“Christian, you really don’t have to do this.”
I make it clear to her that I do and we stroll into the car showroom where a salesman greets us with a well-rehearsed smile. “My name’s Troy Turniansky. Are you after a Saab, sir? Pre-owned?” He rubs his hands, sensing a sale.
“New,” I inform him.
“Did you have a model in mind, sir?”
“9-3 2.0T Sport Sedan.”
Ana shoots a questioning look at me.
Yeah. I’ve been meaning to test drive one of these.
“An excellent choice, sir.”
“What color, Anastasia?” I ask.
“Er, black?” she says with a shrug. “You really don’t need to do this.”
“Black’s not easily seen at night.”
“You have a black car.”
This is not about me. I give her a pointed look.
“Canary yellow, then,” she says, and flips her hair over her shoulder—irritated, I think.
I scowl at her.
“What color do you want me to have?” She crosses her arms.
“Silver or white.”
“Silver, then,” she says, but reiterates that she’d be fine with the Audi.
Now, sensing the loss of a sale, Turniansky pipes up. “Perhaps you’d like the convertible, ma’am?”
Ana lights up and Turniansky claps his hands.
“Convertible?” I ask, raising a brow. And her cheeks redden with embarrassment.
Miss Steele would like a convertible, and I’m beyond pleased that I’ve found something she wants. “What are the safety stats on the convertible?” I ask the salesman, and he’s prepared, reeling off a brochure’s worth of stats and other information. I glance at Ana, and she’s all smiles and teeth. Turniansky hurries to his desk to consult his computer on the availability of a brand-new convertible 9-3.
“Whatever you’re high on, I’d like some, Miss Steele.” I pull her close.
“I’m high on you, Mr. Grey.”
“Really? Well, you certainly look intoxicated.” I kiss her. “And thank you for accepting the car. That was easier than last time.”
“Well, it’s not an Audi A3.”
“That’s not the car for you.”
“I liked it.”
“Sir, the 9-3? I’ve located one at our Beverly Hills dealership. We can have it here for you in a couple of days.” Turniansky is bursting at the seams with his achievement.
“Top of the range?” I ask.
“Excellent.” I hand him my credit card.
“If you’ll come this way, Mr….” Turniansky glances at the name on the card. “Grey.” I follow him to his desk.
“Can you get it here tomorrow?”
“I can try, Mr. Grey.” He nods and we begin to fill out the paperwork.
“THANK YOU,” ANA SAYS as we set off.
“You’re most welcome, Anastasia.”
The soulful, sad voice of Eva Cassidy fills the R8 when I turn on the engine.
“Who’s this?” Ana asks, and I tell her.
“She has a lovely voice.”
“She does. She did.”
“She died young.” Too young.
“Oh.” Ana gives me a wistful look.
I remember that she didn’t finish her breakfast earlier and I ask her if she’s hungry.
I’m keeping track, Ana.
“Lunch first, then.”
I speed along Elliott Avenue, heading to Elliott Bay Marina. Flynn was right. I like trying things her way. I look at Ana, who’s lost in the music, staring out at the passing scenery. I feel content and excited for what I have planned this afternoon.
The car lot is crowded at the marina, but I find a space. “We’ll eat here. I’ll open your door,” I say, as Ana makes a move to get out of the car. Together we walk toward the waterfront, arms around each other.
“So many boats,” she says.
And one of them is mine.
We stand on the promenade and watch the sailboats out in the Sound. Ana tugs her jacket around herself.
“Cold?” I tuck her under my arm, closer to my side.
“No, just admiring the view.”
“I could stare at it all day. Come, this way.”
We head into SP’s, the waterfront restaurant and bar, for lunch. Inside, I search for Dante, Claude Bastille’s brother.
“Mr. Grey!” He sees me before I see him. “What can I get you this afternoon?”
“Dante, good afternoon.” I usher Ana onto one of the stools at the bar. “This lovely lady is Anastasia Steele.”
“Welcome to SP’s Place.” Dante grins at Ana, his dark eyes intrigued. “What would you like to drink, Anastasia?”
“Please, call me Ana,” she says, then, eyeing me, adds, “and I’ll have whatever Christian’s drinking.”
Ana is deferring to me, like she did at the ball. I like it.
“I’m going to have a beer. This is the only bar in Seattle where you can get Adnams Explorer.”
“Yes. Two Explorers, please, Dante.”
Dante nods and sets up the drinks on the bar and I tell Ana that the seafood chowder that’s served here is delicious. Dante writes down our food order and gives me a wink.
Yes, I’m here with a woman I’m not related to. It’s a first, I know.
I turn my attention to Ana. “How did you get started in business?” she asks, and takes a sip of her beer.
I give her the executive summary: With Elena’s money and some shrewd but risky investments I was able to build a capital fund. The first company I acquired was about to go under; it had been developing power units for cell phones using graphene technology, but the R&D had exhausted the company’s capital. The patents they held were worth exploiting, and I kept their key talent, Fred and Barney, who are now my two chief engineers.