My recent memory of this room is not a good one.
Well, you are one fucked-up son of a bitch.
Ana’s words haunt me. A vision of her tearstained, anguished face comes to mind. I close my eyes. Suddenly I’m empty and aching, feeling a remorse so deep it cuts through sinew and bone. I never want to see her that unhappy again. Last night she was sobbing; she cried her heart out, but this time she let me comfort her. That’s a huge difference from last time.
I gaze around the room. What will become of it, I wonder?
I’ve had some amazing times in here…
Ana on the cross. Ana shackled to the bed. Ana on her knees.
I like your kinky fuckery.
I sigh and my phone buzzes. It’s a text from Taylor. He’s outside waiting for me. With a last lingering look at what was once my safe place, I shut the door.
MY MORNING IS UNEVENTFUL, but there’s a certain excitement running through GEH. It’s not often that I host delegations to the company, but the mayor’s visit is causing a buzz throughout the building. I get through a few early meetings and all seems in place.
At 11:30, when I’m back in my office, Andrea puts Flynn through to me.
“John, thanks for calling me.”
“I assumed you wanted to talk about Leila Williams, but I noticed that you’re in my schedule and I’m seeing you tomorrow evening.”
“I asked Ana to marry me.”
John says nothing.
“You’re surprised?” I ask.
That’s not what I expect him to say. But I let it go.
He continues. “Christian, you’re impulsive. And you’re in love. What did she say?”
“She wants to talk to you.”
“She’s not my patient, Christian.”
“But I am, and I’m asking you.”
He’s silent for a moment. “Okay,” he says eventually.
“Please, tell her whatever she wants to know.”
“If that’s what you wish.”
“I do. How’s Leila?”
“She had a comfortable night and was forthcoming this morning. I think I can help her.”
“Christian.” He pauses. “Marriage is a serious commitment.”
“Are you sure that’s what you want?”
It’s my turn to pause. Spend the rest of my life with Ana…“Yes.”
“It’s not all rainbows and unicorns,” John says. “It’s hard work.”
Rainbows? Unicorns? What the hell!
“I’ve never shied away from hard work, John.”
John laughs. “That’s true. I’ll see you both tomorrow.”
MY PHONE BUZZES, AND it’s another text from Elena.
Can we do dinner?
Not at the moment, Elena. I just can’t deal with her at this time. I press delete. It’s after midday and I realize I’ve heard nothing more from Ana. I type a quick e-mail.
* * *
From: Christian Grey
Date: June 15 2011 12:15
To: Anastasia Steele
I haven’t heard from you.
Please tell me you are okay.
You know how I worry.
I will send Taylor to check!
Overanxious CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.
My next meeting is lunch with the mayor and his delegation. They want a tour of the building, and my PR guy is beside himself. Sam’s all about raising the profile of the company, though sometimes I think it’s about elevating his own profile.
Andrea knocks and opens the door. “Sam’s here, Mr. Grey,” she says.
“Show him in. Oh, can you update the contacts on my phone?”
“Sure.” I hand her my phone and she stands aside to let Sam enter. He gives me a supercilious smile and starts a run-through of the various photo opportunities he’s planned for the tour. Sam is a pretentious man and a recent hire I’m beginning to regret.
There’s a knock on the door and Andrea pokes her head around. “I have Anastasia Steele on your phone. But I can’t bring it to you—it’s downloading your contacts, and I’m not brave enough to stop it mid-sync.”
I leap up, ignoring Sam, and follow her to her desk. She hands me the phone, which is on such a short cable I have to bend over her computer.
“Are you okay?” I ask.
“Yes, I’m fine,” Ana replies. Thank goodness.
“Christian, why wouldn’t I be okay?”
“You’re normally so quick at responding to my e-mails. After what I told you yesterday, I was worried.” I keep my voice low. I don’t want Andrea or the new girl to hear me.
“Mr. Grey.” Andrea is holding her phone to her neck and trying to get my attention. “The mayor and his delegation are in reception downstairs. Shall I ask them to come up?
“No, Andrea. Tell them to wait.”
She looks stricken. “I think it’s too late; they’re on their way.”
“No. I said wait.”
“Christian, you’re obviously busy. I only called to let you know that I’m okay, and I mean that, just very busy today. Jack has been cracking the whip. Er…I mean—” She stops.
What an interesting choice of words.
“Cracking the whip, eh? Well, there was a time when I would have called him a lucky man. Don’t let him get on top of you, baby.”
“Christian!” she scolds.
And I grin. I like shocking her. “Just watch him, that’s all. Look, I’m glad you’re okay. What time should I pick you up?”