Home > Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian(10)

Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian(10)
E.L. James

“Sounds cool. In the chopper, or do you want to drive?”

“It’s a helicopter, Elliot, and I’ll drive us down. Come by the office at lunchtime and we’ll head out.”

“Thanks, bro. I owe you.” Elliot hangs up.

Elliot has always had a problem containing himself. As do the women he associates with: whoever the unfortunate girl is, she’s just another in a long, long line of his casual liaisons.

“Mr. Grey. What would you like to do for food this weekend?”

“Just prepare something light and leave it in the fridge. I may be back on Saturday.”

Or I may not.

She didn’t give you a second glance, Grey.

Having spent a great deal of my working life managing others’ expectations, I should be better at managing my own.

ELLIOT SLEEPS MOST OF the way to Portland. Poor fucker must be fried. Working and fucking: that’s Elliot’s raison d’être. He sprawls out in the passenger seat and snores.

Some company he’s going to be.

It’ll be after three when we arrive in Portland, so I call Andrea on the hands-free.

“Mr. Grey,” she answers in two rings.

“Can you have two mountain bikes delivered to The Heathman?”

“For what time, sir?”

“Three.”

“The bikes are for you and your brother?”

“Yes.”

“Your brother is about six-two?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll get on it right away.”

“Great.” I hang up, then call Taylor.

“Mr. Grey,” he answers on one ring.

“What time will you be here?”

“I’ll check in around nine o’clock tonight.”

“Will you bring the R8?”

“With pleasure, sir.” Taylor is a car fanatic, too.

“Good.” I end the call and turn up the music. Let’s see if Elliot can sleep through The Verve.

As we cruise down I-5 my excitement mounts.

Have the books been delivered yet? I’m tempted to call Andrea again, but I know I’ve left her with a ton of work. Besides, I don’t want to give my staff an excuse to gossip. I don’t normally do this kind of shit.

Why did you send them in the first place?

Because I want to see her again.

We pass the exit for Vancouver and I wonder if she’s finished her exam.

“Hey, man, where we at?” Elliot blurts.

“Behold, he wakes,” I mutter. “We’re nearly there. We’re going mountain biking.”

“We are?”

“Yes.”

“Cool. Remember when Dad used to take us?”

“Yep.” I shake my head at the memory. My father is a polymath, a real renaissance man: academic, sporting, at ease in the city, more at ease in the great outdoors. He’d embraced three adopted kids…and I’m the one who didn’t live up to his expectations.

But before I hit adolescence we had a bond. He’d been my hero. He used to love taking us camping and doing all the outdoor pursuits I now enjoy: sailing, kayaking, biking, we did it all.

Puberty ruined all that for me.

“I figured if we were arriving mid-afternoon, we wouldn’t have time for a hike.”

“Good thinking.”

“So who are you running from?”

“Man, I’m a love-’em-and-leave-’em type. You know that. No strings. I don’t know, chicks find out you run your own business and they start getting crazy ideas.” He gives me a sideways look. “You’ve got the right idea keeping your dick to yourself.”

“I don’t think we’re discussing my dick, we’re discussing yours, and who’s been on the sharp end of it recently.”

Elliot snickers. “I’ve lost count. Anyway, enough of me. How’s the stimulating world of commerce and high finance?”

“You really want to know?” I shoot him a glance.

“Nah,” he bleats and I laugh at his apathy and lack of eloquence.

“How’s the business?” I ask.

“You checking on your investment?”

“Always.” It’s my job.

“Well, we broke ground on the Spokani Eden project last week and it’s on schedule, but then it’s only been a week.” He shrugs. Beneath his somewhat casual exterior my brother is an eco-warrior. His passion for sustainable living makes for some heated Sunday dinner conversations with the family, and his latest project is an eco-friendly development of low-cost housing north of Seattle.

“I’m hoping to install that new gray-water system I was telling you about. It will mean all the homes will reduce their water usage and their bills by twenty-five percent.”

“Impressive.”

“I hope so.”

We drive in silence into downtown Portland and just as we’re pulling into the underground garage at The Heathman—the last place I saw her—Elliot mutters, “You know we’re missing the Mariners game this evening.”

“Maybe you can have a night in front of the TV. Give your dick a rest and watch baseball.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

KEEPING UP WITH ELLIOT is a challenge. He tears down the trail with the same devil-may-fucking-care attitude he applies to most situations. Elliot knows no fear—it’s why I admire him. But riding at this pace I have no chance to appreciate our surroundings. I’m vaguely aware of the lush greenery flashing past me, but my eyes are on the trail, trying to avoid the potholes.

By the end of the ride we’re both filthy and exhausted.

“That was the most fun I’ve had with my clothes on in a while,” Elliot says as we hand the bikes over to the bellboy at The Heathman.

“Yeah,” I mutter, and then recall holding Anastasia when I saved her from the cyclist. Her warmth, her breasts pressed against me, her scent invading my senses.

I had my clothes on then…“Yeah,” I murmur again.

We check our phones in the elevator as we head up to the top floor.

I have e-mails, a couple of texts from Elena asking what I’m doing this weekend, but no missed calls from Anastasia. It’s just before 7:00—she must have received the books by now. The thought depresses me: I’ve come all the way to Portland on a wild-goose chase again.

“Man, that chick has called me five times and sent me four texts. Doesn’t she know how desperate she comes across?” Elliot whines.

“Maybe she’s pregnant.”

Elliot pales and I laugh.

“Not funny, hotshot,” he grumbles. “Besides, I haven’t known her that long. Or that often.”

AFTER A QUICK SHOWER I join Elliot in his suite and we sit down to watch the rest of the Mariners game against the San Diego Padres. We order up steak, salad, fries, and a couple of beers, and I sit back to enjoy the game in Elliot’s easy company. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that Anastasia’s not going to call. The Mariners are in the lead and it looks like it might be a blowout.

Disappointingly it isn’t, though the Mariners win 4–1.

Go Mariners! Elliot and I clink beer bottles.

As the postgame analysis drones on, my phone buzzes and Miss Steele’s number flashes on the screen.

It’s her.

“Anastasia?” I don’t hide my surprise or my pleasure. The background is noisy and it sounds like she’s at a party or in a bar. Elliot glances at me, so I get up off the sofa and out of his earshot.

“Why did you send me the books?” She’s slurring her words, and a wave of apprehension ripples down my spine.

“Anastasia, are you okay? You sound strange.”

“I’m not the strange one, you are.” Her tone is accusatory.

“Anastasia, have you been drinking?”

Hell. Who is she with? The photographer? Where’s her friend Kate?

“What’s it to you?” She sounds surly and belligerent, and I know she’s drunk, but I also need to know that she’s okay.

“I’m…curious. Where are you?”

“In a bar.”

“Which bar?” Tell me. Anxiety blooms in my gut. She’s a young woman, drunk, somewhere in Portland. She’s not safe.

“A bar in Portland.”

“How are you getting home?” I pinch the bridge of my nose in the vain hope that the action will distract me from my fraying temper.

“I’ll find a way.”

What the hell? Will she drive? I ask her again which bar she’s in and she ignores my question.

“Why did you send me the books, Christian?”

“Anastasia, where are you? Tell me now.”

How will she get home?

“You’re so…domineering.” She giggles. In any other situation I would find this charming. But right now—I want to show her how domineering I can be. She’s driving me crazy.

“Ana, so help me, where the fuck are you?”

She giggles again. Shit, she’s laughing at me!

Again!

“I’m in Portland…’s a long way from Seattle.”

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