Darker (Fifty Shades 5) - Page 52

“Come on, Ana.” Mia is persistent and leads Ana toward the small stage, where several women are assembled.

“Gentlemen, the highlight of the evening!” the MC booms over the PA system and the excited hum of the crowd. “The moment you’ve all been waiting for! These twelve lovely ladies have all agreed to auction their first dance to the highest bidder!”

Ana is uncomfortable. She looks down at the ground, then at her knotted fingers. She looks anywhere but at the group of young men approaching the stage.

“Now, gentlemen, pray gather around and take a good look at what could be yours for the first dance. Twelve comely and compliant wenches.”

When did Mia get Ana involved in this fucking charade?

It’s a meat market.

I know it’s for a good cause, but still.

The MC announces the first young woman, giving her a hyperbolic introduction. Her name is Jada, and her first dance is quickly sold off for $5,000. Mia and Ana are talking. Ana looks engaged in what Mia is saying.


What is Mia telling her?

Mariah is up for sale next. She seems embarrassed by the MC’s introduction, and I don’t blame her. Mia and Ana continue to talk—and I know it’s about me.

For fuck’s sake, Mia, shut up.

Mariah’s first dance is sold for $4,000.

Ana glances at me, then back at Mia, who appears to be in full flow.

Jill is up next, and her first dance is sold for $4,000.

Ana stares at me, and I see her eyes glitter inside her mask, but I have no idea what she’s thinking.

Shit. What did Mia say?

“And now, allow me to introduce the beautiful Ana.”

Mia ushers Ana to the center of the stage and I make my way to the front of the crowd. Ana does not like to be the center of attention.

Damn Mia for making her do this.

But Anastasia is beautiful.

The MC makes another overblown and ridiculous introduction. “Beautiful Ana plays six musical instruments, speaks fluent Mandarin, and is keen on yoga…well, gentlemen—”

Enough. “Ten thousand dollars,” I shout.

“Fifteen.” There’s a call from some random guy.

What the hell?

I turn to look at who is bidding on my girl, and it’s Flynn, the expensive charlatan, as Ana calls him. I’d recognize his gait anywhere. He gives me a polite nod.

“Well, gentlemen! We have high rollers in the house this evening,” the MC announces to the assembled patrons.

What is Flynn’s game? How far does he want to take this?

The chatter in the pavilion dies as the crowd watches us and waits to hear my reaction.

“Twenty,” I offer, my voice low.

“Twenty-five,” counters Flynn.

Ana looks anxiously from me to Flynn. She’s mortified. And, frankly, so am I. I’ve had enough of whatever game Flynn is playing.

“One hundred thousand dollars,” I call, so that the entire audience can hear me.

“What the fuck?” one of the women behind Ana calls out, and I hear gasps from people in the crowd around me.

Come on, John.

I give Flynn a level stare and he laughs and graciously holds up both his hands. He’s done.

“One hundred thousand dollars for the lovely Ana! Going once. Going twice.” The MC invites Flynn to bid again, but he shakes his head and bows.

“Sold!” the MC cries out triumphantly, and the applause and cheering are deafening. I step forward and hold out my hand to Ana.

I’ve won my girl.

She beams at me with relief when she places her hand in mine. I help her down from the stage and kiss the back of her hand, then tuck it under my arm. We make our way to the exit of the pavilion, ignoring the catcalls and the shouts of congratulations.

“Who was that?” she asks.

“Someone you can meet later. Right now, I want to show you something. We have about twenty minutes until the First Dance Auction finishes. Then we have to be back on the dance floor so that I can enjoy that dance I’ve paid for.”

“A very expensive dance,” she observes dryly.

“I’m sure it’ll be worth every single cent.”

At last. I have her. Mia is still on the stage and unable to stop me now. I guide Ana across the lawn toward the dance floor, aware that two of the close protection guys are tailing us. The sounds of revelry fade behind us as I take her through the French doors that lead into the sitting room. I leave the doors open so the guys can follow us. From there we head into the hall and up two flights of stairs to my childhood bedroom.

It will be another first.

Inside, I lock the door. Security can wait outside. “This was my room.”

Ana stands in the center, drinking it all in: my posters, my bulletin board. Everything. Her eyes scan it all, then settle on me.

“I’ve never brought a girl in here.”


I shake my head. There’s an adolescent thrill running through me. A girl. In my room. What would my mom say?

Tags: E.L. James Fifty Shades Billionaire Romance
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