Home > Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian(11)

Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian(11)
E.L. James

“Where in Portland?”

“Good night, Christian.” The line goes dead.

“Ana!”

She hung up on me! I stare at the phone in disbelief. No one has ever hung up on me. What the fuck!

“What’s the problem?” Elliot calls over from the sofa.

“I’ve just been drunk-dialed.” I peer at him and his mouth drops open in surprise.

“You?”

“Yep.” I press the callback button, trying to contain my temper, and my anxiety.

“Hi,” she says, all breathy and timid, and she’s in quieter surroundings.

“I’m coming to get you.” My voice is arctic as I wrestle with my anger and snap my phone shut.

“I’ve got to go get this girl and take her home. Do you want to come?”

Elliot is staring at me as if I’ve grown three heads.

“You? With a chick? This I have to see.” Elliot grabs his sneakers and starts putting them on.

“I just have to make a call.” I wander into his bedroom while I decide if I should call Barney or Welch. Barney is the most senior engineer in the telecommunications division of my company. He’s a tech genius. But what I want is not strictly legal.

Best to keep this away from my company.

I speed-dial Welch and within seconds his rasping voice answers.

“Mr. Grey?”

“I’d really like to know where Anastasia Steele is right now.”

“I see.” He pauses for a moment. “Leave it to me, Mr. Grey.”

I know this is outside the law, but she could be getting herself into trouble.

“Thank you.”

“I’ll get back to you in a couple of minutes.”

Elliot is rubbing his hands with glee, with a stupid smirk on his face when I return to the living room.

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” he says, gloating.

“I’m just going to get the car keys. I’ll meet you in the garage in five,” I growl, ignoring his smug face.

THE BAR IS CROWDED, full of students determined to have a good time. There’s some indie crap thumping over the sound system and the dance floor is crowded with heaving bodies.

It makes me feel old.

She’s here somewhere.

Elliot has followed me in through the front door. “Do you see her?” he shouts over the noise. Scanning the room, I spot Katherine Kavanagh. She’s with a group of friends, all of them men, sitting in a booth. There’s no sign of Ana, but the table is littered with shot glasses and tumblers of beer.

Well, let’s see if Miss Kavanagh is as loyal to her friend as Ana is to her.

She looks at me in surprise when we arrive at her table.

“Katherine,” I say by way of greeting, and she interrupts me before I can ask her Ana’s whereabouts.

“Christian, what a surprise to see you here,” she shouts above the noise. The three guys at the table regard Elliot and me with hostile wariness.

“I was in the neighborhood.”

“And who’s this?” She smiles rather too brightly at Elliot, interrupting me again. What an exasperating woman.

“This is my brother Elliot. Elliot, Katherine Kavanagh. Where’s Ana?”

Her smile broadens at Elliot, and I’m surprised by his answering grin.

“I think she went outside for some fresh air,” Kavanagh responds, but she doesn’t look at me. She has eyes only for Mr. Love ’Em and Leave ’Em. Well, it’s her funeral.

“Outside? Where?” I shout.

“Oh. That way.” She points to double doors at the far end of the bar.

Pushing through the throng, I make my way to the door, leaving the three disgruntled men and Kavanagh and Elliot engaged in a grin-off.

Through the double doors there is a line for the ladies’ washroom, and beyond that a door that’s open to the outside. It’s at the back of the bar. Ironically, it leads to the parking lot where Elliot and I have just been.

Walking outside, I find myself in a gathering space adjacent to the parking lot—a hangout flanked by raised flowerbeds, where a few people are smoking, drinking, chatting. Making out. I spot her.

Hell! She’s with the photographer, I think, though it’s difficult to tell in the dim light. She’s in his arms, but she seems to be twisting away from him. He mutters something to her, which I don’t hear, and kisses her, along her jaw.

“José, no,” she says, and then it’s clear. She’s trying to push him off.

She doesn’t want this.

For a moment I want to rip his head off. With my hands fisted at my side I march up to them. “I think the lady said no.” My voice carries, cold and sinister, in the relative quiet, while I struggle to contain my anger.

He releases Ana and she squints at me with a dazed, drunken expression.

“Grey,” he says, his voice terse, and it takes every ounce of my self-control not to smash the disappointment off his face.

Ana heaves, then buckles over and vomits on the ground.

Oh, shit!

“Ugh—Dios mío, Ana!” José leaps out of the way in disgust.

Fucking idiot.

Ignoring him, I grab her hair and hold it out of the way as she continues to throw up everything she’s had this evening. It’s with some annoyance that I note she doesn’t appear to have eaten. With my arm around her shoulders I lead her away from the curious onlookers toward one of the flowerbeds. “If you’re going to throw up again, do it here. I’ll hold you.” It’s darker here. She can puke in peace. She vomits again and again, her hands on the brick. It’s pitiful. Once her stomach is empty, she continues to retch, long dry heaves.

Boy, she’s got it bad.

Finally her body relaxes and I think she’s finished. Releasing her, I give her my handkerchief, which by some miracle I have in the inside pocket of my jacket.

Thank you, Mrs. Jones.

Wiping her mouth, she turns and rests against the bricks, avoiding eye contact because she’s ashamed and embarrassed. And yet I’m so pleased to see her. Gone is my fury at the photographer. I’m delighted to be standing in the parking lot of a student bar in Portland with Miss Anastasia Steele.

She puts her head in her hands, cringes, then peeks up at me, still mortified. Turning to the door, she glares over my shoulder. I assume it’s at her “friend.”

“I’ll, um, see you inside,” José says, but I don’t turn to stare him down, and to my delight, she ignores him, too, returning her eyes to mine.

“I’m sorry,” she says finally, while her fingers twist the soft linen.

Okay, let’s have some fun.

“What are you sorry for, Anastasia?”

“The phone call, mainly. Being sick. Oh, the list is endless,” she mumbles.

“We’ve all been here, perhaps not quite as dramatically as you.” Why is it such fun to tease this young woman? “It’s about knowing your limits, Anastasia. I mean, I’m all for pushing limits, but really this is beyond the pale. Do you make a habit of this kind of behavior?”

Perhaps she has a problem with alcohol. The thought is worrying, and I consider whether I should call my mother for a referral to a detox clinic.

Ana frowns for a moment, as if angry, that little v forming between her brows, and I suppress the urge to kiss it. But when she speaks she sounds contrite.

“No,” she says. “I’ve never been drunk before and right now I have no desire to ever be again.” She looks up at me, her eyes unfocused, and she sways a little. She might pass out, so without giving it a thought I scoop her up into my arms.

She’s surprisingly light. Too light. The thought irks me. No wonder she’s drunk.

“Come on, I’ll take you home.”

“I need to tell Kate,” she says, as her head rests on my shoulder.

“My brother can tell her.”

“What?”

“My brother Elliot is talking to Miss Kavanagh.”

“Oh?”

“He was with me when you called.”

“In Seattle?”

“No, I’m staying at The Heathman.”

And my wild-goose chase has paid off.

“How did you find me?”

“I tracked your cell phone, Anastasia.” I head toward the car. I want to drive her home. “Do you have a jacket or a purse?”

“Er…yes, I came with both. Christian, please, I need to tell Kate. She’ll worry.”

I stop and bite my tongue. Kavanagh wasn’t worried about her being out here with the overamorous photographer. Rodriguez. That’s his name. What kind of friend is she? The lights from the bar illuminate her anxious face.

As much as it pains me, I put her down and agree to take her inside. Holding hands, we walk back into the bar, stopping at Kate’s table. One of the young men is still sitting there, looking annoyed and abandoned.

“Where’s Kate?” Ana shouts above the noise.

“Dancing,” the guy says, his dark eyes staring at the dance floor. Ana collects her jacket and purse and, reaching out, she unexpectedly clutches my arm.

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