Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)(12)


by E.L. James

"Please?" I ask softly.

His mouth sets into a hard line, and he rolls his eyes at me.

"Okay," he says, resigned. "I have no idea how she found you. Maybe the photograph of us in Portland, I don't know." He sighs again, and I sense his frustration is directed at himself.

I wait patiently, pouring boiling water into the teapot as he paces back and forth. After a beat he continues.

"While I was with you in Georgia, Leila turned up at my apartment unannounced and made a scene in front of Gail."

"Gail?"

"Mrs. Jones."

"What do you mean, 'made a scene'?"

He glares at me, appraising.

"Tell me. You're keeping something back." My tone is more forceful than I feel.

He blinks at me, surprised. "Ana, I - " he stops.

"Please?"

He sighs in defeat. "She made a haphazard attempt to open a vein."

"Oh no!" That explains the bandage on her wrist.

"Gail got her to hospital. But Leila discharged herself before I could get there."

Crap. What does this mean? Suicidal? Why?

"The shrink who saw her called it a typical cry for help. He didn't believe her to be truly at risk - one step from suicidal ideation, he called it. But I'm not convinced. I've been trying to track her down since then to get her some help."

"Did she say anything to Mrs. Jones?"

He gazes at me. He looks really uncomfortable.

"Not much," he says eventually, but I know he's not telling me everything.

I distract myself with pouring tea into teacups. So Leila wants back into Christian's life and chooses a suicide attempt to attract his attention? Whoa... scary. But effective.

Christian left Georgia to be at her side, but she disappears before he gets there? How odd.

"You can't find her? What about her family?"

"They don't know where she is. Neither does her husband."

"Husband?"

"Yes," he says distractedly, "she's been married for about two years."

What? "So she was with you while she was married?" Holy f**k. He really has no boundaries.

"No! Good God, no. She was with me nearly three years ago. Then she left and married this guy shortly afterward."

Oh. "So why is she trying to get your attention now?"

He shakes his head sadly. "I don't know. All we've managed to find out is that she ran out on her husband about four months ago."

"Let me get this straight. She hasn't been your submissive for three years?"

"About two and a half years."

"And she wanted more."

"Yes."

"But you didn't?"

"You know this."

"So she left you."

"Yes."

"So why is she coming to you now?"

"I don't know." And the tone of this voice tells me that he at least has a theory.

"But you suspect..."

His eyes narrow perceptibly with anger. "I suspect it has something to do with you."

Me? What would she want with me? "What do you have that I don't?"

I stare at Fifty, magnificently n**ed from the waist up. I have him; he's mine. That's what I have, and yet she looked like me: same dark hair and pale skin. I frown at the thought. Yes... what do I have that she doesn't?

"Why didn't you tell me yesterday?" he asks softly.

"I forgot about her." I shrug apologetically. "You know, drinks after work, at the end of my first week. You turning up at the bar and your... testosterone rush with Jack, and then when we were here. It slipped my mind. You have a habit of making me forget things."

"Testosterone rush?" His lips twitch.

"Yes. The pissing contest."

"I'll show you a testosterone rush."

"Wouldn't you rather have a cup of tea?"

"No, Anastasia, I wouldn't."

His eyes burn into me, scorching me with his I-want-you-and-I-want-you-now look.

Fuck... it's so hot.

"Forget about her. Come." He holds out his hand.

My inner goddess does three back flips over the gym floor as I grasp his hand.

I wake, too warm, and I'm wrapped around a n**ed Christian Grey. Even though he's fast asleep, he's holding me close. Soft morning light filters through the curtains. My head is on his chest, my leg tangled with his, my arm across his stomach.

I raise my head slightly, scared that I might wake him. He looks so young, so relaxed in sleep, so utterly beautiful. I can't quite believe this Adonis is mine, all mine.

Hmm... Reaching up, I tentatively stroke his chest, running my fingertips through the smattering of hair, and he doesn't stir. Holy cow. I can't quite believe it. He's really mine -

for a few more precious moments. I lean over and tenderly kiss one of his scars. He moans softly but doesn't wake, and I smile. I kiss another and his eyes open.

"Hi." I grin at him, guiltily.

"Hi," he answers warily. "What are you doing?"

"Looking at you." I run my fingers down his happy trail. He captures my hand, narrows his eyes, then smiles a brilliant Christian-at-ease smile, and I relax. My secret touching stays secret.

Oh... why won't you let me touch you?

Suddenly he moves on top of me, pressing me into the mattress, his hands on mine, warning me. He strokes my nose with his.

"I think you're up to no good, Miss Steele," he accuses but his smile remains.

"I like being up to no good near you."

"You do?" he asks and kisses me lightly on the lips. "Sex or breakfast?" he asks, his eyes dark but full of humor. His erection is digging into me, and I tilt my pelvis up to meet him."Good choice," he murmurs against my throat, as he trails kisses down to my breast.

I stand at my chest of drawers, staring at my mirror, trying to coax my hair into some semblance of style - really, it's just too long. I'm in jeans and a T-shirt, and Christian, freshly showered, is dressing behind me. I gaze at his body hungrily.

"How often do you work out?" I ask.

"Every weekday," he says, buttoning his fly.

"What do you do?"

"Run, weights, kickbox." He shrugs.

"Kickbox?"

"Yes, I have a personal trainer, an ex-Olympic contender who teaches me. His name is Claude. He's very good. You'd like him."

I turn to gaze at him as he starts to button up his white shirt.

"What do you mean I'd like him?"

"You'd like him as a trainer."

"Why would I need a personal trainer? I have you to keep me fit." I smirk at him.

He saunters over and wraps his arms around me, his darkening eyes meeting mine in the mirror.

"But I want you fit, baby, for what I have in mind. I'll need you to keep up."

I flush as memories of the playroom flood my mind. Yes... the Red Room of Pain is exhausting. Is he going to let me back in there? Do I want to go back in?

Of course you do! My inner goddess screams at me from her chaise longue.

I stare into his unfathomable, mesmerizing gray eyes.

"You know you want to," he mouths at me.

I flush, and the undesirable thought that Leila could probably keep up slithers invidious and unwelcome into my mind. I press my lips together and Christian frowns at me.

"What?" he asks, concerned.

"Nothing." I shake my head at him. "Okay, I'll meet Claude."

"You will?" Christian's face lights up in astounded disbelief. His expression makes me smile He looks like he's won the lottery, though Christian's probably never even bought a ticket - he has no need.

"Yes, jeez - if it makes you that happy," I scoff.

He tightens his arms around me and kisses my cheek. "You have no idea," he whispers.

"So - what would you like to do today?" He nuzzles me, sending delicious tingles through my body.

"I'd like to get my hair cut, and um... I need to bank a check and buy a car."

"Ah," he says knowingly and bites his lip. Taking one hand off me, he reaches into his jeans pocket and holds up the key to my little Audi.

"It's here," he says quietly, his expression uncertain.

"What do you mean, it's here?" Boy. I sound angry. Crap. I am angry. My subconscious glares at him. How dare he!

"Taylor brought it back yesterday."

I open my mouth then close it and repeat the process twice, but I have been rendered speechless. He's giving me back the car. Double crap. Why didn't I foresee this? Well, two can play at that game. I fish in the back pocket of my jeans and pull out the envelope with his check.

"Here, this is yours."

Christian looks at me quizzically, then recognizing the envelope, raises both his hands and steps away from me.

"Oh no. That's your money."

"No, it isn't. I'd like to buy the car from you."

His expression changes completely. Fury - yes, fury - sweeps across his face.

"No, Anastasia. Your money, your car," he snaps at me.

"No, Christian. My money, your car. I'll buy it from you."

"I gave you that car for your graduation present."

"If you'd given me a pen - that would be a suitable graduation present. You gave me an Audi."

"Do you really want to argue about this?"

"No."

"Good - here are the keys." He puts them on the chest of drawers.

"That's not what I meant!"

"End of discussion, Anastasia. Don't push me."

I scowl at him, then inspiration hits me. Taking the envelope, I rip it in two, then two again and drop the contents into my waste bin. Oh, that feels good.

Christian gazes at me impassively, but I know I've just lit the blue touch paper and should stand well back. He strokes his chin.

"You are, as ever, challenging, Miss Steele," he says dryly. He turns on his heel and stalks into the other room. That is not the reaction I expected. I was anticipating full scale Armageddon. I stare at myself in the mirror and shrug, deciding on a ponytail.

My curiosity is piqued. What is Fifty doing? I follow him into the room, and he's on the phone.

"Yes, twenty-four thousand dollars. Directly."

He glances up at me, still impassive.

"Good... Monday? Excellent... No that's all, Andrea."

He snaps the phone shut.

"Deposited in your bank account, Monday. Don't play games with me." He's boiling mad, but I don't care.

"Twenty-four thousand dollars!" I'm almost screaming. "And how do you know my account number?"

My ire takes Christian by surprise.

"I know everything about you, Anastasia," he says quietly.

"There's no way my car was worth twenty-four thousand dollars."

"I would agree with you, but it's about knowing your market, whether you're buying or selling. Some lunatic out there wanted that death trap and was willing to pay that amount of money. Apparently, it's a classic. Ask Taylor if you don't believe me."

I glower at him and he glowers back, two angry stubborn fools glaring at each other.

And I feel it, the pull - the electricity between us - tangible, drawing us together. Suddenly he grabs me and pushes me up against the door, his mouth on mine, claiming me hungrily, one hand on my behind pressing me to his groin and the other in the nape of my hair, tugging my head back. My fingers are in his hair, twisting hard, holding him to me. He grinds his body into mine, imprisoning me, his breathing ragged. I feel him. He wants me, and I'm heady and reeling with excitement as I acknowledge his need for me.

"Why, why do you defy me?" he mumbles between his heated kisses.