Read Darker Online

Authors: E L James

Darker (32 page)

When I turn to face my computer there’s another e-mail from Ana.

From:
Anastasia Steele

Subject:
Laters

Date:
June 13 2011 11:32

To:
Christian Grey

Can we please discuss this tonight?

I am trying to work, and your continued interference is very distracting.

Anastasia Steele

Assistant to Jack Hyde, Editor, SIP

Okay. I’ll leave you alone.

What I really want to do is go over to her office and take her somewhere splendid for lunch. But I don’t think she’d appreciate that.

With a heavy sigh, I open the e-mail that lists Andrea’s bridal registry. Pots, pans, dishes—nothing appeals to me. And again I wonder why she didn’t tell me about her nuptials.

Feeling morose, I call Flynn’s office and make an appointment to see him later this afternoon. It’s overdue. Then I summon Montana and ask her to go and buy me a wedding card and some lunch. Surely she can’t screw that up.

AS I’M EATING MY
lunch, Taylor calls.

“Taylor.”

“Mr. Grey, everything’s okay.”

My heart goes into overdrive as adrenaline powers through my body.

Ana.

“What is it? Is Ana okay?”

“She’s fine, sir.”

“Do you have news on Leila?”

“No, sir.”

“Then what is it?”

“I’m just letting you know that Ana went to the deli on Union Square. She’s back in the office. She’s fine.”

“Thank you for letting me know. Anything else?

“The Saab will be here this afternoon.”

“Great.” I put the phone down and try, really try, not to be mad as hell. I fail. She told me she’d stay put.

Leila could put a bullet through her.

Doesn’t she understand that?

I call her.

“Jack Hyde’s office—”

“You assured me you wouldn’t go out.”

“Jack sent me out for some lunch. I couldn’t say no. Are you having me watched?” She sounds incredulous.

I ignore her question. “This is why I didn’t want you going back to work.”

“Christian, please. You’re being so suffocating.”

“Suffocating?”

“Yes. You have to stop this. I’ll talk to you this evening. Unfortunately, I have to work late because I can’t go to New York.”

“Anastasia, I don’t want to suffocate you.”

“Well, you are. I have work to do. I’ll talk to you later.” She sounds as miserable as I feel and she hangs up.

I’m suffocating her?

Maybe I am…

I just want to protect her. I saw what Leila did to her car.

Don’t push her too far, Grey.

She’ll leave.

FLYNN HAS A REAL
log fire burning in his office. It’s June. It spits and crackles as we talk.

“You bought the company where she works?” Flynn asks with raised eyebrows.

“Yes.”

“I think Ana has a point. I’m not surprised she feels suffocated.”

I shift in my chair. This is not what I want to hear. “I wanted to get into publishing.”

Flynn remains impassive, giving nothing away, waiting for me to speak.

“It’s over the top, isn’t it?” I concede.

“Yes.”

“She wasn’t impressed.”

“Did you set out to impress her?”

“No. That wasn’t my intention. Anyway, SIP is mine now.”

“I understand that you’re trying to protect her, and I know why you’re trying to do that. But this is an out-of-the-ordinary reaction. You have a bank account that allows you to do this, but you will drive her away if you continue on this path.”

“That’s what I’m worried about.”

“Christian, you have a great deal to contend with at the moment. Leila Williams—and yes, I will help you when you find her—Anastasia’s animosity toward Elena…I think you can understand why Ana feels that way.” He gives me a pointed look.

I shrug, unwilling to agree with him.

“But there’s something much bigger you’re not telling me, and I’ve been waiting for you to tell me since you arrived here. I saw it on Saturday.”

I stare at him, wondering what he’s talking about. He sits patiently. Waiting.

He saw it on Saturday?

The bidding?

The dancing?

Shit.

“I’m in love with Ana.”

“Thank you. I know.”

“Oh.”

“I could have told you that when you came to see me after she left you. I’m glad you worked it out for yourself.”

“I didn’t know I was capable of feeling like this.”

“Of course you’re capable.” He sounds exasperated. “That’s why I was so interested in your reaction when she told you that she loved you.”

“It’s getting easier to hear.”

He smiles. “Good. I’m glad.”

“I’ve always been able to separate the different aspects of my life. My work. My family. My sex life. I understood what each of these meant to me. But since I met Ana, it’s not as simple anymore. It’s entirely unfamiliar and I feel out of my depth and out of control.”

“Welcome to falling in love.” Flynn smiles. “And don’t be too hard on yourself. You have an ex on the loose with a gun who has already tried to get your attention by attempting suicide in front of your housekeeper. And she’s vandalized Ana’s car. You’ve put measures in place to keep Ana and you safe. You’ve done all you can. You can’t be everywhere, and you can’t keep Ana locked up.”

“I want to.”

“I know you do. But you can’t. Simple.”

I shake my head, but deep down I know John’s right.

“Christian, I’ve long held the belief that you never really had an adolescence—emotionally speaking. I think you’re experiencing it now. I can see how agitated you are,” he continues, “and since you won’t let me prescribe you any anti-anxiety medication, I’d like you to try the relaxation techniques we discussed.”

Oh, not that shit.
I roll my eyes, but I know I’m behaving like a sulky teenager. He just said as much.

“Christian, it’s your blood pressure. Not mine.”

“Okay.” I hold my hands up in surrender. “I’ll try my
happy
place.” I sound sarcastic, but it will appease John, who’s looking at the clock.

Where is my happy place?

My childhood in the orchard.

Sailing or soaring. Always.

It used to be with Elena.

But now my happy place is with Ana.

In Ana.

Flynn stifles a smile. “Time’s up,” he says.

FROM THE BACK OF
the Audi, I call Ana.

“Hi,” she says, her voice quiet and breathy.

“Hi. When will you be finished?”

“By seven thirty, I think.”

“I’ll meet you outside.”

“Okay.”

Thank God—I thought she might say she wanted to go back to her own apartment.

“I’m still mad at you, but that’s all,” she whispers. “We have a lot to talk about.”

“I know. See you at seven thirty.”

“I have to go. See you later.” She hangs up.

“Let’s sit here and wait for her,” I say to Taylor, and glance at the front door of SIP.

“Okay, sir.”

And I sit and listen to the rain as it drums an uneven tattoo on the roof of the car, drowning out my thoughts. Drowning out my happy place.

AN HOUR LATER,
the door to SIP opens and there she is. Taylor climbs out of the car and opens the door as Ana hurries toward us, head down to avoid the rain.

I have no idea what she’s going to do or say as she shuffles in beside me, but she’s shaking her head and scattering droplets of water over me and the backseat.

I want to hold her.

“Hi,” she says, and her anxious eyes meet mine.

“Hi,” I respond and, reaching over, I grasp her hand and squeeze it.

“Are you still mad?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” she says.

I bring her hand to my lips and kiss each knuckle in turn. “It’s been a shitty day.”

“Yes, it has.” Her shoulders slump and she seems to relax into the car seat as she lets out a deep breath.

“It’s better now that you’re here.” I run my thumb across her knuckles, craving the contact. As Taylor drives us home, the day’s woes seem to dissipate and at last I start to relax.

She’s here. She’s safe.

She’s with me.

Taylor stops outside Escala and I’m not sure why. But Ana is already opening the door, so I jump out after her and we run into the building and out of the rain. I grasp her hand as we wait for the elevator, surveying the street through the plate glass. Just in case.

“I take it you haven’t found Leila yet,” Ana says.

“No. Welch is still looking for her.”

We step into the elevator and the doors close. Ana looks up at me, elfin-faced, and wide-eyed—I can’t look away. Our gaze holds my longing and her need. She licks her lips. A come-on.

And suddenly our attraction is in the air between us, like static, surrounding us.

“Do you feel it?” I whisper.

“Yes.”

“Oh, Ana.” I cannot bear the distance between us. I reach for her so she’s in my arms and angle her head. My lips seek and find hers. She groans into my mouth, her fingers in my hair as I push her against the elevator wall. “I hate arguing with you.” I want every inch of her. Right here. Right now. To know that we’re okay.

Ana’s response is immediate. Her hunger and passion are unleashed in our kiss, her tongue demanding and urgent. Her body rises and presses against mine, seeking relief as I lift up her skirt, my fingertips skimming her thigh and feeling lace and warm, warm flesh. “Sweet Jesus, you’re wearing stockings.” My voice is hoarse as I slide my thumb across her stocking line. “I want to see this.” And I pull her skirt right up so I can see the tops of her thighs.

I step back to enjoy the view and press the elevator’s emergency stop button. I’m panting. I’m wanting, and she stands there like the fucking goddess she is, staring me down, her eyes dark, carnal, her breasts rising and falling as she drags air into her lungs.

“Take your hair down.”

Ana yanks at her hair tie and her hair spills down over her shoulders and curls at her breasts. “Undo the top two buttons of your shirt,” I whisper, growing harder and harder. Her lips parted, she reaches up and slowly, too slowly, undoes the first one. Pausing for a beat, she lowers her fingers to the second button and undoes it. Unhurried. Tantalizing me further and finally revealing the soft swell of her breasts.

“Do you have any idea how alluring you look right now?” I hear the need in my voice.

She sinks her teeth into her bottom lip and shakes her head.

I think I’m going to explode. I close my eyes and try to bring my body to heel. Stepping forward, I place my hands on the wall on either side of her face. She tilts her face up, and her eyes meet mine.

I lean closer. “I think you do, Miss Steele. I think you like to drive me wild.”

“Do I drive you wild?”

“In all things, Anastasia. You are a siren, a goddess.” I reach down and grasp her leg above her knee and hitch it up around my waist. Slowly I lean down, pressing my body into hers. My erection sitting at the sacred junction of her thighs. I kiss her throat, my tongue tasting and savoring her. She wraps her arms around my neck and she arches her back, pressing into me.

“I’m going to take you now.” I groan and lift her higher. Grabbing a condom from my pocket, I undo my fly. “Hold tight, baby.”

She tightens her arms around my neck and I show her the condom. She bites down on the corner and I tug, and together we rip open the foil packet.

“Good girl.”

I step back a little and manage to slide on the damn condom. “God, I can’t wait for the next six days.”

No more condoms.

I run my thumb over her underwear.

Lace. Good.

“I do hope you’re not overly fond of these panties.” And the only reply is her heavy breathing in my ear. I push my thumbs through the seam at the back and they tear apart, allowing me access to my happy place.

With my eyes on hers, I take her, slowly.

Fuck, she feels good.

She arches her back and closes her eyes and groans.

I pull back and sink slowly into her once more.

This is what I want.

This is what I needed.

After such a shitty day.

She didn’t run.

She’s here.

For me.

With me.

“You’re mine, Anastasia.” The words wash against her throat.

“Yes. Yours. When will you accept that?” Her words are a sigh. And it’s what I want to hear. What I need to hear. I take her, fast, furious. I need her. With each little cry, each pant, each tug of my hair, I know she needs me, too. I lose myself in her and I feel her spiral out of control. “Oh, baby,” I moan, and she comes around me, crying out, and I follow, whispering her name.

I kiss her, holding her, as my composure returns. We are forehead to forehead and her eyes are closed. “Oh, Ana, I need you so much.” I close my eyes and kiss her forehead, thankful that I’ve found her.

“And I you, Christian,” she whispers.

I release her and straighten her skirt and I do up the top two buttons of her shirt. I punch the override code into the elevator keypad and it jolts to life. “Taylor will be wondering where we are.” I give her a wicked grin and she tries in vain to smooth out her hair. After a few futile attempts she gives up and opts for a ponytail.

“You’ll do,” I reassure her, and zip up my fly and slip the condom and her ruined panties into my pocket for disposal later.

Taylor is waiting when the doors open.

“Problem with the elevator,” I say as we step out, but I avoid eye contact with him. Ana scampers off to the bedroom, no doubt to freshen up, and I make my way into the kitchen, where Mrs. Jones is preparing dinner.

“The Saab is here, Mr. Grey,” Taylor says, having followed me into the kitchen.

“Great. I’ll let Ana know.”

“Sir.” He smiles. He and Gail exchange a look before he turns to leave.

“Good evening, Gail,” I say, ignoring their look, as I slip off my jacket. I hang it on the barstool and sit down at the counter.

“Good evening, Mr. Grey. Dinner will be ready shortly.”

“Smells good.”

Damn, I’m hungry.

Other books

The Dawn Star by Catherine Asaro
My Education by Susan Choi
In the Eye of a Storm by Mary Mageau
Practice Makes Perfect by Sarah Title
Her Every Wish by Courtney Milan
Mensaje en una botella by Nicholas sparks
The Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears
Emancipating Andie by Glenn, Priscilla