, your proposition?” This is it. I have to lay all my cards, and I have to present my winning hand. I get my business face on; the one where I don’t intend to lose on a negotiation. Anastasia gets her ‘I’m negotiating a deal; you better not give me a fucked up deal,’ face on, pure attention. “Let me ask you something first. Do you want a regular vanilla relationship with no kinky fuckery at all?” I ask. We’ve never had problems in any sort of fuckery; kinky or otherwise, but I want to clear the air once and for all. If I were to go by the indications, she rather enjoyed them quite well. But, that doesn’t clarify what is in her heart; I need to hear it straight from her own lips. “Kinky fuckery?” she asks shocked and embarrassed with the company in the car though Taylor can’t hear a thing. “Kinky fuckery,” I confirm. (←Lost by Bruno Mars) That’s what it is, and I’ll call it by its real name. “I can’t believe you said that,” she says nervously glancing at Taylor. “Well, I did. Answer me,” I ask calmly and firmly. I need to clear out every aspect of our relationship as she’s not as communicative, and I will make damn sure that I will have no stone unturned to make her happy in every aspect one hundred percent. She flushes, and looks down her hands, shy. “I like your kinky fuckery,” she whispers in a small voice confirming my gut feeling. My inner sex god does a cartwheel in excitement. That’s one victory, but more subjects to be aired out to be completely through. “That’s what I thought. So what don’t you like?” I ask trying to completely comprehend her likes and dislikes. She looks at me, and sighs. Takes a deep breath as if to flush out some anxiety, some exasperation out of her system. She doesn’t speak a long moment, and I stare at her intently without even blinking. “The threat of cruel and unusual punishment,” she says. But, that expression means different things to different people. I have to know what it means to her. “What does that mean?” I ask. “Well, you have all those canes and whips and stuff in your playroom, and they frighten the living daylights out of me. I don’t want you to use them on me,” she says. I’ve already destroyed them anyway, so it’s a non-issue right now.

“Okay, so no whips or canes – or belts, for that matter I say sardonically knowing what caused our breakup. She gazes at me puzzled, and trying to confirm if she’s heard me correctly, completely puzzled. “Are you attempting to redefine the hard limits?” she asks for clarification. “Not as such; I’m just trying to understand you, get a clearer picture of what you do and don’t like,” I explain. With that she gets a certain understanding and responds. “Fundamentally, Christian, it’s your joy in inflicting pain on me that’s difficult for me to handle. And the idea that you’ll do it because I have crossed some arbitrary line,” she says in one breath. “But it’s not arbitrary; the rules are written down,” I rebuttal. “I don’t want a set of rules,” she says. That’s what I thought. A man can still attempt to negotiate without giving away what he’s going to compromise. “None at all?” I ask trying to confirm. “No rules,” she says shaking her head. Damn woman! You should work for me with those negotiating skills. If you can bring me down to my knees, you can do that to anybody. “But you don’t mind if I spank you?” I ask. “Spank me with what?” she asks narrowing her eyes, businesslike, trying to get her best deal. And that’s good, because she too is on negotiating table, and she too is playing her best hand. “This,” I say holding up my hand. Her demeanor changes with that show. She squirms involuntarily in a well contained excitement or with remembrance of the exciting moments we’ve had together just using my hands to spank in the fun, and sexual context. “No, not really,” she responds shyly, flushing. “Especially with those silver balls…” she drifts off. Her response makes smile. I was right; she does enjoy the spanking in a sexual context. “Yes, that was fun,” I say remembering. “More than fun,” she mutters agreeing with me. “So you can deal with some pain,” I confirm. She shrugs nonchalantly. “Yes, I suppose,” she replies. Her breathing becomes shallower and more rapid; her chest rising and falling rapidly.

Hmm… There is hope for us yet, and my heart skips a beat with excitement. I stroke my chin, thinking hard how to word my proposal to get the best response from her. “Anastasia, I want to start again,” I say seeking fresh, and brand new beginning for both of us. “Do the vanilla thing and then maybe, once you trust me more and I trust you to be honest and to communicate with me, we could move on and do some of the things that I like to do,” I say laying out my compromise. She stares at me as if she’s heard me incorrectly, completely stunned with a blank expression. I can tell that this wasn’t the compromise she was expecting. I don’t know what she’s thinking. Her face is devoid of any expressions. Primarily because she’s so stunned with what I’m willing to do for her, her expression reflects that the lights are on, but Anastasia stepped out for the moment kind of face… Finally she finds her voice and asks, “But what about punishments?”

“No punishments,” I say shaking my head. I’ve decided on that concession the night she left me.

“None,” I say by the way of confirming.

“And the rules?” she asks.

“No rules,” I say. Baby, you don’t know extents I would go to keep you! You have no idea how much I love and care for you!

“None at all?” she asks incredulous. “But you have needs.”

“I need you more, Anastasia. These last few days have been purgatory. All my instincts tell me to let you go, tell me I don’t deserve you.” I say sighing.

“Those photos the boy took… Jose took,” I say correcting, “…I can see how he sees you. You look so untroubled and beautiful, not that you’re not beautiful now, but here you sit. I see your pain. It’s hard knowing that I’m the one who has made you feel this way.

“But, I’m a selfish man. I’ve wanted you since you fell into my office. You are exquisite, honest, warm, strong, witty, beguilingly innocent; the list is endless. I am in awe of you. I want you, and the thought of anyone else having you is like a knife twisting in my dark soul.”

Anastasia’s smart mouth is completely speechless; devoid of words. Her chest is now rising and falling rapidly as if she’s running a particularly hard marathon, and she needs every molecule of air she can deposit into her lungs. All of a sudden, she gathers her thoughts, and words just spill out of her pores.

“Christian, why do you think you have a dark soul? I would never say that. Sad maybe, but you’re a good man. I can see that … you’re generous, you’re kind, and you’ve never lied to me. And I haven’t tried very hard,” she replies completely shocking me.

“Last Saturday was such a shock to my system. It was my wake-up call. I realized that you’d been easy on me and that I couldn’t be the person you wanted me to be. Then, after I left, it dawned on me the physical pain you inflicted was not as bad as the pain of losing you. I do want to please you, but it’s hard,” she utters.

“You please me all the time,” I whisper to her. “How often will I have to tell you that?”

“I never know what you’re thinking. Sometimes you’re so closed off… like an island state. You intimidate me. That’s why I keep quiet. I don’t know which way your mood is going to go. It swings from north to south and back again in a nanosecond. It’s confusing and you won’t let me touch you, and I want to so much to show you how much I love you,” she utters completely shocking me.

Her declaration completely surprises me. I thought she stopped loving me, and she didn’t give me any indication since I picked her up otherwise making my already overwhelmed heart burdened with more worry. But what she had said just now, completely washes me with serenity, soothes the tornadoes that have been brewing in me since she left. First time in a week, I feel elated, and truly happy. If this is not heaven, I don’t know what is! I blink in the darkness, and warily, unable to completely comprehend if this is exactly what I heard. She unbuckles her seatbelt and scramble onto my lap, shocking me so much that she could have knocked me with a feather. She takes my head into her hands.

“I love you, Christian Grey. And you’re prepared to do all this for me. I’m the one who is undeserving, and I’m just sorry that I can’t do all those things for you. Maybe with time… I don’t know… but yes, I accept your proposition. Where do I sign?” she declares.

If I died right now, I’d die a happy man! She never stopped loving me! She’s willing to make concessions, accommodate my needs. Oh, God! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for hearing me! I love this woman so much!

Finally I realize that this is not a dream, not a trick my brain is playing on me, and that Anastasia really truly loves me; me! This insignificant man! I snake my arms around her and crush her to me.

“Oh, Ana!” I breathe ad I bury my nose in her hair, inhaling her scent, kissing her hair. We sit, wrapped around each other, listening to a soothing piano music, completely reflecting what we are feeling right now, a tranquil tone. (← Bella’s Lullaby from Twilight) She just snuggles into my arms resting her head in the crook of my neck. I just stroke her back soothing both of our ravaged souls with the events of last week.

“Touching is a hard limit for me, Anastasia,” I whisper. I want more than anything for her to touch me, explore where no one has ever been allowed. But, I just can’t, and it kills me that I have to deny that to her!

“I know. I wish I understood why,” she whispers. I sigh. She deserves to know. She’s made so many concessions for me, and I want to openly communicate with her.

“I had a horrific childhood. One of the crack whore’s pimps…” I say in a soft voice, trailing off. Tension comes back to my body with remembrance of the tortures, punishments, and beatings by the pimp. “I can remember that,” I whisper shuddering. She takes a sharp breath in, worrying for me, and tightens her arms around my neck as if to reassure me, soothe and comfort me. It is the most human, most welcome reaction I have had from her. She loves me!

“Was she abusive? Your mother, I mean?” she asks in a low soft voice laced with emotion.

“Not that I remember. She was neglectful. She didn’t protect me from her pimp,” I say recalling.

I snort and say, “I think it was me who looked after her. When she finally killed herself, it took four days for someone to raise the alarm and find us… I remember that,” I say. Indeed that’s a nightmare played over and over again almost every night.

Anastasia gasps in horror. “That’s pretty fucked-up,” she whispers.

“Fifty shades,” I murmur. Now she has some idea of my issues and sharing that information with her lifts some walls off between us. Anastasia responds by pressing her lips against my neck, offering solace, and her love in her kiss. She inhales me, seeking connection, touching my soul. I’m complete with her. I tighten my arms around her

and kiss her hair. I am a happy man as we are wrapped in each other’s embrace. There’s not another thing, not another person I want in this moment other than Anastasia cradled in my arms right now.

While I hold her like this, she slowly and peacefully drifts into sleep. I watch her long minutes. Stroke her hair, smelling her womanly scent, clean soap, fresh outdoors, and her particular brand of scent uniquely Ana. How I love her! What I wouldn’t do for her! The knowledge that she’s mine once again, relives me. I will either cry, or do a cartwheel with relief and joy neither of which is appropriate for the place and time we are in.

We drive like that all the way to Seattle, and Anastasia finally wakes up as we are driving through the city.

“Hey,” I say softly to her sleepy gaze.

“Sorry,” she softly apologizes, blinking and stretching, trying to gain her bearing. She’s still in my arms, and I have no intention of letting her off.

“I can watch you sleep forever, Ana,” I say.

“Did I say anything?” she asks remembering her other nocturnal confessions.

“No. We’re nearly at your place,” I say which surprises her.

“We’re not going to your place?” she asks.

“No,” I reply.

She sits up gazing at me, trying to decipher my face as if it’s a piece of complicated puzzle. “Why not?” she inquires.

“Because you have work tomorrow,” I simply state, and it’s the truth, but not the complete truth.

“Oh,” she says pouting with realization. Although, she doesn’t have to work, and should call in sick, I’d rather wait, and have her pine for me; I aim for her to beg. If I gave it, that would defeat the purpose. It’ll give both of us sweet torture, but the love making afterwards will be much more intense, and passionate.

I smirk at her expression. “Why, did you have something in mind?” I ask mischievously.

She flushes. Yep, she had other ideas. “Well, maybe,” she replies.

I chuckle at her response. “Anastasia, I’m not going to touch you again, not until you beg me to.” (← Everything by Michael Buble)

This piece of information shocks her.

“What!” she exclaims.

“So that you’ll start communicating with me. Next time we make love, you’re going to have to tell me exactly what you want in fine detail.”

“Oh,” she says. I shift her off my lap as Taylor pulls up outside of her apartment complex. I climb out of the car, and hold the door open for her.

“I have something for you,” I say moving to the trunk of the car, and pull out a large giftwrapped box containing her belongings; laptop, Blackberry, iPad and her car keys. She looks at me speculatively; curious.

“Open it when you get inside,” I say.

“You’re not coming in?” she asks surprised.

“No, Anastasia,” I reply.

“So, when will I see you?” she asks, and I have longed to hear that from her for what feels like a very long time.

“Tomorrow,” I respond. And even tomorrow isn’t close enough, but I want her to beg in anticipation.

“My boss wants me to go for a drink with him tomorrow,” she says, and I automatically get upset, my face hardens. “Does he now?” I say menacingly. Fucking bastard is already moving in on my woman. (←Next Contestant by Nickelback)

“To celebrate my first week,” she adds quickly. There are all sorts of women work for men; they don’t all go out for a celebratory drink of their first week unless the guy wants to get into her panties.

“Where?” I ask.

“I don’t know.”

“I could pick you up from there,” I reply.

“Okay... I’ll e-mail or text you.”

“Good.”

I walk her to the lobby door, and wait for her to fish out her keys. The sight of her, here, in my presence, with me unfurls something inside. I lean in and cup her chin, tilting her head back. As my mouth hovers over hers, I close my eyes and run a trail of kisses from the corner of her eye to her mouth, but I stop short of her lips. A desirous moan escapes her wanting, and expecting more.

“Until tomorrow,” I breathe.

“Goodnight Christian,” she whispers laden with need and want. It’s working. Knowing that makes me smile.

“In you go,” I order, and she walks through the lobby.

“Laters, baby,” I call out to her, and walk back to the car completely relieved. I’m so curious to see what she will think, how she will react to my apology, and my indirect declaration of love for her. I hope she loves it. I hope she understands what I want to say to her that I can’t say out loud. Not yet anyway.

Taylor speeds away to Escala. He too is visibly relaxes after the last week’s horrors, and tension he and Mrs. Jones had to endure. He drops me off.

“Thank you Taylor,” I say and a genuine smile creeps on his face.

“You’re most welcome sir,” he replies.

I go up to my apartment. Shed my clothes off to more comfortable pajama bottoms. I go and pour myself a glass of wine, and make my way to the piano. First time in a long time, I feel like playing something happy.

I hear my Blackberry buzzing on top of the piano. It’s Anastasia. ______________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: IPAD Date: June 9 2011 23:56 To: Christian Grey

You’ve made me cry again. I love the iPad. I love the songs. I love the British Library App. I love you. Thank you. Goodnight.

Ana xx ______________________________________ Her simple response makes me instantly joyous. ______________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: IPAD Date: June 10 2011 00:03 To: Christian Grey

I’m glad you like it. I bought one for myself. Now, if I were there, I would kiss away your tears.

But I’m not, so go to sleep.

Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. ______________________________________ I wish I was there to hold her, to see her reaction, to kiss away her tears. But it will have to wait. (← Possession by Sarah McLachlan) ______________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Mr. Grumpy Date: June 10 2011 00:07 To: Christian Grey You sound your usual bossy and possibly tense, possibly grumpy self, Mr. Grey. I know something that could ease that. But then, you’re not here – you wouldn’t let me stay, and you expect me to beg... Dream on Sir.

Ana xx

PS: I also note that you included the Stalker’s Anthem, “Every Breath You Take,” I do enjoy your sense of humor, but does Dr. Flynn know? ______________________________________ I have missed her smart mouth; I’m contemplating the creative ways in which to render some enjoyable punishment. (Every Breath You Take by the Police) ______________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: Zen-like calm Date: June 10 2011 00:10 To: Christian Grey My Dearest Miss Steele,

Spanking occurs in vanilla relationships, too, you know. Usually consensually and in a sexual context... but I am more than happy to make an exception. You’ll be relieved to know that Dr. Flynn also enjoys my sense of humor. Now, please go to sleep as you won’t get much tomorrow. Incidentally – you will beg, trust me. And I look very much forward to it.

Christian Grey Tense CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. ______________________________________ I hit send, and more than ever now I wish she was here. But, patience is a virtue, and at this time, I do want her to beg, and want me as she has never wanted me before. ______________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Goodnight, Sweet dreams Date: June 10 2011 00:12 To: Christian Grey Well, since you ask so nicely, and I like your delicious threat, I shall curl up with the iPad that you have so kindly given me and fall asleep browsing in the British Library, listening to the music that says it for you

Ana xxxx ______________________________________ I love it when she acquiesces. I love it when she argues. I love it when she’s mad. I love it when she is loving me! I just love her! I’m a man in love! ______________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: one more request Date: June 10 2011 00:15 To: Christian Grey Dream of me. x Christian Grey Tense CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

______________________________________

First time in a week, Anastasia’s image in my head chases away the nightmares, and I have a peaceful sleep, devoid of the pimp or the horrors he inflicted on me. Dreams of just me and Anastasia. (Dream On by Aerosmith)

BEGGING IT IS THEN..
CHAPTER IV

I feel invincible, incredibly good today as if I own the world. (←I'm Feeling Good by Michael Buble) What a difference a day makes! Taylor and I go to workout first thing in the morning and we’re both visibly relaxed. Taylor is of course wearing his impassive face, but he’s not eyeing me every five seconds to see if I’m going to explode any second. When I get up to my penthouse, Mrs. Jones is very chipper even though she is also behind her professional face.

“Mr. Grey, I took the liberty of making you pancakes, bacon, and omelet this morning sir. And your coffee is ready. Would you like anything else sir?” she asks enthusiastically.

“No, thank you Mrs. Jones,” I say looking at her quizzically which she completely ignores, and goes on with her chores in the kitchen. A smile creeps up on my face. Their excitement is rubbing off on me. I enjoy my breakfast, and take a big gulp of my coffee. But then I remember that Anastasia has not been eating for several days, and I type her a message from my Blackberry before I lose my appetite.

_______________________________________________

From: Christian Grey

Subject: So Help Me...

Date: June 10, 2011 08:05

To: Anastasia Steele

I do hope you’ve had breakfast.

I missed you last night.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

_______________________________________________ I don’t know if she’s at work yet, but I want to make sure that she’s eaten something. I can’t bear to see her melting before my eyes. When it comes to Anastasia, I’m crazy-out-of-my-head kind of in love with her!

Once I’m done with breakfast, I make my way into my shower and get ready for my work day. I have a big day ahead of me today, and the fact that I’m going to see Anastasia this evening glues a stupid grin on my face. I’m in my office and getting ready to leave for GEH, I feel my Blackberry buzzing with an incoming message.

_______________________________________________

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Old books...

Date: June 10, 2011 08:33

To: Christian Grey

I’m eating a banana as I type. I haven’t had breakfast for several days, making this banana a step forward. I love the British Library app. I started rereading Robinson Crusoe... And of course, I love you. Now leave me alone – I’m trying to work.

Anastasia Steele

Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP

_______________________________________________ She’s only eating a banana? You need to have something else with more substance baby. And if I were to be able to do all the things I have in mind, she needs protein... Make that a lot of protein. I quickly type her a reply.

_______________________________________________

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Is that all you’ve eaten?

Date: June 10, 2011 08:36

To: Anastasia Steele

You can do better than that baby. You’re going to need your energy for begging.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

_______________________________________________ Come on baby! You know I have issues with food... and knowing that she’s not getting enough of it when I’m in a position to provide for her is killing me here. Please eat baby! Her answering message dings in shortly. I feel excited like a teenager.

_______________________________________________

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Pest

Date: June 10, 2011 08:39

To: Christian Grey

Mr. Grey – I’m trying to work for a living – and it’s you that will be begging.

Anastasia Steele

Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP

_______________________________________________

How presumptuous of you Miss Steele! I think it’s be the other way around. I’ve got a few tricks under

my sleeve yet.

_______________________________________________

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Bring it on!

Date: June 10, 2011 08:41

To: Anastasia Steele

Why Miss Steele, I love a challenge...

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

_______________________________________________ I am an idiot! Why do I have this plastered grin on my face which is a complete 180 to what I was only a day ago... I have so much work to do today, and Taylor is waiting by the door with his impassive face; the only thing that gives his changed demeanor away is the glinting sparkle in his eyes. I shake my head at the wonder that Anastasia created in each of us... She’s one of a kind. The fact that she’s mine again puts on top of the world! (← I’m on Top of the World by The Carpenters)

Taylor and I leave to go to GEH, and the drive isn’t as busy, because we leave right after the rush hour traffic. Owning your own company has benefits like that.

As soon as I walk into my office, Andrea and the intern whose name I can’t remember rush to their feet. Upon noticing my I’m-in-hell-and-I’m-taking-everyone-with-me mood to be gone, and seeing my face not so much grinning like an idiot but it’s usual passive form, give both the girls a visible sigh of relief. Andrea eyes the intern and gives her an order with the motions of her eyes. The intern’s eyes light up like Christmas as realization dawns on her.

“Mr. Grey, can I bring in your coffee sir?”

Andrea is mortified. Normally, it’s a routine. She’s not to ask me; just do it. But, I’ll let it pass this time. I am in a great mood.

“And water please,” I say, and Andrea’s jaw drops to the floor with my non-scolding behavior.

“Certainly, sir,” she says, and Andrea follows me into my office. Taylor takes his usual, inconspicuous place at his corner, standing, looking ahead impassively.

“Sir, we need to go over the day’s agenda,” she says, and I hold up a hand to her before she can go any further.

“Andrea, I’m going to give you a name, and you and the intern,” I jab my thumb to back where the intern is located, “better commit this name to memory. That name is more important than any business deal, any merger, any company, anyone who wants to get in touch with me. If this particular person calls for any reason, even if it’s just to say hello, no matter what I’m doing, I want you to put her through.”

Andrea takes a step back almost to prevent herself from falling onto the floor when she hears the word ‘her’.

“Her, sir? Are you expecting a business call?” she asks to verify. And she frantically thumbs her list, going through the appointments for the day. I haven’t gotten a name for a ‘her’ sir for all of today’s interviews and meetings... Sir,” she says all flustered.

“Let me say it again: It doesn’t matter whether I’m in a very important merger meeting... it doesn’t matter if I’m entertaining the President of the United States; if she calls, she gets through. She’s not in the appointment list. She needs no appointment to reach me. If she calls, find me, immediately!”

“What’s the name sir?”

“Anastasia Steele,” I say proudly.

“What capacity shall her put her under sir? What’s her position in the company?”

“She’s your boss’ girlfriend; and you’d do well to remember that! That’s the only position she needs,” I say and Andrea tries her hardest to hold onto her professional demeanor and fails taken aback, flustered. Taylor tries to suppress a smile and fails. He turns his head to an inanimate object to distract his attention. Andrea, finally gathers herself, and says in a high pitched voice, “I’m sorry, sir, I thought you said, uhm, your boss's girlfriend... I mean my boss's girlfriend... I mean your girlfriend... Is that what you said sir? I’m trying to verify...” she says drifting off, going completely crimson. Guess, everyone else thought I was gay!

“Yes, Andrea! I said girlfriend. My girlfriend is Anastasia Steele. If she calls, she gets through no matter who I’m having a business meeting with!” I say firmly to Andrea who now has the look of someone who just swallowed a frog.

“Of course, sir. I will inform the intern,” she says with barely contained high pitch voice under the scrutiny of my gaze, and tries to scuttle away from the room.

“Andrea!” I call.

“Yes, sir?” she turns and asks.

“The meetings?” I ask raising my eyebrows.

Her face is completely puce, and she tries her hardest to compose herself. This makes me wonder how many people in my company thought of me as gay... Not that I would care what they thought one way or the other. I notice Taylor is trying to disguise his laugh with a cough which has never happened before, and gaining control, he assumes his former position with a passive face.

My day goes quite busy with work, and I’m barely containing my excitement waiting for the time to come and pick Anastasia up, constantly checking my time, unable to focus on the task at hand, although there is so much to do, so many meetings to get through; in fact I could be buried in work for days. But my mind is elsewhere.

As I’m in the middle of a meeting in regards to a clean energy cell phone we’re developing, my Blackberry buzzes in my pocket alerting me of an incoming e-mail. I get number of e-mails throughout the day, but I jump excitedly hoping that each one is from Anastasia. I happily note that this one is in fact from her. Of course the engineering team is here, along with the production team. I do my best to keep the idiotic grin off my face, and successfully keep my impassive one intact.

_______________________________________________

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Bored...

Date: June 10, 2011 16:05

To: Christian Grey

Twiddling my thumbs.

How are you?

What are you doing?

Anastasia Steele

Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP

_______________________________________________ How could simple words, strung out in simple sentences can make a worldly man like me drooling? Yet, here she is, sending me a simple three line message, getting me nearly combusting. Twiddling her thumbs, huh? I have many ways to get those thumbs busy if only she was here. Between the solar cells and creating batteries to be applicable to all brands of cell phones, I manage to type her a response: _______________________________________________

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Your thumbs

Date: June 10, 2011 08:15

To: Anastasia Steele

You should have come to work for me.

You wouldn’t be twiddling your thumbs.

I’m sure I could put them to better use.

In fact, I can think of a number of options right now...

I’m doing the usual humdrum mergers and acquisitions.

It’s all very dry.

Your e-mails at SIP are monitored.

Christian Grey

Distracted CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

_______________________________________________ Of course, I want her to be careful what she says online, especially when those e-mail messages are stored, and can be retrieved and viewed by a number of third parties. I know this to be a standard practice at SIP, because, well, I own it now.

I receive no more messages from Anastasia, but I need to know where to pick her up from. She hasn’t informed me on that yet. I’m also looking forward to meeting her boss - well, not so much looking forward to seeing him, but should he have any other ideas of making any more attempts to move in on my woman, he needs to get the message of who Anastasia belongs to; he’d do well to remember to keep his hands off her.

Before I leave GEH, I call Taylor.

“Yes, sir,” he responds.

“Did you do what I asked in regards to Anastasia’s car?”

“Yes, sir. I left it parked in her parking space. She can drive it anytime she wants to.”

“Great!” I nod. I want to say something else, but my Blackberry buzzes, and I hold a finger to hang on a minute.

_______________________________________________

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: You’ll fit right in

Date: June 10, 2011 17:36

To: Christian Grey

We’re going to a bar called Fifty’s.

The rich seam of humor that I could mine from this is endless.

I look forward to seeing you there, Mr. Grey.

Ax

_______________________________________________

I’m so glad she’s using her Blackberry. She can occasionally listen then. The thought makes me happy. I type her a response right away.

_______________________________________________

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Hazards

Date: June 10, 2011 17:38

To: Anastasia Steele

Mining is a very, very dangerous occupation.

Christian Grey

Distracted CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

_______________________________________________

She doesn’t waste any time to respond.

_______________________________________________

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Hazards?

Date: June 10, 2011 17:40

To: Christian Grey

And your point is?

_______________________________________________

Baby, you can easily find out if you’re that curious about it.

_______________________________________________

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Merely...

Date: June 10, 2011 17:42

To: Anastasia Steele

Making an observation, Miss Steele.

I’ll see you shortly.

Sooners rather than laters, baby.

Christian Grey

Distracted CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

_______________________________________________ The fact that I’m going to see my woman quite soon, makes me extremely happy. I have missed her a lot. I don’t know if I can be separated from her extended periods of time, like 24 hours. I need to be closer to her. The best I can handle is a workday, and even that is beyond long! (←No Ordinary Love by Sade)

I turn to Taylor who looks at me expectantly.

“Let’s go Taylor. Do you know a bar near Anastasia’s work called Fifty’s?”

“Yes, sir. Is that our destination?”

“Yes, it is.”

We drive to Fifty’s. Taylor drops me off, and I tell him to wait. I just want to pick my woman up, and get alone with her. Fifty’s is a cavernous, impersonal bar with baseball memorabilia and posters hanging on the walls. It’s like any ordinary bar; nothing exceptional. It takes me less than a minute to locate her. She’s in her jeans and the pale blue shirt that Taylor purchased for her at my request. She looks beyond beautiful, but who the hell is that crowding her, trapping my woman leaning against the bar over her? She’s clearly disturbed, and trying to give herself space where this fucker is trying to eliminate her breathing space! If it was possible to merge with her, he would have done it already! I quickly make my way to her. As soon as I reach Anastasia, I drape my arm around her shoulder in a possessive way claiming what’s mine; though to the outside world it seems a casual display of affection. I lean in and kiss her hair as my gaze is fixed on the fucking intruder. (←Surrender by Evanescence)

“Hello, baby,” I murmur, giving a clear indication what she is to me to anyone in hearing distance.

Her body had been tense, and she clearly relaxes soon after I encase her in to my embrace. So, she was disturbed by that guy, and my reaction was welcome. She wants to be in my arms. I know her body so well; I can read it like a book. Realizing she was tense under the scrutiny of the fucker, I draw her to my side completely in my embrace letting everyone in the bar and the fucker in the close vicinity know that

she is my woman, and mine alone! I stare impassively at the 30ish fucker letting him know just whose girlfriend he’s trying to move in on. Anastasia just sags in my embrace completely relaxed. I realize that his crowding was unwelcome, and he bothered her that much; I make a mental note to find out about this jerk down to his kindergarten teacher. I finally turn my attention to my woman, can’t help but give her a crooked smile and followed by a swift but a possessive kiss. She looks over my attire appreciatively. Her eyes missing nothing. She eyes my navy pinstriped jacked over jeans, and my open white shirt. She looks at me with hungry eyes. Hungry, wanton and desirous for me. This silent but heavily sexual exchange between us makes the fucker uncomfortable. Good! She isn’t yours to move in!

Anastasia finally finds her voice.

“Jack, this is Christian,” she mumbles almost apologetically.

“Christian, Jack,” she introduces me.

“I’m the boyfriend,” I say with a menacing smile, cool and possessive of my woman, and poison to the intruder. I extend my hand and shake Jack’s hand. He’s shrewdly assessing what’s before him.

“I’m the boss,” he replies to my declaration as if to say ‘I own your woman’ eight hours a day. Fuck you! I’m your boss’ boss! I own your ass! You don’t know who you are messing with! This pissing contest is the one you will lose, as your dick isn’t big enough to reach the farthest distance. No one moves in on my girlfriend!

Then the fucker has the arrogance to add “Ana did mention an ex-boyfriend.”

I see; so, that’s your game.

“Well, no longer ex,” I reply calmly. I will give your bag to your hand in the shortest time; you won’t know what hit you. Don’t play that game with me! He’s clearly indicating that it’s his playing field and he’s got home advantage by having my girlfriend under his thumb during the work hours of the day.

I stare at him… If looks could kill, you’d fucking be decimated. “Come on, baby, time to go.” I coax Anastasia.

“Please, stay and join us for a drink,” says Jack, aka the fucking stalker, space crowding boss smoothly. I don’t waste my time with fuckers like this, and I haven’t touched my woman in what seems like eternity.

“We have plans,” I reply with such a smile that he has no way of mistaking what sort of plans we have.

“Another time, perhaps,” I say knowing full well that there won’t be another time.

“Come,” I say to Anastasia as I take her hand.

“See you Monday,” she smiles at the group from her work, and the fucking boss is like he lost an important match in full public view, and nowhere to hide.

Taylor is at the wheel of the Audi and waiting at the curb.

“Why did that feel like a pissing contest?” Anastasia asks as I open the SUV’s door for her.

“Because it was,” I murmur to her smiling at her as the winner of the contest, and then I shut her door.

I slide in the SUV next to Anastasia, and as soon as I settle in, I take my woman’s hand gently kissing her knuckles. “Hi,” I say softly.

Anastasia's face turns pink, blushing. I love that girlie reaction from her. She’s ready to jump me, and she's on give-it-to-me-right-now mode. Oh, I intend to baby! I can see that she’s ready to be taken right in the backseat of the car. This has possibilities, but not in the full view of my driver. So, this fantasy will have to wait for when the two of us are alone.

“Hi,” she breathes in response.

“What would you like to do this evening?” I ask her. I want her to spell out everything.

“I thought you said we had plans,” she replies.

“Oh, I know what I’d like to do, Anastasia. I’m asking you what you want to do,” I say. She beams at me brightening. Okay then, we’re on the same page. I smile.

“I see,” I say with a wickedly salacious grin. “So… begging it is then. Do you want to beg at my place or yours?” I ask tilting my head to one side and smiling.

“I think you’re being very presumptuous, Mr. Grey. But by the way of a change, we could go to my apartment,” she replies. I’m game. She fucking bites her lip deliberately, knowing what it does to me, and my expression darkens.

“Taylor, Miss Steele’s place, please.” I say.

“Sir,” he acknowledges, and heads into the traffic towards her apartment.

“So, how has your day been?” I ask fishing for information.

“Good. Yours?” she asks.

“Good, thank you.”

I’m so fucking happy to have her here, I can’t stop wiping that idiotic grin off my face, and I kiss her hand again and again.

“You look lovely,” I say to her.

“As do you,” she replies. Why, Miss Steele, compliment from you? But, we aim to please.

But the fucker, her boss is clouding my mind with his moves on my girlfriend. I feel compelled to ask her if he’s making any moves ha harass her.

“Your boss, Jack Hyde, is he good at his job?” I ask casually.

She looks completely surprised. Then she frowns. “Why? This isn’t about your pissing contest, is it?”

I smirk at her in response. Of course it is. “That man wants into your panties, Anastasia,” I say dryly. Anastasia goes crimson, and her mouth drops open as she glances nervously at Taylor.

“Well, he can want all he likes… Why are we even having this conversation? You know I have no interest in him whatsoever. He’s just my boss.” She replies.

“That’s the point. He wants what’s mine. I need to know if he’s good at his job.” He can’t be making attempts to get into my woman's panties.

She shrugs. “I think so.” She has the 'where are you going with this' look all over her face.

“Well, he’d better leave you alone, or he’ll find himself on his ass on the sidewalk,” I spurt it out.

“Oh, Christian, what are you talking about? He hasn’t done anything wrong.” She responds to my ranting. What she’s forgetting is that he has all the potential to do both of us wrong.

“He makes one move, you tell me. It’s called gross moral turpitude or sexual harassment.”

“It was just a drink after work,” she replies.

“I mean it. One move and he’s out,” I respond firmly. She has better remember that.

“You don’t have that kind of power,” she replies. Oh, how wrong you are, baby! I do have that kind of power. Just as she’s about to roll her eyes, she’s stalled in the middle of the act when realization dawns, and her expression changes to one of shocked. “Do you Christian?” she asks trying to confirm her suspicion.

I give her a knowing smile.

“You’re buying the company,” she whispers almost in horror. Hearing the panic in her voice, I get anxious and my smile disappears. “Not exactly,” I say.

“You’ve bought it. SIP. Already,” she states, not so much a question.

I blink at her warily at her assessment. “Possibly,” I say.

“You have or you haven’t?” she asks to confirm.

“Have.”

Her eyes widen in shock and horror, her mouth drops open. “Why?” she gasps appalled. Is she going to run? She is mad! Extremely mad!

“Because I can, Anastasia. I need you safe.” I respond.

“But you said you wouldn’t interfere in my career!”

“And I won’t.” I reply.

She yanks her hand out of my hold.

“Christian…” she says in an admonishing voice.

“Are you mad at me?” I ask. Please Anastasia, give me something, because, you won’t let me, I have to find my own ways to protect you!

“Yes. Of course I’m mad at you,” she says seething. “I mean, what kind of responsible business executive makes decisions based on who they’re currently fucking?” she declares rather loudly, blanching. Finally she realizes that Taylor is in hearing distance, and he’s managing to stoically ignore us.

I open my mouth in complete shock, then close it, then open it, and close it again scowling. She glares at me. We’re both glowering each other. While we are still in the glowering match, we arrive at her apartment complex, and Taylor pulls up outside her apartment. The second car comes to a complete stop; Anastasia jumps out of the car, and speedily walks away. Running again? I sigh.

“Taylor, I think you’d better wait here,” I say, just in case she doesn’t want me. I double my way behind her and reach up to her as she’s struggling to find her front door keys inside her purse.

“Anastasia,” I say calmly as if she’s a cornered wild animal, then again, she is in a way. My personal tiger.

She sighs and turns to face me. She’s so mad at me her anger is quite palpable; you can almost taste the bitterness.

“First, I haven’t fucked you for a while – a long while, it feels, and second, I wanted to get into publishing. Of the four companies in Seattle, SIP is the most profitable, but it’s in the cusp and it’s going to stagnate…. It needs to branch out.”

She stares at me icily. I’m glaring back at her intensely, threatening even, but I’m not leaving till she hears me out. I haven’t gone through hell so it breaks down here! Again! I have a steel determination in my gaze.

“So you’re my boss now,” she snaps at me.

“Technically, I’m your boss’s boss’s boss.” I say.

“And, technically, it’s gross moral turpitude, the fact that I am fucking my boss’s boss’s boss,” she responds angrily.

“At the moment, you’re arguing with him,” I scowl. Although I don’t mind fucking. Who am I kidding? I’m dying here for her!

“That’s because he’s such an arse,” she hisses.

I sort of step back after her comment. Did she just say what I thought she did?

“An arse?” I murmur in amusement. She has the most correct observations sometimes. I can be an arse when it comes to protecting her. A mule more likely. Stubborn…

“Yes,” she replies trying to hide her amusement.

“An arse?” I ask again. Finally I can’t hide my own smile.

“Don’t make me laugh when I’m mad at you!” she shouts.

I smile at her knowing I’m going to win this argument. She’s grinning and laughing in response.

“Just because I have a stupid damn grin on my face doesn’t mean I’m not mad as hell at you,” she mutters breathlessly trying to suppress her grin and failing.

I lean in, and nuzzle her hair, inhaling it deeply.

“As ever, Miss Steele, you are unexpected,” and that’s one of the things I love about her. I lean back with humor in my eyes. “So, are you going to invite me in, or am I to be sent packing for exercising my democratic right as an American citizen, entrepreneur, and consumer to purchase whatever I damn well please?”

“Have you spoken to Dr. Flynn about this?” she says making me laugh. Oh, baby, my protectiveness of you wouldn’t change no matter what anyone said.

“Are you going to let me in or not, Anastasia?” (←Truly, Deeply, Madly by Savage Garden)

She tries to look grudging, bites her lip – damn it! But finally smiles and opens the door as wide as possible. I turn around and wave to Taylor, and he pulls away, and I know he’s grinning ear to ear. Because if I didn’t no one would be a happy camper tonight.

We walk into her apartment. Though Anastasia is trying to be mad at me, she fails the look. I pace around the apartment. Finally having her alone, all to myself. Finally, after a weeklong torture, she’s here in my presence, and I feel like a caged animal, in this small space, assessing my surroundings. I gaze at her and watch her demeanor change from angry to one of loving, heartwarming, and desirous.

“Nice place,” I say.

“Kate’s parents bought it for her,” she responds.

I nod completely distracted, and not at all interested in the place, but only in my woman. Right now, I only have eyes for her. (← For Your Eyes Only by Sheena Easton) My gaze moves around and rests on her, staring at Anastasia with a singular intent on my mind.

“Err... Would you like a drink?” she mutters, flushing nervously.

“No, thank you, Anastasia,” I say with my gaze darkening with want, and sexual need. All of a sudden she gets nervous.

“What would you like to do, Anastasia?” I ask softly as I walk towards her, completely feral and hot, and wanton. “I know what I want to do,” I say in a low voice as she won’t mistake my intent.

She backs up until she bumps into the concrete kitchen island. I am right in front of her.

“I’m still mad at you,” she says in a low voice.

“I know,” I smile apologetically, but not so much… Her face changes.

“Would you like something to eat?” she asks trying to distract me.

I nod slowly. “Yes. You,” I murmur. You are the most delectable meal right now. She just melts before me with my response. Her face and her body language changes to one of seduced. And with her response and my I-want-to-fuck-you-into-next-Sunday-senseless look gets her all hot and flustered. She has the look of I-want-you-yesterday look.

“Have you eaten today?” I murmur.

“I had a sandwich at lunch,” she whispers.

I narrow my eyes. “You need to eat,” and she needs the energy for what I want to do with her.

“I’m really not hungry right now…” she says, adding, “for food.”

“What are you hungry for, Miss Steele?” I say. I want her to be completely communicative and expressive.

“I think you know, Mr. Grey.” She replies.

I lean down, and she draws in her breath thinking I will kiss her, but I stop short of kissing.

“Do you want me to kiss you, Anastasia?” I whisper softly in her ear.

“Yes,” she breathes her response.

“Where?” I ask.

“Everywhere,” she replies. Not good enough. Be specific! I want you to spell it out baby!

“You’re going to have to be a bit more specific than that. I told you I’m not going to touch you until you beg me and tell me what do.”

She nearly convulses and writhes before me, all lost.

“Please,” she whispers.

“Please what?” I push.

“Touch me,” she replies.

“Where, baby?” say the words for me, Ana!

She’s inhaling my scent, writhing before me, and the distance between us is only enough for a piece of paper to pass through, but not touching. She reaches up, and I immediately step back.

“No, no,” I chide. I don’t want to be touched. I do, but I still can’t handle it.

“What?” she replies.

“No,” I shake my head.

“Not at all?” she asks longingly.

I’m torn. I want so much for her to touch me. I’m yearning for it in fact. But, it’s still very hard for me without spoiling everything else. I hesitate. She steps towards me, and I automatically step back holding my hands in defense, but still smiling. It’s a game.

“Look, Ana,” I say running my hands through my hair exasperated again.

“Sometimes you don’t mind,” she observes. “Perhaps I should find a marker pen, and we could map out the no-go areas,” she says and a light bulb flashes in my head.

“That’s not a bad idea. Where’s your bedroom?” I ask.

She nods the direction.

“Have you been taking your pill?” I ask. Her face changes in the negative, and mine falls in response.

“No,” she squeaks.

“I see,” I say, as my lips press into a thin line. “Come, let’s have something to eat,” I respond.

“I thought we were going to bed! I want to go to bed with you,” she pleads.

“I know, baby,” I smile, and suddenly the desire is too much to keep gated, I dart towards her, and grab her wrists and pull her into my arms, our bodies pressed against each other.

“You need to eat, and so do I,” I murmur, my eyes gazing down at her. “Besides… anticipation is the key to seduction, and right now, I’m really into delayed gratification,” I say.

“I’m seduced and I want my gratification now. I’ll beg, please,” she says with all her desire in her plea. I smile at her tenderly.

“Eat. You’re too slender,” I say kissing her forehead, and I release her. The hotter the desire, the more exponential is the fun. She scowls at me knowing I have a secret plan.

“I’m still mad that you bought SIP, and now I’m mad at you because you’re making me wait,” she says pouting.

“You are one angry little madam, aren’t you? You’ll feel better after a good meal,” I respond nonchalantly. Actually angry sex is great, because a lot of extra hormones are running to be relieved.

“I know what I’ll feel better after,” she says knowingly.

“Anastasia Steele, I’m shocked,” I say gently mocking. (←Notion by Kings of Leon)

“Stop teasing me. You don’t fight fair,” she says knowing full well what my intention is. I stifle a grin by biting my bottom lip.

We both gaze at each other – Anastasia hot, bothered and yearning, and I am relaxed and amused as I have complete control of all my sexual desires.

“I could cook something – except we’ll have to go shopping,” she says.

“Shopping?” I ask.

“For groceries,” she responds.

“You have no food here?” I ask as my expression hardens. She really has been starving herself all this week I realize in horror!

She shakes her head to confirm my assessment. I am so angry!

“Let’s go shopping, then,” I say sternly turning on my heel and heading for the door, opening it wide for her.

We walk to the nearest supermarket.

“When was the last time you were in a supermarket?” she asks.

I don’t think I’ve gone to a supermarket in ages. I don’t do grocery shopping. I feel out of place. But I follow Anastasia dutifully with a shopping basket in my hand.

“I can’t remember when I was in a grocery store,” I reply.

“Does Mrs. Jones do all the shopping?”

“I think Taylor helps her. I’m not sure,” I reply.

“Are you happy with a stir-fry? It’s quick,” she says making me grin. I’ll go for quick meal, and long enjoyable desert session.

“Stir-fry sounds good,” I reply still grinning.

“Have they worked for you long?”

“Taylor, four years, I think. Mrs. Jones about the same. Why didn’t you have any food in the apartment?” I ask still disturbed with the fact that she has nothing. Is it only because she was just distraught, or she couldn’t afford it? Both of the possibilities ache my heart.

“You know why,” she murmurs, flushing.

“It was you who left me,” I mutter disapprovingly.

“I know,” she replies in a small voice.

When we reach the checkout line, I want to ask her if she has wine.

“Do you have anything to drink?”

“Beer… I think,” she responds.

“I’ll get some wine,” I reply hastily running to their small liquor department. Quickly looking over the store’s very limited selection, I grimace. There’s nothing I like. I come back empty handed with a disgusted look on my face. Anastasia smiles at me and says, “There’s a good liquor store next door.”

“I’ll see what they have,” I reply and stroll out the door to go to the liquor store next door.

When we finally make it back to her apartment, I carry the grocery bags into her kitchen, and place them on the counter.

“You look very – domestic,” Anastasia observes making me smile.

“No one has ever accused me of that before,” I say dryly. Anastasia starts to unpack the grocery bags as I take out a bottle of white wine and search for a corkscrew.

“This place is still new to me. I think the opener is in that drawer there,” she nods point in its direction with her chin. She watches my movements, and with some thought she must have, she blushes.

“What are you thinking about?” I ask interrupting her reveries. My eyes are still on her as I shrug off my pinstripe jacket, and place it on the couch.

“How little I know you, really,” she responds honestly. I gaze at her as my eyes soften. I like you to get to know me much better.

“You know me better than anyone,” is my honest response to her.

“I don’t think that’s true,” she says and I know who she’s thinking.

“It is, Anastasia. I am a very, very private person,” I say as I hand her a glass of wine.

“Cheers,” I say.

“Cheers,” she responds as she takes a sip of her wine. I put the bottle in the fridge to keep chilling.

“Can I help you with that?” I ask offering my services to fix dinner.

“No its fine…sit,” she replies.

“I’d like to help,” I insist sincerely. I want to be part of what she is doing, however simple or complicated.

“You can chop the vegetables,” she tasks me.

“I don’t cook,” I say as I regard the knife she handed me.

“I imagine you don’t need to,” she says as she places a chopping board and some red peppers in front of me to slice. I stare down at them as I have no clue what to do with those or how they’re sliced.

“You’ve never chopped a vegetable?” she asks shocked.

“No,” I reply.

She smirks at me amused.

“Are you smirking at me?” I ask.

“It appears this is something that I can do and you can’t. Let’s face it, Christian, I think this is a first. Here, I’ll show you,” she says.

She brushes up at me accidentally, and her touch rattles the barrier I erected to keep my sex god caged, and he takes notice of her touch. I step back to keep the barrier up.

“Like this,” she says slicing into the red pepper as she carefully removes the seeds.

“Looks simple enough,” I say.

“You shouldn’t have any trouble with it,” she mutters ironically. It’s a first that she’s teaching me something, and I quite enjoy the fact that she is.

I gaze at her impassively for a moment, but then set about my task at hand. Anastasia continues to prepare the diced chicken. I start slicing my pepper carefully, and slowly trying to do a good job. Hey! I haven’t done this sort of menial task before. Give me a break!

Anastasia washes her hands, searching for the wok and the oil and she gathers the other ingredients she is planning to use to make the stir-fry. She starts repeatedly brushing against me rattling the cage I’ve housed my sex god away for the time being. Each of her touches rattles my cage more, weakening my defenses, chipping away the bars, strengthening my inner animal. She keeps brushing her hip... Dear God! Then her arm, her back, her hands with an onslaught of non-stop seemingly innocent attacks. I know she wants me, and she knows how to utilize her delectable assets.

“I know what you’re doing, Anastasia,” I murmur darkly warning her, still trying to slice my red pepper.

“I think it’s called cooking,” she says innocently fluttering her eyelashes. She grabs another knife and joins me at the chopping board peeling and slicing garlic, shallots, and French beans continually bumping at me in her close proximity. I already find her irresistible, my woman in the kitchen cooking. But this is unbearable!

“You’re quite good at this,” I mutter as I successfully start slicing into the second red pepper.

“Chopping?” she asks batting her eyelashes at me again. “Years of practice,” she says and brushes against me, with her behind! She knows how much I love her behind which I would love to have my hands and my lips all over right now! I still with her brushing.

“If you do that again, Anastasia, I am going to take you and fuck you on the kitchen floor,” I say darkly.

“You have to beg me first,” she responds.

“Is that a challenge?” I ask.

“Maybe,” she responds nonchalantly.

I put down the knife in my hand, and saunter slowly over to her, my eyes burning with singular desire. I lean past Anastasia, and turn off the stove. The oil in the wok stops sizzling almost immediately.

“I think we’ll eat later,” I say. “Put the chicken in the fridge,” I order as if to say get-ready-to-be-fuckedsenseless. She gasps her breath hitching. She picks up the diced chicken with shaky hands, place a plate on top, and store it in the fridge. I’m right behind her when she turns back and the space between us isn’t even enough to let air pass through.

“So you’re going to beg?” she whispers bravely gazing into my salacious eyes.

“No, Anastasia,” I shake my head. “No begging,” I say in a soft seductive voice.

We stand there for a minute staring at each other as our desire grows leaps and bounds, drinking in each other. The air between us charges, crackling as if we are two heavily charged thunder clouds and our energies are pulling and tugging at each other. Neither one of us says anything, just looking with intense desire in our eyes. She bites her lips, and I’m lost as my stance and my gaze changes in her body’s response and now her lip which is now in the captivity of her teeth.

In a heartbeat, I grab her by the hips and pull her to me, as my hands reach over to her hair, and I lower my head in a flash claiming her mouth forcefully with all my pent up desire and my sex god freed from

his cage and his carefully placed bonds. I push her against the fridge with my body, not leaving any space between us. I hear the rattle and protests of the contents of the fridge as my tongue finds her and starts its sensual tango. She moans with desire into my mouth, and with this sound one of my hands move into her hair pulling her head back and kiss her savagely and she matches my fervor with her own. I’m spent, and I want nothing but her, and lose myself in her for days if that’s what it takes.

“What do you want Anastasia?” I breathe. I still want her to spell it out, communicate with me fully.

“You,” she gasps.

“Where?” I ask.

“Bed,” is her short brusque response.

I break free of our kiss, and scoop my woman like a Neanderthal into my arms, and carry her quickly and efficiently into her bedroom. I set her on her feet beside her bed, lean down and turn on her side table lamp. I glance around the room quickly and hastily close her curtains not willing to give a peep show to her neighbors while we are in the throes of passion.

“Now what?” I ask softly.

“Make love to me,” she says. Oh, baby I intend to fulfill that desire of yours fully, but spell it out.

“How?” I ask probing further.

She frowns.

“You have got to tell me, baby,” I almost plead with her.

“Undress me,” she instructs me panting. I’d be glad to, darling!

Now we’re getting somewhere. I smile and hook my index finger into her open shirt, pulling her toward me.

“Good girl, “I murmur without taking my passionate eyes off hers and I slowly start unbuttoning her shirt. She puts her hands on my arms to steady herself. My arms are safe areas, so I don’t complain. When I’m finished with her shirt’s buttons, I pull the shirt over her shoulders, and she momentarily let’s go of my arms and lets the shirt fall onto the floor. I reach down to her waistband of her jeans, and undo the button, and pull down her zipper.

“Tell me what you want, Anastasia,” I say as my eyes are smoldering with passing and my breathing is quick and shallow to accommodate the pent up desire in me.

“Kiss me from here to here,” she whispers trailing her finger from the base of her ear down to her throat. I smooth her hair out of the line of fire of my lips and bed start kissing along the path of her finger softly and back again.

“My jeans and panties,” she murmurs, and I smile against her throat. Now, we’re getting somewhere. I quickly drop to my knees in front of her. She’s like a goddess before me. I hook my thumbs into her jeans, I gently pull them and her panties down both at the same time down her legs. She steps out of her pumps as well as her jeans and panties. She stands before me with nothing but her bra. I stop and look up expectantly to this fine specimen of woman before me. I don’t get up from my kneeling position.

“What now, Anastasia?” I ask.

“Kiss me,” she whispers.

“Where?” Tell me baby! Make me hot! Make me wanton! Fire me up! Burn me in your desire! Let me get lost in you! You alone have the power over me baby!

I’m taking no prisoners today. She looks embarrassed, and quickly points at the apex of her thighs, to her sex making me grin wickedly. She closes her eyes mortified and completely aroused.

“Oh baby, with pleasure,” I say chuckling. I kiss the apex of her thighs, and I unleash my tongue into her sex. She groans and fists her hands into my hand pulling me into her, merging me with her sex. It’s beyond hot, beyond wanton! I have wanted to be here so long! I don’t stop. My tongue circles her clitoris. My aim is simple: drive her insane, non-stop, make her want me, desire me, fuck me, love me, be mine once and for all forgetting everything even her name!

“Christian, please,” she begs.

“Please what, Anastasia?”

“Make love to me,” she says confusing me.

“I am,” I murmur as I blow gently against her sex.

“No. I want you inside me,” she orders.

“Are you sure?”

“Please,” she begs. I don’t stop my slow, sweet torture. She moans loudly.

“Christian…please.”

I stand finally and gaze down at her with her wetness and arousal evident on my lips for her to be seen.

“Well?” I ask.

“Well what?” she pants staring up at me frantically, barely contained desire, ready to combust any minute.

“I’m still dressed,” I say as she gapes at me in confusion.

She reaches up at my shirt, and I step back.

“Oh no,” I admonish her. She realizes that I mean my jeans. She finally gives me a wicked grin. Slowly drops to her knees in front of me. Oh God! That is so damn hot! With shaking fingers, she unbuckles my waistband and the fly, then rather forcefully yanks down my jeans as well as the boxers, and my erections springs forth to her line of vision. She peeks up at me through her lashes, and I gaze down at her in awe, surprise, and trepidation.

I step out of my jeans and pull off my socks. She takes a hold of my manhood in her hand squeezing it tightly pushing her hand back. I groan and tense, and my breath hisses through me clenched teeth. How I longed for this connection! Tentatively, she puts my entire length into her mouth and sucks…hard!

“Ahhh. Ana…who, gently,” I say. She seems to have missed me almost as much as I did her.

I cup her head tenderly, and she pushes me deeper into her mouth pressing her lips together as tightly as she can sheathing her teeth and sucking me hard.

“Fuck!” I hiss. (←Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon)

She swirls her tongue round and round around the end swirling, licking, and then pulling my length deeper in her throat again and again.

“Ana, that’s enough. No more,” I say. But she’s relentless. She keeps going.

“Ana, you’ve made your point,” I grunt through the gritted teeth. “I don’t want to come in your mouth.”

She won’t stop! Shit! I bend down, and grasp her by the shoulders, and haul her to her feet, and toss her on the bed. I pull my shirt over my head, and then toss it along with the other discarded clothes pile. Then reach down to my discarded jeans, and take out a condom packet from the jeans pocket. I’m panting with desire.

“Take your bra off,” I order. She sits up and does what she is told.

“Lie down. I want to look at you,” I say.

She lies down, gazing up at me. I pinch the tip, and roll the condom onto my length without breaking my gaze with her. The desire in her for me is thick. She wants me as much as I want her. I stare down at her and lick my lips.

“You are a find sight, Anastasia Steele,” I say as I bend over the bed, and slowly crawl up over her, but leaving behind a trail of kisses as I go. I kiss each of her breasts and tease her nipples in turn, licking, swirling them, slightly sucking and tugging at them. She groans and writhes beneath me, but I don’t stop.

“Christian, please,” she begs. It’s your turn to beg, baby!

“Please what?” I murmur smiling between her breasts.

“I want you inside me,” she whimpers.

“Do you now?” I ask tantalizingly.

“Please,” she begs some more.

I gaze at her, as I push her legs apart with my legs, and move hovering above her. I gaze at my woman with a salacious desire, and slowly sink into her depth with a delicious pace. She closes her eyes as she’s relishing in the fullness, completely sheathing me inside her as we feel the possession of each other. She instinctively tilts up her pelvis to meet mine, to welcome my manhood into her depths as if to suck me in to her, becoming one with me, groaning loudly. Her fingers find their way into my hair, and I slowly move in and out finally making love to my woman I have missed so damn much. I’m in heaven!

“Faster, Christian, faster…please,” she begs.

I gaze down at her triumphantly and kiss her hard claiming her mouth, her lips, her tongue, her sex in every possible way, and I really start to move, pushing, punishing, pounding into her in a fast rhythm. I feel her start to quicken as her legs tens beneath me. Her built up orgasm is my fuel to pound into her more, fuck her deeper, love her in a fiery passion.

“Come on, baby!” I gasp. “Give it to me.”

My words are her undoing, and we both explode in a magnificent, mind numbing orgasm into a million pieces, and I vaguely remember myself calling out her name like litany. In that moment there are no two other people who are more complete in oneness, merged in unity, becoming one in every sense of the word possible.

“Ana! Oh fuck, Ana!” I lament as I collapse on top of my beloved woman, completely, utterly and irrevocably in love with her, my head buried in her neck. The last thing I remember the verse coming to my head, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…”

I am a man on fire… I am desperately in love. At this moment, my life has irrevocably changed, and there’s no going back for me. (←Can't Help Falling In Love by Elvis Presley)

SHE TOOK MY HEART, SHE TOOK MY SOUL
CHAPTER V

Once we both descend from the heights of ecstasy, Anastasia opens up her eyes, and gazes into my face in some unfathomable expression. Love? (←Heaven by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald) My returning expression is soft and tender. I stroke my nose up against hers, making sure to hold my weight on my elbows while holding her hands by the side of her head. This way I’m in control, and though I desire her so much to touch me, I still can’t bear the thought of it. I give her a soft and gentle kiss on her lips, and slowly ease out of her.

This is where I want to be all the time, and this is part of what I’ve missed this whole week. The love, the connection, the desire, unity, and oneness of it.

“I’ve missed this,” I say in a breathy whisper.

“Me too,” she whispers back in a confession. I can’t imagine someone being in her, holding her, giving her what I want to give, fucking her, kissing her... The thought of it just drives me crazy. I take a hold of her chin and kiss her deep and hard; a passionate and a beseeching kiss. Asking her to be mine and mine

alone with my kiss. Asking her to not to leave me again. She reciprocates, and is breathless after our kiss.

“Don’t leave me again,” I implore, begging her with my eyes, my face serious.

“Okay,” she whispers and smiles at me. I search her face, and seeing that she too is serious, I smile back at her with relief and elation, and youthful delight.

“Thank you for the iPad,” she says.

“You’re most welcome, Anastasia,” I respond.

“What’s your favorite song in there?” she asks.

“Now that would be telling,” I say grinning. I think quite a few of them are my favorites as they represent different memories of Anastasia and I. It’d be hard to pinpoint one. But “Possession” and “Every Breath You Take” would top the list. (Possession by Sarah McLachlan)

“Come cook me some food, wench. I’m famished,” I say giddy, sitting up suddenly and dragging Anastasia with me.

“Wench?” she asks giggly.

“Wench. Food, now, please.” I say like a man from the Middle Ages.

“Since you ask so nicely, sire, I’ll get right on to it.”

She scrambles out of the bed, and along the way her pillow is dislodged which reveals a deflated Charlie Tango helicopter balloon underneath. I reach for it, holding it in my hand and gaze up to Anastasia, puzzled with the discovery. This is the balloon I sent over along with the Bollinger when she and her roommate Kate first moved in here. She’s kept the balloon all this time?

“That’s my balloon,” she says in a proprietary tone, and reaches for her robe and wraps it around herself.

“In your bed?” I murmur questioning.

“Yes,” she flushes as she answers me. “It’s been keeping me company,” she replies.

“Lucky Charlie Tango,” I say, in surprise.

“My balloon,” she says and turns on her heel, heading out to the kitchen.

Her simple declaration makes me realize that she truly loves me, and she has missed me all this time. It wasn’t just me! My feelings are reciprocated, and Anastasia Steele loves me so much that she had to have a simple balloon I’ve sent representing something between us had kept it in her bed! Close to herself, close to her body, close to her mind! She loves me! The realization elates me and I’m grinning ear to ear.

******

When the food is finally ready, Anastasia and I sit on the Persian rug on the floor and eat stir-fry chicken and noodles from her white china bowls with chopsticks and sip child white Pinot Grigio. I lean against the couch and stretch my legs in front of me. I’m wearing my jeans commando, and t-shirt. My iPod is on and Buena Vista Social Club is crooning “Besame mucho”. How apt... ‘Kiss me a lot’. I look at her lovingly as I mouth the lyrics to her. (←Bésame Mucho by Buena Vista Social Club)

Bésame, bésame mucho Como si fuera esta noche La última vez Bésame, bésame mucho Que tengo miedo a tenerte Y perderte otra vez

Kiss me, kiss me a lot As if tonight were The last time Kiss me, kiss me a lot For I am afraid of having you And losing you all over again.

Bésame, bésame mucho Como si fuera esta noche La última vez Bésame, bésame mucho Que tengo miedo a tenerte Y perderte otra vez Quiero tenerte muy cerca Mirarme en tus ojos Verte junto a mi Piensa que tal vez mañana Yo ya estaré lejos Muy lejos de ti Bésame, bésame mucho Como si fuera esta noche La última vez Bésame, bésame mucho Que tengo miedo a tenerte Y perderte otra vez Quiero tenerte muy cerca Mirarme en tus ojos Verte junto a mi Piensa que tal vez mañana Yo ya estaré lejos Muy lejos de ti Bésame, bésame mucho Como si fuera esta noche La última vez Bésame, bésame mucho Que tengo miedo a tenerte Y perderte otra vez

Kiss me, kiss me a lot As if tonight were The last time Kiss me, kiss me a lot For I am afraid of having you And losing you all over again. I want to have you close to me To see myself in your eyes To see you next to me Think that perhaps tomorrow I will be far So far away from you Kiss me, kiss me a lot As if tonight were The last time Kiss me, kiss me a lot For I am afraid of having you And losing you all over again. I want to have you close to me To see myself in your eyes To see you next to me Think that perhaps tomorrow I will be far So far away from you Kiss me, kiss me a lot As if tonight were The last time Kiss me, kiss me a lot For I am afraid of having you And losing you all over again.

“This is good,” I say finally appreciatively about my food, as Anastasia made it for us...for me. She grins as she sits cross legged beside me, also finally eating heartily, beyond hungry, but not just for food, and I notice her admiring my bare feet.

“I usually do all the cooking. Kate isn’t a great cook,” she comments.

“Did your mother teach you?” I ask her.

“Not really,” she scoffs. “By the time I was interested in learning, my mom was living with Husband Number Three in Mansfield, Texas. And Ray, well, he would have lived on toast and takeout if it wasn’t for me,” she says. That comment surprises me. I would have thought she had stayed with her mother. I gaze down at her and ask, “You didn’t stay in Texas with your mom?”

“No. Steve, her husband and I, we didn’t get along. And I missed Ray. Her marriage to Steve didn’t last long. She came to her senses, I think. She never talks about him,” she adds quietly. I wonder what went wrong, what the step-father did to Anastasia to make her dislike him so much.

“So you came back to Washington to live with your stepfather,” I observe.

“Yes,” she confirms.

“Sounds like you looked after him,” I say softly. She’s a caregiver, and a considerate daughter.

“I suppose,” she says shrugging.

“You’re used to taking care of people,” I conclude. She glances up at me noticing the hidden thought in my voice.

“What is it?” she asks startled by my wary expression.

I gaze at her. She’s taken care of others all her young life. She hasn’t known what it means to be taken care of. I realize that this is why she’s apprehensive when I try to take care of her. It’s not something she’s used to.

“I want to take care of you,” I declare with all my love and passion though I try to hide them.

Her breathing increases, her lips part as she gaze searching my face. “I’ve noticed,” she whispers. “You just go about it in a strange way,” she adds with a small smile on her face.

My brow creases with her assessment. “It’s the only way I know how,” I say quietly. And it wouldn’t change a thing. We both have our issues. She’s not used to being taken care of, but then again, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take care of her no matter how strange she finds my ways. My end goal is to make her safe, well cared for, and loved. I can’t get rid of the urge, the desire in me.

“I’m still mad at you for buying SIP,” she comments.

I smile. “I know, but you being mad, baby, wouldn’t stop me.” I’d find a way to get around it. If you know me well enough, you’d know that I’d do everything in my power to keep you safe.

“What am I going to say to my work colleagues, to Jack?”

His name boils my blood knowing what I know about him. I narrow my eyes on her. “That fucker better watch himself,” I say through my gritted teeth.

“Christian!” she admonishes me. “He’s my boss.”

Not if I could help it! But I say nothing. My mouth presses into a hard line.

“Don’t tell them,” I say.

“Don’t tell them what?” she asks.

“That I own it. The heads of agreement was signed yesterday. The news is embargoed for four weeks while the management at SIP makes some changes.”

“Oh...” she responds. “Will I be out of a job?” she asks alarmed. Not when I run the company.

“I sincerely doubt it,” I say wryly, trying to stifle a smile. The company is mine to do as I please. No one is going to dare to fire my girlfriend if he or she wants to keep his or her job! She scowls.

“If I leave and find another job, will you but that company, too?” she asks. What? Is she already contemplating to leave because I bought the SIP?

“You’re not thinking of leaving, are you?” I ask as my expression alters, wary again.

“Possibly. I’m not sure you’ve given me a great deal of choice,” is her response.

Fine then. Play it that way!

“Yes, I will buy that company, too,” I say adamantly. What is it so hard for her to understand? I will go any extent to keep her safe and secure. She’s my girl! My woman! My girlfriend! All around mine, body and soul, as I am hers... She scowls at me.

“Don’t you think you’re being a tad overprotective?”

“Yes. I’m fully aware of how this looks,” I say.

“Paging Dr. Flynn,” she murmurs.

You don’t want to play that game with me Anastasia. You’ll lose. I put down my empty bowl and gaze at her impassively. She sighs, giving up. She stands up, and reaches for my bowl.

“Would you like desert?” she asks.

“Now you’re talking!” I say, giving my woman a lascivious grin.

“Not me,” she reprimands. “We have ice cream. Vanilla,” she says realizing its double meaning and snickers.

“Really?” I say as my grin gets bigger. “I think we could do something with that,” I say as I get up to my feet.

“Can I stay?” I ask Anastasia.

“What do you mean?” she asks.

“The night.”

“I assumed that you were,” she says flushing. The knowledge of that makes me happy.

“Good. Where’s the ice cream?” I ask.

“In the oven,” she says smiling at me sweetly. Sarcasm from you Miss Steele? I cock my head to one side, and sigh shaking my head at her. “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, Miss Steele,” I say with glittering eyes.

“I could take you across my knee,” I say mischievously. She puts the bowls in the sink and turns to me.

“Do you have those silver ball things?” My eyes glint. I pat my hands down my chest, belly and pockets of my jeans. “Funny enough, I don’t carry a spare set around with me. Not much call for them in the office,” I respond.

“I’m very glad to hear it, Mr. Grey, and I thought you said that sarcasm was the lowest form of wit,” she replies.

“Well, Anastasia, my new motto is if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

She gapes at my response, and I grin back at her reaction. I turn back, and open the freezer and take out the carton of Ben & Jerry’s finest vanilla ice-cream.

“This will do just fine,” I say looking up at my beautiful girlfriend with dark eyes. “Ben & Jerry’s & Ana,” I say each word slowly, enunciating every syllable clearly giving my intent to her in plain terms.

The lascivious expression on my face makes Anastasia gape at me. I open her cutlery drawer and grab a spoon. When I look up, my eyes are hooded, heavy with desire for Ana; and my tongue skims my top teeth. Anastasia looks wanton, excited and desirous. (I’ll Make Love to You by Boyz 2 Men)

“I hope you’re warm,” I whisper. “I’m going to cool you down with this. Come,” I say holding out my hand for her and she places hers into mine.

When we get into her bedroom, I place the ice-cream on top of the side table, pull off the duvet, and remove both the pillows in a pile on the floor.

“You have a change of sheets, don’t you?” I ask as these ones will be sticky when I’m done with her. She nods with fascination. I hold up Charlie Tango balloon.

“Don’t mess with my balloon,” she warns me. Her reaction makes my lips quirk up in a smile.

“I wouldn’t dream of it baby, but I do want to mess with you and these sheets,” I say and she nearly convulses with this declaration.

“I want to tie you up,” I say.

“Okay,” she whispers with anticipation.

“Just your hands. To the bed. I need you still.”

“Okay,” She whispers again, unable to say anything else. My entire body is fixed on Anastasia and I have nothing but immense desire for her. I stroll over to her without taking my eyes off hers.

“We’ll use this,” I say showing her the sash of her robe and with torturous, teasing slowness, I release the bow, and gently pull it free of the robe. As her robe falls open, Anastasia remains frozen under my sweltering gaze. Without taking my eyes off her, I push her robe off her shoulders. The garment falls and pools at her feet and she stands before me gloriously naked. My breath hitches at her beauty. My hand reaches up and I stroke her face with the backs of my knuckles to which she responds by closing her eyes lost in desire. I bend down and kiss her lips briefly.

“Lie on the bed, face up,” I murmur as my eyes darken with desire burning into hers.

She does exactly what she’s told; lying on the bed facing up in the relative darkness. The only light in the room is from the side table shines weakly. I stand by the bed gazing down at this beauty that is my girlfriend unable to break connection.

“I could look at you all day Anastasia,” I say truthfully as I crawl on the bed, up on her body, and I straddle my woman.

“Arms above your head,” I order.

She immediately complies and I fasten end of her robe sash around her left wrist and thread the end through the metal bar of her head board. I pull it tight so her left arm is flexed above her. I then tie up her right arm in the same manner tightly.

When she’s completely tied up, she stares at me, and I am now completely relaxed knowing she won’t be able to touch me. This way I’m in control. She looks at me with some unknown emotion, some certain realization. I smile.

I finally climb off her and bend down give her a quick kiss on her lips. I then stand and pull my shirt off of my head, and undo my jeans and drop them both on the floor.

I too am naked before her, and she is assessing what is before her, liking what she’s seeing. I move to the end of the bed, and grasp her ankles, and sharply pull her downward so her arms are stretched out and she’s unable to move, completely at my beckoning.

“That’s better,” I mutter.

I finally pick up the Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream, smoothly climb back on top of the bed, and straddle my woman once more who is naked beneath me just like I am. There’s nothing between us. I very slowly peel the lid off the ice-cream, and dip the spoon in.

“Hmm... it’s still quite hard,” I say raising my eyebrows. I scoop a spoonful of vanilla, and put it into my mouth. “Delicious,” I murmur, licking my lips. “Amazing how good plain old vanilla can taste,” I say gazing down at her smirking. “Want some?” I tease my woman.

She nods shyly at my question. I scoop another spoonful and offer her the spoon, and she opens her mouth, but I quickly put the spoon into my own mouth again, teasing her.

“This is too good to share,” I say smiling wickedly.

“Hey,” she protests.

“Why, Miss Steele, do you like your vanilla?” I ask with double meaning.

“Yes,” she says forcefully and tries to buck me off. I laugh at her fiery reaction. “Getting feisty, are we? I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” I say.

“Ice cream,” she pleads.

“Well, as you’ve pleased me so much today, Miss Steele,” I say and yield to her offering her another spoonful and let her lips close around the spoon. I scoop another spoonful and feed her once again.

“Hmm, well, this is one way to ensure you eat,” I say, adding, “Force-feed you. I could get used to this.”

I take another spoonful and offer it to her, but this time she keeps her lips closed and shakes her head. I let the ice cream melt in the spoon, and the melted ice-cream slowly drips onto her throat, onto her chest. I dip down and very slowly lick it off. She lights up with desire.

“Mmm. Tastes even better off you, Miss Steele,” I comment.

Anastasia pulls against her restraints, and her small bed creaks under our weight. Her eyes are full of burning desire. I take another spoonful and let the ice-cream melt again letting it dribble onto her breasts. With the back of the spoon, I spread the dribbles over her breast and her nipples.

Her nipples perk up and harden under the cold of the ice-cream.

“Cold?” I ask softly bending down and licking and suckling the ice-cream off her nipples and breasts. She’s cold under the ice-cream, and hot under my lips giving her an amazing sensation. It’s torturous and sensual all at the same time. I slowly continue my ministrations, and delicious torture of my lips, sucking hard, nuzzling, softly as the rivulets of melted ice-cream runs off her body onto the bed as I continue my licking and sucking while she’s writhing under me and panting hard.

“Want some?” I say, and before she can answer me, my tongue darts into her mouth, finding hers, and start its delicious assaults in her mouth making her moan with desire.

Just as she’s panting for more, I sit up, and trail a spoonful of ice-cream down the center of her body, all across her belly, and into her navel where I deposit a large dollop of ice-cream.

“Now, you’ve done this before,” I say as my eyes burn into her. “You’re going to have to stay still, or there will be ice-cream all over the bed. Her breath hitches with excitement and expectation, and I lean down and kiss each of her breasts and suck both her nipples quite hard, then follow the line of ice cream down her body, sucking and licking in delicious torture as I go.

She does her best to remain still, but, my touch, and ministrations of my tongue combined with the cold of ice-cream make her move, and she start gyrating, caught in the spell. I shift lower and start eating the ice-cream off her belly and swirl my tongue in and around her navel driving her crazy. She moans loud, but I continue my tantalizing moves. I trail the ice-cream down into her pubic hair, and onto her clitoris. She cries out loudly with passion and desire, and arousal.

“Oh...God! Please... Christian.”

“I know, baby, I know,” I breathe as I work my tongue on her sex. I don’t stop, and continue tantalizing her, working my magic, and she climbs higher, and higher. I then slip one finger inside her, and then another and start moving agonizingly slow in and out.

“Just here,” I murmur and rhythmically stroke the front wall of her vagina as I continue my relentless licking and sucking finally making Anastasia erupt into a mind-blowing orgasm making her writhe and groan. At that point I stop my ministrations. I hover over Anastasia and rip a packet of condom, pinching the tip roll it onto my length, and then I slide inside my woman hard and fast.

“Oh, yes!” I groan as I slam into her. The residual ice-cream is sticky between us, but it creates a different, distracting sensation. After a few strokes, I pull out of Anastasia, and flip her over.

“This way,” I murmur and quickly slide inside her again, but this time, I don’t start my punishing rhythm right away. I lean over and release her hands, and pull Anastasia upright so she’s practically sitting on me. My hands move up to her breasts, and I capture them both inside my palms. I start tugging on her nipples. She groans with pleasure, and tosses her head back against my shoulder. I nuzzle her neck, biting down, I flex my hips, and painfully slowly, I enter into her again, filling her to the brim.

“Do you know how much you mean to me?” I breathe into her ear.

“No,” she says with her breathy gasp.

I smile at her neck, and my fingers curl around her jaw and her throat holding onto her fast for a moment. She knows how much she means to me! I’ve shown it to her over and over again! I harrowed hell for her, I’d move heaven and earth for her. I’d die for her!

“Yes, you do. I’m not going to let you go,” I say fervently.

She groans knowing my meaning, and I pick up my speed as I slam into her, claiming her once again. It’s not just fucking. It’s not just laying claim on her. It’s my declaration of love for her, that she’s mine, and I am hers! It’s as if we always belonged to each other, and with that realization I know that we always will. I love her more than words can express!

“You are mine, Anastasia!” I declare. (Your Love is King by Sade)

“Yes, yours,” she says panting.

“I take care of what’s mine,” I hiss through my teeth and bit her ear possessively.

She cries out.

“That’s right, baby, I want to hear you,” I say.

I snake my hand around her waist while grasping her hip with the other hand, I push into her harder and faster as if there’s no tomorrow making her cry out in a punishing rhythm. My breathing grows harsher, ragged as does hers.

At this moment, both of us are full of sensation, intoxicated with each other’s presence, with our love making; it’s completely magical. She’s completely mine, and I’m completely hers.

“Come on, baby,” I growl through my gritted teeth, and we both find our release together at my beckoning.

We’re both curled up against each other, and she’s in my arms on her sticky sheets. My front is pressed to her back, and as usual, my nose is in her hair, inhaling her womanly scent deeply.

“What I fee for you frightens me,” she whispers making me completely still.

This is exactly how I feel for her. In her presence, I lose reason. I care for nothing else, not even my own life. She’s all I think about, all I care! Without her, life is a perpetual night, no light in sight. No hope. With her, I feel I can conquer the world. She’s my biggest strength as well as my greatest weakness.

“Me too, baby,” I say quietly acknowledging my own fears.

“What if you leave me?” she asks in a small voice horrified.

“I’m not going anywhere. I don’t think I could ever have my fill of you, Anastasia.” It’s not just that. Her presence relaxes me, centers me; as if I had been a lost planet, finally finding my sun.

She turns to gaze at me. I have a serious but sincere expression on. I smile, and I reach up and tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear.

“I’ve never felt the way I felt when you left, Anastasia. I would move heaven and earth to avoid feeling like that again,” I confess sad and dazed remembering how my life shattered under my feet, and how everything looked bleak and life felt unbearable.

She kisses me again. With the elation she’s in my arms, and the strength her kiss gives me I ask, “Will you come with me to my father’s summer party tomorrow? It’s an annual charity thing. I said I’d go.”

She smiles but suddenly looks very shy. (←Baby I Love Your Way by Big Mountain)

“Of course I’ll come,” she says, but her face falls with some unsaid concern.

“What?” I probe.

“Nothing,” she answers. I won’t have it! She is my woman! If she has a problem, an issue, I am more than capable of fixing it.

“Tell me,” I insist. Otherwise my mind will run free and I don’t like what I am capable of thinking of.

“I have nothing to wear,” she answers. Oh good. This can be resolved easily. But, remembering how I have not returned and kept all her clothes, and knowing that she hates me buying and giving her things, I feel uncomfortable.

“Don’t be mad, but I still have all those clothes for you at home. I’m sure there are a couple of dresses in there,” I say.

She purses her lips. “Do you, now?” she mutters in a sardonic voice. But she gives in, and gets up.

She isn’t running, is she?

“Where are you going?” I ask.

“To take a shower,” she replies sweetly.

“Oh…in that case, can I join you?” She smiles.

“I thought you were.”

When we come out of the shower, I help Anastasia take the sticky sheets off the bed, and help her put on clean sheets. We crawl under the clean, spring breeze smelling sheets. Anastasia lays her back to me, and I pull her into my embrace spooning her. Her arms reach behind her pulling my head down. She twists her head, exposing her neck. I nuzzle into her neck and I find her lips seeking mine. I return her kiss, but suddenly our kiss deepens, sweetens and goes on and on. We’re both breathless by the time I manage to break the kiss. “God, Ana! What are you doing to me?” I ask.

“I could say the same thing to you,” she replies.

“You’ve had a long day. Go to sleep baby,” I say. I hum a soft tune for her to fall asleep. Pretty soon, we both drift into sleep. (←Lullaby by Dixie Chix)

Anastasia is trashing around my arms, screaming.

“No!” she screams first.

“Who are you? Me? I’m nobody… Are you nobody, too…?” she mumbles in her sleep.

“No, God! No!” she gives out a blood curdling scream.

“Ana!” I shake her, but she won’t wake up and continues to scream as if she’s seen the face of the devil.

“Jesus Christ! Ana! Wake up baby!” I grab her shoulders and shake her awake. I can barely see her face in the dim lights that are seeping through the curtains. She’s inhaling a shaky breath, looking at her surroundings with bewildered eyes.

“Baby, are you okay? You were having a bad dream,” I tell her.

“Oh,” she replies. I turn the side table lamp on, and its dim light bathes us. I gaze down at her, my face etched with concern for her.

“The girl,” she whispers.

“What is it? What girl?” I ask soothingly as if to calm a wild animal down.

“There was a girl outside SIP when I left this evening. She looked like me... but not really,” she says and my mind immediately goes to Leila.

“When was this?” I whisper, completely dismayed. I sit up stare at her trying to get the whole story from her.

“When I left this afternoon. Do you know who she is?” she asks.

“Yes,” I say as I run a hand through my hair in exasperation.

“Who?” Anastasia asks.

My mouth goes into a taut hard line, and I say nothing. I don’t want to give her the name of an ex, and lose her again. I don’t want Anastasia running from me. I can’t handle that again!

“Who?” she probes forcefully.

“It’s Leila,” I confess finally.

Anastasia swallows with realization. She’s heard that name before. The girl who altered my iPod music selection. That’s what she knows anyway. I am quite tense. So, Leila tried to contact Anastasia. My worries are proving themselves to be right. Anastasia looks at me questioning as if to ask what’s going on.

“The girl who put ‘Toxic’ on your iPod?” she asks. Oh shit! She remembered. l glance at Anastasia anxiously. (Toxic by Britney Spears)

“Yes,” I reply. “Did she say anything?” I ask.

“She said, ‘what do you have that I don’t have?” and when I asked who she was, she said, ‘nobody.’ “

I close my eyes in pain. So, this confirms my worry. I do harm other people. I possibly harmed other women who once had been in my life. I have hurt Leila, and she may be in the predicament she’s in because of me. I have caused her to snap! I have to find her and get her the help she needs! That’s the least I can do for her considering it’s my damage! Anastasia looks at me anxiously as I climb out of the bed. I pull my jeans on, and head to the living room. It’s early in the morning. Anastasia’s clock on her side table reads five a.m.

She rolls out of bed behind me. When she comes out she’s got her shirt on. I already have dialed Welch. He answers on the third ring.

“Welch!” He sounds groggy, but, as soon as my voice registers in his head, he snaps to attention.

“Yes, Mr. Grey,” he replies completely awake.

Leila tried to contact Anastasia outside of SIP,” I summarize.

“Anastasia?” he asks, but realizes who I’m speaking of. “Oh, Miss Steele. You said outside of SIP? When sir?” he asks.

“Yes, outside of SIP, yesterday… early evening,” I reply quietly. As Anastasia moves into the kitchen, I turn to her and ask, “What time exactly?”

“About ten to six?” she mumbles in a questioning tone. My gaze is on Anastasia without leaving her out of my sight for a second. What is she thinking?

“Do you know how she found out Miss Steele, or her workplace sir?”

“That’s your job. Find out how…”

“She’s very crafty sir. Do you think Miss Steele is in danger from her?”

“Yes… I wouldn’t have said so, but then I wouldn’t have thought she could do this.” I close my eyes in pain. Leila can harm herself out there, but then I fear she may also try to harm Anastasia. The thought is scary and unsettling.

“What action do you wish us to take sir? Clearly she’s not in her right mind. What do you think she might do next?”

“I don’t know how that will go down…” I say.

“Sir, you might want to let Miss Steele know that she might be in danger. It’s important that she’s vigilant,” Welch warns me.

“Yes, I’ll talk to her…” I agree.

“It’s quite serious sir. If she is capable of finding Miss Steele’s workplace where we can’t find where she is with a lot of capable men looking for her, it spells out that the situation is extremely serious sir.”

“Yes… I know…”

“We’ll follow the information you’ve provided, and check SIP’s security cameras, sir.”

“Follow it up and let me know. Just find her, Welch… she’s in trouble. Find her,” I say and hang up.

I hear Anastasia’s tea cattle whistling.

“Do you want some tea?” she asks me impassively.

“Actually, I’d like to go back to bed,” I say looking at her meaningfully indicating just why I want to go to bed for, and it’s not for sleep. After this morning's turn of events, I just want to forget everything, and lose myself in Anastasia. She’s my panacea for every problem.

But Anastasia, being Anastasia says, “Well, I need some tea. Would you like to join me for a cup?” Oh God! She’s going for the Spanish Inquisition. She’s rebuttaling my sex request. I run my hand through my hair again, exasperated once more. But finally say, “Yes, please,” and my irritation is already in my voice.

She senses my eyes on her. I feel uncertain about her possible reaction to what is going on right now, and my anger is very palpable at Leila for going and harassing Anastasia at work.

“What is it?” she asks me softly.

I shake my head.

“You’re not going to tell me?” she asks.

I sigh, and close my eyes, “No,” I reply.

“Why?” she probes more.

“Because it shouldn’t concern you. I don’t want you tangled up in this,” I reply. This is a problem of my own creation, and I should be the one to resolve it.

“It shouldn’t concern me, but it does. She found me and accosted me outside my office. How does she know about me? How does she know where I work? I think I have a right to know what’s going on,” she makes her case.

I run my hand through my hair again, completely frustrated knowing she’s right, and I have an internal struggle between to tell Anastasia what’s going on, and how much of what’s going on, or telling her at all. I don’t want her to run if she doesn't like what she finds out.

“Please?” she asks softly. My mouth is set into a hard grim line, and I roll my eyes at her finally acquiescing.

“Okay,” I say, resigned. “I have no idea how she found you. Maybe the photograph of us in Portland, I don’t know.” I sigh, completely frustrated at myself for putting her directly in line of danger.

Anastasia silently waits for me to say something as she pour boiling water into the teapot, and I pace back and forth in frustration. Finally I find my voice to explain her what happened while I was in Georgia with her.

“While I was with you in Georgia, Leila turned up at my apartment unannounced and made a scene in front of Gail.”

“Gail?” she asks confused.

“Mrs. Jones.”

“What do you mean, ‘made a scene’?” she asks.

I glare at her, trying to think how much to tell her, or whether to tell her anything else.

“Tell me. you’re keeping something back,” she says in a forceful tone. I blink at her tenacity, completely surprised. “Ana, I-“ I say and stop. I don’t want to tell her more than she needs to know, and involve her into my problems.

“Please?” she begs.

I sigh, knowing myself to be defeated. “She made a haphazard attempt to open a vein.”

“Oh no!” she exclaims.

“Gail got her to hospital. But Leila discharged herself before I could get there.

Anastasia gets a panicky look on her face, her mouth open, not knowing what to say.

“The shrink who saw her called it a typical cry for help. He didn’t believe her to be truly at risk – one step from suicidal ideation, he called it. But I’m not convinced. I’ve been trying to track her down since then to get her some help.”

“Did she say anything to Mrs. Jones?” asks Anastasia.

I gaze at her. I’m not feeling comfortable letting Anastasia know everything. For one, I’m too afraid of her running. Running from me. Where would that leave me? In the same perpetual hell I’ve been all last week; and if I can’t last a week, how can I last even longer?

“Not much,” I finally say.

Anastasia busies herself by pouring tea into the teacups. She looks apprehended, worried, but keeps her composure.

“You can’t find her? What about her family?” she asks.

“They don’t know where she is. Neither does her husband,” I say.

“Husband?” Anastasia says shocked.

“Yes,” I say distracted, “she’s been married for about two years,” I reply.

Anastasia turns to me abruptly in a completely shocked expression. “So she was with you while she was married?” she looks at me as if to say ‘have you no decency?’ How could she think that of me?

“No! Good God, no. She was with me nearly three years ago. Then she left and married this guy shortly afterward,” I answer her spoken and unspoken question.

She gives a visible sigh of relief. “So why is she trying to get your attention now?” she asks.

I shake my head sadly, knowing that it had to be something I might have done to her. “I don’t know. All we’ve managed to find out is that she ran out on her husband about four months ago.”

“Let me get this straight. She hasn’t been your submissive for three years?” asks Anastasia.

“About two and a half years,” I correct her.

“And she wanted more,” she probes again.

“Yes,” I reply truthfully.

“But you didn’t?” she asks more.

“You know this,” I reply in the affirmative.

“So she left you,” Anastasia concludes.

“Yes,” I confirm.

“So why is she coming to you now?” she asks the question that has been bugging me all along. Why me? Why now? And most importantly, what have I done to her?

“I don’t know,” I say, but not before my voice gives away that I have a theory.

“But you suspect...” says Anastasia correctly interpreting my meaning.

My eyes narrow with anger geared towards me and Leila. “I suspect it has something to do with you,” I tell her. I want Anastasia to be safe, and the fact that she may be in danger because of me, brings all my anger to surface. Anastasia looks surprised. Some unnamed emotion crosses her face. Not fear, but something else. She stares at me. I just realize that Anastasia met Leila yesterday, and she might have had her suspicions about who she is, knowing how bright she is. Why then didn’t she tell me about it when she saw me?

“Why didn’t you tell me yesterday?” I ask softly.

“I forgot about her,” she says apologetically. “You know, drinks after work, at the end of my first week. You turning up at the bar and your...testosterone rush with Jack, and when we were here. It slipped my mind. You have a habit of making me forget things,” she explains with truthful ease.

“Testosterone rush?” I say as my lips twitch into a smile.

“Yes. The pissing contest,” she explains further.

“I’ll show you a testosterone rush,” I say lasciviously.

“Wouldn’t you rather have a cup of tea?” she asks. Is that even an option? Right now, with the newly added stress, all I want to do is to take my woman to bed, and scatter my thoughts and fuck her into next week.

“No, Anastasia, I wouldn’t,” I reply with desire. My eyes burn into hers, scorching her with my I-wantyou-and-I-fucking-want-you-now-so-deal-with-it look.

“Forget about her. Come,” I say holding my hand out to Anastasia. We go back to bed, and I make sure we both forget Leila, and all the grief she’s given us in the last few days.

********

As the morning lights filter through her curtains, I find myself wrapped around Anastasia, our legs tangled. Anastasia is already awake, and as I open my eyes to look into hers, she smiles at me, and says “Hi,” grinning, guilty about something. I have a feeling something is up. What has she done?

“Hi,” I answer warily. “What are you doing?”

“Looking at you,” she says running her fingers down my happy trail. I capture her hand, narrow my eyes, and then smile at her. Has she been trying to touch me? You mischievous, delicious, irresistible girl!

I move on top of her in a flash, and press her into the mattress, my hands on her in a sweet warning. I stroke her nose with mine.

“I think you’re up to no good, Miss Steele,” I say accusingly, but still smiling. Since I don’t have proof, we’ll leave it at that.

“I like being up to no good near you,” she replies, the little sweet, undeniably sexy devil.

“You do?” I ask kissing her lightly on her lips. “Sex or breakfast?” I ask, as my eyes are dark, but humorous. My erection is digging into her as he has a mind of his own. She then tilts her pelvis up to meet mine, making her choice.

“Good choice,” I murmur against my woman’s throat, and I start trailing kisses down to her breast.

********

After our rather busy morning with sex, we take our showers together still unable to keep our hands off each other. When we finally get out of the shower, we dry each other with Anastasia’s towels. She makes her way into her bedroom wrapped in a piece of towel, her hair piled up and wrapped in another towel. She’s before her drawers, finally trying to dry her hair with her towel. Then she tries to comb and style her long hair. She’s pulled her low rise jeans on, and a t-shirt, and I am getting dressed behind her. She gazes at my body through her mirror appraising.

“How often do you work out?” she asks.

“Every weekday,” I respond as I’m buttoning my fly.

“What do you do?”

“Run, weights, kickbox,” I say shrugging.

“Kickbox?” she asks.

“Yes, I have a personal trainer, an ex-Olympic contender who teaches me. His name is Claude. He’s very good. You’d like him.” I say.

She turns to gaze at me as I’m buttoning up my white shirt.

“What do you mean I’d like him?”

“You’d like him as a trainer,” I reply.

“Why would I need a personal trainer? I have you to keep me fit,” she says smirking at me.

I saunter over to her, and wrap my arms around her waist and our gazes lock into each other in the mirror.

“But I want you fit, baby, for what I have in mind. I’ll need you to keep up,” I say, and she flushes knowing my meaning full well. She stares into my eyes with her baby blues.

“You know you want to,” I mouth at her. She flushes. She presses her lips together as if something unwelcome is clouding her thoughts. I frown at her.

“What?” I ask concerned.

“Nothing,” she says shaking her head at me. “Okay, I’ll meet Claude,” she acquiesces.

Her response completely takes me by surprise. “You will?” I ask as my face lighting up completely astounded in disbelief. Her responding smile is brilliant. I feel like I won the grand prize in all girlfriends.

“Yes, jeez – if it makes you happy,” she scoffs.

I tighten my arms around her and kiss her cheek. “You have no idea,” I whisper. “So – what would you like to do today?” I ask as I nuzzle her.

“I’d like to get my hair cut, and um...I need to deposit a check and buy a car,” she says.

“Ah,” I respond biting my lip. I take one hand off her, and reach into my pocket and hold up the key to her Audi.

“It’s here,” I say quietly, uncertain how she will react.

“What do you mean, it’s here?” she says in rising anger.

“Taylor brought it back yesterday,” I respond. She opens her mouth and closes again. Opens and closes unable to get her words through. She opens and closes once more, completely, utterly speechless which is not often for Anastasia. She finally sticks her hand into the back pocket of her jeans, and pulls out the envelope I gave her.

“Here, this is yours,” she says.

I look at her questioning, looking at the envelope I gave her with the check in it.

“Oh no. That’s your money,” I say.

“No, it isn’t. I’d like to buy the car from you,” she responds. What is it with her and presents? Why can’t she just take what I give her? Am I that repulsive, or are my presents? My expression changes to one of fury.

“No, Anastasia. Your money, your car,” I snap at her. You’re killing me here! Take the damn car! (Killing me Softly by Roberta Flack)

“No, Christian. My money, your car. I’ll buy it from you,” she replies.

“I gave you that car for your graduation present,” I hiss at her.

“If you’d given me a pen – that would be a suitable graduation present. You gave me an Audi,” she hisses back.

“Do you really want to argue about this?” I question her. I will give my girlfriend whatever I damn well please! Why would she have to put limitations of what and how much I can do for her?

“No.”

“Good – here are the keys,” I say and put the keys on top of her drawers.

“That’s not what I meant!” she shouts.

“End of discussion, Anastasia. Don’t push me,” I hiss back at her.

She scowls at me, then takes the envelope I gave her containing her undeposited check, and rips it into two! I gaze at her impassively. Baby, you’re trying my patience, and pushing my limits! But, you will not win this argument. I stroke my chin thoughtfully.

“You are, as ever, challenging, Miss Steele,” I say dryly. But, wait till you find out what I can do. I turn on my heel, and stalk into the living room. I find my Blackberry, and press a speed dial button to call Andrea.

“Good morning Mr. Grey,” she replies cheerfully.

“Andrea, I have a job for you, and I need it to be done as soon as possible.”

“Yes, sir. What can I do for you?”

“I want you to deposit twenty-four thousand dollars into Anastasia Steele’s checking account.”

“Yes, sir. Let me confirm the amount. Did you say to deposit twenty-four thousand dollars into Miss Anastasia Steele’s checking account?”

“Yes, twenty-four thousand dollars. Directly.”

“Confirmed sir. The earliest this process can be completed is when the banks open on Monday.” I notice that Anastasia has entered the room, and looking at me curiously, listening to my conversation.

I glance up at her with still impassive gaze.

“Good... Monday?”

“Yes, sir, Monday.”

“Excellent.”

“Anything else I can do for you sir?” she asks.

“No that’s all, Andrea,” I respond before hanging up.

“Deposited in your bank account, Monday. Don’t play games with me,” I say boiling mad at her.

“Twenty-four thousand dollars!” she’s shouting at me. “And how do you know my account number?” I’m surprised at her fervent reaction.

“I know everything about you, Anastasia,” I say quietly.

“There’s no way my car was worth twenty-four thousand dollars,” she hisses.

“I would agree with you, but it’s about knowing your market, whether you’re buying or selling. Some lunatic out there wanted that death trap and was willing to pay that amount of money. Apparently it’s a classic. Ask Taylor if you don’t believe me,” I say quite convincing.

She glowers at me and I glower back at her. Two angry, stubborn lovers glaring at each other. All of a sudden, the charge, the electricity between us grows stronger with the heightened emotions, drawing us together. Suddenly I grab her, and push my woman against the door, my mouth on hers, claiming her

hungrily as one of my hand behind her butt pressing her to my groin, and the other hand travels in the nape of her hair, and I tug her head back. Her hands travel into my hair, holding me to her. Passion rises in me exponentially, and I grind my body into hers, effectively imprisoning her, as my breathing goes ragged with all the heightened emotions. I want her, and God I want this woman now! I will never get enough of her. Everything she says or does turns me on! Even her defiance! Everything! She owns me!

“Why, why do you defy me?” I mumble between our heated kisses. She kisses me back passionately, matches my fervor in her passion.

“Because I can,” she says in a breathless voice. Her response makes me smile against her neck. I press my forehead to hers. She fucking turns me on, and sets me on fire with her every utterance, her every move, her every breath! (←I’m on Fire by Bruce Sprinsteen)

“Lord, I want to take you know, but I’m out of condoms. I can never get enough of you. You’re a maddening, maddening woman,” I declare.

“And you make me mad,” she whispers. “In every way,” but she has passion under her tone, and I suspect, my maddening makes her hot as well. We have the same effect on each other. We’re burning for each other.

I shake my head. “Come. Let’s go out for breakfast. And I know a place you can get your hair cut,” I say.

“Okay,” she acquiesces, and our fight is effectively over.

*******

After our breakfast, the waitress brings the check, and Anastasia quickly picks it up saying “I’ll get this.” I scowl at her. Why won’t she let me take care of you?

“You have to be quick around here, Grey,” she says.

“You’re right, I do,” I say on a sour note, teasing her. She makes me hot, she makes me mad, and she makes me fall in love with her all over again every frigging second of the day!

“Don’t look so cross. I’m twenty-four thousand dollars richer than I was this morning. I can afford,” she says looking at the check, and adds, “twenty-two Dollars and sixty-seven cents for breakfast.”

“Thank you,” I say grudgingly.

“Where to now?” she asks.

“You really want your haircut?”

“Yes, look at it,” she says showing me ends of her hair.

“You look lovely to me. You always do,” I say truthfully. My response makes her blush and she stares down at her finger on her lap. “And there’s your father’s function this evening,” she says. Oh, my sweet woman! She wants to look her best!

“Remember, its black tie,” I remind her.

“Where is it?” she asks.

“At my parents’ house. They have a marquee. You know, the works.”

“What’s the charity?”

Well, the charity is actually to my honor. My parents created it. I rub my hands down my thighs, uncomfortably.

“It’s a drug rehab program for parents with young kids called Coping Together,” I say.

“Sounds like a good cause,” she replies softly.

“Come, let’s go,” I stand, ending the topic effectively. I hold out my hand to her, and soon as her fingers touch mine, I close my fingers over hers tightly. I lead her out of the restaurant, and we walk down the street. The weather is perfect. It’s a mild morning. The sun is shining brightly, the air smells morning coffee, and freshly baked bread from the nearby pastry shops.

“Where are we going?” she asks.

“Surprise,” I reply.

We walk down two more blocks and the shops now look more upscale, more exclusive. I stop in front of a beauty salon called Esclava. I open the door for her. I actually own this place; well own it with Elena. Anastasia enters into the building, and she takes in the all-white and leather interior. At the pure white

reception desk sits a young blond woman in a crisp white uniform. She glances up as Anastasia and I enter into the building. She lights up as recognition hits her face.

“Good morning, Mr. Grey,” she says.

“Hello Greta,” I respond.

“Is this the usual, sir?” she asks me politely. Meaning all the works of wax, and trimming for my subs.

“No,” I say quickly as I nervously glance at Anastasia hoping that she didn’t catch the meaning behind.

“Miss Steele will tell you what she wants,” I say to her, sort of dodging the bullet. Anastasia glares at me. She’s too smart to miss the meaning. Damn!

“Why here?” she hisses at me.

“I own this place, and three more like it,” I say hoping to divert her attention.

“You own it?” she gasps in unexpected surprise.

“Yes. It’s a sideline. Anyway – whatever you want, you can have it here, on the house. All sorts of massages; Swedish, shiatsu, hot stones, reflexology, seaweed baths, facials, all that stuff women like – everything. It’s done here,” I say waving my fingers dismissively hoping that she’s distracted enough.

“Waxing?” she asks.

I laugh at her question. “Yes, waxing, too. Everywhere,” I whisper to her ear conspiratorially, and for a moment she looks uncomfortable. Anastasia blushes and glances at Greta and Greta looks back at Anastasia expectantly.

“I’d like a haircut, please,” she finally says.

“Certainly, Miss Steele,” Greta replies.

Greta checks her computer screen, and says, “Franco is free in five minutes.”

“Franco’s fine,” I say to Anastasia to reassure her. He’s excellent actually. Anastasia steals a peek at me. Suddenly I blanche as my eye catches Elena! She’s not supposed to be here today! She’s supposed to be working in the other salon!

Elena is in her immaculately cut platinum blonde hair, and she has her all black work uniform.

“Excuse me,” I mumble as I hurry away to talk to Elena.

As I reach up to Elena, she notices my presence and smiles at me warmly.

“Hello Christian! What a nice surprise!” she says as she reaches up at me, kissing me on both of my cheeks. The last time I spoke to Elena was when I yelled at her over the phone the day Anastasia left me.

“Hello Elena,” I say with anxiety and barely repressed anger knowing that Anastasia hates her, and she’s here of all places. Elena notices Anastasia’s presence and her uneasy look around the place.

“You have a new sub?” she asks.

“I don’t have a new sub. That’s my girlfriend, Anastasia,” I say. Elena looks up to give another look at Ana, smiling at her politely.

“I take it that you two made up. I’m so happy for you Christian. I’d like to meet her!” she says taking a step.

“Elena! Save it! I don’t want you to meet her! She dislikes you immensely. In fact, could you just disappear while she’s getting her hair-cut here? I don’t want a scene, and she can’t know you’re, well, you!” I say.

“But, why Christian? If she knew me, she’d probably like me!” I am upset, getting madder by the minute.

“Not now Elena! I don’t want this problem today. Leave it at that! Just disappear, ok?” I say.

“Of course, Christian,” she says holding her hands up in agreement, smiling at me. “Your friendship is very important to me. If this is going to make you happy, of course I’ll respect your wishes,” she says. Her response makes me happy, and I smile at her. Then I look up to Anastasia who has a horrified look on her face. She knows that I’m talking to Mrs. Robinson! Shit! I’m in deep shit! She’s angry and she’s hurt! I’ve fucking done it again! (Heartbreaker by Taio Cruz)

HOSTILE TERRITORY
CHAPTER VI

Seeing Anastasia’s horror stricken face raises my anxiety level. After Elena quickly wishes me luck, I stride back to Anastasia, and look at her apprehensively. Her expression makes me frown. “Are you okay?” I ask in a strained and cautious voice. Anastasia, please! Don’t run away from me! (Ana Stesia by Prince)

“Not really. You didn’t want to introduce me?” she asks me coldly.

Oh, damn! My fears are confirmed. She knows! Shit! Shit! Shit! What shall I do?

“But I thought – “ I say as she cuts me off.

“For a bright man, Christian, sometimes...” she stops, unable to bring the rest of her sentence. Sometimes what? Sometimes I act like an idiot? An ass? She told me that before. A jerk. I wasn’t thinking, and sometimes old habits die hard. I didn’t think Elena would be here! Fuck!

“I’d like to go, please,” she says.

“Why?” I ask.

“You know why,” she says rolling her eyes. I gaze down at her, but I can’t punish her for eye rolling. I promised. My eyes burn with anger...at myself, and... I don’t even know who I’m mad at!

“I’m sorry, Ana. I didn’t know she’d be here. She’s never here. She’s opened a new branch at the Bravern Center, and that’s where she’s normally based. Someone was sick today,” I explain as best as I can.

But, Anastasia won’t hear any of it. She turns on her heel, and head for the door.

“We won’t need Franco, Greta,” I snap and head out the door on her heels. I watch her warily. She’s walking away speedily as if she’s going to sprint. She’s also holding her breath, and gritting her teeth, and looking at a distance as if to suppress her tears. Damn! She’s going to run! Why the hell do I get myself in this position? And how do I manage to do it so often? God! I'm an idiot!

I walk beside her wordlessly constantly watching her without even blinking. I know I’m fucked up. I asked her to give me some room to make mistakes. I will screw up – I think I regularly do anyway. She just wraps her arms around herself closing me off, trying to protect herself, her head down, avoiding the objects on her path, but also avoiding me. I make no moves to touch her but all I want to do is to stop her and hold her in my arms. After we get on the Second Avenue, she finally snaps.

“You used to take your subs there?” (←Scandalous by Prince)

“Some of them, yes,” I answer in a quiet clipped tone.

“Leila?” is her second question.

“Yes,” I answer truthfully.

“The place looks very new,” she observes.

“It’s been remodeled recently,” I answer.

“I see. So, Mrs. Robinson met all your subs.”

“Yes,” I reply.

“Did they know about her?”

“No. None of them did. Only you,” I answer.

“But I’m not your sub,” she says as in a questioning statement.

“No, you most definitely are not,” I answer fervently.

Finally she stops and faces me. I’m fearful of what she would do, that she would run, and I would never see her again. My lips are pressed into a hard, straining line.

“Can you see how fucked-up this is?” she says as she glares up at me, in a low hissing voice.

“Yes. I’m sorry,” I say. I realized that when I saw Elena in the store, but there was nothing I could do about it.

“I want to get my haircut, preferably somewhere where you haven’t fucked either the staff or the clientele,” she states completely hurt. I flinch. She’s right of course. How would I feel if she had taken me someplace where people she fucked the people who worked or frequented there? I can’t even wrap my mind around the idea. Oh, I'm in deep shit!

“Now, if you’ll excuse me,” she says and starts walking away. I’m completely scared. Like a small child!

“You’re not running. Are you?” I ask trying to conceal my fear.

“No, I just want a damn haircut. Somewhere I can close my eyes, have someone wash my hair, and forget about all this baggage that accompanies you,” she says.

I run my hand through my hair in exasperation. “I can have Franco come to the apartment, or your place,” I say quietly.

“She’s very attractive,” Anastasia says. Whoa! Speak of changing gears! I blink at her assessment.

“Yes, she is,” I respond.

“Is she still married?” she asks.

“No. She divorced about five years ago.”

“Why aren’t you with her?” Anastasia asks. She’s jealous... Jealous of what I had with Elena.

“Because that’s over between us. I’ve told you this,” I state. I don’t want my past to come between us. My brow creases in rising anger. But, then I feel my Blackberry buzzing, and I hold a finger at Anastasia to hold her thought. I look at the caller.

“Welch,” I snap as I stop in my tracks on Second Avenue, looking nowhere in particular.

“Mr. Grey, I have important updates for you,” he starts. “I was able to get to interview Leila’s sister, and she told me that Leila ran off with a man over three months ago. The new boyfriend, the one she ran off with has been killed in a car crash. Her husband was confronted with this information, and after we paid him, he divulged that yes, in fact, the boyfriend Leila ran away with was killed in a car crash.”

That information takes me aback. “Killed in a car crash? When?” I ask.

“Her husband rather reluctantly parted with some information, but as I said to you in our previous conversation, he is unwilling to provide any information to help us to find her so she can get help. Her sister however confirmed the date to be about four weeks ago.” Anastasia’s face changes with the ongoing conversation. She’s fixed, and intent in hearing what is happening.

“That’s twice that bastard’s not been forthcoming. He must know. Does he have no feelings for her whatsoever?” I shake my head in disgust. “This is beginning to make sense...”

“Has she made any other attempt to contact you sir, since her contact with Miss Steele yesterday evening?”

“No...” I respond.

“Now we know the main reason of her psychological breakdown...” says Welch.

“Yes... it explains why, but not where.”

“I’m almost certain that she’s watching you, or Miss Steele from a distance to make her next move. Although I don’t know what that would be yet, sir.”

With that remark, I glance around searching to see if Leila is in the vicinity someplace. I gaze and see that Anastasia is also mirroring my actions. I don’t see Leila around. Just the regular hustle and bustle of the city of Seattle; shoppers, the usual traffic, and the city itself.

“Where is Miss Steele sir?”

“She’s here,” I say.

“Mr. Grey, since you know Leila better – although I have my own suspicions, do you think Leila watching you and Miss Steele? Well, scratch that, we know she’s watching Miss Steele.”

“Yes, she’s watching us...”

“If my assumptions are correct, it would be wise to increase your personal security.”

“Yes...”

“Would you like me to provide you with an additional bodyguard then sir?”

“No. Two or four, twenty-four seven...”

“Have you talked to Miss Steele about providing her security since she’s being watched?”

“I haven’t broached that yet,” I say as look at Anastasia directly.

“Well, now would be a good time sir, because I have another disturbing news for you. We’ve just discovered that Leila has obtained a concealed weapons permit.”

“What...” I whisper as I pale. I can’t even form a question. Why would she need a concealed weapon? She’s found Anastasia yesterday. She knows where I live. If she wants to harm herself, or hurt herself, she can do that without a gun. The memory of the crack whore comes to my mind unbidden.

I collect myself. But my eyes are still wide with anxiety. “I see. When?”

“Yesterday, sir.”

“That recently? But how?”

“She must have applied for it a while back.”

“No background checks?”

“The background check is usually done when a person applies for his or her permit, sir. Worst case of scenario, a weapons permit takes about 30 days. But I think she applied for that a while back, possibly at the time of her boyfriend’s death. And we didn’t think of searching that information until she made contact with Miss Steele. All our efforts were focused on finding her. But, then again, the permit wasn’t granted until yesterday.”

“I see.”

“As for the added security sir; I’ll provide you with the potential candidates’ information today.”

“E-mail me the name, address, and photos if you have them...”

“Certainly sir. When do you want them to start?”

“I want twenty-four seven, from this afternoon. Liaise with Taylor,” I say hanging up. Shit! Shit! Shit! Will problems ever stop coming my way? I take a deep breath, and I now have to deal with my beautiful steaming angry girlfriend right now.

I turn around and Anastasia is gazing at me.

“Well?” she asks, exasperated. She wants to know what’s going on.

“That was Welch,” I explain.

“Who’s Welch?”

“My security advisor.”

“Okay. So what’s happened?”

“Leila left her husband about three months ago, and ran off with a guy who was killed in a car accident four weeks ago.”

“Oh,” is all she can manage.

“The asshole shrink should have found that out,” I say angrily. “Grief, that’s what this is. Come,” I say holding my hand out, and she automatically places hers in mine, but then she snatches her hand away from mine again.

“Wait a minute. We were in the middle of a discussion, about us. About her, your Mrs. Robinson.” God! Do we have to do this now? My face hardens. “She’s not my Mrs. Robinson. We can talk about it at my place,” I say trying to diffuse her.

“I don’t want to go to your place. I want to get my haircut!” she shouts rather stubbornly. I’ve just had it today! I can’t take this!

I take my Blackberry out, and dial Esclava. Greta answers.

“Thank you for calling Esclava. This is Greta, how may I help you?”

“Greta, Christian Grey. I want Franco at my place in an hour. Ask Mrs. Lincoln...”

“Franco is free now. I shall be able to send him over quite soon. He can be at your place at around 1 p.m.”

“Good,” I say and hang up.

I stash my phone away in my pocket. “He’s coming at one,” I state to Anastasia.

“Christian...!” she splutters completely exasperated with me.

“Anastasia, Leila is obviously suffering a psychotic breakdown. I don’t know if it’s you or me she’s after, or what lengths she’s prepared to go. We’ll go to your place, pick up your things, and you can stay with me until we’ve tracked her down,” I explain to her.

“Why would I want to do that?” she asks.

“So I can keep you safe,” I say completely running out of patience. (←Can’t Let Go by Mariah Carey)

“But-“ she says ready to oppose me, but I cut her off with my glare.

“You are coming back to my apartment if I have to drag you there by your hair.”

She gapes at me, shocked, and upset and her eyes are saying, you-wouldn’t-dare. But I would!

“I think you’re overreacting,” she states.

“I don’t. We can continue our discussion back at my place. Come.” I say.

She folds her arms, and glares at me, and not willing to budge.

“No,” she states stubbornly, making her Alamo stand.

“You can walk or I can carry you. I don’t mind either way, Anastasia,” I say also determined. You don’t want to match wits with me today baby.

“You wouldn’t dare,” she scowls at me. Me, being Christian Grey who would want to avoid scenes in the middle of a busy street, on Second Avenue, she thinks that I won’t go to the extents to protect her. Don’t you even know me a little bit darling? I half smile at her. It’s not a pleasant smile, and doesn’t reach my eyes.

“Oh, baby, we both know that if you throw down the gauntlet I’ll be only too happy to pick it up,” I say. She glares at me, and I glare right back at her. So, this is going to be it. She isn’t walking. Have it your way Miss Steele!

I abruptly sweep down, clasp Anastasia around her thighs, and lift her up, and before she can utter one single word, she’s over my shoulder.

“Put me down!” she screams. I don’t think so! I start walking along the Second Avenue, my arms firmly clasping her thighs, and the second she starts screaming, I swat her delectable behind with my free hand hard. Keep doing it baby! You scream and I will spank you in the middle of city of Seattle!

“Christian!” she shouts. People are staring at us, and she’s humiliated by being dragged away like the wife of a Neanderthal. “I’ll walk! I’ll walk...” she says.

I finally put her down, and even before I stand straight, she starts walking in the direction of her apartment, fuming, and completely ignoring me. I speed up my gait and am next to her in a heartbeat, but she manages to keep ignoring me. She’s incredibly angry with me. I gaze at her face, and I can see the wheels of her mind turning in her beautiful head. Her breathing is harsh, her arms are crossed; she’s looking ahead, and walking briskly. All of a sudden she stops abruptly on the street, and turns to me. I halt along with her.

“What’s happened?” she asks as a result of her ongoing thought process. Oh shit! She figured out something is up.

My brow knits in confusion.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“With Leila,” she says trying for patience.

“I’ve told you,” I say trying not to divulge any more information.

“No, you haven’t. There’s something else. You didn’t insist that I go to your place yesterday. So what’s happened?” she asks. Damn! She always confounds me! She’s so much smarter than I give her credit for. I shift uncomfortably.

“Christian! Tell me!” she snaps. Damn! Can’t I hide anything from her?

“She managed to obtain a concealed weapons permit yesterday.” Anastasia suddenly gazes at me, blinking, and her face ashen. Her breath is knocked out of her.

“That means she can just buy a gun,” she whispers.

“Ana,” I say, as my voice is reflecting the rising concern in me. I pull my hands on her shoulder and pull her closer to me into the security of my arms. “I don’t think she’ll do anything stupid, but-I just don’t want to take that risk with you,” I tell her.

“Not me... what about you?” she whispers. Anastasia is concerned for me? I look down at her trying to read her emotions, and she wraps her arms around me and hugs me tight and hard putting her face against my chest. And for once, I don’t flinch or mind.

And just like that, our quarrel is forgotten. “Let’s get back,” I murmur, and reach down and kiss her hair.

We go to Anastasia’s apartment. She packs a small carry-on suitcase with her personal items. She then packs her Mac, her Blackberry and her iPad, and as well as Charlie Tango, I notice, in her backpack.

“Charlie Tango’s coming, too?” I ask.

She nods, and I smile completely pleased. She loves me not matter how much she gets mad at me, and that knowledge makes me forget all of today’s shit.

“Ethan is back Tuesday,” Anastasia mutters.

“Ethan?”I question. Who the hell is Ethan? Another admirer? (←Next Contestant by Nickelback)

“He’s Kate’s brother. He’s staying here until he finds a place in Seattle.”

Oh, that one. I met him during the graduation who was like white on rice on Anastasia. I gaze at her blankly trying to conceal my feelings, but unable to keep the frostiness away from eyes, and she notices.

“Well, it’s good that you’ll be staying with me. Give him more room,” I say quietly. I would be exploding with jealousy if Anastasia was staying here with him.

“I don’t know that he’s got keys. I’ll need to be back then,” she says.

Not now, Anastasia! I can’t take it! I try to keep my gaze impassive, and not giving anything away.

“That’s everything,” she says, and I grab her case and we head out the door. As we walk to her Audi, Anastasia keeps watching her back over her shoulder. She’s timid. I go to the passenger door and open it, expecting her to get in.

“Are you getting in?” I ask when she hesitates.

“I thought I was driving,” she says. I can’t take a chance with all the danger, and not knowing what Leila might do.

“No. I’ll drive,” I say.

“Something’s the matter with my driving? Don’t tell me you know what I scored on my driving test... I wouldn’t be surprised with your stalking tendencies,” she says. God! Please help me with my woman!

“Get in the car, Anastasia,” I snap angrily.

“Okay,” she responds, and quickly climbs in, giving me a ‘chill off’ look.

I’m uptight and angry. I don’t know where Leila is or what she’s capable of doing. I can’t take Anastasia’s life lightly. I can’t indulge her in her antics where her safety is concerned and she tries her best to undermine all my efforts! After closing Anastasia’s door, I make my way to the driver’s side of the car while still scanning the parking lot to spot anyone who doesn’t belong there – especially Leila. I get in, turn the car on, and ease off into the traffic on the street.

“Were all your submissives brunettes?” Anastasia asks getting me out of my thoughts.

I frown as I glance at her. Where is she going with this question?

“Yes,” I mutter uneasily.

“I just wondered,” she responds to my unanswered question.

“I told you. I prefer brunettes.”

“Mrs. Robinson isn’t a brunette,” she observes.

“That’s probably why,” I mutter. “She put me off blondes forever,” I say in a mock tone.

“You’re kidding,” she gasps.

“Yes. I’m kidding,” I reply exasperated. I can’t even joke about it without her getting mad.

Anastasia stares outside impassively lost in her thoughts. I eye her from my peripheral vision. What are you churning in your beautiful head Anastasia? After a while she turns and says, “Tell me about her.”

“What do you want to know?” I say in a warning tone as my brows furrow with the knowledge of what’s coming.

“Tell me about your business arrangement,” she says. I relax a little. I can talk about business. It’s not about sex, and she couldn’t be jealous of that aspect.

“I’m a silent partner. I’m not particularly interested in the beauty business, but she’s built it into a successful venture. I just invested and helped her get started,” I say.

“Why?” she probes.

“I owed it to her,” I respond. I owed her big, because she gave me my first start in my business venture. That was the least I could do for her.

“Oh?” she asks.

“When I dropped out of Harvard, she lent me a hundred grand to start my business,” I respond truthfully. That was my seed money to start what I have today.

“You dropped out?”

“It wasn’t my thing. I did two years. Unfortunately, my parents were not so understanding,” I say remembering. My parents are both well educated, and education is very important for them; that their children graduated from prestigious colleges. I probably worried them a lot by having to get in trouble all through my teen years...well, until I started my affair with Elena. It probably scared them and reminded them the kinds of trouble I got into when I was younger.

“You don’t seem to have done too badly dropping out. What was your major?” she asks.

“Politics and Economics,” I reply.

“So she’s rich?” asks Anastasia.

“She was a bored trophy wife, Anastasia. Her husband was wealthy – big in timber.” I smirk and add, “He wouldn’t let her work. You know, he was controlling. Some men are like that.” I give Anastasia a sideways grin to gauge her reaction to my statement.

“Really? A controlling man, surely a mythical creature?” she says, her words dripping with sarcasm. Her response makes me grin wider.

“She lent you her husband’s money?” asks Anastasia. I nod and give her a mischievous smile.

“That’s terrible,” she replies to my reaction.

“He got his own back,” I say darkly as I pull into Escala’s garage. Not only did he get more than his money’s worth, but he beat the shit out of Elena, breaking her arm and her nose.

“How?” asks Anastasia. But, that’s one bit of information I want to spare her from. I shake my head as if to disperse the bitter memory, and park next to my Audi Quattro SUV. I don’t answer, and divert her attention with another subject. “Come. Franco will be here shortly,” I say and hold my hand out to her.

After we make our way to the elevator, I peer down at her face. She’s trying to hold an impassive face, but I know what’s behind it all. “Still mad at me?” I ask her.

“Very,” she responds. Monosyllabic. She’s mad. I nod, and say, “Okay,” accepting her feelings. At least she’s here with me. I just stare ahead. We might have to sort this out later. Finally the elevator arrives to my penthouse, and the doors ding open to my foyer. Taylor is waiting for our arrival. He takes Anastasia’s small luggage from my hands.

“Has Welch been in touch?” I ask.

“Yes, sir.”

“And?” I probe.

“Everything’s arranged.”

“Excellent. How’s your daughter?” I ask remembering. He had to make an emergency excursion thinking she had appendicitis.

“She’s fine, thank you, sir,” he responds.

“Good. We have a hairdresser arriving at one – Franco De Luca,” I say.

“Miss Steele,” says Taylor acknowledging Anastasia’s presence.

“Hi, Taylor. You have a daughter?” she asks.

“Yes ma’am.”

“How old is she?”

“She’s seven,” he responds. I’m growing impatient with their small talk.

“She lives with her mother,” Taylor explains.

“Oh, I see,” says Anastasia. And that is the end of their conversation. As we enter the living room, “Are you hungry?” I ask Anastasia.

She shakes her head in response. I gaze at her, and in light of all the arguments we’ve had, I think better of it, and not to argue about food today. I’ll save this for the next time she won’t eat.

“I have to make a few calls. Make yourself at home,” I say.

“Okay,” responds Anastasia. Then I walk to my study, leaving Anastasia in the living room. When I go to my study, Taylor is waiting for me.

“We’ve received the additional security information, and I reviewed them before you got home, sir,” he says.

“Your assessments?”

“All three of them come highly recommended sir, and I’ve known Sawyer for some time personally. He was under my command, and I would trust him with my life," he states.

“But the question is, can I trust him with Anastasia’s life?” I ask.

“I’d trust my child’s life with him, sir,” he says knowing my meaning. His daughter is the most important person in his life. As the steel in my gaze locks in with Taylor’s, I see immense determination matching my own; if he can trust his daughter’s life with him, that is good enough vouch for me. I nod without wavering.

“Great! Then, she’ll be in charge of Anastasia’s security for the time being. But I want you to find a female security detail to go along with Anastasia to work. She will follow her to the bathroom if necessary.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Great. When are the three coming?”

“In a few hours, sir. They have to be briefed by Welch first, weapons inspected, then I’ll brief them here, and I’ll introduce them to you, and you can give your specific instructions to them, sir.”

I flinch at the sound of the word ‘weapons,’ but under the circumstances, I have to allow them to be carried. I nod finally, and dismiss Taylor.

I then check in with my assistant Andrea and my right hand Ros with today’s work. A company as large as mine never takes a break. As the owner, I don’t take a break from work. After my phone calls are completed, and I tell Andrea of my schedule for the evening, I hang up and saunter back to the living room to find Anastasia. But she’s nowhere to be found. She’s not in the kitchen, and not in my bedroom. I start getting nervous. I go to my room to see if she's there, but she isn't. I run into Taylor as I come out of my room, and by the looks of it he’s looking for me. “Have you seen Miss Steele?” I ask with barely contained fear in it.

“No, sir. I was coming to inform you that Franco the hair dresser just got here. Shall I look for her?” he asks also getting concerned with my reaction.

“No, she must be in her room. I’ll go check,” I say and walk to her bedroom. Her backpack is there. Maybe she hasn’t run. I walk into her closet and she’s sitting in the very corner of the closet on the floor, and talking on her Blackberry. I hear her say, “Mom, it’s complicated. I think he’s nuts. That’s the problem.” Is she talking about me? How many other nuts does she know?

Then she answers exclaims about something her mother must have said to her, “What?”

I walk to the door of the closet, and stop, with relief flooding me upon seeing her here.

“There you are. I thought you’d run off,” I say with reprieve. (←Without You by Motley Crüe) She holds her hand up to indicate one minute as she’s on the phone. “Sorry, Mom, I have to go. I’ll call again,” she says into the Blackberry.

She responds to her mother’s declaration of love by the sound of it saying, “Love you, too, Mom.”

She holds her head up and gazes at me. I frown, feeling awkward. Why is she hiding here? What’s wrong? Did I screw up that much?

“Why are you hiding in here?” I ask.

“I’m not hiding. I’m despairing,” she replies.

“Despairing?” Whatever for?

“Of all this, Christian,” she says waving her hand around indicating the closet full of clothes.

“Can I come in?” I ask.

“It’s your closet,” she says. How can I make her accept that this is her room, her closet, her clothes that I got for her? I frown and sit cross legged on the floor facing her.

“They’re just clothes. If you don’t like them I’ll send them back,” I say.

“You’re a lot to take on, you know?” she asks.

Her reply takes me aback. I scratch stubble on my chin.

“I know. I’m trying,” I murmur.

“You are very trying,” she says, feeding me back my own words, twisting them.

“As are you, Miss Steele,” I point at her.

“Why are you doing this?” she asks.

My eyes widen, and I’m wary once again. What does she mean why I’m doing this? Every other woman would be happy to be loved, and taken care of. But, not Anastasia.

“Why are you doing this, Christian?” she asks again.

My eyes widen with wariness. “You know why,” I respond.

“No, I don’t,” she replies.

I run my hand through my hair in exasperation again. “You are one frustrating female,” I say.

“You could have a nice brunette submissive. One who’d say, ‘how high?’ every time you said jump, provided of course she had permission to speak. So why me, Christian? I just don’t get it,” she says finally lowering her piercing gaze away from me.

I look at my woman for a moment.

“You make me look at the world differently, Anastasia. You don’t want me for my money. You give me. . hope,” I say softly. She cares for me, not as Christian Grey the billionaire, but Christian Grey the man. The fucked up man, but, she cares for me, essentially.

“Hope of what?” she asks further.

I shrug nonchalantly. “More,” I say in a low voice. “And you’re right. I’m used to women doing exactly what I say, when I say, doing exactly what I want. It gets old quickly. There’s something about you, Anastasia that calls to me on some deep level I don’t understand. It’s a siren’s call. I can’t resist you, and I don’t want to lose you,” I say as I reach forward taking her hand. “Don’t run, please,” I beg. “Have a little faith in me and a little patience. Please,” I ask of her. All my fears come back, and I’m sure it’s showing on my face for her to see. We’re eye to eye, on the closet floor in the corner. She finally leans up on her knees; bends forward and kiss me on the lips.

“Okay. Faith and patience, I can live with that,” she says.

“Good. Because Franco’s here.” ***** I introduce Franco to Anastasia.

“Franco, this is my girlfriend Anastasia. She would like to get her haircut today,” I say, and then turn to Anastasia, “Anastasia, this is Franco. He’s one of the best hair dressers Esclava has to offer. You are in good hands,” I say and Franco grins big in his small and dark frame.

“Grazie Mr. Grey! You honor me! And Anastasia, nobody told me how bellissima you are!” he gushes waving his hands animatedly.

“I think it would be best if you cut her hair in my bathroom. There is more room to do this with the right tools,” I say.

I lead Anastasia and Franco to my bathroom while Franco gushes, “such beautiful hair!” to Anastasia with his distinctly Italian accent. I go back to my bedroom, and grab a chair for Anastasia to sit it.

“I’ll leave you two to it,” I mutter. I don’t want to be crowding the bathroom and give Anastasia privacy.

“Grazie, Mr. Grey,” Franco says then turns to Anastasia, “Bene, Anastasia, what shall we do with you?”

I go downstairs, go to my study and print out the reports Ros had sent me about the company I’m thinking of liquidating – the one that is currently going to cost me sixty-seven million Dollars! I turn my stereo on start listening to my Classical Music playlist.

I settle back on my couch and start going over the numbers I’ve been sent on my spreadsheets. I don’t know how much time had passed, but Anastasia and Franco enters the room just when “O Mio Babbino Caro by Puccini” starts playing. (←O Mio Babbino Caro sung by Angela Gheorghiu)

I look up, and smile at Anastasia.

“See! I tell you he like it,” says Franco excitedly.

“You look lovely, Ana,” I say really liking her hair.

“My work ‘ere is done,” exclaims Franco. I get up and stroll towards the two of them.

“Thank you Franco,” says Anastasia, and Franco in return turns to her and hugs her in a tight bear hug, and kisses her on both the cheeks in the European fashion. If he wasn’t gay, I would have punched him, but since he’s, Anastasia is safe.

“Never let anyone else be cutting your hair, bellissima Anastasia!” he gushes. Anastasia laughs and slightly blushes to his declaration. I walk Franco to the door, and give him a nice tip for doing a good job on Anastasia’s hair. When I come back Anastasia is still standing where I left her.

“I’m glad you kept your hair long,” I say as I walk towards her with bright eyes that are full of desire for her. “Are you still mad at me?” I ask.

She nods making me smile.

“What exactly are you mad at me about?” I ask.

She rolls her eyes. “You want the list?” Oh, Dear God! She’s keeping a list of my wrongs?

“There’s a list?” I ask.

“A long one,” she responds.

“Can we discuss it in bed?” I ask lasciviously.

“No,” she replies pouting.

“Over lunch, then. I’m hungry, and not just for food,” I say giving her a salacious smile.

“I’m not going to let you dazzle me with your sexpertise,” she says. She knows me well. I try to stifle a smile. “What is bothering you specifically, Miss Steele? Spit it out,” I say. It’s best to hold the bull by the horns; though there is always the chance of getting gored when you let go.

“What’s bothering me? Well, there’s your gross invasion of my privacy, the fact that you took me to some place where your ex-mistress works and you used to take all your lovers to have their bits waxed, you manhandled me in the street like I was six year old, and to top it all, you let Mrs. Robinson touch you!” she says as her voice rises in anxiety and possibly anger.

I raise my eyebrows. That’s a long working order. Yes, I did screw up quite a bit.

“That’s quite a list. Buy just to clarify once more; she’s not my Mrs. Robinson,” I say.

“She can touch you,” she reiterates. And I think that hurt her feelings. I purse my lips. The problem with Anastasia touching me is that we have no boundaries, and it truly scares me to have her touch where I feel most vulnerable. “She knows where,” I say in a low voice.

“What does that mean?” asks Anastasia.

God! Help me please! I love this woman, and I don’t want to screw things up again with her! I run both my hands through my hair in exasperation and close my eyes for a second. I finally swallow and say my peace:

“You and I don’t have any rules. I have never had a relationship without rules, and I never know where you’re going to touch me. It makes me nervous. Your touch completely –“ I say stopping looking for the right word to express my lost feeling. “It just means more to me...so much more,” I say finally.

She looks up at me completely surprised. I still can’t bring myself to tell her that I love her. It is so difficult for me. Because, I’ve never said it to anyone. Anyone at all! I can’t lose her... Not over this! I search her face for some clue that she understands me, that she actually cares for me, that she’ll be patient with me apprehensively.

She finally slowly reaches out, but my apprehension turns into alarm. She’s trying to touch me! Fear grips me, and I’m back to being four years old. I step back, and she drops her hands to her side.

“Hard limit,” I whisper pressingly. I want to scream, “Red! Red! Red!” My face is now pained and panicked and I hate myself doing this, setting up this limit.

She looks crushed, undesired, and unwanted. “How would you feel if you couldn’t touch me?” she asks.

I look up and answer her immediately. I just couldn’t handle it. “Devastated and deprived,” I respond.

She finally shakes her head slowly and gives me a small, but reassuring smile. I just want to know all is well between us. Her smile relaxes me.

“You’ll have to tell me exactly why this is a hard limit one day, please,” she says.

“One day,” I murmur, and immediately relax because the topic is just too hard for me to handle; and I immediately get back to normal.

“So, the rest of your list. Invading your privacy,” I say as I try to ponder this topic. “Because I know your back account number?” I ask.

“Yes, that’s outrageous,” she says.

“I do background checks on all my submissives. I’ll show you,” I say and turn to go back to my study. Anastasia follows me as if in a dream. I go to one of my locked filing cabinets, turn the key, and pull a folder out. On the side tab it reads: ANASTASIA ROSE STEELE.

She looks at the folder, and then looks at me. Glaring. Possibly pissed. I shrug apologetically.

“You can keep it,” I say quietly.

“Well, gee, thanks,” she snaps at me. She looks at the contents. There is of course a copy of her birth certificate, her NDA, the contract, her social security number, her resume and all her employment records.”

After she sees the last item, she looks up to me and asks: “So you knew I worked at Clayton’s?”

“Yes,” I answer truthfully.

“It wasn’t a coincidence. You didn’t just drop by?”

Damn! Caught! “No,” I respond. But I’m not sorry for it. I’m glad I’ve pursued her. She’s the one major thing I did right. She smiles, and then as if to reprimand herself, she switches to an angry face.

“This is fucked-up. You know that?” she asks.

“I don’t see it that way. What I do, I have to be careful.”

“But this is private,” she says.

“I don’t misuse the information. Anyone can get hold of it if they have half a mind to, Anastasia. To have control, I need information. It’s how I’ve always operated,” I say gazing at her with a guarded expression. This is who I am. I have a life I like to keep private, and I’m well known in the business world to have other people use whatever means to get to me. I have to have this sort of control, but this is something Anastasia can’t understand because she hasn’t been in my shoes.

“You do misuse the information. You deposited twenty-four thousand dollars that I didn’t want into my account,” she says.

Really? Do we still have to talk about this? My mouth presses into a hard line. What do I have to do to make her believe that this is her money? “I told you. That’s what Taylor managed to get for your car. Unbelievable, I know, but there you go,” I say.

“But the Audi...” she says and I cut her off. Why the hell can’t you take a gift from me?

“Anastasia, do you have any idea how much money I make?” I ask.

She flushes as if she’s intruding into my privacy. “Why should I? I don’t need to know the bottom line of your bank account, Christian,” she retorts. And I love her for it.

My eyes soften lovingly towards her. “I know. That’s one of the things I love about you,” I say. There is a long list of things I love about her, but this is one of them. She gazes at me, shocked with my revelation.

“Anastasia, I earn roughly one hundred thousand Dollars an hour,” I say. Her mouth drops open trying to grasp her mind around that information.

“Twenty-four thousand dollars is nothing for me. The car, the Tess books, the clothes, they’re nothing,” I say in a soft voice. She’s never been in my position; in large amounts of money coming and going, so what looks small to me, appears a big amount to her. She gazes at me and finally finds her voice to speak:

“If you were me, how would you feel about all this... largesse coming your way?” she asks me. I look at her blankly. I’m not in that position to make that assessment. We just stare at each other in silence. Finally I shrug. “I don’t know,” I say bewildered.

“It doesn’t feel great. I mean, you’re very generous, but it makes me uncomfortable. I have told you this enough times,” she laments.

I sigh. Does she have any idea that I want to put everything at her feet? That I want to give her heart’s desire. I mean everything! “I want to give you the world, Anastasia,” I say.

“I just want you, Christian. Not all the add-ons,” she says. It makes me happy that she wants me, but part of me is what I have.

“They’re part of the deal. Part of what I am,” I explain to her. She needs to learn that. I can’t have everything, and let the woman of my affection, the only woman I ever fall in love live in comparative poverty. What would that say about what kind of man I am? Isn’t that what men have done for millennia for their women? Well, we’re not getting anywhere. We’re at an impasse, and I will provide for her whether she likes it or not.

“Shall we eat?” she asks.

“Sure,” I say frowning.

“I’ll cook,” she says.

“Good. Otherwise there’s food in the fridge,” I say.

“Mrs. Joes is off on the weekends? So you eat cold cuts most weekends?” she asks.

“No,” I reply. I don’t want to go into the other mine field.

“Oh?” she asks.

I finally sigh. “My submissives cook, Anastasia,” I say.

“Oh, of course,” she replies flushing. She turns and smiles at me. “What would Sir like to eat?” I give a sigh of relief and smirk at her. “Whatever Madam can find,” I say darkly.

She decides on fixing Spanish omelet, and takes out the cold potatoes. She then walks over to my iPod and scroll through the listings. I watch her intently. She puts Beyoncé on. “Crazy in Love” she chooses and put it on repeat and turns the music up loud. Then she saunters back to the kitchen and to the fridge and she’s shaking her very delectable behind on the way. She opens the fridge, gets the carton of eggs out and starts cracking them open and then begins whisking them. I’m mesmerized watching her. My woman, in my kitchen. Something homey about it, and something incredibly sweet. In the middle of her whisking, she stops abruptly looking up as if she just had an epiphany. And then she has this incredible face splitting, beautiful smile on her.

I can’t wait anymore and I saunter to her and wrap my arms around her from her back making her jump.

“Interesting choice of music,” I purr as I kiss her below her ear. “Your hair smells good,” I say as I nuzzle her hair, and inhale her scent deeply.

“I’m still mad at you,” she says making me frown.

“How long are you going to keep this up?” I ask running my hand through my hair.

She shrugs nonchalantly, “at least until I’ve eaten,” she responds, then I know all is well, and smile. I finally turn and grab the remote control from the kitchen counter and turn off the stereo.

“Did you put that on your iPod? She asks. Oh, shoot! Inquisition.

I shake my head, my face is solemn. She knows it was Leila. I don’t have to tell her that.

“Don’t you think she was trying to tell you something back then?” she asks.

“Well, with hindsight, probably,” I say quietly. I never put two and two together until this problem with Leila came up.

“Why is it still on there?” she asks. But her question has double meaning. Do I have some feelings for Leila is what she’s really asking me. As if I’m keeping a piece of her.

“I quite like the song. But if it offends you, I’ll remove it,” I say.

“No, it’s fine. I like to cook to music,” she replies.

“What would you like to hear?” I ask.

“Surprise me,” she says. That, I can baby!

I smirk and head over to the iPod doc, and she goes back to prepping our lunch. I go through the list and find Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell on You.” This song is extremely appropriate for the two of us, because she took me like a magic woman and I her. (←I Put a Spell on You by Nina Simone)

I want to declare my love to her, but this is the best I can do for now. I have always expressed myself better with music. I expressed myself in songs and piano for two years before I started speaking again. Do you hear me Anastasia? Can you feel how much I love you? I look at her intently. She flushes with my gaze and turns to look at me gaping. Questioning look on her face. My eyes are dark, and intense, willing her to understand the love I’m trying to convey her. I’m not good at this! This is brand new to me! She watches me, enthralled. I stalk her like a predator in time with the music. She gazes at me bare feet, my white untucked shirt and jeans and finally her gaze stops at my smoldering look. The look only reserved for her.

When Nina croons “you’re mine,” I reach for her. I have to kiss her, I have to have her. Now! This is the only way I know how to express what I feel for her. I suck at any other way.

“Christian, please,” she whispers while holding the whisk she’s been using the beat the eggs.

“Please what?” I ask.

“Don’t do this.”

“Do what?”

“This,” she motions between us. I stand before her, gazing down at her.

“Are you sure?” I breathe and reach over and take the whisk from her hand place it back into the bowl with the half beaten eggs. She’s confused. In one hand she wants me, and in the other hand she’s fighting her feelings. She forces her gaze away from me trying to subdue her feelings her desire for me. Please, don’t do this baby!

“I want you, Anastasia,” I murmur.

“I love and I hate, and I love arguing with you. Even quarreling, or fighting with you. You stand up to me. It’s very new. I need to know that we’re okay. It’s the only way I know how,” I say pouring my heart out to her.

“My feelings for you haven’t changed,” she says whispering.

The pull we have, the electricity between us is strong, palpable. It’s vibrant and pulling us together. She stares at my chest in the opening of my shirt, and bites her lip. She looks over at me with desire. But I won’t touch her; although God knows it’s so hard with this proximity.

“I’m not going to touch you until you say yes,” I say softly to her. “But right now, after a really shitty morning, I want to bury myself in you and just forget everything but us,” I say. Can I say it any plainer Anastasia? Please, hear me and understand how much I need you! She raises her head and stares at me.

“I’m going to touch your face,” she breathes, and though her statement surprises me, I acquiesce and lean in for her touch. She automatically lifts her lips for a kiss. But I won’t kiss her. My lips hover over her mere millimeters away, asking her permission.

“Yes or no, Anastasia?” I whisper. (←Sex Therapy by Robin Thicke and Ludacris)

“Yes,” she replies, and my mouth closes on her, as my lips coax and coerce her lips apart as my tongue enters into her mouth, my arms fold around her, pulling her to me so that not even air can pass between us. I move my hand

up her back, as my fingers find her hair tangling in them, gently tugging, and holding her in place as I lift her head up to me, forcing her against me. She moans softly wanting more with passion and desire.

“Mr. Grey,” I hear Taylor speak as he coughs effectively breaking the spell between us. I release Anastasia immediately. When we turn around, an uncomfortable Taylor is standing by the entry of the living room. I stare at him, and know that the new security detail is here.

“My study,” I snap at Taylor, and he walks briskly to go to my study.

“Rain check,” I whisper to Anastasia, and walk to my study after Taylor.

I walk into my study, and Taylor stands with the documentation he has on the three new security details.

“Let’s have a look at it,” I say. The documents have detailed information on the new personnel. They all come with high recommendations and experts in providing security for high clients. One is ex-FBI, all have combat experience, and highly trained.

“Looks great. You can get acquitted with them, go over what I expect in terms of security and commitment.”

“Yes, sir.”

As I walk back out of my office Taylor walks behind me.

“I’ll brief them in ten,” I say.

“We’ll be ready,” Taylor answers and leaves the room.

I saunter back to the kitchen, and Anastasia is done cooking.

“Lunch?” she asks.

“Please,” I say as I sit on one of the bar stools. I watch her carefully. I need to protect her, but how to go about telling her knowing how resistant she is to everything I want to do for her.

“Problem?” she asks.

“No,” I answer. She scowls, and she knows something is up. She dishes out our lunch into the plates, and finally sighs and sits next to me.

“This is good,” I murmur appreciatively as she’s done a great job making the lunch. “Would you like a glass of wine?” I ask her.

“No, thank you,” she says. When the silence between us grows, I get up and turn the classical music on. The track is soothing.

“What is this?” asks Anastasia.

“Canteloube, Songs of the Auvergne. This is called ‘Bailero,’” I say. (←Bailero sung by Netania Davrath)

“It’s lovely. What language is it?” she asks curiously.

“It’s in old French-Occitan, in fact,” I respond.

“You speak French, do you understand it?” she asks.

“Some words, yes,” say smiling. “My mother had a mantra: musical instrument, foreign language, martial art. Elliot speaks Spanish; Mia and I speak French. Elliot plays guitar, I play piano, and Mia the cello,” I say.

“Wow! And the martial arts?” she asks.

“Elliot does Judo. Mia put her foot down at age twelve and refused,” I smirk remembering the fit she put up, and exasperated my mother so much that she had to give up on her martial arts endeavors.

“I wish my mother had been that organized,” sighs Anastasia.

“Dr. Grace is formidable when it comes to the accomplishment of her children,” I state as a matter of factly.

“She must be very proud of you. I would be,” says Anastasia sighing.

I remember trying to fit into a perfect family as an always imperfect individual, with imperfect past, and imperfect present. It wasn’t an easy task for me. I look at Anastasia warily. I decide to change the topic.

“Have you decided what you’ll wear this evening? Or do I need to come and pick something for you?” I ask tersely unable to help myself out of the discomfort thinking of a difficult childhood trying to fit in and never managing.

“Um...not yet. Did you choose all those clothes?” she asks.

“No, Anastasia, I didn’t. I gave a list and your size to a personal shopper at Neiman Marcus. They should fit. Just so that you know, I have ordered additional security for this evening and the next few days. With Leila unpredictable and unaccounted for somewhere on the streets of Seattle, I think it’s a wise precaution. I don’t want you going out unaccompanied. Okay?” I ask finally laying out everything before her without giving her the specifics.

She blinks at me, and mutters, “okay.”

“Good. I’m going to brief them. I shouldn’t be long.” I say.

“They’re here?” she asks.

“Yes.”

I pick up my plate, clear it, and place it in the sink. Then I saunter out of the room without another word. I hate doing this to her, and it’s not her fault that she asks those questions without knowing the depth of pain, and hurt rooted in the depths of my soul. But, when they all come to surface, so does the sinister Christian who is the least affectionate, calloused, brusque, and protected against the world with layer upon layer of hard surface as Anastasia just experienced. I hate myself for doing that, but I can’t help it!

I put I’m-the-boss-and-don’t-fuck-with-me face on, and saunter into Taylor’s office where all four men abruptly stand up with my brusque entrance.

I’m in charge once again.

CHAPTER VII

I enter into Taylor office unmistakably contained and with supremely powerful confidence. “Mr. Grey,” says Taylor by the way of greeting me. Then he turns the other three men, and, “Gentlemen, this is Mr. Grey,” he says. Then turns to introduce each member of the new security detail before me as I hold them under the scrutiny of my cold gaze. “Mr. Grey, this is Sawyer,” he says indicating a square jawed man with brown hair, sharp blue eyes, about 6’2”, under 30 and in good shape. Sawyer thrusts his hand out to me, and I meet him with an equally firm grip. “Sir,” he says. Sawyer sizes up. Then Taylor turns to another man who has dark olive skin, brown eyes, and about as tall as Sawyer, but more muscular, and introduces him, “this is Ryan, sir.” Ryan is a decorated ex-navy seal, with private high profile security training, nods at me with his piercing eyes, “Sir,” he says. The last man in the group is the shortest of them all; about 6’ tall, lean, his blonde hair trimmed military style. His file indicated that he was also military, involved in Black Ops, and he comes highly recommended. He has a wiry look

and an animal grace. As he walks from the other side to meet me without leaving my gaze, I sense his predatory presence. Pointing at him with his hand, Taylor introduces him, “Sir, this is Reynolds.” His hand shake is both assessing me, as well as giving reassurance to his capabilities. I meet each of their gaze level. I briefly look at Taylor asking him with my gaze if he had explained what their job entailed. He gives me a barely noticeable nod. He has. I go into topic without a preamble. “Gentlemen! Here’s what I require and expect at all times: I’m the top authority in every move you make while you work for me. I’m your god, your boss, the authority you submit to before anything or anyone else! I say ‘jump’ and you don’t ask questions, just do the fucking job ask of you! Even hesitating to obey a single order from me will cause your immediate dismissal! You will forget your wives, your girlfriends, you family and any of your other personal obligations while you work for me until this problem is resolved! You all come with high recommendations, but it doesn’t mean jack shit to me if you can’t, won’t, unable or unwilling to perform what I ask! I hire you for your skills, and intuition and I want utmost professionalism, stealth, and above all, absolute security, and I will pay you well for those services. I expect protection 24/7 round the clock. Don’t sign up if you are unwilling or incapable of providing what I ask.” Then I look around with steel gaze into each of their eyes. “Sawyer, are my terms acceptable to you?” He answers without hesitation, “Yes, sir!” “Ryan, are my terms acceptable to you?” Ryan is as determined as Sawyer, “Yes, sir!” I turn the last man in the group. “Reynolds, are these terms acceptable to you?” “Yes, sir!” he says without leaving his gaze off mine. “Great! You were each shown a picture of the woman who is missing, and stalking me and my girlfriend. Assume that she’s armed and dangerous. However, do NOT injure her if you were to run into her. Safely

capture her, and I’m to be informed immediately. I trust that men who have been to wars such as yourselves, can deal with a little girl!” The men shift uncomfortably with that assessment. They don’t want to appear weak to their boss. “Sawyer!” “Sir!” he responds immediately. “I want you to memorize the face of Leila Williams. In fact, I want all of you to commit her face to memory as you will all be looking for her. And, Sawyer!” “Sir,” he responds. “You’ll be the private security detail for my girlfriend, Miss Steele. You will follow her like her shadow. You are NOT to leave her out of your sight. Where she goes, you go. She will challenge you,” I say remembering all the tricks Anastasia can pull out of her sleeves. “She might even beg you, or try to convince you that she’s okay and safe. My orders remain the same. What she asks, doesn’t count. You are not to leave her side regardless of what she says or how she says it. Your orders come from me and me alone! I may sometime convey my orders through Taylor. He’s the other person you will respond to. Taylor will explain the rest of your duties to all of you as well as where and how you should look for Leila.” They know that I’m the Alpha of this den, and I have all their attention. It’s their superior speaking. “Sawyer, you are coming to provide security along with Taylor tonight in the same vehicle as Taylor,” I say. “Yes, sir!” “I’ll leave the rest to Taylor to instruct you on your duties,” I say as Taylor nods at me. “Gentlemen,” I say, and then turn to Taylor, and when we lock gazes, he knows I want to see him, and we leave his office together as he says, “I’ll be back in a few minutes”. Once we are out of his office, and out of everyone’s earshot, I turn to him abruptly and say, “I need you to get me a bright red lipstick if you can find one right now.”

His eyebrows shot up, but since this is not the strangest thing I’ve asked him to provide me in the years he’s worked for me, he nods and as my request registers, and replies “yes, sir,” then walks in the direction of his supply room. It makes me wonder what else he’s keeping there, but that’s one of the reasons I’ve hired him, because he is capable of doing what is asked of him, without a second thought. I have been thinking of Anastasia’s road map idea, and I want to draw the boundaries where she can and can’t touch. That way I can compromise a little bit without completely either blocking her or breaking my hard limits. I can compromise for Anastasia, and for her alone. (←No Ordinary Love by Sade) Taylor’s back in less than two minutes with an unopened tube of lipstick. I unscrew the cap, and twist the bottom. Out comes the unused tube harlot red lipstick. I nod in response with an impassive face, and leave as Taylor turns to go back to his office with an expression matching mine. I make my way back to Anastasia’s room and find her sprawled on her bed and looking into her monitor intently reading what must be a fascinating piece. I stand at the door to observe her first. She doesn’t notice me. “What are you doing?” I ask softly, my previous anger subdued.

Panic crosses her eyes briefly, and I wonder if she’s corresponding with someone else. Some other guy? I quickly try to wipe the thought away. I walk in and casually lie down next to her and look at her Mac’s screen. The website reads: Multiple Personality Disorder: The Symptoms. Both relief and amusement floods through me. There could only be one reason she’s searching into it: Me. But I can’t let it go without teasing her. “Are you on this website for a particular reason?” I ask casually. She glances at me sideways to assess my mood. She gets on her passive face on and responds, “Research. Into a difficult personality.” Her response suddenly makes me want to smile. For some odd reason, it makes me happy that she’s making efforts to understand me. “A difficult personality?” I ask. “A pet project of mine,” she replies again with a deadpan expression. I couldn’t help but tease her on this sounding wounded, “You think of me as a pet project Anastasia? A sideline, perhaps. Maybe even a science experiment. Here I was thinking that I was everything to you. Miss Steele, you wound me.” “What makes you think it’s you?” she asks.

“Just a wild guess,” I say grinning. “Well, Mr. Grey, it’s true that you’re the only fucked-up mercurial, control freak I know intimately,” she responds. “Miss Steele, I thought I was the only person you know intimately,” I say jealousy creeping up. She blushes, “yes, you are,” she replies quietly. “Well, has the article helped you to reach any conclusions about me?” I ask. She turns sideways and gazes at me for some time, and I watch her on my side holding myself up, gazing back at her with an amused expression. “It has,” she replies. “Mr. Grey, I believe you are in need of intense therapy,” she says half joking, but knowing its Anastasia, she might just mean it. I reach up to her, caress her cheek with my knuckles as she closes her eyes, and leans into my touch instinctively. Her hair falls on her face, and I tuck it in behind her ear. (←At Last by Etta James) “I’m only in need of you Anastasia,” I say. Then I say “here,” handing her the bright red lipstick. She looks at it confused. Then she looks back at me frowning. She opens the tube, and twists the lipstick, and out comes the harlot red, fuck-me-now color lipstick, clearly deciding that it’s not her color. “You want me to wear this... color?” she squeaks making me laugh. “No, baby, I don’t! Well, not unless you want to. But I’m sure it’s not your color,” I add. Then I sit up on the bed cross legged, and then pull my shirt off. “I was thinking of your road map idea, and I think I’ll let you draw...” I say as she stares at me with blank expression-like lights are on, and Anastasia just stepped out. She shakes her head, reentering back into her body, gulping, unable to believe that I’d let her do that. “Huh?” she says as her chest is rapidly rising and falling with disbelief. “The no-go map,” I say. “I was only kidding,” she breathes. “I’m not,” I say determined.

“You want me to draw on you with lipstick?” she asks showing the lipstick in her hand. “That’s exactly what I want you to do. It washes off.” With my confirmation, she smiles, and her smile grows into a wondrous sweet grin. “What about something more permanent like a Sharpie?” she asks. “If you want something even more permanent, I could always get a tattoo,” I say joking. No! No tattoos!” she laughs. “Alright, we’ll stick with the lipstick then,” I say happily. She shuts the screen down and effectively closing her laptop, she pushes it away. “Come,” I say as I hold my hand out to Anastasia. “I want you to sit on me,” I say. She takes her shoes off as I lie on her bed, and bend my knees. She crawls over me in a sitting position. I make her lean against my legs. It’s a very suggestive position if we were having sex as she sits astride me. I'm turned on but, I’m also apprehensive. It’s been quite some time I’ve let anyone touch me where I’m going to let her touch. Anastasia however is beaming with excitement. “You seem quite enthusiastic about this,” I observe. “I’m always eager for information, Mr. Grey. Because it means you’ll relax around me, and I’ll know where the boundaries lie,” she explains. I can’t believe I’m going to let her to draw all over me with bright fuck-me red lipstick! Well, I don’t mind the fuck-me part, but with a lipstick! I draw in a breath to steady myself. I’m nervous, and all the old fears and apprehension come to surface, but I shove them down almost forcefully. I hate bending my rules. But to make my relationship work with Anastasia, I have to try this and show her the boundaries. It bothered me that I allowed Elena touch me, and Anastasia, the woman I’m in love with, can’t! I’m about to change this. Okay, steady... I remind myself. I swallow. (←Is This Love by Whitesnake) “Open the lipstick,” I command. She takes the lid off, and twists the bottom and the lipstick shows its harlot red color. “Give me your hand,” I say, but with her excitement Anastasia extends her other hand. Rolling my eyes at her, I say, “the one with the lipstick.”

“Are you rolling your eyes at me Mr. Grey?” she asks. “Yep,” I smile. “That’s very rude, you know. There are some people who tend to get positively violent at eye-rolling,” she says sarcastically. “Do you now?” I ask her devilishly. I take her hand with the lipstick and immediately sit up. It’s now or never. I have to get through it before I change my mind. My heart is throbbing as if’s ready to take off like the space shuttle. I take in a strong breath. Let it out, and steady myself. “Ready?” I ask her in a low voice, but it’s also a question to myself, loudly assuring myself that it’s okay for Anastasia to touch me that way. “Yes,” she whispers in an equally low voice to match mine. I close my eyes, and inhale Anastasia’s womanly scent. Then open them up and look into her eyes. Slowly I guide her hand up to the curve of my shoulder. “Press down,” I breathe and guide her hand downwards from the top of my shoulder, right around my arm socket then down to the side of my chest marking one side of the territory in red. It’s a declaration of where to stop, where to never cross, like two hostile countries’ borders. One is safe, and one is deadly. I keep her hand moving steadily despite the level of my anxiety, and I make her stop at the bottom of my ribcage and going sideways across my stomach. At this point her hand is too close to the danger zone for my comfort and I immediately tense up. Some horrible memories rise up in me. Briefly, I’m lost to my current self, and back into the body of the little unkempt boy I had been. I see the angry face of the pimp, with him leaning in as he blew his smoke rather forcefully in my face and the stale cocktail of alcohol and cigarettes mixed in his nasty breath coming down. Bile rises in my throat, and I realize that I’m holding my breath. Then I take a lungful of air as I inhale Anastasia’s soapy, clean, outdoors and womanly scent, letting it me like a ton of brick wall shattering the images of the pimp. I try to get my bearing, and keep my expression blank with a lot of effort. (←Courage by The Dirty Guv’Nahs)

I grit my teeth straining my jaw, and tension rises in my eyes, as I can barely whisper, “and up the other side.” I release her hand at this point.

She continues the line in the same fashion mirroring the opposite side she’s drawn. My chest rises up and down in rapid succession trying to accommodate my heart that is trying to lurch out of my chest as I make a Herculean effort to remain calm. When Anastasia manages to connect the lines from both sides of my torso in the front, she finally says, “There, done,” in a whisper. “No, you’re not,” I reply her declaration. I draw the line with my index finger on the base of my throat next so that she can follow the imaginary line I’ve drawn with the bright red lipstick. As the strange rectangular box completed in the front of my torso, Anastasia gazes into my eyes with wonder and devotion. I have to keep going while I can. “Now my back,” I murmur as I shift, and she climbs off me. I turn my back to her on the bed still cross-legged. “Follow the line from my chest, all the way around to the other side,” I say in a low voice with barely contained emotion. I feel the lipstick gliding on the dangerous borders of my go and no-go territories. I keep my head down; my body is tense as if it’s a time bomb ready to explode. My toes are curled in and tight. My knuckles are fisted tightly, strained and white as all the blood is drawn from my hands. After what feels like forever, Anastasia murmurs “finished,” in a low voice. I can finally let go of the tension and I slump against myself relaxing, and turn to Anastasia to face her again. “Those are your boundaries,” I say to her quietly. My eyes are dilated with passion but also with a form of freedom now that Anastasia knows where her boundaries lie. Fear leaves me. She gazes at me with love and amazement. “I can live with those. Right now, Christian, I just want to launch myself at you,” she whispers making me smile wickedly, and hold out my hands to her as in a supplication. “Well, Miss Steele, I’m all yours,” I breathe expectant. She gives a delightful squeal, and just hurls herself into my arms, and I’m knocked flat on her bed. The shitty morning I’ve had, and her inquisition and finally this stressful mapping, I’m ready to lose myself in Anastasia. I feel elated with excitement, and rollover and get on top of her. (←Freak Me by Silk) “Now, about that rain check, Miss Steele,” I breathe into her mouth and claim her lips. “God! I can’t remember ever wanting you this much! Fuck! Scratch that, I always want you this much!” I said into her mouth between kisses, nipping her lower lip. Her fingers curl into my hair and pull me in passionately, ready to consume and devour me, and I her. I have had just about all I can take without being inside her.

“You’re still dressed,” I groan, and pull her, dragging her up, and attacking her t-shirt, whipping it off before she can take a full breath, and throw it on the floor unceremoniously. “I want to feel you,” I say hungrily against her mouth, and my hands move behind her to unhook her bra, and with practiced move, I undo it, and take it off her and toss it into the pile on the floor. I push my woman down onto the bed, getting on top of her, and claim her mouth and her breasts. She digs her fingers into my hair, and pulls it closer to her as I capture one of her nipples between my lips suck, and tug it with my teeth. She cries out in response with pleasurable sensations vibrating through her body, and the sounds she makes turn me on even further. “Yes, baby, let me hear you,” I murmur over her sensitive skin. I start nibbling and sucking her nipples with my lips sensually, and pulling and tugging the other with my expert fingers. She squirms under me, writhing. I just can’t get enough of this goddess of a woman. I worship her with my body. I knead her nipples, pulling and tugging. My hand moves down between her breasts, down to her belly making strategic stops, making her writhe. As my hand reach to her jeans, I undo her button and pull her zipper down, and my hand moves inside her panties, and my fingers find and slide against her sex. My fingers find her folds to be so wet for me, it makes me gasp. “Oh, baby,” I say hovering over her as I stare intently into her eyes, “you’re’ so wet for me!” “I want you,” she murmurs. Her declaration is my undoing, and my lips cover hers and with a hunger for her, I want to merge with her, feel her, and feel her want and desire for me. I need to know we’re okay! I need to know she wants me and me alone! I need to fuck her right now! I sit up, and pull her jeans down along with her panties, and toss them onto the floor. She’s completely bared to me. Me alone! The thought that she’s never been seen by someone else like this, to have, to claim raises the level of proprietorship I feel towards her. I look at her with greedy eyes fixed on hers. I take a packet of condom out of my jeans’ pocket and toss it at Anastasia while sliding off my jeans and boxers. Anastasia rips the packet as I lie beside her. She looks into my eyes and with hands shaky in delirious anticipation rolls the condom on my length. I grab Anastasia’s hands and roll on to my back wanting her to be on top. “You. On top,” I order her, and pull her to straddle on me. “I want to see you,” I say. It’s a big turn on to see my woman come apart with pleasure; a pleasure only I can provide for her, and something that feeds into my possessive self, making me hotter, and more wanton for her!

I guide her, and she sheaths every inch of me with her sex, sinking balls-deep, as I push up to meet her sex in one fierce stab, filling and stretching her beyond limits. All my synapses are on fire and every single cell on my cock is alert with sensation making me exhale, and take another big gulp of air to accommodate the need. As Anastasia on top of me, possessing me, and what I can give her, I too, possess her sexually, emotionally and mentally. She’s completely mine! She clenches around my length, and I slam forward, hard, thrusting, making her cry out and moan with pleasure driving me crazy! “That’s right, baby, feel me,” I say in a strained voice. I own her right now! I’m in her; possessing her most intimately, connected with her body and soul. Anastasia tips her head back and moves up and down, over and over again, closing her eyes. “Open your eyes, baby. I want to see my Ana,” I whisper possessively. “Yours,” she says in a raspy voice, “always yours.” With Anastasia willingly giving me domination over her like this, consenting verbally makes me groan loudly, tipping my head back, closing my eyes in intense pleasure, getting me burst in the seams and Anastasia comes loudly collapsing on top of me, causing me to be undone, and I find my own release, groaning, “Oh, baby!” and finally holding her still in my arms. After our descent, Anastasia’s still lying on my chest with her head nestled on over the forbidden zone. But, somehow, as she’s panting, and trying to catch her breath while we are both still experiencing the aftershocks, I don’t seem to care. I just smooth her hair, and run my hand down her back caressing her as I relax. “You are so beautiful,” murmur. She lifts her head and looks up disbelieving as if I’ve made a statement saying she’s grown horns. Don’t doubt me baby! I frown and sit up so quickly she’s surprised, and my arms sweeps around her to hold her in place, as she clutches my biceps and we are nose to nose. “You. Are. Beautiful,” I say in an emphatic tone. “And you are amazingly sweet sometimes,” she says kissing me gently.

I lift her up, and ease out of her as she winces. I’m too big, and she’s too tight. I lean forward and kiss her. Anastasia is so innocently and beguilingly beautiful. She’s irresistible to me. I have an unquenchable thirst for her.

“You have no idea how attractive you are, do you?” I ask as she flushes, still disbelief crosses her face. “All those boys pursuing you – that isn’t clue enough for you?” “Boys? What boys?” she asks unbelieving. “You want the list?” I ask frowning. Is she that obtuse to see what is going on around her? “The photographer, he’s crazy about you, that boy in the hardware store, your roommate’s older brother. Your boss,” I say finally bitterly. The others I can keep away from her. But the last fucker is in charge of her eight hours a day making me none too happy. Dominating my woman, ordering her around, and, she obeying his commands however small! I’m fucking jealous! The thought of it is making me crazy when I’m making concessions to give her more room to be free, and some fucker is taking command of her, wanting into her panties, desiring what’s mine. “Oh, Christian, that’s just not true,” she says. “Trust me. They want you. They want what’s mine,” I say fervently. I pull her against me, and lift her arms against my shoulders wrapping them around, and she lifts her hands into my hair, twisting. “Mine,” I repeat possessively. (←I’m Yours by Jason Mraz) She has no idea what I feel! No idea what I would do to keep her mine and keep others out of my way, who I have to walk over, and fight with. No idea at all! What is mine is mine and she is mine body and soul! She looks at me, and says “Yes, yours,” reassuring with her smile, my anger subsides. “The line is still intact,” she murmurs and traces the mark on my shoulder with her index finger. It’s so close to the forbidden zone, I stiffen immediately with tension as if she’s going to jump the border, invade my territory. I blink to push the fear down. “I want to go exploring,” she says confusing me. “The apartment?” I ask.

“No. I was thinking of the treasure map that we’ve drawn on you,” she says dying to touch me with longing. My eyebrows lift in surprise and I feel apprehensive, uncertain, fearful even. She can be very persuasive in her own ways. She rubs her nose against mine. “And what would that entail exactly, Miss Steele?” I ask. She lifts her hand from my shoulder, from the border between safe and forbidden zone to my relief and run those fingers down my face making me close my eyes and lean into her fingertips. Her fingers reach over my lips, and I capture her index finger and bite gently. “Ow,” she says making me grin and growl into acceptance of her request. “Okay,” I acquiesce; releasing her finger, but apprehension just runs through my blood. It’s been years since anyone has touched me like this, and none of that was pleasant. But when she holds her hand up hesitantly, I say “Wait,” I say leaning behind her and lifting her up so I can remove the condom, and just toss it onto the floor by the bed unceremoniously. They’re such an inconvenience. “I hate those things. I’ve a good mind to call Dr. Green to get over here to give you a shot,” I say and I think that’s just what I’ll do. “You think the top gynecologist in Seattle is going to come running?” “I can be very persuasive,” I murmur as I gently tuck her hair behind her ear. She looks so beautiful. Her new haircut makes her very elegant. “Franco’s done a great job on your hair. I like these layers.” “Stop changing the subject,” she says. I prop my knees up, put her back on the straddling position and leaning her against my knees as she positions her feet on either side of my hips. I lean back on my arms completely surrendering though not without a lot of reserved apprehension. “Touch away,” I say ineffectively concealing my nervousness. She locks her gaze with me, and reach down making her intention clear. Her fingers visit the lipstick line across my abdominal muscles first and the close proximity of her fingers to the forbidden zone makes me involuntarily flinch hard, and she stops on her tracks. Realizing how difficult of a task this is for me, she is reticent. “I don’t have to,” she whispers. “No, it’s fine. Just takes some...” I say trying to steady my breathing trying to adjust, “readjustment on my part. No one’s touched me for a long time,” I murmur. (←My Touch / I’m Yours by The Scripts)

“Mrs. Robinson?” she blurts out. I know the topic is a hard one for her, so my only response is a nod, with discomfort. “I don’t want to talk about her. It will sour your good mood,” I say. She’s jealous of what I had with Mrs. R though there is nothing I can do to change that. My past is part of me, but I’m extremely glad she doesn’t have one. I can’t even handle the advances of other men make towards her which I can prevent. I’d go crazy if I knew there were men who touched her, fucked her, loved her like I do! “I can handle it,” she says. God! That’s the overstatement of the century! “No, you can’t, Ana. You see red whenever I mention her. My past is my past. It’s a fact. I can’t change it. I’m lucky that you don’t have one, because it would drive me crazy if you did,” which is odd for me to feel this strongly, because I’ve had fifteen different subs, and every single one of them had a past. I really cared nothing about it. But with Anastasia, all bets are off. I care about everything she’s done, doing, or will do. It makes me insanely jealous, and I become a bigger control freak when it comes to her. She frowns at me. “Drive you crazy? More than you are already?” she smiles making me smile back at her in return. “Crazy for you,” I whisper. (←Crazy For You by Madonna) And that’s the truth. I will do anything for her to keep her in my life easy way, hard way, anyway. “Shall I call Dr. Flynn?” she asks concerned. Really? “I don’t think that will be necessary,” I respond dryly. She shifts back and I drop my legs to give her room to move back. She’s gloriously naked on top of me; her breasts are perfect perky mounds moving in synchronization with her movements making me thank all the gods of the universe for sending this woman to my way! She places her fingers back on my stomach again, and she slowly drifts them across my skin paying attention to remain on the borders. Meanwhile my heart is like the wings of a hummingbird, chasing something and never being able to get out of my chest with a mixture of fear, apprehension and excitement. “I like touching you,” she whispers as she slides her fingers down to my navel onto my happy trail. Now you’re talking! My cock twitches to attention with her fingers approaching with anticipation. My lips part and my breathing changes into one of sensual, and finally my erection stirs and salutes into attention beneath Anastasia.

“Again?” she murmurs shocked. (←I Want Your Sex by George Michael) “Oh, yes, Miss Steele, again,” I say giving my salacious smile. This time I roll her beneath me. My erection is notched between the blooms of her sex and I tease her back and forth rocking against her. Her skin is getting hot as if she’s licked by fire. I push her legs further open and drive my full length into her sinking deep as she lifts her pelvis up to meet and match my passion for her, and we continue our bed tango until we are both fully exhausted. (←Spanish Tango from the Mask of Zorro) After a leisurely, but rather passionately spent Saturday afternoon, I leave Anastasia to rest in her room making my way back to my room to take a shower. My mind is constantly on Anastasia. I’m shocked and surprised at the concession I made for her, but also equally delighted with the results. We’ve crossed a major hurdle. I make my way into my bathroom, and check myself in the mirror scrunching my chin. I might need a shave, and seeing that I have to be my most presentable self, I quickly get that task done. After turning the water hot, I walk into the large shower and bask myself in hot water. I feel as if a chip falling away from the emotional pile of shit that I’ve been hauling around most my life with what I managed to do for Anastasia this afternoon. It’s not everything, but it is still something. I go through the motions quickly as if I have a treasure waiting in a different room. I take a plush towel from the towel warmer, and dry myself. I go to my closet and choose the suit I am going to be wearing tonight. The charity event is formal and black tie, so I choose my black tux. I put a crisp white shirt on and after putting my boxers I put my black suit pants on. I don’t need to put my tie on yet, so the collar of my shirt is still open. I gaze at myself in the mirror. The top of the crimson lipstick line is still visible even after a couple of rumps in Anastasia’s bed, a shower and drying with towels. I smile. I have a mischievous but rather erotic plan to spice up this evening. Shocking my girlfriend with sensual games is the icing on the cake. (Passion del Tango) I go to a dresser and open it. I grab the small box in it I’ve stored last Saturday, and gazing at it emotionally, I put it into my pocket. Then I make my way to my playroom, and unlock the door. I walk further down into the room and find the drawers where I keep the toys I’ve purchased to use on Anastasia. “Aha! There you are...” I say and grab what I’m looking for. With a smirk on my face, I close the playroom’s door, and lock it. I make my way back to Anastasia’s room, and feel my breath escape my

lungs in a whoosh as if hit a brick wall with the sight of her before me. She is in the black bustier corset with silver filigree trim with the briefest black panties matching her corset. She’s also put on her silk thigh-high stockings with clipped garter. She reaches down and rather gracefully picks her dress up. I’m on fucking fire with the amazing sight before me! I am completely immobile, gawking at her, voraciously hungry for her. She feels my presence and turns to me blushing. She takes in all of me in my evening outfit, appraising. “Can I help you, Mr. Grey? I assume there is some purpose to your visit other than to gawk mindlessly at me,” she says witty. “I am rather enjoying my mindless gawk, Anastasia, thank you,” I murmur as my eyes trying to take her all in, drinking in her beauty. “Remind me to send a personal thank you note to Caroline Acton,” I say and she immediately frowns upon hearing a woman’s name. “The personal shopper at Neiman Marcus’s,” I say in answering her unasked question. “Oh.” “I’m quite distracted,” I say. “I can see that. What do you want Christian?” she asks in a no non-sense voice. I smile and my grin gets bigger as I dig my hands into my pocket and bring out the silver balls out of it effectively stopping her in her tracks. She looks at me as if I want to put them in and spank her right away. Well, I do want to do those things but, but I have to restrain myself about spanking. I do, however want to fuck her brains out during the charity event after I extract these balls out of her. (←Tonight by Enrico Iglesias ft. Ludacris) “It’s not what you think,” I say quickly. “Enlighten me,” she whispers. “I thought you could wear these tonight,” I say. “To this event?” she asks to clarify. I nod and my eyes darken with anticipation. “Will you spank me later?” Of course not!

“No,” I reply softly and her face falls in disappointment making me chuckle. “You want me to?” I ask. She swallows. She’s indecisive and indecisive is not good. That is a territory I’m not willing to enter. “Well, rest assured I’m not going to touch you like that, not even if you beg me,” I say. She continues to gaze at me. “Do you want to play this game?” I ask holding up the balls from the string. “You can always take them out if it’s too much,” I say trying to coax her into agreement. She gazes at me up and down, deciding she likes what she sees, “Okay,” she agrees. “Good girl,” I say grinning. “Come here, and I’ll put them in, once you’ve put your shoes on,” I reply. Stilettos are a major turn on for me. But more importantly, they’ll raise her heels several inches off the ground and giving me easier access to her sex. I hold my hand out to Anastasia, and she steps into her sexy Christian Louboutin five inch stilettos. I take her hand and lead her to the bedside and walk to the corner of the room, and grab the only chair there, and bring it beside the bed. Turning the back of the chair towards the bed, I place it in front of her. “When I nod, you bend down and hold on to the chair. Do you understand?” I ask in a husky desire laden voice. “Yes,” she breathes. “Good, now open your mouth,” I say, and as she opens it, I slip my index finger into it. “Suck,” I say surprising her. I then put the balls into my mouth, and as she sucks my finger...hard, the action fuels my desire for her, salivating me, and I’m able to heat and lubricate the balls in my mouth. I try to withdraw my finger, but she clamps her teeth down. Though it’s playful and makes me grin, I shake my head regaining control of the action, effectively making her let go. I nod, and she bends down grasping the sides of the chair. As she bends down, her perfect round orbs of derrière are presented in the most luscious way. I move her panties to the side and slowly slide a finger into her, circling and making her natural lubrication coat the insides of her sex. My finger travels on all sides of her vagina walls, swirling in a rhythm. She moans in pleasure. She’s perfectly wet.

I finally withdraw my finger and insert one ball at a time pushing them deep inside her. Once I know they’re in correct position, I smooth her panties back into place, and lean down kissing her backsides. I run both my hands on her legs down from her ankles to her thighs, finally kissing the top of each of her thighs. “You have fine, exquisite legs, Miss Steele,” I murmur in adoration. I stand behind her, and grasp her hips and pull her behind against my straining erection, making her feel me. “Maybe I’ll have you this way when we get home, Anastasia. You can stand now,” I say and let her stand erect. Once she stands up, I lean down and kiss her shoulders. After she stands up her back to me, I wrap my arm around her from the back, and present her with the box in my pocket. “I bought these for you to wear last Saturday’s gala,” as I hold the small red Cartier box out to her. “But you left me,” I say almost choking on my words. I wait a second to let the wavering pass from my voice, and say, “so I never had the opportunity to give them to you.”

“So this is my second chance,” I murmur in a low voice, trying to swallow and bury down the pain I had endured in her absence.

Anastasia reaches for the box, and opens it. There is a pair of drop earrings with four diamonds on each; one at the base, then a gap, then three perfectly spaced diamonds hanging one after the other. They’re simple with subtle elegance. “They’re lovely,” whispers Anastasia. “Thank you.” I relax out of the tension I didn’t know I was holding, and I kiss her shoulder. “You’re wearing the silver satin dress?” I ask. “Yes. Is that okay?” she asks. “Of course. I’ll let you get ready,” I say keeping whatever manly dignity I have left without choking on my words before her. I make my way back into my room, and tie the black bow tie elegantly, and put the jacket of my black dinner suit. I come out, and Taylor is waiting to be briefed for the evening.

“Sir, everyone’s ready for your orders.” I nod. “Get them here,” I say.

Taylor walks back in with Reynolds, Ryan, and Sawyer. “We’re attending to a charity event this evening at my parents’ house. There’ll be a lot of high profile guests. It’s going to be a masked ball, so it may be nearly impossible to identify the individual behind the mask until the mask comes out. I want you to be all inconspicuous but extremely vigilant. Taylor and Sawyer, you will follow Miss Steele at all times. I should be with her all evening, but it is possible that we may get separated. If anyone approaches her and I’m not with her, you are to call me Taylor. I don’t care who it is. The only exception to that would be my parents and my sister, but even if she is with them and there is any sign of distress in her, you will call me. If it is someone you don’t know, just escort Miss Steele, and find me.” Taylor and Sawyer respond, “Yes, sir,” both at the same time. Then I turn to Ryan and Reynolds.

“Ryan and Reynolds!” I say and they both automatically snap to attention. “You are responsible following me and securing the parameters at...” I say and see the gazes of all three men who are facing me suddenly snap up and each one of them have the exact carnal appreciation in their gazes. I know Anastasia is standing somewhere in the room. I turn around, and my mouth goes dry with the sight of her. She is standing by the entry with her hair falling in soft waves around her face, spilling over her shoulder and her breasts. One side of her hair is tucked behind her ear smartly revealing one of the earrings. Her make-up is subtle and immaculate. She is wearing the strapless, floor-length silver satin gown and the dress is hugging her in all the right places as if someone has poured it on her. She looks much taller with her stilettos. I forget my company and leave my words hanging in the air and just stroll towards her as if my sun is calling me. I take all of her in as she is gazing at me appreciatively and kiss her hair. (←The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra) All I can mutter is, “Anastasia. You look breathtaking.” She blushes at the compliment in front of our security detail. “Would you like a glass of champagne before we go?” I ask.

“Please,” she murmurs, anxious. I nod at Taylor, who already knows what they are responsible of carrying out, and he understands and takes the other men with him and leaves me and Anastasia alone. I walk to the fridge and take a bottle of champagne out. “Is it the security team?” Anastasia asks half interested, half dazed. “Close protection. They’re under Taylor’s command. He’s trained in that, too,” I say handing Anastasia a champagne flute. “He’s very versatile,” she observes. “Yes, he is,” I smile. I can’t get over how stunning, and drop dead gorgeous she looks. If we weren’t going in a short while, I’d take her to my room, fuck her all the way to next Sunday! “How are you feeling?” I ask remembering the balls inside her with my errant thoughts with heated eyes. “Fine, thank you,” she says smiling sweetly, completely ignoring my meaning. I know the game she’s playing, and her reaction makes me smirk. “Here, you’re going to need this,” I say handing her a velvet pouch containing the mask. “Open it,” I say as I take a sip of my champagne. She’s captivated with the mystery and looks up at me and reaches into the bag pulling out a silver masquerade mask with cobalt blue feather in plume crowning the top. She’s fascinated with the mask in her hand.

“It’s a masked ball,” I state nonchalantly. “I see,” She says gazing at the silver filigree etches around the eyes. “This will show off your beautiful eyes, Anastasia,” I say. She smiles at me shyly. “Are you wearing one?” she asks. “Of course. They’re very liberating in a way,” I say raising an eyebrow. Then I remember that I wanted to show her the library knowing how much she likes reading. “Come. I want to show you something,” I say holding out my hand to her leading her into the hallway and to a door next to the stairs. When I open the door to the library, she gazes drift all around her excited. The library is about the size of my playroom, and every wall is filled with books floor to ceiling. In the center of the room, there is a full size billiard table which is illuminated by a long triangular prism shaped Tiffany lamp. Anastasia is so excited she turns to me and squeaks in awe, “You have a library!” “Yes, Elliott calls it the balls room. The apartment is quite spacious. I realized today when you mentioned exploring. I realized that I’ve never given you a tour. We don’t have time for a tour right now, but I thought I’d at least show you this room and maybe challenge you to a game of billiards in the nottoo-distant future.” She grins at me.

“Bring it on,” she says gleefully. “What?” I ask amused. Does she think she’ll win? “Nothing,” she says quickly. Oh, she’s hiding something. I narrow my eyes on her. “Well, maybe Doctor Flynn can uncover your secrets. You’ll meet him this evening,” I reveal. “The expensive charlatan?” she asks surprised. “The very same. He’s dying to meet you.”

“Come, we don’t have time. We have to be leaving,” I say. Anastasia and I go in the same SUV with Taylor and Sawyer. We sit the in the back as I hold Anastasia’s hand in mine. I gently skim my thumb across her knuckles absently. Then I realize that she’s squirming in her seat, biting her lip, barely containing herself. She crosses her legs to stop the movement of the silver balls inside her. “Where did you get the lipstick?” she asks me quietly. “Taylor,” I mouth her smirking, and Anastasia burst out laughing which is short lived, because the balls inside her start moving, and “oh,” she says with overwhelming sensation, biting her lip trying to compress the urge growing inside her. I smile at her with wickedly gleaming eyes. “Relax,” I breath. “If it’s too much…” I say my voice trails off. We could take care of it when we get to my parents’ house. I gently take her hand and kiss each of her knuckles softly and then gently suck the tip of her little finger. I know that she’s clenching in all the right places and the sensation in her is growing. She closes her eyes to either indulge or suppress the feelings. When she opens her eyes back again, she finds me regarding her closely. I want her, I desire her, but there’s not a thing I can do right now. She smiles at me making me smile back at her. (←All I Want is You by U2) “So what can we expect at this event?” she asks. “Oh, the usual stuff,” I say. I smile lovingly at her and kiss her hand again. “Lots of people flashing their cash. Auction, raffle, dinner, dancing – my mother knows how to throw a party,” I say smiling at her. When we arrive at the Grey mansion, there is a long line of expensive cars leading up the driveway. There’s long, pale pink paper lanterns hanging over the driveway. She glances at me. “Masks on,” I grin. I don a simple black mask and Anastasia her silver one. She’s an incredible sight to see, and I would hate to have other men’s eyes on her here tonight as she’s incredibly stunning.

Taylor pulls into the driveway, and a valet opens my door. Sawyer leaps out and opens Anastasia’s door. “Ready?” I ask. “As I’ll ever be,” she responds.

“You look beautiful, Anastasia,” I say kissing her hand.

A dark green carpet runs along the lawn to the one side of the house leading the path to the grounds in the back. I have a possessive arm around Anastasia as my hand rests on her waist, we follow the green carpet along with Seattle’s elite. There are two photographers who take pictures of each entering guest in the backdrop of an ivy-strewn arbor. “Mr. Grey!” one of the photographers calls. I nod in acknowledgment, and pull Anastasia closely to me. “Two photographers?” she asks. “One is from the Seattle times; the other is for a souvenir. We’ll be able to buy a copy later,” I explain. Once we make our way through the line, we can see the white suited servers holding trays of glasses brimming with champagne. I take two glasses. I take one for myself and one for my girl. She takes hers gratefully. We make our way to a large white pergola hung with smaller paper lanterns. Below us is a white checkered dance floor surrounded by a low fence with entrances on three sides. At each entrance there is a large ice sculpture of swans. The last side of the pergola is occupied by a string quartet. I lead her between the swans onto the dance floor along with other guests. My parents’ estate is on the shore. Towards the shoreline part of the property, there is a grand marquis, with formally arranged tables and chairs. “How many people are coming?” she asks.

“I think about three hundred. You’ll have to ask my mother,” I say smiling down at her. “Christian!” I hear my name being called. And I know who that is before her arms wrap around my neck. It’s my sister Mia. She’s in a sleek, pale pink, full length chiffon gown with a Venetian mask to match. Mia then turns to Anastasia and says, “Ana! Oh, darling, you look gorgeous!” giving her a quick hug. “You must come and meet my friends. None of them can believe that Christian finally has a girlfriend,” she gushes. Anastasia shoots me a quick panicked glance at me, and I shrug knowing that my sister is impossible, and she will get her way. Mia leads Anastasia to a group of four young women. Mia introduces them to her. I am standing in my place until I can claim Anastasia back, but among the group of women my sister is introducing her is Lily who is a complete bitch. She will surely try to give Anastasia a hard time. I have to save her. I walk towards her, and wrap my arms around her from the back. “Ladies, if I could claim my date back, please?” I say as I pull her to my side. All four women flush and grin and fidget. “Lovely to meet you,” Anastasia says. Then she turns to me and mouths, “Thank you!” when we put a distance between us and the women. “I saw that Lily was with Mia. She is one nasty piece of work,” I say. “She likes you,” Anastasia observes making me shudder. “Well, the feeling is not mutual. Come, let me introduce you to some people,” I say, and within the next half hour, I take her to meet politicians, Hollywood actors, CEOs and physicians. I keep close at her side. The last CEO I introduce Anastasia to, is making small talk with Anastasia. “So you work at SIP?” he asks in his half bear mask. “Heard rumors of a hostile takeover, and Anastasia flushes. “I’m just a lowly assistant, Mr. Eccles. I wouldn’t know about these things,” she replies cleverly. I say nothing but smile at Eccles blandly. “Ladies and gentlemen!” announces the Master of ceremonies wearing a black and white harlequin mask.

“Please take your seats. Dinner is served.” I take Anastasia’s hand and we follow the crow to the large marquee. There are three huge chandeliers creating rainbow colored sparkles. Each table containing white linen table cloths, and in the center of the each table, there is a display of pink peonies around a silver candelabra. There are baskets of goodies as well. After checking up with the seating plan, I lead her to the table in the center. Mia and my mother are already in situ, and conversing with a young man who must be Mia’s date. When my mother notices us, she gets up to greet us. She is in a mint green gown and a Venetian mask. “Ana, how delightful to see you again! And looking so beautiful, too.” Mother,” I greet her stiffly and kiss my mom on the both cheeks. “Oh, Christian, so formal!” she scolds me. “Come, your grandparents are here, she says and lead us to them at our table. My grandparents are always exuberant and youthful. “Grandmother, Grandfather, may I introduce Anastasia Steele?” My grandmother is like white over rice on Anastasia. “Oh, he’s finally found someone, how wonderful and so pretty! Well I do hope you make an honest man of him,” she gushes, embarrassing Anastasia. “Mother, don’t embarrass Ana,” says my mother. “Ignore the silly old coot, m’dear,” says my Grandfather, Mr. Trevelyan. “She thinks because she’s so old, she has a God-given right to say whatever nonsense pops into that woolly head of hers.” “Ana, this is my date, Sean,” Mia introduces her date. He in turns gives Anastasia a wide grin already taken by her the fucker, especially when he’s escorting my own sister. I just want to wipe that grin off his face as his eyes are assessing my girlfriend. “Pleased to meet you, Sean,” Anastasia says. I shake his hand assessing him. As we all assume our seats at our table, we hear my father’s voice over the PA system, and the small talk around us dies down. My father stands on the small stage wearing a gold Punchinello mask.

“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to our annual charity ball. I hope that you enjoy what we have laid out for you tonight and that you’ll dig deep into your pockets to support the fantastic work that our team does with Coping Together. As you know, it’s a cause that is very close to my wife’s heart and mine.” He’s of course talking about me. They started this charity a couple of years after adopting me. Anastasia nervously looks at me knowing the meaning behind the charity, and feeling her gaze on me I glance at her and give her a genuine smile. In a way it is liberating having Anastasia know more of me. “I’ll hand you over now to our master of ceremonies. Please be seated, and enjoy,” he finishes and makes his way back to our table. When my dad comes back to our table, he greets us, and afford kisses on both Anastasia’s cheeks, and I think his action takes her by surprise. It makes me happy that all my family adores Anastasia. It’s not just me. She’s a lovable girl. “Good to see you again, Ana,” he murmurs. “Ladies and gentlemen, please nominate a table head,” the MC’s voice booms over the PA. My sister Mia who always desires to be in charge, a Grey character trait I suppose, and center of the attention – that is a Mia trait only, yells, “Oooo – me, me!” bouncing up and down in her seat like a toddler. “In the center of the table you will find an envelope. Would everyone find, beg, borrow, or steal a bill of the highest denomination you can manage, write your name on it, and place it inside the envelope. Table heads, please guard these envelopes carefully. We will need them later,” he announces. Anastasia’s face falls. I dig into my wallet and take out two One-hundred-Dollar bills. “Here,” I say handing Anastasia out one of the bills. “I’ll pay you back,” she whispers. What the fuck? I don’t want the money back from her! This is a charity which I dragged her to. Why should I make her pay for a measly amount like a hundred Dollars? I’m getting mad, but this is not the time or the place to discuss this; so I keep my trap shut for the time being. We both sign our names on the bills, and pass the money to Mia. Anastasia examines the menu of tonight’s event printed on a card inscribed with silver calligraphy. Salmon Tartare with Crème Fraiche and Cucumber, on Toasted Brioche matching it with Alban Estate Roussanne 2006 white wine. Then there’s Roasted Muscovy Duck Breast with Sunchoke Puree, Bing

Cherries, Foie Gras Châteauneuf-Du-Paper Vieilelles Vignes, paired with 2006 Domaine De La Janasse. For desert, sugared crusted walnut chiffon candied figs, sabayon, maple ice cream paired with Vin De Constance 2004 Klein Constantia. There’s of course local cheese and breads which are paired with Alban Estate Grenache 2006. To tie everything over, there’s coffee and Petit Fours. After examining the menu, I notice that Anastasia is gazing at the sunset over Seattle and Meydenbauer Bay after the two servers pull back the canvas of our tent. The city lights are twinkling as if they’re painting a canvas over the water with the orange, pink and reddish sunset colors. Ten servers, each of them are holding a plate start serving in synchronization. Anastasia gazes at the food on her plate. “Hungry?” I lean in as whisper in her ear like a caress. She shivers knowing my meaning. “Very,” she whispers back meeting my gaze with the lust reserved only for me making my lips part with desire as I inhale. I don’t want to get a hard on with three-hundred people around me. But, we have to do something about this later in the evening, otherwise I’m going to melt here. (←I Melt With You by Nouvelle Vague) As Anastasia is engaged in talking to my grandparents and Mia, I talk to Sean, Mia’s date about wind-up technology, particularly in cell phones, but trying to apply the technology into other devices requiring electricity or batteries. My goal is to be able to provide technology at the remote corners of the world. My company is using Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful Principle. Schumacher, besides being a British economist was also a writer. Most companies, people in fact believed in such phrases as “Bigger is better”. But when the ’73 energy crisis occurred, and that coincidentally was the time the globalization was emerging, Schumacher published a critique of Western economics called Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered. The book is divided into four parts: The Modern World, Resources, The Third World, and Organization and Ownership. He was concentrated on sustainable development because of its relatively minor improvements, technology transfer to Third World countries. There are a lot of things there were striking to me and stood out in the book, but a few have been the most memorable: “Man is small, and therefore, small is beautiful.” “Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic, the gentle, the nonviolent, the elegant and beautiful.”

“The most striking thing about modern industry is that it requires so much and accomplishes so little. Modern industry seems to be inefficient to a degree that surpasses one’s ordinary powers of imagination. Its inefficiency therefore remains unnoticed.” I could go on forever talking about this which is obviously one of my passions and I have used these principles in my own business endeavors. I see Anastasia watching me in awe as if she’s never met me before when I am talking about things that are my passion: other than steamy hot sex with her making her come a thousand different ways, flying and sailing. She has this awe and reverence in her gaze for me; which incidentally fuels my number one passion: steamy hot sex with Anastasia. There is a steady stream of people who visit our table trying to make my acquaintance. I shake hands and exchange pleasantries with a number of people throughout the evening. There are some that Anastasia should meet, some I feel safe, and some, I wouldn’t dream of introducing my hot girlfriend. When the MC asks for our envelopes, my mother pulls out the winning hundred-Dollar-bill. It’s Sean’s and his award is a silk-wrapped basket. Anastasia is applauding, but her heart is not into it. She’s fidgeting beside me, and that’s all well, because I’ve been trying to suppress getting a hard-on all evening. “If you’ll excuse me,” she murmurs to me, and I look at her intently. “Do you need the powder room?” I ask. She nods. “I’ll show you,” I say darkly. I need release as much as she does. When she stands up to leave with me, the other men at our table also stand up. “No, Christian! You’re not taking Ana! I will,” chimes in my inappropriate sister. Before I can protest, she’s on her feet, grabbing Anastasia’s hand. My jaw tenses. I’m going to combust and come with all these people around me! What the hell is she doing taking my girlfriend? Sometimes my sister is a big frigging annoyance! Anastasia shrugs apologetically at me. I sit down quickly as to not draw attention to my erection, resigned. Later tonight, then. Anastasia returns a little while later, looking a little relieved but still hot and bothered. She glances at me as she takes her seat next to me. I smile at my woman. I squeeze her hand, and we both listen to my father talk about Coping Together. I pass Anastasia a card with the list of auction prizes.

There are quite a few prizes donated by wealthy patrons. There is one from Elena for “One Day Voucher for Two at Esclava, at the Braebur Center.” I’ve donated one weekend stay in my place in Aspen, Colorado. After Anastasia gazes at the list, she blinks up to me. “You own a property in Aspen?” she asks accusatory. Since the auction is underway, she keeps her voice down. I nod at her, but am irritated with her tone. Why is she accusing me for owning a property in Colorado? When had that become a crime? I put a finger to my lips to ask her to be quiet. “Do you have property elsewhere?” she whispers. Damn! She’s not going to let it go. I nod, but give her a warning look. “I’ll tell you later,” I say quietly. “I wanted to come with you,” I add sulkily still full of pent-up sexual tension. With her being angry at the oddest things, doesn’t make it any easier: sometimes I don’t know which way is up with her. She gets mad at things other people wouldn’t even notice. Anastasia is glancing around as if she’s looking for someone. When the bidding comes to my place in Aspen, the bidding reaches to twenty thousand Dollars. “Going once, going twice,” the MC calls, and suddenly Anastasia’s voice rings clear out over the throngs. “Twenty-four thousand Dollars!” I pull a sharp intake of breath with fury rolling over me in waves! What the fuck is she doing paying all the money I’ve given her for her car! Fuck! I can’t spank her! Damn! What do I do? How do I punish her? I want to get her across my knee and spank the shit out of her right now! “Twenty-four thousand Dollars, to the lovely lady in silver, going once, going twice...Sold!” I applaud for everyone’s benefit donning my public smile. But, Anastasia, baby, I’m going to get my due whether you’re willing to pay up, or not! I lean over her with a large fake smile across my face. I kiss her cheek and move close to her ear whispering in a cold and controlled voice, with my all my 50 Shades back: “I don’t know whether to worship at your feet or spank the living shit out of you,” I say to my woman who exasperates me beyond belief, riles me up, mind-fucks me every which way I didn’t know possible, and goes toe to toe with me; all of which are all the things I hate and I love about her!

“I’ll take option two, please,” she whispers frantically. My lips part and I inhale sharply. Fuck Anastasia! Not here! Don’t make me come with your steamy words alone! Not here. Okay, two can play at this game. “Suffering, are you? We’ll have to see what we can do about that,” I murmur as I run my fingers along her jaw, the simplest touch yet I know it goes all the way to her sex, and knowing that she won’t be able to sit still, and already pre-heated, she’ll want to jump my bones, as she’s already looking at me with voracious hunger. Pay-back time, baby! I’ll fuck you later, but now you burn in desire.

CHAPTER VIII

Anastasia is shifting in her seat uncomfortably. (←Undisclosed Desires by Muse) She crosses her legs, but can’t find the comfort zone, then start shaking her legs in a nervous gesture. I touch her leg to still it. “I don’t think that will alleviate your...need, baby,” I say in a whisper. She stops. I drape my arm around her shoulder, and start rhythmically stoking her back. I will be relentless and make this punishment last as long as possible. Right now my touch is resonating in all the right places of her delectable body, and I can feel it from the way her body stands attention to me. With my free hand, I hold hers and bring it to my lips, kissing it, and l observe another shiver go through her body. Her reaction glistens my eyes, then I slowly lower her hand and let it rest on my lap. I guide her hand furtively and easily up on my leg, and finally let her hand rest against my erection. Let the games begin!

When Anastasia’s hand touches my sizeable erection she gasps and nervously turns her eyes on me, and looks around in panic. Everyone’s only paying attention to what’s on stage. But, to my surprise, she turns my game back on me. I hear her slowly ease her breath out and take a few shallow breaths to calm her nerves. She starts slowly caressing my erection, her fingers trying to get around it over my black

pants, feeling every ridge, every pulsating vein. I keep my hand over hers covertly, hiding the ministrations of her fingers. As I enjoy her touch, and immerse myself in this exhibitionist pleasure, my thumb softly glides along the nape of her neck. I feel the pleasure building, and open my mouth to let out a soft gasp to ease, control and prolong the feeling. That’s it! But I can’t hold it longer! My arousal is too much; I have to take her now. I need calm this storm inside me without bursting. (←Everything by Lifehouse) I’m not paying one bit attention to the auction before us, and I think a week at my parents’ house by Lake Adriana in Montana goes for one hundred ten thousand Dollars. While the room is applauding excitedly, I turn to Anastasia and mouth her over the very loud cheering, “Ready?” “Yes,” forms her lips. Out of nowhere, my ever buzz killing sister comes dashing and calls out, “Ana! It’s time!” You’re damn right it’s time! But not for you! “Time for what?” Anastasia asks nearly whining. “The First Dance Auction. Come on!” and she hold her hand out to Anastasia to take her away. Anastasia looks back at me nervously, and I’m openly scowling at Mia, and she has no clue except that she’s ready to auction my girlfriend, and to be auctioned out. My lovely girlfriend who mind-fucked me, donated her twenty-four thousand Dollars, got me hot and bothered, and given me a massive erection finally giggles like a school girl, and gives me an apologetic look, manages to make me smile, just a little. “The first dance will be with me, okay? And it won’t be on the dance floor,” I lean in and murmur lasciviously into her ear. She takes a sharp intake of breath and her giggles subside which turns into a longing desirous look. (←Be My Lover by La Bouche) “I look forward to it,” she says leaning over and giving me a soft chaste kiss on my lips, making everyone around gush and look astonished. What the hell! How many of them thought I was gay? I suppose I have to kiss my girlfriend more often in public, although that is not my thing. I would get too jealous even if people were to get a glimpse of her lost in desire. I give Anastasia a wide smile with full realization that everyone knows she’s my woman! I’m elated. “Come on, Ana,” my sister yanks Anastasia and she is pulled onto the stage where a total of dozen young women are assembling.

“Gentlemen, the highlight of the evening! The moment you have all been waiting for!” booms the MC over the PA system. “These twelve lovely ladies have all agreed to auction their first dance to the highest bidder!” My eyes are on Anastasia like a hawk. She looks terrified. Does she think that I’d let someone else win the bidding? The other guests on adjacent tables are murmuring about how stunning she looks. “Now, gentlemen, pray gather round, and take a good look at what could be yours for the first dance. Twelve comely and compliant wenches,” he says. Men who are going to bid stand up and start making their way to the stage area. I too get up and move between the tables, occasionally responding to someone’s greeting. We’re all gathered: the merchandise and the buyers. “Ladies and gentlemen,” begins the MC. “In the tradition of the masquerade we shall maintain the mystery behind the masks and stick to first names only. First up we have the lovely Jada,” he says. Jada, a socialite daughter steps forward giggling. Two young men step forward to bid on her. “Jada speaks fluent Japanese, is a qualified fighter pilot, and an Olympic gymnast...hmm,” says the MC winking. “Gentlemen, what am I to bid?” Of course he’s flourishing and speaking through his ass, but makes good entertainment and that’s money for the charity. The bidding escalates between the two contenders and she’s finally sold for five thousand Dollars. “Sold! To the gentleman in the mask!” declares the MC. Laughter, cheers, applause and hoots are rising around. My eyes are on Anastasia who is having a heated conversation with my sister in a low voice, on the stage of all places. I wonder what secrets she’s extracting from Mia. It’s extremely important for me to purchase this dance with her; because in a way, I will be showing everyone who she belongs to, what I would do for her, how far my reach can extend where she’s concerned. Next auctioned young lady is Mariah. I don’t know who she is and neither do I care. I’m impatiently waiting for Anastasia’s turn. “Gentlemen, may I present the wonderful Mariah. What are we going to do about Mariah? She’s an experienced matador, plays the cello to concert standard, and she’s a champion pole-vaulter... how about that gentlemen? What am to bid please, for a dance with the delightful Mariah?” Mariah must be an animal rights activist by the looks she’s given the MC after his ‘matador’ bit. She looked like she could spear him.

“Three thousand Dollars!” shouts a man with blond hair, beard and a baritone voice. I slowly breathe in and out. I’m about to combust with her on the stage, and it’s taking all my willpower to not to yank her and take her away to relieve this tension. I’m also wondering what family secrets Mia is imparting with and talking to Anastasia animatedly giving her a shocked expression. I strain to hear their conversation, but the MC is shitting something about the girl named Jill who is now being auctioned over the PA system. Someone pays four thousand Dollars for her first dance, and the girl squeals in delight, and sold! “And now, allow me to introduce the beautiful Ana,” says the MC and I’m pure attention as if I’ve stepped on live wire. I smirk at her, knowing no one can outbid me. Sometimes, it’s good to be me. My sister Mia sort of shoves my bewildered Anastasia onto the stage. “Beautiful Ana plays six musical instruments, speaks fluent Mandarin, and is keen on yoga... well, gentlemen –“ says the MC, and I just want him to shut up about my woman. “Ten thousand Dollars!” I yell my voice resonating. I want this to be over with. “Fifteen,” another male voice counter bids from my right. It better not be another admirer. But I recognize the voice. He’s been dying to meet Anastasia for so long; I thought he would make this attempt. This could be interesting. I can let it run a bit, and give the people the entertainment they’re craving. I turn around, looking at my worthy opponent, and scratch my chin as if I’m contemplating. He has an ironic smile on his lips waiting for my response. He nods at me politely in greeting. “Well, gentlemen! We have high rollers in the house this evening,” says the MC as if he’s had the auctioneer’s orgasm. The guests at the tables start babbling, their interest aroused. “Twenty,” I counter, confidently and quietly, and the loud babbling almost dies immediately as the rapid rise in the amounts. He walks closer to the stage as if he’s going to claim his prize and to challenge me further. But, I know what’s behind his attitude. He wants to see my reaction firsthand. See how far I would go. “Twenty-five,” he says to the MC and the crowd, looking at me for the counter. I stare at him impassively, completely amused. It’s just like one of our sessions.

“One hundred thousand Dollars,” I say in a clear voice that is above everyone else’s and resonating through the marquee. “What the fuck?” I hear Lily’s audible and involuntary protest. 100K is nothing Lily! What I would do, what I would pay to have her to only be mine. She’s only mine. (←Possession by Sarah McLachlan) John Flynn finally holds his hands up in defeat, laughing and finally confirming something he has been hypothesizing all along. I’m sure he’ll discuss it with me during our next session. I grin at him triumphantly. My sister is bouncing up and down like a six year old. “One-hundred thousand Dollars for the lovely Ana! Going once... going twice...” says the MC staring at Dr. Flynn who shakes his head in mock regret and bows chivalrously like the English gentleman he is.

“Sold!” MC cries out, and we get the biggest applause the auction has ever seen. I step forward and take Anastasia’s hand and take her down from the stage. I’m the winner and I aim to claim my prize. I kiss the back of her hand before tucking it into the crook of my arms, and lead her out of the marquee. “Who was that?” asks Anastasia curiously.

“Someone you can meet later,” I say gazing down at her. “Right now, I want to show you something. We have about thirty minutes until the First Dance Auction finishes. Then we have to be back on the dance floor so that I can enjoy that dance I’ve paid for.” “A very expensive dance,” she mutters disapprovingly. But, baby, I wouldn’t let anyone else win that bid no matter what it cost me. “Baby, dancing with you is a vertical expression of a horizontal mission. Do you think, I’d allow someone else to win the bid?” I say. She looks at me shocked. “I’m quite sure it’ll be worth every single cent,” I smile at her wickedly knowing that I’m about to collect the payments in lieu of the bid she’d made. (←Birthday Cake by Rihanna) We go through the lawn, and see the band is setting up to get ready for the dancing soon to be started. I lead her to the rear of my parents’ house, opening the French doors; I lead her into the living room which is now devoid of occupants. We walk through the hall and I lead her to the staircase with polished wooden balustrade. I take her hand from my arm and holding it in mine and lead her to the third floor where my old bedroom used to be. Opening the white door of my old bedroom, I lead her into the room. “This was my room,” I say quietly with some emotions making their way back up at my throat. I’ve never had what people would call a normal teenage period. In fact, nothing I had was ever, normal. I think I’ve skipped that all together, and strangely I have this overwhelming excitement of a teenager who has a girl for the first time in his room, in his parents’ house. I stand by the door and as she looks around curiously I lock the door behind me. Anastasia is taking everything in with the observation of a girl who’s been invited into her boyfriend’s bedroom. My parents kept the room as the day I left it; with the same white walls and furniture. My double bed is still here with the old covers I had. She eyes the shelves with my old books and my kickboxing trophies. Then she turns her gaze to my movie posters from my old favorites, and kick boxers I’ve idolized, one of which was Giuseppe DeNatale. He’s also called Giuseppe “God Father” DeNatale, is an Italian-Canadian World Heavyweight Muay Thai kickboxing champion. When the guy used to step into the ring, they had this ominous, gun-celebrating opening song from the Sopranos, “Woke Up This Morning”, and it would rip thought the PA system, mixing in with the roar of his adoring fans in the crowd. (Woke Up This Morning – Sopranos soundtrack) I also have a poster of Lee Hasdell who is

English. He is a pro at mixed martial arts, and kickboxing. He had 44 wins in kickboxing and 29 of them were by knockouts! In kickboxing, it’s hard to knock someone out when it comes to your pro-athletes who are your equals in talent. Anastasia eyes my pin board above my desk full of pictures, and ticket stubs then her gaze rests back on me; and by this time I’m overwhelmed with emotions of having her here. For all intents and purposes, she’s my first girlfriend, and this is another first for me.

(Guiseppe DeNatale-right)

“I’ve never brought a girl in here,” I murmur. “Never?” she asks in a whisper. I shake my head in answer. “Well, Mr. Grey, your timing is propitious,” she says smiling. “What can I say? Third time is the charm,” I say remembering my sister’s interruptions, giving Anastasia a lascivious grin. Her chest is rising up and down in rapid succession with overwhelming excitement, feeling me take her in, desire her, want her. I saunter over to her slowly, desirously. “We don’t have long, Anastasia, and the way I’m feeling right this moment, we won’t need long. Turn around. Let me get you out of that dress,” I order. She turns towards the door, ready for me to ease her out of the confines of her silver dress. I bend down and whisper in her ear softly, “keep the mask on,” and she groans in response. I love turning her on, and putting her on fire. (←Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon)

My fingers find the top of her dress and skate over her skin, feeling her, connecting with her. I need that jolt of electricity that goes between us every time we touch. My hand slides over to the zipper, and with the impatience of a lover scorned, I unzip it. I hold her dress and help her step out of it, then hang it over the chair by my old desk. I take my own jacket off, and put it on Anastasia’s dress. My girlfriend stands in her five inch Christian Louboutin stilettos, in her bodice and matching panties with her face covered in the silver mask with just her beautiful blue eyes showing. I’m in love with the sight before me. She turns me on, and gets me from zero to sixty in two seconds flat! “You know, Anastasia,” I say to her as I saunter towards her, and untying my bow, “I was so mad when you bought my auction lot. All manner of ideas ran through my head. I had to keep reminding myself that punishment is off the menu. But then you volunteered,” I say gazing down at her trying to decipher what she’s thinking. “Why did you do that?” I ask in a whisper. I don’t want to go there if this is going to mar our relationship. I want to understand her so that I don’t make the same mistake twice. Anastasia agreeing to something doesn’t always end up in pleasant results like I have recently experienced, so I have to understand her motives. She looks at me in sexual frustration. “Volunteer? I don’t know. Maybe frustration... It maybe because of too much alcohol... worthy cause,” she shrugs. I circle around her, my gaze never leaving her. Her head follows my predatory movements. I stop before her as my mouth presses into a thin line, and I slowly lick my upper lip. She takes a shuddering breath involuntarily as desire reaches unbearable limits in her. “I vowed to myself I wouldn’t spank you again, even if you begged me,” I explain. “Please,” she says begging. “But then I realized, you’re probably very uncomfortable at the moment, and it’s not something you’re used to,” I smirk. I know how to rile her up, how to get her hot, how to push the right buttons to make her want what I want, what I desire...willingly. There’s that dark side in everyone, just waiting to be tapped by the right person. I am that person for Anastasia. No matter how she riles me up, gets me from cold to raging mad in seconds, we are perfect for each other! “Yes,” she breathes. “So, there might be a certain...latitude. If I do this, you must promise me one thing,” I say.

“Anything,” she says rapidly. I want her to clearly understand that and safeword if she doesn’t like what I’m doing. “You will safe word if you need to, and I will just make love to you, okay?” I ask. “Yes,” she says already panting. I am apprehensive, and I have to trust her to safeword when she needs to. I have to learn to trust her, and by the same token this is her chance to be communicative. This is our chance. I swallow nervously as if I’m passing a boulder through my esophagus. I pull the duvet off the bed, and sit down on the bed, grabbing a pillow, I place it next to me to use in a minute. I gaze at my woman, and suddenly with all the desire overflowing I pull on her hand, and she falls across my lap. Her body is on the bed, and chest on my pillow and her face to the side. I’ve missed this. I want to savor this moment. I lean over and sweep her hair over her shoulder and caress the plume of feathers on her mask. “Put your hands behind your back,” I murmur. (←Principles of Lust by Enigma) She obeys immediately in anticipation. I pull my bow tie and tie her hands behind her back. But apprehension grows in me again, and uneasiness creeps up. I don’t want today to be the end of our relationship. A measly twenty-four thousand dollar she bid is not worth losing her. Although, that has never been the point. I want her to listen to me, once, for a change. Accept something I do for her without qualms. “You really want this, Anastasia?” I ask. “Yes,” she whispers with longing, and her chest is rising up and down to accommodate her fluttering heart. “Why?” I ask softly as I absently caress her behind. She groans in response, frustrated. “Do I need a reason?” she asks. “No, baby, you don’t,” I say. “I’m just trying to understand you,” I say. So I don’t fuck-up what we have. I don’t want to misread her signals, like I did before. I have already been wanting to do this, and she has given me her consent. I caress her bottom with my palm and I lift it up and land it back on the junction of her thighs, hard. She moans loudly. I lift my hand up again, excitement running through my blood, and land my hand in the same spot. She groans once again.

“Two,” I murmur. “We’ll go with twelve.”

I caress her behind again with my entire hand covering her behind; hit her now rosy butt cheek slightly on the side. I create a circular pattern evenly spreading the spankings instead of landing on one spot. Hitting one spot dulls the pain, and doesn’t spread the sensation. I slowly peel her panties down and finally pull them off. Her behind is now my favorite color as it is sensitized and blood is drawn to the surface to accommodate the sting. I gently trail my palm across her behind smoothly and smack it again. Her groans turn into a sensual one, needy with sexual desire, fueling my arousal and passion for her. I caress her behind with my palm and fingers again, and land the final blow on the lower junction of her thighs. “Twelve,” I murmur in a low and harsh voice. This time I caress her behind, and allow my finger to trail down to her sex and slowly insert two fingers inside her, and move in circles round and round never completing the pleasure, but adding to her want and need. She moans loudly, wanting, desiring, and seeking for release. I take pity on her, and this time let my finger travel fast and in repeating circular, relentless motion and get her to her peak of ecstasy and she comes, convulsing, intensely. “That’s right, baby,” I murmur. I untie her wrists upon her completion, but I won’t remove my fingers from inside her. “I haven’t finished with you yet, Anastasia,” I say. I lower her knees to the floor as she is slump leaning onto the bed. I grab a condom packet from my pants’ pocket, I undo my zipper, and rip the foil, and sheath my length with it. “Open your legs,” I say in a husky voice, and as I stroke her behind, lift her bottom up, laying her torso on the bed, I slide into her.

“This is going to be quick, baby,” I say, because, I am over the top for her, and as I grab her hips, I slam into her. She cries out involuntarily with both pain and pleasure as I continue administering sharp, sweet thrusts into her. She meets me thrust for thrust. She has been suffering all through the auction! I want to prolong the feeling just a little longer, but her actions are just like the catalyst my body needs and making me want to come faster. “Ana, no,” I grunt, trying to still her, but she keeps grinding against me. “Ana, shit!” I hiss as I come groaning and my orgasm makes Anastasia come in strong spasms, milking me inside her. Finally we both collapse tired, and out of breath. I could spend the rest of the evening here with Anastasia wrapped in my arms, and I’m inside her, but, I have paid for a very expensive dance, and I aim to collect it. I kiss her back, and murmur, “I believe you owe me a dance, Miss Steele.” “Hmm,” she murmurs in response. I sit back on my heels and pull Anastasia off the bed and onto my lap. “We don’t have long. Come on,” I say kissing her hair making her get up. She grunts but obeys, collecting her panties off the floor and puts them back on while I clean myself up. Then she walks to the chair to collect her dress while I tie my bow tie. She puts her dress back on by my desk, and her gaze drifts to my pin board. She looks at the pictures that were taken at various locations around the world with my family. Then she notices the tiny passport size picture in the corner of the pin board of the crack whore. Shit! “Who’s this?” she asks curiously. “No one of consequence,” I mutter. Only the very first woman who helped me to get royally fucked-up for life by not protecting me and checking out early. Yes, she’s of no consequence. I’m over her. I put my jacket on, and I want to distract Anastasia away from the crack whore. “Shall I zip you up?” “Please. Then why is she on your pin board?” she asks not letting it go. “An oversight on my part. How’s my tie?” I try another stab at distracting her. And this time it works. “Now it’s perfect.” “Like you,” I murmur grabbing her and kissing her passionately. “Feeling better?”

“Much, thank you, Mr. Grey.” “The pleasure was all mine, Miss Steele,” I respond as I take her hand and we make our way back to the dance floor. We barely make it to the dance floor as the other guests are assembling. I lead Anastasia to the dance floor. “And now, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the first dance. Mr. and Dr. Grey, are you ready?” asks the MC, and my father nods as he wraps his arms around my mother. “Ladies and gentleman of the First Dance Auction; are you ready?” asks the MC to the winners, and we all nod. “Then we shall begin. Take it away, Sam!” A young man saunters to the stage and turns to the band snapping his fingers. The band starts playing “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” (←I’ve got You Under My Skin sung by Katherine McPhee)

This song has a special meaning for us, because I’ve danced to this song when Frank was crooning in my great room. I smile down at my girl, take her in my arms and we start gliding on the dance floor. We grin like fools to each other, young and carefree.

“I love this song,” I murmur gazing down at her. “Seems very fitting,” I say as my face takes a serious expression. Just a short time ago, I thought I lost her, and she’s not just under my skin, but she’s branded in my soul. “You’re under my skin, too,” she replies. “Or you were in your bedroom.” I try to hide my amusement without success. “Miss Steele,” I chide her, “I’ve had no idea you could be so crude.” “Mr. Grey, neither did I. I think it’s all my recent experiences. They’ve been an education,” she replies. “For both of us,” I say remembering that I too have a lot to learn about equal partnership relationships though I still would like to keep the majority share of that partnership. She’s mine after all, and I’m still a control freak. I still have to have control. I tolerate and indulge Anastasia, but that shouldn’t be confused with giving up control. Mine is simply compromise and for Anastasia only. As the song comes to a completion, everyone applauds, and the singer bows graciously. A male voice comes behind me asking, “May I cut in?” I reluctantly agree, but I’m still amused with his interruption. He must be about to explode by now for having heard so much about Anastasia, and wanted to meet her for a long time, and now he has the opportunity. “Be my guest. Anastasia, this is John Flynn. John, Anastasia.” As I make my way to the side of the dance floor smirking, I hear Dr. Flynn in his charming Londoner accent: “How do you do, Anastasia?” and she manages the dumbstruck “Hello,” back to him. The band starts playing “Sway.” (←Sway by Michael Buble) I see Dr. Flynn trying to lead the dance and laugh talking to Anastasia as she has a more serious face. My gaze is on them watching like a hawk. What is Anastasia asking him? Knowing she wouldn’t miss an opportunity like that to dig information. I wonder what sort of information Dr. Flynn will impart about me. I’m sure it wouldn’t be voluntary, but Anastasia has this canny ability to finagle information out of everyone. Fuck! She’s questioning him alright! What can she uncover in three minutes? That could be anything if she can have her way! I find myself tapping my foot nervously, though I try to suppress the uneasy feeling.

I keep checking my watch. Three minutes and nine seconds never felt so long! Finally the singer drawls the last bit of “Sway with me,” I make my way to Anastasia and Dr. Flynn. As I reach to their side, John releases her. “It’s been a pleasure to meet you, Anastasia,” he says, smiling at her warmly. “John,” I nod at him. “Christian,” he returns my gesture and disappears into the crowd. I pull Anastasia into my arms for the next dance. The band's singer is crooning “Save the Last Dance For Me” (←Save the Last Dance for Me by The Drifters). Is this a bad omen? “He’s much younger than I expected,” she comments. “And terribly indiscreet,” she mutters. What? I cock my head to one side trying to find out what he said. “Indiscreet?” I ask. “Oh yes, he told me everything,” she says. My body tenses all of a sudden. If you’re as fucked-up as I am, there’s a lot to divulge. “Well, in that case, I’ll get your bag. I’m sure you want nothing more to do with me,” I say resigning. She stops in the middle of the dance floor, unmoving. “He didn’t tell me anything!” she says panicking. “I was just teasing you!” I blink in relief, exhaling. Then I pull her into my arms for a close embrace, my heart thumping nearly as loud as the drums in the orchestra. “Then let’s enjoy this dance,” I grin at her, and take her spinning, and finally take her for a low dip as we dance to “Fly me To the Moon.” (←by Frank Sinatra) Once the dance is over, we all stop and applaud each other. The next song that comes on is “Cheek to Cheek.” I turn to Anastasia and grin as I hold my hand out to her: “Shall we, Ginger?” “Why of course Fred!” she says, as she comes twirling into my arms making us both laugh. (←Cheek to Cheek sung by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong) Once the song is over, Anastasia turns to me and says, “I need to use the restroom, Christian.” “What for?” I ask smirking, and she gives me her narrowed scolding gaze. “I need to pee,” she whispers, blushing. Oh, that kind of need.

“I won’t be long,” she says finally giving me one of her smiles. I watch her leave the dance floor and make her way in the direction of the bathrooms. As I watch her go out of sight, I notice Taylor and Sawyer tail behind her discreetly. About four minutes after she’s taken off, I feel my phone buzzing against my leg. I take it out and check the caller; it’s Taylor. “Problem?” I answer. “It could be, sir. Mrs. Lincoln just cornered Miss Steele at the dinner table you were both sitting when Miss Steele came to retrieve her purse.” “Fuck!” comes out of my mouth. Loud music and people’s chatter drowns my epitaph; the other guests don’t pay attention to me. “What do you want us to do sir?” “Wait there! I’m on my way. I don’t want a scene. Just wait!” I say as I hastily make my way to the dining area short of running. I run into someone who thrusts his hand saying, “Oh, Mr. Grey! My name is...” but he doesn’t get to finish his sentence. “Yes, later,” I say annoyed, and move on. When I finally reach the entrance of the tent, Taylor is standing there along with Sawyer, their eyes fixed on Elena and Anastasia, and I am completely agitated and worried of the result of this encounter. “There you are,” I mutter to Anastasia as she’s making her way out of the tent, anger seeping through her pores. Then my gaze moves onto Elena, making me frown. Anastasia just strides past me; her mouth is shut in a tight line for a change; she says nothing. “Ana,” I call after her. She stops and I double my steps to catch up to her. “What’s wrong?” I ask gazing down at her with worry and concern. “Why don’t you ask your ex?” she hisses angrily. Not here baby! Not now! I take a deep breath, and the frost sheaths my eyes as if a protective barrier is erected, and my mouth takes an angry twist. “I’m asking you,” I say, softly, in a very controlled voice. She glares at me, but I stand my ground.

“She’s threatening to come after me if I hurt you again – probably with a whip,” she snaps at me. Thank God! It’s not as bad as I thought. “Surely the irony of that isn’t lost on you,” I say my lips twitching with slight amusement. “This isn’t funny, Christian!” she barks. “No, you’re right. I’ll talk to her,” I say seriously, still amused, and trying to suppress a smile. “You will do no such thing,” she says angrily, folding her arms as if to close herself off, a defensive reaction. I blink at her confused. Why is she so mad? It wasn’t that bad. Elena just expressed herself the only way Elena can. “Look, I know you’re tied up with her financially, forgive the pun, but –“ she says, cutting herself off. Shakes her head, as if she’s speaking to a child who will not understand what she’s trying to convey. “I need the restroom.” She just glares at me, her lips in a taut line. I sigh, cocking my head to one side. I don’t want her to be angry. I wanted us to have a good time tonight, and we did, until Elena pulled her shit on Ana. “Please don’t be mad. I didn’t know she was here. She said she wasn’t coming,” I say as if trying to calm and soothe a wild animal. I take a step towards her with my gaze on her, gently lifting my fingers up to her lips; I run my thumb along her pouting bottom lip. “Don’t let Elena ruin our evening, please, Anastasia. She’s really old news,” I say trying to soothe her. I pull her closer to me, closing my eyes, I graze her lips gently with mine making her sigh. When we break our kiss, I take her elbow.

“I’ll accompany you the powder room so you don’t get interrupted again,” I say leading her to the luxurious temporary restrooms.

“I’ll wait here for you, baby,” I murmur. I watch her enter into one of the portable bathrooms. As soon as she locks her door, I get my Blackberry out and dial Elena’s number. “Christian?” she answers apprehensively. “What the fuck were you trying to pull here?” I hiss into the phone menacingly. “What do you mean Christian?” “Cut the crap Elena. You told me you weren’t coming to this event. Why did you change your mind? I thought we agreed.” “Christian, you were so upset last Saturday, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I was worried sick about you, that you might do something to hurt yourself. And when you brought her over to the salon, I knew you were back with her. I wanted to make sure that she didn’t get to hurt you again.” “That’s not your job or your place Elena!” “I can’t, Christian. She was hurting you!” “She wasn’t! She was protecting herself!” “Her actions hurt you! I couldn’t let her repeat that again.” “Well, leave her the fuck alone!” “I was only thinking of your well-being, Christian. It hurts me to know that someone out there has the potential to damage you beyond repair.” “Listen to me Elena! This is the first regular relationship I’ve ever had in my life, and I don’t want you jeopardizing it through some misplaced concern for me. Leave. Her. Alone. I mean it, Elena.” “I’m sorry Christian! I really am! I didn’t know you had such strong feelings about her. I’m so sorry for interfering. Had I known I... I just don’t want this incident to destroy our friendship. Will it?” she asks pleading. “No, of course not,” I say frowning, and when I glance up, I see Anastasia is regarding me. “I have to go. Goodnight,” I say and disconnect the call.

She knows I was talking to Elena. She cocks her head to one side and asks, “How’s the old news?” “Cranky,” I answer cynical. “Do you want to dance some more? Or would you like to go?” I ask checking the time. “If you wish to stay, the fireworks will start in about five minutes,” I tell her. “Really? I love fireworks,” she replies excitedly. “We’ll stay and watch them, then,” I say as I put my arm around her possessively and pull her close to my body. “Don’t let her come between us, please,” I plead with her. “She cares about you,” mutters Anastasia. “Yes, and I her...but only as a friend.” “I think it’s more than a friendship to her,” Ana assesses. I kind of know what she’s saying, and when you have had a relationship like we had, there are certain bonds, certain things that are forged whether good or bad. But it is what it is. I can’t change that. “Anastasia, Elena and I...it really is complicated. We have a shared history. But it’s just that... a history. As I’ve said to you time and time again, she’s a good friend. That’s all. Please forget about her,” I beg kissing her hair. When we finally make it back to the dance floor, my father calls out to Ana. “Anastasia, I wondered if you’d do me the honor of the next dance,” he asks holding his hand out to her. Anastasia accepts the proffered hand. When “Come Fly With Me,” starts playing, my father and Anastasia start dancing. (←Come Fly With Me sung by Michael Buble) I wait on the sideline and start watching my girl swing around the dance floor with my father. She really is breathtaking especially in that mask. I watch her and my father dance, chatter and smile in delight making my heart melt. When the song comes to a conclusion, my father releases Anastasia, bows before her as she attempts at a curtsy. “That’s enough dancing with old men,” I say teasing to Anastasia. My father laughs.

“Less of the ‘old,’ son. I’ve been known to have my moments,” he says winking, and goes back to the crowd. I turn to Anastasia in awe and say, “I think my dad likes you,” as my gaze follows my father into the crowd. “What’s not to like?” peek Anastasia through her mask batting her eyelashes coquettishly up at me.

“Good point well made, Miss Steele,” I say and pull her into my arms again, making us flush against each other’s bodies. The band starts playing “It Had to Be You.” in a slow tone. (←It Had to be You sung by Frank Sinatra) “Dance with me,” I whisper in a seductive tone. Dancing is almost like sex; it’s movements, flowing and ebbing motions, dipping, bodies tangling in synchronization, rhythm, and of course my favorite part – I get to take the lead. “With pleasure, Mr. Grey,” she responds smiling. Once again, I sweep her through the dance floor. When it’s midnight, I take Anastasia’s hand and we stroll down toward the shore to watch the fireworks by the boathouse. The MC now permits the guest to remove their masks, so they can see the display of fireworks better. Taylor and Sawyer are now close by because the fireworks are ready to go off, and now they can see each individual’s face. Their faces are vigilant, scanning, searching for any sign of trouble. I feel a shiver go through Anastasia’s body. I gaze down at her asking: “You okay, baby? Are you cold?” “I’m fine,” she quickly mutters. Her gaze scan around, and she notices Reynolds and Ryan behind us close by. She’s worried. I want her to forget that we have security around. They’re capable men, she needs to enjoy herself and not worry about anything. I move her in front of me away from the direct sight of our security detail. The pyro technicians are all dressed in black and almost ready to start the fireworks. When the classical music starts and resonates over the dock to accompany the fireworks, we see two rockets soar into the sky and explode over the bay sparkling orange and white and shaping into a palm tree glittering, and shimmering over the dark waters. Anastasia is awed after several more rockets are launches into the air and they too present an amazing display of colors and shapes, bursting stars, flower shapes, and magnificent display of bright colors. The rockets shoot and blast in time with

the tune in the music making the display even more spectacular. I hear Anastasia take in her breath in amazement. (←Con Te Partiro by A. Bocelli & Sarah Brightman @ Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas) The fireworks display astonishes Anastasia so much that she is now donning a face splitting grin and looking up at me in pure joy. Once the finale arrives, a volley of six rockets shoot atop the dark waters of the lake and explodes simultaneously in glorious light display. “Ladies and gentlemen,” the MC calls out as cheers subside. “Just one note to add at the end of this wonderful evening; your generosity has raised a total of one million, eight hundred and fifty three thousand Dollars!” Cheers and applause erupt again from the crowd, and a sign displaying Thank You From Coping Together displays in sparkling letters over the water. “Oh, Christian...that was wonderful,” Anastasia grins broadly at me and I can’t help but bend down to kiss her. “Time to go,” I murmur as I don a broad smile on my face, with desire showing that I want to play with her before the night is over. She looks tired, so I better get her home if I have any hope of enjoying her tonight. I glance up at Taylor who is sticking close to us as the crowd around us is dispersing. There is apprehension in his eyes; he wants us to remain until the crowd is cleared. Taylor and I have developed this ability to communicate just with looks. Taylor is a veteran of wars and he had gone through some nasty shit; night raids, bombings, and he doesn’t see the fireworks the same way as we do. It’s disturbing to him. We all carry a certain baggage, and that’s part of his. “Stay with me a moment. Taylor wants us to wait while the crowd disperses,” I say. Anastasia looks surprised. “I think that fireworks display probably aged him a hundred years,” I add. “Doesn’t he like fireworks?” I look down at her shaking my head, but I don’t explain - it’s not my place to divulge on Taylor’s personal torment and secrets; not even to Anastasia. Many soldiers who had been to wars, deal with similar sort of shit most of their lives. “So, Aspen,” I say trying to distract her from the topic at hand. “Oh...” she remembers. “I haven’t paid for my bid,” she says gasping. “You can send a check. I have the address.

“You were really mad,” she notes correctly. “Yes, I was,” I answer truthfully. She smiles broadly in response. “I blame you and your toys.” “You were quite overcome, Miss Steele. A most satisfactory outcome if I recall,” I respond smiling lasciviously. “Incidentally, where are they?” “The silver balls? In my bag.” “I’d like them back,” I say looking down at her smiling. “They are far too potent a device to be left in your innocent hands.” “Worried I might be quite overcome again, maybe with somebody else?” she asks. Don’t fucking tease me with this shit Anastasia! Somebody else better lay no hand on what is mine! A dangerous gleam clouds my eyes. “I hope that’s not going to happen,” I say, my voice ice shards. “But no, Ana. I want all your pleasure.” Call me control freak, but when it comes to my woman, and how she’s pleasured, it has to be me doing the pleasuring, not even herself. “Don’t you trust me?” “Implicitly. Now, can I have them back?” I ask holding my hand out. “I’ll think about it.”

I narrow my eyes on her, but don’t act upon it. The music starts back up again as the DJ starts playing some thumping music with a nice beat for the younger generation. (←Pump It by Black Eyed Peas) “Do you want to dance?” I ask Anastasia. “I’m really tired, Christian. I’d like to go, if that’s okay,” she says her eyes drooping. I glance at Taylor who nods; he feels it’s safe enough to depart, and we make our way towards the house. I have Anastasia’s hand in mine. My sister Mia comes running. “You’re not going, are you? The real music’s just beginning. Come on, Ana,” she says grabbing her hand tugging towards the dance floor.

“Mia,” I cut her authoritatively. “Anastasia’s tired. We’re going home. Besides, we have a big day tomorrow.” Anastasia looks at me surprised, questioning. My sister pouts in disappointment, but she knows my tone of finality. “You must come by sometime next week. Maybe we can hit the mall?” she asks Anastasia. “Sure, Mia,” she says smiling sweetly. My sister kisses Anastasia quickly, and hugs me like there’s no tomorrow. Mia’s hands are lingering on top of the lapels of my tux, and I gaze down and look at my sister lovingly. Her touch doesn’t bother me, because she’s the first person that made me happy in this house. I held her as a baby, and when she placed her baby hands on me to seek comfort, and love, we were connected, and her touch never bothered me, ever. She’s the only person I feel that way. “I like seeing you this happy,” she says to me in a sweet voice, and kisses me on the cheek. “Bye. You guys have fun,” she chimes, and skips like a six year old to her friends, one of which is Lily who is gazing at us icily, shooting daggers with her look. “We’ll say goodnight to my parents before we leave. Come,” I say leading Anastasia to the house who are among the throngs of the guests in the house. “Please do come again, Anastasia, it’s been lovely having you here,” says my mother. They both give hugs to her and kiss her on the cheeks. Anastasia looks overwhelmed, and amazed by their reaction. We finally make our way to outside waiting for our car. Anastasia glances up at me as we’re waiting. I don’t remember being this happy in a very long time. In fact, if I were to count my happiest moments, they would all include Anastasia. “Are you warm enough?” I ask her. “Yes, thank you,” she responds clasping her wrap. “I really enjoyed this evening, Anastasia. Thank you.” I say. It wasn’t because of the charity event which in itself wouldn’t be fun for me, but it was because she was here, and she made it beyond memorable for me. “Me too, some parts more than others,” she says grinning. This is what I’m talking about. I never know what she’ll say or do and how she’ll spike up my interest, desire, and love for her. If I didn’t have exceptional control, I’d be walking around with an erection at all times with her. I grin and nod at her,

but noticing her lower lip in the captivity of her teeth again, my brow creases. “Don’t bit your lip,” I warn her darkly. She knows what that does to me. “What did you mean about a big day tomorrow?” she asks changing the topic. “Dr. Greene is coming to sort you out. Plus, I have a surprise for you.” “Dr. Greene!” she stops, anxious. Is she worried? “Yes.” “Why?” “Because I hate condoms,” I say quietly. I gauge her reaction. Her body is mine as much as it is hers. I ought to have a say how we sort this problem. Of course by the same token, my body belongs to her as much as it belongs to me. It was in Song of Solomon which is now becoming my personal favorite line that said “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” (←Touch Me by Candace Charee) “It’s my body,” she mutters. “It’s mine too,” I whisper proprietary. She gazes up at me, close to me, turning, trying to merge. She is mine! Mine alone! She is more mine than she is her own! She reaches up, and I flinch slightly, but I manage remain still. With Anastasia, I don’t know what she will do. But reminding myself that my body is hers as well, I still myself. She grasps the corner of my bow tie, pulling it, she unravels it. Her hands slowly reach to the top button that is now displayed and gently unbuttons it. “You look hot like this,” she whispers. Damn woman! She knows how to get me hot, and how to take over me. I smirk at her, barely being able to contain myself. I don’t know if I can make it home without taking her. “I need to get you home. Come,” I say. As our car pulls up, Sawyer comes up and hands me an envelope. “Sir, one of the staff from the serving crew handed this to me. It’s addressed to Miss Steele. But the guy who gave it to me doesn’t know who it gave it to him.” I frown and look at it. It has Anastasia’s name written on it. Taylor opens the door and lets Anastasia in. Another admirer from the party? I climb in,

and hand her the envelope unopened. Taylor and Sawyer take their seats. Anastasia looks at me confused. “It’s addressed to you. One of the staff gave it to Sawyer. No doubt from yet another ensnared heart,” I say with distaste. I don’t like this at all. I don’t like people eyeing what belongs to me, to have for their own. Anastasia stares at the unopened note. She rips it open, and reads it in the dim light inside the car. Her face drains of blood, and anger rushes her face. She turns to me angry. “You told her?” she asks incredulous. “Told who, what?” I ask confused. “That I call her Mrs. Robinson,” she snaps at me. “It’s from Elena?” I ask shocked. “This is ridiculous,” I grumble exasperated. What the hell is she trying to do here? I’m angry, irritated, and fucking ready to snap someone’s neck. “I’ll deal with her tomorrow. Or Monday,” I mutter my words dripping with poison. Anastasia says nothing else, and stashes the note into her purse, then takes out the silver balls and hands them to me. “Until next time,” she murmurs. Despite what just happened, her acquiescence that I would take care of the problem with Elena, and giving me her peace offering in the form of the silver balls, makes me smirk and like her even more. As the SUV speeds through the city, Anastasia is gazing out the window looking in to the darkness of the city. Pretty soon her head droops to the window and she’s asleep. I pull her head onto my lap not willing to let her head bump into the window all through Seattle. She looks so peaceful. I rub her hair until we get to Escala. Once Taylor pulls into the underground parking garage, and pulls as close to the elevators as possible, I wake Anastasia up. She looks so tired. “Do I need to carry you in?” I ask gently. She shakes her head in the negative. Sawyer jumps out of the car to let me out, and I walk to let Anastasia out. As the three of us make our way into the elevator, Taylor pulls away to park at one of our bays. As the elevator’s door dings open, we head in. Anastasia leans against me, tired; she puts her head against my shoulder. Sawyer is standing in front of us, and being new, he shifts uncomfortably. If it was Taylor, he would perfectly pretend no one was here, and assumed a completely impassive demeanor. “It’s been a long day, eh, Anastasia?” I ask. She nods in response too tired to form words.

“You’re not very talkative,” I say to which she responds with a nod again making me grin. “Come. I’ll put you to bed,” I say and take her hand as we exit the elevator, but Sawyer holds his hand up stopping us in the foyer. Trouble! He talks to his radio attached to his sleeve. “Will do, T,” he says, and turns to face us, but addresses me. “Mr. Grey, the tires on Ms. Steele’s Audi have been slashed and paint thrown all over it,” he says calmly. Fuck! Anger rises in me. Leila! Suspecting she might target Anastasia and knowing that she’s targeting her makes me beyond angry. This is now personal. Blood drains from my face. “Taylor is concerned that the perp may have entered the apartment and may still be there. He wants to make sure,” Sawyer simply states. “I see,” I speak in a whisper hardly recognizing my own voice. “What’s Taylor’s plan?” “He’s coming up in the service elevator with Ryan and Reynolds. They’ll do a sweep then give us the all clear. I’m to wait with you, sir.” “Thank you, Sawyer,” I say as I tighten my arm around Anastasia protectively. “This day just gets better and better,” I sigh bitterly, as I nuzzle Anastasia’s hair. All my fucking exes are out to destroy my relationship, not to mention the object of my affection. Fuck this! I’m getting angrier by the second. Why am I waiting here as if I’m hiding from Leila who used to be my sub, for God’s sake? I’ve nothing to fear from any of the women who had been in my life one time or another. As the anger rises in me, I have steel determination to go and find Leila if she’s still in my apartment. “Listen, I can’t stand here and wait. Sawyer, take care of Miss Steele. Don’t let her in until you have the all clear. I’m sure Taylor is overreacting. She can’t get into the apartment,” I say and turn to get into my God damned house! “No, Christian – you have to stay with me,” Anastasia begs. I release her. “Do as you are told, Anastasia. Wait here,” I order. She’s moving forward to come along being the disobedient, in her I-do-whatever-I-damn-well-please self.

“No!” I say firmly to her stopping her in her tracks. “Sawyer?” I turn to him giving him my, you-betternot-allow-her-in-if-you-want-to-keep-your-job look, making sure he won’t allow her in. I enter into the apartment, and shut the door behind me. (←Danger Zone from Top Gun) The soft lights are on in the apartment. I turn the lights on full blast chasing away all the shadows from the corners. The first place I walk into is the great room. My gaze sweeps around, and I see no one. Taylor, Ryan and Reynolds all walk in rushing with their weapons drawn, their backs to each other. Taylor’s gaze sweeps me up and down to assess if I have any injury. Geez! He’s overcautious and overprotective sometimes. When he sees me angry, but otherwise well, he makes a hand gesture dispersing his two cohorts to search various parts of the apartment. “Mr. Grey,” he says in a reprimanding voice. “You have to come with me, sir,” he says knowing I won’t be persuaded to be left in the sidelines. “Let’s check my bedroom, and the Playroom, Taylor” I say in a serious tone. Taylor is still pure attention, eyes darting in every corner as if an unseen assailant will jump from any corner, his gun still drawn. He talks into his radio on his sleeve in a low voice, barking orders. “Taylor, you don’t have to have your gun drawn in here! It’s just a disturbed woman,” I say looking at his cocked and ready to shoot Walther P99 9 mm with a spotlight.

“Sir, she has a gun permit, and I have to assume that she has purchased a weapon already. The fact that she has come and defaced Miss Steele’s vehicle so openly, so viciously shows that she’s unstable, and unafraid, and undeterred. My job is to protect you and Miss Steele over there,” he says pointing in the direction of the foyer. “Please, let me do my job!” I nod, knowing he’s right.

We first walk into my room. Taylor checks every crevice in the room, behind the curtains, makes sure the door to the balcony is locked, in the bathroom, even looks around the ceiling as if she’d be hanging in a corner like a spider or a bat. Next we go to the Playroom. I have the door locked at all time, but with Leila, who has proven how crafty she is, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a key made for herself and kept it all these years. I haven’t changed the locks of the playroom since she was here last. Taylor goes in and sweeps around every corner. I linger to look at some other location in the room, and Taylor motions with his hand to come where he is without turning his head. “Mr. Grey. Please stay close to me. I need to be able to protect you, and the closer you are, the easier my job,” he says patiently. “Taylor! No one’s here! The room’s empty!” I say. “Mr. Grey. Let me determine that myself. We won’t know whether she’s in this room or not until I sweep every corner, every crevice, behind every accessory here and it hasn’t been done yet. I will give you an all-clear when this is done. But, you must remain close to me here, or remain with Miss Steele in the foyer. I can’t pay attention to what I must do if I worry about your safety, sir. You appointed me as the head of your security. Please trust my judgment...” he says, and tags an exasperated, “sir,” at the end. He hears his name from the earpiece, and gives a barely contained vexed answer, “What?” His eyes darts at me, and then back to his sleeve. “Sawyer!” he barks, and my attention level rises knowing Anastasia is with him. As my eyes pierce Taylor, my mouth a grim line, I almost turn to go to Anastasia. Taylor holds a finger to indicate one minute. “Miss Steele is not to leave the foyer until I give you all clear,” barely containing himself. Then he turns to me and say, “Miss Steele is insisting of coming out and looking for you, sir,” he says. Exasperation rises in me. “She remains in the foyer with Sawyer until you and your team gives an allclear,” I order. “You heard it, Sawyer! That’s an order!” says Taylor into the radio on his sleeve. I nod with approval. I know that Taylor can get more wired up about our security possibly with all the shit he had to deal with as a member of Black Ops, the rest of us would never get to experience; but at this moment I also realized his genuine concern and his seriousness about his job in protecting me and Anastasia. With this realization, I let him have the reins until he gives us an ‘all-clear’, trusting his judgment.

Once we checked every corner of the Playroom together, Taylor finally says, “all-clear”. We move on to checking the library, and one other room in the same floor. Not more than fifteen minutes later, Ryan and Reynolds converge with us in the great room, and a general ‘all-clear’ is declared by Taylor. I give a sigh of relief, but tension doesn’t leave Taylor’s eyes, still vigilant as if he’s in the enemy territory. Knowing Taylor, he won’t be sleeping tonight. I leave my security detail standing and comparing notes in the great room and make my way into the foyer to get my girl and take her into my arms. I reach out to the doorknob and turn it to open. Sawyer spins like a top, and draws a gun from his shoulder holster directing at my face. Anastasia gasps with fear, her face fallen and utterly scared with Sawyer’s reaction.

MASTER IS DARK

It is Saturday, but I have so much work to get through. Leila is fixing our lunch. I have to go over some winding cell phone schematics. I want to make the communication technology available to places where power is not readily available. But, there is a glitch, and it’s driving me crazy. I like things to be done in a timely manner. When I want them, not when my engineering team get its act together! Someone’s getting fired over this! This is incompetence! I take my Blackberry out and call the head of the engineering team. He answers on the first ring: “Yes, Mr. Grey. How can I help you?” “Warren! This is such incompetence! I wanted this cell phone design to be completely free of the need of charging. You have not eliminated that!”

“Mr. Grey, the phones still have to be charged by electricity at least once a week. We just couldn’t eliminate that, sir,” he mutters in a weak voice. “Here’s my problem: I hired your team to ELIMINATE the dependency to the power grid. It should have the capability; yes. But not the need and dependency! I told you the issues with it. We want this to be available in places where there is no immediate power source. It should be able to go for weeks without charging. That way it can be available to people in remote corners of the globe, or to hikers, travelers, soldiers alike. How do you expect them to charge the phone if we require them to plug it into a power source? Should they just plug it into their asses?” I can almost feel him flinch on the phone. “Of course not, sir,” he can barely utter. “They would still need some sort of power source, though.” “Warren, I hired you and your team to resolve that very issue. Charging your phone for five years adds 3.6 kilos of CO2 into the atmosphere.” “But sir, that’s less than half of what a single gallon of gasoline produces in your car,” he comes back smugly. “Listen to me idiot! There aren’t two point five billions cars in North America! But there are 2.5 billion handheld device chargers in America alone and that will draw enough electricity to generate 8 billion kilograms of carbon emissions! Do you now get me, sweetheart? And you are supposed to be the clean energy engineer,” I say seething with anger. “I understand, sir,” he says reprimanded. “I want to know when you and your team can resolve the problem. I’m not asking you ‘if you can, but when you can.’ I cannot have incompetence from an engineering team that works for me!” “We may not be able to make it completely independent of some sort of power source, sir,” he says in a meek voice. “I want the charging time limited to one hour, once a month. The rest must be dependent on the selfwinding. This is your goal. Work towards it! I want periodic improved schematics and working samples once a week! Do it! If I don’t find improved models within 4 weeks, your team is fired! Get in touch with your fucking team, and get them up to par, and I want to see them on Tuesday. This is not a request. You guys better be ready!”

“Yes, sir,” he says worried, and I hang up. Anger is seething through my pores. I run both my hands through my hair in exasperation. They’ve had six months and this is the best they come up with! I want to distribute that technology. And, I pay this team a hefty salary, lots of money for their research and they give me a half ass job! As I glare at the schematics again, there is a knock at my door. “What?” I growl. Leila enters her gaze down. She looks lovely in her satin nightgown. “Speak,” I say. “Lunch is ready Master,” she says in a small voice. “Come here, Leila,” I say. I need to relieve this tension and get rid of this anger. She approaches my desk slowly, her head is still down. “You may look at me Leila,” I say softly. She does. Her brown eyes are alight with some excitement. “We’ll eat lunch later,” I say pulling her. On her days here at Escala, she’s not to wear underwear unless I instruct her so. So, right now I know she has nothing under her satin night gown. Leila’s long lashes flutter as she lifts her brown eyes up to me, and I can feel her heart speedily beating away when she meets my gaze, nervous. She’s expecting a punishment today for her repugnant behavior last night. My expression is dark, but impassive. She moistens her lips with her tongue instinctively, and I grab her face between my hands and my lips descend upon hers capturing them effectively with mine. As I mold my lips to hers, my tongue darts into hers seeking release. Her response is automatic, but her hands remain on her side as she’s instructed never to touch me without my permission. Only her lips and her tongue work their magic. She closes her eyes as her lips mold into mine, and for a brief moment she loses herself and her hands come up to my chest stealthily caressing, and curling into my chest hair and digging in. I immediately pull back and push her away as if I was doused and set on fire. Bile rises in my throat. My hands go to my chest automatically as if to put out that fire. I shudder with disgust. Leila looks surprised at my reaction. “I’m sorry Master, I forgot,” she says. “Quiet!” I bark.

She’s reprimanded but will require punishment for breaching my hard limit. She did not forget. She’s been with me for eight months! I go over the rules on our first meeting. She’s not a new sub either! She knows dos and don’ts, my hard and soft limits very well! I walk around her, her head bowed, her hands to the side. I approach her, and with my index finger, I lift her head up, and force her to look into my eyes. My eyes are blazing with anger. She stiffens under hard my gaze, and as if she’s leaving her body, her gaze turns serene, and accepting of what’s to come. I push her on top of my desk between the cell phone schematics, and business plans, and lay my hand flat across her lower back pressing her down onto the desk as my legs spread her thighs apart. Her waxed sex is opening up like a flower and exposing the tight hole. I bluntly insert my index and middle finger, pressing into her sex, and run them along the pleats with my expert touch. The lips of her sex are already swelled in response, and she involuntarily thrusts her hips up, and I take my hand away as she meet the empty air. “You’re already wet,” I say. It’s not a question, it’s a statement, but she answers it. “Yes, Master, for you.” “You’re not allowed to speak, Leila!” I bellow. Leila has been trying to attempt to breach my rules lately. She’s making subtle hints of her desire to get more from our arrangement. I don’t do ‘more’ than fucking. That’s our arrangement. I’m barely 25 years old, I have singular interests and goals! My business and my freedom are my priorities. Not my subs! I love my autonomy. I have no intention or the interest of involving with emotions attached with relationships. I’m not hearts and flowers. Love is for suckers! Same end goal can be achieved without the emotional connection. Dom / Sub relationship allows you to bypass all the vulnerabilities love gives to the recipient. I provide for Leila very well, and my rules are clearly defined, and never to be breached. I’m always in control. She, however has been trying push her limits discreetly. Leila who has been a great sub in the beginning now pushing her way into punishment at least once a week! Little bit each time, like she just did. I lean into her ear and say, “You are not to achieve satisfaction, and you certainly aren’t allowed to come without my explicit permission Leila, until further notice. Do you understand your punishment?” She is silent, docile, and expressionless. I slap her bare behind hard as she gives a slight shriek. “Quiet! Do you understand your punishment, I asked. Answer me!” “Yes, Master, I do,” she breathes.

“Good.” “I’m going to tie you up, and fuck you on my desk, hard and you are not to come! Understand?” “Yes, Master,” she breathes her eyes widened. I take the my belt off, wrap it around her wrists, I put her on my desk on her back, stretched all the way, and pull the remainder of the belt through the ornament of the heavy desk. She’s stretched and taut, but her legs still touch the ground. Leila’s elongated body looks delicious and the curve of her hips are exposed. I push my growing manhood farther up at her sex though I am still fully in my jeans as my hands squeeze the globes of her buttocks. She tries to yank her hands, but I shake my finger at her. It will only restrain her against the belt and that will just worsen the pain. I unzip my jeans and lower my pants down. I slide my length farther into her, stretching her, and stuffing her fully and her entire body reacts to the pressure. Leila’s sex clenches around my manhood involuntarily, and the head of my shaft swims with sensory overload and her arousal flickers into life. “Don’t come!” I say through gritted teeth, boring into her eyes as I pump into her. The friction caused by each stroke heightens the pleasure she’s experiencing, and I see her clenching her teeth to prevent herself from coming, she’s pulling on her hands to cause herself pain to counterbalance the pleasure. Her legs clenches around me, she’s groaning as I’m digging into her, holding her hips. Leila’s sex is juicy, and each of my thrusts causes her ass to bounce from the impact. Finally a husky moan breaks through her, as I pump into her and my testicles repeatedly slap against her. She pulls against her arms like a masochist; as I know Leila enjoys pain a lot. She draws in and pulls against me with her legs. “Damn it Leila! Stop!” “Trying...Master,” she says between her pain and pleasure filled breaths. My strokes increases rapidly, and I feel that Leila’s body sink into a myriad of sensations and she comes as I empty into her. She looks chagrined. I curse. “Fuck! Fuck! I told you not to come!” Leila closes her eyes, and she bites her teeth into her lower lip hard drawing blood to stop the remaining shudders of sensation from spreading to her body. I go to the head of the table and unbuckle the belt from her arms.

“It’ll be a late lunch today. I want you to go to the playroom, and wait for me,” I say and she knows the meaning. “Yes, Master,” she replies. Fixing her satin nightgown, she scuttles out of my study.

Being a seasoned submissive, Leila knows that denial of orgasm is a standard form of punishment. She knows how to control her impulses, but lately, she’s trying to force me to make a decision to make her my girlfriend. I don’t do the girlfriend thing. I never have, never will. I like my autonomy, I like my control, and I like my life remain this way: Me, as the master of my own destiny. I close my eyes, slow my breathing down. I haven’t forgotten the fact that Leila tried to sneak into my bed last night. I was having just another nightmare, and it didn’t make me feel any better when her arms started snaking around my waist in the middle of the night, making me freak out. I rolled out of her grasp so fast, I fell to the floor. She hasn’t been punished for that yet, and this is two strikes against her within less than twenty-four hours. I might not renew our agreement at the end of the our term. She’s becoming relentless despite the punishments. The fact that Leila enjoys pain isn’t helping improve her behavior – like a drug addict looking for her next fix. That’s why I didn’t punish her last night despite her transgression. Most people, even subs for that matter would go a long way to avoid pain, to avoid punishment. That’s why societies function better, because people are afraid of consequences. I take a deep breath. I have decided on the form of punishment. I go my room and my closet, change into my worn out jeans, commando. I make my way to my playroom. When I cross the threshold into the room I transform into the total dominant that I am. Leila is naked sitting on her heels, her hands splayed on her laps. Her head is down, her breathing shallow, completely docile, and expressionless. I go to the drawers where I keep some of the toys; choose the cuffs. Lay them on the sofa. Then I casually walk back to Leila and stand before her. “You may look up at me, Leila,” I say. Her serene gaze looks up, expectant. “Do you know why you’re going to be punished?” “Yes, Master,” she responds. “Why then? Tell me.” “I disobeyed your rules.”

“You are being punished because; you didn’t just disobey my rules. You have continually disobeyed simple mandates: You have been a sub for years. You know the drill. If you can’t even control yourself, I will have to take further measures to control you. On top of that, you have come to my bed unbidden. That’s my hard limit, and that’s a major transgression,” I say. Leila turned her head away chagrined with my censure of her. “You are not given permission to look away, Leila,” I say and she brings her gaze back to my eyes. “You will be punished of course,” I say as she swallows, with a slight glint of expectation in her eyes. I don’t want to feed her need for arousal; this is not a reward – it’s a punishment. “Come,” I say, leading her to the red leather covered four poster bed. I lower one of the suspenders from the ceiling over to the bed. I’ve got leather handcuffs in my hand. “Extend me your wrists,” I order. She obeys. I clamp one of the cuffs around one of her wrists, and then with a separate pair, I cuff the other wrist. I fasten the cuffs to the now lowered suspenders, and pull them back taut. Her arms are stretch to their full lengths. She’ll be incapable of moving from this position until she’s released. Her breasts are lifted high and jutting forward. As her back is curved, her bottom slopes outward. I make her splay her legs, then shackle her ankles. “What is the safeword, Leila?” “Yellow and Red, Master,” she mutters. “Good.” “Why are you being punished, Leila?” “I forced my way into your bed last night,” she says choking on her words. “And?” I probe harshly. “And this morning I tried to touch your torso.” “Why was it bad to do those things, Leila?” “Because they were your hard limits, Master.” “You deliberately attempted to do them anyway?”

“Yes, Master,” she responds as she clenches her hands over her restraints, her breathing becomes so rapid her chest heaves with a lot of force. She looks aroused, and expectant; like a drug addict who is about to get her next fix. I hold the whip in my hand with several thin, leather tails. “I will punish you with this; ten blows and I will fuck you, hard. You are not to come. Do you understand, Leila?” “Yes, Master,” she says expectantly. I hold the whip up; swing it towards Leila making the whip whistle through the air, then land it so hard against her bare buttocks. The splayed leather tails cover her bottoms and her displayed sex leaving red welt lines. She trust forward and giving a loud gasp, followed by a pleasure moan. “Quiet!” I order. I take the whip again and land it once more over her fleshy buttocks. Her fingers grip the restraints tight, her chest heaving forward. I make my way to her front and land the blow to her perked up breasts. Leila gasps again, but still have the pleasured look on her face. I move to her side and land another blow where red lines appear in her pale skin. She just shudders. I flick the whip expertly towards her breast hard marking them with stinging lines, and she yelps, her eyes closed. I know just how much pressure to apply in order for the whip to leave behind a powerful reminder of pain, and consequence without breaking her skin. I lift the whip up and land it on her belly, she tries to move but her restraints keep her in place. I move around her body, and dip my fingers into her sex. She’s drenched, aroused, throbbing. She’s not complaining; she’s absorbing and enjoying the sensation. That’s the thing about Leila; her mind goes to a different place when she’s receiving pain. In the context of play, it’s a great trait in a submissive, but the punishments have to be creative for someone who is borderline masochist. I lift the whip up and land the remaining four blows to her round bottom now sporting deep red lines. “Ten!” I say, and go behind Leila, and position her bottom, and slam into her without a preamble. “This is for my pleasure only! You are NOT to come, Leila!” I warn. After each hard thrust to her sex, she groans trying to suppress her pleasure. She’s clenching her body, fighting not to succumb to the mounting pressure spreading through her insides. As I slam into her now reddened bottoms, she moans

driving pleasure from her pain. She holds her buttocks up even further to further meet my thrusts, and she comes loudly as I reach my climax. I unfasten her restraints after I pull out of her. I’m now raving mad, completely displeased. She’s deliberately trying to disobey me to prove some random point I don’t give a shit about. I bring an Aloe Vera lotion from one of my drawers, and apply it to her back, her bottom, her chest and her belly. I say nothing. My eyes are ice chards, and she knows it. “Master?” she says her hand reaching up. I hold my finger up to stop her from talking. I finish my task robotically, and pull my pants on. “Put your dress clothes back on; we’ll have lunch,” I say in an ominous tone. Fear grips her eyes. “Master, I’m sorry!” she says. “Don’t speak to me, unless you are spoken to, Leila. You deliberately and continually disobey my rules. Come, we’ll eat.” I say. She nods, “Yes, Master,” and assumes her submissive demeanor lowering her eyes as I pull my gaze away from her. I leave the room. Twenty minutes later, we’re both back showered in our own respective bathrooms, and sitting at the breakfast bar, eating our lunch. The Three Tenors are singing “O Sole Mio” in the background. (←O Sole Mio sung by Domingo, Carreras, Pavarotti) “Why have you been disobeying me deliberately in the recent weeks?” She shrugs in answer. “Speak, Leila!” I order. “You have disobeyed and got punished every time, and yet, you keep disobeying, and pushing my clearly defined limits. What are you trying to do?” She winces as she tries to find a comfortable sitting position in her stool, but not being able to, she gives up. “Master, I...” she says, and stops. “You, what?” I ask in an ominous tone. “I want something... no I need something,” she says, and I’m pure attention.

“This thing, you want and need... Is this the cause of your disobedience?” She nods without holding her gaze down. “Look at me!” I order. “Yes, Master.” “If you have a certain need, it is my job as your Dom to fulfill it and eliminate the deficiencies in your life. Why didn’t you tell me you needed something?” “I have been trying... With hints. Different things...” she says. “Like what?” My iPod shuffles into playing “La Donna E Mobile.” (←La Donna È Mobile sung by Pavarotti) “May I change the music, Master?” she asks trying to distract me. “Fine!” I snap. She eases off the stool slowly, wincing, and walks to the music station housing the iPod. She switches the song to Beyoncé. She starts crooning the popular “Crazy in Love.” (←Crazy in Love by Beyoncé) She walks back, and claims her stool back, I look at her confused. “I’m waiting!” I say. She sighs. “I need...no I want to be a priority in your life, Master.” I cock my head to the side. “Priority, how?” “The significant one in your life.” “Leila, you know I’m monogamous in my relationships. You are currently the only sub I have.” “I need to turn the music down. It’s loud and distracting,” I say, and reach for the remote and lower the music to the level of a background noise. She gives another sigh. “I want to be your girlfriend Master!” she blurts out and I drop the fork from my hand.

I turn around to face her giving my full attention. “The whole time when you came to invade my room, and disobeyed me every single day for the last nearly four weeks was because you want to be my girlfriend?” “Yes,” she says meekly. “Leila, I don’t want, or need a girlfriend. Never have, never will. You and I have a contract, a consensual Dom / Sub relationship. I take care of you, and you take care of my needs.” “That’s the thing, Master.” She says as if she’s going to divulge another secret. “I’ve met someone,” she says meeting my gaze. “Did you have sex with him?” I ask angrily. I don’t share my subs; I am monogamous with them, I expect the same from them. “No! Not like that. But he wants more, he want to be involved with me. That’s what I want too. And you...” she says trying hard to get the words out of her mouth. “You don’t want that. I want that for myself. I want a relationship. As a couple.” “And you thought, you’d offer me the first chance to fulfill that position? I’m the first in line?” I ask. She grimaces with the assessment. “Well, we are involved. I would like it to be with you Master.” “Leila... That’s not me. I don’t do relationships. I fuck. I’m a Dom. All I want is a sub. If you want to pursue a relationship with someone else, I won’t stop you. You deserve it. But I wish you told me that before. It would have spared you all the punishments. My views aren’t going to chance. This is all I want from a relationship. I don’t want anything else. I’m not interested in anything other than a Dom / Sub relationship with a signed contract, my rules lined up and agreed! You have a get-out clause, you know that.” “I know. I think I would like to use that clause right now,” she says. “Is that what you want?” I ask as I bore my gaze into her. “Yes, Master.” I assess her demeanor. She looks determined.

“Okay. You know that once you get out of the contract, you’re not allowed back to Escala, or to my life in any shape or form.” “I understand, Master,” she says in a barely audible tone. “Your contract is now void. You’re free. I’ll have some money deposited to your account to see you through for some time. Your health insurance will also continue until you get your own.” “Thank you, Master,” she says forlorn. “Taylor will take you once you’re packed. If you wish to stay tonight, you can. Let me know,” I say with an impassive face. “I think I will go today,” she says. I nod. “Let me know when you are ready.” “Master?” she asks. “Can’t I persuade to change your mind? About us?” “No, Leila. I don’t do girlfriends, or relationships. I just fuck,” I say with an impassive face and walk out of the kitchen leaving Leila alone gazing behind me with a shocked expression. Time to take a break and find another sub.

CHAPTER IX

I frown at Sawyer’s trigger happy reaction, and give him the “All clear,” as I enter into the foyer. Immediately chagrined, Sawyer puts his gun away, and allows me in. “Taylor is just overreacting,” I say to soothe Anastasia as I proffer my hand to her. Anastasia looks shocked, scared, worried, and concerned. Her gaze runs over my body taking everything in, noticing my open shirt buttons, trying to make sure I’m unhurt. I try to hide the tension in my body, but unable to. I look at my girl with concern, worried about her. “It’s alright baby,” I say as I walk towards her I open my arms to receive her in my protective embrace. (←Hysteria by Def Leppard) She is wrapped in my arms, safe and secure. Having gone through this last hour worried and aged me, fearing that some harm, however remote might come to Anastasia. I wanted to protect her, but also find Leila to get her the help she needs and to remove element of the danger she’s could be creating. “I was so worried, Christian,” she whispers, finally feeling secure in my arms, tension leaving her body, trying to feel my presence by inhaling my scent, embracing me. “I know. We’re all jumpy.”

Sawyer leaves to confer with the rest of the security team. “Honestly, your exes are proving to be very challenging, Mr. Grey,” she mutters, and her joking demeanor despite the scare we’ve been through relaxes me. I was so worried that this could add a new pressure on Anastasia after what Elena had done at the fundraising; I just realized that I had surmounting fears that she would leave me finding my exes unbearable. “Yes. They are,” I say finding truth in what she’s saying. I have to take control of the situation with both of them. After holding her and feeling her warmth in my arms, and finally feeling secure enough to have her with me, I release her from my arms only to take her hand in mine. As I take her into the living room, I explain what Taylor and his security detail is doing: “Taylor and his crew are checking all the closets and cupboards. I don’t think she’s here.” “Why would she be here?” she asks. I don’t know the answer to that, and I don’t see any reason why she would be in my apartment. “Exactly,” I respond. “Could she get in?” asks Anastasia. We have a state of the art security system in the apartment; I’m not sure if she can bypass those. “I don’t see how. But Taylor is overcautious sometimes,” I say knowing Taylor total dedication to his job. “Have you searched the playroom?” asks Anastasia in a low voice. I know what she’s referring to. Leila had been a participant in my playroom; my sub. And of course the thoughts of Leila and I would come to Anastasia unbidden, knowing how jealous she gets. I frown but answer her question: “”Yes, it’s locked, but Taylor and I checked it,” I say remembering Taylor’s overreaction. She takes a shuddering breath as if to wash away the last hour’s anxiety and fear. I want her to relax and unwind. “Do you want a drink or anything?” I ask her. “No.” she says finally running out of the last bit of adrenaline the stress gave her; she’s completely tired, and barely able to stand on her feet.

“Come. Let me put you to bed. You look exhausted,” I say as if she’s a small child. I hold her hand and take her to my bedroom. She takes her handbag, and puts it on top the dresser, and empties the contents of it. Clutching a piece of paper, she hands it to me. “Here,” she says, “I don’t know if you want to read this. I want to ignore it.” I look at the note, and the content of it upsets me:
I may have misjudged you. And you have definitely misjudged me. Call me if you need to fill in any of the blanks – we could have lunch. Christian doesn’t want me talking to you, but I would be more than happy to help. Don’t get me wrong, I approve, believe me – but so help me, if you hurt him... He’s been hurt enough. Call me: (206) 279-6261 Mrs. Robinson

I don’t want to analyze it in front of Anastasia who already sees red even when she hears the letter “R.” “I’m not sure what blanks she can fill in,” I say dismissing the note, but I will straighten her out. “I need to talk to Taylor,” I say by the way of changing topic so she doesn’t dwell too much on Elena and contribute to what already turned out to be a hellish night. “Let me unzip your dress,” I say gazing at her. She should go to bed. She looks dead tired. “Are you going to call the police about the car?” she asks me as I unzip her dress. That is of course not an option. I sweep her loose hair to the side, and my fingers trail on her now naked back. “No. I don’t want the police involved. Leila needs help, not police intervention, and I don’t want them here. We just have to double our efforts to find her,” I say leaning down and kissing her shoulder. I don’t want Anastasia worry about this. This is my problem which I brought to our doorsteps. Leila is going through grief right now, and I have to get help for her; I owe her that much. I can’t abandon her. I hate the fact that this is brought up to Anastasia’s attention. I know she can get very jealous. She’s jealous of Elena, and now Leila who in fact went to meet her at work. I wanted to resolve it before it reached to this point. All I have to do now is to find Leila get her help and do damage control with Anastasia.

“Go to bed,” I order Anastasia, and I go to meet Taylor. He’s stoically waiting in my office. “Taylor, what have you found?” “No trace of her here sir.” “Do you think she has entered the house?” “We didn’t find any evidence of a break-in sir. We swept the apartment twice. No sign of her. I examined the paint on the car. It’s an oil based paint sir, and it’s white which means it’s a rapid drier. Given the humidity in Seattle, I’d say it’s been tossed on Miss Steele’s car about 3 hours ago or maybe a little more. She could be long gone,” he says, I nod. Taylor looks uneasy. “But?” I probe knitting my eyebrows. Taylor’s instincts never fail, and I’m pure attention. “She has this ability to evade us sir. I’m quite sure she is following you or Miss Steele somehow. She made sure she did cause the damage right when we were all gone. Her timing is not a coincidence. She knew we were gone, and she probably suspected it’s for a good while because we were all dressed for a party. That gave her time to scheme up a plan to go get the paint, deface the car and slash the tires. My gut instinct tells me that she’s not far from Escala. But ‘where’ is the question. It’s been bothering me that we haven’t been able to locate her,” he says shifting on his foot nervously. “What else?” I ask in a firm voice. “Pardon me sir?” “Taylor, you worked for me for four years. You know me well, and I’ve learned how to read you like a book. You and I can communicate with just one look. There’s something else. I want to know what that is!” He nods. “I’ve been thinking about this since she came and made a scene in front of Gail. Leila changed tactics. It was first to get your attention. You’re paying attention now. She’s now saying look what I can do. Look at the pain I can cause, expect what’s to come. It’s like a cat and mouse game to her. But I’m not sure whether she’s the cat or the mouse! She’s playing both. And then there’s the fact that she’s going through grief; that’s another concern because that’s what makes her unstable. She doesn’t care what happens. That’s what worries me. But she’s coherent enough to make a plan, however hasty or

impromptu.” Anastasia’s fear stricken face comes before my eyes unbidden. I close my eyes, and inhale deep. The last few hours since Elena pulled her shit on Anastasia has been horrendous. I thought Anastasia would run, after Taylor called me and told me about the confrontation. Luckily Elena didn’t divulge on what I feared she would say. Of course the time she danced with Dr. Flynn was another time that worried me. But John is a professional and I pay him well. He doesn’t spread his patient information to the patient’s significant other. “There are now four of you to cover a lot more ground to find her Taylor. I don’t want to leave anything to chance. Sawyer will follow Anastasia at all times. Her safety is top priority. I want Leila to be found. Find out if she’s been in touch with any of her friends here, or her family back east. I have enough things to worry about without this looming over me. It needs to be resolved now!” I say. Taylor nods stoically. “If you don’t need me anymore sir, I’ll go to my office, and get everyone up to par.” “Fine,” I say curtly and Taylor leaves. I run my hands through my hair. Where could Leila be? What’s her deal with Anastasia? I’ve had other subs before and after her. Why Anastasia? My phone rings disrupting the silence in my office, making me jump. Who the fuck could be calling me in the dark of the night after 2:00 a.m. in the morning? Is this another fucking emergency, like I didn’t have enough of them tonight? I look at the caller and it’s Elena. Great! This night is getting better and better all the time! “What?” I bark into the speaker without a preamble. She’s surprised to hear me. “Oh, Christian, I didn’t think you would be up at this time. I’m sorry for calling so late.” “Well, I’m up and completely pissed at you! After telling you to leave Anastasia alone, what do you do? You go behind my back and send a note to her knowing full well that I would know! What were you planning to tell her? What blanks did you think you could fill that I couldn’t?” I can hear her shudder on the phone. “Uhm... I needed to speak with you,” she says. “At 2:00 a.m. in the morning? I don’t know why you’re calling me at this hour. I have nothing to say to you...” I seethe with anger. Not after what she pulled on Anastasia after I told her to leave her alone. I don’t like people going behind my back.

“I’m aware of the time. I thought you’d be asleep, and I was hoping to leave you a message. I can call you tomorrow if you like...” “Well, you can tell me now. You don’t have to leave a message.” “I didn’t want Anastasia to think so lowly of me. She doesn’t know the nature of our relationship. And she misjudged me. It bothers me that she sees me as a pedophile. You know I’m not Christian! I was only trying to help you the only way I knew how! And I will not tolerate Anastasia hurting you! Listen Christian...she has the potential of hurting you badly!” she says and I cut her off. “No, you listen. I asked you and now I’m telling you. Leave her alone! She has nothing to do with you. Do you understand?” I say in a menacing voice. “Christian, please. I care about you immensely!” she says pleading. “I know you do. But I mean it, Elena. Leave her the fuck alone. Do I need to put it in triplicate for you?” “Christian, you’ve been through enough! You don’t know what she can do to you if she was to hurt you again. I know you can’t take it. I felt the need to protect you!” “Are you hearing me?” I ask her exasperated. “Yes, I am. Fine! I’ll leave her alone,” she says resigned. “Good. Good night!” I slam the fucking phone down on the desk. Anger is rippling through me; I’m ready to break something apart. I put my head between my hands. I’m at my limit. I hate others' interference into my life. Leila is doing it for some revenge she feels she needs to extract from me triggered by her grief, and Elena is doing it because of some misguided desire to protect me! And there’s Anastasia who is in the middle of this shit storm, and I’m too afraid that she’d leave me because of their actions. There’s a slight knock on my door. Who the hell is it now? “What?” I snarl like an angry beast, ready to devour whoever is behind that door in one giant bite. The door is opens tentatively. I glance up and see the sight of heaven out of my personal hell. My face and soul find solace in that moment when I see those blue eyes peering in half scared at my ferocity in answering the door. I don’t want her to be afraid of me. I’m cautious now. I’m too damn tired and weary. I just want to hold my girl, and find my center in this hurricane.

As my mind reels in from the storm into the calm, I blink to erase what has been bothering me and look at the sight before me. Anastasia is wearing one of my t-shirt looking like a teenager. “You should be in silk or satin, Anastasia,” I say out of breath as if I ran a marathon. “But even in my tshirt, you look beautiful.” She blushes that lovely color rising in her cheeks. “I missed you, come to bed,” she whispers softly. Her voice is beckoning me, like a siren’s call. (←Bliss by Muse) I can’t help but rise out of my seat and walk towards her. My eyes are full of promise and desire for her, but they’re still tinted with the residual sadness of what she’s gone through just in one evening because of my exes. She’s my candlelight in the darkest tunnels of my soul. The only hope I can focus on. I’m drawn to her, and lost without her. If you’re born into darkness like me, it becomes your companion. That’s all you know. It’s comfortable because you don’t know anything else. And the rescue attempts to get me out of the darkness have always been fruitless. My body may have been out of the confines of that dungeon, but my soul never was. Not until this tiny flicker of light. It wasn’t strong, just a point in darkness beckoning me, calling me silently to it. I’m helpless but to go to this tiny candlelight. When I reach to it, it consumes me, holds me in its power promising good things, pulling me out of the dungeon, merging me within its light. This is how she just effortlessly pulls me out of my dark thoughts, anger and misery. “Do you know what you mean to me?” I murmur barely hiding the fear of losing her. “If something happened to you, because of me...” I can’t bring the rest of the thought into words; it’s just too painful to even hypothesize upon such a thought. I try to keep the anguish at bay by trying to crease my brows as if it’ll do the job, but the pain is ever present. I nearly lost it when she was gone six days, and I knew she was only 10 minutes away from me. If something happened and Anastasia and I didn’t exist in the same universe, I would simply die of torment! I would lose my half claimed soul. I need her more than my next breath! She’s too important to me. I can hardly look at her as if she’s going to disappear from my hands, evaporate somehow. “Nothing’s going to happen to me,” she says in a soothing, melodic voice, reassuring me in her fragile self. She gazes at me with love in her eyes, holding out her hands she reaches out to my face and softly stroke my face. She runs her soft fingers through midnight stubble on my cheeks. “Your beard grows quickly,” she whispers, effectively taking me to some topic that is completely out of the danger zone.

Her index finger ever so slightly traces my bottom lip, and then with her nail with the slightest of pressure she traces the line of my lip. Her finger trails down to my throat. Then she employs two fingers for the same purpose. Then three. And then four. Her fingers graze over my throat down to my neck and the borderline of safety and danger zone. My eyes are wide open as I gaze down at her, completely encapsulated in her magic. She’s doing the touching. I’m motionless. A moon orbiting its planet. Captivated. She brings her finger down to the edge of my shirt. Her fingers trace the line of the shirt buttons up and down slowly, leisurely. “I’m not going to touch you. I just want to undo your shirt,” she whispers, easing me, trying to soothe my fears. (←By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North) I can’t help it. This is still hard for me. My eyes widen, anxious, but I don’t want to get away from her proximity. I stand motionless, and I want to let her explore. Slowly, tentatively she unbuttons the top button, pulling the shirt collar and fabric away from my skin, careful not to touch me. She repeats the process with the next button. My gaze is on her, mesmerized. Icarus to sun. Still apprehensive, but unable to get away from the pull. I’m in the mercy of her hands. She moves down to unfasten another button. Then a third one. Completely focused with the task at hand. Third one undone, she moves on to the fourth button in line. Once she unfastens it, the now residual slight red lipstick line appears. She smiles and looks up at me. “Back on home territory,” she says tracing the line with her fingers and then she unfastens the last button. My breathing is shallow. Why is this scary and hot as hell? She pulls the shirt out of the confines of my pants, completely opening the front of it and baring my chest. She removes the cufflinks, one sexy sensual move at a time. “Can I take your shirt off?” she asks in a low, desire laden sensual voice. I’m speechless; all salacity, pure attention. I can only nod. She reaches up and pulls the shirt off my shoulders. The shirt is hanging down from my hands which I free with one pull. I’m now naked from waist up. It’s my home territory. I’m back and smirk down at Anastasia. “What about my pants, Miss Steel?” I ask raising my eyebrows with nothing but carnal hunger. “In the bedroom. I want you in your bed,” she says with promise in her tone. “Do you now? Miss Steele, you are insatiable,” I say with pleasure. “I can’t think why,” she says innocently grabbing my hand, taking lead, pulling me away from the misery piled up sky high in my office, and takes me to my bedroom. I automatically sense something odd in the

room. It’s chilly. We keep the apartment at a constant temperature. My gaze quickly goes around the room, and I notice the open balcony door. I frown and look at Anastasia quizzically. “You opened the balcony door?” I ask. “No,” she answers surprised by it as much as I am. Then her face changes, blood draining from her face, she goes pale, colorless like a ghost. Her mouth falls open. What happened? What’s bothering her? “What?” I snap unable to bear the suspense, I glare at her. “When I woke up,” she says pausing trying to recall, “there was someone in here,” she says in a whisper pointing at the foot of the bed. “I thought it was my imagination.” “What?” I bellow horrified. I run to the balcony door, I look outside, scan around to see if there’s anyone. She’s here. She’s close by! And fuck! She was in my bedroom where my girlfriend was sleeping! Fuck! She could have hurt her. I step back in, and lock the door. “Are you sure? Who?” I ask in a strained voice. I intently look into her eyes. “A woman, I think. It was dark. I’d only just woken up,” she explains. My fears are confirmed. Leila is here somewhere. “Get dressed,” I order in a snarl. She looks at me confused. “Now!” I yell, and she jumps. “My clothes are upstairs,” she whimpers.

I go to my dresser and pull out one of my workout sweatpants. “Put these on,” I order. Then I take out one my t-shirts and put it on. I reach for the phone and dial Taylor’s extension. He answers on the first ring. “She’s still fucking here,” I hiss before he can even say ‘hello’. (←Dangerous by Michael Jackson) Taylor slams the phone down, and rushes to my bedroom in mere seconds along with Ryan. I give the shorthand version of Leila’s presence in my bedroom and us finding the balcony door open to Taylor. Taylor is all business: “How long ago?” he asks Anastasia.

“About ten minutes,” she says sounding feeble. “She knows the apartment like the back of her hand,” I say. “I’m taking Anastasia away now. She’s hiding here somewhere. Find her. When is Gail back?” I ask. “Tomorrow evening, sir.” “She’s not to return until this place is secure. Understand?” I snap barely holding onto my sanity. “Yes, sir. Will you be going to Bellevue?” “I’m not leading this problem to my parents. Book me somewhere,” I order. “Yes. I’ll call you.” Then Anastasia turns and says the most idiotic thing. “Aren’t we all overreacting slightly?” My eyes are burning embers, and if I could shoot fire through them, I probably would. I glower at her, and my anger is not contained. “She may have a gun,” I growl. Does she think I’d take a chance with her life?

“Christian, she was standing at the end of the bed. She could have shot me then, if that’s what she wanted to do.” Breathe in. Breathe out. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Fuck! It’s not working. “I’m not prepared to take that risk. Taylor! Anastasia needs shoes!” Taylor runs to get her shoes from her bedroom. I briskly walk into my closet, leaving Anastasia with Ryan’s protective and watchful eyes. I get a leather messenger bag out, and fill it with clothes that I could wear for the next few days. I grab one of my denim jackets for Anastasia. I shed my black suit pants, and put on my jeans and a pinstriped blazer on top of my t-shirt. I clutch my messenger bag and the denim jacket and come back to my room. Anastasia is still standing where I left her. I drape the jacket around her shoulders.

“Come,” I say grabbing her hand into mine possessively and walk in fast strides while nearly dragging Anastasia behind me. “I can’t believe she could hide somewhere in here,” she mutters as she glances at the balcony door on the way out. “It’s a big place. You haven’t seen it all yet.” “Why don’t you just call her... tell her you want to talk to her?” asks Anastasia. “Anastasia, she’s unstable, and she may be armed,” I say. Why would I take that chance? “So we just run?” she asks incredulous. “For now, yes.” “Supposing she tries to shoot Taylor?” she asks concerned. “Taylor knows and understands guns,” I say with disapproval. “He’ll be quicker with a gun than she is.”

“Ray was in the army. He’s taught me to shoot.” I turn and look at Anastasia with disbelief. Another gun lover in my home? “You, with a gun?” I ask shocked. I never knew that. “Yes,” she says offended, as if I said she was unworthy or incapable of having a gun. In a way, I can’t imagine a gun in her delicate hands. This is a new piece of information for me to digest. “I can shoot, Mr. Grey, so you’d better beware. It’s not just crazy ex-subs you need to worry about.” It’s cute that my girlfriend is not completely helpless. “I’ll bear that in mind, Miss Steele,” I answer her dryly, smiling at her tenacity and unwavering spirit. When we reach the foyer, Taylor is waiting to meet us with a carry-on bag with Anastasia’s clothes and her black Converse. A shy smile creeps on Anastasia’s face, and soon enough her personal aura light up making Taylor smile back at her reassuringly. She lets go of my hand, goes and hugs Taylor who gets shy like a teen blushing. “Be careful,” Anastasia murmurs concerned. “Yes, Miss Steele,” is what Taylor can barely utter. I don’t like my girlfriend showing affection to others even if it is for legitimate concern. She’s mine, damn it! I assess Taylor, and he shyly adjusts his tie, as a nervous gesture. “Let me know where I’m going,” I say to Taylor. He takes out his wallet out of his jacket and pulls out a credit card handing it to me. He’s going to book the hotel under his name. Great idea. “Good thinking,” I say approving. Ryan enters the foyer, and turns to Taylor, “Sawyer and Reynolds found nothing,” he explains. The house is clean, but I can’t take a chance. The locks need to be changed before we can return. “Accompany Mr. Grey and Miss Steele to the garage,” Taylor orders Ryan. The descent to the garage is silent, almost ominous. It’s the middle of the night. There’s not a single soul in the garage as the residents of Escala are sleeping. It’s three a.m. in the morning after all. I hoist Anastasia into my R8’s passenger seat, putting her bag and mine in the trunk. I can’t spare Anastasia from seeing the destruction of her vehicle. Her Audi’s tires slashed, and white, according to Taylor, oil

based paint is defacing the car looking like an abuse victim who has been hurt beyond repair by a lover scorned. The scene makes me shudder. Is this what Leila wants to do to Anastasia? Hurt her beyond repair? Anger rises in me. I take my gaze away from the car and slide into the driver’s seat. “A replacement vehicle will arrive on Monday,” I say to Anastasia to reassure her, but I can’t take the grim tone off my voice. “How could she have known it was my car?” Anastasia asks puzzled. Oh, no! I have to explain! I fidget nervously in my seat, but opt for the truth. “She had an Audi A3. I buy one for all my submissives. It’s one of the safest cars in its class,” I say by the way of explaining. Anastasia blinks. She’s too smart to for me pull the wool over her eyes. “Soooo, it’s not so much a graduation present, then,” she says assessing correctly. “Anastasia, despite what I hoped, you have never been my submissive, so technically it is a graduation present,” I say as I pull out of the parking bay and speed toward the garage exit. Her face falls. I see the gears turning in her head with the flicker of expressions running through her gaze. “Are you still hoping?” she asks in a whisper. I don’t get a chance to answer her. Luckily the phone buzzes through the Bluetooth in the car. “Grey,” is my answering snap. “Fairmont Olympic. In my name,” says Taylor cutting to the chase. “Thank you, Taylor. And, Taylor, be careful.” Taylor pauses. It’s his ‘I’m-too-shocked-and-I-don’t-knowwhat-to-do-with-this-concern-coming-from-Grey’ silence. He’s surprised as I am to show concern over his well-being. “Yes, sir,” he says quietly, overwhelmed. I hang up. At this ominous hour of the night, the streets are deserted. I drive up Fifth Avenue towards I-5. When I pass through the on ramp of the freeway, I put pedal to the metal, and head north. I’m beyond angry. What if Leila snapped when she saw Anastasia in my bed and shot her? My thoughts go back to our last

day. She was punished for jumping into my bed the night before. I treated her behavior like the Bubonic plague. That was the day she finally declared after her many hints and signs that she wanted to be my girlfriend. I refused. I never wanted a girlfriend. I never felt a desire so strong to keep someone to remain in my life forever. Not until Anastasia! (←No Ordinary Love by Sade) My feelings for her are so strong, they scare me. The fear of the possibility of losing her in any capacity is the depth of my worst nightmares. I will do everything in my power to prevent that. God! My mind keeps playing an image where Anastasia is sleeping in the dark, unaware of anything that can happen to her, helpless. I’m in the same house, with four security guards who are seasoned military men for God’s sake, and she could have been shot! Damn it! My gaze flickers to my rearview mirror. Is Leila following us? I’m getting jumpy as if I’ve had ten cups of triple shot espresso! My gaze is on the road, but I see Anastasia looking out the window a sadness dawning on her since I haven’t answered her question. I know she worries that I still want her as a sub. I finally answer her question. “No. It’s not what I hope for, not anymore. I thought that was obvious,” I respond to her question in a soft soothing voice. She turns around to look at me. Her gaze lingers on me without saying a word. She tightens the jacket hard around herself as if to prevent herself from falling apart. A coldness creeps between us. “I worry that, you know... that I’m not enough for you.” God! Not this again! Not tonight! Not after all this shit we’ve been through within a matter of a few hours. “You’re more than enough. For the love of God, Anastasia! What do I have to do to prove it to you?” She has some unspoken emotions flit through her face again. “Why did yo think I’d leave when I told you Dr. Flynn had told me all there was to know about you?” How can I explain that I have been in a dungeon for souls so long, it has not seen the light until I found her! How does she think a person gets fifty shades fucked-up? My shit is soul deep. What you see is not what you get. You get a whole shitload of baggage. Things I am too embarrassed to speak of... Too dark.

She will run from me, and it’s something I can’t handle! I can’t tell her that. I sigh deep like there is not another breath of air left in my lungs. I gaze out. She’s still looking at me. Looking for an answer. “You cannot begin to understand the depths of my depravity, Anastasia. And it’s not something I want to share with you,” I say. She should give me this much leeway. “And you really think I’d leave, if I knew?” she asks in a high voice. Her tone conveys the expression ‘do you trust me that little?’ “Do you think so little of me?” she asks in a low voice.

“I know you’ll leave,” I say knowing my own fucking secret. (←When You’re Gone by the Cranberries) “Christian... I think that’s very unlikely. I can’t imagine being without you.” “You left me once. I don’t want to go there again.” Ever! “Elena said she saw you last Saturday,” she whispers, quietly. Accusing. “She didn’t!” I answer frowning. “You didn’t go to see her, when I left?” God damn it Ana! You believe a woman you loathe, but my word isn’t good enough for you? “No!” I snap back. “I told you I didn’t. And I don’t like to be doubted,” I reprimand her. “I didn’t go anywhere last weekend. I sat and made the glider you gave me. Took me forever,” I say quietly. It was a day my heart and soul was taken away from me. I was shattered. Why would I go to Elena? I wanted to be where I could be closest to Anastasia. At the time, the model glider she left me was the closest thing to her hands, her heart, her thoughts and soul. She still looks doubtful. “Contrary to what Elena thinks, I don’t rush to her with all my problems, Anastasia. I don’t rush to anybody. You may have noticed. I’m not much of a talker,” I say with anger gripping my soul, and I clench the steering wheel until blood drains from my hands. “Carrick told me yo didn’t talk for two years,” she divulges. “Did he now?” I say. Can’t a man keep any secrets of himself?

“I kind of pumped him for information,” she says chagrined. “So what else did Daddy say?” I ask trying to decipher what sort of information she discovered. “He said your mom was the doctor who examined you when you were brought into the hospital. After you were discovered in your apartment.” All true of course, but I’m completely amazed how they can divulge information about me so readily. “He said learning the piano helped. And Mia,” she adds remembering. Mia. My sister was the best thing that happened to me in those years. Her name brings up a smile upon my lips. Remembering how small she was. How helpless... She was someone who could need me. I could protect her. “She was about six months old when she arrived. I was thrilled, Elliot less so. He’d already had to contend with my arrival. She was perfect.” Cute, loveable. A baby! I loved her since the first moment I laid eyes on my little sister. But remembering her ‘interruptions’ earlier in the evening, I add, “Less so now, of course.” Anastasia giggles in response. One of the best sounds in the world! Peaceful! Happy! I glance at her teasing, “You find that amusing, Miss Steele?” “She seemed determined to keep us apart,” she answers. I laugh, still forlorn. “Yes, she’s quite accomplished. “But we got there in the end,” I say as I reach my hand to squeeze her knee to remind how much fun it was to reach the end goal. This time, my smile is genuine. I check the rearview mirror again to make sure no one is following us. “I don’t think we’ve been followed,” I say and exit the freeway, and head back to central Seattle. “Can I ask you something about Elena?” Anastasia blurts as we stop at the red light. Not her again! “If you must,” I say apprehensively. “You told me ages ago that she loved you in a way you found acceptable. What did that mean?” “Isn’t it obvious?” I ask. I was already screwed up, going to hell in a hand basket. She saved me from destroying myself. “Not to me,” she responds.

“I was out of control. I couldn’t bear to be touched. I can’t bear it now. For a fourteen, fifteen year old adolescent boy with hormones raging, it was a difficult time. She showed me a way to let off steam,” I explain. I really think that her intervention saved me no matter how it damaged me in other ways. But Anastasia doesn’t understand that. She’s never lived through the torments I lived through, and I don’t think I could bear it if someone had tortured her like the way I had been. “Mia said you were a brawler.” What the fuck! What is it with people who are so readily to divest information about me? “Christ!” I growl. “What is it with my loquacious family? Actually, it’s not them. It’s you!” When we stop at another red light, I turn and narrow my eyes on her. “You inveigle information out of people,” I say in a mock disgust. “Mia volunteered that information. In fact, she was very forthcoming. She was worried you’d start a brawl in the marquee if you didn’t win me at the auction,” she mutters petulantly. “Oh, baby there was no danger of that. There was no way I would let anyone else dance with you. I told you, for me; dancing with you is a vertical expression of a horizontal mission.” “You let Dr. Flynn,” she states questioning. “He’s always the exception to the rule.” John is not only my therapist, but also my friend. And of course I know he’s in love with his wife. We finally arrive at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, and I park close to the entrance. “Come,” I say to Anastasia, as I get out and take our bags from the trunk. A valet rushes to us, and though surprised at the hour and the vehicle, he’s courteous. I toss him the car keys. “Name of Taylor,” I say. The valet nods at me, and with a grin plastered to his face ear to ear, he gets into my R8 and drives off. I take my girl’s hand, with our bags in the other, we walk into the lobby. We make our way to the reception desk. The receptionist flushes beet red as she takes me in. “I have a reservation. Taylor, for two,” she is flustered, forgetting her professional demeanor expected of her at a hotel like this. She checks her computer, and finds our reservation.

Swallowing she says, “Do... you need a hand... with your bags, Mr. Taylor?” “We’re fine,” I say in a brusque tone. “Where are the elevators?” The now crimson faced receptionist gives the directions to the elevators. I take Anastasia’s hand, and we make our way to the elevators after passing through tastefully decorated lobby. The elevator takes us to our floor, and we make our way to our suite. It’s got two bedrooms, a formal dining room, and a grand piano. Standard for what I would choose. The living room has a log fireplace with warm orange fire blazing. “Well, Mrs. Taylor, I don’t know about you, but I’d really like a drink,” I say as I lock and bolt the door. After all the stress we’ve gone through, and I need something stiff and relaxing. I walk to the bedroom with our bags and my girl firmly in my hands. I put the bags onto the ottoman at the foot of the king size four poster bed, and walk back to the living room Anastasia’s hand still firmly in my hand. Anastasia makes her way to the fire place trying to warm her hands, as if to exorcise the chill that went into her bones from all the nerve-wrecking events of the night. I go to the bar and look over the drinks. “Armagnac?” I ask Anastasia. This brandy will warm the coldest climber on top of the Austrian Alps. It should do the job for us. “Please,” responds Anastasia. “It’s been quite a day, huh?” She nods, without words. I gaze at her concerned, searching for a trait of apprehension, disgust, worry, anything that would make her run from me. “I’m okay,” she whispers to reassure me. Can I be reassured? “How about you? “ she asks turning the question onto me. “Well, right now I’d like to drink this and then, if you’re not too tired, take you to bed and lose myself in you,” I say with fever in my eyes, emanating from my burning soul, yearning for her. (←I’m on Fire by Bruce Springsteen)

“I think that can be arranged, Mr. Taylor,” she says giving me one of her shy, girly smiles. I lean down and take my shoes and socks off. As I gaze up at Anastasia, I notice that she’s biting her lip. “Mrs. Taylor, stop biting your lip,” I whisper. I need her when I’m like this. I need her when I’m angry. I need her when I’m sad... when I’m desperate... I need her when I’m lost... I need her now! She blushes. I sip my brandy and watch my girl with hungry eyes. “You never cease to amaze me, Anastasia. After a day like today, or yesterday rather, you’re not whining or running off into the hills screaming. I am in awe of you. You’re very strong.” I remark in a worshipping gaze. “You’re a very good reason to stay,” she murmurs. “I told you, Christian; I’m not going anywhere, no matter what you’ve done. You know how I feel about you.” I wish I could believe that Anastasia. I wish I could. I wish your love for me was strong enough for both of us. Strong enough to wade through all the shit that’s flowing beneath the surface, within my soul. I have to doubt it baby. If I let the doubt go, I may lose you! I can’t handle that! She looks at me trying to convince me. For now, we’ll have to leave it at that. “Where are you going to hang Jose’s portraits of me?” she asks changing topics. “That depends,” I say, my lips twitch in a suppressed smile. I have plans, but unlike my family, I’m not about to divulge them to the most skilled information finagler the city of Seattle has ever known. “On what?” she asks quizzical. “Circumstances,” I say, not giving anything away. “Don’t worry. His show’s not over yet, so I don’t have to decide right away.” She cocks her head to the side reflecting me, and narrows her eyes in a questioning manner. “You can look as sternly as you like, Mrs. Taylor. I’m saying nothing,” I tease her. “I may torture the truth from you,” she threatens. Oh baby, that’s cute. I raise an eyebrow at her and say, “Really, Anastasia. I don’t think you should make promises you can’t fulfill.”

“Hmmm...” passes through her lips and she takes her glass and places on top of the fireplace mantle. Then she reaches over to my hand, and swipes my glass off my fingers, and places next to hers atop the mantle. “We’ll just have to see about that,” she murmurs. She takes my hand, taking the lead, and pulls me towards the bedroom. I’m completely amused by her emboldened action. She brings me to the foot of the bed, and stops. “Now you have me in here, Anastasia, what are you going to do with me?” I ask in a low teasing voice. “I’m going to start by undressing you. I want to finish what I started earlier,” she says reminding me of her undressing session in my study. She reaches to the lapels of my striped jacket, and with utmost care to not to touch me, she gently pushes the jacket over my shoulders. I flinch of course, holding my breath. But I hold my ground. I want to do this. Badly! I want her so much to touch me! I want not only to bear to be touched, but I want to enjoy her touches! I yearn for them. My eyes are glued on her. They’re large, and burning into her. I’m apprehensive, wary, but I need this. I need her! She takes the jacket all the way off, and places it on the ottoman. “Now your t-shirt,” she whispers and lifts the hem. I raise my arms for her, and I pull my body away as she pulls the t-shirt off. Now I’m naked from waist up, just like I was when we discovered that Leila had broken in. I’m only wearing my jeans hanging on my hips, the tops of my happy trail showing my boxer briefs and just a glimpse to make Anastasia hungry for me.

“Now what?” I whisper, hot, blazing. “I want to kiss you here,” she says running her finger from one hipbone to hipbone making me ache for her, her finger blazing a hot fire in me. I inhale deeply to accommodate the rising urge and need in me. “I’m not stopping you,” I breathe. She reaches out and takes my hand in hers. “You’d better lie down then,” she says leading me to the side of the bed. I feel a little apprehensive. No one has ever taken the lead with me. (←Take the Lead – Tango Scene – Asi se baila el tango) I’ve never given the reins over to someone else during sex – not since Elena.

I lift the covers and sit on the edge, gaze up at Anastasia, looking at her expectant, wary, serious. Anastasia stands before me and drops the denim jacket off. Then she takes the sweatpants off. Damn! I know there’s nothing under my t-shirt! I’m dying to get my hands on her. In fact, to suppress the desire of touching her, I rub my thumb over the tips of my fingers. She gazes at me, takes a deep breath and grasps the hem of her t-shirt and shrugs it off. She stands before me gloriously naked. I look at her as if I’m staring at a goddess. I can’t take my eyes off her, and swallow. My lips fall open with desire. “You are Aphrodite, Anastasia,” I whisper. (←She’s So High by Tal Bachman) She reaches out and takes my face into her hands tipping my head upward to meet met descending face and kisses me. It’s so fucking hot! I can’t help but let out a low groan. As we start kissing, this is all I can take before I’m consumed with desire and instantaneously combust, I grab her hips, and pin her beneath me, my legs forcing hers apart. Her legs encompass mine, cocooning me. I take the lead in kissing her, sucking her tongue, her lips, her mouth; I can’t get enough of her! My hands move over to her thighs, her hips and to her belly. Trailing, squeezing, and leaving her wanting more. My fingers move up to her breast, and I palm it into my hand, knead and pull her nipple making her groan. She’s on fire, desirous and panting. She raises her pelvis and rubs herself against my burgeoning manhood behind my fly. My erection is pushing, impatient. I dip down and rub against her sex, she moans in ecstasy. I pull away and her pelvis reaches up again, and I dip down and push on her once more, and her answering moans make me dip down and claim her mouth and kiss her passionately. This slow, torturous, passionate bed tango goes on and on, getting lost in her, she’s lost in me, every worry evaporated, gone. It’s just Anastasia and I, making love together - here and now. She tentatively reaches up, and grabs hold of my hair pulling my mouth to hers, trying to invade me from my mouth, rapacious in her effort to claim me. While her mouth is working its magic on my lips, her fingers trail down my arms making their way to my back, and she slides her hand inside my jeans, squeezing my buttocks, pushing them down, urging me on top of her to claim her, merge with her, be one, and unite. “You’re going to unman me, Ana,” I whisper and pull away from her. If I don’t take her now, I will explode. I take a packet of condom out of my pocket and hand it to her as I busy myself trying to take my jeans off. “You want me, baby, and I sure as hell want you. You know what to do.” (←Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns ‘N Roses)

She tears the foil and sheaths the condom over my manhood growing in size. I grin down at her, enjoying the feel of her hand on me caressing, gliding over my length. I lean down and rub my nose against hers, and as I enter into Anastasia’s sex, the delicious, exquisite feel washes over me, making me close my eyes, revel in the feeling of being inside her. Anastasia tentatively reaches up to my arms grasping, and arches her back and tilts her head back trying to absorb all the sensations I’m giving her. I move in and out of her with slow ease, like a man in love, tender. As my body presses down on her, merging with her, uniting, I hold her face in my hands. “You make me forget everything. You are the best therapy,” I breathe as my length moves at a slow pace as if tasting my most favorite meal, an exquisite and delicious delicacy. “Please, Christian, faster,” she begs for quick release. “Oh, no, baby. I need this slow,” I say kissing her sweetly, and I bite her lower lip gently as she moans into my mouth. She moves her hands into my hair, looking at me in awe, moving with my slow pace, surrendering herself to me, and I feel the delicious tension rising as her muscles inside start contracting, her eyes roll back into her head as she reaches her climax, making me moan, “Oh, Ana,” and I reach my completion with her name a litany on my lips. After our lovemaking, I lower myself and just wrap my arms around her resting my head on her belly. There is a certain intimacy, something closer than sex in being held like that. It’s soothing, cherishing. I have never bared my soul to anyone. Never like this. Right this moment while Anastasia is holding me, caressing my hair, she’s holding my heart and soul in her small hands. (←Closer by Kings of Leon) In this fragile bubble, I am so scared of losing this... I never knew I could love someone like this, desire to give all of me, redefine my truths. I’m serene in the midst of a storm, all because she’s my safe harbor. There are two things that give me fear: Anastasia getting hurt because of me, and Anastasia leaving me. I can do something about the first. I can protect her. But, the second depends on Anastasia. That’s my biggest fear. “I will never get enough of you. Don’t leave me,” I murmur kissing her belly. “I’m not going anywhere, Christian, and I seem to remember that I wanted to kiss your belly,” she says in a sleep laden voice. Her declaration makes me smile. “Nothing stopping you now baby,” I say.

“I don’t think I can move... I’m dead tired.” She’s had a trying evening. I sigh, and move to lie beside her. I pull the covers on us. I gaze gown at her with all my love. “Sleep now, baby,” I whisper. I lean down and kiss her hair. Finally wrap my arms around her and we both succumb to sleep. (Lullaby by Dixie Chix) I wake up on my own volition. But the sun had already risen. I check the time. It’s nearly 10:00 a.m. I get up and get dressed. I come back to bed and lay on top of the covers watching Anastasia sleep. She looks peaceful, so young, and so innocent. The worry lines are gone. I just want to touch and hold her but I don’t want to wake her up. She stirs a little. I could watch Anastasia sleep for hours. She squints her eyes and finally cracks them open a little. She looks like she’s has a hangover, but it’s the after affects long night we’ve had. “Hi,” I murmur as I smile at her. “Hi,” she whispers back still sleep tugging at her voice. “How long have you been watching me?” she asks. “I could watch you sleep for hours, Anastasia. But I’ve only been here about five minutes.” She smiles as I lean down and kiss her. “Dr. Greene will be here shortly,” I remind her. “Oh,” she responds as if she had forgotten. “Did you sleep well?” I ask. “Certainly seem like it to me, with all that snoring,” I say teasing. Of course she doesn’t snore. “I do not snore!” she pouts. “No. You don’t,” I say, letting her off the hook. “Did you shower?” “No. Waiting for you,” I respond. “Oh, okay.” “What time is it?”

“Ten fifteen. I didn’t have the heart to wake you earlier,” I say. “You told me you didn’t have a heart at all.” That is a fact. I don’t have a heart. But somehow when Anastasia is with me, my heart is here, beating, loving, hurting, feeling. She must be the reason why I have a soul and a heart. Whatever souls are made of, hers and mine are the same, and she finds what I have lost, and brings it to the surface. Because she’s the guardian of them both. Where she goes, there goes my heart. “Breakfast is here. Pancakes and bacon for you. Come, get up, I’m getting lonely out here,” I say swatting her on her behind which is an effective way of getting her jump and get up. Anastasia stretches, and walk to the bathroom. I go back to the dining room, and wait for her as I eat my breakfast. Once I finish my breakfast I start reading the Sunday newspaper while drinking coffee. Anastasia emerges from the bedroom. Cleaned up and in one of the hotel bathrobes. The sight of her makes me smile. “Eat up. You’re going to need your strength today,” I tease her. I have big plans for today. “And why is that? You going to lock me in the bedroom?” she asks. “Appealing as the idea is, I thought we’d go out today. Get some fresh air.” “Is it safe?” asks Anastasia innocently. The worry creeps back up again. This is my reality now, and I have to keep being vigilant. “Where we’re going, it is. And it’s not a joking matter,” I add seriously. I look at Anastasia pointedly so that she understands the gravity of the situation. I don’t want her to be taking the problem lightly and become complacent, and get hurt. She blushes and stares down at the food on her plate as if they’re hiding the key to my statement. When Anastasia has only taken a few bites, we hear a knock at the door. “That’ll be the good doctor,” I grumble. I get up and walk towards the door. I let Dr. Greene in, and take them to the bedroom. This time I don’t want to wait around for Dr. Greene to give me a warning glare.

(Dr. Greene - one of our readers)

I continue to read the Sunday papers and some business reports while Anastasia is locked up in the bedroom with Dr. Greene. This time the doctor is taking longer than the last time. What are they doing in there? My gaze drifts to the door a few times. I’m in the right mind to go in and check on them if I didn’t think the no-nonsense Dr. Greene would kick me right back out. I pace back and forth nervously gazing at the closed door. No one comes out yet. I check my watch. Time doesn’t seem to move forward. They finally both emerge from the bedroom, Anastasia dazed and Dr. Greene tight lipped, and somber. I’m surprised and concern creeps up to the surface. No one says anything. It’s Sunday, so Dr. Greene wants to be on her way. I shake hands with her bemused, and send her off. After I close the door behind her, I turn around and gaze at Anastasia warily. “Everything okay?” I ask. She nods silently. I cock my head to one side. I’m completely worried that something is wrong with Anastasia. She’s never silent like this. After Dr. Greene’s last visit she was joking with me. “Anastasia, what is it? What did Dr. Greene say?” I ask. She shakes her head still reeling in from some shock. “You’re good to go in seven days,” she mutters automatically looking at a distance. “Seven days?”

“Yes,” she responds monosyllabic. “Ana, what’s wrong?” I ask again this time worried. (←The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel) She looks at me her eyes wide, wary. She swallows as if she bears some bad news. “It’s nothing to worry about. Please, Christian, just leave it,” she responds. What the hell? Nothing to worry about? Just to leave it? There is something she’s hiding from me. Oh my God! There is something wrong with her! Is she ill? Does she have a health problem? The Dr. was tight lipped. It’s all that Doctor-patient confidentiality crap! And Anastasia won’t tell me anything! I’m going crazy over here! I loom right in front of her grasping her chin; I tip her head and make her look into my eyes. Decidedly, I examine her face, her panicking eyes in an effort to try to understand her secret, and worry is rising in me leaps and bounds by the second. What the hell is wrong with her? “Tell me!” I snap at her demanding. “There’s nothing to tell. I’d like to get dressed,” she says and walks back out of my reach. I feel worried, and exasperated. She’s uncooperative, and I’m going out of my mind with all these scenarios in my head. I run my hand through my head vexed. “Let’s shower,” I say eventually. “Of course,” she mumbles, her mind is completely someplace else. I worry more, and get anxious. “Come,” I say morose; I take her hand tight as if she’s going to melt away from me. The walk to the bathroom is somber. Me, walking ahead decidedly and pulling Anastasia behind whose mind have gone to some other dimension, and she’s checked out of her body. God! What is wrong? I walk into the bathroom, let go of Anastasia’s hand, turn the shower on, and divest myself of my clothes. Then I turn to Anastasia, and start untying her robe. “I don’t know what’s upset you, or if you’re just bad-tempered through lack of sleep Anastasia,” I say gazing down at her worried, “But I want you to tell me. My imagination is running away with me, and I don’t like it,” I say laying down my concern before her so she can be open with me. In response she just rolls her eyes at me! What the hell? I glare back at her, narrow my eyes so tight; you can blindfold me with a strip of dental floss! She sighs, and answers:

“Dr. Greene scolded me about missing the pill. She said I could be pregnant.” “What?” comes out of my mouth completely shocked and out of my element. Blood drains from my face, and I freeze as I gaze at her questioning and the realization dawns on me that she could be pregnant, and damn! That can’t be! “But I’m not. She did a test. It was a shock, that’s all. I can’t believe I was that stupid,” she explains the rest, and a load has been lifted off my shoulders. I mentally sag. “You’re sure you’re not?” “Yes,” she confirms. I give out a deep sigh of relief. “Good. Yes, I can see that news like that would be very upsetting,” I say with relief flooding me. She looks at me frowning as if she’s not happy with my reaction. “I was more worried about your reaction,” she says. I’m bemused, look at her frowning. “My reaction? Well, naturally I’m relieved. It would be the height of carelessness and bad manners to knock you up.” “Then maybe we should abstain,” she answers snapping at me. Why is she mad at me? I’m confused. I look at her trying to solve the mystery behind her reaction. “You are in a bad temper this morning,” I assess. “It was just a shock, that’s all,” she says sulkily. I do love her with all her moods. Good, bad, insanely maddening, sad, petulant...everything about her is hot! I grasp the lapels of her robe, and yank her into my arms, embracing her. Holding and feeling her in my arms, her naked front is within the embrace of my nude body. I inhale her scent closing my eyes, and kiss her hair as I press her head in to my chest. I don’t want her to be mad at me. “Ana, I’m not used to this,” I murmur, unsure of how to behave. “My natural inclination is to beat it out of you, but I seriously doubt you want that,” I say truthfully. That’s the only way I’m used to. I’m not used to being left in the dark, and having to deal with female peculiarities, especially one like Anastasia’s. “No, I don’t. This helps,” she says as her embrace gets tighter around me. As we stand holding each other in our embrace for a long time, I feel soothed, something shifts within me realizing there are other

ways than what I have been used to with much more pleasant outcome. After I feel the tension leave Anastasia’s body, I release her, and say, “Come, let’s shower.”

I peel off her bathrobe and let it pool at her feet on the floor. We both enter into the shower. The shower in quite large and the prodigious showerhead rains enough water to easily wash both of us at the same time. I wet my hair, and reach for the shampoo bottle. I squirt some into my palm, and hand the bottle to Anastasia. She mirrors my actions. After almost sensually rubbing the shampoo into her hair, she looks relaxed her eyes closed, and she lets water wash the shampoo off her hair. The suds run down in rivulets through her back, her leg and finally reaching and pooling by the drain. I squirt some body wash into my palm and rub my hands together lathering. I reach to Anastasia’s body and start soaping her from her shoulders to her arms, underarms, her breast and her back. I gently turn her

around without saying a word; I pull her against me skin to skin and start washing her stomach, her belly, and between her legs, over her sex and her buttocks. I turn Anastasia around again, and this time we’re facing each other. Her gaze is lingering on me in awe, looking at me expectant. “Here,” I hand her the body wash. “I want you to wash off the remains of the lipstick.” Her gaze darts at mine anxiously. I look at her my mind made up. “Don’t stray far from the line, please,” I mutter in a tight nervous voice. “Okay,” she whispers. I watch her without blinking. She squeezes some body wash into her palm, and then rubs her palms together to lather the soap. Her hands move slowly but decidedly onto my shoulders and she gently starts rubbing on the lipstick lines. My body tenses. I have to concentrate closing my eyes. I have to find a happy place in my mind to let her do that. My breathing increase, my heart rate spikes as if my heart is trying to get out of my chest. Fear surmounts, and I try to soothe the little boy hiding inside me, telling him it’s safe. It’s only Anastasia who loves us, both the little boy and fucked up man inside us. Her fingers tremble, but she remains on course determined. She lathers my chest with soap with the softest of touches, and though the motions are simple, wholesome, and one of pure love, I still find myself swallowing nervously, I tense and my jaw clenches. Her hands leave my body for a brief time giving me a chance to sag in relief. She puts some more body wash in her hand and asks, “Ready?” in a tense voice matching mine. “Yes,” is my answering whisper, barely audible, laced with pure undiluted fear. She places her hands over my chest and once again I’m frozen in my place, helpless. My gut instinct tells me to push her away and run. Run far away from her, from her reach. I breathe in shallow, rapid breaths to loosen the fear, but my body gets tenser, rigid even, and every move her hands make spikes up the fear as if she’s going to jump the border any second, and invade into my dark territory, make me vulnerable. The pain and the fear are unbearable! Looking down at her, I see the streaming tears coming down in torrents, racing against the shower water. I can’t bear to see her cry for me. I’m not worth crying over. “No. Please, don’t cry,” I beg in an anguished whisper. (←Don’t Cry by Guns ‘N Roses) I wrap her in my arms, and hold her tight against me. “Please don’t cry for me Ana,” and with that she lets go of her

sobs and buries her grief stricken face into my neck. I can’t bear to see her like this! I pull away, holding her face, capturing it effectively in my hands, I lower my head and clutch on to her lips and lose myself in the kiss. “Don’t cry, Ana, please,” I plead against her mouth and lips. “It was long ago. I’m aching for you to touch me, but I just can’t bear it. It’s too much. Please, please don’t cry, baby.” “I want to touch you, too. More than you’ll ever know. To see you like this... So hurt and afraid, Christian. It wounds me deeply. I love you so much.” The reaffirmation of her love relaxes me, centers me and I’m once again in my safest place. I run my thumb across her bottom lip. “I know, I know,” I whisper. “You’re so very easy to love. Don’t you see that?” “No, baby, I don’t,” I say unbelieving. There’s nothing to love about me. “You are. And I do and so does your family. So do Elena and Leila. They have a strange way of showing it, but I know they do. You are worthy,” she says. Every single one of her words are like stabs into my dark soul no matter how loving. I am not worthy of anyone's love and affection. I am bad to the core! She has no idea what I like to do to her! No idea at all! Would she still love me if she knew? “Stop,” I say unable to bear it. I put my finger over her lips, and shake my head to stop her. Agony grips me to the core. “I can’t hear this. I’m nothing, Anastasia. I’m a husk of a man. I don’t have a heart.” “Yes, you do. And I want it, all of it. You’re a good man, Christian, a really good man. Don’t ever doubt that. Look at what you’ve done... what you’ve achieved,” she says fervently, between her sobs. “Look what you’ve done for me... what you’ve turned your back on, for me,” she says in whispers completely in awe. “I know. I know how you feel about me,” she says, and I look up fear gripping me right at my throat. It’s one thing that I know; it’s another for her to know! I’m not worthy of her. She can’t know that! She shouldn’t know that! I panic, but I stay firm in my place. I gaze down at her, bewilderment clouding my eyes. “You love me,” she whispers.

She knows! She knows! My eyes widen automatically in panic. My mouth is agape, unable to utter a single word. I can’t deny what’s already sealed upon my soul. I’m unworthy, tortured, and at this moment I’m baring all my soul to her to do as she wishes. I’m all hers. Take me as I am, Ana. “Yes,” I whisper. “I do.” (←Truly Madly Deeply by Savage Garden)

CHAPTER X

I am bewildered a scared by my own admission. I said it out loud! I have finally admitted, and named the feeling inside me for this goddess before me. My insides twist and I have this gut wrenching feeling that I’m unworthy of loving her. Anastasia looks joyous, happy, and she has this uncontained love and

longing for me in her gaze. (←In Her Eyes by Josh Groban) She looks so innocent, so enticing, so heavenly, and that makes me feel like shit; a man devoid of a soul should not be in love with a girl like this. I can’t bear the way she looks at me as if nothing exists other than her and I in the universe. I remember what Sydney Carton said at this moment. “I’m a disappointed drudge, sir. I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me.” This is how I thought of myself, and have denied my feelings for her from surfacing. “Love is a worthless emotion! It weakens the man. Same end goal could be achieved by other means completely bypassing the baggage love brings in” has been ingrained in me. Here I am, a man who is bare in all his existence, with a lot to conceal but nowhere to hide, who is worthless with no heart and no soul. In comes this angel extracting me skillfully out of my miserable existence. An existence full of layers, but when all is peeled away, when I don’t erect all my walls around me, this is what I am. Open to her. Scared... All this is new to me. I’ve never, ever uttered these words to anyone in my life! No to my parents, not to my siblings, not to any living soul! I never loved. I’m definitely like Sydney Carton today. “I have had the weakness, and have still the weakness to wish you to know what sudden mastery you kindled in me, heaps of ashes that I am, into fire.” Anastasia’s love is my resurrection. Sydney’s love was not requited. I was scared and shocked to know that Anastasia loves me, but now that knowledge is in me, that I know she loves me, I can’t do without it. “I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you,” Sydney said to Lucie. That was the only real way he could give his love for her. I too would do any sacrifice for Anastasia, save for the one to see her with someone else. I’d die before I let that happen! I am but a selfish man. Sydney Carton’s was a dream that ended in nothing. But he told Lucie that she inspired the dream. I don’t want this to be a dream with Anastasia. I want to live in it. I want to experience, keep it for me, and me alone! I am not the kind of man who would abandon a fight. And I fight to win. If that was what it would take to have her, I’d fight to have and keep her, with anyone who would dare to challenge me. Anastasia reaches up to me and clasp my face in her hands and kiss me... Kiss me in such a gentle passion; it makes the time stop, and my heart melts. Our feelings become floods that flow into each other through our kiss, our bond. Her gentle kiss turns into a passionate one as the hot water from the shower rains on us. Everything in me snaps to attention, and I groan and take her into my embrace holding her close to my body, to my heart, to my soul. Or is it the other way around? When she is this close, I get to feel that I have a heart and a soul. She is what feeds my soul, she is my soul. She is what makes me complete.

“Oh, Ana,” I whisper my voice hoarse with emotions I can’t translate into words. “I want you, but not here.” My love making is my way of expressing myself. Everything else is new to me. This is my way of making sure we are okay with each other, that we love, and it’s my reassurance to her. (←When You Say You Love Me by Josh Groban) “Yes,” she murmurs into my mouth just as desirous. I turn the water off in the shower, and holding her hand; I lead her out of the shower, and wrap her bathrobe around her. Then I get a fluffy towel to wrap around my waist. I get another towel and pull Anastasia closer to me. I turn her around and gently rub her hair with the towel, drying it. This simple yet wholesome act is so intimate, so familiar and yet there is a very sensual quality in it. No words involved. Just non-sexual touching...loving, cherishing one another. When I get through her hair, I wrap the towel around her hair, and as she lifts her head up to look into the mirror, our gazes meet. Anastasia brightens up, and a shimmer comes to her eyes. “Can I reciprocate?” she asks. I’m dying for her to touch me, but, the feeling is so new, so overwhelming, apprehension creeps back into me. I shove it down, and nod in the affirmative. I want to do this. Yet, I’m still nervous. Unblinking, my gaze follows Anastasia. She takes another towel from the pile, and she has to stand on her tiptoe to reach my head. I bend down to let her reach me easier, and she gently dries my hair. I don’t think I’ve ever allowed anyone to do this for me. Not even when I was first adopted. It hurt Grace a lot for not being able to care for me like a mother would want, but, I learned to be sufficient at a young age to not to allow anyone to touch me. Yet, to my surprise I find that I like her touching me like this, and for some unfathomable reason, relaxation creeps up and eases me, and makes me happy like a child. I’m elated beyond belief and grinning ear to ear like it’s the Christmas morning! “It’s a long time since anyone did this to me. A very long time,” I find myself muttering. “In fact, I don’t think anyone’s ever dried my hair.” “Surely Grace did? Dried your hair when you were young?” asks Anastasia. I shake my head in the negative as she’s trying to still rub the towel and suck all the water out of my it. “No. She respected my boundaries from day one, even though it was painful for her. I was very selfsufficient as a child,” I say too quietly. I had to be self-sufficient; in fact I think it was me who cared for the crack-whore instead of her mothering me. But I don’t want those memories to spoil what we have right this moment.

“Well, I’m honored,” she says sweetly. “That you are, Miss Steele. Or maybe it is I who am honored.” “That goes without saying, Mr. Grey,” she says tartly, still teasing. Once she’s done with my hair, she takes a hand towel from the pile and she moves around me to stand behind me. Our eyes meet in the mirror. She wants to do something else, but do I want to find out what that is? I still can’t help but give her a questioning look in the mirror. “Can I try something?” she asks. I know, she wants to dry me. Words get stuck in my throat as if they all piled up at once and blocked the exit. All I can do is to nod. She slowly takes the towel and run it down on my left arm, chasing the beads of water over my skin. I watch her movements in the mirror, gaze at the woman who single handedly opened me up like the Grand Bazaar. As she notices my gaze on her, she holds her gaze up to meet my eyes in the mirror, burning with emotion. Just then without breaking her gaze with me, she leans down, and places a gentle kiss on my bicep. It’s such a small, but infinitely loving motion, a shiver goes through my body and I gasp, my lips fall open to accommodate the rising need in me. She moves her attention to my right arm, and chases down the water drops with the small towel. Once she completes her mission, she runs a trail of kisses on my bicep, and oddly, I love the sensual gesture. How could something that scared me to death be so incredibly arousing? I feel a smile creep up to my lips. Then Anastasia’s gaze meets mine in the mirror again. She trails the towel carefully below the lipstick line in my back. I want her to touch me. I want her to feel me. Feel how much I want her, how much she, she alone means to me! A volcano of emotions rises up in me, and with the surface breaking with my declaration of love for Ana, my emotions rise to the surface, overflowing. (←More Than Words by Extreme) “Whole back,” I ask her quietly, “with the towel.” I need to do this. It’s been long enough. I need to conquer this last bit of territory in me with her. I inhale a sharp intake of breath to suppress the stirring devil always at bay wanting me to lose. I close my eyes shut. Tight! Anastasia does what she is asked quickly. When she is done, she removes her hand, and I finally exhale relief. She rewards my bravery with a kiss on my shoulder. Anastasia puts her arms around me to dry my stomach still in the safe zone. But having someone, even Anastasia touch me where I have not been touched in a very long time is a

Herculean struggle. I am apprehensive as if any moment she will stray from the line, though I know she won’t. “Hold this.” She says, and hands me a dry hand towel. Feeling confused, I frown looking at her. What is going through her beautiful head? “Remember in Georgia? You made me touch myself using your hands,” she explains. It was one of the best memories I’ve had. My gaze darkens with desire. Without saying a word, I look back at her in the mirror. My woman, the girl who belongs to me in every way possible is holding me as if no two other people belonged to each other as much as we did, here, and now. Her hand softly reaches up to mine, and I take it, trusting her. I guide her hand up to my chest drying it. Having control of what she is doing makes me feel better by leaps and bounds. I can do this. I’m in charge. She is surrendering her movements to my control. But going over the scars, triggers a new emotion, bringing torturous memories back that I’ve tried to keep away for as long as I can remember. My body tenses, but I am going to get through it. I trust her. I trust her. I trust her. I trust. Anastasia. It’s my mantra. Her hand in mine glides over my torso awkwardly. I’m never awkward in anything physical whether sex or exercise. But this... This is uneasy for me. Anxiety rolls through me. Time stops, breathing stops, just the amplified sound of the towel gliding over my torso. Nothing else. “I think you’re dry now,” she whispers in a low voice, and time catches up, the towel silences, and I sag. But something else exponentially grows in me. It’s the need I have for Anastasia. I have to have her, unite our bodies, our souls... I have to hold her, make love to her. Now! “I need you, Anastasia,” I whisper fervently. (←Make you Feel My Love by Adele) “I need you, too, she says like she’s asking for another breath of air. “Let me love you,” I say my voice thick with emotion. “Yes,” she says, I turn around faster than Superman and sweep her up in my arms, and as my lips seek hers, I worship her, love her as I am basked in all the emotions, implore her to love me, too...She is mine.. and mine alone. As I kiss her, consume her, devour her with my love, and desire; I realize that she’s the one I cherish, I want, I love with all my existence! Every way that I am... fucked-up, loving, moody, mercurial, demanding, possessive, in-love, enamored, scared, worried, worshipping, damaged, control freak, bossy, sex god... All fifty shades of me love Anastasia Steele!

I walk into the bedroom completely consumed in her, with my woman wrapped around my torso; I dump her onto the bed. “Let me make love to you Ana!” I beseech her. “Let me show you what you mean to me... Let me worship you with my body...” I say as I cover her body with mine. (←Your Body Is a Wonderland by John Mayer) The heat coming off my arms and body... and the tension mounting on my legs and chest. My lips go to hers claiming them, my tongue darting into her mouth, and seeking hers. Tasting Anastasia’s sweet mouth. She then traces her tongue on my lower lip, and every so slightly bites my lip, making me groan more. My lips trace hers, and I suck on her lower lip and she pants into my mouth. Fever courses through both our bodies. I trail kisses down to her throat and she arches her neck to give me easy access. I smile. My hand trail to the small of her back and lifting her off the bed slightly while my other hand is trailing down her side, her hip and her legs. Searing her. I trail down to her collar bone, then down to her breast bone, marking a path as I travel. I feel her pounding heart beneath my lips, her chest rising. She lifts herself off the mattress to meet my lips with her body. I grin. My lips move over her breast, licking, nipping, and teasing. She gasps some more. “Oh, please Christian!” she pleads. I take her nipple into my mouth, sucking, gently biting, making her gasp, and moan in pure pleasure. My right hand travels to find her other breast and I start working on it, palming. I take her nipple between my thumb and forefinger, and repeat the motions of my tongue’s ministrations with her other breast. She mumbles an incoherent version of my name. The world recedes and there is only Anastasia. Touch, taste, smell, hearing. I’m immersed in her in every way possible. (←She’s So High by Tal Bachman) “You have a smell that makes me hard instantly Anastasia...” I murmur. All heavenly, all woman, all my baby. And the sounds she makes...I could go on loving her, kissing her, riding her to eternity with the way she’s responding to me! We are so attuned to each other’s body. I’m incomplete without her!

She arches her hips and rubbing herself to my body. Sweet heaven! My lips travel down to her belly button and I nip around it making her gasp. Going down to her sex, my lips dart into her sweet womanhood, licking, darting in deep, she lifts her hip up into my mouth as I hold her buttocks and she gives a loud scream of delight.

“Please Christian! I want you inside me!” she begs. I can’t stand of not being in her when she’s begging like this. I groan! I reach the bedside dresser, and grab a condom, quickly ripping the foil; I sheath it onto my length. “You don’t know how much I like making you come Ana!” “Just fuck me already!” she groans, making me grin wide. “Yes, ma’am!” I say as I slam into her in one swift movement. My arms are just beside her torso, and as I rhythmically go in and out of her, my mouth covers hers again, making her taste her own arousal. I feel Anastasia’s muscles clenching around me, sheathing, cocooning, and delicious sensations course through the tip of my cock to the rest of my length, and I feel my entire body engulfed in the blissful pleasure, and I shout Anastasia’s name as we both reach our climax as shudders ripple through our bodies, and I collapse on top of her in a sated rapturous heaven. When we both come down from our coital bliss, we’re both sated. I lazily run my fingers through her body as we lie together. Anastasia is lying on her front hugging her pillow, and I’m on my side, just touching my woman. MY woman! MINE! (←Crazy For This Girl by Evan and Jaron) “So you can be gentle,” she murmurs all satisfied. “Hmm...so it would seem, Miss Steele,” I say, making her grin. “You weren’t particularly the first time we... um, did this,” she remarks remembering something. “No?” I smirk at her. That was the first time when I laid claim on her. “When, I robbed you of your virtue,” I say proprietary. “I don’t think you robbed me. I think my virtue was offered up pretty freely and willingly. I wanted you, too, and if I remember correctly, I rather enjoyed myself,” she smiles in her shy girlie smile, and biting her lip. “So did I if I recall, Miss Steele. We aim to please,” I say as my face softens, and goes series. “And it means you’re mine, completely,” I remind her. She’s mine in every way possible. “Yes, I am,” she says in a soft voice confirming. “I wanted to ask you something.” “Go ahead.”

“Your biological father... Do you know who he was?” This is a topic I don’t want to discuss, but its Anastasia the curious. It has bothered me that the man who abused me could have been my father. But thank God, he wasn’t! “I have no idea. Wasn’t the savage who was her pimp, which is good.” “How do you know?” she asks. “Something my dad, Carrick said to me,” I remark. She looks at me expectantly, waiting for more information as her satellite antennas are raised, and opened up. I smirk at her. “So hungry for information, Anastasia,” I sigh shaking my head in mock disgust. “The pimp discovered the crack whore’s body and phoned it in to the authorities. Took him four days to make the discovery though. He shut the door when he left...left me with her... her body,” I say. A scene that plays in my nightmares almost every night. Anastasia is horrified and her changes into one of a grim look, making her inhale sharply at the image. “Police interviewed him later. He denied flat out I was anything to do with him, and Carrick said he looked nothing like me.” “Do you remember what he did look like?” she asks. “Anastasia, this isn’t a part of my life I revisit very often. Yes, I remember what he looked like. I’ll never forget him.” The memory of a man who has done so much damage to my being is not something I want to discuss right after having mind blowing sex. Anger naturally rises in me. “Can we talk about something else?” “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you, Christian,” she answers. I know it’s in the past, but it’s like remembering the taste of a nasty food you ate right after you ate the most exquisite meal. It doesn’t go well. “It’s old news, Ana. Not something I want to think about.” “So, what’s this surprise, then?” she asks. Oh, baby, you’re always hungry for information! But, I can’t tell you what it is otherwise it’s not a surprise.

“Can you face going out for some fresh air? I want to show you something.” “Of course,” she responds. I smile like an idiot. I want so much to do this with her, and it’s my third favorite hobby in the world! I’m incredibly joyous! “Get dressed. Jeans will be good. I hope Taylor’s packed some for you,” I say. I quickly get up and get my boxers on. She’s sitting in the bed, and just ogling me! The little she-devil!

Up,” I scold her, as she keeps on gazing at me, and grinning at the man she owns...me. “Just admiring the view,” she says making me rolls my eyes. But she does get up, and we move efficiently as if we’ve lived together for year, completely aware of the nuances of our bodies, how the other one would act. Yet, this is something new to both of us, and we’re shy of this new kind of intimacy. We both finally get dressed, each catching the eye of the other in the mirror. Smiling shyly, occasionally touching each other fondly. “Dry you hair,” I order her after she’s dressed. “Domineering as ever,” she replies smirking, and filling my heart with joy. Though she sounds complaining, I know she likes it when I’m in charge. (←Take Over Control by Afrojack) I lean in and kiss her hair. Yes, it’s wet. “That’s never going to change, baby. I don’t want you sick.” She rolls her eyes at me, and I grin mischievously. “My palms still twitch, you know, Miss Steel.” “I’m glad to hear about it, Mr. Grey. I was beginning to think you were losing your edge,” she comes back. “I could easily demonstrate that is not the case, should you so wish,” as I take my sweater and drape it over my shoulder. I’m now dressed in my jeans and t-shirt, and if I need it later my sweater is available. I look at Anastasia. She has her pale blue shirt, and her jeans. She leans down and shaking her hair starts drying it. Good girl!

*****

Where are we going exactly?” she asks as we are waiting for the valet to bring my car. I’m not letting her into my secret yet. I just wink at her as I tap the side of my nose. Her curiosity just peaks my joy. But I won’t tell her. I can barely contain myself as it is evident she is hypothesizing in her head what where we could be going. I just can see those gears turn in her head trying to decipher. Man, I love this game with her! I lean down and kiss her gently. “Do you have any idea how happy you make me feel?” I whisper. “Yes...I know exactly. Because you do the same for me,” she says, and by the time the valet pulls up in my car, all three of us have ear to ear grins, all for different reasons. “Great car, sir!” the valet mumbles, as he hands me the key. I wink at him, and since I’m too happy today, I hand him a two hundred Dollar bills as tip making Anastasia gape at me. The valet is shocked, and he stumbles on his words, “uhm... yes, Thank you Mr. Taylor! Sir!” ***** After driving out of the hotel’s driveway, I merge into the traffic. I may have to delay my trip a little bit in order to rectify something for Anastasia. It bothered me that Leila was able to locate her car, well, because as Anastasia put it, it was the “submissive special.” But Anastasia has never been my submissive. She’s my girlfriend. She’s my more. She’s everything. Whatever our souls are made of, hers and mine are the same. When we are together, we just sync. She’s half of my soul, and half of my heart. (←Half of My Heart by John Mayer) We’re yin and yang. How then could I have given her a submissive special? It bothers me that I did that. It’s time I change this. “I need to make a detour. It shouldn’t take long,” I say as my mind is still busily occupied with my thoughts. “Sure,” she murmurs puzzled. I fall back to my thoughts as Evgenia Laguna’s hypnotizing voice sings in the background. (←Fifth Element Diva Song sung by Evgenia Laguna)

I look at Anastasia gazing at me through my peripheral vision. She’s different. She’s not a sub. And she’d be a terrible one anyway, I think smiling, but I love her for her rebellious spirit. It challenges my dominating side. I am determined to make her place different with me. So, no, a submissive special is not good enough for her. She has to be distinct. She’s my first in many ways. She’s the only woman I ever loved. I gaze at her with determination to prove her she is different to me. I exit the freeway and taking a left I pull into the parking lot of a Saab dealership. “We need to get you a new car,” I say. Her mouth drops open. I know this isn’t what she was thinking as a detour destination. “Not an Audi?” she asks dazed. “I thought you might like something else,” I mutter, almost shy. I know I admitted I love her, but everything is different with her, new experiences, new emotions that I never thought I had in me. I shift nervously on my feet. “A Saab?” “Yeah. A 9-3. Come,” I say taking her hand in mine as if someone else will claim it if I didn’t. “What’s it with you and foreign cars?” “The Germans and the Swedes make the safest cars in the world, Anastasia,” I state the fact. “I thought you’d already ordered me another Audi A3?” she questions. Oh, baby, I’m Christian Grey. No one will argue with me if I decided to not to buy something. “I can cancel that. Come,” I say pulling her. “I owe you a graduation present,” I say as I hold her hand. She is going to get her proper present today. “Christian, you really don’t have to do this.” “Yes, I do. Please. Come,” I say firmly. She sighs, and follows me. A New England accented salesman named Troy Turniansky, sees Dollar signs when he sees us. “A Saab, sir? Pre-owed?” he asks as he rubs his hands like those cartoon characters who are ready to jump at you before they can shake you down and take the contents you are possessing on you.

“New,” I say firmly, insulted. “Did you have a model in mind, sir?” “9-3 2.0 T Sport Sedan.” “An excellent choice, sir.” You bet it is! I’ve done my homework on it. “What color, Anastasia?” I ask her slanting my head. “Er...black?” she asks in a question. “You really don’t need to do this,” she says making me frown. Damn it, Ana! Don’t rain on my parade. If I want to get a car for my girlfriend, I’ll get a car! And, not black, if I can help it! People don’t see it as easily as other colors. “Black’s not easily seen at night,” I state the obvious. “You have a black car,” she retorts back, making me frown. Yes, but I’m a better driver. “Bright canary yellow then,” she says shrugging. I make a face to her choice. Be serious! “What color do you want me to have?” she asks finally giving up. “Silver or white.” “Silver, then. You know I’ll take the Audi,” she says. Blood drains from the salesman’s face with the prospect of losing a sale and his commission. “Perhaps you’d like the convertible, ma’am?” he asks, with a lot of enthusiasm. I’m not sure if I like the convertible idea. Too dangerous for her. “Convertible?” I ask, raising an eyebrow, looking at her. She flushes. I can make Anastasia come just gazing at her intently, but, I don’t want to pre-heat my girlfriend in front of this cheap suit. As Anastasia gets shy and looks down at her hands, I turn my gaze onto the cheap suit and ask, “What are the safety stats on the convertible?” “I’m glad you asked sir! This car has earned the top safety honors four years in a row. Along with the standard safety equipment such as side air bags, front standard, and rear, it has standard stability control, standard antilock brakes. In addition to that, we have traction control, and the vehicle did superbly on crash and rollover tests!” he starts and goes on nearly ten minutes talking about the cars

safety features. I’m pleased. As I turn away from the salesman, I find Anastasia grinning at me for some unfathomable reason. I’m both puzzled and surprisingly amused at her reaction to me. As the cheap suit is talking, I ask him if he has one on the lot. He says he doesn’t but he can locate the nearest one for us. I nod, and he’s happy to oblige. When he’s gone to his computer, I lean down to Anastasia and say, “Whatever you’re high on, I’d like some, Miss Steele.” “I’m high on you, Mr. Grey,” she responds. “Really? Well you certainly look intoxicated,” I say as I pull her to me and steal a kiss. “And thank you for accepting the car. That was easier than last time.” “Well, it’s not an Audi A3.” I smirk. A submissive edition is not suitable for her. “That’s not the car for you,” I say. “I liked it,” she responds. “Sir, the 9-3? I’ve located one at our Beverly Hills dealership. We can have it here for you in a couple of days,” he says practically glowing. “Top of the range?” I ask. I don’t want a bare minimum for her. “Yes, sir.” “Excellent,” I say and take out my credit card to pay for it. “If you’ll come this way, Mr.” says the cheap suit, and take a look at my credit card. “Grey.” And easy as that, we purchased a car for Anastasia. Once our transaction is complete, I take Anastasia back to my car, open her door and let her back in. “Thank you,” she says grateful making me smile. Anastasia accepting a gift from me is always welcome. “You are most welcome, Anastasia.” When I turn the car back on, the music comes back up. “Who’s this?” Ana asks. “Eva Cassidy,” I say.

“She has a lovely voice,” Anastasia observes. “She does, she did, rather.” “Oh.” “She died young,” I state, somber. (←Fields of Gold by Eva Cassidy) “Oh.” “Are you hungry?” I say to change the topic. I don’t want to talk about death with Anastasia. Not a topic, I want to associate with her. “You didn’t finish all your breakfast,” I say glancing at her with disapproval. “Yes,” she responds. “Lunch first, then.” I drive to the waterfront heading north along the Alaskan Way. The weather is unbelievably beautiful. I’m next to my lovely girlfriend, having accomplished one task, we’re going to eat and then show her my other favorite hobby. As another song by Eva Cassidy starts as I turn left, towards the coastal road, and finally pull into the parking lot of the restaurant I want to take her. “We’ll eat here. I’ll open your door,” I say firmly, so she doesn’t come out on her own. I want to treat her, like the elegant woman she is. I want her to get used to being treated like a lady. Once I open her door, I take her arm into mine, and she gazes up at me smiling. The restaurant is by the marina. “So many boats,” murmurs Anastasia. The sea is calm, and the boats are lazily bobbing up and down as the water is lapping onto their sides. Sail boats are visible out in the Sound. The wind picks up and a wind gust rushes us by making Anastasia pull her jacket tight. “Cold?” I ask her pulling her closer to my body to keep her warm. “No, just admiring the view,” she replies. “I could stare at it all day. Come, this way.” I say. We finally make our way into the bar and restaurant with white limed walls, pale blue furnishing, and boating pictures on the walls. It’s a light hearted locale as I’m feeling today with Anastasia.

Dante recognizes me and immediately greets me. “Mr. Grey!” he gushes. “What can I get you this afternoon?” “Dante, good afternoon,” I grin, and we sit on the bar stools. “This lovely lady is Anastasia Steele.” “Welcome to SP’s Place,” he says grinning. Dante is African-American, friendly, tall, and has one large diamond sparkling from his left ear. “What would you like to drink, Anastasia?” Ana turns to look at me, questioning. “Please, call me Ana, and I’ll have whatever Christian’s drinking,” she says with a shy smile. “I’m going to have a beer. This is the only bar in Seattle where you can get Adnam’s Explorer,” I inform her. “A beer?” “Yes,” I respond grinning. “Two Explorers, please, Dante.” Our barman nods and immediately produces two bottles of beer and sets them before us. “They do a delicious seafood chowder here,” I inform her. I really would like her to try. But I don’t want to tell her that. I want that to be her choice. “Chowder sounds great,” she smiles. “Two chowders?” Dante asks. “Please,” I reply grinning. Dante produces our bowls of chowder and it’s divine! First time in my life, I open up to someone, willingly. We start chatting about how I started my company, Grey Enterprises Holdings. What inspired me. I talk about my passion in fixing problem companies, developing new technologies, and making the land more productive for the third world. But I also want to know my girlfriend better. “What’s Ray like?” I ask, and she delves into Ray, and her childhood. I question her why despite being a good father, her mother left him. She sighs, and talks about their characters and the eventual incomparability between the two. She talks about Montesano, and how she loved the forests, and green, making me smile as if it’s not green enough in Seattle. She talks about her parents’ divorce, and

her move to Texas and Vegas. I’m so grateful that she didn’t stay in those states. She bombards me with questions about my favorite movies, books and of course she already knows my taste in music. The more we talk, the more I’m amazed to find out how we’re part of each other. How we like the same things, and we can empathize with each other. Two people getting to know each other. By the time we finish our meal, I don’t know how time flew by. It’s passed 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon. I pay the bill, and Anastasia and I leave the restaurant. “This is a great place. Thank you for the lunch,” she says, as I take her hand and we leave the restaurant. “We’ll come again,” I say, and we leisurely walk on the waterfront. “I wanted to show you something,” I say excited, looking forward to her reaction. “I know...and I can’t wait to see it, whatever it is,” she replies. As we walk along the marina, we see people on their last day of vacation and just spending time with family, children, walking their dogs, watching the boats, playing with their children, running along the promenade. I lead her down to the marina where yachts are docked. I take her in front of my catamaran. It’s sizeable of course.

“I thought we’d go sailing this afternoon. (←Sailing by Rod Stewart) This is my boat,” I say and I feel somehow shy about it, never having brought anyone here except of course my family. It’s actually fiftytwo feet. It has two sleek white hulls, a deck, a large cabin, and a very tall mast. “Wow!” is all she could say in awe. “Built by my company,” I say proudly. In a way it’s my baby. “She’s been designed from the ground up by the very best naval architects in the world and constructed here in Seattle at my ship yard. She has hybrid electric drives, asymmetric dagger boards, a square-topped mainsail...” I start explaining, like an overly enthusiastic father who talks about little Johnny’s achievements. “Okay... you’ve lost me, Christian,” Anastasia says unable to take all the information in. I can only grin in response. I dumb the info down. “She’s a great boat.” “She looks might fine, Mr. Grey.” “That she does, Miss Steele,” I respond. “What’s her name?” I take her hand, pull her to the side of the catamaran. In the big letters it says The Grace. Anastasia looks at me surprised. “You named her after your mom?” “Yes,” I reply “Why do you find that strange?” She just shrugs in surprise. Maybe it’s my rigid demeanor around my mother. I have never been good at showing emotions. It’s a very new concept for me, but I still love my mother. “I adore my mom, Anastasia. Why wouldn’t I name a boat after her?” She flushes, chagrined. “No, it’s not that...it’s just..” she sighs trying to formulate her thoughts. “Anastasia, Grace Trevelyan saved my life. I owe her everything.” In fact I wouldn’t be standing before Anastasia had it not been for my mother. She’s my savior. Anastasia finally takes a good look at my demeanor, and sees my reverence of my mother. She is in awe. “Do you want to come aboard?” I ask enthusiastically. “Yes, please,” she says her eyes alight with excitement.

I grasp her hand, and we walk over the gangplank and finally are aboard of my boat. We stand beneath the canopy for a little while. Anastasia takes in her surroundings. Seating for eight is available on the light blue banquette. She peers through the sliding doors to the interior of the cabin, and is startled by something. Mac, slides open the door coming out in his easy demeanor with his tall blonde, tanned and sea weathered skin. He’s in his faded pink short sleeve polo shirt, and shorts. Anastasia assesses his curly hair, brown eye, and his clothing. “Mac,” I say beaming. Mac is one of those people who are as close to a friend as they would get for me, with the exception of Dr. Flynn of course. “Mr. Grey! Welcome back,” she says shaking hands with me. “Anastasia, this is Liam McConnell. Liam, my girlfriend, Anastasia Steele,” I say by the way of introductions. Anastasia beams as I mention her as my girlfriend warming my heart. She and I are both still getting used to the idea, but I know that I want her for much, much more. “How do you do?” says Liam gathering his manners, and shakes Anastasia’s hand. “Welcome aboard Miss Steele.” “Ana, please,” she corrects him, blushing. “How’s she shaping up, Mac?” I ask him about my boat. “She’s ready to rock and roll, sir,” he says grinning. “Let’s get underway, then.” “You going to take her out?” “Yep.” I reply Mac. “Quick tour, Anastasia?” I ask. “Yes, please,” she beams. I take Anastasia inside the cabin. She eyes the sofa, and then her eyes glide over the curved windows, and her breath hitches as she gazes over the panoramic view of the marina. “This is the main saloon. Galley beside,” I point to the kitchen area.

I take my girlfriend’s hand, and lead her through the main cabin. She gazes at the pale wood floors, the modern and airy feel, clean, functional, and spacious. “Bathrooms on either side,” I point to two doors, and then I open the door before us, and walk us into the bedroom. The bedroom sports a king size cabin bed, and with the tradition of the other décor, it’s pale blue linen and pale wood. “This is the master cabin,” I say gazing down at her after closing the door. “You’re the first girl in here, apart from my family,” I smirk, “But they don’t count.” She flushes as she gazes up at me under my passionate stare. He lips part as she tries to suck in her breath to accommodate some emotion in her. I pull her into my arms, my fingers all tangled in her hair, I kiss her, long and hard, and lingering. She reciprocates, pulling me, tugging my hair, going to my ears, absently caressing my earlobes, and going back to my hair again. By the time we pull apart, both of us are breathless, and desirous. “Might have to christen this bed,” I whisper against Anastasia’s mouth. “But not right now. Come, Mac will be casting off,” I say taking Anastasia through the saloon, and pointing to another door I explain, “Office in there, and at the front here, two more cabins.” “So how many can sleep on board?” she asks questioning. “It’s a six-berth cat. I’ve only ever had the family on board, though. I like to sail alone. But not when you’re here. I need to keep an eye on you.” I open up one of the chests, and grab a bright red lifejacket. An idea comes to me, and I grin. Anastasia, in nothing but this lifejacket, and a great big smile. Now, that’s hot! “Here,” I say putting the jacket over her head, and tighten all the straps, as I contemplate the idea of her in this and nothing underneath. Some other time perhaps... Damn! “You love strapping me in, don’t you?” she asks. “In any form,” I say wickedly. What can I say? I can’t help it. I’m a very virile man, and I have a hot woman. There’s something sensual, exciting about strapping your woman, and having your way with her, and she trusting you with her body. Incredibly sensual, and damn fucking hot!

“You are a pervert,” she teases me. (←Everlong by Foo Fighters) “I know,” I say raising my eyebrows, grinning. “My pervert,” she whispers sweetly. “Yes, yours,” I say finally tying her securely, and grab and pull her and kiss my woman. I make a mental not to use this in a scene though. It’s too sexy of an image to let go. “Always,” I breathe, and release her. “Come,” I say grabbing her hand, leading her to upper deck, into the small cockpit. Mach is working the ropes at the prow of the boat.

“Is this where you learned all your rope tricks?” Anastasia asks me innocently. “Clove hitches have come in handy,” I say appraising her expression. Does she want to be tied up? “Miss Steele, you sound curious. I like you curious baby. I’d be more than happy to demonstrate what I can do with a rope,” I smirk at her. Her expression changes to one of impassive. Oh, shit! She’s mad! What do I do? “Gotcha!” she says grinning. Oh, baby, you pull that shit on me, scaring me half to death. I have to see what I can do to rectify that situation. This can be fun.

“I may have to deal with you later, but right now, I’ve got to drive my boat,” I say sitting at the controls, bringing my boat to life with a roar. Mac expertly jumps down to the deck below and starts unfastening one of the ropes, and moves onto another task. As Anastasia watches me in awe, I ease The Grace out of her berth and toward the marina entrance. People on the dock are watching our departure as this is one of the best looking boats in the marina. Anastasia waves back at the people with a smile on her face. I look over to her, and pull her between my legs and show her the controls in the cockpit. “Grab the wheel,” I order. “Aye, aye, captain,” she answers giggling. I put my hands over hers, and steer our course out of the marina and onto the waters of Puget Sound. When we exit the marina, we can feel the wind, and the current roll and tug beneath us. “Sail time,” I say, and grinning I hand Anastasia the wheel. “Here, you take her. Keep her on this course,” I say, and she is utterly horrified with the prospect, scared even. She gulps, her eyes wide, unable to string a simple sentence. I reach up to her face, and hold it. “Baby, it’s really easy. Hold the wheel and keep your eye on the horizon over the bow. You’ll do great; you always do. When the sails go up, you’ll feel the drag. Just hold her steady. I’ll signal like this” I show her motioning across my throat, “and you can cut the engines. This button here,” I point to the large black button which she can’t miss. “Understand?” Her chest rises and falls rapidly, but she responds, “Yes,” while nodding frantically, panicked. I kiss her quickly, and leave my captain’s chair for Anastasia to fill. I’m incredibly excited to bring Anastasia out here. I join Mac unfurling the sails. We untie the ropes, and operate winches and pulleys to get her sailing. Mac and I’ve done this many times before, so we don’t have to say much to know who needs to do what.

We finally manage to hoist the main sail, and it catches the wind and fills and billows into its grand size making the catamaran lurch forward. Then we run to the headsail, and it too finally files up the mast, catching the wind and stretching to its maximum width and length. “Hold her steady, baby, and cut the engines!” I shout motioning her, and she does, nodding enthusiastically while gazing at me. We are now sailing towards the Olympic Peninsula, gliding as if on air. “Mac!” “Yes, Mr. Grey,” he responds.

“Give me couple of hours with my girlfriend once we anchor, go ashore.” “Yes, sir,” he says smiling; I nod and moves about his about. I walk back to the control room. “What do you think?” I shout at Anastasia above the sound of the wind and the sea. “Christian! This is fantastic!” she exclaims like a child who just discovered her favorite toy, making me beam ear to ear. “You wait until the spinney’s up,” I say pointing toward Mac who is now unfurling the spinnaker which is dark and rich red. One of my very favorite colors. Color of passion. “Interesting color,” shouts Anastasia perfectly understanding me. I grin like a predator of course, and wink. Now, she knows too. As the spinney balloons out into its large elliptical shape, it puts The Grace into overdrive. Anastasia is looking at it quizzically, not understanding its function. “Asymmetrical sail. For speed,” I explain. “It’s amazing,” she says awed. Anastasia has a huge grin on her face, and as we head towards the Olympic Mountains and Bainbridge Island, the city of Seattle shrinks behind us. Everything is simply beautiful out here. Green, lush, tall evergreens, and the cliffs standing against the cold beating of the ocean, stoic. Blue seas, and clear skies with my woman at my behest; just a patch of heaven. (←Patch of Heaven sung by KD Lang) “How fast are we going?” “She’s doing 15 knots.” “I have no idea what that means.” “It’s about 17 miles an hour,” I explain. “Is that all? It feels so much faster?” It’s the wide expanse of the sea. I squeeze Anastasia’s hand. She just takes my breath away, all quizzical, learning, experiencing, and completely curious. “You look lovely, Anastasia. It’s good to see some color in your cheeks . . . and not from blushing. You look like you do in José’s photos,” to which she responds with a lingering kiss. “You know how to show a girl a good time, Mr. Grey.”

“We aim to please, Miss Steele,” I respond as I scoop her hair out of the way and kiss the back of her neck, warming her up for what’s to come later. “I like seeing you happy,” I hold Anastasia in my arms as we sail, and she puts her head on my chest, and out of all the storms we have been experiencing lately. Though we’re in the eye of the storm as nothing resolved as far as Leila is concerned, at this moment in this bubble we created here on my boat, it’s calm and peaceful. ***** About an hour later, we are anchored in a small cove off Bainbridge Island, one of my favorite spots to sail. Mac goes to shore as I asked him earlier, and that’s my cue. I grab Anastasia’s hand and practically drag her to my cabin as I don’t want to waste one single minute without being in her.

I stand before Anastasia, a man with a singular purpose, completely enamored with her, and intoxicated by her beauty. I quickly untie her lifejacket, and toss it on to the side without a single glance in its

direction. I have my desert, and I aim to claim it. I gaze at my woman intently with dark desirous wanton eyes. I bring my hands up to her face, and with the slightest of touches, I linger on her face with the tips of my fingers. She takes small shallow breaths. My fingers move to the column of her throat, to her sternum, and to the first button of her shirt. “I want to see you,” I breathe, and unbutton the first button; she parts her lips to gasp, already full of desire and ready to jump me. I lean down and kiss her parted lips. She’s already panting, and aroused. I like her seeing burning hot for me. “Strip for me,” I whisper, with burning eyes. Without breaking her gaze from mine, she slowly, leisurely opens one button. My eyes are on fire, only reflecting what’s in my soul. She moves onto the next button, and then the next, and finally she’s got the shirt undone. With a slight shake of her shoulders, she lets the shirt fall onto the floor. Her fingers reach to undo her jeans. “Stop,” I order her. “Sit.” She sits on the edge of the bed, and I’m on my knees, undoing the laces of her Converse shoes. First one, and then the other, pulling of each shoe, followed by her socks. I pick her left foot up, raise it to my eye level and first plant a soft kiss on the pad of her big toe, then without breaking my gaze from her eyes, I graze her toe with my teeth. “Ah!” moans Anastasia feeling the pull in her groin. I smile, and stand up, pulling her onto her feet, I order, “Continue,” and stand back to watch her. She lowers the zipper of her jeans down, and hooks her thumbs in the waistband of her jeans, and glides her jeans down her legs. Baby, you are sweet! Making a show for me. I try to hide my pleasure, but my smile creeps up, but desire never leaves my eyes. As she steps out of her jeans, she reveals her white lacy thong and her matching bra that just juts her breasts up as if thrusting into my hands. So fucking sexy! Without breaking her gaze, in one sexy move, she reaches back, and unhooks her bra. As she’s holding the cups, she slides the straps down and drops the bra off on top of her shirt. She hooks her thumbs to her panties, and with an expert ease, she slides them down to her ankles, and steps out of the gracefully.

Oh God! She is a sexy goddess! I am in love with this woman! What good have I done to deserve this? I have to make love to her. I have to have her, hold her, fuck her, and claim her all over again to be mine, on every fucking surface I own! I reach down and pull my sweater off, then my t-shirt without taking my gaze away from Anastasia. I quickly take my shoes and socks off, then I reach down to open my fly, but Anastasia reaches over, and whispers: “Let me.” (←You Were Meant For Me by Jewel) I exhale a breath to preserve my calm without jumping her. “Be my guest,” I say smiling. She steps towards me, and slips her fingers inside my jeans’ waistband, and tugs me toward her, and I’m a step closer, making me gasp at her taking the lead like this; I smile. She undoes the top button, and without even zipping my jeans down, she lets her finger move over my jeans tracing my sizeable erection. I flex my hips into her anxious palms, and close my eyes, losing myself in the ecstasy of the feeling. “You’re getting so bold, Ana, so brave,” I whisper, and bend down to kiss her deeply. She moves her hand over my half open jeans, and places her hand half way over my bare hips and half on my jeans, she whispers, “So are you,” against my lips. She moves her thumbs in slow, lazy, and small circles on my skin, making me smile. Yes, I’m getting braver, too. Only because of her. “Getting there,” I whisper. She moves her hand to the front of my jeans, and pulls the zipper down, and her hands move down on my happy trail onto my erection, and she grasps my length tightly. A low, guttural, pleasure sound makes its way out. We are so close; I grasp her into my arms, and as our breaths comingle, I kiss her again, but with slow ease, and love. Pouring out my soul to her with my kiss, stating what I’m unable to express with words. She too emboldened; moving her hands over my body in the safe zone, holding me tight. And my arms snake around her, my right hand is flat against her back, my fingers splayed as my left hand moves into her hair, fixing it to the ministrations of my mouth. “Oh, I want you so much, baby, it hurts,” I breathe. (←Have I told You Lately by Rod Stewart) This is all I can take without making love to her. I immediately pull away to take my jeans and boxers off, and

now we are both nude, nothing hidden, neither in body, nor in soul to have and to hold. Anastasia’s gaze changes to one of sorrow. “What’s wrong, Ana?” I get to her, worried, stroking her cheek with my knuckles. “Nothing. Just love me, now.” With her declaration, I pull Anastasia into my arms, kissing her, my hands in her hair. Lips merge, tongues are in a tango of their own, sucking and teasing, and dancing. I walk my woman backward to the bed, gently lowering her, and I lie down beside her. My nose running along her jawline, inhaling her unique scent, heady, intoxicating, arousing, I’m in ecstasy. “Do you have any idea how exquisite your scent is, Ana? It’s irresistible.” She can only look at me in awe, reverence, and complete, utter, unspoiled love. How can I resist this potion? I trail my nose down to her throat, over her breasts kissing, trailing, and committing her scent to memory. “You are so beautiful,” I murmur as I trail over one of her breasts kissing, and taking her nipple into my mouth and gently sucking. Her back bows off the bed, and she lets out an involuntary moan. “Let me hear you, baby,” I say. My hands trail down to her wait as my mouth lingers and worships her breast with my lips, sucking, licking, nipping, caressing, stroking, loving... My finger trail down to her waist, over to her delectable hips, to her round orbs of buttocks, as my mouth is lost in the taste of her breasts. My body is pure attention, aroused, desirous and I need to be in her. I grasp Anastasia’s knee, and hitch it up, I wrap it around my hips, creating my access to her blooming sex, making Anastasia gasp with pure carnal desire, and her reaction raises my desire for her tenfold, and make me grin on her skin. I wrap myself around Anastasia, and roll over, have her straddle me, in riding position. I hand her a packet of condom. Anastasia moves back to accommodate my substantial length and taking my manhood in her hands she strokes the every pulsing vein and hard ridge. To my surprise, she bends down, and kisses my cock, and takes me in her mouth. Her lips make a swirling motion, going around the tip, and my length, and

sucking, hard. Oh, God! I groan and can’t resist and flex my hips into her greedy mouth as she sucks me deep in her mouth, in and out. Licking, tasting, she sheaths me with her lips, up and down. She finally sits up and gazes at me. This woman can single handedly mind fuck me, make me desire her, torture me with one of her looks, bring me to the brink of ecstasy, and to the peaks of pleasure. I’m awed, and breathless, helpless but to watch her. She rips the packet as if there is no tomorrow, and sheaths my length with it. I hold my hand out to her to help her position herself over me, and she slowly descends over my manhood as she claims me her own. I fill her in, and feel her muscles squeeze around my cock and sensations ripple through my manhood to all over my body making me groan, a guttural sound deep in my throat. I place my hands around her hips and lead her movements up and down as I flex my hips to consume her from within. “Oh, baby,” I whisper, and suddenly sit up to be nose to nose with my woman, and I am as deep as I can possibly be in her feeling every muscle surround my manhood, filling her to the brim. She gasps with the sensation of fullness, grasping my upper arms, moving. I grab her head in my hands and gaze into her, feel her every movement, every flickering desire, every carnal need and want, and my eyes mirror hers perfectly. “Oh, Ana. What you make me feel,” I whisper, and kiss her with the intensity of my desire for her, most ardently. She kisses me back; we are connected at every possible point, making love, united body and soul. I am buried deep in her, feeling her, kissing her, holding her as she is moving up and down on my length. We are so close, I can touch her soul. “Oh, I love you,” I murmur, and groan with the feeling of unworthiness, a tortured feeling. (←I Would Do Anything For Love by Meatloaf) But I want to be worthy of her. Of my woman. My woman! I have to be the one claiming her now, and with one swift move, I roll over and take her under me without breaking any contact between us. She wraps her legs around my hips allowing me remain deep inside her. I adore her, and love her, and desire her. The feeling is so palpable so, strong and all consuming, I start moving and let the feelings take over me as I close my eyes. I moan with the pleasure consuming me. My boat gently sways in the water, almost mimicking my movement inside her sex perfectly. No sound of any kind other than our passionate breathing, and I savor her at this moment, the first time in my boat, slowly, at a leisurely pace, loving her. I put my arms around her head, and move my hands in her

hair, caressing her face, admiring her beauty and basking in our lovemaking, and feeling overcome, I kiss her. At this moment, we are one; body and soul. Two pieces finally found each other, cocooning, loving, savoring... Anastasia’s hands move into my hair, pulling me to her, demanding, wanting more of me, trying to consume me. Her hands move to my lower back in small circles. Her breathing starts accelerating rapidly as my rhythm bring her to the brink of the peaks of pleasure. My lips move onto her mouth ferociously, sucking and kissing, moving onto her chin and her jaw and nibbling her ear. I want to be all over the place all at once. My breathing increases as the pleasure mounts within me. We both start quivering; right there, almost, almost... the peak is in sight... She pushes her hips in synchronization with my movement, riding the feeling a little longer...getting higher and higher... and we are at the peak as I feel all her muscles inside her clench and tighten with her approaching orgasm. “That’s right, baby...Give it up for me...Please...Ana,” I murmur, and she is overcome. “Christian,” she shouts my name as if in a prayer, a litany upon her lips, and I groan hard, and we both come and undone in total ecstasy. At this moment, I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.

CHAPTER XI

If you told me a month ago that I’d be here in my boat with an angel like this, I would have never believed it. Yet, here I am, completely sated, utterly in love with Anastasia, who is asleep in my arms, in my catamaran we christened rather passionately. (←I’ll Make Love to You by Boyz II Men) I lean over Anastasia, and trail kisses from the corner of her eyes to the corner of her lips. “Baby, Mac will be back soon,” I say as her eyes flicker open to meet mine half asleep. “Hmm...” is all she can say still tired. I gave her a good workout. My boat bobs in the water lazily, reflecting our mood, and the light dancing above the water is reflected through small portholes over the cabin’s ceiling. “I would really like to lie here with you all afternoon baby, but Mac will need a hand with the dinghy.” Anastasia smiles lazily; her smile an invitation, love, sight of heaven all at once. “Ana, you look so beautiful right now, all mussed up and sexy. Makes me want you more,” I say. But, Mac is due soon, and

I don’t want to entertain him with the sounds of my girlfriend in the throes of ecstasy. I get up from the bed as Anastasia rolls over to her front still admiring the view. “You ain’t so bad yourself, captain,” she says smacking her lips in admiration. You’re killing me here! I can’t jump back into the bed right now. But, I move about the cabin efficiently and get dressed. I sit on the bed beside Anastasia, and put my shoes on. “Captain, eh?” I say dryly, “well, I am the master of this vessel.” She looks at me in awe, and admiration cocking her head to the side. “You are the master of my heart, Mr. Grey,” she whispers. (←Two Is Better Than One by Boys Like Girls ft. Taylor Swift) It is still hard to believe for me that this beautiful creature, this innocent girl could love me. I shake my head and bend down to kiss her. “I’ll be on deck. There’s a shower in the bathroom if you want to take one. Do you need anything? A drink?” I ask regarding her carefully. She has that silly grin on her face that is getting only bigger by the minute. “What?” I ask, wondering what is going on in that beautiful head of hers. “You,” she answers cryptically. “What about me?” “Who are you and what have you done with Christian?” she asks. Never too far, baby, never too far. That Christian is always under the surface, on the top, infused in me. I can only give her a sad smile. “He’s not very far away, baby,” I respond softly, forlorn. I shake my head to dispel the thoughts. “You’ll see him soon enough,” I smirk lightening up the mood, “especially if you don’t get up.” Then I reach over to her exposed two round orbs of delectable buttocks and smack her behind so hard, my hand leaves a palm print across both the cheeks pink in color. Anastasia yelps in surprise but starts laughing hard. “You had me worried,” she says. “Did I, now?” I say my brow taking the shape of letter V. She confuses me, a lot with all her mixed signals. How do you want me Ana? Dominant or loving, vanilla or kinky? (←Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars)

“You do give off some mixed signals, Anastasia. How’s a man supposed to keep up?” I ask reflecting my confusion as I lean down and kiss her. “Laters, baby,” I say smiling, and get up and leave to find Mac who should be now back on board. When I get back on deck, I see him just pulling the rubber boat and securing it. He gives me an acknowledging nod as he goes on his business. “Mac, as soon as you’re ready, we can leave back to Seattle.”

“Yes, sir,” he says in his usual cheerful demeanor. I’m startled by the ringing of my Blackberry. I usually have it on vibrate. It’s Taylor. I hope there isn’t a problem. I don’t want to spoil my great day with bad news. I brace myself for anything, and answer the phone. “Grey.” “Sir, we have completed a thorough search around the apartment, and all entry points. We found where Leila entered into the apartment,” he says somberly. “Where?” I say through gritted teeth. “The fire escape stairwell, sir. But we’ve secured everything.” So, Anastasia wasn’t dreaming; Leila was in the apartment at the foot of the bed, looking at her, trying to decide what to do with her. I try to push away the dark thoughts of what could have happened. But, this is progress. The apartment is secure now. “Great news...” “I wasn’t sure if she had keys to the building, but, we suspect that she did as all the evidence points that she might have had a key with her to the premises. So, we’ve changed all the locks.” “Good.” “Are you still out sailing sir?” “Yeah...” “Uhm... One more thing. We believe that Leila was still hiding in the building when you and Miss Steele left.” That bit of information makes me uneasy.

“Really?” I say through gritted teeth. “Yes sir. We believe that she was still hiding in the fire escape stairwell.” “The fire escape stairwell?” I ask. I looked out into the balcony, and I didn’t see anyone, but it was quite dark outside, and from what Anastasia said, she was wearing a black outfit. “The stairwell is not like the other buildings’ sir. It sort of curves, and if you duck enough, given her size, and given the fact that she was incognito\ she would have been completely. I checked it with Sawyer. Despite his size, he could hide pretty well, sir.” “I see...” I feel Anastasia’s gaze on me, and turning over I find her watching me. I leisurely walk over to her, and pull her into my embrace, kissing her hair. “Since the building as well as the penthouse is secured, will you be coming back to Escala, sir?” “Yes, tonight. And the hotel?” I reply. “I’ve taken the liberty to check you out after we did a sweep of The Grace sir. I’ve already collected Miss Steele and your belongings. You can just come home directly, sir,” he says. “Great,” I say and end the call. Mac having readied the boat, we feel the engines firing up. “Time to head back,” I say to Anastasia as I kiss her after one of the best days of my life, and take her hand and put the life jacket on, and secure it with a grin. ***** As we sail back towards the marina in Seattle, and I turn to Anastasia, and say, “baby, I need you to help,” I say. There is no time like the present if I want to teach her sailing, and take her out with me in the future. There’s a sudden gleam in her eyes. “Let’s furl the mainsail!” I shout over the wind. “Okay!”

“In order to furl the mainsail, you must begin by putting the boat head to wind. We have to put the boat into position. And to avoid any tangles, check carefully that the main halyard is free to run,” I instruct her, and she looks at me as if I started speaking pig Latin. “Whoa! Easy there tiger! Is this English?” she asks sheepishly. “I think you must have lapsed into Swedish or French. The only words I got are ‘wind, free, and run’, and I don’t know how they fit into the sentence!” she shouts. I grin wide at her assessment. I love teaching her, just about anything. “Come with me, I’ll show you.” I walk her to the jammer. I hold her hand tugging her to the jammer. “We first have to make sure that the lazy-jacks have been taken in and the mainsheet is freed. Take the halyard in slightly, to open the jammer.” “Uhm, how?” she asks. I show it to her, and she is observing me keenly. “Then, in order to avoid the sail coming down all at once, and to control it as it comes down, you need to keep a turn around the winch.” “Show me,” she says making me grin. I show her, and bring the mainsail down. Mac rushes to help fold it correctly. “Okay, Anastasia. Now that the sail is down, we need to cleat the halyard and close the easy bag,” I say. “Huh?” is her response which makes Mac laugh hard. “Do you want me show her mate?” he asks eagerly. “I got it Mack,” I say firmly, as he holds his hands in a gesture of giving up. “Now baby, we need to stow the halyards and sheets...” “Christian? What the hell is a halyard?” she asks making me grin ear to ear. I hold the halyards up and show her, “this rope used for raising and lowering a sail, spar, yard on a sailing ship is called halyard.” “Oh!” she nods understanding, “but why can’t you just call it a rope?” “Because it’s called a halyard.”

“Aha.. So when the ropes climb aboard a ship, they’re called a halyard.” “This kind, yes,” I reply grinning. She looks dazed with information overload. “Okay moving onto stowing the headsail, and the spinnaker,” I say. By the time we’re docked, Anastasia has been shown how to tie a clove hitch, a reef knot, and a sheepshank. That obviously is my most favorite part. “I may tie you up one day,” she mutters overwhelmed with all she had to learn. That would be something to see, though I don’t know if I could trust her with that knowing how inept she is in making knots. She may not be able to untie what she has tied. I smile at her and say, “You’ll have to catch me first Miss Steele.” The gleam in her eyes leaves her and sudden panic and worry take in its place. The thoughts of the night she left me come unbidden, and I know that’s what she’s thinking too. I go to her, and hold her in my arms without saying anything trying to reassure her, or maybe reassure myself that this won’t happen again. She looks up at me with love and emotion. (←I Melt With You sung by Nouvelle Vague) “Come; let me show you everything about my boat! I’m quite proud of it actually!” I say, and show her all the innovative designs we’ve used to build it, and I realize at this moment that I not only want to share my body with her, but my other passions-my passion for sailing, for flying, for green energy, for feeding the world! I want her with me for the long haul! Not as a disposable, an employee whose function is to occupy my playroom. She’s my everything! Why shouldn’t I show her everything that I’m about? As we approach closer and closer to the marina, as we watch city of Seattle appear in the horizon and get bigger and bigger as we sail, I sit on my captain’s chair with Anastasia in my arms, safely, silently. I put her in charge of the wheel, and I want her to learn to get comfortable with it. There is no place on earth I’d rather be right now than with Anastasia in my arms doing what I love. (←Sometimes When We Touch by Rod Stewart) “There is poetry in sailing as old as the world,” I murmur into Anastasia’s ear. “That sounds like a quote,” she responds making me grin. “Yes, it is. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.” With that she light up. “Oh! I adore The Little Prince,” she replies.

“Me, too.” ‘You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed,’ quote comes to my mind. I hope, I hope that Anastasia is in my life forever, because she alone captured, and tamed however possible my unconquerable heart. ***** By the time we make it back into the marina, it’s the golden hour, my hand covering Anastasia’s we steer into the marina. The rays of sun are still shimmering in the west over the horizon over the Pacific. But the lights from the city and the boats in the marina are now reflected over the darkening waters creating phosphorescence with twinkling lights. As I back The Grace into the berth, a group of spectators gather on the dockside. Naturally, this is a beautiful boat to look at, and one that does me proud. Once I’m in my allocated space safely, Mac jumps to the doc, and secures the boat to a bollard. It’s bittersweet that the trip is over, but, one I will not forget. “Back again,” I murmur melancholy. “Thank you,” whispers Anastasia grateful, and shy all at the same time. “That was a perfect afternoon,” she says making me grin. I loved this experience, and I would really love her to come with me, preferably alone, which means she needs to learn how to sail. “I thought so too,” I say thoughtfully. “Maybe we can enroll you in a sailing school, that way just the two of us can go for sailing for a few days,” I say. My thought brightens Anastasia immediately. “I’d love that! We can christen the bedroom again and again,” she says, making me hot and desirous. I lean in and kiss her right under her ear. “Hmm... I look forward to it, Anastasia,” I whisper in a husky voice with salacity. I pull Anastasia out of her dirty thoughts –I know because, I put them there, and take her ashore. “Come, the apartment is clean. We can go back,” I say. “What about our things at the hotel?” she asks. “Taylor has already collected them. We don’t have need to do anything.” Anastasia looks at me questioning. “Earlier today, after he did a sweep of The Grace with his team.”

“Does that poor man ever sleep?” asks Anastasia with concern. Why is she concerned about him? “He sleeps,” I answer her bemused. “He’s just doing his job Anastasia, which he’s very good at. Jason’s a real find.” “Who’s Jason?” “Jason Taylor.” Anastasia smiles affectionately after hearing Taylor’s full name. “You’re fond of Taylor,” I state noticing, eyeing her, jealousy rising in me. “I suppose I am,” she says, and her answer makes my heart stop for a second. Does she like him... a lot? I frown, jealousy rising in me. This is my woman! And she likes Taylor! Oh, no! No! My face falls. “I’m not attracted to him, if that’s why you’re frowning. Stop!” she scolds me. I stare at her without blinking trying to assess her expression. I worry... I worry that she’ll stop loving me. (←Fade to Grey by Nouvelle Vague) “I think Taylor looks after you very well. That’s why I like him. He seems kind, reliable and loyal. He has an avuncular appeal to me,” she explains. “Avuncular?” I ask. How so? “Yes.” “Okay, avuncular,” I say. I can live with that. For a minute I thought I was going to fire my best security guy. I give a sigh of relief, and this makes Anastasia laugh out loud. “Oh, Christian, grow up, for God’s sake,” she scolds me. She actually scolds me! My mouth drops open in shock, completely derailed by her reaction. I ought to. I know. It’s just... all bets are off when it comes to Anastasia. I feel jealous, protective...over protective, watchful, possessive, immature... and those are only a few of the emotions I feel when Anastasia is concerned. I’m new to this! “I’m trying,” I respond quietly. I really am. It’s just that, not only am I completely fucked up, but I am in love which is an exhausting combination. Her face softens.

“That you are. Very,” she says, and rolls her eyes at me, always trying, always pushing, all against my fucked up nature. I grin. “What memories you evoke when you roll your eyes at me, Anastasia,” I say. To my utter shock she responds, “Well, Mr. Grey, if you truly behave yourself, perhaps we can relive some of those memories.” And her response tugs at my heart strings, making me excited, want her that way; in fact my palms start twitching. I can barely contain the smile off my face. “Really Miss Steele. What makes you think I want to relive them?” I question her. She gives me a knowing smile. “Oh, I don’t know. Probably because the way your eyes lit up like the Christmas tree when I said that,” she says dryly. “You know me so well already, baby.” “I like to know you better,” she replies making me want her more at this moment. “And I you, Anastasia.” Mac comes to the dock to see us off. I shake his hand, and thank him. “Always a pleasure, Mr. Grey, and good bye. Great to meet you, Ana,” he says shaking her hand. Anastasia flushes, shy, probably thinking Mac has a very clear idea that we were dancing in the sheets. I’m quite sure he knew that and of course it’s perfectly fine by me, as long as everyone knows who Anastasia belongs to. “Good day Mac, and thank you,” she replies to which Mac smiles and he winks at her. Anastasia flushes even more. I take my girlfriend’s hand and walk on the marina’s promenade. “Where’s Mac from?” she asks curiously. “Ireland or rather Northern Ireland.” “Is he a friend of yours?” she asks and I consider this question. I don’t have friends, but he’s one of the people who could possibly be accounted as such. “Mac works for me, and he helped built The Grace,” I reply not completely knowing if he was my friend. “Do you have many friends?” she asks.

It’s complicated. I have a hard time trusting people, and am unable to cultivate that sort of relationship, and neither do I have any interest to do so. The only one I consider a friend is Elena. The thought makes me frown. “No, not really. Doing what I do...” I say letting the thought hang in there. “I don’t cultivate friendships.” My position in business, my predilections, always being the top dog... the reasons are endless. “There’s only...” there is only Elena, but I don’t say that. “Are you hungry?” I ask by the way of changing the topic. “Starving,” she replies. That’s music to my ears.

“Great! We’ll eat where I left the car. Let’s go!” I take her to a small Italian restaurant called Bee’s. It’s a small Italian bistro with good food. The hostess whisks us to a booth, and I order Frascati which is promptly delivered. It’s very supple, and velvety, sapid sparkling wine; goes down smoothly. Anastasia is studying the menu as if the secrets of the universe are written in it. She really must be hungry! I can’t help but keep gazing at her. When she feels intensity of my gaze, she looks up.

“What?” she asks. “You look lovely, Anastasia. The outdoors agrees with you.” Even the compliments embarrass her. (←I’ll Give All My Love To You by Keith Sweat) “I feel rather wind burned to tell the truth. But I had a lovely afternoon. In fact it was perfect. Thank you,” she says. Knowing that I made Anastasia happy today warms up my heart, makes me happy, accomplished. “My pleasure,” is all I can whisper. “Can I ask you something?” “Of course, anything Anastasia. You know that,” I reply, cocking my head to the side, I give all my attention to her. “You don’t seem to have many friends. Why is that?” I don’t think I’ve made a special effort to make friends. I haven’t thought about it, I had been occupied with business, or with my other contractual relationships. “I told you, I don’t really have time. I have of course business associates, but that’s not the same as friendship, I suppose. I have my family, and that’s about it – that is apart from Elena.” Anastasia, I notice conveniently ignores Elena’s name, and in a way her jealousy makes me happy. That means she too is proprietor towards me. “Don’t you have any male friends your own age that you can go out with and let off steam?” she asks. She knows me better than that. I have no desire in dressing up in matching football jerseys and painted faces to consume cheap beer and shout profanities at the opposing team. That’s just not me. “You know how I like to let off my steam, Ana,” I say as I give her a wicked smile. “For the most part, I’ve spent my time working, building up my company.” I’ve had to bypass a lot of things that my peers found normal. “That’s all I do, except sail and fly occasionally.” She probes further, “Not even when you were in college?” “Not really. Didn’t need to.” “Just Elena, then?” she asks with distaste as if she just swallowed a particularly nasty looking bug. I nod warily. “It must be lonely,” she replies forlorn.

Okay, we’ve been in this conversation long enough. And especially when Elena is mentioned a few times, I know her taste will go, and I like to keep having a good time, possibly way into the night. “What would you like to eat?” I ask and the subject is closed. She tells me she decided on risotto. But her mood has shifted, and she’s someplace else. Fuck! I knew it! Whenever Elena comes up, there goes her mood! She’s not talkative anymore, and she’s got that ‘Anastasia-checked-out-come-back-later’, look, her gaze is locked on her knotted fingers. “Anastasia, what’s wrong? Please tell me,” I plead concern lacing my voice. I get anxious when she’s like that. As if she’s going to decide against us any minute. It’s so fucking ominous! (←Love After War by Robin Thicke) She glances at me warily. “Ana, tell me,” I say fervently. Don’t scare me like that! Is it Elena? She’s old news! My heart is at my throat, ready to jump the ship any minute. She takes a deep breath. Oh God! It’s bad! “I’m really worried that this isn’t enough for you...to let off steam.” Why are you torturing me like this Ana? I’m doing all I can to make her happy. Wanting more with her...doing more, and yet she doubts me at every turn. “Have I given you any indication that this isn’t enough for me?” “No.” “Then why do you think that?” always say that... “I know what you’re like. Rather what you,” she says taking a breath, looking into my eyes. She adds in a lower voice unable to bring out all she wants to say... “What you...need.” What does she think I need? What would I possibly need more than I need her? Does she realize how she tortures me so when she says that? I close my eyes, and feel an approaching headache and rub my head. “What do I have to do?” I ask in a very low voice. Please tell me, so I do that to erase all your doubts!

“No, you misunderstand me, Christian. You have been completely amazing, and though I know it’s only been a few days, but, I fear that I’m forcing you to be someone you’re not,” she says worried, swallowing. (←All The Man I Need by Whitney Houston) “I’m still me, Ana. Completely in all my fifty shades of fuckedupness. I realize that I have to fight the urge to be controlling, but you must realize that this is my nature, and that’s how I’ve dealt with my life. And yes, I expect you to behave a certain way, and of course when you don’t” I say looking up to her, “it’s both refreshing and challenging. But we still do what I like to do. You let me spank you after your outrageous bid yesterday,” I say, realizing that she found a certain medium to do what she wants, but then, she cleverly appeases my needs in such a way that I couldn’t possibly want something or someone else. She’s as addicting as the air I breathe. If she was a certain brand of drug, I would only need her in my lows, and I would know that she’d be to my detriment. But, she’s like the air I breathe. I need her every second of every day and every night to be alive, to survive, and to thrive. She’s my lifeline, and she almost always forgets that. You can wean yourself of a drug, but of life? I can’t do that. “I enjoy punishing you. I don’t think the urge will ever but, but I’m trying and suffice to say, it’s not as hard as I thought it would be,” I say.

Anastasia flushes this time with desire, remembering what we did in my bedroom. “I didn’t mind that,” she whispers as if the whole restaurant would be listening.

“I know,” I say, remembering how much effort it took to get her in there after my sister stole her twice. “Neither did I, but, Anastasia, I want to tell you that this is all new to me. All these experiences... In fact, the last few days have been the best of my life, ever. I don’t want to change anything,” I say fervently, willing her to believe me. Anastasia lights up with my declaration. “They’ve been the best in my life too, Christian. No exceptions,” she declares, making me smile wide. Then she drops the ball on me. “But, you don’t want to take me into your playroom?” My face falls, blood drains, I get anxious. I don’t want her in there. I can’t! She left me, and I can’t handle what I become in that room. I can’t do that! “No, I don’t,” I say firmly. She shocks me yet again with her next question, “why not?” She’s almost scolding me. How could she be so imperceptive? Was I the only one in that room when she left me?

“The last time we were in that room, you left me,” I say in sorrow, reliving the moment. I can’t handle that experience again. My heart and my soul were ripped away from me. “I will definitely shy away from anything that could make me feel that way again. I have never experienced such devastation in my life; I’m unable to word it. I would never ever want to feel like that again, Ana. I’ve told you how I feel about you,” I say willing her to understand what loving her means to me. “But, Christian, it is hardly fair to you. I feel that it can’t be very relaxing for you...you know, to be constantly keep feeling concerned about how I feel. I know you’ve made so many changes for me, and I feel...” she sighs, “I feel I should at least reciprocate in some way. I don’t know, perhaps, try some role playing games,” she says going completely crimson before me. “You do reciprocate Ana, and more than you know. Please, baby, please don’t feel like this,” I say with fear creeping into my eyes. I remember that when she left me, her main fear was that she would never be enough, or that we wouldn’t be compatible. I don’t want her to think that way. I can’t handle it. “Baby, it’s just been one single weekend,” I say completely alarmed. “You need to give us some time. I thought a great deal about us last week when you left,” I say swallowing; finding it hard to say the words. “We need time. You need to trust me, and I need to trust you. Maybe in time we can indulge, but

I like how you are now, how we are together. I like seeing you this happy, and this relaxed and carefree, and the knowledge that I had something to do with it,” I say stopping, remembering that the photographer made her at ease, in those photos. I was jealous then. I wanted to be the one who gave her those smiles, those easy grins, and relaxes, happy, content look on her face. “I have never...” I say unable to finish the sentence. I can’t explain it to her. Exasperated I run my fingers through my hair. I can’t even think of someone else making her that happy even hypothetically. If she leaves again, leaves me, I have nothing... nothing of value left; the thought is unbearable! (←I Have Nothing by Whitney Houston) “We have to walk before we can run,” I say grinning remembering Flynn. “What’s so funny?” she asks puzzled. “Oh, it’s Flynn. He says this all the time, and I’m surprised that I’m quoting him.” “A Flynnism,” she says smiling making me laugh. “Yes, exactly,” I reply. When our food is served, I remember how hungry I am. “You know where the best Italian food is?” “In Seattle? I don’t know,” she says. “No, I mean anywhere in the world. The best Italian food is near Positano, Italy, called Donna Rosa. It’s a small town called Montepertuso. But the food is refined, and exquisite, and incredibly fresh and completely delicious. Have the best Italian wines, and there are small dining rooms, and a terrace if you wish to eat there, and completely elegant,” I say, and Anastasia looks at me adoringly, completely captivated by what I have to say. On our drive to Escala, I think back the day we’ve had. It was an incredibly perfect day. I loved every minute of it. Eva Cassidy is singing in the background on the drive back, and I’m lost in thought. (←I Know You by Heart by Eva Cassidy) It worries me that she thinks what we have may not be enough. What we have is what I need! Does she know that I would do anything to keep her in my life? The greatest punishment anyone could invent for me is to separate her from me. It’d be my torment. It’d be like a half killed mouse by a cat - where there is no saving. A doomed existence... When she wasn’t with me, I was surrounded by her image, everywhere. Everywhere I looked, I’d see her. I thought I’d go out of my mind! And here she sits

innocently, the one who holds the power of my personal heaven and hell. She thinks that she’s not enough for me, that she may not be enough someday. No one was enough for me, as if I had a grudge against the universe, nothing was good enough. Nothing was sufficient! I had this urge to always move forward, always progress, always the next thing, always wanting and never being fulfilled! What torture that had been. I kept forging. I never realized that I was seeking my reckoning for...existing! But when I met Anastasia, everything slowed down, shifted and my eyes focused, on her alone. Does anyone know how torturous it is to seek something and not know what it is? And what a heavenly sight it is to finally find it? The world was not enough for me to fill that gaping hole in me. Nothing was enough. And yet she came into my life, and the gap has been filled, and now I want to give her the world. As I get closer to Escala tension grips me and radiates through my pores. My eyes dart around to see if Leila is around, somewhere. I’m not nervous for myself. I’m nervous for the danger Leila is creating for Anastasia. I’m worried about my deepest fears coming true. Losing Anastasia in a way I can never recover her. I pull into Escala’s garage as my mouth goes into a grim line. I see Sawyer patrolling, and the violated Audi has already been removed. Sawyer doubles his speed and comes and opens Anastasia’s door soon after I park beside my SUV. (←Highway to the Dangerzone – Top Gun Soundtrack)

Anastasia greets Sawyer. “Miss Steele,” he says nodding, “Mr. Grey.” “No sign?” I try to ask discreetly.

“No, sir,” is his reply. I quickly make it to Anastasia’s side, and grab her hand, and take her to the elevators double time. Knowing that Leila was here, right by the foot of my bed, possibly with a gun in her hand trying to decide whether or not to shoot the only woman I ever loved is killing me inside. As soon as we set foot in the elevator, I turn to Anastasia. “You are not allowed out of here alone. You understand?” I say snappishly. “Okay,” she says, and as I expect her to frown or argue, she smiles. “What’s so funny?” I ask amused. “You are,” she replies still smiling. “Me? Miss Steele? Why am I so funny?” I ask pouting. “Don’t pout,” she chides. “Why ever not?” I ask questioning even more amused. “Because,” she says slowly, “your pouting has the same effect on me as I have on you when I do this,” she says, and bites her lip.

“Really?” I ask pouting again. She, not only has the key to my heart, but also to my libido! I can’t help myself but lean down and kiss her chastely. But Anastasia has other ideas. Her fingers curl into my hair, and pull me to her hard! That one contact point is not enough, and I find myself grabbing her and

pushing her against the elevator walls while my hands hold and wrap her face, pulling her to me, trying to merge with her. Our tongues thrust against each other violently. Lips molding, sucking, wrapping into each other! Our breaths are mingled, passion is risen, and the anxiety is through the roof! I want to fuck her right here to declare that we are alive and together and that she is mine, and I am hers! (←All About Us by T.a.t.u) All too fucking soon the elevator door dings open as we reach to my penthouse. My hands are still on her face, and my lips are still on hers, my hips are pinning her to the wall, my erection digging into her, and if I had not known that Taylor is discreetly standing on the other side of the foyer, I’d fuck her right here! “Whoa!” I murmur panting into her mouth. “Whoa!” she mirrors my feelings. My lips are still on hers, I gaze into her. “What you do to me, Ana,” I say, barely being able to pull myself from her as I trace her bottom lip with my thumb. Taylor discreetly moves away from the line of sight. Anastasia reaches up and kisses the corner of my mouth, and whispers. “What you do to me, Christian,” she whispers. I’ve got to have her, and have her soon. I hold her hand, barely holding back, “Come,” I order, and desire coursing through my body. “Good evening, Taylor,” I say finally recognizing him. “Mr. Grey, Miss Steele,” he says cordially. “I was Mrs. Taylor yesterday,” Anastasia blurts out grinning, making my main security detail flush all sorts of color I haven’t seen him in. “That has a nice ring to it, Miss Steele,” he says as if it is just so. “I thought so, too,” she says back to him, and anger rises up in me. She fucking knows how jealous I get! Why the hell is she doing this? She is my fucking woman! Why is she flirting with my security? My hands automatically tighten around Anastasia’s and I scowl.

“If you two have quite finished, I’d like to debrief,” I glare at Taylor. I know Anastasia doesn’t have a brain to mouth filter most of the time. But, I expect better from my security. Taylor cringes under my glare. “I’ll be with you shortly. I just want a word with Miss Steele,” I say, and send Taylor to his office. I drag Anastasia by the hand to my bedroom, and close the door, sexual tension and jealousy radiating from every single pore and follicle of my body. “Don’t flirt with the staff, Anastasia!” I scold her. She opens her mouth to say something smart. I look at her daring. She closes her mouth. Then having decided what she’s going to say, “I wasn’t flirting. I was being friendly. There’s a difference,” she says petulantly. “Don’t be friendly with the staff or flirt with them. I don’t like it!” Her face falls, her carefree features lost. She hangs her head down, and looks at her fingers. She’s killing me! “I’m sorry,” she murmurs. I reach down, and hold her chin up, cupping her face, making her meet my eyes. “You know how jealous I am,” I whisper. I want her to know. Losing her in any shape or form is my greatest fear. I just can’t take it! (←Set Fire to the Rain by Adele) “You have no reason to be jealous, Christian. You own me body and soul,” she replies. I wish I knew that for sure. How could I own her body and soul? How? How could she love me that much? My mind can’t wrap around it. I lean down and kiss her, and still feeling uneasy, still unable to grasp whether she loves me as much as she says she does, and whether she can continue to love me despite of all my fucked-up shit! “I won’t be long. Make yourself at home,” I say, still sulking, still jealous, still reeling in from the fear of possibility of losing her. I walk into Taylor’s office or the ‘situation room’ as I dubbed it. “Taylor, I don’t want you flirting back to Anastasia,” I say without a preamble. He flushes. “Beg your pardon sir?”

“Anastasia can sometimes be overly friendly. It’s part of her nature. If she does that, nip it in the bud. Courteous professional, is the behavior I’m looking for. Don’t indulge her.” He flushes some more. I change the topic. “Now, debrief me of the security measures you and your team have taken,” I say, and that topic receives almost a welcome mat from Taylor who has been uncomfortable with the topic of Anastasia. Taylor explains the changed locks, how they discovered where Leila hid, and how he disposed of Anastasia’s now defiled Audi. “Has Anastasia’s belongings been moved to my room?” “Yes, sir. Her clothes have been relocated to your closet, and her other belongings, her laptop, iPad, and other personal items are now in your bedroom.” I nod satisfied. “Great!” I say. That’s another step I have taken to make Anastasia my ‘more’. I have to have her day and night. I can’t even bear the thought of her in another room. She gives me peace. She’s my panacea for every problem I have, save the ones she’s creating herself, of course, but even those are welcome distractions for me.

I leave Taylor’s room to go back to Anastasia preoccupied with thoughts that Leila was right here, disturbed enough to harm Anastasia. She could have, and it bothers me. I look for Anastasia. She’s not in the living room. I go to my room, and find her in the walk in closet. She’s dumbstruck, staring at the clothes hanging that are now sharing space with mine. “I’m glad they’ve managed to move them,” I say to her, still distracted with the thought of Leila. “What’s wrong?” she asks when she sees my face. “Taylor thinks Leila was getting in through the emergency stairwell. She must have had a key. All the locks have been changed. The security team has done a sweep of every single room, and nook and cranny in the entire apartment. Clearly she’s not here.” This anxiety is killing me. That she might find Anastasia and do some harm to her. “I wish I knew where she was. She’s evading all our attempts to find her when we all know that she needs help, desperately.” She comes closer and holds me into her embrace. I can’t help but hold her back and kiss the top of her head.

“What will you do when you do find her?” she probes. “Dr. Flynn has a place.” “What about her husband?” He doesn’t care jack shit about her! “He’s washed his hands of her. Her own family lives in Connecticut. But I think she’s just very much on her own out there, wherever she is now.” “That’s sad,” Anastasia comments. “Are you okay with all your belongings being here? I really want you to share my room,” I ask. I not only want it, but I need it. I need her, with me at all times. “Yes.” “I want you sleeping with me. I don’t have nightmares when you’re sleeping with me.” “You have nightmares?” she asks. This is news to her. “Yes.” She just squeezes me tighter in her embrace. “I was just getting my clothes ready for work tomorrow,” she states softly. What? She can’t go! “Work!” I bark. “Yes, work,” she replies. She can’t go to work. Leila is out there, God knows what she’s planning to do! “But Leila, she’s out there,” I pause, and don’t want to bring the rest of that thought. “I don’t want you to go to work.” She doesn’t need to. I can take care of her! “Christian, that’s completely ridiculous. I have to go to work.” “No, you don’t!” I retort. “I have a new job which incidentally I enjoy. Of course I have to go to work Christian.” “No, you don’t!” I repeat enunciating.

“Do you think I’m going to stay here twiddling my thumbs while you Mr. Grey are off being the Master of the Universe?” she asks. “Well, frankly, yes.” I say. She sighs. “Christian, I need to go to work.” “No, you don’t.” “Yes. I. Do,” she says also enunciating slowly. Does she know all the security risks she’s getting herself involved? “It’s not safe for you out there.” “Christian, please. I need to work for a living, and I’ll be perfectly fine.” God, give me strength with this woman! She’s stronger than the devil’s hind legs! “You don’t need to work for a living, and how do you know you’ll be fine?” I raise my voice. What the hell am I here for? Am I not capable of taking care of my woman? Is it not enough that I work and make money for her? She’ll want for nothing! I’m getting angrier by the minute. “For God’s sake, Christian! Leila was standing at the end of your bed, right there!” She says pointing. “But she didn’t harm me. And I do need to work. I don’t want to be beholden to you. I have my student loans to pay,” she explains. She puts her hands on to her hips, her fighting stance. She will fight tooth and nail with this. My anger is flashing through my eyes, and I am not supposed to spank or punish her! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! “I don’t want you going to work,” I state firmly. “It’s not up to you, Christian. This isn’t your decision to make.” The hell it isn’t! This is one exasperating, maddening, sexy as hell, and I will take you to hell kind of woman! We glare at each other, neither backing down. I am exasperated; my hands run through my hair. What’s my next best option? Think Grey, think. “Sawyer will come with you,” I say. That’s the extent of my compromise. “What? Christian! That’s not necessary. You’re being irrational,” she says.

Fuck that! “Irrational?” I practically growl. “Either he comes with you, or I will really be irrational and keep you here,” I say menacingly. And don’t push me Ana, I will fucking do it! You don’t know the extents I will go to protect you! (←Everything I Do by Bryan Adams) “How, exactly?” she asks. “Oh, I’d find a way, Anastasia. Don’t you dare to push me.” “Okay!” she says finally conceding. “Okay,” she says holding both her hands up in a gesture saying ‘you win’. We’re still scowling at each other. “Fine. Sawyer can come with me if it makes you feel better,” she repeats rolling her eyes. That’s about all I can take without giving her a spanking! I take a step towards her with a menacing expression, and she immediately takes a step back. I close my eyes. Relax! Relax! Breathe in, breathe out! Ten...nine...eight...seven...six...five...four...three...two...one... I run both my hands through my hair. Completely nervous, exasperated, and barely in control. I have to change topics. Breathe Grey! Breathe! “Shall I give you a tour?” I ask taking her by surprise. “Okay,” she says her eyes wary. I take her hand, and squeeze it softly. “I didn’t mean to frighten you,” I say, worried that she might think I’d revert to my old ways. “You didn’t. I was just getting ready to run,” she says. What?!? No!!! “Run?” I ask her, scared. When I fear that everyone else will take her away from me, I don’t want to be the one to make her run from me. “I’m joking!” she says, shaking her head. I take her around the apartment, showing her all the rooms. There are four bedrooms if you count the playroom, and I show her Taylor and Mrs. Jones’ wing with their own kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms-one for each. When I show her the TV room, opposite to my office, she smirks.

“Mr. Grey, you do have an Xbox after all?” she says. “Yes, but I’m crap at it. Elliot beats me all the time. It was funny that you meant this room was my playroom,” I say grinning back at her. Guess, I need distraction too. “I’m glad you find me amusing Mr. Grey,” she mocks me. “That you are Miss Steele - that is when you’re not being overly exasperating, of course.” “Mr. Grey, I’m only exasperating when the aforementioned person is unreasonable.” “Me? Unreasonable?” I question her. “Yes, Mr. Grey. Unreasonable could very well be your middle name.” “I don’t have a middle name,” I say. “Well then, Unreasonable would suit you.” “Oh, I think it’s all a matter of opinion, Miss Steele.” “I would be interested in Dr. Flynn’s professional opinion,” she says making me smirk. “I thought Trevelyan was your middle name.” “No. Last name.” “But why don’t you use it?” “Because it’s too long. Come,” I order taking her hand, we pass through the utility room, my office, and the wine cellar into Taylor’s large mission center, a.k.a. the ‘situation room’. Taylor is watching the monitors. The balcony, the stairwell, service elevator, and the foyer, are all monitored.

“Hi, Taylor. I’m just giving Anastasia a tour,” I say when we interrupt his work.

He nods without a smile. He’s taken the professional courtesy to a new level. Anastasia smiles at him, and he nods at her politely without a smile. I don’t want Anastasia to dwell too much on the change of his demeanor, so I take her hand and move on to the library.

“And of course, you’ve been in here,” I say as I open the door. Anastasia eyes the billiard table. “Shall we play?” she asks. I’m surprised at her enthusiasm and smile at her. “Okay. Have you played before?” I ask. “A few times,” she says nonchalantly, and I scrutinize her expression. Oh, baby, you’re lying. “You are a hopeless liar, Anastasia. I believe you’ve either never played before, or....” or she’s mastered it. But she cuts me off. “Frightened of a little competition?” she taunts me, licking her lips as if her winning is a sure thing. “Afraid of a little girl like you?” I tease back. “How about a wager then, Mr. Grey?” she asks. Hmm. Possibilities. “So, you’re that confident, Miss Steele?” I smirk and shocked of course. “What would you like to wager?” “If I win, you’ll take me back into the playroom,” she says. Why? What? Why?!? “And if I win?” I ask, still trying to reel in from what she asked for the wager. “Then it’s your choice,” she says. That has possibilities. Oh, the things I can ask for.... I smirk having decided. “Okay, deal. Do you want to play pool, English snooker, or carom billiards?”

“Pool, please. I don’t know any other games.” I take the large leather case under one of the bookshelves housing the pool balls. I rack the balls on the baize, and hand Anastasia a cue and some chalk. “Would you like to break?” I ask. I can give her a head start. I know I will win. I never lose, not when I want something desperately. “Okay,” she says, and chalks the end of her cue, blowing the excess. She then stares up at me with that look that says I want you. My eyes darken with desire. She lines up one of the white balls and with a swift and clean stroke, she hits the center balls, and a striped balls spins and tumbles right into the top right pocket. Good move! I watch her. “I choose the stripes,” she says, innocently. Oh, my playful baby. “Be my guest,” I say extending my hand, bowing gallantly. Anastasia moves, lowers down, her behind sticking out in an inviting manner. She focuses on the ball as she lowers her body onto the pool table. Hmm. A very inviting sight indeed. She moves leisurely around the table, calculating her next shot. She ends up sinking two more balls as I enjoy the scene before me. I squint my eyes, but give nothing away. She has done this before. With whom, I wonder. She finally misses the ball by an infinitesimal small margin. Relief! “You know Anastasia, I could stand here and watch you leaning across this billiard table all day,” I say enamored. Anastasia flushes as usual, and it makes me desire her more; that innocence of her is completely captivating. I smirk, and I too decide to play my own distraction technique. I pull my sweater off me and sling it over the back of a chair. I give Anastasia an eyeful of what I’m made of bending over the billiard table with my low hanging jeans. Two can play at that game. Since Anastasia chose the striped balls, I take on the solids. I move about the table and efficiently pocket four balls in quick succession. Of course, having been distracted by the hungry looks my girlfriend is giving me, I end up sinking the white on the fifth shot. Anastasia takes this opportunity to tease me. “A very elementary mistake Mr. Grey.” “My dear Miss Steele, I am but a foolish mortal. It’s your turn, I believe,” I say with flourish waving at the table.

“You’re not trying to lose are you?” she asks. I wouldn’t dream of it. In fact, I would rather always win. Losing is not in my nature in anything. “Oh no. For what I have in mind as the prize, I want to win, Anastasia,” I say shrugging. “But then, I always want to win in all things.” Anastasia leisurely walks around the table. Leans down to take a shot, and having decided it’s not where she wants to be, she changes to find a better angle to take her shot. But, I finally notice what she’s trying to do. She’s trying to distract me, by giving a good eyeful of her behind, and her cleavage with her low cut blue shirt. It’s working of course. Damn it! “I know what you’re doing, Anastasia,” I whisper at her as desire goes up several notches. She feigns innocence batting her eyelashes at me. She holds her cue, and strategically places her hand on it and runs her hand up and down over it slowly, suggestively. “Oh, Mr. Grey. I’m just trying to decide where to take my next shot,” she murmurs. Then she walks over to her chosen corner by the table, leans across giving me an eyeful of her now hallway showing bra and cleavage, and she does that directly in front of me. She takes her shot, and lines up her next shot, leaning over the table just a little lower, and I see part of her nipple in the line of my sight which makes me take a sharp intake of breath. And my reaction causes her to miss her shot. Yes! I walk over to stand behind her as she’s still bent over the table and place my hands on her delectable derriere. As I lean in over her, I whisper, “Are you waving this around to taunt me, Miss Steele?” With that I smack her behind hard, making her gasp. The spanking gives a good ringing to my hand which is a welcome feeling. “Yes,” she mutters. Toying with me, are you baby? “Be careful what you wish for, baby,” I whisper. As she rubs her behind, I walk to the other side of the table, lean down, aim well and take my shot. I hit the red ball, and manage to shoot it in to the left side pocket. I am another one, a yellow ball, and aim to shoot it into top right pocket, but I miss it by a hair making Anastasia grin almost victoriously. “Red Room here we come,” she says trying to taunt me. She knows I hate losing. But, I give nothing away. I only raise an eyebrow and wave her to continue.

She takes her shot and pockets the last orange stripe. “Name your pocket,” I murmur, as if to say, ‘choose the way you want to be fucked!’ “Top left hand,” she says, and leans over the table, takes her aim, hits it, and damn, she misses it by a wide margin! Yes! My ear splitting grin is ominously showing her that I aim to win this. I lean over the table, and sink in the two remaining solids, and as I stand and chalk my cue leisurely, my gaze is burning into Anastasia. “If I win...” I say slowly, salaciously, “I’m going to spank you, then fuck you over this billiard table.” Her jaw drops open as her eyes go wide. I name my pocket, with eyes on the prize. “Top right,” I murmur purposefully. I point to the black ball with my cue, bend down giving Anastasia another eyeful, and take my shot, and as the white ball hits the black, it pivots and wobbles over the edge of the pocket, and oh so slowly, taunting falls into the top right pocket. My eyes gleam darkly, victoriously. I wet my lips and saunter towards my prize like a predator. (←Hurricane by The Scorpions)

CHAPTER XII

Victory has never been sweeter and it shows on my face as if I won the Olympic gold medal. I stand, and put down my cue, with my, I-own-your-ass-Miss-Steele smile, and stroll towards Anastasia intent on collecting my prize, anxious, desirous, excited, and victorious. Her gaze follows my every move, and she looks like she can have me for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breathe Grey! “You aren’t going to be a sore loser, are you Anastasia?” I murmur with uncontained elation. “It all depends on how hard you want to spank me,” she whispers, holding on to her cue as if it’s going to provide her some divine support. Not, from the big bad Grey, baby! I simply take away her cue and lay it aside. My fingers travel to the top of her shirt leisurely to declare how much I own her, and I hook my fingers into the top of her shirt, and pull my soon to be punished girlfriend to me. She has mind fucked me since we got back, and went toe to toe with me. Not that it doesn’t excite me when she does that, but it also makes me nervous and scares me to the core. Because she’s taken away all the tools from me to correct her behavior. Oh, I will enjoy this more than you know baby! And this dish is going to be served hot!

“Hmm, let me count your misdemeanors, Miss Steele,” I say ready recount the crimes to hand her the verdict. “One, making me jealous of my own staff. Two, arguing with me about working. And three, waving this delectable derrière at me for the last twenty minutes, taunting.” I’m beyond excited; I lean down and rub my nose against hers without touching her anywhere else. “I want you to take your jeans and this fetching shirt off. Now," I whisper and kiss her on the lips ever so softly. As I saunter towards the door to lock it, I feel my heart ready to burst out of my chest with excitement. Desire coursing through my veins, and I’m one wired, focused, and intent on getting my due. (←All Tied Up by Robin Thicke) I lock the door taking my time, and turn around to gaze at Anastasia who is still in the aforementioned clothes, with a glazed look on her face, shocked, desirous, maybe even scared. I will make it an experience memorable for us both. Nothing to be scared about baby...just enjoy the ride, but I will get my due to my complete satisfaction. “Your clothes, Anastasia. You appear to be still dressed in them. Either take them off,” I say boring my gaze into hers with all my salacity, as I run my fingertips in her cheeks strolling around her, “or, I’ll do it for you.” I can see her chest rising up and down, her lips apart to accommodate her breathing, her eyes wide with unnamed excitement, and anxiety. “You take them off,” she says in a barely audible desirous voice. She wants this! I grin. “My dear Miss Steele. It’s a dirty job, but I think I can accommodate you and rise to the challenge.” “You normally rise to most challenges, Mr. Grey,” she retorts smugly. How well she knows me. I smirk in response. “Why Miss Steele, whatever do you mean?” I ask all the while thinking what choice of weapons I have in the library. Nothing handy... Can’t use the cue. It’s too long, and it’ll hurt considering the pain distribution. Ah... I have a ruler someplace in a drawer here. It’ll do beautifully. I remember reading in some books that this was the weapon of choice for some teachers in the not so distant past. It’s a great choice. Considering how mad I was when she was adamantly insisting on going to work even though she knew how anxious I am, knowing how frigging hard I try to protect her. Yes, the twelve inch ruler will do beautifully! Fits in the hand fine, has a nice flat surface to evenly distribute the pain. I take out the ruler, and holding each end, I flex it before her eyes, so she knows what she ought to expect. She eyes the

ruler while my eyes not leaving her face for one second. She swallows hard, her mouth open slightly to accommodate her breathing which means her heartbeat just accelerated. She’s excited, too. I leisurely put the ruler inside the back pocket of my jeans and saunter towards my soon to be claimed prize with wanton desire. When I reach Anastasia, I drop on my knees in front of her, and undo her shoe laces, and take her shoes and socks off all the while gazing into her eyes. Her sight is completely fixed on me like the gazelle watching the lion that is ready to pounce on her; fixed, mesmerized, anxious, desirous, and loving. I skim her legs over her jeans with my hands gliding up to her hips, and all of a sudden I grab and insert my fingers in her waistband pulling her forward and undo her button and pull the zipper down. Eyes on the prize Grey, I think to myself, and look up at her grinning salaciously. Slowly and leisurely, making a meal out of it, I remove her jeans, and help her step out of them. There she stands in her lace panties, completely mouthwatering. I grab the back of her legs and as I ascend up to her apex, I feel a shiver go through her making me grin, and when my hands finally reach up to her hips, I run my nose along the apex of her thighs making her nearly convulse with desire. “I want to be very rough with you, Ana. You’ll have to tell me to stop if it’s getting too much for you,” I breathe. Without waiting for her to respond, I dip my head and kiss her sex over the lace as I inhale her deep, smelling her arousal, making her moan. “Safe word?” I ask in a murmur. But, no, I don’t want to do that. It’s too much of dom/sub which she isn’t. I can’t go there today. Changing my mind, I amend, “No, no safe word, just tell me to stop, and I’ll stop. Do you understand?” Oh, dear God! I can see her sex glistening with arousal, and I dip my head again once more, and kiss her sex, long, nuzzling it. Then I stand up, and ready to move on with my mission. She hasn’t said anything. “Answer me, Ana,” I order in a soft, caressing tone. I really want to do this, but I don’t -- I don’t want her to run. It’s what scares me. I know she let me spank her after her outrageous bidding last night, but I only used my hand, and she was quite overcome with desire after having the silver balls in her. Although a ruler isn’t like a belt, it’ll hurt more than hitting with just my hand. I don’t want this to be a break up point for us. It is important for her to remember to communicate, and tell me when it’s too much. “Yes, yes, I understand Christian,” she answers finally looking puzzled.

“You’ve been dropping hints and giving me mixed signals all day Anastasia,” I say. How can a man keep up with that? She is confusing. She ran from me because I hit her, but then last night she insisted I spanked her. And all day today she kept hinting that she wants to be spanked. But then there is that constant fear that she will run away if I do spank her. I have to have her communicate with me if I need to do this right. “You told me that you were worried I’d lost my edge. I’m not quite sure what you meant with that statement, and even whether you were serious by it, but, now is the time to find out. I don’t want to go back into the playroom just yet, so we can try this for now. But if you don’t like it, you must promise to tell me,” I say with all my intensity. I cannot be any more explicit than this, but she needs to be open and communicate with me to tell me what she doesn’t like. I will stop if it’s too much for her. “I’ll tell you. No safe word,” she nods her head, reassuring me. I need her to know that she isn’t my sub. She never was despite the fact that we started out in that direction. She had never submitted, and I don’t think of her that way. “We’re lovers, Anastasia,” I say willing her to understand her status with me. “And, lovers don’t need to use safe words,” I state as realization dawns on me. Realizing that what I had in my previous dom/sub relationships were sexual transactions, like in a business. I take care of you, and you provide me with what I need; what I want. No emotions involved. At the end of the mutual conclusion of the business contract, it was over, and everyone went to their individual ways; nothing owed, nothing further needed. But, what Anastasia and I have never been that way. Not the way I feel for her, and she for me.

Do they Anastasia?” I ask her seeking her reassurance. I had never needed reassurance from a sexual partner before. I have made all the decisions. I didn’t need, or seek approval from a sexual partner. They only submitted to me. But, Anastasia is my lover, my girlfriend, my more...much, much more. I need her to understand this. (←You’re In My Heart by Rod Stewart) “I guess not,” she says swallowing. “I promise,” she says as I continue to look at her intently. I nod, still searching her face for any sign that shows she’s saying what she thinks I want to hear. She looks...happy. I slowly smile at her feeling relaxed, and we’re on our way to have fun. My hands reach up to her shirt as I start to unbutton it. Once all the buttons are undone, I pick up the cue. She is a sexy goddess; partially dressed, hot, ready to be fucked, irresistible. A range of emotions course through her face, not comprehending my intent. Is it fear? But, I’ll make this fun. “You play well, Anastasia. I must say I’m surprised. Why don’t you sink the black ball?” She looks at me pouting, and the way she’s looking at me, I know she’s trying to decipher why I would ask her to play while she’s expecting to be spanked and fucked. She finally smiles and takes the cue from my hand. While she positions the white ball, I casually walk around the table, and stand right behind her. She leans down to take her shot, and the sight of her is heavenly. My hand is on her right thigh and I run it casually up and down her leg, up to her ass and stroking her as her panties stretch to accommodate the rounds orbs of her behind. “I’m going to miss my shot if you keep doing that,” she whispers in a halfhearted complaint. “I don’t really care if you hit or miss baby. All I want is to see you like this; partially dressed and stretched out on my billiard table. Have you any idea how incredibly hot you look at this moment?” She doesn’t answer, but by the way she inhales a deep breath tells me that she too is aroused. She tries to ignore me, and lines her shot. I caress and rub her behind my hand never leaving. “Top left,” she murmurs in a barely audible tone, and as she hits the white ball, my hand leaves her behind and I smack her on her ass hard. This wasn’t what she was expecting as distraction at all, so her first reaction is to yelp, and of course, the black ball misses the pocket. My hand absently caress her behind again as I’m getting more and more aroused. “Oh dear, you missed. I think you need to try that shot again baby,” I whisper. “You really should concentrate Anastasia,” I coax. Anastasia loses concentration of course, because she’s panting,

completely excited with the game I’m dishing out for her. I walk around the table, and set the black ball again, and roll the white ball back to her. She’s completely aroused, lascivious, and wanton. Her gaze never leaves mine as she catches the white ball; lines it up, ready to take her shot again. But, that won’t do. She needs the proper distraction from the game. “Uh uh uh!” I chide her. “You need to wait baby,” I say smiling. I stroll to her side and position myself behind her again. This time I stroke her left thigh, and my fingers roll on her buttocks and occasionally escaping to her sex. Her breathing increase. “Take aim baby,” I breathe, aroused. A soft moan escapes her lips, her hand shakes. She lines the ball up, aims her cue as she bends onto the table, and as she is about to hit the white ball, my hand leaves her behind, and I smack her hard once again. “Oh, no!” she groans missing. “Once more baby. And if you miss this time,” I reiterate, “I’m really going to let you have it.” I walk to collect the black ball and set it up once again leisurely, painstakingly slow prolonging her anxiety. “You can do it,” I reassure her as I place my hand on her behind, and she pushes her behind into my palms in an eager gesture, toying with me. I smack her behind lightly over both the orbs, right on her sex. (←Come On Take Me, Here I Am Baby by UB40) “Eager Miss Steele? I ask delighted. I am more than yearning to get to my prize. For starters, I need to divest her of her sexy panties. “Well, let’s get rid of these,” I say sliding down the panties off her thighs. Once I take them off, I kiss the exposed orbs of her buttocks. “Take your shot, baby,” I whisper. She’s trembling with desire. Completely distracted, she lines up her white ball, and it misses its intended target completely. Oh victory! Anastasia is still leaning down on the table surprised. I lean down on her as my hands encapsulate her, “You missed,” I whisper to her ear. Her cheek is pressed on the baize. “Put your hands flat on the table baby,” I order softly, and she obeys immediately. “Good. I’m now going to spank you, and next time maybe you won’t...miss,” I say as I press my substantial erection to her hip. She groans, and start panting heavily, arousing me even more. I caress her buttocks gently as my other hand travels to her hair fisting, and holding the nape of her neck down effectively. Oh, what a glorious sight!

“Open your legs,” I order in a soft murmur, and she shifts hesitating. That won’t do baby! I lift the ruler and land it on her buttocks in succession of two hard blows, with cracking sounds. “Legs,” I repeat my order, and she finally yields, opening them. I hit her buttocks again and she moans in arousal and my breathing becomes harsher in response. I hit her again and again and again in a pattern, left, right, up and down. I don’t know how many times I land the ruler on her buttocks. I am too aroused, too into what I’m doing, as she’s panting below me, her sex blooming open to me, glistening and her moans and groans are rising feeding into my arousal further. I rain the blows down on her buttocks again and again, harder this time, and her body finally flinches. “Stop,” she says immediately, and I drop the ruler releasing her. “Enough?” I can barely whisper to her too desirous for her. “Yes,” she murmurs. “I want to fuck you now...hard,” I say in a strained voice. (←Tonight by Enrique Iglesias) “Yes,” she whispers wanting me to start already. I unzip my fly, and she is lying on the billiard table panting, wanting me, and opening her sex invitingly. I ease my index and middle finger into her sex, and rub in circular motion feeling her wetness; so ready for me. I take out a foil packet from my jeans’ pocket and rip it open. As I pinch the tip, I roll the condom onto my still growing length with now pulsing veins, ready to claim her. I sink into Anastasia inch by inch, finally balls deep; she completely sheaths me making me groan in pure ecstasy. I grab her hips and hold her tight, and slowly ease out of her, only to slam back into her again making her cry out. I hold still for a moment to let her find her center. “Again?” I ask her softly. “Yes, I’m completely fine. Lose yourself, baby, and take me with you,” she murmurs completely desirous. She’s my undoing, making me moan, and lose myself in her, with her, and I’m completely in a different frame of mind when I’m fucking her like this. I ease out, and slam back into her, out and in, over and over again in a brutal and punishing rhythm. It’s carnal, pure pleasure, and completely immersed into the fuck zone! I feel the tightening grip of her insides and her approaching orgasm. Her inner muscles tighten, gripping, pulling, trying to milk me, and I push further, harder, and faster over and over again until we both reach our climax, and our orgasm explodes, consuming us both, draining and milking, leaving us both spent and completely exhausted. I call out Anastasia’s name as my fingers dig

deep into her hips; tremors go through my body shaking us both. I finally still in her and collapse on top of Anastasia. I pull her with me as we sink to the floor, cradling her in my arms. (←Cream by Prince) “Thank you baby,” is all I can breathe, and cover her face with kisses completely elated for letting me soothe the beast in me, join me in the dark plateau, and pull me into the throes of intense pleasure. I wrap my arms around her even tighter holding her close. I notice that her cheek has marks left from the baize. “Your cheek is pink from the baize,” I whisper as I rub her face. “How was that?” I ask trying to get her honest reaction. I hope it didn’t repel her from me. Her response surprises and relieves me.

“Teeth clenchingly good. But, then again, I like it rough, and I like it gentle, Christian. Because, it’s with you.” Her declaration makes me unbelievably happy. I love this woman! I close my eyes in relief, and thank God that this angel is in my life. “You never fail, Ana. You’re beautiful, bright, and God knows challenging, but also fun and sexy. And you know, I thank divine providence every single day that it was you that came to interview me and not Katherine Kavanagh,” I confess as I kiss her hair. She smiles happily and yawns. “I’m wearing you out, baby. Come, let’s bathe, and then you’re off to bed.” I turn the bath water on, and pour some bath oil and jasmine bath soap. As the soap bubbles and releases an intoxicating scent, I take her hand, and we submerge into the bath. I make her sit opposite from me and I take her foot and start massaging it. She tilts her back in pleasure, groaning. “Can I ask you something?” she says. “Of course baby. Anything, you know that, Ana.” She sits up, and flinches. “Tomorrow... when I go to work, can Sawyer just take me to work to the front door of the office, and then pick me up at the end of the day? Please, Christian. Please,” she begs. Baby, come on! Don’t do this to me! Her safety is utmost importance, does she not understand that? My hand freezes on her foot, as my teeth clenches. She knows that she agreed to this, in lieu of going to work. That was our compromise. Why is she always trying to get her own way 100% of the time? Is it too much to ask for her to compromise a little bit? “I thought we agreed,” I say none too pleased.

“Please,” she begs again. “What about lunchtime?” I know she’ll have to go and get lunch outside. “I’ll make my own lunch and take from here, that way I don’t have to go out, please Christian?” she begs again. My mind is working quickly. If she wants to take the rules away and try to unman me, I have to find other ways to get my way. She doesn’t want Sawyer, fine then. I will have to send him incognito. I kiss her instep as I respond. “I find it very difficult to say no to you. You won’t go out?” “No,” she responds. There is one way to find out if she’ll follow the rules. “Okay,” I say. If she sticks with her end of the bargain after I validate her promise, then, I might, only might acquiesce. She gives me her 100,000 megawatts smile, “Thank you!” she gushes, and as she comes up to me sloshing water all around the tub, she kisses me. “You’re most welcome, Anastasia. How’s your behind?” I ask. “Sore, but it’s not too bad. The water’s soothing.” “I’m glad you told me to stop,” I confess, feeling relief that I can trust her one step further. “So is my behind,” she says playfully, making me grin. ***** We come out of the bed, and Anastasia dresses herself in one of my t-shirts; I frown. She deserves much better. Silk and satin all the way. “Didn’t Miss Acton provide any nightwear?” I ask. “I have no clue. I just like wearing your t-shirts if that’s okay,” she mumbles. Of course it’s okay baby, I think to myself, softening. I like her in my things. “I need to work Anastasia,” I say, but still not willing to leave her out of my sight knowing Leila was in here when she was asleep. I need to stand guard here with her. “But I don’t want to leave you alone. Can I use your laptop to log in to the office? Will I disturb you if I work from here?” I ask concerned. “It’s not my laptop,” she can barely whisper her eyes half closed.

I work about three hours as Anastasia sleeps. It’s such a peaceful state, so normal. She’s right here beside me, sleeping. I’m working on the laptop, fulfilled, sated, and blissfully happy. It’s past one thirty a.m. by the time I put my head to my pillow next to Anastasia. I wrap my arms around her after turning the side table lamp off, and drift into sleep. ***** “Good morning Seattle! Those of you who are just waking up or joining us during your drive to work, welcome! It is a rainy day in Seattle. The local forecast indicates rain all through the afternoon. Current temperature is 58 degrees and the temperatures will be 67 degrees in the highs today. Jenny Hughes and John Clark are on Chopper 7 covering the traffic in Seattle and the Puget Sound area beginning at 4:30 a.m. Now for the traffic and local news, let’s tune in to Chopper 7. Jenny, what can you tell us? Thank you Robert. Good morning Seattle! We are on Chopper 7 right now over I-90 ...” I hear the local news radio. I blink my eyes open to look into Anastasia’ smile. The light outside is muted, and gray, unlike my mood. “Good morning,” says Anastasia as she leans in and kisses me, caressing my face with her fingers. “Good morning baby. I usually wake up before the alarm goes off,” I murmur. I have had an uninterrupted sleep. No nightmares, no disturbances. “It’s so early.” “It is, Miss Steele, but I have to get up,” I say grinning and kissing her. She murmurs something about being tired, and closes her eyes, and goes back to sleep. I’ll let her sleep until I get ready. I go shave and shower, and dress in my white shirt and black suit. When I get back into my bedroom, Anastasia is still sleeping. “Come on sleepy head. Time to get up,” I say leaning over her. She inhales deep, and her eyes take a salacious look. “What?” I ask. “I wish you’d come back to bed,” she pleads instantly making me desirous for her. What have I created here? A greedy goddess! My lips part to exhale.

“You’re insatiable Miss Steele. As much as the invitation is appealing, I have an eight thirty meeting, which means I have to leave shortly.” “What?” she exclaims and jumps out of bed like a bat out of hell, and runs into the bathroom full speed making me smile in amusement. The next thing I hear is the shower water running, and Anastasia squealing “ow, hot, hot!!” in protests to the shower water. I walk into Taylor’s office, and all the security detail that are with him stand up as I enter. “Taylor, after you drop me off this morning, I want you to come back, and take Miss Steele to work. Sawyer is to ride with you. Miss Steele doesn’t want security detail with her, but we’ll have to provide her security without her knowledge.” I say. Taylor nods knowing.

“Sawyer, after Taylor drops Miss Steele off, let him drop you off at a convenient distance. I want you to watch the SIP building like a hawk, and the second she leaves the building, or if there is anyone who is not supposed to be entering the building, you are to call me. Understand?” “Yes, sir,” he says firmly. I nod. “Taylor, I need a word with you,” I say, and he follows me out. “Yes, sir?” he asks. “I need you to drill into Sawyer the importance of him following Anastasia, and that he is not to be seen, but always have an eye on the building. I don’t want fuck ups. The second she steps out of the building, he must call me, but must continue to follow her to ensure her safety. Got it?” “Perfectly sir,” says Taylor in a firm voice. “Great, take me to work in about 10 minutes.” “Yes, sir.” I make my way out to the kitchen area. Mrs. Jones is fixing breakfast. “What would you like this morning Mr. Grey?” she asks. “I’ll have egg omelet with fruits Mrs. Jones. And can I also get a cup of coffee?”

“Certainly, sir,” she responds. “You can make pancakes and bacon for Miss Steele, and she would like to take lunch from home today,” I add. “Yes, sir.” My breakfast is served, and I polish my plate up clean. Mrs. Jones pours my second cup of coffee, and Anastasia appears from the doorway all dressed in a fitted gray pencil skirt with pale gray silk shirt, and completing the wardrobe with high heeled black pumps. Her hair is all pulled up. She is one sight for sore eyes, taking my breath away. I get up as she approaches the breakfast bar.

“You look lovely,” I can barely murmur. I wrap my arms around her, and kiss her right under her ear at the crook of her neck. “Good morning Miss Steele,” says Mrs. Jones politely, and places her breakfast in front of her. “Oh, thank you. Good morning!” she replies Mrs. Jones. “Mr. Grey says that you’d like to take your lunch with you to work. What would you like to eat?” Anastasia turns to look at me, and by the way she’s scrutinizing me, I try very hard not to smirk. “A sandwich...salad. I really don’t mind.” She smiles at Mrs. Jones. “I’ll rustle you a packed lunch in no time, ma’am.” “Please call me Ana, Mrs. Jones.” “Ana,” she says smiling, and starts making Anastasia’s tea. I see Taylor standing by the entryway. I turn to Anastasia and say, “I have to go to work baby. Taylor will come back and drop you at work with Sawyer.” “Only to the door.” “Yes. Only to the door,” I say rolling my eyes at her. “Be careful, though.” I grasp Anastasia’s chin and kiss her.

“Laters, baby,” I say. “Have a good day at the office dear,” she calls after me, completely stopping me in my tracks. Dear? I can get used to the terms of endearment. I turn to Anastasia and give her a big smile. Taylor and I make our way down to the garage. He opens the door to the SUV, and we drive out of the garage, and merge into the Seattle traffic. “Once you drop Miss Steele at SIP and Sawyer at the vicinity, come back to GEH.” “Yes, sir.” “If for any reason Sawyer can’t reach me, he is to contact you immediately should Miss Steele leave the SIP building. You know the protocol.” “Understood, sir,” he replies. I take out my Blackberry and write Anastasia an e-mail. ___________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: Boss Date: June 13, 2011 08:23 To: Anastasia Steele

Good morning Miss Steele, I just wanted to say thank you for a wonderful weekend despite all the incidents. I just hope that you never ever leave. And just to remind you that the news of SIP is embargoed for four weeks. Delete this message as soon as you’ve read it. Yours, Christian Grey, CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc. & Your boss’s boss’s boss. ____________________________________________

Will she understand my message? I want her to stay with me...indefinitely. But, I don’t want to ask that outright, making her run away. Can she figure out what I’m trying to ask her? I hope so. Taylor drops me off to GEH, and I quickly make my way to my office. Andrea greets me at door. “Good morning Mr. Grey! Your 8:30 is already here. I’ve taken the liberty to put them in the conference rooms. Ros is already with them.” “Thank you. Bring my laptop,” I say as I make my way into the conference room. With my entry everyone stands up. A collective, “good morning Mr. Grey,” comes out of them automatically. I feel like a principal who entered into a high school classroom for inspection. “Good morning, everyone!” I respond. A few minutes later Andrea comes in knocking. “I apologize for my intrusion Mr. Grey,” she says and set my laptop before me. “Thank you. You may bring my coffee Andrea,” I say after seeing all the participants are properly supplied with both coffee and water. After greeting and introductions to some of the new members of the finance team, we dive into our meeting. I feel the buzz of my Blackberry in my pocket, and I eye my e-mail on the screen. There is a message from Anastasia which brightens my day already. ____________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Bossy Date: June 13, 2011 09:02 To: Christian Grey My dear Mr. Grey, Are you asking me to move in with you? I of course remembered the evidence of your epic stalking capabilities is embargoed for another four weeks. Oh, I have a question... Do I make a check out to Coping Together and send it to your father? Please don’t delete this email. Please respond to it.

ILY xxx

Anastasia Steele Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP ____________________________________________ How does a man supposed to concentrate when she’s like that? Yes, yes, yes! Move in with me! Stay with me, always! I quickly type her response. ____________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: Me, Bossy? Date: June 13, 2011 09:06 To: Anastasia Steele Yes. Please.

Christian Grey, CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc. ____________________________________________ As I hit send, the meeting is getting into full swing. “Mr. Grey, as you have requested, we have completed the emerging market analysis and the results show us that there are a few very viable options for GEH. If things turn bad in Spain for instance, they sell Russian assets. In fact that is the case for any Euro zone country. Whenever bad news from one of the Eurozone countries emerges, selloffs are triggered in such markets as Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, or even Latin America.” “How is that good news for GEH?” “Price is the driving reason Mr. Grey. We predict that the global investors will get more risk-averse in the next six months, and this may trigger them selling of more Russian assets, because they’re worried by the US budget deficit, they may sell Russia because they’re worried about Spain. The way it works is sir, is that in order to protect their capital, they buy Northern European bonds, which promise to take away your capital rather than your Russian or Asian stocks for instance. This means that the emerging market assets are undervalued because of the fear of risk,” says Ipkins, a skinny man with receding hairline in his 50s with a shrewd eye in business and money market with little fashion sense and all too large glasses for his face with no smile that I can recall as long as I’ve known him.

“Mr. Ipkins, I know that in the north of the European continent, the recent yields went negative resulting in investors paying for the privilege of buying the debt. I don’t consider that much of a privilege, but I digress. They now hold government paper with maturities of less than two years in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, Germany and Netherlands.” His eyes gleam with excitement and that’s the happiest I’ve seen this man in ages. “Yes, sir! This is the key attraction of emerging markets for us, because it continues to be stronger growth outlook. I strongly suggest that we stay committed to our preference for emerging markets over developed markets,” he says.

“I admit that there is a bigger potential in growth in emerging markets than in developed markets. So, what it boils down finally is choosing my markets carefully. I want to see a steady growth in the last 3 years, even if it is infinitesimal. Have you done research on that field?” “I’m glad you asked sir,” says Mr. Ipkins quickly gesturing his assistant a bookish type young man who quickly goes through some reports under his hand. My Blackberry buzzes again. I open my e-mail on my laptop. ____________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Flynnisms Date: June 13, 2011 09:19 To: Christian Grey Christian, what happened to walking before we run? Could we just talk about this tonight please? I’ve been asked to go to a conference in New York on Thursday. It means an overnight stay on Wednesday. I just thought you should know.

Ax Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP ____________________________________________

What the fuck! What trip? What travel? With whom? I leave this woman for what, half an hour, and she’s off to New York with God knows who! Do I take off someplace without letting her know? Why is she doing that to me? ____________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: WHAT? Date: June 13, 2011 09:20 To: Anastasia Steele Yes. Let’s talk this evening. Are you going on your own?

Christian Grey, CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc. ____________________________________________ You better tell me it’s all by your little self, and not with that jerk of a boss, the fucking panty eyeing dickhead! No answer comes back. “And this is what we concluded. What do you think Mr. Grey?” “What?” Ros eyes me carefully with my changed demeanor. “What Mr. Grey is trying to say is that he needs to evaluate all your reports. Such large investments cannot be decided in one meeting or without going over all aspects of business. You are after all asking him to invest a substantial amount of money.” “That’s why it’s a great market for you sir,” adds Ipkins. “Cash is king, and you can buy any of them you want.” Mr. O’Connell, another business associate of Ipkins’ jump in. “Mr. Grey, other analysts, including myself concur that developing countries are the place to be for the long terms, especially as in some of them valuations are really cheap.”

“I realize that, but I think there are better places to invest, as I too have done my research. Among the better placed, I have an independent group of analysts mentioned China, where bank loans have risen, and of course Russia is still ‘very cheap’ in terms of valuation, and even some Central and Eastern European countries and Turkey as well placed to withstand the storm. So, I want you to all bear in mind, that I employ independent analysts to verify all the facts you’re presenting, and expect, the best financially viable list to be presented to me. Said that, I want you to all to go over the list of countries where you think the investment is a good idea, and why. Impress me,” I say leaning back in my chair my arms crossed with an impassive face. My rising anger towards Anastasia changes my mood in the meeting. My Blackberry buzzes again, and my hand moves the mouse to open the message she sent me on my laptop. ____________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: No Bold Shouty Capital on a Monday morning! Date: June 13, 2011 09:29 To: Christian Grey Can we talk about this tonight? Ax Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP ____________________________________________ She’s evading me! Fuck! Fuck! I need to hit something and I’m in a fucking meeting! One single fucking line form her can boil my blood to dangerous levels! It is with that dickhead of a boss she has. ____________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: You haven’t seen SHOUTY yet. Date: June 13, 2011 09:34 To: Anastasia Steele Tell me. If it’s with that sleaze ball you work with, then the answer is no. OVER MY DEAD BODY! Christian Grey,

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc. ____________________________________________ What the hell is she trying to do to me? The man is going to use any means to get into her panties. I’ve seen it in his eyes. I know the type. It takes one to know one! My hands start shaking almost in utmost anger, and I have to hide it under the table, try to calm down myself. Luckily, Mr. Ipkins’ assistant is going through a PowerPoint presentation of various emerging markets, so all I have to do is to listen to him to distract myself. Anastasia responds in about ten grueling, stretching minutes. ____________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: No YOU haven’t seen shouty yet! Date: June 13, 2011 09:45 To: Christian Grey Yes. It’s with Jack.

I want to go. It’s an exciting opportunity for me. And I’ve never been to New York. Don’t get your knickers in a twist. Ax Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP ____________________________________________ Shit Ana! Does she not realize that the jerk wad of a boss she has is a womanizer? I can tell that I’ve only met the guy once! That guy has no boundaries, and he made sure to insinuate that to me during the pissing contest. He wants what is mine! ____________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: No YOU haven’t seen shouty yet. Date: June 13, 2011 09:34 To: Anastasia Steele Anastasia, it’s not my fucking knickers I’m worried about.

The answer is NO.

Christian Grey, CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc. ____________________________________________ The fucking meeting is going on, and I’m boiling mad. I’m ready to burst out of here to SIP and sling her over my shoulder with a big swat on her ass, and take her home to keep her safe! Ipkins’ assistant in babbling about China, now. Ros is paying attention for both of us; God knows I can’t when my mind is giving Anastasia the spanking of her life! Her message buzzes once more. ____________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: No YOU haven’t seen shouty yet! Date: June 13, 2011 09:54 To: Christian Grey Christian

You need to get a grip. I’m NOT going to sleep with Jack, not for all the tea in China. I LOVE you. That’s what happens when people love each other. They TRUST each other. I don’t think you are going to SLEEP WITH, SPANK, FUCK or WHIP anyone else. I have FAITH and TRUST in you. Please extend the same COURTESY to me. Ax Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP ____________________________________________ I nudge Ros. “Continue without me,” I say.

She looks shocked but that is quickly replaced with a complacent look. “Excuse me, Gentlemen. I have to attend an emergency,” I say with an impassive face holding up my Blackberry. “Ros will see the rest of your presentation, and we shall resume our meeting next week after I have gone over all your suggestions,” I say as I leave the conference room. I dial Anastasia’s work number as soon as my legs carry me into my office. “Jack Hyde’s office, Ana Steele speaking,” she answers. “Will you please delete the last e-mail you sent me and try to be a little more scrupulous in the language you use in your work e-mail? Numerous times I’ve told you that e-mails at SIP are monitored. You are now forcing me to do some damage control from my side here!” I say and hang up on her without letting her to get a word edgewise. “Andrea!” I say on the intercom. “Yes, sir?” “Get me Barney on the line and as soon as I hang up with him, get me Roach from SIP on the line.” “Immediately sir,” she says hearing the urgency in my tone. My Blackberry rings as I’m tapping my fingers on my desk like the four horsemen of the apocalypse. It’s Anastasia. “What?” I snap at her. “I’m going to New York whether you like it or not,” she seethes with anger. “Don’t count-“ on it I say, but without finishing my sentence, she hangs up on me. Fuck this! I press the intercom. “I’m putting Barney on the line now sir,” Andrea says. “Have him wait on the line Andrea. Get me Roach first, pronto!” I bellow. “Yes, sir,” she says, and I can feel the tremble in her voice over the intercom. “Mr. Grey, Mr. Roach is on the line, sir.”

“Put him through.” “Roach, Grey,” I say by the way of introductions. “Yes, Mr. Grey, how can I help you?” he asks warily. “Effective immediately, all travel and hotel expenses for staff have to be approved by the senior management. That means, any flights or hotel reservations that have gone through must be cancelled.” “But, sir, we have a conference coming up in New York very soon and some of the trips might have been booked for our editors and their assistants.” “Cancel the fucking trips! Do you not get the simple instructions I’m giving you? No one travels without the senior management approval, and that especially goes for Miss Anastasia Steele. I want to see who is going where, and what is being spent, and no one goes until it goes through the senior management! Make sure Anastasia Steele doesn’t get to go to any trip! Pass it on immediately!” “As you wish, sir,” he says bewildered. “I will put your order through immediately.” “Good, all the approved travels and hotels must be cancelled.” “Got it, yes sir.” “Travel expenses for Anastasia Steele are not to be approved under any circumstances, or any staff at her level.” “Oh, okay,” he says confused, “yes, of course, sir.” “Let my assistant know once the task is completed.” “Yes, sir,” he says and I hang up. I press the other line for Barney. “Barney?” “Still here, sir,” is the greeting I receive. “I have a task for you to complete immediately.” “Yes, sir?”

“Login to SIP’s mail servers, and delete all e-mails coming from me to Miss Anastasia Steele, and also delete all her outgoing e-mails to me. Let me know when the task is completed.” “I’m on it sir!” he says fervently, I hang up. I hate providing an interesting morning to the people who works for me, especially the private messages that goes between Anastasia and I. Why doesn’t she heed my warnings despite having been told repeatedly? Why does she always disobey? I’m so fucking angry, but I have to do more damage control still. What a fucking morning, and I have Anastasia to thank for it! Shit! And I can’t even punish her! Double shit!! Don’t fuck with me Ana! You are in a whole different ball game! As I’m fuming in my office, my intercom buzzes. “Mr. Grey? Mr. Roach just called, and had said that he has completed the task you’ve assigned him, and Barney is on the line for you sir,” she says. “Great! Put him through,” I give a sigh of relief for the first time since this whole this started this morning. “Mr. Grey, I’ve deleted all your e-mails to Miss Anastasia Steele from the SIP server, and the incoming messages from her are also deleted from the server. Is there anything else I can do for you sir?” My email dings as I’m on the phone with Barney. It’s Anastasia, my mutinous girlfriend. “No, that’ll be all,” I say and hang up. ____________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: What have you done? Date: June 13, 2011 10:42 To: Christian Grey Please tell me you won’t interfere with my work Christian. I really wanted to go to this conference. I shouldn’t have to ask your permission to go. I have deleted the offending e-mail. Ax Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP

____________________________________________ You should ask my permission when it comes to traveling with a guy who is trying to get into your panties! If he’s insistent enough, he’ll get in with permission or without; if that doesn't work he'll do it with coercion or even by force! Why do I have to keep explaining it to her? ____________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: What have you done? Date: June 13, 2011 10:45 To: Anastasia Steele I’m only protecting what is mine. The e-mail that you so heedlessly sent has been wiped from the SIP server now as all my e-mails to you. Incidentally, my trust for you is implicit. It’s him I don’t trust.

Christian Grey, CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc. ____________________________________________ Her responding message doesn’t take long to reach my inbox. ____________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Grow up Date: June 13, 2011 10:47 To: Christian Grey Christian, I don’t need you protecting me from my own boss. He may make a pass at me, but I shall shay no. You can’t interfere. It’s wrong and controlling in so many different levels.

Ax Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP ____________________________________________ How is it okay that he can make a pass at her and that she is willing to travel with him? Does she think that he’ll stop his behavior because she says no?

____________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: The Answer is NO Date: June 13, 2011 10:49 To: Anastasia Steele

Ana, I have seen how effective you are at fighting off untoward attention. If you remember this is how I had the pleasure of spending my first night with you. But at least the photographer has feelings for you; the sleaze ball that you call your boss, does NOT. The man is a serial philanderer and it is guaranteed that he will try to seduce you. You might want to ask him what happened to his previous PA and the one before that. I really don’t want to fight you about this. If you really want to go to New York, I will take you there. We can even go this weekend. I have an apartment there. Christian Grey, CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc. ____________________________________________

There is no sigh of relief when it comes to Anastasia, because it may come to a fight this evening, but I’ll take it as it comes. I can’t help it; I have to protect her! I am possessive of her, and I am in love with her. It just kills me to know that there are other men salivating over her, ready to jump her bones, and my very innocent and naïve to the ways of the world girlfriend thinks that she can ward off all the big bad boys of the world. She couldn’t even ward off an innocent one who is in love with her! What makes her think that she can protect herself from an experienced debaucher who has had assistants like her for lunch and spit them out by snack time!

My only solace is that she loves me and that we just may work it out. I may have to try hard to divert her attention to something else. As I contemplate all the scenarios of what I can say to her arguments, my email dings again alerting me of an incoming message. ____________________________________________

From: Anastasia Steele Subject: FW: Lunch date or Irritating Baggage Date: June 13, 2011 11:14 To: Christian Grey

Christian, while you have been busy interfering in my career as well as saving your ass from my careless messages, I received the below e-mail from Mrs. Lincoln. I really don’t want to meet with her, and even if I did, you are not allowing me to leave this building. I don’t know how she got a hold of my email address. What would you suggest I do? Below is her message:

Dear Anastasia, I really would like to have a lunch date with you. I think we both got off on the wrong foot, and I would really like to make that right. Are you free sometime this week for lunch? Elena Lincoln Anastasia Steele Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP ____________________________________________ This day’s just getting better and better as if everyone all together agreed to give me a hell of a day! I am already prepared to have her fight with me over this trip deal. And now Elena is only sprinkling salt to an open wound! Why the fuck is she interfering despite my constant reminders? It’s as if everyone is determined to have me lose her. First Leila, then her philanderer of a boss, and then Elena, and of course we can’t forget Anastasia’s own careless ways. What else can go wrong? I can’t bear to lose Anastasia. It’s not even noon, and I have had a very trying day! ____________________________________________

From: Christian Grey Subject: The Answer is NO Date: June 13, 2011 11:22 To: Anastasia Steele

Don’t be mad at me. You must know that I have your best interest at heart. If anything happened to you, I would NEVER forgive myself. I shall deal with Mrs. Lincoln myself.

Christian Grey, CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.

____________________________________________

Anastasia doesn’t respond right away. Is she mad? Did Elena make her so upset that it’s the weight that tips the balance? Oh fuck! I dial Elena’s number. “Christian, what a surprise!” she answers gushing. “Elena, I’m going to get to the point immediately. Despite my repeated warnings, you have been trying so hard to get in touch with Anastasia. Cut.It.Out.Right.Now!” “But Christian, I had no ill will. She just...” “Do you not hear me, or did I suddenly lapse into French, Elena? I asked you to leave her alone numerous times. You will fucking leave her alone! Do not contact her on the phone, via mail, via letters delivered by couriers, via e-mail, or don’t even whisper her in her dreams. Do you get me Elena?” “Christian, I was only trying to do you a favor by helping her to get to know me!” “Clearly you do not understand me. Let me explain it to you in very very plain terms: Do you know the kind of interruption your little ‘good intention’ caused me? You are not to contact her under any circumstances...” “But Christian, I'm only...” she interrupts me. “You’re still saying, ‘but’. Let me reiterate this,” I hiss completely exasperated. “Let's say that you are to be elected the first Dominatrix president of the United States, and you are extremely excited and want to share your immense victory and your joy with Anastasia, and you decide to have her to the White House. Even then, skip it! She’s not interested! Don’t contact her for any reason! Now do you comprehend me and her repulsion of you Elena?”

I can actually feel her shudder on the phone. “Well, of course. It’s not a subtle point. I was just hoping...” “Good, great, goodbye!” I say and hang up already impatient. I have an immense headache; and I need a release. I lean over my desk, my head in my hands, and I hear an incoming message dinging. ____________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Laters Date: June 13, 2011 11:31 To: Christian Grey Can we just please discuss this tonight? I really am trying to work here, and your continued interference is very distracting. Anastasia Steele Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP ____________________________________________ Oh, shit! She’s mad! I'll have a storm to deal with tonight. I can go for a workout with Claude right now. I hit the intercom. “Yes, Mr. Grey?” “Andrea, see if Claude Bastille can be free within the next hour, if not after lunch.” “I’ll call him right away sir. Where would you like to meet?” “GEH’s gym.” “I’ll find out right now sir. Is there anything else I can help you with?” she asks. “Yes, send Taylor in.” “Yes, sir,” she replies and I hang up. Taylor walks in within the next minute. “I need you to pick me up some lunch.”

“What would you like sir?” “French. Mediterranean salad, and some filet of fish. I prefer Chilean sea bass, if they don't have it, then grouper will do. Pan seared not fried, and asparagus or French beans.” “Would that be all sir?”

“Yes, that’s all,” I say dismissing him. My intercom buzzes again. “Mr. Grey, Ros is on the phone.” “Put her through,” I say. “Mr. Grey, I hope you resolved the earlier emergency.” “I did, thanks. Is this why you’re calling?” “No, actually. I have already e-mailed you all the market analysis reports. What I’m calling you about is different and it’s some good news,” she says excited. God knows I can use some good news right about now. “We might have significant improvements in the solar powered cell phone prototype,” she says, and this is the first bit of good news for today. “Coordinate with Andrea and schedule a meeting with the engineering team. I want to see the schematics, and the prototype next week.” “Will do,” she says, and I hang up. I check my e-mails and there is the email Ros forwarded about the “Emerging Markets Analysis.” I start reading the reports to distract myself. When I am nearly through reading the report on China, my Blackberry buzzes. “Mr. Grey, this is Sawyer,” he says, and I immediately tense. If Sawyer is calling me, Anastasia has broken her promise to me. “Yes,” I say through gritted teeth.

“Miss Steele is on the move, sir.” “On the move to where, man?” I ask irritated. “She’s headed to a deli sir,” he says meekly. “Follow her. Make sure no one is following her, and that she gets back to SIP safely. Call me as soon as she makes back to the building.” “Yes, sir,” he says and I hang up fuming. Always disobedient! She couldn’t just pick the phone up and say she had to head to the deli, could she? God, what a trying woman I have! Will I make through the day without having a heart attack? Taylor comes in with my food, and though I’ve lost my appetite, I eat out of habit instead of need or want. Taylor stands at the corner of my office inconspicuously, but I know he’s eyeing me with his worried gaze. Halfway through my lunch, Andrea buzzes the intercom. “Yes, Andrea!” I say in a stern voice. “Mr. Grey, Mr. Bastille will be able to come in the next hour to the GEH’s gym sir.” “Good,” I say, and disconnect. My Blackberry rings and its Sawyer. “Yes, Sawyer,” I say and Taylor is pure attention. “Mr. Grey, Miss Steele just walked back into the SIP with a pastrami sandwich, and Coke sir,” he reports. “Fine. Did anyone follow her?” “No sir. No one suspicious has been around, and she was not followed.” “Okay,” I say and hang up. Taylor looks at me quizzically. “Anastasia left the building to go to a deli, and now she’s back,” I explain, and he nods. I take a sip of my water, and I dial Anastasia’s work phone. “Jack Hyde’s Office...” she says and I cut her off.

“You assured me that you wouldn’t go out!” I scold her in a cold, sharp voice. “Christian, my boss... Jack sent me out for some lunch. I couldn’t say no. Are you having me watched?” she says in a rush. The fucking boss couldn’t get his own damn sandwich? Then I look up at Taylor who fetched my lunch. “This is why I didn’t want you going back to work,” I snap at her. “Please, Christian. You’re being...so...” she stops. “So suffocating,” she finally finishes her sentence. “Suffocating?” I respond shocked. All I did this morning was to try to protect her from herself, because she’s unable or unwilling to manage it on her own. She makes decisions based on how she thinks she can handle something, and we both know that she can’t! But, I don’t want to suffocate her; I don’t want to repel her that way. “Yes. You have to stop it. But unfortunately, I now have to work late, because I can’t go to New York.” What? Work late? That fucker of a boss is making her work late, punishing her for not going to New York? And she thinks I suffocate her!
“Anastasia, I don’t want to suffocate you,” I say in a whisper, astounded. (←That’s All by Michael Buble)

“Well, you really are. I have work to do. I’ll talk to you later,” she says in a completely strained, and exhausted voice. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! I need a work out. For the first time in a very long time, I don’t finish what I have on my plate, concerned.

Taylor looks as surprised as Taylor can look with raised eyebrows. “Where to sir?” “To the gym,” I say. “Andrea, clear my schedule for the next two hours,” I say, and Andrea has a shocked look on her face. Taylor and I make my way down to the gym in the GEH building, and I work out hard for the next two hours. Anastasia doesn’t call or e-mail me for the duration of the day. I try to focus on my work, and go through the reports. By seven p.m. I call Anastasia. “Hi,” she murmurs in a soft voice, but I’m still wary, and nervous. “Hi, when will you be finished?” “By seven thirty, I think,” she replies. “Okay, I’ll meet you outside.” “Okay,” she replies. We both hang on the line, neither one hanging up.

“I’m still mad at you, but that’s all,” she says in a whisper. “We have a lot to talk about,” she says. I was worried about that, and the numbers are stacking up against me already. “I know. See you at seven thirty,” I say. Worry washes over me. The thoughts of losing her come to my mind unbidden. I can’t live without her! I don’t want to lose her. “I have to go. See you later,” she says and hangs up. I turn to Taylor. “She’s off at 7:30. We can leave in a few minutes.” “Yes, sir,” he replies with a worried look. Anastasia is making us all jump through hoops; and even my security detail is praying that she’s in a good mood! ***** By the time we’re at SIP, it is nearly 7:30. Taylor parks the SUV against the sidewalk. After waiting a few minutes, Anastasia emerges from the front entry doors. Taylor immediately exists the car and opens the rear passenger door for her. I’m apprehensive, worried about how she will react, scared that she might run, and tell me this is it. All sorts of scary thoughts are crossing through my mind and none of it is pleasant. By the time she gets into the car, I’m completely tense, my heart is at my mouth, and I’m strung tighter than a bow. (←This Love by Maroon 5) “Hi,” she murmurs greeting me. “Hi,” I reply still cautiously optimistic at her tone. I can’t handle the fact that she could leave me, and be gone. I immediately reach over and grasp her hand, and hold and squeeze it tightly. “Are you still mad?” I ask. “I don’t know,” she replies. I hold her hand up and kiss her knuckles with the lightest of kisses. “It’s been a shitty day, Anastasia,” I say pleading with my gaze for her to give me a break. “Yes, it has,” she acquiesces. But now that she’s here with me, all is right in the universe, like it should be. “It’s better now that you’re here,” I whisper. As Taylor drives us to Escala through Seattle traffic, I finally get a chance to relax. I gently kiss her hand, and run my thumb across her knuckles in a soothing rhythm. As we make our way to Escala, I get nervous again. Apprehension rises in me. I’m cautious as Taylor

drops us off outside the apartment building. I hold Anastasia’s hand, and duck into the building from the pouring rain. The weather forecast was wrong. The rain lasted through the evening, and my nasty mood along with it. I still look around to see if Leila is anywhere in the vicinity. Anastasia notices my caution. “I take it that you haven’t found Leila yet,” she concludes. “No. Welch is still looking for her,” I mutter dismally. When the elevator arrives, I step in with her, our hands still clasped. I gaze down at Anastasia. I love her, and I hate fighting with her. I fear of losing her! And right now, in this closed space, I have this immense longing, and lust and this inescapable pull towards her, and I can see that she feels the same way as I do. The desire I have for her rises to unbearable levels. “Do you feel it?” I breathe as my lips part to accommodate my breathing. “Yes,” she responds her heart pumping so hard, I can feel it through her hand. “Oh, Ana,” I groan and grab her, my arms enfolding her with the intensity of my desire. As one hand travels up to her neck, I tip her head back, and seal her lips with mine. Anastasia’s fingers find my hair and she starts caressing my cheek, and that is my undoing. I push her against the elevator wall. (←Love In An Elevator by Aerosmith) “I hate arguing with you,” I breathe desperately. With exploding desire, our bodies tense with all the shit that had happened throughout the day, and seeking release. My tongue enters into her mouth and finds hers. I suck onto her tongue, and that sweet sensation starts building in me, and I realize that I have to have her right here, right now. I have to know we are okay. My hand goes down to her hip, and I quickly pull her skirt up to stroke her thighs, and I find that she’s wearing stockings with a garter belt. Oh fuck! She’s killing me here! “Sweet Jesus, Ana, you’re wearing stockings!” I moan as I caress the leg above the stocking line. “I want to see this,” I say and pull her skirt up, tops of her thighs are exposed to my hungry eyes. I step back, and reach over the stop button of the elevator, and the elevator immediately stop going up. We’re stuck between the 22nd and 23rd floors. My dick is hard and throbbing, seeking release. My body is burning in need for her, and here she is, a sex goddess in stockings!

“Take your hair down,” I order her in a husky voice, and she immediately obeys. Why can’t she obey like that any other time? Her hair tumbles down to her shoulders and breast. “Now, undo the top two buttons of your shirt,” I whisper my eyes wild with wanton desire. She reaches up and unbuttons the two buttons achingly slow, making a meal out of it, revealing the tops of her ample breasts with just the right amount of the lace of her bra showing. I swallow hard. “Do you have any idea how incredibly seductive you look right now?” I ask. She bites that delectable lip, and shakes her head innocently. I step forward and put both my hands on the elevator wall by her face, but I’m not touching her. I lean down and run my nose against hers. This single point of contact fires up my blood, current courses through our bodies from this touch and I am ready to combust. Anastasia feels the same way as her chest rises up and down as if she ran a marathon.

“I think you do, Miss Steele,” I say. “I think you like to drive me wild,” I say. (←She’s Always a Woman by Billy Joel) “Do I drive you wild?” she whispers innocently. “In all things, Anastasia. You are a siren, a goddess!” She unmans me. I reach for her, and grasp her leg above her knee and hitch it around my waist. She is now standing on one leg and lean into me. I’m hard to the core. I run my lips on her lips and then trail down to her throat. She moans with pleasure and wraps her arms around my neck. “I’m going to take you now, Anastasia,” I breathe, and she arches her back in automatic response, pressing herself against me, her sex is eager. I groan a deep guttural sound, and I unzip my fly.

“Hold tight, baby,” I murmur. I take out a condom packet, and put it between her teeth. I tug the other end, and we rip it between each other. “Good girl,” I say as I roll the condom onto my length. “God, I can’t wait for the next six days,” I growl and gaze down at her with hooded eyes. “I do hope you’re not overly fond of these panties,” I say, and tear through them. She’s panting with need as I am. Without taking my eyes off her, I spear into her slowly. Her body bows and she tilts her head back as she closes her eyes. I pull back and sink into her again, slowly. She groans. I am staking my claim in her. “You are mine, Anastasia!” I murmur against her throat. “Yes. Yours. When will you accept that?” she pants. I groan and start pounding into her wanting to claim every fucking inch of her short of branding her. I push harder and harder. My breathing gets ragged; I lose myself in her, claiming her from inside out, touching her, holding her, loving her, fucking her. My hands are everywhere all at the same time. “Oh, baby,” I moan, my teeth grazing her jaw, and she comes hard, I follow her in ecstasy. ***** Both of us are spent, but I am now calm and relieved, and feel that all is well. I hold her upright against the elevator wall, and press my forehead against hers. “Oh, Ana,” I murmur against her lips. “I need you so much,” I kiss her forehead. I wish she knew how much she means to me. How much I need her! She’s the air I breathe. (Truly Deeply Madly by Savage Garden) “And I you, Christian,” she replies. I release her, and straighten her skirt, and button her shirt, and when I finally right her, I punch my code and the elevator moves again with a jolt. Anastasia reaches out clasping my arms. “Taylor will be wondering where we are,” I grin lasciviously at Anastasia. Anastasia turns redder than the Chinese flag and starts trying to fix her hair. “You’ll do,” I smirk, and zip my fly and put the used condom inside my pocket. Once we reach to my penthouse, Taylor is waiting in the foyer when the doors open.

“Problem with the elevator,” I murmur, and Anastasia completely shy just scurries away like a puppy backed into a porcupine. “Any problems in the building?” “No sign, sir.” “Good.” I say and turn to the kitchen. I take my jacket off, and sit at the breakfast bar and strike a conversation with Mrs. Jones. “How was your day Mrs. Jones?” “Very good sir. Thank you for asking. I hope you had a nice day as well.”

“It’s getting there,” I reply. Anastasia appears at the entryway, a sight for sore eyes. She sits next to me, and Mrs. Jones places two plates before us. Coq au vin! She is a great cook, that Mrs. Jones! “Enjoy, Mr. Grey, Ana,” she says and leaves the kitchen. I get a bottle of white wine from the fridge and pour both of us a glass. As we eat dinner, I find myself talking about my solar powered cell phone prototype remembering Ros gave me the good news that it’s very close to fruition. And my excitement is contagious. “Christian, can I ask you something?” “Yes, of course,” I answer. “Where do you have properties?” “I only have an apartment in New York, the Escala, and the Aspen property. Nothing else.” “Oh,” she says, as she collects our plates from the breakfast bar. “Leave that. Gail will do it,” I say, and she turns and finds me gazing at her intently after leaving the plates in the sink. “Well, now that you are more docile, Miss Steele, shall we talk about today?”

“I think you’re the one who’s more docile. I think I’m doing a good job in taming you,” She says surprising me. “Taming me?” I snort, completely amused. She hasn’t seen me today. She just nods. I frown. I wouldn’t acquiesce to her demands if she was anyone else. I would have spanked the shit out of any other sub I had. Yet, I worried that Anastasia would leave me, and I realize that I was scared to death that she’d leave me. “Yes. Maybe yo are, Anastasia,” I find myself saying. “You were right about Jack,” she murmurs, and my blood boils under my skin. My face falls, and my eyes harden. What did the fucker do? “Has he tried anything?” I whisper in a deathly voice. And why hasn’t she phoned me when whatever the fucker tried to do to her? She shakes her head. “No, and he won’t, Christian. I told him today that I’m your girlfriend, and he backed right off.” “You’re sure about that? I could fire his fucking ass,” I scowl. (←Next Contestant by Nickelback) Anastasia sighs, “Christian, you really have to let me fight my own battles. You can’t constantly second guess me and try to protect me. It’s stifling. I’ll never flourish with your incessant interference. I need some freedom. I wouldn’t be dreaming of interfering in your affairs,” she says. I know I don’t like anyone interfering into my affairs. But, the need to protect her supersedes everything. “I only want you safe, Anastasia. If anything happened to you, I...” say I can’t bring the rest of the thought. It’s what rips my heart. It’s my biggest fear, my worst nightmare. “I know, and understand why you feel so driven to protect me. And part of me loves it. I know that if I need you, you’ll be there, as I am for you. But if we are to have any hope of a future together, you have to trust me and trust my judgment. Yes, I’ll get it wrong sometimes and at times I’ll make mistakes, but I have to learn on my own Christian.” This is against everything I feel, and want to do. I can’t just not interfere when she’s so innocent and so alluring and everyone wants to shove their dick into her panties. And she’s mine! She moves before me standing between my legs as I sit on the barstool. I’m still completely dumbstruck.

“You can’t interfere in my job. It’s wrong. I don’t need you charging in like a white knight to save the day. I know you want to control everything, and I understand why, but you can’t. It’s an impossible goal Christian. You really have to learn to let go.” Her fingers reach up to my face and stroke me with the slightest of the touches. My gaze widens. “And if you can do that, you can give me that much freedom, I’ll move in with you,” she says softly. I’m pure attention. She said she would move in with me. Did I hear her wrong? Is that what she said? I inhale sharply, completely surprised. “You’d do that?” I whisper. “Yes.” She replies. “But you don’t know me, Anastasia,” I say frowning, completely panicked. It’s like the time she told me she loves me. I try not to freak out. “I know you well enough, Christian. Nothing you tell me about yourself will frighten me away,” she runs her knuckles across my cheek. I don’t know what to say, shocked, surprised, and reluctant. “But if you could just ease up on me,” she pleads. “I’m trying, Anastasia. I couldn’t just stand by and let you go to New York with that fucking philanderer sleaze ball. The man has an alarming reputation. None of his assistants have lasted more than three months, and they’re never retained by the company. I don’t want that for you, baby,” I say sighing. “I don’t want anything to happen to you. The thought of you being hurt, just scares the hell out of me. The thought is dreadful. I can’t promise not to interfere, not if I think you’ll come to harm,” I say truthfully. Does she realize how in love I am with her? No one can love her as much as I love her. She doesn’t know how earnestly I love her, which has hopes and fear and anxieties. I love her fondly and devotedly. Like Shakespeare said, “Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous; and it pricks like thorn.” I am trying to be worthy of her love. Striving every day. Trying to be fearless, but I find myself weak where she is concerned. “I love you, Anastasia. I will do everything in my power to protect you. I cannot imagine my life without you.” (←Fallin’ by Alicia Keys) Anastasia’s mouth drops open. She has that look on her face, like she just stepped out of her body.

“Huh?” she can barely whisper. I kiss her hand. “I love you, too, Christian,” she says leaning in and kissing me. The passion erupts and our kiss deepens. I hear Taylor clearing his throat, and reluctantly I pull back still gazing at my woman. I stand and snake my arm around her waist. “Yes?” I snap at Taylor for interrupting. “Mrs. Lincoln is on her way up, sir.” “What?” I snap at Taylor. He shrugs apologetically. I sigh, and shake my head. I had told her off today, and she's showing up here now. What the fuck does she want? “Well, this should be interesting,” I say, and grin in resignation. I’ve had hell of a day today, and this will only add to it to say the least. Anastasia’s face turns expressionless, and her body goes rigid in my arms. Fuck! She’s mad.

Yet leave me not; yet, if thou wilt, be free; Love me no more, but love my love of thee.
CHAPTER XIII
* Algernon Charles Swinburne (from his poem – EROTION)

Anastasia turns and asks me if I talked to Elena today. “Yes,” I reply. “What did you say?” she asks curiously. It’s not necessary to tell her how furious I was with Elena; because I don’t want to further feed her anger towards Elena. “I said that you didn’t want to see her, and told her that I understood your reasons. I also made it clear to her that I didn’t appreciate her going behind my back to contact you,” I tell her with an impassive face. I am nervous at how she might react, because when Elena’s name comes up, Anastasia reacts as if she stepped on live wire. “What did she say?” (←Don’t Mess With My Man by Nivea)

“She brushed it off like Elena would,” I say. It is true that Elena did try to brush it off, but I was already having a very shitty day thanks to Anastasia here, so, Elena actually got stuck in the shit storm coming from me. Anastasia’s eyes scrutinize my face. My lips give the smallest crook which doesn’t translate into a smile, but then she has this effect on me which makes me want to grin at her most the time. “Why do you think she’s here now?” she asks concerned that maybe this has something to do with my conversation with her. I’m wondering that too. “I have actually no idea,” I say shrugging. Taylor comes back into the living room with Elena in tow, and he announces “Mrs. Lincoln.” I don’t think Taylor likes Elena, being the professional he is, he doesn’t give much away.

Elena is in her usual all black attire: black jeans that are just like a second skin on her legs, a black body hugging shirt, and her signature well groomed blonde hair.

As Elena enters into the room, I automatically pull Anastasia into my arms protectively; ready to shield her from anyone who dares to come in her proximity. “Elena,” I greet her, still puzzled with her presence here. She must have assumed that what she had witnessed before a show before, because when she sees my arms all wrapped around Anastasia her mouth drops open, and in fact I see Taylor gleefully restraining himself from helping her lift her jaw off the floor as he’s exiting the door. He’s amused I notice, and frankly, so am I. Elena manages to blink herself into her I’m-now-back-in-control face and softens her voice couple of notches. “I’m sorry Christian. I didn’t realize you had company with you. It is Monday,” she says as if this will explain her visit. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: Anastasia is my girlfriend 24/7 around the clock. So, Monday wouldn’t make a jack shit difference. Anastasia is not my sub! But I have the greatest pleasure of announcing her that Anastasia is my “Girlfriend.” Saying that out loud to her in Anastasia and Elena’s presence gives me great pleasure, and I smirk. Of course Elena smiles back, and only at me. “Of course, Christian. Hello, Anastasia. I didn’t know you’d be here. I know you don’t want to talk to me and I accept that,” she says to Ana. “Do you?” asks Anastasia quietly, in a cold steady tone, her gaze is boring into Elena. Her completely in control demeanor takes me by surprise, and I think Elena is shocked as well because she takes a few steps back as if she’s shoved away.

“Yes, I get the message. I’m not here to see you. As I said, Christian rarely has company during the week,” she says, and explains, “I have a problem, and I would like to talk to Christian about it.” This is news, and actually a welcome distraction with her friction between Anastasia. “Really?” I ask my curiosity piqued. “Do you want a drink?” I ask finding my manners after scolding her today. “Yes, please,” she replies with a welcome sound. She must have thought I was going to kick her out. I walk to get her a drink, grab some wine glasses while leaving Anastasia and Elena alone in the living room for a minute. Elena finally walks to the kitchen island, and sits on the bar stool where she usually claims her seat. When I turn with glasses and bottle of wine, Anastasia scoots on the bar stool I vacated. I put a glass before Elena and Anastasia and pour them wine. “What’s up?” I ask Elena without a preamble.

Elena is nervous, because she wants privacy, and Anastasia’s presence is unwelcome for her. She doesn’t have to say in words; I know Elena so well, I can read the thought in her face no matter how hard she tries to hide it. It’s time to nip it in the bud. She needs to understand that Anastasia isn’t a sub; she isn’t ordinary. She’s my girlfriend. I reach out to Anastasia’s hand and clasp it before Elena’s widening gaze. There’s no one like Anastasia; no one is her equal in my eyes. (←No One Like You by Scorpions) “Anastasia’s with me now,” I say to her in a tone she understands well: Deal with it! Anastasia’s eyes widen, grateful. Elena’s face changes into a soft tone. She was the first one to tell me I was in love with Anastasia. It is that look that says she’s pleased and happy for me. Anastasia flushes.

Elena finally nods, accepting. Because my words, demeanor and stance all indicate to her that she either speaks to me in Anastasia’s presence or she can leave. I want Anastasia to see that I have nothing to

hide from her. Elena looks very nervous. She starts looking at her hands, and starts twisting the silver ring on her middle finger over and over again like it will provide her the answer she is seeking. I haven’t seen like this often – Elena, not knowing what to do about something. She’s always in control, always cool, calm, and collected. After fidgeting her in her seat a little more, she figures out that the silver ring in her middle finger won’t be providing her with the answers she’s seeking; she finally lifts her head up, assumes her ‘in-control’ of her emotions demeanor and looks at me squarely in the eye. “I’m being blackmailed,” she states flatly. About what? But, I have a feeling of what it might be about. I stiffen immediately. The only thing that is against her is what she had with me. Her lifestyle is not illegal... but yet, she wouldn’t want to make it public... “How?” I ask with horror clearly lacing my voice.

Elena reaches into her Louis Vuitton bag a takes out a note and tries to hand it to me. I shake my head. “No, put it down, and lay it out on the breakfast counter,” I say surprising Elena. “You don’t want to touch it?” she asks confused. “Of course not. Fingerprints,” I say by the way of explanation. “But, Christian, you know I can’t go to police with this,” she says. She opens up the note and I lean down to read it. But the amount they’re asking for surprises me. “They’re only asking for five thousand Dollars. Do you have any idea who it might be? Maybe someone in the community?” I ask Elena. “No idea,” she answers softly. “Could it be Linc?” I ask indicating her ex-husband, who after all beat the shit out of her after he discovered her illicit affair with me. “What? After all this time? I don’t think so,” she says grouchily. “How about Isaac – does he know?” I ask about her current submissive. “I haven’t told him,” she replies.

“I think he needs to know,” I respond, because if Elena’s lifestyle is going to be laid bare, so would Isaac’s. He has a right to know. Elena shakes her head. Anastasia tries to pull her hand away from me. Why? Is she mad? I hold it tighter, unwilling to let it go. She pulls again. I grasp once more in a tight hold and turn to look at her questioning. “What?” I ask. “I’m tired, Christian. I think I’ll go to bed,” she says. I assess her face. Is she angry? Sad? Hostile? Accepting? Her face is impassive, expressionless, but her eyes contain just the trace amount of jealousy. “Okay. I won’t be long,” I say reassuring her, I release her hand. Anastasia stands up to go to the bedroom, and Elena follows her movements with wary eyes, but Anastasia says nothing. “Goodnight, Anastasia,” says Elena with a polite smile. “Goodnight,” grumbles Anastasia in a forced, cold voice as if she’s radiating tension. That’s what she’s been hiding behind the impassive face.

When Anastasia leaves the room, I turn to Elena and tell her exactly what is going through my mind. “I don’t think there’s a great deal I can do, Elena. If it’s a question of money...” I say the thought hanging in the air. It’s not a lot of money to begin with as they’re asking only five thousand dollars. Is this someone’s idea of a joke, or are they trying to taunt her? “I could ask Welch to investigate this,” I say, and this is the best I can do for this problem. “No need, Christian. I just wanted to share,” she says. Of course she’s got a name to protect. But what she says next changes the topic. “You look...” she says pausing as if to find the right words to say to me, “look very happy.” That about sums it. “Yes, I am,” I reply truthfully. “You deserve to be happy,” she says. “I wish it were true,” I say sadly. Her face changes to one of patronizing.

“Christian! Does she know how negative you are about yourself?” she asks scolding. “About all your issues...” she adds raising her eyebrows significantly. But it is more than a question. It’s a challenge. Is Anastasia just a sexual partner, or more? “She knows me better than anyone,” I say to let her make the distinction on her own. “Ouch! That hurts,” she comments. I was right; she was indicating that she knew me better than anyone else. “It’s the plain truth Elena. I don’t have to play games with her. And I mean it; you need to leave her alone,” I say boring into her eyes, drilling this. “What’s her problem?” she asks as if there is something wrong with Anastasia for not wanting to hang out with her and swap recipes – if Elena cooked that is. “You are...What we were...what we did. She doesn’t understand that.” “Then make her understand, Christian,” she insists. The audacity! “Elena, that’s the past. Why would I want to make her understand and taint her with our fuckedup relationship? Anastasia isn’t like that – she’s incredibly sweet, and good,” I say and sigh with an immediate longing for her though she’s in the same house. That doesn’t escape Elena’s shrewd gaze. And still in awe of the fact of Anastasia’s love for me, I add, “and by some miracle she loves me.” And I’m head over heels in love with her! (←Head Over Heels by Fears For Fears) “It is no miracle Christian,” Elena chides me. “You really have to have a little faith in yourself. You truly are quite a catch. I’ve told you this often,” she says and looks in the direction of my bedroom. “Anastasia seems lovely too. She seems strong,” she says probably remembering how Anastasia gave her what’s for in the fundraising. “She seems like someone to stand up to you.” I smile at how she drove me crazy all day, going toe to toe with me. Standing up to me? She’s a life force to be reckoned with. “Yes, she’s large and in charge.” “Don’t you miss it?” Elena asks raising her eyebrows. “What?” I snap.

“Your playroom,” she asks. Why would she ask about that, and why the fuck is this any of her business? “That is really none of your fucking business, Elena,” I snap at her, my eyes going dark. She’s trying to take charge of my life, and I don’t like it one bit. She retreats right away. “I’m sorry,” she says in the most insincere fashion. She’s just testing her boundaries like a predator. Checking for that chink in the armor. I have to nip it in the bud. “I think you had better go. And from now on, please call before you come again,” I glare at her wanting her to leave. “I really am sorry, Christian,” she says this time finally meaning what she says. “Since when are you so sensitive?” she censures me. This has gone far enough. I don’t want Elena talking about Anastasia as if she’s a sub, or as if she’s someone who can be replaced. My playroom is not more important than Anastasia. She’s the most important thing in my life! “Elena, what you and I have now is a business relationship which clearly has profited both of us immensely. Let’s just keep it that way. What we had,” I say emphasizing in the past tense, “between us is now part of the past. Anastasia is my future. I won’t jeopardize it in anyway, so cut the fucking crap!” I say making it clear that Anastasia is her off limits. “I see,” she says blandly, but these two words have finally the understanding what I have been trying to drill into her all along. “Look... I’m sorry for your current trouble. Maybe you should just ride it out and call them on their bluff,” I say softening blow. But Elena’s mind is elsewhere. “I don’t want to lose you Christian,” she says softly. Is she coming on to me? “I’m not yours to lose Elena!” I snap, seething with anger. “That’s not what I meant,” she tries to correct herself, but I know Elena all too well. “What did you mean then? Enlighten me,” I say my anger not receding. “Look Christian, I’m not going to argue with you. Your friendship means a lot to me. I’ll back off from Anastasia, but I’m here for you if you need me,” she says looking into my eyes intently. “I always will be,” she adds firmly.

“Anastasia thinks that you saw me last Saturday,” I say remembering that Elena lied to her. “You just called, that’s all. Why did you tell her otherwise?” I probe. “I only wanted her to know how upset you were when she left you. I don’t want her to hurt you,” she says. “She knows. I’ve told her about it. Stop interfering in my relationship. God, you’re like a mother hen,” I say exasperated. “I know, and I’m sorry about that. You must know I care about you. I never thought you’d end up falling in love Christian. But it is very gratifying to see. On the other hand, I couldn’t bear to see if she hurt you,” she says concern lacing her voice. “I’ll take my chances,” I say still not willing to let her butt in. “Now, are you sure you don’t want Welch to sniff around this?” “I guess it wouldn’t do any harm,” she says sighing. “Alright. I’ll call Welch in the morning,” I say getting up, wanting her to leave. “Thank you Christian,” she says, getting up. “And, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude. I’ll go now, and next time I’ll call,” she adds. “Good,” I say firmly.

I lead Elena out of the penthouse, and make my way back to my bedroom hastily, concerned about Anastasia. When I get back to my bedroom Anastasia is sitting on my bed. “She’s gone,” I say softly and warily, trying to assess what she’s thinking. Is she mad? She looks up at me, and what she says surprises me. “Will you tell me about her? I’m just trying to comprehend why you think she helped you,” she says, and pauses before she completes her thought. “I do loathe her, Christian. I believe she caused you untold damage. You have no friends; did she keep them away from you?” she asks.

Two exasperating women in one night are too much to handle. I run my hand through my hair; I just want to groan! Argh!

“Why the fuck do you want to know about her?” I say angrily. “We had a very long standing affair, she beat the shit out of me very often, and I fucked her in all sorts of ways you can’t even imagine. That’s the end of the story,” I say in one breath, getting angrier by the minute. Blood drains out of Anastasia’s face. She swallows. She’s surprised and blinks. “Why are you so angry at me?” “Because all that shit is OVER!” I shout at her angrily, willing her to fucking understand. Fuck! I’m losing it with her! She blanches, checking out. She looks down at her hands, so tightly knotted, blood draining out of them, paling. I don’t want to hide anything from her. I just don’t want her to focus on my past too much which she clearly hates. I finally calm down, and sit beside her. “What do you want to know?” I ask warily. She shakes her head withdrawn, “It’s alright. You don’t have to tell me. I don’t mean to intrude,” she says softly. It’s not about intrusion; it’s how my past and my future is crashing into each other, and I’m the one who is going to get hurt in this collision, possibly by losing her. “It’s not that Anastasia. I really hate talking about this shit, because I’ve lived in a bubble for years with nothing affecting me. I didn’t have to justify myself to anyone. And, Elena has been there as a confidante. But now my past and my future are colliding in a way I never thought possible,” I say, emotionally exhausted. Her gaze comes up to meet my wary eyes. “I never thought I would have a future with anyone, Anastasia. Yet, you give me hope and have me thinking about all sorts of possibilities,” I say drifting. Some of which I don’t have the heart to convey to her. It’s beyond living together. It’s more...like in the line of forever. (←Colorblind by Counting Crows) “I was listening,” she says embarrassed, staring back down to her hands. “Listening to what? You mean to our conversation?” I ask. “Yes,” she replies softly. “Well?” I ask finally resigned. What did she think of what she heard? “She cares for you,” Anastasia concludes.

“Yes, I believe she does. I for her in my own way, but that doesn’t come close to how I feel about you at all. If this is what this is about...” I say thinking she’s jealous, and it’s not all unwelcome. I like her being jealous of me. “I’m not jealous,” she states, unsure of her thoughts. “You don’t love her,” she murmurs. Is this a question that’s bugging her? It must be. I sigh, getting angry. It’s my fucking past! I can’t change it! It happened; I lived it, now I’m over it. I’m with her now! Doesn’t that count for something? “A long time ago, I thought I loved her,” I say baring my fucking soul through my gritted teeth. She is surprised with this statement. “But, when we were in Georgia...” she says slowly, scared to find out what I might say, “you said you didn’t love her.” “That’s right,” I answer. But my answer gives her a confused frown. “I loved you then Anastasia,” I whisper. Does she not know how much? “You’re the only person I’d fly three thousand miles to see,” I state fervently. Not Elena, not someone else. Just Anastasia! Her frown deepens, not understanding. “Everything I feel for you is very different than any feeling I ever had for Elena,” I explain. “When did you know?” she asks. I shrug. “Ironically, Elena pointed that out to me. In fact she encouraged me to go to Georgia,” I tell her. She shakes her head. Her hands runs through her face as if to wash off some unsavory thought from her mind finally her fingers clasp each other firmly on her lap. She swallows nervously. “So you desired her when you were younger?” “Yes,” I reply, and her face falls. “She taught me a great deal. She taught me to believe in myself,” I explain. We live what we have to at a time, and that’s what I had when I was younger; a fucked up teen wallowed up and drowning in my own

issues, unable to find the shore - and Elena simply showed me the way to it in her fucked up way. I believe there is an old eastern proverb to explain this well: Those who fall into the ocean, hang onto a snake if they must to stay afloat. “But she also beat the shit out of you,” Anastasia says disapprovingly.

Somehow the thought of it makes me happy, and I smile fondly of the memory. Because I was an arrogant, trouble making teen that needed to be beat at the time. “Yes, she did,” I reply. “And you liked that?” she asks incredulous. “At the time I did,” I reply. “Huh,” says Anastasia with surprise. “So much so that you wanted to do it to others?” she asks.

Her assessment is correct. I want to be honest with her, but my eyes grow wide with wariness, and I am serious now, “Yes,” I respond quietly. “Did she help you with that?” she probes further. Does she really want to find that out? “Yes,” I reply. “Did she sub for you?” She asks as her gaze is locked on mine, not missing one single expression. “Yes,” I respond without breaking my gaze. A breath escapes her as if she’s punched. “Do you expect me to like her?” she asks in a frail voice, bitterly. “No, of course not. Although, it’d make my life a hell of a lot easier,” I say, though I don’t know if I like the idea. “But I understand your reticence.”

She snaps at my statement. “Reticence! Good God, Christian! What if that was your own son-how would that make you feel?” What? No one forced me to be with her! I didn’t have to stay... I made the choice. I blink at her confused. “I didn’t have to stay with Elena,” I say frowning. “It way my own choice too, Anastasia,” I murmur. I even liked it at the time.

Anastasia shakes her head sadly. “Who’s Linc?” she asks. “He’s her ex-husband,” I reply. “Lincoln Timber?” “The very same,” I reply smirking. “And who is Isaac?” “Isaac is Elena’s current submissive.” Anastasia’s face takes the shape of someone who is horrified. She’s thinking that it’s another teen Elena got her claws into. “Isaac is in his mid-twenties, Anastasia. You know, a consenting adult,” I quickly add for her to get her mind out of the disgusted thoughts about Elena. She turns puce, “he’s your age,” she says with realization.

We are going nowhere with this. Clearly where Elena is concerned, all Anastasia sees is red, and a monster. “Look, Anastasia... Like I said to Elena earlier, she’s part of my past, but you are my future. Don’t let Elena come between us please! And frankly, I’m quite bored” maybe tired, “of this subject. I’m going to do some work,” I say standing up. Fucking visit from Elena dampened everyone’s mood. I gaze down at her, “Let it go, please,” I say softly. She stubbornly stares at me. This isn’t going to be the last of this topic, will it? Heaven forbid! “Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. Your new car has arrived a day earlier. It’s parked in the garage. Taylor has the key to it.” She lights up with the news. “Can I drive it to work tomorrow?” she asks. “No,” I respond firmly. Not till Leila problem is resolved.

“Why ever not?” she asks. “You know why not Anastasia. That incidentally reminds me. From now on, if you’re going to leave your office for any reason, let me know. Sawyer was there watching you. It appears that I can’t trust you to look after yourself at all,” I say scowling. She’s on the receiving end of scrutiny for a change this evening. She stares back at me without blinking. “Clearly, I can’t trust either. You could have told me that Sawyer was watching me,” she mutters. “What? Do you want to fight about that topic too?” I snap at her. “I didn’t know we were fighting, Christian. I just thought we were communicating,” she mumbles irritably. Christ! Give me strength! She pushes all my buttons all at the same time! I close my eyes trying to rein in my temper. Ten...nine...eight...seven...six...five...four...three...two...one... Breathe in...Breathe out. When I open my eyes again, Anastasia is watching me anxiously. (←The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson) “I have to work,” I say quietly, and leave the room. I can’t take any more arguments tonight.

Instead of having mind-blowing sex with my very hot, very loquacious, stubborn as a Missouri mule mutinous girlfriend, I am now forced to read Mr. Ipkins’ report on emerging markets. What an evening!

I walk into my office sulkily, and sit in my chair. I open the message from Ros and start going over the report. I’ve already gone over the report on China. Now, I read the one about Russia.

The report starts with top industries in Russia:

Oil and Gas Extraction Support Activities for Mining Metal Ore Mining Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Machinery, Equipment and Supplies Banking and Credit Intermediation Rail Transportation Pesticide, Fertilizer and Other Agricultural Chemical Manufacturing

Then it goes on listing the top companies in Russia. The summary finally goes on recapping everything that’s been said. “Russian economy is the world’s ninth largest by nominal GDP and sixty largest by purchasing power parity, and it’s the third largest nominal military budget. It is one of the world’s fastest growing major economies. The country has a market economy with its enormous natural resources, particularly in oil and natural gasses. The country has ended its ninth straight year of growth averaging 7%...” My mind isn’t focusing, but I must. I have to clear the shit from this evening without going crazy. What better way to do it if not reading about the world’s emerging markets? I immerse myself for the next two hours reading about country after country. By the time I’m done going over the report, it’s passed midnight. My mind is clear of the clutter of the early evening, and I miss Anastasia.

Suddenly I feel the urge to hold her in my arms, and kiss her. I turn my laptop off and make my way into my bedroom. Anastasia isn’t here. Oh shit! Where could she have gone? The first thing that comes to my mind is that she’s taken off, and left me. Of course she would! I’d never forgive myself for the way I left the room, telling her I’m bored of talking to her about Elena! The truth of the matter is I’m scared of talking about my past...scared to the core. There is a lot of shit I want to hide from Anastasia. Why would she want me if she uncovered them? Find out what a nasty fucking son-of-a-crack-whore I was! Why would she want to have anything to do with me? (←If You Go Away by Julio Iglesias) The clothes she had earlier are lying on the bed. I look around; check the closet. Nothing seems out of order. Oh shit! She probably got so mad, and changed into jeans and a t-shirt, and took off! As I stand in the closet nervous as hell, I take my Blackberry out. With shaky fingers I press the speed dial #1. I hear “Your Love is King” playing in... my bedroom? I walk back into the bedroom, and retrieve her Blackberry from her purse. Yep, I’m calling her...her personal belongings including her purse and Blackberry are here. Dumbstruck, I disconnect my phone. Where could she have gone? If she left the purse and phone here, she couldn’t have gone far. Well, maybe not the phone. She left her phone here with me when she first left me. Maybe she just wants to be away from me tonight... Maybe she just got very mad after the whole shitty day, Elena showing up, and me scolding her over Elena inquisition. I run to see if she’s in her former room. The room is tidy as if no one has touched it. The bed is made and clear. White sheets and cover are crisp as the time Mrs. Jones laid them there. The room is devoid of anything of Anastasia. Let alone her presence, not even her scent is here. My heart is thumping. I run to the playroom, but the door isn’t open. The only other place she could go is the library and I make my way into the library nervously. If she isn’t there, I have to get Taylor and the security detail. My mind is going crazy! I just fucking remembered that the balcony door was open in my bedroom.

I run back to the bedroom, and check the balcony door that is still gaping open like an ominous question. Fuck! Did Leila come and take Anastasia? How did I not notice that? My hands rush to my face, and I cup my face in my hands forcefully running them through my hair. But, Anastasia’s clothes are on the bed. Would Leila make her change her clothes to take her? That doesn’t make sense. My heart is thumping. I have one more place to check. Let me see the library. If she’s not there, then I’ll allow myself to panic. I run top speed to the library, which of course doesn’t take long. I swing the door open, and close my eyes in utter and complete relief. The sight before me gives me peace along with contentment. Thank God!

Anastasia is curled up in an overstuffed chair with Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, one of the many first edition books I have. She’s wearing a pale pink satin long nightgown with a matching robe. She looks like an angel who fell asleep. Sexy, beguilingly innocent, and just lovely. All I want to do is to go and hold her in my arms.

Scared of waking up, I walk near her. I slowly take the book out of her hands. My eyes drift into the page, and I look up at her as my breath catches with the line capturing my eyes, I sag into the nearest chair: “I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say.” Is this what this is? Fever of first love? Is it what’s driving me insanely jealous and crazy? As I sit in the opposite chair and watch Anastasia, all curled in on herself, innocent; I realize that she looks even younger, childish even now that she’s asleep. I flip the pages of the book slowly. Another line strikes me right in my core: “I suppose sooner or later in the life of everyone comes a moment of trial. We, all of us have our particular devil who rides us and torments us, and we must give battle in the end.” Is my battle coming soon, and do I want to find out? All I want to do at this moment is to take my woman back to our bed, and hold her till this feeling of loss subsides in me. I lean down, and trying not to jostle her, pick her up in my arms. She blinks her eyes open. “Hey,” I murmur as she looks into my eyes. “You fell asleep here, and I couldn’t find you,” I say without being able to hide the anxiety in me. My face nuzzles into her hair, inhaling her brand of scent deep losing myself in her. She smiles and lifts her arms around my neck and holds onto me, her nose in my neck. We are two people inhaling each other, intoxicated with each other’s scents. I make my way to my bedroom, and lay Anastasia down on our bed after pulling the duvet cover open. She puts her head on the pillow. I lean down and kiss her on the forehead, “sleep, baby,” I whisper, and as I rub her hair, she slowly closes her eyes, and drifts back to sleep.

I sit on the bed, just watching Anastasia, my heart fluttering. How peaceful she looks, how worried I was with the thought of her being gone. And the relief I felt finding her in the library. I don’t know what I would do without her. I just can’t exist! Not without being out of my mind. Just the few minutes took me to find her were hellish torment! How could I go through ... go through a lifetime? She just conquered me all the way; I’m hers. (←She’s Got A Way by Billy Joel) I’m wide awake with worry, and sleep won’t claim me. I close the balcony door, and make sure it’s tightly locked. I go to the closet and divest myself off my clothes, and just put my pajama bottoms on. I come back out and gaze at Anastasia. Why do we fight? Why do I fight with her? I hate fighting with her! It rips my heart up every time we go at it. I don’t like hurting her feelings, but then no one else presses my buttons like she does. In fact, the fights we have don’t only hurt my heart, but hurt every part of my body as if they have manifested themselves physically. When she goes toe to toe with me, I just want her to pull me back, and wrap me around. Because what she doesn’t know is that every time I’m with her, I have my heart in my hand for her... The fear of losing her is always haunting me, and that’s why I fight with her against her wildly independent streaks as if she’s going to run away from me, run away with someone. And why shouldn’t she anyway? I’m so unworthy of being loved by the likes of her.

I go out to the living room and find my way to my piano. The piano after all is my way of expressing all the emotions I’m not able, willing or capable of wording. It allows me to communicate in the subtlest truths about me by means of metal, wood, ivory and of course vibrating air when I put my fingers on it. It speaks for me when I’m unable to. It expresses the cries of my soul when my eyes can’t shed a single tear. I lower the piano’s lid so it doesn’t wake Anastasia up, and turn the small bubble of light on the piano, and sit on the bench and let my soul cry out all his lamentations, sorrows, worries, and fears. (←Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata) I don’t know how long I’ve been playing one lamenting piece after another, but I feel her burning gaze on me. My chest involuntarily rises to accommodate my rushing breathing. I glance up and lock gazes with her still continuing to play, wanting her to hear my silent fears. She takes a step towards me, and another, then another. Slowly she makes her way to me, as I follow her with my watchful eyes. She reaches up to me, and I stop playing. “Why did you stop? That was a lovely piece,” she says in her soft pink satin nightgown, all alluring, feminine, and enticing.

“Do you have any idea how desirable you look at the moment? I ask her in a soft voice. “Come to bed,” she whispers. I hold my hand out to her, and she takes it, and the second we touch the short distance between us is too far, and too great for it to be bearable. I tug her hand and she falls into my lap. I wrap my arms around her, holding and nuzzling her neck right behind her ear. The usual jolt of electricity travels and courses through our connection, boiling my blood. “Why do we fight?” I finally whisper to her. My teeth graze her earlobe. (←Lacrimosa by Mozart) “Because we’re getting to know each other, Christian, and you’re stubborn and morose and moody and difficult,” she murmurs in a breathless tone while I nuzzle her neck. She shifts her head and arches her neck to allow better access for my lips making me smile. “My dear Miss Steele, I’m all those things. It’s such a wonder you put up with me,” I say as I nip her earlobe sending shivers down her spine making her moan with desire. “Is it always like this?” I sigh. “I’ve not idea,” she murmurs. “Me neither,” I say and I swiftly yank the sash of her robe and it falls open and what is between my hand and Anastasia’s body is just a very thin, very fragile piece of satin. Oh God! My hand moves up and down her body, caressing, possessing, touching, feeling, receiving. I reach up to her breast, and with the gentlest of touch, her nipple hardens, and strains against the thin satin of the night gown. My fingers trail down to her waist, and making their way to her hip, to her sex. “God, Anastasia, you feel so fine under this material; I can see everything,” I say gently tugging her pubic hair though the fabric, “even this,” I say in a whisper, and she gasps. My other hand fists at the nape of her hair. As I pull her head back, I kiss her fervently, hard, and my tongue forces its way into her mouth, darting, claiming, and caressing relentlessly, trying to fulfill a bottomless pit of need I have for her. She moans in my mouth, and her hands reach up to my face, caressing in response to my ministrations on her body and in her mouth. I pull her night gown up and my hand palms her round buttock caressing it, running my thumbnail up and down inside her thigh.

I want to fuck her on top of my piano. The last time I wanted to do that, we got distracted by the contract, and then the spanking and she left me... I want nothing to distract us now. I will fuck her right on my piano, but first, I have to render her punishment! I will claim her once and for all here. I quickly rise up from my seat and lifting Anastasia I deposit her onto the piano lid. Her feet are situated atop the keys creating unmelodious sounds, and I don’t give a shit about it. Anastasia has literally put me through hell today, and she fought me in the evening. I can’t spank her, or hit her, but I can still punish her. Sex...sex

is a great weapon of choice for punishment. My revenge will make her beg, sweetly torture her, yet, still away from her satisfaction...

My fingers travel and skim up and down her legs finally parting her knees. I quickly grab her hands, and order Anastasia to lie back atop the piano. I let her go; as she lies down, I push her legs wider, and her toes skim the piano keys irregularly. I kiss Anastasia inside her knee and slowly but surely I travel down inside her thigh kissing, gently biting, sucking, and skimming with my teeth. I push the satin nightgown up slowly as my mouth travels up her thigh slowly. My lips finally reach up to the juncture where her thighs meet, her sex blooms open glistening with her arousal, inviting, calling me. I forget everything, and kiss her within the folds of her sex, blowing, and my tongue darts out, and starts circling her clitoris, trying to dig in, taste her deeper, claiming her. I automatically push her legs wider which blooms her sex fully under my mouth like the spring rose. My tongue fucks her every way it knows, darting in, circling, licking, fellating, and as she gets in the rhythm her hips lift up and meets my mouth, matching the rhythm of my tongue and my ever consuming mouth. Her hips circle, and I’m lost in her, with her. “Oh my! Christian, please!” she begs. “Oh, no, baby, not yet,” I say. I don’t want her to come yet. She can’t come. She has tortured me today, and I will punish her with this. “Anytime you argue with me, I’m going to take it out on your body somehow,” I say with my punishing kisses along her belly, making her needy, wanton but far from release. So close yet so far away. My hands skim and move expertly along her thighs, as I strategically stop and knead and skim and put her nerves on fire, making her want me to fuck her, release her from her misery, yet, no release coming. My tongue dips into her navel as my fingers spears her sex, making her cry out “ah!” with the most desirous need. I circle both my tongue and my fingers in synchronization making her writhe beneath me. “Christian!” she cries out for me desperate for release. Her sex makes me desirous and frankly her moans are calling out to me to claim her, and I can brand her inside out, fuck her into submission. Argh! That side of me will never subside! I want her to submit me in some ways, and I love it when she resists, and fights, and I love it when she begs, I love it when I fuck her into obeying me like this! She owns me, and what I want is to own her back like this! She has already branded me in my soul. She is all I can think about. She is all that consumes me, and wherever I look, I see her.

I groan, and stop my ministrations into her sex, and lift her off the keys, push and slide her down atop the piano. Quickly divesting of my pajama bottom, I follow her up there kneeling between her legs, my most favorite place on earth, as I roll a condom on my cock.

I stare down at this goddess who owns me even when I try to fuck her into submission, and her conquest of me has been completed from within. Because I’m a man in love! Even the sight of her, the sound of her voice makes passion rise in me, turns me on, and all I want to do is to be with her, be in her, near her, and be consumed with anything about her. I lose sight of everything else. I feel like a starved man-starved for her affection. “I want you so badly,” I say, and sink into her slowly, and fuck her in a way reflecting my hunger for her as if fucking is going to be put on quota, and I want to get my ample share. But I also want to show her how much I love and desire her with my love making, and the yearning and desire in me. What starts out savoring, tasting, feeling, slow love making quickly become a possessing, and demanding fucking, and she wants it, meeting me thrust for thrust with her lifted up hips. As she cries out my name demanding more of me, I switch places with her placing her on top of me, as my cock is pushing into her from below as her hips are angulating over my length and it’s finally both of our undoing. As we reach our peak, orgasm shudders and courses through our connection, and like a big jolt it curls my toes, and arches my back as I push into her deep from below, spear her sex with three more harsh thrusts. I finally empty into her as her muscles around my cock, squeezes, and milks every last drop out of me.

When the last bit of shudders run its course, we both lie on the piano, and somehow she is atop me, and carefully rest her check against me. As our breathing slows down, I know that I want her this close to me at all times. I gently, lovingly stroke her hair. She asks me the strangest post coital question in a sleepy tone. “Do you drink tea or coffee in the evening?” “What an odd question,” I say relaxed. “Well, I thought I could bring you tea in your office, but then I realized I didn’t know what you really would like to drink,” she explains making my heart melt. She’s thinking of me. “I see. I usually drink water or wine in the evening Ana. But perhaps I should try tea,” I say knowing she likes tea, and maybe would like to keep me company.

I realize that Anastasia is making effort to get to know me, and I hampered her efforts this evening. The thought makes me forlorn, mournful. My hand moves absently on her back stroking her. “We really know very little about each other,” she whispers reflecting what I have been thinking. “I know,” I say in a tone mirroring my mood. She picks up on it, and sits up. “What’s the matter?” she asks. I don’t want to talk about it. I shake my head. Whatever the hell I am, and it is pretty fucked up, I know one truth, and that’s a pure and simple one: “I love you, Ana Steele,” I say with all my heart. (←Can’t Help Falling In Love sung by Julio Iglesias)

*****

Fingers gently caressing my hair wake me up. I find myself wrapped around Anastasia like the victory flag, and I find my hand claiming her breast, while one leg over her, wrapping and holding her down. God! I’m drawn to her awake or asleep.

I raise my eyes to her, and smile at her still half asleep. “Good morning beautiful,” I say with a wide grin. “Good morning beautiful yourself,” she smiles back at me. I lean and kiss her, retreating my legs and arms off her, I lean on my elbow and stare down at Anastasia who is still lying down.

“Did you sleep okay?” I ask. I know, I did. “If you are taking southbound I-5, please take a note that just south of Martin Luther King Jr Way – MP 157, there is a collision blocking the right lane. And the roadwork on the westbound I-90 will continue throughout the week and the left two lanes will remain closed. And in other news...” the news radio alarm continues in the background. “Yes, despite the interruption to my sleep last night,” Anastasia mock complains making me grin at her. “Hmm. You can interrupt me like that anytime,” I say kissing her again. “What about you? Did you get to sleep well?” she asks me.

“I always sleep well with you Anastasia,” I respond, and that’s the God’s truth. “No more nightmares then?” she probes further. “No,” I say. Not with her. She’s my dream catcher. Her expression changes to one of worried. “What are your nightmares about?” she asks. Remembering the pimp, my face falls, and my smile is replaced with a frown. “They’re flashbacks...to my early childhood, or so Doctor Flynn says. Some are quite vivid, and some are less so,” I say my gaze going away as if a memory is displayed in the eyes of my mind. Without thought, I caress her collarbone with a finger. “Do you wake up crying and screaming?” she asks in a halfhearted joke. I look at her quizzically. “No, Anastasia. I’ve never cried. As far as I can remember,” I say. Not over those memories anyway. But I don’t want to tell her how devastated I was and unable to help myself and cried over her. That will remain in my heart, and under the clauses of Taylor and Mrs. Jones’s NDAs. “Do you have any happy memories about your childhood?” she asks. I think about it. There was one about the crack whore. “I remember one time the crack whore baking. I remember the smell of it. It was a birthday cake I think...for me. And of course there’s Mia’s arrival with my mom and dad. My mom was very worried about how I would react to Mia but, the instant I met her, I completely adored her. My dad, Carrick told you that I didn’t speak for two years. It’s true. My first...very first word was Mia. Of course, I remember my first piano lesson. Miss Katie, my piano teacher was awesome. She had horses, too,” I smile remembering fondly. “You told me that your mom saved you. How?” she asks. I think the answer to that is obvious. What would happen if Grace Trevelyan-Grey didn’t adopt me? I’d go in the direction of my crack whore mother. A dope addict, man-whore. “She adopted me,” I explain in the simplest terms. “When I first saw her, I really thought she was an angel in her white smock. And she was very gentle, calm, and soft when she examined me. I’ll never forget that. If she said no to adopting me, or if Carrick had said no...” I can’t even bring the rest of the thought into words. It’d be my destruction. And yet she and Carrick saved me. I don’t want to think about all the shit

that could have happened to me early in the morning. “This is all a little too deep for this time of the morning,” I mutter. “I’ve made a vow to get to know you better,” she says softly. “Did you now Miss Steele? And here I thought you wanted to know whether I preferred coffee or tea,” I say smirking. “Anyway, I can think of one way for you to get to know me,” I say as I push my erection against her. “Hmm.. I think I know you quite well enough that way, Mr. Grey,” she teases. “I disagree. I don’t think I’ll ever get to know you well enough that way, Miss Steele,” I murmur into her ear. “There are of course a number of advantages to waking up next to you,” I say seductively. “Mr. Grey, I’m shocked. Don’t you have to get up?” she asks in a low, husky, and desirous voice. “Not this morning Miss Steele. There is only one place I want to be up right now and that is you,” I say with salacity. “Christian!” she gapes at me, completely shocked at my audacity. And I move on top of her grabbing her hands, and as I pull them atop her head, I stake my claim murmuring, “Oh, Miss Steele. Baby, what I’d like to do to you,” I whisper. It’s time for conquest.

****** After shower and getting dressed, Anastasia and I make our way to the breakfast bar to Mrs. Jones’ marvelous cooking. I have omelet and bacon and Anastasia pancakes and bacon. “Christian, when do you think I’m going to meet your trainer Claude Bastille and put him through his paces?” she asks. Her inquiry makes me grin. I’m tiring her out, and she wants stamina. “Depends if you want to go to New York this weekend or not. Perhaps you’d like to see him early one morning this week. I’ll ask Andrea to check on his schedule and come back to you,” I say, though I know Anastasia is not a morning person. “Andrea?” she asks sharply. Jealous are we, Miss Steele? “She’s my PA,” I explain. Her face relaxes.

“Oh, okay. One of your many blondes,” she says in a teasing tone. “She isn’t mine Anastasia; she just works for me. You are mine,” I reiterate. (←All I Want is You by U2) “I work for you, too,” she mutters acidulously. Oh, yes, baby, you sure do. I grin and reply, “So, you do,” and she can’t help but smile back at me. “Maybe Bastille can teach me to kickbox,” she says in a warning tone. “Oh yeah? Daydreaming about your chances against me?” I ask in an amused tone. I’d love a challenge. “Bring it on Miss Steele,” I say happily.

She notices the piano lid being up, and remarks on it. “I only closed it last night to not to disturb you. I suppose it didn’t work out so well, but then again, I’m glad it didn’t,” I say remembering our christening the piano. Anastasia flushes all the way to the hairline, anxiously looking at Mrs. Jones who is just minding her own business in her usual professional demeanor. She turns around and places Anastasia’s lunch bag before her on the counter. “Is tuna okay for later, Ana?” she asks politely. “Yes, Mrs. Jones, thank you!” Anastasia remarks smiling shyly. Mrs. Jones having completed her tasks leaves the kitchen to give us some privacy. Anastasia turns to me, and says, “Can I ask you something?”

Oh oh... whenever that question comes up, there is something that is unpleasant going through her mind. “Of course,” I say guarded. “And you won’t be angry?” “Why? Is it about Elena?” I say, which is one topic I get angry about. “No, then,” I reply. “I now have an additional question,” she says making a face.

“Oh?” that’s not good. “Which is about her,” she says and I roll my eyes. Why must we spoil our beautiful morning with the thought of Elena? “What?” I say snapping. “Why do you have to get so mad when I ask you about Elena?” she says confused. “Are you honestly asking me this?” I say incredulous. She scowls at me. “I thought you were always honest with me Christian,” she states narrowing her eyes on me. “I endeavor to be,” I reply her honestly. She scrutinizes me with her sharp gaze. “That’s a very evasive answer,” she says without blinking her eyes. “Ana, I’m always honest with you. You’re one person I don’t want to play games with. Well, not those kinds of games anyway,” I say wanton. She just giggles. “What sort of games do you want to play?” she asks quickly, already hot. God, it’s so easy to distract her! She’s got one track mind. What have I created here? “Miss Steele, how very easily you are distracted,” I state. “You are just distracting on so many levels, Mr. Grey,” she giggles again.

Damn woman! How she can get me elated with a simple girlish giggle. “That is my favorite sound in the whole world, Anastasia,” I say. “Okay, ask me your original question,” I coax her without further distraction. She frowns, trying to remember her question. “Yeah. Okay, you only saw your subs over the weekends?” “Yes, that’s correct,” I reply nervously. That’s not a good topic to be on knowing her jealousy meter runs higher, highest, and explosive. She grins. “So, you had no sex during the week,” she states.

I see what she is trying to decipher, making me laugh. “Is that where you were going with this?” I ask relieved. “Why do you think I work out every day?” Anastasia looks relieved, happy, and pleased with herself. “Miss Steele, you seem to look very pleased with yourself,” I say scrutinizing her face. “That I am, Mr. Grey,” she replies smugly. “You should be,” I grin. She knows that she’s a first in weekday sex with me, and I am equally pleased with this first as well. “Eat your breakfast, now,” I order.

***** When we get into the SUV to go to work, Taylor is in the driver’s seat to drop Anastasia off first, and we’ll go to GEH after. Sawyer is riding shogun, and he will go to work with Anastasia; but we agreed that he’s going to remain outside. I ask Anastasia something that has been bothering me, but I had forgotten with yesterday’s numerous issues. “Anastasia, didn’t you say that your roommate’s brother was arriving here today?” in a casual tone. I want Anastasia nowhere near him. He too has eyes for Anastasia. “Oh, Ethan, yes, he’s coming!” she gasps. “I completely forgot. Thank you for reminding me Christian. I’ll have to go back to the apartment,” she says. What? I didn’t remind her for his benefit! I can’t help it, and my face falls with worry. “What time?” I manage to ask. “I actually am not sure. I don’t know what time he’s arriving.” “I don’t want you going anywhere on your own,” I say sternly, almost menacingly. Nowhere! “I know,” she says rolling her eyes at me. “Will Sawyer be spying...ahem, I mean patrolling by the SIP today?” she asks, and Sawyer must be blushing because his ears turn red as my playroom. “Yes!” I snap at her with cold, sharp eyes. She’d do well to remember that. It’s for her own benefit. “If I was driving the Saab, it would have been a lot easier,” she says stubbornly. “Anastasia, Sawyer will have a car, and depending on the time, he can drive you to your apartment,” I state.

“Okay, okay,” she mutters petulantly. “Ethan will probably call me during the day. I’ll inform you of the plans after that,” she replies. “Okay then. But nowhere on your own, understand?” I ask waving a lecturing finger at her. “Yes, dear,” she mutters sweetly making me smile, just a trace. “And perhaps you should only use your Blackberry. I’ll e-mail you on it. This will prevent my IT guy having a thoroughly interesting morning, okay?” I ask acerbically. “Yes, Christian,” she says acquiescing, but still rolling her eyes at me. I smirk at her reaction, and lean in to her. “Why Miss Steele...” I whisper lasciviously, “I do believe you are making my palm twitch.”

“Oh, Mr. Grey, you and your perpetually twitching palm. What are we going to do with that problem?” she remarks and makes me laugh. I feel my Blackberry vibrating. I take it out, and look at the caller ID. Damn it! It’s Elena! Can’t I get a break from her? “What is it?” I say through gritted teeth as I answer the phone. “Christian, I’m really sorry to bother you early in the morning. But since you said you would talk to Welch, I called to tell you there is no need for it. It turns out, Isaac was creating a scene for us to act out,” she says relieved and hungry for her sub. My face relaxes, amused. “You’re kidding...”

“I’m not. There I was trying to explain him last night that I was being blackmailed about my lifestyle, and he blurted out that it was him who wrote that note for us to act out a scene, and obviously it was not an actual blackmail. You can understand my relief and anger of course...” she says. “For a scene...” “Yes, go figure.” “When did you say he told you this?” I say chuckling. “Last night, after I came home.” “Listen, Christian. I was preoccupied about this, and I might have upset you last night. So, I want to apologize for my intrusion between you and Anastasia. It wasn’t my intent.” She says. “No, don’t worry. You don’t need apologize. I’m only glad that there is a logical explanation. Although it did seem a ridiculously low amount of money...” “Yes, that’s what made me think, and I had my suspicions.” “I have no doubt you have something evil and creative planned for your revenge,” I say knowing how creative Elena can be with a whip or a rope. “Poor Isaac,” I say smiling. “Oh yes, and I’m looking forward to exacting my revenge,” she says calmly and that only means that she knows exactly how she’s going to get her dues. “Well, thank you again and sorry to bother you, Christian. “ “Good...Goodbye,” I say disconnecting the line. But when I look up, Anastasia is looking at me impassively, instantly making me wary. “Who was that?” she asks. “Do you really want to know?” I ask knowing how apprehensive she will get. She doesn’t answer; just shakes her head, her eyes instantly clouded with sadness. Her face falls and turning her head she looks out the window. No! no! no! I won’t let Elena’s call spoil our morning.

“Hey,” I say, reaching for her hand, taking it into my palm and kissing every single knuckle, and suck her little finger, hard. I then bite it softly, knowing it will send shivers down to her spine, and jolt her sex to attention all at the same time. She gasps involuntarily. Anastasia glances at Taylor and Sawyer in the front seat nervously, and then turns and looks at me finding me watching her with carnal desire. “Don’t sweat it Anastasia. Elena is in the past,” I say willing her to believe me. I kiss the center of her palm, and her face brightens up with a smile.

***** After we drop Anastasia to work, Taylor takes me to GEH. Andrea comes in with the day’s agenda and list of meetings. As soon as she leaves my office, I type an e-mail for Anastasia.

_________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: Sunrise Date: June 14, 2011 09:22 To: Anastasia Steele I absolutely love waking up to you in the morning. Christian Grey Completely & Utterly Smitten CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. _________________________________________ After hitting send, I have this grin on my face. What a good way to start my morning. I start going through my business e-mails, and Andrea knocks on my door, and then enters with my coffee. “Your coffee, sir. Is there anything else I can get you?” “That’s all for now Andrea,” I say dismissing her. She is still surprised to see the idiotic grin on my face, but then dons on her professional demeanor and scuttles out of my office, knowing better to leave me alone.

I take a large sip of my coffee. As I start going through my messages, a new e-mail dings into my e-mail box. Seeing Anastasia’s name I quickly click it, and I lift my coffee mug with the other hand to take another mouthful of sip.

_________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Sundown Date: June 14, 2011 09:34

To: Christian Grey My Dear Completely & Utterly Smitten Mr. Grey, I too love waking up to you. But I also love being in bed with you and in elevators and on pianos and billiard tables and boats and desks and showers and bathtubs and strange wooden crosses with shackles and four poster beds with red satin sheets and boathouses and finally childhood bedrooms. Yours truly, Sex Mad and Insatiable xx. _________________________________________

I choke on my fucking coffee and spit a mouthful of it all over my keyboard! And I think I have a growing tent in front of me, right before my 10:00 a.m. meeting! I quickly type a response to Anastasia. _________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: Wet hardware Date: June 14, 2011 09:36 To: Anastasia Steele My Dear Sex Mad & Insatiable, I’ve just spat coffee all over my keyboard. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. I do however admire a woman who concentrates on geography. Am I to presume that you just want me for my body? Christian Grey Completely & Utterly Shocked CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. _________________________________________ I get to work and my mind is already preoccupied with Anastasia lying on various locations while... argh! How am I supposed to focus on work today? I can’t think...I can’t concentrate... E-mails! Business e-

mails. I have meetings; I have to go over schematics. Breathe out. Easy Grey... Reserve fuck related thought outside the work hours. My hands run through my hair in frustration. Sexual frustration... And of course there won’t be any relief until tonight. So, you better get your frigging mind focusing on business, and not Miss Steele’s delectable ass... Focus Grey, focus!

I open up the designs the engineering team has sent me to examine them closely. A new email arrives as I go through the design and micro solar panels on the cell phone. _________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Giggling and wet too Date: June 14, 2011 09:41 To: Christian Grey My Dear Completely & Utterly Shocked Mr. Grey, Always. I have work to do now. So, stop bothering me Sex Mad and Insatiable xx. _________________________________________ Baby, you set me on fire! I’m not a stove! I can’t just turn it off. Hot and cold doesn’t run together in my body. (←Hot N Cold by Kathy Perry) After I finish analyzing the schematics, I type her response. _________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: Do I really have to? Date: June 14, 2011 09:49 To: Anastasia Steele My Dear Sex Mad & Insatiable, Your wish is my command as ever. I love that you’re giggling and wet. Laters baby. X Christian Grey Completely & Utterly Smitten, Shocked and Spellbound CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. _________________________________________

At 10:00 a.m. exactly I make my way to the meeting with the engineering team to discuss the preliminary schematics before going over the product next week, and their improvements to the solar powered self-winding cell phone design. The meeting goes on till nearly the lunch time and it is pleasingly productive. As the meeting progresses and we are examining the designs, my Blackberry buzzes. As soon as I see Anastasia’s name on it, and answer is right away, anxious to hear her voice. “Anastasia,” I say warmly, as if her name is litany on my lips. “Christian, Jack’s asked me to get his lunch,” she says without a preamble. “Lazy fucking bastard,” I complain. “So I’m going to get it. It might be handy if you just gave me Sawyer’s number; that way I don’t have to bother you,” she says. “It’s no bother for me baby,” I say. I’d like to be in control. “Are you on your own?” “No. There are six people staring at me at the moment wondering who the hell I’m talking to,” I explain nonchalantly. “Oh no... Really?” she gasps.

“Yes, really,” I answer her, and turn to the engineering team to explain, “My girlfriend.” By the shocked looks some of them are giving me, they must have thought I was batting for the home team. “You know Christian, they probably all thought you were gay,” she says making me laugh. “Yeah, probably,” I say, knowing they did by the way they look at me. “Uhm, yeah, I’d better go,” she says embarrassed. “I’ll inform Sawyer,” I say laughing. “Have you heard from your friend?” “Not yet, but of course you’ll be the first informed, Mr. Grey,” she says coyly. “Good. Laters, baby.” “Bye Christian,” she says.

***** As soon as I hang up with Anastasia, I dial Sawyer’s number. “Yes, Mr. Grey,” he answers the phone. “Sawyer, Miss Steele is going to go out, wait for her outside please,” I ask him. “Yes, sir,” he says, and I hang up to continue with my meeting. After the meeting, I go to a business lunch. Taylor drives me, and by 2:30 p.m. I’m back to GEH. I’m in my office and going over several business reports, my Blackberry alerts me of an incoming e-mail. I check the message and it’s from Anastasia. _________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: visitors from sunny climates Date: June 14, 2011 14:54 To: Christian Grey My Dear Completely & Utterly SS&S Mr. Grey, Ethan is back and he’s coming here to get the keys to the apartment.

I would really like to make sure he’s settled in okay. Why don’t you pick me up after work? We can go to the apartment and then we can ALL go out for a meal maybe? My treat? Yours, Ana X Still Sex Mad & Insatiable Anastasia Steele Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP _________________________________________ After finishing reading a short report, I e-mail Anastasia back. I noticed that she hasn’t used her Blackberry. God, this woman is completely stubborn! Follow my simple fucking rules Anastasia! _________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: Do I really have to? Date: June 14, 2011 15:04 To: Anastasia Steele I approve of your plan, Anastasia, except for the part about you paying. It’ll be my treat. I’ll pick you up at 6:00. X PS: Why the hell aren’t you using your Blackberry!?!! Christian Grey Completely & Utterly Annoyed CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. _________________________________________ Her reply doesn’t take long. It comes right when I’m reading the financial reports. _________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: your bossiness Date: June 14, 2011 15:10 To: Christian Grey Christian, don’t be so crusty and cross. It’s all in code as you already see. I’ll see you at six. Ana X Anastasia Steele Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP _________________________________________ Fuck! Why can’t you listen? Use the Blackberry!

_________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: One Maddening Woman Date: June 14, 2011 15:17 To: Anastasia Steele You think I’m crusty and cross now! I’ll give you and crusty and cross soon, and look forward to it. X Christian Grey Completely & Utterly More Annoyed, but smiling for some unknown reason CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. _________________________________________ I hit send, and go back to business, but she replies within a few minutes. _________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Oh, promises, promises. Date: June 14, 2011 15:22 To: Christian Grey Bring it on Mr. Grey. I too, look forward to it. ;D Ana X Anastasia Steele Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP _________________________________________ If I keep replying she’s going to combust me here, and she’s still not using her Blackberry. I don’t want to enable her.

I hit the intercom. “Yes, Mr. Grey?” answers Andrea. “Send Taylor in Andrea,” I order. “Of course sir,” she replies, and Taylor is in within thirty seconds. “Mr. Grey,” he says waiting for his orders. “Taylor, I need you to do a sweep at Anastasia’s apartment. We need to pick her up from work at six today, so she can let Miss Kavanagh’s brother into the apartment. Do the sweep, and we’ll go pick Miss Steele from SIP, then head to her apartment.”

“Yes, sir. Anything else, Mr. Grey?” “That’ll be all Taylor,” I say dismissing. I have so much work to get through before a busy evening with Anastasia and her roommate’s brother whom I have no intention of leaving alone with my girlfriend.

About an hour later, I receive a text message from Taylor: “The sweep is completed Mr. Grey. All is clean. On my way to GEH.”

Relieved, I go back to working. I work till about 5:30 at which time Taylor comes in ready to take me to pick Anastasia up. “Did you find any evidence that Leila had been to Anastasia’s apartment?” “When we have done the sweet, there was no evidence that anyone has been in the apartment sir. We’ve also checked around the complex. All seemed quiet, and clear.” “Great,” I reply and we are outside of SIP at around 5:55 p.m. I call Anastasia’s Blackberry. “Crusty and Cross here,” I greet her once she answers the phone. “Well, this is Sex Mad and Insatiable speaking. I take it you’re outside the building?” she asks. “Indeed I am Miss Steele. I’m looking forward to seeing you,” I say with wanton desire in a soft seductive tone. “Ditto, Mr. Grey. I’ll be right out,” she says before hanging up.

As soon as I see Anastasia leave the SIP building, I exit the SUV. She is just drinking me in. Her eyes linger on my gray pants a little too long. Her beaming smile elates my heart and I can’t wait to take her into my arms. I close the distance between us, and envelope her into my embrace, giving her a wet lingering kiss. “You look as captivating as you did this morning Miss Steele,” I say while still in her mouth.

“So do you Mr. Grey,” she replies once we break our kiss. “Alright, let’s go and get your friend,” I say smiling down at her. I take her hand, and let her into the SUV. We chat all the way through to her apartment. I enjoy telling her about my day. I remember telling her about the environmental breakthroughs the WSU’s Science Department in Vancouver has made. Those things are very important to me, because it’s all part of my feed the world plan. I remember getting Claude Bastille’s schedule before leaving from Andrea. I hand it to Anastasia. “Before I forget, these are the time slots that Claude Bastille is free this week,” I explain. As Taylor pulls into a parking space in Anastasia’s apartment complex, my phone buzzes in my pocket. I check the caller ID, and it’s Ros. “Grey,” I answer the phone. “Mr. Grey, this is Ros,” she replies. “Ros, what is it?” I ask. “It’s about the liquidation. I received the actual redundancy packages’ costs. It’s higher than the forecasted number.” “How much higher?” I ask cautiously. Anastasia turns to me and mouths, “I’ll go and get Ethan. I’ll be two minutes,” holding up two fingers. I nod at her as I continue to discuss the new cost I’m to pay with Ros. Taylor gets out and opens the door for Anastasia. “Approximately 25% higher,” she says making me cringe. “Fuck Ros!” I say angry. “Who cooked up the preliminary numbers? A couple percent up or down is expected, but 25%?” “Finance department has done the cost analysis,” she says. “Well, they’re all fucking incompetent if they’re missing the numbers by 25%!” I yell into the phone.

“We can’t completely blame the finance, Christian!” she chides me. “There are always hidden costs in these. If the company has employees who have worked over 10 years, then those packages are going to cost considerably more than the others. And this company had quite a few long time employees, and some close to retirement age. So, the retirement packages combined with the long term employment is going to cost us up to 25% of the original forecast.”

I sigh. She goes on explaining the details of the hidden cost for the next several minutes. I notice that Anastasia isn’t back yet. But what alerts me is Taylor’s reaction. “Mr. Grey!!” he yells, as he jumps out of the car full speed towards Anastasia’s door. Right on the second floor, walking towards Anastasia’s apartment’s door leisurely is Ethan Kavanagh. I drop my Blackberry in the car with the scene before me as all sorts of scary thoughts running through my head, and run towards Anastasia’s apartment. By the time I reach to Ethan Kavanagh, Taylor already tackled Ethan to the floor yanking the key out of his hand.

“What the hell, man!” Ethan protests. “Get your fucking body off me!” “Taylor,” I say to ease up. He rights Ethan Kavanagh up, but his gaze is unwavering. “Ethan, have you been to the apartment?” I question him. “No, I met a friend and we went out for a drink. I’m just getting back. What is this about?” I look up at Taylor, worry and concern in my face is reflected on Taylor’s. Anastasia isn’t back, and she doesn’t have a key to her apartment. Someone has let her in, and that someone isn’t Ethan Kavanagh. There’s only one person who can let her in, and that’s Leila! Fuck! My world shatters with this thought. “You stay here, and don’t come up!” I warn him sternly, as Taylor and I run up to Anastasia’s apartment. My heart lurches to my mouth. I kick Anastasia’s door open, and my heart falls to the ground with the sight before me.

Leila is holding Anastasia at gunpoint. I die a thousand deaths with this sight! All my fears are coming true! I failed to protect Ana! If Leila has harmed her or gets to harm her because she has a grudge against me, I can never forgive myself. I’d die. I’m in agony already with the sight before me. (←Dreaming With a Broken Heart by John Mayer)

It hurts to breathe. It hurts to look at Anastasia who is at the receiving at of the barrel of a gun. At this moment I’m seething with anger towards everyone, and top of the list is occupied by Leila. If anything happens to Anastasia, I can’t exist without her! She’s my sun! Leila has a fucking gun pointed at Anastasia! She looks disheveled and crazed. She holds her gun even tighter when she sees me standing at the door. Whatever she wants to do, she looks intent on accomplishing it. I can’t bear the thought! Oh God! This is my personal hell...my personal torment coming into realization! What I reminded myself to be just a nightmare is here before me playing out... I glance at Ana, scanning her body with my gaze for any injury or hurt from top of her head to her high heeled feet, and seeing no visible injury, relief washes over me. But it’s short lived, because here’s Leila still holding her gun up to Ana as if she’s finally going to get some recompense for whatever she thinks I’ve done to her. I swallow. If she’s going to shoot anyone, it will not be Anastasia. I can’t live in a universe where Anastasia didn’t exist. Losing Anastasia wouldn’t just cause heartbreak. I don’t even know why they call it heartbreak! Because it feels like part of my body and all of my soul is missing too! My love, my heart lies bleeding with this sight! My heart is chaffed. I numb the pain, and the love I have for Anastasia deliberately, and intent on saving her from what I have brought to her doorsteps. I enter into the apartment; my gaze is fixed on Leila. I’m in charge, I’m her Dom.

*****

EROTION

Sweet for a little even to fear, and sweet, O love, to lay down fear at love's fair feet; Shall not some fiery memory of his breath Lie sweet on lips that touch the lips of death? Yet leave me not; yet, if thou wilt, be free; Love me no more, but love my love of thee. Love where thou wilt, and live thy life; and I, One thing I can, and one love cannot — die. Pass from me; yet thine arms, thine eyes, thine hair, Feed my desire and deaden my despair. Yet once more ere time change us, ere my cheek Whiten, ere hope be dumb or sorrow speak, Yet once more ere thou hate me, one full kiss; Keep other hours for others, save me this.

Yea, and I will not (if it please thee) weep, Lest thou be sad; I will but sigh, and sleep. Sweet, does death hurt? thou canst not do me wrong: I shall not lack thee, as I loved thee, long. Hast thou not given me above all that live Joy, and a little sorrow shalt not give? What even though fairer fingers of strange girls Pass nestling through thy beautiful boy's curls As mine did, or those curled lithe lips of thine Meet theirs as these, all theirs come after mine;

133 And though I were not, though I be not, best, I have loved and love thee more than all the rest. O love, O lover, loose or hold me fast, I had thee first, whoever have thee last; Fairer or not, what need I know, what care? To thy fair bud my blossom once seemed fair. Why am I fair at all before thee, why At all desired? seeing thou art fair, not I. I shall be glad of thee, O fairest head, Alive, alone, without thee, with thee, dead; I shall remember while the light lives yet,

And in the night-time I shall not forget. Though (as thou wilt) thou leave me ere life leave, I will not, for thy love I will not, grieve; Not as they use who love not more than I, Who love not as I love thee though I die; And though thy lips, once mine, be oftener prest To many another brow and balmier breast, And sweeter arms, or sweeter to thy mind, Lull thee or lure, more fond thou wilt not find. Algernon Charles Swinburne (1904)

CHAPTER XIV

My gaze is fixed, my eyes unblinking; focused, unwavering. My glare is charged with command and Leila’s eyes are locked with mine. She grips the gun tighter in her hand. It’s now or never. My gaze turns completely cold, and absolutely dominating. Leila briefly looks like she’s been caught doing something she’s not supposed to – like a child who's hand is caught in the cookie jar. My gaze is the glare of a Dominant seeking absolute obedience. She knows this stare. This is my stare demanding “as if” from her. Leila’s previous Dom trained her as a slave. Demanding “as if” from a slave adds to slave’s feeling of helplessness in controlling his or her own behavior. She is aware that “as if” position is required of her with my gaze which is something she has seen many times in the past and she has absolutely no power to alter the behavior I require of her at this instant. I take a step into the apartment. I’m charged, and the dominant side of me is like an extension of my body, a second nature. My gaze bores into Leila like the time she touched me and required punishment – she knows the look. Her responding gaze is defiant; she is trying to resist against my will to dominate, and trying to hold onto her will to carry out what she is intending to do. This will not happen! She blinks a few times to break the surging power of my gaze, of my will over her – submissiveness is ingrained in her all through her previous trainings; and the charge between us grows, gets stronger like the time she had first became my submissive. I keep my steady dominance over the entire room, it’s

palpable, touchable, strong, and charged with surging power. Power to dominate, power to conquer. My gaze pushes Leila down to her submissive mode, seeking that switch to turn it back on, make her submit to me like she had for many months: first she remains motionless, and I finally find that switch in the eyes of Leila’s mind. The initial connection that made her submit to me, to my will, to my desires, and to my mastery over her. Her head dips slightly, and she gazes up obediently through her long lashes and tired, agonized brown eyes. I can feel Taylor getting jumpy behind me when Leila is like this with a gun still pointing towards Anastasia and while I make my way in trying to use my body as a shield to protect Anastasia; he’s extremely nervous. However I can’t let Taylor jump the gun, and have him spill blood here. I want to help Leila. I hold my hand up to halt Taylor so he suspends his every instinct of shooting Leila to take control of the situation. I know that Taylor is trying hard to rein in his military training instincts. I can take control of her without moving a muscle. Though I don’t dare to move my gaze away from Leila, or even blink. I see a woman who is a fraction of what she was. Disheveled, dirty, lost, half out of her mind. This was not the Leila I remember who walked through my door. She was lively, vibrant, active, mischievous, and all of a sudden I feel pity for her. I care for her, and seeing her in this state makes me feel guilty. But I can’t let those emotions surface now. My primary goal is to subdue her. My worry that she might hurt Anastasia resurfaces. I can’t allow that to happen. I’d rather die than her. The silence in the room is dominated by my exuding will to master Leila. Everything and everyone else is disconnected from my thoughts. If I waver, Anastasia will get hurt. I can’t let that happen. Silence is masterful. Silence is loud. Silence is dark. (←The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel) I remain purposeful, and my eyes bore and drill into her forcing her to submit, forcing her to give up all power, give up all thought and all ability of decision making. I must be the one who rules. I force her to open her mind up to me, to look at me, her Dominant; her Master. My stance changes suddenly as her barriers she carefully erected start crumbling one by one. I feel stronger, in control, in charge of her. She is connected with me, and only to me. She sees no one, hears no one, and recognizes no one, but me. I’m her Master, I’m her god. Leila’s lips part, her breathing increases as her submissive, expectant self comes forth responding to my call taking over her existence, and her face flushes pink, expectant. Leila is now completely under my command. (←Take Over Control by Afrojack)

She is in her “as if” mode. As the intensity of my gaze focuses on her, taking charge of her, conquering her body and mind, I mouth her, “kneel”. It is a voice command which a slave must immediately obey

upon hearing, bringing the slave/sub on her knees. She was first trained in Gorean submission. The voice command in Gorean for that is nadu. Nadu is the first slave position taught to a new slave. A kneeling slave or submissive is directed to straighten her back while sitting on her heels and lifting her head while her gaze is downcast. She is to place her hands palms down on her thighs. But I’ve never used the Gorean commands on her. Nadu means kneel, and I’ve only used it on her in the standard form. Kneel voice command is still the first and most used of all slave and submissive positions as it is in Gorean. Leila immediately drops to the floor on her knees, her head bowed, and finally the ominous gun she’s been holding falls off her hands and skitters upon the floor. My first goal is to collect the weapon so I remove the danger from the room. I lean down and pick the hand gun up, and look at it in disgust and finally deposit it safely into my pocket. My gaze goes over Leila again to make sure she is obediently kneeling by the kitchen island. Now that the primary danger removed from the room, I need to get Leila proper help, and I can’t bear Anastasia watching me. “Anastasia, go with Taylor,” I order her. Taylor finally walks into the apartment, and goes by Anastasia asking her to come with him with a pleading look. “Ethan?” Anastasia ask in a small voice. “Downstairs,” I state, my gaze still on Leila. Anastasia doesn’t move from her spot. She’s motionless. I look at her in the same commanding way, but she can’t obey jack shit! Once, for God’s sake Anastasia! Do as you’re told! For once! “Anastasia...” I say in a warning clipped tone. She just blinks at me, unable to comprehend. I find myself automatically moving beside Leila. I hover over her protectively as if Taylor is going to shoot her any minute, or to protect Anastasia as if Leila is going to produce another weapon. I’m the divider between the two poles in the room. Anastasia’s gaze is fixed on the sight before her, bewildered, shocked, scared, and utterly, and completely sad. (←Misery by Maroon 5) I can’t take her gaze anymore, and I have to get Leila some help. Please, Ana! What do I have to do to get you out of here? “For the love of God, and everything holy Anastasia, will you do as you’re told for once in your life and go!” I hiss at her in a cold, icy tone with my eyes locked on her with of course no effect! I’m angry that she’s still here, that she’s looking at me with those disappointed eyes. She needs to go! I need to take care of Leila, and fix her, and remove the danger she might create to Anastasia’s detriment once and for

all! Can’t she understand that? But, this is Anastasia we’re talking about. Of course she has a mind of her own. “Taylor! Take Miss Steele downstairs. Now!” Taylor nods uncomfortably, but determined. “Why?” whispers Anastasia. “Go. Back to the apartment,” I stare at Anastasia with frosty eyes unblinking. Will you fucking do what I ask you to do without questioning? “I need to be alone with Leila.” I say. I need to speak with her, and get her help. Anastasia’s gaze goes down to Leila. “Miss Steele... Ana,” Taylor asks her imploring Anastasia, holding his hand out to her to go out of the apartment. Anastasia is unable to move. Her mouth is open, her eyes are wide, completely shocked, and I can’t bear the look on her face. I have to deal with it later, but now, I have to take care of a problem I have created with Leila. I need to get her the help she needs. I’m not completely made of ice! I need to fix the damage I’ve caused with her. That’s the least I can do. But Anastasia doesn’t get it. “Taylor!” I bellow once, and finally Taylor understands, and leaning down he scoops Anastasia into his arms, and removes her from the apartment. I stroke Leila’s head gently and affectionately and murmur, “Don’t worry Leila... I’ll help, I’ll have you taken care of.” Once Taylor’s footsteps retreats, and distances, I lean down and scoop Leila off the floor, and carry her to Anastasia’s bathroom. I stand Leila on her feet by the tub, and close the door so she doesn’t make any attempt to run away. But she is contrite and she won’t run. She gazes at me lovingly. I feel responsible for her current state even though it is triggered by tragic events. She sought me, and in a fucked up way I understand all too well, she tried to exact some revenge upon me and from Anastasia. So I know that deep down, she feels I wronged her. Considering how fucked up I am, it wouldn’t be the first time I wronged someone. I turn the water on, and start filling up the tub with hot water. The strands of Leila’s hair is stuck to each other and to her scalp with oil, dirt and grime limp and lifeless as if she hasn’t taken a bath or a shower in weeks. Dirt is streaked on her face mixed with tears, dried up. Her nail beds are marked with crescent shaped dried dirt. She also smells, sweat, blood, and unwashed grime. She was never, ever like this. She

was always clean, always exuded a pleasant smell, always well taken care of. What happened to you Leila? I put some bath soap into the hot water and let it dissolve and foam. Once the tub is filled with sudsy hot water, I take the now very dirty designer trench coat off Leila silently. Once I remove it, I can see that she’s lost a lot of weight. My heart constricts with sadness. I peel off the dirty clothes off Leila one layer at a time. She’s standing before me naked. The amount of weight she lost is starkly displayed on her body. You can count her ribs, and once her C cup breasts are now limply hanging loose skin on her. I lift her off the floor and she’s so light. I put her in the water, and she sinks in without saying a word. “Leila, I will be right back. You sight tight, okay?” I ask gently. She nods. I step into the kitchen area and dial Dr. Flynn’s number. “Christian?” He answers questioning. “John, I found Leila,” I reply. “Oh what a relief. Where are you?” “I’m cleaning her up right now, but we are at Anastasia’s apartment. She broke into her apartment, and was holding a gun at Anastasia here!” “Good God!” “Yeah! Tell me about it. You already have a place standby for her. I need you to come and collect her from here, and take her to the facility.” “Yes, of course. Give me the address, and let me get a mental health nurse with me, and I shall be there shortly,” he says.

I give John Anastasia’s address and he promises to be here in twenty minutes. I go back to the bathroom, and kneel by the bathtub start washing the dirt and grime off Leila. I find a washcloth in one of the cabinets. I soap and wash her face and clean all the dirt and grime. The bandage in her arms are half hanging and completely dirty. I gently pull them off. Leila looks up to me with some unnamed emotion, silent. I take water and pour over her hair, and put some shampoo in my palms, and wash her hair scrubbing it gently. Her hair is so dirty it doesn’t even start lathering until I wash her hair a third time. Once I wash the last bit of shampoo off her hair, scrub her body, and clean her. I let the dirty bath water run out. I finally turn the shower on, and let her rinse. Once washing her is completed, I take a towel and wrap her hair, and taking another towel, I wrap her now very skinny body. I take Leila into my arms, and run into Taylor in the living room whose stance is impassive, his gaze is anything but.

“Anastasia?” I ask, and he shakes his head. I take Leila into Anastasia’s bedroom, and deposit her on Ana’s full bed. I check the dressers and find some underwear, jeans and a shirt. After drying Leila, I put Anastasia’s clothes on her which hang loose on Leila. My Blackberry buzzes in my pocket. “Grey,” I say curtly. “Christian, we are downstairs. Black cruiser. Do you want us come up?” “Not necessary John. I’ll bring her down.” “Leila,” I say softly to her. “Dr. Flynn is here. We need to get you some help. Okay?” “I’m scared Master,” she whispers. “Don’t be. You’ll be well taken care of. I’ll make sure of that.” I find a blanket in Anastasia’s closet, and I wrap Leila in it. “I’m going to take you downstairs now.” She nods. “Taylor, lock up here, and follow Dr. Flynn’s cruiser. You’ll need to take me back to Escala,” I order. “Yes, sir,” he says.

Taylor opens the front door holding it back for me and Leila to pass through. Once we exit, he closes and locks the door. Even though I kicked it in, it wasn’t locked and didn’t break the top lock. Taylor will have to have the bottom one replaced tomorrow. I make my way downstairs to find John Flynn in his jeans and t-shirt with a no nonsense nurse in light blue scrubs. The nurse opens the left passenger door, and I enter with Leila in my arms. Dr. Flynn drives off towards the mental health facility he has arranged for Leila in Fremont. We are there in less than twenty minutes. John drives from a back entrance after punching in a code with the tall main wrought iron gates, and Taylor follows us from behind. When we reach the facility, two more orderlies are waiting dressed in scrubs. Leila is still in my arms. “Leila, Dr. Flynn is going to make sure you get the help you need. I’m going to leave you here, and they’ll take good care of you. Sort your problems, and fix you.” She looks scared. “Don’t be scared. I won’t let anyone harm you. You’ll be completely fine. You can do some of the things you like here, like painting. You still like painting?” A faint glimmer comes to her eyes as she nods. “Okay then. I’m going to put you in this wheelchair now, and,” I say pointing John, “this is Dr. Flynn, and he’s going to make sure you get all the help you need. If you need to say anything to me, you will have to get through Dr. Flynn. Do you understand?” She nods. “Come on, Leila. Let’s get you in and settled,” says John softly but in his authoritative Dr. voice. Leila’s gaze softens, and she looks at me once more. “He died, Master. He got killed,” she says about her lover. “I know Leila. I’m sorry. I really am. I will do all I can to help you. But you can’t go around waving a gun and taking people hostage. You can’t go scaring Anastasia. Do you understand?” “You love her Master?” she asks surprising me, looking directly into my eyes. “Yes,” I say softly after a long minute. “I do.” She nods again. “I’m glad,” she replies.

“Goodbye, Leila,” I say and turn back to find Taylor. “Let’s get back to Escala, Taylor. How was Miss Steele when you dropped her off at the apartment?” Taylor shifts his feet uncomfortably. His demeanor says she didn’t go to Escala. “Where the fuck did she go?” I shout at Taylor fuming, seething with anger. “Mr. Grey, she wouldn’t go to Escala. I told her that you wanted her to go to the apartment, but she said she’s going out with Ethan for a quick drink and then head back to Escala. She said that now we know where Leila is. No need for all the security, and to tell you she’ll see you later.” “Fuck! Fuck! Shit!!” I say through gritted teeth as I forcefully run both hands through my hair. “I need to call her!” I say, but Taylor shifts more. “What?” I bellow poisonously. “She forgot her purse in the SUV, sir,” he says. I punch my hand forcefully in anger, and ask, “So, you have no idea where she is?” “No, sir.” “Have you seen what direction she went?” “They were on foot, but they could have taken a cab, sir. So, no, I have not.” “Fuck! Did she say any other thing?” “She was so distraught, and asked me if did a sweep of her apartment. I told her we did. I’m sorry Mr. Grey!” he says angry with himself. “Leila has been eluding us all. I feel terrible about it. Especially for Miss Steele. I feel horrible finding her with a gun pointed to her head. I’m so sorry!” says Taylor shaking his head, completely devastated. “Let’s go!” I say without another word, and get into the SUV. Taylor drives me to Escala. Mrs. Jones is in the kitchen fixing dinner for me. “Gayle! Has Anastasia come home?” I ask. “No, Mr. Grey, she hasn’t,” she replies noting a lot of anger vibrating from me.

“Would you like something to eat sir?” she asks softly. I shake my head. “Later,” Taylor is right behind me. “Taylor, I want you to take the security, and scout for Anastasia one bar at a time in the entire city of Seattle! Call me the minute you find her. Check the streets, check everything. Leave no stone unturned! Do you understand?“ “Yes, sir,” he says and quickly disappears into his office. I take my Blackberry out, and dial Welch’s number. “Welch here,” he replies. “Welch, can you find the cell phone number of an Ethan Kavanagh?” “It might take me time, sir,” he responds. “Time, I don’t have! I need to locate him; trace his cell phone location, now!” “Do we know what carrier he’s with?” “No clue! This is where you come in with your mad detective skills!” I hiss. “I can check sir; it’s a shot in the dark, but it might take me a couple of hours.” “10 minutes only! Get to it, and let me know what you find out!” Taylor and his detail has already left to check various bars in Seattle, and check the streets. I’m anxious, ready to combust, scared that Anastasia will leave me after the scene played out before her. My life is going down the fucking drain, and there is not a thing I can do about it! I dial Taylor’s phone. “Yes, sir,” he says in a strained voice. “I need updates immediately.” “We’re taking different direction sir. We’ve divided the town into quadrants, and each of us is taking a certain location, and we’re going spread out to cover as many bars as possible.”

“Fine! Update me after leaving each bar.” “Yes, sir!” he replies firmly. I go to the kitchen and pour myself some brandy. I don’t usually drink hard liquor at this time, but this is not a usual time. My Blackberry buzzes, and I answer immediately. “Welch is here, Mr. Grey,” he says and hope springs in me. “Any news?” “Mr. Grey, I’ve found the carrier, and the phone number for Ethan Kavanagh, but I think either his phone is out of power, or turned off. It’s off the grid, sir,” he says disappointed. I have a shattered feeling inside me. “Shit!” I bellow. “Is there anything else I can do for you sir?” he asks. “No!” I say hanging up. I down my brandy in one large gulp, and pour myself another one, and down that one, too. I pace back and forth in the great room. No fucking news! No phone calls! Why Ana? Why don’t you ever listen to me? Why can’t you for once do as you are told? Why? Why do you torture me so? I go to Taylor’s office, and check all the cameras and look to see if she’s coming. Nothing! No one is coming! I have an ominous feeling that this is it, that she will leave me for good! Oh fuck! I don’t know what to do! I don’t know where to find her! Where could she go? She has no key. What if she’s gone with Kavanagh to stay at a hotel? Is Kavanagh comforting her now? Holding her? Easing her pain? Fuck! I pace back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. If the floor was carpet, I would have worn a track already! My Blackberry buzzes again. “Mr. Grey, Sawyer has checked a bar thoroughly, and there is no sign of Miss Steele.” “Where are you now?” “I’m at O’Malley’s, just a little north of Miss Steele’s apartments,” he says and loud noises and basketball announcer possibly from a TV can be heard in the background.

“Any sign of her?” I ask pacing back and forth again by the piano. “I’m still searching sir. I even checked the ladies room,” he says chagrined. I hear the double doors open into the great room. My head snaps up, and there is Anastasia three sheets to the wind! “She’s here,” I snap at Taylor, and disconnect the line. I turn to Anastasia and glare at her with ferocity. “Where the fuck have you been?” I ask her with fuming anger. She sways where she’s standing, her eyes blink. “Have you been drinking?” I ask angrily. She’s not supposed to be drinking excessively like this! We’ve agreed upon that. It was one of the rules. I know we don’t follow them anymore, but it’s common sense! “Just a little bit,” she answers me shrugging. She’s making me fucking angry. Always disobeying, always doing what she wants to do! I run my hand through my hair in complete helpless exasperation. I can’t even go towards her, because I’m so angry. She’s going to be scared of me and run! “I told you to come back here,” I say in a menacingly quiet voice. “It is now ten fifteen. Do you know how worried I’ve been about you?” I ask. “I went for a drink..” she says, then amending, “or three with Ethan while you were attending your... ex,” she hisses poisonously. “I didn’t know how long you were going to be with...” she says swallowing. Her mouth makes a small ‘o’ to exhale some toxic air from her body. Then she continues, “...with her,” completely giving up, sad, and defeated. Oh no! no! no! Don’t do that to me! Don’t give up on me! I narrow my eyes and look at her trying to assess her, not wanting her to run. I take a few slow steps towards her, but noticing her stance, I stop. “Why do you say it like that?” She shrugs exhausted, and looks down at her fingers as if they possess the answers she’s seeking. She’s checking out of her body, out of her mind, out of our relationship! “Ana, what’s wrong?” I ask with horror in my voice. She just stands there, looking at her knotted fingers, not wanting to look at my eyes. She finally lifts her head up, and swallows.

“Where is Leila?” “She’s taken to a psychiatric hospital in Fremont,” I say trying to decipher her expression. She’s disconnected from me. Trying to distance herself emotionally. “Ana, please, what is it?” I ask. I can’t stand the distance between us. I have had a shitty evening. My past is running into my future like a train wreck and I have no way of stopping it! I move right in front of Anastasia, “What’s wrong?” I breathe. She shakes her head sadly, swallowing hard. “I’m not good for you,” she whispers. “What?” I breathe, completely alarmed. I can’t go through this! She can’t say that to me! Doesn’t she know how much I love her? Didn’t she know I was ready to die for her tonight? “Why do you think that? How can you possibly think that Ana?” “I know I can’t be everything you need,” she says. (←All I Believe In by Magic Numbers) How would she know what’s in the depths of my heart? “You are everything I need...everything I want.” “Just seeing you with her tonight...” she says trailing off unable to bring the rest of her thought. Her eyes are sorrowful, face scrunched in agony. “Why do you do this to me Ana, why?” I say in utter agony. “this is not about you. It’s about her,” I say willing her to understand I was trying to right something, help someone who once was in my life. “At the moment she’s a very sick girl,” I try to explain her. “But Christian, I felt it...I felt what you two had together...” she trails off mournfully, already made up her mind. “What? No!” I try to reach out to her, close the short distance between us that’s already feeling like miles apart, but she takes a step back right away distancing herself from my reach. Oh God! No! It’d be better if she hit me. The one single step she took away from me drains all my energy out of my limbs, I automatically drop my hands to my side. Shocked, worried, sick, I blink into realization. She doesn’t want me! God! She doesn’t want me anymore! I can’t live without her! I panic like I’ve never panicked before; the pain of her leaving me so new, I feel my world crumbling around me once again.

“You’re running?” I whisper. The fear of her absence is so great, I can’t take it. I’d die! She can’t leave me! She just can’t! She’s crucifying me for helping Leila! Don’t leave me, Ana. I’m only in love with you...you alone! No one else...not a single soul in the entire universe, just you! When I saw you, though I met you, I was afraid to know you. When I met you again, I was afraid to kiss you... When I kissed you finally at Heathman elevator, I was afraid to love you, and now that I love you, I’m afraid to lose you. Don’t make me lose you! You’re the only one who can hurt me like no one can! I was trying to fix someone who once was in my life...But you misunderstand and confuse it with something else. I only love you! I’m just fucking afraid to show you who I really am, because if I do, you not might not like it, and that’s all I got! I’m unworthy, I know that...but, is my love for you something so bad for you to be around? Don’t kill my soul here, Ana, I beg you! (←I Can’t Live Without You by Mariah Carey) My mind is running a mile a minute, and my mouth has a lot of catching up to do... All I can utter is, “You can’t,” in a plea. “Christian, I...” she says bewildered. “I...” she can’t even bring the rest of her thoughts. She wants nothing to do with me. “No! No! No!” I moan in a great agony not as if someone’s leaving me, but as if someone died, and I’m irreparable. Don’t leave me! The greatest misery in the world for me is losing you, don’t you understand? Haunt me! Hurt me! Hit me! Break me! Drive me mad! Drive me insane! But don’t leave me! Be with me always! You will leave me in a perpetual hell...completely lost if I can’t find you and have you! I cannot live without my life! You are my soul, and you take that away, and I’d be worse than what you found me with! All my faculties are lost, and I’m at the brink of my destruction... Please God! Let her stay with me! Let her see how much I love her...

I look around with bewildered, half crazed eyes...begging God to see my agony! This all-consuming misery is killing me! She’s breaking my heart and shattering my soul! You love me, Ana! Don’t betray your own heart! What right do you have to leave me? God! You are inflicting this on us! Every time going gets tough, you leave me! “You can’t go, Ana! I love you!” “I love you too Christian. But it’s just..” she says and I cut her off.

“No! No!” I wallow in desperation putting both my hand on my head rocking back and forth. I’d rather die! I’d rather die than for you to leave me! Don’t.just.leave.me... “Christian...” “No!” I breathe all power and energy left my body. Desperate, like I never felt before. My eyes wide with panic, my breathing is erratic, my heart is ready to take flight out of my chest, and suddenly I realize that I have to have her anyway I can. If she wants me her slave, I’ll be her slave. If she wants to beat the shit out of me, I’m ready to submit. If she wants to punish me for my transgressions, here I am to do as she wishes. Just, don’t, leave, me... Be with me always. Any way you can... I drop to my knees in front of her, bowing my head, sitting on my heels, as my fingers spread on my thighs. I take a deep breath, and become the submissive slave I once was. For Anastasia. Now she can punish me for what I did wrong. She can take me, beat me, hit me, love me, use me. Do as you wish with me Anastasia! Love me, or kill me! But let it be in your hands. Because if you walk out of here, I’m already dead! I finally check out of my body in my submissive stance, a slave ready to obey any command without any qualms or thoughts. Without any rights. My breathing eases and my consciousness checks out. Staring down, obedient. Ready for her orders. Ready for her punishments. Ready for my mistress. I’m her slave. “Christian! What are you doing?” she squeaks in a high pitched panicky tone. Surely this panic is not over me, the worthless slave. I remain motionless. I have not received an order to answer. “Christian, look at me!” she commands. My mistress asks me to look at her, what am to do but obey?

My head sweeps up without hesitation to obey her command. I regard her and ready to receive any order from her. Expectantly I look at my Mistress. Order me, Mistress! Do as you wish with me. I’m yours and yours alone. Don’t you know I love you? (←I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston) Her eyes look at me shocked and bewildered. She’s standing above me as I submit to her at her feet. I look at her with a steady gaze. Order me Mistress. Ask me to love you... Ask me to serve you... Ask me to touch you... Just don’t leave me without you. Do what you want with me! I’m nothing but your slave at your feet. Does she not want me even when I’m ready to serve her? Order me and I’ll drop everything.

Take over me, control me, have me, do whatever you want with me...as long as you are with me. Do it with me, do it to me. Anastasia shakes her head as she inhales sharply. She’s shocked. “Christian... Christian, please don’t do this. I don’t want this,” she whispers. I regard my mistress passively, unmoving, without uttering a word. I’m not given permission to speak. Her voice crackling. “Why are you doing this? Talk to me,” she asks in a whisper. I’m silent. Silence is good, it’s what’s required of a slave. (←Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode) Oh, she is asking me a question. I blink once. She’s ordering me. “What would you like me to say?” I ask softly of my mistress. My voice is velvety, but without emotion, and insipid, like a submissive, a slave should speak. Anastasia’s face changes to one of distress and tears start trickling from her eyes running in lazy rivulets from her cheeks. Why is my mistress so distressed? I’m not given permission to comfort her. I’m in my slave mode. I can’t utter a word without her permission. I can’t hold my hand up to wipe those tears away. I have no right to. My mistress’ face turns to one of utter sorrow and misery. What is troubling her? My gaze is on her passively. I see a shudder go through her body. She swallows hard as if what she’s trying to swallow is hard to pass through, choking her. Her gaze is locked on me though her eyes convey something of sadness, worry. Surely not for me; not for an unworthy slave... Anastasia, my mistress sinks before me. A mistress doesn’t go to the level of her slave, the level of her submissive. This is all wrong! She lifts up her right hand and violently wipes the tears away with the back of her hand. I would like to do that mistress, but you’re not asking me. You’re not giving me permission. She intently stares into my face, and my eyes widen just a little. I have to submit; that’s all I know. I remain motionless. I’m not given permission. “Christian, you don’t have to do this,” she says in a pleading voice. But, I do! You don’t want me! You’re going to run! “I’m not going to run. I’ve told you and told you and told you, I won’t run,” she utters sincerely. I’m scared. You will run. I don’t know any other way to keep you.

“All that’s happened... What I’ve seen, it’s just too overwhelming for me. I just need some time to think. Some time to myself. Why do you always assume the worst?” But, I know she will run! She doesn’t know the worst of it. She doesn’t know how bad I am. She doesn’t know I’m evil! I’m no good. I’m no good for her, yet, I want her, I love her; I’d die for her! (←You Know No Good by Amy Winehouse)

She opens the floodgates of her thoughts. “I was only going to suggest that I go back to my apartment this evening. Because, you just never give me any time... You know, time for just to think through things I’ve experienced. You have to admit, being with you, seeing the things you do, it’s a lot for me...” she says completely sorrowful and starts sobbing, deep, aching, soul wrenching sobs. She still hasn’t given me permission to comfort her. Though I want to, I’m locked in my place. I only frown a little. “I don’t even have just a little time to think. We hardly know each other, and look at all the baggage that comes with you... Do you know how hard it is for me to handle that? I need time to digest everything. And now that Leila is off the streets, you know, not being a threat to anyone. I just thought... I thought...” she’s lost in thought, and tears are still trickling from her face. I finally, infinitesimally manage to get to the cusp of being a submissive and what I had been, teetering. I listen to her intently. She’s addressing me. Not the submissive, not the slave, not the dominant. But her boyfriend. The regular Christian. I listen.

“Seeing you with Leila was,” she says stopping as if it’s too painful to speak, too agonizing, too gut wrenching, soul ripping. Her lips quiver and her face shakes as if she’s trying hard to rein in some emotion. “It just was a big shock. In that short time, though seemed a torturous eternity to me, I had a glimpse into your life, and how it has been. And frankly,” she says in her distressed manner when she assumes as she takes a deep, hard look down at her knotted fingers, her tears running steadily down her

now puffy cheeks, she continues, “I realized that this is about me not being good enough for you. A realization, and a wakeup call with a giant insight into your life. You know, it made me scared to my core, scared because you will get bored with me, and then you will go... You will go, Christian!” she says looking up at me. “Do you know what will happen to me then? I will end up like Leila!” she says jacking her thumb back into the space. Then her voice softens to barely audible levels. “I’ll end up a shadow of my former self. Because I love you Christian Grey, if you leave me, I will be in a world without light. I’ll be in perpetual darkness. I don’t want to run away from you. But I’m so very frightened that you will leave me... That’s my personal torment.” She doesn’t look at me anymore. But I listen intently. She shakes her head, and in the humblest tone she has ever had, and the softest whisper she says, “I don’t understand why you find me attractive. I don’t. You’re, well, you’re you... This god! And look at me, I’m nothing...” she shrugs finally her eyes meeting mine. “I guess I just don’t see it. You’re incredibly beautiful, sexier than anyone else, successful... And you’re good too, and kind, and caring. You’re all those thing, and I’m none of it. On top that, I can’t do the things you like, or give you what you need. I don’t get it, I guess. How could you be happy with me? How can I possibly hold you within my grasp?” Her voice drops to a sad whisper. “I just never understood what you see in me. And finally seeing you with Leila, the sight of the two of you, just brought all of that home,” she says whimpering, and wiping away her nose with the back of her hand, still gazing at me. She bores her gaze into me, willing me to come out of my shell, break out of my submissive stance, reach me. Does she want to reach me? (←Somewhere Only We Know by Keane) “Are you going to kneel here all night? Because I’ll do it too,” she finally snaps at me, though she looks uncomfortable on the floor shifting on her knees. She cocks her to one side, and finally the Christian she is used to seeing can peak his head up. She looks at my face seeking. “Christian, please, please, talk to me,” she begs, uncomfortably wringing her hands on her lap, shifting on her sitting position uncomfortable. She keeps looking, expectant. Waiting for me to say something. I don’t know if I have permission. If I get out of the submissive mode, she might just run and leave.

“Please,” she beseeches again. My gaze darkens and finally I manage to blink out of the submissive mode I thought I would never get in, ever again. I want to close the distance between us, and just reach out to her, my heart and soul are ready to run to her. (←I Wanna Run To You by Whitney Houston)

CHAPTER XV

“I was so scared,” is all I can whisper. Scared to my core, like I had never before. The feeling of loss was gut wrenching. Anastasia swallows hard with relief and her eyes swim in brewing tears. I keep my gaze on her without blinking, and in a soft and low voice I continue. (←You’re the Only Woman by Ambrosia)

“When I saw Ethan arrive your apartment building, the horrible realization dawned on me. Someone had let you into your apartment and it wasn’t him. Both Taylor and I leapt out of the car so fast. We just knew she let you in and to see her there like that with you... and armed with a gun. I died a thousand deaths, Ana! Seeing someone threatening you... threatening your life...” I choke on my words, and close my eyes shut tight. I can only whisper the rest of my thoughts. “That was my worst fears realized. I was

so angry with everyone... So angry with her, with you,” I say swallowing, and gazing into her eyes, “with Taylor, and with myself. I think I was angry with the whole world.”

It is difficult to word the agony consuming my heart, the hell fire burning within me. “I didn’t know how volatile Leila would be. I didn’t know what to do. I felt helpless!” I say looking into her tormented eyes, willing her to understand me. “I didn’t know how she react, Ana. I was scared for you.” I stop to gather my thoughts, ease my heavily beating heart. I look at her face scrutinizing, trying to see if I’m getting through to her.

She shakes her head understanding, and motion me to continue. She wants to hear me out. I feel relief.

I swallow and continue.

“I was distraught as a result of seeing Leila in that mental and physical state, and knowing that I might have something to do with her mental breakdown...” I couldn’t continue. My fuckeduppedness comes to the surface like the oil slick upon the ocean. I rub my face with both hands. I know I must have contributed to her state somehow. The thought is agonizing. “You have to understand Ana; she was always so mischievous and lively,” I say. I broke her I suppose. The thought is excruciating and my consciousness is weighing heavy on me. I feel responsible, and it’s torturous. I take a raspy breath, pushing the sobs down. I feel guilt ridden. What I might have done to wrong Leila in the past, might have killed Anastasia. I would have died! I would be a living dead! I look up to her eyes in pain.

“She might have harmed you. And it would have been entirely my fault.” My sins and my karma are catching up with me, and I had to make it right; fix it. I couldn’t have left Leila broken. The horror that she had a gun in a delirious mental state, trying to exact revenge on me through Anastasia was horrendous. I guess that’s why the mob goes after one’s loved ones. Killing you wouldn’t cause continuous torture. What Promethean misery would I have lived had she done that?

“But she didn’t, Christian,” whispers Anastasia. “You weren’t responsible for her being in that mental or physical state,” she says fervently. She motions me to continue, but still some sadness laced behind her eyes. Her gaze is clouded with a worry that I don’t want her, or I may not possibly want her in the future.

How could I not want or desire my own soul, my own heart? I need her more than my next breath! How could she possibly think that? She is still worried about the fact that I tried to remove her from her apartment. Doesn’t she understand that Leila was unstable and I needed to stabilize her?

“I just wanted you gone, Ana. I wanted you to be away from the danger which I felt was still present. You. Just. Wouldn’t. Go...” I hiss. I was scared that the danger was still present, and Anastasia’s presence was making it hard for me to focus. She exasperates me all the time. I shake my head. I love her so much, it kills me that she doesn’t get that simple fact – everything I do, I do it for her! (←Everything I Do by Bryan Adams)

I look into her eyes intently, willing her to understand, and feel my love. “Anastasia Steele, you are the most stubborn woman I’ve ever known,” I say as I close my eyes and the fact that she can drive me mad with one look, one word, she can make me sheet clawing hot and aroused with one bite of her lip, and exasperate me with one single gaze make me insanely in love with her... She’s maddening, she’s exasperating, she’s my panacea, and she’s my life. She’s everything to me! Losing her would be losing all... I finally open my eyes, and look at her with a despairing gaze. “So you weren’t going to run?” I ask.

“No!” she shouts firmly, scolding me.

When I close my eyes again, it’s with relief this time, letting it wash over my entire being, relaxing me for the first time during this worst day of my life. But the thought and the pain that comes along with being unworthy shows its ugly head unbidden giving me utter anguish.

“I really thought,” I say stopping, “I thought you would leave...” I can’t bring myself to complete this sentence. “Look at me Ana! What you see here is me... All of me. Though it is fucked up, I’m all yours. What do I have to make you realize that?” I ask... “I am ALL YOURS.” I reiterate boring into her eyes. “What can I do to make you realize and see that? I want you and only you ... any possible way I can get you...” I say ardently. “That I love you,” I whisper with all of my heart and desire. “I love you too, Christian!” she replies immediately. “But, to see you like this is...” she says breaking off and choking on her words as her tears start streaking again. Her lips quiver in misery, her face forlorn,

and she looks like she’s writhing in agony. “I thought I’d broken you,” she sobs with her face in her hands.

I reach out to her immediately, and take her hands from her face keeping them in mine. “Baby no! You have not broken me, Ana! It’s just the opposite. Because, you’re my lifeline,” I whisper as I kiss her knuckles, and her palms.

I want her to have me... Feel me... All of me. I slowly pull her right hand, and place it on my chest, over my heart to let her feel how it’s beating for her. Pounding out of my chest frantically! My gaze is fixed on hers, my jaw is tense and clenched shut. I want her to touch me. All over me. No zone is forbidden to her. She will have all of me! Her face changes, and her eyes are full of love, awe; her breathing increases as her chest rises up and down in rapid succession. The rhythm of her heart is matching mine with her increased pulse. (←The Rhythm of My Heart by Rod Stewart)

I want her to do this freely. Without the coercion of my hands. I release her hand from my hold, and let her hand feel my heart beating for her frantically in love and excitement. Anastasia flexes her fingers feeling my chest beneath the thin fabric of my shirt. I’m holding my breath, trying to get used to the feeling of touch on my chest. Trying to get over the fear, and bury the apprehension once and for all. Anastasia slightly lifts off the palm of her hand to remove it from my chest feeling my tension.

“No!” I say with fear. “No, don’t...” I say quickly covering her hand with mine and press it down over my heart. “No... You belong,” I say simply. If anyone belongs to all of my body, it’s Anastasia. It’s hers to have and hold anyway she wishes. She looks up at me, and shuffles closer to my body and our knees are touching. She lifts her other hand, looking into my eyes, making her intention clear. She wants to touch me with both hands on my bare chest. I grow anxious and my eyes widen. I have not been touched like this in a very, very long time. But right now, there is nothing in the world I want more than for Anastasia to touch me! I crave the connection with her. I want her to have all of me, possess me, and complete me.

Anastasia’s fingers start to undo the buttons on my shirt with her left hand. She’s having a hard time doing it with just one hand. The ghost of a smile reaches up on my lips. She flexes her right hand letting

me know she wants to use both hands. I remove my hand from top of hers and she starts undoing the buttons one by one while her gaze is locked with mine; our connection is established. God! There is not another thing or person I love more than this woman!

She unbuckles all of the buttons finally opening my chest up for her touch. I swallow hard, my breathing increases to accommodate my rising pulse, my lips part and my eyes widen. This is it! She looks at me, seeking permission, trying to decipher what I want. I need this! I want this connection. She reaches up with her hands, still not touching. Still seeking to understand me, understand if I’m letting her willingly. Her gaze is seeking, questioning, communicating without words. Her hands just hover right above my chest, above what used to be the forbidden zone. I tilt my head to the side, bracing myself, anticipating her touch. My body is tense, and the tension is radiated through my pores, strong and palpable. Fear is trying to consume me. Fear of the past tortures, fear of what might surface, fear of helplessness. But, I can’t associate these fears with Anastasia. She’s the miracle to save me from these fears!

Anastasia doesn’t touch. Her hands remain hovering, hesitant; careful not to make contact.

“Yes,” I give permission to her in a breath. Touch me, Ana! (←You Put a Move On My Heart by Tamia)

Her fingertips extend and slightly brush my chest hair still not making contact with skin. So subtle, so gentle. Her brushing fingertips start at the top of my chest and move down to my sternum. I close my eyes in colliding agony and pleasure. For once, my future is going to win over my fuckedup past. My face is creased with the ongoing battle raging within me. Killing the agonizing memory of the pimp. Anastasia’s killing his hatred and abuse and animosity with her love. The battle is painful. I’m once again caught between my painful past and my loving future. My future has to win! The realization of this fills my eyes with immense love, and dark lust. This is a soul wrenching battle!

After seeing this battle raging in me, Anastasia removes her fingers from my chest, lifting them off, making me feel bereft. I grab her hand, and firmly place it on my bare chest. She has to do it! She is the one to break this fucking curse that laced my entire life.

“No,” I command her, my voice still strained with the raging internal battle. “I need to...” Her fingers are touching me again, and my eyes are squeezed shut so tightly, not even the light passes through my eyelids. Anastasia’s fingers travel upon my chest slowly, learning the contours, feeling my forbidden zone for the first time, familiarizing herself with my body. Her touch is magical. I open my eyes slowly to gaze into hers. My eyes are blazing with heat. The fear is trying to resurface, but the love I feel for Ana, the love she is exuding for me are overwhelming. My mouth goes slack finally. I’m panting with this overwhelming struggle. The ghost of my past fighting with pain, and the love of Anastasia with pleasure. The ultimate pain and pleasure zone. (←The Lady in My Life by Michael Jackson)

Anastasia’s stance changes; she leans up on her knees and holds my gaze; she wants to kiss me... on my chest. I don’t move. I permit her to kiss me. She finally leans in and soft as a butterfly’s touch, she plants a kiss over my heart. Her soft lips, softened even more as a result of her cries are upon my chest. The sensation I receive from the slightest of touches is the most immense I have ever felt. The pain and pleasure registering on my nerves are off the charts! A strangled groan escapes my lips, and she mistakes it for only pain and sits up right away. No!

“Again,” I whisper as my eyes still shut tightly. She leans into my chest again, and kisses one of the scars courtesy of the pimp putting out his cigarette butt. I groan loudly, and suddenly I feel this enormous flow of love towards Anastasia, like I’ve never felt before. Before I know it, my arms embrace her, and my right hand travels to her hair, pulling her head up to meet my lips forcefully, and strongly. My lips and my mouth are insistent, demanding, desirous, voracious, and hungry for her. Hungry for her affection; for her love. She reciprocates to my demanding kiss with a ferocity and hunger of her own.

Her hands find their way to my hair, knotting, pulling, and trying to merge us together. We’re kissing as if this is the last day on earth, as if there is no tomorrow; our love is binding, consuming, fiery, and oddly healing.

I pull back breathless, and manage to twist around and pull Anastasia, my woman, my life down on the floor, underneath me. “Oh, Ana,” I breathe, and her face has nothing but love, and desire for me. Her hands reach up to my face cupping, as her thumbs slowly caress my cheeks. I feel overwhelmed with love, overwhelmed with want, overwhelmed that she wants me despite the fact I am utterly fucked up-emotions brim and explode, and tears start rolling from my eyes. Finally fear is being washed out of my system with her love, through her love.

“Please Christian, don’t cry,” she pleads with me. “I meant what I said: I would never, ever leave you. I mean it! I am so very sorry if I gave you any other indication... Please Christian, please, forgive me. I love you. I will always love you,” she says fervently. (←I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston)

Her declaration sears my heart with pain. My face falls with an anguished, sorrowful expression. She still doesn’t know the darkest secret in my heart. I’m bad... I am very very very bad!

“What is it?” she asks. I swallow. Pain of hiding a dark secret from Anastasia is unbearable.

“Christian, what is this secret that makes you think I’ll run away? What makes you so determined to believe I’ll go and leave you?” she begs in a quivering voice.

“Please tell me, Christian, please...” she begs.

I sit up immediately, another battle raging in me. I cross my legs; she too sits up, outstretching her legs. My gaze is upon her, still battling whether to reveal my last dark shit to her. My soul feels like the wasteland it is; my eyes reflect the abandonment in it. I don’t know how to bare this to her. It’s hell... It’s me. It’s what a freak of nature I am.

“Ana..” I can barely whisper. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and swallow. I say a silent prayer for her to still love me after my revelation. I open my eyes, and bare the last of my secrets to her.

“I’m a sadist Ana,” I say sadly. “I like to whip and punish brown haired girls like you because all of you look like the my birth mother, the crack whore. I’m sure you can guess the reasons why,” I say in one breath. I love her; I want to be open with her. Have no secrets from her, and this was the last shit. Now, I expect she will want to have nothing to do with me. Peace of shit! Like the pimp said. I’m shattering my own fucking world, but I owe this truth to Anastasia. I think she’ll leave the second she gets over her shock. I swallow, my eyes wide, my heart in my hand ready to be shattered into pieces, I wait for her to get up and run as fast as her legs carry her out the door. (←Without You by Mariah Carey)

She looks at me gaping, lost, worried, sad, upset, bewildered, and confused; and she manages to store all those feelings in one gaze. She looks as if I turned her world upside down which of course I did.

“But...” she stops, “you said you weren’t a sadist,” she whispers. I never said I wasn’t. I just didn’t say I was; I just omitted the information, because I desperately wanted her, like I never wanted anything in my life.

“No,” I reply. “I said I was a Dominant. If I lied to you Ana, it was a lie of omission. I’m sorry,” I say looking down at my hands, contrite. I am terrified of finding out how she will react. If she hasn’t run

before, she will surely run now. I keep telling myself in my head over and over again, I can’t hide this from her. She deserves better from me. Please don’t run. Please don’t run. Please don’t run, Ana!

“When you asked me that question, I was contemplating a different relationship between the two of us,” I murmur in a soft voice.

A whimper like sound escapes her lips mournfully.

“It’s true then,” she whispers, her gaze meeting mine, utterly grieved. “I can’t give you what you need,” she utters. “How could I? Of course...” she says softly, almost inaudibly. Her face falls, and so does my heart.

“No! No! No! No! NO! Ana, NO! You can, and you do give me what I need...” My fists are clenched so tightly blood is drained out of them, leaving my knuckles completely white. “You must believe me! Please Ana!” I beg fervently.

“Christian, right now, I don’t know what to believe. This is beyond fucked up,” she whispers, choking, her eyes are brimming with tears again. (←Sorrow from the Gladiator)

I want her to know that her love is what changed me.

“Please believe me Ana! After I punished you with the belt, and you left me,” I say choking on my words with the horrible feelings resurfacing, “my entire worldview changed. All of it! I was very serious when I said I would do anything to avoid ever feeling like that again,” I plead my case with her, pained and sorrowful. “When you told me you loved me, it was a revelation for me. Do you know that no one has ever said that to me before? With your love, I had laid something to rest... I don’t know maybe it was you who laid it to rest for me. Changed me. Dr. Flynn and I are still discussing on the topic. Our jury is still out on the verdict..” I reveal.

Her face finally has a slight glimmer of hope... Hope for us. “What does that all mean for us?” she asks in a whisper. (←Now We Are Free from the Gladiator)

“What it means is that I don’t need that anymore. Not now.” Not ever. I’m liberated from my own confines. She’s doubtful. “How do you know? How can you be so sure of it?” she asks.

“I know it because, the thought of hurting you...” I say painfully, “I mean really hurting you in any real way is completely abhorrent, repulsive to me,” I say with blazing eyes. I won’t let anyone hurt her, least of all me!

“I don’t really understand Christian. What about spanking and rulers and all of that kinky fuckery?”

My hand runs through my hair, and I sigh remorsefully. “I’ve had a heavy load of shit, Anastasia. Do you have any idea what I can do with a cane or a cat?” I say. She looks at me shocked with her jaw dropping to the floor. “I’d rather not,” she gasps her eyes wide.

“I know,” I reply. I know she doesn’t want to be part of that life, and I’m alright with that. “If you wanted to do that, or be a part of that, then fine, since you don’t, I get it. I can’t and won’t do that shit with you if you don’t want to. I’ve told you this before; you are the one with all the power. And since you came back, I don’t feel that compulsion at all, Ana. None.”

This revelation scares Anastasia, but she forges on with her question. “But, when we met, when you first approached me, that’s what you wanted... from me?” she asks.

“Yes, unquestionably,” I reply.

“Christian, how can your compulsion just go and leave you? You think I’m some kind of panacea, cure for all of your issues... so you think for the want of a better word, you think you’re cured? I don’t get it.”

I sigh of course. I’m not cured. But, with Anastasia, I’m not sick either.

“I wouldn’t say I’m cured...” I say but unable to complete that sentence when she has this doubtful look she’s giving me. “Don’t you believe me Ana?” I ask in a pleading voice.

“Christian, I find it unbelievable. Which doesn’t mean ‘I don’t believe you;’ it’s means it’s hard to believe.”

“Anastasia, if you had never left me, I probably wouldn’t feel this way. But then, when you walked out on me, it was perhaps the best thing you ever did for us... for our relationship. That one single act made me realize how much I want you... not the kinky stuff I want to do to you... but just you, and you alone. I want you to believe me when I say it: I will take you any way I can have you Ana. Any way you want me,” I say with all my sincerity. She is all I want. I want to be all she wants, all she needs. I want to be worthy of Anastasia. I want to be the only man she needs. (←All the Man That I Need by Whitney Houston)

She looks at me confused, dumbstruck, and by the looks of her face, she has storm front of an approaching hurricane of a headache. She’s trying to wrap her head around my truckload of shit, if she even wants to touch it.

“You’re still here,” I say softly having expected her to run away and never look back. She had the right to do it, and I owed her this piece of information. I couldn’t have lived with myself if she didn’t know every last dark corner of my worthless soul. “I thought you would be out the door by now,” I whisper.

“Why would I possibly want to do that, Christian?” she scolds me angrily. “Because I might think you’re a sicko for whipping and fucking women who look like your birth mother? Whatever would give you that impression Christian?” she hisses at me chastising, making me blanche. I deserve that, of course; but hearing that from Anastasia hurts, still. Love, fucking hurts!

“I wouldn’t have worded quite like that, but in short, yes,” I manage to respond, perturbed. I realize once again that Anastasia can hurt me with words alone; even she if uttered them deservedly, and not just with her actions. She is the only one who has the capacity and potential to hurt me in more than one way; my life is depends on her. She can shatter it just by leaving me and build me up with one smile of hers.

My gaze is on Anastasia, unblinking, unwavering, and expectant. I love her, damn it! Will you love me back and build me up, or leave me in a perpetual ruin, Ana? Tell me! I look at her beseeching.

She sighs, and shakes her head.

“I’m completely worn out Christian. Can we talk about this tomorrow? I want to go to bed. I’m just too tired.”

Huh? What? I was expecting her to hightail out of here without turning back. Surprised, shocked, happy, elated, and relieved, “You’re not going?” I ask, in a stupid manner.

“Do you want me to go?” she asks, worried. Of course not! I was dreading the prospect; I just had to be truthful, open all the way.

“No, baby! I don’t. I thought...” I close my eyes with distress, and then open my eyes and look into hers forlorn, “I thought, you would leave me once you knew my worst secret.”

She looks at me with love, confusion, and complete frustration. I love her so much! My heart is and always will be Anastasia’s... When it comes to Anastasia, I want her all to myself in the most selfish way. I’m ardent when it comes to my feelings for her. My constant worry that she will someday think my shitload of fuckedupness is too much and leave me is invariably making me insecure. I make mistakes often enough when it comes to our relationship, because it’s all too new for me. When I get angry which seems often, I feel out of control, though I try my best to restrain myself and remind myself that punishment is off the table. And Anastasia can handle me and calm me down like no one else! She knows me at my worst, and yet she still seems to love me. Frustrated yes, but she still loves me!

Though I still worry that she will leave me. She left me once even though she declared she loved me.

“Don’t leave me, please,” I beg in a whisper. I will do anything; I will fight to keep her. (←War of My Life by John Meyer)

She looks at me in her most frustrated gaze, squinting her eyes, and shouts:

“Oh, for crying out loud, Christian! Once again, no! I am not going anywhere!” Her scolding is the most welcome sound in the whole world.

“Really?” I ask relieved.

Her face takes a lecturing expression. Stern, determined, and intent. “What exactly can I do to make you understand, and believe me that I will not run? What can I say to make you believe?” she asks exasperated.

There is one thing she can do... There is one question she can answer. In fact, that was something that has been brewing in my head, and I was hoping for better circumstances, but, it’s got to be now. The fear creeps up again, and feeling of unworthiness is paramount. But, I’ve a selfish heart. It wants what it wants, what it desires. The object of my desire is right before me. I swallow as if it’s an unattainable goal, but one I would die trying.

I swallow. “There is one thing you can do to make me believe, Anastasia,” I say.

“What?” she snaps running out of patience.

“Marry me,” I whisper. “Be my wife.”

“Huh?” she sounds dumbstruck. This wasn’t what she was expecting. She’s not sure if she heard me right. She bites her lip, hard. Not in contemplation, but to stop herself from laughing! Laughing, for crying out loud!! She is laughing at my proposal hysterically! She laughs so hard, she falls backward onto the floor and she is howling in laughter! I’m glad I can provide some entertainment, though I’m not sure if I want my feelings to be the source of her ridicule. Is she ridiculing me? Is my proposal just ludicrous to her? Her arms are covering her face, draping and trying to hide her overwhelming emotions. I know she’s had a trying evening. But, come on Ana, you’re wounding my ego!

When her laugher slowly subsides and the sounds of her hysteria turns into cries, I lift her arms off her face. She turns and gazes up at me. Well, we both had a hard evening. I turn my hand over and wipe away her tears from her cheeks.

“Do you find my marriage proposal amusing Miss Steele?” I ask trying to hide my hurt. But she understands it. Somehow she always does. Her hand reaches up, and gently she caresses my cheek and feels the day old stubble on my face. I lean my face into her touch.

“Oh, Mr. Grey,” she sighs shaking her head. “Christian, your sense of timing without a doubt is...” she pauses, “...is,” she says unable to fully complete her sentence, still at a loss for words.

I smirk at her, but it’s only for her benefit. I want her in the worst way. Yet, she doesn’t seem to share my sentiment. The fact is, I feel rejected, denied, unwanted. It’s isolating, especially when I reach out to her, and my hands are left hanging, empty. My eyes betray me, betray my feelings.

“You’re deeply wounding me here, Ana. Will you marry me?” I ask most ardently. Please say yes, baby! Please say, yes! (←I Melt With You Nouvelle Vague)

She sits up and leans over me. As she places her hands on my knees, she stares into my eyes, and sighs. “Goodness, Christian! You know what a night I’ve had! I’ve met your psychotic ex-sub with a gun pointed at my head, you’ve thrown me out of my own apartment, and just within the last few hours you’ve gone thermonuclear Fifty on me...” she starts her recriminations. I open my mouth to rebuttal, but, Anastasia holds up a hand to finish her thoughts. I close my mouth to let her say her peace.

“Christian, baby, you’ve just conceded some very shocking information about yourself, and now you asked me to marry you. Quite frankly, I’m a little overwhelmed with everything,” she declares.

She’s right of course. So, it’s not a yes, but not a no either. I shake my head to her assessment. “Yes, I think that’s a very accurate précis of the situation,” I acquiesce.

She finally smiles at me and asks, giving my words back to me. “Whatever happened to delayed gratification Mr. Grey?”

“I’m quite over that notion. I’m a very firm advocate of instant gratification now. Carpe diem, Ana,” I whisper. Seize the day! (←Notion by Kings of Leon)

“Oh Christian, look, we’ve only known each other for about three minutes. But there is so much more I need to know. But right now is not a good time to give you an answer because I’ve had too much to drink, I’m still hungry, I’m beyond exhausted, and right now, I just want to go to bed. I will consider your proposal just as I considered your contract you gave me,” she states. Then her face takes a displeasured expression with her lips pressed together hard. “And, of course,” she mutters shaking her head disappointed, “that really wasn’t the most romantic proposal.”

Oh! Okay! I can live with that. I’m nothing if not a fast learner. I tilt my head to the side and a smile creeps up on my lips. “Fair point well made as always Miss Steele,” I breathe with relief. “So, that’s not a no?” she asks.

Anastasia sighs with exasperation. “No, Mr. Grey, as you correctly assessed, it’s not a no, however, it’s not a yes, either.” She looks doubtful of my intentions, and adds, “You’re just doing this, asking me to marry you because you’re very scared, and you don’t trust me.”

That’s not right Ana!

“No, I’m doing this, I’m asking you to marry me, to be my wife, because I finally met someone that I want to spend the rest of my life with,” I say with all my heart. Anastasia’s mouth drops open. I managed to shock her once again this evening.

“I would have never thought that this would happen to me, finding that special someone,” I say completely enamored, and utterly sincere in my feelings. Anastasia continues to gape at me. She blinks, and finally finds a few words she can string together to make a sentence that makes sense.

“Can I just think about this please Christian? I also need to think over everything else that happened today. You once asked me faith and patience. Well, right back at ya Mr. Grey. I need you to reciprocate,” she utters.

I scrutinize her face; trying to make sure she’s not brushing me off, and saying no. Once I make sure she isn’t, I feel relief, lean in and with an intimate gesture, I tuck a lose strand of her hair behind her ear. I nod my head acquiescing. “Okay Ana; I can live with that,” I reply. She is right of course. Anastasia is all hearts and flowers, and clearly my proposal wasn’t. After kissing her tenderly on her lips I mutter, “You didn’t think it was so romantic, huh?” She shakes her head in the negative chiding. “You want hearts and flowers?” I ask softly, knowing her answer. She nods, and I smile with relief. So, she is seriously going to consider my proposal. I can do a cartwheel with joy here! Okay, all I have to do is to find a way to blow her mind away....hearts and flowers, hearts and flowers, hearts and flowers for Ana.

“Are you hungry?” I ask.

“Yes,” she replies. Oh, fuck! She’s been hungry all this time? It bothers me that she has, and she drank too!

“You didn’t eat,” I state the obvious. I look at her coldly, reprovingly. Why did she drink excessively without eating? I’ve told her that before. My expression hardens, as I narrow my eyes on her.

“Of course I didn’t eat,” she says sitting back on her heels, her arms crossed ready to fight with me. “It was a bit hard to think about food after having been thrown out of my own apartment by my very own boyfriend who was intimately interacting with his ex-sub which I believe substantially suppressed my appetite,” she replies icily with an impassive glare. She is right of course. I didn’t want to eat either when Mrs. Jones asked me if I wanted to have my dinner. I stand up, and proffering my hand to Anastasia, I pull her to her feet.

“Alright then; let me fix something for you to eat.”

“Oh,” she groans, “Can’t I just go to bed and sleep?” she says her hand still in mine. I can’t help it. It’s hard for me to know that she’s hungry. I can’t send her to bed without food. “No, baby. You’re hungry and you must eat. Come on,” I say and lead her to the kitchen, and park her atop a barstool. I make my way to the fridge in hopes of finding something that will pique her interest.

“Oh Christian, I don’t feel hungry anymore,” she says. Of course you do, baby. So I ignore her complaints.

“Would you like cheese?” I ask. Something light.

“Not at this hour,” she responds.

“How about pretzels?”

“Cold from the fridge? No thanks,” she says brusquely.

“You really don’t like pretzels?” I turn and ask her smiling.

“I don’t like them at eleven thirty at night. I’m going to bed now, Christian. You can rummage around the fridge all you want. I’m quite tired, and had a very long and a very interesting day. Incidentally, it’s a day I’d like to forget quickly,” she says sliding off her barstool to leave.

“Wait! How about macaroni and cheese?” It’s comfort food. I hold up the bowl containing delicious homemade macaroni and cheese, looking hopeful that she might say yes.

She stops in her tracks. “Do you like macaroni and cheese Christian?” she asks as if it’s an impossible idea. Who doesn’t?

“Would you like some?” I ask hopefully. I can’t help it. I have to provide for her. I have to feel I’m taking care of her. After all that shit that came to her way today, I want to do one positive thing to make me feel I’ve done something for her benefit. She doesn’t leave for bed...not yet.

“I gather you know how to use the microwave then?” she says in a questioning tone. Yes, I have mad microwave skills. I can punch in the numbers like no one can!

“Yes, if it’s in a package, I can usually do something with it. On the other hand, I have a problem with real food.” She’s still standing, so before she darts off the kitchen I start setting the placemats for both of us.

“It’s quite late,” she mutters.

“You don’t have to go to work tomorrow. Please don’t go,” I plead with her.

“Oh Christian, I do have to go to work. My boss is leaving for New York tomorrow.” That fucker! I frown.

“Do you want to go to New York this weekend?” I ask.

She shakes her head in the negative. “Not really. I checked the weather forecast, and it’s supposed to rain this weekend.” Okay.

“Well then, what would you like to do over the weekend?” I ask. I take the macaroni and cheese out of the microwave after its heated.

Anastasia sighs, “I just want to go through one day at a time for the time being. All this excitement is exhausting,” she states raising an eyebrow. I know. Elena and now Leila. I don’t know what I would do if it was one of her exes. I’d go crazy for sure. I dish out some mac and cheese for both of us, and set the plates on the placemats on the breakfast bar.

“I’m sorry about Leila,” I say chagrined.

“Why are you sorry Christian?” she genuinely asks.

I shrug. “I know it had to be a terrible shock for you finding Leila in your apartment like that,” I say shuddering. “Taylor swept the apartment earlier himself, and he’s devastated,” I confess.

“I don’t blame him; it’s not Taylor’s fault,” she says.

“I don’t either. Taylor’s been out looking for you,” I tell her.

“What, really? Why?” she asks genuinely.

Oh baby! Do you know how upset I was, how devastated finding out you didn’t come back here?

“I didn’t know where you went. Your purse and your phone were in the SUV. I had no way of tracking you,” I say leaving the fact I tried to track Ethan out. No need to freak her out tonight any further. “Where did you go Ana?” I ask in a soft, but with a forbidding undercurrent. My mind was running wild knowing she was with Kavanagh who had eyes for my girlfriend.

“Ethan and I went to a bar across the street. That way I could watch what was happening,” she says simply. The realization dawns on me that she had seen me carrying Leila affectionately in my arms. She’s seen me getting into the car with Flynn.

“I see,” I say.

I can see her demeanor change, and though she is trying to be nonchalant, she is anything but. “So, what did you do with Leila in my apartment?” she asks. I know you Anastasia, you’re as jealous as I am. I don’t want her to fly off the handle.

“Do you really want to know?” I ask. She slowly leaves her fork on her plate, closes her eyes briefly in pain, and when she looks up there is sadness in them, “yes,” she barely whispers. I’m not sure if I should talk about it. I know I’m gonna regret it. Argh! I give an internal groan, my mouth a flat line. I’m hesitant. I might kick myself for this later. “We talked, and I gave her bath, and I dressed her in your clothes,” I say in a hoarse whisper. She is too silent. This couldn’t be good. Too shocked, too expressionless. “I hope

you don’t mind Ana, because she was quite filthy.” Oh God! Her eyes are swimming in tears, and she’s barely holding onto her dignity. Her jaw shut tightly, and she looks like she will sob if she even twitches. Fuck! Fuck!

“That was all I could do for her Ana,” I plead with her to make her understand.

“Do you still have feelings for Leila?” she asks barely holding onto her sanity.

“No! no!” I didn’t do that for her because I have feelings for Leila. I did it because I felt responsible for her current state. I wanted to right something I might have done wrong. Fix my mistakes however little. Anastasia turns away from me as if she can’t bear to see me, as if I make her nauseous, disgusted.

“Ana, seeing Leila so utterly broken, disheveled, half mad, and so different than her former self was...” I don’t know how to finish this sentence. “I only care about her from one human being to another. Not the way you think of,” I say shrugging, remembering how she’s the fraction of the woman she used to be. Anastasia isn’t even looking at me, too upset, too overwhelmed, and too distant. I can’t take it...

“Ana, please look at me,” I beg. But she won’t. Her body rigid, taut like a bow pulled hard ready to shoot. All of a sudden she shudders violently. Oh, no! I damage everyone I touch!

“Ana...” is all I can utter.

“What?” she says sharply, unwilling to talk to me, unable to look at me.

“Don’t Ana. It doesn’t mean anything. It was only like taking care of a broken shattered child,” I try to explain. Maybe part of me was trying to fix the child in me that was neglected. What I wished people do for me when I was in that state as a toddler.

She says nothing. Collecting her plate, she walks to the trash, and scrapes off the contents.

“Ana?” I ask hoping she would respond. She just deposits her plate into the sink. She’s checking out again.

“Ana, please,” I plead with her just to look at me.

She spins around like a top and faces me agony is written all over her face. She’s physically and emotionally exhausted. “Just stop it Christian!” she shouts tired of hearing me. “Just stop with the fucking ‘Ana please’!” she scolds as her tears rain down from her cheeks. She’s gasping for air as if I’ve punched her. Her chest is rapidly rising up and down. Her face is shattered, lips quivering, and her eyes clouded with the onslaught of her tears. “I’m beyond my limit of all the shit you’ve dished out at me today. I’m going to bed. I’m physically and emotionally tired. Just let me be,” she says and turns around and sprints to the bedroom. I’m completely shocked at her reaction. I’ve done what I had to, and I know my fucking past is loaded with shit, and it is colliding with everything, well, with the only person that really matters to me, and I’m hurting her. I don’t want to hurt her, and yet here I am fucking everything up again. I was jealous when she took off with Kavanagh. And she only went for a drink after I kicked her out of her apartment. Could I have handled it if she washed Kavanagh naked? I would go mad, insane!

She looked like she aged ten years in the last half hour. The last thing I hear is her heaving sobs on the way to my bedroom. I have to make up to her. I have to have her forgive me. (←It’s hard to Say I’m Sorry sung by Boyz 2 Men) At least ease her pain. I can’t go try to fix Leila, and let the only woman I really loved be broken like this. I’m the worst kind of boyfriend! What kind of man loves his woman and puts her through misery like this?

I briskly walk after her. I stop after I enter my bedroom. The mournful sounds that are echoing in the bathroom are agonizing, alien, not like she’s crying, but like her soul is being shredded, instantly ripping my heart apart. I quickly walk into the bathroom, and find Anastasia collapsed on the floor, her entire body is shaking and heaving, in an all-consuming misery. I fall onto the floor quickly and pull her into my arms, “hey, Ana,” I say in a choking voice. I want to cry with her here, but I have to be strong for her. “Please don’t cry baby, please, Ana,” I beg her. I hold her on my lap like a child. She finally wraps her arms around my neck and her sobs are buried into my neck, her tears flowing down to my chest, cooling as they run down soaking me, and covering me in her misery. I coo her like a baby, trying to soothe her sorrows stroking her hair, and her back.

“I’m so sorry baby...” I whisper repeatedly. “I’m so sorry.” I hold her tighter, try to take away the pain I’ve inflicted on her, though how could you heal someone’s soul when you yourself are the one who shredded in the first place? She cries harder, pouring out her misery, washing her soul away with her tears. (←Shadow Days by John Mayer)

Her misery is my misery. Even what I did for Leila was out of guilt, holding onto the sliver of humanity I have, trying to right what I might have done wrong in the past, it was cruel to Anastasia, and no matter what I do, it hurts her. We sit on the floor holding each other blanketed with our individual and collective miseries. I hold and rock her until after the last drop of tear she cried out, and finally stagger to my feet with Anastasia in my arms still holding her tight. I walk into my bedroom, and carry and deposit her into our bed. I immediately shed my clothes, and lie beside her turning the lights off. I pull Anastasia into my arm tightly, never to let her go, and if she has to be miserable, and crying, I want to be the one holding and comforting her. We can be miserable together. With lights off, worry weighing heavy in my consciousness, we drift off to a troubled sleep, and my tormenting nightmares welcome me. (←Died In Your Arms Tonight by Cutting Crew)

I LOVE THEE TO THE DEPTH AND BREADTH AND HEIGHT MY SOUL CAN REACH
CHAPTER XVI

The small apartment is full of smoke. Choking me. My eyes are watered, and I cough. I make fists of my little hands and rub my eyes hard. This just hurts my eyes even more. He’s still sitting at the table with mismatched chairs. He puffs a lungful of smoke into the air, making his lips into a small pipe, and pushing the smoke out at a leisurely pace. The cigarette smoke rushes out and makes a small cloud above him. He is holding the cigarette butt in his hand looking around. He flicks the ashes onto the kitchen floor where he has been smoking.

“There is no fucking ashtray in this fucking dump!” he yells at my mother. I’m scared, but I pretend to play with my little car on the floor. Its wheels are missing and the paint is scratched.

“Vroom! Vroom!” I pretend driving it.

“Shut the fuck up you little shit!” he yells. I look scared, and yell “mommy!” But his big hand grabs my arms and my feet leave the floor. I drop my car, and it scatters across the floor and hits the dirty cabinet and stops.

“I’m sick of this brat! You had to get knocked up and have this shit!” he says and yanks my shirt open, and presses the cigarette butt on my tummy! I scream with hurt. I scream for mommy to help.

“Mommy! Mommy! Help!”

But mommy just stares. She won’t come, and she won’t help. She’s frozen in her place with panic in her eyes. She’s scared of the man. She takes a step, but yells at her.

“Sit your ass down before I put your under my feet! Do you want to be fucked in front of your kid?” Mommy stops. She doesn’t say anything. She sits down. Mommy won’t help me. I scream with pain.

“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” he yells with his yellow teeth bared. I’m hurt. He presses the cigarette butt harder on my tummy. It makes a hissing sound. It’s burning me! I try to push his hand away with my hands, and keep screaming. But he holds both my hands and slaps my face. I cry harder.

“No! No! Mommy, help!” But mommy doesn’t come. She is just sitting, her head down. She covers her ears. He tosses me onto the dirty green carpet. I curl and hold my tummy. It burns, mommy! It burns.

“He’s still fucking screaming! Christ! Shut your fucking brat up!” He walks over me and kicks me with his boot! The last thing I see is a dirty piece of gum at the bottom is his big boot hitting my already hurt tummy. I cry out with pain! Don’t hurt me anymore! He whips his belt out. Reaches down to the floor. Picks me up by my leg, and tosses me onto the sofa next to mommy. Pulls my shorts down. When the belt hits my behind and I scream, hard!

“Christian! Christian! Wake up!” Someone shakes me. I open my eyes bewildered, scared. My entire body tense, my eyes vacant, my mind is still trying reel in from nightmare and my throat is dry and hoarse from screaming. My hands dart around the bed, and come up empty. For a minute I’m scared to my core finding Anastasia absent from our bed. My breathing is rough; my eyes quickly scan around the room that is devoid of her presence, until I find her by the bed.

“You left!” I accuse her, half mumbling, “you left, you must have left,” I say with wide eyes, scared still. Her eyes take a worried look. She reaches out to me. “I’m here,” she whispers trying to reassure me. Her hand reaches out to my faces caressing, soothing, and trying to calm me down.

My breathing is still erratic from the horrible nightmare. “You were, gone,” I whisper hoarsely, still frightened. “I only went to get something to drink; I was quite thirsty,” she says. After having that horrible, ever replaying nightmare, and finding her gone, and thinking she left me for good, I find myself feeling so

vacant and abandoned. Seeing her relieves me just a fraction. “You’re here. Oh, thank God,” give a sigh of relief. I instantly pull her to me and put her down on the bed holding onto her tight as if she would fly away. “I only went to get a drink Christian,” she whispers in a soothing voice. But my heart won’t calm down. It’s beating hard, trying to run out of my body... Lub dub... Lub dub... Lub dub... Beating hard! White Horse... Red Horse... Black Horse... Pale Horse... White, red, black, pale.... I can’t soothe my heart beating crazy fast, running like the four horsemen as the ominous bringer of the apocalypse. I hug Anastasia closer. Closer still. I look at her face, examine it. Making sure that she wasn’t intending to run. Away from me. From us. I can’t take it. She sees my fear in my frightened eyes, and starts rhythmically stroking my hair, and my cheek. My breathing is still harsh, still scared, and the illuminating light in the room won’t chase the darkness away covering my desolate soul like tar. “Please Christian, I’m right here. I’m not going away... I’m not going anywhere,” she whispers in a soothing tone over and over again until it seeps through the crack within my soul. “Oh, Ana,” I breathe hoarsely with finally the realization of her presence here with me washes over me, and all of a sudden I want to feel her closer. I grasp her chin and hold Anastasia in place and cover her lips with mine, kissing her deep and hard; in an all-consuming kiss. I want to feel her presence; I want to feel all of her. My lips trail to her ear and her throat, and back to her lips, nipping, and pulling them apart with my teeth. My hands travel all over her body. I put my hands under the my t-shirt she’s wearing and pushing it upwards reaching up to her breast, caressing and pinching her nipples making her moan. My other hand moves to her hips and her torso feeling the contours of her body. She’s writhing in equal passion and pulling me to her, moaning in pleasure. I need her. I need to feel her. I need to know, I need to feel that she’s with me, and she wants me. The desire I have for her is immeasurable. “I want you,” I breathe into her mouth between kisses.

“I’m here for you Christian. Only for you baby,” she says, and her words are my undoing, going to my heart, and traveling to my soul, easing the ache that has been occupying me since last night, making me groan with pain and need and desperation. She grabs the hem of my t-shirt, and yanks it; I pull it off for her and toss it to a corner of the room. I want her naked: I want nothing between us. I kneel between her legs and pull her to a sitting position and yank her t-shirt off and toss it away. I want her with an intensity I never felt before. It is laced with want and desire, and love, but it’s not only sexual; it’s a primal need. I must feel her, to feel like whole person again. I don’t want to feel as if a part of me is missing. She completes me... I need this connection. I need it more than anything right now. My hands reach out to her face, and as I cup them, I start kissing her exposing my need to her. We both sink into the bed, Anastasia under me, as I lie on top of her. My thigh is between hers, and my ever growing erection is pushing through my boxers into her, wanting her; wanting to claim her. This is different than any other time. This is an affirmation of my love for her, but also requesting her to affirm her love to me.

After all that shit we’ve been through together, I need to have her love to be reaffirmed to me. My hands are all over her, and my lips are going to her face and neck and back to her lips. Trying to consume her mouth, my tongue darts into hers. She goes limp under me. I instantly feel her going rigid, distant, and cold. Oh no! “Christian, stop please!” she whispers into my mouth. No baby, no, please! “Stop! I can’t do this, Christian,” she says pushing me away. Away from her. She’s never done this before! She doesn’t want me! It kills me inside that she may not desire me anymore; even if it is just this moment.

“What? Ana, no... What’s wrong?” I murmur without stopping. I continue to kiss her neck and trail my tongue down to her throat with the lightest of touches, just the way she likes it, and normally she responds wildly. But’ it’s not doing it for her... No! Please! Baby! Don’t deny me! “No Christian, please. I can’t do this... I just can’t, not now. Give me some time... I need some time please,” she pleads still pushing me away. I know it’s all that fucked up shit I dished out before her. My birth mother, and brown haired girls, Leila, me going 50 on her... “Please baby, don’t overthink this,” I whisper to her ear, without breaking the connection. If I stop, I’ll go crazy with the intensity of my need for her. I slightly suck on her earlobe, knowing it has a hotline to her libido. “Ah!” she groans. Thank God! Her body is attuned to mine and connected with me stronger than its connection with her mind. Her body wants me, though her mind says ‘no’. She lifts up her hips to me while her hands are pushing me away. “I’m just the same Ana. All I know is that I love you and I need you desperately. Touch me... Please, Ana,” I beg her knowing she can’t resist touching me. I have to give that to her; I need this connection to feel... Just to be able to feel again. I don’t want to feel numb; that’s what I’ll be without her. Numb, unable to feel, inside and out. I hover over her, gazing at her to give me permission to love her, to hold her. I want her to want me. Is this too much to ask? The thought of Anastasia not wanting me is excruciating. Its gut wrenching. My eyes betray my worry. I know that she always wanted to touch me. Even though the nightmare is new, the pain of being touched, the fear is rearing its ugly head inside me; I want to do this for her. She reaches up with her hand hesitantly. She gently places her hand over my chest hair. I gasp as if she’s holding a handful of ember in her palm searing me. I close my eyes with the renewed sense of fear. It’s just haphephobia; just the fear of being touched. This is Ana... This is Ana... This is my Ana... I keep reminding myself in my head, trying to keep the fear at bay. Her hand is touching me all over, moving up to my shoulder without losing connection with my skin. I can barely breathe. My body shakes and trembles with her touch. I don’t know if it’s mostly pain or a little pleasure. Her hands move over my shoulder blades, and travel without breaking the connection. I moan... I strangled pain pleasure sound like I never had before. I have to have her, overcome this fear. This is Ana! My head dips down to her neck; my lips get to work sucking and kissing, and nipping, and lightly biting, trailing up and down her neck, her chin, caressing her lips, nose, and back to her luscious lips again. My lips cover hers in a possessive way, demanding

passage, demanding reciprocation. My tongue darts into her mouth possessing and exploring, claiming her anew as my hands are trailing, and wanting to possess of all of her body. They trail her sides, trailing up to her breasts. Right then, I want to have her nipples in my mouth, smell her skin, and let her intoxicate me body and soul. My mouth travels down to her sternum, and my lips travel over the soft curve of her breast slowly nipping, and sucking and victory. I reach the peak of her perky breast. As I consume her nipple in my mouth, my touch manipulates and fellates her nipple while my thumb and index finger captures the other one, rubbing and elongating it expertly. I want Anastasia to distract me from my fears, influence me, show me the way out of my misery, and lead me to light... her brand of light, and tell me she loves me; really truly love me, with all my fucked up shades. Anastasia’s hands travel to my back, memorizing the shape of my muscles, constantly moving, pulling me in, touching and drinking with an insatiable thirst. Her hands are all over the place on my back and chest, and shoulders. This is the first time ever, someone touched me like this... I couldn’t bear it before. This was never a possibility for me; yet with Anastasia, everything is possible. She’s my more... She’s my hope, she’s my lover, and she’s my woman all the way! The thought of it gives me an even greater possessive feeling, and my lips clamp tighter over her other nipple, sucking, and pulling it. Anastasia’s body lifts up to meet mine, and merge as her fingers start trailing, and her fingernails start digging into my back making me gasp and moan with pain laced with fear, and unbearable pleasure; for the intensity of it is new and indescribable. “Fuck, oh, fuck! Ana!” I groan; all the emotions coursing through me chokes me in half cry in agony and half moan in pleasure. She’s panting in response to my groans, and our breathing is synchronized; matching, competing in desire. I move my hand down to her navel, and lower to her sex, caressing, and my fingers enter into her; the sensation is overwhelming, making me groan. My fingers move in circular motion inside her, and her pelvis meets up with my hand making my palm flush against her sex, my fingers are knuckle deep. She wants me, and I have to have her. I sit up right away, and divest myself of my boxers and I turn to Anastasia seeking her permission. I pick up a condom packet, and as I hand it to Anastasia, I’m seeking her approval. “Do you want to do this Ana?” I breathe. “Do you baby?” I seek her face. “You know you can still say no... You can always say no,” I tell her reminding her that she is the one with all the power. She looks up at me, still desire coursing through her blazing eyes, possibly matching the intensity of mine. “Christian, don’t give me a chance to think; I just want you,” she says as she rips open the packet and with shaky hands she tries to roll it onto my length, overcome with emotion. The feelings and desire

I have for her are brimming over the meniscus and the touch of her trembling hands adds to it, making the desire overflow. “Steady, Anastasia. You are going to unman me,” I breathe. My hands go over hers, and connection adds to each other’s strength. I hold onto her and roll us over and she is on top of me. I’m letting her take control; letting her know that she owns me as much I own her.

“You ... take me,” I whisper hoarsely with all the intensity of my desire. As I hold onto her hips, she takes charge, and slowly and leisurely buries me inside her sex, and the feeling, the connection is overwhelming, satisfying, and soothing all at the same time. She leans down and kisses me; I close my eyes reveling in the feeling of her. She runs her teeth along my jaw, feeling my day old stubble, letting me graze her lips. I love her so... “Ana,” I breathe. “Touch me... Please,” I beg. I need this connection. At a deeper level, I have been craving, yearning for her hands on me, but the fears, my personal soul wrenching torment has always stopped me. Anastasia just leans forward and touches me full on.

The feeling is torturous, but I have to have it! It’s both my poison and my antidote. It hurts, but it heals. It builds my endurance. A whimper escapes my lips, “Ahhh,” as she runs her fingernails down my chest, and I thrust inside her deeper. I have to have control; I have to feel control! The fear and pain is overwhelming. I quickly twist, and get Anastasia under me, and I’m straddling her, and feeling in control once again, but her hands are still connected to my chest. I’m at the brink of my endurance, and I have to have her stop touching me. My fears are brewing into a torrent, and I’m at the brink of a sob escaping my lips. I can’t safeword Anastasia! We’re lovers. Lovers don’t safeword each other, I remind myself.

“Enough please, Ana,” I plead moaning. “No more, please,” I beg finally the dam breaking and tears start rolling silently on their own volition. Anastasia reaches up to my face and softly caresses my cheeks, absently wiping away the tears. Her hands pull my face down and she meets my lips half way, kissing me; her hands travel to my back. The pleasure pain is back, but it’s bearable. I groan and moan, and move inside her forcefully. Pushing, gyrating, but she won’t meet me, she won’t let go. She’s getting too wrapped up in her worries again, and I need this release. She has to be with me. “Let go Ana,” I coax her. “No!” she says still upset, drifting away. It’s a battle of wills. “Yes!” I growl in a deep guttural voice. She’s mentally blocking herself, and she won’t let go. She can’t find her release. “Let go!” I urge. She’s clinging, and her face betrays her; worry, apprehension, reservations from last night all muddle her gaze. “It’s just me baby... Come on; I need this. Give it to me!” I urge as I shift, and rotate my hips slightly, and gyrate and thrust, and her body finally syncs with mine, and she reaches her climax; her inner muscles contracting around my length, squeezing me, urging me to my climax, and I come loud calling out her names like a battle cry...as we both win something over our minds. I collapse on top of her with my full weight burying her deeper into the mattress and we remain wrapped around each other, and clinging like a static shirt to a body as aftershocks and tremors coursing through and into each other with our connection. I feel sated, and worry momentarily leaving me as I lie in Anastasia arms wrapped around me, cradling, and babying me. She rubs my hair soothingly and loving. Her cheeks are flushed; she’s practically glowing, and seeing her like this eases my breathing, and calms my heart down. As I lie on her chest, “Don’t ever leave me,” I whisper. I feel her neck stretching back involuntarily. She only rolls her head back when she rolls her eyes at me. I smile at her reaction. “I’m fully aware that you’re rolling your eyes at me,” I murmur. She’s surprised momentarily, but whispers back in wonder, “You know me very well, Christian.” “I would like to know you better baby.”

“Right back at ya Grey,” she says. Then asks curiously, “What was your nightmare about that jumped you out of your skin?” I breathe out as if to expel toxic air out of my body. “It’s the usual nightmare,” I whisper. “Which is what? Tell me,” she probes. Should I tell her? It’s not that I don’t want Anastasia to know more of me. God knows that I’ve told her the worst. But this...this fucking nightmare still hurts me. Still feels real. But I can’t let it win. I can’t let the pimp win after so many years. I can’t let him have this hold of me...I’m not that child anymore, not helpless, yet I feel so helpless. Am I not the master of my own universe? So many people’s livelihood depends on me, yet a worthless man who abused me still gets to plague my nights with horror. I swallow and decide to expel this poison once and for all. But my body tenses, and I sigh, long and hard. “In that dream I was about three years old, and the crack whore’s pimp is there in the apartment, mad as hell again. Then again he seems to be mad at something all the time. He’s chain smoking, one after another. The room is clouded with smoke, hard to see around. But oddly I remember that he can’t find an ashtray.” The hell fire is burning within me, but my body chills considerably. Anastasia’s breathing halts as she feels the shift in my body’s response to the nightmare. I close my eyes remembering the pain, the burn, the way I screamed, and tried to put out the searing, branding, and not being able to. Not getting any help from the crack whore, who only sits there with a bewildered gaze. She won’t comfort me, her own child, or pick me up, just stares with scared eyes. I can’t word the thought. It’s too painful. “I remember the pain. It hurt a lot. The pain and the fact that she didn’t do anything to stop him; that’s what my nightmares are about,” I reiterate bitterly. Anastasia automatically tightens her hold on me, trying to reassure me, and wraps around me; her legs tangles around mine and her arms are holding me protectively. I feel her throat moving, trying to swallow. She stifles a soft choke. I know what blocked Anastasia was my revelation from last night. That’s why Anastasia was unable to find her release. She thought I saw her like I did the crack whore. But that’s not true. Anastasia is nothing like her. I never depended on the crack whore. But Anastasia is my lifeline. I can’t exist without her. I even survived a childhood without the crack whore. Ana is my

whole world. I hold my head and look up to Anastasia, and gaze into her blue eyes with all my intensity. “Anastasia, you’re not like her. Don’t you think that, Ana! Please! You’re my life,” I plead with her. She finally reels back from her thoughts, blinking. I want to show her that she can trust me, and that I’m open with her. I feel a sudden relief having explained what I’ve never told another living soul except for Dr. Flynn. “Sometimes what plagues my nightmares is the last image I have of her. She’s just lying on the floor. I think that she’s sleeping. But she never moves; just motionless. And the intense hunger. I’m just very hungry. There is no food left. Then I hear a very loud noise at the door. I know he’s come back. He gets angry at finding her there like that, and hits me very hard...” I say remembering. I remember him hitting me and kicking me around again. I close my eyes and the memories flood. I fling my eyes open not willing to let the horrendous memories plague me. “Then he’s cursing the crack whore for being dead.” I shake my head. “His initial reaction was always to use his fist or his belt,” I say cursing under my breath. “Is this why you don’t like to be touched?” asks Anastasia softly. One of the many reasons. I can only close my eyes, and hold her tighter to chase the images away from my head. Her presence always chases them away. “That’s too complicated to explain,” I say. How could you explain the feeling of worthlessness? How could you explain the starvation of love? How could I tell her how I try to fill the void and it’s a black hole always sucking and it’s.just.never.enough! Looking for your reckoning just for existing! Nothing is enough, and nothing sates you... When you feel worthless, no love penetrates you even if they pour it at you by the galloons. It’s like taping sandwiches all over your body, and its abundance would make no difference when it doesn’t go where it’s needed. I don’t know how Anastasia got under all that worthlessness, and raised me up. I can’t talk about all this shit! Just too overwhelming. I try to distract Anastasia from her Spanish inquisition. I nuzzle her between her breasts, and inhale her womanly scent... soap, outdoor, and Anastasia’s personal intoxicating scent. But, Anastasia is too alert, and for once, she won’t be distracted. Her hands dart into my hair, and softly rub and her index finger goes under my chin lifting my chin up to look at her eyes. “Tell me,” she coaxes me. The inquisitor is back. I sigh and give up, because Anastasia is nothing if she isn’t persistent. “My birth mother didn’t love me; I didn’t love me. I didn’t know any gentle touch. The only kind of touch I was closely familiar with was...hard, rough, and harsh. That’s the root of it. John,” I say, and then amend myself, “Dr. Flynn can explain it better than I can,” I tell her.

Anastasia’s eyes brighten momentarily as if she had an epiphany. “Can I see Dr. Flynn?” she asks. I shift my head to scrutinize her expression better. “Is my fifty shades of fuckeduppedness rubbing off on you?” She mock groans, “Tell me about it... That, and then some. But, right now, I like how it’s rubbing off at me,” she says wiggling under me with her bare naked body, making me groan. I breathe out to slow the desire. “I like that too, Anastasia,” I smile salaciously, and my eyes darken with love and desire brimming right under the surface. My lips reach up at hers and kiss her slowly. Tasting her, and savoring her. I kiss the contours of her lips and her jaw, her cheeks and the corners of her eyes; I can’t get enough of her. “Do you know how precious, how important you are to me Anastasia? I don’t even know how to word the feelings. I am serious about marrying you. I want to get to know you better, but we can do that after we get married. I want to take care of you; look after you, and you can look after me, care for me,” I say looking at her hopeful. “We can have kids, Ana! I will lay my entire world at your feet, before you. I want you body and soul, for the rest of my life. Please think about it, Ana,” I plead with her. She shakes her head. “Ok, Christian, I will think about it. But if it’s okay with you, I’d like to speak with Dr. Flynn,” she asks raising her eyebrows. “Anything for you, baby. Anything you want. When would you like to see him?” “Sooner rather than later,” she says. “Ok, baby, I’ll call and make the appointment first thing in the morning. But, right now, it’s quite late. Let’s just get a little more sleep. It’s nearly four o’clock in morning,” I say turning off the light on the side table. I spoon her, and tighten my hold on her, nothing between us. Skin to skin. I nuzzle her neck and whisper, “I love Anastasia Steele, and I want you by my side, always,” I whisper into her neck, kissing her, “go to sleep baby,” I whisper. I feel Anastasia shifting in my arms, as if she’s getting ready to leave my embrace. “Stay, baby,” I mumble, my words garbled with sleep. The next thing I know she’s darting out of my arms like a shot out of a gun leaving them bereft. “Oh shit! Oh shit!” she mumbles. I’m amused with her nervousness of being late. I hear her turn the shower on, and dash in a hurry. I grab the phone by our bed, and press two numbers. Taylor answers after the first ring.

“Yes, Mr. Grey,” he answers. “Taylor, Miss Steele is running late this morning. I need you to drive her to SIP. She’s getting ready right now. I think it’d be best if you waited downstairs.”

“Yes, sir,” he replies and I hang up. I can still try to convince Anastasia to stay today. I don’t even feel like working today. Anastasia comes out half dripping with water under five minutes. I sit up in bed watching her amused. I’m a little weary as well... What if she changes her mind after sleeping over what had transpired last night and the weight of that realizations pulls her away from me? She’s wearing all black today. Black lacy bra and black lacy boy shorts. Then she puts her black slacks and a black shirt on. Damn! She looks hot! How I would love to peel what she just put on! “You look great, baby...” I say mischievously. “You know, you can always call in sick,” I breathe trying to entice her to come back to bed giving her my best smile. She groans. “No, I can’t today, Christian. I’m not a megalomaniac CEO with a gorgeous smile who can come and go as he pleases,” she tries to chide me. “I like the idea. I like to come as I please,” I say smiling. Come on, baby, get back to bed. “Christian!” she scolds me throwing her towel at me, in that teasing way. “You think I have a beautiful smile?” “Yes you do. I know you’re well aware of the effect you have on me,” she says looking at me pointedly, and then puts on her watch. “Do I?” I ask her all too innocent. “Oh heaven’s sake!” she scolds me narrowing her eyes. “Of course you do; it’s the same effect you have on every other women. It gets exhausting watching them all swoon,” she says jealously. Oh baby, you’re turning me on! “Does it?” I ask feigning innocence, but I can’t hide the mischief from my voice.

“Stop playing innocent Mr. Grey. It really doesn’t suit you,” she scolds fixing her hair into a ponytail. She leans down to kiss me, and desire still coursing through me, I grab Anastasia and pull her under me.

“Please stay, baby,” I murmur. She shakes her head. “What can I do to tempt you?” I inhale her scent, and run my nose along her jaw. I feel her heartbeat increasing. “You can’t. Now let me go,” she says, struggling to get back up to her feet. Exasperating woman! I pout like a toddler who didn’t get his way. I now know the effect it has on her. She immediately smiles, and runs her fingers over my lips. Her gaze has nothing but love in it. She leans up and kisses me. Argh! I groan, and grab her and kiss her long and hard and possessively. Then lift her up to her feet. “Alright, you stubborn woman,” I say to her gazing. “Taylor will drive you to work. It’s much faster than you trying to rush and find a place to park. He’s waiting for you outside the building.” “Okay. Thank you,” she says disappointed. “Alright Mr. Grey, enjoy your lazy morning. I wish I could stay, but the man who owns the company I work for wouldn’t approve his staff ditching work just for some hot sex,” she says before she’s on her way out. “Oh, Miss Steele, how wrong you are. I believe he would approve. In fact, he would insist on you staying home just for that purpose.” She narrows her eyes on me.

“Why are you still in bed? It’s unlike you,” she says confused. I grin ear to ear. With a lazy gesture, I fold my hands under my head, I say, “Because I can Miss Steele.” She shakes her head at me, and blows me a kiss, saying, “Laters baby!” When Anastasia leaves, I feel empty all of a sudden like she took the air with her. I don’t like the feeling of desolation. I get up make my way to the shower. I quickly wash myself, and dress in my pants, and white shirt. I run my hands through my hair, and that should do it. When I make my way out to the kitchen, Mrs. Jones is already fixing my breakfast. “Your usual Mr. Grey?” she asks. “Yes, Mrs. Jones, good morning,” I say. She takes a second look at my easy demeanor, and I swear she gives a sigh of relief. Much different than the tight ass demeanor I was presenting last night. I think I scared the shit out of her. When Anastasia left me the first time, I was unable to function. But last night, I was hell on wheels. How would I be this

morning if Anastasia was gone? I shudder as if I have the chills. I don’t even want to go there mentally. The emptiness is utterly lonely. I love her! That’s a plain as the nose on my face kind of fact. Everyone knew it before I was able to voice it to her. But she’s so tiringly stubborn which reminds me, I have to remind her once again to use her Blackberry for e-mails. I take my Blackberry out and type Anastasia a message. _______________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: Missing you Date: June 15, 2011 09:04 To: Anastasia Steele Please use your Blackberry Ana. X Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. _______________________________________________ I press ‘send’ and as the e-mail to Anastasia’s work leaves, I type another message to her private e-mail in her Blackberry. As I’m finishing my breakfast, and typing up the new message to her, Taylor comes back. _______________________________________________

From: Christian Grey Subject: Missing you Date: June 15, 2011 09:05 To: Anastasia Steele

Anastasia, my bed is too big and too lonely without you. Looks like I have to go to work after all. Even the megalomaniac CEOs need something to do.

Christian Grey

Twiddling his thumbs CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. _______________________________________________ “Did Anastasia make it to work on time?” “She was fifteen minutes late, only because we left here at 0900,” says Taylor. Taylor and his military time! I nod in response. “Give me a few minutes, and then you can drive me to GEH.” “Yes, sir,” responds Taylor.

As Taylor is driving me to GEH, I call Dr. Flynn.

“Christian, how can I help you?” he answers the phone.

“Morning John. Anastasia would like to see you. The sooner you can see her, the better.”

“Really?” replies Dr. Flynn completely surprised.

“Why would that surprise you?”

“Well, she jokingly said I was an overpaid charlatan. Though I think she half believed in it, too. Is it because of last night?”

I close my eyes, and sigh. “Yes.”

“How did she take it?” he asks.

“She didn’t.”

“I...” I trail off having a hard time wording my thoughts. “I really thought she was going to leave me, John. I was...” I exhale loudly. “But she didn’t... Though she had a shit of a time. Totally devastated, and hurt. I told her the truth about myself.”

“Which truth would that be?” says John in his stern Doctor voice. “You know what it is John. That I’m a sadist.”

“Christian, you’re not a sadist! We’ve been over this many times. You always see the worst in yourself. You never give credit to how much you’ve changed in such a short time. You needed someone to break your walls that you’ve erected as a very young child. That was your coping mechanism. If you formed no attachments, then you would not feel abandoned when those attachments were broken. Some of my colleagues have a simple equation for that. Expectations – Reality = Disappointment. I believe you were trying to balance that equation by not expecting anything. As a result you wouldn’t feel disappointment of any letdowns. But that of course have other negative consequences in one’s psyche. Sometimes we must feel disappointed. They’re not all bad. The storms in one’s life are what clean up your personal deck. No man is an island my friend.” That makes me smile. “That’s what Anastasia says all the time... the island thing.” “One more thing.” “Yes, I’m listening.”

“Are you sitting down? You’re not driving or anything, are you? Not eating anything?” “I shall sit down momentarily. I gather you have some news of importance.” “Yes. Here it goes. I asked Anastasia to marry me!” And Taylor swerves off to the shoulder, and immediately gathering himself takes back control of the SUV again. “What the? Taylor!” “I’m sorry Mr. Grey,” apologizes. Clears his throat, and he’s flushes crimson all the way to his ears and he fixes his eyes on the road unable to even move his head to meet my gaze in the rearview mirror. My news took Taylor by surprise, and I slowly go back to my conversation on the phone with Dr. Flynn again. “Christian, are you alright?” Dr. Flynn asks anxiously. “Yes, we’re fine. It was nothing,” I say icily gazing into the back of Taylor’s head who is studiously ignoring me, blushing more. “What was Anastasia’s answer?” asks Flynn with a barely contained curiosity. “She’s hasn’t given me an answer yet. She said she will give her consideration. I think this may be why she wants to see you.” “I see. In that case, I shall see her soon. How does tomorrow evening sound to you?” “That sounds great. Oh, by the way, how was Leila?” “She was resting last night, and she will go through some psychiatric evaluations today. I have a brilliant colleague working with her, but I will check with her at all times, and collaborate with the other psychiatrists. She will get there, but it will take time. I will keep you updated, Christian.” “Thank you,” I say ready to hang up. “And, Christian?” “Yes?” “Have a little faith in yourself.” “Is that your professional opinion?”

“Yes and an advice from a friend.” “Fifty shades, John. You know, it ain’t easy.” “Remember, focus on the solution. Focus on your goals, what you want to achieve, where you want to see yourself. The problems of the past will be just that. Past.” I feel my Blackberry vibrating in my hand as I’m speaking to Dr. Flynn announcing an incoming e-mail. “I’ll keep that in mind,” I say and hang up anxious to find out who sent me the message hoping its Anastasia. Taylor pulls into the GEH’s underground garage.

_______________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: It’s alright for some Date: June 15, 2011 09:26 To: Christian Grey My boss is mad at me, and I blame you for keeping me up late with your shenanigans. You should be ashamed of yourself Mr. Grey. Anastasia Steele Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP _______________________________________________ I loved the shenanigans we’ve dabbled in. I can’t help but respond to her in kind. And besides, why did she even go to work this morning? I begged her not to go. The fucker of a boss she has is now giving her a hard time. With a smile I exit the SUV as soon as Taylor drops me in front of the elevators, and type her a message on my way up to my office. _______________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: shenani-whatagans? Date: June 15, 2011 09:31 You don’t really have to work Anastasia. You have no idea how outraged I am at my shenanigans. However, I like keeping you up late ;) But, please use your Blackberry to write me.

Oh, and please marry me. Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. _______________________________________________ Why do I feel so giddy? So much like a teenager... so immature, so unlike me. Her responding message dings shortly after. The elevator yanks me up along with four other passengers, but I’m too focused on what is inside my Blackberry; reading her message, and devouring it than who is around me. _______________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: have a living to make Date: June 15, 2011 09:34 To: Christian Grey

Mr. Grey, I know that your natural inclination is toward nagging, but please stop. I need to talk to your shrink. I shall give you my answer only then. In the meantime, I’m not opposed to living in sin.

Anastasia Steele Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP _______________________________________________

What the fuck? She’s using the SIP e-mail and talking about private things knowing full well that the messages are stores in the company e-mail servers. Why is so fucking disobedient? I reply her immediately. My mood changes. As I exit the elevator, and walk into my spacious office through the double door both Olivia the intern and Andrea jump to their feet. But I think Olivia’s job description requires her to jump. God! I’ve never seen that girl, not jump! She’s always skittish. I wonder why. Can’t she sit still? It’s like she’s sitting on a handful of thumbtacks, for God’s sake! Relax a little.

“Mr. Grey,” Andrea says, scooping up the daily appointments in her iPad after me.

“Not now, Andrea” I say. That stops Andrea in her tracks. I continue to type Anastasia a message. _______________________________________________

From: Christian Grey Subject: BLACKBERRY Date: June 15, 2011 09:39 To: Anastasia Steele Anastasia – if you are going to discuss Dr. Flynn in your messages, then you must USE YOUR BLACKBERRY. This is not a request.

Christian Grey Now pissed CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

_______________________________________________

No response comes from her. Good, she’s got the message, and knows I’m pissed. Five minute passes, and still no response. Is she mad at me for using shouty capitals as she calls them? I let her be, but not without the rising fear in me. She doesn’t answer me. Maybe she stepped away. I type a message to her private e-mail in her Blackberry. _______________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: Discretion Date: June 15, 2011 09:39 To: Anastasia Steele Is the better part of valor, Anastasia. Please use your discretion... I keep telling you that your work emails are monitored. HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO REMIND YOU OF THAT? Yes, I’m using shouty capitals as you would call them. USE YOUR BLACKBERRY. I forgot to tell you; Dr. Flynn can see us tomorrow evening. X Christian Grey Still pissed CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. _______________________________________________

I press the intercom. “Andrea?” "Yes, Mr. Grey,” “Bring in the schedule. “Right away sir,” responds Andrea. A few minutes later Andrea is in the room. She’s one of the few people who can handle my moods at work. One is Ros, and Andrea is a close second. But then, this is why I pay her mega bucks, because she can handle what I dish out professionally, and calmly. Olivia, the intern, not so much. I swear that girl is a walking around with a handful of thumbtacks stuck in her ass. I’m glad Andrea manages her well. “Mr. Grey, Ros was looking for you earlier, and asked me to call her as soon as you got in. Are you in sir?” “Yes, I am. But, I can go and find her for a change. You don’t need to call her,” I reply absentmindedly. Still worried that Ana didn’t call. “There are a few business meetings you have sir and the first one starts within the next hour.” “Before we jump into the meetings, whos and whats, I need to inform you of something. When I’m in the meetings, or someplace in the building, as I expect I need to be away from my office today. Should my girlfriend, Miss Anastasia Steele call, you are to find me immediately.” “Yes, sir,” she says without any skip in her professionalism. I have of course told Anastasia’s name to her in the past. “It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, who I’m speaking to. She comes first. The second she calls, you must find me. Got, it?” “Yes, of course sir,” she replies. “Alright, then. Give me the day’s agenda,” I say and she lists the contents of my schedule for the day. Once Andrea is gone, I go and find Ros in the building in her office which surprises her. She was expecting Andrea to call her to let her know. But, occasionally it’s good to keep your employees, and your right hand man or woman in this case to keep on their toes. Not a whole a lot shakes Ros. She’s

been with me since the inception of my company, and knows me well. We dive into business, and I go over the numbers she’s dishing me out regarding the company GEH is going to liquidate. She also wants to discuss the proposals Mr. Ipkins and his team had presented. Ross comes back with me to the meeting room, and we discuss the numbers we’ve analyzed with the finance team. By the time the numbers are crunched, and several of the team members sweated through their shirts under my scrutiny, it’s nearly noon already. I realize that Anastasia hasn’t e-mailed me back. I keep checking my Blackberry to no avail. Ros notices, but says nothing. Once the meeting is over, she asks, “Is everything alright, Mr. Grey? You seem to be preoccupied.” “Yes, everything is fine,” I say brushing her off. “I have something to tend to in my office. I’ll see you at the lunch meeting,” I say and walk out leaving her staring behind me. I type Anastasia a message on my Blackberry. _______________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: crickets Date: June 15, 2011 12:14 To: Anastasia Steele I haven’t heard from you Anastasia. Please tell me that you are alright. You know how I worry, and I don’t do well with worry. I will send Taylor over to check on you. X Christian Grey Over anxious CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. _______________________________________________

I realize that my cell phone is running out of juice and give it to Andrea to charge it, and instruct her sternly again, should Anastasia call me, Andrea is to find me immediately. “Has the lunch been catered?”

“Yes, everything is set sir; they’re waiting for you in the meeting room,” she says directing me to one of the meeting rooms in the same floor. “Andrea, again, I’m expecting Miss Anastasia Steele to call me. Get me as soon as she calls.” “Yes, sir, but you’ll be in a meeting sir with the Korean businessmen.” I abruptly stop and turn on my heels. “Do you think I fucking care? She calls, you get me! Understand?” Andrea blanches. “Yes, sir, clearly,” she says as I shake my head, and Andrea opens the door, and I walk in. When I enter into the room, everyone get up to their feet. Ros is already there with her assistant, and the two of the shipyard managers are here already. Good! My mind is still preoccupied with Anastasia. She hasn’t e-mailed me, and she hasn’t called me. It’s unlike her. What is going on? Is she running? Is she mad? I’m nervous about it and the gnawing feeling never leaves me. Right now, I am barely able keep myself occupied. I could just drive to SIP with Taylor. A few minutes into the meeting, I’m tapping my fingers under the tab. Andrea slowly opens the door to the meeting room, comes beside me. “I apologize for the interruption Mr. Grey,” she says professionally. “I wouldn’t have interrupted, but there is an important matter that came up requiring your urgent attention, sir. May I?” she says and leans in. “The phone call you were expecting just came in sir, and she’s on the line. Would you like to take it outside?” I nod my head solemnly. “Gentlemen, I sincerely apologize. I must request your permission to attend an urgent matter. Please, enjoy the meal. I shall not be long. One of those things that comes unexpected. I will return shortly,” I say and leave the room. The faces of the Korean businessmen are one of displeasure. They think this is a disrespectful act, but right now, I don’t give a fuck! With a solemn face of a businessman who is attending a company emergency, I leave the room, and quickly make my way to my cell phone. Why am I so fucking nervous? I take a deep breath, and compose myself, and disguising my shaky hands I take the phone. “Are you okay?” I ask immediately. “Yes, I’m fine,” she replies immediately, and I release a breath I didn’t know I was holding.

“Christian, why wouldn’t I be okay?” she whispers, and there is calmness, and reassurance in her voice. “I was worried, because normally you are so quick to respond to my emails. And after what I revealed to you yesterday, I was so worried,” I say relaying my concerns in a whisper. Andrea comes up all wringing her hands flustered which is a new response from her as she’s always cool, calm and collected. “Mr. Grey. Ros sent me just now, and she says the guests are going to leave, and they’re rather displeased. She was urgently requesting you to come back to the meeting. Could you come right now, sir?” she asks looking rather contrite with pleading eyes. “Not now Andrea. Tell them to wait,” I say in a stern, no-nonsense voice. And she better fucking listen and do as I say. “I would love to Mr. Grey, but Ros said they would only do business with you, and not the right hand ‘woman’” she said in a tone Ros would convey, as if the word ‘woman’ is a dirty lowly word. I feel exasperated. “No! I said wait!” I hear my voice ringing in the office. Andrea turns puce, and unable to answer and just scuttles away as fast as she can. I guess she would rather deal with the Koreans than an angry Christian Grey. “Christian, clearly you’re very busy. I only called to let you know that I’m alright, and I mean it. I’m just extremely busy today. Jack has been cracking the whip. Uhm...I mean, anyway...” she trails off, and I know the sounds. She’s blushing. I feel a sense of calm wash over me. We’re okay! Thank God! She’s not mad at me. She’s not leaving. I even feel amused. “Cracking the whip, eh? Guess, there was a time I would have called him a lucky man. But, don’t let him get on top of you baby,” I say joking. “Christian!” she reprimands me raising her voice, and I’m grinning ear to ear. But it’s short lived. I hate that fucker. “Just watch him, that’s all. Look baby, I’m so glad and relieved that you’re alright. What time shall I pick you up?”

“I’ll e-mail you the time,” she replies. “Use your Blackberry,” I warn her immediately. “Oh for the love of... Yes, Sir,” she replies snappish. “Laters baby,” I finally say carefree, and completely relieved. “Bye...” she says, but we seem to be hanging on the line, neither one willing to hang up. “Hang up, Christian,” she say admonishing me, but somehow there is a pleasant tone in her voice. I fucking hate this day away from her. My heart has been jumping for the last several hours. “I wish you’d never gone to work this morning, baby,” I say longing. “I couldn’t agree more, but I’m quite busy. Hang up, Christian,” she says. “No, you hang up,” I say smiling. “Baby, we’ve been here before,” she says pausing, and I can imagine exactly what she’s doing. “Stop biting your lip Anastasia,” I whisper. She gasps. “See, you think I don’t know you Ana, but I know you far better than you think I do,” I murmur seductively knowing the full effect of my voice on her. She gives a stifled groan. “Christian,” she whispers. “I’ll talk to you later, but right now, I really wish I hadn’t left this morning, too,” she says regretfully. “I’ll wait for your e-mail Miss Steele,” I murmur. “Have a good day, Mr. Grey,” she says hanging up. In a far better mood, I quickly make my way to the meeting room as I find Ros and Andrea almost trying to corral the Koreans. It’s actually a funny sight, but I come into the room with full on command, and appease the businessmen. And all is well in the universe once again since Anastasia called. By the time Korean businessmen leave, we mutually agree to meet again. And because my mind wasn’t preoccupied with the thoughts of Anastasia leaving me, I was able to turn my charm full on, and put the meeting in the right track.

My Blackberry buzzes, and I look at it in hopes that it’s Anastasia, but it’s my little sister Mia. “Christian!” she gushes greeting me. “Hi Mia, what’s up?” I ask. “You know what’s up! Your birthday, silly! And I want to throw you a birthday party at our parents’ house this Saturday. Well, you know Mom and Dad. They want everyone over to dinner to celebrate your birthday. But I think, they’re also very pleased to see you happy, and sort of show Anastasia off to the friends and family. But I don’t have Ana’s number. I was hoping you could give it to me, so I can invite her to your birthday party!” she says in one breath. “Oh, Mia. You know I don’t like celebrating my birthday!” I say complaining. “Christian, don’t rain on my parade! You’re my brother, and I want to do this for you! So, suck it up, and hand over Anastasia’s phone number,” she says in a no-nonsense tone. I sight, but smile at my little sister’s tenacity, and give Anastasia’s phone number at SIP. “Mia, it’s great to talk to you, but I really have to go. I have ton of work to get through. Love you!” I say surprising Mia. “Love you too, Christian!” she says after pausing, almost speechless, and we hang up. I dive back into work again. Finally knowing that Anastasia isn’t going to run out on me relaxes me tremendously, and I can focus on work. In fact, by the time I managed to check my Blackberry, I’m happy to see that there is already a message from Anastasia. _______________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: antediluvian Date: June 15, 2011 16:10 To: Christian Grey My Dear Mr. Grey, I’m curious, when exactly were you intending to tell me? What shall I get for my old man for his birthday? Perhaps you would want some new batteries for your hearing aid?

Ax Anastasia Steele Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP _______________________________________________ Seeing her message makes me completely happy and with an idiotic grin on my face, I type her a response. _______________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: prehistoric Date: June 15, 2011 16:19 To: Anastasia Steele Miss Steele, you shouldn’t mock the elderly. I am however glad that you are alive and kicking. I see that Mia has been in touch with you. Guess you can get me batteries; they’re always come in handy. I didn’t say anything, because I don’t really like celebrating my birthday.

X Christian Grey Deaf as a doorknob CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. _______________________________________________ When I hit send, I realize that this is the first birthday I have a girlfriend. Hopefully a girlfriend who says “Yes,” to be my wife. Anastasia’s message dings back quickly. _______________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: hmm Date: June 15, 2011 16:23 To: Christian Grey My Dear Mr. Grey, I can imagine you pouting as you wrote your last sentence. You know what that does to me. A xox Anastasia Steele

Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP _______________________________________________ I just realized that Anastasia has been using her work e-mail for all her e-mails. Exasperating woman! ______________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: Rolling eyes Date: June 15, 2011 16:28 To: Anastasia Steele Miss Steele, WILL YOU PLEASE USE YOUR BLACKBERRY!!!. X Christian Grey Twitchy palmed CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. _______________________________________________

When her responding message comes back, I notice with relief that it’s from her Blackberry. Why is it so hard for her to follow one simple instruction? _______________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: inspiration Date: June 15, 2011 16:32 To: Christian Grey My Dear Mr. Grey, You and your twitchy palms can’t stay away for long, can they? I’m just too curious to know what Dr. Flynn would say about that? But now I know exactly what to give for your birthday, and I hope it makes me sore... ;) Ax _______________________________________________

What the fuck! Anastasia is either giving me a nervous breakdown, or a hard on! She is the only woman who can get me from cold to scorching hot in seconds, and get my heart racing like no one else. And I know some hard core kinky shit; but what I feel for her is more than anything I’ve felt for anyone ever before. I want her like I wanted nothing else, ever before. ______________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: angina Date: June 15, 2011 16:37 To: Anastasia Steele Miss Steele, I don’t think my heart or my pants could stand the strain of another e-mail like that. Behave. X Christian Grey Twitchy palmed CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. _______________________________________________ From: Anastasia Steele Subject: trying Date: June 15, 2011 16:41 To: Christian Grey Christian, I’m currently trying to work for my very trying boss. Please stop bothering me and being trying yourself. It is your last email that nearly made me combust here. X PS: Could you pick me up at 6:30 please? Ax _______________________________________________ From: Christian Grey Subject: I’ll be there Date: June 15, 2011 16:45 To: Anastasia Steele Miss Steele,

Nothing would give me greater pleasure. Well, actually, I can think of a number of things that would give me greater pleasure – all of which involve you. X Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. _______________________________________________ Put that in your pipe and smoke it baby! Taylor is in the corner of my office and trying to be a piece of furniture bein inconspicuous. “We’re picking up Anastasia at 6:30 Taylor. I think I have some time to work out. Let’s go to the gym,” I say, and Taylor nods as we walk out of my office calling it the day. ******

Sonnet 43 - How do I love thee? Let me count the ways by Elizabeth Barrett Browning How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of everyday's Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death. **********

This posting is dedicated to a little angel named ♥‿♥ James ❀◕ ‿ ◕❀

AND
CHAPTER XVII

Anxious to see Anastasia and since I haven’t been able to talk to her today as much as I would have liked to, I become nervous, and I try to finish my workout quickly. Since I met Anastasia, my mind is always occupied with her, and about her. My control freakery has taken a new dimension. (Every Breath You Take by Sting & The Police) As I’m kicking the crap out of the free standing kickboxing dummy, Taylor is running full speed on the treadmill. That man can outrun a greyhound! He has the lifelong training and the endurance. But then he keeps up with all his Black-ops training as much as possible. He can run 10K in thirty-eight minutes, and fifty four seconds with fifty pounds of gear on his back. What impresses me about Taylor isn’t the individual physical endurance requirements from a military man such as he is, but how much he can take and still keep going. He doesn’t know when to quit. That’s something I understand; not being a quitter myself. It’s a good thing, because I don’t do with quitters.

Taylor is a loyal employee, I trust him implicitly; in fact I trust him with my life. He has seen me in some of the most compromising positions. Not that I cared; I hired him for his skills. He’s always remained extremely professional and knew how to make himself scarce if by chance he found me paddling a strapped submissive stretched out on the breakfast table or if he has to break some urgent, can’t-waittill-Grey-finished-his-fucking kind of emergency, he managed to keep a straight face, and break the connection – no pun intended; though his eyes were anywhere but on me, and still came in and distracted me from the task at hand. I didn’t care how he interrupted me, or with whom, but game has changed since Anastasia has been in my life. I don’t want anyone seeing her naked, or in the throes of ecstasy; that’s for my eyes only. (For Your Eyes Only)

I made it abundantly clear to Taylor that when Anastasia and I are in our privacy, he’s not to disturb me, or if he has to do it, he must do it via other means. He’s not allowed to see her naked under any circumstances. I must have loved Anastasia since I first met her, because I never imposed that rule on Taylor before. Ever! Anastasia is the first girl I held hands with. She wouldn’t know that, because I never told her. Physical touch is something I avoided at all cost. Anastasia’s always been so precious to me. No matter how kinky, how raw, and carnal our fuckery got; it’s always been making love with Anastasia. I only fucked in the past. I never felt an emotional connection with any woman. It was abhorrent to me. I never pursued someone who wasn’t in this Dominant / Submissive lifestyle. I didn’t care to teach anyone. I expected all the subs to know what they were doing, and I required them to have endurance with the amount of kinky shit I wanted to do with them, and to them. Weaklings or a sub who had fifteen minutes of whipping and calling ‘red’ wouldn’t be for me! She’d be out the door the second I unbuckled her handcuffs with her clothes in her hand. Yet, I don’t care that Anastasia hates the whipping and the extreme shit I used to enjoy. I wanted to do those to Anastasia, and enjoy it with her, but the second she left me; all those feelings have gone out the window. I wanted her for more, in other ways than just kinky shit. I couldn’t breathe, and for the first time in my life, i felt guilt for wanting to practice them on her! I disgusted myself because she hated whipping. Anastasia possess me body and soul. She’s like no one else! One of her smiles can get a man to heaven, and if she was to give me a cold shoulder, I’d move heaven and earth to change that, to get on her good graces. I can’t think of a world where she didn’t exist. I couldn’t exist! Not without her!

Even Taylor is fond of Anastasia, and if I didn’t know he was in love with Mrs. Jones, I’d be jealous, and I’d fire his ass despite the fact that he’s the best employee who works for me. Even though I know his fondness is almost the same way I feel for my sister, I still can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy in me especially when Anastasia shows any kind of interest towards him even if that feeling is ‘avuncular’. The though makes me kick the dummy so hard, it nearly bends to the ground springing back hard several times making Taylor turn his gaze onto me impassively as he keeps running. I make my way to the treadmills, set my incline and speed before I start running. Taylor’s Blackberry must have buzzed, because he expertly slide and jump off from the treadmill when he was running top speed. “Taylor,” he answered, and within a few seconds his eyes darts to mine. I immediately jump off the treadmill’s belt. “Welch,” he mouths to me, and I extend my hand for the phone.

“Grey’s here. What’s up?” I say apprehensively. After Anastasia was insistent on going to New York with her boss, I tasked Welch to dig a little deeper about a certain Jack Hyde. “Mr. Grey, I tried to reach you on your phone sir, but since you didn’t answer, I called Taylor.”

“You got me now. What have you found?” I say impatiently. “I’ll be emailing the background to you shortly sir, but I wanted to report to you on my interviews with Mr. Hyde's former PAs. Jack Hyde has had seven assistants in the last fifteen months. Miss Steele is the eight assistant he’s had in this short time.” I cringe, but I was already aware of this information. “Yes, I was aware of this since your initial background check. What have you found new?” “Sir, I personally went to interview all these young ladies; I’ve manage to interview five of them and there are a few common denominators in all of them. They’re all young; in their early twenties, recent college graduate, or have been in the work force for just a couple of years. The only assistant that worked for him longest has been there for just three months. Others have worked even shorter duration. That piqued my interest, and when I went to casually interview and question them about it, none of them were forthcoming. They all have had this scripted image of Jack Hyde and the responses were nearly verbatim, sir.” “How did you introduce yourself to them?” “I told them that Jack Hyde was being considered for a higher position in the company, and we were looking to see if he was capable of managing a larger number of employees since he has had several assistants he didn’t keep. We didn’t want the revolving door effect in the company. Was he hard to work

with? What was most difficult thing about working for Mr. Hyde? Why did they think he has changed several assistants? Was he easy to work with?” “Interesting. What did they say?” “Same thing, sir. Yes, their boss was demanding; he required perfection from his assistant. But he was the best boss to work for. He was professional... It was all scripted. I asked them circular questions. If Mr. Hyde was the best boss, why didn’t they get retained by SIP? Why didn’t they get recommendations from Jack Hyde? And some of them got very uncomfortable with these two questions. Some don’t even work in publishing anymore even though they majored in literature in college. What they didn’t say, but shown in their body language was the most interesting part, sir,” he says. I am pure attention. “What have you discovered?” I say silently, almost menacingly. “Sir, I got the ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction. Stressed. All five of them have gotten a taut smile when they said their boss was a wonderful man, eyes dilated; the foot on both gas and the brake response sir.” “Explain,” I say. “Well sir, if it was just foot on gas response, they would have only become angry or agitated. That’s the heated, overly emotional, keyed up and unable to sit still kind of response. And then there’s foot on brake response when the responder gets withdrawn. They shut down or space out, or show very little emotion. But when they have both, it’s the worst kind of response. They tense and freeze up. They look paralyzed, but I could see from their gaze that they were extremely agitated. Hands fisted so hard, knuckles got white, face blanched, pupil dilated, breathing increased, closing up by arms crossed.” Then he clears throat. “Sir, they also all had the physical signs of lying. Here is a simple question I asked: ‘What sort boss was Jake Hyde?’ The physical response from each one was identical. Each started answering the question with a difficulty swallowing and the intonation of their voices has changed. A forced smile was plastered on their faces, and their gestures didn’t match the speech.” Then I hear paper shuffling over the phone as if Welch is looking for something. “Ah, yes,” he says, and clears his throat again as if he’s going to declare some important point. “Assistant Number 3, Victoria, had a giant frown on her face while she was telling me what a pleasure it was to work for Jack Hyde. How could it be a pleasure to work for him when her face was looking like

she swallowed a nasty bug, and she was trying to regurgitate it out of her system! Gestures are mechanical sir. The tongue may lie, but it takes a skilled actor to match the verbal response with the gestures. Cleary these girls didn’t have the practice. It was like watching a bad actor!” I was pacing back and forth. “Did you ask them the main question I wanted to know?” I ask in a cold, controlled voice. “Yes sir,” he says solemnly, and the tone confirms my fears. “And?” “Only three of them went on a conference with Hyde, sir.” He said the word ‘conference’ like an expletive. “What happened?” “I’m focusing on Victoria. She’s the first one to go to one of those. ‘How was the conference? What did you and your boss do outside of the conference?’ I asked.” He stops. “What was her response?” I ask impatiently. “She looked distracted, as if she was trying not to pay attention to what I asked in an effort trying to forget a bad memory. She started sweating like a wrestler. It was clear that she was disturbed. The amount of sweat coming out of that tiny girl! Then she started holding her body like she’s protecting it from someone, her eyes looked bewildered. She made no direct eye contact; avoided my scrutiny; her breathing got rapid trying control herself, and the pitch of her tone got higher. Finally she managed to say, ‘what do you mean?’ ” “That doesn’t mean she’s lying.” “Sir, the vocal cords tighten under stress. She wasn’t shy of me. I wasn’t a threat to her. The only time these responses came were when she was giving me false information about her former boss. She started sitting hunched. She was eyeing the door as if she was going to dart any minute. Her face flushed. The final question I asked was, ‘are you being truthful about your former boss?’ The simple answer would be, ‘yes,’ or ‘of course,’ or ‘sure,’ or even just, ‘I am’. You know what they all said, ‘being deceitful is the worst thing you can do.’ Except Victoria... She said ‘lying is a dishonorable action.’ “

“Not everyone answers in one or two words, Welch. How can you conclude that this answer proves beyond the shadow of doubt that she was lying?” “Sir, please give me a little credit. My former training included physical signs of lying. Testing 21-25 year old girls is nothing to me. I’ve interviewed government officials, politicians, spies who are trained in matching their physical responses with their verbal ones. This is a very simple task.” “Welch, I already know the contents of your resume! What I’m asking you is simple. I want to make absolutely sure, beyond the shadow of any doubt that they were in fact lying. Can you provide evidence to that fact? How do you support your claim?” I ask in a demanding voice. “The liar generally answers a question by depersonalizing it, in a flat voice. Most of the girls asked me to repeat the question; and that’s usually to delay her reply. Victoria asked ‘why would you ask such a thing?’ which is also designed to delay her own reply. I didn’t assess her on one answer. Individually it may mean little or nothing of course. But collective demeanor and answers speak volumes of what they are trying to hide, and they’re all hiding something.” “Why would they cover for him?” “My guess would be fear. They have something to lose. Mr. Hyde has something he’s holding over them. I don’t know what that is. But these girls were clearly afraid of him, though their words said otherwise.” “Is that it?” “So far, yes,” he replies. “Okay, let me know if you uncover more,” I say and hang up. I’m pacing back and forth fuming through the nostrils like a provoked bull in a bull fight. Taylor clears his throat. “Sir, we should hit the showers and then head to SIP. I’m sure we can wait for Miss Steele there,” he says almost reading my mind. I’d rather be close to her there, than worrying here. I don’t do worry. I have to fire that fucker without getting on Anastasia’s bad side. I’ve been gathering information about him anyway and sharing it with Roach. There is enough to get him fired. The only thing that’s holding me back is Anastasia’s reaction. We’ll see. I’ll gauge her reaction tonight, and this final bit of information

might tip the scale. I don’t want that fucker anywhere near my woman! He’s a womanizer. I fucking want to beat the shit out of the man! I am writhing in anger. I turn to Taylor, “fine, showers, then we leave,” and he nods solemnly.

***** Taylor pulls the SUV in front of the SIP. It’s in the downtown business district. One of the renovated buildings now looks brand new. Of course glass windows give an air of modernity. The U shaped entry has a large walkway with carefully boxed in landscape on both sides of the walkway, and under a long portico which is a remnant from the original building. This leads to the large glass entry which of course automatic sliding doors. When Anastasia told me she got the job here, I had Taylor scout the security here. My concern is not just the people or the fucker of a boss she works for, but also people from outside. You don’t get to be Christian Grey, and not make a few enemies on the way. I was concerned at the pitiful security in the building. There weren’t enough cameras to cover the crucial entry points, and it was quite easy for someone to walk into the building even if they had no business in there. It is something I’m going to rectify as soon as the gag order is lifted. There is an Italian deli nearby, a juice place, a souvenir shop for the tourists, and a couple of clothing stores. Of course the monorail stop is also nearby here walking distance. We’re waiting directly in front of the building facing the double entry door walkway. I check my watch. It’s now 6:30 and she’s not out yet. Shall I go in and get her? I’ll give her five minutes before I go in. Ever since Anastasia has been back in my life, I find myself constantly worried about what she would say or

think. I’m like a cat on a hot tin roof! I start counting down the time: Four minutes thirty-nine seconds... My eyes are glued to the door. Three minutes eleven seconds... No movement. I shift in my seat, and Taylor’s gaze briefly meets mine in the rearview mirror. Two minutes eight seconds, my hand is at the door. Fifty-four seconds, and the sliding doors open, and Anastasia hightails out of the building as if hellhounds are chasing her! What the hell happened? As she reaches the middle of the walkway she runs out of steam, her head lulling back as if she can’t get enough air into her body, and sinks to the concrete floor! It’s like a nightmare! My heart first stops as I remember her in her apartment when Leila was holding a gun to her, and then it starts beating a hundred miles an hour adrenaline rushing, and I spring the door open as both Taylor and I jump out of the SUV at top speed towards her! As I reach her I get on the ground to gather her in my arms, my hands and eyes are checking for some sign of hurt, blood... Oh God! What or who hurt her? Is she just overwhelmed with all the stuff from the previous day? Did she just realize that she can’t take it? Is she ill? Or did something actually happen? “Ana, baby, what’s the matter?” I ask her fervently trying to find what is wrong with her physically. She won’t answer me! “What’s wrong Ana?” I ask in a begging tone. She’s in my lap; I hold her face to look up at me, searching. Talk to me baby! I’m dying here! Is she hurt, injured? She sags in my arms and about to pass out on me! I’m completely alarmed, and stupefied. What’s wrong with her? Don’t pass out on me, baby!

I hold her shoulders hand shake her in my arms before she gets to check out of her body. Do I need to take her to a hospital? “Baby, what’s wrong? Talk to me? Are you sick?” Her eyes are rolling back into her head as if she’s going to get nauseous. With one arm holding her back, I use my other hand to hold her head back trying to get her to look at me. “Ana, talk to me baby. What is the matter with you?” She tries to gather her focus on my face, blinks a few times as if she’s forcing herself to remain coherent. My heart is pounding in my ears, fear gripping me. I don’t know what’s wrong with my girlfriend! A million

horrible fears are running through my head, none of which is pleasant. She opens her mouth, and the word “Jack,” is whispered through her lips. My body tenses as my earlier anger amplifies and jolts me as it turns into a murderous rage. I feel that Taylor is also feeling the same. My head snaps up to look at him; when he sees the fiery hot rage in my eyes, he knows, and like a ghost he disappears into the SIP building. My body is vibrating with pernicious, ruthless violence. What did the fucker do to Ana? Did he rape her? Did he fuck her? Did he touch her? If he harmed her in any way, I will fucking kill the bastard! As I hold her tighter in my arms I find myself rocking her to soothe her. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Ana, tell me, what did that fucker do to you?” I am going out of my mind! The thought of that fucker inside Ana forcefully makes the bile rise in my throat, and I am barely containing myself. I have to find out! Anastasia’s reaction is one of nervous breakdown. She starts giggling. “It’s what I did to him,” she says between nervous giggles. “Ana! Did Jack Hyde touch you?” I say in a clear and menacing tone. “Once,” she manages to whisper, “just once.” A madness sweeps through me. Million megawatts of electricity is too tame to describe how I’m feeling right now! My entire body tenses. The knowledge that fucking bastard touched my woman is like someone shoved a glistening ember down my throat while washing it down with nitric acid! My insides are twisted, and the wild animal I have carefully caged in my head is lose! Heads will roll for this! I will make him fuck himself with his own dick if he ever attempted to shove it into my woman! “Where is that fucking bastard, Ana?” I ask menacingly. I hear shouting, and I can distinguish Taylor’s voice in there. “You will never touch Miss Steele again!” I’m going to beat the shit out of him. Now that I know Ana is physically alright, I’m going to get my due from that son of a bitch! “Ana, will you be able to stand?” I ask as I rise in one swift motion and stand her up on her feet. She nods her head in the affirmative. “Fine,” I say turning to go into the SIP building. “Don’t go Christian! Please, don’t,” she pleads with me scared.

“Anastasia, get in the car now,” I snap at her menacingly. She holds onto my arm like a tick on a dog’s ear. . . “Don’t go, Christian, no!” I yank my arm out of her hold, and stab my finger in the direction of the car and yell at her. “I said get in the God damn car, Anastasia!” Will you fucking listen to me for once! “Christian please, don’t go! You can’t leave me here on my own!” she begs. Anger is vibrating through my entire body. I’m barely containing myself. I told her not to go to work this morning. I asked her, no, I practically begged her to stay. But, no, she had to go. I told her I’d take care of her. No, she had to go and make a living! I asked her to marry me, so I can take care of her and protect her, and love her. But, no, she is going to think. Now, she doesn’t want me to go inside! I’m one fucking time bomb ready to explode! She’ll be the death of me! I’ll die of a heart attack before I turn 40 because I’m always worried about her, and she is constantly disobedient, doing whatever the hell she wants! Exasperation courses through me, and I run both my hands through my hair trying to get a grip, get some sort of control over my own body’s reaction. There are screams, and yelling and loud fighting noises coming from the building, and the noise abruptly stops. I worry about Taylor, and take my Blackberry out. “Christian, Jack Hyde got a hold of my e-mails,” she blurts out. “What did you say?” I say with amplified menace. “He intercepted the e-mail I sent you, and he cornered me and asked me where your messages to me were. He was using the e-mails to blackmail me.” I’m not going to kill that mother fucker! No... I’m going to beat the crap out of him and leave him alive an inch of his life! Death is too good for him... Too swift. Too painless. I’m going to destroy him so he remembers every fucking day of his life what he tried to take away from me, and who he tried to fuck with! And, Anastasia! I am so fucking angry at you right now! I’ve told you and told you and told you to not to use your work e-mail. And she fucking didn’t listen to me! For God’s sake! You’re taking all control away from my frigging life! “Mother fucker!” I curse under my breath in a menacing ferocious tone. Get a grip...get a grip...get a grip. When the shaking subsides only a fraction, I press speed dial #3 for Barney.

“Grey here. Barney, you need to immediately access SIP main server, and then access the mail server and delete all of Anastasia Steele’s e-mail messages sent to me; if you find anything incoming from me to her that has been stored in the server, wipe those clean as well. I want you to also access Jack Hyde’s PC and any data he might be storing within the server. Should you find any emails stored in his personal account or anything he has access in, find them delete them, wipe them clean.” “All of them sir?” “Every single message. Do it immediately! And Barney, inform me the second you complete your task!” “I’m on it sir!” he says and I hang up, immediately after I dial Roach on his personal cell phone. “Roach here,” he answers in a professional tone laced with a little apprehension. “This is Grey. I want you to kick Jack Hyde’s ass to the curb right this instant.” “What? W..wh..When?” he says stumbling on his words. “Now, damn it! I want you to call the fucking security right now, and have the fucking bastard clean his desk this moment.” “But, Mr. Grey. You’re saying right now? What’s the cause?” Anger vibrates through my entire body, and focuses on my tongue, and I lash out. “You have the necessary justification to kick his ass to the curb with a parting gift of a pink slip. I want you to immediately inform him of his untimely departure, or I will fucking liquidate this company by eight a.m. tomorrow morning! You have been provided the adequate justification for his termination! I trust you will do what you are asked to do!” I emphasize clearly what will happen if he doesn’t. “Mr. Grey, of course I understand the gravity of your concern. I will call the security immediately, and have them escort Mr. Hyde out of the building with the knowledge that his services are no longer required at SIP for his unprofessional conduct.” “Fine.” I say and hang up. Anastasia is bewildered where she is standing, scared to her core, and shaking. She would fucking get the spanking of her life had I not made promise to myself that I would not use spanking as a punishment, and that I was scared to death with worry for her!

“Use the Blackberry!” I hiss at her anger seething through every single pore in my body. “Christian, please don’t be angry with me,” she says in a pleading voice, but anger doesn’t even begin to cover what I’m currently feeling. Lethal rage only comes close. “I’m beyond angry at you, I’m a raging maniac. I need you to get in the car right now,” I growl at her pointing the SUV. “Please...” she begs, holding out her hand. “Damn it Anastasia! I need your ass in the fucking car, or I will put you there myself and you aren’t going to like it!” I snarl with my eyes shooting daggers at her. She holds her shaky hands up at me, worried look covering her entire face. She’s scared and not getting close to me. “Please Christian! I don’t want you to do anything stupid,” she begs. Anger erupts from me like Mount Vesuvius. Her words are like insult to my injury! Pour salt on my open wound already, why don’t you? “YOU WANT TO HEAR ABOUT STUPID?” I bellow with all my fury directed at her. “You’ve been told to use your fucking Blackberry numerous times. But you wouldn’t. And you dare to speak to me about stupid? I want you to get your ass in that motherfucking car right this instant Anastasia!” She stands frozen. “DO IT NOW!” I scream. She jumps with fear. “Okay, I’ll go. But please be careful, Christian. Please,” she begs. My eyes are focused on her, my mouth in a taut line; my eyes are both fiery and glacial. I am so angry; I don’t even want to string two words together in order to prevent saying something I will regret. I only point to the SUV sharply so she just goes in! She looks at me with pleading eyes. “Christian, I need you to be careful please. Please...” she looks at me worried. “If anything were to happen to you, I’d die. I can’t live without you,” she says knocking the breath out of me. Wasn’t that my worry? That something would happen to her, and I’d lose her... When I see my own worry, my personal demons reflected in her eyes, I find my heart slowing down, and my rage is subsiding, turning into love in the eye of the storm briefly. “I’ll be careful,” I say as I take a deep breath, and Anastasia’s mind finally registers my calmer demeanor and she opens the front passenger door, and with another worried look, enters into the SUV.

I give her a warning glance reminding her to remain in the vehicle, I run into the SIP building. I manage to cap my rage. It’s just beneath the surface ready to disperse its wrath. I dial Taylor’s phone. He answers on the first ring. “Sir, come down the hallway to the left. You’ll find a large area. Enter into the meeting room number 2,” he says knowing exactly why I called him. “See you there,” I say hanging up. Taylor meets me in front of the door. He opens the door just a crack. I see that Hyde is sitting on a chair with his hands cuffed. My gaze meets Taylor’s and he closes the door. “Security is coming; I need the keys to the handcuffs. Keep them occupied for five minutes,” I say extending my hand in a no-nonsense way to receive the keys.

Taylor scrutinizes my face trying to make sure that I won’t kill the fucker. He misses nothing. He sees anger seething through my skin. My eyes are both glacial with controlled vengeance and anger like Mount Etna and Vesuvius all bundled in one ready to kill. He slowly shifts his body to block the door. Taylor had worked for me for about four years. He’s seen me lustful. He’s seen me fucking the daylights out of one of my subs suspended from the ceiling in my playroom. He’s seen me flogging the shit out of another. He’s seen me spanking Leila with a paddle. He’s seen me in control of a whole board room of

powerful businessmen. He’s seen me angry; raging mad; but always in control. He’s seen me in compromising positions. He’s seen me in these places in more times than I can count. But a lot of the firsts I care for; being in love with Anastasia, missing her to the point of distraction, almost going out of my mind when she went to Georgia, being in despair and in grief when she left me all these were my firsts with Anastasia, but all things that weakened me. Taylor has seen me in most every mood; but he’s never seen me in a murderous rage. The barely controlled ferocity and violence... Taylor’s hand automatically goes to the door handle and he stands in front of it, determined not to let me in. “Is Miss Steele alright, sir?” he asks trying to distract me. “She’s fine. Move over Taylor,” I say with a baleful threat in my voice, all the intensity of my gaze focused on him. Taylor doesn’t faze. He’s very determined to prevent me from committing a murder tonight. “I beat the crap out of him already,” he says, and for the first time I notice Taylor’s disheveled appearance. He has a cut above his eye, a swollen lip, and a bruised cheek. When he sees me eyeing him, “the fucker is worse off, sir,” he says smiling. My hand still goes up to forcefully remove Taylor from the door. “Sir...” he says shyly. “I..uhm..” “Spit it out man!” “Well, I understand your rage perfectly, sir. I don’t know how to say this... but...” he say muttering something under his breath about some shitty educated talk, then looks me in the eyes and says, “That piece of shit ain’t worth it, sir,” he say indicating the door with his head while his hand firmly gripping the handle. He eyes me for a minute as I try to get a handle of my rage. “I was gonna tell you that some Indian guru guy have written someplace, that hell has three gates: lust, anger and greed,” he says trying to calm me down. “I thought you’d like to know,” he says jabbing his thumb back towards outside. “I think it’d be hell for her, too, sir,” he says shrugging, halting me in my tracks for a brief second. “Well Taylor, in that case, I’d be conquering hell by all three gates! I still want to shove his dick into his own ass for trying to assault my girlfriend,” I hiss through my gritted teeth, seething poison. Taylor’s eyes go wide, and his stance got firmer. I sigh.

“Look, Taylor, I appreciate your concern, but if I were to kill him, I wouldn’t have called the security. They’ll be here shortly to escort him out. But I want my time with him. Wouldn’t you do the same for Gail?” I ask him, and he immediately shifts in his place. “I will destroy him in a way that he won’t screw any other woman’s life again! But I won’t put him under the ground,” I say with all my self-control trying to rein in my anger. He nods solemnly, and smiles. “Apparently Miss Steele kicked him in the family jewels, sir,” he says proudly. I then realize that he is actually like Anastasia said; avuncular. “He was cussing up a storm holding his nut sack,” he says in an impassive tone, though his eyes are alight with some sort of joy. “Anyway, he’s all yours, sir. Take 10, I’ll keep the security busy. The fucker has been bitching, and moaning about you anyway,” he says and opens the door wide while dangling the key to the handcuffs. I grab the keys as I enter into the room.

After entering into the meeting room, close the door, and lock it behind me. Jack Hyde holds his red head up, half his red hair out of his hair tie, his earring half askew, looks up at me defiantly. A creepy smile comes up to his bloodied mouth. I don my impassive face, and cover my Mount Vesuvius with glaciers and walk behind him to undo his handcuffs. “Your girlfriend is a gold digging, prick teasing cunt. If you didn’t have more money than I, she’d be fucking me now! Instead I’m the one who’s holding balls she kicked!” He says the second I unlock his cuffs while he’s rubbing his wrists. I grab his ponytail, pull his head back, and slam it to the wood table. You can hear the breaking of his nose, as blood gushes out of it! My eyes are so dilated I feel my capillaries breaking in my eyes; for a minute I feel I won’t be able to control my rage. My nostrils are widened, and my breathing increased, every inch of my body is standing attention, ready to fight. “Let alone mentioning my girlfriend’s name, if you even fucking think about her, I will skin you alive!” I say with a deadly hiss. “You broke my fucking nose!” he screams then getting a hold of himself wipes the blood off his nose with the sleeve of his shirt, leans down in an attempt to pinch his nose, grunting, when he raises his head back up, he swiftly stands up, swinging a right hook and his punch connects with my torso, shaking me to my core. He moves and lands me a left hook in the ribs, and attempt to blow me another right, forcing me to take a step back to prevent falling as I sway in my stance. I realize that he has a carabineer around his knuckles and his keys are attached to it. Though his punches are unexpected, they give me another rush of adrenaline. I smile. I love a good fight!

“Finally you pick someone your own size! How many young women did you corner? Hmmm?” I taunt him. I hear noises outside. Strong knocks on the door. I have couple of minutes to get my due. Hyde makes his fist again, but this time the element of surprise is gone. He swing a right quickly followed by a left hook. I duck my head as he swings his left which I catch with my right grasping it tight; I hold his fist squeezing it with an iron grip, I pull and hold his arm upright. Finally, I deliver two punches to his ribs in quick succession with my left hook knocking the breath out of his lungs, and then punch him once on the side of his left cheek feeling the crunch of his cheek bone under my fist. He quickly doubles over at which time I capture him on the shoulders grasping with both my hands and knee him in the groin, and lift him up I hold his face with both hands and head-butt him. When he finally slumps, I knock him down with the back of my right elbow. That’s when the security breaks in the door.

I lean in and whisper in Hyde’s ear in a cold, slow, murderous tone. “If you managed to do anything to her, I would have killed you. Thank your lucky stars, fucker!” Two young security officers walk in gaping with the sight before them. Jack Hyde on the floor, and I beside him. “He’s all yours,” I say finally able to glaze over my fury with ice.

I hoist him to his feet with one hand, and stand him up as the surprised security guards stare at us with wide eyes. “Here... He seems to be bleeding on himself,” I say and shove Jack Hyde to the hands of the security guards to administer him some quick first aid. Then one of the security guards produces a phone to Hyde’s hand. As he listens to Roach’s voice on the phone, he realizes that he’s being handed his bag, and his fucking ass. He blanches and looks like he’s going to get very sick, very fast. The guards patch him up quickly and finally hand him his cardboard box of belongings. Both the officers manage to be all professional, and they act like they witnessed nothing which of course they didn’t. “What did you say to them?” I ask Taylor in a quiet voice pointing to the security guards with the flick of my eyes. “Asked them to give you a few minutes,” he murmurs in a barely audible tone. “And they just let me have the few minutes?” I ask him with raised eyebrows interrogating him. Taylor shrugs. “They both have girlfriends...and sisters. What can I say? Guess neither of them like a sleazebag who moves in on their own territory, sir,” he says with an impassive face. Jack Hyde is escorted to the doors by one of the security guards while the other one holds the fort back in the building, and clean up the mess. I see Taylor shaking hands with the security while inconspicuously passing a few large bills to his hand. We march out of the building in a single line as Jack Hyde is leading the line stumbling his way to the waiting cab outside, and the security guard making sure he’s not coming back, then I come out and Taylor holding the rear end of the line. Taylor catches up with me as I reach the SUV, and I hold my hand out for the keys. Noting Anastasia in the front passenger seat, Taylor hands me the key to the SUV, and he takes his seat in the back. I’m still angry, still fuming, and not even having beaten the crap out of Hyde makes me feel better. I say nothing to Anastasia. She’s just staring at me, but doesn’t utter a word. My Blackberry having connected to the Bluetooth in the vehicle starts ringing through the car’s speaker system. I take a note of the caller. “Grey’s here,” I answer. “This is Barney, sir,” he answers.

“Barney, I’m in my car with other passengers and you’re on the speaker,” I say in forewarning. “Yes, sir. About the task you’ve given me, it’s been completed. I must also speak to you about the contents of Hyde’s computer.” “I’ll call you as soon as I arrive at my destination. Thank you Barney,” I say. “Sure thing, sir,” he says hanging up. Anastasia’s gaze is burning into me, asking me to say something. I’m too angry to say anything. She’s been very disobedient, and because of that, I nearly killed that fucker. What if he hurt her? What if he raped her? The thought angers me more. “Are you not talking to me?” she asks in a whisper. “No,” I answer her still brooding, not looking at her. The rest of the drive to Escala continues in silent contemplation. I barely managed to contain my anger to Jack Hyde. I could have killed him! I would have killed him, but death is just too good for him. I pull in front of Escala, and get out of the car. I quickly walk to the passenger side, and open Anastasia’s door. I hold my hand out and order her to come out. She takes my hand, and I pull her behind me quickly. Taylor takes the SUV to the underground parking garage. I say nothing as we get to the elevators; her hand is still firmly in my grasp. “Christian, I don’t understand why you’re so mad at me,” she breathes in a scared whisper. “You know perfectly well why,” I say, and yank her into the elevator. After entering the code to my penthouse, the elevator starts moving up to the top floor. “I swear to God, I would have killed the fucker if anything had happened to you,” I say in a barely contained murderous tone that has been in me for the last few hours. “But, I’ll do worse than killing him. I will ruin him; ruin his career so that he will never get a chance to take advantage of any other young woman! He’s a miserable excuse for a man!” Fear, anger and rage runs through me. The ‘what ifs’ are making me sick to my stomach. What if he hurt her? What if he raped her? What if he damaged her? I’m fucked up already! I would have killed him with my bare hands! Fear of loss grips me, and I encase Anastasia to the corner of the elevator in my embrace. “God, Ana! I could have lost you!”

I want to feel her. I want to hold her in my embrace, and chase away these demons, chase away the fears that she could have been hurt. It’s getting to me that in the past two days, two attempts have been made to hurt her. I’m scared that a third one might be successful. The fear grips me, and I am helpless. I grab Anastasia’s hair and roll it around my hand yanking her face up. My mouth covers hers ferociously, kissing her desperately, passionately, possessively. I want to feel her, I want to know that we’re both alive, we’re both together, and that she’s still mine, she’s still safe, and that I can protect her. My tongue dips into hers, and her momentary shock freezes her in place. But soon she is responding, and soon I’m relieved, and kiss her until we both are breathless. I’m holding her possessively, within my embrace, and my weight is pushing into her. I hold her face tenderly in my hands and look into her eyes long and hard as hers are searching mine. My fear is etched all over my eyes; I can barely contain myself. I’m relieved and thankful that she is safe. I swallow hard, try to push away my fears, and try to take control of my personal demons tormenting me; whispering into my mind what might have happened to her. “Anastasia,” I whisper, my lips grazing her eyes, her cheeks, her lips. “Oh Ana, I was so worried. What if something happened to you? What if he hurt you...” I can’t bring the rest of the thought. The gripping fear shakes me physically to my core, and the shudder that goes through me jolts us both. “Like I said many times before, use your Blackberry from now on. Got it?” I ask. She can only nod in answer, unable to blink, our gazes remain locked. When the elevator comes to a stop, the doors ding open. I pull back and hold her hand. “Hyde said that you kicked him in the balls,” I say probing. She shrugs. “Yes. Ray is ex-army. He believed in teaching his daughter self-defense,” she says simply as if it was no big deal. I feel a twinge of smile come to my lips. “Good. You don’t know how glad I am for that. Guess that’s something I have to remember,” I say in a lighter tone, pleased that she managed to defend herself. She manages to give me a small smile. “Ana, why don’t you wait for me? I need to call Barney; I shouldn’t be too long,” I say leaving her in the great room, and quickly make my way into my office. I’m extremely curious to see what Barney has discovered. I close the door to my office, and dial Barney as I make my way to my chair.

“Barney here,” he answers the phone. “Grey. What have you found?” “I will send this information to you of course, but here’s a very interesting list: My Hyde has in his computer all of the addresses your family ever resided. Let’s see,” he says, as I hear his mouse clicking through his computer. “Oh, yes, I see five property addresses in the Seattle, and two, I don’t know if they’re former or current, but there are two properties listed from Detroit, Michigan. He also has resumes for every member of your family. The names here are, Carrick Grey, Elliot Grey, you sir, then Dr. Grace Trevelyan-Grey, Mia Grey, and Miss Anastasia Steele.” I tense in my seat, and I realize that I’m squeezing my Blackberry as my other hand is tightly gripping my desk. “Is that all?” I ask in a low hissing tone. “No sir. There are number of newspaper and online publications pertaining to you, Dr. Trevelyan, Mr. Carrick Grey, and Mr. Elliot Grey.” “Anything else?” “Yes sir, there’s more. He has a large collection of pictures of all of you. Hundreds of them. Your father, your mother, and your brother, your sister, and you sir. That’s all have sir,” he says. “Email me the info, and CC it to Welch. Thanks Barney,” I say hanging up. What was that fucking bastard trying to do? He clearly has something against me. This can’t all be about Anastasia. Why does he have all that info about my entire family? I dial Welch’s number. “Welch,” he answers. “Grey.” “Yes, sir.” “I want you to dig deeper on Jack Hyde. Barney is e-mailing me the information he’s discovered in Hyde’s computer, and I don’t like the content on it. He’s been digging up a lot of info on me, and my

entire family. Go through the contents Barney is sending you, and I want you to find out everything about him! I want to know who his kindergarten teacher is, I want to know what he eats for breakfast, who he sleeps with... I want to see his SAT scores. I want to know what kind of shampoo he uses, and the type of drink he prefers. I want to know his mother’s high school boyfriend! I want to know who his daddy first fucked! I want you to leave no stone unturned about this fucker! By the time you get through his information, I want to be personally acquainted with him! If you have to interview people, you must be the one to do it. Do it discreetly! Got it?” “Perfectly clear, sir. Anything else?” “Report to me as soon as you get some information,” “Will do sir,” he says, and I hang up. I pocket my Blackberry and sag back in my chair. I hold my face with both hands and finally run my hands through my hair, blowing out exasperation, and the rest of the evening’s anger and frustration. I slowly rise from my chair, and finally anxious to get out and be with Anastasia. When I make my way back to the great room area, I locate Anastasia sitting at the breakfast bar as Mrs. Jones is fixing something for her to eat as Anastasia is drinking white wine. As I walk into the kitchen and make my way to the refrigerator to get a drink of wine myself, I greet Mrs. Jones. “Good evening sir. Your dinner will be ready in ten minutes.” “That sounds great, Gail,” I reply with a small smile. After pouring myself a glass of white wine, I raise a toast to Ray and fathers like Ray who teaches their daughters how to defend themselves. “Cheers,” Anastasia whispers in a tired tone. Her voice catches me by surprise. I know she’s had a hard trying evening, but is there more that she let me know? My personal demons stand to attention immediately. “What’s the matter?” I ask quickly. “I’m not sure if I still have a job,” she says worried. Is that all? I give a sigh of relief. “Do you still want a job?” I ask her cocking my head.

“Yes, of course,” she replies fervently, chiding. I shrug, saying, “in that case, you still have one,” and smile. She looks at me gaping. I shrug. Gail sets two placemats for our dinner, and Anastasia starts with her Spanish Inquisition as we get our steaming chicken pot pies placed before us. “So,” she says nonchalantly. “What exactly did Barney find in Jack’s computer?” “Nothing of interest to you, Ana,” I say impassively. “I see. If what he found wasn’t important, why didn’t he say it over the phone?” “He didn’t know who was with me. Eat, baby, you must be starving,” I say, and she narrows her eyes on me. “I gather, you aren’t gonna tell me...” she says letting her thought hang in the air. “Nope,” I respond. She sighs. “After all that happened today, I forgot to tell you that Jose called,” she says impassively this time. My fork stops in midair as I turn my face to look at her. “Oh?” I say in a questioning tone. “He said he wants to deliver the pictures you’ve purchased.” Another fucker who has eyes on my woman! I’m sure he’s delivering by hand all because of the goodness of his Spanish heart! “Wow! A hand delivery. How thoughtful of him,” I mutter in a cursing tone under my breath. Anastasia pretends she didn’t hear me. “He also asked me if I would to go out for a drink.” Where is she going with this? Is she asking my permission, or my opinion? “Really...” “Kate and Elliot should also be back in town,” she says quickly. I put my fork on my plate and turn and gaze at her intently. “Anastasia, what are you trying to ask me?” I inquire raising my eyebrows.

“Not asking anything. I’m letting you know what I’m planning to do on Friday. I want to see Jose, and he needs a place to stay. He can either stay here with us, or at my place in which case I like to be there,” she says in one breath as if she’s being chased or that she won’t be able to say it all if she doesn’t say it fast. I’m shocked! After all that fucker has done, and nearly raped her, she still wants to see him? And not just see him, but to let him stay with her? “Anastasia, he made a pass at you!” “That was several weeks ago Christian. But then we were both drunk. You saved me, and he will never do that again. Jose is not Jack for God’s sake!” “Then, leave him at your place. I’m sure Ethan can keep him company,” I say sulkily. Didn’t she almost get raped this evening, and here’s another man who tried to force himself on her, and my girlfriend wants to spend time with that fucker! Why is she making it so difficult for me to protect her? “Christian, Jose wants to see me, not Ethan Kavanagh.” Grant me patience! I look at her grimacing. She takes a pleading expression. “Christian, Jose is just a friend, that’s all.” “And, I’m supposed to like that?” She knits her eyebrows together and scowls at me. “Look, I’m telling you that he’s my friend. A friend I haven’t seen since his photography show; and that was too short. I know you don’t have any friends other than that god-awful woman, but I don’t gripe every time you see her.” When did the topic turn into Elena? I blink, astonished. Ana doesn’t want me to see Elena? “Christian, I want to see Jose, and you know I haven’t been a very good friend to him.” But I’m still stuck with the initial topic. “Is that what you feel?” “Huh? About what?” she asks confused. “About Elena, of course. Would you rather I didn’t see her?” I ask. I know she hates her, and gets jealous that we have a past, but, I never thought she wouldn’t want me to see her ever again. She sighs, and stops for a minute, gauging my reaction with her baby blues.

“Absolutely!” she says fervently. “I’d rather you didn’t see Elena.” “Why didn't you say so?” I ask accusingly. I make my feelings clear to her; I thought she could do the same. “Why? Christian, it’s not for me to say whether you should be friends with her. You think Elena is the only friend you’ve got,” she breathes aggravated. “By the same token, it’s not your place to say if I can see my friend Jose. Can’t you see that?” My mind quickly calculates what concessions I can make. God knows that I don’t care to see the photographer. So, letting Anastasia stay in her apartment with two men who are both salivating after her is not an option. On the other hand, if he stays here, he can see that she’s my woman, and I can keep an eye on him. As much as I dislike him, this is the best option. “Fine, he can stay here. That way I get to keep an eye on him,” I mutter with distaste. “Thank you Christian. If I’ll be living here as well...” she says leaving her thoughts hanging in the air. “You know you have plenty of space,” she says gesturing with the swipe of her hand, smirking. And I think we’ve passed the worst part of the day. “Oh Miss Steele, are you by any chance smirking at me?” “Certainly Mr. Grey,” she replies as she picks her plate up to clear it. I tell her that Mrs. Jones would do that, but she ignores and cleans it up. Is she just trying to occupy herself with busy work so she gets through the stress of today? “Ana, I need to go and work for a little while baby,” I say searching her face if that’s okay with her. “That’s fine. I’m sure I can find something to do,” she replies. “Come here, baby,” I order in a soft and seductive tone, my waiting arms are open. She quickly makes her way into my embrace, her arms wrapping around my neck. I take a sharp intake of breath, and tighten my hold around her body; I close my eyes savoring her. I inhale her scent. “Are you alright baby?” I whisper. “What do you mean?” she asks.

“Anastasia, don’t you remember what happened with that fucker? And yesterday’s shit? I want to know that you’re okay,” I say worried. I pull back and check her expression. She thinks for a minute considering my question. “Yes,” she whispers back. I close my eyes in relief, and thankful for her resilience, and hold her tight in my embrace once again, kissing her hair repeatedly. “Let’s not fight, please,” I say pleading between my kisses. I take a deep inhale of her scent. “Ana, you smell heavenly,” I whisper. She reaches up to kisses my neck within my embrace, and whispers, “as do you.” I finally release her from my clutch, and tell her I’d be back in a couple of hours. She nods, smiling. I go to my office, and close the door behind me. I check my e-mail immediately and there’s the ominous message from Barney. _____________________________________________ From: Barney Sullivan Subject: Jack Hyde Date: June 15, 2011 21:37 To: Christian Grey

Mr. Grey,

I’ve compiled a list of items I found on Jack Hyde’s SIP computer. They are as follows and the actual contents are on GEH FTP servers as the original contents are too large. Please use link I’m providing you with to access and download the contents relating to you and yours. Grey Family Home Addresses:

Five properties in Seattle, WA area (various addresses your family have had, your brother, and you sir) Two property addresses in Detroit, MI Detailed Resumes for: Mr. Christian Grey Mr. Carrick Grey Mr. Elliot Grey

Dr. Grace Trevelyan-Grey Miss Mia Grey Miss Anastasia Steele Newspaper articles and Online publications relating to: Mr. Christian Grey Mr. Carrick Grey Mr. Elliot Grey Dr. Grace Trevelyan-Grey Pictures: Christian Grey (file 1) Miss Mia Grey (file 2) Dr. Grace Trevelyan-Grey (file 3) Mr. Carrick Grey (file 4) Mr. Elliot Grey (file 5) Please use the following FTP link to access the said files. You can use your personal login information to download, sir:

https://geh.com/ftpclient/account/login.htm

I will of course check to see if there are any other hidden files in the computer, or any place on the SIP server. I will inform you of anything I find.

Barney Sullivan Head of IT, GEH _____________________________________________ I login to the server, and download the information Jack Hyde collected on me and my family which span an extensive number of years.

I examine the information. It looks like he’s on a fact finding mission. What is he gathering this information for? Why on all of my family? For the next hour, I go through everything in the files. The man is obsessed with my life. I have the feeling that this is entirely about me. He’s gathering information on MY family, MY properties, MY girlfriend... My girlfriend! He attacked her today, and he could have seriously hurt her had it not been for Ray’s training! I leave my laptop immediately with a desire to find

Anastasia, and hold her in my arms once again. When I go to the great room, she isn’t there. I make my way to my bedroom, but there is no sign of her either. Panic rises in me. I go up to what used to be her room, and she isn’t there either. This time in running steps I make my way into the library, and it’s dark, and empty. Where else could she be?

I turn around and gaze up and down the hallway, and notice the seeping light from the playroom. I don’t remember leaving the door unlocked.

I slowly make my way to the door. There is Anastasia curiously looking into the drawers where I keep some of the sex toys. What is she doing here? She picks up a butt plug from the drawer, and cocks her head and looks at it like it’s an item from Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum. Then she picks up another butt plug, and examines it, completely puzzled of its function. I feel a smile creep up on my lips. Her innocence is completely adorable. She looks up feeling my intense gaze on her, and sees me standing in the doorway. “Hi,” she says shyly, looking at my heated gaze. “What are you doing here?” I ask softly. Her presence here both arouses and scares me. Memory of her here, leaving me is still fresh, and I don’t know if I want her in this room. But then, we have had some extremely pleasurable hours spent actively fucking and making love here. My feelings are confused and tumbled about the playroom. Oh, yes, I was here earlier, wondering what I should do with it. I’m not all too sure if she wants me to keep this room, but yet here she is completely surprising me once again. She flushes in embarrassment of being caught doing something she shouldn’t be doing. “Uhm, I was a bit bored, and just got curious,” she says shrugging as if this would explain. “So, here I am,” she says giving me an apologetic smile. I walk into the room, and run my index finger over my lips trying to hide a smile. “Curious and bored, you say. That’s a very dangerous combination, Miss Steele,” I say in a husky voice, my gaze lusty. She swallows hard, knowing what is behind my gaze.

“Maybe I can help. What exactly are you curious about?”

“Oh... Well... You know the door,” she says nervously pointing at the door, “it was open, and I just...walked in,” she blabbers anxious.

As I finally reach up to her, I rest my arms and my chin atop the chest of drawers containing various toys.

“I suppose I forgot to lock the door when I was here earlier in the day contemplating what to do with all of this,” I say a little upset with myself forgetting to lock the door.

“Oh?” she asks with surprise.

Now, I’m curious. She’s here, in this room. Clearly there’s something she likes about it. But, what? “And here you are Miss Steele, full of curiosity.” Anastasia looks at me surprise.

“So, you aren’t mad at me Christian?” she whispers almost scared.

“Why should I be mad, Ana?”

“I don’t know. Maybe because I’m trespassing. Who knows, Christian? You’re always mad at me for one reason, or another,” she says, shrugging as if I’m the mystery, the curiosity. That assessment surprises me. I don’t always get mad at her, do I? No. Only when she puts herself in unnecessary danger.

“You’re of course trespassing, but I’m not mad at you for it. I’m hoping that someday you will agree to ...” this time I get nervous. “Well, you’ll live with me, and everything in here, will also be yours,” I say with intensity.

“I was trying to decide what to do with them today. But I’m not angry with you all the time. You know I wasn’t this morning,” I say mischievously. She smiles.

“You were the playful Christian. I like him,” she says.

“Do you now Miss Steele?” I say arching my brow with a pleased smile.

Finally remembering she has a toy in her hand, she holds it up curiously and asks to know what it is.

“Curious as ever, Miss Steele? That’s a butt plug which I purchased for you,” I say.

“For me?” she asks in a squeaking voice. I nod, but now I’m wary of her reaction as she frowns.

“Do you buy new toys for each...uhm... submissive?” she asks nervously.

“Some toys, yes.”

“Does that include the butt plugs?”

“It does.”

She swallows, uncomfortable. She pulls another toy out with gradually diminishing spheres asking what that is.

“They’re called anal beads,” I reply. She just drops it into the drawer as if she touched fire with a horrified look on her face. She shakes her head as if to clear a distasteful image out of her mind.

“They have such an intense effect if you pull them out mid orgasm,” I say shrugging. They’re just toys.

“So you bought the contents of this... uhm... this butt drawer for me?” she asks making me smirk.

“Yes, I did.”

She just slams it shut shocked. “Don’t you like the contents of the butt drawer, baby?” I ask nonchalantly.

She clears her throat. “Well, it wouldn’t top my Christmas list,” she says innocently making me grin ear to ear.

She touches the next drawer but afraid to find what’s in it. I tell her that the next drawer contains the vibrators. She point to the other one, taking one of the items out.

“Those are a little more interesting. They’re genital clamps,” I say and her expression is worth a thousand words. She drops it in the drawer immediately.

“These are both for pain and pleasure, but most are for pleasure,” I explain in a soft voice.

She takes up another item, and asks me to identify it.

“Nipple clamps, both for pain and pleasure,” I explain. She’s curious about it, and I demonstrate it on her pinkie.

“You will feel the sensation very intensely, but it’s when taking them off that they’re at their peak of pain and pleasure.”

“I like these,” she murmurs shyly.

“Do you now Miss Steele? I can tell,” I say smugly. She nods and absently bites her lip. My gaze darkens and my desire for her is already at its peak in this room. I reach up and tug her chin releasing her lip from the captivity of her teeth.

“You know what that does to me,” I say darkly.

As she puts the clips back in the drawer, I show her another pair. “You can adjust these ones,” I show it to her. “Adjust them, how?”

“Depending on your mood, you can wear them very tight...or not,” I say without breaking my gaze laced with wanton desire. Her breathing increases, her lips part. She swallows, and getting shy, she busies herself with finding another toy in the drawer.

“Why do you need a cookie cutter?” she asks innocently.

I smile. “That’s called a Wartenberg pinwheel,” I say, and she looks at me questioning. I reach out and take her hand. “Open up your palm,” I say softly, my thumbs caressing her knuckles. As our bodies connect, a jolt of energy surges through us both, making us shudder. I look at her desirously. When she opens her palm up, I run the pinwheel over her palm. She groans, “Ah!” but has a surprised look over her face for the way it feels.

“Imagine this over your breasts,” I whisper into her ear licentiously. She snatches her hand back, blushing. “There’s only a very fine line between pain and pleasure, Ana,” I say as I put the pinwheel back.

“What do you use the clothespins for?” she asks curiously eyeing them in the drawer.

“There is a great deal you can do with them,” I say desire scorching me.

She leans to the drawer with her back, pushing it close. Guess, our show and tell is over.

“Is that all?” I ask amused after seeing her reaction.

“Nope,” she says opening another drawer where she finds the ball gag. “To keep you quiet,” I say smiling thinking of her smart mouth.

“Soft limit,” she murmurs.

“I remember. But you know, you can still breathe with it,” I say demonstrating it. She asks me if I had worn one before. I tell her that I had.

She of course frustratingly associates it with pain again, thinking I had worn it to mask my screams. I sigh, once again.

“Anastasia, they’re about control. Think how helpless you would be, tied up, and unable to speak... How much trust would you have to have knowing I had that much power over you... You would have to trust that I could read your body’s and your reaction without hearing your words. It would put me in ultimate control and making you completely dependent on me,” I say explaining.

She cocks her head and examines my expression, almost sad.

“You sound like you miss that, Christian,” she observes.

“That’s what I know,” I confess. Everything else is new, and this has been my way of life for so long. I gaze at her longing, helpless.

“You know you have the power over me Christian,” she whispers.

“Do I, really Ana? You make me feel...” I say sighing. What’s the right word...inadequate, vulnerable, exposed, powerless, defenseless... “Helpless,” I say finally. That about sums it.

“No! Why do you think that?” she asks fervently.

“Because Anastasia, you are the only person in the world I know who could really hurt me,” I confess. Hurt me beyond repair. I felt powerless when she left me. I died a thousand deaths yesterday thinking she would be killed! And today, someone else tried to hurt her! Really hurt her! She can simply destroy me by not being with me.

“Oh, Christian, you know that this goes both ways. If you didn’t want me...where would that leave me?” she says looking into her knotted fingers nervously. She shudders as if a cold wind blasted through the room. “I don’t ever want to hurt you, Christian. I just love you,” she whispers, now looking up at me. I

still can’t grasp why she loves me. I’m unlovable. Her fingers reach up to my sideburns, and her touch is heavenly. I close my eyes, and find myself leaning into her caress. I drop the last toy in the drawer absently and close it. All I want to do is to hold my girl in my arms and feel her presence. My arms snake around her waist, pulling her close to me.

“Are we done with show and tell?” I ask in a soft, lascivious voice.

“Why? What do you have in mind?” she asks. As I lean down and kiss her softly, she just molds into my kiss, and reciprocates while she’s strongly holding onto my arms.

“Baby, you were nearly attacked today. I want to know you’re okay.” I say as apprehension and anger laces my voice.

She shrugs. “So? What’s the big deal?” I pull myself back to look at her.

“What the heck do you mean?” I hiss angrily.

“I’m fine, Christian,” she says totally unfazed. I hold her even closer, burying her into my chest. “Every time I think of what might have happened to you,” I choke... I couldn’t have made it through this night. I would have killed the fucker! I try to feel Anastasia with touch, smell and taste. I inhale her and I kiss her hair while holding her against myself flush.

“Christian, I’m a lot strong than I look,” she whispers against my neck.

“I know you’re strong baby,” I whisper. But that isn’t enough for me to feel secure. I don’t want to indulge my demons tonight. I kiss her hair again, releasing her. Anastasia’s short attention span, and her ever curious mind, catches another toy in the drawer. She lifts it up and looks at it curiously.

That is another ultimate control device which I would like to use on her right now. “That’s a spreader bar with ankle and wrist restraints,” I murmur as my gaze darkens with passion.

“How does it work?” she asks with bright eyes, seeking for a demonstration.

“Do you want me to show you?” I breathe thanking God for an ever curious woman. I close my eyes in brief supplication. She takes my breath away with one simple question, and wakes my sex god up like no one else.

“Yes, I think I would like a demonstration. I like being tied up,” she whispers shyly and I nearly explode. Breathe in, breathe out.

But my desire is short lived, because this room is painful for me. I can’t have her here. The memory of her leaving me here, in this room is too fresh.

“Oh, Ana. Not here,” I say in a tormented voice.

“Why not?”

“Because I want you in my bed, not in this room. Come,” I say grabbing the bar out of her hand, and take her out of the room where my last memory of her was her leaving me along with my heart and soul. I leave the pain and the tormenting memory locked up, and to be dealt with some other time within the confines of the playroom.

***** Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I've tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice. Robert Frost

CHAPTER XVIII

“But Christian, why aren’t we... you know in there?” Anastasia asks significantly. How do I explain what her presence in the playroom makes me feel like? Outside of the door of the playroom, I stop and turn around to look Anastasia; my face pained, already overwhelmed with what happened this evening...And going in there, into the room where I had my biggest heartbreak is not something I can handle tonight. I sigh and lock gazes with Anastasia. I shake my head; hold her face in my hand. “Anastasia, I’m not ready to go in there with you... not even if you are. When we were in there not so long ago, you left me. Even though I keep telling...” I say sighing. The thought of it, the stress with fresh memories of her leaving me, and the aftermath... “Don’t you understand what it makes me feel?” Words are failing me expressing what I feel...the worry and fear that gripped me, and the desperation and immense pain of loss when she walked out of this door... I close my eyes to push the image away from my thoughts. When I open them back again, the pain is still present. Gesturing around with my hand I say, “...with you leaving, my entire approach, my attitude has changed.” My world has changed.

“My perspective on life...on my life particularly, fundamentally changed directions. It’s been a radical shift and I’ve already talked to you about this. But, there is something I have not told you...” I say looking at her worried. Exasperation, confusion, and difficulty expressing my feelings overwhelm me. I run a hand through my hair as if to wipe these feelings away. I finally open my mouth having formed a few coherent sentences in my head to convey how I feel. “The only comparison I can draw is like a recovering alcoholic, alright? I know the compulsion to do what I’m accustomed is gone,” I say in a single breath. Though after today, I don’t want to temp that compulsion. I don’t even want to give it a chance to stick its ugly head out. “What I’m trying to tell you is, that I don’t want to make way to temptation... in there,” I say jabbing my thumb in the direction of the playroom. “I don’t ever want to hurt you, Ana.” And that’s the plain truth. No matter how mad I may get at her, I don’t want to hurt her. I can’t bear it! I already have a lot of guilt for having done what I have. I can’t erase that. But I don’t have to repeat the experience, or make way to it.

She looks worried. Maybe worried that a lot of other things we could do would be gone along with the punishment, but it’s not true. What is gone is only the punishment. Hurting her would hurt me. “Ana, I can’t bear to hurt you, because I love you,” I confess, looking at her face willing her to understand me. Understand what I feel for her. The simple fact is, she’s my life. She’s engrained in my soul.

Anastasia takes me by surprise by hurling herself at me and I have to drop the spreader bar onto the stairs just in time to capture her in my arms. The force of her weight pushes me to the wall, and her hands reach up to my face, effectively capturing it, she pulls my face down, and merges her lips with mine, forcing her tongue into my mouth. She pushes her body flush with mine, her hands traveling into my hair, pulling and twisting while her lips are sucking my tongue. What the fuck! My libido just shots up off the charts, and I’m ready to fuck her right here, right now! Agh! I don’t want her to be accidentally seen by Taylor or Mrs. Jones. I groan and push her slightly away from me. One more second of this and I will have no self-control; my breathing is ragged as if I ran a marathon. Though, the only marathon I want to be currently involved in is climbing on her! “Anastasia, if you keep up with this, I’m going to fuck you on the stairs whether you want to be fucked here or not!” I say in a dark gaze. “Yes!” she breathes with a desirous take-me-now, gaze. For a minute, I feel indecisive; I want to take her right here, and come hell or high water, I won’t care who sees us! But my jealousy of anyone seeing her in that position, in the throes of passion boils my blood. That’s for me and for me alone! No fucking way! Desire is still paramount, and I will have her, but not on the stairs. “No. I’m not fucking you here! I’m taking you to my bed,” I say and not waiting another second I scoop her off the floor, and take her over my shoulders like a Neanderthal carrying his woman, and she gives a loud squeal which earns her a hard smack on her delectable derrière which also eases my earlier anger at her. I walk down the stairs, and lean down and pick the spreader bar from the floor where it came to a stop after I dropped it, anxious to try it out on her. I can hardly make it to my bedroom fast enough. After all that has happened this evening, and thank God that no harm came to her, I feel instant relief and set Anastasia down and drop the spreader bar onto the bed. Still focused on what had worried me in the playroom, Anastasia whispers: “I don’t believe you’ll hurt me Christian.” “I won’t hurt you,” I say passionately, having barely have made through the stairs into my room, and immediately take her face within the confines of my hands kissing her hard, desperately, passionately, and intensely. The desire to have her, touch her, and make love to her is unbearable. After a shitty day like today, all I want to do is to lose myself in her.

“I want you... desperately,” I breathe against her mouth between kisses, panting hard. But I won’t push my way into her. The concern over what happened today and what she may feel is holding me back. This must be her decision. “Anastasia,” I say making her look at me. “Are you absolutely sure about this baby?” I ask. “Even after what happened today?” A firm, “Yes,” is her answers. “I want you, and I want you now. I want to undress you Christian,” she says desperately. Apprehension creeps up at me again. Undressing involves touching. Normally I would have more control... But tonight, after all that happened, I’m still agitated, still taking effort to control myself. But this is Ana. I’d do it for her. I’d do almost anything for her.

“Okay,” I acquiesce. The fear demons wake up with their snarling faces in my mind. As Anastasia’s fingers slowly reach to the second button on my shirt, the demon with its gleaming eyes, and unknown face who seems to be residing in the dark corners of my soul pokes its pitchfork of fear into my heart and I have to take a sharp intake of breath. I can’t let fear win. Can’t let it take hold over me, over what we have. Anastasia slowly retracts her hand halfway back and it’s indecisively hanging in midair, unable or unwilling to touch. “If you don’t want me to touch, I won’t touch you Christian,” she whispers softly. If I don’t let her touch me now, I’d be letting my fear win; the fear with the obscured face of a demon gleams victoriously in the eyes of my mind. I can’t let our past wins be lost with this fear... The truth is, I want her to touch me. I’m desperate for the connection, needy in fact. Desirous even. But this fucking fear is always showing its ugly face. The hope of “us” is the only thing that is holding me upright here. Hope is stronger than fear. Us...Anastasia and me...Us. No fear... No fear... No fear... I chant in my head, and respond her immediately. “No! Do it. I’m fine. I’m good... It’s ok,” I mutter in quick succession. I swallow hard, trying to pass a boulder through my esophagus as if it was possible. One step. Shallow breaths. Breathe in. Breathe out. She opens the second button. Another step... small steps. Breathe in, breathe out. My eyes fixed on her. I make a small ‘o’ with my lips to exhale my breath. One more step... One more button. After she unbuckles the third button, she looks up, and then slightly blows on my poking chest hair. Sensual and scary at the same time.

“I want to kiss you here,” she says blowing another small breath to the exposed hair on my chest, in such a way that I won’t confuse where she wants to kiss me. “Kiss me?” I ask in a stressed tone. My heart is palpitating, the demon is jabbing his pitchfork, tines buried to the stump, twisting painfully in my heart! It’s just Ana... It’s just Ana... It’s just my love. “Yes,” I murmur agreeing. Twisting, and twisting hard. Fear branches and grips inside my heart like the tines of devil’s pitchfork making me gasp for air. She leans in inch by inch. Her intent is clear. My initial reaction would be to jump back, run away, and push her away. This is Ana... This is Ana... This is Ana! I remind myself. She reaches down and finally plants a soft gentle kiss like the touch of a butterfly among the curls of my chest hair as I hold my breath, and hold very very still. Then she undoes the last button, and looks up at me victoriously. I...was afraid. But, it felt good. Great even to have her lips on my chest. Fearful, yes. But definitely great. What is she doing to me? What kind of black magic is this? Oh, Ana... What you do to me, how you change me. She’s my angel...my savior from my personal demons. My more... “It’s a bit easier, isn’t it?” she asks in a whisper. I nod, completely mesmerized with what she’s doing. It’s a simple, innocent, yet a sensual, sexy as hell task. I’m in awe of her. In awe of us! Individually we’re not significant. But together, we’re ‘us’. And what that is, is simply magnificent. How has she changed me, morphed me into being touchable. A shudder courses through me. “What do you do to me, Ana? How have you changed me? Whatever you’re doing, whatever that is, please don’t stop,” I murmur completely amazed, completely in love, completely wrapped in her magic. I am in love with what she is, who she is, what she does to me. Completely captivated! I can’t think of anything but her, especially right now. The mere inches of distance is too great for me, and I immediately pull her into the safety of my arms, holding her tight, inhaling her scent. My nose travels down to her eyes, to her nose, and finally my lips descend on hers, and desire courses through me, taking over my body. I capture her hair in both my hands, and as I almost forcefully yank it down, her head lifts up, lips apart, desirous, inviting, and accessible. Who am I to not to oblige her? I dip my head down and start running my lips over her face, teasing, only stopping on her lips for a few seconds, then I softly nibble on her jaw which drives her crazy and her reaction makes me hot and needy, ready to jump out of my skin to have her. I groan loudly, and that does something to Ana. We just feed on each other’s responses and get lost in them. Anastasia’s hands

are at my hips trying to undo my button and unzip me in a hurried clumsiness as she’s too desirous to keep her hands steady, but she manages it. A groan escapes my lips, as my erection is trying to force its way out of my pants and the boxers. “Oh, baby,” groan with desire as I kiss her. Anastasia’s hand dips into my pants, making me gasp with a pleasant surprise. Having unzipped me, she grabs a hold of my waist and yanks both my pants and the boxers forcefully, setting me free, and dropping to her knees, and takes me into her mouth! “Whoa, Ana!” I’m completely shocked, as my jaw drops open with the way she takes charge, and takes me into the pleasurable captivity of her mouth. Sheathing me completely she sucks...hard; I’m lascivious, wanton, and also completely mesmerized with her lips on my manhood. I’m in heavenly carnal pleasure... Oh, what I want to do to you, Miss Steele! I can reciprocate... Agh! I groan. She sucks. And sucks relentlessly! Fucking sexy! I’m mesmerized with her. As if I’m watching her, both within and outside of my body. What an experience! She pulls in deep, and for a moment mouth completely sheaths me, and as she’s pulling back, she slightly grazes me with her teeth while her tongue is stroking, and my eyes roll back in sheer pleasure. “Fuck, Ana!” I hiss through my teeth barely containing myself; I find myself holding her head and I flex my hips in response to her pull, and lost deep within her mouth. I don’t even know who’s fucking who... I just want to take her down, and be the one in control. I don’t want to come just yet. I try to pull back to take her instead, but she grabs my ass with her hands and holds me firmly as she keeps sucking. “Ana, please... If you don’t stop now, I’m gonna come!” I groan. Do I want to come in her mouth now? I’m lost, unable to think straight. I want to be on top of her, inside her, yet, I can’t seem to... I’m lost... too close. She swirls her tongue on my tip, and that pushes the scale, and I come into her mouth shouting her name, and the orgasm goes through in crashing waves all over my body rippling through me. She takes, and swallows in everything I had to give her. Once the shudders subside I manage to open my eyes to look at her, and she’s smiling at me as she licks her lips. Oh baby! So that’s your game! I grin at her salaciously, and bend down and lift her up to her feet, and immediately cover her lips with mine, and the realization that my smell, my taste, my seeds are all over her. I have marked her; or rather she marked herself with me. That’s sexy as hell!

“I can taste myself in your mouth, and baby, that makes you taste better,” I whisper salaciously into her lips between kisses. That’s about all I can take without bursting; I yank off her t-shirt and carelessly toss it into the corner of the room, then I grab my woman and toss her onto our bed. She’s on her back naked from the waist up, so, bent on getting her naked all the way, I lift her legs up and pull her sweatpants off. Yes! She’s one beautiful package. Naked, innocent, but desirous, and there’s nothing more sexy or hotter than a woman who is in love with you, wanting you, waiting for you, and the feelings are mutual! I make my intentions known to her. She’s beyond hot for me. Lifting her head up slightly, resting on her elbows she says, “You are one beautiful man Christian and taste delicious,” making me grin. Baby, you have no idea how I’m going to reciprocate your amorous assault... I’m thinking in kind, but my own brand, and style. I take the spreader bar, and cuff her left ankle first making sure it’s not too tight or uncomfortable. There is still a finger’s room between the cuff and her ankle. My gaze is not leaving hers, and I can see it in her eyes that she’s assessing my expertise with the spreader bar. I give her a wicked grin in response. “I’m anxious to taste you again Miss Steele. Because I remember you being an exceptional and an exquisite delicacy, baby,” I say as our gazes remain locked. I take her other ankle and cuff it with the same expertise. Her legs are currently only two feet apart, but that can be rectified. “You know Anastasia, one of the best things about this spreader is that it’s expandable,” I say as stretch the bar from the joints, spreading her legs to be three feet apart. Anastasia just gapes at her spread legs testing the wide gap by trying to flex her feet. She gives up unable to close them. Her sex blooms like an inviting rose. Her breathing increases; she’s restless, she wants me to get on with it, but I will take my time. The ball is at my court now, baby! “Oh baby, we are going to have a lot of fun with this,” I say as I hold the bar; and with a simple twist, I roll Anastasia to her front easily, and effectively. It’s a great toy; gives me lots of control which of course I love. I can feel both the excitement and surprise palpitating through her. “Do you see what I can do with this little device?” I murmur carnally. I twist it once more, and her front is facing me again. Anastasia is breathless and surprised at the amount of control this simple tool gives me. And though I can’t spank Anastasia for punishment, I can do a whole a lot with sex; and man, I know how to turn it into the great tool of both pleasure and punishment. I hold the cuffs that are designed for her wrists, and tell her that I may put them or leave them depending on whether she behaves or not.

“Behave? I always behave. When did I not behave?” she protests. She has such short memory when it comes to her transgressions. “I can think of a few infractions,” I say softly as I run my fingers up her soles, and her insteps. The sensation my touch evokes, goes down to the hotline of her groin. She squirms to get out, of course, but I have the control now. “You have not used your Blackberry, that’s an infraction,” I say exposing one of the sore spots I have had with her earlier. She realizes that it may be punishment time, gasping. “What are you gonna do?” she asks as her breathing increases. “Baby, I never reveal my plans,” I say smirking. Finally the opportunity to get my dues lights up my eyes. I quickly divest myself of my remaining clothes, and I’m between her legs, kneeling already. She’s spread open, gloriously naked, sexy as hell, and all within my grasp. My eyes never leave hers, and she’s writing in anticipation; curiously, and expectantly. Anticipation is a prequel for a great sex. It all happens in your mind. I want her to think of possibilities of what I might do to her... What indeed? “This is all about anticipation, Ana. Think of what I will, what I can do to you... Anticipate,” I say softly; my words are caressing her, sinking in, and making her want me, desire me, and connect with me at a higher level than just raw sex. I know it’s getting through to her because she’s already moaning, and that’s my cue. My fingers start their ministrations, relentlessly arousing her by moving, caressing, touching on her legs and backs of her knees where they are sensitive, and arousal is almost instantaneous for her. She tries to close her legs by instinct, but they won’t budge, obviously. I want to do more, and push her to her limit, get my due, and claim her, regain control, but only with her permission. She comes first. I remind her that. “Baby, I want you to remember that if there’s something you don’t like, please tell me to stop, and I will,” I murmur while continuing my sweet assaults. She’s too lost in anticipation to refuse. I slowly bend over, and start kissing her belly softly, and only around her belly. I slowly kiss and suck and nip her while my hands captivate her legs and continue on their northward ministrations upon her legs and her inner thighs with soft touches; taunting her, teasing, making her want more, and beg for a completion. “Christian!” she begs, “please, oh, please...” she moans pleading.

“Oh, Anastasia... I’m only returning the favor of your amorous assaults upon me. You can be quite merciless when it comes to what you want to do, baby,” I murmur softly between kisses. She doesn’t protest anymore, just lets herself loose within the pleasures I’m about to deliver her as her hands clawing the sheets. My mouth goes down to the line of her belly and her pubic bone, and blow softly as I tease her of what’s to come. My fingers make their way up to the apex and into her blooming sex, and she unexpectedly lifts her hips up to meet my fingers. Her reaction makes me even more desirous for her making me moan, and I sink my fingers knuckle deep in her circling, and she’s hot and wet for me. “Baby you never stop amazing me. Always so wet for me,” I say and with that, I dip my head into her sex. My tongue finds her tasty pink stub and as my fingers continue their explorations inside of her, my tongue slowly and torturously pleasure the folds of her bloom. Because her legs are spread apart, she has no option but to absorb all of the pleasure. She arches her back to spread the intensity of her sensations, but unable to fulfill. “Christian!” she cries out. I know she’s reaching her limits of handling the intensity of her approaching orgasm. “I know, baby, I know,” I say taking pity on her, and easing up on my assaults, and softly and slowly blow on the tip of her exposed sex, sending shivers down to her spine. “Argh! Please, now!” she begs for completion. “Say my name!” I order her. I need to have her recognize, and accept who is dominating her right now. Who is her man? I want to hear it from her! I want to own her body and soul, just like she owns me... “Christian!” she screams in a high pitched, wanton voice. Her body responds me before her mind can, and I love that about her. My name in her lips is like a magic litany calling me to her, beckoning me. It’s a surrendering supplication. Nothing is sexier than my name upon her lips right now! “Say it again!” I say hoarsely. “Christian! Christian! Christian! Christian Grey!” She yells in a declaration that I own her! I’m her man! I alone; no one else! “You.Are.Mine!” I growl with a deep guttural sound, raw and emotional after all the shit we’ve been thought this evening! And a swirl and a dip of my tongue into her sex pushes her into her orgasm in

strong ripples, coursing through her repeatedly without any way to disperse, or absorb because of her spread out legs. As she’s still shuddering with the remnants of her pleasure, I flip her to her front. We haven’t tried this one before, but I want to see if she can handle it. “This is new baby, and I want to try this with you. If you dislike it at all, or that it’s not comfortable for you, tell me, and we’ll stop immediately.” Then I tell her to keep her head and chest on the bed. I take her hands and cuff each one to the bar next to her ankles. It’s an awkward, and a vulnerable position, but sexy and incredibly glorious. Her ass is up in the air, inviting, and she is incredibly beautiful. I run my fingers down through her spine, and when I get to her ass, I declare her that I want to claim it, too. In fact, I want all of her, when she’s ready. My fingers gently probe her, and she gasps. “I’m not claiming it today baby. But one day, I want you every way possible. I want to...I need to possess every inch of you. You’re all mine, baby,” I say fervently. She is only mine. The desire, and the inviting folds of her sex, and her moans are like siren’s call, pulling me in, and I find my cock slamming into her. Because she’s completely open and wide, her sex is absorbing all of my considerable length, all at the same time, making her cry out, “gentle! Argh! Gentle!” she groans. And I stop. Is it too hard for her? “Are you okay?” I ask her, trying to gauge her reaction. “Be gentle first... I need to get used to this,” she says. I’m pleased that she’s communicating her needs, wants, and limits with me. I slowly easy out of her, gently and with minimal impact, and slowly ease back into her inch by inch, slowly stretching her as I fill her sex up. I gently ease out of her once again, and slowly and gently fill and stretch her sex. When I ease out of her once again, I gyrate my hips as I ease back into her and feel her getting softer, stretch to accommodate my cock, welcoming me into her sex. “It’s good, I’m ok. I’ve got it now,” she murmurs, and my rhythm increases with her declaration. I hold her hips with both hands, and start moving, really moving in her. She moans with the intensity of the sensation she’s feeling, not being able to close her legs, but she thrust her hips back to meet my cock, increasing the licentious desire in me even more. My hands squeeze her buttocks, and I guide her to me. I plunge again and again into her with a measured pace, and with each thrust I am staking my claim on Anastasia; a claim that says she's mine, and mine alone. My rhythm quickens as I feel Anastasia's approaching peak with her muscles inside her sex start contracting and with a quickened pace I slam into her several times with sharp thrusts and Anastasia comes loudly with my name is on her lips and her pleasure is enough to push me to my peak. I come with a sharp cry of ecstasy that vibrates through

me, shaking me to the core and jolts Anastasia through our connection. As the waves of orgasm stills slowly, I cry out her name once more, “Ana, baby!” Replete, and sated, I collapse next to her. I untie the cuff and straps binding Anastasia to the stretcher bar, setting her free, and quickly pull her into my arms, and ready to hold her in my embrace. Tired, and worked out, Anastasia drifts into deep sleep in my arms. I watch her in her sleep. The worry of how I could have lost her within the last two days weighs heavy on me. Fates, I feel are after her... Or maybe after me through her. But, I don't want to let my demons peak their head again when she's right here, within the protection of my arms. Her face glistens with sweat of our lovemaking, and her hair freely falls around her face. I gently push it away, and watch her innocence in her slumber, and her easy breathing. She's lovely; in fact angel like. Like heaven sent, specifically for me. For this unworthy man. What Hyde had said comes to my mind angering me... “If you didn't have more money than I, she'd be fucking me now! Instead I'm the one who's holding the balls she kicked!” Anastasia loves me. She's with me for love! Even though I don't deserve it. She loves me! Hard to wrap that concept around my head. But I love her too, with all intensity of my heart. That ought to count for something. She's my heart, my soul, my life; my first and last thought of the day. She's everything to me. Here she lies in my arms. Beautiful, innocent, heaven sent. I'm fit for nothing; not the likes of her, but, fuck! I love her, I want her, and I'm a selfish man. I want her to be in my life always. If she was to deny me--deny being with me, I know it would ruin me. When I nearly murdered that fucker today, all I could think was how he tried to have her, touch her, claim her as his own. It made me insane... The rage I felt was beyond anything I have ever felt. I possibly could have killed him had he been successful in trying to rape her, or claim her in anyway. In the back of my mind, though I pushed it down, if I had to be gone even for a short while because of killing that fucker, the thought of someone else having her burned through my soul. It stopped me, I think. She's made for me alone, and I for her.

Anastasia may be an ordinary girl for someone else. But not for me. What I have felt for her since the beginning I now realize is what I tried to deny. I love her to distraction; she's everything I need, and want. Without her I feel like I'm swallowed up in a dark abyss where I can't find myself, and with her, it's her love that's driving me to distraction. I was in love with her before I had sense enough to recognize it.

I love her madly. Mad enough to kill to protect her. And now here she is... safe in my arms. Mine. She moves and turns in my arms waking up distracting me from my thoughts.

Her eyes sleepily blink a few times, still too tired and barely able to keep them open. When her baby blues meet mine under her lashes, she smiles, tries to shift in my arms, but I can see that she still feels as if she's boneless, totally spent.

“I could watch you sleep like this forever, baby,” I whisper afraid to jolt her completely awake, and kiss her lightly.

“I never want to let you go,” I say reflecting what I have been feeling, and wrap my arms around her tighter. The truth is, I can't let her go. She said she can't live without me. What about me? I can't live without her. How can one without one's life, without his soul? She murmurs sleepily... “Don't ever let me go. Because I never want to go,” she whispers before sleep claims her again. “I need you, Ana,” more than you'll ever know. I whisper in her ears, as she's already deep asleep.. “I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest in my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.” I quote her the sonnet of Pablo Neruda. This is me...all of me; good and bad, fucked up and immature, loving and jealous to the point of murderous rage sometimes. But I am completely and irrevocably in love with her, and trying to be worthy of her. Trying to establish a goal, look for a place I'd like to be, like Dr. Flynn said. That place includes her; my ideal place is where she exists, even if she drives me insane most the time, and mind fucks me when she doesn't listen to me, and almost constantly disobedient, sometimes utterly independent – so much so that she makes me pull my own hair, and get me out of my mind! But she loves me. Me! And I her. Everything about her is refreshing, new, and captivating. She branded my soul. The thought makes me smile, and I too drift asleep, holding the woman I love.

******** The advantage of waking up next to Ana is that she's readily accessible. My mind and body are constantly focused on her. I wake up with the sun’s first rays of light are dawning through the city of Seattle easing into my bedroom. I find myself nuzzling her neck, kissing and nipping it sensually. This is my wake up call for her. Her eyes crack open.

“Good morning, baby,” I whisper as I continue to suck and nip on her earlobe. My fingers find her naked body, and as my hands slowly travel to her breasts, I continue with my ministrations of her jaw and her lips. My cock is stretching into a thick rope pushing onto her hips.

“You seem to be pleased to see me, Mr. Grey,” she mutters sleepily, as she pushes her hips against me, and gyrates in a demanding gesture. Oh baby, I aim to please. I love her being next to me, in my bed, every night. Not only because I want to be in her all the time, I want her to want me, too. Take me, love me, fuck me, take advantage of me excessively! I'm all hers as she's mine. “Yes, I am pleased to see you. More and more I find advantages of waking up next to you, Anastasia,” I say as I pull her on her back so I can have full access of her body. “Did you sleep well, baby?” I ask unable to help but to smile at her as my fingers slowly and sensually continue to tease her as they continue on their journey down towards her sex. Already eager to accept my fingers, she lifts her hips up and two of my fingers enter into the folds of her sex. My lips find hers and I start kissing her slowly, sensually; moving down to her neck, my tongue grazing, my lips sucking, and nipping, I make my way down towards her twin peaks. She moans with every single touch, so receptive, so ready, we’re made

for each other! I ease and dip one finger inside her finding it so wet, so aroused, I moan. “Oh, baby, you’re always so ready for me,” I whisper hoarsely and ease another finger into her, slowly and rhythmically swirl them inside her.

As my fingers explore and conquer her from within, my lips continue on a journey of their own kissing and sucking, reaching to her breast. My lips reach and suck one of her nipples, swirling my tongue around it, and slightly nipping, and tugging with my teeth making her moan. Then I move onto the next breast and tease and torment it with my sweet ministrations. She moves under me, moaning, and groaning. Her response, the way her body fits under my hands, my lips, and my cock, and the way our bodies respond to each other is amazing. Desire is always coursing through me when she is with me, or even when I think about her. I seem to be hard for her all the time! But when she’s under me, under my control, when her body willingly submits to me, to my desires, I am unable to help myself but want her the worst way. I want to live inside her most the time. “I want you now!” I groan and reach out to get a condom from the bedside table. I shift my body to place myself perfectly above her, and between her legs. As I place my knees between hers, I shift her legs spreading them further apart with mine. When I open the condom packet, I look at it with distaste. “I can hardly wait for Saturday,” I say licentiously. “Your birthday party?” she asks in a breathy voice. I shake my head. “No. Saturday is the day I can stop using these fuckers,” I say showing the condom. “Aptly named,” she says giggling. Giggling? I pinch the tip, and roll the condom onto my length as Anastasia is watching me with hungry eyes. “Miss Steele, this is not the time for giggling,” I say reprimanding her with a stern look; though I have a fiery passion burning through my eyes. “But I thought you liked me giggling,” she says in a whisper, her passionate gaze locked with mine. “This is not the time or place for giggling, baby. I think we need to put a stop to it, and I know exactly how,” I say, and I push her knees up, and drive my length between the lips of her sex. My mouth descends on her nipple, taking it between my lips with deep, hard pulls. Anastasia’s giggles subside, and they’re replaced with her moaning. Oh yes... Just the reaction I was looking for. My hips start moving inside her restlessly, circling, drilling with devious pleasure. Anastasia wraps her legs around me, her

feet crossing atop my buttocks; her soft heels are digging into me. I groan with pleasure. I drive every inch of me into her repeatedly to show her who she belongs to. “You’re mine Anastasia!” I groan. “Yes... Yours...” she says in a husky, a barely recognizable voice. I place my hands under her buttocks suddenly, and I push her hips into me as I quicken my pace with slamming thrusts. Anastasia’s muscles start tightening, and she comes loudly with my name on her lips, and I pour into her all I got, losing myself, and the orgasm rolls through us in strong waves, spreading, and conquering our bodies collectively. I collapse onto Anastasia, sinking her deep into the mattress, as my lips are still locked with hers.

****** We shower and dress up for the work day; neither one able to keep hands off the other. We make our way to the kitchen to have breakfast and sit at the breakfast bar. Mrs. Jones is already busy in the kitchen fixing my omelet. She asks Anastasia what she would like for breakfast, as Anastasia is seating herself on a stool. “I only want some granola Mrs. Jones, thank you,” she says blushing. Anastasia is dressed in a gray pencil skirt and a gray silk blouse. “You look gorgeous,” I whisper leaning in, making her blush further. She lifts her eyes at me with an appreciative gaze, eyeing my pale blue shirt and jeans, and says, “As do you, Mr. Grey.”

She really looks hot with her skirt which hugs her all the right places. She looks completely elegant. I have this desire to provide for her. I don’t know what it is... I have this primal instinct to meet all her needs. Like a caveman who goes out and kills a game for his woman. Hunt something and bring to her feet. I want to be everything she needs, and the only one who provides for her. “We should buy you some more skirts. As a matter of fact, I would love to take you shopping,” I say. She looks distracted. “I wonder what’s gonna happen at work today...” she says slightly worried. That brings up the unpleasant thoughts of Jack Hyde. Anger creeps unbidden, making me frown. I try to rein in my anger, barely managing, I grimace. “They’ll have to replace the sleazebag.” “I do hope my new boss is a woman,” Anastasia comments absently. “Why is that?” “Well, I suppose you’d be less likely to object to me going away with a female boss,” she says. I do love the fact you’re so innocent Anastasia. I try to suppress a smile. A woman, too can press her suit on another woman. And besides, Anastasia going alone someplace without me, and the prospect of her meeting someone else there who might make a move on her is not a pleasant one. As a take a bite of my omelet, she asks, “What are you smiling about? What’s so damn funny?” “Just you, Anastasia. Eat all of your granola if that’s all you’re having, baby.” She narrows her eyes at me, and finishes her food.

****** Anastasia is going to drive the Saab for the first time today. She looks for the ignition by the steering wheel.

“Where’s the ignition?” she ask confused looking around the steering wheel.

“No baby. The ignition is right below the gearshift,” I point it to her.

“Odd place,” she mutters, but excited to drive her new car for the first time. She is unable to contain her excitement; almost jumping in the driver’s seat, clapping her hands like a small child. Her excitement makes me joyous. I gaze at her, and enjoy the moment. “You seem to be quite excited about driving, aren’t you?” I ask, pleased. Her exhilaration is rubbing off on me.

She beams in response, and grins ear to ear. Takes a deep breath as if she’s inhaling her favorite scent and turns to me. “Don’t you love the new car smell? Oh Christian! This is so much better than the A3 Submissive Special!” she says, then having blurted something she didn’t filter in her head first, she blushes. But I love her for it. She says what she thinks.

I have a hard time suppressing a smile with her expressive definitions. “Submissive Special, Miss Steele? You have quite a way with words, baby,” I say trying to mock scold her, but, it’s too hard to do, when she’s this happy.

“Alright, let’s get going,” I say and point to the garage exit. Anastasia is beyond excited. She jumps in her seat though her movements are limited with her seat belt on, and she claps her hands together, then starts the car. As she shifts the car into Drive, we move forward. I note from the side mirror that Taylor is driving behind us in the SUV. I’ll go all the way to SIP with her, and from thereon, Taylor will take me to GEH. I want to spend every possible minute with Anastasia. Not to mention, I don’t trust her driving skill all too well.

Escala’s garage door lifts open, and Anastasia signals to turn right, and eases into traffic. At the corner of the building, we reach our first stop sign and she asks if she could have the radio on. Anastasia is easily distracted, and I don’t think having the radio on is a good idea.

“I’d rather you concentrate,” I say a little a little too sharply.

She looks at me sideways, and I can see the creeping annoyance in her eyes. “Christian, I know how to drive with music on,” she says rolling her eyes. Frustrating woman! I want her to first get used to driving a new vehicle. Is it too much to want to keep her safe? Though I scowl, I give in.

“Fine. You can play an iPod, mp3, as well as CDs in this stereo system,” I say, demonstrating the stereo system to her.

I dock the iPod and the stereo comes on loudly as The Police starts playing “King of Pain.” (King of Pain by The Police)

“Your anthem,” she blurts out with another brain to mouth malfunction and oddly that assessment however true, cuts deep. Knowing it myself, and Anastasia confirming it are two different things. I want to be different for her. She clears her throat in realization.

“I think I have this album. Somewhere in my apartment...” she says trying to distract me, having regretted what she said. A forlorn look takes her face, and she’s gone, distracted. When she’s distracted, especially in the traffic, I worry. What if she gets distracted when she’s by herself?

“Hey!” I say trying to bring her back to here and now. “Miss Smart Mouth, come back to me!” She shakes her head as if jumping back into the current time from a parallel universe.

“You’re very distracted, Ana. You must concentrate. Don’t be complacent; most accidents happen when you don’t concentrate,” I warn her. She blinks, and shakes her head.

“I was just worried about work, that’s all.”

“Baby, you’ll be completely fine. Trust me!” I say. She’ll be better than fine. No one is going to dare to fire the owner’s girlfriend. I can hand their ass and their hat into their hands before they can say ‘fifty’ should they dare to fire her! I smile at her with reassurance.

She looks at me worried and says, “Christian, please don’t interfere, please. This is something I want to do on my own.” Why does she always assume that I will interfere? Whatever I do is to protect her, and help her; which by the way she doesn’t do a very good job on her own. In the last few months we have seen two major examples of it. I can’t help but get angry, and I clench my teeth, and my mouth goes into a hard, taut line.

She briefly gives me a worried look and says, “Let’s not argue please, Christian. We’ve had a magnificent morning, and last night was-“ she says pausing. “I can’t even find words to express how incredible it was. One word to describe it would be... heaven,” she says taking my breath away. She blows me away at the most unexpected times. Even when I want to get mad at her, she says something so simple, then I’m lost. My eyes close, and I ravel in her description.

“Yes it was. Simply heaven,” I say, and add in a whisper, “I meant what I said Ana.” I want her. I want to be with her. I need her at the most elemental level. (Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald – Heaven)

Last night was the perfect compromise of what we both like; it was beyond heaven. It was as if we were one, in unison. No words needed; claiming one another, making love, fucking, connecting not only in our primal desires and passions, but also branding our souls with each other. My love for her only grows exponentially.

“What do you mean?” she asks.

“That I don’t want to let you go, Ana,” I says softly, trying to hide the fear accompanying the thought.

“I don’t want to go,” she murmurs, and her response makes me completely happy, making me smile shyly, and I’m never shy. “Good,” is all I can say in a husky voice. Anastasia reaches the parking lot, and pulls into it. SIP is a short walking distance from here.

“I’ll walk you to work from here, and Taylor will pick me up after I drop you off,” I say. I exit the car, and walk to Anastasia’s side. “We’re seeing Dr. Flynn at seven o’clock this evening, don’t forget, ok?” I remind her as I take her hand. “No, I won’t forget. I’m going to compile a list of question to ask him,” she says. What? What kind of questions. “Questions? About me?” I ask. She answers me with a nod. I get nervous immediately. Knowing how fucked up I am, what good thing can Flynn say about me? “Anastasia, if there’s anything you want to know about me, I can answer all your questions,” I say offended. She beams at me in response. “I know you can, Christian. But I would like to get the expensive charlatan’s unbiased opinion.” Fear grips me immediately. Flynn knows me well enough... Knows how fucked up I am. He might easily recommend her that I’m not worth being with. Too fucked up for an innocent girl that she is. I can’t lose Ana! Worry and fear grips me immediately, and I turn around swiftly. I pull Anastasia into my arms with one swift movement, holding her tight as if she’s going to fly away. I capture both her hands behind her back, fixing her in place. “Is this really a good idea, Ana?” I ask in a low voice. Too low, too anxious, too distraught. Barely contained fear is lacing my features. Her responding gaze is worried. “Christian, if you’re that worried... if you don’t want me to see him, I won’t go,” she says. I don’t know what to think! All I know is that I can’t lose her. It’d destroy me to lose her. I can’t risk it. What little humanity Anastasia awaken in me, will die if she goes. I’ll be another Heathcliff. She tugs one of her hands and I release it. It comes up and rubs on my cheek tenderly, lovingly. “What is worrying you Christian?” she asks in a soothing voice almost like a lullaby. “That you’ll go... you’ll leave me,” I say unable to hide the excruciating pain from my voice. As I try to protect her from the villains outside, I don’t want to deliver her with my own hands to a person who knows every shit about me, advising her to leave me. The greatest punishment anyone can invent for me is to keep her away from me, drive her away. That is my personal torment, my daytime nightmare... It’ll give me a worthless existence making me meaner, leaving me half alive and half dead. Such a future

could only be described with two words: death and hell. Existence after losing her would be hell. I have lived in it for less than a week and barely survived. What would it do to me if the prospect was forever?

She looks into my eyes intently, unwavering. “I’ve told you countless times, Christian. I’m not leaving you, and I’m not going anywhere. You’ve already told me your worst secret, and I’m still not leaving you,” she says. Bull shit! If she wanted to stay with me, she would have agreed to be mine, forever! “Then why the hell haven’t you given me an answer?” I ask passionately. “Answered you on what?” she asks trying to skirt my question. “You know very well what I’m talking about, Ana. So don’t try to fool me,” I hiss. She gives me a sigh finally. “Christian, all I want to know is that I’m enough for you,” she says. Her response makes me release her immediately as if she’s burnt me with her words. “And you would rather not take my word for it?” I ask in complete exasperation. She would rather have someone else confirm or deny my feelings for her! How could Flynn know what goes through my fucking heart? Does he feel with it? Is he the one who is in love with her? If I don’t know my own heart, who would? “All I’m saying is that this has been so quick Christian. By your own admission, you’re fifty shades of fuckedup. I always have this gnawing feeling that I can’t... that I’m unable to give what you need. I’m not seeking an answer just to appease my own concerns. I felt even more inadequate after seeing you with Leila,” she says as worry creases her eyes and a deep sadness clouds over her expression. “I am worried that someday you will meet someone who likes doing exactly what you like to do... And what if you fall for her? Someone who is much better suited for your needs,” she says as she’s nearly choking on her words. She’s gone, and lost, nervously looking at her knotted fingers. I take a deep breath. “Baby look at me...” I say urging her to see the sincerity in my words and my expression. “I’ve known number of women who liked doing what I do. But none of them appealed to me the way you do. I have never had an emotional connection with any of those women. None of them! It’s only ever been you, Ana! No one else, just you...”

“That didn’t happen because you never gave them a chance. You were too confined, and spent too much time in your fortress Christian. But I don’t want to discuss this right now at eight o’clock in the morning in a parking lot. I need to go to work, and maybe the good Dr. Flynn can offer us an insight,” she asks raising her eyebrows. I nod reluctantly. Still worried. I hold my hand out to her, and say, “come,” leading her to the street. I walk her all the way to the SIP door, and hold her face in my hands, kissing her long and hard, willing her to understand that she’s the only one for me. I leave her breathless, and turn back to the waiting SUV worry lacing my thoughts.

***** Love Sonnet XVII (17th Sonnet from the First Section) by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were a salt rose, or topaz or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off. I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms

but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers; thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance, risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; So I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep. Manana XVII (Original Spanish) No te amo como si fueras rosa de sal, topacio o flecha de chaveles que propagan el fuego: te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras, secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.

Te amo como la planta que no florece y lleva dentro de si, escondida, la luz de aquellas flores, y gracias a tu amor vive oscuro en mi cuerpo el apretado aroma que acendio de la tierra.

Te amo sin saber como, ni cuando, ni de donde, te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo: asi te amo porque no se amar de otra manera,

sino asi de este modo en que no soy ni eres, tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecho es mia, tan cerca que se cierran tus ojos con mi sueno.

JOINT THERAPY
CHAPTER XIX

I make my way to the Audi SUV where Taylor is waiting. He rushes out and opens the back passenger door. As soon I get in, I dial Roach. He answers the phone immediately. The anxiety exuding from his voice tells me that he thought I am about to liquidate the company. “Roach here,” he says meekly. “Grey.” I reply. “How can I help you this morning, Mr. Grey?” anxious to get on my good side. “I need status update on Hyde!” I command him. “His last paycheck and severance pay are going to be mailed to him. But his employment has been permanently terminated, and he will not be getting any company reference, sir.” “Good. His assistant, Miss Steele?” I ask.

“Do you want us to terminate her employment?” “Of course not!” I hiss sharply. “To tell you the truth sir, in the absence of Hyde, we may need her assistance, anyway. She knows all of Hyde’s authors as she’s been in contact with them, and she has written some rather impressive synopses of some prospective authors’ manuscripts Hyde was considering. It’d be to our benefit to keep her.” “I agree,” I say. “Is there anything else I can help you with, sir?” he asks timidly. “That’ll be all,” I say hanging up. When we reach GEH, Taylor drives into the underground garage, and parks the SUV. As soon as he turns the vehicle off, he gets out, and opens my door. We make our way to the elevators. I hit the call button on the elevator and without looking at Taylor I say, “Thank you for your help last night, Taylor,” in an impassive voice. Taylor, not being used to receiving a thanks or a compliment blushes to the hairline, and shifts where he’s standing; clearly uncomfortable. As he clears his throat he says, “just doin’ my job sir.” I nod for his benefit. Luckily elevator door dings open, and both of us saved by the bell, and the subject is closed. As soon as I enter into my office, Andrea and jumpy Olivia get to their feet immediately, both chiming in unison “Good morning Mr. Grey!” Andrea quickly grabs her iPad to go over the schedule, and is holding a stack of work documents for me. But I hold my hand up to her to halt her. “I’ll call you when I need you,” I say impassively. She stops in her tracks, and her foot hanging in the air to go forward is retracted and taken back. I notice fraction of a smile playing on Taylor’s lips. “How about your coffee, sir?” “Bring it in,” I say and walk into my office without waiting her response. I fire up my computer as I sit in my chair. Taylor takes his usual place in my office. As I open my e-mail application my Blackberry rings. I fish my Blackberry out of my pocket and check the caller ID. It’s Anastasia. Remembering the mood I left her with at SIP, I answer the phone with concern:

“Anastasia, are you alright?” “Yes. I’m given Jack Hyde’s job to be in charge for the time being,” she says in one breath. Huh... I expected Roach to keep Anastasia at SIP, but, I didn’t expect Anastasia to get a temporary promotion. “You must be joking,” I say completely surprised. But what Anastasia asks me next stuns me more. “Did you have anything to do with my new promotion?” she questions me sharply. “No, nothing at all. I don’t want to be mean or anything, but you’ve only been at SIP a week or so.” I had not expected Roach to hand her Hyde position even temporarily. “Yes, that’s what’s confusing. Incidentally, I’m told that Jack Hyde really rated me,” she says making all my muscles go rigid. Of course he rated her. He was ready to dive into her panties up until last night to give her the perfect score! Hyde’s name changes my demeanor to arctic levels; I could freeze the coffee Andrea’s bringing me in. “Did he now?” I mutter in a glacial tone. But, I don’t want fucker’s name clouding our mood today. This is something to celebrate. I’m first to admit that Anastasia is a talented girl. I nod at Andrea, and she walks out quickly. “Well baby, if they think you can do the job, I’m quite sure you are capable of doing it. Congratulations! How would you like to go to a celebratory dinner after we’ve seen Flynn?”

“Hmm...” she says mulling over what I had just proposed us to do. “Are you absolutely sure this isn’t your doing?” she asks suspiciously. Her suspicion makes me upset immediately. I’m always truthful to her. I told her I didn’t have anything to do with her promotion. Why does she question my sincerity? I count in my head to ward off my temper. Ten... Nine... Eight... Seven... Six... Five... Four... Three... Two... One... Fuck! Still fuming! “Do you doubt me Anastasia?” I hiss angrily. “It’s maddening that you do!” She pauses for a second over the phone, and finally chastised, apologizes. “I’m sorry for doubting you, Christian,” she breathes softly. Her response softens my heart. “Anastasia...” I coax softly. “If you need anything, I’m here for you. You let me know please. And, Ana?” “What?” she asks. “Use your Blackberry at all times,” I remind her in a brusque tone. She sighs, and answers. “Yes, Christian.” Finally Anastasia is agreeing to something without any qualms about it. And actually she sounds obedient. I ravel in this momentary solitude. I’ll take whatever I get from my untrusting girlfriend. Just with those two frigging simple words she melts my heart. “I mean it baby... If you need me, I’m here for you.” “I know Christian. Thank you. I love you,” she says and all is right in my world. I grin like an idiot, possibly making Tay