Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey CHAPTER 22


CHAPTER 22

I am manicured, massaged, and I’ve had two glasses of champagne. The First Class lounge has many redeeming features. With each sip of Moet, I feel slightly more inclined to forgive Christian and his intervention. I open up my MacBook, hoping to test the theory that it works anywhere on the planet.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Over-Extravagant Gestures
Date: May 30 2011 21:53
To: Christian Grey
Dear Mr. Grey
What really alarms me is how you knew which flight I was on.
Your stalking knows no bounds. Let’s hope that Dr. Flynn is back from vacation.
I have had a manicure, a back massage, and two glasses of champagne – a very nice start to my vacation.
Thank you.
Ana
From: Christian Grey
Subject: You’re Most Welcome
Date: May 30 2011 21:59
To: Anastasia Steele
Dear Miss Steele
Dr. Flynn is back, and I have an appointment this week.
Who was massaging your back?
Christian Grey
CEO with friends in the right places, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
Aha! Pay back time. Our flight has been called so I shall email him from the plane. It will be safer. I almost hug myself with mischievous glee.
There is so much room in first class. Champagne cocktail in hand, I settle myself into the sumptuous leather window seat as the cabin slowly fills. I call Ray to tell him where I am – a mercifully brief call, as it’s so late for him.
“Love you, Dad,” I murmur.
“You too, Annie. Say hi to your mom. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight.” I hang up.
Ray is in good form. I stare at my Mac and with the same childish glee building. Opening my laptop, I log into the email program.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Strong Able Hands
Date: May 30 2011 22:22
To: Christian Grey
Dear Sir
A very pleasant young man massaged my back. Yes. Very pleasant indeed. I wouldn’t have encountered Jean-Paul in the ordinary departure lounge – so thank you again for that treat. I’m not sure if I’ll be allowed to email once we take off, and I need my beauty sleep since I’ve not been sleeping so well recently.
Pleasant dreams Mr. Grey… thinking of you.
Ana
Oh, he’s going to flip out – and I shall be airborne and out of reach. Serves him right. If I’d been in the ordinary departure lounge then Jean-Paul wouldn’t have gotten his hands on me. He was a very nice young man, in a blonde, perma-tanned way – honestly, who has a tan in Seattle? It’s just so wrong. I think he was gay – but I’ll just keep that detail to myself. I stare at my email. Kate is right. It is like shooting fish in a barrel with him. My subconscious stares at me with an ugly twist to her mouth – do you really want to wind him up? What he’s done is sweet, you know! He cares about you and wants you to travel in
style. Yes, but he could have asked me or told me. Not made me look like a complete klutz at check-in. I press send and wait, feeling like a very naughty girl.
“Miss Steele, you’ll need to stow your laptop for take-off,” the over-made-up flight attendant says politely. She makes me jump. My guilty conscience is at work.
“Oh, sorry.”
Crap. Now I’ll have to wait to know if he’s replied. She hands me a soft blanket and pillow, showing her perfect teeth. I drape the blanket over my knees. It’s nice to feel mollycoddled sometimes.
The cabin has filled up, except for the seat beside me which is still unoccupied. Oh no… a disturbing thought crosses my mind. Perhaps the seat is Christian’s. Oh shit… no… he wouldn’t do that. Would he? I told him I didn’t want him to come with me. I glance anxiously at my watch and then the disembodied voice from the flight deck announces,
“Cabin crew, doors to automatic and cross check.”
What does that mean? Are they closing the doors? My scalp prickles as I sit in palpitating anticipation. The seat next to me is the only unoccupied one in the sixteen-seat cabin. The plane jolts as it pulls away from its stand, and I breathe a sigh of relief but feel a faint tingle of disappointment too… no Christian for four days. I take a sneak peek at my BlackBerry.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Enjoy it While You Can
Date: May 30 2011 22:25
To: Anastasia Steele
Dear Miss Steele
I know what you’re trying to do – and trust me – you’ve succeeded. Next time you’ll be in the cargo hold, bound and gagged in a crate. Believe me when I say that attending to you in that state will give me so much more pleasure than merely upgrading your ticket.
I look forward to your return.
Christian Grey
Palm-Twitching CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
Holy crap. That’s the problem with Christian’s humor – I can be never be sure if he’s joking or if he’s seriously angry. I suspect on this occasion he’s seriously angry. Surreptitiously, so the flight attendant can’t see, I type a reply under the blanket.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Joking?
Date: May 30 2011 22:30
To: Christian Grey
You see – I have no idea if you’re joking – and if you’re not – then I think I’ll stay in Georgia. Crates are a hard limit for me. Sorry I made you mad. Tell me you forgive me.
A
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Joking
Date: May 30 2011 22:31
To: Anastasia Steele
How can you be emailing? Are you risking the life of everyone on board, including yourself, by using your BlackBerry? I think that contravenes one of the rules.
Christian Grey
Two Palms Twitching CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
Two palms! I put my BlackBerry away, sit back while the plane taxis to the runway, and pull out my tattered copy of Tess – some light reading for the journey. Once we’re airborne, I tip my seat back, and soon I’m drifting off to sleep.
The flight attendant wakes me as we start our descent into Atlanta. Local time is 5:45 a.m., but I’ve only had four hours sleep or so… I feel groggy, but grateful for the glass of orange juice she hands me. I glance nervously at my BlackBerry. There are no further emails from Christian. Well, it’s nearly three in the morning in Seattle, and he probably wants to discourage me from screwing up the avionics system, or whatever prevents planes from flying if mobile phones are switched on.
The wait in Atlanta is only an hour. And again I’m luxuriating in the confines of the first class lounge. I am tempted to curl up and go to sleep on one of the plush, inviting couches that sink softly under my weight. But it will just not be long enough. To keep myself awake, I start a long steam of consciousness to Christian on my laptop.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Do you like to scare me?
Date: May 31 2011 06:52 EST
To: Christian Grey
You know how much I dislike you spending money on me. Yes, you’re very rich, but still it makes me uncomfortable, like you’re paying me for sex. However, I like traveling first class, it’s so much more civilized than coach. So thank you. I mean it – and I did enjoy the massage from Jean Paul. He was very gay. I omitted that bit in my email to you to wind you up, because I was annoyed with you, and I’m sorry about that.
But as usual you overreact. You can’t write things like that to me – bound and gagged in a crate – (Were you serious or was it a joke?) That scares me… you scare me… I am completely caught up in your spell, considering a lifestyle with you that I didn’t even know
existed until last Saturday week, and then you write something like that and I want to run screaming into the hills. I won’t, of course, because I’d miss you. Really miss you. I want us to work, but I am terrified of the depth of feeling I have for you and the dark path you’re leading me down. What you are offering is erotic and sexy, and I’m curious, but I’m also scared you’ll hurt me – physically and emotionally. After three months you could say goodbye, and where will that leave me if you do? But then I suppose that risk is there in any relationship. This just isn’t the sort of relationship I ever envisaged having, especially as my first. It’s a huge leap of faith for me.
You were right when you said I didn’t have a submissive bone in my body… and I agree with you now. Having said that, I want to be with you, and if that’s what I have to do, I would like to try, but I think I’ll suck at it and end up black and blue – and I don’t relish that idea at all.
I am so happy that you have said that you will try more. I just need to think about what ‘more’ means to me, and that’s one of the reasons why I wanted some distance. You dazzle me so much I find it very difficult to think clearly when we’re together.
They are calling my flight. I have to go.
More later
Your Ana
I press send and make my way sleepily to the departure gate to board a different plane. This one has only six seats in first class, and once we are in the air, I curl up under my soft blanket and fall asleep.
All too soon, I’m woken by the flight attendant offering me more orange juice as we begin our approach to Savannah International. I sip slowly, beyond fatigued, and I allow myself to feel a modicum of excitement. I’m going to see my mother for the first time in six months. Sneaking another covert look at my BlackBerry, I remember vaguely that I sent a long rambling email to Christian – but there’s nothing in response. It’s five in the morning in Seattle – hopefully he’s still asleep and not up playing mournful laments on his piano.
The beauty of carry-on rucksacks is that one can breeze out of the airport and not wait endlessly for baggage at the carousels. The beauty of traveling first class is that they let you off the plane first.
My mom is waiting with Bob, and it is so good to see them. I don’t know if it’s because of exhaustion, the long journey, or the whole Christian situation, but as soon as I’m in my mother’s arms, I burst into tears.
“Oh Ana, honey. You must be so tired.” She glances anxiously at Bob.
“No Mom, it’s just – I’m so pleased to see you.” I hug her tightly.
She feels so good and welcoming and home. Reluctantly, I relinquish her, and Bob gives me an awkward one-armed hug. He seems unsteady on his feet, and I remember that he’s hurt his leg.
“Welcome back, Ana. Why you cryin’?” he asks.
“Aw, Bob, I’m just pleased to see you too.” I stare up into his handsome square-jawed face, and his twinkling blue eyes that gaze at me fondly. I like this husband, Mom. You can keep him. He takes my backpack.
“Jeez, Ana, what have you got in here?”
That will be the Mac, and they both put their arms around me as we head for the parking lot.
I always forget how unbearably hot it is in Savannah. Leaving the cool air-conditioned confines of the arrival terminal, we step into the Georgia heat like we’re wearing it. Whoa! It saps everything. I have to struggle out of Mom and Bob’s embrace so I can remove my hoodie. I am so glad I packed shorts. I miss the dry heat of Vegas sometimes, where I lived with Mom and Bob when I was seventeen, but this wet heat, even at 8:30 in the morning, takes some getting used to. By the time I’m in the back of Bob’s wonderfully air-conditioned Tahoe SUV, I feel limp, and my hair has started a frizzy protest at the heat. In the back of the SUV I quickly text Ray, Kate, and Christian:
*Arrived Safely in Savannah. A :)*
My thoughts stray briefly to José as I press send, and through the fog of my fatigue, I remember that it’s his show next week. Should I invite Christian knowing how he feels about José? Will Christian still want to see me after that email? I shudder at the thought, and then put it out of my mind. I’ll deal with that later. Right now I am going to enjoy my mom’s company.
“Honey, you must be tired. Would you like to sleep when we get home?”
“No, Mom. I’d like to go to the beach.”
I am in my blue halter neck tankini, sipping a Diet Coke, on a sun bed facing the Atlantic Ocean, and to think that only yesterday I was staring out at the Sound toward the Pacific. My mother lounges beside me in a ridiculously large floppy sun hat and Jackie O shades, sipping a Coke of her own. We are on Tybee Island Beach, just three blocks from home. She holds my hand. My fatigue has waned, and as I soak up the sun, I feel comfortable, safe, and warm. For the first time in forever, I start to relax.
“So Ana… tell me about this man who has you in such a spin.”
Spin! How can she tell? What to say? I can’t talk about Christian in any great detail because of the NDA, but even then, would I choose to talk to my mother about it? I blanch at the thought.
“Well?” she prompts and squeezes my hand.
“His name’s Christian. He’s beyond handsome. He’s wealthy… too wealthy. He’s very complicated and mercurial.”
Yes – I feel inordinately pleased with my concise, accurate summary. I turn on my side to face her, just as she makes the same move. She gazes at me with her crystal-clear blue eyes.
“Complicated and mercurial are the two pieces of information I want to concentrate on, Ana.”
Oh no…
“Oh, Mom, his mood-swings make me dizzy. He’s had a grim upbringing, so he’s very closed, difficult to gauge.”
“Do you like him?”
“I more than like him.”
“Really?” She gapes at me.
“Yes, Mom.”
“Men aren’t really complicated, Ana, honey. They are very simple, literal creatures. They usually mean what they say. And we spend hours trying to analyze what they’ve said – when really it’s obvious. If I were you, I’d take him literally. That might help.”
I gape at her. This sounds like good advice. Take Christian literally. Immediately some of the things he’s said spring into my mind.
I don’t want to lose you…
You’ve bewitched me…
You’ve completely beguiled me…
I’ll miss you too… more than you know...
I gaze at my mom. She is on her fourth marriage. Maybe she does know something about men after all.
“Most men are moody darling, some more than others. Take your father for instance…,” Her eyes soften and sadden whenever she thinks of my dad. My real dad, this mythical man I never knew, snatched so cruelly from us in a combat training accident when he was a marine. Part of me thinks my mom has been looking for someone like my dad all this time… maybe she’s finally found what she’s looking for in Bob. Pity she couldn’t find it with Ray.
“I used to think your father was moody. But now when I look back, I just think he was too caught up in his job and trying to make a life for us.” She sighs. “He was so young, we both were. Maybe that was the issue.”
Hmm… Christian is not exactly old. I smile fondly at her. She can become very soulful thinking about my father, but I’m sure he had nothing on Christian’s moods.
“Bob wants to take us out tonight for dinner. To his golf club.”
“Oh no! Bob’s started playing golf?” I scoff in disbelief.
“Tell me about it,” groans my mother, rolling her eyes.
After a light lunch back at the house, I start to unpack. I am going to treat myself to a siesta. My mother has disappeared to mold some candles or whatever she does with them, and Bob is at work, so I have time to catch up on some sleep. I open the Mac and fire it up. It’s two in the afternoon in Georgia, eleven in the morning in Seattle. I wonder if I have a reply from Christian. Nervously, I log into the email program.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Finally!
Date: May 31 2011 07:30
To: Anastasia Steele
Anastasia
I am annoyed that as soon as you put some distance between us, you communicate openly and honestly with me. Why can’t you do that when we’re together?
Yes, I’m rich. Get used to it. Why shouldn’t I spend money on you? We’ve told your father I’m your boyfriend, for heaven’s sake. Isn’t that what boyfriends do? As your Dom, I would expect you to accept whatever I spend on you with no argument. Incidentally, tell your mother too.
I don’t know how to answer your comment about feeling like a whore. I know that’s not what you’ve written, but it’s what you imply. I don’t know what I can say or do to eradicate these feelings. I’d like you to have the best of everything. I work exceptionally hard, so I can spend my money as I see fit. I could buy you your heart’s desire, Anastasia, and I want to. Call it redistribution of wealth if you will. Or simply know that I would not, could not ever think of you in the way you described, and I’m angry that’s how you perceive yourself. For such a bright, witty, beautiful young woman you have some real self-esteem issues, and I have a half a mind to make an appointment for you with Dr. Flynn.
I apologize for frightening you. I find the thought of instilling fear in you abhorrent. Do you really think I’d let you travel in the hold? I offered you my private jet for heaven’s sake. Yes it was a joke, a poor one obviously. However, the fact is – the thought of you bound and gagged turns me on (this is not a joke – it’s true). I can lose the crate – crates do nothing for me. I know you have issues with gagging, we’ve talked about that and if/when I do gag you, we’ll discuss it. What I think you fail to realize is that in Dom/sub relationships it is the sub that has all the power. That’s you. I’ll repeat this – you are the one with all the power. Not I. In the boathouse you said no. I can’t touch you if you say no – that’s why we have an agreement – what you will and won’t do. If we try things and you don’t like them, we can revise the agreement. It’s up to you – not me. And if you don’t want to be bound and gagged in a crate, then it won’t happen.
I want to share my lifestyle with you. I have never wanted anything so much. Frankly I’m in awe of you, that one so innocent would be willing to try. That says more to me than you could ever know. You fail to see I am caught in your spell, too, even though I have told you this countless times. I don’t want to lose you. I am nervous that you’ve flown three thousand miles to get away from me for a few days, because you can’t think clearly around me. It’s the same for me Anastasia. My reason vanishes when we’re together – that’s the depth of my feeling for you.
I understand your trepidation. I did try to stay away from you; I knew you were inexperienced, though I would never have pursued you if I had known exactly how innocent you were – and yet you still manage to disarm me completely in a way that nobody has before. Your email for example: I have read and re-read it countless times trying to understand your point of view. Three months is an arbitrary amount of time. We could make it six months, a year? How long do you want it to be? What would make you comfortable? Tell me.
I understand that this is a huge leap of faith for you. I have to earn your trust, but by the same token, you have to communicate with me when I am failing to do this. You seem so strong and self-contained, and then I read what you’ve written here, and I see another side to you. We have to guide each other Anastasia, and I can only take my cues from you. You have to be honest with me, and we have to both find a way to make this arrangement work.
You worry about not being submissive. Well maybe that’s true. Having said that, the only
time you do assume the correct demeanor for a sub is in the playroom. It seems that’s the one place where you let me exercise proper control over you, and the only place you do as you’re told. Exemplary is the term that comes to mind. And I’d never beat you black and blue. I aim for pink. Outside the playroom, I like that you challenge me. It’s a very novel and refreshing experience, and I wouldn’t want to change that. So yes, tell me what you want in terms of more. I will endeavor to keep an open mind, and I shall try and give you the space you need and stay away from you while you are in Georgia. I look forward to your next email.
In the meantime, enjoy yourself. But not too much.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
Holy crap. He’s written an essay like we’re back at school – and most of it good. My heart is in my mouth as I re-read his epistle, and I huddle on the spare bed practically hugging my Mac. Make our agreement a year? I have the power! Jeez, I’m going to have to think about that. Take him literally, that’s what my mother says. He doesn’t want to lose me. He’s said that twice! He wants to make this work too. Oh Christian, so do I! He’s going to try and stay away! Does this mean he might fail to stay away? Suddenly, I hope so. I want to see him. We’ve been apart less than twenty-four hours, and knowing that I can’t see him for four days, I realize how much I miss him. How much I love him.
“Ana, honey.” The voice is soft and warm, full of love and sweet memories of times gone by.
A gentle hand brushes my face. My mom wakes me, and I’m wrapped around my laptop, hugging it to me.
“Ana, sweetheart,” she continues in her soft singsong voice while I surface from sleep, blinking in the pale pink light of dusk.
“Hi, Mom.” I stretch out and smile.
“We’re going out for dinner in thirty minutes. You still want to come?” she asks kindly.
“Oh, yes, Mom, of course.” I try very hard, but fail to stifle my yawn.
“Now that’s an impressive piece of technology.” She points to my laptop.
Oh crap.
“Oh… this?” I strive for casual, surprised nonchalance.
Will Mom notice? She seems to have grown more astute since I acquired a ‘boyfriend’.
“Christian lent it to me. I think I could pilot the space shuttle with it, but I just use it for emails and Internet access.”
Really it’s nothing. Eyeing me suspiciously, she sits down on the bed and tucks a stray lock of hair behind my ear.
“Has he emailed you?”
Oh double crap.
“Yeah.” My nonchalance is wearing thin, and I flush.
“Perhaps he’s missing you, huh?”
“I hope so, Mom.”
“What does he say?”
Oh triple crap. I frantically try to think of something acceptable from that email I can tell my mother. I’m sure she doesn’t want to hear about Doms and bondage and gagging, but then I can’t tell her because there’s the NDA.
“He’s told me to enjoy myself, but not too much.”
“Sounds reasonable. I’ll leave you to get ready, honey.” Leaning over, she kisses my forehead. “I’m so glad you’re here, Ana. It’s wonderful to see you.” And with that loving statement, she leaves.
Hmm, Christian and reasonable… two concepts that I thought were mutually exclusive, but after his email, maybe all things are possible. I shake my head. I will need time to digest his words. Probably after dinner – and I can reply to him then. I climb out of bed and quickly slip out of my t-shirt and shorts, and head to the shower.
I have brought Kate’s gray halter-neck dress that I wore for my graduation. It’s the only dressy item I have. One good thing about the heat is that the creases have dropped out, so I think it will do for the golf club. As I dress, I wake the laptop up. There is nothing new from Christian, and I feel a stab of disappointment. Very quickly, I type him an email.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Verbose?
Date: May 31 2011 19:08 EST
To: Christian Grey
Sir, you are quite the loquacious writer. I have to go to dinner at Bob’s golf club, and just so you know, I am rolling my eyes at the thought. But you and your twitchy palm are a long way from me so my behind is safe, for now. I loved your email. Will respond when I can. I miss you already.
Enjoy your afternoon.
Your Ana
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Your behind
Date: May 31 2011 16:10
To: Anastasia Steele
Dear Miss Steele
I am distracted by the title of this email. Needless to say it is safe – for now.
Enjoy your dinner, and I miss you too, especially your behind and your smart mouth.
My afternoon will be dull, brightened only by thoughts of you and your eye rolling. I think it was you who so judiciously pointed out to me that I too suffer from that nasty habit.
Christian Grey
CEO & Eye Roller, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Eye Rolling
Date: May 31 2011 19:14 EST
To: Christian Grey
Dear Mr. Grey
Stop emailing me. I am trying to get ready for dinner. You are very distracting, even when you are on the other side of the continent. And yes – who spanks you when you roll your eyes?
Your Ana
I press send, and immediately the image of that evil witch Mrs. Robinson comes into my mind. I just can’t picture it. Christian being beaten by someone as old as my mother, it’s just so wrong. Again I wonder what damage she’s wrought. My mouth sets in a hard grim line. I need a doll to stick pins in, maybe that way I can vent some of the anger I feel at this stranger.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Your behind
Date: May 31 2011 16:18
To: Anastasia Steele
Dear Miss Steele
I still prefer my title to yours, in so many different ways. It is lucky that I am master of my own destiny and no one castigates me. Except my mother occasionally and Dr. Flynn, of course. And you.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Chastising… Me?
Date: May 31 2011 19:22 EST
To: Christian Grey
Dear Sir
When have I ever plucked up the nerve to chastise you, Mr. Grey? I think you are mixing me up with someone else… which is very worrying. I really do have to get ready.
Your Ana
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Your behind
Date: May 31 2011 16:25
To: Anastasia Steele
Dear Miss Steele
You do it all the time in print. Can I zip up your dress?
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
For some unknown reason, his words leap out of the page and make me gasp. Oh… he wants to play games.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: NC-17
Date: May 31 2011 19:28 EST
To: Christian Grey
I would rather you unzipped it.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Careful what you wish for…
Date: May 31 2011 16:31
To: Anastasia Steele
SO WOULD I.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Panting
Date: May 31 2011 19:33 EST
To: Christian Grey
Slowly…
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Groaning
Date: May 31 2011 16:35
To: Anastasia Steele
Wish I was there.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Moaning
Date: May 31 2011 19:37 EST
To: Christian Grey
SO DO I
“Ana!” My mother calls me, making me jump. Shit. Why do I feel so guilty?
“Just coming, Mom.”
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Moaning
Date: May 31 2011 19:39 EST
To: Christian Grey
Gotta go.
Laters, baby.
I dash into the hall where Bob and my mother are waiting. My mother frowns.
“Darling - are you feeling ok? You look at bit flushed.”
“Mom, I’m fine.”
“You look lovely, dear.”
“Oh, this is Kate’s dress. You like it?”
Her frown deepens.
“Why are you wearing Kate’s dress?”
Oh… no.
“Well I like this one and she doesn’t,” I improvise quickly.
She regards me shrewdly while Bob oozes impatience with his hangdog, hungry look.
“I’ll take you shopping tomorrow,” she says.
“Oh, Mom, you don’t need to do that. I have plenty of clothes.”
“Can’t I do something for my own daughter? Come on, Bob’s starving.”
“Too right,” moans Bob, rubbing his stomach and assuming a fake pained expression.
I giggle as he rolls his eyes, and we head out the door.
Later when I’m in the shower, cooling under the lukewarm water, I reflect on how much my mother has changed. Seeing her at dinner, she was in her element, funny and flirty and amongst many friends at the golf club. Bob was warm and attentive… they seem so good for each other. I’m really pleased for her. It means I can stop worrying about her and second-guessing her decisions and put the dark days of Husband Number Three behind us both. Bob is a keeper. And she’s giving me good advice. When did that start happening? Since I met Christian. Why is that?
When I’m done, I dry myself quickly, keen to get back to Christian. There’s an email waiting for me, sent just after I left for dinner a few hours ago.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Plagiarism
Date: May 31 2011 16:41
To: Anastasia Steele
You stole my line.
And left me hanging.
Enjoy your dinner.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Who are you to cry thief?
Date: May 31 2011 22:18 EST
To: Christian Grey
Sir, I think you’ll find it was Elliot’s line originally.
Hanging how?
Your Ana
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Unfinished Business
Date: May 31 2011 19:22
To: Anastasia Steele
Miss Steele
You’re back. You left so suddenly - just when things were getting interesting.
Elliot’s not very original. He’ll have stolen that line from someone.
How was dinner?
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Unfinished Business?
Date: May 31 2011 22:26 EST
To: Christian Grey
Dinner was filling – you’ll be very pleased to hear, I ate far too much.
Getting interesting? How?
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Unfinished Business - definitely
Date: May 31 2011 19:30
To: Anastasia Steele
Are you being deliberately obtuse? I think you’d just asked me to unzip your dress.
And I was looking forward to doing just that. I am also glad to hear you are eating.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Well… there’s always the weekend
Date: May 31 2011 22:36 EST
To: Christian Grey
Of course I eat… It’s only the uncertainty I feel around you that puts me off my food.
And I would never be unwittingly obtuse, Mr. Grey.
Surely you’ve worked that out by now ;)
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Can’t Wait
Date: May 31 2011 19:40
To: Anastasia Steele
I shall remember that, Miss Steele, and no doubt use the knowledge to my advantage.
I’m sorry to hear that I put you off your food. I thought I had a more concupiscent effect on you. That has been my experience, and most pleasurable it has been too.
I very much look forward to the next time.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Gymnastic Linguistics
Date: May 31 2011 22:36 EST
To: Christian Grey
Have you been playing with the thesaurus again?
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Rumbled
Date: May 31 2011 19:40
To: Anastasia Steele
You know me so well Miss Steele.
I am having dinner with an old friend now so I will be driving.
Laters, baby©
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
Which old friend? I didn’t think Christian had any old friends, except… her. I frown at the screen. Why does he have to still see her? Searing, green, bilious jealousy courses through me unexpectedly. I want to hit something, preferably Mrs. Robinson. Switching the laptop off in a temper, I clamber into bed.
I should really respond to his long email from this morning, but I’m suddenly too angry. Why can’t he see her for what she is – a child molester? I switch off the light, seething, staring into the darkness. How dare she? How dare she pick on a vulnerable adolescent? Is she still doing it? Why did they stop? Various scenarios filter through my mind: he had had enough, then why is he still friends with her? Ditto her – is she married? Divorced? Jeez – does she have children of her own? Does she have Christian’s children? My subconscious rears her ugly head, leering, and I’m shocked and nauseous at the thought. Does Dr. Flynn know about her?
I struggle out of bed and fire the mean machine up again. I am on a mission. I drum my fingers impatiently waiting for the blue screen to appear. I hit Google images and enter ‘Christian Grey’ into the search engine. The screen is suddenly littered with images of Christian: in black tie, be-suited, jeez – José’s pictures from the Heathman, in his white shirt and flannel trousers. How did they get on the Internet? Boy he looks good.
I move quickly on: some with business associates, then picture after glorious picture of the most photogenic man I know, intimately. Intimately? Do I know Christian intimately? I know him sexually, and I figure there’s a lot more to discover there. I know he’s moody, difficult, funny, cold, warm… jeez, the man is a walking mass of contradictions. I click to the next page. He’s still on his own in all these photographs, and I remember Kate mentioning that she couldn’t find any photographs of him with a date, prompting her gay question. Then, on the third page, there’s a picture of me, with him, at my graduation. His only picture with a woman, and it’s me.
Holy cow! I’m on Google! I stare at us together. I look surprised by the camera, nervous, off balance. This was just before I agreed to try. For his part, Christian looks impossibly handsome, calm and collected, and he’s wearing that tie. I gaze at him, such a
beautiful face, a beautiful face that could be staring at Mrs. Damned Robinson right now. I save the picture in my favorites and click through all eighteen screens… nothing. I won’t find Mrs. Robinson on Google. But I have to know if he’s with her. I type a quick email to Christian.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Suitable Dinner Companions
Date: May 31 2011 23:58 EST
To: Christian Grey
I hope you and your friend had a very pleasant dinner.
Ana
PS Was it Mrs. Robinson?
I press send and climb despondently back into bed, resolving to ask Christian about his relationship with that woman. Part of me is desperate to know more, and another part wants to forget he ever told me. And my period has started, so I must remember to take my pill in the morning. I quickly program an alarm into the calendar on my BlackBerry. Setting it aside on the bedside table, I lie down and eventually drift into an uneasy sleep, wishing that we were in the same city, not two and half thousand miles apart.
After a morning of shopping and an afternoon back at the beach, my mother has decreed we should spend the evening in a bar. Abandoning Bob to the TV, we find ourselves in the up-market bar of Savannah’s most exclusive hotel. I am on my second Cosmopolitan. My mother is on her third. She is offering more insights into the fragile male ego. It’s very disconcerting.
“You see, Ana, men think that anything that comes out of a woman’s mouth is a problem to be solved. Not some vague idea that we’d like to kick around and talk about for a while and then forget. Men prefer action.”
“Mom, why are telling me this?” I ask, failing to hide my exasperation. She’s been like this all day.
“Darling, you sound so lost. You’ve never brought a boy home. You never even had a boyfriend when we were in Vegas. I thought something might develop with that guy you met in college, José.”
“Mom, José’s just a friend.”
“I know, sweetheart. But something’s up, and I don’t think you’re telling me everything.” She gazes at me, her face etched with motherly concern.
“I just needed some distance from Christian to get my thoughts straight… that’s all. He tends to overwhelm me.”
“Overwhelm?”
“Yeah. I miss him though.” I frown.
I have not heard from Christian all day. No emails, nothing. I am tempted to call him to see if he’s okay. My worst fear is that he’s been in a car accident, my second worst fear is that Mrs. Robinson has got her evil claws into him again. I know it’s irrational, but where she’s concerned, I seem to have lost all sense of perspective.
“Darling, I have to visit the powder room.”
My mother’s brief absence allows me another chance to check my BlackBerry. I have been trying surreptitiously to check emails all day. Finally – a response from Christian!
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Dinner Companions
Date: June 1 2011 21:40 EST
To: Anastasia Steele
Yes, I had dinner with Mrs. Robinson. She is just an old friend, Anastasia.
Looking forward to seeing you again. I miss you.
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
He was having dinner with her. My scalp prickles as adrenaline and fury lance through my body, all my worst fears realized, crashing through me. How could he? I am away for two days, and he runs off to that evil bitch.From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: OLD Dinner Companions
Date: June 1 2011 21:42 EST
To: Christian Grey
She’s not just an old friend.
Has she found another adolescent boy to sink her teeth into?
Did you get too old for her?
Is that the reason your relationship finished?
I press send as my mother returns.
“Ana, you’re so pale. What’s happened?”
I shake my head.
“Nothing. Let’s have another drink,” I mutter mulishly.
Her brow furrows, but she glances up and attracts the attention of one of the waiters, pointing to our glasses. He nods. He understands the universal language of ‘same again, please.’ As she does, I quickly glance at my BlackBerry.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Careful…
Date: June 1 2011 21:45 EST
To: Anastasia Steele
This is not something I wish to discuss via email.
How many Cosmopolitans are you going to drink?
Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
Holy fuck, he’s here.

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