Fifty Shades Darker(13)

By: E L James


Christian gazes down at me. “Why didn’t you stay in Texas with your mom?”

“Her husband, Steve, and I … we didn’t get along. And I missed Ray. Her marriage to Steve didn’t last long. She came to her senses, I think. She never talks about him,” I add quietly. I think that’s a dark part of her life, which we’ve never discussed.

“So you stayed in Washington with your stepfather.”

“I lived very briefly in Texas. Then went back to Ray.”

“Sounds like you looked after him,” he says softly.

“I suppose.” I shrug.

“You’re used to taking care of people.”

The edge in his voice attracts my attention, and I glance up at him.

“What is it?” I ask, startled by his wary expression.

“I want to take care of you.” His eyes glow with some unnamed emotion.

My heart rate spikes.

“I’ve noticed,” I whisper. “You just go about it in a strange way.”

His brow creases. “It’s the only way I know how.”

“I’m still mad at you for buying SIP.”

He smiles. “I know, but you being mad, baby, wouldn’t stop me.”

“What am I going to say to my work colleagues, to Jack?”

He narrows his eyes. “That fucker better watch himself.”

“Christian!” I admonish. “He’s my boss.”

Christian’s mouth presses into a hard line. He looks like a recalcitrant schoolboy.

“Don’t tell them,” he says.

“Don’t tell them what?”

“That I own it. The heads of agreement was signed yesterday. The news is embargoed for four weeks while the management at SIP makes some changes.”

“Oh … will I be out of a job?” I ask, alarmed.

“I sincerely doubt it,” Christian says wryly, trying to stifle his smile.

I scowl. “If I leave and find another job, will you buy that company, too?”

“You’re not thinking of leaving, are you?” His expression alters, wary once more.

“Possibly. I’m not sure you’ve given me a great deal of choice.”

“Yes, I will buy that company, too.” He is adamant.

I scowl at him again. I am in a no-win situation here.

“Don’t you think you’re being a tad overprotective?”

“Yes. I am fully aware of how this looks.”

“Paging Dr. Flynn,” I murmur.

He puts down his empty bowl and gazes at me impassively. I sigh. I don’t want to fight. Standing up, I reach for his bowl.

“Would you like dessert?”

“Now you’re talking!” he says, giving me a lascivious grin.

“Not me.” Why not me? My inner goddess wakes from her doze and sits upright, all ears. “We have ice cream. Vanilla.” I snicker.

“Really?” Christian’s grin gets bigger. “I think we could do something with that.”

What? I stare at him dumbfounded as he gracefully gets to his feet.

“Can I stay?” he asks.

“What do you mean?”

“The night.”

“I assumed that you would.”

“Good. Where’s the ice cream?”

“In the oven.” I smile sweetly at him.

He cocks his head to one side, sighs, and shakes his head at me. “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, Miss Steele.” His eyes glitter.

Oh, shit. What’s he planning?

“I could still take you across my knee.”

I place the bowls in the sink. “Do you have those silver ball things?”

He pats his hands down his chest, belly, and the pockets of his jeans. “Funnily enough, I don’t carry a spare set around with me. Not much call for them in the office.”

“I am very glad to hear it, Mr. Grey, and I thought you said that sarcasm was the lowest form of wit.”

“Well, Anastasia, my new motto is, ‘If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.’ ”

I gape at him—I can’t believe he just said that—and he looks sickeningly pleased with himself as he grins at me. Turning, he opens the freezer and takes out a pint of Ben & Jerry’s finest vanilla.

“This will do just fine.” He looks up at me, eyes dark. “Ben & Jerry’s & Ana.” He says each word slowly, enunciating every syllable clearly.

Oh fucking my. I think my lower jaw is on the floor. He opens the cutlery drawer and grabs a spoon. When he looks up, his eyes hooded, and his tongue skims his top teeth. Oh, that tongue.

I feel winded. Desire, dark, sleek, and wanton runs hot through my veins. We’re going to have fun, with food.

“I hope you’re warm,” he whispers. “I’m going to cool you down with this. Come.” He holds out his hand, and I place mine in his.

In my bedroom he places the ice cream on my bedside table, pulls the duvet off the bed, and removes both the pillows, placing them all in a pile on the floor.

“You have a change of sheets, don’t you?”

I nod, watching him, fascinated. He holds up Charlie Tango.

“Don’t mess with my balloon,” I warn.

His lips quirk upward in a half smile. “Wouldn’t dream of it, baby, but I do want to mess with you and these sheets.”

My body practically convulses.

“I want to tie you up.”

Oh. “Okay,” I whisper.

“Just your hands. To the bed. I need you still.”

“Okay,” I whisper again, incapable of anything more.

He strolls over to me, not taking his eyes off mine.

“We’ll use this.” He takes hold of my robe sash and with delicious, teasing slowness, releases the bow, and gently pulls it free of the garment.

My robe falls open while I stand paralyzed under his heated gaze. After a moment, he pushes the robe off my shoulders. It falls and pools at my feet so that I’m standing naked before him. He strokes my face with the backs of his knuckles, and his touch resonates in the depths of my groin. Bending, he kisses my lips briefly.

“Lie on the bed, faceup,” he murmurs, his eyes darkening, burning into mine.

I do as I’m told. My room is shrouded in darkness except for the soft, insipid light from my lamp.

Normally I hate energy-saving bulbs—they are so dim—but being naked here, with Christian, I’m grateful for the muted light. He stands by the bed gazing down at me.

“I could look at you all day, Anastasia,” he says, and with that crawls on to the bed, up my body, and straddles me.

“Arms above your head,” he commands.

I comply and he fastens the end of my robe sash around my left wrist and threads the end through the metal bars at the head of my bed. He pulls it tight so my left arm is flexed above me. He then secures my right hand, tying the sash tightly.

When I’m tied up, staring at him, he visibly relaxes. He likes me tethered. I can’t touch him this way. It occurs to me that none of his subs would have touched him either—and what’s more, they would never have the opportunity to. He would have always been in control and at a distance. That’s why he likes his rules.

He climbs off me and bends to give me a quick peck on the lips. Then he stands and lifts his shirt over his head. He undoes his jeans and drops them to the floor.

He is gloriously naked. My inner goddess is doing a triple axel dismount off the uneven bars, and abruptly my mouth is dry. He has a physique drawn on classical lines: broad muscular shoulders, narrow hips, the inverted triangle. He obviously works out. I could look at him all day. He moves to the end of the bed and grasps my ankles, pulling me swiftly and sharply downward so that my arms are stretched out and unable to move.

“That’s better,” he mutters.

Picking up the pint of ice cream, he climbs smoothly back onto the bed to straddle me once more. Very slowly, he peels off the lid and dips the spoon in.

“Hmm … it’s still quite hard,” he says with a raised brow. Scooping out a spoonful of the vanilla, he pops it into his mouth. “Delicious,” he murmurs, licking his lips. “Amazing how good plain old vanilla can taste.” He gazes down at me. “Want some?” he teases.

He looks so freaking hot, young, and carefree—sitting on me and eating ice cream—eyes bright, face luminous. Oh, what the hell is he going to do to me? As if I can’t tell. I nod, shyly.

He scoops out another spoonful and offers me the spoon, so I open my mouth; then he quickly pops it in his mouth again.

“This is too good to share,” he says, smiling wickedly.

“Hey,” I start in protest.

“Why, Miss Steele, do you like your vanilla?”

“Yes,” I say more forcefully than I mean and try in vain to buck him off.

He laughs. “Getting feisty, are we? I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“Ice cream,” I plead.

“Well, as you’ve pleased me so much today, Miss Steele.” He relents and offers me another spoonful. This time he lets me eat it.

I want to giggle. He’s really enjoying himself, and his good humor is infectious. He scoops another spoonful and feeds me some more; then he does it again. Okay, enough.

“Hmm, well, this is one way to ensure you eat—force-feed you. I could get used to this.”

Taking another spoonful, he offers me more. This time I keep my mouth shut and shake my head, and he lets it slowly melt on the spoon so that the melted ice cream drips onto my throat, onto my chest. He dips down and very slowly licks it off. My body lights up with longing.