Home > Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)(10)

Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)(10)
E.L. James

"Hey!" I exclaim and take more photographs of him, smiling down at me with dark intent. He grabs the camera by the lens, and the photographer becomes the subject as he points the Nikon at me and presses the shutter down.

"So, you want me to take pictures of you, Mrs. Grey?" he says, amused. All I can see of his face is his unruly hair and a broad grin on his sculptured mouth. "Well, for a start, I think you should be laughing," he says, and he tickles me ruthlessly under my ribs, making me squeal and giggle and squirm beneath him until I grasp his wrist in a vain attempt to make him stop. His grin widens, and he renews his efforts while snapping pictures.

"No! Stop!" I scream.

"Are you kidding?" he growls and puts the camera down beside us so that he can torture me with both hands.

"Christian!" I splutter and gasp my laughing protest. He has never, ever tickled me before. Fuck - stop! I thrash my head from side to side, trying to wiggle out from under him, giggling and pushing both of his hands away, but he's unrelenting - grinning down at me, enjoying my torment.

"Christian, stop!" I plead and he stops suddenly. Grabbing both of my hands, he holds them down on either side of my head while looming over me. I am panting and breathless with laughter. His breathing mirrors mine, and he gazes down at me with . . . what? My lungs stop functioning. Wonder? Love? Reverence? Holy cow. That look!

"You. Are. So. Beautiful," he breathes.

I stare up at him, at his dear, dear divine face; bathed in the intensity of his gaze, and it's as if he's seeing me for the first time. Leaning down, he closes his eyes and kisses me, enraptured. His response is a wake-up call to my libido . . . seeing him like this, undone, by me. Oh my. He releases my hands and curls his fingers around my head and into my hair, holding me gently in place, and my body rises and fills with my arousal, responding to his kiss. And suddenly the nature of his kiss alters, no longer sweet, reverential and admiring, but carnal, deep and devouring - his tongue invading my mouth, taking not giving, his kiss possessing a desperate needy edge. As desire courses through my blood, awakening every muscle and sinew in its wake, I feel a frisson of alarm.

Oh Fifty, what's wrong?

He inhales sharply and groans. "Oh, what you do to me," he murmurs, lost and raw. He moves suddenly, lying down on top of me, pressing me into the mattress - one hand cupping my chin, the other skimming over my body, my breast, my waist, my hip, and around my behind. He kisses me again, pushing his leg between mine, raising my knee, and grinding against me, his erection straining against our clothes and my sex. I gasp and moan against his lips, losing myself to his fervent passion. I dismiss the distant alarm bells in the back of my mind, knowing that he wants me, that he needs me, and that when it comes to communicating with me, this is his favorite form of self expression. I kiss him with renewed abandon, running my fingers through his hair, fisting my hands, holding tight. He tastes so good and smells of Christian, my Christian.

Abruptly, he stops, stands up, and pulls me off the bed so that I am standing in front of him, dazed. He undoes the button on my shorts and kneels quickly, yanking them and my panties down, and before I can breathe again, I am back on the bed beneath him and he's unbuttoning his fly. Holy cow, he's not taking off his clothes or my T-shirt. He holds my head and with no preamble whatsoever he thrusts himself inside me, making me cry out - more in surprise than anything else -

but I can still hear the hiss of his breath forced through his clenched teeth.

"Yessss," he breathes close to my ear. He stills, then swivels his h*ps once, pushing deeper, making me groan.

"I need you," he growls, his voice low and husky. He runs his teeth along my jaw, nipping and sucking, and then he's kissing me again, hard. I wrap my legs and arms around him, cradling and holding him hard against me, determined to wipe out whatever's worrying him, and he starts to move . . . move like he's trying to climb inside me. Over and over, frantic, primal, desperate, and before I lose myself in the insane rhythm and pace he's setting, I briefly wonder once more what's driving him, worrying him. But my body takes over, obliterating the thought, climbing and building so I am awash with sensation, meeting him thrust for thrust. Listening to his harsh breathing, labored and fierce at my ear. Knowing that he's lost in me. . . I groan loudly, panting. It's so erotic - his need, his need for me. I am reaching . . . reaching . . . and he's driving me higher, overwhelming me, taking me, and I want this. I want this so much . . . for him and for me.

"Come with me," he gasps, and he rears up over me so I have to break my hold around him.

"Open your eyes," he orders. "I need to see you." His voice is urgent, implacable. My eyes flicker open momentarily, and the sight of him above me - his face taut with ardor, his eyes raw and glowing with need. His passion and his love is my undoing, and on cue I come, throwing my head back as my body pulses around him.

"Oh, Ana," he cries and he joins my cl**ax, driving into me, then stilling and collapsing onto me. He rolls over so that I'm sprawled on top of him, and he's still inside me. As I surface from my orgasm and my body steadies and calms, I want to make some quip about being objectified and oppressed, but hold my tongue, uncertain of his mood. I glance up from Christian's chest to examine his face. His eyes are closed and his arms are wrapped around me, clinging tight. I kiss his chest through the thin fabric of his linen shirt.

"Tell me, Christian, what's wrong?" I ask softly and wait anxiously to see if even now, sated by sex, he'll tell me. I feel his arms tighten around me further, but it's his only response. He's not going to talk. Inspiration hits me.

"I give you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, to stand by your side in good times and in bad, to share your joy as well as your sorrow," I murmur.

He freezes. His only movement is to open wide his fathomless eyes and gaze at me as I continue my wedding vows.

"I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals and dreams, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, to share my hopes and dreams with you, and bring you solace in times of need." I pause, willing him to talk to me. He watches me, his lips parted, but says nothing.

"And to cherish you for as long as we both shall live." I sigh.

"Oh, Ana," he whispers and moves again, breaking our precious contact so that we're lying side by side. He strokes my face with the back of his knuckles.

"I solemnly vow that I will safeguard and hold dear and deep in my heart our union and you," he whispers, his voice hoarse . "I promise to love you faithfully, forsaking all others, through the good times and the bad, in sickness or in health, regardless of where life takes us. I will protect you, trust you, and respect you. I will share your joys and sorrows and comfort you in times of need. I promise to cherish you and uphold your hopes and dreams and keep you safe at my side. All that is mine is now yours. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love from this moment on for as long as we both shall live."

Tears spring to my eyes. His face softens as he gazes at me.

"Don't cry," he murmurs, his thumb catching and dispatching a stray tear.

"Why won't you talk to me? Please, Christian."

He closes his eyes as if in pain.

"I vowed I would bring you solace in times of need. Please don't make me break my vows."

He sighs and opens his eyes, his expression bleak. "It's arson," he says simply, and he looks suddenly so young and vulnerable. Oh fuck.

"And my biggest worry is that they are after me. And if they are after me - " He stops, unable to continue.

". . . They might get me," I whisper. He blanches and I know that I have finally uncovered the root of his anxiety. Reaching up, I caress his face.

"Thank you," I murmur.

He frowns. "What for?"

"For telling me."

He shakes his head and a ghost of a smile touches his lips. "You can be very persuasive, Mrs. Grey."

"And you can brood and internalize all your feelings and worry yourself to death. You'll probably die of a heart attack before you're forty, and I want you around far longer than that."

"Mrs. Grey, you'll be the death of me. The sight of you on the Jet Ski - I nearly had a coronary." He flops back on the bed and puts his hand over his eyes, and I feel him shudder.

"Christian, it's a Jet Ski. Even kids ride Jet Skis. Can you imagine what you'll be like when we visit your place in Aspen and I go skiing for the first time?"

He gasps and turns to face me, and I want to laugh at the horror on his face.

"Our place," he says eventually.

I ignore him. "I'm a grown-up, Christian, and much tougher than I look. When are you going to learn this?"

He shrugs and his mouth thins. I decide to change the subject.

"So, the fire. Do the police know about the arson?"

"Yes." His expression is serious.

"Good."

"Security is going to get tighter," he says matter-of-factly.

"I understand." I glance down his body. He's still wearing his shorts and his shirt, and I still have my T-shirt on. Jeez - talk about wham, bam, thank you ma'am. The thought makes me giggle.

"What?" Christian asks, bemused.

"You."

"Me?"

"Yes. You. Still dressed."

"Oh." He glances down at himself, then back at me, and his face erupts into an enormous smile.

"Well, you know how hard it is for me to keep my hands off you, Mrs. Grey - especially when you're giggling like a schoolgirl."

Oh yes - the tickling. Gah! The tickling. I move quickly so that I'm straddling him, but immediately understanding my evil intent, he grabs both of my wrists.

"No," he says and he means it.

I pout at him but decide that he's not ready for this.

"Please don't," he whispers. "I couldn't bear it. I was never tickled as a child." He pauses and I relax my hands so he doesn't have to restrain me.

"I used to watch Carrick with Elliot and Mia, tickling them, and it looked like such fun, but I . . . I . . ."

I place my index finger on his lips.

"Hush, I know," I murmur and plant a soft kiss on his lips where my finger has just been, then curl up on his chest. The familiar painful ache swells inside me, and the profound sadness that I hold in my heart for Christian as a little boy seizes me once more. I know I would do anything for this man because I love him so.

He puts his arms around me and presses his nose into my hair, inhaling deeply as he gently strokes my back. I don't know how long we lie there, but eventually I break the comfortable silence between us.

"What is the longest you've gone without seeing Dr. Flynn?"

"Two weeks. Why? Do you have an incorrigible urge to tickle me?"

"No." I chuckle. "I think he helps you."

Christian snorts. "He should; I pay him enough." He pulls my hair gently, turning my face to look up at him. I lift my head and he gazes at me.

"Are you concerned for my well-being, Mrs. Grey?" he asks softly.

"Every good wife is concerned for her beloved husband's wellbeing, Mr. Grey," I admonish him teasingly.

"Beloved?" he whispers, and it's a poignant question hanging between us.

"Very much beloved." I scoot up to kiss him, and he smiles his shy smile.

"Do you want to go ashore to eat, Mrs. Grey?"

"I want to eat wherever you're happiest."

"Good." He grins. "Aboard it is where I can keep you safe. Thank you for my present." He reaches over and grabs the camera, and holding it at arm's length, he snaps the two of us in our post tickling, postcoital, post confessional embrace.

"The pleasure is all mine," I smile and his eyes light up.

We wander through the opulent, gilt splendor of the eighteenth century Palace of Versailles. Once a humble hunting lodge, it was transformed by the Roi Soleil into a magnificent, lavish seat of power, but even before the eighteenth century ended it saw the last of those absolute monarchs.

The most stunning room by far is the Hall of Mirrors. The early afternoon light floods through windows to the west, lighting up the mirrors that line the east wall and illuminating the gold leaf decor and the enormous crystal chandeliers. It's breathtaking.

"Interesting to see what becomes of a despotic megalomaniac who isolates himself in such splendor," I murmur to Christian as he stands at my side. He gazes down and cocks his head to one side, regarding me with humor.

"Your point, Mrs. Grey?"

"Oh, merely an observation, Mr. Grey." I wave my hand airily at the surroundings. Smirking, he follows me to the center of the room where I stand and gawk at the view - the spectacular gardens reflected in the looking glass and the spectacular Christian Grey, my husband, reflected back at me, his gaze bright and bold.

"I would build this for you," he whispers. "Just to see the way the light burnishes your hair, right here, right now." He tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. "You look like an angel." He kisses me just below my earlobe, takes my hand in his, and murmurs, "We despots do that for the women we love."

I flush at his compliment, smiling shyly, and follow him through the vast room.

"What are you thinking about?" Christian asks softly, taking a sip of his after-dinner coffee.

"Versailles."

"Ostentatious, wasn't it?" He grins. I glance around the more understated grandeur of the Fair Lady's dining room and purse my lips.

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