Home > Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)(6)

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)(6)
E.L. James

"Ana, I think he definitely likes you," she says with no preamble whatsoever. Jose glares at me with disapproval. "But I don't trust him," she adds. I raise my hand up in the hope that she'll stop talking. By some miracle, she does.

"Kate, if you take the Beetle, can I take your car?"

"Why?"

"Christian Grey has asked me to go for coffee with him."

Her mouth pops open. Speechless Kate! I savor the moment. She grabs me by my arm and drags me into the bedroom that's off the living area of the suite.

"Ana, there's something about him." Her tone is full of warning. "He's gorgeous, I agree, but I think he's dangerous. Especially to someone like you."

"What do you mean, someone like me?" I demand, affronted.

"An innocent like you, Ana. You know what I mean," she says a little irritated. I flush.

"Kate, it's just coffee. I'm starting my exams this week, and I need to study, so I won't be long."

She purses her lips as if considering my request. Finally, she fishes her car keys out of her pocket and hands them to me. I hand her mine.

"I'll see you later. Don't be long, or I'll send out search and rescue."

"Thanks." I hug her.

I emerge from the suite to find Christian Grey waiting, leaning up against the wall, looking like a male model in a pose for some glossy high-end magazine.

"Okay, let's do coffee," I murmur, flushing a beet red.

He grins.

"After you, Miss Steele." He stands up straight, holding his hand out for me to go first.

I make my way down the corridor, my knees shaky, my stomach full of butterflies, and my heart in my mouth thumping a dramatic uneven beat. I am going to have coffee with Christian Grey... and I hate coffee.

We walk together down the wide hotel corridor to the elevators. What should I say to him My mind is suddenly paralyzed with apprehension. What are we going to talk about?

What on Earth do I have in common with himHis soft, warm voice startles me from my reverie.

"How long have you known Katherine Kavanagh?"

Oh, an easy questions for starters.

"Since our freshman year. She's a good friend."

"Hmm," he replies, non-committal. What is he thinking?

At the elevators, he presses the call button, and the bell rings almost immediately. The doors slide open revealing a young couple in a passionate clinch inside. Surprised and embarrassed, they jump apart, staring guiltily in every direction but ours. Grey and I step into the elevator.

I am struggling to maintain a straight face, so I gaze down at the floor, feeling my cheeks turning pink. When I peek up at Grey through my lashes, he has a hint of a smile on his lips, but it's very hard to tell. The young couple says nothing, and we travel down to the first floor in embarrassed silence. We don't even have trashy piped music to distract us.

The doors open and, much to my surprise, Grey takes my hand, clasping it with his long cool fingers. I feel the current run through me, and my already rapid heartbeat accelerates. As he leads me out of the elevator, we can hear the suppressed giggles of the couple erupting behind us. Grey grins.

"What is it about elevators?" he mutters.

We cross the expansive, bustling lobby of the hotel toward the entrance but Grey avoids the revolving door, and I wonder if that's because he'd have to let go of my hand.

Outside, it's a mild May Sunday. The sun is shining and the traffic is light. Grey turns left and strolls to the corner, where we stop waiting for the lights of the pedestrian crossing to change. He's still holding my hand. I'm in the street, and Christian Grey is holding my hand. No one has ever held my hand. I feel giddy, and I tingle all over. I attempt to smother the ridiculous grin that threatens to split my face in two. Try to be cool, Ana, my subconscious implores me. The green man appears, and we're off again.

We walk four blocks before we reach the Portland Coffee House, where Grey releases me to hold the door open so I can step inside.

"Why don't you choose a table, while I get the drinks. What would you like?" he asks, polite as ever.

"I'll have... um - English Breakfast tea, bag out."

He raises his eyebrows.

"No coffee?"

"I'm not keen on coffee."

He smiles.

"Okay, bag out tea. Sugar?"

For a moment, I'm stunned, thinking it's an endearment, but fortunately my subconscious kicks in with pursed lips. No, stupid - do you take sugar?

"No thanks." I stare down at my knotted fingers.

"Anything to eat?"

"No thank you." I shake my head, and he heads to the counter.

I surreptitiously gaze at him from beneath my lashes as he stands in line waiting to be served. I could watch him all day... he's tall, broad-shouldered, and slim, and the way those pants hang from his hips... Oh my. Once or twice he runs his long, graceful fingers through his now dry but still disorderly hair. Hmm... I'd like to do that. The thought comes unbidden into my mind, and my face flames. I bite my lip and stare down at my hands again not liking where my wayward thoughts are headed.

"Penny for your thoughts?" Grey is back, startling me.

I go crimson. I was just thinking about running my fingers through your hair and wondering if it would feel soft to touch. I shake my head. He's carrying a tray, which he sets down on the small, round, birch-veneer table. He hands me a cup and saucer, a small teapot, and a side plate bearing a lone teabag labeled 'Twinings English Breakfast' - my favorite. He has a coffee which bears a wonderful leaf-pattern imprinted in the milk. How do they do that I wonder idly. He's also bought himself a blueberry muffin. Putting the tray aside, he sits opposite me and crosses his long legs. He looks so comfortable, so at ease with his body, I envy him. Here's me, all gawky and uncoordinated, barely able to get from A to B without falling flat on my face.

"Your thoughts?" he prompts me.

"This is my favorite tea." My voice is quiet, breathy. I simply can't believe I'm sitting opposite Christian Grey in a coffee shop in Portland. He frowns. He knows I'm hiding something. I pop the teabag into the teapot and almost immediately fish it out again with my teaspoon. As I place the used teabag back on the side plate, he cocks his head gazing quizzically at me.

"I like my tea black and weak," I mutter as an explanation.

"I see. Is he your boyfriend?"

Whoa... What

"Who?"

"The photographer. Jose Rodriguez."

I laugh, nervous but curious. What gave him that impression?

"No. Jose's a good friend of mine, that's all. Why did you think he was my boyfriend?"

"The way you smiled at him, and he at you." His gray gaze holds mine. He's so unnerving. I want to look away but I'm caught - spellbound.

"He's more like family," I whisper.

Grey nods slightly, seemingly satisfied with my response, and glances down at his blueberry muffin. His long fingers deftly peel back the paper, and I watch, fascinated.

"Do you want some?" he asks, and that amused, secret smile is back.

"No thanks." I frown and stare down at my hands again.

"And the boy I met yesterday, at the store. He's not your boyfriend?"

"No. Paul's just a friend. I told you yesterday." Oh, this is getting silly. "Why do you ask?""You seem nervous around men."

Holy crap, that's personal. I'm just nervous around you, Grey.

"I find you intimidating." I flush scarlet, but mentally pat myself on the back for my candor, and gaze at my hands again. I hear his sharp intake of breath.

"You should find me intimidating," he nods. "You're very honest. Please don't look down. I like to see your face."

Oh. I glance at him, and he gives me an encouraging but wry smile.

"It gives me some sort of clue what you might be thinking," he breathes. "You're a mystery, Miss Steele.

MysteriousMe?

"There's nothing mysterious about me."

"I think you're very self-contained," he murmurs.

Am IWow... how am I managing that This is bewildering. Me, self-contained?

No Way.

"Except when you blush, of course, which is often. I just wish I knew what you were blushing about." He pops a small piece of muffin into his mouth and starts to chew it slowly, not taking his eyes off me. And as if on cue, I blush. Crap!

"Do you always make such personal observations?"

"I hadn't realized I was. Have I offended you?" He sounds surprised.

"No," I answer truthfully.

"Good."

"But you're very high-handed," I retaliate quietly.

He raises his eyebrows and, if I'm not mistaken, he flushes slightly too.

"I'm used to getting my own way, Anastasia," he murmurs. "In all things."

"I don't doubt it. Why haven't you asked me to call you by your first name?" I'm surprised by my audacity. Why has this conversation become so seriousThis isn't going the way I thought it was going to go. I can't believe I'm feeling so antagonistic towards him.

It's like he's trying to warn me off.

"The only people who use my given name are my family and a few close friends.

That's the way I like it."

Oh. He still hasn't said, 'Call me Christian.' He is a control freak, there's no other explanation, and part of me is thinking maybe it would have been better if Kate had interviewed him. Two control freaks together. Plus of course she's almost blonde - well, strawberry blonde - like all the women in his office. And she's beautiful, my subconscious reminds me. I don't like the idea of Christian and Kate. I take a sip of my tea, and Grey eats another small piece of his muffin.

"Are you an only child?" he asks.

Whoa... he keeps changing direction.

"Yes."

"Tell me about your parents."

Why does he want to know thisIt's so dull.

"My mom lives in Georgia with her new husband Bob. My stepdad lives in Montesano."

"Your father?"

"My father died when I was a baby."

"I'm sorry," he mutters and a fleeting troubled look crosses his face.

"I don't remember him."

"And your mother remarried?"

I snort.

"You could say that."

He frowns at me.

"You're not giving much away, are you?" he says dryly, rubbing his chin as if in deep thought.

"Neither are you."

"You've interviewed me once already, and I can recollect some quite probing questions then." He smirks at me.

Holy shit. He's remembering the 'gay' question. Once again, I'm mortified. In years to come, I know, I'll need intensive therapy to not feel this embarrassed every time I recall the moment. I start babbling about my mother - anything to block that memory.

"My mom is wonderful. She's an incurable romantic. She's currently on her fourth husband."

Christian raises his eyebrows in surprise.

"I miss her," I continue. "She has Bob now. I just hope he can keep an eye on her and pick up the pieces when her harebrained schemes don't go as planned." I smile fondly. I haven't seen my mom for so long. Christian is watching me intently, taking occasional sips of his coffee. I really shouldn't look at his mouth. It's unsettling. Those lips.

"Do you get along with your stepfather?"

"Of course. I grew up with him. He's the only father I know."

"And what's he like?"

"RayHe's... taciturn."

"That's it?" Grey asks, surprised.

I shrug. What does this man expectMy life story?

"Taciturn like his stepdaughter," Grey prompts.

I refrain from rolling my eyes at him.

"He likes soccer - European soccer especially - and bowling, and fly-fishing, and making furniture. He's a carpenter. Ex-army." I sigh.

"You lived with him?"

"Yes. My mom met Husband Number Three when I was fifteen. I stayed with Ray."

He frowns as if he doesn't understand.

"You didn't want to live with your mom?" he asks.

I blush. This really is none of his business.

"Husband Number Three lived in Texas. My home was in Montesano. And... you know my mom was newly married." I stop. My mom never talks about Husband Number Three. Where is Grey going with thisThis is none of his business. Two can play at this game.

"Tell me about your parents," I ask.

He shrugs.

"My dad's a lawyer, my mom is a pediatrician. They live in Seattle."

Oh... he's had an affluent upbringing. And I wonder about a successful couple who adopt three kids, and one of them turns into a beautiful man who takes on the business world and conquers it single-handed. What drove him to be that wayHis folks must be proud.

"What do your siblings do?"

"Elliot's in construction, and my little sister is in Paris, studying cookery under some renowned French chef." His eyes cloud with irritation. He doesn't want to talk about his family or himself.

"I hear Paris is lovely," I murmur. Why doesn't he want to talk about his familyIs it because he's adopted?

"It's beautiful. Have you been?" he asks, his irritation forgotten.

"I've never left mainland USA." So now we're back to banalities. What is he hiding?

"Would you like to go?"

"To Paris?" I squeak. This has thrown me - who wouldn't want to go to Paris"Of course," I concede. "But it's England that I'd really like to visit."

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