Read Darker Online

Authors: E L James

Darker (34 page)

“I’m not jealous,” she says quickly, and tosses her hair over her shoulder again.

I’m not sure I believe her.

“You don’t love her?”

I sigh. “A long time ago, I thought I loved her.”

“When we were in Georgia you said you didn’t love her.”

“That’s right.”

She’s perplexed.

Oh, baby, do I have to spell it out for you?

“I loved you then, Anastasia. You’re the only person I’d fly three thousand miles to see. The feelings I have for you are very different from any I ever had for Elena.” Ana asks me when I knew this.
“Ironically, it was Elena who pointed it out to me. She encouraged me to go to Georgia.”

Ana’s expression changes. She looks wary. “So you desired her? When you were younger.”

“Yes. She taught me a great deal. She taught me to believe in myself.”

“But she also beat the shit out of you.”

“Yes, she did.”

“And you liked that?”

“At the time I did.”

“So much that you wanted to do it to others?”

“Yes.”

“Did she help you with that?”

“Yes.”

“Did she sub for you?”

“Yes.”

Ana’s shocked.
Don’t ask me if you don’t want to know.

“Do you expect me to like her?”

“No. Though it would make my life a hell of a lot easier. I do understand your reticence.”

“Reticence! Jeez, Christian—if that were your son, how would you feel?”

What a ridiculous question.

Me. With a son?

Never.

“I didn’t have to stay with her. It was my choice, too, Anastasia.”

“Who’s Linc?”

“Her ex-husband.”


Lincoln Timber?”

“The very same.”

“And Isaac?”

“Her current submissive. He’s in his mid-twenties, Anastasia. You know—a consenting adult.”

“Your age,” she says.

Enough. Enough.

“Look, Anastasia, as I said to her, she’s part of my past. You are my future. Don’t let her come between us, please. And quite frankly, I’m really bored of this subject. I’m going to do some work.” I stand and look down at her. “Let it go. Please.”

She sticks her chin out in that obstinate way she does. I choose to ignore it.

“Oh, I almost forgot,” I add. “Your car arrived a day early. It’s in the garage. Taylor has the key.”

Her eyes light up. “Can I drive it tomorrow?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“You know why not.”

Leila. Do I have to spell it out?

“And that reminds me,” I continue. “If you’re going to leave your office, let me know. Sawyer was there, watching you. It seems I can’t trust you to look after yourself at all.”

“Seems I can’t trust you, either,” she says. “You could have told me Sawyer was watching me.”

“Do you want to fight about that, too?” I ask.

“I wasn’t aware we were fighting. I thought we were communicating,” she replies, glaring at me.

I close my eyes, struggling to keep my temper. This is getting us nowhere. “I have to work.” I walk out, leaving her sitting on the bed, before I say something I’ll regret.

All these questions.

If she doesn’t like the answers, why does she ask me?

Elena is pissed, too.

I sit down at my desk and already there’s an e-mail from her.

From:
Elena Lincoln

Subject:
Tonight

Date:
June 13 2011 21:16

To:
Christian Grey

Christian

I’m sorry. I don’t know what possessed me to come over.

I feel that I’m losing you as a friend. That’s all.

I value your friendship and advice so much.

I wouldn’t be where I am without you.

Just know that.

Ex

ELENA LINCOLN

ESCLAVA

For The Beauty That Is You

I think she’s also telling me that I wouldn’t be where I am without her. And that’s true.

She grabs a handful of my hair, tugging my head back.

“What do you want to tell me?” she purrs, icy blue eyes boring into mine.

I’m broken. My knees are sore. My back is covered in welts. My thighs ache. I can’t take any more. And she’s looking directly into my eyes. Waiting.

“I want to leave Harvard, Ma’am,” I say. And it’s a dark confession. Harvard had always been a goal. For me. For my folks. Just to show them I could do it. Just to prove to them I wasn’t the fuckup they thought I was.

“Leave? School?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

She lets go of my hair and swings the flogger from side to side.

“What will you do?”

“I want to start my own business.”

She runs a scarlet fingernail down my cheek, to my mouth. “I knew something was bothering you. I always have to beat it out of you, don’t I?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Get dressed. Let’s talk about this.”

I shake my head. Now is not the time to think about Elena. I turn to other e-mails.

WHEN I LOOK UP,
it’s ten thirty.

Ana.

I’ve been lost in the final SIP contract. I wonder if I should make it a condition of sale to get rid of Hyde, but that might be actionable.

I get up, stretch, and head into the bedroom.

Ana’s not there.

She wasn’t in the living room. I run upstairs to the submissive’s room, but it’s empty.
Shit.

Where could she be? Library?

I hurtle back down the stairs.

I find her curled up asleep in one of the wing-backed library chairs. She’s dressed in pale pink satin, her hair spilling down over her chest. On her lap is an open book.

Daphne du Maurier’s
Rebecca.

I smile. My grandfather Theodore’s family comes from Cornwall, hence my Daphne du Maurier collection.

I lift Ana into my arms. “Hey. You fell asleep. I couldn’t find you.” As I kiss her hair she puts her arms around my neck and says something I don’t understand. I carry her through to my bedroom and tuck her into bed.

“Sleep, baby.” Softly I kiss her forehead and head for the shower.

I want to wash this day off my body.

T
UESDAY
, J
UNE
14, 2011

S
uddenly I’m awake; my heart is pounding and a deep unease tightens my gut. I’m lying naked beside Ana, and she’s fast asleep. Lord, I envy her ability to sleep. My bedside light is still on, the clock reads 1:45, and I cannot shake my disquiet.

Leila?

I dart into my closet and drag on pants and a T-shirt. Back in the bedroom I check under the bed. The balcony door is locked. I hurry down the corridor to Taylor’s office. The door is open, so I knock and look in. Ryan stands, surprised to see me. “Good evening, sir.”

“Hi, Ryan. Everything okay?”

“Yes, sir. All’s quiet.”

“Nothing on the—” I point to the CCTV monitors.

“Nothing, sir. The place is secure. Reynolds just did a walk-through.”

“Good. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome, Mr. Grey.”

I shut his door and go into the kitchen for a glass of water. Looking out across the living room toward the windows and the darkness beyond, I take a sip.

Where are you, Leila?

I see her in my mind’s eye, head bowed. Willing. Waiting. Wanting. Kneeling in my playroom, asleep in her room, kneeling by my side as I work in my study. And now for all I know she’s wandering the streets of Seattle, cold and lonely and acting crazy.

Maybe I’m uneasy because Ana’s agreed to move in.

I can protect her. But she doesn’t want that.

I shake my head. Anastasia is challenging.

She’s very challenging.

Welcome to falling in love.
Flynn’s words haunt me. So this is what it’s like. Confusing, exhilarating, exhausting.

I walk over to my grand piano and lower the top board to cover the strings as quietly as I can. I don’t want to wake her. I sit down and stare at the keys. I haven’t played for a few days. I place my fingers on the keys and start to play. As
Chopin’s nocturne in B-flat minor quietly fills the room, I’m alone with the melancholy music and it soothes my soul.

A movement in my peripheral vision distracts me. Ana is standing in the shadows. Her eyes glint from the light in the hallway, and I continue to play. She walks toward me, dressed in the pale pink satin robe. She’s stunning: a diva who’s stepped off the silver screen.

When she reaches me, I take my hands off the keys. I want to touch her.

“Why did you stop? That was lovely,” she says.

“Do you have any idea how desirable you look at this moment?”

“Come to bed,” she says.

I offer her my hand, and when she takes it I pull her into my lap and embrace her, kissing her exposed neck and tracing my lips to the pulse point at her throat. She trembles in my arms.

“Why do we fight?” I ask, as my teeth tease her earlobe.

“Because we’re getting to know each other, and you’re stubborn and cantankerous and moody and difficult.” She tilts her head to give me better access to her neck. I smile against her skin as I run my nose down her throat.

Challenging.

“I’m all those things, Miss Steele. It’s a wonder you put up with me.” I graze her earlobe with my teeth.

“Mmm…” She lets me know it feels good.

“Is it always like this?” I whisper against her skin. I cannot get enough of her?

“I have no idea,” she says, her voice little more than a sigh.

“Me neither.” I untie the sash on her robe and it falls open, revealing the gown beneath. It clings to her body, showing every curve, every dip, every hollow. My hand skims from her face to her breast and her nipples harden, crowning against the satin when I circle them with my fingers. I move my hand to her waist, then to her hip.

“You feel so fine under this material, and I can see everything—even this.” I tug gently on her pubic hair, visible as a slight mound beneath the fabric.

She gasps and I cradle her neck and coil my hand in her hair, drawing her head back. I kiss her, coaxing open her mouth and testing her tongue with mine.

She moans once more and her fingers curl around my face, stroking my stubble as her body rises beneath my touch.

Gently I lift up her nightgown, enjoying the feel of rich, soft satin as it inches up her beautiful body, revealing her long lovely legs. My hands find her ass. She’s naked. I cup her in my hand, then move and run my thumbnail down the length of her inner thigh.

I want her. Here. On my piano.

Abruptly I stand, surprising Ana, and I lift her onto the piano so she’s sitting on the front of the top board, her feet on the keys. Two discordant chords ring through the room as she gazes at me. Standing between her legs, I take her hands. “Lie back.” I ease her down onto the piano. The satin spills like fluid over the edge of the gleaming black wood and onto the keys.

Once she’s on her back I let go, strip off my T-shirt, and push her legs apart. Ana’s feet play a staccato melody on the low and high keys. I kiss the inside of her right knee and trail kisses and soft nips up her leg to her thigh. Her nightgown inches up, revealing more and more of my beautiful girl. She groans. She knows what I have in mind. Her feet flex, and the dissonant sounds from the keys resonate through the room, an uneven accompaniment to her accelerated breathing.

I reach my goal: her clitoris. And I kiss her once, relishing the jolt that shoots through her body. Then I blow on her pubic hair to make a small space for my tongue. I push her knees wider and hold her in place. She’s mine. Exposed. At my mercy. And I love it. Slowly, I start circling my tongue around her sensitive sweet spot. She cries out and I continue over and over and over, while she’s writhing beneath me, tilting her pelvis up for more.

I don’t stop.

I consume her.

Until my face is soaked.

From me.

From her.

Her legs start to tremble.

“Oh, Christian, please.”

“Oh no, baby, not yet.” Pausing, I take a deep breath. She’s laid out before me in satin, her hair spilling over the polished ebony; she’s gorgeous, lit only from the reading light.

“No,” she whimpers. She doesn’t want me to stop.

“This is my revenge, Ana. Argue with me and I am going to take it out on your body somehow.” I kiss her belly, feeling her muscles tighten beneath my lips.

Oh, baby, you are so ready.

My hands travel up her thighs, stroking, kneading, teasing.

With my tongue I circuit her navel while my thumbs reach the junction of her thighs.

“Ah!” she lets out a gargled cry as I push one thumb inside her while the other teases her clitoris, around and around and around.

She arches off the piano.

“Christian!” she cries.

Enough, Grey.

I lift her feet off the keys and push them so she slides effortlessly over the top board. I undo my fly, grab a condom, and let my pants fall to the floor. I climb up and kneel between her legs as I put on the condom. She watches me, her expression intense and filled with longing. I crawl up her body until we are face to face. My love and desire are reflected in her dark, dark eyes.

“I want you so badly,” I whisper, and slowly claim her.

And ease back.

And ease in.

She clutches my biceps and tips her head, her mouth open wide.

She’s so close.

I build up speed and her legs flex beneath me and she lets out a strangled cry as she comes and I let go. Losing myself in the woman I love.

I STROKE HER HAIR
as she rests her head on my chest.

“Do you drink tea or coffee in the evening?” Ana asks.

“What a strange question.”

“I thought I could bring you tea in your study, and then I realized I didn’t know what you would like.”

“Oh, I see. Water or wine in the evening, Ana. Though maybe I should try tea.” I move my hand from her hair to her back, stroking, touching, caressing her.

“We really know very little about each other,” she whispers.

“I know.” She doesn’t know me.
And when she does…

She leans up, frowning. “What is it?”

I wish I could tell you. But if I do, you’ll leave.

I cup her beautiful, sweet face. “I love you, Ana Steele.”

“I love you, too, Christian Grey. Nothing you tell me will drive me away.”

We’ll see, Ana. We’ll see.

I move her to my side, sit up and vault off the piano, and lift her down.

“Bed,” I whisper.

Grandpa Trev-yan and I are picking apples.

See these red apples on this green apple tree.

I nod.

We put these here. You and me. Remember?

We fooled this old apple tree.

It thought it would make bitter green apples.

But it makes these sweet red apples.

Remember.

I nod.

He holds the apple to his nose and sniffs.

Smell it.

It smells of good. It smells of full.

He rubs the apple against his shirt and gives it to me.

Taste it.
I take a bite.

It is crunchy and yummy and apple pie.

I smile. My tummy is happy.

These apples are called fu-gee.

Here, you want to try the green one?

I don’t know.

Grandpa takes a bite and his shoulders shake.

He makes a yuk face.
That’s nasty.

He offers it to me. He smiles. I smile and take a bite.

A shiver goes from my head to my toes.

NASTY.

I make a yuk face, too. He laughs. I laugh.

We pick the red apples and put them in the bucket.

We fooled the tree.

It’s not nasty. It’s sweet.

Not nasty. Sweet.

The smell is evocative. My grandfather’s orchard. I open my eyes and I’m wrapped around Ana like swaddling. Her fingers are in my hair and she’s smiling shyly at me.

“Good morning, beautiful,” I murmur.

“Good morning, beautiful, yourself.”

My body has another greeting in mind. I give her a swift kiss before disentangling my legs from hers. Balanced on one elbow, I look down at her. “Sleep okay?”

“Yes, despite the interruption to my sleep last night.”

“Hmm. You can interrupt me like that anytime.” I kiss her again.

“How about you? Did you sleep well?”

“I always sleep well with you, Anastasia.”

“No more nightmares?”

“No.”

Only dreams. Pleasant dreams.

“What are your nightmares about?”

Her question catches me off-guard, and suddenly I’m thinking of my four-year-old self—helpless, lost, lonely, hurting, and filled with rage. “They’re flashbacks of my early childhood, or so Dr. Flynn says. Some vivid, some less so.”

I was a neglected, abused child.

My mother didn’t love me.

She didn’t protect me.

She killed herself and abandoned me.

The crack whore dead on the floor.

The burn.

Not the burn.

No. Don’t go there, Grey.

“Do you wake up crying and screaming?” Ana’s question brings me back, and I’m running my finger along her collarbone, keeping contact with her. My dreamcatcher.

“No, Anastasia. I’ve never cried. As far as I can remember.”

Even that evil fucking bastard couldn’t make me cry.

“Do you have any happy memories of your childhood?”

“I recall the crack whore baking. I remember the smell. A birthday cake, I think. For me.”

Mommy is in the kitchen.

It smells of nice.

Nice and warm and chocolate.

She sings.

Mommy’s Happy song.

She smiles. “This is for you, Maggot.”

For me!

“And then there’s Mia’s arrival with my mom and dad. My mom was worried about my reaction, but I adored baby Mia immediately. My first word was ‘Mia.’ I remember my first piano lesson.
Miss Kathie, my tutor, was awesome. She kept horses, too.”

“You said your mom saved you. How?”

Grace? Isn’t it obvious?

“She adopted me. I thought she was an angel when I first met her. She was dressed in white and so gentle and calm as she examined me. I’ll never forget that. If she’d said no, or if Carrick had said no…”

Fuck. I’d be dead by now.

I glance at my alarm clock: 6:15. “This is all a little deep for so early in the morning.”

“I have made a vow to get to know you better,” Ana says, looking both earnest and mischievous at once.

“Did you, now, Miss Steele? I thought you wanted to know if I preferred coffee or tea. Anyway, I can think of one way you can get to know me.” I nudge her with my erection.

“I think I know you quite well enough that way.”

I grin. “I don’t think I’ll ever get to know you well enough that way. There are definite advantages to waking up beside you.” I nuzzle her ear.

“Don’t you have to get up?”

“Not this morning. Only one place I want to be up right now, Miss Steele.”

“Christian!”

I roll on top of her and grab her hands so they are above her head, and kiss her throat. “Oh, Miss Steele.” Holding both her hands in one of mine, I skim my other hand down her body and at a leisurely pace hitch up her satin nightgown, until my arousal is cradled against her sex. “Oh, what I’d like to do to you,” I whisper.

She smiles and tilts her pelvis up to meet me.

Naughty girl.

First, we need a condom.

I reach over to my bedside table.

ANA JOINS ME AT
the breakfast bar. She’s wearing a light blue dress and high-heeled pumps. Again, she looks stunning. I watch her devour her breakfast. I’m relaxed. Happy, even. She’s said she’ll move in with me and I started my day with a bang. I smirk and wonder if Ana would find that funny. She turns to me. “When am I going to meet your trainer, Claude, and put him through his paces?”

“Depends if you want to go to New York this weekend or not—unless you’d like to see him early one morning this week. I’ll ask Andrea to check on his schedule and get back to you.”

“Andrea?”

“My PA.”

She’s back today. What a relief.

“One of your many blondes?”

“She’s not mine. She works for me. You’re mine.”

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