Fifty Shades Darker(11)

By: E L James


“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.”

“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 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 whiny.

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?”

“You know why,” I murmur, flushing.

“It was you who left me,” he mutters disapprovingly.

“I know,” I reply in a small voice, not wanting that reminder.

We reach the checkout and silently stand in line.

If I hadn’t left, would he have offered the vanilla alternative? I wonder idly.

“Do you have anything to drink?” He pulls me back to the present.

“Beer … I think.”

“I’ll get some wine.”

Oh dear. I’m not sure what sort of wine is available in Ernie’s Supermarket. Christian remerges empty-handed, grimacing with a look of disgust.

“There’s a good liquor store next door,” I say quickly.

“I’ll see what they have.”

Maybe we should just go to his place; then we wouldn’t have all this hassle. I watch as he strolls purposefully and with easy grace out of the door. Two women coming in stop and stare. Oh yes, eye my Fifty Shades, I think despondently.

I want the memory of him in my bed, but he’s playing hard to get. Maybe I should, too. My inner goddess nods frantically in agreement. And as I stand in line, we come up with a plan. Hmm …

CHRISTIAN CARRIES THE GROCERY bags into the apartment. He’s carried them as we’ve walked back to the apartment from the store. He looks odd. Not his usual CEO demeanor at all.

“You look very—domestic.”

“No one has ever accused me of that before,” he says dryly. He places the bags on the kitchen island. As I start to unload them, he takes out a bottle of white wine and searches for a corkscrew.

“This place is still new to me. I think the opener is in that drawer there.” I point with my chin.

This feels so … normal. Two people, getting to know each other, having a meal. Yet it’s so strange. The fear that I’d always felt in his presence has gone. We’ve already done so much together, I blush just thinking about it, and yet I hardly know him.

“What are you thinking about?” Christian interrupts my reverie as he shrugs out of his pinstripe jacket and places it on the couch.

“How little I know you.”

His eyes soften. “You know me better than anyone.”

“I don’t think that’s true.” Mrs. Robinson comes unbidden, and very unwelcome, into my mind.

“It is, Anastasia. I’m a very, very private person.”

He hands me a glass of white wine.

“Cheers,” he says.

“Cheers,” I respond taking a sip as he puts the bottle in the fridge.

“Can I help you with that?” he asks.

“No, it’s fine … sit.”

“I’d like to help.” His expression is sincere.

“You can chop the vegetables.”

“I don’t cook,” he says, regarding the knife I hand him with suspicion.

“I imagine you don’t need to.” I place a chopping board and some red peppers in front of him. He stares down at them in confusion.

“You’ve never chopped a vegetable?”

“No.”

I smirk at him.

“Are you smirking at me?”

“It appears this is something that I can do and you can’t. Let’s face it, Christian, I think this is a first. Here, I’ll show you.”

I brush up against him and he steps back. My inner goddess sits up and takes notice.

“Like this.” I slice the red pepper, careful to remove the seeds.

“Looks simple enough.”

“You shouldn’t have any trouble with it,” I mutter ironically.

He gazes at me impassively for a moment then sets about his task as I continue to prepare the diced chicken. He starts to slice, carefully, slowly. Oh my, we’ll be here all night.

I wash my hands and hunt for the wok, the oil, and the other ingredients I need, repeatedly brushing against him—my hip, my arm, my back, my hands. Small, seemingly innocent touches. He stills each time I do.

“I know what you’re doing, Anastasia,” he murmurs darkly, still preparing the first pepper.

“I think it’s called cooking,” I say, fluttering my eyelashes. Grabbing another knife, I join him at the chopping board, peeling and slicing garlic, shallots, and French beans, continually bumping against him.

“You’re quite good at this,” he mutters as he starts on his second red pepper.

“Chopping?” I bat my eyelashes at him. “Years of practice.” I brush against him again, this time with my behind. He stills once more.

“If you do that again, Anastasia, I am going to take you on the kitchen floor.”

Oh wow. It’s working. “You’ll have to beg me first.”

“Is that a challenge?”

“Maybe.”

He puts down his knife and saunters slowly over to me, his eyes burning. Leaning past me, he switches the gas off. The oil in the wok quiets almost immediately.

“I think we’ll eat later,” he says. “Put the chicken in the fridge.”

This is not a sentence I had ever expected to hear from Christian Grey, and only he can make it sound hot, really hot. I pick up the bowl of diced chicken, rather shakily place a plate on top of it, and stow it in the fridge. When I turn back, he’s beside me.

“So you’re going to beg?” I whisper, bravely gazing into his darkening eyes.

“No, Anastasia.” He shakes his head. “No begging.” His voice is soft, seductive.

And we stand staring at each other, drinking each other in—the atmosphere charging between us, almost crackling, neither saying anything, just looking. I bite my lip as desire for this man seizes me with a vengeance, igniting my blood, shallowing my breath, pooling below my waist. I see my reactions reflected in his stance, in his eyes.

In a beat, he grabs me by my hips and pulls me to him as my hands reach for his hair and his mouth claims me. He pushes me against the fridge, and I hear the vague protesting rattle of bottles and jars from within as his tongue finds mine. I moan into his mouth and one of his hands moves into my hair, pulling my head back as we kiss savagely.