“Hey,” Christian’s says gently as he pulls me into his arms, “please don’t cry, Ana, please,” he begs. He’s on the bathroom floor, and I am in his lap. I put my arms around him and weep into his neck. Cooing softly into my hair, he gently strokes my back, my head.
“I’m sorry, baby,” he whispers, and that makes me cry harder and hug him tighter.
We sit like this forever. Eventually, when I’m all cried out, Christian staggers to his feet, holding me, and carries me into his room where he lays me down in the bed. In a few moments, he’s beside me and the lights are off. He pulls me into his arms, hugging me tightly, and I finally drift off into a dark and troubled sleep.
I awake with a jolt. My head is fuzzy and I’m too warm. Christian is wrapped around me like a vine. He grumbles in his sleep as I slip out of his arms, but he doesn’t wake. Sitting up I glance at the alarm clock. It’s three in the morning. I need an Advil and a drink. I swing my legs out of bed and make my way to the kitchen in the great room.
In the fridge, I find a carton of orange juice and pour myself a glass. Hmm . . . it’s delicious, and my fuzzy head eases immediately. I hunt through the cupboards looking for some painkillers and eventually come across a plastic box full of meds. I sink two Advil and pour myself another orange juice.
Wandering to the great wall of glass, I look out on a sleeping Seattle. The lights twinkle and wink beneath Christian’s castlein the sky, or should I say fortress? I press my forehead against the cool window—it’s a relief. I have so much to think about after all the revelations of yesterday. I place my back against the glass and slide down onto the floor. The great room is cavernous in the dark, the only light coming from the three lamps above the kitchen island.
Could I live here, married to Christian? After all that he’s done here? All the history this place holds for him?
Marriage. It’s almost unbelievable and completely unexpected. But then everything about Christian is unexpected. My lips quirk up with irony. Christian Grey, expect the unexpected—Fifty Shades of Fucked-Up.
My smile fades. I look like his mother. This wounds me, deeply, and the air leaves my lungs in a rush. We all look like his mom.
How the hell do I move on from the disclosure of that little secret? No wonder he didn’t want to tell me. But surely he can’t remember much of his mother. I wonder once more, if I should talk to Dr. Flynn. Would Christian let me? Perhaps he could fill in the gaps.
I shake my head. I feel world weary, but I’m enjoying the calm serenity of the great room and its beautiful works of art—cold and austere, but in their own way, still beautiful in the shadows and surely worth a fortune. Could I live here? For better, for worse? In sick-ness and in health? I close my eyes, lean my head back against the glass, and take a deep, cleansing breath.
The peaceful tranquility is shattered by a visceral, primeval cry that makes every single hair on my body stand to attention. Christian! Holy fuck—what’s happened? I am on my feet, running back to the bedroom before the echoes of that horrible sound have died away, my heart thumping with fear.
I flip one of the light switches, and Christian’s bedside light comes to life. He’s tossing and turning, writhing in agony. No! He cries out again, and the eerie, devastating sound lances through me anew.
“Christian!” I lean over him, grab his shoulders, and shake him awake. He opens his eyes, and they are wild and vacant, scanning quickly round the empty room before coming back to rest on me.
“You left, you left, you must have left,” he mumbles—his wide-eyed stare becoming accusatory—and he looks so lost, it wrenches at my heart. Poor Fifty.
“I’m here.” I sit down on the bed beside him. “I’m here,” I murmur softly in an effort to reassure him. I reach out to place my palm on the side of his face, trying to soothe him.
“You were gone,” he whispers rapidly. His eyes are still wild and frightened, but he seems to be calming.
“I went to get a drink. I was thirsty.”
He closes his eyes and rubs his face. When he opens them again, he looks so desolate.
“You’re here. Oh, thank God.” He reaches for me, and grabbing me tightly, he pulls me down on the bed beside him.
“I just went for a drink,” I murmur.
Oh, the intensity of his fear . . . I can feel it. His T-shirt is drenched in sweat, and his heartbeat is pounding as he hugs me close. He’s gazing at me as if reassuring himself that I am really here. I gently stroke his hair and then his cheek.
“Christian, please. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere,” I say soothingly.
“Oh, Ana,” he breathes. He grasps my chin to hold me in place, and then his mouth is on mine. Desire sweeps through him, and unbidden my body responds—it’s so tied and attuned to him. His lips are at my ear, my throat, then back at my mouth, his teeth gently pulling at my lower lip, his hand traveling up my body from my hip to my breast, dragging my T-shirt up. Caressing me, feeling his way through the dips and shallows of my skin, he elicits the same familiar reaction, his touch sending shivers through me. I moan as his hand cups my breast and his fingers tighten over my nipple.
“I want you,” he murmurs.
“I’m here for you. Only you, Christian.”
He groans and kisses me once more, passionately, with a fervor and desperation I’ve not felt from him before. Grabbing the hem of his T-shirt, I tug and he helps me pull it off over his head. Kneeling between my legs, he hastily pulls me upright and drags my T-shirt off. His eyes are serious, wanting, full of dark secrets—exposed. He folds his hands around my face and kisses me, and we sink down into the bed once more, his thigh between both of mine so that he’s half-lying on top of me. His erection is rigid against my hip through his boxer briefs. He wants me, but his words from earlier choose this moment to come back and haunt me, what he said about his mother. And it’s like a bucket of cold water on my libido. Fuck. I can’t do this. Not now.