Read Darker Online

Authors: E L James

Darker (31 page)

“Really? I don’t think we’ll save much money.”

“Just call Roach. Make it happen. Immediately.”

“What’s brought this on?”

“Just do it, Ros.”

She sighs. “If you insist. Do you want me to add it to the contract?”

“Yes.”

“Okay.”

“Thanks.” I hang up.

There. Now, that should put a stop to Ana and New York. Besides, I’d like to take her there myself. She told me yesterday that she’s never been there.

There’s a ping and Ana has responded.

From:
Anastasia Steele

Subject:
No YOU haven’t seen shouty yet.

Date:
June 13 2011 09:46

To:
Christian Grey

Yes. It is with Jack.

I want to go. It’s an exciting opportunity for me.

And I have never been to New York.

Don’t get your knickers in a twist.

Anastasia Steele

Assistant to Jack Hyde, Editor, SIP

I’m about to reply when I hear a knock. “What?” I bark.

Montana pokes her head around the door and lingers, which is especially irritating—either come in or don’t. “Mr. Grey, the registry for Andrea…”

For a moment I have no idea what she’s talking about.

“It’s at Crate and Barrel,” she continues, simpering.

“Okay.” What the hell am I supposed to do with that information?

“I’ve made a list of the items still available and their prices.”

“E-mail it to me,” I say through gritted teeth. “And get me another coffee.”

“Yes, Mr. Grey.” She smiles as if we’re discussing the fucking weather and shuts the door.

Now I can respond to Miss Steele.

From:
Christian Grey

Subject:
No YOU haven’t seen shouty yet.

Date:
June 13 2011 09:50

To:
Anastasia Steele

Anastasia

It’s not my fucking knickers I am worried about.

The answer is NO.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.

Montana places another macchiato on my desk. “You have a meeting at ten with Barney and Fred in the lab,” she says.

“Thanks, I’ll take my coffee with me.” I know I sound surly. But right now a certain blue-eyed woman is getting under my skin. Montana leaves and I take a sip of coffee.

Fuck. Shit.

It’s scalding hot.

I drop the cup, the coffee, everything.

Hell.

Fortunately, it misses me and my keyboard, but it’s all over the damn floor.

“Ms. Brooks!” I yell. Jesus, I wish Andrea was here.

Montana pops her head around the door. Neither in. Nor out. And still wearing too much freshly applied lipstick.

“I’ve just dropped my coffee all over the floor because it was scalding hot. Get it cleaned up, please.”

“Oh, Mr. Grey. I’m so sorry.”

She scurries in to survey the mess and I leave her to deal with it. For a moment I wonder whether she might have done this on purpose.

Grey, you’re paranoid.

I grab my phone and decide to take the stairs.

Barney and Fred are sitting at the lab table.

“Good morning, gentlemen.”

“Mr. Grey,” Fred says. “Barney’s cracked it.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. The cover.”

“We put this through the 3D printer, and voila.”

He hands me a compact, hinged plastic cover that’s attached to the tablet. “This is great,” I say. “This must have taken you all weekend.” I stare at Barney.

He shrugs. “Nothing better to do.”

“You need to get out more, Barney. But this is good work. Is that all you wanted to show me?”

“We could easily adapt it and put this on a mobile phone cover, too.”

“I’d like to see that.”

“I’ll get on it.”

“Great. Anything else?”

“That’s it for now, Mr. Grey.”

“Might be worth showing the 3D printer to the mayor when he visits.”

“We’ve got quite the show planned for him,” says Fred.

“Without giving anything away,” adds Barney.

“Sounds great. Thanks for the show-and-tell. I’ll head back upstairs.”

Waiting for the elevator, I check my e-mail. There’s a reply from Ana.

From:
Anastasia Steele

Subject:
Fifty Shades

Date:
June 13 2011 09:55

To:
Christian Grey

Christian

You need to get a grip.

I am 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.

Ana

Anastasia Steele

Assistant to Jack Hyde, Editor, SIP

What the hell!
I told her the e-mails at SIP were monitored.

We stop at several floors and I try, really try, to contain my anger. There’s that irritating, expectant hush within the elevator as my staff enter and exit, because I’m in there.

“Good morning, Mr. Grey.”

“Good morning, Mr. Grey.”

I nod my hellos.

But I’m not in the mood.

Beneath my polite smile, my blood is simmering.

As soon as I’m back in my office I check her work number and call her.

“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 circumspect in the language you use in your work e-mail? I told you, the system is monitored. I will endeavor to do some damage limitation from here,” I snarl and hang up.

I call Barney.

“Mr. Grey.”

“Can you delete Miss Anastasia Steele’s e-mail to me at nine fifty-five from the SIP server and all mine to her?”

There’s silence at the other end of the phone.

“Barney?”

“Um. Sure, Mr. Grey, I was just working out how I can do it. I have an idea.”

“Great. Let me know when it’s done.”

“Yes, sir.”

My phone lights up.
Anastasia.

“What?” I answer, and I think she can tell I’m more than grumpy.

“I am going to New York whether you like it or not.”

“Don’t count on it.”

Silence.

“Ana?”

She’s hung up on me.

Fuck.
Again.

Who does that?

Well, I might have just done it to her, but that’s not the point.

And I remember she did it when she drunk-dialed me.

I put my head in my hands.

Ana. Ana. Ana.

My office phone buzzes.

“Grey.”

“Mr. Grey, Barney. It was much easier than I thought. Those e-mails are no longer on the SIP server.”

“Thanks, Barney.”

“No worries, Mr. Grey.”

At least something is going right.

There’s a knock on the door.

What now?

Montana opens the door; she’s holding a can of carpet cleaner and some tissue.

“Later,” I snap. I’ve had enough of her. She quickly reverses out of the office. I take a deep breath. Today is turning into a shit day and it’s not even lunchtime. There’s another e-mail from Ana.

From:
Anastasia Steele

Subject:
What have you done?

Date:
June 13 2011 10:43

To:
Christian Grey

Please tell me you won’t interfere with my work.

I really want to go to this conference.

I shouldn’t have to ask you.

I have deleted the offending e-mail.

Anastasia Steele

Assistant to Jack Hyde, Editor, SIP

I respond immediately.

From:
Christian Grey

Subject:
What have you done?

Date:
June 13 2011 10:46

To:
Anastasia Steele

I am just protecting what is mine.

The e-mail that you so rashly sent is wiped from the SIP server now, as are my e-mails to you.

Incidentally, I trust you implicitly. It’s him I don’t trust.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.

Her response is almost as immediate.

From:
Anastasia Steele

Subject:
Grown Up

Date:
June 13 2011 10:48

To:
Christian Grey

Christian

I don’t need protecting from my own boss.

He may make a pass at me, but I would say no.

You cannot interfere. It’s wrong and controlling on so many levels.

Anastasia Steele

Assistant to Jack Hyde, Editor, SIP

“Controlling” is my middle name, Ana. I think I’ve told you this already, along with “unreasonable” and “weird.”

From:
Christian Grey

Subject:
The Answer is NO

Date:
June 13 2011 10:50

To:
Anastasia Steele

Ana

I have seen how “effective” you are at fighting off unwanted attention. I remember that’s how I had the pleasure of spending my first night with you. At least the photographer has feelings for you. The sleazeball, on the other hand, does not. He is a serial philanderer, and he will try to seduce you. Ask him what happened to his previous PA and the one before that.

I don’t want to fight about this.

If you want to go to New York, I’ll take you. We can go this weekend. I have an apartment there.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.

She doesn’t reply immediately, and I distract myself with phone calls.

Welch has nothing new on Leila. We discuss whether or not to involve the police at this stage; I’m still reluctant to do it.

“She’s close, Mr. Grey,” Welch says.

“She’s clever. She’s managed to evade us so far.”

“We’re watching your place, SIP, Grey House. She won’t slip past us again.”

“I hope she doesn’t. And thanks for the report on Hyde.”

“You’re welcome. I can dig deeper if you wish.”

“It’s fine for now. But I may get back to you.”

“Okay, sir.”

“Bye.” I hang up.

My phone buzzes before I’ve let go of the receiver. “I have your mother on the line,” Montana chirps in a singsong voice.

Shit.
That’s all I need. I’m still a little pissed at my mom and her comment about Ana being after my money.

“Put her through,” I mutter.

“Christian, darling,” Grace says.

“Hello, Mother.”

“Darling, I just wanted to apologize for what I said on Saturday. You know I think the world of Ana, it’s just…all of this is so sudden.”

“It’s fine.” But it’s not fine.

She’s quiet for a moment and I think she’s doubting the sincerity of my response.

However, I’m already arguing with one woman in my life; I don’t want to argue with another. “Grace?”

“Sorry, darling. It’s your birthday on Saturday and we wanted to organize a party.”

On my computer screen an e-mail from Ana appears.

“Mom, I can’t talk now. I have to go.”

“Okay, call me.” She sounds melancholy, but I don’t have time for her right now.

“Yes. Sure.”

“Bye, Christian.”

“Bye.” I hang up.

From:
Anastasia Steele

Subject:
FW Lunch date or Irritating Baggage

Date:
June 13 2011 11:15

To:
Christian Grey

Christian

While you have been busy interfering in my career and saving your ass from my careless missives, I received the following e-mail from Mrs. Lincoln. I really don’t want to meet with her—even if I did, I am not allowed to leave this building. How she got hold of my e-mail address, I don’t know. What would you suggest I do? Her e-mail is below:

Dear Anastasia, I would really like to have lunch with you. I think we got off on the wrong foot, and I’d like to make that right. Are you free sometime this week?

Elena Lincoln

Anastasia Steele

Assistant to Jack Hyde, Editor, SIP

Oh, this day just gets better and better. What the hell is Elena doing now? And Ana is calling me out on my shit as usual.

I didn’t know arguing could be so tiresome. And discouraging. And worrying. She’s mad at me.

From:
Christian Grey

Subject:
Irritating Baggage

Date:
June 13 2011 11:23

To:
Anastasia Steele

Don’t be mad at me. I have your best interests at heart.

If anything happened to you, I would never forgive myself.

I’ll deal with Mrs. Lincoln.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.

Irritating baggage?
I smile for the first time since I left Ana this morning. She has a way with words.

I call Elena.

“Christian,” she answers on the fifth ring.

“Do I have to get a banner and attach it to a plane and fly it over your office?”

She laughs. “My e-mail?”

“Yes, Ana sent it to me. Please. Leave her alone. She doesn’t want to see you. And I understand and respect that. You’re making my life really difficult.”

“You understand her?”

“Yes.”

“I think she needs to know how hard you are on yourself.”

“No. She doesn’t need to know anything.”

“You sound exhausted.”

“I’m just tired of you going behind my back and chasing my girlfriend.”

“Girlfriend?”

“Yes. Girlfriend. Get used to it.”

She sighs long and hard.

“Elena. Please.”

“Okay, Christian, it’s your funeral.”

What the fuck?

“I have to go,” I answer.

“Good-bye,” she says, and she sounds annoyed.

“Bye.” I hang up.

The women in my life are vexing. I turn in my chair and stare out of the window. The rain is relentless. The sky is dark and drab, reflecting my mood. Life has become complicated. It used to be easier when everything and everyone stayed where I placed them, in their designated compartments. Now, with Ana, everything’s changed. This is all new, and so far everyone, including my mother, seems to be pissed at me or pissing me off.

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