She wriggles on top of me and I drop my legs. With her eyes on mine, she places her fingers on my belly.
“I like touching you,” she says, and her hand slips down to my navel, teasing the hair there. Her fingers quest lower.
My cock twitches in approval.
“Again?” she says with a carnal smile.
Oh, Anastasia, you insatiable woman.
“Oh yes, Miss Steele, again.”
I sit up and clasp her head in my hands and kiss her, long and hard. “You’re not too sore?” I whisper against her lips.
“I love your stamina, Ana.”
SHE DOZES BESIDE ME. Replete, I hope. After all of today’s arguments and recriminations, I’m now feeling more at peace.
Perhaps I can do this vanilla thing.
I look down at Ana. Her lips are parted and her lashes leave little shadows across her pale cheek. She looks serene and beautiful, and I could watch her sleep forever.
Yet she can be really fucking difficult.
And the irony is—I think I like it.
She makes me question myself.
She makes me question everything.
She makes me feel alive.
BACK IN THE LIVING room, I gather my papers from the sofa and head into my study. I’ve left Anastasia asleep. She must be exhausted after last night, and we have a long night ahead at the ball.
At my desk I fire up my computer. One of Andrea’s many virtues is that she keeps my contacts up-to-date and synced across all my devices. I look up Dr. Greene and, sure enough, I have her e-mail address. I’m so over condoms—I’d like her to see Ana as soon as possible. I send her an e-mail, but I don’t imagine I’ll hear from her until Monday—after all, it’s the weekend.
I send a couple of e-mails to Ros and make some notes on the reports I read earlier. Opening a drawer to put away my pen, I spy the red box with the earrings I bought Ana for the gala that we never attended.
She left me.
Taking out the box, I examine the earrings once more. They are perfect for her. Elegant. Simple. Stunning. I wonder if she’d accept them today. After the fight about the Audi and the twenty-four thousand dollars, it seems unlikely. But I’d like to give them to her. I put the box in my pocket and check my watch. It’s time to wake Ana, as I’m sure she’ll need a while to get ready for tonight.
SHE’S CURLED UP IN the middle of the bed, looking small and lonely. She’s in the sub’s room. I wonder why she’s up here. She’s not my submissive. She should be asleep in my bed, downstairs.
“Hey, sleepyhead.” I kiss her temple.
“Mmm,” she grumbles, and her eyelids flicker open.
“Time to get up,” I whisper, and kiss her quickly on the lips.
“Mr. Grey.” Her fingers caress my stubble. “I’ve missed you.”
“You’ve been asleep.” How can she have missed me?
“I missed you in my dreams.”
Her simple, sleepy statement floors me. She is so unpredictable and bewitching. I grin as an unexpected warmth spreads through my body. It’s becoming familiar but I don’t want to put a name to the feeling. It’s too new. Too scary.
“Up,” I order, and I leave her to get ready before I’m tempted to join her.
AFTER A QUICK SHOWER, I shave. Usually I try to avoid eye contact with the asshole in the mirror, but today he looks happier, though somewhat ridiculous with a smeared red lipstick line around his neck.
My thoughts turn to the night ahead. I usually loathe these events and find them intensely dull, but this time I’ll have a date. Another first with Ana. I hope having her on my arm will ward off the flocks of Mia’s friends who try desperately to get themselves noticed. They have never learned that I’m just not interested.
I wonder how Ana will find it—perhaps she’ll think it’s dull, too. I hope not. Maybe I should liven up the evening.
As I finish shaving, an idea comes to mind.
A few minutes later, wearing my dress pants and shirt, I head upstairs, pausing outside my playroom.
Is this a good idea?
Ana can always say no.
I unlock the door and step inside.
I’ve not been in my playroom since she left me. It’s quiet, and ambient light glows on the red walls, giving the place an illusion of warmth. But today this room is not my sanctuary. It hasn’t been since she left me alone and in darkness. It holds the memory of her tearstained face, her anger, and her bitter words. I close my eyes.
You need to sort your shit out, Grey.
I’m trying, Ana. I’m trying.
You are one fucked-up son of a bitch.
If she only knew. She’d leave. Again.
I discard the unpalatable thought and from the chest fetch what I need.
Will she go for this?
I like your kinky fuckery. Her hushed words from the night of our reconciliation give me some consolation. With Ana’s confession in mind, I turn to leave. For the first time ever, I don’t want to linger in here.