Why wouldn’t she tell me? Is she pregnant?
Will I have to find a new PA?
I turn to Miss Steele, who is fuming on the threshold.
“Deposited in your bank account Monday. Don’t play games with me.”
“Twenty-four thousand dollars!” she shouts. “And how do you know my account number?”
“I know everything about you, Anastasia,” I reply, trying to keep my cool.
“There’s no way my car was worth twenty-four thousand dollars,” she counters.
“I would agree with you, but it’s about knowing your market, whether you’re buying or selling. Some lunatic out there wanted that deathtrap and was willing to pay that amount of money. Apparently, it’s a classic. Ask Taylor if you don’t believe me.”
We glower at each other.
Her lips part. She’s breathless, her pupils dilated. Drinking me in. Consuming me.
Her tongue licks her lower lip.
And it’s there in the air between us.
Our attraction, a living force. Building. Building.
I grab her and push her against the door, my lips seeking and finding hers. I claim her mouth, kissing her greedily, my fingers closing around the nape of her neck, holding her. Her fingers are in my hair. Pulling. Directing me while she kisses me back, her tongue in my mouth. Taking. Everything. I cup her behind and pull her against my erection and grind my body into hers. I want her. Again.
“Why, why do you defy me?” I say out loud as I kiss her neckline. She tilts her head back to give me full access to her throat.
“Because I can,” she whispers.
Ah. She stole my line.
I’m panting when I lean my forehead against hers.
“Lord, I want to take you now, but I’m out of condoms. I can never get enough of you. You’re a maddening, maddening woman.”
“And you make me mad,” she breathes. “In every way.”
I take a deep breath and look down into dark, hungry eyes that promise me the world, and I shake my head.
“Come. Let’s go out for breakfast. And I know a place you can get your hair cut.”
“Okay.” She smiles.
And we fight no more.
WE WALK HAND IN hand up Vine Street and turn right on First Avenue. I wonder how normal it is to go from seething at each other to this casual calm I feel as we walk through the streets. Maybe most couples are like this. I look down at Ana beside me. “This feels so normal,” I tell her. “I love it.”
“Christian, I think Dr. Flynn would agree that you are anything but normal. Exceptional, maybe.” She squeezes my hand.
“It’s a beautiful day,” she adds.
She briefly closes her eyes and turns her face to the morning sun.
“Come, I know a great place for brunch.”
One of my favorite cafés is only a couple of blocks from Ana’s on First. When we get there I open the door for Ana and pause to inhale the smell of fresh bread.
“What a charming place,” she says when we sit down at a table. “I love the art on the walls.”
“They support a different artist every month. I found Trouton here.”
“Raising the ordinary to extraordinary,” Ana says.
“There’s very little I could forget about you, Mr. Grey.”
And I you, Miss Steele. You are extraordinary.
I chuckle and hand her a menu.
“I’LL GET THIS.” Ana grabs the check before I do. “You have to be quick around here, Grey.”
“You’re right, I do,” I grumble. Someone who owes more than fifty thousand dollars in student-loan debt should not be paying for my breakfast.
“Don’t look so cross. I’m twenty-four thousand dollars richer than I was this morning. I can afford—” She inspects the bill. “Twenty-two dollars and sixty-seven cents for breakfast.”
Short of wrestling the check from her, there’s little I can do. “Thank you,” I mutter.
“Where to now?” she asks.
“You really want your hair cut?”
“Yes, look at it.”
Dark tendrils have escaped from her ponytail, framing her beautiful face. “You look lovely to me. You always do.”
“There’s your father’s function this evening.”
I remind her that it’s black tie and at my parents’ home. “They have a tent. You know, the works.”
“What’s the charity?”
“It’s a drug-rehab program for parents with young kids called Coping Together.” I hold my breath, hoping that she doesn’t start to ask me about the Grey connection to this cause. It’s personal and I don’t need her pity. I’ve told her all I want to tell her about that time in my life.
“Sounds like a good cause,” she says with compassion, and thankfully leaves it there.
“Come, let’s go.” I stand and hold out my hand, ending the conversation.
“Where are we going?” she asks, as we continue our walk down First Avenue.
I can’t tell her it’s Elena’s place. I know she’ll freak. From our conversation in Savannah, I know the mere mention of her name is a hot button for Ana. It’s Saturday and Elena doesn’t work on weekends, and when she does work it’s at the salon in the Bravern Center.