Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)(8)


by E.L. James

Christian smirks. "That man wants into your panties, Anastasia," he says dryly.

I go crimson as my mouth drops open, and I glance nervously at Taylor. My subconscious inhales sharply, shocked.

"Well, he can want all he likes... why are we even having this conversation? You know I have no interest in him whatsoever. He's just my boss."

"That's the point. He wants what's mine. I need to know if he's good at his job."

I shrug. "I think so." Where is he going with this?

"Well, he'd better leave you alone, or he'll find himself on his ass on the sidewalk."

"Oh, Christian, what are you talking about? He hasn't done anything wrong."... Yet.

He just stands too close.

"He makes one move, you tell me. It's called gross moral turpitude - or sexual harass-ment."

"It was just a drink after work."

"I mean it. One move and he's out."

"You don't have that kind of power." Honestly! And before I roll my eyes at him, the realization hits me with the force of a speeding freight truck. "Do you, Christian?"

Christian gives me his enigmatic smile.

"You're buying the company," I whisper in horror.

His smile slips in response to the panic in my voice. "Not exactly," he says.

"You've bought it. SIP. Already."

He blinks at me, warily. "Possibly."

"You have or you haven't?"

"Have."

What the hell? "Why?" I gasp, appalled. Oh, this just is too much.

"Because I can, Anastasia. I need you safe."

"But you said you wouldn't interfere in my career!"

"And I won't."

I snatch my hand out of his. "Christian..." Words fail me.

"Are you mad at me?"

"Yes. Of course I'm mad at you." I seethe. "I mean, what kind of responsible business executive makes decisions based on who they are currently f**king?" I blanch and glance nervously once more at Taylor who is stoically ignoring us.

Shit. What a time to have a brain-to-mouth filter malfunction. Anastasia! My subconscious glares at me.

Christian opens his mouth then closes it again and scowls at me. I glare at him. The atmosphere in the car plunges from warm with sweet reunion     to frigid with unspoken words and potential recriminations as we glower at each other.

Fortunately, our uncomfortable car journey doesn't last long, and Taylor pulls up outside my apartment.

I scramble out of the car quickly, not waiting for anyone to open the door.

I hear Christian mutter to Taylor, "I think you'd better wait here."

I sense him standing close behind me as I struggle to find the front door keys in my purse.

"Anastasia," he says calmly as if I'm some cornered wild animal.

I sigh and turn to face him. I am so mad at him, my anger is palpable - a dark entity threatening to choke me.

"First, I haven't f**ked you for a while - a long while, it feels - and second, I wanted to get into publishing. Of the four companies in Seattle, SIP is the most profitable, but it's on the cusp and it's going to stagnate - it needs to branch out."

I stare frigidly at him. His eyes are so intense, threatening even, but sexy as hell. I could get lost in their steely depths.

"So you're my boss now," I snap.

"Technically, I'm your boss's boss's boss."

"And, technically, it's gross moral turpitude - the fact that I am f**king my boss's boss's boss."

"At the moment, you're arguing with him." Christian scowls.

"That's because he's such an arse," I hiss.

Christian steps back in stunned surprise. Oh shit. Have I gone too far?

"An arse?" he murmurs as his expression changes to one of amusement.

Goddamn it! I am mad at you, do not make me laugh!

"Yes." I struggle to maintain my look of moral outrage.

"An arse?" Christian says again. This time his lips twitch with a repressed smile.

"Don't make me laugh when I am mad at you!" I shout.

And he smiles, a dazzling, full-toothed, all-American-boy smile, and I can't help it. I am grinning and laughing, too. How could I not be affected by the joy I see in his smile?

"Just because I have a stupid damn grin on my face doesn't mean I'm not mad as hell at you," I mutter breathlessly, trying to suppress my high-school-cheerleader giggling.

Though I was never cheerleader - the bitter thought crosses my mind.

He leans in, and I think he's going to kiss me but he doesn't. He nuzzles my hair and inhales deeply.

"As ever, Miss Steele, you are unexpected." He leans back and gazes at me, his eyes dancing with humor. "So are you going to invite me in, or am I to be sent packing for exercising my democratic right as an American citizen, entrepreneur, and consumer to purchase whatever I damn well please?"

"Have you spoken to Dr. Flynn about this?"

He laughs. "Are you going to let me in or not, Anastasia?"

I try for a grudging look - biting my lip helps - but I'm smiling as I open the door.

Christian turns and waves to Taylor, and the Audi pulls away.

It's odd having Christian Grey in the apartment. The place feels too small for him.

I am still mad at him - his stalking knows no bounds, and it dawns on me that this is how he knew about the e-mail being monitored at SIP. He probably knows more about SIP

than I do. The thought is unsavory.

What can I do? Why does he have this need to keep me safe? I am a grown-up -  sort of - for heaven's sake. What can I do to reassure him?

I gaze at his beautiful face as he paces the room like a caged predator, and my anger subsides. Seeing him here in my space when I thought we were over is heartwarming.

More than heartwarming, I love him, and my heart swells with a nervous, heady elation.

He glances around, assessing his surroundings.

"Nice place," he says.

"Kate's parents bought it for her."

He nods distractedly, and his bold gray eyes come to rest on mine, staring at me.

"Er... would you like a drink?" I mutter, flushing with nerves.

"No, thank you, Anastasia." His eyes darken.

Oh crap. Why am I so nervous?

"What would you like to do, Anastasia?" he asks softly as he walks toward me, all feral and hot. "I know what I want to do," he adds in a low voice.

I back up until I bump against the concrete kitchen island.

"I'm still mad at you."

"I know." He smiles a lopsided apologetic smile and I melt... Well, maybe not so mad.

"Would you like something to eat?" I ask.

He nods slowly. "Yes. You," he murmurs. Everything south of my waistline clenches.

I'm seduced by his voice alone, but that look, that hungry I-want-you-now look - oh my.

He's standing in front of me, not quite touching, staring down into my eyes and bathing me in the heat that's radiating off his body. I'm stiflingly hot, flustered, and my legs are like jelly as dark desire courses through me. I want him.

"Have you eaten today?" he murmurs.

"I had a sandwich at lunch," I whisper. I don't want to talk food.

He narrows his eyes. "You need to eat."

"I'm really not hungry right now... for food."

"What are you hungry for, Miss Steele?"

"I think you know, Mr. Grey."

He leans down, and again I think he's going to kiss me, but he doesn't.

"Do you want me to kiss you, Anastasia?" he whispers softly in my ear.

"Yes," I breathe.

"Where?"

"Everywhere."

"You're going to have to be a bit more specific than that. I told you I am not going to touch you until you beg me and tell me what to do."

My inner goddess is writhing on her chaise longue. I am lost; he's not playing fair.

"Please," I whisper.

"Please what?"

"Touch me."

"Where, baby?"

He is so tantalizingly close, his scent intoxicating. I reach up, and immediately he steps back."No, no," he chides, his eyes suddenly wide and alarmed.

"What?" No... come back.

"No." He shakes his head.

"Not at all?" I can't keep the longing out of my voice.

He looks at me uncertainly, and I'm emboldened by his hesitation. I step toward him, and he steps back, holding up his hands in defense, but smiling.

"Look, Ana." It's a warning, and he runs his hand through his hair, exasperated.

"Sometimes you don't mind," I observe plaintively. "Perhaps I should find a marker pen, and we could map out the no-go areas."

He raises an eyebrow. "That's not a bad idea. Where's your bedroom?"

I nod in the direction. Is he deliberately changing the subject?

"Have you been taking your pill?"

Oh shit. My pill.

His face falls at my expression.

"No," I squeak.

"I see," he says, and his lips press into a thin line. "Come, let's have something to eat."

Oh no!

"I thought we were going to bed! I want to go to bed with you."

"I know, baby." He smiles, and suddenly darting toward me, he grabs my wrists and pulls me into his arms so that his body is pressed against mine.

"You need to eat and so do I," he murmurs, burning gray eyes gazing down at me.

"Besides... anticipation is the key to seduction, and right now, I'm really into delayed gratification."

Huh, since when?

"I'm seduced and I want my gratification now. I'll beg, please." I sound whiney. My inner goddess is beside herself.

He smiles at me tenderly. "Eat. You're too slender." He kisses my forehead and releases me.

This is a game, part of some evil plan. I scowl at him.

"I'm still mad that you bought SIP, and now I am mad at you because you're making me wait." I pout.

"You are one angry little madam, aren't you? You'll feel better after a good meal."

"I know what I'll feel better after."

"Anastasia Steele, I'm shocked." His tone is gently mocking.

"Stop teasing me. You don't fight fair."

He stifles his grin by biting his lower lip. He looks simply adorable... playful Christian toying with my libido. If only my seduction skills were better, I'd know what to do, but not being able to touch him does hamper me.

My inner goddess narrows her eyes and looks thoughtful. We need to work on this.

As Christian and I gaze at each other - me hot, bothered and yearning and him, relaxed and amused at my expense - I realize I have no food in the apartment.

"I could cook something - except we'll have to go shopping."

"Shopping?"

"For groceries."

"You have no food here?" His expression hardens.

I shake my head. Crap, he looks quite angry.

"Let's go shopping, then," he says sternly as he turns on his heel and heads for the door, opening it wide for me.

"When was the last time you were in a supermarket?"

Christian looks out of place, but he follows me dutifully, holding a shopping basket.

"I can't remember."

"Does Mrs. Jones do all the shopping?"

"I think Taylor helps her. I'm not sure."

"Are you happy with a stir-fry? It's quick."

"Stir-fry sounds good." Christian grins, no doubt figuring out my ulterior motive for a speedy meal.

"Have they worked for you long?"

"Taylor, four years, I think. Mrs. Jones about the same. Why didn't you have any food in the apartment?"