Home > Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)(5)

Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)(5)
E.L. James

"I need you more, Anastasia. These last few days have been purgatory. All my instincts tell me to let you go, tell me I don't deserve you.

"Those photos the boy took... I can see how he sees you. You look so untroubled and beautiful, not that you're not beautiful now, but here you sit. I see your pain. It's hard knowing that I'm the one who has made you feel this way.

"But I'm a selfish man. I've wanted you since you fell into my office. You are exquisite, honest, warm, strong, witty, beguilingly innocent; the list is endless. I am in awe of you. I want you, and the thought of anyone else having you is like a knife twisting in my dark soul."

My mouth goes dry. Holy shit. My subconscious nods with satisfaction. If that isn't a declaration of love, I don't know what is. And the words tumble out of me - a dam breached.

"Christian, why do you think you have a dark soul? I would never say that. Sad maybe, but you're a good man. I can see that... you're generous, you're kind, and you've never lied to me. And I haven't tried very hard.

"Last Saturday was such a shock to my system. It was my wake-up call. I realized that you'd been easy on me and that I couldn't be the person you wanted me to be. Then, after I left, it dawned on me that the physical pain you inflicted was not as bad as the pain of losing you. I do want to please you, but it's hard."

"You please me all the time," he whispers. "How often do I have to tell you that?"

"I never know what you're thinking. Sometimes you're so closed off... like an island state. You intimidate me. That's why I keep quiet. I don't know which way your mood is going to go. It swings from north to south and back again in a nanosecond. It's confusing and you won't let me touch you, and I want to so much to show you how much I love you."

He blinks at me in the darkness, warily I think, and I can resist him no longer. I unbuckle my seatbelt and scramble into his lap, taking him by surprise, and take his head in my hands.

"I love you, Christian Grey. And you're prepared to do all this for me. I'm the one who is undeserving, and I'm just sorry that I can't do all those things for you. Maybe with time... I don't know... but yes, I accept your proposition. Where do I sign?"

He snakes his arms around me and crushes me to him.

"Oh, Ana," he breathes as he buries his nose in my hair.

We sit, our arms wrapped around each other, listening to the music - a soothing piano piece - mirroring the emotions in the car, the sweet tranquil calm after the storm. I snuggle into his arms, resting my head in the crook of his neck. He gently strokes my back.

"Touching is a hard limit for me, Anastasia," he whispers.

"I know. I wish I understood why."

After a while, he sighs, and in a soft voice he says, "I had a horrific childhood. One of the crack whore's pimps..." His voice trails off, and his body tenses as he recalls some unimaginable horror. "I can remember that," he whispers, shuddering.

Abruptly, my heart constricts as I remember the burn scars marring his skin. Oh, Christian. I tighten my arms around his neck.

"Was she abusive? Your mother?" My voice is low and soft with unshed tears.

"Not that I remember. She was neglectful. She didn't protect me from her pimp."

He snorts. "I think it was me who looked after her. When she finally killed herself, it took four days for someone to raise the alarm and find us... I remember that."

I cannot contain my gasp of horror. Holy mother fuck. Bile rises in my throat.

"That's pretty fucked-up," I whisper.

"Fifty shades," he murmurs.

I turn my head and press my lips against his neck, seeking and offering solace as I imagine a small, dirty, gray-eyed boy lost and lonely beside the body of his dead mother.

Oh, Christian. I breathe in his scent. He smells heavenly, my favorite fragrance in the entire world. He tightens his arms around me and kisses my hair, and I sit wrapped in his embrace as Taylor speeds into the night.

When I wake, we're driving through Seattle.

"Hey," Christian says softly.

"Sorry," I murmur as I sit up, blinking and stretching. I am still in his arms, on his lap.

"I could watch you sleep forever, Ana."

"Did I say anything?"

"No. We're nearly at your place."

Oh? "We're not going to yours?"

"No."

I sit up and gaze at him. "Why not?"

"Because you have work tomorrow."

"Oh." I pout.

He smirks at me. "Why, did you have something in mind?"

I flush. "Well, maybe."

He chuckles. "Anastasia, I am not going to touch you again, not until you beg me to."

"What!"

"So that you'll start communicating with me. Next time we make love, you're going to have to tell me exactly what you want in fine detail."

"Oh." He shifts me off his lap as Taylor pulls up outside my apartment. Christian climbs out and holds the car door open for me.

"I have something for you." He moves to the back of the car, opens the trunk, and pulls out a large gift-wrapped box. What the hell is this?

"Open it when you get inside."

"You're not coming in?"

"No, Anastasia."

"So when will I see you?"

"Tomorrow."

"My boss wants me to go for a drink with him tomorrow."

Christian's face hardens. "Does he, now?" His voice is laced with latent menace.

"To celebrate my first week," I add quickly.

"Where?"

"I don't know."

"I could pick you up from there."

"Okay... I'll e-mail or text you."

"Good."

He walks me to the lobby door and waits while I dig my keys out of my purse. As I unlock the door, he leans forward and cups my chin, tilting my head back. His mouth hov-

ers over mine, and closing his eyes, he runs a trail of kisses from the corner of my eye to the corner of my mouth.

A small moan escapes my mouth as my insides melt and unfurl.

"Until tomorrow," he breathes.

"Goodnight, Christian," I whisper, and I hear the need in my voice.

He smiles.

"In you go," he orders, and I walk through the lobby carrying my mysterious parcel.

"Laters, baby," he calls, then turns and with his easy grace, heads back to the car.

Once in the apartment, I open the gift box and find my MacBook Pro laptop, the Blackberry, and another rectangular box. What is this? I unwrap the silver paper. Inside is a black, slim, leather case.

Opening the case, I find an iPad. Holy shit... an iPad. A white card is resting on the screen with a message written in Christian's handwriting: Holy cow. I have a Christian Grey mix-tape in the guise of a high-end iPad. I shake my head in disapproval because of the expense, but deep down I love it. Jack at the office has one, so I know how they work.

I switch it on and gasp as the wallpaper image appears: a small model glider. Oh my.

It's the Blanik L23 I gave him, mounted on a glass stand and sitting on what I think is Christian's desk at his office. I gape at it.

He built it! He really did build it. I remember now he mentioned it in the note with the flowers. I'm reeling, and I know in that instant that he's put a great deal of thought into this gift.

I slide the arrow at the bottom of the screen to unlock it and gasp again. The background photograph is of Christian and me at my graduation in the marquee. It's the one that appeared in the Seattle Times. Christian looks so handsome and I can't help my face-splitting grin, as my inner goddess curls up hugging herself on her chaise longue -  Yes, and he's mine!

With a swipe of my finger, the icons shift, and several new ones appear on the next screen. A Kindle app, iBooks, Words - whatever that is.

Holy shit! The British Library? I touch the icon and a menu appears: Historical collection. Scrolling down, I select novels of tHe 18tH and 19tH century. Another menu. I tap on a title: The AmericAn by Henry James. A new window opens, offering me a scanned copy of the book to read. Holy crap - it's an early edition, published in 1879, and it's on my iPad! He's bought me the British Library at a touch of a button.

I exit quickly, knowing that I could be lost in this app for an eternity. I notice a "good food" app that makes me roll my eyes and smile at the same time, a news app, a weather app, but his note mentioned music. I go back to the main screen, hit the iPod icon and a

playlist appears. I scroll through the songs, and the list makes me smile. Thomas Tallis -

I'm not going to forget that in a hurry. I heard it twice, after all, while he flogged and f**ked me. "Witchcraft." My grin gets wider - dancing round the great room. The Bach Marcello piece -  oh no, that's way too sad for my mood right now. Hmm. Jeff Buckley -  yeah, I've heard of him. Snow Patrol - my favorite band - and a song called "Principles of Lust" by Enigma. How Christian. I smirk. Another called "Possession"... oh yes, very Fifty Shades.

And a few more I have never heard.

Selecting a song that catches my eye, I press play. It's called "Try" by Nellie Furtado.

She starts to sing, and her voice is a silken scarf wrapping around me, enveloping me. I lie down on my bed.

Does this mean Christian's going to try? Try this new relationship? I drink in the lyrics, staring at the ceiling, trying to understand his turnaround. He missed me. I missed him. He must have some feelings for me. He must. This iPad, these songs, these apps - he cares. He really cares. My heart swells with hope.

The song ends and tears spring to my eyes. I quickly scroll to another - "The Scientist"

by Coldplay - one of Kate's favorite bands. I know the track, but I've never really listened to the lyrics before. I close my eyes and let the words wash over and through me.

My tears start to flow. I can't stem them. If this isn't an apology, what is it? Oh, Christian. Or is this an invitation? Will he answer my questions? Am I reading too much into this?

I am probably reading too much into this. My subconscious nods at me, trying to hide her pity.I dash my tears away. I have to e-mail him to thank him. I leap off my bed to fetch the mean machine.

Coldplay continues as I sit cross-legged on my bed. The Mac powers up and I log in.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: IPAD

Date: June 9, 2011 23:56

To: Christian Grey

You've made me cry again.

I love the iPad.

I love the songs.

I love the British Library App.

I love you.

Thank you.

Goodnight.

Ana xx

From: Christian Grey

Subject: iPad

Date: June 10, 2011 00:03

To: Anastasia Steele

I'm glad you like it. I bought one for myself.

Now, if I were there, I would kiss away your tears.

But I'm not - so go to sleep.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

His response makes me smile, still so bossy, still so Christian. Will that change, too? And I realize in that moment that I hope not. I like him like this - commanding - as long as I can stand up to him without fear of punishment.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Mr. Grumpy

Date: June 10, 2011 00:07

To: Christian Grey

You sound your usual bossy and possibly tense, possibly grumpy self, Mr. Grey.

I know something that could ease that. But then, you're not here - you wouldn't let me stay, and you expect me to beg...

Dream on, Sir.

Ana xx

PS: I also note that you included the Stalker's Anthem, "Every Breath You Take." I do enjoy your sense of humor, but does Dr. Flynn know?

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Zen-Like Calm

Date: June 10, 2011 00.10

To: Anastasia Steele

My Dearest Miss Steele

Spanking occurs in vanilla relationships, too, you know. Usually consensually and in a sexual context... but I am more than happy to make an exception.

You'll be relieved to know that Dr. Flynn also enjoys my sense of humor.

Now, please go to sleep as you won't get much tomorrow.

Incidentally - you will beg, trust me. And I look forward to it.

Christian Grey

Tense CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Goodnight, Sweet Dreams

Date: June 10, 2011 00:12

To: Christian Grey

Well, since you ask so nicely, and I like your delicious threat, I shall curl up with the iPad that you have so kindly given me and fall asleep browsing in the British Library, listening to the music that says it for you.

A xxx

From: Christian Grey

Subject: One more request

Date: June 10, 2011 00:15

To: Anastasia Steele

Dream of me.

x

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

Dream of you, Christian Grey? Always.

I change quickly into my pajamas, brush my teeth, and slip into bed. Putting my ear buds in, I pull the flattened Charlie Tango balloon from underneath my pillow and hug it to me.

I am brimming with joy, a stupid, widemouthed grin on my face. What a difference a day can make. How am I ever going to sleep?

Jose Gonzalez starts to sing a soothing melody with a hypnotic guitar riff, and I drift slowly into sleep, marveling how the world has righted itself in one evening and wondering idly if I should make a playlist for Christian.

Chapter Three

The one good thing about being car-less is that on the bus on my way to work, I can plug my headphones into my iPad while it's safely in my purse and listen to all the wonderful tunes Christian has given me. By the time I arrive at the office, I have the most ludicrous grin on my face.

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