“Do you have anything in mind?” Christian murmurs, pinning me with his bold gaze. I shrug, suddenly breathless and agitated. I don’t know if it’s the chase, the adrenaline, my earlier bad mood—I don’t understand, but I want this, and I want it badly. A puzzled expression flits across Christian’s face. “Kinky fuckery?” he asks, his words a soft caress.
I nod, feeling my face flame. Why am I embarrassed by this? I have done all manner of kinky fuckery with this man. He’s my husband, damn it! Am I embarrassed because I want this and I’m ashamed to admit it? My subconscious glares at me. Stop overthinking.
“Carte blanche?” He whispers the question, eyeing me speculatively as if he’s trying to read my mind.
Carte blanche? Holy fuck—what will that entail? “Yes,” I murmur nervously, as excitement blooms deep inside me. He smiles a slow sexy smile.
“Come,” he says and tugs me toward the stairs. His intention is clear. Playroom! My inner goddess wakes from her post-R8-sex slumber, wide-eyed and rar-ing to go.
At the top of the stairs, he releases my hand and unlocks the playroom door.
The key is on the Yes Seattle keychain that I gave him not so long ago.
“After you, Mrs. Grey,” he says and swings the door open.
The playroom smells reassuringly familiar, of leather and wood and fresh polish. I blush, knowing that Mrs. Jones must have been in here cleaning while we were away on our honeymoon. As we enter, Christian switches on the lights and the dark red walls are illuminated with soft, diffused light. I stand gazing at him, anticipation running thick and heavy through my veins. What will he do? He locks the door and turns. Inclining his head to one side, he regards me thoughtfully and then shakes his head, amused.
“What do you want, Anastasia?” he asks gently.
“You.” My response is breathy.
He smirks. “You’ve got me. You’ve had me since you fell into my office.”
“Surprise me then, Mr. Grey.”
His mouth twists with repressed humor and carnal promise. “As you wish, Mrs. Grey.” He folds his arms and raises one long index finger to his lips while he appraises me. “I think we’ll start by ridding you of your clothes.” He steps forward. Grasping the front of my short denim jacket, he opens it and pushes it over my shoulders so it falls to the floor. He clasps the hem of my black camisole.
“Lift your arms.”
I obey, and he peels it off over my head. Leaning down, he plants a soft kiss on my lips, his eyes glowing with an alluring mix of lust and love. The camisole joins my jacket on the floor.
“Here,” I whisper gazing nervously at him as I remove the hair tie from around my wrist and hold it up for him. He stills, and his eyes widen briefly but give nothing away. Finally, he takes the small band.
“Turn around,” he orders.
Relieved, I smile to myself and oblige immediately. Looks like we’ve over-come that little hurdle. He gathers my hair and braids it quickly and efficiently before fastening it with the tie. He tugs the braid, pulling my head back.
“Good thinking, Mrs. Grey,” he whispers in my ear, then nips my earlobe.
“Now turn around and take your skirt off. Let it fall to the floor.” He releases me and steps back as I turn to face him. Not taking my eyes off his, I unbutton the waistband of my skirt and ease the zipper down. The full skirt fans out and falls to the floor, pooling at my feet.
“Step out from your skirt,” he orders. As I step toward him, he kneels swiftly down in front of me and grasps my right ankle. Deftly, he unbuckles my sandals one at a time while I lean forward, balancing myself with a hand on the wall under the pegs that used to hold all his whips, crops and paddles. The flogger and the riding crop are the only implements that remain. I eye them with curiosity. Will he use those?
Having removed my shoes so I’m just in my lacy bra and panties, Christian sits back on his heels, gazing up at me. “You’re a fine sight, Mrs. Grey.” Suddenly he kneels up, grabs my hips and pulls me forward, burying his nose in the apex of my thighs. “And you smell of you and me and sex,” he says inhaling sharply. “It’s intoxicating.” He kisses me through my lace panties, while I gasp at his words—my insides liquefying. He’s just so . . . naughty. Gathering up my clothes and sandals, he stands in one swift, graceful move, like an athlete.
“Go and stand beside the table,” he says calmly, pointing with his chin. Turning, he strides over to the museum chest of wonder.
He glances back and smirks at me. “Face the wall,” he commands. “That way you won’t know what I’m planning. We aim to please, Mrs. Grey, and you wanted a surprise.”
I turn away from him listening acutely—my ears suddenly sensitive to the slightest sound. He’s good at this—building my expectations, stoking my desire . . . making me wait. I hear him put my shoes down and, I think, my clothes on the chest, followed by the telltale clatter of his shoes as they drop to the floor, one at a time. Hmm . . . love barefoot Christian. A moment later, I hear him pull open a drawer.
Toys! Oh, I love, love, love this anticipation. The drawer closes and my breathing spikes. How can the sound of a drawer render me a quivering mess? It makes no sense. The subtle hiss of the sound system coming to life tells me it’s going to be a musical interlude. A lone piano starts, muted and soft, and mournful chords fill the room. It’s not a tune I know. The piano is joined by an electric guitar. What is this? A man’s voice speaks and I can just make out the words, something about not being frightened of dying.
Christian pads leisurely toward me, his bare feet slapping on the wooden floor. I sense him behind me as a woman starts to sing . . . wail . . . sing?
“Rough, you say, Mrs. Grey?” he breathes in my left ear.
“You must tell me to stop if it’s too much. If you say stop, I will stop immediately. Do you understand?”
“I need your promise.”
I inhale sharply. Shit, what is he going to do? “I promise,” I murmur breathless, recalling his words from earlier: I don’t want to hurt you, but I’m more than happy to play.
“Good girl.” Leaning down, he plants a kiss on my naked shoulder then hooks a finger beneath my bra strap and traces a line across my back beneath the strap. I want to moan. How does he make the slightest touch so erotic?
“Take it off,” he whispers at my ear, and hurriedly I oblige and let my bra fall to the floor.
His hands skim down my back, and he hooks both of his thumbs into my panties and slides them down my legs.
“Step,” he orders. Once more I do as I’m told, stepping out of my panties. He plants a kiss on my backside and stands.
“I am going to blindfold you so that everything will be more intense.” He slips an airline eye mask over my eyes, and my world is plunged into the darkness. The woman singing moans incoherently . . . a haunting, heartfelt melody.
“Bend down and lie flat on the table.” His words are softly spoken. “Now.”
Without hesitation, I bend over the side of the table and rest my torso on the highly polished wood, my face flush against the hard surface. It’s cool against my skin and it smells vaguely of beeswax with a citrus tang.
“Stretch your arms up and hold on to the edge.”
Okay . . . Reaching forward, I clutch the far edge of the table. It’s quite wide, so my arms are fully extended.
“If you let go, I will spank you. Do you understand?”
“Do you want me to spank you, Anastasia?”
Everything south of my waist tightens deliciously. I realize I’ve wanted this since he threatened me during lunch, and neither the car chase nor our subsequent intimate encounter has sated this need.
“Yes.” My voice is a hoarse whisper.
Oh . . . do I have to have a reason? Jeez. I shrug.
“Tell me,” he coaxes.
“Um . . .”
And from out of nowhere he smacks me hard.
“Ah!” I cry out.
He gently rubs my behind where he’s hit me. Then he leans over me, his hips digging into my backside, plants a kiss between my shoulder blades and trails kisses across my back. He’s taken his shirt off, so his chest hair tickles my back, and his erection presses against me through the rough fabric of his jeans.
“Open your legs,” he orders.
I move my legs apart.
I groan and spread my legs wider.
“Good girl,” he breathes. He traces his finger down my back, along the crack between my buttocks, and over my anus, which shrinks at his touch.
“We’re going to have with some fun with this,” he whispers.
His finger continues down over my perineum and slowly slides into me.
“I see you’re very wet, Anastasia. From earlier or from now?”
I groan and he eases his finger in and out of me, over and over. I push back on his hand, relishing the intrusion.
“Oh, Ana, I think it’s both. I think you love being here, like this. Mine.”
I do—oh, I do. He withdraws his finger and smacks me hard once more.
“Tell me,” he whispers, his voice hoarse and urgent.
“Yes, I do,” I whimper.
He smacks me hard once more so I cry out, then sticks two fingers inside me.
He withdraws them immediately, spreading the moisture up over and around my anus.
“What are you going to do?” I ask, breathless. Oh my . . . is he going to fuck my ass?
“It’s not what you think,” he murmurs reassuringly. “I told you, one step at time with this, baby.” I hear the quiet spurt of some liquid, presumably from a tube, then his fingers are massaging me there again. Lubricating me . . . there! I squirm as my fear collides with my excitement of the unknown. He smacks me once more, lower, so he hits my sex. I groan. It feels . . . so good.
“Keep still,” he says. “And don’t let go.”
“This is lube.” He spreads some more on me. I try not to wriggle beneath him, but my heart is pounding, my pulse haywire, as desire and anxiety pump through me.
“I have wanted to do this to you for some time now, Ana.”
I groan. And I feel something cool, metallically cool, run down my spine.
“I have a small present for you here,” Christian whispers.
An image from our show-and-tell springs to mind. Holy cow. A butt plug.
Christian runs it down the parting between my buttocks.
“I am going to push this inside you, very slowly.”
I gasp, anticipation and anxiety charging through me.
“Will it hurt?”
“No, baby. It’s small. Once it’s inside you, I’m going to fuck you real hard.”
I practically convulse. Bending over me, he kisses me once more between my shoulder blades.
“Ready?” he whispers.
Ready? Am I ready for this?
“Yes,” I mutter quietly, my mouth dry. He runs another finger down past my ass and perineum and slips it inside me. Fuck, it’s his thumb. He cups my sex and his fingers gently caress my clitoris. I moan . . . it feels . . . good. And gently, while his fingers and thumb work their magic, he pushes the cold plug slowly into me.
“Ah!” I groan loudly at the unfamiliar sensation, my muscles protesting at the intrusion. He circles his thumb inside me and pushes the plug harder, and it slips in easily, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m so turned on or if he’s distracted me with his expert fingers, but my body seems to accept it. It’s heavy . . . and strange . . . there!
And I can feel it . . . where his thumb swirls inside me . . . and the plug presses against . . . oh, ah . . . He slowly twists the plug, eliciting a long drawn-out moan from me.
“Christian,” I mumble, his name a garbled mantra, as I adjust to the sensation.
“Good girl,” he murmurs. He runs his free hand down my side until it reaches my hip. Slowly he withdraws his thumb, and I hear the telltale sound of his zipper opening. Grasping my other hip, he pulls me back and parts my legs further, his foot pushing against mine. “Don’t let go of the table, Ana,” he warns.
“No,” I gasp.
“Something rough? Tell me if I’m too rough. Understand?”
“Yes,” I whisper, and he slams into me and pulls me onto him at the same time, jolting the plug forward, deeper . . .
“Fuck!” I cry out.
He stills, his breathing harsher and my panting matches his. I try to assimilate all the sensations: the delicious fullness, the tantalizing feeling that I am doing something forbidden, the erotic pleasure that spirals outward from deep within me. He pulls gently on the plug.
Oh jeez . . . I moan, and I hear his sharp intake of breath—a gasp of pure, unadulterated pleasure. It heats my blood. Have I ever felt so wanton . . . so—
“Again?” he whispers.
“Stay flat,” he orders. He eases out of me and rams into me again.
Oh . . . I wanted this. “Yes,” I hiss.
And he picks up the pace, his breathing more labored, matching my own as he thrashes into me.
“Oh, Ana,” he gasps. He moves one of his hands from my hips and twists the plug again, tugging it slowly, pulling it out and pushing it back in. The feeling is indescribable, and I think I’m going to pass out on the table. He never misses a beat as he takes me, again and again, moving strong and hard inside me, my insides tightening and quivering.
“Oh fuck,” I moan. This is going to rip me apart.
“Yes, baby,” he hisses.
“Please,” I beg him and I don’t know what for—to stop, to never stop, to twist the plug again. My insides are tightening around him and the plug.
“That’s right,” he breathes, and he slaps me hard on my right buttock, and I come—again and again, falling, falling, spinning, pulsing around and around—and Christian gently pulls the plug out.
“Fuck! ” I scream and Christian grabs my hips and climaxes loudly, holding me still.
The woman is still singing. Christian always puts songs on repeat in here. Strange.
I am curled in his arms on his lap our legs tangled together, with my head resting against his chest. We’re on the floor of the playroom by the table.
“Welcome back,” he says, peeling the blindfold off me. I blink as my eyes adjust to the muted light. Tipping my chin back, he plants a soft kiss on my lips, his eyes focused on and anxiously searching mine. I reach up to caress his face.
“Well, did I fulfill the brief?” he asks, amused.
I frown. “Brief?”
“You wanted rough,” he says gently.
I grin, because I just can’t help it. “Yes. I think you did . . .”
He raises his eyebrows and grins back at me. “I’m very glad to hear it Mrs.
Grey. You look thoroughly well fucked and beautiful at this moment.” He caresses my face, his long fingers stroking my cheek.
“I feel it,” I purr.
He reaches down and kisses me tenderly, his lips soft and warm and giving against mine. “You never disappoint.” He leans back to gaze down at me. “How do you feel?” His voice is soft with concern.
“Good,” I murmur, feeling a flush creep across my face. “Thoroughly well fucked.” I smile shyly.
“Why, Mrs. Grey, you have a dirty, dirty mouth.” Christian feigns an offended expression, but I can hear his amusement.
“That’s because I’m married to a dirty, dirty boy, Mr. Grey.”
He grins a ridiculously stupid grin and it’s infectious. “I’m glad you’re married to him.” He gently takes hold of my braid, lifts it to his lips, and kisses the end with reverence, his eyes glowing with love. Oh my . . . did I ever have a chance of resisting this man?
I reach for his left hand and plant a kiss on his wedding ring, a plain platinum band matching my own. “Mine,” I whisper.
“Yours,” he responds. He curls his arms around me and presses his nose into my hair. “Shall I run you a bath?”
“Hmm. Only if you join me in it.”
“Okay,” he says. He sets me onto my feet and stands up beside me. He’s still wearing his jeans.
“Will you wear your . . . er . . . other jeans?”
He frowns down at me. “Other jeans?”
“The ones you used to wear in here.”
“Those jeans?” he murmurs blinking with perplexed surprise.
“You look very hot in them.”
“Yeah . . . I mean, really hot.”
He smiles, shyly. “Well for you, Mrs. Grey, maybe I will.” He bends to kiss me then grabs the small bowl on the table that contains the butt plug, the tube of lubricant, the blindfold, and my panties.
“Who cleans these toys?” I ask as I follow him over to the chest.
He frowns at me, as if not understanding the question. “Me. Mrs. Jones.”
He nods, amused and embarrassed, I think. He switches off the music.
“Well—um . . .”
“Your subs used to do it?” I finish his sentence. He gives me an apologetic shrug.
“Here.” He hands me his shirt and I put it on, wrapping it around myself. His scent still clings to the linen, and my chagrin about butt plug washing is forgotten.
He leaves the items on the chest. Taking my hand, he unlocks the playroom door then leads me out and downstairs. I follow him meekly.
The anxiety, the bad mood, the thrill, fear, and excitement of the car chase have all gone. I’m relaxed—finally sated and calm. As we enter our bathroom, I yawn loudly and stretch . . . at ease with myself for a change.
“What is it?” Christian asks as he turns on the faucet.
I shake my head.
“Tell me,” he asks softly. He spills jasmine bath oil into the running water, filling the room with its sweet, sensual scent.
I flush. “I just feel better.”
He smiles. “Yes, you’ve been in a strange mood today, Mrs. Grey.” Standing, he pulls me into his arms. “I know you’re worrying about these recent events. I’m sorry you’re caught up in them. I don’t know if it’s a vendetta, an ex-employee, or a business rival. If anything were to happen to you because of me—” His voice drops to a pained whisper. I curl my arms around him.
“What if something happens to you, Christian?” I voice my fear.
He gazes down at me. “We’ll figure this out. Now let’s get you out of this shirt and into this bath.”
“Shouldn’t you talk to Sawyer?”
“He can wait.” His mouth hardens, and I feel a sudden pang of pity for Sawyer. What’s he done to upset Christian?
Christian helps me out of his shirt then frowns as I turn to him. My breasts still bear faded bruises from the love bites he gave me during our honeymoon, but I decide not to tease him about them.
“I wonder if Ryan has caught up with the Dodge?”
“We’ll see, after this bath. Get in.” He holds his hand out for me. I climb into the hot, fragrant water and sit tentatively.
“Ow.” My ass is tender, and the hot water makes me wince.
“Easy, baby,” Christian warns, but as he says it, the uncomfortable sensation melts away.
Christian strips and climbs in behind me, pulling me against his chest. I nestle between his legs, and we lie idle and content in the hot water. I run my fingers down his legs, and gathering my braid in one hand, he twirls it gently between his fingers.
“We need to go over the plans for the new house. Later this evening?”
“Sure.” That woman is coming back again. My subconscious gazes up from volume 3 of The Complete Works of Charles Dickens and glowers. I’m with my subconscious. I sigh. Unfortunately, Gia Matteo’s designs are breathtaking.
“I must get my things ready for work,” I whisper.
He stills. “You know you don’t have to go back to work,” he murmurs.
Oh no . . . not this again. “Christian, we’ve been through this. Please don’t re-surrect that argument.”
He tugs my braid so my face tilts up and back. “Just saying . . .” He plants a soft kiss on my lips.
I pull on sweat pants and a camisole and decide to fetch my clothes from the playroom. As I make my way across the hallway, I hear Christian’s raised voice from his study. I freeze.
“Where the fuck were you?”
Oh shit. He’s shouting at Sawyer. Cringing, I dash upstairs to the playroom. I really don’t want to hear what he has to say to him—I still find shouty Christian intimidating. Poor Sawyer. At least I get to shout back.
I gather up my clothes and Christian’s shoes, then notice the small porcelain bowl with the butt plug still on top of the museum chest. Well . . . I suppose I should clean it. I add it to the pile and make my way back downstairs. I glance nervously through the great room, but all is quiet. Thank heavens.
Taylor will be back tomorrow evening, and Christian is generally calmer when he’s around. Taylor is spending some quality time today and tomorrow with his daughter. I wonder idly if I’ll ever get to meet her.
Mrs. Jones comes out of the utility room. We startle each other.
“Mrs. Grey—I didn’t see you there.” Oh, I’m Mrs. Grey now! “Hello, Mrs. Jones.”
“Welcome home and congratulations.” She smiles.
“Please call me Ana.”
“Mrs. Grey, I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that.”
Oh! Why must everything change just because I have a ring on my finger?
“Would you like to run through the menus for the week?” she asks, looking at me expectantly.
“Um . . .” This is not a question I have ever anticipated being asked.
She smiles. “When I first worked for Mr. Grey, every Sunday evening I would run through the menus for the upcoming week with him and list anything he might need from the grocery store.”
“Shall I take those for you?”
She holds out her hands for my clothes.
“Oh . . . um. Actually I haven’t finished with these.” And they are hiding the bowl with the butt plug in! I turn crimson. It’s a wonder I can look Mrs. Jones in the eye. She knows what we do—she cleans the room. Jeez, it’s just weird having no privacy.
“When you’re ready, Mrs. Grey. I’d be more than happy to run through things with you.”
“Thank you.” We are interrupted by an ashen-faced Sawyer who stalks out of Christian’s study and briskly crosses the great room. He gives us both a brief nod, not looking either of us in the eye, and slinks into Taylor’s study. I’m grateful for his intervention as I don’t wish to discuss menus or butt plugs with Mrs. Jones right now. Offering her a brief smile, I scurry back to the bedroom. Will I ever get used to having domestic staff at my beck and call? I shake my head . . . one day, maybe.
I dump Christian’s shoes on the floor and my clothes on the bed, and take the bowl with the butt plug into the bathroom. I eye it suspiciously. It looks innocuous enough, and surprisingly clean. I don’t want to dwell on that, and I wash it quickly with soap and water. Will that be enough? I’ll have to ask Mr. Sexpert if it should be sterilized or something. I shudder at the thought.
I like that Christian has turned the library over to me. It now houses an attractive white wooden desk I can work at. I take out my laptop and check my notes on the five manuscripts I read on honeymoon.
Yep, I have everything I need. Part of me dreads going back to work, but I can never tell Christian that. He’d seize on the opportunity to make me quit. I remember Roach’s apoplectic reaction when I told him I was getting married and to whom, and how, shortly afterward, my position was confirmed. I realize now it was because I was marrying the boss. The thought is unwelcome. I am no longer acting commissioning editor—I am Anastasia Steele, Commissioning Editor.
I haven’t yet plucked up the courage to tell Christian that I am not going to change my name at work. I think my reasons are solid. I need some distance from him, but I know there will be a fight when he finally realizes that. Perhaps I should discuss this with him tonight.
Sitting back in my chair, I start my final chore of the day. I glance at the digital clock on my laptop, which tells me it’s seven in the evening. Christian still hasn’t emerged from his study, so I have time. Taking the memory card out of the Nikon camera, I load it into the laptop to transfer the photographs. As the pictures upload, I reflect on the day. Is Ryan back? Or is he still on his way to Portland?
Has he caught up with the mystery woman? Has Christian heard from him? I want some answers. I don’t care that he’s busy; I want to know what’s going on, and I suddenly feel a tad resentful that he’s keeping me in the dark. I rise, intending to go and confront him in his study, but as I do the photos from the last few days of our honeymoon pop up onscreen.
Picture after picture of me. Asleep, so many of me asleep, my hair over my face or fanned out across the pillow, lips parted . . . shit—sucking my thumb. I haven’t sucked my thumb for years! So many photos. I had no idea he’d taken these. There are a few candid long shots, including one of me leaning over the rail of the yacht, staring moodily into the distance. How did I not notice him taking this? I smile at the photos of me curled up beneath him and laughing—my hair flying as I struggle, fighting his tickling, tormenting fingers. And there’s the one of him and me on the bed in the master cabin that he took at arm’s length. I am cuddled on his chest and he gazes at the camera, young, wide-eyed . . . in love.
His other hand cups my head, and I am smiling like a love-struck fool, but I cannot take my eyes off Christian. Oh, my beautiful man, his ruffled just-fucked hair, his gray eyes glowing, his lips parted and smiling. My beautiful man who cannot bear to be tickled, who could not bear to be touched just a short while ago, yet now he tolerates my touch. I must ask him if he likes it, or whether he lets me touch him for my pleasure rather than his.
I frown, gazing down at his image, suddenly overwhelmed by my feelings for him. Someone out there wants to harm him—first Charlie Tango, then the fire at GEH, and that damned car chase. I gasp, putting my hand to my mouth as an in-voluntary sob escapes. Abandoning my computer, I leap up to find him—not to confront him now—just to check that he’s safe.
Not bothering to knock, I barge into his study. Christian is sitting at his desk and talking on the phone. He looks up in surprised annoyance, but the irritation on his face disappears when he sees it’s me.
“So you can’t enhance it further?” he says, continuing his phone conversation, though he doesn’t take his eyes off me. Without hesitation, I walk around his desk, and he turns in his chair to face me, frowning. I can tell he’s thinking what does she want? When I crawl onto his lap, his eyebrows shoot up in surprise. I put my arms around his neck and cuddle into him. Gingerly, he puts his arm around me.
“Um . . . yes, Barney. Could you hold one moment?” He cups the phone against his shoulder.
“Ana, what’s wrong?”
I shake my head. Tipping my chin up, he gazes into my eyes. I pull my head free from his hold, tuck it beneath his chin, and curl up smaller on his lap.
Bemused, he wraps his free arm more tightly around me and kisses the top of my head.
“Okay, Barney, what were you saying?” He continues, wedging the phone between his ear and his shoulder, and taps a key on his laptop. A grainy black and white CCTV image appears on the screen. A man with dark hair wearing pale coveralls comes on the screen. Christian presses another key, and the man walks toward the camera, but with his head bowed. When the man is closer to the camera, Christian freezes the frame. He’s standing in a bright white room with what looks like a long line of tall black cabinets to his left. This must be GEH’s server room.
“Okay Barney, one more time.”
The screen springs to life. A box appears around the head of the man in the CCTV footage and suddenly we zoom in. I sit up, fascinated.
“Is Barney doing this?” I ask quietly.
“Yes,” Christian answers. “Can you sharpen the picture at all?” he says to Barney.
The picture blurs, then refocuses moderately sharper of the man consciously gazing down and avoiding the CCTV camera. As I stare at him, a chill of recognition sweeps up my spine. There is something familiar in the line of his jaw. He has scruffy short black hair that looks odd and unkempt . . . and in the newly sharpened picture, I see an earring, a small hoop.
Holy crap! I know who it is.
“Christian,” I whisper. “That’s Jack Hyde.”