Home > Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)(2)

Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)(2)
E.L. James

"Ready to party, Mrs. Grey?" Christian murmurs, giving me his shy smile. I melt. He looks divine in a simple black tux with silver waistcoat and tie. He's so . . . dashing.

"Ready as I'll ever be." I grin, a totally goofy smile on my face. Later the wedding party is in full swing . . . Carrick and Grace have gone to town. They have the marquee set up again and beautifully decorated in pale pink, silver and ivory with its sides open, facing the bay. We have been blessed with fine weather, and the late afternoon sun shines over the water. There's a dance floor at one end of the marquee, a lavish buffet at the other.

Ray and my mother are dancing and laughing with each other. I feel bittersweet watching them together. I hope Christian and I last longer. I don't know what I'd do if he left me. Marry in haste, repent at leisure. The saying haunts me.

Kate is beside me, looking so beautiful in her long silk gown. She glances at me and frowns. "Hey, this is supposed to be the happiest day of your life," she scolds.

"It is," I whisper.

"Oh Ana, what's wrong? Are you watching your mom and Ray?"

I nod sadly.

"They're happy."

"Happier apart."

"You're having doubts?" Kate asks, alarmed.

"No, not at all. It's just . . . I love him so much." I freeze, unable or unwilling to articulate my fears.

"Ana, it's obvious he adores you. I know you had an unconventional start to your relationship, but I can see how happy you've both been over the past month." She grasps my hands, squeezing them. "Besides, it's too late now," she adds, grinning at me.

I giggle. Trust Kate to point out the obvious. She pulls me into a Katherine Kavanagh Special Hug. "Ana, you'll be fine. And if he does hurt one hair on your head, he'll have me to answer to." Releasing me, she grins at whoever is behind me.

"Hi, baby." Christian puts his arms around me, surprising me, and kisses my temple. "Kate," he acknowledges. He's still cool toward her even after six weeks.

"Hello again, Christian. I'm off to find your best man, who happens to be my best man, too." With a smile to us both, she heads over to Elliot, who is drinking with her brother Ethan and our friend Jose.

"Time to go," Christian murmurs.

"Already? This is the first party I've been to where I don't mind being the center of attention." I turn in his arms to face him.

"You deserve to be. You look stunning, Anastasia."

"So do you."

He smiles down at me, his expression heating. "This beautiful dress becomes you."

"This old thing?" I flush shyly and pull at the fine lace trim of the simple, fitted wedding dress designed for me by Kate's mother. I love that the lace is just off the shoulder; demure, yet alluring, I hope. He bends and kisses me. "Let's go. I don't want to share you with all these people anymore."

"Can we leave our own wedding?"

"Baby, it's our party, and we can do whatever we want. We've cut the cake. And right now, I'd like to whisk you away and have you all to myself."

I giggle. "You have me for a lifetime, Mr. Grey."

"I'm very glad to hear that, Mrs. Grey."

"Oh, there you two are! Such lovebirds."

I groan inwardly . . . Grace's mother has found us.

"Christian, darling - one more dance with your grandma?"

Christian's lips purse slightly.

"Of course, Grandmother."

"And you, beautiful Anastasia, go and make an old man happy -

dance with Theo."

"Theo?"

"Grandpa Trevelyan.'

"Oh, I think you can call me Grandma. Now, you two seriously need to get working on my great-grandkids. I won't last too much longer." She gives us both a simpering smile. Christian blinks at her in horror.

"Come, Grandmother," he says, hurriedly taking her hand and leading her to the dance floor. He glances back at me, practically pouting, and rolls his eyes. "Laters, baby."

As I walk toward Grandpa Trevelyan, Jose accosts me.

"I won't ask you for another dance. I think I monopolized too much of your time on the dance floor as it is . . . I'm happy to see you happy, but I'm serious, Ana. I'll be here . . . If you need me."

"Jose, thank you. You're a good friend."

"I mean it." His dark eyes burn bright with sincerity.

"I know you do. Thank you, Jose. Now if you'll please excuse me -

I have a date with an old man."

He blinks at me in incomprehension.

"Christian's grandfather," I clarify.

He grins. "Good luck with that, Annie. Good luck with everything."

"Thanks, Jose."

After my dance with Christian's ever-charming grandfather, I stand by the French doors, watching the sun sink slowly over Seattle, casting bright orange and aquamarine shadows across the bay.

"Let's go," Christian urges.

"I have to change." I grasp his hand, meaning to pull him through the French windows and upstairs with me. He frowns, not understanding, and tugs gently on my hand, halting me.

"I thought you wanted to be the one to take this dress off," I explain. His eyes light up.

"Correct." He gives me a lascivious grin. "But I'm not undressing you here. We wouldn't leave until . . . I don't know . . ." He waves his long-fingered hand, leaving his sentence unfinished but his meaning quite clear.

I flush and let go of his hand.

"And don't take your hair down either," he murmurs darkly.

"But - "

"No buts, Anastasia. You look beautiful. And I want to be the one to undress you."

Oh. I frown.

"Pack your going-away clothes," he orders. "You'll need them. Taylor has your main suitcase."

"Okay." What has he got planned? He hasn't told me where we're going. In fact, I don't think anyone knows where we're going. Neither Mia nor Kate has managed to inveigle the information out of him. I turn to where my mother and Kate are hovering nearby.

"I'm not changing."

"What?" my mother says.

"Christian doesn't want me to." I shrug as if this should explain everything. Her brow furrows briefly.

"You didn't promise to obey," she reminds me tactfully. Kate tries to disguise her snort as a cough. I narrow my eyes at her. Neither she nor my mother have any idea of the fight Christian and I had about that. I don't want to rehash that argument. Jeez, can my Fifty Shades sulk . . . and have nightmares. The memory is sobering.

"I know, Mom, but he likes this dress, and I want to please him."

Her expression softens. Kate rolls her eyes and tactfully moves away to leave me alone with my mother.

"You look so lovely, darling." Carla gently tugs at a loose tendril of my hair and strokes my chin. "I am so proud of you, honey. You're going to make Christian a very happy man." She pulls me into a hug. Oh Mom! "I can't believe how grown-up you look right now. Beginning a new life . . . Just remember that men are from a different planet, and you'll be fine."

I giggle. Christian is from a different universe, if only she knew.

"Thanks, Mom."

Ray joins us, smiling sweetly at both Mom and me.

"You made a beautiful baby girl, Carla," he says, his eyes glowing with pride. He looks so dapper in his black tux and pale pink waistcoat. Tears prick the back of my eyes. Oh no . . . so far I have managed not to cry.

"And you watched her and helped her grow up, Ray," Carla's voice is wistful.

"And I loved every single minute. You make one hell of a bride, Annie," Ray tucks the same loose strand of hair behind my ear.

"Oh, Dad . . ." I stifle a sob, and he hugs me in his brief, awkward way.

"You'll make one hell of a wife, too," he whispers, his voice hoarse. When he releases me, Christian is back at my side.

Ray shakes his hand warmly. "Look after my girl, Christian."

"I fully intend to, Ray. Carla." He nods at my stepdad and kisses my mom.

The rest of the wedding guests have formed a long human arch for us to travel through, leading round to the front of the house.

"Ready?" Christian says.

"Yes."

Taking my hand, he leads me under their outstretched arms while our guests shout good luck and congratulations and shower us with rice. Waiting with smiles and hugs at the end of the arch are Grace and Carrick. In turn they hug and kiss us both. Grace is emotional again as we bid them hasty goodbyes.

Taylor is waiting to whisk us away in the Audi SUV. As Christian holds the car door open for me, I turn and toss my bouquet of white and pink roses into the crowd of young women that has gathered. Mia triumphantly holds it aloft, grinning from ear to ear. As I slide into the SUV laughing at Mia's audacious catch, Christian bends to gather the hem of my dress. Once I'm safely in, he bids the waiting crowd a farewell.

Taylor holds the car door open for him. "Congratulations, sir."

"Thank you, Taylor," Christian replies as he seats himself beside me.

As Taylor pulls away, the vehicle is showered with rice by our wedding guests. Christian grasps my hand and kisses my knuckles.

"So far so good, Mrs. Grey?"

"So far so wonderful, Mr. Grey. Where are we going?"

"Sea-Tac," he says simply and smiles a sphinxlike smile. Hmm . . . what is he planning?

Taylor does not head for the departure terminal as I expect but through a security gate and directly on to the tarmac. What? And then I see her - Christian's jet . . . Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. in large blue lettering across her fuselage.

"Don't tell me you're misusing company property again!"

"Oh, I hope so, Anastasia." Christian grins.

Taylor halts at the foot of the steps leading up to the plane and leaps out of the Audi to open Christian's door. They have a brief discussion, then Christian opens my door - and rather than stepping back to give me room to climb out, he leans in and lifts me.

Whoa!

"What are you doing?" I squeak.

"Carrying you over the threshold," he says.

"Oh." Isn't that supposed to be at home?

He carries me effortlessly up the steps, and Taylor follows with my small suitcase. He leaves it on the threshold of the plane before returning to the Audi. Inside the cabin, I recognize Stephan, Christian's pilot, in his uniform.

"Welcome aboard, sir, Mrs. Grey." He grins at us both. Christian puts me down and shakes Stephan's hand. Beside Stephan stands a dark-haired woman in her what? Early thirties? She's also in uniform.

"Congratulations to you both," Stephan continues.

"Thank you, Stephan. Anastasia, you know Stephan. He's our captain today, and this is First Officer Beighley."

She blushes as Christian introduces her and blinks rapidly. I want to roll my eyes. Another female completely captivated by my toohandsome-for-his-own-good husband.

"Delighted to meet you," gushes Beighley. I smile kindly at her. After all - he is mine.

"All preparations complete?" Christian asks them both as I glance around the cabin. The interior is all pale maple wood and pale cream leather. It's lovely. Another young woman in uniform stands at the other end of the cabin - a very pretty brunette. Who the hell is that?

"We have the all clear. Weather is good from here to Boston."

Boston?

"Turbulence?"

"Not before Boston. There's a weather front over Shannon that might give us a rough ride."

Shannon? Ireland?

"I see. Well, I hope to sleep through it all," says Christian matter-offactly. Sleep?

"We'll get underway, sir," Stephan says. "We'll leave you in the capable care of Natalia, your flight attendant." Christian glances in her direction and frowns, but turns to Stephan with a smile.

"Excellent," he says. Taking my hand, he leads me to one of the sumptuous leather seats. There must be about twelve of them in total.

"Sit," he says as he removes his jacket and undoes his fine sliver brocade vest. We sit in two single seats facing each other with a small, highly polished table between us.

"Welcome aboard, sir, ma'am, and congratulations." Natalia is at our side, offering us both a glass of pink champagne.

"Thank you," Christian says, and she smiles politely at us and retreats to the galley.

"Here's to a happy married life, Anastasia." Christian raises his glass to mine, and we chink. The champagne is delicious.

"Bollinger?" I ask.

"The same."

"The first time I drank this it was out of teacups." I grin at him.

"I remember that day well. Your graduation."

"Where are we going?" I'm unable to contain my curiosity any longer.

"Shannon," Christian says, his eyes alight with excitement. He looks like a small boy.

"In Ireland?" We're going to Ireland!

"To refuel," he adds, teasing.

"Then?" I prompt.

His grin broadens and he shakes his head.

"Christian!"

"London," he says, gazing intently at me, trying to gauge my reaction.

I gasp . Holy cow. I thought maybe we'd be going to New York or Aspen or maybe the Caribbean. I can hardly believe it. My lifetime ambition has been to visit England. I'm lit up from within, incandescent with happiness.

"Then Paris," he adds.

What?

"Then the South of France."

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