Home > Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)(4)

Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)(4)
E.L. James

Christian leads me into the hotel, through the lobby, and out onto the street. He remains silent, brooding, and bad-tempered, and it's all my fault. Taylor and his team shadow us.

"Where are we going?" I ask tentatively, gazing up at him.

"Back to the boat." He doesn't look at me.

I have no idea of the time. I think it must be about five or six in the afternoon. When we reach the quayside, Christian leads me onto the dock where the motorboat and Jet Ski belonging to the Fair Lady are moored. As Christian unties the Jet Ski, I hand my backpack to Taylor. I glance nervously up at him, but like Christian, his expression gives nothing away. I flush, thinking about what he's seen on the beach.

"Here you go, Mrs. Grey." Taylor passes me a life vest from the motorboat, and I dutifully put it on. Why am I the only one who has to wear a life jacket? Christian and Taylor exchange some kind of look. Jeez, is he angry with Taylor, too? Christian then checks the straps on my life jacket, cinching the middle one tightly.

"You'll do," he mutters sullenly, still not turning to look at me. Shit. He climbs gracefully on to the Jet Ski and holds out his hand for me to join him. Grasping it tightly, I manage to throw my leg over the seat behind him without falling into the water, while Taylor and the twins clamber into the motorboat. Christian kicks the Jet Ski away from the quay, and it floats gently into the marina.

"Hold on," he orders, and I put my arms around him. This is my favorite part of traveling by Jet Ski. I hug him closely, my nose nuzzling into his back, marveling that there was a time when he would not have tolerated me touching him this way. He smells good . . . of Christian and the sea. Forgive me, Christian, please?

He stiffens. "Steady," he says, his tone softer. I kiss his back and rest my cheek against him, looking back toward the quay where a few holidaymakers have gathered to watch the show.

Christian turns the key and the motor roars to life. With one twist of the accelerator, the Jet Ski bucks forward and speeds across the cool dark water, through the marina and out to the center of the harbor toward the Fair Lady. I hold him tighter. I love this - it's so exciting. Every muscle in Christian's lean frame is evident as I cling to him. Taylor pulls alongside in the motorboat. Christian glances at him then accelerates again, and we shoot forward, whipping over the top of the water like an expertly tossed pebble. Taylor shakes his head in resigned exasperation and heads straight to the yacht, while Christian shoots past the Fair Lady and heads out toward the open sea. The sea spray is splashing us, the warm wind buffeting my face and flaying my ponytail crazily around me. This is so much fun. Maybe the thrill of this ride will dispel Christian's bad mood. I can't see his face, but I know he's enjoying himself - carefree, acting his age for a change.

He steers in a huge semicircle and I study the shoreline - the boats in the marina, the mosaic of yellow, white and sand-colored offices and apartments, and the craggy mountains behind. It looks so disorganized - not the regimented blocks that I am used to - but so picturesque. Christian glances over his shoulder at me, and there's the ghost of a smile playing on his lips.

"Again?" he shouts over the noise of the engine.

I nod enthusiastically. His answering grin is dazzling, and he opens the throttle and speeds around the Fair Lady and on out to sea once more . . . and I think I'm forgiven.

"You've caught the sun," Christian says mildly as he undoes my life vest. I anxiously try to assess his mood. We are on deck aboard the yacht, and one of the stewards is standing quietly nearby, waiting for my life vest. Christian passes it to him.

"Will that be all, sir?" the young man asks. I love his French accent. Christian glances at me, takes off his shades, and slips them into the collar of his T-shirt, letting them hang.

"Would you like a drink?" he asks me.

"Do I need one?"

He cocks his head to one side.

"Why would you say that?" His voice is soft.

"You know why."

He frowns as if weighing something up in his mind. Oh, what is he thinking?

"Two gin and tonics, please. And some nuts and olives," he says to the steward, who nods and quickly vanishes.

"You think I'm going to punish you?" Christian's voice is silky.

"Do you want to?"

"Yes."

"How?"

"I'll think of something. Maybe when you've had your drink." And it's a sensual threat. I swallow, and my inner goddess blinks up from her sun lounger where she's trying to catch rays with a silver reflector fanned out at her neck.

Christian's frowns once more.

"You want to be?"

How does he know?

"Depends," I mutter, flushing.

"On what?" He hides his smile.

"If you want to hurt me or not."

His mouth presses into a hard line, humor forgotten. He leans forward and kisses my forehead.

"Anastasia, you're my wife, not my sub. I don't ever want to hurt you. You should know that by now. Just . . . just don't take your clothes off in public. I don't want you na**d all over the tabloids. You don't want that, and I'm sure your mom and Ray don't want that either."

Oh! Ray. Holy shit, he'd have a coronary. What was I thinking? I mentally castigate myself.

The steward appears with our drinks and snacks and places them on the teak table.

"Sit," Christian commands. I do as he says and settle into a director's chair. Christian takes a seat beside me and passes me a gin and tonic.

"Cheers, Mrs. Grey."

"Cheers, Mr. Grey."

I take a welcome sip. It's thirst-quenching, cold, and delicious. When I gaze at him, he's watching me carefully, his mood unreadable. It's very frustrating . . . I don't know if he's still mad at me. I deploy my patented distraction technique.

"Who owns this boat?" I ask.

"A British knight. Sir Somebody-or-Other. His great-grandfather started a grocery store. His daughter's married to one of the Crown Princes of Europe."

Oh. "Super-rich?"

Christian looks suddenly wary. "Yes."

"Like you," I murmur.

"Yes."

Oh.

"And like you," Christian whispers and pops an olive into his mouth. I blink rapidly . . . a vision of him in his tux and silver waistcoat comes to mind . . . his eyes burning with sincerity as he gazes down at me during our wedding ceremony.

"All that is mine is now yours," he says, his voice ringing out clearly reciting his vows from memory.

All mine? Holy cow.

"It's odd. Going from nothing to" - I wave my hand to indicate our opulent surroundings - "to everything."

"You'll get used to it."

"I don't think I'll ever get used to it."

Taylor appears on deck. "Sir, you have a call." Christian frowns but takes the proffered Blackberry.

"Grey," he snaps and rises from his seat to stand at the bow of the yacht.

I gaze out at the sea, tuning out his conversation with Ros - I think - his number two. I am rich . . . stinking rich. I have done nothing to earn this money . . . just married a rich man. I shudder as my mind drifts back to our conversation about prenups. It was Sunday after his birthday and we were seated at the kitchen table enjoying a leisurely breakfast . . . all of us, Elliot, Kate, Grace, and I were debating the merits of bacon versus sausage, while Carrick and Christian read the Sunday paper . . .

"Look at this," squeals Mia as she sets her netbook on the table before us on the kitchen table. "There's a gossipy item on the Seattle Nooz website about you being engaged, Christian."

"Already?" Grace says in surprise. Then her mouth purses as some obviously unpleasant thought crosses her mind. Christian frowns. Mia reads the column out loud. "Word has reached us here at The Nooz that Seattle's most eligible bachelor, the Christian Grey, has finally been snapped up and wedding bells are in the air. But who is the lucky, lucky lady? The Nooz is on the hunt. Bet she's reading one helluva prenup."

Mia giggles then stops abruptly as Christian glares at her. Silence descends, and the atmosphere in the Grey kitchen plunges to below zero.

Oh no! A prenup? The thought has never crossed my mind. I swallow, feeling all the blood drain from my face. Please ground, swallow me up now! Christian shifts uncomfortably in his chair as I glance apprehensively at him.

"No," he mouths at me.

"Christian," Carrick says gently.

"I'm not discussing this again," Christian snaps at Carrick who glances at me nervously and opens his mouth to say something.

"No prenup!" Christian almost shouts at him and broodingly goes back to reading his paper, ignoring everyone else at the table. They look alternately at me then him . . . then anywhere but at the two of us.

"Christian," I murmur. "I'll sign anything you and Mr. Grey want."

Jeez, it wouldn't be the first time he's made me sign something. Christian looks up and glares at me.

"No!" he snaps. I blanch once more.

"It's to protect you."

"Christian, Ana - I think you should discuss this in private," Grace admonishes us. She glares at Carrick and Mia. Oh dear, looks like they're in trouble, too.

"Ana, this is not about you," Carrick murmurs reassuringly. "And please call me Carrick."

Christian narrows cold eyes at his father and my heart sinks. Hell . . . He's really mad.

Everyone erupts into animated conversation, and Mia and Kate leap up to clear the table.

"I definitely prefer sausage," exclaims Elliot.

I stare down at my knotted fingers. Crap. I hope Mr. and Mrs. Grey don't think I'm some kind of gold digger. Christian reaches over and grasps both my hands gently in one of his.

"Stop it."

How does he know what I'm thinking?

"Ignore my dad," Christian says so only I can hear him. "He's really pissed about Elena. That stuff was all aimed at me. I wish my mom had kept her mouth shut."

I know Christian is still smarting from his "talk" with Carrick about Elena last night.

"He has a point, Christian. You're very wealthy, and I'm bringing nothing to our marriage but my student loans."

Christian gazes at me, his eyes bleak. "Anastasia, if you leave me, you might as well take everything. You left me once before. I know how that feels."

Holy Fuck! "That was different," I whisper, moved by his intensity.

"But . . . you might want to leave me." The thought makes me sick.

He snorts and shakes his head with mock disgust.

"Christian, you know, I might do something exceptionally stupid -

and you . . ." I glance down at my knotted hands, pain lancing through me unable to finish my sentence. Losing Christian . . . fuck.

"Stop. Stop now. This subject is closed, Ana. We're not discussing it any more. No prenup. Not now - not ever." He gives me a pointed give-it-up-now look, which silences me. Then he turns to Grace.

"Mom," he says. "Can we have the wedding here?"

And he's not mentioned it again. In fact at every opportunity he's tried to reassure me about his wealth . . . that's it mine, too. I shudder as I recall the crazy shopping fest Christian demanded I go on with Caroline Acton - the personal shopper from Niemans - in preparation for this honeymoon. My bikini alone cost five hundred and forty dollars. I mean, it's nice, but really - that's a ridiculous amount of money for four triangular scraps of material.

"You will get used to it," Christian interrupts my reverie as he resumes his place at the table.

"Used to it?"

"The money," he says rolling his eyes.

Oh, Fifty, maybe with time. I push the small dish of salted almonds and cashews toward him.

"Your nuts, sir," I say with as straight a face as I can manage, trying to bring some humor to our conversation after my dark thoughts and my bikini top faux pas.

He smirks. "I'm nuts about you." He takes an almond, his eyes sparkling with wicked humor as he enjoys my little joke. He licks his lips. "Drink up. We're going to bed."

What?

"Drink," he mouths at me, his eyes darkening.

Oh my, the look he gives me could be solely responsible for global warming. I pick up my gin and drain the glass, not taking my eyes off him. His mouth drops open, and I glimpse the tip of his tongue between his teeth. He smiles lewdly at me. In one fluid move, he gets up and bends over me, resting his hands on the arms of my chair.

"I'm going to make an example of you. Come. Don't pee," he whispers in my ear.

I gasp. Don't pee? How rude. My subconscious looks up from her book - The Complete works of Charles Dickens, Vol. 1 - with alarm.

"It's not what you think." Christian smirks, holding his hand out to me. "Trust me." He looks so sexy and genial. How can I resist?

"Okay." I place my hand in his, because quite simply, I'd trust him with my life. What has he got planned? My heart starts pounding in anticipation.

He leads me across the deck and through the doors into the plush, beautifully appointed main salon, along a narrow corridor, through the dining room, and down the stairs to the main master cabin. The cabin has been cleaned since this morning and the bed made. It's a lovely room. With two portholes on both the starboard and port sides, it's elegantly decorated in dark walnut furniture with cream walls and soft furnishings in gold and red.

Christian releases my hand, pulls his T-shirt off over his head, and tosses it onto a chair. He steps out of his flip-flops and removes his shorts and trunks in one graceful move . Oh my. Will I ever tire of looking at him na**d? He is utterly gorgeous, and all mine. His skin glows - he's caught the sun, too, and his hair is longer, flopping over his forehead. I am one lucky, lucky girl.

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