Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)(16)


by E.L. James

I scroll through the extensive list. I want something upbeat. Hmm, Beyonce - doesn't sound like Christian's taste. Crazy in Love. Oh yes! How apt. I hit the repeat button and put it on loud.

I sashay back to the kitchen and find a bowl, open the fridge, and take out the eggs. I crack them open and begin to whisk, dancing the whole time.

Raiding the fridge once more, I gather potatoes, ham, and -  Yes! - peas from the freezer. All of these will do. Finding a pan, I place it on the stove, put in a little olive oil, and go back to whisking.

No empathy, I muse. Is this unique to Christian? Maybe all men are like this, baffled by women. I just don't know. Perhaps it's not such a revelation.

I wish Kate were home; she would know. She's been in Barbados far too long. She should be back at the end of the week after her additional vacation with Elliot. I wonder if it's still lust at first sight for them.

One of the things I love about you.

I stop whisking. He said it. Does that mean there are other things? I smile for the first time since seeing Mrs. Robinson - a genuine, heartfelt, face-splitting smile.

Christian slips his arms around me, making me jump.

"Interesting choice of music," he purrs as he kisses me below my ear. "Your hair smells good." He nuzzles my hair and inhales deeply.

Desire uncurls in my belly. No. I shrug out of his embrace.

"I'm still mad at you."

He frowns. "How long are you going to keep this up?" he asks, dragging a hand through his hair.

I shrug. "At least until I've eaten."

His lips twitch with amusement. Turning, he picks up the remote control from the counter and switches off the music.

"Did you put that on your iPod?" I ask.

He shakes his head, his expression somber, and I know it was her - Ghost Girl.

"Don't you think she was trying to tell you something back then?"

"Well, with hindsight, probably," he says quietly.

qed. No empathy. My subconscious folds her arms and smacks her lips in disgust.

"Why's it still on there?"

"I quite like the song. But if it offends you I'll remove it."

"No, it's fine. I like to cook to music."

"What would you like to hear?"

"Surprise me."

He smirks at me and heads over to the iPod dock while I go back to my whisking.

Moments later the heavenly sweet, soulful voice of Nina Simone fills the room. It's one of Ray's favorites: "I Put a Spell on You."

I flush, turning to gape at Christian. What is he trying to tell me? He put a spell on me a long time ago. Oh my... his look has changed, the levity gone, his eyes darker, intense.

I watch him, enthralled as slowly, like the predator he is, he stalks me in time to the slow sultry beat of the music. He's barefoot, wearing just an untucked white shirt, jeans, and a smoldering look.

Nina sings, "you're mine" as Christian reaches me, his intention clear.

"Christian, please," I whisper, the whisk redundant in my hand.

"Please what?"

"Don't do this."

"Do what?"

"This."

He's standing in front of me, gazing down at me.

"Are you sure?" he breathes and reaching over, he takes the whisk from my hand and places it back in the bowl with the eggs. My heart is in my mouth. I don't want this - I do want this - badly.

He's so frustrating. He's so hot and desirable. I tear my gaze away from his spellbind-ing look.

"I want you, Anastasia," he murmurs. "I love and I hate, and I love arguing with you.

It's very new. I need to know that we're okay. It's the only way I know how."

"My feelings for you haven't changed," I whisper.

His proximity is overwhelming, exhilarating. The familiar pull is there, all my synaps-es goading me toward him, my inner goddess at her most libidinous. Staring at the patch of hair in the V of his shirt, I bite my lip, helpless, driven by desire - I want to taste him there.

He's so close, but he doesn't touch me. His heat is warming my skin.

"I'm not going to touch you until you say yes," he says softly. "But right now, after a really shitty morning, I want to bury myself in you and just forget everything but us."

Oh my... Us. A magical combination, a small potent pronoun that clinches the deal. I raise my head to stare at his beautiful yet serious face.

"I'm going to touch your face," I breathe, and see his surprise reflected briefly in his eyes before his acceptance registers.

Lifting my hand, I caress his cheek, and run my fingertips across his stubble. He closes his eyes and exhales, leaning his face into my touch.

He leans down slowly, and my lips automatically lift to meet his. He hovers over me.

"Yes or no, Anastasia?" he whispers.

"Yes."

His mouth softly closes on mine, coaxing, coercing my lips apart as his arms fold around me, pulling me to him. His hand moves up my back, fingers tangling in the hair at the back of my head and tugging gently, while his other hand flattens on my behind, forcing me against him. I moan softly.

"Mr. Grey." Taylor coughs, and Christian releases me immediately.

"Taylor," he says, his voice frigid.

I whirl round to see an uncomfortable Taylor standing on the threshold of the great room. Christian and Taylor stare at each other, some unspoken communication passing between them.

"My study," Christian snaps, and Taylor walks briskly across the room.

"Rain check," Christian whispers to me before following Taylor out of the room.

I take a deep, steadying breath. Holy hell. Can I not resist him for one minute? I shake my head, disgusted at myself, grateful for Taylor's interruption, embarrassing though it is.

I wonder what Taylor has had to interrupt in the past. What's he seen? I don't want to think about that. Lunch. I'll make lunch. I busy myself slicing potatoes. What does Taylor want? My mind races - is this about Leila?

Ten minutes later, they emerge, just as the omelet is ready. Christian looks preoccupied as he glances at me.

"I'll brief them in ten," he says to Taylor.

"We'll be ready," Taylor answers and leaves the great room.

I produce two warmed plates and place them on the kitchen island.

"Lunch?"

"Please," Christian says as he perches on one of the bar stools. Now he's watching me carefully.

"Problem?"

"No."

I scowl. He's not telling me. I dish out lunch and sit down beside him, resigned to staying in the dark.

"This is good," Christian murmurs appreciatively as he takes a bite. "Would you like a glass of wine?"

"No, thank you." I need to keep a clear head around you, Grey.

It does taste good, even though I'm not that hungry. But I eat, knowing Christian will nag if I don't. Eventually Christian disrupts our brooding silence and switches on the classical piece I heard earlier.

"What's this?" I ask.

"Canteloube, Songs of the Auvergne. This is called 'Bailero.' "

"It's lovely. What language is it?"

"It's in old French - Occitan, in fact."

"You speak French, do you understand it?" Memories of the flawless French he spoke at his parents' dinner come to mind...

"Some words, yes." Christian smiles, visibly relaxing. "My mother had a mantra: musical instrument, foreign language, martial art. Elliot speaks Spanish; Mia and I speak French. Elliot plays guitar, I play piano, and Mia the cello."

"Wow. And the martial arts?"

"Elliot does Judo. Mia put her foot down at age twelve and refused." He smirks at the memory.

"I wish my mother had been that organized."

"Dr. Grace is formidable when it comes to the accomplishments of her children."

"She must be very proud of you. I would be."

A dark thought flashes across Christian's face, and he looks momentarily uncomfortable. He regards me warily as if he's in uncharted territory.

"Have you decided what you'll wear this evening? Or do I need to come and pick something for you?" His tone is suddenly brusque.

Whoa! He sounds angry. Why? What have I said?

"Um... not yet. Did you choose all those clothes?"

"No, Anastasia, I didn't. I gave a list and your size to a personal shopper at Neiman Marcus. They should fit. Just so that you know, I have ordered additional security for this evening and the next few days. With Leila unpredictable and unaccounted for somewhere on the streets of Seattle, I think it's a wise precaution. I don't want you going out unac-companied. Okay?"

I blink at him. "Okay." What happened to I-must-have-you-now Grey?

"Good. I'm going to brief them. I shouldn't be long."

"They're here?"

"Yes."

Where?

Collecting his plate, Christian places it in the sink and disappears from the room. What the hell was that about? He's like several different people in one body. Isn't that a symptom of schizophrenia? I must Google that.

I clear my plate, wash up quickly, and head back up to my bedroom carrying the anastasia rose steele dossier. Back in the walk-in closet, I pull out the three long evening dresses. Now, which one?

Lying down on the bed, I gaze at my Mac, my iPad, and my Blackberry. I am overwhelmed with technology. I set about transferring Christian's playlist from my iPad to the Mac, then fire up Google to surf the net.

I'm lying across the bed looking at my Mac as Christian enters.

"What are you doing?" he inquires softly.

I panic briefly, wondering if I should let him see the website I'm on: Multiple Personality Disorder: The Symptoms.

Stretching out beside me, he eyes the webpage with amusement.

"On this site for a reason?" he asks nonchalantly.

Brusque Christian has gone - playful Christian is back. How the hell am I supposed to keep up with this?

"Research. Into a difficult personality." I give him my most deadpan look.

His lips twitch with a suppressed smile. "A difficult personality?"

"My own pet project."

"I'm a pet project now? A sideline. Science experiment maybe. When I thought I was everything. Miss Steele, you wound me."

"How do you know it's you?"

"Wild guess." He smirks.

"It's true that you are the only f**ked-up, mercurial, control freak that I know, intimately."

"I thought I was the only person you know intimately." He arches a brow.

I flush. "Yes. That, too."

"Have you reached any conclusions yet?"

I turn and gaze at him. He's on his side stretched out beside me with his head resting on his elbow, his expression soft, amused.

"I think you're in need of intense therapy."

He reaches up and gently tucks my hair behind my ears.

"I think I'm in need of you. Here." He hands me a tube of lipstick.

I frown at him, perplexed. It's harlot red, not my color at all.

"You want me to wear this?" I squeak.

He laughs. "No, Anastasia, not unless you want to. Not sure it's your color," he finishes dryly.

He sits up on the bed cross-legged and drags his shirt off over his head. Oh my. "I like your road map idea."

I stare at him blankly. Road map?

"The no-go areas," he says by way of explanation.

"Oh. I was kidding."

"I'm not."

"You want me to draw on you, with lipstick?"

"It washes off. Eventually."

This means I could touch him freely. A small smile of wonder plays on my lips, and I smirk at him.

"What about something more permanent like a Sharpie?"