Fifty Shades Darker(10)By: E L James
Oh, the backseat of the car … hmm.
“Hi,” I breathe, my mouth dry.
“What would you like to do this evening?”
“I thought you said we had plans.”
“Oh, I know what I’d like to do, Anastasia. I’m asking you what you want to do.”
I beam at him.
“I see,” he says with a wickedly salacious grin. “So … begging it is, then. Do you want to beg at my place or yours?” He tilts his head to one side and smiles his oh-so-sexy smile at me.
“I think you’re being very presumptuous, Mr. Grey. But by way of a change, we could go to my apartment.” I bite my lip deliberately, and his expression darkens.
“Taylor, Miss Steele’s, please.”
“Sir,” Taylor acknowledges and he heads off into the traffic.
“So how has your day been?” he asks.
“Good, thank you.”
His ridiculously broad grin reflects mine, and he kisses my hand again.
“You look lovely,” he says.
“As do you.”
“Your boss, Jack Hyde, is he good at his job?”
Whoa! That’s a sudden change in direction. I frown. “Why? This isn’t about your pissing contest?”
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.
“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 harassment.”
“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?”
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 he is currently fucking?” 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.
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 fucked 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 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 fucking my boss’s boss’s boss.”
“At the moment, you’re arguing with him.” Christian scowls.
“That’s because he’s such an ass,” I hiss.
Christian steps back in stunned surprise. Oh, shit. Have I gone too far?
“An ass?” 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 ass?” 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 gazing 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 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.
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.
“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.”
I am lost; he’s not playing fair.
“Please,” I whisper.
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.