Darker (Fifty Shades 5) - Page 42

She looks a little stunned but agrees, surprising me by acquiescing without argument.

“Good. I’m going to brief them. I shouldn’t be long.”

“They’re here?”


She looks puzzled. But she hasn’t objected to the additional security, so while I have the upper hand, I pick up my empty plate and place it in the sink and leave Ana to finish her meal in peace.

The security team is gathered in Taylor’s office, seated at his round table. After our introductions I sit down and run through the evening’s event.

BRIEFING FINISHED, I RETURN to my study to call my mother.

“Darling, how are you?” she enthuses into the phone.

“I’m well, Grace.”

“Are you coming this evening?”

“Of course. And Anastasia is coming, too.”

“She is?” She sounds surprised, but she recovers quickly. “That’s wonderful, sweetheart. I’ll make room at our table.” She sounds too exuberant. I can only imagine her delight.

“I’ll see you this evening, Mother.”

“I look forward to it, Christian. Good-bye.”

There’s an e-mail from Flynn.

* * *

From: Dr. John Flynn

Subject: Tonight

Date: June 11 2011 14:25

To: Christian Grey

I look forward to meeting Anastasia.


I bet you do, John.

It seems everyone is thrilled I have a date tonight.

Everyone, including me.

ANA IS LYING ACROSS the bed in the submissive’s room, staring at her Mac. She’s engrossed in reading something on the Web.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

She startles, and for some reason looks guilty. I lie down beside her and see that’s she’s on a website with a page titled “Multiple Personality Disorder: The Symptoms.”

I understand that I have many issues, but fortunately schizophrenia is not one of them. I can’t hide my amusement at her amateur psychological sleuthing. “On this site for a reason?”

“Research. Into a difficult personality.”

“A difficult personality?”

“My own pet project.”

“I’m a pet project now? A sideline. Science experiment, maybe. When I thought I was everything. Miss Steele, you wound me.”

“How do you know it’s you?”

“Wild guess,” I tease.

“It’s true that you are the only fucked-up, mercurial control freak that I know intimately.”

“I thought I was the only person you know intimately.”

“Yes. That, too,” she replies, and an embarrassed flush turns her cheeks a fetching pink.

“Have you reached any conclusions yet?”

She turns to scrutinize me, her expression warm. “I think you’re in need of intense therapy.”

I tuck her hair behind her ear, pleased that she’s kept it long and I can still do this. “I think I’m in need of you,” I counter. “Here.” I give her the lipstick.

“You want me to wear this?”

I laugh. “No, Anastasia, not unless you want to. Not sure it’s your color.”

Scarlet red is Elena’s color. Though I don’t tell Ana that. She’ll combust. And not in a good way.

I sit up on the bed, cross my legs, and pull my shirt over my head. This is either a brilliant brain wave—or a stupid one. We’ll see. “I like your road-map idea.”

She looks puzzled.

“The no-go areas,” I prompt.

“Oh. I was kidding,” she says.

“I’m not.”

“You want me to draw on you, with lipstick?” She’s bewildered.

“It washes off. Eventually.”

She considers my proposition and a smile tugs at her lips. “What about something more permanent, like a Sharpie?”

“I could get a tattoo.”

“No to the tattoo!” She laughs, but her eyes are wide in horror.

“Lipstick, then,” I retort. Her laugh is infectious and I beam at her.

She shuts the Mac and I hold out my hands. “Come. Sit on me.”

She peels her shoes off and crawls over to me. I lay back, keeping my knees upright. “Lean against my legs.”

She sits astride me, excited at this new challenge.

“You seem—enthusiastic for this,” I note with irony.

“I’m always eager for information, Mr. Grey, and it means you’ll relax, because I’ll know where the boundaries lie.”

I shake my head. I hope this is a good idea. “Open the lipstick,” I instruct.

For once, she does as she’s told.

“Give me your hand.”

She holds up her free hand.

“The one with the lipstick!”

“Are you rolling your eyes at me?” she chides.


“That’s very rude, Mr. Grey. I know some people who get positively violent at eye rolling.”

“Do you, now?” My tone is wry.

She places her hand with the lipstick in mine and I sit up suddenly, surprising her, so we’re nose to nose.

“Ready?” I whisper, trying to curb my anxiety, but panic starts to spread.

“Yes,” she responds, the word as soft as a summer breeze.

Knowing I’m about to overstep my bounds, the darkness is circling like a vulture, waiting to consume me. Taking her hand, I move it to the top of my shoulder and fear squeezes my ribs, expelling the air from my lungs.

“Press down.” I struggle to get the words out. She does, and I guide her hand around my arm socket and down the side of my chest. The darkness slides into my throat, threatening to choke me. Ana’s amusement is gone, replaced by her solemn and determined concentration. I fix my eyes on hers and read every nuanced thought and emotion in the depths of her irises, each a life buoy, keeping me from drowning, holding the darkness at bay.

Tags: E.L. James Fifty Shades Billionaire Romance
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